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: King Arthur's Socks and Other Village Plays
Author: Dell, Floyd
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 "King Arthur's Socks and Other Village Plays" ***

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




These plays, with one exception, were written in Greenwich Village,
and, with another exception, first performed there--some at the old
Liberal Club, and others by the Provincetown Players. They are
souvenirs of an intellectual play-time which, being dead, deserves some
not-too-solemn memorial.

F. D.


HUMAN NATURE: A Very Short Morality Play,



LEGEND: A Romance,


A LONG TIME AGO: A Tragic Fantasy,

ENIGMA: A Domestic Conversation,

IBSEN REVISITED: A Piece of Foolishness,







This is a much changed version of "A Five Minute Problem Play,"
originally given at the Liberal Club, New York City, in 1913.

_Boundless blue space. Two celestial figures stand in front of it,
talking. One of them carries a pointer, such as is used in class-room
demonstrations at the blackboard. The other has a red-covered guidebook
under his arm_.

THE FIRST CELESTIAL FIGURE (_the one with the pointer_) Well, I
think that is all. You've seen everything now.

THE SECOND CELESTIAL FIGURE (_the One With the guidebook_) It has all
been very interesting, and I don't know how to thank you for the
trouble you've taken.

THE FIRST CELESTIAL FIGURE. Don't mention it. That's my business, you
know--to show young and curious Spirits what there is to see in the
universe. And I must say that you've been an exceptionally patient
pupil. I don't usually take as much time with youngsters as I have with
you. But when I find someone as interested in the universe as you are,
I don't mind spending a few more eons on the job. We've been all
around, this trip. I don't believe we've missed anything of any
importance. But if there is anything else you can think of that you'd
like to see--

THE SECOND CELESTIAL FIGURE. (_hesitantly_) Well, there is one
place . . . It's only mentioned in a footnote in the guide-book, but
for that very reason I thought perhaps--

THE FIRST CELESTIAL FIGURE. You have the right attitude. There's
nothing too small or insignificant to know about. Do you remember the
name of the place?

THE SECOND CELESTIAL FIGURE. No, but--(_He turns the leaves of the
guide-book_.) Here it is. (_He holds the book closer so as to read
the fine print at the bottom of the page_.) Earth, it's called.

THE FIRST CELESTIAL FIGURE. Ah, yes, there is such a place. . . .

THE SECOND CELESTIAL FIGURE. The guide-book doesn't give any
information about it. Just mentions its name.

THE FIRST CELESTIAL FIGURE. Well, there isn't very much to say about
it. After what you've seen, you wouldn't be impressed by its art or its
architecture, . . . Still, it has one curious feature that perhaps
you'd be interested in. It's--

_He pauses_.


THE FIRST CELESTIAL FIGURE. Perhaps I had better just show you, and let
you make what you can of it.

THE SECOND CELESTIAL FIGURE. (_deferentially_) As you say.

THE FIRST CELESTIAL FIGURE. Here, then--look for yourself!

_He raises the pointer, and boundless space rolls up like a curtain,
disclosing a comfortable drawing-room. The two celestial figures stand
aside and look. A man and woman are sitting on a sofa, kissing each
other. From time to time, in intervals between the kisses, they

THE MAN. No! No! I must not!

_But he does_.

THE WOMAN. No! No! We must not!

_But they do_.

THE MAN. We must not--

_The second celestial figure turns to look inquiringly at the first,
and boundless space falls like a blue curtain between them and the

THE SECOND CELESTIAL FIGURE. It is strange. I've seen nothing like that
anywhere in the universe. But why do you suppose--

THE FIRST CELESTIAL FIGURE. Oh, as to that, I really cannot say. It's
what is called "Human nature."


_They walk off thoughtfully_.



"The Chaste Adventures of Joseph" was first produced at the Liberal
Club, New York City, in 1914, with the following cast:

Madam Potiphar ....... Louise Murphy
Asenath .............. Marjorie Jones
Potiphar ............. Berkeley Tobey
Joseph ............... Floyd Dell
Slave ................ Maurice Becker

_A room in Potiphar's house. It is sparingly furnished with a table,
two stools, and a couch, all in the simpler style of the early
dynasties.... The table, which is set at an angle, is piled with
papyri, and one papyrus is half-unrolled and held open by paper-weights
where somebody has been reading it.... There is a small window in one
wall, opening on the pomegranate garden. At the back, between two heavy
pillars, is a doorway.... Two women are heard to pass, laughing and
talking, through the corridor outside, and pause at the doorway. One of
them looks in curiously_.

THE LADY. Such a lovely house, Madam Potiphar!--But what is this quiet
room? Your husband's study?

MADAM POTIPHAR. (_coming in_) Oh, this is nothing--merely the room
of one of the slaves. Come, dear Cousin Asenath, and I will show you
the garden. The pomegranates are just beginning to blossom.

ASENATH. The room of a slave? Indeed! He seems to be an educated

MADAM POTIPHAR. Educated? Oh, yes--he is a sort of book-keeper for
Potiphar. At least, that is what he is supposed to be. But he is never
on hand when he is wanted. If he were here, we might get him to show us
through the vineyard.

ASENATH. Why not send for him? I would love to see the vineyard before
your husband takes me out in the chariot.

MADAM POTIPHAR. (_ironically_) Send for Joseph? It would be
useless. Joseph has affairs of his own on hand, always.

ASENATH. (_startled_) Joseph! Is that his name?

MADAM POTIPHAR. Yes--"Joseph." An ugly, foreign-sounding name, don't
you think?

ASENATH. It is rather an odd name--but I've heard it before. It was the
name of a youth who used to be one of my father's slaves in Heliopolis.

MADAM POTIPHAR. Heliopolis? I wonder--what was he like?

ASENATH. Oh, he was a pretty boy, with nice manners.

MADAM POTIPHAR. I thought for a moment it might be the same one. But
this Joseph is an ill-favoured creature--and insolent. . . . What
colour was his hair?

ASENATH. I really don't remember. It's been a year since he was
there.... You have a _lovely_ house, my dear. I'm _so_ glad I
came to see you!

MADAM POTIPHAR. (_also willing to change the subject_) It's nice
to see you again, dear Asenath. We haven't seen each other since we
were little girls. Do you remember how we played together in the
date-orchard? And the long, long talks we had?

ASENATH. Don't let's be sentimental about our childhood!
MADAM POTIPHAR. Do you remember how we talked about being married?
(_Asenath goes to the little window_.) We hated all men, as I

ASENATH. I was eight years old then. . . . Who is that handsome young
man I see out there?

MADAM POTIPHAR. In the garden?


_Madam Potiphar comes to the window_.

MADAM POTIPHAR. That--that is the slave we were speaking of. . . .

ASENATH. Joseph? . . . I wonder if it _is_ the same one? . . .

MADAM POTIPHAR. Well--and what if it were?

ASENATH. He was really a very interesting young man. . . .

MADAM POTIPHAR. If you are so anxious to find out, why don't you go and
talk to him?

ASENATH. (_coolly_) I think I shall.

_She starts toward the door_.

MADAM POTIPHAR. (_shocked_) Asenath! You, a daughter of the High
Priest of Heliopolis--

ASENATH. As such, I am quite accustomed to doing as I please.

_She goes out_.

MADAM POTIPHAR. (_looking amusedly after her_) Silly little thing!
(_She stands there thinking_.) There's no doubt of it! Joseph did
come from Heliopolis last year. But what have I to be afraid of?
(_She sees a pair of sandals on the floor by the table. She picks one
of them up, and kisses it passionately, whispering_)--Joseph!

_Enter Potiphar. Madam Potiphar puts the sandal behind her back_.

POTIPHAR. (_a dull, dignified gentleman_) Oh, here's where you
are! I was looking everywhere for you. But where's your cousin?

MADAM POTIPHAR. She will be back in a moment. I brought her here to
show her the educated slave of whom you are so proud, at work. But he
is away somewhere, as usual.

POTIPHAR. (_defensively_) He has other duties.

MADAM POTIPHAR. Oh, yes, no doubt!

POTIPHAR. What's the matter now?

MADAM POTIPHAR. Nothing new. You know what I think about this Joseph of

POTIPHAR. (_irritated_) Now, if you are going to bring that
subject up again--! Well, I tell you flatly, I won't do it.

MADAM POTIPHAR. You'd better take my advice!

POTIPHAR. It's the most unreasonable thing I ever heard of! For the
first time in my life I get an efficient secretary--and you want me to
get rid of him. It's ridiculous. What have you against Joseph, anyway?

MADAM POTIPHAR. I--I don't think he's honest.

POTIPHAR. Honest! Who expects the secretary of a government official to
be honest? I don't want an honest man in charge of my affairs--all I
want is a capable one. Besides, how would I know whether he is honest
or not? I can't bother to go over his accounts, and I couldn't
understand them if I did. Mathematics, my dear, is not an art that
high-class Egyptians excel in. It takes slaves and Hebrews for that.

MADAM POTIPHAR. Well, just because he is able to add up a row of
figures is no reason why he should be so high-handed with everybody.
One would think he was the master here, instead of a slave.

POTIPHAR. A private secretary, my dear, is different from an ordinary
slave. You mustn't expect him to behave like a doorkeeper. I remember
now, he complained that you kept wanting him to run errands for you.

MADAM POTIPHAR. Yes, and he refused--in the most insolent manner. He is
a proud and scheming man, I tell you. I am sure he is plotting some
villainy against you.

POTIPHAR. (_wearily_) Yes, you have said that before.

MADAM POTIPHAR. I say it again. Joseph is a scoundrel.

POTIPHAR. You'll have to do more than say it, my dear. What proof have
you of his villainy?

MADAM POTIPHAR. I think you might trust to my womanly intuition.

POTIPHAR. Bah! Joseph is going to stay! Do you understand?

_He pounds on the table for emphasis. Madam Potiphar takes advantage
of the occasion to drop the sandal unnoticed_.

MADAM POTIPHAR. Well, you needn't create a domestic scene. Asenath may
return at any moment.

POTIPHAR. (_gloomily_) I believe I'm to take her out in the chariot.

MADAM POTIPHAR. You don't begrudge my guest that much of your
attention, do you? You know I cannot bear to ride behind those wild
horses of yours. And she said she wanted to see the city.

POTIPHAR. Oh--I'll go. But I must see to my chariot. (_He claps his
hands. A servant appears, and bows deeply_.) Send Joseph here at once.

_With another deep bow, the slave disappears. A pause_.

MADAM POTIPHAR. Now you know what it is to have your slave off
attending to some business of his own when you want him.

POTIPHAR. (_annoyed_) Where can he be?

_Enter Joseph_.

JOSEPH. (_ignoring Madam Potiphar, and making a slight bow to
Potiphar_) Here I am, sir.

POTIPHAR. (_after a triumphant glance at his wife_) Have my chariot
made ready for me, will you?

JOSEPH. It will give me great pleasure to do so, sir.

_He bows slightly, and goes out_.

MADAM POTIPHAR. Did you notice his insolence?

POTIPHAR. There you go again! He said he was glad to do it for me. What
more do you want?

MADAM POTIPHAR. You are the stupidest man in Egypt.

POTIPHAR. Thank you, my dear.

_Joseph returns_.

POTIPHAR. Is the chariot ready so soon, Joseph?

JOSEPH. The chariot is quite ready.

POTIPHAR. Very well. (_A pause_) And are those accounts finished yet,

JOSEPH. The accounts are quite finished. And I would like to suggest,
if I may--

_He is interrupted by the re-entrance of Asenath_.

ASENATH. What a lovely garden you have!

MADAM POTIPHAR. (_significantly_) Yes!

ASENATH. The pomegranate blossoms are so beautiful!

MADAM POTIPHAR. You could hardly tear yourself away, could you?

POTIPHAR. (_with a patient smile_) And are you ready for your chariot
ride now?

ASENATH. Oh, yes! I am so eager to see the city! But I fear my hair
needs a touch or two, first. . . .

MADAM POTIPHAR. It is so hard to keep one's hair in order when one
walks in the garden. I will take you to my room, dear Asenath. (_To
Potiphar_) We shall be ready presently.

POTIPHAR. The horses are waiting!

ASENATH. It won't take me but a moment!

MADAM POTIPHAR. Come, my dear. (_They go toward the door_.) I am so
glad you liked our garden--

_They go out_.

POTIPHAR. (_turning to Joseph_) What were you going to say, Joseph?

JOSEPH. You asked me about my accounts. I was about to suggest that I
show them to you tonight, when you return from your ride.

POTIPHAR. (_alarmed_) No! No! I don't want to see them. . . . I
just want to know that everything is getting on well.

JOSEPH. Everything is getting along quite well.

POTIPHAR. Very good. I have complete confidence in you. . . . Joseph--
you have a mathematical mind; how long would you say it would take a
woman to do her hair?

JOSEPH. Not less than half an hour, sir--especially if she has
something to talk about with another woman while she is doing it.

POTIPHAR. (_surprised_) What should _they_ have to talk about?

JOSEPH. Secrets.

POTIPHAR. Secrets?

JOSEPH. What things are women especially interested in, sir?

POTIPHAR. Dress, perhaps?

JOSEPH. Perhaps.

POTIPHAR. Housekeeping?

JOSEPH. I doubt it, sir.

POTIPHAR. Joseph, you perturb me. Besides food and dress, there is only
one subject, so far as I am aware, of interest to women. I hope you do
not imply--

JOSEPH. Far be it from me, sir, to indulge in implications, with
respect to an honoured guest, in the household in which I am a slave.

POTIPHAR. Still--it is hard to tell, sometimes. Women are mysterious
creatures. What do _you_ think of them, Joseph?

JOSEPH. I try not to, sir.

POTIPHAR. You are a wise man. Yes, I suppose you have your
difficulties, too. The morality of the slave-girls is not all it should
be. But if you will believe me, the morality of our women, too--

JOSEPH. Ah, sir!

POTIPHAR. Yes, Joseph, it leaves something to be desired. If you knew
the advances that have been made to me by certain great ladies--

JOSEPH. If you will permit me to say so, sir, you have my sympathy.

POTIPHAR. Joseph--women are the very devil, aren't they?

JOSEPH. They are a great trial, sir. One must learn the secret of
dealing with them.

POTIPHAR. Do _you_ know that secret?

JOSEPH. I do, sir.

POTIPHAR. I am inclined to believe that you really do. You are a
remarkable man. But then, you have a naturally cold disposition. It
must come easy to you.

JOSEPH. Not so easy as you may think, sir. Temperamentally, I am very
susceptible to the charms of women.

POTIPHAR. Then you are more remarkable even than I thought. Come, what
_is_ your secret?

JOSEPH. It is not the sort of secret that one gives away for nothing,

POTIPHAR. I am sorry to see you display such a mercenary disposition,
Joseph. But I see that I must come to terms with you. How much will you
take to teach me your secret?

JOSEPH. This time, sir, I will not be mercenary. I will make you a
sporting proposition.

POTIPHAR. (_very much interested_) Good! What is it?

JOSEPH. I will toss up a coin, and let you call it. If you win, I will
teach you the secret for nothing. And if you lose--

POTIPHAR. And if I lose, you keep your secret--

JOSEPH. Not merely that. If you lose, you will give me my freedom.

POTIPHAR. But I cannot get along without you, Joseph!

JOSEPH. I will continue to work for you on a salary basis.

POTIPHAR. Done! Where is your coin?

_Joseph takes a small coin from his wallet, flips it in the air, and
covers it with his hand when it falls on the table. He looks up at

POTIPHAR. Much depends on this. What shall I say?

JOSEPH. I know what you will say, sir.

POTIPHAR. Impossible! Tails.

_Joseph uncovers the coin. Potiphar bends over it_.

JOSEPH. (_without looking_) It is heads.

POTIPHAR. So it is! I lose--Joseph, you are a lucky man!

JOSEPH. Not at all, sir--a clever one. You see, I knew just how the
coin would fall. I tossed it so that it would fall that way.

POTIPHAR. But--how did you know what I was going to say?

JOSEPH. I will explain to you. On one side of the coin is a
representation of the present Pharaoh, who has denied you advancement
because of his daughter's interest in you. In consequence, you
dislike any reminder of him--even on a coin. But on the other side is a
representation of the goddess Isis; she is your favourite goddess--and
moreover, you yourself have been heard to remark that her face and
figure resemble remarkably that of a certain great lady, whose name--is
never mentioned when the story is told. Naturally I knew how you would
call the coin.

POTIPHAR. (_trembling with rage_) How dare you say such things! Do you
forget that I can have you beaten with rods?

JOSEPH. (_calmly_) Do you forget, sir, that I am no longer a slave?
Free men are not beaten in Egypt.


JOSEPH. Unless Potiphar takes back his word. It is true that I have no
witnesses to it.

POTIPHAR. (_with great dignity_) Witnesses are unnecessary. I had
forgotten for the moment. Let this remind me. (_He gives Joseph a
ring_.) You are a free man. And so--what I thought was an insolence is
merely a pleasantry. But--you take a quick advantage of your freedom.

JOSEPH. I accept the rebuke.

POTIPHAR. And--free man or slave--Joseph, you know too much!

_Potiphar walks out of the room. . . . Joseph seats himself at the
table, and takes up a scroll of papyrus. He reads a moment, then claps
his hands. A slave enters, stands before the table, and bows_.

JOSEPH. (_consulting the papyrus_) Bear word to the overseer of
the winepress that the grapes in the southeast section will be brought
in for pressing tomorrow morning. . . . Bear word to the chief
carpenter that a table and two couches, of the standard pattern, are
wanted--at once. . . . Bear word to the chief pastry-cook that his
request for another helper is denied.

_Joseph makes a gesture of dismissal, and the slave, with a bow, goes
out. Joseph rises, and walking around the table, holds up 'his hand to
look at his ring_.

JOSEPH. Freedom!

_Madam Potiphar strolls in_.

MADAM POTIPHAR. (_familiarly_) They have gone. . . .

_Joseph picks up a scroll from the table_.

MADAM POTIPHAR. (_sharply_) Joseph!

JOSEPH. (_respectfully_) Yes, madam.

MADAM POTIPHAR. I understood you to say a while ago that your work was
quite finished?

JOSEPH. Yes, madam.

MADAM POTIPHAR. Then you have plenty of time now....

JOSEPH. Yes, plenty of time for more work.

MADAM POTIPHAR. Well, you need not begin immediately. _I_ want a little
of your time just now.

JOSEPH. If it is an errand, I will call one of the slaves.

MADAM POTIPHAR. Do you mean--one of the other slaves?

JOSEPH. I, madam, am no longer a slave.

_He holds up his hand, and looks at the ring_.

MADAM POTIPHAR. (_incredulous_) How did this happen? Did you _buy_ your
freedom, perchance?

JOSEPH. No. Your husband gave it to me a moment ago.

MADAM POTIPHAR. Gave it to you? You mean that you swindled him out of
it in some way!

JOSEPH. As you please, madam.

MADAM POTIPHAR. Well, it is his own affair if he wishes to give away
such valuable property. Only--it is difficult to adjust oneself to a
change like that.

JOSEPH. Do not, I pray, let the change disturb you.

MADAM POTIPHAR. No, I insist. It is both a duty and a pleasure. Since
you are now a free man, Joseph, I propose that we treat each other as
equals and friends.

JOSEPH. That will be very considerate of us both.

MADAM POTIPHAR. Sir, you are insolent. No, no--I mean, my friend, you
are very rude.

JOSEPH. Thank you for making the distinction. And now, since we are to
treat each other as equals and friends, I beg you--(_he takes some
small objects from his wallet and holds them out in his hand_)--to
take these hairpins, which are the mementos of your various visits to
my room. As a slave, no suspicion, of course, could attach to me in
connection with a lady of your rank. But as equals and friends, we both
have our reputations to preserve.

MADAM POTIPHAR. (_taking them_) Thank you.(_She restores them to her
hair_.) I lose them everywhere I go. They fall out every time I speak.
They mean nothing whatever.

JOSEPH. It is unnecessary to explain that to me. I am perfectly aware
of the fact.

MADAM POTIPHAR. You are perfectly aware of everything, aren't you,

JOSEPH. Everything that it is to my interest to be aware of, madam.

MADAM POTIPHAR. No--there is one thing you don't know, and I am going
to tell you.

JOSEPH. Proceed, madam.

_He takes the coin from the table_.

MADAM POTIPHAR. (_coming close to him and looking boldly into his
eyes_) Can't you guess?

_At this moment Joseph drops the coin from his hand, and it rolls
away. Joseph starts, looks after it, and goes across the room to pick
it up_.

JOSEPH. One must take care of the small coins!

MADAM POTIPHAR. (_angrily_) Oh!

_She flings off to the window, Joseph returns and seats himself on
the little stool at the nearer end of the table, with a papyrus in
front of him. He reads it in silence. Madam Potiphar comes and seats
herself on the table, and looks down at him. He continues to study the
papyrus. She leans over to see what he is doing, and then, as he pays
no attention, she turns so that she is reclining prone along its
length, facing him, her chin in her hands, one foot idly waving in the

MADAM POTIPHAR. (_gently_) Am I bothering you?

JOSEPH. Not at all.

MADAM POTIPHAR. I like to watch you work.

JOSEPH. I don't mind.

MADAM POTIPHAR. You are very interesting to look at, do you know?

JOSEPH. (_absently_) Yes, I know.

MADAM POTIPHAR. Little egotist!

JOSEPH. (_unperturbed_) Yes.

_He rises and seats himself at the side of the table. Propping his
papyrus against the reclining body of Madam Potiphar, he takes a new
sheet of papyrus, and commences to copy a passage_.

MADAM POTIPHAR. (_wriggling about to look at him_) What are you

JOSEPH. Be careful. Don't jiggle my manuscript, please!

MADAM POTIPHAR. I asked, what are you copying?

JOSEPH. I am copying some inaccurate information about the climate of
Egypt, with reference to the yearly crop-yield. . . . I wonder if there
is any one in Egypt who has exact information on that subject? . . .

MADAM POTIPHAR. The yearly crop-yield! What do you care about the
yearly crop-yield?

JOSEPH. Never mind. You wouldn't understand if I told you.

MADAM POTIPHAR. You are quite right. Besides, I didn't come here to
talk about crops.

JOSEPH. (_writing_) No. You came here to talk about me.

MADAM POTIPHAR. I came here to talk about my cousin Asenath. You knew
she was coming--why didn't you tell me you had been in service in her
father's household in Heliopolis?

JOSEPH. (_writing_) It wasn't necessary for me to tell you. I knew she

MADAM POTIPHAR. No doubt you think we sat there all the time she was
combing her hair, and talked about you!

JOSEPH. (_writing_) Precisely.

MADAM POTIPHAR. I suppose you know she is crazy about you!

JOSEPH. (_still writing_) Is she?

MADAM POTIPHAR. She doesn't put it just that way. She says she takes an
interest in your future.

JOSEPH. (_continuing to work_) She doesn't take half as much interest
in it as I do.

MADAM POTIPHAR. She told me your romantic story: how you had been sold
by your brothers into slavery because you wore a coat of many colours.
Joseph, did you wear a coat of many colours? That seems a curious thing
for any one to be angry about.

JOSEPH. (_not ceasing to copy the manuscript_) I wore it only
figuratively--I am wearing it now. And it _always_ makes _you_ angry.

MADAM POTIPHAR. You mean the cloak of your insolence?

JOSEPH. I mean the cloak of my pride.

MADAM POTIPHAR. I can sympathize with your brothers. . . . Are you in
love with her, Joseph?

JOSEPH. I am not.

_He has finished--he rolls up the papyrus_.

MADAM POTIPHAR. No--so I told her.

JOSEPH. But she didn't believe you.
MADAM POTIPHAR. You seem to know our conversation pretty well.

JOSEPH. I can imagine it.

MADAM POTIPHAR. Well, go ahead and imagine it. What did we say?

JOSEPH. You both lied to each other.


JOSEPH. About me.
MADAM POTIPHAR. (_sitting up_) Your conceit is insufferable!

JOSEPH. (_rising politely_) I hope so.

MADAM POTIPHAR. Is that a dismissal?

JOSEPH. If you will be so kind.

MADAM POTIPHAR. You interest me more and more.

JOSEPH. I feared as much.

MADAM POTIPHAR. I detest you!

JOSEPH. It is one of the symptoms.

MADAM POTIPHAR. Young man, do you really know nothing about love?

JOSEPH. If I don't, it is not the fault of the women of Egypt.

MADAM POTIPHAR. You are a strange youth. It cannot be that you love
this work you are doing....

JOSEPH. No, madam--I _hate_ it.

MADAM POTIPHAR. Then where do you find your happiness? Tell me,
Joseph--what is the happiest hour of the day for you?

JOSEPH. (_with complete sincerity_) It is that hour when I have
finished the day's work, and can lie down upon my couch. It is the hour
before sleep comes, when the room is filled with moonlight, and there
is no sound except the crickets singing in the orchard, and the music
of the toads in the pool. The wind of the night comes in, cool with
dew. Then I am happy--for I can lie and make plans for my future.

MADAM POTIPHAR. (_softly_) And in that hour of moonlight and dew
and the music of the crickets, and the ancient love-song of the toads
in the pool, when all the earth abandons itself to love,--what
would you say to a woman who stole in to you like a moonbeam, like a
breath of the night-wind, like a strain of music?

JOSEPH. I would tell her--to go, as her presence would interfere with
my plans.

MADAM POTIPHAR. I call the gods to witness. A truly virtuous young man!

JOSEPH. (_jumping down from the table, angrily_) Virtue! Virtue!
Oh, you stupid Egyptians! As though I cared about Virtue!

MADAM POTIPHAR. Well, what in the name of all the gods is it that you
care about?

JOSEPH. (_vehemently_) In the name of all the gods, madam, I care about

MADAM POTIPHAR. Time! But what can you do with time?

JOSEPH. What can I do _without_ it?

MADAM POTIPHAR. But I do not understand!

JOSEPH. (_in a cold rage_) Of course you do not understand. You
are a great lady--and a fool. I am a wise man--and but an hour ago a
slave. I have more intellect than all the population of Egypt put
together. Do you expect me to be content to remain as I am? I want
power and riches--and I intend to achieve them. And I cannot achieve
them if I allow women to waste my time.

MADAM POTIPHAR. (_deeply angered at last_) Very well, I go--taking
your secret with me! (_She goes_.)

JOSEPH. (_furiously, to the empty room_) Virtue! My God!

_He sits down at his desk and writes vexedly_.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Night. The room is filled with moonlight. Joseph is asleep at his
desk.... He suddenly springs up in agitation_.

JOSEPH. Ah! . . . It was only a dream! But what a dream! I thought I
saw at the door--(_he points_) a strange and terrible animal!
(_There is a sound at the door, and he starts back in terror_.)
_There it is now_!

_The curtains part, and Asenath enters, candle in hand_.

ASENATH. Ssh! It is I--Asenath! Don't be afraid!

_Joseph recovers his self-possession, and confronts her sternly_.

JOSEPH. You, too!

ASENATH. My dear?

JOSEPH. So you have come to afflict me with more romantic folly!

ASENATH. (_with concern_) What is the matter with you, Joseph?

JOSEPH. What is the matter with me? Nothing is the matter with me. Why
do you ask?

ASENATH. I think you are not well. You are behaving queerly. You must
have been working too hard. How are your nerves?

_She approaches him solicitously_.

JOSEPH. (_retreating around the table_) Leave me alone, I tell you!
Even in my own room can I have no peace? Must I be dogged even in my
dreams by shameless and unscrupulous females? Oh, unfortunate youth
that I am!

ASENATH. (_setting her candle down on the table_) Now I know what
is the matter with you, Joseph! You have an obsession.

JOSEPH. What is an obsession?

ASENATH. Don't you know what an obsession is? (_She sits down on the
stool at the end of the table_). Haven't you heard of the great
wizard in the land of the barbarians who explains everything by a new

JOSEPH. Is he the author of that popular new dream-book?

ASENATH. Yes. All Egypt is mad on the subject of dreams. Everybody,
from Pharaoh to the fiddler's wife, is telling about his latest dream,
or listening to some one else tell his.

JOSEPH. (_sitting down on the other stool_) Speaking of dreams, I
had a curious one just before you came in.

ASENATH. Did you, Joseph? Tell it to me.

_She leans across the table_.

JOSEPH. I dreamed--that I saw a dragon with many heads. And each head
had the face of a beautiful woman. I was frightened. But I took up a
sword and struck. And all the heads except one were severed. All except
one. And this one had upon it a crown of iron and a crown of gold. And
then the dragon took the crowns from its head, and offered them to me!
I did not know what to do. . . . And then I awoke.

ASENATH. Shall I interpret your dream for you, Joseph? The dragon with
the many heads signifies the women of Egypt, who are all in love with
you. The one that remains when you have struck off the rest, is the one
who will succeed where all the others have failed. The crown of iron
signifies power. The crown of gold, riches. She offers them to you. . .

JOSEPH. (_leaning forward_) Asenath--do you really think it means--

ASENATH. (_coldly_) I really think it means that you have a
persecution--mania. You imagine that every woman you meet has designs
on you. . . . I suppose you think that _I_ came here to make love
to you?

JOSEPH. No, my dear Asenath. I know better than that. When young women
come to my room at midnight, it is only to borrow a book to read--or to
ask my advice about their personal affairs. I know, because they tell
me so. Which did you come for--a book, or advice?

ASENATH. Neither. I came to give a book to you--and to give you some
advice.... Do you remember telling me, once in Heliopolis, that the man
who knew enough about the climate of Egypt to predict a famine could
make himself the richest man in the kingdom? Well--here is everything
you want to know, in an old book I found in my father's library in
Heliopolis. This is the book I came to give you.

_She holds out a scroll_.

JOSEPH. (_taking it_) Dear Asenath--

ASENATH. (_interrupting him_) And now the advice. It is this. Ally
yourself to the wisest woman in the land of Egypt--one who can teach
you to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh. Then you shall become the
second in power in the kingdom.

JOSEPH. The second in power in the kingdom! Asenath--do not mock me.
Can you do this?

ASENATH. I swear that I can and will!

JOSEPH. (_overcome_) You do love me....

ASENATH. (_jumping up_) Love you! What nonsense! (_Scornfully_) Love!

JOSEPH. You--you don't love me?

ASENATH. Not in the least!

JOSEPH. But--but--then what are you doing it for?

ASENATH. I am doing it for _myself_. Do you think I wish to stay
in Heliopolis all my life? No--I want power and riches--and I intend to
have them. But I cannot get them, unfortunately, without wasting my
time with some man.

JOSEPH. And I--?

ASENATH. You are the man.

JOSEPH. Admirable!

ASENATH. Hate me if you will--

JOSEPH. On the contrary! (_He goes toward her_.) Wonderful creature!

ASENATH. (_retreating_) What do you say?

JOSEPH. I say that you are a woman after my own heart. (_He holds out
his arms. She retreats to the other end of the table_.) I did not
think that there existed in all the world a woman as profoundly
egoistic, as unscrupulously ambitious, as myself. You are my true mate.
Come, we shall rule Egypt together!

ASENATH. (_in front of the table_) Am I to understand that this is
a strictly business proposition?

JOSEPH. No. It is a declaration of love. I adore you! I desire you! I
cannot live without you!

ASENATH. Please don't be silly.

JOSEPH. (_hurt_) Is it possible that you do not believe in my love?

ASENATH. It is a little difficult. . . .

JOSEPH. You think that I am a hard man--and so I am. But when I look at
you, I tremble and grow weak. My knees are become as water, and the
blood roaring in my veins confuses me.

ASENATH. Can I, a mere woman, so disturb you?

JOSEPH. You have more than a mere woman's beauty. Your hands are lotus
petals. Your eyes are silver fireflies mirrored in a pool. Your breasts
are white birds nestling behind the leaves of a pomegranate tree.

ASENATH. You have a smooth tongue, Joseph! One would think you really
were in love at last. . . .

JOSEPH. I love you more than anything else in the world. You mean more
to me than power, more than riches, more than freedom itself.

ASENATH. I could almost believe that you are in earnest. . . .

JOSEPH. Tell me, O lovely creature for whom my soul and body thirst,
how can I prove my sincerity? What proof can I give you?

ASENATH. You can give me--that ring!

_She points to the ring which Potiphar has given him_.

JOSEPH. (_looking at her, then at the ring, takes it off, saying_)--

_He puts it on her finger. He draws her toward him. She resists. The
candle is knocked over, and all is darkness_.

ASENATH. (_in the darkness, faintly_) Joseph! Joseph!




"The Angel Intrudes" was first produced by the Provincetown Players,
New York City, in 1917, with the following cast:

The Policeman...... Abram Gillette
The Angel.......... James Light
Jimmy Pendleton.... Justus Sheffield
Annabelle.......... Edna St. Vincent Millay

_Washington Square by moonlight. A stream of Greenwich Villagers
hurrying across to the Brevoort before the doors are locked. In their
wake a sleepy policeman.

The policeman stops suddenly on seeing an Angel with shining garments
and great white wings, who has just appeared out of nowhere_.


THE ANGEL. (_haughtily, turning_) Sir! Are you addressing me?

THE POLICEMAN. (_severely_) Yes, an' I've a good mind to lock you up.

THE ANGEL. (_surprised and indignant_) How very inhospitable! Is
that the way you treat strangers?

THE POLICEMAN. Don't you know it's agen the law of New York to parade
the streets in a masquerade costume?

THE ANGEL. No. I didn't know. You see, I've just arrived this minute
from Heaven.

THE POLICEMAN. Ye look it. (_Taking his arm kindly_) See here, me lad,
you've been drinkin' too many of them stingers. Ye'd better take a
taxi and go home.

THE ANGEL. What! So soon?

THE POLICEMAN. I know how ye feel. I've been that way meself. But I
can't leave ye go traipsin' about in skirts.

THE ANGEL. (_drawing away_) Sir, I'm not traipsing about. I am
attending to important business, and I must ask you not to detain me.

THE POLICEMAN. (_suspiciously_) Not so fast, me laddie-buck. What
business have you at this hour of the night? Tell me that.

THE ANGEL. I don't mind telling you. It concerns a mortal called James

THE POLICEMAN. (_genial again_) Aha! So you're a friend of Jimmy
Pendleton's, are you?

THE ANGEL. Not exactly. I am his Guardian Angel.

THE POLICEMAN. Well, faith, he needs one! Come, me b'y, I'll see ye
safe to his door.

THE ANGEL. Thank you. But, if you don't mind, I prefer to go alone.

_He turns away_.

THE POLICEMAN. Good night to you, then.

_He idly watches the angelic figure walk away, and then stares with
amazement as it spreads its wings and soars to the top of Washington
Arch. Pausing there a moment, it soars again in the air, and is seen
wafting its way over the neighbouring housetops to the northeast. The
policeman shakes his head in disapproval.

Jimmy Pendleton is dozing in an easy chair before the grate-fire in
Ms studio in Washington Mews. A yellow-backed French novel has fallen
from his knee to the floor. It is Anatole France's "La Revolte des
Anges". A suitcase stands beside the chair. Jimmy is evidently about to
go on some journey.

A clock begins to strike somewhere. Jimmy Pendleton awakes_.

JIMMY. What a queer dream! (_He looks at his watch_.) Twelve o'clock.
The taxi ought to be here. (_He takes two tickets from his pocket,
looks at them, and puts them back. Then he commences to pace
nervously up and down the room, muttering to himself_)--Fool! Idiot!
Imbecile! (_He is not, so that you could notice it, any of these
things. He is a very handsome man of forty. There is the blast of an
auto-horn outside. He makes an angry gesture_.) Too late! That's the
taxi. (_But he stands uncertainly in the middle of the floor. There
is a loud pounding on the knocker_.) Yes, yes!

_He makes a movement toward the door, when it suddenly opens, and a
lovely lady enters. He stares at her in surprise_.

JIMMY. Annabelle!

_Annabelle is little. Annabelle's petulant upturned lips are rosebud
red. Annabelle's round eyes are baby-blue. Annabelle is--young_.

ANNABELLE. Yes! It's me! (_There is a tiny lisp in Annabelle's
speech_.) I got tired of waiting, and the door was unlocked, so I
came right in.

JIMMY. Well!

ANNABELLE. (_hurt_) Aren't you glad to see me?

JIMMY. I'm--delighted. But--but--I thought we were to meet at the

ANNABELLE. So we were.

JIMMY. You haven't changed your mind?

ANNABELLE. No. . . .

JIMMY. Er--good.


JIMMY. Yes--?

ANNABELLE. I got to wondering. . . . (_She drifts to the easy chair
in front of the fire_.)

JIMMY. Wondering . . . about what? (_He looks at his watch_.)

ANNABELLE. About love. . . .

JIMMY. Well . . . (_He lights a cigarette_)--it's a subject that can
stand a good deal of wondering about. I've wondered about it myself.

ANNABELLE. That's just it--you speak so cynically about it. I don't
believe you're in love with me at all!

JIMMY. Nonsense! Of course I'm in love with you.

ANNABELLE. (_sadly_) No you're not.

JIMMY. (_angrily_) But I tell you I am!

ANNABELLE. No. . . .

JIMMY. Foolish child!

ANNABELLE. Well, let's not quarrel about it. We'll talk about something

JIMMY. (_vehemently_) What do you suppose this insanity is if it
is not love? What do you imagine leads me to this preposterous
escapade, if not that preposterous passion?

ANNABELLE. That isn't the way _I_ love you.

JIMMY. Then why do you come with me?

ANNABELLE. Perhaps I'm not coming.

JIMMY. Yes you are. It's foolish--mad--wicked--but you're coming.
(_She begins to cry softly_.) If not--ten minutes away is safety
and peace and comfort. Shall I call a taxi for you? (_She shakes her
head_.) No, I thought not. Oh, it's love all right. . . . Antony and
Cleopatra defying the Mann Act! Romance! Beauty! Adventure! How can
you doubt it?

ANNABELLE. I hate you!

JIMMY. (_cheerfully_) I don't mind. (_Smiling_) I rather hate
you myself. And that's the final proof that this is love.

ANNABELLE. (_sobbing_) I thought love was something quite--different!

JIMMY. You thought it was beautiful. It isn't. It's just blithering,
blathering folly. We'll both regret it tomorrow.


JIMMY. Yes you will. It's human nature. Face the facts.

ANNABELLE. (_tearfully_) Facing the facts is one thing and being
in love is another,

JIMMY. Quite so. Well, how long do you think your love for me will

ANNABELLE. For ever!

JIMMY. H'm! I predict that you will fall in love with the next man you

ANNABELLE. I think you're perfectly horrid.

JIMMY. So do I. I disapprove of myself violently. I'm a doddering
lunatic, incapable of thinking of anything but you. I can't work. I
can't eat, I can't sleep. I'm no use to the world. I'm not a man, I'm a
mess. I'm about to do something silly because I can't do anything else.

ANNABELLE. (_pouting_) You've no respect for me.

JIMMY. None whatever. I love you. And I'm going to carry you off.

ANNABELLE. You're a brute.

JIMMY. Absolutely. I'd advise you to go straight home.

ANNABELLE. (_defiantly_) Perhaps I shall!

JIMMY. Then go quick. (_He takes out his watch_.) In one minute,
if you are still here, I shall pick you up and carry you off to South
America.--Quick! there's the door!

ANNABELLE. (_faintly_) I--I want to go. . . .

JIMMY. Well, why don't you? . . . Thirty seconds!

ANNABELLE. I--I can't!

JIMMY. (_shutting his watch_) Time's up. The die is cast! (_He lifts
her from the chair. She clings to him helplessly_.) My darling! My
treasure! My beloved!--Idiot that I am!

_He kisses her fiercely_.

ANNABELLE. (_struggling in his arms_) No! No! No! Stop!

JIMMY. Never!

ANNABELLE. Stop! Please! Please! Oh! . . .

_The light suddenly goes out, and an instant later blazes out again,
revealing the Angel, who has suddenly arrived in the middle of the
room. The two of them stare at the apparition_.

THE ANGEL. (_politely_) I hope I am not intruding?

JIMMY. Why--why--not exactly!

ANNABELLE. (_in his arms, indignantly_) Jimmy! who is that man?

JIMMY. (_becoming aware of her and putting her down carefully_)
I--why--the fact is, I don't--

THE ANGEL. The fact is, madam, I am his Guardian Angel.

ANNABELLE. An Angel! Oh!

THE ANGEL. Tell me, _have_ I intruded?

ANNABELLE. No, not at all!

THE ANGEL. Thank you for reassuring me. I feared for a moment that I
had made an inopportune entrance. I was about to suggest that I
withdraw until you had finished the--er--ceremony--which I seem to have

JIMMY. (_surprised_) But wasn't that what you came for--to interrupt?

THE ANGEL. I beg your pardon!

JIMMY. (_bewilderedly_) I mean--if you are my Guardian Angel, and
all that sort of thing, you _must_ have come to--to interfere!

THE ANGEL. I hope you will not think I would be capable of such

JIMMY. (_puzzled_) You don't want to--so to speak--reform me?

THE ANGEL. Not at all. Why, I scarcely know you!

JIMMY. But you're my--my Guardian Angel, you say?

THE ANGEL. Ah, yes, to be sure. But the relation of angelic
guardianship has for some hundreds of years been a purely nominal one.
We have come to feel that it is best to allow mortals to attend to
their own affairs.

JIMMY. (_abruptly_) Then what did you come for?

THE ANGEL. For a change. One becomes tired of familiar scenes. And I
thought that perhaps my relationship to you might serve in lieu of an
introduction. I wanted to be among friends.

JIMMY. Oh--I see.

ANNABELLE. Of course. We're delighted to have you with us. Won't you
sit down? (_She leads the way to the fire_.)

THE ANGEL. (_perching on back of one of the big chairs_) If you don't
mind! My wings, you know.

JIMMY. (_hesitantly_) Have a cigarette?

THE ANGEL. Thank you. (_He takes one_.) I am most anxious to learn
the more important of your earthly arts and sciences. Please correct me
if I go wrong. This is my first attempt, remember. He blows out a puff
of smoke.

ANNABELLE. (_from the settle_) You're doing it very nicely.

THE ANGEL. It is incense to the mind.

ANNABELLE. (_laughing, blowing a series of smoke rings_) You must learn
to do it like this!

THE ANGEL. (_in awe_) That is too wonderful an art. I fear I can never
learn it!

ANNABELLE. I will teach you.

THE ANGEL. (_earnestly_) If you were my teacher, I think I could learn

ANNABELLE. (_giggles charmingly_).

JIMMY. (_embarrassed_) Really, Annabelle...!

ANNABELLE. What's the matter?

JIMMY. Ordinarily I wouldn't mind your flirting with strangers, but...

ANNABELLE. (_indignantly_) Jimmy! How can you?

THE ANGEL. It was my fault, I'm sure--if fault there was. But what is
it--to flirt? You see, I wish to learn everything.

ANNABELLE. I hope you never learn that.

THE ANGEL. I put myself in your hands.

JIMMY. Er--would you like a--drink?

THE ANGEL. Thank you. I am very thirsty. (_Taking the glass_.) This is
very different from what we have in Heaven. (_He tastes it. A look of
gratified surprise appears on his face_.) And much better! (_He drains
the glass and hands it back_.) May I have some more?

ANNABELLE. Be careful!

THE ANGEL. What should I be careful of?

ANNABELLE. Don't drink too much of that--if it's the first time.

THE ANGEL. Why not? It is an excellent drink.

JIMMY. (_laughing_) The maternal instinct! She is afraid you may
make yourself--ridiculous.

THE ANGEL. Angels do not care for appearances. (_He stands up
magnificently in the chair, towering above them_.) Besides . . .
(_refilling his glass_) I feel that you do an injustice to this
drink. Already it has made a new being of me. (_He looks at
Annabelle_.) I feel an emotion that I have never known before. If I
were in heaven, I should sing.

ANNABELLE. Oh! Won't you sing?

THE ANGEL. The fact is, I know nothing but hymns. And I'm tired of
them. That was one reason why I left heaven. And this robe. . . .
(_He descends to the floor, viewing his garment with disapproval_.)
Have you an extra suit of clothes you could lend me?

JIMMY. (_reflectively_) Yes, I think I have some things that might
fit. (_The Angel waits_.) Do you want them now? I'll look.

_He goes into the bedroom. . . . The Angel looks at Annabelle until
his gaze becomes insupportable, and she covers her eyes. Then he comes
over to her side_.

THE ANGEL. (_gravely_) I am very much afraid of you. (_He takes her
hands in his_.)

ANNABELLE. (_smiling_) One would never guess it!

THE ANGEL. I am more afraid of you than I was of God. But even though I
fear you, I must come close to you, and touch you. I feel a strange,
new emotion like fire in my veins. This world has become beautiful to
me because you are in it. I want to stay here so that I may be with
you. . . .

ANNABELLE. (_shaken, but doubting_) For how long?

THE ANGEL. For ever. . . .

ANNABELLE. (_in his arms_) Darling!

THE ANGEL. I am so ignorant! There is something I want to do right now,
only I do not know how to go about it properly.

_He bends shyly toward her lips_.

ANNABELLE. I will teach you.

_She kisses him_.

THE ANGEL. Heaven was nothing to this. They kiss again. . . . _Enter
Jimmy, with an old suit of clothes over his arm. He pauses in
dumbfounderment. At last he regains his voice_.

JIMMY. Well! _They look up. Neither of them is perturbed_.

THE ANGEL. (_blandly_) Has something happened to annoy you?
(_Jimmy shakes the clothes at him in an outraged gesture_.) Oh, my
new costume. Thank you so much!

_He takes the clothes from Jimmy, and examines them with interest_.

JIMMY. (_bitterly, to Annabelle_) I suppose I've no right to
complain. You can make love to anybody you like. In fact, now that I
come to think of it, I predicted this very thing. I said you'd fall in
love with the next man you met. So it's off with the old love, and--

ANNABELLE. (_calmly_) I have never been in love before.

JIMMY. The fickleness of women is notorious. It is exceeded only by
their mendacity. But Angels have up to this time stood in good repute.
Your conduct, sir, is scandalous. I am amazed at you.

THE ANGEL. It may be scandalous, but it should not amaze you. It has
happened too often before. I could quote you many texts from learned
theological works. "And the sons of God looked at the daughters of men
and saw that they were fair." But even if it were as unusual as you
imagine, that would not deter me.

JIMMY. You are an unscrupulous wretch. If these are the manners of
Heaven, I am glad it is so far away, and means of communication so
difficult. A few more of you would corrupt the morals of five
continents. You are utterly depraved--Here! what are you doing?

THE ANGEL. I am taking off my robes, so as to put on my new clothes.

JIMMY. Spare the common decencies at least. Go in the other room.

THE ANGEL. Certainly, if that is the custom here. With the clothes over
his arm, he goes into the bedroom.

JIMMY. (_sternly, to Annabelle_) And now tell me, what do you mean
by this?

ANNABELLE. (_simply_)--We are in love.

JIMMY. Do you mean to say you would throw me over for that fellow?


JIMMY. What good is he? All he can do is sing hymns. In three months
he'll be a tramp.

ANNABELLE. I don't care. And he won't be a tramp. I'll look after him.

JIMMY. (_sneeringly_) The maternal instinct! Well, take care of
him if you like. But of course you know that in six weeks he'll fall in
love with somebody else?

ANNABELLE. No he won't. I'm sure that I am the only girl in the world
to him.

JIMMY. Of course you're the only girl in the world to him--now. You're
the only one he's ever seen. But wait till he sees the others! Six
weeks? On second thought I make it three days. Immortal love! (_He

ANNABELLE. What difference does it make? You don't understand. Whether
it lasts a day or a year, while it lasts it will be immortal.
_The Angel enters, dressed in Jimmy's old clothes, and carrying his
wings in his hands. He seems exhilarated_.

THE ANGEL. How do I look?

JIMMY. It is customary to wear one's tie tucked inside the vest.

THE ANGEL. (_flinging the ends of the gorgeous necktie over his
shoulder_) No! Though I have become a man, I do not without some
regret put on the dull garb of mortality. I would not have my form lose
all its original brightness. Even so it is the excess of glory

ANNABELLE. (_coming over to him_) You are quite right, darling.

_She tucks the tie inside his vest_.

THE ANGEL. Thank you, beloved.--And now these wings! Take them, and
burn them with your own sweet hands, so that I can never leave you,
even if I would.

ANNABELLE. No! I would rather put them away for you in a closet, so
that you can go and look at them any time you want to, and see that you
have the means to freedom ready to your hand. I shall never hold you
against your will. I do not want to burn your wings. I really don't!
But if you insist--!

_She takes the wings, and approaches the grate_.

JIMMY. (_to the Angel_) Don't let her do it! Fool! You don't know
what you are doing. Listen to me! You think that she is wonderful--
superior--divine. It is only natural. There are moments when I have
thought so myself. But I know why I thought so, and you have yet to
learn. Keep your wings, my friend, against the day of your awakening--
the day when the glamour of sex has vanished, and you see in her, as
you will see, an inferior being, with a weak body, a stunted mind,
devoid of creative power, almost devoid of imagination, utterly lacking
in critical capacity--a being who does not know how to work, nor how to
talk, nor even how to play!

_Annabelle, dropping the wings on the hearth, stares at him, in
speechless anger_.

THE ANGEL. Sir! Do you refer in these vulgar and insulting terms to the
companion of my soul, the desire of my heart, the perfect lover whose
lips have kindled my dull senses to ecstasy?

JIMMY. I do. Remember that I know her better than you do, young man.
Take my advice and leave her alone. Even now it is not too late! Save
yourself from this folly while there is still time!


JIMMY. Then take these tickets--and I hope that I never see either of
you again! _He holds out the tickets. Annabelle, after a pause, steps
forward and takes them_.

ANNABELLE. That is really sweet of you, Jimmy! The blast of an
auto-horn is heard outside.

JIMMY. (_bitterly_) And there's my taxi. Take that, too.

THE ANGEL. Farewell!

_He opens the door. Annabelle, at his side, turns and blows Jimmy a
kiss. Stonily, Jimmy watches them go out. Then he picks up his suitcase
and goes, with an air of complete finality, into the other room_.

_There is a moment's silence, and then the door opens softly, and the
Angel looks in, enters surreptitiously, seizes up the wings, and with
them safely clasped to his bosom, vanishes again through the door_.




"Legend" was first produced, under the title, "My Lady's Mirror," at
the Liberal Club, in 1915, with the following cast:

He ............... Clement Wood
She............... Kirah Markham

_A small room with a little table in the centre, and a chair on
either side of it. At the back is the embrasure of a French window
opening on a balcony. In another wall is the outer door. The room is
lighted by tall candles. There is an image of the Virgin in a niche in
the corner_.

HE. (_a cloaked figure, standing with hat and stick in one hand and
holding in the other a large square parcel_) First of all, I have a
present for you.

SHE. (_where she has just risen when he entered_) A present! Oh,
thank you, Luciano!

HE. It is not me you have to thank for this present! (_He puts it on
the table_.) It is some one else. I am only the bearer.

SHE. Who can it be? Who would send me a present?

HE. What a question, Donna Violante! Not a man in Seville, not a man in
Spain, but would send you gifts if he dared. It is not "Who would?" but
"Who could?"

SHE. No man, as you know, Luciano, has that right.

HE. Have you so soon forgotten your husband, Violante? He, surely, has
that right! And it is thoughtful of him, too, to pause in the midst of
his antiquarian researches in Rome, to think of his young wife and send
her a gift. He appreciates you more than I imagined. Under his grizzled
and scientific exterior, he is a human being. I respect him for it.

_He puts down his hat and stick_.

SHE. My husband! But why, then, do _you_ bring it?

HE. I was commissioned by him to do so. I received the package, this
morning, with a letter. Shall I read it to you?

_He takes out the letter_.

SHE. Yes.... But why should he not send it direct to _me_?

HE. Your husband is a man of curious and perverse mind, Violante, and,
in spite of his interest in dead things, not without some insight into
the living soul. I think it gave him an obscure pleasure to think of
_me_ the bearer of _his_ gift. But shall we let him speak for

_He opens the envelope_.

SHE. Yes. Read the letter.

_She sits down to listen_.

HE. (_reading_) "My dear young friend: I am sending you a package,
which I beg you, as a favour, to deliver to Donna Violante, my wife. It
contains a gift of an unusual sort, which you as well as she will
appreciate. As you know, it is the unusual which interests me--the
unusual and the old. And yet, antiquarian though I am, I flatter myself
that I understand the mind of a beautiful young woman, especially when
that young woman is my wife. I have found her a mirror. Yes, a mirror!
Under this name it seems commonplace enough, but when you have seen it
I do not think you will say so. It is not the kind of mirror that is
ordinarily found in a lady's boudoir. Yet it will give to her a
faithful reflection of her loveliness as it is in truth. I found it--
this will interest you--in the Catacombs. You would not think the early
Christians had so much vanity! Yet it was a mirror into which the
virgin-martyrs-to-be of the time of Nero looked each day. As they
looked, let Donna Violante look. Say to her from me--'Look long and
well into this mirror, and profit by what you see.'--Humbly your
friend, Don Vincenzio." . . . Is not that a pleasant letter?

_He restores the letter to his pocket_.

SHE. There is something in it that makes me shiver.... Let us look.

_She takes the paper from the box and is about to open it when he
stops her_.

HE. No. Not now. I want to talk to you.

SHE (_lapsing into a hostile coldness_) Yes.

HE. You know what I have to say. I have said it so often. I shall say
it once more.

SHE. (_appealingly_) Luciano!

HE. No, let me speak. You are not happy. You do not love your husband.
And you are too young and beautiful to live without love.

SHE. Please!

HE. I love you. And you love me. Why do you not surrender yourself to

SHE. Why do you say such things? They hurt me.

HE. They are reality. Does reality hurt you? Are you living in a
shadow-world, that you should flinch from the hard touch of truth? I
say it again. I love you.

SHE. Before you started to talk like that, we were so happy together.

HE. Before I spoke out the truth of my own heart and yours. You didn't
want it spoken out. You didn't want to be told you were in love. It was
a thing too harsh and sweet. It frightened you to think of. You wanted
us to sit for ever, like two lovers painted on a fan, fixed in an
everlasting and innocuous bliss.

SHE. Well, you have succeeded in spoiling that. You have made me
unhappy, if that gives you any pleasure.

HE. It was not I who have spoiled your shadow-world. It is love, coming
like the dawn on wings of flame, and shattering the shadows with spears
of gold. It is love that has made you unhappy. You tremble at its
coming, and try to flee. But the day of love has come for you.

SHE. Ah, if it had only come before--before....

HE. Before you married that perverse old man. If it had come while you
were still a maiden, free, with a right to give yourself up to it! Ah,
you would have given yourself gloriously! It is beautiful--but it is a
dream, and the time calls for a deed. We love each other. We can take
our happiness now. Will you do it? Will you come away with me?

SHE. No.

HE. Then I if you cannot take your happiness, give me mine. If you
cannot be a woman, be an angel, and lean down from your dream heaven to
slake my earthly thirst.

SHE. No.

HE. No angel? Then a goddess! You want to be worshipped. You want to be
adored. I will worship you, but not from afar, I will adore you in my
own fashion. I will praise you without words, and you shall be the
answer to my prayer. Will you?

SHE. No.

HE. "No." "No." "No." How did your lips learn to say that word so
easily? They are not made to say such a word. They are too young, too
red, to say "No" to Life. When you say that word, the world grows
black. The stars go out, the leaves wither, the heart stops beating. It
is a word that kills. It is the word of Death. Dare you say it again?
Answer me, do we love each other? . . . Silence.

SHE. I think . . . I am going . . . to cry.

HE. And tears. Tears are a slave's answer. Speak. Defend yourself. Why
do you stay here? Why do you deny yourself happiness? Why won't you
come with me?

SHE. I cannot.

HE. Always the same phrase that means nothing. Ah, Violante, lady of
few words, you know how to baffle argument. If I could only make you
speak! If I could only see what the thoughts are that darken your will!

SHE. Don't.

HE. By God! I wonder that I don't hate you instead of love you. There
is something ignobly feminine about you. You are incapable of action--
almost incapable of speech. Your lips are shut tight against kisses,
and when they open to speak, all that they say is "Don't."

SHE. What do you expect to gain by scolding me?

HE. I gain the satisfaction of telling you the truth--that you have the
most cowardly soul that was ever belied by a glorious body. Who would
think to look at you that you were afraid?

SHE. It's no use bullying me.

HE. I know that, Violante. It's the poorest way to woo a woman. But I
have tried every other way. I have pleaded, and been answered with
silence. I have wooed you with caresses, and been answered with tears.

SHE. I am sorry, Luciano.

HE. I want you to be glad.

SHE. I am glad--glad of you--in spite of everything.

HE. Gladness is something fiercer than that. You are too tame. Oh, if I
could reach and rouse your soul!

SHE. My soul is yours already....

HE. And your body...?

SHE. It is impossible.

HE. No. It isn't impossible. But I'll tell you what is impossible.
This--for me to go on loving you and despising you.... I came here
today to make one last appeal to you. I don't mean it as a threat. But
I am going away tonight for ever--with you, or without you. You must

SHE. (_rising_) But--I don't want you to go, Luciano!

HE. You will miss me, I know. But don't think too much of that. You
will find a new friend--if you decide against me.

SHE. And I must decide now?

HE. Yes--now.

SHE. But how can I? Oh, Luciano!

HE. I know it is hard. But I will not make it harder. Violante: I have
sought to appeal to your emotion when my appeal to your will was in
vain. But tonight I will leave you to make your own decision. You must
come to me freely or not at all. There must be no regrets.

SHE. I cannot do it.

HE. If you say that when I return I will accept it as a final answer. I
am going out on the balcony--for a long minute. And while I am gone you
must decide what to do. Will you?

SHE. Yes.

HE. (_turning at the window_) And if while I am gone you wish to
recall my arguments to your mind--(_he points to the box on the
table_)--look in your mirror there. Your beauty will plead for me.
As Don Vincenzio said: Look long and well into that mirror, lady, and
profit by what you see.

_He goes out. . . . She looks after him, and when he is gone holds
out her arms towards the door. She makes a step towards it, and then
stops, her hands falling to her sides. Her head droops for a moment or
two, and then is slowly lifted. Her eyes sweep the room imploringly,
and rest on the image of the Virgin. She goes over to it and kneels_.

SHE. Mary, Mother of God, give me a sign. I do not know what to do.
Help me. I must decide. Love has entered my heart, and it may be that I
cannot be a good woman any longer. You will be kind to me, and pity me,
and send me a sign. Perhaps you will let me have my lover, for you are

_She crosses herself, rises, and looks around. She sees the box on
the table, and puts her hand to her face with a gesture of sudden
thought. She smiles_.

Perhaps that is the sign!

_She goes to the box and touches it_.

He said it would plead for him. . . .

_She opens it--and starts back with a gesture and a cry_.

It _is_ the sign!

_With one hand over her heart she approaches it again. She takes out
of the box and puts on the table a skull. . . . She stares at it a long
while, and then turns with a shiver_.

How cold it is here! Where are the lights?

_She is compelled to look again_.

I had never thought of death. My heart is cold, too. The chill of the
grave is on me. Was I ever in love? It seems strange to remember. What
is his name? I almost have forgotten. And he is waiting for me. I will
show him this. We should have looked at it together. . . .

_A silence, as her mood changes_.

So _he_ had planned it! He wanted to cast the chill of the grave
upon our love. He saw it all as though he had been here. He sent us--
this! How well he knew me--better than I knew myself. An old man's
cunning! To stop my pulses throbbing with love, and put out the fever
in my eyes. A trick! Yes, but it suffices. One look into the eyeless
face of Death turns me to ashes. I am no longer fit for love. . . .

_She turns to the door_.

Why does he not come for his answer?

_She looks for a lingering moment toward the door, and then turns
back again to the table. Her mood changes again_.

A present from a husband to a wife!

_She takes it up in her hands_.

A lady's mirror! What was it that he said? "Look long and well into
this mirror, and profit by what you see," My mirror from the Catacombs!

_She sinks into a chair, holding it between her hands as it rests on
the table. Her tone is trance-like_.

I look. I see the end of all things. I see that nothing matters. Is
that your message? Why do you grin at me? You laugh to think that my
face is like your face--or will be soon--in a few years-tomorrow. You
mock at me for thinking I am alive. I am dead, you say. Dead, like you.
Am I?

_She rises_.

No. Not yet. For a moment--a little lifetime--I have life, I Have lips
and eyelids made for kisses. I have hands that burn to give caresses,
and breasts that ache to take them. I have a body made to suffer the
deep stings of love. This flesh of mine shall be a golden web woven of
pain and joy.

_She takes up the skull again_.

You were alive once, and a virgin-martyr? You denied yourself love? You
sent away your lover? No wonder you speak so plainly to me now. Back,
girl, to your coffin!

_She puts the skull in the box, and closes the lid softly. She turns
to the door and waits. At last he enters_.

HE. (_dejected_) You have--decided?

SHE. Yes. I have decided.

HE. I knew. It is no use. I will go.

_He turns to the door_.

SHE. Wait! (_He turns back incredulously_.) I have decided to go
with you. (_He stands stock-still_.) Don't you understand? Take
me. I am yours. Don't you believe it?

HE. Violante!

SHE. It is hard to believe, isn't it. I have been a child. Now I am a
woman. And shall I tell you how I became a woman? (_She points to the
box on the table_.) I looked in my mirror there. I saw that I was
beautiful--and alive. Tell me, am I not beautiful--and alive?

HE. There is something terrible about you at this moment. I am almost
afraid of you.

SHE. Kiss me, Luciano!




"Sweet-and-Twenty" was first produced by the Provincetown Players, New
York City, in 1918, with the following cast:

The Young Woman ........ Edna St. Vincent
Millay The Young Man ... Ordway Tead
The Agent .............. Otto Liveright
The Guard .............. Louis Ell

The cherry-orchard scene was effectively produced on a small stage by a
blue-green back-drop with a single conventionalized cherry-branch
painted across it, and two three-leaved screens masking the wings,
painted in blue-green with a spray of cherry blossoms.

_A corner of the cherry orchard on the country place of the late Mr.
Boggley, now on sale and open for inspection to prospective buyers. The
cherry orchard, now in full bloom, is a very pleasant place. There is a
green-painted rustic bench beside the path. . . .

A young woman, dressed in a light summer frock and carrying a parasol,
drifts in from the back. She sees the bench, comes over to it and sits
down with an air of petulant weariness.

A handsome young man enters from the right. He stops short in surprise
on seeing the charming stranger who lolls upon the bench. He takes off
his hat_.

HE. Oh, I beg your pardon!

SHE. Oh, you needn't! I've no right to be here, either.

HE. (_coming over to her_) Now what do you mean by that?

SHE. I thought perhaps you were playing truant, as I am.

HE. Playing truant?

SHE. I was looking at the house, you know. And I got tired and ran

HE. Well, to tell the truth, so did I. It's dull work, isn't it?

SHE. I've been upstairs and down for two hours. That family portrait
gallery finished me. It was so old and gloomy and dead that I felt as
if I were dead myself. I just had to do something. I wanted to jab my
parasol through the window-pane. I understood just how the suffragettes
felt. But I was afraid of shocking the agent. He is such a meek little
man, and he seemed to think so well of me. If I had broken the window I
would have shattered his ideals of womanhood, too, I'm afraid. So I
just slipped away quietly and came here.

HE. I've only been there half an hour and we--I've only been in the
basement. That's why our tours of inspection didn't bring us together
sooner. I've been cross-examining the furnace. Do you understand
furnaces? (_He sits down beside her_) I don't.

SHE. Do you like family portraits? I hate 'em!

HE. What! Do the family portraits go with the house?

SHE. No, thank heaven. They've been bequeathed to some museum, I am
told. They're valuable historically--early colonial governors and all
that sort of stuff. But there is some one with me who--who takes a deep
interest in such things.

HE. (_frowning at a sudden memory_) Hm. Didn't I see you at that real
estate office in New York yesterday?

SHE. Yes. _He_ was with me then.

HE. (_compassionately_) I--I thought I remembered seeing you
with--with him.

SHE. (_cheerfully_) Isn't he _just_ the sort of man who would be
interested in family portraits?

HE. (_confused_) Well--since you ask me--

SHE. Oh, that's all right. Tubby's a dear, in spite of his funny old
ideas. I like him very much.

HE. (_gulping the pill_) Yes....

SHE. He's so anxious to please me in buying this house. I suppose it's
all right to have a house, but I'd like to become acquainted with it
gradually. I'd like to feel that there was always some corner left to
explore--some mystery saved up for a rainy day. Tubby can't understand
that. He drags me everywhere, explaining how we'll keep this and change
that--dormer windows here and perhaps a new wing there.... I suppose
you've been rebuilding the house, too?

HE. No. Merely decided to turn that sunny south room into a study. It
would make a very pleasant place to work. But if you really want the
place, I'd hate to take it away from you.

SHE. I was just going to say that if _you_ really wanted it, _I'd_
withdraw. It was Tubby's idea to buy it, you know--not mine. You _do_
want it, don't you?

HE. I can't say that I do. It's so infernally big. But Maria thinks I
ought to have it. (_Explanatorily_)--Maria is--

SHE. (_gently_) She's--the one who is interested in furnaces. I
understand. I saw her with you at the real-estate office yesterday.
Well--furnaces are necessary, I suppose. (_There is a pause, which
she breaks suddenly_.) Do you see that bee?

HE. A bee?

_He follows her gaze up to a cluster of blossoms_.

SHE. Yes--there! (_Affectionately_)--The rascal! There he goes.

_Their eyes follow the flight of the bee across the orchard. There is
a silence. Alone together beneath the blossoms, a spell seems to have
fallen upon them. She tries to think of something to say--and at last

SHE. Have you heard the story of the people who used to live here?

HE. No; why?

SHE. The agent was telling us. It's quite romantic--and rather sad. You
see, the man that built this house was in love with a girl. He was
building it for her--as a surprise. But he had neglected to mention to
her that he was in love with her. And so, in pique, she married another
man, though she was really in love with him. The news came just when he
had finished the house. He shut it up for a year or two, but eventually
married some one else, and they lived I here for ten years--most
unhappily. Then they went abroad, and the house was sold. It was
bought, curiously enough, by the husband of the girl he had been in
love with. They lived here till they died-hating each other to the end,
the agent says.

HE. It gives me the shivers. To think of that house, haunted by the
memories of wasted love! Which of us, I wonder, will have to live in
it? I don't want to.

SHE. (_prosaically_) Oh, don't take it so seriously as all that.
If one can't live in a house where there's been an unhappy marriage,
why, good heavens, where is one going to live? Most marriages, I fancy,
are unhappy.

HE. A bitter philosophy for one so young and--

SHE. Nonsense! But listen to the rest of the story. The most
interesting part is about this very orchard.

HE. Really!

SHE. Yes. This orchard, it seems, was here before the house was. It was
part of an old farm where he and she--the unhappy lovers, you know--
stopped one day, while they were out driving, and asked for something
to eat. The farmer's wife was busy, but she gave them each a glass of
milk, and told them they could eat all the cherries they wanted.
So they picked a hatful of cherries, and ate them, sitting on a bench
like this one. And then he fell in love with her. . . .

HE. And . . . didn't tell her so. . . .

_She glances at him in alarm. His self-possession has vanished. He is
pale and frightened, but there is a desperate look in his eyes, as if
some unknown power were forcing him to do something very rash. In
short, he seems like a young man who has just fallen in love_.

SHE. (_hastily_) So you see this orchard is haunted, too!

HE. I feel it. I seem to hear the ghost of that old-time lover
whispering to me. . . .

SHE. (_provocatively_) Indeed! What does he say?

HE. He says: "I was a coward; you must be bold. I was silent; you must
speak out."

SHE. (_mischievously_) That's very curious--because that old lover
isn't dead at all. He's a Congressman or Senator or something, the
Agent says.

HE. (_earnestly_) It's all the same. His youth is dead; and it is
his youth that speaks to me.

SHE. _quickly_ You mustn't believe all that ghosts tell you.

HE. Oh, but I must. For they know the folly of silence--the bitterness
of cowardice.

SHE. The circumstances were--slightly--different, weren't they?

HE. (_stubbornly_) I don't care!

SHE. (_soberly_) You know perfectly well it's no use.

HE. I can't help that!

SHE. Please! You simply mustn't! It's disgraceful!

HE. What's disgraceful?

SHE. (_confused_) What you are going to say.

HE. (_simply_) Only that I love you. What is there disgraceful about
that? It's beautiful!

SHE. It's wrong.

HE. It's inevitable.

SHE. Why inevitable? Can't you talk with a girl in an orchard for half
an hour without falling in love with her?

HE. Not if the girl is you.

SHE. But why especially _me_?

HE. I don't know. Love--is a mystery. I only know that I was destined
to love you.

SHE. How can you be so sure?

HE. Because you have changed the world for me. It's as though I had
been groping about in the dark, and then--sunrise! And there's a queer
feeling here. (_He puts his hand on his heart_.) To tell the honest
truth, there's a still queerer feeling in the pit of my stomach.
It's a gone feeling, if you must know. And my knees are weak. I know
now why men used to fall on their knees when they told a girl they
loved her; it was because they couldn't stand up. And there's a feeling
in my feet as though I were walking on air. And--

SHE. (_faintly_) That's enough!

HE. And I could die for you and be glad of the chance. It's perfectly
absurd, but it's absolutely true. I've never spoken to you before, and
heaven knows I may never get a chance to speak to you again, but I'd
never forgive myself if I didn't say this to you now. I love you! love
you! love you! Now tell me I'm a fool. Tell me to go. Anything--I've
said my say. . . . Why don't you speak?

SHE. I--I've nothing to say--except--except that I--well--(_almost
inaudibly_) I feel some of those symptoms myself.

ME. (_triumphantly_) You love me!

SHE. I--don't know. Yes. Perhaps.

HE. Then kiss me!

SHE. (_doubtfully_) No. . . .

HE. Kiss me!

SHE. (_tormentedly_) Oh, what's the use?

HE. I don't know. I don't care. I only know that we love each other.

SHE. (_after a moment's hesitation, desperately_) I don't care,
either! I do want to kiss you.

_She does. . . . He is the first to awake from the ecstasy_.

HE. It is wrong--

SHE. (_absently_) Is it?

HE. But, oh heaven! kiss me again! (_She does_.)

SHE. Darling!

HE. Do you suppose any one is likely to come this way?

SHE. No.

HE. (_speculatively_) Your husband is probably still in the portrait

SHE. My husband! (_Drawing away_) What do you mean? (_Thoroughly
awake now_) You didn't think--? (_She jumps up and laughs
convulsively_.) You thought poor old Tubby was my husband?

HE. (_staring up at her bewildered_) Why, isn't he your husband?

SHE. (_scornfully_) No!! He's my uncle!

HE. Your unc--

SHE. Yes, of course! (_Indignantly_) Do you suppose I would be
married to a man that's fat and bald and forty years old?

HE. (_distressed_) I--I beg your pardon. I did think so.

SHE. Just because you saw me with him? How ridiculous!

HE. It was a silly mistake. But--the things you said! You spoke so--
realistically--about marriage.

SHE. It was your marriage I was speaking about. (_With hasty
compunction_) Oh, I beg your--

HE. My marriage! (_He rises_.) Good heavens! And to whom, pray,
did you think I was married? (_A light dawning_) To Maria? Why,
Maria is my aunt!

SHE. Yes--of course. How stupid of me.

HE. Let's get this straight. Are you married to _anybody_?

SHE. Certainly not. As if I would let myself be made love to, if I were
a married woman!

HE. Now don't put on airs. You did something quite as improper. You
made love to a married man.

SHE. I didn't.

HE. It's the same thing. You thought I was married.

SHE. But you aren't.

HE. No. I'm not married. And--and--_you're_ not married. (_The
logic of the situation striking him all of a sudden_) In fact--!
_He pauses, rather alarmed_.

SHE. Yes?

HE. In fact--well--there's no reason in the world why we _shouldn't_
make love to each other!

SHE. (_equally startled_) Why--that's so!

HE. Then--then--shall we?

SHE. (_sitting down and looking demurely at her toes_) Oh, not if
you don't want to!

HE. (_adjusting himself to the situation_) Well--under the
circumstances--I suppose I ought to begin by asking you to marry me. .

SHE. (_languidly, with a provoking glance_) You don't seem very
anxious to.

HE. (_feeling at a disadvantage_) It isn't that--but--well--

SHE. (_lightly_) Well what?

HE. Dash it all, I don't know your name!

SHE. (_looking at him with mild curiosity_) That didn't seem to stop
you a while ago....

HE. (_doggedly_) Well, then--will you marry me?

SHE. (_promptly_) No.

HE. (_surprised_) No! Why do you say that?

SHE. (_coolly_) Why should I marry you? I know nothing about you.
I've known you for less than an hour.

HE. (_sardonically_) That fact didn't seem to keep you from kissing me.

SHE. Besides--I don't like the way you go about it. If you'd propose
the same way you made love to me, maybe I'd accept you.

HE. All right. (_Dropping on one knee before her_) Beloved! (_An
awkward pause_) No, I can't do it. (_He gets up and distractedly
dusts off his knees with his handkerchief_.) I'm very sorry.

SHE. (_with calm inquiry_) Perhaps it's because you don't love me
any more?

HE. (_fretfully_) Of course I love you!

SHE. (_coldly_) But you don't want to marry me.... I see.

HE. Not at all! I do want to marry you. But--

SHE. Well?

HE. Marriage is a serious matter. Now don't take offense! I only meant
that-well--(_He starts again_.) We _are_ in love with each other, and
that's the important thing. But, as you said, we don't know each other.
I've no doubt that when we get acquainted we will like each other
better still. But we've got to get acquainted first.

SHE. (_rising_) You're just like Tubby buying a house. You want to
know all about it. Well! I warn you that you'll never know all about
me. So you needn't try.

HE. (_apologetically_) It was _your_ suggestion.

SHE. (_impatiently_) Oh, all right! Go ahead and cross-examine me
if you like. I'll tell you to begin with that I'm perfectly healthy,
and that there's no T. B., insanity, or Socialism in my family. What
else do you want to know?

HE.(_hesitantly_) Why did you put in Socialism, along with insanity and
T. B.?

SHE. Oh, just for fun. You aren't a Socialist, are you?

HE. Yes. (_Earnestly_) Do you know what Socialism is?

SHE. (_innocently_) It's the same thing as Anarchy, isn't it?

HE. (_gently_) No. At least not my kind. I believe in municipal
ownership of street cars, and all that sort of thing. I'll give you
some books to read.

SHE. Well, I never ride in street cars, so I don't care whether they're
municipally owned or not. By the way, do you dance?

HE. No.

SHE. You must learn right away. I can't bother to teach you myself, but
I know where you can get private lessons and become really good in a
month. It is stupid not to be able to dance.

HE. (_as if he had tasted quinine_) I can see myself doing the tango!

SHE. The tango went out long ago, my dear.

HE. (_with great decision_) Well--I _won't_ learn to dance. You might
as well know that to begin with.

SHE. And I won't read your old books on Socialism. You might as well
know that to begin with!

HE. Come, come! This will never do. You see, my dear, it's simply that
I _can't_ dance, and there's no use for me to try to learn.

SHE. Anybody can learn. I've made expert dancers out of the awkwardest

HE. But, you see, I've no inclination toward dancing. It's out of my

SHE. And I've no inclination toward municipal ownership. _It's_ out of
_my_ world!

HE. It ought not to be out of the world of any intelligent person.

SHE. (_turning her back on him_) All right--if you want to call me

HE. (_turning and looking away meditatively_) It appears that we
have very few tastes in common.

SHE. (_tapping her foot_) So it seems.

HE. If we married we might be happy for a month--

SHE. Perhaps.

_They remain with their backs to each other_.

HE. And then--the old story. Quarrels. . . .

SHE. I never could bear quarrels. . . .

HE. An unhappy marriage. . . .

SHE. (_realizing it_) Oh!

HE. (_hopelessly turning toward her_) I can't marry you.

SHE. (_recovering quickly and facing him with a smile_) Nobody asked
you, sir!

HE. (_with a gesture of finality_) Well--there seems to be no more
to say.

SHE. (_sweetly_) Except good-bye.

HE. (_firmly_) Good-by, then.

_He holds out his hand_.

SHE. (_taking it_) Good-bye!

HE. (_taking her other hand--after a pause, helplessly_) Good-bye!

SHE. (_drowning in his eyes_) Good-bye!

_They cling to each other, and are presently lost in a passionate
embrace. He breaks loose and stamps away, then turns to her_.

HE. Damn it all, we _do_ love each other!

SHE. (_wiping her eyes_) What a pity that is the only taste we
have in common!

HE. Do you suppose that is enough?

SHE. I wish it were!

HE. A month of happiness--

SHE. Yes!

HE. And then--wretchedness,

SHE. No--never!

HE. We mustn't do it.

SHE. I suppose not.

HE. Come, let us control ourselves.

SHE. Yes, let's (_They take hands again_.)

HE. (_with an effort_) I wish you happiness. I--I'll go to Europe
for a year. Try to forget me.

SHE. I shall be married when you get back--perhaps.

HE. I hope it's somebody that's not bald and fat and forty.

SHE. And you--for goodness sake! marry a girl that's very young and
very, very pretty. That will help.

HE. We mustn't prolong this. If we stay together another minute--

SHE. Then go!

HE. I can't go!

SHE. You must, darling! You must!

HE. Oh, if somebody would only come along!

_They are leaning toward each other, dizzy upon the brink of another
kiss, when somebody does come--a short, mild-looking man in a derby
hat. There is an odd gleam in his eyes_.

THE INTRUDER. (_startled_) Excuse me!

_They turn and stare at him, but their hands cling fast to each other_.

SHE. (_faintly_) The Agent!

THE AGENT. (_in despairing accents_) Too late! Too late!

THE YOUNG MAN. No! Just in time!

THE AGENT. Too late, I say! I will go.

_He turns away_.


THE AGENT. What's the use? It has already begun. What good can I do

THE YOUNG MAN. I'll show you what good you can do now. Come here!
(_The Agent approaches_.), Can you unloose my hands from those of
this young woman?

THE YOUNG WOMAN. (_haughtily, releasing herself and walking away_)
You needn't trouble! I can do it myself.

THE YOUNG MAN. Thank you. It was utterly beyond my power. (_To the
Agent_)--Will you kindly take hold of me and move me over there?
(_The Agent propels him away from the girl_.) Thank you. At this
distance I can perhaps say farewell in a seemly and innocuous manner.

THE AGENT. Young man, you will not say farewell to that young lady for
ten days-and perhaps never!


THE AGENT. They have arranged it all.

THE YOUNG MAN. _Who_ have arranged _what_?

THE AGENT. Your aunt, Miss Brooke--and (_to the young woman_) your
uncle, Mr. Egerton--

_The young people turn and stare at each other in amazement_.

THE YOUNG MAN. Egerton! Are you Helen Egerton?

HELEN. And are you George Brooke?

THE AGENT. Your aunt and uncle have just discovered each other up at
the house, and they have arranged for you all to take dinner together
tonight, and then go to a ten-day house-party at Mr. Egerton's place on
Long Island. (_Grimly_) The reason of all this will be plain to
you. They want you two to get married.

GEORGE. Then we're done for! We'll have to get married now whether we
want to or not!

HELEN. What! Just to please _them_? I shan't do it!

GEORGE. (_gloomily_) You don't know my Aunt Maria.

HELEN. And Tubby will try to bully me, I suppose. But I won't do it--no
matter what he says!

THE AGENT. Pardon what may seem an impertinence, Miss; but is it really
true that you don't want to marry this young man?

HELEN. (_flaming_) I suppose because you saw me in his arms--! Oh,
I want to, all right, but--

THE AGENT. (_mildly_) Then what seems to be the trouble?

HELEN. I--oh, you explain to him, George.

_She goes to the bench and sits down_.

GEORGE. Well, it's this way. As you may have deduced from what you saw,
we are madly in love with each other--

HELEN. (_from the bench_) But I'm not madly in love with municipal
ownership. That's the chief difficulty.

GEORGE. No, the chief difficulty is that I refuse to entertain even a
platonic affection for the tango.

HELEN. (_irritably_) I told you the tango had gone out long ago!

GEORGE. Well, then, the maxixe.

HELEN. Stupid!

GEORGE. And there you have it! No doubt it seems ridiculous to you.

THE AGENT. (_gravely_) Not at all, my boy. I've known marriage to
go to smash on far less than that. When you come to think of it, a
taste for dancing and a taste for municipal ownership stand at the two
ends of the earth away from each other. They represent two different
ways of taking life. And if two people who live in the same house can't
agree on those two things, they'd disagree on a hundred things that
came up every day. And what's the use for two different kinds of beings
to try to live together? It doesn't work, no matter how much, love
there is between them.

GEORGE. (_rushing up to him in surprise and gratification, and
shaking his hand warmly_) Then you're on our side! You'll help us
not to get married!

THE AGENT. Your aunt is very set on it--and your uncle, too, Miss!

HELEN. We must find some way to get out of it, or they'll have us
cooped up together in that house before we know it. (_Rising and
coming over to the Agent_) Can't you think up some scheme?

THE AGENT. Perhaps I can, and perhaps I can't. I'm a bachelor myself,
Miss, and that means that I've thought up many a scheme to get out of
marriage myself.

HELEN. (_outraged_) You old scoundrel!

THE AGENT. Oh, it's not so bad as you may think, Miss. I've always gone
through the marriage ceremony to please them. But that's not what I
call marriage.

GEORGE. Then what _do_ you call marriage?

HELEN. Yes, I'd like to know!

THE AGENT. Marriage, my young friends, is an iniquitous arrangement
devised by the Devil himself for driving all the love out of the hearts
of lovers. They start out as much in love with each other as you two
are today, and they end by being as sick of the sight of each other as
you two will be five years hence if I don't find a way of saving you
alive out of the Devil's own trap. It's not lack of love that's the
trouble with marriage--it's marriage itself. And when I say marriage, I
don't mean promising to love, honour, and obey, for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health till death do you part--that's only human
nature to wish and to attempt. And it might be done if it weren't for
the iniquitous arrangement of marriage.

GEORGE. (_puzzled_) But what is the iniquitous arrangement?

THE AGENT. Ah, that's the trouble! If I tell you, you won't believe me.
You'll go ahead and try it out, and find out what all the unhappy ones
have found out before you. Listen to me, my children. Did you ever go
on a picnic? (_He looks from one to the other--they stand astonished
and silent_.) Of course you have. Every one has. There is an
instinct in us which makes us go back to the ways of our savage
ancestors--to gather about a fire in the forest, to cook meat on a
pointed stick, and eat it with our fingers. But how many books would
you write, young man, if you had to go back to the campfire every day
for your lunch? And how many new dances would _you_ invent if you
lived eternally in the picnic stage of civilization? No! the picnic is
incompatible with everyday living. As incompatible as marriage.


HELEN. But--

THE AGENT. Marriage is the nest-building instinct, turned by the Devil
himself into an institution to hold the human soul in chains. The whole
story of marriage is told in the old riddle: "Why do birds in their
nests agree? Because if they don't, they'll fall out." That's it.
Marriage is a nest so small that there is no room in it for
disagreement. Now it may be all right for birds to agree, but human
beings are not built that way. They disagree, and home becomes a little
hell. Or else they do agree, at the expense of the soul's freedom
stifled in one or both.

HELEN. Yes, but tell me--


THE AGENT. Yet there _is_ the nest-building instinct. You feel it,
both of you. If you don't now, you will as soon as you are married. If
you are fools, you will try to live all your lives in a love-nest; and
you will imprison your souls within it, and the Devil will laugh.

HELEN. (_to George_) I am beginning to be afraid of him.

GEORGE. So am I.

THE AGENT. If you are wise, you will build yourselves a little nest
secretly in the woods, away from civilization, and you will run away
together to that nest whenever you are in the mood. A nest so small
that it will hold only two beings and one thought--the thought of love.
And then you will come back refreshed to civilization, where every soul
is different from every other soul--you will let each other alone,
forget each other, and do your own work in peace. Do you understand?

HELEN. He means we should occupy separate sides of the house, I think.
Or else that we should live apart and only see each other on week-ends.
I'm not sure which.

THE AGENT. (_passionately_) I mean that you should not stifle love
with civilization, nor encumber civilization with love. What have they
to do with each other? You think you want a fellow student of
economics. You are wrong. _You_ think you want a dancing partner.
You are mistaken. You want a revelation of the glory of the universe.

HELEN. (_to George, confidentially_) It's blithering nonsense, of
course. But it _was_ something like that--a while ago.

GEORGE. (_bewilderedly_) Yes; when we knew it was our first kiss
and thought it was to be our last.

THE AGENT. (_fiercely_) A kiss is always the first kiss and the
last--or it is nothing.

HELEN. (_conclusively_) He's quite mad.

GEORGE. Absolutely.

THE AGENT. Mad? Of course I am mad. But--

_He turns suddenly, and subsides as a man in a, guard's uniform

THE GUARD. Ah, here you are! Thought you'd given us the slip, did you?
(_To the others_) Escaped from the Asylum, he did, a week ago, and
got a job here. We've been huntin' him high and low. Come along now!

GEORGE. (_recovering with difficulty the power of speech_)
What--what's the matter with him?

THE GUARD. Matter with him? He went crazy, he did, readin' the works of
Bernard Shaw. And if he wasn't in the insane asylum he'd be in jail.
He's a bigamist, he is. He married fourteen women. But none of 'em
would go on the witness stand against him. Said he was an ideal
husband, they did. Fourteen of 'em! But otherwise he's perfectly

THE AGENT. (_pleasantly_) Perfectly harmless! Yes, perfectly

_He is led out_.

HELEN. That explains it all!

GEORGE. Yes--and yet I feel there was something in what he was saying.

HELEN. Well--are we going to get married or not? We've got to decide
that before we face my uncle and your aunt.

GEORGE. Of course we'll get married. You have your work and I mine,

HELEN. Well, if we do, then you can't have that sunny south room for a
study. I want it for the nursery.

GEORGE. The nursery!

HELEN. Yes; babies, you know!

GEORGE. Good heavens!




"A Long Time Ago" was first produced by the Provincetown Players, New
York City, in 1917, with the following cast:

The Old Woman .............. Miriam Kiper
The Fool.................... Duncan MacDougal
The Queen................... Ida Rauh
The Sailor.................. George Cram Cook
The Prince.................. Pendleton King

_The courtyard of a palace. On one side, broad steps, and a door,
leading to the palace. On the other, steps leading downward. At the
back, a rose-arbour, and in front of it a wide seat.

On the steps before the door a fool is sitting, plucking at a musical
instrument. On the lower steps stands an old woman, richly dressed_.

THE OLD WOMAN. Why do you sit there, fool, and twang at that harp?
There's no occasion for making music. Nobody has been winning any
battles. How long has it been since a great fight was heard of?

THE FOOL. If there had been a battle, old woman, they would have had to
get some one besides myself to celebrate the winning of it. I do not
like fighting.

THE OLD WOMAN. What does a scrawny little weakling like you know of
fighting, and why should you have an opinion?

THE FOOL. The days of fighting are over, and a good thing it is, too.
Four kingdoms we have about us, that in the bloody old days we would be
for ever marching against, and they against us, killing and burning and
destroying the crops till a quiet man would be sick to think of it. But
that's all past. Twenty years we have been at peace with them, and
that's ever since the young queen was born, and I hope it may last as
long as she lives.

THE OLD WOMAN. There's no stopping a fool when he starts to talk. But
it is right you are that the good old days are gone. Those were the
days of great heroes, like the father of her that is now Queen. They
were fine men that stood beside him, and one was my own man. I said to
him, "This is the time a brave man is sure to be killed. If you come
back to me, I'll always think you were a coward." He died along with a
thousand of the best men in the kingdom fighting around the King. That
was a great day. Four kingdoms at once we fought, and beat them to
their knees. Glad enough they were to make peace with the child of that
dead king.

THE FOOL. Spare me, woman. I've heard that old story often enough. What
do you suppose all that fighting was for, if it wasn't to put an end to
quarrelling for all time? If the old King was alive now, he'd sit in
his palace and drink his ale and listen to music, and when he saw the
young men giving kisses to the young women under the trees he'd be glad
enough. But you still go cawing for blood, like an old crow.

THE OLD WOMAN. I'll not talk to such a one. You can see with your own
eyes that our enemies are strong and prosperous. We let them into the
kingdom with their silks and their satins and their jewels to sell.
They walk about the city here and laugh to themselves, thinking how
they will spoil and destroy everything soon. It may be this year, it
may be next year. If the old King were alive, he'd never have let them
get half so strong. He would have kept them in fear of us, and trained
up a fine band of heroes, too, making raids on them once in a while.
There's the city that shoves itself right up against our borders--I can
see our men coming home from the spoiling of it, all red with spilt
wine and blood. . . .

THE FOOL. You're a disgusting old woman. If I hear any more of that
talk, I'm likely to slap the face of you, even if you are the Queen's
nurse. Go away before you spoil my afternoon.

THE OLD WOMAN. I could speak to the Queen and have you beaten, do you
know that?

THE FOOL. Woman, go away. I do not want to be bothered by the old and
the garrulous. I am composing a love-song.

THE OLD WOMAN. Has any one ever loved you, I would like to know? Now if
it were that young prince who is staying with us, he would have some
right to make love-songs--if what they say is true, that every woman he
meets on his journey falls in love with him. Even our own Queen, I am
thinking. But only three days does he stay in any place, and then he is
up and gone on his long journey that nobody understands the reason or
the end of, from the east to the west. He is too wise to be held by
such toys as love.

THE FOOL. Then he is more a fool than I.

THE OLD WOMAN. Who should know about love, if not a man who has been
loved by many women and by great queens? But you, what do you know
about it?

THE FOOL. The trouble with the old is that they forget so many things.
I am sorry for you, woman. You think yourself wise, but the fool that
sits at the Queen's doorstep and looks at her as she passes, and she
never seeing him at all, is wiser than you.

THE OLD WOMAN. I have wasted enough words with you. I will go away and
sit in the sun and think of the days when there were heroes.

_She goes_.

THE FOOL. And I will make a song about love. I will make a song about
the love that is too high for pride and too deep for shame.

_The door has opened, and the young Queen stands looking down at him_.

THE QUEEN. What is that, fool? What are the words you are saying?

THE FOOL. (_kneeling_) I was speaking of a love that is too high
for pride and too deep for shame.

THE QUEEN. And whose love is that, fool?

THE FOOL. It is the love of all who really love, and it is the only
love worth making a song about.

THE QUEEN. (_smiling_) And how do you come to be so wise as to know
about such things?

THE FOOL. I know because I am a fool.

THE QUEEN. I am well answered. And you are not the only fool in the
world, I am thinking. But tell me, fool, have you seen any of the
Prince's men here?

THE FOOL. No, but I have heard that the ship is being got ready for
sailing. . . .

THE QUEEN. (_rebukingly_) I did not ask you that. (_She is about to go,
but turns back, and gives him a piece of money_.) This is for you to
buy wine with and get drunken. You are not amusing when you are sober.
(_She starts to go, but turns again_.) Fool, do you believe in magic?

THE FOOL. I have heard that the old wizard who lives in a cave down by
the shore is able to rouse storms and keep vessels from sailing.....

THE QUEEN. (_looking at him, for a moment fixedly_) I have a great
mind to have you poisoned. Here, take this, and remember that I said to
be drunken.

_She gives him another piece of money, and goes off by way of the
rose-trellised passage-way. A sailor comes up the steps_.

THE SAILOR. Fool, where is the Prince?

THE FOOL. I do not know, sailor, but I can tell you what I think.

THE SAILOR. What difference does it make what you think? I have a
message to deliver to him.

THE FOOL. I think that the Queen has sung him to sleep, and that he has
not yet awakened.

THE SAILOR. It is likely enough. But I have been sent by the captain,
and I must see him.

THE FOOL. You look hot.

THE SAILOR. I am so hot and thirsty that I could drink a barrelful of
wine. It is well enough for the Prince to lie about and eat and drink
and be sung to by pretty women, but we sailors have work to do. This
business of staying only three days in each port disgusts me. No sooner
do we get ashore than we have to go back on board again. I saw a girl
yesterday, a beauty, and not afraid of a man. There must be many like
that here, but what good does it do me? I spent all my money on her,
and now I can't even get a drink. It's a shame.

THE FOOL. Would you like a drink?

THE SAILOR. Fool, don't make a mock of my thirst, or I'll twist your

THE FOOL. Look at this. (_Shows him a coin_.)

THE SAILOR. What a piece of luck! Is it real money? Where did you get

THE FOOL. Your prince gave it to me, and said I was to treat any of his
sailors that I came across.

THE SAILOR. Then it's all right. Why didn't you say so before? Come
along. If you were as thirsty as I am--!

_They go down the steps. The door opens, and the Prince comes out. He
looks up and down_.

THE PRINCE. And now begins again my long journey from the east to the
west. . . .

_The old woman appears_.

THE OLD WOMAN. Well, have you waked at last?

THE PRINCE. You are a bitter-tongued old woman. But for all that, I
think you are my friend. Perhaps the only friend I have here.

THE OLD WOMAN. You are right. For all that you sleep your holiday away,
you are a brave man. And I am the only one in this kingdom that thinks
well of bravery. The rest want to smother it with kisses.

THE PRINCE. True enough. I feel that already I am becoming soft. Never
before have I been unwilling to leave a city--

THE OLD WOMAN. Or a Queen. . . .

THE PRINCE. I must go on board ship. Is it ready, I wonder? The captain
promised to send word to me. . . .

THE OLD WOMAN. Yes, it is time you went, before they have made a lapdog
of you.

THE PRINCE. You speak very freely. Are you not afraid of the Queen?

THE OLD WOMAN. She does not know what she is doing. She has grown up in
a base time of peace, and she does not understand that it is not a
man's business to sleep and drink wine and exchange kisses with pretty
queens. She would turn you from your purpose--

THE PRINCE. My purpose? What do you know of my purpose?

THE OLD WOMAN. I have not guessed your secret. But I know that you are
not merely taking a pleasure journey. I have seen heroes, and you have
the eyes of one. The end of all this journeying from the east to the
west is something great and terrible--and I will not have you turned

THE PRINCE. Something great and terrible....Yes....

THE OLD WOMAN. You have the look of one who does not care for rest or
peace or the love of a woman for more than a day. But there is a
weakness in you, too. If you would go, go quickly.

THE PRINCE. I wonder why the sailor does not come. It looks like a

_The sky has become ominously dark_.

THE OLD WOMAN. Would a storm hold you back?

THE PRINCE. Is that what you think of me, old woman?

THE OLD WOMAN. Well, we shall see what stuff you are made of....

_She shuffles off. The Queen enters_.

THE QUEEN. (_coming up to him, tenderly_) When did you wake?

THE PRINCE. Did you think your voice had enough magic in it to make me
sleep till you returned? We have just time to say farewell.

THE QUEEN. There is a storm coming up. Do you see how black the sky is?

THE PRINCE. I am not afraid of storms.

THE QUEEN. Of course you are not afraid of storms. Did you think you
had to prove your bravery?

THE PRINCE. The three days are over.

THE QUEEN. And how quickly!

THE PRINCE. I told you I could stay only three days.

THE QUEEN. I thought you were a king, and could do whatever you

THE PRINCE. I have chosen to stay only three days.

THE QUEEN. In what way have I offended you?

THE PRINCE. I made my choice long ago, before I knew you.

THE QUEEN. And now you are afraid to change your mind?

THE PRINCE. Do you think a brave man changes his mind for pleasure's

THE QUEEN. Forgive me. If it is your happiness to go on, to what end I
do not know, I will let you. I do not wish to make you unhappy. But I
would give you something to take with you, one more flower of my
garden, an unfading rose that shall be like a bright memory of me in
your heart always. Will you take it?

_She leads him back into the palace. The sailor enters, supported by
the fool_.

THE SAILOR. (_drunkenly_) Where--where is my Prince? I have a
message for him.

THE FOOL. So you said. But you haven't finished telling me about that
girl. Her eyes were blue, you said.

THE SAILOR. Blue, yes. If I said blue, then blue it was. Or maybe
green, or grey. Maybe I'm. thinking of the hussy back in the last port
we stopped at. It's all the same. Reminds me of a little song. Shall I
sing you a little song?

THE FOOL. Another song? Sing away then.

THE SAILOR. First another drink from this flagon. Ah! Now I'm ready.
I've often been complimented on my voice. (_Sings_)

  We'll go no more a-roving-

No, that's not the one. Let me see. Ah, now I've got it. Listen.

  Blue eyes, grey eyes, green-and-gold eyes,
  Eyes that question, doubt, deny,
  Sudden-flashing, cold, hard, bold eyes,
  Here's your answer: I am I!

  Not for you, and not for any,
  Came I into this man's town--
  Barkeep, here's my golden penny,
  Come who will and drink it down!

  I'm not one to lend and borrow,
  I'm not one to overstay--
  I shall go alone tomorrow
  Whistling, as I came today.

  Leave my sword alone, you hussy!
  There is blood upon the blade--
  Dragon-slaying is a messy
  Sort of trade. Put back the blade!

  Take my knee and--O you darling!
  A man forgets how sweet you are!
  Snarling dragons--flowing flagons--
  Devil take the morning star!

THE FOOL. Bravo!

THE SAILOR. And there you are! If I do say it myself, I have as good a
time as the Prince does. One girl's as nice as another--and maybe
nicer, at that. What's a Queen? Can she kiss better than any other
girl? I've wondered a bit about it. And the conclusion I've come to
is... the conclusion I've come to...

THE FOOL. The conclusion you've come to is--?

THE SAILOR. Right you are. Give me that flagon. That's the stuff. What
was I saying? The conclusion I've come to is that the Prince can't have
any more fun in three days than any other man. Queen or no Queen. Am I
right? Tell me, am I right?

THE FOOL. I wouldn't contradict you....

THE SAILOR. No. Of course you wouldn't. You're a good fellow. You're my
friend. Where's that flagon? Ah! And now it's your turn to sing. Sing
that little song you sang a while ago. That was a good one. You sing
almost as well as I do.

THE FOOL. (_chants_)

  In this harsh world and old
  Why must we cherish
  Fires that grow not cold
  In hearts that perish?

  With the strong floods of hate
  I cleansed my bosom,
  But springeth soon and late
  The fiery blossom.

  What though some lying tale
  The mind dissembles?
  The scarlet lip turns pale,
  The strong hand trembles....

THE SAILOR. No, no, not that one! That one hasn't any tune to it, and
it isn't about girls. It's no song at all. I meant the one--you know--
about the young widow. How did it go? (_He swigs from the flagon_.) But
I mustn't forget the Prince. Where's that Prince?

THE FOOL. Oh, yes, the Prince. Of course. We mustn't forget the Prince.
Come along with me. (_He leads the sailor off through the rose-arbour.
The door of the palace opens, disclosing the Prince and the Queen_.)

_He clasps her hands and then descends the steps_.


_She runs down, and tenderly embraces him_.

THE PRINCE. Farewell.

THE QUEEN. Must you go?

THE PRINCE. I shall remember you always.

THE QUEEN. (_bitterly_) I suppose that is enough. . . .

_They come down the steps together_.

THE PRINCE. What is that you say?

THE QUEEN. I say that it is enough that you should think of me
sometimes on your long journey from the east to the west. To be
remembered--that is the portion of women.

THE PRINCE. You knew what manner of man I was, and that I would not be
detained. Why, if you must have the taste of kisses on your lips
always, did you not turn to some man of your own land, who would not
stray from your side? Why did you give your love to one you had never
seen before, and will never see again? I did not ask that you love me.
What you gave, I took.

THE QUEEN. I regret nothing that I have given. But I am sorry for you,
because you do not understand.

THE PRINCE. It may be that I do not understand. But I know that I may
not stay longer in this place. Would you ask me to do otherwise?

THE QUEEN. I would not ask you, no. If you understood, I would have no
need of asking. If all things in your life have not changed colour and
significance--if I have been to you but as a harlot to one of your
sailors,--then leave me.

THE PRINCE. (_confusedly_) It is not true that nothing has changed. My
mind is in a turmoil. I am dizzy, I cannot see. I have almost forgotten
why I set my heart on this journey. You have bewitched me, and that is
why I fear you. If I stay here with you any longer, I shall forget
everything. I must go.

THE QUEEN. (_her arms about him_) You have forgotten the meaning
of your journey. You will not go.

THE PENCE. I am going. . . .

_But he allows himself to be led to the arbour seat_.

THE QUEEN. It is too late. You are mine, now, mine for ever. It was for
this that you came hither--I am the meaning of your journey. It was
ordained that you love me. You must not think of anything else.

THE PRINCE. Why have you done this to me? Are you a witch? I am afraid
of you!

_He rises_.

THE QUEEN. I will teach you strange and terrible secrets.

THE PRINCE. I fear you and yet I trust you. What will come of this I do
not know. But I care for nothing. Nothing in the world means anything
to me now except you. Why is it that I seem to hate you?

_He seizes her and holds her fiercely_.

THE QUEEN. That is because you love me at last.

THE PRINCE. I could kill you.

THE QUEEN. You seek in vain to escape love.

_The sailor staggers in, sees the Prince, and stops_.

THE SAILOR. I am bidden to tell you--

THE PRINCE. Be off!--What is it you say?

_The Queen stands still, with her hands over her face_.

THE SAILOR. The ship is ready.


_The sailor walks away_.

THE QUEEN. (_looking after him_) A word, and you have forgotten me
already. A moment ago I thought you loved me. Now I am nothing to you.

THE PRINCE. The ship--

THE QUEEN. It is ready to sail. They are waiting for you. Why do you
not go?

THE PRINCE. I am sorry. But it is as you say. The ship is ready to
sail. I must go.

THE QUEEN. Go quickly.

THE PRINCE. Farewell, then.

THE QUEEN. No, stay. (_She throws herself at his feet, and clasps his
knees_.) See, I beg you to stay. I have no shame left. I beg you.
Stay even though you despise me. Stay even though you hate me. I do not
care. I will be your slave, your bondwoman. I cannot let you go.

_She puts her head in her hands, and weeps_.

THE PRINCE. (_looking down at her_) I am sorry. (_After a pause_)

_He touches her lightly on the shoulder, and, looking toward the sea,
leaves her. She rises, and watches him with a stony face until he

_The fool enters_.

THE QUEEN. Are you drunken, fool, as I bade you be?

THE FOOL. I am drunken, yes, but not with wine. I am drunken with
bitterness. With the bitterness of love.

THE QUEEN. Of love, fool?

THE FOOL. With the bitterness of love. It will amuse you, and so I will
tell you what I mean. It is you that I love.

THE QUEEN. Life grows almost interesting once more. But are you not
afraid that I will have you whipped?

THE FOOL. You would have had me whipped a week ago if I had told you
this. But now you will not. Now you know what it is to love. . . .

THE QUEEN. My secrets are on a fool's tongue. But what does it matter?
Go on.

THE FOOL. Why did I try to keep the man you love from going away? In
the hope that one day I should see you kissing him in the garden, and
thus I would be spared the trouble of killing myself. In a word, I am a
fool. But I have tried to help you. Why did you not keep him?

THE QUEEN. I have been asking that question of my own heart, fool. I
would that I had not come to him a virgin and a Queen, but a light
woman skilled in all the ways of love. Then perhaps I could have
held him. But now he is gone, and the world is black.

THE FOOL. It is not the world, it is your heart that is black. And it
is black with hatred. . . .

THE QUEEN. I think you understand, fool. I would set fire to this
palace which the King my father built, I would burn it down tonight,
save that it would not make light enough to take away the blackness
from my heart.

_The sailor again, staggering_.

THE QUEEN. What, has the ship not gone?

THE SAILOR. Gone, and left me behind. Gone, and left me. . . .

THE FOOL. Here is still wine in the flagon.

THE SAILOR. Good. Good. Give it to me.

THE QUEEN. (_to the fool_) First bring it to me. (_She takes off a
ring, and dips it in the wine. To the fool_)--I have spoken lightly of
poisoning today. Now I think I will try it. I would like to see a man
die. It will ease me a little. Come!

_The sailor comes and takes it from her hands, while the fool stares

THE QUEEN. How does it taste?

THE SAILOR. (_suddenly straightening up, no longer drunk_) Bitter.
What was in it?

THE QUEEN. The bitterness of my heart. It will kill you.

THE SAILOR. I have been poisoned. (_He puts his hand to his side_.) I
am dying. But first--!

_He draws a short sword, and runs at her. The fool starts up, but the
Queen motions him away, and waits. When the sailor is almost upon her,
he stops, throws up his hands, drops his sword, and falls in a heap_.

THE QUEEN. (_after a moment, going up, and touching the body with her
foot_) Dead. So that is what it is like?

THE FOOL. (_trembling_) Do you find it so interesting?

THE QUEEN. No--my heart is already aching with its emptiness again....
What shall I do?

THE FOOL. You might poison me, too. I think I would die in a more
original manner than that silly sailor. Yes, I would seize you in my
arms and kiss you before I died.

THE QUEEN. That would be amusing. But it is a pity to waste kisses on a
dying man. And besides, you are the only one in my kingdom who
understands me. I must have you alive to talk to.

THE FOOL. There are strange stories about the kisses of queens.

THE QUEEN. Tell them to me.

THE FOOL. There is an old saying that three kisses bestowed by a queen
upon a fool will make a hero of him.

THE QUEEN. That might be interesting. I think I will try it. Come to
me, do not be afraid. This day I have given my kisses to a man who
thought no more of them than that dead sailor there of the kisses of a
harlot. What, must you kneel? Well, then, upon your forehead.

_She kisses him upon the forehead as he kneels_.

_He slowly rises, and as he rises he takes on dignity. His fool's cap
is dropped aside, he picks up the dead sailor's sword and girds it on

THE QUEEN. Ah, it is true. There is magic in it. You are handsome, too.
I am not sorry to have kissed you.

_The old woman comes in_.

THE QUEEN. Well, what is the news? The ship has sailed, has it not?

THE OLD WOMAN. Straight into the sunset. (_She sees the dead man, and
looks at the Queen and at the fool_.) Who killed him?

THE QUEEN. I killed him. He was left behind, and I do not like to have
strangers about.

THE OLD WOMAN. It is a good omen. I have not seen a dead man for twenty
years, save those that died of sickness and old age. When shall we have
the good old times when men killed each other with swords? I feel that
it is coming. When shall we fall upon the four kingdoms, and tear them
to pieces?

THE QUEEN. Ah, that is an idea. That would be something to do.

THE FOOL. Hush your croakings, old woman, and tell us the news that you
have come with.

THE OLD WOMAN. How do you know that I come with news? Where is your
cap, fool?

THE FOOL. Speak, or be gone.

THE QUEEN. Beware of this man, for I have been making a hero out of

THE OLD WOMAN. Are you mad?

THE QUEEN. Yes, I am mad, so beware of me, too, and tell your news,

THE OLD WOMAN. (_tamed_) It is only that a boat has been seen to
put out from the ship, and is coming back to shore.

THE QUEEN. It is doubtless a present for me. The Prince has bethought
himself to pay me for my kindness to him. Go, and give orders that any
men who are in the boat are to be brought to me, with their hands tied
behind them, that I may decide what punishment to inflict upon them.
Let it be understood that we do not like strangers in this kingdom.

THE OLD WOMAN. (_grimly_) It shall be as you say.

_She goes out_.

THE QUEEN. And now I must finish my quaint task. It pleases me to be
kissing fools. I think it is becoming a habit of mine. Come to this
garden bench, where he and I sat together, and I will kiss you upon the
mouth, as I kissed him. Does it hurt you for me to say that? Good.
(_They sit down_.) You are the only one in the kingdom who understands
me. Lift up your head. (_She kisses him. He lifts his head proudly, and
sits beside her like a king_.) You are silent. Why do you not say
something appropriate?

THE FOOL. What I have to say will be with my sword, and your enemies
will be the ones to hear it.

THE QUEEN. Ah, I forgot, it is a hero I am making out of you, and all a
hero can do is fight. That is a stupid thing. I am sorry now that I
kissed you.

THE FOOL. You will not be sorry when I have destroyed your enemies.

THE QUEEN. Now you are beginning to talk like my old nurse. It is well
enough to fight, but it should be for amusement, and not with such
seriousness. I have only succeeded in making you dull. You were better
as a fool.

_The Prince enters, with his hands tied behind him, conducted by some

THE PRINCE. (_Indignantly_) Why am I treated in this fashion?

THE QUEEN. So it is you?

_She looks at him quietly_.

THE PRINCE. (_haughtily_) Order that these bonds be taken from my

THE QUEEN. We do not like strangers in this country. You were tied by
my command, and brought here that I might decide what punishment to
mete out to you. Look, this was one of your men. (_Pointing to the
dead body_) Carry it away.

_The soldiers carry off the body_.

THE PRINCE. Are you mad?

THE QUEEN. So it would seem. (_To the fool_) Now cut his bonds.

THE FOOL. He is a brave man, and does not deserve to be treated in this

THE PRINCE. Who are you that you should plead for me? Have I not seen
you with a fool's cap?

THE FOOL. And now you see me with a sword.

_He cuts the Prince's bonds_.

THE PRINCE. Leave us. I wish to speak with the Queen.

THE QUEEN. (_to the fool_) No, stay. (_To the Prince_) It is not
necessary for you to speak. You wish to tell me that the kisses you
had from me were so sweet that you would like to buy some more, and are
willing to put off your journey for a while.

THE PRINCE. I have given up my journey for ever. I know that the only
thing that is real in all the world is love. You are scornful. But I
have neither pride nor shame. I kneel at your feet, and beg you to
forgive me for my folly.

_He kneels_.

THE QUEEN. It is a pretty speech. But you are too late. I have
forgotten you. While they were tying your hands, I was kissing this man
upon the mouth.

THE PRINCE. (_springing up_) It is a lie!

THE FOOL. Did you say that the Queen lies?

_He draws his sword_.

THE PRINCE. I do not fight with fools. (_To the Queen_) Send him away,
and have him beaten.

THE QUEEN. Are you not willing to fight with him for me?

THE PRINCE. What do you mean?

THE QUEEN. I mean that I have a new appetite, the appetite for death. I
have held myself too lightly, I have gone too willingly to the arms of
a chance lover. Now there must be blood to sweeten the kisses.

THE PRINCE. Do you wish this fellow killed?

THE QUEEN. Or you. It makes no difference--not the least. What are my
kisses, that I should be careful to whom they go?

THE PRINCE. You speak strangely, and I hardly know you. I have come
back as a lover and not as a butcher.

THE QUEEN. My whim has changed--I am in the mood for butchers, now.

THE PRINCE. Say but one word to show that you still love me!

THE QUEEN. I have no word to say.

THE PRINCE. Doubt makes my sword heavy. . . .

THE FOOL. And have you nothing to say to me?

THE QUEEN. You remind me. Come. I must finish what I have begun.

_She kisses him on the mouth--the third kiss_.

THE PRINCE. (_covering his eyes_) It is I that am mad.

THE FOOL. Come, if you are not afraid.

_They go out, the Prince giving one long look at the Queen, whose
face remains hard_.

_It has become a dark twilight_.

THE QUEEN. They told me that love was like this--but I laughed, and did
not believe.

_The old woman comes in_.

THE QUEEN. I have sent him out to die.

THE OLD WOMAN. The fool?

THE QUEEN. No, no, no, my lover, my beloved. I tortured him and denied
him, and sent him out to die.

THE OLD WOMAN. It is well enough. Death is among us again, and the old
times have come back.

_There are sounds of fighting, and the women wait in silence. Then
the sounds cease, and slowly the soldiers bear in a dead body, which
they lay on the steps. They affix torches to either side of the palace
door, and go out_.

THE FOOL. (_going up to the Queen, and holding out his sword to her,
hilt-foremost_) I have done your bidding, and slain a brave man. Bid
some one take this sword and slay me.

THE OLD WOMAN. What a faint heart you are! The fool's cap is on you
still. Put back your sword in your scabbard. You will make a soldier

THE QUEEN. You are a brave man. Put back your sword in your scabbard,
and may it destroy all my enemies from this day forth.

THE FOOL. What shall I do?

THE QUEEN. I have created you, and now I must give you work to do. You
can only fight. Very well, then. Take my soldiers, and lead them to the
kingdom that thrusts its chief city against our kingdom's walls. There
should be good fighting, and much spoil. When the soldiers have glutted
themselves with wine and women, let the city be set on fire. I shall
look every night for a light in the sky, and when it comes I shall know
it is my bonfire. Perhaps it will light up my heart for a moment. When
that is finished, I shall find you other bloody work. Go.

THE FOOL. I understand. You shall have your bonfire. Come, old woman, I
want some of your advice.

THE OLD WOMAN. The good old days have come back. Ah, the smell of

_They go out.

The queen looks over at the dead man lying on the steps between the
torches, and gradually her face softens. She goes over slowly, and
kneels by his side, gazing on him. She kisses his mouth, and then
rises, goes slowly to the arbour, and sits down. She looks away, and
her face becomes hard again.

A sound of trumpets and shouting, the menacing prelude of war, is heard




"Enigma" was first presented at the Liberal Club, New York City, in

_A man and woman are sitting at a table, talking in bitter tones_.

SHE. So that is what you think.

HE. Yes. For us to live together any longer would be an obscene joke.
Let's end it while we still have some sanity and decency left.

SHE. Is that the best you can do in the way of sanity and decency--to
talk like that?

HE. You'd like to cover it up with pretty words, wouldn't you? Well,
we've had enough of that. I feel as though my face were covered with
spider webs. I want to brush them off and get clean again.

SHE. It's not my fault you've got weak nerves. Why don't you try to
behave like a gentleman, instead of a hysterical minor poet?

HE. A gentleman, Helen, would have strangled you years ago. It takes a
man with crazy notions of freedom and generosity to be the fool that
I've been.

SHE. I suppose you blame me for your ideas!

HE. I'm past blaming anybody, even myself. Helen, don't you realize
that this has got to stop? We are cutting each other to pieces with

SHE. You want me to go. . . .

HE. Or I'll go--it makes no difference. Only we've got to separate,
definitely and for ever.

SHE. You really think there is no possibility--of our finding some
way?... We might be able--to find some way.

HE. We found some way, Helen--twice before. And this is what it comes
to. . . . There are limits to my capacity for self-delusion. This is
the end.

SHE. Yes. Only--

HE. Only what?

SHE. It--it seems . . . such a pity. . . .

HE. Pity! The pity is this--that we should sit here and haggle about
our hatred. That's all there's left between us.

SHE. (_standing up_) I won't haggle, Paul. If you think we should
part, we shall this very night. But I don't want to part this way,
Paul. I know I've hurt you. I want to be forgiven before I go.

HE. (_standing up to face her_) Can't we finish without another
sentimental lie? I'm in no mood to act out a pretty scene with you.

SHE. That was unjust, Paul. You know I don't mean that. What I want is
to make you understand, so you won't hate me.

HE. More explanations. I thought we had both got tired of them. I used
to think it possible to heal a wound by words. But we ought to know
better. They're like acid in it.

SHE. Please don't, Paul--This is the last time we shall ever hurt each
other. Won't you listen to me?

HE. Go on.

_He sits down wearily_.

SHE. I know you hate me. You have a right to. Not just because I was
faithless--but because I was cruel. I don't want to excuse myself--but
I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't realize I was hurting you.

HE. We've gone over that a thousand times.

SHE. Yes. I've said that before. And you've answered me that that
excuse might hold for the first time, but not for the second and the
third. You've convicted me of deliberate cruelty on that.
And I've never had anything to say. I couldn't say anything, because
the truth was; too preposterous. It wasn't any use telling it before.
But now I want you to know the real reason.

HE. A new reason, eh?

SHE. Something I've never confessed to you. Yes. It is true that I was
cruel to you--deliberately. I did want to hurt you. And do you know
why? I wanted to shatter that Olympian serenity of yours. You were too
strong, too self-confident. You had the air of a being that nothing
could hurt. You were like a god.

HE. That was a long time ago. Was I ever Olympian? I had forgotten it.
You succeeded very well--you shattered it in me.

SHE. You are still Olympian. And I still hate you for it. I wish I
could make you suffer now. But I have lost my power to do that.

HE. Aren't you contented with what you have done? It seems to me that I
have suffered enough recently to satisfy even your ambitions.

SHE. No--or you couldn't talk like that. You sit there--making phrases.
Oh, I have hurt you a little; but you will recover. You always
recovered quickly. You are not human. If you were human, you would
remember that we once were happy, and be a little sorry that all that
is over. But you can't be sorry. You have made up your mind, and
can think of nothing but that.

HE. That's an interesting--and novel--explanation.

SHE. I wonder if I can't make you understand. Paul--do you remember
when we fell in love?

HE. Something of that sort must have happened to us.

SHE. No--it happened to me. It didn't happen to you. You made up your
mind and walked in, with the air of a god on a holiday. It was I who
fell--headlong, dizzy, blind. I didn't want to love you. It was a force
too strong for me. It swept me into your arms. I prayed against it. I
had to give myself to you, even though I knew you hardly cared. I had
to--for my heart was no longer in my own breast. It was in your hands,
to do what you liked with. You could have thrown it in the dust.

HE. This is all very romantic and exciting, but tell me--did I throw it
in the dust?

SHE. It pleased you not to. You put it in your pocket. But don't you
realize what it is to feel that another person has absolute power over
you? No, for you have never felt that way. You have never been utterly
dependent on another person for happiness. I was utterly dependent on
you. It humiliated me, angered me. I rebelled against it, but it was
no use. You see, my dear, I was in love with you. And you were free,
and your heart was your own, and nobody could hurt you.

HE. Very fine--only it wasn't true, as you soon found out.

SHE. When I found it out, I could hardly believe it. It wasn't
possible. Why, you had said a thousand times that you would not be
jealous if I were in love with some one else, too. It was you who put
the idea in my head. It seemed a part of your super-humanness.

HE. I did talk that way. But I wasn't a superman. I was only a damned

SHE. And Paul, when I first realized that it might be hurting you--that
you were human after all--I stopped. You know I stopped.

HE. Yes--that time.

SHE. Can't you understand? I stopped because I thought you were a
person like myself, suffering like myself. It wasn't easy to stop. It
tore me to pieces. But I suffered rather than let you suffer. But when
I saw you recover your serenity in a day while the love that I had
struck down in my heart for your sake cried out in a death agony for
months, I felt again that you were superior, inhuman--and I hated you
for it.

HE. Did I deceive you so well as that?

SHE. And when the next time came, I wanted to see if it was real, this
godlike serenity of yours. I wanted to tear off the mask. I wanted to
see you suffer as I had suffered. And that is why I was cruel to you
the second time.

HE. And the third time--what about that?

_She bursts into tears, and sinks to the floor, with her head on the
chair, sheltered by her arms. Then she looks up_.

SHE. Oh, I can't talk about that--I can't. It's too near.

HE. I beg your pardon. I don't wish to show an unseemly curiosity about
your private affairs.

SHE. If you were human, you would know that there is a difference
between one's last love and all that have gone before. I can talk about
the others--but this one still hurts.

HE. I see. Should we chance to meet next year, you will tell me about
it then. The joys of new love will have healed the pains of the old.

SHE. There will be no more joy or pain of love for me. You do not
believe that. But that part of me which loves is dead. Do you think I
have come through all this unhurt? No. I cannot hope any more, I cannot
believe. There is nothing left for me. All I have left is regret for
the happiness that you and I have spoiled between us. . . . Oh, Paul,
why did you ever teach me your Olympian philosophy? Why did you make me
think that we were gods and could do whatever we chose? If we had
realized that we were only weak human beings, we might have saved our

HE. (_shaken_) We tried to reckon with facts--I cannot blame myself for
that. The facts of human nature: people do have love affairs within
love affairs. I was not faithful to you. . . .

SHE. (_rising to her feet_) But you had the decency to be dishonest
about it. You did not tell me the truth, in spite of all your theories.
I might never have found out. You knew better than to shake my belief
in our love. But I trusted your philosophy, and flaunted my lovers
before you. I never realized--

HE. Be careful, my dear. You are contradicting yourself!

SHE. I know I am. I don't care. I no longer know what the truth is. I
only know that I am filled with remorse for what has happened. Why did
it happen? Why did we let it happen? Why didn't you stop me? . . . I
want it back!

HE. But, Helen!

SHE. Yes--our old happiness.... Don't you remember, Paul, how beautiful
everything was--? (_She covers her face with her hands, and then looks
up again_.) Give it back to me, Paul!

HE. (_torn with conflicting wishes_) Do you really believe, Helen...?

SHE. I know we can be happy again. It was all ours, and we must have it
once more, just as it was. (_She holds out her hands_.) Paul! Paul!

HE. (_desperately_) Let me think!

SHE. (scornfully) Oh, your thinking! I know! Think, then--think of all
the times I've been cruel to you. Think of my wantonness--my
wickedness--not of my poor, tormented attempts at happiness. My lovers,
yes! Think hard, and save yourself from any more discomfort. . . . But
no--you're in no danger. . . .

HE. What do you mean?

SHE. (_laughing hysterically_) You haven't believed what I've been
saying all this while, have you?

HE. Almost.

SHE. Then don't. I've been lying.

HE. Again?

SHE. Again, yes.

HE. I suspected it.

SHE. (_mockingly_) Wise man!

HE. You don't love me, then?

SHE. Why should I? Do you want me to?

HE. I make no demands upon you. You know that.

SHE. You can get along without me?

HE. (_coldly_) Why not?

SHE. Good. Then I'll tell you the truth!

HE. That _would_ be interesting!

SHE. I was afraid you _did_ want me! And--I was sorry for you,
Paul--I thought if you did, I would try to make things up to you, by
starting over again--if you wanted to.

HE. So that was it. . . .

SHE. Yes, that was it. And so--

HE. (_harshly_) You needn't say any more. Will you go, or shall I?

SHE. (_lightly_) I'm going, Paul. But I think--since we may not
meet this time next year--that I'd better tell you the secret of that
third time. When you asked me a while ago, I cried, and said I couldn't
talk about it. But I can now.

HE. You mean--

SHE. Yes. My last cruelty. I had a special reason for being cruel to
you. Shan't I tell you?

HE. Just as you please.

SHE. My reason was this: I had learned what it is to love--and I knew
that I had never loved you--never. I wanted to hurt you so much that
you would leave me. I wanted to hurt you in such a way as to keep you
from ever coming near me again. I was afraid that if you did forgive me
and take me in your arms, you would feel me shudder, and see the
terror and loathing in my eyes. I wanted--for even then I cared for you
a little--to spare you that.

HE. (_speaking with difficulty_) Are you going?

SHE. (_lifting from the table a desk calendar, and tearing a leaf
from it, which she holds in front of him. Her voice is tender with an
inexplicable regret_.) Did you notice the date? It is the eighth of
June. Do you remember what day that is? We used to celebrate it once a
year. It is the day--(_the leaf flutters to the table in front of
him_)--the day of our first kiss. . . .

_He sits looking at her. For a moment it seems clear to him that they
still love each other, and that a single word from him, a mere gesture,
the holding out of his arms to her, will reunite them. And then he
doubts. . . . She is watching him; she turns at last toward the door,
hesitates, and then walks slowly out. When she has gone he takes up the
torn leaf from the calendar, and holds it in his hands, looking
at it with the air of a man confronted by an unsolvable enigma._




"Ibsen Revisited" was first produced at the Liberal Club, in 1914, with
the following cast:

The Maid .......... Jo Gotsch
The Stranger...... Floyd Dell

_A middle-class interior. The parlour-maid is dusting the furniture_.

THE MAID. Oh, how dull it is here! Nobody to talk to, nobody to flirt
with. . . . Flirt! The men that come to this house don't even know the
meaning of the word. I never worked in such a place. Life is just one
long funeral. I wish something would happen. (_A knock at the door_.)
Ah! if it were only in the old days, one might hope that that was a
reporter. But nothing like that now!

_She opens the door. A stranger enters_.

THE STRANGER. Is--ah--Miss Gabler in?

THE MAID. You mean--Mrs. Lovberg?

THE STRANGER. Yes--but . . . I'm not mistaken, am I? Mrs. Lovberg is--
or was--Hedda Gabler. Isn't that true?

THE MAID. Oh, yes, it's Hedda. But she prefers to be called by her
husband's name. Did you wish to see her? She is busy just now.


THE MAID. Yes--she is conducting her class in Modern Adolescence.

THE STRANGER. How like Hedda! Always experimenting with something or
other! What is she teaching them?

THE MAID. She's teaching them what she calls "sex-unconsciousness."

THE STRANGER. Dear me! _What_ is sex-unconsciousness?

THE MAID. I'm sure _I_ don't know, sir.

THE STRANGER. Dear, delightful Hedda! Ever in pursuit of the new

THE MAID. You are an old friend of hers, I suppose?

THE STRANGER. Well, no, not exactly. The fact is--

THE MAID. You're not a reporter, are you? Hedda doesn't talk to
reporters--any more.

THE STRANGER. No. I'm not a reporter.

THE MAID. What are you, then?

THE STRANGER. I am the representative of the International Ibsen
Society. You know who Ibsen was, of course?

THE MAID. Yes--he was that nasty man who wrote plays about everybody's
private affairs.

THE STRANGER. There _is_ that point of view, of course. I'm sorry
to intrude--

THE MAID. I should think you would be! Now that she and Lovberg are
happily married--

THE STRANGER. That's precisely it. You see, we've just discovered that
instead of committing suicide, as Ibsen made them do in the play, they
eloped and were eventually married. You can't imagine how delighted we
all are to discover that Hedda is still alive. As soon as we found that
out, I was sent here immediately--

THE MAID. What did you think you would see?

THE STRANGER. See? I shall see a woman whose soul burns with an
unquenchable flame of divine adventurousness. I shall see the most
ardent, impatient, eager, restless, impetuous, and insatiably romantic
woman in the world.

THE MAID. (_pointing to the door_) You mean--her?

THE STRANGER. Yes--why, there is the very sofa upon which she and
Lovberg used to sit, in the old days, discussing his past. There he
would sit and tell her of his escapades, his affairs, everything.
Tell me, does she insist on Lovberg's being polygamous, whether he
wants to or not?

THE MAID. Evidently you don't know the new Hedda. Or the new Lovberg
either. The only thing they talk about is what they call "the
monogamist ideal."

THE STRANGER. There is some mistake. I will find out when I see her.
Surely she is still interested in adventure--the free life--vine-
leaves--beauty--! I will remind her of her own past--

THE MAID. No you won't. She won't let you. She will tell you that too
much attention is paid to such foolishness nowadays.

THE STRANGER. She! who was interested in nothing else! But then--what
is she interested in, now?

THE MAID. In "co-operation."

THE STRANGER, Has she then turned into a mere sociologist? Oh, you are
deceiving me!

THE MAID. If you don't believe me--I'll just open the door an inch, and
you can hear her talking.

THE STRANGER. Oh, it cannot be true!

_The maid quietly opens the door a little way. He listens_.

A VOICE. (_heard through the aperture_) We must all learn to function
socially. . . .

_The maid shuts the door again_.

THE MAID. Do you believe it now?

THE STRANGER. (_sadly_) It is too true!

THE MAID. Didn't I tell you?

THE STRANGER. So Hedda has become--a reformer!


THE STRANGER. And Lovberg--what does he do?

THE MAID. He is rewriting his book--you know, the one Hedda burned up--
for use as a text-book in the public schools. And Hedda is helping him.

THE STRANGER. No more adventure--no more beauty--the flame . . . gone
out! My God!

_He staggers toward the wall, where a pistol is hanging, and puts his
hand on it_.

THE MAID. Look out! That's Hedda's pistol. You never can tell when an
old piece of junk like that is loaded.

THE STRANGER. Yes--I know. (_He takes it down and aims it at his
heart_.) The old Hedda is gone. I cannot bear the new. It would be
too--(_The maid screams_)--too dull.

_He fires, and falls_.

THE MAID. (_going over and looking down at him_) But--people don't do
such things!




"King Arthur's Socks" was first produced by the Provincetown Players,
New York City, in 1916, with the following cast:

Guenevere Robinson...Edna James
Vivien Smith.........Jane Burr
Mary.................Augusta Gary
Lancelot Jones.......Max Eastman

_The living room of a summer cottage in Camelot, Maine. A pretty
woman of between twenty-five and thirty-five is sitting in a big chair
in the lamplight darning socks. She is Mrs. Arthur B. Robinson--or, to
give her her own name, Guenevere. She is dressed in a light summer
frock, and with her feet elevated on a settle there is revealed a
glimpse of slender silk-clad ankles. It is a pleasant summer evening,
and, one might wonder why so attractive a woman should be sitting at
home darning her husband's socks, there being so many other interesting
things to do in this world. The girl standing in the doorway, smiling
amusedly, seems to wonder at it too. The girl's name is Vivien

VIVIEN. Hello, Gwen!

GUENEVERE. Hello, Vivien! Come in.

VIVIEN. I'm just passing by.

GUENEVERE. Come in and console me for a minute or two, anyway. I'm a
widow at present.

VIVIEN. (_enters and lounges against the mantelpiece_) Arthur gone to
New York again?

GUENEVERE. Yes, for over Sunday. And I'm lonely.

VIVIEN. You don't seem to mind. Think of a woman being that happy
darning her husband's socks!

GUENEVERE. Stay here and talk to me--unless you've something else on.
It's been ages since I've seen you.

VIVIEN. I'm afraid I have got something else on, Gwen--I'll give you
one guess.

GUENEVERE. You can't pretend to be art-ing at this hour of the night.

VIVIEN. I could pretend, but I won't. No, Gwen dear, it's not the
pursuit of art, it's the pursuit of a man.

GUENEVERE. Don't try to talk like a woman in a Shaw play. I don't like
this rigmarole about "pursuit." Say you're in love, like a civilized
human being. And take a cigarette, and tell me about it.

VIVIEN. _(lighting a cigarette)_ I don't know whether I'm so civilized,
at that. You know me, Gwen. When I paint, do I paint like a lady?--or
like a savage! (_She does, in fact, appear to be a very headstrong and
reckless young woman_.)

GUENEVERE. (_mildly_) Oh, be a savage all you want to, Gwen. But don't
tell me you're going in for this modern free-love stuff, because I
won't believe it. You're not that kind of fool, Vivien. (_She darns
placidly away_.)

VIVIEN. No, I'm not. I'm not a fool at all, Gwen dear. I know exactly
what I want--and it doesn't include being disowned by my family and
having my picture in the morning papers. Free-love? Not at all. I want
to be married.

GUENEVERE. Well, for heaven's sake, who is it?

VIVIEN. Is it possible that it's not being gossiped about? You really
haven't heard?

GUENEVERE. Not a syllable.

VIVIEN. Then I shan't tell you.

GUENEVERE. But--why?

VIVIEN. Because you'll think I've a nerve to want him.

GUENEVERE. Nonsense. I don't know any male person in these parts who is
good enough for you, Vivien.

VIVIEN. Thanks, darling. That's just what I think in my calmer moments.
But mostly I'm so crazy about him that I'm almost humble. Can you
imagine it?

GUENEVERE. Well, what's the matter, then? Doesn't he reciprocate? You
don't look like the victim of a hopeless passion.

VIVIEN. Oh, he's in love with me all right. But he doesn't want to be.
He says being in love interferes with his work.

GUENEVERE. What nonsense!

VIVIEN. Oh, I don't know about that! I think being in love with me
would interfere with a man's work. I should hope so!

GUENEVERE. (_primly_) I don't interfere with Arthur's work.

VIVIEN. Arthur's a professor of philosophy. Besides, Arthur had
written a book and settled down before he fell in love with you. I'm
dealing with a man who has his work still to do. He thinks if he
had about three years of peace and quiet and hard work, he'd put
something big across. He put it up to me as a fellow-artist. I know
just how he feels. I suppose I am very distracting!

GUENEVERE. Well, why don't you give him his three years?

VIVIEN. Gwen! What do you think I am? An altruist? A benefactor of
humanity? Well, I'm not, I'm a woman. Three years? I've given him three
hours, and threatened to marry a man back at home if he doesn't make up
his mind before then.

GUENEVERE. Heavens, Vivien, you _are_ a savage! Well, did it work?

VIVIEN. I don't know. The three hours aren't up yet. I'm going around
to get my answer now. I must say the prospect isn't encouraging. He
started to pack up to go to Boston. He says he won't be bullied.

GUENEVERE. But Vivien!

VIVIEN. Oh, don't condole with me yet, Gwen dear. It's twelve hours
before that morning train, and I'm not through with him yet.

GUENEVERE. (_curiously_) What are you going to do?

VIVIEN. Nothing crude, Gwen dear. Oh, there's lots of things I can do.
Cry, for instance. He's never seen a woman cry. Maybe you think I can't

GUENEVERE. It's hard to imagine _you_ crying.

VIVIEN. I never wanted anything badly enough to cry for it before. But
I could cry my heart out for him. I've absolutely no pride left. Well--
I'm going to have him, that's all. (_She throws her cigarette into
the grate, and starts to go_.)

GUENEVERE. And what about his work? Suppose it's true--

VIVIEN. Suppose it is. Then his work will have to get along the best
way it can. (_She turns at the door_.) Do I look like a loser?--or
a winner!

GUENEVERE. I'll bet on you, Vivien.

VIVIEN. Thanks, darling. And bye-bye.

GUENEVERE. (_stopping her_) But Vivien--! I've been racking my brain to
think who--? _Do_ tell me!

VIVIEN. (_in the doorway, defiantly_) Well, if you must know--it's
Lancelot Jones.

GUENEVERE. (_springing up, amazed, incredulous and horrified_) Oh,
_no_, Vivien! Not Lancelot!

VIVIEN. Absolutely yes.

GUENEVERE. But--but he's married already!

VIVIEN. Oh, is _that_ what's bothering you?

GUENEVERE. I should rather think it would bother _you_, Vivien!

VIVIEN. But it so happens that it doesn't. I'm not breaking up a
marriage. There isn't any marriage there to break up. I know all about
it. Lancelot told me. That marriage was ended long ago. It's simply
that he has never got a divorce.

GUENEVERE. But--but if that's true, why _hasn't_ he got a divorce?

VIVIEN. On purpose, Gwen--as a protection! Against love-sick females
like me. Against getting married again. I told you he wanted to work.

GUENEVERE. But Vivien! If he hasn't got a divorce--

VIVIEN. He'll have to get one, that's all. It won't take long. And in
the meantime we can be engaged.

GUENEVERE. A funny sort of engagement, Vivien--to a married man!

VIVIEN. I think you're very unkind, Gwen. It isn't funny at all. It's a
nuisance. We'll have to wait at least a month! I think you might
sympathize with me. I believe you're in love with him yourself.

GUENEVERE. (_coldly_) Vivien!

VIVIEN. (_contritely_) I'm sorry. I didn't mean it. But I do think
he's so terribly nice--I don't see how any woman can help being in love
with him. Well--I'm off to his studio, to learn my fate. Wish me luck,
if you can!

_She goes_.

GUENEVERE. (_looks after her, then drifts over to the mantel, leans
against it staring out into space, and then murmurs_)--Lancelot!

_She goes slowly back to her chair, sits still a moment, and then
quietly resumes the darning of socks.

Enter, from the side door, Mary, the pretty servant girl, who fusses
about at the back of the room_.

GUENEVERE. (_absently_) Going, Mary?

MARY. No, ma'am. I don't feel like going out tonight.

_Something in her tone makes Guenevere turn_.

GUENEVERE. (_kindly_) Why, Mary, what is the matter?

MARY. (_struggling with her sobs_) I'm sorry, ma'am, I can't help
it--I wasn't going to say anything. But when you spoke to me--

GUENEVERE. (_quietly_) What is it, Mary?

MARY. I'm a wicked girl. (_She sobs again_.)

GUENEVERE. (_after a moment's reflection_.) Yes? Tell me about it.

MARY. Shall I tell you?

GUENEVERE. Yes. I think you'd better tell me.

MARY. I wanted to tell you. (_She comes to Guenevere, and sinks
beside her chair_.) I wanted to tell you before Mr. Robinson came
back. I couldn't tell you if he was here.

GUENEVERE. (_smiling_) My husband? Are you afraid of him, Mary?

MARY. Yes, ma'am.

GUENEVERE. (_to herself_) Poor Arthur! He does frighten people. He
looks so--just.

MARY. That's what it is, ma'am. He always makes me think of my father.

GUENEVERE. Is your father a just man, too, Mary?

MARY. Yes, ma'am. He's that just I'd never dare breathe a word to him
about what I've done. He'd put me out of the house.

GUENEVERE. (_hesitating_) Is it so bad, Mary, what you have done?

MARY. Yes, ma'am.

GUENEVERE. Do you--do you want to tell me who it is?

MARY. It's Mr. Jones, ma'am.

GUENEVERE. (_reflectively_) Jones? (_Then, astoundedly_)--Jones!
(_Incredulously_)--You don't mean--! (_Quietly_)--Do you mean Mr.
Lancelot Jones?

MARY. Yes, ma'am.

GUENEVERE. This is terrible! When did it happen?

MARY. It--it sort of happened last night, ma'am. It was this way--

GUENEVERE. No details, please!

MARY. No, ma'am. I just wanted to tell you how it was. You see, ma'am,
I went to his studio--

GUENEVERE. (_unable to bear it_) Please, Mary, please!

MARY. Yes, ma'am.

GUENEVERE. I don't mean that I blame you. One can't help--falling in

MARY. No, you just can't help it, can you?

GUENEVERE. But Lancelot--Mr. Jones--should have behaved better than

MARY. Should he, ma'am?

GUENEVERE. He certainly should. I wouldn't have believed it of him. So
that is why--Mary! Do you know--? But I'm not sure that I ought to
tell you. Still, I don't see why I should protect _him_. Do you know
that he is going away?

MARY. No, ma'am. Is he?

GUENEVERE. Yes. In the mo'rning. You must go to see him tonight. No,
you can't do that....Oh, this is terrible!

MARY. I'm _glad_ he's going away, Mrs. Robinson.


MARY. Yes, ma'am.


MARY. Because I'd be so ashamed every time I saw him.

GUENEVERE. (_looking at her with interest_) Really? I didn't know
people felt that way. Perhaps it's the right way to feel. But I didn't
suppose anybody did. So you want him to go?

MARY. Yes, ma'am.

GUENEVERE. And you don't feel you've any claim on him?

MARY. No, ma'am. Why should I?

GUENEVERE. Well! I really don't know. But one is supposed to. Mary, you
_are_ a modern woman!


GUENEVERE. One would think, after what happened--

MARY. That's just it, ma'am. If it had been anything else--But after
what happened, I just want never to see him again. You see, ma'am, it
was this way--

GUENEVERE. (_gently_) Is it necessary to tell me that, Mary? I know
what happened.

MARY. But you don't, ma'am. That's just it. I've been trying to tell
you what happened, ma'am.

GUENEVERE. Good heavens, was it so horrible! Well, go on, then. (_She
nerves herself to hear the worst_.) What _did_ happen?

MARY. Nothing, ma'am....


MARY. That's just it....

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

MARY. You said a while ago, Mrs. Robinson, that you couldn't help
falling in love. It's true. I tried every way to stop, but I couldn't.
So last night I--I went to his studio--


MARY. I told you I was a wicked girl, Mrs. Robinson. You know I've a
key to let myself in to clean up for him. So last night I just went in.
He--he was asleep--


MARY. I--shall I tell you, ma'am?

GUENEVERE. Yes. You _must_ tell me, now.

MARY. And I--(_She sits kneeling, looking straight ahead, and continues
speaking, in a dead voice_) I couldn't help it. I put my arms around


MARY. And he put his arms around me, Mrs. Robinson, and kissed me. And
I didn't care about anything else, then. I was glad. And then--


MARY. And then he woke up--and he was angry at me. He swore at me. And
then he laughed, and kissed me again, and put me out of the room.

GUENEVERE. Yes, yes. And that--that was all?

MARY. I came home. I thought I would have died. I knew I had been
wicked. Oh, Mrs. Robinson--(_She breaks down and sobs_.)

GUENEVERE. (_patting her head_) Poor child, it's all right. You aren't
so wicked as you think. Oh, I'm so glad!

MARY. But it's jest the same, Mrs. Robinson. I wanted to be wicked.

GUENEVERE. Never mind, Mary. We all want to be wicked at times. But
something always happens. It's all right. You're a good girl, Mary.
There, stop crying!... Of course, of course! I might have known.
Lancelot couldn't--and yet, I wonder.... Mary, stand up and let me look
at you!

MARY. (_obeying_) Yes, ma'am.

GUENEVERE. (_in a strange tone_) You're a very good-looking girl,
Mary.... So he laughed, and gave you a kiss, and led you to the
door!... Well! Go to bed and think no more about it. It's all right.

MARY. Do you really think so, Mrs. Robinson? Isn't it the same thing if
you _want_ to be wicked--

GUENEVERE. You're talking like a professor of philosophy now, Mary. And
you're a woman, and you ought to know better. No, it isn't the same
thing, at all. Run along, child.

MARY. Yes, ma'am. Thank you, ma'am. Good night, ma'am.

_She goes_.

GUENEVERE. Good-night, Mary. (_She returns to her darning. She smiles
to herself, then becomes serious, stops work, and looks at the clock.
Then she says_)--Vivien! Vivien's tears! Poor Lancelot! Oh, well!
(_She shrugs her shoulders, and goes on working. Then suddenly she
puts down her work, rises, and walks restlessly about the room....
There is a knock at the door. She turns and stares at the door. The
knock is repeated. She is silent, motionless for a moment. Then she
says, almost in a whisper_)--Come!

_A young man enters_.

GUENEVERE. Lancelot!

LANCELOT. Guenevere! (_They go up to each other, and he takes both
her hands. They stand that way for a moment. Then he says lightly_)
--Darning King Arthur's socks, I see!

GUENEVERE. (_releasing herself, and going back to her chair_) Yes.
Sit down.

LANCELOT. Where's his royal highness?

GUENEVERE. New York. Why don't you ever come to see us?

LANCELOT. (_not answering_) Charming domestic picture!

GUENEVERE. Don't be silly!

LANCELOT. I am going away.

GUENEVERE. Are you? I'm sorry. Don't you like our little village?

LANCELOT. Thought I'd stop in to say good-bye.

GUENEVERE. That's very sweet of you.

LANCELOT. (_rising_) I've got to go back and finish packing.

GUENEVERE. Not really?

LANCELOT. Going in the morning.

GUENEVERE. Why the haste? The summer's just begun. I hear you've been
doing some awfully good things. I was going over to see them.

LANCELOT. Thanks. Sorry to disappoint you. But I've taken it into my
head to leave.

GUENEVERE. You're not going tonight, anyway. Sit down and talk to me.

LANCELOT. All right. (_He sits, constrainedly_.) What shall I talk

GUENEVERE. (_smiling_) Your work.

LANCELOT. (_impatiently_) You're not interested in my work.

GUENEVERE. Your love-affairs, then.

LANCELOT. Don't want to.

GUENEVERE. Then read to me. There's some books on the table.

LANCELOT. (_opening a serious-looking magazine_) Here's an article
on "The Concept of Happiness"--by Professor Arthur B. Robinson. Shall
I read that?

GUENEVERE. I gather that you are not as fond of my husband as I am,
Lancelot. But try to be nice to me, anyway. Read some poetry.

LANCELOT. (_takes a book from the table, and reads_)--

   "It needs no maxims drawn from Socrates
    To tell me this is madness in my blood--"

_He pauses. She looks up inquiringly. Presently he goes on reading--_

   "Nor does what wisdom I have learned from these
    Serve to abate my most unreasoned mood.
    What would I of you? What gift could you bring,
    That to await you in the common street
    Sets all my secret ecstasy a-wing
    Into wild regions of sublime retreat?
    And if you come, you will speak common words--"

_He stops, and flings the book across the room. She looks up_.

GUENEVERE. Don't you like it?

LANCELOT. (_gloomily_) Hell! That's too true.

GUENEVERE. Try something else.

LANCELOT. No--I can't read. (_Guenevere bends to her darning_.)
Shall I go?


LANCELOT. Do you enjoy seeing me suffer?

GUENEVERE. Does talking to me make you suffer?


GUENEVERE. I'm sorry.

LANCELOT. Then let me go.

GUENEVERE. No. Sit there and talk to me, like a rational human being.

LANCELOT. I'm not a rational human being. I'm a fool. A crazy fool.

GUENEVERE. (_smiling at him_) I like crazy fools.

LANCELOT. (_desperately, rising as he speaks_) I am going to be

GUENEVERE. (_in a mocking simulation of surprise_) What, again?

LANCELOT. Yes--again--and as soon as possible--to Vivien.

GUENEVERE. I congratulate you.

LANCELOT. I _love_ her.

GUENEVERE. Naturally.

LANCELOT. _She_ loves _me_.

GUENEVERE. I trust so.

LANCELOT. Then _why_ should I be at this moment aching to kiss _you_?
Tell me that?

GUENEVERE. (_looking at him calmly_) It does seem strange.

LANCELOT. It is absolutely insane! It's preposterous! It's

GUENEVERE. Are you quite sure it's all true?

LANCELOT. Yes! I'm sure that I never would commit the rashness of
matrimony again without being in love. Very much in love. And I'm
equally sure that I would not stand here and tell you what a fool I am
about you, if _that_ weren't true. Do you think I _want_ to be this
way? It's too ridiculous--I didn't want to tell you. I wanted to go.
You made me stay. Well, now you know what a blithering lunatic I am.

GUENEVERE. (_quietly_) It _is_ lunacy, isn't it?


GUENEVERE. Sheer lunacy. In love with one woman, and wanting to kiss
another. Disgraceful, in fact.

LANCELOT. I know what you think! You think I'm paying you an extremely
caddish compliment--or else--

GUENEVERE. (_earnestly, as she rises_) No, I don't think that at
all, Lancelot. I believe you when you say that about me. And I don't
imagine for one moment that you're not really in love with Vivien. I
know you are. I could pretend to myself that you weren't--just as
you've tried to pretend to yourself sometimes, that I'm not really in
love with Arthur. But you know I am--don't you?

LANCELOT. Yes. ...

GUENEVERE. Well, Lancelot, there are--two lunatics here. (_He stares
at her_.) It's almost funny. I don't know why I'm telling you. But--


GUENEVERE. Yes. I want to kiss you, too.

LANCELOT. But this won't do. As long as there was only one of us--

GUENEVERE. There's been two all along, Lancelot. I've more self-control
than you--that's all. But I broke down tonight. I knew I oughtn't to
tell you--now. But I knew I would.

LANCELOT. You, too!

_They have unconsciously circled about to the opposite side of the

GUENEVERE. Oh, well, Lance, I fancy we aren't the only ones. It's a
common human failing, no doubt. Lots of people must feel this way.

LANCELOT. What do they do about it?

GUENEVERE. Well, it all depends on what kind of people they are. Some
of them go ahead and kiss. Others think of the consequences.

LANCELOT. Well, let's think of the consequences, then. What are they? I

GUENEVERE. I don't. I'm keeping them very clearly in mind. In the first


GUENEVERE. What was it? Yes--in the first place, we would be sorry. And
in the second place--

LANCELOT. In the second place--

GUENEVERE. In the second place--I forget what's in the second place.
But in the third place we mustn't. Isn't that enough?

LANCELOT. Yes. I know we mustn't. But--I feel that we are going to.

GUENEVERE. Please don't say that.

LANCELOT. But isn't it true? Don't you feel that, too?


LANCELOT. Then we're lost.

GUENEVERE. No. We must think!

LANCELOT. I can't think.


LANCELOT. It's no use. I can't even remember "in the first place," now.

GUENEVERE. Then--before we do remember--!

_He takes her in his arms. They kiss each other--a long, long kiss_.

LANCELOT. Sweetheart!

GUENEVERE. (_holding him at arm's length_) That was in the second
place, Lancelot. If we kiss each other, we'll begin saying things like
that--and perhaps believing them.

LANCELOT. What did I say?

GUENEVERE. Something very foolish.

LANCELOT. What, darling?

GUENEVERE. There, you did it again. Stop, or I shall be doing it, too.
I want to, you know.

LANCELOT. Want what?

GUENEVERE. To call you darling, and believe I'm in love with you.

LANCELOT. Aren't you?

GUENEVERE. I mustn't be.

LANCELOT. But aren't you?

GUENEVERE. Oh, I--(_She closes her eyes, and he draws her to him.
Suddenly she frees herself_.) No! Lancelot--no! I'm not in love with
you. And you're not in love with me. We're just two wicked people who
want to kiss each other.

LANCELOT. Wicked? I don't feel wicked. Do you?

GUENEVERE. No. I just feel natural. But it's the same thing. (_He
approaches her with outstretched arms. She retreats behind the chair_.)
No, no. Remember that I'm married.

LANCELOT. I don't care.

GUENEVERE. Then remember that you're engaged!

LANCELOT. Engaged?

GUENEVERE. Yes: to Vivien.

LANCELOT. (_stopping short_) So I am.

GUENEVERE. And you're in love with her.

LANCELOT. That's true.

GUENEVERE. You see now that you can't kiss me, don't you?

LANCELOT (_dazedly_) Yes.

GUENEVERE. Then thank heavens! for I was about to let you. And that's
in the fifth place, Lancelot: if we kiss each other once, we're sure to
do it again and again--and again. Now go over there and sit down, and
we'll talk sanely and sensibly.

LANCELOT. (_obeying_) Heavens, what a moment! I'm not over it yet.

GUENEVERE. Neither am I. We're a pair of sillies, aren't we? I never
thought I should ever behave in such a fashion.

LANCELOT. It was my fault. I shouldn't have started it.

GUENEVERE. I am as much to blame as you.

LANCELOT. I'm sorry.


LANCELOT. I ought to be. But I'm not, exactly.

GUENEVERE. I'm not either, I'm ashamed to say.

LANCELOT. The truth is, I want to kiss you again.

GUENEVERE. And I... But do you call this talking sensibly?

LANCELOT. I suppose it isn't. Well, go ahead with your sixth place,
then. Only, for heaven's sake try and say something that will really do
some good!

GUENEVERE. Very well, Lancelot. Do you really want to elope with me?

LANCELOT. Very much.

GUENEVERE. That's not the right answer. You know perfectly well you
want to do nothing of the sort. What! Scandalize everybody, and ruin my
reputation, and break Vivien's heart?

LANCELOT. No--I don't suppose I really want to do any of those things.

GUENEVERE. Then do you want us to conduct a secret and vulgar intrigue?

LANCELOT. (_hurt_) Guenevere!

GUENEVERE. You realize, of course, that this madness of ours might last
no longer than a month?

LANCELOT. (_soberly_) Perhaps.

GUENEVERE. Well, do you still want to kiss me?--Think what you are
saying, Lancelot, for I may let you. And that kiss may be the beginning
of the catastrophe. (_She moves toward him_.) Do you want a kiss
that brings with it grief and fear and danger and heartbreak?


GUENEVERE. Then what do you want?

LANCELOT. I want--a kiss.

GUENEVERE. Never. If you had believed, for one your chance.

LANCELOT. Kiss me!

GUENEVERE. Never. If you had believed, for one moment, that it _was_
worth the price of grief and heartbreak, I should have believed it too,
and kissed you, and not cared what happened. I should have risked the
love of my husband and the happiness of your sweetheart without a
qualm. And who knows? It might have been worth it. An hour from now I
shall be sure it wasn't; I shall be sure it was all blind, wicked
folly. But now I am a little sorry. I wanted to gamble with fate. I
wanted us to stake our two lives recklessly upon a kiss--and see what
happened. And you couldn't. It wasn't a moment of beauty and terror to
you. You didn't want to challenge fate. You just wanted to kiss me....

LANCELOT. (_turning on her bitterly_) You women! Because you are
afraid, you accuse us of being cowards.

GUENEVERE. What do you mean?

LANCELOT. (_brutally_) You! You want a love-affair. Your common
sense tells you it's folly. Your reason won't allow it. So you want
your common sense to be overwhelmed, your reason lost. You want to be
swept off your, feet. You want to be _made_ to do something you
don't approve of. You want to be wicked, and you want it to be some one
else's fault. Tell me--isn't it true?

GUENEVERE. Yes, it is true--except for one thing, Lancelot. It's true
that I wanted you to sweep me off my feet, to make me forget
everything; it was wrong, it was foolish of me to want it, but I did.
Only if you had done it, you wouldn't have been "to blame." I should
have loved you for ever because you could do it. And now, because you
couldn't I despise you. Now you know. ... Go.

LANCELOT. No, Guenevere, you don't despise me. You're angry with me and
angry with yourself because you couldn't quite forget King Arthur. You
are blaming me and I am blaming you, isn't it amusing?

GUENEVERE. You are right, Lancelot. It's my fault. Oh, I envy women who
can dare to make fools of themselves who forget everything and don't
care what they do! I suppose that's love--and I'm not up to it.

LANCELOT. You are different....

GUENEVERE. Different? Yes, I'm a coward. I'm not primitive enough.
Despise me. You've a right to. And--please go.

LANCELOT. I'm afraid I'm not very primitive either, Gwen. I--

GUENEVERE. I'm afraid you're not, Lance. That's the trouble with us.
We're civilized. Hopelessly civilized. We had a spark of the old
barbaric flame--but it went out. We put it out--quenched it with
conversation. No, Lancelot, we've talked our hour away. It's time for
you to pack up. Good-bye. (_He kisses her hand lingeringly_.) You
may kiss my lips if you like. There's not the slightest danger. We were
unnecessarily alarmed about ourselves. We couldn't misbehave! ...

LANCELOT. Damn you! Good-bye!

_He goes_.

GUENEVERE. Well, _that_ did it. If he had stayed a moment longer--!

_She flings up her arms in a wild gesture--then recovers herself, and
goes to her chair, where she sits down and quietly resumes the darning
of her husband's socks_.




"The Rim of the World" was first produced by the Liberal Club, New York
City, at Webster Hall, in 1915, with the following cast:

The Maid ......... Jo Gotsch
The Gypsy ........ Floyd Dell
The King.......... Edward Goodman
The Princess...... Marjorie Jones

_Morning. A room in a palace, opening on a balcony. Through the
arched broad window at the back is seen the sky, just beginning to be
suffused with the rosy streakings of dawn. A large, wide heavy seat
stands on a dais, with a low square stool beside it. A girl kneels on
the stool, with her head and arms on the chair, dozing.

The dark figure of a man appears on the balcony. He puts a leg over the
window-ledge and climbs in slowly.

A little noise wakes the girl. She stirs, looks round, jumps up, and
starts to scream_.

THE MAN. Oh, not so loud!

THE GIRL. (_finishes the scream in a subdued voice_.)

THE MAN. That's better! But you ought to be more careful. You might
wake somebody up.

THE GIRL. Who are you?

THE MAN. That's just what I was about to ask you--tell me, are you a
Princess, or a maidservant?

THE GIRL. A Princess?--did you really think I might be a Princess?

THE MAN. Well, there are pretty Princesses. But I had rather you were a

THE GIRL. Would you? Well, so I am!

THE MAN. Thank you, my dear. And what would you like me to be?

THE MAID. I'm afraid you're somebody not quite proper!

THE MAN. Right, my dear. You are a person of marvellous discernment. I
am, in fact--

THE MAID. The king of the Gypsies!

THE GYPSY. How did you know?

THE GIRL. I guessed it!

THE GYPSY. H'm. You knew, I suppose, that our band has just encamped
outside the city?


THE GYPSY. And you have heard of the exploits of the Gypsy king. You
know that there is no wall high enough to keep him out, no force of
soldiers strong enough--

THE MAID. I know it by your eyes. They have the gypsy look in them.

THE GYPSY. Where have you ever seen gypsies before?

THE MAID. Never mind. But tell me--the wall around the palace is
seventeen feet high--

THE GYPSY. True enough!

THE MAID. A guard of soldiers continually marches around it--

THE GYPSY. Very true!

THE MAID. And there are spikes on the top. How did you get over?

THE GYPSY. That is my secret. Would I be the gypsy king if everybody
knew what I know?

THE MAID. Won't you tell _me_?

THE GYPSY. Women have asked me that many times. But I never tell. But,
though I won't tell you how I entered, I don't mind telling you _why_.

THE MAID. Oh, I know that already!

THE GYPSY. You think, perhaps, that I am a thief as well as a
housebreaker--that it is in the hope of royal treasure left unguarded
that I have come here. ...

THE MAID. You have come here because you took a fancy to see what was
on the other side of the wall. Isn't that it?

THE GYPSY. At last I have found some one in this stupid city who
understands me. Young woman--


THE GYPSY. You do not belong here. There is no one here who does things
because they are foolish and interesting. Would you like to come away
with me?

THE MAID. Oh, no. You must not think, because I understand you, that I
approve of you. You see--

THE GYPSY. You don't approve of me?

THE MAID. No--but I like you. I can't help it. I always did like
Gypsies. You see, I was brought up among them.

THE GYPSY. You a Gypsy child!

THE MAID. I suppose I was. Though I always preferred to imagine that I
was some Princess that had been changed in the cradle and stolen away.
When I was hardly more than a baby, I remember that I disapproved of
their rough ways. I can still faintly remember the jolting of the
wagons that kept me awake, and the smell of the soup in the big kettle
over the fire.

THE GYPSY. It is a good smell.

THE MAID. But I did not think so! It smelled of garlic. And when I was
six years old, I ran away. The tribe had encamped just outside the city
here, and I wandered away from the tents, and entered the city-gate,
and hid myself, and at night I came straight to the palace. The
soldiers found me, and took me to the old king. He said that I should
be the child of the palace. So they gave me white bread with butter on
it, and put me to sleep between smooth white sheets.

THE GYPSY. Gypsy children cannot thrive when they are taken into
cities. They turn away from white bread with butter on it, and
remembering the good smell of the soup in the big kettle over the fire,
they fall sick with hunger. As for you--

THE MAID. I thrived on the white bread with butter on it.

THE GYPSY. You were a little renegade. But I forgive you! And now to my
business, I have come to see the King, and talk with him. We kings
should become better acquainted, don't you think? I will ask him what
he considers the proper price for telling fortunes, and find out what
his ideas are on the subject of horse-trading. And no doubt he will ask
me what I think about his coming marriage with the Princess of Basque.
She is to arrive to-night, I believe, and be married tomorrow, to this
King whom she has never seen!

THE MAID. Be careful, or you will awaken him. That is his bed-chamber,

THE GYPSY. Ah! Is he a light sleeper?

THE MAID. The King sleeps soundly, and awakens punctually every morning
at six.

THE GYPSY. (_with a glance at the sky_) It is not quite six. Every
morning, you say? And what then?

THE MAID. He goes for a walk at seven, and breakfasts at eight. Every

THE GYPSY. Regularly?

THE MAID. The King is always on time to the moment.

THE GYPSY. Ah, one of those clockwork kings!

THE MAID. You must not make fun of him. He is a good king.

THE GYPSY. I have no doubt of it. And his regularity will be a great
comfort to his queen. She will always know that she will get her kiss
regularly, punctually, on the stroke of the clock. But--you say the
King rises at six, and goes for a walk at seven. What does he do in the

THE MAID. First he comes here and has his morning drink. Then he is
dressed for his walk.

THE GYPSY. And what is your part in these solemn proceedings?

THE MAID. I tie his slippers for him, and pour his drink.

THE GYPSY. It is a great honour! So great an honour that you come here
before the sun is up to be ready for your duties. Do you entertain the
King with conversation while he takes his morning drink?

THE MAID. No--the Gazetteer does that.

THE GYPSY. The Gazetteer--what is the Gazetteer?

THE MAID. The Gazetteer is a man whose duty it is to find out all that
happens in the city each day, and recite it to the King the next

THE GYPSY. Has the King as much curiosity as that? I would never have
thought it.

THE MAID. It isn't curiosity. It's just a custom that has sprung up.
All the merchants and well-to-do people hire a Gazetteer. It may be
useful to them--but I think the King regards it more as a duty than a

THE GYPSY. I remember now. They have something like it in the taverns.
I foresee a great future for it....

THE MAID. And it seems to go with that new drink.

THE GYPSY. What new drink?

THE MAID. Why, the new drink from Arabia. It has a queer name. Ka-Fe.

THE GYPSY. Ka-Fe--and what is it like?

THE MAID. It is dark, and served hot with sugar and cream.

THE GYPSY. It sounds interesting. I would like to taste it. What is it
most like--mead, perhaps, or wine, or that strong liquor distilled from
juniper berries?

THE MAID. Like none of these. It does not make men talk and sing and
tell their secrets and reveal their love and their hate, and knock
their heads against the stars and tangle their feet one with the

THE GYPSY. Then what is the good of it?

THE MAID. It makes the head clearer, and sobers the judgment. It makes
men think more and talk less. And it gives them strength to rule their
inward feelings.

THE GYPSY. What a pity! People are too much like that as it is.

THE MAID. The King says that some time the whole world will learn to
drink it!

THE GYPSY. A world of Ka-Fe drinkers! A world where people rule their
inward feelings and hide their secret thoughts! I shall be dead before
then, thank heaven!

THE MAID. But you keep your secrets--even from women--so you say.

THE GYPSY. It was a vain boast. Sometime, with my head in a woman's
lap, I shall blab away the secrets that give me power. I know it.
Somewhere in the world is a woman whose look will intoxicate me more
than wine. And for her sake I shall invent some new folly.

THE MAID. What a pity!

THE GYPSY. No--the thought cheers me. So long as there are women, men
will be fools. Their Ka-Fe will not help them.

THE MAID. Do you approve of folly, then?

THE GYPSY. It is the thing that makes life worth living. I have
committed every kind of folly I know, and the world would be dull and
empty if I did not think that some new and greater folly lay ahead.

THE MAID. You think, then, that one should surrender oneself to folly?

THE GYPSY. I think so truly. What have you on the tip of your tongue?
What folly have you given yourself to, my child?

THE MAID. I am afraid you will laugh at me. ...

THE GYPSY. Not I. Tell me, my dear, are you in love?

THE MAID. Yes....

THE GYPSY. With some one who will never give you love in return?

THE MAID. Yes. ...

THE GYPSY. And is it--?

THE MAID. The King--yes. Oh, I am a fool to tell you!

_She hides her face in her hands_.

THE GYPSY. Listen, my child. You are not more a fool than I. The other
day I rode out on a swift horse to be by myself under the sky, and
think my thoughts. And there, a two days' journey from this city, I saw
the slow-moving caravan of the Princess of Basque, on her way to wed
this King whom she has never seen. Curiosity drew me near, for I wanted
to see the face of the Princess. I tied my horse to a tree, and hid
among the bushes by the road-side as they passed. I saw her among the
cushions of the royal wagon. She had a strange, wild beauty. I saw her,
and loved her, and grew sick with loneliness. I rode back to the city,
and tried to wash out the memory of that face with wine. But it was no
use, so I left the tavern and climbed the wall and entered the palace,
that I might look also at the man whom she is to wed. When I have seen
him, then I shall--I don't know what. But--we are two foolish ones, you
and I!

THE MAID. Thank you for telling me that. But you must go now. It is
almost time for the King to come.

THE GYPSY. What if he found me here--what would he do? Have me
beheaded, or merely thrown into prison?

THE MAID. No--he is a kind king. He would only tell you how wrong it is
to break into people's houses and show disrespect for the law.

THE GYPSY. I had almost rather be put in prison than lectured at. Well,
I must invent something to explain my presence. (_There is a knock_.)
Who is that?

THE MAID. Hide yourself. I will see.

THE GYSPY. (_from behind the curtains of the window_) I am hidden.

_The maid goes to the door, and comes back with a paper in her hand_.


THE MAID. (_looking at the paper_) The Gazetteer is ill, and cannot

THE GYPSY. (_emerging from the curtains_) The Gazetteer is ill....

THE MAID. The King will be annoyed.

THE GYPSY. We will spare his majesty that annoyance. I shall be the
King's Gazetteer this morning!

THE MAID. But how can you?

THE GYPSY. Leave that to me. (_He takes his position behind the
curtains_.) Such news as he has never heard, I shall recite to the

THE MAID. Ssh! Here he comes now!

_The King enters, in his dressing gown, yawning, with his hand over
his mouth. In the midst of his yawn, he speaks_.

THE KING. Goo' mo'ing!

THE MAID. (_bowing_) Good morning, your majesty!

THE KING. (_glancing out at the morning sky_) Looks like a nice day
today. (_He sits down_.)

THE GYPSY. (_from slightly behind the King's seat_) Not a cloud in
your majesty's sky!

THE KING. (_twisting about to look at him_) And who the devil are you?

THE GYPSY. (_coming around in front and bowing_) I am the Gazetteer.

THE KING. (_sputtering_) What are you trying to palm off on me? You are
not my Gazetteer! My Gazetteer is decently dressed in black and white.
You come here in red and yellow. What does it mean?

THE MAID. Your majesty, your own Gazetteer is ill and cannot come, so
he has sent his cousin, who is in the same business.

THE KING. (_disgustedly_) Bring me my Ka-Fe. (_The maid goes out_.) Now
tell me, sirrah, you don't mean to say that you are used by respectable
people as a source of information? I cannot believe it!

THE GYPSY. Your majesty, it would ill become me to deprecate the
character of my clientele. They may not be rich, they may not be
influential, but they are the foundation of your kingdom's prosperity.
And I must say for myself that for the one person that your Gazetteer
serves, I serve many. You may sneer at my quality if you like, but I
point to my circulation. I am the official Gazetteer of the Red-Horse
Tavern, and scores of petty tradesmen, as well as clerks, bricklayers
and truck drivers, depend upon me for their knowledge of the world's

THE KING. Well, well! So you are in your humble way an agency of

THE GYPSY. Your majesty may well say so!

_The maid has returned with the Ka-Fe. She puts the tray on the floor
beside the seat, and kneels by it. The King's cup she places on the
stool at his hand_.

THE KING. (_sipping his Ka-Fe_) Very well. Proceed.

THE GYPSY. (_reciting_) This is the story of a crime! The shop of
the widow Solomon stands in the middle of the great street which takes
its name from our King--may he live long and prosper! In that shop are
displayed for sale diamonds, rubies, emeralds, pearls, and all manner
of precious stones, set in rings and chains curiously wrought of silver
and gold. And there yesterday came a band of robbers--not in the night,
when all men are asleep, and even the watch-dog dozes beside the door--
but in the glare of day, intent on wickedness. They entered the shop,
and with the threat of death stopped up the mouths of the servitors.
Then they filled a large sack with their precious booty, and escaped.
They have not been apprehended. This is the sixth in the series of
daring daylight robberies that has occurred within the month. The
failure of the police to deal with this situation has provoked
widespread comment on the incompetency of the King's Chief of Police,
and there are some who assert that the police are in league with the
robbers. The magnificent new house which the Chief of Police has been
erecting, ostensibly with the money left him by a rich aunt of whom
nobody ever heard, seems to lend colour to these--

THE KING. What! What! What's this? Why, I never heard such impudence!
Fellow, do you mean to tell me--

_He becomes speechless, and sets down his Ka-Fe_.

THE GYPSY. Your majesty, I have especially softened the wording of this
piece of news in order not to offend your majesty's ears. But in
substance that is the story which was told last night at every
tavern in the city.

THE KING. But, sirrah, I cannot permit--I simply cannot permit--why--

THE GYPSY. Suppose, your majesty, we skip the police news, and go on to
gentler themes.

THE KING. That would be better--much better.

THE GYPSY. Shall we take up--politics?

THE KING. (_wearily_) Oh, yes.

THE GYPSY. (_reciting_) A debate between the rival factions who
seek to influence the governing of our kingdom through the so-called
Council of Peers was held last night outdoors in the public market. The
rival orators exceeded one another in dullness and hoarseness. The
attendance was very slight. The general public takes little interest in
these proceedings, knowing as it does that they are merely a diversion
for the scions of old families whose energies are unemployed except in
time of war. It is the general feeling, moreover, that the King may be
depended upon to govern the kingdom properly without the interference
of these aristocratic meddlers.

THE KING. Ah, splendid, splendid! Let us hear that again!

THE GYPSY. A debate between the rival factions--

THE KING. No, no--the last part. That about meddling.

THE GYPSY. It is the general feeling, moreover, that the King may be
depended upon to govern the kingdom properly--

THE KING. Without interference from these aristocratic meddlers. Yes,
yes! Those are my sentiments exactly. How well put that is--without
interference! Ah, it shows that I am appreciated among the lower
classes. They understand me. What did you say they were? Petty
tradesmen and clerks and bricklayers?

THE GYPSY. And truck drivers, your majesty.

THE KING. And truck drivers. Splendid fellows, all of them. As you
said--the backbone of my king-dom. I must appoint a royal commission to
investigate the welfare of the truck drivers. The Council of Peers will
object--but I shall ignore them. Broken-down aristocrats! what do they
know about governing a kingdom? They are useful only in war-time.
Fighting is their only talent. In times of peace they are a nuisance. I
shall not let them come between me and my people. ... (_He rises, and
with a dignified oratorical gesture addresses an imaginary
audience_)--Tradesmen! Clerks! Truck drivers! The time has come--
(_He pauses, frowns, and sits down again_.) Never mind that now.
Go on with the news.

THE GYSPY. The rest of the political news is uninteresting, your

THE KING. It usually is. This is the first time it has ever been
otherwise. Turn to something else.

THE GYPSY. I will turn to the society items, your majesty.


THE GYPSY. (_reciting_) All tongues are discussing the approaching
nuptials of the King and the Princess of--

THE KING. Tut! tut! I fear this is not a proper topic for--

THE GYPSY. It is a matter of interest to all your subjects, your

THE KING. Well, well--go on. A public figure like myself must submit to
having his private affairs discussed. It is unfortunate, but--go on.

THE GYPSY. (_reciting_)--the approaching nuptials of the King and
the Princess of Basque. The details of the royal bride's trousseau are
already well known to the public, down to the last garter. The six
embroidered chemises from Astrakhan--

_The maid shows great interest. The King is embarrassed_.

THE KING. But, my dear fellow--really, you know--! This is--!

THE GYPSY. Items of this nature, your majesty, are recited in the
bazaar to audiences composed exclusively of women. Under the
circumstances there is surely no impropriety--

THE KING. Very well. I accept your explanation. But as your present
audience is not composed exclusively of women, I suggest that you omit
those details.

THE GYPSY. Your majesty, I omit them. The account continues....
(_Reciting_) The marriage has excellent reasons of state for being
made, inasmuch as it cements in friendship two kingdoms which have been
at war with each other off and on for a hundred years. But it has its
romantic side as well. It is, in fact, a love-match. The fact that the
royal lovers have never seen each other only emphasizes its romantic
quality. Their joy in beholding in actuality what they have for three
long months cherished so dearly in imagination, is a theme for the poet
laureate--who will, however, we fear, judging from his past
performances, hardly do it justice. It is, as we have said, a love-
match. The royal pair fell in love with what they had heard of each
other--the Princess of Basque with the image she had formed in her mind
from glowing reports of the King's valour, amounting to rashness, his
fluency of poetic speech, his manly bearing, and his irrepressible
wit.... (_The King nods gravely at each item_.) While the King
became madly enamoured of the reputation of the Princess of Basque for
sweetness, industry in good works, and the docility which befits a
wife, even of a King.... (_The King nods gravely at these items
also_.) She is, indeed, a pattern of all the domestic virtues--she
is quiet, obedient, dignified--

_There is a cry in a high feminine voice, outside. All look toward
the window. A girl appears, running past, with short loose hair tossing
about her face. She pauses, and flings herself over the window-ledge,
and is standing--panting, red-cheeked, smiling--in the room. The King

THE KING. (_furious, yet coldly polite_) And who, in the name of
the sacred traditions of womanhood, are you?

THE FIGURE. I--I am the Princess of Basque!

_They stare at her_.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Mid-day. Yellow curtains have been drawn across the broad window. On
the wide seat, the King, dressed in purple robes, sits with head bowed
in thought.... There is a noise of shouting outside. The King looks

THE KING. (_sadly_) There it is again.

THE GYPSY. (_entering_) Your majesty--

THE KING. You? What are you doing here?

THE GYPSY. Your majesty, the palace is in a turmoil. The attendants are
helping the soldiers keep order among the crowd in the courtyard--the
gentlemen-in-waiting are receiving deputations with wedding presents--
the women are distributing medals bearing the image of the bride. All
the city is celebrating her unexpected arrival, and rejoicing with you
in your presumed happiness. In this disturbed state of affairs, _I_
have been drafted into your majesty's service, and come to bring you a

THE KING. (_bitterly_) I hoped I would never see you again. It all
began with you. If I were a superstitious person I would say you
brought misfortune with you into this house. Before you came this
morning, everything was as it had always been--orderly and regular.
What is your message? That madwoman has not escaped, has she?

THE GYPSY. The young woman who calls herself the Princess of Basque is
safe under lock and key, according to your majesty's orders.

THE KING. Is she well guarded?

THE GYPSY. The soldier who conducted her from the room this morning is
keeping guard at the door, your majesty. I recognized him by the black
eye she gave him.

THE KING. Good. What is your news?

THE GYPSY. Your majesty, I am bidden to tell you that the Royal
Archivist, whom you bade to search through the histories of your royal
ancestors for some precedent to guide you in this matter, has locked
himself with his forty assistants in the royal library, and cannot be
roused by knocking.

THE KING. They have fallen asleep among the archives.... What else?

THE GYPSY. Your majesty, the Royal Physician has been summoned,
according to your orders, to examine the young woman as to her sanity.
But she refuses to answer all questions, asserting that she is in a
state of abounding health, and is in no need of the services of a

THE KING. How can we prove her mad if she will not answer questions!

THE GYPSY. Further, I am bidden to tell you that the watchman on the
tower has seen two horsemen in the far distance galloping toward the
city. They come by the eastern road, and it is believed that they
are couriers from the King of Basque.

THE KING. This matter must be settled before they arrive. Is there
anything else?

THE GYPSY. Yes, your majesty. The Eldest of the Wise Men has come here
in answer to your summons.

THE KING. Bring him in. And do you remain here in attendance.

THE GYPSY. Yes, your majesty.

_He goes to the door_.

THE KING. This would never have happened to my ancestors. Not to Otho,
nor Magnus, nor Carolus, nor Gavaine. Am I less than these? Perhaps I
am, but the same blood flows in my veins, and while it flows I shall
rule as they ruled.

_The Gypsy ushers in the Eldest of the Wise Men_.

THE WISE MAN. Your majesty--

THE KING. I have sent for you, O Eldest of the Wise Men, in an hour of
extreme perplexity. Not lightly would I have torn you from your
meditations. I have need of your wisdom.

THE WISE MAN. Whatever your majesty wishes to know, I shall answer out
of the fulness of knowledge born of long study and deep reflection.
Speak, O King! Is it of Infinity that you would ask? or of Eternity?--
or of the Absolute?

THE KING. Nothing so simple. I want to know what to do with a madwoman
who climbed in at my window an hour since, asserting herself to be the
daughter of the King of Basque, and my affianced bride--and with a
misguided populace which insists upon celebrating my alleged happiness.
(_The tumult is heard outside, this time with a harsh note in it. The
King starts, turning to the Gypsy_.) Is _that_ a sound of rejoicing?

THE GYPSY. No, your majesty. That sound means that the rumour has just
spread among them that the Princess of Basque has been falsely
imprisoned in the palace. They are calling for blood.

THE KING. What! An uprising against me?

THE GYPSY. Not at all, your majesty. They hold your majesty blameless.
They believe that you have been deceived by the false counsel of the
Eldest of the Wise Men. It is his blood they are calling for.

THE KING. (_to the Eldest of the Wise Men_) There you have it! That, as
some one has admirably phrased it, is the situation in a nutshell. What
shall we do?

THE WISE MAN. (_stupefied_) But your majesty--!

THE KING. Your advice--what is it? Come, be quick. Out of your wisdom,
born of long study and deep reflection, speak the word that shall set
this jangled chaos in order once more.

THE WISE MAN. Your majesty, I am afraid I do not understand these
things. If you had asked me about the Absolute--

THE KING. There is no Absolute any more! The Absolute has been missing
from this kingdom--and for all I know, from the Universe--since half-
past six o'clock this morning. No one regrets its absence more than I.
There can be no comfort, no peace, no order, without an Absolute. But
we must face the facts. The Absolute is gone, and this kingdom will be
without one until I restore it with my own hands. I shall set about
doing so immediately. And meanwhile, old man, you had better seek some
safe corner where my misguided populace cannot lay hands on you.

THE WISE MAN. Your majesty--

THE KING. Go. We have business to attend to. (_The Eldest of the Wise
Men goes out_.) And now, you sharp-nosed scoundrel, I want some of
_your_ advice! When the roof of the world has fallen in, there are
no precedents, wisdom is worthless, and the opinion of one man is as
good as that of another,--if not better. So what have you to suggest?

THE GYPSY. Your majesty, before I make my suggestion, let me confess to
you that I had underrated the force of your majesty's personality. Not
until this moment have I understood that you possess the qualities of
kingship as well as the title of king.

THE KING. Well, what of that?

THE GYPSY. This, your majesty. There is only one man in your kingdom
who can cope with this girl whom you call mad. Your servants cannot
do it. As I passed by the room where she is imprisoned, I heard the
soldier whose eye she blacked talking to her. He was saying that it was
a great honour to have had a black eye from her hands, and he was
begging her autograph. If she had desired to escape, she could have
done so--he is her devoted slave. And the doctor who went to examine
her as to her sanity has stayed to talk to her about horse-breaking.
That, as you know, is his avocation; and he has found in her a woman
who knows more about it than he does. He sits there like a man
entranced. They are all putty in her hands.

THE KING. (_impatiently_) Get to the point.

THE GYPSY. I have said that there is only one man in the kingdom who
can cope with her. And that man is your majesty's self.


THE GYPSY. Yes--you must go to her yourself.

THE KING. There's an idea. But what am I to do then?

THE GYPSY. Talk to her, make her your friend. Coax her secret out of
her, and you will find that she is some madcap actress from a
travelling company of mountebanks, who has done this thing in order to
have the story told by the gazetteers and bring people to look at her.
Get her to confess, and then let her story spread among the crowd--and
the whole uprising that is now taxing the resources of the palace guard
will dissolve in a burst of laughter.

THE KING. I will do it. If it is not a kingly duty, I shall at least
accomplish it in a kingly manner. Thank you, my friend. But what is

THE MAID. (_entering_) Your majesty--

THE KING. Speak. What is it?

THE MAID. Two couriers from the King of Basque have arrived on foam-
flecked horses, and ask to see you instantly.

THE KING. Let them wait. I have other affairs in hand. Send them here
on the stroke of noon. (_To the Gypsy_) Your explanation may be the
correct one. But my own opinion is that she is mad. Whatever it is,
I shall soon have the truth.

THE GYPSY. May the fortune of kings attend you!

_The King goes out. The Gypsy and the maid seat themselves idly on
the edge of the dais_.

THE MAID. Poor woman! No doubt she went mad with love of the King,
until she imagined herself to be his bride. I can understand that! Poor

THE GYPSY. I am almost sorry for him.

THE MAID. Sorry for _him_? You mean, for _her_!

THE GYPSY. The Princess of Basque needs none to be sorry for her. She
can take care of herself--as she proved on the eye of the soldier who
locked her up.

THE MAID. Then you believe it? That she _is_ the Princess of Basque?

THE GYPSY. I know it. Have I not seen her face?

THE MAID. Then why did you not speak up?

THE GYPSY. Who am I, to interfere in the prenuptial courtesies of a
royal pair? Besides, it will give her an insight into the character of
her future husband.

THE MAID. You are very unjust to the King, to say that. He is not
unkind. He only had her locked up because he thought her demented.

THE GYPSY. Precisely. Oh, she is not one to mind a little rough
handling. She gives as good as she gets. She will not hold that against
him. But that he should think her mad because she came unattended, at
an unexpected hour, with flushed cheeks and laughing lips to meet her

THE MAID. Because she came climbing in at the window like a madwoman!

THE GYPSY. You think as the King does. For you there are no ways but
the way to which you are accustomed. That is sanity to you, and all
else is madness. You have a map of life which is like your maps of the
world--with all the safe known places marked by their familiar names,
and outside you have drawn childish pictures of fabulous beasts, and
written, "This is a desert." But I tell you I have gone into these
deserts, and found good green grass there, and sweet spring water, and
delightful fruits. And beyond them I have seen great mountains and
stormy seas.... And I shall go back some day, and cross those mountains
and those seas, and find what lies beyond.

THE MAID. Yes, it must be interesting to travel.

THE GYPSY. (_brought down to earth_) Forgive me, child. Do you know,
you are very like the King. That is just what he would have said.

THE MAID (_pleased_) Is it?

THE GYPSY. Word for word. You are the feminine counterpart of your
ruler. What a pity you cannot help him manage his kingdom!

THE MAID. Hush! Here he comes now! And she is with him!

_They rise respectfully. The King enters, followed by the Princess of

THE KING. We can conduct our conversation better in here. (_To the
others_) Leave us.

THE GYPSY. Yes, your majesty.

_They go out_.

THE KING. Pray be seated, madam.

THE PRINCESS. In your majesty's presence?

THE KING. I will sit down too. We will sit here together. It is
unconventional, but--there is no one to see. Please!

_He takes her by the hand and conducts her up the dais to the wide
seat. He seats himself beside her_.

THE PRINCESS. It is very kind of your majesty to give so much of your
time to a troublesome girl.

THE KING. I confess that I find it a pleasure to converse with you. It
is a relief from the burden of my royal responsibilities.

THE PRINCESS. I did not know that a king had responsibilities. I
thought he stood above such things.

THE KING. My responsibilities are many and grave.

THE PRINCESS. Yes. What are they?

THE KING. It would take too long to enumerate them in detail. Suffice
it to say that the happiness of a whole people depends on me.

THE PRINCESS. The happiness of a whole people.... That means:
merchants--and clerks--and--

THE KING. And bricklayers. Yes, and truck drivers. They look to me for
their happiness.

THE PRINCESS. In what does the happiness of a truck driver consist, O

THE KING. I am not sure. But I am going to appoint a royal commission
to find out for me.

THE PRINCESS. I can tell you now. The happiness of a truck driver
consists in drinking beer with his friends at the tavern in the
evening, and taking his sweetheart out to see the royal menagerie on
Sunday afternoon. And do you know how you can best sub serve that
happiness, O King? By letting him alone, to drink his beer, and make
love to his sweetheart.

THE KING. You are wrong. You must be wrong. If the happiness of a
people were as simple as that, there would be no need of governments
and kings to promote it.

THE PRINCESS. Be thankful, O King, that they do not know that--and that
they like to have kings and queens, to whom they give, in their
generosity, palaces and horses and--and silken chemises from Astrakhan!
Why not enjoy the gifts we have, as the truck driver enjoys his beer
and his sweetheart? Let us each have our brief flash of happiness in
the sun, O King!

THE KING. Your philosophy is the deadly enemy of mine.

THE PRINCESS. And must we be enemies of each other, too?

THE KING. Never, madam. Let us be friends in spite of our opinions.

THE PRINCESS. Your majesty is very gracious.

THE KING. And now that we are friends, I hope you will not keep up the
jest any longer. The lady who is to be my wife and queen arrives in a
few hours. You can see how necessary it is that the matter be cleared
up before she comes. You will not continue to embarrass me?

THE PRINCESS. Now that we are friends, I will tell you the truth. I am
_not_ she who is to be your wife and queen.

THE KING. Thank you. And in return, I forgive you freely for all the
disturbances you have caused to me and my kingdom.

THE PRINCESS. I am sorry.

THE KING. Of course, you did not understand what you were doing. You
did not realize how necessary to a kingdom is the tranquillity which
comes only from perfect order and regularity. There has not been such a
day as this before in the history of my kingdom. And there will never
be such a day again. Tomorrow all will be smooth and regular again.

THE PRINCESS. Smooth and regular! Do you mean that you like things
always to be the same, with never any change?

THE KING. I happen to like it, yes. But it is not a question of what
one likes. It is a question of what is necessary. Even if I did not
like order, I would have to submit myself to its routine. That is what
it means to be a king.

THE PRINCESS. And is that what it means to be a queen?

THE KING. In this kingdom, yes. In other places, there may be some
relaxation of the traditional rule which compels a queen to be in every
way a pattern to her subjects. But the queen of my kingdom will always
be a model of perfect womanhood.

THE PRINCESS. And what if she did not wish to be?

THE KING. She would learn that her wishes were unimportant.

THE PRINCESS. And if she refused to learn that?

THE KING. (_grimly_) I would teach her.

THE PRINCESS. (_with flashing eyes_) You mean you would make her obey?

THE KING. That is a hard saying. But this kingdom has not been built up
with centuries of blood and toil to be torn down at the whim of a
foolish girl. I have a duty to perform, and that is to hand on the
kingdom to my descendants as it was handed on to me from my great
ancestors, Otho and Magnus, Carolus and Gavaine. And by the blood that
once flowed in their veins and now flows in mine, I will so do it--and
rather than fail, I would break into pieces a woman's body and a wife's

THE PRINCESS. I understand you fully. And may I go now?

THE KING. First you must tell me who you are and how you came to play
this mad prank.

THE PRINCESS. Your majesty, I am only a foolish girl. I will not tell
you my name, but I came from the kingdom of Basque.

THE KING. Have you ever seen the Princess, by any chance?

THE PRINCESS. I was in the royal caravan.

THE KING. Then you know the Princess!

THE PRINCESS. Not so well as I thought, your majesty. But I had heard
so much talk of her coming marriage and of her great happiness, that
there was nothing else in my mind. I dreamed of it day and night.

THE KING. Poor child.

THE PRINCESS. You may well say so. I dreamed of it until I lost all
sense of reality, and imagined that I was that happy girl who was going
to meet her lover.

THE KING. Madness!

THE PRINCESS. It was madness--nothing else. I thought I was to become
free--to throw off the restraints that had chafed me for so long at
home. I thought I was going to see everything I wished to see, and do
everything I wished to do--to follow every impulse, no matter where it
led me--to commit every pleasant folly I chose--and be happy.

THE KING. What queer notions!

THE PRINCESS. I had queerer notions than that. I thought I loved a man
that I had never seen. I thought he loved me. I pitied myself and him
because we were so long apart, and I burned to go to him. So, while the
slow-moving caravan was yet far from its destination, I rose secretly
in the night, while the others slept, and saddled the fastest horse in
the train. I rode under the stars, with only one thought--his arms
about me at the journey's end, his lips on mine. So I came to the city.
I scaled the walls, and entered the palace at dawn.

THE KING. But tell me--the wall around the palace is seventeen feet

THE PRINCESS. True enough.

THE KING. A guard of soldiers continually marches around it--

THE PRINCESS. Very true.

THE KING. And there are spikes on the top. How did you get over?

THE PRINCESS. That is my secret. The rest I have told you. And now let
me go.

THE KING. Tell me one thing more--

THE PRINCESS. Nothing more! I must go! I feel that if I stay any
longer, something dreadful will happen!

THE KING. (_taking her hand and detaining her_) What do you fear?

THE PRINCESS. I feel like the maiden in the story who was told that if
she stayed till the clock struck, she would be changed into the shape
of an animal. Something tells me that if I stay here till the clock
strikes, we shall both be transformed into beasts. Oh, let me go!

THE KING. No, wait!

_The clock strikes noon_.

THE PRINCESS. (_staring at the door_) I am lost!

THE GYPSY. (_at the door, announcing_) The couriers of the King of

_The couriers enter. They stare amazed at the girl seated beside the

FIRST COURIER. The Princess!


_The King and the Princess look at each other. Then the King speaks_.

THE KING. (_challengingly_) Where should the Princess be, but beside
her affianced husband?

FIRST COURIER. We came to tell you that she was missing from the

SECOND COURIER. We feared for her safety.

THE KING. Your fears were needless.

FIRST COURIER. They told us--

THE KING. Never mind what they told you. You have seen. And now leave

THE COURIERS. Yes, your majesty.

_They go, the Gypsy following_.

THE KING. And now, with apologies for the misunderstanding and delay,
let me welcome you to my palace and my arms--my princess and my

THE PRINCESS. You will not hold me to it!

THE KING. We cannot escape it.

THE PRINCESS. But I am no fit queen for you. You know what I am like.
You do not want me for a wife!

THE KING. It is not the things one wants, but the things that are

THE PRINCESS. I will never marry you.

THE KING. You shall marry me tomorrow.


THE KING. The preparations are made for the wedding. Two kingdoms hang
on the event.

THE PRINCESS. Let them hang!

THE KING. You, the daughter of my father's ancient foe, are to unite
two kingdoms in fraternal amity. Do you understand? War and peace are
in the balance.


THE KING. Or peace. It rests with you.

THE PRINCESS. I begin to understand. How strange to think of myself as
a peace-offering--a gift from one kingdom to another! Is that what it
means to be a Princess?

THE KING. That is what it means.

THE PRINCESS. I had rather be a Gypsy, and choose my lover as I
wandered the roads!

THE KING. But you are a Princess, and your choosing is between peace
and war. Do you choose war?

THE PRINCESS (_fiercely_) For myself, yes. I would gladly lead an
army against you. I would destroy with the sword everything that your
kingdom stands for. And you--I would kill with pleasure.

THE KING. You might kill _me_, but the things for which my kingdom
stands you cannot kill. They are indestructible. They are older than
the world, and will last longer.

THE PRINCESS. (_sadly_) Yes--there was order before the world began its
tumult, and there will be quiet when the final night sets in. I am only
a spark in the great darkness, a cry in the wide silence.

THE KING. Do you submit?

THE PRINCESS. I am not stronger than death. I submit. I would not have
those truck drivers leaving their sweethearts to go to war on account
of me. (_She goes up to the curtain, and touches it_.) How thin the
prison-wall is! And yet it shuts me away from the sunlight.

THE KING (_gently_) I am a good king, and I shall be a good husband.

THE PRINCESS. It will be easy for you, perhaps. To me it will not come
so easy to be a good wife.

THE KING. Put yourself in my hands, and I will teach you.

THE PRINCESS. I will try. (_She kneels at his feet_.) O King, I
will be obedient to you in all things. I will obey your commands, and
be as you wish me to be--a good wife and a good queen.

THE KING. (_taking her hand and raising her to his side_) For my sake!

THE PRINCESS. For the sake of the truck driver and his sweetheart.

THE KING. As you will.

THE PRINCESS. I ask one small wish--that you leave me now. I must think
over my new condition and all that it means.

THE KING. I am happy to see you in so profitable a frame of mind. Let
me remind you that the royal luncheon will be served promptly in half
an hour.

THE PRINCESS. I shall be there--on time.

THE KING. Meanwhile I leave you to your thoughts.

_He goes_.

THE PRINCESS. How weak I am! (_She goes to the wide seat, and sits
down, brooding. The Gypsy steals in, and crouches on the dais beside
the wide seat_.) A good queen, and a good wife--?

THE GYPSY. (_softly_) Impossible.

THE PRINCESS (_startled_) Was it I said that?

       *       *       *       *       *

_Night. The curtains are drawn aside. The walls and pillars are
silhouetted against a moonlit sky.... The Gypsy is standing by the
window, looking out_.

THE GYPSY. Ah, nameless and immortal goddess, whose home is in the
moonbeams! I speak to you and praise you for perhaps the last time. O
august and whimsical goddess, I am about to die for your sake--I, the
last of your worshippers! When I have perished on your altar, the whole
world will be sane. Your butterflies will no longer whirl on crimson
wings within the minds of men; only the maggots of reason will crawl
and fester. You will look, and weep a foolish tear--for all this is not
worth your grief--and take your flight to other constellations.

THE MAID. (_who has just entered and stands listening_) The
constellations! Oh, do teach me astronomy!

THE GYPSY. Astronomy! Why do you want to be taught astronomy?

THE MAID. Because I want to be able to tell fortunes from the stars.

THE GYPSY. That is astrology, my dear--a much more useful science.
Come, and I will give you a lesson. Do you see that dim planet swinging
low on the horizon? That is my star. Its name is Saturn. It is the star
of mischief and rebellion. I was born under that star, and I shall
always hate order as Saturn hated his great enemy Jupiter.

THE MAID. One does not need to know the stars to tell that. But let me
counsel you to caution.

THE GYPSY. Ah, my dear, that was a wifely speech! You will make a
success of marriage.

THE MAID. I shall never marry.

THE GYPSY. It would be a pity not to make some good man happy. You are
the ideal of every male being in this kingdom, including its ruler.

THE MAID. Do you really think I am the sort of girl to make the King

THE GYPSY. I am sure of it. You are the very one. You have all the
domestic virtues. You are quiet, dignified, obedient. If you have any
thoughts or impulses which do not fit into the frame of wifely
domesticity, you know how to suppress them.

THE MAID. You are making fun of me.

THE GYPSY. I am speaking the truth. You would make the King a perfect
wife. Ah, if only you were the Princess of Basque, and she a child of
the gypsies!--Shall I read your fortune from the stars?


THE GYPSY. What is your birthday?

THE MAID. I do not know.

THE GYPSY. It is strange for a child of the gypsies not to know that.
But I can guess. You were born under the sign of Libra.

THE MAID. How can you tell that?

THE GYPSY. You counselled me to caution. Only one born under the sign
of the scales could have made that speech. You have the balanced

THE MAID. Which is my star?

THE GYPSY. You are sixteen years old. When you were born, the planet
housed in the sign of Libra was Venus. And so you will love not too
much, nor too little, but well. A fortunate planet! There it is, high
in the heavens. And see, it is in conjunction with Jupiter. Do you know
what that means?

THE MAID. No! Tell me!

THE GYPSY. It means that love and authority will presently come
together in your life.... Oh, happy, happy child!

THE MAID. But I do not understand.

THE GYPSY. There are some things past understanding. Even I do not
quite understand it yet. I must think it out.

THE MAID. Then think quickly--and advise me. For I read my fortune
otherwise. I see myself growing hollow-eyed with looking in eternal
silence at the man I love--and worse than that, at the woman I hate--
for I do hate her. I shall go mad with wanting to speak out my love and
hate. Tell me what to do!

THE GYPSY. I cannot advise to rashness. I can only say--speak out your
love and hate.

THE MAID. Do you mean--tell him?

THE GYPSY. Yes. Tell him. And do not be afraid. There is no man so
proud but he is moved to tenderness when a woman says she loves him.
You go to an easy task, my dear, as I go to a hard one. For there is no
woman so kind but her heart is stirred with a base triumph and an easy
scorn when a man speaks out his love....

_They go out. From the other side the King and the Princess come in_.

THE KING. I have shown you your apartment. If there is anything wanting
to your comfort, name it and it shall be provided.

THE PRINCESS. Nothing is wanting, not even a lock on the door. I shall
be happy in my dreams at least.

THE KING. Your delicacy of mind does you credit. I am glad to find that
you are not lacking in that supreme attribute of young womanhood--

THE PRINCESS. You mistake me. There shall be no lock on the door of my
dreams. And I shall meet again in dreams the lover whom I know so well.

THE KING. (_scandalized_) Princess!

THE PRINCESS. Do you put a ban on my dreams, too?

THE KING. I forbid you to discuss such subjects.

THE PRINCESS. Very well. I shall keep my thoughts to myself.

THE KING. Princess, I understand that it is your avocation to be a

THE PRINCESS. It is one of them.

THE KING. It shall be one of mine to be a woman-breaker.

THE PRINCESS. It is well to know where we stand.

THE KING. You promised this morning to submit yourself to me, and learn
to be a good wife.

THE PRINCESS. So I did. And perhaps so will I. I do not know.

THE KING. In what way do I displease you? If it is anything which I can
change without hurt to the well-being of my kingdom and the traditions
of my ancestors, I will gladly change it.

THE PRINCESS. There are many things--too many to enumerate in detail.

THE KING. Name one of them.

THE PRINCESS. For one thing, you seem a trifle less handsome than the
portrait of you they gave me.--But I suppose you have been thinking the
same thing about me. Indeed, my portrait must have flattered me
greatly, since you did not recognize me this morning....

THE KING. For a moment--it must have been intuition--I did think it was
you. Unfortunately, I allowed my judgment to lead me astray.

THE PRINCESS. It always will, if you pay any attention to it. So you
did believe it was I for a moment? That is interesting! And how did you

THE KING. I--shall I tell you?

THE PRINCESS. Yes--tell me!

THE KING. I felt embarrassed that I should have been receiving you in
my dressing gown.

THE PRINCESS. (_scornfully_) Oh!

_She walks away_.

THE KING. (_sadly_) I should not have told you about it.

THE PRINCESS. (_coming back to him_) Yes. It was quite right to
tell me. And I can see now why you would feel that way. You wanted to
look your best for me, didn't you? I quite understand that. I spent
weeks trying on my new gowns, and deciding in which one I would seem
most beautiful to you. Only, of course, I forgot at the last moment,
and rode off to you in this!

THE KING. I--I can understand how you felt. I am--sorry I disappointed
you. Forgive me.

THE PRINCESS. Yes. (_After a silence_) I suppose we can be happy
together--after a fashion.

THE KING. I am sure of it. And now--shall we go down to the throne-room
to rehearse the ceremony for tomorrow?

THE PRINCESS. Please leave me here a while. I want to think.

THE KING. Very well. I shall come for you presently.

_He goes_.

THE PRINCESS. (_after a pause_) If I make up my mind to it--!

THE GYPSY. (_appearing over the window-ledge_) Never!

THE PRINCESS. Who are you?

THE GYPSY. Say that I am the wind, coming in at your window as I have
come so many times before when you lay awake in your chamber, bringing
you strange thoughts.

THE PRINCESS. If you are the wind bringing me strange thoughts, you
come to me for the last time.

THE GYPSY. Or say that I am a dream that has come to you often in your
chamber when you lay asleep.

THE PRINCESS. I am forbidden to dream, now.

THE GYPSY. Or say that I am a Gypsy, come to tell a Queen that he loves

THE PRINCESS. Those words are like an echo. I seem to have heard them
many times. Come nearer.

_He enters, and kneels to her_.

THE GYPSY. This is my last folly. I come to you, O princess, and offer
all I have--my love, and a bed on the heath under the stars.

THE PRINCESS. That is not enough, my friend. There are other things.

THE GYPSY. What other things?

THE PRINCESS. Dimly, as from another life, I seem to remember the
jolting of the wagons that rocked me to sleep, and the good smell of
the soup in the big kettle over the fire.

THE GYPSY. (_rising_) This is beyond reason!

THE PRINCESS. All beautiful things are beyond reason, my friend.

THE GYPSY. You are a Gypsy?

THE PRINCESS. I am a Gypsy's sweetheart. Take me away with you.

THE GYPSY. How can we leave this palace?

THE PRINCESS. The way we came.

THE GYPSY. The wall--

THE PRINCESS. Is seventeen feet high. A guard of soldiers continually
marches around it. And there are spikes on the top. How did we get
over? That is our secret!

THE GYPSY. You have no regrets?


THE GYPSY. Your promise to the King?

THE PRINCESS. I am as mutable as wind.

THE GYPSY. Let us go.

THE PRINCESS. One moment! There is a girl here I am sorry for. Can we
not think of some way to help her before we go? She loves the King.

THE GYPSY. I have thought. She is the rightful Princess of Basque--
stolen from her cradle by Gypsies. Tomorrow an old woman from the tribe
will come with the proofs. The King will marry her, and they will be

THE PRINCESS. And I am the Gypsy child left in her place! But is it
really true?

THE GYPSY. What matters reality to us? _We_ are not real.

THE PRINCESS. Good-bye, then, to this place of solid fact that has
imprisoned us too long. In another moment we shall melt into the

THE GYPSY. Kiss me!


THE GYPSY. No. There is a fire in our kisses that would shatter and
destroy these comfortable walls. Under the stars, among the winds, we
shall quench the hunger and thirst of our love. And there let our dream
come true....

THE PRINCESS. Ah, there is a fire in our hearts that will shatter and
destroy all comfort, even our own. Not even there, under the stars,
among the winds, shall the hunger and thirst of love be quenched. Never
shall our dream come true....

THE GYPSY. It is enough that we go to be companions of the winds and
stars, wanderers with them....

_He leads her to the window_.

THE PRINCESS. Over the rim of the world!

_They ascend and vanish outside_.




This play was first produced in Croton-on-Hudson, N. Y., by the Mt.
Airy Players, in 1920, with the following cast:

Harold ...................... Eugene Boissevain
Isabel ...................... Doris Stevens
Mrs. Murphy .................. B. Marie Gage
Mrs. Falcington .............. Crystal Eastman

_A room in Washington Square South. By the light of a candle, a young
man in tousled hair and dressing gown is writing furiously at a little
table. A clock within strikes seven.

A door at the back opens, and a young woman looks in, sleepily. She
frowns. The young man looks up guiltily_.

SHE. What are you doing?

HE. (_innocently_) Writing.

SHE. So I see. (_She comes in, and sits down. It may be remarked that
a woman's morning appearance, in dishabille, is a severe test of both
looks and character; she passes that test triumphantly. She looks at
the young man, and asks_)--Poetry?

HE. (_hesitatingly_) No....

SHE. (_continues to look inquiry_).

HE. (_finally_) A letter....

SHE. (_inflexibly_)--To whom?

HE. (_defiantly_) To my wife!

SHE. Oh! That's all right. I thought perhaps you were writing to your

HE. (_bitterly_) My father! Why should I write to my father? Isn't
it enough that I have broken his heart and brought disgrace upon him in
his old age--

SHE. Disgrace? Nonsense! Anybody might be named as a co-respondent in a
divorce case.

HE. Not in Evanston, Illinois. Not when you are the local feature of a
notorious Chicago scandal. Not when your letters to the lady are
published in the newspapers.--Oh, those letters!

SHE. Were they such incriminating letters, Harold?

HAROLD. Incriminating? How can you ask that, Isabel? They were
perfectly innocent letters, such as any gentleman poet might write to
any lady poetess. How was I to know that a rather plain-featured woman
I sat next to at a Poetry Dinner in Chicago was conducting a dozen
love-affairs? How was I to know that my expressions of literary regard
would look like love-letters to her long-suffering husband? That's the
irony of it: I'm perfectly blameless. God knows I couldn't have been
anything else, with her. But I've always _been_ blameless--in all
the seven years of my marriage, I never even kissed another woman. And
then to have this happen! Scandal, disgrace, the talk of all Evanston!
Disowned by my father, repudiated by my wife, ostracized by my friends,
cast forth into outer darkness, and dropped naked and penniless into
Greenwich Village!

ISABEL. (_laughing_) Oh, not exactly naked, Harold!

HAROLD. One suit! And that--(_he throws off his dressing gown_)
evening clothes! I might as well be naked--I can't go anywhere in the
daytime. I tell you I'm not used to this. One week ago I had a house, a
motor car, a wife, a position in my father's law-office, a place in

ISABEL. That's just it--that's why I was afraid you were writing to
your father. He'd send you money, of course. But if you ask him for it,
I'll never speak to you again. And as for clothes, you know there's a
suit of clothes in there,--a perfectly good suit, too, and I think
you're an idiot not to put it on.

HAROLD. Yes. One of Jim's old suits.

ISABEL. Well, what if it is? It would fit you perfectly.

HAROLD. Oh, Isabel! Can't you _see_?

ISABEL. No, I can't see. If Jim is generous enough to give you a suit
of clothes--

HAROLD. Yes. That's just it. Jim's girl--Jim's clothes--! Well--
(_sullenly_)--I think Jim's generosity has gone far enough. I'll
be damned if I'll take his clothes.

ISABEL. You're perfectly disgusting. If you weren't a silly poet and
didn't know any better--Yes, Harold Falcington, for a nice boy as you
are in most ways, you have the most antiquated and offensive ideas
about women! _Jim_ knows better than to have ever considered me
his property....

HAROLD. (_taken aback by her fierceness_) Good heavens, Isabel, I
didn't mean _that_!

ISABEL. Yes, you did, Harold; but I'm glad you're sorry. It's a good
thing you were thrown out of Evanston, Illinois. It's a good thing you
came to Greenwich Village. And it's a good thing that I've a strong
maternal instinct. If you'll just get the idea out of your head that
you're a ruined man and a lost soul because you've been talked about
and have lost your job in your father's office, and if you'll just stop
thinking that poor dear innocent Greenwich Village is a sink of
iniquity and that I'm a wicked woman--

HAROLD. Isabel! I never said you were a wicked woman! I never thought
such a thing!

ISABEL. But you think you're a wicked man; and so it comes to the same
thing. Look! it's broad daylight. (_She goes to the window, and opens
the curtains_.) Put out that candle, and read me the letter you've
written to your wife.

_She comes back, blows out the candle herself, and sits down
comfortably opposite him_.

HAROLD. No, I can't.

ISABEL. Why not? You've read me all the others. Is this just like them?
(_Teasingly_)--"Dear Gertrude: I know you will not believe me when
I say that I have been the victim of a monstrous injustice, but
nevertheless it is true. It has all been a hideous mistake." That's the
preamble. Then a regular lawyer's brief, arguing the case--ten pages.
Then a wild, passionate appeal for her to forget and forgive. I know
how it goes. You've written one every night. This is the seventh.

HAROLD. This one is different.

ISABEL. Good. What does it say?

HAROLD. It says that I am in love with you.

ISABEL. Don't prevaricate, Harold! It says you are now hopelessly in
the clutches of a vampire--doesn't it?

HAROLD. (_desperately_) No!

ISABEL. (_warningly_) Harold! The truth!

HAROLD. (_weakening_) Well--

ISABEL. I knew it! That's what you would say. You've told her it's no
use to forgive you now.

HAROLD. Yes--I did say that--I don't want her to forgive me, now. I am
reconciled to my fate.

ISABEL. Ah--but I'm afraid it's too late, now!

HAROLD. What do you mean?

ISABEL. I mean that your other letters will have done their work. Your
wife by this time has been convinced of your innocence--she realizes
that she has acted rashly--she is ready to forgive you. And she is
probably at this moment on her way to New York to tell you so, and take
you back home!

HAROLD. (_frightened_) No!

ISABEL. Yes! If she is not already here and looking for you....

HAROLD. Impossible!

ISABEL. Those letters were very convincing, Harold!

HAROLD. (_shaking his head_) Not in the face of the universal belief of
all Evanston in my guilt.

ISABEL. Then she has forgiven you anyway.

HAROLD. (_sadly_) You do not know her.

ISABEL. Don't I? No, Harold, this is to be our last breakfast together.
You wouldn't have her walk in on us, would you?--And that reminds me.
We're out of coffee. You must go and get some while I dress. And go to
the little French bakery for some brioches.

HAROLD. In these clothes?

ISABEL. Or Jim's. Just as you like.

HAROLD. Very well. I shall go as I am. (_Gloomily_) After all, I don't
know why I should mind one more farcical touch to my situation. A
grown man that doesn't know how to earn his living--

ISABEL. I've suggested several ways.

HAROLD. Yes, acting! No. I'd rather starve.

ISABEL. There are other alternatives.

HAROLD. Yes. Looking over the scientific magazines and finding out
about new inventions, and writing little pieces about them and selling
that to other magazines!

ISABEL. Why not?

HAROLD. A pretty job for a poet! What do _I_ know about machinery?

ISABEL. All the poets I know pay their rent that way. And they none of
them know anything about machinery.

HAROLD. All right. I'm in a crazy world. Everything's topsy-turvy. Even
the streets have gone insane. They wind and twist until they cross
their own tracks. I _know_ I'll get lost looking for that French
bakery. (_He goes to the door_.) Greenwich Village! My God!

_He goes out. She, after a moment, goes into the back room. The
charwoman enters, and commences to clean up the place. Isabel comes
back, partly clothed and with the rest of her things on her arm, and
finishes her toilet in front of the mirror. A sort of conversation

THE CHARWOMAN. A grand day it's going to be.

ISABEL. (_after a pause_)--Do you think I'm a bad woman, Mrs. Murphy?

MRS. MURPHY. Come, now, it's not a fair question, and me workin' for
you. I've no call to be criticizin' the way you do behave. It's my
business to be cleanin' up the place, and if 'tis a nest of paganism,
sure 'tis not for my own soul to answer for it at the Judgment Day. And
a blessed thought it is, too, that they that follow after the lusts of
the flesh must go to hell, or else who knows what a poor soul like me
would do sometimes, what with seein' the carryin's-on that one does
see. But I'd not be breathin' a word against a nice young lady like

ISABEL. What do you think of Mr. Falcington?

MRS. MURPHY. Well, as my sister that's dead in Ireland used to say, and
we two girls together, "Sure," she said, "there's no accountin' for
tastes," she said. And you with a fine grand man the like of Mr. Jim,
to be takin' up with a lost sheep like this one. But I'd not be sayin'
a word against him, for it's a pretty boy he is, to be sure. Well,
there's a Last Day comin' for us all, and the sooner the better, the
way the young do be shiftin' and changin' as the fancy takes them. I
say nothin' at all, nothin' at all--but if you've a quarrel had with
Mr. Jim, why don't you make it up with him?

ISABEL. But Jim and I aren't married either, you know.

MRS. MURPHY. It's too soft you are, that's why. You take no for an
answer, as a girl shouldn't. Let you keep at him long enough, and he'll
give in. Sure the youth of this generation have no regard for their
proper rights. Never was a man yet that couldn't be come around, if he
was taken in his weakness. A silk dress or a wedding ring or shoes for
the baby, it's all the same--they have to be coaxed twice for every one
thing they do. It's the nature of the beast, so it is, God help us.
Well I remember how my sister that's dead in Ireland used to say, and
we girls together, "Sure," says she, "it's woman's place to ask," says
she, "and man's to refuse," says she, "and woman's to ask again," says
she. Widow that I am this ten year, I could tell you some things now--
but I'll not be sayin' a word.

ISABEL. Do I look all right?

MRS. MURPHY. It's pretty as a flower you look, Miss. And I'd not be
askin' questions, for it's none of my business at all, but who are you
fixin' yourself up for to-day, if you know yourself?

ISABEL. What difference does it make? I go into rehearsal next week,
and there's a manager that will want to make love to me, and he's fat,
and I'll get to hate and loathe the sight of male mankind--and this is
my last week to enjoy myself! (_She goes to the door at the back_.)
Besides, Jim may have another girl by this time, or Mr. Falcington's
wife may come.

_She goes into the inner room_.

MRS. MURPHY. His wife--God help us!

_She shakes her head, and starts to go out.

There is a knock. She opens the door, and admits a woman in a
travelling suit_.

THE WOMAN. Is Mr. Falcington here?

MRS. MURPHY. (_disingenuously_) There's a party of that name on
the east side of the Square if I'm not mistaken, ma'am, in the
Benedick, bachelor apartments like--'tis there you might inquire.

THE WOMAN. There's no Mr. Falcington here?

MRS. MURPHY. On another floor, maybe. 'Tis a lady lives here.

_The woman turns to go_.

ISABEL. (_within_) Who is asking for Mr. Falcington?

THE WOMAN. I am Mrs. Falcington,--his wife.

ISABEL. (_at the inner door_) Oh!

MRS. FALCINGTON. And you are Isabel Summers?


MRS. MURPHY. The Lord have mercy!

_She escapes_.

ISABEL. Sit down.

MRS. FALCINGTON. Thank you. I will. (_She does so_.) Harold is out?

ISABEL. Yes. (_A pause_) Getting brioches for breakfast. (_A pause_)
You look tired. Won't you have some coffee? It's ready.

MRS. FALCINGTON. Thank you. Yes.

_Both the women give an impression of timid courage_.

ISABEL. (_pouring the coffee_) He ought to be back soon. He talked
of getting lost in the crooked streets of the Village, and I'm afraid
that's what has happened to him.

MRS. FALCINGTON. Yes. Harold is all at sea in a strange place.

_She takes the coffee and sips it_.

ISABEL. Tell me--how did you know?

MRS. FALCINGTON. (_smiling_) Private detectives.

ISABEL. (_a little shocked_) Oh!

MRS. FALCINGTON. Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not going to make
any trouble.... But I did want to know what became of him.

ISABEL. Yes ... naturally.

MRS. FALCINGTON. And then--you see, I wanted to know what you were
like; and--and whether he was happy with you. I don't think detectives
are very intelligent. They couldn't get it into their heads that I
wanted the truth. They gave me a--a very lurid account of--of you. And
of course Harold's letters gave me no help. So I came down to see for

ISABEL. (_rising_) Mrs. Falcington: here is a letter that Harold
was writing this morning. It tells about me--and I fancy you won't find
it so essentially different from the detectives' account. Read it and

MRS. FALCINGTON. (_reading the letter_) He says he loves you.

ISABEL. In those words?

MRS. FALCINGTON. No--he says he is involved in a strange and sudden
infatuation. But it means the same thing.

ISABEL. No it doesn't. He isn't in love with me. I'll tell you
straight--he's in love with _you_.

MRS. FALCINGTON. How do you know?

ISABEL. From the letters he wrote you.

MRS. FALCINGTON. Oh! he showed them to you, did he? How like him!

ISABEL. But he _is_ in love with you. And he _isn't_ happy with me.


ISABEL. He hates this kind of life. He wants order, regularity,
stability, comfort, ease, the respect of the community----

MRS. FALCINGTON. He used to tell me all those things bored him to

ISABEL. (_pleading_) You _must_ take him back!

MRS. FALCINGTON. Don't you want him?

ISABEL. Well--(_she laughs in embarrassment_)--Not that bad!

MRS. FALCINGTON. His father will make him an allowance to live on.

ISABEL. I've told him I would never speak to him again if he took it.

MRS. FALCINGTON. You don't expect him to _work_, do you?

ISABEL. Yes--if he has anything to do with me.

MRS. FALCINGTON. Then if you can make him do that, by all means take
charge of his destinies!

ISABEL. But--but--that's not the point. He loves you. He wants to go
back. He didn't do any of those things he was accused of, you know.

MRS. FALCINGTON. Did he tell you that?


MRS. FALCINGTON. Well--he told a story. (_Isabel is shocked_.) Oh,
there's no doubt about it. (_Her tone leaves none_.)

ISABEL. But she was ugly!

MRS. FALCINGTON. Did he tell you that?

ISABEL. Yes! Wasn't she?

MRS. FALCINGTON. There _are_ handsome poetesses--a few--and this was
one of them. She is one of the most beautiful women in Chicago.

ISABEL. Then he lied....

MRS. FALCINGTON. Oh, yes--of course. He just can't help it. Any more
than he can help making love----

ISABEL. You mean this is not the first----

MRS. FALCINGTON. In the seven years of our marriage, he has made love
to every pretty woman he came across.

ISABEL. (_sharply_) Why did you stand for it?

MRS. FALCINGTON. Because I was a fool. And because he is a child.

ISABEL. (_almost pleadingly_) He _can_ write poetry, can't he?

MRS. FALCINGTON. Yes. Yes! Oh, yes!

ISABEL. Then--I suppose--it's all right. But I'm angry at myself, just
the same, for being taken in.

MRS. FALCINGTON. It's strange.... You feel humiliated at having been
made a fool of for seven days. I've been made a fool of for seven
years, and I've never realized that I had a right to feel ashamed.

ISABEL. That's the difference between Greenwich Village and Evanston,

MRS. FALCINGTON. Yes. But when I go back I shall lose the sense of it.
I'll think I'm an injured woman because he was unfaithful to me, or
because he brought scandal upon the family, or something like that. Now
I realize that it's none of those things. It's--it's just an offence
against--my human dignity. I've been treated like--like an inferior.
But why shouldn't I be treated like an inferior? I _am_ an inferior.
When I go back to Evanston, and take up grass-widowhood and the burden
of living down the family scandal, and sit and twiddle my thumbs in a
big house, and have my maiden aunt come to live with me----

ISABEL. But why should you do that? If that's what it means to go back
to Evanston, don't go! Stay here!

MRS. FALCINGTON. But--what could I do?

ISABEL. Do? Why--why--go on the stage!

MRS. FALCINGTON. (_rising_) Are you in earnest?

ISABEL. Look here. You've a good voice, and you're intelligent. That's
enough to start with. I don't know whether you can act or not--but
you'll find out. And if you can't act, you'll do something else. Your
people will stake you?--give you an allowance, I mean?

MRS. FALCINGTON. To go on the stage with? Never. But I've a small
income of my own. Only about a hundred a month. Would that do?

ISABEL. Do? Yes, that will do very well! And now it's my turn to ask
you--are _you_ in earnest? Because I am.

MRS. FALCINGTON. You are the first human being who even suggested to me
that I could do anything. I've wanted to do something, but I couldn't
even think of it as possible. It _wasn't_ possible in Evanston. And as
for _acting_, I kept that dream fast locked at the very bottom of my
heart, for fear if I brought it out it would be shattered by polite

ISABEL. You'll have to expose that dream to worse things than polite
laughter, my dear.

MRS. FALCINGTON. I can, now. It won't get hurt. I'm free now to take
care of my dream--to fight for it--to mike it come true. You have set
me free.--I'm going to go and get a room--_now_!

ISABEL. Let me go with you and help you find one!

MRS. FALCINGTON. And to-morrow--

ISABEL. To-morrow--

_Harold enters. He stops short in the doorway, and drops the brioches.
He looks at one woman, then at the other. Suddenly he goes between them
with arms outspread as though to keep the peace_.

HAROLD. No! no! I am not worthy of either of you! (_They stare at him,
bewildered. He goes on_)--Why should you struggle over me? Do not hate
each other! For my sake, be friends! Ah, God, that this tragic meeting
should have happened! And now I must decide between you.... (_He goes
to Mrs. Falcington and throws himself on his knees before her_.)
Forgive and forget! Come back with me to Evanston!

MRS. FALCINGTON (_over his head to Isabel_) The perfect egotist!

_The curtain falls, and then rises again for a moment. Harold is now
on his knees to Isabel_.

HAROLD. Marry me!

ISABEL. Harold! You have not been all this time getting brioches. I

_The curtain rises and falls several times, showing Harold on his
knees alternately to the two women, who look at each other above his
head, paying no attention to him_.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "King Arthur's Socks and Other Village 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.