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´╗┐Title: Sweet and Twenty - A Comedy in One Act
Author: Dell, Floyd
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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SWEET AND TWENTY

                   *       *       *       *       *

                  _Stewart Kidd Dramatic Anthologies_

                   Fifty Contemporary One-Act Plays

                               Edited by

                     FRANK SHAY and PIERRE LOVING

This volume contains FIFTY REPRESENTATIVE ONE-ACT PLAYS of the MODERN
THEATER, chosen from the dramatic works of contemporary writers all
over the world and is the second volume in the _Stewart Kidd Dramatic
Anthologies_, the first being European Theories of the Drama, by
Barrett H. Clark, which has been so enthusiastically received.

The editors have scrupulously sifted countless plays and have selected
the best available in English. One-half the plays have never before
been published in book form; thirty-one are no longer available in any
other edition.

The work satisfies a long-felt want for a handy collection of the
a complete repertory for a little theater, a volume for the study of
the modern drama, a representative collection of the world's best short
plays.


 CONTENTS

 AUSTRIA
   Schnitzler (Arthur)--Literature

 BELGIUM
   Maeterlinck (Maurice)--The Intruder

 BOLIVIA
   More (Federico)--Interlude

 FRANCE
   Ancey (George)--M. Lamblin
   Porto-Riche (Georges)--Francoise's Luck

 GERMANY
   Ettinger (Karl)--Altruism
   von Hofmannsthal (Hugo)--Madonna Dianora
   Wedekind (Frank)--The Tenor

 GREAT BRITAIN
   Bennett (Arnold)--A Good Woman
   Calderon (George)--The Little Stone House.
   Cannan (Gilbert)--Mary's Wedding
   Dowson (Ernest)--The Pierrot of the Minute.
   Ellis (Mrs. Havelock)--The Subjection of Kezia
   Hankin (St. John)--The Constant Lover

 INDIA
   Mukerji (Dhan Gopal)--The Judgment of Indra

 IRELAND
   Gregory (Lady)--The Workhouse Ward

 HOLLAND
   Speenhoff (J. H.)--Louise

 HUNGARY
   Biro (Lajos)--The Grandmother

 ITALY
   Giocosa (Giuseppe)--The Rights of the Soul

 RUSSIA
   Andreyev (Leonid)--Love of One's Neighbor
   Tchekoff (Anton)--The Boor

 SPAIN
   Benevente (Jacinto)--His Widow's Husband
   Quinteros (Serafina and Joaquin Alverez)--A Sunny Morning

 SWEDEN
   Strindberg (August)--The Creditor
   Wied (Gustave)--Autumn Fires

 UNITED STATES
   Beach (Lewis)--Brothers
   Cowan (Sada)--In the Morgue
   Crocker (Bosworth)--The Baby Carriage
   Cronyn (George W.)--A Death in Fever Flat
   Davies (Mary Carolyn)--The Slave with Two Faces
   Day (Frederick L.)--The Slump
   Flanner (Hildegard)--Mansions
   Glaspell (Susan)--Trifles
   Gerstenberg (Alice)--The Pot Boiler
   Helburn (Theresa)--Enter the Hero
   Hudson (Holland)--The Shepherd in the Distance
   Kemp (Harry)--Boccaccio's Untold Tale
   Langner (Lawrence)--Another Way Out
   MacMillan (Mary)--The Shadowed Star
   Millay (Edna St. Vincent)--Aro da Capo
   Moeller (Philip)--Helena's Husband
   O'Neill (Eugene)--Ile
   Stevens (Thomas Wood)--The Nursery Maid of Heaven
   Stevens (Wallace)--Three Travelers Watch a Sunrise
   Tompkins (Frank G.)--Sham
   Walker (Stuart)--The Medicine Show
   Wellman (Rita)--For All Time
   Wilde (Percival)--The Finger of God

 YIDDISH
   Ash (Sholom)--Night
   Pinski (David)--Forgotten Souls

                  _Large 8vo, 585 pages. Net, $5.00_


                _Send for Complete Dramatic Catalogue_

                         STEWART KIDD COMPANY
                 PUBLISHERS,      CINCINNATI, U. S. A.

                   *       *       *       *       *


Stewart Kidd Modern Plays

Edited by Frank Shay

SWEET AND TWENTY


                   *       *       *       *       *

                      _Stewart Kidd Modern Plays_

                        _Edited by_ FRANK SHAY


To meet the immensely increased demands of the play-reading public and
those interested in the modern drama, Stewart Kidd are issuing under
the general editorship of Frank Shay a series of plays from the pens
of the world's best contemporary writers. No effort is being spared
to secure the best work available, and the plays are issued in a form
that is at once attractive to readers and suited to the needs of the
performer and producer. _Buffalo Express_: "Each play is of merit. Each
is unlike the other. The group furnishes a striking example of the
realistic trend of the modern drama."

From time to time special announcements will be printed giving complete
lists of the plays.

SHAM, a Social Satire in One Act. _By Frank G. Tompkins._

Originally produced by Sam Hume, at the Arts and Crafts Theatre,
Detroit.

_San Francisco Bulletin_: "The lines are new and many of them are
decidedly clever."

_Providence Journal_: "An ingenious and merry little one-act play."


THE SHEPHERD IN THE DISTANCE, a Pantomime in One Act. _By Holland
Hudson._ Originally produced by the Washington Square Players.

_Oakland Tribune_: "A pleasing pantomime of the Ancient East."


MANSIONS, a Play in One Act. _By Hildegarde Flanner._ Originally
produced by the Indiana Little Theatre Society.

_Three Arts Magazine_: "This thoughtful and well-written play of
Characters and Ideals has become a favorite with Little Theatres and is
now available in print."


HEARTS TO MEND, a Fantasy in One Act. _By H. A. Overstreet._ Originally
produced by the Fireside Players, White Plains, N. Y.

_St. Louis Star_: "It is a light whimsy and well carried out."

_San Francisco Chronicle_: "No one is likely to hear or read it without
real and legitimate pleasure."


SIX WHO PASS WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL. _By Stuart Walker._

Originally produced by the Portmanteau Players at Christodora House,
New York City.

_Brooklyn Eagle_: "Literary without being pedantic, and dramatic
without being noisy."


OTHERS TO FOLLOW. _Bound in Art Paper._ _Each, net, .50_

                   *       *       *       *       *


SWEET AND TWENTY

A Comedy in One Act

by

FLOYD DELL

Author of Moon Calf


First produced by the Provincetown Players, New York City
        January 25, 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_



[Illustration]

Cincinnati
Stewart Kidd Company
Publishers

Copyright, 1921
Stewart & Kidd Company
All Rights Reserved
Copyright in England

SWEET AND TWENTY is fully protected by the copyright law, all
requirements of which have been complied with. No performance, either
professional or amateur, may be given without the written permission
of the author or his representative, Stewart Kidd Company, Cincinnati,
Ohio.



                           SWEET AND TWENTY


SCENE--_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...._

(_This scene can be effectively produced on a small stage by a
back-drop painted a blue-green color, 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 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 down 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 away.

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 the Metropolitan Museum of
Horrors, I understand. They're valuable historically--early colonial
governors and all that sort of stuff. But there is someone 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--I--!

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, in
which Maria and Tubby drift into the limbo of forgotten things. Alone
together beneath the blossoms, a spell seems to have fallen upon them.
She tries to think of something to say--and at last succeeds._)

SHE

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

HE

No; why?

SHE

An 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 someone else, and they lived 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--

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
baronet or something in England.

HE (_earnestly_)

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 a cherry 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.

HE (_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 wicked--

SHE (_absently_)

Is it?

HE

But, oh heaven! kiss me again! (_She does._)

SHE

Darling!

HE

Do you suppose anyone is likely to come this way?

SHE

No.

HE (_speculatively_)

Your husband is probably still in the portrait gallery....

SHE

My husband! (_Drawing away_) What do you mean? (_Thoroughly awake now_)
You didn't think--? (_She jumps up and laughs convulsively_) He 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 anybody make love to me if I were!

HE

Now don't put on airs. You did something quite as improper. You kissed
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 wild 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 Socialism in?

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! Grr!

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 men!

HE

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

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 stupid!

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 standing 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, she said!

HE

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

SHE (_sweetly_)

Except good-bye.

HE (_firmly_)

Good-bye, then. (_He holds out his hand._)

SHE

(_taking it_) Good-bye!

HE

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

SHE

(_drawing 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. Otherwise--!

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._)

THE YOUNG MAN

No! Stay!

THE AGENT

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

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 make
my 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 YOUNG WOMAN

What!

THE AGENT

They have arranged it all.

THE YOUNG MAN

_Who_ has 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 to-night,
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 ten thousand 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 our friend. You will 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 to-day,
and they end by being as sick of the sight of each other as you two
will be twenty 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, honor, 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. Everyone 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 camp-fire 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.

GEORGE

But--

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--

GEORGE

Ssh!

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 enters._)

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 harmless. Come now!

THE AGENT (_pleasantly_)

Perfectly harmless! Yes, perfectly harmless! (_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, and--

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!


[CURTAIN]



                           MORE SHORT PLAYS

                           BY MARY MACMILLAN


Plays that act well may read well. Miss MacMillan's Plays are good
reading. Nor is literary excellence a detriment to dramatic performance.

This volume contains eight Plays:

_His Second Girl._ One-act comedy, just before the Civil War. Interior,
45 minutes. Three women, three men.

_At the Church Door._ Fantastic farce, one act, 20 to 30 minutes.
Interior. Present. Two women, two men.

_Honey._ Four short acts. Present, in the southern mountains. Same
interior cabin scene throughout. Three women, one man, two girls.

_The Dress Rehearsal of Hamlet._ One-act costume farce. Present.
Interior. Forty-five minutes. Ten women taking men's parts.

_The Pioneers._ Five very short acts. 1791 in Middle-West. Interior.
Four men, five women, five children, five Indians.

_In Mendelesia, Part I._ Costume play, Middle Ages. Interior. Thirty
minutes or more. Four women, one man-servant.

_In Mendelesia, Part II._ Modern realism of same plot. One act.
Present. Interior. Thirty minutes. Four women, one maid-servant.

_The Dryad._ Fantasy in free verse, one act. Thirty minutes. Outdoors.
Two women, one man. Present.

These plays, as well as SHORT PLAYS, have been presented by clubs and
schools in Boston, New York, Buffalo, Detroit, Cleveland, New Orleans,
San Francisco, etc., and by the Portmanteau Theatre, the Chicago Art
Institute Theatre, the Denver Little Art Theatre, at Carmel-by-the-Sea
in California, etc.

_Handsomely bound and uniform with S. & K. Dramatic Series. 12mo.
Cloth. Net, $2.50; 3/4 Turkey Morocco, Net, $8.50._


                        STEWART & KIDD COMPANY

                 Publishers      Cincinnati, U. S. A.



                       Stewart Kidd Modern Plays

                         Edited by Frank Shay


To meet the immensely increased demands of the play-reading public
and those interested in the modern drama, Stewart & Kidd Company are
issuing under the general editorship of Frank Shay a series of plays
from the pens of the world's best contemporary writers. No effort is
being spared to secure the best work available, and the plays are
issued in a form that is at once attractive to readers and suited to
the needs of the performer and producer.

From time to time special announcements will be printed giving complete
lists of the Plays. Those announced thus far are:

SHAM, a Social Satire in One Act.

By Frank G. Tompkins.

Originally produced by Sam Hume, at the Arts and Crafts Theatre,
Detroit.


THE SHEPHERD IN THE DISTANCE,

a Pantomime in One Act. By Holland Hudson.

Originally produced by the Washington Square Players.


MANSIONS, a Play in One Act.

By Hildegarde Flanner.

Originally produced by the Indiana Little Theatre Society.


HEARTS TO MEND, a Fantasy in One Act.

By H. A. Overstreet.

Originally produced by the Fireside Players, White Plains, N. Y.

                          _Others to follow._

               _Bound in Art Paper. Each net 50 cents._



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber's note:

Obvious punctuation errors and misprints have been corrected.





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