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Title: Beyond the Horizon
Author: O'Neill, Eugene
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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                     Dramatists Play Service, Inc.

Established by members of the Dramatists’ Guild of the Authors’ League
 of America for the handling of the non-professional acting rights of
 members’ plays and the encouragement of the non-professional theatre.

                           BARRETT H. CLARK
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    _The_ DRAMATISTS PLAY SERVICE, INC., leases plays, including Broadway
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                            CLIFFORD ODETS
                            EDWARD CHILDS CARPENTER
                            EUGENE O’NEILL
                            PHILIP BARRY
                            ELMER RICE
                            ROBERT E. SHERWOOD
                            WALTER PRICHARD EATON
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                            AUSTIN STRONG

                   6 EAST 39TH STREET, NEW YORK CITY

                              BEYOND THE

                            EUGENE O’NEILL

                             PUBLISHED FOR

                      THE DRAMATISTS PLAY SERVICE
                         RANDOM HOUSE NEW YORK

                 _Copyright, 1921, by Eugene O’Neill_

CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that _Beyond the
Horizon_, being fully protected under the copyright laws of the United
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and all other countries of the copyright union, is subject to a royalty.
All rights, including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation,
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Broadway, New York, N. Y.

The non-professional acting rights of _Beyond the Horizon_ are
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_Manufactured in the United States of America_


    JAMES MAYO, _a farmer_
    KATE MAYO, _his wife_
    CAPTAIN DICK SCOTT, _of the bark_ Sunda, _her brother_
    ROBERT MAYO } _sons of_ JAMES MAYO
    MRS. ATKINS, _her widowed mother_
    BEN, _a farm hand_

                                 ACT I

            SCENE  I: The Road. Sunset of a day in Spring.
            SCENE II: The Farm House. The same night.

                                ACT II

                         (_Three years later_)

            SCENE  I: The Farm House. Noon of a Summer day.
            SCENE II: The top of a hill on the farm overlooking the sea.
                          The following day.

                                ACT III

                         (_Five years later_)

            SCENE  I: The Farm House. Dawn of a day in late Fall.
                     SCENE II: The Road. Sunrise.




_A section of country highway. The road runs diagonally from the left,
forward, to the right, rear, and can be seen in the distance winding
toward the horizon like a pale ribbon between the low, rolling hills
with their freshly plowed fields clearly divided from each other,
checkerboard fashion, by the lines of stone walls and rough snake

_The forward triangle cut off by the road is a section of a field from
the dark earth of which myriad bright-green blades of fall-sown rye are
sprouting. A straggling line of piled rocks, too low to be called a
wall, separates this field from the road._

_To the rear of the road is a ditch with a sloping, grassy bank on the
far side. From the center of this an old, gnarled apple tree, just
budding into leaf, strains its twisted branches heavenwards, black
against the pallor of distance. A snake-fence sidles from left to right
along the top of the bank, passing beneath the apple tree._

_The hushed twilight of a day in May is just beginning. The horizon
hills are still rimmed by a faint line of flame, and the sky above them
glows with the crimson flush of the sunset. This fades gradually as the
action of the scene progresses._

_At the rise of the curtain_, ROBERT MAYO _is discovered sitting on the
fence. He is a tall, slender young man of twenty-three. There is a touch
of the poet about him expressed in his high forehead and wide, dark
eyes. His features are delicate and refined, leaning to weakness in the
mouth and chin. He is dressed in gray corduroy trousers pushed into high
laced boots, and a blue flannel shirt with a bright colored tie. He is
reading a book by the fading sunset light. He shuts this, keeping a
finger in to mark the place, and turns his head toward the horizon,
gazing out over the fields and hills. His lips move as if he were
reciting something to himself._

_His brother_ ANDREW _comes along the road from the right, returning
from his work in the fields. He is twenty-seven years old, an opposite
type to_ ROBERT--_husky, sun-bronzed, handsome in a large-featured,
manly fashion--a son of the soil, intelligent in a shrewd way, but with
nothing of the intellectual about him. He wears overalls, leather boots,
a gray flannel shirt open at the neck, and a soft, mud-stained hat
pushed back on his head. He stops to talk to_ ROBERT, _leaning on the
hoe he carries_.

ANDREW. (_seeing_ ROBERT _has not noticed his presence--in a loud
shout_) Hey there! (ROBERT _turns with a start. Seeing who it is, he
smiles_) Gosh, you do take the prize for daydreaming! And I see you’ve
toted one of the old books along with you. (_He crosses the ditch and
sits on the fence near his brother_) What is it this time--poetry, I’ll
bet. (_He reaches for the book_) Let me see.

ROBERT. (_handing it to him rather reluctantly_) Look out you don’t get
it full of dirt.

ANDREW. (_glancing at his hands_) That isn’t dirt--it’s good clean
earth. (_He turns over the pages. His eyes read something and he gives
an exclamation of disgust_) Hump! (_With a provoking grin at his brother
he reads aloud in a doleful, sing-song voice_) “I have loved wind and
light and the bright sea. But holy and most sacred night, not as I love
and have loved thee.” (_He hands the book back_) Here! Take it and bury
it. I suppose it’s that year in college gave you a liking for that kind
of stuff. I’m darn glad I stopped at High School, or maybe I’d been
crazy too. (_He grins and slaps_ ROBERT _on the back affectionately_)
Imagine me reading poetry and plowing at the same time! The team’d run
away, I’ll bet.

ROBERT. (_laughing_) Or picture me plowing.

ANDREW. You should have gone back to college last fall, like I know you
wanted to. You’re fitted for that sort of thing--just as I ain’t.

ROBERT. You know why I didn’t go back, Andy. Pa didn’t like the idea,
even if he didn’t say so; and I know he wanted the money to use
improving the farm. And besides, I’m not keen on being a student, just
because you see me reading books all the time. What I want to do now is
keep on moving so that I won’t take root in any one place.

ANDREW. Well, the trip you’re leaving on tomorrow will keep you moving
all right. (_At this mention of the trip they both fall silent. There is
a pause. Finally_ ANDREW _goes on, awkwardly, attempting to speak
casually_) Uncle says you’ll be gone three years.

ROBERT. About that, he figures.

ANDREW. (_moodily_) That’s a long time.

ROBERT. Not so long when you come to consider it. You know the _Sunda_
sails around the Horn for Yokohama first, and that’s a long voyage on a
sailing ship; and if we go to any of the other places Uncle Dick
mentions--India, or Australia, or South Africa, or South
America--they’ll be long voyages, too.

ANDREW. You can have all those foreign parts for all of me. (_After a
pause_) Ma’s going to miss you a lot, Rob.

ROBERT. Yes--and I’ll miss her.

ANDREW. And Pa ain’t feeling none too happy to have you go--though he’s
been trying not to show it.

ROBERT. I can see how he feels.

ANDREW. And you can bet that I’m not giving any cheers about it. (_He
puts one hand on the fence near_ ROBERT).

ROBERT. (_putting one hand on top of_ ANDREW’S _with a gesture almost of
shyness_) I know that, too, Andy.

ANDREW. I’ll miss you as much as anybody, I guess. You see, you and I
ain’t like most brothers--always fighting and separated a lot of the
time, while we’ve always been together--just the two of us. It’s
different with us. That’s why it hits so hard, I guess.

ROBERT. (_with feeling_) It’s just as hard for me, Andy--believe that! I
hate to leave you and the old folks--but--I feel I’ve got to. There’s
something calling me---- (_He points to the horizon_) Oh, I can’t just
explain it to you, Andy.

ANDREW. No need to, Rob. (_Angry at himself_) Hell! You want to
go--that’s all there is to it; and I wouldn’t have you miss this chance
for the world.

ROBERT. It’s fine of you to feel that way, Andy.

ANDREW. Huh! I’d be a nice son-of-a-gun if I didn’t, wouldn’t I? When I
know how you need this sea trip to make a new man of you--in the body,
I mean--and give you your full health back.

ROBERT. (_a trifle impatiently_) All of you seem to keep harping on my
health. You were so used to seeing me lying around the house in the old
days that you never will get over the notion that I’m a chronic invalid.
You don’t realize how I’ve bucked up in the past few years. If I had no
other excuse for going on Uncle Dick’s ship but just my health, I’d stay
right here and start in plowing.

ANDREW. Can’t be done. Farming ain’t your nature. There’s all the
difference shown in just the way us two feel about the farm. You--well,
you like the home part of it, I expect; but as a place to work and grow
things, you hate it. Ain’t that right?

ROBERT. Yes, I suppose it is. For you it’s different. You’re a Mayo
through and through. You’re wedded to the soil. You’re as much a product
of it as an ear of corn is, or a tree. Father is the same. This farm is
his life-work, and he’s happy in knowing that another Mayo, inspired by
the same love, will take up the work where he leaves off. I can
understand your attitude, and Pa’s; and I think it’s wonderful and
sincere. But I--well, I’m not made that way.

ANDREW. No, you ain’t; but when it comes to understanding, I guess I
realize that you’ve got your own angle of looking at things.

ROBERT. (_musingly_) I wonder if you do, really.

ANDREW. (_confidently_) Sure I do. You’ve seen a bit of the world,
enough to make the farm seem small, and you’ve got the itch to see it

ROBERT. It’s more than that, Andy.

ANDREW. Oh, of course. I know you’re going to learn navigation, and all
about a ship, so’s you can be an officer. That’s natural, too. There’s
fair pay in it, I expect, when you consider that you’ve always got a
home and grub thrown in; and if you’re set on traveling, you can go
anywhere you’re a mind to without paying fare.

ROBERT. (_with a smile that is half sad_) It’s more than that, Andy.

ANDREW. Sure it is. There’s always a chance of a good thing coming your
way in some of those foreign ports or other. I’ve heard there are great
opportunities for a young fellow with his eyes open in some of those new
countries that are just being opened up. (_Jovially_) I’ll bet that’s
what you’ve been turning over in your mind under all your quietness!
(_He slaps his brother on the back with a laugh_) Well, if you get to be
a millionaire all of a sudden, call ’round once in a while and I’ll pass
the plate to you. We could use a lot of money right here on the farm
without hurting it any.

ROBERT. (_forced to laugh_) I’ve never considered that practical side of
it for a minute, Andy.

ANDREW. Well, you ought to.

ROBERT. No, I oughtn’t. (_Pointing to the horizon--dreamily_) Supposing
I was to tell you that it’s just Beauty that’s calling me, the beauty of
the far off and unknown, the mystery and spell of the East which lures
me in the books I’ve read, the need of the freedom of great wide spaces,
the joy of wandering on and on--in quest of the secret which is hidden
over there, beyond the horizon? Suppose I told you that was the one and
only reason for my going?

ANDREW. I should say you were nutty.

ROBERT. (_frowning_) Don’t, Andy. I’m serious.

ANDREW. Then you might as well stay here, because we’ve got all you’re
looking for right on this farm. There’s wide space enough, Lord knows;
and you can have all the sea you want by walking a mile down to the
beach; and there’s plenty of horizon to look at, and beauty enough for
anyone, except in the winter. (_He grins_) As for the mystery and spell,
I haven’t met ’em yet, but they’re probably lying around somewheres.
I’ll have you understand this is a first class farm with all the
fixings. (_He laughs_)

ROBERT. (_joining in the laughter in spite of himself_) It’s no use
talking to you, you chump!

ANDREW. You’d better not say anything to Uncle Dick about spells and
things when you’re on the ship. He’ll likely chuck you overboard for a
Jonah. (_He jumps down from fence_) I’d better run along. I’ve got to
wash up some as long as Ruth’s Ma is coming over for supper.

ROBERT. (_pointedly--almost bitterly_) And Ruth.

ANDREW. (_confused--looking everywhere except at_ ROBERT--_trying to
appear unconcerned_) Yes, Ruth’ll be staying too. Well, I better hustle,
I guess, and---- (_He steps over the ditch to the road while he is

ROBERT. (_who appears to be fighting some strong inward
emotion--impulsively_) Wait a minute, Andy! (_He jumps down from the
fence_) There is something I want to---- (_He stops abruptly, biting his
lips, his face coloring_).

ANDREW. (_facing him; half-defiantly_) Yes?

ROBERT. (_confusedly_) No---- never mind---- it doesn’t matter, it was

ANDREW. (_after a pause, during which he stares fixedly at_ ROBERT’S
_averted face_) Maybe I can guess---- what you were going to say---- but
I guess you’re right not to talk about it. (_He pulls_ ROBERT’S _hand
from his side and grips it tensely; the two brothers stand looking into
each other’s eyes for a minute_) We can’t help those things, Rob. (_He
turns away, suddenly releasing_ ROBERT’S _hand_) You’ll be coming along
shortly, won’t you?

ROBERT. (_dully_) Yes.

ANDREW. See you later, then. (_He walks of down the road to the left._
ROBERT _stares after him for a moment; then climbs to the fence rail
again, and looks out over the hills, an expression of deep grief on his
face. After a moment or so_, RUTH _enters hurriedly from the left. She
is a healthy, blonde, out-of-door girl of twenty, with a graceful,
slender figure. Her face, though inclined to roundness, is undeniably
pretty, its large eyes of a deep blue set off strikingly by the
sun-bronzed complexion. Her small, regular features are marked by a
certain strength--an underlying, stubborn fixity of purpose hidden in
the frankly-appealing charm of her fresh youthfulness. She wears a
simple white dress but no hat_).

RUTH. (_seeing him_) Hello, Rob!

ROBERT. (_startled_) Hello, Ruth!

RUTH. (_jumps the ditch and perches on the fence beside him_) I was
looking for you.

ROBERT. (_pointedly_) Andy just left here.

RUTH. I know. I met him on the road a second ago. He told me you were
here. (_Tenderly playful_) I wasn’t looking for Andy, Smarty, if that’s
what you mean. I was looking for _you_.

ROBERT. Because I’m going away tomorrow?

RUTH. Because your mother was anxious to have you come home and asked me
to look for you. I just wheeled Ma over to your house.

ROBERT. (_perfunctorily_) How is your mother?

RUTH. (_a shadow coming over her face_) She’s about the same. She never
seems to get any better or any worse. Oh, Rob, I do wish she’d try to
make the best of things that can’t be helped.

ROBERT. Has she been nagging at you again?

RUTH. (_nods her head, and then breaks forth rebelliously_) She never
stops nagging. No matter what I do for her she finds fault. If only Pa
was still living---- (_She stops as if ashamed of her outburst_) I
suppose I shouldn’t complain this way. (_She sighs_) Poor Ma, Lord knows
it’s hard enough for her. I suppose it’s natural to be cross when you’re
not able ever to walk a step. Oh, I’d like to be going away some
place--like you!

ROBERT. It’s hard to stay--and equally hard to go, sometimes.

RUTH. There! If I’m not the stupid body! I swore I wasn’t going to speak
about your trip--until after you’d gone; and there I go, first thing!

ROBERT. Why didn’t you want to speak of it?

RUTH. Because I didn’t want to spoil this last night you’re here. Oh,
Rob, I’m going to--we’re all going to miss you so awfully. Your mother
is going around looking as if she’d burst out crying any minute. You
ought to know how I feel. Andy and you and I--why it seems as if we’d
always been together.

ROBERT. (_with a wry attempt at a smile_) You and Andy will still have
each other. It’ll be harder for me without anyone.

RUTH. But you’ll have new sights and new people to take your mind off;
while we’ll be here with the old, familiar place to remind us every
minute of the day. It’s a shame you’re going--just at this time, in
spring, when everything is getting so nice. (_With a sigh_) I oughtn’t
to talk that way when I know going’s the best thing for you. You’re
bound to find all sorts of opportunities to get on, your father says.

ROBERT. (_heatedly_) I don’t give a damn about that! I wouldn’t take a
voyage across the road for the best opportunity in the world of the kind
Pa thinks of. (_He smiles at his own irritation_) Excuse me, Ruth, for
getting worked up over it; but Andy gave me an overdose of the practical

RUTH. (_slowly, puzzled_) Well, then, if it isn’t---- (_With sudden
intensity_) Oh, Rob, why _do_ you want to go?

ROBERT. (_turning to her quickly, in surprise--slowly_) Why do you ask
that, Ruth?

RUTH. (_dropping her eyes before his searching glance_) Because----
(_Lamely_) It seems such a shame.

ROBERT. (_insistently_) Why?

RUTH. Oh, because--everything.

ROBERT. I could hardly back out now, even if I wanted to. And I’ll be
forgotten before you know it.

RUTH. (_indignantly_) You won’t! I’ll never forget---- (_She stops and
turns away to hide her confusion_).

ROBERT. (_softly_) Will you promise me that?

RUTH. (_evasively_) Of course. It’s mean of you to think that any of us
would forget so easily.

ROBERT. (_disappointedly_) Oh!

RUTH. (_with an attempt at lightness_) But you haven’t told me your
reason for leaving yet?

ROBERT. (_moodily_) I doubt if you’ll understand. It’s difficult to
explain, even to myself. Either you feel it, or you don’t. I can
remember being conscious of it first when I was only a kid--you haven’t
forgotten what a sickly specimen I was then, in those days, have you?

RUTH. (_with a shudder_) Let’s not think about them.

ROBERT. You’ll have to, to understand. Well, in those days, when Ma was
fixing meals, she used to get me out of the way by pushing my chair to
the west window and telling me to look out and be quiet. That wasn’t
hard. I guess I was always quiet.

RUTH. (_compassionately_) Yes, you always were--and you suffering so
much, too!

ROBERT. (_musingly_) So I used to stare out over the fields to the
hills, out there--(_He points to the horizon_) and somehow after a time
I’d forget any pain I was in, and start dreaming. I knew the sea was
over beyond those hills,--the folks had told me--and I used to wonder
what the sea was like, and try to form a picture of it in my mind.
(_With a smile_) There was all the mystery in the world to me then about
that--far-off sea--and there still is! It called to me then just as it
does now. (_After a slight pause_) And other times my eyes would follow
this road, winding off into the distance, toward the hills, as if it,
too, was searching for the sea. And I’d promise myself that when I grew
up and was strong, I’d follow that road, and it and I would find the
sea together. (_With a smile_) You see, my making this trip is only
keeping that promise of long ago.

RUTH. (_charmed by his low, musical voice telling the dreams of his
childhood_) Yes, I see.

ROBERT. Those were the only happy moments of my life then, dreaming
there at the window. I liked to be all alone--those times. I got to know
all the different kinds of sunsets by heart. And all those sunsets took
place over there--(_He points_) beyond the horizon. So gradually I came
to believe that all the wonders of the world happened on the other side
of those hills. There was the home of the good fairies who performed
beautiful miracles. I believed in fairies then. (_With a smile_) Perhaps
I still do believe in them. Anyway, in those days they were real enough,
and sometimes I could actually hear them calling to me to come out and
play with them, dance with them down the road in the dusk in a game of
hide-and-seek to find out where the sun was hiding himself. They sang
their little songs to me, songs that told of all the wonderful things
they had in their home on the other side of the hills; and they promised
to show me all of them, if I’d only come, come! But I couldn’t come
then, and I used to cry sometimes and Ma would think I was in pain. (_He
breaks off suddenly with a laugh_) That’s why I’m going now, I suppose.
For I can still hear them calling. But the horizon is as far away and as
luring as ever. (_He turns to her--softly_) Do you understand now, Ruth?

RUTH. (_spellbound, in a whisper_) Yes.

ROBERT. You feel it then?

RUTH. Yes, yes, I do! (_Unconsciously she snuggles close against his
side. His arm steals about her as if he were not aware of the action_)
Oh, Rob, how could I help feeling it? You tell things so beautifully!

ROBERT. (_suddenly realizing that his arm is around her, and that her
head is resting on his shoulder, gently takes his arm away._ RUTH,
_brought back to herself, is overcome with confusion_) So now you know
why I’m going. It’s for that reason--that and one other.

RUTH. You’ve another? Then you must tell me that, too.

ROBERT. (_looking at her searchingly. She drops her eyes before his
gaze_) I wonder if I ought to! You’ll promise not to be angry--whatever
it is?

RUTH. (_softly, her face still averted_) Yes, I promise.

ROBERT. (_simply_) I love you. That’s the other reason.

RUTH. (_hiding her face in her hands_) Oh, Rob!

ROBERT. I wasn’t going to tell you, but I feel I have to. It can’t
matter now that I’m going so far away, and for so long--perhaps forever.
I’ve loved you all these years, but the realization never came ’til I
agreed to go away with Uncle Dick. Then I thought of leaving you, and
the pain of that thought revealed to me in a flash--that I loved you,
had loved you as long as I could remember. (_He gently pulls one of_
RUTH’S _hands away from her face_) You mustn’t mind my telling you this,
Ruth. I realize how impossible it all is--and I understand; for the
revelation of my own love seemed to open my eyes to the love of others.
I saw Andy’s love for you--and I knew that you must love him.

RUTH. (_breaking out storming_) I don’t! I don’t love Andy! I don’t!
(ROBERT _stares at her in stupid astonishment_. RUTH _weeps
hysterically_) Whatever--put such a fool notion into--into your head?
(_She suddenly throws her arms about his neck and hides her head on his
shoulder_) Oh, Rob! Don’t go away! Please! You mustn’t, now! You can’t!
I won’t let you! It’d break my--my heart!

ROBERT. (_The expression of stupid bewilderment giving way to one of
overwhelming joy. He presses her close to him--slowly and tenderly_) Do
you mean that--that you love me?

RUTH. (_sobbing_) Yes, yes--of course I do--what d’you s’pose? (_She
lifts up her head and looks into his eyes with a tremulous smile_) You
stupid thing! (_He kisses her_) I’ve loved you right along.

ROBERT. (_mystified_) But you and Andy were always together!

RUTH. Because you never seemed to want to go any place with me. You were
always reading an old book, and not paying any attention to me. I was
too proud to let you see I cared because I thought the year you had away
to college had made you stuck-up, and you thought yourself too educated
to waste any time on me.

ROBERT. (_kissing her_) And I was thinking---- (_With a laugh_) What
fools we’ve both been!

RUTH. (_overcome by a sudden fear_) You won’t go away on the trip, will
you, Rob? You’ll tell them you can’t go on account of me, won’t you? You
can’t go now! You can’t!

ROBERT. (_bewildered_) Perhaps--you can come too.

RUTH. Oh, Rob, don’t be so foolish. You know I can’t. Who’d take care of
ma? Don’t you see I couldn’t go--on her account? (_She clings to him
imploringly_) Please don’t go--not now. Tell them you’ve decided not to.
They won’t mind. I know your mother and father’ll be glad. They’ll all
be. They don’t want you to go so far away from them. Please, Rob! We’ll
be so happy here together where it’s natural and we know things. Please
tell me you won’t go!

ROBERT. (_face to face with a definite, final decision, betrays the
conflict going on within him_) But--Ruth--I--Uncle Dick----

RUTH. He won’t mind when he knows it’s for your happiness to stay. How
could he? (_As_ ROBERT _remains silent she bursts into sobs again_) Oh,
Rob! And you said--you loved me!

ROBERT. (_conquered by this appeal--an irrevocable decision in his
voice_) I won’t go, Ruth. I promise you. There! Don’t cry! (_He presses
her to him, stroking her hair tenderly. After a pause he speaks with
happy hopefulness_) Perhaps after all Andy was right--righter than he
knew--when he said I could find all the things I was seeking for here,
at home on the farm. I think love must have been the secret--the secret
that called to me from over the world’s rim--the secret beyond every
horizon; and when I did not come, it came to me. (_He clasps_ RUTH _to
him fiercely_) Oh, Ruth, our love is sweeter than any distant dream!
(_He kisses her passionately and steps to the ground, lifting_ RUTH _in
his arms and carrying her to the road where he puts her down_).

RUTH. (_with a happy laugh_) My, but you’re strong!

ROBERT. Come! We’ll go and tell them at once.

RUTH. (_dismayed_) Oh, no, don’t, Rob, not ’til after I’ve gone. There’d
be bound to be such a scene with them all together.

ROBERT. (_kissing her--gayly_) As you like--Little Miss Common Sense!

RUTH. Let’s go, then. (_She takes his hand, and they start to go off
left._ ROBERT _suddenly stops and turns as though for a last look at the
hills and the dying sunset flush_).

ROBERT. (_looking upward and pointing_) See! The first star. (_He bends
down and kisses her tenderly_) _Our_ star!

RUTH. (_in a soft murmur_) Yes. Our very own star. (_They stand for a
moment looking up at it, their arms around each other. Then_ RUTH _takes
his hand again and starts to lead him away_) Come, Rob, let’s go. (_His
eyes are fixed again on the horizon as he half turns to follow her._
RUTH _urges_) We’ll be late for supper, Rob.

ROBERT. (_shakes his head impatiently, as though he were throwing off
some disturbing thought--with a laugh_) All right. We’ll run then. Come
on! (_They run of laughing as_

(_The Curtain Falls_)



_The sitting room of the Mayo farm house about nine o’clock the same
night. On the left, two windows looking out on the fields. Against the
wall between the windows, an old-fashioned walnut desk. In the left
corner, rear, a sideboard with a mirror. In the rear wall to the right
of the sideboard, a window looking out on the road. Neat to the window a
door leading out into the yard. Farther right, a black horse-hair sofa,
and another door opening on a bedroom. In the corner, a straight-backed
chair. In the right wall, near the middle, an open doorway leading to
the kitchen. Farther forward a double-heater stove with coal scuttle,
etc. In the center of the newly carpeted floor, an oak dining-room table
with a red cover. In the center of the table, a large oil reading lamp.
Four chairs, three rockers with crocheted tidies on their backs, and one
straight-backed, are placed about the table. The walls are papered a
dark red with a scrolly-figured pattern._

_Everything in the room is clean, well-kept, and in its exact place, yet
there is no suggestion of primness about the whole. Rather the
atmosphere is one of the orderly comfort of a simple, hard-earned
prosperity, enjoyed and maintained by the family as a unit._

JAMES MAYO, _his wife, her brother_, CAPTAIN DICK SCOTT, _and_ ANDREW
_are discovered_. MAYO _is his son_ ANDREW _over again in body and
face--an_ ANDREW _sixty-five years old with a short, square, white
beard_. MRS. MAYO _is a slight, round-faced, rather prim-looking woman
of fifty-five who had once been a school teacher. The labors of a
farmer’s wife have bent but not broken her, and she retains a certain
refinement of movement and expression foreign to the_ MAYO _part of the
family. Whatever of resemblance_ ROBERT _has to his parents may be
traced to her. Her brother, the_ CAPTAIN, _is short and stocky, with a
weather-beaten, jovial face and a white mustache--a typical old salt,
loud of voice and given to gesture. He is fifty-eight years old._

JAMES MAYO _sits in front of the table. He wears spectacles, and a farm
journal which he has been reading lies in his lap._ THE CAPTAIN _leans
forward from a chair in the rear, his hands on the table in front of
him_. ANDREW _is tilted back on the straight-backed chair to the left,
his chin sank forward on his chest, staring at the carpet, preoccupied
and frowning_.

_As the Curtain rises the_ CAPTAIN _is just finishing the relation of
some sea episode. The others are pretending an interest which is belied
by the absent-minded expressions on their faces._

THE CAPTAIN. (_chuckling_) And that mission woman, she hails me on the
dock as I was acomin’ ashore, and she says--with her silly face all
screwed up serious as judgment--“Captain,” she says, “would you be so
kind as to tell me where the sea-gulls sleeps at nights?” Blow me if
them warn’t her exact words! (_He slaps the table with the palm of his
hands and laughs loudly. The others force smiles_) Ain’t that just like
a fool woman’s question? And I looks at her serious as I could, “Ma’m,”
says I, “I couldn’t rightly answer that question. I ain’t never seed a
sea-gull in his bunk yet. The next time I hears one snorin’,” I says,
“I’ll make a note of where he’s turned in, and write you a letter ’bout
it.” And then she calls me a fool real spiteful and tacks away from me
quick. (_He laughs again uproariously_) So I got rid of her that way.
(_The others smile but immediately relapse into expressions of gloom

MRS. MAYO. (_absent-mindedly--feeling that she has to say something_)
But when it comes to that, where _do_ sea-gulls sleep, Dick?

SCOTT. (_slapping the table_) Ho! Ho! Listen to her, James. ’Nother one!
Well, if that don’t beat all hell--’scuse me for cussin’, Kate.

MAYO. (_with a twinkle in his eyes_) They unhitch their wings, Katey,
and spreads ’em out on a wave for a bed.

SCOTT. And then they tells the fish to whistle to ’em when it’s time to
turn out. Ho! Ho!

MRS. MAYO. (_with a forced smile_) You men folks are too smart to live,
aren’t you? (_She resumes her knitting_. MAYO _pretends to read his
paper_; ANDREW _stares at the floor_).

SCOTT. (_looks from one to the other of them with a puzzled air. Finally
he is unable to bear the thick silence a minute longer, and blurts
out_): You folks look as if you was settin’ up with a corpse. (_With
exaggerated concern_) God A’mighty, there ain’t anyone dead, be there?

MAYO. (_sharply_) Don’t play the dunce, Dick! You know as well as we do
there ain’t no great cause to be feelin’ chipper.

SCOTT. (_argumentatively_) And there ain’t no cause to be wearin’
mourning, either, I can make out.

MRS. MAYO. (_indignantly_) How can you talk that way, Dick Scott, when
you’re taking our Robbie away from us, in the middle of the night, you
might say, just to get on that old boat of yours on time! I think you
might wait until morning when he’s had his breakfast.

SCOTT. (_appealing to the others hopelessly_) Ain’t that a woman’s way
o’ seein’ things for you? God A’mighty, Kate, I can’t give orders to the
tide that it’s got to be high just when it suits me to have it. I ain’t
gettin’ no fun out o’ missin’ sleep and leavin’ here at six bells
myself. (_Protestingly_) And the _Sunda_ ain’t an old ship--leastways,
not very old--and she’s good’s she ever was.

MRS. MAYO. (_her lips trembling_) I wish Robbie weren’t going.

MAYO. (_looking at her over his glasses--consolingly_) There, Katey!

MRS. MAYO. (_rebelliously_) Well, I do wish he wasn’t!

SCOTT. You shouldn’t be taking it so hard, ’s far as I kin see. This
vige’ll make a man of him. I’ll see to it he learns how to navigate, ’n’
study for a mate’s c’tificate right off--and it’ll give him a trade for
the rest of his life, if he wants to travel.

MRS. MAYO. But I don’t want him to travel all his life. You’ve got to
see he comes home when this trip is over. Then he’ll be all well, and
he’ll want to--to marry--(ANDREW _sits forward in his chair with an
abrupt movement_)--and settle down right here. (_She stares down at the
knitting in her lap--after a pause_) I never realized how hard it was
going to be for me to have Robbie go--or I wouldn’t have considered it a

SCOTT. It ain’t no good goin’ on that way, Kate, now it’s all settled.

MRS. MAYO. (_on the verge of tears_) It’s all right for _you_ to talk.
You’ve never had any children. You don’t know what it means to be
parted from them--and Robbie my youngest, too. (ANDREW _frowns and
fidgets in his chair_).

ANDREW. (_suddenly turning to them_) There’s one thing none of you seem
to take into consideration--that Rob wants to go. He’s dead set on it.
He’s been dreaming over this trip ever since it was first talked about.
It wouldn’t be fair to him not to have him go. (_A sudden uneasiness
seems to strike him_) At least, not if he still feels the same way about
it he did when he was talking to me this evening.

MAYO. (_with an air of decision_) Andy’s right, Katey. That ends all
argyment, you can see that. (_Looking at his big silver watch_) Wonder
what’s happened to Robert? He’s been gone long enough to wheel the
widder to home, certain. He can’t be out dreamin’ at the stars his last

MRS. MAYO. (_a bit reproachfully_) Why didn’t you wheel Mrs. Atkins back
tonight, Andy? You usually do when she and Ruth come over.

ANDREW. (_avoiding her eyes_) I thought maybe Robert wanted to tonight.
He offered to go right away when they were leaving.

MRS. MAYO. He only wanted to be polite.

ANDREW. (_gets to his feet_) Well, he’ll be right back, I guess. (_He
turns to his father_) Guess I’ll go take a look at the black cow,
Pa--see if she’s ailing any.

MAYO. Yes--better had, son. (ANDREW _goes into the kitchen on the

SCOTT. (_as he goes out--in a low tone_) There’s the boy that would make
a good, strong sea-farin’ man--if he’d a mind to.

MAYO. (_sharply_) Don’t you put no such fool notions in Andy’s head,
Dick--or you ’n’ me’s goin’ to fall out. (_Then he smiles_) You
couldn’t tempt him, no ways. Andy’s a Mayo bred in the bone, and he’s a
born farmer, and a damn good one, too. He’ll live and die right here on
this farm, like I expect to. (_With proud confidence_) And he’ll make
this one of the slickest, best-payin’ farms in the state, too, afore he
gits through!

SCOTT. Seems to me it’s a pretty slick place right now.

MAYO. (_shaking his head_) It’s too small. We need more land to make it
amount to much, and we ain’t got the capital to buy it. (ANDREW _enters
from the kitchen. His hat is on, and he carries a lighted lantern in his
hand. He goes to the door in the rear leading out_).

ANDREW. (_opens the door and pauses_) Anything else you can think of to
be done, Pa?

MAYO. No, nothin’ I know of. (ANDREW _goes out, shutting the door_).

MRS. MAYO. (_after a pause_) What’s come over Andy tonight, I wonder? He
acts so strange.

MAYO. He does seem sort o’ glum and out of sorts. It’s ’count o’ Robert
leavin’, I s’pose. (_To_ SCOTT) Dick, you wouldn’t believe how them boys
o’ mine sticks together. They ain’t like most brothers. They’ve been
thick as thieves all their lives, with nary a quarrel I kin remember.

SCOTT. No need to tell me that. I can see how they take to each other.

MRS. MAYO. (_pursuing her train of thought_) Did you notice, James, how
queer everyone was at supper? Robert seemed stirred up about something;
and Ruth was so flustered and giggly; and Andy sat there dumb, looking
as if he’d lost his best friend; and all of them only nibbled at their

MAYO. Guess they was all thinkin’ about tomorrow, same as us.

MRS. MAYO. (_shaking her head_) No. I’m afraid somethin’s
happened--somethin’ else.

MAYO. You mean--’bout Ruth?


MAYO. (_after a pause--frowning_) I hope her and Andy ain’t had a
serious fallin’-out. I always sorter hoped they’d hitch up together
sooner or later. What d’you say, Dick? Don’t you think them two’d pair
up well?

SCOTT. (_nodding his head approvingly_) A sweet, wholesome couple they’d

MAYO. It’d be a good thing for Andy in more ways than one. I ain’t what
you’d call calculatin’ generally, and I b’lieve in lettin’ young folks
run their affairs to suit themselves; but there’s advantages for both o’
them in this match you can’t overlook in reason. The Atkins farm is
right next to ourn. Jined together they’d make a jim-dandy of a place,
with plenty o’ room to work in. And bein’ a widder with only a daughter,
and laid up all the time to boot, Mrs. Atkins can’t do nothin’ with the
place as it ought to be done. She needs a man, a first-class farmer, to
take hold o’ things; and Andy’s just the one.

MRS. MAYO. (_abruptly_) I don’t think Ruth loves Andy.

MAYO. You don’t? Well, maybe a woman’s eyes is sharper in such things,
but--they’re always together. And if she don’t love him now, she’ll
likely come around to it in time. (_As_ MRS. MAYO _shakes her head_) You
seem mighty fixed in your opinion, Katey. How d’you know?

MRS. MAYO. It’s just--what I feel.

MAYO. (_a light breaking over him_) You don’t mean to say--(MRS. MAYO
_nods_. MAYO _chuckles scornfully_) Shucks! I’m losin’ my respect for
your eyesight, Katey. Why, Robert ain’t got no time for Ruth, ’cept as a

MRS. MAYO. (_warningly_) Sss-h-h! (_The door from the yard opens, and_
ROBERT _enters. He is smiling happily, and humming a song to himself,
but as he comes into the room an undercurrent of nervous uneasiness
manifests itself in his bearing_).

MAYO. So here you be at last! (ROBERT _comes forward and sits on_ ANDY’S
_chair_. MAYO _smiles slyly at his wife_) What have you been doin’ all
this time--countin’ the stars to see if they all come out right and

ROBERT. There’s only one I’ll ever look for any more, Pa.

MAYO. (_reproachfully_) You might’ve even not wasted time lookin’ for
that one--your last night.

MRS. MAYO. (_as if she were speaking to a child_) You ought to have worn
your coat a sharp night like this, Robbie.

SCOTT. (_disgustedly_) God A’mighty, Kate, you treat Robert as if he was
one year old!

MRS. MAYO. (_notices_ ROBERT’S _nervous uneasiness_) You look all worked
up over something, Robbie. What is it?

ROBERT. (_swallowing hard, looks quickly from one to the other of
them--then begins determinedly_) Yes, there _is_ something--something I
must tell you--all of you. (_As he begins to talk_ ANDREW _enters
quietly from the rear, closing the door behind him, and setting the
lighted lantern on the floor. He remains standing by the door, his arms
folded, listening to_ ROBERT _with a repressed expression of pain on his
face_. ROBERT _is so much taken up with what he is going to say that he
does not notice_ ANDREW’S _presence_.) Something I discovered only this
evening--very beautiful and wonderful--something I did not take into
consideration previously because I hadn’t dared to hope that such
happiness could ever come to me. (_Appealingly_) You must all remember
that fact, won’t you?

MAYO. (_frowning_) Let’s get to the point, son.

ROBERT. (_with a trace of defiance_) Well, the point is this, Pa: I’m
not going--I mean--I can’t go tomorrow with Uncle Dick--or at any future
time, either.

MRS. MAYO. (_with a sharp sigh of joyful relief_) Oh, Robbie, I’m so

MAYO. (_astounded_) You ain’t serious, be you, Robert? (_Severely_)
Seems to me it’s a pretty late hour in the day for you to be upsettin’
all your plans so sudden!

ROBERT. I asked you to remember that until this evening I didn’t know
myself. I had never dared to dream----

MAYO. (_irritably_) What is this foolishness you’re talkin’ of?

ROBERT. (_flushing_) Ruth told me this evening that--she loved me. It
was after I’d confessed I loved her. I told her I hadn’t been conscious
of my love until after the trip had been arranged, and I realized it
would mean--leaving her. That was the truth. I _didn’t_ know until then.
(_As if justifying himself to the others_) I hadn’t intended telling her
anything but--suddenly--I felt I must. I didn’t think it would matter,
because I was going away. And I thought she loved--someone else.
(_Slowly--his eyes shining_) And then she cried and said it was I she’d
loved all the time, but I hadn’t seen it.

MRS. MAYO. (_rushes over and throws her arms about him_) I knew it! I
was just telling your father when you came in--and, Oh, Robbie, I’m so
happy you’re not going!

ROBERT. (_kissing her_) I knew you’d be glad, Ma.

MAYO. (_bewilderedly_) Well, I’ll be damned! You do beat all for
gettin’ folks’ minds all tangled up, Robert. And Ruth too! Whatever got
into her of a sudden? Why, I was thinkin’----

MRS. MAYO. (_hurriedly--in a tone of warning_) Never mind what you were
thinking, James. It wouldn’t be any use telling us that now.
(_Meaningly_) And what you were hoping for turns out just the same
almost, doesn’t it?

MAYO. (_thoughtfully--beginning to see this side of the argument_) Yes;
I suppose you’re right, Katey. (_Scratching his head in puzzlement_) But
how it ever come about! It do beat anything ever I heard. (_Finally he
gets up with a sheepish grin and walks over to_ ROBERT) We’re glad you
ain’t goin’, your Ma and I, for we’d have missed you terrible, that’s
certain and sure; and we’re glad you’ve found happiness. Ruth’s a fine
girl and’ll make a good wife to you.

ROBERT. (_much moved_) Thank you, Pa. (_He grips his father’s hand in

ANDREW. (_his face tense and drawn comes forward and holds out his hand,
forcing a smile_) I guess it’s my turn to offer congratulations, isn’t

ROBERT. (_with a startled cry when his brother appears before him so
suddenly_) Andy! (_Confused_) Why--I--I didn’t see you. Were you here

ANDREW. I heard everything you said; and here’s wishing you every
happiness, you and Ruth. You both deserve the best there is.

ROBERT. (_taking his hand_) Thanks, Andy, it’s fine of you to---- (_His
voice dies away as he sees the pain in_ ANDREW’S _eyes_).

ANDREW. (_giving his brother’s hand a final grip_) Good luck to you
both! (_He turns away and goes back to the rear where he bends over the
lantern, fumbling with it to hide his emotion from the others_).

MRS. MAYO. (_to the_ CAPTAIN, _who has been too flabbergasted by_
ROBERT’S _decision to say a word_) What’s the matter, Dick? Aren’t you
going to congratulate Robbie?

SCOTT. (_embarrassed_) Of course I be! (_He gets to his feet and shakes_
ROBERT’S _hand, muttering a vague_) Luck to you, boy. (_He stands
beside_ ROBERT _as if he wanted to say something more but doesn’t know
how to go about it_).

ROBERT. Thanks, Uncle Dick.

SCOTT. So you’re not acomin’ on the _Sunda_ with me? (_His voice
indicates disbelief_).

ROBERT. I can’t, Uncle--not now. I wouldn’t miss it for anything else in
the world under any other circumstances. (_He sighs unconsciously_) But
you see I’ve found--a bigger dream. (_Then with joyous high spirits_) I
want you all to understand one thing--I’m not going to be a loafer on
your hands any longer. This means the beginning of a new life for me in
every way. I’m going to settle right down and take a real interest in
the farm, and do my share. I’ll prove to you, Pa, that I’m as good a
Mayo as you are--or Andy, when I want to be.

MAYO. (_kindly but skeptically_) That’s the right spirit, Robert. Ain’t
none of us doubts your willin’ness, but you ain’t never learned----

ROBERT. Then I’m going to start learning right away, and you’ll teach
me, won’t you?

MAYO. (_mollifyingly_) Of course I will, boy, and be glad to, only you’d
best go easy at first.

SCOTT. (_who has listened to this conversation in mingled consternation
and amazement_) You don’t mean to tell me you’re goin’ to let him stay,
do you, James?

MAYO. Why, things bein’ as they be, Robert’s free to do as he’s a mind

MRS. MAYO. _Let him!_ The very idea!

SCOTT. (_more and more ruffled_) Then all I got to say is, you’re a
soft, weak-willed critter to be permittin’ a boy--and women, too--to be
layin’ your course for you wherever they damn pleases.

MAYO. (_slyly amused_) It’s just the same with me as ’twas with you,
Dick. You can’t order the tides on the seas to suit you, and I ain’t
pretendin’ I can reg’late love for young folks.

SCOTT. (_scornfully_) Love! They ain’t old enough to know love when they
sight it! Love! I’m ashamed of you, Robert, to go lettin’ a little
huggin’ and kissin’ in the dark spile your chances to make a man out o’
yourself. It ain’t common sense--no siree, it ain’t--not by a hell of a
sight! (_He pounds the table with his fists in exasperation_).

MRS. MAYO. (_laughing provokingly at her brother_) A fine one you are to
be talking about love, Dick--an old cranky bachelor like you. Goodness

SCOTT. (_exasperated by their joking_) I’ve never been a damn fool like
most, if that’s what you’re steerin’ at.

MRS. MAYO. (_tauntingly_) Sour grapes, aren’t they, Dick? (_She laughs._
ROBERT _and his father chuckle_. SCOTT _sputters with annoyance_) Good
gracious, Dick, you do act silly, flying into a temper over nothing.

SCOTT. (_indignantly_) Nothin’! You talk as if I wasn’t concerned nohow
in this here business. Seems to me I’ve got a right to have my say.
Ain’t I made all arrangements with the owners and stocked up with some
special grub all on Robert’s account?

ROBERT. You’ve been fine, Uncle Dick; and I appreciate it. Truly.

MAYO. ’Course; we all does, Dick.

SCOTT. (_unplacated_) I’ve been countin’ sure on havin’ Robert for
company on this vige--to sorta talk to and show things to, and teach,
kinda, and I got my mind so set on havin’ him I’m goin’ to be double
lonesome this vige. (_He pounds on the table, attempting to cover up
this confession of weakness_) Darn all this silly lovin’ business,
anyway. (_Irritably_) But all this talk ain’t tellin’ me what I’m to do
with that sta’b’d cabin I fixed up. It’s all painted white, an’ a bran
new mattress on the bunk, ’n’ new sheets ’n’ blankets ’n’ things. And
Chips built in a book-case so’s Robert could take his books along--with
a slidin’ bar fixed across’t it, mind, so’s they couldn’t fall out no
matter how she rolled. (_With excited consternation_) What d’you suppose
my officers is goin’ to think when there’s no one comes aboard to occupy
that sta’b’d cabin? And the men what did the work on it--what’ll _they_
think? (_He shakes his finger indignantly_) They’re liable as not to
suspicion it was a woman I’d planned to ship along, and that she gave me
the go-by at the last moment! (_He wipes his perspiring brow in anguish
at this thought_). Gawd A’mighty! They’re only lookin’ to have the laugh
on me for something like that. They’re liable to b’lieve anything, those
fellers is!

MAYO. (_with a wink)_ Then there’s nothing to it but for you to get
right out and hunt up a wife somewheres for that spick ’n’ span cabin.
She’ll have to be a pretty one, too, to match it. (_He looks at his
watch with exaggerated concern_) You ain’t got much time to find her,

SCOTT. (_as the others smile--sulkily_) You kin go to thunder, Jim Mayo!

ANDREW. (_comes forward from where he has been standing by the door,
rear, brooding. His face is set in a look of grim determination_) You
needn’t worry about that spare cabin, Uncle Dick, if you’ve a mind to
take me in Robert’s place.

ROBERT. (_turning to him quickly_) Andy! (_He sees at once the fixed
resolve in his brother’s eyes, and realizes immediately the reason for
it--in consternation_) Andy, you mustn’t!

ANDREW. You’ve made your decision, Rob, and now I’ve made mine. You’re
out of this, remember.

ROBERT. (_hurt by his brother’s tone_) But Andy----

ANDREW. Don’t interfere, Rob--that’s all I ask. (_Turning to his uncle_)
You haven’t answered my question, Uncle Dick.

SCOTT. (_clearing his throat, with an uneasy side glance at_ JAMES MAYO
_who is staring at his elder son as if he thought he had suddenly gone
mad_) O’ course, I’d be glad to have you, Andy.

ANDREW. It’s settled then. I can pack the little I want to take in a few

MRS. MAYO. Don’t be a fool, Dick. Andy’s only joking you.

SCOTT. (_disgruntedly_) It’s hard to tell who’s jokin’ and who’s not in
this house.

ANDREW. (_firmly_) I’m not joking, Uncle Dick. (_As_ SCOTT _looks at him
uncertainly_) You needn’t be afraid I’ll go back on my word.

ROBERT. (_hurt by the insinuation he feels in_ ANDREW’S _tone_) Andy!
That isn’t fair!

MAYO. (_frowning_) Seems to me this ain’t no subject to joke over--not
for Andy.

ANDREW. (_facing his father_) I agree with you, Pa, and I tell you
again, once and for all, that I’ve made up my mind to go.

MAYO. (_dumbfounded--unable to doubt the determination in_ ANDREW’S
_voice--helplessly_) But why, son? Why?

ANDREW. (_evasively_) I’ve always wanted to go.


ANDREW. (_half angrily_) You shut up, Rob! (_Turning to his father
again_) I didn’t ever mention it because as long as Rob was going I knew
it was no use; but now Rob’s staying on here, there isn’t any reason for
me not to go.

MAYO. (_breathing hard_) No reason? Can you stand there and say that to
me, Andrew?

MRS. MAYO. (_hastily--seeing the gathering storm_) He doesn’t mean a
word of it, James.

MAYO. (_making a gesture to her to keep silence_) Let me talk, Katey.
(_In a more kindly tone_) What’s come over you so sudden, Andy? You
know’s well as I do that it wouldn’t be fair o’ you to run off at a
moment’s notice right now when we’re up to our necks in hard work.

ANDREW. (_avoiding his eyes_) Rob’ll hold his end up as soon as he

MAYO. Robert was never cut out for a farmer, and you was.

ANDREW. You can easily get a man to do my work.

MAYO. (_restraining his anger with an effort_) It sounds strange to hear
you, Andy, that I always thought had good sense, talkin’ crazy like
that. (_Scornfully_) Get a man to take your place! You ain’t been
workin’ here for no hire, Andy, that you kin give me your notice to quit
like you’ve done. The farm is your’n as well as mine. You’ve always
worked on it with that understanding; and what you’re sayin’ you intend
doin’ is just skulkin’ out o’ your rightful responsibility.

ANDREW. (_looking at the floor--simply_) I’m sorry, Pa. (_After a
slight pause_) It’s no use talking any more about it.

MRS. MAYO. (_in relief_) There! I knew Andy’d come to his senses!

ANDREW. Don’t get the wrong idea, Ma. I’m not backing out.

MAYO. You mean you’re goin’ in spite of--everythin’?

ANDREW. Yes. I’m going. I’ve got to. (_He looks at his father
defiantly_) I feel I oughn’t to miss this chance to go out into the
world and see things, and--I want to go.

MAYO. (_with bitter scorn_) So--you want to go out into the world and
see thin’s! (_His voice raised and quivering with anger_) I never
thought I’d live to see the day when a son o’ mine ’d look me in the
face and tell a bare-faced lie! (_Bursting out_) You’re a liar, Andy
Mayo, and a mean one to boot!

MRS. MAYO. James!


SCOTT. Steady there, Jim!

MAYO. (_waving their protests aside_) He is and he knows it.

ANDREW. (_his face flushed_) I won’t argue with you, Pa. You can think
as badly of me as you like.

MAYO. (_shaking his finger at_ ANDY, _in a cold rage_) You know I’m
speakin’ truth--that’s why you’re afraid to argy! You lie when you say
you want to go ’way--and see thin’s! You ain’t got no likin’ in the
world to go. I’ve watched you grow up, and I know your ways, and they’re
my ways. You’re runnin’ against your own nature, and you’re goin’ to be
a’mighty sorry for it if you do. ’S if I didn’t know your real reason
for runnin’ away! And runnin’ away’s the only words to fit it. You’re
runnin’ away ’cause you’re put out and riled ’cause your own brother’s
got Ruth ’stead o’ you, and----

ANDREW. (_his face crimson--tensely_) Stop, Pa! I won’t stand hearing
that--not even from you!

MRS. MAYO. (_rushing to_ ANDY _and putting her arms about him
protectingly_) Don’t mind him, Andy dear. He don’t mean a word he’s
saying! (ROBERT _stands rigidly, his hands clenched, his face contracted
by pain_. SCOTT _sits dumbfounded and open-mouthed_. ANDREW _soothes his
mother who is on the verge of tears_).

MAYO. (_in angry triumph_) It’s the truth, Andy Mayo! And you ought to
be bowed in shame to think of it!

ROBERT. (_protestingly_) Pa!

MRS. MAYO. (_coming from_ ANDREW _to his father; puts her hands on his
shoulders as though to try and push him back in the chair from which he
has risen_) Won’t you be still, James? Please won’t you?

MAYO. (_looking at_ ANDREW _over his wife’s shoulder--stubbornly_) The
truth--God’s truth!

MRS. MAYO. Sh-h-h! (_She tries to put a finger across his lips, but he
twists his head away_).

ANDREW. (_who has regained control over himself_) You’re wrong, Pa, it
isn’t truth. (_With defiant assertiveness_) I don’t love Ruth. I never
loved her, and the thought of such a thing never entered my head.

MAYO. (_with an angry snort of disbelief_) Hump! You’re pilin’ lie on

ANDREW. (_losing his temper--bitterly_) I suppose it’d be hard for you
to explain anyone’s wanting to leave this blessed farm except for some
outside reason like that. But I’m sick and tired of it--whether you want
to believe me or not--and that’s why I’m glad to get a chance to move

ROBERT. Andy! Don’t! You’re only making it worse.

ANDREW. (_sulkily_) I don’t care. I’ve done my share of work here. I’ve
earned my right to quit when I want to. (_Suddenly overcome with anger
and grief; with rising intensity_) I’m sick and tired of the whole damn
business. I hate the farm and every inch of ground in it. I’m sick of
digging in the dirt and sweating in the sun like a slave without getting
a word of thanks for it. (_Tears of rage starting to his
eyes--hoarsely_) I’m through, through for good and all; and if Uncle
Dick won’t take me on his ship, I’ll find another. I’ll get away
somewhere, somehow.

MRS. MAYO. (_in a frightened voice_) Don’t you answer him, James. He
doesn’t know what he’s saying. Don’t say a word to him ’til he’s in his
right senses again. Please James, don’t----

MAYO. (_pushes her away from him; his face is drawn and pale with the
violence of his passion. He glares at_ ANDREW _as if he hated him_) You
dare to--you dare to speak like that to me? You talk like that ’bout
this farm--the Mayo farm--where you was born--you--you---- (_He clenches
his fist above his head and advances threateningly on_ ANDREW) You
damned whelp!

MRS. MAYO. (_with a shriek_) James! (_She covers her face with her hands
and sinks weakly into_ MAYO’S _chair_. ANDREW _remains standing
motionless, his face pale and set_).

SCOTT. (_starting to his feet and stretching his arms across the table
toward_ MAYO) Easy there, Jim!

ROBERT. (_throwing himself between father and brother_) Stop! Are you

MAYO. (_grabs_ ROBERT’S _arm and pushes him aside--then stands for a
moment gasping for breath before_ ANDREW. _He points to the door with a
shaking finger_) Yes--go!--go!--You’re no son o’ mine--no son o’ mine!
You can go to hell if you want to! Don’t let me find you here--in the
mornin’--or--or--I’ll _throw_ you out!

ROBERT. Pa! For God’s sake! (MRS. MAYO _bursts into noisy sobbing_).

MAYO. (_he gulps convulsively and glares at_ ANDREW) You go--tomorrow
mornin’--and by God--don’t come back--don’t dare come back--by God, not
while I’m livin’--or I’ll--I’ll---- (_He shakes over his muttered threat
and strides toward the door rear, right_).

MRS. MAYO. (_rising and throwing her arms around him--hysterically_)
James! James! Where are you going?

MAYO. (_incoherently_) I’m goin’--to bed, Katey. It’s late, Katey--it’s
late. (_He goes out_).

MRS. MAYO. (_following him, pleading hysterically_) James! Take back
what you’ve said to Andy. James! (_She follows him out._ ROBERT _and
the_ CAPTAIN _stare after them with horrified eyes_. ANDREW _stands
rigidly looking straight in front of him, his fists clenched at his

SCOTT. (_the first to find his voice--with an explosive sigh_) Well, if
he ain’t the devil himself when he’s roused! You oughtn’t to have talked
to him that way, Andy ’bout the damn farm, knowin’ how touchy he is
about it. (_With another sigh_) Well, you won’t mind what he’s said in
anger. He’ll be sorry for it when he’s calmed down a bit.

ANDREW. (_in a dead voice_) You don’t know him. (_Defiantly_) What’s
said is said and can’t be unsaid; and I’ve chosen.

ROBERT. (_with violent protest_) Andy! You can’t go! This is all so
stupid--and terrible!

ANDREW. (_coldly_) I’ll talk to you in a minute, Rob. (_Crushed by his
brother’s attitude_ ROBERT _sinks down into a chair, holding his head in
his hands_).

SCOTT. (_comes and slaps_ ANDREW _on the back_) I’m damned glad you’re
shippin’ on, Andy. I like your spirit, and the way you spoke up to him.
(_Lowering his voice to a cautious whisper_) The sea’s the place for a
young feller like you that isn’t half dead ’n’ alive. (_He gives_ ANDY
_a final approving slap_) You ’n’ me’ll get along like twins, see if we
don’t. I’m goin’ aloft to turn in. Don’t forget to pack your dunnage.
And git some sleep, if you kin. We’ll want to sneak out extra early
b’fore they’re up. It’ll do away with more argyments. Robert can drive
us down to the town, and bring back the team. (_He goes to the door in
the rear, left_) Well, good night.

ANDREW. Good night. (SCOTT _goes out. The two brothers remain silent for
a moment. Then_ ANDREW _comes over to his brother and puts a hand on his
back. He speaks in a low voice, full of feeling_) Buck up, Rob. It ain’t
any use crying over spilt milk; and it’ll all turn out for the
best--let’s hope. It couldn’t be helped--what’s happened.

ROBERT. (_wildly_) But it’s a lie, Andy, a lie!

ANDREW. Of course it’s a lie. You know it and I know it,--but that’s all
ought to know it.

ROBERT. Pa’ll never forgive you. Oh, the whole affair is so
senseless--and tragic. Why did you think you must go away?

ANDREW. You know better than to ask that. You know why. (_Fiercely_) I
can wish you and Ruth all the good luck in the world, and I do, and I
mean it; but you can’t expect me to stay around here and watch you two
together, day after day--and me alone. I couldn’t stand it--not after
all the plans I’d made to happen on this place thinking---- (_his voice
breaks_) thinking she cared for me.

ROBERT. (_putting a hand on his brother’s arm_) God! It’s horrible! I
feel so guilty--to think that I should be the cause of your suffering,
after we’ve been such pals all our lives. If I could have foreseen
what’d happen, I swear to you I’d have never said a word to Ruth. I
swear I wouldn’t have, Andy!

ANDREW. I know you wouldn’t; and that would’ve been worse, for Ruth
would’ve suffered then. (_He pats his brother’s shoulder_) It’s best as
it is. It had to be, and I’ve got to stand the gaff, that’s all. Pa’ll
see how I felt--after a time. (_As_ ROBERT _shakes his head_)--and if he
don’t--well, it can’t be helped.

ROBERT. But think of Ma! God, Andy, you can’t go! You can’t!

ANDREW. (_fiercely_) I’ve got to go--to get away! I’ve got to, I tell
you. I’d go crazy here, bein’ reminded every second of the day what a
fool I’d made of myself. I’ve got to get away and try and forget, if I
can. And I’d hate the farm if I stayed, hate it for bringin’ things
back. I couldn’t take interest in the work any more, work with no
purpose in sight. Can’t you see what a hell it’d be? You love her too,
Rob. Put yourself in my place, and remember I haven’t stopped loving
her, and couldn’t if I was to stay. Would that be fair to you or to her?
Put yourself in my place. (_He shakes his brother fiercely by the
shoulder_) What’d you do then? Tell me the truth! You love her. What’d
you do?

ROBERT. (_chokingly_) I’d--I’d go, Andy! (_He buries his face in his
hands with a shuddering sob_) God!

ANDREW. (_seeming to relax suddenly all over his body--in a low, steady
voice_) Then you know why I got to go; and there’s nothing more to be

ROBERT. (_in a frenzy of rebellion_) Why did this have to happen to us?
It’s damnable! (_He looks about him wildly, as if his vengeance were
seeking the responsible fate_).

ANDREW. (_soothingly--again putting his hands on his brother’s
shoulder_) It’s no use fussing any more, Rob. It’s done. (_Forcing a
smile_) I guess Ruth’s got a right to have who she likes. She made a
good choice--and God bless her for it!

ROBERT. Andy! Oh, I wish I could tell you half I feel of how fine you

ANDREW. (_interrupting him quickly_) Shut up! Let’s go to bed. I’ve got
to be up long before sun-up. You, too, if you’re going to drive us down.

ROBERT. Yes. Yes.

ANDREW. (_turning down the lamp_) And I’ve got to pack yet. (_He yawns
with utter weariness_) I’m as tired as if I’d been plowing twenty-four
hours at a stretch. (_Dully_) I feel--dead. (ROBERT _covers his face
again with his hands_. ANDREW _shakes his head as if to get rid of his
thoughts, and continues with a poor attempt at cheery briskness_) I’m
going to douse the light. Come on. (_He slaps his brother on the back._
ROBERT _does not move_. ANDREW _bends over and blows out the lamp. His
voice comes from the darkness_) Don’t sit there mourning, Rob. It’ll all
come out in the wash. Come on and get some sleep. Everything’ll turn out
all right in the end. (ROBERT _can be heard stumbling to his feet, and
the dark figures of the two brothers can be seen groping their way
toward the doorway in the rear as_

(_The Curtain Falls_)




_Same as Act One, Scene Two. Sitting room of the farm house about half
past twelve in the afternoon of a hot, sun-baked day in mid-summer,
three years later. All the windows are open, but no breeze stirs the
soiled white curtains. A patched screen door is in the rear. Through it
the yard can be seen, its small stretch of lawn divided by the dirt path
leading to the door from the gate in the white picket fence which
borders the road._

_The room has changed, not so much in its outward appearance as in its
general atmosphere. Little significant details give evidence of
carelessness, of inefficiency, of an industry gone to seed. The chairs
appear shabby from lack of paint; the table cover is spotted and askew;
holes show in the curtains; a child’s doll, with one arm gone, lies
under the table; a hoe stands in a corner; a man’s coat is flung on the
couch in the rear; the desk is cluttered up with odds and ends; a number
of books are piled carelessly on the sideboard. The noon enervation of
the sultry, scorching day seems to have penetrated indoors, causing even
inanimate objects to wear an aspect of despondent exhaustion._

_A place is set at the end of the table, left, for someone’s dinner.
Through the open door to the kitchen comes the clatter of dishes being
washed, interrupted at intervals by a woman’s irritated voice and the
peevish whining of a child._

_At the rise of the curtain_ MRS. MAYO _and_ MRS. ATKINS _are discovered
sitting facing each other_, MRS. MAYO _to the rear_ MRS. ATKINS _to the
right of the table_. MRS. MAYO’S _face has lost all character,
disintegrated, become a weak mask wearing a helpless, doleful expression
of being constantly on the verge of comfortless tears. She speaks in an
uncertain voice, without assertiveness, as if all power of willing had
deserted her._ MRS. ATKINS _is in her wheel chair. She is a thin,
pale-faced, unintelligent looking woman of about forty-eight, with hard,
bright eyes. A victim of partial paralysis for many years, condemned to
be pushed from day to day of her life in a wheel chair, she has
developed the selfish, irritable nature of the chronic invalid. Both
women are dressed in black._ MRS. ATKINS _knits nervously as she talks.
A ball of unused yarn, with needles stuck through it, lies on the table
before_ MRS. MAYO.

MRS. ATKINS. (_with a disapproving glance at the place set on the
table_) Robert’s late for his dinner again, as usual. I don’t see why
Ruth puts up with it, and I’ve told her so. Many’s the time I’ve said to
her “It’s about time you put a stop to his nonsense. Does he suppose
you’re runnin’ a hotel--with no one to help with things?” But she don’t
pay no attention. She’s as bad as he is, a’most--thinks she knows better
than an old, sick body like me.

MRS. MAYO. (_dully_) Robbie’s always late for things. He can’t help it,

MRS. ATKINS. (_with a snort_) Can’t help it! How you do go on, Kate,
findin’ excuses for him! Anybody can help anything they’ve a mind to--as
long as they’ve got health, and ain’t rendered helpless like me--(_She
adds as a pious afterthought_)--through the will of God.

MRS. MAYO. Robbie can’t.

MRS. ATKINS. Can’t! It do make me mad, Kate Mayo, to see folks that God
gave all the use of their limbs to potterin’ round and wastin’ time
doin’ everything the wrong way--and me powerless to help and at their
mercy, you might say. And it ain’t that I haven’t pointed the right way
to ’em. I’ve talked to Robert thousands of times and told him how things
ought to be done. You know that, Kate Mayo. But d’you s’pose he takes
any notice of what I say? Or Ruth, either--my own daughter? No, they
think I’m a crazy, cranky old woman, half dead a’ready, and the sooner
I’m in the grave and out o’ their way the better it’d suit them.

MRS. MAYO. You mustn’t talk that way, Sarah. They’re not as wicked as
that. And you’ve got years and years before you.

MRS. ATKINS. You’re like the rest, Kate. You don’t know how near the end
I am. Well, at least I can go to my eternal rest with a clear
conscience. I’ve done all a body could do to avert ruin from this house.
On their heads be it!

MRS. MAYO. (_with hopeless indifference_) Things might be worse. Robert
never had any experience in farming. You can’t expect him to learn in a

MRS. ATKINS. (_snappily_) He’s had three years to learn, and he’s
gettin’ worse ’stead of better. Not on’y your place but mine too is
driftin’ to rack and ruin, and I can’t do nothin’ to prevent.

MRS. MAYO. (_with a spark of assertiveness_) You can’t say but Robbie
works hard, Sarah.

MRS. ATKINS. What good’s workin’ hard if it don’t accomplish anythin’,
I’d like to know?

MRS. MAYO. Robbie’s had bad luck against him.

MRS. ATKINS. Say what you’ve a mind to, Kate, the proof of the puddin’s
in the eatin’; and you can’t deny that things have been goin’ from bad
to worse ever since your husband died two years back.

MRS. MAYO. (_wiping tears from her eyes with her handkerchief_) It was
God’s will that he should be taken.

MRS. ATKINS. (_triumphantly_) It was God’s punishment on James Mayo for
the blasphemin’ and denyin’ of God he done all his sinful life! (MRS.
MAYO _begins to weep softly_) There, Kate, I shouldn’t be remindin’ you,
I know. He’s at peace, poor man, and forgiven, let’s pray.

MRS. MAYO. (_wiping her eyes--simply_) James was a good man.

MRS. ATKINS. (_ignoring this remark_) What I was sayin’ was that since
Robert’s been in charge things’ve been goin’ down hill steady. You don’t
know _how_ bad they are. Robert don’t let on to you what’s happenin’;
and you’d never see it yourself if ’twas under your nose. But, thank the
Lord, Ruth still comes to me once in a while for advice when she’s
worried near out of her senses by his goin’s-on. Do you know what she
told me last night? But I forgot, she said not to tell you--still I
think you’ve got a right to know, and it’s my duty not to let such
things go on behind your back.

MRS. MAYO. (_wearily_) You can tell me if you want to.

MRS. ATKINS. (_bending over toward her--in a low voice_) Ruth was almost
crazy about it. Robert told her he’d have to mortgage the farm--said he
didn’t know how he’d pull through ’til harvest without it, and he can’t
get money any other way. (_She straightens up--indignantly_) Now what do
you think of your Robert?

MRS. MAYO. (_resignedly_) If it has to be----

MRS. ATKINS. You don’t mean to say you’re goin’ to sign away your farm,
Kate Mayo--after me warnin’ you?

MRS. MAYO.--I’ll do what Robbie says is needful.

MRS. ATKINS. (_holding up her hands_) Well, of all the foolishness!----
well, it’s your farm, not mine, and I’ve nothin’ more to say.

MRS. MAYO. Maybe Robbie’ll manage till Andy gets back and sees to
things. It can’t be long now.

MRS. ATKINS. (_with keen interest_) Ruth says Andy ought to turn up any
day. When does Robert figger he’ll get here?

MRS. MAYO. He says he can’t calculate exactly on account o’ the _Sunda_
being a sail boat. Last letter he got was from England, the day they
were sailing for home. That was over a month ago, and Robbie thinks
they’re overdue now.

MRS. ATKINS. We can give praise to God then that he’ll be back in the
nick o’ time. He ought to be tired of travelin’ and anxious to get home
and settle down to work again.

MRS. MAYO. Andy _has_ been working. He’s head officer on Dick’s boat, he
wrote Robbie. You know that.

MRS. ATKINS. That foolin’ on ships is all right for a spell, but he must
be right sick of it by this.

MRS. MAYO. (_musingly_) I wonder if he’s changed much. He used to be so
fine-looking and strong. (_With a sigh_) Three years! It seems more like
three hundred. (_Her eyes filling--piteously_) Oh, if James could only
have lived ’til he came back--and forgiven him!

MRS. ATKINS. He never would have--not James Mayo! Didn’t he keep his
heart hardened against him till the last in spite of all you and Robert
did to soften him?

MRS. MAYO. (_with a feeble flash of anger_) Don’t you dare say that!
(_Brokenly_) Oh, I know deep down in his heart he forgave Andy, though
he was too stubborn ever to own up to it. It was that brought on his
death--breaking his heart just on account of his stubborn pride. (_She
wipes her eyes with her handkerchief and sobs_).

MRS. ATKINS. (_piously_) It was the will of God. (_The whining crying of
the child sounds from the kitchen._ MRS. ATKINS _frowns irritably_) Drat
that young one! Seems as if she cries all the time on purpose to set a
body’s nerves on edge.

MRS. MAYO. (_wiping her eyes_) It’s the heat upsets her. Mary doesn’t
feel any too well these days, poor little child!

MRS. ATKINS. She gets it right from her Pa--bein’ sickly all the time.
You can’t deny Robert was always ailin’ as a child. (_She sighs
heavily_) It was a crazy mistake for them two to get married. I argyed
against it at the time, but Ruth was so spelled with Robert’s wild
poetry notions she wouldn’t listen to sense. Andy was the one would have
been the match for her.

MRS. MAYO. I’ve often thought since it might have been better the other
way. But Ruth and Robbie seem happy enough together.

MRS. ATKINS. At any rate it was God’s work--and His will be done. (_The
two women sit in silence for a moment._ RUTH _enters from the kitchen,
carrying in her arms her two year old daughter_, MARY, _a pretty but
sickly and ænemic looking child with a tear-stained face_. RUTH _has
aged appreciably. Her face has lost its youth and freshness. There is a
trace in her expression of something hard and spiteful. She sits in the
rocker in front of the table and sighs wearily. She wears a gingham
dress with a soiled apron tied around her waist_).

RUTH. Land sakes, if this isn’t a scorcher! That kitchen’s like a
furnace. Phew! (_She pushes the damp hair back from her forehead_).

MRS. MAYO. Why didn’t you call me to help with the dishes?

RUTH. (_shortly_) No. The heat in there’d kill you.

MARY. (_sees the doll under the table and struggles on her mother’s
lap_) Dolly, Mama! Dolly!

RUTH. (_pulling her back_) It’s time for your nap. You can’t play with
Dolly now.

MARY. (_commencing to cry whiningly_) Dolly!

MRS. ATKINS. (_irritably_) Can’t you keep that child still? Her racket’s
enough to split a body’s ears. Put her down and let her play with the
doll if it’ll quiet her.

RUTH. (_lifting_ MARY _to the floor_) There! I hope you’ll be satisfied
and keep still. (MARY _sits down on the floor before the table and plays
with the doll in silence_. RUTH _glances at the place set on the table_)
It’s a wonder Rob wouldn’t try to get to meals on time once in a while.

MRS. MAYO. (_dully_) Something must have gone wrong again.

RUTH. (_wearily_) I s’pose so. Something’s always going wrong these
days, it looks like.

MRS. ATKINS. (_snappily_) It wouldn’t if you possessed a bit of spunk.
The idea of you permittin’ him to come in to meals at all hours--and you
doin’ the work! I never heard of such a thin’. You’re too easy goin’,
that’s the trouble.

RUTH. Do stop your nagging at me, Ma! I’m sick of hearing you. I’ll do
as I please about it; and thank you for not interfering. (_She wipes her
moist forehead--wearily_) Phew! It’s too hot to argue. Let’s talk of
something pleasant. (_Curiously_) Didn’t I hear you speaking about Andy
a while ago?

MRS. MAYO. We were wondering when he’d get home.

RUTH. (_brightening_) Rob says any day now he’s liable to drop in and
surprise us--him and the Captain. It’ll certainly look natural to see
him around the farm again.

MRS. ATKINS. Let’s hope the farm’ll look more natural, too, when he’s
had a hand at it. The way thin’s are now!

RUTH. (_irritably_) Will you stop harping on that, Ma? We all know
things aren’t as they might be. What’s the good of your complaining all
the time?

MRS. ATKINS. There, Kate Mayo! Ain’t that just what I told you? I can’t
say a word of advice to my own daughter even, she’s that stubborn and

RUTH. (_putting her hands over her ears--in exasperation_) For goodness
sakes, Ma!

MRS. MAYO. (_dully_) Never mind. Andy’ll fix everything when he comes.

RUTH. (_hopefully_) Oh, yes, I know he will. He always did know just the
right thing ought to be done. (_With weary vexation_) It’s a shame for
him to come home and have to start in with things in such a topsy-turvy.

MRS. MAYO. Andy’ll manage.

RUTH. (_sighing_) I s’pose it isn’t Rob’s fault things go wrong with

MRS. ATKINS. (_scornfully_) Hump! (_She fans herself nervously_) Land
o’ Goshen, but it’s bakin’ in here! Let’s go out in under the trees in
back where there’s a breath of fresh air. Come, Kate. (MRS. MAYO _gets
up obediently and starts to wheel the invalid’s chair toward the screen
door_) You better come too, Ruth. It’ll do you good. Learn him a lesson
and let him get his own dinner. Don’t be such a fool.

RUTH. (_going and holding the screen door open for them--listlessly_) He
wouldn’t mind. He doesn’t eat much. But I can’t go anyway. I’ve got to
put baby to bed.

MRS. ATKINS. Let’s go, Kate. I’m boilin’ in here. (MRS. MAYO _wheels her
out and off left_. RUTH _comes back and sits down in her chair_).

RUTH. (_mechanically_) Come and let me take off your shoes and
stockings, Mary, that’s a good girl. You’ve got to take your nap now.
(_The child continues to play as if she hadn’t heard, absorbed in her
doll. An eager expression comes over_ RUTH’S _tired face. She glances
toward the door furtively--then gets up and goes to the desk. Her
movements indicate a guilty fear of discovery. She takes a letter from a
pigeon-hole and retreats swiftly to her chair with it. She opens the
envelope and reads the letter with great interest, a flush of excitement
coming to her cheeks._ ROBERT _walks up the path and opens the screen
door quietly and comes into the room. He, too, has aged. His shoulders
are stooped as if under too great a burden. His eyes are dull and
lifeless, his face burned by the sun and unshaven for days. Streaks of
sweat have smudged the layer of dust on his cheeks. His lips drawn down
at the corners, give him a hopeless, resigned expression. The three
years have accentuated the weakness of his mouth and chin. He is
dressed in overalls, laced boots, and a flannel shirt open at the

ROBERT. (_throwing his hat over an the sofa--with a great sigh of
exhaustion_) Phew! The sun’s hot today! (RUTH _is startled. At first she
makes an instinctive motion as if to hide the letter in her bosom. She
immediately thinks better of this and sits with the letter in her hands
looking at him with defiant eyes. He bends down and kisses her_).

RUTH. (_feeling of her cheek--irritably_) Why don’t you shave? You look

ROBERT. (_indifferently_) I forgot--and it’s too much trouble this

MARY. (_throwing aside her doll, runs to him with a happy cry_) Dada!

ROBERT. (_swinging her up above his head--lovingly_) And how’s this
little girl of mine this hot day, eh?

MARY. (_screeching happily_) Dada! Dada!

RUTH. (_in annoyance_) Don’t do that to her! You know it’s time for her
nap and you’ll get her all waked up; then I’ll be the one that’ll have
to sit beside her till she falls asleep.

ROBERT. (_sitting down in the chair on the left of table and cuddling_
MARY _on his lap_) You needn’t bother. I’ll put her to bed.

RUTH. (_shortly_) You’ve got to get back to your work, I s’pose.

ROBERT. (_with a sigh_) Yes, I was forgetting. (_He glances at the open
letter on_ RUTH’S _lap_) Reading Andy’s letter again? I should think
you’d know it by heart by this time.

RUTH. (_coloring as if she’d been accused of something--defiantly_)
I’ve got a right to read it, haven’t I? He says it’s meant for all of

ROBERT. (_with a trace of irritation_) Right? Don’t be so silly. There’s
no question of right. I was only saying that you must know all that’s in
it after so many readings.

RUTH. Well, I don’t. (_She puts the letter on the table and gets wearily
to her feet_) I s’pose you’ll be wanting your dinner now.

ROBERT. (_listlessly_) I don’t care. I’m not hungry.

RUTH. And here I been keeping it hot for you!

ROBERT. (_irritably_) Oh, all right then. Bring it in and I’ll try to

RUTH. I’ve got to get her to bed first. (_She goes to lift_ MARY _off
his lap_) Come, dear. It’s after time and you can hardly keep your eyes
open now.

MARY. (_crying_) No, no! (_Appealing to her father_) Dada! No!

RUTH. (_accusingly to_ ROBERT) There! Now see what you’ve done! I told
you not to----

ROBERT. (_shortly_) Let her alone, then. She’s all right where she is.
She’ll fall asleep on my lap in a minute if you’ll stop bothering her.

RUTH. (_hotly_) She’ll not do any such thing! She’s got to learn to mind
me! (_Shaking her finger at_ MARY) You naughty child! Will you come with
Mama when she tells you for your own good?

MARY. (_clinging to her father_) No, Dada!

RUTH. (_losing her temper_) A good spanking’s what you need, my young
lady--and you’ll get one from me if you don’t mind better, d’you hear?
(MARY _starts to whimper frightenedly_).

ROBERT. (_with sudden anger_) Leave her alone! How often have I told you
not to threaten her with whipping? I won’t have it. (_Soothing the
wailing_ MARY) There! There, little girl! Baby mustn’t cry. Dada won’t
like you if you do. Dada’ll hold you and you must promise to go to sleep
like a good little girl. Will you when Dada asks you?

MARY. (_cuddling up to him_) Yes, Dada.

RUTH. (_looking at them, her pale face set and drawn_) A fine one you
are to be telling folks how to do things! (_She bites her lips. Husband
and wife look into each other’s eyes with something akin to hatred in
their expressions; then_ RUTH _turns away with a shrug of affected
indifference_) All right, take care of her then, if you think it’s so
easy. (_She walks away into the kitchen_).

ROBERT. (_smoothing_ MARY’S _hair--tenderly_) We’ll show Mama you’re a
good little girl, won’t we?

MARY. (_crooning drowsily_) Dada, Dada.

ROBERT. Let’s see: Does your mother take off your shoes and stockings
before your nap?

MARY. (_nodding with half-shut eyes_) Yes, Dada.

ROBERT. (_taking of her shoes and stockings_) We’ll show Mama we know
how to do those things, won’t we? There’s one old shoe off--and there’s
the other old shoe--and here’s one old stocking--and there’s the other
old stocking. There we are, all nice and cool and comfy. (_He bends down
and kisses her_) And now will you promise to go right to sleep if Dada
takes you to bed? (MARY _nods sleepily_) That’s the good little girl.
(_He gathers her up in his arms carefully and carries her into the
bedroom. His voice can be heard faintly as he lulls the child to sleep._
RUTH _comes out of the kitchen and gets the plate from the table. She
hears the voice from the room and tiptoes to the door to look in. Then
she starts for the kitchen but stands for a moment thinking, a look of
ill-concealed jealousy on her face. At a noise from inside she hurriedly
disappears into the kitchen. A moment later_ ROBERT _re-enters. He comes
forward and picks up the shoes and stockings which he shoves carelessly
under the table. Then, seeing no one about, he goes to the sideboard and
selects a book. Coming back to his chair, he sits down and immediately
becomes absorbed in reading._ RUTH _returns from the kitchen bringing
his plate heaped with food, and a cup of tea. She sets those before him
and sits down in her former place._ ROBERT _continues to read, oblivious
to the food on the table_).

RUTH. (_after watching him irritably for a moment_) For heaven’s sakes,
put down that old book! Don’t you see your dinner’s getting cold?

ROBERT. (_closing his book_) Excuse me, Ruth. I didn’t notice. (_He
picks up his knife and fork and begins to eat gingerly, without

RUTH. I should think you might have some feeling for me, Rob, and not
always be late for meals. If you think it’s fun sweltering in that oven
of a kitchen to keep things warm for you, you’re mistaken.

ROBERT. I’m sorry, Ruth, really I am. Something crops up every day to
delay me. I mean to be here on time.

RUTH. (_with a sigh_) Mean-tos don’t count.

ROBERT. (_with a conciliating smile_) Then punish me, Ruth. Let the food
get cold and don’t bother about me.

RUTH. I’d have to wait just the same to wash up after you.

ROBERT. But I can wash up.

RUTH. A nice mess there’d be then!

ROBERT. (_with an attempt at lightness_) The food is lucky to be able to
get cold this weather. (_As_ RUTH _doesn’t answer or smile he opens his
book and resumes his reading, forcing himself to take a mouthful of food
every now and then_. RUTH _stares at him in annoyance_).

RUTH. And besides, you’ve got your own work that’s got to be done.

ROBERT. (_absent-mindedly, without taking his eyes from the book_) Yes,
of course.

RUTH. (_spitefully_) Work you’ll never get done by reading books all the

ROBERT. (_shutting the book with a snap_) Why do you persist in nagging
at me for getting pleasure out of reading? Is it because---- (_He checks
himself abruptly_).

RUTH. (_coloring_) Because I’m too stupid to understand them, I s’pose
you were going to say.

ROBERT. (_shame-facedly_) No--no. (_In exasperation_) Why do you goad me
into saying things I don’t mean? Haven’t I got my share of troubles
trying to work this cursed farm without your adding to them? You know
how hard I’ve tried to keep things going in spite of bad luck----

RUTH. (_scornfully_) Bad luck!

ROBERT. And my own very apparent unfitness for the job, I was going to
add; but you can’t deny there’s been bad luck to it, too. Why don’t you
take things into consideration? Why can’t we pull together? We used to.
I know it’s hard on you also. Then why can’t we help each other instead
of hindering?

RUTH. (_sullenly_) I do the best I know how.

ROBERT. (_gets up and puts his hand on her shoulder_) I know you do. But
let’s both of us try to do better. We can both improve. Say a word of
encouragement once in a while when things go wrong, even if it is my
fault. You know the odds I’ve been up against since Pa died. I’m not a
farmer. I’ve never claimed to be one. But there’s nothing else I can do
under the circumstances, and I’ve got to pull things through somehow.
With your help, I can do it. With you against me---- (_He shrugs his
shoulders. There is a pause. Then he bends down and kisses her
hair--with an attempt at cheerfulness_) So you promise that; and I’ll
promise to be here when the clock strikes--and anything else you tell me
to. Is it a bargain?

RUTH. (_dully_) I s’pose so. (_They are interrupted by the sound of a
loud knock at the kitchen door_) There’s someone at the kitchen door.
(_She hurries out. A moment later she reappears_) It’s Ben.

ROBERT. (_frowning_) What’s the trouble now, I wonder? (In a loud voice)
Come on in here, Ben. (BEN _slouches in from the kitchen. He is a
hulking, awkward young fellow with a heavy, stupid face and shifty,
cunning eyes. He is dressed in overalls, boots, etc., and wears a
broad-brimmed hat of coarse straw pushed back on his head_) Well, Ben,
what’s the matter?

BEN. (_drawlingly_) The mowin’ machine’s bust.

ROBERT. Why, that can’t be. The man fixed it only last week.

BEN. It’s bust just the same.

ROBERT. And can’t you fix it?

BEN. No. Don’t know what’s the matter with the goll-darned thing.
’Twon’t work, anyhow.

ROBERT. (_getting up and going for his hat_) Wait a minute and I’ll go
look it over. There can’t be much the matter with it.

BEN. (_impudently_) Don’t make no diff’rence t’ me whether there be or
not. I’m quittin’.

ROBERT. (_anxiously_) You don’t mean you’re throwing up your job here?

BEN. That’s what! My month’s up today and I want what’s owin’ t’ me.

ROBERT. But why are you quitting now, Ben, when you know I’ve so much
work on hand? I’ll have a hard time getting another man at such short

BEN. That’s for you to figger. I’m quittin’.

ROBERT. But what’s your reason? You haven’t any complaint to make about
the way you’ve been treated, have you?

BEN. No. ’Tain’t that. (_Shaking his finger_) Look-a-here. I’m sick o’
being made fun at, that’s what; an’ I got a job up to Timms’ place; an’
I’m quittin’ here.

ROBERT. Being made fun of? I don’t understand you. Who’s making fun of

BEN. They all do. When I drive down with the milk in the mornin’ they
all laughs and jokes at me--that boy up to Harris’ and the new feller up
to Slocum’s, and Bill Evans down to Meade’s, and all the rest on ’em.

ROBERT. That’s a queer reason for leaving me flat. Won’t they laugh at
you just the same when you’re working for Timms?

BEN. They wouldn’t dare to. Timms is the best farm hereabouts. They was
laughin’ at me for workin’ for _you_, that’s what! “How’re things up to
the Mayo place?” they hollers every mornin’. “What’s Robert doin’
now--pasturin’ the cattle in the cornlot? Is he seasonin’ his hay with
rain this year, same as last?” they shouts. “Or is he inventin’ some
’lectrical milkin’ engine to fool them dry cows o’ his into givin’ hard
cider?” (_Very much ruffled_) That’s like they talks; and I ain’t goin’
to put up with it no longer. Everyone’s always knowed me as a
first-class hand hereabouts, and I ain’t wantin’ ’em to get no different
notion. So I’m quittin’ you. And I wants what’s comin’ to me.

ROBERT. (_coldly_) Oh, if that’s the case, you can go to the devil.
You’ll get your money tomorrow when I get back from town--not before!

BEN. (_turning to doorway to kitchen_) That suits me. (_As he goes out
he speaks back over his shoulder_) And see that I do get it, or there’ll
be trouble. (_He disappears and the slamming of the kitchen door is

ROBERT. (_as_ RUTH _comes from where she has been standing by the
doorway and sits down dejectedly in her old place_) The stupid damn
fool! And now what about the haying? That’s an example of what I’m up
against. No one can say I’m responsible for that.

RUTH. He wouldn’t dare act that way with anyone else! (_Spitefully, with
a glance at_ ANDREW’S _letter on the table_) It’s lucky Andy’s coming

ROBERT. (_without resentment_) Yes, Andy’ll see the right thing to do in
a jiffy. (_With an affectionate smile_) I wonder if the old chump’s
changed much? He doesn’t seem to from his letters, does he? (_Shaking
his head_) But just the same I doubt if he’ll want to settle down to a
hum-drum farm life, after all he’s been through.

RUTH. (_resentfully_) Andy’s not like you. He likes the farm.

ROBERT. (_immersed in his own thoughts--enthusiastically_) Gad, the
things he’s seen and experienced! Think of the places he’s been! All the
wonderful far places I used to dream about! God, how I envy him! What a
trip! (_He springs to his feet and instinctively goes to the window and
stares out at the horizon_).

RUTH. (_bitterly_) I s’pose you’re sorry now you didn’t go?

ROBERT. (_too occupied with his own thoughts to hear her--vindictively_)
Oh, those cursed hills out there that I used to think promised me so
much! How I’ve grown to hate the sight of them! They’re like the walls
of a narrow prison yard shutting me in from all the freedom and wonder
of life! (_He turns back to the room with a gesture of loathing_)
Sometimes I think if it wasn’t for you, Ruth, and--(_his voice
softening_)--little Mary, I’d chuck everything up and walk down the road
with just one desire in my heart--to put the whole rim of the world
between me and those hills, and be able to breathe freely once more!
(_He sinks down into his chair and smiles with bitter self-scorn_) There
I go dreaming again--- my old fool dreams.

RUTH. (_in a low, repressed voice--her eyes smoldering_) You’re not the
only one!

ROBERT. (_buried in his own thoughts--bitterly_) And Andy, who’s had the
chance--what has he got out of it? His letters read like the diary of
a--of a farmer! “We’re in Singapore now. It’s a dirty hole of a place
and hotter than hell. Two of the crew are down with fever and we’re
short-handed on the work. I’ll be damn glad when we sail again, although
tacking back and forth in these blistering seas is a rotten job too!”
(_Scornfully_) That’s about the way he summed up his impressions of the

RUTH. (_her repressed voice trembling_) You needn’t make fun of Andy.

ROBERT. When I think--but what’s the use? You know I wasn’t making fun
of Andy personally, but his attitude toward things is----

RUTH. (_her eyes flashing--bursting into uncontrollable rage_) You was
too making fun of him! And I ain’t going to stand for it! You ought to
be ashamed of yourself! (ROBERT _stares at her in amazement. She
continues furiously_) A fine one to talk about anyone else--after the
way you’ve ruined everything with your lazy loafing!--and the stupid way
you do things!

ROBERT. (_angrily_) Stop that kind of talk, do you hear?

RUTH. You findin’ fault--with your own brother who’s ten times the man
you ever was or ever will be! You’re jealous, that’s what! Jealous
because he’s made a man of himself, while you’re nothing but a--but
a---- (_She stutters incoherently, overcome by rage_).

ROBERT. Ruth! Ruth! You’ll be sorry for talking like that.

RUTH. I won’t! I won’t never be sorry! I’m only saying what I’ve been
thinking for years.

ROBERT. (_aghast_) Ruth! You can’t mean that!

RUTH. What do you think--living with a man like you--having to suffer
all the time because you’ve never been man enough to work and do things
like other people. But no! You never own up to that. You think you’re so
much better than other folks, with your college education, where you
never learned a thing, and always reading your stupid books instead of
working. I s’pose you think I ought to be _proud_ to be your wife--a
poor, ignorant thing like me! (_Fiercely_) But I’m not. I hate it! I
hate the sight of you. Oh, if I’d only known! If I hadn’t been such a
fool to listen to your cheap, silly, poetry talk that you learned out of
books! If I could have seen how you were in your true self--like you are
now--I’d have killed myself before I’d have married you! I was sorry for
it before we’d been together a month. I knew what you were really
like--when it was too late.

ROBERT. (_his voice raised loudly_) And now--I’m finding out what you’re
really like--what a--a creature I’ve been living with. (_With a harsh
laugh_) God! It wasn’t that I haven’t guessed how mean and small you
are--but I’ve kept on telling myself that I must be wrong--like a
fool!--like a damned fool!

RUTH. You were saying you’d go out on the road if it wasn’t for me.
Well, you can go, and the sooner the better! I don’t care! I’ll be glad
to get rid of you! The farm’ll be better off too. There’s been a curse
on it ever since you took hold. So go! Go and be a tramp like you’ve
always wanted. It’s all you’re good for. I can get along without you,
don’t you worry. (_Exulting fiercely_) Andy’s coming back, don’t forget
that! He’ll attend to things like they should be. He’ll show what a man
can do! I don’t need you. Andy’s coming!

ROBERT. (_they are both standing_. ROBERT _grabs her by the shoulders
and glares into her eyes_) What do you mean? (_He shakes her violently_)
What are you thinking of? What’s in your evil mind, you--you---- (_His
voice is a harsh shout_).

RUTH. (_in a defiant scream_) Yes I do mean it! I’d say it if you was to
kill me! I do love Andy. I do! I do! I always loved him. (_Exultantly_)
And he loves me! He loves me! I know he does. He always did! And you
know he did, too! So go! Go if you want to!

ROBERT. (_throwing her away from him. She staggers back against the
table--thickly_) You--you slut! (_He stands glaring at her as she leans
back, supporting herself by the table, gasping for breath. A loud
frightened whimper sounds from the awakened child in the bedroom. It
continues. The man and woman stand looking at one another in horror, the
extent of their terrible quarrel suddenly brought home to them. A pause.
The noise of a horse and carriage comes from the road before the house.
The two, suddenly struck by the same premonition, listen to it
breathlessly, as to a sound heard in a dream. It stops. They hear_
ANDY’S _voice from the road shouting a long hail_--“_Ahoy there!_”)

RUTH. (_with a strangled cry of joy_) Andy! Andy! (_She rushes and grabs
the knob of the screen door, about to fling it open_).

ROBERT. (_in a voice of command that forces obedience_) Stop! (_He goes
to the door and gently pushes the trembling_ RUTH _away from it. The
child’s crying rises to a louder pitch_) I’ll meet Andy. You better go
in to Mary, Ruth. (_She looks at him defiantly for a moment, but there
is something in his eyes that makes her turn and walk slowly into the

ANDY’S VOICE. (_in a louder shout_) Ahoy there, Rob!

ROBERT. (_in an answering shout of forced cheeriness_) Hello, Andy! (_He
opens the door and walks out as_

(_The Curtain Falls_)



_The top of a hill on the farm. It is about eleven o’clock the next
morning. The day is hot and cloudless. In the distance the sea can be

_The top of the hill slopes downward slightly toward the left. A big
boulder stands in the center toward the rear. Further right, a large oak
tree. The faint trace of a path leading upward to it from the left
foreground can be detected through the bleached, sun-scorched grass._

ROBERT _is discovered sitting on the boulder, his chin resting on his
hands, staring out toward the horizon seaward. His face is pale and
haggard, his expression one of utter despondency._ MARY _is sitting on
the grass near him in the shade, playing with her doll, singing happily
to herself. Presently she casts a curious glance at her father, and,
propping her doll up against the tree, comes over and clambers to his

MARY. (_pulling at his hand--solicitously_) Dada sick?

ROBERT. (_looking at her with a forced smile_) No, dear. Why?

MARY. Play wif Mary.

ROBERT. (_gently_) No, dear, not today. Dada doesn’t feel like playing

MARY. (_protestingly_) Yes, Dada!

ROBERT. No, dear. Dada does feel sick--a little. He’s got a bad

MARY. Mary see. (_He bends his head. She pats his hair_) Bad head.

ROBERT. (_kissing her--with a smile_) There! It’s better now, dear,
thank you. (_She cuddles up close against him. There is a pause during
which each of them looks out seaward_) (_Finally_ ROBERT _turns to her
tenderly_) Would you like Dada to go away?--far, far away?

MARY. (_tearfully_) No! No! No, Dada, no!

ROBERT. Don’t you like Uncle Andy--the man that came yesterday--not the
old man with the white mustache--the other?

MARY. Mary loves Dada.

ROBERT. (_with fierce determination_) He won’t go away, baby. He was
only joking. He couldn’t leave his little Mary. (_He presses the child
in his arms_).

MARY. (_with an exclamation of pain_) Oh! Hurt!

ROBERT. I’m sorry, little girl. (_He lifts her down to the grass_) Go
play with Dolly, that’s a good girl; and be careful to keep in the
shade. (_She reluctantly leaves him and takes up her doll again. A
moment later she points down the hill to the left_).

MARY. Mans, Dada.

ROBERT. (_looking that way_) It’s your Uncle Andy. (_A moment later_
ANDREW _comes up from the left, whistling cheerfully. He has changed but
little in appearance, except for the fact that his face has been deeply
bronzed by his years in the tropics; but there is a decided change in
his manner. The old easy-going good-nature seems to have been partly
lost in a breezy, business-like briskness of voice and gesture. There is
an authoritative note in his speech as though he were accustomed to give
orders and have them obeyed as a matter of course. He is dressed in the
simple blue uniform and cap of a merchant ship’s officer_).

ANDREW. Here you are, eh?

ROBERT. Hello, Andy.

ANDREW. (_going over to_ MARY) And who’s this young lady I find you all
alone with, eh? Who’s this pretty young lady? (_He tickles the laughing,
squirming_ MARY, _then lifts her up at arm’s length over his head_)
Upsy--daisy! (_He sets her down on the ground again_) And there you are!
(_He walks over and sits down on the boulder beside_ ROBERT _who moves
to one side to make room for him_) Ruth told me I’d probably find you up
top-side here; but I’d have guessed it, anyway. (_He digs his brother in
the ribs affectionately_) Still up to your old tricks, you old beggar! I
can remember how you used to come up here to mope and dream in the old

ROBERT. (_with a smile_) I come up here now because it’s the coolest
place on the farm. I’ve given up dreaming.

ANDREW. (_grinning_) I don’t believe it. You can’t have changed that
much. (_After a pause--with boyish enthusiasm_) Say, it sure brings back
old times to be up here with you having a chin all by our lonesomes
again. I feel great being back home.

ROBERT. It’s great for us to have you back.

ANDREW. (_after a pause--meaningly_) I’ve been looking over the old
place with Ruth. Things don’t seem to be----

ROBERT. (_his face flushing--interrupts his brother shortly_) Never mind
the damn farm! Let’s talk about something interesting. This is the first
chance I’ve had to have a word with you alone. Tell me about your trip.

ANDREW. Why, I thought I told you everything in my letters.

ROBERT. (_smiling_) Your letters were--sketchy, to say the least.

ANDREW. Oh, I know I’m no author. You needn’t be afraid of hurting my
feelings. I’d rather go through a typhoon again than write a letter.

ROBERT. (_with eager interest_) Then you were through a typhoon?

ANDREW. Yes--in the China sea. Had to run before it under bare poles for
two days. I thought we were bound down for Davy Jones, sure. Never
dreamed waves could get so big or the wind blow so hard. If it hadn’t
been for Uncle Dick being such a good skipper we’d have gone to the
sharks, all of us. As it was we came out minus a main top-mast and had
to beat back to Hong-Kong for repairs. But I must have written you all

ROBERT. You never mentioned it.

ANDREW. Well, there was so much dirty work getting things ship-shape
again I must have forgotten about it.

ROBERT. (_looking at_ ANDREW--_marveling_) Forget a typhoon? (_with a
trace of scorn_) You’re a strange combination, Andy. And is what you’ve
told me all you remember about it?

ANDREW. Oh, I could give you your bellyful of details if I wanted to
turn loose on you. It was all-wool-and-a-yard-wide-Hell, I’ll tell you.
You ought to have been there. I remember thinking about you at the worst
of it, and saying to myself: “This’d cure Rob of them ideas of his about
the beautiful sea, if he could see it.” And it would have too, you bet!
(_He nods emphatically_).

ROBERT. (_dryly_) The sea doesn’t seem to have impressed you very

ANDREW. I should say it didn’t! I’ll never set foot on a ship again if I
can help it--except to carry me some place I can’t get to by train.

ROBERT. But you studied to become an officer!

ANDREW. Had to do something or I’d gone mad. The days were like years.
(_He laughs_) And as for the East you used to rave about--well, you
ought to see it, and _smell_ it! One walk down one of their filthy
narrow streets with the tropic sun beating on it would sicken you for
life with the “wonder and mystery” you used to dream of.

ROBERT. (_shrinking from his brother with a glance of aversion_) So all
you found in the East was a stench?

ANDREW. _A_ stench! Ten thousand of them!

ROBERT. But you did like some of the places, judging from your
letters--Sydney, Buenos Aires----

ANDREW. Yes, Sydney’s a good town. (_Enthusiastically_) But Buenos
Aires--there’s the place for you. Argentine’s a country where a fellow
has a chance to make good. You’re right I like it. And I’ll tell you,
Rob, that’s right where I’m going just as soon as I’ve seen you folks a
while and can get a ship. I can get a berth as second officer, and I’ll
jump the ship when I get there. I’ll need every cent of the wages
Uncle’s paid me to get a start at something in B. A.

ROBERT. (_staring at his brother--slowly_) So you’re not going to stay
on the farm?

ANDREW. Why sure not! Did you think I was? There wouldn’t be any sense.
One of us is enough to run this little place.

ROBERT. I suppose it does seem small to you now.

ANDREW. (_not noticing the sarcasm in_ ROBERT’S _voice_) You’ve no idea,
Rob, what a splendid place Argentine is. I had a letter from a marine
insurance chap that I’d made friends with in Hong-Kong to his brother,
who’s in the grain business in Buenos Aires. He took quite a fancy to
me, and what’s more important, he offered me a job if I’d come back
there. I’d have taken it on the spot, only I couldn’t leave Uncle Dick
in the lurch, and I’d promised you folks to come home. But I’m going
back there, you bet, and then you watch me get on! (_He slaps_ ROBERT
_on the back_) But don’t you think it’s a big chance, Rob?

ROBERT. It’s fine--for you, Andy.

ANDREW. We call this a farm--but you ought to hear about the farms down
there--ten square miles where we’ve got an acre. It’s a new country
where big things are opening up--and I want to get in on something big
before I die. I’m no fool when it comes to farming, and I know something
about grain. I’ve been reading up a lot on it, too, lately. (_He
notices_ ROBERT’S _absent-minded expression and laughs_) Wake up, you
old poetry book worm, you! I know my talking about business makes you
want to choke me, doesn’t it?

ROBERT. (_with an embarrassed smile_) No, Andy, I--I just happened to
think of something else. (_Frowning_) There’ve been lots of times lately
that I’ve wished I had some of your faculty for business.

ANDREW. (_soberly_) There’s something I want to talk about, Rob,--the
farm. You don’t mind, do you?


ANDREW. I walked over it this morning with Ruth--and she told me about
things---- (_Evasively_) I could see the place had run down; but you
mustn’t blame yourself. When luck’s against anyone----

ROBERT. Don’t, Andy! It _is_ my fault. You know it as well as I do. The
best I’ve ever done was to make ends meet.

ANDREW. (_after a pause_) I’ve got over a thousand saved, and you can
have that.

ROBERT. (_firmly_) No. You need that for your start in Buenos Aires.

ANDREW. I don’t. I can----

ROBERT. (_determinedly_) No, Andy! Once and for all, no! I won’t hear of

ANDREW. (_protestingly_) You obstinate old son of a gun!

ROBERT. Oh, everything’ll be on a sound footing after harvest. Don’t
worry about it.

ANDREW. (_doubtfully_) Maybe. (_After a pause_) It’s too bad Pa couldn’t
have lived to see things through. (_With feeling_) It cut me up a
lot--hearing he was dead. He never--softened up, did he--about me, I

ROBERT. He never understood, that’s a kinder way of putting it. He does

ANDREW. (_after a pause_) You’ve forgotten all about what--caused me to
go, haven’t you, Rob? (ROBERT _nods but keeps his face averted_) I was a
slushier damn fool in those days than you were. But it was an act of
Providence I did go. It opened my eyes to how I’d been fooling myself.
Why, I’d forgotten all about--that--before I’d been at sea six months.

ROBERT. (_turns and looks into_ ANDREW’S _eyes searchingly_) You’re
speaking of--Ruth?

ANDREW. (_confused_) Yes. I didn’t want you to get false notions in your
head, or I wouldn’t say anything. (_Looking_ ROBERT _squarely in the
eyes_) I’m telling you the truth when I say I’d forgotten long ago. It
don’t sound well for me, getting over things so easy, but I guess it
never really amounted to more than a kid idea I was letting rule me. I’m
certain now I never was in love--I was getting fun out of thinking I
was--and being a hero to myself. (_He heaves a great sigh of relief_)
There! Gosh, I’m glad that’s off my chest. I’ve been feeling sort of
awkward ever since I’ve been home, thinking of what you two might think.
(_A trace of appeal in his voice_) You’ve got it all straight now,
haven’t you, Rob?

ROBERT. (_in a low voice_) Yes, Andy.

ANDREW. And I’ll tell Ruth, too, if I can get up the nerve. She must
feel kind of funny having me round--after what used to be--and not
knowing how I feel about it.

ROBERT. (_slowly_) Perhaps--for her sake--you’d better not tell her.

ANDREW. For her sake? Oh, you mean she wouldn’t want to be reminded of
my foolishness? Still, I think it’d be worse if----

ROBERT. (_breaking out--in an agonized voice_) Do as you please, Andy;
but for God’s sake, let’s not talk about it! (_There is a pause._ ANDREW
_stares at_ ROBERT _in hurt stupefaction._ ROBERT _continues after a
moment in a voice which he vainly attempts to keep calm_) Excuse me,
Andy. This rotten headache has my nerves shot to pieces.

ANDREW. (_mumbling_) It’s all right, Rob--long as you’re not sore at me.

ROBERT. Where did Uncle Dick disappear to this morning?

ANDREW. He went down to the port to see to things on the _Sunda_. He
said he didn’t know exactly when he’d be back. I’ll have to go down and
tend to the ship when he comes. That’s why I dressed up in these togs.

MARY. (_pointing down the hill to the left_) See! Mama! Mama! (_She
struggles to her feet._ RUTH _appears at left. She is dressed in white,
shows she has been fixing up. She looks pretty, flushed and full of

MARY. (_running to her mother_) Mama!

RUTH. (_kissing her_) Hello, dear! (_She walks toward the rock and
addresses_ ROBERT _coldly_) Jake wants to see you about something. He
finished working where he was. He’s waiting for you at the road.

ROBERT. (_getting up--wearily_) I’ll go down right away. (_As he looks
at_ RUTH, _noting her changed appearance, his face darkens with pain_).

RUTH. And take Mary with you, please. (_To_ MARY) Go with Dada, that’s a
good girl. Grandma has your dinner most ready for you.

ROBERT. (_shortly_) Come, Mary!

MARY. (_taking his hand and dancing happily beside him_) Dada! Dada!
(_They go down the hill to the left._ RUTH _looks after them for a
moment, frowning--then turns to_ ANDY _with a smile_) I’m going to sit
down. Come on, Andy. It’ll be like old times. (_She jumps lightly to the
top of the rock and sits down_) It’s so fine and cool up here after the

ANDREW. (_half-sitting on the side of the boulder_) Yes. It’s great.

RUTH. I’ve taken a holiday in honor of your arrival. (_Laughing
excitedly_) I feel so free I’d like to have wings and fly over the sea.
You’re a man. You can’t know how awful and stupid it is--cooking and
washing dishes all the time.

ANDREW. (_making a wry face_) I can guess.

RUTH. Besides, your mother just insisted on getting your first dinner to
home, she’s that happy at having you back. You’d think I was planning to
poison you the flurried way she shooed me out of the kitchen.

ANDREW. That’s just like Ma, bless her!

RUTH. She’s missed you terrible. We all have. And you can’t deny the
farm has, after what I showed you and told you when we was looking over
the place this morning.

ANDREW. (_with a frown_) Things are run down, that’s a fact! It’s too
darn hard on poor old Rob.

RUTH. (_scornfully_) It’s his own fault. He never takes any interest in

ANDREW. (_reprovingly_) You can’t blame him. He wasn’t born for it; but
I know he’s done his best for your sake and the old folks and the little

RUTH. (_indifferently_) Yes, I suppose he has. (_Gayly_) But thank the
Lord, all those days are over now. The “hard luck” Rob’s always blaming
won’t last long when you take hold, Andy. All the farm’s ever needed was
someone with the knack of looking ahead and preparing for what’s going
to happen.

ANDREW. Yes, Rob hasn’t got that. He’s frank to own up to that himself.
I’m going to try and hire a good man for him--an experienced farmer--to
work the place on a salary and percentage. That’ll take it off of Rob’s
hands, and he needn’t be worrying himself to death any more. He looks
all worn out, Ruth. He ought to be careful.

RUTH. (_absent-mindedly_) Yes, I s’pose. (_Her mind is filled with
premonitions by the first part of his statement_) Why do you want to
hire a man to oversee things? Seems as if now that you’re back it
wouldn’t be needful.

ANDREW. Oh, of course I’ll attend to everything while I’m here. I mean
after I’m gone.

RUTH. (_as if she couldn’t believe her ears_) Gone!

ANDREW. Yes. When I leave for the Argentine again.

RUTH. (_aghast_) You’re going away to sea!

ANDREW. Not to sea, no; I’m through with the sea for good as a job. I’m
going down to Buenos Aires to get in the grain business.

RUTH. But--that’s far off--isn’t it?

ANDREW. (_easily_) Six thousand miles more or less. It’s quite a trip.
(_With enthusiasm_) I’ve got a peach of a chance down there, Ruth. Ask
Rob if I haven’t. I’ve just been telling him all about it.

RUTH. (_a flush of anger coming over her face_) And didn’t he try to
stop you from going?

ANDREW. (_in surprise_) No, of course not. Why?

RUTH. (_slowly and vindictively_) That’s just like him--not to.

ANDREW. (_resentfully_) Rob’s too good a chum to try and stop me when he
knows I’m set on a thing. And he could see just as soon’s I told him
what a good chance it was.

RUTH. (_dazedly_) And you’re bound on going?

ANDREW. Sure thing. Oh, I don’t mean right off. I’ll have to wait for a
ship sailing there for quite a while, likely. Anyway, I want to stay to
home and visit with you folks a spell before I go.

RUTH. (_dumbly_) I s’pose. (_With sudden anguish_) Oh, Andy, you can’t
go! You can’t. Why we’ve all thought--we’ve all been hoping and praying
you was coming home to stay, to settle down on the farm and see to
things. You mustn’t go! Think of how your Ma’ll take on if you go--and
how the farm’ll be ruined if you leave it to Rob to look after. You can
see that.

ANDREW. (_frowning_) Rob hasn’t done so bad. When I get a man to direct
things the farm’ll be safe enough.

RUTH. (_insistently_) But your Ma--think of her.

ANDREW. She’s used to me being away. She won’t object when she knows
it’s best for her and all of us for me to go. You ask Rob. In a couple
of years down there I’ll make my pile, see if I don’t; and then I’ll
come back and settle down and turn this farm into the crackiest place in
the whole state. In the meantime, I can help you both from down there.
(_Earnestly_) I tell you, Ruth, I’m going to make good right from the
minute I land, if working hard and a determination to get on can do it;
and I _know_ they can! (_Excitedly--in a rather boastful tone_) I tell
you, I feel ripe for bigger things than settling down here. The trip did
that for me, anyway. It showed me the world is a larger proposition than
ever I thought it was in the old days. I couldn’t be content any more
stuck here like a fly in molasses. It all seems trifling, somehow. You
ought to be able to understand what I feel.

RUTH. (_dully_) Yes--I s’pose I ought. (_After a pause--a sudden
suspicion forming in her mind_) What did Rob tell you--about me?

ANDREW. Tell? About you? Why, nothing.

RUTH. (_staring at him intensely_) Are you telling me the truth, Andy
Mayo? Didn’t he say--I---- (_She stops confusedly_).

ANDREW. (_surprised_) No, he didn’t mention you, I can remember. Why?
What made you think he did?

RUTH. (_wringing her hands_) Oh, I wish I could tell if you’re lying or

ANDREW. (_indignantly_) What’re you talking about? I didn’t used to lie
to you, did I? And what in the name of God is there to lie for?

RUTH. (_still unconvinced_) Are you sure--will you swear--it isn’t the
reason---- (_She lowers her eyes and half turns away from him_) The same
reason that made you go last time that’s driving you away again? ’Cause
if it is--I was going to say--you mustn’t go--on that account. (_Her
voice sinks to a tremulous, tender whisper as she finishes_).

ANDREW. (_confused--forces a laugh_) Oh, is that what you’re driving at?
Well, you needn’t worry about that no more---- (_Soberly_) I don’t blame
you, Ruth, feeling embarrassed having me around again, after the way I
played the dumb fool about going away last time.

RUTH. (_her hope crushed--with a gasp of pain_) Oh, Andy!

ANDREW. (_misunderstanding_) I know I oughtn’t to talk about such
foolishness to you. Still I figure it’s better to get it out of my
system so’s we three can be together same’s years ago, and not be
worried thinking one of us might have the wrong notion.

RUTH. Andy! Please! Don’t!

ANDREW. Let me finish now that I’ve started. It’ll help clear things up.
I don’t want you to think once a fool always a fool, and be upset all
the time I’m here on my fool account. I want you to believe I put all
that silly nonsense back of me a long time ago--and now--it
seems--well--as if you’d always been my sister, that’s what, Ruth.

RUTH. (_at the end of her endurance--laughing hysterically_) For God’s
sake, Andy--won’t you please stop talking! (_She again hides her face in
her hands, her bowed shoulders trembling_).

ANDREW. (_ruefully_) Seem’s if I put my foot in it whenever I open my
mouth today. Rob shut me up with almost the same words when I tried
speaking to him about it.

RUTH. (_fiercely_) You told him--what you’ve told me?

ANDREW. (_astounded_) Why sure! Why not?

RUTH. (_shuddering_) Oh, my God!

ANDREW. (_alarmed_) Why? Shouldn’t I have?

RUTH. (_hysterically_) Oh, I don’t care what you do! I don’t care! Leave
me alone! (ANDREW _gets up and walks down the hill to the left,
embarrassed, hurt, and greatly puzzled by her behavior_).

ANDREW. (_after a pause--pointing down the hill_) Hello! Here they come
back--and the Captain’s with them. How’d he come to get back so soon, I
wonder? That means I’ve got to hustle down to the port and get on board.
Rob’s got the baby with him. (_He comes back to the boulder._ RUTH
_keeps her face averted from him_) Gosh, I never saw a father so tied up
in a kid as Rob is! He just watches every move she makes. And I don’t
blame him. You both got a right to feel proud of her. She’s surely a
little winner. (_He glances at_ RUTH _to see if this very obvious
attempt to get back in her good graces is having any effect_) I can see
the likeness to Rob standing out all over her, can’t you? But there’s no
denying she’s your young one, either. There’s something about her

RUTH. (_piteously_) Oh, Andy, I’ve a headache! I don’t want to talk!
Leave me alone, won’t you please?

ANDREW. (_stands staring at her for a moment--then walks away saying in
a hurt tone_): Everybody hereabouts seems to be on edge today. I begin
to feel as if I’m not wanted around. (_He stands near the path, left,
kicking at the grass with the toe of his shoe. A moment later_ CAPTAIN
DICK SCOTT _enters, followed by_ ROBERT _carrying_ MARY. _The_ CAPTAIN
_seems scarcely to have changed at all from the jovial, booming person
he was three years before. He wears a uniform similar to_ ANDREW’S. _He
is puffing and breathless from his climb and mops wildly at his
perspiring countenance._ ROBERT _casts a quick glance at_ ANDREW,
_noticing the latter’s discomfited look, and then turns his eyes on_
RUTH _who, at their approach, has moved so her back is toward them, her
chin resting on her hands as she stares out seaward_).

MARY. Mama! Mama! (ROBERT _puts her down and she runs to her mother._
RUTH _turns and grabs her up in her arms with a sudden fierce
tenderness, quickly turning away again from the others. During the
following scene she keeps_ MARY _in her arms_).

SCOTT. (_wheezily_) Phew! I got great news for you, Andy. Let me get my
wind first. Phew! God A’mighty, mountin’ this damned hill is worser’n
goin’ aloft to the skys’l yard in a blow. I got to lay to a while. (_He
sits down on the grass, mopping his face_).

ANDREW. I didn’t look for you this soon, Uncle.

SCOTT. I didn’t figger it, neither; but I run across a bit o’ news down
to the Seamen’s Home made me ’bout ship and set all sail back here to
find you.

ANDREW. (_eagerly_) What is it, Uncle?

SCOTT. Passin’ by the Home I thought I’d drop in an’ let ’em know I’d be
lackin’ a mate next trip count o’ your leavin’. Their man in charge o’
the shippin’ asked after you ’special curious. “Do you think he’d
consider a berth as Second on a steamer, Captain?” he asks. I was goin’
to say no when I thinks o’ you wantin’ to get back down south to the
Plate agen; so I asks him: “What is she and where’s she bound?” “She’s
the _El Paso_, a brand new tramp,” he says, “and she’s bound for Buenos

ANDREW. (_his eyes lighting up--excitedly_) Gosh, that is luck! When
does she sail?

SCOTT. Tomorrow mornin’. I didn’t know if you’d want to ship away agen
so quick an’ I told him so. “Tell him I’ll hold the berth open for him
until late this afternoon,” he says. So there you be, an’ you can make
your own choice.

ANDREW. I’d like to take it. There may not be another ship for Buenos
Aires with a vacancy in months. (_His eyes roving from_ ROBERT _to_ RUTH
_and back again--uncertainly_) Still--damn it all--tomorrow morning is
soon. I wish she wasn’t leaving for a week or so. That’d give me a
chance--it seems hard to go right away again when I’ve just got home.
And yet it’s a chance in a thousand---- (_Appealing to_ ROBERT) What do
you think, Rob? What would you do?

ROBERT. (_forcing a smile_) He who hesitates, you know. (_Frowning_)
It’s a piece of good luck thrown in your way--and--I think you owe it to
yourself to jump at it. But don’t ask me to decide for you.

RUTH. (_turning to look at_ ANDREW--_in a tone of fierce resentment_)
Yes, go, Andy! (_She turns quickly away again. There is a moment of
embarrassed silence_).

ANDREW. (_thoughtfully_) Yes, I guess I will. It’ll be the best thing
for all of us in the end, don’t you think so, Rob? (ROBERT _nods but
remains silent_).

SCOTT. (_getting to his feet_) Then, that’s settled.

ANDREW. (_now that he has definitely made a decision his voice rings
with hopeful strength and energy_) Yes, I’ll take the berth. The sooner
I go the sooner I’ll be back, that’s a certainty; and I won’t come back
with empty hands next time. You bet I won’t!

SCOTT. You ain’t got so much time, Andy. To make sure you’d best leave
here soon’s you kin. I got to get right back aboard. You’d best come
with me.

ANDREW. I’ll go to the house and repack my bag right away.

ROBERT. (_quietly_) You’ll both be here for dinner, won’t you?

ANDREW. (_worriedly_) I don’t know. Will there be time? What time is it
now, I wonder?

ROBERT. (_reproachfully_) Ma’s been getting dinner especially for you,

ANDREW. (_flushing--shame-facedly_) Hell! And I was forgetting! Of
course I’ll stay for dinner if I missed every damned ship in the world.
(_He turns to the_ CAPTAIN--_briskly_) Come on, Uncle. Walk down with me
to the house and you can tell me more about this berth on the way. I’ve
got to pack before dinner. (_He and the_ CAPTAIN _start down to the
left_. ANDREW _calls back over his shoulder_) You’re coming soon, aren’t
you, Rob?

ROBERT. Yes. I’ll be right down. (ANDREW _and the_ CAPTAIN _leave_. RUTH
_puts_ MARY _on the ground and hides her face in her hands. Her
shoulders shake as if she were sobbing._ ROBERT _stares at her with a
grim, somber expression_. MARY _walks backward toward_ ROBERT, _her
wondering eyes fixed on her mother_).

MARY. (_her voice vaguely frightened, taking her father’s hand_) Dada,
Mama’s cryin’, Dada.

ROBERT. (_bending down and stroking her hair--in a voice he endeavors to
keep from being harsh_) No, she isn’t, little girl. The sun hurts her
eyes, that’s all. Aren’t you beginning to feel hungry, Mary?

MARY. (_decidedly_) Yes, Dada.

ROBERT. (_meaningly_) It must be your dinner time now.

RUTH. (_in a muffled voice_) I’m coming, Mary. (_She wipes her eyes
quickly and, without looking at_ ROBERT, _comes and takes_ MARY’S
_hand--in a dead voice_) Come on and I’ll get your dinner for you. (_She
walks out left, her eyes fixed on the ground, the skipping_ MARY
_tugging at her hand_. ROBERT _waits a moment for them to get ahead and
then slowly follows as_

(_The Curtain Falls_)





_Same as Act Two, Scene One--The sitting room of the farm house about
six o’clock in the morning of a day toward the end of October five years
later. It is not yet dawn, but as the action progresses the darkness
outside the windows gradually fades to gray._

_The room, seen by the light of the shadeless oil lamp with a smoky
chimney which stands on the table, presents an appearance of decay, of
dissolution. The curtains at the windows are torn and dirty and one of
them is missing. The closed desk is gray with accumulated dust as if it
had not been used in years. Blotches of dampness disfigure the wall
paper. Threadbare trails, leading to the kitchen and outer doors, show
in the faded carpet. The top of the coverless table is stained with the
imprints of hot dishes and spilt food. The rung of one rocker has been
clumsily mended with a piece of plain board. A brown coating of rust
covers the unblacked stove. A pile of wood is stacked up carelessly
against the wall by the stove._

_The whole atmosphere of the room, contrasted with that of former years,
is one of an habitual poverty too hopelessly resigned to be any longer
ashamed or even conscious of itself._

_At the rise of the curtain_ RUTH _is discovered sitting by the stove,
with hands outstretched to the warmth as if the air in the room were
damp and cold. A heavy shawl is wrapped about her shoulders,
half-concealing her dress of deep mourning. She has aged horribly. Her
pale, deeply lined face has the stony lack of expression of one to whom
nothing more can ever happen, whose capacity for emotion has been
exhausted. When she speaks her voice is without timbre, low and
monotonous. The negligent disorder of her dress, the slovenly
arrangement of her hair, now streaked with gray, her muddied shoes run
down at the heel, give full evidence of the apathy in which she lives._

_Her mother is asleep in her wheel chair beside the stove toward the
rear, wrapped up in a blanket._

_There is a sound from the open bedroom door in the rear as if someone
were getting out of bed._ RUTH _turns in that direction, with a look of
dull annoyance. A moment later_ ROBERT _appears in the doorway, leaning
weakly against it for support. His hair is long and unkempt, his face
and body emaciated. There are bright patches of crimson over his check
bones and his eyes are burning with fever. He is dressed in corduroy
pants, a flannel shirt, and wears worn carpet slippers on his bare

RUTH. (_dully_) S-s-s-h-! Ma’s asleep.

ROBERT. (_speaking with an effort_) I won’t wake her. (_He walks weakly
to a rocker by the side of the table and sinks down in it exhausted_).

RUTH. (_staring at the stove_) You better come near the fire where it’s

ROBERT. No. I’m burning up now.

RUTH. That’s the fever. You know the doctor told you not to get up and
move round.

ROBERT. (_irritably_) That old fossil! He doesn’t know anything. Go to
bed and stay there--that’s his only prescription.

RUTH. (_indifferently_) How are you feeling now?

ROBERT. (_buoyantly_) Better! Much better than I’ve felt in ages. Really
I’m fine now--only very weak. It’s the turning point, I guess. From now
on I’ll pick up so quick I’ll surprise you--and no thanks to that old
fool of a country quack, either.

RUTH. He’s always tended to us.

ROBERT. Always helped us to die, you mean! He “tended” to Pa and Ma
and--(_his voice breaks_)--and to--Mary.

RUTH. (_dully_) He did the best he knew, I s’pose. (_After a pause_)
Well, Andy’s bringing a specialist with him when he comes. That ought to
suit you.

ROBERT. (_bitterly_) Is that why you’re waiting up all night?

RUTH. Yes.

ROBERT. For Andy?

RUTH. (_without a trace of feeling_) Somebody had got to. It’s only
right for someone to meet him after he’s been gone five years.

ROBERT. (_with bitter mockery_) Five years! It’s a long time.

RUTH. Yes.

ROBERT. (_meaningly_) To _wait_!

RUTH. (_indifferently_) It’s past now.

ROBERT. Yes, it’s past. (_After a pause_) Have you got his two telegrams
with you? (RUTH _nods_) Let me see them, will you? My head was so full
of fever when they came I couldn’t make head or tail to them.
(_Hastily_) But I’m feeling fine now. Let me read them again. (RUTH
_takes them from the bosom of her dress and hands them to him_).

RUTH. Here. The first one’s on top.

ROBERT. (_opening it_) New York. “Just landed from steamer. Have
important business to wind up here. Will be home as soon as deal is
completed.” (_He smiles bitterly_) Business first was always Andy’s
motto (_He reads_) “Hope you are all well. Andy.” (_He repeats
ironically_) “Hope you are all well!”

RUTH. (_dully_) He couldn’t know you’d been took sick till I answered
that and told him.

ROBERT. (_contritely_) Of course he couldn’t. I’m a fool. I’m touchy
about nothing lately. Just what did you say in your reply?

RUTH. (_inconsequentially_) I had to send it collect.

ROBERT. (_irritably_) What did you say was the matter with me?

RUTH. I wrote you had lung trouble.

ROBERT. (_flying into a petty temper_) You _are_ a fool! How often have
I explained to you that it’s _pleurisy_ is the matter with me. You can’t
seem to get it in your head that the pleura is outside the lungs, not in

RUTH. (_callously_) I only wrote what Doctor Smith told me.

ROBERT. (_angrily_) He’s a damned ignoramus!

RUTH. (_dully_) Makes no difference. I had to tell Andy something,
didn’t I?

ROBERT. (_after a pause, opening the other telegram_) He sent this last
evening. Let’s see. (_He reads_) “Leave for home on midnight train. Just
received your wire. Am bringing specialist to see Rob. Will motor to
farm from Port.” (_He calculates_) What time is it now?

RUTH. Round six, must be.

ROBERT. He ought to be here soon. I’m glad he’s bringing a doctor who
knows something. A specialist will tell you in a second that there’s
nothing the matter with my lungs.

RUTH. (_stolidly_) You’ve been coughing an awful lot lately.

ROBERT. (_irritably_) What nonsense! For God’s sake, haven’t you ever
had a bad cold yourself? (RUTH _stares at the stove in silence_. ROBERT
_fidgets in his chair. There is a pause. Finally_ ROBERT’S _eyes are
fixed on the sleeping_ MRS. ATKINS) Your mother is lucky to be able to
sleep so soundly.

RUTH. Ma’s tired. She’s been sitting up with me most of the night.

ROBERT. (_mockingly_) Is she waiting for Andy, too? (_There is a pause._
ROBERT _sighs_) I couldn’t get to sleep to save my soul. I counted ten
million sheep if I counted one. No use! I gave up trying finally and
just laid there in the dark thinking. (_He pauses, then continues in a
tone of tender sympathy_) I was thinking about you, Ruth--of how hard
these last years must have been for you. (_Appealingly_) I’m sorry,

RUTH. (_in a dead voice_) I don’t know. They’re past now. They were hard
on all of us.

ROBERT. Yes; on all of us but Andy. (_With a flash of sick jealousy_)
Andy’s made a big success of himself--the kind he wanted. (_Mockingly_)
And now he’s coming home to let us admire his greatness.
(_Frowning--irritably_) What am I talking about? My brain must be sick,
too. (_After a pause_) Yes, these years have been terrible for both of
us. (_His voice is lowered to a trembling whisper_) Especially the last
eight months since Mary--died. (_He forces back a sob with a convulsive
shudder--then breaks out in a passionate agony_) Our last hope of
happiness! I could curse God from the bottom of my soul--if there was a
God! (_He is racked by a violent fit of coughing and hurriedly puts his
handkerchief to his lips_).

RUTH. (_without looking at him_) Mary’s better off--being dead.

ROBERT. (_gloomily_) We’d all be better off for that matter. (_With a
sudden exasperation_) You tell that mother of yours she’s got to stop
saying that Mary’s death was due to a weak constitution inherited from
me. (_On the verge of tears of weakness_) It’s got to stop, I tell you!

RUTH. (_sharply_) S-h-h! You’ll wake her; and then she’ll nag at me--not

ROBERT. (_coughs and lies back in his chair weakly--a pause_) It’s all
because your mother’s down on me for not begging Andy for help.

RUTH. (_resentfully_) You might have. He’s got plenty.

ROBERT. How can _you_ of all people think of taking money from _him_?

RUTH. (_dully_) I don’t see the harm. He’s your own brother.

ROBERT. (_shrugging his shoulders_) What’s the use of talking to you?
Well, _I_ couldn’t. (_Proudly_) And I’ve managed to keep things going,
thank God. You can’t deny that without help I’ve succeeded in---- (_He
breaks off with a bitter laugh_) My God, what am I boasting of? Debts to
this one and that, taxes, interest unpaid! I’m a fool! (_He lies back in
his chair closing his eyes for a moment, then speaks in a low voice_)
I’ll be frank, Ruth. I’ve been an utter failure, and I’ve dragged you
with me. I couldn’t blame you in all justice--for hating me.

RUTH. (_without feeling_) I don’t hate you. It’s been my fault too, I

ROBERT. No. You couldn’t help loving--Andy.

RUTH. (_dully_) I don’t love anyone.

ROBERT. (_waving her remark aside_) You needn’t deny it. It doesn’t
matter. (_After a pause--with a tender smile_) Do you know Ruth, what
I’ve been dreaming back there in the dark? (_With a short laugh_) I was
planning our future when I get well. (_He looks at her with appealing
eyes as if afraid she will sneer at him. Her expression does not change.
She stares at the stove. His voice takes on a note of eagerness_) After
all, why shouldn’t we have a future? We’re young yet. If we can only
shake off the curse of this farm! It’s the farm that’s ruined our lives,
damn it! And now that Andy’s coming back--I’m going to sink my foolish
pride, Ruth! I’ll borrow the money from him to give us a good start in
the city. We’ll go where people live instead of stagnating, and start
all over again. (_Confidently_) I won’t be the failure there that I’ve
been here, Ruth. You won’t need to be ashamed of me there. I’ll prove to
you the reading I’ve done can be put to some use. (_Vaguely_) I’ll
write, or something of that sort. I’ve always wanted to write.
(_Pleadingly_) You’ll want to do that, won’t you, Ruth?

RUTH. (_dully_) There’s Ma.

ROBERT. She can come with us.

RUTH. She wouldn’t.

ROBERT. (_angrily_) So that’s your answer! (_He trembles with violent
passion. His voice is so strange that_ RUTH _turns to look at him in
alarm_) You’re lying, Ruth! Your mother’s just an excuse. You want to
stay here. You think that because Andy’s coming back that---- (_He
chokes and has an attack of coughing_).

RUTH. (_getting up--in a frightened voice_) What’s the matter? (_She
goes to him_) I’ll go with you, Rob. Stop that coughing for goodness’
sake! It’s awful bad for you. (_She soothes him in dull tones_) I’ll go
with you to the city--soon’s you’re well again. Honest I will, Rob, I
promise! (ROB _lies back and closes his eyes. She stands looking down at
him anxiously_) Do you feel better now?

ROBERT. Yes. (RUTH _goes back to her chair. After a pause he opens his
eyes and sits up in his chair. His face is flushed and happy_) Then you
_will_ go, Ruth?

RUTH. Yes.

ROBERT. (_excitedly_) We’ll make a new start, Ruth--just you and I. Life
owes us some happiness after what we’ve been through. (_Vehemently_) It
must! Otherwise our suffering would be meaningless--and that is

RUTH. (_worried by his excitement_) Yes, yes, of course, Rob, but you

ROBERT. Oh, don’t be afraid. I feel completely well, really I do--now
that I can hope again. Oh if you knew how glorious it feels to have
something to look forward to! Can’t you feel the thrill of it, too--the
vision of a new life opening up after all the horrible years?

RUTH. Yes, yes, but do be----

ROBERT. Nonsense! I won’t be careful. I’m getting back all my strength.
(_He gets lightly to his feet_) See! I feel light as a feather. (_He
walks to her chair and bends down to kiss her smilingly_) One kiss--the
first in years, isn’t it?--to greet the dawn of a new life together.

RUTH. (_submitting to his kiss--worriedly_) Sit down, Rob, for goodness’

ROBERT. (_with tender obstinacy--stroking her hair_) I won’t sit down.
You’re silly to worry. (_He rests one hand on the back of her chair_)
Listen. All our suffering has been a test through which we had to pass
to prove ourselves worthy of a finer realization. (_Exultingly_) And we
did pass through it! It hasn’t broken us! And now the dream is to come
true! Don’t you see?

RUTH. (_looking at him with frightened eyes as if she thought he had
gone mad_) Yes, Rob, I see; but won’t you go back to bed now and rest?

ROBERT. No. I’m going to see the sun rise. It’s an augury of good
fortune. (_He goes quickly to the window in the rear left, and pushing
the curtains aside, stands looking out._ RUTH _springs to her feet and
comes quickly to the table, left, where she remains watching_ ROBERT _in
a tense, expectant attitude. As he peers out his body seems gradually to
sag, to grow limp and tired. His voice is mournful as he speaks_) No sun
yet. It isn’t time. All I can see is the black rim of the damned hills
outlined against a creeping grayness. (_He turns around; letting the
curtains fall back, stretching a hand out to the wall to support
himself. His false strength of a moment has evaporated, leaving his face
drawn and hollow-eyed. He makes a pitiful attempt to smile_) That’s not
a very happy augury, is it? But the sun’ll come--soon. (_He sways

RUTH. (_hurrying to his side and supporting him_) Please go to bed,
won’t you, Rob? You don’t want to be all wore out when the specialist
comes, do you?

ROBERT. (_quickly_) No. That’s right. He mustn’t think I’m sicker than I
am. And I feel as if I could sleep now--(_Cheerfully_)--a good, sound,
restful sleep.

RUTH. (_helping him to the bedroom door_) That’s what you need most.
(_They go inside. A moment later she reappears calling back_) I’ll shut
this door so’s you’ll be quiet. (_She closes the door and goes quickly
to her mother and shakes her by the shoulder_) Ma! Ma! Wake up!

MRS. ATKINS. (_coming out of her sleep with a start_) Glory be! What’s
the matter with you?

RUTH. It was Rob. He’s just been talking to me out here. I put him back
to bed. (_Now that she is sure her mother is awake her fear passes and
she relapses into dull indifference. She sits down in her chair and
stares at the stove--dully_) He acted--funny; and his eyes looked so--so
wild like.

MRS. ATKINS. (_with asperity_) And is that all you woke me out of a
sound sleep for, and scared me near out of my wits?

RUTH. I was afraid. He talked so crazy. I couldn’t quiet him. I didn’t
want to be alone with him that way. Lord knows what he might do.

MRS. ATKINS. (_scornfully_) Humph! A help I’d be to you and me not able
to move a step! Why didn’t you run and get Jake?

RUTH. (_dully_) Jake isn’t here. He quit last night. He hasn’t been paid
in three months.

MRS. ATKINS. (_indignantly_) I can’t blame him. What decent person’d
want to work on a place like this? (_With sudden exasperation_) Oh, I
wish you’d never married that man!

RUTH. (_wearily_) You oughtn’t to talk about him now when he’s sick in
his bed.

MRS. ATKINS. (_working herself into a fit of rage_) You know very well,
Ruth Mayo, if it wasn’t for me helpin’ you on the sly out of my savin’s,
you’d both been in the poor house--and all ’count of his pigheaded
pride in not lettin’ Andy know the state thin’s were in. A nice thin’
for me to have to support him out of what I’d saved for my last
days--and me an invalid with no one to look to!

RUTH. Andy’ll pay you back, Ma. I can tell him so’s Rob’ll never know.

MRS. ATKINS. (_with a snort_) What’d Rob think you and him was livin’
on, _I_’d like to know?

RUTH. (_dully_) He didn’t think about it, I s’pose. (_After a slight
pause_) He said he’d made up his mind to ask Andy for help when he
comes. (_As a clock in the kitchen strikes six_) Six o’clock. Andy ought
to get here directly.

MRS. ATKINS. D’you think this special doctor’ll do Rob any good?

RUTH. (_hopelessly_) I don’t know. (_The two women remain silent for a
time staring dejectedly at the stove_).

MRS. ATKINS. (_shivering irritably_) For goodness’ sake put some wood on
that fire. I’m most freezin’!

RUTH. (_pointing to the door in the rear_) Don’t talk so loud. Let him
sleep if he can. (_She gets wearily from the chair and puts a few pieces
of wood in the stove_) This is the last of the wood. I don’t know who’ll
cut more now that Jake’s left. (_She sighs and walks to the window in
the rear, left, pulls the curtains aside, and looks out_) It’s getting
gray out. (_She comes back to the stove_) Looks like it’d be a nice day.
(_She stretches out her hands to warm them_) Must’ve been a heavy frost
last night. We’re paying for the spell of warm weather we’ve been
having. (_The throbbing whine of a motor sounds from the distance

MRS. ATKINS. (_sharply_) S-h-h! Listen! Ain’t that an auto I hear?

RUTH. (_without interest_) Yes. It’s Andy, I s’pose.

MRS. ATKINS. (_with nervous irritation_) Don’t sit there like a silly
goose. Look at the state of this room! What’ll this strange doctor think
of us? Look at that lamp chimney all smoke! Gracious sakes, Ruth----

RUTH. (_indifferently_) I’ve got a lamp all cleaned up in the kitchen.

MRS. ATKINS. (_peremptorily_) Wheel me in there this minute. I don’t
want him to see me looking a sight. I’ll lay down in the room the other
side. You don’t need me now and I’m dead for sleep. (RUTH _wheels her
mother off right. The noise of the motor grows louder and finally ceases
as the car stops on the road before the farmhouse._ RUTH _returns from
the kitchen with a lighted lamp in her hand which she sets on the table
beside the other. The sound of footsteps on the path is heard--then a
sharp rap on the door._ RUTH _goes and opens it._ ANDREW _enters,
followed by_ DOCTOR FAWCETT _carrying a small black bag._ ANDREW _has
changed greatly. His face seems to have grown highstrung, hardened by
the look of decisiveness which comes from being constantly under a
strain where judgments on the spur of the moment are compelled to be
accurate. His eyes are keener and more alert. There is even a suggestion
of ruthless cunning about them. At present, however, his expression is
one of tense anxiety._ DOCTOR FAWCETT _is a short, dark, middle-aged man
with a Vandyke beard. He wears glasses_).

RUTH. Hello, Andy! I’ve been waiting----

ANDREW. (_kissing her hastily_) I got here as soon as I could. (_He
throws of his cap and heavy overcoat on the table, introducing_ RUTH
_and the_ DOCTOR _as he does so. He is dressed in an expensive business
suit and appears stouter_) My sister-in-law, Mrs. Mayo--Doctor Fawcett.
(_They bow to each other silently._ ANDREW _casts a quick glance about
the room_) Where’s Rob?

RUTH. (_pointing_) In there.

ANDREW. I’ll take your coat and hat, Doctor. (_As he helps the_ DOCTOR
_with his things_) Is he very bad, Ruth?

RUTH. (_dully_) He’s been getting weaker.

ANDREW. Damn! This way, Doctor. Bring the lamp, Ruth. (_He goes into the
bedroom, followed by the_ DOCTOR _and_ RUTH _carrying the clean lamp_.
RUTH _reappears almost immediately closing the door behind her, and goes
slowly to the outside door, which she opens, and stands in the doorway
looking out. The sound of_ ANDREW’S _and_ ROBERT’S _voices comes from
the bedroom. A moment later_ ANDREW _re-enters, closing the door softly.
He comes forward and sinks down in the rocker on the right of table,
leaning his head on his hand. His face is drawn in a shocked expression
of great grief. He sighs heavily, staring mournfully in front of him._
RUTH _turns and stands watching him. Then she shuts the door and returns
to her chair by the stove, turning it so she can face him_).

ANDREW. (_glancing up quickly--in a harsh voice_) How long has this been
going on?

RUTH. You mean--how long has he been sick?

ANDREW. (_shortly_) Of course! What else?

RUTH. It was last summer he had a bad spell first, but he’s been ailin’
ever since Mary died--eight months ago.

ANDREW. (_harshly_) Why didn’t you let me know--cable me? Do you want
him to die, all of you? I’m damned if it doesn’t look that way! (_His
voice breaking_) Poor old chap! To be sick in this out-of-the-way hole
without anyone to attend to him but a country quack! It’s a damned

RUTH. (_dully_) I wanted to send you word once, but he only got mad when
I told him. He was too proud to ask anything, he said.

ANDREW. Proud? To ask _me_? (_He jumps to his feet and paces nervously
back and forth_) I can’t understand the way you’ve acted. Didn’t you see
how sick he was getting? Couldn’t you realize--why, I nearly dropped in
my tracks when I saw him! He looks--(_He shudders_)--terrible! (_With
fierce scorn_) I suppose you’re so used to the idea of his being
delicate that you took his sickness as a matter of course. God, if I’d
only known!

RUTH. (_without emotion_) A letter takes so long to get where you
were--and we couldn’t afford to telegraph. We owed everyone already, and
I couldn’t ask Ma. She’d been giving me money out of her savings till
she hadn’t much left. Don’t say anything to Rob about it. I never told
him. He’d only be mad at me if he knew. But I had to, because--God knows
how we’d have got on if I hadn’t.

ANDREW. You mean to say---- (_His eyes seem to take in the
poverty-stricken appearance of the room for the first time_) You sent
that telegram to me collect. Was it because---- (RUTH _nods silently._
ANDREW _pounds on the table with his fist_) Good God! And all this time
I’ve been--why I’ve had everything! (_He sits down in his chair and
pulls it close to_ RUTH’S--_impulsively_) But--I can’t get it through my
head. Why? Why? What has happened? How did it ever come about? Tell me!

RUTH. (_dully_) There’s nothing much to tell. Things kept getting worse,
that’s all--and Rob didn’t seem to care. He never took any interest
since way back when your Ma died. After that he got men to take charge,
and they nearly all cheated him--he couldn’t tell--and left one after
another. Then after Mary died he didn’t pay no heed to anything any
more--just stayed indoors and took to reading books again. So I had to
ask Ma if she wouldn’t help us some.

ANDREW. (_surprised and horrified_) Why, damn it, this is frightful! Rob
must be mad not to have let me know. Too proud to ask help of _me_!
What’s the matter with him in God’s name? (_A sudden, horrible suspicion
entering his mind_) Ruth! Tell me the truth. His mind hasn’t gone back
on him, has it?

RUTH. (_dully_) I don’t know. Mary’s dying broke him up terrible--but
he’s used to her being gone by this, I s’pose.

ANDREW. (_looking at her queerly_) Do you mean to say _you’re_ used to

RUTH. (_in a dead tone_) There’s a time comes--when you don’t mind any

ANDREW. (_looks at her fixedly for a moment--with great pity_) I’m
sorry, Ruth--if I seemed to blame you. I didn’t realize---- The sight of
Rob lying in bed there, so gone to pieces--it made me furious at
everyone. Forgive me, Ruth.

RUTH. There’s nothing to forgive. It doesn’t matter.

ANDREW. (_springing to his feet again and pacing up and down_) Thank God
I came back before it was too late. This doctor will know exactly what
to do. That’s the first thing to think of. When Rob’s on his feet again
we can get the farm working on a sound basis once more. I’ll see to
that--before I leave.

RUTH. You’re going away again?

ANDREW. I’ve got to.

RUTH. You wrote Rob you was coming back to stay this time.

ANDREW. I expected to--until I got to New York. Then I learned certain
facts that make it necessary. (_With a short laugh_) To be candid, Ruth,
I’m not the rich man you’ve probably been led to believe by my
letters--not now. I was when I wrote them. I made money hand over fist
as long as I stuck to legitimate trading; but I wasn’t content with
that. I wanted it to come easier, so like all the rest of the idiots, I
tried speculation. Oh, I won all right! Several times I’ve been almost a
millionaire--on paper--and then come down to earth again with a bump.
Finally the strain was too much. I got disgusted with myself and made up
my mind to get out and come home and forget it and really live again.
(_He gives a harsh laugh_) And now comes the funny part. The day before
the steamer sailed I saw what I thought was a chance to become a
millionaire again. (_He snaps his fingers_) That easy! I plunged. Then,
before things broke, I left--I was so confident I couldn’t be wrong. But
when I landed in New York--I wired you I had business to wind up, didn’t
I? Well, it was the business that wound me up! (_He smiles grimly,
pacing up and down, his hands in his pockets_).

RUTH. (_dully_) You found--you’d lost everything?

ANDREW. (_sitting down again_) Practically. (_He takes a cigar from his
pocket, bites the end off, and lights it_) Oh, I don’t mean I’m dead
broke. I’ve saved ten thousand from the wreckage, maybe twenty. But
that’s a poor showing for five years’ hard work. That’s why I’ll have to
go back. (_Confidently_) I can make it up in a year or so down
there--and I don’t need but a shoestring to start with. (_A weary
expression comes over his face and he sighs heavily_) I wish I didn’t
have to. I’m sick of it all.

RUTH. It’s too bad--things seem to go wrong so.

ANDREW. (_shaking off his depression--briskly_) They might be much
worse. There’s enough left to fix the farm O. K. before I go. I won’t
leave ’til Rob’s on his feet again. In the meantime I’ll make things fly
around here. (_With satisfaction_) I need a rest, and the kind of rest I
need is hard work in the open--just like I used to do in the old days.
(_Stopping abruptly and lowering his voice cautiously_) Not a word to
Rob about my losing money! Remember that, Ruth! You can see why. If he’s
grown so touchy he’d never accept a cent if he thought I was hard up;

RUTH. Yes, Andy. (_After a pause, during which_ ANDREW _puffs at his
cigar abstractedly, his mind evidently busy with plans for the future,
the bedroom door is opened and_ DOCTOR FAWCETT _enters, carrying a bag.
He closes the door quietly behind him and comes forward, a grave
expression on his face._ ANDREW _springs out of his chair_).

ANDREW. Ah, Doctor! (_He pushes a chair between his own and_ RUTH’S)
Won’t you have a chair?

FAWCETT. (_glancing at his watch_) I must catch the nine o’clock back to
the city. It’s imperative. I have only a moment. (_Sitting down and
clearing his throat--in a perfunctory, impersonal voice_) The case of
your brother, Mr. Mayo, is---- (_He stops and glances at_ RUTH _and says
meaningly to_ ANDREW) Perhaps it would be better if you and I----

RUTH. (_with dogged resentment_) I know what you mean, Doctor.
(_Dully_) Don’t be afraid I can’t stand it. I’m used to bearing trouble
by this; and I can guess what you’ve found out. (_She hesitates for a
moment--then continues in a monotonous voice_) Rob’s going to die.

ANDREW. (_angrily_) Ruth!

FAWCETT. (_raising his hand as if to command silence_) I am afraid my
diagnosis of your brother’s condition forces me to the same conclusion
as Mrs. Mayo’s.

ANDREW. (_groaning_) But, Doctor, surely----

FAWCETT. (_calmly_) Your brother hasn’t long to live--perhaps a few
days, perhaps only a few hours. It’s a marvel that he’s alive at this
moment. My examination revealed that both of his lungs are terribly

ANDREW. (_brokenly_) Good God! (RUTH _keeps her eyes fixed on her lap in
a trance-like stare_).

FAWCETT. I am sorry I have to tell you this. If there was anything that
could be done----

ANDREW. There isn’t anything?

FAWCETT. (_shaking his head_) It’s too late. Six months ago there might

ANDREW. (_in anguish_) But if we were to take him to the mountains--or
to Arizona--or----

FAWCETT. That might have prolonged his life six months ago. (ANDREW
_groans_) But now---- (_He shrugs his shoulders significantly_).

ANDREW. (_appalled by a sudden thought_) Good heavens, you haven’t told
him this, have you, Doctor?

FAWCETT. No. I lied to him. I said a change of climate---- (_He looks at
his watch again nervously_) I must leave you. (_He gets up_).

ANDREW. (_getting to his feet--insistently_) But there must still be
some chance----

FAWCETT. (_as if he were reassuring a child_) There is always that last
chance--the miracle. (_He puts on his hat and coat--bowing to_ RUTH)
Good-by, Mrs. Mayo.

RUTH. (_without raising her eyes--dully_) Good-by.

ANDREW. (_mechanically_) I’ll walk to the car with you, Doctor. (_They
go out of the door._ RUTH _sits motionlessly. The motor is heard
starting and the noise gradually recedes into the distance._ ANDREW
_re-enters and sits down in his chair, holding his head in his hands_)
Ruth! (_She lifts her eyes to his_) Hadn’t we better go in and see him?
God! I’m afraid to! I know he’ll read it in my face. (_The bedroom door
is noiselessly opened and_ ROBERT _appears in the doorway. His cheeks
are flushed with fever, and his eyes appear unusually large and
brilliant._ ANDREW _continues with a groan_) It can’t be, Ruth. It can’t
be as hopeless as he said. There’s always a fighting chance. We’ll take
Rob to Arizona. He’s _got_ to get well. There _must_ be a chance!

ROBERT. (_in a gentle tone_) Why must there, Andy? (RUTH _turns and
stares at him with terrified eyes_).

ANDREW. (_whirling around_) Rob! (_Scoldingly_) What are you doing out
of bed? (_He gets up and goes to him_) Get right back now and obey the
Doc, or you’re going to get a licking from me!

ROBERT. (_ignoring these remarks_) Help me over to the chair, please,

ANDREW. Like hell I will! You’re going right back to bed, that’s where
you’re going, and stay there! (_He takes hold of_ ROBERT’S _arm_).

ROBERT. (_mockingly_) Stay there ’til I die, eh, Andy? (_Coldly_) Don’t
behave like a child. I’m sick of lying down. I’ll be more rested sitting
up. (_As_ ANDREW _hesitates--violently_) I swear I’ll get out of bed
every time you put me there. You’ll have to sit on my chest, and that
wouldn’t help my health any. Come on, Andy. Don’t play the fool. I want
to talk to you, and I’m going to. (_With a grim smile_) A dying man has
some rights, hasn’t he?

ANDREW. (_with a shudder_) Don’t talk that way, for God’s sake! I’ll
only let you sit down if you’ll promise that. Remember. (_He helps_
ROBERT _to the chair between his own and_ RUTH’S) Easy now! There you
are! Wait, and I’ll get a pillow for you. (_He goes into the bedroom._
ROBERT _looks at_ RUTH _who shrinks away from him in terror_. ROBERT
_smiles bitterly_. ANDREW _comes back with the pillow which he places
behind_ ROBERT’S _back_) How’s that?

ROBERT. (_with an affectionate smile_) Fine! Thank you! (_As_ ANDREW
_sits down_) Listen, Andy. You’ve asked me not to talk--and I won’t
after I’ve made my position clear. (_Slowly_) In the first place I know
I’m dying. (RUTH _bows her head and covers her face with her hands. She
remains like this all during the scene between the two brothers_).

ANDREW. Rob! That isn’t so!

ROBERT. (_wearily_) It _is_ so! Don’t lie to me. After Ruth put me to
bed before you came, I saw it clearly for the first time. (_Bitterly_)
I’d been making plans for our future--Ruth’s and mine--so it came hard
at first--the realization. Then when the doctor examined me, I
knew--although he tried to lie about it. And then to make sure I
listened at the door to what he told you. So don’t mock me with fairy
tales about Arizona, or any such rot as that. Because I’m dying is no
reason you should treat me as an imbecile or a coward. Now that I’m sure
what’s happening I can say Kismet to it with all my heart. It was only
the silly uncertainty that hurt. (_There is a pause._ ANDREW _looks
around in impotent anguish, not knowing what to say_. ROBERT _regards
him with an affectionate smile_).

ANDREW. (_finally blurts out_) It isn’t foolish. You _have_ got a
chance. If you heard all the Doctor said that ought to prove it to you.

ROBERT. Oh, you mean when he spoke of the miracle? (_Dryly_) I don’t
believe in miracles--in my case. Besides, I know more than any doctor on
earth _could_ know--because I _feel_ what’s coming. (_Dismissing the
subject_) But we’ve agreed not to talk of it. Tell me about yourself,
Andy. That’s what I’m interested in. Your letters were too brief and far
apart to be illuminating.

ANDREW. I meant to write oftener.

ROBERT. (_with a faint trace of irony_) I judge from them you’ve
accomplished all you set out to do five years ago?

ANDREW. That isn’t much to boast of.

ROBERT. (_surprised_) Have you really, honestly reached that conclusion?

ANDREW. Well, it doesn’t seem to amount to much now.

ROBERT. But you’re rich, aren’t you?

ANDREW. (_with a quick glance at_ RUTH) Yes, I s’pose so.

ROBERT. I’m glad. You can do to the farm all I’ve undone. But what did
you do down there? Tell me. You went in the grain business with that
friend of yours?

ANDREW. Yes. After two years I had a share in it. I sold out last year.
(_He is answering_ ROBERT’S _questions with great reluctance_).

ROBERT. And then?

ANDREW. I went in on my own.

ROBERT. Still in grain?


ROBERT. What’s the matter? You look as if I were accusing you of

ANDREW. I’m proud enough of the first four years. It’s after that I’m
not boasting of. I took to speculating.

ROBERT. In wheat?


ROBERT. And you made money--gambling?


ROBERT. (_thoughtfully_) I’ve been wondering what the great change was
in you. (_After a pause_) You--a farmer--to gamble in a wheat pit with
scraps of paper. There’s a spiritual significance in that picture, Andy.
(_He smiles bitterly_) I’m a failure, and Ruth’s another--but we can
both justly lay some of the blame for our stumbling on God. But you’re
the deepest-dyed failure of the three, Andy. You’ve spent eight years
running away from yourself. Do you see what I mean? You used to be a
creator when you loved the farm. You and life were in harmonious
partnership. And now---- (_He stops as if seeking vainly for words_) My
brain is muddled. But part of what I mean is that your gambling with the
thing you used to love to create proves how far astray---- So you’ll be
punished. You’ll have to suffer to win back---- (_His voice grows weaker
and he sighs wearily_) It’s no use. I can’t say it. (_He lies back and
closes his eyes, breathing pantingly_).

ANDREW. (_slowly_) I think I know what you’re driving at, Rob--and it’s
true, I guess. (ROBERT _smiles gratefully and stretches out his hand,
which_ ANDREW _takes in his_).

ROBERT. I want you to promise me to do one thing, Andy, after----

ANDREW. I’ll promise anything, as God is my Judge!

ROBERT. Remember, Andy, Ruth has suffered double her share. (_His voice
faltering with weakness_) Only through contact with suffering, Andy,
will you--awaken. Listen. You must marry Ruth--afterwards.

RUTH. (_with a cry_) Rob! (ROBERT _lies back, his eyes closed, gasping
heavily for breath_).

ANDREW. (_making signs to her to humor him--gently_) You’re tired out,
Rob. You better lie down and rest a while, don’t you think? We can talk
later on.

ROBERT. (_with a mocking smile_) Later on! You always were an optimist,
Andy! (_He sighs with exhaustion_) Yes, I’ll go and rest a while. (_As_
ANDREW _comes to help him_) It must be near sunrise, isn’t it?

ANDREW. It’s after six.

ROBERT. (_As_ ANDREW _helps him into the bedroom_) Shut the door, Andy.
I want to be alone. (ANDREW _reappears and shuts the door softly. He
comes and sits down on his chair again, supporting his head on his
hands. His face is drawn with the intensity of his dry-eyed anguish_).

RUTH. (_glancing at him--fearfully_) He’s out of his mind now, isn’t he?

ANDREW. He may be a little delirious. The fever would do that. (_With
impotent rage_) God, what a shame! And there’s nothing we can do but
sit and--wait! (_He springs from his chair and walks to the stove_).

RUTH. (_dully_) He was talking--wild--like he used to--only this time it
sounded--unnatural, don’t you think?

ANDREW. I don’t know. The things he said to me had truth in them--even
if he did talk them way up in the air, like he always sees things.
Still---- (_He glances down at_ RUTH _keenly_) Why do you suppose he
wanted us to promise we’d---- (_Confusedly_) You know what he said.

RUTH. (_dully_) His mind was wandering, I s’pose.

ANDREW. (_with conviction_) No--there was something back of it.

RUTH. He wanted to make sure I’d be all right--after he’d gone, I

ANDREW. No, it wasn’t that. He knows very well I’d naturally look after
you without--anything like that.

RUTH. He might be thinking of--something happened five years back, the
time you came home from the trip.

ANDREW. What happened? What do you mean?

RUTH. (_dully_) We had a fight.

ANDREW. A fight? What has that to do with me?

RUTH. It was about you--in a way.

ANDREW. (_amazed_) About _me_?

RUTH. Yes, mostly. You see I’d found out I’d made a mistake about Rob
soon after we were married--when it was too late.

ANDREW. Mistake? (_Slowly_) You mean--you found out you didn’t love Rob?

RUTH. Yes.

ANDREW. Good God!

RUTH. And then I thought that when Mary came it’d be different, and I’d
love him; but it didn’t happen that way. And I couldn’t bear with his
blundering and book-reading--and I grew to hate him, almost.


RUTH. I couldn’t help it. No woman could. It had to be because I loved
someone else, I’d found out. (_She sighs wearily_) It can’t do no harm
to tell you now--when it’s all past and gone--and dead. _You_ were the
one I really loved--only I didn’t come to the knowledge of it ’til too

ANDREW. (_stunned_) Ruth! Do you know what you’re saying?

RUTH. It was true--then. (_With sudden fierceness_) How could I help it?
No woman could.

ANDREW. Then--you loved me--that time I came home?

RUTH. (_doggedly_) I’d known your real reason for leaving home the first
time--everybody knew it--and for three years I’d been thinking----

ANDREW. That I loved you?

RUTH. Yes. Then that day on the hill you laughed about what a fool you’d
been for loving me once--and I knew it was all over.

ANDREW. Good God, but I never thought---- (_He stops, shuddering at his
remembrance_) And did Rob----

RUTH. That was what I’d started to tell. We’d had a fight just before
you came and I got crazy mad--and I told him all I’ve told you.

ANDREW. (_gaping at her speechlessly for a moment_) You told Rob--you
loved me?

RUTH. Yes.

ANDREW. (_shrinking away from her in horror_) You--you--you mad fool,
you! How could you do such a thing?

RUTH. I couldn’t help it. I’d got to the end of bearing things--without

ANDREW. Then Rob must have known every moment I stayed here! And yet he
never said or showed--God, how he must have suffered! Didn’t you know
how much he loved you?

RUTH. (_dully_) Yes. I knew he liked me.

ANDREW. Liked you! What kind of a woman are you? Couldn’t you have kept
silent? Did you have to torture him? No wonder he’s dying! And you’ve
lived together for five years with this between you?

RUTH. We’ve lived in the same house.

ANDREW. Does he still think----

RUTH. I don’t know. We’ve never spoke a word about it since that day.
Maybe, from the way he went on, he s’poses I care for you yet.

ANDREW. But you don’t. It’s outrageous. It’s stupid! You don’t love me!

RUTH. (_slowly_) I wouldn’t know how to feel love, even if I tried, any

ANDREW. (_brutally_) And I don’t love you, that’s sure! (_He sinks into
his chair, his head between his hands_) It’s damnable such a thing
should be between Rob and me. Why, I love Rob better’n anybody in the
world and always did. There isn’t a thing on God’s green earth I
wouldn’t have done to keep trouble away from him. And I have to be the
very one--it’s damnable! How am I going to face him again? What can I
say to him now? (_He groans with anguished rage. After a pause_) He
asked me to promise--what am I going to do?

RUTH. You can promise--so’s it’ll ease his mind--and not mean anything.

ANDREW. What? Lie to him now--when he’s dying? (_Determinedly_) No! It’s
_you_ who’ll have to do the lying, since it must be done. You’ve got a
chance now to undo some of all the suffering you’ve brought on Rob. Go
in to him! Tell him you never loved me--it was all a mistake. Tell him
you only said so because you were mad and didn’t know what you were
saying! Tell him something, anything, that’ll bring him peace!

RUTH. (_dully_) He wouldn’t believe me.

ANDREW. (_furiously_) You’ve got to make him believe you, do you hear?
You’ve got to--now--hurry--you never know when it may be too late. (_As
she hesitates--imploringly_) For God’s sake, Ruth! Don’t you see you owe
it to him? You’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t.

RUTH. (_dully_) I’ll go. (_She gets wearily to her feet and walks slowly
toward the bedroom_) But it won’t do any good. (ANDREW’S _eyes are fixed
on her anxiously. She opens the door and steps inside the room. She
remains standing there for a minute. Then she calls in a frightened
voice_) Rob! Where are you? (_Then she hurries back, trembling with
fright_) Andy! Andy! He’s gone!

ANDREW. (_misunderstanding her--his face pale with dread_) He’s not----

RUTH. (_interrupting him--hysterically_) He’s gone! The bed’s empty. The
window’s wide open. He must have crawled out into the yard!

ANDREW. (_springing to his feet. He rushes into the bedroom and returns
immediately with an expression of alarmed amazement on his face_) Come!
He can’t have gone far! (_Grabbing his hat he takes_ RUTH’S _arm and
shoves her toward the door_) Come on! (_Opening the door_) Let’s hope to
God---- (_The door closes behind them, cutting off his words as_

(_The Curtain Falls_)



_Same as Act One, Scene One--A section of country highway. The sky to
the east is already alight with bright color and a thin, quivering line
of flame is spreading slowly along the horizon rim of the dark hills.
The roadside, however, is still steeped in the grayness of the dawn,
shadowy and vague. The field in the foreground has a wild uncultivated
appearance as if it had been allowed to remain fallow the preceding
summer. Parts of the snake-fence in the rear have been broken down. The
apple tree is leafless and seems dead._

ROBERT _staggers weakly in from the left. He stumbles into the ditch and
lies there for a moment; then crawls with a great effort to the top of
the bank where he can see the sun rise, and collapses weakly._ RUTH
_and_ ANDREW _come hurriedly along the road from the left._

ANDREW. (_stopping and looking about him_) There he is! I knew it! I
knew we’d find him here.

ROBERT. (_trying to raise himself to a sitting position as they hasten
to his side--with a wan smile_) I thought I’d given you the slip.

ANDREW. (_with kindly bullying_) Well you didn’t, you old scoundrel, and
we’re going to take you right back where you belong--in bed. (_He makes
a motion to lift_ ROBERT).

ROBERT. Don’t, Andy. Don’t, I tell you!

ANDREW. You’re in pain?

ROBERT. (_simply_) No. I’m dying. (_He falls back weakly._ RUTH _sinks
down beside him with a sob and pillows his head on her lap._ ANDREW
_stands looking down at him helplessly. ROBERT moves his head restlessly
on_ RUTH’S _lap_) I couldn’t stand it back there in the room. It seemed
as if all my life--I’d been cooped in a room. So I thought I’d try to
end as I might have--if I’d had the courage--alone--in a ditch by the
open road--watching the sun rise.

ANDREW. Rob! Don’t talk. You’re wasting your strength. Rest a while and
then we’ll carry you----

ROBERT. Still hoping, Andy? Don’t. I know. (_There is a pause during
which he breathes heavily, straining his eyes toward the horizon_) The
sun comes so slowly. (_With an ironical smile_) The doctor told me to go
to the far-off places--and I’d be cured. He was right. That was always
the cure for me. It’s too late--for this life--but---- (_He has a fit of
coughing which racks his body_).

ANDREW. (_with a hoarse sob_) Rob! (_He clenches his fist in an impotent
rage against Fate_) God! God! (RUTH _sobs brokenly and wipes_ ROBERT’S
_lips with her handkerchief_).

ROBERT. (_in a voice which is suddenly ringing with the happiness of
hope_) You mustn’t feel sorry for me. Don’t you see I’m happy at
last--free--free!--freed from the farm--free to wander on and
on--eternally! (_He raises himself on his elbow, his face radiant, and
points to the horizon_) Look! Isn’t it beautiful beyond the hills? I can
hear the old voices calling me to come---- (_Exultantly_) And this time
I’m going! It isn’t the end. It’s a free beginning--the start of my
voyage! I’ve won to my trip--the right of release--beyond the horizon!
Oh, you ought to be glad--glad--for my sake! (_He collapses weakly_)
Andy! (ANDREW _bends down to him_) Remember Ruth----

ANDREW. I’ll take care of her, I swear to you, Rob!

ROBERT. Ruth has suffered--remember, Andy--only through sacrifice--the
secret beyond there---- (_He suddenly raises himself with his last
remaining strength and points to the horizon where the edge of the sun’s
disc is rising from the rim of the hills_) The sun! (_He remains with
his eyes fixed on it for a moment. A rattling noise throbs from his
throat. He mumbles_) Remember! (_And falls back and is still._ RUTH
_gives a cry of horror and springs to her feet, shuddering, her hands
over her eyes._ ANDREW _bends on one knee beside the body, placing a
hand over_ ROBERT’S _heart, then he kisses his brother reverentially on
the forehead and stands up_).

ANDREW. (_facing_ RUTH, _the body between them--in a dead voice_) He’s
dead. (_With a sudden burst of fury_) God damn you, you never told him!

RUTH. (_piteously_) He was so happy without my lying to him.

ANDREW. (_pointing to the body--trembling with the violence of his
rage_) This is your doing, you damn woman, you coward, you murderess!

RUTH. (_sobbing_) Don’t, Andy! I couldn’t help it--and he knew how I’d
suffered, too. He told you--to remember.

ANDREW. (_stares at her for a moment, his rage ebbing away, an
expression of deep pity gradually coming over his face. Then he glances
down at his brother and speaks brokenly in a compassionate voice_)
Forgive me, Ruth--for his sake--and I’ll remember---- (RUTH _lets her
hands fall from her face and looks at him uncomprehendingly. He lifts
his eyes to hers and forces out falteringly_) I--you--we’ve both made a
mess of things! We must try to help each other--and--in time--we’ll come
to know what’s right---- (_Desperately_) And perhaps we---- (_But_ RUTH,
_if she is aware of his words, gives no sign. She remains silent, gazing
at him dully with the sad humility of exhaustion, her mind already
sinking back into that spent calm beyond the further troubling of any

(_The Curtain Falls_)

                   *       *       *       *       *

                            _The Plays by_

                            EUGENE O’NEILL

                         _in this series are_:

                     THE EMPEROR JONES            75c.
                     BEYOND THE HORIZON           75c.
                     WHERE THE CROSS IS MADE      55c.
                     IN THE ZONE                  35c.
                     ILE                          35c.


     The Dramatists Play Service issues a booklet, describing for
     non-professionals each of the O’Neill plays which it leases. This
     booklet will be sent free of charge. Address all inquiries to

                      THE DRAMATISTS PLAY SERVICE
                          6 East 39th Street
                             NEW YORK CITY

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