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Title: Plays
Author: Glaspell, Susan
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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Transcriber’s Notes:

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Additional Transcriber’s Notes are at the end.

       *       *       *       *       *



PLAYS


  BY SUSAN GLASPELL

  [Illustration]

  BOSTON
  SMALL, MAYNARD & COMPANY
  PUBLISHERS

       *       *       *       *       *

Copyright, 1920, BY SMALL, MAYNARD & COMPANY (INCORPORATED)

PRODUCTION OF ANY OF THE PLAYS HEREIN PRINTED MUST NOT BE MADE EXCEPT
BY WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR, WHO MAY BE ADDRESSED IN CARE OF
THE PUBLISHERS

PRESS OF GEO. H. ELLIS CO., BOSTON



CONTENTS


                                               PAGE

  TRIFLES. _A Play in One Act_                    1

  THE PEOPLE. _A Play in One Act_                31

  CLOSE THE BOOK. _A Comedy in One Act_          61

  THE OUTSIDE. _A Play in One Act_               97

  WOMAN’S HONOR. _A Comedy in One Act_          119

  BERNICE. _A Play in Three Acts_               157

  SUPPRESSED DESIRES. _A Comedy in Two Scenes_  231
    (IN COLLABORATION WITH GEORGE CRAM COOK)

  TICKLESS TIME. _A Comedy in One Act_          273
    (IN COLLABORATION WITH GEORGE CRAM COOK)

       *       *       *       *       *

TRIFLES

A PLAY IN ONE ACT

       *       *       *       *       *

First Performed by the Provincetown Players at the Wharf Theatre,
Provincetown, Mass., August 8, 1916

ORIGINAL CAST

  GEORGE HENDERSON, _County Attorney_    ROBERT ROGERS
  HENRY PETERS, _Sheriff_              ROBERT CONVILLE
  LEWIS HALE, _A Neighboring Farmer_  GEORGE CRAM COOK
  MRS. PETERS                               ALICE HALL
  MRS. HALE                             SUSAN GLASPELL



TRIFLES


SCENE: _The kitchen in the now abandoned farmhouse of JOHN WRIGHT, a
gloomy kitchen, and left without having been put in order--unwashed
pans under the sink, a loaf of bread outside the bread-box, a
dish-towel on the table--other signs of incompleted work. At the rear
the outer door opens and the SHERIFF comes in followed by the COUNTY
ATTORNEY and HALE. The SHERIFF and HALE are men in middle life, the
COUNTY ATTORNEY is a young man; all are much bundled up and go at once
to the stove. They are followed by the two women--the SHERIFF’S wife
first; she is a slight wiry woman, a thin nervous face. MRS. HALE is
larger and would ordinarily be called more comfortable looking, but she
is disturbed now and looks fearfully about as she enters. The women
have come in slowly, and stand close together near the door._

COUNTY ATTORNEY

[_Rubbing his hands._] This feels good. Come up to the fire, ladies.

MRS. PETERS

[_After taking a step forward._] I’m not--cold.

SHERIFF

[_Unbuttoning his overcoat and stepping away from the stove as if to
mark the beginning of official business._] Now, Mr. Hale, before we
move things about, you explain to Mr. Henderson just what you saw when
you came here yesterday morning.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

By the way, has anything been moved? Are things just as you left them
yesterday?

SHERIFF

[_Looking about._] It’s just the same. When it dropped below zero last
night I thought I’d better send Frank out this morning to make a fire
for us--no use getting pneumonia with a big case on, but I told him not
to touch anything except the stove--and you know Frank.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

Somebody should have been left here yesterday.

SHERIFF

Oh--yesterday. When I had to send Frank to Morris Center for that man
who went crazy--I want you to know I had my hands full yesterday. I
knew you could get back from Omaha by today and as long as I went over
everything here myself--

COUNTY ATTORNEY

Well, Mr. Hale, tell just what happened when you came here yesterday
morning.

HALE

Harry and I had started to town with a load of potatoes. We came along
the road from my place and as I got here I said, “I’m going to see if I
can’t get John Wright to go in with me on a party telephone.” I spoke
to Wright about it once before and he put me off, saying folks talked
too much anyway, and all he asked was peace and quiet--I guess you know
about how much he talked himself; but I thought maybe if I went to the
house and talked about it before his wife, though I said to Harry that
I didn’t know as what his wife wanted made much difference to John--

COUNTY ATTORNEY

Let’s talk about that later, Mr. Hale. I do want to talk about that,
but tell now just what happened when you got to the house.

HALE

I didn’t hear or see anything; I knocked at the door, and still it was
all quiet inside. I knew they must be up, it was past eight o’clock.
So I knocked again, and I thought I heard somebody say, “Come in.”
I wasn’t sure, I’m not sure yet, but I opened the door--this door
[_indicating the door by which the two women are still standing_] and
there in that rocker--[_pointing to it_] sat Mrs. Wright.

  [_They all look at the rocker._

COUNTY ATTORNEY

What--was she doing?

HALE

She was rockin’ back and forth. She had her apron in her hand and was
kind of--pleating it.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

And how did she--look?

HALE

Well, she looked queer.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

How do you mean--queer?

HALE

Well, as if she didn’t know what she was going to do next. And kind of
done up.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

How did she seem to feel about your coming?

HALE

Why, I don’t think she minded--one way or other. She didn’t pay much
attention. I said, “How do, Mrs. Wright, it’s cold, ain’t it?” And she
said, “Is it?”--and went on kind of pleating at her apron. Well, I was
surprised; she didn’t ask me to come up to the stove, or to set down,
but just sat there, not even looking at me, so I said, “I want to see
John.” And then she--laughed. I guess you would call it a laugh. I
thought of Harry and the team outside, so I said a little sharp: “Can’t
I see John?” “No,” she says, kind o’ dull like. “Ain’t he home?” says
I. “Yes,” says she, “he’s home.” “Then why can’t I see him?” I asked
her, out of patience. “’Cause he’s dead,” says she. “_Dead?_” says
I. She just nodded her head, not getting a bit excited, but rockin’
back and forth. “Why--where is he?” says I, not knowing what to say.
She just pointed upstairs--like that [_himself pointing to the room
above_]. I got up, with the idea of going up there. I walked from there
to here--then I says, “Why, what did he die of?” “He died of a rope
round his neck,” says she, and just went on pleatin’ at her apron.
Well, I went out and called Harry. I thought I might--need help. We
went upstairs and there he was lyin’--

COUNTY ATTORNEY

I think I’d rather have you go into that upstairs, where you can point
it all out. Just go on now with the rest of the story.

HALE

Well, my first thought was to get that rope off. It looked ... [_Stops,
his face twitches_] ... but Harry, he went up to him, and he said, “No,
he’s dead all right, and we’d better not touch anything.” So we went
back down stairs. She was still sitting that same way. “Has anybody
been notified?” I asked. “No,” says she, unconcerned. “Who did this,
Mrs. Wright?” said Harry. He said it business-like--and she stopped
pleatin’ of her apron. “I don’t know,” she says. “You don’t _know_?”
says Harry. “No,” says she. “Weren’t you sleepin’ in the bed with him?”
says Harry. “Yes,” says she, “but I was on the inside.” “Somebody
slipped a rope round his neck and strangled him and you didn’t wake
up?” says Harry. “I didn’t wake up,” she said after him. We must ’a
looked as if we didn’t see how that could be, for after a minute she
said, “I sleep sound.” Harry was going to ask her more questions but I
said maybe we ought to let her tell her story first to the coroner,
or the sheriff, so Harry went fast as he could to Rivers’ place, where
there’s a telephone.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

And what did Mrs. Wright do when she knew that you had gone for the
coroner?

HALE

She moved from that chair to this one over here [_Pointing to a
small chair in the corner_] and just sat there with her hands held
together and looking down. I got a feeling that I ought to make some
conversation, so I said I had come in to see if John wanted to put in a
telephone, and at that she started to laugh, and then she stopped and
looked at me--scared. [_The COUNTY ATTORNEY, who has had his notebook
out, makes a note._] I dunno, maybe it wasn’t scared. I wouldn’t like
to say it was. Soon Harry got back, and then Dr. Lloyd came, and you,
Mr. Peters, and so I guess that’s all I know that you don’t.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

[_Looking around._] I guess we’ll go upstairs first--and then out to
the barn and around there. [_To the SHERIFF._] You’re convinced that
there was nothing important here--nothing that would point to any
motive.

SHERIFF

Nothing here but kitchen things.

  [_The COUNTY ATTORNEY, after again looking around the kitchen, opens
    the door of a cupboard closet. He gets up on a chair and looks on a
    shelf. Pulls his hand away, sticky._

COUNTY ATTORNEY

Here’s a nice mess.

  [_The women draw nearer._

MRS. PETERS

[_To the other woman._] Oh, her fruit; it did freeze. [_To the
LAWYER._] She worried about that when it turned so cold. She said the
fire’d go out and her jars would break.

SHERIFF

Well, can you beat the women! Held for murder and worryin’ about her
preserves.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

I guess before we’re through she may have something more serious than
preserves to worry about.

HALE

Well, women are used to worrying over trifles.

  [_The two women move a little closer together._

COUNTY ATTORNEY

[_With the gallantry of a young politician._] And yet, for all their
worries, what would we do without the ladies? [_The women do not
unbend. He goes to the sink, takes a dipperful of water from the pail
and pouring it into a basin, washes his hands. Starts to wipe them on
the roller-towel, turns it for a cleaner place._] Dirty towels! [_Kicks
his foot against the pans under the sink._] Not much of a housekeeper,
would you say, ladies?

MRS. HALE

[_Stiffly._] There’s a great deal of work to be done on a farm.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

To be sure. And yet [_With a little bow to her_] I know there are some
Dickson county farmhouses which do not have such roller towels.

  [_He gives it a pull to expose its full length again._

MRS. HALE

Those towels get dirty awful quick. Men’s hands aren’t always as clean
as they might be.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

Ah, loyal to your sex, I see. But you and Mrs. Wright were neighbors. I
suppose you were friends, too.

MRS. HALE

[_Shaking her head._] I’ve not seen much of her of late years. I’ve not
been in this house--it’s more than a year.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

And why was that? You didn’t like her?

MRS. HALE

I liked her all well enough. Farmers’ wives have their hands full, Mr.
Henderson. And then--

COUNTY ATTORNEY

Yes--?

MRS. HALE

[_Looking about._] It never seemed a very cheerful place.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

No--it’s not cheerful. I shouldn’t say she had the homemaking instinct.

MRS. HALE

Well, I don’t know as Wright had, either.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

You mean that they didn’t get on very well?

MRS. HALE

No, I don’t mean anything. But I don’t think a place’d be any
cheerfuller for John Wright’s being in it.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

I’d like to talk more of that a little later. I want to get the lay of
things upstairs now.

  [_He goes to the left, where three steps lead to a stair door._

SHERIFF

I suppose anything Mrs. Peters does’ll be all right. She was to take
in some clothes for her, you know, and a few little things. We left in
such a hurry yesterday.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

Yes, but I would like to see what you take, Mrs. Peters, and keep an
eye out for anything that might be of use to us.

MRS. PETERS

Yes, Mr. Henderson.

  [_The women listen to the men’s steps on the stairs, then look about
    the kitchen._

MRS. HALE

I’d hate to have men coming into my kitchen, snooping around and
criticising.

  [_She arranges the pans under sink which the LAWYER had shoved out of
    place._

MRS. PETERS

Of course it’s no more than their duty.

MRS. HALE

Duty’s all right, but I guess that deputy sheriff that came out to make
the fire might have got a little of this on. [_Gives the roller towel a
pull._] Wish I’d thought of that sooner. Seems mean to talk about her
for not having things slicked up when she had to come away in such a
hurry.

MRS. PETERS

[_Who has gone to a small table in the left rear corner of the room,
and lifted one end of a towel that covers a pan._] She had bread set.

  [_Stands still._

MRS. HALE

[_Eyes fixed on a loaf of bread beside the bread-box, which is on a
low shelf at the other side of the room. Moves slowly toward it._]
She was going to put this in there. [_Picks up loaf, then abruptly
drops it. In a manner of returning to familiar things._] It’s a shame
about her fruit. I wonder if it’s all gone. [_Gets up on the chair
and looks._] I think there’s some here that’s all right, Mrs. Peters.
Yes--here; [_Holding it toward the window_] this is cherries, too.
[_Looking again._] I declare I believe that’s the only one. [_Gets
down, bottle in her hand. Goes to the sink and wipes it off on the
outside._] She’ll feel awful bad after all her hard work in the hot
weather. I remember the afternoon I put up my cherries last summer.

  [_She puts the bottle on the big kitchen table, center of the room.
    With a sigh, is about to sit down in the rocking-chair. Before she
    is seated realizes what chair it is; with a slow look at it, steps
    back. The chair which she has touched rocks back and forth._

MRS. PETERS

Well, I must get those things from the front room closet. [_She goes
to the door at the right, but after looking into the other room, steps
back._] You coming with me, Mrs. Hale? You could help me carry them.

  [_They go in the other room; reappear, MRS. PETERS carrying a dress
    and skirt, MRS. HALE following with a pair of shoes._

MRS. PETERS

My, it’s cold in there.

  [_She puts the clothes on the big table, and hurries to the stove._

MRS. HALE

[_Examining the skirt._] Wright was close. I think maybe that’s why
she kept so much to herself. She didn’t even belong to the Ladies Aid.
I suppose she felt she couldn’t do her part, and then you don’t enjoy
things when you feel shabby. She used to wear pretty clothes and be
lively, when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls singing in
the choir. But that--oh, that was thirty years ago. This all you was to
take in?

MRS. PETERS

She said she wanted an apron. Funny thing to want, for there isn’t much
to get you dirty in jail, goodness knows. But I suppose just to make
her feel more natural. She said they was in the top drawer in this
cupboard. Yes, here. And then her little shawl that always hung behind
the door. [_Opens stair door and looks._] Yes, here it is.

  [_Quickly shuts door leading upstairs._

MRS. HALE

[_Abruptly moving toward her._] Mrs. Peters?

MRS. PETERS

Yes, Mrs. Hale?

MRS. HALE

Do you think she did it?

MRS. PETERS

[_In a frightened voice._] Oh, I don’t know.

MRS. HALE

Well, I don’t think she did. Asking for an apron and her little shawl.
Worrying about her fruit.

MRS. PETERS

[_Starts to speak, glances up, where footsteps are heard in the room
above. In a low voice._] Mr. Peters says it looks bad for her. Mr.
Henderson is awful sarcastic in a speech and he’ll make fun of her
sayin’ she didn’t wake up.

MRS. HALE

Well, I guess John Wright didn’t wake when they was slipping that rope
under his neck.

MRS. PETERS

No, it’s strange. It must have been done awful crafty and still. They
say it was such a--funny way to kill a man, rigging it all up like that.

MRS. HALE

That’s just what Mr. Hale said. There was a gun in the house. He says
that’s what he can’t understand.

MRS. PETERS

Mr. Henderson said coming out that what was needed for the case was a
motive; something to show anger, or--sudden feeling.

MRS. HALE

[_Who is standing by the table._] Well, I don’t see any signs of anger
around here. [_She puts her hand on the dish towel which lies on the
table, stands looking down at table, one half of which is clean, the
other half messy._] It’s wiped to here. [_Makes a move as if to finish
work, then turns and looks at loaf of bread outside the breadbox.
Drops towel. In that voice of coming back to familiar things._] Wonder
how they are finding things upstairs. I hope she had it a little more
red-up up there. You know, it seems kind of _sneaking_. Locking her up
in town and then coming out here and trying to get her own house to
turn against her!

MRS. PETERS

But Mrs. Hale, the law is the law.

MRS. HALE

I s’pose ’tis. [_Unbuttoning her coat._] Better loosen up your things,
Mrs. Peters. You won’t feel them when you go out.

  [_MRS. PETERS takes off her fur tippet, goes to hang it on hook at
    back of room, stands looking at the under part of the small corner
    table._

MRS. PETERS

She was piecing a quilt.

  [_She brings the large sewing basket and they look at the bright
    pieces._

MRS. HALE

It’s log cabin pattern. Pretty, isn’t it? I wonder if she was goin’ to
quilt it or just knot it?

  [_Footsteps have been heard coming down the stairs. The SHERIFF
    enters followed by HALE and the COUNTY ATTORNEY._

SHERIFF

They wonder if she was going to quilt it or just knot it!

  [_The men laugh, the women look abashed._

COUNTY ATTORNEY

[_Rubbing his hands over the stove._] Frank’s fire didn’t do much up
there, did it? Well, let’s go out to the barn and get that cleared up.

  [_The men go outside._

MRS. HALE

[_Resentfully._] I don’t know as there’s anything so strange, our
takin’ up our time with little things while we’re waiting for them to
get the evidence. [_She sits down at the big table smoothing out a
block with decision._] I don’t see as it’s anything to laugh about.

MRS. PETERS

[_Apologetically._] Of course they’ve got awful important things on
their minds.

  [_Pulls up a chair and joins MRS. HALE at the table._

MRS. HALE

[_Examining another block._] Mrs. Peters, look at this one. Here, this
is the one she was working on, and look at the sewing! All the rest
of it has been so nice and even. And look at this! It’s all over the
place! Why, it looks as if she didn’t know what she was about!

  [_After she has said this they look at each other, then start to
    glance back at the door. After an instant MRS. HALE has pulled at a
    knot and ripped the sewing._

MRS. PETERS

Oh, what are you doing, Mrs. Hale?

MRS. HALE

[_Mildly._] Just pulling out a stitch or two that’s not sewed very
good. [_Threading a needle._] Bad sewing always made me fidgety.

MRS. PETERS

[_Nervously._] I don’t think we ought to touch things.

MRS. HALE

I’ll just finish up this end. [_Suddenly stopping and leaning
forward._] Mrs. Peters?

MRS. PETERS

Yes, Mrs. Hale?

MRS. HALE

What do you suppose she was so nervous about?

MRS. PETERS

Oh--I don’t know. I don’t know as she was nervous. I sometimes sew
awful queer when I’m just tired. [_MRS. HALE starts to say something,
looks at MRS. PETERS, then goes on sewing._] Well I must get these
things wrapped up. They may be through sooner than we think. [_Putting
apron and other things together._] I wonder where I can find a piece of
paper, and string.

MRS. HALE

In that cupboard, maybe.

MRS. PETERS

[_Looking in cupboard._] Why, here’s a bird-cage. [_Holds it up._] Did
she have a bird, Mrs. Hale?

MRS. HALE

Why, I don’t know whether she did or not--I’ve not been here for so
long. There was a man around last year selling canaries cheap, but I
don’t know as she took one; maybe she did. She used to sing real pretty
herself.

MRS. PETERS

[_Glancing around._] Seems funny to think of a bird here. But she must
have had one, or why would she have a cage? I wonder what happened to
it.

MRS. HALE

I s’pose maybe the cat got it.

MRS. PETERS

No, she didn’t have a cat. She’s got that feeling some people have
about cats--being afraid of them. My cat got in her room and she was
real upset and asked me to take it out.

MRS. HALE

My sister Bessie was like that. Queer, ain’t it?

MRS. PETERS

[_Examining the cage._] Why, look at this door. It’s broke. One hinge
is pulled apart.

MRS. HALE

[_Looking too._] Looks as if someone must have been rough with it.

MRS. PETERS

Why, yes.

  [_She brings the cage forward and puts it on the table._

MRS. HALE

I wish if they’re going to find any evidence they’d be about it. I
don’t like this place.

MRS. PETERS

But I’m awful glad you came with me, Mrs. Hale. It would be lonesome
for me sitting here alone.

MRS. HALE

It would, wouldn’t it? [_Dropping her sewing._] But I tell you what I
do wish, Mrs. Peters. I wish I had come over sometimes when _she_ was
here. I--[_Looking around the room_]--wish I had.

MRS. PETERS

But of course you were awful busy, Mrs. Hale--your house and your
children.

MRS. HALE

I could’ve come. I stayed away because it weren’t cheerful--and that’s
why I ought to have come. I--I’ve never liked this place. Maybe because
it’s down in a hollow and you don’t see the road. I dunno what it is,
but it’s a lonesome place and always was. I wish I had come over to see
Minnie Foster sometimes. I can see now--

  [_Shakes her head._

MRS. PETERS

Well, you mustn’t reproach yourself, Mrs. Hale. Somehow we just don’t
see how it is with other folks until--something comes up.

MRS. HALE

Not having children makes less work--but it makes a quiet house, and
Wright out to work all day, and no company when he did come in. Did you
know John Wright, Mrs. Peters?

MRS. PETERS

Not to know him; I’ve seen him in town. They say he was a good man.

MRS. HALE

Yes--good; he didn’t drink, and kept his word as well as most, I
guess, and paid his debts. But he was a hard man, Mrs. Peters. Just to
pass the time of day with him--[_Shivers._] Like a raw wind that gets
to the bone. [_Pauses, her eye falling on the cage._] I should think
she would ’a wanted a bird. But what do you suppose went with it?

MRS. PETERS

I don’t know, unless it got sick and died.

  [_She reaches over and swings the broken door, swings it again, both
    women watch it._

MRS. HALE

You weren’t raised round here, were you? [_MRS. PETERS shakes her
head._] You didn’t know--her?

MRS. PETERS

Not till they brought her yesterday.

MRS. HALE

She--come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird
herself--real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and--fluttery.
How?--she--did--change. [_Silence; then as if struck by a happy thought
and relieved to get back to every day things._] Tell you what, Mrs.
Peters, why don’t you take the quilt in with you? It might take up her
mind.

MRS. PETERS

Why, I think that’s a real nice idea, Mrs. Hale. There couldn’t
possibly be any objection to it, could there? Now, just what would I
take? I wonder if her patches are in here--and her things.

  [_They look in the sewing basket._

MRS. HALE

Here’s some red. I expect this has got sewing things in it. [_Brings
out a fancy box._] What a pretty box. Looks like something somebody
would give you. Maybe her scissors are in here. [_Opens box. Suddenly
puts her hand to her nose._] Why--[_MRS. PETERS bends nearer, then
turns her face away._] There’s something wrapped up in this piece of
silk.

MRS. PETERS

Why, this isn’t her scissors.

MRS. HALE

[_Lifting the silk._] Oh, Mrs. Peters--its--

  [_MRS. PETERS bends closer._

MRS. PETERS

It’s the bird.

MRS. HALE

[_Jumping up._] But, Mrs. Peters--look at it! Its neck! Look at its
neck! It’s all--other side _to_.

MRS. PETERS

Somebody--wrung--its--neck.

  [_Their eyes meet. A look of growing comprehension, of horror. Steps
    are heard outside. MRS. HALE slips box under quilt pieces, and
    sinks into her chair. Enter SHERIFF and COUNTY ATTORNEY. MRS.
    PETERS rises._

COUNTY ATTORNEY

[_As one turning from serious things to little pleasantries._] Well,
ladies, have you decided whether she was going to quilt it or knot it?

MRS. PETERS

We think she was going to--knot it.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

Well, that’s interesting, I’m sure. [_Seeing the bird-cage._] Has the
bird flown?

MRS. HALE

[_Putting more quilt pieces over the box._] We think the--cat got it.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

[_Preoccupied._] Is there a cat?

  [_MRS. HALE glances in a quick covert way at MRS. PETERS._

MRS. PETERS

Well, not _now_. They’re superstitious, you know. They leave.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

[_To SHERIFF PETERS, continuing an interrupted conversation._] No
sign at all of anyone having come from the outside. Their own rope.
Now let’s go up again and go over it piece by piece. [_They start
upstairs._] It would have to have been someone who knew just the--

  [_MRS. PETERS sits down. The two women sit there not looking at one
    another, but as if peering into something and at the same time
    holding back. When they talk now it is in the manner of feeling
    their way over strange ground, as if afraid of what they are
    saying, but as if they can not help saying it._

MRS. HALE

She liked the bird. She was going to bury it in that pretty box.

MRS. PETERS

[_In a whisper._] When I was a girl--my kitten--there was a boy took a
hatchet, and before my eyes--and before I could get there--[_Covers her
face an instant._] If they hadn’t held me back I would have--[_Catches
herself, looks upstairs where steps are heard, falters weakly_]--hurt
him.

MRS. HALE

[_With a slow look around her._] I wonder how it would seem never to
have had any children around. [_Pause._] No, Wright wouldn’t like the
bird--a thing that sang. She used to sing. He killed that, too.

MRS. PETERS

[_Moving uneasily._] We don’t know who killed the bird.

MRS. HALE

I knew John Wright.

MRS. PETERS

It was an awful thing was done in this house that night, Mrs. Hale.
Killing a man while he slept, slipping a rope around his neck that
choked the life out of him.

MRS. HALE

His neck. Choked the life out of him.

  [_Her hand goes out and rests on the bird-cage._

MRS. PETERS

[_With rising voice._] We don’t know who killed him. We don’t _know_.

MRS. HALE

[_Her own feeling not interrupted._] If there’d been years and years of
nothing, then a bird to sing to you, it would be awful--still, after
the bird was still.

MRS. PETERS

[_Something within her speaking._] I know what stillness is. When we
homesteaded in Dakota, and my first baby died--after he was two years
old, and me with no other then--

MRS. HALE

[_Moving._] How soon do you suppose they’ll be through, looking for the
evidence?

MRS. PETERS

I know what stillness is. [_Pulling herself back._] The law has got to
punish crime, Mrs. Hale.

MRS. HALE

[_Not as if answering that._] I wish you’d seen Minnie Foster when she
wore a white dress with blue ribbons and stood up there in the choir
and sang. [_A look around the room._] Oh, I _wish_ I’d come over here
once in a while! That was a crime! That was a crime! Who’s going to
punish that?

MRS. PETERS

[_Looking upstairs._] We mustn’t--take on.

MRS. HALE

I might have known she needed help! I know how things can be--for
women. I tell you, it’s queer, Mrs. Peters. We live close together and
we live far apart. We all go through the same things--it’s all just
a different kind of the same thing. [_Brushes her eyes, noticing the
bottle of fruit, reaches out for it._] If I was you I wouldn’t tell
her her fruit was gone. Tell her it _ain’t_. Tell her it’s all right.
Take this in to prove it to her. She--she may never know whether it was
broke or not.

MRS. PETERS

[_Takes the bottle, looks about for something to wrap it in; takes
petticoat from the clothes brought from the other room, very nervously
begins winding this around the bottle. In a false voice._] My, it’s a
good thing the men couldn’t hear us. Wouldn’t they just laugh! Getting
all stirred up over a little thing like a--dead canary. As if that
could have anything to do with--with--wouldn’t they _laugh_!

  [_The men are heard coming down stairs._

MRS. HALE

[_Under her breath._] Maybe they would--maybe they wouldn’t.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

No, Peters, it’s all perfectly clear except a reason for doing it. But
you know juries when it comes to women. If there was some definite
thing. Something to show--something to make a story about--a thing that
would connect up with this strange way of doing it--

  [_The women’s eyes meet for an instant. Enter HALE from outer door._

HALE

Well, I’ve got the team around. Pretty cold out there.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

I’m going to stay here a while by myself. [_To the SHERIFF._] You can
send Frank out for me, can’t you? I want to go over everything. I’m not
satisfied that we can’t do better.

SHERIFF

Do you want to see what Mrs. Peters is going to take in?

  [_The LAWYER goes to the table, picks up the apron, laughs._

COUNTY ATTORNEY

Oh, I guess they’re not very dangerous things the ladies have picked
out. [_Moves a few things about, disturbing the quilt pieces which
cover the box. Steps back._] No, Mrs. Peters doesn’t need supervising.
For that matter, a sheriff’s wife is married to the law. Ever think of
it that way, Mrs. Peters?

MRS. PETERS

Not--just that way.

SHERIFF

[_Chuckling._] Married to the law. [_Moves toward the other room._] I
just want you to come in here a minute, George. We ought to take a look
at these windows.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

[_Scoffingly._] Oh, windows!

SHERIFF

We’ll be right out, Mr. Hale.

  [_HALE goes outside. The SHERIFF follows the COUNTY ATTORNEY into the
    other room. Then MRS. HALE rises, hands tight together, looking
    intensely at MRS. PETERS, whose eyes make a slow turn, finally
    meeting MRS. HALE’S. A moment MRS. HALE holds her, then her own
    eyes point the way to where the box is concealed. Suddenly MRS.
    PETERS throws back quilt pieces and tries to put the box in the bag
    she is wearing. It is too big. She opens box, starts to take bird
    out, cannot touch it, goes to pieces, stands there helpless. Sound
    of a knob turning in the other room. MRS. HALE snatches the box and
    puts it in the pocket of her big coat. Enter COUNTY ATTORNEY and
    SHERIFF._

COUNTY ATTORNEY

[_Facetiously._] Well, Henry, at least we found out that she was not
going to quilt it. She was going to--what is it you call it, ladies?

MRS. HALE

[_Her hand against her pocket._] We call it--knot it, Mr. Henderson.

  (CURTAIN)

       *       *       *       *       *

THE PEOPLE

A PLAY IN ONE ACT

       *       *       *       *       *

First performed by the Provincetown Players, New York, March 9, 1917

ORIGINAL CAST

  EDWARD WILLS, _Editor of_ “_The People_”  GEORGE CRAM COOK
  OSCAR TRIPP, _Associate Editor_             PENDLETON KING
  THE ARTIST                                   DONALD CORLEY
  SARA                                            NINA MOISE
  TOM HOWE, _Printer_                           LEWIS B. ELL
  THE BOY _from Georgia_                     LESLIE C. BEMIS
  THE MAN _from the Cape_                         IRA REMSEN
  THE WOMAN _from Idaho_                      SUSAN GLASPELL
  THE EARNEST APPROACH                           LEW PARRISH
  THE LIGHT TOUCH                              PIERRE LOVING
  THE FIREBRAND                                   HARRY KEMP
  THE PHILOSOPHER                         HUTCHINSON COLLINS



THE PEOPLE


SCENE: _The office of “The People,” a morning in March, 1917. There is
little furniture--a long table strewn with manuscripts and papers, a
desk. On the walls are revolutionary posters; wads of paper are thrown
about on the floor--the office of a publication which is radical and
poor. This is an inner office; at the rear is the door into the outer
one. OSCAR is seated at the table writing. TOM, a printer who loves
the cause--or the crowd--almost enough to print for it, comes from the
other room, a galley-proof in his hand._

TOM

Why are you writing?

OSCAR

[_Jauntily._] Because I am a writer.

TOM

But I thought you said there wasn’t going to be another issue of _The
People_.

OSCAR

[_With dignity._] I am writing.

TOM

There’s a woman here with a suit case.

OSCAR

What’s in it?

TOM

She wants to see the Editor.

OSCAR

[_After writing._] All right.

  [_TOM goes out and a moment later the woman appears. She is middle
    aged, wears plain clothes not in fashion. Her manner is a little
    shrinking and yet as she stands in the doorway looking about the
    bare room, her face is the face of one who has come a long way and
    reached a wonderful place._

THE WOMAN

This _is_ the office of _The People_?

OSCAR

Um-hum.

THE WOMAN

[_In a bated way._] I came to see the author of those wonderful words.

OSCAR

[_Rising._] Which wonderful words?

THE WOMAN

About moving toward the beautiful distances.

OSCAR

Oh. Those are Mr. Wills’ wonderful words.

  [_Begins to write as one who has lost interest._

THE WOMAN

Could I see him?

OSCAR

He isn’t here yet. He’s just back from California. Won’t be at the
office till a little later.

THE WOMAN

[_With excitement._] He has been to California? He has just ridden
across this country?

OSCAR

Yes. Long trip. He was very cross over the ’phone.

THE WOMAN

Oh--no. I think you’re mistaken.

OSCAR

Anything you care to see me about?

THE WOMAN

[_After considering._] I could see him a little later, couldn’t I?

OSCAR

Yes, if its important. Of course he’ll be very busy.

THE WOMAN

It is important. At least--yes, it is important.

OSCAR

Very well then--later in the morning.

THE WOMAN

[_Thinking aloud._] I will stand down on the street and watch the
people go by.

OSCAR

What?

THE WOMAN

The people. It’s so wonderful to see them--so many of them. Don’t you
often just stand and watch them?

OSCAR

No, madam, not often. I am too busy editing a magazine about them.

THE WOMAN

Of course you are busy. You help edit this magazine?

  [_Looks about at the posters._

OSCAR

I am associate editor of _The People_.

THE WOMAN

That’s a great thing for you--and you so young. Does Mr. Wills write in
this room?

OSCAR

That is his desk.

THE WOMAN

[_Looking at the desk._] It must be a wonderful thing for you to write
in the same room with him.

OSCAR

Well, I don’t know; perhaps it is a wonderful thing for him to--I am
Oscar Tripp, the poet.

THE WOMAN

[_Wistfully._] It would be beautiful to be a poet. [_Pause._] I will
come back later.

  [_Picks up suit-case._

OSCAR

Just leave that if you aren’t going to be using it in the meantime.

THE WOMAN

[_Putting it down near the door._] Oh, thank you. I see you are a kind
young man.

OSCAR

That is not the general opinion.

THE WOMAN

I wonder why it is that the general opinion is so often wrong?

  [_Stands considering it for a moment, then goes out._

OSCAR

I don’t quite understand that woman.

  [_TOM comes back._

TOM

If this paper can’t go on, I ought to know it. I could get a job on
the _Evening World_. [_Oscar continues writing._] Can it go on?

OSCAR

I don’t see how it can, but many a time I haven’t seen how it
could--and it did. Doubtless it will go on, and will see days so much
worse than these that we will say, “Ah, the good old days of March,
1917.”

TOM

But can it pay salaries?

OSCAR

[_Shocked._] Oh, no, I think not; but we must work because we love our
work.

TOM

We must eat because we love our food.

OSCAR

You’ll know soon. There’s to be a meeting here this morning.

  [_Enter SARA. TOM goes into the other room. SARA has the appearance
    of a young business woman and the simple direct manner of a woman
    who is ready to work for a thing she believes in._

SARA

Ed not here yet?

OSCAR

No.

SARA

Did he get any money?

OSCAR

Doesn’t look like it. He was snappish over the phone. Guess he’s for
giving it up this time.

SARA

I don’t want to give it up.

  [_She takes a seat at the table where OSCAR is writing and unfolds a
    manuscript she has brought with her._

OSCAR

Well, it’s not what we want, it’s what people want, and there aren’t
enough of them who want us.

SARA

The fault must lie with us.

OSCAR

I don’t think so. The fault lies with the failure to--

  [_THE ARTIST has entered._

ARTIST

I’ll tell you where the fault lies. We should give more space to
pictures and less to stupid reading matter.

OSCAR

We have given too much expensive white paper to pictures and too little
to reading matter--especially to poetry. That’s where the fault lies.

  [_Enter EDWARD WILLS, editor._

ED

I’ll tell you where the fault lies. [_Points first to THE ARTIST, then
to OSCAR._] Here! Just this! Everybody plugging for his own thing.
Nobody caring enough about the thing as a whole.

OSCAR

[_Rising._] I’ll tell you where the fault lies. [_Points to ED._] Here!
This. The Editor-in-chief returning from a long trip and the first
golden words that fall from his lips words of censure for his faithful
subordinates.

SARA

How are you Ed?

ED

Rotten. I hate sleeping cars. I always catch cold.

SARA

Any luck?

ED

[_His hand around his ear._] What’s the word?

  [_Enter THE EARNEST APPROACH._

EARNEST APPROACH

I have heard that you may have to discontinue.

ED

[_Sitting down at his desk, beginning to look through his mail._] It
seems we might as well.

EARNEST APPROACH

Now just let me tell you what the trouble has been and how you can
remedy it. _The People_ has been afraid of being serious. But you deal
with ideas, and you must do it soberly. There is a place for a good
earnest journal of protest, but all this levity--this fooling--

  [_Enter THE LIGHT TOUCH._

LIGHT TOUCH

Came in to see you, Ed, to say I hope the news I’m hearing isn’t true.

ED

If it’s bad, it’s true.

LIGHT TOUCH

Well, it’s an awful pity, but you’ve been too damn serious. A lighter
touch--that’s what _The People_ needs. You’re as heavy as mud. Try it
awhile longer along frivolous lines. I was in the building and just ran
in to let you have my idea of what’s the matter with you.

OSCAR

If we had as many subscribers as we have people to tell us what’s the
matter with us--

  [_Enter PHILOSOPHER and FIREBRAND, TOM follows them in, a page of
    manuscript in his hand._

ED

Now the Philosopher and the Firebrand will tell us what’s the matter
with us.

FIREBRAND

Too damn bourgeois! You should print on the cover of every issue--“To
hell with the bourgeoisie!” Pigs!

PHILOSOPHER

The trouble with this paper is efficiency.

  [_This is too much for all of them. The PRINTER falls back against
    the wall, then staggers from the room._

ED

Dear God! There are things it seems to me I can _not_ bear.

PHILOSOPHER

It should be more carelessly done, and then it would be more
perfectly done. You should be less definite, and you would have more
definiteness. You should not know what it is you want, and then you
would find what you are after.

OSCAR

You talk as if we had not been a success. But just last night I heard
of a woman in Bronxville who keeps _The People_ under her bed so her
husband won’t know she’s reading it.

FIREBRAND

If you had been a success you would have fired that woman with so great
a courage that she would proudly prop _The People_ on the pillow!

ARTIST

[_Who is sketching THE FIREBRAND._] It was my pictures got us under the
bed.

OSCAR

[_Haughtily._] I was definitely told it was my last “Talk with God” put
us under the bed.

FIREBRAND

Can you not see that she puts you under the bed because you yourselves
have made concessions to the bourgeoisie? Cows! Geese!

ARTIST

It must be more frivolous!

OSCAR

It must print more poetry.

  [_They glare at one another._

EARNEST APPROACH

It should be more serious.

LIGHT TOUCH

It must be more frivolous!

  [_Enter THE BOY from Georgia--dressed like a freshman with a good
    allowance._

THE BOY

Is this the office of _The People_?

OSCAR

No, this is a lunatic asylum.

THE BOY

[_After a bewildered moment._] Oh, you’re joking. You know
[_Confidentially_], I wondered about that--whether you would joke here.
I thought you would. [_Stepping forward._] I came to see the Editor--I
want to tell him--

ED

So many people are telling me so many things, could you tell yours a
little later?

THE BOY

Oh, yes. Of course there must be many important things people have to
tell you.

ED

Well--many.

  [_THE BOY goes out--reluctantly._

ARTIST

[_Who has all the time been glaring at OSCAR._] Speaking for the
artists, I want to say right now--

OSCAR

Speaking for the writers, I wish to say before we go further--

EARNEST APPROACH

A more serious approach--

LIGHT TOUCH

A lighter touch--

FIREBRAND

Speaking for myself--

PHILOSOPHER

Speaking for the truth--

  [_Phone rings, OSCAR answers. Enter THE MAN from the Cape--slow,
    heavy._

ED

You have come to tell us something about this paper?

THE MAN

Yes.

ED

There are a number ahead of you. Will you wait your turn? [_A look of
disappointment._] I’ll be glad to see you as soon as I can. There in
the outside office?

  [_A moment THE MAN stands there, a mute ponderous figure, then very
    slowly goes out._

OSCAR

[_Hanging up receiver._] Moritz Paper Company. Bill got to be paid
today. And here--

  [_Takes from his drawer a huge packet of bills._

EARNEST APPROACH

You could pay your bills if you were not afraid to be serious!

LIGHT TOUCH

You could pay your bills if you were not afraid to be gay!

EARNEST APPROACH

[_From the door, solemnly._] A more earnest approach would save _The
People_.

LIGHT TOUCH

A lighter touch would turn the trick!

  [_With that they leave._

FIREBRAND

[_Going over and pounding on THE EDITOR’S desk._] To hell with the
bourgeoisie! Apes!

PHILOSOPHER

Efficiency has put out the spark.

ED

Well, as long as the spark appears to be good and out, may I, in the
name of efficiency, ask you who do not belong here to retire, that we
may go ahead with our work?

PHILOSOPHER

There would be greater efficiency in our remaining. There would be
form. You have lacked form.

FIREBRAND

You have lacked courage! Donkeys!

ED

It would be illuminating, Leo, to hear you run through the animal
kingdom--toads, crocodiles, a number of things you haven’t mentioned
yet, but the animal kingdom is large--and we have work to do.

PHILOSOPHER

You lack form in your work. By form I do not mean what you think I
mean. I mean that particular significance of the insignificant which is
the fundamental--

ED

We couldn’t understand it. Why tell us?

PHILOSOPHER

No. You couldn’t understand it.

  [_He leaves them to their fate._

FIREBRAND

Rest in peace. [_Gesture of benediction. Then hissingly._] Centipedes!

  [_He goes--leaving a laugh behind him._

ED

What’s the matter with us is our friends.

SARA

[_Quietly._] Well, to be or not to be. I guess it’s up to you, Ed.

ED

Just what would we be going on for? To make a few more people like
the dear ones who have just left us? Seems to me we could best serve
society by not doing that. Precisely what do we do?--aside from getting
under the bed in Bronxville. Now and then something particularly rotten
is put over and we have a story that gets a rise out of a few people,
but--we don’t change anything.

SARA

We had another hope. We were going to express ourselves so simply and
so truly that we would be expressing the people.

ED

[_Wearily._] The People. I looked at them all the way across this
continent. Oh, I got so tired looking at them--on farms, in towns, in
cities. They’re like toys that you wind up and they’ll run awhile. They
don’t want to be expressed. It would topple them over. The longer I
looked the more ridiculous it seemed to me that we should be giving our
lives to--[_Picks up the magazine and reads._] _The People_--“A Journal
of the Social Revolution.” Certainly we’d better cut the sub-title. The
social revolution is dead.

OSCAR

You don’t think you are bringing back any news, do you, Ed?

ARTIST

[_Taking up magazine._] Instead of a sub-title we could have a design.
Much better.

  [_Glares at OSCAR, then begins to draw._

SARA

This is a long way from what you felt a year ago, Ed. You had vision
then.

ED

You can’t keep vision in this office. It’s easy enough to have a
beautiful feeling about the human race when none of it is around. The
trouble about doing anything for your fellow-man is that you have to do
it with a few of them. Oh, of course that isn’t fair. We care. I’ll say
that for us. Even Oscar cares, or he wouldn’t work the way he has. But
what does our caring come to? It doesn’t connect up with anything, and
God knows it doesn’t seem to be making anything very beautiful of us.
There’s something rather pathetic about us.

OSCAR

Or is it merely ridiculous?

SARA

Let me read you something, Ed. [_She takes The People and reads very
simply._] “We are living now. We shall not be living long. No one can
tell us we shall live again. This is our little while. This is our
chance. And we take it like a child who comes from a dark room to which
he must return--comes for one sunny afternoon to a lovely hillside, and
finding a hole, crawls in there till after the sun is set. I want that
child to know the sun is shining upon flowers in the grass. I want him
to know it before he has to go back to the room that is dark. I wish I
had pipes to call him to the hilltop of beautiful distances. I myself
could see farther if he were seeing at all. Perhaps I can tell _you_:
you who have dreamed and dreaming know, and knowing care. Move! Move
from the things that hold you. If you move, others will move. Come!
Now. Before the sun goes down.” [_Very quietly._] You wrote that, Ed.

ED

Yes, I wrote it; and do you want to know why I wrote it? I wrote it
because I was sore at Oscar and wanted to write something to make him
feel ashamed of himself.

  [_While SARA is reading, THE WOMAN has appeared at the door, has
    moved a few steps into the room as if drawn by the words she is
    hearing. Behind her are seen THE BOY from Georgia, THE MAN from the
    Cape._

THE WOMAN

[_Moving forward._] I don’t believe that’s true! I don’t believe that’s
true! Maybe you think that’s why you wrote it, but it’s not the reason.
You wrote it because it’s the living truth, and it moved in you and you
had to say it.

ED

[_Rising._] Who are you?

THE WOMAN

I am one of the people. I have lived a long way off. I heard that call
and--I had to come.

THE BOY

[_Blithely._] I’ve come too. I’m from Georgia. I read it, and I didn’t
want to stay at school any longer. I said, “I want something different
and bigger--something more like this.” I heard about your not being
able to sell your paper on the newsstands just because lots of people
don’t want anything different and bigger, and I said to myself, “I’ll
sell the paper! I’ll go and sell it on the streets!” And I got so
excited about it that I didn’t even wait for the dance. There was a
dance that night, and I had my girl too.

THE WOMAN

He didn’t even wait for the dance.

OSCAR

The idealists are calling upon the intellectuals, and “calling” them.

ED

[_To THE MAN._] And what did you leave, my friend?

THE MAN

[_Heavily._] My oyster bed. I’m from the Cape. I had a chance to go in
on an oyster bed. I read what you wrote--a woman who had stopped in an
automobile left it, and I said to myself, “I’m nothing but an oyster
myself. Guess I’ll come to life.”

ED

But--what did you come here for?

THE MAN

Well--for the rest of it.

ED

The rest of what?

THE MAN

The rest of what you’ve got.

THE BOY

Yes--that’s it; we’ve come for the rest of what you’ve got.

OSCAR

This is awkward for Ed.

THE WOMAN

Give it to us.

ED

What?

THE WOMAN

The rest of it.

ED

[_An instant’s pause._] I haven’t got anything more to give.

THE BOY

But you made us think you had. You led us to believe you had.

THE WOMAN

And you have. If you hadn’t more to give, you couldn’t have given that.

OSCAR

Very awkward.

THE WOMAN

You said--“I call to _you_. You who have dreamed, and dreaming know,
and knowing care.” Well, three of us are here. From the South and the
East and the West we’ve come because you made us want something we
didn’t have, made us want it so much we had to move the way we thought
was toward it--before the sun goes down.

THE BOY

We thought people here had life--something different and bigger.

OSCAR

Perhaps we’d better go. Poor Ed.

ED

I wish you’d shut up, Oscar.

THE WOMAN

I know you will give it to us.

ED

Give _what_ to you?

THE WOMAN

What you have for the people. [_OSCAR coughs._] What you made us know
we need.

OSCAR

You shouldn’t have called personally. You should have sent in your
needs by mail.

ED

Oscar, try and act as if you had a soul.

THE WOMAN

I think he really has. [_A look at OSCAR--then, warmly._] At least he
has a heart. It’s only that he feels he must be witty. But you--you’re
not going to let us just go away again, are you? He gave up his oyster
bed, and this boy didn’t even wait for the dance, and me--I gave up my
tombstone.

ED

Your--?

THE WOMAN

Yes--tombstone. It had always been a saying in our family--“He won’t
even have a stone to mark his grave.” They said it so much that I
thought it meant something. I sew--plain sewing, but I’ve often said to
myself--“Well, at least I’ll have a stone to mark my grave.” And then,
there was a man who had been making speeches to the miners--I live in a
town in Idaho--and he had your magazine, and he left it in the store,
and the storekeeper said to me, when I went there for thread--“Here,
you like to read. Don’t you want this? I wish you’d take it away,
because if some folks in this town see it, they’ll think I’m not all I
should be.” He meant the cover.

ARTIST

[_Brightening._] That was my cover.

THE WOMAN

[_After a smile at THE ARTIST._] So I took it home, and when my work
was done that night, I read your wonderful words. They’re like a
spring--if you’ve lived in a dry country, you’ll know what I mean. And
they made me know that my tombstone was as dead as--well, [_With a
little laugh_] as dead as a tombstone. So I had to have something to
take its place.

SARA

[_Rising and going to THE WOMAN._] Talk to him. Tell him about it.
Come, Oscar!

THE BOY

As long as there seems to be so much uncertainty about this, perhaps
I’d better telegraph father. You see, the folks don’t know where I am.
I just came.

THE WOMAN

He didn’t even stay for the dance.

THE BOY

I’ll be glad to sell the papers. [_Seeing a pile of them on the
table._] Here, shall I take these?--and I’ll stop people on the street
and tell _why_ I’m selling them.

OSCAR

No, you can’t do that. You’d be arrested.

THE WOMAN

Let him sell them. What’s the difference about the law, if you have the
right idea?

OSCAR

The right idea has given us trouble enough already.

THE MAN

There’s something sure about an oyster bed.

OSCAR

You come with me and have a drink. Something sure about that too.

THE WOMAN

He could have had a drink at home.

SARA

[_To ARTIST._] Coming, Joe? [_To THE BOY._] It was corking of you to
want to help us. We must talk about--

  [_All go out except THE WOMAN and THE EDITOR. A Pause._

THE WOMAN

I am sorry for you.

ED

Why?

THE WOMAN

[_Feeling her way and sadly._] Because you have the brain to say those
things, and not the spirit to believe them. I couldn’t say them, and
yet I’ve got something you haven’t got. [_With more sureness._] Because
I know the thing you said was true.

ED

Will you sit down?

THE WOMAN

No--I’ll go. [_Stands there uncertainly._] I don’t know why I should be
disappointed. I suppose it’s not fair to ask you to be as big as the
truth you saw. Why should I expect you would be?

ED

I’m sorry. I suppose now you’ll regret your tombstone.

THE WOMAN

No--it was wonderful to ride across this country and see all the
people. The train moving along seemed to make something move in me. I
had thoughts not like any thoughts I’d ever had before--your words like
a spring breaking through the dry country of my mind. I thought of how
you call your paper “A Journal of The Social Revolution,” and I said
to myself--This is the Social Revolution! Knowing that your tombstone
doesn’t matter! _Seeing_--that’s the Social Revolution.

ED

Seeing--?

THE WOMAN

[_As if it is passing before her._] A plain, dark trees off at the
edge, against the trees a little house and a big barn. A flat piece of
land fenced in. Stubble, furrows. Horses waiting to get in at the barn;
cows standing around a pump. A tile yard, a water tank, one straight
street of a little town. The country so still it seems dead. The trees
like--hopes that have been given up. The grave yards--on hills--they
come so fast. I noticed them first because of my tombstone, but I got
to thinking about the people--the people who spent their whole lives
right near the places where they are now. There’s something in the
thought of them--like the cows standing around the pump. So still, so
patient, it--kind of hurts. And their pleasures:--a flat field fenced
in. Your great words carried me to other great words. I thought of
Lincoln, and what he said of a few of the dead. I said it over and
over. I said things and didn’t know the meaning of them ’till after
I had said them. I said--“The truth--the truth--the truth that opens
from our lives as water opens from the rocks.” Then I knew what that
truth was. [_Pause, with an intensity peculiarly simple._] “Let us
here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.” I
mean--all of them. [_A gesture, wide, loving._] Let life become what it
may become!--so beautiful that everything that is back of us is worth
everything it cost.

  [_Enter TOM._

TOM

I’ve got--[_Feeling something unusual._] Sorry to butt in, but I can
still get that job on _The Evening World_. If this paper is going to
stop, I’ve got to know it.

ED

Stop! This paper can’t stop!

TOM

Can’t stop! Last I heard, it couldn’t do anything else.

ED

That was--long ago.

TOM

Oh--you’ve got something to go on with?

ED

Yes, something to go on with.

TOM

I see. [_Looks at woman, as if he doesn’t see, glances at her
suit-case._] I’m glad. But--I’ve got to be sure. This--is the truth?

ED

The truth. The truth that opens from our lives as water opens from the
rocks.

  [_TOM backs up._

THE WOMAN

[_Turning a shining face to THE PRINTER._] Nobody really _needs_ a
tombstone!

  (CURTAIN)

       *       *       *       *       *

CLOSE THE BOOK

A COMEDY IN ONE ACT

       *       *       *       *       *

First Performed by the Provincetown Players, New York, Nov. 2, 1917

ORIGINAL CAST

  JHANSI                                           EDITH UNGER
  PEYTON ROOT, _an Instructor in the University_   JAMES LIGHT
  MRS. ROOT, PEYTON’S _Mother_                  SUSAN GLASPELL
  MRS. PEYTON, _His Grandmother_                  CLARA SAVAGE
  UNCLE GEORGE PEYTON,
    _President of the Board of Regents_       JUSTUS SHEFFIELD
  BESSIE ROOT                                  ALICE MACDOUGAL
  STATE SENATOR BYRD                                DAVID CARB
  MRS. STATE SENATOR BYRD                         ESTHER PINCH



CLOSE THE BOOK


SCENE: _The library in the ROOT home, the library of middle-western
people who are an important family in their community, a university
town, and who think of themselves as people of culture. It is a room
which shows pride of family: on the rear wall are two large family
portraits--one a Revolutionary soldier, the other a man of a later
period. On the low book-cases, to both sides of door rear, and on
the mantel, right, are miniatures and other old pictures. There is
old furniture--mahogany recently done over: an easy chair near the
fireplace, a divan left. A Winged Victory presides over one of the
book-cases, a Burne Jones is hung. It is a warmly lighted, cheerful
room--books and flowers about. At the rear is a door opening on the
hall, at the left a door into another room. There is a corner window
at the right. JHANSI and PEYTON are seated on the divan. MRS. ROOT is
just going into the hall. She seems perturbed. JHANSI is dressed as a
non-conformist, but attractively. PEYTON is a rather helpless young
man, with a sense of humor that is itself rather helpless._

MRS. ROOT

I’ll see, Peyton, if your grandmother isn’t ready to come down.

  [_She leaves them._

JHANSI

[_Springing up._] It’s absurd that I should be here!

PEYTON

I know, Jhansi, but just this once--as long as it means so much to
mother, and doesn’t really hurt us.

JHANSI

But it does hurt me, Peyton. These walls stifle me. You come of people
who have been walled in all their lives. It doesn’t cage you. But me--I
am a gypsy! Sometimes I feel them right behind me--all those wanderers,
people who were never caught; feel them behind me pushing me away from
all this!

PEYTON

But not pushing you away from me, dear. You love me, Jhansi, in spite
of my family?

JHANSI

If I didn’t love you do you think I could endure to come to this
dreadful place? [_A look about the comfortable room_]--and meet these
dreadful people? Forgive me for alluding to your home and family,
Peyton, but I must not lose my honesty, you know.

PEYTON

No, dear; I don’t think you are losing it. And perhaps I’d better
not lose mine either. There’s one thing I haven’t mentioned yet.
[_Hesitates._] Mr. Peyton is coming to dinner tonight.

JHANSI

Mr. Peyton. _What_ Peyton?

PEYTON

Yes--that one.

JHANSI

And you ask me--standing for the things I do in this university--to sit
down to dinner with the president of the board of regents!

PEYTON

Mother’d asked him before I knew it.

JHANSI

[_With scorn._] Your uncle!

PEYTON

He’s not my uncle--he’s mother’s. And you see it’s partly on account
of grandmother just getting back from California. He’s grandmother’s
brother-in-law, you know. I suppose she doesn’t realize what it means
to have to sit down to dinner with him--she’s done it so much. And then
mother thought it would be nice for you to meet him.

JHANSI

Nice!

PEYTON

He’s pleasant at dinner.

JHANSI

Pleasant!

PEYTON

Mother’s a little worried about my position in the university.

JHANSI

It would be wonderful for you to lose your position in the university.

PEYTON

Yes--wonderful.

JHANSI

And then you and I could walk forth free!

PEYTON

Free--but broke.

JHANSI

Peyton, you disappoint me. Just the fact that that man is coming to
dinner changes you.

PEYTON

Oh, no. But you are fortunately situated, Jhansi, having no people.
It’s easier to be free when there’s nobody who minds.

JHANSI

I am going!

PEYTON

Oh come now, dearest, you can’t go when you’re expected for dinner.
Nobody’s that free.

JHANSI

Dinner! A dinner to celebrate our engagement! It’s humiliating, Peyton.
I should take you by the hand and you and I should walk together down
the open road.

PEYTON

We will, Jhansi; we will--in time.

JHANSI

We should go now.

PEYTON

Think so? Mother’s going to have turkey.

JHANSI

Better a dinner of berries and nuts--!

PEYTON

We’ll have berries--cranberries, and nuts, too.

JHANSI

Where is my coat?

PEYTON

[_Seizing her and kissing her._] Some day, serene and unhampered, we’ll
take to the open road--a road with berries and nuts.

  [_GRANDMOTHER PEYTON and MRS. ROOT are at the door._

MRS. ROOT

Mother, this is Peyton’s friend Miss Mason. One of our important
students.

GRANDMOTHER

[_In her brittle way._] Yes? I never was a very important student
myself. I didn’t like to study. Because my family were professors, I
suppose.

MRS. ROOT

Peyton’s grandmother is a descendant of Gustave Phelps--one of the
famous teachers of pioneer days.

JHANSI

[_Her head going up._] I am a descendant of people who never taught
anybody anything!

PEYTON

Jhansi and I were just going to finish an article on Free Speech which
must get to the Torch this evening.

GRANDMOTHER

[_Moving toward the big chair near the fire._] Free Speech? How amusing.

PEYTON

You may be less amused some day, grandmother.

  [_JHANSI and PEYTON go into the other room._

GRANDMOTHER

That may be a free speech. I wouldn’t call it a pleasant one.

MRS. ROOT

[_Sinking to the divan._] Oh, he was speaking of the open road
again--berries and nuts--!

GRANDMOTHER

[_Beginning to knit._] Berries and nuts? Well, it sounds quite
innocuous to me. Some of our young people are less simple in their
tastes.

MRS. ROOT

[_In great distress._] Mother, how would you like to see your grandson
become a gypsy?

GRANDMOTHER

Peyton a gypsy? You mean in a carnival?

MRS. ROOT

No, not in a carnival! In _life_.

GRANDMOTHER

But he isn’t dark enough.

MRS. ROOT

And is _that_ the only thing against it! I had thought you would be a
help to me, mother.

GRANDMOTHER

Well, my dear Clara, I have no doubt I will be a help to you--in time.
This idea of Peyton becoming a gypsy is too startling for me to be a
help instantly. In the first place, could he be? You can’t be anything
you take it into your head to be--even if it is undesirable. And then,
why should he be? Doesn’t he still teach English right here in the
university?

MRS. ROOT

I don’t know how much longer he’ll teach it. He said the other day that
American literature was a toddy with the _stick_ left out. Saying that
of the very thing he’s paid to teach! It got in the papers and was
denounced in an editorial on “Untrue Americans.” Peyton--a descendant
of John Peyton of Valley Forge! [_Indicates the Revolutionary
portrait_]--denounced in an article on Untrue Americans! And in one of
those awful columns--those silly columns--they said maybe the stick
hadn’t been left out of his toddy. But it isn’t that. Peyton doesn’t
drink--to speak of. It’s this girl. _She’s_ the stick. And I tell you
people don’t like it, mother. It’s not what we pay our professors
_for_. Peyton used to be perfectly satisfied with civilization. But now
he talks about society. Makes light remarks.

GRANDMOTHER

I should say that was going out of his way to be disagreeable. What
business has a professor of English to say anything about society? It’s
not in his department.

MRS. ROOT

I told Peyton he should be more systematic.

GRANDMOTHER

How did this gypsy get here?

MRS. ROOT

She was brought up by a family named Mason. But it seems she was a
gypsy child, who got lost or something, and those Masons took her in.
I’m sure it was very good of them, and it’s too bad they weren’t able
to make her more of a Christian. She is coming to have a following in
the university! There are people who seem to think that because you’re
outside society you have some superior information about it.

GRANDMOTHER

Well, don’t you think you’re needlessly disturbed? In my day, a young
man would be likely enough to fall in love with a good-looking gypsy,
not very likely to marry her.

MRS. ROOT

Times have changed, mother. They marry them now. [_Both sigh._] Of
course, it’s very commendable of them.

GRANDMOTHER

[_Grimly._] Oh, quite--commendable.

MRS. ROOT

I was brought up in university circles. I’m interested in _ideas_. But
sometimes I think there are too _many_ ideas.

GRANDMOTHER

An embarrassment of riches. So you have set out to civilize the young
woman?

MRS. ROOT

I’d rather have her sit at my table than have my son leave some morning
in a covered wagon!

GRANDMOTHER

I wonder how it is about gypsies. About the children. I wonder if it’s
as it is with the negroes.

MRS. ROOT

_Mother!_

GRANDMOTHER

It would be startling, wouldn’t it?--if one of them should turn out to
be a real gypsy and take to this open road.

MRS. ROOT

[_Covering her face._] Oh!

GRANDMOTHER

Quite likely they’d do it by motor.

MRS. ROOT

[_Rising._] Mother!--how can you say such dreadful things--and just
when I have this _trying_ dinner. Oh, I wish Bessie would come! [_Goes
to the window._] She is a comfort to me.

GRANDMOTHER

Where is Bessie?

MRS. ROOT

She’s away in the motor. [_Again shudders._] Bessie feels dreadfully
about her brother. She is trying to do something. She said it would be
a surprise--a happy surprise. [_Someone heard in the hall._] Perhaps
this is Bessie. [_Enter MR. PEYTON._] Oh, it’s Uncle George.

UNCLE GEORGE

Early I know. Came to have a little visit with Elizabeth. [_Goes to
GRANDMOTHER and shakes hands._] How are you, young woman?

GRANDMOTHER

My nerves seem to be stronger than the nerves I see around me. And how
are you, George?

UNCLE GEORGE

Oh, I’m _well_.

GRANDMOTHER

But--?

UNCLE GEORGE

Responsibilities.

GRANDMOTHER

The bank?

UNCLE GEORGE

I’d rather run ten banks than a tenth of a university. You can control
money.

MRS. ROOT

I’m sorry, Uncle George, that Peyton should be adding to your worries.

UNCLE GEORGE

What’s the matter with Peyton?

GRANDMOTHER

Wild oats.

UNCLE GEORGE

Well, I wish he’d sow them in less intellectual fields.

MRS. ROOT

I am prepared to speak freely with you, Uncle George. The matter with
Peyton is this girl. Well, they’re going to be married. Yes [_Answering
his gesture of protest_] and I think it’s a good thing. She won’t be
in a position to say so much about freedom after she is married.

UNCLE GEORGE

But they say she’s a gypsy.

MRS. ROOT

She won’t be a gypsy after she’s Peyton’s wife. She’ll be a married
woman.

UNCLE GEORGE

Yes, but in the meantime we will have swallowed a gypsy.

GRANDMOTHER

And I was just wondering how it would be about the children.

MRS. ROOT

Mother, please don’t be indelicate again.

  [_Pause._

GRANDMOTHER

Well, if there’s nothing else we may speak of, let’s talk about free
speech. They’re writing a paper on it in there.

UNCLE GEORGE

I don’t know what this university is coming to! An institution of
learning! It isn’t that I don’t believe in free speech. Every true
American believes in free speech, but--

  [_Slight Pause._

GRANDMOTHER

[_With Emphasis._] Certainly.

UNCLE GEORGE

Ask them to come out here with their paper on free speech. I’ll be glad
to give them the benefit of my experience.

MRS. ROOT

Yes, it will be delightful to all be together.

  [_She goes to get PEYTON and JHANSI._

GRANDMOTHER

This girl doesn’t look to me like one who is thirsting for the benefit
of another person’s experience.

UNCLE GEORGE

She’s a bad influence. She’s leading our young people to criticise the
society their fathers have builded up.

GRANDMOTHER

There’s a great deal of ingratitude in the world.

  [_MRS. ROOT returns, followed by the two young people._

MRS. ROOT

I told Uncle George you were eager to bring him and Jhansi together.
Jhansi, this is Mr. Peyton, who looks after the affairs of the
university for you students. Of course you’ve heard about Miss Mason,
Uncle George, one of our--cleverest students.

UNCLE GEORGE

Yes, we were speaking of Miss Mason’s cleverness just the other day--in
board meeting.

JHANSI

And just the other day--at the student assembly--we were speaking of
how you look after the affairs of the university for us.

GRANDMOTHER

I hope you both spoke affectionately.

UNCLE GEORGE

Well, Peyton, very busy I take it. You’re adding to your duties, aren’t
you?

PEYTON

Not that I know of.

UNCLE GEORGE

Your grandmother said something about a high falutin paper on free
speech.

PEYTON

I suppose that’s an inherited tendency. You know one of my ancestors
signed a paper on free speech. It had a high falutin name: “The
Declaration of Independence”!

MRS. ROOT

I wish Bessie would come!

UNCLE GEORGE

Do you think much about your ancestors, Peyton?

PEYTON

Not a great deal.

UNCLE GEORGE

Peyton has some rather interesting ancestors, Miss Mason. There’s
Captain John Peyton. That’s his picture. He helped win one of the
battles which made this country possible--the country in which you
are living. And a descendant of John Peyton--Richard Peyton [_Points
out the picture_] gave the money which founded this university--the
university in which you are now acquiring your education.

JHANSI

[_Lightly._] Perhaps it would be quite as well if this university--and
this country--never had existed.

MRS. ROOT

I don’t see why Bessie _doesn’t_ come!

JHANSI

Of course I look at it as an outsider. I am not a part of your society.

UNCLE GEORGE

Peyton is.

MRS. ROOT

There’s Bessie!

  [_Bessie rushes in._

BESSIE

Grandmother! [_Swiftly kissing her._] How wonderful to have you with us
again! Dear Uncle George!

UNCLE GEORGE

Glad you got here, Bessie. Your mother has been looking for you.

BESSIE

[_A movement of greeting to JHANSI._] Isn’t it beautiful to all be
together? A real family party! And now--we have a moment or two before
dinner, mother?

MRS. ROOT

The man who brought the turkey in from the country had a runaway, so it
was a little late in arriving.

BESSIE

How fortunate! Oh, it does seem that all things work together for the
best. Mother, I have had a completely successful day!

GRANDMOTHER

Where’ve you been, Bessie?

BESSIE

I’ve been fifty miles to the north--in Baxter County. Does that mean
anything to you, Jhansi?

JHANSI

Not a thing.

BESSIE

[_Still breathlessly._] Dear uncle, I hope you will understand what I
am about to do. It might seem unrestrained--not in the best of taste,
but it’s just because you stand for so much in Peyton’s life that I
want you to hear our good news as soon as we hear it ourselves. You
knew that these two children were in love and going to be married.
[_A bow from UNCLE GEORGE._] You know--Jhansi dear, I may speak very
freely, may I not?

JHANSI

I believe in free speech.

BESSIE

Yes--how dear of you. Jhansi has endured in proud silence a great
grief. And now, dear child, because of the touching dignity with which
you have stood outside and alone, it is a moment of special joyfulness
to me when I can say--Welcome Within!

PEYTON

What are you talking about, Bessie?

BESSIE

You must not stand outside society! You belong _within_ the gates. You
are one of us!

JHANSI

I’m _not_.

BESSIE

Dear child you are as respectable as we are.

JHANSI

[_Rising._] I am _not_.

BESSIE

Of course, you can’t grasp it in an instant. But I have looked it all
up, dear. I have the proofs.

PEYTON

Well it wasn’t your affair, Bessie.

BESSIE

I made it my affair because I love my brother. Jhansi dear, [_As one
who tells tremendous good news_] your father was Henry Harrison, a
milkman in the town of Sunny Center--an honorable and respected man.
Your parents were married in the Baptist Church!

JHANSI

I deny it! I deny this charge!

BESSIE

[_Stepping to the hall._] Dear Senator and Mrs. Byrd, will you come now?

  [_Enter STATE SENATOR BYRD and MRS. STATE SENATOR BYRD, MRS. BYRD
    carrying a large book._

BESSIE

Jhansi dear, you are about to enter upon the happiest moment of your
life, for State Senator Byrd, one of our law-making body, is a cousin
of your dear dead mother.

SENATOR BYRD

Aggie’s little girl!

  [_He goes to JHANSI with outstretched hands. But AGGIE’S little girl
    stands like a rock._

BESSIE

And here, Jhansi, is your cousin Mrs. Byrd, who has come all this way
to assure you you have a family.

MRS. BYRD

Indeed you have! There’s Ella Andrews, one of our teachers--a lovely
girl. She’s your first cousin. We are second cousins. You may have
some little family pride in knowing that I was last spring elected
President of the Federated Clubs of Baxter County. Just last week I
entertained the officers of all the clubs at our home--our new home,
erected last year after your cousin Ephraim completed his first term in
the upper house of the State Legislature. Your cousin Ephraim has been
re-elected. He is on the Ways and Means Committee.

UNCLE GEORGE

[_Approaching SENATOR BYRD._] I have heard of Senator Ephraim Byrd of
the Ways and Means Committee. That was good work you fellows--

  [_They talk of this._

MRS. ROOT

And to think, Jhansi, that your cousin Mrs. Byrd is a prominent
clubwoman!

GRANDMOTHER

[_After a look at JHANSI._] Her cup runneth over.

MRS. ROOT

Isn’t Bessie wonderful, mother? How did you find it all out, Bessie?

BESSIE

From clue to clue I worked my way to Sunny Center. I would say to
myself--Do this for Peyton; do this for Jhansi. And so, I heard of an
old minister who had been there years and years. I went to him and--he
had married Jhansi’s father and mother! Dearest child, your mother
taught in his Sunday-School!

SENATOR BYRD

Oh, yes, Aggie loved the Baptist Sunday-School!

JHANSI

It’s very strange that my mother--I am referring to Mrs. Mason--never
told me of this!

BESSIE

But she never told you you were a gypsy, either, did she? No; she just
wanted you to think you were their own child. And then I suppose you
heard some foolish tale at school.

MRS. BYRD

You see Jhansi’s mother and father--her real ones--died of typhoid
fever before she was two years old. They got it from the cows. Well,
the Harrisons were friends of the Mason’s--they all worked together
in the church--and so they took Jhansi, and soon after that they
moved away and we lost track of them. You know what a busy world it
is--particularly for people who have duties in their community.

JHANSI

I haven’t accepted this story! You can’t prove it!

  [_MRS. BYRD impressively hands her husband the book._

SENATOR BYRD

“Iowa descendants of New England families.”

MRS. ROOT

Oh, yes; that is _one_ of the books in which our family is written up!
[_To PEYTON._] My dearest boy, from my heart I congratulate you!

SENATOR BYRD

Pages fifty-seven to sixty-one--inclusive, are devoted, Jhansi, to our
family.

MRS. BYRD

My own family appears on page 113.

  [_SENATOR BYRD holds the book out to JHANSI, who once more stands
    like a rock. UNCLE GEORGE steps forward to look at the book._

UNCLE GEORGE

Oh, you are a descendant of Peter Byrd.

SENATOR BYRD

One of those dare-devils whose leg was shot under him at Bull Run.

BESSIE

You heard that, Jhansi?

MRS. ROOT

A descendant of Peter Byrd!--whose leg was shot _under_ him--

JHANSI

So _this_ is what I was brought here for, is it? To have my character
torn down--to ruin my reputation and threaten my integrity by seeking
to muzzle me with a leg at Bull Run and set me down in the Baptist
Sunday-School in a milk-wagon! I see the purpose of it all. I
understand the hostile motive behind all this--but I tell you it’s a
_lie_. Something here [_Hand on heart_] tells me I am not respectable!

UNCLE GEORGE

Reaction.

JHANSI

I am Jhansi--Jhansi--a child of the gypsies! I am a wanderer! I am an
outlaw!

MRS. BYRD

Yes, you are Jhansi. And did you ever stop to think how you came by
that outlandish name?

JHANSI

It has always assured me of my birthright.

MRS. BYRD

Well, you’d better look in your geography. You were named after a town
in India where your mother’s missionary circle was helping to support a
missionary.

SENATOR BYRD

Aggie was crazy about the missionaries.

JHANSI

[_Falling back, breaking._] Peyton, I release you from our engagement.

PEYTON

No. N-o; don’t do that. [_Stoutly._] I love you for yourself alone--in
spite of anything that may be true. But I must say Bessie--!

JHANSI

[_Beginning to sob._] I can’t bear it. I can’t bear it! And to think
that _Peyton’s_ mother was an illegitimate child.

MRS. ROOT

[_Dazed._] What’s that?

GRANDMOTHER

[_Rising._] Yes; what is that?

MRS. ROOT

Am I to understand--?

GRANDMOTHER

Am I to be told--at my age--that I gave birth to an illegitimate child?
This is a surprise to me--and not a pleasant one!

PEYTON

[_To JHANSI._] It would have been better not to have mentioned that.

UNCLE GEORGE

This _is_ reaction. I think perhaps we need a physician.

JHANSI

I don’t need a physician. Peyton certainly told me that his mother was
an illegitimate child. Of course, Peyton, if you were just _boasting_
about your family--say so.

UNCLE GEORGE

What have you to say, Peyton?

GRANDMOTHER

Before he says anything, Bessie, you bring me that portfolio from the
lower right-hand corner of my desk. Key in the upper left hand pigeon
hole.

  [_Bessie goes._

MRS. ROOT

Peyton!

PEYTON

Why I didn’t mean any harm, mother. I certainly didn’t mean anything
against you, or grandmother. Quite the contrary. I was just anxious
that Jhansi should have a little respect for our family. It didn’t seem
to have a leg to stand on.

JHANSI

So you made it up--out of whole cloth?

PEYTON

No, not out of whole cloth.

GRANDMOTHER

Out of what cloth, then? Kindly tell me, out of what cloth?

MRS. ROOT

Peyton is not himself.

PEYTON

Well, it just came into my head that it was possible. You see,
grandmother, your having moved--I do wish you could see that I meant
nothing against your character. Absolutely the contrary. But your
having _moved_--

GRANDMOTHER

My having moved where?

PEYTON

Your having moved from New York State to Ohio at just that time--

GRANDMOTHER

I always did like to travel. Is that anything against a person’s
character?

PEYTON

I was claiming that you _had_ character.

GRANDMOTHER

I’ll stick to my own, thank you. I’ve had it quite a while and am used
to it. But I’d like to know right now what there is so immoral in
moving from one state to another--even if you are going to have a baby?

JHANSI

[_Raising her head._] There is nothing immoral in anything.

GRANDMOTHER

Fiddlesticks. [_BESSIE hands her the folio._] You found it, Bessie? The
key? Here, Peyton; come here. [_Opens portfolio, takes out a rolled
paper._] Happily preserved for this defense of my character in my old
age, is my wedding certificate.

MRS. BYRD

This is painful.

  [_With ostentatious tact she turns and looks at a print on the rear
    wall; motions SENATOR BYRD to join her._

GRANDMOTHER

I want you to look at the date--right there beside that pink
cupid--cherub, perhaps it is--anyway, read aloud the figures you see.

PEYTON

[_Sullenly._] 1869.

GRANDMOTHER

And here, in this other document, very fortunately at hand to meet the
attacks of my only grandson upon my integrity, what do you read there?

PEYTON

Clara--aged six weeks.

GRANDMOTHER

And the date?

  [_MRS. ROOT, BESSIE, UNCLE GEORGE, all listen a little anxiously._

PEYTON

December, 1871.

  [_A sigh of relief._

GRANDMOTHER

I trust now, Peyton, you will admit that a woman may move from one
state to another without being dissolute.

  [_At this word MRS. ROOT is unable to bear more and hides her face in
    her handkerchief._

UNCLE GEORGE

[_As one saving the situation._] Genealogy is interesting.
One is democratic, of course, but when there is behind
one what there is behind us, Senator, it enhances one’s
powers--responsibility--obligation. [_He has taken up the book and been
running through the pages._] Descendants of John Peyton. Here, Peyton,
are some things about your ancestors. Read them. Perhaps then instead
of tearing down you will have an impulse to build up. I commend this
book to you young people for study. It will do you no harm to think a
little of those worthy men from whom you come.

  [_Marks the place with a card and gives the book to PEYTON._

JHANSI

[_Springing up._] I shall waste no time thinking of the worthy men from
whom I come! If I am related to a law-maker--I owe it to my soul to
become a law-breaker!

MRS. ROOT

You see, Bessie, what you have done.

JHANSI

When I thought there was in me no taint of civilization, I could put up
with your silly conventions, but if in a material sense I am part of
your society, then I have a spiritual obligation to fulfil in leaving
it! Peyton, respectability threatens to wall us in and stifle us. Are
you ready to walk from this house with me tonight, entering upon a free
union that says that--[_A snap of the finger_] for law?

PEYTON

Why--certainly.

MRS. BYRD

_Well_, if it comes to a matter of not caring to claim relationship,
_we_ certainly hesitated some time. Those Harrisons were not all they
should be.

JHANSI

[_A note of hope in her voice._] No?

MRS. BYRD

I said to Senator Byrd, now that the girl is marrying into one of the
best families in the state--not that that influenced us especially, but
I said, if she is trying to make something of herself, we must stand by
her, and we will mention only pleasant things. We will not allude to
what her grandfather did!

JHANSI

What did he do?

SENATOR BYRD

He burned down his neighbor’s house because that neighbor chased home
his pigs.

JHANSI

_Really?_ Yes!--my grandfather would do that!

PEYTON

Were any of the family found in the charred remains?

SENATOR BYRD

The family, I believe, escaped.

MRS. BYRD

But no thanks to old man Harrison.

JHANSI

No!--I’m sure grandfather _meant_ them to burn. [_Seizing book._] I
wonder if grandfather’s protest is recorded in this book!

MRS. BYRD

That book does not emphasize unfortunate occurrences.

MRS. ROOT

And how right it is! One should think only of the _good_ in human
nature.

PEYTON

[_Looking with JHANSI._] What is this fine print at the bottom of the
page?

MRS. BYRD

[_Hastily._] That is not important.

SENATOR BYRD

It is in fine print because it is not important.

PEYTON

One of the descendants of Peter Byrd. [_To JHANSI._] The leg at Bull
Run, you know. He--

MRS. ROOT

Peyton, remember that you are in your own house.

PEYTON

“Unfaithful to the high office of treasurer of the Baxter County
Cemetery Association.”

JHANSI

[_Gasping, then beaming._] Why--why!--a _grave_ robber! Was he a _near_
relative?

MRS. BYRD

I must say, Miss Root, that we did not come here to have our family
inquired into as far back as ancient history!

MRS. ROOT

No, Mrs. Byrd, I quite agree with you that it is not necessary to go
too far back in any family.

GRANDMOTHER

Neither necessary nor desirable.

BESSIE

Those early days must have been very trying.

PEYTON

Jhansi! The fine print of your family is _thrilling_. Here is a man--

MRS. ROOT

Peyton, stop reading from that tiresome and obsolete book. It is not
hospitable.

MRS. BYRD

Turn to your own family history and read a little fine print in it!

  [_The other members of the PEYTON-ROOT family give each other
    startled, nervous glances._

PEYTON

Why what a lovely idea. Uncle has marked it for us. [_After looking._]
Fine print in our family?

MRS. BYRD

It’s there.

BESSIE

Genealogy is so confusing. I never could understand it.

MRS. ROOT

And I don’t see why one should _try_ to understand it. Live well in the
present--that is sufficient.

GRANDMOTHER

It looks to me as if that book was not thoughtfully edited. I’m
surprised it has sold.

PEYTON

[_Snatching book from JHANSI._] Jhansi! I don’t want to boast! I hope
I shall not become a snob. You too have a family--and they had their
impulsive moments--but what was the most _largely_ low-down thing a man
of early days could do? [_PEYTONS and ROOTS draw together anxiously;
the BYRDS wait complacently._] As uncle has pointed out, Jhansi, I am a
descendant of Captain John Peyton. But when you have a remote ancestor,
you also have his less remote descendants--a fact sometimes overlooked.
Well, Stuart Peyton--

BESSIE

Mother, I wonder if the turkey isn’t ready now?

MRS. ROOT

It’s time for it to be ready.

  [_She hurries out._

PEYTON

Stuart Peyton--“convicted of selling whiskey and firearms to the
Indians.”

  [_Assumes an overbearing attitude._

MRS. BYRD

I guess the early days were trying, in more than one family.

PEYTON

[_Peering into the book._] And what is this? What is _this_? Stuart
Peyton was the father of _Richard_ Peyton--

JHANSI

Who founded this university!

PEYTON

[_In the voice of UNCLE GEORGE._] The university in which you are now
acquiring your education.

MRS. BYRD

Oh, I have no doubt that inducing the Indians to massacre the whites
was _profitable_.

PEYTON

A good sound basis for the family fortune.

UNCLE GEORGE

Young man, you go too far!

PEYTON

[_Holding book out to UNCLE GEORGE._] In thinking of these worthy men
from whom I come? [_Turns to the wall on which hang portraits of John
and Richard Peyton._] We don’t seem to have Stuart’s picture. Jhansi, I
don’t know that we need to leave society. There seems little--crevices
in these walls of respectability.

JHANSI

And whenever we feel a bit stifled we can always find air through our
family trees!

MRS. BYRD

I think, Senator, that we will not remain longer.

  [_MRS. ROOT returns._

MRS. ROOT

Mary was just coming. Now we’ll have dinner!

BESSIE

Yes, a little family party to celebrate the happy--

PEYTON

[_Again bent over his family history._] Grandmother! Here’s something
about your ancestor, Gustave Phelps.

GRANDMOTHER

[_Rising. With weight._] Peyton--close that book.

  (CURTAIN)

       *       *       *       *       *

THE OUTSIDE

A PLAY IN ONE ACT

       *       *       *       *       *

First Performed by the Provincetown Players, December 28, 1917

ORIGINAL CAST

  CAPTAIN _of “The Bars” Life-Saving Station_,      ABRAM GILLETTE
  BRADFORD, _a Live-saver_                      HUTCHINSON COLLINS
  TONY, _a Portuguese Live-Saver_                        LOUIS ELL
  MRS. PATRICK, _who lives in the abandoned Station_      IDA RAUH
  ALLIE MAYO, _who works for her_                   SUSAN GLASPELL



THE OUTSIDE


SCENE: _A room in a house which was once a life-saving station. Since
ceasing to be that it has taken on no other character, except that of
a place which no one cares either to preserve or change. It is painted
the life-saving gray, but has not the life-saving freshness. This is
one end of what was the big boat room, and at the ceiling is seen a
part of the frame work from which the boat once swung. About two thirds
of the back wall is open, because of the big sliding door, of the type
of barn door, and through this open door are seen the sand dunes, and
beyond them the woods. At one point the line where woods and dunes meet
stands out clearly and there are indicated the rude things, vines,
bushes, which form the outer uneven rim of the woods--the only things
that grow in the sand. At another point a sand-hill is menacing the
woods. This old life-saving station is at a point where the sea curves,
so through the open door the sea also is seen._ [_The station is
located on the outside shore of Cape Cod, at the point, near the tip of
the Cape, where it makes that final curve which forms the Provincetown
Harbor._] _The dunes are hills and strange forms of sand on which, in
places, grows the stiff beach grass--struggle; dogged growing against
odds. At right of the big sliding door is a drift of sand and the top
of buried beach grass is seen on this. There is a door left, and at
right of big sliding door is a slanting wall. Door in this is ajar at
rise of curtain, and through this door BRADFORD and TONY, life-savers,
are seen bending over a man’s body, attempting to restore respiration.
The captain of the life-savers comes into view outside the big open
door, at left; he appears to have been hurrying, peers in, sees the
men, goes quickly to them._

CAPTAIN

I’ll take this now, boys.

BRADFORD

No need for anybody to take it, Capt’n. He was dead when we picked him
up.

CAPTAIN

Dannie Sears was dead when we picked him up. But we brought him back.
I’ll go on awhile.

  [_The two men who have been bending over the body rise, stretch to
    relax, and come into the room._

BRADFORD

[_Pushing back his arms and putting his hands on his chest._]
Work,--tryin’ to put life in the dead.

CAPTAIN

Where’d you find him, Joe?

BRADFORD

In front of this house. Not forty feet out.

CAPTAIN

What’d you bring him up here for?

  [_He speaks in an abstracted way, as if the working part of his mind
    is on something else, and in the muffled voice of one bending over._

BRADFORD

[_With a sheepish little laugh._] Force of habit, I guess. We brought
so many of ’em back up here. [_Looks around the room._] And then it was
kind of unfriendly down where he was--the wind spittin’ the sea onto
you till he’d have no way of knowin’ he was ashore.

TONY

Lucky I was not sooner or later as I walk by from my watch.

BRADFORD

You have accommodating ways, Tony. Not sooner or later. I wouldn’t say
it of many Portagees. But the sea [_Calling it in to the CAPTAIN_]
is friendly as a kitten alongside the women that live _here_. Allie
Mayo--they’re _both_ crazy--had that door open [_Moving his head toward
the big sliding door_] sweepin’ out, and when we come along she backs
off and stands lookin’ at us, _lookin’_--Lord, I just wanted to get him
somewhere else. So I kicked this door open with my foot [_Jerking his
hand toward the room where the CAPTAIN is seen bending over the man_]
and got him _away_. [_Under his voice._] If he did have any notion
of comin’ back to life, he wouldn’t a come if he’d seen her. [_More
genially._] _I_ wouldn’t.

CAPTAIN

You know who he is, Joe?

BRADFORD

I never saw him before.

CAPTAIN

Mitchell telephoned from High Head that a dory came ashore there.

BRADFORD

Last night wasn’t the _best_ night for a dory. [_To TONY, boastfully._]
Not that _I_ couldn’t ’a’ stayed in one. Some men can stay in a dory
and some can’t. [_Going to the inner door._] That boy’s dead, Capt’n.

CAPTAIN

Then I’m not doing him any harm.

BRADFORD

[_Going over and shaking the frame where the boat once swung._] This
the first time you ever been in this place, ain’t it, Tony?

TONY

I never was here before.

BRADFORD

Well, _I_ was here before. [_A laugh._] And the old man--[_Nodding
toward the CAPTAIN_] he lived here for twenty-seven years. Lord, the
things that happened _here_. There’ve been dead ones carried through
_that_ door. [_Pointing to the outside door._] Lord--the ones _I’ve_
carried. I carried in Bill Collins, and Lou Harvey and--huh! ’sall
over now. You ain’t seen no _wrecks_. Don’t ever think you have. I was
here the night the Jennie Snow was out there. [_Pointing to the sea._]
There was a _wreck_. We got the boat that stood here [_Again shaking
the frame_] down that bank. [_Goes to the door and looks out._]
Lord, how’d we ever do it? The sand has put this place on the blink
all right. And then when it gets too God-forsaken for a life-savin’
station, a lady takes it for a summer residence--and then spends the
winter. She’s cheerful one.

TONY

A woman--she makes things pretty. This not like a place where a woman
live. On the floor there is nothing--on the wall there is nothing.
Things--[_Trying to express it with his hands_] do not hang on other
things.

BRADFORD

[_Imitating TONY’S gesture._] No--things do not hang on other
things. In my opinion the woman’s crazy--sittin’ over there on the
sand--[_A gesture towards the dunes_] what’s she _lookin’_ at? There
ain’t nothin’ to _see_. And I know the woman that works for her’s
crazy--Allie Mayo. She’s a Provincetown girl. She was all right once,
but--

  [_MRS. PATRICK comes in from the hall at the right. She is a “city
    woman,” a sophisticated person who has been caught into something
    as unlike the old life as the dunes are unlike a meadow. At the
    moment she is excited and angry._

MRS. PATRICK

You have no right here. This isn’t the life-saving station any more.
Just because it used to be--I don’t see why you should think--This is
my house! And--I want my house to myself!

CAPTAIN

[_Putting his head through the door. One arm of the man he is working
with is raised, and the hand reaches through the doorway._] Well I must
say, lady, I would think that any house could be a life-saving station
when the sea had sent a man to it.

MRS. PATRICK

[_Who has turned away so she cannot see the hand._] I don’t want him
here! I--[_Defiant, yet choking_] I must have my house to myself!

CAPTAIN

You’ll get your house to yourself when I’ve made up my mind there’s no
more life in this man. A good many lives have been saved in this house,
Mrs. Patrick--I believe that’s your name--and if there’s any chance of
bringing one more back from the dead, the fact that you own the house
ain’t goin’ to make a damn bit of difference to me!

MRS. PATRICK

[_In a thin wild way._] I must have my house to myself.

CAPTAIN

Hell with such a woman!

  [_Moves the man he is working with and slams the door shut._

  [_As the CAPTAIN says_, “And if there’s any chance of bringing one
    more back from the dead,” _ALLIE MAYO has appeared outside the wide
    door which gives on the dunes, a bleak woman, who at first seems
    little more than a part of the sand before which she stands. But
    as she listens to this conflict one suspects in her that peculiar
    intensity of twisted things which grow in unfavoring places._

MRS. PATRICK

I--I don’t want them here! I must--

  [_But suddenly she retreats, and is gone._

BRADFORD

Well, I couldn’t say, Allie Mayo, that you work for any too
kind-hearted a lady. What’s the matter with the woman? Does she want
folks to die? Appears to break her all up to see somebody trying to
save a life. What d’ you work for such a fish for? A crazy fish--that’s
what I call the woman. I’ve seen her--day after day--settin’ over there
where the dunes meet the woods, just sittin’ there, lookin’. [_Suddenly
thinking of it._] I believe she _likes_ to see the sand slippin’ down
on the woods. Pleases her to see somethin’ gettin’ buried, I guess.

  [_ALLIE MAYO, who has stepped inside the door and moved half across
    the room, toward the corridor at the right, is arrested by this
    last--stands a moment as if seeing through something, then slowly
    on, and out._

BRADFORD

Some coffee’d taste good. But coffee, in this house? Oh, no. It might
make somebody feel better. [_Opening the door that was slammed shut._]
Want me now, Capt’n?

CAPTAIN

No.

BRADFORD

Oh, that boy’s dead, Capt’n.

CAPTAIN

[_Snarling._] Dannie Sears was dead, too. Shut that door. I don’t want
to hear that woman’s voice again, ever.

  [_Closing the door and sitting on a bench built into that corner
    between the big sliding door and the room where the CAPTAIN is._

BRADFORD

They’re a cheerful pair of women--livin’ in this cheerful place--a
place that life savers had to turn over to the sand--huh! This Patrick
woman used to be all right. She and her husband was summer folks over
in town. They used to picnic over here on the outside. It was Joe
Dyer--he’s always talkin’ to summer folks--told ’em the government
was goin’ to build the new station and sell this one by sealed bids.
I heard them talkin’ about it. They was sittin’ right down there on
the beach, eatin’ their supper. They was goin’ to put in a fire-place
and they was goin’ to paint it bright colors, and have parties over
here--summer folk notions. Their bid won it--who’d want it?--a buried
house you couldn’t move.

TONY

I see no bright colors.

BRADFORD

Don’t you? How astonishin’! You must be color blind. And I guess
_we’re_ the first party. [_Laughs._] I was in Bill Joseph’s grocery
store, one day last November, when in she comes--Mrs. Patrick, from
New York. “I’ve come to take the old life-saving station,” says she.
“I’m going to sleep over there tonight!” Huh! Bill is used to queer
ways--he deals with summer folks, but that got _him_. November--an
empty house, a buried house, you might say, off here on the outside
shore--way across the sand from man or beast. He got it out of her, not
by what she said, but by the way she looked at what he said, that her
husband had died, and she was runnin’ off to hide herself, I guess.
A person’d feel sorry for her if she weren’t so stand-offish, and so
doggon _mean_. But mean folks have got minds of their own. She slept
here that night. Bill had men hauling things till after dark--bed,
stove, coal. And then she wanted somebody to work for her. “Somebody,”
says she, “that doesn’t say an unnecessary word!” Well, when Bill come
to the back of the store, I said, “Looks to me as if Allie Mayo was the
party she’s lookin’ for.” Allie Mayo has got a prejudice against words.
Or maybe she likes ’em so well she’s savin’ of ’em. She’s not spoke an
unnecessary word for twenty years. She’s got her reasons. Women whose
men go to sea ain’t always talkative.

  [_The CAPTAIN comes out. He closes door behind him and stands there
    beside it. He looks tired and disappointed. Both look at him.
    Pause._

CAPTAIN

Wonder who he was.

BRADFORD

Young. Guess he’s not been much at sea.

CAPTAIN

I hate to leave even the dead in this house. But we can get right back
for him. [_A look around._] The old place used to be more friendly.
[_Moves to outer door, hesitates, hating to leave like this._] Well,
Joe, we brought a good many of them back here.

BRADFORD

Dannie Sears is tendin’ bar in Boston now.

  [_The three men go; as they are going around the drift of sand ALLIE
    MAYO comes in carrying a pot of coffee; sees them leaving, puts
    down the coffee pot, looks to the door the CAPTAIN has closed,
    moves toward it, as if drawn. MRS. PATRICK follows her in._

MRS. PATRICK

They’ve gone?

  [_MRS. MAYO nods, facing the closed door._

MRS. PATRICK

And they’re leaving--him? [_Again the other woman nods._] Then he’s--?
[_MRS. MAYO just stands there._] They have no right--just because it
used to be their place--! I want my house to myself!

  [_Snatches her coat and scarf from a hook and starts through the big
    door toward the dunes._

ALLIE MAYO

Wait.

  [_When she has said it she sinks into that corner seat--as if
    overwhelmed by what she has done. The other woman is held._

ALLIE MAYO

[_To herself._] If I could say that, I can say more. [_Looking at the
woman she has arrested, but speaking more to herself._] That boy in
there--his face--uncovered something--[_Her open hand on her chest. But
she waits, as if she cannot go on; when she speaks it is in labored
way--slow, monotonous, as if snowed in by silent years._] For twenty
years, I did what you are doing. And I can tell you--it’s not the
way. [_Her voice has fallen to a whisper; she stops, looking ahead at
something remote and veiled._] We had been married--two years. [_A
start, as of sudden pain. Says it again, as if to make herself say
it._] Married--two years. He had a chance to go north on a whaler.
Times hard. He had to go. A year and a half--it was to be. A year and a
half. Two years we’d been married.

  [_She sits silent, moving a little back and forth._

The day he went away. [_Not spoken, but breathed from pain._] The days
after he was gone.

I heard at first. Last letter said farther north--not another chance to
write till on the way home.

  [_A wait._

Six months. Another. I did not hear. [_Long wait._] Nobody ever heard.

[_After it seems she is held there, and will not go on._] I used to
talk as much as any girl in Provincetown. Jim used to tease me about my
talking. But they’d come in to talk to me. They’d say--“You may hear
_yet_.” They’d talk about what must have happened. And one day a woman
who’d been my friend all my life said--“Suppose he was to walk _in_!”
I got up and drove her from my kitchen--and from that time till this
I’ve not said a word I didn’t have to say. [_She has become almost
wild in telling this. That passes. In a whisper._] The ice that caught
Jim--caught me. [_A moment as if held in ice. Comes from it. To MRS.
PATRICK simply._] It’s not the way. [_A sudden change._] You’re not the
only woman in the world whose husband is dead!

MRS. PATRICK

[_With the cry of the hurt._] Dead? My husband’s not _dead_.

ALLIE MAYO

He’s _not_? [_Slowly understands._] Oh.

  [_The woman in the door is crying. Suddenly picks up her coat which
    has fallen to the floor and steps outside._

ALLIE MAYO

[_Almost failing to do it._] Wait.

MRS. PATRICK

Wait? Don’t you think you’ve said enough? They told me you didn’t say
an unnecessary word!

ALLIE MAYO

I don’t.

MRS. PATRICK

And you can see, I should think, that you’ve bungled into things you
know nothing about!

  [_As she speaks, and crying under her breath, she pushes the sand by
    the door down on the half buried grass--though not as if knowing
    what she is doing._

ALLIE MAYO

[_Slowly._] When you keep still for twenty years you know--things you
didn’t know you knew. I know why you’re doing that. [_She looks up at
her, startled._] Don’t bury the only thing that will grow. Let it grow.

  [_The woman outside still crying under her breath turns abruptly and
    starts toward the line where dunes and woods meet._

ALLIE MAYO

I know where you’re going! [_MRS. PATRICK turns, but not as if she
wants to._] What you’ll try to do. Over there. [_Pointing to the line
of woods._] Bury it. The life in you. Bury it--watching the sand bury
the woods. But I’ll tell you something! _They_ fight too. The woods!
They fight for life the way that Captain fought for life in there!

  [_Pointing to the closed door._

MRS. PATRICK

[_With a strange exultation._] And lose the way he lost in there!

ALLIE MAYO

[_Sure, sombre._] They don’t lose.

MRS. PATRICK

Don’t _lose_? [_Triumphant._] I have walked on the tops of buried trees!

ALLIE MAYO

[_Slow, sombre, yet large._] And vines will grow over the sand that
covers the trees, and hold it. And other trees will grow above the
buried trees.

MRS. PATRICK

I’ve watched the sand slip down on the vines that reach out farthest.

ALLIE MAYO

Another vine will reach that spot. [_Under her breath, tenderly._]
Strange little things that reach out farthest!

MRS. PATRICK

And will be buried soonest!

ALLIE MAYO

And hold the sand for things behind them. They save a wood that guards
a town.

MRS. PATRICK

I care nothing about a woods to guard a town. This is the
outside--these dunes where only beach grass grows, this outer shore
where men can’t live. The Outside. You who were born here and who die
here have named it that.

ALLIE MAYO

Yes, we named it that, and we had reason. He died here [_Reaches her
hand toward the closed door_] and many a one before him. But many
another reached the harbor! [_Slowly raises her arm, bends it to make
the form of the Cape. Touches the outside of her bent arm._] The
Outside. But an arm that bends to make a harbor--where men are safe.

MRS. PATRICK

I’m outside the harbor--on the dunes, land not life.

ALLIE MAYO

Dunes meet woods and woods hold dunes from a town that’s shore to a
harbor.

MRS. PATRICK

This is the Outside. Sand. [_Picking some of it up in her hand and
letting it fall on the beach grass._] Sand that _covers_--hills of sand
that move and cover.

ALLIE MAYO

Woods. Woods to hold the moving hills from Provincetown.
Provincetown--where they turn when boats can’t live at sea. Did you
ever see the sails come round here when the sky is dark? A line
of them--swift to the harbor--where their children live. Go back!
[_Pointing._] Back to your edge of the woods that’s the _edge of the
dunes_.

MRS. PATRICK

The edge of life. Where life trails off to dwarfed things not worth a
name.

  [_Suddenly sits down in the doorway._

ALLIE MAYO

Not worth a name. And--meeting the Outside!

  [_Big with the sense of the wonder of life._

MRS. PATRICK

[_Lifting sand and letting it drift through her hand._] They’re what
the sand will let them be. They take strange shapes like shapes of
blown sand.

ALLIE MAYO

Meeting the Outside. [_Moving nearer; speaking more personally._] I
know why you came here. To this house that had been given up; on this
shore where only savers of life try to live. I know what holds you on
these dunes, and draws you over there. But other things are true beside
the things you want to see.

MRS. PATRICK

How do you know they are? Where have you been for twenty years?

ALLIE MAYO

Outside. Twenty years. That’s why I know how brave _they_ are.
[_Indicating the edge of the woods. Suddenly different._] You’ll not
find peace there again! Go back and watch them _fight_!

MRS. PATRICK

[_Swiftly rising._] You’re a cruel woman--a hard, insolent woman! I
knew what I was doing! What do you know about it? About me? I didn’t
_go_ to the Outside. I was left there. I’m only--trying to get along.
Everything that can hurt me I want buried--buried deep. Spring is
here. This morning I _knew_ it. Spring--coming through the storm--to
take me--take me to hurt me. That’s why I couldn’t bear--[_She looks
at the closed door_] things that made me know I feel. You haven’t felt
for so long you don’t know what it means! But I tell you, Spring is
here! And now you’d take _that_ from me--[_Looking now toward the edge
of the woods_] the thing that made me know they would be buried in my
heart--those things I can’t _live_ and know I feel. You’re more cruel
than the sea! “But other things are true beside the things you want
to see!” Outside. Springs will come when I will not know that it is
spring. [_As if resentful of not more deeply believing what she says._]
What would there be for me but the Outside? What was there for you?
What did you ever find after you lost the thing you wanted?

ALLIE MAYO

I found--what I find now I know. The edge of life--to hold life behind
me--

  [_A slight gesture toward MRS. PATRICK._

MRS. PATRICK

[_Stepping back._] You call what you are life? [_Laughs._] Bleak as
those ugly things that grow in the sand!

ALLIE MAYO

[_Under her breath, as one who speaks tenderly of beauty._] Ugly!

MRS. PATRICK

[_Passionately._] I have _known_ life. I have known _life_. You’re like
this Cape. A line of land way out to sea--land not life.

ALLIE MAYO

A harbor far at sea. [_Raises her arm, curves it in as if around
something she loves._] Land that encloses and gives shelter from storm.

MRS. PATRICK

[_Facing the sea, as if affirming what will hold all else out._]
Outside sea. Outer shore. Dunes--land not life.

ALLIE MAYO

Outside sea--outer shore, dark with the wood that once was
ships--dunes, strange land not life--woods, town and harbor. The line!
Stunted straggly line that meets the Outside face to face--and fights
for what itself can never be. Lonely line. Brave growing.

MRS. PATRICK

It loses.

ALLIE MAYO

It wins.

MRS. PATRICK

The farthest life is buried.

ALLIE MAYO

And life grows over buried life! [_Lifted into that; then, as one who
states a simple truth with feeling._] It will. And Springs will come
when you will want to know that it is Spring.

  [_The CAPTAIN and BRADFORD appear behind the drift of sand. They have
    a stretcher. To get away from them MRS. PATRICK steps farther into
    the room; ALLIE MAYO shrinks into her corner. The men come in, open
    the closed door and go in the room where they left the dead man. A
    moment later they are seen outside the big open door, bearing the
    man away. MRS. PATRICK watches them from sight._

MRS. PATRICK

[_Bitter, exultant._] Savers of life! [_To ALLIE MAYO._] You savers of
life! “Meeting the Outside!” Meeting--[_But she cannot say it mockingly
again; in saying it, something of what it means has broken through,
rises. Herself lost, feeling her way into the wonder of life._] Meeting
the Outside!

  [_It grows in her as slowly._

  (CURTAIN)

       *       *       *       *       *

WOMAN’S HONOR

A COMEDY IN ONE ACT

       *       *       *       *       *

First Performed by the Provincetown Players, April 26, 1918

  MR. FOSTER, _The Lawyer_      JUSTUS SHEFFIELD
  GORDON WALLACE, _The Prisoner_   CLARK BRANYON
  BOY                              MURRAY COOPER
  THE SHIELDED ONE  }         {    MARJORY LACEY
  THE MOTHERLY ONE  }         {   DOROTHY UPJOHN
  THE SCORNFUL ONE  }   The   {         IDA RAUH
  THE SILLY ONE     }  Women  {     NORMA MILLAY
  THE MERCENARY ONE }         {  ALICE MACDOUGAL
  THE CHEATED ONE   }         {    SUSAN GASPELL



WOMAN’S HONOR


SCENE: _A room in the sheriff’s house which is used for conferences.
At the rear is a door into the hall, at the left a door leads to
an adjoining room. There is also a door at the right, going to the
corridor which connects this house with the jail._

_LAWYER and PRISONER are found in heated conversation. The prisoner,
an attractive young man, is seated, and has just turned away from the
LAWYER, irritated._

LAWYER

Do you know that murder is no laughing matter?

PRISONER

Well, was I laughing?

LAWYER

[_Shoots it at him._] Where were you on the night of October 25?
[_PRISONER sits like one who never means to speak again._] Your silence
shields a woman’s honor. Do you know what’s going to be said of you?
You’re going to be called old-fashioned! [_A worried look flits over
the prisoner’s face._] A man will not tell where he is because it
involves a woman’s honor! How quaint! [_In a different voice._] Say, do
you think she’s worth it?

  [_PRISONER rises angrily._

Yes, get red in the face, I should think you would. Blush. Blush for
shame. Shame of having loved a woman who’d let a man face death to
shield her own honor!

PRISONER

You don’t know what you’re talking about.

LAWYER

It’s just like a woman, the cowards. That’s what I most despise in
women. Afraid they won’t be looked upon as the pure noble sensitive
souls they spend their lives trying to make us believe they are.
Sickening!

PRISONER

There are things you don’t understand.

LAWYER

Oh, yes, I do. I suppose she’s got a husband. I suppose he’d divorce
her. Then she wouldn’t be asked out to tea quite so often. Good
Lord--die for something real!

PRISONER

You and I have different ideals, Mr. Foster. There are things we don’t
discuss.

LAWYER

There are things we have to discuss. If you insist upon this romantic
course, then at least we will have to get something out of _that_.

PRISONER

What do you mean?

LAWYER

Simply that public feeling has got to swing toward you or the jury
will say you murdered Erwalt. If we can’t have an alibi, let us by all
means have a hero!

PRISONER

[_Outraged._] Have you given out a story to the newspapers?

LAWYER

[_Drawing paper from his pocket._] Very delicately done. “A life for a
life.” Isn’t that moving? “While Gordon Wallace languishes in his cell,
some woman is safe in a shielded home. Charged with the murder of John
Erwalt, young Wallace fails to cut his chain of circumstantial evidence
with an alibi. Where was Gordon Wallace on the night of October 25?
He maintains a dogged silence. Behind that silence rests a woman’s
honor”--and so on, at some length.

PRISONER

You had no right to give out a story without my consent!

LAWYER

Oh, yes, I have. If I can’t get your consent for saving your life,
then, my young friend, I shall save it without your consent. Pardon my
rudeness.

PRISONER

How will this save it?

LAWYER

How little romantic young men know the romantic sex. Wives--including,
I hope, jurors’ wives--will cry, “Don’t let that chivalrous young
man die!” Women just love to have their honor shielded. It is very
touching to them.

PRISONER

Mr. Foster, I tell you again, I dislike your attitude toward women!
Laugh at me if you will, but I have respect and reverence for women.
I believe it is perfectly true that men must guard them. Call me a
romantic young fool if it pleases you, but I have had a mother--a
sister--sweetheart. Yes, I am ready to die to shield a woman’s honor!

  [_As he says this the door slowly opens and a woman steps in._

SHIELDED ONE

No! You shall not!

  [_Quite taken aback, the men stand looking at her. She has breeding,
    poise--obviously she has stepped out of a world where women are
    shielded. She maintains a front of her usual composure, but there
    is an intensity--an excitement--which indicates she is feeling
    some big new thing. LAWYER looks from her to the PRISONER, who is
    staring at the WOMAN._

LAWYER

[_To WOMAN._] Oh--you’ve come?

SHIELDED ONE

[_Firmly, but with emotion._] I have come.

PRISONER

I don’t understand.

LAWYER

You were not willing to let him die?

SHIELDED ONE

No.

LAWYER

Good. This young man--[_He pauses, embarrassed, for it does not seem a
thing to say to this lady_] was with you on the night of October 25?

SHIELDED ONE

Yes.

PRISONER

Why, no I wasn’t.

LAWYER

There is no use, Gordon, in trying to keep the lady from doing what she
has apparently determined to do.

SHIELDED ONE

No. You cannot keep me from doing what I have determined to do.

LAWYER

For my part, I respect you for it. Then you are prepared to testify
that on the night of October 25 Gordon Wallace was with you from twelve
o’clock midnight till eight next morning?

SHIELDED ONE

[_A little falteringly, yet fervent._] Yes.

LAWYER

Was with you--continuously?

SHIELDED ONE

Yes.

LAWYER

Your name is--?

  [_He takes out his note-book._

PRISONER

[_In distress._] Don’t give him your name! He’ll use it! I tell you
this is all a mistake. I don’t know this lady. I never saw her before.
[_To the WOMAN._] You mustn’t do this!

SHIELDED ONE

[_Proudly, and with relief._] I _have_ done it!

LAWYER

And as I said, madam, I greatly respect you for doing it. You are, if I
may say so, unlike most of your sex. Now--your name?

SHIELDED ONE

[_This is not easy for her._] Mrs. Oscar Duncan.

LAWYER

And Mrs. Duncan you live at--? [_A noise in the hall._] I fear some one
is coming in. Will you just step in here?

  [_He shows her into the room at the left. They hear the corridor door
    open and turn. A woman is coming in--rather plump, middle-aged--a
    pleasant, motherly looking woman. She looks from the LAWYER to the
    PRISONER, moves to get a better look at the young man, who becomes
    nervous under this scrutiny; then she seems to have it straight in
    her mind, nods pleasantly._

MOTHERLY ONE

[_Cheerily._] Good morning.

LAWYER

Good morning.

MOTHERLY ONE

[_To PRISONER._] Good morning.

PRISONER

[_Not cheerily._] Good morning.

MOTHERLY ONE

There was no one out there, so I just walked right in. [_LAWYER nods._]
I thought you might be glad to see me.

LAWYER

Oh--we are. [_To GORDON._] Aren’t we?

MOTHERLY ONE

I suppose I am in the right place.

LAWYER

Well, it is the right place for some things.

MOTHERLY ONE

Is it the place to tell the truth about Gordon Wallace?

LAWYER

It seems to be.

MOTHERLY ONE

[_Very cheerfully._] Well, then, on the night of October 25 that young
man--[_Steps for a better look at the PRISONER_] _this_ young man--was
with me.

LAWYER

From twelve o’clock midnight until eight next morning?

MOTHERLY ONE

[_Placidly._] From twelve o’clock midnight till eight next morning.

  [_She takes a muffler from her bag and sits down and begins to knit._

LAWYER

Was with you--continuously?

MOTHERLY ONE

Oh, certainly--continuously.

  [_She knits serenely on._

LAWYER

Well--Gordon.

MOTHERLY ONE

[_Pleasantly._] It seems that mufflers get longer and longer. [_Looking
up at LAWYER._] Doesn’t it?

LAWYER

Why--perhaps they do. But--you are willing to leave your name and
address?

MOTHERLY ONE

Certainly, I’m willing to leave my name and address. What else would
I be here for? Oh--but could I use the telephone first. [_Rises._] It
will be better to let them know that I’ll probably be late getting home
for lunch.

LAWYER

[_Is about to open door of the room in which the SHIELDED ONE is
waiting._] No--there’s some one in there. Here [_Going to the door at
the other side of the room_], I’ll show you how to get through to the
jail phone.

MOTHERLY ONE

The jail! But we’ll soon have you out of jail.

  [_She goes, giving the young man an encouraging smile. The LAWYER
    steps out with her. The young man hears the rear door opening--this
    door into the hall has a slight squeak--starts nervously, looks
    around to see a young woman come in. In a keen, cool amused way
    she is staring at him. He turns away, petulantly hitching his
    chair. She moves where she can see him better, takes from her bag a
    newspaper picture, looks from it to him. He turns, sees what she is
    doing; she smiles at him. He looks like one at bay. Enter LAWYER.
    Sees what is going on, smiles._

LAWYER

On the night of October 25--?

SCORNFUL ONE

[_To LAWYER._] I understand that down here a man is about to die for a
woman’s honor.

LAWYER

He had some such thing in mind.

SCORNFUL ONE

[_To LAWYER._] Now you can’t get away with that. Sorry to upset your
plans, but the death seems uncalled for. On the night of October
25--Gordon Wallace was with me.

LAWYER

From twelve o’clock midnight till eight next morning?

SCORNFUL ONE

From twelve o’clock midnight until eight next morning.

LAWYER

[_Rather feebly._] Con-tinuously?

SCORNFUL ONE

[_In an offhand voice._] Continuously.

LAWYER

Well--well, Gordon, I begin to understand why you hesitated to tell the
truth about that momentous night. Rise and thank the lady, Gordon; it
would seem the least you could do would be to rise and--

  [_As he is saying this to GORDON, in rushes a fussily dressed
    hysterical woman and throws her arms around the LAWYER’S neck._

SILLY ONE

Darling! I cannot let you die for me!

LAWYER

[_Trying to free himself._] Pardon me, madam, but--

SILLY ONE

Gordon! You call me madam after that night together. Oh my beloved,
when I think of those hours I lay in your arms--

LAWYER

Pardon me, but you never lay in--

SILLY ONE

I know. Ah--I understand. You pretend not to know me. You would die to
shield me--but you shall not! You cannot escape me!

LAWYER

[_Still unsuccessful in freeing himself._] Apparently not. But permit
me to tell you, you are making a mistake.

SILLY ONE

No! I am _not_ making a mistake! You shall not die for me.

LAWYER

I really don’t intend to--if I can help it.

SILLY ONE

Love is so beautiful. So ennobling! [_Overcome with emotion, loosens
her hold._] When I think of that night--October 25--

  [_Sinks into a chair._

LAWYER

[_After settling his collar._] Well, Gordon, have you a choice?
[_Pause._] You see you didn’t understand women as well as you thought.

PRISONER

[_Fiercely._] Neither did you!

  [_The SHERIFF’S BOY comes in._

BOY

While I was over at the bank, women came.

LAWYER

Yes, I know.

BOY

[_Looking at the two women in the room._] But more women. [_PRISONER
starts in terror._] Six women are out there.

PRISONER

Don’t let them in!

LAWYER

Tell the ladies we shall not need them. Thank them for coming. [_BOY
goes out. To PRISONER._] Well, come now. What shall we do with this
embarrassment of--generosity? You see dying for a woman’s honor isn’t
as easy as you might think. It even looks as though there were a sort
of conspiracy against it.

PRISONER

I’m not going to be made a fool of.

LAWYER

Are you sure you can help it?

  [_The BOY comes back, looking worried._

BOY

Some of those women won’t go away. I don’t know what to do with them.

LAWYER

No, it’s not a matter the young can cope with.

  [_He goes out with the BOY. The amused young WOMAN sits looking the
    PRISONER over, to his embarrassment and final irritation._

SCORNFUL ONE

So you were thinking of dying for a woman’s honor. [_He says nothing._]
Now do you think that’s a very nice way to treat the lady? [_He turns
away petulantly._] Seems to me you should think of _her_ feelings. Have
you a right to ruin her life?

PRISONER

[_Startled into speech._] _Ruin_ her life?

SCORNFUL ONE

Why certainly. A life that somebody has died for is practically a
ruined life. For how are you going to think of it as anything but--a
life that somebody has died for? [_She pulls her chair to a more
confidential angle._] Did it ever strike you as funny that woman’s
honor is only about one thing, and that man’s honor is about everything
but that thing? [_After waiting for the answer which does not come._]
Now woman’s honor means woman’s virtue. But this lady for whom you
propose to die has no virtue.

PRISONER

[_Springing up._] Please be careful what you say.

SCORNFUL ONE

I’m being very careful. I’m thinking it out just as carefully as I can.
The night of October 25, or at some time previous to that, she lost
her virtue, and you propose to die to keep us from knowing about this
loss. Now, it _has_ happened, hasn’t it? On the night of October 25,
from twelve o’clock midnight till eight next morning continuously she
lost her virtue. You aren’t dying to keep her virtuous. I fancy few
lives have been laid upon that altar. But you’re dying to keep us from
knowing she is what she is. Dear me, it seems rather sad.

SILLY ONE

[_Controlling her tears._] It is noble beyond words.

SCORNFUL ONE

There’s where you’re going to get your approbation.

  [_The MOTHERLY ONE now returns from her telephoning. She looks at the
    SILLY WOMAN, then at the SCORNFUL ONE--these two stand looking one
    another up and down._

SCORNFUL ONE

[_In her amused manner._] Can it be that we are two souls with but a
single thought?

MOTHERLY ONE

[_In her mothering voice._] Perhaps we are two hearts that beat as one.

  [_They stand there a moment not knowing what to do; then, still
    uncertainly, they sit down, stealing glances at one another.
    Finally the SCORNFUL ONE smiles._

SCORNFUL ONE

We might draw lots.

SILLY ONE

Love conquereth all things.

SCORNFUL ONE

Even the female brain.

MOTHERLY ONE

I wonder why you others came.

SCORNFUL ONE

Why did you come?

MOTHERLY ONE

Oh, I have children of my own. I thought, he’s just a nice boy,
and probably she’s just some nice girl afraid of her mother. And I
thought--well, now what an awful pity to let him die, or even spend
a lot of time in prison. I said to myself, it would be just like a
lot of men to fuss around about a woman’s honor and really let it
hurt somebody. So I decided--well, I’ll go. What harm can it do me?
[_Resumes her knitting._] You see, I’m in the habit of trying to save
lives. I do nursing--practical nursing--and I didn’t happen to be on
a case just now, so I thought--well, I’ll just take this case. Some
of the folks I nurse for may be shocked--but good sensible nurses
aren’t so easy to get. Of course my children may be upset about it--but
they’re awful nice children, and when they’re a little older probably
they’ll be pleased to think their mother didn’t want a nice boy to die.
[_Drops her knitting._] I wonder if _she_ will come.

  [_Looks at the other two with new interest._

SCORNFUL ONE

I wonder.

SILLY ONE

“She” is here.

SCORNFUL ONE

Oh, it’s not you. You thought it was the lawyer you were with. Anyway,
people who do things don’t make so much fuss about them.

MOTHERLY ONE

[_Whose interest has not been diverted._] I think she will have to come.

  [_The door of the room into which the SHIELDED ONE was shown opens
    quietly and without the others being aware of it the SHIELDED ONE
    is standing in the doorway, bringing with her that sense of the
    ordered protected life out of which she has stepped._

SCORNFUL ONE

I’m sure I don’t see how she could ever think of staying away. I hate a
coward.

MOTHERLY ONE

Some women think a great deal about their honor. I think usually it’s
women who aren’t very well--or who haven’t much else to take up their
time.

  [_Impulsively the SHIELDED ONE steps forward as if to speak. Hearing
    her, they turn, and in their interest rise and stand looking at
    her._

MOTHERLY ONE

Oh--you’ve come?

  [_The PRISONER, who to get away from the women gives the impression
    of being crowded into a corner, also turns and rises._

PRISONER

[_To SHIELDED ONE, rather crossly._] Please go _away_!

SCORNFUL ONE

O-h.

PRISONER

Can’t you see there is no need for your staying?

SHIELDED ONE

[_Quietly._] There _is_ need of it.

  [_She sits down, the other women still surveying her._

MOTHERLY ONE

It’s true we aren’t all needed. Who will be best--? [_To SCORNFUL
ONE._] Tell me, why are you here?

SCORNFUL ONE

Well, you see for myself I haven’t any honor to worry about, and
haven’t had for some time. So I thought, if the sacrifice of a woman’s
honor is going to save, a man’s life, let me, who have none, nobly
sacrifice mine.

MOTHERLY ONE

What do you mean, you haven’t had any honor for some time?

SCORNFUL ONE

Oh, I haven’t had my honor around with me since I was seventeen.

MOTHERLY ONE

[_Kindly._] Do you miss it?

SCORNFUL ONE

Well--yes; sometimes when I’m tired I might like to slump back
into it. You see honor camouflages so many things--stupidity,
selfishness--greed, lust, avarice, gluttony. So without it you’re
almost forced to be a decent sort--and that’s sometimes wearing. [_In
another voice._] But I’ll tell you why I’m really here! When men begin
to sob around about woman’s honor they get my goat. That lawyer--he
thought he was going to get away with it. Why, woman’s honor would have
died out long ago if it hadn’t been for men’s talk about it.

MOTHERLY ONE

I suppose it really has to be kept up, as long as it gives men such
noble feelings.

SCORNFUL ONE

That man--the one when I was seventeen--_he’s_ that sort. He would be
of course. Why, this instant his eyes would become “pools of feeling”
if any one were to talk about saving a woman’s honor. [_Under her
breath._] Gee!

MOTHERLY ONE

[_With a diffident glance at the SHIELDED ONE._] If she _is_ here, she
must be feeling quite upset. If she cares enough about her honor to
have held back this long--it can’t be easy to let it go.

SCORNFUL ONE

She’ll be better off without it.

MOTHERLY ONE

I don’t know. You see, she’s had it quite a while. She’s used to it. I
was thinking--

  [_The door opens and a brisk young woman dressed in cheap,
    up-to-the-minute clothes darts in. All turn and look at
    her, continue to stare. Something in this scrutiny becomes
    disconcerting._

MERCENARY ONE

While he was busy with the other women--I just slipped by. Is this--?

  [_Sees the young man, now huddled in terror._

SCORNFUL ONE

Sit down and wait your turn.

MERCENARY ONE

Are all of you ahead of me?

SCORNFUL ONE

Your number seems to be five.

  [_Number five sits down; a pause in which they continue to look at
    her in this unusual way--she finally rather indignantly settles
    her coat, her hat, assuring herself nothing is the matter with her._

MOTHERLY ONE

You look young for this.

MERCENARY ONE

Well, if you’ll excuse my saying so, the same objection can’t be made
to some of you.

SCORNFUL ONE

What are you here for?

MERCENARY ONE

Oh, I guess I’m here for about the same reason all of you are here.

MOTHERLY ONE

But we are here for different reasons.

MERCENARY ONE

Say, what are you tryin’ to put over on me? Suppose I think you’re here
for your health? Or out of kindness? Or to show your great beauty?
Hard-_ly_. Anybody not feeble-minded could dope out why you’re sitting
here like owls.

SCORNFUL ONE

Well--why?

MERCENARY ONE

Oh, not for _money_, of course.

  [_She has horrified them all._

MOTHERLY ONE

I’m sorry you said that.

SILLY ONE

How sordid! How desecrating!

MERCENARY ONE

Say--I don’t like the _atmosphere_ of this place.

SCORNFUL ONE

We don’t like it as well as we did.

MERCENARY ONE

A business proposition is a business proposition. What a man needs and
can pay for--

SILLY ONE

[_Rising and wringing her hands._] I really must ask you--Love is so
beautiful!

MERCENARY ONE

Well, suppose it is? What’s that got to do with it?

MOTHERLY ONE

You seem hard for one so young.

MERCENARY ONE

I may be hard, but I’m not a nut.

SCORNFUL ONE

Woman’s honor doesn’t play much part in your young life, does it? Or
woman’s self-respect, either.

MERCENARY ONE

[_Rising._] Say, you think you can sit there and insult me? I don’t
know what you are, but I’ll have you know I’m an honest working girl! I
heard they were going to take on another stenographer down here, but I
don’t like the _atmosphere_ of this place.

  [_She leaves._

SILLY ONE

[_Settling herself with relief._] It was a misunderstanding. Ah, life
is paved with misunderstanding.

MOTHERLY ONE

It _will_ be said we did this for money.

SCORNFUL ONE

Oh, a great deal will be said. If you care about what’s said you’d
better follow the honest working girl out that door.

MOTHERLY ONE

What’s said makes an awful difference in some people’s lives.

  [_Her eyes turn toward the SHIELDED ONE._

SCORNFUL ONE

They don’t know how much difference until they’ve heard it said.

  [_She too looks at the SHIELDED ONE._

MOTHERLY ONE

You get made into one thing and then it’s not easy to be another. And
as the honest working girl hinted, some of us aren’t as young as--we’d
like to be.

SCORNFUL ONE

Age shouldn’t discourage one. It’s never too late to mend.

  [_The door swings, the women look expectantly around; the unfortunate
    young man, whose face has been buried in his hands, looks round in
    terror. They wait a moment but no one comes in._

MOTHERLY ONE

If “she” is here, and really minds losing her honor--well, she could
just go home. [_SILLY ONE rises, simpers, sits down again._] We can’t
all lose our honor. It might do the young man more harm than good. It’s
different with you--[_To SCORNFUL ONE_] you had an early start. And
then you’ve got character. You don’t need honor to lean on.

SHIELDED ONE

[_Breaking her silence with simple intensity._] What _is_ woman’s honor?

SCORNFUL ONE

A thing men talk about.

MOTHERLY ONE

A safe corner.

SILLY ONE

A star to guide them!

SHIELDED ONE

[_Very earnestly._] Guide them where?

SCORNFUL ONE

Yes, where? Many a woman who’s guided hasn’t guided anywhere.

SHIELDED ONE

[_Passionately._] Aren’t we something more than things to be noble
about?

SCORNFUL ONE

Of course what we’ve really been is kind. We have not deprived them of
the pleasures of being noble. If we do it now, it will leave them in a
bleak world.

SHIELDED ONE

[_Troubled but determined._] Can’t we put something in its place, so
they won’t be too desolate and yet we won’t be so--

SCORNFUL ONE

Bored.

MOTHERLY ONE

If we could only get them noble about something else. I should really
hate to take it from them entirely. It’s like giving up smoking or
drinking. You have to do it gradually, and there should be something to
put in its place.

SCORNFUL ONE

If we could only think up a new vice for them.

MOTHERLY ONE

They have all those.

SHIELDED ONE

Oh, I hope you women can work out some way to free us from men’s noble
feelings about it! I speak for all the women of my--[_Hesitates_]
under-world, all those others smothered under men’s lofty sentiments
toward them! I wish I could paint for you the horrors of the shielded
life. [_Says “shielded” as if it were “shameful.”_] I know you would
feel something must be done to save us. After all [_Growing a little
wild_] are we not your sisters? Our honor has been saved so many times.
We are tired. And so when I read in the paper this morning that woman’s
honor was being saved _again_--

SCORNFUL ONE

[_Excitedly going to her._] Read in the paper? Then you’re _not_--the
one?

SHIELDED ONE

Not that one, but--

  [_Slowly the door opens and a woman comes in--comes with a strange
    quiet. She droops, she has a queer passivity--she is unaccountably
    forceful. Gives a sense of one who has been cheated and is going to
    be cheated no more. She is scarcely aware of the other women. Her
    eyes, dead, or rather dogged with life, go to the unfortunate young
    man. He has turned to look at her; he is not able to look away._

SCORNFUL ONE

[_Nervously._] Are you a stenographer?

CHEATED ONE

[_Not interested in this._] No.

  [_In her dogged way she advances upon the PRISONER. He is afraid. She
    sits down close to him, as if to cut off escape._

MOTHERLY ONE

[_Low._] I wonder if _she_ is here.

SCORNFUL ONE

I wonder.

SHIELDED ONE

[_With an effort bringing herself and the others back to her._] But
don’t turn against me because I’m not this particular woman. What a
_detail_ that is. I am--those victims of men’s dreadful--[_Turns away
her face_] _need_ for nobility. I’d rather die than go back to it! Help
me to lead another life!

SCORNFUL ONE

[_Fervently._] We must lift her up.

MOTHERLY ONE

We will find a place for her in the great good world outside the
shielded life.

SHIELDED ONE

Then you others go, and I will stay.

  [_MOTHERLY ONE and SCORNFUL ONE rise and move to the door._

SILLY ONE

I will give my life for yours, my sister!

SCORNFUL ONE

No you won’t. I’ll have nothing to do with saving you. You deserve
nothing better than woman’s honor. Come with us.

  [_But at the door these three stand looking back at the CHEATED ONE._

SCORNFUL ONE

[_Moving down to her._] Aren’t you coming with us?

CHEATED ONE

[_Without raising her eyes._] No.

SCORNFUL ONE

Why not?

CHEATED ONE

I shall stay.

MOTHERLY ONE

Perhaps _she_ is here. And if “she” _is_ here--then we have not the
right to leave her.

  [_Indicating the SHIELDED ONE._

SCORNFUL ONE

[_To CHEATED ONE._] Tell us: are you the woman Gordon Wallace was with
on the night of October 25?

CHEATED ONE

Yes.

MOTHERLY ONE

Of course we’ve all said that.

SCORNFUL ONE

But she says it in a different way.

MOTHERLY ONE

[_To SHIELDED ONE._] I am afraid that you will have to leave with us.
It seems she has the right.

  [_These four move to the door._

SHIELDED ONE

[_Thinking of it just in time._] But do you think she has the right
just because she is the one?

  [_To consider this, they go back and sit down._

SILLY ONE

Leave me!

SCORNFUL ONE

[_Wickedly inspired._] Suppose we do! You know, I _like_ the idea.
Why--the more I think about it--the better I like it. [_To the other
women._] Yes, come! [_To the young man._] This is the lady you were
going to die for!

SHIELDED ONE

[_Distressed._] But, no! What can it do for her? And how, through her,
can we reach my poor sisters smothered under woman’s honor? I insist
upon it! I am the one!

CHEATED ONE

[_Suddenly turning upon her._] You are not the one!

MOTHERLY ONE

Now I think, to avoid feeling between you two, I had better stay. I’m
a nurse, and a mother, and I keep coming back to the idea these things
are needed.

SCORNFUL ONE

No, you have too many other things to do. I am the one to remain. I
am--peculiarly fitted for it.

SHIELDED ONE

You are not fitted for it at all. There is no one less fitted for it
than you.

SCORNFUL ONE

How do you make that out?

SHIELDED ONE

You don’t need it. Woman’s honor never hurt you.

SCORNFUL ONE

[_Reluctantly accepting this. To PRISONER._] Are you acquainted with
this woman?

  [_Indicates CHEATED ONE._

PRISONER

No.

SCORNFUL ONE

Then why are you so afraid of her?

PRISONER

I’m not--

  [_But he is forced to meet the smoldering eye of the CHEATED ONE; he
    cannot look away._

SHIELDED ONE

[_Almost in tears._] But you were going to help me lead a better life.
And now you stand here quibbling over a petty question of fact, when
the whole great question of escape from woman’s honor is at stake! Oh,
is it true that women will not help one another? That they are hard and
self-seeking?

  [_She breaks down; MOTHERLY ONE goes to comfort her._

SILLY ONE

My heart is full--

SCORNFUL ONE

Your heart is full of a simpering parrot!

  [_The LAWYER returns._

LAWYER

Ladies--ladies--quarreling? I’m sorry to find you in this mood. I
had hoped while you were here together you might--arrive at some
understanding.

SCORNFUL ONE

[_To SILLY ONE._] I wish you’d go home. We might arrive at something if
we didn’t have you on our backs.

LAWYER

Now why must women always dislike each other?

MOTHERLY ONE

[_In her motherly way._] If I were you I’d try not to talk much.

LAWYER

Why not?

SCORNFUL ONE

She has a kind heart. Now I--I’d let you talk.

LAWYER

Sometimes it seems quite as well not to try to follow women.

SCORNFUL ONE

Sometimes even better.

LAWYER

Well now, Ladies, let us drop personal dissentions for the moment. This
unfortunate young man, Mr. Wallace, is much moved by your generosity.
He had made up his mind to die for woman’s honor. Now it seems he
is not to do so--a change of plan to which he has not yet adjusted
himself. His perturbation makes him unequal to selecting the lady who
was with him on the night of October 25. [_Door swings, PRISONER looks
around nervously._] So--I would like to get your feeling. Since it
seems unnecessary for all of you to have been with the young man on the
night of October 25--

  [_Again door swings._

PRISONER

[_In a rasped voice._] Could that door be closed? It makes me--nervous.

  [_MOTHERLY WOMAN closes the door._

LAWYER

Now, doubtless you will agree with me that we should always eliminate
waste. If a woman’s honor is to be sacrificed, may I without indelicacy
inquire who would sacrifice least?

SHIELDED ONE

[_Firmly._] I would.

LAWYER

[_Weakly._] _You_ would?

CHEATED ONE

[_In a voice dull as destiny._] The rest of you can talk as long as you
like. _I_ shall stay.

  [_She rises and takes firm hold of the unfortunate young man’s chair._

LAWYER

Well, there seems something final about that.

MOTHERLY ONE

Tell us, are you the one?

CHEATED ONE

I am the one to stay.

SCORNFUL ONE

Now, don’t cheat. Tell us, are you--

CHEATED ONE

[_Passion flaming through sullenness._] Cheat? Cheat? You say to me,
don’t cheat? I don’t cheat. I’ve been cheated. Cheated out of my chance
to have a man I wanted by a man who would have what he wanted. Then he
saved my woman’s honor. Married me and cheated me out of my life. I’m
just something to be cheated. That’s the way I think of myself. Until
this morning. Until I read about Gordon Wallace. Then I saw a way to
get away from myself. It’s the first thing I ever wanted to do that
I’ve done. You’ll not cheat me out of this. Don’t you try!

SHIELDED ONE

But she is thinking of it in just a personal way.

CHEATED ONE

That’s why I stay.

SHIELDED ONE

But think of my poor sisters! All those unfortunate women--

CHEATED ONE

The only unfortunate woman I’ll think about is myself.

SHIELDED ONE

[_Wildly._] You hear her? The only unfortunate woman she’ll think
about--

MOTHERLY ONE

[_Approaching CHEATED ONE._] Now we really must ask you--

SILLY ONE

Love is so beautiful!

SCORNFUL ONE

You can’t cheat just because you’ve been cheated.

CHEATED ONE

[_Inflamed--incoherent._] You say cheat to me again? You say _cheat_
to--

LAWYER

[_Stepping in to pacify._] Ladies--ladies. Surely there must be a way
out of the difficulty. Perhaps we can work out some way to--

SCORNFUL ONE

To save _both_ of them through Gordon Wallace!

  [_All women except CHEATED ONE draw together excitedly. The PRISONER,
    who has rapidly been approaching the breaking point makes a move
    as if he must try to escape. The CHEATED ONE is watching the other
    women._

SCORNFUL ONE

Here! Yes! On the night of October 25--

  [_Their heads together in low-voiced conference with LAWYER. Suddenly
    the PRISONER slips around the CHEATED ONE--trying now not to be
    cheated of what is being said--and makes for the door. It opens
    in his face, and the doorway is blocked by a large and determined
    woman. PRISONER staggers back to LAWYER’S arms._

PRISONER

Oh, _hell_. _I’ll plead guilty._

  (CURTAIN)

       *       *       *       *       *

BERNICE

A PLAY IN THREE ACTS

       *       *       *       *       *

First Performed by the Provincetown Players, New York, March 21, 1919.

ORIGINAL CAST

  MR. ALLEN, _Bernice’s Father_       O. K. LIVERIGHT
  ABBIE                                SUSAN GLASPELL
  CRAIG NORRIS, _Bernice’s Husband_    JAMES K. LIGHT
  LAURA (MRS. KIRBY), _Craig’s Sister_   BLANCHE HAYS
  MARGARET PIERCE, _Bernice’s Friend_        IDA RAUH



BERNICE


ACT ONE

SCENE: _The living-room of Bernice’s house in the country. You feel
yourself in the house of a woman you would like to know, a woman of
sure and beautiful instincts, who lives simply. At the spectator’s
right, stairs go up from the living room; back of this--right, rear,
a door; to the front of the stairs is a narrowed passage as of a hall
leading to the kitchen. On the other side of the room, is a tea-table
before the fireplace, and before it is a low rounded chair, as if
awaiting the one who will come to serve tea. Toward the rear of this
left wall is a door. This door is closed. From the back of the room
French windows lead directly out of doors. On each side of this door
is a window thus opening almost the entire wall to the October woods.
There are comfortable seats under the windows, books about. It is late
afternoon and the sun glows through the flaming leaves. As the curtain
is drawn the FATHER is seen sitting at a long table at the side of the
stairway, playing solitaire. At the back of the cards, open books are
propped against the wall, and papers on which he has been writing.
ABBIE, a middle-aged servant, is attending to the open fire._

FATHER

[_Holding up a card he is about to place._] Ten minutes since the train
whistled. They’ll be here in five minutes now.

ABBIE

Yes, sir.

FATHER

It will be hard for Craig to come in this house, Abbie.

ABBIE

Oh, yes.

FATHER

Bernice made this house. [_Looking around._] Everything is Bernice.
[_A pause._] Change something, Abbie! [_With growing excitement._] Put
something in a different place. [_He takes a pillow from the seat under
the window, holds it irresolutely a moment, puts it on the floor at the
side of the fireplace. On the other side he moves a high vase from the
window. Then helplessly._] Well, I don’t know. You can’t get Bernice
out of this room. The tea-table! Come, Abbie, quick! We will take this
_out_ of the room. [_Together, ABBIE reluctant, they move it to the
passage-way leading out from the living-room. The FATHER comes back and
sees the chair, now without its table. He goes as if to move it, but
cannot do this; looks old and broken as he faces the closed door._]
I wish they’d left Bernice upstairs, Abbie, in her own room. Now
_there_--so near the living-room--right off the living-room. [_Hastily
goes back to his cards, but in an instant he brushes them together and
pulls the open book toward him, and papers; but he only rests his hand
on the book._] There’ll be only Craig and his sister on this train,
Abbie.

ABBIE

That’s all I know of.

FATHER

But Margaret Pierce will be here soon. As soon as she can get here,
Margaret will come. Within an hour, probably.

ABBIE

[_Apprehensive._] You think so, sir?

FATHER

I think so. That train from the West got to the Junction at three. I
have a feeling Margaret won’t wait for the five o’clock train to get
here. She’ll get a car. [_ABBIE goes to the door and looks out._] It
would save a little time, and--she doesn’t know that Bernice--Yes,
Margaret will get here the quickest way. She always came to Bernice
when Bernice needed her.

ABBIE

She doesn’t need anyone now.

FATHER

No. But yes--in a way, she does. She needs some one to be here to do
what she can’t go on doing. Margaret will see that--when she knows.
Margaret sees everything.

ABBIE

[_Frightened now._] You think so, sir?

FATHER

Oh, yes, she does. Bernice knew that. “Margaret sees things,” I’ve
heard Bernice say. [_ABBIE turns from him._] Now Mrs. Kirby, Craig’s
sister Laura, she’s a sensible woman, she’ll be a help to you, Abbie,
in--arranging things. But see things? No. How different people are.
They’re all different, Abbie. I don’t think Bernice cared much for
Laura--though she didn’t mind her. She’d just laugh about Laura--about
her being so sure of everything. It was nice, Abbie, the way Bernice
would just laugh about things. She had no malice.

ABBIE

[_Strangely intense._] No. She didn’t have, did she?

FATHER

Oh, no, Abbie. Malice wasn’t in her. It was just that a good many
things--well, the things that are important to most people weren’t so
important to Bernice. It was another set of things were important.
People called her detached. But--I don’t know. Maybe _they’re_
detached, Abbie. Maybe it’s Laura Kirby, the sensible woman, who’s
detached,--Bernice would have laughed at that--the practical person
who’s detached, and Bernice.... You know what I mean, Abbie?

ABBIE

I think I do--knowing her.

FATHER

To you--did she seem detached?

ABBIE

[_Tenderly thinking it out._] She was loving, and thoughtful, and gay.
But always a little of what she is now--[_Faces the closed door_] off
by herself. [_With that intensity the present moment does not account
for._] You can’t expect to understand a person who is “off by herself.”
Now can you?

FATHER

I understood Bernice. Except, there were things--outside what I
understood.

ABBIE

[_Eagerly._] That’s it. And we should take what _we_ had, shouldn’t we,
and not try to reach into--to where we didn’t go.

FATHER

I suppose that’s true, Abbie. [_Buries his face._] I wish my little
girl hadn’t died. What am I going to do, Abbie? How can I stay here?
And how can I go away? We should die in our proper order; I should
have gone before my daughter. Anything else makes confusion. There’s
not going to be anybody to laugh at me now, Abbie. I’ll miss the way
Bernice laughed at me, a laugh that took me in and--yes, took me in.
She laughed at my spending the whole time of the war studying Sanscrit.
Well, why shouldn’t I? What can the old do about war? I had my vision
of life. If that had been followed there’d have been no war. But in
a world that won’t have visions--why not study Sanscrit while such a
world is being made over--into another such world. [_Listening._] You
hear some one, Abbie?

ABBIE

[_After listening._] It didn’t turn in.

FATHER

And you, Abbie. [_With wonder._] Why you were with us when Bernice was
born.

ABBIE

Yes, I was--in the room the night she was born. The night she died I
thought of the night she was born.

FATHER

That was--how long ago, Abbie?

ABBIE

Thirty-five years ago.

FATHER

Was Bernice thirty-five years old? She _was_, Abbie--my little girl?
Well, life moves by--and we hardly know it’s moving. Why, Abbie, your
whole life has been lived around Bernice. [_ABBIE nods._] It will be
now as if things had--fallen apart. And it was the main thing in your
life--doing things for her.

ABBIE

[_With excitement._] Yes, it was the _main_ thing in my life--doing
what she wanted. I couldn’t do anything else now, could I?

FATHER

[_A little surprised at her agitation, but not thinking about it._]
Why, no. Now some one is coming, Abbie. You hear them coming?

ABBIE

I think so. [_She goes to the door._] Yes.

  [_ABBIE opens the door and LAURA and CRAIG come in. CRAIG holds back
    as if to enter this house is something he can scarcely make himself
    do; he does not look around the room._

LAURA

[_To the FATHER, taking his hand._] This is so hard for you, Mr. Allen.
I cannot tell you--[_Turning to ABBIE_] Abbie.

FATHER

[_Going to CRAIG, who is still at the door._] Well, Craig. [_The FATHER
holds out his hand, CRAIG takes it._] Well, I don’t know what we’re
going to do without her.

LAURA

[_Coming to the rescue with the practical._] And where are you going to
put us, Abbie?

ABBIE

I have the rooms ready upstairs.

CRAIG

[_As if he cannot do this._] Upstairs?

ABBIE

[_In a low voice._] She is down here, sir.

  [_She indicates the closed door. Then takes LAURA’S bag and they
    start upstairs. CRAIG does not move._

LAURA

[_On the stairway._] Aren’t you coming up, Craig, to get clean and rest
a little?

CRAIG

In a minute or two. [_He sits down--on the edge of a chair near the
door. The FATHER and husband sit there silent._] Bernice--hadn’t been
sick long, had she?

FATHER

No, it was very sudden. You know she had had trouble occasionally
in the past year; Dr. Willis had said she might have to go to the
hospital. At first this seemed like that--so Abbie and I weren’t really
alarmed. Of course we sent for Willis, but he was in Boston. Young
Stuart had the grip. So there was no doctor here--till afterwards.

CRAIG

And--how long was Bernice sick?

  [_He speaks with difficulty._

FATHER

She spoke of feeling badly on Tuesday. She was lying down most of that
day. Wednesday--she didn’t get up at all Wednesday. And she died late
Wednesday night. [_Emotion breaking through._] Abbie and I were here
all alone!

CRAIG

Did she say--Did she leave--Well, we can talk of that later.

FATHER

[_Changing to something not so hard to speak of._] You landed last week?

CRAIG

Yes, I was held in New York by things to do. [_A glance at the
FATHER._] Of course, if I had had any idea--

FATHER

Of course.

CRAIG

But Bernice wrote me she was fine.

FATHER

She seemed so. She was well and--seemed very happy here this fall. You
know how she loves to tramp the woods in the fall. She was counting on
your coming home. She had done over your room upstairs. And hers too.
They both look so nice and fresh. And she was just starting to do some
things to Margaret’s room. Margaret was coming next month for a rest.
She’s been working very hard.

CRAIG

Are you expecting Margaret now?

FATHER

Yes. Wednesday evening Bernice seemed to want Margaret to come. She
thought maybe Margaret could get away now, and that it would do her
good too. She had been worrying about her--thinking she was working
too hard. Margaret’s been in Chicago, you know, working on some labor
things--I never know just what it is she is doing. Bernice seemed to
want to see her. I wonder if Bernice herself felt it was more than we
knew. Anyway, she wanted us to send for Margaret.

CRAIG

But you didn’t send for me until--until it was over.

FATHER

No. You see we didn’t know--Abbie and I didn’t have any idea--I spoke
of sending for you when we sent the telegram for Margaret, but Bernice
said you’d be here soon anyway, and she didn’t want to hurry you away
from New York. [_As if not understanding it himself, and trying to find
an explanation._] I suppose you were doing something that she knew
about, and didn’t want to interrupt.

  [_CRAIG half looks at him._

CRAIG

And Margaret answered that she was coming?

FATHER

Yes, we heard from her Thursday morning that she had started. She could
get here today. We didn’t know where to reach her telling her it was
too late now for--for the visit with Bernice. [_Breaking._] I just
can’t believe it! Think of what you and I are talking about! Bernice,
_out_ of life. She was so--_of_ it. Didn’t you feel that, Craig--about
Bernice?

CRAIG

Yes. She seemed so--secured. It never seemed anything could--destroy
Bernice.

FATHER

When I think she won’t come down those stairs again!

CRAIG

I can’t--think of things that way now.

FATHER

No. No, of course not. [_He does not know what to say, so gathers
together his cards, then books._] I’ll just--I was just going in my
room. [_Pause._] I’ve been getting on fine with my Sanscrit, Craig.

CRAIG

That’s good.

FATHER

And now the war is over, and some of the people who fussed around about
it influenced it as little as I, and I--have my Sanscrit. You know,
Bernice used to laugh at me, Craig. She--the way she used to laugh at
us--lovingly. Seems to me I’ll miss that most of all.

  [_He goes into his room--through the door to the rear of the
    stairway._

  [_Alone in the room, CRAIG tries to look around. He cannot. He has
    taken a step toward the closed door when he hears ABBIE’S step on
    the stairs._

CRAIG

[_Impetuously going to her, his hands out._] Abbie, _you_ were good to
her. [_Takes her hands, holds them tight. Then changing._] Why didn’t
you telegraph me when she was taken sick? [_Violently._] Do you think
there was anything in New York I wouldn’t have left? Bernice _knew_
that if she needed me--She never seemed to need me. I never felt
she--couldn’t get along without me. [_Taking a few stumbling steps
toward the room where Bernice is._] Oh, I _wish_ I could have a talk
with her.

ABBIE

Mr. Norris! [_Her tone halts him._] There’s something I must tell you.

CRAIG

A--message she left?

ABBIE

Message? No. Yes--perhaps. Before you go in there I must tell you--

  [_They are arrested by the sound of a stopping car; neither moves; in
    a moment MARGARET PIERCE hurries in._

MARGARET

[_After looking at them._] She’s worse? [_Growing more and more alarmed
by them._] Where is she?

  [_Starts towards the stairs._

ABBIE

No--there.

  [_Pointing._

CRAIG

[_Stepping between MARGARET and the closed door._] She’s dead,
Margaret.

MARGARET

Dead? Oh--no. Not Bernice. [_Waits imploringly._] But that couldn’t
_be_.

CRAIG

I know. I know what you mean, Margaret.

  [_It seems MARGARET is about to fall; CRAIG brings a chair; without
    taking a step she sinks to it, facing the closed door. ABBIE turns
    and goes out, toward the kitchen._

MARGARET

[_A slight quick turn of her head to him._] I don’t believe it!

CRAIG

It’s true, Margaret.

MARGARET

[_Like blood from her heart._] But Bernice--she _was_ life.

CRAIG

I know--what you mean.

MARGARET

[_After much has gone on in her._] And I wasn’t here!

CRAIG

No. Nor I.

MARGARET

[_A moment later, just having taken this in._] Why weren’t you here?

CRAIG

I didn’t know she was sick.

MARGARET

Your boat got in a week ago.

CRAIG

Yes. I was detained in New York.

MARGARET

Detained by May Fredericks?

CRAIG

Margaret! Bernice wouldn’t want you to talk that way to me--now.

MARGARET

No.

CRAIG

Why, she knew it. Bernice knew I was staying out on Long Island with
them while I was attending to some things about my work. I had a
beautiful letter from Bernice. She was perfectly all right--about
everything. And I was anxious now to get home to her. I was getting
ready to start the very day I got the telegram that--that it was like
this. You mean--you think I didn’t make Bernice happy, Margaret?

MARGARET

Oh, I don’t think you had the power to make her very unhappy.

CRAIG

That’s a cruel thing to say, Margaret. Bernice wouldn’t say that to me.

MARGARET

[_Who is all the while looking straight ahead at the closed door._] No.

CRAIG

She understood me.

MARGARET

And was indulgent.

CRAIG

[_After a pause._] Margaret, did you ever feel you didn’t really get
_to_ Bernice?

MARGARET

Get to her? So far as I had power. _She_ never held me back. Life broke
through her--a life deeper than anything that could happen to her.

CRAIG

Yes, that’s it. Something you couldn’t destroy. A life in her deeper
than anything that could be done to her. That--that makes a difference,
Margaret. I never _had_ Bernice.

MARGARET

Oh, wasn’t it wonderful to you that beneath what you “had” was a life
too full, too rich to be _had_? I should think that would flow over
your life and give it beauty.

CRAIG

I suppose a man’s feeling is different. He has to feel that he
moves--completely moves--yes, could destroy--not that he would, but has
the power to reshape the--

MARGARET

Craig! “Reshape” Bernice! [_In anguish._] Oh, I came to see _her_. Not
to sit here talking to you.

CRAIG

I loved her, Margaret. I valued her--even though her life wasn’t made
by my life. And she loved me. You think she didn’t?

MARGARET

No, Craig, I don’t think she didn’t. I know she did. I was thinking of
those things in her--even greater than loving. Those things in her even
loving never--caught.

CRAIG

Yes. I know, Margaret.

MARGARET

I want to see Bernice!

  [_Crying she goes blindly toward the closed door, and to Bernice._

  [_A second time left alone in the room, CRAIG now looks at those
    various things with which he and Bernice have lived. When he can
    no longer do this he goes to the passage way at the front of the
    staircase._

CRAIG

Abbie! [_After a moment’s wait ABBIE comes slowly in._] When Miss
Margaret came, you were about to tell me something. My wife--left a
message for me?

ABBIE

Yes. No--I don’t know. [_Wildly._] She killed herself!

CRAIG

[_Falling back._] _What_--are--you--saying?

ABBIE

She--did it herself. Took her life. Now I’ve told you! You know now!

CRAIG

[_Roughly taking hold of her._] What’s this you’re saying? What’s this
lie you’re trying to--[_Letting go of her--in horror, imploringly._]
Abbie! _Tell me it isn’t true._

ABBIE

It’s true. I’m telling you. It’s true. She--didn’t want to live any
longer--so she took something--ended her life. That’s all. That’s all I
can tell you. Nobody knows. Not her father--nobody. I thought I ought
to tell you. Now I’ve told you! Let me go. I’ve told you--I--

  [_She breaks from him and rushes out. CRAIG does not move. MARGARET
    comes from Bernice, without looking at CRAIG, opens the door to go
    outside._

CRAIG

[_Scarcely able to call to her._] Margaret.

MARGARET

[_Not turning._] I’ll be back soon.

CRAIG

[_Wildly._] You can’t go away leaving me alone with this! I tell you I
can’t _stand_ it. You’re going to the woods to think of Bernice! Well
I’ll tell you one thing. You never _knew_ Bernice. You thought she
didn’t love me. You think I didn’t matter. But Bernice _killed_ herself
because she loved me so!

MARGARET

What--are--you--saying?

CRAIG

Abbie just told me. No one knows. Not her father--only Abbie.

MARGARET

It is _not_ true.

CRAIG

Yes. Abbie was with her. Oh, Margaret, she loved me like _that_.

MARGARET

And you killed her!

CRAIG

No--Oh, don’t say that! I didn’t _know_.

MARGARET

[_After trying to take it in._] I knew Bernice. She was life. She came
from the whole of life. You are asking me to believe that because
of--some little thing in her own life--

CRAIG

But it wasn’t a little thing. _That’s_ what we didn’t know. I was
_everything_ to Bernice. More than all that life we felt--[_Some one is
heard above._] I think Laura’s coming down. Laura mustn’t know. I had
to have you know. Nobody else. Not Laura.

LAURA

[_On the stairs._] Oh, Margaret, you have come?

MARGARET

I was just going out. [_As LAURA comes nearer._] I’m going to take a
walk!

  [_She goes out._

LAURA

[_Looking after her._] Take a _walk_. She always does some strange
thing. [_CRAIG has sunk to a chair, his back to LAURA._] Why should she
rush away like this, as if it were so much harder for her to stay in
this house than for anyone else? [_CRAIG, bowed, covers his face with
his hands._] Has she been trying to make you feel badly, Craig? [_She
goes up to him and puts a hand on his bent shoulder._] Don’t let her
do that. It isn’t true. It isn’t as if Bernice were--like most women.
There was something--aloof in Bernice. You saw it in her eyes; even in
her smile. Oh, I thought she was wonderful, too. Only, it isn’t as if
Bernice--

CRAIG

If you think she didn’t love me, you’re wrong!

LAURA

Oh--Craig! Love you, of course. Only--things that might have hurt
another woman--

CRAIG

How do we know who’s hurt? Who isn’t? Who loves--who doesn’t love?
Don’t _talk_, Laura.

  [_She stands there beside him; the FATHER, coming in, at first sees
    only LAURA._

FATHER

I must have dropped the ten of diamonds. [_Seeing CRAIG._] Of course.
Of course. I try not to think of it. My little girl. She loved life so.
Always. From the time she was a baby she did rejoice so in the world.

  [_He stands looking at the closed door. ABBIE comes in; looks at
    CRAIG, hesitates, then slowly crosses the room and takes the
    traveling-bag he brought in when he came; another look at his bowed
    head, then, herself bowed, starts up the stairs._

  (CURTAIN)


ACT TWO

SCENE: _As in Act One, save that it is evening now; the reading lamp is
lighted, and candles. LAURA is sitting before the fire knitting. ABBIE
is standing at the foot of the stairs, as if LAURA had called to her as
she came down._

LAURA

But he took the tray, did he, Abbie?

ABBIE

He let me leave it.

LAURA

And how did he seem?

ABBIE

I didn’t see his face. And he didn’t say anything.

LAURA

He wasn’t like that until Margaret Pierce came. How long was Mrs.
Norris sick, Abbie? [_As she asks this the outer door opens and
MARGARET comes in._] Been out looking at the stars, Margaret? Aren’t
they bright up here in the hills?

MARGARET

I--I didn’t see them.

  [_She looks at ABBIE, who is looking at her. ABBIE turns away from
    MARGARET’S look._

LAURA

I was asking you--how long was Mrs. Norris sick, Abbie?

ABBIE

Two days.

LAURA

And just what did the doctor say was the matter?

ABBIE

The doctor wasn’t here.

  [_She steals a glance at MARGARET, who is all the while looking at
    her._

LAURA

I know. But afterwards--what was his opinion?

ABBIE

Attacks like she had had before--only worse. Ulcers in the stomach, he
thought it was.

LAURA

It’s a great pity you couldn’t get a doctor. That’s the worst of living
way up here by one’s self. Mrs. Norris had seemed well, hadn’t she?

ABBIE

Yes, except once in a while; the doctor had said that she ought to go
to the hospital to find out.

MARGARET

[_To LAURA._] Too bad Craig wasn’t here.

LAURA

Yes. He was detained in New York.

MARGARET

Yes. I know.

LAURA

Abbie, I wish you would go up and ask Mr. Norris if he would like some
more coffee and--see how he seems. [_To MARGARET, resentfully._] I
don’t understand why Craig should be quite like this. [_ABBIE does not
move until LAURA looks at her in surprise, then she turns to go._] No;
I’ll go myself, Abbie. I want to see how he is.

  [_She goes up, and ABBIE comes back. Without looking at MARGARET she
    is turning toward the kitchen._

MARGARET

Abbie! [_Reluctantly ABBIE comes back, at first not looking up. Then
she raises her eyes._] Yes, he told me. [_ABBIE does not speak or
move._] Had she seemed unhappy, Abbie?

ABBIE

No. No, I hadn’t noticed anything.

MARGARET

Abbie! Don’t shut me out like this! _She_ wouldn’t shut me out. Bernice
loved me.

ABBIE

I know. I know she did. But there’s nothing for me to tell you, Miss
Margaret, and it’s hard for me to talk about. I loved her too. I lived
with her her whole life long. First the baby I took care of and played
with--then all the changing with the different years--then _this_--

  [_A move of her hands towards the closed door._

MARGARET

Yes--then this. [_Gently._] That’s it, Abbie. “This”--takes away from
all that. Abbie, do _you_ understand it? If you do, won’t you help me?

ABBIE

I don’t understand it.

MARGARET

It’s something so--outside all the rest. That’s why I can’t accept it.
Something in me just won’t take it in--because it isn’t _right_. I knew
her. I _know_ I knew her! And this--Why then I didn’t know her. Can’t
you help me?

ABBIE

I don’t see how, Miss Margaret.

MARGARET

But if you would tell me things you know--little things--even though
they meant nothing to you they might mean something to me. Abbie!
Because you loved her don’t you want what she was to go on living in
our hearts?

ABBIE

Oh, I do! I do! But she’ll go on living in my heart without my
understanding what she did.

MARGARET

But differently. I’ll tell you what I mean. Everything about her has
always been--herself. That was one of the rare things about her.
And herself--oh, it’s something you don’t want to lose! It’s been
the beauty in my life. In my busy practical life, Bernice--what she
was--like a breath that blew over my life and--made it something.

ABBIE

I know--just what you mean, Miss Margaret.

MARGARET

It’s inconceivable that she should--cut off her own life. In her lived
all the life that was behind her. You felt that in her--so wonderfully.
She felt it in herself--or her eyes couldn’t have been like that.
_Could_ they? Could they, Abbie?

ABBIE

It--wouldn’t seem so.

MARGARET

She wouldn’t destroy so _much_. Why she never destroyed anything--a
flower--a caterpillar. Don’t you see what I mean, Abbie? This denies so
_much_. And then is it true that all this time she wasn’t happy? Why
she seemed happy--as trees grow. Did Mr. Norris make her unhappy? Oh,
don’t think you shouldn’t talk about it. Don’t act as if I shouldn’t
ask. It’s too big for those little scruples. Abbie! I can’t let
Bernice’s life go out in darkness. So tell me--just what happened--each
little thing. [_MARGARET has taken hold of ABBIE; ABBIE has turned
away._] When did you first know she had--taken something? Just what did
she say to you about it? I want to know each little thing! I have a
_right_ to know.

  [_A step is heard above._

ABBIE

[_As if saved._] Mrs. Kirby’s coming down now.

MARGARET

I want to talk to you, Abbie, after the others have gone to bed.

  [_LAURA comes down, ABBIE passes her at the foot of the stairs, and
    goes through to the kitchen._

LAURA

Margaret, what is to be gained in making people feel worse than they
need? Craig upstairs--he’s so broken--strange. And even Abbie as she
passed me now. You seem to do this to them. And why?

MARGARET

I don’t do it to them. I’m not very happy myself.

LAURA

Of course not. None of us can be that. But I believe we should try to
bear things with courage.

MARGARET

That comes easily from the person who’s bearing little!

LAURA

You think it means nothing to me that my brother has lost his wife?

MARGARET

Your brother has lost his wife! That’s all _you_ see in it!

LAURA

I don’t see why you seem so wild--so resentful, Margaret. Death should
soften us.

  [_She takes her old place before the fire._

MARGARET

Well I can tell you this doesn’t soften me!

LAURA

I see that you feel hard toward Craig. But Bernice didn’t. You think
he should have come right home. But you must be just enough to admit
he didn’t have any idea Bernice was going to be taken suddenly sick.
He had been out of the country for three months, naturally there were
things connected with his writing to see about.

MARGARET

Connected with his writing! Laura! Don’t _lie_ about life with death
in the next room. If you want to talk at a time like this, have the
decency to be honest! Try to see the _truth_ about living. Craig stayed
in New York with May Fredericks--and he doesn’t pretend anything else.
Stayed there with May Fredericks, continuing an affair that has been
going on for the past year. And before it was May Fredericks it was
this one and that one. Well, all right. That may be all right. I’m
not condemning Craig for his affairs. I’m condemning you for the front
you’re trying to put up!

LAURA

I certainly am not trying to put up any front. It’s merely that there
seems nothing to be gained in speaking of certain things. If Craig
was--really unfaithful, I do condemn him for that. I haven’t your
liberal ideas. [_Slight pause, she takes up her knitting._] It’s
unfortunate Bernice hadn’t the power to hold Craig.

MARGARET

Hadn’t the power to hold Craig!

LAURA

She didn’t want to--I suppose your scoffing means. Well, she should
have wanted to. It’s what a wife should want to do.

MARGARET

Oh, Laura, Bernice will never say one more word for herself! In there.
Alone. Still. She will not do one new thing to--to throw a light back
on other things. That’s death. A _leaving_ of one’s life. Leaving
it--with us. I cannot talk to you about what Bernice “should have
been.” What she was came true and deep from--[_Throwing out her hands
as if giving up saying it. Taking it up again._] It’s true there was
something in her Craig did not control. Something he couldn’t _mess
up_. There was something in her he might have drawn from and become
bigger than he was. But he’s vain. He has to be bowling some one over
all the time--to show that he has _power_.

LAURA

I don’t agree with you that Craig is especially vain. He’s a man. He
does want to affect--yes, dominate the woman he loves. And if Bernice
didn’t give him that feeling of--

MARGARET

Supremacy.

LAURA

There’s no use trying to talk with you of personal things. Certainly I
don’t want to quarrel tonight. That would not be the thing. [_In a new
tone._] How is your work going? I don’t quite know what you are doing
now, but trying to get some one out of prison, I suppose?

MARGARET

Yes; I am trying to get out of prison all those people who are
imprisoned for ideas.

LAURA

I see.

MARGARET

I doubt if you see, Laura.

LAURA

Well I don’t say I sympathize. But I see.

MARGARET

No; for if you did see, you would have to sympathize. If you did see,
you would be ashamed; you would have to--hang your head for this thing
of locking any man up because of what his mind sees. If thinking is
not to become--whatever thinking may become!--then why are we here at
all? [_She stops and thinks of it._] Why does Bernice--her death--make
that so simple tonight? Because she was herself. She had the gift
for being herself. And she wanted each one to have the chance to be
himself. Anything else hurt her--as it hurt her to see a dog tied, or a
child at a narrow window.

LAURA

I don’t think Bernice was a very good wife for a writer.

MARGARET

She would have been a wonderful wife for a real writer.

LAURA

Oh, I know she didn’t value Craig’s work. And that’s another thing. And
I suppose you don’t value it either. [_She looks at MARGARET, who does
not speak._] Fortunately there are many thousands of people in this
country who do value it. And I suppose you think what I do of little
value too. I suppose you scoff at those things we do to put cripples
back in life.

MARGARET

No, Laura, I don’t scoff at anything that can be done for cripples.
Since men have been crippled, cripples must be helped. I only
say--Don’t cripple minds--strong free minds that might go--we know not
where! Might go into places where the light of a mind has never been.
[_Rising._] Think of it! Think of that chance of making life even
greater than death. [_With passion._] If you have any respect for
life--any reverence--you have to leave the mind free. I do not scoff at
you, but you are not a serious person. You have no faith--no hope--no
self-respect!

LAURA

[_Rising._] _You_ tell me I have no self-respect! You who have not
cared what people thought of you--who have not had the sense of
fitness--the taste--to hold the place you were born to--you tell me,
against whom no word was ever spoken, that I have no self-respect?

MARGARET

You have a blameless reputation, Laura. You have no self-respect. If
you had any respect for your own mind you could not be willing to limit
the mind of any other. If you had any respect for your own spiritual
life you could not be willing to push _your_ self into the spiritual
life of another. [_Roughly._] No! You could not. [_As one seeing
far._] I see it as I never saw it. Oh I wish I could talk to Bernice!
Something is _down_. I could see things as I never saw them.

LAURA

[_Gathering up the things she had been working with._] I will go before
I am insulted further.

MARGARET

There’s nothing insulting in trying to find the truth. [_Impulsively
reaching out her hands to LAURA, as she is indignantly going._] Oh,
Laura, we die so soon! We live so in the dark. We never become what we
might be. I should think we could help each other more.

LAURA

[_After being a moment held._] It would have to be done more
sympathetically.

MARGARET

I didn’t mean to be unsympathetic. [_Watching LAURA go up the stairs._]
I suppose that’s the trouble with me. [_She stands a moment thinking of
this. Then there is something she wants to say. She knows then that she
is alone--and in this room. Slowly she turns and faces the closed door.
Stands so, quite still, realizing. Suddenly turns to the stairway, goes
up a few steps._] Craig! [_Listens, then goes up another step and calls
a little louder._] Craig!

LAURA

[_From above._] Please don’t disturb Craig, Margaret.

  [_MARGARET hesitates, turns to go down. A door opens above._

CRAIG

Did some one call me?

MARGARET

I did, Craig. I’m down here alone--lonely.

CRAIG

[_As if glad to do so._] I’ll come down. [_After coming._] I wanted to
come down. I thought Laura was down here. I can’t pretend--not tonight.

MARGARET

No. I can’t. I wanted so to talk to Bernice, and when I couldn’t
I--called to you.

CRAIG

I was glad to hear my name. It’s too much alone. [_He and MARGARET
stand there hesitatingly, as if they are not able to do it--settle
down in this room and talk. CRAIG takes out his cigarette case. In the
subdued voice of one whose feeling is somewhere else._] You want a
cigarette, Margaret?

MARGARET

No. I don’t believe so.

CRAIG

Oh, I remember, you don’t like these. Bernice must have some of the--

  [_He opens a chest on the mantel, takes from it a beautiful little
    box._

MARGARET

[_As she sees the box._] Oh--[_Turning away._] Thank you, Craig, but--

CRAIG

Of course. [_Holds the box for a moment, then slowly replaces it. He
looks around the room. Then, helplessly._] I don’t know what I’m going
to do.

  [_He sits down before the fire. MARGARET also sits. The door at the
    other side of the room opens and the FATHER comes in from his room._

FATHER

I was going to bed now. I thought I’d go in here first.

  [_Slowly goes in where Bernice is. A little while CRAIG and MARGARET
    sit there silent._

CRAIG

And I don’t know what he’s going to do. Poor old man. Bernice was
certainly good to him--keeping him happy in that life he made for
himself away from life. It’s queer about him, Margaret. Somehow he just
didn’t go on, did he? Made a fight in his youth, and stopped there.
He’s one of the wrecks of the Darwinian theory. Spent himself fighting
for it, and--let it go at that. [_Running his hand through his hair._]
Oh, well, I suppose we’re all wrecks of something. [_With a nervous
laugh._] What are you a wreck of, Margaret? You’re a wreck of free
speech. [_Impatiently._] I’m talking like a fool. I’m nervous. I’ll be
glad when he goes to bed. [_Looking upstairs._] I guess Laura’s gone to
bed. [_After looking into the fire._] Well, Bernice isn’t leaving any
children to--be without her. I suppose now it’s just as well we lost
our boy before we ever had him. But she would have made a wonderful
mother, wouldn’t she, Margaret?

MARGARET

Oh, yes!

CRAIG

You ever wish you had children, Margaret?

MARGARET

Yes.

CRAIG

[_Roughly._] Well, why don’t you have?

MARGARET

[_Slowly._] Why, I don’t just know, Craig. Life--seems to get filled up
so quickly.

CRAIG

Yes. And before we know it, it’s all over--or as good as over.
Funny--how your mind jumps around. Just then I thought of my mother.
How she used to say: “Now eat your bread, Craig.”

  [_His voice breaks, he buries his face in his hands. MARGARET reaches
    over and puts a hand on his shoulder. The door opens and the FATHER
    comes out. He stands looking at them._

FATHER

[_Gently._] Yes. Of course. I’m glad you’re here Margaret. But my
little girl looks very peaceful, Craig. [_Pause._] She had a happy life.

  [_CRAIG moves, turning a little away. MARGARET makes a move as if to
    shield him, but does not do this._

FATHER

Yes; she had a happy life. Didn’t she, Margaret?

MARGARET

I always thought so.

FATHER

Oh, yes. She did. In her own way. A calm way, but very full of her
own kind of happiness. [_After reflection._] Bernice was good to me.
I suppose she might have liked me to have done more things, but--she
wanted me to do what--came naturally to me. I suppose that’s why we
always felt so--comfortable with her. She was never trying to make us
some--outside thing. Well--you know, Margaret, I can see her now as
a baby. She was such a nice baby. She used to--reach out her hands.
[_Doing this himself._] Well, I suppose they all do. I’m going to bed.
[_After starting._] I’m glad you’re here with Craig, Margaret. Bernice
would like this. You two who know all about her--well, no, nobody knew
_all_ about Bernice--but you two who were closest to her, here now
as--close as you can be. I’m going to bed. Good-night.

MARGARET

[_Crying._] Good-night.

CRAIG

[_After the father has closed his door. With violence._] “Reached out
her hands!” And what did she _get_? [_Roughly grasping MARGARET’S
wrists._] I _killed_ Bernice. There’s no use in your saying I didn’t.
I did. Only--[_Letting go of her_] don’t flay me tonight, Margaret. I
couldn’t stand it tonight. [_With another abrupt change._] Am I a fool?
Why did I never know Bernice loved me like this? [_In anguish._] Why
wouldn’t I _know_ it? [_Pause._] We don’t know _anything_ about each
other. Do we, Margaret? Nothing. We never--get anywhere. [_Shivering._]
I’m cold. I wonder if there’s anything to drink in the house. There
must be something. [_He goes out into the kitchen; after a moment there
is the sound of running water; he comes in with a bottle of whiskey, a
pitcher of water._] I don’t see the glasses. Things seem to have been
moved. [_Looks at MARGARET as if expecting she will go and get them;
she does not; he goes out again. From the kitchen._] Margaret, have you
any idea where the glasses are?

MARGARET

No, Craig. I don’t know. [_After hearing him moving things around._]
Isn’t Abbie somewhere there?

CRAIG

No; she isn’t here. She seems to have gone outdoors. She’s left the
door open too. No wonder it was cold. [_Calling at an outer door._]
Abbie! [_Sound of the door closing. Again the sound of dishes being
moved._] Well, I don’t know where they can have put--

MARGARET

[_Covering her face._] Don’t _look_ for things. [_More quietly._] Bring
anything, Craig, there must be something there.

CRAIG

[_Coming in with cups._] Things have been moved around. I stumbled over
things that didn’t used to be there. You’ll have a little, Margaret?
It--we need something.

MARGARET

I don’t--oh, I don’t care.

  [_He pours the drinks and drinks his._

CRAIG

[_Abruptly shoving his cup away._] Margaret, I loved Bernice. I suppose
you don’t believe that! And I thought Bernice knew I loved her, in
spite of--other things. What do you think it is is the matter with me,
Margaret, that I--[_Saying it as if raw_] miss things. You can tell me.
I’d be glad to feel some one knew. Only--don’t leave me alone while
you’re telling me!

MARGARET

I’m afraid I have nothing to tell you, Craig. I thought I knew Bernice.
And now--I _did_ know Bernice! [_Gropingly._] I feel something we don’t
get to.

CRAIG

And Bernice can’t help us.

MARGARET

I think she would expect us to--find our way. She could always find her
way. She had not meant to leave us _here_. Bernice was so kind.

CRAIG

She was kind.

MARGARET

Such a sensitive kindness. The kindness that divined feeling and was
there ahead--to meet it. This is the very thing she would _not_ do.

CRAIG

[_Slowly, as if feeling his way._] Margaret, I wish I could tell
you about me and Bernice. I loved her. She loved me. But there was
something in her that had almost nothing to do with our love.

MARGARET

Yes.

CRAIG

Well, that isn’t right, Margaret. You want to feel that you _have_ the
woman you love. Yes--completely. Yes, every bit of her!

MARGARET

So you turned to women whom you could have.

CRAIG

Yes.

MARGARET

But you “had” all of them simply because there was less to have. You
want no baffling sense of something beyond you. [_He looks at her
reproachfully._] You wanted me to help you find the truth. I don’t
believe you can stand truth, Craig.

CRAIG

It’s hard tonight.

MARGARET

[_Intensely._] But perhaps it is tonight or not at all. It’s a strange
thing this has done. A light trying to find its way through a fog. [_In
her mind the light tries to do this._] Craig, why do you write the
things you do?

CRAIG

Oh, Margaret, is this any time to talk of work?

MARGARET

It seems to be. Tonight it’s all part of the same thing. Laura and
I were talking of work--quarreling about it: you were talking of
Bernice’s father. The light--just goes there. That poor sad old
man--why didn’t he go on? You said he was a wreck of the Darwinian
theory. Then me--a wreck of free speech.

CRAIG

Oh I didn’t mean you were, Margaret.

MARGARET

But I might be. I can see that. We give ourselves in fighting for a
thing that seems important and in that fight we get out of the flow of
life. We had meant it to deepen the flow--but we get caught. I know
people like that. People who get at home in their fight--and stay
there--and are left there when the fight’s over--like this old man. How
many nights Bernice and I have sat in this room and talked of things!
And I had thought--[_With sudden angry passion._] If you had been good
to her, she would be in this room now. [_After a look at him._] I’m
sorry. But can I help feeling it?

CRAIG

I didn’t know.

MARGARET

No; you didn’t know. We don’t know. When you think what a writer
might do for life--for we _don’t_ know. You write so well, Craig,
but--what of it? What is it is the matter with you--with all you
American writers--’most all of you. A well-put-up light--but it doesn’t
penetrate anything. It never makes the fog part. Just shows itself
off--a well-put-up light. [_Growing angry._] It would be better if we
didn’t have you at all! Can’t you see that it would? Lights which--only
light themselves keep us from having light--from knowing what the
darkness is. [_After thinking._] Craig, as you write these things are
there never times when you sit there _dumb_ and know that you are glib
and empty?

CRAIG

Did you ever try to write, Margaret?

MARGARET

No.

CRAIG

I suppose you think it’s very simple to be real. I suppose you think we
could do it--if we just wanted to do it. Try it. You try.

MARGARET

So you do this just to cover the fact that you _can’t_ do anything?
Your skill--a mask for your lack of power?

CRAIG

I should think you’d want to be good to me tonight, Margaret.

MARGARET

Be good to you! Keep you from seeing. That’s the way we’re good to each
other. There’s only one thing I could do for you tonight, Craig. You
don’t want that. So--

  [_Moves as if to rise._

CRAIG

No, don’t go away. My brain won’t keep still either. What I think is
just as bad as what you say. Well, why do you think it is I--miss
things--never get anywhere?

MARGARET

I don’t know. And it’s true of all of us. Of me too. I do things that
to me seem important, and yet I just do _them_--I don’t get to the
thing I’m doing them for--to life itself. I don’t simply and profoundly
get to _life_. Bernice did.

CRAIG

Yes. Bernice did.

MARGARET

And yet you had to--shy away from Bernice. Into a smaller world
that could be all your world. No, Craig, you haven’t power. It’s
true. And for one hour in our lives let’s try to--Those love affairs
of yours--they’re like your false writing--to keep yourself from
knowing you haven’t power. Did you ever see a child try to do a
thing--fail--then turn to something he could do and make a great show
of doing that? That’s what most of our lives are like.

CRAIG

[_Rudely._] Well, why _haven’t_ I power? If you are going to be any
good to me--tell me that.

MARGARET

[_Shaking her head._] I can’t tell you that. I haven’t any light
that--goes there. But isn’t it true? Isn’t your life this long attempt
to appear effective--to persuade yourself that you _are_ something?
What a way to spend the little time there is for living.

CRAIG

I fancy it’s the way most lives are spent.

MARGARET

That only makes it infinitely sadder.

CRAIG

[_As if he can stay in this no longer._] As to writing, Margaret, the
things that interest you wouldn’t interest most people.

MARGARET

“Wouldn’t interest most people!” Oh, Craig, don’t slide away from
that one honest moment. Say you haven’t got it. Don’t say they
wouldn’t want it. Why, if now--in this our day--our troubled day of
many shadows--came a light--a light to reach those never lighted
places--wouldn’t _want_ it? I wish some one could try them! No, Craig,
they all have their times of suspecting their lives are going by in
a fog. They’re _pitifully_ anxious for a little light. Why--they
continue to look to _writers_. You know, Craig, what living makes of
us--it’s a rim--a bounded circle--and yet we know--have our times
of suspecting--that if we could break through _that_. [_Seeing._]
O-h. It’s like living in the mountains--those high vast places of
Colorado--in a little house with shaded windows. You’d _suspect_ what
was there! A little sunshine through the cracks--mountain smells--and
at times the house would shake--and you’d wonder--and be fretted in
your little room. And if some day you could put up the shade and--_see
where you were_. Life would never be so small a thing again. Bernice
could do that. Her own life did not bound her.

CRAIG

No. That was what--

MARGARET

Hurt your vanity?

CRAIG

I don’t know. I’m trying to be honest. I honestly don’t know.

MARGARET

No. We don’t know. That’s why--oh, Craig, it would be so wonderful
to be a writer--something that gets a little farther than others can
get--gets at least the edge of the shadow. [_After her own moment on
the edge of the shadow._] If you ever felt the shock of reality, and
_got_ that back in you--you wouldn’t be thinking of whom it would
“interest”! But, Craig--_this_. [_A movement toward the closed room._]
Doesn’t _this_ give you that shock of reality?

CRAIG

What of _you_? Doesn’t it give it to you? You’re speaking as if this
hadn’t happened! You leave it out--what Bernice did because of me.
You’re talking of my having no power. What of _this_? _Had_ I no power?
[_After her look at him._] Oh, yes--I know I used it terribly--plenty
of years for my heart to break over that. But can you say I didn’t
_have_ it?

MARGARET

I do leave it out. It isn’t right there should be anything in Bernice
not Bernice. And she had a great rightness--rightness without
effort--that rare, rare thing.

CRAIG

You say it isn’t right--and so you leave it out? And then _you_ talk
about the shock of reality.

MARGARET

I don’t say it isn’t fact. I say it isn’t--_in the rightness_.

CRAIG

“In the rightness!” Is that for you to say? Is rightness what you
think? What you can see? No. You didn’t know Bernice. You didn’t know
she loved me--_that way_. And I didn’t know. But she did! How _could_ I
have had that--and not _known_? But I _did_ have it! I did _have_ it!
You say life broke through her--the whole of life. But Bernice didn’t
want--the whole of life. She wanted _me_. [_He goes to the door, bows
against it, all sorrow and need._] I want to talk to _her_--not you. I
want her _now_--_knowing_.

  [_He opens that door and goes in to Bernice. MARGARET stands
    motionless, searching, and as if something is coming to her from
    the rightness. When she speaks it is a denial from that inner
    affirmation._

MARGARET

No! I say--No! [_Feeling some one behind her, swiftly turning she sees
ABBIE outside, looking through the not quite drawn curtains of the
door. She goes to the door and draws ABBIE in._] Yes, I _am_ here--and
I say _no_. [_She has hold of her, drawing her in as she says it._]
You understand--I say _no_. _I don’t believe it._ What you told me--_I
don’t believe it_.

ABBIE

[_At first it is horror--then strange relief, as if nothing could be so
bad as this has been._] Well, I’m glad you know.

MARGARET

[_Very slowly, knowing now it is fact she has come to._] Glad I know
_what_?

ABBIE

That it isn’t true. That she didn’t do it.

MARGARET

Didn’t do it? Did _not_ take her own life?

ABBIE

No. Of course she didn’t.

MARGARET

[_Still very slowly, as if much more is coming than she can take in._]
Then _why_--did you say she did?

ABBIE

Because she said I must. Oh--look at me! Look at me! But you knew
her. You know the strength of her. If she’d told you the way she told
me--_you’d have done it too_. You would!

MARGARET

[_Saying each word by itself._] I can not understand one word you’re
saying. Something is wrong with you. [_Changing, and roughly taking
hold of ABBIE._] Tell me. Quick, the truth.

ABBIE

Wednesday night, about eight o’clock, about an hour after she told me
to telegraph you, she said, “Why, Abbie, I believe I’m going to die.” I
said no, but she said, “I think so.” I said we’d send for Mr. Norris.
She said no, and not to frighten her father. I--_I_ didn’t think she
was going to die. All the time I was trying to get the doctor. There
were two hours when she was--quiet. Quiet--not like any quiet I ever
knew. Thinking. You could see thinking in her eyes--stronger than
sickness. Then, after ten, she called me to her. She took my hands.
She said, “Abbie, you’ve lived with me all my life.” “Yes,” I said.
“You love me.” “Oh, yes,” I said. “Will you do something for me?” “You
know I will,” I told her. “Abbie,” she said, looking right at me,
_all_ of her looking right at me, “if I die, I want you to tell my
husband I killed myself.” [_MARGARET falls back._] Yes, I did that
too. Then I thought it was her mind. But I looked at her, and oh, her
mind was there! It was terrible--how it was all _there_. She said--and
then she [_The sobs she has been holding back almost keep ABBIE from
saying this_]--held out her hands to me--“Oh, Abbie, do this last
thing for me! After all there has been, I have a _right_ to do it.
If my life is going--let me have _this_ much from it!” And as still
I couldn’t--_couldn’t_--the tears ran down her face and she said, “I
want to rest before pain comes again. Promise me so I can rest.” And I
promised. And you would have too!

MARGARET

You don’t know what you’re _telling_ me! You don’t know _what_ you’re
doing. You do this _now_--after she can do nothing? [_Holding out her
hands._] Abbie! Tell me it isn’t true!

ABBIE

It’s true.

MARGARET

You are telling me her life was _hate_? [_Stops, half turns to the room
where CRAIG is with Bernice._] You are telling me she covered hate
with--with the beauty that was like nothing else? Abbie! _You_ are
telling me that as Bernice left life she _held out her hands_ and asked
you to take _this_ back for her?

ABBIE

There are things we can’t understand. There’s no use trying.

  [_She turns to go._

MARGARET

You can’t leave me like this!

ABBIE

[_More gently._] You shouldn’t have tried to know. But--if you have
_got_ to know things--you have got to take them.

  [_CRAIG comes out; ABBIE goes._

CRAIG

Go in there, Margaret. There’s something wonderful there.

MARGARET

[_Turned from him, her face buried in her hands._] Oh no--no--no. I can
_never_ go in there. I--I never _was_--in there.

  [_Her other words are lost in wild sobbing. He stands regarding her
    in wonder, but not losing what he himself has found._

  (CURTAIN)


ACT THREE

SCENE: _The same as in Acts One and Two; it is early afternoon of the
next day; the door leading outdoors is a little open; when the curtain
is drawn CRAIG is seen outside, just passing the window, as one who
is walking back and forth in thinking. In the room are LAURA and the
FATHER--the FATHER sitting at the table by the stairs--LAURA, standing,
watches CRAIG pass the door; she has in her hand a paper on which are
some memoranda. After watching CRAIG she sighs, looks at her notes,
sits down._

LAURA

I’m sorry to be troubling you, Mr. Allen. Certainly you should not be
asked to discuss these matters about--arrangements. But really, you and
I seem the only people who are capable of going on with things. I must
say, I don’t know what to make of everyone else. They all seem to be
trying to--keep away from one. I think that’s a little unnecessary. Of
course I know what grief does, and I’m sure I have every consideration
for that, but really--I’m sorry Craig keeps his own sister out. When
I’m here to help him. And Abbie--why she seems to have lost her head.
Just when it’s so important that she look after things. And as to
Margaret Pierce--she certainly is worse than useless. I don’t see what
she came for if she didn’t want to be helpful.

FATHER

Margaret and Bernice were very dear friends, Laura.

LAURA

Is that any reason for not being helpful in Bernice’s household at
a time like this? Really I do like control. [_After looking at her
notes._] Then the minister will come here at three, Mr. Allen. Why that
will be little more than an hour! Think of things having been neglected
like this! [_As CRAIG, having turned in his walk, is again passing the
door._] Craig! [_He steps to the door._] The minister, Mr. Howe, will
come here, Craig, at three.

CRAIG

What for?

LAURA

Craig! What _for_?

CRAIG

I don’t see why he comes here. Why Bernice scarcely knew him. [_To her
father._] Did Bernice know him?

FATHER

Well, I don’t know whether she knew him, but--

LAURA

It is not a personal matter, Craig.

CRAIG

I think it is. Very personal.

LAURA

You mean to say you are not going to have any _service_?

CRAIG

I haven’t thought anything about it. Oh, Laura! How can I think of such
things now?

LAURA

Well, I will think of them for you, dear.

CRAIG

Don’t bring him here. He can go--[_Stops_] there, if he wants to.
Where--we have to go. Not here. In her own house. The very last thing.

FATHER

I’m afraid it will seem strange, Craig.

CRAIG

Strange? Do I care if it seems strange? Bernice seemed strange too.
But she wasn’t strange. She was wonderful. [_Putting out his hand
impatiently._] Oh, _no_, Laura. There’s so much else to think of--now.

  [_He steps out of the door and stands there, his back to the room._

FATHER

[_In a low voice._] I wonder--could we go somewhere else? Into my room,
perhaps. I’m afraid we are keeping Craig out of here. And I think he
wants to be here--near Bernice. We will be undisturbed in my room.

  [_He gets up and goes to the door of his room, LAURA turns to follow.
    Outside CRAIG passes from sight._

LAURA

I think it’s too bad things have to be made so--complicated.

FATHER

[_After opening the door._] Oh, Margaret is in here.

MARGARET

[_From the other room._] I was just going out. I just came in here
to--[_Enters._] I just went in there--I didn’t think about it being
your room.

FATHER

Why that was quite all right, Margaret. I’m only sorry to disturb you.

MARGARET

No. That doesn’t matter. I--wasn’t doing anything.

LAURA

There is a great deal to do.

  [_She follows the FATHER into his room. MARGARET walks across the
    room, walks back, stands still, head bent, hands pressing her
    temples. ABBIE comes part way down the stairs, sees MARGARET,
    stands still as if not to be heard, turns to go back upstairs._

MARGARET

[_Hearing her, looking up._] Abbie! [_ABBIE comes slowly down._] Where
is he, Mr. Norris? Where is he?

ABBIE

I don’t know. He was here a little while ago. Perhaps he went out.

  [_Indicating the open door._

MARGARET

I have to tell him!

ABBIE

[_After an incredulous moment._] Tell _him_ what you made me tell you?

MARGARET

Of course I have to tell him! You think I can leave that on him? And
the things I said to him--they were not just.

ABBIE

And you’d rather be “just” than leave it as she wanted it?

MARGARET

Oh, but Abbie--what she _wanted_--[_Holds up her hand as if to shut
something from her eyes._] No. You can’t put that on anyone. I couldn’t
_live_--feeling I had left on him what shouldn’t be there.

ABBIE

But you wouldn’t tell him _now_?

MARGARET

I must tell him now. Or I won’t tell him. And I must go away. I can’t
stay. I can’t stay here.

ABBIE

But what will they think--your leaving? You mean--before we’ve taken
_her_ away?

MARGARET

Oh, I don’t know. How can I--plan it out? I’m going as soon as I can
tell him. All night--all day--I’ve been trying to tell him--and when I
get near him--I run away. _Why did you tell me?_

ABBIE

[_Harshly._] Why did you _know_--what you weren’t to know? But if you
have some way of knowing what you aren’t told--you think you have the
right to do _your_ thing with that? Undo what she did? What _I_ did? Do
you know what it took _out_ of me to do this? There’s nothing left of
me.

MARGARET

[_With a laugh. Right on the verge of being not herself._] No. You’re a
wreck. Another wreck. It’s your Darwinian theory. Your free speech.

ABBIE

Oh, I was afraid of you. I didn’t want you to come. I knew you’d--get
_to_ things.

  [_ABBIE goes to the door and looks out._

MARGARET

He is out there?

ABBIE

Yes.

[_MARGARET tries to go; moves just a little._] And you’d go to him
and--what _for_?

MARGARET

Because I can’t _live_--leaving that on him--having him think--when I
know he didn’t. I can’t leave that on him one more hour.

ABBIE

[_Standing in the door to block her going._] And when you take that
from him--_what do you give to him?_

  [_They stare at one another; MARGARET falls back._

MARGARET

Don’t ask me to see so many things, Abbie. I can only see this thing.
I’ve grown afraid of seeing.

ABBIE

[_After looking at her, seeing something of her suffering._] Miss
Margaret, why did you do what you did last night? How did you know?

MARGARET

I don’t know.

ABBIE

But you knew.

MARGARET

No. I didn’t _know_. I didn’t know. It didn’t come from me. It
came--from the rightness.

  [_A laugh._

ABBIE

If you could get that without being told--why don’t you get more
without being told? [_MARGARET gives her a startled look._] For you
will never be told.

MARGARET

You know _more_?

ABBIE

No. My knowing stops with what you got from me last night. But I knew
her. I thought maybe, as you have some way of knowing what you aren’t
told, you could--see into this. _See._

MARGARET

I’ve lost my seeing. It was through her I saw. It was through Bernice
I could see. And now it’s dark. [_Slowly turning toward the closed
room._] Oh, how still death is.

  [_The two women are as if caught into this stillness._

ABBIE

[_Looking from the door._] He turned this way. [_Swiftly turning back
to MARGARET._] But you _couldn’t_ tell him.

MARGARET

No, I can’t. Yes, I must! I tell you there’s something in me can’t
_stand_ it to see any one go down under a thing he shouldn’t have to
bear. Why that feeling has made my life! Do you think I’ve _wanted_ to
do the kind of work I do? Don’t you think I’d like to be doing--happier
things? But there’s something in my blood _drives_ me to--what’s right.

ABBIE

And something in _my_ blood drives me to what’s right! And I went
against it--went against my whole life--so she could rest. I did it
because I loved her. But you didn’t love her.

MARGARET

Oh--Abbie!

ABBIE

Not as you love--what’s right. If you loved her, don’t you want to
protect her--now that she lies dead in there? [_Her voice breaking._]
Oh, Miss Margaret, it was right at the very _end_ of her life. Maybe
when we’re going to die things we’ve borne all our lives are things we
can’t bear any longer. Just--don’t count that last hour.

MARGARET

[_After a moment of being swayed by this._] Yet you counted it, Abbie.
You did what she said--because of the strength of her. You told me last
night--her mind was there. Terrible the way it was right _there_. She
hadn’t left her life.

ABBIE

Well, and if she hadn’t left her life! If all those years with him
there was something she hid, and if she seemed to feel--what she
didn’t feel. She did it well, didn’t she?--and almost to the last.
Shan’t we hide it now? For her? You and me, who loved her--isn’t she
_safe_--with us? [_Going nearer MARGARET._] Perhaps if you would go in
there now--

MARGARET

Oh no--no.

ABBIE

[_In a last deeply emotional appeal._] Miss Margaret, didn’t she do a
good deal for you?

MARGARET

_Do_ a good deal for me? Yes. Yes!

ABBIE

Yes. She did for me. I--I’m something _more_ on account of her. Aren’t
you?

MARGARET

Yes.

ABBIE

Yes, I think you are too. I can see myself as I’d have been if my life
hadn’t been lived round her. [_Thinks, shakes her head._] It would be
left you--what feels and knows it feels. And you said it was through
Bernice you could see. Well, lets forget what we don’t want to know!
On account of what we are that we wouldn’t have been--lets put it out
of our minds! One ugly thing in a whole beautiful life! Let it go! And
let all the rest live! [_They can see CRAIG outside._] Oh--do this for
_her_. _Make_ yourself do it. Let _that_ be what’s dead--and let all
the rest live! You were _her_ friend not his.

  [_CRAIG turns to the house, but when about to come in, turns away,
    covering his face._

MARGARET

[_Taking hold of ABBIE._] You see? He thinks she loved him and he
killed her. He might do what he thinks she did!

ABBIE

[_Falling back._] O-h.

  [_CRAIG comes in, stands by the door; MARGARET has drawn ABBIE
    over near the stairway. He sees them, but gives no heed to them,
    immersed in what he is living through. While he stands there
    MARGARET does not move. He turns toward the room where Bernice is;
    when he moves MARGARET goes a little toward him--his back is to
    her; ABBIE moves to step between CRAIG and MARGARET; MARGARET puts
    her aside. But when CRAIG comes to the closed door, and stands
    there an instant before it, not opening it, MARGARET too stops, as
    if she cannot come nearer him. It is only after he has opened the
    door and closed it behind him that she goes to it. She puts out her
    hands, but she does not even touch the door and when she cannot do
    this she covers her face and, head bent, stands there before the
    closed door. LAURA and the FATHER come out from the room where they
    have been. As they enter ABBIE slowly goes out, toward the kitchen._

LAURA

[_After looking at MARGARET, who has not moved._] We are going in an
hour, Margaret.

MARGARET

Going?

LAURA

Taking Bernice to the cemetery.

MARGARET

Oh. Are we?

  [_After a look which shows her disapproval LAURA goes out, following
    ABBIE._

FATHER

[_Sitting._] I can’t believe that, Margaret.

MARGARET

No. [_MARGARET sits in the window seat, by which she has been standing.
As if she is just realizing what they have said._] You say--we are
taking Bernice away from here--in an hour?

FATHER

Yes. Think of it, Margaret. I just can’t--take it in.

MARGARET

No.

FATHER

There is something I want to tell you, Margaret. [_MARGARET gives him
a quick look, then turns away, as if afraid._] I’ve been wanting to
tell you--but it’s hard to talk of such things. But before we--take
Bernice away, before you--see her the last time--I want you to know.
That night--the night Bernice died--at the very last, Abbie was afraid
then--and had called to me. Abbie and I were in there and--Abbie went
out, about the telephone call we had in for the doctor. I was all alone
in there a few minutes--right at the last. Bernice said one last word,
Margaret. Your name.

MARGARET

She called to me?

FATHER

No, I wouldn’t say she called to you. Just said your name. The way we
say things to ourselves--say them without knowing we were going to say
them. She didn’t really say it. She breathed it. It seemed to come from
her whole life.

MARGARET

O-h. Then it wasn’t as if she had left me? It wasn’t as if anything was
in between--

FATHER

Why no, Margaret. What an idea. Why I don’t think you ever were as
close to Bernice as when she said your name and died.

  [_MARGARET’S head goes down; she is crying. CRAIG comes out,
    carefully closing the door behind him. Partly crosses the room,
    looks uncertainly at the outer door as if to go outside again._

FATHER

Sit down, Craig. [_CRAIG does this._] Let’s not try to keep away from
each other now. We’re all going through the same thing--in our--our
different ways. [_A pause. MARGARET raises her head; she is turned
a little away from the other two._] I was so glad when you came,
Margaret. I don’t want Bernice to slip away from us. In an hour
we--take her away from here--out of this house she loved. I don’t want
her to slip away from us. She loved you so, Margaret. Didn’t she, Craig?

CRAIG

Yes. She did love Margaret.

FATHER

Oh, yes. “Margaret sees things,” she’d say. [_Wistfully._] She had
great beauty--didn’t she, Margaret?

MARGARET

I always thought so.

FATHER

Oh, yes. I was thinking last night--malice was not in Bernice. I never
knew her to do a--really unfriendly thing to any one. [_Again in that
wistful way._] You know, Margaret, I had thought you would say things
like this--and better than I can say them, to--to keep my little girl
for us all. I suppose I’m a foolish old man but I seem to want them
said. [_Pause. MARGARET seems to try to speak, but does not._] I think
it was gentle of Bernice to be amused by things she--perhaps couldn’t
admire in us she loved. Me. I suppose she might have liked a father
who amounted to more--but she always seemed to take pleasure in me.
Affectionate amusement. Didn’t you feel that in Bernice, Craig?

CRAIG

Yes--that was one thing. A surface for other things. [_He speaks out
of pain, but out of pain which wants, if it can, to speak._] But only
a surface. [_With passion._] _All_ of Bernice went into her love
for me. Those big impersonal things--they were not apart. _All_ of
Bernice--loved me. [_His voice breaks, he goes to the door, starts out.
Suddenly steps back--with a quick rough turn to her._] Isn’t that so,
Margaret?

MARGARET

I can see--what you mean, Craig.

FATHER

Why of course Bernice loved you. I know that.

  [_Craig goes outside._

[_Looking after him._] I hope I didn’t send Craig away. You and
he would rather not talk. Perhaps that is better. I seem to want
to--gather up things that will keep Bernice. It’s so easy for the dead
to slip from us. But I mustn’t bother you.

MARGARET

Oh, you aren’t! I--I’m sorry I’m not--doing more. I’m pulled down.

FATHER

I know, Margaret. I can see that. Another time you and I will talk
of Bernice. I didn’t mean she didn’t love Craig. Of course not. Only
[_Hesitatingly_] I did feel that much as went into her loving--there
was more than went into her loving.

MARGARET

Yes.

FATHER

I think it wasn’t that she--wanted it that way. You know, Margaret,
I felt something--very wistful in Bernice. [_MARGARET looks at him,
nods._] In this calm now--I feel the wistfulness there was in her other
calm.

MARGARET

Yes.

FATHER

As if she wanted to give us more. Oh--she gave more than any one else
could have given. But not _all_ she was. And she would like to have
given us--all she was. She wanted to give--what couldn’t be given.
[_Pause._] You know what I mean, Margaret?

MARGARET

Yes, I do know.

FATHER

And so--wistfulness. I see it now. [_After thinking._] I think Bernice
feared she was not a very good wife for Craig. [_MARGARET gives him
a startled look._] Little things she’d say. I don’t know--perhaps I’m
wrong. [_After a move of MARGARET’S._] You were going to say something,
Margaret.

MARGARET

No. I was just thinking of what you said.

FATHER

Craig didn’t dominate Bernice. I don’t know whose fault it was. I don’t
know that it was anyone’s fault. Just the way things were. He--I say
it in all kindness, he just didn’t--have it in him. [_Slowly._] As I
haven’t had certain things in me.

  [_ABBIE comes in._

ABBIE

People are coming. The Aldrichs--other neighbors.

FATHER

Oh--they are coming? [_With pain._] Already? Oh. They are to wait in
the south room--till a little later. I’ll speak to them.

  [_They go out; MARGARET has a moment alone. Then CRAIG comes in from
    outside._

CRAIG

People are beginning to come. I suppose they’ll come in here soon. I--I
don’t want them to.

  [_LAURA enters with boxes of flowers._

Oh--Laura, _please_. Bernice _loved_ flowers.

LAURA

Well--_Craig_.

CRAIG

Would you take them around the other way? Or keep them till later--or
something. I don’t _want_ them here!

  [_LAURA goes out._

CRAIG

I don’t want things to be different. Not now--in the last hour. It’s
still Bernice’s house. [_After watching her a moment._] Margaret,
I’m afraid I shouldn’t have told you. It’s doing too much to you.
Surely--no matter what you feel about me--this--what I told you--isn’t
going to keep you away from Bernice?

MARGARET

No, Craig. What you told me--isn’t going to do that.

CRAIG

I shouldn’t have told you. But there are things--too much to be alone
with. And yet--we are alone with them. [_He is seated, looking out
toward the woods. Very slowly--with deep feeling._] It is a different
world. Life will never be--that old thing again.

MARGARET

[_Rising._] Craig! [_He looks at her._] Craig, I must tell you--

  [_She does not go on._

CRAIG

[_After waiting an instant, looks away._] I know. We can’t say things.
When we get right _to_ life--we can’t say things.

MARGARET

But I must say them. I have to tell you--life need not be a different
thing.

CRAIG

_Need_ not? You think I want that old thing back? Pretending. Fumbling.
Always trying to seem something--to feel myself something. No. That’s
a strange thing for you to say, Margaret--that I can go back to my
make-believe, now that I’ve got _to_ life. This--[_As if he cannot
speak of it_] _this_--even more than it makes me want to die it makes
me want to--Oh, Margaret, if I could have Bernice now--_knowing_. And
yet--I never had her until now. This--has given Bernice to me.

MARGARET

[_As if his words are a light she is almost afraid to use._] This--has
given Bernice to you?

CRAIG

I was thinking--walking out there I was thinking, if I knew only--what
I knew when I came here--that Bernice was dead--I wonder if I could
have got past that failure.

MARGARET

Failure, Craig?

CRAIG

Of never having had her. That she had lived, and loved me--loved me,
you see--lived and loved me and died without my ever having had her.
What would there have been to go on living for? Why should such a
person go on living? Now--of course it is another world. This comes
crashing through my make-believe--and Bernice’s world get to me. Don’t
you _see_, Margaret?

MARGARET

Perhaps--I do. [_She looks at the closed door; looks back to him.
Waits._] O-h. [_Waits again, and it grows in her._] Perhaps I do.

  [_Turns and very slowly goes to the closed door, opens it, goes in.
    At the other side of the room ABBIE comes in with a floral piece._

CRAIG

_No_, Abbie. I just told my sister--I don’t want this room to be
different. [_Looking around._] It is different. What have you done to
it?

  [_He sees the pillow crowded in at the side of the fireplace.
    Restores it to its place in the window._

ABBIE

And this was here.

  [_She returns the vase to its place._

CRAIG

Of course it was. But it isn’t right yet. [_After considering._]
Why--the tea table! [_ABBIE turns toward the kitchen._] What did you
put it out there for? I remember now--I stumbled against it last
night. [_They bring it in._] Why, yes, Abbie, the tea-table was always
here--before the fire.

ABBIE

And--

  [_She hesitates, but CRAIG follows her eyes to the chair._

CRAIG

Yes. [_He too hesitates; then gives the chair its old place before the
table, as if awaiting the one who will come and pour tea. A moment they
stand looking at it. Then CRAIG looks around the room._] And what if it
is still wrong, Abbie?

ABBIE

In the fall there were always branches in that vase. [_Indicating the
one she has returned to its place._] The red and yellow branches from
outside.

CRAIG

Yes.

  [_He goes out. With feeling which she cannot quite control ABBIE does
    a few little things at the tea-table, relating one thing to another
    until it is as it used to be. MARGARET comes out from the room
    where she has been with Bernice, leaving the door wide open behind
    her. With the quiet of profound wonder; in a feeling that creates
    the great stillness, she goes to ABBIE._

MARGARET

Oh--Abbie. Yes--I know now. I want you to know. Only--there are things
not for words. Feeling--not for words. As a throbbing thing that flies
and sings--not for the hand. [_She starts to close her hand, uncloses
it._] But, Abbie--there is nothing to hide. There is no shameful thing.
What you saw in her eyes as she brooded over life in leaving it--what
made you afraid--was _her_ seeing--her seeing into the shadowed places
of the life she was leaving. And then--a gift to the spirit. A gift
sent back through the dark. Preposterous. Profound. Oh--love her Abbie!
She’s worth more love than we have power to give! [_CRAIG has come back
with some branches from the trees; he stands outside the door a moment,
taking out a few he does not want. MARGARET hears him and turns. Then
turns back._] Power. Oh, how _strange_.

  [_CRAIG comes in, and MARGARET and ABBIE watch him as he puts the
    bright leaves in the vase. The FATHER comes in._

FATHER

The man who is in charge says we will have to be ready now to--[_Seeing
what has been done to the room._] Oh, you have given the room back to
Bernice!

MARGARET

Given everything back to Bernice. Bernice. Insight. The tenderness of
insight. And the courage. [_To the FATHER, and suddenly with tears in
her voice._] She _was_ wistful. And held out her hands [_Doing this_]
with gifts she was not afraid to send back. [_Very simply._] She loved
you, Craig.

CRAIG

I know that, Margaret. I know now how much.

MARGARET

[_Low._] And more than that. [_Her voice electric._] Oh, in all the
world--since first life _moved_--has there been any beauty like the
beauty of perceiving love?... No. Not for words.

  [_She closes her hand, uncloses it in a slight gesture of freeing
    what she would not harm._

  (CURTAIN)

       *       *       *       *       *

SUPPRESSED DESIRES

A COMEDY IN TWO SCENES

(In Collaboration with George Cram Cook)

First Performed by the Provincetown Players, at the Wharf Theatre,
Provincetown, Mass., August, 1914

       *       *       *       *       *

ORIGINAL CAST

  HENRIETTA BREWSTER   SUSAN GLASPELL
  STEPHEN BREWSTER   GEORGE CRAM COOK
  MABEL                     MARY PYNE



SUPPRESSED DESIRES


SCENE I: _A studio apartment in an upper story, Washington Square
South. Through an immense north window in the back wall appear tree
tops and the upper part of the Washington Arch. Beyond it you look up
Fifth Avenue. Near the window is a big table, loaded at one end with
serious-looking books and austere scientific periodicals. At the other
end are architect’s drawings, blue prints, dividing compasses, square,
ruler, etc. At the left is a door leading to the rest of the apartment;
at the right the outer door. A breakfast table is set for three, but
only two are seated at it--HENRIETTA and STEPHEN BREWSTER. As the
curtains withdraw STEVE pushes back his coffee cup and sits dejected._

HENRIETTA

It isn’t the coffee, Steve dear. There’s nothing the matter with the
coffee. There’s something the matter with _you_.

STEVE

[_Doggedly._] There may be something the matter with my stomach.

HENRIETTA

[_Scornfully._] Your stomach! The trouble is not with your stomach but
in your subconscious mind.

STEVE

Subconscious piffle!

  [_Takes morning paper and tries to read._

HENRIETTA

Steve, you never used to be so disagreeable. You certainly have got
some sort of a complex. You’re all inhibited. You’re no longer open to
new ideas. You won’t listen to a word about psychoanalysis.

STEVE

A word! I’ve listened to volumes!

HENRIETTA

You’ve ceased to be creative in architecture--your work isn’t going
well. You’re not sleeping well--

STEVE

How can I sleep, Henrietta, when you’re always waking me up to find out
what I’m dreaming?

HENRIETTA

But dreams are so important, Steve. If you’d tell yours to Dr. Russell
he’d find out exactly what’s wrong with you.

STEVE

There’s nothing wrong with me.

HENRIETTA

You don’t even talk as well as you used to.

STEVE

Talk? I can’t say a thing without you looking at me in that dark
fashion you have when you’re on the trail of a complex.

HENRIETTA

This very irritability indicates that you’re suffering from some
suppressed desire.

STEVE

I’m suffering from a suppressed desire for a little peace.

HENRIETTA

Dr. Russell is doing simply wonderful things with nervous cases. Won’t
you go to him, Steve?

STEVE

[_Slamming down his newspaper._] No, Henrietta, I won’t!

HENRIETTA

But, Stephen--!

STEVE

Tst! I hear Mabel coming. Let’s not be at each other’s throats the
first day of her visit.

  [_He takes out cigarettes. MABEL comes in from door left, the side
    opposite STEVE, so that he is facing her. She is wearing a rather
    fussy negligee in contrast to HENRIETTA, who wears “radical”
    clothes. MABEL is what is called plump._

MABEL

Good morning.

HENRIETTA

Oh, here you are, little sister.

STEVE

Good morning, Mabel.

  [_MABEL nods to him and turns, her face lighting up, to HENRIETTA._

HENRIETTA

[_Giving MABEL a hug as she leans against her._] It’s so good to have
you here. I was going to let you sleep, thinking you’d be tired after
the long trip. Sit down. There’ll be fresh toast in a minute and
[_Rising_] will you have--

MABEL

Oh, I ought to have told you, Henrietta. Don’t get anything for me. I’m
not eating breakfast.

HENRIETTA

[_At first in mere surprise._] Not eating breakfast?

  [_She sits down, then leans toward MABEL who is seated now, and
    scrutinizes her._

STEVE

[_Half to himself._] The psychoanalytical look!

HENRIETTA

Mabel, why are you not eating breakfast?

MABEL

[_A little startled._] Why, no particular reason. I just don’t care
much for breakfast, and they say it keeps down--[_A hand on her
hip--the gesture of one who is “reducing”_] that is, it’s a good thing
to go without it.

HENRIETTA

Don’t you sleep well? Did you sleep well last night?

MABEL

Oh, yes, I slept all right. Yes, I slept fine last night, only
[_Laughing_] I did have the funniest dream!

STEVE

S-h! S-t!

HENRIETTA

[_Moving closer._] And what did you dream, Mabel?

STEVE

Look-a-here, Mabel, I feel it’s my duty to put you on. Don’t tell
Henrietta your dreams. If you do she’ll find out that you have an
underground desire to kill your father and marry your mother--

HENRIETTA

Don’t be absurd, Stephen Brewster. [_Sweetly to MABEL._] What was your
dream, dear?

MABEL

[_Laughing._] Well, I dreamed I was a hen.

HENRIETTA

A hen?

MABEL

Yes; and I was pushing along through a crowd as fast as I could, but
being a hen I couldn’t walk very fast--it was like having a tight
skirt, you know; and there was some sort of creature in a blue cap--you
know how mixed up dreams are--and it kept shouting after me, “Step,
Hen! Step, Hen!” until I got all excited and just couldn’t move at all.

HENRIETTA

[_Resting chin in palm and peering._] You say you became much excited?

MABEL

[_Laughing._] Oh, yes; I was in a terrible state.

HENRIETTA

[_Leaning back, murmurs._] This is significant.

STEVE

She dreams she’s a hen. She is told to step lively. She becomes
violently agitated. What can it mean?

HENRIETTA

[_Turning impatiently from him._] Mabel, do you know anything about
psychoanalysis?

MABEL

[_Feebly._] Oh--not much. No--I--[_Brightening._] It’s something about
the war, isn’t it?

STEVE

Not that kind of war.

MABEL

[_Abashed._] I thought it might be the name of a new explosive.

STEVE

It _is_.

MABEL

[_Apologetically to HENRIETTA, who is frowning._] You see, Henrietta,
I--we do not live in touch with intellectual things, as you do. Bob
being a dentist--somehow our friends--

STEVE

[_Softly._] Oh, to be a dentist!

  [_Goes to window and stands looking out._

HENRIETTA

Don’t you see anything more of that editorial writer--what was his name?

MABEL

Lyman Eggleston?

HENRIETTA

Yes, Eggleston. He was in touch with things. Don’t you see him?

MABEL

Yes, I see him once in a while. Bob doesn’t like him very well.

HENRIETTA

Your husband does not like Lyman Eggleston? [_Mysteriously._] Mabel,
are you perfectly happy with your husband?

STEVE

[_Sharply._] Oh, come now, Henrietta--that’s going a little strong!

HENRIETTA

Are you perfectly happy with him, Mabel?

  [_STEVE goes to work-table._

MABEL

Why--yes--I guess so. Why--of course I am!

HENRIETTA

Are you happy? Or do you only think you are? Or do you only think you
_ought_ to be?

MABEL

Why, Henrietta, I don’t know what you mean!

STEVE

[_Seizes stack of books and magazines and dumps them on the breakfast
table._] This is what she means, Mabel. Psychoanalysis. My work-table
groans with it. Books by Freud, the new Messiah; books by Jung, the new
St. Paul; the Psychoanalytical Review--back numbers two-fifty per.

MABEL

But what’s it all about?

STEVE

All about your sub-un-non-conscious mind and desires you know not of.
They may be doing you a great deal of harm. You may go crazy with them.
Oh, yes! People are doing it right and left. Your dreaming you’re a
hen--

  [_Shakes his head darkly._

HENRIETTA

Any fool can ridicule anything.

MABEL

[_Hastily, to avert a quarrel._] But what do you say it is, Henrietta?

STEVE

[_Looking at his watch._] Oh, if Henrietta’s going to start that!

  [_During HENRIETTA’S next speech settles himself at work-table and
    sharpens a lead pencil._

HENRIETTA

It’s like this, Mabel. You want something. You think you can’t have
it. You think it’s wrong. So you try to think you don’t want it. Your
mind protects you--avoids pain--by refusing to think the forbidden
thing. But it’s there just the same. It stays there shut up in your
unconscious mind, and it festers.

STEVE

Sort of an ingrowing mental toenail.

HENRIETTA

Precisely. The forbidden impulse is there full of energy which has
simply got to do something. It breaks into your consciousness in
disguise, masks itself in dreams, makes all sorts of trouble. In
extreme cases it drives you insane.

MABEL

[_With a gesture of horror._] Oh!

HENRIETTA

[_Reassuring._] But psychoanalysis has found out how to save us from
that. It brings into consciousness the suppressed desire that was
making all the trouble. Psychoanalysis is simply the latest scientific
method of preventing and curing insanity.

STEVE

[_From his table._] It is also the latest scientific method of
separating families.

HENRIETTA

[_Mildly._] Families that ought to be separated.

STEVE

The Dwights, for instance. You must have met them, Mabel, when you were
here before. Helen was living, apparently, in peace and happiness with
good old Joe. Well--she went to this psychoanalyzer--she was “psyched,”
and biff!--bang!--home she comes with an unsuppressed desire to leave
her husband.

  [_He starts work, drawing lines on a drawing board with a T-square._

MABEL

How terrible! Yes, I remember Helen Dwight. But--but did she have such
a desire?

STEVE

First she’d known of it.

MABEL

And she _left_ him?

HENRIETTA

[_Coolly._] Yes, she did.

MABEL

Wasn’t he kind to her?

HENRIETTA

Why yes, good enough.

MABEL

Wasn’t he kind to her.

HENRIETTA

Oh, yes--kind to her.

MABEL

And she left her good kind husband--!

HENRIETTA

Oh, Mabel! “Left her good, kind husband!” How naïve--forgive me, dear,
but how bourgeoise you are! She came to know herself. And she had the
courage!

MABEL

I may be very naïve and--bourgeoise--but I don’t see the good of a new
science that breaks up homes.

  [_STEVE applauds._

STEVE

In enlightening Mabel, we mustn’t neglect to mention the case of Art
Holden’s private secretary, Mary Snow, who has just been informed of
her suppressed desire for her employer.

MABEL

Why, I think it is terrible, Henrietta! It would be better if we didn’t
know such things about ourselves.

HENRIETTA

No, Mabel, that is the old way.

MABEL

But--but her employer? Is he married?

STEVE

[_Grunts._] Wife and four children.

MABEL

Well, then, what good does it do the girl to be told she has a desire
for him? There’s nothing can be done about it.

HENRIETTA

Old institutions will have to be reshaped so that something can be
done in such cases. It happens, Mabel, that this suppressed desire was
on the point of landing Mary Snow in the insane asylum. Are you so
tight-minded that you’d rather have her in the insane asylum than break
the conventions?

MABEL

But--but have people always had these awful suppressed desires?

HENRIETTA

Always.

STEVE

But they’ve just been discovered.

HENRIETTA

The harm they do has just been discovered. And free, sane people must
face the fact that they have to be dealt with.

MABEL

[_Stoutly._] I don’t believe they have them in Chicago.

HENRIETTA

[_Business of giving MABEL up._] People “have them” wherever the living
Libido--the center of the soul’s energy--is in conflict with petrified
moral codes. That means everywhere in civilization. Psychoanalysis--

STEVE

Good God! I’ve got the roof in the cellar!

HENRIETTA

The roof in the cellar!

STEVE

[_Holding plan at arm’s length._] That’s what psychoanalysis does!

HENRIETTA

That’s what psychoanalysis could _un_-do. Is it any wonder I’m
concerned about Steve? He dreamed the other night that the walls of
his room melted away and he found himself alone in a forest. Don’t
you see how significant it is for an architect to have _walls_ slip
away from him? It symbolizes his loss of grip in his work. There’s some
suppressed desire--

STEVE

[_Hurling his ruined plan viciously to the floor._] Suppressed hell!

HENRIETTA

You speak more truly than you know. It is through suppressions that
hells are formed in us.

MABEL

[_Looking at STEVE, who is tearing his hair._] Don’t you think it would
be a good thing, Henrietta, if we went somewhere else? [_They rise
and begin to pick up the dishes. MABEL drops a plate which breaks.
HENRIETTA draws up short and looks at her--the psychoanalytic look._]
I’m sorry, Henrietta. One of the Spode plates, too. [_Surprised and
resentful as HENRIETTA continues to peer at her._] Don’t take it so to
heart, Henrietta.

HENRIETTA

I can’t help taking it to heart.

MABEL

I’ll get you another. [_Pause. More sharply as HENRIETTA does not
answer._] I said I’ll get you another plate, Henrietta.

HENRIETTA

It’s not the plate.

MABEL

For heaven’s sake, what is it then?

HENRIETTA

It’s the significant little false movement that made you drop it.

MABEL

Well, I suppose everyone makes a false movement once in a while.

HENRIETTA

Yes, Mabel, but these false movements all mean something.

MABEL

[_About to cry._] I don’t think that’s very nice! It was just because I
happened to think of that Mabel Snow you were talking about--

HENRIETTA

_Mabel_ Snow!

MABEL

Snow--Snow--well, what was her name, then?

HENRIETTA

Her name is Mary. You substituted _your own_ name for hers.

MABEL

Well, _Mary_ Snow, then; _Mary_ Snow. I never heard her name but once.
I don’t see anything to make such a fuss about.

HENRIETTA

[_Gently._] Mabel dear--mistakes like that in names--

MABEL

[_Desperately._] They don’t mean something, too, do they?

HENRIETTA

[_Gently._] I am sorry, dear, but they do.

MABEL

But I’m always doing that!

HENRIETTA

[_After a start of horror._] My poor little sister, tell me about it.

MABEL

About what?

HENRIETTA

About your not being happy. About your longing for another sort of life.

MABEL

But I _don’t_.

HENRIETTA

Ah, I understand these things, dear. You feel Bob is limiting you to a
life in which you do not feel free--

MABEL

Henrietta! When did I ever say such a thing?

HENRIETTA

You said you are not in touch with things intellectual. You showed your
feeling that it is Bob’s profession--that has engendered a resentment
which has colored your whole life with him.

MABEL

Why--Henri_et_ta!

HENRIETTA

Don’t be afraid of me, little sister. There’s nothing can shock me or
turn me from you. I am not like that. I wanted you to come for this
visit because I had a feeling that you needed more from life than
you were getting. No one of these things I have seen would excite my
suspicion. It’s the combination. You don’t eat breakfast [_Enumerating
on her fingers_]; you make false moves; you substitute your own name
for the name of another _whose love is misdirected_. You’re nervous;
you _look_ queer; in your eyes there’s a frightened look that is most
unlike you. And this dream. A _hen_. Come with me this afternoon to Dr.
Russell! Your whole life may be at stake, Mabel.

MABEL

[_Gasping._] Henrietta, I--you--you always were the smartest in the
family, and all that, but--this is terrible! I don’t think we _ought_
to think such things. [_Brightening._] Why, I’ll tell you why I dreamed
I was a hen. It was because last night, telling about that time in
Chicago, you said I was as mad as a wet hen.

HENRIETTA

[_Superior._] Did you dream you were a _wet_ hen?

MABEL

[_Forced to admit it._] No.

HENRIETTA

No. You dreamed you were a _dry_ hen. And why, being a hen, were you
urged to step?

MABEL

Maybe it’s because when I am getting on a street car it always
irritates me to have them call “Step lively.”

HENRIETTA

No, Mabel, that is only a child’s view of it--if you will forgive me.
You see merely the elements used in the dream. You do not see into the
dream; you do not see its meaning. This dream of the hen--

STEVE

Hen--hen--wet hen--dry hen--mad hen! [_Jumps up in a rage._] Let me out
of this!

HENRIETTA

[_Hastily picking up dishes, speaks soothingly._] Just a minute, dear,
and we’ll have things so you can work in quiet. Mabel and I are going
to sit in my room.

  [_She goes out left, carrying dishes._

STEVE

[_Seizing hat and coat from an alcove near the outside door._] I’m
going to be psychoanalyzed. I’m going now! I’m going straight to that
infallible doctor of hers--that priest of this new religion. If he’s
got honesty enough to tell Henrietta there’s nothing the matter with
my unconscious mind, perhaps I can be let alone about it, and then I
_will_ be all right. [_From the door in a low voice._] Don’t tell
Henrietta I’m going. It might take weeks, and I couldn’t stand all the
talk.

  [_He hurries out._

HENRIETTA

[_Returning._] Where’s Steve? Gone? [_With a hopeless gesture._] You
see how impatient he is--how unlike himself! I tell you, Mabel, I’m
nearly distracted about Steve.

MABEL

I think he’s a little distracted, too.

HENRIETTA

Well, if he’s gone--you might as well stay here. I have a committee
meeting at the book-shop, and will have to leave you to yourself for an
hour or two. [_As she puts her hat on, taking it from the alcove where
STEVE found his, her eye, lighting up almost carnivorously, falls on
an enormous volume on the floor beside the work table. The book has
been half hidden by the wastebasket. She picks it up and carries it
around the table toward MABEL._] Here, dear, is one of the simplest
statements of psychoanalysis. You just read this and then we can talk
more intelligently. [_MABEL takes volume and staggers back under its
weight to chair rear center, HENRIETTA goes to outer door, stops and
asks abruptly._] How old is Lyman Eggleston?

MABEL

[_Promptly._] He isn’t forty yet. Why, what made you ask that,
Henrietta?

  [_As she turns her head to look at HENRIETTA her hands move toward
    the upper corners of the book balanced on her knees._

HENRIETTA

Oh, nothing. Au revoir.

  [_She goes out. MABEL stares at the ceiling. The book slides to the
    floor. She starts; looks at the book, then at the broken plate on
    the table._]

The plate! The book! [_She lifts her eyes, leans forward elbow on knee,
chin on knuckles and plaintively queries_] Am I unhappy?

  (CURTAIN)

       *       *       *       *       *

SCENE II: _Two weeks later. The stage is as in Scene I, except that
the breakfast table has been removed. During the first few minutes the
dusk of a winter afternoon deepens. Out of the darkness spring rows
of double street-lights almost meeting in the distance. HENRIETTA is
at the psychoanalytical end of STEVE’S work-table, surrounded by open
books and periodicals, writing. STEVE enters briskly._

STEVE

What are you doing, my dear?

HENRIETTA

My paper for the Liberal Club.

STEVE

Your paper on--?

HENRIETTA

On a subject which does not have your sympathy.

STEVE

Oh, I’m not sure I’m wholly out of sympathy with psychoanalysis,
Henrietta. You worked it so hard. I couldn’t even take a bath without
it’s meaning something.

HENRIETTA

[_Loftily._] I talked it because I knew you needed it.

STEVE

You haven’t said much about it these last two weeks. Uh--your faith in
it hasn’t weakened any?

HENRIETTA

Weakened? It’s grown stronger with each new thing I’ve come to know.
And Mabel. She is with Dr. Russell now. Dr. Russell is wonderful! From
what Mabel tells me I believe his analysis is going to prove that I was
right. Today I discovered a remarkable confirmation of my theory in the
hen-dream.

STEVE

What is your theory?

HENRIETTA

Well, you know about Lyman Eggleston. I’ve wondered about him. I’ve
never seen him, but I know he’s less bourgeois than Mabel’s other
friends--more intellectual--and [_Significantly_] she doesn’t see much
of him because Bob doesn’t like him.

STEVE

But what’s the confirmation?

HENRIETTA

Today I noticed the first syllable of his name.

STEVE

Ly?

HENRIETTA

No--egg.

STEVE

Egg?

HENRIETTA

[_Patiently._] Mabel dreamed she was a _hen_. [_STEVE laughs._] You
wouldn’t laugh if you knew how important names are in interpreting
dreams. Freud is full of just such cases in which a whole hidden
complex is revealed by a single significant syllable--like this egg.

STEVE

Doesn’t the traditional relation of hen and egg suggest rather a
maternal feeling?

HENRIETTA

There is something maternal in Mabel’s love, of course, but that’s only
one element.

STEVE

Well, suppose Mabel hasn’t a suppressed desire to be this gentleman’s
mother, but his beloved. What’s to be done about it? What about Bob?
Don’t you think it’s going to be a little rough on him?

HENRIETTA

That can’t be helped. Bob, like everyone else, must face the facts
of life. If Dr. Russell should arrive independently at this same
interpretation I shall not hesitate to advise Mabel to leave her
present husband.

STEVE

Um--hum! [_The lights go up on Fifth Avenue. STEVE goes to the window
and looks out._] How long is it we’ve lived here, Henrietta?

HENRIETTA

Why, this is the third year, Steve.

STEVE

I--we--one would miss this view if one went away, wouldn’t one?

HENRIETTA

How strangely you speak! Oh, Stephen, I _wish_ you’d go to Dr. Russell.
Don’t think my fears have abated because I’ve been able to restrain
myself. I had to on account of Mabel. But now, dear--won’t you go?

STEVE

I--[_He breaks off, turns on the light, then comes and sits beside
HENRIETTA._] How long have we been married, Henrietta?

HENRIETTA

Stephen, I don’t understand you! You _must_ go to Dr. Russell.

STEVE

I have gone.

HENRIETTA

You--what?

STEVE

[_Jauntily._] Yes, Henrietta, I’ve been psyched.

HENRIETTA

You went to Dr. Russell?

STEVE

The same.

HENRIETTA

And what did he say?

STEVE

He said--I--I was a little surprised by what he said, Henrietta.

HENRIETTA

[_Breathlessly._] Of course--one can so seldom anticipate. But tell
me--your dream, Stephen? It means--?

STEVE

It means--I was considerably surprised by what it means.

HENRIETTA

_Don’t_ be so exasperating!

STEVE

It means--you really want to know, Henrietta?

HENRIETTA

Stephen, you’ll drive me mad!

STEVE

He said--of course he may be wrong in what he said.

HENRIETTA

He _isn’t_ wrong. _Tell_ me!

STEVE

He said my dream of the walls receding and leaving me alone in a forest
indicates a suppressed desire--

HENRIETTA

Yes--yes!

STEVE

To be freed from--

HENRIETTA

Yes--freed from--?

STEVE

Marriage.

HENRIETTA

[_Crumples. Stares._] Marriage!

STEVE

He--he may be mistaken, you know.

HENRIETTA

_May_ be mistaken?

STEVE

I--well, of course, I hadn’t taken any stock in it myself. It was only
your great confidence--

HENRIETTA

Stephen, are you telling me that Dr. Russell--Dr. A. E. Russell--told
you this? [_STEVE nods._] Told you you have a suppressed desire to
separate from _me_?

STEVE

That’s what he said.

HENRIETTA

Did he know who you were?

STEVE

Yes.

HENRIETTA

That you were married to me?

STEVE

Yes, he knew that.

HENRIETTA

And he told you to leave me?

STEVE

It seems he must be wrong, Henrietta.

HENRIETTA

[_Rising._] And I’ve sent him more patients--! [_Catches herself and
resumes coldly._] What reason did he give for this analysis?

STEVE

He says the confining walls are a symbol of my feeling about marriage
and that their fading away is a wish-fulfillment.

HENRIETTA

[_Gulping._] Well, is it? Do you want our marriage to end?

STEVE

It was a great surprise to me that I did. You see I hadn’t known what
was in my unconscious mind.

HENRIETTA

[_Flaming._] What did you tell Dr. Russell about me to make him think
you weren’t happy?

STEVE

I never told him a thing, Henrietta. He got it all from his confounded
clever inferences. I--I tried to refute them, but he said that was only
part of my self-protective lying.

HENRIETTA

And that’s why you were so--happy--when you came in just now!

STEVE

Why, Henrietta, how can you say such a thing? I was _sad_. Didn’t I
speak sadly of--of the view? Didn’t I ask how long we had been married?

HENRIETTA

[_Rising._] Stephen Brewster, have you no sense of the seriousness of
this? Dr. Russell doesn’t know what our marriage has been. You do. You
should have laughed him down! Confined--in life with me? Did you tell
him that I _believe_ in freedom?

STEVE

I very emphatically told him that his results were a great surprise to
me.

HENRIETTA

But you accepted them.

STEVE

Oh, not at all. I merely couldn’t refute his arguments. I’m not a
psychologist. I came home to talk it over with you. You being a
disciple of psychoanalysis--

HENRIETTA

If you are going, I wish you would go tonight!

STEVE

Oh, my dear! I--surely I couldn’t do that! Think of my feelings. And my
laundry hasn’t come home.

HENRIETTA

I ask you to go tonight. Some women would falter at this, Steve,
but I am not such a woman. I leave you free. I do not repudiate
psychoanalysis; I say again that it has done great things. It has also
made mistakes, of course. But since you accept this analysis--[_She
sits down and pretends to begin work._] I have to finish this paper. I
wish you would leave me.

STEVE

[_Scratches his head, goes to the inner door._] I’m sorry, Henrietta,
about my unconscious mind.

  [_Alone, HENRIETTA’S face betrays her outraged state of
    mind--disconcerted, resentful, trying to pull herself together. She
    attains an air of bravely bearing an outrageous thing.--The outer
    door opens and MABEL enters in great excitement._

MABEL

[_Breathless._] Henrietta, I’m so glad you’re here. And alone? [_Looks
toward the inner door._] Are you alone, Henrietta?

HENRIETTA

[_With reproving dignity._] Very much so.

MABEL

[_Rushing to her._] Henrietta, he’s found it!

HENRIETTA

[_Aloof._] Who has found what?

MABEL

Who has found what? Dr. Russell has found my suppressed desire!

HENRIETTA

That is interesting.

MABEL

He finished with me today--he got hold of my complex--in the most
amazing way! But, oh, Henrietta--it is so terrible!

HENRIETTA

Do calm yourself, Mabel. Surely there’s no occasion for all this
agitation.

MABEL

But there is! And when you think of the lives that are affected--the
readjustments that must be made in order to bring the suppressed hell
out of me and save me from the insane asylum--!

HENRIETTA

The insane asylum!

MABEL

You said that’s where these complexes brought people!

HENRIETTA

What did the doctor tell you, Mabel?

MABEL

Oh, I don’t know how I can tell you--it is so awful--so unbelievable.

HENRIETTA

I rather have my hand in at hearing the unbelievable.

MABEL

Henrietta, who would ever have thought it? How can it be true? But the
doctor is perfectly certain that I have a suppressed desire for--

  [_Looks at HENRIETTA, is unable to continue._

HENRIETTA

Oh, go on, Mabel. I’m not unprepared for what you have to say.

MABEL

Not unprepared? You mean you have suspected it?

HENRIETTA

From the first. It’s been my theory all along.

MABEL

But, Henrietta, I didn’t know myself that I had this secret desire for
Stephen.

HENRIETTA

[_Jumps up._] Stephen!

MABEL

My brother-in-law! My own sister’s husband!

HENRIETTA

_You_ have a suppressed desire for _Stephen_!

MABEL

Oh, Henrietta, aren’t these unconscious selves terrible? They seem so
unlike _us_!

HENRIETTA

What insane thing are you driving at?

MABEL

[_Blubbering._] Henrietta, don’t you use that word to me. I don’t
_want_ to go to the insane asylum.

HENRIETTA

What did Dr. Russell say?

MABEL

Well, you see--oh, it’s the strangest thing! But you know the voice in
my dream that called “Step, Hen!” Dr. Russell found out today that when
I was a little girl I had a story-book in words of one syllable and I
read the name Stephen wrong. I used to read it S-t-e-p, step, h-e-n,
hen. [_Dramatically._] Step Hen is Stephen. [_Enter STEPHEN, his head
bent over a time-table._] Stephen is Step Hen!

STEVE

I? Step Hen?

MABEL

[_Triumphantly._] S-t-e-p, step, H-e-n, hen, Stephen!

HENRIETTA

[_Exploding._] Well, what if Stephen is Step Hen? [_Scornfully._] Step
Hen! Step Hen! For that ridiculous coincidence--

MABEL

Coincidence! But it’s childish to look at the mere elements of a dream.
You have to look _into_ it--you have to see what it _means_!

HENRIETTA

On account of that trivial, meaningless play on syllables--on that
flimsy basis--you are ready--[_Wails._] O-h!

STEVE

What on earth’s the matter? What has happened? Suppose I _am_ Step Hen?
What about it? What does it mean?

MABEL

[_Crying._] It means--that I--have a suppressed desire for _you_!

STEVE

For me! The deuce you have! [_Feebly._] What--er--makes you think so?

MABEL

Dr. Russell has worked it out scientifically.

HENRIETTA

Yes. Through the amazing discovery that Step Hen equals Stephen!

MABEL

[_Tearfully._] Oh, that isn’t all--that isn’t near all. Henrietta won’t
give me a chance to tell it. She’d rather I’d go to the insane asylum
than be unconventional.

HENRIETTA

We’ll all go there if you can’t control yourself. We are still waiting
for some rational report.

MABEL

[_Drying her eyes._] Oh, there’s such a lot about names. [_With some
pride._] I don’t see how I ever did it. It all works in together. I
dreamed I was a hen because that’s the first syllable of _Hen_-rietta’s
name, and when I dreamed I was a hen, I was putting myself in
Henrietta’s place.

HENRIETTA

With Stephen?

MABEL

With Stephen.

HENRIETTA

[_Outraged._] Oh! [_Turns in rage upon STEPHEN, who is fanning himself
with the time-table._] What are you doing with that time-table?

STEVE

Why--I thought--you were so keen to have me go tonight--I thought I’d
just take a run up to Canada, and join Billy--a little shooting--but--

MABEL

But there’s more about the names.

HENRIETTA

Mabel, have you thought of Bob--dear old Bob--your good, kind husband?

MABEL

Oh, Henrietta, “my good, kind husband!”

HENRIETTA

Think of him, Mabel, out there alone in Chicago, working his head off,
fixing people’s _teeth_--for you!

MABEL

Yes, but think of the living Libido--in conflict with petrified moral
codes! And think of the perfectly wonderful way the names all prove
it. Dr. Russell said he’s never seen anything more convincing. Just
look at Stephen’s last name--Brewster. I dream I’m a hen, and the name
Brewster--you have to say its first letter by itself--and then the hen,
that’s me, she says to him: “Stephen, Be Rooster!”

  [_HENRIETTA and STEPHEN collapse into the nearest chairs._

MABEL

I think it’s perfectly wonderful! Why, if it wasn’t for psychoanalysis
you’d never find out how wonderful your own mind is!

STEVE

[_Begins to chuckle._] Be Rooster! Stephen, Be Rooster!

HENRIETTA

You think it’s funny, do you?

STEVE

Well, what’s to be done about it? Does Mabel have to go away with me?

HENRIETTA

Do you want Mabel to go away with you?

STEVE

Well, but Mabel herself--her complex--her suppressed desire--!

HENRIETTA

[_Going to her._] Mabel, are you going to insist on going away with
Stephen?

MABEL

I’d rather go with Stephen than go to the insane asylum!

HENRIETTA

For heaven’s sake, Mabel, drop that insane asylum! If you _did_ have a
suppressed desire for Stephen hidden away in you--God knows it isn’t
hidden now. Dr. Russell has brought it into your consciousness--with
a vengeance. That’s all that’s necessary to break up a complex.
Psychoanalysis doesn’t say you have to _gratify_ every suppressed
desire.

STEVE

[_Softly._] Unless it’s for Lyman Eggleston.

HENRIETTA

[_Turning on him._] Well, if it comes to that, Stephen Brewster, I’d
like to know why that interpretation of mine isn’t as good as this one?
Step, Hen!

STEVE

But Be Rooster! [_He pauses, chuckling to himself._] Step-Hen
B-rooster. And _Hen_rietta. Pshaw, my dear, Doc Russell’s got you beat
a mile! [_He turns away and chuckles._] Be rooster!

MABEL

What has Lyman Eggleston got to do with it?

STEVE

According to Henrietta, you, the hen, have a suppressed desire for
_Egg_leston, the egg.

MABEL

Henrietta, I think that’s indecent of you! He is bald as an egg and
little and fat--the idea of you thinking such a thing of me!

HENRIETTA

Well, Bob isn’t little and bald and fat! Why don’t you stick to your
own husband? [_To STEPHEN._] What if Dr. Russell’s interpretation has
got mine “beat a mile”? [_Resentful look at him._] It would only mean
that Mabel doesn’t want Eggleston and does want you. Does that mean she
has to have you?

MABEL

But you said Mabel Snow--

HENRIETTA

_Mary_ Snow! You’re not as much like her as you think--substituting
your name for hers! The cases are entirely different. Oh, I wouldn’t
have _believed_ this of you, Mabel. [_Beginning to cry._] I brought
you here for a pleasant visit--thought you needed brightening
_up_--wanted to be _nice_ to you--and now you--my husband--you insist--

  [_In fumbling her way to her chair she brushes to the floor some
    sheets from the psychoanalytical table._

STEVE

[_With solicitude._] Careful, dear. Your paper on psychoanalysis!

  [_Gathers up sheets and offers them to her._

HENRIETTA

I don’t want my paper on psychoanalysis! I’m sick of psychoanalysis!

STEVE

[_Eagerly._] Do you mean that, Henrietta?

HENRIETTA

Why shouldn’t I mean it? Look at all I’ve done for
psychoanalysis--and--[_Raising a tear-stained face_] what has
psychoanalysis done for me?

STEVE

Do you mean, Henrietta, that you’re going to stop _talking_
psychoanalysis?

HENRIETTA

Why shouldn’t I stop talking it? Haven’t I seen what it does to people?
Mabel has gone crazy about psychoanalysis!

  [_At the word_ “crazy” _with a moan MABEL sinks to chair and buries
    her face in her hands._

STEVE

[_Solemnly._] Do you swear never to wake me up in the night to find out
what I’m dreaming?

HENRIETTA

Dream what you please--I don’t care what you’re dreaming.

STEVE

Will you clear off my work-table so the Journal of Morbid Psychology
doesn’t stare me in the face when I’m trying to plan a house?

HENRIETTA

[_Pushing a stack of periodicals off the table._] I’ll _burn_ the
Journal of Morbid Psychology!

STEVE

My dear Henrietta, if you’re going to separate from psychoanalysis,
there’s no reason why I should separate from _you_.

  [_They embrace ardently. MABEL lifts her head and looks at them
    woefully._

MABEL

[_Jumping up and going toward them._] But what about me? What am I to
do with my suppressed desire?

STEVE

[_With one arm still around HENRIETTA, gives MABEL a brotherly hug._]
Mabel, you just keep right on suppressing it!

  (CURTAIN)

       *       *       *       *       *

TICKLESS TIME

A COMEDY IN ONE ACT

(In Collaboration with George Cram Cook)

First performed by the Provincetown Players, New York, December 20, 1918

       *       *       *       *       *

ORIGINAL CAST

  IAN JOYCE, _Who Has Made a Sun-dial_                 JAMES LIGHT
  ELOISE JOYCE, _Wedded to the Sun-dial_              NORMA MILLAY
  MRS. STUBBS, _a Native_                                JEAN ROBB
  EDDY KNIGHT, _a Standardized Mind_            HUTCHINSON COLLINS
  ALICE KNIGHT, _a Standardized Wife_               ALICE MACDOUGAL
  ANNIE, _Who Cooks by the Joyces’ Clock_  EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY



TICKLESS TIME


SCENE: _A garden in Provincetown. On the spectator’s right a two-story
house runs back from the proscenium--a door towards the front, a
second-story window towards the back. Across the back runs a thick-set
row of sunflowers nearly concealing a fence or wall. Back of this are
trees and sky. There is a gate at the left rear corner of the garden.
People entering it come straight toward the front, down the left side
and, to reach the house door, pass across the front of the stage. A
fence with sunflowers like that at the back closes off the left wing of
the stage--a tree behind this left fence._

_The sun-dial stands on a broad step or pedestal which partly masks the
digging which takes place behind it. The position of the sun-dial is to
the left of the center of the stage midway between front and back._

_From behind the tree on the left the late afternoon sun throws
a well-defined beam of light upon the horizontal plate of the
sun-dial and upon the shaft which supports it. On this shaft is the
accompanying diagram: two feet high and clearly visible._

[Illustration]

_On the plate of the sun-dial stands the alarm-clock. A huge shovel
leans against the wall of the house-corner at the back._

_IAN is at the sun-dial. He sights over the style to some distant stake
left rear, marking the north. He then sights over the east and west
line toward the six o’clock sun. Looks at shadow. Looks at alarm clock.
Is intensely pleased._

IAN

[_Turning toward house and calling excitedly._] Eloise! Oh, Eloise!

ELOISE

[_Inside house._] Hello!

IAN

Come quick! You’ll miss it.

ELOISE

[_Poking her head out of the second-story window; she cranes her neck
to look straight up in the air._] What is it?

IAN

Come down here quick or you’ll miss it.

ELOISE

[_Disappears from window. A moment later comes running out, one braid
of hair up and one braid down. Again looks wildly up in the air._]
Where is it?

IAN

[_Absorbed in the sun-dial._] Where’s what?

ELOISE

The airplane.

IAN

Airplane? It’s the sun-dial. It’s right. Just look at this six o’clock
shadow. [_She goes around to the other side of it._] It’s absolutely,
mathematically--you’re in the way of the sun, Eloise. [_She steps
aside._] Look! the style is set square on the true north--this is the
fifteenth of June--the clock is checked to the second by telegraph with
the observatory at Washington and see! the clock is exactly nineteen
minutes and twenty seconds behind the shadow--the precise difference
between Provincetown local time and standard Eastern time.

ELOISE

Then the sun-dial’s really finished--and working right! After all
these, weeks! Oh, Ian!

  [_Embraces him._

IAN

It’s good to get it right after all those mistakes. [_With vision._]
Why, Eloise, getting this right has been a symbol of man’s whole search
for truth--the discovery and correction of error--the mind compelled to
conform step by step to astronomical fact--to truth.

ELOISE

[_Going to it again._] And to think that it’s the sun-dial which is
true and the clock--all the clocks--are wrong! I’m glad it is true.
Alice Knight has been here talking to me for an hour. I want to think
that something’s true.

IAN

That’s just it, Eloise. The sun-dial is more than sun-dial. It’s a
first-hand relation with truth. A personal relation. When you take
your time from a clock you are mechanically getting information from a
machine. You’re nothing but a clock yourself.

ELOISE

Like Alice Knight.

IAN

But the sun-dial--this shadow is an original document--a scholar’s
source.

ELOISE

To tell time by the shadow of the sun--so large and simple.

IAN

I wouldn’t call it simple. Here on this diagram I have worked out--

ELOISE

Dearest, you know I can’t understand diagrams. But I get the feeling of
it, Ian--the sun, the North star. I love to think that this [_Placing
her hands on the style_] is set by the North star. [_Her right hand
remains on the style, her left prolongs its line heavenward._] Why, if
I could go on long enough I’d get _to_ the North star!

IAN

[_Impressively._] The line that passes along the edge of this style
joins the two poles of the heavens. [_ELOISE pulls away her hand as one
who fears an electric shock._] Look at this slow shadow and what you
see is the spin of the earth on its axis. It is not so much the measure
of time as time itself made visible.

ELOISE

[_Knitting her brows to get this: escaping to an impetuous
generality._] Ian, which do you think is the more wonderful--space _or_
time?

IAN

[_Again sighting over his east and west lines. Good-humoredly._] Both
are a little large for our approbation.

ELOISE

[_Sitting on the steps and putting up the other braid._] Do you know,
Ian, that’s the one thing about them I don’t quite like. You can’t get
very intimate with them, can you? They make you so humble. That’s one
nice thing about a clock. A clock is sometimes wrong.

IAN

Don’t you want to live in a first-hand relation to truth?

ELOISE

Yes; yes, I do--generally.

IAN

I have a feeling as of having touched vast forces. To work directly
with worlds--it lifts me out of that little routine of our lives which
is itself a clock.

ELOISE

[_Catching his exultation._] Let us _be_ like this! Let us have done
with clocks!

IAN

Eloise, how wonderful! Can the clocks and live by the sun-dial? Live by
the non-automatic sun-dial--as a pledge that we ourselves refuse to be
automatons!

ELOISE

Like Alice Knight. [_She takes clock from dial and puts it face
downward on the ground._] I shall never again have anything to do with
a clock!

IAN

Eloise! How corking of you! I didn’t think you had it in you. [_Raising
his right hand._] Do you solemnly swear to live by the truth, the whole
truth and nothing but the truth?

ELOISE

[_Her hand upon the sun-dial._] I swear.

IAN

Bring them!

ELOISE

Bring--?

IAN

The clocks! Bring them! [_Seizes the spade over by the house; begins to
dig a grave behind the sun-dial._] Bring every one! We will bury the
clocks before the sun-dial--an offering, a living sacrifice. I tell you
this is _great_, Eloise. What is a clock? Something agreed upon and
arbitrarily imposed upon us. Standard time. Not true time. Symbolizing
the whole standardization of our lives. Clocks! Why, it is clockiness
that makes America mechanical and mean! Clock-minded! A clock is a
little machine that shuts us out from the wonder of time. [_A large
gesture with the shovel._] Who thinks of spinning worlds when looking
at a clock? How _dare_ clocks do this to us? But the sun-dial--because
there was creation, because there are worlds outside our world, because
space is rhythm and time is flow that shadow falls precisely there
and not elsewhere! Bring them, Eloise! I am digging the graves of the
clocks!

  [_ELOISE swept up by this ecstasy, yet frightened at what it is
    bringing her to, hesitates, then runs to house. IAN digs with
    rhythmic vigor. A moment later ELOISE is seen peering down at him
    from window, in her arms a cuckoo clock. It begins to cuckoo,
    startling ELOISE._

IAN

That damned cuckoo!

  [_A moment later ELOISE comes out, bearing cuckoo clock and an
    old-fashioned clock. IAN’S back is to her; she has to pass the
    alarm clock, lying where she left it, prone on the ground. She
    hesitates, then carefully holding the other two clocks in one
    arm, she stealthily goes rear and puts the alarm clock behind the
    sunflowers. Then advances with the other two._

IAN

[_While digging._] Into these graves go all that is clock-like in our
own minds. All that a clock world has made of us lies buried here!

  [_ELOISE stands rather appalled at the idea of so much of herself
    going into a grave. Puts the old-fashioned clock carefully on the
    ground. Gingerly fits the cuckoo clock into the completed grave.
    With an exclamation of horror lifts it out of the grave. Listens to
    its tick. Puts her ear to the sun-dial; listens vainly._

ELOISE

The sun-dial doesn’t tick, does it, Ian?

IAN

Why should it tick?

ELOISE

Do you know, Ian, I [_Timidly_] I like to hear the ticking of a clock.
[_No reply. ELOISE holds up the cuckoo clock._] This was a wedding
present.

IAN

No wonder marriage fails.

  [_He moves to take it from her._

ELOISE

I wonder if we hadn’t better leave the cuckoo until tomorrow.

IAN

Flaming worlds! A cuckoo!

ELOISE

Eddy and Alice gave us the cuckoo. You know they’re coming back. I
asked them for dinner. They might not understand our burying their
clock.

IAN

Their failure to understand need not limit our lives.

  [_Puts the cuckoo clock in its grave and begins to cover it._

ELOISE

[_As the earth goes on._] I liked the cuckoo! I liked to see him
popping out!

IAN

[_Kindly._] You will grow, Eloise. You will go out to large things now
that you have done with small ones.

ELOISE

I hope so. It will be hard on me if I don’t.

  [_IAN reaches for the other clock._

ELOISE

[_Snatching it._] Oh, Ian, I don’t think I ought to bury this one. It’s
the clock my grandmother started housekeeping with!

IAN

[_Firmly taking clock._] And see what it did to her. Meticulous old
woman!

  [_Puts it in its grave._

ELOISE

You were glad enough to get her pies and buckwheat cakes.

IAN

She had all the small virtues. But a standardized mind. [_Trampling
down the grave._] She lacked scope. And now--a little grave for little
clocks. [_Takes out his watch, puts it in the grave._] Your watch,
Eloise.

ELOISE

[_Holding to her wrist watch._] I thought I’d keep my watch, Ian.
[_Hastily._] For an ornament, you know.

IAN

We are going to let truth be your ornament, Eloise.

ELOISE

Nobody sees truth. [_With a fresh outburst._] This watch was my
graduation present!

IAN

Symbolizing all the standardized arbitrary things you were taught!
Commemorating the clock-like way your mind was made to run. Free
yourself of that watch, Eloise. [_ELOISE reluctantly frees herself. IAN
briskly covers the watches. Moves to the unfilled grave._] Is there
nothing for this grave? [_ELOISE shakes her head._] Sure--the alarm
clock!

ELOISE

[_Running to the sunflowers and spreading out her skirts before them._]
Oh, Ian, _not_ the alarm clock! How would we ever go to Boston? The
train doesn’t run by the sun.

IAN

Then the train is wrong.

ELOISE

But, Ian, if the train is wrong we have to be wrong to catch the train.

IAN

_That’s_ civilization. [_Stands resolutely by the grave._] The alarm
clock, Eloise. The grave awaits it.

ELOISE

[_Taking it up, her arms folded around it._] I wanted to go to Boston
and buy a hat!

IAN

The sun will fall upon your dear head and give you life.

ELOISE

[_About to cry._] But no style! It ticks so loud and sure!

IAN

All false things are loud and sure.

ELOISE

I need a tick! I am afraid of tickless time!

  [_Holding the clock in both hands she places it against her left ear._

IAN

[_Spade still in his right hand, he places his left arm around her
reassuringly._] You will grow, Eloise. You are growing.

  [_He takes the clock as he is saying this. She turns her head
    backward following the departing clock with surprised and helpless
    eyes. Disconsolately watches him bury it._

ELOISE

[_An inspiration._] Ian! Couldn’t you fix the sun-dial to be set and go
off?

IAN

[_Pained._] “Set and go off?” [_Pause; regards the sun._] _Sine sole
sileo._

ELOISE

What did you say, Ian?

IAN

I said: _Sine sole sileo_.

ELOISE

Well, I don’t know what you say when you say that.

IAN

It’s a Latin motto I’ve just thought of for the sun-dial. It means,
“Without sun, I am silent.” Silence is a great virtue. [_Having
finished the grave, he looks around, making sure there are no more
clocks. Joyously._] Now we are freed! Eloise, think what life is going
to be! Done with approximations. Done with machine thinking. In a world
content with false time, we are true.

ELOISE

[_Sitting on the steps._] Yes, it’s beautiful. I want to be true. It’s
just that it’s a little hard to be true in a false world. For instance,
tomorrow I have an appointment with the dentist. If I come on sun-time
I suppose I’ll be twenty minutes--

IAN

[_Eagerly. Going to the sun-dial and pointing._] If you will just let
me explain this table--[_ELOISE shrinks back. IAN gives it up._] Oh,
well, tell him you are living by the truth.

ELOISE

I’m afraid he’ll charge me for it. And when we ask people for dinner
at seven, they’ll get here at twenty minutes of seven. Or will it be
twenty minutes _after_ seven?

IAN

[_Smoothing down graves._] It will be a part of eternal time.

ELOISE

Yes,--_that’s_ true. Only the roast isn’t so eternal. Why do they have
clocks wrong?

IAN

Oh, Eloise, I’ve explained it so many times. You--living in
Provincetown, three hundred miles to the eastward, are living by the
mean solar time of Philadelphia. [_Venomously._] Do you _want_ to live
by the mean solar time of Philadelphia?

ELOISE

Certainly _not_. [_An idea._] Then has Philadelphia got the right time?

IAN

It’s right six miles this side of Philadelphia.

ELOISE

We might move to Philadelphia.

  [_Enter through gate, MRS. STUBBS, a Provincetown “native.”_

MRS. STUBBS

Now, Mr. Joyce, this sun clock,--is it running?

IAN

It doesn’t “run,” Mrs. Stubbs. It is acted upon.

MRS. STUBBS

Oh. Well, is it being acted upon?

IAN

As surely as the sun shines.

MRS. STUBBS

[_Looking at the sun._] And it is shining today, isn’t it? Well, will
you tell me the time? My clock has stopped and I want to set it.

IAN

[_Happily._] You hear, Eloise? Her clock has stopped.

MRS. STUBBS

Yes, I forgot to wind it.

ELOISE

[_Grieved to think of any one living in such a world._] _Wind_ it!

IAN

Do you not see, Mrs. Stubbs, where the shadow falls? [_She comes up the
steps._] From its millions of spinn--You’re in the way of the sun, Mrs.
Stubbs. [_She steps aside._] Its millions of spinning miles the sun
casts that shadow and here we know that it is eight minutes past six.

MRS. STUBBS

Now, ain’t that wonderful? Dear, dear, I wish Mr. Stubbs could make a
sun clock. But he’s not handy around the house. Past six. Well, I must
hurry back. They work tonight at the cold storage but Mr. Stubbs gets
home for his supper at half past six.

  [_Starts away, reaching the gate._

ELOISE

[_Running to her._] Oh, Mrs. Stubbs! Don’t get his supper by sun time.
It wouldn’t be ready. It--[_With a hesitant look at IAN_] might get
cold. [_MRS. STUBBS stares._] You see, Mr. Stubbs is coming home by the
mean solar time of Philadelphia.

MRS. STUBBS

[_Loyal to MR. STUBBS._] Who said he was?

ELOISE

[_In distress._] Oh, it’s all so false! And arbitrary!

[_To IAN._] But I think Mrs. Stubbs had better be false and arbitrary
too. Mr. Stubbs might rather have his supper than the truth.

MRS. STUBBS

[_Advancing a little._] What is this about my being false?
And--arbitrary?

ELOISE

You see, you have to be, Mrs. Stubbs. We don’t blame you. How can you
live by the truth if Mr. Stubbs doesn’t work by it?

MRS. STUBBS

This is the first word I ever heard said against Johnnie Stubbs’ way of
freezin’ fish.

ELOISE

Oh, Mrs. Stubbs, if it were _merely_ his way of freezing fish!

IAN

Since you are not trying to establish a direct relation with truth, set
your clock at five minutes of six. The clocks, as would be clear to you
if you would establish a first-hand relation with this diagram, Eloise,
are slow.

MRS. STUBBS

You mean your sun clock’s wrong.

IAN

All other clocks are wrong.

ELOISE

You live by the mean solar time of Philadelphia.

MRS. STUBBS

I do no such thing!

ELOISE

Yes, you do, Mrs. Stubbs. You see the sun can’t be both here and in
Philadelphia at the same time. Now could it? So we have to pretend to
be where it is in Philadelphia.

MRS. STUBBS

Who said we did?

ELOISE

Well, [_After a look at IAN_] the Government.

MRS. STUBBS

_Them_ congressmen!

ELOISE

But Mr. Joyce and I--You’re standing on a grave, Mrs. Stubbs. [_MRS.
STUBBS jumps._] The grave of my grandmother’s clock. [_In reply to MRS.
STUBBS look of amazement._] Oh, yes! That clock has done harm enough.
Mrs. Stubbs, think what time is--and then consider my grandmother’s
clock! Tick, tick! Tick, tick! Messing up eternity like that!

MRS. STUBBS

[_After failing to think of anything adequate._] I must get Mr. Stubbs
his supper!

  [_Frightened exit._

IAN

[_Standing near house door._] Eloise, how I love you when feeling lifts
you out of routine! Do you know, dearest, you are very sensitive in
the way you feel feeling? Sometimes I think that to feel feeling is
greater than to feel. You’re like the dial. Your sensitiveness is the
style--the gnomon--to cast the shadow of the feeling all around you and
mark what has been felt.

  [_They embrace. EDDY and ALICE open the gate._

EDDY

Ahem! [_He comes down._] Ahem! We seem to have come ahead of time.

ELOISE

Oh, Eddy! Alice! [_Moving toward EDDY but not passing the dial._] We
are living by sun time now. You haven’t arrived for twenty minutes.

EDDY

We haven’t arrived for twenty minutes? [_Feeling of himself._] Why do I
seem to be here?

ALICE

[_Approaching dial._] So this is the famous sun-dial? How very
interesting it is!

ELOISE

It’s more than that.

ALICE

Yes, it’s really beautiful, isn’t it?

ELOISE

It’s more than that.

EDDY

Is it?

ELOISE

It’s a symbol. It means that Ian and I are done with approximations
arbitrarily and falsely imposed upon us.

EDDY

Well, I should think you would be. Who’s been doing that to you?

ELOISE

Don’t step on the graves, please, Alice.

ALICE

[_Starting back in horror._] Graves?

ELOISE

[_Pointing down._] The lies we inherited lie buried there.

EDDY

Well, I should think that might make quite a graveyard. So the sun-dial
is built on lies.

ELOISE

Indeed it is not!

ALICE

Does it keep time?

IAN

It doesn’t “keep” time. It gives it.

EDDY

[_Comparing with his watch._] Well, it gives it wrong. It’s twenty
minutes fast.

  [_IAN and ELOISE smile at one another in a superior way._

ALICE

You couldn’t expect a home-made clock to be perfectly accurate. I think
it’s doing very well to come within twenty minutes of the true time.

IAN

It _is_ true time.

ELOISE

You think it’s twenty minutes fast because your puny, meticulous little
watch is twenty minutes slow.

ALICE

Why is it, Eddy? [_Comparing watches across the sun-dial._] No, Eddy’s
watch is right by mine.

IAN

And neither of you is right by the truth.

ELOISE

[_Pityingly._] Don’t you know that you are running by the mean solar
time of Philadelphia?

EDDY

Well, isn’t everybody else running that way?

ELOISE

Does that make it right?

EDDY

I get you. You are going to cast off standard time and live by solar
time.

ELOISE

Lies for truth.

EDDY

But how are you going to connect up with other people?

IAN

We can allow for their mistakes.

ELOISE

We will connect with other people in so far as other people are capable
of connecting with the truth!

EDDY

I’m afraid you’ll be awful lonesome sometimes.

ALICE

But, Eloise, do you mean to say that you are going to insist on being
right when other people are wrong?

ELOISE

I insist upon it.

ALICE

What a life!

EDDY

Come now, what difference does it make if we’re wrong if we’re all
wrong together?

IAN

That idea has made a clock of the human mind.

  [_Enter ANNIE._

ANNIE

Mrs. Joyce, can’t I have my clock back now? I don’t know when to start
dinner.

IAN

[_Consulting dial._] By true time, Annie, it is twenty minutes past six.

ELOISE

[_Confidentially._] By false time, it is six.

ANNIE

I have to have my kitchen clock back.

  [_She looks around for it._

IAN

We are done with clocks, Annie.

ANNIE

You mean I’m _not_ to have it back?

ELOISE

It lies buried there.

ANNIE

_Buried?_ My clock buried? It’s not _dead_!

IAN

It’s dead to us, Annie.

ANNIE

[_After looking at the grave._] Do I get a new clock?

ELOISE

We are going to establish a first-hand relation with truth.

ANNIE

You can’t cook without a clock.

IAN

A superstition. And anyway--have you not the sun?

ANNIE

[_After regarding the sun._] I’d rather have a clock than the sun.

  [_Returns to her clockless kitchen._

IAN

That’s what clocks have made of the human mind.

EDDY

[_Coming to IAN._] Of course, this is all a joke.

IAN

The attempt to reach truth has always been thought a joke.

EDDY

But this isn’t any new truth! Why re-reach it?

IAN

I’m reaching it myself. I’m getting the impact--as of a fresh truth.

ALICE

But hasn’t it all been worked out for us?

IAN

And we take it never knowing--never _feeling_--what it is we take.

ELOISE

And that has made us the mechanical things we are!

ANNIE

[_Frantically rushes in, peeling an onion._] Starting the sauce for the
spaghetti. Fry onions in butter three minutes.

  [_Wildly regards sun-dial--traces curved line of diagram with knife.
    Looks despairingly at the sun. Tears back into house._

IAN

You get no sense of wonder in looking at a clock.

ALICE

Yes, do you know, I do. I’ve always thought that clocks were perfectly
wonderful. I never could understand how they could run like that.

ELOISE

I suppose you know they run wrong?

EDDY

What do you mean “run wrong?”

ELOISE

Why, you are running by the mean solar time of Philadelphia! And yet
here you are in Provincetown where the sun is a very different matter.
You have no direct relation with the sun.

EDDY

That doesn’t seem to worry me much.

IAN

No, it wouldn’t worry you, Eddy. You’re too perfect a product of a
standardized world.

  [_EDDY bows acknowledgment._

ANNIE

[_Rushing out to look at dial._] Add meat, brown seven minutes.

  [_Measures seven minutes between thumb and finger, holds up this
    fragment of time made visible and carries it carefully into the
    house._

EDDY

That girl’ll get heart disease.

IAN

Let her establish a first-hand relation to heat. If she’d take a look
at the food instead of the clock--!

EDDY

Trouble is we have to establish a first-hand relation with the
spaghetti. [_EDDY now comes down and regards the sun-dial. Moralizes._]
If other people have got the wrong dope, you’ve got to have the wrong
dope or be an off ox.

IAN

Perfect product of a standardized nation!

EDDY

[_Pointing with his stick._] What’s this standardized snake?

IAN

That’s my diagram correcting the sun.

EDDY

Does one correct the sun?

ELOISE

[_From behind the dial._] Ian! Correcting the _sun_!

IAN

You see there are only four days in the year when the apparent time is
the same as the average time.

ELOISE

[_In growing alarm._] Do you mean to tell me the sun is not right with
_itself_?

IAN

I’ve tried to explain it to you, Eloise, but you said you could get the
feeling of it without understanding it. This curve [_Pointing_] marks
the variation. Here today, you see, the shadow is “right” as you call
it--that is, average. It will be right again here in September and
again on December twenty-first.

ALICE

My birthday!

ELOISE

Ian, you mean to say the sun only tells the right _sun_-time four days
in the year?

IAN

It always tells the “right” sun-time, but here the said right sun-time
is fifteen minutes behind its own average, and here it is sixteen
minutes ahead. This scale here across the bottom shows you the number
of minutes to add or subtract.

ELOISE

[_With bitterness._] Add! Subtract! Then you and your sun are false!

IAN

No, Eloise, not false. Merely intricate. Merely not regular. Machines
are regular.

ELOISE

You got me to bury the clocks and live by the sun--and now you tell me
you have to _fix up_ the sun.

IAN

It was you who said bury the clocks.

ELOISE

I suppose you have to do something to the North star too!

IAN

Yes, the North star is not true north.

  [_He starts to point out its error, sighting over the style of the
    dial._

ELOISE

What _is_ true? What _is_ true?

IAN

[_With vision._] The mind of man.

ELOISE

I think I’d better have a clock. [_A new gust._] You told me I was to
live by the sun and now--after the clocks are in their graves--what I
am to live by is _that snake_.

  [_She points at diagram._

IAN

You are a victim of misplaced confidence, Eloise. Sometimes when one
feels things without understanding them, one feels the wrong thing.
But there’s nothing to worry about. The sun and I can take care of the
sun’s irregularities.

EDDY

Take heart, Eloise. It’s a standardized sun.

IAN

It’s not a blindly accepted sun!

ANNIE

[_Who comes as one not to be put aside._] What’ll I do when it rains?

IAN

You’ll use your mind.

ANNIE

To tell time by? [_Looking to ELOISE._] I think I’d better find another
place.

ALICE

[_Coming forward, regarding this as a really serious matter._] No,
don’t do that, Annie.

ELOISE

[_Tearfully._] You don’t _know_ the _wonders_ of your own mind!

ANNIE

No, ma’m. [_After a look at the sun, becomes terrified._] It’s going
down!

EDDY

Yes, it goes down.

ANNIE

How’ll we tell time when it’s dark?

IAN

_Sine sole sileo._

ANNIE

Is that saying how we’ll know when it’s time to go to bed?

IAN

The doves know when to go to bed.

ANNIE

The doves don’t go to the pictures.

ELOISE

[_Hysterically._] You’ll grow, Annie!

ANNIE

I’d rather have a clock!

  [_Exit._

IAN

She’d rather have a clock than grow.

ALICE

Now why can’t one do both?

IAN

One doesn’t--that’s the answer. One merely has the clock. I’d rather be
a fool than a machine.

EDDY

I never definitely elected to be either.

IAN

One can be both without electing either.

ELOISE

I want to hear the ticking of a clock!

EDDY

It’s a nice thing to hear. The ticking of a clock means the minds of
many men. As long as the mind of man has to--fix up the facts of nature
in order to create ideal time I feel it’s a little more substantial to
have the minds of many men.

ALICE

As I’ve told you before, Eloise, you can’t do better than accept the
things that have been all worked out for you.

IAN

You hear them, Eloise? You see where this defense of clocks is leading?

ELOISE

Ian, I’m terribly worried--and a little hurt--about the sun. [_As one
beginning a dirge._] The sun has failed me. The North star is false.

IAN

[_Going to her._] I am here, dearest.

ELOISE

Sometimes you seem so much like space. I am running by the sun--that
wobbly sun [_Looking at it_] and everyone else is running by
Philadelphia. I want a little clock to tick to me!

IAN

You will grow, dearest.

ELOISE

There’s no use growing. The things you grow to are wrong. [_Pressing
her hands to her head._] I need a tick in time!

IAN

[_Striding savagely from her._] Very well, then; dig up the clocks.

EDDY

Now you’re? talking!

  [_ELOISE springs up._

IAN

Dig up the clocks! And we spend our lives nineteen minutes and twenty
seconds apart!

  [_ELOISE is arrested, appalled. Dreadful pause._

ELOISE

You mean we’d never get together?

IAN

Time would lie between us. I refuse to be re-caught into a clock world.
It was you, Eloise, who proposed we give up the clocks and live in this
first-hand relation to truth.

ELOISE

I didn’t know I was proposing a first-hand relation with that snake!

IAN

It’s not a snake! It’s a little piece of the long winding road to
truth. It’s the discarding of error, the adjustment of fact. And I did
it myself. And it puts me _on_ that road. Oh, I know [_To EDDY and
ALICE_] how you can laugh if you yourself feel no need to _feel_ truth.
And you, Eloise, if you don’t want to feel time--return to your mean
little clock. What is a clock? A clock is the soulless--

  [_The alarm clock enters a protest. Smothered sound of the alarm
    going off underground. ELOISE screams._

ELOISE

The alarm clock! It’s going off!

ALICE

Buried alive!

ELOISE

Oh, no--oh, no! How terrible! Ian, how terrible!

  [_She runs to him. Alarm clock, being intermittent, goes off again._

IAN

Eloise, if you listen to the voice of that clock--!

EDDY

How bravely it tries to function in its grave!

ALICE

The death struggle--the last gasp!

  [_With another scream ELOISE snatches spade, begins to dig; alarm
    clock gives another little gasp; spade is too slow for her: in her
    desperation goes to it with her hands. Gets it and, as she holds it
    aloft, the alarm clock rings its triumph._

ELOISE

[_Holding it to her ear._] It’s ticking! It ticks! It ticks! Oh, it’s
good to hear the ticking of a clock!

  [_As he hears this, IAN, after a moment of terrible silence, goes and
    unscrews the plate of the sun-dial. All watch him, afraid to speak.
    He takes it off, holds it above the grave from which the alarm
    clock has been rescued._

ELOISE

Ian! What are you doing? [_He does not answer, but puts the sun-dial in
the alarm clock’s grave._] Ian! No! No! Not that! Not your beautiful
sun-dial! Oh, no! Not that!

  [_IAN, having finished the burial of the sun-dial, sees the alarm
    clock and puts it on the pedestal from which the sun-dial has been
    taken._

IAN

We bow down, as of old, to the mechanical. We will have no other god
but it.

  [_He then sits on the step, sunk in gloom. ANNIE appears, in her hand
    a panful of water._

ANNIE

This liver has to soak five minutes. I’ll soak it here. [_Sees the
alarm clock; with a cry of joy._] My clock! My clock! [_Overcome with
emotion._] Oh! My clock! My clock! Can I take it in the house to finish
dinner?

ELOISE

[_In a hopeless voice._] Yes, take it away.

  [_Beaming, ANNIE bears it to her kitchen. ELOISE now kneels behind
    the grave of the sun-dial._

EDDY

Let us leave them alone with their dead.

  [_Leads ALICE to the corner of the house; they look off down the
    road. ELOISE and IAN sit there on either side of the grave, swaying
    a little back and forth, as those who mourn._

ELOISE

[_Looking at grave._] I had thought life was going to be so beautiful.

IAN

It might have been.

ELOISE

[_Looking at empty pedestal._] I suppose it will never be beautiful
again.

IAN

It cannot be beautiful again.

  [_Suddenly, with a cry, ELOISE gets up and darts to the house: comes
    racing back with the alarm clock, snatches spade, desperately
    begins to dig a grave._

ELOISE

Ian! Ian! Don’t you see what I’m doing? I’m willing to have a
first-hand relation with the sun even though it’s _not_ regular.

  [_But IAN is as one who has lost hope. EDDY and ALICE turn to watch
    the re-burial of the alarm clock. ANNIE strides in._

ANNIE

[_In no mood for feeling._] Where’s my alarm clock?

ELOISE

I am burying it.

ANNIE

Again? [_Looks at sun-dial._] And even the sun-clock’s gone?

EDDY

All is buried. Truth. Error. We have returned to the nothing from which
we came.

ANNIE

This settles it. Now I go. I leave.

  [_Firm with purpose re-enters the house._

ALICE

[_Excitedly._] Eloise! She means it!

ELOISE

[_Dully._] I suppose she does.

  [_Continues her grave digging._

ALICE

But you can’t get anybody else! You can’t _get_ anybody now. Oh, this
is madness. What does any of the rest of it matter if you have lost
your cook? [_To IAN._] Eloise can’t do the work! Peel potatoes--scrub.
What’s the difference what’s _true_ if you have to clean out your own
sink? [_Despairing of him she turns to ELOISE._] Eloise, stop fussing
about the moon and stars! You’re losing your _cook_!

  [_ANNIE comes from the house with suit-case, shawl-strap and hand-bag
    on long strings. Marches straight to left of stage, makes a face at
    the sun, marches to gate left rear and off._

ALICE

Eddy, go _after_ her! Heavens! Has _no_ one a mind? Go _after_ her!

EDDY

What’s the good of going after her without a clock?

ALICE

Well, get a clock! For heaven’s sake, get a clock! Eloise, get off the
grave of the alarm clock! [_ELOISE stands like a monument. To EDDY._]
Well, there are graves all around you. Dig something else up. No! You
call her back. I’ll--

  [_Snatches spade, which is resting against sun-dial pedestal, begins
    to dig. EDDY stands at back, calling._

EDDY

Annie! Oh, Annie! _Wait_, Annie!

ALICE

[_While frantically digging._] Say something to _interest_ her,
imbecile!

EDDY

[_Stick in one hand, straw hat in the other, making wild signals with
both._] Come home, Annie! Clock! Clock! [_Giving up that job and
throwing off his coat._] You interest her and I’ll dig.

  [_They change places._

ALICE

She’s most to the bend! Eddy, don’t you know how to _dig_?

  [_EDDY, who has been digging with speed and skill, produces the clock
    with which ELOISE’S grandmother started housekeeping. Starts to
    dash off with it._

ELOISE

[_Dully._] That clock doesn’t keep time. Annie hates it.

IAN

[_As if irritated by all this inefficiency._] What she wants is the
alarm clock. Get off the grave, Eloise.

  [_He disinters alarm clock and with it runs after ANNIE. ALICE draws
    a long breath and rubs her back. EDDY brings the clock he dug up
    and sets it on the pedestal. Then he looks down at the disturbed
    graves._

EDDY

Here’s a watch! [_Lifts it from the grave; holds it out to ELOISE; she
does not take it. He puts it on the pedestal beside the clock._] Here’s
another watch. [_Holds up IAN’S watch._] Quite a valuable piece of
ground.

  [_Now is heard the smothered voice of a cuckoo._

ALICE

[_Jumping._] What’s that?

ELOISE

The cuckoo. I suppose it’s lonesome.

ALICE

[_Outraged._] Cuckoo! [_Pointing._] In that grave? The cuckoo we gave
you? [_ELOISE nods._] You buried our wedding present? [_ELOISE again
nods. EDDY and ALICE draw together in indignation._] Well, I must say,
the people who try to lead the right kind of lives _always_ do the
wrong thing. [_Stiffly._] I am not accustomed to having my wedding
presents put in graves. Will you please dig it up, Eddy? It will do
very well on the mantel in our library. And my back nearly broken
digging for your cook!

  [_She holds her back. While EDDY is digging up the cuckoo, ANNIE
    and IAN appear and march across from gate to house, ANNIE
    triumphantly bearing her alarm clock, IAN--a captive at her chariot
    wheels--following with suit-case, shawl strap and long strings of
    bag around his wrist. A moment later IAN comes out of the house,
    looks at each dug-up thing, stands by the grave of the sun-dial.
    Enter MRS. STUBBS._

MRS. STUBBS

Oh, Mr. Joyce, I’ve come to see your sun-clock again. Mr. Stubbs says
_he’ll_ not be run from Philadelphia. He says if you have got the time
straight from the sun--[_Sees that the sun-dial is gone._] Oh, do you
take it in at night?

IAN

The sun-dial lies buried there.

MRS. STUBBS

You’ve _buried_ the sun-clock? And dug up all the _wrong_ clocks?
[_With a withering glance at ELOISE._] That’s how a smart man’s
appreciated! What did you bury it for, Mr. Joyce?

  [_EDDY gives the cuckoo clock to ALICE._

IAN

It cannot live in this world where no one wants truth or feeling about
truth. This is a world for clocks.

MRS. STUBBS

Well, _I_ want truth! And so does Johnnie Stubbs! If you’ll excuse
my saying so, Mr. Joyce, after you’ve made a thing that’s right you
oughtn’t to bury it, even if there is nobody to want it. And now that
_I_ want it--[_MRS. STUBBS takes the spade and begins to dig up the
sun-dial. IAN cannot resist this and helps her. He lifts the sun-dial,
she brushes it off and he fits it to its place on the pedestal._] Now
there it is, Mr. Joyce, and as good as if it had never seen the grave.
[_She looks at the setting sun._] And there’s time for it to make its
shadow before this sun has gone.

IAN

The simple mind has beauty.

ELOISE

[_Coming to him._] I want to be simpler.

MRS. STUBBS

Now what time would you say it was, Mr. Joyce?

IAN

I would say it was twenty minutes of seven, Mrs. Stubbs.

MRS. STUBBS

[_Looking at EDDY and ALICE and the cuckoo clock._] And _they_ would
say it was twenty minutes past six! Well, _I_ say: let them that want
sun time have sun time and them that want tick time have tick time.

  [_ANNIE appears at the door._

ANNIE

[_In a flat voice._] It’s dinner time!

  (CURTAIN)

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

The one illustration has been moved to a paragraph break near where it
is mentioned.

Punctuation has been made consistent.

Variations in spelling and hyphenation were retained as they appear in
the original publication, except that obvious typographical errors have
been corrected.

The following change was made:

p. 255: STEVE changed to HENRIETTA (Henrietta? HENRIETTA Why,)





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