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> 50^6 -3 



lban>ar& Collcoe Xtbrar^ 





BOUGHT WITH MONEY 
RECEIVED FROM THE 

SALE OF DUPLICATES 



I 

4 



THE EMPEROR JONES 

DIFF'RENT 

THE STRAW 



PLAYS BY 
EUGENE G. O'NEILL 

1. Beyond the Horizon 

2. The Moon of the Caribbees 

And Six other plays of the Sea 

3. The Emperor Jones; Diff*rent; 

The Straw 

In Preparaiion 

4. Gold 

5. The Ole Davil 



THE , EMPEROR JONES 

DIFF'RENT 
THE STRAW 

BY 

EUGENE G. O'NEILL 



BONI AND LIVERIGHT 

PUBLISHERS NEW YORK 



•.>-^ «;,. ^y-\ 

* I/' ^ (unTversItyI 

LIE 
JUN 



# / 



harvardN 

INrVERSITYl 
LIBRARY I 
JUN 141944 I 



w-d cl«.:/. 1*^ •;7" J^i' c ^ Ay • ^-^ 



' / 



THE EMPEROR JONES 

DIFFRENT 

THE STRAW 



Copyright, 19X1, by 
BoKi & LdVEBioHT, Iva 



AU rights reserved 



Caution — Att persons are hereby warned that the 
plays pubUehea in tJUs volume are fuUy protected 
under the copyright laws of the United States and 
aU foreign countries, and are subject to royalty, and 
any one presenting any of said plays toithout the con- 
sent of the Author or his recognized agents, will he 
liable to the penalties by law provided. Applications 
for the acting rights must be made to the Amerioat^ 
Play Company, Inc., SS West Jk2d St., New York City. 



The Emperor Jones and DifTrent were first produced 
by The Provincetown Players, 133 Macdougal Street, 

New York City. 



CONTENTS 

PAGB 

The Straw ••••••• 1 

The Emperor Jones 1^9 

Different- • • • 199 



THE STRAW 



CHARACTERS 

Carmody 

Y 

* his children 
roR Gaynob, 

i NiCHOLLS, 

EN Carmody, BiU*8 eldest child 
HEN Murray, 

Howard, a nurse in training 

Gilpin, superintendent of the Infirmary 
:gr Stanton, of the Hill Farm Sanatorium 
?OR SiMMS, his assistant 
Sloan, 
RS, a patient 

Turner, matron of the Sanatorium 

Bailey ^ 

Abner - Patients] 

■N 

iR Patients of the Sanatorium 

Brennan. 

characters are named in the order in which they 

appear) 

ix 



SCENES 
ACT I 

ScEVB I — ^The Kitchen of the Carmody Home 

Evening. 
ScsKE II — The Reception Room of the Infirmai 

Hill Farm Sanatorimn — ^An Evening a Wc 

Later. 

ACT II 

Scene I — ^Assembly Room of the Main Building 
the Sanatorimn — ^A Morning Four Moni 
Later. 

Scene H — ^A Crossroads Near the Sanatorium 
Midnight of the Same Day. 

ACT III 

An Isolation Room and Porch at the Sanatorium 
An Afternoon Four Months Later. 

Jime — 1910 



ACT I 



ACT I 

SCENE ONE 

ScsNE 1 — 7^ kitchen of the Carmody home on the 
outskirts of a manufacturing town in Connect^ 
icut. On the lefty forward^ the sink. Farther 
hacky two windows looking out on the yard. In 
the left cornery reary the icebox. Immediately 
to the right of ity in the rear waUy a window 
opening on the side porch. To the right of 
thisy a dish closety and a door leading into the 
hall where the main front entrance to the house 
and the stairs to the floor above are situated. 
On the righty to the reary a door opening on the 
dining room. Farther forwardy the kitchen 
range with scuttley wood hoXy etc. In the center 
of the roomy a table with a red and white cover. 
Four cane-bottomed chairs are pushed under 
the table. In front of the stovey two batteredy 
wicker rocking chairs. The floor is partly cov- 
ered by linoleum strips. The walls are papered 
a light cheerful color. Several old framed pic- 
ture-supplement prints hang from naUs. Every^ 
thing has a clean, neatly-kept appearance. The 

1 



S THE STRAW 

supper dishes are pUcd hi the smk ready for 
washing. A dish pan of water simmers on the 
stove. 

It is about eight o'clock in the evening of a 
bitter cold day in late February of the year 
191$. 

As the curtain rises. Bill Cabmodt 
discovered sitting m a rocker by the stove, rem 
ing a newspaper and smoking a blackened dag 
pipe. He is a man of fifty, Jieavy-set and romid' 
shouldered, with long muscular arms and_ 
rwoUen-^eined, hairy hands. His face is bony 
and ponderous; his nose, short and squat 
mouth large, thick-lipped and harsh; his com- 
plexion mottled — red, purple-streaked, 
freckled; his hair, short and stubby with a baM 
spot on the crown. The expression of his smalt, 
blue eyes is one of selfish cunning. His void 
is loud and hoarse. He wears a flannel shirty 
open at the neck, criss-crossed by red 
penders; black, baggy trousers grey with 'dust; 
muddy brogans. 

His youngest daughter, Mary, is sitting ot 
a chair by the table, front, turning over thi 
pages of a picture book. She is a delicate, dark- 
haired, blue-eyed, quiet little girl about eigM 
years old. 
Cahmody — [After watching the child's preoccupi 
tion for a moment, in a tone of half-exasperated 
amusement.'] Well, but you're the quiet one, surely! 



THE STRAW 8 

[Maet looks up at him with a sky tmUe, her eyet 
■ifUI full of dreams.] Glory be to God, I'd Dot know 
.: soul was alive in the room, barrin' myself, ^\^lat 
!i it you're at, Mary, that there's not a word out of 
you? 
Maby — I'm looking at the pictures. 
Cabmody — It's tbe dead spit and image of your 
-i^ter, Eileen, you are, with your nose always in a 
'lok; and you're like your mother, too, God rest her 
Buul. [He crosses himself with pious unction and 
Maby also does so.} It's Nora and Tom has the 
1 1^ spirits in them like their father ; and Billy, too, 
f be is a lazy shiftless divil — has the fightin' Car- 
blood like me. You're a Cullcu like your 
pther'a people. They always was dreamin' their 
[He lights his pipe and shakes his head 
t ponderous gravity.] Tliere's no good in too 
my books, I'll tell you. It's out rompin' and 
ipiayin' with your brother and aistcr you ought to be 
•'^- your age, not carin' a fig for books. [Wifft a 
^dtmce at the clock.] la that auld fool of a doctor 
^Biyin' the night P If he had his wits about him 
Hrd know in a jiffy 'tis only a cold has taken Eileen, 
»nd give her the medicine. Run out in the hall, 
Mary, and see if you hear him. He may have 
^'leaked away by the front door. 

-Maby — [Goes out into the kail, rear, and cornet 
back.] He's upstairs. I heard him talking to Eileen. 
,Cabmody — Close the door, ye little divil! There's 
eezin' draught comin' in. [She does so and com£i 



4 THE STRAW 

back to her chair. Caemody continTies with a sneer.^ 
It's mad t am to be thinkin' he'd go without gettin* 
his money — the like of a doctor! {^Angrily. '\ Rogues 
and thieves they are, the lot of them, robbin' the 
poor like us! Pre no use for their drugs at all. 
They only keep you sick to pay more visits. I'd not 
have sent for this bucko if Eileen didn't scare me 
by faintin'. 

Maey — l^Anxiouslf/.'] Is Eileen very sick, Papa? 

Cabmody — {^Spitting — roughly.^ If she is, it's 
her own fault entirely — ^weakenin' her health by 
readin' here in the house. This'll be a lesson for her, 
and for you, too. {IrritahlyJ] Put down that book 
on the table and leave it be. I'll have no more readin' 
in this house, or I'll take the strap to you! 

Maey — \Layvng the book on the table.'] It's only 
pictures. 

Caemody — No back talk ! Pictures or not, it's all 
the same mopin* and lazin' in it. \^After a pause — 
morosely.] It's the bad luck I've been havin' 
altogether this last year since your mother died. 
Who's to do the work and look after Nora 
and Tom and yourself, if Eileen is bad took 
and has to stay in her bed? I'll have to get 
Mrs. Brennan come look after the house. That 
means money, too, and where's it to come from? 
All that I've saved from slavin' and sweatin' in the 
sun with a gang of lazy Dagoes'll be up the spout 
in no time. [^Bitterly.] What a fool a man is to be 
raisin' a raft of children and him not a millionaire ! 



[With luguhrioua telf-pity.'] Mary, dear, it's a black 
curse God put on me when he took your mother just 
■lien I needed her most, [Mahy commences to sob. 
Caemodi- starts aiid looks at her angrUy.'] What 
an.- you snifflln' atP 

Maky — [^Tearfvlly.'] I was thinking — of Mama. 

C'AajioDr — [Scomf'u!lff.'\ It's late you are with 
your tears, and her cold in her grave for a year. 
■^lop it, I'm tellin' you ! [Maky gulps back her soba.l 

\TheTe is a noise of childish laughter and screams 
from the street in front. The outside door is opened 
luid slammed, footsteps pound along the hall. The 
'I'lor in the rear is shoved open, and Noba and Tom 
 ii-thiu breathlessly/. Noka is a bright, vivacious, red- 
hnired girl of eleven — pretty after an elfish, mi»- 
chiofous fashion — light-hearted and robust,^ 

[Tom resembles Noea in disposition and appear- 
"ice. A healthy, good-humored youngster with a 
■Jiock of sandy hair. He is a year younger than 
■^"(laA. They are followed into the room, a moment 
■■iler, by their brother, Billy, who is evidently loftily 
'■'"jotted with their antics. Billy is a fourteen-year- 
 !(/ replica of his father, whom he imitates even to the 
I'oarte, domineering tone of voice.l 

Caemody [^GrumpUy-l Ah, here you are, the lot 
"f you. Shut that door after you ! What's the use 
i" me spendin' money for coal if all you do is to 
i'-'t the cold night in the room itself? 

Noea — [Hopping over to him — teastngly."] Me 
Hill Tom hod a race, Papa. I beat him. [She sticks 



6 THE STRAW 

her tongue out at her yownger brother.'] Slow poke ! 

Tom — ^You didn't beat me, neither ! 

NoEA — ^I did, too ! 

Tom — ^You did not! You didn't play fair. You 
tripped me comin' up the steps. Brick-top ! Cheater! 

Nora — [Flarmg up.] You're a liar! You stumbled 
over your own big feet, clumsy bones! And I beat 
you fair. Didn't I, Papa? 

Caemody — [With a grtn."] You did, darlin', and 
fair, too. [Tom slmks back to the chair in the rear 
of table, stdking. Cabmody pats Nora's red hair with 
delighted pride."] Sure it's you can beat the divil 
himself ! 

Nora — [Sticks out her tongue again at Tom.'] 
See? Liar ! [She goes and perches on the table near 
Mary who is starvng sadly in front of her.] 

Carmody — [To BiLiiY — irritably,] Did you get 
the plug for me I told you? 

Billy — Sure. [He takes a plug of tobacco from 
his pocket and hands it to his father. Nora slides 
down off her perch and disappears, tmnoticed, v/nder 
the table.] 

Carmody — It's a great wonder you didn't forget 
it — and me without a chew. [He bites off a piece 
and tucks it into his cheek.] 

Tom — [Suddenly clutching at his leg with a yeU.] 
Ouch! Dam you! [He kicks frantically at some- 
thing under the table, but Nora scrambles out at 
the othef end, grinning.] 



THE STRAW 

CiBMODT — [AngrUj/.l Shut jour big mouth ! 
What is the matter with jou at ail? 

Tom — l^ljuiignantly.l She pinched me — hard as 
she could, too — and look at her laugliin' ! 

NoBA — [Hopping on the table again.] Cry-baby! 

II owed you one. 
Tom — I'll fix you, I'll tell Eileen, wait 'n' see ! 
> Nora — Tattle-tale ! I don't care. Eileen's sick, 
k Tom — That's why you dast do it. You dasn't if 
mi was up, I'll get even, you bet! 
mCAsmoDY^^Exaaperated.'] Shut up your noise! 
m up to bed, the two of you, and no more talk, and 
you go with them, Mary. 

N'oBA — [Giving a quick tug at Mary's hair.] 
Come on, Mary. Wake up. 
Mart — Ow! [She begins to cry.] 
Caemodt — [Raising his voice furiouslTi.] Hush 
vour noise, you soft, weak thing, you ! It's nothin* 
hut blubberin' you do be doin' all the time. [He 
ttaiu}s up threateninglif.] Ill have a moment's 
pence, I will ! Off to bed with you before I get the 
^Irap! It's crazy mad you all get the moment 
Eileen's away from you. Go on, now! [They scurry 
out of the rear door.] And be quiet or I'll be up to 
Tou! 

Nora — [Sticks her head back in the door.] Can 

I'lay good-night to Eileen, papa? 

] Carmodt — No. The doctor's with her yet. [Then 

'» hastUjf.] Yes, go in to her, Nora. It'll drive 

■oself out of the house maybe, bad cess to him, and 



8 



Tire STRAW 



him staj'in' half the night. [Noha waits to hear « 
more but darts back; shutting the door behind ket 
Billy takes the chair in front of the table. Cakmod' 
aits down again with a groan-^ The rheumatics ai 
in my leg again. [Shakes his head.~\ If Eileen's i 
bed long those brats'U have the house down. 

Billy— Eileen ain't sick very bad, is she? 

Caemody — [EojtH^.] It's a cold only she hati 
l^Then mournfvVg.'\ Your poor mother died of th< 
same. [^Billy loohs awed.^ Ara, well, it's God's will 
I suppose, but where the money'll come from, X 
dunno. [TTff/i a disparaging glance at his soni_ 
They'll not be raisin' your wages soon, I'll be boundi 

Billy \_SurlUif.'] Naw. The old boss never ^toI 
no one a raise, 'less he has to. He's a. tight-wad fo 
fair. 

Cakmody — [^^iU scanning him reith contempt 
Five dollars a week — for a strappin* lad the like ( 
you ! It's shamed you should be to own up to it. 
divil of a lot of good it was for me to go again 
Eileen's wish and let you leave off your schoolin* tl 
year lite you wanted, thinkin' the money you'd eal 
at work would help with the house. 

Billy — Aw, goin' to school didn't do me no gooi 
The teachers was all down on me. I couldn't let 
nothin' there. 

CAHMonY — [JHsgiistedly.l Nor any other plao 
I'm thinkin', you're that thick. [There is a noise fro 
the stairs in the haU.'\ Whisht! It's the doctor coi 
in' down from Eileen. What'll he say, I wo&dt 



fTBTE STRAW 



9 



[Thf door in th-e rear U opened and Doctor Gaynor 
eaten. He is a itout, hold, middle-aged man, force- 
fd of tpeech, who in the case of patients of the Cak- 
' class dictates rather than advites. Caruodv 
wbpts a whining tOTie.^ Aw, Doctor, and how's 
a now? Have you got her cured of the weakness? 
IGavkoh*— [Z)o« not antzeer this but comes foT- 
iffd into the room holding out two slips of paper — 
mtatoriall^.l Here are two prcscriptiona that'll 
we to he filled immediately. 

JCarmody — [Froipningf.] You take them, Billy, 
I rouDd to the drug store. [Gatnok. hands 
n to BrLLT.] 

rLLT — Give mc the money, then. 
Caemodt — \^Reaches down into Ms pants pocket 
'cilh a sigh.^ How much will tliey come to, Doctor? 
^^ Gayn-ok — About a dollar, I guess. 
^H|Cakmodt — \^Protestvngly.~\ A dollar! Sure it's 
^^■lensive medicines you're givin' her for a bit of a 
^^Bd. l^He meets the doctor's cold glance of con- 
^^Hlpf and he wUta — gmmblingly, as he peels a dollar 
^^p off a small roll and gives it to Billy.] Bring 
I tact the change — if there is any. And none of your 
'ricla, for I'll stop at the drug store myself tomor- 
_fpw and ask the man how much it was. 

SiLLy — Aw, what do you think I amP {He takes 
w KQvey and goes out."] 

IT — [Grudgingly.^ Take a chair. Doctor, 
e what's wrong with Eileen. 



10 THE STRAW 

Gatkob — {^Seating himself by the table—' 
gr(voelyJ\ Your daughter is very seriously ill. 

Cabmody — {Irritably.'] Aw, Doctor, didn't I know 
you'd be sayin' that, anyway ! 

Gaynob — [Ignoring this remark — coMLy."] Your 
daughter has tuberculosis of the lungs. 

Cabmody — {With puzzled awe,"] Too-ber-c'losis? 

Gaynob — Consumption, if that makes it plainer 
to you. 

Cabmody — {With dazed terror — after a pause.l 
Consumption? Eileen? {With sudden anger.] What 
lie is it you're tellin' me? 

Gaynob — {Icily.] Look here, Carmody I I'm not 
here to stand for your insults! 

Cabmody — {Bewilder edly.] Don't be angry, now, 
at what I said. Sure I'm out of my wits entirely. 
Eileen to have the consumption! Ah, Doctor, sure 
you must be mistaken ! 

Gaynob — There's no chance for a mistake, I'm 
sorry to say. Her right lung is badly affected. 

Cabmody — {Desperately.] It's a bad cold only, 
maybe. 

Gaynob — {Curtly.^ Don't talk nonsense. [Cab- 
mody groans* Gaynob continues authoritatvoely.] 
She will have to go to a sanatorium at once. She 
ought to have been sent to one months ago. The 
girl's been keeping up on her nerve when she should 
have been in bed, and it's given the disease a chance 
to develop. {Casts a look of mdignamt scorn at 
Cabmody who is sitting staring at the floor with an 



THE STRAW 11 

ex'premon of angry stupor on hu face.'] It's a won- 
der to me you didn't see the condition she was in 
and force her to take care of herself. Why, the 
girl's nothing but skin and bone ! 

Caamodt — l^With vague fury.] Gk)d blast it! 

Gaynok — ^No, your kind never realizes things till 
the crash comes — usually when it's too late. She 
kept on doing her work, I suppose — ^taking care of 
her brothers and sisters, washing, cooking, sweep- 
ing, looking after your comfort — ^worn out — ^when 
she should have been in bed — and — [He gets to his 
feet with a harsh laugh.] But what's the use of talk- 
ing? The damage is done. We've got to set to work 
to repair it at once. I'll write tonight to Dr. Stan- 
ton of the Hill Farm Sanatorium and find out if he 
has a vacancy. And if luck is with us we can send 
her there at once. The sooner the better. 

Cabmody — [His face growvng red with rage.] 
Is it sendin' Eileen away to a hospital you'd be? 
[Exploding.] Then you'll not! You'll get that 
notion out of your head damn quick. It's all nonsense 
you're stuffin' me with, and lies, makin' things out 
to be the worst in the world. I'll not believe a word 
of Eileen having the consumption at all. It's doc- 
tors' notions to be always lookin' for a sickness 
that'd kill you. She'll not move a step out of here, 
and I say so, and I'm her father! 

Gaynoe — [Who has been staring at him with 
contempt — coldly angry.] You refuse to let your 
daughter go to a sanatorium? 



1« THE STRAW 

Cabmody — ^I do. 

Gaynor — [Threateninglff.'] Then 111 have to 
port her case to the Society for the Prevention of 
Tuberculosis of this county, and tell them of your 
refusal to help her. 

Cabmody — \_Wavering a bit.'] Report all you like, 
and be damned to you! 

Gaynoe — l^Ignoring the interruption — knprei- 
sively.'] A majority of the most influential men of 
this city are back of the Society. Do you know that? 
[GrtmZy.] We'll find a way to move you, Carmody, 
if you try to be stubborn. 

Caemody — l^ThorotigKly frightened but still pro- 
testing.'] Ara, Doctor, you don't see the way of it at 
all. If Eileen goes to the hospital, who^s to be takin' 
care of the others, and mindin' the house when Tm 
off to work? 

Gaynoe — ^You can easily hire some woman. 

Caemody — \^At once furious again.] Hire? D* 
you think I'm a millionaire itself? 

Gaynoe — {^Contemptuously.] That's where the 
shoe pinches, eh? [In a rage,] I'm not going to waste 
any more words on you, Carmody, but I'm damn 
well going to see this thing through ! You might as 
well give in first as last. 

Caemody — [WaUmg.] But where's the money 
comin' from? 

Gaynoe — [Brutcdly.] That's your concern. Don't 
lie about your poverty. You've a steady wdl paid 
job, and plenty of money to throw away on drunken 



prees, PU bet. The weekly fee at the Hill Farm is 
:ily SCTen dollars. You can easily afford that — 
';e price of a few rounds of drinks. 
. Cakmodv — Seven dollars I And Pll have to pay a 
lan to come in — and the four of the children 
r their heads off! Glory be to God, I'll not have 
 saved for me old age— and then it's the 
nr house ! 

JBatnok — [Curtly.l Don't talk nonsense! 
tsuoDY — ^Ah, doctor, it's the truth I'm tellin* 

Watnok — ^Well, perhaps I can get the Society to 

J half for jour daughter- — if you're really as hard 
Ikasyou pretend. They're willing to do that where 
li §eenia necessary. 

Caimodt — [B right ening-l Ah, Doctor, thault 
jou. 

GiTNoa — [Abruptly.'] Then it's all settled? 

CiiiuovT~~[Grudgingli/ — trying to make the 
bat of it.] I'll do my best for Eileen, if it's needful 
—and you'll not be tellin' them people about it at 
all. Doctor? 

GArsoK — ^Not unless you force me to. 

Cakmody— And they'll pay the half, surely? 

Gavnor^ — I'll see what I can do — for your daugh- 
''[■'s sake, not yours, understand! 

Cabmody — God bless you, Doctor ! [Grumft- 
'*n^/^.] It's the whole of it they ought to be payin', 
I'm tfainkin', and them with sloos of money. 'Tis 



14 THE STRAW 

them builds the hospitals and why should they be > 
wantin' the poor like me to support them? 

Gaynor — [Disgust edly.l Bah! \^Ahruptltf.'] VOl 
telephone to Doctor Stanton tomorrow morning. 
Then I'll know something definite when I come to 
see your daughter in the afternoon. 

Carmodt — {^Darkly.'] You'll be comin' again to- 
morrow? l^Half to himself,'] Leave it to the likes 
of you to be drainin' a man dry. [Gaynor has gone i 
out to the hall in rear and does not hear this last 
remark. There is a loud knock from the outside 
door. The Doctor comes back into the room carry' : 
ing his hat and overcoat.] \ 

Gaynor — There's someone knocking. i 

Carmody— Who'll it be? Ah, it's Fred Nicholls,' j 
maybe. [In a low voice to Gaynor who has started \ 

 

to put on his overcoat.] Eileen's young man, Doc- ' 
tor, that she's engaged to marry, as you might say. 
Gaynor — [Thoughtfully.] Hmm — yes — she 
spoke of him. [As another knock sounds Carmodt 
hurries to the rear. Gaynor, after a moments t»- 
decisionj takes off his overcoat again and sits down. 
A moment later Carmody re-enters followed hy ', 
Fred Nicholas, who has left his overcoat and hat 
in the hallway. Nicholls is a young fellow of 
twenty-threej stockUy huilt, fair-haired^ handsome hi 
a commonplace, conventional mould. His manner is 
obviously an attempt at suave gentility; he has an 
easy, taking smile and a ready laugh, hut there is a 
petty, calculating expression in his small, ohserdrng^ 



THE STRAW 15 

Hue eye9. His weU-fltting, readymade clothes are 
earefvUy pressed. His whole get-up suggests an at- 
titude of Tnamrdbout'-smallrtown complacency.^ 

Cabmody — [As they enter, 1 I had a mind to 
phone to your house but I wasn't wishful to disturb 
you, knowin' you'd be comin' to call tonight. 

NiCHOiiLs — [With disappointed concern."] It's 
nothing serious, I hope. 

Cabmodt — \Grumhlvngly.'\ Ah, who knows? 
Here's the doctor. You've not met him? 

Nicholas — [Politely^ looking at Gaynoe who in- 
clines his head stiffly,"] I haven't had the pleasure. 

Of course I've heard 

Carmody — ^It's Doctor Gaynor. This is Fred 
Nicholls, Doctor. [The two men shake hands with 
conventional pleased-to-meet-yous.] Sit down, Fred, 
that's a good lad, and be talkin' to the Doctor a 
moment while I go upstairs and see how is Eileen. 
She's all alone up there. 

Nicholas — Certainly, Mr. Carmody. Go ahead 
*-and tell her how sorry I am to learn she's under 
the weather. 
Carmody — ^I will so. [He goes out.] 
Gaynor — [After a pause in which he is studying 
K1CHOL.1-S.] Do you happen to be any relative to 
the Albert Nicholls who is superintendent over at the 
Downs Manufacturing Company? 

Nicholls — [Smiling.] He's sort of a near rela- 
tive — my father. 
Gaynor — ^Ah, yes? 



16 THE STRAW 

NicHOixs — {^With satigfcu:tion.'\ I work for the 
Downs Company myself — ^bookkeeper 



Gaynor — ^Miss Carmody — the sick girl upsti 
she had a position there also, didn't she, before her 
mother died? 

NicHOixs — ^Yes. She had a job as stenographer 
for a time. When she graduated from the business 
college course — ^I was already working at the Downs 
— and through my father's influence — ^you under- 
stand. [Gaynor nods curtly.'] She was getting on 
finely, too, and liked the work. It's too bad — her 
mother's death, I mean— forcing her to give it up 
and come home to take care of those kids. 

Gaynor — It's a damn shame. That's the main 
cause of her breakdown. 

NiCHOLLS — l^Frozcning.l I've noticed she's been 
looking badly lately. So that's the trouble? Well, 
it's all her father's fault — and her own, too, be- 
cause whenever I raised a kick about his making 
a slave of her, she always defended him. \^With a 
quick glance at the Doctor — in a confidential tone.1 
Between us, Carmody's as selfish as they make 'em. if 
you want my opinion. 

Gaynor — [With a growl.] He's a hog on two 
legs. 

Nicholas — [With a gratified smile.] You bet! 
[With a patronizing air.] I hope to get Eileen away 
from all this as soon as — ^things pick up a little. 
[Making haste to explain his connection mth the 
dubious household.] Eileen and I have gone around 



THE STRAW 17. 

together for years — ^went to Grammar and High 
School together — ^in ^different classes, of course^ 
She's really a corker — ^very different from the rest 
of the family you've seen — ^like her mother* She's 
really educated and knows a lot — ^used to carry off 
aU the prizes at school. My folks like her awfully 
welL Of course, they'd never stand for — ^him. 

Gaynor — ^You'll excuse my curiosity — I've a good 
reason for it — ^but you and Miss Carmody are en- 
gaged, aren't you? Carmody said you were. 

NiCHOLiiS — {^Embarrassed.'] Why, yes, in a way 
— ^but nothing definite — ^no official announcement or 
anything of that kind. It's all in the future. We 
have to wait, you know. \_With a sentimental smile.'} 
We've been sort of engaged for years, you might 
say. It's always been sort of understood between us. 
[He laughs awkwardly.'] 

GAYNoa — [Gravely.] Then I can be frank with 
you. I'd like to be because I may need your help. 
I don't put much faith in any promise Carmody 
makes. Besides, you're bound to know anyway. 
She'd tell you. 

NiCHOLLs — [^ look of apprehension coming over 
his face.] Is it — about her sickness? 

Gaynor — ^Yes. 

Nicholas — ^Then — ^it's serious? 

Gaynor — ^It's pulmonary tuberculosis — consump- 
tion« 
NicHOLLS — [Stun/ned.] Consumption? Good 



18 THE STRAW 

heavens! [After a dazed pause — lamely. '\ Are you 
sure, Doctor? 

Gaynor — ^Positive. [Nicholls stares at him wifh ' 
vaguely frightened eyes.l It's had a good start — 
thanks to her father's blind selfishness — but let's ; 
hope that can be overcome. The important thing j 
is to ship her ofi^ to a sanatoriiun immediately. Car- j 
mody wouldn't hear of it at first. However, I man- 
aged to bully him into consenting ; but I don't trust \ 
his word. That's where you can be of help. It's | 
up to you to convince him that it's imperative she j 
be sent away at once — ^f or the safety of those around j 
her as well as her own. } 

Nicholas — [Confusedly. "] I'll do my best, doctor, i 
[As if he couldn't yet believe his ears — shuddering.'] ^ 
Good heavens ! She never said a word about — being i 
so ill. She's had a cold. But, Doctor, — do you \ 
think this sanatorium wiU ? 

Gaynor — [With hearty hopefulness.] Most cer- 
tainly. She has every chance. The Hill Farm has «j 
a really surprising record of arrested cases — as good 
as any place in the country. Of course, she'll never 
be able to live as carelessly as before, even after the : 
most favorable results. She'll have to take care of 
herself. [Apologetically.'] I'm telling you all this ; 
as being the one most intimately concerned. I don't 
count Carmody, You are the one who will have to ^ 
assume responsibility for her welfare when she re- ^ 
turns to everyday life. 

NicHOLLs — [Answering as if he were merely talk-- 



THE STRAW 19 

ing to acreen the thougktt in hit mind.1 Yes — cer- 
tainly — . Where is this sanatorium. Doctor — ^very 
far away? 

Gaynob — Half an hour by train to the town. The 
unatorium is two miles out on the hills — a nice 
drive. You'll be able to sec her whenever you've a 
day off. It's a pleasant trip. 

NicHOLi-s — [A look of horrified Tealization hat 
been creeping into his ei/es."] You said — -Eileen 
ought to be sent away — for the sake of those around 
her ? 

GArxoE — That's obvious. T. B. is extremely con- 
tagious, you must know that. Yet I'll bet she's been 
fondling and kissing those brothers and sisters of 
htrs regardless. [Nicholls fidgets unea»Uy on his 
e&air.] And look at this house sealed tight against 
the fresh air! Not a window open an inch! [Fum- 
wff.] That's what we're up against in the fight with 
T,B, — a total ignorance of the commonest methods 
of prevention 

KicHOLLs — l^Hii eyes shiftily avoiding the doc- 
tor's face,'\ Then the kids might have gotten it — ^by 
tiesing Eileen? 

Gaynor — It stands to reason that's a conmion 
means of communication. 

Nicholls— [T>r?/ much shaken.'] Yes, I suppose 
itmustbe. But that's terrible, isn't it? IWitk sud- 
den volvbility, evidently extremely anxious to wind 
Up ihii conversation and conceal his thoughts from 
Gatsos.] I'll promise you, Doctor, I'll tell Car- 



«0 THE STRAW | 

mody straight what's what. Hell pay attention to; 
me or I'll know the reason why. ^ 

Gaynor — [Getting to his feet and picking «p Mi '^ 
overcoat.'] Good boy! You've probably saved me a j 
disagreeable squabble. I won't wait for Carmody..). 
The sight of him makes me lose my temper. TeQ u 
him I'll be back tomorrow with definite information)^ 
about the sanatorium. 

■da 

Nicholas — [Helping him on with his overcoaip.. 
anaiotLS to have him go.] All right, Doctor. 

Gaynor — [Puts on his hat.] And do your best to. 
cheer the patient up when you talk to her. Give her - 
confidence in her ability to get wetl. That's half the ^ 
battle. And she'll believe it, coming from you. 

NicHOixs — [HastUy.] Yes, yes, I'll do all I csau 

Gaynor — [Turns to the door and shakes r 
Nicholas' hand sympathetically. ] And don't tafc^ ' 
it to heart too much yourself. There's every hope^ 
remember that. In six months she'll come back t(^ 
you her old self again. 

Nicholas — [Nervously.] It's hard on a fellow— ; 
so suddenly — ^but I'll remember — and — [dbruptly\ < 
Good-night, Doctor. 

Gaynor — Good-night. [He goes out. The <mUf 
door is heard shutting behind him. NicHOLiiS closes 
the door J rear^ and comes hack and sits in the chck 
in front of table. He rests his chin on his hands a/ni 
stares before him^ a look of desperate^ frightened 
calculation coming into his eyes. Carmody it 
heard clumping heavily down the stairs. A Tnoment h 



THE STRAW 91 

tater he enters. Ui» expression is glum and tr- 
ntated.li 

Carmodt — [^Coming forward to his chair by the 
Jlope.] Has he gone away? 

NicHOLLS — \_Tuming on him urith a look of re- 
jm/*ion.] Yes, He said to tell jou he'd be back to- 
morrow with definite information — about the sana- 
'i>riiini business. 
Carmody — l^Darkly.l Oho, he did, did he? 
tajbe 111 surprise him. I'm thinkin' it's lyin' he 
^about Eileen's sickneES, and her lookin' as fresh 
I daisy with the high color in her cheeks when 
7 her DOW. 
iNicHoiLs— [/mpflficnfiZi/.] That's silly, Mr. Car- 
idy. Gajnor knows his business. [After a mo- 
It'i hentation.l He told me all about Eileen's 
leaa. 

kKMODT — [Resentfully.^ Did he now, the auld 
ikey I Small thanks to him to be tellin' our secrets 
I the town. 

NicHOLLS — [Exasperated.^ I didn't want to 
Ic^urn your affairs. He only told me because you'd 

S[ and Eileen were engaged. You're the one who 
elling — se cr et 9 , 
KMODY — [Irritated,'] Ara, don't be talkin'! 
'a no secret at all with the whole town watchin' 
t-ueen and you spoonin' together from the time you 
"'as kids. 

N1CH01.1.B — [Vindictively. 1 Well, the whole town 
- liable to find out . [He checks himielf-l 



1 



«s 



THE STRAW 



Cabmody — [Too absorbed m hU own troublei t 
notice this threat.^ To HlII with the town and a 
in it! I've troubles enough of my own. So he to! 
you he'd send Eileen away to the hospital? I've h 
a mind not to let hira — and let him try to make n 
[With a fromn.1 But Eileen herself says she 
wantin' to go, now. [AngrUi/.^ It's all thi 
divil's notion he put in her head that the children' 
be catchin' her sickness that makes her willin' to g 

NiCHOLLs — [iri(& a superior air.] From what 1 
told me, I should say it was the only thing fo 
Eileen to do if she wants to get well quickly. [Spit 
fvlly.'\ And I'd certainly not go against Gayno 
if I was you. He told me he'd make it hot for i 
if you did. He will, too, you can bet on that. Her 
that kind. 

Carmodt- — [Worriedly.'] He's a divil. But wh( 
can he do— him and his Sasiety? I'm her father. 

NicHOLLS — [Se^g Carmody's uneasiness mi 
revengeful satisfaction.^ Oh, he'll do what he say 
don't worry ! You'll make a mistake if you thin 
he's bluffing. It'd probably get in all the papei 
about you refusing. Everyone would be down i 
you. [As a last jab — spitefully.] You might eve 
lose your job over it, people would be so sore. 

Cabmody — [Jumping to his feet.] Ah, divil tall 
him! Let him send her where he wants, then. I' 
not be sayin' a word. 

NicHOLLS — [As an afterthought,] And, honestl] 
Mr. Carmody, I don't see how you can object for 



THE STRAW 23 

rod — after he's told you it's absolutely necessary 

' r Eileen to go away. [Seeing Cakmodt'a shaken 

 iindition, he finishes boldly.'] You've some feeling 

±Ju your own daughter, haven't you? You'd be a 

^^k father if you hadn't I 

^^Rabmody- — [Apprehensively,] Whisht! She might 
I tear you. But you're right. Let her do what she's 
»iihf ul to get well soon. 

V1CK01.1.S — [Complacently — feeling his duty in 
>he matter well done.] That's the right spirit. I 
i.neff you'd see it that way. And you and I'll do 
ill we can to help her. [He gets to Jtis feet.] Well, 

i guess 111 have to go. Tell Eileen 

Carwodt — You're not goin'? Sure, EOeen is 

in her clothes to come down and have a look 

l[jou. She'll be here in a jiffy. Sit down now, and 

t for her. 
"Nicholls — [SuddeTdy panic-stricken by the 
} proipect of facing ker.] No — no — I can't stay — I 
[ nnly came for a moment— I've got an appointment 
—honestly. Besides, it isn't right for her to be up, 
file's too weak. It'll make her worse. You should 
luve told her. [The door in the rear is opened and 
Eileen enters. She is just over eighteen. Her wavy 
I'nts of dark hair is parted in the middle and combed 
'"if on her forehead, covering her ears, to a knot at 
>he back of her head. The oval of her face is spoiled 
I'll a long, rather heavy, Irish jaw contrasting with 
f delicacy of her other features. Her eyes are 
rge arid blue, confident in their compelling candor 



ti 



THE STRAW 



and iweetneta; her lipi, fuU and red, half-open otn 
strong even teeth, droop at the corners inti 
preision of wistful sadnest; her clear complexion i 
unnaturally itriking in its contrasting colors, 
and white; her fgure is slight and undeveloped, 
wears a plain black drest with a bit of white at tht 
neck and wrists. She stands looking appealin 
NicHOLLS who avoids her glance. Her eyes have t 
startled, stunned expression as if the doctor's verdia 
were still in her ears."] 

Eileen — [Faintly — forcing a smile. ] G« 
evening, Fred. [Her eyes search hit fd 
anxiously.^ 

NiCHOLLs — l^Confusedly.J Hello, Eileen. Fm| 

sorry to -. [Clumsily trying to cover up hit c 

fusion, he goes over and leads her to a chair.^ Ym 
must sit down. You've got to take care of youradT 
You never ought to have gotten up tonight. 

Eileen — [Sits down.^ I wanted to talk to yonj 
[^She raises her face with a pitifid smile. NicHOU 
hurriedly moves back to his own chair.'] 

NicHOLLs — [Almost brusquely.] I could hfl 
talked to you from the hall. You're silly to i 
chances just now. [Eileen's eyes show her hurt ] 
his tone.] 

CA.nMODY~^[Seeing his chance — hastily.] You'B 
be stayin' a while now, Fred? I'U take a walk down ] 
the road. I'm necdin' a drink to clear my wits. [Hi 
goes to the door in rear.] 




THE STTlAW 



[Reproachfullif.'] You won't be loDg, 
fmher? And please don't — you know. 
tiBMODT — [^Exasperated. '\ Sure who wouldn't 
. gut drunk with all the sorrows of the world piled 
on him? [He stamps out, A moment later the 
nt$ide door bangs behtTid him. Eileen sight. 
NicHOLLs walks up and down with his eyes on the 

NicHOLLs — [Furious at Cakmody for having left 
Urn in this situation.^ Honestly, Eileen, your father 
is the limit. I don't see how you stand for him. He's 

most seMsh 

,EEN — [Gentl^.l Sssh ! You mustn't, Fred. He's 
blame. He just doesn't understand. 
'icuoLi-s snorts disdainfully.'] Don't! Let's not 
about him now. Wc won't have many more 
,ff«nings together for a long, long time. Did Father 

the Doctor tell you \_Slu; falters.] 

iCHOLLS — [Not looking at her— glumly.] Every- 
ig there was to tell, I guess. 

Eileen — [Hastening to comfort him.] You 
|i:!stn't worry, Fred. Please don't! It'd make it so 
"inch worse for me if I thought you did. I'll be all 
-s;ht. Ill do exactly what they tell me, and in a few 
imths I'll be back so fat and healthy you won't 

NiCHOLLs — [Lamely.] Oh, there's no doubt of 
Ijat. No one's worrying about your not getting well 
quick. 
En^EN — It won't be long. We can write often, 



CO 



THE STRAW 



and it isn't far awaj. You can come out and see  
every Sunday — if you want to. 

NiCHOLLs — [Hastili/.] Of course I will! 

Eileen — [Looking at hU face aearckinglt/.] Wl 
do you act so funny P Why don't you sit dowi 
here, by me? Don't you want to? 

N'icHOtLs— [Draawi^ up a chair by hert 
flushing guHtily.l I — I'm all bawled up, Eileen, 
don't know what I'm doing. 

EiLEEK — \Putting her hand on his knee.^ Po 
Fred! I'm so sorry I have to go. I didn't want 
at first. I knew how hard it would be on Father a 
the kids — especially little Mary. [Her voice tremU 
a 6t(.] And then the doctor said if I stayed I'd 
putting them all in danger. He even ordered i 
not to kiss them any more. [She bites her lips to I 
strain a sob — then coughs, a soft, husky cou^ 
NiCHOLLS shrinks away from her to the edge of ) 
chair, his eyes shifting nervously with fright. Eiu 
continues gently.l So I've got to go and get i 
don't you see? 

NiCHOLLS — [JVetting his dry lips.l Yes — ^i( 
better. 

Eileen — [Sadly.'] I'll miss the kids so mm 
Taking care of them has meant so much to me sin 
Mother died. [TFi(ft a half-sob she suddenly throi 
her arms about his neck and hides her face on I 
shoulder. He shudders and fights against az 
to push her away.^ But I'll miss you most of ( 
Fred. ^She lifts her lips towards his, expectir^ 



THE STRAW n 

kits. He seema about to kit* her — then averti his 
face with a shrinking movement, pretending he hasn't 
seen. Eij-ezn's eyes grow wide with horror. She 
throws herself back into her own chair, staring ac- 
cv-singly at Nicholls. She speaks diokingly.] 
Fred! Whj — whj didn't you kiss — what is it? Are 
you — afraid? \^With a moaning sound.^ Oooh! 

NicHoiLs — [Goaded by this accusation into a dis- 
play of manhood, seizes her fiercely by the arms.^ 
No! WTiat — what d'you mean? \_He tries to kits 
her but she hides her face-l 

Eileen — [/» a muffled voice of hysterical self- 
accusation, pushing his head away.l No, no, you 
mustn't ! I was wrong. The doctor told you not to, 
didn't he? Please don't, Fred! It would be aw- 
I iul if anything happened to you — through me. 
I [NicHOLi.8 gives up his attempts, recalled to caution 
hy her words. She raises her face and tries to force 
a smile through her tears."] But you can kiss me on 
the forehead, Fred. That can't do any harm. [His 
face crimson, he does so. She laughs hysterically.] 
It seems so silly — being kissed that way — by you. 
[She gulps back a sob and continued to attempt to 
jofce.] I'll have to get used to it, won't I? 



[Curtain FaUs.1 



i 



ACT I 



SCENE TWO 



Scene — The reception room of the Infirmary 
large^ high-ceUinged room painted white^ s 
oUedf hardwood floor. In the left waU^ forwc 
a row of four windows. Farther back, the m 
entrance from the driveway^ and anot 
window. In the rear wall left^ a glass partii 
looking out on the sleeping porch. A row 
white hedsy with the faces of patients hai 
peeping out from wnder pUes of heavy I 
clothes^ can he seen. To the right of this pa 
tion, a bookcase, and a door leading to the J 
past the patients* rooms. Farther right, 
other door opening on the examining room, 
the right waU, rear, a door to the office. Fart 
forward, a row of windows. In front of 
windows, a long dining table mth chairs, 
the left of the table, toward the center of 
room, a chimney with two open fireplaces, fac 
left and right. Several wicker armchairs 
placed arovmd the fireplace on the left in wl 
a cheerful wood fire is crackling. To the lef\ 



THE STRAW 



29 



center, a rouiid reading arid writing table with 
a green-shaded electric lamp. Other electric 
lights are in brackets around the walls. Eaty 
chairs stand near the table which is stacked 
Kith magazines. Rocking chairs are placed here 
and there about the room, near the windows, etc. 
A Yictrola stands near the left wall, forward. 

It is nearing eight o'clock of a cold evening 
about a week later. 

At the rise of the curtain Stephen Muhbat 
w discovered sitting in a chair in front of the 
fireplace, left. Muerat is thirty years old— a 
taU, slender, rather wiusual looking fellow loith 
a pale face, sunken under high cheek bones, 
Uaed about the eyes and mouth, jaded and worn 
for one stiU so yowng. His intelligent, large 
hazel eyes have a tired, dispirited expression in 
repose, but can quicken instantly with a con- 
cealment mechanism of mocking, careless hrnnor 
whenever his inner privacy is threatened. His 
large mouth aids this process of protection 
by a quick change from its set apathy to a 
cheerful grin of cynical good nature. He gives 
off the impression of being somehow dissatisfied 
with himself but not yet embittered enough by 
it to take it out on others. His manner, as re- 
vealed by his speech — nervous, inquisitive, alert 
— seems more an acquired quality than any part 
of his real nature. He stoops a trifle, giving 
hint a slightly round-shouldered appearance. 



J 



so THE STRAW 

He is dreised in a tkabbtf dark suit, baggy t 
the knees. He is staring into the fire, dreamini 
an open book lying unheeded on the arm of hi 
chair. The Victrola is whinmg out the lat 
strains of Dvorak's Humoresque. In the door 
way to the office. Miss Gilpin stands talking ta 
Miss Howard. The former is a slight, middls- 
aged woman mth black hair, and a strong, in- 
telligent face, its expression of resolute efft 
ciency softened and made kmdly by her tparm, 
sympathetic grey eyes. Miss Howard is taUf 
slender and blond — decidedly pretty and ] 
vokingly conscious of it, yet with a certain air 
of seriousness underlying her apparent frivot^ 
ity. She is twenty years old. The elder v 
is dressed in the aU white of a full-fledged nurse. 
Miss Howard wears the grey-blue uniform of 
one still in training. The record peters out. 
MtiREAT sigris with relief but makes tk) move ti 
get up and stop the grinding needle. 
HowAED hurries across to the machine. Mifl 
Gilpin goes back into the office. 

Miss Howasd — [Takes off the record, gtanek 
at MuRBAY zvith amused vexation.'] It's a woodt 
you wouldn't stop this machine grinding itself 1 
hits, Mr. Murray. 

Murray — [ With a smile. ] I was hoping the dan 
thing would bust, [Miss Howard sniffs. 



ng the dan 19 
s. Mcrbas P 



I THE STRAW 91 

grim at her iea»ingl^.'\ It keeps you from talking 
to me. That's the real music. 

Miss Howakd — [Comes over to ku chair laugh- 
ing.^ It's easy to see you've got Irish in you. Do 
you know what I think? I think you're a natural 
born kidder. All newspaper reporters are like that, 
I've heard. 

McREAi- — You wrong me terribly, [Then frown- 
ing.^ And it isn't charitable to remind me of my 
job. I hoped to forget all about it up here. 

MiBS HowAUD — \_SurpTised.'\ I think it's great 
ttj be able to write, I wish I could. You ought to 
he proud of it. 

MtTBEAT — [GluTuly.^ I'm not. You can't call it 
writing — not what I did — small town stuff. [Chavg- 
ing the subject.'\ But I wanted to ask you some- 
thing. Do you know when I'm to be moved away to 
llie shacks? 

Miss Howard — In a few days, I guess. Don't be 
impatient. [MnaEAY grunts and moves nervously on 
hit chair.l What's the matter? Don't you like us 
here at the Infirmary? 

Mlehat — [Smiling.^ Oh — you — yes! [Then ser- 
ioutly.'l I don't care 'or the atmosphere, though. 
[He reaves his hand toward the "partition looking out 
on the porch.'l All those people in bed out there on 
the porch seem so sick. It's depressing. I can't 
do anything for them — and — it makes me feel so 
is, 
8 HowAttD — Well, it's the rules, you know. All 



THE smAW^ 

the patients have to come here first until Docti 
Stanton finds out whether they're well enough to 
sent out to the shacks and cottages. Aud rememl 
jou're a patient just like the ones in bed out there 
even if you are up and about. 

Mdshat — I know it. But I don't feci as I wei 
— really sick like them. 

Miss Howaed — [H^wrf^.] None of them 
either. 

Ml-rbay — [After a momenVt rejection — cjfn 
cally.l Yea, I suppose it*a that pipe dream tlu 
keeps us all going, eh? 

Miss Howaed— Well, you ought to be thankfnl 
You're very lucky, if you knew it. [^Lowering Afl 
voiceSl Shall I tell you a secret? I've seen you 
chart and you've no cause to worry. Doctor Stao 
ton joked about it. He said you were too uninter 
esting — there was so little the matter with you, 

Murray — [Pleased but pretending indifference' 
Humph ! He's original in that opinion. 

Ifiss Howard — I know it's hard you're being ' 
only one up the week since you've been here, with 
one to talk to; but there's another patient due 
day. Maybe she'll be well enough to be aroimd w 
yon. [With a quick glance at her wnat watcli,'\ S 
can't be coming unless she got in on the last train, 

MtTRRAY — [Interestedly.'] It's a she, eh? 

Miss HowAED — Yes. 

MtTREAT — [Grinning provokinglyJ] Young" 

Miss Howaed — Eighteen, I believe. [Seeing 



\ 



THE STRAW 88 

prill — irt^^ feigned pique."] I suppose youll be ask- 
ing if she's pretty next ! CMi, you men are all alike, 
dck or .well. Her name is Carmody, that's the only 
other thing I know. So there ! 

Mu&BAT — Carmody ? 

Miss Howaed — Oh, you don't know her. She's 
from another part of the state from your town. 

Miss Giltin— [Appearing in the office doorway.] 
Miss Howard. 

Miss Howard — ^Yes, Miss Gilpin. [In an aside to 
MuBBAT as she leaves him.] It's time for those hor- 
rid diets. l^She hurries back into the office. . Mub- 
lAT stares into the fire. Miss Howabd reappears 
from the office and goes out by the door to the holly 
rear. Carriage wheels are heard from the driveway 
w front of the house on the left. They stop. After 
\ a pause there is a sharp rap on the door and a bell 
\ rings insistently. Men^s muffled voices are heard in 
\ argument. Mubeat turns curiously in his chair. Miss 
Gilpin comes from the office and walks quickly to the 
door, wrdocking and opening it. Eileen enters, fol- 
lowed by NiCHOLLs, who is carrying her suit-case, 
and by her father.] 

Eileen — I'm Miss Carmody. I believe Doctor 
Gaynor wrote 

Miss Gilpin — \^Taking her hand — with kind 
affability.] We've been expecting you all day. How 
do you do? I'm Miss Gilpin. You came on the last 
train, didn't you? 

Eileen — [Heartened by the other womxirCs iWn3- 



THE STRAW 

neu.] Yes. This is my father. Miss Gilpin— 
Mr. NicfaoUs — [Misa Gn^[&- thaleet handt cordiaU 
with the (iro sira who are ttaring about the room i 
embarras$nunt. Cabuodt hai r^rp Fcidently bet 
drinking. Hit voice u thick and hit face puffed an 
stupid. NiCHOLLs' manneT it that of one who it t 
complithing a tteeetsary but disagreeable duty -an 
the bcit grace possible, but is frightfully/ eager i 
get it over and done icith. Cabmodt's condition e 
barratses him acutely and irhra he glances at kirn  
is with hatred and angry disgust.'l 

Miss Gilpix — [Indicating the chairs »n front t 
the vmdowt on the left, forward.^ Won't you f 
tlemen sit down? [Cabmodt grunts tullenly an 
plumps himself into the one nearest the doa 
NiCHOLi-s hesitates, glacing down at the suit-case k 
carries. Miss Gixpin turns to Eu-een.] And no 
weHI get you settled immediately. Your r 

ready for you. If youll follow me [She tun 

toward the door in rear, center.^ 

Eileen — Let me take the suit-case now, Fred, 
Miss Gilpin — [At he is about to hand it to h 
decisively.'] Xo, my dear, you mustn't. Put 1 
case right down there, Mr. Nicholls. Ill have : 
taken to Miss Carmody's room in a moment. [Si 
shakes her finger at Eileen with kindly admonition 
That's the first rule you'll have to leam. Never e 
ert yourself or tax your strength. It's very i 
portant. You'll Gnd laziness is a virtue instead 
ft nee with us. 



THE STRAW 35 

Edleen — {^Confused.l I I didn't know 

Miss Gilpin — ^Smiling.} Of course you didn't. 
And now if you'll come with me I'll show you your 
room. We^l have a little chat there and I can ex- 
plain all the other important rules in a second. The 
gentlemen can make themselves comfortable in the 
meantime. We won't be gone more than a moment. 

NicHOLLs— [Ferfwjp called upon to iay some- 
thing.'] Yes— we'll wait — certainly, we're all right. 
[Cabmodt remains silent, glowering at the fire. 
NicHOLLs sits doTen beside htm. Miss Gilpin otmJ 
Eileen go out. MuaaAy switches Ms chair so he 
tan observe the two mere out of the comer of his ey» 
viale ■pretending to he absorbed in his hook.] 

CAHMODy — [Looking ahout shiftily and reaching 
for the inside pocket of his overcoat.'] I'll be havin' 
* nip now we're alone, and that caeklin' hen gone. 
Va feelin' sick in the pit of the stomach. ^He pvlls 
wt a pint flask, half fvU.] 

NicHOLLs — [Excitedly.] For God's sake, don't! 
Put that bottle away ! [In a whisper.] Don't you 
»e that fellow in the chair there? 

Cabmodt — [Taking a big drink.] Ah, I'm not 
mindin' a man at all. Sure I'll bet it's himself would 
i(e Hkin' a taste of the same. [He appears about to 
get tip and invite Mubrat to join him but Nicholls 
grabs his arm,] 

Nicholls — [WifA a frightened look at Mobkat 
who appears huried in his book.] Stop it, you 



THE STRAW 87 

I, and not a hospital for the poor, but the poor 
 to pay for it. 

NicHOLLB — [Fearful of another outbreak.} Sshh! 
lBmody — Don't be Bhshin* at me? I'm tellm' 
 the truth. I'd make Eileen come back out of 
: tonight if that divil of a doctor didn't have me 
the throat, 

FiCHOLLS — [Glancing at him jiervomly.} I won- 

how soon she'll be back? The carriage is waiting 

We'll have to hurry to make that last train 

ck. If we miss it — it means two hours on the 

1 trolley. 

Iabmqdy — [Angrily.'] Is it anxious to get out of 
sight you are, and you engaged to marry and 
aidin' to love her? [Nickolls flushes guiltily. 
BKAY pricks up his ears arid stares over at 
HOI.I.S. The latter meets his glance, scowls, and 
iedly averts his eyes. Carmody goes on accus- 
/.] Sure, it's no heart at all you have — and her 
 sweetheart for years — and her sick with the 
lumption — and you wild to run away from her 
leave her alone, 
[CHOLLS — [Springing to his feet — furiously,] 

ist's a ! [He controls himself teitk an effort. 

? trembles.] You're not responsible for the 

itie things you're saying or I'd [He turns 

seeking some escape from the old man's 

e.] I'U see if the man is still there with the rig. 

goes to the door on left and goes out.] 

XODT — [FoUoaing him with his eyes.] Go to 



J 



ease, and not a hospital for the poor, but the poor 
Eias to pay for it. 

NicHOLi.8 — IFearful of another outbreak.^ Sshh! 

Cabmodv — Don't be shshin* at me? I'm tellin* 
jou the truth. I'd make Eileen come back out of 
lliis tonight if that divil of a doctor didn't have me 
by the tliroat. 

NicHOLLs — [Glancing at him nemously.'] I won- 
di-T how soon she'll be back? The carriage is waiting 

!■ us. We'll have to hurry to make that last train 

 tk. If we miss it — it means two hours on the 

v.nn trolley. 

C.ixMODY — [AngrStf.'l Is it anxious to get out of 

r ai^t you are, and you engaged to marry and 
- [retendin* to love her? [Nicholls flushes guUtUy. 

IUimBAT pricks up his ears and stares over at 
KiCHoi^Ls. The latter meets his glance, scowls, and 
' huriedltf averts his eyes. CAaMonv goet on accus- 
V\'/.] Sure, it's no heart at all you have — and her 
ur sweetheart for years — and her sick with the 
■isrimption — and you wild to run away from her 
"111 leave her alone. 
XiCHoi.i.8 — [^Springing to his feet — furiously.^ 

That's a ! [He controls himself with an effort. 

flit voice trembles.'\ You're not responsible for the 

idiotic things you're saying or I'd [He tarns 

ovaff, seeking some escape from the old man's 
tongue.^ I'll see if the man is still there with the rig. 
[Hf goes to the door on left and goes ouf.] 
Cabmodt — [Following him with his eyes.^ Go to 



THE STRAW 39 

the kall.'\ If I'm not mistaken, here comes jour 
daughter now. 

Cabmody — [As Eileen comet into the room.] 
ril make you acquainted. Eileen ! [She comes over 
to them, embarrassed to find her father in hU condi- 
tion so chummy with a stranger. Mubkay rises to 
his feet.] This is Mr, Murray, Eileen. I want you 
to meet. He's Irish and he'll put you on to the 
ropes of the place. He's got the consumption, too, 
God pity him. 

Eileen— [Dm *re«e(f.] Oh, Father, how can 

you \_With a look at Muesay which pleads for 

her father.] I'm glad to meet you, Mr. Murray. 

McEKAT — [TFi(A a straight glance at her which is 
so frankly admiring that she flushes and drops her 
eyes.] I'm glad to meet you, [The front door is 
opened and Nicholls re-appears, shivering with the 
cold. He stares over at the others with Si-concealed 
irritation.] 

Caemody — [Noticing him — with malicious satis- 
faction.] Oho, here you are again. [Nicholls 
scowls and turns away. Caemody addresses his 
daughter with a sly wink at Mueray.] I thought 
Fred was slidin' down hill to the train with his head 
bare to the frost, and him so desperate hurried to 
get away from here. Look at the knees on him 
clappin' together with the cold, and with the great 
fear that's in him he'll be catchin' a sickness in thia 
place ! [Nicholls, Am guilty conscience stabbed to 
the quick, turns pale with impotent rage,] 



A 




THE STRAW 39 

t tuill,'] If I'm not nuBtaken, here comes jour 
daughter now, 

Cakmody — [Ai Eileen comes into the room.] 
I'll make you acquainted. Eileen ! [She comes over 
to theTtt, embarrassed to find her father in his condi- 
tion so chiiimny with a stranger, MrKKAT rises to 
kis feet.] This is Mr. Murray, Eileen. I want you 
to meet. He's Irish and he'll put you on to the 
ropes of the place. He's got the consumption, too, 
God pity him. 
Eileen — [Distressed.'] Oh, Father, how can 

jou [With a look at Mukrat which pleads for 

her father.] I'm glad to meet you, Mr. Murray, 

MuBSAr — [With a straight glance at her which is 
10 frankly admiring that she flushes and drops her 
fi/ca.] I'm glad to meet you. [The front door is 
opened and Nicholls re-appears, shivering with the 
cold. He stares over at the others with Sl-concealed 
irritation,] 

Caemodv — [Noticing him — with malicious satis- 
'iiction.] Oho, here you are again. [NiCHOti-a 
■■f^Tiils and turns away. Caemody addresses his 
■'fu^hter with a sly wink at Mueeay.] I thought 
Trpd was slidin' down hill to the train with his head 
'ire to the frost, and him so desperate hurried to 
,'( away from here. Look at the knees on him 
■ippin' together with the cold, and with the great 
ir that's in him hell be catchin' a sickness in this 
'ire! [NicHoi-Ls, his guilty conscience stabbed to 
'<: quick, turns pale with impotent rage.] 



40 THE STRAW ! 

Eileen — {^Remonstrating pitiffd[gi'\ Father! -^ 
Please! {She hurries over to NichoUs.'] Oh, please ^ 
don't mind him, Fred! You know what he is when -i 
he's drinking. He doesn't mean a word he's saying. - 

NicHOLLs — [Thickly.] That's all right — ^for . 
you to say. But. I won't forget — ^I'm sick and tired i 
standing for — ^I'm not used to — such people. 

EiiiEEN — {Shrinking from Aim.] Fred! 

NiCHOLLs — {With a furiotus glance at Mueeay.] 
Before that cheap slob, too — ^letting him know er- ' 
ery thing! r 

Eileen — {Faintly."] He seems — ^very nice. 

NiCHOLLs — ^You've got your eyes set on him al-^ 
ready, have you? Leave it to you! No fear of 
your not having a good time of it out here ! 

Eileen — ^Fred ! 

NiCHOLLs — ^Well, go ahead if you want to. I 

don't care. Ill {Startled by the look of ainr 

guish which comes over her face^ he hastily swaUowi 
his words. He takes out watch — fiercely.] WeTl 
miss that train, damn it ! 

Eileen — {In a stricken tone.] Oh, Fred! [Tfcwi 
forcing back her tears she calls to Cabmodt fti tf 
strained voice.] Father! You'll have to go now. 
Miss Gilpin said to tell you you'd have to go ri^t 
away to make the train. 

Caemody — {Shaking hands with Mueeay.] M 
be goin'. Keep your eye on her. I'll be out soon to 
see her and you and me'U have another chin. 

Mueeay — Glad to. Good-bye for the presentt 



THE STRAW 41 

[He walks to windows on the far right, turmng h*» 
back considerately on their leave-taking.^ 

En^EN — [Comes to Cakmody aiid hangs on hit 
arm as they proceed to the door-l Be sure and kiss 
them all for me — Billy and Tom and Nora and little 
Mary — and bring them out to see me as soon as you 
can, father, please ! And you come often, too, won't 
you? And don't forget to tell Mrs. Brcnnan all the 
directions I gave you coming out on the train, I 
told her but she mightn't remember — about Mary's 
bath — and to give Tom his 

Cakmody — [Impatiently.'] Hasn't she brought 
up brats of her own, and doesn't she know the way 
of it? Don't be worryin' now, like a fool, 

Eileen — [Helples»ly.'\ Never mind telling her, 
then, I'll write to her. 

Cahmody — ^You'd better not. Leave her alone. 
She'll not wish you mixin' in with her work and tellin' 
her how to do it. 

Eileen- — [Aghast.^ Her work! [She seems at 
the end of her tether — wrung too dry for any fur- 
ther emotion. She kisses her father at the door with 
indifference and speaks calmly.] Good-bye, father. 

Carmody^ — [In a whining tone of injury.] A cold 
kiss! And never a small tear out of her! Is your 
heart a stone? [Drunken tears well from his eyes 
and he hlubhers.] And your own father going back 
to a lone house with a stranger in it! 

Eileen- — [Wear^y in a dead voice.] You'll miss 
your train, father 



1 



Casmodt — [Raging in a tecond.'] I'm off, tha 
Come on, Fred. It's no welcome we have with fc 
here in this place — and a great curse on this day 
brought her to it! '[He stamps out.^ 

Eileen — [In the same dead tone.'[ Good-bj 
Fred. 

NicHoLLs — [Repenting his words of a • 
ago — confnsedl^.^ I'm sorry, Eileen — for what 
said. I didn't mean — you know what your fath 
is — excuse me, won't you? 

Eileen — [Without feeHng."] Yes. 

NicHOLLs — And I'll be out soon — in a week if 
can make it. Well then, — good-bye for the pr 
ent. [He bends down as if to kiss her but she shrit 
back out of his reach.l 

Eileen — [A faint trace of mockery in her weat 
voice.l No, Fred, Remember you mustn't now. 

NicHOLLs — [In an instant huff.] Oh, if that 

the way you feel about [He strides out i 

slams the door viciously behind him, Eileen wc 
slowly back toward the fireplace, her face fixed i 
dead calm of despair. As she sinks into one of i 
armchairs, the strain becomes too much. She breo 
down, hiding her face in her hands, her frail shoi 
ders heaving with the violence of her sobs. At tl 
sound, McERAT turns from the windows arid con 
over near her chair.] 

Ml'bray — [After watching her for a vwment-^ 
an embarrassed tone of sympathy.] Come on, M 
Carmody, that'll never do. I know it's hard at fi 




THE STRAW 43 

^but — ^getting yourself all worked up is bad for 
you. You'll run a temperature and then they'll 
keep you in bed — which isn't pleasant. Take hold 
of yourself ! It isn't so bad up here — really — once 
you get used to it! [The shame she feelt at giving 
■way in the presence of a stranger ordy adds to her 
loss of control and she sobs heartbrokenly. Mur- 
ray walks up and down nervously, visibly nonplussed 
and upset. Finally he hits upon something.~\ One 
of the nurses will be in any minute. You don't want 
them to see you like this. 

Eileen — [Chokes back her sobs and finally raises 
her face and attempts a smile.^ I'm sorry — to make 
such a sight of myself. I just couldn't help it. 

Mkrbat — [^J ocularly.'] Well, they say a good 
cry does you a lot of good. 

Eii^EN — [Forcing a smile.] I do feel — ^better. 

Murray — [Staring at her with a quissical smile 

— cj/mcally.] You shouldn't take those lovers' 

squabbles so seriously. Tomorrow he'll be sorry — 

you'll be sorry. He'll write begging forgiveness — 

joull do ditto. Result — all serene again. 

^^mEn.EE'S'—[A shadow of pain on her face — with 

^^k/nity.] Don't — please. 

^^PMdhbay — [Angry at himself — hanging his head 
contritely.] I'm a fool. Pardon me. I'm rude 
sometimes — before I know it, [He shakes off his 
mfusion with a renewed attempt at a joking tone.] 
bu can blame your father for any breaks I make. 



THE STRAW 



■to 



He made me your guardian, jou know — told i 
Bee that you behaved. 

Eileen — [Tri(A a gemiine smile.'] Oh, fatherl 
[Flushing.'] You mustn't mind anything he said 
tonight. 

McERAY — [Thouglitlesaly-I Yes, he was well lit 
up, I envied him, [Eileen looks very shame-facedt 
MuERAT sees it and exclaims in exasperation at him- 
self. 1 Dam! There I go again putting my foot in 
it! [^With an irrepressible grin.] I ought to have 
my tongue operated on— that's what's the matteB 
with me, [He laughs and throws himself in a chair 

Eileen — [Forced in spite of herself to smUe with 
him.] You're candid, at any rate, Mr. Murray. 

MoKRAY — Don't misunderstand me. Far be it 
from me to cast slurs at your father's high spirits. 
I said I envied him his jag and that's the truth. The 
same candor compels me to confess that I was pickled 
to the gills myself when I arrived here, Factl 
made love to all the nurses and generally disgraced 
myself^and had a wonderful time. 

EiiEEN — I suppose it does make you forget your 
troubles — for a while, 

MoRRAT — [Wavivg this aside.] I didn't want ts 
forget — not for a second, I wasn't drowning mj 
sorrow. I was hilariously celebrating. 

Eileen^ — [Astonished — by this time quite tntet 
eited in this queer fellow to the momentary forget*, 
fulness of her own grief.] Celebrating — ct 
here? But— aren't you sick? 



THE STRAW 45 

McBRAY — T. B.? Yes, of course. [Confiden- 
tiaUif.] But it's only a matter of time when I'll be 
all right again. I hope it won't be too soon. I was 
dying for a rest — a good, long rest with time to 
think about things. I'm due to get what I wanted 
Here. That's why I celebrated. 

Eileen — [TFifft zeide eyes.^ I wonder if you 
really mean 

MuEKAY — What I've been sayin'? I sure do — 
every word of it ! 

Eileen — [^Puzzled.^ I can't understand how 
anyone could— — - [WifA a worried glance over her 
gkovlder.^ I think Td better look for Miss Gilpin, 

hadn't I? She may wonder [She half rises 

from her chair-J 

MuKRAT — [Quickly.'] No. Please don't go yet. 
Sit down. Please do. [She glances at him irreso- 
lutely, then resumes her chair.] Thcyll give you 
your diet of milk and shoo you off to bed on that 
freezing porch soon enough, don't worry. I'll see 
to it that you don't fracture any rules. [Hitching 
his chair nearer hers, — impidaively.] In all charity 
to me you've got to stick awhile. I baven't had a 
chance to really talk to a soul for a week. You 
found what I said a while ago bard lo believe, didn't 
you? 

Eileen — [With a smUe.] Isn't it? You said you 
hoped you wouldn't get well too soon ! 

MtTERAY — And I meant it ! This place is hon- 

tly like heaven to me — a lonely heaven till your 



49 



THE STRAW 



arrival, [Eileen looki embarratned.ll And wl^ 
wouldn't it beP I've no fear for my health — even 
tually. Just let me tell jou what I was gettin 

away from \^Witk a sudden laugh fvXl of i 

xeeary hittcmesi.^ Do you know what it means t 
work from seven at night till three in the momin, 
as a reporter on a morning newspaper in a town oj 
twenty thousand people — for ten years? No. Yoa 
don't. Vou can't. No one could who hadn't I 
through the mill. But what it did to me- 
me happy — yes, happy! — to get out here — ^T. 
and all, notwithstanding. 

EiLEEK — [^Looking at him curiously.'] But I al* 
ways thought being a reporter was so interestingi 

MuBRAY — l^With a cynical laugk.^ Interesting? 
On a small town rag? A month of it, perhaps, wha 
you're a kid and new to the game. But ten years, 
Think of it ! With only a raise of a couple of dol 
lars every blue moon or so, and a weekly spree c 
Saturday night to vary the monotony. [He laugh 
again.] Interesting, ehP Getting the dope on th* 
Social of the Queen Esther Circle in the basement a 
the Methodist Episcopal Churcb, unable to sle^ 
through a meeting of the Common Council on ao 
count of the noisy oratory caused by John Smith' 
application for a permit to build a house; makinj 
a note that a tug boat towed two barges loaded witi 
coal up the river, that Mrs. Perkins spent a i 
end with relatives in Hickville, that John Jones— 
Oh help! Why go on? Ten years of it! I'm 



THE STRAW 47 

l^rolcen man. God, how I used to pray that our 
Congressman 'would commit suicide, or the Major 
murder his wife — just to be able to write a real 
story ! 

Eileen — [ir»(A a smUe.^ Is it as bad as that? 
But weren't there other tilings in the town — outside 
your work— that were interesting? 

MiTBBAT — [Decidedly.'\ Nope. Never anything 
new — and I knew everyone and everything in town 
by heart years ago. [With sudden bittemes3.'\ 
Oh, it was my own fault. Why didn't I get out of it? 
Well, I didn't, I was always going to— tomorrow — 
and tomorrow never came. I got in a rut — and 
stayed put. People seem to get that way, somehow 
— ^in that town. It's in the air. All the boys I 
grew up with — nearly all, at least — took root in the 
same way. It took pleurisy, followed by T. B., to 
blast me loose. 

Eheen — [Wandermgly.'l But — your family — 
didn't they live there? 

MuERAY — I haven't much of a family left. My 
mother died when I was a kid. My father — he was 
a lawyer — died when I was nineteen, just about to 
go to coUege. He left nothing, so I went to work 
on the paper instead. And there I've been ever 
since. I've two sisters, respectably married and 
living in another part of the state. We don't get 
along — ^but they are paying for me here, so I sup- 
pose Pve no kick. \^CynicaUy.'] A family wouldn't 
have changed things. From what I've seen that 



48 THE STRAW 

blood-thicker-tb an- water dope is all wrong. ] 
tliinner limn table-d'ln'ite soup. You may have 6 
a bit of that truth in jour own case already. 

Eileen — \^Shockcd.^ How can you say that 
You don't know 

MuHRAY— Don't I, though? Wait till youVebei 
here tliree months or four — when the gap you Id 
has been comfortably filled. You'll see then ! 

£u.EEN — l^Angrily, her lips trembling.^ Yo 
must be crazy to say such things! [Fighting hoc 
her tears.^ Oh, I think it's hateful — when you a 
how badly I feel! 

MuBBAY — [In acute confusion. Stammering. 
Look here, Miss Carmody, I didn't mean to- 
Listen — -don't feci mad at me, please. My tonga 
ran away with me. I was only talking. I'm Vik 
that. You mustn't take it seriously. 

Eileen — [Still resentfitl.] I don't see how yo 
can talk. You don't — you can't know about the 
things — when you've just said you had no family o 
your own, really. 

McKHAY — [Eager to return to her good graces^\ 
No. Of course I don't know. I was just talkin 
regardless for the fun of listening to it. 

'E.iLzs.V!— [After a pajwe.] Hasn't either of 3 
sisters any children? 

MuBRAY— One of them has — two of them — u^; 
squally little brats. 

ErLEEN — [Disapprovmgly.l You don't like I 
bies? 



THE STRAW 49 

MussAT — [Bluntli/.^ No, IThen with a grin 
at her shocked face.] I don't get ttiem. They're 
sometlung I can't seem to get acquainted with. 

Eileen — \^With a smile, indulgently.] You're a 
tunny person. \^Then with a superior motherly air.] 
No wonder you couldn't understand how badly I 
feel. [TrifA a tender smUe.] I've four of them — 
my brothers and sisters — though tliey're not what 
you'd call babies, except to me. Billy is fourteen, 
Nora eleven, Tom ten, and even little Mary is eight. 
Pve been a mother to them now for a whole year — 
ever since our mother died. [Sadh/.] And I don't 
know how they'll ever get along while I'm away. 

Murray — [Cynically.~\ Oh, they'll [He 

checks what he zeas going to say and adds lamely] 
get along somehow, 

Eileen — [IFiift the same superior tone.] It's 
easy for you to say that. You don't know how 
children grow to depend on you for everything. 
You're not a woman. 

MtiRRAT — [TTif/i a grin.] Are you? [Then 
tnth a chw;kle,] You're as old as the pyramids, 
aren't you? I feel like a little boy. Won't you 
adopt me, too? 

Eileen — [Flushing, with a shy smUe.] Someone 

n ought to, [Quickly changing the subject.] Do you 

know, I can't get over what you said about hating 

your work so. I should think it would be wonderful 

— to be able to write things. 

MuRBAT — My job had nothing to do with writing. 



1 



80 THE STRAW 

To write — really write — yes, that's something wort 
trying for. That's what I've always meant to hart 
a stab at. I've run across ideas enough for storieil 
— that sounded good to me, anyway. [TVif/i a force 
laugh.'] But — like everything else — I never , 
down to it. I started one or two — ^but — either : 

thought I didn't have the time or [^He ahn 

his shouldert.] 

Eileen — Well, youVe plenty of time now, haved 
yon? 

MrEEAY — [Inftantly struck by this suggestion. 

You mean I could write — up here? [Sfc^ noA 

His face lights up with enthusiasm.] Say! That i 
an idea! Thank you! I'd never have had seni 
enough to have thought of that myself. [En 
flushes with pleasure.] Sure there's time — nothing 
but time up here 

Eileen — Then you seriously think you'll try il 

MuERAY — [Determinedly.] Yes. Why not? I* 
got to try and do something real sometime, haven' 
I? I've no excuse not to, now. My mind isn't sicli 

Eileen — [Excitedly.] That'll be wonderful! 

MuEEAV — [Confidently.] Listen. I've had ideei^ 
for a series of short stories for the last couple of I 
years — small town experiences, some of them actual. | 
I know that life — too dam well. I ought to be able 
to write about it. And if I can sell one — to the 
Post, say — I'm sure they'd take the others, too. And 
then I should worry! It'd be easy sailing. 



THE STRAW 



51 



But yoo must promise to help — play critic for me 
— read them and tell me where they're rotten. 
F.iT.ppTj — \^Pleased but protesting.^ Oh, no, I'd 

never dare. I don't know anything 

Mu&ttAT^ — ^Yes, you do. You're the public. And 
you started me off on this thing — if I'm really 
starting at last. So you've got to back me up now. 
\_Siiddenly.'\ Say, I wonder if they'd let me have a 
typewriter up here? > 

Eileen — It'd be fine if they would. I'd like to 
have one, too — to practice. I learned stenography 
at business college and then I had a position lor a 
year — ^before my mother died. 

McBBAY — We could hire one — ^I could. I don't 
Bee why they wouldn't allow it. I'm to be sent to one 
of tlie men's sliacks within tlie next few days, and 
joull be shipped to one of the women's cottages 
within ten d vs. You're not sick enough to be kept 
here in bed, x'm sure of that. 

Eileen — I I don't know 

Muebay — Here! None of that! You just think 
^^ jou're not and you won't be. Say, I'm teen on that 
^■^^writer idea. They couldn't kick if we only 
^^Ked it during recreation periods. I could have it 
^^Vireek, and then you a week. 

 I Eileen — [£agerZy.] And I could type your 
stories after you've written them ! I could help that 
»ay. 

caBAT — \^Smiling.'\ But I'm quite able 

■en seeing how interested she is he adds hur- 




6S 



THE STRAW 



riedl^.'} That'd be great ! It'd save so much ti 
I've always been a bum at a machine. And I'd 

willing to paj whatever [Miss Gilfin entt 

from the rear and walks toward them.^ 

Eileen — {^Quickly.'] Oh, no! I'd be glad 

get the practice. I wouldn't accept [. 

coughs slightly.'] 

MuEBAY — [With a laugh.] Majbe, after you' 
read my stuff, you won't type it at any price, 
s- Miss Gilpin — Miss Carmody, may I speak to ji 
for a moment, please. [She takes Eileen aside at 
talks to her in low tones of admonition. Eel] 
face falls. She nods a horrified acquiescence. 
Gilpin leaves her and goes into the office, reor.] 

MuBRAr — [At EUecn comes back. I^oticmg i 
perturbation. Kindly,] Well? Now, what's tl 
trouble? 

EiiJiEN — [Her lips trejnbling.] She told 
mustn't forget to shield my mouth with my handkf 
chief when I cough. 

MuBRAr — [CoTisolingly.] Yes, that'8 one of 
rules, you tnow. 

Eileen — ^F altering} y.] She said they'd give 

— a — cup to carry around [She stops, shu 

dermg. ] 

MuBBAT — [Easili/.] It's not as horrible aa 
sounds. They're only little paste-board things J 
carry in your pocket. 

Eileen — [As if speaking to herself.] It's so hi 
rible. [She holds out her liand to Mubeay.] 1 



THE STRAW 68 

to go to my room now. Grood night, Mr. Murray. 
MusBAT — [^Holding her hand for a moment — 
eamestltf.] Don't mind your first impressions here. 
You'll look on everything as a matter of course in 
a few days. I felt your way at first. [^He drops 
her hand and shakes his finger at her.'] Mind your 
guardian, now! [She forces a trembling smile. ] 
See you at breakfast. Good night. [Eileen goes 
out to the hall in rear. Miss Howasd comes in from 
the door just after her, carrying a glass of milk.] 
Miss HowAsn — ^Almost bedtime, Mr. Murray. 
L Here's your diet. \^He takes the glass. She smiles 
at him provokingly.] Well, is it love at first sight, 
Mr. Murray? 

MuEEAT — [With a grin.] Sure thing! You can 
consider yourself heartlessly jilted. [He turns and 
raises his glass toward the door through which 
Eileen has jv^t gone, as if toasting her.] 
^*A glass of milk, and thou 

Coughing beside me in the wilderness 

Ah ^wilderness were Paradise enow!" 

[He takes a sip of mUk.] 

Miss HowAED — [Peevishly.] That's old stufi^, 
I Mr. Murray. A patient at Saranac wrote that par- 
ody. 

MuEEAY — [Maliciously.,] Aha, you've discovered 
. it's a parody, have you, you sly minx! [Miss How- 
p- AKj) turns from him huffily and walks back towards 
f ^he office, her chin in the air.] 
f [The Curtain Falls] 



Acrn 



ACT II 



SCENE ONE 

iHK — The assembly room of the mam buSding of 
the sanatorium — early in the morning of a fine 
t in Jwne, four months later. The room « 
large, light and airy, painted a fresh white. 
On the left forward, an armchair. Farther 
back, a door opening on the main hall. To the 
rear of this door a pianola on a raised plat- 
form. In back of the pianola, a door leading 
into the office. In the rear waU, a long series 
of French windows looking out on the lawn, 
TCith wooded hiUs in the far background. 
Shrvhs in flower grow immediately outside the 
windows. Inside, there is a row of potted 
plants. In the right wall, rear, four windows. 
Farther forward, a long, well-filled bookcase, 
and a doorway leading into the dining room. 
Following the walls, but about five feet out from 
them a stiff Ivneof chairs placed closely against 
each other forms a sort of right-angled audit- 
orium of which the large, square table that 
stands at center, forward, would seem to be the 
atage. 

57 



THE STRAW 

From the dining room comet the clatter of 
diihes, the confused murmur of many voiceif 
male and female— all the mingled aowndt of 
crowd of people at a meal. 

After the curtain rtset, DocToa Stavtom 

enters from the hall, followed by a visitor. Me. 

Sloan, and the assistant physician, Docto* 

SiMMS. Doctor Stanton is a handsome 

of forty-five or so with a grave, care-lined, 

studious face lightened by a kindly, humorotU 

smile. His gray eyes, saddened by the suffi 

ing they have witnessed, have the sympathetii 

quality of real ^understanding. The look tht\ 

give is full of companionship, the courage-r 

newing, human companionship of a hope whi< 

is shared. He speaks with a slight Souther 

accent, soft and slurring. Doctoe Simms m 

taU, angular young man with a long, saUoi 

face and a sheepish, self-conscious grin. Mi 

Sloan is fifty, short and stout, weU dressed- 

one of the successful business Tnen •whose e 

dowments have made the HtU Farm a poti 

bUittf, 

Stanton — [^As they enter.'] This is what y( 

might call the general assembly room, Mr. Sloan- 

whero the patients of both seses are allowed to co 

gTGgate together after meals, for diets, and in tlj 

evening. 

Sloan — ILooking around him.'] ConldnH 
more pleasant, I must say — light and airy, [fl 



walkt where he can take a peep into the dining 
T00m.~l Ah, they're all at breakfast, I see. 

Stanton — {^Smiling.] Yos, and with no lack of 
appetite, let me tell you. [With a laugh of proud 
satisfaction.'] They'd sure eat us out of house and 
home at one sitting, if we'd give Uiem the oppor- 
tunity. [To his assistant.'] Wouldn't they. Doc- 
tor? 

SiuMS — [With his abashed grin.] You bet they 
Would, sir. 

Sloan — [With a sviile.] That's fine. [With a 
nod toward the dining room.'] The ones in there are 
tlie sure cures, aren't theyp 

Stantqn — [A shadow coming over his face.^ 
Strictly spealting, there are no sure cures in this 
•feease, Mr. Sloan. When we permit a patient to 
ittum to take up his or her activities in the world, 
the patient is what we call an arrested case. The 
disease is overcome, quiescent; the wound is healed 
over. It's then up to the patient to so take care 
of himself that this condition remains permanent. 
It isn't hard for them to do this, usually. Just or- 
dinary, bull-headed common sense— added to what 
they've learned here — is enough for their safety. 
And the precautions we teach them to take don't 
diminish their social usefulness in the slightest, 
either, as I can prove by our statistics of former 
patients. [TTiife a smUc] It's rather early in the 
morning for statistics, though. 

Mk. Sloan — [With a wave of the hand.] Oh, 




60 THE STRAW 

you needn't. Your reputation in that respecl:. Doc- 
tor^— [Stanton inclines his head in achund' 
edgment. Sloan jerks his thumb toward the dining 
roomS\ But the ones in there are getting well^ 
aren't they? 

Stanton — To all appearances, yes. You don't 
dare swear to it, though. Sometimes, just when a 
case looks most favorably, there's a sudden, un* 
foreseen breakdown and they have to be sent back 
to bed, or, if it's very serious, back to the Infirmary 
again. These are the exceptions, however, not the 
rule. You can bank on most of those eaters being 
out in the world and usefully employed within six 
months. 

Sloan — ^You couldn't say more than that. [Jb- 
ruptly,"] But — the imfortunate ones— do you have 
many deaths ? 

Stanton — [With a frown."] No. We're under 
a very hard, almost cruel imperative which prevents 
that. If, at the end of six months, a case shows no 
response to treatment, continues to go down hill — 
if, in a word, it seems hopeless — we send them away, 
to one of the State Farms if they have no private 
means. [Apologetically,'] You see, this sanatorium 
is overcrowded and has a long waiting list most of 
the time of others who demand their chance for life. 
We have to make places for them. We have no 
time to waste on incurables. There are other places 
for them — and sometimes, too, a change is beneficial 
and they pick up in new surroundings. You never 



•j 



THE STRAW 61 

can tdL But we're bound by the rule. It may seem 
cmd — but it's as near justice to all concerned as 
we can come. 

Sloan — \^Soherly.'\ I see. [His eye$ fall on the 
ptofioJa — in surprise.'\ Ah — a piano. 

Stanton — [Replying to the other's thought,"] 
Yes, the patients play and sing. [With a smUe.] 
If you'd call the noise they make by those terms. 
They'd dance, too, if we permitted it. There's only 
one song taboo — ^Home, Sweet Home. We forbid 
that — ^for obvious reasons. 

Sloan — ^I see* [With a final look aroimd.'] Did 
I understand you to say this is the only place where 
the sexes are permitted to mingle? 
Stanton — ^Yes, sir. 

Sloan — [With a STnUe."] Not much chance for a 
love affair, then. 

Stanton — [Seriously,"] We do our best to pre- 
vent them. We even have a strict rule which allows 
us to step in and put a stop to any intimacy which 
grows beyond the casual. People up here, Mr. 
Sloan, are expected to put aside all ideas except the 
one — ^getting well. 

Sloan — [Somewhat embarrassed.] A danm good 
rule, too, I should say, imder the circumstances. 

Stanton — [With a laugh.] Yes, we're strictly 
anti-Cupid, sir, from top to bottom. [Turning to 
the door to the hall.] And now, if you don't mind, 
Mr. Sloan, I'm going to turn you footloose to wander 
about the grounds on an unconducted tour. Today 



THE ST 

is my busy morning — Saturday. We weigh ead 
patient immediately after breakfast. 

Sloan — Every week? 

Stanton — Every Saturday, You see we depi 
on fluctuations in weight to tell us a lot about t 
patient's condition. If they gain, or stay at nonnaf 
all's usually well. If they lose week after week v 
out any reason we can definitely point to, we kec 
careful watch. It's a sign that something's wrong* 
We're forewarned by it and on our guard. 

Sloan— [H't//t a smUe.l Well, I'm certain 
learning things. [He tumi to the door.'] And yo^ 
just shoo me ofF wherever you please and go on wit! 
the good work. I'll be glad of a ramble in the opt 
on such a glorious morning. 

STANTON^After the weighing is over, sir, I'll b 
free to — — [His words are lost as the three go out, 
A -moment later, Eileen enters from the dining room. 
She has grown stouter, her face has more of i 
healthy, out-of-door color, but there is stUl abovi 
her the s\tggestion of being worn down by a burdA 
too oppressive for her courage. She is dressed  
shirtwaist and dark skirt. She goes to the armchaili 
left forward, and sinks down on it. She is evidentlm 
in a state of nervous depression; she twists her ^**1 
gers together in her lap; her eyes stare sadly befonm 
her; she clenches lier upper lip with her teeth to pre- 
vent its trembling. She has hardly regained con- 
trol over herself when Stephen Murkat comes in 
hurriedly from the dining room and, seeing her al 



THE STHAW 68 

his first glance, walks quicMy over to her chair. He 
it the picture of health, his figure hag filled out tol- 
idly, his taji/ned face beams with suppressed andta- 
tion,] 

MuKBAT — l^Excitedly.'] Eileen! I saw you leave 
your table. I've something to tell you. I didn't get 
» chance last night after the mail came. You'd 
gone to the cottage. Just listen, Eileen — it's too 
good to be true — but on that mail — guess what? 

EaEEN — [Forgetting her depression—with an ex- 
cited smile.^ I know ! You've sold your story ! 

McHRAT — [Triumphantly.'] Go to the head of 
the class. What d'you know about that for luck! 
My first, too— and only the third magazine I sent 
it to! [He cuts a joyful caper.] 

Eileen — [Happily.] Isn't that wonderful, 
Stephen! But I knew all tlie time you would. The 
story's so good. 

MuEEAY — Well, you might have known but I 
didn't think there was a chance in the world. And 

as for being good [With superior air] 

wait till I turn loose with the real big ones, the 
kind I'm going to write. Then I'll make them sit up 
and take notice. They can't stop me now. This 
money gives me a chance to sit back and do what I 
please for a while. And I haven't told you the best 
part. The editor wrote saying how much he liked 
le yam and asked me for more of the same kind. 
iSiLEEN — ^And you've the three others about the 




64 



THE STRAW 



same person — jusl as good, tool Why, you'll sdl 
them all! \^She claps her hands delightedly.^ 

McKBAY — And I can send them out right away^ 
They're all typed, thanks to you. That's whatl 
brought me luck, I know. I never had a bit by my- 
self. [Then, after a quick glance around to makl 
sure they are alone, he bends doum and kisses her. 
There ! A token of gratitude — even if it is againi 
the rules. 

Eileen — [Flushing — with timid happiness.^ St< 
phen ! You mustn't ! They'll see. 

MuBKAT — [Boldli/.^ Let them! 

Eileen — But you know— they've warned 
against being so much together, already. 

Murray — Let them ! We'll be out of this priso 
soon. [Eileen sluikes her head sadly hut he dot 
not notice.^ Oh, I wish you could leave when I c 
We'd have some celebration together. 

En^EN — [Her lips trembling.'] I was thi 
last night — that you'd soon be going away. Yo 
look so well. Do you think — they'll let you { 
soonP 

MuBEAY — You bet I do. I'm bound to go noi 
It's ridiculous keeping me here when I'm as health 
as a pig. I caught Stanton in the hall last nigl 
and asked him if I could go. 

Eileen — [Ainriously.'\ What did he say? 

McRRAY— He only smiled and said; "We'll si 
if you gain weight tomorrow." As if that mattere 
now ! Why, I'm way above normal as it is ! Bt 




THE STRAW 65 

you know Stanton — always putting you off. But I 
could tell by the way he said it he'd be willing to 

con aider 

Eiij;en — [^Slowly.~\ Then — if you gain to- 
day 

McEEAY — He'll let me go. Yes, I know he will. 
I'm going to insist on it. 

En-EEN^Then — you'll leave— — -? 
MuKBAY — Right away. The minute I can get 
packed, 

Enxzn — {^Tryinff to force a smUe.l Oh, I'm so 
glad — ^for your sake; but — I'm selfish — itil be so 
Llonely here without you, 

Mdesat — [Consolinglif.'] You'll be going away 
rourself before long, [Eileen shakes her head. He 
loes on Ttnthout noticing, wrapped in his own suc- 
■£0v*,] Oh, Eileen, you can't imagine all it opens up 
for me — selling that story, I don't have to go back 
home to stagnate. I can go straight to New York, 
and live, and meet real people who are doing things. 
I can take my time, and try and do the work I hope 
to. [^Feelingly. 1 You don't know how grateful I 
am to you, Eileen — how you've helped me. Oh, I 
don't mean just the typing, I mean your encourage- 
ment, your faith! I'd never have had guts enough 
to stick to it myself. The stories would never have 
been written if it hadn't been for you. 

Eileen — [CAoAingr back a «o&,] I didn't do — 
BBything, 
 MtrEftAT — [Staring down, at her- — -with rough 



66 THE STRAW 

kindliness,'] Here, here, that'll never do! You're 
not weeping about it, are you, silly? [^He pats her 
on the shovlderJ] What's the matter, Eileen? You 
didn't eat a thing this morning. I was watching you. 
[With kindly severity,'] That's no way to gain 
weight, you know. You'll have to feed up. Do you 
hear what your guardian commands, eh? 

Eileen — [With dull hopelessness.] I know III 
lose again. I've been losing steadily the past three 
weeks. 

Murray — ^Here ! Don't you dare talk that way ! 
I won't stand for it. Why, you've been picking up 
wonderfully — ^until just lately. You've made such 
a game fight for four months. Even the old Doc 
has told you how much he admired your pluck, and 
how much better you were getting. You're not go- 
ing to quit now, are you? 

Eileen — [Despairingly.] Oh, I don't care! I 
don't care — ^now. 

Murray — Now? What do you mean by that? 
What's happened to make things any different? 

Eileen — [Evasively.] Oh — nothing. Don't ask 
me, Stephen. 

Murray — [With sudden anger.] I don't have to 
ask you. I can guess. Another letter from home — 
or from that ass, eh? 

Eileen — [Shaking her head.] No, it isn't that. 
[She looks at him as if imploring him to compre- 
hend.] 

Murray — [Furiously.] Of course, you'd deny 



THE STRAW 67 

it. You always do. But don't you suppose IVe got 
eyes? It's been the same damn thing all the time 
you've been here. After every nagging letter — 
thank God they don't write often any more! — 
you've been all in; and after their Sunday visits — 
you can thank Grod they've been few, too — ^you're 
utterly knocked out. It's a shame! The selfish 
swine! 

Eileen — Stephen ! 

MuBEAY — {Relentlessly S\ Don't be sentimental, 
Eileen. You know it's true. From what you've told 
me of their letters, their visits,-*-f rom what I've seen 
and suspected — ^they've done nothing but worry and 
torment you and do their best to keep you from get- 
ting well. 

Eileen — [Faintly,'] You're not fair, Stephen. 

MuREAY — Rot ! When it isn't your father grum- 
bling about expense, it's the kids, or that stupid 
housekeeper, or that slick Aleck, NichoUs, with his 
cowardly lies. Which is it this time? 

Eileen — {Pitifully,'] None of them. 

Murray — {Explosively.] But him, especially — 
the dirty cad I Oh, I've got a rich notion to pay a 
call on that gentleman when I leave and tell him what 
I think of him. 

Eileen — {Qmckly,] No — ^you mustn't ever! 

He's not to blame. If you knew {STie stops, 

lowering her eyes in confibsion,] 

Murray — {Roughly,] Knew what? You make 
me sick, Eileen — always finding excuses for him. I 



\ 



68 THE STRAW 

never could understand what a girl like you coul< 

see But what's the use? I've said all this be 

fore. You're wasting yourself on a [Ruddy, 

Love must be blind. And yet you say you don't lov 
him, really? 

Eileen — [Shaking her head — helplessly.'] But ] 
do — ^like Fred. We've been good friends so man] 
years. I don't want to hurt him — ^his pride 

Murray — That's the same as answering no to mj 
question. Then, if you don't love him, why don'1 

you write and tell him to go to break it offi 

[Eileen bows her head but doesn*t reply. Irritated 
Murray continues brutally.'] Are you afraid i' 
would break his heart? Don't be a fool! The onb 
way you could do that would be to deprive him o: 
his meals. 

Eileen — [Springing to her feet — distractedly/ 
Please stop, Stephen! You're cruel! And you'v< 
been so kind — the only real friend I've had up here 
Don't spoil it all now. 

Murray — {Remorsefully.] I'm sorry, Eileen. I 
was only talking. I won't say another word. {Irri- 
tably.] Still, someone ought to say or do something 
to put a stop to 

Eileen — {With a broken laugh.] Never mind. 
Everything will stop— soon, now ! 

Murray — {Suspiciously.] What do you mean? 

Eileen — {With an attempt at a careless tone,] 

Nothing. If you can't see {She turns to hm 

with sudden intensity.] Oh, Stephen, if you onlj 



THE STRAW 69 

knew how wrong you are about everything youVe 
said. It's all true; but it isnH that — any of it — 
guy more that's Oh, I can't tell you ! 

Mu&KAT — [TTfffc great interest. "l Please do, 
Eileen! 

EnuBEN — [With a helpless laugh."] No. 
[' MuBBAT — Please tell me what it is ! Let me help 

; you- 

Eileen— rNo. It wouldn't be any use, Stephen. 

MuRBAT — [Offended.] Why do you say that? 
, Haven't I helped before? 

Eileen — Yes — ^but this 

MuBBAT — Come now ! 'Fess up ! What is "this"? 

Eileen — No. I couldn't speak of it here, any- 
way. They'll all be coming out soon. 

MuBBAT — [Inststently] Then when? Where? 

Eileen — Oh, I don't know — ^perhaps never, no- 
where. I don't know Sometime before you 

leave, maybe. 

MuBBAT — But I may go tomorrow morning — ^if 
I gain weight and Stanton lets me. 

Eileen — [Sadly.] Yes, I was forgetting — you 
were going right away. [Dully.] Then nowhere, 
I suppose — ^never. [Glancmg toward the dining 
room.] They're all getting up. Let's not talk about 
it any more — ^now. 

MuBBAT — [Stubbornly.] But youll tell me la- 
ter, Eileen? You must. 

Eileen — [Vaguely J] Perhaps. It depends 

[The patients^ about forty in number^ straggle in 



70 THE STRAW 

from the dining room hy twos cmd threes^ chatting in 
low tones. The men and women with few exceptions 
separate into two groups, the women congregating 
in the left right angle of chairs , the men sitting or 
standing in the right right angle. In appeanmce, 
most of the patients are tarmed, healthy, and cheerful 
looking. The great majority are under middle age. 
Their clothes are of the cheap, ready-made variety. 
They are all distinctly of the wage-earning class. 
They might well he a crowd of cosmopolitan factory 
workers gathered together after a summer vacation. 
A hollow-chestedness and a tendency to rownd 
shoulders m^y he detected as a common characteris- 
tic. A general air of tension, marked hy frequent 
hursts of laughter in too high a key, seems to per- 
vade the throng, Murray and Eileen, as if to avoid 
contact with the others, come over to the right in 
front of the dinmg-room door."] 

Murray — J[In a low voiee."] Listen to them laugh* 
Did you ever notice — ^perhaps it's my imaginatioa 
• — ^how forced they act on Saturday mornings before 
they're weighed? 

Eileen — [^Dully.'] No. 

Murray — Can't you tell me that secret now? No 
one'll hear. 

Eileen — [^Vehemently.'] No, no, how could I? 
Don't speak of it ! \_A sudden silence falls on aU the 
groups at once. Their eyes, hy a common impulse, 
turn quickly toward the door to the haU.] 

A Woman — [Nervotisly — as if this moment*s »- 



THE STRAW 

lent pause oppressed her.J Play something, Peters, 
They ain't coming yet, [Peters, a stupid-looking 
young fellow with a sly, twisted simrh which gives 
him the appearance of perpetually winking his eye, 
detaches himself from a group on the right. All 
joirt in with urging exclamations: "Go on, Peters! 
Go to it! Pedal up, -Pete! Give us a rag! That's 
the hoy, Peters!" etc.^ 

PETERS^Sure, if I got time, [He goes to the 
pianola and puts in. a roll. The mingled conversa' 
iion and laughter hursts forth again as he sits on 
Ihc bench aW starts pedaling.] 
I MURRAY— [Disgustedly.] It's sure good to think 
have to listen to that old tin-pan heing 
banged mucli longer! [The music interrupts him — 
I juici rag. The patients brighten, hum, whistle, 
(■ay their heads or tap their feet in time to the tume. 
JOCTOB Stanton and Doctor Simms appear in the 
torway from the hall. All eyes are turned on them,] 
T Stakton — [Raising his voice.] They all seem to 
here, Doctor, We might as well start. [Mrs. 
TiNER, the matron, comes in behind them — a stout, 
capable-looking woman with grey hair. 
£ hears Stanton's remark.] 

Turner — ^And take temperatures after, 
? 

Stanton — Yes, Mrs. Turner. I think that's bet- 
ter today. 

;, ToENEE — ^All right. Doctor, [Stanton 
p attistant go out. Mrs. Tcbner advances a ati 



7« THE STRAW 

or so into the room and looks from one group of po- 
tients to the other, inclining her head and smSLmg 
benevolently. AU force smUes and nod in recogni- 
tion of her greeting.'' Peters, at the pianola, lets 
the music slow down, glancing questioningly at the 
matron to see if she is going to order it stopped. 
Then, encouraged by her smile^ his feet pedal harder 
than ever.'\ 

Murray — Look at old Mrs. Grundy's eyes pinned 
on us ! She'll accuse us of being too familiar again, 
the old wench ! 

Eileen — Ssshh. You're wrong. She's looking at 
me, not at us. 

Murray — ^At you? Why? 

Eileen — ^I ran a temperature yesterday. It must 
have been over a himdred last night. 

Murray — [With consoling scepticism.'\ You're 
always suffering for trouble, Eileen. How do you 
know you ran a temp? You didn't see the stick, I 
suppose? 

Eileen — No — but — ^I could tell. I felt feverish 
and chilly. It must have been way up. 

Murray — ^Bosh! If it was you'd have been sent 
to bed. 

Eileen — ^That's why she's looking at me. [Pit- 
eously."] Oh, I do hope I won't be sent back to bed! 
I don't know what I'd do. If I could only gain this 
morning. If my temp has only gone down ! [Hope' 

lessly.l But I feel I didn't sleep a wink— 

thinkini 



THE STRAW 78 

MuBRAY — [RougMy.'] You'll persuade yourself 
you've got leprosy in a second. Don't be a nut! 
It's all imagination, I tell you. Youll gain. Wait 
and see if you don't. [Eioleen shakes her head. A 
TnetaUic nimble and jangle comes from the hallway. 
Everyone turns in that direction with nervous ex- 
pectancy.'] 

Mbs. Tuenee — \_Admonishingly.] Mr. Peters! 

Petees — ^Yes, ma'am. [^He stops playing and re- 
joins the group of men on the right. In the midst 
of a silence broken only by hushed murmurs of conr 
versatiouy Doctoe Stanton appears in the hall 
doorway. He turns to help his assistant wheel in a 
Fairbanks scale on castors. They place the scale 
against the wall immediately to the rear of the door- 
way. DocTOE SiMMs adjusts it to a perfect bal- 
ance."] 

DocTOE Stanton — [Takes a pencil from his 
pocket and opens the record book he has in his 
hand.] All ready, Doctor? 

DocTOE SiMMs — Just a second, sir. \_A chorus of 
coughs comes from the impatient crowd, and hand- 
kerchiefs are hurriedly produced to shield mouths.] 

MuEEAY — [With a nervous smile.] Well, we're all 
set. Here's hoping! 

En-EEN — ^You'll gain, I'm sure you will. You 
look so well. 

MuERAY — Oh — I — I wasn't thinking of myself, 
I'm a sure thing. I was betting on you. I've sim- 
ply got to gain today, when so much depends on it. 



74 THE STRAW 

Eileen — ^Yes, I hope you JiShe fciien 

hrokerdy and turns away from Am.] 

Doctor Simms — [Straightening up,"] All ready, 
Doctor. 

Stanton — [Nods and glances at his hook — with- 
out raising his voice — distinctly.'] Mrs. Abner. \_A 
middle-aged woman comes and gets on the scale. 
Simms adjusts it to her weight of the previous week 
which Stanton reads to him from the book in a low 
voice, and weighs her.] 

MuERAY — [With a relieved sigh.] They're off. 
[Noticing Eileen's downcast head and air of de- 
jection.] Here! Buck up, Eileen! Old Lady 
Grundy's watching you— and it's your turn in a 
second. [Eileen raises her head and forces a fright- 
ened smile. Mrs. Abner gets down off the scale with 
a pleased grin. She has evidently gained. She rejoins 
the group of women, chattering volubly in low tones. 
Her exultant ''gained half a pound*^ can he heard. 
The other women smile their perfunctory congratur 
lations, their eyes absent-minded, intent on their own 
worries. Stanton writes down the weight in the 
boo A:.] 

Stanton — Miss Bailey. [A yotmg girl goes to 
the scales.] 

Murray — Bailey looks badly, doesn't she? 

Eileen — [Her lips trembling.] She's been los- 
ing, too. 

Murray — ^Well, you*re going to gain today. Re- 
member, now! 



THE STRAW 76 

Eileen — \^With a feeble smile.'] Ill try to obey 
your orders. [Miss Bailey gets down off the scales. 
Her eyes are full of despondency although she tries 
to make a hrave face of ity forcing a laugh as she 
joins the women. They stare at her with pitying 
looks and murmur consoling phrases,] 

EiiJBEN — She's lost again. Oh, I wish I didn't 
have to get weighed 

Stanton — Miss Carmody. [Eileen starts ner^ 
vously.] 

MuBSAY — [As she leaves Aim.] Remember now! 
Break the scales ! [She walks quickly to the scales^ 
trying to assume an air of defiant indifference. The 
balance stays down as she steps up. Eileen's face 
shows her despair at this. Simms weighs her and 
gifves the poundage in a low voice to Stanton. 
Eileen steps down mechanically, then hesitates as 
if not knowing where to turn, her anguished eyes 
flitting from one group to another.] 

MuBBAT — [Savagely.] Damn! [Doctor Stan- 
ton writes the figures in his book, glances sharply at 
Eileen, and then nods significantly to Mbs. Tubneb 
who is standing beside him.] 

Stanton — [Calling the next.] Miss Doeffler. 
[Another woman comes to be weighed.] 

Mbs. Tubneb — Miss Carmody! Will you come 
here a moment, please? 

Eileen — [Her face growing very pale.] Yes, 
Mrs. Turner. [The heads of the different groups 
bend together. Their eyes follow Eileen as they 



76 THE STRAW 

whisper. Mes. Tubneb leads her down froni, left 
hind them the weighing of the women cont\ 
briskly. The great majority have gained. Those 
have not have either remained stationary or It 
negligible fraction of a pownd. So, as the weig 
proceeds, the general air of smiling satisfaction 
among the groups of women. Some of them, thei 
deal over, go out through the hall doorway by 
and threes with suppressed laughter and cha 
As they pass behind Eileen they glance at her 
pitying curiosity. Doctob Stanton's voice is h 
at regular intervals callmg the names in alphabe 
order: Mrs. Elbing, Miss Finch, Miss Grimes, . 
Haines, Miss Hayes, Miss Jutner, Miss Linot 
Mrs. Marim, Mrs. McCoy, Miss McElroy, Miss 
son, Mrs. Nott, Mrs. O^Brien, Mrs. Olson, Miss 1 
Miss Petrovski, Mrs. Quin/n, Miss Robersi, . 
Staitler, Miss linger.'] 

Mrs. Tuenee — [^Putting her hand on Eele 
shoulder — kindly.] You're not looking so 
lately, my dear, do you know it? 

Eileen — [Bravely.] I feel — ^fine. \_Her eyei 
if looking for encouragement, seek Mueeay wl 
staring at her worriedly.] 

Mes. Tuenee — [^Gently.] You lost weight a^ 
you know. 

Eileen — ^I know — ^but 

Mes. Tuenee — This is the fourth week. 

Eileen — ^I I know it is 

Mes. Tuenee — I've been keeping my eye on 



THE STRAW 77 

You seem — worried. Are yoQ upset about — some- 
'iiing we don't know? 

Eileen — ^Quickly.} No, not I haven't slept 
:iuch lately. That must be it. 

Mbs. Tub NEK — Are you worrying about your 
rondition? Is that what keeps you awake? 

(Eileen — No. 
Me8. Turner — ^You're sure it's not that? 
En::£EN^ — ^Yes, I'm sure it's not, Mrs. Turner, 
Mrs. Turner — I was going to tell you if you 
'ere: Don't do it! You can't expect it to be all 
smooth sailing. Even the most favorable cases have 
lo expect these little setbacks. A few days' rest in 
l»jd will start you on the right trail again. 

Eileen — [/n anguish, although she has realized 
'^ii teas coming.^ Bed? Go back to bed? Oh, Mrs. 
Turner ! 

Mas, Turner — {^Gentli/.l Yes, my dear, Doctor 
Stanton thinks it best. So when you go back to 

vour cottage 

Eileen — Oh, please — not today — not right away ! 
Mrs. Tfrner — You had a temperature and a high 
pulse yesterday, didn't you realize it? And this 
morning you look quite feverish. [^She tries to put 
her hand on Eileen's forehead but the latter steps 
aieay defengvvely.'] 

Eileen — ^It's only — not sleeping last night. I 
was nervous. Oh, I'm sure it'll go away. 

Mrs. Turner — [Consolingly.^ When you lie 
still and have perfect rest, of course it will. 



78 THE STRAW 

Eileen — \_With a longing look over at Mukkay.] 
But not today — please, Mrs. Turner. 

Mrs. Tuenee — {Looking at her keenly,'] There 
is something upsetting you. You've something on 
your mind that you can't tell me, is that it? 
[Eileen maintains a stvhhom sUence.] But think 
— can^t you tell me? [With a kindly smile,'] Vm 
used to other people's troubles. I've been playing 
mother-confessor to the patients for years now, and 
I think I've usually been able to help them. Can't 
you confide in me, child? [Eileen drops her eyes 
hut remains silent, Mes. Tuenee glances meanr 
ingly over at Mueeay who is watching them when' 
ever he thinks the matron is not aware of it — a note 
of sharp rebuke in her voice.] I think I can guess 
your secret, my dear, even if you're too stubborn to 
tell. This setback is your own fault. You've let 
other notions become more important to you than 
the idea of getting well. And you've no excuse for 
it. After I had to warn you a month ago, I ex- 
pected that silliness to stop instantly. 

Eileen — [Her face flushed — protesting,] There 
never was anything. Nothing like that has anything 
to do with it. 

Mrs. Tuenee — [Sceptically,] What is it that 
has, then? 

Eileen — [Lying determinedly,] It's my family. 

They keep writing— and worrying me— and 

That's what it is, Mrs. Turner. ~ 

Mrs. Tuenee — [Not exactly knowing whether to 



THE STRAW 79 

hdieve this or not — probing the girl with her eyes,'] 
Your father? 

EhiEen — ^Yes, all of them. [Svddenly seeing a 
way to discredit all of the matron's suspicions — ex- 
cUedlyJ] And principally the young man I'm en- 
gaged to — the one who came to visit me several 

times 

Mks. Tuenee — [Surprised] So — you're engaged? 
[Eileen nods, Mes. Tuenee immediately dis- 
vdises her suspicions.] Oh, pardon me. I didn't 

know that, you see, or I wouldn't [She pats 

Eileen on the shoulder comfortingly.] Never mind. 
Youll tell me all about it, won't you? 

Eileen — [Desperately.] Yes. [She seems about 
to go on but the matron interrupts her.] 

Mes. Tuenee — Oh, not here, my dear. Not now. 
Come to my room — ^let me see — ^I'll be busy all mom- 
iiif^sometime this afternoon. Will you do that? 

Eileen — ^Yes. [Joyfully.] Then I needn't go 
to bed right away? 

Mes. Tuenee — No — on one condition. You 

mushi't take any exercise. Stay in your recliner all 

day and rest and remain in bed tomorrow mommg. 

And promise me you will rest and not worry any 

more about things we can easily fix up between us. 

EkLEEN — ^I promise, Mrs. Turner. 

Mes. Tuenee — [Smiling in dismissal.] Very well, 

then. I must speak to Miss Bailey. I'll see you this 

afternoon. 

En^EEN — ^Yes, Mrs. Turner. [The m-atron goes 



80 THE STRAW 

to the rear where Miss Bailey is sitting with Mrs. 
Abneb. She beckons to Miss Bailey who gets up 
with a scared look, and they go to the far left cor* 
ner of the room. Eileen stands for a moment hesi' 
tating — then starts to go to Mubhay, but just at 
this moment Fetebs comes forward and speaks to 

MUBBAY.] 

Petebs — [With his sly twisted grm.'\ Say, Car- 
mody musta lost fierce. Did yuh see the Old Woman 
handin' her an earful? Sent her back to bed, I 
betcha. What d*yuh think? 

Mubbaj: — [Impatiently, showmg his dislike J] 
How the hell do I know? 

Petebs — [Sneermgly.'] Huh, you don't know 
nothin' *bout her, I s'pose? Where d'yuh get that 
stuff? Think yuh're kiddin' me? 

MuBBAY — [With cold rage b^ore which th£ other 
slinks away,'] Peters, the more I see of you the bet- 
ter I like a skunk ! If it wasn't for other people los- 
ing weight you couldn't get any joy out of life, 
could you? [Roughly.'] Get away from me! [H0 
makes a threatening gesture.] 

Petebs — [Beating a snarling retreat.] WaitV see 
if yuh don't lose too, yuh stuck-up boob ! [Seeing 
that MuBBAY is alone again, Eileen starts toward 
him but this time she is^tercepted by Mbs. Abnes 
who stops on her way out. The weighing of thi 
women is now finished, and that of the men, Tthich 
proceeds much quicker, begins.] 

DocTOB Stanton — ^Anderson! [AN'DEbson cofne$ 



THE STRAW 81 

to the scales^ The men aJl move down to the left to 
wait their turn, with the exception of Mubbat, who 
remains by the dining room door^ fidgeting impa- 
tientltf, anxious for a word with Eileen.] 

Mes. Abneb — [Taking Eileen's arm.l Coming 
over to the cottage, dearie? 

Eileen — Not just this minute, Mrs. Abner. I 
have to wait 

Mes. Abnee — ^For the Old Woman? You lost to- 
day, didn't you? Is she sendin' you to bed, the old 
devil? 

Eileen — ^Yes, Fm afraid I'll have ^ j 

Mes. Abneb — She's a mean or ^ ain't she? I 
gained this week — ^half a pound. Lord, I'm gittin' 
fat! All my clothes are gittin' too small for me. 
Don't know what I'll do. Did you lose much, dearie? 

Eileen — ^Three pounds. 

Mes. Abnee — ^Ain't that awful! [Hastening to 

Wfll^ up for this thoughtless reTnark.'] All the same, 

^at's three pounds! You can git them back in a 

Week after you're resting more. You been runnin' a 

temp, too, ain't you? [Eileen nods.'\ Don't worry 

about it, dearie. It'll go down. Worryin's the 

^OTst. Me, I don't never worry none. [She chuck- 

let with satisfaction — thsn soberly.'] I just been 

taUdn' with Bailey. She's got to go to bed, too, I 

gaess. She lost two pounds. She ain't runnin' no 

tonp though. 

Stanton — ^Barnes! [Another mpn comes to the 
cdtesJ] 



ai THE STRAW 

Mes. Abnek — [In a mytteriout wkUper."] 
at Mr, Murray, dearie. Ain't he nerrous today? 
don't know as I blame him, either. I heard the dofl 
lor said he'd let him go home if he gained today, 
is true, d'you know? 

Eileen — [DuIIj/.'] I don't know. 

Mas, AfiXER^Gosh, I wish it was me! My ol 
man's missin* me like tlic dickens, he writes. [Sh 
starts to go.'] You'll be over to the cottage in 
while, won't you? Me'n' youll have a game of c 
sino, eh? 

Elleen — [Happt/ at ikU ddiverance.^ Yes, I 
be glad to. 

Stanton — Cordero! [Mrs. Abneb. goei on 
Eileen again starts toward Mueeay but (Ai* tit 
Fi-TNN, a yowng fellow with a hrick-colored, homelg 
good-natured face, and a skaven-iucked hairciit\ 
slouches back to Mukrav. Eileen is brought to 
halt in frdnt of the table where she stands, her fat 
working with nervous strain, clasping and wiclaif 
ing her trembling hands.'] 

Flynn — [Curiousli/.] Say, Steve, what's this l 
about the Doc lettin' yuh beat it if yuh gain today 
Is it straight goods? 

MuHHAV — He said he might, that's all. [/mp* 
tientlif.] How the devil did that story get travi 
around? 

Flynn— [TFifR a grin.] Wha' d'yuh expect wit 
this gang of skirts chewin' the fat? Well, here' 
hopin' yuh come home a winner, Steve. 



THE S* 

Mv^AY—lGratefiilly.'] Thanks. [WUh confi- 
Jflice.] Oh, I'll gain all right ; but whether he'll let 

me go or not [He gkrugi his shoulders.'\ 

FLrNN-^Make 'em behave. I wisht Stanton'd ask 
waivers on me. [TfifA a laugh.^ I oughter gain a 
ton today. I ate enough spuds for breakfast to 
plant a farm. 
Stanton— Fljnn ! 

Fltun — Me to the plate! [He strides to the 
icales.'] 

MnRRAT — Good luck ! l_He starts to join Eileen 
hut Miss Bailet, jeho has fiviihed her talk with Mbb. 
TuKNEE, who goes out to the hall, approaches 
Eileen at jast this vwinent. Mceeay stops in his 
tracks, fwming. He and Eileen exchange a glance 
of helpless annoyance."] 

Miss Bailey — [Her thin face fuU of the satisfac- 
tion of misery finding company — plucks at Eileen's 
tleeve.] Say, Carmody, she sent you back to bed, 
too, didn't she? 

Eileen — [Ahsent-mmdedly.'] I suppose 

Miss Bailey — -You suppose? Don't you know? 
Of course she did, I got to go, too. [FvXling 
Eileen's sleeve.] Come on. Let's get out of here, 
t hate this place, don't you? 

Stanton — [Calling the next.] Hopper! 
Flynn — [Shouts to MuHEAY as he is going out to 
\he hall.'] I hit 'cr for a two-bagger, Steve. Come 
m now, Bo, and bring me home ! 'Atta boy ! [Grin- 



Tting gleefuUy, he slouches out. DocToa Stanto 
and alt the patients laugh.^ 

Miss Bailey — [ITtfA irritating persistence, 
Come on, Carmody. You've got to go to bed, tw 

Eileen — [At the CTid of her patience — releasm, 
her arm from the other's grasp.^ Let me alone, will 
jou? I don't have to go to bed now — not till t 
morrow morning. 

JIiss Bailey — [Despairingly, as if she cotddvl 
believe her ears.J You don't have to go to bed? 

Eileen — Not now — no. 

Miss Bailey — [In a whining Tage.Ji Why not?' 
You've been running a temp, too, and I haven't 
You must have a pull, that's what ! It isn't fair, 
bet you lost more than I did, too ! What right ha* 

you got Well, I'm not going to bed if yoo 

don't. Wait 'n' see! 

Eileen — [Turning away revolted.^ Go awajl' 
Leave me alone, please. 

Stanton — ^Lo wen stein ! 

Miss Bailet — [Turns to the hall door, TchiTmig.X 
All right for you! I'm going to find out. It isn'fc 
square, I'll write home. [She disappears in thf 
haUwaT/, MtrKRAY strides over to Eileen whot^ 
strength seems to have left her and who is leatuafii 
weakly against the iable.'\ 

MuREAY — Thank God — at last ! Isn't it bell — 
these fools ! I couldn't get to you. What did C 
Lady Grundy have to say to you? I saw her ^vi 
me a hard look. Was it about us — the old atjj 



THE STRAW 8ft 

[Eileen nod» with downcast eyeg.^ What did she 
say? Never mind now. You can tell me in a minute. 
It's my turn next, [ffig eyei glance toTcard the 
tcales-l 

EiLEEs — [Intenselif.^ Oh, Stephen, I wish you 
wren't going away! 

MuKKAT — [EiTcitedlt/.l Maybe I'm not. It's ex- 
citing — like gambling — if I win- — - 
Stanton — Murray ! 

Mtireay — Wait here, Eileen, [He goes to the 
scales. Eileen keeps her back turned. Her body 
stiffcTis rigidly in the intensity of her conflicting emo- 
tions. She stares straight ahead, her eyes full of 
anguish. Mubkat steps on the scales nervously. 
The balance rod hits the top smartly. He has gained. 
His face lights up and he heaves a great sigh of re- 
lief. Eileen seems to sense this outcome and her 
head sinks, her body sags weakly and seems to 
shrink to a smaller size. Murkay gets off the scales, 
his face beaming with a triumphant smile. Doctor 
Stanton smUea and murmurs something to him in a 
low voice. MuBHAY nods brightly; then turns back 
to Etleen.] 

Stanton — Nathan! [Another patient advancet 
to the scales."] 

MtJRKAY — [Trying to appear casual.] Well — 
three rousing cheers ! Stanton told me to come to 
his office at eleven. That means a final exam — and 
release ! 

ErLEEN — [{Didly.] So you gained? 



1 



86 THE STRAW 

Murray — ^Three pounds. 

Eileen — ^Funny — ^I lost three. J[With a pitiful 
effort at a smile,^ I hope you gained the ones I lost. 
l^Her lips tremble.'] So you're surely going away. 

Murray — [JIw joy fleeing as he is confronted 
with her sorrow — slowly.'l It looks that way, 
Eileen. 

Eileen — [In a trembling whisper broken hy ris- 
ing sobs."] Oh— -Fm so glad — ^you gained — ^the ones 

I lost, Stephen So glad! \_She breaks down, 

covering her face mth her hands, stifling her sohs*] 

Murray — [Alarmed.'] Eileen! What's the mat- 
ter? [Desperately,] Stop it! Stanton'U see you! 

IThe Curtain Falls'] 



'ACT n 

SCENE TWO 

— Midnight of the same day. A croisroadt 
•ar the ganatorium. The main road cornea J 
ioion forward from the right. A smaller road, 
leading dozen from the left, joins it toward left,. 
Center. 

Dense tcoods rise sheer from the grass and 
bramble-grown ditches at the roads' sides. At 
the jwnction of the two roads there is a sign- 
post, its arms pointing toward the right and 
Ihe left, rear. A pile of roimd stones is at the 
road comer, left forward. A full moon, riding 
lagh overhead, throws the roads into white, 
tihadowless relief and masses the woods into 
Walls of compact blackness. The trees lean 
heavily together, their branches motionless, ijm- 
itirred by any trace of wind. 
As the curtam rises, Eileen is discovered 
inding in the middle of the road, front center, 
"Ber face shows white and clear in the bright 
noonlight as she stares with anxious expect- 
ancy up the road to the left. Her body is fixed 
an attitude of rigid immobility as if she were 
87 



8S THE STRAW 

afraid a ilightett moivment would break th 
tpell of silence and awaken the unknown, 
hat shrunk instinctivelif as far away as she ca 
from, the mysterious darkness which rises at th 
road's sides like an imprisoning wall, A soun 
of hurried footfalls, muffled by the dust, coi 
from the road she is watching. She gives 
startled gasp. Her eyes strain to identify th 
oncomer. Uncertain, trembling mth fright, 
she hesitates a second; then darts to the side o 
the road and crouches down in the shadow. 

Stephen McnttAT comes donm the road frot 

the left. He stops by the sign-post and pee 

about him. He wears a cap, the peak of whie, 

casts his face into shadow. Finally he calls M 

a low voice:'] 

MuEKAY — Eileen ! 

Eileen — [Coming out quickly from her ftkHn 

place — with a glad little cry.l Stephen ! At lasl 

[She runs to him as if she were going to fling h 

arms about him but stops abashed. He reaches o 

and takes her hands.l 

MuHRAY — At last? It can't be twelve yet. [fl 
leads her to the pile of stones on the left.^ I have^ 
heard the village clock. 

Eileen — I must have come early. It seemed as: 
I'd been waiting for ages, I was so anxious- 

MuERAT — How your hands tremble! Were yo 
frightened? 

Eileen-^ [Forcing a smUe.^ A little. The wooc 




THE STRAW 89 

are so black — and queer looking. I'm all right now. 

Mdebay — Sit down. You must rest. [In a tone 
of annoyed reproof. 1 I'm going to read jou a lec- 
ture, young lady. You shouldn't ever have done 

this — running a temp and Good heavens, don't 

you want to get well? 

Eileen — [Dvlly.'\ I don't know 

MuBBAT — [Irritahly.^ You make me ill when 
you talk that way, Eileen. It doesn't sound like you 
at all. What's come over you lately? Get a grip on 
yourself, for God's sake. I was — knocked out — 
when I read the note you slipped me after supper. 
I didn't get a chance to read it until late, I was so 
busy packing, and by that time you'd gone to your 
cottage. If I could have reached you any way I'd 
have refused to come here, I tell you straight. But 
I couldn't — and I knew you'd be here waiting — and 
—still, I feel guilty. Damn it, this isn't the thing 
for you ! You ought to be in bed asleep. Can't you 
look out for yourself? 

EiLEEN-^[ifum6^^,] Please, Stephen, don't 
scold me. 

Mtteeat — How the devil did you ever get the idea 
— meeting me here at this ungodly hour? 

Eileen— You'd told me about your sneaking out 
that night to go to the village, and I thought there'd 
I be no harm this one night — the last night. 
I MuttKAY — But I'm well. I've been well. It's dif- 
ferent. You Honest, Eileen, you shouldn't 

lose sleep and tax your strength. 



^ 



Etz.EZN — Don't Bcold me, please, I'll make i 
for it. I'll rest all the time — after you're gone. 
just had to see you some way — somewhere whel 
there weren't eyes and ears on all sides— when yo 
told me after dinner that Doctor Stanton had c 
amined you and said you could go tomorrow — 
[A clock in tke diitant village hegiaa atrikiag, 
Ssshhl Listen. 

Mpbkay — That's twelve now. You see I was eai^ 
[/n a paiue of silence they wait motionlettly uni 
the last mournful note diet in the husked woodt.^ 

Eileen — [7k a stifled voice.1 It isn't tomorro 
now, is it? It's today — the day you're going. 

MuBBAT — [Something in her voice Tnaking 
avert hit face and kick at tke heap of stones on whit 
she is sitting — brusquely.^ Well, I hope you t< 
precautions so you wouldn't be caught sneaking o 

Eii.EEN^I did just what you'd told me you did- 
stuffcd the pillows under the clothes so the watd 
man would think I was there. 

MuKEAY — None of the patients on your pon 
saw you leave, did they? 

Eileen — No. Thoy were all asleep. 

MuKRAT — That's all right, then. I wouldn 
trust any of that bunch of women. They'd be onl 
too tickled to squeal on you, [Tliere is an tmcot 
fortable pause. Murray seems waiting for her i 
speak. He looks about htm at the trees, up into ti 
moonlit sky, breathing in the fresh night air with 
heaithg 'ddight, Eilkks remamt with datencA 



THE STRAW 

head, ttaring at the road.^ It's beautiful tonight, 
isn't it? Worth losing sleep for. 

Eileen — [Dvlly.^ Yes. [Ajtother paiue — 
fnally »he murmv-rs faintly. J Are you leaving earlj? 
MuEEAY — The ten-forty. Leave the San at ten, 
I guess. 
Eiij:en — You're going homeP 

MuHBAY— Home? You mean to the town? No. 
But I'm going to see my sisters — ^just to say hello. 
I've got to, I suppose. I won't stay more than a 
few days, if I can help it, 

Eileen — I'm sure — I've often felt — you're un- 
just to your sisters. [TfWft conviction.^ I'm sore 
they, must both love you. 

MuttKAY — [Frowning.'} Maybe, in their own way. 
But what's love without a glimmer of understanding 
— a nuisance 1 They have never seen the real me 
and never have wanted to — that's all. 

Eileen — [As if to herself.'] What is — the real 

you? [McEEAY kicks at the atones impatiently 

without answering. Eileen hastens to change the 

mbject.l And then you'll go to New York? 

Murray — [Interested at once.} Yes. You bet, 

Eileen — And write more? 

Murray — Not in New Yorlt;, no. I'm going there 
to take a vacation, and live, really enjoy myself for 
a while. I've enough money for that as it is and if 
the other stones you typed sell — I'U be as rich as 

)ckefeller. I might even travel No, I've got 

B good with my best stuff first, I'll save the 



tr&veUing as a reward, a prize to gain. That' 
keep me at it. I know what I'll do. When IVe ha 
enough of New York, I'll rent a place In the coun* 
try — some old farmhouse — and live alone there and 
work. [Loit in his own plans — with ^asure.] 
That's the right idea, isn't it? 

E11.EEN — [Tri/ing to appear enthused,'\ It ou^t 
to be fine for your work. [After a pause.] They're 
fine, those stories you wrote here. They're — so rauch 
like you. I'd know it was you wrote them even if — 
I didn't know, 

Murray — [Pleased.'] Wait till you read tJ* 
others I'm going to do! [After a slight paatt— 
with a good-natured grin.] Here I am talking aboul 
myself again ! Why don't you call me down wleo 
I start that drivel? But you don't know how good 
it is to have your dreams coming true. It'd nui* 
an egotist out of anyone, 

Eileen— [So(//^.] No. I don't know. Bnt I 
love to hear you talk of yours. 

McERAY^[TI't(/i an embarrassed laugh.] Thanlw. 
Well, I've certainly told you all of them. You're 

the only one [He stops and abruptly change!- 

the subject.] You said in your note that you hii 
something important to tell me. [He sits down he- 
aide her, crossing his legs.] Is it about your inter*, 
view with Old Mrs. Grundy this afternoon? 

Eileen — No, that didn't amount to anything 
She seemed mad because I told her so little. I thini 
she guessed I only told her what I did so she'd I 




THE STRAW 



K stay up, maybe — your last day, — and to keep her 
from thinking what she did — about us, 

Murray — [Quickly, as if fe$ jtriskes to avoid this 
iiAject.'\ What is it you wanted to tell me, then? 

EllJiKN — [Sadlif.'\ It doesn't seem so important 
now, somehow. I suppose it was silly of me to drag 
vou out here, just for that. It can't mean anything 
to you — much. 

Mdrray — [^Encouragingltf.^ How- do you know 
it can't? 

Eileen — [Slowli/,'] 1 only thought — you might 
lie to know. 

MuRRAr — [Interestedly.] Know what? What is 
itf If I can help 

Eileen — No. [After a moment's hesitatio7i.'\ I 
"TOte to him this aftemoon. 

Mlieray — Him? 

t Eileen — Tlie letter you've been advising me to 
write. 
SIuERAr — [At if the knowledge of this alarmed 
''I'm — Juiltmgly.] You mean — Fred NichoUs? 
Eileen — Yes. 

MuRHAr — [After a pause — u/ncomfortably.l You 
mean — you broke it all off? 

Eileen — ^Yes — for good. [She looks up at his 
averted face. He remains silent. She continues ap- 
prehensively.] You don't say anything. I thought 
— you'd be glad. You've always told me it was the 
honorable thing to do. 
MuBKAY — [Gruffly.] I know. I say more than 



^THE' ol^R^^T^ 



my prayers, damn it! [With sudden eagemett.] 
Have you maUcd the letter yet? 

Eileen— Yes. Wliy? 

Murray — [Shortly.^ Humph. Oh — nothing. 

Eileen— [ n'»/ A pained disappointment. '\ ' 
Stephen, you don't think I did wrong, do you — 
now — after all you've said? 

Murray — [Hurriedly.'] Wrong? No, not if yon 
were convinced it was the right thing to do yourself 
— if you know you don't love him. But I'd hate to 

think you did it just on my say-so. I sliouldn't * 

I didn't mean to interfere. I don't know enon^ 
about your relations for my opinion to count. 

Eileen — [Hurt.~\ You know all there is to know. 

Murray — I didn't moan — anything like that. I 
know you've been frank. But Iiim — I don't know 
him. How could I, just meeting liim once? He may 
be quite different from my idea. That's what I'm 
getting at. I don't want to be unfair to him. 

Eileen — [Bitterly scornful.'] You needn't 
worry. You weren't unfair. And you needn't 
afraid you were responsible for my writing. I'i 
been going to for a long time before you ever spoke. 

MuHEAT — [With a relieved aigh.~\ I'm glad of 
that — honestly, Eileen. I felt guilty. I shouldn't 
have knocked him behind his back without knowing 
him at all. 

Eileen — You said you could read him like a book 
from his letters I showed you. 

Murrav — [Apologetically.] I know. I'm a fool. 



THE STRAW 95 

ErLEEN^ — -[^AngrUy.l What makes you so cpnsid- 
frate of Fred Nicholls all of a sudden? What you 
thought about him was right. 

Murray — [Vagu^i/.] I don't know. One makes 
mistakes. 

Eileen — [Ataertrveli/.l Well, I know ! You 
oeedn't waste pity on him. Hell be only too glad 
to get my letter. He's been anxious to be free of 
me ever since I was sent here, only he thought it 
wouldn't be decent to break it off himself while I 
*as sick. He was afraid of what people would say 
about him when they found it out. So he's just 
gradually stopped writing and coming for visits, 
md waited for me to realize. And if I didn't, I 
bow he'd have broken it off himself the first day I 
got home. I've kept persuading myself that, in spite 
"f the way he's acted, he did love me as much as he 
could love anyone, and that it would hurt him if 

I But now I know that he never loved me, that 

nt couldn't love anyone but himself. Oh, I don't 
'^ate him for it. He can't help being what he is. 
And all people seem to be — like that, mostly. I'm 
only going to remember that be and I grew up to- 
gether, and that he was kind to me then when he 
'Wught he liked me — and forget all the rest. [Tfjife 
"gitated impatience.'] Oh, Stephen, you know all 
this I've said about him. Why don't you admit it? 
Vou've read his letters. 

MtTKBAY — l^Haltinglif.] Yes, I'll admit that was 

f opinion — only I wanted to be sure you'd found 

^ for jourself. 



EiLKEN — [Defiantly.] Well, I have ! You see tha' 
now, don't you? 

MuBKAY — Yes; and I'm glad you're free of 
for your own sake, I knew he* wasn't the peraon 
[TI'tfA an attempt at a joking tone.'] You must gel 
one of the right sort — next time. 

EiL££N — [Springing to her feet with a erg of 
pain.] Stephen ! [He avoids her eyet ri>hich leareh 
hia face pleadinglt/.] 

AIcaRAY — [Mumbling.] He wasn't good enon^ 
— to lace your shoes — nor anyone else, either. 

EiLEEM — '[With a nervous laugh.] Don't be 
silly. [After a pause during which she waits Atw 
grUy for some word from htm — with a sigh of de- 
spair — faintlff.] Well, Pve told you — all there is. 
I might as well go bsck. 

MuBRAY — [Not looking at .her — indistinctly.] 
Yes. You mustn't lose too much sleep. I'll come to 
your cottage in the morning to say good-bye. They'll 
pennit that, I guess. 

Eileen — [Stands looking at him imploringly, htf 
face conwlsed with anguish, but he keeps his eyit 
fixed on the rocks at his feet. Finally she seems to 
give up and takes a few uncertain steps up the nai 
toward the right — in an exhausted whisper.] Good' 
night, Stephen. 

Mdekay — [His voice choked and husky.'] Good 
night, Eileen. 

Eileen — [Walks weakly up the road but, as ihl 
pastes th^ signpost, she suddenly stops and turvt 



^oh 



THE STRAW 9T 



again at Muabay who has not moved or 

lifted hi» eyes, A great shuddering gob shatters her 

pait-up emotions. She rums hack to Ml'rray, her 

nraw outstretched, with a choking cry.^ Stephen! 

^^Uttkray — [Startled, xchirU to face her and finds 

^BV" arms thrown arownd his neck — in a terri^ed 

^tmw.] Eileen ! 

Eileen — [^Brokenly.1 I love you, Stephen — ^you! 
That's what I wanted to tell ! [S'Ac gases up into 
*w eyes, her face transfigured hy the joy and pain 
of this abject confession.} 

Murray — [Wincing as if this were the thing he 
^ad feared to hear.} Eil.een ! 

ZiLEEK— [Fulling down kts head with fierce 
'tretigth and kissing him passionately on the Ups,} 
I love you! I will say it! There! [iri(A sudden 
knor.'] Oh, I know I shouldn't kiss you! I 
mustn't! You're all well — and I 

Murray — [Protesting frenziedly.} Eileen! Danm 
'■ ! Don't say that ! What do you think I am ! 
[ih kisses her fiercely two or three times untU she 
forces a hand over her mouih.} 

EiLEEN^ — [With a hysterically happy laugh,} 
^o! Just hold me in your arms— just a little while 
~-before 

Murray — [His voice treTtibling.} Eileen! Don't 

liilk that way! You're it's killing rae. I can't 

^tand it! 

Eheen — [with soothing tenderness.} Listen, 
Jeaf — ^listeo — and you won't aay a word I*Te 



so much to say — til] I get through — please, will joi 
promise? 

Mt'KHAY — [Bftroeen clinched teeth.] Yes — 
tiling, Eileon ! 

Eileen — Then I want to aaj — I know your ae 

cret. You don't love me Isn't that it? [Mm 

EAY groam.l Ssshh! It's all right, dear. Yoa 
can't help what you don't feel. I've guessed yod 
didn't — right along. And I've loved you — such i 
long time now— always, it seems. And you've sort 
of jessed — that I did — didn't you? No, don't 
speak! I'm sure you've guessed — only you didnl 
want to know — that — did you? — when you didnt 
love rae, Tliat's why you were lying — but I saw, 1 
knew! Oh, I'm not blaming you, darling. How coul^ 
I — never! You mustn't look so — so frightened, 
,know how you felt, dear. I've — I've watched you. 
It was just a flirtation for you at first. Wasn't it! 

Oh, I know. It was just fun, and Please don't 

look at me bo. I'm not hurting you, am I? 
wouldn't for worlds, dear — you know — hurt you- 
And then afterwards — you found we could be f 
good friends — helping each other- — and you wanted 
it to stay just like that always, didn't you? — 
know — and then I had to spoil it all — and fall i 
love with you — didn't I? Oh, it was stupid — 
shouldn't — I couldn't help it, you were so kind an( 
— and different— and I wanted to share in your worl 
and — and everything. I knew you wouldn't wan' 
to know I loved you — when you didn't — and I trio 



THE STRAW 99 

lard to be fair and hide my love so you wouldn't see 
—and I did, didn't I, dear? You never knew till 
just lately — maybe not till just today — did you? — 
when I knew you were going away so soon — and 
muldn't help showing it. You never knew before, 
did you? Did you? 

Murray — {^Miserably.'] No. Oh, Eileen — Eileen, 
I'm so sorry ! 

EtLEEN — [/n heartbroken protest. J Sorry? Oh 
no, Stephen, you mustn't be ! It's been beautiful — 
all of it^f or me ! That's what makes your going — 
so hard. I had to see you tonight — I'd have gone — 
crazy— if I didn't know you knew, if I hadn't made 
you guess. And I thought — if you knew about my 
writing to Fred — that — maybe — It'd make some 
difTerence. [Mubray groans — and she laughs hys- 
iericaUy.^ I must have been crazy — to think that — 
mustn't I? As if that could — when you don't love 
me. Sshh! Please! Let me finish. You mustn't 
'eel sad — or anything. It's made me happier than 
I've ever been — loving you — even when I did know — 
jou didn't. Only now — you'll forgive me telling you 
»n this, won't you, dear? Now, it's so terrible to 
think I won't see you any more. 111 feel so — with- 
out anybody. 

MiTRRAY — [BrofrCTiiy.] But ni — come back. 
Ind you'll be out soon — and then 

Eileen — \Brokenly.^ Sahli! Let me finish. 
I'ou don't know how alone I ara now. Father — i 
lell marry that housekeeper — and the children — 



1 



100 THE STRAW 

they Ve forgotten me. None of them need me anj 
more, TheyVe found out how to get on without 
me — and I'm a drag — dead to them — ^no place for 
me home any more — and they'll be afraid to have 
me back — afraid of catching — ^I know she won*t 
want me back. And Fred — ^he's gone — ^he never 
mattered, anyway. Forgive me dear — ^worrying yoa 
— only I want you to know how much you've meant ^ 
to me — ^so you won't forget — ever — after you*ve 
gone. 

MuEEAY — [In grief-stricken tones. "l Forget? 
Eileen ! I'll do anything in God*s world 

Eileen — ^I know — you like me a lot even if you 
can't love me — don't you? {His arms tighten abofU 
her as he bends down and forces a kiss on her lips 
again.l Oh Stephen! That was for good-bye. You 
mustn't come tomorrow morning. I couldn't bear 
having you — ^with people watching. But youTl write 
after — often — ^won't you? [Heartbrokenlf/.'] Oh, 
please do that, Stephen! 

MuRKAY. — ^I wiU! I swear! And when you get 
out I'll — ^well — I'll find something — {He kisses her 
again. ] 

Eileen — {Breaking away from him with a quick 
movement amd stepping back a few feet.'\ Good-bye 
darling. Remember me — and perhaps — you'll find 
out after a time — 111 pray God to make it so ! Ohf 
what am I saying? Only — I'll hope — ^I'll hope — ^till 
I die! 

MuERAY — {In angtdsh.'] Eileen ! 



N 



THE STRAW 101 

£rLKBN — [Her breath coming in tremtdotu heaves 
.of her hosom.'^ Remember, Stephen — if ever you want 
i— 111 do anything — anything you want — ^no matter 
[liiiat — ^I don't care — there's just you and — don't 

liate me, dear. I love you — ^love you — remember! 

jShe sudderdt/ turns and rwns away up the road."] 

MiT&BAT — ^Eileen ! [He starts to rwn after her hut 
\0tops hy the signpost and stamps on the groiund 
^ furiously, his fists clenched in impotent rage at him- 
iMelf and at fate^, He curses hoarsely."] Christ! 

[TJie Curtain FaUsI 







BcsKS — Four months later. An isolation room at 
the infirmary with a sleeping porch at the right 
of it. Late afternoon of a Sunday tojcard the 
end of October. The room, extending two- 
thirds of the distance from left to right, is, for 
^_ reasons of space economy, scantily furnished 
^B ttdth the bare necessities — a bureau with mirror 
^Vtn *A« left comer, rear — two straight-backed 
^^ chairs — a table with a glass top in the center. 
Th^ floor is varnished hardwood. The walls 
and furniture are painted white. On the left, 
forward, a door to the hallway. On the right, 
rear, a double glass door opening on the porch. 
Farther front two windows. The porch, a 
tcreened-in continuation of the room, contains 
only a single iron bed painted white, and a 
amaU table placed beside the bed. 

The woods, the leaves of the trees rich in their 
autumn coloring, rise close about this side of 
the Infirmary. Their branches almost touch 
the porch on the right. In the rear of the porch 
they have been cleared away from the building 
, for a narrow space, and through this opening 
105 



\ THE STRAW 

the diitant hilU can be teen with the tree tof 
glowing in the lutUight, 

At the curtain riiex, Eileen is discovered l^ 
ing in the bed on the porch, propped up int 
a half-sitting position hy piUowa wider her bat 
and head. She seems to have grown much thii 
jMff. Her face is pale and drawn with del 
hollows under her cheek-bones. Her eyes c 
duU and lusterlest. She ganes straight befot 
her into the wood with the ungceing stare e 
apathetic indifference. The door from the h 
in the room behind her is opened and Miss Hou 
ard enters followed by Bill Carmody, Mrs. Bren 
nan, and Mary, Carmody's manner is unwovt 
edly sober and suhdued. This air of respee 
able sobriety is further enhanced by a blot 
svit, glaringly new and stiffly pressed, a m 
black derby hat, and shoes polished like a rm 
ror. His expression is full of a bitter, if saj 
pressed, resentment. His gentility is evidenti 
forced upon him in spite of himself and eorri 
spondingly irksome. Mrs. Brennan is a t(A 
stout woman of fifty, lusty and loud-voiced, t 
a broad, smib-nosed, florid face, a large mou^ 
the upper Up darkened hy a suggestion of it 
tache, and little round blue eyes, hard aiid ret 
less with a continual fuming irritation. 
is got up regardless in her ridiculous Sundai 
best. Mary appears tall and skinny-legged in 
starched, outgrown frock. The aweetnets i 



r 



THE STRAW lOT 

lier face has disappeared, giving waif to a hang- 
dog aullennesB, a stubborn silence, with svlky, 
■furtive glances of rebellion directed at her step- 
mother. 



I 

W Miss Howabd — [Pointmg to the porefi,] She'i 
out there on the porch. 

Mb5. Brennan — [TFiift dignity.^ Thank yon, 
ma'am. 

Miss Howabd — [TFiiA a searching glance at ihtf 
risitors as if to appraise their intentions.'] Eileen's 
been very sick lately, you know, so be careful not to 
worry her about anything. Do your best to cheer 
ber up. 

Caemody — [^Mournfully.] We'll try to put life 
in her spirits, God help her. [With an wncertain 
look at Mrs. Brennan.] Won't wc, Maggie? 

Mrs. Beennan — [Turning sharply on Mary who 
has gone over to exainMie the things on the hurewti,] 
Come away from that, Mary. Curiosity killed a cat. 
Don't be touchin' !ier tilings. Remember what I told 
you. Or is it admirin' your mug in the min-or yoa 
are? [Turning to Miss Howard as Mary vwves 
away from the bureau, hanging her head— shortly. "] 
Don't you worry, ma'am. We won't trouble Eileeii 
at all. 

Miss Ho wahd— Another thing. You mustn't say 
anything to her of what Miss Gilpin just told yon 
about her being sent away to the State Farm in a 



^ J 



108 THE STRAW 

few days. Eileen isn't to know till the very last 
kninute. It would only disturb hen 

Cabmodt — l^HastUy.'] We'll not say a word of it. 

Miss Howaed — [Turning to the haU door.^ Thank 
you. [She goes out, shutting the door.'] 

Mes. Beennan — [Angrily.'] She has a lot of im- 
pudent gab, that one, with her don't do this and 
don't do that! It's a wonder you wouldn't speak 
up to her and shut her mouth, you great fool, and 
you pay in' money to give her her job. [Disgust- 
edly,] You've no spunk in you. 

Caemody — [Placatingly.] Would you have me 
raisin' a shindy when Eileen's leavin' here in a day 
or more? What'd be the use? 

Mes. Beennan — In the new place she's goin' you'll 
tiot have to pay a cent, and that's a blessing! It's 
small good they've done her here for all the money 
they've taken. [Gazing about the room critically,] 
It's neat and clean enough; and why shouldn't it, 
a tiny room and the lot of them nothing to do all 
day but scrub. [Scomfidly.] Two sticks of chairs 
and a table I They don't give much for the money. 

Caemody — Catch them! It's a good thing she's 
clearin' out of this and her worse ofF after them 
curin' her eight months than she was when she came. 
Shell maybe get well in the new place. 

Mes. Beennan — [Indifferently.] It's Grod's will, 
what'U happen. [Irritably.] And I'm thinkin' it's 
His punishment she's under now for having no heart 
in her and never writin' home a word to you or the 



THE STrIw 109 

cluldren In two months or more. If the doctor 
hadn't wrote us fiimself to come see her, she was 
Bick, we'd have been no wiser. 

Cakmodv — Wliisht! Don't be blamin' a sick girl. 

iLiRY — [WAo has drifted to one of the windows 
at right — curiously.'} There's somebody in bed out 
there. I can't see her face. Is it Eileen? 

Mss. Beennan — Don't be goin' out there till I 
tell you, you imp ! I must speak to your father first, 
[Camiag closer to him and lowering her voice.} Are 
Jou going to tell her about it? 

CAaMony — \^Pretending igtwrance."] About what? 

Mes. Beennan — About what, indeed ! Don't pre- 
tend you don't know. About our marryin* two weeks 
Wtt, of course. Wliat else? 

CiKMODY — [ Uncertainly, "} Yes — I disremem- 
iiered she didn't know. I'll have to tell her, surely, 

Mes. Bhennan — [Flaring up.~\ You speak like 
vou wouldn't. Is it shamed of me you are? Are 
yoa afraid of a slip of a girl? Well, then, I'm not! 
I'll tell her to her face soon enough, 

Carmodt — [Angrjf in his turn — assertiveli/.l 
^'oiill not, now ! Keep your mouth out of this and 
Tour rough tongue ! I tell you I'll tell her. 

Mas. Beennan— [S'flfis^ec?.] Let's be going out 
to her, then, {They move toward the door to the 
portL] And keep your eye on your watch. We 
niiistii't miss the train. Come with us, Mary, and 
rtmtmlier to keep your mouth shut. [They go out 
on (fie porch and stand just outside the door wait- 



110 THE STRAW 

ing for Eileen to notice them; hut the girl in bed con- 
tinues to stare into the woods, oblivious to their 
presence,"] 

Mes. Beenann — l^N^ging Caemobt with her 
elbow — in a harsh whisper.] She don't see us. It's a 
dream she's in with her eyes open. Glory be, it's 
bad she's lookin'. The look on her f ace'd frighten 
you. Speak to her, you ! {EHeen stirs wneasUy as if 
this whisper had disturbed her unconsciously.] 

Caemody? — {Wetting his lips and clearing his 
throat huskily.] Eileen. 

Eileen — [Startled^ turns and stares at them with 
frightened eyes. After a pause she ventures wncer^ 
tainly as if she were not sure but what these figures 
might be creatures of her dream.] Father. {Her eyes 
shift to Mes. Beennan's face and she shudders.] 
Mrs. Brennan. 

Mes. Beennan — {Quickly — in a voice meant to 
be kindly.] Here we are, all of us, come to see you. 
How is it you're feelin' now, Eileen? {While she is 
talking she advances to the bedside^ followed by 
Caemody, and takes one of the sick girVs hands in 
hers. Eileen withdraws it as if stu/ng and holds it 
out to her father. Mrs. Brennan^s face flushes 
angrily and she draws back from the bedside.] 

Caemody — {Moved — with rough tenderness pat^ 
ting her hand.] Ah, Eileen, sure it's a sight for 
sore eyes to see you again ! {He bends down as if to 
kiss her, but, struck by a sudden fear, hesitates, 
straightens himself, and shamed by the trnderstand' 



THE STRAW 111 

ffeff in Eileen's eyes, growt red and stammers con- 
fusedly.T^ How are jou now? Sure it'a the picture 
of health jou're lookin'. {^Eileen sighs and turns 
her eyes away from him with a resigned sadness.l 

Mas. Beennan — ^What are you standm' there for 
like a stick, Mary? Haven't jou a word to say 
to your sister? 

Eileen — [Twisting her head around and se^g 
Mary for the first time — mth a glad cTy.'\ Mary! 
I — why I didn't see you before ! Come here. [Mary 
approaches gingerly tcith apprehensive side glances 
at Mrs. Brennan who watches her grimly. Eileen's 
arms reach out for lier hungrily. She grasps her 
about the waist and seems trying to press the un- 
wUling child to her breast.'\ 

MAfiY — [Fidgetting nervously — suddenly in a 
frightened whine.J Let me go ! [EUeen releases her, 
looks at her face dasedly for a second, then falls 
back limply with a little moan and shuts her eyes. 
Mary, who has stepped back a pace, remains fixed 
there as if fascinated mth fright by her sister's face. 
She stammers.^ Eileen — you look so — so funny. 

Eileen — [Without opening her eyes — in a dead 
Tfoice,] You, too! I never thought you — Go away, 
please. 
L Mas. Bkennan — [With satisfaction.^ Come here 
■ko me, Mary, and don't be botherin' your sister. 
[jlfary avoids her step-nwther but retreats to the 
far end of the porch where she stands shrunk back 



IIS 



THE STRAW 



agaititt the wall, her eyes pred on EUeen with thgM 
samr ftuchutted horror.^ m 

Carmody — [After an uncomfortable pause, forc^M 
ing himself to speak.'] Is the pain bad, Eileen? fl 

Bii-EEN — [Didly — without oyening her eyes.')im 
There's no pain. [There is another pause — fft^nl 
she murmurs indifferent! j/.l There are chairs iam 
the room yoa can bring out if you want to sit down.fl 

Mrs. Brennan — [Sharply.'] Wi;'ve not time to  
be sittin'. We've the train back to catch, M 

Eileen — [In the same lifeless voice.] It's a dis*! 
agreeable trip. I'm sorry you had to come. l 

Cakmody — [FighttTig agai-nst an oppression he 
cannot wnderstand, bursts into a flood of words.] 
Don't be talking of the trip. Sure we're glad to 
take it to get a sight of you. It's three months 
since I've had a look at you and I was anxious. 
Why haven't you written a line to us? You could 
do that without trouble, surely. Don't you ever 
think of us at all any more? [He waits for an an- 
swer but Eileen remains s3ent with her eyes closed. 
Carmody starts to walk up and down talking with 
an air of desperation.] You're not asking a bit 
of news from home. I'm thinkin' the people out 
here have taken all the thought of us out of your 
head. We're all well, thank God. I've another 
good job on the streets from Murphy and one that'll 
last a long time, praise be! I'm needin' it surely, 
with all the expenses — but no matter, Billy had a 
raise from his old skinflint of a boss a month back. 



THE STRAW 113 

He's gettin' seven a week now and proud as a turkey. 
He was comin' out with us today but he'd a date with 

his girl. Sure, he's got a girl now, the young bucko ! 
What d'you think of him? It's old Malloy's girl 
he's after — the pop-eyed one with glasses, you re- 
member — as ugly as a blind sheep, only be don't 
think so. He said to give you his love, [Eileen 
ttirs and sighs wearily, a frown appearing for an 
instant on her forehead,^ And Tom and Nora was 
comin' out too, but Father Fitz had some doin's or 
other up to the school, and he told them to be there, 
so they wouldn't come with us, but they sent their 
love to you too. They're growin' so big you'd not 
know them. Tom's no good at the school. He's like 
Billy was, I've had to take the strap to him often. 
He's always playin' hooky and roamin' the streets. 
And Nora — [With pride.} There's the divil for you! 
Up to everything she is and no holdin' her high 
spirits. As pretty as a picture, and the smartest 
girl in her school, Father Fitz says. Am I lyin', 
Maggie? 

Mrs. Bhennan— [Grwrffirinp^y.] She's smart 
enough — and too free with her smartness. 

Caemody — [^Pleased.'] Ah, don't be talkin'! 
She'll know more than the lot of us before she's 
grown even. [He pauses in his walk and stares down 
at EixEEN, frowning.'] Are you sick, Eileen, that 
you're keepin' your eyes shut without a word out 
of you ? 

Eileen — [^Wearily.'] No. I'm tired, that's all. 



Caemody — [Reniming hia walk.'} And who els 
is tliere, let me tliink? Oh, Marj — she's the sam 
as ever, jou can §ee for jourself. 

Eileen— [Bii(frij(.] The same? Oh, no! 

Cabmody — She's grown, you mean? I suppose 
You'd notice, not seeing her so long? [He can tkwii 
of nothing else to tay but walki up and down witli 
a restless, uneasjf expresgion.'] 

Mbs, Brennan — [Sharply.} What time is 
gettin'? 

Cabmody — [Fumbles for his trafcft.] Half paaf 
four, a hit after. 

Mas, Brennas — We'll have to leave soon. It's i 
long jaunt down that hill in that buggj. [Sh^ 
catches his eye artd makes violent signs to him tt 
tell Eileen what he has come to (eff.] 

Cabmodt- — [After an uncertain pause — clenchitu 
his fists and clearing his throat.} Kileen. 

Eileen — Yes. 

CARSiony — [Irritably.} Can't you open your eya 
on me? It's like talkin' to myself I am? 

EiLESN — [Looking at him — dully.} What is iti 

Carmody — [Stammering — avoiding her glance.} 
It's this, Eileen — me and Maggie — Mrs. Brennan 
that is — we 

Eileen — [IVithout surprise.} You're going i 
marry her? 

Cabmody — £W»iA an effort.} Not goin' to. It's 
done. 

Eileen — [Without a trace of feeling.} Oh, 



THE STRAW 115 

you've been married already? [Tftt/wjuf further 
comment, she closes her eyes.^ 

Carmodt — Two weeks back we were, by Father 
Fitz, [He stands staring down at his daughter, irri- 
tated, perplexed and confownded by her silence, look- 
ing as if he longed to shake her.} 

Mhs. Brennan — [Angry at the lack of enthitsi- 
atm, shown by Eileek.] Let us get out of this. Bill. 
We're not wanted, that's plain as the nose on your 
face. It's little she's caring about you, and Uttlc 
thanks she has for all you've done for her and the 
money you've spent. 

Carmody — [With a note of pleading.} Is that a 
I proper way to be treatin' your father, Eileen, after 
[ what I've told jou? Have you no heart in you 
I at all? Is it nothin' to you you've a good, kind 
\ woman now for mother? 

Eileen — [Fiercely, Kef eyes fashing open on 
I him.} No, No! Never! 

Mbs. Brennan — [Plucking at Carmodt's elbow. 
He stands looking at Eileen helplessly, his mouth 
i, a guilty flush spreading over his face,} Come 
i of here, you big fool, you! Is it to listen to 
alts to your livin' wife you're waiting? Am I 
I be tormented and you never raise a hand to stop 

jr? 

■Caehodt — [Tummg on her threateningly.} Will 
I shut your gab? 

EiLEKN — [TTifA a moan.} Oh, go away. Father! 
«se! Take her away! 



116 



THE STRAW 



Mk8, Bbeknak — [Putting at his orm.] Take me 
away this secood or I'll go on without you and 
never speak again to you till the day I die! 

Casmody — [Puthei her violently away from him 
— raging, hia fist uplifted.] Shut your gab, Tin 
saying! 

Mhs. Brennan — The divil mend you and yours 
then! I'm leavin* you, [She starts for the door.] 

Carmody — [HaatUi/.l Wait a bit, Maggie. I'm 
comin*. [She goes into the room, slamming the door, 
bnt once inside she stands slUl, trying to listen. 
Cabmody glares down at his daughter's pale twitch- 
ing face with the closed eyes. Finally he croaks in 
a whining tone of fear.] Is your last word a cruel 
one to Die this day, Eileen? [She remains silent. . 
His face darkens. He turns and strides out of the 
door. Mary darts after him with a frightened cry ' 
of "Papa." Eileen covers her face with her hands 
and a shudder of relief runs over her body.] 

Mr8. Beennan — [As Carmody enters the room — 
tn a mollified tone.] So you've corao, have you? 
Let's go, then? [Caemody stands looking at her ti 
silence, his expression fuU of gloomy rage, 
bursts out impatiently.] Are you comin' or are jai 
goin' back to her? [She grabs Mary's arm am 
pushes her toward the door to the halt,] Are yJ 
comin' or not, I'm asking? 

Caemody — [Somberly — as if to himself.] Thei 
something wrong in the whole of this — that I cai 
make out, [ With sudden fury he brandishes his fUm 



THE STRAW 117 

as though defying someone and growls threaten- 
ingly. '\ And I'll get drunk this night — dead, rotten 
drunk! [He seems to detect disapproval in Mbb. 
Brennan's face for he shakes his fist at her and 
repeats like a solemn oath."] I'll get drunk this 
night, I'm sayin'! I'll get drunk if my soul roasta 
for it — and no one in the whole world ia strong 
enough to stop me! [Mrs. Bkennan turns front 
him Toith a disgusted shrug of her shoulders and 
hustles Mart out of the door. Carmody, after a 
second's pause, folloras them. Eileen lies still, look- 
ing out into the woods with empty, desolate eyes. 
Miss Howard comes into the room from the hall and 
goes to the porch, carrying a glass of mUk in her 
hand.'] 

Miss Howard — Here's your diet, Eileen. I for- 
got it until just now, Sundays are awful days, 
aren't they? They get me all mixed up in mj work, 
with all these visitors around. Did you have a nice 
visit with your folks? 

Eileen — [Forcing a smtZe.] Yes. 

Misa Howard — You look worn out. I hope they 
didn't worry you over home aifairs? 

Eileen— No. [She sips her milk and sets it back 
on the table with a shudder of disgust."] 

Misa Howard — [With a smUe."] What a face! 
You'd think you were taking poison. 

Eileen — I hate it! [With deep passion.} I 
wish it was poison ! 

Mias Howard — [Jokingly.] Oh, come now! That 



J 



118 



THE STRAW 



isn't a nice way to feel on the Sabbath, [TFi(ft i 
meaning smile.] I've some news that'll cheer yoll 
up, I bet. \^Archly.'\ Guess who's here on a visitl 

Eileen — [Startled — m a frighteiied wkisper.M 
Who? 

Miss Howard — Mr, Murray. [Efleek clotei I 
eyes wmcingly for a moment and a shadoTo of pan 
comes over her face.^ He just came about the tir 
your folks did. I saw him for a moment, not to spea] 
to. He was going to the main building — to see Doe* 
tor Stanton, I suppose. [Beaming — with a certain^ 
cujiosity.] Wliat do you think of that for newa?J 

Eileen — [Trying to conceal her agitation am 
assume a casual tone.^ He must have come to be e 
a mined. 

Miss Howaed — [IVifft a meaning laugh.] Oll| 
I'd hardly say that was his main reason. He dot 
look much thinner and very tired, though. I supi 
pose he's been working too hard. [In businets-lik 
tones,'] Well, Fve got to get back on the job. [Si 
turns to the door calling back jokingly.] He'll 1 
in to see you of course, so look your prettiest. [S^l 
goes out and shuts the door to the porch. Eilebd i 
gives a frightened gasp and struggles up in bed at 
if she wanted to call the nurse to return. Then she 
lies back in a state of great nervous excitement, 
twisting her head with eager, fearful glances toward 
the door, listening, clasping and unclasping Iter thin 
fingers on the white spread. As Misa Howaed waUci 
across the room to the haU door, it is opened and 




THE STRAW 

Stephen Mueeay enters. A great change is visible 
in his face. It is much thinner and the former healthy 
tan hus faded to a saUow pallor. Puffy shadows of 
sleeplessness and dissipation are marked under his 
heavy-lidded eyes. He is dressed in a well-fitting, 
expensive, dark suit, a white shirt with a soft collar 
and bright-colored tie.'] 

Miss Howaed — \^TVith pleased surprise, holding 
out her hand,"] Hello, Mr. Murray, 

MuBKAY — [^Shaking her hand — with a forced 
pleasantness.'] How are jou. Miss Howard? 

Miss Howaud — Fine as ever. It certainly looks 
natural to see you around here again — not that I 
hope you're here to stay, though. [IV»(fe a smile.^ 
I suppose you're on your way to EHeen now. Well, 
I won't keep you, I've oodles of work to do. [She 
opens the hall door. He starts for the porch.^ Oh, 
I was forgetting — Congratulations ! I've read those 
stories — all of us have. They're great. We're all 
so proud of you. You're one of our graduates, you 
know. 

MuHEAT — [Indifferentli/.'] Oh, — that stuff. 
Miss Howabd — [Gaily.'] Don't be so modest. 
Well, se^ you later, I hope. 

MuHEAT — Yea. Doctor Stanton invited me to 

. Btay for supper and I may 

 Mias HowABD — Fine! Be sure to! [She goes 

mVut. McREAT Tealks to porch door and steps out. 

He finds Eileen's eyes waiting for him. As their 

eyes meet she gasps invohintarily and he stops short 



180 THE STRAW 

»w his tracks. For a moment they remain looking at 
each other in ailence.l 

Eileen — '[Dropping her eyes — faintly.'] Stephen. 

MtiKUAY — [Much moved, strides to her bedside 
and takes her hands awkwardly.] Eileen. [Then 
after a second's pause in which he searches her face 
and is shocked by the change Slness has made — anof- 
iouslif.] How are you feeling, Eileen? [He grows 
confused by her gaze amd his eyes shift from hers, 
which search his face with wUd yearning.^ 

Eileen — [Forcing a smUc.] Oh, I'm all rig'ht. 
[Eagerly.] But you, Stephen P How are you? 
[Excitedly.] Oh, it's good to see you again! [Her 
eyes continue fixed on his face pleadingly, question^ 
ingly.] 

MtTnBAY — [Haltingly.] And it's sure great to see 
you again, Eileen, [He releases her hand and tamt 
away.] And I'm fine and dandy. I look a little 
done up, I guess, but that's only the result of too 
much New York. 

Eileen — [Sensing from his manner that whatever^ 
she has hoped for from his visit is not to be, sinki 
back on the pillows, shutting her eyes hopelessly, 
and cannot control a sigh of pain.] 

Meterat — [Turning to her avj^iotisly.] What'a 
the matter, Eileen? You're not in pain, are you? 

Eileen — [Wearily.] No. 

MnBKAY — You haven't been feeling badly lately^ 
have you? Your letters suddenly stopped — ^not i 
line for the past three weeks — and I 



Eileen — {^Bitterly.'] I got tired of writing and 
never getting anj answer, Steplien. 

MuKKAT — \^Shame-faced.] Come, Eileen, it wasn't 
as bad as that. You'd think I never — and I did 
write, didn't I? 

Eileen — Right after you left here, you did, Ste- 
phen. Lately 

MuKKAY — I'm sorry, Eileen. It wasn't that I 
didn't mean to — but — in New York it's so hard, 
You start to do one thing and something else inter- 
rupts you. You never seem to get any one thing 
done when it ought to be. You can understand that, 
can't you, Eileen? 

Eu-EEN — [Sadly.'l Yes. I understand every- 
thing now. 

MuRaAY — [Offcnded.'\ 'What do you mean by ev- 
erjrthing? You said tliat so strangely. You mean 

you don't believe [But she remains xUent with 

her eyes shut. He frowns and takes to pacing up and 
down beside the bed.'\ Why have they got you stuck 
out here on this isolation porch, Eileen? 

Eileen — [Dully.^ There was no room on the 
main porch, I suppose. 

MoKRAY — You never mentioned in any of your 
letters 

Eileen — It's not very cheerful to get letters full 
of sickness. I wouldn't like to, I know, 

MrBEAY— [Huri.] That isn't fair, Eileen. You 

know I How long have you been back in the 

Infirmary P 



J 



EiLSBM — About a month. 

MoKBAT — [Shocked.'\ A month! Bat you wen 
up and about — on exercise, weren't jou — ^befora 
that? 

EiLEEij — No. I had to stay in bed while I waa 
at the cottage. 

MuERAT — You mear^-cvor since that time thej 
sent you back — the day before I left? 

Eileen — Yes. 

Mpbeay — But I thought from the cheery tone of 
your letters that you were 

EiLKEN — [[/nfajiZy.] Getting better? I 
Stephen. I'm strong enough to be up now but Dotf 
tor Stanton wants me to take a good long rest thii 
time so that when I do get up again I'll be sure- 
[Skc breaks off impatiently.] But don't let's taftj 
about it. I'm all right. [Murray glances doTim ol 
her face worriedly. She change t the subject,^ 
You've been over to see Doctor Stanton, haven't 
you? 

MoREAT — Yes. 

Eileen — Did he examine you? 

McBHAT — Yes, [Carelfssly.^ Oh, he found i 
O.K. I'm fine and dandy, as I said before. 

Eileen — I'm glad, Stephen. [After a peaae.] 
TeU about yourself — what you've been doing. You'vi 
written a lot lately, haven't you? 

McHRAT — [^Frowning.'] No. I haven't been abb 
to get down to it — somehow. There's so little tim 
to yourself once you get to know people in New 




THE STRAW 128 



Fork. The sale of the stories you typed put me OB 
easy street as far as nionej goes, so I've felt no 

need [He laughs weakli/.] I guess Pm one 

of those who have to get down to hard pan before 
they get the kick to drive them to hard work. 

Eileen — [^Surpriied.'] Was it hard work writ- 
ing them up here? You used to seem so happy just 
in doing them. 

MtTEEAT — I was — ^happier than I've been before 
or afterward. [CynicdUy.^ But — I don't know — 
it was a new game to me then and I was chuck full 
of illusions about the glory of it. [He laughs half- 
heartedly.'] Now I'm hardly a bit more enthusiastic 
over it than I used to be over newspaper work. It's 
like everything else, I guess. When you've got it, 
you find you don't want it. 

Eileen— [Loofringr at him leondermgly — dis- 
turbed.^ But isn't just the writing itself worth 
while? 

Ml'rkay — [As if suddenly ashamed of himself — 
quickly.] Yes. Of course it is, I'm talking like a 
fool. I'm sore at everything because I'm dissatisfied 
with ray own cussedness and laziness — and I want to 
pass the buck. \^With a smile of cheerful confidence.] 
It's only a fit. Ill come out of it all right and get 
down to brass tacks again, 

Eileen — [With an encouraging smile.] That's 
the way you ought to feel. It'd be wrong — I've read 
the two stories that have come out so far over and 
over. They're fine, I think. Every line in them 



THE STRAW 

sounds 1!ke jou, and at the same time sounds naturaj 
and like people and tilings you see every day. Et 
erybody thinks they're fine, Stephen. 

MuREAY — [Pleased biit pretending cynicisia. 
Tlien they must be rotten, [Then with aelf-a 
ance-l Well, I've plenty more of those stories ii 
head. Every time I think of my home town thei 
seems to be a new story in someone I've known the« 
[Spiritcdly-I Oh, I'll pound them out sometin 
when the spirit moves ; and I'll make them so mud 
better than what I've done so far, you won't recog 
nizc them. I feel it's in me to do it. ^^Smithig,' 
Dam it, do you know just talking about it make 
me feel as if I could sit right down now and start i 
on one. Is it the fact I've worked here before — 
is it seeing you, Eileen? [GratefuUif.J I really I 
lieve it's you. I haven't forgotten how you helpM 
me before. 

Eileen — [/n a tone of potn,] Don't, Stephe 
I didn't do anything. 

Murray — [Eagerly.^ Yes, you did. You mat 
it possible. I can't tell you what a help you wer 
And since I've left the San, I've looked forward I 
your letters to boost up my spirits. When I fe 
down in the mouth over my own idiocy, I used to p 
read them, and they always were good medieine. 
can't tell you how grateful I've felt, honestly ! 

Eileen — [Faintly.'] You're kind to say so, 51 
phen — but it was nothing, really. 

MuBEAY — And I can't tell you how I'v 



 THE 8THAW 1«5 

those letters for the past three weeks. They left a 
big hole in things. I was worried about you — not 
having heard a word. \^With a smile.'] So I came 
to look you up. 

Eileen — {^Faintly. Forcing an answering Kntlc.] 
Well, you see now I'm all right. 

'M.v^B.AY— {Concealing his doubt.] Yes, of course 
you are. Only I'd a dam sight rather see you up 
and about. We could take a walk, then — through 
the woods. [A wince of pain shadows Eileen's face. 
She closes her eyes. Mueeav continues softly, after 
a pause.] You haven't forgotten that last night — 
out there — Eileen? 

Eileen — [Her lips trembling — trying to force a 
laugh.] Please don't remind me of that, Stephen. I 
was so silly and so sick, too. My temp was so high 
it must have made me — completely crazy — or I'd 
never dreamed of doing such a stupid thing. My 
head must have been full of wheels because I don't 
remember anything I did or said, hardly. 

McaBAY^[Hw pride taken down a peg by this — 
in a hurt tone.] Oh! Well^I haven't forgotten 
and I never will, Eileen, [^Then his face clears up 
na if a weight had been taken off his conscience.] 
WcU^I rather thought you wouldn't take it 
seriously — afterward. You were all up in the air 
that night. And you never mentioned it in your 

letters 

Eileen — [^Pleadingly.] Don't talk about it! 
Forget it ever happened. It makes me feel — 



IBE STRAW 

[with a half-kysterical laugh] — ^like a foolll 

MuEKAY— [irorrifrf.] AU right, Eileen. I won't, f 
Don't get worked up over notliing. That isn't rest- ' 
ing, you know. [Looking down at her cloxed eyes- 
aoUcitously.'] Perhaps all my talking has tired you 
out? Do you feci done up? Why don't jou try and 
take a nap now? 

Eileen — [DuUy.'] Yes, I'd like to sleep. J 

Mksbay — \_Clagps her harids gentli/.] I'll leave ] 
you then. I'll drop back to say good-bye and stay ' 
awhile before I go. I won't leave until the last 
train. [As she doesn't anawer.^ Do you hear, 
Eileen? 

EriEEN — [WeaJclt/.'] Yes. You'll come back — 
to say good-bye, 

McRRAy — Yes. Ill be back sure. [He presses 
her hand and after a kindly glance of sympathy 
down at her face, tip-toes to the door and goes into 
the room, shutting the door behind him. When she 
hears the door shut Eii-een struggles up in bed and 
stretches her arms after him with an agonised sob- 
"Stephen!" She hides her face in her hands and sob^ 
brokenly. Murray walks across to the hall door ant 
is about to go out when the door is opened and MnfT 
Gilpin enters.^ 

Miss Gilpin — \^Hurriedly.^ How do you do, Mr. i 
Murray. Doctor Stanton just told me you weM 
here, 

Murray — [As they shake hands — smS,ing.'\ Hoi 
are you, Miss Gilpin? 



Miss Gilpin — He said he'd examined you, and 
that you were O.K.' I'm glad. [Glajicing at him 
keenly.~\ You've been talking to Eileen? 

MuKKAT — Just left her this second. She wanted 
to sleep for a while. 

Miss Gilpin- — {^Wonderingly.^ Sleep? [Then 
hurriedly.] It's too bad. I wish I'd known you were 
here sooner. I wanted very much to talk to you 
before you saw Eileen. You see, I knew you'd pay 
us a visit sometime. [irifA a worried smile.] I still 
think I ought to have a talk with you. 

MraRAY — Certainly, Miss Gilpin. 

Mi.ss Gilpin — [Takes a chair and places it near 
the hall door.'\ Sit down. She can't hear us here. 
Goodness knows this is hardly the place for confi- 
dences, but there are visitors all over and it'll have 
to do. Did you close the door tightly? She mustn't 
hear me above all. [She goes to the porch door and 
peeks out for a moment; then comes back to hint with 
flaihing ej/es.'\ She's crying ! What have you been 
saying to her? Oh, it's too late, I know! The 
fools shouldn't have permitted you to see her before 

I What has happened out there? Tell me! 

I must know. 

MuKSAY — [Stammering.'^ Happened? Nothing. 
She's crying? Why Miss Gilpin — you know I 
wouldn't hurt her for worlds. 

Miss Gilpin — [More calmlt/.] Intentionally, I 
know you wouldn't. But something has happened. 
\^Tken brisMt/.] We're talking at cross purposes. 



1 



Since you don't seem iccliiied to coofide in me, I' 
have to in you. You noticed how badly she looks 
didn't you? 

MuEHAY — Yes, I did. 

Miss Gilpin — [Gravely,'} She's been going down' 
hill steadily — [meaningly} — ever since j-ou left. 
She's in a very serious state, let me impress you with 
that. We've all loved her, and felt so sorry for he| 
and admired her spirit so — that's the only reasod 
she's hcen allowed to stay here so long after her timet 
We've kept hoping she'd start to pick up — in an- 
other day — in another week. But now that's all 
over. Doctor Stanton has given up hope of her 
improving here, and her father is unwilling to pay 
for her elsewhere now ho knows there's a cheapet 
place — the State Farm. So she's to be sent there i 
a day or so. 

MuKEAY — [Springing to his feet — horrified.} 
the State Farm! 

Miss Gilpin — Her time here is long past. Ya 
know the rule — and she isn't getting better. 

McEKAT — [AppaUed} That means — ^1 

Miss Gilpin— [For c»bi^.] Death! That's i 
it means for her ! 

MuBHAY — {^Stunned.} Good God, I n 
dreamed 

Miss Gilpin — With others it might be different.^ 
They might improve under changed surroundings. 
In her case, it's certain. Shell die. And it wouldn't 
do any good to keep her here, either. She'd die 




THE STRAW 129 

lere. She'll die anywhere. She'll die because lately 
she's given up hope, she hasn't wanted to live any 
more. She's let herself go — and now it's too late. 

McBBAT — Too late? You mean there's no chance 
— ^now? [Miss Gilfin nod», Mubeay is over- 
vihelmed — after a pause — atamviering,^ Isn't there 
— anything — we can do? 

Miss Gilpin — [Sad]y.'\ I don't know. I should 
have talked to you before you — You see, she's seen 
jou now. She knows. [As he looks mystified she 
continues slowly.~\ I suppose you know that Eileen 
loves you, don't you,'' 

MuKBAY — [As if defending himself against an ac- 
cusation — -viith confused alarm.J No — Miss Gilpin, 
You're wrong, honestly. She may have felt some- 
thing like that — once — but that was long ago before 
I left the San. She's forgotten all about it since, I 
know she has. [Miss Gilpin smUes bitterly.'] Wliy, 
she never even alluded to it in any of her letters — 
all these months. 

Miss Gilpin — Did you in yours? 

MuBBAY — No, of course not. You don't under- 
stand. Why — just now- — she said that part of it 
had all been so silly slie felt she'd acted like a fool 
and didn't ever want to be reminded of it. 

Miss GiLpiN-^She saw that you didn't love her — 
any more than you did in the days before you left. 
Oh, I used to watch you then. I sensed what was 
going on between you, I would have stopped it then 
out of pity for her, if I could have, if I didn't know 



180 



THE STRAW 



that any interference would only make mattei 
worse. And then I thought that it might be only 
surface affair — that after you were gone it woi 
end for her. [She sighs — Ihen after a pause.^ 
You'll have to forgive me for speaking to you so 
boldly on a delicate subject. But, don't you see, it's 
for her sake. I love £ileen. We all do. [Averting^ 
her eyes from his — in a low voice.^ I know how 
Eileen feels, Mr. Murray. Once — a long time ago- 
I suffered as she is suffering — from this same mis- 
take. But I had resources to fall back upon that 
Eileen hasn't got — a family who loved me and un- 
derstood — friends — so I pulled through. But it 
spoiled my life for a long time. [Looking at htm 
again and forcing a smile.] So I feel that perhaps 
I have a right to speak for Eileen who has no oi 
else. 

MiJEiL,\Y — [Huskilt/ — much moved.^ Say an; 
thing to me you like, Miss Gilpin. 

Miss Gilpin — [After a pause — tadly.'] You don' 
love her — do you,'' 

MuKEAY — No— I I don't believe I've ev( 

thought much of loving anyone — that way. 

Miss Gilpin— [SfldZj/.] Oh, it's too late, Vi 
afraid. If we had only had this talk before you hi 
seen her ! I meant to talk to you frankly and if 
found out you didn't love Eileen — there was alwa; 
the forlorn hope that you might — I was going to ti 
you not to see her, for her sake — not to let her fai 
the truth. For I am sure she continued to hope h 



^S^sraJ 



.W 181 

spite of everything, and always would — to the end — 
if she didn't see jou. I was going to implore you to 
stay away, to write her letters that would encourage 
her hope, and in that way she would never learn the 
truth. I thought of writing you aU this — but — it's 
so delicate a matter — I didn't have the courage. 
[TTiiA intense grief.^ And now Doctor Stanton's 
decision to send her away makes everything doubly 
hard. When she knows that — she will throw every- 
thing that holds her to life — out of the window! 
And think of it — her dying there alone! 

McKRAY — IVerp pale.~\ Don't! That shan't hap- 
pen. I can at least save her from that, I have 
money enough — 111 make more — to send her any 
place you tliink 

Miss Gilpin— That is something — ^but it doesn't 
touch the source of her unhappiness. If there were 
only some way to make her happy in the little time 
that is left to her ! She has suffered so much through 
you. Oh, Mr, Murray, can't you tell her you love 
her? 

MrBEAY — [After a pause — slojdy.'] But she'll 
never believe me, I'm afraid, now. 

Miss Gilpin — [Eagerlif.^ But you must make 
her believe! And you must ask her to marry you. 
If you're engaged it will give you the right in her 
eyes to take her away. You can take her to some 
private San. There's a small place but a very good 
one at White Lake. It's not too expensive, and it's 
ft beautiful spot, out of the world, and you can live 



1 




THE STRAW 

and Tork nearby. And she'll be happy to the ve 
last. Don't you think that's something — ^the h 
you have — the best you can give in return for I 
love for you? 

Murray — ISlowlf/ — deeply mo'oed.'] Yes. [7^ 
determinedli/.^ But I won't go into this thing t 
halves. It isn't fair to her. I'm going to man 
her — yes, I mean it. I owe her that if it will male 
her happy. But to ask her without really meanioj 
it — knowing she — no, I can't do that. 

Miss Gilpin — {^With a sad smile.'] I'm glad yoi 
feel that way. It shouldn't be hard now for you t 
convince her. But I know Eileen. She will neve 
consent — for your sake — until she is well ; 
And stop and think, Mr. Murray. Even if she dii 
consent to marry you right now the shock — the t 
citement — it would be suicide for her. I would ha* 
to warn her against it myself ; and you wouldn't pro 
pose it if you knew the danger to her in her present 
condition. She hasn't long to live, at best, I've 
talked with Dr. Stanton, I know. God knows I 
would be the first one to hold out hope if there was 
any. There isn't. It's merely a case of prolonging 
the short time left to her and making It happy. You 
must bear that in niind — as a fact ! 

McRRAY- — [Dullff.^ All right, T\\ remember. 
But it's hell to realize [He turns suddenly to- 
ward the porch door.] I'll go out to her now while 
I feel — that — yes, I know I can make her believe me 
now. 



133 

Miss Gupin — You'll tell me — later on? 

Mdkkat — Ves. [^He opens the door to the porch 
and goes out. Miss Giipin standi for a moment 
looking after him worriedly. Then she sighs help- 
leatly and goes out to the hall. Mdrrat steps notse- 
lessly out on the porch. Eileen is lying motionless 
with her eyes closed. Muerat stands looking at her, 
his face showing the emotional stress he is under, a 
great pitying tenderness in his eyes. Tlien he seems 
to come to a revealing decision on what is best to do 
for he tiptoes to the bedside and bending down with 
a quick movement, takes her in his arm, and kisses 
her-l Eileen ! 

Eii-EEN — [Startled at first, resists automatically 
for a moment.^ Stephen! [Then she succumbs and 
lies back in his arms with a happy sigh, putting 
both hands to the sides of his face and staring up 
at him adoringly-l Stephen, dear! 

MuBRAT — [Quickly questioning her before she can 
question him."] You were fibbing — about that night 
— weren't you? Yon do love rae, don't you, Eileen? 

Eileen — [Breathlessly.^ Yes — I — ^but you, Ste- 
phen — you don't love me. [She makes a movement 
as if to escape from his embrace.^ 

MiTRBAY — [Genuinely moved — with tender reas- 
surance.'] Why do you suppose I came way up here 
if not to tell you I did? But they warned me — Miss 
Gilpin — that you were still weak and that I mustn*t 
excite you in any way. And I — T didn't want — but 
I had to come back and tell you in spite of them. 



1S4 



IfflB flTRAW 



Eileen — {Convinced — with a happy laugh.'] 
is that why jou act«<l so strangi; — and cold? Aren' 
they silly to tell you that! As if being happy couli 
hurt me! Why, it's just that, just you I've needed 

MuEBAT — [Hit voice trembling.^ And youl 
marry me, Eileen? 

En-EEN — [A shadow of doubt crossing her fac 
momentaTilg.'] Are you sure — you want mi 
Stephen ? 

Mpbbat — [A lump in hit throat — htitkily.~^ Ya 
I do want you, Eileen. 

Eileen — [HappUy.^ Then I will — after I'mwd 
again, of course. [She Jcittei kim.'\ 

MnnsAY — [Chokingly.} 'Hiat won't be longnoifi 
Eileen. 

Eileen — [Joyovaly,^ Vo — not long — now th» 
I'm happy for once in my life. I'll surprise yoii 
Stephen, the way I'll pick up and grow fat am 
healthy. You won't know me in a month. How cafl 
you ever love such a skinny homely thing as I a 
now! [With a laugh.'\ I couldn't if I was a man- 
love such a fright. 

Mttkray^ — Ssshh ! 

Eileen — [Confidently.'] But you'll see now. I 
make myself get well. We won't have to wait Ion 
dear. And can't you move up to the town near her 
where you can see me every day, and you can t 
and I can help you with your stories just as I usee 
to — and m soon be strong enough to do your typinj 
again. [She laughs.} Listen to me — talking abou 



THE STRAW 135 

helping you — as if they weren't all your own wort, 
those blessed stories!— as if I had aoything to do 
with it ! 

MuBBAT — IHoanely.J You had ! You did ! 
They're yours. [Trying to calm himself-l But you 
mustn't stay here, Eileen, You'll let me take you 
away, won't you? — to a better place — not far away 
— ^White Lake, it's called. There's a small private 
sanatorium there. Doctor Stanton says it's one of 
the best. And I'll live nearby — it's a beautiful spot 
— and see you every day. 

Efleen — [In tlie seventh heaven-l And did you 
I plan out all this for me beforehand, Stephen? [He 
' nodt with averted eyes. She kis»es Ma hair.^ You 
wonderful, kind dear ! And it's a small place — this 
^Tiite Lake? Then we won't have so many people 
around to disturb us, will we? We'U be all to oui^ 
selTes. And you ought to work so well up there. I 
know New York wasn't good for you — alone — with- 
out me. And 111 get well and strong bo quick ! And 
Jou say it's a beautiful place? [Intensely.'] Oh, 
Stephen, any place in the world would be beautiful 
to me — if you were with me ! [His face is hidden m 
Ih pillow beside her. She is suddenly startled by a 
muffled sob — atiaiously.l Why — Stephen — you're 
I — yoa're crying! [The tears start to her otcn 

Mpbbat — [Saising his face mhich is this time 
alight with a passionate awakening — a revelation,} 



186 THE STRAW 

Oh, I do love you, Eileen ! I do ! I love you, love 
you! 

Eileen — [Thrilled by the depth of hia preseni 
sincerity — but with a teasing laugh.^ Why, yon 
say that as if you'd just made the discovery, 
Stephen ! 

Murray — Oh, what does it matter, Eileen ! I lova 
you! Oh, what a blind selfish ass IVe been! I love 
you! You are my life — everything! I love yoUj 
Eileen I I do ! I do ! And we'll be married — [Sud- 
denly his face grows frozen with horror as he remem- 
bers the doom. For the first time the grey spectre oj 
Death confronts him face to face as a menacing 
reality.^ 

Eileen — [Terrified by the look in his eyes.l What 
is it, Stephen? What— 

MuREAY^ — [With a groan — protesting half- 
aloud in a strangled voice.l No! No! It can't 

be ! My God! [He clutches her haiidt am 

hides his face in them.^ 

Eileen — [With a cry.'] Stephen! What is th) 
matter? [Her face suddenly betrays an awarenesii 
an intuitive sense of the truth.'] Oh — Stephen— 
[Then viith a childish whimper of terror.] Oh, 
Stephen, I'm going to die ! I'm going to die 

McEEAY — [Lifting his tortured face — wildly. ^ 
No! 

Eileen — [Her voice sinking to a dead whisper.l 
I'm going to die. 

MuBBAY — [Seizing her in his arms in a paasioif 



THE STRAW 137 

ate frenzy and pressing his lips to hert.^ No, Eileen, 
no, my love, no! What arc you saying? What 
could have made you think it? You — iJie? Why, 
of course, we're all going to die— but — Good God! 
What damned nonsense ! You're getting well — every 
day. Everyone — Miss Gilpin — Stanton — everyone 
told me that. I swear before God, Eileen, they did ! 
You're still weak, that's all. They said- — it won't 
be long. You mustn't think that — not now. 

Eileen — l^Miserabljf— unconvinced.^ But why 
did you look at me — that way— with that awful look 
in your eyes ? \^While she is speaking Miss Gil- 
pin enters the room from the hallway. She appears 
tcorried, agitated. She hurries toward the porch but 
itops inside the doorway, arrested by Mpkbat's 
voice.'] 

Mpekay — \_Takes Eileen by the shoulders and 
forces her to look into his eyes.~\ I wasn't thinking 

about you then No, Eileen — not you. I didn't 

mean you — but me— yes, me ! I couldn't tell you 
before. They'd warned me — not to excite you — and 
I knew that would — if you loved me. 

Eileen^ — [Staring at him with frightened amaze- 
ment.'] You mean you you're sick again? 

McBRAY — [Desperately striving to convince her.] 
Yes. I saw Stanton. I lied to you before — about 
that. It's come back on me, Eileen — you see how 
I look — I've let myself go. I don't know how to live 
without you, don't you see? And you'll — marry me 
now — without waiting — and hdp me to get well — 



138 

jou and I together — and not mind their lies — what 
thej say to prevent jouP You'll do that, Eileen? 

Eileen — I'll do anything for you And I'd 

be so happy [^She breaks down.^ But, Stephen^ 

I'm so afraid. I'm all mixed up. Oh, Stephen, I 
don't know what to believe ! 

Miss Gilpin — [IFfto has been listening thunder- 
struck to MtjaEAY's mid pleading, at last i 
up the determtTtation to interfere — steps out on thf, 
porch — in a tone of severe remonstrance. ~\ Mr. 
Murray ! 

MuRKAT — [Starts to his feet with wild, bewildered 

eyes — confusedly.^ Oh — ^you [Miss Gilpdi 

cannot restrain an exclamation of dismay as she s 
his face wrumg by despair, Eileen turns her head 
away with a little cry as if she wovld hide her face 
in the bedclothes. A sudden fierce resolution lighti 
up Muebat's countenance — hoarsely.^ You're just 
in the nick of time, Miss Gilpin! Eileen! Lbteni 
YouHl believe Miss Gilpin, won't you? She knowi 
all about it. [Eileen turns her eyes questioningl^ 
on the bewUdcred nurse.l 

Miss GiLriN— Wliat ? 

MnBRAT — [Determinedly.'] Miss Gilpin, Doctoi 
Stanton has spoken to you since he examined nns 
He must have told you the truth about me. EileeB 
doesn't believe me — when I tell her I've got T. B 
again. She thinks — ^I don't know what. I knoi 
you're not supposed to, but can't you make an es 




THE STRAW 139 

ception — in this case? Can't joa tell Eileen the 
trath? 

&I1SS Gilpin — [^Stmmed by being thus defiantly 
confronted — stammertTigl^.^ Mr. Murray! I — I — 
how can you ask 

McKKAY — [Quickli/.'\ Eileen has a right to know. 
She loves me — and I — I — love her! \^He holds her 
eyes and spcalcs aith a passion of sincerity that com- 
pels belief.^ I love her, do you hear? 

Miss Gilpik — l^Falteringly.l You — love — Eileen? 

MuaKAY — Yes! I do! [Entreatingly,} So — 
tell her — won't you? 

Miss Gupin — [^Swallowing hard. Iter eyes fitU of 
pity and sorrow fixed on Eileen.] Yes — Eileen — ^it's 
true. \_She turns away slowly toward the door.'\ 

Eileen — [m^fe a little cry of alarmed concern, 
stretches out h£r hands to Mueeat protectingly.'^ 
Poor Stephen — dear! [ff« grasps her hands and 
kisses thevt.'l 

Miss Gilpin — [In a low voice.'\ Mr. Murray. 
May I speak to you for a moment? 

McEKAY — [TFi(ft a look of questioning defiance at 
her.l Certainly. 

Miss Gilpin — [Turns to Eileen with a forced 
smile.] I won't steal him away for more than a 
moment, Eileen. [Eileen smiles happUy."^ 

MrBBAY — [Follows Miss Gilpin into the room. 
She leads him to the far end of the room near the 
door to the hall, after shutting the porch door care- 
fully behind him. He looks at her defiantly.'] Well? 



Miss Gu-pin — [In low agitated tones.'] What ha 
happened? What is the meaning — I feel as if I ma; 
have done a great wrong to myself — to you — to he 
— by that lie. And yet — something impeUed n 

Mdkkat — [Moved.'\ Don't regret it, Miss Git 
pin ! It has saved her — us. Oh, liow can I explai 
what happened? I suddenly saw — how beautiful ant 
swoet and good she is — how I couldn't bear thi 

thought of life without her — her love That! 

all. [iDeterminedli/.] She must marry me at ( 
and I will take her away — the far West — 
place Stanton thinks can help. And she can taki 
care of me— as she thinks— and I know she will grm 
well as I seem to grow well. Oh Miss Gilpin, don* 
you see? No half and half measures — no promise 
— no conditional engagements — can help us — helj 
her. We love too much! [Fiercely as if defyin 
her.] But we'll win together. We can ! We must 
There are things your doctors cannot value — cannot 
know the strength of! [Exultantly.'] You'll see! 
Ill make Eileen get well, I tell you ! Happiness will 

cure! Love is stronger than [He suddenly 

breaks down before the pitying negation she cannot 
keep from her eyes. He sinks on a chair, shoidders 
bowed, face hidden in his hands, •with a groan 0/ 
despair.] Oh, why did you give me a hopeless hope? 

JVIiss Gilpin — [Putting her hand on his shovlder 
— with tender compassion — sadly.] Isn't everything 
we know — ^just that — when you think of it? [Her 
face lighting up with a consoling revelation.] But 



THE STRAW 1*1 

there must be something back of i'.— some promise of 
fulfillment, — somehow — somewhere — in the spirit of 
hope itself. 

MuREAT — [Dully.^ Yes — but what do words 
mean to me now? \^Then suddenly starting to his 
feet and fitnging off her hand with disdainful 
strength—violently and almost insvltingly.'\ What 
damned rot ! I tell you we'll win ! We must ! Oh, 
I'm a fool to waste words on you! What can you 
know? Love isn't in the materia medica. Your 
predictions— all the verdicts of all the doctors — 
what do they matter to me? This is — beyond you! 
And we'll win in spite of you! [Scornfully.^ How 
dare you use the word hopeless — as if it were the 
last ! Come now, confess, damn it ! There's always 
hope, isn't there? What do you know? Can you 
say you know anything? 

Miss Gn-vrs— -[Taken aback by his violence for a 
moment, finally bursts into a laugh of help- 
lessness which is close to tears,'] I? I know nothing 
— absolutely nothing! God bless you both! [She 
raises her handkerchief to her eyes and hurries out 
to the hallway without turning her head. Muehay 
stands looking after her for a moment; then strides 
out to the porc7(.] 

EiXEEN — [Tuming and greeting him with a shy 
smite of happiness as he comes and kneels by her 
bedside.'^ Stephen ! [He kisses her. She strokes 
hit hair and continues in a tone of motherly, sdf- 
forgettvag solicitude.'] I'll have to loot out for you, 



142 THE STRAW 

Stephen, won't I? From now on? And see that you 
rest so many hours a day — and drink your milk 
when I drink mine — and go to bed at nine sharp 
when I do— and obey everything I tell you— and 

IThe Curtain FalW} 



THE EMPEROR JONES 



CHARACTERS 

Brutus Jones^ Emperor, 

Henry Smithers^ A Cockney Trader. 

An Old Native Woman. 

Lem^ a Naiive Chief, 

Soldiers^ Adherents of Lem, 

The Little Formless Fearf>; Jeff; The 

Negro Convicts; The Prison Guard; 

The Planters; The Auctioneer; The 

Slaves; The Congo Witch-Doctor; The 

Crocodile God. 

The action of the play takes place on an 
island in the West Indies as yet not self- 
determined hy White Marines, The form 
of native government is, for the time be- 
ing, an Empire. 



SCENE ONE 



iCEUE — The audience chambeT in the palace of the 
Emperor — ~a spacious, kigli^ceiiinged room 
with bare, white-washed wails. TJie floor is of 
ahite tUes. In the rear, to the left of center, 
a wide archway gvvvng out on a- portico with 
white pillars. The palace is evidently situated 
on high ground for beyond the portico TWthing 
can be seen but a 7>ista of distant hills, their 
summits crowned with thick groves of pal^n 
trees. In the right wall, center, a smaller 
arched doorway leading to the limng quarters 
of the palace. The room is bare of furniture 
with the exception of one huge chair made of 
vmcut wood which sta/nds at center, its back 
to rear. This is very apparently tite Em- 
peror's throne. It is painted a dazzling, eye- 
smiting scarlet. There is a brilliant orange 
cushion on the seat and anotlier sjmUler one is 
placed on the floor to seme as a footstool. 
Strips of Tnattin-g, dyed scarlet, lead from the 
foot of the throne to the two entrances. 

It is late afternoon but the sunlight still 
blazes yellowly beyond the portico a/nd there is 
an oppressive burden of exhausting heat in the 



147 



148 THE EMPEROR JONES 

As the cwrtain rUes^ a natifoe negro wanuui 
tneaks in ccmtiously from the enirance on the 
right. She is very old, dressed in cheap calico, 
hare-footed, a red bandana handkerchief cov- 
ering all hut a few stray wisps of white hair, 
A hti/ndle hound in colored cloth is carried over 
her shoulder on the end of a stick. She hesi- 
tates beside the doorway, peering back as if in 
extreme dread of being discovered. Then she 
begins to glide noiselessly, a step at a time, 
toward the doorway in the rear. At this nuh 
ment, Smithees appears beneath the portico. 

Smithees is a toll, stoop-shouldered num 
about forty. His bald head, perched on a long 
neck with an enormotis AdcmCs apple, lookt 
like am, egg. The tropics have tanned his not" 
uraUy pasty face with ifs small, sharp fea- 
tures to a sickly yellow, amd native rv/m has 
painted his pointed 7U)se to a startling red. 
His little, washy-blue eyes are red-rimmed and 
dart about him like a ferrefs. His expression 
is one of unscrupulous meanmess, cowardly and 
dangerous. He is dressed in a worn riding suit 
of dirty white drill, puttees, spurs, and wears a 
white cork helmst. A cartridge belt with an 
automatic revolver is around his waist. He 
carries a riding whip in his hand. He sees tii£ 
woman amd stops to watch her suspiciously. 
Then, making up his mind, he steps quickly on 
tiptoe into the room. The wommi, looking back 



U9 

enter h£r ahtyidder contirvaaH-y, doeg not see him 
untU it is too iMe. When she does Smithebs 
spriuigs forward and grabs her firndi/ by the 
ahovider. She struggles to get ateay, fiercely 
but silently. 

S'niTs.Eiis~~\_Tightening his grasp — roughly.^ 
Easy 1 None o' that, me birdie. You can't wriggle 
out now. I got me 'ooks on yer. 

Woman — {^Seeing the uselessness of struggling, 
gives way to framtic terror, and sinks to the grou/nd, 
embracing his hnees supplicatingly.l No tell him ! 
No tell him, Mister! 

Smithess — [TFtffe great curiosily.1 Tell 'im? 
\^Then scomftdly.] Oh, you mean 'is bloomin' 
ilajesty. What's the gaime, any 'ow? What are 
you sneakin* away for? Been stealin' a bit, I s'pose, 
\^He taps her bundle with his riding whip signifi- 
cantly. J 

Woman — [Shaking her head vehemently.'] No, 
me no steal. 

Smithehs — Bloody liar! But tell me what's up. 
There's somethin' funny goin' on. I smelled it in 
tlie air first thing I got up this momin'. You blacks 
are up to some devilment. This palace of 'is is like 
a bleedin' tomb. Where's all the 'ands? [The 
leoman keeps sullenly silent, SMirHERS raises his 
whip threateningly.] Ow, yer won't, won't yer? 

I show yer what's what, 
VoKAK — [^Cowringly,] I tell. Mister You no 



150 THE EMPEROR JONES 

hit. They go — all go. {^She makes a sweeping ges- 
ture toward the hSLs in the distance.'] 

Smit9£ES — ^Run away — to the 'Ills? 

Woman — ^Yes, Mister. Him Emperor — Great 
Father. [^She touches her forehead to the floor with 
a quick mechanical jerk.l Him sleep after eat. 
Then they go — ^all go. Me old woman. Me left 
only. Now me go too. 

SMPrHEBS— [^«» astomshment giving way to cm 
immense J mean, satisfaction^ Ow! So that's the 
ticket ! WeU, I know bloody well wot's in the air — 
when they runs orf to the 'ills. The tom-tom '11 
be thumping out there bloomin' soon. \With ex- 
treme vindictvoeness.] And I'm bloody glad of it, 
f6r one! Serve 'im right! Puttin' on airs, the 
stinkin' nigger! 'Is Majesty! Gawd blimey! I 
only 'opes I'm there when they takes 'im out to 
shoot 'im. [Sudderdj/.'] 'E's still 'ere all right, 
ain't 'e? 

Woman — ^Yes. Him sleep. 

Smithees — 'E's bound to find out soon as 'e 
wakes up. 'E's cunnin' enough to know when 'is 
time's come. \_He goes to the doorway on right and 
whistles shrilly with his pagers in his mouth. The 
old wom^jm springs to her feet amd rwns out of the 
doorway^ rear. Smithees goes after her^ reaching 
for his revolver.'] Stop or I'll shoot! [TAai 
stopping — indifferently,] Pop orf then, if yer like, 
yer black cow. \_He stands in the doorway, looking 
<ifter her.] 




TMv". emperor JONES 



[Jones eaters from, the right. He is a 
tail, powerfulliz-buUt, fuU-blooded negTO'of 
■middle age. His features are typicaiiy 
negroid, yet there is something decidedly dis- 
tinctive about his face — <m wnderiymg 
strength of wUl, a hardy, sdf-reliani con- 
fidence M» himsdf that inspires respect. His 
eyes are alive mth a keen, cimning intelli- 
gence. In maimer he is shrewd, snspiciov^, 
evasive. He wears a light blue v/niform coat, 
sprayed with brass buttons, heavy gold 
cheoTom on his shotdders, gold braid on the 
coUar, cuffs, etc His pants are bright red 
with a light hive stripe down the side. Pat- 
ent leather laced boots with brass spurs, and 
a bdt with a long-barrded, pearl-handled 
revolver in a holster complete his make up. 
Yet there is something not altogether 
ridiculous about hig grandeur. He has a 
way of carrying it off.l 
Jones — [Not seeing anyone — greatly irritated 
and blinking sleepily — shouts.^ Who dare whistle dat 
way in my palace F Who dare wake up de Em- 
peror? I'll git de hide frayled off some o' you nig- 
gers sho'! 

Smithess — [Showing himself — mi a manner htdf- 

afraid and half -defiant. '\ It was me whistled to 

yer. [As Jones frowns amgrHy.^ I got news for 

P yer. 



1 



Jones — [Putting on kis suavest 



which 



ISC 



THE 1 



P^&S 



failt to cover up hi* contempt for the white man.] 
Oh, it's you. Mister Smithers. [ffr tita doxen on hit 
throne vith easy digttity.^ What news you got to 
tell tne? 

Smtthehs — [Coming clou to enjoif hi» ditcomfi- 
ture-l Dop't yer notice nothin' funny today? 

JoVKa-^[Coldlf/.1 Funny? No. I ain't per- 
ceived nothin' of de kind ! 

Smithers — Then yer ain't so foxy as I thou^t 
yer was. Where's all your court? [SarcaxticaUy] 
the Generals and the Cabinet Ministers and all? 

JoN£s — [Imperliirbabltf.] Where dey mostly 
runs to minute I closes my eyes — drinkin' mm and 
talkin' big down in dc town. [Sarctuticallp.'] Ho^ 
come you don't know dat? Ain't you sousin' with 
'em most every day? 

SsnTiiEBs — [Stwnij but pretending indifference— 
with a wink.l That's part of the day's work. I got 
tcr — ain't I — in my business? 

Jones — [Contemptuonsly.l Yo' business! 

Smithees — {^Imprudently enraged,^ Gawd blimev, 
you was glad enough for me ter take yer in on it 
when 30U landed here first. You didn' 'ave no 'igii 
and mighty airs in them days ! 

Jones— [Hi* hand going to his revolver like a 
flash — menacingly.'] Talk polite, white man! Talk 
polite, you heah me ! I'm bosslheah now, is you fer- 
gettin'? [The Cockney s^emg about to challenge tVu 
la^t ttatement with the facts but tometfang in tht 
other's eyes holds avd cowes Tim.] 




THE EMPEROK JONES 

MITHSR9 — [In a cowardly wkine.'] No 'arm " 
meant, old top. 

Jones — [Ccmd^scendwiglt/.^ I accepts yo' apol- 
ogy. [Lets his hand fall from JUs revolver.'] No 
use'n you rakin' up ole times. What I was den ia 
one thing. What I is now 's another. You didn't let 
me in on yo' crooked work out o' no kind feelin's dat 
time. I done de dirty work fo' you — and most o' de 
brain work, too, fo' dat matter— and I was wu'th 
money to you, dat's de reason. 

Smitheks — Well, blimey, I give yer a start, didn't 
I — when no one else would. I wasn't afraid to 'ire 
yer like tlie rest was — 'count of tlie story about your 
breakin' jail back in the States, 

Jones — No, you didn't have no s'cnse to look 
down on me fo' dat. You been in jail you'self more'n 
once. 

Smithebs — [Furioitilp.'l It's a lie! [Then try- 
ing to pass it off bi/ an attempt at scorn.] Gam! 
Who told yer that fairy tale? 

JoxES — Dey's some tings I ain't got to be tole, I 
liin see 'em in folk's eyes. [Tlien after a pause —  
"meditatiz'ely.l Yes, you sho' give me a start. And 
it didn't take long from dat time to git dese fool, 
woods' niggers right where I wanted dem. [TTttA 
jiride.'] From stowaway to Emperor in two years! 
TJat's goin' some! 

Smitheeb — [H'tfA curiogity.'\ And I bet you got 
yer pile o' money 'id safe some place. 

JoxEs — [Wiffi. satisfaction.] I sho' has! And 



154 



THE EMPEROR iTONfiS 



it's in a foreign bank nhere no pusson don't eror p 
it out but me no matter what come. Yoq didn* 
s'pose I was lioldin' down dis Emperor job for d 
glory in it, did jou? Sho'! De fuss and glory j 
of it, dat's only to turn de heads o* de low-ti 
hush niggers dat's here. Dey wants de big circa 
show for deir money. I gives it to *em an' I gits d 
money. [With a yrw*.] De long green, dat's i 
every time! [Then rcbuHnglj/.] But you ain't go! 
no kick agin me, Smithers. I'se paid you back i 
you done for me many times. Ain't I pertected yott 
and n-inked at all de crooked tradin' you been doiiL* 
right out in de broad day. Sho* I has — and i 
niakin' laws to stop it at de same time! [B 
chuckhi.l 

Smithers- — [Gnnnwif/.] But, meanin' no' 'arm 
you been grabbin' right and left yourself, ain't yerf 
Iiook at the taxes you've put on 'em ! Blimey 
You've squeezed 'em dry! 

Jones — [Chuckling.'] No, dey ain't oU dry yet 
I'se still heah, ain't I? 

Smithers — [SviHing at hit secret /ftou^tJ 
They're dry right now, you'll find out, [Ch4mgiin 
the avbject ahmptly.'\ And as for me breakil 
laws, you've broke 'em all jerself just as fast as yi 
made 'em. 

Jones — ^Ain't I de Emperor? De laws don't f 
for him. [JudiciaUy-] You hcah what I tells j-oS 
Smithers. Dere's little stealin' like you does, an 
dere's big stealin' like I does. For de little stealill 



THE EMPEROR JONES 165 

dey gits jou in jail soon or late. For de big stealin' 
dey mates jou Emperor and puts you in de Hall o' 
Fame when you croaks. [Reminiscentlj/.'\ If dey'a 
one tiling I learns in ten years on de Pullman ca's 
listenin' to de white quality talk, it's dat same fact. 
And when I gits a chance to use it I winds up Em- 
peror in two years. 

Smithees — '[Unable to repress the genuine ad- 
miration of the tmaU fry for the large.~\ Yes, yer 
turned the bleedin' trick, all right, Bliiney, I never 
seen a bloke *as 'ad the bloomin' luck you 'as. 

JoMES — ISeverdy.] Luck? Wliat you mean — 
luck? 

Smitheks— I suppose you'll say as that swank 
about the silver bullet ain't luck — and that was what 
first got the fool blacks on yer side the time of the 
revolution, wasn't itP 

Jones — [TFrtA. a lav^h.^ Oh, dat silver bullet! 
Sho' was luck! But I makes dat luck, you heah? I 
loads de dice! Yessuh! When dat murderin' nigger 
ole Lem hired to kill me takes aim ten feet away and 
his gun misses fire and I shoots him dead, what you 
heah me say? 

Smithees — You said ycr'd got a charm so's no 
lead bullet'd kill yer. You was so strong only a sil- 
ver bullet could kill yer, you told 'em. Blimey, 
wasn't that swank for yer — and plain, fat-'eaded 
luck? 

Jones — [Proudlif.'\ I got brains and I uses 'era 
lick. Dat ain't luck. 



156 THE EMPEROR JONES 

SifiTHERs — ^Yer know they wasn't 'ardly liable to 
get no silver bullets. And it was luck 'e didn't 'it 
you that time. 

Jones — \_LaugJiing.'\ And dere all dem fool, bash 
niggers was kneelin' down and bumpin' deir heads on 
de ground like I was a miracle out o' de Bible. Oh 
Lawd, from dat time on I has dem all eatin' out of 
my hand. I cracks de whip and dey jumps through. 

Smithees — \_With a iniff,'] Yankee bluflF done it. 

Jones — ^Ain't a man's talkin' big what makes him 
big — ^long as he makes folks believe it? Sho', I talks 
large when I ain't got nothin' to back it up, but I 
ain't talkin' wild just de same. I knows I kin fool 
'em — ^I knows it — and dat's backin' enough fo' my 
game. And ain't I got to learn deir lingo and 
teach some of dem English befo' I kin talk to 'em? 
Ain't dat wuk? You ain't never learned ary word er 
it, Smithers, in de ten years you been heah, dough 
you' knows it's money in yo' pocket tradin' wid 'em 
if you does. But you'se too shiftless to take de 
trouble. 

Smithees — l^FltuJiing.^ Never mind about me. 
What's this I've 'eard about yer really 'avin' a sil- 
ver bullet moulded for yourself? 

Jones — ^It's playin' out my bluff. I has de silver 
bullet moulded and I tells 'em when de time comes I 
kills myself wid it. I tells 'em dat's 'cause I'm de 
on'y man in de world big enuff to git me. No use'n 
deir tryin'. And dey falls down and bumps deir 
heads. [He latighs.^ I does dat so's I kin take a 



THE EMPEROR JONES 187 

walk in peace widout no jealous nigger gunnin' at 
me from behind de trees. 

Smtthers — [^Astoiughed.^ Then you 'ad it made 

Jones — Sho' did. Heah she be. [//« taket out 
hia revolver, breaks it, and takes the silver bullet out 
of on£ cliamher.^ Five lead an' dis silver baby at dc 
last. Don't she shine pretty? [He koUh it in hia 
liand, looking at it admiringly, as if stramgely fat- 
cinated.^ 

Smithers— Let me see. [Reaches ou-t his hand 
for »7.] 

Jones — [Harahly,'\ Keep yo' hands whar dey 
blong, white man. [He replacet it in, the chamber 
and puts the revolver back on his Wp.] 

Smithers — [Snarling.l Gawd blimey I Think 
I'm a bleedin' thief, you would. 

Jones — No, 'tain't dat. I knows you'se scared to 
steal from me. On'y I ain't 'lowin' nary body to 
touch dis baby. She's my rabbit's foot. 
, SftirrnEKS — -[Sneering.l A bloomin' charm, wot? 
[Veno'inoudi/.'] Well, you'll need all the bloody 
charms you 'as before long, s' 'elp me ! 

Jones — [Judicially-I Oh, I'se good for six 
months yit 'fore dey gits sick o' ray game. Den, 
when I sees trouble comin', I makes my getaway. 

Smithers — Ho! You got it all planned, ain't 
yer? 

Jones— I ain't no fool. I knows dis Emperor's 
time Is sho't. Dat why I make hay when de sun 



158 



THE ESfPKEtWt' j<3!*feg 



shine. Was you thinkin' I'ee ainuD* to hold dm 
dis job for life? Xo, suh! What good is gitti 
money if you stays back in dis raggedy country? 
wants action when I spends. And when I sees de 
niggers gitlin' up deir nerve to tu*n me out, and Pi 
got all de money in si^t, I resigns on de spot 
beats it quick. 

Smituebs — Where to? 
JoXES — None o' yo' business. 
SuiTBEBS — Not back to the bloody States, 111 la 
my oath. 

Jones — [Suspidoutly.l Why don't I? [' 
anth an eaty latigk.'\ You mean 'count of dat stoi 
'bout me breakin* from jail back dere? Dat's f 
talk. 

Smithehs — \^SkeplicaUy.1 Ho, yes! 
Jones — [Sharplif.'] You ain't *sinuatin* Fse 
liar, is you? 

Smithees — [HattSy.J; No, Gawd strike me! I 
was only thiniin' o' the bloody lies you told the 
blacks 'ere about kill in* white men in the States. 
Jones — [Angered.^ How come dey're lies? 
Smithees — You'd 'ave been in jail_ if you 'ad, 
wouldn't yer then? [Withvenom.il And from what 
I've 'eard, it ain't 'ealthy for a black to kill a white 
man in the States, They bums 'em in oil, don't 
they? 

JoNzs — [TTJiA cool deadlmest.'] You mean lynch- 
in' 'd scare me? Well, I tells you, Smithers, maybe I 
does kill one white man back dere. Maybe I docs. 



THE EMPEROR JONES 169 

And maybe I kills another right heah 'fore long if he 
don't look out. 

Smitheks — {^Trying to force a laugk.] I was on'y 
spootin* yer. Can't yer take a joke? And you was 
just sayin' you'd never been in jail. 

Jones — [/?i the tame torts — slightly hoastftd.'] 
Maybe I goes to jail dere for gettin' in an argument 
wid razors ovah a crap game. Maybe I gits twenty 
years when dat colored man die. Maybe I gits in 
'nother argument wid de prison guard was overseer 
ovah us when we're wukin* de roads. Maybe he hits 
me wid a whip and I splits his head wid a shovel and 
runs away and iiles de chain off my leg and ^ts away 
safe. Maybe I does all dat an* maybe I don't. It's 
a. story I tells you so's you knows I'se de kind of 
man dat if you evah repeats one words of it, I ends 
yo' stealin' on dis yearth mighty damn quick ! 

Smitheks — [Terrified.^ Think I'd peach on yer? 
Not me! Ain't I always been yer friend? 

JoMEs— [.SWiiemZ^ rdaoAng.^ Sho' you has —  
and you better be. 

SanTHEEs — [Recoverijtjg ids covipoaure — and with 
it his OToiic^.] And just to show yer I'm yer friend, 
m tell yer that bit o' news I was goin' to. 

Jones— Go ahead ! Shoot de piece. Must be bad 
news from de happy way you look. 

Smithebs — [Warmngly.^ Maybe it's gettin' time 
for you to resign — with that bloomin' silver bullet, 
wot? [He feitislies with a mocking ffrtn.] 



Jones — [PiissZtd.] What's dat you say? 
plain. 

Smithehs — ^Ain't noticed any of the guards i 
servants about the place today, I 'aven't. 

Jones — [Carelesslt/,^ Dey're all out in de gardo) 
slecpin' under de trees. When I sleeps, dej sneaks I 
sleep, too, and I pretends I never suspicions it, 
I got to do is to ring de bell and dey come fljin' 
makin' a bluff dej was wukin' all de time. 

Smithees — [/n tlt^ same ■mocking tone.^ Riiq 
the bell now an' you'll bloody well see what I meanli 

Jones — IStartled to alert'Mss, hut pregeming tht 
same cardess ion*.] Sho' I rings. \^\He reaches b 
low the throne and pulls out a big, cow-mon dimHp 
bdl which is pavThied the samg vivid icariet i 
throne. He rings this vigorously — then stops to 
listen. Then he goes to both doors, rings again, and 
looks out.l 

Smitheks — [Watching him ttdth malicious tatif 
faction, after a pause — mockingly.~\ The bloodj 
ship is sinkin' an* the bleedin' rats 'as slung thei' 
'ooks. 

Jones — [In a sudden fit of anger flings the B*S 
clattering into a corner,^ Low-flung, woods* nig- 
gers ! [Th^n catching Smitliers' eye on him, he con- 
trols himself and suddenly bursts into a low chuch 
ling laugh-l Reckon I overplays my hand dis once' 
A man can't take de pot on a bob-tailed flush all de 
time. Was I sayin' I'd sit in six months mo'? Welli 



THE EMPEROR JONES 161 

I'se changed my mind den. I cashes in and resigns 
de job of Emperor right dis minute. 

Smithees — [Tr»(A real admiration,^ Blimey, but 
you're a cool bird, and no mistake. 

Jones — No use'n fussin'. When I knows de game's 
up I kisses it goodbye widout no long waits. Dey've 
all run off to de hills, ain't dey? 

Smithees— Yes — every bleedin' man jack of 'em. 

Jones — Den de revolution is at de post. And de 
Emperor better git his feet smokin' up de trail. [He 
starts for tlie door in rear.] 

Smithees — Goin' out to look for your 'orse? Yer 
won't find any. They steals tlie 'orses first tiling. 
Mine was gone when I went for 'im this momin'. 
That's wot first give me a suspicion of wot was up. 

Jones — [Alarmed for a gecond, scratches his 
liead, then philosophically.'] Well, den I hoofs it. 
Peet, do yo' duty ! [He pvlls owt a gold watch and 
looks at tf.] Three-thuty. Sundown's at six-thuty 
or dereabouts. [Puts his watch back — with cool 
confidence.] I got plenty o* time to make it easy. 

Smithees — Don't be so bloomin' sure of it. They'll 
be after you 'ot and 'eavy. Ole Lera is at the bot- 
tom o' this business an' 'e 'ates you like 'ell. 'E'd  
rather do for you than eat 'is dinner, 'e would ! 

Jones — [ScomfuUy.] Dat fool no-count nigger! 
Does you think I'se scared o' him? I stands him on 
his thick head more'n once befo' dis, and I does it 

again if he come in my way [Fiercely.] And 

dis time I leave him a dead nigger f o' sho' ! 



Smitbbes — You'll 'ave to cut through the big tof 
est — an' these blacks 'ere can sniff and follow a traj 
in the dark like 'ounds. You'd 'ave to 'ustle to | 
through tJiat forest in twelve hours even if you kneir 
all the bloomin* trails like a native. 

Jones — [H'ttA. Kulignant acom.^ Loot-a-li 
white man ! Does jou think I'se a natural bo'n fooir 
Give me credit fo' havin' some sense, fo' Lawd'i 
sake! Don't jou s'poae I'se looked ahead and made 
sho* of all de chances? I'se gone out in dat big for 
est, pretendin' to hunt, so many timts dat I knom 
it high an' low like a book. I could go through o 
dem trails wid my eyes shut. \_With great con- 
tempt,'\ Think dese ig'nerent bush niggers dat aint 
got brains cnuff to know delr own names even t 
catch Brutus Jones? Huh, I s'pecta not! Not oi 
yo' life! Why, man, de white men went after me n 
bloodhounds where I come from an' I jes' lau^s at 
*em. It's a shame to fool dese black trash around 
heah, dey're so easy. You watch me, man'. III 
make dem look sick, I will. I'll be 'cross de plai 
de edge of de forest by time dark comes. Once in de 
woods in de ni^t, dey got a swell chance o' findin.' 
dis baby! Dawn tomorrow I'll be out at de odei 
side and on de coast whar dat French gunboat il 
stayin'. She picks me up, take me to the Alartiniqne 
when she go dar, and dcre I is safe wid a migbty bij 
bankroll in my jeans. It's easy as rollin' off a log, 

Smitheks — [MalicioV'Sly,'] But s'posin' something 
'appens wrong an' they do nab yer? 



THE EMPEROR JONES 168 

JoHEs — [Decimrelff.'l Dey don't — dat'a de an- 
swer. 

Smithebs — ^But, just for argyment'a sake — 
what'd you do? 

Jones — [Fronming.^ I'se got 6ve lead bullets in 
dis gun good enuff fo' common bush niggers — and 
after dat I got de silver bullet left to cheat 'em out 
o' gittin' me. 

SiifiTHEBs — iJeermgly.l Ho, I was fergettin' 
that silver bullet. You'll bump yourself orf in style, 
won't yer? Blimey! 

Jones — [GloomUff.J You kin bet jo' whole roll 
on one thing, white man. Dis baby plays out his 
string to de end and when he quits, he quits wid a 
bang de way he ought. Silver bullet ain't none too 
good for him when he go, dat'a a f ac' ! {^Then shak- 
ing ojf his ■nervousness — wiih a confident laugk.^ 
Sho'! What is I talkin' about? Ain't come to dat 
yit and I never will — ^not wid trash niggers like dese 
yere. [^BoasifuUif.^ Silver bullet bring me luck 
anyway. I kin outguess, outrun, outfight, an' out- 
play de whole lot o' dem all ovah de board any time 
o' de day er night! You watch me! [^From the 
distant hills comes the faint, steady thwmp of a 
toin-tom, low and v&rating. It starts at a rate ex- 
actly corresponding to •normal pulse heat — 72 to 
the mimute — wad continues at a gradually accelerat- 
ing rate from this point wnhiterruptedly to the very 
end of the play.~\ 

[Jones ttarts at the lomid. A stra/nge look of 



IM 



THE EMPEROR JONES 



apprehmtion creept tnio Am face for a moment a 



> he asks, with 



ittempt to 
What's dat drum beatin' 



litteni, 

hit most casual 

fo'f 

Smithbks — [With a mean grm.^ For yoa. 
That ineaDS the bleedin' ceremony 'as started. Tve 
*eard it before and 1 knows. 

JovEB — Ccr^monv? What cer'tnony? 

Smithees — The blaclcs is 'oldin' a bloody meetin* 
'avin* a war dance, gettin' their courage worked 
up b'fore they starts after you. 

Jones— Let dem! Deyll sho' need it! 

Smith EKs — And they're there 'oldin' their 
'eathen reljpous service — raakin' no end of devil 
spells and charms to 'elp 'em ag'ainst your silver 
bullet. [He guffaws loudly.] Blimey, but they're 
balmy as 'ell ! 

Jones — [J tinp bit awed and shaken in apUe of 
himself.^ Huh! Takes more'a dat to scare dis 
chicken ! 

Smithes s — [Scenting the other's feeling — ma- 
licioualf/.l Temight when it's pitch black in the 
forest, they'll 'ave their pet devils and ghosts 
'oundin' after you. You'll find yer bloody 'air '11 
be standin' on end before termorrow tnontin'. 
[Seriously/.'} It's a bleedin' queer place, that stini- 
in' forest, even in daylight. Yer don't know irfiat 
miglit 'appen in there, it's that rotten still. Always 
sends the cold shivers down my back minute I gets 
in it. 



i 




THE EMPEROR JONES 



165 



—\^Witk a contemptuous sniff.^ I ain't 
tio chicken-liver like you is. Trees an' me, we'se 
friends, and dar's a full moon comin' bring me light. 
And let dom po' niggers make all de fool spells 
dey'se a min' to. Does yo' s'pect I'se silly enuff to 
blieve in ghosts an' ha'nts an' all dat ole woman's 
taUcP G'long, white man! You ain't talkin' to me. 
[TTtfA a chuckle.J Doesn't you know dey's got to 
do wid a man was member in good standin' o' de 
Baptist Church? Sho' I was dat when I was porter 
on de Pullmans, befo' I gits into my little trouble. 
Let dem try deir heathen tricks, De Baptist Church 
done pertect me and land dem all in hell. [Tfeew 
with jnore confident satMfaciion.'[ And I'se got 
little silver bullet o' my own, don't forgit: 

SuTTH^as — Ho ! You 'aven't give much 'eed to 
your Baptist Church since you been down 'ere. Pve 
*eard myself you 'ad turned yer coat an' was takin' 
up with their blarsted witch-docters, or whatever 
the 'ell yer calls the a wine. 

Jones — ]^VekeTnentljf.'{ I pretends to! Sho' I 
pretends ! Dat's part o' my game from de fust. If 
I finds out dem niggers believes dat black is white, 
den I yells it out louder 'n deir loudest. It don't 
pt me nothin' to do missionary work for de Baptist 
Church. I'se after de coin, an' I lays my Jesus on 
de shelf for de time bein'. \^Stops abruptly to look 
at his •match — alertlyJl But I ain't got de time 

vaste no more fool talk wid you. I'se gwine awaj 
I heah dia secon'. [He reaches in v/nder the 



166 THE EMPEROR JONES 

throne and puUi oui an expemhe Panama hat wU% 
a bright vwitircolored hand and 9et$ U jawmtUg on 
JUs head.'] So long, white man! [With a grin.] 
See you in jail sometime, maybe! 

Smttheks — ^Not me, you won't* Well, I wouldn't 
be in yer bloody boots for no bloomin' money, bat 
'ere's wishin' yer luck just the same. 

Jokes — [Contemptuously.'] You're de frighten- 
edest man evah I see ! I tells you I'se safe's 'f I was 
in New York City. It takes dem niggers from now 
to dark to git up de nerve to start somethin'. By 
dat time, I'se got a head start dey never kotch up 
wid. 

Smithebs — [Maliciously.] Give my regards to 
any ghosts yer meets up with. 

Jones — [Griivning.] If dat ghost got money, 
I'll tell him never ha'nt you less'n he wants to lose 
it. 

Smithebs — [Flattered.] Gam! [Then curi- 
ously.] Ain't yer takin' no luggage with yer? 

Jones — ^I travels light when I wants to move fast. 
And I got tinned grub buried on de edge o* de for- 
est. [BoaetfuUy.] Now say dat I don't look 
ahead an' use my brains ! [With a Teide^ liberal ges- 
ture.] I will all dat's left in de palace to you— 
and you better grab all you kin sneak away wid 
befo' dey gits here. 

Smithees — [Gratefully.] Righto — and thanks 
ter yer. [As Jones walks toward the door in rear 



THE EMPEROR JONES 167 

— cautioningli/.^ Say! Look 'ere, you ain't goin' 
out that way, are yer? 

Jones — Does you think I'd slink out de back 
door like a conunon nigger? I'se Emperor jfit, ain't 
I? And de Emperor Jones leaves de way he comes, 
and dat black trash don't dare stop him— not yit, 
leastways. [He stopi for a moment m the door- 
tea^, listening to the far-off but itisUtertt beat of 
the tom-tom,'] Listen to dat roll-call, will jou? 
Must be mighty big drum carry dat far. [Tkert 
with a latigh.'] Well, if dey ain't no whole brass 
band to see me oif, I she' got de drum part of it, 
So long, white man. [He pvts his hands in his poc- 
kets and zeith studied carelessness, Ttrhistling a time, 
he sawntera out of the doorway and off to the left.^ 

Smithebs— [Loofra after him with a puzzled ad- 
miration.] 'E'a got 'is bloomin' nerve with 'im, 
a'elp me! [Then angrily.] Ho — the bleediu' nig- 
ger — puttin' an "is bloody airs! I 'opes they nabs 
'im an' gives 'im what's what! [Then putting bursi- 
Tiesa before the pleasure of this thought, looking 
arownd him with cupidity.] A bloke ought to find 
a 'ole lot in this palace that'd go for a bit of cash. 
Let's take a look, 'Arry, me lad, [He starts for 
the doorway on right as 

[The Curtain FaUt.] 



1 



SCENE TWO: NIGHTFALL 



Scene — The end of th^ plain where the Great For- 
ett begmi. The foregrownd is sandy, /««( 
grownd dotted by a few ttones and clit-mpa of 
itwnted hxuhet cowering close agamat the earth 
to escape tlie buffeting of the trade wind. In 
tht rear the forest it a wall of darkness di- 
viding the wotid. Onti/ vhen the eye becomes 
accuaioTned to the gloom can the outlines of 
separate trunks of the nearest trees be -made 
ou-t, enormous pBlars of deeper blackness. A 
somber monotone of teind lost in the leaves 
moans in the air. Yet this sovnd serves but to 
intensify tlie impression of the forest's rdent- 
less immobility, to form a background throicing 
into relief its brooding, implacable silence. 

[Jones enters from tlie left, walking rapidly. 
He stops as lie nears tlie edge of the forest, 
looks arownd him quickly, peering into the dark 
as if searching for some famUiar landmark. 
Then, apparently satisfied that he is where hf 
ought to be, lie throws himself on the groumd, 
dog^tired.^ 

Well, heah I is. In de nick o' time, too! Little 
mo' an' it'd be blacker'n de aco of spades heah- 



THE EMPEROR JONES 169 

&bouts. [He pulls a bandana handkerchief from his 
hip pocket and mops off his perspiring face.J Sho' ! 
Gimme air! I'se tuckered out sho' 'nuff. Dat soft 
Emperor job ain't no trainin' for* a. long hike ovah 
dat plain in de brilin' sun. [Then reith a chuckle.l 
Cheah up, nigger, de worst is yet to come, [He 
lifts liis head and stares at th^ forest. His chuckle 
peters out abruptly. In a tone of anre.1 My good- 
ness, look at dcni woods, will you? Dat no-count 
Smithers said dey'd be black an' he sho' called de 
turn. iTuming away fro-m them quickly and looking 
down at his feet, he snatches at a chance to change 
the subject-solicitously.^ Feet, you is holdin' up 
yo' end fine an' I sutinly hopes you ain't blistcrin' 
none. It's time you git a rest. [He takes off his 
shoes, his eyes studiously avoiding the forest. He 
feels of the soles of his feet gingerly,'] You is still 
in de pink — on'y a little mite feverish. Cool yo'- 
selfs. Remember you done got a long journey yit 
befo' you, [He sits in a weary attitude, listening to 
tlie rhythmic heating of th-e tom-tom. He gru-uAles 
i(ri a loud tone to cover up a growing uneasiTiess.'\ 
Bush niggers! Wonder dcy wotddn' git sick o' boat- 
in' dat drum. Sound louder, seem like. 1 wonder if 
dey's startin' after meP [He scrambles to his feet, 
looking back across the plain.] Couldn't see dem 
now, nohow, if dey was hundred feet away. [Then 
shaking himself like a wet dog to get rid of these 
depressing thoughts.] Sho', dey's miles an' miles 
behind. Wbat you gittin' fidgetty about? [But he 



170 



THE EMPEROR JONISS' 



tilt down and begins to lace up hit shoea in great 
Jiaste, aU the tim^ muttering rcatttiringlff,^ You 
know what? W belly is empty, dat's what's ile 
matter wid yoii. Come time to eat ! Wid nothin' 
but wind on yo' stumach, o' course you feels jiggedj. 
Well, we eats right heah an' now soon's I gits dese 
pesky shoes laced up. [He finithes lacing up /i« 
tkoet.^ Dere! Now le's see! [Grtt on Am haridi 
arid hneei and tearchet the ground around him with 
I eyea.'\ White stone, white stone, where is you? 
Kfff sees the first johite stone and crawls to it — < 
inth satisfaction.^ Heah you is! I knowed dis was 
de right place. Box of grub, come to me. [He 
turns over the ston£ and feels in wnder U — in a time 
of dismay.^ Ain't heah! Gorry, is I in de right 
place or isn't I? Dere's 'nother stone. Guess dat's 
it. [He scrambles to tlie next stone and tumi it 
over.] Ain't heah, neither! Grub, whar is you? 
Ain't heah. Gorry, has I got to go hungry into 
dem woods — all de night? [WhUe he is talking ke 
scrambles from on£ stone to another, turning them 
over in frantic haste. Finally, he jumps to his feet 
excitedly.] Is I lost de place? Must have! But 
how dat happen when I was followin' de trail across 
de plain in broad da3lightF [Almost plaiatively.] 
I'se hungry, I is! I gotta git my feed. Whar's 
my strength gonna come from if I doesn't? Gorry, 
I gotta find dat grub high an' low somehow! Why 
it come dark so quick like dat? Can't see nothin'- 
iHe scratches a match on liis trousers amd peers 



THE EMPEROR JONES 171 

tit him. The Tate of the beat of the far-off torn-- 
VfOTa increases perceptibli/ as he does so. He mut- 
Wters tft a hewddered voice.'\ How come all dese 
white stoEcs come heah when I only remembers one? 
[^Suddenly, with a frightened gasp, he (lings th£ 
match on the gromul omd sto/mps on it,'] Nigger, 
is you gone crazy mad? Is you lightin' matches 
to show dem whar you isP Fo* Lawd's sake, use 
yo' haid. Gorry, I'se got to be careful! \^He 
stares at tJie plain beltirid him apprehensively, 
his hand on iUs revolver.^ But how come all dese 
white stones? And whar's dat tin bos o' grub I hid 
n^ wrapped up in oil cloth? 

[WfiUe his back is turned, the Little Formless 
uiHS creep out from, the deeper blackness of tlie 
^rest. They are black, shapeless, only their glit- 
rring little eyes can be seen. If they have any de- 
scribable form at all it is that of a grubwonn about 
the size of a creeping child. They move noiselessly, 
but zeith ddiberate, painful effort, striving to raise 
themselves on end, failing and sinking prone again. 
Jokes turns about to face the forest. He stares up 
, at the tops of the trees, seeking vainly to discover 
^tit whereabouts by their conformation,'] 
W Can't tell nothin' from dem trees ! Gorry, nothin' 
*round heah look like 1 evah seed it befo'. I'se done 
]ost de place she' 'nuff! [^With mournful forebod- 
ing.] It's mighty queer! It's mighty queer! 
[iriife sudden forced defiance — in an angry to-ne.] 
Woods, is you tryin' to put somethin' ovah on me? 



172 THE EMPEROR JONES 

\_From the formless creatures on the grotmd in 
front of him comes a tiny gale of low mocking 
laughter like a rustling of leaves. They squirm up- 
ward toward him m twisted attitudes. Jones looks 
down, leaps backward with a ydl of terror, yamking 
out his revolver as he does so — m a quavering 
voice. '\ What's dat? Who's dar? What is you? 
Git away from me befo' I shoots you up! You 
don't? 

[He fires. There is a flash, a lovd report, then 
silence broken only by the far-off, quickened throb 
of the tom-tom. The formless creatures have scur- 
ried back into the forest. Jones remains fixed in 
his position^ listening intently. The sownd of the 
shot, the reassuring feel of the revolver in his hand, 
have somewhat restored his shaken nerve. He ad- 
dresses himself with renewed confidence. 1 

Dey're gone. Dat shot fix 'em. Dey was only 
little animals — ^little wild pigs, I reckon. Dey've 
maybe rooted out yo' grub an' eat it. She', you 
fool nigger, what you think dey is — ^ha'nts? [Ex- 
citedly.^ Gorry, you give de game away when 
you fire dat shot. Dem niggers heah dat f o' su'tin ! 
Time you beat it in de woods widout no long waits. 
[He starts for the forest — hesitates before the 
plwnge — then urging himself in with m/mful resolu- 
tion.^ Git in, nigger ! What you skeered at? Ain't 
nothin' dere but de trees! Git in! [He plwnges 
boldly into the forest."] 



SCENE THREE 



Scene — Nine o'clock. In the forest. The moon 

has just risen. Its beams, drifting through the 

canopif of leaves, make a barely perceptible, 

»v,ffused, eerie glow. A d^m^e law 'wall of under- 

^H bruah and creepers is in ike nearer foregroimd, 

^H fencing in a small triangvlar clearing. Be- 

^* ffond this is the massed blackness of the forest 

like an, encompassing barrier. A path is diinltf 

discerned leading domn to the clearing from 

left, rear, and winding away from it again 

toward the right. As the scene opens nothing 

can be distinctly mjide out. Except for the 

beating of the tom-tom, which is a trifle louder 

and quicker tham^ in the previous scene, there 

I is sHence, broken every few seconds by a queer, 
clicking sownd. Then gradually the figure of 
the negro, Jeff, can be discerned crouching on 
his hawnches at the rear of the triangle. He 
is middle-aged, thin, brown in color, is dressed 
in a Pullman porter's uniform, cap, etc. He 
is throwing a pair of dice on the ground before 
him, picking them up, shaking them, casting 
them out with the regular, rigid, mechanical 
movements of an automaton. The heavy, plod- 



174 THE EMPEROR JONES 

ding foottteps of someone approaching alonff 
the trail from the left are heard and Joneb' 
voice, pitched in a slightly higher key and 
strained in a cheering effort to overcome iti 
own tremors. 

De moon's rizen. Does you heah dat, nigger? Yon 
gits more light from dis out. No mo' buttin' yo' 
fool head agin' de trunks an' scratchin' de hide off 
yo' legs in de bushes. Now you sees whar yo'se 
gwine. So cheer up ! From now on you has a snap. 
[He steps just to the rear of the triangvlar clears 
mg and mops off his face on his sleeve. He has lost 
his Pa/na/ma hat. His face is scratched, his brU- 
li<mt wniform shows several large rents.l What 
time's it gittin' to be, I wonder? I dassent light nO 
match to find out. Phoo'. It's wa'm an' dats a f ac' 1 
[Wearily.] How long I been makin' tracks ia 
dese woods? Must be hours an' hours. Seems likft 
fo'evah! Yit can't be, when de moon's jes' riz. Dia 
am a long night fo' yo*, yo' Majesty! [With 
mournful chuckle.'] Majesty ! Der ain't much 
majesty 'bout dis baby now. \^With attempted 
cheerfulness.] Never min'. It's all part o' de game, 
Dis night come to an end like everything else. And 
when you gits dar safe and has dat bankroll in yo' 
bands you laughs at aU dis. [He starts to whistle 
but checks himself abruptly,'] What yo' whistlin' 
for, you po' dope ! Want all de worl' to heah youP 




THE EMPEROR JONES 

\He itopi talking to lirlen.l Heah dat ole dmm! 
Sho' gits nearer from de sound. Dey're packin' it 
along wid 'em. Time fo' me to move. \^He takes 
a step forward, then, stops — worriedly.l 'What's 
dat odder queer clicketty sound I heah? Dere it ia! 
Sound close! Sound like — sound like — Fo' God 
sake, sound like some nigger was shootin' crap! 
[Fnghtertedly.'\ I better beat it quick when I gits 
dem notions. [He zealks quickly mto the clear space 
— then sta-nds transfixed as he sees Jeff — in a ter- 
rified gasp,^ Who dar? Who dat? Is dat you, 
Jeff? [Starting toward tlie other, forgetful for a 
moment of his s^irrovmdings and really helietAng it is 
a living man that he sees — vn a tone of happy re- 
lief.^ Jeff ! I'se sho' mighty glad to see you \ Dey 
tol' me you done died from dat razor cut I gives 
you. [Stopping suddenly, beK/Uderedly.l But how 
you come to be heah, nigger? [He stares fascinat- 
edly at the otlier wlio continues his mechanical play 
Tenth the dice, Jones' eyes begin to roll toildly. He 
stv.tters.'\ Ain't you gwine — look up — can't you 
speak to me? Is you — is you — a ha'nt? [He jerks 
oat Ms revolver in a frens:y of terrified rage.^ Nig- 
ger, I kills you dead once. Has I got to kill you 
agin? You take it den. [He fires. When the smoke 
clears a>way Jeff has disappeared. Jones stands 
trembUng—llien with a certain reassurance. "] He's 
gone, anyway. Ha'nt or no ha'nt, dat shot fix him. 
[The beat of tlie far-off tom-tom is perceptibly 
ider and more rapid. Jokes becomes conscious 



176 THE EMPEROR JONES 

of it — with a itartf looking back over hit shotJder.'] 
Dey's gittin* near ! Dey^se comin' fast ! And heah 
I is shootin' shots to let 'em know jes' whar I is. 
Oh, Gorry, I'se got to run. {^ForgeHting the path 
he pltmges wUdly mto the umderhnuh m the rear and 
disappears in the shadow.J 



SCENE FOUR 

JENE — Eleven o^clock. In the forest. A wide 
dirt road runs diagonally from rights fronts to 
left, rear. Rising sheer on both sides the for- 
est walls it in. The moon is now up. Under 
its light the road glimmers ghastly and unreal. 
It is as if the forest had stood aside mom^^ 
tarUy to let the road pass through and ac* 
complish its veiled purpose. This done, the 
forest wUl fold in upon itself again a4id the 
road wUl he no more. Jones stumbles in from 
the forest on the right. His uniform is ragged 
and torn. He looks about him with numbed 
surprise when he sees the road, his eyes blink' 
ing in the bright moonlight. He flops down 
exhoAJbstedly and pa>nts heavily for a while. 
Then with svdden amger. 

I'm meltin' wid heat! Ruimin' an* runnm' an* 
innin'! Damn dis heah coat! Like a strait jacket! 
le tears off his coat and flings it away from 
rriy revealing himself stripped to the waist. '\ Dere! 
at's better ! Now I kin breathe ! {Looking down 
his feet, the spurs catch his eye."] And to hell 
d dese high-fangled spurs. Dey're what's been 

177 



178 THE EMPEROR JONES I 

a-trippin' me up an' breakin* my neck. {^He wf. 
straps them and fling a them away disgustedly^ 
Deret I gits rid o' dem frippety Emperor trap 
pin's an' I travels lighter. Lawd! I'se tired! 
[After a patise, listeTting to the msistent beat of 
the tom-tom m the distance.^ I must 'a put some 
distance between myself an' dem — runnin' like dat 
— and yit — dat damn drum sound jes' de same — 
nearer, even. Well, I gTiesa I a'most holds my lead 
anyhow. Dcy won't never catch up. IWith a sigh.} 
If on'y my fool legs stands up. Oh, I'ae sorry I 
evah went in for dis. Dat Emperor job is sho' hard 
to shake. [He looks around him suspiciously.} 
How'd dis road evah git heah? Good level roadi 
too. I never remembers seein' it befo'. [Shaking, 
his head appreheimveli/,} Dese woods is sho' fuU 
o' de queerest things at night. [With a sudden ter- 
ror.} Lawd God, don't let me see no more o' dem 
ha'nts! Dey gita my goat! [Tfien trying to taJJe 
himself into confidence. } Ha'nts! You fool nigger, 
dey ain't no such things ! Don't de Baptist parson 
tell you dat many time? Is you civilized, or is you . 
like dese ign'rent black niggers heah? Sho'! Dat 
was all in yo' own head. Wasn't nothin' dere. Wasnt 
no Jeff! Know what? You jus' get seein' i 
things 'cause yo' belly's empty and you's sick wiij 
hunger inside. Hunger 'fects yo* head and yo' eyes. 
Any fool know dat. [Then pleading fervently.\ 
But bless God, I don't come across no more o' den^ 
whatever dey is! [Then cautiously.} Rest! Donl 



THE EMPEROR JONES 



1T9 



I talk! Rest! You needs it. Den you gits on yo* 
way again. [Looking at the ttmwtc.] Night's half 
gone a'most. You hits de coast in de mawning! 
Den you'se all safe. 

[From the right forward a imall gang of 
■negroes enter. They are dressed m striped con- 
vict suits, their heads are shaven, one leg drags 
limpvngly, shackled to a heavy ball and chain. 
Some carry picks, the others shovda. They are fol- 
lowed by a white man dressed in the uniform of a 
prison guard. A Winchester rifle is slv/ng across 
liis shoulders and he carries a heavy whip. At a 
signal from the Gitaed they stop on the road oppo- 
site where Jones is sitting. Jones, reho hag been 
staring up at the sky, wnmindfid of their noiseless 
approach, suddenly looks down and sees them. His 
eyes pop out, he tries to get to his feet and fly, but 
sinks hack, too numbed by fright to move. His voice 
catches in. a choking prayer.^ 

Lawd Jesus! 

[The Prison Guard cracks his whip — noiselessly 
— and at that signal all the convicts start to work 
on the road. They swing tJieir picks, they shovel, 
hut not a sound comes from their labor. Tltetr 
moverments, like those of Jeff mi the preceding 
gcene, are those of automatons, — rigid, slow, and 
mechanical. The Prison Guard points sternly at 
Jones with his whip, motions him to take his place 
f-ataong the other shovdlers. Jones gets to his feet 
I a hypnotised stupor. He mwmbles tvbterviently.l 



180 



THE EMPEROR JOKES 



Yes, suh! Yes, suh! I'se comin', 

[jjj lie shuffles, dragging one foot, over to t 
place, he curses voider his breath with rage a 
hatred-l 

God damn yo' soul, I gits even wid you yit, 8ome> 
time. 

[As if there mere a shovel in his hands he goet 
through weary, mechainical gestures of digging i 
dirt, and throimng it to the roadside. Suddenly tht 
GuAED approaches him angrily, threateningly. Ht 
raises his whip and lashes Jones viciouslg across the 
shoulders with it. Jones winces with pain ani 
cowers abjectly. The GciKD turns his back on h*n 
amd walks amay contemptuously. Instantly Jonei 
straightens up. With arms upraised as if his ahovd 
were a club in his ha/nds he springs murderously c 
the vnisitspecting Guard. In the act of crashing 
down his shovel on the white man's akvU, Jones *«*!• 
deidy becomes aware that his hands are empty, 
cries despairingly.^ 

Whar's my shovel? Gimme my shovel 'till I spliti 
hia damn head! {Appealing to his fellow corsCTcfj,] 
Gimme a shovel, one o' you, fo' God's sake ! 

[They stand fixed in Tootionless attitudes, theil 
eyes on the growid. The Guahd seems to wait ev 
pectantly, his back turned to the attacker, Jojr 
bellows with baffled, terrified rage, tugging frOTiti 
caUy at his revolver. "l 

I kills you, you white dehil, if it*s de last thing 1 
«vah does! Ghost or debil, I kill you agin! 



THE EMPEROR JONES 181 

{^He frees the revolver and fires paint blank at 
the Guaed's hack. Instamtly the walls of the forest 
close m from both sides, the road and the figures 
of the convict gang are blotted out in an enshroud- 
ing darkness. The ovdy sounds are a crashing iri 
the underbrush as Jones leaps away in mad fiight 
and the throbbing of the tomrtom, stiU far distant, 
but increased in volume of sound and rapidity of 
heat.^ 



SCENE FIVE 

Scene — One o'clock. A large circular clearing, en- 
closed btf the serried ranks of gigantic trunks 
of tall trees whose tops are lost to view. 
In the center is a hig dead stwmp worn by time 
into a curious resemblance to an auction Hock. 
The moon floods the clearing with a clear light, 
Jones forces his way ifn through the forest (m 
the left. He looks wildly about the clearing 
with hmttedf fearful glances. His pants are 
in tatters, his shoes cut and misshapen, ftap- 
ping about his feet. He slinks cautioudy to 
the stvmip in the center and sits down in a 
tense position, ready for instant flighi. Then 
he holds his head in his hands and rocks back 
and forth, moaning to himself miserably.l 

Oh Lawd, Lawd! Oh Lawd, Lawd! ISudderdy 
he throws himself on his knees and raises his clasped 
hands to the sky — in a voice of agonized pleading.] 
Lawd Jesus, heah my prayer! Fse a po' sinner, 
a po' sinner! I knows I done wrong, I knows it! 
When I cotches Jeff cheatin' wid loaded dice my 
anger overcomes me and I kills him dead! Lawd, 
I done wrong ! When dat guard hits me wid de whip, 

182 



THE EMPEROR JONES 183 

mj anger overcomes me, and I kills him deatl, Lawd, 
I done wrong! And down heah whar dese fool bush 
niggers raises me up to the seat o' de mighty, I steals 
all I could grab. Lawd, I done wrong! I knows it! 
I'se Borrj! For^ve me, Lawd! Forgive dis po' 
sinner! [^Th£n hegeeching terrifiedlp.l And keep 
dcm away, Lawd! Keep dem away from me! And 
stop dat drum soundin* in my ears ! Dat bc^n to 
sound ha'nted, too, \^He gett to hit feet, evidently 
xlightly reasgured by his prayer — icith attempted 
conpience-l De Lawd'll preserve me from dem 
ha'nta after dis. [Sits down on the stump again.'\ 
I ain't skeered o' real men. Let dem come. But 

dem odders [He shudders — then looks down at 

his feet, working his toes ijiside the shoes — with a 
groan.^ Oh, my po' feet! Dem shoes ain't no use 
no more *ceptin' to hurt. I'ae better off widout dem. 
.' [He vadaces them ami pidla them off — holds the 
wrecks of the shoes in his hands and regards them 
tnoumfvlly.^ You was real, A-one patin' leather, 
too. Look at you now. Emperor, you'se ^ttin* 
mighty low! 

[He sighs dejectedly amd remains with bowed 
ahoidders, staring down at the shoes in his hands 
as if rductant to throra them away. WhUe his at- 
tention it thus occupied, a crowd of figures silently 
enter the clearing from all sides. AH are dressed 
MI Southern costumes of the period of the fifties of 
the last century. There are middle-aged men who 
are evidently weW-to-do planters. There is one 



^^r THE ETHnsnOR J(Wfl!S 

^^^ee, outhoritatiM indkidtiol — the Auctionbkb. 
Therv are a crowd of cariout ipectatort, chiefly 
yowng heUet and dandiet who have come to th« 
gla/c&^maricet for dnvrtion. AU exchange coartly 
greetings in dumb show and chat silently togetiier. 
There w something ttiff, rigid, unreal, marionettish 
about their movements. They group themtdvei 
about the stump. Finally a batch of slaves are led 
in from the left by an attendant — three men 
differeTit ages, two teamen, one teith a baby in het; 
arms, nursing. They are placed to the left of the 
etu/mp, beside Jones. 

The tehite planters look them over appraistngly 
at if they were cattle, and exchange judgments 
each. The dories point with their fingers and 
■make Kitty remarks. The belles titter bewitchingly- 
AU this in silence sai'e for the ominous throb of 
the tom-tom. The Auctioneer holds up his hand, 
taking hi» place at the stump. The groups strain 
forward attentively. He touches Jones on thf 
shoulder peremptorily, motioning for him to stand 
on the stump — the auction block. 

Jones looks up, tees the figures on all sides, look$ 
wildly for some opening to escape, sees none, 
screams and leaps madly to tlte top of the stump 
to get as far away from them as possible. Hi 
stands there, cowering, paralyzed with horror. Th4 
AccTiONEER begins Am sHent spiel. He points to 
Jones, appeals to the planters to see for themsdves. 
Here is a good fidd hand, sownd in wind and Itmi 



THE EMPEROR JONES 185 

Of they can »ee. Very itrong still in spite of kis 
being widdle-aged. Look at that back. Look at 
those shovldera. Look at the muscles in his arms 
and his sturdy legs. Capable of any amownt of 
hard labor. Moreover, of a good disposition, intel- 
ligent and tractable, WSl arty gentleman start the 
bidding? Hie Planters raise their fingers, make 
their bids. They are apparently all eager to pos- 
sess Jones. The bidding is lively, the croTvd inter- 
ested, n^iftfl^ this lias been going on, Jones has 
been seized by the courage of desperation. He dares 
to look doTim om.d arownd him. Over his face abject 
terror gives way to mystification, to gradual realiza,- 
tion — s tibt teringly. ] 

What you all doin', white folksP Wliat's all dis? 
What you all lookin* at me fo'? What you doin' 
wid me, anyhow? [Suddenly convulsed leith raging 
hatred and fear.'\ Is dis a auction P Is you scllin' 
me like dey uster befo' de war? \Jerkvng out his 
revolver just a.s the AucTioNEEtt knocks him doicn 
to one of the planters — glaring from him to the 
purchaser.^ And you sells me? And you buys me? 
I shows you I'se a free nigger, damn yo' souls! 
[He fires at the Auctioneeu and at the Planter 
zoith such rapidity that the two shots are almost 
simultaneous. As if this leere a signal the walls 
of the forest fold in, Ordy blackness remains and 
silence broken by Jones as he rushes off, crying 
with fear — and by the quickened, ever louder beat 
of the tom-tom."] 




SCENE SIX 

ScEKE — Three o'clock. A cleared tpace in the fof 
eat. The limba of the trees meet over it form- 
ing a lov ceilrn-ff about five feet from 
grownd. The interlocked ropei of ereepen 
reaching upward to entwine the tree trtuiki 
gives an arched appearance to the lidei. 
space tliiu enclosed is like the dark, jtoisoni 
hold of some ancient vessel. The moonligh 
is almost completeltf that out and oidy a vagut, 
lean light filters through, Tliere is the noise o 
someone approaching from the left, atnmbling 
and crawling through the undergrowth, Jones^ 
•voice is heard between chattering m 

Oh, Lawd, what I gwine do now? Ain't got nO 
bullet loft on'y de silver one. If mo' o' dem faa'ntt 
come after me, how I gwine skeer dem away? Oh 
Lawd, on'y de silver one left — an' I gotta sayc da! 
fo' luck. If I shoots dat one I'm a goner eho' 
Lawd, it's black heah! Wliar's de moon? Oh 
Lawd, don't dis night evah come to an end? [Bj/ ( 
sovmds, he is feeling his way caatioualy forward.] 
Dere! Dis feels like a clear space. I gotta li 
down an' rest. I don't care if dem aigg«rs dofl 
cotch me. I gotta rest. 



THE EMPEROR JONES 187 



^P [^He M wefl forward new where hia figu-re can be 
J,imly Tnade out. His pa/nts have been to torn away 
that what is left of th-em is no better than a breech 
cloth. He flings himself fvll length, face dotcnward 
on the growmf, panting tcith exiiaustion. Gradually 
it seems to grow lighter in the enclosed space and 
two rows of sealed figures can he seen behind Jones. 
They are sitting in crumpled, despairing attitudes, 
hunched, facing one another with their backs touch- 
ing tlie forest walls as if they were shackled to them. 
All are negroes, nahed save for lorn, cloths. At first 
they are silent and motionless. Then they begin to 
sway slowly forward toward each and back again in 
-unison, as if they were laxly letting themselves follow 
tJte long roll of a sliip at sea. At the same time, 
a low, melancholy murmur rises among them, in- 
creasing gradually by rhythmic degrees which seem 
to be directed and controlled by the throb of the 
tom-tom in the distance, to a long, tremulous wail 
of despair that readies a certam pitch, unbearably 
acute, then folia by slow graduations of tone into 
silence and is taken vp again. Jones starts, looks 
up, sees the figures, and throws himself down again 
to shut out the sight. A shudder of terror shakes 
liis whole body as the wail rises up about him again. 
But the next time, his voice, as if wnder some u/n- 
canny compulsion, starts with the others. As their 
chorus lifts lie rises to a sitting posture similar to 
the others, swaying back and forth. His voice 
reaches the highest pitch of sorrow, of desolation. 



188 THE EMPEROR JONES 

Tlie light fade$ out, the other voices ceate, and only 
darkness is left. Jones can' he heard scrambling 
to his feet and rwnning off 9 his voice sinking dawn 
the scale and receding as he moves farther and 
farther away in the forest. The tomrtom beats 
louder, quicker^ with a more insistent, triumphant 
pvisation.'l 



{ 



SCENE SEVEN 

Scene — Five o'cloci:. The foot of a gigantic tree 
by the edge of a great river. A rough struc~ 
ture of boulders, like an altar, is by the tree. 
The railed river bank is in the nearer back- 
grownd. Beyond this the surface of the river 
spreads ov-t, brilliant arid unruffled in the 
moonlight, blotted out and merged into a veil 
of bUash vast in the distOTtce. Jones' voice 
is heard from the left rising and falling in the 
long, despairing tcaU of the chained slaves, to 
the rhythmic beat of the tom-tom. As his voice 
sinks into sUence, he enters the open space. 
The expression of his face is fixed and stony, 
Ms eyes have an obsessed glare, he moves with 
a strange deiiberation like a sleep-waiker or one 
in a trance. He looks around at the tree, the 
rough stone altar, the moonlit surface of the 
river beyond, and passes his hand over his head 
with a vague gesture of puzzled bewilderment. 
ThcTi, as if in obedience to some obscure »7ft- 
ptdse, he sinks into a kneeling, devotion^ pos- 
ture before the altar. Then he seems to come 
to himself partly, to have am uncertain reali 
tion of what he is doing, for he straightens up 




I THE "EMPEROTl JO" 

and starct ahotit him horrifigdltf — jn  
coherent maanble. 



What — what is I doinP What is — dis place? 
Seems like — ecems like I know dat tree — an' dem 
stones — an' de river. I remember — seems like I been 
licnh bcfo'. [Trcmblmglff.^ Oh, Goitt, I'se skeered 
in dis place! Tee slceered! Oh, Lawd, pertcct dis 
sinner ! 

[Crawling away from the altar, he cowers cloie to 
the grourul, hit face hidden, his thoulders bearing 
ti-ith gobs of hysterical frigrht. From behind the 
trunk of the tree, aa if he had tprwig out of it, the 
figure of the Congo Witch-Doctoe appears. He it 
Ktzmcd and old, naked except for the fur of tovu 
small animal tied ahotit his waist, its bushy tail 
hanging dozen m front. His body is stained all over 
a bright red. Antelope Jioms are on each side of hii 
head, bramchvng upward. In one liemd he carries a 
bone rattle, in the other a charm stick leith a bunch 
of uhite cockatoo feathers tied to the end. A great 
nu-mbcT of glass beads and bone ornaments are aboaf 
his neck, ears, wrists, and ankles. He struts noise- 
lessly mith a queer prancing step to a position m the 
clear grownd between Jones and the altar. Then viih 
a preliminary, summoning stamp of his fool on tki 
earth, he begins to dance and to chant. As if *fl 
response to his summons the beating of the tom- 
tom grows to a ferce, eandtant boom whose throhi 
seem to pi the air with vibrating rhythjn. Jones 



THE EMPEROR JONES 191 

toki «.p, starts to spring to his feet, reaches a 
half-hneding, half -squatting position and remains 
rigid}// fixed there, paraltfzed teith awed fascination 
by this new apparition. The Witch-Doctok sways, 
stamping with his foot, his bone rattle clicking the 
time. His voice rises and falls in, a weird, monoto- 
nous croon, without articulate word dit-isions. 
Gradually his dance becomes clearly one of a nar- 
rative in pantomime, his croon is an incantatioti, a 
charm to allay the fierceness of some implacable 
deity demanding sacrifice. He ftees, he is pursued 
by devils, he hides, he flees again. Ever wilder and 
wilder becomes his flight, nearer amd nearer draws 
the pursuing evil, more and more the spirit of terror 
gains possession of him. His croon, rising to in- 
tensity, is punctuated by shriU cries. Jo^•Es has 
become completely hypnotised. His voice joins in- 
the incantation, in the cries, he beats time with his 
Juinds and sways his body to and fro from the 
roaist. The whole spirit and meaning of the dance 
has entered into him, has become his spirit. Finally 
the theme of the pantomime halts on a howl of 
despair, and is taken up again in a note of savage 
hope. There is a salvation. The forces of evU 
demand sacrifice. They must be appeased. The 
WrrcH-DocTOK points with his wand to the sacred 
tree, to the river beyond, to the altar, and finally 
to Jones with a ferocious command. Jones seems 
to sense the mewning of this. It is he who must 
offer himself for sacrifice. He beats his forehead 



IM THS EHFEROB JONES 

abjfctlff to tka ground, moaning kyttfriedUg.] 
Mercy, Oh Lawd! Mercy I Mercy on dis |><^ 

[The WiTCH-DocTOtt ipnngt to the river bank. 
He stTclcket out kit armt and caUi to $ome God 
within its depths. Then he starts backarard slordy, 
his arms remaining ovt. A hugh head of a en 
dUe appears ovffr the bank and its eyes, jittering 
greenlt/, fasten upon Jones. He stares into them 
fascinatedly. Tlie Witch-Doctor prances up ta 
him, touches him with his wand, motions with Judeont 
command totcard the waiting monster. Jokb 
squirms on hit beUy nearer and nearer, Tnoaning c 
timuiUtf.^ 

Mercy, Lawd! Mercy! 

[The crocodile heaves more of his enormous htdk 
onto the land. Jokes squirms toward hin 
WrrcH -Doctor's voice shrills out in furious eTvlto- 
tion, the tom-tom beats madly. Jones cries out i 
a fierce, exhausted spasm of angwished pleading.] 

Lawd, save me! Lawd Jesus, heah my prayer! 

[Immediately/, in answer to his prayer, comes th 
thought of the one bullet left him. He snatches a 
hii hip, shouting defiamtly.'] 

De silver bullet ! You don't git me yit ! 

[He fires at the green eyes in front of him, 
head of the crocodile sinks back behind the i 
banJc, the Witch-Doctoe springs behind the $acn 
tree and disappears. Jones lies with his face to tk 



THE EMPEROR JONES 19» 

growndy his arms outstretched^ whimpering with fear 
cks the throb of the tomrtom flUs the silence about 
him with a somber puLsation^ a baffled but revenge- 
fvl power.'] 



SCENE EIGHT 

SczyK—Datffn. Saitw as scene two, the dividing 
line of forest and plain. The nearest tret 
trunks are dimly revealed but the forest belunJ 
them is stUl a mass of glooming shadow. Tht 
tom-tom seems on the very spot, so loud and 
cOTitinaously vibrating are its beats. Leh 
enters from the left, followed by a STnail sqtu 
of his soldiers, and by the Cockney trader, 
Smithers. Lem is a heavy-set, ape-faced olfl 
savage of the extreme African type, dresisi 
only in a loin cloth, .4 revolver and cartridgl 
belt are about his ivaist. His soldiers are i 
different degrees of rag-concealed nakedneti, 
AU wear broad palrw-leaf hats. Each one car 
ries a rifle. Smithees is the same aa in ScetU 
One. One of tJie soldiers, evidently a tracker, 
is peering about keenly on the ground. Hi 
gnmts and points to the spot where Jonei 
entered the forest. Lem and Smithers cont 
to look. 

Smithers— [^/iCT- a glance, turns away in 
ffust.~\ That's where 'e went in right enough. Much 
good it'll do j'er. 'E's miles orf by this an' safe 



THE EMPEROR JONES 195 

the Coast damn 's 'ide! I tole yer jer'd lose 'im, 
didn't I? — wastin' the 'ole bloomin' night beatin' 
yer bloody drum and castin' yer silly spells ! Gawd 
blimey, wot a pack! 

Lem — [Gutfurally.^ We cotch him. You see. 
[He makes a motion to his soldiers who squat down 
on their h.aun<rhe» in a semi-circle.'\ 

Smithers — [Exasperatedli/.^ Well, ain't yer 
goin' in an' *unt 'im in the woods? What the 'eU's 
the good of waitin'? 

Lem — [Im-perturhably — squatting down himself.'] 
We cotch him. 

Smithers — [Taming away from Mm contemptw- 
oiLsly.] Aw! Gam! 'E's a better man than the 
lot o' you put together. I 'ates the sight o' 'im 
but I'll say that for 'im. [A sound of snapping 
titfigs comes from the forest. The soldiers jump to 
their feet, cocking their rifles alertly. Lem remains 
gitting with an imperturbable expression, but listen^ 
ing intently. The sownd from the woods is re- 
peated. Lem makes a quick signal with his hnnd. 
His followers creep quickly but- noiselessly into the 
forest, scattering so that each enters at a differ- 
ent spot,] 

Smithers — [In the silence that follows— in a con- 
temptuous Tt^isper.] You ain't thinkin' that would 
be 'im, I 'ope? 

Lem — [Calmly.] We cotch him. 

Smithees — Blarsted fat 'eads! [Then after a 
second's thought — wonderingly .] Still an' all, it 



nii^t *appcn. If 'c lost 'is bloody way 
stinkin' woods Vd likc-ly turn in a circle 
'is knowiii' it. They all does. 

Lem — [PernnptorUi/.] Sssh! [jTA* reportt of 
tevertd rifteM sound from the farett, followed a tec- 
ond later by ravage, exultant yelU. The beating of 
the tom-tam abruptly ceates. Leu looks up at the 
white man Toith a grin of tatisfactiOTi.'] We cotch 
him. Him dead, 

Smithebs — l^With a inarl.^ 'Ow d'yer know it's 
'im an' 'ow d'yer know 'e'a dead? 

Lem — My mens dey got 'um silver bullets. Dej 
kill him shore. 

SuiTHEBs — [Astonished.] They got silver bul- 
lets? 

Lem — Lead bullet no kill him. He got um strong 
charm. I cook um money, make um silver bullet, 
make um strong cliami, too. 

Smithf.bs^ — [Light breaking upon hint.] So that's 
wot you was up to all night, wot? You was scared 
to put after 'im till you'd moulded silver bullets, 
eh? 

Lem — [Simply stating a fact.] Yes. Him got 
strong charm. Lead no good. 

Smitheks — [Slapping his thigh and guffawing] 
Haw-haw! If yer don't beat all 'ell! [JVt«n r^- 
covering himself — scornfully.] I'll bet yer it ain't 
'im they shot at all, yer bleedin' loonej! 

Lem — [Calmly.^ Dey come bring him now. [Tin 
soldiers come out of the forest, carrying Jones' 



THE EMPEROR JONES 197 

Ump hody. There i» a little reddish- purple hole 
wnder hi» left breatt. He ii dead. They carry him 
to Lem, zcho examines his hody ztrith great satis- 
faction. Smithebs leans over his shoulder — ire a totie 
of frightened aiwe,^ Well, they did for yer right 
enough, Jonsey, me lad! Dead as a 'erring! 
[^Mochingly.^ Where's jer 'igh an' mighty aire 
now, jer bloomin' Majesty? [Then with a grrin.] 
Silver bullets ! Gawd blimey, but ycr died in the 
'eighth o' style, any'ow! [Lem makes a motion to 
the soldiers to carry tite body out left. Smithehs 
speaks to him sneeringly.'] 

Smithers — And I s'pose you think it's yer bleed- 
in' charms and yer silly beatin' the drum that made 
'im run in a circle when 'e'd lost 'imself, don't yer? 
[But Lem inakes no reply, does not seem to hear 
the question, walks out left after his men.. Smith- 
Eas looks after him with contemptuous scorn.] 
Stupid as 'ogs, the lot of 'em ! Blareted niggers ! 
[Curiam FaUs.} 



DIFF'RENT 

A Play in Two Acts 



5 

J- 

.4- 



m 



■J' 




CHARACTERS 



Captain Caleb Williams 

Emma Cbosby 

Captain John Crosby, her father 

Mrs. Crosby, her mother 

Jack Crosby, her brother 

Harriet Williams, Caleb'* sitter {later Mrt. 

Alfred Rogers 

Benny Rogers, their ton. 



SCENES 



ACT ONE 



Parlor of the Crosby home on a $ide street of a 
seaport village in New England — Tnid-after- 
noon of a day in late spring in the year 1890, 



ACT TWO 

The same. Late afternoon of a day in the early 
spring of the year 1920. 



ACT ONE 

ENE — Pariar of the C&osbt home. The room M 
xmaU and low-ceUinged. Everything hat an 
aspect of scntptdous neatnea. On the left, 
foTToard, a stiff pliish-covered chair. Farther 
back, m order, a window looking out on a vege- 
table garden, a black horsehair sofa, and an- 
other window. In the far left comer, an old 
mahogany chest of drawers. To the right of 
it, in rear, a window lookUig out on the front 
yard. To the right of thit window is the front 
door, reached by a dirt path through th£ small 
lawn which separates the hov^e from the street. 
To the right of door, another window. In the 
far right comer, a diminutive, old-fashioned 
piano with a stool in front of it. Near the piano 
on the right, a door leading to the next room. 
On this side of the room, are also a STnaU book- 
case half filed with old volumes, a big open 
firepJace, and another phMh-covered chair. 
Over the fireplace a mantel with a marble clock 
and a Rogers group. The walls are papered 
a brown color. The floor is covered with a 
dark carpet. In the center of the room there 
u a clumsy, marble-topped table. On the table. 



t DIFPRENT 

a large china lamp, a hvlky Bible with a i 
ctatp, and tereral bookt that look tutpicicnuly 
like cheap itovela. Near the table, three pluthr 
covered chairs, two of mhich are rockeri. Sev- 
eral enlarged photoi of itrairwd, ttem-lookmg 
people in ancomfortable poiet are hwag on the 
waUt. 

It ie mid-afternoon of a fine dag hi late 
spring of tht year 1890. Bright stmlight 
streams through the wmdorcs on the left. 
Through the rrindore and the screen door in the 
rear the fresh green of the lattm- and of the rfm 
trees that line the street can be seen. Stiff, 
white curtains are at all the windows. 

As the curtain rises, Emma Ckosby and 
Caleb Williams are discovered. Emma m a 
slender girl of trceniy, rather under the medium 
height. Her face, m spite of its plain features, 
gires an impression of prettiness, due to her 
large, soft blue eyes rchich have an incongruous 
qu/Uity of absent-minded romantic dreaminess 
about them. Her mouth amd chin are heavy, fuB 
of a sdf-trSled stubbomess. Although her 
body is slight and thin, there is a quicic, nervous 
vitality about aU her movements that reveah 
an underlying constitution of reserve power and 
health. She has light brown hair, thick and 
heavy. She is dressed sobeiiy and neatly in her 
black Sunday best, style of the period. 

Caleb Williams is tall and porverfuUif 



DIFFRENT 305 

bttUt, about thirty. Black hair, keen, dark 
eyes, face rugged and bronzed, inouth obsti- 
nate but good-natured. He, also, is got up in 
black Swnday best and is wncomfortably sdf- 
conscious and stiff therein. 

They are titling on the horsehair sofa, side 
by side. Hit arm is about her waist. She 
holds one of his big hands in both of hert, her 
head leanmg back against his shoulder, her 
eyes half closed in a dreamy contentednest. 
He stares before him rigidly, his whole atti- 
tude wooden and fixed as if he were posing for 
a photograph; yet hit eyes are expressivdy 
tender and protecting when he glances down 
at her diffidently out of the corners without 
moving his head, 

Emma^ — \^Sighing happUy.^ Gosh, I wish we could 
sit this way forever! [Then after a pause, as he 
makes no comment except a concurring squeeze.^ 
Don't you, Caleb? 

Caleb — [WifA another squeeze — emphatically.^ 
Hell, yes ! I'd like it, Emmcr. 

Emma — [Softly.^ I do wish you wouldn't swear 
so awful much, Caleb. 

Caleb^ — S'cuse me, Enuner, it jumped out o' my 
mouth afore I thought. [Then with a grin.^ You'd 
ought to be used to that part o' men's wickedness — 
with your Pa and Jack cussin* about the house all 
the time. 



906 



BrPPTlBNT 



EuifA — [TTift a (iRtZf.] Oh, I haven't no strict 
n-Iigious notions about it. I'm hardened in sin so 
faHs they're concerned. Goodness me, how would 
Mn and me ever have lived in the same house with 
them two if we wasn't used to it? I don't even notice 
their cussing no more. And I don't mind hearing it 
from the other men, either. Being sea-faring men, 
away from their women folks most of the time, I 
know it just ^ts to be part of their natures anci 
they ain't responsible, [DecUivdy.'] But jou'» 
diflTnent. You just got to be diff'rent from the rest 

Caleb — [Amuted bff her seriousnest.^ Diff'rent^ 
Ain't I a sea-forin' man, too? 

EMMA^You're difTrent just the same. That'l 
what made me fall in love with you 'stead of any o 
them. And you've got to stay diff'rent. Promisa 
me, Caleb, that you'll always stay diffrent frod 
them — even after we're married years and years. 

Caleb — [Embarrassed.^ Why — I promise to dfl 
my best by you, Emmer. You know that, don't yeP 
On'y don't ^t the notion in your head I'm any beb 
ter*n the rest. They're all good men — most of 'em 
anyway. Don't tell me, for instance, you think TO 
better'n your Pa or Jack — 'cause I ain't. And 1 
don't know as I'd want to be, neither. 

Emma — \ExcitedJy.'\ But you got to want tob 
—when I ask it. 

Caleb — [Surprised.'] Better'n your Pa? 

Emma — [Strugglvng to convey her ■mea/wmg.\ 
Why, Pa's all right. He's a fine man — and JacW 



DIPF'RENT ton 

all right, too. I wouldn't hear a bad word about 
them for anything. And the others are all right in 
their way, too, I s'pose. Only— don't you see what 
I mean? — I look on you as difPrent from all of them. 
I mean there's things that's all right for them to do 
that wouldn't be for you — in my mind, anyway. 

Caleb — [Puzzled and a bit wmast/.^ Sailors ain't 
plaster saints, Emmer, — not a dam one of 'em ain't ! 

Emma- — J^Hurt and disappointed.^ Then you won't 
promise me to stay diff'rent for my sake? 

Caleb — [TFtfA rough tenderness.^ Oh, hell, 
Emmer, I'll do any cussed thing in the world you 
want me to, and you know it ! 

Emma — [Lovin-glif.^ Thank yon, Caleb. It means 
a lot to me — more'n you think. And don't you think 
I'm diiTrent, too — not just the same as all the other 
girls hereabouts? 

Caleb — 'Course you be! Ain't I always said that? 
You're wo'tli the whole pack of 'em put together. 

Emma — Oh, I don't moan I'm any better. I mean 
I just look at things diff'rent from what they do — 
getting married, for example, and other things, too. 
And so I've got it fixed in my head that you and me 
oug'ht to make a married couple — diff'rent from the 
rest — not that they ain't all right in their way, 

Caleb — \_Puzzled — -iimceriainlif.^ Waal — it's 
bound to be from your end of it, you bein' like you 
are. But I ain't so sure o' mine. 

Emma — ^Well, I am '. 

Caleb — [TTi^A a grin.'\ You got me scared, 



(08 



D!W*HBf^ 



Emtner. I'm scared you'll want me to live up to one 
of them high-fangled heroes you been readin' about 
in them books. [He mdicate$ the -nov^ on the 
table.] 

Emua — No, I don't. I want you to be just lite 
yourself, that's all. 

Caleb — That's easy. It ain't bard bein* a plain, 
ordinary cuss. 

Emma — You are not ! 

Caleb — [ With a laugh.] Remember, I'm wamin' 
you, Emmer; and after we're married and you find 
me out, you can't say I got you under no false pre- 
tences, 

Emma — [Lau-ghmg.] I won't. I won't ever need 
to. [Then after a pauie.l Just think, it's only two 
days more before you and me'll be man and wife. 

Caleb — [Squeezing kcr.] Waal, it's about time. 
ain't it? — after waitin' three years for mc to git 
enough money saved — and us not scein' hide or hair 
of each other the last two of 'em. [ With a laugh.] 
Shows ye what trust I put in you, Emmer, when 1 
kin go off on a two year whalin' vige and leave you all 
lone for all the young fellers in town to make eyes 
at. 

Emua — But lots and lots of the others does t 
same thing without thinking nothing about it. 

Caleb — [Tl'tfA a laugh,] Yes, but I'm diff'renti I 
like you says. 

Emua — [Lav^twig.] Oh, you're poking fim no". I 

Caleb — [With a mnk.] And you know as welTi I 



DIPP-RENT «09 

me that some o' the others finds out some funny 
things that's been done when they was away. 

Emma — [Laughing at first.^ Yes, but you know 
I'm diff'rent, too, [Then froTiming.} But don't let's 
talk about that sort o' ructions. I hate to tiiink of 
such things — even joking. I ain't like that sort. 

Caieb^ — ^Thunder, I know you ain't, Emmer. I 
was on'y jokin'. 

Emma — ^And I never doubted you them two years; 
and I won't when you sail away again, neither. 

Caxeb — [FFtf/i a twinkle in Ms eye,"] No, even a 
woman'd find it hard to git jealous of a whale! 

Emma — [^Laughing.^ I wasn't thinking of whales, 
silly ! But there's plenty of diversion going on in 
the ports you touched, if you'd a mind for it. 

Caleb — Waal, I didn't have no mind for it, that's 
sartin. My fust vige as skipper, you don't s'pose I 
had time for no monkey-shinin', do ye? Why, I was 
that anxious to bring back your Pa's ship with a fine 
vige that'd make him piles o' money, I didn't even 
think of nothin' else. 

Emma — 'Cepting me, I hope? 

Caleb — 0' course ! What was my big aim in doin' 
it if it wasn't so's we'd git married when I come to 
homeP And then, s'far as ports go, we didn't tech 
at one the last year — ^'ceptin' when that dum tem- 
pest blowed us south and we put in at one o' the 
Islands for water. 

Emma — What island? You never told me noth- 
ing about that. 



«10 DIFFRENT  

Caleb — [Growing suddenly very embarraased am 
if some memory occurred to him.] Ain't nothin* fM 
tell, that's why. Juat an island near the Line, that'lj 
all. O'ny naked heathen livin' there — ^brown cokl 
ored savages that ain't even Christians. '[He gets (« 
his feet abruptly and pvlls out his taatch.] Gittin'j 
late, must be. I got to go down to the store and git 
some things for Harriet afore I forgets 'em, 

Emma — [Rising also and putting her hajids on hil 
shoulders.] But jou did think of me and miss me all 
the time you was gone, didn't you?— same as I did 
you. 

Caleb — 'Course I did. Every minute, 

Emma — [Nestling closer to him — softlj/.] I'm 
glad of that, Caleb. Well, good-bye for a little while. 

Caleb — I'll step in again for a spell afore supper 
— that is, if you want me to. 

EsiMA—Yes, course I do, Caleb. Good-bye, [Sht 
lifts her face to his.] 

Caleb— Good-bye, Emmer, [He hitses her and 
holds Iter in his arms for a mom,ent. Jack comet up 
the walk to tlie screen door. They do not notice hit 
approach.] 

Jack — [Peermg in, and seeing them — in a jokmg 
hellow.] Belay, there ! [They separate with startled 
exclamations. Jack comes in grmnrng. He is a 
hAdking, stocky-built young fellow of £5. His heavjf 
face is sunburned, handsome in a course, good-nat- 
ured animal fashion. His sm^M blue eyes twinkU 
with the unconsciously malicious humor of tlu horn 



DIFFTIENT 211 

practical joker. He wean thigh teabools turned 
do-wn from, the knee», dirty cotton ihirt and pant», 
and a yeUbw sotCwester pushed jawntUy on the back 
of his head, revealing his dishevelled, curly blond 
hair. He carries a string of cod h^ads.'\ 

Jack — [Laughing at the embarrassed expression 
on their facesj] Caught ye that time, by gum! Go 
ahead! Kiss her again, Caleb. Don't mind me. 

Emma — [TFifA flurried annoyance.^ You got a 
head on you just like one of them cod heads you're 
carrying— that stupid! I should think you'd be 
ashamed at your age — shouting to scare folks as jf 
you was a little boy. 

Jack — [Putting his arm about her waist.'] There, 
kitty, don't git to spittin'. {Stroking her hair.~\ 
Puss, puss, puss! Nice kitty! [^He laugha.J 

Emma — [Forced to STnile — pusliing hvm. away.^ 
Get away ! You'll never get sense. Land sakes, 
what a brother to have! 

Jack — Oh, I dunno. I ain't so bad, aa brothers 
go — eh, Caleb? 

Caleb — [SmUing.^ I reckon youll do. Jack. 

Jack — See there! Listen to Caleb. You got to 
take his word — love, honor, and obey, ye know, 
Emmer. 

Emma — [Laughing.^ Leave it to men folks to 
stick up for each other, right or wrong. 

Jack — [Cockily.'\ Waal, I'm willin' to leave it to 
the girls, too. Ask any of 'em you knows if I ain't a 



a» 



DIFFBENT 



jim-dandy to have for a brother. \^He xvmki 
Cai^b a/ho grin* back at him.'] 

Emma — [Wiife a sniff.] I reckoa you don't play 
much brother with them — the kind you knows. You 
may fool 'em into believing you're some pumpkins 
but they'd change their minds if they had to live in 
the same house with you playing silly jokes all the 
time. 

Jack — [Provokingljf.] A good lot on 'em 'd be 
on'y too damn glad to git me in the same house — i[ I 
was fool enough to git married. 

Emma — "Pride goeth before a fall," But shucks, 
what's the good paying any attention to you. [She 
ainiles at him affectionately/.'] 

Jack — [Exaggeratedly.] You see, Caleb? See 
how she misuses me — ^her lovin' brother. Now you 
know what youll be up against for the rest o' your 
natural days. 

Caleb — Don't sec no way but what I got to bear 
it, Jack. 

Emma — Caleb needn't fear. He's diff'rent. 

Jack— [With a stulden guff ani.] Oh, hell, yes! I 
was forgittin'. Caleb's a Sunday go-to-meetin' SainI 
ain't he? Yes, he is ! 

Emma — [With real resentvient.] He's bettei 
what you are, if that's what you mean. 

Jack — [With a still louder laugh.^ Ho-ho' 
Caleb's one o' them goody-goody heroes out o' them 
story books you're always readin', ain't he? 



I 
intj 



DIFFRENT 818 

FCaleb — [Sobedy — a bit diiturbed.'\ I was tellin'' 
Emmer not to take me that high. 

Jack — No use, Caleb. She won't hear of it, She'a 
got her head sot t'other way. You'd ought to heard 
her argj'in' when you was gone about what a parson's 
pet you was. Butter won't melt in your mouth, no 
siree! Waal, love is blind^ — and deaf, too, as the 
feller says — and I can't argy no more 'cause I got to 
give Ma these heads. [He goes to tlie door on right 
— then glances back at his sister maliciously amd says 
Tiwaningly.^ You ought to have a talk with Jim 
Benson, Emmer. Oughtn't she, Caleb. [He winks 
ponderously arid goes off laiighing uproariously.^ 

Caleb — [His face worried and angry.^ Jack's a 
dum fool at times, Emmer — even if he is your 
brother. He needs a good lickin'. 

Emma — [Staring at him — uneasUy.^ What'd he 
mean about Jim Benson, Caleb? 

Caleb — [FroTiming.l I don't know — ezactly. 
Makin' up foolishness for a joke, I reckon. 

^£•MUA — You don't know — exactly? Then there is 
BomethingP 
Caleb — [Qvickiy.^ Not as I know on. On'y Jim 
Benson's one o' them slick jokers, same's Jack; can't 
keep their mouths shet or mind their own business. 

Emma — Jim Benson was mate with you this last 
trip, wasn't he? 
Caleb — ^Yea. 

Emma — Didn't him and you get along? 
Caleb — [A trifle impatiently. 1 'Course we did* 



an* DIFFVENT 

Jim's all right. We got along fust rate. He 
cnn't keep his tongae from waggin*, that's all's 
mattvr with him. 

Emua — lUneasUy.} What's it got to wag about 
Vou ain't done nothing wrong, have you? 

Caleb — Wrong? No, nothin' a man'd rightly c 
wrong. 

Emma — Nothing you'd be shamed to tell me? 

Caleb — [ Awkwardly. 1 Why — no, Emmcr. 

Emma — [Pleadingly.] You'd swear that, Caleb 

Caj.eb — [Hetilating for a lecond — then finnljf: 
Yes, I'd swear. I'd own up to everything fair a 
square I'd ever done, if it comes to that p'int. I ain 
shamed o' anything I ever done, Emmer. On'y- 
womfii folks ain't got to know everything, have they 

Emma — [Tunmig awat/ from him — frightenedl^ 
Oh, Caleb! 

Caleb — [Preoccupied mth his own thoaghtt- 
going to the door in rear.] I'll sec you later, Ei 
racr. I got to go up street now more'n ever. 
to give that Jim Benson a talkin' to he won't forg 
in a hurry — that is, if he's been tellin' tales, 
bye, Emmer. 

Emma — [Faintly.'] Good-bye, Caleb. [He go 
out. She sits in (me of the rockers hy the table, hil 
face greatly troubled, her manner nervou* and m 
easy. FinaUy sh^r makes a decision, goes gaickly i 
the door on the right and caUs.] Jack! Jack! 

Jack — [From the kitchen.] Wliat you want? 

Emma — Come here a minute, will you? 



DIFF'RENT 



S15 



Jack— Jest a second. \^She comes back by the 

ible, fighting to conceal her agitation. After a 

\oment. Jack comes m from the right. He has evi- 

mtly been washing up, for hit face is red (md shint/, 

Im hair wet and slicked m a part, Hff looks around 

tor Caleb.] Where's Caleb? 

Emma — He had to go up street. [Then coming to- 

point abruptly — with feigned indifference.^ 

Tiat's that jote about Jim Benson, Jack? It 

med to get Caleb all riled up. 

jAcK-^[H'i(A a chuckle.l You got to ask Caleb' 
»Out that, Emmer. 

Emma — ^I did. He didn't seem to want to own up 
8 anything. 

! Jack — [IFiifc a laugh-l 'Course he wouldn't. He- 
tti*t 'predate a joke when it's on him. 
EuMA- — ^How'd you come to hear of it? 
Jack — From Jim. Met him this afternoon and me 
1 him Imd a long talk. He was tellin' me all 'bout 
eir vige. 
PIEmma — Then it was on the vige this jote hap- 
med? 

Jack — Yes. It was when they put in to git water 
Pt them South Islands where the tempest blowed 'em. 
Emma — Oh. [Suspiciously,'] Caleb didn't seem 
[ng to tell me much about their touching there. 
I Jack — [Chuckling.] 'Course he didn't. Wasn't I 
■ryin''t!ie joke's on him? [Coming closer to her — in 
I low, confidential tone, chucklingly.l Well fix up a 
(oJie on Caleb, Eramer, what d'ye say? 



^i 



«16 DIFPRENT 

EicMA — [Tortured by forebodinff — resolved to 
find out what ii hack of all this hy hook or crook^ 
forcing a smUe.^ All right. Jack. I'm willing. 

Jack — ^Then ITl tell you what Jim told me. And 
you put it up to Caleb, see, and pertend you're mad- 
dcr'n hell. [Vnahle to restrain his mirthS\ Ho-ho! 
It'll git him wild if you do that. On'y I didn't tdl 
vc, mind ! You heard it from someone else. I dont 
want to git Caleb down on me. And you'd hear 
about it from someone sooner or later 'cause Jim and 
the rest o' the boys has been tellin' the hull town. 

Emma — [Taken aback — frowning.'] So all the 
town knows about it? 

Jack — ^Yes, and they're all laffin' at Caleb. Ohj 
it ain't nothin' so out o' the ordinary. Most o' the 
whalin' men hereabouts have run up against it in 
their time. I've heard Pa and all the others tdlin' 
stories like it out o' their experience. On'y with CalA 
it ended up so damn funny! [He laughs. 1 Ho-ho! 
Jimminy ! 

Emma — [In a strained voice.] Well, ain't you 
going to tell me? 

Jack — ^I'm comin' to it. Waal, seems like they all 
went ashore on them islands to git water and the 
native brown women, all naked a'most, come round to 
meet 'em same as they always does — ^wantin' to swap 
for terbaccer and other tradin* stuff with straw mats 
and whatever other junk they got. Them brown gals 
was purty as the devil, Jim says — that is, in their 
heathen, outlandish way — ^and the boys got maldn' 



Wl 



DIFP*RENT 917 

ap to 'em ; and then, o' course, everything happened 
like it always does, and even after they'd got all the 
water they needed aboard, it took 'em a week to 
round up all hands from where they was foolin' about 
with them nigger women. 

Emma — [In anguisk.J Yes — but Caleb^he ain't 
fike them others. He's difTrent. 

Jack — [TTiiA a sly vmk.^ Oho, is he? I'm comin' 

Caleb. Waa], seems s'if he kept aboard mindin' his 
own business and winkin' at what the boys was doin'. 
And one o' them gals — the purtiest on 'em, Jim says 
— she kept askin', where's the captain? She wouldn't 
liave no thin' to do with any o' the others. She 
■thought on'y the skipper was good enough for her, I 
reckon. So one night jest afore they sailed some o' 
the boys, bein' drunk on native rum they'd stole, 
planned to put up a joke on Caleb and on that brown 
gal, too. So they tells her the captain had sent for 
}ier and she was to swim right out and ^t aboard the 
ship where he was waitin' for her alone. That part 
of it was true enou^ 'cause Caleb was alone, all 
hands havin' deserted, you might say. 

Emma — [Letting an involwntary exclamation es- 
cape herJ] Oh ! 

Jack — Waal, that fool brown gal b'lieved 'em and 
she swum right off, tickled to death. What hap- 
pened between 'em when she got aboard, nobody 
Itnows. Some thinks one thing and some another. 
And I ain't sayin' nothin* 'bout it — [With a jottiJ:.] 
but I know damn well what I'd 'a done in Caleb's 



ns 



SIFVRSaVT 



bnots, and I guess he ain't the cussed old woman yon 
makes him out. But that part of it's got aothin' to 
do with the joke nohow. The joke's this: that brown 
gal took an awful shine to Caleb and when she sav 
the ship was gittin' ready to sail she raised ructions, 
standin* on the beach howlin' and screanun', and 
beatin' her chest with her fists. And when they upi 
anchor, she dives in the w.ler and swims out aflM 
'era. There's no wind hardly and she kin swim like 
a fish and catches up to 'em and tries to climb aboard 
At fust, Caleb tries to tivat her gentle and 
with her to go back. But she won't listen, she 
wilder and wilder, and finally he gits sick of it 
has the boys push her off with oars while he goes 
hides in the cabin. Even this don't work She keep 
swimmin' round and yellin' for Caleb. And finallj 
they has to p'int a gun at her and shoot in thi 
water near her afore the crazy cuss gives up ax 
swims hack to home, howlin' all the time. [TFiffc 
chuckle.] And Caleb lyin'Iow in the cabin skeeredl 
move out, and all hands splittin' their sides ! Gosh, 
wish I'd been there ! It must have been funnier'n hell 
[He laughs loudly — thffn noticing his sister's itonf 
expression, stops abruptly.'l What're you pulliB 
that long face for, Eraraer.'* [Offemledltf.'] HS, 
you're a nice one to tell a joke to ! 

Emma — [After a pause — forcing the words 
slowlp.l Caleb's comin' back here, Jack. I want 
to see him for me, I want you to tell 



dB'ren^^^^^^iI^ 



Jack — Not me! You got to play this joke on 
him yourself or it won't work. 

Emma — [Tenseli/.'] This ain't a joke, Jack —  
what I mean. I want you to tell him I've changed 
my mind and I ain't going to marry him. 

Jack— What ! 

Emma — I been thinking things over, tell him — and 
I take back my promise — and he can have back his 
ring- — and I ain't going to marry him. 

Jack — \_Flabbergasted — peering into her face 

anxiously.^ Say — what the hell ? Are you 

tryin' to josh me, Emmer? Or are you gone crazy 
all of a sudden? 

Emma — I ain't joking nor crazy neither. You tell 
him what I said. 

Jack — [Vehemently.^ I will like Say, 

what's come over you, anyhow? 

Emma — My eyes are opened, that's all, and I ain't 
going to marry him. 

Jack — Is it — 'count of that joke about Caleb I 
was tellin' you? 

Emma — [Her voice tre7nbling.'\ It's 'count of 
something I got in my own head. What you told 
only goes to prove I was wrong about it. 

Jack — [Greatly perturbed norc.] Say, what's the 
matter? Can't you take a joke? Are you mad at 
him 'count o' that brown gal? 

Emma — Yes, I am— and I ain't going to marry 
him and that's all there is to it. 
L Jack — [Argumentatively.^ Jealous of a brown. 



I 



heathen woman that ain't no better'n a niggcrP God 
■alecs, Emmcr, I didn't think ;ou was that big a fooL 
Why them kind o' women ain't women like you. TheJ 
don't count like folks. They ain't Christians — nor 
nothin* ! 

Emma — That ain't it. I don't care what they ftit 

Jack — And it wasn't Caleb anyhow. It was al 
her fixin*. And how'd you know he had anything b 
do with her— like that? I ain't said he did. Jiffl 
couldn't swear he did neither. And even if he did- 
what difference does it make? It ain't rightly n 
o' your business what he does on a vige. He didn't 
ask her to marry him, did he? 

Emma — I don't care. He'd ougfit to have acted 
difTrent. 

Jack — Oh golly, there you go agen makin* t 
durned crecpin'- Jesus out of him! What d'you want 
to marry, anyhow — a man or a sky-pilot? Caleb's 
a man, ain't he? — and a damn good man and i 
smart a skipper as there be in these parts! Whai 
more d'you want, anyhow? 

Emma — [Violently.} I want you to shet up 
You're too dumb stupid and bad yourself to eve 
know what I'm thinking. 

Jack — [Reaenlfullp.'} Go to the devil, then! Va 
goin' to toll Ma and sic her onto you. You'll mayb 
listen to her and git some sense. \Hc stamps owft 
right, ■while he is speaking. Emma bursts into sobt 
and throws herself on a chair, covering her face iriiJ 
her liands. Haeriet Williams and Alfeed Rogebi 




DIFPRENT 221 

r eome up the path to the door ira rear. Peering 
through the screen and catching sight of Emma, 
Haesiet calls.'] Emmer! [Emma leaps to her feet 
and dabs at her eyes with a handkerchief in a vain 
effort to conceal traces of her tears. Haeriet has 
come in, followed by Rogebs. Caleb's sister is a tall, 
dark girl of twenty. Her face is plainly Homely and 
yet attracts the eye by a certain boldly-appealing 
vitality of self-confident youth. She wears an apron 
and has evidently just- come out of the kitchen. 
RoGEES is a husky yowng fisherman of twenty-four, 
washed and sUcked'up m his HX-ftting best."] 

Rogebs — Hello, Emmer. 

Emma- — [Huskily, trying to force,a smUe.^ Hello, 
Harriet. Hello, Alfred. Won't jou set? 

Haeeiet — No, I jest run over from the house a 
second to see if Where's Caleb, Emmer? 

Emma — He's gone up street. 

Haebiet— And here I be waitin' in the kitchen for 
him to bring back the things so's I can start liis sup- 
per. [With a laugKand a roguish look at Rogebs.] 
Dearie me, it ain't no use dependin' on a man to re- 
member nothin' when he's in love. 

RoGEKS — [PuttiTig his arm about her waist and 
giving her a squeeze — grinding.] How 'bout me? 
Ain't I in love and ain't I as reliable as an old hoss ? 

Haeeiet— Oh, jon! You're the worst of 'em all. 

Rogebs — ^You don't think so. \He tries to kiss 
lier.l 



SM 



DIFFTRENT 



HABHtET — Stop it. Ain't you got no maimera 
What^l Eimner think? 

Rogers— Einmer can't throw stones. Her an 
Caleb is worser at spoonin' than what we are. [Ha] 
KtBT breaks away from him laughingly and goes tt 
Emma.] 

Harriet — [Suddenly noticing the expression i 
misery on Emma's face — astonished.^ Why, Enune 
Crosby, what's the matter? You look as if you'd loB 
your last friend. 

Emma — [^Tryitig to smUe.'} Notlung. It's noth 
ing. 

Harriet — It is, too! Why, I do believe you'T 
been crying! 

Emma — No, I ain't. 

Harriet— You have, too! [Putting her arm 
about Emma.] Goodness, what's happened? Yo| 
and Caleb ain't had a spat, have you, with you 
wcddin' only two days off? 

Emma — [ With quick resentful resolution.^ 
ain't going to be any wedding. 

Harriet — What ! 

Rogers — [Prickijtg up hia ears — ijiquisitiDely.] 
Huh? 

Emma — ^Not in two days nor no time. 

Harriet — [Dumbforinded,^ Why, Emmer Crosbj 
Whatever's got into you? You and Caleb must hafl 
had an awful spat! 

Rogers — [tVifA a manrof-the-woTld attitude t 




DIFF'RENT 223 

racism.^ Don't take her so dead serious, Harriet, 
Emmer'll git over it like you all does. 

Emua — [AitgrUi/.J You shet up, Alf Rogers! 
[Mbs. CaosBY enters hwttlin^y from the right. She 
is a large, fat, florid woman of fifty. In spite of her 
two hwid-red and more povmdg she is surprisingly ac- 
tive, and tlie passive, lazy expression of her rowtid 
moon face is bdied by her quick, efficient movements. 
She exudes an atmosphere of motherly good nature. 
She wears an apron on wldcK she is drying her hands 
as she enters. Jack follows her into the room. He 
has changed to a dark suit, is ready for "up street."^ 

Mas. Crosby — [SmUiTig at Haeeiet and Rogees.] 
Afternoon, Harriet — and Alf. 

Hah EIET-— Afternoon, Ma, 

Ro GEB s — ^Af t em oo n . 

Jack — [Grinning.] There she be, Ma. IPoints 
to Emma.] Don't she look like she'd scratch a fel- 
ler's eyes out! Phew! Look at her back curve! 
Meow? Sptt-sptt! Nice puss! [He gives a vivid, 
imitation of a cat fight at this last. Then he and 
Rogers roar with laughter and Harriet cannot re- 
strain a giggle and Mrs. Crosby smUes. Emma 
stares stonily before'her as if she didn't hear.] 

Mrs. Crosby — [Good-^nafurcdly.J Shet up your 
foolin'. Jack. 

Jack — [Pretending to be hurt.] Nobody in tliis 

house kin take a joke. [He grins and beckons to 

, RoGEfts.] Come along, Alf, You kin 'preciate a 

yoke. Come on in here till I tell you, [The grinning 



9it« 



DIFPRENT 



Rogers follows him into the next room where t}te^ 
can be heard talking and laughing dv.ring the foUai 
ing scene. ^ 

Mhs. Crosby — [SmUing, puts her arms 
Emma.] Waal, Emmer, what's this foolishness Jack* 
been tellin' about 

Emma — [Resentfully. 1 It ain't foolishness, Ms 
I've made up ray mind, I tell you that right here a 
now. 

Mbs. CaosBY^ — -\^After a quick glance at her face- 
soothingly.^ There, there! Let's set down and 1 
comfortable. Me, I don't relish roostin' on my fee* 
[She pushes Emma gently into a rocker — then point 
to a chair on the other side of the table.'] Set doi 
Harriet. 

Haekiet — [Tom between curiositi/ and a serue o 
being one too tjmiji^.] Maybe I'd best go to home 
and leave you two alone? 

Mks. Crosby — Shuck^! ^in't you like d 
family — Caleb's sister and livin' right next door evi 
since you was all children playin' together. We ain 
got no secrets from you. Set down. [Harriet dot 
so with an uncertain glance at the frozen Euu 
Mrs. Crosby has efficiently bustled another rocki 
beside her daughter's and sits down with a comfor 
able sigh.] There. [She reaches over and takes o 
of her dajighter's hands in hers.] And now, Emnw 
what's all this fuss over? [As Emma makes no i 
ply-] Jack says as you've sworn you was breaki 
with Caleb. Is that true? 



DIPFRENT mS 

Emma — ^Yes. 

Mbs. CaosBY — ^Hmm. Caleb don't know this yet, 
does heP 

Emma — Vo. I asked Jack to tell him when he 
comes back. 

Mrs. Crosby — Jack says be won't. 

Emma — ^Then I'll tell him myself. Maybe that's 
better, anyhow. Caleb'U know what I'm driving at 
and see my reason — [Bitterly.J^ — which nobody else 
seems to. 

Mas. Ceosbt — Hmm. You ain't tried me yet. 
[_After a patue.l Jack was a dumb fool to t^ you 
'boat them goin's-on at them islands tliey teched. 
Ain't no good rcpcatin' sech things. 

Emma — iSurprised-l Did you know about it be- 
fore Jack 

Mes. Ceobby — Mercy, yes. Your Pa heard it from 
Jim Benson fust thing they landed here, and Pa told 
me that night. 

Emma^ — [Resentfully.'] And you never told me! 

Mhs. Ceosbt — Mercy, no. Course I didn't. They'a 
trouble enough in the world without makin' more. If 
you was like most folks I'd told it to you. Me, I 
thought it was a good joke on Caleb. 

Emma^ — -IWith a shudder.1 It ain't a joke to me. 

Mbs. Ceosby — That's why I kept my mouth shet. 
I knowed you was touchy and different from most. 

Emma — [Proudly.] Yes, I am diff'rent — and 
that's just what I thought Caleb was, too — and he 
ain't. 



£» 



DIFFHENT 



Haeiikt — [Breaking in exiitedlff.'] Is it that 
Btory about Caleb and that heathen brown woman 
you're talking about? Is that what you're mad at 
Caleb for, Einnier? 

Meb. Ceobbt — [At EuHA remaint tiUnt,'] Yes, 
Harriet, that's it. 

Habeiet — [Aitoruthed.l Why, Eminer Crosby, 
how can you be so silly? You don't s'pose Caleb tool 
it serious, do you, and him makin' them fire shota 
round her to scare licr back to land and get rid of 
her? Good gracious! [A bit resent fuUy.'] I hope 
you ain't got it In your head my brother Caleb would 
sink so low as to fall in love serious with one of than 
critters? 

Emma — [Harshly.^ He might just as well. 

Hakeiet — [Bridling.'] How can you say seeh a 
thing! [SarcasticaUif.l I ain't heard that Caleb 
offered to marry her, have you? Tlien you migh! 

have some cause But d'you s'pose he's ever givi 

her another thought? Not Caleb! I know him bei 
ter'n that. He'd forgot all about the liull thing be- 
fore they was out o' sight of land. 111 bet, and if 
them fools hadn't started this story going, he'd never 
remembered it again. 

Mrs. Crosby — [Nodding.l That's jest it. Har- 
riet's right, Emmer. 

Ehma — Ma ! 

Mbs. Crosby — Besides, you don't know they was 
nothin' wrong happened. Nobody kin swear that for 
sartin. Ain't that so, Harriet? 



DIFF-RENT 327 

Hak^iet — [^Hesitating — then franklt/.1 I don't 
know, Caleb ain't no plaster saint and I reckon he's 
as Ukelj to sin that way as any other man. He 
wasn't married then and I s'posc he thought he was 
free to do as he'd a mind to till he was hitched up. 
Goodness sakes, Kmmer, all the men thinks that — 
and a lot of 'em after they're married, too. 

AIks. Cbosey — Harriet's right, Enuner. Tf you've 
been wide awake to all that's happened in this town 
tiince you was old enough to know, you'd ouglit to 
realize what men be. 

Harkiet — [ScomfjiUff.'] Emma'd ought to fallen 
in love with a, minister, not b sailor. As for me, I 
wouldn't give a dum about a man that was too 
goody-goody to raise cain once in a while — before he 
married me, 1 mean. Why, look at Alf Rogers, 
Emnier. I'm going to marry him some day, ain't I? 
But I know right well all the foolin' he's done — and 
still is doing, I expect. I ain't sayin' I like it but I 
do like him and I got to take him the way he is, that's 
all. If you're looking for saints, you got to die first 
and go to heaven. A girl'd never git married here- 
abouts if she expected too much, 

Mbs. Rogebs — Harriet's right, Enamer. 

Smma — [ResentfuUi/.'] — -Maybe she is. Ma, from 
her side. I ain't claiming she's wrong. Her and me 
just looks at things diifrent, that's all. And she 
can't understand the way I feel about Caleb. 

Haekiet — Well, there's one thing certain, Emmer. 



338 



DIFPRENT 
man in a day's walk is any better^ 



You won't find a 
Caleb— or as good. 

Emma — [WearUp.l I know that, Harriet. 

Hakbiet — Then it's all right. You'll make up wit 
him, and I s'posc I'm a fool to be takin* it so eerious. 
[As Emma shakes her head.^ Oh, yes, you will. You 
wouldn't want to get him all broke up, would you? 
[As Emma keeps silent — irritably-l Story book no- 
tions, that's the trouble with you, Emmer. You're 
gettin' to think you're better'n the rest of us. 

Emma^ — [VeheTnentl^.'l No, I don't! Can't jo 

Mks. Chosby — Thar, now ! Don't you two pt tol 
fightin' — to make things worse. 

Hae,eiet — [Repentantly, coming and putting her 1 
arms arownd Emma and kissing A^r.] I'm sorryi 
Emmer. You know I wouldn't fall out with you for 
nothing or nobody, don't you? Only it gits me riled J 
to think of how awful broke up Caleb'd be if — 
you'll make it all up with him when he comes, won^ 
you? [Emma stares stubbornly before her. Befof 
she has a chance to reply a roar of laughter cot 
from tlie next room as Jack leijids up Ms tale.'\ 

RoGEES — [From the next room.^ Gosh, I wishd 
I'd been there! [He follows Jack into the root 
Both are grinning broadly. Rogeks says teasinglM 
Reckon 111 take to whalin' 'stead o' fishin' after t 
You won't mind, Harriet? From what I bears 1 
them brown women, I'm missin' a hull lot by stayin*! 
home. 



DIFFERENT 229 

Haekiet — [/» a joking tone — Tcith a meaning 
glance at Emma. J Go on, then ! There's plenty of 
fish in the sea. Anyhow, I'd never git jealous of your 
foolin' with one o' them heathen critters. They ain't 
worth notice from a Christian. 

Jack — Oho, ain't they! They're purty as pic- 
tures, Benson says, [Wtfft a wwik.'] And mighty 
accommodatin' in their ways. [^He and Rogers roar 
delightedly. Emma shudders with retmlsion.^ 

Mrs. Crosby — [Aware of her daughter's -feelvng — 
smUvngly but ^rmZt/.] Get out o' this, Jack. You, 
too, Alf. Go on up street if you want to joke. 
I You're in my way. 

Jack — ^Aw right. Ma, Come on up street, Alf. 

Habriet — Wait. I'll go with you a step. I got 
to see if Caleb's got back with them supper things. 
[They aU go to the door in rear. Jack cmd Rogers 
pass out, talking and laughing. Harriet turns Jra 
the doorway — sympathetically. "l I'll give Caleb a 
talking to before he comes over. Then it'll be easy 
for you to finish him. Treat him firm but gentle and 
youTl see he won't never do it again in a hurry. After 
ail, lie wasn't married, Emmer — and he's a man — 
and what can you expect? Good-bye. [She goes.'\ 

Emma — [Inaudibly.^ Good-bye. 

Mrs. Crosby — [After a pause in which she rocks 
hack and forth studying her daughter's face — plac- 
idly.^ Harriet's right, Emmer. You give him a 
good talkin*-to and he won't do it again. 



S90 



DrFFRENT 



Emma — [Coldly,^ I don't care whether he does or 
not. I ain't going to marry him. 

Mrs, Crosby — [ Uneasy — persitanvely.'\ Mercy, 
you can't act like that, Emraer. Here's the weddin' 
on'y two days ofF, and everytliin' fixed up with the 
minister, and your Pa and Jack has bought new 
clothes spcshul for it, and I got a new dress 

Emma — [Tumimg to her mother — pleadingly,^ 
You wouldn't want me to keep my promise to Caleb 
if you knew I'd be unhappy, would you. Ma? 

Mks. Ceosby — [Hesitatingly.^ N-no, Emmer. 
[Then decisively.l 'Course I wouldn't. It's because 
I know he'U make you happy. [As Emha shakes her 
head.^ Shaw, Emmer, you can't tetl me you've got 
over all likin' for him jest 'count o' this one foolish- 
ness o' hisQ. 

Emma — I don't love him — ^what he is now. I loved 
— what I thought he was. 

Mrs. Crosby — [More and more wneasy."] That's 
all your queer notions, and I don't know where you 
gits them from. Caleb ain't changed, neither have 
you. Why, Emmer, it'd be jest like goin' agen « 
act of Nature for you not to marry him. Ever since | 
you was children you been livin' side by side, goifli 
round together, and neither you nor him ever t 
seem to care for no one else. Shucks, Emmer, youl 
git me to lose patience with you if you act I 
stubborn. You'd ought to remember all he's been ^ 
you and forget this one little wrong he's done. 

Emua — I can't. Ma. It makee him another per- 1 



231 

son — not Caleb, but someone just lite all the others. 

Mbs. Ckosby — Waal, is the others so bad? Men 
is men the world over, I reckon. 

EsiMA — No, they ain't bad. I ain't saying that. 
Don't I like 'em all? If it was one of the rest — ^like 
Jim Benson or Jack, even — had done this I'd thought 
it was a joke, too. I ain't strict in judging 'em and 
you know it. But — can't you see. Ma? — Caleb al- 
ways seemed difTrent — and I thought he was. 

Mrs. CnossY—lSomewhat impatiently/. "] Waal, if 
he ain't, he's a good man jest the same, as good as 
any sensible girl'd want to marry. 

Emma — [SloTdy.l I don't want to marry nobody 
no more. I'll stay single. 

Mrs, Ceosby — [ToMntiagli/.^ An old maid! 
[TAffTO resent f idly. ^ Emmer, d'you s'pose if I'd had 
your high-fangled notions o' what men ought to be 
when I was your age, d'you s'pose you'd ever be set- 
tin' tliere now? 

Emma— [iS/owZ^,] No, , I know from what I can 
guess from his own stories Pa never was no saint, 

Mas. Crosby — [In a tone of finality a^ if this set- 
tled the inatter.^ There, now! And ain't he been as 
good a husband to me as ever lived, and a good 
father to you and Jack? You'll find out CaleVll turn 
out the same. You think it over. [Slie gets up — 
hustlingly.'{ And now I got to git back in the 
kitchen. 

Emma — [ Wringing her hands—desperately.^ Oh, 



Ma, whj can't you see wliat I feel? Of course, Pa's 
good — as good as good can be 

Captain Ceosby — I^Ftovi outside the door which 
lie has approached without their noticing hvm — m a 
jovial bdlow.} What's that 'bout Pa bt-in' good?] 
[He cojms in laughing. He is a squat, boar-leggei 
poieerfid -man, almost as broad as he is long- 
years old but stiU in the prime of health and strength 
with a great, red, weather-beaten face seamed by « 
wrinkles. His sandy hair is thick and disheveUeiM 
He is dressed in an old baggy suit much tlie wont 
for loear — striped cotton shirt open at the neck, 
pats Emma on the back with a playful touch 
almost jars lier off her feet.'\ Tliundcrin' Itlose^ 
that's tlie fust time ever I heerd good o' myself b 
listenin'! Most times it's; "Crosby? D'you mean i 
that drunken, good-for-nothin', mangy old cuss?" 
That's what I hears usual. Thank ye, Emmer. j 
[Turning to his wife.'] What ye got to say noifJ 
Ma? Here's Emmer tellin' you the truth after yo< 
hair-pullin' me all these years 'cause you thought iti 
wa'n't. I always told ye I was good, ain't I — good ai 
hell I be! [He shakes with laughter and kisses W* 
wife a resounding smack.] 

Mas, Cuossy — [Teasing lovingly.'] Emmer don't 
know you like I do. 

Crosby — [Tuminff back to Emma again.'] Look- 
a-here, Emmer, I jest seen Jack. He told me some 
fool story 'bout you fallin* out with Caleb. Reckon 
he was joshin', wa'n't he? 



DIFFTIENT «38 

Hbs. Chosby— [Q?»cH)/.] Oh, that's all settled, 
Tohn. Don't you go stirrin' it up again. [Euma 
seem» about to speak but stops helplessly after one 
glance at her father,^ 

Crosby — ^An' all 'count o' that joke they're tellin' 
'bout hira and that brown female critter. Jack says. 
Hell, Emmer, you ain't a real Crosby if you takes a 
joke like that serious. Thunderin' Moses, what the 
hell d'jou want Caleb to be — a dumed, he-vir^n, 
fikj-pilot? Caleb's a man wo'th ten o' most and, spite 
o' his bein' on'y a boy jit, lie's the smartest skipper 
out o' this port and you'd ought to be proud you'd 
got him. And as for them islands, all whalin' men 
knows 'em, I've teched thar for water more'n once 
myself, and I know them brown females like a book. 
And I tells you, after a year or more aboard ship, a 
man'd have to be a goll-dumed gel din' if he 
don't 

Mes. Cbosdy — {Glancing uneasily at Emma.] 
Ssshh! You come out in the kitchen with me, Pa, 
and leave Emmer be. 

Cbosby — God A'mighty, Ma, I ain't sayin' nothin' 
agen Emmer, be I,'' I knows Emmer ain't that crazy. 
If she ever got religion that bad, I'd ship her off as 
female missionary to the damned yellow Chinks. 
{He laughs.^ 

Mrs. Crosby — {Taking his arm.] You come with 
me, I want to talk with you 'bout somethin*. 

Ceosby — {Going.^ Aye-aye, skipper! You're 
boss aboard here. {He goes out right with her. 



laughinff. Euma glands for a vrhUe, xtariaig rtoi 
before her. She tight hopelessly, clasping and 
clasping her hands, looking arovmd the room as if 
she longed to escape from it. Ftnatly alie sits dovm 
helplessly and remains fixed in a strained attitude, 
her face betraying the conflict that is tormentinri 
her. Slow steps sound from the path in front of thf 
house. Emma recognizes then and her face free:/:! 
into an expression of obstinate intolerance. Calf.b 
appears outside the screen door. He looks in, cough 
— tlien asks uncertainly.^ It's me, Emmer. Kin I , 
come in ? 

^MMA— [Coldly.'] Yes. 

Cai.eb — [Comes in and walks down beside 
chair. His face is set emotiovlesslj/ but lus eyes i 
not conceal a worried bewilderment, a look of 
comprehending hurt. He stands uncomfortably, 
fumbling with his hat, waiting for her to speak or 
look up. As she does TUiither, he finally blurts out. 
Kin I set a spell? 

Emma — [In the same cold tOTie.] Yes. [He It 
crs himself carefvlly to a wooden posture on the edgt 
of a rocker near hers^ 

Caleb — [After a patise.'] I seen Jim Benson. 1. 
give Iiim liell. He won't tell no more tales, I recfa 
[Another pau^e.'\ I stopped to home on the way ba( 
from the store. I seen Harriet. She says Jack'd tol( 
you that story they're all tellin' as a joke on 0>*- 
[Clenching his fists — angrily.] Jack's a dum fool- 
He needs a good lickin' from someone. 




DIFFRENT S8S 



tA — l^ResentfvUy.l Don't try to put the 
e on Jack. He only told me the truth, didn't he? 
^Her voice shows that she hopes against hope for a 
dertial.'] 

t Caleb — [After a long pause — regretfully.] Waal, 
(uess what he told is true enough. 
Emma— [iroOTirffd.] Oh! 

Caleb — But that ain't no ^od reason for tellin' 
it. Them sort o' things ought to be kept among 
men. l^After a pause — gropijtgly.] I didn't want 
nothin' like that to happen, Emmer, I didn't mean 
it to. I was thinkin' o' how you might feel — even 
down there. That's why I stayed aboard all the 
time when the boys was ashore. I wouldn't have 
b'lieved it could happen — not to me. [A pause.] I 
wish you could see them Islands, Emmer, and be there 

for a time. Then you might see It's hard's hell 

to explain, and you havin' never seen 'em. Every- 
thing is different dowTi there — the weather— and the 
trees and water. You ^t lookin' at it all, and you 
git to feci diff'rcnt from what you do to home here. 
It's purty hereabouts sometimes — like now, in spring 
—but it's purty tliere all the time — and down there 
you notice it and you git feclin' — difiTrent. And 
them native women — they're diffrent. A man don't 
think of 'cm as women— like you. But they're purty 
— in their fashion—and at night they sings — and it's 
all ditfrent like something you'd see in a painted 
picture. [A pause.] That night when she swum 
out and got aboard when I was alone, she caught me 



by s'prise. I wasn't expectin' nothin' o' that sort, 
tried to make her git back to land at fust — but she 
wouldn't go. She couldn't understand enough Eng^ 
lish for me to tell her how I felt — and I reckon she 
wouldn't have seed my p'int anyhow, her bein' a na- 
tive. [A paase.^ And then I was afeerd she'd catch 
cold goin' round all naked and wet In the moonlight 
— though it was warm — and I wanted to wrap a blan- 
ket round her. [He stops as if lie had finished.^ 

EuMA — [After a long, tense pause — dvlly.^ Then 
you own up — there really was something happened? 

Caleb — [After a paase.^ I was sorry for it, 
after. I locked myself in the caHn and left her to 
sleep out on deck. 

Emma — [After a paute — fixe^y.^ I ain't going 
to marry you, Caleb. 

Caleb — Harriet said you'd said that ; but I didn't 
bTieve you'd let a slip that make — such a diff'reoee. 

Emma — [With finality.^ Then you can believe it 
now, Caleb. 

Caleb — [After a paase.l You got queer, strict 
notions, Enuner. A man'll never live up to 'em — ^witlr 
never one slip. But you got to act accordin' to your 
lights, I expect. It sort o' busts everythin* to Ists 

for me [His voice betrays his anguith for d 

second hut he instantly regains hit iron control.) 
But o' course, if you ain't willin' to take me the way 
I be, there's nothin' to do. And w^iatever you thinl; 
is best, suits me. 

Emma — [After a pause — gropmgly.'\ I wish 



DIFF'RENT 237 

could explain my side of it — so'a you'd understand. 
I ain't got any hard feelings against you, Caleb — 
Dot now. It ain't plain jealousy — what I feel. It 
ain't even that I tliink you've done nothing terrible 
wrong. I think I can understand — how it happened 
— and make allowances. I know that most any man 
would do the same, and I guess all of 'em I ever met 
has done it. 

Caleb — [With a glimmer of eager hope.1 Then 
— you'll forgive it, Emmer.-' 

Emma — Yes, I forgive it. But don't tliink that my 
forgiving is going to make any diff'rence — 'cause I 
ain't going to marry you, Caleb. That's final. 
[^After a pause— 4ntenselp.^ Oh, I wish I could make 
you see — my reason. You don't. You never will, I 
expect. What you done is just what any other man 
would have done — and being like them is exactly 
what 11 keep you from ever seeing my meaning. 
[After a pause — in a last effort to viake him un- 
derstand.^ Maybe it's my fault more'n your'n. It's 
like this, Caleb. Ever since we was little I guess I've 
always had the idea that you was — diff rent. And 
when we growod up and got engaged I thought that 
more and more. And you was diff rent, too! And 
that was why I loved you. And now you've proved 
you ain't. And so how can I love you any more? I 
don't, Caleb, and that's all there is to it. YouVe 
busted something way down inside me — and I can't 
love you no more. 

Caleb — [GloomUy.^ I've warned you often, ain't 



I, you was Bettin* me up where I'd no business to be. 
I'm human like the rest and always was. I ain't diP- 
rent. [After a pause — imcertainly,^ I reckon there 
ain't no use sajin' nofhin' more. I'll go to home. 
[He starts to rise.^ 

Emma — Wait. I don't want you to go out of 
here with no hard feelings. You 'n'me, Caleb, we've 
been too close all our lives to ever get to be enemies. 
I like you, Caleb, same's I always did, I want ua to 
stay friends. I want you to be like one of the family 
same's you've always been. Tliere's no reason you 
can't. I don't blame you — as a man — for what I 
wouldn't hold against any other man. If I find I 
can't love you — that way^no more or be your wife, 
it's just that I've decided — things being what thej 
be and me being what I am — I won't marry no man. 
I'll stay single. [Forcing a smile,^ I guess there'i 
worse things than being an old maid. 

Caleb — I can't picture you that, Enuner. It's 
natural in some but it ain't in you. [Then toith a re- 
newal of hope.^ And o' course I want to stay friends 
with you, Emmer. Tliere's no hard fcelin's on my 

side. You got a right to your own way — even if  

[Hopefvlly.l And maybe if I show you what I done 
wasn't natural to me — by never doin' it again — may- 
be the time'Il come when you'll be willin' to for- 
get 

Emma — [Shaking h^r head — sIowIj/.I It ain't a 
question of time, Caleb. It's a question of some- 



DIFF'RENT S39 

thing being dead. And when a thing's died, time 
can't make no difference. 

Caieb — l^SturdUy.l You don't know that for 
sure, Enuner. You're human, too, and as liable to 
make mistakes as any other. Maybe you on'y think 
it's dead, and when I come back from the next vige 
and you've had two years to think it over, you'll see 
diff''rent and know I ain't as bad as I seem to ye now. 

EMtiA—[Helplessly.'[ But you don't seem bad, 
Caleb. And two years can't make no change in me — 
that way. 

Caleb — [Feeling himself somehow more and more 
hfiarteveJ by fiopc] I ain't givin' up hope, Emmer, 
and you can't make me. Not by a hell of a sight. 
[With emphasis.^ I ain't never goin' to marry no 
woman but you, Emmer. You can trust my word for 
that. And I'U wait for ye to change your mind, I 
don't give a dum how long it'll take — till I'm sixty 
years old — thirty years if it's needful ! [He rises to 
his feet as he is speaking this last.^ 

Ehma — [With a moumfid smUe.'\ You might just 
as well say for life, Caleb. In thirty years we'll both 
be dead and gone, probably. And I don't want you 
to think it's needful for you to stay single 'cause 
I 

Caleb — I ain't goin' to stay single. I'm goin' to 
wait for you. And some day when you realize m«i 
was never cut out for angels you'll 

Emma — [Helplessly.'\ Me 'n' you'll never under- 
stand each other, Caleb, so long as we live. [Get- 



240 DIFFRENT 

ting up and holding ovA her hand.'] Good-bye, Caleb. 
I^m going up and lie down for a spell. 

Caleb — \_Made hopeless a^am by her tone — 
clasps her hand mechanically — dully.] Grood-bye, 
Emmer. \_He goes to the door in the rear, opens it, 
then hesitates and looks back at her as she goes out 
the door on the right without turning arownd. Sud- 
denly he blurts out despairingly.] You'll remember 
what I told ye 'bout waitin', Emmer ?' \^She is gorUi 
mak^s no reply. His face sets in its concealment 
mask of emotionlessness and he turns slowly and 
goes out the door as 

[The Curtain FaUs.] 



ACT TWO 



CENE — Thirty years after — the scene ia the same 
but not the same. The room has a grotesque 
aspect of old age turned flighty and masquerad- 
mg as the most empty-headed youth. There is 
an obstreperous nenmess about everything. 
Orange curtains are at the windows. Th^ car- 
pet has given way to a varnished hardwood 
floor, its glassy surface set off by three small, 
garish-colored rugs, placed with precision in 
front of the two doors and wnder the table. The 
wall paper is now a cream color sprayed with 
pink flowers. Eye-aching seascapes, of the 
painted-to-order quality, four in number, in- 
cased in gilded frames, are hung on the walls at 
m/ithematically spaced intervals. The plush- 
covered chairs are gone, replaced by a set of 
varnished oak. The horsehair sofa has been 
relegated to the attic, A cane-bottomed affair 
with fancy cushions serves in its stead, A Vic- 
trola is where the old Toahogany chestiJtad been, 
A brand mew piano shines resplendently in tha 
far right comer by the door, and a bookcase 
with glass doors that puU u/p and slide va flanks 
the fireplace. This bookcase is ftdl of instaU- 



[ DIFFTIENT 

menf-pian sets of uncut volumes. The table at 
center is of varnished oak. On it are pUes 
fashion viagasines and an electric reading lamp. 
Oidy the old Bible, which stUl preserves its place 
of honor on th^ table, and the marble clock an 
the mantel, have survvced the renovation a/ni 
serve to emphasize it all the more by contrast. 

It is late afternoon of a day m the eatig 
spring of the year 1920. 

As the curtaUt rises, Emua and Bennt 
RoGKRS are discovered. She is seated in a rocker 
by the table. He is standing by the Victrola «» 
which a jazz band record xs playing. He whit- 
tles, goes through the motions of dancing to 
the music. He is a young fellow of twenty-ihret^ 
a replica of his father m Act One, but coarteft 
more hardened and cocksure. He is dressed k 
the khaki wniform of a private in the Umtei 
Stales Army. The thirty years have trot 
formed Emma into a withered, scrawny a 
But there is something revoltingly incongn 
about her, a pitiable sham, a too-apparent i 
fort to cheat the years by appearaneet. Tl 
white dress she loears is too frilly, too yonthft 
for her; so are the lUgh-lieeUd pumps c 
clocked sUk stockings. Tltere is an absurd s< 
gestion of rouge on Jier tight cheeks and (W 
lips, of pencilled make-up abouit her eyes. 1 
black of her hair i» brazenly untruthful, Abt 
oZl there it shown in her simpering, tdf-coMt 



DIFFRENT 



S4S 



k otuly coquettish manner that laughable — and 
' at the same time irritating amd discfiuting — 
■mockery of wndigmfied age snatching greedily 
I at the empty siyiwiacra of yov/th. She resewhlet 
I aome passe stock actress of fifty made up for a 
1 heroine of twenty j, 

Benny — [As the record stops — iwitclies off the 
machine.'] Oh, baby! Some jazz, I'll tell the world! 

Emma — [Sm^ing lovingly at his hack,'] I'm glad 
jou like it. It's one of them you picked out on the 



Benny — Oh, I'm a swell little picker, aw right. 
[Turning to her.^ Say, you're a regular feller — 
gettin' tliem records forme, 

Emma — [Coquettishly.] Well, if that ain't just 
tike a man ! Who told you I got them just for you? 
^HBenny — V.ell, didn't youP 

^HSvMA — No indeedy ! I only took your advice on 
^Hnt to get. I knew you'd know, being growed to a 
man of the world now since you was overseas. But I 
got 'em because I like them jazz tunes myself. They 
put life and ginger in an old lady like me — not like 
them slow, old-timey tunes. 

Bennt — [Bends over chair — kiddin^y.^ You 
~ t old. That's all bunk. 

—[Flattered.'] Now, now, Benny! 
—You ain't. You're a regular, up-to-date 
a only live one in this dead dump. [With 



244 DrPPRENT 

a grin,'] And If you fall for that jazz stuff, all you 
got to do now is learn to dance to it. 

Emma — iGiggting.] I will — ^if you'll teach me. 

Bekkt — \_Struggling with a guffaw.] Oh, oui! 
Sure I win. We'll have a circus, me an' you. Say, 
you're sure one of the girls aw right. Aunt Emmer. 

Emma — Oh, you needn't think we're oS so behind 
the times to home here just because you've been to 
France and all over. 

Bennt — You ain't,- 111 say, Aunt Enuner. 

Emma — ^And how often have I got to tell you not 
to caU me Aunt Enuner? 

Benny — \^1Vith a grin.] Oh, oui! My foot 
slipped. 'Scuse me, Emmer. 

Emma — ^Delighted hy his coarse familiarity.] 
That's better. Why, you know well enough I aint 
your aunt anyway. 

Benny — ^I got to get used to the plain Emmer. 
They taught me to call you "aunt" when I was a 
kid. [Emma looks displeased at this remark ani 
Benny hastens to add cajolingly.] And you almost 
was my aunt-in-law one time from what I've heard. 
\^Winks at h. r ciurmingly.] 

Emma — \_Flustered.] That was ages ago. 
[Catching herself quickly.] Not so awful long 
really, but it's all so dead and gone it seems a long 
while. 

Benny — [Unthinkingly.] It was before I was 
bom, wasn't it? [Seeing her expression he hurri^ 
jon.] Well, that ain't so darned long. Say, here's 



DIFFBENT 



245 



something I never could make out — how did you ever 
come to fall for Uncle Caleb? 

£mma — [Bridling — quickly,^ I never did. That's 
hU talk, Benny. We was good friends and still are. 
I was young and foolish and got engaged to him — 
and then discovered I didn't like him that way. 
That's all there ever was to it. 

Benny — [Resentfvllt/.^ I can't figure how any- 
bodj'd ever like him anyway. He's a dam stingy, 
ugly old cuss, if you want my dope on him. I can't 
see him at all. I've hated him ever since Pa died and 
]VIa and me had to go live next door v.ith him. 

Emma— You oughtn't to say that. He's kind 
at bottom, spite of his rough ways, and he's brought 
jou up, 

Benny — [^Grumjnly.^ Dragged me up, you mean, 
f^With a calculating look at her out of the comers of 
his eyes."] He's a tight-wad and I hate folks that're 
"tight with their coin. Spend and be a good sport, 
"that's my motto. [Flattering.l He'd ought to be 
Miore like you that way, Emmer. 

Emma — [Pleased- — condescendingly. "l Your Uncle* 
vi^aleb's an old man, remember. He's sol^in his ways 
•&.i\d believes in being strict with jou — too strict, 
I've told liim. 

Benny — He's got piles of money hoarded in the 
ft^ank but he's too mean even to retire from whalin' 
fcimself — goes right on makin' vige after^vige to grab 
Ksiore and never spends a nickel less'n he has to. It 
^was always like pryin* open a safe for me to separate 



f«8 

hiiD from a cent. [With extrtvu d'ugiat.\ 
he's a piker. I hate liim and I a]vajs did ! 

Emma — [Looking loward the door appniili 
tivtiff,] Ssshh! 

Bes-xv — What you scared of? He don't get in 
from New Bedford till tiie night train and even if 
he's got to tlie house by this hell be busy as a bird 
dog for an hour getting himself dolled up to pay 
jDU a call. 

Emma — [Perfvnctorilp.^ I hope he's had a goorf 
vige and is in good health. 

Benny — [I^oughli/.^ You needn't worry. He's 
too mean ever to get real sick. Gosh, I wish Pa'J 
lived — or Uncle .lack. They wasn't like him. I ts- 
only a kid when they got drowned, but I remember 
enough about 'em to know they was good sports. 
Wasn't they? 

Emma — [Rather prit^g.^ They was too sportj 
for their own good. 

Benny — Don't you hand me that. That don'l 
sound like you. You're a sport yourself. [AftP 
a patue.^ Say, it's nutty when you come to thini 
of it — Uncle Caleb livin' next door all these yean 
and comin' to call all the time when he ain't at sea, 

Emma — What's funny about that? We've alwav- 
been good friends. 

Benny — [With a grm.^ It's just as if the olJ 
guy was still mashin* you. And I'll bet anythiw 
he's as stuck on you as he ever was — the old fool! 

Emma — [W^ith a coqtiettith titter.] Land sake^ 



DEPPTIENT J47 

inj, a body'd think you were actually jealoas of 
your uncle the way you go on. 

Benny — IWiik a vwckwig lav^h.J Jealous! Oh, 
oui! Sure I am! Kin you blame me? [Th^n serir 
oiultf, with a c<dcidati>ng look at Iter.] No, all 
kiddin' aside, I know he'll run me down first second 
he sees you. Ma'll tell him aU her tales, and he'll be 
sore at mc right off. He's always hated me anyway. 
He was glad when I enlisted, 'cause that got him rid 
of me. All he was hopin' was that some German'd 
get me for keeps. Then when I come back he 
wouldn't do nothin' for me so I enlisted again. 

Emma — [Chiding — playfuUy.'] Now, Benny ! 
Didn't you tell me you enlisted again 'cause you were 
sick o' this small place and wanted to be out where 
there was more fun? 

Benny— Well, o' course it was that, too. But I 
could have a swell time even on this dump if he'd 
loosen up and give me some kale. [Agam with the 
^eicidating look at her.^ Why, look here, right now 
tihere's a buddy of mine wants me to meet him in 
Soston and he'll show mc a good time, and if I had 
B hundred dollars 

Emma — A hundred dollars t That's an awful pile 
to spend, Benny. 

Bennt — [Disgustedljf.'l Now you're talkin' tight 
tike him. 

Emma — [Haatili/.] Oh, no, Benny. You know 
1 that. What was you sayin' — if you had a 
1 dollars ? 



Benny — That ain't sucli a much these days witi 
everything gone up so. If I went to Boston 
have to get dolled up and everytliing. And 
buddy of mine is a sport and a spender. Easy c< 
easy go is his motto. His folks ain't tight wads like 
mine. And I couldn't show myself up as a cheap 
skate by travellin* 'round with him without a nicki 
in my jeans and just spongin' on him. [irif/i fir 
calcvlatmg glance to see tchat ejfect his wordi d" 
having — pretending to lUsvmi the subject.^ Bui 
what's the good of talkin'? I got a swell chance 
tellin' that to Uncle Caleb. He'd give me one loot 
and then put a double padlock on his roll. But it 
ain't fair just the same. Here I'm sweatin' blood 
£n the army after riskin' my life in France and 
when I get a leave to home, everyone treats me lik« 
a wet dog, 

Emma — [Softly.'l Do you mean me, too, Bencvi 

Benny^ — No, not you. You're difi^rent from tb* 
rest. You're regular — and you ain't any of im 
real folks either, and ain't got any reason. 

Emma — [Coquet tithlyj] Oh, yes, I have a reason. 
I like you very, very much, Benny — better than nnt 
one in the town — especially since you've been 'o 
home these last few times and come to call so often 
and I feel I've growed to know you. When you fintj 
came back from France I never would have re( 
nized you as Harriet's Benny, you was so big 
strong and handsome. 

Benny — [(7flcom/orf«Wy.] Aw, you're kit 



DIFPRENT 249 

But you can tell how good I think you are from me 
bein' over here so mucli — so you know I ain't lyin'. 
[Made more and inore uncomfortable by the ardent 
looks Emma is coating at Aim.] Well, guess I'll be 
movin' along. 

Emma — [Pleadingly.^ Oh, you mustn't go yet! 
Just when we're gettin' so friendly! 

Benny — Uncle Caleb'll be over soon and I don't 
want liim to catch me here — nor nowhere else till he 
gets calmed down after hearin' Ma's kicka about me. 
So I guess 1 better beat it up street. 

Emma — He won't come for a long time yet. I 
know when to cspoct him, [Pleading ardently and 
kittenishly.^ Do set down a spell, Benny! Land 
sakes, I hardly get a sight of you before you want 
to run away again. I'll begin to think you're only 
pretending to like me. 

Benny — [Seeing his calculations deinand i(.] Aw 
right— jest for a second. \_He looks about him., 
seeking a neutral subject for conversation.^ Gee, 
you've had tliis old place fixed up swell since I was 
to home last, 

Emma — [CoqiiettishlyJ\ Guess who I had it all 
done for, mostly? 

Benny — For yourself, of course. 

Emma — [Shaking her head rougisMy.] No, not 
for me, not for me! Not that I don't like it but I'd 
never have gone to the trouble and expense for my- 
self. [With a sigh.'\ I s'pose poor Ma and Pa 
turned over in their graves when I ordered it done. 



Dim^USMT 

Bemkt — [With a tly grm-l Who d'jou have it 
done for, then? 

Emma — For you! Yes, for you, Benny- 
you'd )iave a nice, up-to-date place to came to wl 
you was on vacation from the horrid old army. 

Benny — [Kmbarraised.^ Well, it's great a* 
right. And it sure looks swell — nothing cheap 
about it. 

Emma — [Delighted.^ As long as you like it, I'm 
satisfied. \Then luddenly, wagging an admonithing 
pngcr at him arid Jiiding beneath a joking maimer 
an undercurrent of uneatiness.^ I was forgetting I 
got a bone to pick with you, young man ! I heard 
them sayin' to the store that you'd been up callin' 
on that Tilly Small evenin' before last. 

Benny — [ With a lady-kHler'a carelessness.'\ A', 
I was passin' by and she called me in, that's alL 

Emma — [Frowning,^ They said you had tht 
piano goin' and was singing and no end of high 
jinks. 

Benny — Aw, these small town boobs think you'n 
raising hell if you're up after eleven. 

Emma — [ExcitetRy.^ I ain't blamin' you. 
her — she ought to have better sense — at her a] 
too, when she's old enough to be your mother. 

Brnny — Aw, say, she ain't half as oh 
[Catching himsdf.'] Oh, 8he*8 an old fool, you' 
riglit there, Emmer. 

Emma — [Serrerely.^ And I hope you know 



e it . 

4 



DIFP'RENT SSI 

kind of woman she is and has been since she was a 

Bia*NT — [With a wrinA.] I wasn't bom yester- 
day. > I got her number long ago. I ain't in my 
cradle, get me! I'm in the armjt Oui! [Chuckles.^ 

Emma — [Fidgetting nervousltf.'] What'd you — 
what'd you do when you was there? 

Benny — Why, nothin'. I told her to cut the 
rou^ work and behave — and a nice time was had 
by all. [He grins provokinglj/.^ 

Emma — [Springs to lier feet nervoudy.l I don't 
know what to tliink— when you act so queer about it. 

Bennt— [Corrf^ssiy.] Well, don't think nothing 
wrong — 'cause there wasn't. Bill Tinker was with 
me and wc was both wishm' we had a drink. And 
Bill says, "Let's go see Tilly Small. She always 
has some buried and if we hand her a line of talk 
maybe she'll drag out the old bottle." So we did — 
and she did. We kidded her for a couple of drinks. 
[He snickers.'] 

Emma — [Stamding in front of Mm — fidgetting.] 
I want you to promise you won't go to see her no 
more. If you — if you want liquor now and again 
maybe I^ — mayhe I can fix it so's I can get some 
to keep here for you. 

Benny — [EagerlT/.l Say, that'd be great! Will 
you? [She nods. He goes on carelessly/. ] And 
sure I'll promise not to see Tilly no more. Gosh, 
what do you think I care about her? Or about 
any dame in this town, for that matter — 'ceptin* 






868 DIFFRENT 

YOU. Hiese small town skirts don't hand me nothin'. 
[With a grin.'i You forgot I was in France — and 
after the dames over there these birds here look 
some punk. 

Emma — \_Sit8 down — wetting her Ups.l And 
what — ^what are those French critters like? 

Benny — [ With a wink.'] Oh, boy ! They're some 
pippins ! It ain't so much that they're better lookin' 
as that they've got a way with 'em; — ^lots of ways. 
\_He laughs with a lasciviatu smirk.] 

Emma — \_Unconsciotislf/ hitches her chair nearer 
his. The turn the cowoersation has taken seems to 
have aroused a hectic^ morbid tnttensity in her. She 
contvMiaUy wets her Tips and pushes hack her hair 
from her flushed face as if it were stifling her,] 
What do you mean, Benny? What kind of ways 
have they got — them French girls? 

Benny — [Smirhmg mysteriously.] Oh, ways of 
dressin' and doin' their hair — and lots of ways. 

Emma — [Eagerly.] Tell me! Tell me all about 
'em. You needn't be scared — ^to talk open with me. 
I ain't as strict as I seem — about hearin' things. 
Tell me ! I've heard French girls was awful wicked. 

Benny — I don't know about wicked, but they're 
darned good sports. They'd do anything a guy'd 
ask 'em. Oui, tooty sweet! [Laughs fooUshly.] 

Emma — And what — ^what'd you ask 'em, for in- 
stance? 

Benny — [With a wvnk.] Curiosity killed a cat! 
Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies. 



DIFPRENT 253 

Emma — [Wiift queer, stupid insistence.'] But 
won't you tell me? Go on! 

Benny — Can't be did, Aunt Emmer, can't be 
did! [With a siUy laugh.] You're too young. No, 
all I'll say is, that to the boys wlio've knocked 
around over there the girls in town here are just 
rank amatoora. They don't know how to love and 
that's a fact. [He gets to hts feet.] And as for 
an old bum like Tilly — not me! Well, I guess I'll 
hike along 

Emma — [Getting up and putting a hand on his 
arm — feverishly.] No, don't go. Not yet — not yet. 
No, don't go. 

Benny — [Stepping awaif with an expression of 
repvlaion.^ Why not? What's the matter with you. 
Aunt Emmer? You look 'sif you was gettin' sick. 
[Before she can reply, Hahbiet's voice is heard caU- 
ing.] 

Haehiet — Benny ! Benny ! [This acts like a 
paH of cold water on Emma who moves away from 
Bennt qtiickly.] 

Emma — That's Harriet. It's your Ma calling, 
Benny. 

Beknt — [iTnpatientlT/.l I know. That means 
Uncle Caleb has come and she's told him her stories 
and it's up to me to go catch hell. [Stopping 
Emma as she goes toward the door as if to answer 
Hakeiet's haU.] Don't answer, Aunt Emmer. Let 
her come over here to look. I want to speak to her 
and find out how I stand before he sees me. 



SH 



BIFWfiM^*' 



EjcitA — [DcubtfuUf/.l I don't know as sWll 
come. She's been actin' funny to me lately, Har- 
riet has, and ehe ain't put her foot in my door the 
last month. 

Bekny — [At his mothei^i voice it heard muei 
•nearer, calling "Brnmy/"] There! Sure she's 
comin'. 

Emma — l^Flustered.^ Land sakes, 1 can't let 1 
sue me this way. I got to run upstairs and tidy my- 
self a little. [She itartg for the door at right.] 

Benny — [Flatteringly.] Aw, jou look i 
Tliem new duds you got looks great. 

Emma — [Turning in the doorway — coquet tiihly.] 
Oh, them French girls ain't the only ones knows hoi 
to fix up. [She flotmcet out. Benny stands looking 
after her tcith a derisii'e grin of contempt. Tker 
M a sharp hnock on the door in tite rear. Benk 
goes to open it, his expression turning surly on 
svMen. Hakbiet enters. She wears an apron OTier he 
old-fashioned black dress with a brooch at tfie neck 
Her hair is gray, fier face thin, lined, and carei 
with a fretful, contintMusly irritated expression 
Her shoulders stoop, and her figure is flabby i 
u^y. She stares at her son xcitk resentful awno^ 
ance.] 

Habbiet — Ain't you got sense enough, you b 
lump, to answer mc when I call, and not have t 
shouting my lungs out? 

Benny — I never heard you callin'. 

Habsiet — You're lyin' and you know it. [TAfll 



DIPF'RENT J6B 

severeli/.} Your uncle's to home. He's waitin' to 
talk to yoa. 

Benny — ^Let liim wait. [In a tnarling tone.^ I 
s'pose you've been givin' him an earful of lies about 
mc? 

Habeiet — I told him the truth, if that's what you 
mean. How you stole the money out of the bureau 
drawer 

Benny — \^Alarmed but pretending icom.^ Aw, 
you don't know it was me. You don't know nothin' 
about it. 

Habbiet — [Ignoring this.'] And about your dis- 
gracin' liim and me with your drunken carryinVon 
with that harlot, Tilly Small, night after night. 

Benny — Aw, wha'd you know about that? 

Habriet — And last but not least, the sneakin' 
way you're makin' a silly fool out of poor Emmer 
Crosby. 

Benny — [With a grm.] You don't notice her 
kickin' about it, do you? [Brusquely.] Why don't 
you mind your own business. Ma? 

Habbiet — [Violently.] It's a shame, that's what 
it is ! That I should live to see the day when a son 
of mine'd descend so low he'd tease an old woman 
to get money out of her, and her alone in the world. 
Oh, you're low, you're low all through like your Fa 
was — and since you been in the army you got bold 
so you ain't even ashamed of your dirtiness no 
more! 

Benny — [In a snarling whisper.] That's right! 



^■p I>XFP*itCMT * 

^Pbine it all on me. I s'pose stie ain't got nothin' to 
do with it. [H'ifA a wink.\ You ou^t«r see her 
perform sometimes. You'd get wise to something 
then, 

Habriet — Shut up! You've got the same filthy 
mind your Pa had. As for Emmer, I don't hold her 
responsible. She's been gettin' fli^ity the past two 
years. She couldn't help it, livin' alone the wayj 
she does, shut up in this house all her life. Yau. 
ought to be 'shamed to take advantage of her con- 
dition- — but shame ain't in you. 

Benht— Aw, give us a rest! 

Habhiet — [.JngrH/y.] Your Uncle Caleb'U give 
you a rest when he sees you! Him and me's ngreeil 
not to give you another single penny if you was to 
get down on your knees for it. So there ! You can 
git along on your army pay from this out. 

Benny — [Worried by the finality in her tone — 
placativgl}/-^ Aw, say. Ma, what's eatin' you? 
What've I done that's so bad? Gosh, you ougtita 
know some of the gang I know in the army. You'll 
think I was a saint if you did. [Tn/ing a confiden- 
tial tone.] Honest, Ma, this here thing with Aunt 
Emmcr ain't my fault. How can I help it if she 
goes bugs in her old age and gets nutty about 
[With a tly grin — in a vfliisper.^ Gee, Ma, yoi 
oughter see her to-day. She's a scream, honest 
She's upstairs now gettin' calmed down. She was 
gettin' crazy when you're callin* stopped hor. 
till she comes down and you git a look! She'll pi 



1 



DIFFTRENT SS7 

your eye out— all dolled up like a kid of sixteen and 
«nough paint on her mush for a Buffalo Bill In- 
dian 

Harriet — [Staring at him with stem condemnor- 
(ton.] You're a worthless loafer, Benny Rogers, 
same as your Pa was. 

Bekny — [Frustrated trnd furious.^ Aw, gVaO 
with that bunk! [He turns away from, her.l 

Harriet — And I'm goin' to tell Emma about you 
and try to put some sense back into her head. 

Benny- — Go ahead. You'U get fat runnin' me 
down to her! 

Harsiet^ — And if my word don't have no influ- 
ence, I'll tell your Uncle Caleb everything, and get 
him to talk to her. She'll mind him. 

Benny — [Vef-antly.^ You just try it, that's all! 

Hasrlet — I've been scared to do morc'n hint 
about it to him. I'm hopin' any day Emma'U come 
oat of this foolishness, and he'll never know. 

Benny — ^Aw ! 

Harriet — If shame was in you, you'd remember 
your Uncle Caleb's been in love with Emma all his 
life and waited for her year after year hopin' in 
the end she'd change her mind and marry him. And 
she will, too, I believe, if she comes out of this fit 
in her sane mind — which she won't if you keep fus- 
sin' with her. 

Bknny — [With revengeful trki/mph.^ She'll never 

Iirry the old cuss — I'll fix that! 
Harriet — Now you're showin' yourself up for 



IRS 



MWRMIT 



what Toil are! And I kin sec it's come to the p'int 
where I got to tell j-our Uncle Caleb cvcrythin' no 
matter how it breaks him up. I got to do it foi 
Kmmcr's sake as well as his'o. We got to get her 
cured of your bad influence once and for all. lih 
the only hope for the two of 'em. 

Benny — You just try it! 

Harbiet — And as for jou, you get back to the 
army where you b^ong! And don't never eipcct 
another cent from me or Caleb 'cause you won't get 
it ! And don't never come to see us again till you've 
got rid of the meanness and filth that's the Rogers 
part of you and found the honesty and decency 
that's the Williams part — If you got any of me in 
you at all, which I begin to doubt. [Goes to tlu 
door in rear.] And now I'm goln' back to Caleb — 
and you better not let him find you here when Be 
comes less'n you want a good liidin' for once in your 
life, [She goes oaf.] 

Benny — [Stammering between fear omZ rag^— 
shouting after her.^ G'wan! Tellium! What the 
hell do I care.'' I'll fix him! I'll spill the beans 
for both of you, if you try to gum me! [He standi 
in the middle of the room hesitating whether to run 
away or stay, concentrating his thoftghts on finding 
some way to make good his bluff. Suddenly his foci 
lights up with a cruel grin and he mutters to hims^j 
with savage satisfaction,'] By God, that's it! Fll 
bet I kin work it, too ! By God, that'll fix 'em ! [Bt 



^69 

chuckles and goes qvicHy to the door on right ajid 
calls up to the floor above.^ Eramer! Emmer! 

Emma — [Her voice faintly heard answervng.^ 
Yes, Benny, I'm conaing. 

Benny — [He calls qvickly,^ Come down! Come 
down quick! [He comes back to the center of the 
room, where he stands waiting, plartmng his course 
of action.^ 

Emma— [Appears in the doorwaif. Her face u 
profusely powdered — tuith neraous excitement.^ 
Benny! What's the matter? You sounded so — why 
wherc's your Ma? 

Benny — Gone. Gone back to home. 

Emma — [Offendedly.^ Without waiting to see 
me? Why, I only sat down far a minute to give you 
a chance to talk to her. I was coming right down. 
Didn't she want to see me? Whatever's got into 
Harriet lately? 

Benny — She's mad as thunder at you 'cause I 
come oier here so much 'stead of stayin' to home 
with her. 

Emma— [Pleased.Ji Oh, is that why? Well, if 
she ain't peculiar! [She sits m a rocker by the 
table.^ 

Benny — [With a great pretence of grief, taking 
one of her hands in fti*.] Say, Emmcr — what I 
called you down for was — I want to say good-bye 
and thank you for all you've done 

Emma — [F right enedly.^ Good-bye? How you 
say that! What ? 



Bbnkt — Good-bye for good this tine. 

EniA — For good? 

Benny — Yep. I've got to beat it. I ain't i 
home here no mere. Mia and Uncle Caleb, they've 
chucked me out. 

Emma — Good gracious, what're you saying? 

Benny — That's what Ma come over to tell me — 
tliat Uncle Caleb'd said I'd never get another cent 
from him, alive or after he's dead, and she said for 
me to git back to the army and never to come home 
Again. 

Emma — {^Gaspmg.^ She was only joking. She 
— they couldn't mean it, 

Benny — If you'd heard her you wouldn't think 
she was joking. 

Emma — [As he makes a movement as if to go 
away.] Benny! You can't go! Go, and me never 
see you again, maybe! You can't! I won't have it' 

Benny — I got to, Emmer, What else is there for 
me to do when they've throwed me out ? I don't givi 
a damn about leaving them — but I hate to leave 
you and never see you again. 

Emua — [Excitedly — grabbing Ms arm.l You 
can't! I won't let you go! 

Benny — I .lon't want to — but what can I do? 

Emma — Yo-i can stay here with me. 

Benny — [''m eyes gleaming with satiafaciicii,] 
No, I couldn . You know this dump of a town, ' 
Folks would hi sayin' all sorts of had things in d" 
time. I don't care for myself. They're all do"n 



DIFFRENT 



261 



.nyway because I'm dilf rent from small-town 
(Obs like them and they hate me for it. 
Emma- — Yes, you are diff'rent. And I'll show 'em 
1 diifrent, too. You can stay with me — and let 
1 gossip all they've a mind to ! 

Bennt^ — No, it wouldn't be actin' square with 

I got to go. And I'll try to save up ray pay 

[ send you back what I've borrowed now and 

Emma — [More and ware wrought !ip,] I won't 
hear of no such thing. Oh, I can't understand your 
Ma and your Uncle Caleb bein' so cruel! 

Benny — Folks have been lyin' to her about me, 
like I told you, and she's told him. He's only too 
glad to believe it, too, long as it's bad. 

Emma^ — I can talk to your Uncle Caleb. He's al- 
ways minded me more'n her. 

Benny — [Hastily.] Don't do that, for God's 
 sake ! You'd only make it worse and get yourself 
in Dutch with him, too ! 

Emma — [Bemlderedlff.^ But — ^I— don't see ' 

Benny— [flow.^%.] Well, he's still stuck, on 
you, ain't he? 

EiTMA — [With a flash of coquetry.^ iNow, Benny ! 

Benny — I ain't kiddin'. This is dead serious. 
He's stuck on you and you know it. 

Emma — [Coyly.] I haven't given hLa the slight- 
est reason to hope in thirty years. 

Benny- — Well, he hopes just the same. Sure he 
does! Why Ma said when she was here just now 



868 DIFPRENT 



she'd bet you and him'd be married some day yet. 

Emma — ^No such thing! Why, she must be crazy! 

Benxt — Oh, she ain't so crazy. Ain't he spent 
every dum evenin' of the time he's to home between 
trips over here with you — ^for the last thirty years? 

Emma — ^When I broke my engagement I said I 
wanted to stay friends like we'd been before, and we 
always have; but every time he'd even hint at bein' 
engaged again I'd always tell him we was friends 
only and he'd better leave it be that way. There's 
never been nothing else between us. \^With a coy 
smile. "ji And besides, Benny, you know how little 
time he's had to home between viges. 

Benny — I kin remember the old cuss marchin' 
over here every evenin' he was to home since I was a 
kid. 

Emma — \_With a titter of ddight."] D'you know, 
Benny, I do actually believe you're jealous! 

Benny — \_Loudltf — to lend conviction.'] Sure I'm 
jealous! But that ain't the point just now. The 
point 18 he* 8 jealous of me — and you can see what 
a swell chance you've got of talkin' him over now, 
can't you ! You'd on'y make him madder. 

Emma — [^Embarrassedly.] He's getting foolish. 
What cause has he got 

Benny — When Ma tells him the lies about us — " 

Emma — {Excitedly.'] What lies? 

Benny — I ain't goin' to repeat 'em to you bat 
you kin guess, can't you, me being so much over 
here? 



DIFF'RENT 

E^MA — [Springing to her feet — shocked but 
pleased,^ Oh! 

Benny — ITummg away from her.] And now 
I'm going to blow. I'll stay at Bill Grainger's to- 
night and get the morning train. 

Emma — [Grabbwg his arm.^ No such thing! 
Youll stay right here ! 

Benny— I can't— Emmer, If you was really my 
aunt, things'd be diiPrent and I'd tell 'em all to go 
to hell. 

Emma — ^^SimliTig at him coquettishly.'] But I'm 
glad I ain't your aunt. 

Benny — Well, I mean if you was related to rae 
in some way. [At strme noige he hears from without, 
he starts frigktenedly.] Gosh, that sounded like 
our front door slamming. It's him and he's coming 
over. I got to beat it out the back way. [He starts 
for the door on the rtght.^ 

Emma — [Clinging to himi.^ Benny! Don't go! 
Vou musn't go ! 

Benny — [Itispired by alarm and desire for re- 
venge suddenly blurts ou.t.^ Say, let's me 'n' you git 
married, Emmer — tomorrow, eli? Then I kin stay! 
That^l stop 'em, damn 'em, and make 'em leave me 
alone. 

Emma — [Dazed with joy.] Married? You V 
me? Oh, Benny, I'm too old. [S}ie hides her head 
on his shoulder. '\ 

Benny — [Hurriedly, tinth one anxious eye on ike 
itoor.] No, you ain't! Honest, you ain't! You're 



264 DIFPRENT 

the best guy in this town! \_ShaJeing her in Jus 
anxiety. 1 Say yes, Emmer! Say you will — ^first 
thing tomorrow. 

Eatma — [Choking with emotion.^ Yes — ^I will — 
if I'm not too old for you. 

Benny — [Jtibilantlff.'] Tell him. Then he'll see 
where he gets off ! Listen ! I'm goin' to beat it to 
the kitchen and wait. You come tell me when he's 
gone. [A knock comes at the door. He whispers,] 
That's him. I'm goin'. 

Emma — [Embracing him fiercdy.'] Oh, Benny! 
[She kisses him on the lips. He chicks cnoay from 
her and disappears off right. The knock is re- I 
peated. Emma dabs tremblingly at her cheeks wiik 
a handkerchief. Her force is beaming tenth happiness 
and looks indescribably sUly. She trips lightly to 
the door and opens it — forcing a lights careless 
tone.l Oh, it's you, Caleb. Come right in and set. 
I was kind of expecting you. Benn^ — ^I'd heard 
you was due to home tonight. [He comes in and 
shakes the hand she holds out to him in a limp, 
vague, absent-minded manner. In appearance, he 
has changed but little in the thirty years save that 
his hair is now nearly white and his face more 
deeply lined and wrinkled. His body is still erect, 
strong and vigorous. He wears dark clothes, much 
the same as he was dressed in Act One.'\ 

Caleb — [Mechanically.^ Hello, Emmer. [Once 
inside the door, he stands staring about the roo% 
frowrmtg. The garish strangeness of eoerything 



DIFF'RENT 265 

evidently repds and puzsles htm. His face wears its 
set expression of an emotionless mask but his eyes 
cannot conceal an inward struggle, a baffled and 
painful attempt to compreJiend, a wounded look of 
beuMdered hiirt.'\ 

Emma — [Blithely indifferent to this — pleas- 
antly.^ Are jou looking at the changes I've made? 
You ain't seen this room since, have jou? Of course 
not. What ami thinking of ? They only got through 
with the work two weeks ago. Well, what d' you 
think of it? 

Caleb- — [FrowmTig — hesitatingly,^ Why — ^it's — 
all right, I reckon. 

Emma- — It was so gloomy and old-timey before, 
I just couldn't bear it. Now it's light and airy and 
young-looking, don't you think? [With a sigh.^ I 
suppose Pa and Ma turned over in their graves. 

Caleb— [Gri7n/i/.] I reckon they did, too. 

Emma — ^Why, you don't mean to tell me you don't 
like it neither, Caleb? [TJien as he doesn't reply, — 
resentfully.^ Well, you always was a sot, old- 
fashioned critter, Caleb Williams, same as they was. 
[She plumps herself into a rocker by the table— 
fJ:cn, noticing the lost way in which he is looking 
rhout Aim.] Gracious sakes, why don't you set, 
Caleb? You give me the fidgets standing that way! 
You ain't a stranger that's got to be in\Hted, are 
you? [Then suddenly realizing the cause of his dis- 
comfifure, she smiles pityingly, not jeithout a trace 
of malice.'l Are you looking for your old chair 



266 DIFFRENT 

you used to set in? Is that it? Well, I had it put 
up in the attic. It didn't fit in with them new things. 

Caleb — [DtiZZ^.] No, I s'pose it wouldn't. 

Emma — [Indicating a chair next to hers.'\ Do 
set down and make yourself to home. [^He does so 
gingerly. After a pause she asks perfwnctorUy,] 
Did you have good luck this voyage? 

Caleb — \_Again duUt/.'\ Oh, purty fair. [He 
begins to look at her as if he were seeing her for 
the first time^ noting every detail with a numb, 
stunned astonishment,^ 

Emma — ^You're looking as well as ever. 

Caleb — [DuUy,^ Oh, I ain't got nothin' to com- 
plain of. 

Emma — ^You're the same as me, I reckon. [Hap- 
pily*^ Why I seem to get feelin' younger and more 
chipper every day, I declare I do. [She becomes wnr 
comfortably aware of his examination — nervously.] 
Land sakes, what you starin' at so? 

Caleb — [Brusquely blurting out his disap- 
proval.'] You've changed, Emmer — changed so I 
wouldn't know you, hardly. 

Emma — [Resentfully.] Well, I hope you think 
it's for the best. 

Caleb — [Evasivdy.] I ain't enough used to it 
yet — ^to telL 

Emma — [Offended.] I ain't old-timey and old- 
maidy like I was, I guess that's what you mean. 
Well, I just got tired of mopin' alone in this house, 
waiting for death, to take me and not enjoyin' any- 



DIFF'RENT 267 

thing. I was gettin' old before my time. And all 
*t once, I saw what was happenin' and I made up 
uxy mind I was going to get some fun out of what 
Pa'd left me while I was still in the prime of life, 
as you might say. 

Cai.eb — [Severely/. 'j Be that paint and powder 
you got on your face, Emmer."' 

£)kima — [Embarrassed by this direct qurstioji.] 
Why, yes — I got a little mite — it's awful good for 
your complexion, they say — and in the cities now all 
the women wears it. 

Caleb — [Sternly.^ The kind of women I've seed 

in cities wearin' it [He cJiecks himself amd asks 

abruptly/,] Wam't your hair tumin' gray last time 
I was to home? 

Emma — [Flustered.^ Yea — yea — so it was — but 
then it started to come in again black as black all 
of a sudden. 

Caleb — [Glancing at Tier shoes, stockings, and 
dress.^ You're got up in them things like a young 
girl goin' to a dance. 

Emma^ — [Forcing a defi-atit laugk.^ Maybe I will 
go soon's I learn — and Benny's goin' to teach me. 

Caleb — [Keeping his rage in control — heavilif,'\ 
Benny 

Emma — [Suddenly hunting into hysterical 
tears.^ And I think it's real mean of you, Caleb— 
naatj mean to come here on your first night to home 
— an d — make — fun — of —my — clothes — and eve r y- 
tliing. [She hides Iter face in her hands and sobs.^ 



£68 



DIFFRENT 




Calkb — [Overcome by remorie — forgetting h\ 
rage inttantly — gett np and pati her on the ahovl- 
Str — viih rough tetidemets.] Tliar. thar. Eminer'. 
Don't cry, now! I didn't mean nothin'. Don't pay 
no ■'tention to what I said. I'm a durned old fool I 
What the hc-U do I know o* women's fixin's any- 
how? And I reckon I be old-fashioned and 6ot in 
my ideas. 

Emma — [Reaimred — prenmg one of hit handi 
gratefully.] It hurts — ^hearing you say — ^me 'n' 
you such old friends and 

Caleb — Forgit it, Emmer. I won't say no more 
about it. [She dries her eyes and regains her com- 
posure. He goes back to his seat, his face greathj 
softened, looking at her xeith the bliTui eyes of love. 
There is a pause. Finally, he ventures in a genth 
tone.] D'jou know what time this be, Emmer? 

Emma — [Puzzled.] I don't know exactly, bu; 
there's a clock in the next room. 

Caleb — [Quickly.] Hell, I don't mean that kiinJ 
o* time. 1 mean — it was thirty years ago this 
■pring. 

Emma — [HastS.y.] Land sakes, don't let's talt 
of that. It only gets me thinking how old I am. 

Caleb — [VKiffc an affectionate smUe.] We both 
got to realize now and then that we're gettin' old. 

Emma — [Bridling.] That's all right for you fc 
say. You're twelve years older 'n me, don't fo 
Caleb. 



DIFF'RENT 



Caleb — [Siniling.^ Waal, even that don't make 
ou out no spring chicken, Eramer. 

Emma — {Stiffiy.'] A body's as old as they feels 
-and I feel right young. 

Caleb — Waal, so do I as far as health goes. I'm 
B able and sound as ever. [After a pause.'] But, 
iat I meant was, d'you remember what happened 
ilirty years back. 

Emma — I suppose I do. 

Caleb — D'you remember what I said that day? 

Emma — [Primly.] You said a lot that it's better 
J forget, if you ask me. 

Caleb — I don't mean — that part of it. I mean 

rhen I was sayin' good-bye, I said [He gasps 

-then blurts it out.'] I said I'd wait thirty years 
-if need be. [After a pause.] I know you told 
le time and again not to go back to that. On'y — 

was thinkin' all this last vige — that maybe — now 
1 the thirty years are past — I was tliinkin* that 

jaybe [He looks at her humbly, imploring 

ome encouragement. She stares straight before 
, her mouth set ihiidy. He sighs forlornly and 
himders onJ] Thirty jears^that's a hell of a 
sng time to wait, Emmer — makin' vige after vige 
Iways alone — and feclin' even more alone in between 
mes when I was to home livin' right next door to 
ou and callin' on you every evenin'. [A pause.] 
re made money enough, I know — but what the hell 
wd's that to me — long as you're out of it? [A 
ntie,] Seems to me, Emmer, thirty o* the best 



S70 bui'iniSi^^^^^^ 

ycara of a man's life ought to be proof enough to yoa 
to make you forget — that one slip o' mine. 

EuMA — [Rouaitig hertelf — forcing a cardeti 
tone.'i Land sakcs, I forgot all about that long 
ago. And here you go remindin' me of it ! 

Caleb — [Doggedli/.l You ain't answered what I 
was drivin* at, Emmcr. \_A pause; then, ag if tad- 
daily afraid of ickat her anrxer mil be, hg brtakk 
out quickly.} And I don't want you to 
right now, neither. I want jou to take time to 
think it all over. 

Emma — [Feebly Anisttv.] All right, Caleb, 11 
think it over. 

Calkb — [After a •paute.^ Somehow — seemi I 
me 'sif — you might really need me now. You new 
did before. 

Emma — [Sutpiciouily.'\ Why should I need j 
now any more'n any other time. 

Caleb — [Embarratsedly.'\ Oh, I juat fed t! 
way. 

Emma — It ain't count o' nothin' Harriet's I 
tellin' you, is it? [Stiffly.'] Her 'n' me ain't aui 
good friends no more, if you must know. 

Caleb — [FroxDTmig.] Her 'n' me nearly had 
fight right before I came over here. [Emma atarti, 
Harriet lets her tongue run away with her and saj 
dumb fool things she don't really mean. I didn 
pay much 'tention to what she was sayin' — but i 
riled me jest the same. She won't repeat sue 
foolishness after the piece o' my mind I gave her. 



DQT'RENT 



871 



MMA — What did she say? 

Ialeb — Oh, nothin' worth tellin', [A pati^e.} 
b neither you nor me ought to get mad at Har- 
; serious. We'd ouglit, by all rights, to make 
'Allowances for her. You know's well as me what a 
hard time she's had. Bein' married to Alf Rogers 
for five years'd pizin' any woman's life. 

plMUA — No, he wasn't much good, there's no de- 



Eai^eb — ^And now there's Benny drivin' her crazy. 

Emma — ^Instantly defensive.} Benny's all right! 
I&LEB — [Staring at her skarpli/ — -after a paiise.^ 
f that's jest it. He ain't all right, Eramer. 

Emma — He is, too ! He'a as good as gold ! 

Caleb — [FroKwn^ — with a trace of resentment.^ 
You kin say so, Emmer, but the facts won't bear 
yoii out. 

Emma— [Ej7cif(r%.] What facts, Caleb Wil- 
liams P If you mean the nasty lies the folks in thi» 
town are mean enough to gossip about him, I don't 
believe any of 'cm. I ain't such a fool. 

Caleb — ^Bitterly.] Then you've changed, Em- 
mer. You didn't stop about believin' the fool stories 
ritey gossiped about me that time. 
^BBmua — You owned up yourself that was true! 
^RJaleb— And Bcnny'd own up if he was half the 
man I was! [Angrili/.] But he ain't a man noways. 
He's a mean skunk from truck to keelson! 

Emma — [Sprijiging to her feet."] Oh! 

Caleb — IVehrmenfly.] I ain't judged him by 



9m DIFPRENT 

what folks have told me. But I've watched him grow 
np from a boy and every time I've come to home 
IVe seed he was gittin' more 'n' more like his Pa — 
and yon know what a low dog Alf Rogers turned 
out to be, and what a hell he made for Harriet. 
Waal, I'm sajrin' this boy Benny is just Alf all 
over again — on'y worse ! 

Emma — Oh ! 

Caleb — ^They ain't no Williams' blood left in 
Benny. He's a mongrel Rogers! [Trying to calm 
himself a little (vnd he cowoincvng.'\ Listen, Emmer. 
You don't suppose I'd be sayin' it, do you, if it 
wasn't so? Ain't he Harriet's boy? Ain't I brought 
him up in my own house since he was knee-high? 
Don't you know I got some feelin's 'bout it and I 
wouldn't hold nothing agen him less'n I knowed it 
was true? 

Emma — [Harshly. 1 Yes, you would! You're 
only too anxious to believe all the bad you can 
about him. You've always hated him, he says — ^and 
I can see it's so. 

Caleb — [RougMyJ] You know damned well it 
ain't, you mean! Ain't I talked him over with you 
and asked your advice about him whenever I come 
to home? Ain't I always aimed to do all I could to 
help him git on right? You know damned well I 
never hated him! It's him that's always hated me! 
[VengefullyJ^ But I'm begining to hate him now 
— and I've good cause for it ! 

Emma — [F right enedly.l What cause? 



Causb — [Ignoring her question.] I seed what 
he was comin' to years back. Then I thought when 
the war come, and he was drafted into it, that the 
army and strict discipline 'd maybe make a man o' 
him. But it ain't! It's made him worse! It's killed 
whatever mite of decency was left in him. And I 
reckon now that if you put a coward in one of them 
there uniforms, he thinks it gives him the privilege 
to be a bully! Put a sneak in one and it gives him 
the courage to be a thief! That's why when the 
war was over Benny enlisted again 'stead o' goin' 
whalin' with me. He thinks he's found a good shield 
to cover up his natural-born laziness — and crooked- 



Emma — [Outraged.] You can talk that way 
about him that went way-over to France to shed his 
blood for you and me! 

Caleb — I don't need no one to do my fightin' for 
me — against German or devil. And you know 
dumed well he was only in the Quartermaster's De- 
partment unloadin' and truckin' groceries, as safe 
from a gun as you and me be this minute. [TTitA 
heavy scorn.] If he shed any blood, he must have 
got a nose bleed. 

Emma — Oh, you do hate him, I can see it! And 
you're just as mean as mean, Caleb Williams! All 
you've said is a wicked lie and you've got no 
cause 

Caleb — I ain't, eh? I got damned good cause, 
I tell yc! I ain't minded his meanness to me. I 



K^ cf«B gbe ms Hadi beed to Ini ■■>*"■*<■■. to Har- 
riet MM Fd ooglit to haire, Brnjlie. Bat wfaoi he 
ftarts IB Ilk tir atin* thiercrj vitli too, Eonffy 
I pot mj foot down on Ibn for good and all ! 

EioiA— What soeakix:' thkrerr with me? Hov 
danr TOO saj ssKh things? 

Calzm — ^I got pnxif iVs tme. Whj, he*« eia 
b^^gg^ ^ <^^^ tovn about ban' aUe to borrov 
all the moner from Toa he'd a mind to — boastin' 
of what an old fool be was makin' of too, with too 
fixin' op jour boose all new to git him to comin' 
oTcr. 

ExMA — [Scadei — bZozaag.] Ifs a lie ! He nefer 
said it! You're makin' it all up — ^caose yon' 



'cause you're 

Calkb — ^'Cause Fm what, Emmer? 

Emma — [Flinging it at him like a socage iamfU.] 
'Cause you're jealous of him, that's what! Any 
fool can see that! 

Caleb — [Getting to his feet and facing her^ 
slowly. '\ Jealous? Of Benny? How — I don't see 
your meanin' rightly. 

Emma — [With triumphant maliceJ\ Yes, you do! 
Don't pretend you don't! You're jealous 'cause yoo 
know I care a lot about him. 

Caleb — [SlowlyJl Why would I be jealous 
'coimt o' that? What kind o' man d'you take me 
for? Don't I know you must care for him when 
you've been a'most as much a mother to him for 
years as Harriet was? 




DIFF'RENT 275 

LSmua — [Wownded to the quick — fttrioiisly.^ No 
Bch thing! You're a mean liar! I ain't never 
played a mother to him. He's never looked at me 
that way — never ! And I don't care for him that 
way at all. Just because I'm a mite older 'n him — 
can't them things happen just as well as any other — 
what d'you suppose — can't I care for him same 
as any woman cares for a man? And I do ! I care 
moro'n I ever did for you ! And that's why you're 
lying about him! You're jealous of that! 

Caleb — [Staring at her with stunned eyes — in a 
hoarse whisper.^ Emmer! Ye don't know what 
you're sayin', do ye? 

Emma — I do too! 

Caleb — Harriet said you'd been actin' out o' 
your right senses. 

Emma — Harriet's mad because she knows Benny 

loves me better 'n her. And he does love me! He 

don't mind ray bein' older. He's said so! And I 

love him, too! 

!J Caleb — [Stepping back from her in horror.^ 

^ Emmer! 

Emma— -And he's asked me to marry him to- 
morrow. And I'm goinj; to! Then you can all lie 
all you've a mind to ! 

Caleb — You're — going to — marry Benny? 

Emma — First thing tomorrow. And since you've 
throwed him out of his house in your mad jealous- 
less, I've told him he can stay here with me to- 
light. And he's going to! 



«76 DIFPRENT 

Caleb — [JKt fists clenching — tensdy.l Where— 
where is the skunk now? 

Emma — [HasiUtf.'] Oh, he ain't here. He's gone 
up street. 

Caleb — [Starting for the door m rear.l Tm 
goin' to find the skunk. 

Emma — [^Seizing his arms — frightenedly.'\ What 
're you going to do? 

Caleb — [Between his clenched teeth.'] I don't 

know, Emmer — I don't know On'y he ain't 

goin* to marry you, by God ! 

Emma — Caleb! [She tries to throw her arms 
about him to stop his going. He pushes her flmdg 
but gently aside. She shrieks.] Caleb! [She 
flings herself on her knees and wraps her arms arou/nd 
his legs in supplicating terror.] Caleb! You aint 
going to kill him, Caleb? You ain't going to hurt 
him, be you? Say you ain't! Tell me you won't 
hurt him! [As she thinks she sees a relenting soft* 
ness come into his face as he looks down at her!\ 
Oh, Caleb, you used to say you loved me! Don't 
hurt him then, Caleb, — ^for my sake! I love hinij 
Caleb! Don't hurt him — ^just because you think Fm 
an old woman ain't no reason — and I won't marry 
you, Caleb. I won't — ^not even if you have waited 
thirty years. I don't love you. I love him! And 
I'm going to marry him — tomorrow. So you wont 
hurt him, will you, Caleb — ^not when I ask you on my 
knees ! 

Caleb — [Breaking away from her with a shuddif 



of dUgutt.1 No, I won't touch him. If I was 
wan tin' to git even with ye, I wouldn't dirty my 
hands on him. I'd let you marry the skunk and set 
and watch what happened — or else I'd offer him 
money not to raarry ye — more money than the little 
mite you kin bring him — and let ye see how quick 
he'd turn his back on ye! 

Emma — [Getting to her feet — frenxiedly.'] It's m 
lie ! He never would ! 

Caleb — [Unheeding- — with a sudden ominoui 
caZm.] But I ain't goin' to do neither. You ain't 
worth it — and he ain't — and no one ain't, nor noth- 
in'. Folks be all crazy and rotten to the core and 
I'm done with the whole kit and caboodle of 'cm. I 
kin only see one course out for me and I'm goin' 
to take it. "A dead whale or a stove boat?" we says 
in whalin* — and my boat is stove! [He stridet away 
from her, ttopt, and turtit back — savagely.'\ Thirty 
o' the best years of my life flung for a yeller dog like 
him to feed on. God! You used to say you was 
diffrent from the rest o' folks. By God, if you are, 
it's just you're a mite madder'n they be! By God, 
that's all! [He ffoet, letting the door tlam to behind 
him.^ 

Emua — [In a pitiful «'himper,'\ Caleb! [She 
nnki into a chair btf the table sobbing hystericaUy. 
Bermy tneakt through the door on right, hestitatei 
for a tchUe, afraid that hit uncle may he coining 
hack.^ 



«rs 



DlFF'HEKT 



Bennt — [Finally, in a thrill whitpsr.'] 
Emnier! 

EuMA — [Raiting h^ face to look at him f 
tecond.] Oh, Benny! [She faUt to weeping dg 

Benny — Say, you don't think he's liable to 
back, do youF 

Emma — No — he'll — never — come back here 
more. [Soht bitterlt/.^ 

Bessy — [Hit courage reluming, comes for 
into the room.] Say, he's way up in the air, 
he? [With a grin-^ Say, that was some ballin 
he give you ! 

Emma — You — you heard what he said? 

Bensv — Sure thing. When you got to sho 
I sneaked out o' the kitchen into there to hear 
was goin* on. [ITif/t a complacsTU gritt,^ 
you certainly stood up for rae all right. You 
good old scout at that, d'you know it? 

Emma — [Raiting her absurd, hesiHeared fi 
lui, at if expecting him to hiat Aer.] Ob, Bi 
I'm giving up everytliing I've held dear all m; 
for your sake, 

Benny — [Turning awaj/ from her mth a tot 
aversion,^ Well, what about it? Ain't I wort 
Ain't I worth a million played-out old cranka 
him? [She ttares at him bewUderedly. He tal 
handful of almonds from his pocket and bi 
cracking and eating them, throwing the tkeUi oi 
floor vith an impudent carelessnets.'\ Hope 



DIFF'RENT «79 

don't mind my havio' a feed? I found them out in 
the kitchen and helped myself. 

£mma — [Pitifully,^ You're welcome to anything 
that's here, Benny. 

Benky — [Imolentltf.^ Sure, I know you're a 
good scout. Don't rub it in. \^After a pause — 
boastfully.^ Where did you get that stuff about 
askin' him not to hurt me? He'd have a swell 
chance ! There's a lot of hard guys in the array 
have tried to get funny with me till I put one over 
on *cm. I'd like to see him start something! I could 
lick him with my hands handcuffed, 

'EyiviK— -[Revolted.^ Oh ! 

Benny— [ffesCTtf/wZ/j/.] Think I'm bluffin'? Ill 
show you sometime. [He swaggers about the room 
— finalli/ stopping beside her. With a cu/tming leeT.'\ 
Say, I been thinkin' it over and I guess I'll call his 
bluff. 

Emma — [Confiisedly.'\ What — do you mean? 

Benny — I mean what he said just before he beat 
it — that he could get me not to marry you if he 
offered me more coin than you got. [Very inter- 
estedly.'] Say, d'you s'pose the old miser really 
was serious about that? 

Emma — [Dazedly — as if she could not realize the 
significance of his words.] I — ^I — don't know, 
Benny. 

Benny — [Swaggering dbottt again."] If I WM 
only sure he wasn't stallin' ! If I could get the old 
CUB3 to shell out that way ! [With a tickled 



«80 DIFFKEFT V 

chuckle.] Goth. UiatM be the real stunt aw ri^H 
Air right. Oui, oui! Maybe he wasn't kid<]iii*^| 
that, the old simp! It's worth takm* a stab .H 
damnod if it ain*t. I ain't got nothin' to lose. ^M 

F.MsiA — {Frightmfdly.] What — what're « 
tallcin* about, Dennj'P ^M 

Benny — Say, I think I'll go over and talk to M^ 
after a while. You can go over first to make sure he 
ain't there. I'll get her to put it up to him straight. 
If he's willin* to dig in his jeans for some real coin— 
rc.ll dough, this time!- — I'll agree to beat it and not 
spill the beans for him with you. \^Threateninglg.] 
And if he's too tight, I'll go right through with whst 
I said I would, if only to spite him! That's me! 

Emma — You mean — if he's willing to bribe you 
with money, you won't marry me tomorrow? 

Benny — Sure! If hell put up enough money. 1 
won't stand for no pikin'. 

Kmma — [iVhimpcring.^ Oh, Benny, you're only 
jokin', ain't you? You can't — you can't mean it! 

Besnv — [With carelest effrontery.] Why can't 
I? Sure I mean it! 

Emma — [Hiding her face in her hands — with n | 
tortured moan.] Oh, Benny! 

Benny^ — [Disgustedli/.^ Aw, don't go ballin 
[After a pause—a bit embarraasedly.] Aw, sm 
what d'you think, anyway? What're you takin' : 
ao damned serious for — me askin' you to marry n 
I mean? I was on'y sort of kiddin' anyway — just - 
you'd tell him and get his goat right. [As she loo'i' 

i 



DIFFRENT 881 

up at him with agonized despair. With a trace of 
something like pity showing irt his tone.^ Say, hon- 
est, Aunt Emmer, you didn't believe — you didn't 
think I was really stuck on you, did youP Ah, say, 
how could I? Have a heart! Why you're as old as 
Ma is, ain't you. Aunt Emmer? [He adds mthless- 
ly.] And I'll say you look it, too ! 

Emma— [Coir^nn^f — -as if he had struck her.^ 
Oh! Oh! 

Benny-^[^ hit irritated.] What's the use of 
blubberin', for God's sake? Can't you take it like a 
sport? Hell, I ain't lookin' to marry no one, if I can 
help it. What do I want a wife for? There's too 
many others. [After a pause — as she still sobs — 
calctdatmgly.'] Aw, come on, be a sport— and say, 
listen, if he ain't willin' to come across, I'll marry you 
all right, honest I will, [More and more calculat- 
ingly.] Sure! If they mean that stuff about kickin' 
me out of home — sure I'll stay here with you ! I'll 
do anything you want. If you want me to marry 
you, all you've got to do is say so — anytime ! Only 
not tomorrow, we'd better wait and see 

Emma — [Hysterically.] Oh, go away I Go away! 

Benny — [Looking down at her disgustedly.] Aw, 
come up for air, can't you? [He slaps her on the 
hack.] Buck up! Be a pal! Tell me what your 
dope is. This thing's got me so balled up I don't 
know how I stand. [Wiift sudden fury.] Damn 
his hide ! I bet he'll go and leave all he's got to some 
lousey orphan asylum now. 



288 DIFFRENT 

Emma — Oh, go away! Go away! 

Benny — [^Viciously.^ So you're givin' me the 
gate, too, eh? I'd like to see you try it ! You asked 
me to stay and I'll stick. It's all your fool fault 
that's got me in wrong. And now you want to shake 
me! This is what I get for foolin' around with an 
old hen like you that oughta been planted in the 
cemetery long ago! Faintin' your old mush and 
dressin' like a kid! Christ A'mighty! 

Emma — [/n a cry of despair.'\ Don't ! Stop ! Go 
away. 

Benny — [Sudderdy alert — sJiarply.'] Sh ! I hear 
someone coming. [STiakmg herJ\ Stop — now, 
Enuner ! Danm it, you gotta go to the door. Maybe 
it's him. [He scarries into the room on right. There 
is a faint knock at the door. Emma lifts hir head. 
She looks horribly old and worn out. Her face is 
frozen into an expressiordess masky her eyes are red, 
rimmed, dvU and lifeless. The knock is repeated more 
sharply. Emma rises like a weary automaton and 
goes to the door and opens it. Harriet is revealed 
standing outside.ll 

Harriet — [Making 7M> movcTnent to come inr- 
coldly.^ I want to speak to Caleb. 

Emma — [DuUy.^ He ain't here. He left a while 
back — said he was goin' up street — ^I think. 

Harriet — [Worriedly. li Oh, land sakes! [Then 
hostUely.^ Do you know where Benny is? 

Emma — [Dtdly.'\ Yes, he's here. 

Harriet — [Contempt twv^ly.l I might have 



DIFF-RENT 288 

guessed that! [IcUi/ formal.J Would you mind 
tellin' him I want to sec himP 

Emma — [Turns and calls. J Bennj! Here's jour 
Ma! . 

Benny — [Comes from the next roovi.^ Aw right. 
[In a fierce whisper as he passes Emma.] What d'you 
tell her I was here for, you old fool? 

Emma — [Gives no sign of having heard him but 
comes back to her chair and sits down. Bennt 
slouches to the door — svUevly.'\ What d'you want, 
Ma? 

Harriet — [Coldly.^ I wanted your Uncle Caleb, 
not you, but you'll have to do, bein' the only man 
about. 

Bekmy — [Suspiciously.^ What is it? 

Hahriet — [A bit f right enedly.^ I just heard a 
lot of queer noises down to the bam. Someone's in 
there, Benny, sure as I'm aliye. They're stealin' the 
chickens, must be. 

Benny — [Carelessly.'} It's only the rats. 

Harrif.t^ — [Angrily.'] Don't play the idiot! This 
was a big thumpin' noise no rat'd make, 

Benny — ^What'd any guy go stealin' this early — 
[As Harriet turns away angrily ^placatingly.'] Aw 
right, I'm coming. I'll have a look if that'll satisfy 
you. Don't go gettin' sore at me again. [ While he 
is speaking He goes out and disappears after his 
mother. Emma sits straight and stiff in her chair 
for a wkUe, staring before her with waxy eyes. Then 
she gets to her feet arid goes from window to window 



884 DIFFERENT 

taking down M the cturtains with quick mechanical 
movements. She throws them on a pUe in the middle 
of the floor. She lifts down the framed pictures from 
the walls and pHes them on the curtains. She takes 
the cushions and throws them on; pushes the rugs 
to the pile with her feet; sweeps everything off the 
table onto the floor. She does all this without a 
trace of change in her expression — rapidly^ but mth 
no apparent effort. There is the noise of rwrvrmg 
footsteps from outside and Bennt hursts into the 
room panting for breath. He is terribly excited and 
badly frightened.'] 

Bennt — \_Stops short as he sees the pUe on the 
floor.] What the hell 

Emma — [^DtMy.] The junk man's coming for 
them in the morning. 

Benny — [^Too excited to be surprised.] To heD 
with that ! Say, listen, Aunt Emmer, he's hung him- 
self — ^Uncle Caleb — in the bam — ^he's dead ! 

Emma — \^Slowly letting the words fall — like a be- 
ginner on the typewriter touching two new letters,] 
Caleb — dead ! 

Benny — \Volvble now.] Dead as a door nail! 
Neck's busted. I just cut him down and carried him 
to home. Say, you've got to come over and help 
look after Ma. She's goin' bugs. I can't do nothin' 
with her. 

Emma — [As before.] Caleb hanged himself-— in 
the bam ? 

Benny — ^Yes — ^and made a sure job of it. \W%t^ 



DIFF'RENT 885 

■morbid interest in the detaUs.^ Know how he did it? 
You know our bam. The same as joum a'most. 
Well, he got a halter — same as you got on your cow 
- — and he made a noose of the rope for his neck and 
climbed up in the loft and hitched the leather end to 
a beam and then let himself drop. He must have 
kicked in that quick! [He snaps his fingers — then 
urgently.} Say, come on. Come on over 'n' help mc 
with Ma, can't you? She's goin' wild. I can't do 
no thin' ! 

Emua — [Vaguely.^ I'll be over — in a minute. 
[Then with a sudden air of having decided some- 
thing irrevocably.} I got to go down to the bam. 

Benny — Bam.-' Say, are you crazy? He ain't 
there now. I told you I carried him home. 

Emma — I mean — my barn. I got to go down— — 

Benny — [Ea;asperated.} Oh hell ! You're as bad 
as Ma ! Everyone's lost their heads but me. Well, 
I got to get someone else, that's all. [He rushes out 
rear, slammmg the door behind him.} 

Emua — [After a tense pause — iiiith a sudden out- 
burst of wHd grief.} Caleb! [Then in a strange 
whisper.} Wait, Caleb, I'm going down to the bam, 
[^She moves like a sleepwcAker toward the door in the 



[T/i* Curtain Falls.} 



►-S..-.4 



71 ^ 



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55 



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