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STEWART KIDD MODERN PLAYS ?eF8( , e 

Vi Edited by Frank Shay 



SIX WHO PASS WHILE THE 
LENTILS BOIL 



otewart I\iaa Plays 

THE PROVINCETOWN PLAYS 

> : * * 

Ec/ited by GEORGE CRAM COOK and FRANK SHAY 
With a foreword by HUTCH INS HAPGOOD 

Containing the ten best plays produced by the Province- 
town Players, which are: 

"SUPPRESSED DESIRES", George Cram Cook and Susan Glaspell. 

"ARIA DA CAPO", Edna St. Vincent Millay. 

"COCAINE", Pendleton King. 

"NIGHT", James Oppenheim. 

"ENEMIES", Hutchins Hapgood and Neith Boyce. 

"THE ANGEL INTRUDES", Floyd Dell. 

"BOUND EAST FOR CARDIFF", Eugene O'Neill. 

"THE WIDOWS VEIL", Alice Rostetter. 

"STRING OF THE SAMISEN", Rita Wellman. 

"NOT SMART", Wilbur D. Steele. 

Every author, with one exception, has a book or more to his credit. 
Several are at the top of their profession. 

Rita Wellman, a Saturday Evening Post star, has had two or three 
plays on Broadway, and has a new novel, "The Wings of Desire." 

Cook and Glaspell are well known he for his novels, and Miss 
Glaspell for novels and plays. 

Edna Millay is one of America's best poets. Steele, according to 
O'Brien, is America's best short-story writer. 

Oppenheim has over a dozen novels, books of poems, and essays to 
his credit. 

O'Neill has a play on Broadway now: "The Emperor Jones." 

Hutch. Hapgood is an author of note. A record of the work of the 
most serious and important of all the new theatre movements in 
America. 

New York Sun: "Tense and vivid little dramas." 

Dallas News: "Uniform in excellence of workmanship, varied in sub- 
ject matter the volume is a distinct contribution to American dra- 
matic art. 

i2mo. Net, $2.50 

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STEWART KIDD COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS CINCINNATI, U. S. A. 



Six WHO PASS WHILE 
THE LENTILS BOIL 



BY 



STUART WALKER 

Author of Portmanteau Plays and More Portmanteau Plays 



STEWART & KI p 




2nd Printing 






ii 1 i 

it i i > i 

'(iii i > 



STEWAkt : KIDD COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS 



COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY 

STEWART KIDD COMPANY 




All rights reserved 



This play is fully protected by copyrights. All public 
performances are forbidden. All dramatic and produc- 
ing rights are retained by Stuart Walker, who may be 
addressed at 304 Carnegie Hall, New York City. 



First Printing, April, 1921 
Second Printing, April, 1923 



. 



Printed mtke-Uni'ticUState:: of America 
THE CAXTON PRESS 



2 NEW YO 

'UBLJC LIBRARY 




AND 





It is advisable in presenting Six WHO PASS to precede 
the play with the Prologue to The Portmanteau Theatre, 
which is to be found in PORTMANTEAU PLAYS by Stuart 
Walker. 

A delightful evening of plays can be made up of (i) 
The Prologue to the Portmanteau Theatre, (2) THE 
TRIMPLET, (3) NEVERTHELESS or THE VERY NAKED BOY 
or THE MEDICINE SHOW, (4) Six WHO PASS WHILE THE 
LENTILS BOIL. All these plays can be found in PORT- 
MANTEAU PLAYS or MORE PORTMANTEAU PLAYS by 
Stuart Walker, published by Stewart Kidd Company. 

It is advisable in playing Six WHO PASS not to at- 
tempt any sort of mechanical arrangement of the But- 
terfly. A personification of it would be even more dis- 
tracting. The best plan to follow is to have a stationary, 
large butterfly poised somewhere near the windows in the 
back wall of the kitchen. 






SIX WHO PASS WHILE THE 
LENTILS BOIL 

First performance at Christodora House, New York City, 

July 14, 1915 

PROLOGUE TO THE THEATRE Hugh Dillman 

PROLOGUE TO THE PLAY Henry Kiefer 

THE DEVICE-BEARER Edmond Crenshaw 

IN THE AUDIENCE . .Francis Stevens 



THE BOY James W. Morrison 

THE QUEEN Judith Lowry 

THE MIME Richard Farrell 

THE MILKMAID Nancy Winston 

THE BLINDMAN Joseph Graham 

THE BALLAD-SINGER Tom Powers 

THE HEADSMAN McKay Morris 

At this performance, which was not open to the pub- 
lic, Oscar Craik manipulated the mechanism of the 
Butterfly. At later performances it was decided to avoid 
this disturbing element in so simple a play, and ever after 
the Butterfly poised where he could see and hear, but 
not distract. 

First public performance at Jordan Hall, Boston, 
Massachusetts, February 14, 1916, and at the 39th 
Street Theatre, New York City, November 27, 1916. 

PROLOGUE TO THE THEATRE Florence Wollersen 

PROLOGUE TO THE PLAY Lew Medbury 

THE DEVICE-BEARER Edmond Crenshaw 

IN THE AUDIENCE Agnes Rogers 



THE BOY Gregory Kelly 

THE QUEEN ,.< Judith Lowry 

THE MIME Wilmot Heiiland* 

THE MILKMAID . ; . . . v . .*. .*: : -. .-Nancy Winston 

THE BLINDMAN ._ '. -Edgar Stehli 

THE BALLAD-SINGER . . J.\l . *. . .Stuart Walker 

THE HEADSMAN i, '.;.',* ; . .;. .McKay Morris 

* Played in New York by Willard Webster. When the play was "revived" 
in Indianapolis and Chicago in 1917, the Headsman was played by George 
Gaul. 

6 



THE BOY 

THE QUEEN 

THE MIME 

THE MILKMAID 

THE BLINDMAN 

THE BALLAD-SINGER 

THE DREADFUL HEADSMAN 

You (in the audience) 

The Scene is a kitchen 

The Period is when you will 



SIX WHO PASS 



mother is very good to him and he is safe. Are 
you ready now?. . .Very well. Be quiet. (The 
Prologue claps his hands twice. The curtains 
open and a kitchen is disclosed. There are a 
bench, a stool, and a cupboard. A great door 
at the back opens into a corridor. There are 
also two windows one higher than the other 
looking upon the corridor. At the right a door 
opens into the bedroom of the Boy's mother. 
A great pewter spoon lies upon the shelf in the 
cupboard. A large Butterfly comes in through 
the doorway, flits about and looks of stage. 
The song of the Boy is heard from the garden. 
The Butterfly goes to the door, poises a mo- 
ment, then alights on the cupboard. The Boy 
enters with a great bowl filed with lentils. The 
Butterfly flies to the bowl and, satisfied, returns 
to the cupboard. The Boy smiles at the Butter- 
fly, but he does not touch him. Then he emp- 
ties the lentils into the pot and water splashes 
on his careless hand. A moan is heard in the 
distance. The Boy and the Butterfly go to the 
door. The Queen's voice is heard calling:) 
Butterfly, Butterfly, where shall I hide? (En- 
ter the Queen.) 

QUEEN 

Boy, Boy oh, I am distraught! 

YOU 

What is distraught? 

PROLOGUE 

Distraught means distracted, perplexed, beset 
with doubt, worried by some fear. 

BOY (pityingly) 

Why are you distraught? 

10 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 

QUEEN 

Oh oh oh They are going to behead me I 

BOY 

When? 

QUEEN 

Before mid-day. 

BOY 

Why are they going to behead you? Is it a 
story? Tell it to me. 

QUEEN 

I was guilty of a breach of etiquette. 

BOY 

What is that? 

QUEEN 

I did something that was considered bad man- 
ners, and the law says the punishment is decapi- 
tation. 

YOU 

What is decapitation? 

PROLOGUE 

Decapitation is beheading cutting off one's 

head. 

BOY 

Why, only kings and queens can be decapitated. 

QUEEN 

Oh, I know I know 
BOY (disappointed) 
Are you a queen? 

QUEEN 

Yes. 

BOY 

I thought all queens were big. My mother says 
they are always regal. And my mother knows, 

ii 



SIX WHO PASS 



QUEEN 

Oh, I am the queen. / am the queen; but I 
am so unhappy. 

BOY 

My mother told me kings and queens knew no 
fear. Why, you're afraid! 

QUEEN 

Oh, Boy, Boy, I am your queen, and I am afraid 
and unhappy. And queens are just like other 
people when they are afraid and unhappy. 

BOY (disappointed) 

Aren't they always regal? 

QUEEN 

No no. Oh, little boy, hide me! Hide me 
from the Dreadful Headsman ! 

BOY 

I haven't any place to hide you. You couldn't 
get under the bench, and you couldn't get into 
the cupboard. 

QUEEN 

Little boy, can't you see that I shall lose my 
head if I am found? 

BOY 

You might have hidden in the pot if I hadn't 
put it on the fire. 
QUEEN 

Oh Oh Oh 

BOY 

I'm sorry. 

QUEEN 

I am distraught. 
BOY 

Well, I'll hide you because you are distraught; 

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WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 

but I am not sure you are a queen. . . . 
Where's your crown? You can't be a queen 
without a crown ! (She reaches up to her head.) 

QUEEN 

Oh, I was running so fast that it must have 
slipped from my head. (Sees the Butterfly) 
Butterfly, tell him I am your Queen. (The But- 
terfly flies to her head and lights on her dis- 
heveled locks like a diadem.) 

BOY 

Oh, I have talked to the Queen ! . . . You 
can hide in my mother's bed-room in there ; but 
first please tell me a story. 

QUEEN 

They will find me here. I'll tell you a story 
afterward. 

BOY 

I want you to tell me now. 

QUEEN 

Well, you watch at the door and warn me when 
you see someone coming. (The Butterfly 
brushes her ear) But stay, the Butterfly says 
he'll watch. (The Butterfly goes to the door.) 

BOY 

Will he know? 

QUEEN 

Oh, yes. He is a wonderful butterfly wise 
beyond his years. 

BOY 

Sit down and tell me your story. (He places 
a black pillow for the Queen on the step and an 
orange pillow for himself.) 

13 



SIX WHO PASS 



QUEEN 

Last night we celebrated the second year of 
peace with the neighboring kingdom. We were 
dancing the minuet just after the banquet, when 
I stepped on the ring-toe of my husband, the 
King's great-aunt. 

BOY 

Didn't you say excuse me? 

QUEEN 

It was useless. The law says that if a queen 
steps on the ring-toe of the King's great-aunt 
or any member of her family the Queen must 
be beheaded while the King's four clocks are 
striking twelve at mid-day. 

BOY 

Oh, that means to-day? 

QUEEN 

Yes. 

BOY 

Why, it's almost mid-day now. See, I've just 
set the lentils boiling. 

QUEEN 

If you can hide me until after the King's four 
clocks strike twelve I shall be safe. 

BOY 

Why are there four clocks? 

QUEEN 

Because the law allows only one clock for each 
tower in the castle. 

BOY 

Then I hear all the King's clocks every day! 
There's a big clock, and two clocks not so big, 
and a tiny little clock. 

14 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 



QUEEN 

Yes, those are the four. 

BOY 

Why will you be safe after the four clocks strike 
twelve ? 

QUEEN 

Because that is the law. 

BOY 

Aren't laws funny? 

QUEEN 

Funny? This one is very sad, I think. 

BOY 

Mightn't it be twelve any mid-day? 

QUEEN 

No ; the Prime Minister of my grandfather who 
passed the law decided that it meant only the 
following mid-day. 

BOY 

(rising and rushing to the door) They'll find 

you here. 

QUEEN 

(rising calmly) Oh, no; this is the short cut to 
the beheading block. Through that corridor. 

BOY 

Why didn't you run the other way? 

QUEEN 

Because they always search for escaped people 
in that direction. So I ran through your gar- 
den and into this room. They'll never search 
for me so close to the castle. 

BOY 

How did you escape? 

15 



SIX WHO PASS 



QUEEN 

I (The Butterfly seems agitated.) 
BOY 
You 

QUEEN 

Someone is coming! Hide me! 

BOY 

In here in my mother's room. 'Sh! 'Sh ! 
(The Queen goes out. Enter the Mime. He 
pokes his head in the lower window and peeps 
around the door. The boy turns.) 

BOY (weakly) 

Are you the Dreadful Headsman? 

MIME 

What? 

BOY 

Are you the Dreadful Headsman? 
MIME 

Do I look like a headsman? 
BOY 

I don't know; I've never seen one. 

MIME 

Well, suppose I am? 

BOY 

Are you ? 

MIME 

Maybe I am, 

BOY 

Oh! 

MIME 

Booh! 

BOY 

I'm I'm not afraid. 

16 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 

MIME 

Bah! 

BOY 

And my mother isn't here. 

MIME 

Br r r r ! ( The Boy reaches for his knife.) 

MIME 

Bing! 

BOY 

I wasn't going to hurt you ! 

MIME 



BOY 

I'll give you my knife if you'll go 'way. 

MIME 

Ah ha ! 

BOY 

It's nearly mid-day and you'd better go. 

MIME 

Well, give me the knife. 

BOY 

Promise me to go, 

MIME 

(laughs, turning away) Aren't you going to 
the beheading? 

BOY 

No. I have to boil the lentils for our mid-day 
meal. 

MIME 

May I come back and eat some? 

BOY 

You'll have to ask my mother. 



SIX WHO PASS 



MIME 

Where is she? 

BOY 

She's over that way. She went to the market 
to buy a bobbin. 

YOU 

What is a bobbin? 

PROLOGUE 

A bobbin is a spool upon which thread is wound, 
and it is sharp at one end so that it can be easily 
passed backward and forward, to and fro, 
through the other threads in making lace. 

MIME 

(starting of) Well, I'll be back to eat some 
lentils. 

BOY (too eagerly) 
You'd better hurry. 

MIME 

You seem to want to get rid of me. 

BOY (allaying suspicion) 

Well, I think you'd better go or you'll be late 
and it's very wrong to be late. 

MIME 

(going toward the door) I think I'll (chang- 
ing his mind) sit down. 

BOY (disappointed) 
Oh! 

MIME 

What would you say if I wasn't the Heads- 
man? 

BOY 

But you said you were. 

18 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 

MIME 

I said maybe I was. 

BOY 

Aren't you ? 

MIME 

Maybe I'm not. 

BOY 

Honest? 

MIME 

Um, hum. 

BOY (relieved) 
Oh! ... 

MIME 

You were afraid. 

BOY 

No ... I wasn't. 

MIME 

Would you fight? 

BOY 

You bet I would. 

MIME 

It wouldn't take me a minute to lick you. 

BOY 

Maybe it wouldn't; but I wouldn't give up right 
away. That would be cowardly. . . . Who 
are you? 

MIME 

I'm a mime 

BOY 

What's a mime? 

MIME 

A mime's a mime. 

19 



SIX WHO PASS 



BOY 

Go O* 1 and tell me. 

MIME 

A mime's a mountebank. 

BOY 

What's a mountebank? 

MIME 

A mountebank's a strolling player. 
BOY 

Are you going to perform for me? 

MIME 

Not to-day I'm on my way to the decapita- 
tion. 

BOY 

Do you want to see the decapitation? 

MIME 

Well, yes. But most of all, I want to pick up 
a few coins. 
BOY 
How? 

MIME 

Why, I'll perform after the Queen has lost her 
head. 
BOY 

Won't you be too sorry? 

MIME 

No. You see, I'll be thinking mostly about 
what I'm going to do. I have to do my best 
because it is hard to be more interesting than a 
decapitation. And after it's all over the crowd 
will begin to talk and to move about, and I'll 
have to rush up to the front of them and cry 
out at the top of my lungs, "Stop Ho, for 

20 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 

Jack the Juggler! Would you miss him? In 
London, where the king of kings lives, all the 
knights and ladies of the Court would leave a 
crowning to watch Jack the Juggler toss three 
golden balls with one hand or balance a weather- 
vane upon his nose." Then a silence will come 
upon the crowd and they will all turn to me. 
Someone will say, "Where is this Jack the Jug- 
gler?" And I shall answer, "Jack the Juggler, 
the greatest of the great, the pet of kings, en- 
tertainer to the Pope and the joy of Cathay 
stands before you." And I'll throw back my 
cloak and stand revealed. So ! Someone will 
then shout, "Let us have it, Jack !" So I'll draw 
my three golden balls from my pouch like this 
and then begin. (The Boy is watching 
breathlessly, and the Butterfly is interested, too. 
Their disappointment is keen when Jack does 
nothing.) 
BOY 

Aren't you going to show me? 

MIME 

No, I must be off. 

BOY 

Aren't you ever coming back? 

MIME 

Maybe, yes; perhaps, no. 

BOY 

I'll give you some lentils if you'll juggle the 

balls for me. 

MIME 

(sniffs the pot) They aren t cooked yet. 

BOY 

Let me hold your golden balls. 

21 



SIX WHO PASS 



MIME 

(takes a gold ball from his pouch and lets the 
Boy hold it) Here's one. 

BOY 

And do they pay you well? 

MIME 

(taking the ball from the Boy) Ay, that they 
do. If I am as interesting as the beheading I'll 
get perhaps fifteen farthings in money and other 
things that I can exchange for food and raiment. 

BOY 

I'm going to be a mime and buy a castle and a 
sword. 

MIME 

Maybe so, and maybe not. Who knows? . . . 
Good-bye. (He goes out.) 

BOY 

(to the Butterfly) If he had been the Dread- 
ful Headsman I would have slain him. So ! 
"Ah, wicked Headsman, you shall not 
behead the Queen! . . . Cross not that 
threshold, or I'll run you through." (Through- 
out this the Butterfly shows great interest and 
enters into the spirit of it, being absorbed at 
times and frightened at others. Enter the Milk- 
maid at door.) 

MILKMAID 

Pst! . . . Pst! 

BOY (startled) 
Oh! 

MILKMAID 

Are you going to the decapitation? 

22 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 

BOY 

No. Are you? 

MILKMAID 

That I am. 

BOY 

Will your mother let you go? 

MILKMAID 

She doesn't know. 

BOY 

Did you run away? 

MILKMAID 

No. I went out to milk the cow. 

BOY 

And did you do it? 

MILKMAID 

Yes. 

BOY 

Why didn't you wait until you came back? 

MILKMAID 

My mother was looking, and I had to let her 
see me doing something. 

BOY 

How did you get away when you took the milk 
pails into the house? 

MILKMAID 

I didn't take them in. As soon as my mother 
turned her back I hid the pails and I ran through 
here to take a short cut. 

BOY 

Where did you hide the milk? 

MILKMAID 

In the hollow tree. 

23 



SIX WHO PASS 



BOY 

Won't it sour? 

MILKMAID 

Maybe. 

BOY 

Won't your mother scold you? 

MILKMAID 

Yes, of course ; but I couldn't miss the behead- 
ing. 

BOY 

Will you take the sour milk home? 

MILKMAID 

Yes; and after my mother scolds me, I'll make 
it into nice cheese and sell it to the King's Cook, 
and then mother will forgive me. 

BOY 

(sniffing the pot) You'd better hurry. It's 
nearly mid-day. Don't you smell the lentils? 

MILKMAID 

The Headsman hasn't started yet. 
BOY (giggling) 

He'd better hurry. 

MILKMAID 

They can't find the Queen. 
BOY (so innocently) 
Did she escape? 

MILKMAID 

Yes. 

BOY 

Are they hunting for her? 

MILKMAID 

Yes; and they've offered a big reward to the 
person who finds her. 

24 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 



BOY 

How much? 

MILKMAID 

A pail of gold and a pair of finger rings. 

BOY 

That's a good deal. . . . With a pail of gold 
I could buy my mother a velvet dress and a 
silken kerchief and a bonnet made of cloth of 
gold and I could buy myself a milk-white 
palfry. 

MILKMAID 

And you'd never have to work again. 

BOY 

But she's such a gentle queen. Where are they 
hunting her? 

MILKMAID 

Everywhere. 

BOY 

Everywhere ! . . . Maybe she's waiting at 
the beheading block! 

MILKMAID 

Silly goose ! She wouldn't try to escape this 
way. She'd go in the opposite direction. 

BOY 

Do people always run in the opposite direction? 

MILKMAID 

Of course; everybody knows that. 

BOY 

I wish I could go. 

MILKMAID 

Come on. 

BOY 

Um uh. The lentils might burn. 

25 



SIX WHO PASS 



MILKMAID 

Pour some cold water on them. 

BOY 

Um huh. I promised I wouldn't leave the 
house. 

MILKMAID 

Oh, it will be wonderful ! 

BOY 

The Mime will be there. 

MILKMAID 

The one with the long cloak and the golden 
balls? 

BOY 

Um huh. 

MILKMAID 

Ooh! 

BOY 

How did you know? 

MILKMAID 

I saw him on the way to the market one day 
and when my mother wasn't looking at me I 
gave him a farthing. 

BOY 

Is he a good juggler? 

MILKMAID 

He's magic! Why, he can throw three golden 
balls in the air and catch them with one hand 
and then keep them floating in the air in a circle. 

BOY 

And can he balance a weathervane on his nose 
while it's turning? 

26 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 

MILKMAID 

Yes; and he can balance an egg on the end of 
a long stick that is balanced on his chin ! 

BOY 

Oh I wish I could see him. (Looks at the 
pot to see if the lentils are done.) 

MILKMAID 

Come on! 

BOY 

Well (Begins to weaken, and just as he is 
about to start, the Butterfly flits past him into 
the Queen's room.) 

MILKMAID 

Oh what a lovely butterfly! 

BOY 

No No I can't go. But you had better 
hurry. 

MILKMAID 

Well, I'll try to catch the butterfly first. 

BOY 

Oh, no ; you mustn't touch that butterfly. 

MILKMAID 

Why? 

BOY 

Because because he's my friend. 

MILKMAID 

Silly ! 

BOY 

He is a good friend; and he's the wisest butter- 
fly in the world. 

MILKMAID 

What can he do? 

27 



SIX WHO PASS 



BOY 

He can almost talk. 

MILKMAID 

Almost? . . . Oh, I know. I'm a goose. 
You want to play a trick on me so I'll miss the 
beheading. 

BOY 

You'd better hurry. 

MILKMAID 

I wish you'd come. 

BOY (sadly) 

I can't. I've a duty to perform. 

MILKMAID 

Aren't duties always hard? (Both sigh. She 
takes up her milk pail.) 

BOY 

What are you going to do with that pail? 

MILKMAID 

I'm going to stand on it. ... Good-bye. 
(She goes out.) 

BOY 

Good-bye. (He watches for a moment, then 
goes to the pot and tries the lentils ; then whis- 
pers through door to the Queen) The lentils 
are getting soft. (There is a fumbling in the 
passage and a voice is heard) Help the blind ! 
Help the blind! (The Butterfly returns to the 
top of the cupboard. The Blindman appears 
at the door.) 

PROLOGUE 

He's blind, but he'll show you how the blind 
can see. 

28 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 

BLINDMAN (sniffing) 
Cooking lentils? 

BOY 

Yes. 

BLINDMAN 

Cook, which way to the beheading? 

BOY 

Keep straight ahead the way you are going, 
old man. 

BLINDMAN 

Don't you want to take me with you? 

BOY 

I'm not going. 

BLINDMAN 

Not going to the beheading? 

BOY 

No ; I have to cook the lentils. 

BLINDMAN 

Come on and go with me and maybe I'll give 
you a farthing. 

BOY 

I can't. 

BLINDMAN 

Yes, you can. Who else is here? 

BOY 

(swallowing its hard to fib) No one. 

BLINDMAN 

Can't you run away ? Your mother won't know 
you've gone. 

BOY 

It's my duty to stay here. 

29 



SIX WHO PASS 



BLINDMAN 

It's your duty to help a poor blindman, little 
boy. 

BOY 

Are you stone blind? 

BLINDMAN 

Yes. 

BOY 

Then how did you know I was a little boy? 

BLINDMAN 

Because you sound like a little boy. 

BOY 

Well, if you're stone blind, why do you want 
to go to the beheading? 

BLINDMAN 

I can see with my ears. 

BOY 

Aw 

BLINDMAN 

Didn't I know you were a little boy? 

BOY 

Yes, but you had to guess twice. First you 
thought I was a cook. 

BLINDMAN 

Well, aren't you cooking lentils? 

BOY 

Yes; but you can smell them. 

BLINDMAN 

Well, I see with my nose, too. 

BOY 

Aw how can you see with your nose? 

30 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 

BLINDMAN 

If you give me some bread I'll show you. 

BOY 

I can't give you any bread; but I'll give you 
some raw lentils. 

BLINDMAN 

All right. Give me lentils. 

BOY 

. I'll put them by the pot. Ready ! 

BLINDMAN 

All right. (Sniffs. Walks to the pot and gets 
lentils and puts them in an old pouch) Isn't 
that seeing with my nose ? 

BOY 

H'm ! (In wonder) Now see with your ears 
and I'll give you some more lentils. 

BLINDMAN 

All right. Speak. (The Boy gets behind the 
stool and speaks. The Blindman goes toward 
him. The Boy moves around stealthily.) 

BLINDMAN 

You're cheating. You've moved. 

BOY 

(jumping up on the bench) Well, where am I? 

BLINDMAN 

You're standing on something. 

BOY 

How did you guess it? 

BLINDMAN 

I didn't guess it. I know it. 

BOY 

Why can't I do that? 



SIX WHO PASS 



BLINDMAN 

You can if you try; but it takes practice. 
BOY 

Can you see the door now? 

BLINDMAN 

No. I've turned around too many times. Be- 
sides, there is more than one doer. 

BOY 

Oh m-m. . . . You aren't really blind! 

BLINDMAN 

Blind people learn to use what they have. Once 
I, too, could see with my eyes. 

BOY 

Just like me? 

BLINDMAN 

Yes. And then I didn't take the trouble to see 
with my ears and my nose and my fingers after 
I became blind I had to learn. . . . Why, I 
can tell whether a man who passes me at the 
palace gate is a poor man or a noble or a mer- 
chant. 

BOY 

How can you do that? 

BLINDMAN 

By the sound of the step. 

BOY 

Aw how can you do that? 

BLINDMAN 

Shut your eyes and try it. 
BOY 

Well, I know what you are. That would be 
easy. 

32 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 

BLINDMAN 

I'll pretend I'm somebody else. (Feels with 
his stick; touches bench. Feels around again.) 

BOY 

Why are you doing that? 

BLINDMAN 

To see how far I can walk without bumping into 
something. 

BOY 

Urn 

BLINDMAN 

Ready? 

BOY 

(hides face in hands) Yes. 

BLINDMAN 

Don't peep. (The Boy tries hard not to.) 

BOY 

I won't. 

BLINDMAN 

All ready (shuffles like a commoner) Who 
was it? 

BOY 

A poor man. 

BLINDMAN 

See how easy? 

BOY 

I could see him as plain as if I had my eyes open. 
. . . Now try me again. 

BLINDMAN 

Ready? 

BOY 

All right. (The Blindman seems to grow in 

33 



SIX WHO PASS 



height. His face is filled with a rare brightness. 
He steadies himself a moment and then walks 
magnificently down the room.) 

BOY (in beautiful wonder) 
A noble ! I could see him. 

BLINDMAN 

All you have to do is try. 

BOY 

I always thought it was terrible to be blind. 

BLINDMAN 

Sometimes it is. 

BOY 

But I thought everything was black. 

BLINDMAN 

It used to be until I taught myself how to see. 

BOY 

Why is it terrible sometimes? 

BLINDMAN. 

Because I cannot help the poor who need help. 
If I had money I could feed the hungry and 
clothe the poor little beggar children in winter ! 

BOY 

Would a pail of gold and a pair of finger rings 
help you feed the hungry and clothe the poor 
little beggar children in winter? 

BLINDMAN 

A pail of gold! I have dreamed of what I 
might do with so much wealth ! 

BOY 

I can get a pail of gold if I break a promise. 

BLINDMAN 

Would you break a. promise? 

34 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 

BOY 

. . . No but No! 

BLINDMAN 

Of course you wouldn't. 

BOY 

I couldn't break a promise for two pails of gold. 

BLINDMAN 

Nor twenty-two, little boy. 

BOY 

When you walked like a noble I saw a beautiful 
man behind my eyes with a crown of gold. 

BLINDMAN 

If you broke a promise for a pail of gold and 
two finger rings you would never see a beautiful 
noble with a crown of gold when you closed your 
eyes. . . . 

BOY 

Can blind men see beautiful things even when 
it's rainy? 

BLINDMAN 

Blindmen can always see beautiful things if they 
try. Clouds and raia are beautiful to me, and 
when I get wet I think of the sunshine. I saw 
sunshine with my eyes when I was a little boy. 
Now I see it with my whole body when it warms 
me. I saw rain with my eyes when I was a little 
boy. Now I see it with my hands when it falls 
on them drop drop drop dropity 
dropity and I love it because it makes the 
lentils grow. 

BOY 

I never thought of that. Rain makes me stay 
indoors, and I never like it except in June. 

35 



SIX WHO PASS 



BLINDMAN 

You don,'t have to stay in for long. 

BOY 

Can blind men see beautiful things in a behead- 
ing? 

BLINDMAN 

No. But I must be there with the crowd. I 
shall tell stories to the people and perhaps they 
will give me food or money. 

BOY 

Can't you stay and tell me stories? 

BLINDMAN 

N"o. I must be on my way. . . . If I do not 
see the beheading I cannot tell about it when I 
meet someone who was not there.- Oh, I shall 
make a thrilling tale of it. 

BOY 

Tell it to me when you come back. 

BLINDMAN 

If you give me some cooked lentils. 

BOY 

I'll save you some. 

BLINDMAN 

Are the lentils nearly done r 

BOY 

Half. 

BLINDMAN 

I must be on my way then. . . . Good-bye. 
(Starting to go in the wrong direction.) 

BOY 

Here's the door. 

BLINDMAN 

Thank you, little boy. . . . Don't forget to 

36 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 

see with your ears and nose and fingers. ( The 
Blindman goes out.) 

BOY 

I won't. 

BLINDMAN 

Good-bye. 

BOY 

Good-bye. (The Boy covers his eyes and tries 
to see with his ears and his nose) It's easier 
with the ears. (Singing is heard. Enter the 
Ballad-Singer.) 

SINGER 

Hello ! 

BOY 

Hello ! 

SINGER 

How are you? 

BOY 

I'm very well. 

SINGER 

That's good. 

BOY 

Thank you. 

SINGER 

Cooking? 

BOY 

Yes. 

SINGER 

(coming into room) Something good.' 

BOY 

Lentils. 

SINGER 

Give me some? 

37 



SIX WHO PASS 



BOY 

They aren't done. 

SINGER 

Nearly. I can smell them. 

BOY 

Do you like them? 

SINGER 

When I'm hungry. 

BOY 

Are you hungry now? 

SINGER 

I'm always hungry. (They laugh.) 

BOY 

Were you singing? 

SINGER 

Yes. 

BOY 

Do you like to sing? 

SINGER 

When I get something for my ballads. 
BOY 

Are you a ballad-singer? 

SINGER 

Yes. 

BOY 

Sing one for me? 

SINGER 

Give me some lentils? 

BOY 

I'll give you some raw lentils. 

SINGER 

I want some of the cooked ones. 

38 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 

BOY 

They aren't done. 

SINGER 

Are they nearly done? 

BOY 

More than half. 

SINGER 

I like them that way. 

BOY 

All right. Sing me a ballad. 

SINGER 

Well, give me the lentils first. 

BOY 

Oh, no; sing the ballad first. 
SINGER 

No, sir; give me the lentils first. 

BOY 

That isn't fair. 

SINGER 

Why not ? After I sing to you maybe you won't 
pay me. 

BOY 

Yes, I will. 

SINGER 

Then why not pay me first? 

BOY 

You might not sing. 

SINGER (laughing) 
Yes, I will. 

BOY (laughing) 

Well, I'll give you some lentils at the end of 
each verse. 

39 



SIX WHO PASS 



SINGER 

That's a bargain. 

BOY 
Sing. 

SINGER (sings one line) 

Six stalwart sons the miller had 
Give me the lentils. 

BOY 

Finish that verse. 

SINGER 

I did finish it. 

BOY 

Now that's not fair. You only sang a line. 

SINGER 

Well, a line's a verse. 

BOY 

(with a gesture that indicates how long a 'verse 
ought to be) I meant a whole verse. 

SINGER 

(mimicking the gesture) A line's a whole verse. 
BOY 

Oh, now, be fair; I mean a whole, whole verse. 

SINGER 

You mean a stanza. 
BOY 

I always heard it called a verse. 

SINGER 

Well, keep to the bargain. I sang a verse. Give 
me some lentils. 

BOY 

(rising and taking a very few lentils on his 
spoon) Next time I mean a stanza. . . . 

40 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 

Here are some lentils. (The Ballad-Singer 
eyes the meager portion, cools it and eats.) 

SINGER 

Stingy. 

BOY 

Isn't that some lentils? 

SINGER (laughs) 
Well 

BOY 

Now begin again. 

SINGER 

At the end of every stanza a spoonful of lentils. 

BOY 

I didn't say a spoonful. 

SINGER 

(starts to go) Very well, I won't sing a ballad. 

BOY 

All right. I'll give you a spoonful at the end 
of each stanza. (He sits on the floor by the 
pot of lentils.) 

SINGER (sings) 

The Ballad of the Miller and his Six Sons 

Six stalwart sons the miller had- 

All brave and fair to see- 
He taught them each a worthy trade 

And they grew gallantly. 
Tara da da- -da-da-da- -da-da-da 

Tara da da da-de- -da-dee. 

Give me some lentils. 

BOY 

Here. . Hurry up. 



SIX WHO PASS 



SINGER (sings) 

The first was John of the dimpled chin- 

And a fist of iron had he 
He learned to wield the broadsword well 

And turned to soldiery. 
Tara da da, etc. 

BOY 

Please! Please don't stop! 

SINGER 

Keep to the bargain. 

BOY 

Here, take two spoonfuls and finish without 
stopping. 

SINGER (sings rest of ballad) 

The second son was christened Hugh 

And curly locks had he 
He learned to use the tabor and lute 

And turned to minstrelsy. 
Tara da da, etc. 

The third was James of the gentle ways, 

And speech of gold had he 
He learned his psalms and learned his creed 

And turned to simony. 
Tara da da, etc. 

The fourth was Dick of the hazel eye, 

And a steady hand had he 
With a hammer and saw and a chest of tools 

He turned to carpentry. 
Tara da da, etc. 

42 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 

The fifth was Ned of the velvet tread, 

And feather fingers had he- 
He used his gifts in a naughty way 

And turned to burglary. 
Tara da da, etc. 

The sixth was Robin, surnamed the Rare 

For always young was he 
He learned the joy of this sunny world 

And turned to poetry. 
Tara da da, etc. 

The miller approached three score and ten 

A happy man was he 
His five good sons and the one who was bad 

All turned to gallantry. 
Tara da da, etc. 

BOY 

Sing me another. 

SINGER 

A spoonful at the end of every stanza. 

BOY 

Don't stop after you begin. 

SINGER 

Pay me in advance. 

BOY 

I suppose I'll have to. (He feeds the Ballad- 
Singer.) 
SINGER (sings second ballad) 

The Ballad of the Three Little Pigs 
Two little pigs were pink pink pink- 
And one little pig was black black- 
The three little pigs were very good friends, 
But one little pig was black black. 

43 



SIX WHO PASS 



Three little pigs would play play play- 
But one little pig was black black 
And three little pigs would have a jolly time, 
Though one little pig was black black. 

Three little pigs soon grew grew grew 
And one little pig was black black. 
The three little pigs became fat hogs 
And one fat hog was black black. 

The two fat hogs were pink pink pink 
And one fat hog was black black. 
The three fat hogs all made good ham, 
Though one fat hog was black black. 

BOY 

Sing me another. 

SINGER 

I can't. I'm tired. 

BOY 

Are you going to sing those at the beheading? 

SINGER 

What beheading? 

BOY 

At the Queen's beheading? 

SINGER 
Where ? 

BOY 

Over there. 

SINGER 

When? 

BOY 

To-day. 

44 




ID 

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JS 

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WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 



I must be going. Certainly I'll sing there, and 
I'll take up a collection. 

BOY 

It's going to be before the King's four clocks 
strike twelve. 

SINGER 

It's nearly time now. If I can collect a piece 
of gold I can buy a vermilion robe and sing at 
the King's court. 

BOY 

I could collect a pail of gold and two finger 
rings and sit at the feet of the King if I'd break 
a promise. 

SINGER 

Perhaps you will. 

BOY 

Would you? 

SINGER 

I'd rather sing along the highway all my life. 
It is better to dream of a vermilion robe than 
to have one that is not honestly got. 

BOY 

The Blindman said something like that. 

SINGER 

Who said what? 

BOY 

The Blindman said if I broke a promise 
never again see a beautiful noble with a golden 
crown when I closed my eyes. 

SINGER 

He was right. 



SIX WHO PASS 



BOY 

When you get your vermilion robe will you 
let me see it? 

SINGER 

That I will. . . . Good-bye. 
Good-bye. (Singer goes out.) 

BOY 

(hums a snatch of the ballads.) 
(The Headsman steps into the door and plants 
his axe beside him for an impressive picture. 
The Boy turns and starts in terror.) 

HEADSMAN 

Have you seen the Queen? 

BOY 

Sir? 

HEADSMAN 

Have you seen the Queen? 

BOY 

How should I, sir? I've been cooking the len- 
tils. 

HEADSMAN 

She is here ! 

BOY 

How could she be here, sir ? 

HEADSMAN 

Well, if she isn't here, where is she? 

BOY (relieved) 

I don't know where she is if she isn't here, sir. 

HEADSMAN 

She has too much sense to hide so near the castle 
and on the short cut to the headsman's block. 
Do you know who I am? 

46 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 

BOY 

I think so sir. 

HEADSMAN 

Think? Don't you know? 

BOY 

Yes, sir. 

HEADSMAN 

Who am I, then? 

BOY 

You're the Dreadful Headsman. 

HEADSMAN 

I am the winder of the King's four clocks, and 
when I am needed I am the best headsman in 
three kingdoms. And this is my axe. 

BOY 

Is it sharp? 

HEADSMAN 

It will split a hare in two (Runs finger near 
blade meaningly.) 

BOY 

Oh! 

HEADSMAN 

A hare in two ! 

BOY 

Would you really cut off the Queen's head? 

HEADSMAN 

That's my business to cut off heads and the 
nobler the head, the better my business. 

BOY 

She's such a nice queen. 

HEADSMAN 

Have vou seen her? 

j 

47 



SIX WHO PASS 



BOY 

Y es, sir. 

HEADSMAN 

When? 

BOY 

One day when I was boiling some lentils. 

HEADSMAN 

Did you see her neck? 

BOY 

Yes, sir. 

HEADSMAN 

Not much bigger than a hare. 

BOY (desperately friendly) 
Have you seen my knife? 

HEADSMAN (sharply) 

I'm talking about the Queen, and I'm going to 
talk about myself until I hear the King's trum- 
peter calling me to the beheading. 

BOY 

Yes, sir. (Edging between the bench and door 
of the room where the Queen is hidden.) 

HEADSMAN 

Sit down. 

BOY 

I'd rather stand, sir. 

HEADSMAN 

Sit down! And I'll tell you how I'm going to 
behead the Queen. 

BOY 

You can't behead her after the King's four 
clocks have struck twelve. 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 

HEADSMAN 

How did you know that? 

BOY 

(realizing his blunder) Well 

HEADSMAN 

Nobody knows that except the royal family and 
people of the court. 

BOY 

A little bird told me. 

HEADSMAN 

Where is the little bird that I may cut its head 
off? 

BOY 

Don't hurt the little bird; but tell me how you 
are going to behead the Queen. 

HEADSMAN 

Well (At the stool) This is the block. 
There's the Queen behind the iron gate. We'll 
say that door is the gate. (The Boy starts) 
And out there is the crowd. Now, I appear 
like this and walk up the steps. The crowd 
cheers, so I bow and show myself and my axe. 
(He bows elaborately three times and then 
poses for one magnificent moment) 1 hen I 
walk over to the gate 

BOY 

Don't go in there. That's my mother's room, 
and you might frighten her. 

HEADSMAN 

Who's in your mother's room? 

BOY 

She is. 

49 



614*1** 



SIX WHO PASS 



HEADSMAN 

Well, if she's in there, maybe she'd like to hear 
my story. 

BOY 

She's in bed. 

HEADSMAN 

Sick? ( The Boy nods vigorously) All right. 
Well, I've bowed to the crowd and I 
start for the Queen If you won't open the 
door, you pretend you're the Queen. 

BOY 

I don't want to be the Queen. 

HEADSMAN 

Come on and pretend. I walk up to the gate 
so, and open it, and then I say, "Your Majesty, 
I'm going to cut off your head," and she bows 
Bow (The Boy bows) And then I say, 
"Are you ready?" and she says, "I am ready." 
Then I blindfold her 

BOY 

Now, don't blindfold me, sir! 

HEADSMAN 

I'm showing you how it's done. 

BOY 

But if you blindfold me I can't see you when you 
do it. 

HEADSMAN 

(admitting the point) All right. . . . Then 
I blindfold her and I lead her to the block and 
I say, "Have you made your peace with 
Heaven?" and she says, 'Yes." . . . 

50 



' 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 

BOY 

If you won't tell me any more I'll give you my 
knife. 

HEADSMAN 

Aren't you interested? 

BOY 

Yes; but your axe is so sharp, and it might slip. 

HEADSMAN 

Sharp? It will cut a hair in two; but I know 
how to handle it. ... 

BOY 

How do you spell hair? 

HEADSMAN 

Either way. . . . Come on. . . . (The 
Boy reluctantly falls into the picture again) 
And then. . . . (Raising his axe) And then. 
(Headsman sees the Butterfly) And 
then. . . . How-d'-ye-do, Butterfly (The 
Boy runs to the pot unnoticed by the Heads- 
man.) 

BOY 

Lentils, lentils, boil the time away, 
That my good queen may live to-day. 
(The Headsman and the Butterfly are having 
quite a game. Suddenly the great clock begins 
to strike and the two next larger follow slowly. 
The Headsman rushes to the back door with 
his axe.) 

HEADSMAN 

Why doesn't the trumpeter blow his call ? ( The 
Boy counts the strokes of the clock, and as the 
third clock strikes twelve he rushes to the door 
of the bedroom.) 

51 



SIX WHO PASS 



BOY 

Queen! Queen! It's mid-day! 

HEADSMAN 

Queen Queen (He strides to the bedroom 
and drags the Queen out) The little clock 
hasn't struck yet ! (He pulls the Queen toward 
the rear door and shouts) Here ! Here ! Don't 
let the little clock strike ! I've won the pail of 
gold! (The Boy has set the bench in the door- 
way so that the Headsman stumbles. The But- 
terfly keeps flying against the Headsman's nose } 
which makes him sneeze.) 

BOY 

No one heard you ! 

QUEEN 

Let me go ! Let me go ! 

HEADSMAN 

(sneezing as only a headsman can) The Queen ! 
The Queen! (The little clock begins to strike. 
The Boy counts eagerly, one, two, three, etc. 
Between strokes the Headsman sneezes and 
shouts) The Queen! The Queen! (At the 
fifth stroke the Headsman falls on his knees. 
The Queen becomes regal, her foot on his neck. 
The Boy kneels at her side.) 

QUEEN 

Base villain ! According to the law I am saved ! 
But you are doomed. As Winder of the King's 
four clocks the law commands that you be de- 
capitated because the four clocks did not strike 
together. Do you know that law ? 

HEADSMAN 

Oh, Lady, I do; but I did but do my duty. I 

52 



WHILE THE LENTILS BOIL 



was sharpening my axe this morning and I 
couldn't wind the clocks. Intercede for me. 

QUEEN 

It is useless. 

BOY 

Is there any other headsman? 

QUEEN 

The law says the Chief Headsman must behead 
the Chief Winder of the King's four clocks. 
BOY 

Can the Dreadful Headsman behead himself? 

QUEEN 

Aye, there's the difficulty. 

HEADSMAN 

Oh, your Majesty, pardon me! 

BOY 

Yes, pardon him. 

QUEEN 

On one condition: He is to give his axe to the 
museum and devote all his old age to the care 
of the King's four clocks. . . . For myself, I 
shall pass a law requiring the ladies of the court 
to wear no jewels. So, if the King's aunt can 
wear no rings, she assuredly cannot have a ring- 
toe, and hereafter I may step where I please. 
Sir Headsman, lead the way. . . . 
And now, my little boy, to you I grant every 
Friday afternoon an hour's sport with the 
Mime; a spotted cow for the little Milkmaid; a 
cushion and a canopy at the palace gate for the 
Blindman; a vermilion cloak for the Ballad- 
Singer; a velvet gown, a silken kerchief, and a 
cloth-of-gold bonnet for your mother, and for 

53 



SIX WHO PASS 



yourself a milk-white palfry, two pails of gold, 
two finger rings, a castle, and a sword. . . . 
Arise, Sir Little-Boy. . . . Your arm. 

BOY 

May I take my knife, your Majesty? 

QUEEN 

That you may. (He gets the knife and returns 
to her. She lays her hand on his arm) Sir 
Headsman, announce our coming. 

HEADSMAN 

Make way make way for her Majesty the 
Queen. 

QUEEN (correcting) 
And Sir Little-Boy. 

HEADSMAN 

What's his other name, your Majesty? 

BOY 

(whispering with the wonder of it all) Davie. 

QUEEN 

(to the Headsman) Davie. 

HEADSMAN 

Make way make way for her Majesty the 
Queen and Sir Davie Little-Boy. (They go 
out. Immediately the Boy returns and gets the 
pot of lentils and runs after the Queen as 

The Curtains Close.) 












1926