Eugene O'Neill

The Hairy Ape — first half (scenes I through IV)
by Eugene O’Neill, 1922


Stokers, Ladies, Gentlemen, etc.


SCENE I:  The firemen’s forecastle of an ocean liner — an hour after sailing from New York.
:  Section of promenade deck, two days out — morning.
:  The stokehole.  A few minutes later.
:  Same as Scene I.  Half an hour later.
:  Fifth Avenue, New York.  Three weeks later.
SCENE VI:  An island near the city.  The next night.
SCENE VII:  In the city.  About a month later.
SCENE VIII:  In the city.  Twilight of the next day.

TIME — The Modern.

Scene I

SCENEThe firemen’s forecastle of a transatlantic liner an hour after sailing from New York for the voyage across. Tiers of narrow, steel bunks, three deep, on all sides. An entrance in rear. Benches on the floor before the bunks. The room is crowded with men, shouting, cursing, laughing, singing—a confused, inchoate uproar swelling into a sort of unity, a meaning—the bewildered, furious, baffled defiance of a beast in a cage. Nearly all the men are drunk. Many bottles are passed from hand to hand. All are dressed in dungaree pants, heavy ugly shoes. Some wear singlets, but the majority are stripped to the waist.

  The treatment of this scene, or of any other scene in the play, should by no means be naturalistic. The effect sought after is a cramped space in the bowels of a ship, imprisoned by white steel. The lines of bunks, the uprights supporting them, cross each other like the steel framework of a cage. The ceiling crushes down upon the men’s heads. They cannot stand upright. This accentuates the natural stooping posture which shovelling coal and the resultant over-development of back and shoulder muscles have given them. The men themselves should resemble those pictures in which the appearance of Neanderthal Man is guessed at. All are hairy-chested, with long arms of tremendous power, and low, receding brows above their small, fierce, resentful eyes. All the civilized white races are represented, but except for the slight differentiation in color of hair, skin, eyes, all these men are alike.

  The curtain rises on a tumult of sound. YANK is seated in the foreground. He seems broader, fiercer, more truculent, more powerful, more sure of himself than the rest. They respect his superior strength—the grudging respect of fear. Then, too, he represents to them a self-expression, the very last word in what they are, their most highly developed individual.


         VOICES—Gif me trink dere, you!
’Ave a wet!
Drunk as a lord, God stiffen you!
Here’s how!
Pass back that bottle, damn you!
Pourin’ it down his neck!
Ho, Froggy! Where the devil have you been?
La Touraine.
I hit him smash in yaw, py Gott!
Jenkins—the First—he’s a rotten swine—
And the coppers nabbed him—and I run—
I like peer better. It don’t pig head gif you.
A slut, I’m sayin’! She robbed me aslape—
To hell with ’em all!
You’re a bloody liar!
Say dot again! (Commotion. Two men about to fight are pulled apart.)
No scrappin’ now!
See who’s the best man!
Bloody Dutchman!
To-night on the for’ard square.
I’ll bet on Dutchy.
He packa da wallop, I tella you!
Shut up, Wop!
No fightin’, maties. We’re all chums, ain’t we?
(A voice starts bawling a song.)
“Beer, beer, glorious beer!
Fill yourselves right up to here.”

  YANK—(For the first time seeming to take notice of the uproar about him, turns around threateningly—in a tone of contemptuous authority.) Choke off dat noise! Where d’yuh get dat beer stuff? Beer, hell! Beer’s for goils—and Dutchmen. Me for somep’n wit a kick to it! Gimme a drink, one of youse guys. (Severalbottles are eagerly offered. He takes a tremendous gulp at one of them;then, keeping the bottle in his hand, glares belligerently at theowner, who hastens to acquiesce in this robbery by saying:) All righto, Yank. Keep it and have another.” (YANK contemptuously turns his back on the crowd again. For a second there is an embarrassed silence. Then—)

         VOICES—We must be passing the Hook.
She’s beginning to roll to it.
Six days in hell—and then Southampton.
Py Yesus, I vish somepody take my first vatch for me!
Gittin’ seasick, Square-head?
Drink up and forget it!
What’s in your bottle?
Dot’s nigger trink.
Absinthe? It’s doped. You’ll go off your chump, Froggy!
Whiskey, that’s the ticket!
Where’s Paddy?
Going asleep.
Sing us that whiskey song, Paddy. (Theyall turn to an old, wizened Irishman who is dozing, very drunk, on thebenches forward. His face is extremely monkey-like with all the sad,patient pathos of that animal in his small eyes.)
Singa da song, Caruso Pat!
He’s gettin’ old. The drink is too much for him.
He’s too drunk.

  PADDY—(Blinking about him, starts to his feet resentfully, swaying, holding on to the edge of a bunk.) I’m never too drunk to sing. ’Tis only when I’m dead to the world I’d be wishful to sing at all. (With a sort of sad contempt.) “Whiskey Johnny,” ye want? A chanty, ye want? Now that’s a queer wish from the ugly like of you, God help you. But no matther. (He starts to sing in a thin, nasal, doleful tone:)

         Oh, whiskey is the life of man!
    Whiskey! O Johnny! (They all join in on this.)
Oh, whiskey is the life of man!
    Whiskey for my Johnny! (Again chorus)
Oh, whiskey drove my old man mad!
    Whiskey! O Johnny!
Oh, whiskey drove my old man mad!
    Whiskey for my Johnny!

  YANK—(Again turning around scornfully.)Aw hell! Nix on dat old sailing ship stuff! All dat bull’s dead, see?And you’re dead, too, yuh damned old Harp, on’y yuh don’t know it. Takeit easy, see. Give us a rest. Nix on de loud noise. (With a cynical grin.) Can’t youse see I’m tryin’ to t’ink?

  ALL—(Repeating the word after him as one with the same cynical amused mockery.) Think! (Thechorused word has a brazen metallic quality as if their throats werephonograph horns. It is followed by a general uproar of hard, barkinglaughter.)

         VOICES—Don’t be cracking your head wid ut, Yank.
You gat headache, py yingo!
One thing about it—it rhymes with drink!
Ha, ha, ha!
Drink, don’t think!
Drink, don’t think!
Drink, don’t think! (A whole chorus of voices has taken up this refrain, stamping on the floor, pounding on the benches with fists.)

  YANK—(Taking a gulp from his bottle—good-naturedly.) Aw right. Can de noise. I got yuh de foist time. (The uproar subsides. A very drunken sentimental tenor begins to sing:)

         “Far away in Canada,
Far across the sea,
There’s a lass who fondly waits
Making a home for me—”

cely contemptuous.
)Shut up, yuh lousey boob! Where d’yuh get dat tripe? Home? Home, hell!I’ll make a home for yuh! I’ll knock yuh dead. Home! T’hell wit home!Where d’yuh get dat tripe? Dis is home, see? What d’yuh want wit home? (Proudly.)I runned away from mine when I was a kid. On’y too glad to beat it, datwas me. Home was lickings for me, dat’s all. But yuh can bet your shoitnoone ain’t never licked me since! Wanter try it, any of youse? Huh! Iguess not. (In a more placated but still contemptuous tone.)Goils waitin’ for yuh, huh? Aw, hell! Dat’s all tripe. Dey don’t waitfor noone. Dey’d double-cross yuh for a nickel. Dey’re all tarts, getme? Treat ’em rough, dat’s me. To hell wit ’em. Tarts, dat’s what, dewhole bunch of ’em.

  LONG—(Very drunk, jumps on a bench excitedly, gesticulating with a bottle in his hand.)Listen ’ere, Comrades! Yank ’ere is right. ’E says this ’ere stinkin’ship is our ’ome. And ’e says as ’ome is ’ell. And ’e’s right! This is’ell. We lives in ’ell, Comrades—and right enough we’ll die in it. (Raging.)And who’s ter blame, I arsks yer? We ain’t. We wasn’t born this rottenway. All men is born free and ekal. That’s in the bleedin’ Bible,maties. But what d’they care for the Bible—them lazy, bloated swinewhat travels first cabin? Them’s the ones. They dragged us down ’tilwe’re on’y wage slaves in the bowels of a bloody ship, sweatin’,burnin’ up, eatin’ coal dust! Hit’s them’s ter blame—the damnedcapitalist clarss! (There had been a gradual murmur of contemptuousresentment rising among the men until now he is interrupted by a stormof catcalls, hisses, boos, hard laughter.)

         VOICES—Turn it off!
Shut up!
Sit down!
Closa da face!
Tamn fool! (Etc.)

  YANKStanding up and glaring at LONG.) Sit down before I knock yuh down! (Long makes haste to efface himself. YANK goes on contemptuously.)De Bible, huh? De Cap’tlist class, huh? Aw nix on dat SalvationArmy–Socialist bull. Git a soapbox! Hire a hall! Come and be saved,huh? Jerk us to Jesus, huh? Aw g’wan! I’ve listened to lots of guyslike you, see. Yuh’re all wrong. Wanter know what I t’ink? Yuh ain’t nogood for noone. Yuh’re de bunk. Yuh ain’t got no noive, get me? Yuh’reyellow, dat’s what. Yellow, dat’s you. Say! What’s dem slobs in defoist cabin got to do wit us? We’re better men dan dey are, ain’t we?Sure! One of us guys could clean up de whole mob wit one mit. Put oneof ’em down here for one watch in de stokehole, what’d happen? Dey’dcarry him off on a stretcher. Dem boids don’t amount to nothin’. Dey’rejust baggage. Who makes dis old tub run? Ain’t it us guys? Well den, webelong, don’t we? We belong and dey don’t. Dat’s all. (A loud chorus of approval. YANK goes on.)As for dis bein’ hell—aw, nuts! Yuh lost your noive, dat’s what. Dis isa man’s job, get me? It belongs. It runs dis tub. No stiffs need apply.But yuh’re a stiff, see? Yuh’re yellow, dat’s you.

         VOICES—(With a great hard pride in them.)
A man’s job!
Talk is cheap, Long.
He never could hold up his end.
Divil take him!
Yank’s right. We make it go.
Py Gott, Yank say right ting!
We don’t need noone cryin’ over us.
Makin’ speeches.
Throw him out!
Chuck him overboard!
I’ll break his jaw for him!
(They crowd around LONG threateningly.)

  YANK—(Half good-natured again—contemptuously.) Aw, take it easy. Leave him alone. He ain’t woith a punch. Drink up. Here’s how, whoever owns dis. (Hetakes a long swallow from his bottle. All drink with him. In a flashall is hilarious amiability again, back-slapping, loud talk, etc.)

  PADDY—(Who has been sitting in a blinking, melancholy daze—suddenly cries out in a voice full of old sorrow.) We belong to this, you’re saying? We make the ship to go, you’re saying? Yerra then, that Almighty God have pity on us! (Hisvoice runs into the wail of a keen, he rocks back and forth on hisbench. The men stare at him, startled and impressed in spite ofthemselves.) Oh, to be back in the fine days of my youth, ochone!Oh, there was fine beautiful ships them days—clippers wid tall maststouching the sky—fine strong men in them—men that was sons of the seaas if ’twas the mother that bore them. Oh, the clean skins of them, andthe clear eyes, the straight backs and full chests of them! Brave menthey was, and bold men surely! We’d be sailing out, bound down roundthe Horn maybe. We’d be making sail in the dawn, with a fair breeze,singing a chanty song wid no care to it. And astern the land would besinking low and dying out, but we’d give it no heed but a laugh, andnever a look behind. For the day that was, was enough, for we was freemen—and I’m thinking ’tis only slaves do be giving heed to the daythat’s gone or the day to come—until they’re old like me. (With a sort of religious exaltation.)Oh, to be scudding south again wid the power of the Trade Wind drivingher on steady through the nights and the days! Full sail on her! Nightsand days! Nights when the foam of the wake would be flaming wid fire,when the sky’d be blazing and winking wid stars. Or the full of themoon maybe. Then you’d see her driving through the gray night, hersails stretching aloft all silver and white, not a sound on the deck,the lot of us dreaming dreams, till you’d believe ’twas no real ship atall you was on but a ghost ship like the Flying Dutchman they say doesbe roaming the seas forevermore widout touching a port. And there wasthe days, too. A warm sun on the clean decks. Sun warming the blood ofyou, and wind over the miles of shiny green ocean like strong drink to
your lungs. Work—aye, hard work—but who’d mind that at all? Sure, youworked under the sky and ’twas work wid skill and daring to it. And widthe day done, in the dog watch, smoking me pipe at ease, the lookoutwould be raising land maybe, and we’d see the mountains of SouthAmericy wid the red fire of the setting sun painting their white topsand the clouds floating by them! (His tone of exaltation ceases. He goes on mournfully.) Yerra, what’s the use of talking? ’Tis a dead man’s whisper. (To YANK resentfully.)’Twas them days men belonged to ships, not now. ’Twas them days a shipwas part of the sea, and a man was part of a ship, and the sea joinedall together and made it one. (Scornfully.) Is it one wid thisyou’d be, Yank—black smoke from the funnels smudging the sea, smudgingthe decks—the bloody engines pounding and throbbing and shaking—widdivil a sight of sun or a breath of clean air—choking our lungs widcoal dust—breaking our backs and hearts in the hell of thestokehole—feeding the bloody furnace—feeding our lives along wid thecoal, I’m thinking—caged in by steel from a sight of the sky likebloody apes in the Zoo! (With a harsh laugh.) Ho-ho, divil mend you! Is it to belong to that you’re wishing? Is it a flesh and blood wheel of the engines you’d be?

  YANK—(Who has been listening with a contemptuous sneer, barks out the answer.) Sure ting! Dat’s me! What about it?

  PADDY—(As if to himself—with great sorrow.)Me time is past due. That a great wave wid sun in the heart of it maysweep me over the side sometime I’d be dreaming of the days that’s gone!

  YANK—Aw, yuh crazy Mick! (He springs to his feet and advances on PADDY threateningly—then stops, fighting some queer struggle within himself—lets his hands fall to his sides—contemptuously.)Aw, take it easy. Yuh’re aw right, at dat. Yuh’re bugs, dat’s all—nuttyas a cuckoo. All dat tripe yuh been pullin’—Aw, dat’s all right. On’yit’s dead, get me? Yuh don’t belong no more, see. Yuh don’t get destuff. Yuh’re too old. (Disgustedly.) But aw say, come up for air onct in a while, can’t yuh? See what’s happened since yuh croaked. (He suddenly bursts forth vehemently, growing more and more excited.)Say! Sure! Sure I meant it! What de hell— Say, lemme talk! Hey! Hey,you old Harp! Hey, youse guys! Say, listen to me—wait a moment—I gottertalk, see. I belong and he don’t. He’s dead but I’m livin’. Listen tome! Sure I’m part of de engines! Why de hell not! Dey move, don’t dey?Dey’re speed, ain’t dey? Dey smash trou, don’t dey? Twenty-five knots ahour! Dat’s goin’ some! Dat’s new stuff! Dat belongs! But him, he’s tooold. He gets dizzy. Say, listen. All dat crazy tripe about nights anddays; all dat crazy tripe about stars and moons; all dat crazy tripeabout suns and winds, fresh air and de rest of it—Aw hell, dat’s all adope dream! Hittin’ de pipe of de past, dat’s what he’s doin’. He’s oldand don’t belong no more. But me, I’m young! I’m in de pink! I move witit! It, get me! I mean de ting dat’s de guts of all dis. It ploughstrou all de tripe he’s been sayin’. It blows dat up! It knocks datdead! It slams dat offen de face of de oith! It, get me! De engines andde coal and de smoke and all de rest of it! He can’t breathe andswallow coal dust, but I kin, see? Dat’s fresh air for me! Dat’s foodfor me! I’m new, get me? Hell in de stokehole? Sure! It takes a man towork in hell. Hell, sure, dat’s my fav’rite climate. I eat it up! I gitfat on it! It’s me makes it hot! It’s me makes it roar! It’s me makesit move! Sure, on’y for me everyting stops. It all goes dead, get me?De noise and smoke and all de engines movin’ de woild, dey stop. Dereain’t nothin’ no more! Dat’s what I’m sayin’. Everyting else dat makesde woild move, somep’n makes it move. It can’t move witout somep’nelse, see? Den yuh get down to me. I’m at de bottom, get me! Dere ain’tnothin’ foither. I’m de end! I’m de start! I start somep’n and de woildmoves! It—dat’s me!—de new dat’s moiderin’ de old! I’m de ting in coaldat makes it boin; I’m steam and oil for de engines; I’m de ting innoise dat makes yuh hear it; I’m smoke and express trains and steamersand factory whistles; I’m de ting in gold dat makes it money! And I’mwhat makes iron into steel! Steel, dat stands for de whole ting! AndI’m steel—steel—steel! I’m de muscles in steel, de punch behind it! (Ashe says this he pounds with his fist against the steel bunks. All themen, roused to a pitch of frenzied self-glorification by his speech, dolikewise. There is a deafening metallic roar, through which YANK’S voice can be heard bellowing.)Slaves, hell! We run de whole woiks. All de rich guys dat tink dey’resomep’n, dey ain’t nothin’! Dey don’t belong. But us guys, we’re in demove, we’re at de bottom, de whole ting is us! (PADDY from the start of YANK’S speechhas been taking one gulp after another from his bottle, at firstfrightenedly, as if he were afraid to listen, then desperately, as ifto drown his senses, but finally has achieved complete indifferent,even amused, drunkenness. YANK sees his lips moving. He quells the uproar with a shout.) Hey, youse guys, take it easy! Wait a moment! De nutty Harp is sayin’ somep’n.

  PADDY—(Is heard now—throws his head back with a mocking burst of laughter.) Ho-ho-ho-ho-ho—

  YANK—(Drawing back his fist, with a snarl.) Aw! Look out who yuh’re givin’ the bark!

  PADDY—(Begins to sing the “Miller of Dee” with enormous good-nature.)


“I care for nobody, no, not I,

And nobody cares for me.”

  YANK—(Good-natured himself in a flash, interrupts PADDY with a slap on the bare back like a report.)Dat’s de stuff! Now yuh’re gettin’ wise to somep’n. Care for nobody,dat’s de dope! To hell wit ’em all! And nix on nobody else carin’. Ikin care for myself, get me! (Eight bells sound, muffled, vibratingthrough the steel walls as if some enormous brazen gong were imbeddedin the heart of the ship. All the men jump up mechanically, filethrough the door silently close upon each other’s heels in what is verylike a prisoners’ lockstep. YANK slaps PADDY on the back.) Our watch, yuh old Harp! (Mockingly.) Come on down in hell. Eat up de coal dust. Drink in de heat. It’s it, see! Act like yuh liked it, yuh better—or croak yuhself.

  PADDY—(With jovial defiance.)To the divil wid it! I’ll not report this watch. Let thim log me and bedamned. I’m no slave the like of you. I’ll be sittin’ here at me ease,and drinking, and thinking, and dreaming dreams.

  YANK—(Contemptuously.)Tinkin’ and dreamin’, what’ll that get yuh? What’s tinkin’ got to dowit it? We move, don’t we? Speed, ain’t it? Fog, dat’s all you standfor. But we drive trou dat, don’t we? We split dat up and smashtrou—twenty-five knots a hour! (Turns his back on PADDY scornfully.) Aw, yuh make me sick! Yuh don’t belong! (He strides out the door in rear. PADDY hums to himself, blinking drowsily.)


Scene II

SCENETwo days out. A section of the promenade deck. MILDRED DOUGLAS andher aunt are discovered reclining in deck chairs. The former is a girlof twenty, slender, delicate, with a pale, pretty face marred by aself-conscious expression of disdainful superiority. She looks fretful,nervous and discontented, bored by her own anemia. Her aunt is apompous and proud—and fat—old lady. She is a type even to the point ofa double chin and lorgnettes. She is dressed pretentiously, as ifafraid her face alone would never indicate her position in life. MILDRED is dressed all in white.

  Theimpression to be conveyed by this scene is one of the beautiful, vividlife of the sea all about—sunshine on the deck in a great flood, thefresh sea wind blowing across it. In the midst of this, these twoincongruous, artificial figures, inert and disharmonious, the elderlike a gray lump of dough touched up with rouge, the younger looking asif the vitality of her stock had been sapped before she was conceived,so that she is the expression not of its life energy but merely of theartificialities that energy had won for itself in the spending.


  MILDRED—(Looking up with affected dreaminess.) How the black smoke swirls back against the sky! Is it not beautiful?

  AUNT—(Without looking up.) I dislike smoke of any kind.

  MILDRED—My great-grandmother smoked a pipe—a clay pipe.

  AUNT—(Ruffling.) Vulgar!

  MILDRED—She was too distant a relative to be vulgar. Time mellows pipes.

  AUNT—(Pretending boredom but irritated.)Did the sociology you took up at college teach you that—to play theghoul on every possible occasion, excavating old bones? Why not letyour great-grandmother rest in her grave?

  MILDRED—(Dreamily.) With her pipe beside her—puffing in Paradise.

  AUNT—(With spite.) Yes, you are a natural born ghoul. You are even getting to look like one, my dear.

  MILDRED—(In a passionless tone.) I detest you, Aunt. (Looking at her critically.)Do you know what you remind me of? Of a cold pork pudding against abackground of linoleum tablecloth in the kitchen of a—but thepossibilities are wearisome. (She closes her eyes.)

  AUNT—(With a bitter laugh.) Merci for your candor. But since I am and must be your chaperone—in appearance, at least—let us patch up some sort of armed truce. For my part you are quite free to indulge any pose of eccentricity that beguiles you—as long as you observe the amenities—

  MILDRED—(Drawling.) The inanities?

  AUNT—(Going on as if she hadn’t heard.)After exhausting the morbid thrills of social service work on NewYork’s East Side—how they must have hated you, by the way, the poorthat you made so much poorer in their own eyes!—you are now bent onmaking your slumming international. Well, I hope Whitechapel willprovide the needed nerve tonic. Do not ask me to chaperone you there,however. I told your father I would not. I loathe deformity. We willhire an army of detectives and you may investigate everything—theyallow you to see.

  MILDRED—(Protesting with a trace of genuine earnestness.)Please do not mock at my attempts to discover how the other half lives.Give me credit for some sort of groping sincerity in that at least. Iwould like to help them. I would like to be some use in the world. Isit my fault I don’t know how? I would like to be sincere, to touch lifesomewhere. (With weary bitterness.) But I’m afraid I haveneither the vitality nor integrity. All that was burnt out in our stockbefore I was born. Grandfather’s blast furnaces, flaming to the sky,melting steel, making millions—then father keeping those home firesburning, making more millions—and little me at the tail-end of it all.I’m a waste product in the Bessemer process—like the millions. Orrather, I inherit the acquired trait of the by-product, wealth, butnone of the energy, none of the strength of the steel that made it. Iam sired by gold and damed by it, as they say at the race track—damnedin more ways than one. (She laughs mirthlessly).

  AUNT—(Unimpressed—superciliously.)You seem to be going in for sincerity to-day. It isn’t becoming to you,really—except as an obvious pose. Be as artificial as you are, Iadvise. There’s a sort of sincerity in that, you know. And, after all,you must confess you like that better.

  MILDRED—(Again affected and bored.) Yes, I suppose I do. Pardon me for my outburst. When a leopard complains of its spots, it must sound rather grotesque. (In a mocking tone.)Purr, little leopard. Purr, scratch, t
ear, kill, gorge yourself and behappy—only stay in the jungle where your spots are camouflage. In acage they make you conspicuous.

  AUNT—I don’t know what you are talking about.

  MILDRED—It would be rude to talk about anything to you. Let’s just talk. (She looks at her wrist watch.) Well, thank goodness, it’s about time for them to come for me. That ought to give me a new thrill, Aunt.

  AUNT—(Affectedly troubled.) You don’t mean to say you’re really going? The dirt—the heat must be frightful—

  MILDRED—Grandfatherstarted as a puddler. I should have inherited an immunity to heat thatwould make a salamander shiver. It will be fun to put it to the test.

  AUNT—But don’t you have to have the captain’s—or someone’s—permission to visit the stokehole?

  MILDRED—(With a triumphant smile.)I have it—both his and the chief engineer’s. Oh, they didn’t want to atfirst, in spite of my social service credentials. They didn’t seem abit anxious that I should investigate how the other half lives andworks on a ship. So I had to tell them that my father, the president ofNazareth Steel, chairman of the board of directors of this line, hadtold me it would be all right.

  AUNT—He didn’t.

  MILDRED—Hownaïve age makes one! But I said he did, Aunt. I even said he had givenme a letter to them—which I had lost. And they were afraid to take thechance that I might be lying. (Excitedly.) So it’s ho! for the stokehole. The second engineer is to escort me. (Looking at her watch again.) It’s time. And here he comes, I think. (The SECOND ENGINEERenters. He is a husky, fine-looking man of thirty-five or so. He stopsbefore the two and tips his cap, visibly embarrassed and ill-at-ease.)


  MILDRED—Yes. (Throwing off her rugs and getting to her feet.) Are we all ready to start?

  SECOND ENGINEER—In just a second, ma’am. I’m waiting for the Fourth. He’s coming along.

  MILDRED—(With a scornful smile.) You don’t care to shoulder this responsibility alone, is that it?

  SECOND ENGINEER—(Forcing a smile.) Two are better than one. (Disturbed by her eyes, glances out to sea—blurts out.) A fine day we’re having.

  MILDRED—Is it?

  SECOND ENGINEER—A nice warm breeze—

  MILDRED—It feels cold to me.

  SECOND ENGINEER—But it’s hot enough in the sun—

  MILDRED—Not hot enough for me. I don’t like Nature. I was never athletic.

  SECOND ENGINEER—(Forcing a smile.) Well, you’ll find it hot enough where you’re going.

  MILDRED—Do you mean hell?

  SECOND ENGINEER—(Flabbergasted, decides to laugh.) Ho-ho! No, I mean the stokehole.

  MILDRED—My grandfather was a puddler. He played with boiling steel.

  SECOND ENGINEER—(All at sea—uneasily.) Is that so? Hum, you’ll excuse me, ma’am, but are you intending to wear that dress.

  MILDRED—Why not?

  SECOND ENGINEER—You’ll likely rub against oil and dirt. It can’t be helped.

  MILDRED—It doesn’t matter. I have lots of white dresses.

  SECOND ENGINEER—I have an old coat you might throw over—

  MILDRED—Ihave fifty dresses like this. I will throw this one into the sea when Icome back. That ought to wash it clean, don’t you think?

  SECOND ENGINEER—(Doggedly.) There’s ladders to climb down that are none too clean—and dark alleyways—

  MILDRED—I will wear this very dress and none other.

  SECOND ENGINEER—No offence meant. It’s none of my business. I was only warning you—

  MILDRED—Warning? That sounds thrilling.

  SECOND ENGINEER—(Looking down the deck—with a sigh of relief.)—There’s
the Fourth now. He’s waiting for us. If you’ll come—

  MILDRED—Go on. I’ll follow you. (He goes. MILDRED turns a mocking smile on her aunt.) An oaf—but a handsome, virile oaf.

  AUNT—(Scornfully.) Poser!

  MILDRED—Take care. He said there were dark alleyways—

  AUNT—(In the same tone.) Poser!

  MILDRED—(Biting her lips angrily.) You are right. But would that my millions were not so anemically chaste!

  AUNT—Yes, for a fresh pose I have no doubt you would drag the name of Douglas in the gutter!

  MILDRED—From which it sprang. Good-by, Aunt. Don’t pray too hard that I may fall into the fiery furnace.


  MILDRED—(Viciously.) Old hag! (She slaps her aunt insultingly across the face and walks off, laughing gaily.)

  AUNT—(Screams after her.) I said poser!


Scene III

SCENEThestokehole. In the rear, the dimly-outlined bulks of the furnaces andboilers. High overhead one hanging electric bulb sheds just enoughlight through the murky air laden with coal dust to pile up masses ofshadows everywhere. A line of men, stripped to the waist, is before thefurnace doors. They bend over, looking neither to right nor left,handling their shovels as if they were part of their bodies, with astrange, awkward, swinging rhythm. They use the shovels to throw openthe furnace doors. Then from these fiery round holes in the black aflood of terrific light and heat pours full upon the men who areoutlined in silhouette in the crouching, inhuman attitudes of chainedgorillas. The men shovel with a rhythmic motion, swinging as on a pivotfrom the coal which lies in heaps on the floor behind to hurl it intothe flaming mouths before them. There is a tumult of noise—the brazenclang of the furnace doors as they are flung open or slammed shut, thegrating, teeth-gritting grind of steel against steel, of crunchingcoal. This clash of sounds stuns one’s ears with its rendingdissonance. But there is order in it, rhythm, a mechanical regulatedrecurrence, a tempo. And rising above all, making the air hum with thequiver of liberated energy, the roar of leaping flames in the furnaces,the monotonous throbbing beat of the engines.

  Asthe curtain rises, the furnace doors are shut. The men are taking abreathing spell. One or two are arranging the coal behind them, pullingit into more accessible heaps. The others can be dimly made out leaningon their shovels in relaxed attitudes of exhaustion.

  PADDY—(From somewhere in the line—plaintively.) Yerra, will this divil’s own watch nivir end? Me back is broke. I’m destroyed entirely.

  YANK—(From the center of the line—with exuberant scorn.) Aw, yuh make me sick! Lie down and croak, why don’t yuh? Always beefin’, dat’s you! Say, dis is a cinch! Dis was made for me! It’s my meat, get me! (A whistle is blown—a thin, shrill note from somewhere overhead in the darkness. YANK curses without resentment.) Dere’s de damn engineer crakin’ de whip. He tinks we’re loafin’.

  PADDY—(Vindictively.) God stiffen him!

  YANK—(In an exultant tone of command.)Come on, youse guys! Git into de game! She’s gittin’ hungry! Pile somegrub in her! Trow it into her belly! Come on now, all of youse! Openher up! (At this last all the men, who havefollowed his movements of getting into position, throw open theirfurnace doors with a deafening clang. The fiery light floods over theirshoulders as they bend round for the coal. Rivulets of sooty sweat have traced maps on their backs. The enlarged muscles form bunches of high light and shadow.)

  YANK—(Chanting a count as he shovels without seeming effort.) One—two—tree— (His voice rising exultantly in the joy of battle.)Dat’s de stuff! Let her have it! All togedder now! Sling it into her!Let her ride! Shoot de piece now! Call de toin on her! Drive her intoit! Feel her move! Watch her smoke! Speed, dat’s her middle name! Giveher coal, youse guys! Coal, dat’s her booze! Drink it up, baby! Let’ssee yuh sprint! Dig in and gain a lap! Dere she go-o-es (This last in the chanting formula of the gallerygods at the six-day bike race. He slams his furnace door shut. Theothers do likewise with as much unison as their wearied bodies willpermit. The effect is of one fiery eye after another being blotted outwith a series of accompanying bangs.)

  PADDY—(Groaning.) Me back is broke. I’m bate out—bate—(Thereis a pause. Then the inexorable whistle sounds again from the dimregions above the electric light. There is a growl of cursing rage fromall sides.)

  YANK—(Shaking his fist upward—contemptuously.) Take it easy dere, you! Who d’yuh tinks runnin’ dis game, me or you? When I git ready, we move. Not before! When I git ready, get me!

         VOICES—(Approvingly.) That’s the stuff!
Yank tal him, py golly!
Yank ain’t affeerd.
Goot poy, Yank!
Give him hell!
Tell ’
im ’e’s a bloody swine!
Bloody slave-driver!

  YANK—(Contemptuously.)He ain’t got no noive. He’s yellow, get me? All de engineers is yellow.Dey got streaks a mile wide. Aw, to hell wit him! Let’s move, youseguys. We had a rest. Come on, she needs it! Give her pep! It ain’t forhim. Him and his whistle, dey don’t belong. But we belong, see! Wegotter feed de baby! Come on! (He turns and flings his furnace door open. They all follow his lead. At this instant the SECOND and FOURTH ENGINEERS enter from the darkness on the left with MILDRED betweenthem. She starts, turns paler, her pose is crumbling, she shivers withfright in spite of the blazing heat, but forces herself to leave the ENGINEERS and take a few steps nearer the men. She is right behind YANK. All this happens quickly while the men have their backs turned.)

  YANK—Come on, youse guys! (He is turning to get coal when the whistle sounds again in a peremptory, irritating note. This drives YANK into a sudden fury. While the other men have turned full around and stopped dumfounded by the spectacle of MILDRED standing there in her white dress, YANK doesnot turn far enough to see her. Besides, his head is thrown back, heblinks upward through the murk trying to find the owner of the whistle,he brandishes his shovel murderously over his head in one hand,pounding on his chest, gorilla-like, with the other, shouting:)Toin off dat whistle! Come down outa dere, yuh yellow, brass-buttoned,Belfast bum, yuh! Come down and I’ll knock yer brains out! Yuh lousey,stinkin’, yellow mut of a Catholic-moiderin’ bastard! Come down andI’ll moider yuh! Pullin’ dat whistle on me, huh? I’ll show yuh! I’llcrash yer skull in! I’ll drive yer teet’ down yer troat! I’ll slam yernose trou de back of yer head! I’ll cut yer guts out for a nickel, yuhlousey boob, yuh dirty, crummy, muck-eatin’ son of a— (Suddenly he becomes conscious of allthe other men staring at something directly behind his back. He whirlsdefensively with a snarling, murderous growl, crouching to spring, hislips drawn back over his teeth, his small eyes gleaming ferociously. Hesees MILDRED, like a white apparition inthe full light from the open furnace doors. He glares into her eyes,turned to stone. As for her, during his speech she has listened,paralyzed with horror, terror, her whole personality crushed, beatenin, collapsed, by the terrific impact of this unknown, abysmalbrutality, naked and shameless. As she looks at his gorilla face, ashis eyes bore into hers, she utters a low, choking cry and shrinks awayfrom him, putting both hands up before her eyes to shut out the sightof his face, to protect her own. This startles YANK to a reaction. His mouth falls open, his eyes grow bewildered.)

  MILDRED—(About to faint—to the ENGINEERS, who now have her one by each arm—whimperingly.) Take me away! Oh, the filthy beast! (Shefaints. They carry her quickly back, disappearing in the darkness atthe left, rear. An iron door clangs shut. Rage and bewildered fury rushback on YANK. He feels himself insulted in some unknown fashion in the very heart of his pride. He roars:) God damn yuh! (Andhurls his shovel after them at the door which has just closed. It hitsthe steel bulkhead with a clang and falls clattering on the steelfloor. From overhead the whistle sounds again in a long, angry,insistent command.)


Scene IV

SCENEThe firemen’s forecastle. YANK’S watchhas just come off duty and had dinner. Their faces and bodies shinefrom a soap and water scrubbing but around their eyes, where a hastydousing does not touch, the coal dust sticks like black make-up, givingthem a queer, sinister expression. YANK hasnot washed either face or body. He stands out in contrast to them, ablackened, brooding figure. He is seated forward on a bench in theexact attitude of Rodin’s “The Thinker.” The others, most of themsmoking pipes, are staring at YANK half-apprehensively, as if fearing an outburst; half-amusedly, as if they saw a joke somewhere that tickled them.


         VOICES—He ain’t ate nothin’.
Py golly, a fallar gat gat grub in him.
Divil a lie.
Yank feeda da fire, no feeda da face.
He ain’t even washed hisself.
He’s forgot.
Hey, Yank, you forgot to wash.
  YANK—(Sullenly.) Forgot nothin’! To hell wit washin’.
         VOICES—It’ll stick to you.
It’ll get under your skin.
Give yer the bleedin’ itch, that’s wot.
It makes spots on you—like a leopard.
Like a piebald nigger, you mean.
Better wash up, Yank.
You sleep better.
Wash up, Yank.
Wash up! Wash up!

  YANK—(Resentfully.) Aw say, youse guys. Lemme alone. Can’t youse see I’m tryin’ to tink?

  ALL—(Repeating the word after him as one with cynical mockery.) Think! (Theword has a brazen, metallic quality as if their throats were phonographhorns. It is followed by a chorus of hard, barking laughter.)

  YANK—(Springing to his feet and glaring at them belligerently.) Yes, tink! Tink, dat’s what I said! What about it? (They are silent, puzzled by his sudden resentment at what used to be one of his jokes.

  YANKsits down again in the same attitude of “The Thinker.”)

         VOICES—Leave him alone.
He’s got a grouch on.
Why wouldn’t he?

  PADDY—(With a wink at the others.) Sure I know what’s the matther. ’Tis aisy to see. He’s fallen in love, I’m telling you.

  ALL—(Repeating the word after him as one with cynical mockery.) Love! (Theword has a brazen, metallic quality as if their throats were phonographhorns. It is followed by a chorus of hard, barking laughter.)

  YANK—(With a contemptuous snort.) Love, hell! Hate, dat’s what. I’ve fallen in hate, get me?

  PADDY—(Philosophically.) ’Twould take a wise man to tell one from the other. (With a bitter, ironical scorn, increasing as he goes on.)But I’m telling you it’s love that’s in it. Sure what else but love forus poor bastes in the stokehole would be bringing a fine lady, dressedlike a white quane, down a mile of ladders and steps to be havin’ alook at us? (A growl of anger goes up from all sides.)

  LONG—(Jumping on a bench—hecticly.)Hinsultin’ us! Hinsultin’ us, the bloody cow! And them bloodyengineers! What right ’as they got to be exhibitin’ us ’s if we wasbleedin’ monkeys in a menagerie? Did we sign for hinsults to ourdignity as ’onest workers? Is that in the ship’s articles? You kinbloody well bet it ain’t! But I knows why they done it. I arsked a decksteward ’o she was and ’e told me. ’Er old man’s a bleedin’millionaire, a bloody Capitalist! ’E’s got enuf bloody gold to sinkthis bleedin’ ship! ’E makes arf the bloody steel in the world! ’E ownsthis bloody boat! And you and me, comrades, we’re ’is slaves! And theskipper and mates and engineers, they’re ’is slaves! And she’s ’isbloody daughter and we’re all ’er slaves, too! And she gives ’er ordersas ’ow she wants to see the bloody animals below decks and down theytakes ’er! (There is a roar of rage from all sides.)

  YANK—(Blinking at him bewilderedly.) Say! Wait a moment! Is all dat straight goods?

  LONG—Straight as string! The bleedin’ steward as waits on ’em, ’e told me about ’er. And what’re we goin’ ter do, I arsks yer? ’Ave we got ter swaller ’er hinsults like dogs? It ain’t in the ship’s articles. I tell yer we got a case. We kin go ter law—

  YANK—(With abysmal contempt.) Hell! Law!

  ALL—(Repeating the word after him as one with cynical mockery.) Law! (Theword has a brazen metallic quality as if their throats were phonographhorns. It is followed by a chorus of hard, barking laughter.)

  LONG—(Feeling the ground slipping from under his feet—desperately.) As voters and citizens we kin force the bloody governments—

  YANK—(With abysmal contempt.) Hell! Governments!

  ALL—(Repeating the word after him as one with cynical mockery.) Governments! (Theword has a brazen metallic quality as if their throats were phonographhorns. It is followed by a chorus of hard, barking laughter.)

  LONG—(Hysterically.) We’re free and equal in the sight of God—

  YANK—(With abysmal contempt.) Hell! God!

  ALL—(Repeating the word after him as one with cynical mockery.) God! (Theword has a brazen metallic quality as if their throats were phonographhorns. It is followed by a chorus of hard, barking laughter.)

  YANK—(Witheringly.) Aw, join de Salvation Army!

  ALL—Sit down! Shut up! Damn fool! Sea-lawyer! (Long slinks back out of sight.)

  PADDY—(Continuing the trend of his thoughts as if he had never been interrupted—bitterly.)And there she was standing behind us, and the Second pointing at uslike a man you’d hear in a circus would be saying: In this cage is aqueerer kind of baboon than ever you’d find in darkest Africy. We roastthem in their own sweat—and be damned if you won’t hear some of thimsaying they like it! (He glances scornfully at YANK.)

  YANK—(With a bewildered uncertain growl.) Aw!

  PADDY—And there was Yank roarin’ curses and turning round wid his shovel to brain her—and she looked at him, and him at her—

  YANK—(Slowly.) She was all white. I tought she was a ghost. Sure.

  PADDY—(With heavy, biting sarcasm.)’Twas love at first sight, divil a doubt of it! If you’d seen theendearin’ look on her pale
mug when she shrivelled away with her handsover her eyes to shut out the sight of him! Sure, ’twas as if she’dseen a great hairy ape escaped from the Zoo!

  YANK—(Stung—with a growl of rage.) Aw!

  PADDY—And the loving way Yank heaved his shovel at the skull of her, only she was out the door! (A grin breaking over his face.) ’Twas touching, I’m telling you! It put the touch of home, swate home in the stokehole. (There is a roar of laughter from all.)

  YANK—(Glaring at PADDY menacingly.) Aw, choke dat off, see!

  PADDY—(Not heeding him—to the others.) And her grabbin’ at the Second’s arm for protection. (With a grotesque imitation of a woman’s voice.)Kiss me, Engineer dear, for it’s dark down here and me old man’s inWall Street making money! Hug me tight, darlin’, for I’m afeerd in thedark and me mother’s on deck makin’ eyes at the skipper! (Another roar of laughter.)

  YANK—(Threateningly.) Say! What yuh tryin’ to do, kid me, yuh old Harp?

  PADDY—Divil a bit! Ain’t I wishin’ myself you’d brained her?

  YANK—(Fiercely.) I’ll brain her! I’ll brain her yet, wait ’n’ see! (Coming over to PADDYslowly.) Say, is dat what she called me—a hairy ape?

  PADDY—She looked it at you if she didn’t say the word itself.

  YANK—(Grinning horribly.) Hairy ape, huh? Sure! Dat’s de way she looked at me, aw right. Hairy ape! So dat’s me, huh? (Bursting into rage—as if she were still in front of him.) Yuh skinny tart! Yuh white-faced bum, yuh! I’ll show yuh who’s a ape! (Turning to the others, bewilderment seizing him again.)Say, youse guys. I was bawlin’ him out for pullin’ de whistle on us.You heard me. And den I seen youse lookin’ at somep’n and I tought he’dsneaked down to come up in back of me, and I hopped round to knock himdead wit de shovel. And dere she was wit de light on her! Christ, yuhcoulda pushed me over with a finger! I was scared, get me? Sure! Itought she was a ghost, see? She was all in white like dey wrap aroundstiffs. You seen her. Kin yuh blame me? She didn’t belong, dat’s what.And den when I come to and seen it was a real skoit and seen de way shewas lookin’ at me—like Paddy said—Christ, I was sore, get me? I don’tstand for dat stuff from nobody. And I flung de shovel—on’y she’d beatit. (Furiously.) I wished it’d banged her! I wished it’d knocked her block off!

  LONG—And be ’anged for murder or ’lectrocuted? She ain’t bleedin’ well worth it.

  YANK—I don’t give a damn what! I’d be square wit her, wouldn’t I? Tink I wanter let her put somep’n over on me? Tink I’m goin’ to let her git away wit dat stuff? Yuh don’t know me! Noone ain’t never put nothin’ over on me and got away wit it, see!—not dat kind of stuff—no guy and no skoit neither! I’ll fix her! Maybe she’ll come down again—

  VOICE—No chance, Yank. You scared her out of a year’s growth.

  YANK—I scared her? Why de hell should I scare her? Who de hell is she? Ain’t she de same as me? Hairy ape, huh? (With his old confident bravado.)I’ll show her I’m better’n her, if she on’y knew it. I belong and shedon’t, see! I move and she’s dead! Twenty-five knots a hour, dats me!Dat carries her but I make dat. She’s on’y baggage. Sure! (Again bewilderedly.)But, Christ, she was funny lookin’! Did yuh pipe her hands? White andskinny. Yuh could see de bones trough ’em. And her mush, dat was deadwhite, too. And her eyes, dey was like dey’d seen a ghost. Me, dat was!Sure! Hairy ape! Ghost, huh? Look at dat arm! (He extends his right arm, swelling out the great muscles.) I coulda took her wit dat, wit’ just my little finger even, and broke her in two. (Again bewilderedly.)Say, who is dat skoit, huh? What is she? What’s she come from? Who madeher? Who give her de noive to look at me like dat? Dis ting’s got mygoat right. I don’t get her. She’s new to me. What does a skoit likeher mean, huh? She don’t belong, get me! I can’t see her. (With growing anger.)But one ting I’m wise to, aw right, aw right! Youse all kin bet yourshoits I’ll git even wit her. I’ll show her if she tinks she—She grindsde organ and I’m on de string, huh? I’ll fix her! Let her come downagain and I’ll fling her in de furnace! She’ll move den! She won’tshiver at nothin’, den! Speed, dat’ll be her! She’ll belong den! (He grins horribly.)

  PADDY—She’llnever come. She’s had her belly-full, I’m telling you. She’ll be in bednow, I’m thinking, wid ten doctors and nurses feedin’ her salts toclean the fear out of her.

  YANK—(Enraged.) Yuh tink I made her sick, too, do yuh? Just lookin’ at me, huh? Hairy ape, huh? (In a frenzy of rage.) I’ll fix her! I’ll tell her where to git off! She’ll git down on her knees and take it back or I’ll bust de face offen her! (Shaking one fist upward and beating on his chest with the other.) I’ll find yuh! I’m comin’, d’yuh hear? I’ll fix yuh, God damn yuh! (He makes a rush for the door.)


VOICES—Stop him!

He’ll get shot!

He’ll murder her!

Trip him up!

Hold him!

He’s gone crazy!

Gott, he’s strong!

Hold him down!

Look out for a kick!

Pin his arms!

  (Theyhave all piled on him and, after a fierce struggle, by sheer weight ofnumbers have borne him to the floor just inside the door.)

  PADDY—(Who has remained detached.) Kape him down till he’s cooled off. (Scornfully.)Yerra, Yank, you’re a great fool. Is it payin’ attention at all you areto the like of that skinny sow widout one drop of rale blood in her?

  YANK—(Frenziedly, from the bottom of the heap.)She done me doit! She done me doit, didn’t she? I’ll git square withher! I’ll get her some way! Git offen me, youse guys! Lemme up! I’llshow her who’s a ape!


Click here to read the 2nd half of the play: scenes V through VIII

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