by Edgar Lee Masters
[from Spoon River Anthology, 1 of 33 poems added to the 1916 edition]
[The graveyard of Spoon River. Two voices are heard behind a screen decorated with diabolical and angelic figures in various allegorical relations. A faint light shows dimly through the screen as if it were woven of leaves, branches and shadows.]
First Voice:—A game of checkers?
Second Voice:—Well, I don’t mind.
First Voice:—I move the Will.
Second Voice:—You’re playing it blind.
First Voice:—Then here’s the Soul.
Second Voice:—Checked by the Will.
First Voice:—Eternal Good!
Second Voice:—And Eternal Ill.
First Voice:—I haste for the King row.
Second Voice:—Save your breath.
First Voice:—I was moving Life.
Second Voice:—You’re checked by Death.
First Voice:—Very good, here’s Moses.
Second Voice:—And here’s the Jew.
First Voice:—My next move is Jesus.
Second Voice:—St. Paul for you!
First Voice:—Yes, but St. Peter—
Second Voice:—You might have foreseen—
First Voice:—You’re in the King row—
Second Voice:—With Constantine!
First Voice:—I’ll go back to Athens.
Second Voice:—Well, here’s the Persian.
First Voice:—All right, the Bible.
Second Voice:—Pray now, what version?
First Voice:—I take up Buddha.
Second Voice:—It never will work.
First Voice:—From the corner Mahomet.
Second Voice:—I move the Turk.
First Voice:—The game is tangled; where are we now?
Second Voice:—You’re dreaming worlds. I’m in the King row.
Move as you will, if I can’t wreck you
I’ll thwart you, harry you, rout you, check you.
First Voice:—I’m tired. I’ll send for my Son to play.
I think he can beat you finally—
First Voice:—I must preside at the stars’ convention.
Second Voice:—Very well, my lord, but I beg to mention
I’ll give this game my direct attention.
First Voice:—A game indeed! But Truth is my quest.
Second Voice:—Beaten, you walk away with a jest.
I strike the table, I scatter the checkers.
[A rattle of a falling table and checkers flying over a floor.]
Aha! You armies and iron deckers,
Races and states in a cataclysm—
Now for a day of atheism!
[The screen vanishes and Beelzebub steps forward carrying a trumpet, which he blows faintly. Immediately Loki and Yogarindra start up from the shadows of night.]
Beelzebub:—Good evening, Loki!
Loki:—The same to you!
Yogarindra:—My greetings, too.
Loki:—Whence came you, comrade?
Beelzebub:—From yonder screen.
Yogarindra:—And what were you doing?
Beelzebub:—Stirring His spleen.
Loki:—How did you do it?
Beelzebub:—I made it rough
In a game of checkers.
Yogarindra:—I thought I heard the sounds of a battle.
Beelzebub:—No doubt! I made the checkers rattle,
Turning the table over and strewing
The bits of wood like an army pursuing.
Yogarindra:—I have a game! Let us make a man.
Loki:—My net is waiting him, if you can.
Yogarindra:—And here’s my mirror to fool him with—
Beelzebub:—Mystery, falsehood, creed and myth.
Loki:—But no one can mold him, friend, but you.
Beelzebub:—Then to the sport without more ado.
Yogarindra:—Hurry the work ere it grow to day.
Beelzebub:—I set me to it. Where is the clay?
[He scrapes the earth with his hands and begins to model.]
Beelzebub:—Out of the dust,
Out of the slime,
A little rust,
And a little lime.
Muscle and gristle,
Brayed with a pestle,
Fat and bone.
Out of the marshes,
Out of the vaults,
Gas and salts.
What is this you call a mind,
Flitting, drifting, pale and blind,
Soul of the swamp that rides the wind?
Jack-o’-lantern, here you are!
Dream of heaven, pine for a star,
Chase your brothers to and fro,
Back to the swamp at last you’ll go.
The Valley:—Hilloo! Hilloo!
[Beelzebub in scraping up the earth turns out a skull.]
Beelzebub:—Old one, old one.
Now ere I break you,
Crush you and make you
Clay for my use,
Let me observe you:
You were a bold one
Flat at the dome of you,
Heavy the base of you,
False to the home of you,
Strong was the face of you,
Strange to all fears.
Yet did the hair of you
Hide what you were.
Now to re-nerve you—
[He crushes the skull between his hands and mixes it with the clay.]
Now you are dust,
Limestone and rust.
I mold and I stir
And make you again.
The Valley:—Again? Again?
[In the same manner Beelzebub has fashioned several figures, standing them against the trees.]
Loki:—Now for the breath of life. As I remember
You have done right to mold your creatures first,
And stand them up.
I make the will.
Yogarindra:—Out of sensation
Comes his ill.
Out of my mirror
Springs his error.
Who was so cruel
To make him the slave
Of me the sorceress, you the knave,
And you the plotter to catch his thought,
Whatever he did, whatever he sought?
With a nature dual
Of will and mind
A thing that sees, and a thing that’s blind.
Come! to our dance! Something hated him
Made us over him, therefore fated him.
[They join hands and dance.]
Loki:—Passion, reason, custom, rules,
Creeds of the churches, lore of the schools,
Taint in the blood and strength of soul.
Flesh too weak for the will’s control;
Poverty, riches, pride of birth,
Wailing, laughter, over the earth,
Here I have you caught again,
Enter my web, ye sons of men.
Yogarindra:—Look in my mirror! Isn’t it real?
What do you think now, what do you feel?
Here is treasure of gold heaped up;
Here is wine in the festal cup.
Tendrils blossoming, turned to whips,
Love with her breasts and scarlet lips.
Breathe in their nostrils.
Out of nothingness into death.
Out of the mold, out of the rocks
Wonder, mockery, paradox!
Soaring spirit, groveling flesh,
Bait the trap, and spread the mesh.
Give him hunger, lure him with truth,
Give him the iris hopes of Youth.
Starve him, shame him, fling him down,
Whirled in the vortex of the town.
Break him, age him, till he curse
The idiot face of the universe.
Over and over we mix the clay,—
What was dust is alive to-day.
The Three:—Thus is the hell-born tangle wound
Swiftly, swiftly round and round.
Beelzebub:—[Waving his trumpet.] You live! Away!
One of the Figures:—How strange and new!
I am I, and another, too.
Another Figure:—I was a sun-dew’s leaf, but now
What is this longing?—
Another Figure:—Earth below
I was a seedling magnet-tipped
Drawn down earth—
Another Figure:—And I was gripped
Electrons in a granite stone,
Now I think.
Another Figure:—Oh, how alone!
Another Figure:—My lips to thine. Through thee I find
Something alone by love divined!
Beelzebub:—Begone! No, wait. I have bethought me, friends;
Let’s give a play.
[He waves his trumpet.]
To yonder green rooms go.
[The figures disappear.]
Yogarindra:—Oh, yes, a play! That’s very well, I think,
But who will be the audience? I must throw
Illusion over all.
Loki:—And I must shift
The scenery, and tangle up the plot.
Beelzebub:—Well, so you shall! Our audience shall come
From yonder graves.
[He blows his trumpet slightly louder than before. The scene changes. A stage arises among the graves. The curtain is down, concealing the creatures just created, illuminated halfway up by spectral lights. Beelzebub stands before the curtain.]
Beelzebub:—[A terrific blast of the trumpet.] Who-o-o-o-o-o!
[Immediately there is a rustling as of the shells of grasshoppers stirred by a wind; and hundreds of the dead, including those who have appeared in the Anthology, hurry to the sound of the trumpet.]
A Voice:—Gabriel! Gabriel!
Many Voices:—The Judgment day!
Beelzebub:—Be quiet, if you please
At least until the stars fall and the moon.
Many Voices:—Save us! Save us!
[Beelzebub extends his hands over the audience with a benedictory motion and restores order.]
Beelzebub:—Ladies and gentlemen, your kind attention
To my interpretation of the scene.
I rise to give your fancy comprehension,
And analyze the parts of the machine.
My mood is such that I would not deceive you,
Though still a liar and the father of it,
From judgment’s frailty I would retrieve you,
Though falsehood is my art and though I love it.
Down in the habitations whence I rise,
The roots of human sorrow boundless spread.
Long have I watched them draw the strength that lies
In clay made richer by the rotting dead.
Here is a blossom, here a twisted stalk,
Here fruit that sourly withers ere its prime;
And here a growth that sprawls across the walk,
Food for the green worm, which it turns to slime.
The ruddy apple with a core of cork
Springs from a root which in a hollow dangles,
Not skillful husbandry nor laborious work
Can save the tree which lightning breaks and tangles.
Why does the bright nasturtium scarcely flower
But that those insects multiply and grow,
Which make it food, and in the very hour
In which the veinèd leafs and blossoms blow?
Why does a goodly tree, while fast maturing,
Turn crooked branches covered o’er with scale?
Why does the tree whose youth was not assuring
Prosper and bear while all its fellows fail?
I under earth see much. I know the soil.
I know where mold is heavy and where thin.
I see the stones that thwart the plowman’s toil,
The crooked roots of what the priests call sin.
I know all secrets, even to the core,
What seedlings will be upas, pine or laurel;
It cannot change howe’er the field’s worked o’er.
Man’s what he is and that’s the devil’s moral.
So with the souls of the ensuing drama
They sprang from certain seed in certain earth.
Behold them in the devil’s cyclorama,
Shown in their proper light for all they’re worth.
Now to my task: I’ll give an exhibition
Of mixing the ingredients of spirit.
[He waves his wand.]
Come, crucible, perform your magic mission,
Come, recreative fire, and hover near it!
I’ll make a soul, or show how one is made.
[He waves his wand again. Parti-colored flames appear.]
This is the woman you shall see anon!
[A red flame appears.]
This hectic flame makes all the world afraid:
It was a soldier’s scourge which ate the bone.
His daughter bore the lady of the action,
And died at thirty-nine of scrofula.
She was a creature of a sweet attraction,
Whose sex-obsession no one ever saw.
[A purple flame appears.]
Lo! this denotes aristocratic strains
Back in the centuries of France’s glory.
[A blue flame appears.]
And this the will that pulls against the chains
Her father strove until his hair was hoary.
Sorrow and failure made his nature cold,
He never loved the child whose woe is shown,
And hence her passion for the things which gold
Brings in this world of pride, and brings alone.
The human heart that’s famished from its birth
Turns to the grosser treasures, that is plain.
Thus aspiration fallen fills the earth
With jungle growths of bitterness and pain.
Of Celtic, Gallic fire our heroine!
Courageous, cruel, passionate and proud.
False, vengeful, cunning, without fear o’ sin.
A head that oft is bloody, but not bowed.
Now if she meet a man—suppose our hero,
With whom her chemistry shall war yet mix,
As if she were her Borgia to his Nero,
’Twill look like one of Satan’s little tricks!
However, it must be. The world’s great garden
Is not all mine. I only sow the tares.
Wheat should be made immune, or else the Warden
Should stop their coming in the world’s affairs.
But to our hero! Long ere he was born
I knew what would repel him and attract.
Such spirit mathematics, fig or thorn,
I can prognosticate before the fact.
[A yellow flame appears.]
This is a grandsire’s treason in an orchard
Against a maid whose nature with his mated.
[Lurid flames appear.]
And this his memory distrait and tortured,
Which marked the child with hate because she hated.
Our heroine’s grand dame was that maid’s own cousin—
But never this our man and woman knew.
The child, in time, of lovers had a dozen,
Then wed a gentleman upright and true.
And thus our hero had a double nature:
One half of him was bad, the other good.
The devil must exhaust his nomenclature
To make this puzzle rightly understood.
But when our hero and our heroine met
They were at once attracted, the repulsion
Was hidden under Passion, with her net
Which must enmesh you ere you feel revulsion.
The virus coursing in the soldier’s blood,
The orchard’s ghost, the unknown kinship ’twixt them,
Our hero’s mother’s lovers round them stood,
Shadows that smiled to see how Fate had fixed them.
This twain pledge vows and marry, that’s the play.
And then the tragic features rise and deepen.
He is a tender husband. When away
The serpents from the orchard slyly creep in.
Our heroine, born of spirit none too loyal,
Picks fruit of knowledge—leaves the tree of life.
Her fancy turns to France corrupt and royal,
Soon she forgets her duty as a wife.
You know the rest, so far as that’s concerned,
She met exposure and her husband slew her.
He lost his reason, for the love she spurned.
He prized her as his own—how slight he knew her.
[He waves a wand, showing a man in a prison cell.]
Now here he sits condemned to mount the gallows—
He could not tell his story—he is dumb.
Love, says your poets, is a grace that hallows,
I call it suffering and martyrdom.
The judge with pointed finger says, “You killed her.”
Well, so he did—but here’s the explanation;
He could not give it. I, the drama-builder,
Show you the various truths and their relation.
[He waves his wand.]
Now, to begin. The curtain is ascending,
They meet at tea upon a flowery lawn.
Fair, is it not? How sweet their souls are blending—
The author calls the play “Laocoön.”
A Voice:—Only an earth dream.
Another Voice:—With which we are done.
A flash of a comet
Upon the earth stream.
Another Voice:—A dream twice removed,
A spectral confusion
Of earth’s dread illusion.
A Far Voice:—These are the ghosts
From the desolate coasts.
Would you go to them?
Only pursue them.
Whatever enshrined is
Within you is you.
In a place where no wind is,
Out of the damps,
Be ye as lamps.
To me alone true,
The Life and the Fire.
[Beelzebub, Loki, and Yogarindra vanish. The phantasmagoria fades out. Where the dead seemed to have assembled, only heaps of leaves appear. There is the light as of dawn. Voices of Spring.]
First Voice:—The springtime is come, the winter departed,
She wakens from slumber and dances light-hearted.
The sun is returning
We are done with alarms,
Earth lifts her face burning,
Held close in his arms.
The sun is an eagle
Who broods o’er his young,
The earth is his nursling
In whom he has flung
The life-flame in seed,
In blossom desire,
Till fire become life,
And life become fire.
Second Voice:—I slip and I vanish,
I baffle your eye;
I dive and I climb,
I change and I fly.
You have me, you lose me,
Who have me too well,
Now find me and use me—
I am here in a cell.
Third Voice:—You are there in a cell?
Oh, now for a rod
With which to divine you—
Second Voice:—Nay, child, I am God.
Fourth Voice:—When the waking waters rise from their beds of snow, under the hill,
In little rooms of stone where they sleep when icicles reign,
The April breezes scurry through woodlands, saying “Fulfill!
Awaken roots under cover of soil—it is Spring again.”
Then the sun exults, the moon is at peace, and voices
Call to the silver shadows to lift the flowers from their dreams.
And a longing, longing enters my heart of sorrow, my heart that rejoices
In the fleeting glimpse of a shining face, and her hair that gleams.
I arise and follow alone for hours the winding way by the river,
Hunting a vanishing light, and a solace for joy too deep.
Where do you lead me, wild one, on and on forever?
Over the hill, over the hill, and down to the meadows of sleep.
The Sun:—Over the soundless depths of space for a hundred million miles
Speeds the soul of me, silent thunder, struck from a harp of fire.
Before my eyes the planets wheel and a universe defiles,
I but a luminant speck of dust upborne in a vast desire.
What is my universe that obeys me—myself compelled to obey
A power that holds me and whirls me over a path that has no end?
And there are my children who call me great, the giver of life and day,
Myself a child who cry for life and know not whither I tend.
A million million suns above me, as if the curtain of night
Were hung before creation’s flame, that shone through the weave of the cloth,
Each with its worlds and worlds and worlds crying upward for light,
For each is drawn in its course to what?—as the candle draws the moth.
The Milky Way:—Orbits unending,
Life never ending,
Power without end.
A Voice:—Wouldst thou be lord,
Not peace but a sword.
Not heart’s desire—
Worship thy power,
Conquer thy hour,
Sleep not but strive,
So shalt thou live.
Infinite Depths:—Infinite Law,
[To read more Spoon River Anthology click here.]
The Emperor Jones — first half (scenes I through IV)
by Eugene O’Neill, 1922
BRUTUS JONES, Emperor
HENRY SMITHERS, a Cockney Trader
AN OLD NATIVE WOMAN
LEM, a Native Chief
SOLDIERS, adherents of Lem
The Little Formless Fears; 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 by White Marines. The form of native government is, for the time being, an Empire.
SCENE I: In the palace of the Emperor Jones. Afternoon.
SCENE II: The edge of the Great Forest. Dusk.
SCENE III: In the Forest. Night.
SCENE IV: In the Forest. Night.
SCENE V: In the Forest. Night.
SCENE VI: In the Forest. Night.
SCENE VII: In the Forest. Night.
SCENE VIII: Same as Scene Two—the edge of the Great Forest. Dawn.
The audience chamber in the palace of the Emperor—a spacious, high-ceilinged room with bare, whitewashed walls. The floor is of white tiles. In the rear, to the left of center, a wide archway giving out on a portico with white pillars. The palace is evidently situated on high ground for beyond the portico nothing can be seen but a vista of distant hills, their summits crowned with thick groves of palm trees. In the right wall, center, a smaller arched doorway leading to the living quarters of the palace. The room is bare of furniture with the exception of one huge chair made of uncut wood which stands at center, its back to rear. This is very apparently the Emperor’s throne. It is painted a dazzling, eye-smiting scarlet. There is a brilliant orange cushion on the seat and another smaller one is placed on the floor to serve as a footstool. Strips of matting, 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 and there is an oppressive burden of exhausting heat in the air.|
|As the curtain rises, a native negro woman sneaks in cautiously from the entrance on the right. She is very old, dressed in cheap calico, bare-footed, a red bandana handkerchief covering all but a few stray wisps of white hair. A bundle bound in colored cloth is carried over her shoulder on a stick. She hesitates 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 moment, Smithers appears beneath the portico.|
|Smithers is a tall, stoop-shouldered man about forty. His bald head, perched on a long neck with an enormous Adam’s apple, looks like an egg. The tropics have tanned his naturally pasty face with its small, sharp features to a sickly yellow, and native rum has painted his pointed nose to a startling red. His little, washy-blue eyes are red-rimmed and dart about him like a ferret’s. His expression is one of unscrupulous meanness, cowardly and dangerous. He is dressed in a worn riding suit of dirty white drill, puttees, spurs, and wears a white cork helmet. A cartridge belt with an automatic revolver is around his waist. He carries a riding whip in his hand. He sees the woman and stops to watch her suspiciously. Then, making up his mind, he steps quickly on tiptoe into the room. The woman, looking back over her shoulder continually, does not see him until it is too late. When she does Smithers springs forward and grabs her firmly by the shoulder. She struggles to get away, fiercely but silently.|
|SMITHERS—(tightening his grasp—roughly) Easy! 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 frantic terror, and sinks to the ground, embracing his knees supplicatingly) No tell him! No tell him, Mister!|
|SMITHERS—(with great curiosity) Tell ‘im? (then scornfully) Oh, you mean ‘is bloomin’ Majesty. What’s the gaime, any ‘ow? What you sneakin’ away for? Been stealin’ a bit, I s’pose. (He taps her bundle with his riding whip significantly.)|
|WOMAN—(shaking her head vehemently) No, me no steal.|
| SMITHERS—Bloody liar! But tell me what’s up. There’s somethin’ funny goin’ on. I smelled it in the air first thing I got up this mornin’. You blacks are up to some devilment. This pala
ce of ‘is is like a bleedin’ tomb. Where’s all the ‘ands? (The woman keeps sullenly silent. Smithers raises his whip threateningly.) Ow, yer won’t, won’t yer? I’ll show yer what’s what.
|WOMAN—(coweringly) I tell, Mister. You no hit. They go—all go. (She makes a sweeping gesture toward the hills in the distance.)|
|SMITHERS—Run away— to the ‘ills?|
|WOMAN—Yes, Mister. Him Emperor—great Father. (She touches her forehead to the floor with a quick mechanical jerk.) Him sleep after eat. Then they go—all go. Me old woman. Me left only. Now me go too.|
|SMITHERS—(his astonishment giving way to an immense, mean satisfaction) Ow! So that’s the ticket! Well, I know bloody well wot’s in the air—when they runs orf to the ‘ills. The tom-tom’ll be thumping out there bloomin’ soon. (with extreme vindictiveness) And I’m bloody glad of it, for 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. (suddenly) ‘E’s still ‘ere all right, ain’t ‘e?|
|WOMAN—Yes. Him sleep.|
|SMITHERS—’E’s bound to find out soon as 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 fingers in his mouth. The old woman springs to her feet and runs out of the doorway, rear. Smithers goes after her, reaching for his revolver.) Stop or I’ll shoot! (then stopping—indifferently) Pop orf then, if yer like, yer black cow. (He stands in the doorway, looking after her.)|
|(Jones enters from the right. He is a tall, powerfully-built, full-blooded negro of middle age. His features are typically negroid, yet there is something decidedly distinctive about his face—an underlying strength of will, a hardy, self-reliant confidence in himself that inspires respect. His eyes are alive with a keen, cunning intelligence. In manner he is shrewd, suspicious, evasive. He wears a light blue uniform coat, sprayed with brass buttons, heavy gold chevrons on his shoulders, gold braid on the collar, cuffs, etc. His pants are bright red with a light blue stripe down the side. Patent leather laced boots with brass spurs, and a belt with a long-barreled, pearl-handled revolver in a holster complete his makeup. Yet there is something not altogether ridiculous about his grandeur. He has a way of carrying it off.)|
|JONES—(not seeing anyone—greatly irritated and blinking sleepily—shouts) Who dare whistle dat way in my palace? Who dare wake up de Emperor? I’ll git de hide frayled off some o’ you niggers sho’!|
|SMITHERS—(showing himself—in a manner half-afraid and half-defiant) It was me whistled to yer. (as Jones frowns angrily) I got news for yer.|
|JONES—(putting on his suavest manner, which fails to cover up his contempt for the white man) Oh, it’s you, Mister Smithers. (He sits down on his throne with easy dignity.) What news you got to tell me?|
|SMITHERS—(coming close to enjoy his discomfiture) Don’t yer notice nothin’ funny today?|
|JONES—(coldly) Funny? No. I ain’t perceived nothin’ of de kind!|
|SMITHERS—Then yer ain’t so foxy as I thought yer was. Where’s all your court? (sarcastically) The Generals and the Cabinet Ministers and all?|
|JONES—(imperturbably) where dey mostly runs to minute I closes my eyes—drinkin’ rum and talkin’ big down in de town. (sarcastically) How come you don’t know dat? Ain’t you sousin’ with ’em most everyday?|
|SMITHERS—(stung but pretending indifference—with a wink) That’s part of the day’s work. I got ter—ain’t I—in my business?|
|JONES—(contemptuously) Yo’ business!|
|SMITHERS—(imprudently enraged) Gawd blimey, you was glad enough for me ter take yer in on it when you landed here first. You didn’ ‘ave no ‘igh and mighty airs in them days!|
|JONES—(his hand going to his revolver like a flash—menacingly) Talk polite, white man! Talk polite, you heah me! I’m boss heah now, is you fergettin’? (The Cockney seems about to challenge this last statement with the facts but something in the other’s eyes holds and cowes him.)|
|SMITHERS—(in a cowardly whine) No ‘arm meant, old top.|
| JONES—(condescendingly) I accepts yo’ apology. (lets his hand fall from his revolver) No use’n you rakin’ up ole times. What I was den is 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.
|SMITHERS—Well, blimey, I give yer a start, didn’t I—when no one else would. I wasn’t afraid to ‘ire yer like the rest was—‘count of the story about your breakin’ jail back in the States.|
|JONES—No, you didn’t have no s’cuse to look down on me fo’ dat. You been in jail you’self more’n once.|
|SMITHERS—(furiously) It’s a lie! (then trying to pass it off by an attempt at scorn) Garn! Who told yer that fairy tale?|
|JONES—Dey’s some tings I ain’t got to be tole. I kin see ’em in folk’s eyes. (then after a pause—meditatively) 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. (with pride) From stowaway to Emperor in two years! Dat’s goin’ some!|
|SMITHERS—(with curiosity) And I bet you got yer pile o’ money ‘id safe some place.|
|JONES—(with satisfaction) I sho’ has! And it’s in a foreign bank where no pusson don’t ever git it out but me no matter what come. You didn’t s’pose I was holdin’ down dis Emperor job for de glory in it, did you? Sho’! De fuss and glory part of it, dat’s only to turn de heads o’ de low-flung, bush niggers dat’s here. Dey wants de big circus show for deir money. I gives it to ’em an’ I gits de money. (with a grin) De long green, dat’s me every time! (then rebukingly) But you ain’t got no kick agin me, Smithers. I’se paid you back all you done for me many times. Ain’t I pertected you and winked at all de crooked tradin’ you been doin’ right out in de broad day. Sho’. I has—and me makin’ laws to stop it at de same time! (He chuckles.)|
|SMITHERS—(grinning) But, meanin’ no ‘arm, you been grabbin’ right and left yourself, ain’t yer? Look at the taxes you’ve put on ’em! Blimey! You’ve squeezed ’em dry!|
|JONES—(chuckling) No, dey ain’t all dry yet. I’se still heah, ain’t I?|
|SMITHERS—(smiling at his secret thought) They’re dry right now, you’ll find out. (changing the subject abruptly) And as for me breakin’ laws, you’ve broke ’em all yerself just as fast as yer made ’em.|
|JONES—Ain’t r de Emperor? De laws don’t go for him. (judicially) You heah what I tells you, Smithers. Dere’s little stealin’ like you does, and dere’s big stealin’ like I does. For de little stealin’ dey gits you in jail soon or late. For de big stealin’ dey makes you Emperor and puts you in de Hall o’ Fame when you croaks. (reminiscently) If dey’s one thing 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 Emperor in two years.|
|SMITHERS—(unable to repress the genuine admiration of the small fry for the large) Yes, yer turned the bleedin’ trick, all fight. Blimey, I never seen a bloke ‘as ‘ad the bloomin’ luck you ‘as.|
|JONES—(severely) Luck? What you mean—luck?|
|SMITHERS—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 it?|
|JONES—(with a laugh) 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?|
|SMITHERS—You said yer’d got a charm so’s no lead bullet’d kill yer. You was so strong only a silver bullet could kill yer, you told ’em. Blimey, wasn’t that swank for yer—and plain, fat-‘eaded luck?|
|JONES—(proudly) I got brains and I uses ’em quick. Dat ain’t luck.|
|SMITHERS—Yer know they wasn’t ‘ardly likely to get no silver bullets. And it was luck ‘e didn’t ‘it you that time.|
|JONES—(laughing) And dere all dem fool, bush 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.|
|SMITHERS—(with a sniff) Yankee bluff 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 do 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.
|SMITHERS—(flushing) Never mind about me. What’s this I’ve ‘eard about yer really ‘avin’ a silver bullet moulded for yourself?|
|JONES—It’s playin’ out my bluff. I has de silver bullet moulded and I tells ’em when do 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 laughs.) I does dat so’s I kin take a walk in peace widout no jealous nigger gunnin’ at me from behind de trees.|
|SMITHERS—(astonished) Then you ‘ad it made—‘onest?|
|JONES—Sho’ did. Heah she he. (He takes out his revolver, breaks it, and takes the silver bullet out of one chamber.) Five lead an’ dis silver baby at de last. Don’t she shine pretty? (He holds it in his hand, looking at it admiringly, as if strangely fascinated.)|
|SMITHERS—Let me see. (reaches out his hand for it)|
|JONES—(harshly) Keep yo’ hands whar dey b’long, white man. (He replaces it in the chamber and puts the revolver back on his hip.)|
|SMITHERS—(snarling) Gawd Nimey! Mink 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.|
|SMITHERS—(sneering) A bloomin’ charm, wot? (venomously) Well, you’ll need all the bloody charms you ‘as before long, s’ ‘elp me!|
|JONES—(judicially) Oh, I’se good for six months yit ‘fore dey gits sick o’ my 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 shine. Was you thinkin’ I’se aimin’ to hold down dis job for life? No, suh! What good is gittin’ money if you stays back in dis raggedy country? I wants action when I spends. And when I sees dese niggers gittin’ up deir nerve to tu’n me out, and I’se got all de money in sight, I resigns on de spot and beats it quick.|
|JONES—None o’ yo’ business.|
|SMITHERS—Not back to the bloody States, I’ll lay my oath.|
|JONES—(suspiciously) Why don’t I? (then with an easy laugh) You mean ‘count of dat story ’bout me breakin’ from jail back dere? Dat’s all talk.|
|SMITHERS—(skeptically) Ho, yes!|
|JONES—(sharply) You ain’t ‘sinuatin’ I’se a liar, is you?|
|SMITHERS—(hastily) No, Gawd strike me! I was only thinkin’ o’ the bloody lies you told the blacks ‘ere about killin’ white men in the States.|
|JONES—(angered) How come dey’re lies?|
|SMITHERS—You’d ‘ave been in jail, if you ‘ad, wouldn’t yer then? (with venom) And from what I’ve ‘eard, it ain’t ‘ealthy for a black to kill a white man in the States. They burns ’em in oil, don’t they?|
|JONES—(with cool deadliness) You mean lynchin’ ‘d scare me? Well, I tells you, Smithers, maybe I does kill one white man back dere, Maybe I does. And maybe I kills another right heah ‘fore long if he don’t look out.|
|SMITHERS—(trying to force a laugh) I was on’y spoofin’ yer. Can’t yer take a joke? And you was just sayin’ you’d never ken in jail.|
|JONES—(in the same tone—slightly boastful) 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 files de chain off my leg and gits 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!|
|SMITHERS—(terrified) Think I’d peach on yer? Not me! Ain’t I always been yer friend?|
|JONES—(suddenly relaxing) Sho’ you has—and you better be.|
|SMITHERS—(recovering his composure—and with it his malice) And just to show yer I’m yer friend, I’ll 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.|
|SMITHERS—(warningly) Maybe it’s gettin’ time for you to resign—with that bloomin’ silver bullet, wot? (He finishes with a mocking grin.)|
|JONES—(puzzled) What’s dat you say? Talk plain.|
|SMITHERS—Ain’t noticed any of the guards or servants about the place today, I ‘aven’t.|
|JONES—(carelessly) Dey’re all out in de garden sleepin’ under de trees. When I sleeps, dey sneaks a sleep, too, and I pretends I never suspicions it. All I got to do is to ring de bell and dey come flyin’, makin’ a bluff dey was wukin’ all de time.|
|SMITHERS—(in the same mocking tone) Ring the bell now an’ you’ll bloody well see what I means.|
|JONES—(startled to alertness, but preserving the same careless tone) Sho’ I rings. (He reaches below the throne and pulls out a big, common dinner bell which is painted the same vivid scarlet as the throne. He rings this vigorously—then stops to listen. Then he goes to both doors, rings again, and looks out.)|
|SMITHERS—(watching him with malicious satisfaction, after a pause—mockingly) The bloody ship is sinkin’ an’ the bleedin’ rats ‘as slung their ‘ooks.|
|JONES—(in a sudden fit of anger flings the bell clattering into a corner) Low-flung, woods’ niggers! (then catching Smither’s eye on him, he controls himself and suddenly bursts into a low chuckling laugh.) 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’? Well, I’se changed my mind den. I cashes in and resigns de job of Emperor right dis minute.|
|SMITHERS—(with 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?|
|SMITHERS—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 the door in rear.)|
|SMITHERS—Goin’ out to look for your ‘orse? Yer won’t find any. They steals the ‘orses first thing. Mine was gone when I went for ‘im this mornin’. That’s wot first give me a suspicion of wot was up.|
|JONES—(alarmed for a second, scratches his head, then philosophically) Well, den I hoofs it. Feet, do yo’ duty! (He pulls out a gold watch and looks at it.) 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.|
|SMITHERS—Don’t be so bloomin’ sure of it. They’ll be after you ‘ot and ‘eavy. Ole Lem is at the bottom o’ this business an’ ‘e ‘ates you like ‘ell. ‘E’d rather do for you than eat ‘is dinner, ‘e would!|
|JONES—(scornfully) 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 fo’ sho’!|
|SMITHERS—You’ll ‘ave to cut through the big forest—an’ these blacks ‘ere can sniff and follow a trail in the dark like ‘ounds. You’d ‘ave to ‘ustle to get through that forest in twelve hours even if you knew all the bloomin’ trails like a native.|
| JONES—(with indignant scorn) Look-a-heah, white man! Does you think I’se a natural bo’n fool? Give me credit fo’ havih’ some sense, fo’ Lawd’s sake! Don’t you s’pose I’se looked ahead and made sho’ of all de chances? I’se gone out in dat big forest, pretendin’ to hunt, so many times dat I knows it high an’ low like a book. I could go through on dem trails wid my eyes shut. (with great contempt) Think dese ig’nerent bush niggers dat ain’t got brains enuff to know deir own names even can catch Brutus Jones? Huh, I s’pects not! Not on yo
‘ life! why, man, de white men went after me wid bloodhounds where I come from an’ I jes’ laughs at ’em. It’s a shame to fool dese black trash around heah, dey’re so easy. You watch me, man’. I’ll make dem look sick, I will. I’ll be ‘cross de plain to de edge of de forest by time dark comes. Once in de woods in de night, dey got a swell chance o’ findin’ dis baby! Dawn tomorrow I’ll be out at de oder side and on de coast whar dat French gunboat is stayin’. She picks me up, take me to the Martinique when she go dar, and dere I is safe wid a mighty big bankroll in my jeans. It’s easy as rollin’ off a log.
|SMITHERS—(maliciously) But s’posin’ somethin’ ‘appens wrong an’ they do nab yer?|
|JONES—(decisively) Dey don’t—dat’s de answer.|
|SMITHERS—But, just for argyment’s sake—what’d you do?|
|JONES—(frowning) I’se got five 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.|
|SMITHERS—(jeeringly) Ho, I was fergettin’ that silver bullet. You’ll bump yourself orf in style, won’t yer? Blimey!|
|JONES—(gloomily) You kin bet yo’ 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’s a fac’ I—(then shaking off his nervousness—with a confident laugh) Sho’! what is I talkin’ about? Ain’t come to dat yit and I never will—not wid trash niggers like dese yere. (boastfully) Silver bullet bring me luck anyway. I kin outguess, outrun, outfight, an’ outplay 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 thump of a tom-tom, low and vibrating. It starts at a rate exactly corresponding to normal pulse beat—72 to the minute—and continues at a gradually accelerated rate from this point uninterruptedly to the very end of the play. Jones starts at the sound. A strange look of apprehension creeps into his face for a moment as he listens. Then he asks, with an attempt to regain his most casual manner.) What’s dat drum beatin’ fo’?|
|SMITHERS—(with a mean grin) For you. That means the bleedin’ ceremony ‘as started. I’ve ‘eard it before and I knows.|
|JONES—Cer’mony? What cer’mony?|
|SMITHERS—The blacks is ‘oldin’ a bloody meetin’, ‘avin’ a war dance, gettin’ their courage worked up b’fore they starts after you.|
|JONES—Let dem! Dey’ll sho’ need it!|
|SMITHERS—And they’re there ‘oldin’ their ‘eathen religious service—makin’ no end of devil spells and charms to ‘elp ’em against your silver bullet. (He guffaws loudly.) Blimey, but they’re balmy as ‘ell!|
|JONES—(a tiny bit awed and shaken in spite of himself) Huh! Takes more’n dat to scare dis chicken!|
|SMITHERS—(scenting the other’s feeling—maliciously) Ternight 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 ‘ll be standin’ on end before termorrow mornin’. (seriously) It’s a bleedin’ queer place, that stinkin’ forest, even in daylight. Yer don’t know what might ‘appen in there, it’s that rotten still. Always sends the cold shivers down my back minute I gets in it.|
|JONES—(with a contemptuous sniff) I ain’t no chicken-liver like you is. Trees an’ me, we’ se friends, and dar’s a full moon comin’ bring me light. And let dem po’ niggers make all de fool spells dey’se a min’ to. Does yo’ s’pect I’se silly, enuff to b’lieve in ghosts an’ ha’nts an’ all dat ole woman’s talk? G’long, white man! You ain’t talkin’ to me. (with a chuckle) 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. (then with more confident satisfaction) And I’se got little silver bullet o’ my own, don’t forgits.|
|SMITHERS—Ho! You ‘aven’t give much ‘eed to your Baptist Church since you been down ‘ere. I’ve ‘card myself you ‘ad turned yer coat an’ was takin’ up with their blarsted witch-docters, or whatever the ‘ell yer calls the swine.|
| JONES—(vehemently) 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 git 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 hem’. (stops abruptly to look at his watch—
alertly) But I ain’t got de time to waste no more fool talk wid you. I’se gwine away from heah dis secon’. (He reaches in under the throne and pulls out an expensive Panama hat with a bright multi-colored band and sets it jauntily on his head.) So long, white man! (with a grin) See you in jail sometime, maybe!
|SMITHERS—Not me, you won’t. Well, I wouldn’t be in yer bloody boots for no bloomin’ money, but ‘ere’s wishin’ yer luck just the same.|
|JONES—(contemptuously) You’re de frightenedest 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.|
|SMITHERS—(maliciously) Give my regards to any ghosts yer meets up with.|
|JONES—(grinning) If dat ghost got money, I’ll tell him never ha’nt you less’n he wants to lose it.|
|SMITHERS—(flattered) Garn! (then curiously) 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 forest. (boastfully) Now say dat I don’t look ahead an’ use my brains! (with a wide, liberal gesture) 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.|
|SMITHERS—(gratefully) Righto—and thanks ter yer. (as Jones walks toward the door in rear—cautioningly) Say! Look ‘ere, you am’t goin’ out that way, are yer?|
|JONES—Does you think I’d slink out de back door like a common nigger? I’se Emperor yit, 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 stops for a moment in the doorway, listening to the far-off but insistent beat of the tom-tom.) Listen to dat roll-call, will you? Must be mighty big drum carry dat far. (then with a laugh) Well, if dey ain’t no whole brass band to see me off, I sho’ got de drum part of it. So long, white man. (He puts his hands in his pockets and with studied carelessness, whistling a tune, he saunters out of the doorway and off to the left.)|
| SMITHERS—(looks after him with a puzzled admiration) ‘E’s got ‘is bloomin’ nerve with ‘im, s’elp me! (then angrily) Ho-the bleedin’ nigger—puttin’ an ‘is bloody airs! I ‘opes they nabs ‘im an’ gives ‘im what’s what!
The end of the plain where the Great Forest begins. The foreground is sandy, level ground dotted by a few stones and clumps of stunted bushes cowering close against the earth to escape the buffeting of the trade wind. In the rear the forest is a wall of darkness dividing the world. Only when the eye becomes accustomed to the gloom can the outlines of separate trunks of the nearest trees be made out, enormous pillars of deeper blackness. A somber monotone of wind lost in the leaves moans in the air. Yet this sound serves but to intensify the impression of the forest’s relentless immobility, to form a background throwing into relief its brooding, implacable silence.
|Jones enters from the left, walking rapidly. He stops as he nears the edge of the forest, looks around him quickly, peering into the dark as if searching for some familiar landmark. Then, apparently satisfied that he is where he ought to be, he throws himself on the ground, dog-tired.|
| Well, heah I is. In de nick o’ time, too! Little mo’ an’ it’d be blacker’n de ace of spades heah-abouts. (He pulls a bandana handkerchief from his hip pocket and mops off his perspiring face.) 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 with a chuckle) Cheah up, nigger, de worst is yet to come. (He lifts his head and stares at the forest. His chuckle peters out abruptly. In a tone of awe) My goodness, look at dem woods, will you? Dat no-count Smithers said dey’d be black an’ he sho’ called de turn. (Turning away from 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 blisterin’ 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 the rhythmic beating of the tom-tom. He grumbles in a loud tone to cover up a growing uneasiness.) Bush niggers! Wonder dey wouldn’ git sick o’ beatin’ dat drum. Sound louder, seem like. I wonder if dey’s startin’ after me? (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. What you gittin’ fidgetty about? (But he sits down and begins to lace up his shoes in great haste, all the time muttering reassuringly.) You know what? Yo’ belly is empty, dat’s what’s de matter wid you. Come time to eat! Wid nothin’ but wind on yo’ stumach, o’ course you feels jiggedy. Well, we eats right heah an’ now soon’s I gits dese pesky shoes laced up. (He finishes lacing up his shoes.) Dere! Now le’s see! (gets on his hands and knees and searches the ground around him with his eyes) White stone, white stone, where is you? (He sees the first white stone and crawls to it—with satisfaction.) Heah you is! I knowed dis was de right place. Box of grub, come to me. (He turns over the stone and feels in under it—in a tone 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 the next stone and turns 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? (While he is talking he scrambles from one 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 daylight? (almost plaintively) 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’. (He scratches a match on his trousers and peers about him. The rate of the beat of the far-off tom-tom increases perceptibly as he does so. He mutters in a bewildered voice.) How come all dese white stones come heah when I only remembers one? (Suddenly, with a frightened gasp, he flings the match on the ground and stamps on it.) Nigger, is you gone crazy mad? Is you lightin’ matches to show dem whar you is? Fo’ Lawd’s sake, use yo’ haid. Gorry, I’se got to be careful! (He stares at the plain behind him apprehensively, his hand on his revolver.) But how come all dese white stones? And whar’s dat tin box o’ grub I hid all wrapped up in oil cloth?
|(While his back is turned, the Little Formless Fears creep out from the deeper blackness of the forest. They are black, shapeless, only their glittering little eyes can be seen. If they have any describable form at all it is that of a grubworm about the size of a creeping child. They move noiselessly, but with deliberate, painful effort, striving to raise themselves on end, failing and sinking prone again. Jones turns about to face the forest. He stares up at the tops of the trees, seeking vainly to discover his whereabouts by their conformation.)|
|Can’t tell nothin’ from dem trees! Gorry, nothin’ ’round heah look like I evah seed it befo’. I’se done lost de place sho’ ’nuff! (with mournful foreboding) It’s mighty queer! It’s mighty queer! (with sudden forced defiance—in an angry tone) Woods, is you tryin’ to put somethin’ ovah on me?|
|(From the formless creatures on the ground in front of him comes a tiny gale of low mocking laughter like a rustling of leaves. They squirm upward toward him in twisted attitudes. Jones looks down, leaps backward with a yell of terror, yanking out his revolver as he does join 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 loud report, then silence broken only by the far-off, quickened throb of the tom-tom. The formless creatures have scurried back into the forest. Jones remains fixed in his position, listening intently. The sound of the shot, the reassuring feel of the revolver in his hand, have somewhat restored his shaken nerve. He addresses himself with renewed confidence.)|
|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. Sho’, you fool nigger, what you think dey is—ha’nts? (excitedly) Gorry, you give de game away when you fire dat shot. Dem niggers heah dat fo’ su’tin! Time you beat it in de woods widout no long waits. (He starts for the forest—hesitates before the plunge—then urging himself in with manful resolution.) Git in, nigger! What you skeered at? Ain’t nothin’ dere but de trees! Git in! (He plunges boldly into the forest.)|
In the forest. The moon has just risen. Its beams, drifting through the canopy of leaves, make a barely perceptible, suffused, eerie glow. A dense low wall of under-brush and creepers is in the nearer foreground, fencing in a small triangular clearing. Beyond this is the massed blackness of the forest like an encompassing barrier. A path is dimly discerned leading down to the clearing from left, rear, and winding away from it again toward the right. As the scene opens nothing can be distinctly made out. Except for the beating of the tom-tom, which is a trifle louder and quicker than in the previous scene, there is silence, broken every few seconds by a queer, clicking sound. Then gradually the figure of the negro, Jeff, can be discerned crouching on his haunches 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, plodding footsteps of someone approaching along the trail from the left are heard and Jones’ voice, pitched in a slightly higher key and strained in a cheering effort to overcome its own tremors.
|De moon’s rizen. Does you heah dat, nigger? You 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 triangular clearing and mops off his face on his sleeve. He has lost his Panama hat. His face is scratched, his brilliant uniform shows several large rents.) 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 fac’! (wearily) How long r been makin’ tracks in dese woods? Must be hours an’ hours. Seems like fo’evah! Yit can’t be, when de moon’s jes’ riz. Dis am a long night fo’ yo’, yo’ Majesty! (with a 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’ hands you laughs at all dis. (He starts to whistle but checks himself abruptly.) What yo’ whistlin’ for, you po’ dope! Want all de won’ to heah you? (He stops talking to listen.) Heah dat ole drum! 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.) What’s dat odder queer clicketty sound I heah? Den it is! Sound close! Sound like—sound like—Fo’ God sake, sound like some nigger was shootin’ crap! (frightenedly) I better beat it quick when I gits dem notions. (He walks quickly into the clear space—then stands transfixed as he sees Jeff in a terrified gasp.) Who dar? Who dat? Is dat you, Jeff? (starting toward the other, forgetful for a moment of his surroundings and really believing it is a living man that he sees—in a tone of happy relief) Jeff! I’se sho’ mighty glad to see you! Dey tol’ me you done died from dat razor cut I gives you. (stopping suddenly, bewilderedly) But how you come to be heah, nigger? (He stares fascinatedly at the other who continues his mechanical play with the dice. Jones’ eyes begin to roll wildly. He stutters.) Ain’t you gwine—look up—can’t you speak to me? Is you—is you—a ha’nt? (He jerks out his revolver in a frenzy of terrified rage.) Nigger, I kills you dead once. Has I got to kill you agin? You take it den. (He fires. When the smoke clears away Jeff has disappeared. Jones stands trembling—then with a certain reassurance.) He’s gone, anyway. Ha’nt or no ha’nt, dat shot fix him. (The beat of the far-off tom-tom is perceptibly louder and more rapid. Jones becomes conscious of it—with a start, looking back over his shoulder.) 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. (Forgetting the path he plunges wildly into the underbrush in the rear and disappears in the shadow.)|
In the forest. A wide
|I’m meltin’ wid heat! Runnin’ an’ runnin’ an’ runnin’! Damn dis heah coat! Like a strait jacket! (He tears off his coat and flings it away from him., revealing himself stripped to the waist.) Den! Dat’s better! Now I kin breathe! (Looking down at his feet, the spurs catch his eye.) And to hell wid dese high-fangled spurs. Dey’re what’s been a-trippin’ me up an’ breakin’ my neck. (He unstraps them and flings them away disgustedly.) Dere! I gits rid o’ dem frippety Emperor trappin’s an’ I travels lighter. Lawd! I’se tired! (after a pause, listening to the insistent beat of the tom-tom in 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 guess I a’most holds my lead anyhow. Dey won’t never catch up. (with a sigh) If on’y my fool legs stands up. Oh, I’se 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 road, too. I never remembers seein’ it befo’. (shaking his head apprehensively) Dese woods is sho’ full o’ de queerest things at night. (with a sudden terror) Lawd God, don’t let me see no more o’ dem ha’nts! Dey gits my goat! (then trying to talk 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. Wasn’t no Jeff! Know what? You jus’ get seem’ dem things ’cause yo’ belly’s empty and you’s sick wid 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’ dem, whatever dey is! (then cautiously) Rest! Don’t talk! Rest! You needs it. Den you gits on yo’ way again. (looking at the moon) Night’s half gone a’most. You hits de coast in de mawning! Den you’se all safe.|
|(From the right forward a small gang of negroes enter. They are dressed in striped convict suits, their heads are shaven, one leg drags limpingly, shackled to a heavy ball and chain. Some carry picks, the others shovels. They are followed by a white man dressed in the uniform of a prison guard. A Winchester rifle is slung across his shoulders and he carries a heavy whip. At a signal from the guard they stop on the road opposite where Jones is sitting. Jones, who has been staring up at the sky, unmindful 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 back, too numbed by fright to move. His voice catches in a choking prayer.)|
|(The prison guard cracks his whip—noiselessly—and at that signal all the convicts start to work on the road. They swing their picks, they shovel, but not a sound comes from their labor. Their movements, like those of Jeff in the preceding scene, are those of automatons,—rigid, slow, and mechanical. The prison guard points sternly at Jones with his whip, motions him to take his place among the other shovellers. Jones gets to his feet in a hypnotized stupor. He mumbles subserviently.)|
|Yes, suh! Yes, suh! I’se comin’.|
|(As he shuffles, dragging one foot, over to his place, he curses under his breath with rage and hatred.)|
|God damn yo’ soul, I gits even wid you yit, sometime.|
| (As if there were a shovel in his hands he goes through weary, mechanical gestures of digging up dirt, and throwing it to the roadside. Suddenly the guard approaches him angrily, threateningly. H
e raises his whip and lashes Jones viciously across the shoulders with it. Jones winces with pain and cowers abjectly. The guard turns his back on him and walks away contemptuously. Instantly Jones straightens up. With arms upraised as if his shovel were a club in his hands he springs murderously at the unsuspecting guard. In the act of crashing down his shovel on the white man’s skull, Jones suddenly becomes aware that his hands are empty. He cries despairingly.)
|Whar’s my shovel? Gimme my shovel ’till I splits his damn head! (Appealing to his fellow convicts) Gimme a shovel, one o’ you, fo’ God’s sake!|
|(They stand fixed in motionless attitudes, their eyes on the ground. The guard seems to wait expectantly, his back turned to the attacker. Jones bellows with baffled, terrified rage, tugging frantically at his revolver.)|
|I kills you, you white debil, if it’s de last thing I evah does! Ghost or debil, I kill you agin!|
(He frees the revolver and fires point blank at the guard’s back. Instantly the walls of the forest close in from both sides; the road and the figures of the convict gang are blotted out in an enshrouding darkness. The only sounds are a crashing in the underbrush as Jones leaps away in mad flight and the throbbing of the tom-tom, still far distant, but increased in volume of sound and rapidity of beat.)
* * * * *
The Emperor Jones — second half (scenes V through VIII)
by Eugene O’Neill, 1920
HENRY SMITHERS, a Cockney
AN OLD NATIVE
LEM, a Native Chief
SOLDIERS, adherents of Lem
The Little Formless Fears; 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 by White Marines. The form of native government is, for
the time being, an Empire.
SCENE I: In the palace of the
Emperor Jones. Afternoon.
SCENE II: The edge of the Great Forest. Dusk.
SCENE III: In the Forest. Night.
SCENE IV: In the Forest. Night.
SCENE V: In the Forest. Night.
SCENE VI: In the Forest. Night.
SCENE VII: In the Forest. Night.
SCENE VIII: Same as Scene Two—the edge of the Great
Oh Lawd, Lawd! Oh Lawd, Lawd! (Suddenly
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! I’se
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, my anger overcomes me, and I kills
him dead. 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 sorry! Forgive me,
Lawd! Forgive dis po’ sinner! (then
beseeching terrifiedly) And keep dem away, Lawd! Keep dem
away from me! And stop dat drum soundin’ in my ears! Dat begin to
sound ha’nted, too. (He gets to his feet, evidently slightly
reassured by his prayer—with
attempted confidence.) De
Lawd’ll preserve me from dem ha’nts 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 inside the shoe—with a
groan.) Oh, my po’ feet! Dem shoes
ain’t no use no more ‘ceptin’ to hurt. I’se better off widout dem.
(He unlaces them and pulls them off—holds the wrecks of
the shoes in his hands and regards them mournfully.) You was real,
A-one patin’ leather, too. Look at you now. Emperor, you’se gittin’
(He sighs dejectedly and remains
with bowed shoulders, staring down
at the shoes in his hands as if reluctant to throw them away. While
his attention is thus occupied, a crowd of figures silently enter
the clearing from all sides. All are dressed in Southern costumes
of the period of the fifties of the last
century. There are middle-aged who are evidently well-to-do planters.
There is one spruce, authoritative individual—the
auctioneer. There are a crowd of curious
spectators, chiefly young belles and dandies who have come to
the slave-market for diversion. All
exchange courtly greetings in dumb show and chat silently together.
There is something stiff, rigid, unreal,
marionettish about their movements.
They group themselves about the stump. Finally a batch of
slaves are led in from the left by an attendant—three men of different
ages, two women, one with a baby in her arms, nursing. They are
placed to the left of the stump, beside Jones.
planters look them over appraisingly as if they were cattle, and
exchange judgments on each. The dandies point with their fingers and
make witty remarks. The belles titter bewitchingly. All this in silence
save for the ominous throb of the tom-tom. The auctioneer holds
up his hand, taking his place at the stump. The groups strain forward
attentively. He touches Jones on the shoulder peremptorily,
motioning for him to stand on the stump—the auction block.
(Jones looks up, sees the figures
on all sides, looks wildly
for some opening to escape, sees none, screams and leaps madly
to the top of the stump to get as far away from them as possible.
He stands there, cowering, paralyzed with
horror. The auctioneer begins his
silent spiel. He points to Jones, appeals to
the planters to see for themselves. Here is a good field hand, sound
in wind and limb as they can see. Very strong still in spite of
being middle-aged. Look at that back. Look at those shoulders. Look
at the muscles in his arms and his sturdy legs. Capable of any amount
of hard labor. Moreover, of a good disposition, intelligent and
tractable. Will any gentleman start the bidding? The planters raise
their fingers, make their bids. They are apparently all eager to
possess Jones. The bidding is lively, the crowd interested. While
this has been going on, Jones has been seized by
the courage of desperation. He dares to look down, and around him.
Over his face abject terror gives way to
mystification, to gradual realization—stutteringly.)
What you all doin’, white folks?
What’s all dis? what you all lookin’
at me fo’? what you doin’ wid me, anyhow? (suddenly convulsed
with raging hatred and fear) Is dis a auction? Is you sellin’
me like dey uster hefo’ de war? (jerking
out his revolver just as the auctioneer knocks
him down 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 auctioneer and at the planter with
such rapidity that the two shots are almost simultaneous. As if
this were a signal the walls of the forest fold in. Only 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.)
Oh, Lawd, what I gwine do now? Ain’t
got no bullet left on’y de silver
one. If mo’ o’ dem ha’nts come after me, how I gwine
skeer dem away? Oh, Lawd, on’j de silver one left—an’ I gotta
save dat fo’ luck. If I shoots dat one I’m a goner sho’ I Lawd, it’s
black heah! Whar’s de moon? Oh, Lawd, don’t dis night evah come to
an end? (By the sounds, he is feeling his way cautiously forward.)
Dere! Dis feels like a clear space. I gotta
lie down an’ rest. I don’t care if
dem niggers does cotch me. I gotta rest.
(He is well forward now where his
figure can be dimly made out. His
pants have been so torn away that what is left of them is no better
than a breech cloth. He flings himself full
length, face downward on the ground,
panting with exhaustion. Gradually it seems to grow lighter
in the enclosed space and two rows of seated figures can be seen
behind Jones. They are sitting in crumpled, despairing attitudes,
hunched, facing one another with their backs touching the forest
walls as if they were shackled to them. All are negroes, naked save
for loin 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 the long roll of a ship at
sea. At the same time, a low, melancholy murmur rises among them,
increasing 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 reaches a certain pitch, unbearably acute,
then falls by slow graduations of tone into silence and is taken
up again. Jones starts, looks up, sees the figures, and
throws himself down again to shut out the sight. A shudder of terror
shakes his whole body as the wail rises up about him again. But
the next time, his voice, as if under some uncanny compulsion, starts
with the others. As their chorus lifts he rises to a sitting posture
similar to the others, swaying back and forth. His voice reaches the
highest pitch of sorrow, of desolation. The light fades out, the other
voices cease, and only darkness is left. Jones can
be heard scrambling to his feet and running off, his voice sinking
down the scale and receding as he moves
farther and farther away in the
forest. The tom-tom beats louder, quicker, with a more insistent,
What—what is I doin? What is—dis
place? Seems like—seems like
I know dat tree—an’ dem stones—an’ de
river. I remember—seems like I
been heah befo’. (tremblingly) Oh, Gorry, I’se skeered in
dis place! I’se skeered! Oh, Lawd, pertect dis sinner!
(Crawling away from the altar, he
cowers close to the ground, his
face hidden, his shoulders heaving with sobs of hysterical fright.
From behind the trunk of the tree, as if he
had sprung out of it, the figure of
the Congo witch-doctor appears. He
is wizened and old, naked except for the fur of some small animal
tied about his waist, its bushy tail hanging down in front. His
body is stained all over a bright red. Antelope horns are on each
side of his head, branching upward. In one
hand he carries a bone rattle, in
the other a charm stick with a bunch of
white cockatoo feathers tied to the end. A great number of glass beads
and bone ornaments are about his neck, ears, wrists, and ankles. He
struts noiselessly with a queer prancing step to a position in the
clear ground between Jones and the altar. Then with a
preliminary, summoning stamp of his foot on the earth, he begins to
dance and to chant. As if in
response to his summons the beating of the tom-tom grows
to a fierce, exultant boom whose throbs seem to fill the air with
vibrating rhythm. Jones looks up, starts to spring to
his feet, reaches a half kneeling, half-squatting position and remains
rigidly fixed there, paralyzed with awed fascination by this new
apparition. The witch-doctor sways, stamping with
his foot, his bone rattle clicking the time. His voice rises and
falls in a weird, monotonous croon, without articulate word divisions.
Gradually his dance becomes clearly one of
a narrative in pantomime, his croon
is an incantation, a charm to allay the fierceness of
some implacable deity demanding sacrifice. He flees, he is pursued
by devils, he hides, he flees again. Ever
wilder and wilder becomes his
flight, nearer and nearer draws the pursuing evil, more and more the
spirit of terror gains possession of him. His croon, rising to intensity,
is punctuated by shrill cries. Jones has become
completely hypnotized. His voice joins in the incantation, in
the cries, he beats time with his hands and sways his body to and
fro from the waist. 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 evil demand sacrifice.
They must be appeased. The witch-doctor
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 meaning of this. It is he who must offer himself for
sacrifice. He beats his forehead abjectly to the ground, moaning hysterically)
Mercy, Oh Lawd! Mercy! Mercy on dis
(The witch-doctor springs to the
river bank. He stretches out
his arms and calls to some God within its depths. Then
he starts backward slowly, his arms remaining out. A huge head of
a crocodile appears over the bank and its eves, glittering greenly,
fasten upon Jones. He stares into them
fascinatedly. The witch-doctor
prances up to him, touches him with
his wand, motions with hideous command toward the waiting monster.
Jones squirms on his belly nearer and nearer, moaning
|Mercy, Lawd! Mercy!|
(The crocodile heaves more of his
enormous hulk onto the land. Jones
squirms toward him. The witch-doctor’s voice
shrills out in furious exultation, the tom-tom beats madly. Jones
cries out in a fierce, exhausted spasm of anguished pleading)
Lawd, save me! Lawd Jesus, hear my
(Immediately, in answer to his
prayer, comes the thought of the one
bullet left him. He snatches at his hip, shouting defiantly)
De silver bullet! You don’t git me
(He fires at
a glance, turns away in disgust) That’s
where ‘e went in right enough. Much good it’ll do yer. ‘E’s miles
orf by this an’ safe to the Coast damn ‘S ‘ide! I tole yer yer’d lose
‘im, didn’t I?—wastin’ the ‘ole bloomin’ night beatin’ yer bloody
drum and castin’ yer silly spells! Gawd blimey, wot
We cotch him. You see. (He makes
a motion to his soldiers who squat down on their haunches in
Well, ain’t yer goin ‘in an’ ‘unt ‘im
in the woods? What the ‘ell’s the good of waitin’?
down himself) We cotch him.
away from him contemptuously) Aw! Garn!
‘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 twigs comes from the forest. The soldiers
jump to their feet, cocking their rifles
alertly. Lem remains sitting with an
imperturbable expression, but listening intently. The
sound from the woods is repeated. Lem makes a quick signal
with his hand. His followers creep quickly but noiselessly into
the forest, scattering so that each enters at a different spot.)
the silence that follows—a contemptuous whisper)
You ain’t thinkin’ that would be ‘im, I ‘ope?
We cotch him.
fat ‘eads! (then after a second’s thought—wonderingly)
Still an’ all, it ‘might ‘appen. If ‘e lost
‘is bloody way in these stinkin’
woods ‘e’d likely turn in a circle without
‘is knowin’ it. They all does.
Sssh! (The reports of several
rifles sound from the forest, followed a
second later by savage, exultant yells. The beating of the tom-tom
abruptly ceases. Lem looks up at the white
man with a grin of
satisfaction.) We cotch him. Him dead.
a snarl) ‘Ow d’yer know it’s ‘im an’ ‘ow
d’yer know ‘e’s dead?
dey got ‘urn silver bullets. Dey kill him shore.
They got silver bullets?
bullet no kill him. He got urn strong charm. I cook
urn money, make urn silver bullet, make urn strong charm, too.
breaking upon him) 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?
stating a fact) Yes. Him got strong charm. Lead
his thigh and guffawing) Haw-haw! If
yer don’t beat all ‘ell! (then recovering himself—scornfully)
I’ll bet yer it ain’t ‘im they shot at all,
yer bleedin’ looney!
Dey come bring him now. (The
soldiers come out of the forest, carrying Jones’ limp
body. There is a little reddish purple hole under his left breast.
He is dead. They carry him to Lem who
examines his body with great
* * * * *
The Hairy Ape — first half (scenes I through IV)
by Eugene O’Neill, 1922
ROBERT SMITH, “YANK“
A SECRETARY OF AN ORGANIZATION
Stokers, Ladies, Gentlemen, etc.
SCENE I: The firemen’s forecastle of an ocean liner — an hour after sailing from New York.
SCENE II: Section of promenade deck, two days out — morning.
SCENE III: The stokehole. A few minutes later.
SCENE IV: Same as Scene I. Half an hour later.
SCENE V: 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—The 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.
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—)
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:)
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.)
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:)
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.)
YANK—Standing 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.
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
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.)
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—Two 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.
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
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.
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.)
SECOND ENGINEER—Miss Douglas?
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.
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.
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
MILDRED—Go on. I’ll follow you. (He goes. MILDRED turns a mocking smile on her aunt.) An oaf—but a handsome, virile oaf.
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—Thestokehole. 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!
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—The 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.
|YANK—(Sullenly.) Forgot nothin’! To hell wit washin’.|
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.
YANK—sits down again in the same attitude of “The Thinker.”)
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
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 PADDY—slowly.) 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.)
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!
* * * * *
The Hairy Ape — second half (scenes V through VIII)
by Eugene O’Neill, 1922
ROBERT SMITH, “YANK“
A SECRETARY OF AN ORGANIZATION
Stokers, Ladies, Gentlemen, etc.
SCENE I: The firemen’s forecastle of an ocean liner — an hour after sailing from New York.
SCENE II: Section of promenade deck, two days out — morning.
SCENE III: The stokehole. A few minutes later.
SCENE IV: Same as Scene I. Half an hour later.
SCENE V: 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.
Up the side street YANK and LONG come swaggering. LONG is dressed in shore clothes, wears a black Windsor tie, cloth cap. YANK is
LONG—(Indicating it all with an oratorical gesture.) Well, ’ere we are. Fif’
YANK—(Dully.) I don’t see no grass, yuh boob. (Staring at the sidewalk.) Clean, ain’t it? Yuh could eat a fried egg offen it. The white wings got some job sweepin’ dis up. (Looking up and down the avenue—surlily.) Where’s all de white-collar stiffs yuh said was here—and de skoits—her kind?
LONG—In church, blarst ’em! Arskin’ Jesus to give ’em more money.
YANK—Choich, huh? I useter go to choich onct—sure—when I was a kid. Me old man and woman, dey made me. Dey never went
LONG—Did yer old man follow the sea?
LONG—Not bad? Well, we pays for it wiv our bloody sweat, if yer wants to know!
YANK—(With sudden angry disgust.)
LONG—Wait and yer’ll
YANK—I don’t wait for
LONG—Yer wants to get back at her, don’t
LONG—(As disgusted as he dares to be.)
YANK—(Spitting on his hands—belligerently.) De more de merrier when I gits started. Bring on de gang!
LONG—Yer’ll see ’em in arf a mo’, when that church lets out. (He turns and sees the window display in the two stores for the first time.) Blimey! Look at that, will
YANK—Aw, cut de sob stuff! T’ hell wit de starvin’ family! Yuh’ll be passin’ de hat to me next. (With naïve admiration.) Say, dem tings is pretty, huh? Bet yuh dey’d hock for a piece of change aw right. (Then turning away, bored.) But, aw hell, what good are
LONG—(Who has moved to the furriers—indignantly.)
YANK—(Who has been staring at something inside—with queer excitement.) Take a slant at
LONG—(Bitterly.) It’s straight
YANK—(Clenching his fists, his face growing pale with rage as if the skin in the window were a personal insult.) Trowin’ it up in my face! Christ! I’ll fix her!
LONG—(Excitedly.) Church is out. ’Ere they come, the bleedin’ swine. (After a glance at YANK’S lowering face—uneasily.)
YANK—(With abysmal contempt.) Votes, hell! Votes is a joke, see. Votes for women! Let dem do it!
LONG—(Still more uneasily.) Calm, now. Treat ’em wiv the proper contempt. Observe the bleedin’ parasites but ’old yer ’orses.
YANK—(Angrily.) Git away from me! Yuh’re yellow, dat’s what. Force, dat’s me! De punch, dat’s me every time, see! (The
YANK—(Glaring from one to the other of them—with an insulting snort of scorn.) Huh! Huh! (Without seeming to see him, they make wide detours to avoid the spot where he stands in the middle of the sidewalk.)
LONG—(Frightenedly.) Keep yer bloomin’ mouth shut, I tells
YANK—(Viciously.) G’wan! Tell it to Sweeney! (He swaggers away and deliberately lurches into a top-hatted gentleman, then glares at him pugnaciously.) Say, who d’yuh tink yuh’re bumpin’? Tink yuh own de
GENTLEMAN—(Coldly and affectedly.) I beg your pardon. (He has not looked at YANK and passes on without a glance, leaving him bewildered.)
LONG—(Rushing up and grabbing YANK’S arm.) ’Ere! Come away! This wasn’t what I meant. Yer’ll ’ave the bloody coppers down on us.
YANK—(Savagely—giving him a push that sends him sprawling.) G’wan!
LONG—(Picks himself up—hysterically.) I’ll pop orf then. This ain’t what I meant. And whatever ’appens, yer can’t blame me. (He slinks off left.)
YANK—T’ hell wit
THE WOMAN—(Ecstatically, with a gasp of delight.) Monkey fur! (The whole crowd of men and women chorus after her in the same tone of affected delight.) Monkey fur!
YANK—(With a jerk of his head back on his shoulders, as if he had received a punch full in the face—raging.) I see
YANK—(Seeing a fight—with a roar of joy as he springs to his feet.) At last! Bus, huh? I’ll bust
GENTLEMAN—I beg your pardon. (Then irritably.) You have made me lose my bus. (He claps his hands and begins to scream:) Officer! Officer! (Many police whistles shrill out on the instant and a whole platoon of policemen rush in on YANK from
YANK—(Suddenly starting as if awakening from a dream, reaches out and shakes the bars—aloud to himself, wonderingly.) Steel. Dis is de Zoo, huh? (A burst of hard, barking laughter comes from the unseen occupants of the cells, runs back down the tier, and abruptly ceases.)
YANK—(Dully.) I musta been dreamin’. I tought I was in a cage at de Zoo—but de apes don’t talk, do
YANK—(Dully.) I was a fireman—stokin’ on de liners. (Then with sudden rage, rattling his cell bars.) I’m a hairy ape, get me? And I’ll bust youse all in de jaw if yuh don’t lay off kiddin’ me.
YANK—(Defiantly.) Sure ting! Ain’t dat what youse all are—apes? (A silence. Then a furious rattling of bars from down the corridor.)
A VOICE—(Thick with rage.) I’ll show yuh who’s a ape, yuh bum!
YANK—(Scornfully.) De guard? Yuh mean de keeper, don’t
YANK—(Disgustedly.) Aw, yuh’re all wrong! Sure dere was a skoit in it—but not what youse mean, not dat old tripe. Dis was a new kind of
YANK—(Unheeding—groping in his thoughts.)
VOICE—Hey, feller, take a tip from me. If you want to get back at that dame, you better join the
YANK—Wobblies? What de hell’s
VOICE—Ain’t you ever heard of the I. W. W.?
YANK—Naw. What is it?
VOICE—A gang of blokes—a tough gang. I been readin’ about ’em to-day in the paper. The guard give me the Sunday Times. There’s a long spiel about ’em. It’s from a speech made in the Senate by a guy named Senator Queen. (He is in the cell next to YANK’S. There is a rustling of paper.) Wait’ll I see if I got light enough and I’ll read you. Listen. (He reads:)
VOICE—(Disgustedly.) Aw hell! Tell him to salt de tail of dat eagle!
YANK—(With vengeful satisfaction.) Wreckers, dat’s de right dope! Dat belongs! Me for
VOICE—Ssshh! (Reading.) “This fiendish organization is a foul ulcer on the fair body of our Democracy—”
VOICE—Democracy, hell! Give him the
ALL—(With abysmal scorn.) Aw, hell!
VOICE—Give that Queen Senator guy the bark! All togedder now—one—two—tree— (A terrific chorus of barking and yapping.)
GUARD—(From a distance.) Quiet there, youse—or I’ll git the hose. (The noise subsides.)
YANK—(With growling rage.) I’d like to catch dat senator guy alone for a second. I’d loin him some
VOICE—Ssshh! Here’s where he gits down to cases on the
VOICE—(To YANK.) Hey, you guy. There’s your ape stuff again.
YANK—(With a growl of fury.) I got him. So dey blow up tings, do
VOICE—Sure. Give it to him. On’y keep it to yourself, see. We don’t wanter listen to no more of that slop.
VOICE—Here you are. Hide it under your mattress.
YANK—(Reaching out.) Tanks. I can’t read much but I kin manage. (He
GUARD—(Angrily.) I’ll loin youse bums to wake me up! (Sees YANK.) Hello, it’s you, huh? Got the D. Ts., hey? Well, I’ll cure ’em. I’ll drown your snakes for
YANK—(Glaring at him.) Or a hairy ape, yuh big yellow bum! Look out! Here I come! (He grabs another bar.)
GUARD—(Scared now—yelling off left.) Toin de hoose on, Ben!—full pressure! And call de others—and a strait jacket! (The curtain is falling. As it hides YANK from view, there is a splattering smash as the stream of water hits the steel of YANK’S cell.)
SECRETARY—(Turning around on his stool.) What the devil is that—someone knocking? (Shouts:) Come in, why don’t you? (All the men in the room look up. YANK opens
YANK—(Blurts out.) Hello.
YANK—(More easily.) I tought I’d bumped into de wrong dump.
SECRETARY—(Scrutinizing him carefully.) Maybe you have. Are you a member?
YANK—Naw, not yet. Dat’s what I come for—to join.
SECRETARY—That’s easy. What’s your job—longshore?
YANK—Naw. Fireman—stoker on de liners.
SECRETARY—(With satisfaction.) Welcome to our city. Glad to know you people are waking up at last. We haven’t got many members in your line.
YANK—Naw. Dey’re all dead to de
SECRETARY—Well, you can help to wake ’em. What’s your name? I’ll make out your card.
YANK—(Confused.) Name? Lemme
SECRETARY—(Sharply.) Don’t you know your own name?
YANK—Sure; but I been just Yank for so long—Bob, dat’s it—Bob Smith.
SECRETARY—(Writing.) Robert Smith. (Fills out the rest of card.) Here you are. Cost you half a dollar.
YANK—Is dat all—four bits? Dat’s easy. (Gives the Secretary the money.)
SECRETARY—(Throwing it in drawer.)
YANK—Sure. (But he still stands, embarrassed and uneasy.)
SECRETARY—(Looking at him—curiously.) What did you knock for? Think we had a coon in uniform to open doors?
YANK—Naw. I tought it was locked—and dat yuh’d wanter give me the once-over trou a peep-hole or somep’n to see if I was right.
SECRETARY—(Alert and suspicious but with an easy laugh.) Think we were running a crap game? That door is never locked. What put that in your nut?
YANK—(With a knowing grin, convinced that this is all camouflage, a part of the secrecy.) Dis burg is full of bulls, ain’t it?
SECRETARY—(Sharply.) What have the cops got to do with us? We’re breaking no laws.
YANK—(With a knowing wink.) Sure. Youse wouldn’t for
SECRETARY—You seem to be wise to a lot of stuff none of us knows about.
YANK—(With another wink.) Aw, dat’s aw right, see. (Then made a bit resentful by the suspicious glances from all sides.)
SECRETARY—(Breezily, feeling him out.)
YANK—Aw, I know all about it.
SECRETARY—(Sarcastically.) Well, give us some of your valuable information.
YANK—(Cunningly.) I know enough not to speak outa my
SECRETARY—Who said you didn’t?
YANK—After I’m ’nitiated, I’ll show
SECRETARY—(Astounded.) Initiated? There’s no initiation.
YANK—(Disappointed.) Ain’t there no password—no grip nor nothin’?
SECRETARY—What’d you think this is—the Elks—or the Black Hand?
YANK—De Elks, hell! De Black Hand, dey’re a lot of yellow backstickin’
SECRETARY—You said it! That’s why we stand on our two feet in the open. We got no secrets.
YANK—(Surprised but admiringly.) Yuh mean to say yuh always run wide open—like
YANK—Den yuh sure got your noive wit
SECRETARY—(Sharply.) Just what was it made you want to join us? Come out with that straight.
YANK—Yuh call me? Well, I got
SECRETARY—(With pretended carelessness.) You mean change the unequal conditions of society by legitimate direct action—or with dynamite?
SECRETARY—So—that’s your idea, eh? And did you have any special job in that line you wanted to propose to us. (He makes a sign to the men, who get up cautiously one by one and group behind YANK.)
YANK—(Boldly.) Sure, I’ll come out wit it. I’ll show youse I’m one of de gang. Dere’s dat millionaire guy, Douglas—
SECRETARY—President of the Steel Trust, you mean? Do you want to assassinate him?
SECRETARY—(Stepping away from YANK.) Very interesting. (He gives a signal. The men, huskies all, throw themselves on YANK and
MAN—No gat, no knife. Shall we give him what’s what and put the boots to him?
SECRETARY—No. He isn’t worth the trouble we’d get into. He’s too stupid. (He comes closer and laughs mockingly in YANK’S face.)
YANK—(Aroused by the word to fierce but futile struggles.) What’s
SECRETARY—Throw him out, boys. (In spite of his struggles, this is done with gusto and éclat. Propelled by several parting kicks, YANK lands
A POLICEMAN—(Who has come up the street in time to hear this last—with grim humor.) You’ll get off at the station, you boob, if you don’t get up out of that and keep movin’.
YANK—(Looking up at him—with a hard, bitter laugh.) Sure! Lock me up! Put me in a cage! Dat’s de on’y answer yuh know. G’wan, lock me up!
POLICEMAN—What you been doin’?
YANK—Enuf to gimme life for! I was born, see? Sure, dat’s de charge. Write it in de blotter. I was born, get me!
POLICEMAN—(Jocosely.) God pity your old woman! (Then matter-of-fact.)
YANK—(In a vague mocking tone.) Say, where do I go from here?
POLICEMAN—(Giving him a push—with a grin, indifferently.) Go to hell.
YANK—(With a hard, bitter laugh.) Welcome to your city, huh? Hail, hail, de gang’s all here! (At the sound of his voice the chattering dies away into an attentive silence. YANK walks
* * * * *
by John Milton
Samson made Captive, Blind, and now in the Prison at Gaza, there to labour as in a common work-house, on a Festival day, in the general cessation from labour, comes forth into the open Air, to a place nigh, somewhat retir’d there to sit a while and bemoan his condition. Where he happens at length to be visited by certain friends and equals of his tribe, which make the Chorus, who seek to comfort him what they can; then by his old Father Manoa, who endeavours the like, and withal tells him his purpose to procure his liberty by ransom; lastly, that this Feast was proclaim’d by the Philistins as a day of Thanksgiving for thir deliverance from the hands of Samson, which yet more troubles him. Manoa then departs to prosecute his endeavour with the Philistian Lords for Samson’s redemption; who in the mean while is visited by other persons; and lastly by a publick Officer to require his coming to the Feast before the Lords and People, to play or shew his strength in their presence; he at first refuses, dismissing the publick Officer with absolute denyal to come; at length perswaded inwardly that this was from God, he yields to go along with him, who came now the second time with great threatnings to fetch him; the Chorus yet remaining on the place, Manoa returns full of joyful hope, to procure e’re long his Sons deliverance: in the midst of which discourse an Ebrew comes in haste confusedly at first; and afterward more distinctly relating the Catastrophe, what Samson had done to the Philistins, and by accident to himself; wherewith the Tragedy ends.
Manoa the Father of Samson
Dalila his Wife
Harapha of Gath
Chorus of Danites
The Scene before the Prison in Gaza
Sam. A Little onward lend thy guiding hand
To these dark steps, a little further on;
For yonder bank hath choice of Sun or shade,
There I am wont to sit, when any chance
Relieves me from my task of servile toyl, [ 5 ]
Daily in the common Prison else enjoyn’d me,
Where I a Prisoner chain’d, scarce freely draw
The air imprison’d also, close and damp,
Unwholsom draught: but here I feel amends,
The breath of Heav’n fresh-blowing, pure and sweet, [ 10 ]
With day-spring born; here leave me to respire.
This day a solemn Feast the people hold
To Dagon thir Sea-Idol, and forbid
Laborious works, unwillingly this rest
Thir Superstition yields me; hence with leave [ 15 ]
Retiring from the popular noise, I seek
This unfrequented place to find some ease,
Ease to the body some, none to the mind
From restless thoughts, that like a deadly swarm
Of Hornets arm’d, no sooner found alone, [ 20 ]
But rush upon me thronging, and present
Times past, what once I was, and what am now.
O wherefore was my birth from Heaven foretold
Twice by an Angel, who at last in sight
Of both my Parents all in flames ascended [ 25 ]
From off the Altar, where an Off’ring burn’d,
As in a fiery column charioting
His Godlike presence, and from some great act
Or benefit reveal’d to Abraham’s race?
Why was my breeding order’d and prescrib’d [ 30 ]
As of a person separate to God,
Design’d for great exploits; if I must dye
Betray’d, Captiv’d, and both my Eyes put out,
Made of my Enemies the scorn and gaze;
To grind in Brazen Fetters under task [ 35 ]
With this Heav’n-gifted strength? O glorious strength
Put to the labour of a Beast, debas’t
Lower then bondslave! Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver;
Ask for this great Deliverer now, and find him [ 40 ]
Eyeless in Gaza at the Mill with slaves,
Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke;
Yet stay, let me not rashly call in doubt
Divine Prediction; what if all foretold
Had been fulfill’d but through mine own default, [ 45 ]
Whom have I to complain of but my self?
Who this high gift of strength committed to me,
In what part lodg’d, how easily bereft me,
Under the Seal of silence could not keep,
But weakly to a woman must reveal it, [ 50 ]
O’recome with importunity and tears.
O impotence of mind, in body strong!
But what is strength without a double share
Of wisdom, vast, unwieldy, burdensom,
Proudly secure, yet liable to fall [ 55 ]
By weakest subtleties, not made to rule,
But to subserve where wisdom bears command.
God, when he gave me strength, to shew withal
How slight the gift was, hung it in my Hair.
But peace, I must not quarrel with the will [ 60 ]
Of highest dispensation, which herein
Happ’ly had ends above my reach to know:
Suffices that to me strength is my bane,
And proves the sourse of all my miseries;
So many, and so huge, that each apart [ 65 ]
Would ask a life to wail, but chief of all,
O loss of sight, of thee I most complain!
Blind among enemies, O worse then chains,
Dungeon, or beggery, or decrepit age!
Light the prime work of God to me is extinct, [ 70 ]
And all her various objects of delight
Annull’d, which might in part my grief have eas’d,
Inferiour to the vilest now become
Of man or worm; the vilest here excel me,
They creep, yet see, I dark in light expos’d [ 75 ]
To daily fraud, contempt, abuse and wrong,
Within doors, or without, still as a fool,
In power of others, never in my own;
Scarce half I seem to live, dead more then half.
O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon, [ 80 ]
Irrecoverably dark, total Eclipse
Without all hope of day!
O first created Beam, and thou great Word,
Let there be light, and light was over all;
Why am I thus bereav’d thy prime decree? [ 85 ]
The Sun to me is dark
And silent as the Moon,
When she deserts the night
Hid in her vacant interlunar cave.
Since light so necessary is to life, [ 90 ]
And almost life itself, if it be true
That light is in the Soul,
She all in every part; why was the sight
To such a tender ball as th’ eye confin’d?
So obvious and so easie to be quench’t, [ 95 ]
And not as feeling through all parts diffus’d,
That she might look at will through every pore?
Then had I not been thus exil’d from light;
As in the land of darkness yet in light,
To live a life half dead, a living death, [ 100 ]
And buried; but O yet more miserable!
My self, my Sepulcher, a moving Grave,
Buried, yet not exempt
By priviledge of death and burial
From worst of other evils, pains and wrongs, [ 105 ]
But made hereby obnoxious more
To all the miseries of life,
Life in captivity
Among inhuman foes.
But who are these? for with joint pace I hear [ 110 ]
The tread of many feet stearing this way;
Perhaps my enemies who come to stare
At my affliction, and perhaps to insult,
Thir daily practice to afflict me more.
Chor. This, this is he; softly a while, [ 115 ]
Let us not break in upon him;
O change beyond report, thought, or belief!
See how he lies at random, carelessly diffus’d,
With languish’t head unpropt,
As one past hope, abandon’d, [ 120 ]
And by himself given over;
In slavish habit, ill-fitted weeds
O’re worn and soil’d;
Or do my eyes misrepresent? Can this be hee,
That Heroic, that Renown’d, [ 125 ]
Irresistible Samson? whom unarm’d
No strength of man, or fiercest wild beast could withstand;
Who tore the Lion, as the Lion tears the Kid,
Ran on embattelld Armies clad in Iron,
And weaponless himself, [ 130 ]
Made Arms ridiculous, useless the forgery
Of brazen shield and spear, the hammer’d Cuirass,
Chalybean temper’d steel, and frock of mail
But safest he who stood aloof, [ 135 ]
When insupportably his foot advanc’t,
In scorn of thir proud arms and warlike tools,
Spurn’d them to death by Troops. The bold Ascalonite
Fled from his Lion ramp, old Warriors turn’d
Thir plated backs under his heel; [ 140 ]
Or grovling soild thir crested helmets in the dust.
Then with what trivial weapon came to hand,
The Jaw of a dead Ass, his sword of bone,
A thousand fore-skins fell, the flower of Palestin
In Ramath-lechi famous to this day: [ 145 ]
Then by main force pull’d up, and on his shoulders bore
The Gates of Azza, Post, and massie Bar
Up to the Hill by Hebron, seat of Giants old,
No journey of a Sabbath day, and loaded so;
Like whom the Gentiles feign to bear up Heav’n. [ 150 ]
Which shall I first bewail,
Thy Bondage or lost Sight,
Prison within Prison
Thou art become (O worst imprisonment!) [ 155 ]
The Dungeon of thy self; thy Soul
(Which Men enjoying sight oft without cause complain)
Imprison’d now indeed,
In real darkness of the body dwells,
Shut up from outward light [ 160 ]
To incorporate with gloomy night;
For inward light alas
Puts forth no visual beam.
O mirror of our fickle state,
Since man on earth unparallel’d! [ 165 ]
The rarer thy example stands,
By how much from the top of wondrous glory,
Strongest of mortal men,
To lowest pitch of abject fortune thou art fall’n.
For him I reckon not in high estate [ 170 ]
Whom long descent of birth
Or the sphear of fortune raises;
But thee whose strength, while vertue was her mate
Might have subdu’d the Earth,
Universally crown’d with highest praises. [ 175 ]
Sam. I hear the sound of words, thir sense the air
Dissolves unjointed e’re it reach my ear.
Chor. Hee speaks, let us draw nigh. Matchless in might,
The glory late of Israel, now the grief;
We come thy friends and neighbours not unknown [ 180 ]
From Eshtaol and Zora’s fruitful Vale
To visit or bewail thee, or if better,
Counsel or Consolation we may bring,
Salve to thy Sores, apt words have power to swage
The tumors of a troubl’d mind, [ 185 ]
And are as Balm to fester’d wounds.
Sam. Your coming, Friends, revives me, for I learn
Now of my own experience, not by talk,
How counterfeit a coin they are who friends
Bear in their Superscription (of the most [ 190 ]
I would be understood) in prosperous days
They swarm, but in adverse withdraw their head
Not to be found, though sought. Yee see, O friends,
How many evils have enclos’d me round;
Yet that which was the worst now least afflicts me, [ 195 ]
Blindness, for had I sight, confus’d with shame,
How could I once look up, or heave the head,
Who like a foolish Pilot have shipwrack’t,
My Vessel trusted to me from above,
Gloriously rigg’d; and for a word, a tear, [ 200 ]
Fool, have divulg’d the secret gift of God
To a deceitful Woman: tell me Friends,
Am I not sung and proverbd for a Fool
In every street, do they not say, how well
Are come upon him his deserts? yet why? [ 205 ]
Immeasurable strength they might behold
In me, of wisdom nothing more then mean;
This with the other should, at least, have paird,
These two proportion’d ill drove me transverse.
Chor. Tax not divine disposal, wisest Men [ 210 ]
Have err’d, and by bad Women been deceiv’d;
And shall again, pretend they ne’re so wise.
Deject not so overmuch thy self,
Who hast of sorrow thy full load besides;
Yet truth to say, I oft have heard men wonder [ 215 ]
Why thou shouldst wed Philistian women rather
Then of thine own Tribe fairer, or as fair,
At least of thy own Nation, and as noble.
Sam. The first I saw at Timna, and she pleas’d
Mee, not my Parents, that I sought to wed, [ 220 ]
The daughter of an Infidel: they knew not
That what I motion’d was of God; I knew
From intimate impulse, and therefore urg’d
The Marriage on; that by occasion hence
I might begin Israel’s Deliverance, [ 225 ]
The work to which I was divinely call’d;
She proving false, the next I took to Wife
(O that I never had! fond wish too late.)
Was in the Vale of Sorec, Dalila,
That specious Monster, my accomplisht snare. [ 230 ]
I thought it lawful from my former act,
And the same end; still watching to oppress
Israel’s oppressours: of what now I suffer
She was not the prime cause, but I my self,
Who vanquisht with a peal of words (O weakness!) [ 235 ]
Gave up my fort of silence to a Woman.
Chor. In seeking just occasion to provoke
The Philistine, thy Countries Enemy,
Thou never wast remiss, I bear thee witness:
Yet Israel still serves with all his Sons. [ 240 ]
Sam. That fault I take not on me, but transfer
On Israel’s Governours, and Heads of Tribes,
Who seeing those great acts which God had done
Singly by me against their Conquerours
Acknowledg’d not, or not at all consider’d [ 245 ]
Deliverance offer’d: I on th’ other side
Us’d no ambition to commend my deeds,
The deeds themselves, though mute, spoke loud the dooer;
But they persisted deaf, and would not seem
To count them things worth notice, till at length [ 250 ]
Thir Lords the Philistines with gather’d powers
Enter’d Judea seeking mee, who then
Safe to the rock of Etham was retir’d,
Not flying, but fore-casting in what place
To set upon them, what advantag’d best; [ 255 ]
Mean while the men of Judah to prevent
The harrass of thir Land, beset me round;
I willingly on some conditions came
Into their hands, and they as gladly yield me
To the uncircumcis’d a welcom prey, [ 260 ]
Bound with two cords; but cords to me were threds
Toucht with the flame: on thir whole Host I flew
Unarm’d, and with a trivial weapon fell’d
Thir choicest youth; they only liv’d who fled.
Had Judah that day join’d, or one whole Tribe, [ 265 ]
They had by this possess’d the Towers of Gath,
And lorded over them whom now they serve;
But what more oft in Nations grown corrupt,
And by thir vices brought to servitude,
Then to love Bondage more then Liberty, [ 270 ]
Bondage with ease then strenuous liberty;
And to despise, or envy, or suspect
Whom God hath of his special Favour rais’d
As thir Deliverer; if he aught begin,
How frequent to desert him, and at last [ 275 ]
To heap ingratitude on worthiest deeds?
Chor. Thy words to my remembrance bring
How Succoth and the Fort of Penuel
Thir great Deliverer contemn’d,
The matchless Gideon in pursuit [ 280 ]
Of Madian and her vanquisht Kings:
And how ingrateful Ephraim
Had dealt with Jephtha, who by argument,
Not worse then by his shield and spear
Defended Israel from the Ammonite, [ 285 ]
Had not his prowess quell’d thir pride
In that sore battel when so many dy’d
Without Reprieve adjudg’d to death,
For want of well pronouncing Shibboleth.
Sam. Of such examples add mee to the roule, [ 290 ]
Mee easily indeed mine may neglect,
But Gods propos’d deliverance not so.
Chor. Just are the ways of God,
And justifiable to Men;
Unless there be who think not God at all, [ 295 ]
If any be, they walk obscure;
For of such Doctrine never was there School,
But the heart of the Fool,
And no man therein Doctor but himself.
Yet more there be who doubt his ways not just, [ 300 ]
As to his own edicts, found contradicting,
Then give the rains to wandring thought,
Regardless of his glories diminution;
Till by thir own perplexities involv’d
They ravel more, still less resolv’d, [ 305 ]
But never find self-satisfying solution.
As if they would confine th’ interminable,
And tie him to his own prescript,
Who made our Laws to bind us, not himself,
And hath full right to exempt [ 310 ]
Whom so it pleases him by choice
From National obstriction, without taint
Of sin, or legal debt;
For with his own Laws he can best dispence.
He would not else who never wanted means, [ 315 ]
Nor in respect of the enemy just cause
To set his people free,
Have prompted this Heroic Nazarite,
Against his vow of strictest purity,
To seek in marriage that fallacious Bride, [ 320 ]
Down Reason then, at least vain reasonings down,
Though Reason here aver
That moral verdit quits her of unclean:
Unchaste was subsequent, her stain not his. [ 325 ]
But see here comes thy reverend Sire
With careful step, Locks white as doune,
Old Manoa: advise
Forthwith how thou oughtst to receive him.
Sam. Ay me, another inward grief awak’d, [ 330 ]
With mention of that name renews th’ assault.
Man. Brethren and men of Dan, for such ye seem,
Though in this uncouth place; if old respect,
As I suppose, towards your once gloried friend,
My Son now Captive, hither hath inform’d [ 335 ]
Your younger feet, while mine cast back with age
Came lagging after; say if he be here.
Chor. As signal now in low dejected state,
As earst in highest, behold him where he lies.
Man. O miserable change! is this the man, [ 340 ]
That invincible Samson, far renown’d,
The dread of Israel’s foes, who with a strength
Equivalent to Angels walk’d thir streets,
None offering fight; who single combatant
Duell’d thir Armies rank’t in proud array, [ 345 ]
Himself an Army, now unequal match
To save himself against a coward arm’d
At one spears length. O ever failing trust
In mortal strength! and oh what not in man
Deceivable and vain! Nay what thing good [ 350 ]
Pray’d for, but often proves our woe, our bane?
I pray’d for Children, and thought barrenness
In wedlock a reproach; I gain’d a Son,
And such a Son as all Men hail’d me happy;
Who would be now a Father in my stead? [ 355 ]
O wherefore did God grant me my request,
And as a blessing with such pomp adorn’d?
Why are his gifts desirable, to tempt
Our earnest Prayers, then giv’n with solemn hand
As Graces, draw a Scorpions tail behind? [ 360 ]
For this did the Angel twice descend? for this
Ordain’d thy nurture holy, as of a Plant;
Select, and Sacred, Glorious for a while,
The miracle of men: then in an hour
Ensnar’d, assaulted, overcome, led bound, [ 365 ]
Thy Foes derision, Captive, Poor, and Blind
Into a Dungeon thrust, to work with Slaves?
Alas methinks whom God hath chosen once
To worthiest deeds, if he through frailty err,
He should not so o’rewhelm, and as a thrall [ 370 ]
Subject him to so foul indignities,
Be it but for honours sake of former deeds.
Sam. Appoint not heavenly disposition, Father,
Nothing of all these evils hath befall’n me
But justly; I my self have brought them on, [ 375 ]
Sole Author I, sole cause: if aught seem vile,
As vile hath been my folly, who have profan’d
The mystery of God givn me under pledge
Of vow, and have betray’d it to a woman,
A Canaanite, my faithless enemy. [ 380 ]
This well I knew, nor was at all surpris’d,
But warn’d by oft experience: did not she
Of Timna first betray me, and reveal
The secret wrested from me in her highth
Of Nuptial Love profest, carrying it strait [ 385 ]
To them who had corrupted her, my Spies,
And Rivals? In this other was there found
More Faith? who also in her prime of love,
Spousal embraces, vitiated with Gold,
Though offer’d only, by the sent conceiv’d [ 390 ]
Her spurious first-born; Treason against me?
Thrice she assay’d with flattering prayers and sighs,
And amorous reproaches to win from me
My capital secret, in what part my strength
Lay stor’d, in what part summ’d, that she might know: [ 395 ]
Thrice I deluded her, and turn’d to sport
Her importunity, each time perceiving
How openly, and with what impudence
She purpos’d to betray me, and (which was worse
Then undissembl’d hate) with what contempt [ 400 ]
She sought to make me Traytor to my self;
Yet the fourth time, when mustring all her wiles,
With blandisht parlies, feminine assaults,
Tongue-batteries, she surceas’d not day nor night
To storm me over-watch’t, and wearied out. [ 405 ]
At times when men seek most repose and rest,
I yielded, and unlock’d her all my heart,
Who with a grain of manhood well resolv’d
Might easily have shook off all her snares:
But foul effeminacy held me yok’t [ 410 ]
Her Bond-slave; O indignity, O blot
To Honour and Religion! servil mind
Rewarded well with servil punishment!
The base degree to which I now am fall’n,
These rags, this grinding, is not yet so base [ 415 ]
As was my former servitude, ignoble,
Unmanly, ignominious, infamous,
True slavery, and that blindness worse then this,
That saw not how degeneratly I serv’d.
Man. I cannot praise thy Marriage choises, Son, [ 420 ]
Rather approv’d them not; but thou didst plead
Divine impulsion prompting how thou might’st
Find some occasion to infest our Foes.
I state not that; this I am sure; our Foes
Found soon occasion thereby to make thee [ 425 ]
Thir Captive, and thir triumph; thou the sooner
Temptation found’st, or over-potent charms
To violate the sacred trust of silence
Deposited within thee; which to have kept
Tacit, was in thy power; true; and thou bear’st [ 430 ]
Enough, and more the burden of that fault;
Bitterly hast thou paid, and still art paying
That rigid score. A worse thing yet remains,
This day the Philistines a popular Feast
Here celebrate in Gaza; and proclaim [ 435 ]
Great Pomp, and Sacrifice, and Praises loud
To Dagon, as their God who hath deliver’d
Thee Samson bound and blind into thir hands,
Them out of thine, who slew’st them many a slain.
So Dagon shall be magnifi’d, and God, [ 440 ]
Besides whom is no God, compar’d with Idols,
Disglorifi’d, blasphem’d, and had in scorn
By th’ Idolatrous rout amidst thir wine;
Which to have come to pass by means of thee,
Samson, of all thy sufferings think the heaviest, [ 445 ]
Of all reproach the most with shame that ever
Could have befall’n thee and thy Fathers house.
Sam. Father, I do acknowledge and confess
That I this honour, I this pomp have brought
To Dagon, and advanc’d his praises high [ 450 ]
Among the Heathen round; to God have brought
Dishonour, obloquie, and op’t the mouths
Of Idolists, and Atheists; have brought scandal
To Israel, diffidence of God, and doubt
In feeble hearts, propense anough before [ 455 ]
To waver, or fall off and join with Idols;
Which is my chief affliction, shame and sorrow,
The anguish of my Soul, that suffers not
Mine eie to harbour sleep, or thoughts to rest.
This only hope relieves me, that the strife [ 460 ]
With me hath end; all the contest is now
Twixt God and Dagon; Dagon hath presum’d,
Me overthrown, to enter lists with God,
His Deity comparing and preferring
Before the God of Abraham. He, be sure, [ 465 ]
Will not connive, or linger, thus provok’d,
But will arise and his great name assert:
Dagon must stoop, and shall e’re long receive
Such a discomfit, as shall quite despoil him
Of all these boasted Trophies won on me, [ 470 ]
And with confusion blank his Worshippers.
Man. With cause this hope relieves thee, and these words
I as a Prophecy receive: for God,
Nothing more certain, will not long defer
To vindicate the glory of his name [ 475 ]
Against all competition, nor will long
Endure it, doubtful whether God be Lord,
Or Dagon. But for thee what shall be done?
Thou must not in the mean while here forgot
Lie in this miserable loathsom plight [ 480 ]
Neglected. I already have made way
To some Philistian Lords, with whom to treat
About thy ransom: well they may by this
Have satisfi’d thir utmost of revenge
By pains and slaveries, worse then death inflicted [ 485 ]
On thee, who now no more canst do them harm.
Sam. Spare that proposal, Father, spare the trouble
Of that sollicitation; let me here,
As I deserve, pay on my punishment;
And expiate, if possible, my crime, [ 490 ]
Shameful garrulity. To have reveal’d
Secrets of men, the secrets of a friend,
How heinous had the fact been, how deserving
Contempt, and scorn of all, to be excluded
All friendship, and avoided as a blab, [ 495 ]
The mark of fool set on his front?
But I Gods counsel have not kept, his holy secret
Presumptuously have publish’d, impiously,
Weakly at least, and shamefully: A sin
That Gentiles in thir Parables condemn [ 500 ]
To thir abyss and horrid pains confin’d.
Man. Be penitent and for thy fault contrite,
But act not in thy own affliction, Son,
Repent the sin, but if the punishment
Thou canst avoid, self-preservation bids; [ 505 ]
Or th’ execution leave to high disposal,
And let another hand, not thine, exact
Thy penal forfeit from thy self; perhaps
God will relent, and quit thee all his debt;
Who evermore approves and more accepts [ 510 ]
(Best pleas’d with humble and filial submission)
Him who imploring mercy sues for life,
Then who self-rigorous chooses death as due;
Which argues over-just, and self-displeas’d
For self-offence, more then for God offended. [ 515 ]
Reject not then what offerd means, who knows
But God hath set before us, to return thee
Home to thy countrey and his sacred house,
Where thou may’st bring thy off’rings, to avert
His further ire, with praiers and vows renew’d. [ 520 ]
Sam. His pardon I implore; but as for life,
To what end should I seek it? when in strength
All mortals I excell’d, and great in hopes
With youthful courage and magnanimous thoughts
Of birth from Heav’n foretold and high exploits, [ 525 ]
Full of divine instinct, after some proof
Of acts indeed heroic, far beyond
The Sons of Anac, famous now and blaz’d,
Fearless of danger, like a petty God
I walk’d about admir’d of all and dreaded [ 530 ]
On hostile ground, none daring my affront.
Then swoll’n with pride into the snare I fell
Of fair fallacious looks, venereal trains,
Softn’d with pleasure and voluptuous life;
At length to lay my head and hallow’d pledge [ 535 ]
Of all my strength in the lascivious lap
Of a deceitful Concubine who shore me
Like a tame Weather, all my precious fleece,
Then turn’d me out ridiculous, despoil’d,
Shav’n, and disarm’d among my enemies. [ 540 ]
Chor. Desire of wine and all delicious drinks,
Which many a famous Warriour overturns,
Thou could’st repress, nor did the dancing Rubie
Sparkling, out-pow’red, the flavor, or the smell,
Or taste that cheers the heart of Gods and men, [ 545 ]
Allure thee from the cool Crystalline stream.
Sam. Where ever fountain or fresh current flow’d
Against the Eastern ray, translucent, pure,
With touch ætherial of Heav’ns fiery rod
I drank, from the clear milkie juice allaying [ 550 ]
Thirst, and refresht; nor envy’d them the grape
Whose heads that turbulent liquor fills with fumes.
Chor. O madness, to think use of strongest wines
And strongest drinks our chief support of health,
When God with these forbid’n made choice to rear [ 555 ]
His mighty Champion, strong above compare,
Whose drink was only from the liquid brook.
Sam. But what avail’d this temperance, not compleat
Against another object more enticing?
What boots it at one gate to make defence, [ 560 ]
And at another to let in the foe
Effeminatly vanquish’t? by which means,
Now blind, dishearten’d, sham’d, dishonour’d, quell’d,
To what can I be useful, wherein serve
My Nation, and the work from Heav’n impos’d, [ 565 ]
But to sit idle on the houshold hearth,
A burdenous drone; to visitants a gaze,
Or pitied object, these redundant locks
Robustious to no purpose clustring down,
Vain monument of strength; till length of years [ 570 ]
And sedentary numness craze my limbs
To a contemptible old age obscure.
Here rather let me drudge and earn my bread,
Till vermin or the draff of servil food
Consume me, and oft-invocated death [ 575 ]
Hast’n the welcom end of all my pains.
Man. Wilt thou then serve the Philistines with that gift
Which was expressly giv’n thee to annoy them?
Better at home lie bed-rid, not only idle,
Inglorious, unimploy’d, with age out-worn. [ 580 ]
But God who caus’d a fountain at thy prayer
From the dry ground to spring, thy thirst to allay
After the brunt of battel, can as easie
Cause light again within thy eies to spring,
Wherewith to serve him better then thou hast; [ 585 ]
And I perswade me so; why else this strength
Miraculous yet remaining in those locks?
His might continues in thee not for naught,
Nor shall his wondrous gifts be frustrate thus.
Sam. All otherwise to me my thoughts portend, [ 590 ]
That these dark orbs no more shall treat with light,
Nor th’ other light of life continue long,
But yield to double darkness nigh at hand:
So much I feel my genial spirits droop,
My hopes all flat, nature within me seems [ 595 ]
In all her functions weary of her self;
My race of glory run, and race of shame,
And I shall shortly be with them that rest.
Man. Believe not these suggestions which proceed
From anguish of the mind and humours black, [ 600 ]
That mingle with thy fancy. I however
Must not omit a Fathers timely care
To prosecute the means of thy deliverance
By ransom or how else: mean while be calm,
And healing words from these thy friends admit. [ 605 ]
Sam. O that torment should not be confin’d
To the bodies wounds and sores
With maladies innumerable
In heart, head, brest, and reins;
But must secret passage find [ 610 ]
To th’ inmost mind,
There exercise all his fierce accidents,
And on her purest spirits prey,
As on entrails, joints, and limbs,
With answerable pains, but more intense, [ 615 ]
Though void of corporal sense.
My griefs not only pain me
As a lingring disease,
But finding no redress, ferment and rage,
Nor less then wounds immedicable [ 620 ]
Ranckle, and fester, and gangrene,
To black mortification.
Thoughts my Tormenters arm’d with deadly stings
Mangle my apprehensive tenderest parts,
Exasperate, exulcerate, and raise [ 625 ]
Dire inflammation which no cooling herb
Or medcinal liquor can asswage,
Nor breath of Vernal Air from snowy Alp.
Sleep hath forsook and giv’n me o’re
To deaths benumming Opium as my only cure. [ 630 ]
Thence faintings, swounings of despair,
And sense of Heav’ns desertion.
I was his nursling once and choice delight,
His destin’d from the womb,
Promisd by Heavenly message twice descending. [ 635 ]
Under his special eie
Abstemious I grew up and thriv’d amain;
He led me on to mightiest deeds
Above the nerve of mortal arm
Against the uncircumcis’d, our enemies. [ 640 ]
But now hath cast me off as never known,
And to those cruel enemies,
Whom I by his appointment had provok’t,
Left me all helpless with th’ irreparable loss
Of sight, reserv’d alive to be repeated [ 645 ]
The subject of thir cruelty, or scorn.
Nor am I in the list of them that hope;
Hopeless are all my evils, all remediless;
This one prayer yet remains, might I be heard,
No long petition, speedy death, [ 650 ]
The close of all my miseries, and the balm.
Chor. Many are the sayings of the wise
In antient and in modern books enroll’d;
Extolling Patience as the truest fortitude;
And to the bearing well of all calamities, [ 655 ]
All chances incident to mans frail life
With studied argument, and much perswasion sought
Lenient of grief and anxious thought,
But with th’ afflicted in his pangs thir sound [ 660 ]
Little prevails, or rather seems a tune,
Harsh, and of dissonant mood from his complaint,
Unless he feel within
Some sourse of consolation from above;
Secret refreshings, that repair his strength, [ 665 ]
And fainting spirits uphold.
God of our Fathers, what is man!
That thou towards him with hand so various,
Or might I say contrarious,
Temperst thy providence through his short course, [ 670 ]
Not evenly, as thou rul’st
The Angelic orders and inferiour creatures mute,
Irrational and brute.
Nor do I name of men the common rout,
That wandring loose about [ 675 ]
Grow up and perish, as the summer flie,
Heads without name no more rememberd,
But such as thou hast solemnly elected,
With gifts and graces eminently adorn’d
To some great work, thy glory, [ 680 ]
And peoples safety, which in part they effect:
Yet toward these thus dignifi’d, thou oft
Amidst thir highth of noon,
Changest thy countenance, and thy hand with no regard
Of highest favours past [ 685 ]
From thee on them, or them to thee of service.
Nor only dost degrade them, or remit
To life obscur’d, which were a fair dismission,
But throw’st them lower then thou didst exalt them high,
Unseemly falls in human eie, [ 690 ]
Too grievous for the trespass or omission,
Oft leav’st them to the hostile sword
Of Heathen and prophane, thir carkasses
To dogs and fowls a prey, or else captiv’d:
Or to the unjust tribunals, under change of times, [ 695 ]
And condemnation of the ingrateful multitude.
If these they scape, perhaps in poverty
With sickness and disease thou bow’st them down,
Painful diseases and deform’d,
In crude old age; [ 700 ]
Though not disordinate, yet causeless suffring
The punishment of dissolute days, in fine,
Just or unjust, alike seem miserable,
For oft alike, both come to evil end.
So deal not with this once thy glorious Champion, [ 705 ]
The Image of thy strength, and mighty minister.
What do I beg? how hast thou dealt already?
Behold him in this state calamitous, and turn
His labours, for thou canst, to peaceful end.
But who is this, what thing of Sea or Land? [ 710 ]
Femal of sex it seems,
That so bedeckt, ornate, and gay,
Comes this way sailing
Like a stately Ship
Of Tarsus, bound for th’ Isles [ 715 ]
Of Javan or Gadier
With all her bravery on, and tackle trim,
Sails fill’d, and streamers waving,
Courted by all the winds that hold them play,
An Amber sent of odorous perfume [ 720 ]
Her harbinger, a damsel train behind;
Some rich Philistian Matron she may seem,
And now at nearer view, no other certain
Then Dalila thy wife.
Sam. My Wife, my Traytress, let her not come near me. [ 725 ]
Chor. Yet on she moves, now stands & eies thee fixt,
About t’ have spoke, but now, with head declin’d
Like a fair flower surcharg’d with dew, she weeps
And words addrest seem into tears dissolv’d,
Wetting the borders of her silk’n veil: [ 730 ]
But now again she makes address to speak.
Dal. With doubtful feet and wavering resolution
I came, still dreading thy displeasure, Samson,
Which to have merited, without excuse,
I cannot but acknowledge; yet if tears [ 735 ]
May expiate (though the fact more evil drew
In the perverse event then I foresaw)
My penance hath not slack’n’d, though my pardon
No way assur’d. But conjugal affection
Prevailing over fear, and timerous doubt [ 740 ]
Hath led me on desirous to behold
Once more thy face, and know of thy estate.
If aught in my ability may serve
To light’n what thou suffer’st, and appease
Thy mind with what amends is in my power, [ 745 ]
Though late, yet in some part to recompense
My rash but more unfortunate misdeed.
Sam. Out, out Hyæna; these are thy wonted arts,
And arts of every woman false like thee,
To break all faith, all vows, deceive, betray, [ 750 ]
Then as repentant to submit, beseech,
And reconcilement move with feign’d remorse,
Confess, and promise wonders in her change,
Not truly penitent, but chief to try
Her husband, how far urg’d his patience bears, [ 755 ]
His vertue or weakness which way to assail:
Then with more cautious and instructed skill
Again transgresses, and again submits;
That wisest and best men full oft beguil’d
With goodness principl’d not to reject [ 760 ]
The penitent, but ever to forgive,
Are drawn to wear out miserable days,
Entangl’d with a poysnous bosom snake,
If not quick destruction soon cut off
As I by thee, to Ages an example. [ 765 ]
Dal. Yet hear me Samson; not that I endeavour
To lessen or extenuate my offence,
But that on th’ other side if it be weigh’d
By it self, with aggravations not surcharg’d,
Or else with just allowance counterpois’d [ 770 ]
I may, if possible, thy pardon find
The easier towards me, or thy hatred less.
First granting, as I do, it was a weakness
In me, but incident to all our sex,
Curiosity, inquisitive, importune [ 775 ]
Of secrets, then with like infirmity
To publish them, both common female faults:
Was it not weakness also to make known
For importunity, that is for naught,
Wherein consisted all thy strength and safety? [ 780 ]
To what I did thou shewdst me first the way.
But I to enemies reveal’d, and should not.
Nor shouldst thou have trusted that to womans frailty
E’re I to thee, thou to thy self wast cruel.
Let weakness then with weakness come to parl [ 785 ]
So near related, or the same of kind,
Thine forgive mine; that men may censure thine
The gentler, if severely thou exact not
More strength from me, then in thy self was found.
And what if Love, which thou interpret’st hate, [ 790 ]
The jealousie of Love, powerful of sway
In human hearts, nor less in mine towards thee,
Caus’d what I did? I saw thee mutable
Of fancy, fear’d lest one day thou wouldst leave me
As her at Timna, sought by all means therefore [ 795 ]
How to endear, and hold thee to me firmest:
No better way I saw then by importuning
To learn thy secrets, get into my power
Thy key of strength and safety: thou wilt say,
Why then reveal’d? I was assur’d by those [ 800 ]
Who tempted me, that nothing was design’d
Against thee but safe custody, and hold:
That made for me, I knew that liberty
Would draw thee forth to perilous enterprises,
While I at home sate full of cares and fears [ 805 ]
Wailing thy absence in my widow’d bed;
Here I should still enjoy thee day and night
Mine and Loves prisoner, not the Philistines,
Whole to my self, unhazarded abroad,
Fearless at home of partners in my love. [ 810 ]
These reasons in Loves law have past for good,
Though fond and reasonless to some perhaps;
And Love hath oft, well meaning, wrought much wo,
Yet always pity or pardon hath obtain’d.
Be not unlike all others, not austere [ 815 ]
As thou art strong, inflexible as steel.
If thou in strength all mortals dost exceed,
In uncompassionate anger do not so.
Sam. How cunningly the sorceress displays
Her own transgressions, to upbraid me mine? [ 820 ]
That malice not repentance brought thee hither,
By this appears: I gave, thou say’st, th’ example,
I led the way; bitter reproach, but true,
I to my self was false e’re thou to me,
Such pardon therefore as I give my folly, [ 825 ]
Take to thy wicked deed: which when thou seest
Impartial, self-severe, inexorable,
Thou wilt renounce thy seeking, and much rather
Confess it feign’d, weakness is thy excuse,
And I believe it, weakness to resist [ 830 ]
Philistian gold: if weakness may excuse,
What Murtherer, what Traytor, Parricide,
Incestuous, Sacrilegious, but may plead it?
All wickedness is weakness: that plea therefore
With God or Man will gain thee no remission. [ 835 ]
But Love constrain’d thee; call it furious rage
To satisfie thy lust: Love seeks to have Love;
My love how couldst thou hope, who tookst the way
To raise in me inexpiable hate,
Knowing, as needs I must, by thee betray’d? [ 840 ]
In vain thou striv’st to cover shame with shame,
Or by evasions thy crime uncoverst more.
Dal. Since thou determinst weakness for no plea
In man or woman, though to thy own condemning,
Hear what assaults I had, what snares besides, [ 845 ]
What sieges girt me round, e’re I consented;
Which might have aw’d the best resolv’d of men,
The constantest to have yielded without blame.
It was not gold, as to my charge thou lay’st,
That wrought with me: thou know’st the Magistrates [ 850 ]
And Princes of my countrey came in person,
Sollicited, commanded, threatn’d, urg’d,
Adjur’d by all the bonds of civil Duty
And of Religion, press’d how just it was,
How honourable, how glorious to entrap [ 855 ]
A common enemy, who had destroy’d
Such numbers of our Nation: and the Priest
Was not behind, but ever at my ear,
Preaching how meritorious with the gods
It would be to ensnare an irreligious [ 860 ]
Dishonourer of Dagon: what had I
To oppose against such powerful arguments?
Only my love of thee held long debate;
And combated in silence all these reasons
With hard contest: at length that grounded maxim [ 865 ]
So rife and celebrated in the mouths
Of wisest men; that to the public good
Private respects must yield; with grave authority
Took full possession of me and prevail’d;
Vertue, as I thought, truth, duty so enjoyning. [ 870 ]
Sam. I thought where all thy circling wiles would end;
In feign’d Religion, smooth hypocrisie.
But had thy love, still odiously pretended,
Bin, as it ought, sincere, it would have taught thee
Far other reasonings, brought forth other deeds. [ 875 ]
I before all the daughters of my Tribe
And of my Nation chose thee from among
My enemies, lov’d thee, as too well thou knew’st,
Too well, unbosom’d all my secrets to thee,
Not out of levity, but over-powr’d [ 880 ]
By thy request, who could deny thee nothing;
Yet now am judg’d an enemy. Why then
Didst thou at first receive me for thy husband?
Then, as since then, thy countries foe profest:
Being once a wife, for me thou wast to leave [ 885 ]
Parents and countrey; nor was I their subject,
Nor under their protection but my own,
Thou mine, not theirs: if aught against my life
Thy countrey sought of thee, it sought unjustly,
Against the law of nature, law of nations, [ 890 ]
No more thy countrey, but an impious crew
Of men conspiring to uphold thir state
By worse then hostile deeds, violating the ends
For which our countrey is a name so dear;
Not therefore to be obey’d. But zeal mov’d thee; [ 895 ]
To please thy gods thou didst it; gods unable
To acquit themselves and prosecute their foes
But by ungodly deeds, the contradiction
Of their own deity, Gods cannot be:
Less therefore to be pleas’d, obey’d, or fear’d, [ 900 ]
These false pretexts and varnish’d colours failing,
Bare in thy guilt how foul must thou appear?
Dal. In argument with men a woman ever
Goes by the worse, whatever be her cause.
Sam. For want of words no doubt, or lack of breath, [ 905 ]
Witness when I was worried with thy peals.
Dal. I was a fool, too rash, and quite mistaken
In what I thought would have succeeded best.
Let me obtain forgiveness of thee, Samson,
Afford me place to shew what recompense [ 910 ]
Towards thee I intend for what I have misdone,
Misguided: only what remains past cure
Bear not too sensibly, nor still insist
To afflict thy self in vain: though sight be lost,
Life yet hath many solaces, enjoy’d [ 915 ]
Where other senses want not their delights
At home in leisure and domestic ease,
Exempt from many a care and chance to which
Eye-sight exposes daily men abroad.
I to the Lords will intercede, not doubting [ 920 ]
Thir favourable ear, that I may fetch thee
From forth this loathsom prison-house, to abide
With me, where my redoubl’d love and care
With nursing diligence, to me glad office,
May ever tend about thee to old age [ 925 ]
With all things grateful chear’d, and so suppli’d,
That what by me thou hast lost thou least shalt miss.
Sam. No, no, of my condition take no care;
It fits not; thou and I long since are twain;
Nor think me so unwary or accurst [ 930 ]
To bring my feet again into the snare
Where once I have been caught; I know thy trains
Though dearly to my cost, thy ginns, and toyls;
Thy fair enchanted cup, and warbling charms
No more on me have power, their force is null’d, [ 935 ]
So much of Adders wisdom I have learn’t
To fence my ear against thy sorceries.
If in my flower of youth and strength, when all men
Lov’d, honour’d, fear’d me, thou alone could hate me
Thy Husband, slight me, sell me, and forgo me; [ 940 ]
How wouldst thou use me now, blind, and thereby
Deceiveable, in most things as a child
Helpless, thence easily contemn’d, and scorn’d,
And last neglected? How wouldst thou insult
When I must live uxorious to thy will [ 945 ]
In perfet thraldom, how again betray me,
Bearing my words and doings to the Lords
To gloss upon, and censuring, frown or smile?
This Gaol I count the house of Liberty
To thine whose doors my feet shall never enter. [ 950 ]
Dal. Let me approach at least, and touch thy hand.
Sam. Not for thy life, lest fierce remembrance wake
My sudden rage to tear thee joint by joint.
At distance I forgive thee, go with that;
Bewail thy falshood, and the pious works [ 955 ]
It hath brought forth to make thee memorable
Among illustrious women, faithful wives:
Cherish thy hast’n’d widowhood with the gold
Of Matrimonial treason: so farwel.
Dal. I see thou art implacable, more deaf [ 960 ]
To prayers, then winds and seas, yet winds to seas
Are reconcil’d at length, and Sea to Shore:
Thy anger, unappeasable, still rages,
Eternal tempest never to be calm’d.
Why do I humble thus my self, and suing [ 965 ]
For peace, reap nothing but repulse and hate?
Bid go with evil omen and the brand
Of infamy upon my name denounc’t?
To mix with thy concernments I desist
Henceforth, nor too much disapprove my own. [ 970 ]
Fame if not double-fac’t is double-mouth’d,
And with contrary blast proclaims most deeds,
On both his wings, one black, th’ other white,
Bears greatest names in his wild aerie flight.
My name perhaps among the Circumcis’d [ 975 ]
In Dan, in Judah, and the bordering Tribes,
To all posterity may stand defam’d,
With malediction mention’d, and the blot
Of falshood most unconjugal traduc’t.
But in my countrey where I most desire, [ 980 ]
In Ecron, Gaza, Asdod, and in Gath
I shall be nam’d among the famousest
Of Women, sung at solemn festivals,
Living and dead recorded, who to save
Her countrey from a fierce destroyer, chose [ 985 ]
Above the faith of wedlock-bands, my tomb
With odours visited and annual flowers.
Not less renown’d then in Mount Ephraim,
Jael, who with inhospitable guile
Smote Sisera sleeping through the Temples nail’d. [ 990 ]
Nor shall I count it hainous to enjoy
The public marks of honour and reward
Conferr’d upon me, for the piety
Which to my countrey I was judg’d to have shewn.
At this who ever envies or repines [ 995 ]
I leave him to his lot, and like my own.
Chor. She’s gone, a manifest Serpent by her sting
Discover’d in the end, till now conceal’d.
Sam. So let her go, God sent her to debase me,
And aggravate my folly who committed [ 1000 ]
To such a viper his most sacred trust
Of secresie, my safety, and my life.
Chor. Yet beauty, though injurious, hath strange power,
After offence returning, to regain
Love once possest, nor can be easily [ 1005 ]
Repuls’t, without much inward passion felt
And secret sting of amorous remorse.
Sam. Love-quarrels oft in pleasing concord end,
Not wedlock-trechery endangering life.
Cho. It is not vertue, wisdom, valour, wit, [ 1010 ]
Strength, comliness of shape, or amplest merit
That womans love can win or long inherit;
But what it is, hard is to say,
Harder to hit,
(Which way soever men refer it) [ 1015 ]
Much like thy riddle, Samson, in one day
Or seven, though one should musing sit;
If any of these or all, the Timnian bride
Had not so soon preferr’d
Thy Paranymph, worthless to thee compar’d, [ 1020 ]
Successour in thy bed,
Nor both so loosly disally’d
Thir nuptials, nor this last so treacherously
Had shorn the fatal harvest of thy head.
Is it for that such outward ornament [ 1025 ]
Was lavish’t on thir Sex, that inward gifts
Were left for haste unfinish’t, judgment scant,
Capacity not rais’d to apprehend
Or value what is best
In choice, but oftest to affect the wrong? [ 1030 ]
Or was too much of self-love mixt,
Of constancy no root infixt,
That either they love nothing, or not long?
What e’re it be, to wisest men and best
Seeming at first all heavenly under virgin veil, [ 1035 ]
Soft, modest, meek, demure,
Once join’d, the contrary she proves, a thorn
Intestin, far within defensive arms
A cleaving mischief, in his way to vertue
Adverse and turbulent, or by her charms [ 1040 ]
Draws him awry enslav’d
With dotage, and his sense deprav’d
To folly and shameful deeds which ruin ends.
What Pilot so expert but needs must wreck
Embarqu’d with such a Stears-mate at the Helm? [ 1045 ]
Favour’d of Heav’n who finds
One vertuous rarely found,
That in domestic good combines:
Happy that house! his way to peace is smooth:
But vertue which breaks through all opposition, [ 1050 ]
And all temptation can remove,
Most shines and most is acceptable above.
Therefore Gods universal Law
Gave to the man despotic power
Over his female in due awe, [ 1055 ]
Nor from that right to part an hour,
Smile she or lowre:
So shall he least confusion draw
On his whole life, not sway’d
By female usurpation, nor dismay’d. [ 1060 ]
But had we best retire, I see a storm?
Sam. Fair days have oft contracted wind and rain.
Chor. But this another kind of tempest brings.
Sam. Be less abstruse, my riddling days are past.
Chor. Look now for no inchanting voice, nor fear [ 1065 ]
The bait of honied words; a rougher tongue
Draws hitherward, I know him by his stride,
The Giant Harapha of Gath, his look
Haughty as is his pile high-built and proud.
Comes he in peace? what wind hath blown him hither [ 1070 ]
I less conjecture then when first I saw
The sumptuous Dalila floating this way:
His habit carries peace, his brow defiance.
Sam. Or peace or not, alike to me he comes.
Chor. His fraught we soon shall know, he now arrives. [ 1075 ]
Har. I come not Samson, to condole thy chance,
As these perhaps, yet wish it had not been,
Though for no friendly intent. I am of Gath,
Men call me Harapha, of stock renown’d
As Og or Anak and the Emims old [ 1080 ]
That Kiriathaim held, thou knowst me now
If thou at all art known. Much I have heard
Of thy prodigious might and feats perform’d
Incredible to me, in this displeas’d,
That I was never present on the place [ 1085 ]
Of those encounters, where we might have tri’d
Each others force in camp or listed field:
And now am come to see of whom such noise
Hath walk’d about, and each limb to survey,
If thy appearance answer loud report. [ 1090 ]
Sam. The way to know were not to see but taste.
Har. Dost thou already single me; I thought
Gives and the Mill had tam’d thee; O that fortune
Had brought me to the field where thou art fam’d
To have wrought such wonders with an Asses Jaw; [ 1095 ]
I should have forc’d thee soon with other arms,
Or left thy carkass where the Ass lay thrown:
So had the glory of Prowess been recover’d
To Palestine, won by a Philistine
From the unforeskinn’d race, of whom thou bear’st [ 1100 ]
The highest name for valiant Acts, that honour
Certain to have won by mortal duel from thee,
I lose, prevented by thy eyes put out.
Sam. Boast not of what thou wouldst have done, but do
What then thou would’st, thou seest it in thy hand. [ 1105 ]
Har. To combat with a blind man I disdain,
And thou hast need much washing to be toucht.
Sam. Such usage as your honourable Lords
Afford me assassinated and betray’d,
Who durst not with thir whole united powers [ 1110 ]
In fight withstand me single and unarm’d,
Nor in the house with chamber Ambushes
Close-banded durst attaque me, no not sleeping,
Till they had hir’d a woman with their gold
Breaking her Marriage Faith to circumvent me. [ 1115 ]
Therefore without feign’d shifts let be assign’d
Some narrow place enclos’d, where sight may give thee,
Or rather flight, no great advantage on me;
Then put on all thy gorgeous arms, thy Helmet
And Brigandine of brass, thy broad Habergeon, [ 1120 ]
Vant-brass and Greves, and Gauntlet, add thy Spear
A Weavers beam, and seven-times-folded shield,
I only with an Oak’n staff will meet thee,
And raise such out-cries on thy clatter’d Iron,
Which long shall not with-hold mee from thy head, [ 1125 ]
That in a little time while breath remains thee,
Thou oft shalt wish thy self at Gath to boast
Again in safety what thou wouldst have done
To Samson, but shalt never see Gath more.
Har. Thou durst not thus disparage glorious arms [ 1130 ]
Which greatest Heroes have in battel worn,
Thir ornament and safety, had not spells
And black enchantments, some Magicians Art
Arm’d thee or charm’d thee strong, which thou from Heaven
Feigndst at thy birth was giv’n thee in thy hair, [ 1135 ]
Where strength can least abide, though all thy hairs
Were bristles rang’d like those that ridge the back
Of chaf’t wild Boars, or ruffl’d Porcupines.
Sam. I know no Spells, use no forbidden Arts;
My trust is in the living God who gave me [ 1140 ]
At my Nativity this strength, diffus’d
No less through all my sinews, joints and bones,
Then thine, while I preserv’d these locks unshorn,
The pledge of my unviolated vow.
For proof hereof, if Dagon be thy god, [ 1145 ]
Go to his Temple, invocate his aid
With solemnest devotion, spread before him
How highly it concerns his glory now
To frustrate and dissolve these Magic spells,
Which I to be the power of Israel’s God [ 1150 ]
Avow, and challenge Dagon to the test,
Offering to combat thee his Champion bold,
With th’ utmost of his Godhead seconded:
Then thou shalt see, or rather to thy sorrow
Soon feel, whose God is strongest, thine or mine. [ 1155 ]
Har. Presume not on thy God, what e’re he be,
Thee he regards not, owns not, hath cut off
Quite from his people, and delivered up
Into thy Enemies hand, permitted them
To put out both thine eyes, and fetter’d send thee [ 1160 ]
Into the common Prison, there to grind
Among the Slaves and Asses thy comrades,
As good for nothing else, no better service
With those thy boyst’rous locks, no worthy match
For valour to assail, nor by the sword [ 1165 ]
Of noble Warriour, so to stain his honour,
But by the Barbers razor best subdu’d.
Sam. All these indignities, for such they are
From thine, these evils I deserve and more,
Acknowledge them from God inflicted on me [ 1170 ]
Justly, yet despair not of his final pardon
Whose ear is ever open; and his eye
Gracious to re-admit the suppliant;
In confidence whereof I once again
Defie thee to the trial of mortal fight, [ 1175 ]
By combat to decide whose god is god,
Thine or whom I with Israel’s Sons adore.
Har. Fair honour that thou dost thy God, in trusting
He will accept thee to defend his cause,
A Murtherer, a Revolter, and a Robber. [ 1180 ]
Sam. Tongue-doubtie Giant, how dost thou prove me these?
Har. Is not thy Nation subject to our Lords?
Their Magistrates confest it, when they took thee
As a League-breaker and deliver’d bound
Into our hands: for hadst thou not committed [ 1185 ]
Notorious murder on those thirty men
At Askalon, who never did thee harm,
Then like a Robber stripdst them of thir robes?
The Philistines, when thou hadst broke the league,
Went up with armed powers thee only seeking, [ 1190 ]
To others did no violence nor spoil.
Sam. Among the Daughters of the Philistines
I chose a Wife, which argu’d me no foe;
And in your City held my Nuptial Feast:
But your ill-meaning Politician Lords, [ 1195 ]
Under pretence of Bridal friends and guests,
Appointed to await me thirty spies,
Who threatening cruel death constrain’d the bride
To wring from me and tell to them my secret,
That solv’d the riddle which I had propos’d. [ 1200 ]
When I perceiv’d all set on enmity,
As on my enemies, where ever chanc’d,
I us’d hostility, and took thir spoil
To pay my underminers in thir coin.
My Nation was subjected to your Lords. [ 1205 ]
It was the force of Conquest; force with force
Is well ejected when the Conquer’d can.
But I a private person, whom my Countrey
As a league-breaker gave up bound, presum’d
Single Rebellion and did Hostile Acts. [ 1210 ]
I was no private but a person rais’d
With strength sufficient and command from Heav’n
To free my Countrey; if their servile minds
Me their Deliverer sent would not receive,
But to thir Masters gave me up for nought, [ 1215 ]
Th’ unworthier they; whence to this day they serve.
I was to do my part from Heav’n assign’d,
And had perform’d it if my known offence
Had not disabl’d me, not all your force:
These shifts refuted, answer thy appellant [ 1220 ]
Though by his blindness maim’d for high attempts,
Who now defies thee thrice to single fight,
As a petty enterprise of small enforce.
Har. With thee a Man condemn’d, a Slave enrol’d,
Due by the Law to capital punishment? [ 1225 ]
To fight with thee no man of arms will deign.
Sam. Cam’st thou for this, vain boaster, to survey me,
To descant on my strength, and give thy verdit?
Come nearer, part not hence so slight inform’d;
But take good heed my hand survey not thee. [ 1230 ]
Har. O Baal-zebub! can my ears unus’d
Hear these dishonours, and not render death?
Sam. No man with-holds thee, nothing from thy hand
Fear I incurable; bring up thy van,
My heels are fetter’d, but my fist is free. [ 1235 ]
Har. This insolence other kind of answer fits.
Sam. Go baffl’d coward, lest I run upon thee,
Though in these chains, bulk without spirit vast,
And with one buffet lay thy structure low,
Or swing thee in the Air, then dash thee down [ 1240 ]
To the hazard of thy brains and shatter’d sides.
Har. By Astaroth e’re long thou shalt lament
These braveries in Irons loaden on thee.
Chor. His Giantship is gone somewhat crest-fall’n,
Stalking with less unconsci’nable strides, [ 1245 ]
And lower looks, but in a sultrie chafe.
Sam. I dread him not, nor all his Giant-brood,
Though Fame divulge him Father of five Sons
All of Gigantic size, Goliah chief.
Chor. He will directly to the Lords, I fear, [ 1250 ]
And with malitious counsel stir them up
Some way or other yet further to afflict thee.
Sam. He must allege some cause, and offer’d fight
Will not dare mention, lest a question rise
Whether he durst accept the offer or not, [ 1255 ]
And that he durst not plain enough appear’d.
Much more affliction then already felt
They cannot well impose, nor I sustain;
If they intend advantage of my labours
The work of many hands, which earns my keeping [ 1260 ]
With no small profit daily to my owners.
But come what will, my deadliest foe will prove
My speediest friend, by death to rid me hence,
The worst that he can give, to me the best.
Yet so it may fall out, because thir end [ 1265 ]
Is hate, not help to me, it may with mine
Draw thir own ruin who attempt the deed.
Chor. Oh how comely it is and how reviving
To the Spirits of just men long opprest!
When God into the hands of thir deliverer [ 1270 ]
Puts invincible might
To quell the mighty of the Earth, th’ oppressour,
The brute and boist’rous force of violent men
Hardy and industrious to support
Tyrannic power, but raging to pursue [ 1275 ]
The righteous and all such as honour Truth;
He all thir Ammunition
And feats of War defeats
With plain Heroic magnitude of mind
And celestial vigour arm’d [ 1280 ]
Thir Armories and Magazins contemns,
Renders them useless, while
With winged expedition
Swift as the lightning glance he executes
His errand on the wicked, who supris’d [ 1285 ]
Lose thir defence distracted and amaz’d.
But patience is more oft the exercise
Of Saints, the trial of thir fortitude,
Making them each his own Deliverer,
And Victor over all [ 1290 ]
That tyrannie or fortune can inflict,
Either of these is in thy lot,
Samson, with might endu’d
Above the Sons of men; but sight bereav’d
May chance to number thee with those [ 1295 ]
Whom Patience finally must crown.
This Idols day hath bin to thee no day of rest,
Labouring thy mind
More then the working day thy hands,
And yet perhaps more trouble is behind. [ 1300 ]
For I descry this way
Some other tending, in his hand
A Scepter or quaint staff he bears,
Comes on amain, speed in his look.
By his habit I discern him now [ 1305 ]
A Public Officer, and now at hand.
His message will be short and voluble.
Off. Ebrews, the Pris’ner Samson here I seek.
Chor. His manacles remark him, there he sits.
Off. Samson, to thee our Lords thus bid me say; [ 1310 ]
This day to Dagon is a solemn Feast,
With Sacrifices, Triumph, Pomp, and Games;
Thy strength they know surpassing human rate,
And now some public proof thereof require
To honour this great Feast, and great Assembly; [ 1315 ]
Rise therefore with all speed and come along,
Where I will see thee heartn’d and fresh clad
To appear as fits before th’ illustrious Lords.
Sam. Thou knowst I am an Ebrew, therefore tell them,
Our Law forbids at thir Religious Rites [ 1320 ]
My presence; for that cause I cannot come.
Off. This answer, be assur’d, will not content them.
Sam. Have they not Sword-players, and ev’ry sort
Of Gymnic Artists, Wrestlers, Riders, Runners,
Juglers and Dancers, Antics, Mummers, Mimics, [ 1325 ]
But they must pick me out with shackles tir’d,
And over-labour’d at thir publick Mill,
To make them sport with blind activity?
Do they not seek occasion of new quarrels
On my refusal to distress me more, [ 1330 ]
Or make a game of my calamities?
Return the way thou cam’st, I will not come.
Off. Regard thy self, this will offend them highly.
Sam. My self? my conscience and internal peace.
Can they think me so broken, so debas’d [ 1335 ]
With corporal servitude, that my mind ever
Will condescend to such absurd commands?
Although thir drudge, to be thir fool or jester,
And in my midst of sorrow and heart-grief
To shew them feats and play before thir god, [ 1340 ]
The worst of all indignities, yet on me
Joyn’d with extream contempt? I will not come.
Off. My message was impos’d on me with speed,
Brooks no delay: is this thy resolution?
Sam. So take it with what speed thy message needs. [ 1345 ]
Off. I am sorry what this stoutness will produce.
Sam. Perhaps thou shalt have cause to sorrow indeed.
Chor. Consider, Samson; matters now are strain’d
Up to the highth, whether to hold or break;
He’s gone, and who knows how he may report [ 1350 ]
Thy words by adding fuel to the flame?
Expect another message more imperious,
More Lordly thund’ring then thou well wilt bear.
Sam. Shall I abuse this Consecrated gift
Of strength, again returning with my hair [ 1355 ]
After my great transgression, so requite
Favour renew’d, and add a greater sin
By prostituting holy things to Idols;
A Nazarite in place abominable
Vaunting my strength in honour to thir Dagon? [ 1360 ]
Besides, how vile, contemptible, ridiculous,
What act more execrably unclean, prophane?
Chor. Yet with this strength thou serv’st the Philistines,
Idolatrous, uncircumcis’d, unclean.
Sam. Not in thir Idol-worship, but by labour [ 1365 ]
Honest and lawful to deserve my food
Of those who have me in thir civil power.
Sam. Where outward force constrains, the sentence holds;
But who constrains me to the Temple of Dagon, [ 1370 ]
Not dragging? the Philistian Lords command.
Commands are no constraints. If I obey them,
I do it freely; venturing to displease
God for the fear of Man, and Man prefer,
Set God behind: which in his jealousie [ 1375 ]
Shall never, unrepented, find forgiveness.
Yet that he may dispense with me or thee
Present in Temples at Idolatrous Rites
For some important cause, thou needst not doubt.
Chor. How thou wilt here come off surmounts my reach. [ 1380 ]
Sam. Be of good courage, I begin to feel
Some rouzing motions in me which dispose
To something extraordinary my thoughts.
I with this Messenger will go along,
Nothing to do, be sure, that may dishonour [ 1385 ]
Our Law, or stain my vow of Nazarite.
If there be aught of presage in the mind,
This day will be remarkable in my life
By some great act, or of my days the last.
Chor. In time thou hast resolv’d, the man returns. [ 1390 ]
Off. Samson, this second message from our Lords
To thee I am bid say. Art thou our Slave,
Our Captive, at the public Mill our drudge,
And dar’st thou at our sending and command
Dispute thy coming? come without delay; [ 1395 ]
Or we shall find such Engines to assail
And hamper thee, as thou shalt come of force,
Though thou wert firmlier fastn’d then a rock.
Sam. I could be well content to try thir Art,
Which to no few of them would prove pernicious. [ 1400 ]
Yet knowing thir advantages too many,
Because they shall not trail me through thir streets
Like a wild Beast, I am content to go.
Masters commands come with a power resistless
To such as owe them absolute subjection; [ 1405 ]
And for a life who will not change his purpose?
(So mutable are all the ways of men)
Yet this be sure, in nothing to comply
Scandalous or forbidden in our Law.
Off. I praise thy resolution, doff these links: [ 1410 ]
By this compliance thou wilt win the Lords
To favour, and perhaps to set thee free.
Sam. Brethren farwell, your company along
I will not wish, lest it perhaps offend them
To see me girt with Friends; and how the sight [ 1415 ]
Of me as of a common Enemy,
So dreaded once, may now exasperate them
I know not. Lords are Lordliest in thir wine;
And the well-feasted Priest then soonest fir’d
With zeal, if aught Religion seem concern’d: [ 1420 ]
No less the people on thir Holy-days
Impetuous, insolent, unquenchable;
Happ’n what may, of me expect to hear
Nothing dishonourable, impure, unworthy
Our God, our Law, my Nation, or my self, [ 1425 ]
The last of me or no I cannot warrant.
Chor. Go, and the Holy One
Of Israel be thy guide
To what may serve his glory best, & spread his name
Great among the Heathen round: [ 1430 ]
Send thee the Angel of thy Birth, to stand
Fast by thy side, who from thy Fathers field
Rode up in flames after his message told
Of thy conception, and be now a shield
Of fire; that Spirit that first rusht on thee [ 1435 ]
In the camp of Dan
Be efficacious in thee now at need.
For never was from Heaven imparted
Measure of strength so great to mortal seed,
As in thy wond’rous actions hath been seen. [ 1440 ]
But wherefore comes old Manoa in such hast
With youthful steps? much livelier then e’re while
He seems: supposing here to find his Son,
Or of him bringing to us some glad news?
Man. Peace with you brethren; my inducement hither [ 1445 ]
Was not at present here to find my Son,
By order of the Lords new parted hence
To come and play before them at thir Feast.
I heard all as I came, the City rings
And numbers thither flock, I had no will, [ 1450 ]
Lest I should see him forc’t to things unseemly.
But that which moved my coming now, was chiefly
To give ye part with me what hope I have
With good success to work his liberty.
Chor. That hope would much rejoyce us to partake [ 1455 ]
With thee; say reverend Sire, we thirst to hear.
Man. I have attempted one by one the Lords
Either at home, or through the high street passing,
With supplication prone and Fathers tears
To accept of ransom for my Son thir pris’ner, [ 1460 ]
Some much averse I found and wondrous harsh,
Contemptuous, proud, set on revenge and spite;
That part most reverenc’d Dagon and his Priests,
Others more moderate seeming, but thir aim
Private reward, for which both God and State [ 1465 ]
They easily would set to sale, a third
More generous far and civil, who confess’d
They had anough reveng’d, having reduc’t
Thir foe to misery beneath thir fears,
The rest was magnanimity to remit, [ 1470 ]
If some convenient ransom were propos’d.
What noise or shout was that? it tore the Skie.
Chor. Doubtless the people shouting to behold
Thir once great dread, captive, & blind before them,
Or at some proof of strength before them shown. [ 1475 ]
Man. His ransom, if my whole inheritance
May compass it, shall willingly be paid
And numberd down: much rather I shall chuse
To live the poorest in my Tribe, then richest,
And he in that calamitous prison left. [ 1480 ]
No, I am fixt not to part hence without him.
For his redemption all my Patrimony,
If need be, I am ready to forgo
And quit: not wanting him, I shall want nothing.
Chor. Fathers are wont to lay up for thir Sons, [ 1485 ]
Thou for thy Son art bent to lay out all;
Sons wont to nurse thir Parents in old age,
Thou in old age car’st how to nurse thy Son,
Made older then thy age through eye-sight lost.
Man. It shall be my delight to tend his eyes, [ 1490 ]
And view him sitting in the house, enobl’d
With all those high exploits by him atchiev’d,
And on his shoulders waving down those locks,
That of a Nation arm’d the strength contain’d:
And I perswade me God had not permitted [ 1495 ]
His strength again to grow up with his hair
Garrison’d round about him like a Camp
Of faithful Souldiery, were not his purpose
To use him further yet in some great service,
Not to sit idle with so great a gift [ 1500 ]
Useless, and thence ridiculous about him.
And since his strength with eye-sight was not lost,
God will restore him eye-sight to his strength.
Chor. Thy hopes are not ill founded nor seem vain
Of his delivery, and thy joy thereon [ 1505 ]
Conceiv’d, agreeable to a Fathers love,
In both which we, as next participate.
Man. I know your friendly minds and — O what noise!
Mercy of Heav’n what hideous noise was that!
Horribly loud unlike the former shout. [ 1510 ]
Chor. Noise call you it or universal groan
As if the whole inhabitation perish’d,
Blood, death, and deathful deeds are in that noise,
Ruin, destruction at the utmost point.
Man. Of ruin indeed methought I heard the noise, [ 1515 ]
Oh it continues, they have slain my Son.
Chor. Thy Son is rather slaying them, that outcry
From slaughter of one foe could not ascend.
Man. Some dismal accident it needs must be;
What shall we do, stay here or run and see? [ 1520 ]
Chor. Best keep together here, lest running thither
We unawares run into dangers mouth.
This evil on the Philistines is fall’n,
From whom could else a general cry be heard?
The sufferers then will scarce molest us here, [ 1525 ]
From other hands we need not much to fear.
What if his eye-sight (for to Israels God
Nothing is hard) by miracle restor’d,
He now be dealing dole among his foes,
And over heaps of slaughter’d walk his way? [ 1530 ]
Man. That were a joy presumptuous to be thought.
Chor. Yet God hath wrought things as incredible
For his people of old; what hinders now?
Man. He can I know, but doubt to think he will;
Yet Hope would fain subscribe, and tempts Belief. [ 1535 ]
A little stay will bring some notice hither.
Chor. Of good or bad so great, of bad the sooner;
For evil news rides post, while good news baits.
And to our wish I see one hither speeding,
An Ebrew, as I guess, and of our Tribe. [ 1540 ]
Mess. O whither shall I run, or which way flie
The sight of this so horrid spectacle
Which earst my eyes beheld and yet behold;
For dire imagination still persues me.
But providence or instinct of nature seems, [ 1545 ]
Or reason though disturb’d, and scarce consulted
To have guided me aright, I know not how,
To thee first reverend Manoa, and to these
My Countreymen, whom here I knew remaining,
As at some distance from the place of horrour, [ 1550 ]
So in the sad event too much concern’d.
Man. The accident was loud, & here before thee
With rueful cry, yet what it was we hear not,
No Preface needs, thou seest we long to know.
Mess. It would burst forth, but I recover breath [ 1555 ]
And sense distract, to know well what I utter.
Man. Tell us the sum, the circumstance defer.
Mess. Gaza yet stands, but all her Sons are fall’n,
All in a moment overwhelm’d and fall’n.
Man. Sad, but thou knowst to Israelites not saddest [ 1560 ]
The desolation of a Hostile City.
Mess. Feed on that first, there may in grief be surfet.
Man. Relate by whom. Mess. By Samson. Man. That still lessens
The sorrow, and converts it nigh to joy.
Mess. Ah Manoa I refrain, too suddenly [ 1565 ]
To utter what will come at last too soon;
Lest evil tidings with too rude irruption
Hitting thy aged ear should pierce too deep.
Man. Suspense in news is torture, speak them out.
Mess. Then take the worst in brief, Samson is dead. [ 1570 ]
Man. The worst indeed, O all my hope’s defeated
To free him hence! but death who sets all free
Hath paid his ransom now and full discharge.
What windy joy this day had I conceiv’d
Hopeful of his Delivery, which now proves [ 1575 ]
Abortive as the first-born bloom of spring
Nipt with the lagging rear of winters frost.
Yet e’re I give the reins to grief, say first,
How dy’d he? death to life is crown or shame.
All by him fell thou say’st, by whom fell he, [ 1580 ]
What glorious hand gave Samson his deaths wound?
Mess. Unwounded of his enemies he fell.
Man. Wearied with slaughter then or how? explain.
Mess. By his own hands. Man. Self-violence? what cause
Brought him so soon at variance with himself [ 1585 ]
Among his foes? Mess. Inevitable cause
At once both to destroy and be destroy’d;
The Edifice where all were met to see him
Upon thir heads and on his own he pull’d.
Man. O lastly over-strong against thy self! [ 1590 ]
A dreadful way thou took’st to thy revenge.
More then anough we know; but while things yet
Are in confusion, give us if thou canst,
Eye-witness of what first or last was done,
Relation more particular and distinct. [ 1595 ]
Mess. Occasions drew me early to this City,
And as the gates I enter’d with Sun-rise,
The morning Trumpets Festival proclaim’d
Through each high street: little I had dispatch’t
When all abroad was rumour’d that this day [ 1600 ]
Samson should be brought forth to shew the people
Proof of his mighty strength in feats and games;
I sorrow’d at his captive state, but minded
Not to be absent at that spectacle.
The building was a spacious Theatre [ 1605 ]
Half round on two main Pillars vaulted high,
With seats where all the Lords and each degree
Of sort, might sit in order to behold,
The other side was op’n, where the throng
On banks and scaffolds under Skie might stand; [ 1610 ]
I among these aloof obscurely stood.
The Feast and noon grew high, and Sacrifice
Had fill’d thir hearts with mirth, high cheare, & wine,
When to thir sports they turn’d. Immediately
Was Samson as a public servant brought, [ 1615 ]
In thir state Livery clad; before him Pipes
And Timbrels, on each side went armed guards,
Both horse and foot before him and behind
Archers, and Slingers, Cataphracts and Spears.
At sight of him the people with a shout [ 1620 ]
Rifted the Air clamouring thir god with praise,
Who had made thir dreadful enemy thir thrall.
He patient but undaunted where they led him,
Came to the place, and what was set before him
Which without help of eye, might be assay’d, [ 1625 ]
To heave, pull, draw, or break, he still perform’d
All with incredible, stupendious force,
None daring to appear Antagonist.
At length for intermission sake they led him
Between the pillars; he his guide requested [ 1630 ]
(For so from such as nearer stood we heard)
As over-tir’d to let him lean a while
With both his arms on those two massie Pillars
That to the arched roof gave main support.
He unsuspitious led him; which when Samson [ 1635 ]
Felt in his arms, with head a while enclin’d,
And eyes fast fixt he stood, as one who pray’d,
Or some great matter in his mind revolv’d.
At last with head erect thus cryed aloud,
Hitherto, Lords, what your commands impos’d [ 1640 ]
I have perform’d, as reason was, obeying,
Not without wonder or delight beheld.
Now of my own accord such other tryal
I mean to shew you of my strength, yet greater;
As with amaze shall strike all who behold. [ 1645 ]
This utter’d, straining all his nerves he bow’d,
As with the force of winds and waters pent,
When Mountains tremble, those two massie Pillars
With horrible convulsion to and fro,
He tugg’d, he shook, till down thy came and drew [ 1650 ]
The whole roof after them, with burst of thunder
Upon the heads of all who sate beneath,
Lords, Ladies, Captains, Councellors, or Priests,
Thir choice nobility and flower, not only
Of this but each Philistian City round [ 1655 ]
Met from all parts to solemnize this Feast.
Samson with these immixt, inevitably
Pulld down the same destruction on himself;
The vulgar only scap’d who stood without.
Chor. O dearly-bought revenge, yet glorious! [ 1660 ]
Living or dying thou hast fulfill’d
The work for which thou wast foretold
To Israel, and now ly’st victorious
Among thy slain self-kill’d
Not willingly, but tangl’d in the fold [ 1665 ]
Of dire necessity, whose law in death conjoin’d
Thee with thy slaughter’d foes in number more
Then all thy life had slain before.
Semichor. While thir hearts were jocund and sublime,
Drunk with Idolatry, drunk with Wine, [ 1670 ]
And fat regorg’d of Bulls and Goats,
Chaunting thir Idol, and preferring
Before our living Dread who dwells
In Silo his bright Sanctuary:
Among them he a spirit of phrenzy sent, [ 1675 ]
Who hurt thir minds,
And urg’d them on with mad desire
To call in hast for thir destroyer;
They only set on sport and play
Unweetingly importun’d [ 1680 ]
Thir own destruction to come speedy upon them.
So fond are mortal men
Fall’n into wrath divine,
As thir own ruin on themselves to invite,
Insensate left, or to sense reprobate, [ 1685 ]
And with blindness internal struck.
Semichor. But he though blind of sight,
Despis’d and thought extinguish’t quite,
With inward eyes illuminated
His fierie vertue rouz’d [ 1690 ]
From under ashes into sudden flame,
And as an ev’ning Dragon came,
Assailant on the perched roosts,
And nests in order rang’d
Of tame villatic Fowl; but as an Eagle [ 1695 ]
His cloudless thunder bolted on thir heads.
So vertue giv’n for lost,
Deprest, and overthrown, as seem’d,
Like that self-begott’n bird
In the Arabian woods embost, [ 1700 ]
That no second knows nor third,
And lay e’re while a Holocaust,
From out her ashie womb now teem’d
Revives, reflourishes, then vigorous most
When most unactive deem’d, [ 1705 ]
And though her body die, her fame survives,
A secular bird ages of lives.
Man. Come, come, no time for lamentation now,
Nor much more cause, Samson hath quit himself
Like Samson, and heroicly hath finish’d [ 1710 ]
A life Heroic, on his Enemies
Fully reveng’d, hath left them years of mourning,
And lamentation to the Sons of Caphtor
Through all Philistian bounds. To Israel
Honour hath left, and freedom, let but them [ 1715 ]
Find courage to lay hold on this occasion,
To himself and Fathers house eternal fame;
And which is best and happiest yet, all this
With God not parted from him, as was fear’d,
But favouring and assisting to the end. [ 1720 ]
Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail
Or knock the breast, no weakness, no contempt,
Dispraise, or blame, nothing but well and fair,
And what may quiet us in a death so noble.
Let us go find the body where it lies [ 1725 ]
Sok’t in his enemies blood, and from the stream
With lavers pure and cleansing herbs wash off
The clotted gore. I with what speed the while
(Gaza is not in plight to say us nay)
Will send for all my kindred, all my friends [ 1730 ]
To fetch him hence and solemnly attend
With silent obsequie and funeral train
Home to his Fathers house: there will I build him
A Monument, and plant it round with shade
Of Laurel ever green, and branching Palm, [ 1735 ]
With all his Trophies hung, and Acts enroll’d
In copious Legend, or sweet Lyric Song.
Thither shall all the valiant youth resort,
And from his memory inflame thir breasts
To matchless valour, and adventures high: [ 1740 ]
The Virgins also shall on feastful days
Visit his Tomb with flowers, only bewailing
His lot unfortunate in nuptial choice,
From whence captivity and loss of eyes.
Chor. All is best, though we oft doubt, [ 1745 ]
What th’ unsearchable dispose
Of highest wisdom brings about,
And ever best found in the close.
Oft he seems to hide his face,
But unexpectedly returns [ 1750 ]
And to his faithful Champion hath in place
Bore witness gloriously; whence Gaza mourns
And all that band them to resist
His uncontroulable intent,
His servants he with new acquist [ 1755 ]
Of true experience from this great event
With peace and consolation hath dismist,
And calm of mind all passion spent.
* * * * *
[Crisis Chronicles thanks http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/samson/drama/index.shtml.]
CHRIS. CHRISTOPHERSON, captain of the barge “Simeon Winthrop”
ANNA CHRISTOPHERSON, Chris’s daughter
THREE MEN OF A STEAMER’S CREW
MAT BURKE, a stoker
JOHNSON, deckhand on the barge
ACT I: “Johnny-the-Priest’s” saloon near the waterfront. New York City.
ACT II: The barge, Simeon Winthrop, at anchor in the harbor of Provincetown, Mass. Ten days later.
ACT III: Cabin of the barge, at dock in Boston. A week later.
ACT IV: The same. Two days later.
Time of the Play—About 1910.
SCENE–Same as Act Three, about nine o’clock of a foggy night two days later. The whistles of steamers in the harbor can be heard. The cabin is lighted by a small lamp on the table. A suitcase stands in the middle of the floor. ANNA is sitting in the rocking- chair. She wears a hat, is all dressed up as in Act One. Her face is pale, looks terribly tired and worn, as if the two days just past had been ones of suffering and sleepless nights. She stares before her despondently, her chin in her hands. There is a timid knock on the door in rear. ANNA jumps to her feet with a startled exclamation and looks toward the door with an expression of mingled hope and fear.
ANNA–[Faintly.] Come in. [Then summoning her courage–more resolutely.] Come in. [The door is opened and CHRIS appears in the doorway. He is in a very bleary, bedraggled condition, suffering from the after effects of his drunk. A tin pail full of foaming beer is in his hand. He comes forward, his eyes avoiding ANNA’S. He mutters stupidly.] It’s foggy.
ANNA–[Looking him over with contempt.] So you come back at last, did you? You’re a fine looking sight! [Then jeeringly.] I thought you’d beaten it for good on account of the disgrace I’d brought on you.
CHRIS–[Wincing-faintly.] Don’t say dat, Anna, please! [He sits in a chair by the table, setting down the can of beer, holding his head in his hands]
ANNA–[Looks at him with a certain sympathy.] What’s the trouble? Feeling sick?
CHRIS–[Dully.] Inside my head feel sick.
ANNA–Well, what d’you expect after being soused for two days? [Resentfully.] It serves you right. A fine thing–you leaving me alone on this barge all that time!
CHRIS–[Humbly.] Ay’m sorry, Anna.
CHRIS–But Ay’m not sick inside head vay you mean. Ay’m sick from tank too much about you, about me.
ANNA–And how about me? D’you suppose I ain’t been thinking, too?
CHRIS–Ay’m sorry, Anna. [He sees her bag and gives a start] You pack your bag, Anna? You vas going–?
ANNA–[Forcibly.] Yes, I was going right back to what you think.
ANNA–I went ashore to get a train for New York. I’d been waiting and waiting ’till I was sick of it. Then I changed my mind and decided not to go to-day. But I’m going first thing to-morrow, so it’ll all be the same in the end.
CHRIS–[Raising his head–pleadingly] No, you never do dat, Anna!
ANNA–[With a sneer.] Why not, I’d like to know?
CHRIS–You don’t never gat to do–dat vay–no more, Ay tal you. Ay fix dat up all right.
ANNA–[Suspiciously.] Fix what up?
CHRIS–[Not seeming to have heard her question–sadly.] You vas vaiting, you say? You vasn’t vaiting for me, Ay bet.
ANNA–[Callously.] You’d win.
CHRIS–For dat Irish fallar?
ANNA–[Defiantly.] Yes–if you want to know! [Then with a forlorn laugh.] If he did come back it’d only because he wanted to beat me up or kill me, I suppose. But even if he did, I’d rather have him come than not show up at all. I wouldn’t care what he did.
CHRIS–Ay guess it’s true you vas in love with him all right.
CHRIS–[Turning to her earnestly.] And Ay’m sorry for you like hell he don’t come, Anna!
ANNA–[Softened.] Seems to me you’ve changed your tune a lot.
CHRIS–Ay’ve been tanking, and Ay guess it vas all my fault–all bad tangs dat happen to you. [Pleadingly.] You try for not hate me, Anna. Ay’m crazy ole fool, dat’s all.
ANNA–Who said I hated you?
CHRIS–Ay’m sorry for everytang Ay do wrong for you, Anna. Ay vant for you be happy all rest of your life for make up! It make you happy marry dat Irish fallar, Ay vant it, too.
ANNA–[Dully.]–Well, there ain’t no chance. But I’m glad you think different about it, anyway.
CHRIS–[Supplicatingly.] And you tank–maybe–you forgive me sometime?
ANNA–[With a wan smile.] I’ll forgive you right now.
CHRIS–[Seizing her hand and kissing it–brokenly.] Anna lilla! Anna lilla!
ANNA–[Touched but a bit embarrassed.] Don’t bawl about it. There ain’t nothing to forgive, anyway. It ain’t your fault, and it ain’t mine, and it ain’t his neither. We’re all poor nuts, and things happen, and we yust get mixed in wrong, that’s all.
CHRIS–[Eagerly.] You say right tang, Anna, py golly! It ain’t nobody’s fault! [Shaking his fist.] It’s dat ole davil, sea!
ANNA–[With an exasperated laugh.] Gee, won’t you ever can that stuff? [CHRIS relapses into injured silence. After a pause ANNA continues curiously.] You said a minute ago you’d fixed something up–about me. What was it?
CHRIS–[After a hesitating pause.] Ay’m shipping avay on sea again, Anna.
CHRIS–Ay sign on steamer sail to-morrow. Ay gat my ole yob– bo’sun. [ANNA stares at him. As he goes on, a bitter smile comes over her face.] Ay tank dat’s best tang for you. Ay only bring you bad luck, Ay tank. Ay make your mo’der’s life sorry. Ay don’t vant make yours dat way, but Ay do yust same. Dat ole davil, sea, she make me Yonah man ain’t no good for nobody. And Ay tank now it ain’t no use fight with sea. No man dat live going to beat her, py yingo!
ANNA–[With a laugh of helpless bitterness.] So that’s how you’ve fixed me, is it?
CHRIS–Yes, Ay tank if dat ole davil gat me back she leave you alone den.
ANNA–[Bitterly.] But, for Gawd’s sake, don’t you see, you’re doing the same thing you’ve always done? Don’t you see–? [But she sees the look of obsessed stubbornness on her father’s face and gives it up helplessly.] But what’s the use of talking. You ain’t right, that’s what. I’ll never blame you for nothing no more. But how you could figure out that was fixing me–!
CHRIS–Dat ain’t all. Ay gat dem fallars in steam-ship office to pay you all money coming to me every month vhile Ay’m avay.
ANNA–[With a hard laugh.] Thanks. But I guess I won’t be hard up for no small change.
CHRIS–[Hurt–humbly.] It ain’t much, Ay know, but it’s plenty for keep you so you never gat go.
ANNA–[Shortly.] Shut up, will you? We’ll talk about it later, see?
CHRIS–[After a pause–ingratiatingly.] You like Ay go ashore look for dat Irish fallar, Anna?
ANNA–[Angrily.] Not much! Think I want to drag him back?
CHRIS–[After a pause–uncomfortably.] Py golly, dat booze don’t go veil. Give me fever, Ay tank, Ay feel hot like hell. [He takes off his coat and lets it drop on the floor. There is a loud thud.]
ANNA–[With a start.] What you got in your pocket, for Pete’s sake–a ton of lead? [She reaches down, takes the coat and pulls out a revolver–looks from it to him in amazement.] A gun? What were you doing with this?
CHRIS–[Sheepishly.] Ay forgat. Ain’t nutting. Ain’t loaded, anyvay.
ANNA–[Breaking it open to make sure–then closing it again– looking at him suspiciously.] That ain’t telling me why you got it?
CHRIS–[Sheepishly.] Ay’m ole fool. Ay gat it vhen Ay go ashore first. Ay tank den it’s all fault of dat Irish fallar.
ANNA–[With a shudder.] Say, you’re crazier than I thought. I never dreamt you’d go that far.
CHRIS–[Quickly.] Ay don’t. Ay gat better sense right avay. Ay don’t never buy bullets even. It ain’t his fault, Ay know.
ANNA–[Still suspicious of him.] Well, I’ll take care of this for a while, loaded or not. [She puts it in the drawer of table and closes the drawer.]
CHRIS–[Placatingly.] Throw it overboard if you vant. Ay don’t care, [Then after a pause.] Py golly, Ay tank Ay go lie down. Ay feel sick. [ANNA takes a magazine from the table. CHRIS hesitates by her chair.] Ve talk again before Ay go, yes?
ANNA–[Dully.] Where’s this ship going to?
CHRIS–Cape Town. Dat’s in South Africa. She’s British steamer called Londonderry. [He stands hesitatingly–finally blurts out.] Anna–you forgive me sure?
ANNA–[Wearily.] Sure I do. You ain’t to blame. You’re yust–what you are–like me.
CHRIS–[Pleadingly.] Den–you lat me kiss you again once?
ANNA–[Raising her face–forcing a wan smile.] Sure. No hard feelings.
CHRIS–[Kisses her–brokenly.] Anna lilla! Ay–[He fights for words to express himself, but finds none–miserably–with a sob.] Ay can’t say it. Good-night, Anna.
ANNA–Good-night. [He picks up the can of beer and goes slowly into the room on left, his shoulders bowed, his head sunk forward dejectedly. He closes the door after him. ANNA turns over the pages of the magazine, trying desperately to banish her thoughts by looking at the pictures. This fails to distract her, and flinging the magazine back on the table, she springs to her feet and walks about the cabin distractedly, clenching and unclenching her hands. She speaks aloud to herself in a tense, trembling voice.] Gawd, I can’t stand this much longer! What am I waiting for anyway?–like a damn fool! [She laughs helplessly, then checks herself abruptly, as she hears the sound of heavy footsteps on the deck outside. She appears to recognize these and her face lights up with joy. She gasps:] Mat! [A strange terror seems suddenly to seize her. She rushes to the table, takes the revolver out of drawer and crouches down in the corner, left, behind the cupboard. A moment later the door is flung open and MAT BURKE appears in the doorway. He is in bad shape–his clothes torn and dirty, covered with sawdust as if he had been grovelling or sleeping on barroom floors. There is a red bruise on his forehead over one of his eyes, another over one cheekbone, his knuckles are skinned and raw–plain evidence of the fighting he has been through on his “bat.” His eyes are bloodshot and heavy-lidded, his face has a bloated look. But beyond these appearances–the results of heavy drinking–there is an expression in his eyes of wild mental turmoil, of impotent animal rage baffled by its own abject misery.]
BURKE–[Peers blinkingly about the cabin–hoarsely.] Let you not be hiding from me, whoever’s here–though ’tis well you know I’d have a right to come back and murder you. [He stops to listen. Hearing no sound, he closes the door behind him and comes forward to the table. He throws himself into the rocking-chair– despondently.] There’s no one here, I’m thinking, and ’tis a great fool I am to be coming. [With a sort of dumb, uncomprehending anguish.] Yerra, Mat Burke, ’tis a great jackass you’ve become and what’s got into you at all, at all? She’s gone out of this long ago, I’m telling you, and you’ll never see her face again. [ANNA stands up, hesitating, struggling between joy and fear. BURKE’S eyes fall on ANNA’S bag. He leans over to examine it.] What’s this? [Joyfully.] It’s hers. She’s not gone! But where is she? Ashore? [Darkly.] What would she be doing ashore on this rotten night? [His face suddenly convulsed with grief and rage.] ‘Tis that, is it? Oh, God’s curse on her! [Raging.] I’ll wait ’till she comes and choke her dirty life out. [ANNA starts, her face grows hard. She steps into the room, the revolver in her right hand by her side.]
ANNA–[In a cold, hard tone.] What are you doing here?
BURKE–[Wheeling about with a terrified gasp] Glory be to God! [They remain motionless and silent for a moment, holding each other’s eyes.]
ANNA–[In the same hard voice] Well, can’t you talk?
BURKE–[Trying to fall into an easy, careless tone] You’ve a year’s growth scared out of me, coming at me so sudden and me thinking I was alone.
ANNA–You’ve got your nerve butting in here without knocking or nothing. What d’you want?
BURKE–[Airily] Oh, nothing much. I was wanting to have a last word with you, that’s all. [He moves a step toward her.]
ANNA–[Sharply–raising the revolver in her hand.] Careful now! Don’t try getting too close. I heard what you said you’d do to me.
BURKE–[Noticing the revolver for the first time.] Is it murdering me you’d be now, God forgive you? [Then with a contemptuous laugh.] Or is it thinking I’d be frightened by that old tin whistle? [He walks straight for her.]
ANNA–[Wildly.] Look out, I tell you!
BURKE–[Who has come so close that the revolver is almost touching his chest.] Let you shoot, then! [Then with sudden wild grief.] Let you shoot, I’m saying, and be done with it! Let you end me with a shot and I’ll be thanking you, for it’s a rotten dog’s life I’ve lived the past two days since I’ve known what you are, ’til I’m after wishing I was never born at all!
ANNA–[Overcome–letting the revolver drop to the floor, as if her fingers had no strength to hold it–hysterically.] What d’you want coming here? Why don’t you beat it? Go on! [She passes him and sinks down in the rocking-chair.]
BURKE–[Following her–mournfully.] ‘Tis right you’d be asking why did I come. [Then angrily.] ‘Tis because ’tis a great weak fool of the world I am, and me tormented with the wickedness you’d told of yourself, and drinking oceans of booze that’d make me forget. Forget? Divil a word I’d forget, and your face grinning always in front of my eyes, awake or asleep, ’til I do be thinking a madhouse is the proper place for me.
ANNA–[Glancing at his hands and–face–scornfully] You look like you ought to be put away some place. Wonder you wasn’t pulled in. You been scrapping, too, ain’t you?
BURKE–I have–with every scut would take off his coat to me! [Fiercely.] And each time I’d be hitting one a clout in the mug, it wasn’t his face I’d be seeing at all, but yours, and me wanting to drive you a blow would knock you out of this world where I wouldn’t be seeing or thinking more of you.
ANNA–[Her lips trembling pitifully] Thanks!
BURKE–[Walking up and down–distractedly.] That’s right, make game of me! Oh, I’m a great coward surely, to be coming back to speak with you at all. You’ve a right to laugh at me.
ANNA–I ain’t laughing at you, Mat.
BURKE–[Unheeding.] You to be what you are, and me to be Mat Burke, and me to be drove back to look at you again! ‘Tis black shame is on me!
ANNA–[Resentfully.] Then get out. No one’s holding you!
BURKE–[Bewilderedly] And me to listen to that talk from a woman like you and be frightened to close her mouth with a slap! Oh, God help me, I’m a yellow coward for all men to spit at! [Then furiously] But I’ll not be getting out of this ’till I’ve had me word. [Raising his fist threateningly] And let you look out how you’d drive me! [Letting his fist fall helplessly] Don’t be angry now! I’m raving like a real lunatic, I’m thinking, and the sorrow you put on me has my brains drownded in grief. [Suddenly bending down to her and grasping her arm intensely] Tell me it’s a lie, I’m saying! That’s what I’m after coming to hear you say.
ANNA–[Dully] A lie? What?
BURKE–[With passionate entreaty] All the badness you told me two days back. Sure it must be a lie! You was only making game of me, wasn’t you? Tell me ’twas a lie, Anna, and I’ll be saying prayers of thanks on my two knees to the Almighty God!
ANNA–[Terribly shaken–faintly.] I can’t. Mat. [As he turns away– imploringly.] Oh, Mat, won’t you see that no matter what I was I ain’t that any more? Why, listen! I packed up my bag this afternoon and went ashore. I’d been waiting here all alone for two days, thinking maybe you’d come back–thinking maybe you’d think over all I’d said–and maybe–oh, I don’t know what I was hoping! But I was afraid to even go out of the cabin for a second, honest– afraid you might come and not find me here. Then I gave up hope when you didn’t show up and I went to the railroad station. I was going to New York. I was going back–
BURKE–[Hoarsely.] God’s curse on you!
ANNA–Listen, Mat! You hadn’t come, and I’d gave up hope. But–in the station–I couldn’t go. I’d bought my ticket and everything. [She takes the ticket from her dress and tries to hold it before his eyes.] But I got to thinking about you–and I couldn’t take the train–I couldn’t! So I come back here–to wait some more. Oh, Mat, don’t you see I’ve changed? Can’t you forgive what’s dead and gone–and forget it?
BURKE–[Turning on her–overcome by rage again.] Forget, is it? I’ll not forget ’til my dying day, I’m telling you, and me tormented with thoughts. [In a frenzy.] Oh, I’m wishing I had wan of them fornenst me this minute and I’d beat him with my fists ’till he’d be a bloody corpse! I’m wishing the whole lot of them will roast in hell ’til the Judgment Day–and yourself along with them, for you’re as bad as they are.
ANNA–[Shuddering.] Mat! [Then after a pause–in a voice of dead, stony calm.] Well, you’ve had your say. Now you better beat it.
BURKE–[Starts slowly for the door–hesitates–then after a pause.] And what’ll you be doing?
ANNA–What difference does it make to you?
BURKE–I’m asking you!
ANNA–[In the same tone.] My bag’s packed and I got my ticket. I’ll go to New York to-morrow.
BURKE–[Helplessly.] You mean–you’ll be doing the same again?
BURKE–[In anguish.] You’ll not! Don’t torment me with that talk! ‘Tis a she-divil you are sent to drive me mad entirely!
ANNA–[Her voice breaking.] Oh, for Gawd’s sake, Mat, leave me alone! Go away! Don’t you see I’m licked? Why d’you want to keep on kicking me?
BURKE–[Indignantly.] And don’t you deserve the worst I’d say, God forgive you?
ANNA–All right. Maybe I do. But don’t rub it in. Why ain’t you done what you said you was going to? Why ain’t you got that ship was going to take you to the other side of the earth where you’d never see me again?
ANNA–[Startled.] What–then you’re going–honest?
BUEKE–I signed on to-day at noon, drunk as I was–and she’s sailing to-morrow.
ANNA–And where’s she going to?
ANNA–[The memory of having heard that name a little while before coming to her–with a start, confusedly.] Cape Town? Where’s that. Far away?
BURKE–‘Tis at the end of Africa. That’s far for you.
ANNA–[Forcing a laugh.] You’re keeping your word all right, ain’t you? [After a slight pause–curiously.] What’s the boat’s name?
ANNA–[It suddenly comes to her that this is the same ship her father is sailing on.] The Londonderry! It’s the same–Oh, this is too much! [With wild, ironical laughter.] Ha-ha-ha!
BURKE–What’s up with you now?
ANNA–Ha-ha-ha! It’s funny, funny! I’ll die laughing!
BURKE–[Irritated.] Laughing at what?
ANNA–It’s a secret. You’ll know soon enough. It’s funny. [Controlling herself–after a pause–cynically.] What kind of a place is this Cape Town? Plenty of dames there, I suppose?
BURKE–To hell with them! That I may never see another woman to my dying hour!
ANNA–That’s what you say now, but I’ll bet by the time you get there you’ll have forgot all about me and start in talking the same old bull you talked to me to the first one you meet.
BURKE–[Offended.] I’ll not, then! God mend you, is it making me out to be the like of yourself you are, and you taking up with this one and that all the years of your life?
ANNA–[Angrily assertive.] Yes, that’s yust what I do mean! You been doing the same thing all your life, picking up a new girl in every port. How’re you any better than I was?
BURKE–[Thoroughly exasperated.] Is it no shame you have at all? I’m a fool to be wasting talk on you and you hardened in badness. I’ll go out of this and lave you alone forever. [He starts for the door–then stops to turn on her furiously] And I suppose ’tis the same lies you told them all before that you told to me?
ANNA–[Indignantly.] That’s a lie! I never did!
BURKE–[Miserably.] You’d be saying that, anyway.
ANNA–[Forcibly, with growing intensity.] Are you trying to accuse me–of being in love–really in love–with them?
BURKE–I’m thinking you were, surely.
ANNA–[Furiously, as if this were the last insult–advancing on him threateningly] You mutt, you! I’ve stood enough from you. Don’t you dare. [With scornful bitterness.] Love ’em! Oh, my Gawd! You damn thick-head! Love ’em? [Savagely.] I hated ’em, I tell you! Hated ’em, hated ’em, hated ’em! And may Gawd strike me dead this minute and my mother, too, if she was alive, if I ain’t telling you the honest truth!
BURKE–[Immensely pleased by her vehemence–a light beginning to break over his face–but still uncertain, torn between doubt and the desire to believe–helplessly.] If I could only be believing you now!
ANNA–[Distractedly.] Oh, what’s the use? What’s the use of me talking? What’s the use of anything? [Pleadingly.] Oh, Mat, you mustn’t think that for a second! You mustn’t! Think all the other bad about me you want to, and I won’t kick, ’cause you’ve a right to. But don’t think that! [On the point of tears.] I couldn’t bear it! It’d be yust too much to know you was going away where I’d never see you again–thinking that about me!
BURKE–[After an inward struggle–tensely–forcing out the words with difficulty.] If I was believing–that you’d never had love for any other man in the world but me–I could be forgetting the rest, maybe.
ANNA–[With a cry of joy.] Mat!
BURKE–[Slowly.] If ’tis truth you’re after telling, I’d have a right, maybe, to believe you’d changed–and that I’d changed you myself ’til the thing you’d been all your life wouldn’t be you any more at all.
ANNA–[Hanging on his words–breathlessly.] Oh, Mat! That’s what I been trying to tell you all along!
BURKE–[Simply.] For I’ve a power of strength in me to lead men the way I want, and women, too, maybe, and I’m thinking I’d change you to a new woman entirely, so I’d never know, or you either, what kind of woman you’d been in the past at all.
ANNA–Yes, you could, Mat! I know you could!
BURKE–And I’m thinking ’twasn’t your fault, maybe, but having that old ape for a father that left you to grow up alone, made you what you was. And if I could be believing ’tis only me you–
ANNA–[Distractedly.] You got to believe it. Mat! What can I do? I’ll do anything, anything you want to prove I’m not lying!
BURKE–[Suddenly seems to have a solution. He feels in the pocket of his coat and grasps something–solemnly.] Would you be willing to swear an oath, now–a terrible, fearful oath would send your soul to the divils in hell if you was lying?
ANNA–[Eagerly.] Sure, I’ll swear, Mat–on anything!
BURKE–[Takes a small, cheap old crucifix from his pocket and holds it up for her to see.] Will you swear on this?
ANNA–[Reaching out for it.] Yes. Sure I will. Give it to me.
BURKE–[Holding it away.] ‘Tis a cross was given me by my mother, God rest her soul. [He makes the sign of the cross mechanically.] I was a lad only, and she told me to keep it by me if I’d be waking or sleeping and never lose it, and it’d bring me luck. She died soon after. But I’m after keeping it with me from that day to this, and I’m telling you there’s great power in it, and ’tis great bad luck it’s saved me from and me roaming the seas, and I having it tied round my neck when my last ship sunk, and it bringing me safe to land when the others went to their death. [Very earnestly.] And I’m warning you now, if you’d swear an oath on this, ’tis my old woman herself will be looking down from Hivin above, and praying Almighty God and the Saints to put a great curse on you if she’d hear you swearing a lie!
ANNA–[Awed by his manner–superstitiously] I wouldn’t have the nerve–honest–if it was a lie. But it’s the truth and I ain’t scared to swear. Give it to me.
BURKE–[Handing it to her–almost frightenedly, as if he feared for her safety.] Be careful what you’d swear, I’m saying.
ANNA–[Holding the cross gingerly.] Well–what do you want me to swear? You say it.
BURKE–Swear I’m the only man in the world ivir you felt love for.
ANNA–[Looking into his eyes steadily] I swear it.
BURKE–And that you’ll be forgetting from this day all the badness you’ve done and never do the like of it again.
ANNA–[Forcibly.] I swear it! I swear it by God!
BURKE–And may the blackest curse of God strike you if you’re lying. Say it now!
ANNA–And may the blackest curse of God strike me if I’m lying!
BURKE–[With a stupendous sigh.] Oh, glory be to God, I’m after believing you now! [He takes the cross from her hand, his face beaming with joy, and puts it back in his pocket. He puts his arm about her waist and is about to kiss her when he stops, appalled by some terrible doubt.]
ANNA–[Alarmed.] What’s the matter with you?
BURKE–[With sudden fierce questioning.] Is it Catholic ye are?
ANNA–[Confused.] No. Why?
BURKE–[Filled with a sort of bewildered foreboding.] Oh, God, help me! [With a dark glance of suspicion at her.] There’s some divil’s trickery in it, to be swearing an oath on a Catholic cross and you wan of the others.
ANNA–[Distractedly.] Oh, Mat, don’t you believe me?
BURKE–[Miserably.] If it isn’t a Catholic you are–
ANNA–I ain’t nothing. What’s the difference? Didn’t you hear me swear?
BURKE–[Passionately.] Oh, I’d a right to stay away from you–but I couldn’t! I was loving you in spite of it all and wanting to be with you, God forgive me, no matter what you are. I’d go mad if I’d not have you! I’d be killing the world–[He seizes her in his arms and kisses her fiercely.]
ANNA–[With a gasp of joy.] Mat!
BURKE–[Suddenly holding her away from him and staring into her eyes as if to probe into her soul–slowly.] If your oath is no proper oath at all, I’ll have to be taking your naked word for it and have you anyway, I’m thinking–I’m needing you that bad!
ANNA–[Hurt–reproachfully.] Mat! I swore, didn’t I?
BURKE–[Defiantly, as if challenging fate.] Oath or no oath, ’tis no matter. We’ll be wedded in the morning, with the help of God. [Still more defiantly.] We’ll be happy now, the two of us, in spite of the divil! [He crushes her to him and kisses her again. The door on the left is pushed open and CHRIS appears in the doorway. He stands blinking at them. At first the old expression of hatred of BURKE comes into his eyes instinctively. Then a look of resignation and relief takes its place. His face lights up with a sudden happy thought. He turns back into the bedroom–reappears immediately with the tin can of beer in his hand grinning.]
CHRIS–Me have drink on this, py golly! [They break away from each other with startled exclamations.]
BURKE–[Explosively.] God stiffen it! [He takes a step toward CHRIS threateningly.]
ANNA–[Happily–to her father.] That’s the way to talk! [With a laugh.] And say, it’s about time for you and Mat to kiss and make up. You’re going to be shipmates on the Londonderry, did you know it?
BURKE–[Astounded.] Shipmates–Has himself–
CHRIS–[Equally astounded.] Ay vas bo’sun on her.
BURKE–The divil! [Then angrily.] You’d be going back to sea and leaving her alone, would you?
ANNA–[Quickly.] It’s all right, Mat. That’s where he belongs, and I want him to go. You got to go, too; we’ll need the money. [With a laugh, as she gets the glasses.] And as for me being alone, that runs in the family, and I’ll get used to it. [Pouring out their glasses.] I’ll get a little house somewhere and I’ll make a regular place for you two to come back to,–wait and see. And now you drink up and be friends.
BURKE–[Happily–but still a bit resentful against the old man.] Sure! [Clinking his glass against CHRIS’.] Here’s luck to you! [He drinks.]
CHRIS–[Subdued–his face melancholy.] Skoal. [He drinks.]
BURKE–[To Anna, with a wink.] You’ll not be lonesome long. I’ll see to that, with the help of God. ‘Tis himself here will be having a grandchild to ride on his foot, I’m telling you!
ANNA–[Turning away in embarrassment.] Quit the kidding, now. [She picks up her bag and goes into the room on left. As soon as she is gone BURKE relapses into an attitude of gloomy thought. CHRIS stares at his beer absent-mindedly. Finally BURKE turns on him.]
BURKE–Is it any religion at all you have, you and your Anna?
CHRIS–[Surprised.] Vhy yes. Ve vas Lutheran in ole country.
BURKE–[Horrified.] Luthers, is it? [Then with a grim resignation, slowly, aloud to himself.] Well, damned then surely. Yerra, what’s the difference? ‘Tis the will of God, anyway.
CHRIS–[Moodily preoccupied with his own thoughts–speaks with somber premonition as ANNA re-enters from the left.] It’s funny. It’s queer, yes–you and me shipping on same boat dat vay. It ain’t right. Ay don’t know–it’s dat funny vay ole davil sea do her vorst dirty tricks, yes. It’s so. [He gets up and goes back and, opening the door, stares out into the darkness.]
BURKE–[Nodding his head in gloomy acquiescence–with a great sigh.] I’m fearing maybe you have the right of it for once, divil take you.
ANNA–[Forcing a laugh.] Gee, Mat, you ain’t agreeing with him, are you? [She comes forward and puts her arm about his shoulder– with a determined gaiety.] Aw say, what’s the matter? Cut out the gloom. We’re all fixed now, ain’t we, me and you? [Pours out more beer into his glass and fills one for herself–slaps him on the back.] Come on! Here’s to the sea, no matter what! Be a game sport and drink to that! Come on! [She gulps down her glass. Burke banishes his superstitious premonitions with a defiant jerk of his head, grins up at her, and drinks to her toast.]
CHRIS–[Looking out into the night–lost in his somber preoccupation–shakes his head and mutters.] Fog, fog, fog, all bloody time. You can’t see vhere you vas going, no. Only dat ole davil, sea–she knows! [The two stare at him. From the harbor comes the muffled, mournful wail of steamers’ whistles.]
* * * * *
CHRIS. CHRISTOPHERSON, captain of the barge “Simeon Winthrop”
ANNA CHRISTOPHERSON, Chris’s daughter
THREE MEN OF A STEAMER’S CREW
MAT BURKE, a stoker
JOHNSON, deckhand on the barge
ACT I: “Johnny-the-Priest’s” saloon near the waterfront. New York City.
ACT II: The barge, Simeon Winthrop, at anchor in the harbor of Provincetown, Mass. Ten days later.
ACT III: Cabin of the barge, at dock in Boston. A week later.
ACT IV: The same. Two days later.
Time of the Play—About 1910.
SCENE–The interior of the cabin on the barge, “Simeon Winthrop” (at dock in Boston)–a narrow, low-ceilinged compartment the walls of which are painted a light brown with white trimmings. In the rear on the left, a door leading to the sleeping quarters. In the far left corner, a large locker-closet, painted white, on the door of which a mirror hangs on a nail. In the rear wall, two small square windows and a door opening out on the deck toward the stern. In the right wall, two more windows looking out on the port deck. White curtains, clean and stiff, are at the windows. A table with two cane-bottomed chairs stands in the center of the cabin. A dilapidated, wicker rocker, painted brown, is also by the table.
It is afternoon of a sunny day about a week later. From the harbor and docks outside, muffled by the closed door and windows, comes the sound of steamers’ whistles and the puffing snort of the donkey engines of some ship unloading nearby.
As the curtain rises, CHRIS and ANNA are discovered. ANNA is seated in the rocking-chair by the table, with a newspaper in her hands. She is not reading but staring straight in front of her. She looks unhappy, troubled, frowningly concentrated on her thoughts. CHRIS wanders about the room, casting quick, uneasy side glances at her face, then stopping to peer absentmindedly out of the window. His attitude betrays an overwhelming, gloomy anxiety which has him on tenter hooks. He pretends to be engaged in setting things ship-shape, but this occupation is confined to picking up some object, staring at it stupidly for a second, then aimlessly putting it down again. He clears his throat and starts to sing to himself in a low, doleful voice: “My Yosephine, come aboard de ship. Long time Ay wait for you.”
ANNA–[Turning on him, sarcastically.] I’m glad someone’s feeling good. [Wearily.] Gee, I sure wish we was out of this dump and back in New York.
CHRIS–[With a sigh.] Ay’m glad vhen ve sail again, too. [Then, as she makes no comment, he goes on with a ponderous attempt at sarcasm.] Ay don’t see vhy you don’t like Boston, dough. You have good time here, Ay tank. You go ashore all time, every day and night veek ve’ve been here. You go to movies, see show, gat all kinds fun–[His eyes hard with hatred.] All with that damn Irish fallar!
ANNA–[With weary scorn.] Oh, for heaven’s sake, are you off on that again? Where’s the harm in his taking me around? D’you want me to sit all day and night in this cabin with you–and knit? Ain’t I got a right to have as good a time as I can?
CHRIS–It ain’t right kind of fun–not with that fallar, no.
ANNA–I been back on board every night by eleven, ain’t I? [Then struck by some thought–looks at him with keen suspicion–with rising anger.] Say, look here, what d’you mean by what you yust said?
CHRIS–[Hastily.] Nutting but what Ay say, Anna.
ANNA–You said “ain’t right” and you said it funny. Say, listen here, you ain’t trying to insinuate that there’s something wrong between us, are you?
CHRIS–[Horrified.] No, Anna! No, Ay svear to God, Ay never tank dat!
ANNA–[Mollified by his very evident sincerity–sitting down again.] Well, don’t you never think it neither if you want me ever to speak to you again. [Angrily again.] If I ever dreamt you thought that, I’d get the hell out of this barge so quick you couldn’t see me for dust.
CHRIS–[Soothingly.] Ay wouldn’t never dream–[Then, after a second’s pause, reprovingly.] You vas gatting learn to svear. Dat ain’t nice for young gel, you tank?
ANNA–[With a faint trace of a smile.] Excuse me. You ain’t used to such language, I know. [Mockingly.] That’s what your taking me to sea has done for me.
CHRIS–[Indignantly.] No, it ain’t me. It’s dat damn sailor fallar learn you bad tangs.
ANNA–He ain’t a sailor. He’s a stoker.
CHRIS–[Forcibly.] Dat vas million times vorse, Ay tal you! Dem fallars dat vork below shoveling coal vas de dirtiest, rough gang of no-good fallars in vorld!
ANNA–I’d hate to hear you say that to Mat.
CHRIS–Oh, Ay tal him same tang. You don’t gat it in head Ay’m scared of him yust ’cause he vas stronger’n Ay vas. [Menacingly.] You don’t gat for fight with fists with dem fallars. Dere’s oder vay for fix him.
ANNA–[Glancing at him with sudden alarm.] What d’you mean?
ANNA–You’d better not. I wouldn’t start no trouble with him if I was you. He might forget some time that you was old and my father– and then you’d be out of luck.
CHRIS–[With smouldering hatred.] Vell, yust let him! Ay’m ole bird maybe, but Ay bet Ay show him trick or two.
ANNA–[Suddenly changing her tone–persuasively.] Aw come on, be good. What’s eating you, anyway? Don’t you want no one to be nice to me except yourself?
CHRIS–[Placated–coming to her–eagerly.] Yes, Ay do, Anna–only not fallar on sea. But Ay like for you marry steady fallar got good yob on land. You have little home in country all your own–
ANNA–[Rising to her feet–brusquely.] Oh, cut it out! [Scornfully.] Little home in the country! I wish you could have seen the little home in the country where you had me in jail till I was sixteen! [With rising irritation.] Some day you’re going to get me so mad with that talk, I’m going to turn loose on you and tell you–a lot of things that’ll open your eyes.
CHRIS–[Alarmed.] Ay don’t vant–
ANNA–I know you don’t; but you keep on talking yust the same.
CHRIS–Ay don’t talk no more den, Anna.
ANNA–Then promise me you’ll cut out saying nasty things about Mat Burke every chance you get.
CHRIS–[Evasive and suspicious.] Vhy? You like dat fallar–very much, Anna?
ANNA–Yes, I certainly do! He’s a regular man, no matter what faults he’s got. One of his fingers is worth all the hundreds of men I met out there–inland.
CHRIS–[His face darkening.] Maybe you tank you love him, den?
ANNA–[Defiantly.] What of it if I do?
CHRIS–[Scowling and forcing out the words.] Maybe–you tank you– marry him?
ANNA–[Shaking her head.] No! [CHRIS’ face lights up with relief. ANNA continues slowly, a trace of sadness in her voice.] If I’d met him four years ago–or even two years ago–I’d have jumped at the chance, I tell you that straight. And I would now–only he’s such a simple guy–a big kid–and I ain’t got the heart to fool him. [She breaks off suddenly.] But don’t never say again he ain’t good enough for me. It’s me ain’t good enough for him.
CHRIS–[Snorts scornfully.] Py yiminy, you go crazy, Ay tank!
ANNA–[With a mournful laugh.] Well, I been thinking I was myself the last few days. [She goes and takes a shawl from a hook near the door and throws it over her shoulders.] Guess I’ll take a walk down to the end of the dock for a minute and see what’s doing. I love to watch the ships passing. Mat’ll be along before long, I guess. Tell him where I am, will you?
CHRIS–[Despondently.] All right, Ay tal him. [ANNA goes out the doorway on rear. CHRIS follows her out and stands on the deck outside for a moment looking after her. Then he comes back inside and shuts the door. He stands looking out of the window–mutters– “Dirty die davil, you.” Then he goes to the table, sets the cloth straight mechanically, picks up the newspaper ANNA has let fall to the floor and sits down in the rocking-chair. He stares at the paper for a while, then puts it on table, holds his head in his hands and sighs drearily. The noise of a man’s heavy footsteps comes from the deck outside and there is a loud knock on the door. CHRIS starts, makes a move as if to get up and go to the door, then thinks better of it and sits still. The knock is repeated– then as no answer comes, the door is flung open and MAT BURKE appears. CHRIS scowls at the intruder and his hand instinctively goes back to the sheath knife on his hip. BURKE is dressed up– wears a cheap blue suit, a striped cotton shirt with a black tie, and black shoes newly shined. His face is beaming with good humor.]
BURKE–[As he sees CHRIS–in a jovial tone of mockery.] Well, God bless who’s here! [He bends down and squeezes his huge form through the narrow doorway.] And how is the world treating you this afternoon, Anna’s father?
CHRIS–[Sullenly.] Pooty goot–if it ain’t for some fallars. BURKE–[With a grin.] Meaning me, do you? [He laughs.] Well, if you ain’t the funny old crank of a man! [Then soberly.] Where’s herself? [CHRIS sits dumb, scowling, his eyes averted. BURKE is irritated by this silence.] Where’s Anna, I’m after asking you?
CHRIS–[Hesitating–then grouchily.] She go down end of dock.
BURKE–I’ll be going down to her, then. But first I’m thinking I’ll take this chance when we’re alone to have a word with you. [He sits down opposite CHRIS at the table and leans over toward him.] And that word is soon said. I’m marrying your Anna before this day is out, and you might as well make up your mind to it whether you like it or no.
CHRIS–[Glaring at him with hatred and forcing a scornful laugh.] Ho-ho! Dat’s easy for say!
BURKE–You mean I won’t? [Scornfully.] Is it the like of yourself will stop me, are you thinking?
CHRIS–Yes, Ay stop it, if it come to vorst.
BURKE–[With scornful pity.] God help you!
CHRIS–But ain’t no need for me do dat. Anna–
BURKE–[Smiling confidently.] Is it Anna you think will prevent me?
BURKE–And I’m telling you she’ll not. She knows I’m loving her, and she loves me the same, and I know it.
CHRIS–Ho-ho! She only have fun. She make big fool of you, dat’s all!
BURKE–[Unshaken–pleasantly.] That’s a lie in your throat, divil mend you!
CHRIS–No, it ain’t lie. She tal me yust before she go out she never marry fallar like you.
BURKE–I’ll not believe it. ‘Tis a great old liar you are, and a divil to be making a power of trouble if you had your way. But ’tis not trouble I’m looking for, and me sitting down here. [Earnestly.] Let us be talking it out now as man to man. You’re her father, and wouldn’t it be a shame for us to be at each other’s throats like a pair of dogs, and I married with Anna. So out with the truth, man alive. What is it you’re holding against me at all?
CHRIS–[A bit placated, in spite of himself, by BURKE’S evident sincerity–but puzzled and suspicious.] Vell–Ay don’t vant for Anna gat married. Listen, you fallar. Ay’m a ole man. Ay don’t see Anna for fifteen year. She vas all Ay gat in vorld. And now ven she come on first trip–you tank Ay vant her leave me ‘lone again?
BURKE–[Heartily.] Let you not be thinking I have no heart at all for the way you’d be feeling.
CHRIS–[Astonished and encouraged–trying to plead persuasively.] Den you do right tang, eh? You ship avay again, leave Anna alone. [Cajolingly.] Big fallar like you dat’s on sea, he don’t need vife. He gat new gel in every port, you know dat.
BURKE–[Angry for a second.] God stiffen you! [Then controlling himself–calmly.] I’ll not be giving you the lie on that. But divil take you, there’s a time comes to every man, on sea or land, that isn’t a born fool, when he’s sick of the lot of them cows, and wearing his heart out to meet up with a fine dacent girl, and have a home to call his own and be rearing up children in it. ‘Tis small use you’re asking me to leave Anna. She’s the wan woman of the world for me, and I can’t live without her now, I’m thinking.
CHRIS–You forgat all about her in one veek out of port, Ay bet you!
BUEKE–You don’t know the like I am. Death itself wouldn’t make me forget her. So let you not be making talk to me about leaving her. I’ll not, and be damned to you! It won’t be so bad for you as you’d make out at all. She’ll be living here in the States, and her married to me. And you’d be seeing her often so–a sight more often than ever you saw her the fifteen years she was growing up in the West. It’s quare you’d be the one to be making great trouble about her leaving you when you never laid eyes on her once in all them years.
CHRIS–[Guiltily.] Ay taught it vas better Anna stay avay, grow up inland where she don’t ever know ole davil, sea.
BURKE–[Scornfully.] Is it blaming the sea for your troubles ye are again, God help you? Well, Anna knows it now. ‘Twas in her blood, anyway,
CHRIS–And Ay don’t vant she ever know no-good fallar on sea–
BURKE–She knows one now.
CHRIS–[Banging the table with his fist–furiously.] Dat’s yust it! Dat’s yust what you are–no-good, sailor fallar! You tank Ay lat her life be made sorry by you like her mo’der’s vas by me! No, Ay svear! She don’t marry you if Ay gat kill you first!
BURKE–[Looks at him a moment, in astonishment–then laughing uproariously.] Ho-ho! Glory be to God, it’s bold talk you have for a stumpy runt of a man!
CHRIS–[Threateningly.] Vell–you see!
BURKE–[With grinning defiance.] I’ll see, surely! I’ll see myself and Anna married this day, I’m telling you! [Then with contemptuous exasperation.] It’s quare fool’s blather you have about the sea done this and the sea done that. You’d ought to be shamed to be saying the like, and you an old sailor yourself. I’m after hearing a lot of it from you and a lot more that Anna’s told me you do be saying to her, and I’m thinking it’s a poor weak thing you are, and not a man at all!
CHRIS–[Darkly.] You see if Ay’m man–maybe quicker’n you tank.
BURKE–[Contemptuously.] Yerra, don’t be boasting. I’m thinking ’tis out of your wits you’ve got with fright of the sea. You’d be wishing Anna married to a farmer, she told me. That’d be a swate match, surely! Would you have a fine girl the like of Anna lying down at nights with a muddy scut stinking of pigs and dung? Or would you have her tied for life to the like of them skinny, shrivelled swabs does be working in cities?
CHRIS–Dat’s lie, you fool!
BURKE–‘Tis not. ‘Tis your own mad notions I’m after telling. But you know the truth in your heart, if great fear of the sea has made you a liar and coward itself. [Pounding the table.] The sea’s the only life for a man with guts in him isn’t afraid of his own shadow! ‘Tis only on the sea he’s free, and him roving the face of the world, seeing all things, and not giving a damn for saving up money, or stealing from his friends, or any of the black tricks that a landlubber’d waste his life on. ‘Twas yourself knew it once, and you a bo’sun for years.
CHRIS–[Sputtering with rage.] You vas crazy fool, Ay tal you!
BURKE–You’ve swallowed the anchor. The sea give you a clout once knocked you down, and you’re not man enough to get up for another, but lie there for the rest of your life howling bloody murder. [Proudly.] Isn’t it myself the sea has nearly drowned, and me battered and bate till I was that close to hell I could hear the flames roaring, and never a groan out of me till the sea gave up and it seeing the great strength and guts of a man was in me?
CHRIS–[Scornfully.] Yes, you vas hell of fallar, hear you tal it!
BURKE–[Angrily.] You’ll be calling me a liar once too often, me old bucko! Wasn’t the whole story of it and my picture itself in the newspapers of Boston a week back? [Looking CHRIS up and down belittlingly.] Sure I’d like to see you in the best of your youth do the like of what I done in the storm and after. ‘Tis a mad lunatic, screeching with fear, you’d be this minute!
CHRIS–Ho-ho! You vas young fool! In ole years when Ay was on windyammer, Ay vas through hundred storms vorse’n dat! Ships vas ships den–and men dat sail on dem vas real men. And now what you gat on steamers? You gat fallars on deck don’t know ship from mudscow. [With a meaning glance at BURKE.] And below deck you gat fallars yust know how for shovel coal–might yust as veil vork on coal vagon ashore!
BURKE–[Stung–angrily.] Is it casting insults at the men in the stokehole ye are, ye old ape? God stiffen you! Wan of them is worth any ten stock-fish-swilling Square-heads ever shipped on a windbag!
CHRIS–[His face working with rage, his hand going back to the sheath-knife on his hip.] Irish svine, you!
BURKE–[Tauntingly.] Don’t ye like the Irish, ye old babboon? ‘Tis that you’re needing in your family, I’m telling you–an Irishman and a man of the stokehole–to put guts in it so that you’ll not be having grandchildren would be fearful cowards and jackasses the like of yourself!
CHRIS–[Half rising from his chair–in a voice choked with rage.] You look out!
BURKE–[Watching him intently–a mocking smile on his lips.] And it’s that you’ll be having, no matter what you’ll do to prevent; for Anna and me’ll be married this day, and no old fool the like of you will stop us when I’ve made up my mind.
CHRIS–[With a hoarse cry.] You don’t! [He throws himself at BURKE, knife in hand, knocking his chair over backwards. BURKE springs to his feet quickly in time to meet the attack. He laughs with the pure love of battle. The old Swede is like a child in his hands. BURKE does not strike or mistreat him in any way, but simply twists his right hand behind his back and forces the knife from his fingers. He throws the knife into a far corner of the room–tauntingly.]
BURKE–Old men is getting childish shouldn’t play with knives. [Holding the struggling CHRIS at arm’s length–with a sudden rush of anger, drawing back his fist.] I’ve half a mind to hit you a great clout will put sense in your square head. Kape off me now, I’m warning you! [He gives CHRIS a push with the flat of his hand which sends the old Swede staggering back against the cabin wall, where he remains standing, panting heavily, his eyes fixed on BURKE with hatred, as if he were only collecting his strength to rush at him again.]
BURKE–[Warningly.] Now don’t be coming at me again, I’m saying, or I’ll flatten you on the floor with a blow, if ’tis Anna’s father you are itself! I’ve no patience left for you. [Then with an amused laugh.] Well, ’tis a bold old man you are just the same, and I’d never think it was in you to come tackling me alone. [A shadow crosses the cabin windows. Both men start. ANNA appears in the doorway.]
ANNA–[With pleased surprise as she sees BURKE.] Hello, Mat. Are you here already? I was down–[She stops, looking from one to the other, sensing immediately that something has happened.] What’s up? [Then noticing the overturned chair–in alarm.] How’d that chair get knocked over? [Turning on BURKE reproachfully.] You ain’t been fighting with him, Mat–after you promised?
BURKE–[His old self again.] I’ve not laid a hand on him, Anna. [He goes and picks up the chair, then turning on the still questioning ANNA–with a reassuring smile.] Let you not be worried at all. ‘Twas only a bit of an argument we was having to pass the time till you’d come.
ANNA–It must have been some argument when you got to throwing chairs. [She turns on CHRIS.] Why don’t you say something? What was it about?
CHRIS–[Relaxing at last–avoiding her eyes–sheepishly.] Ve vas talking about ships and fallars on sea.
ANNA–[With a relieved smile.] Oh–the old stuff, eh?
BURKE–[Suddenly seeming to come to a bold decision–with a defiant grin at CHRIS.] He’s not after telling you the whole of it. We was arguing about you mostly.
ANNA–[With a frown.] About me?
BURKE–And we’ll be finishing it out right here and now in your presence if you’re willing. [He sits down at the left of table.]
ANNA–[Uncertainly–looking from him to her father.] Sure. Tell me what it’s all about.
CHRIS–[Advancing toward the table–protesting to BURKE.] No! You don’t do dat, you! You tal him you don’t vant for hear him talk, Anna.
ANNA–But I do. I want this cleared up.
CHRIS–[Miserably afraid now.] Vell, not now, anyvay. You vas going ashore, yes? You ain’t got time–
ANNA–[Firmly.] Yes, right here and now. [She turns to BURKE.] You tell me, Mat, since he don’t want to.
BURKE–[Draws a deep breath–then plunges in boldly.] The whole of it’s in a few words only. So’s he’d make no mistake, and him hating the sight of me, I told him in his teeth I loved you. [Passionately.] And that’s God truth, Anna, and well you know it!
CHRIS–[Scornfully–forcing a laugh.] Ho-ho! He tal same tang to gel every port he go!
ANNA–[Shrinking from her father with repulsion–resentfully.] Shut up, can’t you? [Then to BURKE–feelingly.] I know it’s true, Mat. I don’t mind what he says.
BURKE–[Humbly grateful.] God bless you!
ANNA–And then what?
BURKE–And then–[Hesitatingly.] And then I said–[He looks at her pleadingly.] I said I was sure–I told him I thought you have a bit of love for me, too. [Passionately.] Say you do, Anna! Let you not destroy me entirely, for the love of God! [He grasps both her hands in his two.]
ANNA–[Deeply moved and troubled–forcing a trembling laugh.] So you told him that, Mat? No wonder he was mad. [Forcing out the words.] Well, maybe it’s true, Mat. Maybe I do. I been thinking and thinking–I didn’t want to, Mat, I’ll own up to that–I tried to cut it out–but–[She laughs helplessly.] I guess I can’t help it anyhow. So I guess I do, Mat. [Then with a sudden joyous defiance.] Sure I do! What’s the use of kidding myself different? Sure I love you, Mat!
CHRIS–[With a cry of pain.] Anna! [He sits crushed.]
BURKE–[With a great depth of sincerity in his humble gratitude.] God be praised!
ANNA–[Assertively.] And I ain’t never loved a man in my life before, you can always believe that–no matter what happens.
BURKE–[Goes over to her and puts his arms around her.] Sure I do be believing ivery word you iver said or iver will say. And ’tis you and me will be having a grand, beautiful life together to the end of our days! [He tries to kiss her. At first she turns away her head–then, overcome by a fierce impulse of passionate love, she takes his head in both her hands and holds his face close to hers, staring into his eyes. Then she kisses him full on the lips.]
ANNA–[Pushing him away from her–forcing a broken laugh.] Good- bye. [She walks to the doorway in rear–stands with her back toward them, looking out. Her shoulders quiver once or twice as if she were fighting back her sobs.]
BURKE–[Too in the seventh heaven of bliss to get any correct interpretation of her word–with a laugh.] Good-bye, is it? The divil you say! I’ll be coming back at you in a second for more of the same! [To CHRIS, who has quickened to instant attention at his daughter’s good-bye, and has looked back at her with a stirring of foolish hope in his eyes.] Now, me old bucko, what’ll you be saying? You heard the words from her own lips. Confess I’ve bate you. Own up like a man when you’re bate fair and square. And here’s my hand to you–[Holds out his hand.] And let you take it and we’ll shake and forget what’s over and done, and be friends from this out.
CHRIS–[With implacable hatred.] Ay don’t shake hands vith you fallar–not vhile Ay live!
BURKE–[Offended.] The back of my hand to you then, if that suits you better. [Growling.] ‘Tis a rotten bad loser you are, divil mend you!
CHRIS–Ay don’t lose–[Trying to be scornful and self-convincing.] Anna say she like you little bit but you don’t hear her say she marry you, Ay bet. [At the sound of her name ANNA has turned round to them. Her face is composed and calm again, but it is the dead calm of despair.]
BURKE–[Scornfully.] No, and I wasn’t hearing her say the sun is shining either.
CHRIS–[Doggedly.] Dat’s all right. She don’t say it, yust same.
ANNA–[Quietly–coming forward to them.] No, I didn’t say it, Mat.
CHRIS–[Eagerly.] Dere! You hear!
BURKE–[Misunderstanding her–with a grin.] You’re waiting till you do be asked, you mane? Well, I’m asking you now. And we’ll be married this day, with the help of God!
ANNA–[Gently.] You heard what I said, Mat–after I kissed you?
BURKE–[Alarmed by something in her manner.] No–I disremember.
ANNA–I said good-bye. [Her voice trembling.] That kiss was for good-bye, Mat.
BURKE–[Terrified.] What d’you mane?
ANNA–I can’t marry you, Mat–and we’ve said good-bye. That’s all.
CHRIS–[Unable to hold back his exultation.] Ay know it! Ay know dat vas so!
BURKE–[Jumping to his feet–unable to believe his ears.] Anna! Is it making game of me you’d be? ‘Tis a quare time to joke with me, and don’t be doing it, for the love of God.
ANNA–[Looking him in the eyes–steadily.] D’you think I’d kid you now? No, I’m not joking, Mat. I mean what I said.
BURKE–Ye don’t! Ye can’t! ‘Tis mad you are. I’m telling you!
ANNA–[Fixedly.] No I’m not.
BURKE–[Desperately.] But what’s come over you so sudden? You was saying you loved me–
ANNA–I’ll say that as often as you want me to. It’s true.
BURKE–[Bewilderedly.] Then why–what, in the divil’s name–Oh, God help me, I can’t make head or tail to it at all!
ANNA–Because it’s the best way out I can figure, Mat. [Her voice catching.] I been thinking it over and thinking it over day and night all week. Don’t think it ain’t hard on me, too, Mat.
BURKE–For the love of God, tell me then, what is it that’s preventing you wedding me when the two of us has love? [Suddenly getting an idea and pointing at CHRIS–exasperatedly.] Is it giving heed to the like of that old fool ye are, and him hating me and filling your ears full of bloody lies against me?
CHRIS–[Getting to his feet–raging triumphantly before ANNA has a chance to get in a word.] Yes, Anna believe me, not you! She know her old fa’der don’t lie like you.
ANNA–[Turning on her father angrily.] You sit down, d’you hear? Where do you come in butting in and making things worse? You’re like a devil, you are! [Harshly.] Good Lord, and I was beginning to like you, beginning to forget all I’ve got held up against you!
CHRIS–[Crushed–feebly.] You ain’t got nutting for hold against me, Anna.
ANNA–Ain’t I yust! Well, lemme tell you–[She glances at BURKE and stops abruptly.] Say, Mat, I’m s’prised at you. You didn’t think anything he’d said–
BURKE–[Glumly.] Sure, what else would it be?
ANNA–Think I’ve ever paid any attention to all his crazy bull? Gee, you must take me for a five-year-old kid.
BURKE–[Puzzled and beginning to be irritated at her too.] I don’t know how to take you, with your saying this one minute and that the next.
ANNA–Well, he has nothing to do with it.
BURKE–Then what is it has? Tell me, and don’t keep me waiting and sweating blood.
ANNA–[Resolutely] I can’t tell you–and I won’t. I got a good reason–and that’s all you need to know. I can’t marry you, that’s all there is to it. [Distractedly.] So, for Gawd’s sake, let’s talk of something else.
BURKE–I’ll not! [Then fearfully.] Is it married to someone else you are–in the West maybe?
ANNA–[Vehemently.] I should say not.
BURKE–[Regaining his courage.] To the divil with all other reasons then. They don’t matter with me at all. [He gets to his feet confidently, assuming a masterful tone.] I’m thinking you’re the like of them women can’t make up their mind till they’re drove to it. Well, then, I’ll make up your mind for you bloody quick. [He takes her by the arms, grinning to soften his serious bullying.] We’ve had enough of talk! Let you be going into your room now and be dressing in your best and we’ll be going ashore.
CHRIS–[Aroused–angrily.] No, py God, she don’t do that! [Takes hold of her arm.]
ANNA–[Who has listened to BURKE in astonishment. She draws away from him, instinctively repelled by his tone, but not exactly sure if he is serious or not–a trace of resentment in her voice.] Say, where do you get that stuff?
BURKE–[Imperiously.] Never mind, now! Let you go get dressed, I’m saying, [Then turning to CHRIS.] We’ll be seeing who’ll win in the end–me or you.
CHRIS–[To ANNA–also in an authoritative tone.] You stay right here, Anna, you hear! [ANNA stands looking from one to the other of them as if she thought they had both gone crazy. Then the expression of her face freezes into the hardened sneer of her experience.]
BURKE–[Violently.] She’ll not! She’ll do what I say! You’ve had your hold on her long enough. It’s my turn now.
ANNA–[With a hard laugh.] Your turn? Say, what am I, anyway?
BURKE–‘Tis not what you are, ’tis what you’re going to be this day–and that’s wedded to me before night comes. Hurry up now with your dressing.
CHRIS–[Commandingly.] You don’t do one tang he say, Anna! [ANNA laughs mockingly.]
BURKE–She will, so!
CHRIS–Ay tal you she don’t! Ay’m her fa’der.
BURKE–She will in spite of you. She’s taking my orders from this out, not yours.
ANNA–[Laughing again.] Orders is good!
BURKE–[Turning to her impatiently.] Hurry up now, and shake a leg. We’ve no time to be wasting. [Irritated as she doesn’t move.] Do you hear what I’m telling you?
CHRIS–You stay dere, Anna!
ANNA–[At the end of her patience–blazing out at them passionately.] You can go to hell, both of you! [There is something in her tone that makes them forget their quarrel and turn to her in a stunned amazement. ANNA laughs wildly.] You’re just like all the rest of them–you two! Gawd, you’d think I was a piece of furniture! I’ll show you! Sit down now! [As they hesitate–furiously.] Sit down and let me talk for a minute. You’re all wrong, see? Listen to me! I’m going to tell you something–and then I’m going to beat it. [To BURKE–with a harsh laugh.] I’m going to tell you a funny story, so pay attention. [Pointing to CHRIS.] I’ve been meaning to turn it loose on him every time he’d get my goat with his bull about keeping me safe inland. I wasn’t going to tell you, but you’ve forced me into it. What’s the dif? It’s all wrong anyway, and you might as well get cured that way as any other. [With hard mocking.] Only don’t forget what you said a minute ago about it not mattering to you what other reason I got so long as I wasn’t married to no one else.
BURKE–[Manfully.] That’s my word, and I’ll stick to it!
ANNA–[Laughing bitterly.] What a chance! You make me laugh, honest! Want to bet you will? Wait ‘n see! [She stands at the table rear, looking from one to the other of the two men with her hard, mocking smile. Then she begins, fighting to control her emotion and speak calmly.] First thing is, I want to tell you two guys something. You was going on’s if one of you had got to own me. But nobody owns me, see?–‘cepting myself. I’ll do what I please and no man, I don’t give a hoot who he is, can tell me what to do! I ain’t asking either of you for a living. I can make it myself–one way or other. I’m my own boss. So put that in your pipe and smoke it! You and your orders!
BURKE–[Protestingly.] I wasn’t meaning it that way at all and well you know it. You’ve no call to be raising this rumpus with me. [Pointing to CHRIS.] ‘Tis him you’ve a right–
ANNA–I’m coming to him. But you–you did mean it that way, too. You sounded–yust like all the rest. [Hysterically.] But, damn it, shut up! Let me talk for a change!
BUREKE–‘Tis quare, rough talk, that–for a dacent girl the like of you!
ANNA–[With a hard laugh.] Decent? Who told you I was? [CHRIS is sitting with bowed shoulders, his head in his hands. She leans over in exasperation and shakes him violently by the shoulder.] Don’t go to sleep, Old Man! Listen here, I’m talking to you now!
CHRIS–[Straightening up and looking about as if he were seeking a way to escape–with frightened foreboding in his voice.] Ay don’t vant for hear it. You vas going out of head, Ay tank, Anna.
ANNA–[Violently.] Well, living with you is enough to drive anyone off their nut. Your bunk about the farm being so fine! Didn’t I write you year after year how rotten it was and what a dirty slave them cousins made of me? What’d you care? Nothing! Not even enough to come out and see me! That crazy bull about wanting to keep me away from the sea don’t go down with me! You yust didn’t want to be bothered with me! You’re like all the rest of ’em!
CHRIS–[Feebly.] Anna! It ain’t so–
ANNA–[Not heeding his interruption–revengefully.] But one thing I never wrote you. It was one of them cousins that you think is such nice people–the youngest son–Paul–that started me wrong. [Loudly.] It wasn’t none of my fault. I hated him worse ‘n hell and he knew it. But he was big and strong–[Pointing to Burke]– like you!
BURKE–[Half springing to his feet–his fists clenched,] God blarst it! [He sinks slowly back in his chair again, the knuckles showing white on his clenched hands, his face tense with the effort to suppress his grief and rage.]
CHRIS–[In a cry of horrified pain.] Anna!
ANNA–[To him–seeming not to have heard their interruptions.] That was why I run away from the farm. That was what made me get a yob as nurse girl in St. Paul. [With a hard, mocking laugh.] And you think that was a nice yob for a girl, too, don’t you? [Sarcastically.] With all them nice inland fellers yust looking for a chance to marry me, I s’pose. Marry me? What a chance! They wasn’t looking for marrying. [As BURKE lets a groan of fury escape him–desperately.] I’m owning up to everything fair and square. I was caged in, I tell you–yust like in yail–taking care of other people’s kids–listening to ’em bawling and crying day and night– when I wanted to be out–and I was lonesome–lonesome as hell! [With a sudden weariness in her voice.] So I give up finally. What was the use? [She stops and looks at the two men. Both are motionless and silent. CHRIS seems in a stupor of despair, his house of cards fallen about him. BURKE’s face is livid with the rage that is eating him up, but he is too stunned and bewildered yet to find a vent for it. The condemnation she feels in their silence goads ANNA into a harsh, strident defiance.] You don’t say nothing–either of you–but I know what you’re thinking. You’re like all the rest! [To CHRIS–furiously.] And who’s to blame for it, me or you? If you’d even acted like a man–if you’d even been a regular father and had me with you–maybe things would be different!
CHRIS–[In agony.] Don’t talk dat vay, Anna! Ay go crazy! Ay von’t listen! [Puts his hands over his ears.]
ANNA–[Infuriated by his action–stridently.] You will too listen! [She leans over and pulls his hands from his ears–with hysterical rage.] You–keeping me safe inland–I wasn’t no nurse girl the last two years–I lied when I wrote you–I was in a house, that’s what!–yes, that kind of a house–the kind sailors like you and Mat goes to in port–and your nice inland men, too–and all men, God damn ’em! I hate ’em! Hate ’em! [She breaks into hysterical sobbing, throwing herself into the chair and hiding her face in her hands on the table. The two men have sprung to their feet.]
CHRIS–[Whimpering like a child.] Anna! Anna! It’s lie! It’s lie! [He stands wringing his hands together and begins to weep.]
BURKE–[His whole great body tense like a spring–dully and gropingly.] So that’s what’s in it!
ANNA–[Raising her head at the sound of his voice–with extreme mocking bitterness.] I s’pose you remember your promise, Mat? No other reason was to count with you so long as I wasn’t married already. So I s’pose you want me to get dressed and go ashore, don’t you? [She laughs.] Yes, you do!
BURKE–[On the verge of his outbreak–stammeringly.] God stiffen you!
ANNA–[Trying to keep up her hard, bitter tone, but gradually letting a note of pitiful pleading creep in.] I s’pose if I tried to tell you I wasn’t–that–no more you’d believe me, wouldn’t you? Yes, you would! And if I told you that yust getting out in this barge, and being on the sea had changed me and made me feel different about things,’s if all I’d been through wasn’t me and didn’t count and was yust like it never happened–you’d laugh, wouldn’t you? And you’d die laughing sure if I said that meeting you that funny way that night in the fog, and afterwards seeing that you was straight goods stuck on me, had got me to thinking for the first time, and I sized you up as a different kind of man– a sea man as different from the ones on land as water is from mud–and that was why I got stuck on you, too. I wanted to marry you and fool you, but I couldn’t. Don’t you see how I’d changed? I couldn’t marry you with you believing a lie–and I was shamed to tell you the truth–till the both of you forced my hand, and I seen you was the same as all the rest. And now, give me a bawling out and beat it, like I can tell you’re going to. [She stops, looking at BURKE. He is silent, his face averted, his features beginning to work with fury. She pleads passionately.] Will you believe it if I tell you that loving you has made me–clean? It’s the straight goods, honest! [Then as he doesn’t reply–bitterly.] Like hell you will! You’re like all the rest!
BURKE–[Blazing out–turning on her in a perfect frenzy of rage– his voice trembling with passion.] The rest, is it? God’s curse on you! Clane, is it? You slut, you, I’ll be killing you now! [He picks up the chair on which he has been sitting and, swinging it high over his shoulder, springs toward her. CHRIS rushes forward with a cry of alarm, trying to ward off the blow from his daughter. ANNA looks up into BURKE’S eyes with the fearlessness of despair. BURKE checks himself, the chair held in the air.]
CHRIS–[Wildly.] Stop, you crazy fool! You vant for murder her!
ANNA–[Pushing her father away brusquely, her eyes still holding BURKE’S.] Keep out of this, you! [To BURKE–dully.] Well, ain’t you got the nerve to do it? Go ahead! I’ll be thankful to you, honest. I’m sick of the whole game.
BURKE–[Throwing the chair away into a corner of the room– helplessly.] I can’t do it, God help me, and your two eyes looking at me. [Furiously.] Though I do be thinking I’d have a good right to smash your skull like a rotten egg. Was there iver a woman in the world had the rottenness in her that you have, and was there iver a man the like of me was made the fool of the world, and me thinking thoughts about you, and having great love for you, and dreaming dreams of the fine life we’d have when we’d be wedded! [His voice high pitched in a lamentation that is like a keen]. Yerra, God help me! I’m destroyed entirely and my heart is broken in bits! I’m asking God Himself, was it for this He’d have me roaming the earth since I was a lad only, to come to black shame in the end, where I’d be giving a power of love to a woman is the same as others you’d meet in any hooker-shanty in port, with red gowns on them and paint on their grinning mugs, would be sleeping with any man for a dollar or two!
ANNA–[In a scream.] Don’t, Mat! For Gawd’s sake! [Then raging and pounding on the table with her hands.] Get out of here! Leave me alone! Get out of here!
BURKE–[His anger rushing back on him.] I’ll be going, surely! And I’ll be drinking sloos of whiskey will wash that black kiss of yours off my lips; and I’ll be getting dead rotten drunk so I’ll not remember if ’twas iver born you was at all; and I’ll be shipping away on some boat will take me to the other end of the world where I’ll never see your face again! [He turns toward the door]
CHRIS–[Who has been standing in a stupor–suddenly grasping BURKE by the arm–stupidly] No, you don’t go. Ay tank maybe it’s better Anna marry you now.
BURKE–[Shaking CHRIS off–furiously] Lave go of me, ye old ape! Marry her, is it? I’d see her roasting in hell first! I’m shipping away out of this, I’m telling you! [Pointing to Anna– passionately] And my curse on you and the curse of Almighty God and all the Saints! You’ve destroyed me this day and may you lie awake in the long nights, tormented with thoughts of Mat Burke and the great wrong you’ve done him!
ANNA–[In anguish] Mat! [But he turns without another word and strides out of the doorway. ANNA looks after him wildly, starts to run after him, then hides her face in her outstretched arms, sobbing. CHRIS stands in a stupor, staring at the floor.]
CHRIS–[After a pause, dully.] Ay tank Ay go ashore, too.
ANNA–[Looking up, wildly.] Not after him! Let him go! Don’t you dare–
CHRIS–[Somberly.] Ay go for gat drink.
ANNA–[With a harsh laugh.] So I’m driving you to drink, too, eh? I s’pose you want to get drunk so’s you can forget–like him?
CHRIS–[Bursting out angrily.] Yes, Ay vant! You tank Ay like hear dem tangs. [Breaking down–weeping.] Ay tank you vasn’t dat kind of gel, Anna.
ANNA–[Mockingly.] And I s’pose you want me to beat it, don’t you? You don’t want me here disgracing you, I s’pose?
CHRIS–No, you stay here! [Goes over and pats her on the shoulder, the tears running down his face.] Ain’t your fault, Anna, Ay know dat. [She looks up at him, softened. He bursts into rage.] It’s dat ole davil, sea, do this to me! [He shakes his fist at the door.] It’s her dirty tricks! It vas all right on barge with yust you and me. Den she bring dat Irish fallar in fog, she make you like him, she make you fight with me all time! If dat Irish fallar don’t never come, you don’t never tal me dem tangs, Ay don’t never know, and every tang’s all right. [He shakes his fist again,] Dirty ole davil!
ANNA–[With spent weariness.] Oh, what’s the use? Go on ashore and get drunk.
CHRIS–[Goes into room on left and gets his cap. He goes to the door, silent and stupid–then turns.] You vait here, Anna?
ANNA–[Dully] Maybe–and maybe not. Maybe I’ll get drunk, too. Maybe I’ll–But what the hell do you care what I do? Go on and beat it. [CHRIS turns stupidly and goes out. ANNA sits at the table, staring straight in front of her.]
* * * * *
CHRIS. CHRISTOPHERSON, captain of the barge “Simeon Winthrop”
ANNA CHRISTOPHERSON, Chris’s daughter
THREE MEN OF A STEAMER’S CREW
MAT BURKE, a stoker
JOHNSON, deckhand on the barge
ACT I: “Johnny-the-Priest’s” saloon near the waterfront. New York City.
ACT II: The barge, Simeon Winthrop, at anchor in the harbor of Provincetown, Mass. Ten days later.
ACT III: Cabin of the barge, at dock in Boston. A week later.
ACT IV: The same. Two days later.
Time of the Play—About 1910.
SCENE–Ten days later. The stern of the deeply-laden barge, “SIMEON WINTHROP,” at anchor in the outer harbor of Provincetown, Mass. It is ten o’clock at night. Dense fog shrouds the barge on all sides, and she floats motionless on a calm. A lantern set up on an immense coil of thick hawser sheds a dull, filtering light on objects near it–the heavy steel bits for making fast the tow lines, etc. In the rear is the cabin, its misty windows glowing wanly with the light of a lamp inside. The chimney of the cabin stove rises a few feet above the roof. The doleful tolling of bells, on Long Point, on ships at anchor, breaks the silence at regular intervals.
As the curtain rises, ANNA is discovered standing near the coil of rope on which the lantern is placed. She looks healthy, transformed, the natural color has come back to her face. She has on a black, oilskin coat, but wears no hat. She is staring out into the fog astern with an expression of awed wonder. The cabin door is pushed open and CHRIS appears. He is dressed in yellow oilskins–coat, pants, sou’wester–and wears high sea-boots.
CHRIS–[The glare from the cabin still in his eyes, peers blinkmgly astern.] Anna! [Receiving no reply, he calls again, this time with apparent apprehension.] Anna!
ANNA–[With a start–making a gesture with her hand as if to impose silence–in a hushed whisper.] Yes, here I am. What d’you want?
CHRIS–[Walks over to her–solicitously.] Don’t you come turn in, Anna? It’s late–after four bells. It ain’t good for you stay out here in fog, Ay tank.
ANNA–Why not? [With a trace of strange exultation.] I love this fog! Honest! It’s so–[She hesitates, groping for a word.]–Funny and still. I feel as if I was–out of things altogether.
CHRIS–[Spitting disgustedly.] Fog’s vorst one of her dirty tricks, py yingo!
ANNA–[With a short laugh.] Beefing about the sea again? I’m getting so’s I love it, the little I’ve seen.
CHRIS–[Glancing at her moodily.] Dat’s foolish talk, Anna. You see her more, you don’t talk dat vay. [Then seeing her irritation, he hastily adopts a more cheerful tone.] But Ay’m glad you like it on barge. Ay’m glad it makes you feel good again. [With a placating grin.] You like live like dis alone with ole fa’der, eh?
ANNA–Sure I do. Everything’s been so different from anything I ever come across before. And now–this fog–Gee, I wouldn’t have missed it for nothing. I never thought living on ships was so different from land. Gee, I’d just love to work on it, honest I would, if I was a man. I don’t wonder you always been a sailor,
CHRIS–[Vehemently.] Ay ain’t sailor, Anna. And dis ain’t real sea. You only see nice part. [Then as she doesn’t answer, he continues hopefully.] Vell, fog lift in morning, Ay tank.
ANNA–[The exultation again in her voice.] I love it! I don’t give a rap if it never lifts! [CHRIS fidgets from one foot to the other worriedly. ANNA continues slowly, after a pause.] It makes me feel clean–out here–‘s if I’d taken a bath.
CHRIS–[After a pause.] You better go in cabin–read book. Dat put you to sleep.
ANNA–I don’t want to sleep. I want to stay out here–and think about things.
CHRIS–[Walks away from her toward the cabin–then comes back.] You act funny to-night, Anna.
ANNA–[Her voice rising angrily.] Say, what’re you trying to do– make things rotten? You been kind as kind can be to me and I certainly appreciate it–only don’t spoil it all now. [Then, seeing the hurt expression on her father’s face, she forces a smile.] Let’s talk of something else. Come. Sit down here. [She points to the coil of rope.]
CHRIS–[Sits down beside her with a sigh.] It’s gatting pooty late in night, Anna. Must be near five bells.
ANNA–[Interestedly.] Five bells? What time is that?
CHRIS–Half past ten.
ANNA–Funny I don’t know nothing about sea talk–but those cousins was always talking crops and that stuff. Gee, wasn’t I sick of it– and of them!
CHRIS–You don’t like live on farm, Anna?
ANNA–I’ve told you a hundred times I hated it. [Decidedly.] I’d rather have one drop of ocean than all the farms in the world! Honest! And you wouldn’t like a farm, neither. Here’s where you belong. [She makes a sweeping gesture seaward.] But not on a coal barge. You belong on a real ship, sailing all over the world.
CHRIS–[Moodily.] Ay’ve done dat many year, Anna, when Ay vas damn fool.
ANNA–[Disgustedly.] Oh, rats! [After a pause she speaks musingly.] Was the men in our family always sailors–as far back as you know about?
CHRIS–[Shortly.] Yes. Damn fools! All men in our village on coast, Sveden, go to sea. Ain’t nutting else for dem to do. My fa’der die on board ship in Indian Ocean. He’s buried at sea. Ay don’t never know him only little bit. Den my tree bro’der, older’n me, dey go on ships. Den Ay go, too. Den my mo’der she’s left all ‘lone. She die pooty quick after dat–all ‘lone. Ve vas all avay on voyage when she die. [He pauses sadly.] Two my bro’der dey gat lost on fishing boat same like your bro’ders vas drowned. My oder bro’der, he save money, give up sea, den he die home in bed. He’s only one dat ole davil don’t kill. [Defiantly.] But me, Ay bet you Ay die ashore in bed, too!
ANNA–Were all of ’em yust plain sailors?
CHEIS–Able body seaman, most of dem. [With a certain pride.] Dey vas all smart seaman, too–A one. [Then after hesitating a moment– shyly.] Ay vas bo’sun.
CHRIS–Dat’s kind of officer.
ANNA–Gee, that was fine. What does he do?
CHRIS–[After a second’s hesitation, plunged into gloom again by his fear of her enthusiasm.] Hard vork all time. It’s rotten, Ay tal you, for go to sea. [Determined to disgust her with sea life– volubly.] Dey’re all fool fallar, dem fallar in our family. Dey all vork rotten yob on sea for nutting, don’t care nutting but yust gat big pay day in pocket, gat drunk, gat robbed, ship avay again on oder voyage. Dey don’t come home, Dey don’t do anytang like good man do. And dat ole davil, sea, sooner, later she svallow dem up.
ANNA–[With an excited laugh.] Good sports, I’d call ’em. [Then hastily.] But say–listen–did all the women of the family marry sailors?
CHRIS–[Eagerly–seeing a chance to drive home his point.] Yes– and it’s bad on dem like hell vorst of all. Dey don’t see deir men only once in long while. Dey set and vait all ‘lone. And vhen deir boys grows up, go to sea, dey sit and vait some more. [Vehemently.] Any gel marry sailor, she’s crazy fool! Your mo’der she tal you same tang if she vas alive. [He relapses into an attitude of somber brooding.]
ANNA–[After a pause–dreamily.] Funny! I do feel sort of–nutty, to-night. I feel old.
CHRIS–[Mystified. ] Old?
ANNA–Sure–like I’d been living a long, long time–out here in the fog. [Frowning perplexedly.] I don’t know how to tell you yust what I mean. It’s like I’d come home after a long visit away some place. It all seems like I’d been here before lots of times–on boats–in this same fog. [With a short laugh.] You must think I’m off my base.
CHRIS–[Gruffly.] Anybody feel funny dat vay in fog.
ANNA–[Persistently.] But why d’you s’pose I feel so–so–like I’d found something I’d missed and been looking for–‘s if this was the right place for me to fit in? And I seem to have forgot– everything that’s happened–like it didn’t matter no more. And I feel clean, somehow–like you feel yust after you’ve took a bath. And I feel happy for once–yes, honest!–happier than I ever been anywhere before! [As CHRIS makes no comment but a heavy sigh, she continues wonderingly.] It’s nutty for me to feel that way, don’t you think?
CHRIS–[A grim foreboding in his voice.] Ay tank Ay’m damn fool for bring you on voyage, Anna.
ANNA–[Impressed by his tone.] You talk–nutty to-night yourself. You act’s if you was scared something was going to happen.
CHRIS–Only God know dat, Anna.
ANNA–[Half-mockingly.] Then it’ll be Gawd’s will, like the preachers say-what does happen.
CHRIS–[Starts to his feet with fierce protest.] No! Dat ole davil, sea, she ain’t God! [In the pause of silence that comes after his defiance a hail in a man’s husky, exhausted voice comes faintly out of the fog to port.] “Ahoy!” [CHRIS gives a startled exclamation.]
ANNA–[Jumping to her feet.] What’s that?
CHRIS–[Who has regained his composure–sheepishly.] Py golly, dat scare me for minute. It’s only some fallar hail, Anna–loose his course in fog. Must be fisherman’s power boat. His engine break down, Ay guess. [The “ahoy” comes again through the wall of fog, sounding much nearer this time. CHRIS goes over to the port bulwark.] Sound from dis side. She come in from open sea. [He holds his hands to his mouth, megaphone-fashion, and shouts back.] Ahoy, dere! Vhat’s trouble?
THE VOICE–[This time sounding nearer but up forward toward the bow.] Heave a rope when we come alongside. [Then irritably.] Where are ye, ye scut?
CHRIS–Ay hear dem rowing. Dey come up by bow, Ay tank. [Then shouting out again.] Dis vay!
THE VOICE–Right ye are! [There is a muffled sound of oars in oar- locks.]
ANNA–[Half to herself–resentfully.] Why don’t that guy stay where he belongs?
CHRIS–[Hurriedly.] Ay go up bow. All hands asleep ‘cepting fallar on vatch. Ay gat heave line to dat fallar. [He picks up a coil of rope and hurries off toward the bow. ANNA walks back toward the extreme stern as if she wanted to remain as much isolated possible. She turns her back on the proceedings and stares out into the fog. THE VOICE is heard again shouting “Ahoy” and CHRIS answering “Dis way” Then there is a pause–the murmur of excited voices–then the scuffling of feet. CHRIS appears from around the cabin to port. He is supporting the limp form of a man dressed in dungarees, holding one of the man’s arms around his neck. The deckhand, JOHNSON, a young, blond Swede, follows him, helping along another exhausted man similar fashion. ANNA turns to look at them. Chris stops for a second–volubly.] Anna! You come help, vill you? You find vhiskey in cabin. Dese fallars need drink for fix dem. Dey vas near dead.
ANNA–[Hurrying to him.] Sure–but who are they? What’s the trouble?
CHRIS–Sailor fallars. Deir steamer gat wrecked. Dey been five days in open boat–four fallars–only one left able stand up. Come, Anna. [She precedes him into the cabin, holding the door open while he and JOHNSON carry in their burdens. The door is shut, then opened again as JOHNSON comes out. CHRIS’S voice shouts after him.] Go gat oder fallar, Yohnson.
JOHNSON–Yes, sir. [He goes. The door is closed again. MAT BURKE stumbles in around the port side of the cabin. He moves slowly, feeling his way uncertainly, keeping hold of the port bulwark with his right hand to steady himself. He is stripped to the waist, has on nothing but a pair of dirty dungaree pants. He is a powerful, broad-chested six-footer, his face handsome in a hard, rough, bold, defiant way. He is about thirty, in the full power of his heavy-muscled, immense strength. His dark eyes are bloodshot and wild from sleeplessness. The muscles of his arms and shoulders are lumped in knots and bunches, the veins of his forearms stand out like blue cords. He finds his way to the coil of hawser and sits down on it facing the cabin, his back bowed, head in his hands, in an attitude of spent weariness.]
BURKE–[Talking aloud to himself.] Row, ye divil! Row! [Then lifting his head and looking about him.] What’s this tub? Well, we’re safe anyway–with the help of God. [He makes the sign of the cross mechanically. JOHNSON comes along the deck to port, supporting the fourth man, who is babbling to himself incoherently. BURKE glances at him disdainfully.] Is it losing the small wits ye iver had, ye are? Deck-scrubbing scut! [They pass him and go into the cabin, leaving the door open. BURKE sags forward wearily.] I’m bate out–bate out entirely.
ANNA–[Comes out of the cabin with a tumbler quarter-full of whiskey in her hand. She gives a start when she sees BURKE so near her, the light from the open door falling full on him. Then, overcoming what is evidently a feeling of repulsion, she comes up beside him.] Here you are. Here’s a drink for you. You need it, I guess.
BURKE–[Lifting his head slowly–confusedly.] Is it dreaming I am?
ANNA–[Half smiling.] Drink it and you’ll find it ain’t no dream.
BURKE–To hell with the drink–but I’ll take it just the same. [He tosses it down.] Aah! I’m needin’ that–and ’tis fine stuff. [Looking up at her with frank, grinning admiration.] But ’twasn’t the booze I meant when I said, was I dreaming. I thought you was some mermaid out of the sea come to torment me. [He reaches out to feel of her arm.] Aye, rale flesh and blood, divil a less.
ANNA–[Coldly. Stepping back from him.] Cut that.
BURKE–But tell me, isn’t this a barge I’m on–or isn’t it?
BURKE–And what is a fine handsome woman the like of you doing on this scow?
ANNA–[Coldly.] Never you mind. [Then half-amused in spite of herself.] Say, you’re a great one, honest–starting right in kidding after what you been through.
BURKE–[Delighted–proudly.] Ah, it was nothing–aisy for a rale man with guts to him, the like of me. [He laughs.] All in the day’s work, darlin’. [Then, more seriously but still in a boastful tone, confidentially.] But I won’t be denying ’twas a damn narrow squeak. We’d all ought to be with Davy Jones at the bottom of the sea, be rights. And only for me, I’m telling you, and the great strength and guts is in me, we’d be being scoffed by the fishes this minute!
ANNA–[Contemptuously.] Gee, you hate yourself, don’t you? [Then turning away from him indifferently.] Well, you’d better come in and lie down. You must want to sleep.
BURKE–[Stung–rising unsteadily to his feet with chest out and head thrown back–resentfully.] Lie down and sleep, is it? Divil a wink I’m after having for two days and nights and divil a bit I’m needing now. Let you not be thinking I’m the like of them three weak scuts come in the boat with me. I could lick the three of them sitting down with one hand tied behind me. They may be bate out, but I’m not–and I’ve been rowing the boat with them lying in the bottom not able to raise a hand for the last two days we was in it. [Furiously, as he sees this is making no impression on her.] And I can lick all hands on this tub, wan be wan, tired as I am!
ANNA–[Sarcastically.] Gee, ain’t you a hard guy! [Then, with a trace of sympathy, as she notices him swaying from weakness.] But never mind that fight talk. I’ll take your word for all you’ve said. Go on and sit down out here, anyway, if I can’t get you to come inside. [He sits down weakly.] You’re all in, you might as well own up to it.
BURKE–[Fiercely.] The hell I am!
ANNA–[Coldly.] Well, be stubborn then for all I care. And I must say I don’t care for your language. The men I know don’t pull that rough stuff when ladies are around.
BURKE–[Getting unsteadily to his feet again–in a rage.] Ladies! Ho-ho! Divil mend you! Let you not be making game of me. What would ladies be doing on this bloody hulk? [As ANNA attempts to go to the cabin, he lurches into her path.] Aisy, now! You’re not the old Square-head’s woman, I suppose you’ll be telling me next– living in his cabin with him, no less! [Seeing the cold, hostile expression on ANNA’s face, he suddenly changes his tone to one of boisterous joviality.] But I do be thinking, iver since the first look my eyes took at you, that it’s a fool you are to be wasting yourself–a fine, handsome girl–on a stumpy runt of a man like that old Swede. There’s too many strapping great lads on the sea would give their heart’s blood for one kiss of you!
ANNA–[Scornfully.] Lads like you, eh?
BURKE–[Grinning.] Ye take the words out o’ my mouth. I’m the proper lad for you, if it’s meself do be saying it. [With a quick movement he puts his arms about her waist.] Whisht, now, me daisy! Himself’s in the cabin. It’s wan of your kisses I’m needing to take the tiredness from me bones. Wan kiss, now! [He presses her to him and attempts to kiss her.]
ANNA–[Struggling fiercely.] Leggo of me, you big mut! [She pushes him away with all her might. BURKE, weak and tottering, is caught off his guard. He is thrown down backward and, in falling, hits his head a hard thump against the bulwark. He lies there still, knocked out for the moment. ANNA stands for a second, looking down at him frightenedly. Then she kneels down beside him and raises his head to her knee, staring into his face anxiously for some sign of life.]
BURKE–[Stirring a bit–mutteringly.] God stiffen it! [He opens his eyes and blinks up at her with vague wonder.]
ANNA–[Letting his head sink back on the deck, rising to her feet with a sigh of relief.] You’re coming to all right, eh? Gee, I was scared for a moment I’d killed you.
BURKE–[With difficulty rising to a sitting position– scornfully.] Killed, is it? It’d take more than a bit of a blow to crack my thick skull. [Then looking at her with the most intense admiration.] But, glory be, it’s a power of strength is in them two fine arms of yours. There’s not a man in the world can say the same as you, that he seen Mat Burke lying at his feet and him dead to the world.
ANNA–[Rather remorsefully.] Forget it. I’m sorry it happened, see? [BURKE rises and sits on bench. Then severely.] Only you had no right to be getting fresh with me. Listen, now, and don’t go getting any more wrong notions. I’m on this barge because I’m making a trip with my father. The captain’s my father. Now you know.
BURKE–The old square–the old Swede, I mean?
BURKE–[Rising–peering at her face.] Sure I might have known it, if I wasn’t a bloody fool from birth. Where else’d you get that fine yellow hair is like a golden crown on your head.
ANNA–[With an amused laugh.] Say, nothing stops you, does it? [Then attempting a severe tone again.] But don’t you think you ought to be apologizing for what you said and done yust a minute ago, instead of trying to kid me with that mush?
BURKE–[Indignantly.] Mush! [Then bending forward toward her with very intense earnestness.] Indade and I will ask your pardon a thousand times–and on my knees, if ye like. I didn’t mean a word of what I said or did. [Resentful again for a second.] But divil a woman in all the ports of the world has iver made a great fool of me that way before!
ANNA–[With amused sarcasm.] I see. You mean you’re a lady-killer and they all fall for you.
BURKE–[Offended. Passionately.] Leave off your fooling! ‘Tis that is after getting my back up at you. [Earnestly.] ‘Tis no lie I’m telling you about the women. [Ruefully.] Though it’s a great jackass I am to be mistaking you, even in anger, for the like of them cows on the waterfront is the only women I’ve met up with since I was growed to a man. [As ANNA shrinks away from him at this, he hurries on pleadingly.] I’m a hard, rough man and I’m not fit, I’m thinking, to be kissing the shoe-soles of a fine, dacent girl the like of yourself. ‘Tis only the ignorance of your kind made me see you wrong. So you’ll forgive me, for the love of God, and let us be friends from this out. [Passionately.] I’m thinking I’d rather be friends with you than have my wish for anything else in the world. [He holds out his hand to her shyly.]
ANNA–[Looking queerly at him, perplexed and worried, but moved and pleased in spite of herself–takes his hand uncertainly.] Sure.
BURKE–[With boyish delight.] God bless you! [In his excitement he squeezes her hand tight.]
BURKE–[Hastily dropping her hand–ruefully.] Your pardon, Miss. ‘Tis a clumsy ape I am. [Then simply–glancing down his arm proudly.] It’s great power I have in my hand and arm, and I do be forgetting it at times.
ANNA–[Nursing her crushed hand and glancing at his arm, not without a trace of his own admiration.] Gee, you’re some strong, all right.
BURKE–[Delighted.] It’s no lie, and why shouldn’t I be, with me shoveling a million tons of coal in the stokeholes of ships since I was a lad only. [He pats the coil of hawser invitingly.] Let you sit down, now, Miss, and I’ll be telling you a bit of myself, and you’ll be telling me a bit of yourself, and in an hour we’ll be as old friends as if we was born in the same house. [He pulls at her sleeve shyly.] Sit down now, if you plaze.
ANNA–[With a half laugh.] Well–[She sits down.] But we won’t talk about me, see? You tell me about yourself and about the wreck.
BURKE–[Flattered.] I’ll tell you, surely. But can I be asking you one question. Miss, has my head in a puzzle?
ANNA–[Guardedly.] Well–I dunno–what is it?
BURKE–What is it you do when you’re not taking a trip with the Old Man? For I’m thinking a fine girl the like of you ain’t living always on this tub.
ANNA–[Uneasily.] No–of course I ain’t. [She searches his face suspiciously, afraid there may be some hidden insinuation in his words. Seeing his simple frankness, she goes on confidently.] Well, I’ll tell you. I’m a governess, see? I take care of kids for people and learn them things.
BURKE–[Impressed.] A governess, is it? You must be smart, surely.
ANNA–But let’s not talk about me. Tell me about the wreck, like you promised me you would.
BURKE–[Importantly.] ‘Twas this way, Miss. Two weeks out we ran into the divil’s own storm, and she sprang wan hell of a leak up for’ard. The skipper was hoping to make Boston before another blow would finish her, but ten days back we met up with another storm the like of the first, only worse. Four days we was in it with green seas raking over her from bow to stern. That was a terrible time, God help us. [Proudly.] And if ’twasn’t for me and my great strength, I’m telling you–and it’s God’s truth–there’d been mutiny itself in the stokehole. ‘Twas me held them to it, with a kick to wan and a clout to another, and they not caring a damn for the engineers any more, but fearing a clout of my right arm more than they’d fear the sea itself. [He glances at her anxiously, eager for her approval.]
ANNA–[Concealing a smile–amused by this boyish boasting of his.] You did some hard work, didn’t you?
BURKE–[Promptly.] I did that! I’m a divil for sticking it out when them that’s weak give up. But much good it did anyone! ‘Twas a mad, fightin’ scramble in the last seconds with each man for himself. I disremember how it come about, but there was the four of us in wan boat and when we was raised high on a great wave I took a look about and divil a sight there was of ship or men on top of the sea.
ANNA–[In a subdued voice.] Then all the others was drowned?
BURKE–They was, surely.
ANNA–[With a shudder.] What a terrible end!
BURKE–[Turns to her.] A terrible end for the like of them swabs does live on land, maybe. But for the like of us does be roaming the seas, a good end, I’m telling you–quick and clane.
ANNA–[Struck by the word.] Yes, clean. That’s yust the word for– all of it–the way it makes me feel.
BURKE–The sea, you mean? [Interestedly.] I’m thinking you have a bit of it in your blood, too. Your Old Man wasn’t only a barge rat–begging your pardon–all his life, by the cut of him.
ANNA–No, he was bo’sun on sailing ships for years. And all the men on both sides of the family have gone to sea as far back as he remembers, he says. All the women have married sailors, too.
BURKE–[With intense satisfaction.] Did they, now? They had spirit in them. It’s only on the sea you’d find rale men with guts is fit to wed with fine, high-tempered girls [Then he adds half-boldly] the like of yourself.
ANNA–[With a laugh.] There you go kiddin’ again. [Then seeing his hurt expression–quickly.] But you was going to tell me about yourself. You’re Irish, of course I can tell that.
BURKE–[Stoutly.] Yes, thank God, though I’ve not seen a sight of it in fifteen years or more.
ANNA–[Thoughtfully.] Sailors never do go home hardly, do they? That’s what my father was saying.
BURKE–He wasn’t telling no lie. [With sudden melancholy.] It’s a hard and lonesome life, the sea is. The only women you’d meet in the ports of the world who’d be willing to speak you a kind word isn’t woman at all. You know the kind I mane, and they’re a poor, wicked lot, God forgive them. They’re looking to steal the money from you only.
ANNA–[Her face averted–rising to her feet–agitatedly.] I think–I guess I’d better see what’s doing inside.
BURKE–[Afraid he has offended her–beseechingly.] Don’t go, I’m saying! Is it I’ve given you offence with my talk of the like of them? Don’t heed it at all! I’m clumsy in my wits when it comes to talking proper with a girl the like of you. And why wouldn’t I be? Since the day I left home for to go to sea punching coal, this is the first time I’ve had a word with a rale, dacent woman. So don’t turn your back on me now, and we beginning to be friends.
ANNA–[Turning to him again–forcing a smile.] I’m not sore at you, honest.
BURKE–[Gratefully.] God bless you!
ANNA–[Changing the subject abruptly.] But if you honestly think the sea’s such a rotten life, why don’t you get out of it?
BURKE–[Surprised.] Work on land, is it? [She nods. He spits scornfully.] Digging spuds in the muck from dawn to dark, I suppose? [Vehemently.] I wasn’t made for it, Miss.
ANNA–[With a laugh.] I thought you’d say that.
BURKE–[Argumentatively.] But there’s good jobs and bad jobs at sea, like there’d be on land. I’m thinking if it’s in the stokehole of a proper liner I was, I’d be able to have a little house and be home to it wan week out of four. And I’m thinking that maybe then I’d have the luck to find a fine dacent girl–the like of yourself, now–would be willing to wed with me.
ANNA–[Turning away from him with a short laugh–uneasily.] Why, sure. Why not?
BURKE–[Edging up close to her–exultantly.] Then you think a girl the like of yourself might maybe not mind the past at all but only be seeing the good herself put in me?
ANNA–[In the same tone.] Why, sure.
BURKE–[Passionately.] She’d not be sorry for it, I’d take my oath! ‘Tis no more drinking and roving about I’d be doing then, but giving my pay day into her hand and staying at home with her as meek as a lamb each night of the week I’d be in port.
ANNA–[Moved in spite of herself and troubled by this half- concealed proposal–with a forced laugh.] All you got to do is find the girl.
BURKE–I have found her!
ANNA–[Half-frightenedly–trying to laugh it off.] You have? When? I thought you was saying–
BURKE–[Boldly and forcefully.] This night. [Hanging his head– humbly.] If she’ll be having me. [Then raising his eyes to hers– simply.] ‘Tis you I mean.
ANNA–[Is held by his eyes for a moment–then shrinks back from him with a strange, broken laugh.] Say–are you–going crazy? Are you trying to kid me? Proposing–to me!–for Gawd’s sake!–on such short acquaintance? [CHRIS comes out of the cabin and stands staring blinkingly astern. When he makes out ANNA in such intimate proximity to this strange sailor, an angry expression comes over his face.]
BURKE–[Following her–with fierce, pleading insistence.] I’m telling you there’s the will of God in it that brought me safe through the storm and fog to the wan spot in the world where you was! Think of that now, and isn’t it queer–
CHRIS–Anna! [He comes toward them, raging, his fists clenched.] Anna, you gat in cabin, you hear!
ANNA–[All her emotions immediately transformed into resentment at his bullying tone.] Who d’you think you’re talking to–a slave?
CHRIS–[Hurt–his voice breaking–pleadingly.] You need gat rest, Anna. You gat sleep. [She does not move. He turns on BURKE furiously.] What you doing here, you sailor fallar? You ain’t sick like oders. You gat in fo’c’s’tle. Dey give you bunk. [Threateningly.] You hurry, Ay tal you!
ANNA–[Impulsively.] But he is sick. Look at him. He can hardly stand up.
BURKE–[Straightening and throwing out his chest–with a bold laugh.] Is it giving me orders ye are, me bucko? Let you look out, then! With wan hand, weak as I am, I can break ye in two and fling the pieces over the side–and your crew after you. [Stopping abruptly.] I was forgetting. You’re her Old Man and I’d not raise a fist to you for the world. [His knees sag, he wavers and seems about to fall. ANNA utters an exclamation of alarm and hurries to his slde.]
ANNA–[Taking one of his arms over her shoulder.] Come on in the cabin. You can have my bed if there ain’t no other place.
BURKE–[With jubilant happiness–as they proceed toward the cabin.] Glory be to God, is it holding my arm about your neck you are! Anna! Anna! Sure it’s a sweet name is suited to you.
ANNA–[Guiding him carefully.] Sssh! Sssh!
BURKE–Whisht, is it? Indade, and I’ll not. I’ll be roaring it out like a fog horn over the sea! You’re the girl of the world and we’ll be marrying soon and I don’t care who knows it!
ANNA–[As she guides him through the cabin door.] Ssshh! Never mind that talk. You go to sleep. [They go out of sight in the cabin. CHRIS, who has been listening to BURKE’s last words with open-mouthed amazement stands looking after them helplessly.]
CHRIS–[Turns suddenly and shakes his fist out at the sea–with bitter hatred.] Dat’s your dirty trick, damn ole davil, you! [Then in a frenzy of rage.] But, py God, you don’t do dat! Not while Ay’m living! No, py God, you don’t!
* * * * *
CHRIS. CHRISTOPHERSON, captain of the barge “Simeon Winthrop”
ANNA CHRISTOPHERSON, Chris’s daughter
THREE MEN OF A STEAMER’S CREW
MAT BURKE, a stoker
JOHNSON, deckhand on the barge
ACT II: The barge, Simeon Winthrop, at anchor in the harbor of Provincetown, Mass. Ten days later.
ACT III: Cabin of the barge, at dock in Boston. A week later.
ACT IV: The same. Two days later.
Time of the Play–About 1910.
SCENE–“Johnny-The-Priest’s” saloon near South Street, New York City. The stage is divided into two sections, showing a small back room on the right. On the left, forward, of the barroom, a large window looking out on the street. Beyond it, the main entrance–a double swinging door. Farther back, another window. The bar runs from left to right nearly the whole length of the rear wall. In back of the bar, a small showcase displaying a few bottles of case goods, for which there is evidently little call. The remainder of the rear space in front of the large mirrors is occupied by half- barrels of cheap whiskey of the “nickel-a-shot” variety, from which the liquor is drawn by means of spigots. On the right is an open doorway leading to the back room. In the back room are four round wooden tables with five chairs grouped about each. In the rear, a family entrance opening on a side street.
It is late afternoon of a day in fall.
As the curtain rises, Johnny is discovered. “Johnny-The-Priest” deserves his nickname. With his pale, thin, clean-shaven face, mild blue eyes and white hair, a cassock would seem more suited to him than the apron he wears. Neither his voice nor his general manner dispel this illusion which has made him a personage of the water front. They are soft and bland. But beneath all his mildness one senses the man behind the mask–cynical, callous, hard as nails. He is lounging at ease behind the bar, a pair of spectacles on his nose, reading an evening paper.
Two longshoremen enter from the street, wearing their working aprons, the button of the union pinned conspicuously on the caps pulled sideways on their heads at an aggressive angle.
FIRST LONGSHOREMAN–[As they range themselves at the bar.] Gimme a shock. Number Two. [He tosses a coin on the bar.]
SECOND LONGSHOREMAN–Same here. [Johnny sets two glasses of barrel whiskey before them.]
FIRST LONGSHOREMAN–Here’s luck! [The other nods. They gulp down their whiskey.]
SECOND LONGSHOREMAN–[Putting money on the bar.] Give us another.
FIRST LONGSHOREMAN–Gimme a scoop this time–lager and porter. I’m dry.
SECOND LONGSHOREMAN–Same here. [Johnny draws the lager and porter and sets the big, foaming schooners before them. They drink down half the contents and start to talk together hurriedly in low tones. The door on the left is swung open and Larry enters. He is a boyish, red-cheeked, rather good-looking young fellow of twenty or so.]
LARRY–[Nodding to Johnny–cheerily.] Hello, boss.
JOHNNY–Hello, Larry. [With a glance at his watch.] Just on time. [LARRY goes to the right behind the bar, takes off his coat, and puts on an apron.]
FIRST LONGSHOREMAN–[Abruptly.] Let’s drink up and get back to it. [They finish their drinks and go out left. The POSTMAN enters as they leave. He exchanges nods with JOHNNY and throws a letter on the bar.]
THE POSTMAN–Addressed care of you, Johnny. Know him?
JOHNNY–[Picks up the letter, adjusting his spectacles. LARRY comes and peers over his shoulders. JOHNNY reads very slowly.] Christopher Christopherson.
THE POSTMAN–[Helpfully.] Square-head name.
LARRY–Old Chris–that’s who.
JOHNNY–Oh, sure. I was forgetting Chris carried a hell of a name like that. Letters come here for him sometimes before, I remember now. Long time ago, though.
THE POSTMAN–It’ll get him all right then?
JOHNNY–Sure thing. He comes here whenever he’s in port.
THE POSTMAN–[Turning to go.] Sailor, eh?
JOHNNY–[With a grin.] Captain of a coal barge.
THE POSTMAN–[Laughing.] Some job! Well, s’long.
JOHNNY–S’long. I’ll see he gets it. [The POSTMAN goes out. JOHNNY scrutinizes the letter.] You got good eyes, Larry. Where’s it from?
LARRY–[After a glance.] St. Paul. That’ll be in Minnesota, I’m thinkin’. Looks like a woman’s writing, too, the old divil! JOHNNY–He’s got a daughter somewheres out West, I think he told me once. [He puts the letter on the cash register.] Come to think of it, I ain’t seen old Chris in a dog’s age. [Putting his overcoat on, he comes around the end of the bar.] Guess I’ll be gettin’ home. See you to-morrow.
LARRY–Good-night to ye, boss. [As JOHNNY goes toward the street door, it is pushed open and CHRISTOPHER CHRISTOPHERSON enters. He is a short, squat, broad-shouldered man of about fifty, with a round, weather-beaten, red face from which his light blue eyes peer short-sightedly, twinkling with a simple good humor. His large mouth, overhung by a thick, drooping, yellow mustache, is childishly self-willed and weak, of an obstinate kindliness. A thick neck is jammed like a post into the heavy trunk of his body. His arms with their big, hairy, freckled hands, and his stumpy legs terminating in large flat feet, are awkwardly short and muscular. He walks with a clumsy, rolling gait. His voice, when not raised in a hollow boom, is toned down to a sly, confidential half-whisper with something vaguely plaintive in its quality. He is dressed in a wrinkled, ill-fitting dark suit of shore clothes, and wears a faded cap of gray cloth over his mop of grizzled, blond hair. Just now his face beams with a too-blissful happiness, and he has evidently been drinking. He reaches his hand out to JOHNNY.]
CHRIS–Hello, Yohnny! Have drink on me. Come on, Larry. Give us drink. Have one yourself. [Putting his hand in his pocket.] Ay gat money–plenty money.
JOHNNY–[Shakes CHRIS by the hand.] Speak of the devil. We was just talkin’ about you.
LARRY–[Coming to the end of the bar.] Hello, Chris. Put it there. [They shake hands.]
CHRIS–[Beaming.] Give us drink.
JOHNNY–[With a grin.] You got a half-snootful now. Where’d you get it?
CHRIS–[Grinning.] Oder fallar on oder barge–Irish fallar–he gat bottle vhiskey and we drank it, yust us two. Dot vhiskey gat kick, by yingo! Ay yust come ashore. Give us drink, Larry. Ay vas little drunk, not much. Yust feel good. [He laughs and commences to sing in a nasal, high-pitched quaver.]
[To the accompaniment of this last he waves his hand as if he were conducting an orchestra.]
JOHNNY–[With a laugh.] Same old Yosie, eh, Chris?
CHRIS–You don’t know good song when you hear him. Italian fallar on oder barge, he learn me dat. Give us drink. [He throws change on the bar.]
LARRY–[With a professional air.] What’s your pleasure, gentlemen?
JOHNNY–Small beer, Larry.
LARRY–[As he gets their drinks.] I’ll take a cigar on you.
CHRIS–[Lifting his glass.] Skoal! [He drinks.]
CHRIS–[Immediately.] Have oder drink.
JOHNNY–No. Some other time. Got to go home now. So you’ve just landed? Where are you in from this time?
CHRIS–Norfolk. Ve make slow voyage–dirty vedder–yust fog, fog, fog, all bloody time! [There is an insistent ring from the doorbell at the family entrance in the back room. Chris gives a start–hurriedly.] Ay go open, Larry. Ay forgat. It vas Marthy. She come with me. [He goes into the back room.]
LARRY–[With a chuckle.] He’s still got that same cow livin’ with him, the old fool!
JOHNNY–[With a grin.] A sport, Chris is. Well, I’ll beat it home. S’long. [He goes to the street door.]
LARRY–So long, boss.
JOHNNY–Oh–don’t forget to give him his letter.
LARRY–I won’t. [JOHNNY goes out. In the meantime, CHRIS has opened the family entrance door, admitting MARTHY. She might be forty or fifty. Her jowly, mottled face, with its thick red nose, is streaked with interlacing purple veins. Her thick, gray hair is piled anyhow in a greasy mop on top of her round head. Her figure is flabby and fat; her breath comes in wheezy gasps; she speaks in a loud, mannish voice, punctuated by explosions of hoarse laughter. But there still twinkles in her blood-shot blue eyes a youthful lust for life which hard usage has failed to stifle, a sense of humor mocking, but good-tempered. She wears a man’s cap, double-breasted man’s jacket, and a grimy, calico skirt. Her bare feet are encased in a man’s brogans several sizes too large for her, which gives her a shuffling, wobbly gait.]
MARTHY–[Grumblingly.] What yuh tryin’ to do, Dutchy–keep me standin’ out there all day? [She comes forward and sits at the table in the right corner, front.]
CHRIS–[Mollifyingly.] Ay’m sorry, Marthy. Ay talk to Yohnny. Ay forgat. What you goin’ take for drink?
MARTHY–[Appeased.] Gimme a scoop of lager an’ ale.
CHRIS–Ay go bring him back. [He returns to the bar.] Lager and ale for Marthy, Larry. Vhiskey for me. [He throws change on the bar.]
LARRY–Right you are. [Then remembering, he takes the letter from in back of the bar.] Here’s a letter for you–from St. Paul, Minnesota–and a lady’s writin’. [He grins.]
CHRIS–[Quickly–taking it.] Oh, den it come from my daughter, Anna. She live dere. [He turns the letter over in his hands uncertainly.] Ay don’t gat letter from Anna–must be a year.
LARRY–[Jokingly.] That’s a fine fairy tale to be tellin’–your daughter! Sure I’ll bet it’s some bum.
CHRIS–[Soberly.] No. Dis come from Anna. [Engrossed by the letter in his hand–uncertainly.] By golly, Ay tank Ay’m too drunk for read dis letter from Anna. Ay tank Ay sat down for a minute. You bring drinks in back room, Larry. [He goes into the room on right.]
MARTHY–[Angrily.] Where’s my lager an’ ale, yuh big stiff?
CHRIS–[Preoccupied.] Larry bring him. [He sits down opposite her. LARRY brings in the drinks and sets them on the table. He and MARTHY exchange nods of recognition. LARRY stands looking at CHRIS curiously. MARTHY takes a long draught of her schooner and heaves a huge sigh of satisfaction, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. CHRIS stares at the letter for a moment–slowly opens it, and, squinting his eyes, commences to read laboriously, his lips moving as he spells out the words. As he reads his face lights up with an expression of mingled joy and bewilderment.]
MARTHY–[Her curiosity also aroused.] What’s that yuh got–a letter, fur Gawd’s sake?
CHRIS–[Pauses for a moment, after finishing the letter, as if to let the news sink in–then suddenly pounds his fist on the table with happy excitement.] Py yiminy! Yust tank, Anna say she’s comin’ here right avay! She gat sick on yob in St. Paul, she say. It’s short letter, don’t tal me much more’n dat. [Beaming.] Py golly, dat’s good news all at one time for ole fallar! [Then turning to MARTHY, rather shamefacedly.] You know, Marthy, Ay’ve tole you Ay don’t see my Anna since she vas little gel in Sveden five year ole.
MARTHY–How old’ll she be now?
CHRIS–She must be–lat me see–she must be twenty year ole, py Yo!
LARRY–[Surprised.] You’ve not seen her in fifteen years?
CHRIS–[Suddenly growing somber–in a low tone.] No. Ven she vas little gel, Ay vas bo’sun on vindjammer. Ay never gat home only few time dem year. Ay’m fool sailor fallar. My voman–Anna’s mother–she gat tired vait all time Sveden for me ven Ay don’t never come. She come dis country, bring Anna, dey go out Minnesota, live with her cousins on farm. Den ven her mo’der die ven Ay vas on voyage, Ay tank it’s better dem cousins keep Anna. Ay tank it’s better Anna live on farm, den she don’t know dat ole davil, sea, she don’t know fader like me.
LARRY–[With a wink at MARTHY.] This girl, now, ‘ll be marryin’ a sailor herself, likely. It’s in the blood.
CHRIS–[Suddenly springing to his feet and smashing his fist on the table in a rage.] No, py God! She don’t do dat!
MARTHY–[Grasping her schooner hastily–angrily.] Hey, look out, yuh nut! Wanta spill my suds for me?
LARRY–[Amazed.] Oho, what’s up with you? Ain’t you a sailor yourself now, and always been?
CHRIS–[Slowly.] Dat’s yust vhy Ay say it. [Forcing a smile.] Sailor vas all right fallar, but not for marry gel. No. Ay know dat. Anna’s mo’der, she know it, too.
LARRY–[As CHRIS remains sunk in gloomy reflection.] When is your daughter comin’? Soon?
CHRIS–[Roused.] Py yiminy, Ay forgat. [Reads through the letter hurriedly.] She say she come right avay, dat’s all.
LARRY–She’ll maybe be comin’ here to look for you, I s’pose. [He returns to the bar, whistling. Left alone with MARTHY, who stares at him with a twinkle of malicious humor in her eyes, CHRIS suddenly becomes desperately ill-at-ease. He fidgets, then gets up hurriedly.]
CHRIS–Ay gat speak with Larry. Ay be right back. [Mollifyingly.] Ay bring you oder drink.
MARTHY–[Emptying her glass.] Sure. That’s me. [As he retreats with the glass she guffaws after him derisively.]
CHRIS–[To LARRY in an alarmed whisper.] Py yingo, Ay gat gat Marthy shore off barge before Anna come! Anna raise hell if she find dat out. Marthy raise hell, too, for go, py golly!
LARRY–[With a chuckle.] Serve ye right, ye old divil–havin’ a woman at your age!
CHRIS–[Scratching his head in a quandary.] You tal me lie for tal Marthy, Larry, so’s she gat off barge quick.
LARRY–She knows your daughter’s comin’. Tell her to get the hell out of it.
CHRIS–No. Ay don’t like make her feel bad.
LARRY–You’re an old mush! Keep your girl away from the barge, then. She’ll likely want to stay ashore anyway. [Curiously.] What does she work at, your Anna?
CHRIS–She stay on dem cousins’ farm ’till two year ago. Dan she gat yob nurse gel in St. Paul. [Then shaking his head resolutely.] But Ay don’t vant for her gat yob now. Ay vant for her stay with me.
LARRY–[Scornfully.] On a coal barge! She’ll not like that, I’m thinkin’.
MARTHY–[Shouts from next room.] Don’t I get that bucket o’ suds, Dutchy?
CHRIS–[Startled–in apprehensive confusion.] Yes, Ay come, Marthy.
LARRY–[Drawing the lager and ale, hands it to CHRIS–laughing.] Now you’re in for it! You’d better tell her straight to get out!
CHRIS–[Shaking in his boots.] Py golly. [He takes her drink in to MARTHY and sits down at the table. She sips it in silence. LARRY moves quietly close to the partition to listen, grinning with expectation. CHRIS seems on the verge of speaking, hesitates, gulps down his whiskey desperately as if seeking for courage. He attempts to whistle a few bars of “Yosephine” with careless bravado, but the whistle peters out futilely. MARTHY stares at him keenly, taking in his embarrassment with a malicious twinkle of amusement in her eye. CHRIS clears his throat.] Marthy–
MARTHY–[Aggressively.] Wha’s that? [Then, pretending to fly into a rage, her eyes enjoying CHRIS’ misery.] I’m wise to what’s in back of your nut, Dutchy. Yuh want to git rid o’ me, huh?–now she’s comin’. Gimme the bum’s rush ashore, huh? Lemme tell yuh, Dutchy, there ain’t a square-head workin’ on a boat man enough to git away with that. Don’t start nothin’ yuh can’t finish!
CHRIS–[Miserably.] Ay don’t start nutting, Marthy.
MARTHY–[Glares at him for a second–then cannot control a burst of laughter.] Ho-ho! Yuh’re a scream, Square-head–an honest-ter- Gawd knockout! Ho-ho! [She wheezes, panting for breath.]
CHRIS–[With childish pique.] Ay don’t see nutting for laugh at.
MARTHY–Take a slant in the mirror and yuh’ll see. Ho-ho! [Recovering from her mirth–chuckling, scornfully.] A square-head tryin’ to kid Marthy Owen at this late day!–after me campin’ with barge men the last twenty years. I’m wise to the game, up, down, and sideways. I ain’t been born and dragged up on the water front for nothin’. Think I’d make trouble, huh? Not me! I’ll pack up me duds an’ beat it. I’m quittin’ yuh, get me? I’m tellin’ yuh I’m sick of stickin’ with yuh, and I’m leavin’ yuh flat, see? There’s plenty of other guys on other barges waitin’ for me. Always was, I always found. [She claps the astonished CHRIS on the back.] So cheer up, Dutchy! I’ll be offen the barge before she comes. You’ll be rid o’ me for good–and me o’ you–good riddance for both of us. Ho-ho!
CHRIS–[Seriously.] Ay don’ tank dat. You vas good gel, Marthy.
MARTHY–[Grinning.] Good girl? Aw, can the bull! Well, yuh treated me square, yuhself. So it’s fifty-fifty. Nobody’s sore at nobody. We’re still good frien’s, huh? [LARRY returns to bar.]
CHRIS–[Beaming now that he sees his troubles disappearing.] Yes, py golly.
MARTHY–That’s the talkin’! In all my time I tried never to split with a guy with no hard feelin’s. But what was yuh so scared about–that I’d kick up a row? That ain’t Marthy’s way. [Scornfully.] Think I’d break my heart to lose yuh? Commit suicide, huh? Ho-ho! Gawd! The world’s full o’ men if that’s all I’d worry about! [Then with a grin, after emptying her glass.] Blow me to another scoop, huh? I’ll drink your kid’s health for yuh.
CHRIS–[Eagerly.] Sure tang. Ay go gat him. [He takes the two glasses into the bar.] Oder drink. Same for both.
LARRY–[Getting the drinks and putting them on the bar.] She’s not such a bad lot, that one.
CHRIS–[Jovially.] She’s good gel, Ay tal you! Py golly, Ay calabrate now! Give me vhiskey here at bar, too. [He puts down money. LARRY serves him.] You have drink, Larry.
LARRY–[Virtuously.] You know I never touch it.
CHRIS–You don’t know what you miss. Skoal! [He drinks–then begins to sing loudly.]
[He picks up the drinks for MARTHY and himself and walks unsteadily into the back room, singing.]
MARTHY–[Grinning, hands to ears.] Gawd!
CHRIS–[Sitting down.] Ay’m good singer, yes? Ve drink, eh? Skoal! Ay calabrate! [He drinks.] Ay calabrate ’cause Anna’s coming home. You know, Marthy, Ay never write for her to come, ’cause Ay tank Ay’m no good for her. But all time Ay hope like hell some day she vant for see me and den she come. And dat’s vay it happen now, py yiminy! [His face beaming.] What you tank she look like, Marthy? Ay bet you she’s fine, good, strong gel, pooty like hell! Living on farm made her like dat. And Ay bet you some day she marry good, steady land fallar here in East, have home all her own, have kits– and dan Ay’m ole grandfader, py golly! And Ay go visit dem every time Ay gat in port near! [Bursting with joy.] By yiminy crickens, Ay calabrate dat! [Shouts.] Bring oder drink, Larry! [He smashes his fist on the table with a bang.]
LARRY–[Coming in from bar–irritably.] Easy there! Don’t be breakin’ the table, you old goat!
CHRIS–[By way of reply, grins foolishly and begins to sing.] “My Yosephine comes board de ship–“
MARTHY–[Touching CHRIS’ arm persuasively.] You’re soused to the ears, Dutchy. Go out and put a feed into you. It’ll sober you up. [Then as CHRIS shakes his head obstinately.] Listen, yuh old nut! Yuh don’t know what time your kid’s liable to show up. Yuh want to be sober when she comes, don’t yuh?
CHRIS–[Aroused–gets unsteadily to his feet.] Py golly, yes.
LARRY–That’s good sense for you. A good beef stew’ll fix you. Go round the corner.
CHRIS–All right. Ay be back soon, Marthy. [CHRIS goes through the bar and out the street door.]
LARRY–He’ll come round all right with some grub in him.
MARTHY–Sure. [LARRY goes back to the bar and resumes his newspaper. MARTHY sips what is left of her schooner reflectively. There is the ring of the family entrance bell. LARRY comes to the door and opens it a trifle–then, with a puzzled expression, pulls it wide. ANNA CHRISTOPHERSON enters. She is a tall, blond, fully- developed girl of twenty, handsome after a large, Viking-daughter fashion but now run down in health and plainly showing all the outward evidences of belonging to the world’s oldest profession. Her youthful face is already hard and cynical beneath its layer of make-up. Her clothes are the tawdry finery of peasant stock turned prostitute. She comes and sinks wearily in a chair by the table, left front.]
ANNA–Gimme a whiskey–ginger ale on the side. [Then, as LARRY turns to go, forcing a winning smile at him.] And don’t be stingy, baby.
LARRY–[Sarcastically.] Shall I serve it in a pail?
ANNA–[With a hard laugh.] That suits me down to the ground. [LARRY goes into the bar. The two women size each other up with frank stares. LARRY comes back with the drink which he sets before ANNA and returns to the bar again. ANNA downs her drink at a gulp. Then, after a moment, as the alcohol begins to rouse her, she turns to MARTHY with a friendly smile.] Gee, I needed that bad, all right, all right!
MARTHY–[Nodding her head sympathetically.] Sure–yuh look all in. Been on a bat?
ANNA–No–travelling–day and a half on the train. Had to sit up all night in the dirty coach, too. Gawd, I thought I’d never get here!
MARTHY–[With a start–looking at her intently.] Where’d yuh come from, huh?
ANNA–St. Paul–out in Minnesota.
MARTHY–[Staring at her in amazement–slowly.] So–yuh’re–[She suddenly bursts out into hoarse, ironical laughter.] Gawd!
ANNA–All the way from Minnesota, sure. [Flaring up.] What you laughing at? Me?
MARTHY–[Hastily.] No, honest, kid. I was thinkin’ of somethin’ else.
ANNA–[Mollified–with a smile.] Well, I wouldn’t blame you, at that. Guess I do look rotten–yust out of the hospital two weeks. I’m going to have another ‘ski. What d’you say? Have something on me?
MARTHY–Sure I will. T’anks. [She calls.] Hey, Larry! Little service! [He comes in.]
ANNA–Same for me.
MARTHY–Same here. [LARRY takes their glasses and goes out.]
ANNA–Why don’t you come sit over here, be sociable. I’m a dead stranger in this burg–and I ain’t spoke a word with no one since day before yesterday.
MARTHY–Sure thing. [She shuffles over to ANNA’S table and sits down opposite her. LARRY brings the drinks and ANNA pays him.]
ANNA–Skoal! Here’s how! [She drinks.]
MARTHY–Here’s luck! [She takes a gulp from her schooner.]
ANNA–[Taking a package of Sweet Caporal cigarettes from her bag.] Let you smoke in here, won’t they?
MARTHY–[Doubtfully.] Sure. [Then with evident anxiety.] On’y trow it away if yuh hear someone comin’.
ANNA–[Lighting one and taking a deep inhale.] Gee, they’re fussy in this dump, ain’t they? [She puffs, staring at the table top. MARTHY looks her over with a new penetrating interest, taking in every detail of her face. ANNA suddenly becomes conscious of this appraising stare–resentfully.] Ain’t nothing wrong with me, is there? You’re looking hard enough.
MARTHY–[Irritated by the other’s tone–scornfully.] Ain’t got to look much. I got your number the minute you stepped in the door.
ANNA–[Her eyes narrowing.] Ain’t you smart! Well, I got yours, too, without no trouble. You’re me forty years from now. That’s you! [She gives a hard little laugh.]
MARTHY–[Angrily.] Is that so? Well, I’ll tell you straight, kiddo, that Marthy Owen never–[She catches herself up short–with a grin.] What are you and me scrappin’ over? Let’s cut it out, huh? Me, I don’t want no hard feelin’s with no one. [Extending her hand.] Shake and forget it, huh?
ANNA–[Shakes her hand gladly.] Only too glad to. I ain’t looking for trouble. Let’s have ‘nother. What d’you say?
MARTHY–[Shaking her head.] Not for mine. I’m full up. And you– Had anythin’ to eat lately?
ANNA–Not since this morning on the train.
MARTHY–Then yuh better go easy on it, hadn’t yuh?
ANNA–[After a moment’s hesitation.] Guess you’re right. I got to meet someone, too. But my nerves is on edge after that rotten trip.
MARTHY–Yuh said yuh was just outa the hospital?
ANNA–Two weeks ago. [Leaning over to MARTHY confidentially.] The joint I was in out in St. Paul got raided. That was the start. The judge give all us girls thirty days. The others didn’t seem to mind being in the cooler much. Some of ’em was used to it. But me, I couldn’t stand it. It got my goat right–couldn’t eat or sleep or nothing. I never could stand being caged up nowheres. I got good and sick and they had to send me to the hospital. It was nice there. I was sorry to leave it, honest!
MARTHY–[After a slight pause.] Did yuh say yuh got to meet someone here?
ANNA–Yes. Oh, not what you mean. It’s my Old Man I got to meet. Honest! It’s funny, too. I ain’t seen him since I was a kid–don’t even know what he looks like–yust had a letter every now and then. This was always the only address he give me to write him back. He’s yanitor of some building here now–used to be a sailor.
ANNA–Sure. And I was thinking maybe, seeing he ain’t never done a thing for me in my life, he might be willing to stake me to a room and eats till I get rested up. [Wearily.] Gee, I sure need that rest! I’m knocked out. [Then resignedly.] But I ain’t expecting much from him. Give you a kick when you’re down, that’s what all men do. [With sudden passion.] Men, I hate ’em–all of ’em! And I don’t expect he’ll turn out no better than the rest. [Then with sudden interest.] Say, do you hang out around this dump much?
MARTHY–Oh, off and on.
ANNA–Then maybe you know him–my Old Man–or at least seen him?
MARTHY–It ain’t old Chris, is it?
MARTHY–Chris Christopherson, his full name is.
ANNA–[Excitedly.] Yes, that’s him! Anna Christopherson–that’s my real name–only out there I called myself Anna Christie. So you know him, eh?
MARTHY–[Evasively.] Seen him about for years.
ANNA–Say, what’s he like, tell me, honest?
MARTHY–Oh, he’s short and–
ANNA–[Impatiently.] I don’t care what he looks like. What kind is he?
MARTHY–[Earnestly.] Well, yuh can bet your life, kid, he’s as good an old guy as ever walked on two feet. That goes!
ANNA–[Pleased.] I’m glad to hear it. Then you think’s he’ll stake me to that rest cure I’m after?
MARTHY–[Emphatically.] Surest thing you know. [Disgustedly.] But where’d yuh get the idea he was a janitor?
ANNA–He wrote me he was himself.
MARTHY–Well, he was lyin’. He ain’t. He’s captain of a barge–five men under him.
ANNA–[Disgusted in her turn.] A barge? What kind of a barge?
ANNA–A coal barge! [With a harsh laugh.] If that ain’t a swell job to find your long lost Old Man working at! Gee, I knew something’d be bound to turn out wrong–always does with me. That puts my idea of his giving me a rest on the bum.
MARTHY–What d’yuh mean?
ANNA–I s’pose he lives on the boat, don’t he?
MARTHY–Sure. What about it? Can’t you live on it, too?
ANNA–[Scornfully.] Me? On a dirty coal barge! What d’you think I am?
MARTHY–[Resentfully.] What d’yuh know about barges, huh? Bet yuh ain’t never seen one. That’s what comes of his bringing yuh up inland–away from the old devil sea–where yuh’d be safe–Gawd! [The irony of it strikes her sense of humor and she laughs hoarsely.]
ANNA–[Angrily.] His bringing me up! Is that what he tells people! I like his nerve! He let them cousins of my Old Woman’s keep me on their farm and work me to death like a dog.
MARTHY–Well, he’s got queer notions on some things. I’ve heard him say a farm was the best place for a kid.
ANNA–Sure. That’s what he’d always answer back–and a lot of crazy stuff about staying away from the sea–stuff I couldn’t make head or tail to. I thought he must be nutty.
MARTHY–He is on that one point. [Casually.] So yuh didn’t fall for life on the farm, huh?
ANNA–I should say not! The old man of the family, his wife, and four sons–I had to slave for all of ’em. I was only a poor relation, and they treated me worse than they dare treat a hired girl. [After a moment’s hesitation–somberly.] It was one of the sons–the youngest–started me–when I was sixteen. After that, I hated ’em so I’d killed ’em all if I’d stayed. So I run away–to St. Paul.
MARTHY–[Who has been listening sympathetically.] I’ve heard Old Chris talkin’ about your bein’ a nurse girl out there. Was that all a bluff yuh put up when yuh wrote him?
ANNA–Not on your life, it wasn’t. It was true for two years. I didn’t go wrong all at one jump. Being a nurse girl was yust what finished me. Taking care of other people’s kids, always listening to their bawling and crying, caged in, when you’re only a kid yourself and want to go out and see things. At last I got the chance–to get into that house. And you bet your life I took it! [Defiantly.] And I ain’t sorry neither. [After a pause–with bitter hatred.] It was all men’s fault–the whole business. It was men on the farm ordering and beating me–and giving me the wrong start. Then when I was a nurse, it was men again hanging around, bothering me, trying to see what they could get. [She gives a hard laugh.] And now it’s men all the time. Gawd, I hate ’em all, every mother’s son of ’em! Don’t you?
MARTHY–Oh, I dunno. There’s good ones and bad ones, kid. You’ve just had a run of bad luck with ’em, that’s all. Your Old Man, now–old Chris–he’s a good one.
ANNA–[Sceptically.] He’ll have to show me.
MARTHY–Yuh kept right on writing him yuh was a nurse girl still, even after yuh was in the house, didn’t yuh?
ANNA–Sure. [Cynically.] Not that I think he’d care a darn.
MARTHY–Yuh’re all wrong about him, kid, [Earnestly.] I know Old Chris well for a long time. He’s talked to me ’bout you lots o’ times. He thinks the world o’ you, honest he does.
ANNA–Aw, quit the kiddin’!
MARTHY–Honest! Only, he’s a simple old guy, see? He’s got nutty notions. But he means well, honest. Listen to me, kid–[She is interrupted by the opening and shutting of the street door in the bar and by hearing CHRIS’ voice.] Ssshh!
CHRIS–[Who has entered the bar. He seems considerably sobered up.] Py golly, Larry, dat grub taste good. Marthy in back?
LARRY–Sure–and another tramp with her. [CHRIS starts for the entrance to the back room.]
MARTHY–[To ANNA in a hurried, nervous whisper.] That’s him now. He’s comin’ in here. Brace up!
ANNA–Who? [Chris opens the door.]
MARTHY–[As if she were greeting him for the first time]. Why hello, Old Chris. [Then before he can speak, she shuffles hurriedly past him into the bar, beckoning him to follow her.] Come here. I wanta tell yuh somethin’. [He goes out to her. She speaks hurriedly in a low voice.] Listen! I’m goin’ to beat it down to the barge–pack up me duds and blow. That’s her in there– your Anna–just come–waitin’ for yuh. Treat her right, see? She’s been sick. Well, s’long! [She goes into the back room–to ANNA.] S’long, kid. I gotta beat it now. See yuh later.
ANNA–[Nervously.] So long. [MARTHY goes quickly out of the family entrance.] LARRY–[Looking at the stupefied CHRIS curiously.] Well, what’s up now?
CHRIS–[Vaguely.] Nutting–nutting. [He stands before the door to the back room in an agony of embarrassed emotion–then he forces himself to a bold decision, pushes open the door and walks in. He stands there, casts a shy glance at ANNA, whose brilliant clothes, and, to him, high-toned appearance awe him terribly. He looks about him with pitiful nervousness as if to avoid the appraising look with which she takes in his face, his clothes, etc–his voice seeming to plead for her forbearance.] Anna!
ANNA–[Acutely embarrassed in her turn.] Hello–father. She told me it was you. I yust got here a little while ago.
CHRIS–[Goes slowly over to her chair.] It’s good–for see you– after all dem years, Anna. [He bends down over her. After an embarrassed struggle they manage to kiss each other.]
ANNA–[A trace of genuine feeling in her voice.] It’s good to see you, too.
CHRIS–[Grasps her arms and looks into her face–then overcome by a wave of fierce tenderness.] Anna lilla! Anna lilla! [Takes her in his arms.]
ANNA–[Shrinks away from him, half-frightened.] What’s that– Swedish? I don’t know it. [Then as if seeking relief from the tension in a voluble chatter.] Gee, I had an awful trip coming here. I’m all in. I had to sit up in the dirty coach all night– couldn’t get no sleep, hardly–and then I had a hard job finding this place. I never been in New York before, you know, and–
CHRIS–[Who has been staring down at her face admiringly, not hearing what she says–impulsively.] You know you vas awful pooty gel, Anna? Ay bet all men see you fall in love with you, py yiminy!
ANNA–[Repelled–harshly.] Cut it! You talk same as they all do.
CHRIS–[Hurt–humbly.] Ain’t no harm for your fader talk dat vay, Anna.
ANNA–[Forcing a short laugh.] No–course not. Only–it’s funny to see you and not remember nothing. You’re like–a stranger.
CHRIS–[Sadly.] Ay s’pose. Ay never come home only few times ven you vas kit in Sveden. You don’t remember dat?
ANNA–No. [Resentfully.] But why didn’t you never come home them days? Why didn’t you never come out West to see me?
CHRIS–[Slowly.] Ay tank, after your mo’der die, ven Ay vas avay on voyage, it’s better for you you don’t never see me! [He sinks down in the chair opposite her dejectedly–then turns to her– sadly.] Ay don’t know, Anna, vhy Ay never come home Sveden in ole year. Ay vant come home end of every voyage. Ay vant see your mo’der, your two bro’der before dey vas drowned, you ven you vas born–but–Ay–don’t go. Ay sign on oder ships–go South America, go Australia, go China, go every port all over world many times– but Ay never go aboard ship sail for Sveden. Ven Ay gat money for pay passage home as passenger den–[He bows his head guiltily.] Ay forgat and Ay spend all money. Ven Ay tank again, it’s too late. [He sighs.] Ay don’t know vhy but dat’s vay with most sailor fallar, Anna. Dat ole davil sea make dem crazy fools with her dirty tricks. It’s so.
ANNA–[Who has watched him keenly while he has been speaking–with a trace of scorn in her voice.] Then you think the sea’s to blame for everything, eh? Well, you’re still workin’ on it, ain’t you, spite of all you used to write me about hating it. That dame was here told me you was captain of a coal barge–and you wrote me you was yanitor of a building!
CHRIS–[Embarrassed but lying glibly.] Oh, Ay work on land long time as yanitor. Yust short time ago Ay got dis yob cause Ay vas sick, need open air.
ANNA–[Sceptically.] Sick? You? You’d never think it.
CHRIS–And, Anna, dis ain’t real sailor yob. Dis ain’t real boat on sea. She’s yust ole tub–like piece of land with house on it dat float. Yob on her ain’t sea yob. No. Ay don’t gat yob on sea, Anna, if Ay die first. Ay swear dat, ven your mo’der die. Ay keep my word, py yingo!
ANNA–[Perplexed.] Well, I can’t see no difference. [Dismissing the subject.] Speaking of being sick, I been there myself–yust out of the hospital two weeks ago.
CHRIS–[Immediately all concern.] You, Anna? Py golly! [Anxiously.] You feel better now, dough, don’t you? You look little tired, dat’s all!
ANNA–[Wearily.] I am. Tired to death. I need a long rest and I don’t see much chance of getting it.
CHRIS–What you mean, Anna?
ANNA–Well, when I made up my mind to come to see you, I thought you was a yanitor–that you’d have a place where, maybe, if you didn’t mind having me, I could visit a while and rest up–till I felt able to get back on the job again.
CHRIS–[Eagerly.] But Ay gat place, Anna–nice place. You rest all you want, py yiminy! You don’t never have to vork as nurse gel no more. You stay with me, py golly!
ANNA–[Surprised and pleased by his eagerness–with a smile.] Then you’re really glad to see me–honest?
CHRIS–[Pressing one of her hands in both of his.] Anna, Ay like see you like hell, Ay tal you! And don’t you talk no more about gatting yob. You stay with me. Ay don’t see you for long time, you don’t forgat dat. [His voice trembles.] Ay’m gatting ole. Ay gat no one in vorld but you.
ANNA–[Touched–embarrassed by this unfamiliar emotion.] Thanks. It sounds good to hear someone–talk to me that way. Say, though– if you’re so lonely–it’s funny–why ain’t you ever married again?
CHRIS–[Shaking his head emphatically–after a pause.] Ay love your mo’der too much for ever do dat, Anna.
ANNA–[Impressed–slowly.] I don’t remember nothing about her. What was she like? Tell me.
CHRIS–Ay tal you all about everytang–and you tal me all tangs happen to you. But not here now. Dis ain’t good place for young gel, anyway. Only no good sailor fallar come here for gat drunk. [He gets to his feet quickly and picks up her bag.] You come with me, Anna. You need lie down, gat rest.
ANNA–[Half rises to her feet, then sits down again.] Where’re you going?
CHRIS–Come. Ve gat on board.
ANNA–[Disappointedly.] On board your barge, you mean? [Dryly.] Nix for mine! [Then seeing his crestfallen look–forcing a smile.] Do you think that’s a good place for a young girl like me–a coal barge?
CHRIS–[Dully.] Yes, Ay tank. [He hesitates–then continues more and more pleadingly.] You don’t know how nice it’s on barge, Anna. Tug come and ve gat towed out on voyage–yust water all round, and sun, and fresh air, and good grub for make you strong, healthy gel. You see many tangs you don’t see before. You gat moonlight at night, maybe; see steamer pass; see schooner make sail–see everytang dat’s pooty. You need take rest like dat. You work too hard for young gel already. You need vacation, yes!
ANNA–[Who has listened to him with a growing interest–with an uncertain laugh.] It sounds good to hear you tell it. I’d sure like a trip on the water, all right. It’s the barge idea has me stopped. Well, I’ll go down with you and have a look–and maybe I’ll take a chance. Gee, I’d do anything once.
CHRIS–[Picks up her bag again.] Ye go, eh?
ANNA–What’s the rush? Wait a second. [Forgetting the situation for a moment, she relapses into the familiar form and flashes one of her winning trade smiles at him.] Gee, I’m thirsty.
CHRIS–[Sets down her bag immediately–hastily.] Ay’m sorry, Anna. What you tank you like for drink, eh?
ANNA–[Promptly.] I’ll take a–[Then suddenly reminded– confusedly.] I don’t know. What’a they got here?
CHRIS–[With a grin.] Ay don’t tank dey got much fancy drink for young gel in dis place, Anna. Yinger ale–sas’prilla, maybe.
ANNA–[Forcing a laugh herself.] Make it sas, then.
CHRIS–[Coming up to her–with a wink.] Ay tal you, Anna, we calabrate, yes–dis one time because we meet after many year. [In a half whisper, embarrassedly.] Dey gat good port wine, Anna. It’s good for you. Ay tank–little bit–for give you appetite. It ain’t strong, neider. One glass don’t go to your head, Ay promise.
ANNA–[With a half hysterical laugh.] All right! I’ll take port.
CHRIS–Ay go gat him. [He goes out to the bar. As soon as the door closes, Anna starts to her feet.]
ANNA–[Picking up her bag–half–aloud–stammeringly.] Gawd, I can’t stand this! I better beat it. [Then she lets her bag drop, stumbles over to her chair again, and covering her face with her hands, begins to sob.]
LARRY–[Putting down his paper as CHRIS comes up–with a grin.] Well, who’s the blond?
CHRIS–[Proudly.] Dat vas Anna, Larry.
LARRY–[In amazement.] Your daughter, Anna? [CHRIS nods. LARRY lets a long, low whistle escape him and turns away embarrassedly.]
CHRIS–Don’t you tank she vas pooty gel, Larry?
LARRY–[Rising to the occasion.] Sure! A peach!
CHRIS–You bet you! Give me drink for take back–one port vine for Anna–she calabrate dis one time with me–and small beer for me.
LARRY–[As he gets the drinks.] Small beer for you, eh? She’s reformin’ you already.
CHRIS–[Pleased.] You bet! [He takes the drinks. As she hears him coming, ANNA hastily dries her eyes, tries to smile. CHRIS comes in and sets the drinks down on the table–stares at her for a second anxiously–patting her hand.] You look tired, Anna. Veil, Ay make you take good long rest now. [Picking up his beer.] Come, you drink vine. It put new life in you. [She lifts her glass–he grins.] Skoal, Anna! You know dat Svedish word?
ANNA–Skoal! [Downing her port at a gulp like a drink of whiskey– her lips trembling.] Skoal? Guess I know that word, all right, all right!
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