The Easiest Way
Part 3 out of 3
ELFIE. I think Jerry is getting cold feet. He's seeing a little too
much of me [_Places candy-box on sofa._] nowadays.
LAURA. What makes you think that?
ELFIE. I think he is getting a relapse of that front-row habit.
There's no use in talking, Laura, it's a great thing for a girl's
credit when a man like Jerry can take two or three friends to the
theatre, and when you make your entrance delicately point to you with
his forefinger and say, "The third one from the front on the left
belongs to muh." The old fool's hanging around some of these musical
comedies lately, and I'm getting a little nervous every time rent day
LAURA. Oh, I guess you'll get along all right, Elfie.
ELFIE. [_With serene self-satisfaction._] Oh, that's a cinch [_Rises;
crosses to table, looking in dresser mirror at herself, and giving her
hat and hair little touches._], but I like to leave well enough alone,
and if I had to make a change right now it would require a whole lot
of thought and attention, to say nothing of the inconvenience, and I'm
so nicely settled in my flat. [_She sees the pianola._] Say, dearie,
when did you get the piano-player? I got one of them phonographs
[_Crosses to pianola, tries the levers, &c._], but this has got that
beat a city block. How does it work? What did it cost?
LAURA. I don't know.
ELFIE. Well, Jerry's got to stake me to one of these. [_Looks over
the rolls on top. Mumbles to herself._] "Tannhauser, William Tell,
Chopin." [_Then louder._] Listen, dear. Ain't you got anything else
except all this high-brow stuff?
LAURA. What do you want?
ELFIE. Oh, something with a regular tune to it [_Looks at empty box on
pianola._]. Oh, here's one; just watch me tear this off. [_The roll
is the tune of "Bon-Bon Buddie, My Chocolate Drop." She starts to play
and moves the lever marked "Swell" wide open, increases the tempo, and
is pumping with all the delight and enthusiasm of a child._] Ain't it
LAURA. Gracious, Elfie, don't play so loud. What's the matter?
ELFIE. I shoved over that thing marked "Swell." [_Stops and turns.
Rises; crosses to centre and stands._] I sure will have to speak to
Jerry about this. I'm stuck on that swell thing. Hurry up. [LAURA
_appears._] Gee! you look pale. [_And then in a tone of sympathy:_]
I'll just bet you and Will have had a fight, and he always gets the
best of you, doesn't he, dearie? [LAURA _crosses to dresser, and
busies herself._] Listen. Don't you think you can ever get him
trained? I almost threw Jerry down the stairs the other night and he
came right back with a lot of American beauties and a check. I told
him if he didn't look out I'd throw him down-stairs every night. He's
getting too damned independent and it's got me nervous. Oh, dear, I
s'pose I will have to go back on the stage. [_Sits in armchair._
LAURA. In the chorus?
ELFIE. Well, I should say not. I'm going to give up my musical career.
Charlie Burgess is putting on a new play, and he says he has a part
in it for me if I want to go back. It isn't much, but very
important,--sort of a pantomime part. A lot of people talk about me,
and just at the right time I walk across the stage and make an awful
hit. I told Jerry that if I went [LAURA _crosses to sofa, picks up
candy-box, puts it upon desk, gets telegram from table, crosses to
centre._] on he'd have to come across with one of those Irish crochet
lace gowns. He fell for it. Do you know, dearie, I think he'd sell out
his business just to have me back on the stage for a couple of weeks,
just to give box-parties every night for my _en_-trance and _ex_-its.
LAURA. [_Seriously._] Elfie! [LAURA _takes_ ELFIE _by the hand, and
leads her over to sofa._ LAURA _sits,_ ELFIE _standing._
ELFIE. Yes, dear.
LAURA. Come over here and sit down.
ELFIE. What's up?
LAURA. Do you know what I'm going to ask of you?
ELFIE. If it's a touch, you'll have to wait until next week. [_Sits
LAURA. No: just a little advice.
ELFIE. [_With a smile._] Well, that's cheap, and Lord knows you need
it. What's happened?
LAURA _takes the crumpled and torn telegram that_ WILL _has left on
the table and hands it to_ ELFIE. _The latter puts the two pieces
together, reads it very carefully, looks up at_ LAURA _about middle of
telegram, and lays it down._
LAURA. Will suspected. There was something in the paper about Mr.
Madison--the telegram came--then we had a row.
LAURA. Yes. Do you remember what I told you about that letter--the one
Will made me write--I mean to John--telling him what I had done?
ELFIE. Yes, you burned it.
LAURA. I tried to lie to Will--he wouldn't have it that way. He seemed
to know. He was furious.
ELFIE. Did he hit you?
LAURA. No; he made me admit that John didn't know, and then he said
he'd stay here and tell himself that I'd made him lie, and then he
said something about liking the other man and wanting to save him.
ELFIE. Save--shucks! He's jealous.
LAURA. I told him if he'd only go I'd--tell John myself when he came,
and now you see I'm waiting--and I've got to tell--and--and I don't
know how to begin--and--and I thought you could help me--you seem so
sort of resourceful, and it means--it means so much to me. If John
turned on me now I couldn't go back to Will, and, Elfie,--I don't
think I'd care to--stay here any more.
ELFIE. What! [_In an awestruck tone, taking_ LAURA _in her arms
impulsively._] Dearie, get that nonsense out of your head and be
sensible. I'd just like to see any two men who could make me think
about--well--what you seem to have in your mind.
LAURA. But I don't know; don't you see, Elfie, I don't know. If I
don't tell him, Will will come back and he'll tell him, and I know
John and maybe--Elfie, do you know, I think John would kill him.
ELFIE. Well, don't you think anything about that. Now let's get
[_Rises, crosses to armchair, draws it over a little, sits on left
arm._] down to cases, and we haven't much time. Business is business,
and love is love. You're long on love and I'm long on business, and
between the two of us we ought to straighten this thing out. Now,
evidently John is coming on here to marry you.
ELFIE. And you love him?
ELFIE. And as far as you know the moment that he comes in here it's
quick to the Justice and a big matrimonial thing.
LAURA. Yes, but you see how impossible it is--
ELFIE. I don't see anything impossible. From all you've said to me
about this fellow there is only one thing to do.
LAURA. One thing?
ELFIE. Yes--get married quick. You say he has the money and you have
the love, and you're sick of Brockton, and you want to switch and do
it in the decent, respectable, conventional way, and he's going to
take you away. Haven't you got sense enough to know that, once you're
married to Mr. Madison, Will Brockton wouldn't dare go to him, and if
he did Madison wouldn't believe him? A man will believe a whole lot
about his girl, but nothing about his wife.
LAURA. [_Turns and looks at her. There is a long pause._] Elfie
[_Rises; crosses to right of table._]--I--I don't think I could do
like that to John. I don't think--I could deceive him.
ELFIE. You make me sick. The thing to do is to lie to all men.
[_Rises; pushes chair to table._]--they all lie to you. Protect
yourself. You seem to think that your happiness depends on this. Now
do it. Listen. [_Touches_ LAURA _to make her sit down;_ LAURA _sits
right of table;_ ELFIE _sits on right arm of chair left of table,
with elbows on table._] Don't you realize that you and me, and all the
girls that are shoved into this life, are practically the common prey
of any man who happens to come along? Don't you know that they've got
about as much consideration for us as they have for any pet animal
around the house, and the only way that we've got it on the animal is
that we've got brains? This is a game, Laura, _not a sentiment_. Do
you suppose this Madison [LAURA _turns to_ ELFIE.]--now don't get
sore--hasn't turned these tricks himself before he met you, and I'll
gamble he's done it since! A man's natural trade is a heartbreaking
business. Don't tell me about women breaking men's hearts. The only
thing they can ever break is their bank roll. And besides, this is
not Will's business; he has no right to interfere. You've been with
him--yes, and he's been nice to you; but I don't think that he's given
you any the best of it. Now if you want to leave and go your own way
and marry any Tom, Dick, or Harry that you want, it's nobody's affair
LAURA. But you don't understand--it's John. I can't lie to him.
ELFIE. Well, that's too bad about you. I used to have that truthful
habit myself, and the best I ever got was the worst of it. All this
talk about love and loyalty and constancy is fine and dandy in a book,
but when a girl has to look out for herself, take it from me, whenever
you've got that trump card up your sleeve just play it and rake in the
pot. [_Takes_ LAURA'S _hand affectionately._] You know, dearie, you're
just about the only one in the world I love.
ELFIE. Since I broke away from the folks up state and they've heard
things, there ain't any more letters coming to me with an Oswego
postmark. Ma's gone, and the rest don't care. You're all I've got in
the world, Laura, and what I'm asking you to do is because I want to
see you happy. I was afraid this thing was coming off, and the thing
to do now is to grab your happiness, no matter how you get it nor
where it comes from. There ain't a whole lot of joy in this world for
you and me and the others we know, and what little you get you've got
to take when you're young, because, when those gray hairs begin to
come, and the make-up isn't going to hide the wrinkles, unless you're
well fixed, it's going to be hell. You know what a fellow doesn't know
doesn't hurt him, and he'll love you just the same and you'll love
him. As for Brockton, let him get another girl; there're plenty
'round. Why, if this chance came to me I'd tie a can to Jerry so quick
that you could hear it rattle all the way down Broadway. [_Rises,
crosses back of table to_ LAURA, _leans over back of chair, and puts
arms around her neck very tenderly._] Dearie, promise me that you
won't be a damn fool.
[_The bell rings; both start._
LAURA. [_Rises._] Maybe that's John.
[ELFIE _brushes a tear quickly from her eye._
ELFIE. Oh! And you'll promise me, Laura?
LAURA. I'll try. [ANNIE _enters up stage from the adjoining room and
crosses to the door._] If that's Mr. Madison, Annie, tell him to come
LAURA _stands near the table, almost rigid. Instinctively_ ELFIE _goes
to the mirror and re-arranges her gown and hair as_ ANNIE _exits._
ELFIE _turns to_ LAURA.
ELFIE. If I think he's the fellow when I see him, watch me and I'll
tip you the wink.
[_Kisses_ LAURA; _up stage puts on coat._
_She goes up stage to centre;_ LAURA _remains in her position. The
doors are heard to open, and in a moment_ JOHN _enters. He is
dressed very neatly in a business suit, and his face is tanned and
weather-beaten. After he enters, he stands still for a moment. The
emotion that both he and_ LAURA _go through is such that each is
trying to control it,_ LAURA _from the agony of her position, and_
JOHN _from the mere hurt of his affection. He sees_ ELFIE _and forces
JOHN. [_Quietly._] Hello, Laura! I'm on time.
LAURA _smiles, quickly crosses the stage, and holds out her hand._
LAURA. Oh, John, I'm so glad--so glad to see you. [_They hold this
position for a moment, looking into each other's eyes._ ELFIE _moves
so as to take_ JOHN _in from head to toe and is obviously very much
pleased with his appearance. She coughs slightly._ LAURA _takes a step
back with a smile._] Oh, pardon me, John--one of my dearest friends,
Miss Sinclair; she's heard a lot about you.
ELFIE, _with a slight gush, in her most captivating manner, goes
over and holds out her gloved hand laden with bracelets, and with her
sweetest smile crosses to centre._
ELFIE. How do you do?
MADISON. I'm glad to meet you, I'm sure.
ELFIE. [_Still holding_ JOHN'S _hand._] Yes, I'm sure you
are--particularly just at this time. [_To_ LAURA.] You know that old
stuff about two's company and three [LAURA _smiles._] is a crowd.
Here's where I vamoose. [_Crosses to door._
LAURA. [_As_ ELFIE _goes toward door._] Don't hurry, dear.
ELFIE. [_With a grin._] No, I suppose not; just fall down stairs
and get out of the way, that's all. [_Crosses to_ JOHN.] Anyway, Mr.
Madison, I'm awfully glad to have met you, and I want to congratulate
you. They tell me you're rich.
JOHN. Oh, no; not rich.
ELFIE. Well, I don't believe you--anyway I'm going. Ta-ta, dearie.
Good-bye, Mr. Madison.
[JOHN _crosses up to back of sofa; removes coat, puts it on sofa._
ELFIE. [_Goes to the door, opens it and turns._ JOHN'S _back is partly
toward her and she gives a long wink at_ LAURA, _snapping fingers to
attract_ LAURA'S _attention._] I must say, Laura, that when it comes
to picking live ones, you certainly can go some.
[_After this remark both turn toward her and both smile._
_After_ ELFIE _exits,_ JOHN _turns to_ LAURA _with a pleasant smile,
and jerks his head towards the door where_ ELFIE _has gone out._
JOHN. I bet she's a character.
LAURA. She's a dear.
JOHN. I can see that all right. [_Crossing to centre._
LAURA. She's been a very great friend to me.
JOHN. That's good, but don't I get a "how-dy-do," or a handshake, or a
little kiss? You know I've come a long way.
LAURA _goes to him and places herself in his arms; he kisses her
affectionately. During all this scene between them the tenderness of
the man is very apparent. As she releases herself from his embrace he
takes her face in his hands and holds it up towards his._
JOHN. I'm not much on the love-making business, Laura, but I never
thought I'd be as happy as I am now. [JOHN _and_ LAURA _cross to
centre._ LAURA _kneels in armchair with back to audience,_ JOHN
_stands left of her._] I've been counting mile-posts ever since I left
Chicago, and it seemed like as if I had to go 'round the world before
I got here.
LAURA. You never told me about your good fortune. If you hadn't
telegraphed I wouldn't even have known you were coming.
JOHN. I didn't want you to. I'd made up my mind to sort of drop in
here and give you a great big surprise,--a happy one, I knew,--but the
papers made such a fuss in Chicago that I thought you might have read
about it--did you?
JOHN. Gee! fixed up kind o' scrumptious, ain't you? [_Crosses in front
of sofa, around behind it, surveying rooms._] Maybe you've been almost
as prosperous as I have.
LAURA. You can get a lot of gilt and cushions in New York at half
price, and besides, I've got a pretty good part now.
JOHN. Of course I know that, but I didn't think it would make you
quite so comfortable. Great, ain't it?
JOHN. [_Standing beside her chair, with a smile._] Well, are you
LAURA. For what, dear? [_Looking up at him._
JOHN. You know what I said in the telegram?
LAURA. Yes. [_Leans her head affectionately on his shoulder._
JOHN. Well, I meant it.
LAURA. I know.
JOHN. I've got to get back [JOHN _looks around; crosses behind table
to chair right of table, and sits facing her across it._], Laura, just
as soon as ever I can. There's a lot of work to be done out in Nevada
and I stole away to come to New York. I want to take you back. Can you
JOHN. This afternoon. We'll take the eighteen-hour train to Chicago,
late this afternoon, and connect at Chicago with the Overland, and
I'll soon have you in a home. [_Pause._] And here's another secret.
LAURA. What, dear?
JOHN. I've got that home all bought and furnished, and while you
couldn't call it a Fifth Avenue residence, still it has got something
on any other one in town.
LAURA. But, John, you've been so mysterious. In all your letters you
haven't told me a single, solitary thing about your good luck.
JOHN. I've planned to take you out and show you all that.
LAURA. You should have told me,--I've been so anxious.
JOHN. I waited until it was a dead-sure thing. You know it's been
pretty tough sledding out there in the mining country, and it did look
as if I never would make a strike; but your spirit was with me and
luck was with me, and I knew if I could only hold out that something
would come my way. I had two pals, both of them miners,--they had the
knowledge and I had the luck,--and one day, clearing away a little
snow to build a fire, I poked my toe into the dirt, and there was
somethin' there, dearie, that looked suspicious. I called Jim,--that's
one of the men,--and in less time than it takes to tell you there were
three maniacs scratching away at old mother earth for all there was
in it. We staked our claims in two weeks, and I came to Reno to raise
enough money for me to come East. Now things are all fixed and it's
just a matter of time. [_Taking_ LAURA'S _hand._
LAURA. So you're very, very rich, dear?
JOHN. Oh, not rich [_Releasing her hand, he leans back in his
chair._], just heeled. I'm not going down to the Wall Street bargain
counter and buy the Union Pacific, or anything like that; but we won't
have to take the trip on tourists' tickets, and there's enough money
to make us comfortable all the rest of our lives.
LAURA. How hard you must have worked and suffered.
JOHN. Nobody else ever accused me of that, but I sure will have to
plead guilty to you. [_Rises; stands at upper side of table._] Why,
dear, since the day you came into my life, hell-raising took a sneak
out the back door and God poked His toe in the front, and ever since
then I think He's been coming a little closer to me. [_Crossing
over._] I used to be a fellow without much faith, and kidded everybody
who had it, and I used to say to those who prayed and believed, "You
may be right, but show me a message." You came along and you brought
that little document in your sweet face and your dear love. Laura, you
turned the trick for me, and I think I'm almost a regular man now.
LAURA _turns away in pain; the realization of all she is to_ JOHN
_weighs heavily upon her. She almost loses her nerve, and is on the
verge of not going through with her determination to get her happiness
at any price._
LAURA. John, please, don't. I'm not worth it.
[_Rises, crosses to right._
JOHN. [_With a light air._] Not worth it? Why, you're worth [_Crossing
behind table, stands behind_ LAURA.] that and a whole lot more. And
see how you've got on! Brockton told me you never could get along
in your profession, but I knew you could. [_Crosses back of_ LAURA,
_takes her by the shoulders, shakes her playfully._] I knew what you
had in you, and here you are. You see, if my foot hadn't slipped on
the right ground and kicked up pay-dirt, you'd been all right. You
succeeded and I succeeded, but I'm going to take you away; and after
a while, when things sort of smooth out, and it's all clear where the
money's [_Crosses to sofa and sits._] coming from, we're going to move
back here, and go to Europe, and just have a great time, like a couple
of good pals.
LAURA. [_Slowly crosses to_ JOHN.] But if I hadn't succeeded and if
things--things weren't just as they seem--would it make any difference
to you, John?
JOHN. Not the least in the world. [_He takes her in his arms and
kisses her, drawing her on to sofa beside him._] Now don't you get
blue. I should not have surprised you this way. It's taken you off
your feet. [_He looks at his watch, rises, crosses behind sofa, gets
overcoat._] But we've not any time to lose. How soon can you get
LAURA. [_Kneeling on sofa, leaning over back._] You mean to go?
JOHN. Nothing else.
LAURA. Take all my things?
JOHN. All your duds.
LAURA. Why, dear, I can get ready most any time.
JOHN. [_Looking off into bedroom._] That your maid?
JOHN. Well, you and she can pack everything you want to take; the rest
can follow later. [_Puts coat on._] I planned it all out. There's
a couple of the boys working down town,--newspaper men on Park Row.
Telephoned them when I got in and they're waiting for me. I'll just
get down there as soon as I can. I won't be gone long.
LAURA. How long?
JOHN. I don't know just how long, but we'll make that train. I'll get
the license. We'll be married and we'll be off on our honeymoon this
afternoon. Can you do it?
LAURA _goes up to him, puts her hands in his, and they confront each
LAURA. Yes, dear, I could do anything for you.
_He takes her in his arms and kisses her again. Looks at her
JOHN. That's good. Hurry now. I won't be long. Good-bye.
LAURA. Hurry back, John.
JOHN. Yes. I won't be long. [_Exit._
LAURA. [_Stands for a moment looking after him; then she suddenly
recovers herself and walks rapidly over to the dresser, picks up large
jewel-case, takes doll that is hanging on dresser, puts them on her
left arm, takes black cat in her right hand and uses it in emphasizing
her words in talking to_ ANNIE. _Places them all on table._] Annie,
Annie, come here!
ANNIE. Yassum. [_She appears at the door._
LAURA. Annie, I'm going away, and I've got to hurry.
ANNIE. Goin' away?
LAURA. Yes. I want you to bring both my trunks out here,--I'll help
you,--and start to pack. We can't take everything.
[ANNIE _throws fur rug from across doorway into bedroom._], but bring
all the clothes out and we'll hurry as fast as we can. Come on.
_Exit_ LAURA _with_ ANNIE. _In a very short interval she re-appears,
and both are carrying a large trunk between them. They put it down,
pushing sofa back._
ANNIE. Look out for your toes, Miss Laura.
LAURA. I can take two.
ANNIE. Golly, such excitement. [_Crosses to table; pushes it over
further, also armchair._] Wheah yuh goin', Miss Laura?
LAURA. Never mind where I'm going. I haven't any time to waste now
talking. I'll tell you later. This is one time, Annie, that you've got
to move. Hurry up.
LAURA _pushes her in front of her. Exeunt the same way and re-appear
with a smaller trunk._
ANNIE. Look out fo' your dress, Miss Laura.
_These trunks are of the same type as those in Act II. When the trunks
are put down_ LAURA _opens one and commences to throw things out._
ANNIE _stands watching her._ LAURA _kneels in front of trunk, working
and humming "Bon-Bon Buddie."_
ANNIE. Ah nevah see you so happy, Miss Laura.
LAURA. I never was so happy. For heaven's sake, go get something.
Don't stand there looking at me. I want you to hurry.
ANNIE. I'll bring out all de fluffy ones first.
LAURA. Yes, everything. [ANNIE _enters with armful of dresses and
hat-box of tissue-paper; dumps tissue-paper on floor, puts dresses in
ANNIE. [_Goes out again. Outside._] You goin' to take dat opera-cloak?
[_Enters with more dresses, puts them on sofa, takes opera-cloak,
spreads it on top of dresses on trunk._] My, but dat's a beauty. I
jest love dat crushed rosey one. [_Exit._
LAURA. Annie, you put the best dresses on the foot of the bed and I'll
get them myself. You heard what I said?
ANNIE. [_Off stage._] Yassum.
ANNIE _hangs dresses across bed in alcove._ LAURA _continues busily
arranging the contents of the trunk, placing some garments here and
some there, as if she were sorting them out._ WILL _quietly enters and
stands at the door, looking at her. He holds this position as long as
possible, and when he speaks it is in a very quiet tone._
WILL. Going away?
LAURA. [_Starts, rises, and confronts him._] Yes.
WILL. In somewhat of a hurry, I should say.
WILL. What's the plan?
LAURA. I'm just going, that's all.
WILL. Madison been here?
LAURA. He's just left.
WILL. Of course you are going with him?
LAURA. To Nevada.
WILL. Going--er--to get married?
LAURA. Yes, this afternoon.
WILL. So he didn't care then?
LAURA. What do you mean when you say "he didn't care"?
WILL. Of course you told him about the letter, and how it was burned
up, and all that sort of thing, didn't you?
LAURA. Why, yes.
WILL. And he said it didn't make any difference?
LAURA. He--he didn't say anything. We're just going to be married,
WILL. Did you mention my name and say that we'd been rather
companionable for the last two months?
LAURA. I told him you'd been a very good friend to me.
_During this scene_ LAURA _answers_ WILL _with difficulty, and to
a man of the world it is quite apparent that she is not telling the
truth._ WILL _looks over toward her in an almost threatening way._
WILL. How soon do you expect him back?
[_Crossing to centre._
LAURA. Quite soon. I don't know just exactly how long he'll be.
WILL. And you mean to tell me that you kept your promise and told him
the truth? [_Crossing to trunk._
LAURA. I--I--[_Then with defiance._] What business have you got to ask
me that? What business have you got to interfere anyway? [_Crossing up
to bed in alcove, gets dresses off foot, and puts them on sofa._
WILL. [_Quietly._] Then you've lied again. You lied to him, and
you just tried to lie to me now. I must say, Laura, that you're not
particularly clever at it, although I don't doubt but that you've had
_Gives her a searching look and slowly walks over to the chair at the
table and sits down, still holding his hat in his hand and without
removing his overcoat._ LAURA _sees_ BROCKTON _sitting, stops and
turns on him, laying dresses down._
LAURA. What are you going to do?
WILL. Sit down here and rest a few moments; maybe longer.
LAURA. You can't do that.
WILL. I don't see why not. This is my own place.
LAURA. But don't you see that he'll come back here soon and find you
WILL. That's just exactly what I want him to do.
LAURA. [_With suppressed emotion, almost on the verge of hysteria._]
I want to tell you this. If you do this thing you'll ruin my life.
You've done enough to it already. Now I want you to go. You've got to
go. I don't think you've got any right to come here now, in this way,
and take this happiness from me. I've given you everything I've got,
and now I want to live right and decent, and he wants me to, and we
love each other. Now, Will Brockton, it's come to this. You've got to
leave this place, do you hear? You've got to leave this place. Please
[_Crossing to trunk._
WILL. [_Rises and comes to her._] Do you think I'm going to let a
woman make a liar out of me? I'm going to stay right here. I like that
boy, and I'm not going to let you put him to the bad.
LAURA. I want you to go. [_Slams trunk lid down, crosses to dresser,
opens drawer to get stuff out._
WILL. And I tell you I won't go. I'm going to show you up. I'm going
to tell him the truth. It isn't you I care for--he's got to know.
LAURA. [_Slams drawer shut, loses her temper, and is almost tiger-like
in her anger._] You don't care for me?
LAURA. It isn't me you're thinking of?
LAURA. Who's the liar now?
LAURA. Yes, liar. You are. You don't care for this man, and you know
WILL. You're foolish.
LAURA. Yes, I am foolish and I've been foolish all my life, but I'm
getting a little sense now. [_Kneels in armchair, facing_ WILL; _her
voice is shaky with anger and tears._] All my life, since the day you
first took me away, you've planned and planned and planned to keep me,
and to trick me and bring me down with you. When you came to me I was
happy. I didn't have much, just a little salary and some hard work.
WILL. But like all the rest you found that wouldn't keep you, didn't
LAURA. You say I'm bad, but who's made me so? Who took me out night
after night? Who showed me what these luxuries were? Who put me in the
habit of buying something I couldn't afford? You did.
WILL. Well, you liked it, didn't you?
LAURA. Who got me in debt, and then, when I wouldn't do what you
wanted me to, who had me discharged from the company, so I had no
means of living? Who followed me from one place to another? Who,
always entreating, tried to trap me into this life, and I didn't know
WILL. You didn't know any better?
LAURA. I knew it was wrong--yes; but you told me everybody in this
business did that sort of thing, and I was just as good as anyone
else. Finally you got me and you kept me. Then, when I went away to
Denver, and for the first time found a gleam of happiness, for the
first time in my life--
WILL. You're crazy.
LAURA. Yes, I am crazy. [_Rises angrily, crosses and sweeps
table-cover off table; crosses to dresser, knocks bottles, &c., off
upper end; turns, faces him, almost screaming._] You've made me crazy.
You followed me to Denver, and then when I got back you bribed me
again. You pulled me down, and you did the same old thing until this
happened. Now I want you to get out, you understand? I want you to get
WILL. Laura, you can't do this. [_Starts to sit on trunk._
LAURA. [_Screaming, crossing to_ WILL; _she attempts to push him._]
No, you won't; you won't stay here. You're not going to do this thing
again. I tell you I'm going to be happy. I tell you I'm going to be
married. [_He doesn't resist her very strongly. Her anger and her rage
are entirely new to him. He is surprised and cannot understand._] You
won't see him; I tell you, you won't tell him. You've got no business
to. I hate you. I've hated you for months. I hate the sight of your
face. I've wanted to go, and now I'm going. You've got to go, do you
hear? You've got to get out--get out. [_Pushes him again._
WILL. [_Throwing her off;_ LAURA _staggers to armchair, rises, crosses
left._] What the hell is the use of fussing with a woman.
LAURA. [_Hysterically._] I want to be happy, I'm going to be married,
I'm going to be happy.
[_Sinks down in exhausted state in front of trunk._
SCENE. _The same scene as Act III. It is about two o'clock in the
AT RISE. _When the curtain rises, there are two big trunks and one
small one up stage. These are marked in the usual theatrical fashion.
There are grips packed, umbrellas, and the usual paraphernalia that
accompanies a woman when she is making a permanent departure from
her place of living. All the bric-a-brac, &c., has been removed
from dresser. On down-stage end of dresser is a small alligator
bag containing night-dress, toilet articles, and bunch of keys.
The dresser drawers are some of them half open, and old pieces of
tissue-paper and ribbons are hanging out. The writing-desk has had all
materials removed and is open, showing scraps of torn-up letters, and
in one pigeon-hole is a New York Central time-table; between desk and
bay-window is a lady's hat-trunk containing huge picture hat. It is
closed. Behind table is a suit-case with which_ ANNIE _is working when
curtain rises. Under desk are two old millinery boxes, around which
are scattered old tissue-paper, a pair of old slippers, a woman's
shabby hat, old ribbon, &c. In front of window at end of pianola is
thrown a lot of old empty boxes, such as are used for stocking and
shirtwaist boxes. The picture-frame and basket of flowers have been
removed from pianola. The stool is on top of pianola, upside down.
There is an empty White Rock bottle, with glass turned over it,
standing between the legs of the stool. The big trunk is in front
of sofa, and packed, and it has a swing tray under which is packed a
fancy evening gown; the lid is down. On top of lid are an umbrella,
lady's travelling-coat, hat and gloves. On left end of sofa are a
large Gladstone bag, packed and fastened, a smaller trunk (thirty-four
inch), tray with lid. In tray are articles of wearing apparel. In
end of tray is revolver wrapped in tissue-paper. Trunk is closed, and
supposed to be locked. Tossed across left arm of armchair are couple
of violet cords. Down stage centre is a large piece of wide tan
ribbon. The room has the general appearance of having been stripped of
all personal belongings. There are old magazines and tissue-paper
all over the place. A bearskin rug is thrown up against table in low
window, the furniture is all on stage as used in Act III. At rise_
LAURA _is sitting on trunk with clock in hand._ ANNIE _is on floor
behind table, fastening suit-case._ LAURA _is pale and perturbed._
ANNIE. Ain't yuh goin' to let me come to yuh at all, Miss Laura?
LAURA. I don't know yet, Annie. I don't even know what the place is
like that we're going to. Mr. Madison hasn't said much. There hasn't
ANNIE. Why, Ah've done ma best for yuh, Miss Laura, yes, Ah have. Ah
jest been with yuh ev'ry moment of ma time, an' [_Places suit-case on
table; crosses to centre._] Ah worked for yuh an' Ah loved yuh, an' Ah
doan' wan' to be left 'ere all alone in dis town 'ere New York. [LAURA
_turns to door;_ ANNIE _stoops, grabs up ribbon, hides it behind her
back._] Ah ain't the kind of cullud lady knows many people. Can't yuh
take me along wid yuh, Miss Laura?--yuh all been so good to me.
LAURA. Why, I told you to [_Crosses to door, looks out, returns
disappointed._] stay here and get your things together [ANNIE _hides
ribbon in front of her waist._], and then Mr. Brockton will probably
want you to do something. Later, I think he'll have you pack up, just
as soon as he finds I'm gone. I've got the address that you gave me.
I'll let you know if you can come on.
ANNIE. [_Suddenly._] Ain't yuh goin' to give me anything at all jes'
to remembuh yuh by? Ah've been so honest--
ANNIE. Honest, Ah have.
LAURA. You've been about as honest as most coloured [_Crosses to
table; gets suit-case; crosses to sofa end puts suit-case on it._]
girls are who work for women in the position that I am in. You haven't
stolen enough to make me discharge you, but I've seen what you've
taken. [_Sits on end of sofa facing left._
ANNIE. Now, Miss Laura.
LAURA. Don't try to fool me. What you've got you're welcome to, but
for heaven's sake don't prate around here about loyalty and honesty.
I'm sick of it.
ANNIE. Ain't yuh goin' to give me no recommendation?
LAURA. [_Impatiently looking around the room._] What good would my
recommendation do? You can always go and get another position with
people who've lived the way I've lived, and my recommendation to the
other kind wouldn't amount to much.
ANNIE. [_Sits on trunk._] Ah can just see whah Ah'm goin',--back to
dat boa'din'-house in 38th Street fo' me. [_Crying._
LAURA. Now shut your noise. I don't want to hear any more. I've given
you twenty-five dollars for a present. I think that's enough.
[ANNIE _assumes a most aggrieved appearance._
ANNIE. Ah know, but twenty-five dollars ain't a home, and I'm [_Rises,
crosses to rubbish heap, picks up old slippers and hat, puts hat on
head as she goes out, looks into pier-glass._] losin' my home. Dat's
jest my luck--every time I save enough money to buy my weddin' clothes
to get married I lose my job.
LAURA. I wonder where John is. We'll never be able to make that train.
[_She crosses to window, then to desk, takes out time-table, crosses
to armchair and spreads time-table on back, studies it, crosses
impatiently to trunk, and sits nervously kicking her feet. After a few
seconds' pause the bell rings. She jumps up excitedly._] That must be
he,--Annie--go quick. [ANNIE _crosses and opens the door in the usual
JIM'S VOICE. [_Outside._] Is Miss Murdock in?
ANNIE. Yassuh, she's in.
LAURA _is up stage and turns to receive visitor._ JIM _enters. He is
nicely dressed in black and has an appearance of prosperity about him,
but in other respects he retains the old drollness of enunciation
and manner. He crosses to_ LAURA _in a cordial way and holds out his
hand._ ANNIE _crosses, after closing the door, and exits through the
portieres into the sleeping-apartment._
JIM. How-dy-do, Miss Laura?
LAURA. Jim Western, I'm mighty glad to see you.
JIM. Looks like as if you were going to move?
LAURA. Yes, I am going to move, and a long ways, too. How well you're
looking,--as fit as a fiddle.
JIM. Yes; I am feelin' fine. Where yer goin'? Troupin'?
LAURA. No, indeed.
JIM. [_Surveying the baggage._] Thought not. What's comin' off now?
[_Takes off coat, puts coat and hat on trunk._
LAURA. [_Very simply._] I'm going to be married this afternoon.
LAURA. And then I'm going West.
JIM. [_Leaving the trunk, walking toward her and holding out his
hands._] Now I'm just glad to hear that. Ye know when I heard how--how
things was breakin' for ye--well, I ain't knockin' or anythin' like
that, but me and the missis have talked ye over a lot. I never did
think this feller was goin' to do the right thing by yer. Brockton
never looked to me like a fellow would marry anybody, but now that
he's goin' through just to make you a nice, respectable wife, I guess
everything must have happened for the best. [LAURA _averts her eyes.
Both sit on trunk,_ JIM _left of_ LAURA.] Y' see I wanted to thank you
for what you did a couple of weeks ago. Burgess wrote me a letter and
told me I could go ahead of one of his big shows if I wanted to come
back, and offering me considerable money. He mentioned your name, Miss
Laura, and I talked it over with the missis, and--well, I can tell ye
now when I couldn't if ye weren't to be hooked up--we decided that I
wouldn't take that job, comin' as it did from you [_Slowly._] and the
way I knew it was framed up.
LAURA. Why not?
JIM. [_Embarrassed._] Well, ye see, there are three kids and they're
all growing up, all of them in school, and the missis, she's just
about forgot show business and she's playing a star part in the
kitchen, juggling dishes and doing flip-flaps with pancakes; and we
figgered that as we'd always gone along kinder clean-like, it wouldn't
be good for the kids to take a job comin' from Brockton because
LAURA. I know. [_Rises; sits on left arm of chair._] You thought it
wasn't decent. Is that it?
JIM. Oh, not exactly, only--well, you see I'm gettin' along pretty
[_Rises; crosses to_ LAURA.] good now. I got a little one-night-stand
theatre out in Ohio--manager of it, too. The town is called
Gallipolis. [_With a smile._
JIM. Oh, that ain't a disease. It is the name of a town. Maybe you
don't know much about Gallipolis, or where it is.
JIM. Well, it looks just like it sounds. We got a little house, and
the old lady is happy, and I feel so good that I can even stand her
cookin'. Of course we ain't makin' much money, but I guess I'm gettin'
a little old-fashioned around theatres anyway. The fellows from
newspapers and colleges have got it on me. Last time I asked a man for
a job he asked me what I knew about the Greek drama, and when I told
him I didn't know the Greeks had a theatre in New York he slipped me
a laugh and told me to come in again on some rainy Tuesday. Then
Gallipolis showed on the map, and I beat it for the West. [JIM
_notices by this time the pain he has caused_ LAURA, _and is
embarrassed._] Sorry if I hurt ye--didn't mean to; and now that yer
goin' to be Mrs. Brockton, well, I take back all I said, and, while
I don't think I want to change my position, I wouldn't turn it down
for--for that other reason, that's all.
LAURA. [_With a tone of defiance in her voice._] But, Mr. Weston, I'm
not going to be Mrs. Brockton.
JIM. No? [_Crosses left a little._
LAURA. I'm going to marry another man, and a good man.
JIM. The hell you are!
[LAURA _rises and puts hand on_ JIM'S _shoulder._
LAURA. And it's going to be altogether different. I know what you
meant when you said about the missis and the kids, and that's what I
want--just a little home, just a little peace, just a little comfort,
and--and the man has come who's going to give it to me. You don't want
me to say any more, do you?
[_Crosses to door, opens it, and looks out; closes it and crosses to_
JIM. [_Emphatically, and with a tone of hearty approval._] No, I
don't, and now I'm just going to put my mit out and shake yours and
be real glad. I want to tell ye it's the only way to go along. I
ain't never been a rival to Rockefeller, nor I ain't never made Morgan
jealous, but since the day my old woman took her make-up off for the
last time, and walked out of that stage-door to give me a little help
and bring my kids into the world, I knew that was the way to go along;
and if you're goin' to take that road, by Jiminy, I'm glad of it, for
you sure do deserve it. I wish yer luck.
LAURA. Thank you.
JIM. I'm mighty glad you side-stepped Brockton. You're young [LAURA
_sits on trunk._], and you're pretty, and you're sweet, and if you've
got the right kind of a feller there ain't no reason on earth why you
shouldn't jest forgit the whole business and see nothin' but laughs
and a good time comin' to you, and the sun sort o' shinin' every
twenty-four hours in the day. You know the missis feels just as if she
knew you, after I told her about them hard times we had at Farley's
boarding-house, so I feel that it's paid me to come to New York
[_Picks up pin; puts it in lapel of coat._] even if I didn't book
anything but "East Lynne" and "Uncle Tom's Cabin." [_Goes over to
her._] Now I'm goin'. Don't forget Gallipolis's [LAURA _helps him on
with his coat._] the name, and sometimes the mail does get there. I'd
be awful glad if you wrote the missis a little note tellin' us how
you're gettin' along, and if you ever have to ride on the Kanawha and
Michigan, just look out of the window when the train passes our town,
because that is about the best you'll get.
JIM. They only stop there on signal. And make up your mind that the
Weston family is with you forty ways from the Jack day and night.
Good-bye, and God bless you.
LAURA. Good-bye, Jim. I'm so glad to know you're happy, for it is good
to be happy. [_Kisses him._
JIM. You bet. [_Moves toward the door. She follows him after they have
shaken hands._] Never mind, I can get out all right. [_Opens the door,
and at the door:_] Good-bye again.
LAURA. [_Very softly._] Good-bye. [_Exit_ JIM _and closes the door.
She stands motionless until she hears the outer door slam._] I wonder
why he doesn't come. [_She goes up and looks out of the window and
turns down stage, crosses right, counting trunks; as she counts
suitcase on table, bell rings; she crosses hurriedly to trunk
centre._] Hurry, Annie, and see who that is.
ANNIE _enters, crosses, opens door, exits, and opens the outer door._
ANNIE'S VOICE. She's waitin' for yer, Mr. Madison.
LAURA _hurries down to the centre of stage._ JOHN _enters, hat in
hand and his overcoat on arm, followed by_ ANNIE. _He stops just as
he enters and looks at_ LAURA _long and searchingly._ LAURA
_instinctively feels that something has happened. She shudders and
remains firm._ ANNIE _crosses and exits. Closes doors._
LAURA. [_With a little effort._ JOHN _places hat and coat on trunk._]
Aren't you a little late, dear?
JOHN. I--I was detained down town a few minutes. I think that we can
carry out our plan all right.
LAURA. [_After a pause._] Has anything happened?
JOHN. I've made all the arrangements. The men will be here in a few
minutes for your trunks. [_Crosses to coat; feels in pocket._] I've
got the railroad tickets and everything else, but--
LAURA. But what, John?
_He goes over to her. She intuitively understands that she is about
to go through an ordeal. She seems to feel that_ JOHN _has become
acquainted with something which might interfere with their plan. He
looks at her long and searchingly. Evidently he too is much wrought
up, but when he speaks to her it is with a calm dignity and force
which show the character of the man._
JOHN. You know when I went down town I said I was going to call on two
or three of my friends in Park Row.
LAURA. I know.
JOHN. I told them who I was going to marry.
JOHN. They said something about you and Brockton, and I found that
they'd said too much, but not quite enough.
LAURA. What did they say?
JOHN. Just that--too much and not quite enough. There's a minister
waiting for us over on Madison Avenue. You see, then you'll be my
wife. That's pretty serious business, and all I want now from you is
JOHN. Just tell me that what they said was just an echo of the
past--that it came from what had been going on before that wonderful
day out in Colorado. Tell me that you've been on the level. I don't
want their word, Laura--I just want yours.
LAURA _summons all her courage, looks up into his loving eyes, shrinks
a moment before his anxious face, and speaks as simply as she can._
LAURA. Yes, John, I have been on the level.
JOHN. [_Very tenderly._] I knew that, dear, I knew it. [_He takes her
in his arms and kisses her. She clings to him in pitiful helplessness.
His manner is changed to one of almost boyish happiness._] Well, now
everything's all ready, let's get on the job. We haven't a great deal
of time. Get your duds on.
LAURA. When do we go?
JOHN. Right away. The great idea is to get away.
LAURA. All right.
[_Gets hat off trunk, crosses to bureau, puts it on._
JOHN. Laura, you've got trunks enough, haven't you? One might think
we're moving a whole colony. [_Turns to her with a smile._] And, by
the way, to me you are a whole colony--anyway you're the only one I
ever wanted to settle with.
LAURA. That's good. [_Takes bag off bureau, crosses to trunk, gets
purse, coat, umbrella, as if ready to leave. She hurriedly gathers her
things together, adjusting her hat and the like, and almost to herself
in a low tone:_] I'm so excited. [_Continues preparations._] Come on.
_In the meantime_ JOHN _crosses by to get his hat and coat, and while
the preparations are about to be completed and_ LAURA _has said "Come
on," she is transfixed by the noise of the slamming of the outer door.
She stops as if she had been tremendously shocked, and a moment later
the rattling of a latch-key in the inner door also stops_ JOHN _from
going any further. His coat is half on._ LAURA _looks toward the door,
paralyzed with fright, and_ JOHN _looks at her with an expression of
great apprehension. Slowly the door opens, and_ BROCKTON _enters with
coat and hat on. As he turns to close the door after him,_ LAURA,
_pitifully and terribly afraid, retreats two or three steps, and
lays coat, bag, purse and umbrella down in armchair, standing dazed._
BROCKTON _enters leisurely, paying no attention to anyone, while_ JOHN
_becomes as rigid as a statue, and follows with his eyes every move_
BROCKTON _makes. The latter walks leisurely across the stage, and
afterwards into the rooms through the portieres. There is a wait of
a second. No one moves._ BROCKTON _finally reenters with coat and hat
off, and throws back the portieres in such a manner as to reveal the
bed and his intimate familiarity with the outer room. He goes down
stage in the same leisurely manner and sits in a chair opposite_ JOHN,
_crossing his legs._
WILL. Hello, Madison, when did you get in?
_Slowly_ JOHN _seems to recover himself. His right hand starts up
toward the lapel of his coat and slowly he pulls his Colt revolver
from the holster under his armpit. There is a deadly determination and
deliberation in every movement that he makes._ WILL _jumps to his feet
and looks at him. The revolver is uplifted in the air, as a Western
man handles a gun, so that when it is snapped down with a jerk the
deadly shot can be fired._ LAURA _is terror-stricken, but before
the shot is fired she takes a step forward and extends one hand in a
gesture of entreaty._
LAURA. [_In a husky voice that is almost a whisper._] Don't shoot.
_The gun remains uplifted for a moment._ JOHN _is evidently wavering
in his determination to kill. Slowly his whole frame relaxes. He
lowers the pistol in his hand in a manner which clearly indicates that
he is not going to shoot. He quietly puts it back in the holster, and_
WILL _is obviously relieved, although he stood his ground like a man._
JOHN. [_Slowly._] Thank you. You said that just in time.
WILL. [_Recovering and in a light tone._] Well, you see, Madison, that
what I said when I was--
JOHN. [_Threateningly._] Look out, Brockton, I don't want to talk to
you. [_The men confront._
WILL. All right.
JOHN. [_To_ LAURA.] Now get that man out of here.
LAURA. John, I--
JOHN. Get him out. Get him out before I lose my temper or they'll take
him out without his help.
LAURA. [_To_ WILL.] Go--go. Please go.
WILL. [_Deliberately._] If that's the way you want it, I'm willing.
_Exit_ WILL _into the sleeping-apartment._ LAURA _and_ JOHN _stand
facing each other. He enters again with hat and coat on, and passes
over toward the door._ LAURA _and_ JOHN _do not move. When he gets
just a little to the left of the centre of the stage_ LAURA _steps
forward and stops him with her speech._
LAURA. Now before you go, and to you both, I want to tell you how I've
learned to despise him. John, I know you don't believe me, but it's
true--it's true. I don't love anyone in the world but just you. I
know you don't think that it can be explained--maybe there isn't any
explanation. I couldn't help it. I was so poor, and I had to live, and
he wouldn't let me work, and he's only let me live one way, and I
was hungry. Do you know what that means? I was hungry and didn't have
clothes to keep me warm, and I tried, oh, John, I tried so hard to do
the other thing,--the right thing,--but I couldn't.
JOHN. I--I know I couldn't help much, and perhaps I could have
forgiven you if you hadn't lied to me. That's what hurt. [_Turning to_
WILL _and approaching until he can look him in the eyes._] I expected
you to lie, you're that kind of a man. You left me with a shake of the
hand, and you gave me your word, and you didn't keep it. Why should
you keep it? Why should anything make any difference with you? Why,
you pup, you've no right to live in the same world with decent folks.
Now you make yourself scarce, or take it from me, I'll just kill you,
WILL. I'll leave, Madison, but I'm not going to let you think that I
didn't do the right thing with you. She came to me voluntarily. She
said she wanted to come back. I told you that, when I was in Colorado,
and you didn't believe me, and I told you that when she did this sort
of thing I'd let you know. I dictated a letter to her to send to you,
and I left it sealed and stamped in her hands to mail. She didn't do
it. If there's been a lie, she told it. I didn't.
JOHN _turns to her. She hangs her head and averts her eyes in a mute
acknowledgment of guilt. The revelation hits_ JOHN _so hard that
he sinks on the trunk centre, his head fallen to his breast. He is
utterly limp and whipped. There is a moment's silence._
WILL. [_Crosses to_ JOHN.] You see! Why, my boy, whatever you think
of me or the life I lead, I wouldn't have had this come to you for
anything in the world. [JOHN _makes an impatient gesture._] No, I
wouldn't. My women don't mean a whole lot to me because I don't take
them seriously. I wish I had the faith and the youth to feel the way
you do. You're all in and broken up, but I wish I could be broken
up just once. I did what I thought was best for you because I didn't
think she could ever go through the way you wanted her to. I'm sorry
it's all turned out bad. [_Pause._] Good-bye.
_He looks at_ JOHN _for a moment as if he was going to speak._ JOHN
_remains motionless. The blow has hit him harder than he thought._
WILL _exits. The first door closes. In a moment the second door is
slammed._ JOHN _and_ LAURA _look at each other for a moment. He gives
her no chance to speak. The hurt in his heart and his accusation are
shown by his broken manner. A great grief has come into his life and
he doesn't quite understand it. He seems to be feeling around for
something to say, some way to get out. His head turns toward the door.
With a pitiful gesture of the hand he looks at her in all his sorrow._
JOHN. Well? [_Rises._
LAURA. John, I--[_Takes off hat and places it on table._
JOHN. I'd be careful what I said. Don't try to make excuses. I
LAURA. It's not excuses. I want to tell you what's in my heart, but I
can't; it won't speak, and you don't believe my voice.
JOHN. You'd better leave it unsaid.
LAURA. But I must tell. I can't let you go like this. [_She goes over
to him and makes a weak attempt to put her arms around him. He takes
her arms and puts them back to her side._] I love you. I--how can I
tell you--but I do, I do, and you won't believe me.
_He remains silent for a moment and then takes her by the hand, leads
her over to the chair and places her in it._
JOHN. I think you do as far as you are able; but, Laura, I guess you
don't know what a decent sentiment is. [_He gathers himself together.
His tone is very gentle and very firm, but it carries a tremendous
conviction, even with his grief ringing through his speech._] Laura,
you're not immoral, you're just unmoral, kind o' all out of shape, and
I'm afraid there isn't a particle of hope for you. When we met neither
of us had any reason to be proud, but I thought that you thought that
it was the chance of salvation which sometimes comes to a man and a
woman fixed as we were then. What had been had been. It was all in the
great to-be for us, and now, how you've kept your word! What little
that promise meant, when I thought you handed me a new lease of life!
LAURA. [_In a voice that is changed and metallic. She is literally
being nailed to the cross._] You're killing me--killing me.
JOHN. Don't make such a mistake. In a month you'll recover. There will
be days when you will think of me, just for a moment, and then it
will be all over. With you it is the easy way, and it always will be.
You'll go on and on until you're finally left a wreck, just the type
of the common woman. And you'll sink until you're down to the very
bed-rock of depravity. I pity you.
LAURA. [_Still in the same metallic tone of voice._] You'll never
leave me to do that. I'll kill myself.
JOHN. Perhaps that's the only thing left for you to do, but you'll not
do it. It's easier to live. [_Crosses, gets hat and coat, turns and
looks at her,_ LAURA _rising at the same time._
LAURA. John, I said I'd kill myself, and I mean it. If it's the only
thing to do, I'll do it, and I'll do it before your very eyes. [_She
crosses quickly, gets keys out of satchel, opens trunk, takes gun out
of trunk, stands facing_ JOHN--_waiting a moment._] You understand
that when your hand touches that door I'm going to shoot myself. I
will, so help me God!
JOHN. [_Stops and looks at her._] Kill yourself? [_Pause._] Before me?
[_Pause._] All right. [_Raising his voice._] Annie, Annie!
ANNIE. [_Enters._] Yes, sir.
JOHN. [LAURA _looks at_ JOHN _in bewilderment._] You see your mistress
there has a pistol in her hand?
ANNIE. [_Frightened._] Yassuh--
JOHN. She wants to kill herself. I just called you to witness that the
act is entirely voluntary on her part. Now, Laura, go ahead.
LAURA. [_Nearly collapsing, drops the pistol to the floor._] John,
JOHN. Annie, she's evidently changed her mind. You may go.
ANNIE. But, Miss Laura, Ah--
JOHN. [_Peremptorily._] You may go. [_Bewildered and not
understanding,_ ANNIE _exits through the portieres. In that same
gentle tone, but carrying with it an almost frigid conviction._] You
didn't have the nerve. I knew you wouldn't. For a moment you thought
the only decent thing for you to do was to die, and yet you couldn't
go through. I am sorry for you,--more sorry than I can tell. [_He
takes a step towards the door._
LAURA. You're going--you're going?
LAURA. And--and--you never thought that perhaps I'm frail, and weak,
and a woman, and that now, maybe, I need your strength, and you might
give it to me, and it might be better. I want to lean on you,--lean
on you, John. I know I need someone. Aren't you going to let me? Won't
you give me another chance?
JOHN. I gave you your chance, Laura.
LAURA. [_Throws arms around his neck._] Give me another.
JOHN. But you leaned the wrong way. Good-bye.
[_He pulls away and goes out, slamming both doors._
LAURA. [_Screaming._] John--John--I--[_She sits on trunk, weeping in
loud and tearful manner; rises in a dazed fashion, starts to cross,
sees gun, utters loud cry of mingled despair and anger, grabs up gun,
crossing to bureau, opens up-stage drawer, throws gun in, slams drawer
shut, calling:_] Annie! Annie!
ANNIE. [_Appears through the portieres._] Ain't yuh goin' away, Miss
LAURA. [_Suddenly arousing herself, and with a defiant voice._] No,
I'm not. I'm going to stay right here. [ANNIE _crosses and opens
trunk, takes out handsome dress, hangs it over back of armchair,
crosses up to hat-trunk, takes out hat._ LAURA _takes it from her,
crosses to trunk left, starts to unpack it._] Open these trunks, take
out those clothes, get me my prettiest dress. Hurry up. [_She goes
before the mirror._] Get my new hat, dress up my body and paint up my
face. It's all they've left of me. [_To herself._] They've taken my
soul away with them.
ANNIE. [_In a happy voice._] Yassum, yassum.
LAURA. [_Who is arranging her hair._] Doll me up, Annie.
ANNIE. Yuh goin' out, Miss Laura?
LAURA. Yes. I'm going to Rector's to make a hit, and to hell with the
_At this moment the hurdy-gurdy in the street, presumably immediately
under her window, begins to play the tune of "Bon-Bon Buddie, My
Chocolate Drop." There is something in this ragtime melody which
is particularly and peculiarly suggestive of the low life, the
criminality and prostitution that constitute the night excitement of
that section of New York City known as the Tenderloin. The tune,--its
association,--is like spreading before_ LAURA'S _eyes a panorama of
the inevitable depravity that awaits her. She is torn from every ideal
that she so weakly endeavoured to grasp, and is thrown into the
mire and slime at the very moment when her emancipation seems to be
assured. The woman, with her flashy dress in one arm and her equally
exaggerated type of picture hat in the other, is nearly prostrated
by the tune and the realization of the future as it is terrifically
conveyed to her. The negress, in the happiness of serving_ LAURA
_in her questionable career, picks up the melody and hums it as she
unpacks the finery that has been put away in the trunk._
LAURA. [_With infinite grief, resignation, and hopelessness._]
O God--O my God. [_She turns and totters toward the bedroom. The
hurdy-gurdy continues, with the negress accompanying it._
A SLOW CURTAIN.
END OF THE PLAY.
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