Infomotions, Inc.Washington Square Plays / Various

Author: Various
Title: Washington Square Plays
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The Project Gutenberg Etext of Washington Square Plays
by Various

1. The Clod  .  .  .  . .  By Lewis Beach
2. Eugenically Speaking .  By Edward Goodman
3. Overtones .  .  .  .  . By Alice Gerstenberg
4. Helena's Husband . . .  By Philip Moeller

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Title: Washington Square Plays

Author: Various

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Volume XX, The Drama League Series of Plays

Washington Square Plays

1. The Clod  .  .  .  . .  By Lewis Beach
2. Eugenically Speaking .  By Edward Goodman
3. Overtones .  .  .  .  . By Alice Gerstenberg
4. Helena's Husband . . .  By Philip Moeller


Director of the Washington Square Players


Copyright, 1916, by


In its present form these plays are dedicated to the reading
public only, and no performance of them may be given. Any piracy
or infringement will be prosecuted in accordance with the
penalties provided by the United States Statutes:

SECTION 28. That any person who willfully and for profit shall
infringe any copyright secured by this Act, or who shall
knowingly and willfully aid or abet such infringement, shall be
deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall
be punished by imprisonment for not exceeding one year or by a
fine of not less than one hundred dollars nor more than one
thousand dollars or both, in the discretion of the court.
SECTION 29. That any person, who with fraudulent intent, shall
insert or impress any notice of copyright required by this Act,
or words of the same purport, in or upon any uncopyrighted
article, or with fraudulent intent shall remove or alter the
copyright notice upon any article duly copyrighted shall be
guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not less than
one hundred dollars and not more than one thousand dollars. Act
of March 4, 1909.




The rigid conventionality of the theatre has been frequently
remarked upon. Why the world should ever fear a radical, indeed,
is hard to see, since he has against him the whole dead weight of
society; but least of all need the radical be dreaded in the
theatre. When the average person pays money for his amusements,
he is little inclined to be pleased with something which doesn't
amuse him: and what amuses him, nine times out of ten, is what
has amused him. That is why changes in the theatre are relatively
slow, and customs long prevail, even till it seems they may
corrupt the theatrical world.

For many generations in our playhouse it was the custom to follow
the long play of the evening with an "afterpiece," generally in
one act, but always brief, and almost always gay, if not
farcical. Audiences, which in the early days assembled before
seven o'clock, had to be sent home happy. After the tragedy, the
slap-stick or the loud guffaw; after "Romeo and Juliet," Cibber's
"Hob in the Well"; after "King Lear," "The Irish Widow." (These
two illustrations are taken at random from the programs of the
Charleston theatre in 1773.)  This custom persisted until
comparatively recent times. The fathers and mothers of the
present generation can remember when William Warren, at the
Boston Museum, would turn of an evening from such a part as his
deep-hearted Sir Peter Teazle to the loud and empty vociferations
of a Morton farce. The entertainment in those days would hardly
have been considered complete without the "afterpiece," or, as
time went on, sometimes the "curtain raiser." It is by no means
certain that theatre seats were always cheaper than to-day. In
some cases, certainly, they were relatively quite as high. But it
is certain that you got more for your money. You frequently saw
your favorite actor in two contrasted roles, two contrasted
styles of acting perhaps, and you saw him from early evening till
a decently late hour. You didn't get to the theatre at 8.30, wait
for the curtain to rise on a thin-spun drawing-room comedy at
8.45, and begin hunting for your wraps at 10.35. One hates to
think, in fact, what would have happened to a manager fifty years
ago who didn't give more than that for the price of a ticket. Our
fathers and mothers watched their pennies more sharply than we

For various reasons, one of them no doubt being the growth of
cheaper forms of amusement and the consequent desertion from the
traditional playhouse of a considerable body of those who least
like, and can least afford, to spend money irrespective of
returns, the "afterpiece" and "curtain raiser" have practically
vanished from our stage. They have so completely vanished, in
fact, that theatre goers have lost not only the habit of
expecting them, but the imaginative flexibility to enjoy them. If
you should play "Romeo and Juliet" to-day and then follow it with
a one-act farce, your audience would be uncomfortably bewildered.
They would be unable to make the necessary adjustment of mood. If
you focus your vision rapidly from a near to a far object, you
probably suffer from eye-strain. Similarly, the jump from one
play to the other in the theatre gives a modern audience mind- or
mood-strain. It is largely a matter of habit. We, to-day, have
lost the trick through lack of practice. The old custom is dead;
we are fixed in a new one. If Maude Adams, for instance, should
follow "The Little Minister" with a roaring farce, or Sothern
should turn on the same evening from "If I Were King" to "Box and
Cox," we  should feel that some artistic unity had been rudely
violated; nor am I at all sure, being a product of this
generation, but that we should be quite right.

Matters standing as they do, then, it seems to me that the talk
we frequently hear about reviving "the art of the one-act play"
by restoring the curtain raisers or afterpieces to the programs
of our theatres is reactionary and futile. All recent attempts to
pad out a slim play with an additional short one have failed to
meet with approval, even when the short piece was so masterly a
work as Barrie's "The Will," splendidly acted by John Drew, or
the same author's "Twelve Pound Look," acted by Miss Barrymore.
Nor is it at all certain that the one-act plays of our parents
and grandparents and great-grandparents, the names of which you
may read by the thousands on ancient playbills, added anything to
the store of dramatic literature. Some of them are decently
entombed in the catacombs of Lacy's British Drama, or still
available for amateurs in French's library. Did you ever try to
read one? Of course, there was "Box and Cox," but it is doubtful
if there will be any great celebration at the tercentenary of
Morton's death. For the most part, those ancient afterpieces were
frankly padding, conventional farces to fill up the bill and send
the audiences home happy.  To the real art of the drama or the
development of the one-act play as a form of serious literary
expression, they made precious little contribution. They were a
theatrical tradition, a convention.

But the one-act play, nonetheless, has an obvious right to
existence, as much as the short story, and there are plentiful
proofs that it can be as terse, vivid, and significant. Most
novelists don't tack on a short story at the end of their books
for full measure, but issue their contes either in collections
or in the pages of the magazines.  What  similar chances are
there, or can there be, for the one-act play, the dramatic short

An obvious chance is offered by vaudeville. The vaudeville
audience is in the mood for rapid alterations of attention; it
has the habit of variety. This is just as much a convention of
vaudeville as the single play is now a convention of the
traditional theatre. Indeed, anything longer than a one-act play
in vaudeville would be frowned upon. Any one wishing to push the
analogy can find more than one correspondence between a
vaudeville program and the contents of a "popular" magazine;
each, certainly, is the present refuge of short fiction. Yet
vaudeville can hardly be considered an ideal cradle for a serious
dramatic art. (Shall we say that the analogy to the "popular"
magazine still holds?) The average "playlet" -- atrocious word --
in the variety theatres is a dreadful thing, crude, obvious,
often sensational or sentimental, usually very badly acted at
least in the minor r&ocirc;les, and still more a frank padding, a
thing of the footlights, than the afterpiece of our parents. It
has been frequently said by those optimists who are forever
discovering the birth of the arts in popular amusements that
vaudeville audiences will appreciate and applaud the best. This
is only in part true. They will appreciate the best juggler, the
cleverest trained dog, the most appealing ballad singer such as
Chevalier or Harry Lauder. But they will no more appreciate those
subtleties of dramatic art which must have free play in the
serious development of the one-act play than the readers of a
"popular" magazine in America (or England either) would
appreciate Kipling's "They," or George Moore's "The Wild Goose,"
or de Maupassant's "La Ficelle." To  expect them to is silly; and
to expect that because the supreme, vivid example of any form is
comprehensible to all classes and all mixtures of classes,
therefore the supreme example is going to be developed out of the
commonplace stuff such mixed audiences daily enjoy, is equally to
misunderstand the evolution of an art product in our complex
modern world. But, indeed, the matter scarce calls for argument.
Vaudeville itself furnishes the answer. Where are its one-act
plays which can be called dramatic literature? It is a hopeful
sign, perhaps, that certain of the plays in this volume have
percolated into the varieties! But they were not cradled there.

If the traditional theatre, then, is now in a rut which affords
no room for the one-act play, and if vaudeville is an empty 
cradle for this branch of dramatic art, where shall we turn?  The
one-act play to-day has found refuge and encouragement in the
experimental theatres, and among the amateurs.  The best one-act
plays so far written in English have come out of Ireland, chiefly
from the Abbey Theatre in Dublin where they were first acted by a
company recruited from amateur players. Synge's "Riders to the
Sea," Yeats's "The Hour Glass," the comedies of Lady Gregory and
others of that school, have not only proved the power of this
form to carry the sense of reality, but its power as well to
reach tragic intensity or high poetic beauty. The sombre
loveliness and cleansing reality of Synge's masterpiece are
almost unrivaled in our short-play literature. Not from the Abbey
Theatre, but from the pen of an Irishman, Lord Dunsany, have come
such short fantasies as "The Gods of the Mountain" and "The
Glittering Gate," which the so-called "commercial" theatre has
quite ignored, but which have been played extensively by amateurs
and experimental theatres throughout America; and the latter
piece, especially, has probably been provocative of more
experimental stagecraft and a greater stimulation of poetic fancy
among amateur producers than any drama, short or long, written in
recent years.

When the Washington Square Players, for the most part amateurs of
the theatre, began their experiment in the spring of 1915, they
began with a bill of one-act plays. With but two exceptions, all
their succeeding productions have been composed of one-act plays,
usually in groups of four, the last one for the evening sometimes
being a pantomime. (It should be noted that a program of four
one-act plays  has the unity of a collection. A short play
following a long one is overbalanced and the program seems to
most of us awry.) The reason for this choice was not entirely a
devotion to the art of the one-act play. When players are
inexperienced, it is far easier to present a group of plays of
one act than it is to sustain a single set of characters for an
entire evening. The action moves more rapidly, the tale is told
before the monotony of the actors becomes too apparent. Moreover,
the difference between the plays helps to furnish that variety
which the players themselves cannot supply by their
impersonations. Still again, it was no doubt easier for the
Washington Square Players to find novelties within their capacity
in the one-act form than in the longer medium. At any rate, they
did produce one-act plays, and are still producing them.

Four of these plays are presented in this book, four which won
approval first on the stage of the Bandbox Theatre and later,
acted by other players, in various other theatres. One of them,
"Overtones," is a theatrical novelty which if prolonged beyond
the one-act form would become monotonous. Another, "Helena's
Husband," is a bantering satire, an intellectual "skit," which
would equally suffer by prolongation.  "Eugenically Speaking"
could certainly bear no further extension, unless its mood were
deepened into seriousness. Finally, "The Clod" approaches the
true episodic roundness of the one-act drama, or the short story,
in its best estate. Here is a single episode of reality, taken
from its context and set apart for contemplation. It begins at
the proper moment for understanding, it ends when the tale is
told. There is here more than a hint of the art of Guy de
Maupassant. And the episode is theatrically exciting -- a prime
requisite for practical performance, and spiritually significant
-- a prime requisite for the serious consideration of intelligent
spectators. In these four plays, then, written for the Washington
Square Players, the one-act form demonstrates its right to our
attention and cultivation, for it takes interesting ideas or
situations which are incapable of expansion into longer dramas
and makes intelligent entertainment of what otherwise would be

Because such organizations as the Abbey Theatre have demonstrated
the value of the one-act play in portraying local life, in
stimulating a local stage literature; because such organizations
in America as the Washington Square Players have demonstrated the
superior value of the one-act play as a weapon with which to win
recognition and build up the histrionic capacity to tackle longer
works; and, finally, because the one-act play offers such obvious
advantages to amateurs, it seems fairly certain that in the
immediate future, at least, the one-act play in America, as a
serious art form, will be cultivated by the experimental
theatres, the so-called "Little Theatres," and by the more
ambitious and talented amateurs. As our experimental theatres
increase in number -- and they are increasing -- it will probably
play its part, and perhaps no insignificant a part, in the
development of a national drama through the development of a
local drama and the cultivation of a taste for self-expression in
various communities. It is only when these experimental theatres
are sufficient in number, and the amateur spirit has been
sufficiently aroused in various communities, that the commercial
theatre of tradition will be seriously influenced. When that time
comes -- if it does come -- one of the results will undoubtedly
be a more flexible theatre, the growth of repertoire companies,
the expansion of the activities of popular players. In a more
flexible theatre, where repertoire is a rule rather than a
strange and dreaded experiment, and where actors pride themselves
on versatility and the public honors them for it, the one-act
play will again have its place, but not then as a curtain raiser
or afterpiece, to pad out an evening or "send the suburbs home
happy," but as a serious branch of dramatic art. In that happy
day Barrie will not be the only first-class talent in the
commercial playhouse daring the one-act form, or at least able
to induce a commercial manager to produce his work in that form.

But that time is not yet. The one-act play in our country to-day
is an ally of the amateurs and the innovators. For that very
reason, perhaps, it is the form which will bear the most watching
for signs of imagination and for flashes of insight and
interpretative significance. 

Stockbridge, Massachusetts.


If fools did not rush in where theatrical angels fear to tread,
this Preface would never have been written. Two years back the
Washington Square Players were called, by many who had theatrical
experience, fools. Now some term us pioneers. The future may
write us fools again, or something better -- the conclusion being
that the difference between the fool and the pioneer lies in the
outcome; the secret, that the motive power behind both is

Without enthusiasm the Washington Square Players could never have
come into existence, nor survived. From the first, when we had
barely enough money for rent and none for the costumes and
properties we borrowed and disguised, ours was an enthusiasm
strong in quantity as well as quality. The theatre is a peculiar
art. Both in production and reception it requires numbers and an
enduring faith. Many a similar attempt has failed because its
experimentation and expression have been restricted by a single
point of view. Many have not continued because the desire has
waned in the face of the hardships and sacrifices entailed. But
the Players rightly had a plural name. We were, and are, a
collection of many individuals -- actors, authors, artists, and
art-lovers -- all fired with the sincere desire to give to
playgoers something they had not been able previously to find on
the American stage. And our desire has been strong enough to face
and fight, and to continue to face and fight, the ever-growing,
ever-changing problems of finance, art, and human
inter-relations, which are the inescapable factors of the

We believed in the democracy of the drama. But we understand
democracy to mean, not the gratification of the taste of the many
to the exclusion of that of the few, but the satisfaction of all
tastes. We had no quarrel with the stage as it was, save that
there wasn't enough of it. We felt there was a public that wanted
something other than it could get -- as evidenced by the rise of
such institutions as the Drama League -- and that that public was
large enough to support what it wanted once it learned where to
find it. The problem was to bridge the gap of waiting. And it was
met by the sacrifices of all those who worked at first for
nothing, and then for little more, so that the Players would not
fall into debt in the process of reaching an audience. As an able
New York dramatic critic stated, the establishment of the
Washington Square Players was merely one more proof that in
America, as elsewhere, joy was a greater incentive to work than

This enthusiasm among the workers, both in quality and quantity,
was generously shared by the spectators. The public which looked
for plays, acting and producing different from what it could find
on the regular stage, proved us right in believing that it was
sufficiently large and interested to warrant our experiment.
Critics and patrons gave us from the first, and we hope will
continue to give us, that personal interest and sympathetic
appreciation which have been among the most vital factors
contributing to our growth.

So far we have produced thirty-two plays, of one-act and greater
length, and of these twenty have been American. The emphasis of
our interest has been placed on the American playwright, because
we feel that no American theatre can be really successful unless
it develops a native drama to present and interpret those
emotions, ideas, characters, and conditions with which we, as
Americans, are primarily concerned.

Of these twenty American plays the Drama League has selected four
for this volume of its series. Excluding comment on my farce --
for an author is notoriously unfit to judge his own work -- I
think it may be said that these represent a fair example of the
success the Players have met with in trying to encourage the
writing of American plays with "freshness and sincerity of theme
and development; skilful delineation of character; non-didactic
presentation of an idea; and dramatic and esthetic effectiveness
without theatricalism." They are the early products of a new
movement in the American theatre of which we are happy to be a
part, and if their publication meets with the sympathetic,
appreciative reception that has been accorded their production,
we feel and hope that not only these authors, not only the
Washington Square Players, but all of the workers in this new
movement will be encouraged and stimulated to a further effort, a
greater mastery, and a bigger achievement.

Director of the Washington Square Players.
Comedy Theatre, New York, 1916.

A One-Act Play

Copyright, 1914, by
Emmet Lewis Beach, Jr.

(Note -- The author acknowledges indebtedness to "The Least of
These," by Donal Hamilton Haines, a short story which suggested
the play.)

"The Clod" was produced by the Washington Square Players, under
the direction of Holland Hudson, at the Bandbox Theatre, New York
City, beginning January 10, 1916.

In the cast, in the order of their appearance, were the

MARY TRASK   .  .  .  . Josephine A. Meyer
THADDEUS TRASK  .  .  . John King
A NORTHERN SOLDIER .  . Glenn Hunter
A SOUTHERN SERGEANT   . Robert Strange
A SOUTHERN PRIVATE .  . Spalding Hall

The Scene was designed by John King.

The   Clod" was  subsequently revived by the Washington  Square
Players at the Comedy Theatre, New  York  City, beginning June 5,
1916. In this production Mary  Morris played the part of Mary

Later it was presented in vaudeville by Martin Beck, opening at
the Palace Theatre, New York City, August 21, 1916, with the
following cast:

MARY TRASK  .  .  .  .    Sarah Padden
THADDEUS TRASK .  .  .    John Cameron
A NORTHERN SOLDIER   .    Glenn Hunter
A SOUTHERN SERGEANT  .    Thomas Hamilton
A SOUTHERN PRIVATE   .    Gordon Gunnis

"The  Clod" was  first produced by the Harvard Dramatic Club, in
March, 1914, with the cast as follows:

MARY TRASK  .  .  .  .   Christine Hayes
THADDEUS TRASK .  .  .   Norman B. Clark
A NORTHERN SOLDIER. .   Dale Kennedy
A SOUTHERN SERGEANT  .   James W. D. Seymour
DICK  .  .  .  .  .  .   Richard Southgate





SCENE: The kitchen of a farmhouse on the borderline between the
Southern and Northern states.
TIME:  Ten o'clock in the evening, September, 1863.

The back wall is broken at stage left by the projection at right
angles of a partially enclosed staircase, four steps of which,
leading to the landing, are visible to the audience. Underneath
the enclosed stairway is a cubby-hole with a door; in front of
the door stands a small table. To the left of this table is a
kitchen chair. A door leading to the yard is in the centre of the
unbroken wall back; to the right of the door, a cupboard, to the
left, a stove. In the wall right are two windows. Between them is
a bench, on which there are a pail and a dipper; above the bench
a towel hanging on a nail, and above the towel a double-barrelled
shot-gun suspended on two pegs.

In the wall left, and well down stage, is a closed door leading
to another room. In the centre of the kitchen stands a large
table; to the right and left of this, two straight-backed chairs.

The walls are roughly plastered. The stage is lighted by the
moon, which shines into the room through the windows, and a
candle on table centre. When the door back is opened, a glimpse
of a desolate farmyard is seen in the moonlight.

When the curtain rises, THADDEUS TRASK, a man of fifty or sixty
years of age, short and thick set, slow in speech and movement,
yet in perfect health, sits lazily smoking his pipe in a chair at
the right of the centre table.

After a moment, MARY TRASK, a tired, emaciated woman, whose years
equal her husband's, enters from the yard, carrying a pail of
water and a lantern. She puts the pail on the bench and hangs the
lantern above it; then crosses to the stove.

MARY. Ain't got wood 'nough fer breakfast, Thad.

THADDEUS. I'm too tired to go out now; wait till mornin'.

[Pause. MARY lays the fire in the stove.]

Did I tell ye that old man Reed saw three Southern troopers pass
his house this mornin'?

MARY [takes coffee pot from stove, crosses to bench, fills pot
with water]. I wish them soldiers would git out o' the
neighborhood. Whenever I see 'em passin', I have t' steady myself
'gainst somethin' or I'd fall. I couldn't hardly breathe
yesterday when the Southerners came after fodder. I'd die if they
spoke t' me.

THADDEUS. Ye needn't be afraid of Northern soldiers.

MARY [puts coffee pot on stove]. I hate 'em all -- Union or
Southern. I can't make head or tail t' what all this fightin's
'bout. An' I don't care who wins, so long as they git through,
an' them soldiers stop stealin' our corn an' potatoes.

THADDEUS. Ye can't hardly blame 'em if they're hungry, ken ye?

MARY. It ain't right that they should steal from us poor folk.
[Lifts a huge gunny sack of potatoes from the table and begins
setting the table for breakfast, getting knives, forks, spoons,
plates, cups, and saucers -- two of each -- from the cupboard.]
We have hard 'nough times t' make things meet now. I ain't set
down onct to-day, 'cept fer meals; an' when I think o' the work I
got t' do t'morrow, I ought t' been in bed hours ago.

THADDEUS. I'd help if I could, but it ain't my fault if the Lord
see'd fit t' lay me up, so I'm always ailin'. [Rises lazily.] Ye
better try an' take things easy t'morrow.

MARY. It's well 'nough t' say, but them apples got t' be picked
an' the rest o' the potatoes sorted. If I could sleep at night
it'd be all right, but with them soldiers 'bout, I can't.

THADDEUS [crosses to right; fondly handles his double-barrelled
shot-gun]. Jolly, wish I'd see a flock o' birds.

MARY [showing nervousness]. I'd rather go without than hear ye
fire. I wish ye didn't keep it loaded.

THADDEUS. Ye know I ain't got time t' stop an' load when I see
the birds. They  don't wait fer ye. [Hangs gun on wall, drops
into his chair, dejectedly.] Them pigs has got to be butchered.

MARY. Wait till I git a chance t' go t' sister's. I can't stand
it t' hear 'em squeal.

THADDEUS [pulling off his boots, grunting meanwhile]. Best go
soon then, 'cause they's fat as they'll ever be, an' there ain't
no use in wastin' feed on 'em. [Pause, rises.] Ain't ye most
ready fer bed?

MARY. Go on up.

[THADDEUS takes candle in one hand, boots in other; moves toward

An', Thad, try not t' snore to-night.

THADDEUS [reaching the landing]. Hit me if I do. [Disappears from

[MARY fills the kettle with water and puts it on the stove;
closes the door back; takes the lantern from the wall, tries
twice before she succeeds in blowing it out. Puts the lantern on
the table before the cubby-hole. Drags herself up the stairs,
pausing a moment on the top step for breath before she disappears
from sight. There is a silence. Then the door back is opened a
trifle and a man's hand is seen. Cautiously the door is opened
wide, and a young NORTHERN SOLDIER is silhouetted on the
threshold. He wears a dirty uniform and has a bloody bandage tied
about his head. He is wounded, sick, and exhausted. He stands at
the door a moment, listening intently; then hastily crosses to
the centre table looking for food. He bumps against the chair and
mutters an oath. Finding nothing on the table, he moves toward
the cupboard. Suddenly the galloping of horses is heard in the
distance. The NORTHERNER starts; then rushes to the window nearer
the audience. For a moment the sound ceases, then it begins
again, growing gradually louder and louder. The NORTHERNER
hurries through the door left. Horses and voices are heard, in
the yard, and almost immediately heavy thundering knocks sound on
the door back. A racket is heard above stairs. The knockers on
the door grow impatient, and push the door open. A large,
powerful SOUTHERN SERGEANT and a smaller, more youthful TROOPER
of the same army enter. At the same time, THADDEUS appears on the
stairs, carrying a candle.]

SERGEANT [to THADDEUS; not unkindly]. Sorry, my friend, but you
were so darn slow 'bout openin' the door, that we had to walk in.
Has there been a Northern soldier round here to-day?

THADDEUS [timidly]. I ain't seed one.

SERGEANT. Have you been here all day?

THADDEUS. I ain't stirred from the place.

SERGEANT. Call the rest of your family down.

THADDEUS. My wife's all there is. [Goes to foot of stairs, and
calls loudly and excitedly.] Mary! Mary! Come down right off.

SERGEANT. You better not lie to me or it'll go tough with you.

THADDEUS. I swear I ain't seed no one.

[MARY comes downstairs slowly. She is all atremble.]

THADDEUS. Say, Mary, you was h ----

SERGEANT. You keep still, man. I'll question her myself. [To
MARY.] You were here at the house all day?

[MARY is very fearful and embarrassed, but after a moment manages
to nod her head slowly.]
You didn't take a trip down to the store?
[MARY shakes her head slowly.]
Haven't you got a tongue?

MARY [with difficulty]. Y-e-s.

SERGEANT. Then use it. The Northern soldier who came here a while
ago was pretty badly wounded, wasn't he?

MARY. I -- I -- no one's been here.

SERGEANT. Come, come, woman, don't lie.
[MARY shows a slight sign of anger.]
He had a bad cut in his forehead, and you felt sorry for him, and
gave him a bite to eat.

MARY [haltingly]. No one's been near the house to-day.

SERGEANT [trying a different tone]. We're not going to hurt him,
woman.  He's a friend of ours. We want to find him, and put him
in a hospital, don't we, Dick? [Turning to his companion.]

DICK. He's sick and needs to go to bed for a while.

MARY. He ain't here.

SERGEANT. What do you want to lie for?

MARY [quickly]. I ain't lyin'. I ain't seed no soldier.

THADDEUS. No one could 'a' come without her seein' 'em.

SERGEANT. I suppose you know what'll happen to you if you are
hidin' the man?
[MARY stands rooted to the spot where she stopped when she came
downstairs. Her eyes are fixed on the SERGEANT.]

THADDEUS. There ain't no one here. We both been here all day, an'
there couldn't no one come without our knowin' it. What would
they want round here anyway?

SERGEANT. We'll search the place.

MARY [quickly]. Ye ain't got no ----

SERGEANT [sharply]. What's that, woman?

MARY. There ain't no one here, an' ye're keepin' us from our

SERGEANT. Your sleep? This is an affair of life and death. Get us
a lantern.

[THADDEUS moves to the table which stands in front of the
cubby-hole, and lights the lantern from the candle which he holds
in his hand. He hands the lantern to the SERGEANT.]

SERGEANT [seeing the door to the cubby-hole]. Ha! Tryin' to hide
the door are you, by puttin' a table in front of it. You can't
fool me. [To THADDEUS.] Pull the table away and let's see what's
behind the door.

THADDEUS. It's a cubby-hole an' ain't been opened in years.

SERGEANT [sternly and emphatically]. I said to open the door.

[THADDEUS sets the candle on the larger table, moves the smaller
table to the right, and opens the door to the cubby-hole. Anger
is seen on MARY'S face. The SERGEANT takes a long-barrelled
revolver from his belt, and peers into the cubby-hole. He sees

SERGEANT [returning his revolver to his belt]. We're goin' to
tear this place to pieces till we find him. You might just as
well hand him over now.

MARY. There ain't no one here.

SERGEANT. All right. Now we'll see. Dick, you stand guard at the

[DICK goes to the door back, and stands gazing out into the night
-- his back to the audience.]

SERGEANT [to THADDEUS]. Come along, man. I'll have a look at the
upstairs. [To MARY.] You sit down in that chair [points to the
chair at right of table, and feeling for a sufficiently strong
threat]. Don't you stir or I'll -- I'll set fire to your house.
[To THADDEUS.] Go on ahead.

[THADDEUS and the SERGEANT go upstairs. MARY sinks almost
lifelessly into the chair. She is the picture of fear. She sits
facing left. Suddenly she leans forward. The door left is being
opened. She opens her eyes wide and draws her breath sharply. She
opens her mouth as though she would scream, but makes no sound.
The NORTHERNER comes slowly and cautiously through the door.
(DICK cannot see him because of the jog in the wall.) MARY only
stares in bewilderment at the NORTHERNER, as the man, with eyes
fixed appealingly on her, opens the door to the cubby-hole and
crawls inside.]

DICK. Woman!

MARY [almost with a cry -- thinking that DICK has seen the

DICK. Have you got an apple handy? I'm starved. [MARY moves to
the cupboard to get the apple for DICK. The SERGEANT and THADDEUS
come downstairs. The SERGEANT, seeing that MARY is not where he
left her, looks about quickly and discovers her at the cupboard.]

SERGEANT. Here, what'd I tell you I'd do if you moved from that

MARY [with great fear]. Oh, I didn't -- I only -- he wanted ----

DICK. It's all right, Sergeant. I asked her to get me an apple.

SERGEANT. Dick, take this lantern and search the barn.
[DICK takes the lantern from the SERGEANT and goes out back.]
[To THADDEUS.] Come in here with me. [Takes the candle from
centre table.] [The SERGEANT and THADDEUS move toward the door
left. As though in a stupor, MARY starts to follow.] Sit down!
[MARY falls into the chair at the right of the centre table. The
SERGEANT and THADDEUS go into the room at left. They can be heard
moving furniture about. MARY'S eyes fall on a pin on the floor.
She bends over, picks it up, and fastens it in her belt. The

SERGEANT. If I find him now, after all the trouble you've given
me, you know what'll happen. There's likely to be two dead men
and a woman, instead of only the Yankee.

DICK [bounding into the room]. Sergeant!

SERGEANT. What is it? [DICK hurries to the SERGEANT and says
something in a low voice to him. Satisfaction shows on the
latter's face.]

SERGEANT. Now my good people, how did that horse get here?

THADDEUS. What horse?

DICK. There's a horse in the barn with a saddle on his back. I
swear he's been ridden lately.

THADDEUS [amazed]. There is?

SERGEANT. You know it. [To MARY.] Come, woman, who drove that
horse here?

MARY [silent for a moment -- her eyes on the floor]. I don't
know. I didn't hear nothin'.

THADDEUS [moving in the direction of the door back]. Let me go
an' see.

SERGEANT [pushing THADDEUS back]. No, you don't. You two have
done enough to justify the harshest measures. Show us the man's

THADDEUS. If there's anybody here, he's come in the night without
our knowin' it. I tell ye I didn't see anybody, an' she didn't,
an' ---- 

SERGEANT [has been watching MARY]. Where is he? [The SERGEANT'S
tone makes THADDEUS jump. There is a pause, during which MARY
seems trying to compose herself. Then slowly, she lifts her eyes
and looks at the SERGEANT.]

MARY. There ain't nobody in the house 'cept us two.

SERGEANT [to DICK]. Did you search all the outbuildings?

DICK. Yes. There's not a trace of him except the horse.

SERGEANT [wiping the perspiration from his face; speaks with
apparent deliberation at first, but increases to great strength
and emphasis]. He didn't have much of a start of us, and I think
he was wounded. A farmer down the road said he heard hoof-beats.
The man the other side of you heard nothing, and the horse is in
your barn. [Slowly draws revolver, and points it at THADDEUS.]
There are ways of making people confess.

THADDEUS [covering his face with his hands]. For God's sake,
don't. I know that horse looks bad -- but as I live I ain't heard
a sound, or seen anybody. I'd give the man up in a minute if he
was here.

SERGEANT [lowering his gun]. Yes, I guess you would. You wouldn't
want me to hand you and your wife over to our army to be shot
down like dogs. [MARY shivers.] [Swings round sharply, and points
the gun at MARY.] Your wife knows where he's hid.

MARY [breaking out in irritating, rasping voice]. I'm sure I wish
I did. An' I'd tell ye quick, an' git ye out of here. 'Tain't no
fun fer me to have ye prowlin' all over my house. Ye ain't got no
right t' torment me like this. Lord knows how I'll git my day's
work done, if I can't have my sleep.

SERGEANT [has been gazing at her in astonishment; lowers his
gun]. Good God, what a clod! Nothing but her own petty existence.
[In different voice to MARY.] I'll have to ask you to get us
something to eat. We're famished. [With relief, but showing some
anger, MARY turns to the stove. She lights the fire, and puts
more coffee in the pot.]

SERGEANT. Come, Dick, we better give our poor horses some water.
They're all tired out. [In lower voice.] The man isn't here. If
he were, he couldn't get away while we're in the yard. [To
THADDEUS.] Get us a pail to give the horses some water. [Sees the
pails on the bench. Picks one of them up and moves toward the

MARY. That ain't the horses' pail.

SERGEANT [to THADDEUS]. Come along, you can help.

MARY [louder]. That's the drinkin' water pail.

SERGEANT. That's all right.

[The SERGEANT, DICK, and THADDEUS go out back. MARY needs more
wood for the fire, so she follows them in a moment. When she 
has disappeared, the NORTHERNER drags himself from the
cubby-hole. He looks as though he would fall with exhaustion.
MARY returns with an armful of wood.]

MARY [sees the NORTHERNER. Shows no sympathy for the man in this
speech, nor during the entire scene]. Ye git back! Them
soldiers'll see ye.

NORTHERNER. Some water. Quick. [Falls into chair at left of
table.] It was so hot in there.

MARY [gives him water in the dipper]. Don't ye faint here. If
them soldiers git ye, they'll kill me an' Thad. Hustle an' git
back in the cubby-hole. [MARY turns quickly to the stove. The
NORTHERNER drinks the water; puts dipper on table, then,
summoning all his strength, rises and crosses to MARY. He touches
her on the shoulder. MARY is so startled, that she jumps and
utters a faint cry.]

NORTHERNER. Be still, or they'll hear you. How are you going to
get me out of this?

MARY [angrily]. Ye git out. Why did ye come here, a-bringin' me
all this extra work, an' maybe death?

NORTHERNER. I couldn't go any farther. My horse and I were both
near dropping. Won't you help me?

MARY. No, I won't. I don't know who ye are or nothin' 'bout ye,
'cept that them men want t' ketch ye. [In a changed tone of
curiosity.] Did ye steal somethin' from 'em?

NORTHERNER. Don't you understand? Those men belong to the
Confederacy, and I'm a Northerner. They've been chasing me all
day. [Pulling a bit of crumpled paper from his breast.] They want
this paper. If they get it before to-morrow morning it will mean
the greatest disaster that's ever come to the Union army.

MARY [with frank curiosity]. Was it ye rode by yesterday?

NORTHERNER. Don't you see what you can do? Get me out of here and
away from those men, and you'll have done more than any soldier
could do for the country -- for your country.

MARY. I ain't got no country. Me an' Thad's only got this farm.
Thad's ailin', an' I do most the work, an' ----

NORTHERNER. The lives of thirty thousand men hang by a thread. I
must save them. And you must help me.

MARY. I don't know nothin' 'bout ye, an' I don't know what ye're
talkin' 'bout.

NORTHERNER. Only help me get away.

MARY [angrily]. No one ever helped me or Thad. I lift no finger
in this business. Why ye come here in the first place is beyond
me -- sneakin' round our house, spoilin' our well-earned sleep.
If them soldiers ketch ye, they'll kill me an' Thad. Maybe ye
didn't know that.

NORTHERNER. What's your life and your husband's compared to
thirty thousand! I haven't any money or I'd give it to you.

MARY. I don't want yer money.

NORTHERNER. What do you want?

MARY. I want ye t' git away. I don't care what happens t' ye.
Only git out of here.

NORTHERNER. I can't with the Southerners in the yard. They'd
shoot me like a dog. Besides, I've got to have my horse.

MARY [with naive curiosity]. What kind o' lookin'
horse is it?

NORTHERNER [dropping into chair at left of centre table in
disgust and despair]. O God! If I'd only turned in at the other
farm. I might have found people with red blood. [Pulls out his
gun, and hopelessly opens the empty chamber.]

MARY [alarmed]. What ye goin' t' do with that gun?

NORTHERNER. Don't be afraid. It's not load ----

MARY. I'd call 'em in, if I wasn't ----

NORTHERNER [leaping to the wall left and bracing himself against
it]. Go call them in. Save your poor skin and your husband's if
you can. Call them in. You can't save yourself. [Laughs
hysterically.] You can't save your miserable skin. Cause if they
get me, and don't shoot you, I will.

MARY [leans against left side of centre table for support; in
agony]. Oh!

NORTHERNER. You see, you've got to help me whether you want to or

MARY [feeling absolutely caught]. I ain't done nothin'. I don't
see why ye an' them others come here a threatenin' t' shoot me. I
don't want nothin'. I don't want t' do nothin'. I jest want ye
all t' git out a here an' leave me an' Thad t' go t' sleep. Oh, I
don't know what t' do. Ye got me in a corner where I can't move.
[Passes her hand back along the table. Touches the dipper
accidentally, and it falls to the floor. Screams at the sound.]

NORTHERNER [leaping toward her]. Now you've done it. They'll be
here in a minute. You can't give me up. They'll shoot you if you
do. They'll shoot. [Hurries up the stairs, and disappears from

[MARY stands beside the table, trembling terribly. The SERGEANT,
DICK, and THADDEUS come running in.]

SERGEANT. What did you yell for?
[No answer.]
[Seizing her by the arm.] Answer!

MARY. I knocked the dipper off the table. It scared me.

SERGEANT [dropping wearily into chair at left of centre table].
Well, don't drop our breakfast. Put it on the table. We're ready.

MARY [stands gazing at him]. It ain't finished.

OFFICER [worn out by his day's work and MARY'S stupidity, from
now on absolutely brutish]. You've had time to cook a dozen
meals. You're as slow as a snail. What did you do all the time we
were in the barn?

MARY. I didn't do nothin'.

SERGEANT. You lazy female. Now get a move on, and give us
something fit to eat. Don't try to get rid of any left-overs on
us. If you do, you'll suffer for it.

[MARY stands looking at him.]
Don't you know anything, you brainless farm-drudge? Hurry, I

[MARY turns to the stove. THADDEUS sits in chair at left of
smaller table.]

DICK. What a night. My stomach's as hollow as these people's
heads. [Takes towel which hangs above the bench and wipes the
barrel of his gun with it.]

MARY [sees DICK]. That's one of my best towels.

DICK. Can't help it.

SERGEANT. 'Tend to the breakfast. That's enough for you to do at
one time.

[DICK puts his gun on the smaller table, and sits at right of
centre table.]

SERGEANT [quietly to DICK]. I don't see how he gave us the slip.

DICK. He knew we were after him, and drove his horse in here, and
went on afoot. Clever scheme, I must admit.

THADDEUS [endeavoring to get them into conversation]. Have ye rid
far to-night, misters?

DICK [shortly]. Far enough.

THADDEUS. Twenty miles or so?

DICK. Perhaps.

THADDEUS. How long ye been chasin' the critter?

SERGEANT. Shut up, man! Don't you see we don't want to talk to
you. Take hold and hurry, woman. My patience's at an end.

[MARY puts a loaf of bread, some fried eggs, and a coffee pot on
the table.]

MARY. There! I hope ye're satisfied.

[The SERGEANT and DICK pull their chairs to the table, and begin
to eat.]

SERGEANT. Is this all we get? Come, it won't do you any good to
be stingy.
[Obviously, from now on, everything the SERGEANT says drives MARY
nearer madness.]

MARY. It's all I got.

SERGEANT. It isn't a mouthful for a chickadee! Give us some

MARY. There ain't none.

SERGEANT. No butter on a farm? God, the way you lie!

MARY. I --

SERGEANT. Shut up!

DICK. Have you got any cider?

SERGEANT. Don't ask. She and the man probably drank themselves
stupid on it. [Throws fork on floor.] I never struck such a place
in my life. Get me another fork. How do you expect me to eat with
that bent thing?

[MARY stoops with difficulty and picks up the fork. Gets another
from the cupboard and gives it to the SERGEANT.]

SERGEANT. Now give us some salt. Don't you know that folks eat it
on eggs?

[MARY crosses to the cupboard; mistakes the pepper for the salt,
and puts it on the table.]

SERGEANT [sprinkles pepper on his food]. I said salt, woman!
[Spelling.] S-A-L-T. Salt! Salt!

[MARY goes to the cupboard; returns to the table with the salt.
Almost ready to drop, she drags herself to the window nearer
back, and leans against it, watching the SOUTHERNERS like a
hunted animal. THADDEUS sits nodding in the corner. The SERGEANT
and DICK go on devouring the food. The SERGEANT pours the coffee.
Puts his cup to his lips, takes one swallow; then, jumping to his
feet and upsetting his chair as he does so, he hurls his cup to
the floor. The crash of china stirs THADDEUS. MARY shakes in

SERGEANT [bellowing and pointing to the fluid trickling on the
floor]. Have you tried to poison us, you God damn hag?

[MARY screams, and the faces of the men turn white. It is like
the cry of the animal goaded beyond endurance.]

MARY [screeching]. Call my coffee poison, will ye? Call me a hag?
I'll learn ye! I'm a woman, and ye're drivin' me crazy. [Snatches
the gun from the wall, points it at the SERGEANT, and fires.
Keeps on screeching. The SERGEANT falls to the floor. DICK rushes
for his gun.]

THADDEUS. Mary! Mary!

MARY [aiming at DICK, and firing]. I ain't a hag, I'm a woman,
but ye're killin' me.

[DICK falls just as he reaches his gun. THADDEUS is in the corner
with his hands over his ears. The NORTHERNER stands on the
stairs. MARY continues to pull the trigger of the empty gun. The
NORTHERNER is motionless for a moment; then he goes to THADDEUS,
and shakes him.]

NORTHERNER. Go get my horse, quick!

[THADDEUS obeys. The NORTHERNER turns to MARY. She gazes at him,
but does not understand a word he says.]

NORTHERNER [with great fervor]. I'm ashamed of what I said. The
whole country will hear of this, and you. [Takes her hand, and
presses it to his lips; then turns and hurries out of the house.
MARY still holds the gun in her hand. She pushes a strand of gray
hair back from her face, and begins to pick up the fragments of
the broken coffee cup.]

MARY [in dead, flat tone]. I'll have to drink out the tin cup

[The hoof-beats of the NORTHERNER'S horse are heard.]



A One-Act Play

Copyright, 1914, by Edward Goodman

"Eugenically Speaking" was produced by the Washington Square
Players, under the direction of Philip Moeller, as part of their
first program at the Bandbox Theatre, New York City, beginning
February 19, 1915.

In the cast, in the order of their appearance, were the

UNA BRAITHEWAITE  .  .  .  Florence Enright
GEORGE COXEY   .  .  .  .  Karl Karsten
MR. BRAITHEWAITE  .  .  .  George C. Somnes
JARVIS a manservant  .  .  Ralph Roeder

The scene was designed by Engelbert Gminska and Miss Enright's
costume by Mrs. Edward Flammer.

"Eugenically Speaking" was subsequently revived by the Washington
Square Players at the Comedy Theatre, New York City, beginning
August 30, 1916. In this production Arthur Hohl played the part
of George Coxey; Robert Strange, Wm. Braithewaite; and Spalding
Hall, Jarvis.


UNA  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  A girl
GEORGE COXEY  .  .  .  .  .  A conductor
MR. BRAITHEWAITE .  .  .  .  A financier
JARVIS  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  A butler

TIME: Between to-day and to-morrow.
SCENE:A room in the Braithewaite mansion, richly but tastefully
furnished. Among these furnishings it is necessary for the play
to note, besides the door at the back, only the table that stands
a little to the right of the centre of the room, with a 
statue on it, and three chairs which stand, one to the right, one
to the left, and one in the middle. It is a winter afternoon, and
the room is illuminated by invisible lights.

Enter UNA, followed by GEORGE COXEY. UNA is a charming,
fashionable girl of twenty with a suave blend of will and poise.
GEORGE COXEY is a handsome, well-built, magnetic-looking youth of
about twenty-five. He is dressed in the garb of a street-car
conductor and carries the cap in his hand. Although somewhat
inconvenienced and preoccupied with the novelty of his
surroundings and his situation, he remains, in the main, in
excellent self-possession, an occasional twinkle in his eye
showing that he is even quietly alive to a certain humor in the
adventure. Above all, his attitude is that rare one, which we
like to feel typical of American youth, of facing an unusual
situation firmly, and seeing and grasping its possibilities

He stands near the door, waiting, examining the room and warming
his hands, while UNA goes to the bell and rings it and then
proceeds to the mirror to primp a little. When she is finished
she turns and notices him.

UNA. Why, my dear man, sit down. [She points to a chair at the

GEORGE. Thanks, after you.

UNA [laughs]. Oh! Excuse me. I forgot. You're a car conductor.
Naturally you're polite.

GEORGE. Not naturally, Miss. But I've learned.

UNA. An apt pupil, too. Let me teach you then that the ruder you
are to a woman, the more she'll hate you -- or love you. [She
goes up to him and invites him with a gesture.] Sit down.

[GEORGE remains immobile.]
The polite are not only bourgeois, they're boring.

GEORGE. When I know I'm right, I stick to it.

UNA. But you must grow tired of standing.

GEORGE. If I did, I'd lose my job.

UNA. You have already. Sit down.

GEORGE [firmly]. After you.

UNA [taking the chair, centre, and sitting on it]. You're
splendid. Now!

[GEORGE sits in the offered chair a little stiffly.]

UNA. Isn't that better than ringing up fares?

GEORGE [smiling at his attempt at a pun]. Fairly.

UNA [rising, perturbed]. No! You mustn't do that. That's vulgar.

GEORGE [rising in alarm]. What have I done?

UNA [vexed again]. Sit down. You mustn't jump up when I do.
[He remains standing. Vexed but smiling she sits.] Well, there!
[He sits down.] You punned! You mustn't. We all like puns, but
it's good form to call them bad taste.

[Enter JARVIS the Butler.]

JARVIS [starts slightly at perceiving the situation,
but controls himself]. Did you ring for me, Miss?

UNA. Yes. Please tell my father that I'd like to see him at once.
[JARVIS goes out.]

UNA. Do you know the reason that you are here?

GEORGE. The hundred dollars you gave me.

UNA. No ----

GEORGE. Yes. I wouldn't have left my job if you hadn't given me

UNA. I suppose not. But I mean, do you know why I brought you

GEORGE. I'm waiting to see.

UNA [enthusiastically]. I wonder if you'll like it.

GEORGE. Your father?

UNA. No. Dad's a dear. That is, he is when he sees you mean

[Enter  MR. BRAITHEWAITE. He is a well-preserved man near sixty,
almost always completely master of himself. On seeing COXEY he,
too, gives a little start and then controls himself.]


UNA [jumping up in excitement]. Oh, Daddy! I'm so glad you were
in. [To GEORGE who has risen, too.] Keep your seat. Draw up a
chair, Dad -- I've done it.


UNA [bringing up a chair and placing it to her right]. Do sit
down, Dad. He's so delicious. He won't sit down till we do -- and
you know how much they have to stand.

BRAITHEWAITE [looks at GEORGE and UNA and then sits in the chair
allotted to him, whereupon UNA sits in hers and then GEORGE sits
down]. Now, dear, what is it you have done?

UNA. Selected a husband.

[GEORGE moves a little uneasily. BRAITHEWAITE looks at GEORGE and
then speaks to UNA.]


UNA [pointing to GEORGE]. Him! [GEORGE rises in discomfiture.]
Do sit down. We're all sitting now, you see.
[GEORGE brings himself to sit down again.]

BRAITHEWAITE. But, my dear ----

UNA. Now don't say a word until you hear the whole story. You
read that article by Shaw in the Metropolitan, didn't you? I did.
You remember what he wrote? "The best eugenic guide is the sex
attraction -- the Voice of Nature." He thinks the trouble is at
present that we dare not marry out of our own sphere. But I'll
show you exactly what he says. [She fusses in her handbag and
pulls out a sheet of a magazine which she unfolds as she says:] I
always carry the article with me. It's so stimulating.

BRAITHEWAITE [protesting]. You're not going to read me a whole
Shaw article, are you? It's five o'clock now and we've a dinner
date at eight, dear.

UNA. It's a Shaw article, not a Shaw preface. However, I'll only
read the passage I've marked. Listen. [She reads.] "I do not
believe you will ever have any improvement in the human race
until you greatly widen the area of possible sexual selection;
until you make it as wide as the numbers of the community make
it. Just consider what occurs at the present time. I walk down
Oxford Street, let me say, as a young man." He might just as well
have said, "young woman," you know.


UNA [continues reading], "I see a woman who takes my fancy." With
me it would be a man, of course.

BRAITHEWAITE. For your purpose, of course.

UNA [continuing again]. "I fall in love with her. It would seem
very sensible in an intelligent community that I should take off
my hat and say to this lady: 'Will you excuse me; but you attract
me strongly, and if you are not already engaged, would you mind
taking my name and address and considering whether you would care
to marry me?' [BRAITHEWAITE looks uncomfortably at GEORGE who
looks uncomfortable, though amused, himself.] Now I have no such
chance at present."

BRAITHEWAITE. Exactly. You see, he admits it.

UNA. Yes, but why shouldn't I have the chance? That set me
thinking. I decided he was right. I am intelligent, am I not?

BRAITHEWAITE. I refuse to commit myself, dear, until I hear all
your story.

UNA. Well, I decided I'd make the chance. You see, I -- I've been
led to think recently that I ought to be getting married.

BRAITHEWAITE. May I ask why?

UNA. Yes, dear, but I'd rather not answer.

BRAITHEWAITE. I beg pardon.

UNA. And when I looked about me for the possibilities in my own
set, I -- [she makes a face] -- well, I wasn't attracted.

BRAITHEWAITE. I admit, in society, as a rule, the women grow
stronger and the men weaker.

UNA. Exactly. And I knew you wanted to be a proud grandfather.

BRAITHEWAITE. You're mistaken, dear. I hadn't given the subject
any thought; so I had no desires.

UNA. Well, I have . . . [BRAITHEWAITE slightly shows that he is
perhaps shocked. UNA notices this and continues in explanation]
given the subject a good deal of thought. I've spent days buying
second-hand clothing to give away at the missions and lodging
houses in order to have a look.

BRAITHEWAITE. At least there was charity in that.

UNA. Yes. You see I didn't want charity to have to begin at my
home. Self-preservation is the first law of Nature.

BRAITHEWAITE. And self-propagation, I suppose, the second.

UNA. Well -- the missions were no good. They were all so starved
and pinched-looking there I couldn't tell what they'd be like if
they got proper nourishment. And I didn't want to take a chance.
So I went to some coal yards.

BRAITHEWAITE. To find the devil not so black as painted?

UNA [with a grimace]. Blacker! I couldn't see what they looked
like. Of course if I could have asked them to wash their faces.

BRAITHEWAITE [looking at GEORGE]. Considering what you have done,
I don't see ----

UNA. I did ask one, but he made some vulgar remark about black
dirt and red paint. So I left him.


UNA. I spent all to-day riding up and down town in street cars.
It's very fascinating, Dad. All you can see for a nickel! I never
realized what a public benefactor you were.

BRAITHEWAITE [modestly]. Oh, I am amply repaid.

UNA [in explanation to GEORGE]. Dad's the president of your
traction company, you know. [GEORGE rises in fright.]
Oh, that's all right. I've lost you your job, but I'll get you a
better one as I promised. Don't be afraid of Dad -- in the
parlor. Sit down.

BRAITHEWAITE [to GEORGE]. You might as well make yourself
physically comfortable, you know. There's no telling how my
daughter may make us feel in other ways.

[GEORGE sits down again, regaining his composure a little.]

BRAITHEWAITE [to UNA]. And so to-day you investigated travelling
in street cars?

UNA. Yes. "Joy-riding," you know. Then I saw him -- and decided.
I knew he wouldn't dare to propose to me -- under existing

BRAITHEWAITE. So you asked him to marry you?

UNA. Certainly not. I've too much consideration for you, dear.

BRAITHEWAITE. But I thought you said ----?

UNA. I decided to bring him home to get your consent first.
[BRAITHEWAITE starts to say something.] I knew you'd approve when
you saw him. But I wanted to be sure I hadn't overlooked
anything. And if I had, I didn't want to have raised his hopes
for nothing. [To GEORGE.] Would you mind standing a moment, now,
until Dad looks you over?

[GEORGE fidgets a little in embarrassment.]

BRAITHEWAITE. My dear, do you think the gentleman ----?

UNA. " Gentleman!" Oh, yes, I forgot. I needn't have been so
clumsy. [She rises. GEORGE rises automatically. She continues to
GEORGE.] I apologize.

BRAITHEWAITE [also rising and moving his chair aside]. I fear you
have been too rude.

UNA. So do I. I've never even introduced you. Father, this is --
this is ---- [To GEORGE.] By the way -- I forgot to ask -- what
is your name?

GEORGE. Coxey, Miss.

UNA [sounding it]. Coxey. What's the first name? I can't call my
husband "Coxey," you know.

GEORGE. George, Miss.

UNA [triumphantly]. George! There's a fine virile name for you.
George Coxey! How strong that sounds! One of those names that
would go equally well in the blue book or the police blotter.

GEORGE. I never ----

UNA. Don't disclaim. I know you've never been arrested. One can
see your goodness in your face.

BRAITHEWAITE [reprovingly]. Many of the best people go to jail
now, dear.

UNA. I know. But he's not rich and thank heaven he's not a
fanatic. Isn't he good-looking? And I'm sure he's strong. See
those hands of his -- a little rough, of course, but I like that,
and so firm and, for his job, wonderfully clean. Don't hide them,
George. They  attracted me from the start.

BRAITHEWAITE. How did you come here with my daughter at all, sir?

UNA [quickly]. I got off with him at the car barn when he
finished his run and asked him.

BRAITHEWAITE. Didn't you know you would lose your job by leaving
that way?

GEORGE [with a suppressed smile]. Yes, sir.

BRAITHEWAITE. And you came at any rate?

GEORGE. You see, sir, she gave me ----

UNA [interrupting hurriedly]. A beseeching look. Just one. I
didn't use more than was necessary. [Pointedly to GEORGE.] You
see, George, I have learnt economy from father. He hates me to be

BRAITHEWAITE. That, my dear, is the chief objection I have to
this episode -- it's extravagance.

UNA. Please don't call it an "episode," father.

BRAITHEWAITE. You must admit it's -- rather unusual.

UNA. In England, lords always marry chorus girls.

BRAITHEWAITE. But he is a conductor.

GEORGE [angry]. Yes. And conductors are ----

UNA. As hard working as chorus girls -- only. Don't be snobbish,
George. Of course a conductor is more unusual, I admit. I can't
help that though ---- [To her father.] You shouldn't have called
me "Una," if you didn't want me to be unique.

BRAITHEWAITE [reminiscently]. That was most unfortunate -- most.
It was your mother's idea. She believed in symbols -- and in a
small family.

UNA. Oh! Was that why ----? Well, no matter. I've always thought
it meant individuality and I've done my best to live up to it.
[She looks at the statue.] That statue ought to be on the other
side of the room.

BRAITHEWAITE. I'll have some of the men move it to-morrow.

UNA. I'd like to see the effect now.

BRAITHEWAITE [slightly annoyed at this seeming irrelevance]. I
wish I could teach you concentration. I'm not strong enough to
move it myself, dear, and ----



UNA. Oh! If you would!

[GEORGE goes over to it and then hesitates what to do with his
cap which he has in his hand.]

UNA. I'll take that.

GEORGE [giving it to her]. Thanks. [He bends and lifts the statue
without effort, while UNA watches him admiringly, fingering his
cap. When he reaches the other side of the room he stops,
waveringly, awaiting instructions.]

UNA [talking as GEORGE waits]. Look at him. He's as fine as the
statue, isn't he? And you know what you think of that. See the
strength he has?


UNA [to GEORGE]. Thank you so much. You may put it back again.
That was all I wanted. [After GEORGE has.] I hope I didn't
overtax you.

GEORGE. Oh, it ain't very heavy.

UNA [triumphantly to her father]. You see!

BRAITHEWAITE. But he uses "ain't."

UNA [imitating the reproof of her father]. Many of the best
people use "ain't" now, dear.

BRAITHEWAITE. Not with his enunciation.

UNA. What was yours like when you were a railroad signalman?

BRAITHEWAITE. Una! The past of a public man should be private.

UNA. George has our children's future before him. All the others
I know have only their parents' past behind. You could give him a
job suitable for my husband. I'll make my husband suitable for
the job.

BRAITHEWAITE. But you don't know him, my dear.

UNA. I don't know myself for that matter. If I don't like him,
it's easy enough to go to Reno.

BRAITHEWAITE. Then you insist?

UNA. I'm tremendously eager. It's so unusual.

BRAITHEWAITE. I suppose I could sue Shaw.

UNA. Don't be silly. Sue an Englishman with German sympathies!
Where's your neutrality?

BRAITHEWAITE [sinking into a chair]. Very well.

UNA [running up to GEORGE with delight]. Then it's settled, dear.
We're going to marry.

GEORGE. Excuse me, Miss, we ain't.

BRAITHEWAITE [shocked]. "Ain't" again!

UNA [correcting]. "Aren't," dear -- I mean, we are.


UNA [backing away]. Why not?

GEORGE. Because -- I'm married already.

BRAITHEWAITE [rising]. What?

UNA. How annoying!

GEORGE. Married three years, and expecting a baby, Miss.

UNA [troubled]. Oh, please!

BRAITHEWAITE. You see what plunging means. I told you I believed
in eugenic examinations first.

UNA [walking up and down, thinking]. Sh! Be quiet, father. Don't
lose your head.

BRAITHEWAITE. Better than losing your heart.

UNA [laughing]. I have it. Of course. How stupid of me not to
think. George.

GEORGE. Yes, Miss.

BRAITHEWAITE. Wouldn't you better call him "Mr. Coxey" now?

UNA [paying no heed to her father's remark]. George, you must
divorce your wife.

GEORGE. Me? Why she's as good as gold and ----

UNA. That's unfortunate. [Thinking.] Then I'll have to run away
with you and let her get the divorce.

BRAITHEWAITE [now really shocked]. Una!

UNA [innocently]. What, Dad? Have you something better to

BRAITHEWAITE [fuming]. I can't permit it. I didn't mind the
uncommon scandal of your marrying a car conductor, but I
absolutely draw the line at common scandal.

UNA [a little bored]. Father, dear, why will you sometimes talk
to me as though I were the Public Service Commission? There's
going to be no scandal. You can keep it out of the newspapers.

GEORGE. Excuse me, but that don't make any difference. I don't
want to get a divorce.

UNA. You don't? Why?

GEORGE [embarrassed]. Sounds like a song, I know, but -- I love
my wife.

UNA [in despair]. And you're the unusual man I'm to marry.

BRAITHEWAITE [with the contempt of a professional toward an
amateur]. Stealing nickels doesn't develop the imagination.

UNA [desperately]. How can you love your wife? Some simple,
economizing, prosaic, hausfrau who ----

GEORGE [with spirit]. I don't know what you're saying, but you
better be careful not to insult my wife. She's as good as you are
and a rector's daughter.

UNA [dumbfounded]. What?

GEORGE. Yes. Daughter of one of the biggest sky-pilots in town. I
met her at a settlement house. She put the question to me, too.

UNA [angry and doubting]. She ----?

GEORGE. Sure. I've been through something like this before or I'd
never been able to stand it so well.

UNA [as before]. Your wife ----?

GEORGE. Had a good deal more pluck than you, though. Up and told
her father she would marry me if he liked it or lumped it. He
said he'd cut her. And he did. We never seen him since. But Naomi
and I don't care. That's her name; so you can see she's a
Bible-poacher's daughter. Naomi and I've been happier than any
people on earth. [Sternly.] She's taught me to stand when a lady
was standing. That's why I wouldn't obey you. She's teaching me
how to speak, too, and if I do say "ain't" and a lot of other
things I oughtn't to when I'm excited, that ai -- isn't her

UNA. Then she -- Naomi -- has done everything unusual that I
wanted to do, before I did?

GEORGE. Sure. You can't be unusual to-day. Too much brains been
in the world before.

UNA. How is it I never heard this story, if her father's so well

GEORGE. D'you think your father's the only one can keep things
out of the papers?

UNA [going over and weeping on her father's shoulder]. Oh! And I
wanted to be unique.

BRAITHEWAITE [patting her]. There, there, dear. [To GEORGE.]
You'd better go, now, Coxey.

GEORGE. And my job?

BRAITHEWAITE. I'll see you still keep it.

GEORGE. Thanks. I don't want to.


GEORGE. I want a better.

BRAITHEWAITE [putting his daughter aside]. Indeed! Pray what?

GEORGE [nonchalantly]. Superintendent or something. I leave it to
you. You know more about what jobs there are than I do.

BRAITHEWAITE [controlling his anger]. And on what basis do you
ask for a better job?

GEORGE. Naomi always said my chance would come and I could take
it, if I had nerve and my eyes open. I think now's the time.


GEORGE. Oh, this story about your daughter wouldn't look nice.

UNA. Oh!

BRAITHEWAITE. You forget the power your father-in-law and I have
in the press.

GEORGE. No, I don't. But I remember that you can't keep me from
spreading the news among your men. And I don't think ----

BRAITHEWAITE [angry and advancing on him]. I could have you
prosecuted for blackmail, sir. Have you no honor?

GEORGE. Sure. My honor says provide for your family. I've got the
makings of a big man in me, Mr. Braithewaite. You can't chain me
down with a poor man's morals.


GEORGE. I'll work in any job you give me, too. I'm not asking for
a cinch, only a chance. If she --" [pointing to UNA] -- could
teach me, Naomi can.

BRAITHEWAITE [after a pause]. Well, call around at my office in
the morning.

GEORGE. Thanks. [He goes out.]

UNA [sitting to weep]. And I thought I could be unusual.

BRAITHEWAITE [patting her]. It's easy enough for Shaw, dear. He
only writes it.

UNA [jumping up]. That's it. I'll write it. I'll write a play
showing it's useless trying to escape the usual. [Running up to
her father, GEORGE'S cap in her hands.] That will be unusual,
won't it, Dad?

[Reenter GEORGE.]

GEORGE. Excuse me. I left my cap.

UNA [stretching it out to him without looking at him]. Here it

GEORGE [taking it]. Thanks. [Approaching her.] Buck up, Miss! You
meant well.

UNA. I suppose I was too daring.

GEORGE. If you ask me, I think the trouble was you and that Shaw
fellow wasn't daring enough. Marriage is a very particular sort
of business. Now if you'd come up to me in the street and just
asked me to ---- [UNA and BRAITHEWAITE look at GEORGE.] Well -- I
-- I guess I'll go. But remember my tip next try, Miss.

[He goes out quickly, leaving UNA gradually grasping the idea and
appreciating it, while her father's shock at what GEORGE has said
is increased only by noticing his daughter's reception of the



A One-Act Play

Author of "Unquenched Fire," "The Conscience of Sarah Platt," and
Dramatization of "Alice in Wonderland," etc.

Copyright, 1913, by Alice Gerstenberg

"Overtones" was produced by the Washington Square Players under
the direction of Edward Goodman at the Bandbox Theatre, New York
City, beginning November 8, 1915, to represent an American
one-act play on a bill of four comparative comedies, "Literature"
by Arthur Schnitzler of Austria, "The Honorable Lover" by Roberto
Bracco of Italy, and "Whims" by Alfred de Musset of France. In
the cast were the following:

HETTY  .  .  .  .  .  .  .   Josephine A. Meyer
HARRIET, her overtone .  .   Agnes McCarthy
MAGGIE    .  .  .  .  .  .   Noel Haddon
MARGARET, her overtone   .   Grace Griswold
The scene was designed by Lee Simonson and the costumes and
draperies by Bertha Holley.

"Overtones" was subsequently presented in vaudeville by Martin
Beck, beginning at the Palace Theatre, Chicago, February 28,
1916, with Helena Lackaye as star, with the following cast:

HARRIET, a cultured woman    Helene Lackaye
HETTY, her primitive self  . Ursula Faucett
MARGARET, a cultured woman   Francesca Rotoli
MAGGIE, her primitive self . Nellie Dent
The scene was designed by Jerome Blum.


HARRIET, a cultured woman
HETTY, her primitive self
MARGARET, a cultured woman
MAGGIE, her primitive self

TIME: The present.
SCENE: HARRIET'S fashionable living-room. The door at the back
leads to the hall. In the centre a tea table with a chair either
side. At the back a cabinet.

HARRIET'S gown is a light, "jealous" green. Her counterpart,
HETTY, wears a gown of the same design but in a darker shade.
MARGARET wears a gown of lavender chiffon while her counterpart,
MAGGIE, wears a gown of the same design in purple, a purple scarf
veiling her face. Chiffon is used to give a sheer effect,
suggesting a possibility of primitive and cultured selves merging
into one woman. The primitive and cultured selves never come into
actual physical contact but try to sustain the impression of
mental conflict. HARRIET never sees HETTY, never talks to her but
rather thinks aloud looking into space. HETTY, however, looks at
HARRIET, talks intently and shadows her continually. The same is
true of MARGARET and MAGGIE. The voices of the cultured women are
affected and lingering, the voices of the primitive impulsive and
more or less staccato. When  the curtain rises HARRIET is seated
right of tea table, busying herself with the tea things.

HETTY. Harriet. [There is no answer.] Harriet, my other self.
[There is no answer.] My trained self.

HARRIET [listens intently]. Yes? [From behind HARRIET'S chair
HETTY rises slowly.]

HETTY. I want to talk to you.


HETTY [looking at HARRIET admiringly]. Oh, Harriet, you are
beautiful to-day.

HARRIET. Am I presentable, Hetty?

HETTY. Suits me.

HARRIET. I've tried to make the best of the good points.

HETTY. My passions are deeper than yours. I can't keep on the
mask as you do. I'm crude and real, you are my appearance in the

HARRIET. I am what you wish the world to believe you are.

HETTY. You are the part of me that has been trained.

HARRIET. I am your educated self.

HETTY. I am the rushing river; you are the ice over the current.

HARRIET. I am your subtle overtones.

HETTY. But together we are one woman, the wife of Charles

HARRIET. There I disagree with you, Hetty, I alone am his wife.

HETTY [indignantly]. Harriet, how can you say such a thing!

HARRIET. Certainly. I am the one who flatters him. I have to be
the one who talks to him. If I gave you a chance you would tell
him at once that you dislike him.

HETTY [moving away], I don't love him, that's certain.

HARRIET. You leave all the fibbing to me. He doesn't suspect that
my calm, suave manner hides your hatred. Considering the amount
of scheming it causes me it can safely be said that he is my

HETTY. Oh, if you love him ----

HARRIET. I? I haven't any feelings. It isn't my business to love

HETTY. Then why need you object to calling him my husband?

HARRIET. I resent your appropriation of a man who is managed only
through the cleverness of my artifice.

HETTY. You may be clever enough to deceive him, Harriet, but I am
still the one who suffers. I can't forget he is my husband. I
can't forget that I might have married John Caldwell.

HARRIET. How foolish of you to remember John, just because we met
his wife by chance.

HETTY. That's what I want to talk to you about. She may be here
at any moment. I want to advise you about what to say to her this

HARRIET. By all means tell me now and don't interrupt while she
is here. You have a most annoying habit of talking to me when
people are present. Sometimes it is all I can do to keep my poise
and appear not to be listening to you.

HETTY. Impress her.

HARRIET. Hetty, dear, is it not my custom to impress people?

HETTY. I hate her.

HARRIET. I can't let her see that.

HETTY. I hate her because she married John.

HARRIET. Only after you had refused him.

HETTY [turning on HARRIET]. Was it my fault that I refused him?

HARRIET. That's right, blame me.

HETTY. It was your fault. You told me he was too poor and never
would be able to do anything in painting. Look at him now, known
in Europe, just returned from eight years in Paris, famous.

HARRIET. It was too poor a gamble at the time. It was much safer
to accept Charles's money and position.

HETTY. And then John married Margaret within the year.

HARRIET. Out of spite.

HETTY. Freckled, gawky-looking thing she was, too.

HARRIET [a little sadly]. Europe improved her. She was stunning
the other morning.

HETTY. Make her jealous to-day.

HARRIET. Shall I be haughty or cordial or caustic or ----

HETTY. Above all else you must let her know that we are rich.

HARRIET. Oh, yes, I do that quite easily now.

HETTY. You must put it on a bit.

HARRIET. Never fear.

HETTY. Tell her I love my husband.

HARRIET. My husband ----

HETTY. Are you going to quarrel with me?

HARRIET [moves away]. No, I have no desire to quarrel with you.
It is quite too uncomfortable. I couldn't get away from you if I

HETTY [stamping her foot and following HARRIET]. You were a
stupid fool to make me refuse John, I'll never forgive you --
never ----

HARRIET [stopping and holding up  her hand]. Don't get me all
excited. I'll be in no condition to meet her properly this

HETTY [passionately]. I could choke you for robbing me of John.

HARRIET [retreating]. Don't muss me!

HETTY. You don't know how you have made me suffer.

HARRIET [beginning to feel the strength of HETTY'S emotion surge
through her and trying to conquer it]. It is not my business to
have heartaches.

HETTY. You're bloodless. Nothing but sham -- sham -- while I ----

HARRIET [emotionally]. Be quiet! I can't let her see that I have
been fighting with my inner self.

HETTY. And now after all my suffering you say it has cost you
more than it has cost me to be married to Charles. But it's the
pain here in my heart -- I've paid the price -- I've paid ----
Charles is not your husband!

HARRIET [trying to conquer emotion]. He is.

HETTY [follows HARRIET]. He isn't.

HARRIET [weakly]. He is.

HETTY [towering over HARRIET]. He isn't! I'll kill you!

HARRIET [overpowered, sinks into a chair]. Don't -- don't --
you're stronger than I -- you're ---- 

HETTY. Say he's mine.

HARRIET. He's ours.

HETTY [the telephone rings]. There she is now.

[HETTY hurries to 'phone but HARRIET regains her supremacy.]

HARRIET [authoritatively]. Wait! I can't let the telephone girl
down there hear my real self. It isn't proper. [At 'phone.] Show
Mrs. Caldwell up.

HETTY. I'm so excited, my heart's in my mouth.

HARRIET [at the mirror]. A nice state you've put my nerves into.

HETTY. Don't let her see you're nervous.

HARRIET. *Quick, put the veil on, or she'll see you shining
through me. [HARRIET takes a scarf of chiffon that has been lying
over the back of a chair and drapes it on HETTY, covering her
face. The chiffon is the same color of their gowns but paler in
shade so that it pales HETTY'S darker gown to match HARRIET'S
lighter one. As HETTY moves in the following scene the chiffon
falls away revealing now and then the gown of deeper dye

* (The vaudeville production did not use Harriet's line about the
veil because at the rise of the curtain Hetty is already veiled
in chiffon the same dark green shade as her gown.)

HETTY. Tell her Charles is rich and fascinating -- boast of our
friends, make her feel she needs us.

HARRIET. I'll make her ask John to paint us.

HETTY. That's just my thought -- if John paints our portrait ----

HARRIET. We can wear an exquisite gown ----

HETTY. And make him fall in love again and ----

HARRIET [schemingly]. Yes.

[MARGARET parts the portieres back centre and extends her hand.
MARGARET is followed by her counterpart MAGGIE.] Oh, MARGARET,
I'm so glad to see you!

HETTY [to MAGGIE]. That's a lie.

MARGARET [in superficial voice throughout]. It's enchanting to
see you, Harriet.

MAGGIE [in emotional voice throughout]. I'd bite you, if I dared.

HARRIET [to MARGARET]. Wasn't our meeting a stroke of luck?

MARGARET [coming down left of table]. I've thought of you so
often, HARRIET; and to come back and find you living in New York.

HARRIET [coming down right of table]. Mr. Goodrich has many
interests here.

MAGGIE [to MARGARET]. Flatter her.

MARGARET. I know, Mr. Goodrich is so successful.

HETTY [to HARRIET]. Tell her we're rich.

HARRIET [to MARGARET]. Won't you sit down?

MARGARET [takes a chair]. What a beautiful cabinet!*

*What beautiful lamps! (In vaudeville production.)

HARRIET. Do you like it? I'm afraid Charles paid an extravagant

MAGGIE [to HETTY]. I don't believe it.

MARGARET [sitting down. To HARRIET]. I am sure he must have.

HARRIET [sitting down]. How well you are looking, Margaret.

HETTY. Yes, you are not. There are circles under your eyes.

MAGGIE [to HETTY]. I haven't eaten since breakfast and I'm

MARGARET [to HARRIET]. How well you are looking, too.

MAGGIE [to HETTY]. You have hard lines about your lips, are you

HETTY [to HARRIET]. Don't let her know that I'm unhappy.

HARRIET [to MARGARET]. Why shouldn't I look well? My life is
full, happy, complete ----

MAGGIE. I wonder.

HETTY [in HARRIET'S ear]. Tell her we have an automobile.

MARGARET [to HARRIET]. My life is complete, too.

MAGGIE. My heart is torn with sorrow; my husband cannot make a
living. He will kill himself if he does not get an order for a

MARGARET [laughs]. You must come and see us in our studio. John
has been doing some excellent portraits. He cannot begin to fill
his orders.

HETTY [to HARRIET]. Tell her we have an automobile.

HARRIET [to MARGARET]. Do you take lemon in your tea?

MAGGIE. Take cream. It's more filling.

MARGARET [looking nonchalantly at tea things]. No, cream, if you
please. How cozy!

MAGGIE [glaring at tea things]. Only cakes! I could eat them all!

HARRIET [to MARGARET]. How many lumps?

MAGGIE [to MARGARET]. Sugar is nourishing.

MARGARET [to HARRIET], Three, please. I used to drink very sweet
coffee in Turkey and ever since I've ----

HETTY. I don't believe you were ever in Turkey.

MAGGIE. I wasn't, but it is none of your business.

HARRIET [pouring tea]. Have you been in Turkey, do tell me about

MAGGIE [to MARGARET]. Change the subject.

MARGARET [to HARRIET]. You must go there. You have so much taste
in dress you would enjoy seeing their costumes.

MAGGIE. Isn't she going to pass the cake?

MARGARET [to HARRIET]. John painted several portraits there.

HETTY [to HARRIET]. Why don't you stop her bragging and tell her
we have an automobile?

HARRIET [offers cake across the table to MARGARET]. Cake?

MAGGIE [stands back of MARGARET, shadowing her as HETTY shadows
HARRIET. MAGGIE reaches claws out for the cake and groans with
joy]. At last! [But her claws do not touch the cake.]

MARGARET [with a graceful, nonchalant hand places cake upon her
plate and bites at it slowly and delicately]. Thank you.

HETTY [to HARRIET]. Automobile!

MAGGIE [to MARGARET]. Follow up the costumes with the suggestion
that she would make a good model for John. It isn't too early to
begin getting what you came for.

MARGARET [ignoring MAGGIE]. What delicious cake.

HETTY [excitedly to HARRIET]. There's your chance for the auto.

HARRIET [nonchalantly to MARGARET]. Yes, it is good cake, isn't
it? There are always a great many people buying it at Harper's. I
sat in my automobile fifteen minutes this morning waiting for my
chauffeur to get it.

MAGGIE [to MARGARET]. Make her order a portrait.

MARGARET [to HARRIET]. If you stopped at Harper's you must have
noticed the new gowns at Henderson's. Aren't the shop windows
alluring these days?

HARRIET. Even my chauffeur notices them.

MAGGIE. I know you have an automobile, I heard you the first

MARGARET. I notice gowns now with an artist's eye as John does.
The one you have on, my dear, is very paintable.

HETTY. Don't let her see you're anxious to be painted.

HARRIET [nonchalantly]. Oh, it's just a little model.

MAGGIE [to MARGARET]. Don't seem anxious to get the order.

MARGARET [nonchalantly]. Perhaps it isn't the gown itself but the
way you wear it that pleases the eye. Some people can wear
anything with grace.

HETTY. Yes, I'm very graceful.

HARRIET [to MARGARET]. You flatter me, my dear.

MARGARET. On the contrary, Harriet, I have an intense admiration
for you. I remember how beautiful you were -- as a girl. In fact,
I was quite jealous when John was paying you so much attention.

HETTY. She is gloating because I lost him.

HARRIET. Those were childhood days in a country town.

MAGGIE [to MARGARET]. She's trying to make you feel that John was
only a country boy.

MARGARET. Most great men have come from the country. There is a
fair chance that John will be added to the list.

HETTY. I know it and I am bitterly jealous of you.

HARRIET. Undoubtedly he owes much of his success to you,
Margaret, your experience in economy and your ability to endure
hardship. Those first few years in Paris must have been a

MAGGIE. She is sneering at your poverty.

MARGARET. Yes, we did find life difficult at first, not the
luxurious start a girl has who marries wealth.

HETTY [to HARRIET]. Deny that you married Charles for his money.
[HARRIET deems it wise to ignore HETTY'S advice.]

MARGARET. But John and I are so congenial in our tastes, that we
were impervious to hardship or unhappiness.

HETTY [in anguish]. Do you love each other? Is it really true?

HARRIET [sweetly]. Did you have all the romance of starving for
his art?

MAGGIE [to MARGARET]. She's taunting you. Get even with her.

MARGARET. Not for long. Prince Rier soon discovered John's
genius, and introduced him royally to wealthy Parisians who gave
him many orders.

HETTY [to MAGGIE]. Are you telling the truth or are you lying?

HARRIET. If he had so many opportunities there, you must have had
great inducements to come back to the States.

MAGGIE [to HETTY]. We did, but not the kind you think.

MARGARET. John became the rage among Americans travelling in
France, too, and they simply insisted upon his coming here.

HARRIET. Whom is he going to paint here?

MAGGIE [frightened]. What names dare I make up?

MARGARET [calmly]. Just at present Miss Dorothy Ainsworth of
Oregon is posing. You may not know the name, but she is the
daughter of a wealthy miner who found gold in Alaska.

HARRIET. I dare say there are many Western people we have never
heard of.

MARGARET. You must have found social life in New York very
interesting, Harriet, after the simplicity of our home town.

HETTY [to MAGGIE]. There's no need to remind us that our
beginnings were the same.

HARRIET. Of course Charles's family made everything delightful
for me. They are so well connected.

MAGGIE [to MARGARET]. Flatter her.

MARGARET. I heard it mentioned yesterday that you had made
yourself very popular. Some one said you were very clever!

HARRIET [pleased]. Who told you that?

MAGGIE. Nobody!

MARGARET [pleasantly]. Oh, confidences should be suspected --
respected, I mean. They said, too, that you are gaining some
reputation as a critic of art.

HARRIET. I make no pretenses.

MARGARET. Are you and Mr. Goodrich interested in the same things,


HARRIET. Yes, indeed, Charles and I are inseparable.

MAGGIE. I wonder.

HARRIET. Do have another cake.

MAGGIE [in relief]. Oh, yes.
[Again her claws extend but do not touch the cake.]

MARGARET [takes cake delicately]. I really shouldn't -- after my
big luncheon. John took me to the Ritz and we are invited to the
Bedfords' for dinner -- they have such a magnificent house near
the drive -- I really shouldn't, but the cakes are so good.

MAGGIE. Starving!

HARRIET [to MARGARET]. More tea?


MARGARET. No, thank you. How wonderfully life has arranged itself
for you. Wealth, position, a happy  marriage, every opportunity
to enjoy all pleasures; beauty, art -- how happy you must be.

HETTY [in anguish]. Don't call me happy. I've never been happy
since I gave up John. All these years without him -- a future
without him -- no -- no -- I shall win him back -- away from you
-- away from you ----

HARRIET [does not see MAGGIE pointing to cream and MARGARET
stealing some]. I sometimes think it is unfair for any one to be
as happy as I am. Charles and I are just as much in love now as
when we married. To me he is just the dearest man in the world.

MAGGIE [passionately]. My John is. I love him so much I could die
for him. I'm going through hunger and want to make him great and
he loves me.  He worships me!

MARGARET [leisurely to HARRIET]. I should like to meet Mr.
Goodrich. Bring him to our studio. John has some sketches to
show. Not many, because all the portraits have been purchased by
the subjects. He gets as much as four thousand dollars now.

HETTY [to HARRIET]. Don't pay that much.

HARRIET [to MARGARET]. As much as that?

MARGARET. It is not really too much when one considers that John
is in the foremost rank of artists to-day. A picture painted by
him now will double and treble in value.

MAGGIE. It's all a lie. He is growing weak with despair.

HARRIET. Does he paint all day long?

MAGGIE. No, he draws advertisements for our bread.

MARGARET [to HARRIET]. When you and your husband come to see us,
telephone first ----

MAGGIE. Yes, so he can get the advertisements out of the way.

MARGARET. Otherwise you might arrive while he has a sitter, and
John refuses to let me disturb him then.

HETTY. Make her ask for an order.

HARRIET [to MARGARET]. Le Grange offered to paint me for a

MARGARET. Louis Le Grange's reputation isn't worth more than

HARRIET. Well, I've heard his work well mentioned.

MAGGIE. Yes, he is doing splendid work.

MARGARET. Oh, dear me, no. He is only praised by the masses. He
is accepted not at all by artists themselves.

HETTY [anxiously]. Must I really pay the full price?

HARRIET. Le Grange thought I would make a good subject.

MAGGIE [to MARGARET]. Let her fish for it.

MARGARET. Of course you would. Why don't you let Le Grange paint
you, if you trust him?

HETTY. She doesn't seem anxious to have John do it.

HARRIET. But if Le Grange isn't accepted by artists, it would be
a waste of time to pose for him, wouldn't it?

MARGARET. Yes, I think it would.

MAGGIE [passionately to HETTY across back of table]. Give us the
order. John is so despondent he can't endure much longer. Help
us! Help me! Save us!

HETTY [to HARRIET]. Don't seem too eager.

HARRIET. And yet if he charges only a thousand one might consider

MARGARET. If you really wish to be painted, why don't you give a
little more and have a portrait really worth while? John might be
induced to do you for a little below his usual price considering
that you used to be such good friends.

HETTY [in glee]. Hurrah!

HARRIET [quietly to MARGARET]. That's very nice of you to suggest
-- of course I don't know ----

MAGGIE [in fear]. For God's sake, say yes.

MARGARET [quietly to HARRIET]. Of course, I don't know whether
John would. He is very peculiar in these matters. He sets his
value on his work and thinks it beneath him to discuss price.

HETTY [to MAGGIE]. You needn't try to make us feel small.

MARGARET. Still, I might quite delicately mention to him that
inasmuch as you have many influential friends you would be very
glad to -- to ----

MAGGIE [to HETTY]. Finish what I don't want to say.

HETTY [to HARRIET]. Help her out.

HARRIET. Oh, yes, introductions will follow the exhibition of my
portrait. No doubt I ----

HETTY [to HARRIET]. Be patronizing.

HARRIET. No doubt I shall be able to introduce your husband to
his advantage.

MAGGIE [relieved]. Saved.

MARGARET. If I find John in a propitious mood I shall take
pleasure, for your sake, in telling him about your beauty. Just
as you are sitting now would be a lovely pose.

MAGGIE [to MARGARET]. We can go now.

HETTY [to HARRIET]. Don't let her think she is doing us a favor.

HARRIET. It will give me pleasure to add my name to your
husband's list of patronesses.

MAGGIE [excitedly to MARGARET]. Run home and tell John the good

MARGARET [leisurely to HARRIET]. I little guessed when I came for
a pleasant chat about old times that it would develop into
business arrangements. I had no idea, Harriet, that you had any
intention of being painted. By Le Grange, too. Well, I came just
in time to rescue you.

MAGGIE [to MARGARET]. Run home and tell John. Hurry, hurry!

HETTY [to HARRIET]. You managed the order very neatly. She
doesn't suspect that you wanted it. 

HARRIET. Now if I am not satisfied with my portrait I shall blame
you, Margaret, dear. I am relying upon your opinion of John's

MAGGIE [to MARGARET]. She doesn't suspect what you came for. Run
home and tell John!

HARRIET. You always had a brilliant mind, Margaret.

MARGARET. Ah, it is you who flatter, now.

MAGGIE [to MARGARET]. You don't have to stay so long. Hurry home!

HARRIET. Ah, one does not flatter when one tells the truth.

MARGARET [smiles]. I must be going or you will have me completely
under your spell.

HETTY [looks at clock]. Yes, do go. I have to dress for dinner.

HARRIET [to MARGARET]. Oh, don't hurry.

MAGGIE [to HETTY]. I hate you!

MARGARET [to HARRIET]. No, really I must, but I hope we shall see
each other often at the studio. I find you so stimulating.

HETTY [to MAGGIE]. I hate you!

HARRIET [to MARGARET]. It is indeed gratifying to find a kindred

MAGGIE [to HETTY]. I came for your gold.

MARGARET [to HARRIET]. How delightful it is to know you again.

HETTY [to MAGGIE]. I am going to make you and your husband

HARRIET. My kind regards to John.

MAGGIE [to HETTY]. He has forgotten all about you.

MARGARET [rises]. He will be so happy to receive them.

HETTY [to MAGGIE]. I can hardly wait to talk to him again.

HARRIET. I shall wait, then, until you send me word?

MARGARET [offering her hand]. I'll speak to John about it as soon
as I can and tell you when to come.

[HARRIET takes MARGARET'S hand affectionately. HETTY and MAGGIE
rush at each other, throw back their veils, and fling their
speeches fiercely at each other.]

HETTY. I love him -- I love him ----

MAGGIE. He's starving -- I'm starving ----

HETTY. I'm going to take him away from you ----

MAGGIE. I want your money -- and your influence.

HETTY and MAGGIE. I'm going to rob you -- rob you.

[There is a cymbal crash, the lights go out and come up again
slowly, leaving only MARGARET and HARRIET visible.]

MARGARET [quietly to HARRIET]. I've had such a delightful

HARRIET [offering her hand]. It has been a joy to see you.

MARGARET [sweetly to HARRIET]. Good-bye.

HARRIET [sweetly to MARGARET as she kisses her].
Good-bye, my  dear.


An Historical Comedy

Copyright, 1915, by Philip Moeller

"Helena's Husband" was produced by the Washington Square Players,
under the direction of Philip Moeller, at the Bandbox Theatre,
New York  City, beginning October 4, 1915.

In the cast, in the order of their appearance, were the

HELENA, Queen of Sparta   .  .   Noel Haddon
TSUMU, her slave    .  .  .  .   Helen Westley
MENELAUS, the King     .  .  .   Frank Conroy
ANALYTIKOS, his librarian .  .   Walter Frankl
PARIS, a shepherd   .  .  .  .   Harold Meltzer
The scene was designed by Paul T. Frankl and
the costumes by Robert Locker.

"Helena's Husband" was subsequently revived by the Washington
Square Players at the Comedy Theatre, New York City, beginning
June 5, 1916, with Margaret Mower playing the part of Helen. 


HELENA, the Queen
TSUMU, a black woman, slave to Helena
MENELAUS, the King
ANALYTIKOS, the King's librarian
PARIS, a shepherd

SCENE: Is that archeolological mystery, a Greek interior. A door
on the right leads to the KING'S library, one on the left to the
apartments of the QUEEN. Back right is the main entrance leading
to the palace. Next this, running the full length of the wall, is
a window with a platform, built out over the main court. Beyond
is a view of hills bright with lemon groves, and in the far
distance shimmers the sea. On the wall near the QUEEN'S room
hangs an old shield rusty with disuse. A bust of Zeus stands on a
pedestal against the right wall. There are low coffers about 
the room from which hang the ends of vivid colored robes. The
scene is bathed in intense sunlight.

TSUMU is massaging the QUEEN.

HELENA. There's no doubt about it.

TSUMU. Analytikos says there is much doubt about all things.

HELENA. Never mind what he says. I envy you your complexion.

TSUMU [falling prostrate before HELENA]. Whom the Queen envies
should beware.

HELENA [annoyed]. Get up, Tsumu. You make me nervous tumbling
about like that.

TSUMU [still on the floor]. Why does the great Queen envy Tsumu?

HELENA. Get up, you silly. [She kicks her.] I envy you because
you can run about and never worry about getting sunburnt.

TSUMU [on her knees]. The radiant beauty of the Queen is

HELENA. That's just what's worrying me, Tsumu. When beauty is so
perfect the slightest jar may mean a jolt. [She goes over and
looks at her reflection in the shield.] I can't see myself as
well as I would like to. The King's shield is tarnished. Menelaus
has been too long out of battle.

TSUMU [handing her a hand mirror]. The Gods will keep Sparta free
from strife.

HELENA. I'll have you beaten if you assume that prophetic tone
with me. There's one thing I can't stand, and that's a know-all.
[Flinging the hand mirror to the floor.]

TSUMU [in alarm]. Gods grant you haven't bent it.

HELENA. These little mirrors are useless. His shield is the only
thing in which I can see myself full-length. If he only went to
war, he'd have to have it cleaned.

TSUMU [putting the mirror on a table near the QUEEN]. The King is
a lover of peace.

HELENA. The King is a lover of comfort. Have you noticed that he
spends more time than he used to in the library?

TSUMU. He is busy with questions of State.

HELENA. You know perfectly well that when anything's the matter
with the Government it's always straightened out at the other end
of the palace. Finish my shoulder. [She examines her arm.] I
doubt if there is a finer skin than this in Sparta.

[TSUMU begins to massage the QUEEN'S shoulder.]

HELENA [taking up a mirror]. That touch of deep carmine right
here in the centre of my lips was quite an idea.

TSUMU [busily pounding the QUEEN]. An inspiration of the Gods!

HELENA. The Gods have nothing to do with it. I copied it from a
low woman I saw at the circus. I can't understand how these bad
women have such good ideas. [HELENA twists about.]

TSUMU. If your majesty doesn't sit still, I may pinch you.

HELENA [boxing her ears]. None of your tricks, you ebony fiend!

TSUMU [crouching]. Descendant of paradise, forgive me.

HELENA. If you bruise my perfect flesh, the King will kill you.
My beauty is his religion. He can sit for hours, as if at prayer,
just examining the arch of my foot. Tsumu, you may kiss my foot.

TSUMU [prostrate]. May the Gods make me worthy of your kindness!

HELENA. That's enough. Tsumu, are you married?

TSUMU [getting up]. I've been so busy having babies I never had
time to get married.

HELENA. It's a great disillusionment.

TSUMU [aghast]. What!

HELENA. I'm not complaining. Moo Moo is the best of husbands, but
sometimes being adored too much is trying. [She sighs deeply.] I
think I'll wear my heliotrope this afternoon.

[A trumpet sounds below in the courtyard. TSUMU goes to the

TSUMU. They are changing the guards at the gates of the palace.
It's almost time for your bath. [She begins scraping the massage
ointment back into the box.]

HELENA. You're as careful with that ointment as Moo Moo is with

TSUMU. Precious things need precious guarding.

HELENA. It's very short-sighted on Moo Moo's part to send
everybody to the galleys who dares lift a head when I pass by --
and all those nice-looking soldiers! Why -- the only men I ever
see besides Moo Moo are Analytikos and a lot of useless eunuchs.

TSUMU. Oh, those eunuchs!

HELENA [as she sits dreaming]. I wish, I wish ---- [She stops

TSUMU. You have but to speak your desire to the King.

HELENA [shocked]. Tsumu! How can you think of such a thing? I'm
not a bad woman.

TSUMU. He would die for you.

HELENA [relieved]. Ah! Do you think so, Tsumu?

TSUMU. All Sparta knows that His Majesty is a lover of peace, and
yet he would rush into battle to save you.

HELENA. I should love to have men fighting for me.
TSUMU [in high alarm]. May Zeus turn a deaf ear to your voice.

HELENA. Don't be impertinent, Tsumu. I've got to have some sort
of amusement.

TSUMU. You've only to wait till next week, and you can see
another of the priestesses sacrificed to Diana.

HELENA. That doesn't interest me any longer. The girls are
positively beginning to like it. No! My mind is set on war.

TSUMU [terrified]. I have five fathers of my children to lose.

HELENA. War, or -- or ----

TSUMU [hopefully]. Have I been so long your slave that I no
longer know your wish?

HELENA [very simply]. Well, I should like to have a lover.

TSUMU [springs up and rushes over in horror to draw the curtains
across the door to the library. All of a tremble]. Gods grant
they didn't hear you.

HELENA. Don't be alarmed, Tsumu. Analytikos is over eighty.
[She bursts into a loud peal of laughter and MENELAUS rushes into
the room.]

MENELAUS [in high irritation]. I wish you wouldn't make so much
noise in here. A King might at least expect quiet in his own

HELENA. Tsumu, see if my bath is ready. [TSUMU exits.]
You used not speak like that to me, Moo Moo.

MENELAUS [in a temper]. How many times must I tell you that my
name is Menelaus and that it isn't "Moo Moo?"

HELENA [sweetly]. I'll never do it again, Moo Moo. [She giggles.]

MENELAUS. Your laugh gets on my nerves. It's louder than it used
to be.

HELENA. If you wish it, I'll never, never laugh again.

MENELAUS. You've promised that too often.

HELENA [sadly]. Things are not as they used to be.

MENELAUS. Are you going to start that again?

HELENA [with a tinge of melancholy]. I suppose you'd like me to
be still and sad.

MENELAUS [bitterly]. Is it too much to hope that you might be
still and happy?

HELENA [speaking very quickly and tragically]. Don't treat me
cruelly, Moo Moo. You don't understand me. No man ever really
understands a woman. There are terrible depths to my nature.
I had a long talk with Dr. Aesculapius only last week, and he
told me I'm too introspective. It's the curse of us emotional
women. I'm really quite worried, but much you care, much you
care. [A note of tears comes into her voice.] I'm sure you don't
love me any more, Moo Moo. No! No! Don't answer me! If you did
you couldn't speak to me the way you do. I've never wronged you
in deed or in thought. No, never -- never. I've given up my hopes
and aspirations, because I knew you wanted me around you. And
now, NOW ---- [She can contain the tears no longer.] Because I
have neglected my beauty and because I am old and ugly, you
regret that Ulysses or Agamemnon didn't marry me when you all
wanted me, and I know you curse the day you ever saw me. [She is

MENELAUS [fuming]. Well! Have you done?

HELENA. No. I could say a great deal more, but I'm not a
talkative woman.

[ANALYTIKOS comes in from the library.]

ANALYTIKOS. Your Majesty, are we to read no longer to-day?

HELENA. I have something to say to the King. [ANALYTIKOS goes
toward the library. MENELAUS anxiously stops him.]

MENELAUS. No. Stay here. You are a wise man and will understand
the wisdom of the Queen.

ANALYTIKOS [bowing to HELENA]. Helena is wise as she is

MENELAUS. She is attempting to prove to me in a thousand words
that she's a silent woman.

ANALYTIKOS. Women are seldom silent. [HELENA resents this.] Their
beauty is forever speaking for them.

HELENA. The years have, indeed, taught you wisdom.
[TSUMU enters.]

TSUMU. The almond water awaits Your Majesty.

HELENA. I hope you haven't forgotten the chiropodist.

TSUMU. He has been commanded but he's always late. He's so busy.

HELENA [in a purring tone to MENELAUS]. Moo Moo.

[MENELAUS, bored, turns away.] 

HELENA [to TSUMU]. I think after all I'll wear my Sicily blue. 

[She and TSUMU go into the QUEEN'S apartment.]

ANALYTIKOS. Shall we go back to the library?

MENELAUS. My mind is unhinged again -- that woman with her
endless protestations.

ANALYTIKOS. I am sorry the poets no longer divert you.

MENELAUS. A little poetry is always too much.

ANALYTIKOS. To-morrow we will try the historians.

MENELAUS. No! Not the historians. I want the truth for a change.

ANALYTIKOS. The truth!

MENELAUS. Where in books can I find escape from the grim reality
of being hitched for life to such a wife? Bah!

ANALYTIKOS. Philosophy teaches ----

MENELAUS. Why have the Gods made woman necessary to man, and made
them fools?

ANALYTIKOS. For seventy years I have been resolving the problem
of woman and even at my age ----

MENELAUS. Give it up, old man. The answer is -- don't.

ANALYTIKOS. Such endless variety, and yet ----

MENELAUS [with the conviction of finality]. There are only two
sorts of women! Those who are failures and those who realize it.

ANALYTIKOS. Is not Penelope, the model wife of your cousin
Ulysses, an exception?

MENELAUS. Duty is the refuge of the unbeautiful. She is as
commonplace as she is ugly. [And then with deep bitterness.] Why
didn't he marry Helen when we all wanted her? He was too wise
for that. He is the only man I've ever known who seems able to
direct destiny.

ANALYTIKOS. You should not blame the Gods for a lack of will.

MENELAUS [shouting]. Will! Heaven knows I do not lack the will to
rid myself of this painted puppet, but where is the instrument
ready to my hand?

[At this moment a SHEPHERD of Apollonian beauty leaps across the
rail of the balcony and bounds into the room. MENELAUS and
ANALYTIKOS start back in amazement.]

ANALYTIKOS. Who are you?

PARIS. An adventurer.

ANALYTIKOS. Then you have reached the end of your story. In a
moment you will die.

PARIS. I have no faith in prophets.

ANALYTIKOS. The soldiers of the King will give you faith. Don't
you know that it means death for any man to enter the apartments
of the Queen?

PARIS [looking from one to the other]. Oh! So you're a couple of

[Though nearly eighty this is too much for ANALYTIKOS to bear. He
rushes to call the guards, but MENELAUS stops him.]


ANALYTIKOS. You thank me for telling you your doom?

PARIS. No -- for convincing me that I'm where I want to be. It's
taken me a long while, but I knew I'd get here. [And then very
intimately to MENELAUS.] Where's the Queen?

MENELAUS. Where do you come from?

PARIS. From the hills. I had come down into the market-place to
sell my sheep. I had my hood filled with apples. They were
golden-red like a thousand sunsets.

MENELAUS [annoyed]. You might skip those bucolic details.

PARIS. At the fair I met three ancient gypsies.

MENELAUS. What have they to do with you coming here?

PARIS. You don't seem very patient. Can't I tell my story in my
own way? They asked me for the apple I was eating and I asked
them what they'd give for it.

MENELAUS. I'm not interested in market quotations.

PARIS. You take  everything so literally. I'm sure you're easily

MENELAUS [with meaning]. I am.

PARIS [going on cheerfully]. The first was to give me all the
money she could beg, and the second was to tell me all the truth
she could learn by listening, and the third promised me a pretty
girl. So I chose ---- [He hesitates.]

ANALYTIKOS. You cannot escape by spinning out your tale.

PARIS. Death is the end of one story and the beginning of

MENELAUS. Well! Well! Come to the point. Which did you choose?

PARIS [smiling]. Well, you see I'd been in the hills for a long
while, so I picked the girl.

ANALYTIKOS. It would have been better for you if you had chosen

PARIS. I knew you'd say that.

ANALYTIKOS. I have spoken truly. In a moment you will die.

PARIS. It is because the old have forgotten life that they preach

MENELAUS. So you chose the girl? Well, go on.

PARIS. This made the other cronies angry, and when I tossed her
the apple one of the others yelped at me: "You may as well seek
the Queen of Sparta: she is the fairest of women." And as I
turned away I heard their laughter, but the words had set my
heart aflame and though it costs me my life, I'll follow the

ANALYTIKOS [scandalized]. Haven't we heard enough of this?

MENELAUS [deeply]. No! I want to hear how the story ends. It may
amuse the King. [He makes a sign to ANALYTIKOS.]

PARIS. And on the ship at night I looked long at the stars and
dreamed of possessing Helen. [ANALYTIKOS makes an involuntary
movement toward the balcony but MENELAUS stops him.] Desire has
been my guiding Mercury; the Fates are with me, and here I am!

ANALYTIKOS. The wrath of the King will show you no mercy.

PARIS [nonchalantly]. I'm not afraid of the King. He's fat, and
-- a fool.

ANALYTIKOS. Shall I call the guards?
[MENELAUS stops him.]

MENELAUS [very significantly]. So you would give your life for a
glimpse of the Queen?

PARIS [swiftly]. Yes! My immortal soul, and if the fables tell
the truth, the sight will be worth the forfeit.

MENELAUS [suddenly jumping up]. It shall be as you wish!

PARIS [buoyantly]. Venus has smiled on me.

MENELAUS. In there beyond the library you will find a room with a
bath. Wait there till I call you.

PARIS. Is this some trick to catch me?

MENELAUS. A Spartan cannot lie.

PARIS. What will happen to you if the King hears of this?

MENELAUS. I will answer for the king. Go.

[PARIS exits into the library.]

ANALYTIKOS [rubbing his hands]. Shall I order the boiling oil?

MENELAUS [surprised]. Oil?

ANALYTIKOS. Now that he is being cleaned for the sacrifice.

MENELAUS. His torture will be greater than being boiled alive.

ANALYTIKOS [eagerly]. You'll have him hurled from the walls of
the palace to a forest of waiting spears below?

MENELAUS. None is so blind as he who sees too much.

ANALYTIKOS. Your Majesty is subtle in his cruelty.

MENELAUS. Haven't the years taught you the cheapness of revenge?

ANALYTIKOS [mystified]. You do not intend to alter destiny.

MENELAUS. Never before has destiny been so clear to me.

ANALYTIKOS. Then the boy must die.

MENELAUS [with slow determination]. No! He has been sent by the
Gods to save me!

ANALYTIKOS. Your majesty! [He is trembling with apprehension.]

MENELAUS [with unbudgeable conviction]. Helena must elope with

ANALYTIKOS [falling into a seat]. Ye Gods!

MENELAUS [quickly]. I couldn't divorce the Queen. That would set
a bad example.

ANALYTIKOS. Yes, very.

MENELAUS. I couldn't desert her. That would be beneath my honor.

ANALYTIKOS [deeply]. Was there no other way?

MENELAUS [pompously]. The King can do no wrong, and besides I
hate the smell of blood. Are you a prophet as well as a scholar?
Will she go?

ANALYTIKOS. To-night I will read the stars.

MENELAUS [meaningfully]. By to-night I'll not need you to tell
me. [ANALYTIKOS sits deep in thought.] Well?

ANALYTIKOS. Ethics cite no precedent.

MENELAUS. Do you mean to say I'm not justified?

ANALYTIKOS [cogitating]. Who can establish the punctilious ratio
between necessity and desire?

MENELAUS [beginning to fume]. This is no time for language. Just
put yourself in my place.

ANALYTIKOS. Being you, how can I judge as I?

MENELAUS [losing control]. May you choke on your dialectics! Zeus
himself could have stood it no longer.

ANALYTIKOS. Have you given her soul a chance to grow?

MENELAUS. Her soul, indeed! It's shut in her rouge pot. [He has
been strutting about. Suddenly he sits down crushing a roll of
papyrus. He takes it up and in utter disgust reads.] "The perfect
hip, its development and permanence." Bah! [He flings it to the
floor.] I've done what I had to do, and Gods grant the bait may
be sweet enough to catch the Queen.

ANALYTIKOS. If you had diverted yourself with a war or two you
might have forgotten your troubles at home.

MENELAUS [frightened]. I detest dissension of any kind -- my
dream was perpetual peace in comfortable domesticity with a
womanly woman to warm my sandals.

ANALYTIKOS. Is not the Queen ----?

MENELAUS. No! No! The whole world is but her mirror. And I'm
expected to face that woman every morning at breakfast for the
rest of my life, and by Venus that's more than even a King can

ANALYTIKOS. Even a King cannot alter destiny. I warn you, whom
the Gods have joined together ----

MENELAUS [in an outburst]. Is for man to break asunder!

ANALYTIKOS [deeply shocked]. You talk like an atheist.

MENELAUS. I never allow religion to interfere with life. Go call
the victim and see that he be left alone with the Queen.
[MENELAUS exits and ANALYTIKOS goes over to the door of the
library and summons PARIS, who enters clad in a gorgeous robe.]

PARIS. I found this in there. It looks rather well, doesn't it?
Ah! So you're alone. I suppose that stupid friend of yours has
gone to tell the King. When do I see the Queen?

ANALYTIKOS. At once. [He goes to the door of the QUEEN'S
apartment and claps his hand. TSUMU enters and at the sight of
her PARIS recoils the full length of the room.]

PARIS. I thought the Queen was a blonde!

ANALYTIKOS. Tell Her Majesty a stranger awaits her here. [TSUMU
exits, her eyes wide on PARIS.] You should thank the Gods for
this moment.

PARIS [his eyes on the door]. You do it for me. I can never
remember all their names.

[HELENA enters clad in her Sicily blue, crowned with a garland of
golden flowers. She and PARIS stand riveted, looking at each
other. Their attitude might be described as fatalistic.
ANALYTIKOS watches them for a moment and then with hands and head
lifted to heaven he goes into the library.]

PARIS [quivering with emotion]. I have the most strange sensation
of having seen you before. Something I can't explain ----

HELENA [quite practically]. Please don't bother about all sorts
of fine distinctions. Under the influence of Analytikos and my
husband, life has become a mess of indecision. I'm a simple,
direct woman and I expect you to say just what you think.

PARIS. Do you? Very well, then ----  [He comes a step nearer to
her.] Fate is impelling me toward you.

HELENA. Yes. That's much better. So you're a fatalist. It's very
Greek. I don't see what our dramatists would do without it.

PARIS. In my country there are no dramatists. We are too busy
with reality.

HELENA. Your people must be uncivilized barbarians.

PARIS. My people are a genuine people. There is but one thing we

HELENA. Don't tell me it's money.

PARIS. It's ----

HELENA. Analytikos says if there weren't any money, there
wouldn't be any of those ridiculous socialists.

PARIS. It isn't money. It's sincerity.

HELENA. I, too, believe in sincerity. It's the loveliest thing in
the world.

PARIS. And the most dangerous.

HELENA. The truth is never dangerous.

PARIS. Except when told.

HELENA [making room on the couch for him to sit next to her]. You
mustn't say wicked things to me.

PARIS. Can your theories survive a test?

HELENA [beautifully]. Truth is eternal and survives all tests.

PARIS. No. Perhaps, after all, your soul is not ready for the
supremest heights.

HELENA. Do you mean to say I'm not religious? Religion teaches
the meaning of love.

PARIS. Has it taught you to love your husband?

HELENA [starting up and immediately sitting down again]. How dare
you speak to me like that?

PARIS. You see. I was right. [He goes toward the balcony.]

HELENA [stopping him]. Whatever made you think so?

PARIS. I've heard people talk of the King. You could never love a
man like that.

HELENA [beautifully]. A woman's first duty is to love her

PARIS. There is a higher right than duty.

HELENA [with conviction]. Right is right.

PARIS [with admiration]. The world has libelled you.

HELENA. Me! The Queen?

PARIS. You are as wise as you are beautiful.

HELENA [smiling coyly]. Why, you hardly know me.

PARIS. I know you! I, better than all men.


PARIS [rapturously]. Human law has given you to Menelaus, but
divine law makes you mine.

HELENA [in amazement]. What!

PARIS. I alone appreciate your beauty. I alone can reach your


PARIS. You hate your husband!

HELENA [drawing back]. Why do you look at me like that?

PARIS. To see if there's one woman in the world who dares tell
the truth.

HELENA. My husband doesn't understand me.

PARIS [with conviction]. I knew you detested him.

HELENA. He never listens to my aspirations.

PARIS. Egoist.

HELENA [assuming an irresistible pose]. I'm tired of being only
lovely. He doesn't realize the meaning of spiritual intercourse,
of soul communion.

PARIS. Fool!

HELENA. You dare call Moo Moo a fool?

PARIS. Has he not been too blind to see that your soul outshines
your beauty? [Then, very dramatically.] You're stifling!

HELENA [clearing her throat]. I -- I --------

PARIS. He has made you sit upon your wings. [HELENA, jumping up,
shifts her position.] You are groping in the darkness.

HELENA. Don't be silly. It's very light in here.

PARIS [undisturbed]. You are stumbling, and I have come to lead
you. [He steps toward her.]

HELENA. Stop right there! [PARIS stops.] No man but the King can
come within ten feet of me. It's a court tradition.

PARIS. Necessity knows no tradition. [He falls on his knees
before her.] I shall come close to you, though the flame of your
beauty consume me.

HELENA. You'd better be careful what you say to me. Remember I'm
the Queen.

PARIS. No man weighs his words who has but a moment to live.

HELENA. You said that exactly like an actor. [He leans very close
to her.] What are you doing now?

PARIS. I am looking into you. You are the clear glass in which I
read the secret of the universe.

HELENA. The secret of the universe. Ah! Perhaps you could
understand me.

PARIS. First you must understand yourself.

HELENA [instinctively taking up a mirror]. How?

PARIS. You must break with all this prose. [With an unconscious
gesture he sweeps a tray of toilet articles from the table.
HELENA emits a little shriek.]

HELENA. The ointment!

PARIS [rushing to the window and pointing to the distance]. And
climb to infinite poesie!

HELENA [catching his enthusiasm, says very blandly]. There is
nothing in the world like poetry.

PARIS [lyrically]. Have you ever heard the poignant breathing of
the stars?

HELENA. No. I don't believe in astrology.

PARIS. Have you ever smelt the powdery mists of the sun?

HELENA. I should sneeze myself to death.

PARIS. Have you ever listened to the sapphire soul of the sea?

HELENA. Has the sea a soul? But please don't stop talking. You do
it so beautifully.

PARIS. Deeds are sweeter than  words. Shall we go hand in hand to
meet eternity?

HELENA [not comprehending him]. That's very pretty. Say it again.

PARIS [passionately]. There's but a moment of life left me. I
shall stifle it in ecstasy. Helena, Helena, I adore you!

HELENA [jumping up in high surprise]. You're not making love to
me, you naughty boy?

PARIS. Helena!

HELENA. You've spoken to me so little, and already you dare to do

PARIS [impetuously]. I am a lover of life. I skip the

HELENA. Remember who I am.

PARIS. I have not forgotten. Daughter of Heaven. [Suddenly he
leaps to his feet.] Listen!

HELENA. Shhh! That's the King and Analytikos in the library.

PARIS. No! No! Don't you hear the flutter of wings?

HELENA. Wings?

PARIS [ecstatically]. Venus, mother of Love!

HELENA [alarmed]. What is it?

PARIS. She has sent her messenger. I hear the patter of little

HELENA. Those little feet are the soldiers below in the
courtyard. [A trumpet sounds.]

PARIS [the truth of the situation breaking through his emotion].
In a moment I shall be killed.

HELENA. Killed?

PARIS. Save me and save yourself!

HELENA. Myself?

PARIS. I shall rescue you and lead you on to life.

HELENA. No one has ever spoken to me like that before.

PARIS. This is the first time your ears have heard the truth.

HELENA. Was it of you I've been dreaming?

PARIS. Your dream was but your unrealized desire.

HELENA. Menelaus has never made me feel like this. [And then with
a sudden shriek.] Oh! I'm a wicked woman!

PARIS. No! No!

HELENA. For years I've been living with a man I didn't love.

PARIS. Yes! Yes!

HELENA. I'm lost!

PARIS [at a loss]. No! Yes! Yes! No!

HELENA. It was a profanation of the most holy.

PARIS. The holiest awaits you, Helena! Our love will lighten the
Plutonian realms.

HELENA. Menelaus never spoke to me like that.

PARIS. 'Tis but the first whisper of my adoration.

HELENA. I can't face him every morning at breakfast for the rest
of my life. That's even more than a Queen can bear.

PARIS. I am waiting to release you.

HELENA. I've stood it for seven years.

PARIS. I've been coming to you since the beginning of time.

HELENA. There is something urging me to go with you, something I
do not understand.

PARIS. Quick! There is but a moment left us. [He takes her
rapturously in his arms. There is a passionate embrace in the
midst of which TSUMU enters.]

TSUMU. The chiropodist has come.

HELENA. Bring me my outer garment and my purse.

[TSUMU exits, her eyes wide on PARIS.

PARIS. Helena! Helena!

[HELENA looks about her and takes up the papyrus that MENELAUS
has flung to the floor.]

HELENA. A last word to the King. [She looks at the papyrus.] No,
this won't do; I shall have to take this with me.

PARIS. What is it?

HELENA. Maskanda's discourse on the hip.

[A trumpet sounds below in the courtyard.]

PARIS [excitedly]. Leave it -- or your hip may cost me my head.
We haven't a minute to spare. Hurry! Hurry!

[HELENA takes up an eyebrow pencil and writes on the back of the
papyrus. She looks for a place to put it and seeing the shield
she smears it with some of the ointment and sticks the papyrus to

PARIS [watching her in ecstasy]. You are the fairest of all fair
women and your name will blaze as a symbol throughout eternity.
[TSUMU enters with the purse and the QUEEN'S outer robe.]

HELENA [tossing the purse to PARIS]. Here, we may need this.

PARIS [throwing it back to TSUMU]. This for your silence,
daughter of darkness. A prince has no heed of purses.

TSUMU [looking at him]. A prince!

HELENA [gloriously]. My prince of poetry. My deliverer!

PARIS [divinely]. My queen of love!

[They go out, TSUMU looking after them in speechless amazement.
Suddenly she sees the papyrus on the shield, runs over and 
reads it and then rushes to the door of the library.]

TSUMU [calling]. Analytikos. [She hides the purse in her bosom.
ANALYTIKOS enters, scroll in hand.]

ANALYTIKOS. Has the Queen summoned me?

TSUMU [mysteriously]. A terrible thing has happened.

ANALYTIKOS. What's the matter?

TSUMU. Where's the King?

ANALYTIKOS. In the library.

TSUMU. I have news more precious than the gold of Midas.

ANALYTIKOS [giving her a purse]. Well! What is it?

TSUMU [speaking very dramatically and watching the effect of her
words]. The Queen has deserted Menelaus.

ANALYTIKOS [receiving the shock philosophically]. Swift are the
ways of Nature. The Gods have smiled upon him.

TSUMU. The Gods have forsaken the King to smile upon a prince.


TSUMU. He was a prince.

ANALYTIKOS [apprehensively]. Why do you say that?

TSUMU [clutching her bosom]. I have a good reason to know.
[There is a sound of voices below in the courtyard. MENELAUS
rushes in expectantly. TSUMU falls prostrate before him.] Oh,
King, in thy bottomless agony blame not a blameless negress. The
Queen has fled!

MENELAUS [in his delight forgetting himself and flinging her a
purse]. Is it true?

TSUMU. Woe! Woe is me!

MENELAUS [storming]. Out of my sight, you eyeless Argus!

ANALYTIKOS [to TSUMU]. Quick, send a messenger. Find out who he
[TSUMU sticks the third purse in her bosom and runs out.]

MENELAUS [with radiant happiness, kneeling before the bust of
Zeus]. Ye Gods, I thank ye. Peace and a happy life at last.
[The shouts in the courtyard grow louder.]

ANALYTIKOS. The news has spread through the palace.

MENELAUS [in trepidation, springing up]. No one would dare stop
the progress of the Queen.

TSUMU [rushes in and prostrates herself before the KING]. Woe is
me! They have gone by the road to the harbor.

MENELAUS [anxiously]. Yes! Yes!

TSUMU. By the King's orders no man has dared gaze upon Her
Majesty. They all fell prostrate before her.

MENELAUS. Good! Good! [Attempting to cover his delight.] Go! Go!
You garrulous dog. [TSUMU gets up and points to shield.
ANALYTIKOS and the KING look toward it. ANALYTIKOS tears off the
papyrus and brings it to MENELAUS. TSUMU, watching them, exits.]

MENELAUS [reading]. "I am not a bad woman. I did what I had to
do." How Greek to blame fate for what one wants to do. [TSUMU
again comes tumbling in.]

TSUMU [again prostrate before the KING]. A rumor flies through
the city. He -- he ---- 

ANALYTIKOS [anxiously]. Well? Well?

TSUMU. He -- he ----

MENELAUS [furiously to ANALYTIKOS]. Rid me of this croaking

TSUMU. Evil has fallen on Sparta. He ----

ANALYTIKOS. Yes -- yes ----

MENELAUS [in a rage]. Out of my sight, perfidious Nubian.
[Sounds of confusion in the courtyard. Suddenly she springs to
her feet and yells at the top of her voice.]

TSUMU. He was Paris, Prince of Troy!

[They all start back. ANALYTIKOS stumbles into a seat. MENELAUS
turns pale. TSUMU leers like a black Nemesis.]

ANALYTIKOS [very ominously]. Who can read the secret of the

MENELAUS [frightened]. What do you mean?

ANALYTIKOS. He is the son of Priam, King of Troy.

TSUMU [adding fuel]. And of Hecuba, Queen of the Trojans. [She
rushes out to spread the news.]

ANALYTIKOS. That makes the matter international.

MENELAUS [quickly]. But we have treaties with Troy.

ANALYTIKOS. Circumstances alter treaties. They will mean nothing.

MENELAUS. Nothing?

ANALYTIKOS. No more than a scrap of papyrus. Sparta will fight to
regain her Queen.

MENELAUS. But I don't want her back.

ANALYTIKOS. Can you tell that to Sparta? Remember, the King can
do no wrong. Last night I dreamed of war.

MENELAUS. No! No! Don't say that. After the scandal I can't be
expected to fight to get her back.

ANALYTIKOS. Sparta will see with the eyes of chivalry.

MENELAUS [fuming]. But I don't believe in war.

ANALYTIKOS [still obdurate]. Have you forgotten the oath pledged
of old, with Ulysses and Agamemnon? They have sworn, if ever the
time came, to fight and defend the Queen.

MENELAUS [bitterly]. I didn't think of the triple alliance.

ANALYTIKOS. Can Sparta ask less of her King?

MENELAUS. Let's hear the other side. We can perhaps arbitrate.
Peace at any price.

ANALYTIKOS. Some bargains are too cheap.

MENELAUS [hopelessly]. But I am a pacifist.

ANALYTIKOS. You are Menelaus of Sparta, and Sparta's a nation of

MENELAUS [desperately]. I am too proud to fight!

ANALYTIKOS. Here, put on your shield. [A great clamor comes up
from the courtyard. ANALYTIKOS steps out on the balcony and is
greeted with shouts of "The King! The King!" Addressing the
crowd.] People of Sparta, this calamity has been forced upon us.

[MENELAUS winces.]
We are a peaceful people. But thanks to our unparalleled
efficiency, the military system of Sparta is the most powerful in
all Greece and we can mobilize in half an hour.

[Loud acclaims from the people. MENELAUS, the papyrus still in
hand, crawls over and attempts to stop ANALYTIKOS.]

ANALYTIKOS [not noticing him]. In the midst of connubial and
communal peace the thunderbolt has fallen on the King.[MENELAUS
tugs at ANALYTIKOS' robe.] Broken in spirit as he is, he is
already pawing the ground like a battle steed. Never will we lay
down our arms! We and Jupiter! [Cheers.] Never until the Queen is
restored to Menelaus. Never, even if it takes ten years.

[MENELAUS squirms. A loud cheer.]

Even now the King is buckling on his shield.
[More cheers. ANALYTIKOS steps farther forward and then
with bursting eloquence.] 
One hate we have and one alone! [Yells from below.]
Hate by water and hate by land,
Hate of the head and hate of the hand,
Hate of Paris and hate of Troy
That has broken the Queen for a moment's toy.
[The yells grow fiercer.]
Zeus' thunder will shatter the Trojan throne.
We have one hate and one alone!

[MENELAUS sits on the floor dejectedly looking at the papyrus. A
thunder of voices from the people.]

We have one hate and one alone. Troy! Troy!

[Helmets and swords are thrown into the air. The cheers grow
tumultuous, trumpets are blown, and the curtain falls.]

End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of Washington Square Plays
by Various


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