Part 1 out of 2
This etext was produced by Charles Franks and the Online Distributed
CHARACTERS (In order of appearance)
Gerald Isman : a poet.
Mimi: a Nibelung.
Alberich: King of the Nibelungs.
Prince Hagen: his grandson.
Hicks: a butler.
Mrs. Bagley-Willis: mistress of Society.
John Isman: a railroad magnate.
Estelle Isman : his daughter.
Plimpton: the coal baron.
Rutherford: lord of steel.
De Wiggleston Riggs: cotillon leader.
Lord Alderdyce: seeing America.
Calkins: Prince Hagen's secretary.
Nibelungs; members of Society.
SCENE I. Gerald Isman's tent in Quebec.
SCENE 2. The Hall of State in Nibelheim.
Library in the Isman home on Fifth Avenue: two years later.
Conservatory of Prince Hagen's palace on Fifth Avenue. The wind-up
of the opening ball: four months later.
Living room in the Isman camp in Quebec: three months later.
[Shows a primeval forest, with great trees, thickets in background,
and moss and ferns underfoot. A set in the foreground. To the left is
a tent, about ten feet square, with a fly. The front and sides are
rolled up, showing a rubber blanket spread, with bedding upon it; a
rough stand, with books and some canned goods, a rifle, a fishing-rod,
etc. Toward centre is a trench with the remains of a fire smoldering
in it, and a frying pan and some soiled dishes beside it. There is a
log, used as a seat, and near it are several books, a bound volume of
music lying open, and a violin case with violin. To the right is a
rocky wall, with a cleft suggesting a grotto.]
[At rise: GERALD pottering about his fire, which is burning badly,
mainly because he is giving most of his attention to a bound volume of
music which he has open. He is a young man of twenty-two, with wavy
auburn hair; wears old corduroy trousers and a grey flannel shirt,
open at the throat. He stirs the fire, then takes violin and plays the
Nibelung theme with gusto.]
GERALD. A plague on that fire! I think I'll make my supper on prunes
and crackers to-night!
MIMI. [Enters left, disguised as a pack-peddler; a little wizened up
man, with long, unkempt grey hair and beard, and a heavy bundle on his
back.] Good evening, sir!
GERALD. [Starts.] Hello!
MIMI. Good evening!
GERALD. Why . . . who are you?
MIMI. Can you tell me how I find the road, sir?
GERALD. Where do you want to go?
MIMI. To the railroad.
GERALD. Oh, I see! You got lost?
MIMI. Yes, sir.
GERALD. [Points.] You should have turned to the right down where the
MIMI. Oh. That's it!
[Puts down burden and sighs.]
GERALD. Are you expecting to get to the railroad to-night?
MIMI. Yes, sir.
GERALD. Humph! You'll find it hard going. Better rest. [Looks him
over, curiously.] What are you--a peddler?
MIMI. I sell things. Nice things, sir. You buy?
[Starts to open pack.]
GERALD. No. I don't want anything.
MIMI. [Gazing about.] You live here all alone?
GERALD. Yes . . . all alone.
MIMI. [Looking of left.] Who lives in the big house?
GERALD. That's my father's camp.
MIMI. Humph! Nobody in there?
GERALD. The family hasn't come up yet.
MIMI. Why don't you live there?
GERALD. I'm camping out--I prefer the tent.
MIMI. Humph! Who's your father?
GERALD. John Isman's his name.
MIMI. Rich man, hey?
GERALD. Why . . . yes. Fairly so.
MIMI. I see people here last year.
GERALD. Oh! You've been here before?
MIMI. Yes. I been here. I see young lady. Very beautiful!
GERALD. That's my sister, I guess.
MIMI. Your sister. What you call her?
GERALD. Her name's Estelle.
MIMI. Estelle! And what's your name?
GERALD. I'm Gerald Isman.
MIMI. Humph! [Looking about, sees violin.] You play music, hey?
MIMI. You play so very bad?
GERALD. [Laughs.] Why . . . what makes you think that?
MIMI. You come 'way off by yourself!
GERALD. Oh! I see! No . . . I like to be alone.
MIMI. I hear you playing . . . nice tune.
GERALD. Yes. You like music?
MIMI. Sometimes. You play little quick tune . . . so?
GERALD. [Plays Nibelung theme.] This?
MIMI. [Eagerly.] Yes. Where you learn that?
GERALD. That's the Nibelung music.
MIMI. Nibelung music! Where you hear it?
GERALD. Why . . . it's in an opera.
MIMI. An opera?
GERALD. It's by a composer named Wagner.
MIMI. Where he hear it?
GERALD. [Laughs.] Why . . . I guess he made it up.
MIMI. What's it about? Hey?
GERALD. It's about the Nibelungs.
GERALD. Queer little people who live down inside the earth, and spend
all their time digging for gold.
MIMI. Ha! You believe in such people?
GERALD. [Amused.] Why . . . I don't know . . .
MIMI. You ever see them?
GERALD. No . . . but the poets tell us they exist.
MIMI. The poets, hey? What they tell you about them?
GERALD. Well, they have great rocky caverns, down in the depths of the
earth. And they have treasures of gold . . . whole caves of it. And
they're very cunning smiths . . . they make all sorts of beautiful
golden vessels and trinkets.
MIMI. Trinkets, hey! [Reaches into bundle.] Like this, hey?
[Holds up a gold cup.]
GERALD. [Surprised.] Oh!
MIMI. Or this, hey?
GERALD. Why . . . where did you get such things?
MIMI. Ha, ha! You don't know what I got!
GERALD. Let me see them.
MIMI. You think the Nibelungs can beat that, hey? [Reaches into bag.]
Maybe I sell you this cap! [Takes out a little cap of woven gold
chains.] A magic cap, hey?
GERALD. [Astounded.] Why . . . what is it?
MIMI. [Puts it on his head.] You wear it . . . so. And you play
Nibelung music, and you vanish from sight . . . nobody finds you. Or I
sell you the magic ring . . . you wear that . . . [Hands it to
GERALD.] Put it on your finger . . . so. Now you play, and the
Nibelungs come . . . they dance about in the woods . . . they bring
you gold treasures . . . ha, ha, ha! [Amused at GERALD's perplexity.]
What you think they look like, hey? . . . those Nibelungs!
GERALD. Why . . . I don't know . . .
MIMI. What do your poets tell you? ha?
GERALD. Why . . . they're little men . . . with long hair and funny
clothes . . . and humpbacked.
MIMI. Look like me, hey?
GERALD. [Embarrassed.] Why . . . yes . . . in a way.
MIMI. What are their names?
GERALD. Their names?
MIMI. Yes . . . what ones do you know about?
GERALD. Well, there was Alberich, the king.
GERALD. He was the one who found the Rheingold. And then there was
Hagen, his son.
GERALD. He killed the hero, Siegfried.
MIMI. Yes, yes!
GERALD. And then there was Mimi.
MIMI. Ah! Mimi!
GERALD. He was a very famous smith.
MIMI. [Eagerly.] You know all about them! Somebody has been there!
GERALD. What do you mean?
MIMI. Would you like to see those Nibelungs?
GERALD. [Laughing.] Why . . . I wouldn't mind.
MIMI. You would like to see them dancing in the moonlight, and hear
the clatter of their trinkets and shields? You would like to meet old
King Alberich, and Mimi the smith? You would like to see that cavern
yawn open . . . [points to right] and fire and steam break forth, and
all the Nibelungs come running out? Would you like that? ha?
GERALD. Indeed I would!
MIMI. You wouldn't be afraid?
GERALD. No, I don't think so.
MIMI. But are you sure?
GERALD. Yes . . . sure!
MIMI. All right! You wear my magic ring! You wait till night comes!
Then you play! [Puts away trinkets.] I must go now.
GERALD. [Perplexed.] What do you want for your ring?
MIMI. It is not for sale. I give it.
MIMI. Money could not buy it. [Takes up pack.] I came to you because
you play that music.
GERALD. But I can't . . . it . . .
MIMI. It is yours . . . you are a poet! [Starts left.] Is this the
GERALD. Yes. But I don't like to . . .
MIMI. Keep it! You will see! Good-bye!
GERALD. But wait!
MIMI. It is late. I must go. Good-night.
GERALD. Good-night. [Stands staring.] Well, I'll be switched! If that
wasn't a queer old customer! [Looks at ring.] It feels like real gold!
[Peers after MIMI.] What in the world did he mean, anyhow? The magic
ring! I hope he doesn't get lost in those woods to-night. [Turns to
fire.] Confound that fire! It's out for good now! Let it go. [Sits,
and takes music score.] Nibelungs! They are realer than anybody
guesses. People who spend their lives in digging for gold, and know
and care about nothing else. How many of them I've met at mother's
dinner parties! Well, I must get to my work now. [Makes a few notes;
then looks up and stretches.] Ah, me! I don't know what makes me so
lazy this evening. This strange heaviness! There seems to be a spell
on me. [Gazes about.] How beautiful these woods are at sunset! If I
were a Nibelung, I'd come here for certain! [Settles himself,
reclining; shadows begin to fall; music from orchestra.] I'm good for
nothing but dreaming . . . I wish Estelle were here to sing to me! How
magical the twilight is! Estelle! Estelle!
[He lies motionless; music dies away, and there is a long silence. The
forest is dark, with gleams of moonlight. Suddenly there is a faint
note of music . . . the Nibelung theme. After a silence it is
repeated; then again. Several instruments take it up. It swells
louder. Vague forms are seen flitting here and there. Shadows move.]
GERALD. [Starting up suddenly.] What's that? [Silence; then the note
is heard again, very faint. He starts. It is heard again, and he
springs to his feet.] What's that? [Again and again. He runs to his
violin, picks it up, and stares at it. Still the notes are heard, and
he puts down the violin, and runs down stage, listening.] Why, what
can it mean? [As the music grows louder his perplexity and alarm
increase. Suddenly he sees a figure stealing through the shadows, and
he springs back, aghast.] Why, it's a Nibelung! [Another figure
passes.] Oh! I must be dreaming! [Several more appear.] Nibelungs!
Why, it's absurd! Wake up, man! You're going crazy! [Music swells
louder; figures appear, carrying gold shields, chains, etc., with
clatter.] My God!
[He stands with hands clasped to his forehead, while the uproar swells
louder and louder, and the forms become more numerous. He rushes down
stage, and the Nibelungs surround him, dancing about him in wild
career, laughing, screaming, jeering. They begin to pinch his legs
behind his back, and he leaps here and there, crying out. Gradually
they drive him toward the grotto, which opens before them, revealing a
black chasm, emitting clouds of steam. They rush in and are enveloped
in the mist. Sounds of falling and crashing are heard. The steam
spreads, gradually veiling the front of the stage.]
[Nets rise with the steam, giving the effect of a descent. During this
change the orchestra plays the music between Scenes II and III in Das
[Nibelheim: a vast rocky cavern. Right centre is a large gold throne,
and to the right of that an entrance through a great tunnel. Entrances
from the sides also. At the left is a large golden vase upon a stand,
and near it lie piles of golden utensils, shields, etc. Left centre is
a heavy iron door, opening into a vault. Throughout this scene there
is a suggestion of music, rising into full orchestra at significant
moments. The voices of the Nibelungs are accompanied by stopped
trumpets and other weird sounds.]
[At rise: The stage is dark. A faint light spreads. A company of
Nibelungs crosses from right to left, carrying trinkets and treasures.
Clatter of shields, crack of whips, music, etc. Another company of
Nibelungs runs in left.]
FIRST NIB. [Entering.] The earth-man has come!
SECOND NIB. Where is he?
FIRST NIB. He is with Mimi!
SECOND NIB. What is he like?
FIRST NIB. He is big! [With a gesture of fright.] Terrible!
THIRD NIB. Ah!
SECOND NIB. And the king? Does he know?
FIRST NIB. He has been told.
THIRD NIB. Where is the king?
FIRST NIB. He comes! He comes!
[The orchestra plays the Fasolt and Fafnir music, Rheingold, Scene II.
[Enter a company of Nibelungs, armed with whips, and marching with a
stately tread. They post themselves about the apartment. Enter another
company supporting KING ALBERICH. He is grey-haired and very feeble,
but ferocious-looking, and somewhat taller than the others. His robe
is lined with ermine, and he carries a gold Nibelung whip--a short
handle of gold, with leather thongs. He seats himself upon the throne,
and all make obeisance. A solemn pause.]
ALBERICH. The earth-man has come?
FIRST NIB. Yes, your majesty!
ALB. Where is Mimi?
ALL. Mimi! Mimi!
[The call is repeated off.]
MIMI. [Enters left.] Your majesty.
ALB. Where is the earth-man?
MIMI. He is safe, your majesty.
ALB. Did he resist?
MIMI. I have brought him, your majesty.
ALB. And Prince Hagen? Has he come?
MIMI. He is without, your majesty.
ALB. Let him be brought in.
[All cry out in terror.]
MIMI. Your majesty. He is wild! He fights with everyone! He . . .
ALB. Let him be brought in.
ALL. Prince Hagen! Prince Hagen!
MIMI. [Calling.] Prince Hagen !
[Some run out. The call is heard off All stand waiting in tense
expectation. The music plays the Hagen motives, with suggestions of
the Siegfried funeral march. Voices are heard in the distance, and at
the climax of the music PRINCE HAGEN and his keepers enter. He is
small for a man, but larger than any of the Nibelungs; a grim,
sinister figure, with black hair, and a glowering look. His hands are
chained in front of him, and eight Nibelungs march as a guard. He has
bare arms and limbs, and a rough black bearskin flung over his
shoulders. He enters right, and stands glaring from one to another.]
ALB. Good evening, Hagen.
HAGEN. [After a pause.] Well?
ALB. [Hesitating.] Hagen, you are still angry and rebellious?
HAGEN. I am!
ALB. [Pleading.] Hagen, you are my grandson. You are my sole heir . .
. the only representative of my line. You are all that I have in the
ALB. You place me in such a trying position! Have you no shame . . .
no conscience? Why, some day you will be king . . . and one cannot
keep a king in chains!
HAGEN. I do not want to be in chains!
ALB. But, Hagen, your conduct is such . . . what can I do? You have
robbed . . . you have threatened murder! And you . . . my grandson and
my heir . . .
HAGEN. Have you sent for me to preach at me again?
ALB. Hagen, this stranger . . . he has come to visit us from the world
above. These earth-men know more than we . . . they have greater
powers . . .
HAGEN. What is all that to me?
ALB. You know that you yourself are three-quarters an earth-man . . .
HAGEN. I know it. [With a passionate gesture.] But I am in chains!
ALB. There may be a way of your having another chance. Perhaps this
stranger will teach you. If you will promise to obey him, he will stay
with you . . . he will be your tutor, and show you the ways of the
HAGEN. I will not have it!
HAGEN. I will not have it, I say! Why did you not consult me?
ALB. But what is your objection . . .
HAGEN. I will not obey an earth-man! I will not obey anyone!
ALB. But he will teach you . . .
HAGEN. I do not want to be taught. I want to be let alone! Take off
ALB. [Half rising.] Hagen! I insist . . .
HAGEN. Take them off, I say! You cannot conquer me . . . you cannot
ALB. [Angrily.] Take him away!
[The Nibelungs seize hold of him to hustle him off.]
HAGEN. I will not obey him! Mark what I say . . . I will kill him.
Yes! I will kill him!
[He is dragged off protesting.]
ALB. [Sits, his head bowed with grief, until the uproar dies away;
then, looking up.] Mimi!
MIMI. Yes, your majesty.
ALB. Let the earth-man be brought.
MIMI. Yes, your majesty!
ALL. The earth-man! The earth-man!
[The call is heard as before. GERALD is brought on; the orchestra
plays a beautiful melody, violins and horns. MIMI moves left to meet
GERALD. [Enters left with attendants; hesitating, gazing about in
wonder. He sees MIMI, and stops; a pause.] The pack peddler!
MIMI. The pack peddler!
GER. And these are Nibelungs?
MIMI. You call us that.
GER. [Laughing nervously.] You . . . er . . . it's a little
disconcerting, you know. I had no idea you existed. May I ask your
MIMI. I am Mimi.
GER. Mimi! Mimi, the smith? And may I ask . . . are you real, or is
this a dream?
MIMI. Is not life a dream?
GER. Yes . . . but . . .
MIMI. It is a story. You have to pretend that it is true.
GER. I see!
MIMI. You pretend that it is true . . . and then you see what happens!
It is very interesting!
GER. Yes . . . I have no doubt. [Peers at him.] And just to help me
straighten things out . . . would you mind telling me . . . are you
old or young?
MIMI. I am young.
GER. How young?
MIMI. Nine hundred years young.
GER. Oh! And why did you come for me?
MIMI. The king commanded it.
GER. The king? And who may this king be?
MIMI. King Alberich.
GER. Alberich. [Stares at the king.] And is this he?
MIMI. It is he.
GER. And may I speak to him?
MIMI. You may.
ALB. Let the earth-man advance. Hail!
GER. Good evening, Alberich.
MIMI. [At his elbow.] Your majesty!
GER. Good evening, your majesty.
ALB. [After along gaze.] You play our music. Where did you learn it?
GER. Why . . . it's in Wagner's operas. He composed it.
ALB. Humph . . . composed it!
GER. [Aghast.] You mean he came and copied it!
ALB. Of course!
GER. Why . . . why . . . we all thought it was original!
ALB. Original! It is indeed wonderful originality! To listen in the
Rhine-depths to the song of the maidens, to dwell in the forest and
steal its murmurs, to catch the crackling of the fire and the flowing
of the water, the galloping of the wind and the death march of the
thunder . . . and then write it all down for your own! To take our
story and tell it just as it happened . . . to take the very words
from our lips, and sign your name to them! Originality!
GER. But, your majesty, one thing at least. Even his enemies granted
him that! He invented the invisible orchestra!
ALB. [Laughing.] Have you seen any orchestra here?
[Siegfried motive sounds.]
GER. I hadn't realized it! Do you mean that everything here happens to
ALB. If you only had the ears to hear, you would know that the whole
world happens to music.
GER. [Stands entranced.] Listen! Listen!
ALB. It is very monotonous, when one is digging out the gold. It keeps
up such a wheezing, and pounding.
[Stopped trumpets from orchestra.]
GER. Ah, don't speak of such things! [Gazes about; sees cup.] What is
ALB. That is the coronation cup.
GER. The coronation cup?
ALB. One of the greatest of our treasures. It is worth over four
hundred thousand dollars. It is the work of the elder Mimi, a most
GER. [Advancing.] May I look at it?
ALB. You will observe the design of the Rhine maidens.
GER. I can't see it here. It's too dark. Let me have a candle.
MIMI. A candle?
ALL. A candle!
ALB. My dear sir! Candles are so expensive! And why do you want to see
it? We never look at our art treasures.
GER. Never look at them!
ALB. No. We know what they are worth, and everyone else knows; and
what difference does it make how they look?
GER. Oh, I see!
ALB. Perhaps you would like to see our vaults of gold? [Great
excitement among the Nibelungs. The music makes a furious uproar.
ALBERICH gives a great key to MIMI, who opens the iron doors.]
MIMI. Hear the echoes. [Shouts.]
GER. It must be a vast place!
ALB. This particular cavern runs for seventeen miles under the earth.
GER. What! And you mean it is all full of gold?
ALB. From floor to roof with solid masses of it.
GER. Incredible! Is it all of the Nibelung treasure?
ALB. All? Mercy, no! This is simply my own, and I am by no means a
rich man. The extent of some of our modern fortunes would simply
exceed your belief. We live in an age of enormous productivity. [After
a pause.] Will you see more of the vault?
GER. No, I thank you. [They close it.] It must be getting late; and,
by the way, your majesty, you know that no one has told me yet why you
had me brought here.
ALB. Ah, yes, sure enough. We have business to talk about. Let us get
to it! [To MIMI.] Let the hall be cleared. [MIMI drives out the
Nibelungs and retires.] Sit on this rock here beside me.
[Confidentially.] Now we can talk things over. I trust you are willing
to listen to me.
GER. Most certainly. I am very much interested.
ALB. Thank you. You know, my dear sir, that I had a son, Hagen, who
was the slayer of the great hero, Siegfried?
GER. Yes, your majesty.
ALB. A most lamentable affair. You did not know, I presume, that
Hagen, too, had a son, by one of the daughters of earth?
GER. No. He is not mentioned in history.
ALB. That son, Prince Hagen, is now living; and, in the course of
events, he will fall heir to the throne I occupy.
GER. I see.
ALB. The boy is seven or eight hundred years old, which, in your
measure, would make him about eighteen. Now, I speak frankly. The boy
is wild and unruly. He needs guidance and occupation. And I have sent
for you because I understand that you earth-people think more and see
farther than we do.
ALB. I wish to ask you to help me . . . to use your strength of mind
and body to direct this boy.
GER. But what can I do?
ALB. I wish you to stay here and be Prince Hagen's tutor.
ALB. [Anxiously.] If you will do it, sir, you will carry hence a
treasure such as the world has never seen before. And it is a noble
work . . . a great work, sir. He is the grandson of a king! Tell me .
. . will you help me?
GER. Let me think. [A pause.] Your majesty, I have things of
importance to do, and I have no time to stay here . . .
ALB. But think of the treasures!
GER. My father is a rich man, and I have no need of treasures. And
besides, I am a poet. I have work of my own...
ALB. Oh! don't refuse me, sir!
GER. Listen! There is, perhaps, something else we can do. How would it
do to take Prince Hagen up to the world?
ALB. [Starting.] Oh!
GER. This world is a small one. There he might have a wide field for
his energies. He might be sent to a good school, and taught the ideals
of our Christian civilization.
ALB. [Pondering anxiously.] You mean that you yourself would see to it
that proper care was given to him?
GER. If I took him with me it would mean that I was interested in his
ALB. It is a startling proposition. What opportunity can you offer
GER. I am only a student myself. But my father is a man of importance
in the world.
ALB. What does he do?
GER. He is John Isman. They call him the railroad king.
ALB. You have kings in your world, also!
GER. [Smiling.] After a fashion . . . yes.
ALB. I had not thought of this. I hardly know what to reply. [He
starts.] What is that?
[An uproar is heard of left. Shouts and cries; music rises to
deafening climax. Nibelungs flee on in terror.]
HAGEN. [Rushes on, struggling wildly, and dragging several Nibelungs.]
Let me go, I say! Take off these chains!
ALB. [Rising in seat.] Hagen!
HAGEN. I will not stand it, I tell you!
ALB. Hagen! Listen to me!
ALB. I have something new to tell you. The earth-man has suggested
taking you up with him to the world.
HAGEN. [A sudden wild expression flashes across his features.] No! [He
gazes from one to the other, half beside himself.] You can't mean it!
ALB. It is true, Hagen.
HAGEN. What . . . why . . .
ALB. You would be sent to school and taught the ways of the earth-men.
Do you think that you would like to go?
HAGEN. [Wildly.] By the gods! I would!
ALB. [Nervously.] You will promise to obey . . .
HAGEN. I'll promise anything! I'll do anything!
ALB. Hagen, this is a very grave decision for me. It is such an
unusual step! You would have to submit yourself to this gentleman, who
is kind enough to take charge of you . . .
HAGEN. I Will! I will! Quick! [Holding out his chains.] Take them off!
ALB. [Doubtfully.] We can trust you?
HAGEN. You can trust me! You'll have no trouble. Take them off!
ALB. Off with them!
MIMI. [Advances and proceeds to work at chains with a file.] Yes, your
HAGEN. [TO GERALD.] Tell me! What am I to do?
GER. You are to have an education . . .
HAGEN. Yes? What's it like? Tell me more about the earth-people.
GER. It's too much to try to tell. You will be there soon.
HAGEN. Ah! Be quick there! [Tears one hand free and waves it.] By the
ALB. [To GERALD.] You had best spend the night with us and consult
with me . . .
HAGEN. No, no! No delay! What's there to consult about?
ALB. We have so much to settle . . . your clothes . . . your money . . .
HAGEN. Give me some gold . . . that will be all. Let us be off!
GER. I will attend to everything. There is no need of delay.
HAGEN. Come on! [Tears other hand free.] Aha! [Roams about the stage,
clenching his hands and gesticulating, while the music rises to a
tremendous climax.] Free! Free forever! Aha ! Aha ! [Turning to
GERALD.] Let us be off.
GER. All right. [To ALBERICH.] Good-bye, your majesty.
ALB. [Anxiously.] Good-bye.
HAGEN. Come on!
ALB. [As Nibelungs gather about, waving farewell.] Take care of
yourself! Come back to me!
HAGEN. Free! Free! Ha, ha, ha!
MIMI. [With Nibelungs.] Good-bye!
[Exit, with GERALD, amid chorus of farewells, and wild uproar of
[Scene shows the library in a Fifth Avenue mansion; spacious and
magnificent. There are folding doors right centre. There is a centre
table with a reading lamp and books, and soft leather chairs. The
walls are covered with bookcases. An entrance right to drawing-room.
Also an entrance left.]
[At rise: GERALD, in evening clothes, reading in front of fire.]
GER. [Stretching, and sighing.] Ah, me! I wish I'd stayed at the club.
Bother their dinner parties!
MRS. IS. [Enters right, a nervous, fussy little woman, in evening
costume.] Well, Gerald . . .
GER. Yes, mother?
MRS. IS. You're not coming to dinner?
GER. You don't need me, mother. You've men enough, you said.
MRS. IS. I like to see something of my son now and then.
GER. I had my lunch very late, and I'm honestly not hungry. I'd rather
sit and read.
MRS. IS. I declare, Gerald, you run this reading business into the
ground. You cut yourself off from everyone.
GER. They don't miss me, mother.
MRS. IS. To-night Renaud is going to give us some crabflake a la
Dewey! I told Mrs. Bagley-Willis I'd show her what crabflake could be.
She is simply green with envy of our chef.
GER. I fancy that's the reason you invite her, isn't it?
MRS. IS. [Laughs.] Perhaps.
[Exit right. He settles himself to read.]
HICKS. [Enters centre.] Mr. Gerald.
HICKS. There was a man here to see you some time ago, Sir.
GER. A man to see me? Why didn't you let me know?
HICKS. I started to, Sir. But he disappeared, and I can't find him,
GER. Disappeared? What do you mean?
HICKS. He came to the side entrance, Sir; and one of the maids
answered the bell. He was such a queer-looking chap that she was
frightened, and called me. And then I went to ask if you were in, and
he disappeared. I wasn't sure if he went out, Sir, or if he was still
in the house.
GER. What did he look like?
HICKS. He was a little chap . . . so high . . . with a long beard and
a humped back . . .
GER. [Startled.] Mimi!
HICKS. He said you knew him, sir.
GER. Yes! I would have seen him.
HICKS. I didn't know, sir . . .
GER. Watch out for him. He'll surely come back.
HICKS. Yes, Sir. I'm very sorry, sir.
GER. [To himself.] Mimi! What can that mean?
Mimi. [Opens door, left, and peeps in.] Ha!
GER. [Starts.] Mimi!
GER. What is it?
MIMI. Where is Prince Hagen?
GER. I don't know.
MIMI. You don't know?
MIMI. But I must see him!
GER. I've no idea where he is.
MIMI. But . . . you promised to take care of him!
GER. Yes . . . and I tried to. But he ran away . . .
GER. I've not heard of him for two years now.
MIMI. [Coming closer.] Tell me about it.
GER. I took him to a boarding school . . . a place where he'd be taken
care of and taught. And he rebelled . . . he would not obey anyone . .
. [Takes some faded telegrams from pocket book.] See! This is what I
MIMI. What are they?
GER. Telegrams they sent me. [Reads.] Hagen under physical restraint.
Whole school disorganized. Come immediately and take him away.
GER. That's one. And here's the other: Hagen has escaped, threatening
teachers with revolver. Took train for New York. What shall we do?
[Puts away papers.] And that's all.
GER. That was over two years ago. And I've not heard of him since.
MIMI. But he must be found!
GER. I have tried. I can't.
MIMI. [Vehemently.] But we cannot do without him!
GER. What's the matter?
MIMI. I cannot tell you. But we must have him! The people need him!
GER. He has lost himself in this great city. What can I do?
MIMI. He must be found. [Voices heard centre.] What is that?
GER. It is some company.
MIMI. [Darts left.] We must find Prince Hagen! He must come back to
MRS. BAGLEY-WILLIS. [Off centre.] It was crabflake a la Dewey she
[Enters with ISMAN.]
GER. How do you do, Mrs. Bagley-Willis?
MRS. B.-W. How do you do, Gerald?
GER. Hello, father!
ISMAN. Hello, Gerald!
MRS. B.-W. Am I the first to arrive?
GER. I think so.
MRS. B.-W. And how is Estelle after her slumming adventure?
GER. She's all right.
ISMAN. That was a fine place for you to take my daughter!
MRS. B.-W. It wasn't my fault. She would go. And her mother consented.
GER. I wish I'd been there with you.
MRS. B.-W. Indeed, I wished for someone. I was never more frightened
in my life.
ISMAN. Did you see this morning's Record?
MRS. B.-W. No. What?
ISMAN. About that fellow, Steve O'Hagen?
MRS. B.-W. Good heavens!
GER. Nothing about Estelle, I hope!
ISMAN. No . . . apparently nobody noticed that incident. But about his
political speech, and the uproar he's making on the Bowery. They say
the streets were blocked for an hour . . . the police couldn't clear
GER. He must be an extraordinary talker.
MRS. B.-W. You can't imagine it. The man is a perfect demon!
GER. Where does he come from?
ISMAN. Apparently nobody knows. The papers say he turned up a couple
of years ago . . . he won't talk about his past. He joined Tammany
Hall, and he's sweeping everything before him.
GER. What do you suppose will come of it?
ISMAN. Oh, he'll get elected . . . what is it he's to be . . . an
alderman? . . . and then he'll sell out, like all the rest. I was
talking about it this afternoon, with Plimpton and Rutherford.
MRS. B.-W. They're to be here to-night, I understand.
ISMAN. Yes. . . so they mentioned. Ah! Here's Estelle!
ESTELLE. [Enters, centre, with an armful of roses.] Ah! Mrs. Bagley-
Willis! Good evening!
MRS. B.-W. Good evening, Estelle.
EST. Good evening, father. Hello, Gerald.
GER. My, aren't we gorgeous to-night!
EST. Just aren't we!
MRS. B.-W. The adventure doesn't seem to have hurt you. Where is your
GER. She went into the drawing-room. [MRS. B.-W. and ISMAN go off,
right; ESTELLE is about to follow.] Estelle!
EST. What is it?
GER. What's this I hear about your adventure last night?
EST. [With sudden seriousness.] Oh, Gerald! [Comes closer.] It was a
frightful thing! I've hardly dared to think about it!
GER. Tell me.
EST. Gerald, that man was talking straight at me . . . he meant every
bit of it for me!
GER. Tell me the story.
EST. Why, you know, Lord Alderdyce had heard about this wild fellow,
Steve O'Hagen, who's made such a sensation this campaign. And he's
interested in our election and wanted to hear O'Hagen speak. He said
he had a friend who'd arrange for us to be introduced to him; and so
we went down there. And there was a most frightful crowd . . . it was
an outdoor meeting, you know. We pushed our way into a saloon, where
the mob was shouting around this O'Hagen. And then he caught sight of
us . . . and Gerald, from the moment he saw me he never took his eyes
off me! Never once!
GER. [Smiling.] Well, Estelle . . . you've been looked at before.
EST. Ah, but never like that!
GER. What sort of a man is he?
EST. He's small and dark and ugly . . . he wore a rough reefer and cap
. . . but Gerald, he's no common man! There's something strange and
terrible about him . . . there's a fire blazing in him. The detective
who was with us introduced us to him . . . and he stood there and
stared at me! I tried to say something or other . . . "I've been so
interested in your speech, Mr. O'Hagen." And he laughed at me . . .
"Yes, I've no doubt." And then suddenly . . . it was as if he leaped
at me! He pointed his finger straight into my face, and his eyes
fairly shone. "Wait for me! I'll be with you! I'm coming to the top!"
GER. Good God!
EST. Imagine it! I was simply paralyzed! "Mark what I tell you," he
went on . . . "it'll be of interest to you some day to remember it.
You may wait for me! I'm coming! You will not escape me!"
GER. Why . . . he's mad!
EST. He was like a wild beast. Everybody in the place was staring at
us as he rushed on. "You have joy and power and freedom . . . all the
privileges of life . . . all things that are excellent and beautiful.
You are born to them . . . you claim them! And you come down here to
stare at us as you might at some strange animals in a cage. You
chatter and laugh and go your way . . . but remember what I told you .
. . I shall be with you! You cannot keep ME down! I shall be master of
EST. And then in a moment it was all over. He made a mocking bow to
the party . . . "It has given me the greatest pleasure in the world to
meet you!" And with a wild laugh he went out of the door . . . and the
crowd in the street burst into a roar that was like a clap of thunder.
[A pause.] Gerald, what do you think he meant?
GER. My dear, you've been up against the class-war. It's rather the
fashion now, you know.
EST. Oh, but it was horrible! I can't get it out of my mind. We heard
some of his speech afterwards . . . and it seemed as if every word of
it was meant for me! He lashed the crowd to a perfect fury . . . I
think they'd have set fire to the city if he'd told them to. What do
you suppose he expects to do?
GER. I can't imagine, I'm sure.
EST. I should like to know more about him. He was never raised in the
slums, I feel certain.
GER. Steve O'Hagen. The name sounds Irish.
EST. I don't think he's Irish. He's dark and strange- looking . . .
GER. I shall go down there and hear him the first chance I get. And
now, I guess I'd best get out, if I want to dodge old Plimpton.
EST. Yes . . . and Rutherford, too. Isn't it a bore! I think they are
perfectly odious people.
GER. Why do you suppose mother invited them?
EST. Oh, it's a business affair . . . they have forced their way into
some deal of father's, and so we have to cultivate them.
GER. Plimpton, the coal baron! And Rutherford, the steel king! I
wonder how many hundred millions of dollars we shall have to have
before we can choose our guests for something more interesting than
their Wall Street connections!
EST. I think I hear them. [Listens.] Yes . . . the voice. [Mocking
PLIMPTON'S manner and tone.] Good evening, Miss Isman. I guess I'll
GER. And I, too!
RUTHERFORD. [A stout and rather coarse-looking man, enters, right,
with PLIMPTON.] It's certainly an outrageous state of affairs,
PLIMPTON. [A thin, clerical-looking person, with square-cut beard.]
RUTH. The public seems to be quite hysterical!
PLIMP. We have got to a state where simply to be entrusted with great
financial responsibility is enough to constitute a man a criminal; to
warrant a newspaper in prying into the intimate details of his life,
and in presenting him in hideous caricatures.
RUTH. I can sympathize with you, Plimpton . . . these government
investigations are certainly a trial. [Laughing.] I've had my turn at
them . . . I used to lie awake nights trying to remember what my
lawyers had told me to forget!
PLIMP. Ahem! Ahem! Yes . . . a rather cynical jest! I can't say
exactly . . .
MRS. IS. [In doorway, right.] Ah, Mr. Plimpton! How do you do? And Mr.
PLIMP. Good evening, Mrs. Isman.
RUTH. Good evening, Mrs. Isman.
MRS. IS. You managed to tear yourself away from business cares, after
PLIMP. It was not easy, I assure you.
MRS. IS. Won't you come in?
RUTH. With pleasure.
[Exit, right, with MRS. ISMAN, followed by PLIMPTON.]
GER. [Enters, left.] That pious old fraud! [Sits in chair.] Well, I'm
safe for a while!
[Sprawls at ease and reads.]
HICKS. [Enters, centre.] A gentleman to see you, Mr. Gerald.
GER. Hey? [Takes card, looks, then gives violent start.] Prince Hagen!
[Stands aghast, staring; whispers, half dazed.] Prince Hagen!
HICKS. [After waiting.] What shall I tell him, sir?
GER. What . . . what does he look like?
HICKS. Why . . . he seems to be a gentleman, sir.
GER. How is he dressed?
HICKS. For dinner, sir.
GER. [Hesitates, gazes about nervously.] Bring him here . . . quickly!
HICKS. Yes, sir.
GER. And shut the door afterwards.
HICKS. Yes, sir.
GER. [Stands staring.] Prince Hagen! He's come at last!
[Takes the faded telegrams from his pocket; looks at them; then goes
to door, right, and closes it.]
HICKS. [Enters, centre.] Prince Hagen.
HAGEN. [Enters; serene and smiling, immaculately clad.] Ah, Gerald!
GER. [Gazing.] Prince Hagen!
HAGEN. You are surprised to see me!
GER. I confess that I am.
HAGEN. Did you think I was never coming back?
GER. I had given you up.
HAGEN. Well, here I am . . . to report progress.
GER. [After a pause.] Where have you been these two years?
HAGEN. Oh, I've been seeing life . . .
GER. You didn't like the boarding school?
HAGEN. [With sudden vehemence.] Did you think I would like it? Did you
think I'd come to this world to have my head stuffed with Latin
conjugations and sawdust?
GER. I had hoped that in a good Christian home . . .
HAGEN. [Laughing.] No, no, Gerald! I let you talk that sort of thing
to me in the beginning. It sounded fishy even then, but I didn't say
anything . . . I wanted to get my bearings. But I hadn't been twenty-
four hours in that good Christian home before I found out what a
kettleful of jealousies and hatreds it was. The head master was an old
sap-head; and the boys! . . . I was strange and ugly, and they thought
they could torment and bully me; but I fought 'em . . . by the Lord, I
fought 'em day and night, I fought 'em all around the place! And when
I'd mastered 'em, you should have seen how they cringed and toadied!
They hated the slavery they lived under, but not one of them dared
raise his hand against it.
GER. Well, you've seen the world in your own way. Now are you ready to
go back to Nibelheim?
HAGEN. Good God, no!
GER. You know it's my duty to send you back.
HAGEN. Oh, say! My dear fellow!
GER. You know the solemn promise I made to King Alberich.
HAGEN. Yes . . . but you can't carry it out.
GER. But I can!
GER. I could invoke the law, if need be. You know you are a minor . . .
HAGEN. My dear boy, I'm over seven hundred years old!
GER. Ah, but that is a quibble. You know that in our world that is
only equal to about eighteen . . .
HAGEN. I have read up the law, but I haven't found any provision for
reducing Nibelung ages to your scale.
GER. But you can't deny . . .
HAGEN. I wouldn't need to deny. The story's absurd on the face of it.
You know perfectly well that there are no such things as Nibelungs!
[GERALD gasps.] And besides, you're a poet, and everybody knows you're
crazy. Fancy what the newspaper reporters would do with such a yarn!
[Cheerfully.] Come, old man, forget about it, and let's be friends.
You'll have a lot more fun watching my career. And besides, what do
you want? I've come back, and I'm ready to follow your advice.
GER. How do you mean?
HAGEN. You told me to stay in school until I'd got my bearings in the
world. And then I was to have a career. Well, I've got my education
for myself . . . and now I'm ready for the career. [After a pause.]
Listen, Gerald. I said I'd be a self-made man. I said I'd conquer the
world for myself. But of late I've come to realize how far it is to
the top, and I can't spare the time.
GER. I see.
HAGEN. And then . . . besides that . . . I've met a woman.
GER. [Startled.] Good heavens!
HAGEN. Yes. I'm in love.
GER. But surely . . . you don't expect to marry!
HAGEN. Why not? My mother was an earth-woman, and her mother, also.
GER. To be sure. I'd not realized it. [A pause.] Who is the woman?
HAGEN. I don't know. I only know she belongs in this world of yours.
And I've come to seek her out. I shall get her, never fear!
GER. What are your plans?
HAGEN. I've looked this Christian civilization of yours over . . . and
I'm prepared to play the game. You can take me up and put me into
Society . . . as you offered to do before. You'll find that I'll do
GER. But such a career requires money.
HAGEN. Of course. Alberich will furnish it, if you tell him it's
needed. You must call Mimi.
GER. Mimi is here now.
HAGEN. [Starting.] What!
GER. He is in the house.
HAGEN. For what?
GER. He came to look for you.
HAGEN. What is the matter?
GER. I don't know. He wants you to return to Nibelheim.
HAGEN. Find him. Let me see him!
GER. All right. Wait here.
HAGEN. What can that mean?
EST. [Enters, right, sees PRINCE HAGEN, starts wildly and screams.]
Ah! [She stands transfixed; a long pause.] Steve O'Hagen! [A pause.]
Steve O'Hagen! What does it mean?
HAGEN. Who are you?
EST. I live here.
HAGEN. Your name?
EST. Estelle Isman.
HAGEN. [In a transport of amazement.] Estelle Isman! You are Gerald's
HAGEN. By the gods!
EST. [Terrified.] You know my brother!
EST. You . . . Steve O'Hagen!
HAGEN. [Gravely.] I am Prince Hagen
EST. Prince Hagen!
HAGEN. A foreign nobleman.
EST. What . . . what do you mean? You were on the Bowery!
HAGEN. I came to this country to study its institutions. I wished to
know them for myself . . . therefore I went into politics. Don't you
EST! [Dazed.] I see!
HAGEN. Now I am on the point of giving up the game and telling the
story of my experiences.
EST. What are you doing here . . . in this house?
HAGEN. I came for you.
EST. [Stares at him.] How dare you?
HAGEN. I would dare anything for you! [They gaze at each other.] Don't
EST. [Vehemently.] No! No! I am afraid of you! You have no business to
HAGEN. [Taking a step towards her.] Listen . . .
EST. No! I will not hear you! You cannot come here!
[Stares at him, then abruptly exit, centre.]
HAGEN. [Laughs.] Humph! [Hearing voices.] Who is this?
RUTH. [Off right.] I don't agree with you.
IS. Nor I, either, Plimpton. [Enters with PLIMPTON and RUTHERFORD;
sees HAGEN.] Oh . . . I beg your pardon.
HAGEN. I am waiting for your son, Sir.
IS. I see. Won't you be seated?
HAGEN. I thank you. [Sits at ease in chair.]
PLIM. My point is, it's as Lord Alderdyce says . . . we have no
hereditary aristocracy in this country, no traditions of authority . .
. nothing to hold the mob in check.
IS. There is the constitution.
PLIM. They may over-ride it.
IS. There are the courts.
PLIM. They may defy the courts.
RUTH. Oh, Plimpton, that's absurd!
PLIM. Nothing of the kind, Rutherford! Suppose they were to elect to
office some wild and reckless demagog . . . take, for instance, that
ruffian you were telling us about . . . down there on the Bowery . . .
[HAGEN starts, and listens] and he were to defy the law and the
courts? He is preaching just that to the mob . . . striving to rouse
the elemental wild beast in them! And some day they will pour out into
this avenue . . .
RUTH. [Vehemently.] Very well, Plimpton! Let them come! Have we not
the militia and the regulars? We could sweep the avenue with one
machine gun . . .
PLIM. But suppose the troops would not fire?
RUTH. But that is impossible!
PLIM. Nothing of the kind, Rutherford! No, no . . . we must go back of
all that! It is in the hearts of the people that we must erect our
defenses. It is the spirit of this godless and skeptical age that is
undermining order. We must teach the people the truths of religion. We
must inculcate lessons of sobriety and thrift, of reverence for
constituted authority. We must set our faces against these new
preachers of license and infidelity . . . we must go back to the old-
time faith . . . to love, and charity, and self-sacrifice . . .
HAGEN. [Interrupting.] That's it! You've got it there!
IS. [Amazed.] Why . . .
HAGEN. You've said it! Set the parsons after them! Teach them heaven!
Set them to singing about harps and golden crowns, and milk and honey
flowing! Then you can shut them up in slums and starve them, and they
won't know the difference. Teach them non-resistance and self-
renunciation! You've got the phrases all pat . . . handed out from
heaven direct! Take no thought saying what ye shall eat! Lay not up
for yourselves treasures on earth! Render unto Caesar the things that
IS. Why . . . this is preposterous!
PLIM. This is blasphemy!
HAGEN. You're Plimpton . . . Plimpton, the coal baron, I take it. I
know you by your pictures. You shut up little children by tens of
thousands to toil for you in the bowels of the earth. You crush your
rivals, and form a trust, and screw up prices to freeze the poor in
winter! And you . . . [to RUTHERFORD] you're Rutherford, the steel
king, I take it. You have slaves working twelve hours a day and seven
days a week in your mills. And you mangle them in hideous accidents,
and then cheat their widows of their rights . . . and then you build
churches, and set your parsons to preach to them about love and self-
sacrifice! To teach them charity, while you crucify justice! To trick
them with visions of an imaginary paradise, while you pick their
pockets upon earth! To put arms in their hands, and send them to shoot
their brothers, in the name of the Prince of Peace!
RUTH. This is outrageous!
PLIM. [Clenching his fists.] Infamous scoundrel!
RUTH. [Advancing Upon HAGEN.] How dare you!
HAGEN. It stings, does it? Ha! Ha!
PLIM. [Sputtering.] You wretch!
IS. This has gone too far. Stop, Rutherford! Calm yourself, Plimpton.
Let us not forget ourselves! [To PRINCE HAGEN, haughtily.] I do not
know who you are, sir, or by what right you are in my house. You say
that you are a friend of my son's . . .
HAGEN. I claim that honor, sir.
IS. The fact that you claim it prevents my ordering you into the
street. But I will see my son, sir, and find out by what right you are
here to insult my guests. [Turning.] Come, Plimpton. Come, Rutherford
. . . we will bandy no words with him!
[They go off, centre.]
HAGEN. [Alone.] By God! I touched them! Ha, ha, ha! [Grimly.] He will
order me into the street! [With concentrated fury.] That is it! They
shut you out! They build a wall about themselves! Aristocracy!
[Clenching his fast.] Very well! So be it! You sit within your
fortress of privilege! You are haughty and contemptuous, flaunting
your power! But I'll breach your battlements, I'll lay them in the
dust! I'll bring you to your knees before me!
[A silence. Suddenly there is heard, very faintly, the Nibelung theme.
It is repeated; HAGEN starts.]
MIMI. [Enters, left.] Prince Hagen!
MIMI. At last!
HAGEN. [Approaching.] What is it?
MIMI. [Beckons.] Come here.
HAGEN. [In excitement.] What do you want?
MIMI. You must come back!
HAGEN. What do you mean?
MIMI. The people want you.
HAGEN. What for?
MIMI. They need you. You must be king.
HAGEN. [Wildly.] Ha?
MIMI. Alberich . . .
MIMI. He is dead!
HAGEN. [With wild start.] Dead!
MIMI. Yes . . . he died last night!
HAGEN. [Turns pale and staggers; then leaps at Mimi, clutching him by
the arm.] No! NO!
MIMI. It is true.
HAGEN. My God! [A look of wild, drunken rapture crosses his face; he
clenches his hands and raises his arms.] Ha, ha, ha!
MIMI. [Shrinks in horror.] Prince Hagen!
HAGEN. He is dead! He is dead! [Leaps at mimi.] The gold?
MIMI. The gold is yours.
HAGEN. Ha, ha, ha! It is mine! It is mine! [Begins pacing the floor
wildly.] Victory! Victory! VICTORY! Ha, ha, ha! Ha, ha, ha! [Spreads
out his arms, with a triumphant shout.] I have them! By God! Isman!
Plimpton and Rutherford! Estelle! I have them all! It is triumph! It
is glory! It is the world! I am King! I am King! King! KING! [Seizes
MIMI and starts centre; the music rises to climax.] To Nibelheim! To
Nibelheim! [Stands stretching out his arms in exultation; a wild burst
of music.] Make way for Hagen! Make way for Hagen!
[The conservatory is a study in green and gold, with strange tropical
plants having golden flowers. There are entrances right and left. In
the centre, up-stage, is a niche with a gold table and a couple of
gold chairs, and behind these a stand with the "coronation cup"; to
the right the golden throne from Nibelheim, and to the left a gold
fountain splashing gently.] [At rise: The stage is empty. The strains
of an orchestra heard from ball-room, left.]
MRS. BAGLEY-WILLIS. [Enters, right, with DE WIGGLESTON RIGGS; she
wears a very low-cut gown, a stomacher and tiara of diamonds, and
numerous ropes of pearls.] Well, Wiggie, he has made a success of it!
DE WIGGLESTON RIGGS. [Petit and exquisite.] He was certain to make a
success when Mrs. Bagley-Willis took him up!
MRS. B.-W. But he wouldn't do a single thing I told him. I never had
such a protege in my life!
DE W. R. Extraordinary!
MRS. B.-W. I told him it would be frightfully crude, and it is. And
yet, Wiggie, it's impressive, in its way . . . nobody can miss the
feeling. Such barbaric splendor!
DE W. R. The very words! Barbaric splendor!
MRS. B.-W. I never heard of anything like it . . . the man simply
poured out money. It's quite in a different class from other affairs.
DE W. R. [Holding up his hands.] Stupefying!
MRS. B.-W. And did you ever know the public to take such interest in a
social event? People haven't even stopped to think about the panic in
DE W. R. I assure you, Mrs. Bagley-Willis, it begins a new epoch in
our social history. [To LORD ALDERDYCE, who enters, left, with
GERALD.] How do you do, Lord Alderdyce?
MRS. B.-W. Good evening, Lord Alderdyce. Good evening, Gerald.
LORD A. Good evening, Mrs. Bagley-Willis. Good evening, Mr. Riggs.
GERALD. Good evening, Wiggie! [DE W. R. and MRS. B.-W. move toward
left.] I suppose that old lady's taken to herself all the credit for
this evening's success!
LORD A. Well, really, you know, wasn't it . . . ah . . . quite a feat
to make society swallow this adventurer?
GERALD. How can anybody stay away? When a man spends several millions
on a single entertainment people have to come out of pure curiosity.
LORD A. To be sure! I did, anyway!
GER. [Gazing about.] Think of buying all the old Vandergrift palaces
at one swoop!
LORD A. Oh, really!
GER. This palace was one of the landmarks of the city; all its
decorations had been taken from old palaces in Italy. And he tore
everything off and gave it away to a museum, and he made it over in
LORD A. Amazing. [Music and applause heard left.]
MRS. B.-W. Mazzanini must be going to sing again.
DE W. R. Let us go!
MRS. B.-W. Fancy opera stars to dance to! A waltz song at a thousand
dollars a minute!
DE W. R. Ah, but SUCH a song!
[They go off, left; half a dozen guests enter, right, and cross in
RUTH. [Enters, right, with PLIMPTON; looking about.] An extraordinary
PLIMP. Appalling extravagance, Rutherford! Appalling!
RUTH. Practically everybody's here.
PLIMP. Everybody I ever heard of.
RUTH. One doesn't meet you at balls very often, Plimpton.
PLIM. No. To tell the truth, I came from motives of prudence.
RUTH. Humph! To tell the truth, so did I !
PLIM. The man is mad, you know . . . and one can't tell what might
RUTH. And with the market in such a state!
PLIM. It's terrible ! Terrible! . . . ah, Lord Alderdyce!
LORD A. Good evening, Mr. Plimpton. How d'ye do, Mr. Rutherford?
RUTH. As well as could be expected, Lord Alderdyce. It's a trying time
for men of affairs. [They pass on, and go of, left.]
GER. They must be under quite a strain just now.
LORD A. Don't mention it. Don't mention it! I've invested all my funds
in this country, and I tremble to pick up the last edition of the
MRS. IS. [Enters, right, costumed en grande dame, much excited.] Oh,
Gerald, Lord Alderdyce, what do you think I've just heard?
LORD A. What?
MRS. IS. About Prince Hagen and Mrs. Bagley-Willis . . . how she came
to take him up! Percy Pennington told me about it . . . he's her own
first cousin, you know, Lord Alderdyce . . . and he vows he saw the
letter in her desk!
LORD A. Oh, tell us!
MRS. IS. Well, it was just after Prince Hagen made his appearance,
when the papers were printing pages about him. And the news came that
he'd bought these palaces; and the next day Mrs. Bagley-Willis got a
letter marked personal. Percy quoted the words . . . Dear Madam: I
wish to enter Society. I have no time to go through with the usual
formalities. I am a nobleman, with an extraordinary mind and unlimited
money. I intend to entertain New York Society as it has never dreamed
of being entertained before. I should be very pleased if you would co-
operate with me in making my opening ball a success. If you are
prepared to do this, I am prepared to pay you the sum of one million
dollars cash as soon as I receive your acceptance. Needless to say, of
course, this proposition is entirely confidential!
LORD. A. By jove!
MRS. IS. Think of it!
GER. But can it be true?
MRS. IS. What is more likely, my dear? You know that Mrs. Bagley-
Willis has been spending millions every season to entertain at
Newport; and their fortune will never stand that! Oh, I must give it
to Van Tribber . . . he'll see that the papers have it!
LORD A. But hadn't you better make sure that it's really . . .
MRS. IS. It doesn't make the slightest difference! Everybody will know
that it's true!
GER. They are ready to believe anything about Prince Hagen.
MRS. IS. Certainly, after a glimpse of this palace. Did you ever see
such frantic money-spending in your life?
LORD A. Never!
MRS. IS. Gold! Gold! I am positively blinded with the sight of gold.
I'd seen every kind of decoration and furniture, I thought . . . but
solid gold is new to me!
LORD A. Just look at this cup, for instance! [Points to coronation
cup.] And those fountains . . . I believe that even the basins are of
MRS. IS. Perhaps we could stop the water and see.
LORD A. I must go . . . I have a dance. I am sorry not to see your
MRS. IS. Yes . . . it was too bad she couldn't come. Good-bye. [LORD
MRS. IS. [Pointing to throne.] Look at that thing, Gerald!
GER. Yes . . . no wonder the crowd came!
MRS. IS. I imagine a good many came because they didn't dare stay
away. They certainly can't be enjoying themselves after such a day
GER. It was too bad the panic should come just on the eve of the ball.
MRS. IS. My dear Gerald! That's his sense of humor! He wanted to bring
them here and set them to dancing and grinning, while in their hearts
they are frightened to death.
GER. How did he do it, anyway?
MRS. IS. Why, he seems to have money without limit . . . and he's been
buying and buying . . . everything in sight! You know how prices have
been soaring the past two months. And of course the public went wild,
and took to speculating. Then Prince Hagen sold; and the bottom has
simply dropped out of everything.
GER. I see. And do you suppose the slump has hit father ?
MRS. IS. I don't know. He won't talk to me about it. But it's easy to
see how distressed he is. And then, to cap the climax, Estelle refuses
to come here! Prince Hagen is certain to be furious.
GER. For my part, I admire her courage.
MRS. IS. But, Gerald . . . we can't afford to defy this man.
GER. Estelle can afford it, I hope.
MRS. IS. Here comes your father now. Look at him! Gerald, won't you
go, please . . . I want to have a talk with him.
GER. All right. [Exit, right.]
MRS. IS. John!
ISMAN. [Enters, left, pale and depressed.] What is it?
MRS. IS. You look so haggard and worried!
IS. I AM worried!
MRS. IS. You ought to be home in bed.
IS. I couldn't sleep. What good would it do?
MRS. IS. Aren't you going to get any rest at all?
IS. It's time for reports from the London markets pretty soon. They
open at five o'clock, by our time. And I'm hoping there may be some
support for Intercontinental . . . it's my last hope
MRS. IS. Oh, dear me! Dear me!
IS. If that fails, there is nothing left for us. We are ruined!
MRS. IS. John!
IS. We shall be paupers!
MRS. IS. John Isman, that's absurd! A man who's worth a hundred
million dollars, like you . . .
IS. It'll be gone . . . all of it!
MRS. IS. Gone?
Is. Do you realize that to-day I had to sell every dollar of my
MRS. IS. [Horrified.] Good God!
IS. There has never been a day like it in all history ! There are no
words to tell about it!
MRS. IS. Oh, that monster!
IS. And the worst of it is, the man seems to be after me particularly!
Everything I rely upon seems to collapse . . . everywhere I turn I
find that I'm blocked.
MRS. IS. Oh, it must have been because of that affair in our house . .