Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Gibson Upright by Booth Tarkington

Part 2 out of 2

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

arguments, when their interests happen to clash, are angelically sweet
and amiable! Because you see that my comrades are human and have their
human differences--

GIBSON: Nora, don't be angry.

NORA: I'll try not. Of _course_ it isn't all a bed of roses! Of _course_
things don't run like oiled machinery!

GIBSON: But they do run?

NORA: It's magnificent!

GIBSON: Do you want me to come to that meeting to-morrow?

NORA: Yes; I'd like you to see how reasonable people settle their
differences when they have an absolutely equal and common interest.

GIBSON [_in a low voice_]: Aren't you ever tired?

[_For a moment she has looked weary. She instantly braces up
and answers with spirit._]

NORA: Tired of living out my ideals?

GIBSON: No; I just mean tired of working. Wouldn't you rather stop and
come here and live in this quiet house?

NORA [_incredulously_]: I?

GIBSON: Couldn't there even be a chance of it, Nora? That you'd marry

NORA [_amazed and indignant_]: A chance that I would--

GIBSON: Well, then, wouldn't you even be willing to leave it to the
meeting to-morrow?

[_Already in motion she gives him a look of terror and intense

NORA: Oh! [_She runs from the gateway._]


_The scene is the same as the first, the factory office--with a
difference. It is now littered and disorderly. Files have been
taken from the cases and left heaped upon the large table and
upon chairs. Piles of mail are on the desk and upon the table.
The safe is open, showing papers in disorder and hanging from
the compartments. Hanging upon the walls, variously, are suits
of old overalls and men's coats and, hats. The chairs stand
irregularly about the large table; a couple of old soft hats
are on the water filter. The former posters have been replaced
by two new ones. One shows a brawny workman with whiskers,
paper cap, and large sledge hammer leaning upon an upright
piano. Rubrics: "The Freedom and Fraternity Cooeperative
Upright." "The Piano You Ought to Support." The other poster
shows a workman with a banner upon which is printed: "No
Capital! The Freedom and Fraternity Cooeperative Upright The
Only Piano Produced by Toilers Not Ground by Capital. Buy One
to Help the Cause!"_

NORA _is busily engaged at_ GIBSON'S _desk. Her hat and jacket
hang on the wall._

CARTER _enters, smoking a pipe; he wears overalls and jumper.
He carries a heavy roll of typewritten sheets. Tosses this upon
the table, glances at_ NORA, _who does not notice him, divests
himself of overalls and jumper, and puts on the black frock
coat which he wore in Act II. He looks at his watch and at the
clock on the wall._

CARTER [_straightening out his coat_]: I thought it might look better to
get on my Sunday clothes for the meeting, as you might say, Miss
Gorodna. Being as I'm chairman it might look more dignified; kind o'
help give a kind of authority, maybe.

NORA [_absently, not looking up_]: Yes.

CARTER [_looking at his watch and at the clock again_]: It ought to be
wound up for meetings. [_He steps upon a chair; moves the hands of
clock._] There, doggone it, the key's lost! I believe Mrs. Simpson took
that key for their own clock. [_He goes to the table; sits, unrolls the
typewritten sheets, puts on his spectacles, and studies the sheets in a
kind of misery, roughing his hair badly and making sounds of moaning._]
Miss Gorodna, can you make this figure out here for me? Does that mean
profits--or what?

NORA: Oh, no; that's only an amount carried over.

CARTER: They's so many little puzzlin' things in this bookkeeper's
report. I don't believe he understands it himself. I don't see how he
expects me to read that to the meeting. Some parts I can't make head or
tail of. Others it looks like he's got the words jest changed round.

NORA: Oh, we'll work it all out at the meeting, Mr. Carter!

CARTER: My, we got a lot to work out at this meeting.

NORA: We'll do it, comrade!

CARTER [_cheering up_]: Sure! Sure we will! It's wonderful what a
meeting does; I'm always forgettin' all we got to do is vote and then
the trouble's over.

[_Instantly upon this a loud squabbling and women's voices are
heard outside, in the factory._]

NORA [_troubled_]: I was afraid this would happen. Of course after Mrs.
Simpson came other wives were bound to.

CARTER [_uneasily moving toward the door to the street_]: Well, I guess
I better--

[_The door into the factory is flung open by_ MRS. SIMPSON,
_in a state of fury. Another woman's voice is heard for a
moment, shouting: "Old Cat! Old She-Cat! Wants to be a

MRS. SIMPSON: See here, Carter, if you still pretend to be chairman you
come out here and keep order!

CARTER: Now, Mrs. Simpson, you better go on home!

MRS. SIMPSON [_raging_]: _Me!_ My place is right here, but I'm not going
to stand this Commiskey woman's insults! She come down here this morning
with her husband and started right in to _run_ this factory. My heavens!
Ain't she got five children at home? As long as you still pretend to be
chairman I demand you come out and tell this woman to go about her

SHREWISH VOICE: It _is_ my business!

MRS. SIMPSON: I'll show you! I was here first; everything was going all
right. Carter, are you going to come out here and do your duty like I

CARTER [_attempting sternness and failing_]: You shut that door! I got
to get this report in order before the meeting. I'm not comin'.

MRS. SIMPSON: Then I won't be responsible for what happens! She ain't
the only one. Mrs. Shomberg is out here messin' things up, too. If you
won't do your duty there'll be direct action took here! [_She goes out

CARTER: That's got to come up in meeting. It certainly has. These here
wives! For example, my wife's an awful quiet woman, but you s'pose she's
goin' to stand it when she hears about all these others? I'd like to
keep her at home.

NORA: I just wonder--

CARTER: What was you wondering, Miss Gorodna?

NORA: Well, if that's something the meeting can settle?

CARTER [_doggedly_]: Well, it's got to vote on it.

NORA: We did vote on Mrs. Simpson last meeting.

CARTER: Well, we got to vote on her and all the rest of 'em this time.

NORA: It didn't seem to settle Mrs. Simpson, did it?

CARTER: Well, it hadn't got so bad then. Now it's got to be settled! We
got to git everything fixed up now.

[_A frightful dispute is heard in numerous male voices; some
speaking Italian, some Yiddish, and some broken English. This
grows louder as_ FRANKEL _rushes in, throwing the door shut
behind him and leaning against it, wiping his forehead._]

FRANKEL: Life ain't worth livin'! Life ain't worth livin'!

CARTER: Serves you right, Frankel!

[_At the filter_ FRANKEL _pours water from the glass upon a
dirty handkerchief and passes the handkerchief over his

FRANKEL: I got to git some peace! I got to collect myself.

CARTER: That shows you ain't got no rights like you claimed. You can't
control your labour element.

FRANKEL [_bitterly_]: I'll control 'em all right! I'll show 'em who's
their master!

[_A man's head with shaggy hair and ragged whiskers is thrust
in at the factory door. This is_ POLENSKI.]

POLENSKI [_ferociously_]: Are you goin' to come out here like a man?

FRANKEL: You _bet_ I'm comin' out there, Polenski! I'll show you who's
the man here! You Hunnyacks try to browbeat me!

[_As he goes out, babbling fiercely, the howls of a Roman mob
are heard greeting him._]

CARTER: I don't feel no sympathy with him.

NORA: No; I should think not!

[_A more distant outbreak of the mob is heard, brief but
fierce, and just a moment before it ceases_ MIFFLIN _enters,
beaming. He is dressed as usual, with his umbrella and the same
old magazines and newspapers under his arm._]

MIFFLIN: Everything is lovely! How do you do, Miss Gorodna! Carter, old
fellow! It's a great morning, a great morning! Mr. Gibson drove me down
in his car. It's wonderful to feel the inspiration it's going to be for
an ex-capitalist to see this place and its harmony. My phrase for it is
"harmonized industry." It will mark an epoch for him.

[GIBSON _comes in._ MIFFLIN _greets him._]

MIFFLIN: Ah, Mr. Gibson! You'll see a difference! You'll see a

GIBSON: Yes, I do. Good morning, Miss Gorodna!

NORA [_just barely looking round_]: Good morning, Mr. Gibson.

MIFFLIN: I was just saying what an inspiration it's going to be for you
to see what we're doing down here. [_Pats_ CARTER'S _shoulder._] These
noble fellows are teaching us intellectuals a lesson. I keep going among
them; what they're doing here keeps flowing into me. You'll get it, Mr.
Gibson. You'll get it, too!

[_Beamingly he goes out into the factory._]

CARTER [_cordially_]: Take a chair, Mr. Gibson. Make yourself right at

GIBSON: Thanks!

[_He makes a grave tour of inspection of the place, his
expression noncommittal; goes about casually without making a
point of it; he writes his initials in the dust on a filing
case. He turns and looks at_ NORA _thoughtfully; she has not
seemed to notice him._]

Do you think I will, Miss Gorodna?

NORA [_not looking up_]: Do I think you will what?

GIBSON: That I'll get what Mifflin meant? That it will be an inspiration
to me to see this meeting?

NORA: I don't know what will be an inspiration to you.

GIBSON: I know one thing that is--a brave woman!

[_The only sign she gives is that her head bends over her work
just a little more._]

Carter, do you think this meeting is going to be an inspiration to me?

CARTER: Well, Mr. Gibson, since the time you give up our rights to us,
as Mr. Mifflin says, we're an inspiration to the whole world. All the
time! Yes, sir; and we _would_ be, too, if we could jest git these
dog-goned inequalities straightened out. We got this Frankel trouble on
our hands, and them wives, and one thing and another, though they ain't
botherin' me so much as my own rights. But they're goin' to git brought
up in the meeting. You'll see!

GIBSON: Is the safe usually kept open?

CARTER [_heartily_]: Why, yes, sir; open to each and all alike.

GIBSON: Oh, yes, of course! Seems to be some business mail left over

CARTER: Oh, yes. But you'll find every one of 'em's been opened; we
never miss opening a letter. You see they's checks in some of 'em.

GIBSON: I see. Then everything is running right along, is it, Carter?

CARTER: Oh, sure! Right along, right along!

[_The uproar breaks out again._ FRANKEL _bursts in, wiping his
forehead as before. He hurries to the water filter for more

FRANKEL: By golly! The bloodsuckers! They want my life! They don't get
it! Hello, Mr. Gibson! Well, I am pleased to see you! Say, Mr. Gibson,
lemme say something to you. Look here a minute. [_He draws_ GIBSON

GIBSON: What is it, Frankel?

FRANKEL [_hastily, in a low voice_]: Mr. Gibson, keep it under your hat,
but I got a pretty good interest in this factory right now. What date
I'm goin' to own it I won't say. But what I want to put up to you: How
much would you ask me to manage it for me?


FRANKEL: I wouldn't be no piker; when it comes to your salary you could
pretty near set it yourself.

GIBSON: I'm afraid I've already had an offer that would keep me from
accepting, Frankel.

FRANKEL: When the time comes I'll git a manager somewhere; no place like
this can't run itself; I seen that much.

GIBSON: Even if I didn't have an offer, Frankel, I doubt if I'd accept
yours. You know I used to have some little trouble here.

FRANKEL: You got my sympathy now! I got troubles myself here. [_Hastily
drinks another glass of water._] Well, where's that meeting? They're
late, ain't they?

CARTER: If they are it's your fault. Them wops of yours won't hardly let
a body git by out yonder.

[SALVATORE _and_ SHOMBERG _come in from the factory_, SALVATORE
_pausing in the doorway to shout in the direction of an audible
disturbance in the distance._]

SALVATORE: Oh, shut up; you'll git your pay!

[_Following_ SALVATORE _come_ SIMPSON _and his wife and_ RILEY. _They
all speak rather casually but not uncordially to_ GIBSON. MIFFLIN _is
with them, his hand on_ SIMPSON'S _shoulder. The outbreak outside
subsides in favour of a speech of extreme violence in a foreign
language. Italian, Yiddish, or whatever it is, it seems most passionate,
and by a good orator. It continues to be heard as the members of the
committee take their seats at the big table._ MIFFLIN _beams and nods
at_ GIBSON; _and takes his seat with the committee._]

SHOMBERG [_hotly, to_ MRS. SIMPSON]: Here, you ain't a member of this
committee! Git her chair away from her there, Salvatore! She's got no
right here!

MRS. SIMPSON: Oh, I haven't?

SHOMBERG: Already twice this morning I got hell from my own wife the way
this woman treats her tryin' to chase her out the factory. You think
you're on this committee?

MRS. SIMPSON [_taking a chair triumphantly_]: My husband is. I was here
last time, and I'm goin' to keep on.

CARTER [_referring to the speech in the factory_]: My goodness! We can't
do no work.

RILEY: Frankel, that's your business to shut 'em up.

FRANKEL: Talkin' ain't doin' no harm. Let 'em talk.

RILEY: Yes, I will! [_Goes to the door, and roars_]: Cut that out! I
mean business! [_Shuts the door and returns angrily to his seat._]

CARTER [_rapping on the table with a ruler_]: The meeting will now come
to order! Minutes of the last meeting will now be read by the secretary.

MIFFLIN [_to_ GIBSON, _beaming_]: You see?

NORA [_rising, minute book in hand_]: The meeting was called to order by
Chairman Carter, Monday, the--


FRANKEL: I object!

SIMPSON: What's the use readin' all that? It's only about what we done
at the last meeting.

SALVATORE: We know that ourselves, don't we?

SHOMBERG: What'd be the use? What'd be the use?

RILEY: All we done was divide up the money.

SALVATORE: Cut it out, cut it out! Let's get to that!

CARTER: All right, then. I move--

MRS. SIMPSON [_shrilly_]: You can't move. The chairman can't move. If
you want to move you better resign!

CARTER: Well, then, somebody ought to move--

MRS. SIMPSON: Cut out the moving. She don't _haf_ to read 'em, does she?

CARTER: All right, then. Don't read 'em, Miss Gorodna.

SALVATORE: Well, git some kind of a move on.

CARTER: I was thinkin'--

NORA [_prompting_]: The next order--


NORA: The next order of business--

CARTER: Oh, yes! The next order of business--

NORA: Is reports of committees.

CARTER [_in a loud, confident voice_]: The next order of business is
reports of committees. [_Takes up some papers and goes on promptly._]
The first committee I will report on is my committee. I will state it is
very difficult reading, because consisting of figures written by the
bookkeeper, and pretty hard to make head or tail of, but--

MRS. SIMPSON: Oh, here, say! We got important things to come up here!
'Fore we know how much we're goin' to divide amongst us we got to settle
at once for all and for the last time how it's goin' to be divided and
how much each family gets.

SALVATORE: _Family?_

CARTER AND SHOMBERG [_together_]: Yes--family!

RILEY: You bet--family!

CARTER: Yes, sir!

SIMPSON: You _bet_ we'll settle how it's goin' to be divided!

SALVATORE: Why, even, of course; just like it has been. Ain't that the
principle we struggled for all these years, comrades?

MRS. SIMPSON: Well, it's not goin' to be divided even no longer.

SALVATORE [_violently_]: Yes, it is!

SIMPSON AND CARTER [_hotly_]: It is not!

SALVATORE: You bet your life it is!

SHOMBERG: I'd sooner wring your neck, you sporty Dago!

SALVATORE: Now look here, comrade--

SHOMBERG: Comrade! Who you callin' comrade? Don't you comrade me!

MRS. SIMPSON: You dirty little Dago! You got no wife to support! Livin'
a bachelor life of the worst kind, you think you'll draw down as much as
my man does?

SALVATORE [_fiercely_]: Simpson, I don't want to hit no lady, but if--

SIMPSON [_roaring_]: Just you try it!

MIFFLIN [_rising in his place, still beaming, and tapping on the table
with his fountain pen_]: Gentlemen, gentlemen! This is all healthy! It's
a wholesome sign, and I like to see these little arguments. It shows you
are thinking. But, of course, it has always been understood that in any
such system of ideal brotherhood as we have here we, of course, cling
to the equal distribution of all our labours. We--

SALVATORE [_fiercely_]: We? How do you git in this? Where do you git
this we stuff?

FRANKEL: Yes; what you mean--we?

SALVATORE: _You_ ain't goin' to edge in here. Your kind's done that
other places. Some soft-handed guy that never done a day's work in his
life but write and make speeches, works in and gits workingmen to elect
him at the top and then runs 'em just the same as any capitalist.

MIFFLIN [_mildly protesting_]: Oh, but you mustn't--

SALVATORE [_sullenly_]: That's all right; I read the news from Russia!

MIFFLIN [_firmly beaming_]: But I was upholding your contention for an
equal distribution.

SALVATORE [_much surprised and mollified_]: Oh, that's all right then; I
didn't git you!

MIFFLIN: Right comrade! I'm always for the under dog.

SHOMBERG: Call _him_ an under dog! He's a loafer and don't know a trade!

RILEY: He was gettin' three and a half a day, and now he draws what I

MRS. SIMPSON [_attacking_ RILEY _fiercely_]: Yes, and you're gettin' as
much as my husband is, and your wife left you seven years ago and you
livin' on the fat of the land; Steinwitz's pool parlour every night till
all hours!

SHOMBERG [_attacking her_]: Yes, and you and your husband ain't got no
children; we got four. I'd like to know what right you got to draw down
what we do--you with your limousine!

CARTER: What business you got to talk, Shomberg? When here's me with my
seven and the three of my married daughter--eleven in all, I got on my
shoulders. Do you think you're goin' to draw down what _I'd_ ought to?

ALL [_shouting_]: "Here! We got rights, ain't we?" "Where's the justice
of it?" "I stand by my rights." "Nobody's goin' to git 'em away from
me." "I bet I git _my_ share." "Oh, dry up!" "You make me laugh!" And so

RILEY [_standing up and pounding the table, roaring till they are forced
to listen_]: You ain't any of you got the rights of it! The rights of it
is--Who does the most work gets the most money. Look at me on that

CARTER [_pounding on the table with a ruler_]: You set down, Riley! The
rights of it ain't who does the most work; but I'm willin' to leave it
to who does the _hardest_ work.

SIMPSON: No, sir! It's who does the _best_ work.

CARTER: There ain't only three men in my department out there that ain't
soldiering on their job. I do twice as much skilled work as any man at
this table, and I do it better. [_Shouts of "Yes, you do!" "Rats!" "Shut
up!"_] I'll leave it to Mr. Gibson; he knows good work if he don't know
nothing else.

[_Shouts of "Leave it to nothing!" "How'd he get in this?"
"You're crazy!"_]

CARTER [_bawling_]: Get back to business! We're running a meeting here!

FRANKEL: For goodness' sake, we ain't getting nowhere!

SALVATORE: No, and you ain't never goin' to git nowhere long as you try
to work big business and privilege on me! We got to keep it like Mr.
Mifflin says; it's a sacred brotherhood, everything divided equal. Let's
get to business and count that money.

FRANKEL: Well, for goodness' sake, let's get some system into this

RILEY: How you goin' to get any system into it before you settle what's
going to be done about Frankel's twenty-four shares?

CARTER: Twenty-four? He's got twenty-six; he got two more yesterday!

MRS. SIMPSON: He's got thirty-five; he got nine more this morning!

FRANKEL [_hotly_]: You bet I got thirty-five!

ALL: What! Thirty-five shares!

FRANKEL: Well, ain't I got thirty-five men workin' out there?

SIMPSON: How in thunder we goin' to settle about him holdin' all them

SALVATORE: Are we goin' to let him take all that money? Thirty-five--

FRANKEL [_leaping up, electrified_]: How d'you expect I'm goin' to pay
my men if I don't get it? Are you goin' to _let_ me take them
thirty-five shares' profits? No, I guess you ain't! You ain't got no say
about it! The money's mine right now! I get it!

SIMPSON: I object!

RILEY [_pounding the table_]: Look at the ornery little devil! He took
advantage of the poor workingmen's trustfulness, got 'em in debt to him,
then went and begun buying over their shares, so they had to leave the
shop because he wouldn't hire 'em to do their own work, but went and
hired cheaper men. Listen to the trouble _they_ make among us!

SIMPSON: It's an undesirable element.

RILEY: He had no right to buy them workmen out in the first place.

SIMPSON: And on top of that we can't git no work turned out because the
fourteen skilled men he's got in there have gone and started striking
just like the unskilled and they tie up everything.

RILEY: I claim he hadn't no right to buy them shares.

FRANKEL: I didn't?

ALL [_except_ SHOMBERG]: No, you didn't!

FRANKEL [_hotly at_ RILEY]: You look here. S'pose you needed money bad?
Ain't you got a right to sell your share?

RILEY: Sure I have!

FRANKEL: What you talkin' about, then? Ain't I got a right to buy
anything you got a right to sell?

RILEY: No, you ain't, because I object to the whole system.

FRANKEL: You do! [_Points to_ SHOMBERG.] Look there! Ask him what _he_
says. He's got four.

RILEY: I don't care who's got what! All I say is I object to the
system, and this factory'll git burned up if them wop workmen stay here
jest because he holds them shares!

SIMPSON: You're right about that, Riley!

SALVATORE: Why, you can't hear yourself think out in the shops when you
might be havin' a quiet talk with a friend.

RILEY: When them wops gits to talkin' strike it sounds more like a
revolution to me!

SIMPSON: Why, they're all inflamed up. They know what's what, all right.

FRANKEL: What do they know?

SALVATORE: They know you're drawing down on them shares about five or
six times the wages you pay 'em. What I claim is that extra money he
makes ought to be divided amongst _us_.

[_Emphatic approval from_ CARTER, SIMPSON, _and_ RILEY. _"Yes
sir! You bet! That's what!"_]

FRANKEL: Just try it once!

SIMPSON: Them men ain't workin' for you, they're workin' for us. Ain't
we the original owners?

FRANKEL: Y-a-a-a-h!

RILEY [_pounding the table_]: That's the stuff! We're the original
owners! Any money made on them wops' wages is ours. We'll tend to
business with them!

[_The noise outside has increased deafeningly; there is a loud
hammering on the door, which is now flung open, and_ POLENSKI
_in patched overalls, a wrench in his hand, enters fiercely,
slamming the door behind him. He begins an oration at the

POLENSKI: Don't we git a _hearing_? We got to take direct action in this
rotten factory before we even get a word in. [_Shouts from the
committee: "Get out of here, you wop!" "You ain't got no business here!"
"This a committee meeting!"_] Committee meeting, my nose! [_Shakes his
fist at_ FRANKEL.] Do you know what you're up against? You're up against
the arm of labour! You monkey with labour a little more the way you
have, and you'll be glad if it's only a little nitroglycerin that gits
you. Hired us for two and a half, did you?

FRANKEL: My goodness, I rose you to three this morning!

POLENSKI: Yes; rose us to three! What do we care you rose us to four, to
five, to six. Look what the rest you loafers here at this table is

SALVATORE: Here, don't you bring us in this!

POLENSKI [_half screaming_]: I won't? Every one of you is in his class.
[_Points at_ FRANKEL.] You sit up here and call yourself a committee,
dividin' up the money and runnin' this factory that belongs just as much
to us men he hired as it does to you! It belongs to us _more_--because
we're the real workin'men! [_Beats his chest._] My God! Don't the
toilers' wrongs _never_ git avenged? Are we _always_ goin' to be wage
slaves? We demand simple justice. We been workin' here two dollars and a
half a day, now we want the wage scale abolished and double profits for
each of us for every day we worked here before we found out what was
goin' on, with you sittin' up here like kings in your robes, tellin' the
poor man he should have only two dollars and a half a day--sittin' up
here in your pomp with your feet on the neck of labour! [_To_ CARTER]:
_You_, in your fine broadcloth, ridin' up and down the avenues in
limousines with never a thought for the toiler! Don't think for a minute
we deal with this little vampire here. You're all in the same boat, and
the toiling masses will hold every single one of you just as responsible
as it does him, you--you capitalists!

[_Instantly upon this the door is opened enough to admit the
heads of two wops very similar to_ POLENSKI.]

FIRST WOP: Parasites!

SECOND WOP: Bloodsuckers!

POLENSKI: Capitalists, parasites, bloodsuckers, bourgeoisie! Do you
think we expect any justice out of _you_? Do you think I come in this
room ever dreaming you'd grant our demands? No! We knew you! And if we
do assert our rights, what do you do? You set your hellhounds of police
on us! Haven't we been agitatin' for our rights among you for days?
We've got our answer from you, but you look out for ours, because as
sure as there is a hell waitin' for all parasites, we'll send you there,
and your factory, too! [_Looks up at the clock._] My God, is that clock
right? [_He runs out at top speed._]

SIMPSON: They don't seem to know their place!

SHOMBERG: Them fellers think they own the earth.

RILEY: Next, they'll be thinkin' they own our factory!

CARTER [_solemnly_]: Well, sir, I wonder what this country is coming to!

[_Here there is a muffled explosion in the sample piano, which
rocks with the jar, at the same time emitting a few curls of
smoke. General exclamations of horror and fright as all of the
committee break for shelter._]

SHOMBERG [_his voice rising over the others_]: Send for the police!

SALVATORE [_shouting_]: Wait! We ain't divided up the money!

NORA: It's over; it hasn't done any harm!

FRANKEL [_on his hands and knees under the table_]: It was in that
piano. [NORA _goes across to the piano._] Look out, he's probably got
another one in there.

[MIFFLIN _helps_ NORA _to take off the front of the piano,
which is still mildly smoking; a wreckage of wires is seen._]

MIFFLIN [_smiling_]: It must have been an accident!

FRANKEL AND MRS. SIMPSON [_coming out from under the table_]: Accident!

MIFFLIN: Of course it's unfortunate, because it might be misconstrued.

RILEY: Yes, it might.

MIFFLIN [_confidently_]: Let me go talk to these new comrades!

RILEY: Comrades? Frankel's wops? Ha, ha!

SALVATORE: Aw, them ain't comrades; them's just Frankel's hired

MIFFLIN: They are comrades in the best sense of the word. I am in touch
with all the groups. A moment's reasoning from one they know to be

[_He goes out into the factory._]

SALVATORE: Hey, let's get that stuff divided up. I got an engagement.

FRANKEL: Yes; let's hurry. You can't tell _what_ they got planted round

CARTER [_rapping_]: The meeting will please come to--

SALVATORE: Here, cut that out! We ain't got no time to--

SHOMBERG: No. Come to business; come to business!

NORA: The only way, comrades, to know how much we have gained since the
last division is to read the bookkeeper's report.

FRANKEL: Well, for heaven's sakes, go on--read it!

CARTER: Well, I did want to a long while ago, when we first set down and
begun the meeting. I says then, I report on my committee and--

VARIOUS MEMBERS: Oh, for heaven's sake! Go ahead! Cut it out!

CARTER [_picking up the sheets_]: On the first page is says Soomary.

RILEY: What's that mean?

MRS. SIMPSON: Oh, my goodness!

FRANKEL: Git to the figures!

CARTER: Well, here, on one side it says gross receipts--

SHOMBERG [_rubbing his hands_]: Ah!


SIMPSON [_shouting_]: Read it!

CARTER: Gross receipts $2,162.43. On the other side it says: "Cash paid
out $19,461.53."

[_All are puzzled._]

It didn't sound right to me, even the first time I read it. Looks like
he's got the wrong words, crossed over.

FRANKEL: Why, gross receipts last month was over twenty-four thousand

SHOMBERG: Yes, and that was a fall off from the month before.

CARTER [_rubbing his head_]: Well, I don't pretend to understand it, but
he told me all them was mostly payments on old sales anyhow.

RILEY: Read it again, read it again!

SIMPSON: Yes, let's see if we can't get what the sense of it is.

CARTER: It says "Gross receipts, $2,162.43"--that's over here. "Cash
paid out, $19,461.53."

[_All seem dazed._]

RILEY: What else you got there?

CARTER: As near as it seems to me, just a lot of items.

SALVATORE: Well, we must have a lot of money in the bank; what's the
matter we draw that out and divide it?

RILEY: Wait a minute! What's there besides them items?

CARTER: He's got a note. "Note," he says; here it is: He says: "Bank
notified us this morning we're overdrawn $59.01."

RILEY: Overdrawn?

SHOMBERG: Then we got to deposit some to our account. Who's got charge
of the checks that comes in?

NORA: The bookkeeper has charge, but there aren't any checks.

CARTER: No, they ain't been any checks comin' in for some days; a week
or so, or two weeks, you might say. We've looked everywhere for 'em--

FRANKEL [_aghast_]: You looked all through them letters?

CARTER: They ain't none left in 'em that wasn't took out a good while

SALVATORE: You ain't looked through the safe, have you?

CARTER: They ain't a one in it; it's got me all puzzled up, I tell you.
I was jest waitin' for the meeting to settle it.

FRANKEL: But heaven's sakes! There must be checks comin' in from new

CARTER: It says here sales has fallen off. So fur this month they was
only three instruments sold.

SIMPSON: But, my gosh, this is the _end_ of the month!

CARTER: They was two sold in Council Bluffs and one in Detroit.

[_General agitation and excitement._]

MRS. SIMPSON [_trembling with rage and fear_]: You mean to stand there
and tell me we ain't goin' to git any money to-day, and my flat rent to
pay to-morrow?

RILEY: Don't talk about your flat rent to me, lady! There's others of us
got a few things to pay.

SHOMBERG: But, my golly, when _do_ we git paid?

CARTER: I can't make out from what he's got here.

SALVATORE [_rapping fiercely on the table_]: Hey! I got to have my

CARTER: Well, I got to have mine, don't I?

SIMPSON: Go on. See what else it says.

CARTER: Well, here he's got this. Here it says: "Bills payable,

FRANKEL [_leaping up_]: Bills payable! My God, no money in bank, and
we're $17,162.48 in debt!

MRS. SIMPSON [_shrieking_]: Who owes it?


SHOMBERG: Who's goin' to pay it?

RILEY: Who run us into debt that way?

SALVATORE: That's the man we're after!

FRANKEL: Who's the man responsible for us bein' $17,162.48 bankrupt?

RILEY [_hammering the table_]: Who run us into debt over seventeen
thousand dollars?

SIMPSON: Well, give him a chance to answer.

CARTER: What do _I_ know about it? That's what the report says. That's
all _I_ know.

SHOMBERG: Well, somebody's got us into debt. And who is it?

NORA: It's all of us! Haven't we all done this thing together?

FRANKEL: Well, who's got to pay it?

NORA: We've all got to!

out of a stone? What do you take us for? You're crazy! You helped get us
into this! [SHOMBERG _and_ SALVATORE _begin shouting at each other._]

SHOMBERG: You pay me back that twenty-five dollars you got from me

SALVATORE: How I'm goin' to pay you twenty-five dollars when I'm
seventeen thousand dollars in debt?

SHOMBERG: I'll have that money!

[_He takes a paper weight from desk._]

SALVATORE: You throw that at me, I'll give you a little sticker where
you won't like it!

[_Puts his hand in the breast of his coat. Murder appears
imminent. Sudden and general dispersal from the neighbourhood
of the combatants, which brings_ NORA _to_ GIBSON,
_unconsciously seeking his protection._]

SHOMBERG: Aw, I didn't mean anything serious like that. [_Puts down the
paper weight._] But I'll get the money.

SALVATORE: You'll _need_ it--to pay your share what we owe!

MRS. SIMPSON: I'd like to see 'em get one cent out of me!

CARTER: It ain't just us here of course; they's a hundred and seventy
men outside the debt belongs to as well as us. The whole factory's got
to pay it.

SIMPSON: Great gosh! Do you think we can go out there, when they're
expectin' a month's pay, and tell 'em they're gettin' only a
seventeen-thousand-dollar _debt_?

FRANKEL: And me, me, me! Look at _me_! Do you think I can go out and
tell them thirty-five bloodhounds I ain't got no money to even pay their

RILEY [_vehemently_]: What's more, you owe thirty-five shares of that
debt, Frankel!

ALL [_with vindictive satisfaction_]: That's it! Sure he does! He owes
thirty-five shares of the debt! That's right!


RILEY: You owe thirty-five shares of the seventeen-thousand debt.

FRANKEL: My heavens! Ain't the meetin' just settled it I didn't have no
right to them shares and it was all to be divided even?

CARTER: What we got to do, we got to go out there and tell 'em they owe
this money.

FRANKEL: I can't tell mine!

SALVATORE: I know one game little fellow that ain't goin' to pay nobody
nothin'. Excuse me, gents; they'll have to find me!

[_He goes out hastily by the door that leads to the street._]

CARTER: Well, _somebody's_ got to go out there and tell 'em.

SIMPSON: Well, I won't!

MRS. SIMPSON: It's the chairman's place.

CARTER: We all got to go!

FRANKEL: Not me!

SIMPSON: Yes, you will! [_Takes him by the shoulders._]

RILEY [_taking him from_ SIMPSON]: Put him first!

[_They begin to jostle toward the factory door._]

FRANKEL [_as they push him he waves a despairing hand at_ GIBSON]: Mr.
Gibson, that was a fine trick you played on us!

THE COMMITTEE [_shouting_]: You go on there! Come on! We got to take our

FRANKEL: Lemme alone! Take your hands off me!

[_They jostle out, leaving_ NORA _and_ GIBSON _alone together._
NORA _has gone to the large table, sitting beside it, with her
head far down between her hands. As the noise dies away_
MIFFLIN _comes in from the factory._]

MIFFLIN: What wonderful spirits! Just great, rough boys!

[_Smiles as he gets his hat, magazines, newspaper, and

Everything is working out. Some little inevitable friction here, some
little setback there. But it all works, it all works to the one great
end. I'm sorry I wasn't present for the end of the meeting to hear what
success there was this month, but that's a detail. The dream has come
true. It's here, and we're living it! [_At the door._] I'll send you a
copy of my next article, Mr. Gibson. [_Modestly laughs._] They tell me
the series is making a little sensation in its way. Good morning!

[_He goes out jauntily._ GIBSON _has never moved from his
chair; he turns his head, still not rising, and looks fixedly
at_ NORA. _She slowly lifts her head, meets his eye; her head
sinks again. He rises and slowly walks over to her, looking
down at her. Then, bending still lower, she begins to cry._]

GIBSON: Well, Nora, what was the matter with it?

NORA [_not looking up_]: I don't know. What was?

GIBSON: You needed a manager to do what I had been doing.

NORA: Couldn't we have learned? Couldn't one of us?

GIBSON: One of you did--Hill.

NORA: But he left!

GIBSON: Why did Hill leave?

NORA: Other people offered him more money.

GIBSON: Yes; he was the one man that all the rest of you depended on. He
was worth more.

NORA: But were you worth all that you took? You took all that the
business made.

GIBSON: Yes; and last year it was fifty thousand.

NORA: Were you actually worth that much to it?

GIBSON: Other men in the business think so. [_Shows her a letter._]
Here's an offer from the Coles-Hibbard people, out in Cleveland, of that
much salary to do for them what I did here.

NORA: It isn't right; you pay labour only what you have to pay.

GIBSON: The Coles-Hibbard people offer to pay me what they'd have to,
and they're pretty hard-headed men. The whole world pays only what it
has to.

NORA: It isn't right! It isn't right!

GIBSON: Last winter I saw you in a three-dollar seat listening to
Caruso. Have you ever given that much to the organ grinder who comes
under these windows?

NORA: Will it always be so?

GIBSON: I don't know. But it's so now.

NORA: But will the plan _always_ fail?

GIBSON: I think it will until human beings are as near alike as the ants
and bees are. Your system is in full effect with them, but we--we
strive; even in this fellowship here of yours the striving began to

NORA [_looking up at him appealingly_]: But are these inequalities

GIBSON [_gently, rather sadly_]: I don't know. I only know what is.

NORA: Well--I'm whipped.

[_Smiles ruefully, away from him; then she turns again to

Are you going to accept that offer?

GIBSON: What do you say?

[_Her head droops again. Angry voices are heard, growing louder
as they approach. The door is thrown open, and the members of
the committee, noisily talking, appear in the doorway._]

FRANKEL: It was a bum deal all through!

SHOMBERG: Shovin' his run-down factory off onto us!

RILEY [_fiercely_]: You never give us no deed to this plant, Mr. Gibson!

SIMPSON: They ain't a court in the land'll hold us to it!

CARTER: No, sir; and we've voted this is your factory, Mr. Gibson! We
ain't responsible!

GIBSON: It is my factory and I'm going to run it! Any man of you not
back at work in ten minutes on the old scale of wages will be fired!

[_The members whoop with joy._ FRANKEL _and_ CARTER _both try
to shake hands with_ GIBSON _at once._]

CARTER: Well, that's a relief to _me_. Thank you, Mr. Gibson!

FRANKEL: That takes a heap off my mind!

RILEY: God bless you, sir!

GIBSON: Never mind that! You go back to work.

[_Whooping, the committee, in great spirits and with the
greatest friendliness to one another, depart rapidly. Closing
the door_, GIBSON _turns briskly to_ NORA, _and speaks in a
businesslike way._]

GIBSON: Nora, will you marry me?

NORA [_meekly_]: Yes--I will.

GIBSON: Will you marry me to-day?

NORA [_with a little more spirit_]: Yes, I will!

GIBSON: Will you go with me and marry me right now?

NORA [_more loudly and promptly_]: Yes, I will!

GIBSON: Well, then--

[_He gets his hat and coat, then thinks of something he wants
from his desk and goes over to get it. Meantime_ NORA, _not
moving so rapidly as_ GIBSON, _but more thoughtfully, goes up
to the wall where hang her jacket and hat, takes off her apron,
puts on the jacket and hat and goes to the door that leads to
the street, where she stands waiting. There is a knock on the
factory door, which opens without waiting, and_ SIMPSON _comes

SIMPSON: I don't want to detain you if you're goin' out, Mr. Gibson,
but there's something's got to be settled. And the men in my department
say it's got to be settled right now. That wage scale says we get time
and a half for overtime, and the men in the finishing department, they
ain't gettin' no time and a half on piecework and we never understood
that agreement you claim we signed with you anyhow. So what we says, if
we don't get double time instead of time and a half for overtime--why,
Mr. Gibson, it looks like them men couldn't hardly be held back. Now
what we demand is--

[_He is still talking as the final curtain descends upon these
three_: GIBSON _seated at his desk, looking fixedly at_
SIMPSON, NORA _waiting thoughtfully by the door that leads to
the street._]


Book of the day: