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The Naturewoman by Upton Sinclair

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FREDDY. Yes, I read about them.

OCEANA. And don't you ever feel that you must experience them? That
you must face some kind of danger . . . do something that you can look
back on with pride? Why, see . . . six years ago there came to our
island three war-canoes full of savages . . . cannibals they were. If
father and I hadn't been there, they'd have wiped our people out. And
do you think I'd give up the memory of that struggle?

FREDDY. What happened?

OCEANA. Fortunately they came in the daytime, so we soon drove them
back to their boats. See . . . I'll show you. [She goes to trunk.]
Here's one of them.

[She lifts up a human skull.]

FREDDY. Good Lord!

OCEANA. Notice that crack. That was done with a spear . . . by my
prince, the one who made me this robe, you know. He cleaned the skull
out for me.

FREDDY. Rather a ghastly sort of souvenir.

OCEANA. Oh, I don't mind that. Father and I found it useful . . . a
sort of memento mori.

FREDDY. [Looking into trunk.] And what are those things?

OCEANA. They are some of my arrows. And these are what we used for
bowls . . . turtle-shells, you see.

FREDDY. [Pointing.] But those?

OCEANA. Oh, my single-sticks. [Lifts them.] That's the game Henry and
I were talking about. You ought to get him to teach it to you.

FREDDY. What's it like?

OCEANA. I'll show you. [She takes from the trunk two leather helmets
and gloves.] Here you are! It's an old English game . . . didn't you
ever read "Robin Hood"?

FREDDY. Oh, it's that? Why, they used to crack each other's heads!

OCEANA. The object was to draw first blood. But we used to wear these
helmets. You see how we've dented them up? And these old cudgels . . .
how they remind me of father!

FREDDY. Humph! They're heavy.

OCEANA. You take the stick this way; it's a kind of fencing. [She
gives him a stick and illustrates the play.] No, so!

MRS. MASTERSON. [Enters.] What's this? Is this the way you get ready
to leave?

OCEANA. [Imploring.] Oh, Aunt Sophronia, I beg your pardon! I got so
interested . . .

MRS. MASTERSON. Is there no limit to your indiscretion?

DR. MASTERSON. [Enters hurriedly.] Sophronia, I beg of you . . .

MRS. MASTERSON. I will hear no more of this! I have spoken, once for
all . . .

DR. MASTERSON. But, my dear . . .


DR. MASTERSON. But, Sophronia, the people don't understand why . . . .

MRS. MASTERSON. It was outrageous!

DR. MASTERSON. I know. But since it was begun . . . it's so difficult
to explain . . .

MRS. MASTERSON. No more of this! I won't hear it!

HENRY. [Enters; stares about.] Mrs. Masterson, what have you done

MRS. MASTERSON. There is no reason why you should concern yourself
with it.

HENRY. But I wish to know.

MRS. MASTERSON. What do you wish to know?

HENRY. Did you stop Oceana's dance?


HENRY. And why?

MRS. MASTERSON. Because I saw fit to.

HENRY. But your guests . . .

MRS. MASTERSON. I will attend to my guests.

HENRY. But what is Oceana going to do?

MRS. MASTERSON. She is going to leave our house.

HENRY. This is a shame. Most of the people enjoyed the dance. They
would like to see more . . .

MRS. MASTERSON. Henry, you will permit me to decide about what goes on
in my home.

HENRY. You may decide for yourself. But if Oceana leaves tonight, I
will leave also . . . and I will never return.

MRS. MASTERSON. Very well, Sir; as you please.

OCEANA. Henry, let me have a say. I am obliged to you, but I don't
want to stay. It's absurd for me to be here . . . I don't belong here.
I've lived all my life under the open sky; I've been free. I've swum
several miles every day and run several more; I've hunted and fished
and danced and played; and here they dress me up in long skirts and
sit me in a corner and tell me I'm a lady! I can stand it just so long
. . . I've stood it twenty-four hours, and I feel like a wild animal
in a cage. If I don't find something to do . . . something real . . .
something that is thrilling . . . truly, I'll murder some one. [She
paces the room; DR. and MRS. Masterson shrink away from her.] Yes, I
mean it! [With increasing vehemence.] Picture me at home. When I was
hungry, I went out for game; and unless I got the game, I stayed
hungry. Or I went fishing, and I had to get my canoe through the surf.
I had the zest of danger . . . I had real struggle. But here I have
nothing. They bring me my food on silver platters; they get up and
give me their seats, they even push the doors open in front of me! And
so I'm panting for something to do . . . for some opposition, some
competition, some conflict. I'm spoiling for a fight! You, Henry,
don't you know what I mean? A fight! [With a sharp, swift gesture.] I
want to meet some wild animal again! Is there a wild animal in you?
[They stare at each other; suddenly she springs and takes the other
single-stick from FREDDY.] Here! You know this game! My father taught
you! [She holds out one to him.] Come on!

HENRY. [Bewildered.] Oceana! This is not the place.

OCEANA. It's the place for me! Take it! [She forces it on him.] Now!
Forget that I'm a woman! Ready!

HENRY. Oceana! No!

OCEANA. Are you afraid of your mother-in-law?

HENRY. Good heavens!

OCEANA. If you're not, you're the only man in the family that isn't.
[She drops her robe.] Now!

MRS. MASTERSON. This is disgraceful!

DR. MASTERSON. Oceana, I beg of you . . .

OCEANA. Defend yourself! [She makes a feint at Henry's head, causing
him to raise his stick.] Lay on!

[She attacks him briskly. He defends himself. There is a swift rattle
of the sticks and a vivid conflict.]

HENRY. [Laughing.] Oceana, for God's sake, stop!

MRS. MASTERSON. Oh, stop them!

DR. MASTERSON. Are you mad?

FREDDY. Oceana!

OCEANA. [Wild with the excitement of the struggle.] Lay on! Ha, ha!
Well played! Guard! Once again! Ah, this is what I like! This is what
I've been looking for! [They leap here and there; the others dodge out
of the way, protesting; the conflict grows more and more strenuous.]

LETITIA. [Enters left; screams in terror.] Henry! [They stop; a long
pause.] Henry! What does this mean?

HENRY. My dear . . .

[Stops for lack of breath.]

OCEANA. Freddy, my robe.

[Wraps herself and sits in chair, smiling.]

LETITIA. What does this mean?

MRS. MASTERSON. Of all the shameless and insane procedures!

LETITIA. Are you mad, Henry?

OCEANA. No, no, Letitia. We know just what we're about. You see, your
husband and I are considering whether or not we shall fall in love
with each other.

LETITIA. [Wildly.] Oh!

MRS. MASTERSON. Monstrous!


LETITIA. How dare you?

OCEANA. He's interested, you know. I've got hold of him.

LETITIA. [Furiously.] Henry, you stand there and permit her to insult
me . . .

HENRY. My dear, believe me . . .

OCEANA. [Sharply.] Stop, Henry! [A pause.] Look at me!

HENRY. Well?

OCEANA. Don't tell her a lie. A lie is the thing I never pardon.

HENRY. Why . . . why . . .

[Falls silent.]


FREDDY. Gee whiz!

LETITIA. Henry, I demand that you come home with me instantly.

OCEANA. Don't go.

LETITIA. [Almost speechless.] If you stay here, you stay alone!

OCEANA. [Rises, casts aside her robe, stretches wide her arms.]
Letitia! Look at me! Am I the sort of woman that you can safely leave
your husband alone with?

LETITIA. [Stares at her terrified, then bursts into tears and flings
herself into HENRY'S arms.] Henry!

OCEANA. Ah, yes! That is safer!

HENRY. [Supports LETITIA.] My dear! My dear!

LETITIA. Come home with me!

OCEANA. God, man, how I pity you! Bound in chains to a woman like
that! And with all the world conspiring to hold you fast! How can you
bear it? Do you expect to bear it forever? What will become of your
soul? Oh, I pity you! I pity you!

LETITIA. [Hysterically.] Henry, take me home! Take me home at once!

HENRY. Yes, my dear, yes!

OCEANA. What is the spell they've laid upon you? You make me think of
Gulliver . . . a giant stretched out upon the ground, impotent, bound
fast with a million tiny threads! Wake up, man . . . wake up! You've
only one life to live. You act as if you had a thousand.

LETITIA. Mother!

MRS. MASTERSON. How long is this to continue?

LETITIA. Henry, won't you stop listening to her?

OCEANA. He's not listening to me, Letitia. He's listening to the voice
of the universe, calling to him. The voice of unborn generations,
clamoring, agonizing! What do you suppose it means, man . . . this
storm that has shaken us? It is Nature's trumpet-call . . . it is the
shout of discovery of the powers within us! For ages upon ages life
has been preparing it . . . and now suddenly we meet . . . the
barriers are shattered and flung down, the tides of being sweep us

MRS. MASTERSON. Oh! This is outrageous!

DR. MASTERSON. Oceana, Henry is married!

OCEANA. Married! Married! That is the sorcery with which you bind him!
No longer a man at all, but some aborted thing . . . a relic! An
eunuch! They mumble their incantations over you . . . the spell is
done, and you sink back, cowed and whimpering! You are a machine, a
domestic utensil! Never again are you to love and to dare to create
No, there are other things in life for you . . . bread and butter,
cooks and dinner parties, billiards and bridge-whist . . . that is
your portion! A married man!

LETITIA. [Terrified.] Henry! For God's sake!

[He no longer returns her embraces, but stares at Oceana, fascinated.]

OCEANA. Don't you see, man? It's a dream! A nightmare! Rouse yourself,
lift your head . . . and it's gone! Life is calling! Come away!

LETITIA. [Frantically.] Mother! Mother!

MRS. MASTERSON. Quincy, if you can't stop this outrage, I will! Call
the servants.

[She starts toward Oceana.]

OCEANA. Call the police! Call your guests! Anything . . . bring the
world down on him. Terrify him with conventions, beat him into
subjection again!


OCEANA. Wanton! Oh, how well you understand me! I, with my hunger for
righteousness . . . I, who have disciplined myself as an anchorite,
who have served as a priestess of life! And you, with your formulas
and your superstitions . . . you pass judgment upon me! [With terrific
energy.] See! This man and I, we are the gateway to the future! And
you seek to bar it! By what right do you stand in the path of
posterity . . . you tormentors of the ideal, you assassins of human

MRS. MASTERSON. [Almost striking her.] Oh! Oh! And my children have to
listen to this! [She whirls about.] Ethel! Freddy! Go out of the room!

ETHEL. I am going with Oceana.


ETHEL. Some day . . . if not now. She's perfectly right. Letitia has
no business to keep him. She never would have got him if she hadn't
played a part.

MRS. MASTERSON. Ethel Masterson!

LETITIA. Little vixen!

FREDDY. [Rushes to OCEANA and seizes her hand.] Oceana! Let me go with
you, too!

DR. MASTERSON. What next!

OCEANA. No, Freddy . . . no! [She withdraws her hand and holds it out
to Henry.] Henry! Come!

[A tense pause; all stare at Henry. He never takes his eyes from
Oceana. Slowly, like one hypnotized, he draws away from his wife's
embrace, and moves towards Oceana. He seizes her hand. All stand
transfixed. Silence.]



[The scene shows the living-room of a bungalow. Large stone fireplace
centre; windows and window seats on each side; French windows leading
to piazza right; piano between them; door left to another room; large
mirror beside it. Centre table, rustic chairs, deer-heads and skins,
Indian blankets, etc.]

[At rise: The stage is empty.]

OCEANA. [Laughs off.] Oh, say, but that was an adventure!

[Enters; glowing and exultant from a long mountain walk. She wears a
"Rosalind" costume, brown, with soft boots, gauntlet gloves and light
fur about the neck; carries a pair of snow-shoes, which she has taken
off and from which she knocks the snow.]

HENRY. [Follows.] You like the mountains!

OCEANA. Oh, my dear! They are marvellous! I've never imagined anything
like it . . . to be able to see so much of the world at once. It's the
way you think of heaven.

HENRY. You don't mind the cold?

OCEANA. I find I prefer it. I think I shall stay here forever. It
tunes you up so! It makes you quite drunk! [Looks at herself in the
mirror.] I look cute in this, don't I?

HENRY. You look like a fairy-story!

OCEANA. I ought to have had sense enough to think of a theatrical
costumer in the beginning. [Stretches her arms.] Oh, I feel so
wonderful! Ha, ha, ha! I don't know whether it's the mountain air . .
. or whether it's because I'm in love!

HENRY. [Seizes her hand.] Sweetheart!

OCEANA. [Stares at him.] How wonderful it is! Beyond all believing!
I'm stunned by it . . . afraid of it. Tell me, Hal, were you ever

HENRY. [Laughs.] Once or twice.

OCEANA. [Seriously.] I never was. But I've watched my people sometimes
and tried to understand it. And it's just that. Nature has made us

HENRY. And that is what frightens you?

OCEANA. She has her purposes, Hal; and I don't want to be her blind
victim. But then, I look at you again, and wonder leaps up in me . . .
love, such as I never conceived of before; power . . . vision without
end. I seem to be a hundred times myself! It is as if barriers were
broken down within me . . . I see into new vistas of life. I
understand . . . I exult! Oh, Hal, I shall never be the same again!

HENRY. Nor I; I look back at myself as I was a week ago, and I can't
believe it

OCEANA. With me it is like a great fountain inside. It surges up, and
I cannot be still! I want to laugh . . . to sing! I have to dance it
out of me! Do you know Anitra's Dance, Hal?

HENRY. Yes, of course.

OCEANA. [Begins to sing the music to herself and playfully to dance.
The enthusiasm of it takes hold of her, and she dances more quickly.]
Play it, Hal! Play!

[HENRY sits at piano and plays Anitra's Dance; she dances
tumultuously, ending in a whirlwind of excitement.] Oh!

[As Henry rises, she flies to him and he clasps her passionately.]

HENRY. Sweetheart!

OCEANA. [Panting.] Oh, Hal, I'm so happy! So happy! [She sobs upon his
shoulder, then looks at him through her tears.] Oh, if I only dared
let myself go!

HENRY. Why not, dearest?

OCEANA. It sweeps me off my feet! And I have to hold myself in.

HENRY. Why? Don't I love you?

OCEANA. Yes, I know. But I'm terrified at myself; I'm losing my self-
control. And I promised father.

HENRY. What?

OCEANA. That I would never do it. "Never feel an emotion," he would
say, "that you could not stop feeling if you wished to."

HENRY. But, sweetheart . . . why so much distrust? Why should we wait,
when everything in us cries out against it?

OCEANA. Don't say that to me now, Hal!

HENRY. But why not?

OCEANA. This is not the time for such a thought. You know it!

HENRY. Dearest . . .

OCEANA. [Passionately.] Ah, don't put it all on me! Don't make it too
hard for me!

HENRY. But if I only knew . . .

OCEANA. You will know before long. Ah, Hal, see how I'm situated. I've
broken all the laws. I've no precedent to help me . . . I have to work
it all out for myself. I shall have to bear the scorn of the world;
and oh, think if I had to bear the scorn of my own conscience! Don't
you see?

HENRY. Yes, I see. But . . .

OCEANA. I have chosen a certain course. I have forced myself to be
calm, to think it out in the cold light of reason, to decide what is
right for me to do. And now I must keep to my resolution. You would
not want our love to lead me into shame!


OCEANA. Do you read Nietzsche, Henry?

HENRY. He is a mere name to me.

OCEANA. I will give you some lines of Nietzsche's. "Canst thou give
thyself thy good and thine evil, and hang thy will above thee as thy
law? Canst thou be thine own judge, and avenger of thy law? Fearful is
it to be alone with the judge and the avenger of thy law. So is a
stone flung out into empty space and into the icy breath of

HENRY. That's all right . . . but if you expect Letitia to face this
problem in any such way, you will be sadly disappointed.

OCEANA. That's none of my affair. All I have to do is to give her a
chance. If she cannot face the facts, she has passed sentence upon

HENRY. [Laughs.] All right, my dear. It will certainly be a scene to

OCEANA. You think she will come?

HENRY. Oh, she'll certainly come.

OCEANA. And she won't bring her mother?

HENRY. I can't tell about that.

OCEANA. If she does, we'll simply have to send her down to the village
. . . I won't talk in Aunt Sophronia's presence.

HENRY. I was perfectly explicit on that point. [Takes paper from
table.] Here's the telegram: "Come to the bungalow immediately, upon a
matter of extreme urgency. Do not bring your mother."

OCEANA. Certainly that is clear enough.

HENRY. And bewildering enough. But I suppose they are prepared for
anything by now.

OCEANA. It's past the time. [Looking from window.] We should be able
to see a sleigh.

HENRY. No, the road turns behind that hillock there.

OCEANA. But look!

HENRY. What?

OCEANA. There's some one coming afoot.

HENRY. Where?

OCEANA. Round that side! By the path! Why, it's Ethel!

HENRY. Good Lord! Ethel!

OCEANA. She's come up from the village afoot.

HENRY. Well, of all the apparitions!

OCEANA. Run help her, Henry. She's running. [Opens window and calls.]
Ethel! [HENRY exit hurriedly.] Why, the poor, dear child! I wonder if
she came in Letitia's stead! But then . . . why wouldn't she get a
sleigh? [Calls.] Ethel! What's the matter?

HENRY. [Off.] She says Letitia is coming!


HENRY. She's just behind!

OCEANA. But, Ethel, what are you doing here?

ETHEL. [Off, breathless.] Wait!

OCEANA. Why, you poor child, you're exhausted. What in the world . . .

ETHEL. Wait.

[Enters, breathless, half carried by Henry.]

OCEANA. [Pounces upon her.] Ethel! Of all the surprises! You dear
thing! [Embraces her, shakes snow from her.] What in the world has

ETHEL. Oceana, I ran away!

OCEANA. You ran away?

ETHEL. To you! I couldn't stand it! I must be with you, Oceana--no
matter how wicked it is, I must be with you!

OCEANA. [Breathlessly.] Ethel!

ETHEL. Yes, I'm desperate . . . I'll die if I have to stay at home.

OCEANA. My dear, dear girl! [Clasps her.]

ETHEL. You won't send me back?

OCEANA. Never!

ETHEL. [Wildly.] But, Oceana, Letitia is coming!


ETHEL. I took a train from Boston. And when I saw her come aboard,
imagine how I felt! I hid . . . she didn't see me. And I got off the
train first and dodged out of sight. I ran all the way. I suppose she
stopped to get a sleigh.

HENRY. It's all right, Ethel . . . we knew she was coming.

ETHEL. You knew it?

OCEANA. Yes, Henry sent for her. You see, Letitia and I have to talk
things out.

ETHEL. Well, of all the . . .

[Stops, dazed.]

OCEANA. [Laughs.] That's all right, dear. We know what we're doing.
But it was good of you to try to save us!

HENRY. Listen!


HENRY. The sleigh-bells!

OCEANA. She's here!

ETHEL. [Clasping her.] Oceana!

OCEANA. What is it, dear?

ETHEL. Don't let her take me back home?

OCEANA. But how can she take you, dear, if you won't go?

ETHEL. She might persuade you.

OCEANA. Never fear, Ethel . . . we'll stand by you, won't we, Hal?


ETHEL. She'll threaten to make me go.

OCEANA. Her mind will be taken up with other things, Ethel.

ETHEL. But mother will come! And she'll command me to return. I'm not
of age, you know.

OCEANA. But then, if you won't obey? Will she send for the police?

ETHEL. No . . . hardly that.

OCEANA. All right, then, dear. I'll save you . . . trust me. I mean to
give you a chance for life.

ETHEL. And, oh, Oceana . . . what do you think? Freddy's run away,


HENRY. Where to?

ETHEL. He's gone out West!

OCEANA. You don't mean it!

HENRY. What for?

ETHEL. He says he's going to be a cowboy. He's going to make a man of
himself. He left a letter to father.

OCEANA. Why, the dear boy!

ETHEL. [Mysteriously.] Oceana, do you know what was the matter?

OCEANA. No . . . what?

ETHEL. I think I know. He was in love with you!

OCEANA. I shouldn't wonder, my dear. [Laughs.] But don't tell Henry .
. . he'll be jealous!

[Sound of sleigh-bells louder.]

ETHEL. Here she is!

OCEANA. You go into the next room now. It wouldn't be considered
proper for you to hear what we're going to say.

ETHEL. Of all the adventures!


OCEANA. [Smiles at Henry.] Now then!

HENRY. You wanted it, my dear!

[They turn, gazing right. The sleigh-bells have come nearer, then
stopped. Some one is heard to step upon the piazza and stamp the snow
from the feet.]

LETITIA. [Enters right, stares at Oceana and screams.] Oceana!

OCEANA. Letitia . . .

LETITIA. [Gasps for breath.] Henry! How dared you bring me here to
meet that woman?

OCEANA. Letitia . . .

LETITIA. Don't speak to me! Don't you dare to speak to me! [She sinks
down by table and bursts into tears.] Oh, how horrible! How horrible!
As if I had not humiliations enough already!

HENRY. [Taking step toward her.] Letitia . . .

OCEANA. [With a swift gesture.] Wait!

LETITIA. Oh, who would have thought it possible! To bring me 'way up
here . . .

OCEANA. You might as well understand at the outset . . . the thing
cannot be done that way.

LETITIA. [With concentrated hatred.] You dare!

OCEANA. We have sent for you . . .

LETITIA. WE have sent for you!

OCEANA. Because we wished to talk things out with you in a sensible
way. And you'll have to make up your mind to control yourself.

LETITIA. [Sobbing.] Henry, you permit this shameful humiliation!

OCEANA. Henry has nothing to do with this affair, Letitia. It is I who
have to talk to you.

LETITIA. [Bursts into hysterical weeping again.] Oh, that I should
have lived to see this!

OCEANA. You will find out before you get through that I mean to deal
with you fairly. But you cannot accomplish anything by hysterics.

LETITIA. Oh, oh, oh!

OCEANA. And you had best believe me; you injure your case by refusing
to act rationally.

LETITIA. [Looks up, frightened.] What do you want with me?

OCEANA. [Quietly.] In the first place, Letitia, I want to convey to
you the information that your husband's relationship and mine has so
far been what you would call innocent.


OCEANA. I was a virgin when I came to Boston, and I am a virgin still.

LETITIA, And you expect me to believe that?

OCEANA. My dear, I don't care in the least whether you believe it or

LETITIA. [Faintly.] But . . .

OCEANA. What reason would I have to fear you? He is mine, if I want

LETITIA. [Dazed.] Then what . . . why are you here? Why . . .

OCEANA. I came here because I wished to get acquainted with him. And
what chance have a man and woman to get acquainted with each other in
the conventional world?

LETITIA. [Stares at her; then, faintly.] But what . . .

OCEANA. I wished to try him out . . . in body, mind and soul. I wished
to know if he was the man for me.

LETITIA. [Rushes to Henry.] Oh! Have you no decency left? Have you no
mercy on me? What has come over you?

HENRY. Letitia . . .

OCEANA. Let me attend to this, Hal.


OCEANA. That a woman could be married to a man for six years and
continue to call him Henry, speaks volumes for the romance of their

LETITIA. [To Henry.] Where's your sense of shame?

OCEANA. You are taking the wrong line, Letitia. No such consideration
has a moment's weight with us.

LETITIA. [Catches her breath.] Since it seems that I am here at your
mercy, I ask to know your pleasure?

OCEANA. The reason that we have sent for you is that I might assure
myself upon two points . . . first, as to whether your husband still
loves you, and second, as to whether you still love him.

LETITIA. You doubt that I love him?

OCEANA. So far, Letitia, your actions have proceeded, not from love of
him, but from hatred of me.

LETITIA. Oh! And if I fail to measure up to your tests of love . . .

OCEANA. [Triumphantly.] Then he is mine!

LETITIA. And the fact that he is my husband . . .

OCEANA. Is nothing!

LETITIA. The fact that he vowed to keep faith with me . . .

OCEANA. Is nothing!

LETITIA. That I am dependent upon him for support . . .

OCEANA. You have money of your own, Letitia.

LETITIA. Do you suppose I am thinking about money! I mean his

OCEANA. A person who confesses to the need of protection has written
himself down an inferior. [A pause.] You see, Letitia, times have
changed; our ideas of marriage have charged. In the beginning a woman
was a man's economic dependent; now that the man has become ashamed of
that, he is made the woman's spiritual dependent. You play upon his
sense of chivalry, his sympathy, his pity; and you prey upon him, you
devour him alive. But the time has come when that must cease, Letitia
. . . man will not always be a domestic appendage! And you will simply
have to face this new situation. Do you still possess your husband's
love? Do you really love him? Nothing else will count . . . none of
your "rights" . . . we are not afraid of man or devil.

LETITIA. [Gasps.] Oh! [Turns to HENRY.] Henry, will you tell me what
all this means? Can it be that you assent to these outrageous ideas?

HENRY. I assent to them, Letitia. It may be that you still love me,
but you have given me few signs of it. You have been . . . you are . .
. a selfish woman.


HENRY. How often do you give a thought to me . . . to the needs of my
nature? You think of your whims and your prejudices; you think of your
social position . . . of your "world" and its conventions. You think
of what your mother approves, of what your father approves, of what
this person will say and what that person will say. And I follow you
about . . . I play my part in the hollow show that you call life; but
all the time my heart is crying out in me . . . I am starving . . .

LETITIA. [Startled.] Henry!

OCEANA. Ah! She is beginning to see it!

LETITIA. [Stretches out her arms and totters towards him, weeping.]
Henry! I love you! [Wildly.] Believe me! Believe me! I love you! Don't
you remember when you were ill three years ago . . . how I nursed you
and watched over you? You knew that I loved you then. Why, you said
I'd worn myself to a shadow! You kissed me, and told me I'd saved your
life! And when I was ill myself, and you thought I was dying . . .
didn't you realize that you loved me? And the children? Have you never
given a thought to them? Are they nothing to you? And you to them? You
know that you love them, Henry . . . you dare not deny it. Are they to
be without a father all their lives? [Falls into his arms.] My

HENRY. [Catches her, deeply moved.] Letitia!

OCEANA. [Has been watching them intently; now, startled and pained.]
Ah I thought so! [She turns away; supports herself by the table;
whispers.] That settles it!

LETITIA. Henry, if I have been selfish, I am sorry! I humble myself
before you . . . I beg you for forgiveness! Henry, I do love you!
Don't you believe me?

HENRY. [Faintly.] I believe you.

OCEANA. [Clenches her hands and turns resolutely.] You see, Hal, I
knew it! [He bows his head.] You can't get away from her. [She
pauses.] You understand it all now . . . what my instinct told me. You
still love her, you still belong to her. You would have gone away with
me, and you would still have been thinking about her--worrying about
her. It would have been tearing your soul in half. [She waits; he does
not look at her; she goes on, half to convince herself.] She is not
big enough to give you up. She could not say, "Oceana is young and
needs you; you love Oceana, and she will make you happy. Go with her."
No, she would think of the world and its conventions . . . she would
be jealous and bitter. She would eat her heart out . . . she would
tear herself to pieces! And that would tear you to pieces . . . you
could never forget it. And there are the children, Hal. It's true that
you love them; you think about them all the time . . . I know, for you
speak of them. And she could take them away from you, legally . . .
how much chance would they ever have in life, if she and her mother
had the bringing up of them? Don't you see, Hal? What can we do?

LETITIA. [Clinging to Henry's bosom.] Henry, I love you!

OCEANA. I want to play the game generously, Letitia; but it is all I
can do not to despise you . . . because he loves you, and it has meant
so little to you, you have done so little in return. That is the curse
of this thing you call marriage. You say to yourself that you've got
him . . . the law and the conventions will keep him for you . . . and
so you can treat him as you please. You'll take him off with you now,
and you'll set to work to get right back where you were before . . .
yes, she will, Hal. She'll try to wheedle you into backing down from
this position. She will weep and she will scold. But you stand firm .
. . stand firm! What we did was right . . . it was noble and true, and
if more married people did such things, it would be better for them.

LETITIA. [Clinging to Henry.] Henry, come home with me!

HENRY. All right, I'll come.

[He does not lift his head.]

OCEANA. Look at me. It's all right, Hal . . . it's all right.

[She speaks with intensity; they gaze into each other's eyes.]

HENRY. [Stretches out his hand to her.] Oeeana . . . I'm sorry . . .

OCEANA. [With sudden emotion.] No, Hal! Go . . . go quickly! Please!

[He goes out, right, with Letitia; Oceana stands gazing straight
ahead. Sound of sleigh-bells heard. Suddenly she sinks into a chair,
bows her head upon the table, and bursts into tears.]

ETHEL. [Opens door, left, and stands gazing at Oceana in alarm, then
runs to her and sinks upon her knees before her.] Oceana!

OCEANA. [Sobbing.] He's gone! Gone!

ETHEL. He left you?

OCEANA. I gave him up! I sent him away. Oh, Ethel, Ethel . . . what am
I going to do?

ETHEL. Oceana!

OCEANA. Oh, how I loved him! I didn't realize how I loved him! The
whole face of the world was changed . . . and now, now . . . how shall
I bear it? [She stares ahead of her.] Oh, Ethel, tell me I did right
to give him up.

ETHEL. Why did you do it?

OCEANA. I saw he loved her, and I had to give him up. It would have
been to tear his soul in half! But now that he's gone, I don't see how
I can bear it! [A pause; she is lost in thought; she whispers with
great intensity.] There is a vision . . . it haunts me . . . it cries
out in me in a voice of agony!

ETHEL. What?

OCEANA. A little child! You have no idea . . . how real it was to me!
It fell out of the skies upon me! The thought never left me. I heard
its voice . . . its laughter; I saw its smile. It called to me all
day, and it played with me in my dreams; I felt its little hands upon
me . . . its lips upon my breast. And it's gone!

ETHEL. Your child!

OCEANA. And his! And think . . . think of the awfulness of it . . . it
was hovering at the gates of life! It wanted to be! And I trembled . .
. I suffered; at any moment I might have said the word, and it would
have come. But I did not say the word . . . and it is gone. And now it
will never come! Never . . . never! I have murdered the child! My

ETHEL. No, no, Oceana!

OCEANA. God! I can't understand it! What does it mean? Did it exist
when I thought of it? Does it exist now? Who can tell me?

ETHEL. I don't know, Oceana.

OCEANA. The strangeness of it! Sometimes my whole being rises up in
revolt . . . I could tear the skies apart, to wrest the secret from
them! You see, we don't know anything. We don't know what's right, we
don't know what's wrong. We're in a trap! [She rises suddenly.] No,
no, I mustn't talk that way. I've lost my self-control. I let myself
go, and I had no right to. Now, what shall I do? Wait, dear . . . let
me think, let me think calmly. [Stares about her.] I want to remember
what father said to me; what I promised to do. See, Ethel . . . the
sun is setting. Look at the sky! And it's the last day of the month,
isn't it?


OCEANA. If father had been here we should have sat us down to one of
our services! Look here. [She goes to trunk, and takes out a human
skull.] Ah, old friend!

ETHEL. [Shocked.] Oceana!

OCEANA. He came from the Marquesas, I think. And here's where he was
hit with the spear. You see? Sit down. [She places the skull before
her.] See, Ethel-- he used to smile. And now and then he had the
toothache . . . see that? He took himself very seriously; he was all
wrapped up in the things that went on in this little cracked skull.
But he lacked imagination. He never foresaw that somebody would carry
him off to the New Hampshire mountains, and make him the text for a
Hamlet soliloquy. Alas, poor Yorick! He did not know that he was
immortal, you see; that life proceeded from him . . . unrolling itself
for generation after generation without end; that all that he did
would be perpetuated . . . that where he sinned we would suffer, and
where he fought we would be strong. He did not know that he was the
creator, the mystic fountain of an unexplored stream . . . the maker
of an endless future . . . [She stops; a spasm of pain crosses her
face.] Oh, Ethel! [Clasps her hand.] It is terrible to die young, is
it not?


OCEANA. Then how much worse is it to die before you are born! To be
strangled in the idea . . . to be stifled by a cowardly thought!

ETHEL. What do you mean?

OCEANA. Oh, Ethel, stay by me, will you? Promise me you will stay by

ETHEL. I will!

OCEANA. I'm frightened, Ethel . . . frightened at myself. I've done
wrong . . . I've committed a crime! I ought not to have let him go! I
ought not to have let him go!

ETHEL. Henry?

OCEANA. No, we mustn't speak of him again. I can't bear to hear his
name. I have failed . . . I have failed. I've been crushed by
civilization ! [Starts up.] But there's my island! There's the white
beach, shining in the moonlight, and the great breakers rolling in,
and the palm trees rustling in the wind. Let us go together . . . to
my island! Let us go back and get healed, before we try to face this
world again!


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