Part 1 out of 2
Produced by David Starner, Leah Moser and the Online Distributed
_A PLAY IN FOUR ACTS_
[Illustration: AUGUSTUS THOMAS]
(Born, St. Louis, Mo., January 8, 1859)
It is not a new thing for a dramatic author to write prefaces to his
plays. We are fortunate in possessing a series of personal opinions in
this form that constitute a valuable asset in determining individual
attitude and technical purpose. Read Schiller's opening remarks to
"The Robbers," Victor Hugo's famous opinions affixed to "Cromwell" and
his equally enlightening comments introducing "Hernani," and you can
judge the value autobiographically and philosophically.
The American dramatist has not been given, as a general rule, to such
self-examination; he has contented himself with supplying the fashions
of the day in the theatre, and has left to the ubiquitous press-agent
the special prerogative of whetting public curiosity as to what manner
of man he is and as to the fabric from which his play has been cut.
There has been no effort, thus far, on the part of literary executors,
in the cases, for example, of Bronson Howard or James A. Herne, to
preserve the correspondence of these men, so much of which dealt with
the circumstances surrounding them while writing or the conditions
affecting them while rehearsing. These data would be invaluable in
preserving a perspective which the modern historian of the American
theatre so wofully lacks.
All the more significant, therefore, is the edition of Mr. Augustus
Thomas's works, now being issued by Messrs. Samuel French. Thus far
the "autobiographies" of six plays have been prepared by the dramatist
in a charming, reminiscent vein. The present Editor is privileged to
make use of one, describing the evolution of "In Mizzoura," and this
inclusion removes from him the necessity of commenting too lengthily
on that play, for fear of creating an anti-climax.
Read consecutively, the prefaces suggest Mr. Thomas's mental
equipment, his charm and distinction of personality, the variety of
his experiences which have given him a man's observation of people and
of things. The personalia are dropped in casually, here and there, not
so much for the purpose of specific biography, as to illustrate the
incentives which shaped his thought and enriched his invention as a
playwright. His purpose in writing these forewords is just a little
didactic; he addresses the novice who may be befuddled after reading
various "Techniques of the Drama," and who looks to the established
and successful dramatist for the secrets of his workshop. These
prefaces reveal Thomas as working more with chips than with whole
planks from a virgin forest. He confesses as much, when he talks of
"Mrs. Leffingwell's Boots." It was "salvage," he writes, "it was the
marketing of odds and ends and remnants, utterly useless for any other
purpose." Yet, with the technical dexterity, which is Mr. Thomas's
strongest point, he pieced a bright comedy picture together--a very
popular one, too. In the course of his remarks, he says, "When I had
the art department on the old St. Louis Republican--" "There is an
avenue of that name [Leffingwell] in St. Louis, near a hill where I
used to report railroad strikes." Similar enlightening facts dot the
preface to "In Mizzoura," suggesting his varied employment in the
express and railroad business. Thus, with personal odds and ends,
we can build a picture of Thomas before he started on his regular
employment as a playwright, in 1884, with "Editha's Burglar", in
conjunction with Mrs. Frances Hodgson Burnett.
There is an autobiographical comment published, written presumably at
the request of the late Hamilton Wright Mabie, which is not only worth
preserving as a matter of record, but as measuring a certain facility
in anecdote and felicity of manner which have always made Thomas a
welcome chairman of gatherings and a polished after-dinner speaker.
"After Farragut ran the New Orleans blockade," he states, "my
father took direction of the St. Charles Theatre, New Orleans,
then owned by Ben De Bar. When he returned to St. Louis, in
1865, I was in my seventh year, and my earliest recollections
are tinged with his stories of Matilda Herron, John Wilkes
Booth, and others who played in that theatre. Father was an
orator of considerable ability, and I remember him, for the
amusement of my mother, reciting long speeches from Kotzebue,
Schiller, and Shakespeare. In his association with the theatre
he took me very early to plays, and I have always been an
attendant; consequently dialogue seemed the most natural
literary vehicle. I found later that this impression was
justified when I discovered that the most telling things
in Homer and later Greek poets and philosophy were in
dialogue--that this was true of Confucius and of Christ.
"I began writing plays when I was about fourteen years of age.
When I was sixteen and seventeen, an amateur company that I
organized played in certain railway centres on the old North
Missouri Railway, for the benefit of local unions of the
working men. In 1882, I made a dramatization of Mrs. Burnett's
'Editha's Burglar'. With this as a curtain-raiser, and a
rather slap-stick farce called 'Combustion', I made a tour of
the country with a company I organized, and with which I ran
in debt several thousand dollars. In 1889, a four-act version
of 'The Burglar', arranged by me, was played in New York, and
was successful, and since that time my royalties have enabled
me to give my attention on the business side exclusively to
"You ask why everybody who knows me is my friend? I might
answer laconically that it was because they did not know
me thoroughly, but, dismissing that defensive assumption of
modesty, and making such self-inquiry as I can, I think I
have a capacity for companionship from the fact that I was
painfully poor as a kid. My consecutive schooling stopped
when I was ten. I gave up all attempt to attend school even
irregularly, when I was thirteen. Between that age and my
twenty-second year, I worked in various sections of the
freight departments of railways. Most of the mid-day meals
of that time I took from a tin-bucket. This meal was in the
company of freight-handlers on the platform, men recruited
almost exclusively from the Irish at that time in the
middle West; or the meal was with the brakemen in the switch
shanties, these brakemen generally Americans rather near the
soil; or was with the engineers and firemen in their cabs,
or on the running-boards of boxcars with trainmen. Without
knowing it, I acquired the ability of getting the other
fellow's point of view, and, when I got old enough not to be
overwrought by sympathy that was inclined to be too partisan,
I found an immense intellectual enjoyment in watching the
interplay between temperament and environment. I think this
answers your question. I have retained a gossip's ability to
be interested in most anybody else's affairs."
It is a strange combination--this democratic sympathy, with a later
developed French finesse of technique, so clearly felt in comparing
one of his "soil" plays, like "Alabama," with a more finished product,
like "As a Man Thinks." The word "robustness" has been applied to
Thomas, which recalls that when 10-cent melodrama was in flower on the
American stage, the writer of "Convict 999" was called the Augustus
Thomas of melodrama, and the inventor of "Jennie, the Sewing Machine
Girl" was regarded as the Clyde Fitch of melodrama. Thomas is as
careful in observing the small psychologies of men as Fitch ever was
of women. There is a neatness, a finish to his small scenes that hint
at a depth and largeness which he has never given rein to in any play
he has thus far written. The consequence is, when he aimed at mental
effect, the result was nearly always pompous, as when _Dr. Seelig_,
in "As a Man Thinks," tries to explain the psychological matrix of the
piece, and as when _Jack Brookfield_, in "The Witching Hour," explains
the basis of telepathy. But when he aimed nowhere, yet gave us living,
breathing flashes of character, as dominate "The Other Girl" and are
typified in the small role of _Lew Ellinger_, in "The Witching Hour,"
Thomas was happiest in his humour, most unaffected in his inventions,
most ingenious in his "tricks." The man on the street is his special
_metier_, and his skill in knitting bones together gives one the
impression of an organic whole, though, on closer examination, as in
"As a Man Thinks," the skeleton is made up of three or four unrelated
stories. Only skilful surgery on Thomas's part carries the play to
success, for we are nearly always irritated by the degree to which he
falls short of real meat in spite of all the beautiful architectonics.
He "thinks things," declares one critic,--"that anybody can see; and
sporadically he says things; but he does not say them connectedly and
as part of some definite dramatic theme."
Thomas's interesting prefaces suggest this limitation in him, whether
it be a psychic subject he is to handle or an historical period he is
to cover. His manner of cogitating a theme has always been in terms of
the theatre, and he is willing to curtail any part of his theme for
a "point." His explanation, therefore, of the growth of detail, while
lacking in the high seriousness of Poe's explanation how he conceived
"The Raven," has nevertheless the same mathematical precision about
it. In other words, Thomas plays the theatre as Steinitz played chess,
with certain recognized openings and certain stated values to the
characters. We doubt whether, if the truth were told, many changes
ever occur, once a Thomas scenario is planned. His whole game is to
capture as many of his audience as he can by strategy, to checkmate
them by any legitimate theatrical move, regardless of tenability of
subject, and in despite of truth. Hence, when he fitted up "Arizona"
in clothes to suit recent Mexican complications, and called his play
"Rio Grande," he found he had lost the early sincerity of "Alabama,"
and his raciness was swamped in an apparent sophistication which only
added to his artificial method of conceiving a plot.
He has, therefore, played the theatrical game with love for it, with
thorough understanding of it--and though political preferment in the
Democratic Party has been offered him many times, he has thus far not
deserted the theatre. As the years advance, he does not seem to lose
any of his dexterity; on the other hand, he does not show inclination
to be stirred in his plays by the social problems of the day.
When "The Witching Hour" showed a departure into realms of subtle
psychology, we thought Thomas, as a playwright, had passed into the
realm of wisdom; but his introduction to that play reveals the fact
that, once, he was press-agent for a thought-reader. So it was
the "showman" aspect of the subject which led him to read up on
auto-hypnosis. It was not so much conviction as picturesqueness which
prompted him to write, in 1890, the one-act psychic sketch which
afterwards became the longer play. His enthusiasm was of considerable
duration; it passed from one play to another, and among his "subtle"
pieces on the same theme were "The Harvest Moon" and "As a Man
Apart from these--the nearest approach of Thomas to the so-called
"intellectual" drama--and apart from the racy territorial pieces like
"Alabama," "In Mizzoura," "Arizona," and "Colorado," his plays came
from a desire to suit the eccentricities of "stars," like
Lawrence D'Orsey in "The Earl of Pawtucket" and "The Embassy
Ball"--blood-cousins in humour to _Dundreary_--or "On the Quiet" for
the dry unctuousness of William Collier. In these plays, his purpose
was as deep as a sheet of plate glass, as polished on the surface, and
as quick to reflect the rays of smiles.
What one may say of Augustus Thomas with truth is that by temperament
he is American; his dramas have a native atmosphere about them. I have
never read "The Capitol" or "The Hoosier Doctor," but it is easy to
imagine his treatment of such themes. All of his work bears the Thomas
technique. He was more successful than Fitch in dramatization; his
"Colonel Carter of Cartersville," from F. Hopkinson Smith's novel, and
his "Soldiers of Fortune," from Richard Harding Davis's story, were
adequate stage vehicles,--whereas Fitch failed in his handling of
Mrs. Edith Wharton's "The House of Mirth" and Alfred Henry Lewis's
"Wolfville Stories." And the reason for Thomas's success is that he
is better equipped for mosaic work in characterization, than for large
sweeps of personality. Not one of his plays contains a dominant figure
worth remembering afterwards for its distinguishing marks. He has
never painted a full portrait; he has only taken snap-shots. His plays
have been written as houses are built. More than likely he approaches
a subject as he approached "Oliver Goldsmith," as "largely a scissors
and paste-pot undertaking." But over it, when finished, there is a
high polish which denotes guaranteed workmanship. That same care
for finish which marks his plays marks his work with the actors, at
rehearsal, who have been selected by him with the unerring eye of the
It is significant that Thomas began his career as page boy in the 41st
Congress; that, after his railroad experience, he studied law; and
that, after his subordinate work with the newspapers, he became editor
and proprietor of the Kansas City _Mirror_. Since the death of Bronson
Howard, he has been regarded as the Dean of playwrights, and once
held the presidency of the Society of American Dramatists. Professor
Brander Matthews, Mr. William Gillette, and he represent the theatre
in the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
_A PLAY IN FOUR ACTS_
By AUGUSTUS THOMAS
REVISED 1916 BY AUGUSTUS THOMAS
This preface is one of a number trying to show, each for its
particular play, the manner of the play's conception, whether starting
from a theme, a character, or a situation; the difficulty of the start
and the larger problems of the story's development, together with the
ways considered and chosen to answer them. It has been thought that
such accounts might be of interest, and, in some instances, perhaps,
helpful to others beginning on the same kind of work.
In the spring of 1891, Mr. Nat Goodwin was one of the most popular and
successful, as well as one of the most skilful, of American actors.
He had played lively and slight farces almost exclusively; but, having
the ability for serious work as well, he was ambitious to try it. In a
comedy by Brander Matthews and George H. Jessop, called "A Gold Mine,"
he had given one or two dramatic scenes most convincingly; and one
sentimental soliloquy with a rose in exquisite tenderness. In person
he is under the average height; and then, was slight, graceful, and
with a face capable of conveying the subtlest shades of feeling. The
forehead was ample; the eyes were large and blue, clear and steady.
The nose was mildly Roman; the hair was the colour of new hay. His
voice was rich and modulated. These points are reported because they
helped form the equipment of the "star," who wanted a serious play in
which he should be the hero. The order was without other conditions;
the play might be of any period and of any land.
My own ignorance fixed certain limitations. At that time I had
acquaintance with no other countries than the United States and
Canada. These I knew fairly well. I had travelled them with one-night
theatrical companies; and also in newspaper assignments; and over
restricted districts I had worked in the employment of a railroad
company. I didn't care to write from books; so my Goodwin hero was
to be perforce an American. It seemed best to make him an American of
1891. Other times and places were excluded and dismissed from mind.
Now, a blond hero five feet seven inches tall and weighing under one
hundred and fifty-pounds--a Roman nose, and a steady, steel blue gaze!
I stood the Goodwin photograph on my table and looked at it until
it talked to me. The slight physique couldn't explain the solid
confidence of that look except there was behind it a gun. We were
doing more man to man shooting in the country then than now; and my
Western friendships made me more tolerant of the gun than some others
were. Goodwin and a gun sent me searching mentally over the West from
Colorado to the Coast, and through all occupations from bandit to
fighting parson; and then my potential gallery, quite apart from
any conscious effort of my own, divided itself into two kinds of
gunpackers: the authorized and the others. I concluded that there
would be less trouble, less "lost motion"--that was a phrase learned,
and an idea applied in the old-fashioned composing-room--less lost
motion, in portraying a lawful gun toter than in justifying an
outlaw; and the Goodwin part was therefore to be either a soldier or
a sheriff. I have said that he was thin, graceful--and he was, but he
wasn't particularly erect. He was especially free from any suggestion
of "setting-up:" sheriff was the way of least resistance.
My hero was a sheriff. You see how that clears the atmosphere. When
you must, or may, write for a "star," it is a big start to have the
character agreeably and definitely chosen.
There must be love interest, of course.
A sheriff would presumably be a bit of the rough diamond; _contrast_
wherein "lieth love's delight" prompted a girl apparently of a finer
strain than himself; and _conflict_ necessitated a rival. The girl
should be delicate and educated, the _rival_ should be attractive but
unworthy; and to make him doubly opposed to Goodwin I decided to
have him an outlaw--someone whom it would be the sheriff's duty and
business--_business_ used in the stage sense--to arrest.
Four or five years before the Goodwin contract, I had been one of the
_Post-Dispatch_ reporters on the "Jim Cummings" express robbery.
That celebrated and picturesque case was of a man who presented to
an express messenger at the side door of his express car, just as the
train was pulling from the St. Louis station, a forged order to carry
the bearer, dead-head, to a certain distant point on the run. The
messenger helped the dead-head into his car, and chummed with him,
until about an hour later, when, as he was on his knees arranging
some of his cargo, he found a pistol muzzle against his cheek, and his
smiling visitor prepared to bind and gag him. Having done this, the
stranger packed one hundred and twenty thousand dollars into a valise;
and dropped off into the dark, when the train made its accustomed
stop at a water-tank. The whole enterprise was so gentle, that the
messenger was arrested and held as an accomplice, while the Pinkertons
looked for the man with the money.
The robber was a kind-hearted person; and, being really grieved over
the detention of an innocent man, wrote several exculpating letters
to the papers, enclosing rifled express envelopes to prove his
peripatetic identity. These letters were signed "Jim Cummings," a _nom
de guerre_ borrowed from an older and an abler offender of the Jesse
After he was arrested and in his cell in the St. Louis jail, "Jim
Cummings" and I became friends, as criminals and newspaper men
sometimes do, and as criminals and I always have done, everywhere,
most easily. The details of his arrangements, both before and after
his draft on the company, were minutely in my mind, and were so very
vital that, with the first need for a drama criminal, I took him.
Goodwin's rival should be Jim Cummings; a glorified and beautiful and
matinee Cummings, but substantially he.
This adoption rescued the girl and the sheriff from the hazy geography
of the mining camps, and fixed the trio in Missouri.
After Cummings had dropped from the express car, he had walked some
fifteen miles to the Missouri River, near St. Charles, and had then
gone north on a train through Pike County. I had more than once made
the same trip on freight trains; and I had a liking for the county
as the home district of Champ Clark, a politico-newspaper comrade of
several legislative sessions and conventions. Newspaper experience
in those days, before the "flimsy" and the "rewrite," emphasized the
value of going to the place in order to report the occurrence; and I
knew that, aside from these three characters and their official and
sentimental relationships, the rest of my people and my play were
waiting for me in Bowling Green.
In those days, Mrs. Thomas and I used to hold hands on our evening
promenades; but I think it was really our foolish New York clothes
that made the blacksmith smile. At any rate, we stopped at his door
and talked with him. He knew Champ Clark and Dave Ball--another
Missouri statesman--and had the keenest interest in the coming
convention for the legislative nomination. It was fine to hear him
pronounce the state name, _Mizzoura_, as it was originally spelt on
many territorial charts, and as we were permitted to call it in the
public schools until we reached the grades where imported culture
ruled. The blacksmith's helper, who was finishing a wagon shaft with a
draw knife, was younger and less intelligent, and preferred to talk
to Mrs. Thomas. It is distracting to listen at the same time to three
persons; but I learned that "You kin make anything that's made out
o' wood with a draw knife;" and over the bench was the frame for an
upholstered chair. A driver brought in a two-horse, side seated,
depot wagon on three wheels and a fence rail. The fourth wheel and its
broken tire were in the wagon; and the blacksmith said he'd weld the
tire at five-thirty the next morning.
We went without breakfast to see him do it. He was my heroine's father
by that time; a candidate for the legislature; and I was devising for
him a second comedy daughter, to play opposite to the boy with a draw
knife. That day I also found the drug-store window and the "lickerish"
boxes that Cummings should break through in his attempted escape; and
I recovered the niggers, the "dog fannell," the linen dusters, and the
paper collars which, in my recent prosperity, I'd forgotten. I also
nominated Goodwin for the legislature, which increased his importance,
and gave him something to sacrifice for the girl's father. But it was
all so poverty-stricken, as I glimpsed it through the blacksmith shop
and the little house I'd chosen for its consort. I yearned for some
money; not much, but enough to afford "a hired girl," and for some
means of bringing the money into the story. When we left Bowling
Green, I had given Goodwin a substantial reward for the robber's
capture; but he wouldn't accept it. That was a mere dramatist's
device; and my quiet sheriff was already above it; besides, he wasn't
sure that he'd hold the fellow. His wish to please the girl was
already debating the matter with his duty.
On the way back to St. Louis, the conductor, who took our tickets,
recognized me. Charlie Church had been a freight brake-man when I was
in the St. Louis yards. He was proud of his advancement to a passenger
conductorship--proud of his train--proud of the new Wabash road-bed
on the single track line. This road-bed was made of macadam-looking
metal, clean and red as the painted bricks in the local Dutch women's
gardens, and hard as flint. When we gave the right-of-way, and ran in
on a siding, Church brought us up a few pieces to the back platform;
and with one of them scratched my initials on the glass window.
"What was it, iron ore?--no, that mud that the river leaves when it
rises--'Gumbo' the people call it. Some fellow found by accident that
it became red flint when fired, and was making a fortune selling it to
the railroad." To burn it, he used the slack coal from the Jonesburg
mines nearby, which until then had also been waste. I put a handful of
the stuff in my pocket; and, after the conductor left us, I turned the
whole enterprise over to the Goodwin part. When the play ended, the
audience should feel sure that he and Kate need never want for a
dollar. I knew also where he had accidentally burnt his first sample,
and made his discovery; in the blacksmith shop.
But what accident brought the raw gumbo there? Perhaps the wheels of
the stage-coach; but that wasn't definitely Goodwin. The soft gumbo is
not unlike putty; it would make a fair cushion for a broken limb: but
I didn't want to halt my story with anybody crippled to that extent;
and then I remembered the yellow dog drinking from the blacksmith's
tub. I broke _his_ leg and had Goodwin carry him miles in the stage,
with his poor paw in a poultice of gumbo. It was a counter-pointing
touch to a sheriff with two guns; it gave him an effective entrance;
and it coupled in a continuous train, the sheriff, the bad man who
sneered at it, the blacksmith and his motherly wife who sympathized
and helped in a better dressing, the forge where a piece of the
discarded gumbo should fall amongst the coke, the helper who should
pump the bellows for another and verifying bake: and last, and best
of all, it gave me a "curtain" for a second act; when, perturbed and
adrift after being temporarily rejected by the girl, Goodwin should
turn in an undefined but natural sympathy to the crippled dog in his
box under the helper's bench.
That illustrates one of the dramatist's discovered rules: "If you use
a _property_ once use it again and again if you can." It is a _visual_
thing that binds together your stuff of speech like a dowel in a
There are few better places than a railroad train for building
stories; the rhythmic click of the wheels past the fish-plates makes
your thoughts march as a drum urges a column of soldiers. A tentative
layout of the story established in the first act, the educated Kate,
discontented in her blacksmith father's surroundings; the flash
fascination of our transient robber; the robber's distinct lead over
Goodwin's accustomed and older blandishments. The second act saw
Goodwin turned down and the robber preferred. The third act should see
the robber's apprehension and arrest. I milled around the question
of his identification as Illinois and Indiana went past the Pullman
window; and then the one sure and unfailing witness for that purpose
volunteered--the express messenger himself. There was no reason why
this young man shouldn't be a native of Bowling Green, and come home
from St. Louis at the end of certain runs. He would know Goodwin and
the blacksmith's family; but, to put him nearer to them, more "into
the story" sentimentally, I gave Goodwin a little sister, and made the
messenger her accepted lover, with his arrest and detention postponing
the wedding. This need to free his sister's fiance gave the sheriff
hero a third reason for getting the real robber; the other two being
his official duty and the rivalry for Kate. The messenger and the
sheriff's sister, the helper and the comedy daughter, and Goodwin and
Kate, made three pairs of young lovers. This number might easily
lead to a disastrous diffusion of interest unless the playwright were
careful always to make the work of each couple, even when apparently
about their own personal affairs, really to the forward trend of the
I doubt if the production of novels, even to the writer
temperamentally disposed to that form of expression, is as absorbing
as play-making. The difference between the novel and the play is the
difference between _was_ and _is_. Something has _happened_ for the
writer of the novel and for his people. He describes it as it was; and
them as they were. In the play something _is happening_. Its form is
controversial--and the playwright, by force of this controversy, is
in turn each one of his characters, and not merely a witness of their
doings. When they begin to take hold of him, their possession is more
and more insistent--all interests in real life become more and more
secondary and remote until the questions in dispute are not only
decided, but there is also a written record of the debates and the
By the time our train pulled into New York, I was impatient to make a
running transcript of speeches of my contending people. But that is
a relief that must be deferred. Like over-anxious litigants, the
characters are disposed to talk too much, and must be controlled
and kept in bounds by a proportioned scenario, assigning order, and
respective and progressive values to them. That was the work of a day
by that time, and then, with the material gathered, and the intimacy
with the people and the places, the play was one that wrote itself.
[Footnote 1: The Witching Hour; Mrs. Leffingwell's Boots; The Earl
of Pawtucket; The Harvest Moon; Oliver Goldsmith [Published by Samuel
[Footnote 2: Written before the death of Mr. Goodwin.]
R.M. HOOLEY Proprietor and Manager.
HARRY J. POWERS Business Manager.
* * * * *
COMMENCING MONDAY EVENING. AUGUST 7th, 1893.
Every Evening and Saturday (Only) Matinee
MR. NAT C GOODWIN
AND COMPANION PLAYERS
Under the direction of Mr. Geo. J. Appleton, will produce for the
first time on any stage, a drama of character, entitled
By MR. AUGUSTUS THOMAS, author of "Alabama," etc.
* * * * *
CAST OF CHARACTERS.
JIM RADBURN MR. NAT C. GOODWIN
ROBERT TRAVERS MR. FRANCIS CARLYLE
JO VERNON MR BURR. McINTOSH
COLONEL BOLLINGER MR. WM. C. BEACH
BILL SARBER MR. ROBT. G. WILSON
SAM FOWLER MR. ARTHUR HOOPS
DAVE MR. LOUIS PAYNE
ESROM MR. J.W. McANDREWS
KELLY MR. LOUIS BARRETT
CAL MR CHARLES MILLER
KATE VERNON MISS BELLE ARCHER
MRS. JO VERNON MRS. JEAN CLARA WALTERS
'LIZBETH VERNON MISS MINNIE DUPREE
EM'LY RADBURN MISS MAE E. WOOD
Virginia Students Quartette and Villagers
* * * * *
SYNOPSIS OF SCENERY.
ACT I.--Living room of Jo Vernon's house. Bowling Green, Pike County,
Missouri. Time--Evening in June.
ACT II.--Blacksmith shop of Jo Vernon adjoining his residence.
Time--Morning of the second day.
ACT III.--Living room of Jo Vernon. Time--Evening of the second day.
ACT IV.--Home and door yard of Jim Radburn. Time--The next Morning.
* * * * *
The scenery painted from sketches made of the exact locality, by
Albert and Burridge.
* * * * *
EXECUTIVE STAFF FOR MR. GOODWIN.
Mr. Charles E. Power Business Manager
Mr. Louis Barrett Stage Manager
Mr. Daniel Cronin Master Carpenter
Mr. Charles Miller Properties
* * * * *
As given at the Fifth Avenue Theatre, New York, on Monday Evening,
September 4, 1893.
JIM RADBURN Mr. Nat C. Goodwin.
ROBERT TRAVERS Mr. Emmett Corrigan.
JO VERNON Mr. Burr McIntosh.
COLONEL BOLLINGER Mr. William G. Beach.
BILL SARBER Mr. Robert G. Wilson.
SAM FOWLER Mr. Arthur Hoops.
DAVE Mr. Louis Payne.
ESROM Mr. J.W. McAndrews.
KELLY Mr. Louis Barrett.
CAL Mr. Charles Miller.
MRS. JO VERNON Mrs. Jean Clara Walters.
'LIZBETH VERNON Miss Minnie Dupree.
EM'LY RADBURN Miss Mae E. Wood.
KATE VERNON Miss Mabel Amber.
_Music at rise of curtain. The old "Forty-nine" tune, "My name is Joe
SCENE: _Pike Co., dining-room, living-room and kitchen combined. A
line of broken plaster and unmatched wall-papers marks the ceiling and
back flat a little left of center. Doors right and left in 3. Door in
right flat. Old-fashioned table. Dresser, low window with many panes,
window-sash sliding horizontally--outside of door is pan of leaves
burning to smoke off mosquitoes._
DISCOVERED: MRS. VERNON _and_ LIZBETH. MRS. VERNON _ironing;_ LIZBETH
_at pan of fire._
MRS. VERNON. Lizbeth!
MRS. VERNON. Move that pan a little furder off. The smoke's a
durnation sight worse'n the skeeters.
LIZBETH. [_Rising and coming in._] Well, we couldn't sleep fur 'em
last night, and it's just as well to smoke 'em good.
MRS. VERNON. But such an all fired smell--what're you burnin'?
LIZBETH. Dog fannel--
MRS. VERNON. I thought so. It's nearly turned my stomich--come, hurry
with this ironin' now.
LIZBETH. [_Coming down right of table._] Let's leave it till mornin',
MRS. VERNON. Can't, Lizbeth, it's bin put off since Wednesday, an' the
furst thing we know we'll be havin' it to do Sunday--get me another
iron. [LIZBETH _goes left_.] I'm reg'lar tuckered out.
LIZBETH. Me too. [_Sound of sledge hammer from door left._ LIZBETH
MRS. VERNON _sits on rocker and fans herself with frayed-out palm
MRS. VERNON. Lor'--to think o' this weather in June. It's jis'
_Enter_ KATE. _She is neatly gowned and is of a superior clay._
MRS. VERNON. Well, Kate?
KATE. Must we have this awful odour again to-night?
MRS. VERNON. Got to have somethin', Kate, to drive off the skeeters.
[_Enter_ LIZBETH.] I ain't slep' none for two nights.
KATE. They might be kept out some other way. [_She sits in chair._
MRS. VERNON. [_Taking the fresh iron and resuming work._] I ruined
my best pillar-slips an' nearly smothered myself with coal oil last
night. I'll try my own way now. It's all very well fur you, Kate,
whose got the only muskeeter bar in the family--
LIZBETH. [_In the rocker._] Yes, and won't let your sister sleep with
KATE. I'll gladly give you the mosquito bar, Lizbeth, but two grown-up
people can't sleep in a narrow single bed.
LIZBETH. I hope you don't s'pose I'd take it.
KATE. I gave you one to make the window frames.
MRS. VERNON. Well, kin the poor girl help that, Kate? Didn't the dogs
jump through 'em? [_She indicates the ragged netting on the frame._
KATE. Why do you have the dogs about?
MRS. VERNON. Well, when you've lived as long as I have in Pike County,
you'll know you got to have dogs if you leave your winders open.
There--I've ironed another pearl button in two--yes, an' it's pulled a
piece right out o' one o' yer pa's bosoms. That's 'cause I'm so tired,
I can't see. Lizbeth, where's them prescriptions?
LIZBETH. In the yeast-powder box.
MRS. VERNON. Well, get one for me. [LIZBETH _gets box from over the
stove._] I can't go on with this ironin' without some beer.
LIZBETH. Who'll go for it?
MRS. VERNON. Ask Dave--
LIZBETH. [_At door. Calls._] Dave!
DAVE. [_Off._] Yes, Lizbeth.
LIZBETH. Ma wants you to--
MRS. VERNON. Now, don't yawp it out to the whole neighbourhood,
Lizbeth--tell Dave to come here.
LIZBETH. [_In a lower tone._] Come here!
MRS. VERNON. Give me the prescription. [LIZBETH _arranges the linen
in the basket. Enter_ DAVE.] Dave, the ironin' an' the heat an'
everything jes' about floored me--won't you go to the drug-store with
this prescription, an' get me a quart bottle of St. Louis beer?
DAVE. [_Taking the prescription._] Certainly.
MRS. VERNON. I can't send the girls after dark.
DAVE. Oh, that's all right. [_Exits to street._
MRS. VERNON. [_Ironing again._] If your pa ever does get into the
Legislature, I hope he'll defeat this blamed local auction business.
It's all well enough for those Salvation women who ain't got a thing
to do but pound tambourines, but if they had the washin', and ironin',
an' cookin' to do for a fambly of six--an' three dogs--they'd need
something to keep body an' soul together.
KATE. [_Going to street door._] How much longer shall you iron
MRS. VERNON. Why? Do you want the room?
KATE. Oh, no--but--
LIZBETH. Is Travers coming to-night, Kate? [_Sits in rocker._
KATE. I don't know who may come.
MRS. VERNON. What difference does it make who does come?
KATE. None, except that the room is filled with smoke and--is hot.
MRS. VERNON. Well, to my mind, Travers may as well get himself used to
places that are hot and filled with smoke--fur if he ain't one of Old
Nick's own ones, I never see any--
KATE. Mother!! Mr. Travers is a gentleman!
MRS. VERNON. How do you know? Four years to a female seminary don't
make you a better judge of gentlemen than us who stay to home here.
Your pa's a gentleman if he is a wheelwright--so is Jim Radburn--
LIZBETH. And Dave--
MRS. VERNON. Yes, and Dave--
KATE. But none of them is like Mr. Travers.
MRS. VERNON. No, thank God they ain't. Travers, Kate--[_Pause_]
Travers--[_Pause_] and, mind you, I've seen men before you was
born--Travers is as much like a gambler as any I ever saw.
KATE. [_Coming down._] Look here, mother--I've heard you say you had
to run away from home with father because your people didn't like
him--but that didn't make him any worse, did it?
MRS. VERNON. Well, it didn't make him any better, Kate, and I've
regretted it from the bottom of my heart a hundred times--I want you
to understand--[_Looks uneasily at door._] I've told it to him often
enough--[_Lowering voice._] And if he was here I'd tell him again
now--that I could ha' married a doctor.
LIZBETH. You're not calculatin' to run away with Travers, are you,
KATE. You know I'm not, Lizbeth--but I think you and mother might be a
little more considerate in what you say. I try to make the place tidy
and nice for your evenings with Dave, don't I?
LIZBETH. Well, I didn't mean nothin', Kate.
KATE. And I do my share of the housework. [_Goes to window. As her
voice trembles,_ MRS. VERNON _signals silence to_ LIZBETH.
MRS. VERNON. Of course you do, dear. Lizbeth, you oughtn't to be so
thoughtless in what you say.
_Enter_ DAVE _with beer._
DAVE. Here you are, Mrs. Vernon.
MRS. VERNON. Thank you, Dave--ask that old man in there if he'll have
DAVE. Yes'm. [_Exit to shop._
MRS. VERNON. We'll clear the place right up, Kate--don't feel bad
KATE. You needn't, mother--if Mr. Travers calls, we can go walking.
[_Goes to door._
MRS. VERNON. No, Kate, and I say it only fur your sake--I wouldn't
have the people of Bowling Green see you trapsing the streets at night
with a man you ain't knowed but a month, fur nothin'.
_Enter_ JOE VERNON. JOE _is a six-footer, with full beard. He wears a
leather apron and has his sleeves rolled up._
JOE. Dave says, ma, that--
MRS. VERNON. Yes, here it is. [_Hands glass of beer._] Nearly dead,
JOE. [_Smiling._] Oh, no--but I kin stand this.
KATE. Is there any objection to our spending the evening at Mrs.
MRS. VERNON. Now, what's the attraction there?
KATE. She has a piano.
MRS. VERNON. Yes, with two teeth broke out of it. Why don't you ever
play on the melodeon? [_Pointing to it._
JOE. Yes, after Jim givin' it to you.
MRS. VERNON. [_Clearing up the ironing._] I wouldn't treat a dog the
way you treat Jim Radburn, Kate.
KATE silent at doorway.
JOE. [_At the wash-basin on the bench at back wall._] Ma, where's the
MRS. VERNON. I must a-left it in the dish-pan.
JOE _gets it and begins washing in tin basin._
JOE. [_Calling through sputter._] Dave!
DAVE. [_Off._] Yes, sir.
JOE. [_At door of shop._] Might as well shut up.
DAVE. All right.
BOLLINGER. [_Outside to the left._] Good-evening, Katie.
KATE. Good-evening, Colonel.
BOLLINGER. Rain seems to let up. Where's pa? [_Appears window._
JOE. [_Looking up from the basin._] Hello, Tom.
BOLLINGER. Evening, Joe--Mrs. Vernon--Hello, Lizbeth.
LIZBETH. [_Again in the rocker._] Hello, Colonel.
BOLLINGER. Jis' through?
JOE. Been puttin' in a little overtime.
BOLLINGER. Reckon you'll have another job.
JOE. How's that?
BOLLINGER. Louisiana stage bust a tire on the near fore-wheel
JOE. That's so? Look out--jus' a minute. [BOLLINGER _steps aside;_ JOE
_throws water out of the window._] There, ma--don't say I lost it now.
[_Throws soap back into dish-pan._] How'd she come to do that?
BOLLINGER. Too big a load, I guess--then the rain's cut up the road
so, and she were stuck in a rut, an' all of 'em pryin' at her with
JOE. Somethin' had to come.
MRS. VERNON. [_Sits at table and fans._] Won't you come in?
BOLLINGER. No, thank you. Too hot. Down to Louisiana on
business--sweat clean through two paper collars. This'n's getting
mealy. [_He wipes his neck._
JOE. 'J-ever see such weather. [_Punches_ LIZBETH _to get out of
rocker; sits in her place._ LIZBETH _goes to the melodeon stool._
BOLLINGER. Not since I was born. I hope the blamed rain's over. All
passenger trains holdin' down to eight mile an hour 'tween St. Charles
and Jonesburg on the Wabash on 'count of the wash-outs.
JOE. Why don't they ballast that air track?
BOLLINGER. Too stingy, I reckon. Say, Joe, if you git through the
convention, and they send you up to Jeff City, you'll have to jump on
JOE. Well, how do things look for the convention?
BOLLINGER. Well, down Louisiana way looks about six and half a dozen.
You wouldn't have any trouble at all, if we could get Radburn out o'
JOE. Well, I ain't got no right to ask him to do that.
KATE. [_From the doorway._] Do you mean, Colonel, that Mr. Radburn's
following will be a serious opposition to father's nomination?
BOLLINGER. Well, it looks that way, Kate.
KATE. Is there a chance of Mr. Radburn's getting the nomination?
BOLLINGER. Yes, I should say it was a stand-off atween him an' the
Guv'nor, but I'm a-rootin' for your pa.
MRS. VERNON. Well, I can't see what right Jim Radburn has got to be as
strong with the Democracy as Joe Vernon. [_Crosses to dish-pan._
JOE. You can't say nothin' against Jim, ma.
MRS. VERNON. I ain't. I'm just askin'.
BOLLINGER. Well, you see Jim's bein' sheriff four terms, an' never
MRS. VERNON. Why, he's shot fifty!
BOLLINGER. Well, I meant never killin' nobody, has naturally endeared
him to the peaceable element in the community. Jim has always said,
and stuck to it, that a sheriff who couldn't wing a prisoner without
killin' him, was a nuisance--and you take his record, and go clean
through it, you'll find out this one thing. If a man was runnin', Jim
fetched him in the leg. If he pulled a gun on him, Jim smashed that
hand. And he says, "You ain't got a right to kill another man, unless
that man draws two guns at the same time."
JOE. Yes, I reckon Jim's the gamest we ever had.
BOLLINGER. He came up on the stage to-night from Louisiana.
JOE. Was he "'lectioneering" down there?
BOLLINGER. No, I ain't heerd of him makin' no canvass. He was helpin'
me to collect testimony.
MRS. VERNON. Testimony? What fur?
BOLLINGER. Sam Fowler. You know that Express Co. is holdin' him
JOE. Thought you was goin' to get a habus corpus?
BOLLINGER. Well, I was; only I went to St. Louis yesterday to see Sam.
He's all right. They've got 'im in a comfortable room at the Southern
Hotel, an' they are tryin' to make him confess that he stood in with
the express robber. He's livin' on the fat of the land, so I told him
to stick it out as long as the company did, 'cause the longer they
hold him, the more damages we'll get for false imprisonment. So Jim
Radburn an' me been fillin' in the time, gettin' witnesses to his good
MRS. VERNON. What's Radburn got to do with it?
BOLLINGER. Well, you know--on account o' Emily.
MRS. VERNON. Oh, yes! I reckon that'll put off their weddin', won't
BOLLINGER. I'm tryin' to fix it that way, so's to pile up the damages.
KATE. [Quickly.] Ma!
MRS. VERNON. What is it, Kate?
MRS. VERNON. Company?
MRS. VERNON. Here, Lizbeth, take hold this basket _They carry out
KATE. Good-evening, Mr. Travers.
TRAVERS _appears at door._
TRAVERS. Good-evening, Miss Vernon--good-evening, Colonel.
TRAVERS. The rain seems to be over at last. [_He fans himself with his
BOLLINGER. I reckon we'll have some more of it with that ring around
TRAVERS. [_Coming into doorway._] Anything new about the express
robber?--Good-evening, Mr. Vernon.
JOE. [_Up to stove; tries bottle._] How are you?
BOLLINGER. I ain't heard anything 'cept what's in the morning papers.
TRAVERS. What was that? I didn't see them.
BOLLINGER. Why, the blamed cuss has mailed one of the empty
money-wrappers to the _Globe-Democrat_ to show he's the real robber,
and sent a letter sayin' Sam Fowler was innocent.
TRAVERS. Yes? Well, did that do any good?
BOLLINGER. On the contrary, sir, the express company says he wouldn't
be so anxious about Sam--if Sam weren't a friend of his'n.
_Re-enter_ MRS. VERNON _and_ LIZBETH. LIZBETH _to rocker._
MRS. VERNON. [_Pleasantly._] Good-evening, Mr. Travers.
TRAVERS. Good-evening, Mrs. Vernon--Miss Elizabeth.
MRS. VERNON. Hasn't Kate had the politeness to ask you in?
TRAVERS. Well, it's a little cooler out here.
KATE. Won't you come in?
MRS. VERNON. Do come--the skeeters'll kill you out there.
JOE. Don't sit there. I just splashed some water there, an' it'ud spot
them pants scandalous. [_Down to melodeon._
MRS. VERNON. Lizbeth, give Mr. Travers the rocker.
LIZBETH _to bench._
TRAVERS. Oh, no, I beg of you.
MRS. VERNON. Yes, it's the most comfortable. [_Places the rocker for
him._] Vernon there had to put his feet through it yesterday, fixin'
the stove pipe, and they ain't been no furniture man along to mend it,
though he ginerally comes Fridays.
TRAVERS. Thank you. [_Sits;_ KATE _to chair at table;_ MRS. VERNON _to
JIM. [_Off._] Hello, Bollinger, can't I shake you?
BOLLINGER. Well, looks like you was doin' the followin'--ha, ha!
JOE. Is that Jim?
BOLLINGER. Yes--comin' here--[_Calls._] You ain't got that cripple
with you yit?
JIM. Yes--where do you think I'd leave him?
_Enter_ JIM RADBURN _from right to door, with small yellow dog in his
arms. One front paw is tied up._
JOE. Hello, Jim, what's that you got there?
JIM. Er--a--his leg's broke.
JOE. [_Laughing._] Didn't pull a gun on you, did he?
JIM. The blamed fool dropped a fence-rail on him. Good-eve'n'g, Kate.
KATE. Good-evening, Jim.
MRS. VERNON. 'Tain't one o' Beauty's pups, is it?
JIM. No, 'tain't no dog o' mine. Jes' follered me--run after the
stage--then, when she was stuck in the mud, Bill Sarber dropped a rail
he was prying with, and--broke his poor little leg.
BOLLINGER. Sarber's the awkwardest cuss anyhow.
MRS. VERNON. Always was.
BOLLINGER. Then he laffed, and Jim made him 'pologize to everybody in
JIM. [_Looking about._] What you been doin' to the room?
JOE. [_Proudly._] Took out the partition.
JIM. I see. Makin' some improvements. Looks bully, don't it?
JOE. Makes the dinin'-room bigger, an' gives more space in the
kitchen. Saves steps for ma.
MRS. VERNON. [_Approaching dog._] What kind of a poultice's that?
MRS. VERNON. Gumbo?
BOLLINGER. That's what they call that soft mud the river leaves down
there when it rises--gumbo.
JIM. It's only a cushion so the joltin' wouldn't hurt him. I just been
with him to Clark's drug-store. [_To front._] Clark said he wasn't a
JOE. Wouldn't 'tend to him, eh?
JIM. No--but I'll square it with him. He's up for coroner.
[_Starts for shop--stops_.] I told him that a man what'd see a little
dumb animal suffer ought to be drummed out of town. Is Dave there?
JIM. Well, we'll splinter this leg ourselves. [_Going_.
TRAVERS. Why don't you kill him, and put him out of misery?
JIM. [_Pause in door_.] Kill this little dog that took a fancy to me,
and followed the stage when I got in it!
TRAVERS. Yes--why not?
JIM. [_After appealing look to the others; then back to_ TRAVERS.]
Why, I never killed a man. [_Exit into shop_; JOE, MRS. VERNON,
LIZBETH, _follow laughing_.
TRAVERS. [_Going to table_.] What did he say?
KATE. That he never killed a man.
TRAVERS. Well, neither have I. Is that an unusual reputation in Pike
KATE. It is for one who, like Mr. Radburn, carries seven bullets in
his own' body, fired there by men he was arresting.
TRAVERS. I've heard he was very fond of you.
KATE. [_Turning away_.] Don't talk of that.
TRAVERS. May I talk of _my_ love for you?
KATE. [_Turning_.] Yes.
TRAVERS. You are not happy here.
KATE. I feel it is unworthy in me to say that I am not.
TRAVERS. Yet, you are not--
KATE. The narrowness of the life oppresses me. I do not live in their
world of work and humble wishes--they made the mistake of sending
me away to school. I have seen a bigger world than theirs. [_Turns,
elbows on table; impulsively_.] I like you, Mr. Travers, because you
are a part of that bigger world.
TRAVERS. You like me, Kate! Only like? No more?
KATE. I don't know.
TRAVERS. Will you go with me--away from here, into that bigger world?
KATE. Not until I am sure it is you for whom I go, and not merely for
TRAVERS. How will you ever tell?
KATE. Some accident will teach me. It is a dreadful moment, isn't
it, when we learn that kinship, the truest kinship, is not a thing
of blood, but of ideas--my college mates, who thought as I did, were
nearer to me than my family, who never can think as I do.
_Enter_ MRS. VERNON.
MRS. VERNON. I never see such a hero as that little dog--he jis'
seemed to know they was helpin' him when they pulled them poor bones
together--jes' look how quiet he stands--whinnered a little, but
didn't holler 'tall. [TRAVERS _goes up to door_.
KATE. [_Aside_.] That is enough to make the man despise me! [_Goes
back to table_.
TRAVERS. [_Going up_.] Oh, yes--he knows he's among friends.
MRS. VERNON. [_Looking into shop_.] Now I say they's lots of folks of
education what ain't got as much sense as that dog.
TRAVERS _comes down._
KATE. Let us go walking. I can't breathe in here.
TRAVERS. With pleasure.
MRS. VERNON. Where you goin', Kate?
KATE. Only outside the door--[_At door_.] to the corner.
MRS. VERNON. [_Doubtingly_.] Well--[_Going centre. Exeunt_, TRAVERS
_and_ KATE--_positively._] Well, I don't care who hears me--[_Looks
cautiously out_.] I don't like his looks.
MRS. VERNON. What?
JOE. Ain't you got some soup-meat or sompthin' you kin spare that
MRS. VERNON. Well, if his leg's broke, he better not have no meat or
stuff that'd feed a fever. If yew kin drink your second cup in the
mornin' without milk, I kin spare him some o' that.
JOE. All right.
MRS. VERNON. [_Scolding_.] An' the milk's hangin' in the cistern.
[_Takes cup from back wall_.] Plague take it! Woman's work's never
JOE. [_After a moment_.] I s'pose I could a got it. [_Calls_.]
LIZBETH. [_Off_.] Yes. [_Enters_.
JOE. [_Scolding_.] Why don't you help your poor ma? She's had to go
after the milk.
LIZBETH. [_Angrily meeting_ JOE'S _tone_.] Well, I didn't know it.
[_Exit after_ MRS. VERNON.
JOE. [_Getting alarm-clock. Calls into shop_.] Dave!
DAVE. [_Off_.] Yes.
JOE. [_At door_.] You don't need him, Jim?
JIM. [_Off_.] No.
JOE. [_Leaving door_.] See here--[_Enter_ DAVE.] Kin you run one o'
DAVE. I allow I kin.
JOE. [_Hands clock to_ DAVE.] Then set her an hour earlier, and have
things fired up in the mornin'. We've got to weld that Louisiana tire,
I reckon, afore breakfast.
DAVE. All right.
_Enter_ MRS. VERNON _and_ LIZBETH.
MRS. VERNON. Here, Joe--[_Hands cup_.] Git to feedin' it. I'll git
attached to it, an' we've got too many dogs now.
JOE. [_Caressing her with rough push on the face_.] I know you,
ma--you're the motherin'est old hen in Pike--[_Going_.] If he don't
drink this I'll drowned him.
MRS. VERNON. [_To street door_.] Now, Lizbeth, I don't see nothin' of
Kate. She's out there with Travers--you an' Dave kind o' hang round
like you was with 'em.
LIZBETH. Come, Dave. [_To_ MRS. VERNON.] Jes' not let on?
MRS. VERNON. Yes--purtendin'.
DAVE. All right. [_Exit after_ LIZBETH.
JOE. [_Entering door_.] Jes' look at him, ma--he's got his eyebrows in
MRS. VERNON. [_At door; leans on_ JOE'S _shoulder_.] The darlin'--jes'
to think, Joe, if one of our children was sufferin'--
JOE. [_With unction_.] You bet.
MRS. VERNON. [_Earnestly calls_.] Don't let him splash it on you,
Jim--'t'll spot your clothes.
JOE. [_Pauses admiringly_.] Jim don't care a durn.
MRS. VERNON. There, I'll fix his bed. [_Getting coats from peg, back
wall_.] What's a man know, anyhow? [_Exit to shop_.
JOE. [_Gets tobacco from shelf_.] She'll fix him all right--ha, ha!
JIM. [_Entering, looking back_.] Say, Joe, women are great, ain't
they? [_Stands admiringly in doorway_.
JOE. [_Slowly coming down, filling pipe_.] Jim! [_Pause_. JIM _doesn't
answer, only looks at_ JOE.] You an' me--[_Turns quickly and looks
at_ JIM.] You an' me are goin' into the convention together? [JIM
_nods once, and chews slowly_.] Agin each other. [JIM _nods and chews.
Pause_.] Smoke? [_Offers pipe_.
JIM. [_Takes cud from mouth; hesitates--returns it_.] Chew.
JOE. Set down. [_They sit_. JIM _left of table_--JOE _to the right
in rocker_.] There's somethin' I want to say to you jes' between
_Enter_ MRS. VERNON.
MRS. VERNON. [_Comes back of table between the men_.] I reckon he's
JOE. Jim an' me's talkin' a minute, ma.
MRS. VERNON. [_Reassuredly_.] Well, I got my work. [_Exit_.
JOE. Jim--[JIM _looks at him_.] I been a figurin' an' I've calculated
they's a difference of about $600 'tween you an' me.
JIM. [_Placidly_.] How?
JOE. [_Rising, and closing door. Returns_.] When my Kate got through
the public school, you said she ought to go to college. [JIM _nods_.]
I didn't think so--I admit now I was a durn fool. [JIM _nods_.] You
said she had to go--an' she went--to Linenwood. [JIM _chews_.] When
she come back she taught me everything I know--I don't think I could
go afore this convention if it wasn't for what Kate's learned me--Jim,
I'm ashamed to say so, but I let you pay her schoolin'--I've figured
out it's a round six hundred dollars--an' I'm goin' to pay you every--
JIM. [_Impressively points at him with his whole hand_.] See here--
[_After a fateful pause, rises_.] Don't you ever say that to me agen.
JOE. [_Half-rising, anxiously_.] Why, Jim?
JIM. [_Turning. Threatens_.] Never.
JOE. Tain't nothin' to make trouble 'tween us, Jim.
JIM. [_Pauses--growls slowly_.] Whatever I done--was done--have you
ever said a word to her about it?
JOE. Nobody knows it, Jim, but you an' me.
JIM. Man to man?
JOE. Man to man.
JIM. [_Slightly relieved_.] Well, I done it fur her--an' whenever I
hear her purty voice--soft an' low like verses out of a book--whenever
I look at her face--purtier than them pictures they put in the
cigar-boxes--and her hands soft and baby-like--I feel 'way down here
that I helped do some of that. An' do you think, Joe Vernon, that I'd
sell out? No, sir, not by a damned sight!
JOE. But look here, Jim, think of me. We're going in that convention
together--agin each other--for the same office, and if you was to
JIM. [_Sharp turn._] _Tell!_ Don't move--but jus' draw breath enough
to take that back.
JOE. [_Putting out his hand._] Jim!
JIM. [_Pause._] Why, if anybody'd said you could a _thought_ them
JOE. [_Pleadingly._] _Jim!_
JIM. [_Long pause._] Well, there--[_Takes_ JOE'S _hand._
_Enter_ MRS. VERNON.
MRS. VERNON. [_Nervously._] Joe, I've a notion to holler to Kate to
run home. I don't like her walkin' with that man.
JOE. What man?
MRS. VERNON. Why, Travers. I don't know what Kate sees in him.
[_Returns to door._
JIM. [_Comfortingly._] Well, he's a city chap, and Kate's so smart
about them things. Joe, how old is Kate?
JOE. Twenty, ain't she, ma?
MRS. VERNON. [_In street door._] Lor, no--we ain't been _married_ but
JOE. Seems longer'n that to me.
JIM _looks at him, crossing to melodeon, shaking head._
JIM. How old is she, Mrs. Vernon?
MRS. VERNON. They's fourteen months difference 'tween her an' Lizbeth.
JIM _looks at_ JOE _again._
JIM. Well, I've knowed her so long, she always seems jes' a little
child to me--but Kate's old enough to be thinkin' o' gettin' married,
MRS. VERNON. I was mother of two young uns when I was as old as Kate.
JIM _looks at_ JOE _again._ JOE _is a mixture of pride and apology._
JIM. [_Leans over back of chair._] You know, if I had my way, I'd like
Kate to see _everything_. Go to St. Louis, and Europe, an' travel.
I've often thought I'd like to be well enough off to take Kate an'
jes' do nothin' but travel for a whole summer.
MRS. VERNON. Oh, folks'd talk about it, Jim.
JIM. Why, I mean married--if Kate'd have me.
MRS. VERNON. Oh!
JOE. [_Explainingly._] Of course--'fore they started.
JIM _looks at_ JOE _in amused disgust._
JIM. An' you know, Mrs. Vernon, I've had it on the tip of my tongue a
dozen times to ask her.
MRS. VERNON. [_Reflectively._] Well,--it might be the best thing that
could happen to her. [_Pause._] Kate's been awful restless lately.
JOE. [_Heartily._] An' she likes you, Jim, better'n anybody.
JIM. Why, I used to think so, Joe, but since this feller's been in
town--[_Slowly crosses and sits on table._
MRS. VERNON. Pshaw--I'll bet that mustach of his'n is dyed.
JOE. Don't think about him, Jim, 'cause, if it comes to that, I'll put
my foot down.
JIM. Not if Kate liked him.
JOE. Yes, no matter who liked him.
JIM. But I'd want her to like me.
JOE. Well, she does.
JIM. You think so.
JIM. Dog gone it! I'd swap my poney for a trottin' horse, an' git one
of them two-wheeled carts an' practice in it till I wasn't seasick,
and me an' Kate of a Sunday--say--driving through Bowling Green!
MRS. VERNON. [_Grinning in admiration._] Why, Jim!
JIM. [_Growing with his vision._] An' I'd run that south pyazza all
around the house,--and dog gone it--_we'd have a hired girl._
MRS. VERNON. [_Starting something._] That's the way to treat a woman,
Joe Vernon, an' if you hadn't been brought up in Galloway County--
JOE. [_Completing._] Why, Jim, when we was fust married she was so
jealous we couldn't _keep_ a hired girl.
MRS. VERNON. [_Waving a hand at him._] I've got bravely over it. You
kin _git_ one now.
JOE. Well--we don't need one _now_.
KATE. No, I'm not offended, Lizbeth, but it isn't kind.
JOE. What's the matter?
LIZBETH _and_ DAVE _appear outside of door and disappear slowly._
KATE. Nothing. [_Crossing right of rocker._] Jim--
KATE. You and father are trying for the Legislature? [JIM _nods._] A
nomination in this county is as good as an election, isn't it?
JOE. [_Explaining._] On our ticket.
KATE. You have been very kind to me--kinder than any man I
know--you've stood up for me; and you've given me lots of handsome
KATE. You have been very kind--I like your sister Emily--as well as if
she were my _own_ sister--but Joe Vernon's my _father_--he's an older
man than you are--
MRS. VERNON. [_Butting in._] Well, if he wasn't--KATE. Wait, mother--
[_To JIM._] I shall work for him. [JIM _nods._] In every possible
way--I know a good many of these delegates--I know their wives--I
shall see them.
JIM. [_Pause._] Does politics make any difference to you, Kate?
KATE. His election does. It means a step out of this life, a breath
away from the shop--it means a broader horizon for me--[_Turns away,
overcome by her feelings._
JIM. [_Pause._] Well, Joe--I went in this thing to _win_--
JOE. Don't mind her, Jim.
JIM. I went in it to win--my friends kind a put it that way--an' it
seems I ought to do my best for _them_--but--I wish you luck, old
man,--I wouldn't take the nomination now--I didn't think Kate cared.
SCENE. VERNON'S _blacksmith shop, adjoining his living-room. Forge.
Door to living-room above forge. Bellows down stage below forge. Bench
with vise at left. Big double doors. Trusses. Tub of water back of
DISCOVERED. JOE _and_ CAL _beating weld of tire;_ ESROM, _a
half-witted negro, absently playing jew's-harp on trusses._
JOE. [_Wearing boots and leather apron._] Hand me the traveller.
[HELPER _hands it, and drops tire horizontally on anvil, while_
JOE _runs traveller around it inside._] Jes' the same size--give it
another heat an' we'll beat her out a quarter inch. [_Crosses to left
centre._ HELPER _puts tire into fire and works bellows._] Esrom!
ESROM. Yes, sah.
JOE. I'm purty busy now, an' that tune--can't you let up till I'm
ESROM. Yes, sah.
JOE. An' while you're resting you might bring another bucket o' water
an' dump it in this tub.
ESROM. [_Going._] Yes, sah--don't you really want to buy any mo' coke?
JOE. Not this morning, Esrom. [_Exit_ ESROM _with jew's-harp,
playing._] Ready? [_Takes tire from fire and hammers weld out--when
pounding is done, traveller runs over it as before. Enter_ MRS.
MRS. VERNON. Joe, can't you leave that now?
JOE. Course I can't, ma--it's Louisiana time now.
MRS. VERNON. Well, the breakfast's spilin'. [_Exit._
JOE. [_Calling._] Well, it's Dave an' his durned alarm-clock--if I'd
let Kate set it--I guess she's all right now, Cal. [HELPER _puts tire
in fire--last heating._ JOE _goes to trusses and lays wheel square.
Enter_ SARBER. SARBER _wears linen duster and boots, and carries a
whip._] Hello, Bill.
SARBER. [_Down_] Hello, Joe--mighty nigh time. [_Looking at watch._
JOE. Won't be a minute longer--soon as we stretch her a little and
drop her over this bunch of bones--
SARBER. [_Examining wheel._] Hello, Cal? [HELPER _nods._] Fellers
JOE. Nothin' ain't hurt. [_Enter_ ESROM _with water._] This wheel's
got as purty a dish as I ever see.
SARBER. Don't know why the durned weld broke.
JOE. Them steel tires are hard to make fast sometimes--
ESROM. Right heah, Joe.
JOE. Let her go.
ESROM _pours water into tub._
ESROM. [_Coaxingly._] No coke dis mawnin'?
JOE. No. [ESROM _exits._ _To_ SARBER, _pointing to dog under bench._]
Ever see that chap before?
SARBER. The dog?
SARBER. Is that the same one I dropped the rail on?
JOE. [_Nods._] Me an' Jim put his leg in splinters last night.
SARBER. [_Shaking head and smiling._] Jim!
JOE. [_Pointing to coach._] Looks like you been in the real estate
SARBER. Wall, yes--we took a turn or two at it.
BOLLINGER. Hello, Sarber, when's your ingine start?
SARBER. Joe's fixin' one of her drivers.
JOE. [_Looking towards forge._] Won't be a minute, Tom.
BOLLINGER. Everybody waiting at the drug-store--we want to go 'fore
it gets too hot,--folks says you're hanging back so Clark kin sell out
his sody water.
SARBER. [_Looking at watch._] Shake her up, Joe.
JOE. I guess we're ready. [_Two_ NEGROES _of a quartette enter and
stand idly about. Takes tire with_ HELPER.] Get out of the way.
[_Drops tire on wheel and adjusts it. Drives pin through one hole._
KELLY _enters, looks at coach, and nervously about._
JOE. What's new, Tom, about Sam Fowler?
BOLLINGER. [_Looking at work._] Papers say the company has let him go.
JOE. Scott free?
JOE. Then he'll have to pay his own board now.
BOLLINGER. I reckon.
JOE _and_ HELPER _carry wheel to tub and chill the tire._
SARBER. Think she'll stay now?
JOE. As soon as we get the bolts in her. [_Two other_ NEGROES _enter,
completing the male quartette. Enter_ TRAVERS.] Look out.
_They lift wheel to trusses and silently adjust bolts. As this takes
time, the_ NEGROES _fill in with songs._
TRAVERS. [_Coming down with_ KELLY.] Well, what's up?
KELLY. I'm goin' to skip on this stage.
KELLY. Too hot,--see papers?
KELLY. Well, young Sam Fowler will know you the minute he sees
you--and he's comin' back to-day.
TRAVERS. He can't get here till to-night, on account of the
wash-outs--I'm going to risk it.
KELLY. Well, I quit you.
TRAVERS. I risk more than you.
KELLY. All right, but you don't risk me. You went in the car, like a
blamed fool, without a thing on your face--
VILLAGERS _at door_.
TRAVERS. Be careful.
KELLY. Careful? I skip.
_They turn up right. Enter_ JIM.
BOLLINGER. Hello, Jim--Louisiana?
JIM. No. [_Kneels by dog-box._
SARBER. Hello, Jim?
JIM. Ain't you late?
SARBER. Joe's keeping me.
JIM. [_Pointing to door_.] Big load this mornin'?
SARBER. Yes, if they all go. [_Returns to wheel_. JIM _goes in house_.
KELLY. [_Coming down with_ TRAVERS.] You'd risk your neck for that
TRAVERS. I'm all right, Kelly. I'll get out to-night, but I've got to
see her first.
_They go up and exeunt._
BOLLINGER. [_Looking off carefully_.] I see Jim last night after we
left here. He says he's out of the race for Legislature.
JOE. That's what he says.
JOE. Well, what did _he_ say?
BOLLINGER. _Personal_ reasons.
JOE. Well, that goes--all right, Cal,--put her on now, an' let 'em get
_Wheel is done._ CAL _takes it up to coach_.
BOLLINGER. Well, you're jes' as good as elected then, Joe.
JOE. Think so?
BOLLINGER. Sure. See here. [_Aside_.] Folks down in Louisiana thinks
Jim will be the nominee. I'm goin' down to-day to bet fifteen or
twenty dollars he won't, 'fore they hear of it.
JOE. No promises.
BOLLINGER. No, sir-ee--put up, or shut up--I've got twenty-two and a
half in my pocket--some of it's Clark's, but blamed little.
_Re-enter_ JIM _with pan of milk--kneels by dog and feeds it_.
SARBER. Now stand out of the way there.
BOLLINGER. Goin', Bill?
SARBER. Soon as we hitch.
_They take wagon out._ BOLLINGER, KELLY, TRAVERS _and_ SARBER _go out
JOE. Come Cal--[CAL _turns_.] Hash! [CAL _exits_.] Breakfast, Jim.
JIM. Had it.
JOE. Come, set with us. [_Exit, followed by_ JIM.
TRAVERS. Kelly is right. I should go on that coach--but--I must see
Kate--they're at breakfast--if I only--yes, just a minute. [_Beckons_
KATE.] I wish that fellow wasn't here.
KATE. Mr. Travers.
TRAVERS. I should leave on that coach.
KATE. Do I keep you?
TRAVERS. Because when I leave Bowling Green now, I shall never come
KATE. You--you are jesting.
TRAVERS. In dead earnest. [_Slight clatter of dishes_--KATE _looks
off_.] Do you care for that man?
KATE. [_Coming down_.] I admire him. I think he is a good and a noble
TRAVERS. Better than I am.
KATE. He may be,--but--I don't love him--
TRAVERS. Do you love me?
SARBER. [_Off_.] All ready; get in.
KATE. The stage is going. [_She turns_.
TRAVERS. Do you love me?
SARBER. Get in.
TRAVERS. Do you?
KATE. [_Pause_.] Yes.
TRAVERS. Then let them leave--[SARBER _calling_ "git ap"--_and a whip
cracks. We hear stage--voices go_.] Will you go with me--to-night?
KATE. How--go with you?
TRAVERS. As my wife.
KATE. But why such haste? Why go as if we feared anything?
TRAVERS. I must go to-night. Great interests depend upon it. I know
your people don't like me, but I haven't time to humour them. Will you
KATE. Let me think till then.
TRAVERS. Yes,--good-bye till to-night. [_Holds her hand--she turns as
if to leave_.] Kate! Kate! Good-bye. [_Impulsive turn and embrace_.]
_Enter_ DAVE, _from breakfast_.
DAVE. Huh! [_Shortly; more a chuck than an exclamation. The lovers
start_.] Oh! Seminary!
DAVE. [_Embarrassed--nodding off_.] Breakfast.
KATE. Thank you. [_Exits_.
DAVE. [_Going to bench and beginning work on shaft with draw knife_.]
Well--Lizbeth don't know so blamed much about books--[_Shakes head_.]
But--huh--[_Shakes head again_.] I tell you--[_Works hard--enter_
LIZBETH _with pan, which she puts on forge_.
DAVE. [_Commanding_.] Come here, Lizbeth.
LIZBETH. [_Crosses to_ DAVE. _Pause_.] What? [_Falling inflection_.
DAVE. [_Cautiously, approving her_.] Why, dog gone it--[_Shakes
head_.] Huh! [_Swaggers_.] I tell you--[_Works_.
LIZBETH. [_Wonderingly_.] What's the matter?
DAVE. [_Threatening_.] If you was to say seminary to me--[_Swaggers_.]
LIZBETH. [_After pause_.] What?
DAVE. [_Ominously_.] Why, Lizbeth, the sooner we git married an' git
out o' this, the better.
LIZBETH. [_Hopelessly_.] Well, what kin I do?
DAVE. [_Working_.] Dog gone it--if I had a stidy job!
LIZBETH. [_Understandingly_.] I know that, Dave. [_Goes back to pan_.
DAVE. [_Bragging_.] An' you bet your _father_ knows it.
LIZBETH. [_Portentously_.] Well, I told _ma_--
DAVE. An' that's what he said. If I had a stidy job--
DAVE. Why, how de do?
LIZBETH. Can't you come in?
EM'LY. Who's there? [_Indicates kitchen_.
LIZBETH. Only the folks and Jim.
EM'LY. I want Jim--say--Sam's there. [_Off_.
LIZBETH. Sam Fowler!--Oh, ma--[_Exits_.
DAVE. Sam--why, see here. Sam! [_Goes up_.
SAM _enters. Wears express blue and a cap_.
EM'LY. [_Beckoning_.] Sam!
DAVE _brings_ SAM _down. Enter_ JOE, _followed by_ MRS. VERNON,
LIZBETH _and_ KATE.
JOE. [_Heartily_.] Sam, Sam, how are you?
SAM. [_Shaking hands_.] I didn't know how you'd feel about it.
MRS. VERNON. [_Shaking_.] Why, Lor', Sam--I'm glad--I'll bet Em'ly
KATE _and_ LIZBETH _shake hands with_ SAM. _Enter_ JIM--EM'LY _runs to
JIM _puts his left arm around_ EM'LY _and sits on anvil_.
SAM. [_Approaching and taking_ JIM'S _hand, smiling.] You_ didn't
think I done it, did you, Jim?
JIM. [_Nods at_ EM'LY.] No, not while _she's_ keepin' house for
EM'LY. He's _always_ stood up for you, Sam.
JOE. Well, tell us 'bout it, Sam. Did the papers have it right?
_They are a semi-circle about SAM._
SAM. Yes, purty near.
JOE. _Did_ you help the feller into your car?
SAM. Yes, we were just pulling out of the depot when he came a-runnin'
up to my side door with an order from the superintendent for me to
carry him as fur as Vinita. He ran alongside and put his hand up, so
of course I pulled him into the car.
EM'LY. Wasn't you scared, Sam?
SAM. Why, no--I thought he belonged to the company, and he went to
work with me, sorting and fixing my express stuff.
JOE. Well, I'm durned!
SAM. [_Intensely serious._] I joked with him--just like I'm joking
with you--he was one of the nicest fellows I ever saw.
JOE. [_Wide-eyed with gossip._] Don't that beat everything?
SAM. When we were eighteen or twenty miles out, an' I was stoopin'
this way over a box--I felt him on my back, and grabbing at my
arms--why, why--even then I thought he was jokin', and I looked around
laughin', and here was his gun pokin' right into my face.
MRS. VERNON. [_Haunted._] Just think of it!
JOE. Then he tied you.
SAM. What could I do? There was his gun--and I wasn't even on my
feet--anybody could tie a fellow that way--I could tie you, couldn't
I? [_To_ JIM.
JIM. If you had the gun?
JIM. Well, rather.
SAM. [_Indignantly._] The ropes cut clean through here at my wrists,
and there was a mark over one eye where I fell against the safe--and
then the company said I was an accomplice.
JOE. Then I s'pose he jis' deliberately packed his little valise full