This etext was produced by Charles Franks, Robert Rowe and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
A Play in Four Acts
By EUGENE O’NEILL
CHRIS. CHRISTOPHERSON, captain of the barge “Simeon Winthrop” MARTHY OWEN
ANNA CHRISTOPHERSON, Chris’s daughter THREE MEN OF A STEAMER’S CREW
MAT BURKE, a stoker
JOHNSON, deckhand on the barge
“Johnny-the-Priest’s” saloon near the waterfront. New York City.
The barge, Simeon Winthrop, at anchor in the harbor of Provincetown, Mass. Ten days later.
Cabin of the barge, at dock in Boston. A week later.
The same. Two days later.
Time of the Play–About 1910.
SCENE–“Johnny-The-Priest’s” saloon near South Street, New York City. The stage is divided into two sections, showing a small back room on the right. On the left, forward, of the barroom, a large window looking out on the street. Beyond it, the main entrance–a double swinging door. Farther back, another window. The bar runs from left to right nearly the whole length of the rear wall. In back of the bar, a small showcase displaying a few bottles of case goods, for which there is evidently little call. The remainder of the rear space in front of the large mirrors is occupied by half- barrels of cheap whiskey of the “nickel-a-shot” variety, from which the liquor is drawn by means of spigots. On the right is an open doorway leading to the back room. In the back room are four round wooden tables with five chairs grouped about each. In the rear, a family entrance opening on a side street.
It is late afternoon of a day in fall.
As the curtain rises, Johnny is discovered. “Johnny-The-Priest” deserves his nickname. With his pale, thin, clean-shaven face, mild blue eyes and white hair, a cassock would seem more suited to him than the apron he wears. Neither his voice nor his general manner dispel this illusion which has made him a personage of the water front. They are soft and bland. But beneath all his mildness one senses the man behind the mask–cynical, callous, hard as nails. He is lounging at ease behind the bar, a pair of spectacles on his nose, reading an evening paper.
Two longshoremen enter from the street, wearing their working aprons, the button of the union pinned conspicuously on the caps pulled sideways on their heads at an aggressive angle.
FIRST LONGSHOREMAN–[As they range themselves at the bar.] Gimme a shock. Number Two. [He tosses a coin on the bar.]
SECOND LONGSHOREMAN–Same here. [Johnny sets two glasses of barrel whiskey before them.]
FIRST LONGSHOREMAN–Here’s luck! [The other nods. They gulp down their whiskey.]
SECOND LONGSHOREMAN–[Putting money on the bar.] Give us another.
FIRST LONGSHOREMAN–Gimme a scoop this time–lager and porter. I’m dry.
SECOND LONGSHOREMAN–Same here. [Johnny draws the lager and porter and sets the big, foaming schooners before them. They drink down half the contents and start to talk together hurriedly in low tones. The door on the left is swung open and Larry enters. He is a boyish, red-cheeked, rather good-looking young fellow of twenty or so.]
LARRY–[Nodding to Johnny–cheerily.] Hello, boss.
JOHNNY–Hello, Larry. [With a glance at his watch.] Just on time. [LARRY goes to the right behind the bar, takes off his coat, and puts on an apron.]
FIRST LONGSHOREMAN–[Abruptly.] Let’s drink up and get back to it. [They finish their drinks and go out left. The POSTMAN enters as they leave. He exchanges nods with JOHNNY and throws a letter on the bar.]
THE POSTMAN–Addressed care of you, Johnny. Know him?
JOHNNY–[Picks up the letter, adjusting his spectacles. LARRY comes and peers over his shoulders. JOHNNY reads very slowly.] Christopher Christopherson.
THE POSTMAN–[Helpfully.] Square-head name.
LARRY–Old Chris–that’s who.
JOHNNY–Oh, sure. I was forgetting Chris carried a hell of a name like that. Letters come here for him sometimes before, I remember now. Long time ago, though.
THE POSTMAN–It’ll get him all right then?
JOHNNY–Sure thing. He comes here whenever he’s in port.
THE POSTMAN–[Turning to go.] Sailor, eh?
JOHNNY–[With a grin.] Captain of a coal barge.
THE POSTMAN–[Laughing.] Some job! Well, s’long.
JOHNNY–S’long. I’ll see he gets it. [The POSTMAN goes out. JOHNNY scrutinizes the letter.] You got good eyes, Larry. Where’s it from?
LARRY–[After a glance.] St. Paul. That’ll be in Minnesota, I’m thinkin’. Looks like a woman’s writing, too, the old divil! JOHNNY–He’s got a daughter somewheres out West, I think he told me once. [He puts the letter on the cash register.] Come to think of it, I ain’t seen old Chris in a dog’s age. [Putting his overcoat on, he comes around the end of the bar.] Guess I’ll be gettin’ home. See you to-morrow.
LARRY–Good-night to ye, boss. [As JOHNNY goes toward the street door, it is pushed open and CHRISTOPHER CHRISTOPHERSON enters. He is a short, squat, broad-shouldered man of about fifty, with a round, weather-beaten, red face from which his light blue eyes peer short-sightedly, twinkling with a simple good humor. His large mouth, overhung by a thick, drooping, yellow mustache, is childishly self-willed and weak, of an obstinate kindliness. A thick neck is jammed like a post into the heavy trunk of his body. His arms with their big, hairy, freckled hands, and his stumpy legs terminating in large flat feet, are awkwardly short and muscular. He walks with a clumsy, rolling gait. His voice, when not raised in a hollow boom, is toned down to a sly, confidential half-whisper with something vaguely plaintive in its quality. He is dressed in a wrinkled, ill-fitting dark suit of shore clothes, and wears a faded cap of gray cloth over his mop of grizzled, blond hair. Just now his face beams with a too-blissful happiness, and he has evidently been drinking. He reaches his hand out to JOHNNY.]
CHRIS–Hello, Yohnny! Have drink on me. Come on, Larry. Give us drink. Have one yourself. [Putting his hand in his pocket.] Ay gat money–plenty money.
JOHNNY–[Shakes CHRIS by the hand.] Speak of the devil. We was just talkin’ about you.
LARRY–[Coming to the end of the bar.] Hello, Chris. Put it there. [They shake hands.]
CHRIS–[Beaming.] Give us drink.
JOHNNY–[With a grin.] You got a half-snootful now. Where’d you get it?
CHRIS–[Grinning.] Oder fallar on oder barge–Irish fallar–he gat bottle vhiskey and we drank it, yust us two. Dot vhiskey gat kick, by yingo! Ay yust come ashore. Give us drink, Larry. Ay vas little drunk, not much. Yust feel good. [He laughs and commences to sing in a nasal, high-pitched quaver.]
“My Yosephine, come board de ship. Long time Ay vait for you.
De moon, she shi-i-i-ine. She looka yust like you. Tchee-tchee, tchee-tchee, tchee-tchee, tchee-tchee.”
[To the accompaniment of this last he waves his hand as if he were conducting an orchestra.]
JOHNNY–[With a laugh.] Same old Yosie, eh, Chris?
CHRIS–You don’t know good song when you hear him. Italian fallar on oder barge, he learn me dat. Give us drink. [He throws change on the bar.]
LARRY–[With a professional air.] What’s your pleasure, gentlemen?
JOHNNY–Small beer, Larry.
LARRY–[As he gets their drinks.] I’ll take a cigar on you.
CHRIS–[Lifting his glass.] Skoal! [He drinks.]
CHRIS–[Immediately.] Have oder drink.
JOHNNY–No. Some other time. Got to go home now. So you’ve just landed? Where are you in from this time?
CHRIS–Norfolk. Ve make slow voyage–dirty vedder–yust fog, fog, fog, all bloody time! [There is an insistent ring from the doorbell at the family entrance in the back room. Chris gives a start–hurriedly.] Ay go open, Larry. Ay forgat. It vas Marthy. She come with me. [He goes into the back room.]
LARRY–[With a chuckle.] He’s still got that same cow livin’ with him, the old fool!
JOHNNY–[With a grin.] A sport, Chris is. Well, I’ll beat it home. S’long. [He goes to the street door.]
LARRY–So long, boss.
JOHNNY–Oh–don’t forget to give him his letter.
LARRY–I won’t. [JOHNNY goes out. In the meantime, CHRIS has opened the family entrance door, admitting MARTHY. She might be forty or fifty. Her jowly, mottled face, with its thick red nose, is streaked with interlacing purple veins. Her thick, gray hair is piled anyhow in a greasy mop on top of her round head. Her figure is flabby and fat; her breath comes in wheezy gasps; she speaks in a loud, mannish voice, punctuated by explosions of hoarse laughter. But there still twinkles in her blood-shot blue eyes a youthful lust for life which hard usage has failed to stifle, a sense of humor mocking, but good-tempered. She wears a man’s cap, double-breasted man’s jacket, and a grimy, calico skirt. Her bare feet are encased in a man’s brogans several sizes too large for her, which gives her a shuffling, wobbly gait.]
MARTHY–[Grumblingly.] What yuh tryin’ to do, Dutchy–keep me standin’ out there all day? [She comes forward and sits at the table in the right corner, front.]
CHRIS–[Mollifyingly.] Ay’m sorry, Marthy. Ay talk to Yohnny. Ay forgat. What you goin’ take for drink?
MARTHY–[Appeased.] Gimme a scoop of lager an’ ale.
CHRIS–Ay go bring him back. [He returns to the bar.] Lager and ale for Marthy, Larry. Vhiskey for me. [He throws change on the bar.]
LARRY–Right you are. [Then remembering, he takes the letter from in back of the bar.] Here’s a letter for you–from St. Paul, Minnesota–and a lady’s writin’. [He grins.]
CHRIS–[Quickly–taking it.] Oh, den it come from my daughter, Anna. She live dere. [He turns the letter over in his hands uncertainly.] Ay don’t gat letter from Anna–must be a year.
LARRY–[Jokingly.] That’s a fine fairy tale to be tellin’–your daughter! Sure I’ll bet it’s some bum.
CHRIS–[Soberly.] No. Dis come from Anna. [Engrossed by the letter in his hand–uncertainly.] By golly, Ay tank Ay’m too drunk for read dis letter from Anna. Ay tank Ay sat down for a minute. You bring drinks in back room, Larry. [He goes into the room on right.]
MARTHY–[Angrily.] Where’s my lager an’ ale, yuh big stiff?
CHRIS–[Preoccupied.] Larry bring him. [He sits down opposite her. LARRY brings in the drinks and sets them on the table. He and MARTHY exchange nods of recognition. LARRY stands looking at CHRIS curiously. MARTHY takes a long draught of her schooner and heaves a huge sigh of satisfaction, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. CHRIS stares at the letter for a moment–slowly opens it, and, squinting his eyes, commences to read laboriously, his lips moving as he spells out the words. As he reads his face lights up with an expression of mingled joy and bewilderment.]
MARTHY–[Her curiosity also aroused.] What’s that yuh got–a letter, fur Gawd’s sake?
CHRIS–[Pauses for a moment, after finishing the letter, as if to let the news sink in–then suddenly pounds his fist on the table with happy excitement.] Py yiminy! Yust tank, Anna say she’s comin’ here right avay! She gat sick on yob in St. Paul, she say. It’s short letter, don’t tal me much more’n dat. [Beaming.] Py golly, dat’s good news all at one time for ole fallar! [Then turning to MARTHY, rather shamefacedly.] You know, Marthy, Ay’ve tole you Ay don’t see my Anna since she vas little gel in Sveden five year ole.
MARTHY–How old’ll she be now?
CHRIS–She must be–lat me see–she must be twenty year ole, py Yo!
LARRY–[Surprised.] You’ve not seen her in fifteen years?
CHRIS–[Suddenly growing somber–in a low tone.] No. Ven she vas little gel, Ay vas bo’sun on vindjammer. Ay never gat home only few time dem year. Ay’m fool sailor fallar. My voman–Anna’s mother–she gat tired vait all time Sveden for me ven Ay don’t never come. She come dis country, bring Anna, dey go out Minnesota, live with her cousins on farm. Den ven her mo’der die ven Ay vas on voyage, Ay tank it’s better dem cousins keep Anna. Ay tank it’s better Anna live on farm, den she don’t know dat ole davil, sea, she don’t know fader like me.
LARRY–[With a wink at MARTHY.] This girl, now, ‘ll be marryin’ a sailor herself, likely. It’s in the blood.
CHRIS–[Suddenly springing to his feet and smashing his fist on the table in a rage.] No, py God! She don’t do dat!
MARTHY–[Grasping her schooner hastily–angrily.] Hey, look out, yuh nut! Wanta spill my suds for me?
LARRY–[Amazed.] Oho, what’s up with you? Ain’t you a sailor yourself now, and always been?
CHRIS–[Slowly.] Dat’s yust vhy Ay say it. [Forcing a smile.] Sailor vas all right fallar, but not for marry gel. No. Ay know dat. Anna’s mo’der, she know it, too.
LARRY–[As CHRIS remains sunk in gloomy reflection.] When is your daughter comin’? Soon?
CHRIS–[Roused.] Py yiminy, Ay forgat. [Reads through the letter hurriedly.] She say she come right avay, dat’s all.
LARRY–She’ll maybe be comin’ here to look for you, I s’pose. [He returns to the bar, whistling. Left alone with MARTHY, who stares at him with a twinkle of malicious humor in her eyes, CHRIS suddenly becomes desperately ill-at-ease. He fidgets, then gets up hurriedly.]
CHRIS–Ay gat speak with Larry. Ay be right back. [Mollifyingly.] Ay bring you oder drink.
MARTHY–[Emptying her glass.] Sure. That’s me. [As he retreats with the glass she guffaws after him derisively.]
CHRIS–[To LARRY in an alarmed whisper.] Py yingo, Ay gat gat Marthy shore off barge before Anna come! Anna raise hell if she find dat out. Marthy raise hell, too, for go, py golly!
LARRY–[With a chuckle.] Serve ye right, ye old divil–havin’ a woman at your age!
CHRIS–[Scratching his head in a quandary.] You tal me lie for tal Marthy, Larry, so’s she gat off barge quick.
LARRY–She knows your daughter’s comin’. Tell her to get the hell out of it.
CHRIS–No. Ay don’t like make her feel bad.
LARRY–You’re an old mush! Keep your girl away from the barge, then. She’ll likely want to stay ashore anyway. [Curiously.] What does she work at, your Anna?
CHRIS–She stay on dem cousins’ farm ’till two year ago. Dan she gat yob nurse gel in St. Paul. [Then shaking his head resolutely.] But Ay don’t vant for her gat yob now. Ay vant for her stay with me.
LARRY–[Scornfully.] On a coal barge! She’ll not like that, I’m thinkin’.
MARTHY–[Shouts from next room.] Don’t I get that bucket o’ suds, Dutchy?
CHRIS–[Startled–in apprehensive confusion.] Yes, Ay come, Marthy.
LARRY–[Drawing the lager and ale, hands it to CHRIS–laughing.] Now you’re in for it! You’d better tell her straight to get out!
CHRIS–[Shaking in his boots.] Py golly. [He takes her drink in to MARTHY and sits down at the table. She sips it in silence. LARRY moves quietly close to the partition to listen, grinning with expectation. CHRIS seems on the verge of speaking, hesitates, gulps down his whiskey desperately as if seeking for courage. He attempts to whistle a few bars of “Yosephine” with careless bravado, but the whistle peters out futilely. MARTHY stares at him keenly, taking in his embarrassment with a malicious twinkle of amusement in her eye. CHRIS clears his throat.] Marthy–
MARTHY–[Aggressively.] Wha’s that? [Then, pretending to fly into a rage, her eyes enjoying CHRIS’ misery.] I’m wise to what’s in back of your nut, Dutchy. Yuh want to git rid o’ me, huh?–now she’s comin’. Gimme the bum’s rush ashore, huh? Lemme tell yuh, Dutchy, there ain’t a square-head workin’ on a boat man enough to git away with that. Don’t start nothin’ yuh can’t finish!
CHRIS–[Miserably.] Ay don’t start nutting, Marthy.
MARTHY–[Glares at him for a second–then cannot control a burst of laughter.] Ho-ho! Yuh’re a scream, Square-head–an honest-ter- Gawd knockout! Ho-ho! [She wheezes, panting for breath.]
CHRIS–[With childish pique.] Ay don’t see nutting for laugh at.
MARTHY–Take a slant in the mirror and yuh’ll see. Ho-ho! [Recovering from her mirth–chuckling, scornfully.] A square-head tryin’ to kid Marthy Owen at this late day!–after me campin’ with barge men the last twenty years. I’m wise to the game, up, down, and sideways. I ain’t been born and dragged up on the water front for nothin’. Think I’d make trouble, huh? Not me! I’ll pack up me duds an’ beat it. I’m quittin’ yuh, get me? I’m tellin’ yuh I’m sick of stickin’ with yuh, and I’m leavin’ yuh flat, see? There’s plenty of other guys on other barges waitin’ for me. Always was, I always found. [She claps the astonished CHRIS on the back.] So cheer up, Dutchy! I’ll be offen the barge before she comes. You’ll be rid o’ me for good–and me o’ you–good riddance for both of us. Ho-ho!
CHRIS–[Seriously.] Ay don’ tank dat. You vas good gel, Marthy.
MARTHY–[Grinning.] Good girl? Aw, can the bull! Well, yuh treated me square, yuhself. So it’s fifty-fifty. Nobody’s sore at nobody. We’re still good frien’s, huh? [LARRY returns to bar.]
CHRIS–[Beaming now that he sees his troubles disappearing.] Yes, py golly.
MARTHY–That’s the talkin’! In all my time I tried never to split with a guy with no hard feelin’s. But what was yuh so scared about–that I’d kick up a row? That ain’t Marthy’s way. [Scornfully.] Think I’d break my heart to lose yuh? Commit suicide, huh? Ho-ho! Gawd! The world’s full o’ men if that’s all I’d worry about! [Then with a grin, after emptying her glass.] Blow me to another scoop, huh? I’ll drink your kid’s health for yuh.
CHRIS–[Eagerly.] Sure tang. Ay go gat him. [He takes the two glasses into the bar.] Oder drink. Same for both.
LARRY–[Getting the drinks and putting them on the bar.] She’s not such a bad lot, that one.
CHRIS–[Jovially.] She’s good gel, Ay tal you! Py golly, Ay calabrate now! Give me vhiskey here at bar, too. [He puts down money. LARRY serves him.] You have drink, Larry.
LARRY–[Virtuously.] You know I never touch it.
CHRIS–You don’t know what you miss. Skoal! [He drinks–then begins to sing loudly.]
“My Yosephine, come board de ship–“
[He picks up the drinks for MARTHY and himself and walks unsteadily into the back room, singing.]
“De moon, she shi-i-i-ine. She looks yust like you. Tche-tchee, tchee-tchee, tchee-tchee, tchee-tchee.”
MARTHY–[Grinning, hands to ears.] Gawd!
CHRIS–[Sitting down.] Ay’m good singer, yes? Ve drink, eh? Skoal! Ay calabrate! [He drinks.] Ay calabrate ’cause Anna’s coming home. You know, Marthy, Ay never write for her to come, ’cause Ay tank Ay’m no good for her. But all time Ay hope like hell some day she vant for see me and den she come. And dat’s vay it happen now, py yiminy! [His face beaming.] What you tank she look like, Marthy? Ay bet you she’s fine, good, strong gel, pooty like hell! Living on farm made her like dat. And Ay bet you some day she marry good, steady land fallar here in East, have home all her own, have kits– and dan Ay’m ole grandfader, py golly! And Ay go visit dem every time Ay gat in port near! [Bursting with joy.] By yiminy crickens, Ay calabrate dat! [Shouts.] Bring oder drink, Larry! [He smashes his fist on the table with a bang.]
LARRY–[Coming in from bar–irritably.] Easy there! Don’t be breakin’ the table, you old goat!
CHRIS–[By way of reply, grins foolishly and begins to sing.] “My Yosephine comes board de ship–“
MARTHY–[Touching CHRIS’ arm persuasively.] You’re soused to the ears, Dutchy. Go out and put a feed into you. It’ll sober you up. [Then as CHRIS shakes his head obstinately.] Listen, yuh old nut! Yuh don’t know what time your kid’s liable to show up. Yuh want to be sober when she comes, don’t yuh?
CHRIS–[Aroused–gets unsteadily to his feet.] Py golly, yes.
LARRY–That’s good sense for you. A good beef stew’ll fix you. Go round the corner.
CHRIS–All right. Ay be back soon, Marthy. [CHRIS goes through the bar and out the street door.]
LARRY–He’ll come round all right with some grub in him.
MARTHY–Sure. [LARRY goes back to the bar and resumes his newspaper. MARTHY sips what is left of her schooner reflectively. There is the ring of the family entrance bell. LARRY comes to the door and opens it a trifle–then, with a puzzled expression, pulls it wide. ANNA CHRISTOPHERSON enters. She is a tall, blond, fully- developed girl of twenty, handsome after a large, Viking-daughter fashion but now run down in health and plainly showing all the outward evidences of belonging to the world’s oldest profession. Her youthful face is already hard and cynical beneath its layer of make-up. Her clothes are the tawdry finery of peasant stock turned prostitute. She comes and sinks wearily in a chair by the table, left front.]
ANNA–Gimme a whiskey–ginger ale on the side. [Then, as LARRY turns to go, forcing a winning smile at him.] And don’t be stingy, baby.
LARRY–[Sarcastically.] Shall I serve it in a pail?
ANNA–[With a hard laugh.] That suits me down to the ground. [LARRY goes into the bar. The two women size each other up with frank stares. LARRY comes back with the drink which he sets before ANNA and returns to the bar again. ANNA downs her drink at a gulp. Then, after a moment, as the alcohol begins to rouse her, she turns to MARTHY with a friendly smile.] Gee, I needed that bad, all right, all right!
MARTHY–[Nodding her head sympathetically.] Sure–yuh look all in. Been on a bat?
ANNA–No–travelling–day and a half on the train. Had to sit up all night in the dirty coach, too. Gawd, I thought I’d never get here!
MARTHY–[With a start–looking at her intently.] Where’d yuh come from, huh?
ANNA–St. Paul–out in Minnesota.
MARTHY–[Staring at her in amazement–slowly.] So–yuh’re–[She suddenly bursts out into hoarse, ironical laughter.] Gawd!
ANNA–All the way from Minnesota, sure. [Flaring up.] What you laughing at? Me?
MARTHY–[Hastily.] No, honest, kid. I was thinkin’ of somethin’ else.
ANNA–[Mollified–with a smile.] Well, I wouldn’t blame you, at that. Guess I do look rotten–yust out of the hospital two weeks. I’m going to have another ‘ski. What d’you say? Have something on me?
MARTHY–Sure I will. T’anks. [She calls.] Hey, Larry! Little service! [He comes in.]
ANNA–Same for me.
MARTHY–Same here. [LARRY takes their glasses and goes out.]
ANNA–Why don’t you come sit over here, be sociable. I’m a dead stranger in this burg–and I ain’t spoke a word with no one since day before yesterday.
MARTHY–Sure thing. [She shuffles over to ANNA’S table and sits down opposite her. LARRY brings the drinks and ANNA pays him.]
ANNA–Skoal! Here’s how! [She drinks.]
MARTHY–Here’s luck! [She takes a gulp from her schooner.]
ANNA–[Taking a package of Sweet Caporal cigarettes from her bag.] Let you smoke in here, won’t they?
MARTHY–[Doubtfully.] Sure. [Then with evident anxiety.] On’y trow it away if yuh hear someone comin’.
ANNA–[Lighting one and taking a deep inhale.] Gee, they’re fussy in this dump, ain’t they? [She puffs, staring at the table top. MARTHY looks her over with a new penetrating interest, taking in every detail of her face. ANNA suddenly becomes conscious of this appraising stare–resentfully.] Ain’t nothing wrong with me, is there? You’re looking hard enough.
MARTHY–[Irritated by the other’s tone–scornfully.] Ain’t got to look much. I got your number the minute you stepped in the door.
ANNA–[Her eyes narrowing.] Ain’t you smart! Well, I got yours, too, without no trouble. You’re me forty years from now. That’s you! [She gives a hard little laugh.]
MARTHY–[Angrily.] Is that so? Well, I’ll tell you straight, kiddo, that Marthy Owen never–[She catches herself up short–with a grin.] What are you and me scrappin’ over? Let’s cut it out, huh? Me, I don’t want no hard feelin’s with no one. [Extending her hand.] Shake and forget it, huh?
ANNA–[Shakes her hand gladly.] Only too glad to. I ain’t looking for trouble. Let’s have ‘nother. What d’you say?
MARTHY–[Shaking her head.] Not for mine. I’m full up. And you– Had anythin’ to eat lately?
ANNA–Not since this morning on the train.
MARTHY–Then yuh better go easy on it, hadn’t yuh?
ANNA–[After a moment’s hesitation.] Guess you’re right. I got to meet someone, too. But my nerves is on edge after that rotten trip.
MARTHY–Yuh said yuh was just outa the hospital?
ANNA–Two weeks ago. [Leaning over to MARTHY confidentially.] The joint I was in out in St. Paul got raided. That was the start. The judge give all us girls thirty days. The others didn’t seem to mind being in the cooler much. Some of ’em was used to it. But me, I couldn’t stand it. It got my goat right–couldn’t eat or sleep or nothing. I never could stand being caged up nowheres. I got good and sick and they had to send me to the hospital. It was nice there. I was sorry to leave it, honest!
MARTHY–[After a slight pause.] Did yuh say yuh got to meet someone here?
ANNA–Yes. Oh, not what you mean. It’s my Old Man I got to meet. Honest! It’s funny, too. I ain’t seen him since I was a kid–don’t even know what he looks like–yust had a letter every now and then. This was always the only address he give me to write him back. He’s yanitor of some building here now–used to be a sailor.
ANNA–Sure. And I was thinking maybe, seeing he ain’t never done a thing for me in my life, he might be willing to stake me to a room and eats till I get rested up. [Wearily.] Gee, I sure need that rest! I’m knocked out. [Then resignedly.] But I ain’t expecting much from him. Give you a kick when you’re down, that’s what all men do. [With sudden passion.] Men, I hate ’em–all of ’em! And I don’t expect he’ll turn out no better than the rest. [Then with sudden interest.] Say, do you hang out around this dump much?
MARTHY–Oh, off and on.
ANNA–Then maybe you know him–my Old Man–or at least seen him?
MARTHY–It ain’t old Chris, is it?
MARTHY–Chris Christopherson, his full name is.
ANNA–[Excitedly.] Yes, that’s him! Anna Christopherson–that’s my real name–only out there I called myself Anna Christie. So you know him, eh?
MARTHY–[Evasively.] Seen him about for years.
ANNA–Say, what’s he like, tell me, honest?
MARTHY–Oh, he’s short and–
ANNA–[Impatiently.] I don’t care what he looks like. What kind is he?
MARTHY–[Earnestly.] Well, yuh can bet your life, kid, he’s as good an old guy as ever walked on two feet. That goes!
ANNA–[Pleased.] I’m glad to hear it. Then you think’s he’ll stake me to that rest cure I’m after?
MARTHY–[Emphatically.] Surest thing you know. [Disgustedly.] But where’d yuh get the idea he was a janitor?
ANNA–He wrote me he was himself.
MARTHY–Well, he was lyin’. He ain’t. He’s captain of a barge–five men under him.
ANNA–[Disgusted in her turn.] A barge? What kind of a barge?
ANNA–A coal barge! [With a harsh laugh.] If that ain’t a swell job to find your long lost Old Man working at! Gee, I knew something’d be bound to turn out wrong–always does with me. That puts my idea of his giving me a rest on the bum.
MARTHY–What d’yuh mean?
ANNA–I s’pose he lives on the boat, don’t he?
MARTHY–Sure. What about it? Can’t you live on it, too?
ANNA–[Scornfully.] Me? On a dirty coal barge! What d’you think I am?
MARTHY–[Resentfully.] What d’yuh know about barges, huh? Bet yuh ain’t never seen one. That’s what comes of his bringing yuh up inland–away from the old devil sea–where yuh’d be safe–Gawd! [The irony of it strikes her sense of humor and she laughs hoarsely.]
ANNA–[Angrily.] His bringing me up! Is that what he tells people! I like his nerve! He let them cousins of my Old Woman’s keep me on their farm and work me to death like a dog.
MARTHY–Well, he’s got queer notions on some things. I’ve heard him say a farm was the best place for a kid.
ANNA–Sure. That’s what he’d always answer back–and a lot of crazy stuff about staying away from the sea–stuff I couldn’t make head or tail to. I thought he must be nutty.
MARTHY–He is on that one point. [Casually.] So yuh didn’t fall for life on the farm, huh?
ANNA–I should say not! The old man of the family, his wife, and four sons–I had to slave for all of ’em. I was only a poor relation, and they treated me worse than they dare treat a hired girl. [After a moment’s hesitation–somberly.] It was one of the sons–the youngest–started me–when I was sixteen. After that, I hated ’em so I’d killed ’em all if I’d stayed. So I run away–to St. Paul.
MARTHY–[Who has been listening sympathetically.] I’ve heard Old Chris talkin’ about your bein’ a nurse girl out there. Was that all a bluff yuh put up when yuh wrote him?
ANNA–Not on your life, it wasn’t. It was true for two years. I didn’t go wrong all at one jump. Being a nurse girl was yust what finished me. Taking care of other people’s kids, always listening to their bawling and crying, caged in, when you’re only a kid yourself and want to go out and see things. At last I got the chance–to get into that house. And you bet your life I took it! [Defiantly.] And I ain’t sorry neither. [After a pause–with bitter hatred.] It was all men’s fault–the whole business. It was men on the farm ordering and beating me–and giving me the wrong start. Then when I was a nurse, it was men again hanging around, bothering me, trying to see what they could get. [She gives a hard laugh.] And now it’s men all the time. Gawd, I hate ’em all, every mother’s son of ’em! Don’t you?
MARTHY–Oh, I dunno. There’s good ones and bad ones, kid. You’ve just had a run of bad luck with ’em, that’s all. Your Old Man, now–old Chris–he’s a good one.
ANNA–[Sceptically.] He’ll have to show me.
MARTHY–Yuh kept right on writing him yuh was a nurse girl still, even after yuh was in the house, didn’t yuh?
ANNA–Sure. [Cynically.] Not that I think he’d care a darn.
MARTHY–Yuh’re all wrong about him, kid, [Earnestly.] I know Old Chris well for a long time. He’s talked to me ’bout you lots o’ times. He thinks the world o’ you, honest he does.
ANNA–Aw, quit the kiddin’!
MARTHY–Honest! Only, he’s a simple old guy, see? He’s got nutty notions. But he means well, honest. Listen to me, kid–[She is interrupted by the opening and shutting of the street door in the bar and by hearing CHRIS’ voice.] Ssshh!
CHRIS–[Who has entered the bar. He seems considerably sobered up.] Py golly, Larry, dat grub taste good. Marthy in back?
LARRY–Sure–and another tramp with her. [CHRIS starts for the entrance to the back room.]
MARTHY–[To ANNA in a hurried, nervous whisper.] That’s him now. He’s comin’ in here. Brace up!
ANNA–Who? [Chris opens the door.]
MARTHY–[As if she were greeting him for the first time]. Why hello, Old Chris. [Then before he can speak, she shuffles hurriedly past him into the bar, beckoning him to follow her.] Come here. I wanta tell yuh somethin’. [He goes out to her. She speaks hurriedly in a low voice.] Listen! I’m goin’ to beat it down to the barge–pack up me duds and blow. That’s her in there– your Anna–just come–waitin’ for yuh. Treat her right, see? She’s been sick. Well, s’long! [She goes into the back room–to ANNA.] S’long, kid. I gotta beat it now. See yuh later.
ANNA–[Nervously.] So long. [MARTHY goes quickly out of the family entrance.] LARRY–[Looking at the stupefied CHRIS curiously.] Well, what’s up now?
CHRIS–[Vaguely.] Nutting–nutting. [He stands before the door to the back room in an agony of embarrassed emotion–then he forces himself to a bold decision, pushes open the door and walks in. He stands there, casts a shy glance at ANNA, whose brilliant clothes, and, to him, high-toned appearance awe him terribly. He looks about him with pitiful nervousness as if to avoid the appraising look with which she takes in his face, his clothes, etc–his voice seeming to plead for her forbearance.] Anna!
ANNA–[Acutely embarrassed in her turn.] Hello–father. She told me it was you. I yust got here a little while ago.
CHRIS–[Goes slowly over to her chair.] It’s good–for see you– after all dem years, Anna. [He bends down over her. After an embarrassed struggle they manage to kiss each other.]
ANNA–[A trace of genuine feeling in her voice.] It’s good to see you, too.
CHRIS–[Grasps her arms and looks into her face–then overcome by a wave of fierce tenderness.] Anna lilla! Anna lilla! [Takes her in his arms.]
ANNA–[Shrinks away from him, half-frightened.] What’s that– Swedish? I don’t know it. [Then as if seeking relief from the tension in a voluble chatter.] Gee, I had an awful trip coming here. I’m all in. I had to sit up in the dirty coach all night– couldn’t get no sleep, hardly–and then I had a hard job finding this place. I never been in New York before, you know, and–
CHRIS–[Who has been staring down at her face admiringly, not hearing what she says–impulsively.] You know you vas awful pooty gel, Anna? Ay bet all men see you fall in love with you, py yiminy!
ANNA–[Repelled–harshly.] Cut it! You talk same as they all do.
CHRIS–[Hurt–humbly.] Ain’t no harm for your fader talk dat vay, Anna.
ANNA–[Forcing a short laugh.] No–course not. Only–it’s funny to see you and not remember nothing. You’re like–a stranger.
CHRIS–[Sadly.] Ay s’pose. Ay never come home only few times ven you vas kit in Sveden. You don’t remember dat?
ANNA–No. [Resentfully.] But why didn’t you never come home them days? Why didn’t you never come out West to see me?
CHRIS–[Slowly.] Ay tank, after your mo’der die, ven Ay vas avay on voyage, it’s better for you you don’t never see me! [He sinks down in the chair opposite her dejectedly–then turns to her– sadly.] Ay don’t know, Anna, vhy Ay never come home Sveden in ole year. Ay vant come home end of every voyage. Ay vant see your mo’der, your two bro’der before dey vas drowned, you ven you vas born–but–Ay–don’t go. Ay sign on oder ships–go South America, go Australia, go China, go every port all over world many times– but Ay never go aboard ship sail for Sveden. Ven Ay gat money for pay passage home as passenger den–[He bows his head guiltily.] Ay forgat and Ay spend all money. Ven Ay tank again, it’s too late. [He sighs.] Ay don’t know vhy but dat’s vay with most sailor fallar, Anna. Dat ole davil sea make dem crazy fools with her dirty tricks. It’s so.
ANNA–[Who has watched him keenly while he has been speaking–with a trace of scorn in her voice.] Then you think the sea’s to blame for everything, eh? Well, you’re still workin’ on it, ain’t you, spite of all you used to write me about hating it. That dame was here told me you was captain of a coal barge–and you wrote me you was yanitor of a building!
CHRIS–[Embarrassed but lying glibly.] Oh, Ay work on land long time as yanitor. Yust short time ago Ay got dis yob cause Ay vas sick, need open air.
ANNA–[Sceptically.] Sick? You? You’d never think it.
CHRIS–And, Anna, dis ain’t real sailor yob. Dis ain’t real boat on sea. She’s yust ole tub–like piece of land with house on it dat float. Yob on her ain’t sea yob. No. Ay don’t gat yob on sea, Anna, if Ay die first. Ay swear dat, ven your mo’der die. Ay keep my word, py yingo!
ANNA–[Perplexed.] Well, I can’t see no difference. [Dismissing the subject.] Speaking of being sick, I been there myself–yust out of the hospital two weeks ago.
CHRIS–[Immediately all concern.] You, Anna? Py golly! [Anxiously.] You feel better now, dough, don’t you? You look little tired, dat’s all!
ANNA–[Wearily.] I am. Tired to death. I need a long rest and I don’t see much chance of getting it.
CHRIS–What you mean, Anna?
ANNA–Well, when I made up my mind to come to see you, I thought you was a yanitor–that you’d have a place where, maybe, if you didn’t mind having me, I could visit a while and rest up–till I felt able to get back on the job again.
CHRIS–[Eagerly.] But Ay gat place, Anna–nice place. You rest all you want, py yiminy! You don’t never have to vork as nurse gel no more. You stay with me, py golly!
ANNA–[Surprised and pleased by his eagerness–with a smile.] Then you’re really glad to see me–honest?
CHRIS–[Pressing one of her hands in both of his.] Anna, Ay like see you like hell, Ay tal you! And don’t you talk no more about gatting yob. You stay with me. Ay don’t see you for long time, you don’t forgat dat. [His voice trembles.] Ay’m gatting ole. Ay gat no one in vorld but you.
ANNA–[Touched–embarrassed by this unfamiliar emotion.] Thanks. It sounds good to hear someone–talk to me that way. Say, though– if you’re so lonely–it’s funny–why ain’t you ever married again?
CHRIS–[Shaking his head emphatically–after a pause.] Ay love your mo’der too much for ever do dat, Anna.
ANNA–[Impressed–slowly.] I don’t remember nothing about her. What was she like? Tell me.
CHRIS–Ay tal you all about everytang–and you tal me all tangs happen to you. But not here now. Dis ain’t good place for young gel, anyway. Only no good sailor fallar come here for gat drunk. [He gets to his feet quickly and picks up her bag.] You come with me, Anna. You need lie down, gat rest.
ANNA–[Half rises to her feet, then sits down again.] Where’re you going?
CHRIS–Come. Ve gat on board.
ANNA–[Disappointedly.] On board your barge, you mean? [Dryly.] Nix for mine! [Then seeing his crestfallen look–forcing a smile.] Do you think that’s a good place for a young girl like me–a coal barge?
CHRIS–[Dully.] Yes, Ay tank. [He hesitates–then continues more and more pleadingly.] You don’t know how nice it’s on barge, Anna. Tug come and ve gat towed out on voyage–yust water all round, and sun, and fresh air, and good grub for make you strong, healthy gel. You see many tangs you don’t see before. You gat moonlight at night, maybe; see steamer pass; see schooner make sail–see everytang dat’s pooty. You need take rest like dat. You work too hard for young gel already. You need vacation, yes!
ANNA–[Who has listened to him with a growing interest–with an uncertain laugh.] It sounds good to hear you tell it. I’d sure like a trip on the water, all right. It’s the barge idea has me stopped. Well, I’ll go down with you and have a look–and maybe I’ll take a chance. Gee, I’d do anything once.
CHRIS–[Picks up her bag again.] Ye go, eh?
ANNA–What’s the rush? Wait a second. [Forgetting the situation for a moment, she relapses into the familiar form and flashes one of her winning trade smiles at him.] Gee, I’m thirsty.
CHRIS–[Sets down her bag immediately–hastily.] Ay’m sorry, Anna. What you tank you like for drink, eh?
ANNA–[Promptly.] I’ll take a–[Then suddenly reminded– confusedly.] I don’t know. What’a they got here?
CHRIS–[With a grin.] Ay don’t tank dey got much fancy drink for young gel in dis place, Anna. Yinger ale–sas’prilla, maybe.
ANNA–[Forcing a laugh herself.] Make it sas, then.
CHRIS–[Coming up to her–with a wink.] Ay tal you, Anna, we calabrate, yes–dis one time because we meet after many year. [In a half whisper, embarrassedly.] Dey gat good port wine, Anna. It’s good for you. Ay tank–little bit–for give you appetite. It ain’t strong, neider. One glass don’t go to your head, Ay promise.
ANNA–[With a half hysterical laugh.] All right! I’ll take port.
CHRIS–Ay go gat him. [He goes out to the bar. As soon as the door closes, Anna starts to her feet.]
ANNA–[Picking up her bag–half–aloud–stammeringly.] Gawd, I can’t stand this! I better beat it. [Then she lets her bag drop, stumbles over to her chair again, and covering her face with her hands, begins to sob.]
LARRY–[Putting down his paper as CHRIS comes up–with a grin.] Well, who’s the blond?
CHRIS–[Proudly.] Dat vas Anna, Larry.
LARRY–[In amazement.] Your daughter, Anna? [CHRIS nods. LARRY lets a long, low whistle escape him and turns away embarrassedly.]
CHRIS–Don’t you tank she vas pooty gel, Larry?
LARRY–[Rising to the occasion.] Sure! A peach!
CHRIS–You bet you! Give me drink for take back–one port vine for Anna–she calabrate dis one time with me–and small beer for me.
LARRY–[As he gets the drinks.] Small beer for you, eh? She’s reformin’ you already.
CHRIS–[Pleased.] You bet! [He takes the drinks. As she hears him coming, ANNA hastily dries her eyes, tries to smile. CHRIS comes in and sets the drinks down on the table–stares at her for a second anxiously–patting her hand.] You look tired, Anna. Veil, Ay make you take good long rest now. [Picking up his beer.] Come, you drink vine. It put new life in you. [She lifts her glass–he grins.] Skoal, Anna! You know dat Svedish word?
ANNA–Skoal! [Downing her port at a gulp like a drink of whiskey– her lips trembling.] Skoal? Guess I know that word, all right, all right!
[The Curtain Falls]
SCENE–Ten days later. The stern of the deeply-laden barge, “SIMEON WINTHROP,” at anchor in the outer harbor of Provincetown, Mass. It is ten o’clock at night. Dense fog shrouds the barge on all sides, and she floats motionless on a calm. A lantern set up on an immense coil of thick hawser sheds a dull, filtering light on objects near it–the heavy steel bits for making fast the tow lines, etc. In the rear is the cabin, its misty windows glowing wanly with the light of a lamp inside. The chimney of the cabin stove rises a few feet above the roof. The doleful tolling of bells, on Long Point, on ships at anchor, breaks the silence at regular intervals.
As the curtain rises, ANNA is discovered standing near the coil of rope on which the lantern is placed. She looks healthy, transformed, the natural color has come back to her face. She has on a black, oilskin coat, but wears no hat. She is staring out into the fog astern with an expression of awed wonder. The cabin door is pushed open and CHRIS appears. He is dressed in yellow oilskins–coat, pants, sou’wester–and wears high sea-boots.
CHRIS–[The glare from the cabin still in his eyes, peers blinkmgly astern.] Anna! [Receiving no reply, he calls again, this time with apparent apprehension.] Anna!
ANNA–[With a start–making a gesture with her hand as if to impose silence–in a hushed whisper.] Yes, here I am. What d’you want?
CHRIS–[Walks over to her–solicitously.] Don’t you come turn in, Anna? It’s late–after four bells. It ain’t good for you stay out here in fog, Ay tank.
ANNA–Why not? [With a trace of strange exultation.] I love this fog! Honest! It’s so–[She hesitates, groping for a word.]–Funny and still. I feel as if I was–out of things altogether.
CHRIS–[Spitting disgustedly.] Fog’s vorst one of her dirty tricks, py yingo!
ANNA–[With a short laugh.] Beefing about the sea again? I’m getting so’s I love it, the little I’ve seen.
CHRIS–[Glancing at her moodily.] Dat’s foolish talk, Anna. You see her more, you don’t talk dat vay. [Then seeing her irritation, he hastily adopts a more cheerful tone.] But Ay’m glad you like it on barge. Ay’m glad it makes you feel good again. [With a placating grin.] You like live like dis alone with ole fa’der, eh?
ANNA–Sure I do. Everything’s been so different from anything I ever come across before. And now–this fog–Gee, I wouldn’t have missed it for nothing. I never thought living on ships was so different from land. Gee, I’d just love to work on it, honest I would, if I was a man. I don’t wonder you always been a sailor,
CHRIS–[Vehemently.] Ay ain’t sailor, Anna. And dis ain’t real sea. You only see nice part. [Then as she doesn’t answer, he continues hopefully.] Vell, fog lift in morning, Ay tank.
ANNA–[The exultation again in her voice.] I love it! I don’t give a rap if it never lifts! [CHRIS fidgets from one foot to the other worriedly. ANNA continues slowly, after a pause.] It makes me feel clean–out here–‘s if I’d taken a bath.
CHRIS–[After a pause.] You better go in cabin–read book. Dat put you to sleep.
ANNA–I don’t want to sleep. I want to stay out here–and think about things.
CHRIS–[Walks away from her toward the cabin–then comes back.] You act funny to-night, Anna.
ANNA–[Her voice rising angrily.] Say, what’re you trying to do– make things rotten? You been kind as kind can be to me and I certainly appreciate it–only don’t spoil it all now. [Then, seeing the hurt expression on her father’s face, she forces a smile.] Let’s talk of something else. Come. Sit down here. [She points to the coil of rope.]
CHRIS–[Sits down beside her with a sigh.] It’s gatting pooty late in night, Anna. Must be near five bells.
ANNA–[Interestedly.] Five bells? What time is that?
CHRIS–Half past ten.
ANNA–Funny I don’t know nothing about sea talk–but those cousins was always talking crops and that stuff. Gee, wasn’t I sick of it– and of them!
CHRIS–You don’t like live on farm, Anna?
ANNA–I’ve told you a hundred times I hated it. [Decidedly.] I’d rather have one drop of ocean than all the farms in the world! Honest! And you wouldn’t like a farm, neither. Here’s where you belong. [She makes a sweeping gesture seaward.] But not on a coal barge. You belong on a real ship, sailing all over the world.
CHRIS–[Moodily.] Ay’ve done dat many year, Anna, when Ay vas damn fool.
ANNA–[Disgustedly.] Oh, rats! [After a pause she speaks musingly.] Was the men in our family always sailors–as far back as you know about?
CHRIS–[Shortly.] Yes. Damn fools! All men in our village on coast, Sveden, go to sea. Ain’t nutting else for dem to do. My fa’der die on board ship in Indian Ocean. He’s buried at sea. Ay don’t never know him only little bit. Den my tree bro’der, older’n me, dey go on ships. Den Ay go, too. Den my mo’der she’s left all ‘lone. She die pooty quick after dat–all ‘lone. Ve vas all avay on voyage when she die. [He pauses sadly.] Two my bro’der dey gat lost on fishing boat same like your bro’ders vas drowned. My oder bro’der, he save money, give up sea, den he die home in bed. He’s only one dat ole davil don’t kill. [Defiantly.] But me, Ay bet you Ay die ashore in bed, too!
ANNA–Were all of ’em yust plain sailors?
CHEIS–Able body seaman, most of dem. [With a certain pride.] Dey vas all smart seaman, too–A one. [Then after hesitating a moment– shyly.] Ay vas bo’sun.
CHRIS–Dat’s kind of officer.
ANNA–Gee, that was fine. What does he do?
CHRIS–[After a second’s hesitation, plunged into gloom again by his fear of her enthusiasm.] Hard vork all time. It’s rotten, Ay tal you, for go to sea. [Determined to disgust her with sea life– volubly.] Dey’re all fool fallar, dem fallar in our family. Dey all vork rotten yob on sea for nutting, don’t care nutting but yust gat big pay day in pocket, gat drunk, gat robbed, ship avay again on oder voyage. Dey don’t come home, Dey don’t do anytang like good man do. And dat ole davil, sea, sooner, later she svallow dem up.
ANNA–[With an excited laugh.] Good sports, I’d call ’em. [Then hastily.] But say–listen–did all the women of the family marry sailors?
CHRIS–[Eagerly–seeing a chance to drive home his point.] Yes– and it’s bad on dem like hell vorst of all. Dey don’t see deir men only once in long while. Dey set and vait all ‘lone. And vhen deir boys grows up, go to sea, dey sit and vait some more. [Vehemently.] Any gel marry sailor, she’s crazy fool! Your mo’der she tal you same tang if she vas alive. [He relapses into an attitude of somber brooding.]
ANNA–[After a pause–dreamily.] Funny! I do feel sort of–nutty, to-night. I feel old.
CHRIS–[Mystified. ] Old?
ANNA–Sure–like I’d been living a long, long time–out here in the fog. [Frowning perplexedly.] I don’t know how to tell you yust what I mean. It’s like I’d come home after a long visit away some place. It all seems like I’d been here before lots of times–on boats–in this same fog. [With a short laugh.] You must think I’m off my base.
CHRIS–[Gruffly.] Anybody feel funny dat vay in fog.
ANNA–[Persistently.] But why d’you s’pose I feel so–so–like I’d found something I’d missed and been looking for–‘s if this was the right place for me to fit in? And I seem to have forgot– everything that’s happened–like it didn’t matter no more. And I feel clean, somehow–like you feel yust after you’ve took a bath. And I feel happy for once–yes, honest!–happier than I ever been anywhere before! [As CHRIS makes no comment but a heavy sigh, she continues wonderingly.] It’s nutty for me to feel that way, don’t you think?
CHRIS–[A grim foreboding in his voice.] Ay tank Ay’m damn fool for bring you on voyage, Anna.
ANNA–[Impressed by his tone.] You talk–nutty to-night yourself. You act’s if you was scared something was going to happen.
CHRIS–Only God know dat, Anna.
ANNA–[Half-mockingly.] Then it’ll be Gawd’s will, like the preachers say-what does happen.
CHRIS–[Starts to his feet with fierce protest.] No! Dat ole davil, sea, she ain’t God! [In the pause of silence that comes after his defiance a hail in a man’s husky, exhausted voice comes faintly out of the fog to port.] “Ahoy!” [CHRIS gives a startled exclamation.]
ANNA–[Jumping to her feet.] What’s that?
CHRIS–[Who has regained his composure–sheepishly.] Py golly, dat scare me for minute. It’s only some fallar hail, Anna–loose his course in fog. Must be fisherman’s power boat. His engine break down, Ay guess. [The “ahoy” comes again through the wall of fog, sounding much nearer this time. CHRIS goes over to the port bulwark.] Sound from dis side. She come in from open sea. [He holds his hands to his mouth, megaphone-fashion, and shouts back.] Ahoy, dere! Vhat’s trouble?
THE VOICE–[This time sounding nearer but up forward toward the bow.] Heave a rope when we come alongside. [Then irritably.] Where are ye, ye scut?
CHRIS–Ay hear dem rowing. Dey come up by bow, Ay tank. [Then shouting out again.] Dis vay!
THE VOICE–Right ye are! [There is a muffled sound of oars in oar- locks.]
ANNA–[Half to herself–resentfully.] Why don’t that guy stay where he belongs?
CHRIS–[Hurriedly.] Ay go up bow. All hands asleep ‘cepting fallar on vatch. Ay gat heave line to dat fallar. [He picks up a coil of rope and hurries off toward the bow. ANNA walks back toward the extreme stern as if she wanted to remain as much isolated possible. She turns her back on the proceedings and stares out into the fog. THE VOICE is heard again shouting “Ahoy” and CHRIS answering “Dis way” Then there is a pause–the murmur of excited voices–then the scuffling of feet. CHRIS appears from around the cabin to port. He is supporting the limp form of a man dressed in dungarees, holding one of the man’s arms around his neck. The deckhand, JOHNSON, a young, blond Swede, follows him, helping along another exhausted man similar fashion. ANNA turns to look at them. Chris stops for a second–volubly.] Anna! You come help, vill you? You find vhiskey in cabin. Dese fallars need drink for fix dem. Dey vas near dead.
ANNA–[Hurrying to him.] Sure–but who are they? What’s the trouble?
CHRIS–Sailor fallars. Deir steamer gat wrecked. Dey been five days in open boat–four fallars–only one left able stand up. Come, Anna. [She precedes him into the cabin, holding the door open while he and JOHNSON carry in their burdens. The door is shut, then opened again as JOHNSON comes out. CHRIS’S voice shouts after him.] Go gat oder fallar, Yohnson.
JOHNSON–Yes, sir. [He goes. The door is closed again. MAT BURKE stumbles in around the port side of the cabin. He moves slowly, feeling his way uncertainly, keeping hold of the port bulwark with his right hand to steady himself. He is stripped to the waist, has on nothing but a pair of dirty dungaree pants. He is a powerful, broad-chested six-footer, his face handsome in a hard, rough, bold, defiant way. He is about thirty, in the full power of his heavy-muscled, immense strength. His dark eyes are bloodshot and wild from sleeplessness. The muscles of his arms and shoulders are lumped in knots and bunches, the veins of his forearms stand out like blue cords. He finds his way to the coil of hawser and sits down on it facing the cabin, his back bowed, head in his hands, in an attitude of spent weariness.]
BURKE–[Talking aloud to himself.] Row, ye divil! Row! [Then lifting his head and looking about him.] What’s this tub? Well, we’re safe anyway–with the help of God. [He makes the sign of the cross mechanically. JOHNSON comes along the deck to port, supporting the fourth man, who is babbling to himself incoherently. BURKE glances at him disdainfully.] Is it losing the small wits ye iver had, ye are? Deck-scrubbing scut! [They pass him and go into the cabin, leaving the door open. BURKE sags forward wearily.] I’m bate out–bate out entirely.
ANNA–[Comes out of the cabin with a tumbler quarter-full of whiskey in her hand. She gives a start when she sees BURKE so near her, the light from the open door falling full on him. Then, overcoming what is evidently a feeling of repulsion, she comes up beside him.] Here you are. Here’s a drink for you. You need it, I guess.
BURKE–[Lifting his head slowly–confusedly.] Is it dreaming I am?
ANNA–[Half smiling.] Drink it and you’ll find it ain’t no dream.
BURKE–To hell with the drink–but I’ll take it just the same. [He tosses it down.] Aah! I’m needin’ that–and ’tis fine stuff. [Looking up at her with frank, grinning admiration.] But ’twasn’t the booze I meant when I said, was I dreaming. I thought you was some mermaid out of the sea come to torment me. [He reaches out to feel of her arm.] Aye, rale flesh and blood, divil a less.
ANNA–[Coldly. Stepping back from him.] Cut that.
BURKE–But tell me, isn’t this a barge I’m on–or isn’t it?
BURKE–And what is a fine handsome woman the like of you doing on this scow?
ANNA–[Coldly.] Never you mind. [Then half-amused in spite of herself.] Say, you’re a great one, honest–starting right in kidding after what you been through.
BURKE–[Delighted–proudly.] Ah, it was nothing–aisy for a rale man with guts to him, the like of me. [He laughs.] All in the day’s work, darlin’. [Then, more seriously but still in a boastful tone, confidentially.] But I won’t be denying ’twas a damn narrow squeak. We’d all ought to be with Davy Jones at the bottom of the sea, be rights. And only for me, I’m telling you, and the great strength and guts is in me, we’d be being scoffed by the fishes this minute!
ANNA–[Contemptuously.] Gee, you hate yourself, don’t you? [Then turning away from him indifferently.] Well, you’d better come in and lie down. You must want to sleep.
BURKE–[Stung–rising unsteadily to his feet with chest out and head thrown back–resentfully.] Lie down and sleep, is it? Divil a wink I’m after having for two days and nights and divil a bit I’m needing now. Let you not be thinking I’m the like of them three weak scuts come in the boat with me. I could lick the three of them sitting down with one hand tied behind me. They may be bate out, but I’m not–and I’ve been rowing the boat with them lying in the bottom not able to raise a hand for the last two days we was in it. [Furiously, as he sees this is making no impression on her.] And I can lick all hands on this tub, wan be wan, tired as I am!
ANNA–[Sarcastically.] Gee, ain’t you a hard guy! [Then, with a trace of sympathy, as she notices him swaying from weakness.] But never mind that fight talk. I’ll take your word for all you’ve said. Go on and sit down out here, anyway, if I can’t get you to come inside. [He sits down weakly.] You’re all in, you might as well own up to it.
BURKE–[Fiercely.] The hell I am!
ANNA–[Coldly.] Well, be stubborn then for all I care. And I must say I don’t care for your language. The men I know don’t pull that rough stuff when ladies are around.
BURKE–[Getting unsteadily to his feet again–in a rage.] Ladies! Ho-ho! Divil mend you! Let you not be making game of me. What would ladies be doing on this bloody hulk? [As ANNA attempts to go to the cabin, he lurches into her path.] Aisy, now! You’re not the old Square-head’s woman, I suppose you’ll be telling me next– living in his cabin with him, no less! [Seeing the cold, hostile expression on ANNA’s face, he suddenly changes his tone to one of boisterous joviality.] But I do be thinking, iver since the first look my eyes took at you, that it’s a fool you are to be wasting yourself–a fine, handsome girl–on a stumpy runt of a man like that old Swede. There’s too many strapping great lads on the sea would give their heart’s blood for one kiss of you!
ANNA–[Scornfully.] Lads like you, eh?
BURKE–[Grinning.] Ye take the words out o’ my mouth. I’m the proper lad for you, if it’s meself do be saying it. [With a quick movement he puts his arms about her waist.] Whisht, now, me daisy! Himself’s in the cabin. It’s wan of your kisses I’m needing to take the tiredness from me bones. Wan kiss, now! [He presses her to him and attempts to kiss her.]
ANNA–[Struggling fiercely.] Leggo of me, you big mut! [She pushes him away with all her might. BURKE, weak and tottering, is caught off his guard. He is thrown down backward and, in falling, hits his head a hard thump against the bulwark. He lies there still, knocked out for the moment. ANNA stands for a second, looking down at him frightenedly. Then she kneels down beside him and raises his head to her knee, staring into his face anxiously for some sign of life.]
BURKE–[Stirring a bit–mutteringly.] God stiffen it! [He opens his eyes and blinks up at her with vague wonder.]
ANNA–[Letting his head sink back on the deck, rising to her feet with a sigh of relief.] You’re coming to all right, eh? Gee, I was scared for a moment I’d killed you.
BURKE–[With difficulty rising to a sitting position– scornfully.] Killed, is it? It’d take more than a bit of a blow to crack my thick skull. [Then looking at her with the most intense admiration.] But, glory be, it’s a power of strength is in them two fine arms of yours. There’s not a man in the world can say the same as you, that he seen Mat Burke lying at his feet and him dead to the world.
ANNA–[Rather remorsefully.] Forget it. I’m sorry it happened, see? [BURKE rises and sits on bench. Then severely.] Only you had no right to be getting fresh with me. Listen, now, and don’t go getting any more wrong notions. I’m on this barge because I’m making a trip with my father. The captain’s my father. Now you know.
BURKE–The old square–the old Swede, I mean?
BURKE–[Rising–peering at her face.] Sure I might have known it, if I wasn’t a bloody fool from birth. Where else’d you get that fine yellow hair is like a golden crown on your head.
ANNA–[With an amused laugh.] Say, nothing stops you, does it? [Then attempting a severe tone again.] But don’t you think you ought to be apologizing for what you said and done yust a minute ago, instead of trying to kid me with that mush?
BURKE–[Indignantly.] Mush! [Then bending forward toward her with very intense earnestness.] Indade and I will ask your pardon a thousand times–and on my knees, if ye like. I didn’t mean a word of what I said or did. [Resentful again for a second.] But divil a woman in all the ports of the world has iver made a great fool of me that way before!
ANNA–[With amused sarcasm.] I see. You mean you’re a lady-killer and they all fall for you.
BURKE–[Offended. Passionately.] Leave off your fooling! ‘Tis that is after getting my back up at you. [Earnestly.] ‘Tis no lie I’m telling you about the women. [Ruefully.] Though it’s a great jackass I am to be mistaking you, even in anger, for the like of them cows on the waterfront is the only women I’ve met up with since I was growed to a man. [As ANNA shrinks away from him at this, he hurries on pleadingly.] I’m a hard, rough man and I’m not fit, I’m thinking, to be kissing the shoe-soles of a fine, dacent girl the like of yourself. ‘Tis only the ignorance of your kind made me see you wrong. So you’ll forgive me, for the love of God, and let us be friends from this out. [Passionately.] I’m thinking I’d rather be friends with you than have my wish for anything else in the world. [He holds out his hand to her shyly.]
ANNA–[Looking queerly at him, perplexed and worried, but moved and pleased in spite of herself–takes his hand uncertainly.] Sure.
BURKE–[With boyish delight.] God bless you! [In his excitement he squeezes her hand tight.]
BURKE–[Hastily dropping her hand–ruefully.] Your pardon, Miss. ‘Tis a clumsy ape I am. [Then simply–glancing down his arm proudly.] It’s great power I have in my hand and arm, and I do be forgetting it at times.
ANNA–[Nursing her crushed hand and glancing at his arm, not without a trace of his own admiration.] Gee, you’re some strong, all right.
BURKE–[Delighted.] It’s no lie, and why shouldn’t I be, with me shoveling a million tons of coal in the stokeholes of ships since I was a lad only. [He pats the coil of hawser invitingly.] Let you sit down, now, Miss, and I’ll be telling you a bit of myself, and you’ll be telling me a bit of yourself, and in an hour we’ll be as old friends as if we was born in the same house. [He pulls at her sleeve shyly.] Sit down now, if you plaze.
ANNA–[With a half laugh.] Well–[She sits down.] But we won’t talk about me, see? You tell me about yourself and about the wreck.
BURKE–[Flattered.] I’ll tell you, surely. But can I be asking you one question. Miss, has my head in a puzzle?
ANNA–[Guardedly.] Well–I dunno–what is it?
BURKE–What is it you do when you’re not taking a trip with the Old Man? For I’m thinking a fine girl the like of you ain’t living always on this tub.
ANNA–[Uneasily.] No–of course I ain’t. [She searches his face suspiciously, afraid there may be some hidden insinuation in his words. Seeing his simple frankness, she goes on confidently.] Well, I’ll tell you. I’m a governess, see? I take care of kids for people and learn them things.
BURKE–[Impressed.] A governess, is it? You must be smart, surely.
ANNA–But let’s not talk about me. Tell me about the wreck, like you promised me you would.
BURKE–[Importantly.] ‘Twas this way, Miss. Two weeks out we ran into the divil’s own storm, and she sprang wan hell of a leak up for’ard. The skipper was hoping to make Boston before another blow would finish her, but ten days back we met up with another storm the like of the first, only worse. Four days we was in it with green seas raking over her from bow to stern. That was a terrible time, God help us. [Proudly.] And if ’twasn’t for me and my great strength, I’m telling you–and it’s God’s truth–there’d been mutiny itself in the stokehole. ‘Twas me held them to it, with a kick to wan and a clout to another, and they not caring a damn for the engineers any more, but fearing a clout of my right arm more than they’d fear the sea itself. [He glances at her anxiously, eager for her approval.]
ANNA–[Concealing a smile–amused by this boyish boasting of his.] You did some hard work, didn’t you?
BURKE–[Promptly.] I did that! I’m a divil for sticking it out when them that’s weak give up. But much good it did anyone! ‘Twas a mad, fightin’ scramble in the last seconds with each man for himself. I disremember how it come about, but there was the four of us in wan boat and when we was raised high on a great wave I took a look about and divil a sight there was of ship or men on top of the sea.
ANNA–[In a subdued voice.] Then all the others was drowned?
BURKE–They was, surely.
ANNA–[With a shudder.] What a terrible end!
BURKE–[Turns to her.] A terrible end for the like of them swabs does live on land, maybe. But for the like of us does be roaming the seas, a good end, I’m telling you–quick and clane.
ANNA–[Struck by the word.] Yes, clean. That’s yust the word for– all of it–the way it makes me feel.
BURKE–The sea, you mean? [Interestedly.] I’m thinking you have a bit of it in your blood, too. Your Old Man wasn’t only a barge rat–begging your pardon–all his life, by the cut of him.
ANNA–No, he was bo’sun on sailing ships for years. And all the men on both sides of the family have gone to sea as far back as he remembers, he says. All the women have married sailors, too.
BURKE–[With intense satisfaction.] Did they, now? They had spirit in them. It’s only on the sea you’d find rale men with guts is fit to wed with fine, high-tempered girls [Then he adds half-boldly] the like of yourself.
ANNA–[With a laugh.] There you go kiddin’ again. [Then seeing his hurt expression–quickly.] But you was going to tell me about yourself. You’re Irish, of course I can tell that.
BURKE–[Stoutly.] Yes, thank God, though I’ve not seen a sight of it in fifteen years or more.
ANNA–[Thoughtfully.] Sailors never do go home hardly, do they? That’s what my father was saying.
BURKE–He wasn’t telling no lie. [With sudden melancholy.] It’s a hard and lonesome life, the sea is. The only women you’d meet in the ports of the world who’d be willing to speak you a kind word isn’t woman at all. You know the kind I mane, and they’re a poor, wicked lot, God forgive them. They’re looking to steal the money from you only.
ANNA–[Her face averted–rising to her feet–agitatedly.] I think–I guess I’d better see what’s doing inside.
BURKE–[Afraid he has offended her–beseechingly.] Don’t go, I’m saying! Is it I’ve given you offence with my talk of the like of them? Don’t heed it at all! I’m clumsy in my wits when it comes to talking proper with a girl the like of you. And why wouldn’t I be? Since the day I left home for to go to sea punching coal, this is the first time I’ve had a word with a rale, dacent woman. So don’t turn your back on me now, and we beginning to be friends.
ANNA–[Turning to him again–forcing a smile.] I’m not sore at you, honest.
BURKE–[Gratefully.] God bless you!
ANNA–[Changing the subject abruptly.] But if you honestly think the sea’s such a rotten life, why don’t you get out of it?
BURKE–[Surprised.] Work on land, is it? [She nods. He spits scornfully.] Digging spuds in the muck from dawn to dark, I suppose? [Vehemently.] I wasn’t made for it, Miss.
ANNA–[With a laugh.] I thought you’d say that.
BURKE–[Argumentatively.] But there’s good jobs and bad jobs at sea, like there’d be on land. I’m thinking if it’s in the stokehole of a proper liner I was, I’d be able to have a little house and be home to it wan week out of four. And I’m thinking that maybe then I’d have the luck to find a fine dacent girl–the like of yourself, now–would be willing to wed with me.
ANNA–[Turning away from him with a short laugh–uneasily.] Why, sure. Why not?
BURKE–[Edging up close to her–exultantly.] Then you think a girl the like of yourself might maybe not mind the past at all but only be seeing the good herself put in me?
ANNA–[In the same tone.] Why, sure.
BURKE–[Passionately.] She’d not be sorry for it, I’d take my oath! ‘Tis no more drinking and roving about I’d be doing then, but giving my pay day into her hand and staying at home with her as meek as a lamb each night of the week I’d be in port.
ANNA–[Moved in spite of herself and troubled by this half- concealed proposal–with a forced laugh.] All you got to do is find the girl.
BURKE–I have found her!
ANNA–[Half-frightenedly–trying to laugh it off.] You have? When? I thought you was saying–
BURKE–[Boldly and forcefully.] This night. [Hanging his head– humbly.] If she’ll be having me. [Then raising his eyes to hers– simply.] ‘Tis you I mean.
ANNA–[Is held by his eyes for a moment–then shrinks back from him with a strange, broken laugh.] Say–are you–going crazy? Are you trying to kid me? Proposing–to me!–for Gawd’s sake!–on such short acquaintance? [CHRIS comes out of the cabin and stands staring blinkingly astern. When he makes out ANNA in such intimate proximity to this strange sailor, an angry expression comes over his face.]
BURKE–[Following her–with fierce, pleading insistence.] I’m telling you there’s the will of God in it that brought me safe through the storm and fog to the wan spot in the world where you was! Think of that now, and isn’t it queer–
CHRIS–Anna! [He comes toward them, raging, his fists clenched.] Anna, you gat in cabin, you hear!
ANNA–[All her emotions immediately transformed into resentment at his bullying tone.] Who d’you think you’re talking to–a slave?
CHRIS–[Hurt–his voice breaking–pleadingly.] You need gat rest, Anna. You gat sleep. [She does not move. He turns on BURKE furiously.] What you doing here, you sailor fallar? You ain’t sick like oders. You gat in fo’c’s’tle. Dey give you bunk. [Threateningly.] You hurry, Ay tal you!
ANNA–[Impulsively.] But he is sick. Look at him. He can hardly stand up.
BURKE–[Straightening and throwing out his chest–with a bold laugh.] Is it giving me orders ye are, me bucko? Let you look out, then! With wan hand, weak as I am, I can break ye in two and fling the pieces over the side–and your crew after you. [Stopping abruptly.] I was forgetting. You’re her Old Man and I’d not raise a fist to you for the world. [His knees sag, he wavers and seems about to fall. ANNA utters an exclamation of alarm and hurries to his slde.]
ANNA–[Taking one of his arms over her shoulder.] Come on in the cabin. You can have my bed if there ain’t no other place.
BURKE–[With jubilant happiness–as they proceed toward the cabin.] Glory be to God, is it holding my arm about your neck you are! Anna! Anna! Sure it’s a sweet name is suited to you.
ANNA–[Guiding him carefully.] Sssh! Sssh!
BURKE–Whisht, is it? Indade, and I’ll not. I’ll be roaring it out like a fog horn over the sea! You’re the girl of the world and we’ll be marrying soon and I don’t care who knows it!
ANNA–[As she guides him through the cabin door.] Ssshh! Never mind that talk. You go to sleep. [They go out of sight in the cabin. CHRIS, who has been listening to BURKE’s last words with open-mouthed amazement stands looking after them helplessly.]
CHRIS–[Turns suddenly and shakes his fist out at the sea–with bitter hatred.] Dat’s your dirty trick, damn ole davil, you! [Then in a frenzy of rage.] But, py God, you don’t do dat! Not while Ay’m living! No, py God, you don’t!
[The Curtain Falls]
SCENE–The interior of the cabin on the barge, “Simeon Winthrop” (at dock in Boston)–a narrow, low-ceilinged compartment the walls of which are painted a light brown with white trimmings. In the rear on the left, a door leading to the sleeping quarters. In the far left corner, a large locker-closet, painted white, on the door of which a mirror hangs on a nail. In the rear wall, two small square windows and a door opening out on the deck toward the stern. In the right wall, two more windows looking out on the port deck. White curtains, clean and stiff, are at the windows. A table with two cane-bottomed chairs stands in the center of the cabin. A dilapidated, wicker rocker, painted brown, is also by the table.
It is afternoon of a sunny day about a week later. From the harbor and docks outside, muffled by the closed door and windows, comes the sound of steamers’ whistles and the puffing snort of the donkey engines of some ship unloading nearby.
As the curtain rises, CHRIS and ANNA are discovered. ANNA is seated in the rocking-chair by the table, with a newspaper in her hands. She is not reading but staring straight in front of her. She looks unhappy, troubled, frowningly concentrated on her thoughts. CHRIS wanders about the room, casting quick, uneasy side glances at her face, then stopping to peer absentmindedly out of the window. His attitude betrays an overwhelming, gloomy anxiety which has him on tenter hooks. He pretends to be engaged in setting things ship-shape, but this occupation is confined to picking up some object, staring at it stupidly for a second, then aimlessly putting it down again. He clears his throat and starts to sing to himself in a low, doleful voice: “My Yosephine, come aboard de ship. Long time Ay wait for you.”
ANNA–[Turning on him, sarcastically.] I’m glad someone’s feeling good. [Wearily.] Gee, I sure wish we was out of this dump and back in New York.
CHRIS–[With a sigh.] Ay’m glad vhen ve sail again, too. [Then, as she makes no comment, he goes on with a ponderous attempt at sarcasm.] Ay don’t see vhy you don’t like Boston, dough. You have good time here, Ay tank. You go ashore all time, every day and night veek ve’ve been here. You go to movies, see show, gat all kinds fun–[His eyes hard with hatred.] All with that damn Irish fallar!
ANNA–[With weary scorn.] Oh, for heaven’s sake, are you off on that again? Where’s the harm in his taking me around? D’you want me to sit all day and night in this cabin with you–and knit? Ain’t I got a right to have as good a time as I can?
CHRIS–It ain’t right kind of fun–not with that fallar, no.
ANNA–I been back on board every night by eleven, ain’t I? [Then struck by some thought–looks at him with keen suspicion–with rising anger.] Say, look here, what d’you mean by what you yust said?
CHRIS–[Hastily.] Nutting but what Ay say, Anna.
ANNA–You said “ain’t right” and you said it funny. Say, listen here, you ain’t trying to insinuate that there’s something wrong between us, are you?
CHRIS–[Horrified.] No, Anna! No, Ay svear to God, Ay never tank dat!
ANNA–[Mollified by his very evident sincerity–sitting down again.] Well, don’t you never think it neither if you want me ever to speak to you again. [Angrily again.] If I ever dreamt you thought that, I’d get the hell out of this barge so quick you couldn’t see me for dust.
CHRIS–[Soothingly.] Ay wouldn’t never dream–[Then, after a second’s pause, reprovingly.] You vas gatting learn to svear. Dat ain’t nice for young gel, you tank?
ANNA–[With a faint trace of a smile.] Excuse me. You ain’t used to such language, I know. [Mockingly.] That’s what your taking me to sea has done for me.
CHRIS–[Indignantly.] No, it ain’t me. It’s dat damn sailor fallar learn you bad tangs.
ANNA–He ain’t a sailor. He’s a stoker.
CHRIS–[Forcibly.] Dat vas million times vorse, Ay tal you! Dem fallars dat vork below shoveling coal vas de dirtiest, rough gang of no-good fallars in vorld!
ANNA–I’d hate to hear you say that to Mat.
CHRIS–Oh, Ay tal him same tang. You don’t gat it in head Ay’m scared of him yust ’cause he vas stronger’n Ay vas. [Menacingly.] You don’t gat for fight with fists with dem fallars. Dere’s oder vay for fix him.
ANNA–[Glancing at him with sudden alarm.] What d’you mean?
ANNA–You’d better not. I wouldn’t start no trouble with him if I was you. He might forget some time that you was old and my father– and then you’d be out of luck.
CHRIS–[With smouldering hatred.] Vell, yust let him! Ay’m ole bird maybe, but Ay bet Ay show him trick or two.
ANNA–[Suddenly changing her tone–persuasively.] Aw come on, be good. What’s eating you, anyway? Don’t you want no one to be nice to me except yourself?
CHRIS–[Placated–coming to her–eagerly.] Yes, Ay do, Anna–only not fallar on sea. But Ay like for you marry steady fallar got good yob on land. You have little home in country all your own–
ANNA–[Rising to her feet–brusquely.] Oh, cut it out! [Scornfully.] Little home in the country! I wish you could have seen the little home in the country where you had me in jail till I was sixteen! [With rising irritation.] Some day you’re going to get me so mad with that talk, I’m going to turn loose on you and tell you–a lot of things that’ll open your eyes.
CHRIS–[Alarmed.] Ay don’t vant–
ANNA–I know you don’t; but you keep on talking yust the same.
CHRIS–Ay don’t talk no more den, Anna.
ANNA–Then promise me you’ll cut out saying nasty things about Mat Burke every chance you get.
CHRIS–[Evasive and suspicious.] Vhy? You like dat fallar–very much, Anna?
ANNA–Yes, I certainly do! He’s a regular man, no matter what faults he’s got. One of his fingers is worth all the hundreds of men I met out there–inland.
CHRIS–[His face darkening.] Maybe you tank you love him, den?
ANNA–[Defiantly.] What of it if I do?
CHRIS–[Scowling and forcing out the words.] Maybe–you tank you– marry him?
ANNA–[Shaking her head.] No! [CHRIS’ face lights up with relief. ANNA continues slowly, a trace of sadness in her voice.] If I’d met him four years ago–or even two years ago–I’d have jumped at the chance, I tell you that straight. And I would now–only he’s such a simple guy–a big kid–and I ain’t got the heart to fool him. [She breaks off suddenly.] But don’t never say again he ain’t good enough for me. It’s me ain’t good enough for him.
CHRIS–[Snorts scornfully.] Py yiminy, you go crazy, Ay tank!
ANNA–[With a mournful laugh.] Well, I been thinking I was myself the last few days. [She goes and takes a shawl from a hook near the door and throws it over her shoulders.] Guess I’ll take a walk down to the end of the dock for a minute and see what’s doing. I love to watch the ships passing. Mat’ll be along before long, I guess. Tell him where I am, will you?
CHRIS–[Despondently.] All right, Ay tal him. [ANNA goes out the doorway on rear. CHRIS follows her out and stands on the deck outside for a moment looking after her. Then he comes back inside and shuts the door. He stands looking out of the window–mutters– “Dirty die davil, you.” Then he goes to the table, sets the cloth straight mechanically, picks up the newspaper ANNA has let fall to the floor and sits down in the rocking-chair. He stares at the paper for a while, then puts it on table, holds his head in his hands and sighs drearily. The noise of a man’s heavy footsteps comes from the deck outside and there is a loud knock on the door. CHRIS starts, makes a move as if to get up and go to the door, then thinks better of it and sits still. The knock is repeated– then as no answer comes, the door is flung open and MAT BURKE appears. CHRIS scowls at the intruder and his hand instinctively goes back to the sheath knife on his hip. BURKE is dressed up– wears a cheap blue suit, a striped cotton shirt with a black tie, and black shoes newly shined. His face is beaming with good humor.]
BURKE–[As he sees CHRIS–in a jovial tone of mockery.] Well, God bless who’s here! [He bends down and squeezes his huge form through the narrow doorway.] And how is the world treating you this afternoon, Anna’s father?
CHRIS–[Sullenly.] Pooty goot–if it ain’t for some fallars. BURKE–[With a grin.] Meaning me, do you? [He laughs.] Well, if you ain’t the funny old crank of a man! [Then soberly.] Where’s herself? [CHRIS sits dumb, scowling, his eyes averted. BURKE is irritated by this silence.] Where’s Anna, I’m after asking you?
CHRIS–[Hesitating–then grouchily.] She go down end of dock.
BURKE–I’ll be going down to her, then. But first I’m thinking I’ll take this chance when we’re alone to have a word with you. [He sits down opposite CHRIS at the table and leans over toward him.] And that word is soon said. I’m marrying your Anna before this day is out, and you might as well make up your mind to it whether you like it or no.
CHRIS–[Glaring at him with hatred and forcing a scornful laugh.] Ho-ho! Dat’s easy for say!
BURKE–You mean I won’t? [Scornfully.] Is it the like of yourself will stop me, are you thinking?
CHRIS–Yes, Ay stop it, if it come to vorst.
BURKE–[With scornful pity.] God help you!
CHRIS–But ain’t no need for me do dat. Anna–
BURKE–[Smiling confidently.] Is it Anna you think will prevent me?
BURKE–And I’m telling you she’ll not. She knows I’m loving her, and she loves me the same, and I know it.
CHRIS–Ho-ho! She only have fun. She make big fool of you, dat’s all!
BURKE–[Unshaken–pleasantly.] That’s a lie in your throat, divil mend you!
CHRIS–No, it ain’t lie. She tal me yust before she go out she never marry fallar like you.
BURKE–I’ll not believe it. ‘Tis a great old liar you are, and a divil to be making a power of trouble if you had your way. But ’tis not trouble I’m looking for, and me sitting down here. [Earnestly.] Let us be talking it out now as man to man. You’re her father, and wouldn’t it be a shame for us to be at each other’s throats like a pair of dogs, and I married with Anna. So out with the truth, man alive. What is it you’re holding against me at all?
CHRIS–[A bit placated, in spite of himself, by BURKE’S evident sincerity–but puzzled and suspicious.] Vell–Ay don’t vant for Anna gat married. Listen, you fallar. Ay’m a ole man. Ay don’t see Anna for fifteen year. She vas all Ay gat in vorld. And now ven she come on first trip–you tank Ay vant her leave me ‘lone again?
BURKE–[Heartily.] Let you not be thinking I have no heart at all for the way you’d be feeling.
CHRIS–[Astonished and encouraged–trying to plead persuasively.] Den you do right tang, eh? You ship avay again, leave Anna alone. [Cajolingly.] Big fallar like you dat’s on sea, he don’t need vife. He gat new gel in every port, you know dat.
BURKE–[Angry for a second.] God stiffen you! [Then controlling himself–calmly.] I’ll not be giving you the lie on that. But divil take you, there’s a time comes to every man, on sea or land, that isn’t a born fool, when he’s sick of the lot of them cows, and wearing his heart out to meet up with a fine dacent girl, and have a home to call his own and be rearing up children in it. ‘Tis small use you’re asking me to leave Anna. She’s the wan woman of the world for me, and I can’t live without her now, I’m thinking.
CHRIS–You forgat all about her in one veek out of port, Ay bet you!
BUEKE–You don’t know the like I am. Death itself wouldn’t make me forget her. So let you not be making talk to me about leaving her. I’ll not, and be damned to you! It won’t be so bad for you as you’d make out at all. She’ll be living here in the States, and her married to me. And you’d be seeing her often so–a sight more often than ever you saw her the fifteen years she was growing up in the West. It’s quare you’d be the one to be making great trouble about her leaving you when you never laid eyes on her once in all them years.
CHRIS–[Guiltily.] Ay taught it vas better Anna stay avay, grow up inland where she don’t ever know ole davil, sea.
BURKE–[Scornfully.] Is it blaming the sea for your troubles ye