The Emperor Jones
Nora } _his children_
Eileen Carmody, _Bill's eldest child_
Miss Howard, _a nurse in training_
Miss Gilpin, _superintendent of the Infirmary_
Doctor Stanton, _of the Hill Farm Sanatorium_
Doctor Simms, _his assistant_
Peters, _a patient_
Mrs. Turner, _matron of the Sanatorium_
Miss Bailey }
Mrs. Abner } _Patients_
Other Patients of the Sanatorium
(_The characters are named in the order in which they appear_)
Scene One: The Kitchen of the Carmody Home--Evening.
Scene Two: The Reception Room of the Infirmary, Hill Farm
Sanatorium--An Evening a Week Later.
Scene One: Assembly Room of the Main Building at the Sanatorium--A
Morning Four Months Later.
Scene Two: A Crossroads Near the Sanatorium--Midnight of the Same Day.
An Isolation Room and Porch at the Sanatorium--An Afternoon Four Months
Act One: Scene One
_The kitchen of the Carmody home on the outskirts of a manufacturing
town in Connecticut. On the left, forward, the sink. Farther back,
two windows looking out on the yard. In the left corner, rear, the
icebox. Immediately to the right of it, in the rear wall, a window
opening on the side porch. To the right of this, a china cupboard,
and a door leading into the hall where the main front entrance to
the house and the stairs to the floor above are situated. On the
right, to the rear, a door opening on to the dining room. Further
forward, the kitchen range with scuttle, wood box, etc. In the
centre of the room, a table with a red and white cloth. Four
cane-bottomed chairs are pushed under the table. In front of the
stove, two battered wicker rocking chairs. The floor is partly
covered by linoleum strips. The walls are papered a light cheerful
colour. Several old framed picture-supplement prints hang from
nails. Everything has a clean, neatly-kept appearance. The supper
dishes are piled in the sink ready for washing. A saucepan of water
simmers on the stove._
_It is about eight o'clock in the evening of a bitter cold day in
late February of the year 1912._
_As the curtain rises,_ Bill Carmody _is discovered fitting in a
rocker by the stove, reading a newspaper and smoking a blackened
clay pipe. He is a man of fifty, heavy-set and round-shouldered,
with long muscular arms and swollen-veined, hairy hands. His face
is bony and ponderous; his nose short and squat; his mouth large,
thick-lipped and harsh; his complexion mottled--red, purple-streaked,
and freckled; his hair, short and stubby with a bald spot on the
crown. The expression of his small, blue eyes is one of selfish
cunning. His voice is loud and hoarse. He wears a flannel shirt,
open at the neck, criss-crossed by red braces; black, baggy
trousers grey with dust; muddy brogues._
_His youngest daughter,_ Mary, _is sitting on a chair by the table,
front, turning over the pages of a picture book. She is a delicate,
dark-haired, blue-eyed, quiet little girl about eight years old._
CARMODY (_after watching the child's preoccupation for a moment, in a
tone of half exasperated amusement_). Well, but you're the quiet one,
surely! (_Mary looks up at him with a shy smile, her eyes still full of
dreams._) Glory be to God, I'd not know a soul was alive in the room,
barrin' myself. What is it you're at, Mary, that there's not a word out
MARY. I'm looking at the pictures.
CARMODY. It's the dead spit and image of your sister Eileen you are,
with your nose always in a book; and you're like your mother, too, God
rest her soul. (_He crosses himself with pious unction and_ Mary _also
does so._) It's Nora and Tom has the high spirits in them like their
father; and Billy, too,--if he is a lazy, shiftless divil--has the
fightin' Carmody blood like me. You're a Cullen like your mother's
people. They always was dreamin' their lives out. (_He lights his pipe
and shakes his head with ponderous gravity._) There's no good in too
many books, I'll tell you. It's out rompin' and playin' with your
brother and sister you ought to be at your age, not carin' a fig for
books. (_With a glance at the clock._) Is that auld fool of a doctor
stayin' the night? If he had his wits about him he'd know in a jiffy
'tis only a cold has taken Eileen, and give her the medicine. Run out
in the hall, Mary, and see if you hear him. He may have sneaked away by
the front door.
MARY (_goes out into the hall, rear, and comes back_). He's upstairs. I
heard him talking to Eileen.
CARMODY. Close the door, ye little divil! There's a freezin' draught
comin' in. (_She does so and comes back to her chair._ Carmody
_continues with a sneer._) It's mad I am to be thinkin' he'd go without
gettin' his money--the like of a doctor! (_Angrily._) Rogues and
thieves they are, the lot of them, robbin' the poor like us! I've no
use for their drugs at all. They only keep you sick to pay more visits.
I'd not have sent for this bucko if Eileen didn't scare me by faintin'.
MARY (_anxiously_). Is Eileen very sick, Papa?
CARMODY (_spitting--roughly_). If she is, it's her own fault
entirely--weakenin' her health by readin' here in the house. This'll be
a lesson for her, and for you, too. (_Irritably._) Put down that book
on the table and leave it be. I'll have no more readin' in this house,
or I'll take the strap to you!
MARY (_laying the book on the table_). It's only pictures.
CARMODY. No back talk! Pictures or not, it's all the same mopin' and
lazin' in it. (_After a pause--morosely._) It's the bad luck I've been
havin' altogether this last year since your mother died. Who's to do
the work and look after Nora and Tom and yourself, if Eileen is bad
took and has to stay in her bed? I'll have to get Mrs. Brennan come
look after the house. That means money, too, and where's it to come
from? All that I've saved from slavin' and sweatin' in the sun with a
gang of lazy Dagoes'll be up the spout in no time. (_Bitterly._) What a
fool a man is to be raisin' a raft of children and him not a
millionaire! (_With lugubrious self-pity._) Mary, dear, it's a black
curse God put on me when he took your mother just when I needed her
most. (Mary _commences to sob._ Carmody _starts and looks at her
angrily._) What are you sniffin' at?
MARY (_tearfully_). I was thinking--of Mamma.
CARMODY (_scornfully_). It's late you are with your tears, and her cold
in her grave for a year. Stop it, I'm tellin' you! (Mary _gulps back
(_There is a noise of childish laughter and screams from the
street in front. The outside door is opened and slammed,
footsteps pound along the hall. The door in the rear is pushed
open, and_ Nora _and_ Tom _rush in breathlessly._ Nora _is a
bright, vivacious, red-haired girl of eleven--pretty after an
elfish, mischievous fashion--light-hearted and robust._)
(Tom _resembles_ Nora _in disposition and appearance. A healthy,
good-humoured youngster with a shock of sandy hair. He is a year
younger than_ Nora. _They are followed into the room, a moment
later, by their brother_ Billy, _who is evidently loftily
disgusted with their antics._ Billy _is a fourteen-year-old
replica of his father, whom he imitates even to the hoarse,
domineering tone of voice._)
CARMODY (_grumpily_). Ah, here you are, the lot of you. Shut that door
after you! What's the use in me spendin' money for coal if all you do
is to let the cold night in the room itself?
NORA (_hopping over to him--teasingly_). Me and Tom had a race, Papa. I
beat him. (_She sticks her tongue out at her younger brother._) Slow
TOM. You didn't beat me, neither!
NORA. I did, too!
TOM. You did not! You didn't play fair. You tripped me comin' up the
steps. Brick-top! Cheater!
NORA (_flaring up_). You're a liar! You stumbled over your own big
feet, clumsy bones! And I beat you fair Didn't I, Papa?
CARMODY (_with a grin_). You did, darlin', and fair, too. (Tom _slinks
back to the chair in the rear of table, sulking._ Carmody _pats_ Nora's
_red hair with delighted pride._) Sure it's you can beat the divil
NORA (_sticks out her tongue again at_ Tom). See? Liar! (_She goes and
perches on the table near_ Mary, _who is staring sadly in front of
CARMODY (_to_ Billy--_irritably_). Did you get the plug for me I told
BILLY. Sure. (_He takes a plug of tobacco from his pocket and hands it
to his father._ Nora _slides down off her perch and disappears,
unnoticed, under the table._)
CARMODY. It's a great wonder you didn't forget it--and me without a
chew. (_He bites off a piece and tucks it into his cheek._)
TOM (_suddenly clutching at his leg with a yell_). Ouch! Darn you! (_He
kicks frantically at something under the table, but_ Nora _scrambles
out at the other end, grinning._)
CARMODY (_angrily_). Shut your big mouth! What is the matter with you
TOM (_indignantly_). She pinched me--hard as she could, too--and look
at her laughin'!
NORA (_hopping on the table again_). Cry-baby! I owed you one.
TOM. I'll fix you. I'll tell Eileen, wait 'n' see!
NORA. Tattle-tale! I don't care. Eileen's sick.
TOM. That's why you dast do it. You dasn't if she was up. I'll get
even, you bet!
CARMODY (_exasperated_). Shut up your noise! Go up to bed, the two of
you, and no more talk, and you go with them, Mary.
NORA (_giving a quick tug at_ Mary's _hair_). Come on, Mary. Wake up.
MARY. Ow! (_She begins to cry._)
CARMODY (_raising his voice furiously_). Hush your noise, you soft,
weak thing, you! It's nothin' but blubberin' you do be doin' all the
time. (_He stands up threateningly._) I'll have a moment's peace, I
will! Off to bed with you before I get the strap! It's crazy mad you
all get the moment Eileen's away from you. Go on, now! (_They scurry
out of the rear door._) And be quiet or I'll be up to you!
NORA (_sticks her head back in the door_). Can I say good-night to
CARMODY. No. The doctor's with her yet. (_Then he adds hastily._) Yes,
go in to her, Nora. It'll drive himself out of the house maybe, bad
cess to him, and him stayin' half the night. (Nora _waits to hear no
more but darts back, shutting the door behind her._ Billy _takes the
chair in front of the table._ Carmody _sits down again with a groan._)
The rheumatics are in my leg again. (_Shakes his head._) If Eileen's in
bed long those brats'll have the house down.
BILLY. Eileen ain't sick very bad, is she?
CARMODY (_easily_). It's a cold only she has. (_Then mournfully._) Your
poor mother died of the same. (Billy _looks awed._) Ara, well, it's
God's will, I suppose, but where the money'll come from, I dunno.
(_With a disparaging glance at his son._) They'll not be raisin' your
wages soon, I'll be bound.
BILLY (_surlily_). Naw. The old boss never gives no one a raise, 'less
he has to. He's a tight-wad for fair.
CARMODY (_still scanning him with contempt_). Five dollars a week--for
a strappin' lad the like of you! It's shamed you should be to own up to
it. A divil of a lot of good it was for me to go against Eileen's wish
and let you leave off your schoolin' this year like you wanted,
thinkin' the money you'd earn at work would help with the house.
BILLY. Aw, goin' to school didn't do me no good. The teachers was all
down on me. I couldn't learn nothin' there.
CARMODY (_disgustedly_). Nor any other place, I'm thinkin', you're that
thick, (_There is a noise from the stairs in the hall._) Whisht! It's
the doctor comin' down from Eileen. What'll he say, I wonder? (_The
door in the rear is opened and_ Doctor Gaynor _enters. He is a stout,
bald, middle-aged man, forceful of speech, who in the case of patients
of the Carmodys' class dictates rather than advises._ Carmody _adopts a
whining tone._) Aw, Doctor, and how's Eileen now? Have you got her
cured of the weakness?
GAYNOR (_does not answer this but comes forward into the room holding
out two slips of paper--dictatorially_). Here are two prescriptions
that'll have to be filled immediately.
CARMODY (_frowning_). You take them, Billy, and run round to the drug
store. (Gaynor _hands them to_ Billy.)
BILLY. Give me the money, then.
CARMODY (_reaches down into his trousers pocket with a sigh_). How much
will they come to, Doctor?
GAYNOR. About a dollar, I guess.
CARMODY (_protestingly_). A dollar! Sure it's expensive medicines
you're givin' her for a bit of a cold. (_He meets the doctor's cold
glance of contempt and he wilts--grumblingly, as he peels a dollar bill
off a small roll and gives it to_ Billy.) Bring back the change--if
there is any. And none of your tricks, for I'll stop at the drug store
myself to-morrow and ask the man how much it was.
BILLY. Aw, what do you think I am? (_He takes the money and goes out._)
CARMODY (_grudgingly_). Take a chair, Doctor, and tell me what's wrong
GAYNOR (_seating himself by the table--gravely_). Your daughter is very
CARMODY (_irritably_). Aw, Doctor, didn't I know you'd be sayin' that,
GAYNOR (_ignoring this remark--coldly_). Your daughter has tuberculosis
of the lungs.
CARMODY (_with puzzled awe_). Too-ber-c'losis?
GAYNOR. Consumption, if that makes it plainer to you.
CARMODY (_with dazed terror--after a pause_). Consumption? Eileen?
(_With sudden anger._) What lie is it you're tellin' me?
GAYNOR (_icily_). Look here, Carmody! I'm not here to stand for your
CARMODY (_bewilderingly_). Don't be angry, now, at what I said. Sure
I'm out of my wits entirely. Eileen to have the consumption! Ah,
Doctor, sure you must be mistaken!
GAYNOR. There's no chance for a mistake, I'm sorry to say. Her right
lung is badly affected.
CARMODY (_desperately_). It's a bad cold only, maybe.
GAYNOR (_curtly_). Don't talk nonsense. (Carmody _groans._ Gaynor
_continues authoritatively._) She will have to go to a sanatorium at
once. She ought to have been sent to one months ago. The girl's been
keeping up on her nerve when she should have been in bed, and it's
given the disease a chance to develop. (_Casts a look of indignant
scorn at_ Carmody, _who is sitting staring at the floor with an
expression of angry stupor on his face._) It's a wonder to me you
didn't see the condition she was in and force her to take care of
herself. Why, the girl's nothing but skin and bone!
CARMODY (_with vague fury_). God blast it!
GAYNOR. No, your kind never realises things till the crash
comes--usually when it's too late. She kept on doing her work, I
suppose--taking care of her brothers and sisters, washing, cooking,
sweeping, looking after your comfort--worn out--when she should have
been in bed--and---- (_He gets to his feet with a harsh laugh._) But
what's the use of talking? The damage is done. We've got to set to work
to repair it at once. I'll write to-night to Dr. Stanton of the Hill
Farm Sanatorium and find out if he has a vacancy. And if luck is with
us we can send her there at once. The sooner the better.
CARMODY (_his face growing red with rage_). Is it sendin' Eileen away
to a hospital you'd be? (_Exploding._) Then you'll not! You'll get that
notion out of your head damn quick. It's all nonsense you're stuffin'
me with, and lies, makin' things out to be the worst in the world. I'll
not believe a word of Eileen having the consumption at all. It's
doctors' notions to be always lookin' for a sickness that'd kill you.
She'll not move a step out of here, and I say so, and I'm her father!
GAYNOR (_who has been staring at him with contempt--coldly angry_). You
refuse to let your daughter go to a sanatorium?
CARMODY. I do.
GAYNOR (_threateningly_). Then I'll have to report her case to the
Society for the Prevention of Tuberculosis of this county, and tell
them of your refusal to help her.
CARMODY (_wavering a bit_). Report all you like, and be damned to you!
GAYNOR (_ignoring the interruption--impressively_). A majority of the
most influential men of this city are behind the Society. Do you know
that? (_Grimly._) We'll find a way to move you, Carmody, if you try to
CARMODY (_thoroughly frightened, but still protesting_). Ara, Doctor,
you don't see the way of it at all. If Eileen goes to the hospital,
who's to be takin' care of the others, and mindin' the house when I'm
off to work?
GAYNOR. You can easily hire some woman.
CARMODY (_at once furious again_). Hire? D'you think I'm a millionaire
GAYNOR (_contemptuously_). That's where the shoe pinches, eh? (_In a
rage._) I'm not going to waste any more words on you, Carmody, but I'm
damn well going to see this thing through! You might as well give in
first as last.
CARMODY (_wailing_). But where's the money comin' from?
GAYNOR (_brutally_). That's your concern. Don't lie about your poverty.
You've a steady well-paid job, and plenty of money to throw away on
drunken sprees, I'll bet. The weekly fee at the Hill Farm is only seven
dollars. You can easily afford that--the price of a few rounds of
CARMODY. Seven dollars! And I'll have to pay a woman to come in--and
the four of the children eatin' their heads off! Glory be to God, I'll
not have a penny saved for me old age--and then it's the poor-house!
GAYNOR (_curtly_). Don't talk nonsense!
CARMODY. Ah, doctor, it's the truth I'm tellin' you!
GAYNOR. Well, perhaps I can get the Society to pay half for your
daughter--if you're really as hard up as you pretend. They're willing
to do that where it seems necessary.
CARMODY (_brightening_). Ah, Doctor, thank you.
GAYNOR (_abruptly_). Then it's all settled?
CARMODY (_grudgingly--trying to make the best of it_). I'll do my best
for Eileen, if it's needful--and you'll not be tellin' them people
about it at all, Doctor?
GAYNOR. Not unless you force me to.
CARMODY. And they'll pay the half, surely?
GAYNOR. I'll see what I can do--for your daughter's sake, not yours,
CARMODY. God bless you, Doctor! (_Grumblingly._) It's the whole of it
they ought to be payin', I'm thinkin', and them with bags of money.
'Tis them builds the hospitals and why should they be wantin' the poor
like me to support them?
GAYNOR (_disgustedly_). Bah! (_Abruptly._) I'll telephone to Doctor
Stanton to-morrow morning. Then I'll know something definite when I
come to see your daughter in the afternoon.
CARMODY (_darkly_). You'll be comin' again tomorrow? (_Half to
himself._) Leave it to the likes of you to be drainin' a man dry.
(Gaynor _has gone out to the hall in rear and does not hear this last
remark. There is a loud knock from the outside door. The Doctor comes
back into the room carrying his hat and overcoat._)
GAYNOR. There's someone knocking.
CARMODY. Who'll it be? Ah, it's Fred Nicholls, maybe. (_In a low voice
to_ Gaynor _who has started to put on his overcoat._) Eileen's young
man, Doctor, that she's engaged to marry, as you might say.
GAYNOR (_thoughtfully_). H'mm--yes--she spoke of him.
(_As another knock sounds_ Carmody _hurries to the rear._ Gaynor,
_after a moments indecision, takes off his overcoat again and
sits down. A moment later_ Carmody _re-enters, followed by_ Fred
Nicholls, _who has left his overcoat and hat in the hallway._
Nicholls _is a young fellow of twenty-three, stockily built,
fair-haired, handsome in a commonplace, conventional mould. His
manner is obviously an attempt at suave gentility; he has an
easy, taking smile and a ready laugh, but there is a petty,
calculating expression in his small, observing, blue eyes. His
well-fitting, ready-made clothes are carefully pressed. His whole
get-up suggests an attitude of man-about-small-town
CARMODY (_as they enter_). I had a mind to phone to your house, but I
wasn't wishful to disturb you, knowin' you'd be comin' to call
NICHOLLS (_with disappointed concern_). It's nothing serious, I hope.
CARMODY (_grumblingly_). Ah, who knows? Here's the doctor. You've not
NICHOLLS (_politely, looking at_ Gaynor, _who inclines his head
stiffly_). I haven't had the pleasure. Of course, I've heard----
CARMODY. It's Doctor Gaynor. This is Fred Nicholls, Doctor. (_The two
men shake hands with conventional greetings._) Sit down, Fred, that's a
good lad, and be talkin' to the Doctor a moment while I go upstairs and
see how is Eileen. She's all alone up there.
NICHOLLS. Certainly, Mr. Carmody. Go ahead--and tell her how sorry I am
to learn she's under the weather.
CARMODY. I will so. (_He goes out._)
GAYNOR (_after a pause in which he is studying_ Nicholls). Do you
happen to be any relative to the Albert Nicholls who is superintendent
over at the Downs Manufacturing Company?
NICHOLLS (_smiling_). He's sort of a near relative--my father.
GAYNOR. Ah, yes?
NICHOLLS (_with satisfaction_). I work for the Downs Company
GAYNOR. Miss Carmody--the sick girl upstairs--she had a position there
also, didn't she, before her mother died?
NICHOLLS. Yes. She had a job as stenographer for a time. When she
graduated from the business college course--I was already working at
the Downs--and through my father's influence--you understand. (Gaynor
_nods curtly._) She was getting on finely, too, and liked the work.
It's too bad--her mother's death, I mean--forcing her to give it up and
come home to take care of those kids.
GAYNOR. It's a damn shame. That's the main cause of her breakdown.
NICHOLLS (_frowning_). I've noticed she's been looking badly lately. So
that's the trouble? Well, it's all her father's fault--and her own,
too, because whenever I raised a kick about his making a slave of her,
she always defended him. (_With a quick glance at the Doctor--in a
confidential tone._) Between us, Carmody's as selfish as they make 'em,
if you want my opinion.
GAYNOR (_with a growl_). He's a hog on two legs.
NICHOLLS (_with a gratified smile_). You bet! (_With a patronising
air._) I hope to get Eileen away from all this as soon as--things pick
up a little. (_Making haste to explain his connection with the dubious
household._) Eileen and I have gone around together for years--went to
Grammar and High School together--in different classes, of course.
She's really a corker--very different from the rest of the family
you've seen--like her mother. She's really educated and knows a
lot--used to carry off all the prizes at school. My folks like her
awfully well. Of course, they'd never stand for--him.
GAYNOR. You'll excuse my curiosity--I've a good reason for it--but you
and Miss Carmody are engaged, aren't you? Carmody said you were.
NICHOLLS (_embarrassed_). Why, yes, in a way--but nothing definite--no
official announcement or anything of that kind. It's all in the future.
We have to wait, you know. (_With a sentimental smile._) We've been
sort of engaged for years, you might say. It's always been sort of
understood between us. (_He laughs awkwardly._)
GAYNOR (_gravely_). Then I can be frank with you. I'd like to be
because I may need your help. I don't put much faith in any promise
Carmody makes. Besides, you're bound to know anyway. She'd tell you.
NICHOLLS (_a look of apprehension coming over his face_). Is it--about
NICHOLLS. Then--it's serious?
GAYNOR. It's pulmonary tuberculosis--consumption.
NICHOLLS (_stunned_). Consumption? Good heavens! (_After a dazed
pause--lamely._) Are you sure, Doctor?
GAYNOR. Positive. (Nicholls _stares at him with vaguely frightened
eyes._) It's had a good start--thanks to her father's blind
selfishness--but let's hope that can be overcome. The important thing
is to ship her off to a sanatorium immediately. Carmody wouldn't hear
of it at first. However, I managed to bully him into consenting; but I
don't trust his word. That's where you can be of help. It's up to you
to convince him that it's imperative she be sent away at once--for the
safety of those around her as well as her own.
NICHOLLS (_confusedly_). I'll do my best, Doctor. (_As if he couldn't
yet believe his ears--shuddering!_) Good heavens! She never said a word
about--being so ill. She's had a cold. But, Doctor--do you think this
GAYNOR (_with hearty hopefulness_). Most certainly. She has every
chance. The Hill Farm has a really surprising record of arrested
cases--as good as any place in the country. Of course, she'll never be
able to live as carelessly as before, even after the most favourable
results. She'll have to take care of herself. (_Apologetically._) I'm
telling you all this as being the one most intimately concerned. I
don't count Carmody. You are the one who will have to assume
responsibility for her welfare when she returns to everyday life.
NICHOLLS (_answering as if he were merely talking to screen the
thoughts in his mind_). Yes--certainly. Where is this sanatorium,
Doctor--very far away?
GAYNOR. Half an hour by train to the town. The sanatorium is two miles
out on the hills--a nice drive. You'll be able to see her whenever
you've a day off. It's a pleasant trip.
NICHOLLS (_a look of horrified realisation has been creeping into his
eyes_). You said--Eileen ought to be sent away--for the sake of those
GAYNOR. That's obvious. T.B. is extremely contagious, you must know
that. Yet I'll bet she's been fondling and kissing those brothers and
sisters of hers regardless. (_Nicholls fidgets uneasily on his chair._)
And look at this house sealed tight against the fresh air! Not a window
open an inch! (_Fuming._) That's what we're up against in the fight
with T.B.--a total ignorance of the commonest methods of prevention----
NICHOLLS (_his eyes shiftily avoiding the doctor's face_). Then the
kids might have gotten it--by kissing Eileen?
GAYNOR. It stands to reason that's a common means of communication.
NICHOLLS (_very much shaken_). Yes. I suppose it must be. But that's
terrible, isn't it? (_With sudden volubility, evidently extremely
anxious to wind up this conversation and conceal his thoughts from_
Gaynor.) I'll promise you, Doctor, I'll tell Carmody straight what's
what. He'll pay attention to me or I'll know the reason why.
GAYNOR (_getting to his feet and picking up his overcoat_). Good boy!
You've probably saved me a disagreeable squabble. I won't wait for
Carmody. The sight of him makes me lose my temper. Tell him I'll be
back to-morrow with definite information about the sanatorium.
NICHOLLS (_helping him on with his overcoat, anxious to have him go_).
All right, Doctor.
GAYNOR (_puts on his hat_). And do your best to cheer the patient up
when you talk to her. Give her confidence in her ability to get well.
That's half the battle. And she'll believe it, coming from you.
NICHOLLS (_hastily_). Yes, yes, I'll do all I can.
GAYNOR (_turns to the door and shakes_ Nicholls' _hand
sympathetically_). And don't take it to heart too much yourself.
There's every hope, remember that. In six months she'll come back to
you her old self again.
NICHOLLS (_nervously_). It's hard on a fellow--so suddenly--but I'll
remember--and---- (_Abruptly_). Good night, Doctor.
GAYNOR. Good night.
(_He goes out. The outer door is heard shutting behind him._
Nicholls _closes the door, rear, and comes back and sits in the
chair in front of table. He rests his chin on his hands and
stares before him, a look of desperate, frightened calculation
coming into his eyes._ Carmody _is heard clumping heavily down
the stairs. A moment later he enters. His expression is glum and
CARMODY (_coming forward to his chair by the stove_). Has he gone away?
NICHOLLS (_turning on him with a look of repulsion_). Yes. He told me
to tell you he'd be back to-morrow with definite information--about the
CARMODY (_darkly_). Oho, he did, did he? Maybe I'll surprise him. I'm
thinkin' it's lyin' he is about Eileen's sickness, and her lookin' as
fresh as a daisy with the high colour in her cheeks when I saw her now.
NICHOLLS (_impatiently_). That's silly, Mr. Carmody. Gaynor knows his
business. (_After a moment's hesitation._) He told me all about
CARMODY (_resentfully_). Did he now, the auld monkey! Small thanks to
him to be tellin' our secrets to the town.
NICHOLLS (_exasperated_). I didn't want to learn your affairs. He only
told me because you'd said I and Eileen were engaged. You're the one
who was telling--secrets.
CARMODY (_irritated_). Ara, don't be talkin'! That's no secret at all
with the whole town watchin' Eileen and you spoonin' together from the
time you was kids.
NICHOLLS (_vindictively_). Well, the whole town is liable to find
out---- (_He checks himself._)
CARMODY (_too absorbed in his own troubles to notice this threat_). To
hell with the town and all in it! I've troubles enough of my own. So he
told you he'd send Eileen away to the hospital? I've half a mind not to
let him--and let him try to make me! (_With a frown._) But Eileen
herself says she's wantin' to go, now. (_Angrily._) It's all that
divil's notion he put in her head that the children'd be catchin' her
sickness that makes her willin' to go.
NICHOLLS (_with a superior air_). From what he told me, I should say it
was the only thing for Eileen to do if she wants to get well quickly.
(_Spitefully._) And I'd certainly not go against Gaynor, if I was you.
He told me he'd make it hot for you if you did. He will, too, you can
bet on that. He's that kind.
CARMODY (_worriedly_). He's a divil. But what can he do--him and his
Sasiety? I'm her father.
NICHOLLS (_seeing_ Carmody's _uneasiness, with revengeful
satisfaction_). Oh, he'll do what he says, don't worry! You'll make a
mistake if you think he's bluffing. It'd probably get in all the papers
about you refusing. Every one would be down on you. (_As a last
jab--spitefully._) You might even lose your job over it, people would
be so sore.
CARMODY (_jumping to his feet_). Ah, divil take him! Let him send her
where he wants, then. I'll not be sayin' a word.
NICHOLLS (_as an afterthought_). And, honestly, Mr. Carmody, I don't
see how you can object for a second--after he's told you it's
absolutely necessary for Eileen to go away. (_Seeing_ Carmody's _shaken
condition, he finishes boldly._) You've some feeling for your own
daughter, haven't you? You'd be a fine father if you hadn't!
CARMODY (_apprehensively_). Whisht! She might hear you. But you're
right. Let her do what she's wishful to, _and_ get well soon.
NICHOLLS (_complacently--feeling his duty in the matter well done_).
That's the right spirit. I knew you'd see it that way. And you and I'll
do all we can to help her. (_He gets to his feet._) Well, I guess I'll
have to go. Tell Eileen----
CARMODY. You're not goin'? Sure, Eileen is puttin' on her clothes to
come down and have a look at you. She'll be here in a jiffy. Sit down
now, and wait for her.
NICHOLLS (_suddenly panic-stricken by the prospect of facing her_).
No--no--I can't stay--I only came for a moment--I've got an
appointment--honestly. Besides, it isn't right for her to be up. She's
too weak. It'll make her worse. You should have told her.
(_The door in the rear is opened and_ Eileen _enters. She is
just over eighteen. Her wavy mass of dark hair is parted in the
middle and combed low on her forehead, covering her ears, to a
knot at the back of her head. The oval of her face is spoiled by
a long, rather heavy Irish jaw contrasting with the delicacy of
her other features. Her eyes are large and blue, confident in
their compelling candour and sweetness; her lips, full and red,
half-open over strong, even teeth, droop at the corners into
an expression of wistful sadness; her clear complexion is
unnaturally striking in its contrasting colours, rose and white;
her figure is slight and undeveloped. She wears a plain black
dress with a bit of white at the neck and wrists. She stands
looking appealingly at_ Nicholls, _who avoids her glance. Her
eyes have a startled, stunned expression as if the doctor's
verdict were still in her ears._)
EILEEN (_faintly--forcing a smile_). Good evening, Fred. (_Her eyes
search his face anxiously._)
NICHOLLS (_confusedly_). Hello, Eileen. I'm so sorry to---- (_Clumsily
trying to cover up his confusion, he goes over and leads her to a
chair._) You must sit down. You've got to take care of yourself. You
never ought to have got up to-night.
EILEEN (_sits down_). I wanted to talk to you. (_She raises her face
with a pitiful smile._ Nicholls _hurriedly moves back to his own
NICHOLLS (_almost brusquely_). I could have talked to you from the
hall. You're silly to take chances just now.
(Eileen's _eyes show her hurt at his tone._)
CARMODY (_seeing his chance--hastily_). You'll be stayin' a while now,
Fred? I'll take a walk down the road. I'm needin' a drink to clear my
wits. (_He goes to the door in rear._)
EILEEN (_reproachfully_). You won't be long, Father? And please
CARMODY (_exasperated_). Sure who wouldn't get drunk with all the
sorrows of the world piled on him? (_He stamps out. A moment later the
outside door bangs behind him._ Eileen _sighs._ Nicholls _walks up and
down with his eyes on the floor._)
NICHOLLS (_furious at_ Carmody _for having left him in this
situation_). Honestly, Eileen, your father is the limit. I don't see
how you stand for him. He's the most selfish----
EILEEN (_gently_). Sssh! You mustn't, Fred. He's not to blame. He just
doesn't understand. (Nicholls _snorts disdainfully._) Don't! Let's not
talk about him now. We won't have many more evenings together for a
long, long time. Did father or the Doctor tell you---- (_She falters._)
NICHOLLS (_not looking at her--glumly_). Everything there was to tell,
EILEEN (_hastening to comfort him_). You mustn't worry, Fred. Please
don't! It'd make it so much worse for me if I thought you did. I'll be
all right. I'll do exactly what they tell me, and in a few months I'll
be back so fat and healthy you won't know me.
NICHOLLS (_lamely_). Oh, there's no doubt of that. No one's worrying
about your not getting well quick.
EILEEN. It won't be long. We can write often, and it isn't far away.
You can come out and see me every Sunday--if you want to.
NICHOLLS (_hastily_). Of course I will!
EILEEN (_looking at his face searchingly_). Why do you act so funny?
Why don't you sit down--here, by me? Don't you want to?
NICHOLLS (_drawing up a chair by hers--flushing guiltily_). I--I'm all
flustered, Eileen. I don't know what I'm doing.
EILEEN (_putting her hand on his knee_). Poor Fred! I'm so sorry I have
to go. I didn't want to at first. I knew how hard it would be on father
and the kids--especially little Mary. (_Her voice trembles a bit._) And
then the doctor said if I stayed I'd be putting them all in danger. He
even ordered me not to kiss them any more. (_She bites her lip to
restrain a sob--then coughs, a soft, husky cough._ Nicholls _shrinks
away from her to the edge of his chair, his eyes shifting nervously
with fright._ Eileen _continues gently._) So I've got to go and get
well, don't you see?
NICHOLLS (_wetting his dry lips_). Yes--it's better.
EILEEN (_sadly_). I'll miss the kids so much. Taking care of them has
meant so much to me since mother died. (_With a half-sob she suddenly
throws her arms about his neck and hides her face on his shoulder. He
shudders and fights against an impulse to push her away._) But I'll
miss you most of all, Fred. (_She lifts her lips towards his, expecting
a kiss. He seems about to kiss her--then averts his face with a
shrinking movement, pretending he hasn't seen._ Eileen's _eyes grow
wide with horror. She throws herself back into her chair, staring
accusingly at_ Nicholls. _She speaks chokingly._) Fred! Why--why didn't
you kiss--what is it? Are you--afraid? (_With a moaning sound._) Oooh!
NICHOLLS (_goaded by this accusation into a display of manhood, seizes
her fiercely by the arms_). No! What--what d'you mean? (_He tries to
kiss her, but she hides her face._)
EILEEN (_in a muffled voice of hysterical self-accusation, pushing his
head away_). No, no, you mustn't! I was wrong. The doctor told you not
to, didn't he? Please don't, Fred! It would be awful if anything
happened to you--through me. (Nicholls _gives up his attempts, recalled
to caution by her words. She raises her face and tries to force a smile
through her tears._) But you can kiss me on the forehead, Fred. That
can't do any harm. (_His face crimson, he does so. She laughs
hysterically._) It seems so silly--being kissed that way--by you. (_She
gulps back a sob and continued to attempt to joke._) I'll have to get
used to it, won't I?
THE CURTAIN FALLS
Act One: Scene Two.
_The reception room of the Infirmary, a large, high-ceilinged room
painted white, with oiled, hard wood floor. In the left wall,
forward, a row of four windows. Farther back, the main entrance
from the drive, and another window. In the rear wall left, a glass
partition looking out on the sleeping porch. A row of white beds,
with the faces of patients barely peeping out from under piles of
heavy bed-clothes, can be seen. To the right of this partition, a
bookcase, and a door leading to the hall past the patients' rooms.
Farther right, another door opening on the examining room. In the
right wall, rear, a door to the office. Farther forward, a row of
windows. In front of the windows, a long dining-table with chairs.
On the left of the table, towards the centre of the room, a chimney
with two open fire-places, facing left and right. Several wicker
armchairs are placed around the fire-place on the left in which a
cheerful wood fire is crackling. To the left of centre, a round
reading and writing table with a green-shaded electric lamp. Other
electric lights are in brackets around the walls. Easy chairs stand
near the table, which is stacked with magazines. Rocking chairs are
placed here and there about the room, near the windows, etc. A
gramophone stands near the left wall, forward._
_It is nearing eight o'clock of a cold evening about a week later._
_At the rise of the curtain_ Stephen Murray _is discovered sitting
in a chair in front of the fireplace, left._ Murray _is thirty
years old--a tall, slender, rather unusual-looking fellow with a
pale face, sunken under high cheek bones, lined about the eyes and
mouth, jaded and worn for one still so young. His intelligent,
large hazel eyes have a tired, dispirited expression in repose, but
can quicken instantly with a concealed mechanism of mocking,
careless humour whenever his inner privacy is threatened. His large
mouth aids this process of protection by a quick change from its
set apathy to a cheerful grin of cynical good nature. He gives off
the impression of being somehow dissatisfied with himself, but not
yet embittered enough by it to take it out on others. His manner,
as revealed by his speech--nervous, inquisitive, alert--seems more
an acquired quality than any part of his real nature. He stoops a
trifle, giving him a slightly round-shouldered appearance. He is
dressed in a shabby dark suit, baggy at the knees. He is staring
into the fire, dreaming, an open book lying unheeded on the arm of
his chair. The gramophone is whining out the last strains of
Dvorak's Humoresque. In the doorway to the office,_ Miss Gilpin
_stands talking to_ Miss Howard. _The former is a slight,
middle-aged woman with black hair, and a strong, intelligent face,
its expression of resolute efficiency softened and made kindly by
her warm, sympathetic grey eyes._ Miss Howard _is tall, slender and
blonde--decidedly pretty and provokingly conscious of it, yet with
a certain air of seriousness underlying her apparent frivolity. She
is twenty years old. The elder woman is dressed in the all-white of
a full-fledged nurse._ Miss Howard _wears the grey-blue uniform of
one still in training. The record finishes._ Murray _sighs with
relief, but makes no move to get up and stop the grinding needle._
Miss Howard _hurries across to the machine._ Miss Gilpin _goes back
into the office._
MISS HOWARD (_takes off the record, glancing at_ Murray _with amused
vexation_). It's a wonder you wouldn't stop this machine grinding
itself to bits, Mr. Murray.
MURRAY (_with a smile_). I was hoping the darn thing would bust. (Miss
Howard _sniffs._ Murray _grins at her teasingly._) It keeps you from
talking to me. That's the real music.
MISS HOWARD (_comes over to his chair laughing_). It's easy to see
you've got Irish in you. Do you know what I think? I think you're a
natural born kidder. All newspaper reporters are like that, I've heard.
MURRAY. You wrong me terribly. (_Then frowning._) And it isn't
charitable to remind me of my job. I hoped to forget all about it up
MISS HOWARD (_surprised_). I think it's great to be able to write. I
wish I could. You ought to be proud of it.
MURRAY (_glumly_). I'm not. You can't call it writing--not what I
did--small town stuff. (_Changing the subject._) But I wanted to ask
you something. Do you know when I'm to be moved away to the huts?
MISS HOWARD. In a few days, I guess. Don't be impatient. (Murray
_grunts and moves nervously on his chair._) What's the matter? Don't
you like us here at the Sanatorium?
MURRAY (_smiling_). Oh--you--yes! (_Then seriously._) I don't care for
the atmosphere, though. (_He waves his hand towards the partition
looking out on the porch._) All those people in bed out there on the
porch seem so sick. It's depressing. I can't do anything for
them--and--it makes me feel so helpless.
MISS HOWARD. Well, it's the rules, you know. All the patients have to
come here first until Doctor Stanton finds out whether they're well
enough to be sent out to the huts and cottages. And remember you're a
patient just like the ones in bed out there--even if you are up and
MURRAY. I know it. But I don't feel as I were--really sick like them.
MISS HOWARD (_wisely_). None of them do, either.
MURRAY (_after a moment's reflection--cynically_). Yes, I suppose it's
that pipe dream that keeps us all going, eh?
MISS HOWARD. Well, you ought to be thankful. You're very lucky, if you
knew it. (_Lowering her voice._) Shall I tell you a secret? I've seen
your chart and _you've_ no cause to worry. Doctor Stanton joked about
it. He said you were too uninteresting--there was so little the matter
MURRAY (_pleased, but pretending indifference_). Humph! He's original
in that opinion.
MISS HOWARD. I know it's hard your being the only one up the week since
you've been here, with no one to talk to; but there's another patient
due to-day. Maybe she'll be well enough to be around with you. (_With a
quick glance at her wrist watch._) She can't be coming unless she got
in on the last train.
MURRAY (_interestedly_). It's a she, eh?
MISS HOWARD. Yes.
MURRAY (_grinning provokingly_). Young?
MISS HOWARD. Eighteen, I believe. (_Seeing his grin--with feigned
pique._) I suppose you'll be asking if she's pretty next! Oh, you men
are all alike, sick or well. Her name is Carmody, that's the only other
thing I know. So there!
MISS HOWARD. Oh, you don't know her. She's from another part of the
state from your town.
MISS GILPIN (_appearing in the office doorway_). Miss Howard.
MISS HOWARD. Yes, Miss Gilpin. (_In an aside to Murray __as she leaves
him._) It's time for those horrid diets.
(_She hurries back into the office._ Murray _stares into the
fire._ Miss Howard _reappears from the office and goes out by the
door to the hall, rear. Carriage wheels are heard from the drive
in front of the house on the left. They stop. After a pause there
is a sharp rap on the door and a bell rings insistently. Men's
muffled voices are heard in argument._ Murray _turns curiously in
his chair._ Miss Gilpin _comes from the office and walks quickly
to the door, unlocking and opening it._ Eileen _enters, followed
by_ Nicholls, _who is carrying her suit-case, and by her father._)
EILEEN. I'm Miss Carmody. I believe Doctor Gaynor wrote----
MISS GILPIN (_taking her hand--with kind affability_). We've been
expecting you all day. How do you do? I'm Miss Gilpin. You came on the
last train, didn't you?
EILEEN (_heartened by the other woman's kindness_). Yes. This is my
father, Miss Gilpin--and Mr. Nicholls.
(Miss Gilpin _shakes hands cordially with the two men who are
staring about the room in embarrassment._ Carmody _has very
evidently been drinking. His voice is thick and his face
puffed and stupid._ Nicholls' _manner is that of one who is
accomplishing a necessary but disagreeable duty with the best
grace possible, but is frightfully eager to get it over and done
with._ Carmody's _condition embarrasses him acutely and when he
glances at him it is with hatred and angry disgust._)
MISS GILPIN (_indicating the chairs in front of the windows on the
left, forward_). Won't you gentlemen sit down? (Carmody _grunts
sullenly and plumps himself into the one nearest the door._ Nicholls
_hesitates, glancing down at the suit-case he carries._ Miss Gilpin
_turns to_ Eileen.) And now we'll get you settled immediately. Your
room is all ready for you. If you'll follow me---- (_She turns toward
the door in rear, centre._)
EILEEN. Let me take the suit-case now, Fred.
MISS GILPIN (_as he is about to hand it to her--decisively_). No, my
dear, you mustn't. Put the case right down there, Mr. Nicholls. I'll
have it taken to Miss Carmody's room in a moment. (_She shakes her
finger at_ Eileen _with kindly admonition._) That's the first rule
you'll have to learn. Never exert yourself or tax your strength. It's
very important. You'll find laziness is a virtue instead of a vice with
EILEEN (_confused_). I--I didn't know----
MISS GILPIN (_smiling_). Of course you didn't. And now if you'll come
with me I'll show you your room. We'll have a little chat there and I
can explain all the other important rules in a second. The gentlemen
can make themselves comfortable in the meantime. We won't be gone more
than a moment.
NICHOLLS (_feeling called upon to say something_). Yes--we'll
wait--certainly, we're all right.
(Carmody _remains silent, glowering at the fire._ Nicholls _sits
down beside him._ Miss Gilpin _and_ Eileen _go out._ Murray
_switches his chair so that he can observe the two men out of the
corner of his eye while pretending to be absorbed in his book._)
CARMODY (_looking about shiftily and reaching for the inside pocket of
his overcoat_). I'll be havin' a nip now we're alone, and that cacklin'
hen gone. I'm feelin' sick in the pit of the stomach. (_He pulls out a
pint flask, half full._)
NICHOLLS (_excitedly_). For God's sake, don't! Put that bottle away!
(_In a whisper._) Don't you see that fellow in the chair there?
CARMODY (_taking a big drink_). Ah, I'm not mindin' a man at all. Sure
I'll bet it's himself would be likin' a taste of the same. (_He appears
about to get up and invite_ Murray _to join him, but_ Nicholls _grabs
NICHOLLS (_with a frightened look at_ Murray _who appears buried in his
book_). Stop it, you---- Don't you know he's probably a patient and
they don't allow them----
CARMODY (_scornfully_). A sick one, and him readin' a book like a dead
man without a civil word out of him! It's queer they'd be allowin' the
sick ones to read books, when I'll bet it's the same lazy readin' in
the house brought the half of them down with the consumption itself.
(_Raising his voice._) I'm thinking this whole shebang is a big,
thievin' fake--and I've always thought so.
NICHOLLS (_furiously_). Put that bottle away, damn it! And don't shout.
You're not in a public-house.
CARMODY (_with provoking calm_). I'll put it back when I'm ready, not
before, and no lip from you!
NICHOLLS (_with fierce disgust_). You're drunk now. It's disgusting.
CARMODY (_raging_). Drunk, am I? Is it the like of a young jackass like
you that's still wet behind the ears to be tellin' me I'm drunk?
NICHOLLS (_half-rising from his chair--pleadingly_). For heaven's sake,
Mr. Carmody, remember where we are and don't raise any rumpus. What'll
Eileen say? Do you want to make trouble for her at the start?
CARMODY (_puts the bottle away hastily, mumbling to himself--then
glowers about the room scornfully with blinking eyes_). It's a grand
hotel this is, I'm thinkin', for the rich to be takin' their ease, and
not a hospital for the poor, but the poor has to pay for it.
NICHOLLS (_fearful of another outbreak_). Sssh!
CARMODY. Don't be shshin' at me? I'm tellin' you the truth. I'd make
Eileen come back out of this to-night if that divil of a doctor didn't
have me by the throat.
NICHOLLS (_glancing at him nervously_). I wonder how soon she'll be
back? The carriage is waiting for us. We'll have to hurry to make that
last train back. If we miss it--it means two hours on the damn tram.
CARMODY (_angrily_). Is it anxious to get out of her sight you are, and
you engaged to marry and pretendin' to love her? (Nicholls _flushes
guiltily._ Murray _pricks up his ears and stares over at_ Nicholls.
_The latter meets his glance, scowls, and hurriedly averts his eyes._
Carmody _goes on accusingly._) Sure, it's no heart at all you have--and
her your sweetheart for years--and her sick with the consumption--and
you wild to run away from her and leave her alone.
NICHOLLS (_springing to his feet--furiously_). That's a----! (_He
controls himself with an effort. His voice trembles._) You're not
responsible for the idiotic things you're saying or I'd---- (_He turns
away, seeking some escape from the old man's tongue._) I'll see if the
man is still there with the carriage. (_He walks to the door on left
and goes out._)
CARMODY (_following him with his eyes_). Go to hell, for all I'm
preventin'. You've got no guts of a man in you. (_He addresses_ Murray
_with the good nature inspired by the flight of_ Nicholls.) Is it true
you're one of the consumptives, young fellow?
MURRAY (_delighted by this speech--with a grin_). Yes, I'm one of them.
CARMODY. My name's Carmody. What's yours, then?
CARMODY (_slapping his thigh_). Irish as Paddy's pig! (Murray _nods._
Carmody _brightens and grows confidential._) I'm glad to be knowin'
you're one of us. You can keep an eye on Eileen. That's my daughter
that came with us. She's got consumption like yourself.
MURRAY. I'll be glad to do all I can.
CARMODY. Thanks to you--though it's a grand life she'll be havin' here
from the fine look of the place. (_With whining self-pity._) It's me
it's hard on, God help me, with four small children and me widowed, and
havin' to hire a woman to come in and look after them and the house now
that Eileen's sick; and payin' for her curin' in this place, and me
with only a bit of money in the bank for my old age. That's hard, now,
on a man, and who'll say it isn't?
MURRAY (_made uncomfortable by this confidence_). Hard luck always
comes in bunches. (_To head off_ Carmody _who is about to give vent to
more woe--quickly, with a glance towards the door from the hall._) If
I'm not mistaken, here comes your daughter now.
CARMODY (_as_ Eileen _comes into the room_). I'll make you acquainted.
Eileen! (_She comes over to them, embarrassed to find her father in his
condition so chummy with a stranger._ Murray _rises to his feet._) This
is Mr. Murray, Eileen. I want you to meet. He's Irish and he'll put you
on to the ropes of the place. He's got the consumption, too, God pity
EILEEN (_distressed_). Oh, Father, how can you---- (_With a look at_
Murray _which pleads for her father._) I'm glad to meet you, Mr.
MURRAY (_with a straight glance at her which is so frankly admiring
that she flushes and drops her eyes_). I'm glad to meet you. (_The
front door is opened and_ Nicholls _re-appears, shivering with the
cold. He stares over at the others with ill-concealed irritation._)
CARMODY (_noticing him--with malicious satisfaction_). Oho, here you
are again. (Nicholls _scowls and turns away._ Carmody _addresses his
daughter with a sly wink at_ Murray.) I thought Fred was slidin' down
hill to the train with his head bare to the frost, and him so desperate
hurried to get away from here. Look at the knees on him clappin'
together with the cold, and with the great fear that's in him he'll be
catchin' a sickness in this place! (Nicholls, _his guilty conscience
stabbed to the quick, turns pale with impotent rage._)
EILEEN (_remonstrating pitifully_). Father! Please! (_She hurries over
to_ Nicholls.) Oh, please don't mind him, Fred. You know what he is
when he's drinking. He doesn't mean a word he's saying.
NICHOLLS (_thickly_). That's all right--for you to say. But I won't
forget--I'm sick and tired standing for--I'm not used to--such people.
EILEEN (_shrinking from him_). Fred!
NICHOLLS (_with a furious glance at_ Murray). Before that cheap slob,
too--letting him know everything!
EILEEN (_faintly_). He seems--very nice.
NICHOLLS. You've got your eyes set on him already, have you? Leave it
to you! No fear of your not having a good time of it out here!
NICHOLLS. Well, go ahead if you want to. I don't care. I'll----
(_Startled by the look of anguish which comes over her face, he hastily
swallows his words. He takes out his watch--fiercely._) We'll miss that
train, damn it!
EILEEN (_in a stricken tone_). Oh, Fred! (_Then forcing back her tears
she calls to_ Carmody _in a strained voice._) Father! You'll have to go
now. Miss Gilpin told me to tell you you'd have to go right away to
catch the train.
CARMODY (_shaking hands with_ Murray). I'll be goin'. Keep your eye on
her. I'll be out soon to see her and you and me'll have another talk.
MURRAY. Glad to. Good-bye for the present. (_He walks to windows on the
far right, turning his back considerately on their leave-taking._)
EILEEN (_comes to_ Carmody _and hangs on his arm as they proceed to the
door_). Be sure and kiss them all for me--Billy and Tom and Nora and
little Mary--and bring them out to see me as soon as you can, father,
please! And you come often, too, won't you? And don't forget to tell
Mrs. Brennan all the directions I gave you coming out on the train. I
told her, but she mightn't remember--about Mary's bath--and to give Tom
CARMODY (_impatiently_). Hasn't she brought up brats of her own, and
doesn't she know the way of it? Don't be worryin' now, like a fool.
EILEEN (_helplessly_). Never mind telling her, then. I'll write to her.
CARMODY. You'd better not. Leave her alone. She'll not wish you mixin'
in with her work and tellin' her how to do it.
EILEEN (_aghast_). Her work! (_She seems at the end of her
tether--wrung too dry for any further emotion. She kisses her father at
the door with indifference and speaks calmly._) Good-bye, father.
CARMODY (_in a whining tone of injury_). A cold kiss! And never a small
tear out of her! Is your heart a stone? (_Drunken tears well from his
eyes and he blubbers._) And your own father going back to a lone house
with a stranger in it!
EILEEN (_wearily, in a dead voice_). You'll miss your train, father.
CARMODY (_raging in a second_). I'm off, then! Come on, Fred. It's no
welcome we have with her here in this place--and a great curse on this
day I brought her to it! (_He stamps out._)
EILEEN (_in the same dead tone_). Good-bye, Fred.
NICHOLLS (_repenting his words of a moment ago--confusedly_). I'm
sorry, Eileen--for what I said. I didn't mean--you know what your
father is--excuse me, won't you?
EILEEN (_without feeling_). Yes.
NICHOLLS. And I'll be out soon--in a week if I can make it. Well
then,--good-bye for the present. (_He bends down as if to kiss her, but
she shrinks back out of his reach._)
EILEEN (_a faint trace of mockery in her weary voice_). No, Fred.
Remember you mustn't now.
NICHOLLS (_in an instant huff_). Oh, if that's the way you feel
(_He strides out and slams the door viciously behind him._ Eileen
_walks slowly back towards the fire-place, her face fixed in a
dead calm of despair. As she sinks into one of the armchairs, the
strain becomes too much. She breaks down, hiding her face in her
hands, her frail shoulders heaving with the violence of her sobs.
At this sound,_ Murray _turns from the windows and comes over
near her chair._)
MURRAY (_after watching her for a moment--in an embarrassed tone of
sympathy_). Come on, Miss Carmody, that'll never do. I know it's hard
at first--but--getting yourself all worked up is bad for you. You'll
run a temperature and then they'll keep you in bed--which isn't
pleasant. Take hold of yourself! It isn't so bad up here--really--once
you get used to it! (_The shame she feels at giving way in the presence
of a stranger only adds to her loss of control and she sobs
heartbrokenly._ Murray _walks up and down nervously, visibly nonplussed
and upset. Finally he hits upon something._) One of the nurses will be
in any minute. You don't want them to see you like this.
EILEEN (_chokes back her sobs and finally raises her face and attempts
a smile_). I'm sorry--to make such a sight of myself. I just couldn't
MURRAY (_jocularly_). Well, they say a good cry does you a lot of good.
EILEEN (_forcing a smile_). I do feel--better.
MURRAY (_staring at her with a quizzical smile--cynically_). You
shouldn't take those lovers' squabbles so seriously. To-morrow he'll be
sorry--you'll be sorry. He'll write begging forgiveness--you'll do
ditto. Result--all serene again.
EILEEN (_a shadow of pain on her face--with dignity_). Don't--please.
MURRAY (_angry at himself--hanging his head contritely_). I'm a fool.
Pardon me. I'm rude sometimes--before I know it. (_He shakes off his
confusion with a renewed attempt at a joking tone._) You can blame your
father for any breaks I make. He made me your guardian, you know--told
me to see that you behaved.
EILEEN (_with a genuine smile_). Oh, father! (_Flushing._) You mustn't
mind anything he said to-night.
MURRAY (_thoughtlessly_). Yes, he was well lit up. I envied him.
(Eileen _looks very shame-faced._ Murray _sees it and exclaims in
exasperation at himself._) Darn! There I go again putting my foot in
it! (_With an irrepressible grin._) I ought to have my tongue operated
on--that's what's the matter with me. (_He laughs and throws himself in
EILEEN (_forced in spite of herself to smile with him_). You're candid,
at any rate, Mr. Murray.
MURRAY. Don't misunderstand me. Far be it from me to cast slurs at your
father's high spirits. I said I envied him his jag and that's the
truth. The same candour compels me to confess that I was pickled to the
gills myself when I arrived here. Fact! I made love to all the nurses
and generally disgraced myself--and had a wonderful time.
EILEEN. I suppose it does make you forget your troubles--for a while.
MURRAY (_waving this aside_). I didn't want to forget--not for a
second. I wasn't drowning my sorrow. I was hilariously celebrating.
EILEEN (_astonished--by this time quite interested in this queer fellow
to the momentary forgetfulness of her own grief_). Celebrating--coming
here? But--aren't you sick?
MURRAY. T.B.? Yes, of course. (_Confidentially._) But it's only a
matter of time when I'll be all right again. I hope it won't be too
soon. I was dying for a rest--a good, long rest with time to think
about things. I'm due to get what I wanted here. That's why I
EILEEN (_with wide eyes_). I wonder if you really mean----
MURRAY. What I've been sayin'? I sure do--every word of it!
EILEEN (_puzzled_). I can't understand how anyone could---- (_With a
worried glance over her shoulder._) I think I'd better look for Miss
Gilpin, hadn't I? She may wonder---- (_She half rises from her chair._)
MURRAY (_quickly_). No. Please don't go yet. Sit down. Please do. (_She
glances at him irresolutely, then resumes her chair._) They'll give you
your diet of milk and shoo you off to bed on that freezing porch soon
enough, don't worry. I'll see to it that you don't fracture any rules.
(_Hitching his chair nearer hers--impulsively._) In all charity to me
you've got to stick awhile. I haven't had a chance to really talk to a
soul for a week. You found what I said a while ago hard to believe,
EILEEN (_with a smile_). Isn't it? You said you hoped you wouldn't get
well too soon!
MURRAY. And I meant it! This place is honestly like heaven to me--a
lonely heaven till your arrival. (Eileen _looks embarrassed._) And why
wouldn't it be? I've no fear for my health--eventually. Just let me
tell you what I was getting away from---- (_With a sudden laugh full of
a weary bitterness._) Do you know what it means to work from seven at
night till three in the morning as a reporter on a morning newspaper in
a town of twenty thousand people--for _ten years_? No. You don't. You
can't. No one could who hadn't been through the mill. But what it did
to me--it made me happy--yes, happy!--to get out here--T.B. and all,
EILEEN (_looking at him curiously_). But I always thought being a
reporter was so interesting.
MURRAY (_with a cynical laugh_). Interesting? On a small town rag? A
month of it, perhaps, when you're a kid and new to the game. But ten
years. Think of it! With only a raise of a couple of dollars every blue
moon or so, and a weekly spree on Saturday night to vary the monotony.
(_He laughs again._) Interesting, eh? Getting the dope on the Social of
the Queen Esther Circle in the basement of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, unable to sleep through a meeting of the Common Council on
account of the noisy oratory caused by John Smith's application for a
permit to build a house; making a note that a tugboat towed two barges
loaded with coal up the river, that Mrs. Perkins spent a week-end with
relatives in Hickville, that John Jones---- Oh help! Why go on? Ten
years of it! I'm a broken man. God, how I used to pray that our
Congressman would commit suicide, or the Mayor murder his wife--just to
be able to write a real story!
EILEEN (_with a smile_). Is it as bad as that? But weren't there other
things in the town--outside your work--that were interesting?
MURRAY (_decidedly_). No. Never anything new--and I knew everyone and
every thing in town by heart years ago. (_With sudden bitterness._) Oh,
it was my own fault. Why didn't I get out of it? Well, I didn't. I was
always going to--to-morrow--and to-morrow never came. I got in a
rut--and stayed put. People seem to get that way, somehow--in that
town. It's in the air. All the boys I grew up with--nearly all, at
least--took root in the same way. It took pleurisy, followed by T.B.,
to blast me loose.
EILEEN (_wonderingly_). But--your family--didn't they live there?
MURRAY. I haven't much of a family left. My mother died when I was a
kid. My father--he was a lawyer--died when I was nineteen, just about
to go to college. He left nothing, so I went to work on the paper
instead. And there I've been ever since. I've two sisters, respectably
married and living in another part of the state. We don't get
along--but they are paying for me here, so I suppose I've no kick.
(_Cynically._) A family wouldn't have changed things. From what I've
seen that blood-thicker-than-water dope is all wrong. It's thinner than
table-d'hôte soup. You may have seen a bit of that truth in your own
EILEEN (_shocked_). How can you say that? You don't know----
MURRAY. Don't I, though? Wait till you've been here three months or
four--when the gap you left has been comfortably filled. You'll see
EILEEN (_angrily, her lips trembling_). You must be crazy to say such
things! (_Fighting back her tears._) Oh, I think it's hateful--when you
see how badly I feel!
MURRAY (_in acute confusion. Stammering_). Look here, Miss Carmody, I
didn't mean to---- Listen--don't feel mad at me, please. My tongue ran
away with me. I was only talking. I'm like that. You mustn't take it
EILEEN (_still resentful_). I don't see how you can talk. You
don't--you can't know about these things--when you've just said you had
no family of your own, really.
MURRAY (_eager to return to her good graces_). No. Of course I don't
know. I was just talking regardless for the fun of listening to it.
EILEEN (_after a pause_). Hasn't either of your sisters any children?
MURRAY. One of them has--two of them--ugly, squally little brats.
EILEEN (_disapprovingly_). You don't like babies?
MURRAY (_bluntly_). No. (_Then with a grin at her shocked face._) I
don't get them. They're something I can't seem to get acquainted with.
EILEEN (_with a smile, indulgently_). You're a funny person. (_Then
with a superior, motherly air._) No wonder you couldn't understand how
badly I feel. (_With a tender smile._) I've four of them--my brothers
and sisters--though they're not what you'd call babies, except to me.
Billy is fourteen, Nora eleven, Tom ten, and even little Mary is eight.
I've been a mother to them now for a whole year--ever since our mother
died (_Sadly._) And I don't know how they'll ever get along while I'm
MURRAY (_cynically_). Oh, they'll--(_He checks what he was going to say
and adds lamely_)--get along somehow.
EILEEN (_with the same superior tone_). It's easy for you to say that.
You don't know how children grow to depend on you for everything.
You're not a woman.
MURRAY (_with a grin_). Are you? (_Then with a chuckle._) You're as old
as the pyramids, aren't you? I feel like a little boy. Won't you adopt
EILEEN (_flushing, with a shy smile_). Someone ought to. (_Quickly
changing the subject._) Do you know, I can't get over what you said
about hating your work so. I should think it would be wonderful--to be
able to write things.
MURRAY. My job had nothing to do with writing. To write--really
write--yes, that's something worth trying for. That's what I've always
meant to have a stab at. I've run across ideas enough for stories--that
sounded good to me, anyway. (_With a forced, laugh._) But--like
everything else--I never got down to it. I started one or two--but--either
I thought I didn't have the time or---- (_He shrugs his shoulders._)
EILEEN. Well, you've plenty of time now, haven't you?
MURRAY (_instantly struck by this suggestion_). You mean--I could
write--up here? (_She nods. His face lights up with enthusiasm._) Say!
That is an idea! Thank you! I'd never have had sense enough to have
thought of that myself. (Eileen _flushes with pleasure._) Sure there's
time--nothing but time up here----
EILEEN. Then you seriously think you'll try it?
MURRAY (_determinedly_). Yes. Why not? I've got to try and do something
real some time, haven't I? I've no excuse not to, now. My mind isn't
EILEEN (_excitedly_). That'll be wonderful!
MURRAY (_confidently_). Listen. I've had ideas for a series of short
stories for the last couple of years--small town experiences, some of
them actual. I know that life--too darn well. I ought to be able to
write about it. And if I can sell one--to the _Post_, say--I'm sure
they'd take the others, too. And then--I should worry! It'd be easy
sailing. But you must promise to help--play critic for me--read them
and tell me where they're rotten.
EILEEN (_pleased, but protesting_). Oh, no, I'd never dare. I don't
MURRAY. Yes, you do. You're the public. And you started me off on this
thing--if I'm really starting at last. So you've got to back me up now.
(_Suddenly._) Say, I wonder if they'd let me have a typewriter up here?
EILEEN. It'd be fine if they would. I'd like to have one, too--to
practice. I learned stenography at a business college and then I had a
position for a year--before my mother died.
MURRAY. We could hire one--I could. I don't see why they wouldn't allow
it. I'm to be sent to one of the men's huts within the next few days,
and you'll be shipped to one of the women's cottages within ten days.
You're not sick enough to be kept here in bed, I'm sure of that.
EILEEN. I--I don't know----
MURRAY. Here! None of that! You just think you're not and you won't be.
Say, I'm keen on that typewriter idea. They couldn't kick if we only
used it during recreation periods. I could have it a week, and then you
EILEEN (_eagerly_). And I could type your stories after you've written
them! I _could_ help that way.
MURRAY (_smiling_). But I'm quite able---- (_Then seeing how interested
she is he adds hurriedly._) That'd be great! It'd save so much time.
I've always been a fool at a machine. And I'd be willing to pay
whatever---- (Miss Gilpin _enters from the rear and walks towards
EILEEN (_quickly_). Oh, no! I'd be glad to get the practice. I wouldn't
accept---- (_She coughs slightly._)
MURRAY (_with a laugh_). Maybe, after you've read my stuff, you won't
type it at any price.
MISS GILPIN. Miss Carmody, may I speak to you for a moment, please.
(_She takes_ Eileen _aside and talks to her in low tones of
admonition._ Eileen's _face falls. She nods a horrified
acquiescence._ Miss Gilpin _leaves her and goes into the office,
MURRAY (_as_ Eileen _comes back. Noticing her perturbation. Kindly_).
Well? Now, what's the trouble?
EILEEN (_her lips trembling_). She told me I mustn't forget to shield
my mouth with my handkerchief when I cough.
MURRAY (_consolingly_). Yes, that's one of the rules, you know.
EILEEN (_falteringly_). She said they'd give me--a--cup to carry
around--(_She stops, shuddering._)
MURRAY (_easily_). It's not as horrible as it sounds. They're only
little paste-board things you carry in your pocket.
EILEEN (_as if speaking to herself_). It's so horrible (_She holds out
her hand to_ Murray.) I'm to go to my room now. Good night, Mr. Murray.
MURRAY (_holding her hand for a moment--earnestly_). Don't mind your
first impressions here. You'll look on everything as a matter of course
in a few days. I felt your way at first. (_He drops her hand and shakes
his finger at her._) Mind your guardian, now! (_She forces a trembling
smile._) See you at breakfast. Good night.
(Eileen _goes out to the hall in rear._ Miss Howard _comes in
from the door just after her, carrying a glass of milk._)
MISS HOWARD. Almost bedtime, Mr. Murray. Here's your diet. (_He takes
the glass. She smiles at him provokingly._) Well, is it love at first
sight, Mr. Murray?
MURRAY (_with a grin_). Sure thing! You can consider yourself
heartlessly jilted. (_He turns and raises his glass towards the door
through which_ Eileen _has just gone, as if toasting her._)
"A glass of milk, and thou
Coughing beside me in the wilderness--
Ah--wilderness were Paradise enow!"
(_He takes a sip of milk._)
MISS HOWARD (_peevishly_). That's old stuff, Mr. Murray. A patient at
Saranac wrote that parody.
MURRAY (_maliciously_). Aha, you've discovered it's a parody, have you,
you sly minx! (Miss Howard _turns from him huffily and walks back
towards the office, her chin in the air._)
THE CURTAIN FALLS
Act Two: Scene One
_The assembly room of the main building of the sanatorium--early in
the morning of a fine day in June, four months later. The room is
large, light and airy, painted a fresh white. On the left forward,
an armchair. Farther back, a door opening on the main hall. To the
rear of this door, a pianola on a raised platform. At back of the
pianola, a door leading into the office. In the rear wall, a long
series of French windows looking out on the lawn, with wooded hills
in the far background. Shrubs in flower grow immediately outside
the windows Inside, there is a row of potted plants. In the right
wall, rear, four windows. Farther forward, a long well-filled
bookcase, and a doorway leading into the dining-room. Following the
walls, but about five feet out from them a stiff line of chairs
placed closely against each other forms a sort of right-angled
auditorium of which the large, square table that stands at centre,
forward, would seem to be the stage._
_From the dining-room comes the clatter of dishes, the confused
murmur of many voices, male and female--all the mingled sounds of a
crowd of people at a meal._
_After the curtain rises,_ Doctor Stanton _enters from the hall,
followed by a visitor,_ Mr. Sloan, _and the assistant physician,_
Doctor Simms. Doctor Stanton _is a handsome man of forty-five or so
with a grave, care-lined, studious face lightened by a kindly,
humorous smile. His grey eyes, saddened by the suffering they have
witnessed, have the sympathetic quality of real understanding. The
look they give is full of companionship, the courage-renewing,
human companionship of a hope which is shared. He speaks with a
slight Southern accent, soft and slurring._ Doctor Simms _is a
tall, angular young man with a long sallow face and a sheepish,
self-conscious grin._ Mr. Sloan _is fifty, short and stout, well
dressed--one of the successful business men whose endowments have
made the Hill Farm a possibility._
STANTON (_as they enter_). This is what you might see in the general
assembly room, Mr. Sloan--where the patients of both sexes are allowed
to congregate together after meals, for diets, and in the evening.
SLOAN (_looking around him_). Couldn't be more pleasant, I must
say--light and airy. (_He walks to where he can take a peep into the
dining-room._) Ah, they're all at breakfast, I see.
STANTON (_smiling_). Yes, and with no lack of appetite, let me tell
you. (_With a laugh of proud satisfaction._) They'd sure eat us out of
house and home at one sitting, if we'd give them the opportunity. (_To
his assistant._) Wouldn't they, Doctor?
SIMMS (_with his abashed grin_). You bet they would, sir.
SLOAN (_with a smile_). That's fine. (_With a nod towards the
dining-room._) The ones in there are the sure cures, aren't they?
STANTON (_a shadow coming over his face_). Strictly speaking, there are
no sure cures in this disease, Mr. Sloan. When we permit a patient to
return to take up his or her activities in the world, the patient is
what we call an arrested case. The disease is overcome, quiescent; the
wound is healed over. It's then up to the patient to so take care of
himself that this condition remains permanent. It isn't hard for them
to do this, usually. Just ordinary, bull-headed common sense--added to
what they've learned here--is enough for their safety. And the
precautions we teach them to take don't diminish their social
usefulness in the slightest, either, as I can prove by our statistics
of former patients. (_With a smile._) It's rather early in the morning
for statistics, though.
SLOAN (_with a wave of the hand_). Oh, you needn't. Your reputation in
that respect, Doctor---- (Stanton _inclines his head in
acknowledgment._ Sloan _jerks his thumb towards the dining-room_.) But
the ones in there _are_ getting well, aren't they?
STANTON. To all appearances, yes. You don't dare swear to it, though.
Sometimes, just when a case looks most favourably, there's a sudden,
unforeseen breakdown, and they have to be sent back to bed, or, if it's
very serious, back to the Infirmary again. These are the exceptions,
however, not the rule. You can bank on most of those eaters being out
in the world and usefully employed within six months.
SLOAN. You couldn't say more than that (_Abruptly._) But--the
unfortunate ones--do you have many deaths?
STANTON (_with a frown_). No. We're under a very hard, almost cruel
imperative which prevents that. If, at the end of six months, a case
shows no response to treatment, continues to go down hill--if, in a
word, it seems hopeless--we send them away, to one of the State Farms
if they have no private means. (_Apologetically._) You see, this
sanatorium is overcrowded and has a long waiting list, most of the
time, of others who demand their chance for life. We have to make
places for them. We have no time to waste on incurables. There are
other places for them--and sometimes, too, a change is beneficial and
they pick up in new surroundings. You never can tell. But we're bound
by the rule. It may seem cruel--but it's as near justice to all
concerned as we can come.
SLOAN (_soberly_). I see. (_His eyes fall on the pianola in surprise._)
STANTON (_replying to the other's thought_). Yes, some patients play
and sing. (_With a smile._) If you'd call the noise they make by those
terms. They'd dance, too, if we permitted it. There's only one big
taboo--Home, Sweet Home. We forbid that--for obvious reasons.
SLOAN. I see. (_With a final look around._) Did I understand you to say
this is the only place where the sexes are permitted to mingle?
STANTON. Yes, sir.
SLOAN (_with a smile_). Not much chance for a love affair then.
STANTON (_seriously_). We do our best to prevent them. We even have a
strict rule which allows us to step in and put a stop to any intimacy
which grows beyond the casual. People up here, Mr. Sloan, are expected
to put aside all ideas except the one--getting well.
SLOAN (_somewhat embarrassed_). A damn good rule, too, I should say,
under the circumstances.
STANTON (_with a laugh_). Yes, we're strictly anti-Cupid, sir, from top
to bottom, (_Turning to the door to the hall._) And now, if you don't
mind, Mr. Sloan, I'm going to turn you loose to wander about the
grounds on an unconducted tour. To-day is my busy morning--Saturday. We
weigh each patient immediately after breakfast.
SLOAN. Every week?
STANTON. Every Saturday. You see we depend on fluctuations in weight to
tell us a lot about the patient's condition. If they gain, or stay at
normal, all's usually well. If they lose week after week without any
reason we can definitely point to, we keep careful watch. It's a sign
that something's wrong. We're forewarned by it and on our guard.
SLOAN (_with a smile_). Well, I'm certainly learning things. (_He turns
to the door._) And you just shoo me off wherever you please and go on
with the good work. I'll be glad of a ramble in the open on such a
STANTON. After the weighing is over, sir, I'll be free to----
(_His words are lost as the three go out. A moment later,_ Eileen
_enters from the dining-room. She has grown stouter, her face has
more of a healthy, out-of-door colour, but there is still about
her the suggestion of being worn down by a burden too oppressive
for her courage. She is dressed in blouse and dark skirt. She
goes to the armchair, left forward, and sinks down on it. She
is evidently in a state of nervous depression; she twists her
fingers together in her lap; her eyes stare sadly before her; she
clenches her upper lip with her teeth to prevent its trembling.
She has hardly regained control over herself when_ Stephen Murray
_comes in hurriedly from the dining-room and, seeing her at his
first glance, walks quickly over to her chair. He is the picture
of health, his figure has filled out solidly, his tanned face
beams with suppressed exultation._)
MURRAY (_excitedly_). Eileen! I saw you leave your table. I've
something to tell you. I didn't get a chance last night after the mail
came. You'd gone to the cottage. Just listen, Eileen--it's too good to
be true--but on that mail--guess what?
EILEEN (_forgetting her depression--with an excited smile_). I know!
You've sold your story!
MURRAY (_triumphantly_). Go to the head of the class. What d'you know
about that for luck! My first, too--and only the third magazine I sent
it to! (_He cuts a joyful caper._)
EILEEN (_happily_). Isn't that wonderful, Stephen! But I knew all the
time you would. The story's so good.
MURRAY. Well, you might have known, but I didn't think there was a
chance in the world. And as for being good--(_With superior air_)--wait
till I turn loose with the real big ones, the kind I'm going to write.
Then I'll make them sit up and take notice. They can't stop me now.
This money gives me a chance to sit back and do what I please for a
while. And I haven't told you the best part. The editor wrote saying
how much he liked the yarn and asked me for more of the same kind.
EILEEN. And you've the three others about the same person--just as
good, too! Why, you'll sell them all! (_She clasps her hands
MURRAY. And I can send them out right away. They're all typed, thanks
to you. That's what's brought me luck, I know. I never had a bit by
myself. (_Then, after a quick glance around to make sure they are
alone, he bends down and kisses her._) There! A token of
gratitude--even if it is against the rules.
EILEEN (_flushing--with timid happiness_). Stephen! You mustn't!
MURRAY (_boldly_). Let them!
EILEEN. But you know--they've warned us against being so much together,
MURRAY. Let them! We'll be out of this prison soon. (Eileen _shakes her
head sadly, but he does not notice._) Oh, I wish you could leave when I
do. We'd have some celebration together.
EILEEN (_her lips trembling_). I was thinking last night--that you'd
soon be going away. You look so well. Do you think--they'll let you
MURRAY. You bet I do. I'm bound to go now. It's ridiculous keeping me
here when I'm as healthy as a pig. I caught Stanton in the hall last
night and asked him if I could go.
EILEEN (_anxiously_). What did he say?
MURRAY. He only smiled and said: "We'll see if you gain weight
to-morrow." As if that mattered now! Why, I'm way above normal as it
is! But you know Stanton--always putting you off. But I could tell by
the way he said it he'd be willing to consider----
EILEEN (_slowly_). Then--if you gain to-day---
MURRAY. He'll let me go. Yes, I know he will. I'm going to insist on
EILEEN. Then--you'll leave----?
MURRAY. Right away. The minute I can get packed.
EILEEN (_trying to force a smile_). Oh, I'm so glad--for your sake;
but--I'm selfish--it'll be so lonely here without you.
MURRAY (_consolingly_). You'll be going away yourself before long.
(Eileen _shakes her head. He goes on without noticing, wrapped in his
own success._) Oh, Eileen, you can't imagine all it opens up for
me--selling that story. I don't have to go back home to stagnate. I can
go straight to New York, and live, and meet real people who are doing
things. I can take my time, and try and do the work I hope to.
(_Feelingly._) You don't know how grateful I am to you, Eileen--how
you've helped me. Oh, I don't mean just the typing, I mean your
encouragement, your faith! I'd never have had guts enough to stick to
it myself. The stories would never have been written if it hadn't been
EILEEN (_choking back a sob_). I didn't do--anything.
MURRAY (_staring down at her--with rough kindliness_). Here, here,
that'll never do! You're not weeping about it, are you, silly? (_He
pats her on the shoulder._) What's the matter, Eileen? You didn't eat a
thing this morning. I was watching you. (_With kindly severity._)
That's no way to gain weight, you know. You'll have to feed up. Do you
hear what your guardian commands, eh?
EILEEN (_with dull hopelessness_). I know I'll lose again. I've been
losing steadily the past three weeks.
MURRAY. Here! Don't you dare talk that way! I won't stand for it. Why,
you've been picking up wonderfully--until just lately. You've made such
a game fight for four months. Even the old Doc has told you how much he
admired your pluck, and how much better you were getting. You're not
going to quit now, are you?
EILEEN (_despairingly_). Oh, I don't care! I don't care--now.
MURRAY. Now? What do you mean by that? What's happened to make things
EILEEN (_evasively_). Oh--nothing. Don't ask me, Stephen.
MURRAY (_with sudden anger_). I don't have to ask you. I can guess.
Another letter from home--or from that ass, eh?
EILEEN (_shaking her head_). No, it isn't that. (_She looks at him as
if imploring him to comprehend._)
MURRAY (_furiously_). Of course, you'd deny it. You always do. But
don't you suppose I've got eyes? It's been the same damn thing all the
time you've been here. After every nagging letter--thank God they don't
write often any more!--you've been all in; and after their Sunday
visits--you can thank God they've been few, too--you're utterly knocked
out. It's a shame! The selfish swine!
MURRAY (_relentlessly._) Don't be sentimental, Eileen. You know it's
true. From what you've told me of their letters, their visits--from
what I've seen and suspected--they've done nothing but worry and
torment you and do their best to keep you from getting well.
EILEEN (_faintly_). You're not fair, Stephen.
MURRAY. Rot! When it isn't your father grumbling about expense, it's
the kids, or that stupid housekeeper, or that slick Aleck, Nicholls,
with his cowardly lies. Which is it this time?
EILEEN (_pitifully_). None of them.
MURRAY (_explosively_). But him, especially--the dirty cad! Oh, I've
got a rich notion to pay a call on that gentleman when I leave and tell
him what I think of him.
EILEEN (_quickly_). No--you mustn't ever! He's not to blame. If you
knew---- (_She stops, lowering her eyes in confusion._)
MURRAY (_roughly_). Knew what? You make me sick, Eileen--always finding
excuses for him. I never could understand what a girl like you could
see---- But what's the use? I've said all this before. You're wasting
yourself on a---- (_Rudely._) Love must be blind. And yet you say you
don't love him, really?
EILEEN (_shaking her head--helplessly_). But I do--like Fred. We've
been good friends so many years. I don't want to hurt him--his
MURRAY. That's the same as answering no to my question. Then, if you
don't love him, why don't you write and tell him to go to--break it
off? (Eileen _bows her head, but doesn't reply. Irritated,_ Murray
_continues brutally._) Are you afraid it would break his heart? Don't
be a fool! The only way you could do that would be to deprive him of
EILEEN (_springing to her feet--distractedly_). Please stop, Stephen!
You're cruel! And you've been so kind--the only real friend I've had up
here. Don't spoil it all now.
MURRAY (_remorsefully_). I'm sorry, Eileen. I was only talking. I won't
say another word. (_Irritably._) Still, someone ought to say or do
something to put a stop to----
EILEEN (_with a broken laugh_). Never mind. Everything will stop--soon,
MURRAY (_suspiciously_). What do you mean?
EILEEN (_with an attempt at a careless tone_). Nothing. If you can't
see---- (_She turns to him with sudden intensity._) Oh, Stephen, if you
only knew how wrong you are about everything you've said. It's all
true; but it isn't that--any of it--any more--that's---- Oh, I can't
MURRAY (_with great interest_). Please do, Eileen!
EILEEN (_with a helpless laugh_). No.
MURRAY. Please tell me what it is! Let me help you.
EILEEN. No. It wouldn't be any use, Stephen.
MURRAY (_offended_). Why do you say that? Haven't I helped before?
EILEEN. Yes--but this----
MURRAY. Come now! 'Fess up! What is "this"?
EILEEN. No. I couldn't speak of it here, anyway. They'll all be coming
MURRAY (_insistently_). Then when? Where?
EILEEN. Oh, I don't know--perhaps never, nowhere. I don't know----
Sometime before you leave, maybe.
MURRAY. But I may go to-morrow morning--if I gain weight and Stanton
EILEEN (_sadly_). Yes, I was forgetting--you were going right away.
(_Dully_). Then nowhere, I suppose--never. (_Glancing towards the
dining-room._) They're all getting up. Let's not talk about it any
MURRAY (_stubbornly_). But you'll tell me later, Eileen? You must.
EILEEN (_vaguely_). Perhaps. It depends----
(_The patients, about forty in number, straggle in from the
dining-room by twos and threes, chatting in low tones. The men
and women with few exceptions separate into two groups, the
women congregating in the left right angle of chairs, the men
sitting or standing in the right right angle. In appearance, most
of the patients are tanned, healthy, and cheerful-looking. The
great majority are under middle age. Their clothes are of the
cheap, ready-made variety. They are all distinctly of the
wage-earning class. They might well be a crowd of cosmopolitan
factory workers gathered together after a summer vacation. A
hollow-chestedness and a tendency to round shoulders may be
detected as a common characteristic. A general air of tension,
marked by frequent bursts of laughter in too high a key, seems to
pervade the throng._ Murray _and_ Eileen, _as if to avoid contact
with the others, come over to the right in front of the
MURRAY (_in a low voice_). Listen to them laugh. Did you ever
notice--perhaps it's my imagination--how forced they act on Saturday
mornings before they're weighed?
EILEEN (_dully_). No.
MURRAY. Can't you tell me that secret now? No one'll hear.
EILEEN (_vehemently_). No, no, how could I? Don't speak of it!
(_A sudden silence falls on all the groups at once. Their eyes,
by a common impulse, turn quickly towards the door to the
A WOMAN (_nervously--as if this moment's silent pause oppressed her._)
Play something, Peters. They ain't coming yet.
(Peters, _a stupid-looking young fellow with a sly, twisted
smirk which gives him the appearance of perpetually winking his
eye, detaches himself from a group on the right. All join in with
urging exclamations: "Go on, Peters! Go to it! Pedal up, Pete!
Give us a rag! That's the boy, Peters!" etc._)
PETERS. Sure, if I got time.
(_He goes to the pianola and puts in a roll. The mingled
conversation and laughter bursts forth again as he sits on the
bench and starts pedalling._)
MURRAY (_disgustedly_). It's sure good to think I won't have to
listen to that old tin-pan being banged much longer!
(_The music interrupts him--a quick rag. The patients brighten,
hum, whistle, sway their heads or tap their feet in time to the
tune._ Doctor Stanton _and_ Doctor Simms _appear in the
doorway from the hall. All eyes are turned on them._)
STANTON (_raising his voice_). They all seem to be here, Doctor. We
might as well start.
(Mrs. Turner, _the matron, comes in behind them--a stout,
motherly, capable-looking woman with grey hair. She hears_
MRS. TURNER. And take temperatures after, Doctor?
STANTON. Yes, Mrs. Turner. I think that's better to-day.
MRS. TURNER. All right, Doctor.
(Stanton _and the assistant go out._ Mrs. Turner _advances a step
or so into the room and looks from one group of patients to the
other, inclining her head and smiling benevolently. All force
smiles and nod in recognition of her greeting._ Peters, _at the
pianola, lets the music slow down, glancing questioningly at the
matron to see if she is going to order it stopped. Then,
encouraged by her smile, his feet pedal harder than ever._)
MURRAY. Look at old Mrs. Grundy's eyes pinned on us! She'll accuse us
of being too familiar again, the old wench!
EILEEN. Sssh. You're wrong. She's looking at me, not at us.
MURRAY. At you? Why?
EILEEN. I ran a temperature yesterday. It must have been over a hundred
MURRAY. (_with consoling scepticism_). You're always looking for
trouble, Eileen. How do you know you ran a temp? You didn't see the
stick, I suppose?
EILEEN. No--but--I could tell. I felt feverish and chilly. It must have
been way up.
MURRAY. Bosh! If it was you'd have been sent to bed.
EILEEN. That's why she's looking at me. (_Piteously._) Oh, I do hope I
won't be sent back to bed! I don't know what I'd do. If I could only
gain this morning. If my temp has only gone down! (_Hopelessly._) But I
feel---- I didn't sleep a wink--thinking----
MURRAY. (_roughly_). You'll persuade yourself you've got leprosy in a
second. Don't be silly! It's all imagination, I tell you. You'll gain.
Wait and see if you don't.
(Eileen _shakes her head. A metallic rumble and jangle comes
from the hallway. Everyone turns in that direction with nervous
MRS. TURNER (_admonishingly_). Mr. Peters!
PETERS. Yes, ma'am.
(_He stops playing and rejoins the group of men on the right.
In the midst of a silence broken only by hushed murmurs of
conversation,_ Doctor Stanton _appears in the hall doorway.
He turns to help his assistant wheel in a Fairbanks scale on
castors. They place the scale against the wall immediately to the
rear of the doorway._ Doctor Simms _adjusts it to a perfect
DOCTOR STANTON (_takes a pencil from his pocket and opens the record
book he has in his hand_). All ready, Doctor?
DOCTOR SIMMS. Just a second, sir.
(_A chorus of coughs comes from the impatient crowd, and
handkerchiefs are hurriedly produced to shield mouths._)
MURRAY (_with a nervous smile_). Well, we're all set. Here's hoping!
EILEEN. You'll gain, I'm sure you will. You look so well.
MURRAY. Oh--I--I wasn't thinking of myself, I'm a sure thing. I was
betting on you. I've simply got to gain to-day, when so much depends on
EILEEN. Yes, I hope you---- (_She falters brokenly and turns away from
DOCTOR SIMMS (_straightening up_). All ready, Doctor?
STANTON (_nods and glances at his book--without raising his
voice--distinctly_). Mrs. Abner.
(_A middle-aged woman comes and gets on the scale._ Simms
_adjusts it to her weight of the previous week, which_ Stanton
_reads to him from the book in a low voice, and weighs her._)
MURRAY (_with a relieved sigh_). They're off. (_Noticing_ Eileen's
_downcast head and air of dejection._) Here! Buck up, Eileen! Old Lady
Grundy's watching you--and it's your turn in a second.
(Eileen _raises her head and forces a frightened smile._ Mrs.
Abner _gets down off the scale with a pleased grin. She has
evidently gained. She rejoins the group of women, chattering
volubly in low tones. Her exultant "gained half a pound" can be
heard. The other women smile their perfunctory congratulations,
their eyes absent-minded, intent on their own worries._ Stanton
_writes down the weight in the book._)
STANTON. Miss Bailey. (_A young girl goes to the scales._)
MURRAY. Bailey looks bad, doesn't she?
EILEEN (_her lips trembling_). She's been losing, too.
MURRAY. Well, _you're_ going to gain to-day. Remember, now!
EILEEN (_with a feeble smile_). I'll try to obey your orders.
(Miss Bailey _goes down off the scales. Her eyes are full of
despondency although she tries to make a brave face of it,
forcing a laugh as she joins the women. They stare at her with
pitying looks and murmur consoling phrases._)
EILEEN. She's lost again. Oh, I wish I didn't have to get weighed----
STANTON. Miss Carmody.
(Eileen _starts nervously._)
MURRAY (_as she leaves him_). Remember now! Break the scales!
(_She walks quickly to the scales, trying to assume an air of
defiant indifference. The balance stays down as she steps up._
Eileen's _face shows her despair at this._ Simms _weighs her and
gives the poundage in a low voice to_ Stanton. Eileen _steps down
mechanically, then hesitates as if not knowing where to turn, her
anguished eyes flitting from one group to another._)
MURRAY (_savagely_). Damn!
(Doctor Stanton _writes the figures in his book, glances sharply
at_ Eileen, _and then nods significantly to_ Mrs. Turner _who is
standing beside him._)
STANTON (_calling the next_). Miss Doeffler.
(_Another woman comes to be weighed._)
MRS. TURNER. Miss Carmody! Will you come here a moment, please?
EILEEN (_her face growing very pale_). Yes, Mrs. Turner.
(_The heads of the different groups bend together. Their eyes
follow_ Eileen _as they whisper._ Mrs. Turner _leads her down
front, left. Behind them the weighing of the women continues
briskly. The great majority have gained. Those who have not have
either remained stationary or lost a negligible fraction of a
pound. So, as the weighing proceeds, the general air of smiling
satisfaction rises among the groups of women. Some of them, their
ordeal over, go out through the hall doorway by twos and threes
with suppressed laughter and chatter. As they pass behind_ Eileen
_they glance at her with pitying curiosity._ Doctor Stanton's
_voice is heard at regular intervals calling the names in
alphabetical order: Mrs. Elbing, Miss Finch, Miss Grimes, Miss
Haines, Miss Hayes, Miss Jutner, Miss Linowski, Mrs. Marini, Mrs.
McCoy, Miss McElroy, Miss Nelson, Mrs. Nott, Mrs. O'Brien, Mrs.
Olson, Miss Paul, Miss Petrovski, Mrs. Quinn, Miss Robersi, Mrs.
Stattler, Miss Unger._)
MRS. TURNER (_putting her hand on_ Eileen's _shoulder--kindly_). You're
not looking so well lately, my dear, do you know it?
EILEEN (_bravely_). I feel--fine. (_Her eyes, as if looking for
encouragement, seek_ Murray, _who is staring at her worriedly._)
MRS. TURNER (_gently_). You lost weight again, you know.
EILEEN, I know--but----
MRS. TURNER. This is the fourth week.
EILEEN. I--I know it is----
MRS. TURNER. I've been keeping my eye on you. You seem--worried. Are
you upset about--something we don't know?
EILEEN (_quickly_). No, no! I haven't slept much lately. That must be
MRS. TURNER. Are you worrying about your condition? Is that what keeps
MRS. TURNER. You're sure it's not that?
EILEEN. Yes, I'm sure it's not, Mrs. Turner.
MRS. TURNER. I was going to tell you if you were: Don't do it! You
can't expect it to be all smooth sailing. Even the most favourable
cases have to expect these little setbacks. A few days' rest in bed
will start you on the right trail again.
EILEEN (_in anguish, although she had realised this was coming_). Bed?
Go back to bed? Oh, Mrs. Turner!
MRS. TURNER (_gently_). Yes, my dear, Doctor Stanton thinks it best. So
when you go back to your cottage----
EILEEN. Oh, please--not to-day--not right away!
MRS. TURNER. You had a temperature and a high pulse yesterday, didn't
you realise it? And this morning you look quite feverish. (_She tries
to put her hand on_ Eileen's _forehead, but the latter steps away
EILEEN. It's only--not sleeping last night. I was nervous. Oh, I'm sure
it'll go away.
MRS. TURNER (_consolingly_). When you lie still and have perfect rest,
of course it will.
EILEEN (_with a longing look over at_ Murray). But not to-day--please,
MRS. TURNER (_looking at her keenly_). There is something upsetting
you. You've something on your mind that you can't tell me, is that it?
(Eileen _maintains a stubborn silence._) But think--_can't_ you tell
me? (_With a kindly smile._) I'm used to other people's troubles. I've
been playing mother-confessor to the patients for years now, and I
think I've usually been able to help them. Can't you confide in me,
child? (Eileen _drops her eyes, but remains silent._ Mrs. Turner
_glances meaningly over at_ Murray, _who is watching them whenever he
thinks the matron is not aware of it--a note of sharp rebuke in her
voice._) I think I can guess your secret, my dear, even if you're too
stubborn to tell. This setback is your own fault. You've let other
notions become more important to you than the idea of getting well. And
you've no excuse for it. After I had to warn you a month ago, I
expected _that_ silliness to stop instantly.
EILEEN (_her face flushed--protesting_). There never was anything.
Nothing like that has anything to do with it.
MRS. TURNER (_sceptically_). What is it that has, then?
EILEEN (_lying determinedly_). It's my family. They keep writing--and
worrying me--and---- That's what it is, Mrs. Turner.
MRS. TURNER (_not exactly knowing whether to believe this or
not--probing the girl with her eyes_). Your father?
EILEEN. Yes, all of them. (_Suddenly seeing a way to discredit all of
the matron's suspicions--excitedly._) And principally the young man I'm
engaged to--the one who came to visit me several times----
MRS. TURNER (_surprised_). So--you're engaged? (Eileen _nods._ Mrs.
Turner _immediately dismisses her suspicions._) Oh, pardon me. I didn't
know that, you see, or I wouldn't---- (_She pats_ Eileen _on the
shoulder comfortingly._) Never mind. You'll tell me all about it, won't
EILEEN (_desperately_). Yes. (_She seems about to go on, but the matron
MRS. TURNER. Oh, not here, my dear. Now now. Come to my room--let me
see--I'll be busy all the morning--some time this afternoon. Will you
EILEEN. Yes. (_Joyfully._) Then I needn't go to bed right away?
MRS. TURNER. No--on one condition. You mustn't take any exercise. Stay
in your recliner all day and rest and remain in bed to-morrow morning.
And promise me you will rest and not worry any more about things we can
easily fix up between us.
EILEEN. I promise, Mrs. Turner.
MRS. TURNER (_smiling in dismissal_). Very well, then. I must speak to
Miss Bailey. I'll see you this afternoon.
EILEEN. Yes, Mrs. Turner.
(_The matron goes to the rear where_ Miss Bailey _is sitting
with_ Mrs. Abner. _She beckons to_ Miss Bailey, _who gets up with
a scared look, and they go to the far left corner of the room._
Eileen _stands for a moment hesitating--then starts to go to_
Murray, _but just at this moment_ Peters _comes forward and
speaks to_ Murray.)
PETERS (_with his sly twisted grin_). Say, Carmody musta lost fierce.
Did yuh see the Old Woman handin' her an earful? Sent her back to bed,
I betcha. What d'yuh think?
MURRAY (_impatiently, showing his dislike_). How the hell do I know?
PETERS (_sneeringly_). Huh, you don't know nothin' 'bout her, I s'pose?
Where d'yuh get that stuff? Think yuh're kiddin' me?
MURRAY (_with cold rage before which the other slinks away_). Peters,
the more I see of you the better I like a skunk! If it wasn't for other
people losing weight you couldn't get any joy out of life, could you?
(_Roughly._) Get away from me! (_He makes a threatening gesture._)
PETERS (_beating a snarling retreat_). Wait 'n' see if yuh don't lose
too, yuh stuck-up boob!
(_Seeing that_ Murray _is alone again,_ Eileen _starts towards
him, but this time she is intercepted by_ Mrs. Abner, _who stops
on her way out. The weighing of the women is now finished, and
that of the men, which proceeds much quicker, begins._)
(_Anderson comes to the scales. The men all move down to the
left to wait their turn, with the exception of_ Murray, _who
remains by the dining-room door, fidgeting impatiently, anxious
for a word with_ Eileen.)
MRS. ABNER (_taking_ Eileen's _arm_). Coming over to the cottage,
EILEEN. Not just this minute, Mrs. Abner. I have to wait----
MRS. ABNER. For the Old Woman? You lost to-day, didn't you? Is she
sendin' you to bed, the old devil?
EILEEN. Yes, I'm afraid I'll have to----
MRS. ABNER. She's a mean one, ain't she? I gained this week--half a
pound. Lord, I'm gittin' fat! All my clothes are gittin' too small for
me. Don't know what I'll do. Did you lose much, dearie?
EILEEN. Three pounds.
MRS. ABNER. Ain't that awful! (_Hastening to make up for this
thoughtless remark._) All the same, what's three pounds! You can git
them back in a week after you're resting more. You been runnin' a temp,
too, ain't you? (_Eileen nods._) Don't worry about it, dearie. It'll go
down. Worryin's the worst. Me, I don't never worry none. (_She chuckled
with satisfaction--then soberly._) I just been talkin' with Bailey.
She's got to go to bed, too, I guess. She lost two pounds. She ain't
runnin' no temp though.
STANTON. Barnes! (_Another man comes to the scales._)
MRS. ABNER (_in a mysterious whisper_). Look at Mr. Murray, dearie.
Ain't he nervous to-day? I don't know as I blame him, either. I heard
the doctor said he'd let him go home if he gained to-day. Is it true,
EILEEN (_dully_). I don't know.
MRS. ABNER. Gosh, I wish it was me! My old man's missin' me like the
dickens, he writes. (_She starts to go._) You'll be over to the cottage
in a while, won't you? Me 'n' you'll have a game of casino, eh?
EILEEN (_happy at this deliverance_). Yes, I'll be glad to.
(Mrs. Abner _goes out._ Eileen _again starts towards_ Murray,
_but this time_ Flynn, _a young fellow with a brick-coloured,
homely, good-natured face, and a shaven-necked haircut, slouches
back to_ Murray. Eileen _is brought to a halt in front of the
table where she stands, her face working with nervous strain,
clasping and unclasping her trembling hands._)
FLYNN (_curiously_). Say, Steve, what's this bull about the Doc lettin'
yuh beat it if yuh gain to-day? Is it straight goods?
MURRAY. He said he might, that's all. (_Impatiently._) How the devil
did that story get travelling around?
FLYNN (_with a grin_). Wha' d'yuh expect with this gang of skirts
chewin' the fat? Well, here's hopin' yuh come home a winner, Steve.
MURRAY (_gratefully_). Thanks. (_With confidence._) Oh, I'll gain all
right; but whether he'll let me go or not---- (_He shrugs his
FLYNN. Make 'em believe. I wish Stanton'd ask waivers on me. (_With a
laugh._) I oughter gain a ton to-day. I ate enough spuds for breakfast
to plant a farm.
FLYNN. Me to the plate! (_He strides to the scales._)
MURRAY. Good luck!
(_He starts to join_ Eileen, _but_ Miss Bailey, _who has finished
her talk with_ Mrs. Turner, _who goes out to the hall,
approaches_ Eileen _at just this moment._ Murray _stops in his
tracks, fuming. He and_ Eileen _exchange a glance of helpless
MISS BAILEY (_her thin face full of the satisfaction of misery finding
company--plucks at_ Eileen's _sleeve_). Say, Carmody, she sent you back
to bed, too, didn't she?
EILEEN (_absent-mindedly_). I suppose----
MISS BAILEY. You suppose? Don't you know? Of course she did. I got to
go, too. (_Pulling_ Eileen's _sleeve._) Come on. Let's get out of here.
I hate this place, don't you?
STANTON (_calling the next_). Hopper!
FLYNN (_shouts to_ Murray _as he is going out to the hall_). I hit 'er
for a two-bagger, Steve. Come on now, Bo, and bring me home! 'Atta,
boy! (_Grinning gleefully, he slouches out._ Doctor Stanton _and all
the patients laugh._)
MISS BAILEY (_with irritating persistence_). Come on, Carmody. You've
got to go to bed, too.
EILEEN (_at the end of her patience--releasing her arm from the other's
grasp_). Let me alone, will you? I don't have to go to bed now--not
till to-morrow morning.
MISS BAILEY (_despairingly, as if she couldn't believe her ears_). You
don't have to go to bed?
EILEEN. Not now--no.
MISS BAILEY (_in a whining rage_). Why not? You've been running a temp,
too, and I haven't. You must have a pull, that's what! It isn't fair.
I'll bet you lost more than I did, too! What right have you got----
Well, I'm not going to bed if you don't. Wait 'n' see!
EILEEN (_turning away, revolted_). Go away! Leave me alone, please.
MISS BAILEY (_turns to the hall door, whining_). All right for you! I'm
going to find out. It isn't square. I'll write home.
(_She disappears in the hallway._ Murray _strides over to_
Eileen, _whose strength seems to have left her and who is leaning
weakly against the table._)
MURRAY. Thank God--at last! Isn't it hell--all these fools! I couldn't
get to you. What did Old Lady Grundy have to say to you? I saw her
giving me a hard look. Was it about us--the old stuff? (Eileen _nods
with downcast eyes._) What did she say? Never mind now. You can tell me
in a minute. It's my turn next. (_His eyes glance towards the scales._)
EILEEN (_intensely_). Oh, Stephen, I wish you weren't going away!
MURRAY (_excitedly_). Maybe I'm not. It's exciting--like gambling--if I
MURRAY. Wait here, Eileen.
(_He goes to the scales._ Eileen _keeps her back turned. Her body
stiffens rigidly in the intensity of her conflicting emotions.
She stares straight ahead, her eyes full of anguish._ Murray
_steps on the scales nervously. The balance rod hits the top
smartly. He has gained. His face lights up and he heaves a great
sigh of relief._ Eileen _seems to sense this outcome and her head
sinks, her body sags weakly and seems to shrink to a smaller
size._ Murray _gets off the scales, his face beaming with a
triumphant smile._ Doctor Stanton _smiles and murmurs something
to him in a low voice._ Murray _nods brightly; then turns back
STANTON. Nathan! (_Another patient advances to the scales._)
MURRAY (_trying to appear casual_). Well--three rousing cheers! Stanton
told me to come to his office at eleven. That means a final exam--and
EILEEN (_dully_). So you gained?
MURRAY. Three pounds.
EILEEN. Funny--I lost three. (_With a pitiful effort at a smile_.) I
hope you gained the ones I lost. (_Her lips tremble._) So you're surely
MURRAY (_his joy fleeing as he is confronted with her sorrow--slowly_).
It looks that way, Eileen.
EILEEN (_in a trembling whisper broken by rising sobs_). Oh--I'm so
glad--you gained--the ones I lost, Stephen---- So glad! (_She breaks
down, covering her face with her hands, stifling her sobs._)
MURRAY (_alarmed_). Eileen! What's the matter? (_Desperately._) Stop
it! Stanton'll see you!
THE CURTAIN FALLS
Act Two: Scene Two
_Midnight of the same day. A cross-road near the sanatorium. The
main road comes down forward from the right. A smaller road,
leading down from the left, joins it towards left centre._
_Dense woods rise sheer from the grass and bramble-grown ditches at
the roadsides. At the junction of the two roads there is a
signpost, its arms pointing towards the right and the left, rear. A
pile of round stones is at the road corner, left forward. A full
moon, riding high overhead, throws the roads into white, shadowless
relief and masses the woods into walls of compact blackness. The
trees lean heavily together, their branches motionless, unstirred
by any trace of wind._
_As the curtain rises,_ Eileen _is discovered standing in the
middle of the road, front centre. Her face shows white and clear in
the bright moonlight as she stares with anxious expectancy up the
road to the left. Her body is fixed in an attitude of rigid
immobility as if she were afraid the slightest movement would break
the spell of silence and awaken the unknown. She has shrunk
instinctively as far away as she can from the mysterious darkness
which rises at the roadsides like an imprisoning wall. A sound of
hurried footfalls, muffled by the dust, comes from the road she is
watching. She gives a startled gasp. Her eyes strain to identify
the oncomer. Uncertain, trembling with fright, she hesitates a
second; then darts to the side of the road and crouches down in the
Stephen Murray _comes down the road from the left. He stops by the
signpost and peers about him. He wears a cap, the peak of which
casts his face into shadow. Finally he calls in a low voice._
EILEEN (_coming out quickly from her hiding-place--with a glad little
cry_). Stephen! At last! (_She runs to him as if she were going to
fling her arms about him, but stops abashed. He reaches out and takes
MURRAY. At last? It can't be twelve yet. (_He leads her to the pile of
stones on the left._) I haven't heard the village clock.
EILEEN. I must have come early. It seemed as if I'd been waiting for
ages. I was so anxious----
MURRAY. How your hands tremble! Were you frightened?
EILEEN (_forcing a smile_). A little. The woods are so black--and
queer-looking. I'm all right now.
MURRAY. Sit down. You must rest. (_In a tone of annoyed reproof._) I'm
going to read you a lecture, young lady. You shouldn't ever have done
this--running a temp and---- Good heavens, don't you want to get well?
EILEEN (_dully_). I don't know----
MURRAY (_irritably_). You make me ill when you talk that way, Eileen.
It doesn't sound like you at all. What's come over you lately? Get a
grip on yourself, for God's sake. I was--knocked out--when I read the
note you slipped me after supper. I didn't get a chance to read it
until late, I was so busy packing, and by that time you'd gone to your
cottage. If I could have reached you any way I'd have refused to come
here, I tell you straight. But I couldn't--and I knew you'd be here
waiting--and--still, I feel guilty. Damn it, this isn't the thing for
you! You ought to be in bed asleep. Can't you look out for yourself?
EILEEN (_humbly_). Please, Stephen, don't scold me.
MURRAY. How the devil did you ever get the idea--meeting me here at
this ungodly hour?
EILEEN. You'd told me about your sneaking out that night to go to the
village, and I thought there'd be no harm this one night--the last
MURRAY. But I'm well. I've been well. It's different. You---- Honest,
Eileen, you shouldn't lose sleep and tax your strength.
EILEEN. Don't scold me, please. I'll make up for it. I'll rest all the
time--after you're gone. I just had to see you some way--somewhere
where there weren't eyes and ears on all sides--when you told me after
dinner that Doctor Stanton had examined you and said you could go
to-morrow---- (_A clock in the distant village begins striking._)
MURRAY. That's twelve now. You see I was early.
(_In a pause of silence they wait motionlessly until the last
mournful note dies in the hushed woods._)
EILEEN (_in a stifled voice_). It isn't to-morrow now, is it? It's
to-day--the day you're going.
MURRAY (_something in her voice making him avert his face and kick at
the heap of stones on which she is sitting--brusquely_). Well, I hope
you took precautions so you wouldn't be caught sneaking out.
EILEEN. I did just what you'd told me you did--stuffed the pillows
under the clothes so the watchman would think I was there.
MURRAY. None of the patients on your porch saw you leave, did they?
EILEEN. No. They were all asleep.
MURRAY. That's all right, then. I wouldn't trust any of that bunch of
women. They'd be only too glad to squeal on you. (_There is an
uncomfortable pause._ Murray _seems waiting for her to speak. He looks
about him at the trees, up into the moonlit sky, breathing in the fresh
air with a healthy delight._ Eileen _remains with downcast head,
staring at the road._) It's beautiful to-night, isn't it? Worth losing
EILEEN (_dully_). Yes. (_Another pause--finally she murmurs faintly._)
Are you leaving early?
MURRAY. The ten-forty. Leave the San at ten, I guess.
EILEEN. You're going home?
MURRAY. Home? You mean to the town? No. But I'm going to see my
sisters--just to say hello. I've got to, I suppose. I won't stay more
than a few days, if I can help it.
EILEEN. I'm sure--I've often felt--you're unjust to your sisters.
(_With conviction._) I'm sure they must both love you.
MURRAY (_frowning_). Maybe, in their own way. But what's love without a
glimmer of understanding--a nuisance! They have never seen the real me
and never have wanted to--that's all.
EILEEN (_as if to herself_). What is--the real you? (Murray _kicks at
the stones impatiently without answering._ Eileen _hastens to change
the subject._) And then you'll go to New York?
MURRAY (_interested, at once_). Yes. You bet.
EILEEN. And write more?
MURRAY. Not in New York, no. I'm going there to take a vacation, and
live, really enjoy myself for a while. I've enough money for that as it
is, and if the other stories you typed sell--I'll be as rich as
Rockefeller. I might even travel---- No, I've got to make good with my
best stuff first. I'll save the travelling as a reward, a prize to
gain. That'll keep me at it. I know what I'll do. When I've had enough
of New York, I'll rent a place in the country--some old farmhouse--and
live alone there and work. (_Lost in his own plans--with pleasure._)
That's the right idea, isn't it?
EILEEN (_trying to appear enthused_). It ought to be fine for your
work. (_After a pause._) They're fine, those stories you wrote here.
They're--so much like you. I'd know it was you wrote them even if--I
MURRAY (_pleased_). Wait till you read the others I'm going to do!
(_After a slight pause--with a good-natured grin._) Here I am talking
about myself again! Why don't you call me down when I start that
drivel? But you don't know how good it is to have your dreams coming
true. It'd make an egotist out of anyone.
EILEEN (_sadly_). No. I don't know. But I love to hear you talk of
MURRAY (_with an embarrassed laugh_). Thanks. Well, I've certainly told
you all of them. You're the only one---- (_He stops and abruptly
changes the subject._) You said in your note that you had something
important to tell me. (_He sits down beside her, crossing his legs._)
Is it about your interview with Old Mrs. Grundy this afternoon?
EILEEN. No, that didn't amount to anything. She seemed mad because I
told her so little. I think she guessed I only told her what I did so
she'd let me stay up, maybe--your last day,--and to keep her from
thinking what she did--about us.
MURRAY (_quickly, as if he wishes to avoid this subject_). What is it
you wanted to tell me, then?
EILEEN (_sadly_). It doesn't seem so important now, somehow. I suppose
it was silly of me to drag you out here, just for that. It can't mean
anything to you--much.
MURRAY (_encouragingly_). How do you know it can't?
EILEEN (_slowly_). I only thought--you might like to know.
MURRAY (_interestedly_). Know what? What is it? If I can help----
EILEEN. No. (_After a moment's hesitation._) I wrote to him this
EILEEN. The letter you've been advising me to write.
MURRAY (_as if the knowledge of this alarmed him--haltingly_). You
MURRAY (_after a pause--uncomfortably_). You mean--you broke it all
EILEEN. Yes--for good. (_She looks up at his averted face. He remains
silent. She continues apprehensively._) You don't say anything. I
thought--you'd be glad. You've always told me it was the honourable
thing to do.
MURRAY (_gruffly_). I know. I say more than my prayers, damn it! (_With
sudden eagerness._) Have you mailed the letter yet?
EILEEN. Yes. Why?
MURRAY (_shortly_). Humph. Oh--nothing.
EILEEN (_with pained disappointment_). Oh, Stephen, you don't think I
did wrong, do you--now--after all you've said?
MURRAY (_hurriedly_). Wrong? No, not if you were convinced it was the
right thing to do yourself--if you know you don't love him. But I'd
hate to think you did it just on my advice. I shouldn't---- I didn't
mean to interfere. I don't know enough about your relations for my
opinion to count.
EILEEN (_hurt_). You know all there is to know.
MURRAY. I didn't mean--anything like that. I know you've been frank.
But him--I don't know him. How could I, just meeting him once? He may
be quite different from my idea. That's what I'm getting at. I don't
want to be unfair to him.
EILEEN (_bitterly scornful_). You needn't worry. You weren't unfair.
And you needn't be afraid you were responsible for my writing. I'd been
going to for a long time before you ever spoke.
MURRAY (_with a relieved sigh_). I'm glad of that--honestly, Eileen. I
felt guilty. I shouldn't have knocked him behind his back without
knowing him at all.
EILEEN. You said you could read him like a book from his letters I
MURRAY (_apologetically_). I know. I'm a fool.
EILEEN (_angrily_). What makes you so considerate of Fred Nicholls all
of a sudden? What you thought about him was right.
MURRAY (_vaguely_). I don't know. One makes mistakes.
EILEEN (_assertively_). Well, I know! You needn't waste pity on him.
He'll be only too glad to get my letter. He's been anxious to be free
of me ever since I was sent here, only he thought it wouldn't be decent
to break it off himself while I was sick. He was afraid of what people
would say about him when they found it out. So he's just gradually
stopped writing and coming for visits, and waited for me to realise.
And if I didn't, I know he'd have broken it off himself the first day I
got home. I've kept persuading myself that, in spite of the way he's
acted, he did love me as much as he could love anyone, and that it
would hurt him if I---- But now I know that he never loved me, that he
couldn't love anyone but himself. Oh, I don't hate him for it. He can't
help being what he is. And all people seem to be--like that, mostly.
I'm only going to remember that he and I grew up together, and that he
was kind to me then when he thought he liked me--and forget all the
rest. (_With agitated impatience._) Oh, Stephen, you know all this I've
said about him. Why don't you admit it? You've read his letters.
MURRAY (_haltingly_). Yes, I'll admit that was my opinion--only I
wanted to be sure you'd found out for yourself.
EILEEN (_defiantly_). Well, I have! You see that now, don't you?
MURRAY. Yes; and I'm glad you're free of him, for your own sake. I knew
he wasn't the person. (_With an attempt at a joking tone._) You must
get one of the right sort--next time.
EILEEN (_springing to her feet with a cry of pain_). Stephen!
(_He avoids her eyes, which search his face pleadingly._)
MURRAY (_mumbling_). He wasn't good enough--to lace your shoes--nor
anyone else, either.
EILEEN (_with a nervous laugh_). Don't be silly. (_After a pause,
during which she waits hungrily for some word from him--with a sigh of
despair--faintly._) Well, I've told you--all there is. I might as well
MURRAY (_not looking at her--indistinctly_). Yes. You mustn't lose too
much sleep. I'll come to your cottage in the morning to say good-bye.
They'll permit that, I guess.
EILEEN (_stands looking at him imploringly, her face convulsed with
anguish, but he keeps his eyes fixed on the rocks at his feet. Finally
she seems to give up and takes a few uncertain steps up the road
towards the right--in an exhausted whisper_). Good night, Stephen.
MURRAY (_his voice choked and husky_). Good night, Eileen.
EILEEN (_walks weakly up the road, but, as she passes the signpost, she
suddenly stops and turns to look again at_ Murray, _who has not moved
or lifted his eyes. A great shuddering sob shatters her pent-up
emotions. She runs back to_ Murray, _her arms outstretched, with a
choking cry_). Stephen!
MURRAY (_startled, whirls to face her and finds her arms thrown around
his neck--in a terrified tone_). Eileen!
EILEEN (_brokenly_). I love you, Stephen--you! That's what I wanted to
(_She gazes up into his eyes, her face transfigured by the joy
and pain of this abject confession._)
MURRAY (_wincing as if this were the thing he had feared to hear_).
EILEEN (_pulling down his head with fierce strength and kissing him
passionately on the lips_). I love you! I will say it! There! (_With
sudden horror._) Oh, I know I shouldn't kiss you! I mustn't! You're
all well--and I----
MURRAY (_protesting frenziedly_). Eileen! Damn it! Don't say that! What
do you think I am!
(_He kisses her fiercely two or three times until she forces a
hand over her mouth._)
EILEEN (_with a hysterically happy laugh_). No! Just hold me in your
arms--just a little while--before----
MURRAY (_his voice trembling_). Eileen! Don't talk that way!
You're--it's killing me. I can't stand it!
EILEEN (_with soothing tenderness_). Listen, dear--listen--and you
won't say a word--I've so much to say--till I get through--please, will
MURRAY (_between clinched teeth_). Yes--anything, Eileen!
EILEEN. Then I want to say--I know your secret. You don't love
me--Isn't that it? (Murray _groans._) Sssh! It's all right, dear. You
can't help what you don't feel. I've guessed you didn't--right along.
And I've loved you--such a long time now--always, it seems. And you've
sort of guessed--that I did--didn't you? No, don't speak! I'm sure
you've guessed--only you didn't want to know--that--did you?--when you
didn't love me. That's why you were lying--but I saw, I knew! Oh, I'm
not blaming you, darling. How could I--never! You mustn't look so--so
frightened. I know how you felt, dear. I've--I've watched you. It was
just a flirtation for you at first. Wasn't it? Oh, I know. It was just
fun, and---- Please don't look at me so. I'm not hurting you, am I? I
wouldn't for worlds, dear--you know--hurt you! And then afterwards--you
found we could be such good friends--helping each other--and you wanted
it to stay just like that always, didn't you?--I know--and then I had
to spoil it all--and fall in love with you--didn't I? Oh, it was
stupid--I shouldn't--I couldn't help it, you were so kind and--and
different--and I wanted to share in your work and--and everything. I
knew you wouldn't want to know I loved you--when you didn't--and I
tried hard to be fair and hide my love so you wouldn't see--and I did,
didn't I, dear? You never knew till just lately--maybe not till just
to-day--did you?--when I knew you were going away so soon--and couldn't
help showing it. You never knew before, did you? Did you?
MURRAY (_miserably_). No. Oh, Eileen--Eileen, I'm so sorry!
EILEEN (_in heart-broken protest_). Sorry? Oh, no, Stephen, you mustn't
be! It's been beautiful--all of it--for me! That's what makes your
going--so hard. I had to see you to-night--I'd have gone--crazy--if I
didn't know you knew, if I hadn't made you guess. And I thought--if you
knew about my writing to Fred--that--maybe--it'd make some difference.
(Murray _groans--and she laughs hysterically._) I must have been
crazy--to think that--mustn't I? As if that could--when you don't love
me. Sshh! Please! Let me finish. You mustn't feel sad--or anything.
It's made me happier than I've ever been--loving you--even when I did
know--you didn't. Only now--you'll forgive me telling you all this,
won't you, dear? Now, it's so terrible to think I won't see you any
more. I'll feel so--without anybody.
MURRAY (_brokenly_). But I'll--come back. And you'll be out soon--and
EILEEN (_brokenly_). Sshh! Let me finish. You don't know how alone I am
now. Father--he'll marry that housekeeper--and the children--they've
forgotten me. None of them need me any more. They've found out how to
get on without me--and I'm a drag--dead to them--no place for me home
any more--and they'll be afraid to have me back--afraid of catching--I
know she won't want me back. And Fred--he's gone--he never mattered,
anyway. Forgive me, dear--worrying you--only I want you to know how
much you've meant to me--so you won't forget--ever--after you've gone.
MURRAY (_in grief-stricken tones_). Forget? Eileen! I'll do anything in
EILEEN. I know--you like me a lot even if you can't love me--don't you?
(_His arms tighten about her as he bends down and forces a kiss on her
lips again._) Oh, Stephen! That was for good-bye. You mustn't come
to-morrow morning. I couldn't bear having you--with people watching.
But you'll write after--often--won't you? (_Heart-brokenly._) Oh,
please do that, Stephen!
MURRAY. I will! I swear! And when you get out I'll--we'll--I'll find
something. (_He kisses her again._)
EILEEN (_breaking away from him with a quick movement and stepping back
a few feet_). Good-bye, darling. Remember me--and perhaps--you'll find
out after a time--I'll pray God to make it so! Oh, what am I saying?
Only--I'll hope--I'll hope--till I die!
MURRAY (_in anguish_). Eileen!
EILEEN (_her breath coming in tremulous heaves of her bosom_).
Remember, Stephen--if ever you want--I'll do anything--anything you
want--no matter what--I don't care--there's just you and--don't hate
me, dear. I love you--love you--remember! (_She suddenly turns and runs
away up the road._)
MURRAY. Eileen! (_He starts to run after her, but stops by the signpost
and stamps on the ground furiously, his fists clenched in impotent rage
at himself and at fate. He curses hoarsely._) Christ!
THE CURTAIN FALLS
_Four months later. An isolation room at the Infirmary with a
sleeping porch at the right of it. Late afternoon of a Sunday
towards the end of October. The room, extending two-thirds of the
distance from left to right, is, for reasons of space economy,
scantily furnished with the bare necessities--a bureau with mirror
in the left corner, rear--two straight-backed chairs--a table with
a glass top in the centre. The floor is varnished hardwood. The
walls and furniture are painted white. On the left, forward, a door
to the hall. On the right, rear, a double glass door opening on the
porch. Farther front two windows. The porch, a screened-in
continuation of the room, contains only a single iron bed, painted
white, and a small table placed beside the bed._
_The woods, the leaves of the trees rich in their autumn colouring,
rise close about this side of the Infirmary. Their branches almost
touch the porch on the right. In the rear of the porch they have
been cleared away from the building for a narrow space, and through
this opening the distant hills can be seen with the tree tops
glowing in the sunlight._
_As the curtain rises,_ Eileen _is discovered lying in the bed on
the porch, propped up into a half-sitting position by pillows under
her back and head. She seems to have grown much thinner. Her face
is pale and drawn, with deep hollows under her cheek-bones. Her
eyes are dull and lustreless. She gazes straight before her into
the wood with the unseeing stare of apathetic indifference. The
door from the hall in the room behind her is opened, and_ Miss
Howard _enters, followed by_ Bill Carmody, Mrs. Brennan, _and_
Mary. Carmody's _manner is unwontedly sober and subdued. This air
of respectable sobriety is further enhanced by a black suit,
glaringly new and stiffly pressed, a new black derby hat, and shoes
polished like a mirror. His expression is full of a bitter, if
suppressed, resentment. His gentility is evidently forced upon him
in spite of himself and correspondingly irksome._ Mrs. Brennan _is
a tall, stout woman of fifty, lusty and loud-voiced, with a broad,
snub-nosed, florid face, a large mouth, the upper lip darkened by a
suggestion of moustache, and little round blue eyes, hard and
restless with a continual fuming irritation. She is got up
regardless in her ridiculous Sunday-best._ Mary _appears tall and
skinny-legged in a starched, outgrown frock. The sweetness of her
face has disappeared, giving way to a hang-dog sullenness, a
stubborn silence, with sulky, furtive glances of rebellion directed
at her step-mother._
MISS HOWARD (_pointing to the porch_). She's out there on the porch.
MRS. BRENNAN (_with dignity_). Thank you, ma'am.
MISS HOWARD (_with a searching glance at the visitors as if to appraise
their intentions_). Eileen's been very sick lately, you know, so be
careful not to worry her about anything. Do your best to cheer her up.
CARMODY (_mournfully_). We'll try to put life in her spirits, God help
her. (_With an uncertain look at_ Mrs. Brennan.) Won't we, Maggie?
MRS. BRENNAN (_turning sharply on_ Mary, _who has gone over to examine
the things on the bureau_). Come away from that, Mary. Curiosity killed
a cat. Don't be touchin' her things. Remember what I told you. Or is it
admirin' your mug in the mirror you are? (_Turning to_ Miss Howard _as_
Mary _moves away from the bureau, hanging her head--shortly._) Don't
you worry, ma'am. We won't trouble Eileen at all.
MISS HOWARD. Another thing. You mustn't say anything to her of what
Miss Gilpin just told you about her being sent away to the State Farm
in a few days. Eileen isn't to know till the very last minute. It would
only disturb her.
CARMODY (_hastily_). We'll not say a word of it.
MISS HOWARD (_turning to the hall door_). Thank you.
(_She goes out, shutting the door._)
MRS. BRENNAN (_angrily_). She has a lot of impudent gab, that one, with
her don't do this and don't do that! It's a wonder you wouldn't speak
up to her and shut her mouth, you great fool, and you payin' money to
give her her job. (_Disgustedly._) You've no guts in you.
CARMODY (_placatingly_). Would you have me raisin' a shindy when
Eileen's leavin' here in a day or more? What'd be the use?
MRS. BRENNAN. In the new place she's goin' you'll not have to pay a
cent, and that's a blessing! It's small good they've done her here for
all the money they've taken. (_Gazing about the room critically._) It's
neat and clean enough; and why shouldn't it, a tiny room and the lot of
them nothing to do all day but scrub. (_Scornfully._) Two sticks of
chairs and a table! They don't give much for the money.
CARMODY. Catch them! It's a good thing she's clearin' out of this, and
her worse off after them curin' her eight months than she was when she
came. She'll maybe get well in the new place.
MRS. BRENNAN (_indifferently_). It's God's will, what'll happen.
(_Irritably._) And I'm thinkin' it's His punishment she's under now for
having no heart in her and never writin' home a word to you or the
children in two months or more. If the doctor hadn't wrote us himself
to come see her, she was sick, we'd have been no wiser.
CARMODY. Whisht! Don't be blamin' a sick girl.
MARY (_who has drifted to one of the windows at right--curiously_).
There's somebody in bed out there. I can't see her face. Is it Eileen?
MRS. BRENNAN. Don't be goin' out there till I tell you, you imp! I must
speak to your father first. (_Coming closer to him and lowering her
voice._) Are you going to tell her about it?
CARMODY (_pretending ignorance_). About what?
MRS. BRENNAN. About what, indeed! Don't pretend you don't know. About
our marryin' two weeks back, of course. What else?
CARMODY (_uncertainly_). Yes--I disremembered she didn't know. I'll
have to tell her, surely.
MRS. BRENNAN (_flaring up_). You speak like you wouldn't. Is it shamed
of me you are? Are you afraid of a slip of a girl? Well, then, I'm not!
I'll tell her to her face soon enough.
CARMODY (_angry in his turn--assertively_). You'll not, now! Keep your
mouth out of this and your rough tongue! I tell you I'll tell her.
MRS. BRENNAN (_satisfied_). Let's be going out to her, then. (_They
move towards the door to the porch._) And keep your eye on your watch.
We mustn't miss the train. Come with us, Mary, and remember to keep
your mouth shut.
(_They go out on the porch and stand just outside the door
waiting for_ Eileen _to notice them; but the girl in bed
continues to stare into the woods, oblivious to their presence._)
MRS. BRENNAN (_nudging_ Carmody _with her elbow--in a harsh whisper_).
She don't see us. It's a dream she's in with her eyes open. Glory be,
it's bad she's lookin'. The look on her face'd frighten you. Speak to
(Eileen _stirs uneasily as if this whisper had disturbed her
CARMODY (_wetting his lips and clearing his throat huskily_). Eileen.
EILEEN (_startled, turns and stares at them with frightened eyes. After
a pause she ventures uncertainly, as if she were not sure hut what
these figures might be creatures of her dream_). Father. (_Her eyes
shift to_ Mrs. Brennan's _face and she shudders._) Mrs. Brennan.
MRS. BRENNAN (_quickly--in a voice meant to be kindly_). Here we are,
all of us, come to see you. How is it you're feelin' now, Eileen?
(_While she is talking she advances to the bedside, followed by_
Carmody, _and takes one of the sick girl's hands in hers._ Eileen
_withdraws it as if stung and holds it out to her father._ Mrs.
Brennan's _face flushes angrily and she draws back from the
CARMODY (_moved--with rough tenderness patting her hand_). Ah, Eileen,
sure it's a sight for sore eyes to see you again! (_He bends down as if
to kiss her, but, struck by a sudden fear, hesitates, straightens
himself, and shamed by the understanding in_ Eileen's _eyes, grows red
and stammers confusedly._) How are you now? Sure it's the picture of
health you're lookin'.
(Eileen _sighs and turns her eyes away from him with a resigned
MRS. BRENNAN. What are you standin' there for like a stick, Mary?
Haven't you a word to say to your sister?
EILEEN (_twisting her head around and seeing_ Mary _for the first
time--with a glad cry_). Mary! I--why, I didn't see you before! Come
(Mary _approaches gingerly with apprehensive side glances at_
Mrs. Brennan, _who watches her grimly._ Eileen's _arms reach out
for her hungrily. She grasps her about the waist and seems trying
to press the unwilling child to her breast._)
MARY (_fidgeting nervously--suddenly in a frightened whine_). Let me
go! (Eileen _releases her, looks at her face dazedly for a second, then
falls back limply with a little moan and shuts her eyes._ Mary, _who
has stepped back a pace, remains fixed there as if fascinated with
fright by her sister's face. She stammers._) Eileen--you look so--so
EILEEN (_without opening her eyes--in a dead voice_). You, too! I never
thought you---- Go away, please.
MRS. BRENNAN (_with satisfaction_). Come here to me, Mary, and don't be
botherin' your sister.
(Mary _avoids her step-mother, but retreats to the far end of the
porch where she stands shrunk back against the wall, her eyes
fixed on_ Eileen _with the same fascinated horror._)
CARMODY (_after an uncomfortable pause, forcing himself to speak_). Is
the pain bad, Eileen?
EILEEN (_dully--without opening her eyes_). There's no pain. (_There is
another pause--then she murmurs indifferently._) There are chairs in
the room you can bring out if you want to sit down.
MRS. BRENNAN (_sharply_). We've not time to be sittin'. We've the train
back to catch.
EILEEN (_in the same lifeless voice_). It's a disagreeable trip. I'm
sorry you had to come.
CARMODY (_fighting against an oppression he cannot understand, bursts
into a flood of words_). Don't be talking of the trip. Sure we're glad
to take it to get a sight of you. It's three months since I've had a
look at you, and I was anxious. Why haven't you written a line to us?
You could do that without trouble, surely. Don't you ever think of us
at all any more? (_He waits for an answer, but_ Eileen _remains silent
with her eyes closed._ Carmody _starts to walk up and down, talking
with an air of desperation._) You're not asking a bit of news from
home. I'm thinkin' the people out here have taken all the thought of us
out of your head. We're all well, thank God. I've another good job on
the streets from Murphy and one that'll last a long time, praise be!
I'm needin' it surely, with all the expenses--but no matter. Billy had
a raise from his old skinflint of a boss a month back. He's gettin'
seven a week now and proud as a turkey. He was comin' out with us
to-day, but he'd a date with his girl. Sure, he's got a girl now, the
young bucko! What d'you think of him? It's old Malloy's girl he's
after--the pop-eyed one with glasses, you remember--as ugly as a blind
sheep, only he don't think so. He said to give you his love. (Eileen
_stirs and sighs wearily, a frown appearing for an instant on her
forehead._) And Tom and Nora was comin' out too, but Father Fitz had
some doin's or other up to the school, and he told them to be there, so
they wouldn't come with us, but they sent their love to you, too.
They're growin' so big you'd not know them. Tom's no good at the
school. He's like Billy was. I've had to take the strap to him often.
He's always playin' hooky and roamin' the streets. And Nora. (_With
pride._) There's the divil for you! Up to everything she is and no
holdin' her high spirits. As pretty as a picture, and the smartest girl
in her school, Father Fitz says. Am I lyin', Maggie?
MRS. BRENNAN (_grudgingly_). She's smart enough--and too free with her
CARMODY (_pleased_). Ah, don't be talkin'! She'll know more than the
lot of us before she's grown even. (_He pauses in his walk and stares
down at_ Eileen, _frowning._) Are you sick, Eileen, that you're keepin'
your eyes shut without a word out of you?
EILEEN (_wearily_). No. I'm tired, that's all.
CARMODY (_resuming his walk_). And who else is there, let me think? Oh,
Mary--she's the same as ever, you can see for yourself.
EILEEN (_bitterly_). The same? Oh, no!
CARMODY. She's grown, you mean? I suppose. You'd notice, not seeing her
(_He can think of nothing else to say, but walks up and down with
a restless, uneasy expression._)
MRS. BRENNAN (_sharply_). What time is it gettin'?
CARMODY (_fumbles for his watch_). Half-past four, a bit after.
MRS. BRENNAN. We'll have to leave soon. It's a long jaunt down that
hill in that buggy.
(_She catches his eye and makes violent signs to him to tell_
Eileen _what he has come to tell._)
CARMODY (_after an uncertain pause--clenching his fists and clearing
his throat_). Eileen.
CARMODY (_irritably_). Can't you open your eyes on me? It's like
talkin' to myself I am.
EILEEN (_looking at him--dully_). What is it?
CARMODY (_stammering--avoiding her glance_). It's this, Eileen--me and
Maggie--Mrs. Brennan, that is--we----
EILEEN (_without surprise_). You're going to marry her?
CARMODY (_with an effort_). Not goin' to. It's done.
EILEEN (_without a trace of feeling_). Oh, so you've been married
(_Without further comment, she closes her eyes._)
CARMODY. Two weeks back we were, by Father Fitz.
(_He stands staring down at his daughter, irritated, perplexed
and confounded by her silence, looking as if he longed to shake
MRS. BRENNAN (_angry at the lack of enthusiasm shown by_ Eileen). Let
us get out of this, Bill. We're not wanted, that's plain as the nose on
your face. It's little she's caring about you, and little thanks she
has for all you've done for her and the money you've spent.
CARMODY (_with a note of pleading_). Is that a proper way to be
treatin' your father, Eileen, after what I've told you? Have you no
heart in you at all? Is it nothin' to you you've a good, kind woman now
EILEEN (_fiercely, her eyes flashing open on him_). No, no! Never!
MRS. BRENNAN (_plucking at_ Carmody's _elbow. He stands looking at_
Eileen _helplessly, his mouth open, a guilty flush spreading over his
face_). Come out of here, you big fool, you! Is it to listen to insults
to your livin' wife you're waiting? Am I to be tormented and you never
raise a hand to stop her?
CARMODY (_turning on her threateningly_). Will you shut your gab?
EILEEN (_with a moan_). Oh, go away, Father! Please! Take her away!
MRS. BRENNAN (_pulling at his arm_). Take me away this second or I'll
go on without you and never speak again to you till the day I die!
CARMODY (_pushes her violently away from him--his fist uplifted_). Shut
your gab, I'm saying!
MRS. BRENNAN. The divil mend you and yours then! I'm leavin' you. (_She
starts for the door._)
CARMODY (_hastily_). Wait a bit, Maggie. I'm comin'. (_She goes into
the room, slamming the door, but once inside she stands still, trying
to listen._ Carmody _glares down at his daughter's pale twitching face
with the closed eyes. Finally he croaks in a whining tone of fear._) Is
your last word a cruel one to me this day, Eileen?
(_She remains silent. His face darkens. He turns and strides out
of the door._ Mary _darts after him with a frightened cry of
"Papa."_ Eileen _covers her face with her hands and a shudder of
relief runs over her body._)
MRS. BRENNAN (_as_ Carmody _enters the room--in a mollified tone_). So
you've come, have you? Let's go, then? (Carmody _stands looking at her
in silence, his expression full of gloomy rage. She bursts out
impatiently._) Are you comin' or are you goin' back to her? (_She
grabs_ Mary's _arm and pushes her towards, the door to the hall._) Are
you comin' or not, I'm askin'?
CARMODY (_sombrely--as if to himself_). There's something wrong in the
whole of this--that I can't make out. (_With sudden fury he brandishes
his fists as though defying someone and growls threateningly._) And
I'll get drunk this night--dead, rotten drunk! (_He seems to detect
disapproval in_ Mrs. Brennan's _face, for he shakes his fist at her and
repeats like a solemn oath._) I'll get drunk this night, I'm sayin'!
I'll get drunk if my soul roasts for it--and no one in the whole world
is strong enough to stop me!
(Mrs. Brennan _turns from him with a disgusted shrug of her
shoulders and hustles_ Mary _out of the door._ Carmody, _after a
second's pause, follows them._ Eileen _lies still, looking out
into the woods with empty, desolate eyes._ Miss Howard _comes
into the room from the hall and goes to the porch, carrying a
glass of milk in her hand._)
MISS HOWARD. Here's your diet, Eileen. I forgot it until just now.
Sundays are awful days, aren't they? They get me all mixed up in my
work, with all these visitors around. Did you have a nice visit with
EILEEN (_forcing a smile_). Yes.
MISS HOWARD. You look worn out. I hope they didn't worry you over home
(_She sips her milk and sets it back on the table with a shudder
MISS HOWARD (_with a smile_). What a face! You'd think you were taking
EILEEN. I hate it! (_With deep passion._) I wish it was poison!
MISS HOWARD (_jokingly_). Oh, come now! That isn't a nice way to feel
on the Sabbath. (_With a meaning smile._) I've some news that'll cheer
you up, I bet. (_Archly._) Guess who's here on a visit?
EILEEN (_startled--in a frightened whisper_). Who?
MISS HOWARD. Mr. Murray. (Eileen _closes her eyes wincingly for a
moment and a shadow of pain comes over her face._) He just came about
the time your folks did. I saw him for a moment, not to speak to. He
was going to the main building--to see Doctor Stanton, I suppose.
(_Beaming--with a certain curiosity._) What do you think of that for
EILEEN (_trying to conceal her agitation and assume a casual tone_). He
must have come to be examined.
MISS HOWARD (_with a meaning laugh_). Oh, I'd hardly say that was his
main reason. He does look much thinner and very tired, though. I
suppose he's been working too hard. (_In business-like tones._) Well,
I've got to get back on the job. (_She turns to the door calling back
jokingly._) He'll be in to see you, of course, so look your prettiest.
(_She goes out and shuts the door to the porch._ Eileen _gives a
frightened gasp and struggles up in bed as if she wanted to call
the nurse to return. Then she lies back in a state of great
nervous excitement, twisting her head with eager, fearful glances
towards the door, listening, clasping and unclasping her thin
fingers on the white spread. As_ Miss Howard _walks across the
room to the hall door, it is opened and_ Stephen Murray _enters.
A great change is visible in his face. It is much thinner and the
former healthy tan has faded to a sallow pallor. Puffy shadows of
sleeplessness and dissipation are marked under his heavy-lidded
eyes. He is dressed in a well-fitting, expensive dark suit, a
white shirt with a soft collar and bright-coloured tie._)
MISS HOWARD (_with pleased surprise, holding out her hand_). Hello, Mr.
MURRAY (_shaking her hand--with a forced pleasantness_). How are you,
MISS HOWARD. Fine as ever. It certainly looks natural to see you around
here again--not that I hope you're here to stay, though. (_With a
smile._) I suppose you're on your way to Eileen now. Well, I won't keep
you. I've stacks of work to do. (_She opens the hall door. He starts
for the porch._) Oh, I was forgetting--Congratulations! I've read those
stories--all of us have. They're great. We're all so proud of you.
You're one of our graduates, you know.
MURRAY (_indifferently_). Oh,--that stuff.
MISS HOWARD (_gaily_). Don't be so modest. Well, see you later, I hope.
MURRAY. Yes. Doctor Stanton invited me to stay for supper and I may----
MISS HOWARD. Fine! Be sure to!
(_She goes out._ Murray _walks to porch door and steps out. He
finds_ Eileen's _eyes waiting for him. As their eyes meet she
gasps involuntarily and he stops short in his tracks. For a
moment they remain looking at each other in silence._)
EILEEN (_dropping her eyes--faintly_). Stephen.
MURRAY (_much moved, strides to her bedside and takes her hands
awkwardly_). Eileen. (_Then after a second's pause, in which he
searches her face and is shocked by the change illness has
made--anxiously._) How are you feeling, Eileen? (_He grows confused
by her gaze and his eyes shift from hers, which search his face with
EILEEN (_forcing a smile_). Oh, I'm all right. (_Eagerly._) But you,
Stephen? How are you? (_Excitedly._) Oh, it's good to see you again!
(_Her eyes continue fixed on his face pleadingly, questioningly._)
MURRAY (_haltingly_). And it's sure great to see you again, Eileen.
(_He releases her hand and turns away._) And I'm fine and dandy. I
look a little done up, I guess, but that's only the result of too much
(Eileen, _sensing from his manner that whatever she has hoped for
from his visit is not to be, sinks back on the pillows, shutting
her eyes hopelessly, and cannot control a sigh of pain._)
MURRAY (_turning to her anxiously_). What's the matter, Eileen? You're
not in pain, are you?
EILEEN (_wearily_). No.
MURRAY. You haven't been feeling badly lately, have you? Your letters
suddenly stopped--not a line for the past three weeks--and I----
EILEEN (_bitterly_). I got tired of writing and never getting any
MURRAY (_shame-faced_). Come, Eileen, it wasn't as bad as that. You'd
think I never--and I did write, didn't I?
EILEEN. Right after you left here, you did, Stephen. Lately----
MURRAY. I'm sorry, Eileen. It wasn't that I didn't mean to--but--in New
York it's so hard. You start to do one thing and something else
interrupts you. You never seem to get any one thing done when it ought
to be. You can understand that, can't you, Eileen?
EILEEN (_sadly_). Yes. I understand everything now.
MURRAY (_offended_). What do you mean by everything? You said that so
strangely. You mean you don't believe---- (_But she remains silent with
her eyes shut. He frowns and takes to pacing up and down beside the
bed._) Why have they got you stuck out here on this isolation porch,
EILEEN (_dully_). There was no room on the main porch, I suppose.
MURRAY. You never mentioned in any of your letters----
EILEEN. It's not very cheerful to get letters full of sickness. I
wouldn't like to, I know.
MURRAY (_hurt_). That isn't fair, Eileen. You know I---- How long have
you been back in the Infirmary?
EILEEN. About a month.
MURRAY (_shocked_). A month! But you were up and about--on exercise,
weren't you--before that?
EILEEN. No. I had to stay in bed while I was at the cottage.
MURRAY. You mean--ever since that time they sent you back--the day
before I left?
MURRAY. But I thought from the cheery tone of your letters that you
EILEEN (_uneasily_). Getting better? I am, Stephen. I'm strong enough
to be up now, but Doctor Stanton wants me to take a good long rest this
time so that when I do get up again I'll be sure---- (_She breaks off
impatiently._) But don't let's talk about it. I'm all right. (Murray
_glances down at her face worriedly. She changes the subject._) You've
been over to see Doctor Stanton, haven't you?
EILEEN. Did he examine you?
MURRAY. Yes. (_Carelessly._) Oh, he found me O.K. I'm fine and dandy,
as I said before.
EILEEN. I'm glad, Stephen. (_After a pause._) Tell about yourself--what
you've been doing. You've written a lot lately, haven't you?
MURRAY (_frowning_). No. I haven't been able to get down to
it--somehow. There's so little time to yourself once you get to know
people in New York. The sale of the stories you typed put me on easy
street as far as money goes, so I've felt no need---- (_He laughs
weakly._) I guess I'm one of those who have to get down to hard pan
before they get the kick to drive them to hard work.
EILEEN (_surprised_). Was it hard work writing them up here? You used
to seem so happy just in doing them.
MURRAY. I was--happier than I've been before or afterwards.
(_Cynically._) But--I don't know--it was a new game to me then and I
was chuck full of illusions about the glory of it. (_He laughs
half-heartedly._) Now I'm hardly a bit more enthusiastic over it than I
used to be over newspaper work. It's like everything else, I guess.
When you've got it, you find you don't want it.
EILEEN (_looking at him wonderingly--disturbed_). But isn't just the
writing itself worth while?
MURRAY (_as if suddenly ashamed of himself--quickly_). Yes. Of course
it is. I'm talking like a fool. I'm sore at everything because I'm
dissatisfied with my own cussedness and laziness--and I want to pass
the buck. (_With a smile of cheerful confidence._) It's only a fit.
I'll come out of it all right and get down to brass tacks again.
EILEEN (_with an encouraging smile_). That's the way you ought to feel.
It'd be wrong--I've read the two stories that have come out so far over
and over. They're fine, I think. Every line in them sounds like you,
and at the same time sounds natural and like people and things you see
every day. Everybody thinks they're fine, Stephen.
MURRAY (_pleased, but pretending cynicism_). Then they must be rotten.
(_Then with self-assurance._) Well, I've plenty more of those stories
in my head. Every time I think of my home town there seems to be a new
story in someone I've known there. (_Spiritedly._) Oh, I'll pound them
out some time when the spirit moves; and I'll make them so much better
than what I've done so far, you won't recognise them. I feel it's in
me to do it. (_Smiling._) Darn it, do you know just talking about it
makes me feel as if I could sit right down now and start in on one.
Is it the fact I've worked here before--or is it seeing you, Eileen.
(_Gratefully._) I really believe it's you. I haven't forgotten how you
helped me before.
EILEEN (_in a tone of pain_). Don't, Stephen. I didn't do anything.
MURRAY (_eagerly_). Yes, you did. You made it possible. I can't tell
you what a help you were. And since I've left the San, I've looked
forward to your letters to boost up my spirits. When I felt down in the
mouth over my own idiocy, I used to re-read them, and they always were
good medicine. I can't tell you how grateful I've felt, honestly!
EILEEN (_faintly_). You're kind to say so, Stephen--but it was nothing,
MURRAY. And I can't tell you how I've missed those letters for the past
three weeks. They left a big hole in things. I was worried about
you--not having heard a word. (_With a smile._) So I came to look you
EILEEN (_faintly. Forcing an answering smile_). Well, you see now I'm
MURRAY (_concealing his doubt_). Yes, of course you are. Only I'd a
darn sight rather see you up and about. We could take a walk,
then--through the woods. (_A wince of pain shadows_ Eileen's _face. She
closes her eyes_. Murray _continues softly, after a pause._) You
haven't forgotten that last night--out there--Eileen?
EILEEN (_her lips trembling--trying to force a laugh_). Please don't
remind me of that, Stephen. I was so silly and so sick, too. My temp
was so high it must have made me--completely crazy--or I'd never
dreamed of doing such a stupid thing. My head must have been full of
wheels because I don't remember anything I did or said, hardly.
MURRAY (_his pride taken down a peg by this--in a hurt tone_). Oh!
Well--I haven't forgotten and I never will, Eileen. (_Then his face
clears up as if a weight had been taken off his conscience._) Well--I
rather thought you wouldn't take it seriously--afterwards. You were all
up in the air that night. And you never mentioned it in your
EILEEN (_pleadingly_). Don't talk about it! Forget it ever happened. It
makes me feel--(_with a half-hysterical laugh_)--like a fool!
MURRAY (_worried_). All right, Eileen. I won't. Don't get worked up
over nothing. That isn't resting, you know. (_Looking down at her
closed eyes--solicitously._) Perhaps all my talking has tired you out?
Do you feel done up? Why don't you try and take a nap now?
EILEEN (_dully_). Yes, I'd like to sleep.
MURRAY (_clasps her hands gently_). I'll leave you then, I'll drop back
to say good-bye and stay awhile before I go. I won't leave until the
last train. (_As she doesn't answer._) Do you hear, Eileen?
EILEEN (_weakly_). Yes. You'll come back--to say good-bye.
MURRAY. Yes. I'll be back sure.
(_He presses her hand and after a kindly glance of sympathy down
at her face, tiptoes to the door and goes into the room, shutting
the door behind him. When she hears the door shut Eileen
struggles up in bed and stretches her arms after him with an
agonised sob "Stephen!" She hides her face in her hands and sobs
brokenly._ Murray _walks across to the hall door and is about to
go out when the door is opened and_ Miss Gilpin _enters._)
MISS GILPIN (_hurriedly_). How do you do, Mr. Murray. Doctor Stanton
just told me you were here.
MURRAY (_as they shake hands--smiling_). How are you, Miss Gilpin?
MISS GILPIN. He said he'd examined you, and that you were O.K. I'm
glad. (_Glancing at him keenly._) You've been talking to Eileen?
MURRAY. Just left her this second. She wanted to sleep for a while.
MISS GILPIN (_wonderingly_). Sleep? (_Then hurriedly._) It's too bad. I
wish I'd known you were here sooner. I wanted very much to talk to you
before you saw Eileen. You see, I knew you'd pay us a visit some time.
(_With a worried smile._) I still think I ought to have a talk with
MURRAY. Certainly, Miss Gilpin.
MISS GILPIN (_takes a chair and places it near the hall door_). Sit
down. She can't hear us here. Goodness knows this is hardly the place
for confidences, but there are visitors all over and it'll have to do.
Did you close the door tightly? She mustn't hear me above all. (_She
goes to the porch door and peeps out for a moment; then comes back to
him with flashing eyes._) She's crying! What have you been saying to
her? Oh, it's too late, I know! The fools shouldn't have permitted you
to see her before I---- What has happened out there? Tell me! I must
MURRAY (_stammering_). Happened? Nothing. She's crying? Why, Miss
Gilpin--you know I wouldn't hurt her for worlds.
MISS GILPIN (_more calmly_). Intentionally. I know you wouldn't. But
something has happened. (_Then briskly._) We're talking at cross
purposes. Since you don't seem inclined to confide in me, I'll have to
in you. You noticed how badly she looks, didn't you?
MURRAY. Yes, I did.
MISS GILPIN (_gravely_). She's been going down hill
steadily--(_meaningly_)--ever since you left. She's in a very serious
state, let me impress you with that. We've all loved her, and felt so
sorry for her and admired her spirit so--that's the only reason she's
been allowed to stay here so long after her time. We've kept hoping
she'd start to pick up--in another day--in another week. But now that's
all over. Doctor Stanton has given up hope of her improving here, and
her father is unwilling to pay for her elsewhere now he knows there's a
cheaper place--the State Farm. So she's to be sent there in a day or
MURRAY (_springing to his feet--horrified_). To the State Farm!
MISS GILPIN. Her time here is long past. You know the rule--and she
isn't getting better.
MURRAY (_appalled_). That means----!
MISS GILPIN (_forcibly_). Death! That's what it means for her!
MURRAY (_stunned_). Good God, I never dreamed----
MISS GILPIN. With others it might be different. They might improve
under changed surroundings. In her case, it's certain. She'll die. And
it wouldn't do any good to keep her here, either. She'd die here.
She'll die anywhere. She'll die because lately she's given up hope, she
hasn't wanted to live any more. She's let herself go--and now it's too
MURRAY. Too late? You mean there's no chance--now? (Miss Gilpin _nods._
Murray _is overwhelmed--after a pause--stammering._) Isn't
there--anything--we can do?
MISS GILPIN (_sadly_). I don't know. I should have talked to you before
you---- You see, she's seen you now. She knows. (_As he looks mystified
she continues slowly._) I suppose you know that Eileen loves you, don't
MURRAY (_as if defending himself against an accusation--with confused
alarm_). No--Miss Gilpin. You're wrong, honestly. She may have felt
something like that--once--but that was long ago before I left the San.
She's forgotten all about it since, I know she has. (Miss Gilpin
_smiles bitterly._) Why, she never even alluded to it in any of her
letters--all these months.
MISS GILPIN. Did you in yours?
MURRAY. No, of course not. You don't understand. Why--just now--she
said that part of it had all been so silly she felt she'd acted like a
fool and didn't ever want to be reminded of it.
MISS GILPIN. She saw that you didn't love her--any more than you did in
the days before you left. Oh, I used to watch you then. I sensed what
was going on between you. I would have stopped it then out of pity for
her, if I could have, if I didn't know that any interference would only
make matters worse. And then I thought that it might be only a surface
affair--that after you were gone it would end for her. (_She
sighs--then after a pause._) You'll have to forgive me for speaking to
you so boldly on a delicate subject. But, don't you see, it's for her
sake. I love Eileen. We all do. (_Averting her eyes from his--in a low
voice._) I know how Eileen feels, Mr. Murray. Once--a long time ago--I
suffered as she is suffering--from this same mistake. But I had
resources to fall back upon that Eileen hasn't got--a family who loved
me and understood--friends--so I pulled through. But it spoiled my life
for a long time. (_Looking at him again and forcing a smile._) So I
feel that perhaps I have a right to speak for Eileen who has no one
MURRAY (_huskily--much moved_). Say anything to me you like, Miss
MISS GILPIN (_after a pause--sadly_). You don't love her--do you?
MURRAY. No--I--I don't believe I've ever thought much of loving
MISS GILPIN (_sadly_). Oh, it's too late, I'm afraid. If we had only
had this talk before you had seen her! I meant to talk to you frankly
and if I found out you didn't love Eileen--there was always the forlorn
hope that you might--I was going to tell you not to see her, for her
sake--not to let her face the truth. For I am sure she continued to
hope in spite of everything, and always would--to the end--if she
didn't see you. I was going to implore you to stay away, to write her
letters that would encourage her hope, and in that way she would never
learn the truth. I thought of writing you all this--but--it's so
delicate a matter--I didn't have the courage. (_With intense grief._)
And now Doctor Stanton's decision to send her away makes everything
doubly hard. When she knows _that_--she will throw everything that
holds her to life--out of the window! And think of it--her dying there
MURRAY (_very pale_). Don't! That shan't happen. I can at least save
her from that. I have money enough--I'll make more--to send her to any
place you think----
MISS GILPIN. That is something--but it doesn't touch the source of her
unhappiness. If there were only some way to make her happy in the
little time that is left to her! She has suffered so much through you.
Oh, Mr. Murray, can't you tell her you love her?
MURRAY (_after a pause--slowly_). But she'll never believe me, I'm
MISS GILPIN (_eagerly_). But you must make her believe! And you must
ask her to marry you. If you're engaged it will give you the right in
her eyes to take her away. You can take her to some private San.
There's a small place, but a very good one, at White Lake. It's not too
expensive, and it's a beautiful spot, out of the world, and you can
live and work near by. And she'll be happy to the very last. Don't you
think that's something--the best you have--the best you can give in
return for her love for you?
MURRAY (_slowly--deeply moved_). Yes. (_Then determinedly._) But I
won't go into this thing by halves. It isn't fair to her. I'm going to
marry her--yes, I mean it. I owe her that if it will make her happy.
But to ask her without really meaning it--knowing she--no, I can't do
MISS GILPIN (_with a sad smile_). I'm glad you feel that way. It
shouldn't be hard now for you to convince her. But I know Eileen. She
will never consent--for your sake--until she is well again. And stop
and think, Mr. Murray. Even if she did consent to marry you right now
the shock--the excitement--it would be suicide for her. I would have to
warn her against it myself; and you wouldn't propose it if you knew the
danger to her in her present condition. She hasn't long to live, at
best. I've talked with Dr. Stanton. I know. God knows I would be the
first one to hold out hope if there was any. There isn't. It's merely a
case of prolonging the short time left to her and making it happy. You
must bear that in mind--as a fact!
MURRAY (_dully_). All right. I'll remember. But it's hell to
realise---- (_He turns suddenly towards the porch door._) I'll go out
to her now while I feel--that--yes, I know I can make her believe me
MISS GILPIN. You'll tell me--later on?
MURRAY. Yes. (_He opens the door to the porch and goes out._ Miss
Gilpin _stands for a moment looking after him worriedly. Then she sighs
helplessly and goes out to the hall._ Murray _steps noiselessly out on
the porch._ Eileen _is lying motionless with her eyes closed._ Murray
_stands looking at her, his face showing the emotional stress he is
under, a great pitying tenderness in his eyes. Then he seems to come to
a revealing decision on what is best to do for he tiptoes to the
bedside and bending down with a quick movement, takes her in his arms
and kisses her._) Eileen!
EILEEN (_startled at first, resists automatically for a moment_).
Stephen! (_Then she succumbs and lies back in his arms with a happy
sigh, putting both hands to the sides of his face and staring up at him
adoringly._) Stephen, dear!
MURRAY (_quickly questioning her before she can question him_). You
were fibbing--about that night--weren't you? You do love me, don't you,
EILEEN (_breathlessly_). Yes--I--but you, Stephen--you don't love me.
(_She makes a movement as if to escape from his embrace._)
MURRAY (_genuinely moved--with tender reassurance_). Why do you suppose
I came up here if not to tell you I did? But they warned me--Miss
Gilpin--that you were still weak and that I mustn't excite you in any
way. And I--I didn't want--but I had to come back and tell you in spite
EILEEN (_convinced--with a happy laugh_). And is that why you acted so
strange--and cold? Aren't they silly to tell you that! As if being
happy could hurt me! Why, it's just that, just you I've needed!
MURRAY (_his voice trembling_). And you'll marry me, Eileen?
EILEEN (_a shadow of doubt crossing her face momentarily_). Are you
sure--you want me, Stephen?
MURRAY (_a lump in his throat--huskily_). Yes. I do want you, Eileen.
EILEEN (_happily_). Then I will--after I'm well again, of course. (_She
MURRAY (_chokingly_). That won't be long now, Eileen.
EILEEN (_joyously_). No--not long--now that I'm happy for once in my
life. I'll surprise you, Stephen, the way I'll pick up and grow fat and
healthy. You won't know me in a month. How can you ever love such a
skinny homely thing as I am now! (_With a laugh._) I couldn't if I was
a man--love such a fright.
EILEEN (_confidently_). But you'll see now. I'll make myself get well.
We won't have to wait long, dear. And can't you move up to the town
near here where you can see me every day, and you can work and I can
help you with your stories just as I used to--and I'll soon be strong
enough to do your typing again. (_She laughs._) Listen to me--talking
about helping you--as if they weren't all your own work, those blessed
stories!--as if I had anything to do with it!
MURRAY (_hoarsely_). You had! You did! They're yours. (_Trying to calm
himself._) But you mustn't stay here, Eileen. You'll let me take you
away, won't you?--to a better place--not far away--White Lake, it's
called. There's a small private sanatorium there. Doctor Stanton says
it's one of the best. And I'll live near by--it's a beautiful spot--and
see you every day.
EILEEN (_in the seventh heaven_). And did you plan out all this for
me beforehand, Stephen? (_He nods with averted eyes. She kisses his
hair._) You wonderful, kind dear! And it's a small place--this White
Lake? Then we won't have so many people around to disturb us, will
we? We'll be all to ourselves. And you ought to work so well up
there. I know New York wasn't good for you--alone--without me. And
I'll get well and strong so quick! And you say it's a beautiful
place? (_Intensely._) Oh, Stephen, any place in the world would
be beautiful to me--if you were with me! (_His face is hidden in
the pillow beside her. She is suddenly startled by a muffled
sob--anxiously._) Why--Stephen--you're--you're crying! (_The tears
start to her own eyes._)
MURRAY _(raising his face which is this time alight with a passionate
awakening--a revelation_). Oh, I do love you, Eileen. I do! I love you,
EILEEN (_thrilled by the depth of his present sincerity--but with a
teasing laugh_). Why, you say that as if you'd just made the discovery,
MURRAY. Oh, what does it matter, Eileen! I love you! Oh, what a blind,
selfish ass I've been! I love you! You are my life--everything! I love
you, Eileen! I do! I do! And we'll be married----
(_Suddenly his face grows frozen with horror as he remembers the
doom. For the first time the grey spectre of Death confronts him
face to face as a menacing reality._)
EILEEN (_terrified by the look in his eyes_). What is it, Stephen?
MURRAY (_with a groan--protesting half-aloud in a strangled voice_).
No! No! It can't be----! My God! (_He clutches her hands and hides his
face in them._)
EILEEN (_with a cry_). Stephen! What is the matter? (_Her face suddenly
betrays apprehension, an intuitive sense of the truth._) Oh--Stephen----
(_Then with a childish whimper of terror._) Oh, Stephen, I'm going to
die! I'm going to die!
MURRAY (_lifting his tortured face--wildly_). No!
EILEEN (_her voice sinking to a dead, whisper_). I'm going to die.
MURRAY (_seizing her in his arms in a passionate frenzy and pressing
his lips to hers_). No, Eileen, no, my love, no! What are you saying?
What could have made you think it? You--die? Why, of course, we're all
going to die--but--Good God! What damned nonsense! You're getting
well--every day. Everyone--Miss Gilpin--Stanton--everyone told me that.
I swear before God, Eileen, they did! You're still weak, that's all.
They said--it won't be long. You mustn't think that--not now.
EILEEN (_miserably--unconvinced_). But why did you look at me--that
way--with that awful look in your eyes----?
(_While she is speaking_ Miss Gilpin _enters the room from the
corridor. She appears worried, agitated. She hurries towards the
porch, but stops inside the doorway, arrested by_ Murray's
MURRAY (_takes_ Eileen _by the shoulders and forces her to look into
his eyes_). I wasn't thinking about you then---- No, Eileen--not you. I
didn't mean you--but me--yes, me! I couldn't tell you before. They'd
warned me--not to excite you--and I knew that would--if you loved me.
EILEEN (_staring at him with frightened amazement_). You mean
you--you're sick again?
MURRAY (_desperately striving to convince her_). Yes. I saw Stanton. I
lied to you before--about that. It's come back on me, Eileen--you see
how I look--I've let myself go. I don't know how to live without you,
don't you see? And you'll--marry me now--without waiting--and help me
to get well--you and I together--and not mind their lies--what they say
to prevent you? You'll do that, Eileen?
EILEEN. I'll do anything for you---- And I'd be so happy---- (_She
breaks down._) But, Stephen, I'm so afraid. I'm all mixed up. Oh,
Stephen, I don't know what to believe!
MISS GILPIN (_who has been listening thunderstruck to_ Murray's _wild
pleading, at last summons up the determination to interfere--steps out
on the porch--a tone of severe remonstrance_). Mr. Murray!
MURRAY (_starts to his feet with wild, bewildered eyes--confusedly_).
Oh--you---- (Miss Gilpin _cannot restrain an exclamation of dismay as
she sees his face wrung by despair._ Eileen _turns her head away with a
little cry, as if she would hide her face in the bedclothes. A sudden
fierce resolution lights up_ Murray's _countenance--hoarsely._) You're
just in the nick of time, Miss Gilpin! Eileen! Listen! You'll believe
Miss Gilpin, won't you? She knows all about it. (Eileen _turns her eyes
questioningly on the bewildered nurse._)
MISS GILPIN. What----?
MURRAY (_determinedly_). Miss Gilpin, Doctor Stanton has spoken to you
since he examined me. He must have told you the truth about me. Eileen
doesn't believe me--when I tell her I've got T.B. again. She thinks--I
don't know what. I know you're not supposed to, but can't you make an
exception--in this case? Can't you tell Eileen the truth?
MISS GILPIN (_stunned by being thus defiantly confronted--stammeringly_).
Mr. Murray! I--I--how can you ask----
MURRAY (_quickly_). Eileen has a right to know. She loves me--and
I--I--love her! (_He holds her eyes and speaks with a passion of
sincerity that compels belief._) I love her, do you hear?
MISS GILPIN (_falteringly_). You--love--Eileen?
MURRAY. Yes! I do! (_Entreatingly._) So--tell her--won't you?
MISS GILPIN (_swallowing hard, her eyes full of pity and sorrow fixed
on_ Eileen). Yes--Eileen--it's true. (_She turns away slowly towards
EILEEN (_with a little cry of alarmed concern, stretches out her hands
to_ Murray _protectingly_). Poor Stephen--dear! (_He grasps her hands
and kisses them._)
MISS GILPIN (_in a low voice_). Mr. Murray. May I speak to you for a
MURRAY (_with a look of questioning defiance at her_). Certainly.
MISS GILPIN (_turns to_ Eileen _with a forced smile_). I won't steal
him away for more than a moment, Eileen. (Eileen _smiles happily._)
MURRAY (_follows_ Miss Gilpin _into the room. She leads him to the far
end of the room near the door to the hall, after shutting the porch
door carefully behind him. He looks at her defiantly_). Well?
MISS GILPIN (_in low agitated tones_). What has happened? What is the
meaning--I feel as if I may have done a great wrong to myself--to
you--to her--by that lie. And yet--something impelled me.
MURRAY (_moved_). Don't regret it, Miss Gilpin! It has saved her--us.
Oh, how can I explain what happened? I suddenly saw--how beautiful and
sweet and good she is--how I couldn't bear the thought of life without
her--her love---- That's all. (_Determinedly._) She must marry me at
once and I will take her away--the far West--any place Stanton thinks
can help. And she can take care of me--as she thinks--and I know she
will grow well as I seem to grow well. Oh Miss Gilpin, don't you see?
No half and half measures--no promises--no conditional engagements--can
help us--help her. We love too much! (_Fiercely, as if defying her._)
But we'll win together. We can! We must! There are things your doctors
cannot value--cannot know the strength of! (_Exultantly._) You'll see!
I'll make Eileen get well, I tell you! Happiness will cure! Love is
stronger than---- (_He suddenly breaks down before the pitying negation
she cannot keep from her eyes. He sinks on a chair, shoulders bowed,
face hidden in his hands, with a groan of despair._) Oh, why did you
give me a hopeless hope?
MISS GILPIN (_putting her hand on his shoulder--with tender compassion--sadly_).
Isn't everything we know--just that--when you think of it? (_Her face
lighting up with a consoling revelation._) But there must be something
behind it--some promise of fulfilment,--somehow--somewhere--in the
spirit of hope itself.
MURRAY (_dully_). Yes--but what do words mean to me now? (_Then
suddenly starting to his feet and flinging off her hand with disdainful
strength--violently and almost insultingly._) What damned rot! I tell
you we'll win! We must! Oh, I'm a fool to waste words on you! What can
you know? Love isn't in the materia medica. Your predictions--all the
verdicts of all the doctors--what do they matter to me? This is--beyond
you! And we'll win in spite of you! (_Scornfully._) How dare you use
the word hopeless--as if it were the last! Come now, confess, damn it!
There's always hope, isn't there? What do you _know_? Can you say you
MISS GILPIN (_taken aback by his violence for a moment, finally bursts
into a laugh of helplessness which is close to tears_). I? I know
nothing--absolutely nothing! God bless you both!
(_She raises her handkerchief to her eyes and hurries out to the
corridor without turning her head._ Murray _stands looking after
her for a moment; then strides out to the porch._)
EILEEN (_turning and greeting him with a shy smile of happiness as he
comes and kneels by her bedside_). Stephen! (_He kisses her. She
strokes his hair and continues in a tone of motherly, self-forgetting
solicitude._) I'll have to look out for you, Stephen, won't I? From now
on? And see that you rest so many hours a day--and drink your milk when
I drink mine--and go to bed at nine sharp when I do--and obey
everything I tell you--and----
THE CURTAIN FALLS