Representative Plays by American Dramatists:
1856-1911: In Mizzoura
by Augustus Thomas
A PLAY IN FOUR ACTS
[Illustration: AUGUSTUS THOMAS]
(Born, St. Louis, Mo., January 8, 1859)
It is not a new thing for a dramatic author to write prefaces to his
plays. We are fortunate in possessing a series of personal opinions in
this form that constitute a valuable asset in determining individual
attitude and technical purpose. Read Schiller's opening remarks to “The
Robbers,” Victor Hugo's famous opinions affixed to “Cromwell” and his
equally enlightening comments introducing “Hernani,” and you can judge
the value autobiographically and philosophically.
The American dramatist has not been given, as a general rule, to
such self-examination; he has contented himself with supplying the
fashions of the day in the theatre, and has left to the ubiquitous
press-agent the special prerogative of whetting public curiosity as to
what manner of man he is and as to the fabric from which his play has
been cut. There has been no effort, thus far, on the part of literary
executors, in the cases, for example, of Bronson Howard or James A.
Herne, to preserve the correspondence of these men, so much of which
dealt with the circumstances surrounding them while writing or the
conditions affecting them while rehearsing. These data would be
invaluable in preserving a perspective which the modern historian of
the American theatre so wofully lacks.
All the more significant, therefore, is the edition of Mr. Augustus
Thomas's works, now being issued by Messrs. Samuel French. Thus far the
“autobiographies” of six plays have been prepared by the dramatist in a
charming, reminiscent vein. The present Editor is privileged to make
use of one, describing the evolution of “In Mizzoura,” and this
inclusion removes from him the necessity of commenting too lengthily on
that play, for fear of creating an anti-climax.
Read consecutively, the prefaces suggest Mr. Thomas's mental
equipment, his charm and distinction of personality, the variety of his
experiences which have given him a man's observation of people and of
things. The personalia are dropped in casually, here and there, not so
much for the purpose of specific biography, as to illustrate the
incentives which shaped his thought and enriched his invention as a
playwright. His purpose in writing these forewords is just a little
didactic; he addresses the novice who may be befuddled after reading
various “Techniques of the Drama,” and who looks to the established and
successful dramatist for the secrets of his workshop. These prefaces
reveal Thomas as working more with chips than with whole planks from a
virgin forest. He confesses as much, when he talks of “Mrs.
Leffingwell's Boots.” It was “salvage,” he writes, “it was the
marketing of odds and ends and remnants, utterly useless for any other
purpose.” Yet, with the technical dexterity, which is Mr. Thomas's
strongest point, he pieced a bright comedy picture together—a very
popular one, too. In the course of his remarks, he says, “When I had
the art department on the old St. Louis Republican—” “There is an
avenue of that name [Leffingwell] in St. Louis, near a hill where I
used to report railroad strikes.” Similar enlightening facts dot the
preface to “In Mizzoura,” suggesting his varied employment in the
express and railroad business. Thus, with personal odds and ends, we
can build a picture of Thomas before he started on his regular
employment as a playwright, in 1884, with “Editha's Burglar", in
conjunction with Mrs. Frances Hodgson Burnett.
There is an autobiographical comment published, written presumably
at the request of the late Hamilton Wright Mabie, which is not only
worth preserving as a matter of record, but as measuring a certain
facility in anecdote and felicity of manner which have always made
Thomas a welcome chairman of gatherings and a polished after-dinner
“After Farragut ran the New Orleans blockade,” he states, “my
father took direction of the St. Charles Theatre, New Orleans,
then owned by Ben De Bar. When he returned to St. Louis, in
1865, I was in my seventh year, and my earliest recollections
are tinged with his stories of Matilda Herron, John Wilkes
Booth, and others who played in that theatre. Father was an
orator of considerable ability, and I remember him, for the
amusement of my mother, reciting long speeches from Kotzebue,
Schiller, and Shakespeare. In his association with the theatre
he took me very early to plays, and I have always been an
attendant; consequently dialogue seemed the most natural
literary vehicle. I found later that this impression was
justified when I discovered that the most telling things
in Homer and later Greek poets and philosophy were in
dialogue—that this was true of Confucius and of Christ.
“I began writing plays when I was about fourteen years of age.
When I was sixteen and seventeen, an amateur company that I
organized played in certain railway centres on the old North
Missouri Railway, for the benefit of local unions of the
working men. In 1882, I made a dramatization of Mrs. Burnett's
'Editha's Burglar'. With this as a curtain-raiser, and a
rather slap-stick farce called 'Combustion', I made a tour of
the country with a company I organized, and with which I ran
in debt several thousand dollars. In 1889, a four-act version
of 'The Burglar', arranged by me, was played in New York, and
was successful, and since that time my royalties have enabled
me to give my attention on the business side exclusively to
“You ask why everybody who knows me is my friend? I might
answer laconically that it was because they did not know
me thoroughly, but, dismissing that defensive assumption of
modesty, and making such self-inquiry as I can, I think I
have a capacity for companionship from the fact that I was
painfully poor as a kid. My consecutive schooling stopped
when I was ten. I gave up all attempt to attend school even
irregularly, when I was thirteen. Between that age and my
twenty-second year, I worked in various sections of the
freight departments of railways. Most of the mid-day meals
of that time I took from a tin-bucket. This meal was in the
company of freight-handlers on the platform, men recruited
almost exclusively from the Irish at that time in the
middle West; or the meal was with the brakemen in the switch
shanties, these brakemen generally Americans rather near the
soil; or was with the engineers and firemen in their cabs,
or on the running-boards of boxcars with trainmen. Without
knowing it, I acquired the ability of getting the other
fellow's point of view, and, when I got old enough not to be
overwrought by sympathy that was inclined to be too partisan,
I found an immense intellectual enjoyment in watching the
interplay between temperament and environment. I think this
answers your question. I have retained a gossip's ability to
be interested in most anybody else's affairs.”
It is a strange combination—this democratic sympathy, with a later
developed French finesse of technique, so clearly felt in comparing one
of his “soil” plays, like “Alabama,” with a more finished product, like
“As a Man Thinks.” The word “robustness” has been applied to Thomas,
which recalls that when 10-cent melodrama was in flower on the American
stage, the writer of “Convict 999” was called the Augustus Thomas of
melodrama, and the inventor of “Jennie, the Sewing Machine Girl” was
regarded as the Clyde Fitch of melodrama. Thomas is as careful in
observing the small psychologies of men as Fitch ever was of women.
There is a neatness, a finish to his small scenes that hint at a depth
and largeness which he has never given rein to in any play he has thus
far written. The consequence is, when he aimed at mental effect, the
result was nearly always pompous, as when Dr. Seelig, in “As a
Man Thinks,” tries to explain the psychological matrix of the piece,
and as when Jack Brookfield, in “The Witching Hour,” explains
the basis of telepathy. But when he aimed nowhere, yet gave us living,
breathing flashes of character, as dominate “The Other Girl” and are
typified in the small role of Lew Ellinger, in “The Witching
Hour,” Thomas was happiest in his humour, most unaffected in his
inventions, most ingenious in his “tricks.” The man on the street is
his special metier, and his skill in knitting bones together
gives one the impression of an organic whole, though, on closer
examination, as in “As a Man Thinks,” the skeleton is made up of three
or four unrelated stories. Only skilful surgery on Thomas's part
carries the play to success, for we are nearly always irritated by the
degree to which he falls short of real meat in spite of all the
beautiful architectonics. He “thinks things,” declares one
critic,—“that anybody can see; and sporadically he says things; but he
does not say them connectedly and as part of some definite dramatic
Thomas's interesting prefaces suggest this limitation in him,
whether it be a psychic subject he is to handle or an historical period
he is to cover. His manner of cogitating a theme has always been in
terms of the theatre, and he is willing to curtail any part of his
theme for a “point.” His explanation, therefore, of the growth of
detail, while lacking in the high seriousness of Poe's explanation how
he conceived “The Raven,” has nevertheless the same mathematical
precision about it. In other words, Thomas plays the theatre as
Steinitz played chess, with certain recognized openings and certain
stated values to the characters. We doubt whether, if the truth were
told, many changes ever occur, once a Thomas scenario is planned. His
whole game is to capture as many of his audience as he can by strategy,
to checkmate them by any legitimate theatrical move, regardless of
tenability of subject, and in despite of truth. Hence, when he fitted
up “Arizona” in clothes to suit recent Mexican complications, and
called his play “Rio Grande,” he found he had lost the early sincerity
of “Alabama,” and his raciness was swamped in an apparent
sophistication which only added to his artificial method of conceiving
He has, therefore, played the theatrical game with love for it, with
thorough understanding of it—and though political preferment in the
Democratic Party has been offered him many times, he has thus far not
deserted the theatre. As the years advance, he does not seem to lose
any of his dexterity; on the other hand, he does not show inclination
to be stirred in his plays by the social problems of the day. When “The
Witching Hour” showed a departure into realms of subtle psychology, we
thought Thomas, as a playwright, had passed into the realm of wisdom;
but his introduction to that play reveals the fact that, once, he was
press-agent for a thought-reader. So it was the “showman” aspect of the
subject which led him to read up on auto-hypnosis. It was not so much
conviction as picturesqueness which prompted him to write, in 1890, the
one-act psychic sketch which afterwards became the longer play. His
enthusiasm was of considerable duration; it passed from one play to
another, and among his “subtle” pieces on the same theme were “The
Harvest Moon” and “As a Man Thinks.”
Apart from these—the nearest approach of Thomas to the so-called
“intellectual” drama—and apart from the racy territorial pieces like
“Alabama,” “In Mizzoura,” “Arizona,” and “Colorado,” his plays came
from a desire to suit the eccentricities of “stars,” like Lawrence
D'Orsey in “The Earl of Pawtucket” and “The Embassy
Ball”—blood-cousins in humour to Dundreary—or “On the Quiet"
for the dry unctuousness of William Collier. In these plays, his
purpose was as deep as a sheet of plate glass, as polished on the
surface, and as quick to reflect the rays of smiles.
What one may say of Augustus Thomas with truth is that by
temperament he is American; his dramas have a native atmosphere about
them. I have never read “The Capitol” or “The Hoosier Doctor,” but it
is easy to imagine his treatment of such themes. All of his work bears
the Thomas technique. He was more successful than Fitch in
dramatization; his “Colonel Carter of Cartersville,” from F. Hopkinson
Smith's novel, and his “Soldiers of Fortune,” from Richard Harding
Davis's story, were adequate stage vehicles,—whereas Fitch failed in
his handling of Mrs. Edith Wharton's “The House of Mirth” and Alfred
Henry Lewis's “Wolfville Stories.” And the reason for Thomas's success
is that he is better equipped for mosaic work in characterization, than
for large sweeps of personality. Not one of his plays contains a
dominant figure worth remembering afterwards for its distinguishing
marks. He has never painted a full portrait; he has only taken
snap-shots. His plays have been written as houses are built. More than
likely he approaches a subject as he approached “Oliver Goldsmith,” as
“largely a scissors and paste-pot undertaking.” But over it, when
finished, there is a high polish which denotes guaranteed workmanship.
That same care for finish which marks his plays marks his work with the
actors, at rehearsal, who have been selected by him with the unerring
eye of the illustrator.
It is significant that Thomas began his career as page boy in the
41st Congress; that, after his railroad experience, he studied law; and
that, after his subordinate work with the newspapers, he became editor
and proprietor of the Kansas City Mirror. Since the death of
Bronson Howard, he has been regarded as the Dean of playwrights, and
once held the presidency of the Society of American Dramatists.
Professor Brander Matthews, Mr. William Gillette, and he represent the
theatre in the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
A PLAY IN FOUR ACTS
By AUGUSTUS THOMAS
REVISED 1916 BY AUGUSTUS THOMAS
This preface is one of a number trying to show, each for its
particular play, the manner of the play's conception, whether starting
from a theme, a character, or a situation; the difficulty of the start
and the larger problems of the story's development, together with the
ways considered and chosen to answer them. It has been thought that
such accounts might be of interest, and, in some instances, perhaps,
helpful to others beginning on the same kind of work.
In the spring of 1891, Mr. Nat Goodwin was one of the most popular
and successful, as well as one of the most skilful, of American actors.
He had played lively and slight farces almost exclusively; but, having
the ability for serious work as well, he was ambitious to try it. In a
comedy by Brander Matthews and George H. Jessop, called “A Gold Mine,”
he had given one or two dramatic scenes most convincingly; and one
sentimental soliloquy with a rose in exquisite tenderness. In person he
is under the average height; and then, was slight, graceful, and
with a face capable of conveying the subtlest shades of feeling. The
forehead was ample; the eyes were large and blue, clear and steady. The
nose was mildly Roman; the hair was the colour of new hay. His voice
was rich and modulated. These points are reported because they helped
form the equipment of the “star,” who wanted a serious play in which he
should be the hero. The order was without other conditions; the play
might be of any period and of any land.
My own ignorance fixed certain limitations. At that time I had
acquaintance with no other countries than the United States and Canada.
These I knew fairly well. I had travelled them with one-night
theatrical companies; and also in newspaper assignments; and over
restricted districts I had worked in the employment of a railroad
company. I didn't care to write from books; so my Goodwin hero was to
be perforce an American. It seemed best to make him an American of
1891. Other times and places were excluded and dismissed from mind.
Now, a blond hero five feet seven inches tall and weighing under one
hundred and fifty-pounds—a Roman nose, and a steady, steel blue gaze!
I stood the Goodwin photograph on my table and looked at it until it
talked to me. The slight physique couldn't explain the solid confidence
of that look except there was behind it a gun. We were doing more man
to man shooting in the country then than now; and my Western
friendships made me more tolerant of the gun than some others were.
Goodwin and a gun sent me searching mentally over the West from
Colorado to the Coast, and through all occupations from bandit to
fighting parson; and then my potential gallery, quite apart from any
conscious effort of my own, divided itself into two kinds of
gunpackers: the authorized and the others. I concluded that there would
be less trouble, less “lost motion”—that was a phrase learned, and an
idea applied in the old-fashioned composing-room—less lost motion, in
portraying a lawful gun toter than in justifying an outlaw; and the
Goodwin part was therefore to be either a soldier or a sheriff. I have
said that he was thin, graceful—and he was, but he wasn't particularly
erect. He was especially free from any suggestion of “setting-up:"
sheriff was the way of least resistance.
My hero was a sheriff. You see how that clears the atmosphere. When
you must, or may, write for a “star,” it is a big start to have the
character agreeably and definitely chosen.
There must be love interest, of course.
A sheriff would presumably be a bit of the rough diamond;
contrast wherein “lieth love's delight” prompted a girl apparently
of a finer strain than himself; and conflict necessitated a
rival. The girl should be delicate and educated, the rival
should be attractive but unworthy; and to make him doubly opposed to
Goodwin I decided to have him an outlaw—someone whom it would be the
sheriff's duty and business—business used in the stage
Four or five years before the Goodwin contract, I had been one of
the Post-Dispatch reporters on the “Jim Cummings” express
robbery. That celebrated and picturesque case was of a man who
presented to an express messenger at the side door of his express car,
just as the train was pulling from the St. Louis station, a forged
order to carry the bearer, dead-head, to a certain distant point on the
run. The messenger helped the dead-head into his car, and chummed with
him, until about an hour later, when, as he was on his knees arranging
some of his cargo, he found a pistol muzzle against his cheek, and his
smiling visitor prepared to bind and gag him. Having done this, the
stranger packed one hundred and twenty thousand dollars into a valise;
and dropped off into the dark, when the train made its accustomed stop
at a water-tank. The whole enterprise was so gentle, that the messenger
was arrested and held as an accomplice, while the Pinkertons looked for
the man with the money.
The robber was a kind-hearted person; and, being really grieved over
the detention of an innocent man, wrote several exculpating letters to
the papers, enclosing rifled express envelopes to prove his peripatetic
identity. These letters were signed “Jim Cummings,” a nom de guerre
borrowed from an older and an abler offender of the Jesse James
After he was arrested and in his cell in the St. Louis jail, “Jim
Cummings” and I became friends, as criminals and newspaper men
sometimes do, and as criminals and I always have done, everywhere, most
easily. The details of his arrangements, both before and after his
draft on the company, were minutely in my mind, and were so very vital
that, with the first need for a drama criminal, I took him. Goodwin's
rival should be Jim Cummings; a glorified and beautiful and matinee
Cummings, but substantially he.
This adoption rescued the girl and the sheriff from the hazy
geography of the mining camps, and fixed the trio in Missouri.
After Cummings had dropped from the express car, he had walked some
fifteen miles to the Missouri River, near St. Charles, and had then
gone north on a train through Pike County. I had more than once made
the same trip on freight trains; and I had a liking for the county as
the home district of Champ Clark, a politico-newspaper comrade of
several legislative sessions and conventions. Newspaper experience in
those days, before the “flimsy” and the “rewrite,” emphasized the value
of going to the place in order to report the occurrence; and I knew
that, aside from these three characters and their official and
sentimental relationships, the rest of my people and my play were
waiting for me in Bowling Green.
In those days, Mrs. Thomas and I used to hold hands on our evening
promenades; but I think it was really our foolish New York clothes that
made the blacksmith smile. At any rate, we stopped at his door and
talked with him. He knew Champ Clark and Dave Ball—another Missouri
statesman—and had the keenest interest in the coming convention for
the legislative nomination. It was fine to hear him pronounce the state
name, Mizzoura, as it was originally spelt on many territorial
charts, and as we were permitted to call it in the public schools until
we reached the grades where imported culture ruled. The blacksmith's
helper, who was finishing a wagon shaft with a draw knife, was younger
and less intelligent, and preferred to talk to Mrs. Thomas. It is
distracting to listen at the same time to three persons; but I learned
that “You kin make anything that's made out o' wood with a draw knife;"
and over the bench was the frame for an upholstered chair. A driver
brought in a two-horse, side seated, depot wagon on three wheels and a
fence rail. The fourth wheel and its broken tire were in the wagon; and
the blacksmith said he'd weld the tire at five-thirty the next morning.
We went without breakfast to see him do it. He was my heroine's
father by that time; a candidate for the legislature; and I was
devising for him a second comedy daughter, to play opposite to the boy
with a draw knife. That day I also found the drug-store window and the
“lickerish” boxes that Cummings should break through in his attempted
escape; and I recovered the niggers, the “dog fannell,” the linen
dusters, and the paper collars which, in my recent prosperity, I'd
forgotten. I also nominated Goodwin for the legislature, which
increased his importance, and gave him something to sacrifice for the
girl's father. But it was all so poverty-stricken, as I glimpsed it
through the blacksmith shop and the little house I'd chosen for its
consort. I yearned for some money; not much, but enough to afford “a
hired girl,” and for some means of bringing the money into the story.
When we left Bowling Green, I had given Goodwin a substantial reward
for the robber's capture; but he wouldn't accept it. That was a mere
dramatist's device; and my quiet sheriff was already above it; besides,
he wasn't sure that he'd hold the fellow. His wish to please the girl
was already debating the matter with his duty.
On the way back to St. Louis, the conductor, who took our tickets,
recognized me. Charlie Church had been a freight brake-man when I was
in the St. Louis yards. He was proud of his advancement to a passenger
conductorship—proud of his train—proud of the new Wabash road-bed on
the single track line. This road-bed was made of macadam-looking metal,
clean and red as the painted bricks in the local Dutch women's gardens,
and hard as flint. When we gave the right-of-way, and ran in on a
siding, Church brought us up a few pieces to the back platform; and
with one of them scratched my initials on the glass window. “What was
it, iron ore?—no, that mud that the river leaves when it
rises—'Gumbo' the people call it. Some fellow found by accident that
it became red flint when fired, and was making a fortune selling it to
the railroad.” To burn it, he used the slack coal from the Jonesburg
mines nearby, which until then had also been waste. I put a handful of
the stuff in my pocket; and, after the conductor left us, I turned the
whole enterprise over to the Goodwin part. When the play ended, the
audience should feel sure that he and Kate need never want for a
dollar. I knew also where he had accidentally burnt his first sample,
and made his discovery; in the blacksmith shop.
But what accident brought the raw gumbo there? Perhaps the wheels of
the stage-coach; but that wasn't definitely Goodwin. The soft gumbo is
not unlike putty; it would make a fair cushion for a broken limb: but I
didn't want to halt my story with anybody crippled to that extent; and
then I remembered the yellow dog drinking from the blacksmith's tub. I
broke his leg and had Goodwin carry him miles in the stage, with
his poor paw in a poultice of gumbo. It was a counter-pointing touch to
a sheriff with two guns; it gave him an effective entrance; and it
coupled in a continuous train, the sheriff, the bad man who sneered at
it, the blacksmith and his motherly wife who sympathized and helped in
a better dressing, the forge where a piece of the discarded gumbo
should fall amongst the coke, the helper who should pump the bellows
for another and verifying bake: and last, and best of all, it gave me a
“curtain” for a second act; when, perturbed and adrift after being
temporarily rejected by the girl, Goodwin should turn in an undefined
but natural sympathy to the crippled dog in his box under the helper's
That illustrates one of the dramatist's discovered rules: “If you
use a property once use it again and again if you can.” It is a
visual thing that binds together your stuff of speech like a dowel
in a mission table.
There are few better places than a railroad train for building
stories; the rhythmic click of the wheels past the fish-plates makes
your thoughts march as a drum urges a column of soldiers. A tentative
layout of the story established in the first act, the educated Kate,
discontented in her blacksmith father's surroundings; the flash
fascination of our transient robber; the robber's distinct lead over
Goodwin's accustomed and older blandishments. The second act saw
Goodwin turned down and the robber preferred. The third act should see
the robber's apprehension and arrest. I milled around the question of
his identification as Illinois and Indiana went past the Pullman
window; and then the one sure and unfailing witness for that purpose
volunteered—the express messenger himself. There was no reason why
this young man shouldn't be a native of Bowling Green, and come home
from St. Louis at the end of certain runs. He would know Goodwin and
the blacksmith's family; but, to put him nearer to them, more “into the
story” sentimentally, I gave Goodwin a little sister, and made the
messenger her accepted lover, with his arrest and detention postponing
the wedding. This need to free his sister's fiance gave the sheriff
hero a third reason for getting the real robber; the other two being
his official duty and the rivalry for Kate. The messenger and the
sheriff's sister, the helper and the comedy daughter, and Goodwin and
Kate, made three pairs of young lovers. This number might easily lead
to a disastrous diffusion of interest unless the playwright were
careful always to make the work of each couple, even when apparently
about their own personal affairs, really to the forward trend of the
I doubt if the production of novels, even to the writer
temperamentally disposed to that form of expression, is as absorbing as
play-making. The difference between the novel and the play is the
difference between was and is. Something has happened
for the writer of the novel and for his people. He describes it as it
was; and them as they were. In the play something is happening.
Its form is controversial—and the playwright, by force of this
controversy, is in turn each one of his characters, and not merely a
witness of their doings. When they begin to take hold of him, their
possession is more and more insistent—all interests in real life
become more and more secondary and remote until the questions in
dispute are not only decided, but there is also a written record of the
debates and the decision.
By the time our train pulled into New York, I was impatient to make
a running transcript of speeches of my contending people. But that is a
relief that must be deferred. Like over-anxious litigants, the
characters are disposed to talk too much, and must be controlled and
kept in bounds by a proportioned scenario, assigning order, and
respective and progressive values to them. That was the work of a day
by that time, and then, with the material gathered, and the intimacy
with the people and the places, the play was one that wrote itself.
[Footnote 1: The Witching Hour; Mrs. Leffingwell's Boots; The Earl
of Pawtucket; The Harvest Moon; Oliver Goldsmith [Published by Samuel
[Footnote 2: Written before the death of Mr. Goodwin.]
R.M. HOOLEY Proprietor and Manager.
HARRY J. POWERS Business Manager.
* * * * *
COMMENCING MONDAY EVENING. AUGUST 7th, 1893.
Every Evening and Saturday (Only) Matinee
MR. NAT C GOODWIN
AND COMPANION PLAYERS
Under the direction of Mr. Geo. J. Appleton, will produce for the
first time on any stage, a drama of character, entitled
By MR. AUGUSTUS THOMAS, author of “Alabama,” etc.
* * * * *
SYNOPSIS OF SCENERY.
ACT I.—Living room of Jo Vernon's house. Bowling Green, Pike
County, Missouri. Time—Evening in June.
ACT II.—Blacksmith shop of Jo Vernon adjoining his residence.
Time—Morning of the second day.
ACT III.—Living room of Jo Vernon. Time—Evening of the second day.
ACT IV.—Home and door yard of Jim Radburn. Time—The next Morning.
* * * * *
The scenery painted from sketches made of the exact locality, by
Albert and Burridge.
* * * * *
Music at rise of curtain. The old “Forty-nine” tune,
“My name is Joe Bowers.”
SCENE: Pike Co., dining-room, living-room and kitchen
combined. A line of broken plaster and unmatched wall-papers marks the
ceiling and back flat a little left of center. Doors right and left in
3. Door in right flat. Old-fashioned table. Dresser, low window with
many panes, window-sash sliding horizontally—outside of door is pan of
leaves burning to smoke off mosquitoes.
DISCOVERED: MRS. VERNON and LIZBETH. MRS. VERNON
ironing; LIZBETH at pan of fire.
MRS. VERNON. Lizbeth!
MRS. VERNON. Move that pan a little furder off. The smoke's a
durnation sight worse'n the skeeters.
LIZBETH. [Rising and coming in.] Well, we couldn't
sleep fur 'em last night, and it's just as well to smoke 'em good.
MRS. VERNON. But such an all fired smell—what're you
LIZBETH. Dog fannel—
MRS. VERNON. I thought so. It's nearly turned my
stomich—come, hurry with this ironin' now.
LIZBETH. [Coming down right of table.] Let's leave it
till mornin', ma—
MRS. VERNON. Can't, Lizbeth, it's bin put off since
Wednesday, an' the furst thing we know we'll be havin' it to do
Sunday—get me another iron. [LIZBETH goes left.] I'm reg'lar
LIZBETH. Me too. [Sound of sledge hammer from door left.
MRS. VERNON sits on rocker and fans herself with frayed-out
MRS. VERNON. Lor'—to think o' this weather in June. It's
Enter KATE. She is neatly gowned and is of a
MRS. VERNON. Well, Kate?
KATE. Must we have this awful odour again to-night?
MRS. VERNON. Got to have somethin', Kate, to drive off the
skeeters. [Enter LIZBETH.] I ain't slep' none for two nights.
KATE. They might be kept out some other way. [She sits in
MRS. VERNON. [Taking the fresh iron and resuming work.
] I ruined my best pillar-slips an' nearly smothered myself with coal
oil last night. I'll try my own way now. It's all very well fur you,
Kate, whose got the only muskeeter bar in the family—
LIZBETH. [In the rocker.] Yes, and won't let your
sister sleep with you—
KATE. I'll gladly give you the mosquito bar, Lizbeth, but two
grown-up people can't sleep in a narrow single bed.
LIZBETH. I hope you don't s'pose I'd take it.
KATE. I gave you one to make the window frames.
MRS. VERNON. Well, kin the poor girl help that, Kate? Didn't
the dogs jump through 'em? [She indicates the ragged netting on the
KATE. Why do you have the dogs about?
MRS. VERNON. Well, when you've lived as long as I have in
Pike County, you'll know you got to have dogs if you leave your winders
open. There—I've ironed another pearl button in two—yes, an' it's
pulled a piece right out o' one o' yer pa's bosoms. That's 'cause I'm
so tired, I can't see. Lizbeth, where's them prescriptions?
LIZBETH. In the yeast-powder box.
MRS. VERNON. Well, get one for me. [LIZBETH gets box from
over the stove.] I can't go on with this ironin' without some beer.
LIZBETH. Who'll go for it?
MRS. VERNON. Ask Dave—
LIZBETH. [At door. Calls.] Dave!
DAVE. [Off.] Yes, Lizbeth.
LIZBETH. Ma wants you to—
MRS. VERNON. Now, don't yawp it out to the whole
neighbourhood, Lizbeth—tell Dave to come here.
LIZBETH. [In a lower tone.] Come here!
MRS. VERNON. Give me the prescription. [LIZBETH arranges
the linen in the basket. Enter DAVE.] Dave, the ironin' an' the
heat an' everything jes' about floored me—won't you go to the
drug-store with this prescription, an' get me a quart bottle of St.
DAVE. [Taking the prescription.] Certainly.
MRS. VERNON. I can't send the girls after dark.
DAVE. Oh, that's all right. [Exits to street.
MRS. VERNON. [Ironing again.] If your pa ever does get
into the Legislature, I hope he'll defeat this blamed local auction
business. It's all well enough for those Salvation women who ain't got
a thing to do but pound tambourines, but if they had the washin', and
ironin', an' cookin' to do for a fambly of six—an' three dogs—they'd
need something to keep body an' soul together.
KATE. [Going to street door.] How much longer shall
you iron to-night?
MRS. VERNON. Why? Do you want the room?
KATE. Oh, no—but—
LIZBETH. Is Travers coming to-night, Kate? [Sits in rocker.
KATE. I don't know who may come.
MRS. VERNON. What difference does it make who does come?
KATE. None, except that the room is filled with smoke and—is
MRS. VERNON. Well, to my mind, Travers may as well get
himself used to places that are hot and filled with smoke—fur if he
ain't one of Old Nick's own ones, I never see any—
KATE. Mother!! Mr. Travers is a gentleman!
MRS. VERNON. How do you know? Four years to a female seminary
don't make you a better judge of gentlemen than us who stay to home
here. Your pa's a gentleman if he is a wheelwright—so is Jim Radburn—
LIZBETH. And Dave—
MRS. VERNON. Yes, and Dave—
KATE. But none of them is like Mr. Travers.
MRS. VERNON. No, thank God they ain't. Travers, Kate—[
Pause] Travers—[Pause] and, mind you, I've seen men before
you was born—Travers is as much like a gambler as any I ever saw.
KATE. [Coming down.] Look here, mother—I've heard you
say you had to run away from home with father because your people
didn't like him—but that didn't make him any worse, did it?
MRS. VERNON. Well, it didn't make him any better, Kate, and
I've regretted it from the bottom of my heart a hundred times—I want
you to understand—[Looks uneasily at door.] I've told it to him
often enough—[Lowering voice.] And if he was here I'd tell him
again now—that I could ha' married a doctor.
LIZBETH. You're not calculatin' to run away with Travers, are
KATE. You know I'm not, Lizbeth—but I think you and mother
might be a little more considerate in what you say. I try to make the
place tidy and nice for your evenings with Dave, don't I?
LIZBETH. Well, I didn't mean nothin', Kate.
KATE. And I do my share of the housework. [Goes to window.
As her voice trembles, MRS. VERNON signals silence to
MRS. VERNON. Of course you do, dear. Lizbeth, you oughtn't to
be so thoughtless in what you say.
Enter DAVE with beer.
DAVE. Here you are, Mrs. Vernon.
MRS. VERNON. Thank you, Dave—ask that old man in there if
he'll have a glass.
DAVE. Yes'm. [Exit to shop.
MRS. VERNON. We'll clear the place right up, Kate—don't feel
bad about it.
KATE. You needn't, mother—if Mr. Travers calls, we can go
walking. [Goes to door.
MRS. VERNON. No, Kate, and I say it only fur your sake—I
wouldn't have the people of Bowling Green see you trapsing the streets
at night with a man you ain't knowed but a month, fur nothin'.
Enter JOE VERNON. JOE is a six-footer, with full
beard. He wears a leather apron and has his sleeves rolled up.
JOE. Dave says, ma, that—
MRS. VERNON. Yes, here it is. [Hands glass of beer.]
Nearly dead, Joe?
JOE. [Smiling.] Oh, no—but I kin stand this.
KATE. Is there any objection to our spending the evening at
MRS. VERNON. Now, what's the attraction there?
KATE. She has a piano.
MRS. VERNON. Yes, with two teeth broke out of it. Why don't
you ever play on the melodeon? [Pointing to it.
JOE. Yes, after Jim givin' it to you.
MRS. VERNON. [Clearing up the ironing.] I wouldn't
treat a dog the way you treat Jim Radburn, Kate.
KATE silent at doorway.
JOE. [At the wash-basin on the bench at back wall.]
Ma, where's the soap?
MRS. VERNON. I must a-left it in the dish-pan.
JOE gets it and begins washing in tin basin.
JOE. [Calling through sputter.] Dave!
DAVE. [Off.] Yes, sir.
JOE. [At door of shop.] Might as well shut up.
DAVE. All right.
BOLLINGER. [Outside to the left.] Good-evening, Katie.
KATE. Good-evening, Colonel.
BOLLINGER. Rain seems to let up. Where's pa? [Appears
JOE. [Looking up from the basin.] Hello, Tom.
BOLLINGER. Evening, Joe—Mrs. Vernon—Hello, Lizbeth.
LIZBETH. [Again in the rocker.] Hello, Colonel.
BOLLINGER. Jis' through?
JOE. Been puttin' in a little overtime.
BOLLINGER. Reckon you'll have another job.
JOE. How's that?
BOLLINGER. Louisiana stage bust a tire on the near fore-wheel
JOE. That's so? Look out—jus' a minute. [BOLLINGER steps
aside; JOE throws water out of the window.] There, ma—don't
say I lost it now. [Throws soap back into dish-pan.] How'd she
come to do that?
BOLLINGER. Too big a load, I guess—then the rain's cut up
the road so, and she were stuck in a rut, an' all of 'em pryin' at her
JOE. Somethin' had to come.
MRS. VERNON. [Sits at table and fans.] Won't you come
BOLLINGER. No, thank you. Too hot. Down to Louisiana on
business—sweat clean through two paper collars. This'n's getting mealy. [He wipes his neck.
JOE. 'J-ever see such weather. [Punches LIZBETH to
get out of rocker; sits in her place. LIZBETH goes to the
BOLLINGER. Not since I was born. I hope the blamed rain's
over. All passenger trains holdin' down to eight mile an hour 'tween St. Charles and Jonesburg on the Wabash on 'count of the wash-outs.
JOE. Why don't they ballast that air track?
BOLLINGER. Too stingy, I reckon. Say, Joe, if you git through
the convention, and they send you up to Jeff City, you'll have to jump
on the corporations.
JOE. Well, how do things look for the convention?
BOLLINGER. Well, down Louisiana way looks about six and half
a dozen. You wouldn't have any trouble at all, if we could get Radburn
out o' the race.
JOE. Well, I ain't got no right to ask him to do that.
KATE. [From the doorway.] Do you mean, Colonel, that
Mr. Radburn's following will be a serious opposition to father's
BOLLINGER. Well, it looks that way, Kate.
KATE. Is there a chance of Mr. Radburn's getting the
BOLLINGER. Yes, I should say it was a stand-off atween him
an' the Guv'nor, but I'm a-rootin' for your pa.
MRS. VERNON. Well, I can't see what right Jim Radburn has got
to be as strong with the Democracy as Joe Vernon. [Crosses to
JOE. You can't say nothin' against Jim, ma.
MRS. VERNON. I ain't. I'm just askin'.
BOLLINGER. Well, you see Jim's bein' sheriff four terms, an'
never shootin' anybody—
MRS. VERNON. Why, he's shot fifty!
BOLLINGER. Well, I meant never killin' nobody, has naturally
endeared him to the peaceable element in the community. Jim has always
said, and stuck to it, that a sheriff who couldn't wing a prisoner
without killin' him, was a nuisance—and you take his record, and go
clean through it, you'll find out this one thing. If a man was runnin',
Jim fetched him in the leg. If he pulled a gun on him, Jim smashed that
hand. And he says, “You ain't got a right to kill another man, unless
that man draws two guns at the same time.”
JOE. Yes, I reckon Jim's the gamest we ever had.
BOLLINGER. He came up on the stage to-night from Louisiana.
JOE. Was he “'lectioneering” down there?
BOLLINGER. No, I ain't heerd of him makin' no canvass. He was
helpin' me to collect testimony.
MRS. VERNON. Testimony? What fur?
BOLLINGER. Sam Fowler. You know that Express Co. is holdin'
him prisoner yet?
JOE. Thought you was goin' to get a habus corpus?
BOLLINGER. Well, I was; only I went to St. Louis yesterday to
see Sam. He's all right. They've got 'im in a comfortable room at the
Southern Hotel, an' they are tryin' to make him confess that he stood
in with the express robber. He's livin' on the fat of the land, so I
told him to stick it out as long as the company did, 'cause the longer
they hold him, the more damages we'll get for false imprisonment. So
Jim Radburn an' me been fillin' in the time, gettin' witnesses to his
MRS. VERNON. What's Radburn got to do with it?
BOLLINGER. Well, you know—on account o' Emily.
MRS. VERNON. Oh, yes! I reckon that'll put off their weddin',
BOLLINGER. I'm tryin' to fix it that way, so's to pile up the
KATE. [Quickly.] Ma!
MRS. VERNON. What is it, Kate?
MRS. VERNON. Company?
MRS. VERNON. Here, Lizbeth, take hold this basket They
carry out basket.
KATE. Good-evening, Mr. Travers.
TRAVERS appears at door.
TRAVERS. Good-evening, Miss Vernon—good-evening, Colonel.
TRAVERS. The rain seems to be over at last. [He fans
himself with his hat.
BOLLINGER. I reckon we'll have some more of it with that ring
around the moon.
TRAVERS. [Coming into doorway.] Anything new about the
express robber?—Good-evening, Mr. Vernon.
JOE. [Up to stove; tries bottle.] How are you?
BOLLINGER. I ain't heard anything 'cept what's in the morning
TRAVERS. What was that? I didn't see them.
BOLLINGER. Why, the blamed cuss has mailed one of the empty
money-wrappers to the Globe-Democrat to show he's the real
robber, and sent a letter sayin' Sam Fowler was innocent.
TRAVERS. Yes? Well, did that do any good?
BOLLINGER. On the contrary, sir, the express company says he
wouldn't be so anxious about Sam—if Sam weren't a friend of his'n.
Re-enter MRS. VERNON and LIZBETH. LIZBETH to
MRS. VERNON. [Pleasantly.] Good-evening, Mr. Travers.
TRAVERS. Good-evening, Mrs. Vernon—Miss Elizabeth.
MRS. VERNON. Hasn't Kate had the politeness to ask you in?
TRAVERS. Well, it's a little cooler out here.
KATE. Won't you come in?
MRS. VERNON. Do come—the skeeters'll kill you out there.
JOE. Don't sit there. I just splashed some water there, an'
it'ud spot them pants scandalous. [Down to melodeon.
MRS. VERNON. Lizbeth, give Mr. Travers the rocker.
LIZBETH to bench.
TRAVERS. Oh, no, I beg of you.
MRS. VERNON. Yes, it's the most comfortable. [Places the
rocker for him.] Vernon there had to put his feet through it
yesterday, fixin' the stove pipe, and they ain't been no furniture man
along to mend it, though he ginerally comes Fridays.
TRAVERS. Thank you. [Sits; KATE to chair at table;
MRS. VERNON to cupboard, busy.
JIM. [Off.] Hello, Bollinger, can't I shake you?
BOLLINGER. Well, looks like you was doin' the followin'—ha,
JOE. Is that Jim?
BOLLINGER. Yes—comin' here—[Calls.] You ain't got
that cripple with you yit?
JIM. Yes—where do you think I'd leave him?
Enter JIM RADBURN from right to door, with small yellow
dog in his arms. One front paw is tied up.
JOE. Hello, Jim, what's that you got there?
JIM. Er—a—his leg's broke.
JOE. [Laughing.] Didn't pull a gun on you, did he?
JIM. The blamed fool dropped a fence-rail on him.
KATE. Good-evening, Jim.
MRS. VERNON. 'Tain't one o' Beauty's pups, is it?
JIM. No, 'tain't no dog o' mine. Jes' follered me—run after
the stage—then, when she was stuck in the mud, Bill Sarber dropped a
rail he was prying with, and—broke his poor little leg.
BOLLINGER. Sarber's the awkwardest cuss anyhow.
MRS. VERNON. Always was.
BOLLINGER. Then he laffed, and Jim made him 'pologize to
everybody in the stage.
JIM. [Looking about.] What you been doin' to the room?
JOE. [Proudly.] Took out the partition.
JIM. I see. Makin' some improvements. Looks bully, don't it?
JOE. Makes the dinin'-room bigger, an' gives more space in
the kitchen. Saves steps for ma.
MRS. VERNON. [Approaching dog.] What kind of a
poultice's that? Flaxseed?
MRS. VERNON. Gumbo?
BOLLINGER. That's what they call that soft mud the river
leaves down there when it rises—gumbo.
JIM. It's only a cushion so the joltin' wouldn't hurt him. I
just been with him to Clark's drug-store. [To front.] Clark said
he wasn't a dog doctor.
JOE. Wouldn't 'tend to him, eh?
JIM. No—but I'll square it with him. He's up for coroner.
[Starts for shop—stops.] I told him that a man what'd
see a little dumb animal suffer ought to be drummed out of town. Is
JIM. Well, we'll splinter this leg ourselves. [Going.
TRAVERS. Why don't you kill him, and put him out of misery?
JIM. [Pause in door.] Kill this little dog that took a
fancy to me, and followed the stage when I got in it!
TRAVERS. Yes—why not?
JIM. [After appealing look to the others; then back to
TRAVERS.] Why, I never killed a man. [Exit into shop; JOE, MRS.
VERNON, LIZBETH, follow laughing.
TRAVERS. [Going to table.] What did he say?
KATE. That he never killed a man.
TRAVERS. Well, neither have I. Is that an unusual reputation
in Pike County?
KATE. It is for one who, like Mr. Radburn, carries seven
bullets in his own' body, fired there by men he was arresting.
TRAVERS. I've heard he was very fond of you.
KATE. [Turning away.] Don't talk of that.
TRAVERS. May I talk of my love for you?
KATE. [Turning.] Yes.
TRAVERS. You are not happy here.
KATE. I feel it is unworthy in me to say that I am not.
TRAVERS. Yet, you are not—
KATE. The narrowness of the life oppresses me. I do not live
in their world of work and humble wishes—they made the mistake of
sending me away to school. I have seen a bigger world than theirs. [
Turns, elbows on table; impulsively.] I like you, Mr. Travers,
because you are a part of that bigger world.
TRAVERS. You like me, Kate! Only like? No more?
KATE. I don't know.
TRAVERS. Will you go with me—away from here, into that
KATE. Not until I am sure it is you for whom I go, and not
merely for the liberty.
TRAVERS. How will you ever tell?
KATE. Some accident will teach me. It is a dreadful moment,
isn't it, when we learn that kinship, the truest kinship, is not a
thing of blood, but of ideas—my college mates, who thought as I did,
were nearer to me than my family, who never can think as I do.
Enter MRS. VERNON.
MRS. VERNON. I never see such a hero as that little dog—he
jis' seemed to know they was helpin' him when they pulled them poor
bones together—jes' look how quiet he stands—whinnered a little, but
didn't holler 'tall. [TRAVERS goes up to door.
KATE. [Aside.] That is enough to make the man despise
me! [Goes back to table.
TRAVERS. [Going up.] Oh, yes—he knows he's among
MRS. VERNON. [Looking into shop.] Now I say they's
lots of folks of education what ain't got as much sense as that dog.
TRAVERS comes down.
KATE. Let us go walking. I can't breathe in here.
TRAVERS. With pleasure.
MRS. VERNON. Where you goin', Kate?
KATE. Only outside the door—[At door.] to the corner.
MRS. VERNON. [Doubtingly.] Well—[Going centre.
Exeunt, TRAVERS and KATE—positively.] Well, I don't
care who hears me—[Looks cautiously out.] I don't like his
MRS. VERNON. What?
JOE. Ain't you got some soup-meat or sompthin' you kin spare
that little ki-yoodle?
MRS. VERNON. Well, if his leg's broke, he better not have no
meat or stuff that'd feed a fever. If yew kin drink your second cup in
the mornin' without milk, I kin spare him some o' that.
JOE. All right.
MRS. VERNON. [Scolding.] An' the milk's hangin' in the
cistern. [Takes cup from back wall.] Plague take it! Woman's
work's never done. [Exit.
JOE. [After a moment.] I s'pose I could a got it. [
LIZBETH. [Off.] Yes. [Enters.
JOE. [Scolding.] Why don't you help your poor ma?
She's had to go after the milk.
LIZBETH. [Angrily meeting JOE'S tone.] Well, I
didn't know it. [Exit after MRS. VERNON.
JOE. [Getting alarm-clock. Calls into shop.] Dave!
DAVE. [Off.] Yes.
JOE. [At door.] You don't need him, Jim?
JIM. [Off.] No.
JOE. [Leaving door.] See here—[Enter DAVE.]
Kin you run one o' these machines?
DAVE. I allow I kin.
JOE. [Hands clock to DAVE.] Then set her an hour
earlier, and have things fired up in the mornin'. We've got to weld
that Louisiana tire, I reckon, afore breakfast.
DAVE. All right.
Enter MRS. VERNON and LIZBETH.
MRS. VERNON. Here, Joe—[Hands cup.] Git to feedin' it. I'll git attached to it, an' we've got too many dogs now.
JOE. [Caressing her with rough push on the face.] I
know you, ma—you're the motherin'est old hen in Pike—[Going.]
If he don't drink this I'll drowned him.
MRS. VERNON. [To street door.] Now, Lizbeth, I don't
see nothin' of Kate. She's out there with Travers—you an' Dave kind o'
hang round like you was with 'em.
LIZBETH. Come, Dave. [To MRS. VERNON.] Jes' not let
MRS. VERNON. Yes—purtendin'.
DAVE. All right. [Exit after LIZBETH.
JOE. [Entering door.] Jes' look at him, ma—he's got
his eyebrows in it.
MRS. VERNON. [At door; leans on JOE'S shoulder.] The darlin'—jes' to think, Joe, if one of our children was
JOE. [With unction.] You bet.
MRS. VERNON. [Earnestly calls.] Don't let him splash
it on you, Jim—'t'll spot your clothes.
JOE. [Pauses admiringly.] Jim don't care a durn.
MRS. VERNON. There, I'll fix his bed. [Getting coats from
peg, back wall.] What's a man know, anyhow? [Exit to shop.
JOE. [Gets tobacco from shelf.] She'll fix him all
JIM. [Entering, looking back.] Say, Joe, women are
great, ain't they? [Stands admiringly in doorway.
JOE. [Slowly coming down, filling pipe.] Jim! [
Pause. JIM doesn't answer, only looks at JOE.] You an' me—[
Turns quickly and looks at JIM.] You an' me are goin' into the
convention together? [JIM nods once, and chews slowly.] Agin
each other. [JIM nods and chews. Pause.] Smoke? [Offers pipe.
JIM. [Takes cud from mouth; hesitates—returns it.]
JOE. Set down. [They sit. JIM left of table
—JOE to the right in rocker.] There's somethin' I want to say to
you jes' between ourselves.
Enter MRS. VERNON.
MRS. VERNON. [Comes back of table between the men.] I
reckon he's comfortable.
JOE. Jim an' me's talkin' a minute, ma.
MRS. VERNON. [Reassuredly.] Well, I got my work. [
JOE. Jim—[JIM looks at him.] I been a figurin' an'
I've calculated they's a difference of about $600 'tween you an' me.
JIM. [Placidly.] How?
JOE. [Rising, and closing door. Returns.] When my Kate
got through the public school, you said she ought to go to college.
[JIM nods.] I didn't think so—I admit now I was a durn fool.
[JIM nods.] You said she had to go—an' she went—to Linenwood.
[JIM chews.] When she come back she taught me everything I
know—I don't think I could go afore this convention if it wasn't for
what Kate's learned me—Jim, I'm ashamed to say so, but I let you pay
her schoolin'—I've figured out it's a round six hundred dollars—an'
I'm goin' to pay you every—
JIM. [Impressively points at him with his whole hand.]
See here— [After a fateful pause, rises.] Don't you ever say
that to me agen. [Turns away.
JOE. [Half-rising, anxiously.] Why, Jim?
JIM. [Turning. Threatens.] Never.
JOE. Tain't nothin' to make trouble 'tween us, Jim.
JIM. [Pauses—growls slowly.] Whatever I done—was
done—have you ever said a word to her about it?
JOE. Nobody knows it, Jim, but you an' me.
JIM. Man to man?
JOE. Man to man.
JIM. [Slightly relieved.] Well, I done it fur her—an'
whenever I hear her purty voice—soft an' low like verses out of a
book—whenever I look at her face—purtier than them pictures they put
in the cigar-boxes—and her hands soft and baby-like—I feel 'way down
here that I helped do some of that. An' do you think, Joe Vernon, that
I'd sell out? No, sir, not by a damned sight!
JOE. But look here, Jim, think of me. We're going in that
convention together—agin each other—for the same office, and if you
was to tell—
JIM. [Sharp turn.] Tell! Don't move—but jus'
draw breath enough to take that back.
JOE. [Putting out his hand.] Jim!
JIM. [Pause.] Why, if anybody'd said you could a
thought them things!
JOE. [Pleadingly.] Jim!
JIM. [Long pause.] Well, there—[Takes JOE'S
Enter MRS. VERNON.
MRS. VERNON. [Nervously.] Joe, I've a notion to holler
to Kate to run home. I don't like her walkin' with that man.
JOE. What man?
MRS. VERNON. Why, Travers. I don't know what Kate sees in him. [Returns to door.
JIM. [Comfortingly.] Well, he's a city chap, and
Kate's so smart about them things. Joe, how old is Kate?
JOE. Twenty, ain't she, ma?
MRS. VERNON. [In street door.] Lor, no—we ain't been
married but nineteen.
JOE. Seems longer'n that to me.
JIM looks at him, crossing to melodeon, shaking head.
JIM. How old is she, Mrs. Vernon?
MRS. VERNON. They's fourteen months difference 'tween her an'
JIM looks at JOE again.
JIM. Well, I've knowed her so long, she always seems jes' a
little child to me—but Kate's old enough to be thinkin' o' gettin'
married, ain't she?
MRS. VERNON. I was mother of two young uns when I was as old
JIM looks at JOE again. JOE is a mixture of
pride and apology.
JIM. [Leans over back of chair.] You know, if I had my
way, I'd like Kate to see everything. Go to St. Louis, and
Europe, an' travel. I've often thought I'd like to be well enough off
to take Kate an' jes' do nothin' but travel for a whole summer.
MRS. VERNON. Oh, folks'd talk about it, Jim.
JIM. Why, I mean married—if Kate'd have me.
MRS. VERNON. Oh!
JOE. [Explainingly.] Of course—'fore they started.
JIM looks at JOE in amused disgust.
JIM. An' you know, Mrs. Vernon, I've had it on the tip of my
tongue a dozen times to ask her.
MRS. VERNON. [Reflectively.] Well,—it might be the
best thing that could happen to her. [Pause.] Kate's been awful
JOE. [Heartily.] An' she likes you, Jim, better'n
JIM. Why, I used to think so, Joe, but since this feller's
been in town—[Slowly crosses and sits on table.
MRS. VERNON. Pshaw—I'll bet that mustach of his'n is dyed.
JOE. Don't think about him, Jim, 'cause, if it comes to that,
I'll put my foot down.
JIM. Not if Kate liked him.
JOE. Yes, no matter who liked him.
JIM. But I'd want her to like me.
JOE. Well, she does.
JIM. You think so.
JIM. Dog gone it! I'd swap my poney for a trottin' horse, an'
git one of them two-wheeled carts an' practice in it till I wasn't
seasick, and me an' Kate of a Sunday—say—driving through Bowling
MRS. VERNON. [Grinning in admiration.] Why, Jim!
JIM. [Growing with his vision.] An' I'd run that south
pyazza all around the house,—and dog gone it—we'd have a hired
MRS. VERNON. [Starting something.] That's the way to
treat a woman, Joe Vernon, an' if you hadn't been brought up in
JOE. [Completing.] Why, Jim, when we was fust married
she was so jealous we couldn't keep a hired girl.
MRS. VERNON. [Waving a hand at him.] I've got bravely
over it. You kin git one now.
JOE. Well—we don't need one now.
KATE. No, I'm not offended, Lizbeth, but it isn't kind.
JOE. What's the matter?
LIZBETH and DAVE appear outside of door and disappear
KATE. Nothing. [Crossing right of rocker.] Jim—
KATE. You and father are trying for the Legislature? [JIM
nods.] A nomination in this county is as good as an election, isn't
JOE. [Explaining.] On our ticket.
KATE. You have been very kind to me—kinder than any man I
know—you've stood up for me; and you've given me lots of handsome
KATE. You have been very kind—I like your sister Emily—as
well as if she were my own sister—but Joe Vernon's my father
—he's an older man than you are—
MRS. VERNON. [Butting in.] Well, if he wasn't—KATE.
Wait, mother— [To JIM.] I shall work for him. [JIM nods.
] In every possible way—I know a good many of these delegates—I know
their wives—I shall see them.
JIM. [Pause.] Does politics make any difference to
KATE. His election does. It means a step out of this life, a
breath away from the shop—it means a broader horizon for me—[Turns
away, overcome by her feelings.
JIM. [Pause.] Well, Joe—I went in this thing to
JOE. Don't mind her, Jim.
JIM. I went in it to win—my friends kind a put it that
way—an' it seems I ought to do my best for them—but—I wish
you luck, old man,—I wouldn't take the nomination now—I didn't think
SCENE. VERNON'S blacksmith shop, adjoining his living-room. Forge. Door to living-room above forge. Bellows down stage below forge. Bench with vise at left. Big double doors. Trusses. Tub of water back
DISCOVERED. JOE and CAL beating weld of tire;
ESROM, a half-witted negro, absently playing jew's-harp on trusses.
JOE. [Wearing boots and leather apron.] Hand me the
traveller. [HELPER hands it, and drops tire horizontally on anvil,
while JOE runs traveller around it inside.] Jes' the same
size—give it another heat an' we'll beat her out a quarter inch. [
Crosses to left centre. HELPER puts tire into fire and works
ESROM. Yes, sah.
JOE. I'm purty busy now, an' that tune—can't you let up till
ESROM. Yes, sah.
JOE. An' while you're resting you might bring another bucket
o' water an' dump it in this tub.
ESROM. [Going.] Yes, sah—don't you really want to buy
any mo' coke?
JOE. Not this morning, Esrom. [Exit ESROM with
jew's-harp, playing.] Ready? [Takes tire from fire and hammers
weld out—when pounding is done, traveller runs over it as before.
Enter MRS. VERNON.
MRS. VERNON. Joe, can't you leave that now?
JOE. Course I can't, ma—it's Louisiana time now.
MRS. VERNON. Well, the breakfast's spilin'. [Exit.
JOE. [Calling.] Well, it's Dave an' his durned
alarm-clock—if I'd let Kate set it—I guess she's all right now, Cal.
[HELPER puts tire in fire—last heating. JOE goes to trusses
and lays wheel square. Enter SARBER. SARBER wears linen duster
and boots, and carries a whip.] Hello, Bill.
SARBER. [Down] Hello, Joe—mighty nigh time. [
Looking at watch.
JOE. Won't be a minute longer—soon as we stretch her a
little and drop her over this bunch of bones—
SARBER. [Examining wheel.] Hello, Cal? [HELPER nods.] Fellers ain't hurt?
JOE. Nothin' ain't hurt. [Enter ESROM with water.
] This wheel's got as purty a dish as I ever see.
SARBER. Don't know why the durned weld broke.
JOE. Them steel tires are hard to make fast sometimes—
ESROM. Right heah, Joe.
JOE. Let her go.
ESROM pours water into tub.
ESROM. [Coaxingly.] No coke dis mawnin'?
JOE. No. [ESROM exits. To SARBER, pointing
to dog under bench.] Ever see that chap before?
SARBER. The dog?
SARBER. Is that the same one I dropped the rail on?
JOE. [Nods.] Me an' Jim put his leg in splinters last
SARBER. [Shaking head and smiling.] Jim!
JOE. [Pointing to coach.] Looks like you been in the
real estate business, Bill.
SARBER. Wall, yes—we took a turn or two at it.
BOLLINGER. Hello, Sarber, when's your ingine start?
SARBER. Joe's fixin' one of her drivers.
JOE. [Looking towards forge.] Won't be a minute, Tom.
BOLLINGER. Everybody waiting at the drug-store—we want to go
'fore it gets too hot,—folks says you're hanging back so Clark kin
sell out his sody water.
SARBER. [Looking at watch.] Shake her up, Joe.
JOE. I guess we're ready. [Two NEGROES of a
quartette enter and stand idly about. Takes tire with HELPER.] Get
out of the way. [Drops tire on wheel and adjusts it. Drives pin
through one hole. KELLY enters, looks at coach, and nervously
JOE. What's new, Tom, about Sam Fowler?
BOLLINGER. [Looking at work.] Papers say the company
has let him go.
JOE. Scott free?
JOE. Then he'll have to pay his own board now.
BOLLINGER. I reckon.
JOE and HELPER carry wheel to tub and chill the tire
SARBER. Think she'll stay now?
JOE. As soon as we get the bolts in her. [Two other
NEGROES enter, completing the male quartette. Enter TRAVERS.]
They lift wheel to trusses and silently adjust bolts.
As this takes time, the NEGROES fill in with songs.
TRAVERS. [Coming down with KELLY.] Well, what's up?
KELLY. I'm goin' to skip on this stage.
KELLY. Too hot,—see papers?
KELLY. Well, young Sam Fowler will know you the minute he
sees you—and he's comin' back to-day.
TRAVERS. He can't get here till to-night, on account of the
wash-outs—I'm going to risk it.
KELLY. Well, I quit you.
TRAVERS. I risk more than you.
KELLY. All right, but you don't risk me. You went in the car,
like a blamed fool, without a thing on your face—
VILLAGERS at door.
TRAVERS. Be careful.
KELLY. Careful? I skip.
They turn up right. Enter JIM.
BOLLINGER. Hello, Jim—Louisiana?
JIM. No. [Kneels by dog-box.
SARBER. Hello, Jim?
JIM. Ain't you late?
SARBER. Joe's keeping me.
JIM. [Pointing to door.] Big load this mornin'?
SARBER. Yes, if they all go. [Returns to wheel. JIM
goes in house.
KELLY. [Coming down with TRAVERS.] You'd risk your
neck for that girl?
TRAVERS. I'm all right, Kelly. I'll get out to-night, but
I've got to see her first.
They go up and exeunt.
BOLLINGER. [Looking off carefully.] I see Jim last
night after we left here. He says he's out of the race for Legislature.
JOE. That's what he says.
JOE. Well, what did he say?
BOLLINGER. Personal reasons.
JOE. Well, that goes—all right, Cal,—put her on now, an'
let 'em get out.
Wheel is done. CAL takes it up to coach.
BOLLINGER. Well, you're jes' as good as elected then, Joe.
JOE. Think so?
BOLLINGER. Sure. See here. [Aside.] Folks down in
Louisiana thinks Jim will be the nominee. I'm goin' down to-day to bet
fifteen or twenty dollars he won't, 'fore they hear of it.
JOE. No promises.
BOLLINGER. No, sir-ee—put up, or shut up—I've got
twenty-two and a half in my pocket—some of it's Clark's, but blamed
Re-enter JIM with pan of milk—kneels by dog and feeds
SARBER. Now stand out of the way there.
BOLLINGER. Goin', Bill?
SARBER. Soon as we hitch.
They take wagon out. BOLLINGER, KELLY, TRAVERS and
SARBER go out with wagon.
JOE. Come Cal—[CAL turns.] Hash! [CAL exits.]
JIM. Had it.
JOE. Come, set with us. [Exit, followed by JIM.
TRAVERS. Kelly is right. I should go on that coach—but—I
must see Kate—they're at breakfast—if I only—yes, just a minute. [
Beckons KATE.] I wish that fellow wasn't here.
KATE. Mr. Travers.
TRAVERS. I should leave on that coach.
KATE. Do I keep you?
TRAVERS. Because when I leave Bowling Green now, I shall
never come back.
KATE. You—you are jesting.
TRAVERS. In dead earnest. [Slight clatter of dishes
—KATE looks off.] Do you care for that man?
KATE. [Coming down.] I admire him. I think he is a
good and a noble character.
TRAVERS. Better than I am.
KATE. He may be,—but—I don't love him—
TRAVERS. Do you love me?
SARBER. [Off.] All ready; get in.
KATE. The stage is going. [She turns.
TRAVERS. Do you love me?
SARBER. Get in.
TRAVERS. Do you?
KATE. [Pause.] Yes.
TRAVERS. Then let them leave—[SARBER calling “git
ap”—and a whip cracks. We hear stage—voices go.] Will you go
KATE. How—go with you?
TRAVERS. As my wife.
KATE. But why such haste? Why go as if we feared anything?
TRAVERS. I must go to-night. Great interests depend upon it.
I know your people don't like me, but I haven't time to humour them.
Will you go?
KATE. Let me think till then.
TRAVERS. Yes,—good-bye till to-night. [Holds her
hand—she turns as if to leave.] Kate! Kate! Good-bye. [
Impulsive turn and embrace.] Till to-night.
Enter DAVE, from breakfast.
DAVE. Huh! [Shortly; more a chuck than an exclamation. The
lovers start.] Oh! Seminary!
DAVE. [Embarrassed—nodding off.] Breakfast.
KATE. Thank you. [Exits.
DAVE. [Going to bench and beginning work on shaft with
draw knife.] Well—Lizbeth don't know so blamed much about books—[
Shakes head.] But—huh—[Shakes head again.] I tell you—[
Works hard—enter LIZBETH with pan, which she puts on forge.
DAVE. [Commanding.] Come here, Lizbeth.
LIZBETH. [Crosses to DAVE. Pause.] What? [
DAVE. [Cautiously, approving her.] Why, dog gone it—[
Shakes head.] Huh! [Swaggers.] I tell you—[Works.
LIZBETH. [Wonderingly.] What's the matter?
DAVE. [Threatening.] If you was to say seminary to
me—[Swaggers.] Huh! [Works.
LIZBETH. [After pause.] What?
DAVE. [Ominously.] Why, Lizbeth, the sooner we git
married an' git out o' this, the better.
LIZBETH. [Hopelessly.] Well, what kin I do?
DAVE. [Working.] Dog gone it—if I had a stidy job!
LIZBETH. [Understandingly.] I know that, Dave. [
Goes back to pan.
DAVE. [Bragging.] An' you bet your father knows
LIZBETH. [Portentously.] Well, I told ma—
DAVE. An' that's what he said. If I had a stidy job—
DAVE. Why, how de do?
LIZBETH. Can't you come in?
EM'LY. Who's there? [Indicates kitchen.
LIZBETH. Only the folks and Jim.
EM'LY. I want Jim—say—Sam's there. [Off.
LIZBETH. Sam Fowler!—Oh, ma—[Exits.
DAVE. Sam—why, see here. Sam! [Goes up.
SAM enters. Wears express blue and a cap.
EM'LY. [Beckoning.] Sam!
DAVE brings SAM down. Enter JOE, followed by
MRS. VERNON, LIZBETH and KATE.
JOE. [Heartily.] Sam, Sam, how are you?
SAM. [Shaking hands.] I didn't know how you'd feel
MRS. VERNON. [Shaking.] Why, Lor', Sam—I'm glad—I'll
bet Em'ly kissed him.
KATE and LIZBETH shake hands with SAM. Enter
JIM—EM'LY runs to him.
JIM puts his left arm around EM'LY and sits on anvil
SAM. [Approaching and taking JIM'S hand, smiling.]
You didn't think I done it, did you, Jim?
JIM. [Nods at EM'LY.] No, not while she's
keepin' house for me—ha, ha!
EM'LY. He's always stood up for you, Sam.
JOE. Well, tell us 'bout it, Sam. Did the papers have it
They are a semi-circle about SAM.
SAM. Yes, purty near.
JOE. Did you help the feller into your car?
SAM. Yes, we were just pulling out of the depot when he came
a-runnin' up to my side door with an order from the superintendent for
me to carry him as fur as Vinita. He ran alongside and put his hand up,
so of course I pulled him into the car.
EM'LY. Wasn't you scared, Sam?
SAM. Why, no—I thought he belonged to the company, and he
went to work with me, sorting and fixing my express stuff.
JOE. Well, I'm durned!
SAM. [Intensely serious.] I joked with him—just like
I'm joking with you—he was one of the nicest fellows I ever saw.
JOE. [Wide-eyed with gossip.] Don't that beat
SAM. When we were eighteen or twenty miles out, an' I was
stoopin' this way over a box—I felt him on my back, and grabbing at my
arms—why, why—even then I thought he was jokin', and I looked around
laughin', and here was his gun pokin' right into my face.
MRS. VERNON. [Haunted.] Just think of it!
JOE. Then he tied you.
SAM. What could I do? There was his gun—and I wasn't even on
my feet—anybody could tie a fellow that way—I could tie you, couldn't
I? [To JIM.
JIM. If you had the gun?
JIM. Well, rather.
SAM. [Indignantly.] The ropes cut clean through here
at my wrists, and there was a mark over one eye where I fell against
the safe—and then the company said I was an accomplice.
JOE. Then I s'pose he jis' deliberately packed his little
valise full of green-backs and—[Pantomimes.]—got out!
SAM. A hundred and twenty thousand—
JOE. Jump off?
SAM. No—got off at a water-tank.
JIM. I s'pose you'd know him agin?
LIZBETH. [With nursery alarm.] He must a looked
SAM. [Commonplace.] Well, he didn't—nice a lookin'
feller as you want to see. Black mustache—kind a curly hair—looked a
little bit, you know, like a race-horse man.
EM'LY. The company said Sam wrote the superintendent's order
SAM. Oh, yes—got an expert to swear it looked like my
EM'LY. Tain't a bit—like it.
JIM. [To EMILY.] Did you see it?
SAM. No, but I showed her part of the letter he wrote to the
newspaper, saying I was innocent. [Feels in pocket.] Ain't that
strange? Seems to be a kind-hearted fellow.
MRS. VERNON. Jes' drove to it I s'pose by drink.
SAM. Here it is. [Hands paper to JIM.
JIM. Hello! [Looks at KATE.
JOE. What is it?
JIM hands paper to KATE.
KATE. [After slight start—haughtily.] What do you
JIM. Oh, not you, Kate. [Smiling, to SAM.] 'Twasn't
Kate dressed up like a man—no! [General laugh.] Oh, I didn't
think that. [KATE vexed, goes up-stage. JIM in whisper to
others.] Mad? [JOE shakes his head; JIM nods
interrogatively to MRS. VERNON.
MRS. VERNON. [Looking after KATE.] Well, I can't see
JIM. [After another look after KATE—to SAM.] Well, I
suppose you know you're watched.
SAM. [Indifferently.] How's that?
JIM. There's a Pinkerton here—come last night—had a letter
to me from the Chief—sayin' they knew of me, an' hoped I'd co-operate
with this fellow in watchin' you—and they'd pay well for it.
SAM. [Smiling.] What did you say?
JIM shakes head—goes up centre.
EM'LY. Why, Jim kicked him off—of our stoop.
General laugh.—LIZBETH crosses to forge and gets
pan. ESROM enters playing jew's-harp.
ESROM. What about the coke, Mistah Vernon?
JOE. [At forge.] Don't want none. [Suddenly.]
See here; look at this clinker.
ESROM. Can't understand that—shouldn't ought to be no
clinker in dat coke.
JOE. Well, there it is—hard as flint.
ESROM. [Examines clinker.] Funny clinker.
JOE. Well, there it is.
JIM. Hold on, Joe. I shouldn't wonder if that was that gumbo.
JOE. What gumbo?
JIM. The poultice. I throwed it among that coke.
JOE. Yes, here's some only half-burned.
ESROM. [Going.] I knowed they shouldn't ought to be no
JOE. But look at this red piece—as hard as a rock.
JIM. [Half-startled.] Why, Joe—[Looks at him.
JIM. Well, nothing—
MRS. VERNON. Well, what about breakfast, everybody?
JOE. Let's finish it—come Sam—
SAM. I've had mine.
JOE. Well, come talk to us.
SAM. [Going.] All right—got heaps to tell you.
LIZBETH. How do you like the Southern Hotel?
Exeunt all but DAVE and JIM. JIM takes
clinker and turns it carefully over in his hand. Then looks through
forge—goes to bench near dog, and gets on hands and knees, looking
DAVE. What you lost?
JIM. Here it is—[Rises.] Some more of that gumbo. [
Crosses to forge.
DAVE. What you goin' to do?
JIM. Burn it. [Looks about as if hunting help.]
Here—come pump this.
DAVE crosses and takes bellows.
DAVE. What do you want to burn it for?
JIM. [Ignoring question.] Say, Dave—
DAVE. [Working bellows.] Well?
JIM. You know them old coal mines down by Jonesburg?
JIM. What do they sell that slack for?
DAVE. They don't sell it—they give it to
anyone that'll haul it away.
JIM. I wonder if they wouldn't deliver it if you took a good
DAVE. Don't know.
JIM whistles cheerily a moment and examines gumbo burning.
JIM. [Pause. Sitting on anvil.] You seem under the
DAVE. [Moodily.] Oh, I'd be all right, if I had a
JIM. [Laughing.] A steady job!—why, you've been
workin' nights ever since I knew you.
DAVE. I know—but Joe says—I—I ought to have a stidy job.
JIM. What's Joe got to do with it?
JIM. [Amused.] Oh!
DAVE. An' I think I could get one, only he don't gimme no
time off to look fur it.
JIM. Wait a minute. [Takes gumbo from fire.] Yes,
sir—she's gettin' hot. [Puts it back and whistles a tune.
DAVE. I've almost made a set o' furniture myself.
JIM. Have, eh?
DAVE. Dug it out with that little draw-knife. I tell you—you
can make anything that's made out of wood—with a draw-knife.
JIM. [On anvil again.] Well, it seems to me, Dave,
that you're going at it the wrong way.
DAVE. How's that?
JIM. The old man won't give his consent till you git a steady
DAVE. That's it—
JIM. And you want a steady job so's you can marry Lizbeth?
JIM. Well, you marry—marry Lizbeth, and you'll have a steady
job. [Gets down. DAVE, absorbed with the idea, pumps
vigorously.] Hold on! [DAVE stops; JIM takes gumbo from
fire with tongs, and plunges it in the water.] Yes, sir, there it
is—hard as a rock—and ain't it a purty color?
DAVE. What you goin' to do with it?
JIM. I don't know but if the Wabash could get enough of it to
ballast that track that washes out every spring, I think they'd take it.
DAVE. [In admiration.] Well, I'm durned. The raw gumbo
is all along their track. Wouldn't cost you nothin', would it?
JIM. Not if I kin get that Jonesburg slack—ha, ha!
DAVE. Why, that's great!
JIM. [Drawing watch.] It's a half hour before train
time. I'll jump to St. Louis with the scheme. [Stands thinking.
DAVE. [Going.] I got to get the leather put on this
shaft—but that's great. [Exit.
KATE appears in outside door.
KATE. [Coming toward JIM, who is turning gumbo
thoughtfully in his hands.] Jim!
JIM. Why, Kate—[Gumbo.] See here—how's this for an
KATE. What did you mean—by this? [She extends letter.
JIM. Why, just that. I thought it looked like his
writin',—same backhand, and no shadin' to it.
KATE. How could Mr. Travers have written it?
JIM. Why, no use gettin' mad, Kate. It kin look like
his writin', can't it?
KATE. [Going to anvil and leaning on back of it.] You
don't like him, Jim, do you?
JIM. [Picks up old horse-shoe.] Well—[Mechanically
pounds gumbo with horse-shoe.
KATE. [Pause.] Not much—
JIM. No—not a great deal, Kate.
KATE. [Displaying the letter.] Do you think he's a bad
enough man to have done this?
JIM. Well, a fellow who takes a risk like that—to clear
another man who's been arrested in his place, ain't so bad.
KATE. A train robber!
JIM. Why, I don't say he done it.
KATE. But you think so.
JIM. [Laughing.] Oh, no, I don't—there's a ten
thousand dollar reward for the right man.
KATE. Then why hand this letter to me? Why imply it?
JIM. Why, Kate, I'm a friend of—your pa's—I've known you
ever since you was eight or ten years old. I don't know this man
Travers—you don't know him. He comes to your house.
JIM. Comes to see you, don't he?
KATE. [Getting in front of anvil.] He does—what of
JIM. Why—I don't think I'd like a preacher of the Gospel if
he was to do that. [Pause.] I—I never meant to say
anything—but when men—other men—I mean anybody gets to payin' you
attention, why, I'm afraid to keep still any longer—
KATE. [Turns away.] To keep still—
JIM. [Advances.] Yes, I've been sheriff here, an'
whenever I've had anything to do, I've said to myself, now don't—do
anything—ugly—'cause Kate—[KATE turns toward him; he qualifies
tone.] some day, you know—Kate might think more of me if I hadn't
done it. You know yourself that I quit drinkin' a year before the local
option—on account of that essay you read, examination day—why, Kate,
I care more for how you feel about anything than I do for anybody in
the State of Mizzoura—that's just how it is. [Pause. KATE is
silent.] You kin remember yourself when you was a little girl an' I
used to take a horse-shoe an' tie it on the anvil an' make a
side-saddle for you—an' I reckon I was the first fellow in Bowling
Green that ever called you. Miss Kate when you come back from school.
KATE. [Rather tenderly.] I didn't want you to call me
Miss Kate, Jim.
JIM. Jes' fun, you know—an' now, Kate, when you're a woman,
an' it's only nature for men to like you,—I've got to ask you myself.
KATE. [Pause.] I'm awful sorry you did it, Jim.
KATE. Yes, because I like you well enough, Jim—but—[
Pause. Enter JOE. KATE stops.
JOE. Say, Jim—
JIM. [Motioning JOE to silence.] Go on, Kate—I
ain't ashamed of it—before Joe.
KATE. That's all there is to it—I just like you.
JIM. Well, I didn't know—you used to let me kiss you—
KATE. Yes, when I was coming home from school—I did. I
thought I was going to love you then. But there was the school. [
Pauses] If I hadn't gone to Lindenwood I might have thought so still. But we could never be happy together, Jim—you haven't had proper
advantages, I know, and it isn't your fault. My education has
put the barrier between us. Those four years at the Seminary—
JOE. [Indignantly.] Why, Kate Vernon—everything you
know, Jim Radburn—
JIM. [Imperatively.] Hold on—[Pause.] You've
heard her say no, and—that lets you out. As far as I'm concerned—why,
Kate's nearly right. I don't know any more'n the law
allows—but—that's for Kate to say—
JIM extends his hand in appeal to KATE. KATE turns
her back to audience—leans on anvil, firmly shakes her head “No,”
JIM motions silence to JOE; makes a struggle, and pulls
himself together—turns and kneels by dog, caressing it.
SCENE. Same as ACT I, but tidy. Doors closed and
lamp lighted. Song in blacksmith shop before rise of curtain.
DISCOVERED. DAVE and LIZBETH playing checkers on
home-made board. EM'LY and SAM looking on. JOE
reading. KATE in walking dress looking out window. MRS.
VERNON with glasses mending some garments.
JOE. [Annoyed by song—frets. Goes to the door.] Here,
you boys—don't hang around that shop; go up in the square an' sing.
MRS. VERNON. What you sen' 'em away fur?
JOE. Oh, it's one o' them blamed “mother” songs. Nobody ever
sings anything about father—except the “Old man's drunk again,” or
somethin' like that.
DAVE. Your move, Lizbeth.
LIZBETH. [Petulantly.] Don't I know it?
SAM. Move there.
DAVE. Hold on, I can't beat both of you.
LIZBETH. Don't tell me, Sam. I'd a moved there anyway. Come
KATE. [Solus.] A whole hour longer; I cannot wait.
MRS. VERNON. What's fretting you, Kate?
MRS. VERNON. [Indicates the melodeon.] Play something.
KATE. I can't play on that melodeon, mother.
MRS. VERNON. Poor old melodeon! for all the music we git out
of it—might as well be a folding bed.
ESROM. [Appearing at window.] I knowed they oughtn't
be any clinker in that coke.
JOE. [From his paper.] That's all right, Esrom.
ESROM. Don't want no mo' coke, Mistah?
JOE. No, no, no!
ESROM hands KATE a letter.
ESROM. [Whispering.] He—he wants an answer.
DAVE. Hold on!
LIZBETH. Well, it's a king!
DAVE. Yes—but I move first.
A knock at street door.
JOE. Come in.
MRS. VERNON. Good-evenin'.
JOE. [Not turning.] Who is it?
JIM. You're all here, are you?
JOE. [Rising.] Hello, Jim.
JIM. [To JOE.] Hello. [EM'LY goes to him; he puts
his arm about her.] How long you been here?
EM'LY. All day.
JOE goes to the shelf at back and fills his pipe.
EM'LY. So's Sam.
SAM. Mrs. Vernon made us stay to dinner. Then supper.
JOE. Sam didn't feel like seeing the town folks.
SAM. Well, I didn't know how they'd feel about it.
JIM. What, think you did do it?
SAM. I didn't know.
JIM. That's just the reason; why, if you hang back, what can
MRS. VERNON. [Explaining.] Well, Em'ly was here.
JIM. I know, but Sam ought to have spunk to face 'em. It's
got to come and you might as well know where your friends are.
JOE. That's so.
SAM. [Starting to door.] Well, I reckon most of 'em's
up at the drug-store.
JIM. [Emphatically.] Walk right in amongst 'em.
SAM. Dog gone it! I ain't ashamed, but if they hint anything
I'd feel like smashing 'em—huh!
JIM. You got to.
SAM. All right. [Exit.
JIM. Don't let me stop the game.
LIZBETH. Dave thinks all night.
EM'LY. [To JIM, putting him around.] Where have
JIM. St. Louis. Been to see the railroad people. Say, Joe!
JIM. Sam's got the express people scared.
JOE. How's that?
JIM. Hearin' I was his friend, they hinted to me that they'd
like to square it.
JIM. [Nodding his head.] I worked it up for him. Said
Bollinger was a regular terror.
EM'LY. Will the express company have to pay Sam?
JIM. Well, rather. And after they do, Sam ought to go down to
their president's office and kick 'em all around the back-yard.
JOE. What's ailing Kate?
MRS. VERNON. Seems out o' sorts—mebbe she'll tell me alone.
DAVE. [Protesting.] You can't move backwards.
DAVE. That's cornered.
JOE. He's got you, Lizbeth.
JIM. I saw the Wabash folks.
DAVE. Have a talk with them?
JIM. [Hands DAVE a paper.] Yes—there's a
memorandum agreement—they'll take all I can give 'em at thirty dollars
JOE. What's that?
JIM takes a piece of gumbo from pocket and hands it to JOE.
JIM. [To DAVE.] Now I've got a proposition for you.
JIM. You superintend the burnin' of the stuff, and I'll take
DAVE. Why, Jim—[Rises in delight.
JOE. What's this fur?
JIM. Yes, that road-bed that washes out. [Pause.]
Thirty dollars a car.
JIM. Me an' Dave.
DAVE. Why, Jim, I ain't got no claim on you.
JIM. You pumped the bellows this morning while I burned it.
JIM. And you want a steady job, don't you?
DAVE. Well—[“I should say so,” understood; turns to him.
JOE. But see here—[JIM looks at him—waits.]—You
goin' into this?
JIM. Wouldn't you, if you got the contract?
JOE. But Dave—Dave's helpin' me!
JIM. You told him to git a job, didn't you?
LIZBETH. [Ready for a fight.] An' that's what you told
JIM. [Abetting LIZBETH.] Yes.
JOE. But my business needs somebody.
JIM. Then why don't you let them git married?
JOE. An' me support them?
JIM. [In disgust.] Hell!—
JOE. What's the matter?
JIM. Ain't he worth his wages?
JOE. I never said he wasn't.
JIM. [In superlative display.] And he's made nearly a
whole set of furniture.
JOE. But if I went to Jefferson, I was goin' to leave this
shop with Dave.
LIZBETH. [With pride.] Dave!
JIM. Well, that's different. See here! You let 'em get
married. I only want Dave to superintend this burnin'—it won't take
two half-days a week to kind a-look it over—we kin get niggers to do
the work, and Dave kin stay here.
DAVE. [Hushing her.] Sh—
JOE. Well, I'll think it over and—
JIM. [Positively.] No!
JIM. I can't fool with you, Joe; he gits the girl or
LIZBETH. An' the girl goes too.
JIM. Yes, the girl goes too. [Pause and smile.] It's
your say, Joe. [Foot on chair.] Well, Joe, it's up to you.
JOE. [Giving up.] Well, I can't help it.
JIM. [Passing the approval to DAVE and LIZBETH.] There's your girl. And you've got a stiddy job! [DAVE and
LIZBETH half embrace.] What do you think of that? [To
JOE, who is mechanically looking at gumbo.] Thirty dollars per
JOE. [Glad to change the subject.] Thirty, eh?
JIM. Every per car—and see here—Joe—
JIM. [Draws second paper from pocket.] I've fixed up a
kind of a resignation here.
JIM. Yes. I can't tend to this new business and do much work
as sheriff, so I'm goin' to resign the sheriff part of it.
JOE. You mustn' do it, Jim—why, you've been keepin' the
district like a prayer-meeting!
JIM. Well, somebody else kin sing the Doxology—you turn that
into the council fur me.
Enter KATE and MRS. VERNON.
MRS. VERNON. I've put my foot down, Kate,—you can't go.
KATE. I am going.
MRS. VERNON. Joe Vernon, it's time you took a hand a-managin'
JOE. What's the matter?
MRS. VERNON. I've told Kate she can't go out.
JOE. Well, ma,—Kate ain't a child.
MRS. VERNON. Your carelessness'll make her disgrace the whole
JOE. Hol' on, ma.
MRS. VERNON. I know what I'm talking about. I see that nigger
give Kate a letter.
JOE. Why, he don't know how to write.
MRS. VERNON. You don't suppose I think the nigger wrote it!
It's from someone else.
JOE. Who is it from, Kate?
KATE. I don't care to tell. I'm going out. [Starts.
MRS. VERNON. [Interposes.] No, Kate, you ain't.
JOE. Why, ma—if Kate wants to go walkin'—
MRS. VERNON. All right, she kin walk. But getting letters
sneaked to her, and going out to meet a man's another thing. [
Persuasively going to her.] Why don't you tell, Kate?
KATE. [Down to end of table.] No one has a right to my
JOE. Of course not. No right, Kate, but your ma's
naturally anxious, and she's only tryin' for your good.
KATE. [Ready to weep.] I'm awfully tired of it.
JOE. But you kin tell me—you ain't ashamed of it, air you?
KATE. No, I'm not!
MRS. VERNON. It's Travers, ain't it?
JOE. [Coaxing.] Is it, Kate?
KATE. Yes, it is.
JOE. Well, there, ma—see. [Walks away as though matter
were closed. Crossing left.
MRS. VERNON. Air you losin' your senses, Joe Vernon?
JOE. [Irritated.] The girl's tole you, ain't she?
MRS. VERNON. And jes' what I thought, too. She's goin' to
KATE. Well, what of it? You're polite enough to his face.
MRS. VERNON. Of course, if he'll come here like a man. But
when I was a gurl—it'd a been an insult fur a man to send a note
askin' her to meet him after dark.
JOE. [Loudly chaffing.] Oh, ma—now don't forget—
MRS. VERNON. You upholdin' her? Jim, that's the way I have to
fight to keep this family straight. What's your opinion?
JIM. Well, 'tain't no business o' mine, Mrs. Vernon, and—
MRS. VERNON. Do you like his looks?
JIM. [Pause.] He ain't jes' my kind—but may be he
don't like mine.
MRS. VERNON. Do you uphold his sending letters to Kate?
JIM. Why, Mrs. Vernon, I can't blame other men fur likin'
MRS. VERNON. Meetin' them after dark?
JIM. Kate knows how I feel about her—[Pause.] And if
she wanted my opinion I'd give it to her—but on the other hand—I've
got an awful lot o' confidence in Kate.
MRS. VERNON. Why don't you answer his letter, Kate, an' say
you'll be happy to receive him at your home? He won't think none the
less of you.
KATE. I've promised to meet him, and I'm going to keep the
MRS. VERNON. Is she, Joe?
JOE. Well, ma, I can't tie her.
MRS. VERNON. Take Lizbeth with you.
KATE. I don't want Lizbeth with me.
LIZBETH. I won't play proprietary for her!
KATE. [Starting up.] I'm going alone. [Crosses
MRS. VERNON. [With her back to street door.] Not this
door, you ain't.
KATE. Then the other. [Exits, followed by MRS. VERNON.
MRS. VERNON. [As she disappears by door.] We'll see!
Enter BOLLINGER from street.
BOLLINGER. [In great excitement.] Say, boys—man
killed up at Clark's—
JOE. [Catching the thrill.] Man killed?
LIZBETH and EM'LY. Oh!
JOE. Run over?
BOLLINGER. [Revelling in the gossip.] Travers shot him. Sam Fowler came in the drug-store, and the minute he saw him he said,
“That's the man robbed my car—”
JIM. [Quietly.] What's he look like?
BOLLINGER. [Impatiently.] Why, Travers—Sam
says that's the man—and Travers started for the window—stepped right
into the perfumery case, then on the sody-water counter, and this
fellow grabbed him. First we see Travers had his gun right against the
fellow's neck and—bang—he turned around with both hands up, this way,
and kneels down right at Bill Sarber's feet.
EM'LY. And Sam?
BOLLINGER. Oh, Sam's all right—say, kin one of you boys lend
me a gun—we're huntin' fur him.
JOE. Hunting who?
BOLLINGER. [Intolerant of JOE'S stupidity.]
JIM. [In quiet contrast.] Where'd he go?
BOLLINGER. Right through the window—knocked over both them
green lights—kicked a box o' lickerish all over the sidewalk—kin you
JOE. [Bustling about.] I ain't got but one, and I
reckon I'll take a hand myself.
JIM. [To EM'LY.] Come, little gal, we got to go home.
JOE. [At door. Calls.] Ma—ma!—Say, Jim, you can't
resign to-night—I knowed they'd be trouble if you quit.
JIM. Better meet at the Court House. [Exit with EM'LY
and passes window going left.
Enter MRS. VERNON.
JOE. Where's my gun?
MRS. VERNON. What you want it fur?
JOE. [Who is running a circle.] What do you
s'pose—fry eggs? Where is it?
LIZBETH. Travers killed a man.
MRS. VERNON. [Adding her part to the hubbub.] Lor'!
JOE. Where is it, Lizbeth?
BOLLINGER. Ain't you got anything you kin lend me?
MRS. VERNON. Here it is. [Hands gun.
MRS. VERNON. Don't pint it.
JOE. That—the butt end—come on!
BOLLINGER. A butcher-knife's better than nothing.
LIZBETH. Here! [Hands knife to BOLLINGER.
DAVE. [As LIZBETH holds him.] You don't think
Exeunt BOLLINGER and JOE.
MRS. VERNON. I don't want you to shoot anybody, Joe; pint it
in the air.
DAVE exits; when off calls “Good-bye!”
MRS. VERNON. [Impatient in doorway.] I can't see what
business it is of Dave's when they's three policemen in town;
LIZBETH. Jim took her home.
MRS. VERNON. Did somebody say Travers?
KATE. What is it?
LIZBETH. Travers shot a man.
KATE. What man—why?
MRS. VERNON. [Accusingly.] Jus' natural
deviltry—purty pass things is coming to!
KATE. Whom did he shoot?
LIZBETH. We don't know—shot him here, in the neck.
Enter Sarber from street, hurriedly.
SARBER. Hello,—where's the boys?
MRS. VERNON. Have they ketched him?
SARBER. Don't know—we're all huntin'—[Starts off.
KATE. [Quickly.] Mr. Sarber—
KATE. Who is hurt?
SARBER. [Shouting.] Don't know his name—Clark stuffed
the hole full of cotton. [Indicating neck.] Says city'll have to
pay for his green lights and lickorish.
KATE. Did Mr. Travers shoot the man?
SARBER. Yes'm—nearer than you an' me—which way'd they go?
LIZBETH. Court House.
SARBER. Been an awful hot day. [Exit.
KATE. [In haunted fear.] What have you heard about it?
MRS. VERNON. Why, it don't surprise me, Kate.
LIZBETH. They say Travers is the train-robber—
LIZBETH. Sam Fowler knew him the minute he saw him—, that's
why Travers had to shoot—to git away!
MRS. VERNON. Not Sam?
LIZBETH. No, didn't shoot Sam.
KATE. There has been some mistake—these people have never
liked Mr. Travers.
MRS. VERNON. I knowed he'd bring disgrace on the whole house,
Kate. [Getting sun-bonnet.] I'll go in through Mrs. Clark's back
way—she'll know—come, Kate, I'm your mother, and a mother
never deserts her child. [In stage heroics.
KATE. [Recoiling.] I don't care to go.
LIZBETH. Take me, ma.
MRS. VERNON. Come on, [Exit with LIZBETH.
KATE. [In wild-eyed panic.] Oh, how dreadful! This is
what I have felt coming all the day. It is my fault, too. If I had said
'yes' last night, or only gone with him this morning—it couldn't have
happened. How horrible!—killed a man! They didn't tell me whom. I—I
wonder if my name was mentioned? They said—Lizbeth said—a
train-robber—[She leans on table for support.] That letter!
Jim thought the writing looked like his. Jim—Jim has told others his
suspicion—Yes—Jim Radburn has done it! I see! I see! Jim hated
him—they have persecuted him for me—Oh! oh! Why did I not go
Enter TRAVERS, pale and breathless—revolver in hand
. He closes the door behind him.
TRAVERS. Who's there? [Points toward shop.
KATE. No one. What is the matter? Tell me what you did—that
TRAVERS. In self-defence—they would have killed me if
KATE. You shot him?
TRAVERS. Yes. [As she hides her face.] Kate! Kate! I
can't come in front of the window—where can I go?
KATE. They will find you here. [He turns, facing door with
pistol, left hand holding door shut, menacingly.] No,—not
that—you wouldn't shoot again! My father may come here!
TRAVERS. Kate! Do you believe me?
TRAVERS. [Pleading.] In self-defence—they were
ten—ten to one.
KATE. You are bleeding!
TRAVERS. [Covers hand.] The window cut me—give me a
drink—I'm parching. [She gets water in a dipper from bucket on
bench. TRAVERS drinks with the tin rattling on his teeth. Noise
of a galloping horse passes. He drops the dipper.] I don't think
they saw me come in here.
KATE. Why did you come?
TRAVERS. Where else? I ran—turned every corner till I lost
them. If I can hide or get a horse!
KATE. [Doubting him.] Why did they try to arrest you?
TRAVERS. I—I don't know, Kate—some mistake.
KATE. They said the express robbery.
TRAVERS. It isn't so—
KATE. [Goes to table and leans on it with her back to
TRAVERS. Kate, [Pause.] Kate, [Pause.] you must
believe me! Why should I be here [Pause.] in this little town—
KATE. Why did you shoot?
TRAVERS. I had to—they would have killed me—it is all a
KATE. What shall we do?
TRAVERS. If I had a horse—
KATE. But why?
There is again the sound of approaching hoofs.
KATE. Some one is coming—[He turns at bay.] No—I
couldn't stand it—go in here—[Opens closet.] Quick!
TRAVERS. Yes! [He enters the closet—she closes the door
of the closet and throws open the street door; goes to table.
JIM rides into view and drops from his horse.
JIM. [In door.] Hello?
KATE. [Behind table.] Well?
JIM. [After looking slowly about.] Where is he?
KATE. I—I—where is who?
JIM. [In a matter of course way] Travers.
KATE. Why, how should I know?
JIM. Then why don't you jes' say you don't know?
KATE. [Behind chair.] Well, then, I don't know.
JIM. [Shaking his head.] Too late now.
KATE. Too late?
JIM. Yes—if it'd been all right, you wouldn't a-tried to
KATE. [Near melodeon.] You may think as you choose.
JIM. [Pause.] I'm awful sorry for you, Kate.
KATE. Oh, you needn't be.
JIM. [On the “qui vive.”] But I want to see Mr.
KATE. [In distress.] You—you annoy me very much. [
Sits left of table.
JIM. [In real tenderness.] Why, Kate—Katie—see
here—I'm your friend—they ain't anybody in the world feels as bad for
you as I do—but be reasonable—it's only a question of time. I s'pose
every man in Bowlin' Green that owns a gun or a bowie knife's
collectin' up there at the Court House—your own pa and Dave—they'll
be back here after a while—and what then?—don't you see?
KATE. It's horrible—don't tell me it is duty makes them hunt
a fellow-man like that. [Rises.
JIM. I don't pretend to know anything about that—[Pause.
Picks up dipper; looks at KATE.] Poor chap—thirsty—oh,
well—that's your business, Kate. [Puts dipper on the bench.
KATE. [At bay herself.] You're not a man, Jim Radburn,
you're a bloodhound—you hunt men.
JIM. Yes! [Pause.
KATE. Yes. [End of rocker-chair.
JIM. See here, Kate—I want a word or two with Mr. Travers. I
think the honestest thing he ever done was liking you—I—
KATE. [Fiercely.] And that is why you hate him!
You think he likes me! You think if it hadn't been for him
I might have liked you! Well, I do like him—[Pause.]
that's why you hunt him! It isn't your duty prompts you—it's your
JIM. [A pause in which he decides the question.] He's
in that closet.
KATE. [Turning.] He is not.
JIM. [Straddling a chair and facing closet. Speaks in
ordinary tone.] Travers, come out. If you don't come out,
I'll shoot through the door.
TRAVERS. [Bursting from closet and levelling pistol.]
Throw up your hands!
JIM. [Pause. In fateful monotone.] You're a damn fool!
The sound of a gun now would fill both them streets with pitchforks.
JIM. Oh, he won't!
TRAVERS. Do you think you can arrest me—alive?
JIM. It don't make no difference to me.
KATE. [Anxiously pleading.] If you are innocent, Mr.
Travers—if you have acted in self-defence—
JIM. Wait, Kate—we ain't got time to try him now. He
ain't got time; the boys are waiting up at the Court House. Mr.
Travers, this young lady likes you—very much. [He slowly rises.
TRAVERS. [Still covering him.] I know the cause of
your hatred, Mr. Radburn—I know you are here because I love her.
JIM. No, I'm here because she likes you—if she
didn't like you 'twouldn't make any difference to me how quick we came
to terms; but she likes you—your Pinkerton friend—[Pause.
Indicating neck.] dead—the boys are up at the Court House. Clark
is pretty hot about them Jumbo bottles, and they wouldn't be
reasonable—my hoss is standing at the door—with anything like a fair
start he can hold his own—Louisiana town is eleven miles away, and
jist across from that is Illinois—and then you'll have to look out for
KATE. [With emotional appreciation.] Jim!
JIM. [With a restraining gesture.] Never mind, Kate.
TRAVERS. You tell me to go?
JIM. [Pause.] Yes.
TRAVERS. Why, there's ten thousand dollars' reward—
JIM. For the man that—went—in—that—car—but you ain't
TRAVERS. On your horse?
TRAVERS. Kate—[Starts toward her.
KATE. [Shrinking.] Oh—h!
TRAVERS. [Holds out hand.] Jim Radburn!
JIM. No—I give you my horse, but I'm damned if I
shake hands with you—!!
Exit TRAVERS. KATE sinks in chair sobbing. JIM
in doorway regards her tenderly.
SCENE. Exterior of JIM RADBURN'S cabin-front, stoop
and steps showing. Rail-fence partly broken down is across the stage at
right and continues in painting on the panorama back-drop of rough
country with stacks of cord wood. Many stumps showing. A mud road winds
into the distance, a stile crosses fence.
DISCOVERED. JIM on step with pencil and queer note-paper,
writing on a piece of broken board.
JIM. Hello! Dropped my pencil. [Picks it up.] Of
course fell on the “buttered side,” an' I've got to whittle it agin. [
Takes enormous knife from his pocket and opens it.
Enter EM'LY, with milk-pails filled.
EM'LY. Say, Jim—
JIM. [Whets knife on boot.] Well?
EM'LY. You let the pony out?
JIM. [Sharpens pencil.] No.
EM'LY. Ain't in his stall.
JIM. I know. [EM'LY looks at JIM a moment and exits
back of house. Looking at paper.] I reckon that's right—Mayor and
City Council—[Writes—first wetting pencil in his mouth.]
Huh—I s'pose I ought to write it in ink—dog gone it—[Writing
through his speech.] If it wasn't for Em'ly I wouldn't care—not a
damn—[Looks up.] I wonder whether it's U.G. or E.G. [Writes.
] I'll jus' kinder round off the top an' play it both ways.
“Resignation,” and after that, why they kin see me personally.
Re-enter EM'LY, with pails empty. EM'LY
EM'LY. [Pause.] Who did let him out?
EM'LY. Why, I thought you said you didn't.
JIM. Well, not to pasture; I give him to a feller.
EM'LY. [Surprised.] Give him?
JIM. [With meaning.] He needed him awful bad. [
EM'LY stands looking at him a moment; then turns to go.
EM'LY. Say! [Puts pails down.
EM'LY. Here comes Sam.
JIM. [Writing and not looking up.] Bully!
EM'LY. You want him?
JIM. No, but I reckon you will.
EM'LY. [Smiling.] Git out.
JIM. [Writing.] “P.S. This goes into effect from last
night, and is a copy—Joe Vernon has the original document.”
EM'LY. [On the stile. Looking off.] Hello!
SAM. [Off.] Hello!
EM'LY. Awful glad.
SAM. Hello, Jim.
JIM. Hello, Sam.
SAM. Know where your pony is?
JIM. Gone East.
SAM. He's in Louisiana.
JIM. Who's got him?
SAM. Why, ain't you heard?
JIM. Ain't heard nothing this morning.
SAM. [To JIM.] Travers stole him. [To EMILY.]
Stole Jim's pony after shootin' the Pinkerton.
EM'LY. Why, Jim—
JIM. Never mind, Em'ly. [To SAM.] Who told you?
SAM. The fellers. You know Travers was—er—
EM'LY. The train-robber—yes, you told us last night that—
SAM. Yes, but I mean you know he was—killed?
JIM. [Rising. With some interest.] Killed? When?
SAM. Last night—didn't you know?
SAM. [Puzzled.] Why, I thought you did—why, the
fellers said—why, dog gone it, they were blamed funny about it—they
said, “Oh, I reckon Jim knows”—then stuck their tongues this way in
their jaw—I thought maybe—[Pantomimes pulling trigger.
JIM. No, hadn't even heard of it.
SAM. Going to run an extra this morning—over a dozen goin'
down just to see. Thought maybe Em'ly 'd like to go 'long and take a
look at the remains.
EM'LY. [Eagerly.] Jim!
JIM. You're going, are you, Sam?
SAM. Why, calculated to.
JIM. Well, I wish you'd stay home this mornin' and kind a
look after Em'ly.
JIM. I'm goin' to be pretty busy, I think, eh?
SAM. [Willing to stay.] Sure.
Exit JIM into house.
EM'LY. Something's worrying Jim. [Crosses to porch.
SAM. I guess this fellow's getting away last night.
EM'LY. No, something else. The operator waked me up after
twelve o'clock with a telegram—an' Jim answered it, and then got up
and dressed himself, and took both his guns and sat out on the porch
here—oh, for an hour.
SAM. Telegrams, eh?
SAM. Well, I guess some other robbery or something. A sheriff
has so much of that.
EM'LY. I know. But Jim's worried.
SAM. Well, I couldn't sleep myself last night.
EM'LY. Me neither. After you left here, and a-telling me
about it, it seemed I could see Travers shooting the man's neck every
time I closed my eyes.
SAM. He's a good deal better this morning.
SAM. The Pinkerton that was shot.
EM'LY. The Pinkerton?
EM'LY. I thought he was dead.
SAM. Oh, that's what Clark said—but the other doctor turned
him over and got him breathing again.
EM'LY. I'm so glad—poor fellow—and Jim kicked him so
yesterday—clean across that stile.
SAM. When he come here?
EM'LY. Yes, with that letter.
SAM. Speakin' of letters, I got one myself this morning.
EM'LY. [Gets letter from pocket.] Who from?
SAM. Looks like a girl wrote it.
SAM. It's in typewritin' an' so I guess a girl did write
it—but its from the company.
EM'LY. More mean things?
SAM. Nicer than pie. See here, [Reads:] “And
regretting deeply our error, we of course cannot deal with any lawyer,
but would be pleased with a personal call from you—your salary awaits
you for the time you have been absent—”
EM'LY. [Indignantly.] Been absent!
SAM. And they having me locked up in a hotel.
EM'LY. I should say so.
SAM. [Reading:]—“been absent. And we can guarantee
your regular employment in our offices here or at any other station you
may prefer. Yours very truly, etc.,—Superintendent.“
EM'LY. Well, what do you think?
SAM. Not much—Bollinger says we can get twenty thousand
EM'LY. I know—that's what he told Jim too—he wanted us to
put off the wedding.
EM'LY. He said it would make a stronger case.
SAM. [Resenting the idea.] Well, see here, Em'ly—
EM'LY. I'm only telling you what Bollinger said.
SAM. Put off our wedding?
EM'LY. He said for about two months.
SAM. What's he take me for?
EM'LY. Jim heard him.
SAM. What did Jim say?
EM'LY. He said—why, he said that was about ten thousand a
month, just for waiting.
SAM. No, sir-ee.
EM'LY. An' Bollinger, tryin' to encourage me, said he'd let
his wife go that long for half the money.
SAM. Well, do you think it's right?
SAM. Why, this postponing for damages.
EM'LY. Not if you don't—only Bollinger said it wouldn't hurt
any to wait.
SAM. See here, Em'ly—seems to me you ain't any too anxious
EM'LY. Well, how can a girl be, Sam—I can't just up and say
I won't wait—especially when they're your damages—I haven't got any
right to say I'm worth ten thousand dollars a month.
SAM. [Embracing her.] Well, you bet your life you are.
EM'LY. [Acquiescing.] Well—
Enter DAVE and LIZBETH.
DAVE. Hello, Sam.
LIZBETH. [Pleased with the example of SAM and
EM'LY. Why, how do you do?
DAVE. Where's Jim?
SAM. In the house.
LIZBETH. Isn't it awful, Em'ly. [She and EM'LY go
to the little porch.
SAM. What's the matter?
DAVE. People don't understand it.
SAM. What do you mean?
DAVE. Why, Jim; lots of 'em thinks he did it.
SAM. Did what? Shoot Travers?
DAVE. No, give him that horse—
SAM. Give to him? Git out.
DAVE. Well, you bet they said so, and Bollinger and Sarber
and Cal and lots of them think so.
SAM. [Astonished.] Git out!
DAVE. Yes, sir-ee.
SAM. They better not say that to me.
DAVE. Why, they'd say it to Jim—you ought to hear them
talking at the convention—
SAM. Is this the day of the convention?
DAVE. 'Tain't come to order yit, but they're all up to the
Court House,—one feller nailed the telegrams on a bulletin where
everybody could read them.
SAM. What telegrams?
DAVE. Why, Jim's.
Enter JIM from house.
JIM. Mornin', Lizbeth.
LIZBETH. How de do, Jim.
JIM. Kate feelin' all right?
LIZBETH. Well; you know—
JIM. Oh, yes—natural enough—ain't you workin', Dave?
JIM. Sure. Forgot the convention.
DAVE. Me and Lizbeth come together because we thought Sam and
Em'ly'd stand up with us.
JIM. At the Squire's?
DAVE. No, preacher's.
JIM. I reckon. [Looks at EM'LY.
EM'LY. Of course.
JIM. Convention ain't met?
DAVE. Not yit.
JIM. I think I'll go down to the Court House. [Starts down
and stops as he reaches the stile.] Hello!
SAM. What's up?
JIM. Nothing'—some o' the boys—comin' here, I expect—Say!
JIM. I mean Dave.
DAVE. How's that?
JIM. Will you do me a favour?
JIM. [Pointing off right.] This letter—give it to the
Mayor, or any of the Council—some of them's sure to be at the
DAVE. All right. [He goes onto the stile and stops.]
Bollinger's one, ain't he?
DAVE. He's comin' with them fellers—
JIM. Well, give it to him—a little before he gits here.
DAVE. All right, Jim. [Starts off—stops.] No trouble,
you don't reckon?
JIM. No, I reckon not.
JIM. I want you and Lizbeth to go in the house. Go on!
EM'LY. [Going.] What's the matter?
JIM. You go with them, Sam—and take care of 'em.
SAM. [Joining the girls on the porch.] Why, Jim, if
there's goin' to be any trouble—
JIM. [Watching the coming mob.] I reckon they
ain't—and anyway I want this side of the fence by myself. [Exeunt
LIZBETH and EM'LY to house.] Take 'em way back to the
SAM. [At the door.] All right?
JIM. Dead sure.
Exit SAM. JIM removes his paper collar—adjusts the
two guns under his coat-tails—takes a chew of tobacco, and fatefully
waits. Enter back of fence, BOLLINGER, SARBER, CAL, ESROM, DAVE,
and SUPERS; DAVE drifts away from them to left. ESROM
playing Jew's-harp. All enter when JIM gets through his
preparations and leans against porch.
BOLLINGER. [Loudly.] Here, stop the band.
SARBER. Stop her.
ESROM is silent.
BOLLINGER. [Pause.] Hello, Jim. [His tone carries a
DAVE. I'll tell the old man, Jim. [Going.
JIM. Oh, no hurry, Dave.
BOLLINGER. Well, they killed our friend down at Louisiana
last night. [JIM chews and nods once.] Where's your pony?
JIM. [After pause.] Have you looked in the stable?
BOLLINGER. [Sneering.] No.
JIM. Well, don't.
BOLLINGER. Didn't calculate to, Jim. [Pause.] You know
what that fellow said before they shot him.
JIM. [Shakes his head.] No.
SARBER. [In quarrelsome bawl. Pointing at JIM.] Why,
BOLLINGER. [Maintaining his leadership.] Hold on! it
was understood I was to do the talkin'.
ALL. Go on! Shut up, Sarber!
SARBER. He was takin' all day fur it.
BOLLINGER. [Clashing.] I'll take as long as I damn
please, and I'll have the nigger play tunes between times if I want
ALL. Go on, Bollinger!
BOLLINGER. [Resuming his nag of JIM.] Know what he
JIM. [Pause. Chews and shakes head.] Don't care.
BOLLINGER. He said you give him the pony.
JIM. You hear him say so?
BOLLINGER. No, but the boys down Louisiana did; they knowed
it was your pony, and they arrested him.
SARBER. [Again intruding.] Then they telegraphed you—
BOLLINGER. Hold on! [Growl from MOB.] They didn't know
he was the train-robber—only thought he was a hoss thief—so they held
him while they telegraphed you—[JIM nods. Pause.] That's the
way we got on to him—the operator showed us the message—[Pause.
JIM nods.] Showed us your answer, too. [Pause. JIM
nods.] Here's a copy of it marked Exhibit B. “The man tells the
truth. The pony is his'n.—Jim Radburn.”
SARBER. And we saw the original.
BOLLINGER. [His anger now lifting his tone into police
court tirade.] While we were waiting up at the Court House where
you told us to go—and I didn't have a durn thing but a butcher
knife—you were a-standin' in with this feller and a-givin' him your
boss to git away on.
SARBER. [In same manner.] And durn good reason—Sam
Fowler stood in with him, an' he's a-goin' to marry your sister—in the
house now—I kin see him at the kitchen window. [All growl, and half
start over the stile toward kitchen.
JIM. [With sudden vehemence.] Hold on! [Impressive
pause; and quiet by CROWD.] You better talk it over with me first.
BOLLINGER. Well, you give him the pony, didn't you? [JIM
is silent.] Didn't you?
JIM. What's that to you?
BOLLINGER. [Half laughing.] Well—what is it to us—
All laugh derisively.
ESROM. [Emboldened to participate.] I knew 'twasn't no
clinker in de coke, 'cause he frowed de mud in it and—
BOLLINGER. Shoot that nigger.
SARBER. Shut up! [Smashes NIGGER in the mouth.
BOLLINGER. [To JIM.] Well, say—[Pause.] That
was a fine way for a sheriff to do,—wasn't it?
JIM. I've resigned.
BOLLINGER. I got your letter. You hadn't resigned last night;
you know there's a law for you, Mr. Radburn.
JIM. That's all right.
BOLLINGER. You'll have to “do time.”
JIM. [Smiling.] When?
BOLLINGER. This session—you git a taste of the jug this
JIM. Not this morning!
BOLLINGER. Well, we'll see—you go with us.
Murmur and start.
JIM. [Again in sudden warning.] Hold on, boys—[
Pause and recovery of calm.] I claim everything this side of the
fence. Now I know it ain't sociable, but I don't want you to come in.
Whenever the District Attorney gits his witnesses together, I'll be
there, but I won't go this mornin'—[Pause.] and anyhow I won't
go with such a mangy lot of heelers as you've scraped up this trip.
BOLLINGER. I reckon you will, Jim.
Murmur and movement.
JIM. Hold on—[Pause, with both hands on guns.] I
don't want to break my record, but I'll have to do it if you trespass
on the lawn.
BOLLINGER. [Discreetly on stile. After a pause.] I
hope you don't think we're scared, Jim?
JIM. No—ain't anything to be scared about, Tom—as long as
you stay outside.—Keep off the grass.
BOLLINGER. [His irritation returning. Threateningly.]
And don't you dare to draw a gun on any of us. Say, Sarber—go down to
the Court House and git a warrant. If you had a warrant we could walk
MRS. VERNON. [Off.] Now, Kate, be careful.
Enter KATE and MRS. VERNON over the stile—the
MOB parting to admit them.
KATE. What is the matter? Jim!
JIM. Won't you come in? Howdy, Mrs. Vernon?
KATE and MRS. VERNON come on.
KATE. [Anxiously. To JIM.] What do these men want? [
To BOLLINGER.] What is the trouble here?
BOLLINGER. [Pointing at JIM.] Malfeasance.
BOLLINGER. Why, Miss Kate, he gave his horse to a man he
ought to have arrested—a train-robber—a murderer—and—
JIM. Hold on, Bollinger—man's dead, and he used to be a
friend to these ladies.
KATE. [Crosses to the MEN.] No—do not speak of
him—we thought he was a friend—but why do you accuse Mr. Radburn?
JIM. No use talkin', Kate, they know.
BOLLINGER. You bet.
JIM. Lizbeth's inside—you an' Kate better go in, Mrs. Vernon.
KATE. No. Do you blame this man?
BOLLINGER. Blame him! Why, he's an accessory after the fact,
and maybe before—I don't see how he can git out of it! Here's his
telegram, really better than a plea of guilty—we ought to arrest him!
KATE. [To BOLLINGER.] He is not guilty. [To JIM.] Oh, Jim, Jim! Can you forgive me? [She extends her hand.
JIM. [Taking her hand.] Why, Kate, 'tain't none o'
KATE. No, it is all mine. [Murmur from CROWD.—To
the MEN.] Listen; all of you must know that Mr. Travers was
attentive to me—I believed he was a gentleman—we thought he was a
friend—[Half crying.] but he never was half the friend—never
could be half the friend that Jim Radburn's been—
JIM. [Expostulating.] Kate!
KATE. [To JIM.] Yes, I know all about it now—my
father has told me all—everything about my college days—I am
humiliated to the dust.
JIM. Now, Kate—
KATE. You should have told me in the shop, when I presumed to
speak of your disadvantages.
JIM. [To MEN.] See here—this is a little matter
between me and Kate Vernon—none of your business—so why don't you
saunter off? [MEN start to go.
KATE. [To the MEN.] No, I want them to stay. I have
nothing to say of Mr. Travers' doings—we were mistaken—but Jim
Radburn thought I cared for the man, and he was big enough to let him
escape for me—I am the one at fault—he has almost given up his
life to me. You, Col. Bollinger, and every one knows that he could win
his nomination if he wanted to—[Turning to JIM.]—But he gave
that up, too, because Joe Vernon, my father, wants it. Oh, Jim! Jim! [
Sinks on steps, sobbing.
MRS. VERNON. [Crosses to her.] There, Kate, I knowed
it would be too much fur you. [To JIM.] She's took on this way
JIM. Say, you fellers ain't got spunk enough to keep hoss
flies off a you. What do you want? Cold victuals?
BOLLINGER. Come on, fellers—[The MEN start off.
] hold on, here's Joe. [MEN return.
MRS. VERNON. Joe Vernon!
Enter JOE and DAVE.
JOE. What's the matter, Jim? ain't nobody hurt? Why, Kate—
JIM. You made a pretty mess of it, ain't you?
JIM. [Pointing to KATE.] Tellin' everything.
JOE. Well, that ain't all of it.
JIM. What ain't?
JOE. Why, they put them blamed telegrams up at the
convention—I didn't see them till the fust ballot was over, and they'd
MRS. VERNON. For Jefferson, Joe?
JOE. [In great excitement.] Yes, for the Legislature.
Cheers from CROWD.
JIM. There, Kate, do you hear that? Now, what's the use
JOE. And I made a speech—
MRS. VERNON. Git out.
JOE. Git out yourself—
MRS. VERNON. Say, your pa's been nominated, and made a speech!
JOE. Well, lemme tell you—
JIM. Well, never mind the speech, Joe—you're as good as
JOE. And you done every bit of it—why, I took them blamed
telegrams, and I told that convention everything I knew. Everything
Kate told me—about your getting off the track 'cause you liked her.
Tom, you told me yourself that Jim wasn't makin' no canvass fur the
nomination. Do you know why? 'Cause he liked my Kate. Last night he
gimme his resignation as sheriff. Do you know why?
BOLLINGER. Afore he give him the hoss?
JOE. Long before—and Jim Radburn, I believe you knowed then
who that feller was, and I told the convention so. He did give Travers
the hoss, and then I said, “He give up his pony to this feller 'cause
he didn't have the heart to make Kate feel bad”—and I said—“What's
Mizzoura—what's Pike County comin' to if we kin persecute a man like
that,” and, by golly, they jus' stood on their hind legs and hollered
BOLLINGER. I'm a-comin' inside myself if he pulls both guns.
[Comes over the stile.
JIM. Why, Tom.
They shake hands.
JOE. An' they're up there now, like a pack of howlin' idiots,
unanimously re-electing you sheriff by acclamation, and “Vivy Vochy,”
over and over agin.
JIM. There, there, Kate—you're goin' to Jefferson soon—an'
you kin forgit all about it.
KATE. I don't want to go to Jefferson, Jim—I don't want
to—forget it. [Turns, weeps on JOE'S breast.
MRS. VERNON. Now, talk to her, Jim!
JIM. Not now—she feels too bad.
MRS. VERNON. But she'll get over that—she's comin' to her
senses, an' she knows she likes you. Talk to her.
JIM. Some other time.