LORDS OF CREATION.
GEO. M. BAKER & CO., PUBLISHERS.
BY GEORGE M. BAKER.
All rights reserved.
LORDS OF CREATION.
- Dr. Endicott, a true Man.
- Mr. Grovenor, the Head of his Family.
- Eugene, his Son, taking Life easy.
- Harold Doughlass, with more Money than Brains.
- Jim, a Coachman, much in Love.
- Kate Grovenor, who has a Mind of her own.
- Lizzie, a young Seamstress.
- Mrs. Grovenor, Mr. Grovenor’s lesser half.
- Alice Grovenor, anxious for a rich Husband.
- Jennie, a Chambermaid who believes in Woman’s Rights.
- Kate. Act I., handsome evening dress. Act II., house dress. Act III., black silk.
- Alice. Act I., elegant evening dress. Act II., house dress. Act III., street costume, hat, etc.
- Mrs. Grovenor. Act I., evening dress. Act II., house dress. Act III., wrapper.
- Lizzie. Act I., plain street costume. Act II. and Act III., plain house dress.
- Jennie. Pretty light calico and apron.
- Dr. Endicott. Business suit.
- Mr. Grovenor. Same.
- Eugene. Elegant suit, rather flashy. Plain suit in Act III.
- Doughlass. Elegant suit, not quite so loud as Eugene.
- Jim. Handsome livery.
LORDS OF CREATION.
Scene—Elegant Drawing-Room. Door C., Sofa, R., Chairs, etc. Table, L. C.
(Enter Jennie, C., holding small bouquet in her hand.)
Jennie. Here is Mr. Eugene’s bouquet, and now where is Mr. Eugene? Not here, of course, and I must be running all over the house to find him. All a body has to do is to wait on him, that is what he thinks! For he is a lord of creation, he is! And he must have his buttonhole bouquet, and his hair parted in the middle, and his mustache waxed, and everybody must bow down and worship him! But after all, he isn’t as bad as his father. Oh! isn’t he just awful! Dear me, what a terrible thing it must be to think yourself so superior, all on account of your sex!
Jim (looking in, C.). May I come in?
Jen. (looking over shoulder). Oh! You are here, are you? I might have known you would be!
Jim (coming down R. awkwardly). Yes, because I always come where you are, if I can.
Jen. (L.) Too bad, ain’t it, I don’t appreciate it any better? You haven’t seen Mr. Eugene anywhere, have you?
Jim. Seen him? No! That is, not since two o’clock this morning, when I helped him up-stairs, and he called me his darling Jim.
Jen. How awful!
Jim. I guess you would have said so if he had hugged you the way he did me!
Jen. (coquettishly) Well, I don’t know; perhaps that might not have been quite so awful either!
Jim (walking about angrily). Just let me catch him hugging you, or any other fellow, that’s all.
Jen. Dear me! And what business would that be of yours, I should like to know? This is a free country, sir, and I am a single woman, and hugging isn’t a crime, and no man shall dictate to me. So! (Stamps foot.)
Jim. Who is dictating? How you do fly off! You know, Jennie, I think all the world of you!
Jen. Yes, I dare say! Men always say so before they get married. I suppose that is what our master said to our mistress once, and now see the way he orders her about! And you would like to do the same by me, wouldn’t you? But I am altogether too smart for that, sir!
Jim. But, good gracious, Jennie, how you do fly off! Never thought of such a thing in my life!
Jen. Oh, pshaw! Men are all alike! Now I will bet a pound of candy that you think you know more than I do, just because you are a man!
Jim. Well—I—of course about some things.
Jen. Some things! just tell me one.
Jim. Well—I—you see it would take me some time to think.
Jen. Yes, I guess it would! Well, I have my eyes open, and I haven’t lived in this house going on a year for nothing, and seen the airs master and Mr. Eugene give themselves! Over Miss Kate, too, who knows more than both of them put together.
Jim (gesticulating). But, Jennie, a woman isn’t supposed to know as much as a man. It isn’t natural, you see! But a man likes them all the better for it, and he likes to be looked up to, you know.
Jen. (drawing herself up). You don’t say so! How sorry I am I can’t make you happy in that way. But the fact is, I’d rather have a man who likes me for what I know and not for what I don’t know! So (courtesying) I’ll leave you to find a woman with less brains than you have—if you can. (Exit C.)
Jim (following). Jennie! here, Jennie! She has gone and she is mad! How she does fly off! And oh, how I do love her! Good gracious, how I do love her! (Comes down C.) Now why on earth should she get mad about a little thing like that! Does she want me to say every man is a natural-born fool? Hang me if I don’t believe they are, where a woman is concerned! Here for the last six months I’ve been a perfect slave to her. And all I get for it is to be told I belong to a tyrannical sex! But I won’t stand it. No, I won’t! (Going. Stops at door C.) I am afraid I can’t help it, though. Oh, what an awful thing it is to be in love! And between me and the furniture, I do believe if a woman is the weaker sex, she always gets the best of a man somehow. (Exit, L. 2 E.)
(Enter Mrs. Grovenor and Alice, C.)
Mrs. G. (as she enters). Well, no, my dear, Dr. Endicott is not a particularly good match. But Mr. Doughlass has an immense fortune, you know.
Alice (sits R. on sofa). Yes, but Mr. Doughlass is such a bore, ma.
Mrs. G. (sitting, L.). Ah, well, a bore is better than a tyrant, child.
Alice. But there must be some men who are neither.
Mrs. G. That kind are very hard to find, and, by some strange chance, are usually poor in purse when found. Witness Dr. Endicott, for instance.
Alice. It would never do to marry a poor man.
Mrs. G. Do! With your extravagant tastes it would be madness. I have no doubt Mr. Doughlass would make you a very good husband, and it is time you were thinking of settling in life now.
Alice. But Kate is older than I am.
Mrs. G. I fear poor Kate will surely be an old maid, in spite of all I can do. Alas! there has never been one in the family yet, and to think one of my daughters should be first to bear that stigma is terrible to contemplate.
Alice. Isn’t it strange that she never tries to be attractive to gentlemen?
Mrs. G. And she actually wants to vote. I am sure I cannot conceive where she obtained such thoughts. Certainly not from me.
(Enter Kate, C.)
Kate (stopping at door). You are mistaken, mother.
Mrs. G (rising quickly). You here, Kate? How you do startle one! What do you mean by that remark?
Kate (coming down C.). I mean, mother, that I first conceived my horror of occupying a dependent position from seeing how you were obliged to coax and manage, to bear cross looks and sarcastic remarks, whenever you asked father for money.
Mrs. G. (looking around alarmed). Hush! Do not speak so loud; your father is in the library, and might hear.
Kate. I am not afraid to say to any one that I had rather earn my money than have it doled out to me as a favor grudgingly bestowed. (Sits at table L. C.)
Mrs. G. (sitting L.). I will admit, Kate, that it has always been very hard to obtain money from your father; and now listen to reason. You are aware that we spend every cent of our income in order to keep up our style of living. The future of you two girls cannot be provided for by us, so there is but one thing for you to do,—to marry.
Kate. Are you sure that is the only thing?
Mrs. G. Why, what else is there—for a woman?
Kate. Many women are independent by the fruit of their own exertions. Why could not I be?
Mrs. G. (with slight scream). You quite shock me. Do you not know you would lose your position in society by such a course?
Kate. I am willing to lose it, if to keep it I must barter my own self-respect.
Mrs. G. Barter your self-respect! What do you mean?
Kate. I mean sell myself for the sake of being supported in idleness.
Alice (languidly fanning herself). The idea of a lady actually wanting to work!
Kate. I cannot live on husks, Alice.
Mrs. G. I cannot understand why you should be so opposed to marriage.
Kate. You mistake me very much if you think I am. Oh, no! I know well that the deepest and truest happiness in life is in love and marriage. It is against making marriage a trade, degrading it to a means of support, that I protest, with all my soul! (Rises.)
Alice. A trade! How absurd! Would you marry a poor man for love?
Kate. Without an instant’s hesitation, and I would never be a dependent burden on him! Oh! mother, can you not see how much of the misery in the world is caused by the way girls are educated, in helpless dependence, often obliged to sell themselves to the first man who offers, because they cannot support themselves? Do not condemn me to such a fate. Give me a chance to be independent of all such considerations in my choice of a husband.
Mrs. G. (with impatient gesture). Nonsense. You are crazy.
Alice. The best thing you can do, Kate, is to set your cap for Dr. Endicott.
Kate. I am very much mistaken in Dr. Endicott if he would deign to notice a woman who had stooped to set her cap. (Sits L. C.)
Mrs. G. (sighing). I am sure I do not know what will become of you with such ideas.
Mr. G. (outside). Where is Eugene? I want him.
Mrs. G. Hush! here comes your father.
Alice (starting up from reclining position). Oh, mother! do try to get some money of him for a new ball dress. Mine are shameful!
Mrs. G. I will do my best, but it is hard work. I hope you may never know how hard when you have a husband of your own.
(Enter Mr. Grovenor, C., his hands full of papers, bills, etc.)
Mr. G. (very crossly). Where is that boy? What do these bills mean? The expenses of this house must be cut down. Do you think I am made of money, Mrs. Grovenor?
Mrs. G. (timidly). I am very sorry. I am sure I do the best I can.
Mr. G. (sitting R. of table and looking over bills). I think you would find a way to be more economical if you had to earn the money you spent. It’s a pity you women did not have to do it once in a while, and then you would know how good it was.
Kate (leaning on table, earnestly). That is just what I wish to do, father. Give me the chance and I will relieve you of the burden of my support.
Mr. G. (staring at his own papers). You would do fine things, I dare say. I do not believe you know exactly what you are talking about, but then a woman never does. Now, for instance, how long do you suppose it would take you to earn that dress you have on, at women’s average wages?
Kate. I could wear a cheaper dress, if need be. I am aware that men, in whose hands now rests the power, show their boasted “chivalry” to the so-called “weaker sex” by paying her half they pay a man for the same work.
Mr. G. (dropping papers angrily). What confounded folly you talk! If a woman did her work as well as a man she would get the same wages; but she does not. She isn’t thinking of her work. When she is young she is thinking of getting married, when she is old she is mad because she can’t.
Kate (with dignity). Pardon me, father, but I think it is you who are talking folly.
Mr. G. Humph! I suppose you would like to vote?
Kate. I see no reason why I should not.
Mr. G. (rises and looks her over, then looks at Mrs. G.) What kind of sentiments have you instilled into your eldest daughter, Mrs. Grovenor?
Mrs. G. I, Mr. Grovenor! Do Kate’s remarks sound like my teachings?
Mr. G. (C.). Well, no, I will acquit you of ever having any tendencies towards doing anything to bring money into the family, Mrs. Grovenor.
Kate. Father, I have some artistic talent, I think; why may I not study and become an artist? All I ask is that I may not be a burden on you or any one (going to him). You will not refuse me this, father.
Mr. G. (putting arm around her). There, there, Kate, you are a good girl, and if you was only a boy I would make something of you; but as you are not, the best advice I can give you is to go and marry some good man and forget these foolish ideas of yours about voting and all that stuff. (Going, stops.) Mrs. Grovenor, send that boy to me at once, do you hear? Here is a bill of his for champagne that is something frightful! He certainly has inherited your extravagant taste. (Exit, C.)
Mrs. G. (rising). There, Kate, you heard what your father said. Perhaps you will take his advice if you will not take mine. Do you think you can find Eugene?
Kate. I will try. (Aside.) They all discourage me, but I will not be daunted! (Exit, L. 2 E.)
Alice. You did not say a word about my dress, mother.
Mrs. G. But he is in such a bad humor! However, I will go now and see what can be done. Talk about earning money! I am sure I doubly earn every cent I get from Mr. Grovenor, and always have. (Exit, C.)
Alice. I believe father grows more stingy every day. Oh, dear! I suppose I shall have to marry that dreadful Mr. Doughlass. What a strange girl Kate is! And yet I do not know, I am not sure but what it would be nice to be independent.
(Enter Jennie, C.)
Jen. (coming down and handing card). Are you at home, Miss Alice?
Alice (takes it and reads). “Harold Doughlass.” Yes (sighs), I suppose so.
Jen. Yes’m. (Aside.) He is one of the superior sex, and he don’t know so much as an idiot! (Exit, C.)
Alice. Now, were I independent, I should certainly have said I was engaged and could not see him. How shall I be able to endure him for a life time, when he bores me so for an hour?
(Enter Doughlass, eye-glass, cane, etc., C.)
Alice (rising). I am delighted to see you, Mr. Doughlass!
Doug. (C.) Aw! thank you. You are looking more chawming than ever this evening, Miss Alice.
Alice (aside). He always says that. (Aloud.) You quite flatter me. Please be seated. (Offers chair.)
Doug. (sitting, L.). Aw! this has been a fine day hasn’t it, now?
Alice (sitting, R.). Very fine indeed.
Doug. I hope we shall have as fine to-morrow.
Alice. I hope so, truly.
Doug. But I weally feaw we shall have wain.
Alice. You quite alarm me.
Doug. Aw! I do not like wain.
Alice. Nor I. (Aside, yawning.) Can’t he talk about something besides the weather?
Doug. (adjusting eye-glasses). I hope your pawents are both well!
Alice. Quite well, thank you.
Doug. I need not ask if you are, for you look more chawming than usual!
Alice. Ah! you are very complimentary. (Aside.) How many times is he going to say that?
Doug. Aw! yes, you are always chawming to me, you know! (Aside.) A fellow must flatter these girls. That’s the secret!
Alice. You quite confuse me. (Aside.) Is he going to propose?
Doug. Aw! I—aw—I twust you do not dislike to be confused, because I think you chawming, you know? (Goes and sits beside her on sofa.)
Alice. Of course I am only too pleased to be so favored.
Doug. Yes—aw—and some day I shall tell you just how chawming I do think you. You are so different from your sister, you know. Why—aw—but weally a fellow is quite afwaid of her.
Alice. Afraid? What, you afraid of a lady?
Doug. Well, not—not exactly afwaid, of course, but you see—aw—I never know what to say to her. We fellows do not like these—aw—strong-minded ladies, you know. We like these—aw—gentle, clinging, soft girls, that do not know so much, you know, of whom you, Miss Alice, are such a chawming type!
Alice (rising). Indeed. Thanks for the implied compliment to my intellect, sir! (Crosses to C.)
Doug. Eh? (Aside.) What the deuce did I say to put her out like that? (Aloud.) I mean that you are vewy chawming, the style of girl we fellows pwefer, you know. (Rises and bows low.)
Alice (aside). It will not do to get angry with him yet. But if I marry him I’ll let him know whether I have any brains or not! (Aloud.) Indeed, Mr. Doughlass? But really, I do not think Kate so very formidable. Ah! here she comes now. (Goes to R. C.)
Doug. I’m sorry—aw—to have our tête-à-tête interrupted, and I am sure I do not know what to say to her, nevaw do, you know!
(Enter Kate, L. 2 E., and bows to Doughlass coldly.)
Doug. (aside). She looks at a fellow in a way that fweezes him all over. Aw—I’ll flatter her. (Aloud.) Aw—you are looking as chawming as usual, Miss Grovenor.
Kate. I am very glad if you have been so fortunate as to discover the fact.
Doug. (aside). That always does please them, to be sure.
(Enter Eugene, L. 2. E.)
Eug. (going to C.) Well, Kittie, here I am; now where is the governor, and what’s the row? Ah, Harold, my boy, how are you? Where were you last night? Jolly old time the boys had. But champagne does make a fellow feel like the deuce the next day.
Kate (L.). Is it worth while to drink it, then?
Eug. Oh! come now! don’t preach. Confound it, a woman is always preaching. If they had their way a fellow would have no fun at all, eh, Harold?
Doug. No—aw—that is, the ladies think so much of us, they want to make us saints, you know.
Eug. Can’t be done, though, eh? What is the use of living if a man can’t have a good time? (Sings.) By Jove, I am glad I wasn’t born a woman. They take things too seriously altogether. But they look up to us, for all their preaching, eh, Harold?
Doug. (R.). To be sure—aw.
Kate. That must require quite a stretch of the imagination sometimes.
Eug. Hope that isn’t personal, Kittie. Never mind, you will be proud of me some time, only a fellow must have his fling, you know. Now I must go and get my dose from the governor. By by, Harold, see you again. (Exit, C.)
Kate. Poor Eugene.
Doug. I beg pardon. (Aside.) What the deuce ails her now? (Aloud.) Poor Eugene? Why, he is the liveliest fellaw I know. The boys nevaw think of having a champagne supper without Eugene, you know.
Kate. I am sorry if my brother is sought only for the purpose of gracing champagne suppers and disgracing himself.
Doug. Aw—weally, now, weally, aren’t you a little too severe.
Alice (C.). Of course she is. A young man must sow his wild oats.
Kate (L.). But I believe a young lady is not allowed that privilege. What is wrong for one must be for the other?
Alice. You shock me, Kate.
Doug. Aw—weally now, ‘pon my honor, that is such a strange wemark, Miss Grovenor; a lady is of course above such things.
Kate. Then in that respect, at least, she must be superior to a man. I am glad to hear you acknowledge even so little.
Doug. Aw—now—aw—you quite confuse me. (Aside.) I must go wight away; never could stand these strong-minded ladies. (Aloud.) Aw—I—I never argue with a lady, you know. But I am afwaid I shall have to tear myself away, as I have a very particular engagement.
Alice. I am so sorry! But we shall see you again soon?
Doug. Aw—vewy soon—aw—I should only be too happy to wemain forever in your chawming pwesence. (Kisses her hand, bows to Kate, and exit, C.)
Alice. Well, you have driven him away. It will be very convenient to have you around after he and I are married, but previously the experiment is too dangerous, and I shall have to ask you to be kind enough to keep your strange ideas exclusively for our family circle. (Exit, L. 2 E.)
Kate. Strange ideas! Is it so strange to long to be independent? Is it strange to shrink from being a burden on an already over-burdened father, or dependent upon the whims of some unloved husband? Is it strange to wish to exercise the talents and energy God has given you instead of allowing them to rust out in darkness? Does the fact of my being a woman make me content to drift along aimlessly, in a stream that leads nowhere? No! a thousand times, no!
(Enter Jennie, C.)
Jen. Dr. Endicott, miss.
Kate. Please ask him in.
Jen. Yes’m. (Aside.) He is a man what is a man. (Exit, C.)
Kate. I wonder does he, too, think me strange?
(Enter Dr. Endicott, C.)
Dr. E. (coming down L.). At last I am with you once more, where I should have been long ago had not duty called me elsewhere.
Kate. I am delighted to welcome you. Father was saying yesterday he wished to see you.
Dr. E. Oh, yes, there is a little business matter between us. And what have you been doing since I was last here?
Kate. Oh, nothing.
Dr. E. Nothing? Really nothing?
Kate. Oh, I have embroidered a little, painted a little, and practised music a little. But it all amounted to—as I said—nothing.
Dr. E. It served to pass away the time pleasantly, at least.
Kate. Yes. But is that what we are living for, to pass away time?
Dr. E. You are right. Such a life is not suited to a woman of your temperament.
Kate. But what can I do? Father and mother object to my doing anything that is real. Because I seek some aim in life, because I seek an independent position, they call me unwomanly and strange.
Dr. E. Is it indeed so? Alas that these old prejudices of a by-gone age should trammel a woman now!
Kate. I just frightened Mr. Doughlass away with my strange ideas.
Dr. E. (laughing). Poor Harold! But you cannot frighten me away, Miss Grovenor. It is just this free, untrammelled, independent woman we need in the world now.
Kate (C.). I can feel now that I have one friend who knows and sympathizes with me.
Dr. E. (going towards her). And who honors you above all women. Kate, may I add that this woman I have described is the woman I want at my fireside for my companion, friend, and my wife? There is one woman who is all I ask, one woman whom I love, but I dare not even hope for her favor. (Enter Eugene, C.) That woman, Kate, is— (Takes her hand.)
Eug. (coming down C. between them). That’s right, doctor, shake hands with her, but after that keep at a discreet distance, for she hates men, you know. Wants to vote and smoke cigars, and wear bloomers and all that sort of thing, you know.
Kate (R.). Eugene! I am ashamed of you.
Eug. Ah, never mind me, sis. The doctor won’t take too much stock in what I say, will you, doctor. And as for you, Kit, you will get over all those notions of yours some day and acknowledge that we men are capable of taking care of the nation, eh, doctor?
Dr. E. (L.). Such very excellent care as we take of it!
Kate. And such pains as you take to elect none but honest men to office!
Eug. Ha! ha! that isn’t a bad one for you, sis, it’s a pity you are a woman, for you would have been a smart man and no mistake. But what the deuce of a temper the governor is in! Making such a fuss over a little bill for our champagne supper last night as I never heard.
Kate. I wish you would let champagne alone, Eugene.
Eug. Now don’t preach. Say, can’t you coax some money out of him some way? You women know how to do that sort of thing.
Kate. I fear I am deficient in that feature of our sex.
Eug. Oh, hang it! but I must have the money some way.
(Enter Lizzie, C. Looks at Kate.)
Lizzie. Excuse me, but I was told I should find Mrs. Grovenor here. Are you the lady?
Eug. (aside). By Jove, Lizzie, and here! (Goes to L. of Dr. E.)
Kate. Please come in and be seated. I will call mother.
Liz. (entering and going down R.). I believe she advertised for a seamstress, and I— (Looks at the gentlemen, screams, and sinks into chair, R. C. Dr. E. and Kate go to her.)
Eug. (aside). This is devilish awkward. Hope she will know enough to hold her tongue. By Jove, I’m in a fix all around. (Exit hastily, C.)
Kate (as Lizzie revives). Are you better?
Liz. Yes—I—yes, thank you. (Looking around. Aside.) He has gone.
Dr. E. The heat of the room overpowered her, doubtless. I will leave her to your care while I go and see your father.
Kate. You will find him in the library.
Dr. E. I will soon return. (Exit, C.)
Kate (aside). She looked very strangely at the doctor before she fainted. What can it mean?
Liz. I—I beg pardon for troubling you so much. I cannot imagine what made me so dizzy.
Kate. I am very glad you have recovered.
Liz. Thank you. I—I will go now. (Rises.)
Kate. But I thought you wished to see my mother?
Liz. Yes—but I—I think I cannot attend to it now. (Goes up C.)
Kate (aside). There is something strange in her behavior. I will try and find out what is the matter. Perhaps I can help her. (Aloud.) Do not go until you are quite well. I thought you recognized the—the gentleman who was here just now. May I ask if it was so?
Liz. (coming down R. confusedly). Yes—I—I have seen him before, in the country, where I lived. He boarded there one summer.
Kate (L.). Then you are acquainted?
Liz. (C.). Acquainted? Have I not sat by his side hour after hour underneath the trees and—oh! what have I said?
Kate (aside). Why do I tremble? (Aloud, going to her.) Do not fear, child, have confidence in me and let me be your friend. I see you have some great trouble.
Liz. Forgive me for having said what I did, but his appearance took me so by surprise, and I have not yet recovered myself.
Kate (putting arm around her). Poor child, tell me all without fear, and I will do anything I can to help you.
Liz. You are good and kind, I know, and I will confide in you. He—he told me he loved me, and I—I—believed it. And I loved him with all my heart. Life was nothing to me without him. But one day, with promises to return soon and make me his wife, he left me and I never saw him again until to-day. Ah! it broke my heart! it broke my heart!
(Sinks sobbing on chair, R. C.)
Kate (C., aside). And I, too, loved him. And he dared to speak of love to me, after having ruined the happiness of this confiding child. He whom I thought so good, so noble, who was my ideal of what a man should be. And how unmoved he was in her presence. (Aloud.) Poor girl (goes to Lizzie, kneels and puts her arm around her), you have my deepest sympathy. Be brave; he is not worth those tears. I will be your friend and comfort you all I can. Here (rising), go in this room; he will be back soon and I do not wish you to have the pain of meeting him. What you have told me shall be sacred. I will see you again soon. (Takes her to R.)
Liz. Ah! thank you a thousand times for your goodness. (Exit, R.)
Kate. Yes, he is coming back. Will he speak of his love again, trusting to her silence? His love? His noble words but now were decoys to catch the hand of a supposed heiress by pandering to her theories. Ah, heavens! is there no truth in the world? Unhappy, indeed, must the woman be whose whole life is dependent on the truth or falsehood of a man. Oh, woman’s heart! who can escape the suffering its tenderness brings? Strong-minded let me be, and deal with him as he deserves!
(Enter Dr. Endicott, C.)
Dr. E. (coming down R.). I am happy to say your father and I have settled our little affair with mutual satisfaction; and now, Kate (going to her), may I finish the sentence so rudely interrupted? May I dare to ask the one woman in the world for me, to share my life?
Kate (turning from him). I should hardly think you would dare, sir. (Goes to L.)
Dr. E. Kate, do I merit that strange tone of severity?
Kate. Sir, do you think you are worthy of such a woman as you have described?
Dr. E. No, Kate, no man is. But I would hope by her aid and the influence of her pure example to make myself more worthy day after day.
Kate. Your hypocrisy deceives me no longer, Dr. Endicott. The man I marry I must honor as well as love. I cannot honor you. Farewell. (Points to door, C.)
Tableau. Music. Dr. Endicott, R.; Kate, L.
Scene.—Library in Mr. Grovenor’s House. Desk, R., Books, etc. Jennie discovered arranging Books at Desk. Chairs R. and L.
Jen. Now I wonder what it all means? Let me see. (Counts on fingers.) Mr. Grovenor is cross all the time, Mrs. Grovenor is frightened all the time, Miss Alice is nervous all the time, Miss Kate is sober all the time, and Mr. Eugene is drunk—I mean jolly—all the time. Dr. Endicott don’t come here any more, Eyeglass Doughlass is here all the time, there is a sighing seamstress up-stairs, and Jim—but I know what the matter is with Jim—he is in love with me, that’s what ails him. But what ails everybody else is more than I can tell.
(Enter Mr. Grovenor, L. U. E.)
Mr. G. (going to desk). That will do, Jennie, that will do.
Jen. Very well, sir. (Aside.) What a scowl he has on him! I do believe I should be tempted to marry Jim, if it wasn’t for the awful example before me. (Exit, L. U. E.)
Mr. G. (sitting at desk, R.). Nothing but debts, debts. What a fool a man is to get married and saddle himself with an expensive family! Well, there is one consolation, my girls will be off my hands some time. Not a bad bargain will the man make who gets Kate. It’s a pity, a great pity she isn’t a boy. A very different son she would have been to me from the one I have. If I had time to spare from money matters, Eugene would give me great anxiety. Here is that note of Brown’s due next week; how am I to meet it? But it must be done or my credit is lost!
Jen. (outside). This way, sir; you will find him in the library.
Doug. (outside). Aw—pwecisely. (Enter Doughlass, L. U. E.) Aw—good morning, sir. I twust you are well to-day.
Mr. G. (rising). Not quite well, I am sorry to say. Will you be seated?
Doug. (sitting L.). Aw—thank you, but you seem vewy busy.
Mr. G. We business men are always busy. (Sits, R.)
Doug. Aw, pwecisely. I will not twespass long on your valuable time. To pwoceed to business at once, I came to ask—aw—for your daughter’s hand.
Mr. G. Indeed! Have you my daughter’s consent?
Doug. Aw—not exactly, but I weally do not think there will be any twouble about that. (Aside.) Does he think any woman would wefuse me?
Mr. G. I was not aware matters had gone so far. But I have two daughters. Do you mean my eldest or—
Doug. Aw—no, no, your youngest. (Aside.) Does he take me for a woman’s wights convention?
Mr. G. If my daughter is agreeable, then, you have my full consent. (Aside.) How little he knows what an expensive luxury he is about to indulge in.
Doug. (rising). Aw—thank you, I thought it was best to see you first, you know, and now I will not twespass on your valuable time any longer. Good morning.
Mr. G. (rising and shaking hands with him). Good morning, and I wish you success. (Exit Doughlass, L. U. E.) Ay, that I do with all my heart. One burden less. Oh, if that note was only paid! (Exit into anteroom, R. 1 E.)
(Enter Doughlass, L. U. E.)
Doug. I beg pardon, but I believe I left my glove—aw—the old man has gone. Well, no matter, I’ll just find my glove and depart. (Looks for glove.)
(Enter Jennie, L. U. E.)
Jen. If you please, sir—oh!
Doug. (aside, looking at her through eye-glass). Always thought she was devilish pwetty. (Aloud) Aw—do not be afwaid, my dear.
Jen. (coming down L.). Afraid of you? Oh, no, indeed, sir!
Doug. Aw—that is wight. Let me see, what is your name, my dear?
Jen. Jennie, sir. (Aside.) Oh, what a fool he is!
Doug. Jennie—aw—vewy pwetty name, Jennie.
Jen. Do you think so, sir? It must be if you do.
Doug. Aw—yes, and a vewy pwetty girl owns it, too.
(Enter Jim, L. U. E. Stops up stage listening.)
Jen. You don’t say so!
Doug. (getting closer to her). Aw—didn’t you know you were a vewy pwetty girl, Jennie?
Jen. (imitating). Aw—weally, sir!
Doug. You little wogue, I have a good mind to snatch a—
(Jim comes down C. and throws him over to R.)
Jim (C.). You have, have you?
Doug. (R.). You vulgaw fellow, how dare you lay your hands on a gentleman!
Jim. Because you forgot to be a gentleman, sir, that’s how, and I’ll do it every time, too, so you needn’t try to come any of them games here.
Jen. (L.). Ain’t you ashamed of yourself, Jim? Suppose the gentleman did say I was pretty, what then? There was no occasion for you to show your superiority, and it’s entirely out of place. (Aside.) Just as if I should have allowed that jackanapes to kiss me! What stupid things these men are!
Jim. He had no business to do it. He had no business to be so near you; I won’t stand by and see it done.
Doug. Weally, this is a most extraordinary thing! Look here, fellow— (Going towards him.)
Jim. Don’t call me fellow, sir. (Crossing to L.)
(Enter Dr. Endicott, L. U. E.)
Dr. E. (coming down R. C.). Oh, Mr. Doughlass, you here?
Doug. Aw—yes, happy to see you. (Aside.) Good gwacious! It will never do to have him catch me in a wow with the coachman. (Aloud.) Aw—I was about leaving. Here, my good fellow. (Gives money to Jim and exit L. U. E.)
Jim (looks at money, then throws it after him). There, sir! You will find money is not a plaster for everything.
Jen. Ain’t you ashamed of yourself, Jim! Is this the way you show your superiority, I’d like to know?
Dr. E. (C.). What does all this mean?
Jim. Excuse me, sir, it’s nothing but a little quarrel that Jennie and I were having. Nothing uncommon, sir. She is like all women, the better a man likes her the worse he gets treated.
Jen. Do not listen to him, please, doctor. It’s all a bit of nonsense, anyway. If that last you said is true, Jim, all I have got to say is that it shows a great weakness in the sex. (Exit, L. U. E.)
Jim. There you hear her, sir?
Dr. E. Your sweetheart is a little wilful, I fear.
Jim. Sh! don’t let her hear you say that, for she ain’t my sweetheart, you know. That is, she won’t acknowledge it. It’s me who am a dangling and a dangling after her, and she is laughing at me, or berating me for it all the time. Oh, sir! it is an awful thing to be in love. Why, sir, if this goes on much longer, I shan’t have flesh enough left to keep my bones together with.
Dr. E. Then why do you not insist on either yes or no from her and abide by it.
Jim. Insist, did you say, sir? Insist? Why, sir, I have to get down on my marrow bones, sir, and then she ain’t satisfied!
Dr. E. But what does she wish you to do?
Jim. I’ll tell you what she wants, sir. She wants me to give up the dignity of my sex.
Dr. E. (surprised). I fear I do not quite understand.
Jim. She wants me to acknowledge that I am a fool, sir; nothing will content her but my admitting I am a perfect fool.
Dr. E. That is very strange.
Jim. You see, she thinks it her duty to sit down on me! just to show she ain’t inferior, you know.
Dr. E. I am afraid she and you also have gone to the two extremes of an idea. Now I do not believe you would wish to exercise any undue authority over her.
Jim. Authority? over Jennie? No, indeed, sir, and to tell you the truth, I don’t believe there is any fellow alive who could do it and live.
Dr. E. I have more faith in Jennie than to believe she would really like a man who was inferior to herself. I think she adopts that tone as a safeguard because she has a misgiving that the masculine instinct is to assert itself over the feminine. But if you give her to understand that as far as you are concerned she is wrong, I think there will be no trouble.
Jim. Thank you, sir, I’ll try. I suppose a man and a woman are two halves, equal halves, but I have a feeling that Jennie won’t be content with half; she will want two thirds at least. (Exit, L. U. E.)
Dr. E. Poor fellow, I trust his Jennie will not be obdurate. As he says, it is an awful thing to be in love. Love! Is it a blessing or a curse? A week ago, and for me it meant happiness, and now—ah, Kate, what is it that stands between us? I can obtain no explanation from her; she refuses to see me alone. Is it what a man who has less faith in the sex than I would call a woman’s caprice? No! Kate is a noble, a true woman, nothing can make me doubt that! “I must honor as well as love the man I marry.” What can she have meant? What have I done? I am groping in the darkness, but I will find my way into the light yet!
(Enter Mr. Grovenor, R. 1 E.)
Mr. G. Ah, my dear doctor, you are a stranger indeed. I sent for you to-day, as I am feeling far from well. I have had a great mental strain of late and I fear it has been too much for me.
Dr. E. I can truly believe it. I am grieved to see you looking so ill.
Mr. G. My head troubles me sadly.
Dr. E. You need rest.
Mr. G. Rest! Rest is impossible for me.
Dr. E. Cannot your son—
Mr. G. Eugene! no! He is good for nothing except to sing comic songs at champagne suppers and talk soft nonsense to equally soft girls. No. I regret to say Eugene is not a son of whom I can be proud, or who is willing to be useful to me.
Dr. E. But your daughter Kate. I am positive she could be of great assistance to you if you would allow her.
Mr. G. What! a woman meddling in my business matters? Absurd!
Dr. E. I am sorry I cannot agree with you. I know Miss Grovenor has business ability, energy, and brains; what more do you want?
Mr. G. But she is a woman and that settles the matter. Let us not discuss this point. And now can you not give me something that will stop this burning in my head?
Dr. E. I will try, but I fear, without rest, medicine will do you little good.
(Enter Kate, L. U. E.)
Kate (coming down C.). Father, I—Dr. Endicott!
Dr. E. (L.). Kate!
Kate. I thought my father was alone; excuse my intrusion. (Aside.) It is hard to remember how dishonorable he was when I see him as now. But I must.
Dr. E. Do not go, I was about leaving. May I ask to be favored with an interview, at any time possible to you?
Kate. I regret to be obliged to say no to your request.
Mr. G. Why, what do you mean, Kate?
Kate. What I say, father.
Dr. E. I appeal to your sense of justice. Is it right to refuse me all explanation?
Kate. Can you say you need one?
Dr. E. I can.
Kate (aside). His eyes meet mine unfalteringly. Can there have been a mistake? But no, that is impossible. (Aloud.) As you will. I will see you to-morrow at this hour.
Dr. E. I thank you. Pardon me, Mr. Grovenor, but as this is a matter that concerns me very nearly I could do no otherwise than speak in your presence—my only opportunity. I will send the medicine for you very soon. To-morrow at this hour, Kate, I hope to clear up all your doubts. (Exit, L. U. E. Kate looks after him.)
Mr. G. What cursed nonsense is all this?
Kate. Nothing, father, only Dr. Endicott asked me to be his wife.
Mr. G. The devil he did.
Kate. And I refused.
Mr. G. What! refused? why, you are a bigger fool than most women!
Kate. Thank you, father. But in a matter like that, you must allow even a woman has the right to choose.
Mr. G. And are you expecting a prince, that the doctor, a fine, handsome man, is not good enough for you? It is not every one who would want you, with your unfeminine ideas!
Kate. Well, father, I think I can manage to exist unmarried.
Mr. G. Exist? on what? I have no property to leave you.
Kate. Then at least I shall escape taxation without representation.
Mr. G. There you go again with your crazy ideas! I declare I have no patience with you. What was that he meant about an explanation?
Kate. That I am not at liberty to tell, as it is a secret that concerns others.
Mr. G. A secret? Ah, well, it will come out soon enough, then. No woman yet ever kept a secret.
Kate. We shall see.
Mr. G. Well, Kate, I will not deny you have always been a good girl; I believe you never teased me for money in your life, but you were a fool to refuse the doctor. However, there is no accounting for a woman’s whims, and you may think better of it.
Kate. Let us dismiss that subject. I came here, father, to beg you to let me help you. I know you are ill and need rest. I know you are oppressed by many cares, while I—I have absolutely nothing to fill my time. I feel I could help you. Forget I am a woman, if need be, and let me try.
Mr. G. I know you mean right, child, but if I should agree to your proposition, you would be more bother than you were worth; don’t you see you would, you goose?
Kate. At first I might until I learned your way. But that would not be long; at least let me try.
Mr. G. Well, some time when I have plenty of time, perhaps, I will see! (Sits at desk, R.)
Kate. You only say that to get rid of me. Is there no way I can induce you?
Mr. G. No, no. Now do not annoy me any more. (Writes busily.)
(Enter Mrs. Grovenor, L. U. E.)
Mrs. G. (L.). Ah, Kate, you here? I would like to speak to your father alone a moment, my dear.
Kate. Very well, mother. (Aside.) Poor father so worn and harassed. I know I could lighten his labors. Why is he so obstinate? (Exit L. U. E.)
Mr. G. (without looking at her). Well, Mrs. Grovenor, what is it—money? You can’t have it.
Mrs. G. Not for myself. But Eugene is in great distress. He says he must have five hundred dollars at once, and goes on in a way that is frightful.
Mr. G. (looking over shoulder). Five hundred dollars! Do you see that note, due next week and not a cent raised to pay it with? Do you see these bills? Go back and teach your son to earn his money.
Mrs. G. (putting handkerchief to eyes). Oh, would I not if I could! But alas! I am helpless and Eugene is going to ruin!
Mr. G. (writing). There, do not snivel. You have an easy time enough. So spare a man at least your everlasting whimpering!
Mrs. G. An easy time? Bound, fettered, helpless, is that easy?
Mr. G. (turning in his chair and staring at her). You are in an extraordinary mood to-day, Mrs. Grovenor! Bound, fettered—clothed, fed, given all the luxuries of life without lifting your own white hands, you mean. Helpless? To raise five hundred dollars to pay Eugene’s—gambling—debts—doubtless. Who has been talking such stuff to you? Kate?
Mrs. G. Sneer if you will, but it is true that of Kate I have learned to think upon things I never did before, and to believe that, had I been differently educated, had my life been broadened instead of narrowed, had I been taught to be independent, and to make my matrimonial choice from love alone, I might have been a better mother to my daughters, and guided the steps of my son away from ruin and dishonor. (Exit, L. U. E.)
Mr. G. (staring after her). Have all the women gone crazy? I have been married twenty-five years and I never knew my wife to speak in that way before. It’s all Kate’s fault! I must forbid this radical talk or my household will be utterly demoralized. But she was right in saying that Eugene is going to ruin. This constant struggle with money matters has given me no time to attend to my son, and now, what shall be done? (Rises and walks back and forth.)
(Enter Eugene, L. U. E.)
Mr. G. Ah! have you come to tell me what you mean by your disgraceful conduct, sir?
Eug. Disgraceful conduct? You are talking in enigmas to me; I’m all right. I have been a little jolly sometimes, to be sure, but that is no more than all the boys are. You had your fun when you were young, I suppose, so why shouldn’t I?
Mr. G. How dare you, boy, insinuate that I—
Eug. Ah! come, come, father, you know you wasn’t a milk-sop any more than I am. It’s all very well for the girls, but it won’t do for us men, you know. So, now, let me have that five hundred, that’s a good old dad.
Mr. G. Five hundred dollars! Do you know that I am on the verge of ruin?
Eug. The deuce you are!
Mr. G. Nothing but a steady hand will save me. While I am struggling with all my might—sick enough to be in bed—to pull through, you all, not content with being dead weights on my shoulders, run into extravagance and profligacy. (Takes bill from desk.) The bill for my daughter Alice’s last ball dress is here, $500. Here are two of your champagne bills, $100. I tell you this must be stopped. Your debauchery must be stopped. You have not the strength of mind to go through profligacy and come out solvent; if you had Kate’s brains you might, but you have not; so I tell you this must be stopped, or you will have the pleasure of sowing the remainder of your wild oats in a pauper’s back yard, if you do not fill a drunkard’s grave! (Exit, R. 1 E.)
Eug. By Jove! He means it every word! I never saw him so worked up before! And to say I, a man, had not so much strength of mind as Kate, he must be crazy! But what a fix I am in! I never dreamed but I could get the money without any trouble before the time to take up the note came, and if I cannot—great heavens! what I did was a crime, a State prison offence! State prison? Bah! the idea is absurd, I shall get the money some way. I will not think of it. It annoys me, too, to have Lizzie under the same roof. I have avoided her so far, but—oh! I will go and get a glass of whiskey and forget it all.
(Enter Lizzie, L. U. E. She gives a startled exclamation.)
Eug. What are you doing here?
Liz. (up L.). I came to look for Miss Kate; they said she was in the library. Heaven knows I would not have come had I known you were here!
Eug. Now, Lizzie, what is the use of making such a fuss about nothing? Because we had a jolly little flirtation once, it is no reason why we should go into heroics now, is it? Come, let us be friends, Lizzie.
Liz. (coming down L.). Friends with you, who broke my heart?
Eug. Nonsense! broken hearts went out of fashion years ago. There, forgive me, Lizzie, but what is the use of taking things so seriously? Life was never made to be taken seriously.
Liz. Perhaps not for you, but for those who have hearts life is indeed serious.
Eug. I know it’s a way women have to make themselves miserable, if they can. Now be sensible. Suppose we were awful spoons once; it was very pleasant while it lasted, but, of course, it could not last forever.
Liz. And why?
Eug. Why? Do summer flirtations ever last? Certainly not.
Liz. But you said you never could be happy without me, that some day I should be your wife.
Eug. By Jove! was I so far gone as all that? Well, I did like you amazingly, Lizzie, but, of course, that was mere talk.
Liz. (looking at him earnestly and moving towards him). You did not mean it when you asked me to be your wife?
Eug. Of course not, and I did not suppose you thought I did.
Liz. (C.). And you call yourself a man, you who thus trifled with the heart of an innocent girl who loved you! Then if you are a type of a man, I thank heaven I am a woman.
Eug. Now, Lizzie, don’t get mad. I did not mean any harm, ‘pon my word I didn’t. (Aside.) By Jove, I believe I did treat the little girl confounded mean.
Liz. I loved not you, but the man I dreamed you were. You I despise.
Eug. Lizzie, I am sorry it ever happened. You see, I am a thoughtless kind of a fellow. I—I—have done a great many things I ought not. (Tries to take her hand.)
Liz. (C., repulsing him). Then cultivate a different disposition in amends for the past and to save yourself from ruin, to which thoughtlessness is too often a guide. (Goes up R.)
Eug. (L.). ‘Pon my word, I—I believe I will try.
(Enter Mr. Grovenor, R. 1 E., hastily, with paper clutched in his hand.)
Mr. G. This—this is a forgery, and you, Eugene, do you—do you know—was it—can it have been you?
Eug. (L., aside). Heaven! that note to-day! I thought it was to-morrow. What shall I do?
Mr. G. (C.). Answer and contradict if you can the guilt I see in your face.
Eug. Father, forgive me. It was a debt of honor and I hoped to be able to pay the note before it came due. I—
Mr. G. Then it was you, my son. My curse upon you, ungrateful and miserable son. Go—to a prison. I will have no mercy on you.
(Lizzie screams and comes down R.)
Eug. Oh! a prison! (Staggers to R., and falls into chair. Lizzie leans over him.)
Mr. G. Yes, a prison, and rot there. You have ruined me; do you hear, ruined me! What have I done that I should be the father of a son like this? A forger and a—(Staggers.) Ah, my head! how it burns! What was I saying? Mercy! I will have no mercy! Where is Kate? (Rings bell over desk furiously.) Yes, ruined! ruined!
(Enter Mrs. Grovenor and Alice, L. U. E.)
Alice (L. C.). Father, what is the matter?
Mrs. G. (L.). What can I do? Are you ill? Speak to me.
Mr. G. (raving). Yes, you have ruined me. (Enter Kate, L. U. E.) Who will pay these bills? I am ill, dying, dishonored; no one will straighten out my affairs. My son—no. I have no son. I—who will, who can help, save me? (Falls, C. Kate comes down L. C., kneels and puts her arms around him.)
Kate. Your daughter, father! (Slow music.)
Eugene in chair. Lizzie bending over him, R. Mr. Grovenor on floor. Kate kneeling beside him, C. Alice weeping, with arms around her mother, L.
Scene—Same as First Act. Mrs. Grovenor, sitting on sofa, R. Alice, chair, L. Dr. Endicott, R., at table, discovered.
Mrs. G. Thank heaven, my husband is in his right mind once more, and after heaven we must thank you, doctor.
Dr. E. I have done all I could, and I am happy to have been so successful.
Mrs. G. But since he has recovered his senses, his business affairs are worrying him. Would it not be better to explain everything?
Dr. E. Yes, I think it will do to speak to-day, and, as a change of scene will be beneficial, get him up in his easy-chair and out here, if possible.
Mrs. G. And Eugene, that unhappy boy.
Dr. E. I doubt not this experience will be the needed one to arouse him to better things. You had best leave him to Kate.
Mrs. G. Yes, I suppose so. Alas! I fear I have been much to blame for what has happened. I was too ignorant and helpless to be a wise mother. Dear Kate, what should we have done without her? (Rising.) But I must now go to my husband, who needs me every moment. I will follow your directions, doctor. (Exit, L. 2 E.)
Dr. E. I am sorry to see you looking pale, Miss Alice, I hope you are not going to be ill also?
Alice. Oh, no! I have been anxious about father.
Dr. E. But now all occasion for anxiety has passed.
Alice. Yes, and now I am to confess the truth somewhat out of sorts with myself.
Dr. E. That is unfortunate, as we cannot easily get away from ourselves.
Alice. Too true.
(Enter Doughlass, C.)
Doug. (coming L. of table). Aw—good afternoon, doctor. I thought I would come to take you out to wide, Alice.
Alice (pettishly). Why, you have been here once to-day.
Doug. Aw—yes—you cannot complain that I am not devoted, you know!
Alice (aside). I wish I could. (Aloud.) Well, I suppose I may as well go out to ride as anything else. (Rising.)
Doug. That is right; get your hat and we will go at once. (Alice, exit, L. 2 E.) You see I like to have her go out to wide, for it makes the fellows all envy me, you know. Alice is a devilish handsome girl, now, isn’t she, doctor?
Dr. E. Very handsome indeed.
Doug. Yes—aw—and it’s weally wough on a fellow, you know, to have to pay his attentions in a lunatic asylum.
Dr. E. A lunatic asylum!
Doug. Aw—yes—that is all I could think of whenever I have come here for the last two weeks, what with the old man waving wound, Eugene moping and tearing his hair, and Miss Kate having everything all her own way.
Dr. E. Her father has cause to be thankful that his daughter does have everything her own way, at last. (Rises.)
Doug. You surprise me. Aw—I have no doubt my—aw—future sister-in-law is a very smart woman, you know, but you see a fellow is afwaid of these smart women.
(Enter Alice, L. 2 E., with hat, etc.)
Alice. Yes, it makes things too unequal, no doubt.
Doug. Aw—pwecisely. (Aside.) What the deuce does she mean? (Aloud.) Aw—if you are weady, my dear, we will bid the doctor good by.
Alice. Ah, yes. We will go. (Aside, as they go up.) I will teach him something about a woman’s smartness after we are married. (Exit with Doughlass, C.)
Dr. E. (R., looking after them). Poor foolish couple! I pity you both. She is marrying him for his money, and he her for her good looks. And good looks fade, and money is powerless to satisfy the cravings of the heart, and then, what? (Enter Jim, C.) Well, Jim?
Jim. If you please, sir, will you want the carriage?
Dr. E. Not yet. By the by, Jim, have you fixed everything all right with Jennie?
Jim. Not—not exactly, sir. To tell the truth (comes down L.), she has been going on worse than ever since the master has been sick, and Miss Kate has been, as it were, the head of the family. “There’s a woman for you!” says Jennie, “and do you dare tell me you have any business to go and vote and Miss Kate stay at home?” says Jennie, and what can I say, sir? It’s not for me to set myself up above Miss Kate!
Dr. E. Poor Jim! Your love matters really do not glide along very smoothly. But they never do, Jim (sighing), they never do.
Jim. You’re very right, sir. To be in love is the most wearing thing I know of.
Dr. E. I fear Jennie is a sad tease.
Jim. Tease, sir! Why, she even teases me in my dreams!
Dr. E. Then if she makes you so unhappy, why not give up all thoughts of her, and—
Jim. Give up all thoughts of Jennie! Never, sir! Why, I had rather be made that miserable that I am reduced to walking about in my bones than give up Jennie. No, sir! It’s a curious fact. (Enter Jennie, C.) A strange weakness in the composition of a man is that the more unhappy a woman makes him the better he likes her!
Jen. (coming down, C.). You don’t say so!
Jim. Gracious Peter! I have done it now!
Jen. Yes, you are caught in a confession of great weakness!
Jim. I—I—take it all back.
Jen. You can’t; it’s boarded.
Dr. E. Right, Jennie. But what is this I hear about you?
Jen. (confused). About me, sir?
Dr. E. Yes, about your great aversion to our unfortunate sex?
Jen. Lor, sir, I don’t know. I suppose Jim has been telling you some nonsense or other! (Turns and makes face at Jim.)
Jim. No, I haven’t, Jennie, upon my soul I haven’t. I only told him what you said about a man being inferior to a woman, that’s all.
Jen. Oh! that was all, was it? Well, Mr. Jim, you are a smart young man, you are! And besides, I never said anything of the kind. The fact is, doctor, I expressed my sentiments to him, that’s all.
Dr. E. And may I inquire what those sentiments are?
Jen. Oh! it’s only that I don’t believe in getting married and being made a slave of and perhaps beat and told you don’t know anything because you are a woman: those are the sentiments he objects to, sir.
Jim. Good gracious, Jennie! Did I ever do any such thing?
Jen. Of course not; you never had a chance.
Dr. E. But really, my good girl, I do not believe you think in your heart quite so meanly of Jim as your words would signify. In your zeal for your own sex, do not be unjust to ours, for remember that is the very thing you condemn in us. (Exit, C.)
Jen. (half crying). Well, Jim, I don’t see what on earth you wanted to go and make me out so horrid to the doctor for. Just because I think a good deal of his opinion, I suppose.
Jim. There, now! oh, dear! how you do fly off, to be sure. Make you out horrid? I, who would think you was perfect if you would only let up a little once in a while on me about your rights.
Jen. Yes, and you went and made the doctor think that I not only wanted my rights, which I do, but yours, too, which I don’t.
Jim. You don’t? I’m sure I thought you did.
Jen. (stamping foot). Oh! is there anything in the world so stupid as a man?
Jim. Stupid! I have a good mind to get mad.
Jen. (turning her back to him). I would if I were you.
Jim. Well, I— (Goes up C., then returns.) No, I can’t get mad with you, Jennie. But won’t you please just remember how you went on about the tyranny of the sex, and all that sort of thing, and then don’t blame me if I thought you wanted to tyrannize a little. I am sure that wasn’t stupid.
Jen. It was absurd, then. I only want my share, that’s all.
Jim. Is that all? Oh, Jennie (gets down on knees), if you will only marry me, you shall have your share, yes, and a little more.
Jen. My share of being trampled on, do you mean?
Jim. Who said anything about being trampled on? Well, your share of trampling, if you must have it.
Jen. I think it is just awful of you to say that I am a tyrant.
Jim (jumping up). Good gracious, there you go again! How you do fly off. When did I ever say any such thing?
Jen. Well, Jim, supposing—just supposing, you know—that I should make up my mind to marry you—
Jim. Oh, Jennie! If you only would. The very idea makes me so happy, I—I could jump way to the ceiling.
(Holds out arms to embrace her, she runs under them.)
Jen. Could you? Well, don’t be in too much of a hurry, because it might hurt you when you came down, for you know I was only supposing.
Jim. Jennie, do you want to see me pine to a shadow and blow away with love? I can’t stand this sort of thing any longer. I will go away to California, that’s what I will do!
Jen. (coquettishly). But, Jim, don’t you think you had better wait until I get through supposing?
Jim. Wait! I will wait until I am bald if you will only promise to have me then.
Jen. Dear me, I shouldn’t want you then. In fact, I couldn’t think of having you any way, if I thought you would ever be bald!
Jim (very fast). Oh, I never shall; no, indeed, we are not a bald family, there never was a bald man in it, the babies are all born with thick heads of hair. One of the family was scalped once, to be sure, but it was accidental, and his hair all grew out again in a few days. Look at mine. (Sticks it up.)
Jen. (screams). Oh, don’t! Nature has made you homely enough without your trying to help her.
Jim. But I only wanted to settle this bald question forever. And now, Jennie, won’t you go on supposing?
Jen. Well, supposing I should marry you some time, would you find a minister who was willing to leave “obey” out of the marriage service?
Jim. If there is one in America I’ll find him. For I shouldn’t want to make you swear to a lie, Jennie.
Jen. And then would you respect my rights and acknowledge equal rights for both of us?
Jim. Of course, your rights and equal rights,—principally your rights.
Jen. Well, then, perhaps—but wait a moment; if there should ever be a balance over equal rights, it must come on my side, must it not? Because a man is apt to misuse his power, you know.
Jim (going near her). You shall have all the balances.
Jen. (edging away). I don’t know but you are almost too willing.
Jim. Now she is off on another tack. What can a man do?
Jen. However, I can get a divorce if you don’t keep your word, so, as you are a pretty good fellow, Jim, I think I will condescend to try you as a husband.
Jim. Hurrah! (Embraces her.) But about this condescending—
Jen. That is one of the balances, Jim.
Jim. Oh, well! (Kisses her and is about to repeat when she stops him.)
Jen. No, Jim. Equal rights. I must give you half, you know. (Kisses him and runs off, C.)
Jim. Equal rights ain’t so bad, after all. (Goes after Jennie and runs against Eugene, who enters moodily, C.) I beg pardon, sir, but I am so equal—happy. (Exit, C.)
Eug. What is the matter with Jim? Happy! Well, I am glad some one is. I never shall be again. This is what my cursed easy disposition has brought me to. I have ruined myself and almost killed my father. If it was not for Kate I would blow my brains out—if I have any. (Sits dejectedly, R.)
(Enter Lizzie, C.)
Eug. Lizzie, is it you? (Aside.) I am ashamed to look her in the face.
Liz. I have been trying to see you ever since that—that trouble, but I never have been able to find you alone. I thought perhaps it might be some little comfort to you to know that I sympathized with and pitied you, and that I had faith enough in you to believe you would redeem the past.
Eug. (starting up). These words to me from you? Oh, Lizzie, I am a miserable wretch.
Liz. You have been gay, careless, reckless, but oh, I cannot believe you wholly bad. My share in your thoughtless past I freely forgive. I wanted to tell you this, and say I hope in the future to see you worthy the esteem of every one.
Eug. I dare not hope that, Lizzie.
Liz. But you will try?
Eug. Oh, yes! I shall try. But my father,—he will surely never forgive me, will banish me from his house.
Liz. Not if you tell him how penitent you are.
Eug. He has not a heart like yours, Lizzie.
Liz. But Kate will intercede for you.
Eug. Kate, heaven bless her, I know she will. What has she not done for me already? And to think that I once set myself up as so far above her, and plumed myself on being a lord of creation,—I, a poor, weak fool, not worthy to touch the hem of her garment.
Liz. Those words prove to me that you are no longer the Eugene you were.
Eug. I hope, I trust not. As you say, I did not mean to be really bad. I was inexperienced, thoughtless, eager for the pleasures of life, and I never stopped to think of consequences. How could you have loved me—for you did love me once, Lizzie?
Liz. It was your best side you showed me, Eugene.
Eug. At first, yes; but I showed you my worst afterwards.
Liz. The flaws in her idol cannot kill a woman’s love.
Eug. Lizzie, I did not mean to break your heart. Do you believe me?
Liz. I do; and, as I said, forgive you freely.
Eug. For the first time I begin to realize the happiness that might have been mine, the value of the heart I threw away.
Liz. The heart that has always been yours, Eugene.
Eug. (taking her hand). Mine! Mine now! What! Do you mean to say that you love me now, ruined and disgraced as I am, soon perhaps to be driven from my father’s door, and go forth into the world penniless and alone?
Liz. How little you know of woman’s love! Think you it endures only through the bright summer days of sunshine? No, Eugene. In the time of darkness and sorrow a woman’s love never fails.
Eug. And would you share my fate now?
Liz. Would I? Oh, how gladly! But you forget, I am a poor girl, a seamstress in your mother’s house, and—
Eug. I would indeed be unworthy of the blessing of your love should I think of that. Lizzie, your love shall raise me from the depths into which I have fallen. (Embraces her as Kate enters, C.)
Kate. Eugene! Lizzie!
Eug. (R. C.). Do not misapprehend, Kate. Let me explain before you judge.
Kate (coming down L.). Go on.
Liz. (aside, R.). Dare I hope she will approve?
Eug. Lizzie and I met—a year ago!
Kate. What! is it possible!
Liz. Do you not remember, I told you all the first day I came to your house?
Kate. What do you say? Do you mean (staggers back against table for support)—can it be that it was to him—to Eugene that you then referred?
Liz. To whom else? It was of course Eugene.
Kate. Eugene! Oh, what a cruel mistake! Oh, what a wrong I have done a noble man! Heaven forgive me!
Eug. (going to her). Dear Kate, what is the matter? what do you mean?
Kate. Do not ask me; dear, forget what I have said. It is all right now—yes! all right now! Eugene—Lizzie—you do not need tell me anymore. I understand (joins their hands); I am very glad, and now will you please leave me? I—I would like to be alone.
Liz. You are not offended?
Kate. Offended? no indeed, child. I am sure you have both acted for the best.
Eug. Dear Kate, with the help of my sister and my wife, I hope I may one day be what I once thought I was—a man! (Exit, C., with Lizzie, who comes back to kiss Kate, then exit.)
Kate. Can it be true? Has the heavy load that has lain on my heart, at the bottom of all the other loads that have lain there of late, really gone? Yes—gone—all gone! Will he, can he forgive me? I must see him at once! (Rings bell.) How could I for a moment mistrust him?
(Enter Jennie, C.)
Kate. Please ask Dr. Endicott to come here.
Jen. Yes’m. (Aside.) They two would make another nice equal-rights couple. (Exit, C.)
Kate. What shall I say to him? Oh! if they could see me tremble, they would no longer call me “strong-minded.”
(Enter Dr. Endicott, C.)
Dr. E. You sent for me, Kate? At last we meet alone!
Kate. Yes, I sent for you to say, forgive me!
Dr. E. Forgive you! For refusing me an explanation, do you mean?
Kate. For ever having doubted you. Oh! how can I say how bitterly I have wronged you?
Dr. E. Wronged me? and how? Do not fear: tell me all. Whatever it may be, it is forgiven.
Kate. I doubted you. It seems impossible now that I could have done so, but I did; circumstances caused me to lay the wrong-doing of another at your door.
Dr. E. If the cloud that has been between us so long has gone, I am too thankful to give anything else a second thought. So ask me not to forgive you, but rather let me ask you if you love me?
Kate. I love and honor you with all my heart.
Dr. E. As I do you. (Embraces her.)
Kate. And please heaven our home shall be a happy one, if I am strong-minded!
Dr. E. Because you are strong-minded, dear. And now we must prepare to relieve your father’s mind of the anxiety that is growing greater every moment. Hark! they are bringing him in.
(Mr. Grovenor is pushed in on chair by Mrs. Grovenor and Jennie, C. Jennie immediately exits, C. Mrs. Grovenor goes to L.)
Kate (going R. of him). Dear father, I am so happy to see you out of your room once more.
Mr. G. Thank you, Kate. I—I hope to get back to business again soon.
Dr. E. (L. of Mr. G.). Do not give yourself any uneasiness about your business. That has gone on well.
Mr. G. No, no, that cannot be. I remember—
Dr. E. That you were on the verge of ruin. But the crisis has passed, and now all is well.
Mr. G. But—Brown’s note.
Dr. E. Brown has given you three months’ time.
Mr. G. Strange—oh! but Eugene—
Dr. E. That note has been paid.
Mr. G. Paid! can it be? But how, who has done all this—you, doctor?
Dr. E. Not I, but one nearer and dearer, one more deserving of your thanks—your daughter. (Indicates Kate to him, who is leaning over his chair.)
Mr. G. What, my daughter! You, Kate, have done this?
Kate (coming around to his side, R.). Yes, dear father, my woman’s wit has been equal to the occasion. I saw Brown myself. I had saved up a little money for the purpose of some day using in studying art, and with that I settled Eugene’s debts. I have taken your place in the business as far as with my limited knowledge I could. So do not worry any more, dear father.
Mr. G. Ah! my daughter, how foolish, how blind I have been! But the scales have fallen from my eyes at last, and I thank God for the great gift of my daughter. (Embraces Kate.)
(Enter Eugene and Lizzie, C. Eugene goes and kneels before Mr.Grovenor. Lizzie stops up stage.)
Eug. Father, can you overlook what has passed and let me try once more?
Mr. G. My boy, I have erred too much myself to condemn you. We will both redeem the past. (Lays hand on his head.)
Eug. Father, your confidence will not, shall not be misplaced.
Kate (bringing down Lizzie, R.). And now, father, give your blessing, will you not, on his union with one who has long loved him, and who will help him to keep his word?
Mr. G. What! He wishes to marry Lizzie!
Kate. Yes, father, and she will make him a good wife.
Mr. G. (taking Lizzie’s hand). Let me look at you. You have a good, sweet face, child. Away with all false ideas of caste. Help my son to overcome his past errors and I will love you always. (Lizzie kneels at Eugene’s side and he joins their hands.)
Eug. (rising and taking Lizzie L. to Mrs. Grovenor). And you, mother, do you consent?
Mrs. G. I will confess that once I might have said no, but now—now—now that I realize how false have been so many of my ideas, I dare trust myself only to say, may you be happy. (Goes back of Mr. Grovenor’s chair, leaning over it.)
(Enter Doughlass and Alice, followed by Jim and Jennie, C.)
Doug. (R.). Aw—quite a family gathering, I declare.
Alice. We are just in time to complete the circle.
Dr. E. (R. of Mr. Grovenor’s chair with Kate). And now, Mr. Grovenor, will you give your blessing? For Kate has promised to be my wife.
Mrs. G. My dear Kate.
Alice. Can it be?
Doug. (aside). Going to mawwy the strong-minded one? Good gracious!
Mr. G. Doctor, you have won a pearl of great price, but you are worthy of it. Heaven bless you both.
Alice (aside). My ideas have been all wrong, but my fate is fixed now.
Jim (coming down L. with Jennie). If you please, now, there is so much being said about getting married, I would like to mention that Jennie and I are going to get married, too.
Jen. On equal rights.
Dr. E. Equal rights to all.
Kate. And I wish to every woman in the land might come equal rights, independence, and last, but not least, love.
Alice, Doughlass, R. Kate, Dr. Endicott, R. C.; Mr. Grovenor in chair C.; Mrs. Grovenor at back of chair; Eugene, Lizzie, L. C.; Jim, Jennie, L.