Contents I II
in New York on a cold evening in March, a year and a half later. On the
left a black table with a reading lamp and a confused mass of books
and pamphlets on it. Farther back a large bay-window looking out over
the street, with a comfortable window-seat piled up with faded cushions.
In the corner a number of frames
for paintings stacked up against the wall. Before them a divan with a
dark red cover. The far side of the
room is hidden by a profusion of paintings
of all sizes and subjects.
There are nudes and landscapes, portraits and seascapes; also a number of
small prints of old masters filling up the smaller wall spaces. Two long, low book cases,
with a piano between them take up all the lower space. On the right of
the studio a kitchenette hidden by a
partition six feet high covered over with green burlap. In the
foreground a doorway leading in to the kitchenette. Over the doorway a
curtain of green material. In the front of the
partition and helping to conceal it, another book case. In the far,
right-hand corner where the partition ends is a small hallway leading to
the outer door.
Babe Carter, and Steve Harrington are discovered fussing around the
studio trying to get things in order. Carter is a broad-shouldered giant
with a mop of blond
hair and a feeble attempt at a blond mustache. He has large deep-set,
blue eyes and fine, handsome features. His voice is a deep bass and his
laugh a marvel of heartiness. His coat is of and
he appears in a white soft shirt and khaki trousers. Harrington is a
tall slender fellow of about twenty-eight, with large, irregular
features, light brown hair, and brown eyes set far apart. He is dressed
in a black suit and wears a white shirt with a soft collar and a bow
tie. His manner is reserved and quiet, but when he does speak his voice
is low and pleasing. John has on a heavy, grey overcoat and a green felt
hat. He has aged considerably,
and there are lines
of worry about his eyes.
His face has an unhealthy city
pallor, and he seems very nervous.
rather disabled-looking Morris-chairs are on either side of the
table. Several rocking chairs are placed nearby. The rest of the
floor space is occupied by a model stand of dark
wood and a huge easel on which a half-finished painting is clamped.
There is a large skylight in the middle of the ceiling which sheds the
glow from the lights of the city down in a sort of faint
half-light. The reading lamp on the table, connected by a tube with a
gas jet on the wall above, and another gas-jet near the piano furnish
the only light.
Time for me to be going. I've
got to meet him at 7.30 at the hotel. I'll bring
him right over.
I'll away to Bridgetown by that 8.30
train. It'll be just as well
for you if your father doesn't meet me; and I'll have a better chance of
seeing Bessie now that he's out of town.
you know you've got my best wishes. I hope you win.
I wish more of your family could say the same.
my love to Maudie if you see her. (He
stops at the
door.) Remember I won't be
long, not more than half an hour at most, and if you want t0 get away
without meeting father, you better hurry.
worry. I won't be here—not
on your life! (John
old pants off
the nearest divan) What'll
I do with these?
Must be Ted's—in
under the couch with them! We'll teach him the first principles of
man Brown would sure think these neglected pants a sign of our radical
mode of life. In under the couch with them you say? All right—only
they happen to be yours.
Hold! (goes over to Babe
and gets them)
principles of neatness, you know.
the pants over
the partition into the
kitchenette) I wouldn't
have these pants treated with indignity for worlds. Have you no respect
for old age? (He looks Babe
up and down with a critical
I wonder at you! Are you going a'courting in those? (indicates
Babes trousers) They'll
lock you in the Bridgetown jail and throw away the key.
I suppose I'd better change. (He
goes into the
kitchenette and can be heard pulling
out the drawers of a
dresser.) I'll sacrifice my
pants to small-town respectability, but I wish to state right here that
my soft shirt stays on. My collars have gotten so small for me I nearly
commit suicide every time I put one on. Look! (He
appears in the doorway with
the offending collars clutched around his neck. His flesh bulges out
over it. Steve laughs, and sits down in one of the chairs near the
visit of old Browns promises to be stormy, if his letters to John are
the partition) I'm sure
glad my folks are located so far out in the wild and wooly they can't
come to visit. Although I don't think they'd be shocked any—more
liable to be disappointed. From my kid brother's letters I gather he
believes we maintain a large harem full of beautiful models with names
like Suzette and Mimi. You can judge for yourself how the study of art
has begun to fascinate him. He's been reading some Iowa school teachers
romance of Paris Latin Quarter life, I guess. I've tried to disillusion
him the only naughty models nowadays were cloak and suit models—but
what's the use? He thinks I'm stalling—says
I shouldn't try to hog all the artistic temperament of the family. (Steve
laughs.) But I reckon
Pop'll keep him out on the ranch. The kid's talents run more to branding
cattle than to painting them, and Pop considers one artist in the family
enough. (He comes out of the kitchenette and sits down near Steve.) They
all think I'm going to be the greatest artist in the world, and they're
willing to stake me to all they've got. If I didn't have confidence of
getting somewhere, I'd have quit long ago. But how do I look? (He
gets up and turns slowly around for inspection. He has changed to
creaseless, baggy, dark pants and a wrinkled coat matching them.)
eyeing him) O feebleness
the true artist sees beauty even in the commonest things. (a
pause) Appreciation isn't
one of your long points, I see. (He
sits down again.)
patience. I was just about to say you resembled an enlarged edition of
You're sure you didn't mean distorted?
forbid! Candidly, you look surprisingly respectable.
respectable, as Ted would say. By the way, where's Ted?
Don't you know? Then let me tell you the astounding news. You know how
despairfully he has wailed
about his having to seek a reporting job if something didn't turn up
soon. Well, he got a check today—sold
one of his stories.
verily; incredible to relate, it is true. You remember that blood-soaked
detective yarn of his—the
one where the lady's husband strangles her with a piece of barbwire and
hides her head in the piano. (Babe
groans.) That's the
one. The New Magazine bought it and sent Ted a check for fifty large
festive occasion! I suppose he's now out shooting up the town. I think
we better prepare the net and straight jacket.
won't be in till God knows when—maybe
not at all. (A knock
at the door is heard.)
couldn't have got over that quick. (He
hides in the
of the Art School, comes slowly
into the room.
He is a slight,
man of sixty or more with
a mass of
wavy white hair and a white mustache and
imperial. His keen, black eyes peer kindly out of his lean ascetic face. He
is dressed entirely in black
with a white shirt and collar
and a black Windsor
tic. There is
a distinct foreign atmosphere about
speaks English without a
trace of an accent.)
with a little bow) Good evening, gentlemen.
out again) Won't you sit down?
a chair near them) Thank you. (with
a slight smile) Would it be rude of me to remark upon the unusual
neatness of the studio?
of the occupants of the studio?
did not say that, but since you mention it—
expecting visitors, or, I should say, a visitor, the father of your
worthy pupil, John.
(with a troubled
type of a man is his father?
never met him but Babe knows him quite well.
spent several vacations at their home when we were in college together;
you know I live so far out West I never could make the trip. Old man
Brown is a common enough type, but I'm afraid he's not the kind of man
you have much sympathy for. He's a hardware merchant with a large
family, moderately rich, self-made, hard-headed, and with absolutely not
the faintest appreciation of Art in any form.
thought it would be so.
read a number of his letters to John and they were impossible. He wanted
him to study law, you know. He's sorry now he didn't compel him to do
so; says he's wasting time and money down here. As for the family I
believe the height of their ambition was to see John making fashion-plates
and pretty girls at so much per page, and they're all disappointed
because he doesn't move in that direction.
All but Bess; she encourages him to go ahead.
it is well he has someone, poor boy. Who is she,—his
No, his sister; but suspected of being another artists fiancée. (He
looks pointedly at Babe whose face reddens.)
patting Babe's knee with his
hand) I am indeed glad to
have more than hopes or you would not—hope.
But have I not heard somewhere that John is engaged to be married?
met her. Don't you remember one Sunday last winter we had sort of a tea
here, and John introduced you to a girl,—a
very pretty girl with golden-brown hair? The tea was in her honor. You
only glanced in for a moment.
detest teas and never go to one; that is why I remember yours so
distinctly; you all looked so out of place. Surely you cannot mean the
girl who was so shocked at all your nudes—and
You have guessed it.
a comic groan) That doll-face! How could she understand? Oh, how
blind is love!
is evidently very much in love with John. She, at least, tries to
understand, and if she can't it's hardly her fault, with all her
environment and bringing-up to fight against.
his family are determined they won't understand.
Dieu, but our friend John seems to have a hard fight before him. It is
too bad. Never in my long experience as teacher have I met a young man
who gave finer promise of becoming a great artist—and
I have taught many who are on the heights today. He has the soul, he has
everything. (passionately) And behold these worshipers of the
golden calf, these muddy souls, will exert all their power to hold him
to their own level. (shakes
his head sadly) And I am
afraid they may succeed if, as you say, he loves one of them. He is not
one of the strong ones who can fight against discouragement and lack of
appreciation through long years of struggle. He is all-too-sensitive and
finely-keyed. I have noticed of late how his work has fallen off. It is
as if the life and vigour had departed from it. His mind has not been
able to joyfully concentrate on the Art he loves.
effect of the girl's letters, no doubt. She urged him to return home and
do his painting there.
does not know how much he has yet to learn.
people would soon nag all the art out of him up there. But I don't agree
with you about John being as weak as you think. He's got the grit. If
his old man does stop the money he can get some work here in town,—something
to keep him alive, at any rate, while he goes on with his painting.
can he do in a money making way?
a pause) I can't think of anything. He's always been so unpractical,—even
more so than most of us.
you are! That means the best he can hope for is drudgery. He'll be able
to keep alive; but he won't paint. I tried it before my father died, and
I know; and I'm a good deal less sensitive than John and a lot more fit
for business and other abominations. In my younger days those things
were forced on me; I had to learn something about them.
are right. In John's case the thing would be a tragedy; and he is so
worthy of surviving!
we think of something to do to help him? Of course, in a money way it's
impossible, and even if it weren't he'd never accept, but—
see. It wouldn't be the slightest use for me to say anything to the old
man; but you (turning
to Grammont) might be able
to convince him of John's future and persuade him to keep his hands off
for a while.
will be more than glad to try if you think it might benefit John in any
way; but I fear you overestimate my ability as mediator. I do not know
how to talk to that class of people.
will do no harm to try.
I will do my utmost.
the stuff! We'll pull him out of the hole yet.
do you expect them?
ought to be here in five or ten minutes now.
I will leave you. (He
goes toward door.) You will
let me know when the propitious time comes?
coming to your studio as soon as they arrive; want to give them a chance
to argue it all out themselves. After a time we'll come back and I'll
take John away and leave you alone with the terrible parent.
poor Old Master! He's as much worried as if John were his own son.
would be a God's blessing for John if the Old Master were his father
instead of the present incumbent. Why is it fine things like that never
goes into the kitchenette and returns wearing a dark overcoat and derby
hat and carrying a suit case.) Even
Brown! Isn't that the hell of a name for an artist? Look better at the
top of a grocery store than on the bottom of a painting. The only thing
in the Book of Fame about a John Brown is that his body lies moldering
in the grave,—nice
You can't complain of lacking a famous Carter. Everyone's heard of Nick.
all through college I just escaped that nick-name.
book as if to hurl it
at Babe's head) Was that
realizes and bursts into
a roar of laughter.)
No, on the level, I never
thought of it. I humbly beg your pardon. All the same, that's some pun
and I won't forget it.
bet you won't; and you'll not let anyone else forget it either.
was a toss-up whether Nick should be wished on me or not; but I was so
big, fat, ugly, and awkward when at prep. school, they just couldn't
resist the temptation of "Babe". So Babe I've been ever since.
(a pause during which he chuckles to himself and Steve grins at him)
Well, I'm off. (He goes toward door.)
Nick-name, eh? Oh, I guess
that's rotten. (He shakes
up! Oh, but you're the subtle humorist. Look out you don't run into
me to hide if I see old Brown. So long!
luck! (Babe goes out. Steve sits for a while reading. Presently a rap on the
door is heard. Steve gets up and walks toward it as Brown and John
enter. Brown seems a little leaner and his lips are
stern and unsmiling. He
wears a black derby hat and heavy black overcoat.)
haven't met Mr. Harrington, have you, Father? He's the only one you
don't know. (Steve
and Brown shake hands and murmur
excuse me, I hope? I was just going over to Grammont's studio when you
came in. I'll be back later.
Hope I'm not driving you away.
not at all. (He goes out. John takes off
coat and hat, helps father off
with his things and
puts them on the window-seat. He and father take chairs near the table.)
glad that other fellow isn't here.
Babe is my best friend.
you hear what I have to tell you about that same Carter, I think you'll
agree with me, the less you have to do with him in future the better.
has done nothing dishonorable, I know.
all depends on what you artists understand by honor. Do you know what
your so-called friend has been doing? He's been coming to Bridgetown and
meeting Bessie on the sly. I found out about it and spoke to her last
evening. She as much as told me to mind my own business, and said she
intended to marry this Carter. I lost my temper and informed her that if
she married that loafer I'd have nothing more to do with her. What do
think she did? Packed up her things and left the house,—yes,
in spite of all your mother could say—and
went to the hotel and got a room.
Good for Bess!
I to infer from that remark that you approve of her conduct?
course, I approve of it. I've known about it all along. Babe told me
every time he went up and I wished him luck. If they met secretly, it's
all your own fault. You told Bessie you didn't want him in the house.
She loves him. What could she do.
Let's have none of that romantic piffle. I've heard enough of it from
must be true to herself. Her duty to herself stands before her duty to
all control and
pounding on the arm of his chair with
Rot! Damned rot! only believed
by a lot of crazy Socialists and Anarchists. What is a father for I'd
like to know?
I suppose, when a man is a
willing party to bringing children into the world, he takes upon himself
the responsibility of doing all in his power to further their happiness.
isn't that what I'm doing?
not! You consider your children to be your
possessions, your property, to belong to you. You don't think of them as
individuals with ideas and desires of their own. It's for you to find
out the highest hope of each of them and give it your help and sympathy.
Are you doing this in Bessie's case? No, you're trying to substitute a
desire of your own which you think would benefit her in a worldly way.
Bessie has no experience with the world. Would you like me to stand by
and see her ruin her life, and not do my best to protect her?
will you harp on her ruining her life? If she marries Babe, they are
both to be congratulated. Bess is a great girl and Babe is as fine and
clean a fellow as ever lived. You are angry because you planned to marry
her to someone else. Why not be frank about it?
I don't want her to be tied to a penniless adventurer. It's true Mr.
Arnold asked her to marry him, and that I fully approved. I still hope
she'll marry him. He's an established man with plenty of money and
his feet) And forty years old,—a fool with a rotten past behind him, as you know.
BROWN—That's all talk. He was a bit wild, that's all; and that was years ago.
never marry him.
if she marries that scamp Carter, she's left my home for good.
you treat her this way she'll not have many regrets; but let's drop the
subject. You didn't come down to consult me about Bess, did you?
should say not. I knew only too well whose side you would take. I came
down to tell you we've all decided it's high time you gave up this art
foolishness, and came home and settled down to work. I spoke with Mr.
Steele about you, and he said there's a good position open for you in
his store. He's an old man with no children except Maud, and you'd
naturally be at the head of the business after his death. He's willing
to give Maud a nice home as a wedding present, and you'll be able to get
married right away. (Brown's
manner becomes more and more kindly and persuasive.) Come,
is that no inducement? And I'll do the best I can for you on
wedding day. You ought to consider Maud a little. She's up there waiting
for you while you idle away your time on a hobby.
Good God, can't you understand me better than that? (frenziedly)
painting, painting, painting, can't you see?
it's about time you showed some promise of making some money at it if
you intend to marry and have children. Look at the future, boy! You
can't go on this way forever. Steele and I thought you'd be selling your
things long before this or I'd never have let you come. You're wasting
time at something you're not fitted for, it seems to me. You've been
here a year and a half, and you're right where you started. (John
not answer but sits down on
the window-seat and looks down at the street. Brown
up, puts on his glasses,
to the far wall
to look at
the paintings. He speaks
tones of wondering
Who painted this? (pointing to an
impressionistic painting of a nude dancer)
ought to be ashamed to acknowledge it. What decent family would ever
hang that up in their house? No wonder you can't sell anything if your
fancies run that way. I'm glad to see you didn't finish it.
never know it. She's an awful rough looking female. That's
Impressionism, I suppose. Rot! Damned rot! I suppose she came here and
begin to see there may be other attractions in this career of your's
besides a lofty ideal.
at the insinuation in
his father's voice) What
do you mean?
don't be so indignant. You wouldn't be my son if you were an angel. (comes
chair again) But
there's a time for all that and I think you ought to settle down,—for
Maud's sake anyway. This atmosphere isn't doing you any good, and you
need the clean, Bridgetown air to set you right again, mentally and
physically. You've changed a lot since you left, and I'm only telling
the truth when I say it hasn't been for the good. This big city game is a
tough for you when you've got such advantages at home. (John
stares despondently at the floor.) I
saw Maud just before I left. She said to me: "Don't tell John I
said so but do try to bring him home."
You can't understand. (A sound
of singing from the hall. The door is pushed open and Ted Nelson lurches
into the studio followed by Helene. Ted is drunk, and Helene shows she
has been drinking. Ted is a small, wiry-looking young fellow with long
sandy hair, grey eyes with imperceptible brows and lashes, a long, thin
nose, and a large, thick-lipped mouth. He is dressed in a shabby, grey
suit of an exaggerated cut, and wears black patent-leather shoes with
grey spats. He carries a grey overcoat over his arm and a grey felt hat.
Helene is a large voluptuous creature of beautiful figure and startling
taste in dress. She looks like the fashion plate of a French magazine.
Her slit skirt is a marvel of economy in material; her hat a turban with
a thin, reed-like feather waving skywards. For the rest, she is twenty,
blond-haired, blue-eyed, rouged, and powdered. By profession she is a
cloak and suit model, a renegade from the ranks of artists models, lured
away by the brilliant inducement of wearing beautiful clothes instead of
wearing none at all.)
toward him and kissing her maudlinly) Here
we are, Light of My Soul, here we are. (sings)
"Home is the sailor."
Crazy, crazy; you're drunk.
What ho, within! (He suddenly catches sight
of john's father sitting by the table, and walks over to him with all
the dignity he can command.) Pardon
me, Mr. Brown; I didn't see you. (He
offers his hand which Brown barely touches.)
How do you do, sir.
I stagger along, I stagger along, (with
a foolish laugh)
"stagger" being the correct word at present writing. (His
eyes suddenly fix themselves
on John.) Why, hello, Old Masterpiece. (He
detaches himself from Brown and lurches over to John.) Have
you heard the glad tidings? (John
throws a worried look at
his father, who has
turned his back on them. Helene, having satisfied herself that she
doesn't know Brown, comes over toward John, whom she doesn't at first
recognize in the gloom of the window-seat.)
mean about your selling that story? Of course, I've heard about it.
his voice, rushes over and
throws her arms
around his neck) You're a
fine piece of cheese! Don't you remember your old friends any more? Oh,
look at him blush! (Brown has
turned around and is frowning
sternly at them. John twists out
of her embrace and
walks away, biting his lips with vexation.)
over and speaking
to her in what he means to be
a whisper) Sssshhh!
Can that stuff! That's his old man.
to John and winking at him with drunken cunning)
S'all right. I'll square it for you. (He
walks to Brown, not heeding John's gestures
of remonstrance.) Mr.
Brown, I have an apology to make. I must humbly confess I am unduly
vivacious this evening. I have looked upon the wine, and all that. (with a sweeping
threatens to overbalance him) Let
this be my justification. I have sold for fifty shining pesos a story
which I had the misfortune to write. (Brown gives an exclamation of
You are right. The idea is
incredible. Let me say this in my defense, however: It was the first
story I ever sold; and it was the rottenest, absurdest, and most totally
imbecile story I ever wrote,—And
I am a man of many manuscripts. I pity the editor who accepted it. I
have pitied him all evening,—toasted
him for his generous humanity, and pitied him for his bad taste. (He
stops and stares vaguely
at Brown who turns
from him in disgust. John signals frantically and points to
Helene. She stifles a giggle. Ted has a
bright idea.) Helene,
you have not met John's father. (Helene
gazes at him in consternation.
Brown turns to her
stiffly.) Mr. Brown, allow me to present my wife.
his hair) Good heavens!
with a loud giggle) What! Oh,—pleased
to meet you.
suspicion that he is
being hoaxed) Your wife? (Before
anyone can say anything
more the door opens and Steve comes
in followed by Grammont.)
with a look
of anguished pleading and whispers hoarsely to
them away for God's sake! (Steve
in the situation at a glance.
He grabs Ted by the arm, and
other hand guides Helene,
weak with laughter, to the
door. John brings Grammont over to introduce to his father.)
Steve, I almost died.
on over to Grammont's and
That's my middle name.
I'd like you to meet Mr. Grammont, Master of the Art School, whose
unworthy pupil I am.
forced smile) I have heard
of Mr. Grammont many times, although I'm not familiar with art matters.
I'm glad to meet you, sir.
hand) The pleasure is mine.
(They sit down together by
door) Oh, John! I need your
moral support. Come over to Grammont's for a moment, will you?
right. Excuse me for a moment, will you, Father. (He
pause) It gives me great pleasure to be able to tell you that your son, John, is
one of the most promising pupils who has ever entered my school. He has
all the qualities of a great artist.
this praise but the
policy of the head of a school with the father of a well paying
pupil) I have no doubt of it but—
I have heard that you are not in favor of his continuing his artistic
career; that you think it better for him to take up something else? (Brown
nods.) My dear sir, you will pardon me if I presume on such short acquaintance to
say that I think you are making a great mistake. (Brown frowns.) In
the interest of the Art I love, I implore you not to withdraw your
support from John at this crucial moment in his life when he has most
need of you and your encouragement. He is just finding himself, becoming
conscious of his own powers. Discouragement now would be fatal to his
future; and I can unhesitatingly predict a great future for him,—for
I know a real artist when I see one.
much obliged to you for your frankness, but there are a great many
things which influence my decision which you can't possibly know of.
I know your decision will spoil his life.
feet to indicate the discussion is closed) That's
a matter of opinion. Our points of view are different. It seems to me
his life is more likely to be ruined idlying his time away down here
with drunken companions, and low women of the type I have just met.
what you have seen is the unfortunate exception—
the paintings) And are all those naked women who come here to pose, are they exceptions?
Is this the atmosphere for a young man to live in who's engaged to a
himself, half-aloud, with a
shrug of hopelessness)
Alas, the poor boy is lost.
him—sarcastically) Of course, I appreciate the fact that it's your
business to keep your pupils as long as possible. (John
enters as his father is
with anger) You
are insulting, sir! I was only trying to save your son. (He
to John and takes his hand.) Be true to yourself, John, remember! For that no
sacrifice is too great. (He
up his hat and
coat) Matter enough;
that old fool was trying to get me to keep paying out money to him for
all this nonsense of yours.
not true! He's above such considerations.
on overcoat) Rot! I saw through him and I let him know it. He'll
mind his own business after this.
one of the finest men I have ever known.
doubt, no doubt! They are all fine people you live with down here,—drunkards,
old lunatics, and women of the streets. (as
John starts to
I've seen one of your models; that's enough.
laugh) But she's only a
cloak and suit model—now!
makes no difference. I tell you here and now, young man, I've had enough
of it. You either come home with me in the morning or you needn't look
to me for help in the future. I'll bring you to your senses. Starve
awhile, and see
how much bread and butter this high art will bring you! No more coming
to me for money, do you understand?
a pause) Well,
if you decide to come with me, meet me at that ten-four train. Think it
thought it over. I won't come.
toward door) You'll change
your tune when you see how much help you'll get from these so-called
friends of yours. Think it over. I've got to save you in spite of
yourself, if there's no other way. (He
the door.) And remember Steele won't keep that position open for you forever.
out all his rage) Oh,
to hell with Steele! (The hall
door closes with a