Menu Bar

Contents   I   II   III   IV
 

ACT 2

SCENEA studio 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.

  Two 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.

  John, 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.

  JOHN—(going toward door) Time for me to be going. I've got to meet him at 7.30 at the hotel. I'll bring him right over.

  BABE—And 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.

  JOHN—Well, you know you've got my best wishes. I hope you win.

  BABE—Thanks. (laughing) I wish more of your family could say the same.

  JOHN—Give 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.

  BABE—Don't worry. I won't be here—not on your life! (John goes out.)

  BABE—(picking up a pair of old pants off the nearest divan) What'll I do with these?

  STEVE—(carelessly) Must be Ted's—in under the couch with them! We'll teach him the first principles of neatness.

  BABE—Old 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.

  STEVE—(hastily) Hold! (goes over to Babe and gets them)

  BABE—First principles of neatness, you know.

  STEVE—(throws 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 stare.) Babe, 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.

  BABE—(resignedly) 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 one of 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 table.)

  STEVE—This visit of old Browns promises to be stormy, if his letters to John are any indication.

  BABE—(from inside 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—told 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.)

  STEVE—(solemnly eyeing him) O feebleness of words!

  BABE—Remember 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.)

  STEVE—Have patience. I was just about to say you resembled an enlarged edition of Beau Brummel.

  BABE—Enlarged? You're sure you didn't mean distorted?

  STEVE—God forbid! Candidly, you look surprisingly respectable.

  BABE—Disgustingly respectable, as Ted would say. By the way, where's Ted?

  STEVE—(surprised) 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.

  BABE—What!

  STEVE—Yea, 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 dollars.

  BABE—O festive occasion! I suppose he's now out shooting up the town. I think we better prepare the net and straight jacket.

  STEVE—He won't be in till God knows when—maybe not at all. (A knock at the door is heard.)

  BABE—They couldn't have got over that quick. (He hides in the kitchenette nevertheless.)

  STEVE—Come in! (Eugene Grammont, Master of the Art School, comes slowly into the room. He is a slight, stoop-shouldered, old 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 him, but he speaks English without a trace of an accent.)

  GRAMMONT—(ceremoniously, with a little bow) Good evening, gentlemen.

  STEVE—Good evening.

  BABE—(coming out again) Won't you sit down?

  GRAMMONT—(taking 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?

  BABE—And of the occupants of the studio?

  GRAMMONT—I did not say that, but since you mention it—

  BABE—We're expecting visitors, or, I should say, a visitor, the father of your worthy pupil, John.

  GRAMMONT—Indeed. (with a troubled expression) What type of a man is his father?

  STEVE—I've never met him but Babe knows him quite well.

  BABE—I 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.

  GRAMMONT—I thought it would be so.

  STEVE—I've 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.

  BABE—(quickly) All but Bess; she encourages him to go ahead.

  GRAMMONT—Ah, it is well he has someone, poor boy. Who is she,—his fiancée?

  STEVE—(with a smile) No, his sister; but suspected of being another artists fiancée. (He looks pointedly at Babe whose face reddens.)

  GRAMMONT—(leaning over and patting Babe's knee with his long white hand) I am indeed glad to hear it.

  BABE—I have hopes—that's all.

  GRAMMONT—You have more than hopes or you would not—hope. But have I not heard somewhere that John is engaged to be married?

  BABE—Yes; he is.

  GRAMMONT—And the girl?

  STEVE—You've 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.

  GRAMMONT—A moment—I 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 said so?

  STEVE—(dryly) You have guessed it.

  GRAMMONT—(with a comic groan) That doll-face! How could she understand? Oh, how blind is love!

  STEVE—She 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.

  BABE—While his family are determined they won't understand.

  GRAMMONT—Mon 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.

  STEVE—The effect of the girl's letters, no doubt. She urged him to return home and do his painting there.

  GRAMMONT—She does not know how much he has yet to learn.

  BABE—His 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.

  STEVE—What can he do in a money making way?

  BABE—(after a pause) I can't think of anything. He's always been so unpractical,—even more so than most of us.

  STEVE—There 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.

  GRAMMONT—You are right. In John's case the thing would be a tragedy; and he is so worthy of surviving!

  BABE—Can't 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—

  STEVE—Let's 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.

  GRAMMONT—I 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.

  STEVE—It will do no harm to try.

  GRAMMONT—(with decision) I will do my utmost.

  BABE—That's the stuff! We'll pull him out of the hole yet.

  GRAMMONT—When do you expect them?

  BABE—They ought to be here in five or ten minutes now.

  GRAMMONT—Then I will leave you. (He goes toward door.) You will let me know when the propitious time comes?

  STEVE—I'm 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.

  GRAMMONT—I see. (He goes out.)

  STEVE—The poor Old Master! He's as much worried as if John were his own son.

  BABE—It 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 happen? (He goes into the kitchenette and returns wearing a dark overcoat and derby hat and carrying a suit case.) Even his name,—John 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 recorded in the Book of Fame about a John Brown is that his body lies moldering in the grave,—nice thought, that!

  STEVE—(laughing) You can't complain of lacking a famous Carter. Everyone's heard of Nick.

  BABE—Yes, all through college I just escaped that nick-name.

  STEVE—What's that! (picking up a book as if to hurl it at Babe's head) Was that pun intentional?

  BABE—What pun? (He 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.

  STEVE—I'll bet you won't; and you'll not let anyone else forget it either.

  BABE—It 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 with laughter.)

  STEVE—Shut up! Oh, but you're the subtle humorist. Look out you don't run into them.

  BABE—Trust me to hide if I see old Brown. So long!

  STEVE—Good 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.)

  JOHN—You haven't met Mr. Harrington, have you, Father? He's the only one you don't know. (Steve and Brown shake hands and murmur conventional nothings.)

  STEVE—You'll excuse me, I hope? I was just going over to Grammont's studio when you came in. I'll be back later.

  BROWN—(perfunctorily) Hope I'm not driving you away.

  STEVE—Oh, 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.)

  BROWN—I'M glad that other fellow isn't here.

  JOHN—You mean Carter?

  BROWN—Yes,—the good-for-nothing!

  JOHN—(quietly) Babe is my best friend.

  BROWN—When 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.

  JOHN—Babe has done nothing dishonorable, I know.

  BROWN—It 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.

  JOHN—(impulsively) Good for Bess!

  BROWN—Am I to infer from that remark that you approve of her conduct?

  JOHN—Of 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.

  BROWN—(furiously) Let's have none of that romantic piffle. I've heard enough of it from Bessie.

  JOHN—She must be true to herself. Her duty to herself stands before her duty to you.

  BROWN—(losing all control and pounding on the arm of his chair with his fist) Rot! Damned rot! only believed by a lot of crazy Socialists and Anarchists. What is a father for I'd like to know?

  JOHN—(shrugging his shoulders) 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.

  BROWN—But isn't that what I'm doing?

  JOHN—Absolutely 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.

  BROWN—Stuff! 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?

  JOHN—Why 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?

  BROWN—(indignantly) 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 position and—

  JOHN—(jumping to 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.

  JOHN—She'll never marry him.

  BROWN—Well, if she marries that scamp Carter, she's left my home for good.

  JOHN—If 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?

  BROWN—I 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 your 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.

  JOHNHobby! Good God, can't you understand me better than that? (frenziedly) I'm painting, painting, painting, can't you see?

  BROWNThen 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 does not answer but sits down on the window-seat and looks down at the street. Brown gets up, puts on his glasses, and goes to the far wall to look at the paintings. He speaks in tones of wondering disgust.) Who painted this? (pointing to an impressionistic painting of a nude dancer)

  JOHN(wearily) I did.

  BROWNYou 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.

  JOHNIt is finished.

  BROWNYou'd never know it. She's an awful rough looking female. That's Impressionism, I suppose. Rot! Damned rot! I suppose she came here and posedlike that?

  JOHNYes.

  BROWN(with a chuckle) I begin to see there may be other attractions in this career of your's besides a lofty ideal.

  JOHN(furious at the insinuation in his father's voice) What do you mean?

  BROWNOh, don't be so indignant. You wouldn't be my son if you were an angel. (comes back to 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 proposition,—too 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."

  JOHN(miserably) Don't! 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.)

  TED—(pulling Helene toward him and kissing her maudlinly) Here we are, Light of My Soul, here we are. (sings) "Home is the sailor."

  HELENE—(laughing) Crazy, crazy; you're drunk.

  TED—(bellowing) 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.)

  BROWN—(severely) How do you do, sir.

  TED—Oh, 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.)

  JOHN—You mean about your selling that story? Of course, I've heard about it. Congratulations!

  HELENE—(recognizing 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.)

  TED—(leaning over and speaking to her in what he means to be a whisper) Sssshhh! Can that stuff! That's his old man.

  HELENE—Oho!

  TED—(going over 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 gesture which 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 angry impatience.) 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.

  JOHN—(tearing his hair) Good heavens!

  HELENE—(bowing with a loud giggle) What! Oh,—pleased to meet you.

  BROWN—(indignant at the suspicion that he is being hoaxed) Your wife? (Before anyone can say anything more the door opens and Steve comes in followed by Grammont.)

  JOHN—(turns to them with a look of anguished pleading and whispers hoarsely to Steve) Take them away for God's sake! (Steve takes in the situation at a glance. He grabs Ted by the arm, and with his other hand guides Helene, weak with laughter, to the door. John brings Grammont over to introduce to his father.

  (as they go out)

  HELENE—Oh, Steve, I almost died.

  STEVE—Come on over to Grammont's and dance.

  TED—Dance? That's my middle name.

  JOHN—Father, I'd like you to meet Mr. Grammont, Master of the Art School, whose unworthy pupil I am.

  BROWN—(with a 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.

  GRAMMONT—(taking his hand) The pleasure is mine. (They sit down together by the table.)

  STEVE—(from the door) Oh, John! I need your moral support. Come over to Grammont's for a moment, will you?

  JOHN—All right. Excuse me for a moment, will you, Father. (He goes out.)

  GRAMMONT—(after an embarrassed 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.

  BROWN—(not impressed, —thinking this praise but the business policy of the head of a school with the father of a well paying pupil) I have no doubt of it but—

  GRAMMONT—(earnestly) 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.

  BROWN—I'm 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.

  GRAMMONT—(with grave conviction) I know your decision will spoil his life.

  BROWN—(rising to his 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.

  GRAMMONT—But what you have seen is the unfortunate exception—

  BROWN—(pointing to 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 decent girl?

  GRAMMONT—(also rising to his feet—to himself, half-aloud, with a shrug of hopelessness) Alas, the poor boy is lost.

  BROWN—(overhearing himsarcastically) 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 speaking.)

  GRAMMONT—(flushing with anger) You are insulting, sir! I was only trying to save your son. (He walks quickly to John and takes his hand.) Be true to yourself, John, remember! For that no sacrifice is too great. (He goes out.)

  JOHN—What's the matter?

  BROWN—(picking 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.

  JOHN—That's not true! He's above such considerations.

  BROWN—(putting on overcoat) Rot! I saw through him and I let him know it. He'll mind his own business after this.

  JOHN—He's one of the finest men I have ever known.

  BROWN—No 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 expostulate) Oh, I've seen one of your models; that's enough.

  JOHN—(with a hysterical laugh) But she's only a cloak and suit model—now!

  BROWN—It 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?

  JOHN—(dully) Yes.

  BROWN—(after a pause) Well, if you decide to come with me, meet me at that ten-four train. Think it over.

  JOHN—I have thought it over. I won't come.

  BROWN—(starting 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 stops at the door.) And remember Steele won't keep that position open for you forever.

  JOHN—(pouring out all his rage) Oh, to hell with Steele! (The hall door closes with a slam as

The Curtain Falls)


Copyright © 1999-2012 eOneill.com