I-II II-I II-II
SCENE—The sitting room of the Mayo farm
house about nine o'clock the same night. On the left, two windows
looking out on the fields. Against the wall between the windows, an
old-fashioned walnut desk. In the left corner, rear, a sideboard with a
mirror. In the rear wall to the right of the sideboard, a window looking
out on the road. Next to the window a door leading out into the yard.
Farther right, a black horse-hair sofa, and another door opening on a
bedroom. In the corner, a straight-backed chair. In the right wall, near
the middle, an open doorway leading to the kitchen. Farther forward a
double-heater stove with coal scuttle, etc. In the center of the newly
carpeted floor, an oak dining-room table with a red cover. In the center
of the table, a large oil reading lamp. Four chairs, three rockers with
crocheted tidies on their backs, and one straight-backed, are placed
about the table. The walls are papered a dark red with a scrolly-figured
Everything in the room is clean, well-kept, and in its
exact place, yet there is no suggestion of primness about the whole.
Rather the atmosphere is one of the orderly comfort of a simple,
hard-earned prosperity, enjoyed and maintained by the family as a unit.
JAMES MAYO, his
wife, her brother, CAPTAIN DICK
SCOTT, and ANDREW are
discovered. MRS. MAYO is
a slight, round-faced, rather prim-looking woman of fifty-five who had
once been a school teacher. The labors of a farmer's wife have bent but
not broken her, and she retains a certain refinement of movement and
expression foreign to the Mayo part of the family. Whatever of
resemblance ROBERT has to his parents may
be traced to her. Her brother, the CAPTAIN, is
short and stocky, with a weather-beaten, jovial face and a white
moustache—a typical old salt, loud of voice and given to gesture. He
is fifty-eight years old.
JAMES MAYO sits
in front of the table. He wears spectacles, and a farm journal which he
has been reading lies in his lap. THE CAPTAIN
leans forward from a chair in the rear, his hands on the table in
front of him. ANDREW is tilted back on the
straight-backed chair to the left, his chin sunk forward on his chest,
staring at the carpet, preoccupied and frowning.
As the Curtain rises the CAPTAIN
is just finishing the relation of some sea episode. The others are
pretending an interest which is belied by the absent-minded expressions
on their faces.
And that mission woman, she hails me on the dock as I was acomin'
ashore, and she says—with her silly face all screwed up
serious as judgment—"Captain," she says, "would
you be so kind as to tell me where the sea-gulls sleeps at
nights?" Blow me if them warn't her exact words! (He
slaps the table with the palm of his hands and laughs loudly.
The others force smiles.) Ain't that just like a fool
woman's question? And I looks at her serious as I could, "Ma'm,"
says I, "I couldn't rightly answer that question. I ain't
never seed a sea-gull in his bunk yet. The next time I hears one
snorin'," I says, "I'll make a note of where he's turned in, and
write you a letter 'bout it." And then she calls me a fool real
spiteful and tacks away from me quick. (He
laughs again uproariously.) So I got rid of her that way. (The
others smile but immediately relapse into expressions of gloom
that she has to say something.) But when it comes to that,
where do sea-gulls sleep, Dick?
table.) Ho! Ho! Listen to her, James. 'Nother one! Well, if
that don't beat all hell—'scuse me for cussin', Kate.
MAYO—(With a twinkle
in his eyes.) They unhitch their wings, Katey, and spreads 'em
out on a wave for a bed.
SCOTT—And then they tells
the fish to whistle to 'em when it's time to turn out. Ho! Ho!
a forced smile.) You men folks are too smart to live, aren't
you? (She resumes her knitting. MAYO
pretends to read his paper; ANDREW
stares at the floor.)
SCOTT—(Looks from one
to the other of them with a puzzled air. Finally he is unable to
bear the thick silence a minute longer, and blurts out:) You
folks look as if you was settin' up with a corpse. (With
exaggerated concern.) God A'mighty, there ain't anyone dead,
Don't play the dunce, Dick! You know as well as we do there ain't no great cause to be feelin' chipper.
And there ain't no cause to be wearin' mourning, either, I can
How can you talk that way, Dick Scott, when you're taking our
Robbie away from us, in the middle of the night, you might say,
just to get on that old boat of yours on time! I think you might
wait until morning when he's had his breakfast.
the others hopelessly.) Ain't that a woman's way o' seein'
things for you? God A'mighty, Kate, I can't give orders to the
tide that it's got to be high just when it suits me to have it.
I ain't gettin' no fun out o' missin' sleep and leavin' here at
six bells myself. (Protestingly.) And the Sunda
ain't an old ship—leastways, not very old—and she's good's
she ever was. Your boy Robert'll be as safe on board o' her as
he'd be home in bed here.
can you say that, Dick, when we read in almost every paper about
wrecks and storms, and ships being sunk.
SCOTT—You've got to take
your chances with such things. They don't happen often—not
nigh as often as accidents do ashore.
lips trembling.) I wish Robbie weren't going—not so far
away and for so long.
MAYO—(Looking at her
over his glasses—consolingly.) There, Katey!
Well, I do wish he wasn't! It'd be different if he'd ever
been away from home before for any length of time. If he was
healthy and strong too, it'd be different. I'm so afraid he'll
be taken down ill when you're miles from land, and there's no
one to take care of him.
MAYO—That's the very
reason you was willin' for him to go, Katey—'count o' your
bein' 'fraid for his health.
But he seems to be all right now without Dick taking him away.
You'd think to hear you, Kate, that I was kidnappin' Robert agin
your will. Now I ain't asayin' I ain't tickled to death to have
him along, because I be. It's a'mighty lonesome for a captain on
a sailin' vessel at times, and Robert'll be company for me. But
what I'm sayin' is, I didn't propose it. I never even
suspicioned that he was hankerin' to ship out, or that you'd let
him go 'til you and James speaks to me 'bout it. And now you
blames me for it.
MAYO—That's so. Dick's
speaking the truth, Katey.
SCOTT—You shouldn't be
taking it so hard, 's far as I kin see. This vige'll make a man
of him. I'll see to it he learns how to navigate, 'n' study for
a mate's c'tificate right off—and it'll give him a trade for
the rest of his life, if he wants to travel.
I don't want him to travel all his life. You've got to see he
comes home when this trip is over. Then he'll be all well, and
he'll want to—to marry—(ANDREW sits
forward in his chair with an abrupt movement.)—and settle
down right here.
SCOTT—Well, in any case
it won't hurt him to learn things when he's travellin'. And then
he'll get to see a lot of the world in the ports we put in at,
'n' that 'll help him afterwards, no matter what he takes up.
down at the knitting in her lap—as if she hadn't heard him.)
I never realized how hard it was going to be for me to have
Robbie go—or I wouldn't have considered it a minute. (On
the verge of tears.) Oh, if only he wouldn't go!
SCOTT—It ain't no good
goin' on that way, Kate, now it's all settled.
It's all right for you to talk. You've never had any
children of your own, and you don't know what it means to be
parted from them—and Robbie my youngest, too. (ANDREW
frowns and fidgets in his chair.)
MAYO—(A trace of
command in his voice.) No use takin' on so, Katey! It's best
for the boy. We've got to take that into consideration—no matter
how much we hate to lose him. (Firmly.) And like
Dick says, it's all settled now.
turning to them.) There's one thing none of you seem to take
into consideration—that Rob wants to go. He's dead set on it.
He's been dreaming over this trip ever since it was first talked
about. It wouldn't be fair to him not to have him go. (A
sudden thought seems to strike him and he continues doubtfully.)
At least, not if he still feels the same way about it he did
when he was talking to me this evening.
MAYO—(With an air of
decision.) Andy's right, Katey. Robert wants to go. That
ends all argyment, you can see that.
but resignedly.) Yes. I suppose it must be, then.
MAYO—(Looking at his
big silver watch.) It's past nine. Wonder what's happened to
Robert. He's been gone long enough to wheel the widder to home,
certain. He can't be out dreamin' at the stars his last night.
bit reproachfully.) Why didn't you wheel Mrs. Atkins back
tonight, Andy? You usually do when she and Ruth come over.
eyes.) I thought maybe Robert wanted to go tonight. He
offered to go right away when they were leaving.
only wanted to be polite.
ANDREW—(Gets to his
feet.) Well, he'll be right back, I guess. (He turns to
his father.) Guess I'll go take a look at the black cow,
Pa—see if she's ailing any.
son. (ANDREW goes into the kitchen on
SCOTT—(As he goes
out—in a low tone.) There's the boy that would make
a good, strong sea-farin' man—if he'd a mind to.
Don't you put no such fool notions in Andy's head, Dick—or you
'n' me's goin' to fall out. (Then he smiles.) You
couldn't tempt him, no ways. Andy's a Mayo bred in the bone, and
he's a born farmer, and a damn good one, too. He'll live and die
right here on this farm, like I expect to. (With proud
confidence.) And he'll make this one of the slickest, best-payin'
farms in the state, too, afore he gits through!
SCOTT—Seems to me it's a
pretty slick place right now.
head.) It's too small. We need more land to make it amount
to much, and we ain't got the capital to buy it. (ANDREW
enters from the kitchen. His hat is on, and he carries a
lighted lantern in his hand. He goes to the door in the rear
ANDREW—(Opens the door
and pauses.) Anything else you can think of to be done, Pa?
MAYO—No, nothin' I know
of. (ANDREW goes out, shutting the
a pause.) What's come over Andy tonight, I wonder? He acts
MAYO—He does seem sort o'
glum and out of sorts. It's 'count o' Robert leavin', I s'pose.
(To SCOTT.) Dick, you wouldn't
believe how them boys o' mine sticks together. They ain't like
most brothers. They've been thick as thieves all their lives,
with nary a quarrel I kin remember.
SCOTT—No need to tell me
that. I can see how they take to each other.
her train of thought.) Did you notice, James, how queer
everyone was at supper? Robert seemed stirred up about
something; and Ruth was so flustered and giggly; and Andy sat
there dumb, looking as if he'd lost his best friend; and all of
them only nibbled at their food.
MAYO—Guess they was all
thinkin' about tomorrow, same as us.
her head.) No. I'm afraid somethin's happened—somethin'
pause—frowning.) I hope her and Andy ain't had a serious
fallin'-out. I always sorter hoped they'd hitch up together
sooner or later. What d'you say, Dick? Don't you think them
two'd pair up well?
head approvingly.) A sweet, wholesome couple they'd make.
MAYO—It'd be a good thing
for Andy in more ways than one. I ain't what you'd call
calculatin' generally, and I b'lieve in lettin' young folks run
their affairs to suit themselves; but there's advantages for
both o' them in this match you can't overlook in reason. The
Atkins farm is right next to ourn. Jined together they'd make a
jim-dandy of a place, with plenty o' room to work in. And bein'
a widder with only a daughter, and laid up all the time to boot,
Mrs. Atkins can't do nothin' with the place as it ought to be
done. Her hired help just goes along as they pleases, in spite
o' her everlastin' complainin' at 'em. She needs a man, a
first-class farmer, to take hold o' things; and Andy's just the
I don't think Ruth loves Andy.
MAYO—You don't? Well,
maybe a woman's eyes is sharper in such things, but—they're
always together. And if she don't love him now, she'll likely
come around to it in time.
MAYO shakes her head.) You seem
mighty fixed in your opinion, Katey. How d'you know?
just—what I feel.
MAYO—(A light breaking
over him.) You don't mean to say—(MRS.
MAYO nods. MAYO
chuckles scornfully.) Shucks! I'm losin' my respect for
your eyesight, Katey. Why, Robert ain't got no time for Ruth, 'cept
as a friend!
MRS. MAYO—(Warningly.) Sss-h-h!
(The door from the yard opens, and ROBERT
enters. He is smiling happily, and humming a song to himself,
but as he comes into the room an undercurrent of nervous
uneasiness manifests itself in his bearing.)
MAYO—So here you be at
last! (ROBERT comes forward and sits
on ANDY'S chair. MAYO
smiles slyly at his wife.) What have you been doin' all
this time—countin' the stars to see if they all come out right
ROBERT—There's only one
I'll ever look for any more, Pa.
You might've even not wasted time lookin' for that one—your
if she were speaking to a child.) You ought to have worn
your coat a sharp night like this, Robbie.
ROBERT—I wasn't cold, Ma.
It's beautiful and warm on the road.
God A'mighty, Kate, you treat Robert as if he was one year old!
ROBERT—(With a smile.)
I'm used to that, Uncle.
severity.) You'll learn to forget all that baby coddlin'
nights down off the Horn when you're haulin' hell-bent on the
braces with a green sea up to your neck, and the old hooker doin'
summersaults under you. That's the stuff 'll put iron in your
blood, eh Kate?
What are you trying to do, Dick Scott—frighten me out of my
senses? If you can't say anything cheerful, you'd better keep
SCOTT—Don't take on,
Kate. I was only joshin' him and you.
have strange notions of what's a joke, I must say! (She
notices ROBERT'S nervous
uneasiness.) You look all worked up over something, Robbie.
What is it?
hard, looks quickly from one to the other of them—then begins
determinedly.) Yes, there is something—something I
must tell you—all of you. (As he begins to talk ANDREW
enters quietly from the rear, closing the door behind him,
and setting the lighted lantern on the floor. He remains
standing by the door, his arms folded, listening to ROBERT
with a repressed expression of pain on his face. ROBERT
is so much taken up with what he is going to say that he does
not notice ANDREW'S presence.)
Something I discovered only this evening—very beautiful and
wonderful—something I did not take into consideration previously
because I hadn't dared to hope that such happiness could ever
come to me. (Appealingly.) You must all
remember that fact, won't you?
Let's get to the point, son.
were offended because you thought I'd been wasting my time
star-gazing on my last night at home. (With a trace of defiance.) Well, the
point is this, Pa; it isn't my last night at home. I'm
not going—I mean—I can't go tomorrow with Uncle Dick—or at
any future time, either.
a sharp sigh of joyful relief.) Oh, Robbie, I'm so glad!
You ain't serious, be you, Robert?
ROBERT—Yes, I mean what I
Seems to me it's a pretty late hour in the day for you to be upsettin' all your plans so sudden!
asked you to remember that until this evening I didn't know
myself—the wonder which makes everything else in the world seem
sordid and pitifully selfish by comparison. I had never dared to
Come to the point. What is this foolishness you're talkin' of?
Ruth told me this evening that—she loved me. It was after I'd
confessed I loved her. I told her I hadn't been conscious of my
love until after the trip had been arranged, and I realized it
would mean—leaving her. That was the truth. I didn't know
until then. (As if justifying himself to the others.) I
hadn't intended telling her anything but—suddenly—I felt I must.
I didn't think it would matter, because I was going away, and
before I came back I was sure she'd have forgotten. And I
thought she loved—someone else. (Slowly—his eyes shining.)
And then she cried and said it was I she'd loved all the time,
but I hadn't seen it. (Simply.) So we're going to be
married—very soon—and I'm happy—and that's all there is to say.
(Appealingly.) But you see, I couldn't go away
now—even if I wanted to.
up from her chair.) Of course not! (Rushes over and
throws her arms about him.) I knew it! I was just telling
your father when you came in—and, Oh, Robbie, I'm so happy
you're not going!
I knew you'd be glad, Ma.
Well, I'll be damned! You do beat all for gettin' folks' minds
all tangled up, Robert. And Ruth too! Whatever got into her of a
sudden? Why, I was thinkin'—
a tone of warning.) Never mind what you were thinking,
James. It wouldn't be any use telling us that now. (Meaningly.)
And what you were hoping for turns out just the same almost,
to see this side of the argument.) Yes; I suppose you're
right, Katey. (Scratching his head in puzzlement.) But
how it ever come about! It do beat anything ever I heard. (Finally
he gets up with a sheepish grin and walks over to ROBERT.)
We're glad you ain't goin', your Ma and I, for we'd have missed
you terrible, that's certain and sure; and we're glad you've
found happiness. Ruth's a fine girl and'll make a good wife to
Thank you, Pa. (He grips his father's hand in his.)
ANDREW—(His face tense
and drawn comes forward and holds out his hand, forcing a smile.)
I guess it's my turn to offer congratulations, isn't it?
startled cry when his brother appears before him so suddenly.)
Andy! (Confused.) Why—I—I didn't see you. Were you here
ANDREW—I heard everything
you said; and here's wishing you every happiness, you and Ruth.
You both deserve the best there is.
hand.) Thanks, Andy, it's fine of you to— (His voice
dies away as he sees the pain in ANDREW'S
brother's hand a final grip.) Good luck to you both! (He
turns away and goes back to the rear when he bends over the
lantern, fumbling with it to hide his emotion from the others.)
the CAPTAIN, who has been too
flabbergasted by ROBERT'S decision
to say a word.) What's the matter, Dick? Aren't you going to
Of course I be! (He gets to his feet and shakes ROBERT'S
hand, muttering a vague) Luck to you, boy. (He stands
beside ROBERT as if he wanted to
say something more but doesn't know how to go about it.)
SCOTT—So you're not
acomin' on the Sunda with me? (His voice indicates
can't, Uncle—not now. I'm very grateful to you for having wanted
to take me. I wouldn't miss it for anything else in the world
under any other circumstances. (He sighs unconsciously.) But
you see I've found—a bigger dream.
Bring the girl along with you. I'll fix it so there's room.
How can you propose such a crazy idea, Dick—to take a young
girl on a sail-boat all over the world and not a woman on the
boat but herself. Have you lost your senses?
It would be wonderful if we could both go with you, Uncle—but
it's impossible. Ruth couldn't go on account of her mother, and
besides, I'm afraid she doesn't like the idea of the sea.
SCOTT—(Putting all his
disapproval into an exclamation.) Humph! (He goes back
and sits down at the table.)
ROBERT—(In joyous high
spirits.) I want you all to understand one thing—I'm not
going to be a loafer on your hands any longer. This means the
beginning of a new life for me in every way. I'm sick and
disgusted at myself for sitting around and seeing everyone else
hard at work, while all I've been doing is keep the accounts—a
couple of hours work a week! I'm going to settle right down and
take a real interest in the farm, and do my share. I'll prove to
you, Pa, that I'm as good a Mayo as you are—or Andy, when I
want to be.
skeptically.) That's the right spirit, Robert, but it ain't
needful for you to—
him.) No one said you weren't doing your part, Robbie.
You've got to look out for—
ROBERT—I know what you're
going to say, and that's another false idea you've got to get
out of your heads. It's ridiculous for you to persist in looking
on me as an invalid. I'm as well as anyone, and I'll prove it to
you if you'll give me half a chance. Once I get the hang of it,
I'll be able to do as hard a day's work as any one. You wait and
MAYO—Ain't none of us
doubts your willin'ness, but you ain't never learned—
ROBERT—Then I'm going to
start learning right away, and you'll teach me, won't you?
Of course I will, boy, and be glad to, only you'd best go easy
ROBERT—With the two farms
to look after, you'll need me; and when I marry Ruth I'll have
to know how to take care of things for her and her mother.
MAYO—That's so, son.
listened to this conversation in mingled consternation and
amazement.) You don't mean to tell me you're goin' to let
him stay, do you, James?
MAYO—Why, things bein' as
they be, Robert's free to do as he's a mind to.
him! The very idea!
SCOTT—(More and more
ruffled.) Then all I got to say is, you're a soft,
weak-willed critter to be permittin' a boy—and women, too—to
be layin' your course for you wherever they damn pleases.
It's just the same with me as 'twas with you, Dick. You can't
order the tides on the seas to suit you, and I ain't pretendin'
I can reg'late love for young folks.
Love! They ain't old enough to know love when they sight it!
Love! I'm ashamed of you, Robert, to go lettin' a little huggin'
and kissin' in the dark spile your chances to make a man out o'
yourself. It ain't common sense—no siree, it ain't—not by a hell
of a sight! (He pounds the table with his fists in
I'm afraid I can't help it, Uncle.
SCOTT—Humph! You ain't
got any sand, that's what! And you, James Mayo, lettin' boys and
women run things to the devil and back—you've got less sense
than he has!
MAYO—(With a grin.)
If Robert can't help it, I'm sure I ain't able, Dick.
provokingly at her brother.) A fine one you are to be
talking about love, Dick—an old cranky bachelor like you.
their joking.) I've never been a damn fool like most, if
that's what you're steerin' at.
Sour grapes, aren't they, Dick? (She laughs. ROBERT
and his father chuckle. SCOTT sputters
with annoyance.) Good gracious, Dick, you do act silly,
flying into a temper over nothing.
SCOTT—(Indignantly.) Nothin'! Is that what you call it—nothin'? You talk as if I
wasn't concerned nohow in this here business. Seems to me I've
got a right to have my say. Ain't I gone to all sorts o' trouble
gettin' the sta'b'd cabin all cleaned out and painted and fixed
up so's that Robert o' yours 'd be comfortable? Ain't I made all
arrangements with the owners and stocked up with some special
grub all on Robert's account?
ROBERT—You've been fine,
Uncle Dick; and I appreciate it. Truly.
MAYO—'Course; we all
don't spoil it now by getting angry at us.
It's all right for you to say don't this and don't that; but you ain't seen things from my side of it. I've been countin' sure on
havin' Robert for company on this vige—to sorta talk to and
show things to, and teach, kinda, and I got my mind so set on
havin' him I'm goin' to be double lonesome this vige. (He
pounds on the table, attempting to cover up this confession of
weakness.) Darn all this silly lovin' business, anyway.
It's too bad you have to be so lonesome, Dick. Why don't you
give up the old boat? You've been on the sea long enough,
heaven's knows. Why don't you make up your mind and settle down
here with us?
And go diggin' up the dirt and plantin' things? Not by a hell of
a sight! You can have all the darned dirt in the earth for all
o' me. I ain't sayin' it ain't all right—if you're made that
way—but I ain't. No settlin' down for me. No sirree! (Irritably.)
But all this talk ain't tellin' me what I'm to do with that
sta'b'd cabin I fixed up. It's all painted white, an a bran new
mattress on the bunk, 'n' new sheets 'n' blankets 'n' things.
And Chips built in a book-case so's Robert could take his books
along—with a slidin' bar fixed across't it, mind, so's they
couldn't fall out no matter how she rolled. (With excited
consternation.) What d'you suppose my officers is goin' to think
when there's no one comes aboard to occupy that sta'b'd cabin?
And the men what did the work on it—what'll they think? (He shakes his finger indignantly.) They're liable as not
to suspicion it was a woman I'd planned to ship along,
and that she gave me the go-by at the last moment! (He wipes
his perspiring brow in anguish at this thought.) Gawd
A'mighty! They're only lookin' to have the laugh on me for
something like that. They're liable to b'lieve anything, those
MAYO—(With a wink.)
Then there's nothing to it but for you to get right out and hunt
up a wife somewheres for that spic 'n' span cabin. She'll have
to be a pretty one, too, to match it. (He looks at his watch
with exaggerated concern.) You ain't got much time to find
SCOTT—(As the others
smile—sulkily.) You kin go to thunder, Jim Mayo!
from where he has been standing by the door, rear, brooding. His
face is set in a look of grim determination.) You needn't
worry about that spare cabin, Uncle Dick, if you've a mind to
take me in Robert's place.
ROBERT—(Turning to him
quickly.) Andy! (He sees at once the fixed resolve in his
brother's eyes, and realizes immediately the reason for it—in
consternation.) Andy, you mustn't!
ANDREW—You've made your
decision, Rob, and now I've made mine. You're out of this,
ROBERT—(Hurt by his
brother's tone.) But Andy—
interfere, Rob—that's all I ask. (Turning to his uncle.) You
haven't answered my question, Uncle Dick.
throat, with an uneasy side glance at JAMES
MAYO who is staring at his elder son
as if he thought he had suddenly gone mad.) O' course, I'd
be glad to have you, Andy.
ANDREW—It's settled then.
I can pack the little I want to take in a few minutes.
be a fool, Dick. Andy's only joking you. He wouldn't go for
It's hard to tell who's jokin' and who's not in this house.
I'm not joking, Uncle Dick—and since I've got your permission,
I'm going with you. (As SCOTT looks
at him uncertainly.) You needn't be afraid I'll go back on
my word. When I say I'll go, I'll go.
ROBERT—(Hurt by the
insinuation he feels in ANDREW'S one.)
Andy! That isn't fair!
to be disturbed.) But I know he must be fooling us. Aren't
ANDREW—No, Ma, I'm not.
Seems to me this ain't no subject to joke over—not for Andy.
father.) I agree with you, Pa, and I tell you again, once
and for all, that I've made up my mind to go.
to doubt the determination in ANDREW'S
voice—helplessly.) But why, son? Why?
I've always wanted to go, even if I ain't said anything about
You shut up, Rob! I told you to keep out of this. (Turning to
his father again.) I didn't ever mention it because as long
as Rob was going I knew it was no use; but now Rob's staying on
here, and Uncle Dick wants someone along with him, there isn't
any reason for me not to go.
No reason? Can you stand there and say that to me, Andrew?
the gathering storm.) He doesn't mean a word of it, James.
MAYO—(Making a gesture
to her to keep silence.) Let me talk, Katey. (In a more
kindly tone.) What's come over you so sudden, Andy? You know's well as I do that it wouldn't be fair o' you to run off
at a moment's notice right now when we're up to our necks in
eyes.) Rob'll hold his end up as soon as he learns.
MAYO—You know that ain't
so. Robert was never cut out for a farmer, and you was.
ANDREW—You can easily get
a man to do my work.
anger with an effort.) It sounds strange to hear you, Andy,
that I always thought had good sense, talkin' crazy like that.
And you don't believe yourself one bit of what you've been
sayin'—not 'less you've suddenly gone out of your mind. (Scornfully.)
Get a man to take your place! Where'd I get him, tell me, with
the shortage of farm labor hereabouts? And if I could get one,
what int'rest d'you suppose he'd take beyond doin' as little
work as he could for the money I paid him? You ain't been
workin' here for no hire, Andy, that you kin give me your notice
to quit like you've done. The farm is your'n as well as mine.
You've always worked on it with that understanding; and what
you're sayin' you intend doin' is just skulkin' out o' your
ANDREW—(Looking at the
floor—simply.) I'm sorry, Pa. (After a slight pause.)
It's no use talking any more about it.
relief.) There! I knew Andy'd come to his senses!
ANDREW—Don't get the
wrong idea, Ma. I'm not backing out.
MAYO—You mean you're
goin' in spite of—everythin'?
I'm going. I want to—and—I've got to. (He looks at his father
defiantly.) I feel I oughtn't to miss this chance to go out
into the world and see things, and—I want to go.
scorn.) So—you want to go out into the world and see thin's!
(His voice raised and quivering with anger.) I never
thought I'd live to see the day when a son o' mine 'd look me in
the face and tell a bare-faced lie! (Bursting out.)
You're a liar, Andy Mayo, and a mean one to boot!
SCOTT—Steady there, Jim!
protests aside.) He is and he knows it.
flushed.) I won't argue with you, Pa. You can think as badly
of me as you like. I can't help that. Let's not talk about it
any more. I've made up my mind, and nothing you can say will
finger at ANDY, in a cold rage.)
You know I'm speakin' truth—that's why you're afraid to argy!
You lie when you say you want to go 'way—and see things! You
ain't got no likin' in the world to go. Your place is right here
on this farm—the place you was born to by nature—and you
can't tell me no different. I've watched you grow up, and I know
your ways, and they're my ways. You're runnin' against your own
nature, and you're goin' to be a'mighty sorry for it if you do.
You're tryin' to pretend to me something that don't fit in with
your make-up, and it's damn fool pretendin' if you think you're
foolin' me. 'S if I didn't know your real reason for runnin'
away! And runnin' away's the only words to fit it. You're
runnin' away 'cause you're put out and riled 'cause your own
brother's got Ruth 'stead o' you, and—
crimson—tensely.) Stop, Pa! I won't stand hearing
that—not even from you!
to ANDY and putting her arms about
him protectingly.) Don't mind him, Andy dear. He don't mean
a word he's saying! (ROBERT stands
rigidly, his hands clenched, his face contracted by pain. SCOTT
sits dumbfounded and open-mouthed. ANDREW
soothes his mother who is on the verge of tears.)
triumph.) It's the truth, Andy Mayo! And you ought to be
bowed in shame to think of it!
Pa! You've gone far enough. It's a shame for you to talk that
from ANDREW to his father; puts
her hands on his shoulders as though to try and push him back in
the chair from which he has risen.) Won't you be still,
James? Please won't you?
MAYO—(Looking at ANDREW
over his wife's shoulder—stubbornly.) The truth—God's
(She tries to put a finger across his lips, but he twists his
regained control over himself.) You're wrong, Pa, it isn't
truth. (With defiant assertiveness.) I don't love Ruth. I
never loved her, and the thought of such a thing never entered
MAYO—(With an angry
snort of disbelief.) Hump! You're pilin' lie on lie!
temper—bitterly.) I suppose it'd be hard for you to
explain anyone's wanting to leave this blessed farm except for
some outside reason like that. You think these few measly acres
are heaven, and that none'd want to ever do nothing in all their
lives but stay right here and work like a dog all the time. But
I'm sick and tired of it—whether you want to believe me or
not—and that's why I'm glad to get a chance to move on. I've
been sick and tired of farm life for a long time, and if I
hadn't said anything about it, it was only to save your
feelings. Just because you love it here, you've got your mind
set that I like it, too. You want me to stay on so's you can
know that I'll be taking care of the rotten farm after you're
gone. Well, Rob'll be here, and he's a Mayo, too. You can leave
it in his hands.
You're only making it worse.
I don't care. I've done my share of work here. I've earned my
right to quit when I want to. (Suddenly overcome with anger
and grief; with rising intensity.) I'm sick and tired of the
whole damn business. I hate the farm and every inch of ground in
it. I'm sick of digging in the dirt and sweating in the sun like
a slave without getting a word of thanks for it. (Tears of
rage starting to his eyes—hoarsely.) I'm through, through
for good and all; and if Uncle Dick won't take me on his ship,
I'll find another. I'll get away somewhere, somehow.
a frightened voice.) Don't you answer him, James. He doesn't
know what he's saying to you. Don't say a word to him 'til he's
in his right senses again. Please James, don't—
MAYO—(Pushes her away
from him; his face is drawn and pale with the violence of his
passion. He glares at ANDREW as if
he hated him.) You dare to—you dare to speak like that to
me? You talk like that 'bout this farm—the Mayo farm—where you
was born—you—you— (He clenches his fist above
his head and advances threateningly on ANDREW.)
You damned whelp!
a shriek.) James! (She covers her face with her hands and
sinks weakly into MAYO'S chair.
ANDREW remains standing motionless,
his face pale and set.)
SCOTT—(Starting to his
feet and stretching his arms across the table toward MAYO.)
Easy there, Jim!
himself between father and brother.) Stop! Are you mad?
arm and pushes him aside—then stands for a moment gasping
for breath before ANDREW. He
points to the door with a shaking finger.)
Yes—go!—go!—You're no son o' mine—no son o' mine! You
can go to hell if you want to! Don't let me find you here—in
the mornin'—or—or—I'll throw you out!
ROBERT—Pa! For God's
bursts into noisy sobbing.)
SCOTT—(Placatingly.) Ain't you goin' too far, Jim?
MAYO—(Turning on him
furiously.) Shut up, you—you Dick! It's your fault—a lot
o' this—you and your cussed ship! Don't you take him—if you
do—don't you dare darken this door again. Let him go by
himself and learn to starve—starve! (He gulps
convulsively and turns again to ANDREW.)
And you go—tomorrow mornin'—and by God—don't come
back—don't dare come back—by God, not while I'm livin'—or
I'll—I'll— (He shakes over his muttered threat and
strides toward the door rear, right.)
and throwing her arms around him—hysterically.) James!
James! Where are you going?
I'm goin'—to bed, Katey. It's late, Katey—it's late. (He
him, pleading hysterically.) James! Take back what you've
said to Andy. James! (She follows him out. ROBERT
and the CAPTAIN stare after
them with horrified eyes. ANDREW stands
rigidly looking straight in front of him, his fists clenched at
SCOTT—(The first to
find his voice—with an explosive sigh.) Well, if he ain't
the devil himself when he's roused! You oughtn't to have talked
to him that way, Andy 'bout the damn farm, knowin' how touchy he
is about it. (With another sigh.) Well, you won't mind
what he's said in anger. He'll be sorry for it when he's calmed
down a bit.
ANDREW—(In a dead
voice.) No, he won't. You don't know him. (Defiantly.)
What's said is said and can't be unsaid; and I've chosen.
You don't mean—you're still a mind to go—go with me, do you?
I haven't said I've changed my mind, have I? There's all the
reason in the world for me to go—now. And I'm going if you're
not afraid to take me after what he said.
protest.) Andy! You can't! Don't be a fool! This is all so
I'll talk to you in a minute, Rob, when we're alone. This is
between Uncle and me. (Crushed by his brother's cold
indifference, ROBERT sinks down
into a chair, holding his head in his hands. ANDREW
turns again to SCOTT.) If you
don't want to take me, it's all right—there's no hard
feelings. I can understand you don't like to fall out with Pa.
SCOTT—(Indignantly.) Gawd A'mighty, Andy, I ain't scared o' your Pa, nor no man
livin,' I want t'have you come along! Only I was thinkin' o'
Kate. We don't want her to have to suffer from his contrariness.
Let's see. (He screws up his brows in thought.) S'posing
we both lie a little, eh? I'll tell 'em you're not comin' with
me, and you tell 'em you're goin' to the port to get another
ship. We can leave here in the team together. That's natural
enough. They can't suspect nothin' from that. And then you can
write home the first port we touch and explain things. (He
winks at ANDREW cunningly.)
Are you on to the course?
Yes—if you think it's best.
SCOTT—For your Ma's sake.
I wouldn't ask it, else.
shoulders.) All right then.
SCOTT—(With a great
sigh of relief—comes and slaps ANDREW
on the back—beaming.) I'm damned glad you're shippin' on,
Andy. I like your spirit, and the way you spoke up to him. (Lowering
his voice to a cautious whisper.) You was right not to want
to waste your life plowin' dirt and pattin' it down again. The
sea's the place for a young feller like you that isn't half dead
'n' alive. (He gives ANDY a
final approving slap.) You'n' me 'll get along like twins,
see if we don't. I'm durned glad you're comin', boy.
Let's not talk about it any more, Uncle. I'm tired of talking.
SCOTT—Right! I'm goin'
aloft to turn in, and leave you two alone. Don't forget to pack
your dunnage. And git some sleep, if you kin. We'll want to
sneak out extra early b'fore they're up. It'll do away with more
argyments. Robert can drive us down to the town, and bring back
the team. (He goes to the door in the rear, left.) Well,
goes out. The two brothers remain silent for a moment. Then
ANDREW comes over to his brother and
puts a hand on his back. He speaks in a low voice, full of
feeling.) Buck up, Rob. It ain't any use crying over spilt
milk; and it'll all turn out for the best—let's hope. It
couldn't be helped—what's happened.
But it's a lie, Andy, a lie!
ANDREW—Of course it's a
lie. You know it and I know it,—but that's all ought to know
forgive you. Oh, why did you want to anger him like that? You
know how he feels about the farm. Oh, the whole affair is so
senseless—and tragic. Why did you think you must go away?
know better than to ask that. You know why. (Fiercely.) I
can wish you and Ruth all the good luck in the world, and I do,
and I mean it; but you can't expect me to stay around here and
watch you two together, day after day—and me alone. You couldn't
expect that! I couldn't stand it—not after all the plans I'd
made to happen on this place thinking—(His voice
breaks.) Thinking she cared for me.
ROBERT—(Putting a hand
on his brother's arm.) God! It's horrible! I feel so
guilty—to think that I should be the cause of your suffering,
after we've been such pals all our lives. If I could have
foreseen what'd happen, I swear to you I'd have never said a
word to Ruth. I swear I wouldn't have, Andy.
know you wouldn't; and that would've been worse, for Ruth
would've suffered then. (He pats his brother's shoulder.) It's
best as it is. It had to be, and I've got to stand the gaff,
that's all. Pa'll see how I felt—after a time. (As ROBERT
shakes his head)—and if he don't—well, it can't be
ROBERT—But think of Ma!
God, Andy, you can't go! You can't!
I've got to go—to get away! I've got to, I tell you. I'd die
here. I'd kill myself! Can't you understand what it'd mean to
me, how I'd suffer? You don't know how I'd planned—for Ruth
and me—the hopes I'd had about what the future'd be like. You
can't blame me to go. You'd do the same yourself. I'd go crazy
here, bein' reminded every second of the day how my life's been
smashed, and what a fool I'd made of myself. I'd have nothing to
hope or live for. I've got to get away and try and forget, if I
can. I never could stay here—seeing her. And I'd hate the farm
if I stayed, hate it for bringin' things back. I couldn't take
interest in the work any more, work with no purpose in sight.
Can't you see what a hell it'd be? You love her too, Rob. Put
yourself in my place, and remember I haven't stopped loving her,
and couldn't if I was to stay. Would that be fair to you or to
her? Put yourself in my place. (He shakes his brother
fiercely by the shoulder.) What'd you do then? Tell me the
truth! You love her. What'd you do? In spite of all hell, what'd
I'd—I'd go, Andy! (He buries his face in his hands with a
shuddering sob.) God!
relax suddenly all over his body—in a low, steady voice.)
Then you know why I got to go; and there's nothing more to be
ROBERT—(In a frenzy of
rebellion.) Why did this have to happen to us? It's
damnable! (He looks about him wildly, as if his vengeance
were seeking the responsible fate.)
putting his hands on his brother's shoulder.) It's no use
fussing any more, Rob. It's done. (Affectionately.)
You'll forget anything I said to hurt when I was mad, won't you?
I wanted to keep you out of it.
ROBERT—Oh, Andy, it's me
who ought to be asking your forgiveness for the suffering I've
brought on you.
smile.) I guess Ruth's got a right to have who she likes;
you ain't to blame for that. She made a good choice—and God
bless her for it!
ROBERT—Andy! Oh, I wish I
could tell you half I feel of how fine you are!
him quickly.) Shut up! Let's go to bed. We've talked long
enough, and I've got to be up long before sun-up. You, too, if
you're going to drive us down.
the lamp.) And I've got to pack yet. (He yawns with utter
weariness.) I'm as tired as if I'd been plowing twenty-four
hours at a stretch. (Dully.) I feel—dead. (ROBERT
covers his face again with his hands. ANDREW
shakes his head as if to get rid of his thoughts, and
continues with a poor attempt at cheery briskness.) I'm
going to douse the light. Come on. (He slaps his brother on
the back. ROBERT does not move.
ANDREW bends over and blows out the
lamp. His voice comes from the darkness.) Don't sit there
mourning, Rob. It'll all come out in the wash. Come on and get
some sleep. Everything 'll turn out all right in the end. (ROBERT
can be heard stumbling to his feet, and the dark figures of
the two brothers can be seen groping their way toward the
doorway in the rear as