Seaman of the British Tramp steamer,
CHIPS, the carpenter
OLD TOM, the donkeyman
Firemen on the Glencairn
West Indian Negresses
Two other seamen—SCOTTY
several other members of the stokehole—engine room crew
forward section of the main deck of the British tramp steamer Glencairn,
at anchor off an island in the West Indies. The full moon, half—way up
the sky, throws a clear light on the deck. The sea is calm and the ship
On the left two of the derrick
booms of the foremast jut out at an angle of forty—five degrees, black
against the sky. In the rear the dark outline of the port bulwark is
sharply defined against a distant strip of coral beach, white in the
moonlight, fringed with coco palms whose tops rise clear of the horizon.
On the right is the forecastle with an open doorway in the center leading
to the seamen's and firemen's compartments. On either side of the doorway
are two closed doors opening on the quarters of the bosun, the ship's
carpenter, the messroom steward, and the donkeyman—what
might be called the petty officers of the ship. Near each bulwark there is
also a short stairway, like a section of fire escape, leading up to the
forecastle head (the top of the forecastle)—the
edge of which can be seen on the right.
In the center of the deck, and
occupying most of the space, is the large, raised square of the number one
hatch, covered with canvas, battened down for the night.
A melancholy negro chant, faint and
far—off, drifts, crooning, over the water.
Most of the seamen and firemen are
reclining or sitting on the hatch. Paul is leaning against the port
bulwark, the upper part of his stocky figure outlined against the sky.
Smitty and Cocky are sitting on the edge of the forecastle head with their
legs dangling over. Nearly all are smoking pipes or cigarettes. The
majority are dressed in patched suits of dungaree. Quite a few are in
their bare feet and some of them, especially the firemen, have nothing on
but a pair of pants and an undershirt. A good many wear caps.
There is the low murmur of
different conversations going on in the separate groups as the curtain
rises. This is followed by a sudden silence in which the singing from the
land can be plainly heard.
powerfully built Irishman who is on the edge of the hatch, front—irritably)
Will ye listen to them naygurs? I wonder now, do call that keenin' a song?
young Englishman with a blond mustache. He is sitting on the forecastle
head looking out over the water with his chin supported on his hands)
It doesn't make a chap feel very cheerful, does it? (He sighs.)
wizened runt of a man with a straggling gray mustache—slapping Smitty on
the back) Cheerio, ole dearl Down't be ser dawhn in the marf, Duke.
She loves yer.
Shut up, Cockyl (He turns away from Cocky and falls to dreaming again,
staring toward the spot on shore where the singing seems to come from.)
huge fireman sprawled out on the right of the hatch waving a hand toward
the land) They bury somebody—py chiminy Christmas, I tink so from
way it sound.
rather good-looking rough who is sitting beside Driscoll) What d'yuh
mean, bury? They don't plant 'em down here, Dutchy. They eat 'em to save
fun'ral expenses. I guess this guy went, down the wrong way an' they got
Hoy us, not 'arf! Down't yer know as them blokes 'as two stomacks like a
short, dark man seated on the right of hatch) An' you seen the two, I
s'pect, ain't you?
Down't be showin' yer igerance be tryin' to make a mock o' me what has
seen more o' the world than yeself ever will.
Swedish fireman—from the rear of hatch) Spin dat yarn, Cocky.
Gawd's troof, what I tole yer. I 'eard it from a bloke what was captured
pris'ner by 'em in the Solomon Islands. Shipped wiv 'im one voyage. 'Twas
a rare treat to 'ear 'im tell what 'appened to 'im among 'em. (musingly)
'E was a funny bird, 'e was—'ailed from Mile End, 'e did.
a snort) Another lyin' Cockney, the loike av yourself!
fat Swede who is sitting on a camp stool in front of his door talking with
Chips) Where you meet up with him, Cocky?
lanky Scotchman—derisively) In New Guinea, I'll lay my oath!
Yus! It was in New Guinea, time I was shipwrecked there. (There is a
perfect storm of groans and laughter at this speech.)
up) Yuh know what we said get if yuh sprung any of that lyin' New
Guinea dope on us again, don't yuh? Close that trap if yuh don't want a
duckin' over the side.
I was on'y tryin' to edicate yer a bit. (He sinks into dignified
toward the shore) Don't yuh know this is the West Indies, yuh crazy
mut? They're ain't no cannibals here. They're only common niggers.
Whativir they are, the divil take their cryin'. It's enough to give a man
the jigs listenin' to 'em.
a grin) What's the matter, Drisc? Yuh're as sore as a boil about
dyin' wid impatience to have a dhrink; an' that blarsted bumboat naygur
woman took her oath she'd bring back rum enough for the lot av us whin she
came back on board tonight.
this—in a loud eager voice) You say the bumboat voman vill bring
That's right—tell the Old Man about ut, an' the Mate, too. (All of
the crew have edged nearer to Driscoll and are listening to the
conversation with an air of suppressed excitement. Driscoll lowers his
voice impressively and addresses them all.) She said she cud snake ut
on board in the bottoms av thim baskets av fruit they're goin' to bring
wid 'em to sell to us for'ard.
old gray-headed man with a kindly, wrinkled face. He is sitting on a camp
stool in front of his door, right front.) She'll be bringin' some
black women with her this time—or times has changed since I put in here
said she wud—two or three—more, maybe, I dunno. (This announcement
is received with great enthusiasm by all hands.)
a bloody lark!
yingo, we have one hell of a time!
Remimber ye must be quiet about ut, ye scuts—wid the dhrink, I mane—ivin
if the bosun is ashore. The Old Man ordered her to bring no booze on board
or he wudn't buy a thing off av her for the ship.
squat, ugly Liverpool Irishman) To the divil wid him!
on him) Shud up, you tamn fool, Paddyl You vant make trouble? (to
Driscoll) You und me, ve keep dem quiet, Drisc.
ye are, Dutchy. I'll split the skull av the first wan av ye starts to
foight. (Three bells are heard striking.)
bells. When's she comin', Drisc?
be here any minute now, surely. (to Paul, who has returned to his
position by the bulwark after hearing Driscoll's news) D'you see 'em
don't see anyting like bumboat. (They all set themselves to wait,
lighting pipes, cigarettes, and making themselves comfortable. There is a
silence broken only by the mournful singing of the negroes on shore.)
a trace of melancholy) I wish they'd stop that song. It makes you
think of—well—things you ought to forget. Rummy go, what?
him on the back) Cheero, ole love! We'll be 'avin our rum in arf a
mo', Duke. (He comes down to the deck, leaving Smitty alone on the
someting, Drisc. Den ve don't hear dot yelling.
us a chanty, Drisc.
all av us knows.
all sing in on chorus.
ve don't know dot. Sing "Viskey Johnny."
Guv us "Maid o' Amsterdam."
Anna" iss good one.
your mouths, all av you. (scornfully) A chanty it ut ye want? I'll
bet me whole pay day there's not wan in the crowd 'ceptin' Yank here, an'
Ollie, an' meself, an' Lamps an' Cocky, maybe, wud be sailors enough to
know the main from mizzen on a windjammer. Ye've heard the names av
chanties but divil a note av the tune or a loine av the words do ye know.
There's hardly a rale deep-water sailor lift on the seas, more's the pity.
us "Blow The Man Down." We all know some of that. (A chorus
of assenting voices: Yes! — Righto! — Let 'er drive! Start 'er,
in then, all av ye. (He sings) As I was a—roamin' down Paradise
blow the man down!
I was a-roamin' down Paradise Street—
us some time to blow the man down!
Blow the man down, boys, oh, blow the man
pretty young maiden I chanced for to meet.
Wa-a-ay, blow the man down!
As I was a-roamin' down Paradise Street—
Give us some time to blow the man down!
blow the man down!
pretty young maiden I chanced for to meet.
us some time to blow the man down!
Blow the man down, boys, oh, blow the man
as Driscoll is clearing his throat preparatory to starting the next verse)
Hay, Drisc! Here she come, I tink. Some bumboat comin' dis way. (They
all rush to the side and look toward the land.)
Wa-a-ay, blow the man down!
A pretty young maiden I chanced for to meet.
Give us some time to blow the man down!
five or six of them in it—and they paddle like skirts.
elated) "Hurroo, ye scuts!l 'Tis thim right enough. (He does a
few jig steps on the deck.)
a pause during which all are watching the approaching boat) Py yingo,
I see six in boat, yes, Sir.
kin make out the baskets. See 'em there amidships?
kind booze dey bring—viskey?
foine West Indy rum wid a kick in ut loike a mule's hoind leg.
she don't bring any; maybe skipper scare her.
be throwin' cold water, Lamps. I'll skin her black hoide off av her if she
goes back on her worrd.
they come. Listen to 'em gigglin'. (calling) Oh, you kiddo! (The
sound of women's voices can be heard talking and laughing.)
Is ut you, Mrs. Old Black Joe?
A WOMAN'S VOICE—'Ullo,
Mikel (There is loud feminine laughter at this retort.)
a leg an' come abord thin.
on, Yank. You an' me'd best be goin' to give 'em a hand wid their truck.
'Twill put em in good spirits.
they start off left) Ho, you ain't 'arf a fox, Drisc. Down't drink it
all afore we sees it.
his shoulder) You'll be havin' yours, me sonny bye, don't fret. (He
and Yank go off left.)
his lips) Gawd blimey, I can do wiv a wet.
bet there ain't none of us'll let any go to waste.
could trink a whole barrel mineself, py chimminy Christmas!
'opes all the gels ain't as bloomin' ugly as 'er. Looked like a bloody
organ-grinder's monkey, she did. Gawd, I couldn't put up wiv the likes of
be lucky if any of thim looks at ye, ye squint-eyed runt.
Ho, yus? You ain't no bleedin' beauty prize yeself, me man. A 'airy ape, I
toward him—truculently) Whot's thot? Say ut again if ye dare.
hand on his sheath knife—snarling) 'Airy apel That's wot I says! (Paddy
tries to reach him but the others keep them apart.)
Paddy back) Vot's the matter mit you, Paddy. Don't you hear vat
Driscoll say—no fighting?
I don't take no back talk from that deck-scrubbin' shrimp.
coal-puncherl (Driscoll appears wearing a broad grin of satisfaction.
The fight is immediately forgotten by the crowd who gather around him with
exclamations of eager curiosity: How is it, Drisc? Any luck? Vot she
bring, Drisc? Where's the gels? etc.)
an apprehensive glance back at the bridge) Not so loud, for the love
av hivin! (The clamor dies down.) Yis, she has ut wid her. She'll
be here in a minute wid a pint bottle or two for each wan av ye—three
shillin's a bottle. So don't be impashunt.
Three bob! The bloody cow!
an ironic smile) Grand larceny, by God! (They all turn and look up
at him, surprised to hear him speak.)
yingo, we don't pay so much.
take ut away from her and give her nothin'.
Dirty thiefl Dot's rightl Give her nothin'! Not a bloomin' 'apenny! etc.
Ye can take ut or lave ut, me sonny byes. (He casts a glance in the
direction of the bridge and then reaches inside his shirt and pulls out a
pint bottle.) 'Tis foine rum, the rale stuff. (He drinks.) I
slipped this wan out av wan av the baskets whin they wasn't lookin'. (He
hands the bottle to Olson, who is nearest him.) Here ye are, Ollie.
Take a small sup an' pass ut to the nixt. 'Tisn't much but 'twill serve to
take the black taste out av your mouths if ye go aisy wid ut. An' there's
buckets more av ut comin'. (The bottle passes from hand to hand, each
man taking a sip and smacking his lips with a deep "Aaah" of
she now, Drisc?
havin' a worrd wid the skipper, makin' arrangements about the money, I
where's the other gels?
her. There's foive av thim she took aboard—two swate little slips av
things, near as white as you an' me are, for that gray-whiskered auld
fool, an' the mates—an' the engineers too, maybe. The rist av thim'll be
comin' for'ard whin she comes.
ain't 'arf a funny ole bird, the skipper. Gawd blimey! 'Member when we
sailed from 'ome ow 'e stands on the bridge lookin' like a bloody ole sky
pilot? An' 'is missus dawn on the bloomin' dock fit to kill 'erself? An'
'is kids 'owlin' an' wavin' their 'andkerchiefs? (with great moral
indignation) An' 'ere 'e is makin' up to a bleedin' nigger! There's a
captain for yer! Gawd blimey! Bloody crab, I calls 'im!
up, ye insect! Sure, it's not you should be talkin', an' you wid a woman
an' childer weepin' for ye in iviry divil's port in the wide worrld, if we
can believe your own tale av ut.
indignant) I ain't no bloomin' captain, I ain't. I ain't got no missus—reg'lar
married, I means. I ain't—
a huge paw over Cocky's mouth) You ain't going talk so much, you hear?
(Cocky wriggles away from him.) Say, Drisc, how ve pay dis voman
for booze? Ve ain't got no cash.
aisy enough. Each girl'Il have a slip av paper wid her an' whin you buy
anythin' u write ut down and the price beside ut and sign your your name.
If ye can't write have some one who can do ut for ye. An' rimimber this:
Whin ye buy a bottle av dhrink or (with a wink) somethin' else
forbid, ye must write down tobaccy or fruit or somethin' the loike av
that. Whin she laves the skiper'll pay what's owin' on the paper an' take
ut out av your pay. Is ut clear to ye now?
as day—Aw right, Drisc—Righto—Sure. etc.
don't forgit what I said about bein' quiet wid the dhrink, or the Mate'll
be down on our necks an' spile the fun. (a chorus of assent)
aft) Ain't this them comin'? (They all took in that direction. The
silly laughter of a woman is heard.)
at Yank, wud ye, wid his arrm around the middle av wan av thim. That lad's
not wastin' any toime. (The four women enter from the left, giggling
and whispering to each other. The first three carry baskets on their
heads. The youngest and best-looking comes last. Yank has his arm about
her waist and is carrying her basket in his other hand. All four are
distinct negro types. They wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes and
have bright bandana handkerchiefs on their heads. They put down their
baskets on the hatch and sit down beside them. The men crowd around,
is the oldest, stoutest, and homeliest of the four—grinning back at them)
yourself—Evenin'—Hello—How are you? etc.
Hope you had a nice voyage. My name's Bella, this here's Susie, yander's
Violet, and her there (pointing to the girl with Yank) is Pearl.
Now we all knows each other.
Never mind the girls. Where's the dhrink?
You're a hawg, ain't you? Don't talk so loud or you don't git any—you
nor no man. Think I wants the ole captain to put me off the ship, do you?
nix on hollerin', you! D'yuh wanta queer all of us?
a quick glance over her shoulder) Here! Some of you big strapping boys
sit back of us on the hatch there so's them officers can't see what we're
doin'. (Driscoll and several of the others sit and stand in back of the
girls on the hatch. Bella turns to Driscoll.) Did you tell 'em they
gotter sign for what they gits—and how to sign?
did—what's your name again—oh, yis—Bella, darlin'.
it's all right; but you boys has gotter go inside the fo'castle when you
gits your bottle. No drinkin' out here on deck. I ain't takin' chances. (An
impatient murmur of assent goes up from the crowd.) Ain't that right,
as rain, darlin'. (Big Frank leans over and says something to him in a
low voice. Driscoll laughs and slaps his thigh.) Listen, Bella, I've
somethin' to ask ye for my little friend here who's bashful. Ut has to do
wid the ladies so I'd best be whisperin' ut to ye meself to kape them from
blushin'. (He leans over and asks her a question.)
D'you hear that, all av ye? Four shillin's ut is.
To hell wid this talkin'. I want a dhrink.
everything all right, Mike?
a look back at the bridge) Sure. Let her droive!
right, girls. (The girls reach down in their baskets in under the fruit
which is on top and pulls out a pint bottle. Four of the men crowd and
take the bottles.) Fetch a light, Lamps, that's a good boy. (Lamps
goes to his room and returns with a candle. This is passed from one girl
to another as the men sign the sheets of paper for their bottles.)
Don't you boys forget to mark down cigarettes or tobacco or fruit,
remember! Three shillin's is the price. Take it into the fo'castle. For
Gawd's sake, don't stand out here drinkin' in the moonlight. (The four
go into the forecastle. Four more take their places. Paddy plants himself
in front of Pearl who is sitting by Yank with his arm still around her.)
Gimme thot! (She holds out a bottle which he snatches from her hand. He
turns to go away.)
Here, you! Where d'yuh get that stuff? You ain't signed for that yet.
I can't write me name.
I'll write it for yuh. (He takes the paper from Pearl and writes.)
There ain't goin' to be no welchin' on little Bright Eyes here—not when
I'm around, see? Ain't I right, kiddo?
a grin) Yes, suh.
all four are served) Take it into the fo'castle, boys. (Paddy
defiantly raises his bottle and gulps down a drink in the full moonlight.
Bella sees him.) Look at 'im! Look at the dirty swine! (Paddy
slouches into the forecastle.) Wants to git me in trouble. That
settles it! We all got to, git inside, boys, where we won't git caught.
Come on, girls. (The girls pick up their baskets and follow Bella. Yank
and Pearl are the last to reach the doorway. She lingers behind him, her
eyes fixed on Smitty, who is still sitting on the forecastle head, his
chin on his hands, staring off into vacancy.)
a hand to attract his attention) Come ahn in, pretty boy. Ah likes
Yes; I want to buy a bottle, please. (He goes down the steps and
follows her into the forecastle. No one remains on deck but the Donkeyman,
who sits smoking his pipe in front of his door. There is the subdued
babble of voices from the crowd inside but the mournful cadence of the
song from the shore can again be faintly heard. Smitty reappears and
closes the door to the forecastle after him. He shudders and shakes his
shoulders as if flinging off something which disgusted him. Then he lifts
the bottle which is in his hand to his lips and gulps down a long drink.
The Donkeyman watches him impassively. Smitty sits down on the hatch
facing him. Now that the closed door has shut off nearly all the noise the
singing from shore comes clearly over the moonlit water.)
to it for a moment) Damn that song of theirs. (He takes another big
drink.) What do you say, Donk?
Seems nice an' sleepy-like.
a hard laugh) Sleepy! If I listened to it long—sober—I'd never go
sich bad music, is it? Sounds kinder pretty to me—low an' mournful—same
as listenin' to the organ outside o' church of a Sunday.
a touch of impatience) I didn't mean it was bad music. It isn't. It's
the beastly memories the damn thing brings up—for some reason. (He
takes another pull at the bottle.)
hear it before?
never in my life. It's just a something about the rotten thing which makes
me think of—well—oh, the devil! (He forces a laugh.)
placidly) Queer things, memories. I ain't ever been bothered much by 'em.
at him fixedly for a moment—with quiet scorn) No, you wouldn't be.
that I ain't had my share o' things goin' wrong; but I puts 'em out o' me
mind, like, an' fergets 'em.
suppose you couldn't put them out of your mind? Suppose they haunted you
when you were awake and when you were asleep—what then?
I'd git drunk, sames you're doin'.
a harsh laugh) Good advice. (He takes another drink. He is
beginning to show the effects of the liquor. His face is flushed and he
talks rather wildly.) We're poor little lambs who have lost our way,
eh, Donk? Damned from here to eternity, what? God have mercy on such as
we! True, isn't it, Donk?
I dunno. (after a slight pause) Whatever set you goin' to sea? You
ain't made for it.
wildly) My old friend in the bottle here, Donk.
done my share o' drinkin' in my time. (regretfully) Them was good
times, those days. Can't hold up under drink no more. Doctor told me I'd
got to stop or die. (He spits contentedly.) So I stops.
a foolish smile) Then I'll drink one for you. Here's your health, old
top! (He drinks.)
a pause) S'pose there's a gel mixed up in it someplace, ain't there?
What makes you think so?
is when a man lets music bother 'im. (after a few puffs at his pipe)
An' she said she threw you over 'cause you was drunk; an' you said you was
drunk 'cause she threw you over. (He spits leisurely.) Queer thing,
love, ain't it?
to his feet with drunken dignity) I'll trouble you not to pry into my
That's everybody's affair, what I said. I been through it many's the time.
(genially) I always hit 'em a whack on the ear an' went out and got
drunker 'n ever. When I come home again they always had somethin' special
nice cooked fur me to eat. (puffing at his pipe) That's the on'y
way to fix 'em when they gits on their high horse. I don't s'pose you ever
Gentlemen don't hit women.
No; that's why they has memories when they hears music. (Smitty does
not deign to reply to this but sinks into a scornful silence. Davis and
the girl Violet come out of the forecastle and close the door behind them.
He is staggering a bit and she is laughing shrilly.)
to the left) This way, Rose, or Pansy, or Jessamine, or black Tulip,
or Violet, or whatever the hell flower your name is. No one'll see us back
here. (They go off left.)
love at first sight for you—an' plenty more o' the same in the
fo'c's'tle. No mem'ries jined with that.
repelled) Shut up, Donk. You're disgusting. (He takes a long drink.)
All depends on how you was brung up, I s'pose. (Pearl comes out of the
forecastle. There is a roar of voices from inside. She shuts the door
behind her, sees Smitty on the hatch, and comes over and sits beside him
and puts her arm over his shoulder.)
There's love for you, Duke.
Smitty's face with her hand) 'Ullo; pretty boy. (Smitty pushes her
hand away coldly.) What you doin' out here all alone by yourself?
a twisted grin) Thinking and— (he indicates the bottle in his
hand) —drinking to stop thinking. (He drinks and laughs maudlinly.
The bottle is three-quarters empty.)
oughtn't drink so much, pretty boy. Don' you know dat? You have big, big
headache come mawnin'.
true. Ah knows what Ah say. (cooingly) Why you run 'way from me,
pretty boy? Ah likes you. Ah don' like them other fellahs. They act too
rough. You ain't rough. You're a genelman. Ah knows. Ah can tell a
genelman fahs Ah can see 'im.
you for the compliment; but you're wrong, you see. I'm merely—a ranker. (He
adds bitterly) And a rotter.
his arm) No, you ain't. Ah knows better. You're a genelman. (insinuatingly)
Ah wouldn't have nothin' to do with them other men, but (she smiles at
him enticingly) you is diff'rent. (He pushes her away from him
disgustedly. She pouts.) Don' you like me, pretty boy?
bit ashamed) I beg your pardon. I didn't mean to be rude, you know,
really. (His politeness is drunkenly exaggerated.) I'm a bit off
up) Den you do like me—little ways?
Yes, yes, why shouldn't I? (He suddenly laughs wildly and puts his arm
around her waist and presses her to him.) Why not? (He pulls his
arm back quickly with a shudder of disgust, and takes a drink. Pearl looks
at him curiously, puzzled by his strange actions. The, door from the
forecastle is kicked open and Yank comes out. The uproar of shouting,
laughing and singing voices has increased in violence. Yank staggers over
toward Smitty and Pearl.)
at them) What the hell—oh, it's you, Smitty the Duke. I was goin' to
turn one loose on the jaw of any guy'd cop my dame, but seein' it's you—(sentimentally)
Pals is pals and any pal of mine c'n have anythin' I got, see? (holding
out his hand) Shake, Duke. (Smitty takes his hand and he pumps it
up and down.) You'n me's frens. Ain't I right?
it is, Yank. But you're wrong about this girl. She isn't with me. She was
just going back to the fo'c's'tle to you. (Pearl looks at him with
hatred gathering in her eyes.)
her arm) Come on then, you, Pearl! Le's have a drink with the bunch. (He
pulls her to the entrance, where she shakes off his hand long enough to
turn on Smitty furiously.)
swine! You can go to hell! (She goes in the forecastle, slamming the
calmly) There's love for you. They're all the same—white, brown,
yeller 'n' black. A whack on the ear's the only thing'll learn 'em. (Smitty
makes no reply but laughs harshly and takes another drink; then sits
staring before him, the almost empty bottle tightly clutched in one hand.
There is an increase in volume of the muffled clamor from the forecastle
and a moment later the door is thrown open and the whole mob, led by
Driscoll, pours out on deck. All of them are very drunk and several of
them carry bottles in their hands. Bella is the only one of the women who
is absolutely sober. She tries in vain to keep the men quiet. Pearl drinks
from Yank's bottle every moment or so, laughing shrilly, and leaning
against Yank, whose arm is about her waist. Paul comes out last carrying
an accordion. He staggers over and stands on top of the hatch, his
instrument under his arm.)
us a dance, ye square-head swab! —a rale, Godforsaken son av a turkey
trot wid guts to ut.
from the old Barbary Coast in Frisco!
don' know. I try. (He commences tuning up.)
Let 'er rip! (Davis and Violet come back and join the crowd. The
Donkeyman looks on them all with a detached, indulgent air. Smitty stares
before him and does not seem to know there is any one on deck but himself.)
I don't dance. I trink! (He suits the action to the word and roars with
out av the way thin, ye big hulk, an' give us some room. (Big Frank
sits down on the hatch, right. All of the others who are not going to
dance either follow his example or lean against the port bulwark.)
the verge of tears at her inability to get them in the forecastle or make
them be quiet now they are out) For Gawd's sake, boys, don't shout so
loud! Want to git me in trouble?
her) Dance wid me, me cannibal quane. (Some one drops a bottle on
deck and it smashes.)
There they goes! There they goes! Captain'll hear that! Oh, my Lawd!
damned to him! Here's the music! Off ye go! (Paul starts playing
"You Great Big Beautiful Doll" with a note left out every now
and then. The four couples commence dancing—a jerk-shouldered version of
the old Turkey Trot as it was done in the sailor-town dives, made more
grotesque by the fact that all the couples are drunk and keep lurching
into each other every moment. Two of the men start dancing together,
intentionally bumping into the others. Yank and Pearl come around in front
of Smitty and, as they pass him, Pearl slaps him across the side of the
face with all her might, and laughs viciously. He jumps to his feet with
his fists clenched but sees who hit him and sits down again smiling
bitterly. Yank laughs boisterously.)
Some wallop! One on you, Duke.
his cap at Paul) Faster, ye toad! (Paul makes frantic efforts to
speed up and the music suffers in the process.)
'Let me go. I'm wore out with you steppin' on my toes, you clumsy Mick. (She
struggles but Driscoll holds her tight.)
blarst you for havin' such big feet, thin. Aisy, aisy, Mrs. Old 'Black
Joe! 'Tis dancin'll take the blubber off ye. (He whirls her around the
deck by main force. Cocky, with Susie, is dancing near the hatch, right,
when Paddy, who is sitting on the edge with Big Frank, sticks his foot out
and the wavering couple stumble over it and fall flat on the deck. A roar
of laughter goes up. Cocky rises to his feet, his face livid with rage,
and springs at Paddy, who promptly knocks him down. Driscoll hits Paddy
and Big Frank hits Driscoll. In a flash a wholesale fight has broken out
and the deck is a surging crowd of drink-maddened men hitting out at each
other indiscriminately, although the general idea seems to be a battle
between seamen and firemen. The women shriek and take refuge on top of the
hatch, where they huddle in a frightened group. Finally there is the flash
of a knife held high in the moonlight and a loud yell of pain.)
in the crowd) Here's the Mate comin'! Let's git out o' this! (There
is a general rush for the forecastle. In a moment there is no one left on
deck but the little group of women on the hatch; Smitty, still dazedly
rubbing his cheek; The Donkeyman quietly smoking on his stool; and Yank
and Driscoll, their faces battered up considerably, their undershirts in
shreds, bending over the still form of Paddy, which lies stretched out on
the deck between them. In the silence the mournful, chant from the shore
creeps slowly out to the ship.)
a low voice) Who knoifed him?
I didn't see it. How do I know? Cocky, I'll bet. (The First Mate enters
from the left. He is a tall, strongly-built man dressed in a in blue
What's all this noise about? (He sees the man lying on the deck.)
Hello! What's this? (He bends down on one knee beside Paddy.)
All av us—was in a bit av a harmless foight, sir—an'—l dunno— (The
Mate rolls Paddy over and sees a knife wound on his shoulder.)
by God. (He takes an electric flash from his pocket and examines the
cut.) Lucky it's only a flesh wound. He must have hit his head on deck
when he fell. That's what knocked him out. This is only a scratch. Take
him aft and I'll bandage him up.
sor. (They take Paddy by the shoulders and feet and carry him off left.
The Mate looks up and sees the women on the hatch for the first time.)
Hello! (He walks to them.) Go to the cabin and get your money and
clear off. If I had my way, you'd never—(His foot hits a bottle. He
stoops down and picks it up and smells of it.) Rum, by God! So that's
the trouble! I thought their breaths smelled damn queer. (to the women,
harshly) You needn't go to the skipper for any money. You won't get
any. That'll teach you to smuggle rum on a ship and start a riot.
You know the agreement—rum—no money.
Honest to Gawd, Mister, I never brung no—
You're a liar! And none of your lip or I'll make a complaint ashore
tomorrow and have you locked up.
out of this, now! Not another word out of you! Tumble over the side damn
quick! The two others are waiting for you. Hop, now! (They walk quickly—almost
run—off to the left. The Mate follows them, nodding to the Donkeyman,
and ignoring the oblivious Smitty.
(There is absolute silence on the
ship for a few moments. The melancholy song of the negroes drifts crooning
over the water. Smitty listens to it intently for a time; then sighs
heavily, a sigh that is half a sob.)
(He drinks the last drop in the bottle and throws it behind him on the
tranquilly) More memories? (Smitty does not answer him. The ship's
bell tolls four bells. The Donkeyman knocks out his pipe.) I think
I'll turn in. (He opens the door to his cabin, but turns to look at
Smitty—kindly.) You can't hear it in the fo'c's'le—the music, I
mean—an' there'll likely be more drink in there, too. Good night. (He
goes in and shuts the door.)
night, Donk. (He gets wearily to his feet and walks with bowed
shoulders, a bit, to the forecastle entrance and goes in. There is silence
for a second or so, broken only by the haunted, saddened voice of that
brooding music, and far-off, like the mood of the moonlight made audible.)
(The Curtain Falls)