Contents I II
SCENESame as Act I. It is afternoon of a fine day three days later. Motors are heard coming up the drive in front of the house. There is the muffled sound of voices. The MAID is seen going along the hall to the front door. Then the family enter from the rear. First come JAYSON and ESTHER with MRS. DAVIDSONthen LILY, DICK and SHEFFIELDthen JOHN and his wife. All are dressed in mourning. The only one who betrays any signs of sincere grief is MRS. DAVIDSON. The others all have a strained look, irritated, worried, or merely gloomy. They seem to be thinking The worst is yet to come.
JAYSON—(Leading MRS. D., who is weeping softly, to the chair at left of tablefretfully.)
Please do sit down, Aunt. (She does so mechanically.) And do stop
crying. (He sits down in front of table. ESTHER goes to couch where she is joined by EMILY. MARK goes over and stands in back of them. DICK and JOHN sit at rear of table. LILY comes down front and walks about nervously. She seems in a particularly fretful, upset mood.)
LILY—(Trying to conceal her feelings under a forced flippancy.) What ridiculous things funerals are, anyway! That stupid ministerwhining away through his nose! Why does the Lord show such a partiality for men with adenoids, I wonder.
JAYSON—(Testily.) Sshhh! Have you no respect for anything?
LILY—(Resentfully.) If I had, Id have lost it when I saw all of you pulling such long faces in the church where you knew you were under observation. Pah! Such hypocrisy! And then, to cap it all, Emily has to force out a few crocodile tears at the grave!
EMILY—(Indignantly.) When I saw Curtthats why I criednot for her!
JAYSONWhat a scene Curt made! I actually believe he wanted to throw himself into the grave!
DICKYou believe he wanted to! Why, it was all Mark and I could do to hold him, wasnt it, Mark?
JAYSONIntolerable! I never expected hed turn violent like that. Hes seemed calm enough the past three days.
LILYCalm! Yes, just like a corpse is calm!
JAYSON—(Distractedly.) And now this perfectly mad idea of going away to-day to join that infernal expeditionleaving that child on our handsthe child he has never even looked at! Why, its too monstrously flagrant! Hes deliberately flaunting this scandal in everyones face!
JOHN—(Firmly.) He must be brought to time.
SHEFFIELDYes, we must talk to himquite openly, if were forced to. After all, I guess he realizes the situation more keenly than any of us.
LILY—(Who has wandered to window on right.)
You mean you think he believes—Well, I don’t. And you had better be
careful not to let him guess what you think. (Pointing outside.)
There’s my proof. There he is walking about with Bigelow. Can you
imagine Curt doing that—if he thought for a moment—
DICKOh, I guess Curt isnt all fool. He knows thats the very best way to keep people from suspecting.
ESTHER—(Indignantly.) But wouldnt you think that Bigelow person Its disgusting, his sticking to Curt like this.
SHEFFIELDWell, for one, Im becoming quite resigned to Bigelows presence. In the first place, he seems to be the only one who can bring Curt to reason. Then again, I feel that it is to Bigelows own interest to convince Curt that he mustnt provoke an open scandal by running away without acknowledging this child.
LILY—(Suddenly bursting forth hysterically.) Oh, I hate you, all of you! I loathe your suspicionsand I loathe myself because Im beginning to be poisoned by them, too.
Lily, at this late hour—after the way Curt has acted—and her last words
when she was dying—
LILY—(Distractedly.) I know! Shut up! Havent you told it a million times already?
(MRS. DAVIDSON gets up and walks to the door, rear. She has been crying softly during this scene, oblivious to the talk around her.)
Aunt Elizabeth! Where are you going? (As she doesnt answer but goes out into the hall.)
Esther, go with her and see that she doesn’t—
ESTHER—(Gets up with a jealous irritation.) Shes only going up to see the baby. Shes simply forgotten everything else in the world!
LILY—(Indignantly.) She probably realizes what we are too mean to rememberthat the baby, at least, is innocent. Wait, Esther. Ill come with you.
JAYSONYes, hurry, she shouldnt be left alone.
(ESTHER and LILY follow the old lady out, rear.)
DICK—(After a pauseimpatiently.)
Well, what next? I don’t see what good we are accomplishing. May I run
along? (He gets up restlessly as he is speaking and goes to the window.)
You will stay, if you please. There’s to be no shirking on anyone’s
part. It may take all of us to induce Curt—
SHEFFIELDI wouldnt worry. Bigelow is taking that job off our hands, I imagine.
DICK—(Looking out of the window.)
He certainly seems to be doing his damnedest. (With a sneer.) The stage missed a great actor in him.
But, if Bigelow should fail—
we’ll succeed. (With a grim smile.) By God, well have to.
JAYSONCurt has already packed his trunks and had them taken down to the stationtold me he was leaving on the five oclock train.
SHEFFIELDBut didnt you hint to him there was now this matter of the child to be considered in making his plans?
JAYSON—(Lamely.) I started to. He simply flared up at me with insane rage.
DICK—(Looking out the window.) Say, I believe theyre coming in.
DICKYes, theyre both making for the front door.
SHEFFIELDI suggest we beat a retreat to Curts study and wait there.
let’s do that—come on, all of you. (They all retire grumblingly but precipitately to the study, closing the door behind them. The front door is heard opening and a moment later CURT and BIGELOW enter the room. CURTS face is set in an expression of stony grief. BIGELOW is flushed, excited, indignant.)
BIGELOW—(As CURT sinks down on the couchpleading indignantly.)
Curt, damn it, wake up! Are you made of stone? Has everything I’ve said
gone in one ear and out the other? I know it’s hell for me to torment
you at this particular time but it’s your own incredibly unreasonable
actions that force me to. I know how terribly you must feel but—damn it,
man, postpone this going away! Face this situation like a man! Be
reconciled to your child, stay with him at least until you can make
CURTIS—(Fixedly.) I will never see it! Never!
BIGELOWHow can you keep repeating thatwith Martha hardly cold in her grave! I ask you again, what would she think, how would she feelIf you would only consent to see this baby, I know youd realize how damnably mad and cruel you are. Wont youjust for a second?
(Then raging.) If I saw it I’d be tempted to— (Then brokenly.) No more of that talk, Big. Ive heard enough. Ive reached the limit.
BIGELOW—(Restraining his anger with difficultycoldly.)
That’s your final answer, eh? Well, I’m through. I’ve done all I could.
If you want to play the brute—to forget all that was most dear in the
world to Martha—to go your own damn selfish way—well, there’s nothing
more to be said. You will be punished for it, believe me! (He takes a step toward the door.)
And I—I want you to understand that all friendship ceases between us
from this day. You are not the Curt I thought I knew—and I have nothing
but a feeling of repulsion—good-by. (He starts for the door.)
CURTIS—(Dully.) Good-by, Big.
BIGELOW—(Stops, his features working with grief and looks back at his friendthen suddenly goes back to himpenitently.)
Curt! Forgive me! I ought to know better. This isn’t you. You’ll come to
yourself when you’ve had time to think it over. The memory of
Martha—she’ll tell you what you must do. (He wrings CURTS hand.) Good-by, old scout!
(BIGELOW hurries out, rear. CURT sits in a dumb apathy for a whilethen groans heart-brokenly.)
Martha! Martha! (He springs to his feet distractedly. The door of the study is slowly opened and SHEFFIELD peers out cautiouslythen comes into the room, followed by the others. They all take seats as before. CURT ignores them.)
SHEFFIELD—(Clearing his throat.)
CURTIS—(Suddenly.) What time is it, do you know!
SHEFFIELD—(Looking at his watch.) Two minutes to four.
CURTIS—(Impatiently.) Still an hour more of this!
JAYSON—(Clearing his throat.)
Curt— (Before he starts what he intends to say, there is the sound of voices from the hall. ESTHER and LILY help in MRS. DAVIDSON to her former chair. The old ladys face is again transformed with joy. ESTHER joins EMILY on the couch. LILY sits in chairfront right. There is a long, uncomfortable pause during which CURT paces up and down.)
MRS. DAVIDSON—(Suddenly murmuring aloud to herselfhappily.) Hes such a dear! I could stay watching him forever.
Aunt! (Then clearing his throat again.) Surely youre not still thinking of going on the five oclock train, are you, Curt?
Then Mr. Bigelow didn’t persuade you—
CURTIS—(Coldly and impatiently.)
I’m not to be persuaded by Big or anyone else. And I’ll thank you not to
talk any more about it. (They all stiffen resentfully at his tone.)
JAYSON—(To CURTin a pleading tone.)
You mustn’t be unreasonable, Curt. After all we are your family—your
best friends in the world—and we are only trying to help you—
CURTIS—(With nervous vehemence.) I dont want your help. You will help me most by keeping silent.
EMILY—(With a meaning look at the otherssneeringly.) Yes, no doubt.
But, you see, Curt—
SHEFFIELD—(With his best judicial air.)
If you’ll all allow me to be the spokesman, I think perhaps that I— (They all nod and signify their acquiescence.)
Well, then, will you listen to me, Curt? (This last somewhat impatiently as CURT continues to pace, eyes on the floor.)
CURTIS—(Without looking at himharshly.) Yes, Im listening. What else can I do when youve got me cornered? Say what you like and lets get this over.
of all, Curt, I hope it is needless for me to express how very deeply we
all feel for you in your sorrow. But we sincerely trust that you are
aware of our heartfelt sympathy. (They all nod. A bitter, cynical smile comes over LILYS face.)
ESTHER—(Suddenly breaking down and beginning to weep.) Poor Martha!
(SHEFFIELD glances at his wife, impatient at this interruption. The others also show their irritation.)
EMILY—(Pettishly.) Esther! For goodness sake!
(CURT hesitates, stares at his sister frowningly as if judging her sinceritythen bends down over her and kisses the top of her bowed head impulsivelyseems about to break down himselfgrits his teeth and forces it backglances around at the others defiantly and resumes his pacing. ESTHER dries her eyes, forcing a trembling smile. The cry has done her good.)
SHEFFIELD—(Clearing his throat.)
I may truthfully say we all feel—as Esther does—even if we do not give
vent— (With an air of sincere sympathy.) I know how terrible a
day this must be for you, Curt. We all do. And we feel guilty in
breaking in upon the sanctity of your sorrow in any way. But, if you
will pardon my saying so, your own course of action—the suddenness of
your plans—have made it imperative that we come to an understanding
about certain things—about one thing in particular, I might say. (He pauses. CURT goes on pacing back and forth as if he hadnt heard.)
JAYSON—(Placatingly.) Yes, it is for the best, Curt.
ESTHERYes, Curt dear, you mustnt be unreasonable.
DICK—(Feeling called upon to say something.)
Yes, old man, you’ve got to face things like a regular. Facts are facts.
(This makes everybody uneasy.)
LILY—(Springing to her feet.)
Phew! it’s close in here. I’m going out in the garden. You can call me
when these—orations—are finished. (She sweeps out scornfully.)
JAYSON—(Calling after her imperiously.)
Lily! (But she doesnt answer and he gives it up with a hopeless sigh.)
CURTIS—(Harshly.) What time is it?
SHEFFIELDYou have plenty of time to listen to what II should rather say wehave to ask you, Curt. I promise to be brief. But first let me again impress upon you that I am talking in a spirit of the deepest friendliness and sympathy with youas a fellow-member of the same family, I may sayand with the highest ideals and the honor of that family always in view.
(CURT makes no comment. SHEFFIELD unconsciously begins to adopt the alert keenness of the cross-examiner.) First, let me ask you, is it your intention to take that five oclock train to-day?
CURTIS—(Harshly.) Ive told you that.
SHEFFIELDAnd then youll join this expedition to Asia?
CURTISYou know that.
SHEFFIELDTo be gone five years?
CURTIS—(Shrugging his shoulders.) More or less.
SHEFFIELDIs it your intention to return here at any time before you leave for Asia?
SHEFFIELDAnd your determination on these plans is irrevocable?
CURTISIrrevocable! Exactly. Please remember that.
SHEFFIELD—(Sharply.) That being your attitude, I will come bluntly to the core of the whole matterthe child whose coming into the world cost Martha her life.
Her murderer! You are right! (They all look shocked, suspicious.)
SHEFFIELD—(Remonstratingly but suspiciously.)
You can hardly hold the child responsible for the terrible outcome.
Women die every day from the same cause. (Keenly.) Why do you attribute guilt to the child in this case, Curt?
CURTISIt lives and Martha is goneBut, enough! Ive said I never wanted it mentioned to me. Will you please remember that?
SHEFFIELD—(Sharply.) Its name is Jayson, Curtin the eyes of the law. Will you please remember that?
I don’t want to remember anything! (Wildly.) Please, for Gods sake, leave me alone!
SHEFFIELD—(Coldly.) I am sorry, Curt, but you cannot act as if you were alone in this affair.
CURTISWhy not? Am I not alonemore alone this minute than any creature on Gods earth?
In your great grief. Yes, yes, of course. We all appreciate—and we hate
to— (Persuasively.) Yes, it would be much wiser to postpone these
practical considerations until you are in a calmer mood. And if you will
only give us the chance—why not put off this precipitate departure—for a
month, say—and in the meantime—
CURTIS—(Harshly.) I am going when I said I was. I must get away from this horrible holeas far away as I can. I must get back to my work for only in it will I find Martha again. But youyou cant understand that. What is the good of all this talking which leads nowhere?
SHEFFIELD—(Coldly.) Youre mistaken. It leads to this: Do you understand that your running away from this childon the very day of its mothers funeral!will have a very queer appearance in the eyes of the world?
EMILYAnd what are you going to do with the baby, Curt? Do you think you can run off regardless and leave it hereon our hands?
I’ll give it this home. And someone—anyone—Esther, Lily—can appoint a
nurse to live here and— (Breaking down.) Oh, dont bother me!
SHEFFIELD—(Sharply.) In the worlds eyes, it will appear precious like a desertion on your part.
arrange it to suit yourselves—anything you wish—
I’ll take you at your word. Then let us arrange it this way. You will
remain here a month longer at least—
SHEFFIELD—(Ignoring the interruption.)
You can make plans for the child’s future in that time, become
reconciled to it—
JAYSON—(Pleadingly.) Curtpleasefor all our sakeswhen the honor of the family is at stake.
DICKYes, old man, theres that about it, you know.
EMILYOh, hes impossible!
Curt misunderstood me. (Meaningly.) Be reconciled to it in the eyes of the public, Curt. Thats what I meant. Your own private feelings in the matterare no ones business but your own, of course.
CURTIS—(Bewilderedly.) ButI dont see Oh, damn your eyes of the public!
EMILY—(Breaking in.) Its all very well for you to ignore what people in town thinkyoull be in China or heaven knows where. The scandal wont touch youbut weve got to live here and have our position to consider.
Scandal? What scandal? (Then with a harsh laugh.) Oh, you mean
the imbecile busy-bodies will call me an unnatural father. Well, let
them! I suppose I am. But they don’t know—
EMILY—(Spitefully.) Perhaps they know more than you think they do.
CURTIS—(Turning on hersharply.) Just what do you mean by that, eh?
JAYSON—(Flurriedly.) Be still, Emily. Let Mark do the talking.
SHEFFIELD—(Interposing placatingly.) What Emily means is simply this, Curt: You havent even been to look at this child since it has been bornnot once, have you?
and I never intend—
SHEFFIELD—(Insinuatingly.) And dont you suppose the doctors and nursesand the servantshave noticed this? It is not the usual procedure, you must acknowledge, and they wouldnt be human if they didnt think your actionor lack of actionpeculiar and comment on it outside.
CURTISWell, let them! Do you think I care a fiddlers curse how people judge me?
is hardly a case of their judging—you. (Breaking off as he catches CURTS tortured eyes fixed on him wildly.)
This is a small town, Curt, and you know as well as I do, gossip is not
the least of its faults. It doesn’t take long for such things to get
started. (Persuasively.) Now I ask you frankly, is it wise to provoke deliberately what may easily be set at rest by a littleIll be franka little pretense on your part?
my boy. As a Jayson, I know you don’t wish—
ESTHER—(With a sigh.) Yes, you really must think of us, Curt.
CURTIS—(In an acute state of muddled confusion.)
But—I—you—how are you concerned? Pretense? You mean you want me to stay
and pretend—in order that you won’t be disturbed by any silly tales they
tell about me? (With a wild laugh.) Good God, this is too much!
Why does a man have to be maddened by fools at such a time! (Raging.) Leave me alone! Youre like a swarm of poisonous flies.
This is—really—when we’ve tried to be so considerate—
JOHN—(Bursting with rage.) Its an outrage to allow such insults!
DICKYoure not playing the game, Curt.
EMILY—(Spitefully.) It seems to me its much more for Marthas sake, were urging you than for our own. After all, the town cant say anything against us.
CURTIS—(Turning on her.)
Martha’s sake? (Brokenly.) Martha is gone. Leave her out of this.
But unfortunately, Curt, others will not leave her out of this. They
will pry and pry—you know what they are—and—
EMILYCurt couldnt act the way he is doing if he ever really cared for her.
dare to say that! (Then controlling himself a bitwith scathing scorn.)
What do know of love—women like you! You call your little rabbit-hutch
emotions love—your bread-and-butter passions—and you have the effrontery
EMILY—(Shrinking from him frightenedly.) Oh! John!
JOHN—(Getting to his feet.)
I protest! I cannot allow even my own brother—
DICK—(Grabbing his arm.) Keep your head, old boy.
SHEFFIELD—(Peremptorily.) You are making a fool of yourself, Curtand you are damned insulting in the bargain. I think I may say that weve all about reached the end of our patience. What Emily said is for your own best interest, if you had the sense to see it. And I put it to you once and for all: Are you or are you not willing to act like a man of honor to protect your own good name, the family name, the name of this child, and your wifes memory? Let me tell you, your wifes good name is more endangered by your stubbornness than anything else.
CURTIS—(Trembling with rage.)
I—I begin to think—you—all of you—are aiming at something against Martha
in this. Yes—in back of your words—your actions—I begin to feel— (Raging.) Go away! Get out of this houseall of you! Oh, I know your meanness! Ive seen how youve tried to hurt her ever since we camebecause you resented in your small minds her evident superiority
EMILY—(Scornfully.) Superiority, indeed!
breadth of mind and greatness of soul that you couldn’t understand. I’ve
guessed all this, and if I haven’t interfered it’s only because I knew
she was too far above you to notice your sickening malice—
You’re only acting—acting for our benefit because you think we don’t—
CURTIS—(Turning on herwith annihilating contempt.)
Why, you—you poor little nonentity! (John struggles to get forward but Dick holds him back.)
EMILY—(Insane with rageshrilly.)
But we know—and the whole town knows—and you needn’t pretend you’ve been
blind. You’ve given the whole thing away yourself—the silly way you’ve
acted—telling everyone how you hated that baby—letting everyone see—
(The others are all frightened, try to interrupt her. CURT stares at her in a stunned bewilderment.)
EMILY—(Pouring forth all her venom regardless.) But you might as well leave off your idiotic pretending. It doesnt fool usor anyone elseyour sending for Bigelow that nightyour hobnobbing with him ever sinceyour pretending hes as much your friend as ever. Theyre all afraid of youbut Im not! I tell you to your faceits all acting youre doingjust cheap acting to try and pull the wool over our eyes until youve run away like a cowardand left us to face the disgrace for you with this child on our hands!
ESTHER—(Trying to silence herexcitedly.)
Emily! Keep still, for Heaven’s sake! (The others all utter exclamations of caution, with fearful glances at CURT.)
EMILY—(Becoming exhausted by her outburstmore faintly.)
Well, someone had to show him his place. He thinks he’s so superior to
us just because—telling us how much better she was than— But I won’t
stand for that. I’ve always had a clean name—and always will—and my
children, too, thank God! (She sinks down on the couch exhausted, panting but still glaring defiantly at CURT.)
CURTIS—(An awareness of her meaning gradually forcing itself on his mind.)
Bigelow! Big? Pretending he’s as much my friend— (With a sudden gasp of sickened understanding.)
Oh! (He sways as if he were about to fall, shrinking away from EMILY, all horror.) Oh, youyouyoufilth!
JOHN—(His fists clenched, tries to advance on his brother.)
How dare you insult my wife! (He is restrained, held back by his remonstrating father and DICK.)
MRS. DAVIDSON—(As if suddenly coming out of a dreamfrightenedly.) What is the matter? Why is John mad at Curt?
CURTIS—(His hands over his eyes, acting like a person stricken with a sudden attack of nausea, weakly.)
So—that’s—what has been in your minds. Oh, this is bestial—disgusting!
And there is nothing to be done. I feel defenseless. One would have to
be as low as you are— She would have been defenseless, too. It is better
she is dead. (He stares about himwildly.) And you think—you
ESTHER—(Pityingly.) Curt, dear, we dont think anything except what youve made us think with your crazy carrying-on.
CURTIS—(Looking from one to the other of them.)
Yes—all of you—it’s on your faces. (His eyes fix themselves on his aunt.)
No, you don’t—you don’t—
MRS. DAVIDSONI? Dont what, Curtis? My, how sick you look, poor boy!
the sweetest baby I ever saw (proudly) and Jayson right to the tips of his toes.
I know you— (Looking around at the others with loathing and hatred.)
But look at them— (With a burst of fierce determination.) Wait!
I’ll give you the only answer— (He dashes for the door in rear, shakes off his father and DICK, who try to stop him, and then is heard bounding up the stairs in hall. DICK runs after him, JAYSON as far as the doorway. ESTHER gives a stifled scream. There is a tense pause. Then DICK reappears.)
DICKIts all right. I saw him go in.
JAYSON—(Frightenedly.) Butgood Godhes liablewhy didnt you follow him?
doctor and nurse are there. They would have called out, wouldn’t they,
MRS. DAVIDSON—(Getting angrier and angrier as her puzzlement has grown greaterin a stern tone.) I understand less and less of this. Where has Curtis gone? Why did he act so sick? What is the matter with all of you?
ESTHERNothing, Aunt dear, nothing!
you’ll not hush me up! (Accusingly.) You all look guilty. Have you been saying anything against Curtis baby? That was what Curtis seemed to think. A fine time youve picked outwith his wife not cold in her grave!
never liked that woman. I never understood her. But now—now I love her
and beg her forgiveness. She died like a true woman in the performance
of her duty. She died gloriously—and I will always respect her memory. (Suddenly flying into a passion.)
I feel that you are all hostile to her baby—poor, little, defenseless
creature! Yes, you’d hate the idea of Curtis’ having a son—you and your
girls! Well, I’ll make you bitterly regret the day you— (She plumps herself down in her chair again, staring stubbornly and angrily before her.)
I fear it will be necessary to tell Aunt—
You have made enough trouble with your telling already! (Miserably.) It should never have come to this pass. Curt will never forgive us, never!
ESTHER—(Resentfully to EMILY.) See what not holding your tongue has doneand my children will have to suffer for it, too!
SHEFFIELD—(Severely.) If Emily had permitted me to conduct this business uninterruptedly, this would never have occurred.
right! All pick on me! Cowards! (She breaks down and sobs.)
DICK—(From the doorway. Coming back into the room.) Sstt! Here he comes!
CURTIS—(Reenters. There is a look of strange exultation on his face. He looks from one to the other of them. He stammers.) Wellmy answer to youyour rotten worldI kissed himhe is mine! He looked at meit was as if Martha looked at methrough his eyes.
ESTHER—(Voicing the general relief. Joyfully.) Oh, Curt! You wont go now? Youll stay?
CURTIS—(Staring at her, then from one to another of the rest with a withering scorn.) Ha! Now you think you have conquered, do you? No, Im not going to stay! Do you think your vile slander could influence me to give up my work? And neither shall you influence the life of my son. I leave him here. I must. But not to your tender mercies. No, no! Thank God, there still remains one Jayson with unmuddled
integrity to whom I can appeal. (He goes to MRS. DAVIDSON.) I will leave him in your care, Auntwhile I am gone.
It will be a great happiness. He will be—the one God never granted me. (Her lips trembling.) God has answered my prayer at last.
thank you, Aunt. (Kisses her reverentially.)
MRS. DAVIDSON—(Pleased but morally bound to grumble at him.)
But I cannot approve of your running away like this. It isn’t natural. (Then with selfish haste, fearing her words may change his mind and she will lose the baby.) But you always were a queer personand a man must do faithfully the work ordained for him.
Yes, I must go! What would I be for him—or anyone—if I stayed? Thank
God, you understand. But I will come back. (The light of an ideal beginning to shine in his eyes.)
When he is old enough, I will teach him to know and love a big, free
life. Martha used to say that he would take her part in time. My goal
shall be his goal, too. Martha shall live again for me in him. And you,
Aunt, swear to keep him with you—out there in the country—never to let
him know this obscene little world. (He indicates his relatives.)
I promise, Curtis. Let anyone dare—! (She glares about her. The noise of a motor is heard from the drive. It stops in front of the house.)
must go. (He kisses his aunt.) Teach him his mother was the most beautiful soul that ever lived. Good-by, Aunt.
Curtis! (Without looking at the others, he starts for the door, rear. They all break out into conscience-stricken protestations.)
JAYSON—(Miserably.) Curt! Youre not leaving us that way?
going—without a word! (They all say this practically together and crowd toward him. JOHN and EMILY remain sullenly apart. CURT turns to face them.)
LILY—(Enters from the rear.) Youre not going, Curt?
CURTIS—(Turning to her.)
Yes. Good-by, Lily. (He kisses her.) You loved her, didn’t you?
You are not like— Take my advice and get away before you become— (He has been staring into her face. Suddenly he pushes her brusquely away from himcoldly.) But I see in your face its too late.
No, Curt—I swear—
CURTIS—(Facing them all defiantly.)
Yes, I am going without a word—because I cannot find the fitting one. Be
thankful I can’t. It would shrivel up your souls like flame. (He again turns and strides to the door.)
JAYSON—(His grief overcoming him.) My boy! We are wrongwe knowbutat least say you forgive us.
CURTIS—(Wavers with his back towards themthen turns and forces the words out.)
Ask forgiveness of her. She—yes—she was so fine—I feel she—so you are
forgiven. Good-by. (He goes. The motor is heard driving off. There is a tense pause.)
he did find out? Oh, a fine mess you’ve made of everything! But no—I
should say “we,” shouldn’t I? Curt guessed that. Oh, I hate you—and
myself! (She breaks down.)
(There is a strained pause during which they are all silent, their eyes avoiding each other, fixed in dull, stupid stares. Finally, DICK fidgets uncomfortably, heaves a noisy sigh, and blurts out with an attempt at comforting reassurance:)
DICKWell, it isnt as bad as it might have been, anyway. He did acknowledge the kidbefore witnesses, too.
Keep your remarks to yourself, if you please! (But most of his family are already beginning to look relieved.)
(The Curtain Falls)