Contents I II
III IV V
SCENEThe firemens forecastle. YANKS watch has just come off duty and had dinner. Their faces and bodies shine from a soap and water scrubbing but around their eyes, where a hasty dousing does not touch, the coal dust sticks like black make-up, giving them a queer, sinister expression. YANK has not washed either face or body. He stands out in contrast to them, a blackened, brooding figure. He is seated forward on a bench in the exact attitude of Rodins The Thinker. The others, most of them smoking pipes, are staring at YANK half-apprehensively, as if fearing an outburst; half-amusedly, as if they saw a joke somewhere that tickled them. VOICESHe aint ate nothin.
Py golly, a fallar gat gat grub in him.
Divil a lie.
Yank feeda da fire, no feeda da face.
He aint even washed hisself.
Hey, Yank, you forgot to wash.
YANK(Sullenly.) Forgot nothin! To hell wit washin. VOICESItll stick to you.
Itll get under your skin.
Give yer the bleedin itch, thats
It makes spots on youlike a leopard.
Like a piebald nigger, you mean.
Better wash up, Yank.
You sleep better.
Wash up, Yank.
Wash up! Wash up!
YANK(Resentfully.) Aw say, youse guys. Lemme alone. Cant youse see Im tryin to
ALL(Repeating the word after him as one with cynical mockery.) Think! (The word has a brazen, metallic quality as if their throats were phonograph horns. It is followed by a chorus of hard, barking laughter.)
YANK(Springing to his feet and glaring at them belligerently.) Yes,
tink! Tink, dats what I said! What about it? (They are silent, puzzled by his sudden resentment at what used to be one of his jokes.
YANKsits down again in the same attitude of The Thinker.)
VOICESLeave him alone.
Hes got a grouch on.
Why wouldnt he?
PADDY(With a wink at the others.) Sure I know whats the
matther. Tis aisy to see. Hes fallen in love, Im telling you.
ALL(Repeating the word after him as one with cynical mockery.) Love! (The word has a brazen, metallic quality as if their throats were phonograph horns. It is followed by a chorus of hard, barking laughter.)
YANK(With a contemptuous snort.) Love, hell! Hate, dats what. Ive fallen in hate, get me?
PADDY(Philosophically.) Twould take a wise man to tell one from the other. (With a bitter, ironical scorn, increasing as he goes on.) But Im telling you its love thats in it. Sure what else but love for us poor bastes in the stokehole would be bringing a fine lady, dressed like a white
quane, down a mile of ladders and steps to be havin a look at us? (A growl of anger goes up from all sides.)
LONG(Jumping on a benchhecticly.) Hinsultin us! Hinsultin us, the bloody cow! And them bloody engineers! What right as they got to be exhibitin us s if we was bleedin monkeys in a menagerie? Did we sign for hinsults to our dignity as onest workers? Is that in the ships articles? You kin bloody well bet it aint! But I knows why they done it. I arsked a deck steward o she was and e told me. Er old mans a bleedin millionaire, a bloody Capitalist! Es got enuf bloody gold to sink this bleedin ship! E makes arf the bloody steel in the world! E owns this bloody boat! And you and me, comrades, were is slaves! And the skipper and mates and engineers, theyre is slaves! And shes is bloody daughter and were all er slaves, too! And she gives er orders as ow she wants to see the bloody animals below decks and down they takes er! (There is a roar of rage from all sides.)
YANK(Blinking at him bewilderedly.) Say! Wait a moment! Is all dat straight goods?
as string! The bleedin’ steward as waits on ’em, ’e told me about ’er.
And what’re we goin’ ter do, I arsks yer? ’Ave we got ter swaller ’er
hinsults like dogs? It ain’t in the ship’s articles. I tell yer we got a
case. We kin go ter law—
YANK(With abysmal contempt.) Hell! Law!
ALL(Repeating the word after him as one with cynical mockery.) Law! (The word has a brazen metallic quality as if their throats were phonograph horns. It is followed by a chorus of hard, barking laughter.)
LONG(Feeling the ground slipping from under his feetdesperately.)
As voters and citizens we kin force the bloody governments—
YANK(With abysmal contempt.) Hell! Governments!
ALL(Repeating the word after him as one with cynical mockery.) Governments! (The word has a brazen metallic quality as if their throats were phonograph horns. It is followed by a chorus of hard, barking laughter.)
We’re free and equal in the sight of God—
YANK(With abysmal contempt.) Hell! God!
ALL(Repeating the word after him as one with cynical mockery.) God! (The word has a brazen metallic quality as if their throats were phonograph horns. It is followed by a chorus of hard, barking laughter.)
YANK(Witheringly.) Aw, join de Salvation Army!
ALLSit down! Shut up! Damn fool! Sea-lawyer! (Long slinks back out of sight.)
PADDY(Continuing the trend of his thoughts as if he had never been interruptedbitterly.) And there she was standing behind us, and the Second pointing at us like a man youd hear in a circus would be saying: In this cage is a queerer kind of baboon than ever youd find in darkest
Africy. We roast them in their own sweatand be damned if you wont hear some of thim saying they like it! (He glances scornfully at YANK.)
YANK(With a bewildered uncertain growl.) Aw!
there was Yank roarin’ curses and turning round wid his shovel to brain
her—and she looked at him, and him at her—
YANK(Slowly.) She was all white. I tought she was a ghost. Sure.
PADDY(With heavy, biting sarcasm.) Twas love at first sight, divil a doubt of it! If youd seen the endearin look on her pale mug when she shrivelled away with her hands over her eyes to shut out the sight of him! Sure, twas as if shed seen a great hairy ape escaped from the Zoo!
YANK(Stungwith a growl of rage.) Aw!
PADDYAnd the loving way Yank heaved his shovel at the skull of her, only she was out the door! (A grin breaking over his face.) Twas touching, Im telling you! It put the touch of home, swate home in the
stokehole. (There is a roar of laughter from all.)
YANK(Glaring at PADDY menacingly.) Aw, choke dat off, see!
PADDY(Not heeding himto the others.) And her grabbin at the Seconds arm for protection. (With a grotesque imitation of a womans voice.) Kiss me, Engineer dear, for its dark down here and me old mans in Wall Street making money! Hug me tight, darlin, for Im afeerd in the dark and me mothers on deck makin eyes at the skipper! (Another roar of laughter.)
YANK(Threateningly.) Say! What yuh tryin to do, kid me, yuh old Harp?
PADDYDivil a bit! Aint I wishin myself youd brained her?
YANK(Fiercely.) Ill brain her! Ill brain her yet, wait n see! (Coming over to PADDYslowly.) Say, is dat what she called mea hairy ape?
PADDYShe looked it at you if she didnt say the word itself.
YANK(Grinning horribly.) Hairy ape, huh? Sure! Dats de way she looked at me, aw right. Hairy ape! So dats me, huh? (Bursting into rageas if she were still in front of him.) Yuh skinny tart! Yuh white-faced bum,
yuh! Ill show yuh whos a ape! (Turning to the others, bewilderment seizing him again.) Say, youse guys. I was bawlin him out for pullin de whistle on us. You heard me. And den I seen youse lookin at somepn and I tought hed sneaked down to come up in back of me, and I hopped round to knock him dead wit de shovel. And dere she was wit de light on her! Christ, yuh coulda pushed me over with a finger! I was scared, get me? Sure! I tought she was a ghost, see? She was all in white like dey wrap around stiffs. You seen her. Kin yuh blame me? She didnt belong, dats what. And den when I come to and seen it was a real skoit and seen de way she was lookin at melike Paddy saidChrist, I was sore, get me? I dont stand for dat stuff from nobody. And I flung de shovelony shed beat it. (Furiously.) I wished itd banged her! I wished itd knocked her block off!
LONGAnd be anged for murder or lectrocuted? She aint bleedin well worth it.
don’t give a damn what! I’d be square wit her, wouldn’t I? Tink I wanter
let her put somep’n over on me? Tink I’m goin’ to let her git away wit
dat stuff? Yuh don’t know me! Noone ain’t never put nothin’ over on me
and got away wit it, see!—not dat kind of stuff—no guy and no skoit
neither! I’ll fix her! Maybe she’ll come down again—
VOICENo chance, Yank. You scared her out of a years growth.
YANKI scared her? Why de hell should I scare her? Who de hell is she? Aint she de same as me? Hairy ape, huh? (With his old confident bravado.) Ill show her Im bettern her, if she ony knew it. I belong and she dont, see! I move and shes dead! Twenty-five knots a hour, dats me! Dat carries her but I make
dat. Shes ony baggage. Sure! (Again bewilderedly.) But, Christ, she was funny lookin! Did yuh pipe her hands? White and skinny. Yuh could see de bones trough em. And her mush, dat was dead white, too. And her eyes, dey was like deyd seen a ghost. Me, dat was! Sure! Hairy ape! Ghost, huh? Look at dat arm! (He extends his right arm, swelling out the great muscles.) I coulda took her wit
dat, wit just my little finger even, and broke her in two. (Again bewilderedly.) Say, who is dat
skoit, huh? What is she? Whats she come from? Who made her? Who give her de noive to look at me like
dat? Dis tings got my goat right. I dont get her. Shes new to me. What does a skoit like her mean, huh? She dont belong, get me! I cant see her. (With growing anger.) But one ting Im wise to, aw right, aw right! Youse all kin bet your shoits Ill git even wit her. Ill show her if she tinks sheShe grinds de organ and Im on de string, huh? Ill fix her! Let her come down again and Ill fling her in de furnace! Shell move den! She wont shiver at nothin, den! Speed, datll be her! Shell belong den! (He grins horribly.)
PADDYShell never come. Shes had her belly-full, Im telling you. Shell be in bed now, Im thinking, wid ten doctors and nurses feedin her salts to clean the fear out of her.
YANK(Enraged.) Yuh tink I made her sick, too, do
yuh? Just lookin at me, huh? Hairy ape, huh? (In a frenzy of rage.) Ill fix her! Ill tell her where to git off! Shell git down on her knees and take it back or Ill bust de face offen her! (Shaking one fist upward and beating on his chest with the other.) Ill find
yuh! Im comin, dyuh hear? Ill fix yuh, God damn
yuh! (He makes a rush for the door.)
Hell get shot!
Hell murder her!
Trip him up!
Hes gone crazy!
Gott, hes strong!
Hold him down!
Look out for a kick!
Pin his arms!
(They have all piled on him and, after a fierce struggle, by sheer weight of numbers have borne him to the floor just inside the door.)
PADDY(Who has remained detached.) Kape him down till hes cooled off. (Scornfully.)
Yerra, Yank, youre a great fool. Is it payin attention at all you are to the like of that skinny sow widout one drop of rale blood in her?
YANK(Frenziedly, from the bottom of the heap.) She done me
doit! She done me doit, didnt she? Ill git square with her! Ill get her some way! Git offen me, youse guys! Lemme up! Ill show her whos a ape!