STEVE, a "Cadet"
TIM MORGAN, a Yeggman
TWO PLAIN CLOTHES
squalid bedroom on the top floor of
a rooming house on the lower East Side, New York. The wall paper is dirty
and torn in places showing the plaster beneath. There is an open window
in back looking out on a fire escape on which a bottle of milk can be
seen. On the right is a door leading to the hallway. On the left a
wash-stand with a bowl and pitcher, and some meager articles of a
woman’s toilet-set scattered on it. Above the wash-stand a cracked
mirror hangs from a nail in the wall. In the middle of the room stands a
rickety table and a chair. In the left hand corner near the window is a
bed in which a baby is lying asleep. A gas
jet near the mirror furnishes the only light.
Rose Thomas, a dark-haired young
woman looking thirty but really only twenty-two, is discovered sitting on
the chair smoking a cheap Virginia cigarette. An empty beer bottle and a
dirty glass stand on the table beside her. Her hat, a gaudy, cheap affair
with a scraggy, imitation plume, is also on the table. Rose is dressed in
the tawdry extreme of fashion. She has earrings in her ears, bracelets on
both wrists, and a quantity of rings—none of them genuine. Her face is
that of a person in an advanced stage of consumption —deathly pale with
hollows in under the eyes, which are wild and feverish. Her attitude is
one of the deepest dejection. When she glances over at the bed, however,
her expression grows tenderly maternal. From time to time she coughs—a
harsh, hacking cough that shakes her whole body. After these spells she
raises her handkerchief to her lips—then glances at it fearfully.
The time is in the early hours
of a rainy summer night. The monotonous sound of the rain falling on the
flags of the court below is heard.
ROSE—(listening to the rain—throws the cigarette wearily on the table)
Gawd! What a night! (laughing
What a chance I got! (She has a sudden fit of coughing; then gets up and goes over to the bed
and bending down gently kisses the sleeping child on the forehead. She
turns away with a sob and murmurs)
What a life! Poor kid! (She
goes over to the mirror and makes up her eyes and cheeks. The effect is
ghastly. Her blackened eyes look enormous and the dabs of rouge on each
cheek serve to
heighten her aspect of
feverish illness. Just as she
has completed her toilet and is putting on her hat in front of the mirror,
the door is flung open and Steve lurches in and bolts the door after him.
He has very evidently been drinking. In appearance he is a typical
“cadet,” flashily dressed, rat-eyed, weak of mouth, undersized, and
showing on his face the effects of drink and drugs.)
putting her hat down on the wash-stand— half frightened)
STEVE—(looking her up and down with a sneer) Yuh’re a fine lookin’ mess! (He
walks over and sits down in the chair.)
Yuh look like a dead one. Put on some paint and cheer up! Yuh give me
the willies standin’ there like a ghost.
ROSE—(rushes over to mirror and plasters on more rouge—then
Look, Steve! Ain’t that better?
STEVE—Better? Naw, but it’ll do. (seeing
empty beer bottle)
Gimme a drink!
know there ain’t any. That’s the bottle yuh brought up last night.
STEVE—(with peevish anger) Yuh lie! I’ll bet yuh got some burried around here some place.
Yuh’re always holdin’ out on me and yuh got to quit it, see?
never hold out on yuh and yuh know it. That’s all the thanks I get. (angrily) What’ud yuh do if I was like Bessie with your friend Jack? Then
yuh might have some chance to kick. She’s got enough salted to leave him
any time she wants to—and he knows it and sticks to her like glue. Yuh
don’t notice him runnin’ after every doll he sees like some guys I
know. He’s afraid of losin’ her—while you
STEVE—(flattered—in a conciliating tone) Aw, shut up! Yuh make me sick with dat line of bull. Who said I was
chasin’ any dolls? (then venomously) I’m not so sure Jack is wise to Bessie holdin’ out on him; but
I’ll tell him, and if he isn’t wise to it, Bessie’ll be in for a
don’t do that! What ‘cha got against her? She ain’t done nothin’
to you, has she?
STEVE—Naw; but she oughta be learned a lesson
dat’s all. She oughta be on the level with him. Us guys has got to stand
together. What’ud we do if all youse dolls got holdin’ out on the
ROSE—(dejectedly) Don’t ask me. I dunno. It’s a bum game all round. (She
fit of horrible coughing.)
STEVE—(his nerves shattered) Dammit! Stop that barkin’. It goes right trou me. Git some
medicine for it, why don’t yuh?
ROSE—(wiping her lips with her handkerchief) I did but it ain’t no good.
STEVE—Then git somethin’ else. I told yuh months
ago to go and see a doctor. Did yuh?
ROSE—(nervously, after a pause) No.
STEVE—Well den, yuh can’t blame me. It’s up to
ROSE—(speaking eagerly and beseechingly, almost in tears) Listen, Steve! Let me stay in to-night and go to the Doc’s. I’m
sick. (pointing to breast) I got pains here and it seems as if I was on fire inside. Sometimes
I git dizzy and everythin’ goes round and round. Anyway it’s rainin’
and my shoes are full of holes. There won’t be no one out tonight, and
even if there was they’re all afraid of me on account of this cough.
Gimme a couple of dollars and let me go to the Doc’s and git some
medicine. Please, Steve, for Gawd’s sake! I’ll make it up to yuh when
I’m well. I’ll be makin’ lots of coin then and yuh kin have it all. (goes off into a paroxysm of coughing) I’m so sick!
STEVE—(in indignant amazement) A couple of beans! What’d’yuh think I am—the mint?
yuh had lots of coin this mornin’. Didn’t I give yuh all I had?
STEVE—(sullenly) Well, I ain’t got it now, see? I got into a game at Tony’s
place and they cleaned me. I ain’t got a nick. (with sudden anger) And I wouldn’t give it to yuh if I had it. D’yuh think I’m a
simp to be gittin’ yuh protection and keepin’ the bulls from runnin’
yuh in when all yuh do is to stick at home and play dead? If yuh want any
coin git out and make it. That’s all I got to say.
So that’s all yuh got to say, is it? Well, I’ll hand yuh a tip right
here. I’m gittin’ sick of givin’ yuh my roll and gittin’ nothin’
but abuse in retoin. Yuh’re half drunk now. And yuh been hittin’ the
pipe too; I kin tell by the way your eyes look. D’yuh think I’m
goin’ to stand for a guy that’s always full of booze and hop? Not so
yuh could notice it! There’s too many others I kin get.
eyes narrow and his voice becomes loud and threatening.)
Can that chatter, d’yuh hear me? If yuh ever t’row me down—look
out! I’ll get yuh!
Get me? Wha’d I care? D’yuh think I’m so stuck on this life I
wanta go on livin’? Kill me! Wha’d I care?
up from the table and raises his hand as if to
strike her. He shouts)
Fur Chris’ sake, shut up! (The
baby, awakened by the loud voices, commences to cry.)
anger gone in a
Sssshhh! There, we woke her up. Keep still, Steve. I’ll go out, yuh
needn’t worry. Jest don’t make so much noise, that’s all. (She
goes over to the bed and cuddles the child. It soon falls asleep again.
She begins to cough and rising to her feet walks away from the bed keeping
her face turned away from the baby.)
has been watching her with a malignant sneer)
Yuh’ll have to take that kid out of the bed. I gotta git some sleep.
Steve, where’ll I put her? There’s no place else.
the floor—any place. Wha’d I care where yuh put it?
Aw please, Steve! Be a good guy! She won’t bother yuh none. She’s
fast asleep. Yuh got three-quarters of the bed to lie on. Let her stay
Yuh heard what I said, didn’t yuh? Git busy, then. Git her Out of there.
I won’t do it.
won’t, eh? Den I will. (He
makes a move toward the bed.)
between him and the bed in a resolute attitude, speaks slowly and
I’ve stood about enough from you. Don’t yuh dare touch her or
a bit shaken in his coward soul however)
What’ll yuh do? Don’t try and bluff me. And now we’re talkin’
about it I wanta tell yuh that kid has got to go. I’ve stood fur it as
long as I kin with its ballin’ and whinin’. Yuh gotta git rid of it,
that’s all. Give it to some orphan asylum. They’ll take good care of
it. I know what I’m talkin’ about cause I was brung up in one myself (with
want with a kid? (Rose
A fine mother you are and
dis is a swell dump to bring up a family in.
Steve for the love of Gawd lemme keep her! She’s all I got to live for.
If yuh take her away I’ll die. I’ll kill myself.
STEVE—(contemptuously) Dat‘s what they all say. But she’s got to go. All yuh do now is
fuss over dat kid, comin’ home every ten minutes to see if it’s hungry
or somethin’! Dat’s why we’re broke all the time. I’ve stood fur
it long enough.
ROSE—(on her knees —weeping) Please, Steve, for Gawd’s sake lemme keep her!
STEVE—(coldly) Stop dat blubberin’. It won’t do no good. I give yuh a week. If
yuh don’t git dat brat outa here in a week den I will.
mean? What’ll yuh do?
have yuh pinched and sent to the Island. The kid’ll be took away from
Yuh’re jest tryin’ to scare me, ain’t yuh, Steve? They
wouldn’t do that, would they?
soon know whether dey would or not.
yuh wouldn’t have me pinched, would yuh, Steve? Yuh wouldn’t do me
dirt like that?
wouldn’t, wouldn’t I? Yuh jest wait and see!
Steve, I always been good to you.
dat kid outa here or I’ll put yuh in the cooler as sure as hell!
ROSE—(maddened, rushing at him with outstretched hands) Yuh dirty dog! (There
is a struggle during which the table is overturned. Finally Steve frees
himself and hits her in the face with his fist, knocking her down. At the
same instant the door from the hallway is forced open and Tim Moran pushes
his way in. He is short and thick set, with a bullet head, close-cropped
black hair, a bull neck, and small blue eyes set close together. Although
distinctly a criminal type his face is in part redeemed by its look of
manliness. He is dressed in dark ill-fitting clothes, and has an automatic
revolver in his hand which he keeps pointed at Steve.)
TIM—(pointing to the door, speaks to Steve with cold contempt)
Git outa here, yuh lousy skunk, and stay out! (as
Steve’s hand goes to his hip)
Take yer hand away from that gat
or I’ll fill yuh full of holes. (Steve
is cowed and obeys.)
Now git out and don’t come back. If yuh bother this goil again
I’ll fix yuh and fix yuh right. D’yuh get me?
STEVE—(snarling, and slinking toward door) Yuh think yuh’re some smart, dontcha, buttin’ in dis way on a
guy? It ain’t none of your business. She’s my goil.
TIM—D’yuh think I’m goin’ to stand by and
let yuh beat her up jest cause she wants to keep her kid? D’yuh think
I’m as low as you are, yuh dirty mut? Git outa here before I croak yuh.
STEVE—(standing in the doorway and looking back) Yuh got the drop on me now; but I’ll get yuh, yuh wait and see! (to
And you too. (He
goes out and can be heard descending the stairs. Rose hurries over to the
door and tries to lock it, but the lock is shattered, so she puts the
chair against it to keep it shut. She then goes over to the baby, who has
been whimpering unnoticed during the quarrel, and soothes her to sleep
again. Tim, looking embarrassed, puts the revolver back in his pocket and
picking up the table sets it to rights again and sits on the edge of it.
Rose looks up at him from the bed, half bewildered at seeing him still
there. Then she breaks into convulsive sobbing.)
TIM—(making a clumsy attempt at consolation) There, there, Kid, cut the cryin’. He won’t bother yuh no more.
I know his kind. He’s got a streak of yellow a yard wide, and beatin’
up women is all he’s game for. But he won’t hurt you
no more—not if I know it.
don’t know him. When he’s full of booze and hop he’s liable to do
anythin’. I don’t care what he does to me. I might as well be dead
anyway. But there’s the kid. I got to look after her. And (looking
at him gratefully)
I don’t want you to git in no mixups on account of me. I ain’t
Nix on that stuff about your not bein’ worth it!
Thanks. And I’m mighty glad yuh came in when yuh did. Gawd knows what
he’d’a done to the kid and me not able to stop him.
TIM—Don’t yuh worry about my gettin’ into no
mix-ups. I c’n take care of myself.
did yuh happen to blow in when yuh did?
There usually ain’t no one around in this dump at this time of the
TIM—I got the room next to yuh. I heard every word
the both of yuh said—tonight and every other night since I come here a
week ago. I know the way he’s treated yuh. I’d’a butted in sooner
only I didn’t want to mix in other people’s business. But tonight when
he started in about the kid there I couldn’t stand fur it no longer. I
was jest wantin’ to hand him a call and I let him have it. Why d’yuh
stand fur him anyway? Why don’t yuh take the kid and beat it away from
It’s easy to say: “Why don’t I beat it?” I can’t.
TIM—Wha’d’yuh mean? Why can’t yuh?
never have enough coin to make a good break and git out of town. He takes
it all away from me. And if I went to some other part of this burg he’d
find me and kill me. Even if he didn’t kill me he’d have me pinched
and where’ud the kid be then? (grimly)
Oh, he’s got me where he wants me all right, all right.
TIM—I don’t get yuh? How could he have yuh
pinched if yuh ain’t done nothin’?
he’s got a drag somewhere. He squares it with the cops so they don’t
hold me up for walkin’ the streets. Yuh ought to be wise enough to know
all of his kind stand in. If he tipped them off to do it they’d pinch me
before I’d gone a block. Then it’ud be the Island fur mine.
TIM—Then why don’t yuh cut this life and be on
the level? Why don’t yuh git a job some place? He couldn’t touch yuh
Oh, couldn’t he? D’yuh suppose they’d keep me any place if they
knew what I was? And d’yuh suppose he wouldn’t tell them or have
some one else tell them? Yuh don’t know the game I’m up against. (bitterly) I’ve tried that job thing. I’ve looked fur decent work and
I’ve starved at it. A year after I first hit this town I quit and tried
to be on the level. I got a job at housework—workin’ twelve hours a
day for twenty-five dollars a month. And I worked like a dog, too, and
never left the house I was so scared of seein’ some one who knew me. But
what was the use? One night they have a guy to dinner who’s seen me some
place when I was on the town. He tells the lady—his duty he said it
was—and she fires me right off the reel. I tried the same thing a lot of
times. But there was always some one who’d drag me back. And then I quit
tryin’. There didn’t seem to be no use. They—all the good
people—they got me where I am and they’re goin’ to keep me there.
Reform? Take it from me it can’t be done. They won’t let yuh do it,
and that’s Gawd’s truth.
TIM—Give it another trial any way. Yuh never know
your luck. Yuh might be able to stick this time.
Talk is cheap. Yuh don’t know what yuh’re talkin’ about. What job
c’n I git? What am I fit fur? Housework is the only thing I know about
and I don’t know much about that. Where else could I make enough to live
on? That’s the trouble with all us girls. Most all of us ud like to come
back but we jest can’t and that’s all there’s to it. We can’t work
out of this life because we don’t know how to work. We was never taught
how. (She shakes with a horrible fit
of coughing, wipes her lips, and smiles pitifully.)
Who d’yuh think would take a chance on hiring me the way I look and
with this cough? Besides, there’s the kid. (sarcastically)
Yuh may not know it but people ain’t strong for hirin’ girls with
babies—especially when the girls ain’t married.
TIM—But yuh could send the kid away some place.
No. She’s all I got. I won’t give her up. (She coughs again.)
That’s a bad cough yuh got, Kid. I heard yuh tellin’ him tonight
yuh hadn’t seen a doctor. (putting
hand in his pocket)
I’ll stake yuh and yuh c’n run around and see one now.
jest the same but it ain’t no use. I lied to Steve. I went to a doc
about a month ago. He told me I had the “con” and had it bad. (with
He said the only hope fur me was to git out in the country, sleep in
the open air, and eat a lot of good food. He might jest as well ‘uv told
me to go to Heaven and I told him so. Then he said I could go out to some
dump where yuh don’t have to pay nothin’, but he said I’d have to
leave the kid behind. I told him I’d rather die than do that, and he
said I’d have to be careful or the kid ‘ud catch it from me. And I
have been careful. (She sobs.)
I don’t even kiss her on the mouth no more.
TIM—Yuh sure are up against it, Kid. (He
appears deeply moved.)
Gee, I thought I was in bad, but yuh got me skinned to death.
ROSE—(interested) You in bad? Yuh don’t look it.
TIM—Listen! Yuh talk about tryin’ to be good and
not bein’ able to— Well, I been up against the same thing. When I was
a kid I was sent to the Reform school fur stealin’; and it wasn’t my
fault. I was mixed up with a gang older than me and wasn’t wise to what
I was doin’. They made me the goat; and in the Reform school they made a
crook outa me. When I come out I tried to be straight and hold down a job,
but as soon as any one got wise I’d been in a Reform school they canned
me same as they did you. Then I stole again-to keep from starvin’. They
got me and this time I went to the coop fur five years. Then I give up. I
seen it was no use. When I got out again I got in with a gang of yeggmen
and learned how to be a yegg—and I’ve been one ever since. I’ve
spent most of my life in jail but I’m free now.
are yuh goin’ to do?
TIM—(fiercely) What am I goin’ to do? They made a yegg outa me! Let ‘em look
did yuh get out?
TIM—(suspiciously) What’s it to you? (then suddenly) Nix, I didn’t mean that. Yuh’re a good kid and maybe yuh c’n
sure like to.
TIM—Then listen! (looking
at her fixedly)
Yuh swear yuh won’t squeal on me?
won’t, so help me Gawd!
TIM—Well, I’m Tim Moran. I jest broke out two
at him with a fascinated wonder)
You! Tim Moran! The guy that robbed that bank a week ago! The guy
they’re all lookin’ fur!
TIM—Sssshhh! Yuh never c’n tell who’s got an
ear glued to the wall in a dump like this.
read about yuh in the papers. (She
looks at him as if she were half afraid.)
TIM—Yuh’re not afraid of me, are yuh? I ain’t
the kind of crook Steve is, yuh know.
ROSE—(calmly) No, I ain’t afraid of yuh, Tim; but I’m afraid they may find
yuh here and take yuh away again. (anxiously)
D’yuh think Steve knew yuh? He’d squeal sure if he did—to git
TIM—No, I could tell by his eyes he didn’t know
long have yuh been here?
TIM—A week—ever since I cracked that safe. I
wanted to give the noise time to blow over. I ain’t left that room
except when I had to git a bite to eat, and then I got enough fur a couple
of days. But when I come in tonight I seen a guy on the corner give me a
long look. He looked bad to me and I wanta git out of here before they git
think he was a cop?
TIM—Yes, I got a hunch. He looked bad to me.
And yuh come in here tonight knowin’ he was liable to spot yuh! Yuh
took that chance fur me when yuh didn’t even know me! (impulsively going over to him and taking his hand which he tries to hold
back) Gee, yuh’re a regular guy, all right.
Aw, that’s nothin’. Any one would’a done it.
one would’a done it in your place. (A
slight noise is heard from the hallway. Rose looks around startled and
speaks hurriedly almost in a whisper.)
Supposin’ that guy was a cop? Supposin’ he had a hunch who you
was? How ‘re yuh goin’ to make a getaway? Can’t I help yuh outa
this? Can’t I do somethin’ fur yuh?
TIM—(points to window) That’s a fire escape, ain’t it?
does it lead to?
to the yard and up to the roof.
TIM—To hell with the yard. I’ll try the roofs if
it comes to a showdown. I’ll stick in here with you so’s if they come
I c’n make a quick getaway. Yuh tell ‘em yuh don’t know anything
about me, see? Give ‘em a bum steer if you kin. Try and hold ‘em
so’s I c’n get a good start.
ROSE—(resolutely) I’ll hold ‘em as long as I c’n, don’t worry. I’ll tell
‘em I seen yuh goin’ down stairs an hour ago.
TIM—Good Kid! (They
are standing in the middle of the room with their backs to the window.
Steve’s face appears peering around the edge of the window-frame. He is
crouched on the fire-escape outside. His eyes glare with hatred as he
watches the two persons in the room. Rose starts to cough, is frightened
by the noise she makes, and holds her handkerchief over her mouth to
stifle the sound.)
TIM—Ssssshhh! Poor Kid! (He
turns to her and speaks rapidly in low tones.) Here, Kid. (He
takes a large roll of money out of his pocket and forces it into her
hand—as she starts to remonstrate) Shut up! I ain’t got
time to listen to your beefin’. Take it. It ain’t much but it’s all
I got with me. I don’t need it. There’s plenty more waitin’ fur me
outside. This’ll be enough to git you and the kid out of town away from
that dirty coward. (Steve’s
face is convulsed with fiery.)
Go some place out in the mountains and git rid of that cough.
I can’t take it. Yuh been too good to me already. Yuh don’t know
how rotten I am.
TIM—(suddenly taking her in his arms and kissing her roughly) That’s how rotten I think yuh are. Yuh’re the whitest kid
I’ve ever met, see? (They look
into each other’s eyes. All the hardness of Rose’s expression has
vanished. Her face is soft, tram-figured by a new emotion. Steve moves his
hand into the room. He holds a revolver which he tries to aim at Tim but
he is afraid to fire.)
ROSE—(throwing her arms around his neck) Tim, Tim, yuh been too good to me.
Lemme know where yuh are and when it’s safe I’ll come to yuh. (releases
her and takes a small folded paper from pocket)
This’ll find me. (She takes it, her eyes full of happy tears.) Maybe after a time we c’n start over again—together! (A
sound like the creaking of a floor board is heard from the hallway.)
What’s that? (They both stand
looking fixedly at the door. Steve noiselessly disappears from the window.)
Gee, Kid, I got a feelin’ in my bones they’re after me. It’s
only a hunch but it’s never gone wrong yet. (He
pulls a cap out of his pocket and puts it on.)
I’m goin’ to blow.
ROSE—(goes over to the door and listens) Sounds as if somebody was sneakin’ up the stairs. (She
tiptoes quickly over to him
and kisses him.)
Go, go while yuh got a chance. Don’t let ‘em git yuh! I love yuh,
TIM—Good-bye, Kid. I’ll come as soon as I c’n.
(He kisses her again and goes
quickly to the window. Steve stretches his hand around the side of the
window and fires, the muzzle of the gun almost on Tim’s chest. There is
a loud report and a little smoke. Tim staggers back and falls on the
floor. Steve throws the gun into the room, then quietly pulls down the
window and disappears. The child in the bed wakes up and cries feebly.)
ROSE—(rushes to Tim and kneels beside him, holding his head on her breast) Tim!
Tim! Speak to me, Tim! (She kisses
TIM—(his eyes glazing) Good Kid—mountains—git rid of that cough. (He
ROSE—(letting his head fall back on the floor sinks to a sitting position
beside him. The money is still clutched in her right hand. She stares straight before her and repeats in tones of horrible monotony) Dead. Oh Gawd, Gawd, Gawd! (The
sound of people running up the stairs in the hail is heard. A voice
shouts: “Must be in here.” The
door is pushed open and three men enter. One is a policeman in uniform and
the other two are evidently plain clothes men. The landlady and several
roomers stand in the doorway looking in with frightened faces.)
to Rose and, taking her arm, hauls her to her fret)
Come, get up outa that! (The two
plain clothes men take one look at the dead man and both exclaim together)
FIRST PLAIN CLOTHES
MAN—I told yuh it was him I seen comin’ in here
tonight. I never forget a face.
SECOND PLAIN CLOTHES
revolver off the floor and examining it)
I didn’t think he’d be fool enough to stick around here. (turning
suddenly to Rose)
What did yuh croak him for? (ironically)
A little love spat, eh? (sees
the roll of money in her hand and grabs her quickly by the wrist)
Pipe the roll! Little sister here attends to business, all right. Gave
him a frisk before we had a chance to get here. (to
Rose in loud, rough tones)
Why did yuh kill him? It was for this coin, wasn’t it? (During the detective’s remarks Rose gradually realizes the position
she is in. Her expression becomes one of amazed pain
she sees they think she is guilty of the murder. She speaks brokenly,
trying to hold herself in control.)
ROSE—Honest to Gawd, I didn’t do it. He gave me this money. Some one shot him
from the window. (then quite simply
as if that explained it all away)
Why, I loved him.
SECOND PLAIN CLOTHES
MAN—Stop that noise! Wha’d’yuh take us
for—boobs? The window ain’t even open and the glass ain’t broken. He
gave yuh the money, eh? And then shot himself, I suppose? Aw say, Kid,
wha’d’yuh take us for?
ROSE—(losing all control, frenziedly breaks from the Policeman’s grasp and
throws herself beside body) Tim! Tim! For the love of Gawd speak to them. Tell ‘em I didn’t
do it, Tim! Tell ‘em yuh gave that money to me. Yuh know what yuh
said— “Take the kid into the mountains and git rid of that cough.” Tell ‘em yuh said that, Tim! Speak to
‘cm! Tell ‘em I loved yuh, Tim—that I wanted to help yuh git away.
Tell ‘em yuh kissed me. They think I shot yuh. They don’t know I loved
yuh. For the love of Gawd speak to ‘em. (weeping
and sobbing bitterly)
Oh Gawd, why don’t yuh speak, why don’t yuh speak?
FIRST PLAIN CLOTHES
That’s good stuff but it won’t get yuh anything. (turning
to his two companions)
Looks to me as if this doll
was full of coke or something. You two better take her to the station and
make a report. I’ll stay here and keep cases on the room. I’m sick of
listenin’ to that sob stuff.
ROSE—(The Policeman taps her on the shoulder and she rises to her fret with a
spring, wildly protesting) But I tell yuh I didn’t do it! It was from the window. Can’t
yuh believe me? I swear I—(She
stops appalled by the unbelieving sneers of the policemen, by the white
faces in the doorway gazing at her with fascinated horror. She reads her
own guilt in every eye. She realizes the futility of all protest, the
maddening hopelessness of it all. The child is still crying. She notices
it for the first time and goes over to the bed to soothe it. The Policeman
keeps a tight hold of one of her arms. She speaks words of tenderness to
the child in dull, mechanical tones. It stops crying. All are looking at
her in silence with a trace of compassionate pity on their faces. Rose
seems in a trance. Her eyes are like the eyes of a blind woman. She seems
aware of something in the room which none of the others can see—perhaps
the personification of the ironic life force that has crushed her.)
FIRST PLAIN CLOTHES
ROSE—(to the unseen presence in the room) Yes. I suppose yuh’ll take her too?
FIRST PLAIN CLOTHES
her, good naturedly)
I’ll take care of her for the time bein’.
That’s right. Make a good job of me. (Suddenly
she stretches both arms above her head and cries bitterly, mournfully, out
of the depths of her desolation)
Why d’yuh hate me so?
Here, here, no rough talk like that. Come along now! (Rose
leans against him weakly and he supports her to the door where the group
of horrified lodgers silently make way for them. The Second Plain Clothes
Man follows them. A moment later Rose’s hollow cough echoes in the dark
hallway. The child wakes up and cries fitfully. The First Plain Clothes
Man goes over to the bed and cuddles her on his lap with elephantine
FIRST PLAIN CLOTHES
MAN—Mama’s gone. I’m your Mama now.