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CHARACTERS ROSE THOMAS
STEVE, a "Cadet"
TIM MORGAN, a Yeggman
A POLICEMAN
TWO PLAIN CLOTHES MEN

  SCENE—A 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 bitterly) 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.)

  ROSE(hurriedly putting her hat down on the wash-stand— half frightened) Hello, Steve.

  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 rougethen turns around) Look, Steve! Ain’t that better?

  STEVE—Better? Naw, but it’ll do. (seeing empty beer bottle) Gimme a drink!

  ROSE—Yuh 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?

  ROSE—I 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 don’t care.

  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 good beatin’.

  ROSE—Aw, 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 side?

  ROSE(dejectedly) Don’t ask me. I dunno. It’s a bum game all round. (She has a 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 you.

  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?

  ROSE—But 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.

  ROSE(furiously) 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.

  STEVE(His 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!

  ROSE(in a frenzy) 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?

  STEVE(jumps 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.)

  ROSE(her anger gone in a flash) 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.)

  STEVE(who has been watching her with a malignant sneer) Yuh’ll have to take that kid out of the bed. I gotta git some sleep.

  ROSE—But, Steve, where’ll I put her? There’s no place else.

STEVE—On the floor—any place. Wha’d I care where yuh put it?

  ROSE(supplicatingly) 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 there.

  STEVE—Nix! Yuh heard what I said, didn’t yuh? Git busy, then. Git her Out of there.

  ROSE—(with cold fury) I won’t do it.

  STEVE—Yuh won’t, eh? Den I will. (He makes a move toward the bed.)

  ROSE(standing between him and the bed in a resolute attitude, speaks slowly and threateningly) I’ve stood about enough from you. Don’t yuh dare touch her or I’ll—  

  STEVE(blusteringly, 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 a sneer) What’d you want with a kid? (Rose winces.) A fine mother you are and dis is a swell dump to bring up a family in.

  ROSE—Please, 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.

  ROSE—Wha’d’yuh mean? What’ll yuh do?

  STEVE—I’ll have yuh pinched and sent to the Island. The kid’ll be took away from yuh then.

  ROSE(in anguish) Yuh’re jest tryin’ to scare me, ain’t yuh, Steve? They wouldn’t do that, would they?

  STEVE—Yuh’ll soon know whether dey would or not.

  ROSE—But yuh wouldn’t have me pinched, would yuh, Steve? Yuh wouldn’t do me dirt like that?

  STEVE—I wouldn’t, wouldn’t I? Yuh jest wait and see!

  ROSE—Aw, Steve, I always been good to you.

  STEVE—Git 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 Rose) 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.

  ROSE—Yuh 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 worth it.

  TIM—(quickly) Nix on that stuff about your not bein’ worth it!

  ROSE—(smiling) 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.

  ROSE—How did yuh happen to blow in when yuh did? There usually ain’t no one around in this dump at this time of the night.

  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 him?

  ROSE(despondently) It’s easy to say: “Why don’t I beat it?” I can’t.

  TIM—Wha’d’yuh mean? Why can’t yuh?

  ROSE—I 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’?

  ROSE—Oh, 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 then.

  ROSE(scornfully) 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.

  ROSE—(wearily) 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.

  ROSE(fiercely) No. She’s all I got. I won’t give her up. (She coughs again.)

  TIM(kindly) 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.

  ROSE—Thanks 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 grim humor) 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.

  ROSE—What are yuh goin’ to do?

  TIM—(fiercely) What am I goin’ to do? They made a yegg outa me! Let ‘em look out!

  ROSE—When 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 help me.

  ROSE—I’d sure like to.

  TIM—Then listen! (looking at her fixedly) Yuh swear yuh won’t squeal on me?

  ROSE—I won’t, so help me Gawd!

  TIM—Well, I’m Tim Moran. I jest broke out two weeks ago.

  ROSE—(staring 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.

  ROSE(lowering her voice) I 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 the reward.

  TIM—No, I could tell by his eyes he didn’t know me.

  ROSE—How 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 wise.

  ROSE—Yuh think he was a cop?

  TIM—Yes, I got a hunch. He looked bad to me.

  ROSE(wonderingly) 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.

  TIM(in great confusion) Aw, that’s nothin’. Any one would’a done it.

  ROSE—No 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?

  ROSE—Yes.

 TIM—Where does it lead to?

  ROSE—Down 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.

  ROSE(sobbing) 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.

  TIM(kissing her again) 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.

  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 him frantically.)

  TIM—(his eyes glazing) Good Kid—mountains—git rid of that cough. (He dies.)

  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.)

  THE POLICEMAN—(goes 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) Tim Moran!

  FIRST PLAIN CLOTHES MAN—I told yuh it was him I seen comin’ in here tonight. I never forget a face.

  SECOND PLAIN CLOTHES MAN(picking 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 as 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 MAN(sneeringly) 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 to be 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 MAN—Your kid?

  ROSE—(to the unseen presence in the room) Yes. I suppose yuh’ll take her too?

  FIRST PLAIN CLOTHES MAN(misunderstanding her, good naturedly) I’ll take care of her for the time bein’.

  ROSE—(to the air) 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) Gawd! Gawd! Why d’yuh hate me so?

  THE POLICEMAN—(shocked) 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 playfullness.)

  THE CHILD—(feebly) Maamaaaa!

  FIRST PLAIN CLOTHES MAN—Mama’s gone. I’m your Mama now.

(Curtain)


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