CLASS OF '29
A PLAY IN THREE ACTS
BY ORRIE LASHIN and MILO HASTINGS
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AROUND THE CORNER, comedy In 3 acts, by Martin Flavin. This timely work, described as an "American play for the American people," has just been released. It was produced in December, 1936, on Broadway by Lodewick Vroom. Mr. Flavin's latest produced play is a dramatic picture of an average middle-class American family at grips with the recent depression. The author has adopted the viewpoint that even the dark years have their aspects of comedy, and the play is a rare mixture of character, humor and serious preachment. The play requires only one interior setting and calls for a cast of 7 men and 3 women. (Production fee quoted upon request.) Paper bound books, including prefaces by the author and Clayton Hamilton, 75 cents.
SEEN BUT NOT HEARD, melodrama in 2 acts, by Marie Baumer and Martin Berkeley. This new play was produced by D. A. Doran with International Productions, Inc., on Broadway in the fall of 1936, featuring Frankie Thomas. An entirely new twist is here given to the murder mystery, in that the authors have placed the burden of discovery upon three children whose intelligence and innocence are brought to bear on an adult problem. A most ingenious mystery play worked out, however, in terms of modern theatrical realism. The play has one interior setting and calls for 15 characters, of whom 8 are adult men and 2 young boys, and 4 adult women and one young girl. (Production fee quoted upon request.) Paper bound books, 75 cents.
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DRAMATISTS PLAY SERVICE, INC.
9 EAST 38TH STREET, NEW YORK CITY
CLASS OF '29
A PLAY IN THREE ACTS
BY ORRIE LASHIN AND MILO HASTINGS
DRAMATISTS PLAY SERVICE 1937 INC.
COPYRIGHT, 1936, 1937, BY ORRIE LASHIN AND MILO HASTINGS
THE AMATEUR ACTING RIGHTS OF THIS PLAY ARE CONTROLLED EXCLUSIVELY BY THE DRAMATISTS PLAY SERVICE, INC., 9 EAST 38TH STREET, NEW YORK CITY, WITHOUT WHOSE PERMISSION IN WRITING NO PERFORMANCE OF IT MAY BE MADE.
ALL OTHER RIGHTS IN THIS PLAY, INCLUDING THOSE OF PROFESSIONAL PRODUCTION, RADIO BROADCASTING AND MOTION PICTURE RIGHTS, ARE CONTROLLED BY MAXIM LIEBER AT 545 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK, N. Y., TO WHOM ALL INQUIRIES SHOULD BE ADDRESSED.
Following is a copy of the program of the original production, in New York City, May 15, 1936:
The Popular Price Theatre
FEDERAL THEATRE WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION
CLASS OF '29
A new play by
ORRIE LASHIN and MILO HASTINGS
LUCIUS MOORE COOK
Settings designed under the supervision of
TOM ADRIAN CRACRAFT
Entire production under the personal supervision of
CAST OF CHARACTERS
(in the order in which they speak)
KEN HOLDEN ...................... Jan Ullrich
TIPPY SAYRE ...................... Allen Nourse
TED BROOKS ...................... Ben Starkie
MARTIN PETERSON ...................... Robert Bruce
KATE ALLEN ...................... Helen Morrow
LAURA STEVENS ...................... Marjorie Brown
BISHOP HOLDEN ...................... Harry Irvine
LUCILLE BROWN ...................... Olive Stanton
STANLEY PRESCOTT ...................... Edward Forbes
A CASE WORKER ...................... Marjorie Dalton
MISS DONOVAN ...................... Edna Archer Crawford
POLICEMAN ...................... Jon Lormer
SCENE 1. A basement apartment on a Saturday afternoon about one o'clock, Fall, 1935.
SCENE 2. Stanley Prescott's office, later the same day.
The same as ACT I, SCENE 1. About 6 P. M., Spring, 1936.
The same. About 10 P. M.
This play can be produced without using Scene 2, Act I at all, and has been so produced by both Federal Theatres and nonprofessionals. This reduces the settings required to one. In case this scene is not played, then of course the characters Lucille Brown and Stanley Prescott are also omitted. The omission of this scene requires no alteration of the lines or action of any other part of the play.
DESCRIPTION OF CHARACTERS
KEN HOLDEN. A young man about 28 or 29, a graduate of Harvard. Trained as an architect. But unemployed since his graduation. He is in love with "Laura." But is very dispirited at his inability to obtain employment.
TIPPY SAYRE. About the same age as Ted. Also a graduate of Harvard. He also has been unable to find employment. But is a man of very happy-go-lucky type whom it is hard to dishearten. He is making a living by washing dogs.
TED BROOKS. Age 28. Also a Harvard graduate of the same class as the others and also unemployed since graduation. He comes of wealthy parents who lost their money in the market crash. And seems quite unable to find any work for which he is suited. And has no special training. He is being partly supported by Kate Allen who is in love with him.
MARTIN PETERSON. About the same age as the others, also a graduate of Harvard. He is an artist and is making a little money. He is also a very enthusiastic Communist.
KATE ALLEN. About the same age as the men. She is a graduate of Vassar, but although she is working she only earns a small salary, half of which she gives to Ted, with whom she is in love.
LAURA STEVENS. A pretty girl of about the same age as the others. A graduate of Vassar. She is in love with Ken Holden and is working at a salary of about $25 a week.
BISHOP HOLDEN. A bishop and typical gentleman of his calling. Ken Holden is his son.
LUCILLE BROWN.* A young girl. She is secretary to Stanley Prescott.
STANLEY PRESCOTT.* A successful American business man. Hard, conservative.
CASE WORKER. A middle-aged woman, working as a home relief investigator.
MRS. DONOVAN. A very flamboyant woman of middle age, fussy and silly type.
POLICEMAN. A typical New York policeman.
* NOTE: These characters are not in the play in case Scene 2, Act I, is omitted.
CLASS OF '29
SCENE I: It is Saturday afternoon, about one o'clock.
The room is a large one in an old brown-stone house. The ceiling is high, the floor ancient. It serves for a sleeping as well as a living room. Off it at one end is a kitchen, at the other a small bedroom.
There is no woman's touch in the place, but in spite of its dilapidation there is a mellow and intellectual air—lent, perhaps, by the books and magazines that lie scattered about; some old college pennants on the wall; also both architectural drawings and original cartoons. There is a good architect's drawing board in use by a window and a rack containing many rolls of drawings and prints.
TED is sitting on the couch, reading an old book. He wears a once excellent but now threadbare suit.
TIPPY wears shabby old dressing gown, short. He has no trousers on. He is pressing his pants on an ironing board.
Each is silent and preoccupied, KEN makes a finishing touch with color brush, then turns his board down to a more vertical position and backs off, surveying his work.
KEN. Take a squint at that, Tippy.
[TIPPY carefully turns iron on end and steps over to look at drawing.]
TIPPY. H'm. Very charming. Very charming. If Comrade Stalin could see that he would order one for each member of his harem.
KEN. That's a bum joke. Not even Hearst has accused Stalin of irregularity in his private life.
TIPPY. Sorry. That comes of my not reading Hearst.
KEN. What's more, this drawing's not intended for the Soviets. It's distinctly American.
TIPPY. But Ken, they like it Americanskee. They approve of the way we do our living, if not of the way we get it.
KEN. They like our gadgets. The plans I sent to Moscow were all American inside. But the exteriors were different.
TIPPY. [Slaps him on shoulder and returns to pants pressing.] Well, keep at it, old man. All things come to those who work while they wait.
KEN. Work. I just do this to keep from going nuts.
TIPPY. O. K. Keep occupied. American recovery may yet prove speedier than Soviet red tape.
KEN. I've given up hope of hearing from Moscow. It's been five months ...
TIPPY. Make allowances for bureaucracy, Ken. They're in such a hurry over there they haven't time to do anything.
KEN. [Starts to remove drawing.] I don't want Martin to see this. He'd never forgive me if he knew I'd quit working on stuff for Russia.
TIPPY. Hi, Ted! Give a look on your fellow artist's work.
[KEN stands aside, TED rises politely, keeping finger in place in book and looking at drawing briefly.]
TED. [Indifferently.] It's very nice.
[He goes back to couch and his book, KEN removes drawing and rolls it up. TIPPY finishes pants and cuts off iron, MARTIN'S voice heard in hall, singing.]
MARTIN. Belaya armeya chornee barone Snova gotovyat nam tsarskee trone [MARTIN enters, marching and singing.] No ot tigee doe bretanskeye Morye [Stamps and accents each syllable.] Anneya krasnaya vsekh seelnaye.
TIPPY. Jesus, Martin, why don't you get Billy Rose to write a new song for the Red Army?
MARTIN. As soon as Ken learns Krasnaya Armeya I'll teach him the International.
TIPPY. I can bellyache the Armeya better now than he can.
MARTIN. Damned pity you won't study Russian with us. You have a natural gift for languages.
TIPPY. The reason Russian is easy for me is because I never learned the alphabet.
KEN. Boy, what an alphabet!
MARTIN. [Snapping his fingers.] Da, da, da—ah, be, ve, ge.
TIPPY. [Picking up book.] Ya, ya, ya,—vas ist das? Das ist ein buch.
KEN. Da, da, da,—chto etto takoye? Etto kneega.
MARTIN. Fine. Let's go. [Holds up pencil.] Chto etto takoe?
KEN. Etta karandash.
MARTIN. [Stands book on table.] Chto?
KEN. Kneega stoeet na stolom.
MARTIN. [Throws book under table.] Gdye kneega?
KEN. Kneega pod stalom.
MARTIN. Great! Now make a sentence of your own.
KEN. [Lamely.] Tovarisch Stalin ... [Stalls.]
TIPPY. [Cutting in smartly.] Krasnaya armeya pod stalom. [TIPPY hangs pants on chair back, and puts away ironing paraphernalia.]
[MARTIN goes to book shelf and gets Russian reader and dictionary.]
MARTIN. I've only a few minutes. But we can do half a page. We'll never get it unless we keep at it eternally.
KEN. For eternity you mean.
MARTIN. You're doing fine with the reading. It'll help you no end when you get to Russia.
KEN. God, what faith you have!
MARTIN. Sure you're going to Russia. They have millions of buildings to build, and they can't train architects fast enough. [Finds place in book.]
KEN. I'm not kidding myself.—I've been doing this more to help you.
MARTIN. Listen, Ken. Even if you don't go, you should know Russian so you can read Soviet architectural journals. The years we wasted on dead languages!—Russia's alive. They're doing things, new things, big things! Russian is the language of the next great sweep in world progress.
TIPPY. Sez you.
MARTIN. You read the New York Times. Where does the real news come from?
TIPPY. That depends on who is shooting which.
MARTIN. Shooting isn't news. War isn't news. War is old—atavistic, a confession of failure, evidence of retrogression. News deals with new things: progress, science, art, invention, the conquest of nature. That's real news. And where is it coming from today?
TIPPY. All right, all right. When you have learned six thousand more verbs, each with a hundred irregular forms, then you can read it in Pravda.
[TIPPY carries board out to kitchen, MARTIN sits at table, KEN with him. MARTIN finds place in book and points to a word.]
KEN. [Slowly, pronouncing all syllables in monotone, as TIPPY enters.] Al-yek-tree-feet-see-row-von-nuim ...
MARTIN. [In disgust.] Stuck on the first word. [Starts thumbing dictionary.]
TIPPY. Word? It sounded to me like a derogatory sentence.
[Knock on the door, TIPPY sees envelope that was stuck under it and picks it up. He is opening envelope when knock is repeated. He opens door and KATE enters.]
KATE. Hello, Tippy.
TIPPY. Hello, Kate.
KATE. Hi, Ted.
TED. [Closing book.] Hello, Kate.
KATE. [Starts toward him but stops at table.] Hello, you bums. How's the Red Army?
KEN. [Rising, glad of chance to get away from book.] Tippy just put it under the table.
KATE. Good for Tippy! He's the only real American among you.
TIPPY. The only real American by conviction. Ted's American by innocence. He won't know there was a Russian revolution until it becomes a classic.
KATE. [Fondly] That makes him very English. [Takes TED'S book.] Is it Chaucer? Or just dear old Ben Jonson?
TED. No such luck. It's a first edition of Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises." For a man who wanted it, it's worth ten dollars.
KATE. How much did you pay for it?
TED. Fifty cents.
TED. As long as ignorant people go into the secondhand book business ... It's a tedious business, but if you look over enough stalls, you're bound to pick up something.
TIPPY. I'm sorry to be sordid in this literary atmosphere, but if you really have a book worth ten bucks, you'd better sell it.
TED. I will if I can find the right man.
TIPPY. Well—the landlord informs us that he has a more desirable tenant who wants these quarters. He gives us till tomorrow morning to raise the rent or he will out us kick.
[KEN turns away and putters with his drawing instruments, TED goes into bedroom.]
MARTIN. [Who has been absorbed in dictionary.] Hell, it means electrification!
TIPPY. Then would I shock you by telling you that the landlord means business?
MARTIN. Huh? Oh rent! All right, I have my share. Here, take it now.
[Hands TIPPY eight dollars, KATE takes money out of her purse, TIPPY takes it quietly, nodding understanding.]
KATE. [With gesture toward bedroom.] If he does sell his book, take his eight dollars and hold it. He may not find a ten-dollar book next month.
[TIPPY goes to put money in pocket and discovers he has no pants on.]
TIPPY. Hell. I have no pants.... Sorry, Kate. [He grabs pants off chair and goes into bedroom.]
MARTIN. Why don't you quit it, Kate? You aren't helping Ted. You're ruining him.
KATE. I'm only lending him the money. He'll pay it back.
MARTIN. Like hell he will! The man's been a deadbeat for years.
KATE. [Desperately.] Martin!
MARTIN. He borrowed off his prosperous friends till he exhausted that source.
KATE. He sold them books.
MARTIN. Sold nothing!—Disguised gifts. He made the mistake of naming prices. Fooled me for a while. Then I happened to meet a real second-hand books man.
KATE. [Angrily.] What business was it of yours, checking up on him?
MARTIN. None whatever, so long as it hurt only him and you.
KATE. You boys need his rent. As long as you get it, why can't you treat him like a gentleman? His pride is all he's got left.
[TED re-enters. Wears different tie, good fall topcoat, not new. His hat and book in his hand.]
TED. The man I think should have this book happens to be out of town. But I know someone else who might take it. I'll go and see him.
[TIPPY enters, bathrobe gone, pants on.]
MARTIN. Just a minute, Ted. I've just been told I'm butting in on something that's none of my business. So, having been accused, I'm going to justify it.
[TIPPY tries to gesture him to shut up.]
MARTIN. You've been imposing on Tippy here, who is too damned charitable to speak in his own behalf.
TIPPY. You're not speaking for me, Martin.
MARTIN. All right, then, I'm speaking for myself. Here is Tippy, a sanitary engineer, cashing in on his education by washing dogs. He's making a little money. But he could make a lot more if he had a place of his own.
TIPPY. I'll have it. I'll have it. Give me time.
MARTIN. You'll not have it so long as you let people sponge on you.
TIPPY. That's my business.
MARTIN. You paid Ted's share of the rent last month, [KATE looks surprised.] So this month, if Ted stays here he pays not eight but sixteen dollars. And you stick eight in the savings bank for that dog laundry.
TIPPY. Now just wait a minute. I can explain last month's ...
MARTIN. I'll not wait for you to think up another kind lie. God knows I don't enjoy hurting Ted. He was born and raised a capitalist and an aristocrat. Now he is a cast-off wreck of the system that made him. I hate the system, not the men it makes—and least of all the weak ones it throws into the scrap heap. [Sees that all are hurt and offended.] Damn it, I'm sorry. My infernal sense of justice got the better of me. [He goes out.]
TED. [With stolid anguish. To KATE.] I'm guilty. I took my rent money and bought this topcoat at a second-hand store.
KATE. You said a friend gave it to you.
TED. I haven't a friend left who'll even give me cast-off clothing.
KATE. But why did you have to lie about it?
TIPPY. That coat's an investment. You can't peddle books on Park Avenue without a topcoat.—Go along and cash in on your investment. Sell that book.
KATE. I hope you can.
TED. I probably can—by going through another half hour as pleasant as this one. [He goes, shutting door sharply. There is a brief silence.]
KEN. Well, I might as well tell you I haven't got my share of the rent, either.
TIPPY. What's the matter? Check late?
KEN. No.—I sent it back.
TIPPY. You what?
KEN. I sent it back.
KATE. Did your father lose his job?
KEN. Bishops don't lose their jobs.
TIPPY. So what are you talking about?
KEN. I've been living off dad for five years.
TIPPY. Starving off him.
KEN. Don't blame dad. I set the amount under Hoover. Bishops aren't economists.
TIPPY. You sent the check back and asked for a new deal?
TIPPY. [Patiently.] Why did you send the check back?
KEN. I'm through letting dad pay me for piddling around here.
TIPPY. But Ken, be reasonable. The landlord must eat.
KEN. Then give him back this place. He can eat the cockroaches.
TIPPY. No tickee, no shirtee; no money, no housee. [Pause.] And there's the little matter of our own nutrition.
KEN. I don't expect you and Martin to feed me.
TIPPY. I doubt if we could.
KEN. Martin's right, Tippy. You ought to clear out of here and take that place you wanted.
TIPPY. Hell, that place has been taken. Bargains like that don't wait.
KEN. There are other places. But you won't get one as long as you stay here and we graft off of you. You've been buying half the grub for the four of us. You fudge the bills against yourself. You're a goddam fool.
TIPPY. Must you bring that up?
KEN. Listen, Tippy. Martin can take care of himself, anywhere. He loves flop houses and flop people.
TIPPY. And what about Ted?
KEN. Ted is Kate's problem.
KATE. Why do you feel so bitter toward him?
KEN. [Savagely.] If you'll recall, we only took him in temporarily because your mother was coming.
[Angrily, to TIPPY.] Why the hell do you have to plan for Ted? Or Martin? Or me? I'm not planning for anyone.—I'm clearing out.
TIPPY. Where are you going?
KEN. That's my affair. I'm packing tonight and leaving tomorrow. [He goes into bedroom.]
KATE. Lord, what a mess!
TIPPY. Katie, I'm afraid our children are showing too much spirit.
KATE. What's Ken planning? Going on Laura?
TIPPY. Lord, no.
KATE. I'd hardly think so with all that bluff at independence! [Pause.]
TIPPY. How much did you girls, as seniors, put down as your expectation of earning power in five years?
KATE. We didn't do such sordid things at Vassar. And besides, it's been six years, not five.
TIPPY. Class of '29. Six years, and six of us. Well, we've stuck together. In solidarity there is strength.
KATE. This looks like a bust up.
TIPPY. Look here, Kate, you'll take care of Ted, won't you?
KATE. Why should I?
TIPPY. [Snappily.] As an investment. Business is picking up. Stocks are going up. Culture is coming back. More dogs are being washed. Rare books will come next.
KATE. So what?
TIPPY. Ted was born a gentleman. The rest of us merely went to Harvard.
KATE. Believe it or not.
TIPPY. Katie, the coming revolution is poppycock. What's coming is the same damn thing we used to have. And when it gets back it'll take its old darlings back into its lap. Ted is one of them. So hold his hand a little longer.
[There is a hanging against the door with a foot. TIPPY opens door, and LAURA enters with a tall sack of groceries, which she shoves into TIPPY'S arms.]
LAURA. Hello. Where's the gang?
TIPPY. Some are in and some are out.
KATE. We speak of Fortune and Dame Fortune walks in.
LAURA. Bringing her own tea.
TIPPY. Fortune. Tea. Ceres. Cornucopia. [Drops bag on arm, posing as Goddess with the horn of plenty, and spewing groceries over the table, fruit rolling to floor.]
KEN. [Entering from bedroom.] What in ...?
KATE. Thank God it wasn't eggs.
LAURA. [To KEN.] Hello, darling.
[TIPPY retrieves groceries.]
KEN. [Severely.] What's the idea, Laura?
LAURA. What idea, honey?
KEN. You promised to quit it. There's plenty of grub here.
LAURA. But darling, I can't eat canned baked beans. My ulcer, you know.
KEN. You haven't any ulcer.
LAURA. Nor any baby. But doctors say nervous girls must be careful, or they'll have both.
KEN. Don't be a fool.
[TIPPY starts with bag to kitchen, KATE following. At door he warns her back.]
TIPPY. The preparing of this tea must be a strictly masculine affair, [KATE gestures toward KEN and LAURA.] I'm sorry, but I want tea. If a woman enters that kitchen, there won't be tea. There'll be house-cleaning. [He goes in and bolts door behind him. She tries it and finds it locked. She pretends to be interested in drawings, KEN has turned away from LAURA and there is a pause.]
LAURA. [Casually.] Anything new, dear?
KEN. [Savagely.] No. You always ask me that.
LAURA. It doesn't mean anything. Just a little light conversation to kill that first awkward moment.
KEN. It means, have I got a job.
LAURA. Have you?
LAURA. Well, you will have one. And more than a job. Some day somebody will accept your plans for fabricated houses. And you'll be rich and famous.
KEN. If I kid myself, you needn't.
LAURA. But all this work, Ken ...
KEN. Won't come to anything. I do it from habit. I do it to keep from going crazy.
LAURA. You do it because you know that fabricated houses are the coming thing.
KEN. Hell of a chance I'll get at them.
LAURA. There are going to be dozens of firms in the field, and they'll all want yearly models.
TIPPY. [Sticking his head in door.] Attention! Sergeant Holden, go at once to the nearest Commissary and requisition 454 grams of sucrose.
[KEN salutes and goes. The girls stare after him.]
KATE. Now what in the world!
TIPPY. Sugar, Katie. Sugar.
KATE. But how much?
TIPPY. One pound. He understood. A year in Paris, you know.
LAURA. Oh, I'm so sorry! I forgot sugar.
TIPPY. Sorry? It gives him a chance to buy something.—Your failure to understand the masculine nature is appalling.
KATE. I'll bet you had sugar.
TIPPY. Yes, we had no sugar.—Forget it. [Exits.]
LAURA. Oh these men!
KATE. You said it!
LAURA. [Turns on her suddenly.] Kate, what's the matter?
KATE. Matter? Why?
LAURA. You are grouched. Ken is touchy, he wants to quarrel. Tippy is too nonsensical, even for Tippy. Is something wrong?
KATE. Everything's wrong.
LAURA. Tell me.
KATE. Martin started it. He bawled Ted out for living off me.
LAURA. Oh, well—Martin!
KATE. It seems I gave Ted money for his share of the rent last month, and he bought a coat with it instead.
KATE. So Tippy had to pay again.
LAURA, Tippy didn't tell on him?
KATE. You know he wouldn't. Martin found out some way and told for him.
LAURA. Martin's a beast.
KATE. Maybe he was right. They all but told me to take Ted back and keep him with me.
LAURA. And you will, I suppose? [KATE is silent.] I'm sorry.
KATE. I don't mind your question.
LAURA. There's nothing else you can do, really.
KATE. Yes. There's one thing. There's another man.
LAURA. Are you serious?
KATE. He is. Serious, and rich, and—sixty.
LAURA. That beastly old man!
KATE. Every time he said "I'm an old man" I'd say, "Oh, no, Mr. Selden" till I convinced him.
LAURA. So what, Kate?
KATE. So he thinks he wants me for myself alone. He isn't the least bit vicarious.
LAURA. Kate, do be serious.
KATE. He wants to reduce his income tax by gifts to eleemosynary institutions. Don't I look eleemosynary?
LAURA. No. Nor mercenary, either.
KATE. Ah, but I am. And I've been buying love long enough to have learned the trade. So now I'm going to sell some.
LAURA. And Ted?
KATE. [Bitterly.] What about him?
LAURA. You love him.
KATE. No, I don't, I used to love him.... But I don't any more. You can't stay crazy about a man when you give him half your salary every week. You get to hate him.... Oh, it's worse than hate. It's contempt.
LAURA. You've stuck it out so long.
KATE. Too long.
LAURA. It'll be different as soon as he strikes something.
KATE. Strikes what? Gold or oil?
LAURA. He'll find something. It takes time.
KATE. Time is the only thing I haven't got to spare. Look, I'm twenty-seven.
LAURA. But you don't look it.
KATE. I do—I have wrinkles.
LAURA. Don't be silly.
KATE. Around the eyes.
LAURA. You're imagining.
KATE. And yesterday I found a gray hair.
LAURA. Girls of eighteen sometimes have gray hairs.
KATE. But I feel old! And if I don't look it now, I will soon. [Pause.] What am I to do, Laura? Keep on working at eighteen dollars a week till I'm forty?—I haven't a decent thing to wear. I haven't had a new coat in three years. [Feverishly.] And I'm frightened. Calendars frighten me.—I want to have some fun. I want a man to take me to the Ritz and—pay the check.
LAURA. I know how you feel. Don't you think that I ... What do you want me to say, Kate?
KATE. There is nothing to say.
LAURA. Look, dear. I don't say you should keep Ted. Drop him and go it alone a while. If you've been living on nine dollars a week, eighteen will seem a fortune.
KATE. And what will become of him?
LAURA. If you are leaving him you can't worry about that.
KATE. I do worry about it. That's one of the reasons I'll take the old man and his money.
LAURA. You're crazy!
KATE. Am I?
LAURA. That's something that—that just isn't done!
KATE. A lot you know.
LAURA. Kate ...
KATE. Oh, stop it! That just isn't done! You don't know anything. You don't even know how I feel ... week after week giving Ted money. You've been in love with a man whose fond papa's supported him so you haven't had to soil your lovely ethics with dirty money.
LAURA. Darling ...
KATE. Don't darling me. And don't tell me what's decent and proper—and what isn't done!
LAURA. I didn't mean ...
KATE. You didn't mean anything because you don't know anything. But maybe you're going to learn.—Maybe now you're going to learn because this gang is breaking up. Not only because my man is a dead-bent, but because yours is broke.—So now maybe you'll try keeping a man and see how it feels!
[KATE slams out, brushing KEN, who enters, violently aside.]
KEN. What's the matter with her?
[KEN hands sugar to TIPPY and returns.]
KEN. She didn't act like it was nothing.
LAURA. She's going to leave Ted.
KEN. Good! The man's a leech.
LAURA. But he is so helpless.
KEN. He won't starve. We have no jobs in America, but we don't starve.
LAURA. Ken, are you in trouble?
KEN. In trouble?
LAURA. With your father?
KEN. No. No, indeed—I merely sent dad's check back. It's time, don't you think? [With elaborate unconcern.] And as for this arrangement here ... we're getting on each other's nerves. And Tippy ought to get out on his own.
LAURA. And you?
KEN. I, too. On my own.
LAURA. But how?
KEN. I don't know. But I'll manage somehow.
LAURA. Oh, Ken ...
KEN. Why don't you clear out like Kate? Forget me. I'm no good to you. I never will be.
LAURA. Don't talk like that.
KEN. It's true, Laura. Face it. [She puts her arms around him.]
LAURA. Ken, let's get married.—We've put it off too long.
LAURA. Not married then. But let's be together. Let's ...
KEN. It's too late for that. If that was what we'd wanted it would have happened three years ago.
LAURA. I love you more now than I did then.
KEN. And I'm not saying I love you less.
KEN. In the last three years I've seen a man I used to love and respect degenerate under my eyes, become a lousy parasite, living off a woman whose whole income isn't enough for her to live on decently.
LAURA. How can you compare yourself to Ted?
KEN. Good God, I don't! Yet Ted was once all right.
LAURA. Ted expected the world to support him. He had nothing to give it. You have ability and ambition. You want to give things to the world.
KEN. [Flatly.] I want a job.
LAURA. Of course you do, darling!
KEN. [Fiercely.] That's all I want. A job. I lay awake nights, saying over and over, "I want a job, a job, a job ..."
LAURA. Oh, I know!
KEN. I don't think about you when I lie awake at night. I don't think how nice it would be to have you there in my arms. All I think about is a job. If it were a choice between you and a job I'd take the job.—What's the use of kidding ourselves any longer? [She is silent. He goes on desperately.] I'm not the same fellow I was three years ago. People slam doors in my face. Do you understand? They look at me. They see my clothes, my eyes.... They're antagonized before they speak to me,—just as people are to a beggar. They say "no" before I ask for anything. No, no, no. They say it as if I were asking for charity instead of a job. "Nothing for you." "Sorry." "Nothing today."—It makes a beggar out of you!
[TIPPY enters, carrying tea tray.]
TIPPY. Hello! Where's the rest of the tea party? [Neither answers.] Well, we'll have double portions, that's nice.
LAURA. Tippy, doesn't your world ever fall out from under you?
TIPPY. Certainly not! [Pause.]
LAURA. [With forced gayety.] I say, where's Martin?
TIPPY. Can it be that you are asking for Martin!
LAURA. Uh-huh. I'm ready for him to turn me into a Communist.
TIPPY. That is news!—Where did Kate go?
LAURA. To make a date with her boss. He's sixty and rich—and serious.
TIPPY. No kidding?—No, my world doesn't drop out from under me. It merely turns wrong side out in my hand.—Your tea, Ken. It contains teaffein, which stimulates the heart but quiets the nerves. Teaffein in tea is the same as caffein in coffee. But under the profit system we don't know that yet—because no one has invented a teaffeinless tea.
[KEN accepts sandwich and tea and tries to be a sport and make the party.]
KEN. I wouldn't need Martin to turn me into a Communist. All I'd have to do would be to knock out the partition in the middle of my brains and let the left side mingle with the right.
TIPPY. As if your brains weren't muddled enough already!
[MARTIN bursts in, carrying two Soviet posters. Leaves door ajar.]
MARTIN. Hey, fellows, see what I've got! [He hangs one up while the others are inspecting the first.]
LAURA. It's ugly.
KEN. I like them. Why can't Americans make ugly things look beautiful?
TIPPY. [To MARTIN.] Sow your seed now, Soviet sower. The powers of darkness have been fertilizing the ground.
[TIPPY takes thumb tacks and bottle of red ink and goes to kitchen.]
KEN. A Soviet poster compared to an American lithograph is like a Soviet film compared with the stuff they grind out in Hollywood.
MARTIN. By God, you're right.—It's the same in all the arts.
LAURA. [Hysterically jovial.] 'Fess up, Ken. Who's been taking you to American movies?
KEN. I still remember some I saw during Hoover's administration. You don't mean they've changed them?
MARTIN. Only the revolution will change that tripe.
LAURA. Gently, Martin. I just told Tippy I was all ripe to turn Communist. But let's enter by the Socialist door. I don't like revolutzia. It's bloody.
[MARTIN pours himself tea. KEN squints at posters, LAURA munches sandwich and giggles.] Comrade Martin—bring on your material dialectics.
[Before MARTIN has chance to answer, TIPPY'S voice sings stridently, as he comes marching in.]
TIPPY. Belaya armeya chornee barone Snova gotovyat nam tsarskee trone
[He is now in. A towel is tied about his head with a big blotch of red ink over his temple. He carries a broom as a flagstaff to which a red bandanna handkerchief is attached as a red flag.]
No ot tigee do bretanskeye morye Armeya krasnaya vsekh seelnaye.
[On chorus, MARTIN'S better voice cuts in strong. He seizes LAURA by the arm, forcing her to march with TIPPY. And KEN, beating time with goose step, also sings.]
ALL. Tak poost Zheh krasnaya Shumayet vlasno Svoe shtik mozoleestoy rookoy Es vse dolshnee mwee Neudersheemo Ette v poslednee sharkee boy. [This chorus repeats.]
[The BISHOP has appeared in the open doorway; they do not see him and march and sing lustily, BISHOP HOLDEN stands and watches them in growing consternation. They see him and stop suddenly. Only MARTIN'S voice finishes the last line.]
LAURA. Bishop Holden!
BISHOP. What is this?
KEN. Hello, Dad.
TIPPY. Just a bit of fun. [He tosses the broom with its flag into a corner, but has forgotten to take off bandage. He steps up and offers his hand to the Bishop.] How are you, sir?
BISHOP. [Shaking hands.] What is the matter with your head?
TIPPY. Oh Jesus! [Yanks off towel.]
BISHOP. Were you rehearsing for a theatrical?
TIPPY. Full dress. My wound was dressed with red ink.
BISHOP. And that song you were singing? I couldn't quite place it.
MARTIN. That's a Red Army song.
BISHOP. Red Army?
BISHOP. So you were all engaged in a little burlesque? Sorry to have disturbed you.
MARTIN. Tippy was making it burlesque. He refuses to take anything seriously.
BISHOP. And the—uh—occasion?
MARTIN. The occasion was that I had just brought home those posters.
BISHOP. [Looking at the posters.] Ah, I see.
MARTIN. How do you like them?
BISHOP. The lettering has some Greek characters. I take it that is Russian?
KEN. Of course, dad. They're Soviet posters.—A rather distinctive form of art.
BISHOP. Ah, it is the unique art and the martial music you find entertaining—or were you burlesquing a Communist meeting?
KEN. It was just Tippy's idea of fun.
BISHOP. [Not quite satisfied.] But you were all singing that song as if you know it well.
LAURA. Martin's always singing it—till we've memorized it without the least idea what it means.
BISHOP. [Satisfied.] Ah yes, of course. I once learned a Japanese song.
MARTIN. I'm studying Russian.
KEN. It's quite a language, dad. It would be easy for you with your knowledge of Greek.
BISHOP. Are you studying Russian, too?
KEN. Martin's been teaching me a little. I wish I had your linguistic preparation for it.
BISHOP. I learned Greek so I could read the Gospels in the original tongue.
TIPPY. That's why they're learning Russian.
BISHOP. The Gospels in Russian?
TIPPY. Saint Marx, Saint Engels, Saint Lenin and Saint Stalin.
BISHOP. But—if you mean Karl Marx, he wrote in German.
TIPPY. Hitler had him translated into Russian so the Germans couldn't read him.
BISHOP. You're a very witty young man. Your sense of humor will save you from any dangerous doctrine.
MARTIN. His sense of humor saves him from anything serious.
BISHOP. While I don't approve of a flippant attitude toward life, it is far better than accepting dangerous and destructive doctrines—such as Russian Communism.
MARTIN. Dangerous to world capitalism—but constructive of a new civilization.
BISHOP. Young man, may I ask if you are American born?
MARTIN. I was born on a Dakota farm. My father was an American kulak. An insurance company expropriated him.
LAURA. Bishop Holden didn't come to get into arguments with you boys.
BISHOP. Another time, perhaps. I think I could convince you that you're following a dangerous delusion.
MARTIN. Thanks, Laura. You're right. I'll run along.
TIPPY. I'll go with you. I've a bit of shopping I ought to do.
MARTIN. I'll get your hat. [Goes to bedroom.]
BISHOP. And how is your business progressing, Timothy? Kenneth wrote me about it. Don't be ashamed of it. Don't be ashamed of honest labor, young man.—You are boarding dogs, I believe.
TIPPY. No. I have no place for that. I only wash them.
BISHOP. You wash them and they pay you?
TIPPY. Yes sir. That is, I wash the dogs, and the people pay me.
BISHOP. Ah yes. I understand.
[MARTIN comes out with TIPPY'S hat. Picks up his own.]
TIPPY. Clean dogs for clean people.
MARTIN. Lap dogs for kept women.—People are desperate and destitute.—And Tippy washes dogs for a living!
BISHOP. It's a sad world. It's true that some have too much, and many have too little....
MARTIN. But we mustn't protest. The meek shall inherit the earth!
BISHOP. And the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
MARTIN. I respect any man for his convictions. But it seems to me, sir, if you want to save the church when the revolution comes to America, you had better see to it that the class sympathy of the church agrees with the class sympathy of the man who founded it.
TIPPY. [Hurriedly.] Good-bye, sir. [TIPPY and MARTIN go.]
[LAURA quickly gathers up the tea things and puts them on a tray and goes to kitchen. In the following scene she is on and off. The BISHOP walks about, troubled and silent. He looks at posters, picks up the Russian books and looks at them.]
BISHOP. Russian. Why are you studying Russian?
KEN. I find it interesting.
BISHOP. Chinese would be interesting. Why Russian?
KEN. I am interested in their architectural developments.
BISHOP. My boy, you haven't it in mind to go to Russia?
KEN. [Evasive.] Wanting doesn't get you there.
BISHOP. Why, of all places in the world, should you want to go to Russia?
KEN. There is no unemployment there. They need men.
BISHOP. [Impatiently.] Oof! Russia ...
[TED enters. He still has the book.]
TED. [Greeting BISHOP with aloof diffidence.] How do you do, sir?
BISHOP. [Very cordial.] How are you? How are you?
TED. [Sees KEN looking at his book.] My man wasn't in. I'll go back and try again later. Is Kate here?
KEN. No. She stepped out.
TED. Then, if you'll excuse me I'll go into the other room and lie down. I've developed a frightful headache.
BISHOP. That is unfortunate. Have you aspirin?
TED. Yes, thank you. [He goes into bedroom, closing door.]
BISHOP. Now there is a fine young man who's facing a real problem. He certainly wasn't trained for commercial pursuits. Yet there he is—selling. Uh, what is he selling, Kenneth?
KENNETH. [Sarcastically.] Books.
BISHOP. I knew his father well. A gentleman and a scholar. Unfortunately, he was a gambler. The depression finished him.
KEN. It's finishing a lot of us.
BISHOP. My boy, I would not have you be extravagant, but I still have enough. I can still support you.
KEN. I'm sick of living on charity.
KEN. On your charity.
BISHOP. You are my son. What little I give you is yours by right.
KEN. What right? I'm not a child, nor a cripple. I'm nearly thirty years old.
BISHOP. These are not normal times.
KEN. They are normal for me.
BISHOP. Be patient a little longer. Our system is not perfect, but it's the best the world has known. It has been responsible for all our progress.
KEN. We're not even aiming at progress, only at recovery; only trying to gain back something we had in the past.
BISHOP. But how can you think there is progress in Russia? It's a slave state; a tyranny. Freedom is essential to progress.
KEN. I don't want freedom. I want a chance to work. I want my share.... Other people have their share, and they have dogs. I don't want dogs, but I want a right to have them.
BISHOP. Your soul is poisoned with envy.
KEN. It's a short life, dad, and mine is half gone already. There is beauty; I want to enjoy it. There are good things; I want some of them. Disease and death we can't help, but poverty we can help.
BISHOP. This is Martin's influence. [Excited.] Ken, you must not turn Communist. Do you hear? I forbid it.
KEN. The Inquisition tried forbidding convictions.
BISHOP. [Frightened.] Convictions?
KEN. I'm fed up. [More savage and bitter as he goes on.] One can go on so long. Things look hopeless but you still hope. Important people make cheerful speeches. You believe them. You want to believe them. You think tomorrow something's going to happen. Something's got to happen! Tomorrow comes and goes—a lot of tomorrows. Nothing happens, nothing. And nothing's going to happen.
BISHOP. My son, you are wrong. The situation is improving. Business conditions are already vastly better. It takes time. You'll get a job, very soon.
KEN. I've heard that for six years.
BISHOP. [Clearing his throat; takes check from pocket.] Now this check you returned ...
KEN. [Shortly.] I don't want it.
BISHOP. But how can you get along without it?
KEN. I'll get along.
BISHOP. How do you propose to live?
KEN. By sleeping on park benches, eating in our bread lines.—Or I'll tell the government I'm destitute—or get a relief job.—I won't go on the way I've been doing.—Laura comes and brings food; Tippy leaves cigarettes around; you send me checks. I'm sick of having to take from you all!—If I've got to live by charity, I want to be free to hate charity. That's a beggar's right.
BISHOP. It gives us pleasure to help you.
KEN. But can't you see what you're doing to my self-respect?
BISHOP. I don't want to hurt your self-respect.
KEN. Then leave me alone.
BISHOP. [Clearing his throat.] Have you been to see Stanley Prescott?
BISHOP. Why hasn't he done something for you?
KEN. I suppose he can't.
BISHOP. Prescott's my friend. He ought to do something for you.
KEN. Oh, the hell with Prescott! [Contrite.] Don't misunderstand me. I wouldn't refuse any job he had to offer me. I'd black his boots if that was the job. But I've been to see him as much as I can. I can't sit on his doorstep and whine.
BISHOP. Certainly not. You must not do anything that would hurt your self-respect. [He has been holding the check, which he now lays down on the table.]
KEN. Don't leave that check, dad.
BISHOP. But son—
KEN. If you do, I'll tear it up.
[BISHOP picks up check, talks to LAURA.]
BISHOP. I'll leave this check with you, Laura. Give it to him when he—when he is himself again. [At this KEN picks up his hat and walks out without a word. The two look unhappily after him. BISHOP, shaken.] That boy—that sane youth ... What's happened to him?
LAURA. [With difficulty.] He wants to break our engagement.
BISHOP. Ah! That's the trouble then. You two have quarrelled.
LAURA. He doesn't need me. I don't mean anything to him....
BISHOP. But of course you do.—There, Laura, there!
LAURA. No. He doesn't. I feel it.
BISHOP. Why, for years you've meant everything to him. He planned to marry you as soon as he graduated. ...
LAURA. Oh, he's so muddled—he's so muddled!
BISHOP. I know how you feel, my dear, but lovers' quarrels ...
LAURA. It's not a lovers' quarrel. Oh, don't you understand? His morale's all shot.
BISHOP. Kenneth is essentially sound. Now don't worry, my dear. [Indulgently.] I'll wait and have another talk with him, eh? Perhaps that's what he needs; a good, sound, heart-to-heart talk with his father.
LAURA. He needs a job! He needs a job! It's more important than I am—more important than you—more important than anything in the world.
[TED opens the door; starts to come out; hears the tense conversation and stands, hesitant.]
BISHOP. You are right. Work is essential,—more essential than love. That's what all these young people need. Something to do with their hands, with their heads. To feel that the world needs them—that they have a right to live.
LAURA. That they belong!
BISHOP. Yes, yes ...
LAURA. You've got to find him a job. You've got to!
BISHOP. Dear child—if only I could!
LAURA. You've got to!—even if you have to buy one.
BISHOP. Buy one?
LAURA. [Moving closer to him.] He need never know....
[TED draws back and softly closes the door.]
SCENE 2*: PRESCOTT'S office has an air of magnificence. Seems high above the street. In an anteroom can be seen the BISHOP, waiting, LUCILLE, PRESCOTT'S secretary, a smartly-dressed young woman, is in the office, reading a newspaper. After a moment, BISHOP HOLDEN comes to the door.]
* This scene can be omitted.
BISHOP. I beg your pardon, [LUCILLE looks up.] Are you sure Mr. Prescott will be back?
LUCILLE. Yes sir.
BISHOP. You think I ought to wait?
LUCILLE. Saturday's a bad day. Why don't you come back on Monday?
BISHOP. I must see him today. If I can't see him here I shall try to see him at his home.
LUCILLE. [Quickly.] Then you had better wait.
BISHOP. Very well. [He goes out, sits down, LUCILLE begins to type; the telephone rings. Before answering, she closes door, shutting out the BISHOP.]
LUCILLE. Hello? Yes, Mrs. Prescott. Not yet, but he took the eleven-thirty train out of Washington and should be here any moment. [Listens.] At the Colony? I'll tell him the minute he comes in. [Hangs up.]
[In a moment the door opens, PRESCOTT stands in the doorway, with his back turned, speaking to the BISHOP.]
PRESCOTT. I'll be with you in a minute, James. [Enters and shuts the door.]
LUCILLE. Oh, Mr. Prescott! You had a good trip, I hope?
PRESCOTT. No. It wasn't very good.
LUCILLE. Oh, I'm sorry! And it spoiled your weekend, too.
PRESCOTT. Spoiled everything. Well, it can't be helped. Anything need my attention here?
LUCILLE. It's been very quiet. Your wife telephoned. She said she'd be at the Colony Club, and would you 'phone her there.
PRESCOTT. All right. Is that all?
LUCILLE. That's about all.
PRESCOTT. How long has Bishop Holden been waiting?
LUCILLE. About an hour.
PRESCOTT. What does he want?
LUCILLE. He didn't say.
PRESCOTT. Why didn't you tell him I couldn't see him today?
LUCILLE. He said he'd go to your house if he couldn't see you here, so I ...
PRESCOTT. Can't I get any protection around here? You could have said I was out of town for the weekend.
LUCILLE. I didn't think of that.
PRESCOTT. You never think of anything.—Send him in.
[LUCILLE goes out; BISHOP enters.]
BISHOP. Seeing you brings back old times.
PRESCOTT. I'm glad to see you, James. Although [Looks at watch.] If you'd let me know I might have kept myself free....
BISHOP. I won't keep you long.
PRESCOTT. Sit down.
BISHOP. Stanley, I'm in trouble. I've come to you for help.
PRESCOTT. [Wary.] I needn't tell you that anything in my power ...
BISHOP. You're a business man.
PRESCOTT. When there is business.
BISHOP. You believe in our American system of government.
PRESCOTT. Certainly, certainly. The system we did have.
BISHOP. So do I. Sincerely. I have the deepest, profoundest faith in our democracy.
PRESCOTT. [Impatient with the other's irrelevancy.] The world has not yet found anything better.
BISHOP. But unless we do something it won't last beyond our generation.
BISHOP. Social unrest is growing. Young people, in their enforced idleness, are turning away from all that we have taught them.
PRESCOTT. [Annoyed.] Come, James. That isn't what you came to see me about.
BISHOP. It is.
PRESCOTT. You have been reading sensational papers. Of course a depression gives the radicals a chance to spread their doctrines. But there isn't any cause for worry. Prosperity is always a sure cure for radicalism. And things are picking up.
BISHOP. You are probably under the common delusion that all radicals are wild-eyed foreigners.
PRESCOTT. [Bitter in his thoughts.] If it wasn't for this foolery at Washington ...
BISHOP. So was I. But I find they are not.
PRESCOTT. We should all have been out of the slump long ago.
BISHOP. Many of them—the young ones—are good American stock.
PRESCOTT. The Administration proclaims its adherence to the profit system....
BISHOP. They have education, in some cases, background, but unfortunately no experience.
PRESCOTT.... and at the same time it insists on unfair competition with private enterprise.
BISHOP. As long as such men remain idle ...
PRESCOTT. So how can private capital be expected to make commitments?
BISHOP. I don't know.
PRESCOTT. But don't you agree?
PRESCOTT. Surely, James, the depression did not hit you personally?
BISHOP. In unexpected ways, Stanley—in most unexpected ways.
PRESCOTT. On the contrary, the Church should have benefited. People in misfortune turn to religion.
BISHOP. But with empty pockets. However, I am not complaining for the Church. It is my son I am worried about.
PRESCOTT. Ah, yes. Kenneth. An agreeable fellow, Kenneth.
BISHOP. Of the six years he's been out of college he has worked only four months. Think of it.
PRESCOTT. Is he married?
PRESCOTT. That's fortunate.
BISHOP. Perhaps. If he were married and had a dependent wife and children he might get architectural work in a government slum clearance project.
PRESCOTT. Exactly what I was talking about. The sooner the government turns the building industry back to private enterprise the better.
BISHOP. Kenneth's situation is tragic. He is a mature man, long overdue to take a man's full place in the world.
PRESCOTT. [Impatient.] Yes, I know—I know.
BISHOP. Yet he is classed as a dependent child.
PRESCOTT. Well, aren't you able to take care of him?
BISHOP. I have kept him from starving.
PRESCOTT. You realize, of course, that he is better off than many.
BISHOP. Keeping him alive is not the point. It is not enough. His spirit is crushed, his education unused, his manhood wasted. He is ambitious, wants to work, to establish a home of his own. He is strong, and he is capable.
PRESCOTT. Yes, yes, I understand. I deplore the waste. It is shameful. But in any event, these conditions won't last much longer.
BISHOP. They have lasted a long time.
PRESCOTT. Yes, longer than they should.—I wish I could help you, James, but I cannot.
BISHOP. I want you to give Kenneth a job, Stanley.
PRESCOTT. If I could, I assure you.
BISHOP. Any job. Anything that will make him feel useful and keep him occupied.—Surely in an organization like yours ...
PRESCOTT. At the moment we are doing no building whatever. One or two small projects; and a mere skeleton staff to keep my organization.
BISHOP. I saw in the papers ...
PRESCOTT. That I am interested in the mass production of fabricated houses. Yes!—And men associated with me are ready to launch large-scale production as soon as we are assured of freedom from competition with cheap government money and cheap government labor.
BISHOP. Then, surely ...
PRESCOTT. I have just returned empty-handed from a bunch of half-baked theorists who are heading us into socialism and calling it democracy!
BISHOP. With a view to your project going through, could you not take Kenneth on?
PRESCOTT. Impossible. My small staff has already done all the preparation that needs to be done. My hands are tied till these socialists in Washington are out.
BISHOP. But has not business been given a breathing spell?
PRESCOTT. I don't sell hot dogs. I build houses. People don't consume houses during a breathing spell.—I tell you I could put a capital of twenty millions at work tomorrow if we were guaranteed that in ten years, or even twenty years, we could get our money back.
BISHOP. But what do you fear? You just said you did not fear a revolution.
PRESCOTT. I don't. I fear the continuance of what we already have. Stagnation and semi-socialism.
BISHOP. When could you give my boy a job?
PRESCOTT. When a sound administration goes into power at Washington.
BISHOP. I don't dare to make him wait.
PRESCOTT. Then you must continue to take care of him.
BISHOP. It is not the cost of his living. He needs work. I can't provide that. You could, if you would.
PRESCOTT. Believe me, I would if I could.
BISHOP. You understand that the salary ...
PRESCOTT. James, I know that your son is a capable young man and I would like to have him here with me. But I can't make a job for a man when I have nothing for him to do.
BISHOP. You, must, Stanley. I can afford to support him, but he refuses to accept support from me any longer.
BISHOP. If you will give him a job, I will recompense you for his salary.
PRESCOTT. [Shocked.] You can't mean that.
BISHOP. I do mean it.
PRESCOTT. I am surprised, James—that a man of your principles and profession ...
BISHOP. I am in a very grievous dilemma.
PRESCOTT. I am sorry, but I can't do it. It is neither ethical nor wise.
BISHOP. I don't know whether it is wise or not. But I know my son is desperate. I know I have got to do something. I can't see that fine boy going about lost and unwanted, with no place in the world. I can't see my son turning to Communism—and helping to pull down not only your temples of money, but my House of God.
PRESCOTT. I am very sorry. I can't do what you ask.
BISHOP. If your plans go through, you would have a place for him?
PRESCOTT. [Impatiently.] Yes, yes.
BISHOP. Then until they do—for my sake, Stanley. For old times' sake. Because we were classmates.
PRESCOTT. But it's damned unethical! Do you realize ... [Telephone rings.] Hello!—Oh, hello, dear ... Yes, I am just leaving. I'll be there in a few minutes. [BISHOP takes out checkbook and writes.] I don't like this.
BISHOP. The ethical sin will be wholly mine. You don't know what it'll mean to my boy to be associated with your firm; you don't know what it'll mean to the girl. He's been engaged to her for three years.
PRESCOTT. I don't like it.
BISHOP. It means new life for two young people, life for them in our way of life. This check, Stanley, is for twelve hundred dollars. Pay Kenneth twenty-five dollars a week. When your plans go through, pay him whatever he's worth to you.
PRESCOTT. It's damned unethical.
BISHOP. There is a greater righteousness than business ethics. [Protesting still, PRESCOTT takes the check.] Good-bye, Stanley—God bless you. [BISHOP goes.]
[PRESCOTT stands regarding check a moment, then rings, LUCILLE enters.]
PRESCOTT. Take a letter. Mr. Kenneth Holden. You have his address on file. Dear Kenneth: Sometime ago you came in to inquire if I could find a place for you. I am glad to tell you that there is a vacancy here now, and if you are still looking for something the place is yours. The work will be ... [Pause.] to develop the interesting plans you spoke to me about, pending possible use of them in the future.... [Pause.] The salary will be small to start with, twenty-five dollars a week. Paragraph. You can begin work at any time....
A few months later. The hour is dusk. A basement apartment lower than street level. There are four doors, one leading in from the street, one leading to a back yard, one to a kitchen, another to a bedroom. The room is large and serves as a combined living room and place of business for a dog specialist. Some of the furniture of the old place is here. There is a shelf displaying packages of dog biscuit, muzzles, etc. The walls are decorated with pictures of dogs and glaring advertisements of dog goods, especially insecticides. There is a large homemade sign:
I CLIP, TRIM, PLUCK, WASH AND EXTERMINATE.
At one side is Martin's sketching table, and on wall near it some of his drawings.
TIPPY is kneeling on the floor beside a wash-tub, bathing a terrier. He talks to it gently, soothingly, all through following scene.
MARTIN, with a green eyeshade, is working on a sketch under a table lamp.
During scene TIPPY takes dog out of tub and begins drying him with a Turkish towel. Has large stack of clean folded towels and uses one after the other.
MARTIN. [As he sketches.] Your persistent love of Class of '29 reunions seems to me more admirable than politic.
TIPPY. It will go off all right if you refrain from talking politics.
MARTIN. As if I were the only member of the Unholy Six with a capacity to make faux pas!
TIPPY. You have tact and tolerance—when you choose to use them.
TIPPY. The fact that you and Ted still manage to live under the same roof proves that.
MARTIN. That poor devil would win the compassion of Hitler himself—with three Jewish grandmothers!
TIPPY. Well? If you can put up with Ted, who never did a lick of work in his life, why quarrel with Ken who is now a true worker, being duly exploited by a wicked capitalist?
MARTIN. Who said I'd quarrel with him?
TIPPY. You will.
MARTIN. All right. You referee.
TIPPY. If he high-hats you with his success I'll tell him that you've sold a drawing to the New Yorker and you can high-hat him back.
MARTIN. Lay off that New Yorker stuff.
MARTIN. Don't be an ass. It's unimportant, that's all.
TIPPY. Eighty dollars—unimportant?
MARTIN. [Lays aside drawing, removes eyeshade and rises.] You've got me wrong if you think I've any qualms about a reunion with our blissfully-wed bourgeois comrades. Where I doubt your horse sense is in inviting Kate.
TIPPY. You can't ask a bride to attend a stag party with four men!
MARTIN. I could have dug up some other female as a shock-absorber.
TIPPY. Listen, son: a man can be a revolutionist and still mix socially with the White Guard. But a female revolutionist must either assassinate them or seduce them.
MARTIN. [Good-naturedly.] Go to hell.
TIPPY. I invited Kate because she is Laura's friend.
MARTIN. She was Laura's friend.
MARTIN. In view of recent changes in social status, are you sure that Kate is still on the calling list of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Holden?
TIPPY. You're talking awful rot.
MARTIN. Maybe you know Ken better than I do.
TIPPY. Hell, he isn't a prig.
MARTIN. Another thing: What makes you so sure Ted will enjoy being put on social display in his frayed clothes alongside a lady gorgeously arrayed in the price of her shame?
TIPPY. The very fact that Ted is so shabby will make it less obvious that Kate is still—[Pause.]—helping him.
MARTIN. Kate is really showing remarkable restraint. I'd have expected her to squeeze enough out of a mink coat to dress Ted up a bit.
[All this time TIPPY has been wiping dog with one towel after another. He now gets up and leads dog to yard.]
TIPPY. Now I must hang Itzy out to dry.
MARTIN. God, haven't you dried that cur enough?
TIPPY. Him must be ventilated so him will smell sweet. Him's mama rubs her nose in him and her is very particular. [He goes out with dog. MARTIN begins picking up the strewn array of used towels, TIPPY comes back.] Thanks, old man. [Takes the towels.] Want to dump the tub for me? [MARTIN carries tub into kitchen, TIPPY continues cleaning up. TED enters with KATE. She is richly dressed and has the mink coat, TED has on a complete new outfit: suit, hat shoes, topcoat. Everything. The coat is gray; suit brown; hat gray. And there is a price tag on tail of overcoat. TIPPY stares in astonishment.] Do my eyes deceive me?
KATE. Hello, flea-killer.—How do you like it?
TIPPY. I must have slept a few years.
[TED removes coat and lays it on table with hat.]
TIPPY. It looks to me like the Republican Party is back in power.
[MARTIN re-enters. He stops in astonishment.]
KATE. Hello, Communist. [Indicates TED.] Does seeing Ted decently dressed make you see red?
MARTIN. [Surveying TED'S clothes.] No, indeed. The true Communist loves beauty and prosperity. His distinction is that he insists on both for everybody.
KATE. Well, I know you are prospering. I saw your drawing in the New Yorker.
MARTIN. I let them have it at half price just to get it where you would see it.
TIPPY. [Confidentially to KATE.] Half price in the New Yorker would be triple price in the New Masses. But selling to the New Yorker is the latest orders from the Comintern. It's the new plan for boring from within.
KATE. [Impressed.] Oh! Is it?
TED. [To MARTIN, who is still surveying him.] Does it fit all right?
KATE. [Indicating TED.] Honest, Tippy, what do you think of it?
TIPPY. What should I think? What would anybody think?
KATE. He looks nice, doesn't he?
TED. [Trying to seem nonchalant, although he is obviously trying to justify himself.] I dropped by to remind Kate about the party.
KATE. And I inveigled him into a shop. Isn't it worth it? Transforms him. Ted wears clothes so well.
TIPPY. Agreed. The man makes the clothes. Martin in that outfit would look like an Oklahoma Indian who'd just struck oil.
KATE. Ted hasn't any business to look shabby. It's all right for Martin, but Ted just looks pathetic.
MARTIN. The only reason I don't wear good clothes is because I spill soup on them.
KATE. [Puts hat on TED'S head.] Now, tell me, do you really like the hat?
TIPPY. It's O.K.—Is he to wear it in the house?
TED. [Removes hat.] I feel the hat is not quite right.
KATE. He wanted a brown hat. But I thought gray was smarter.
TED. Brown would have suited me better.
MARTIN. I'm not up much on sartorial etiquette. Is the hat supposed to match the coat or the suit?
TED. There is no arbitrary rule about it. Brown is a better color for me.
TIPPY. [Looks at watch.] If we're going to have any party, I'd better clear up my work. I have a delivery to make now. [Goes to yard.]
KATE. If you want to change the hat, darling, go ahead. The store's open until seven.
TED. Are you sure you wouldn't mind?
TIPPY. [Re-enters from yard, carrying small dog in his arms.] Didn't realize it was getting so late. I'll be back as soon as I can. [He goes.]
KATE. I think, Ted, that gray gives your face more life, [TED puts hat on again, and surveys himself before the mirror, KATE views him in critical admiration, readjusts his hat several times, and stands off to contemplate her man. MARTIN watches them both, then inspired, takes pencil and cardboard and begins to sketch.] Brown is unutterably drab. It does the most terrible things to me. Put it a little more forward. There—I think that's stunning, Ted.
TED. This time of year the hat and coat would be seen together more than the hat and suit.
KATE. That's right.—Put the coat on again, [TED puts coat on again, and poses with both hat and coat before the mirror.] I don't know. Perhaps you're right.—If you really want to change the hat, go ahead.
[They continue posing, KATE angling the hat, etc., till MARTIN calls TED. There has been a low knock. MARTIN turns his sketch face down and opens the door. A middle-aged woman enters.]
CASE WORKER. Does Theodore Brooks live here?
[She walks in.]
CASE WORKER. Are you Mr. Brooks?
CASE WORKER. Well, is he in?
CASE WORKER. Please call him.
MARTIN. Hi, Ted! [TED turns and CASE WORKER looks at him. He shows no recognition and does not start over.] This lady is calling on you.
[TED comes slowly, taking off his hat; he is still wearing the coat.]
CASE WORKER. [Impatiently.] I asked to see Theodore Brooks.
CASE WORKER. You are not Brooks.
TED. Yes. That's my name.
CASE WORKER. Theodore Brooks?—You!
TED. [Uncomfortably.] What do you want, madam?
CASE WORKER. I am a case worker on relief applications.
CASE WORKER. Someone giving the name of Theodore Brooks and this address applied for relief.
CASE WORKER. Did you make that application?
CASE WORKER. Why?
TED. [Squirming.] The usual reason—I suppose.
[There is a pause in which one expects almost anything to happen.]
CASE WORKER. [With restraint.] Very well. I must ask you a few questions. [Her antagonism is felt all through.]
TED. I'll try to answer them. [Desperately.] I needed relief or I wouldn't have applied for it.
CASE WORKER. You feel you still need relief?
TED. I do.
CASE WORKER. Well ... Well, we'll go ahead. I have to fill my records. Your name is Theodore Brooks.
[She sits at table to fill out blanks, TED stands.]
TED. That's right.
CASE WORKER. Age?
CASE WORKER. Where born?
TED. New York City.
CASE WORKER. When?
TED. Twenty-eight years ago.
CASE WORKER. No, no, the date!
TED. March 20, 1907.
CASE WORKER. Father's name?
TED. Nathaniel Brooks.
CASE WORKER. His birthplace?
TED. New York City.
CASE WORKER. His ancestry?
TED. The Pilgrim fathers.
CASE WORKER. Your mother's name?
TED. Susan Cartwright, born in Philadelphia. Her ancestors, American Quakers.
CASE WORKER. [Writing fast.] Wait a minute.—Both parents living?
TED. Both dead.
CASE WORKER. Brothers and sisters?
CASE WORKER. What other close kin?
TED. I have one uncle and two aunts.
CASE WORKER. Do they live in New York City?
TED. It happens that none of them does.
CASE WORKER. Then we don't need them.
MARTIN. Pardon me, but how far in kinship does the responsibility go?
CASE WORKER. It depends. We can't force uncles and aunts to contribute, but we sometimes give them the opportunity to do so. However, this doesn't look like a kin folks case. And now, young man, just what is your occupation?
TED. I haven't any. That's my trouble.
CASE WORKER. No occupation? You're not a minor. For adults occupation must be stated.
TED. Very well, I am a collector.
CASE WORKER. By what firms have you been employed?
CASE WORKER. Then how can you be a collector?
TED. You said I must have an occupation.
CASE WORKER. You are not helping me by lying and you may get yourself into trouble.
MARTIN. Is it the first time you ever ran into a man, who needed relief, not because he had worked, but because he hadn't?
CASE WORKER. [Snappily.] I didn't prepare those blanks, but I have to fill them out. One can have an occupation, like stenography, when trained for it, even though they have never been employed.
TED. All right, put that down and go ahead.
CASE WORKER. Stenography?
TED. No, collecting.
CASE WORKER. But collectors aren't trained. One has to have worked at that.
TED. Then say I worked as a collector for my father.
CASE WORKER. What business was he in?
TED. He was retired.
CASE WORKER. Then what did you collect for him?
TED. First editions.
CASE WORKER. Please talk sense.
MARTIN. Books. A book collector.
CASE WORKER. You mean, a bookkeeper?
TED. [Bitterly.] We kept them as long as we could. My father died during the Wall Street panic. He'd gone bankrupt. Since you want to know how I lived, I lived for some time by selling my father's books.
CASE WORKER. [Writing.] Then you lived without working, on property that you inherited?
TED. Yes, till that source was exhausted.
CASE WORKER. When was that?
TED. Some time ago.
CASE WORKER. You must be definite.
TED. Then say two years ago.
CASE WORKER. You sold all your father's books?
TED. I still have the family Bible, a set of Shakespeare with the marginal notations made by father while he was at Oxford, and a few others.
CASE WORKER. How much do you consider those books worth?
TED. I consider them invaluable.
CASE WORKER. But you must set a value upon them.
CASE WORKER. Because if you own anything worth two hundred dollars you are not eligible for relief.
TED. I have nothing worth that to anybody but me.
CASE WORKER. You say you quit selling these books about two years ago.
CASE WORKER. How have you lived since then?
TED. Chiefly on borrowed money.
CASE WORKER. From whom did you borrow the money?
TED. From friends.
CASE WORKER. You have very prosperous friends?
TED. I had some prosperous friends.
CASE WORKER. You are extremely well-dressed for an applicant for relief.
MARTIN. Let me explain that. We were to have a little dinner party tonight ...
CASE WORKER. And he bought a new outfit for this dinner.—Hasn't even had time to remove the price tags.—Do you mind removing your coat?
TED. [Takes it off.] I was about to take it off. I'd just come in.
CASE WORKER. [She rises and looks at maker's label in coat.] H'm. Madison Avenue. [Noses his suit at close range.] And the suit is better than the coat.—This is the best I've run into yet. Expensive suit and coat; new shoes; matched accessories. Not much left of a hundred dollar bill, was there?—But I suppose your rich uncle died since you applied for relief?
MARTIN. Look here, couldn't a man ...
CASE WORKER. Certainly he could, and many do, apply for relief just to get a little side graft from the government.
TED. [Desperately, humiliated.] I applied for relief because I wanted a job; because the only way to get a job is to go on relief first. I haven't anything. I have no source of income.
CASE WORKER. [Sarcastic.] No income, but plenty of money? I understand!
MARTIN. I was about to explain ...
CASE WORKER. [Shortly.] You needn't. You can't bamboozle me. It's most unfortunate, isn't it, that I caught him unawares? Had he known I was coming he'd undoubtedly have dressed more correctly for the role of a relief applicant.
KATE. Oh, how dare you?
CASE WORKER. Our instructions are to report in detail on every application, and particularly on those that appear fraudulent. [Fully formidable.] Now, Mr. Brooks. Will you answer truthfully? Have you any means of support that you have not acknowledged?
TED. No. I have not.
CASE WORKER. [Rising, leaves report lying on table.] Then perhaps you will explain how you got those clothes?
KATE. [Who has had great difficulty keeping still.] I bought those clothes for him. Now are you satisfied?
CASE WORKER. And who are you?
KATE. A friend.
CASE WORKER. So—it's that kind of a deal. I wondered who you were.
MARTIN. [Angry.] Does that go in your report?
CASE WORKER. Yes, that will go in my report.
MARTIN. The lady's name and address, I suppose—and whether she is married or single?
CASE WORKER. You needn't be sarcastic.
MARTIN. And if she is married, do you notify the husband?
CASE WORKER. I don't think there is any ruling on that.
[KATE, unseen, gets hold of report and holds it behind her.]
KATE. Well, what will happen in this case?
CASE WORKER. I don't know. I shall turn in my report.
KATE. Oh no you won't. Not this report! [She tears and crumples it.].
CASE WORKER. How dare you?
KATE. Get out!
CASE WORKER. I'll report you.
KATE. You haven't got my name and address yet.
CASE WORKER. I'll send the chief investigator here.
MARTIN. Madam, you will do nothing of the sort. Or I'll report you.
CASE WORKER. You will? To whom?
MARTIN. To a New York newspaper which would just love the story of a noble case worker and how well she works her cases.
CASE WORKER. The impudence!
MARTIN. And your picture. I always illustrate my own stories, and I can draw your face from memory.
CASE WORKER. [Whining.] But I must turn in some kind of a report.
MARTIN. You lost it! And Uncle Sam forgot it. It's only one of ten million. [He escorts her to door.]
CASE WORKER. [As she storms out.] I ought to report the whole lot of you to the police.
KATE. [As she further reduces the crumpled report to fragments and tosses them into wastebasket.]. I don't know how I managed to keep still as long as I did. I wanted to choke her.
TED. I'm sorry I ever made the application.
KATE. Why did you do it?
TED. It was so long ago, I thought they'd forgotten it.
MARTIN. Hang it, I shouldn't have lost my temper. I approve of relief. You should be on relief, Ted—of course you should.
TED. It was these clothes.
MARTIN. That's tough luck. That angel of mercy should have seen you yesterday. She would have adored that hole in your elbow.
KATE. Did you really want to be on relief?
TED. I need a job. The government will give one a job, but only if he goes on relief first.
MARTIN. That's it. First you go broke, then you go hungry. Then you beg, then you take charity. Then you rake leaves—then the taxpayers raise hell, and throw the rascals out to save the Constitution.
KATE. [To MARTIN.] Does a man get work as soon as he gets on relief?
MARTIN. If he's a skilled worker, perhaps. But they can't invent work fast enough. Many are still on straight relief.
KATE. That woman was vile. How do people stand it?
MARTIN. They stand it because an empty stomach growls louder than insulted pride.
KATE. We could report her. We could go over her head to some responsible official.
MARTIN. They have a rigid system to prevent that.
KATE. No harm in trying.
TED. No! I won't go near that place again.
MARTIN. You're entitled to relief as much as anyone is.
KATE. Yes, Ted. If you really want it....
TED. I don't want it. I don't even want to think about it.
MARTIN. There are plenty of fine people on relief. After all, what is relief? Relief is ...
TED. Relief! Relief! Relief!—I don't want to hear that word again! [He starts to door.]
KATE. Ted! Where are you going?
TED. I am going to change my hat. [He goes out.]
KATE. I wish I knew what Ted really wants.
KATE. I've given him money. He hates me and he hates himself because of it.
MARTIN. Naturally. The transaction hasn't been according to Hoyle. Now if Ted were a Georgian Prince, and your grandpa had started the ten-cent stores, it would be a different matter. There'd be grandeur in it; intrigue, romance, finance—something to write up for the Sunday papers. But room rent and a suit of clothes ... that's shoddy. It's got to be Rolls Royces and polo ponies or nothing.
KATE. Oh shut up. Do you think I like the situation? But I can't see him starve.
MARTIN. Damn that woman! If he could have got a job ...
KATE. [With sudden determination.] All right. If he wants a job, I'll get him a job.
KATE. By asking for it. How do you suppose? I'll go right now, before I lose my nerve. [She powders nose before pocket mirror.']
MARTIN. You were smart to dress him up first. Those clothes should spell the diff between wages and a salary.
KATE. I'll take anything I can get for him.
TIPPY. [Enters.] Well, I'm back.... Where's our Beau Brummel?
KATE. He went to change his hat.
TIPPY. That's good. [Crosses to yard.] Bet you never looked at Itzy. [Goes out to yard.]
MARTIN. [As KATE puts on fur coat.] Funny time of day, Kate, to start out to get a man a job.
KATE. That depends on whom you have to see to get it.
MARTIN. What's it to be? Bouncer at the Union League Club?
TIPPY. [Re-enters from yard.] 'Im still smells a eetle bit soapy.—Kate! Where are you going? Ken and Laura will be here any minute.
KATE. Sorry, Tippy. I got my dates mixed. But I'll be back. Only don't wait dinner for me. [She goes.]
TIPPY. Now what the hell? Where's she going?
MARTIN. You can't tell. She works irregular hours.
TIPPY. But she promised to be here for dinner. Isn't her soul her own?
MARTIN. Hadn't you heard she'd sold it?
TIPPY. [Glumly.] That's a hell of a note.—I hope Ted gets back in time. I don't want my dinner party spoiled.
MARTIN. He'll be back.
TIPPY. He looked nifty in the new clothes, didn't he? Laura will like them.
MARTIN. Let's hope she doesn't say too much about them.
TIPPY. She'll be too busy telling you what a fine husband she has.
MARTIN. And her husband will tell me what a fine job he has, and all about the sweet spirit of loyalty that exists in that wonderful corporation. [Stops to light cigarette.] Jesus, Tippy, if prosperity really does come back, life is going to be an awful bore for us revolutionists.
[There is a knock, TIPPY goes and lets KEN and LAURA in. They are happy and gay and terribly in love. She can hardly keep her hands from caressing him. She finds threads to flick off his sleeve and must straighten his tie.]
LAURA. [Embracing TIPPY.] YOU dear!
LAURA. Hello, Martin,—you still a Communist?
MARTIN. And how!
LAURA. [To TIPPY.] Are Kate and Ted going to be here too?
TIPPY. You bet!
LAURA. Oh, how grand! It's going to be like old times.
KEN. [Tolerantly.] For anyone who so hated those times, Laura, I must say ...
LAURA. [Positively.] They were good times.—Except that you wouldn't have me.
KEN. I was an idiot.
LAURA. Such a charming idiot.
MARTIN. Looks as if you maybe like that fellow.
LAURA. Mm. A little bit.
KEN. She won't admit it, but she likes me a lot.
MARTIN. I'll be hanged if I see why.
LAURA. It's a mystery to me, too.
TIPPY. And after all this time!
LAURA. It's queer, isn't it? Often I look at him and I say why, out of all the millions of men—handsome men, brilliant men, wealthy men—did I fall in love with him?
MARTIN. And when you might have had me!
TIPPY. [With a terrible yowl.] Oh, sweet mystery of life ...
KEN. My God!
TIPPY. I won't even ask how things are! You look so damned all right.
LAURA. On two salaries and no babies, who wouldn't? May I lend you the price of a rented Tuxedo so you can come to dinner without embarrassing our butler?
KEN. Yeah—when we get the bedroom set paid for we're going to exchange the radio for a Cadillac.
LAURA. Oh, Martin! If you have any original drawings unsold, just name your price. All we have on the walls now is the Horse Fair and the Last Supper. But mind you—art only, no propaganda.
MARTIN. I'll do a charcoal of the Palisades for you.
LAURA. I forbid it. They're an invitation to suicide.
TIPPY. He'll draw the Palisades from the bottom looking up. That's an invitation to climb.
KEN. There's a lot in the point of view!
LAURA. Good! Climbing is much more fun than jumping off!
KEN. All one needs is a toehold to get started.
TIPPY. I say, Ken, so you feel really started now?
KEN. I sure do.
TIPPY. That's great!
MARTIN. When you get to the top, don't push anyone off.
TIPPY. There is plenty of room on top of the Palisades.
MARTIN. You've stacked the analogy on me. Most mountains don't have flat tops.
KEN. Ah, hell, Martin, you're just being stubborn. Kate showed us your drawing in the New Yorker.
LAURA. We liked it a lot.
KEN. That's your toehold. When you've sold them six you'll be back to pink socialism. And soon you'll be mailing things to the Saturday Evening Post—and signing them!
LAURA. Don't rub it in, dear.
KEN. I'm not rubbing it in. I was once as radical as Martin.
TIPPY. Ken, Ken—don't exaggerate. As an architect, you must keep your perspective.
KEN. I was ready to go to Russia, wasn't I?
MARTIN. Oh yeah!
KEN. I used to get sore as a pup when people said a man was radical only because he was unemployed. But it's true. I know because I've lived through it. A man's political views are colored by his situation.
MARTIN. [Shouting with laughter.] Hey! Don't plagiarize Marx.
MARTIN. Karl Marx; you're stealing his thunder. That's what the man wrote his big book about. Only—you see it for one man and a few months. Marx saw it for all humanity for all time.
LAURA. They're at it again. The dear little schoolboys.—Tippy, how does one make them grow up?
TIPPY. Opinions differ. Bobby Benson says Mother's Oats and Buck Rogers says Cocomalt. What do you give Ken for breakfast?
KEN. I say, what's Ted doing?
TIPPY. About the same.
KEN. Still looking for book bargains?
TIPPY. They get harder and harder to sell.
KEN. The trouble with you fellows is you encourage Ted in his weakness. Someone ought to put it to him straight. The man doesn't realize where he's drifting.
MARTIN. Yes—well—that's his business.
KEN. You fellows are afraid to talk to him.
LAURA. What is there to say to him?
KEN. Say to him? Say to him that the least he could do is to apply for relief work.
MARTIN. [Pointedly.] Ken, you're welcome to your opinion. But I'd advise you not to say anything to Ted about relief.
KEN. Why not? There's no disgrace in relief work. You'd be surprised how many ...
MARTIN. [Shortly.] We know as many nice people on relief as you do.
KEN. I said relief work, not relief.
MARTIN. What's the difference?
LAURA. Why, Martin, there's a big difference!
MARTIN. Sure there is. Plain reliefers can sit on the benches. Relief workers have shovels to lean on. It's a true class distinction.
KEN. There are lots of loafers and piddling projects,—but the government's also doing some big jobs, some real construction work.
TIPPY. Martin wrote a song about that.
LAURA. Really? Have you turned composer, Martin?
MARTIN. Just some new words on an old tune.
LAURA. Oh, let's hear it.
MARTIN. After dinner.
LAURA. No, I can't wait. You sing it for us now, then after dinner we can all sing it. [She picks up guitar and thrusts it at him.] Come on, Lyric Writer, tune up.
KEN. [Tolerantly.] Sure let's hear it.
MARTIN. [Singing.] Then little Andy Lang of the Lake Shore gang Said, "Boys, you know I'm countin' Each day and week until I see
ALL. The Big Rock Candy Mountain."
MARTIN. Oh the Big Rock Candy Mountain Stands on a plain of bread. Our Uncle's got to feed us Or soon we'll all be dead. The more and more he feeds us The sooner we'll be red So serve the soup With a great big whoop And promise pie Up in the sky On the Big Rock Candy Mountain.
ALL. Oh the Big Rock Candy Mountain
MARTIN. Belongs to Uncle Sam. To move the great big mountain Will take a million men. So come on with your tooth picks And bring your fountain pen. Go easy, don't jerk; We gotta make work. It'll take more moons If we use small spoons To move that great big mountain.
[On the last verse TIPPY has gone to yard and he is now back with Itzy on a leash.]
TIPPY. On with the concert while I take Itzy home. I won't be long. Itzy lives near.
MARTIN. Say, let me take Itzy home while you start dinner.
TIPPY. Right you are. I forgot a dinner has to be cooked before it can be eaten.
MARTIN. Any shopping to do?
TIPPY. Oh, that's right. I'll have to go myself.
KEN. He also forgot a dinner has to be bought before it can be cooked.
LAURA. Something tells me I'd better look into this menu.
TIPPY. I'm having tomato soup, and I'm going to make bran muffins. And there are pork chops.
LAURA. Pork chops in 1935! That's extravagant.
MARTIN. He buys them to get the bones for his doggies. The meat we get is a by-product.
LAURA. O. K. Ken adores shoulder chops.—But what's the salad?
TIPPY. That's just where I stalled. I haven't even bought the makings.
KEN. [Taking Itzy's leash.] If you people are going to talk salad, tell me where this dog lives.
LAURA. No. I see I'll have to go. No salad has been provided and I don't trust men on salad. Martin, you know where Itzy lives, so come along and carry the packages. And Tippy, you go light your oven and mix your muffins.
[LAURA and MARTIN go with the dog.]
TIPPY. Laura's a peach.
KEN. You don't know how much of a peach.
TIPPY. I'm glad you two've got settled so well.
KEN. I was a fool not to do it before.
TIPPY. Sure you were.
KEN. The trouble was, I'd lost my bearings. Thought I'd never get out of the woods.
TIPPY. The job look pretty good?
KEN. I guess so.
TIPPY. You don't sound so sure.
KEN. Oh sure, the job's all right.
TIPPY. Prescott a tough customer?
KEN. No. That's just the trouble. He's a queer duck. Half the time I feel he doesn't know I'm there.
TIPPY. He hired you, didn't he? He pays you, doesn't he? He knows you're there!
KEN. Of course he isn't ready to use my stuff yet. Just wants me to work it up.
TIPPY. Sure. That's what he hired you for.
KEN. But, damn it, I've been there several months and ... [Laughs.] Maybe the trouble is that I don't have to take orders from anybody; maybe it's that I don't have to fuss and sweat over details the way the others do. Maybe that's the trouble. I can work on my plans in my own sweet way. Maybe that's it. Maybe I'm unhappy because Prescott doesn't bawl hell out of me the way he does the others.
TIPPY. That's it. The trouble is you've got it too good!
KEN. That's right. Maybe I've got it too good, [TED enters. Now has new hat, brown; better taste, better fit, and more becoming. He and KEN greet each other with a little restraint.] Hello, Ted.
TED. Hello. You look fine. Married life must agree with you.
KEN. Nothing like it. Married life, and work.
TED. Oh yes, work. You do have a job, haven't you?
KEN. Yes, you bet I have.
TED. And a job's a job, even if it falls from the moon.
TIPPY. The moon? Are there capitalists on the moon?
TED. Do all jobs come from capitalists?
TIPPY. Don't they?
TED. Ask Martin. He says there are no capitalists in Russia but lots of jobs.
KEN. God, are you going Red, Ted?
TIPPY. Ted's not going anywhere, but I'm going to the kitchen to start the muffins. The rest of the dinner is on the way, Ted. So lick your chops for a feast.
[He goes. There is an awkward pause, during which TED self-consciously removes his coat under KEN'S curious eyes.]
KEN. Nice outfit.
TED. Glad you like it.—Going to be like old times. Regular reunion of the Class of '29.
TED. Where's Laura?
KEN. She's gone out to do some shopping.
TED. Oh. With Kate?
KEN. No. Kate wasn't here.
TED. She was here before.
KEN. She wasn't when we came.
KEN. Laura went with Martin.
KEN. That's right.
TED. Great to have the whole bunch together again, huh?
KEN. Yes, great.
TED. You seem satisfied with your job.
KEN. Hell yes. It's a great job. The salary isn't anything to boast of—yet. But the future looks like a million. You see, Prescott didn't hire me for any routine detail. He has men for that. His object in taking me on was to develop for him my plans for fabricated housing.
TED. Sounds fine.
KEN. Christ, Ted, do you realize what it means, after you've wasted years, to get back and do real work?
TED. Must feel great.
KEN. Ted, why don't you get a job?
TED. I haven't turned down any.
KEN. But have you been going about it in the right way? Of course I realize you haven't any real professional training. But you know the rare books racket. There must be a lot of money in publishing limited editions. What's wrong with that business?
TED. Unfortunately, the people I know don't consider me a business man.
KEN. What you are and how you're considered isn't important. It's the way you go after things.—The trouble with you is you got started down and just kept on going down.—Oh, I know how that is. It looked that way for me once. Things were awful.
TED. They've changed for you, haven't they?
KEN. Sure. They've changed for everybody. The whole spirit of the country has changed. Man, don't you feel it?
TED. I can't say that I do.
KEN. We've turned that famous corner, and it's time for you to wake up and get out of your rut.
TED. All right. You know how. Suppose you tell me.
KEN. You still think there's something wrong with the world when your troubles are purely personal.
TED. My troubles are ... All right. What about the other millions of unemployed?
KEN. They're incompetents. Common laborers and workmen in industries that died—like soft coal mining. And maybe some technological unemployment. But you're not in any narrow technical field. As a matter of fact in not being specialized you actually have an advantage. All you've got to do is go after things.
TED. Easy to say.
KEN. Easy to do. Part of your trouble is your environment.
TED. My environment?
KEN. Sure. Tippy here is make-shifting—but that's all right. It's something. Martin's radical, living off his wits. That's not your style. Neither of them can help you.
TED. They have helped me.
KEN. They've weakened you. For Christ's sake, Ted, snap out of it. Get away from here. Get away from it all. Make a break. You won't starve. If you can't get a real job, go on relief.
KEN. I know relief isn't pleasant for a man like you. But hell, it's better than ...
TED. Let's not discuss it.
KEN. It's high time you did discuss it. You can't go on the way you're doing.
TED. Did I ask for your advice?
KEN. Now don't get sore. I'm trying to help you.
TED. The hell with your help!
KEN. All right. You don't want advice and you won't take it. What are you going to do? Go on living off Kate forever?
TED. That's my affair.
KEN. It's your affair, but everybody knows it. And everybody knows what it is. It's the second oldest profession in the world—and the lousiest one.
TED. [Wildly.] Drop it, I say!
KEN. You know where Kate gets her money and how she earns it.—And you know what that makes you.
[With an inarticulate cry, TED tries to stop him, but KEN goes on almost in spite of himself'.] A pimp! That's what it makes you. A pimp.
TED. Damn you! Damn you!
KEN. It doesn't sound pretty, does it?
TED. Not from you.
KEN. It will sound the same no matter where it comes from.
TED. Not from you.—Because we're in the same boat. We're in the same boat, do you hear? We're in the same boat!
KEN. [Contemptuously.] The hell you say!
TED. You'd rather die than accept favors from a woman, wouldn't you?
KEN. You bet you ...
TED. You'd rather eat Salvation Army bean soup than go on living off your father, too.
KEN. Sure. So I got out and got a job.
TED. A job. What kind of a job? [Hysterically.] Who got that job for you? Who is paying your salary?
KEN. Ah, you're crazy!
TED. I'll tell you who got you that job and I'll tell you who's paying your salary. Your father.
KEN, You're a god-damned liar.
[MARTIN and LAURA enter, their arms laden with bundles.]
TED. Prescott is just a go-between. It's your father who's paying your salary!
LAURA. [In horror.] Ted!
TED. Ask her. She knows. It was her idea.—If I'm a pimp, what does that make you? [Takes his hat and coat, brushes by her and streaks out.]