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Theft - A Play In Four Acts
by Jack London
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THEFT

A Play In Four Acts

By Jack London

1910

ACT I A Room in the House of Senator Chalmers

ACT II Rooms of Howard Knox at Hotel Waltham

ACT III A Room in the Washington House of Anthony Starkweather

ACT IV Same as Act I

Time of Play, To-Day, in Washington, D. C. It Occurs in Twenty Hours

CHARACTERS

Margaret Chalmers

Howard Knox

Thomas Chalmers

Master Thomas Chalmers

Ellery Jackson Hubbard

Anthony Starkweather

Mrs Starkweather

Connie Starkweather

Felix Dobleman

Linda Davis

Julius Rutland

John Gieford

Matsu Sakari

Dolores Ortega

Senator Dowsett Mrs Dowsett

Housekeeper, Servs

Wife of Senator Chalmers

A Congressman from Oregon

A United States Senator and several times millionaire

Son of Margaret and Senator Chalmers

A Journalist

A great magnate, and father of Margaret Chalmers

His wife

Their younger daughter

Secretary to Anthony Starkweather

Maid to Margaret Chalmers

Episcopalian Minister

Labor Agitator

Secretary of Japanese Embassy

Wife of Peruvian Minister

Agents, etc



ACTORS' DESCRIPTION OF CHARACTERS

Margaret Chalmers. Twenty-seven years of age; a strong, mature woman, but quite feminine where her heart or sense of beauty are concerned. Her eyes are wide apart. Has a dazzling smile, which she knows how to use on occasion. Also, on occasion, she can be firm and hard, even cynical An intellectual woman, and at the same time a very womanly woman, capable of sudden tendernesses, flashes of emotion, and abrupt actions. She is a finished product of high culture and refinement, and at the same time possesses robust vitality and instinctive right-promptings that augur well for the future of the race.

Howard Knox. He might have been a poet, but was turned politician. Inflamed with love for humanity. Thirty-five years of age. He has his vision, and must follow it. He has suffered ostracism because of it, and has followed his vision in spite of abuse and ridicule. Physically, a well-built, powerful man. Strong-featured rather than handsome. Very much in earnest, and, despite his university training, a trifle awkward in carriage and demeanor, lacking in social ease. He has been elected to Congress on a reform ticket, and is almost alone in fight he is making. He has no party to back him, though he has a following of a few independents and insurgents.

Thomas Chalmers. Forty-five to fifty years of age. Iron-gray mustache. Slightly stout. A good liver, much given to Scotch and soda, with a weak heart. Is liable to collapse any time. If anything, slightly lazy or lethargic in his emotional life. One of the "owned" senators representing a decadent New England state, himself master of the state political machine. Also, he is nobody's fool. He possesses the brain and strength of character to play his part. His most distinctive feature is his temperamental opportunism.

Master Thomas Chalmers. Six years of age. Sturdy and healthy despite his grandmother's belief to the contrary.

Ellery Jackson Hubbard. Thirty-eight to forty years of age. Smooth-shaven. A star journalist with a national reputation; a large, heavy-set man, with large head, large hands—everything about him is large. A man radiating prosperity, optimism and selfishness. Has no morality whatever. Is a conscious individualist, cold-blooded, pitiless, working only for himself, and believing in nothing but himself.

Anthony Starkweather. An elderly, well preserved gentleman, slenderly built, showing all the signs of a man who has lived clean and has been almost an ascetic. One to whom the joys of the flesh have had little meaning. A cold, controlled man whose one passion is for power. Distinctively a man of power. An eagle-like man, who, by keenness of brain and force of character, has carved out a fortune of hundreds of millions. In short, an industrial and financial magnate of the first water and of the finest type to be found in the United States. Essentially a moral man, his rigid New England morality has suffered a sea change and developed into the morality of the master-man of affairs, equally rigid, equally uncompromising, but essentially Jesuitical in that he believes in doing wrong that right may come of it. He is absolutely certain that civilization and progress rest on his shoulders and upon the shoulders of the small group of men like him.

Mrs. Starkweather. Of the helpless, comfortably stout, elderly type. She has not followed her husband in his moral evolution. She is the creature of old customs, old prejudices, old New England ethics. She is rather confused by the modern rush of life.

Connie Starkweather. Margaret's younger sister, twenty years old. She is nothing that Margaret is, and everything that Margaret is not. No essential evil in her, but has no mind of her own—hopelessly a creature of convention. Gay, laughing, healthy, buxom—a natural product of her care-free environment.

Feux Dobleman. Private secretary to Anthony Starkweather. A young man of correct social deportment, thoroughly and in all things just the sort of private secretary a man like Anthony Starkweather would have. He is a weak-souled creature, timorous, almost effeminate.

Linda Davis. Maid to Margaret. A young woman of twenty-five or so, blond, Scandinavian, though American-born. A cold woman, almost featureless because of her long years of training, but with a hot heart deep down, and characterized by an intense devotion to her mistress. Wild horses could drag nothing from her where her mistress is concerned.

Junus Rutland. Having no strong features about him, the type realizes itself.

John Gifford. A labor agitator. A man of the people, rough-hewn, narrow as a labor-leader may well be, earnest and sincere. He is a proper, better type of labor-leader.

Matsu Sakari. Secretary of Japanese Embassy. He is the perfection of politeness and talks classical book-English. He bows a great deal.

Dolores Ortega. Wife of Peruvian Minister; bright and vivacious, and uses her hands a great deal as she talks, in the Latin-American fashion.

Senator Dowsett. Fifty years of age; well preserved.

Mrs. Dowsett. Stout and middle-aged.



ACT I

A ROOM IN THE HOUSE OF SENATOR CHALMERS

Scene. In Senator Chalmers' home. It is four o'clock in the afternoon, in a modern living room with appropriate furnishings. In particular, in front, on left, a table prepared for the serving of tea, all excepting the tea urn itself. At rear, right of center, is main entrance to the room. Also, doorways at sides, on left and right. Curtain discloses Chalmers and Hubbard seated loungingly at the right front.

{Hubbard}

(After an apparent pause for cogitation.) I can't understand why an old wheel-horse like Elsworth should kick over the traces that way.

{Chalmers}

Disgruntled. Thinks he didn't get his fair share of plums out of the Tariff Committee. Besides, it's his last term. He's announced that he's going to retire.

{Hubbard}

(Snorting contemptuously, mimicking an old man's pompous enunciation.) "A Resolution to Investigate the High Cost of Living!"—old Senator Elsworth introducing a measure like that! The old buck!—— How are you going to handle it?

{Chalmers}

It's already handled.

{Hubbard}

Yes?

{Chalmers}

(Pulling his mustache.) Turned it over to the Committee to Audit and Control the Contingent Expenses of the Senate.

{Hubbard}

(Grinning his appreciation.) And you're chairman. Poor old Elsworth. This way to the lethal chamber, and the bill's on its way.

{Chalmers}

Elsworth will be retired before it's ever reported. In the meantime, say after a decent interval, Senator Hodge will introduce another resolution to investigate the high cost of living. It will be like Elsworth's, only it won't.

{Hubbard}

(Nodding his head and anticipating.) And it will go to the Committee on Finance and come back for action inside of twenty-four hours.

{Chalmers}

By the way, I see Cartwright's Magazine has ceased muck-raking.

{Hubbard}

Cartwrights never did muck-rake—that is, not the big Interests—only the small independent businesses that didn't advertise.

{Chalmers}

Yes, it deftly concealed its reactionary tendencies.

{Hubbard}

And from now on the concealment will be still more deft. I've gone into it myself. I have a majority of the stock right now.

{Chalmers}

I thought I had noticed a subtle change in the last two numbers.

{Hubbard}

(Nodding.) We're still going on muck-raking. We have a splendid series on Aged Paupers, demanding better treatment and more sanitary conditions. Also we are going to run "Barbarous Venezuela" and show up thoroughly the rotten political management of that benighted country.

{Chalmers}

(Nods approvingly, and, after a pause.) And now concerning Knox. That's what I sent for you about. His speech comes off tomorrow per schedule. At last we've got him where we want him.

{Hubbard}

I have the ins and outs of it pretty well. Everything's arranged. The boys have their cue, though they don't know just what's going to be pulled off; and this time to-morrow afternoon their dispatches will be singing along the wires.

{Chalmers}

(Firmly and harshly.) This man Knox must be covered with ridicule, swamped with ridicule, annihilated with ridicule.

{Hubbard}

It is to laugh. Trust the great American people for that. We'll make those little Western editors sit up. They've been swearing by Knox, like a little tin god. Roars of laughter for them.

{Chalmers}

Do you do anything yourself?

{Hubbard}

Trust me. I have my own article for Cartwright's blocked out. They're holding the presses for it. I shall wire it along hot-footed to-morrow evening. Say——?

{Chalmers}

(After a pause.) Well?

{Hubbard}

Wasn't it a risky thing to give him his chance with that speech?

{Chalmers}

It was the only feasible thing. He never has given us an opening. Our service men have camped on his trail night and day. Private life as unimpeachable as his public life. But now is our chance. The gods have given him into our hands. That speech will do more to break his influence—

{Hubbard}

(Interrupting.) Than a Fairbanks cocktail.

(Both laugh.) But don't forget that this Knox is a live wire. Somebody might get stung. Are you sure, when he gets up to make that speech, that he won't be able to back it up?

{Chalmers}

No danger at all.

{Hubbard}

But there are hooks and crooks by which facts are sometimes obtained.

{Chalmers}

(Positively.) Knox has nothing to go on but suspicions and hints, and unfounded assertions from the yellow press.

(Man-servant enters, goes to tea-table, looks it over, and makes slight rearrangements.) (Lowering his voice.) He will make himself a laughing stock. His charges will turn into boomerangs. His speech will be like a sheet from a Sunday supplement, with not a fact to back it up. (Glances at Servant.) We'd better be getting out of here. They're going to have tea.

(The Servant, however, makes exit.) Come to the library and have a high-ball. (They pause as Hubbard speaks.)

{Hubbard}

(With quiet glee.) And to-morrow Ali Baba gets his.

{Chalmers}

Ali Baba?

{Hubbard}

That's what your wife calls him—Knox.

{Chalmers}

Oh, yes, I believe I've heard it before. It's about time he hanged himself, and now we've given him the rope.

{Hubbard}

(Sinking voice and becoming deprecatingly confidential. )

Oh, by the way, just a little friendly warning, Senator Chalmers. Not so fast and loose up New York way. That certain lady, not to be mentioned—there's gossip about it in the New York newspaper offices. Of course, all such stories are killed. But be discreet, be discreet If Gherst gets hold of it, he'll play it up against the Administration in all his papers.

(Chalmers, who throughout this speech is showing a growing resentment, is about to speak, when voices are heard without and he checks himself.)

(Enter. Mrs. Starkweather, rather flustered and imminently in danger of a collapse, followed by Connie Starkweather, fresh, radiant, and joyous.)

{Mrs. Starkweather}

(With appeal and relief.)

Oh——Tom!

(Chalmers takes her hand sympathetically and protectingly.)

{Connie}

(Who is an exuberant young woman, bursts forth.) Oh, brother-in-law! Such excitement! That's what's the matter with mother. We ran into a go-cart. Our chauffeur was not to blame. It was the woman's fault. She tried to cross just as we were turning the corner. But we hardly grazed it. Fortunately the baby was not hurt—only spilled. It was ridiculous. (Catching sight of Hubbard.) Oh, there you are, Mr. Hubbard. How de do.

(Steps half way to meet him and shakes hands with him.) (Mrs. Starkweather looks around helplessly for a chair, and Chalmers conducts her to one soothingly.)

{Mrs. Starkweather}

Oh, it was terrible! The little child might have been killed. And such persons love their babies, I know.

{Connie}

(To Chalmers.) Has father come? We were to pick him up here. Where's Madge?

{Mrs. Starkweather}

(Espying Hubbard, faintly.) Oh, there is Mr. Hubbard.

(Hubbard comes to her and shakes hands.) I simply can't get used to these rapid ways of modern life. The motor-car is the invention of the devil. Everything is too quick. When I was a girl, we lived sedately, decorously. There was time for meditation and repose. But in this age there is time for nothing. How Anthony keeps his head is more than I can understand. But, then, Anthony is a wonderful man.

{Hubbard}

I am sure Mr. Starkweather never lost his head in his life.

{Chalmers}

Unless when he was courting you, mother.

{Mrs. Starkweather}

(A trifle grimly.) I'm not so sure about that.

{Connie}

(Imitating a grave, business-like enunciation.) Father probably conferred first with his associates, then turned the affair over for consideration by his corporation lawyers, and, when they reported no flaws, checked the first spare half hour in his notebook to ask mother if she would have him.

(They laugh.) And looked at his watch at least twice while he was proposing.

{Mrs. Starkweather}

Anthony was not so busy then as all that.

{Hubbard}

He hadn't yet taken up the job of running the United States.

{Mrs. Starkweather}

I'm sure I don't know what he is running, but he is a very busy man—business, politics, and madness; madness, politics, and business.

(She stops breathlessly and glances at tea-table.) Tea. I should like a cup of tea. Connie, I shall stay for a cup of tea, and then, if your father hasn't come, we'll go home. (To Chalmers.) Where is Tommy?

{Chalmers}

Out in the car with Madge.

(Glances at tea-table and consults watch.) She should be back now.

{Connie}

Mother, you mustn't stay long. I have to dress.

{Chalmers}

Oh, yes, that dinner.

(Yawns.) I wish I could loaf to-night.

{Connie}

(Explaining to Hubbard.) The Turkish Charge d'Affaires—I never can remember his name. But he's great fun—a positive joy. He's giving the dinner to the British Ambassador.

{Mrs. Starkweather}

(Starting forward in her chair and listening intently.) There's Tommy, now.

(Voices of Margaret Chalmers and of Tommy heard from without. Hers is laughingly protesting, while Tommy's is gleefully insistent.) (Margaret and Tommy appear and pause just outside door, holding each other's hands, facing each other, too immersed in each other to be aware of the presence of those inside the room. Margaret and Tommy are in street costume.)

{Tommy} (Laughing.)

But mama.

{Margaret}

(Herself laughing, but shaking her head.) No. Tommy First—

{Margaret}

No; you must run along to Linda, now, mother's boy. And we'll talk about that some other time.

(Tommy notices for the first time that there are persons in the room. He peeps in around the door and espies Mrs. Starkweather. At the same moment, impulsively, he withdraws his hands and runs in to Mrs. Starkweather.)

{Tommy}

(Who is evidently fond of his grandmother.) Grandma!

(They embrace and make much of each other.)

(Margaret enters, appropriately greeting the others—a kiss (maybe) to Connie, and a slightly cold handshake to Hubbard.)

{Margaret}

(To Chalmers.) Now that you're here, Tom, you mustn't run away.

(Greets Mrs. Starkweather.)

{Mrs. Starkweather}

(Turning Tommy's face to the light and looking at it anxiously.) A trifle thin, Margaret.

{Margaret}

On the contrary, mother——

{Mrs. Starkweather}

(To Chalmers.) Don't you think so, Tom?

{Connie}

(Aside to Hubbard.) Mother continually worries about his health.

{Hubbard}

A sturdy youngster, I should say.

{Tommy}

(To Chalmers.) I'm an Indian, aren't I, daddy?

{Chalmers}

(Nodding his head emphatically.) And the stoutest-hearted in the tribe.

(Linda appears in doorway, evidently looking for Tommy, and Chalmers notices her.) There's Linda looking for you, young stout heart.

{Margaret}

Take Tommy, Linda. Run along, mother's boy.

{Tommy}

Come along, grandma. I want to show you something.

(He catches Mrs. Starkweather by the hand. Protesting, but highly pleased, she allows him to lead her to the door, where he extends his other hand to Linda. Thus, pausing in doorway, leading a woman by either hand, he looks back at Margaret.) (Roguishly.) Remember, mama, we're going to scout in a little while.

{Margaret}

(Going to Tommy, and bending down with her arms around him.) No, Tommy. Mama has to go to that horrid dinner to-night. But to-morrow we'll play.

(Tommy is cast down and looks as if he might pout.) Where is my little Indian now?

{Hubbard}

Be an Indian, Tommy.

{Tommy}

(Brightening up.)

All right, mama. To-morrow.——if you can't find time to-day.

(Margaret kisses him.) (Exit Tommy, Mrs. Starkweather, and Linda, Tommy leading them by a hand in each of theirs.)

{Chalmers}

(Nodding to Hubbard, in low voice to Hubbard and starting to make exit to right.) That high-ball.

(Hubbard disengages himself from proximity of Connie, and starts to follow.)

{Connie}

(Reproachfully.) If you run away, I won't stop for tea.

{Margaret}

Do stop, Tom. Father will be here in a few minutes.

{Connie}

A regular family party.

{Chalmers}

All right. We'll be back. We're just going to have a little talk.

(Chalmers and Hubbard make exit to right.) (Margaret puts her arm impulsively around Connie—a sheerly spontaneous act of affection—kisses her, and at same time evinces preparation to leave.)

{Margaret}

I've got to get my things off. Won't you wait here, dear, in case anybody comes? It's nearly time.

(Starts toward exit to rear, but is stopped by Connie.) Madge.

(Margaret immediately pauses and waits expectantly, smiling, while Connie is hesitant.)

I want to speak to you about something, Madge. You don't mind?

(Margaret, still smiling, shakes her head.) Just a warning. Not that anybody could believe for a moment, there is anything wrong, but——

{Margaret}

(Dispelling a shadow of irritation that has crossed her face.)

If it concerns Tom, don't tell me, please. You know he does do ridiculous things at times. But I don't let him worry me any more; so don't worry me about him.

(Connie remains silent, and Margaret grows curious.) Well?

{Connie}

It's not about Tom—

(Pauses.) It's about you.

{Margaret}

Oh.

{Connie}

I don't know how to begin.

{Margaret}

By coming right out with it, the worst of it, all at once, first.

{Connie}

It isn't serious at all, but—well, mother is worrying about it. You know how old-fashioned she is. And when you consider our position—father's and Tom's, I mean—it doesn't seem just right for you to be seeing so much of such an enemy of theirs. He has abused them dreadfully, you know. And there's that dreadful speech he is going to give to-morrow. You haven't seen the afternoon papers. He has made the most terrible charges against everybody—all of us, our friends, everybody.

{Margaret}

You mean Mr. Knox, of course. But he wouldn't harm anybody, Connie, dear.

{Connie}

(Bridling,) Oh, he wouldn't? He as good as publicly called father a thief.

{Margaret}

When did that happen? I never heard of it.

{Connie}

Well, he said that the money magnates had grown so unprincipled, sunk so low, that they would steal a mouse from a blind kitten.

{Margaret}

I don't see what father has to do with that.

{Connie}

He meant him just the same.

{Margaret}

You silly goose. He couldn't have meant father. Father? Why, father wouldn't look at anything less than fifty or a hundred millions.

{Connie}

And you speak to him and make much of him when you meet him places. You talked with him for half an hour at that Dugdale reception. You have him here in your own house—Tom's house—when he's such a bitter enemy of Tom's. (During the foregoing speech, Anthony Starkweather makes entrance from rear. His face is grave, and he is in a brown study, as if pondering weighty problems. At sight of the two women he pauses and surveys them. They are unaware of his presence.)

{Margaret}

You are wrong, Connie. He is nobody's enemy. He is the truest, cleanest, most right-seeking man I have ever seen.

{Connie}

(Interrupting.) He is a trouble-maker, a disturber of the public peace, a shallow-pated demagogue—

{Margaret}

(Reprovingly.)

Now you're quoting somebody—— father, I suppose. To think of him being so abused—poor, dear Ali Baba—

{Starkweather}

(Clearing his throat in advertisement of his presence.) A-hem.

(Margaret and Connie turn around abruptly and discover him.)

{Margaret}

And Connie Father!

(Both come forward to greet him, Margaret leading.)

{Starkweather}

(Anticipating, showing the deliberate method of the busy man saving time by eliminating the superfluous.) Fine, thank you. Quite well in every particular. This Ali Baba? Who is Ali Baba?

(Margaret looks amused reproach at Connie.)

{Connie}

Mr. Howard Knox.

{Starkweather}

And why is he called Ali Baba?

{Margaret}

That is my nickname for him. In the den of thieves, you know. You remember your Arabian Nights.

{Starkweather}

(Severely.) I have been wanting to speak to you for some time, Margaret, about that man. You know that I have never interfered with your way of life since your marriage, nor with your and Tom's housekeeping arrangements. But this man Knox. I understand that you have even had him here in your house—

{Margaret}

(Interrupting.) He is very liable to be here this afternoon, any time, now.

(Connie displays irritation at Margaret.)

{Starkweather}

(Continuing imperturbably.) Your house—you, my daughter, and the wife of Senator Chalmers. As I said, I have not interfered with you since your marriage. But this Knox affair transcends household arrangements. It is of political importance. The man is an enemy to our class, a firebrand. Why do you have him here?

{Margaret}

Because I like him. Because he is a man I am proud to call "friend." Because I wish there were more men like him, many more men like him, in the world. Because I have ever seen in him nothing but the best and highest. And, besides, it's such good fun to see how one virtuous man can so disconcert you captains of industry and arbiters of destiny. Confess that you are very much disconcerted, father, right now. He will be here in a few minutes, and you will be more disconcerted. Why? Because it is an affair that transcends family arrangements. And it is your affair, not mine.

{Starkweather}

This man Knox is a dangerous character—one that I am not pleased to see any of my family take up with. He is not a gentleman.

{Margaret}

He is a self-made man, if that is what you mean, and he certainly hasn't any money.

{Connie}

(Interrupting.) He says that money is theft—at least when it is in the hands of a wealthy person.

{Starkweather}

He is uncouth—ignorant.

{Margaret}

I happen to know that he is a graduate of the University of Oregon.

{Starkweather}

(Sneeringly.) A cow college. But that is not what I mean. He is a demagogue, stirring up the wild-beast passions of the people.

{Margaret}

Surely you would not call his advocacy of that child labor bill and of the conservation of the forest and coal lands stirring up the wild-beast passions of the people?

{Starkweather}

(Wearily.) You don't understand. When I say he is dangerous it is because he threatens all the stabilities, because he threatens us who have made this country and upon whom this country and its prosperity rest.

(Connie, scenting trouble, walks across stage away from them.)

{Margaret}

The captains of industry—the banking magnates and the mergers?

{Starkweather}

Call it so. Call it what you will. Without us the country falls into the hands of scoundrels like that man Knox and smashes to ruin.

{Margaret}

(Reprovingly.) Not a scoundrel, father.

{Starkweather}

He is a sentimental dreamer, a hair-brained enthusiast. It is the foolish utterances of men like him that place the bomb and the knife in the hand of the assassin.

{Margaret}

He is at least a good man, even if he does disagree with you on political and industrial problems. And heaven knows that good men are rare enough these days.

{Starkweather}

I impugn neither his morality nor his motives—only his rationality. Really, Margaret, there is nothing inherently vicious about him. I grant that. And it is precisely that which makes him such a power for evil.

{Margaret}

When I think of all the misery and pain which he is trying to remedy—I can see in him only a power for good. He is not working for himself but for the many. That is why he has no money. You have heaven alone knows how many millions—you don't; you have worked for yourself.

{Starkweather}

I, too, work for the many. I give work to the many. I make life possible for the many. I am only too keenly alive to the responsibilities of my stewardship of wealth.

{Margaret}

But what of the child laborers working at the machines? Is that necessary, O steward of wealth? How my heart has ached for them! How I have longed to do something for them—to change conditions so that it will no longer be necessary for the children to toil, to have the playtime of childhood stolen away from them. Theft—that is what it is, the playtime of the children coined into profits. That is why I like Howard Knox. He calls theft theft. He is trying to do something for those children. What are you trying to do for them?

{Starkweather}

Sentiment. Sentiment. The question is too vast and complicated, and you cannot understand. No woman can understand. That is why you run to sentiment. That is what is the matter with this Knox—sentiment. You can't run a government of ninety millions of people on sentiment, nor on abstract ideas of justice and right.

{Margaret}

But if you eliminate justice and right, what remains?

{Starkweather}

This is a practical world, and it must be managed by practical men—by thinkers, not by near-thinkers whose heads are addled with the half-digested ideas of the French Encyclopedists and Revolutionists of a century and a half ago.

(Margaret shows signs of impatience—she is not particularly perturbed by this passage-at-arms with her father, and is anxious to get off her street things.)

Don't forget, my daughter, that your father knows the books as well as any cow college graduate from Oregon. I, too, in my student days, dabbled in theories of universal happiness and righteousness, saw my vision and dreamed my dream. I did not know then the weakness, and frailty, and grossness of the human clay. But I grew out of that and into a man. Some men never grow out of that stage. That is what is the trouble with Knox. He is still a dreamer, and a dangerous one.

(He pauses a moment, and then his thin lips shut grimly. But he has just about shot his bolt.)

{Margaret}

What do you mean?

{Starkweather}

He has let himself in to give a speech to-morrow, wherein he will be called upon to deliver the proofs of all the lurid charges he has made against the Administration—against us, the stewards of wealth if you please. He will be unable to deliver the proofs, and the nation will laugh. And that will be the political end of Mr. Ali Baba and his dream.

{Margaret}

It is a beautiful dream. Were there more like him the dream would come true. After all, it is the dreamers that build and that never die. Perhaps you will find that he is not so easily to be destroyed. But I can't stay and argue with you, father. I simply must go and get my things off.

(To Connie.) You'll have to receive, dear. I'll be right back.

(Julius Rutland enters. Margaret advances to meet him, shaking his hand.) You must forgive me for deserting for a moment.

{Rutland}

(Greeting the others.) A family council, I see.

{Margaret}

(On way to exit at rear.) No; a discussion on dreams and dreamers. I leave you to bear my part.

{Rutland}

(Bowing.) With pleasure. The dreamers are the true architects. But—a—what is the dream and who is the dreamer?

{Margaret}

(Pausing in the doorway.) The dream of social justice, of fair play and a square deal to everybody. The dreamer—Mr. Knox.

(Rutland is so patently irritated, that Margaret lingers in the doorway to enjoy.)

{Rutland}

That man! He has insulted and reviled the Church—my calling. He—

{Connie}

(Interrupting.) He said the churchmen stole from God. I remember he once said there had been only one true Christian and that He died on the Cross.

{Margaret}

He quoted that from Nietzsche.

{Starkweather}

(To Rutland, in quiet glee.) He had you there.

{Rutland}

(In composed fury.) Nietzsche is a blasphemer, sir. Any man who reads Nietzsche or quotes Nietzsche is a blasphemer. It augurs ill for the future of America when such pernicious literature has the vogue it has.

{Margaret}

(Interrupting, laughing.) I leave the quarrel in your hands, sir knight. Remember—the dreamer and the dream. (Margaret makes exit.)

{Rutland}

(Shaking his head.) I cannot understand what is coming over the present generation. Take your daughter, for instance. Ten years ago she was an earnest, sincere lieutenant of mine in all our little charities.

{Starkweather}

Has she given charity up?

{Connie}

It's settlement work, now, and kindergartens.

{Rutland}

(Ominously.) It's writers like Nietzsche, and men who read him, like Knox, who are responsible.

(Senator Dowsett and Mrs. Dowsett enter from rear.)

(Connie advances to greet them. Rutland knows Mrs. Dowsett, and Connie introduces him to Senator Dowsett.)

(In the meantime, not bothering to greet anybody, evincing his own will and way, Starkweather goes across to right front, selects one of several chairs, seats himself, pulls a thin note-book from inside coat pocket, and proceeds to immerse himself in contents of same.) (Dowsett and Rutland pair and stroll to left rear and seat themselves, while Connie and Mrs. Dowsett seat themselves at tea-table to left front. Connie rings the bell for Servant.)

{Mrs. Dowsett}

(Glancing significantly at Starkweather, and speaking in a low voice.) That's your father, isn't it? I have so wanted to meet him.

{Connie} (Softly.) You know he's peculiar. He is liable to ignore everybody here this afternoon, and get up and go away abruptly, without saying good-bye.

{Mrs. Dowsett}

(Sympathetically. ) Yes, I know, a man of such large affairs. He must have so much on his mind. He is a wonderful man—my husband says the greatest in contemporary history—more powerful than a dozen presidents, the King of England, and the Kaiser, all rolled into one.

(Servant enters with tea urn and accessories, and Connie proceeds to serve tea, all accompanied by appropriate patter—"Two lumps?" "One, please." "Lemon;" etc.)

(Rutland and Dowsett come forward to table for their tea, where they remain.)

(Connie, glancing apprehensively across at her father and debating a moment, prepares a cup for him and a small plate with crackers, and hands them to Dowsett, who likewise betrays apprehensiveness.)

{Connie}

Take it to father, please, senator.

(Note:—Throughout the rest of this act, Starkweather is like a being apart, a king sitting on his throne. He divides the tea function with Margaret. Men come up to him and speak with him. He sends for men. They come and go at his bidding. The whole attitude, perhaps unconsciously on his part, is that wherever he may be he is master. This attitude is accepted by all the others; forsooth, he is indeed a great man and master. The only one who is not really afraid of him is Margaret; yet she gives in to him in so far as she lets him do as he pleases at her afternoon tea.) (Dowsett carries the cup of tea and small plate across stage to Starkweather. Starkweather does not notice him at first.)

{Connie}

(Who has been watching.) Tea, father, won't you have a cup of tea?

(Through the following scene between Starkweather and Dowsett, the latter holds cup of tea and crackers, helplessly, at a disadvantage. At the same time Rutland is served with tea and remains at the table, talking with the two women.)

{Starkweather}

(Looking first at Connie, then peering into cup of tea. He grunts refusal, and for the first time looks up into the other man's face. He immediately closes note-book down on finger to keep the place.) Oh, it's you. Dowsett.

(Painfully endeavoring to be at ease.) A pleasure, Mr. Starkweather, an entirely unexpected pleasure to meet you here. I was not aware you frequented frivolous gatherings of this nature.

{Starkweather}

(Abruptly and peremptorily.) Why didn't you come when you were sent for this morning?

{Dowsett}

I was sick—I was in bed.

{Starkweather}

That is no excuse, sir. When you are sent for you are to come. Understand? That bill was reported back. Why was it reported back? You told Dobleman you would attend to it.

{Dowsett}

It was a slip up. Such things will happen.

{Starkweather}

What was the matter with that committee? Have you no influence with the Senate crowd? If not, say so, and I'll get some one who has.

{Dowsett}

(Angrily.) I refuse to be treated in this manner, Mr. Starkweather. I have some self-respect—

(Starkweather grunts incredulously.) Some decency—

(Starkweather grunts.) A position of prominence in my state. You forget, sir, that in our state organization I occupy no mean place.

{Starkweather}

(Cutting him off so sharply that Dowsett drops cup and saucer.) Don't you show your teeth to me. I can make you or break you. That state organization of yours belongs to me.

(Dowsett starts—he is learning something new. To hide his feelings, he stoops to pick up cup and saucer.) Let it alone! I am talking to you.

(Dowsett straightens up to attention with alacrity.) (Connie, who has witnessed, rings for Servant.) I bought that state organization, and paid for it. You are one of the chattels that came along with the machine. You were made senator to obey my orders. Understand? Do you understand?

{Dowsett}

(Beaten.) I—I understand.

{Starkweather}

That bill is to be killed.

{Dowsett}

Yes, sir.

{Starkweather}

Quietly, no headlines about it.

(Dowsett nods.) Now you can go.

(Dowsett proceeds rather limply across to join group at tea-table.) (Chalmers and Hubbard enter from right, laughing about something. At sight of Starkweather they immediately become sober.) (No hands are shaken. Starkweather barely acknowledges Hubbard's greeting.)

{Starkweather}

Tom, I want to see you.

(Hubbard takes his cue, and proceeds across to tea-table.)

(Enter Servant. Connie directs him to remove broken cup and saucer. While this is being done, Starkweather remains silent. He consults note-book, and Chalmers stands, not quite at ease, waiting the other's will. At the same time, patter at tea-table. Hubbard, greeting others and accepting or declining cup of tea.)

(Servant makes exit).

{Starkweather}

(Closing finger on book and looking sharply at Chalmers.) Tom, this affair of yours in New York must come to an end. Understand?

{Chalmers}

(Starting.) Hubbard has been talking.

{Starkweather}

No, it is not Hubbard. I have the reports from other sources.

{Chalmers}

It is a harmless affair.

{Starkweather}

I happen to know better. I have the whole record. If you wish, I can give you every detail, every meeting. I know. There is no discussion whatever. I want no more of it.

{Chalmers}

I never dreamed for a moment that I was—er—indiscreet.

{Starkweather}

Never forget that every indiscretion of a man in your position is indiscreet. We have a duty, a great and solemn duty to perform. Upon our shoulders rest the destinies of ninety million people. If we fail in our duty, they go down to destruction. Ignorant demagogues are working on the beast-passions of the people. If they have their way, they are lost, the country is lost, civilization is lost. We want no more Dark Ages.

{Chalmers}

Really, I never thought it was as serious as all that.

{Starkweather}

(Shrugging shoulders and lifting eyebrows.) After all, why should you? You are only a cog in the machine. I, and the several men grouped with me, am the machine. You are a useful cog—too useful to lose—

{Chalmers}

Lose?—Me?

{Starkweather}

I have but to raise my hand, any time—do you understand?—any time, and you are lost. You control your state. Very well. But never forget that to-morrow, if I wished, I could buy your whole machine out from under you. I know you cannot change yourself, but, for the sake of the big issues at stake, you must be careful, exceedingly careful. We are compelled to work with weak tools. You are a good liver, a flesh-pot man. You drink too much. Your heart is weak.—Oh, I have the report of your doctor. Nevertheless, don't make a fool of yourself, nor of us. Besides, do not forget that your wife is my daughter. She is a strong woman, a credit to both of us. Be careful that you are not a discredit to her.

{Chalmers}

All right, I'll be careful. But while we are—er—on this subject, there's something I'd like to speak to you about.

(A pause, in which Starkweather waits non-committally.) It's this man Knox, and Madge. He comes to the house. They are as thick as thieves.

{Starkweather}

Yes?

{Chalmers}

(Hastily.) Oh, not a breath of suspicion or anything of that sort, I assure you. But it doesn't strike me as exactly appropriate that your daughter and my wife should be friendly with this fire-eating anarchist who is always attacking us and all that we represent.

{Starkweather}

I started to speak with her on that subject, but was interrupted.

(Puckers brow and thinks.) You are her husband. Why don't you take her in hand yourself?

(Enters Mrs. Starkweather from rear, looking about, bowing, then locating Starkweather and proceeding toward him.)

{Chalmers}

What can I do? She has a will of her own—the same sort of a will that you have. Besides, I think she knows about my—about some of my—indiscretions.

{Starkweather}

(Slyly.)

Harmless indiscretions?

(Chalmers is about to reply, but observes Mrs. Starkweather approaching.)

{Mrs. Starkweather}

(Speaks in a peevish, complaining voice, and during her harrangue Starkweather immerses himself in notebook.) Oh, there you are, Anthony. Talking politics, I suppose. Well, as soon as I get a cup of tea we must go. Tommy is not looking as well as I could wish. Margaret loves him, but she does not take the right care of him. I don't know what the world is coming to when mothers do not know how to rear their offspring. There is Margaret, with her slum kindergartens, taking care of everybody else's children but her own. If she only performed her church duties as eagerly! Mr. Rutland is displeased with her. I shall give her a talking to—only, you'd better do it, Anthony. Somehow, I have never counted much with Margaret. She is as set in doing what she pleases as you are. In my time children paid respect to their parents. This is what comes of speed. There is no time for anything. And now I must get my tea and run. Connie has to dress for that dinner.

(Mrs. Starkweather crosses to table, greets others characteristically and is served with tea by Connie.)

(Chalmers waits respectfully on Starkweather.)

{Starkweather}

(Looking up from note-book.) That will do, Tom.

(Chalmers is just starting across to join others, when voices are heard outside rear entrance, and Margaret enters with Dolores Ortega, wife of the Peruvian Minister, and Matsu Sakari, Secretary of Japanese Legation—both of whom she has met as they were entering the house.)

(Chalmers changes his course, and meets the above advancing group. He knows Dolores Ortega, whom he greets, and is introduced to Sakari.)

(Margaret passes on among guests, greeting them, etc. Then she displaces Connie at tea-table and proceeds to dispense tea to the newcomers.)

(Groups slowly form and seat themselves about stage as follows: Chalmers and Dolores Ortega; Rutland, Dowsett, Mrs. Starkweather; Connie, Mr. Dowsett, and Hubbard.)

(Chalmers carries tea to Dolores Ortega.)

(Sakari has been lingering by table, waiting for tea and pattering with Margaret, Chalmers, etc.)

{Margaret}

(Handing cup to Sakari.) I am very timid in offering you this, for I am sure you must be appalled by our barbarous methods of making tea.

{Sakari}

(Bowing.) It is true, your American tea, and the tea of the English, are quite radically different from the tea in my country. But one learns, you know. I served my apprenticeship to American tea long years ago, when I was at Yale. It was perplexing, I assure you—at first, only at first I really believe that I am beginning to have a—how shall I call it?—a tolerance for tea in your fashion.

{Margaret}

You are very kind in overlooking our shortcomings.

{Sakari}

(Bowing.) On the contrary, I am unaware, always unaware, of any shortcomings of this marvelous country of yours.

{Margaret}

(Laughing.) You are incorrigibly gracious, Mr. Sakari. (Knox appears at threshold of rear entrance and pauses irresolutely for a moment)

{Sakari}

(Noticing Knox, and looking about him to select which group he will join.) If I may be allowed, I shall now retire and consume this—tea.

(Joins group composed of Connie, Mrs. Dowsett, and Hubbard.)

(Knox comes forward to Margaret, betraying a certain awkwardness due to lack of experience in such social functions. He greets Margaret and those in the group nearest her.)

{Knox}

(To Margaret.) I don't know why I come here. I do not belong. All the ways are strange.

{Margaret}

(Lightly, at the same time preparing his tea.) The same Ali Baba—once again in the den of the forty thieves. But your watch and pocket-book are safe here, really they are.

(Knox makes a gesture of dissent at her facetiousness.) Now don't be serious. You should relax sometimes. You live too tensely.

(Looking at Starkweather.) There's the arch-anarch over there, the dragon you are trying to slay.

(Knox looks at Starkweather and is plainly perplexed.) The man who handles all the life insurance funds, who controls more strings of banks and trust companies than all the Rothschilds a hundred times over—the merger of iron and steel and coal and shipping and all the other things—the man who blocks your child labor bill and all the rest of the remedial legislation you advocate. In short, my father.

{Knox}

(Looking intently at Starkweather.) I should have recognized him from his photographs. But why do you say such things?

{Margaret}

Because they are true.

(He remains silent.) Now, aren't they? (She laughs.) Oh, you don't need to answer. You know the truth, the whole bitter truth. This is a den of thieves. There is Mr. Hubbard over there, for instance, the trusty journalist lieutenant of the corporations.

{Knox}

(With an expression of disgust.) I know him. It was he that wrote the Standard Oil side of the story, after having abused Standard Oil for years in the pseudo-muck-raking magazines. He made them come up to his price, that was all. He's the star writer on Cartwright's, now, since that magazine changed its policy and became subsidizedly reactionary. I know him—a thoroughly dishonest man. Truly am I Ali Baba, and truly I wonder why I am here.

{Margaret}

You are here, sir, because I like you to come.

{Knox}

We do have much in common, you and I.

{Margaret}

The future.

{Knox}

(Gravely, looking at her with shining eyes.) I sometimes fear for more immediate reasons than that.

(Margaret looks at him in alarm, and at the same time betrays pleasure in what he has said.) For you.

{Margaret}

(Hastily.) Don't look at me that way. Your eyes are flashing. Some one might see and misunderstand.

{Knox}

(In confusion, awkwardly.) I was unaware that I—that I was looking at you——in any way that——

{Margaret}

I'll tell you why you are here. Because I sent for you.

{Knox}

(With signs of ardor.) I would come whenever you sent for me, and go wherever you might send me.

{Margaret}

(Reprovingly.)

Please, please—— It was about that speech. I have been hearing about it from everybody—rumblings and mutterings and dire prophecies. I know how busy you are, and I ought not to have asked you to come. But there was no other way, and I was so anxious.

{Knox}

(Pleased.) It seems so strange that you, being what you are, affiliated as you are, should be interested in the welfare of the common people.

{Margaret}

(Judicially.) I do seem like a traitor in my own camp. But as father said a while ago, I, too, have dreamed my dream. I did it as a girl—Plato's Republic, Moore's Utopia—I was steeped in all the dreams of the social dreamers.

(During all that follows of her speech, Knox is keenly interested, his eyes glisten and he hangs on her words.)

And I dreamed that I, too, might do something to bring on the era of universal justice and fair play. In my heart I dedicated myself to the cause of humanity. I made Lincoln my hero-he still is. But I was only a girl, and where was I to find this cause?—how to work for it? I was shut in by a thousand restrictions, hedged in by a thousand conventions. Everybody laughed at me when I expressed the thoughts that burned in me. What could I do? I was only a woman. I had neither vote nor right of utterance. I must remain silent. I must do nothing. Men, in their lordly wisdom, did all. They voted, orated, governed. The place for women was in the home, taking care of some lordly man who did all these lordly things.

{Knox}

You understand, then, why I am for equal suffrage.

{Margaret}

But I learned—or thought I learned. Power, I discovered early. My father had power. He was a magnate—I believe that is the correct phrase. Power was what I needed. But how? I was a woman. Again I dreamed my dream—a modified dream. Only by marriage could I win to power. And there you have the clew to me and what I am and have become. I met the man who was to become my husband. He was clean and strong and an athlete, an outdoor man, a wealthy man and a rising politician. Father told me that if I married him he would make him the power of his state, make him governor, send him to the United States Senate. And there you have it all.

{Knox}

Yes?—— Yes?

{Margaret}

I married. I found that there were greater forces at work than I had ever dreamed of. They took my husband away from me and molded him into the political lieutenant of my father. And I was without power. I could do nothing for the cause. I was beaten. Then it was that I got a new vision. The future belonged to the children. There I could play my woman's part. I was a mother. Very well. I could do no better than to bring into the world a healthy son and bring him up to manhood healthy and wholesome, clean, noble, and alive. Did I do my part well, through him the results would be achieved. Through him would the work of the world be done in making the world healthier and happier for all the human creatures in it. I played the mother's part. That is why I left the pitiful little charities of the church and devoted myself to settlement work and tenement house reform, established my kindergartens, and worked for the little men and women who come so blindly and to whom the future belongs to make or mar.

{Knox}

You are magnificent. I know, now, why I come when you bid me come.

{Margaret}

And then you came. You were magnificent. You were my knight of the windmills, tilting against all power and privilege, striving to wrest the future from the future and realize it here in the present, now. I was sure you would be destroyed. Yet you are still here and fighting valiantly. And that speech of yours to-morrow—

{Chalmers}

(Who has approached, bearing Dolores Ortega's cup.) Yes, that speech. How do you do, Mr. Knox.

(They shake hands.) A cup of tea, Madge. For Mrs. Ortega. Two lumps, please.

(Margaret prepares the cup of tea.) Everybody is excited over that speech. You are going to give us particular fits, to-morrow, I understand.

{Knox}

(Smiling.) Really, no more than is deserved.

{Chalmers}

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

{Knox}

Precisely.

(Receiving back cup of tea from Margaret.)

{Chalmers}

Believe me, we are not so black as we're painted. There are two sides to this question. Like you, we do our best to do what is right. And we hope, we still hope, to win you over to our side.

(Knox shakes his head with a quiet smile.)

{Margaret}

Oh, Tom, be truthful. You don't hope anything of the sort. You know you are hoping to destroy him.

{Chalmers}

(Smiling grimly.) That is what usually happens to those who are not won over.

(Preparing to depart with cup of tea; speaking to Knox.) You might accomplish much good, were you with us. Against us you accomplish nothing, absolutely nothing.

(Returns to Dolores Ortega.)

{Margaret}

(Hurriedly.) You see. That is why I was anxious—why I sent for you. Even Tom admits that they who are not won over are destroyed. This speech is a crucial event. You know how rigidly they rule the House and gag men like you. It is they, and they alone, who have given you opportunity for this speech? Why?—Why?

{Knox}

(Smiling confidently.) I know their little scheme. They have heard my charges. They think I am going to make a firebrand speech, and they are ready to catch me without the proofs. They are ready in every way for me. They are going to laugh me down. The Associated Press, the Washington correspondents—all are ready to manufacture, in every newspaper in the land, the great laugh that will destroy me. But I am fully prepared, I have—

{Margaret}

The proofs?

{Knox}

Yes.

{Margaret}

Now?

{Knox}

They will be delivered to me to-night—original documents, photographs of documents, affidavits—

{Margaret}

Tell me nothing. But oh, do be careful! Be careful!

{Mrs. Dowsett}

(Appealing to Margaret.) Do give me some assistance, Mrs. Chalmers.

(Indicating Sakari.) Mr. Sakari is trying to make me ridiculous.

{Margaret}

Impossible.

{Mrs. Dowsett}

But he is. He has had the effrontery—

{Chalmers}

(Mimicking Mrs. Dowsett.) Effrontery!—O, Sakari!

{Sakari}

The dear lady is pleased to be facetious.

{Mrs. Dowsett}

He has had the effrontery to ask me to explain the cause of high prices. Mr. Dowsett says the reason is that the people are living so high.

{Sakari}

Such a marvelous country. They are poor because they have so much to spend.

{Chalmers}

Are not high prices due to the increased output of gold?

{Mrs. Dowsett}

Mr. Sakari suggested that himself, and when I agreed with him he proceeded to demolish it. He has treated me dreadfully.

{Rutland}

(Clearing his throat and expressing himself with ponderous unction.) You will find the solution in the drink traffic. It is liquor, alcohol, that is undermining our industry, our institutions, our faith in God—everything. Yearly the working people drink greater quantities of alcohol. Naturally, through resulting inefficiency, the cost of production is higher, and therefore prices are higher.

{Dowsett}

Partly so, partly so. And in line with it, and in addition to it, prices are high because the working class is no longer thrifty. If our working class saved as the French peasant does, we would sell more in the world market and have better times.

{Sakari} (Bowing.) As I understand it then, the more thrifty you are the more you save, and the more you save the more you have to sell, the more you sell, the better the times?

{Dowsett}

Exactly so. Exactly.

{Sakari}

The less you sell, the harder are the times?

{Dowsett}

Just so.

{Sakari}

Then if the people are thrifty, and buy less, times will be harder?

{Dowsett}

(Perplexed.) Er—it would seem so.

{Sakari}

Then it would seem that the present bad times are due to the fact that the people are thrifty, rather than not thrifty?

(Dowsett is nonplussed, and Mrs. Dowsett throws up her hands in despair.)

{Mrs. Dowsett}

(Turning to Knox.) Perhaps you can explain to us, Mr. Knox, the reason for this terrible condition of affairs.

(Starkweather closes note-book on finger and listens.) (Knox smiles, but does not speak.)

{Dolores Ortega}

Please do, Mr. Knox. I am so dreadfully anxious to know why living is so high now. Only this morning I understand meat went up again.

(Knox hesitates and looks questioningly at Margaret.)

{Hubbard}

I am sure Mr. Knox can shed new light on this perplexing problem.

{Chalmers}

Surely you, the whirlwind of oratorical swords in the House, are not timid here—among friends.

{Knox} (Sparring.) I had no idea that questions of such nature were topics of conversation at affairs like this.

{Starkweather}

(Abruptly and imperatively.) What causes the high prices?

{Knox}

(Equally abrupt and just as positive as the other was imperative.) Theft!

(It is a sort of a bombshell he has exploded, but they receive it politely and smilingly, even though it has shaken them up.)

{Dolores Ortega}

What a romantic explanation. I suppose everybody who has anything has stolen it.

{Knox}

Not quite, but almost quite. Take motorcars, for example. This year five hundred million dollars has been spent for motor-cars. It required men toiling in the mines and foundries, women sewing their eyes out in sweat-shops, shop girls slaving for four and five dollars a week, little children working in the factories and cotton-mills—all these it required to produce those five hundred millions spent this year in motor-cars. And all this has been stolen from those who did the work.

{Mrs. Starkweather}

I always knew those motor-cars were to blame for terrible things.

{Dolores Ortega}

But Mr. Knox, I have a motor-car.

{Knox}

Somebody's labor made that car. Was it yours?

{Dolores Ortega}

Mercy, no! I bought it—— and paid for it.

{Knox}

Then did you labor at producing something else, and exchange the fruits of that labor for the motor-car?

(A pause.)

You do not answer. Then I am to understand that you have a motor-car which was made by somebody else's labor and for which you gave no labor of your own. This I call theft. You call it property. Yet it is theft.

{Starkweather}

(Interrupting Dolores Ortega who was just about to speak.)

But surely you have intelligence to see the question in larger ways than stolen motor-cars. I am a man of affairs. I don't steal motor-cars.

{Knox}

(Smiling.) Not concrete little motor-cars, no. You do things on a large scale.

{Starkweather}

Steal?

{Knox}

(Shrugging his shoulders.) If you will have it so.

{Starkweather}

I am like a certain gentleman from Missouri. You've got to show me.

{Knox}

And I'm like the man from Texas. It's got to be put in my hand.

{Starkweather}

I shift my residence at once to Texas. Put it in my hand that I steal on a large scale.

{Knox}

Very well. You are the great financier, merger, and magnate. Do you mind a few statistics?

{Starkweather}

Go ahead.

{Knox}

You exercise a controlling interest in nine billion dollars' worth of railways; in two billion dollars' worth of industrial concerns; in one billion dollars' worth of life insurance groups; in one billion dollars' worth of banking groups; in two billion dollars' worth of trust companies. Mind you, I do not say you own all this, but that you exercise a controlling interest. That is all that is necessary. In short, you exercise a controlling interest in such a proportion of the total investments of the United States, as to set the pace for all the rest. Now to my point. In the last few years seventy billions of dollars have been artificially added to the capitalization of the nation's industries. By that I mean water—pure, unadulterated water. You, the merger, know what water means. I say seventy billions. It doesn't matter if we call it forty billions or eighty billions; the amount, whatever it is, is a huge one. And what does seventy billions of water mean? It means, at five per cent, that three billions and a half must be paid for things this year, and every year, more than things are really worth. The people who labor have to pay this. There is theft for you. There is high prices for you. Who put in the water? Who gets the theft of the water? Have I put it in your hand?

{Starkweather}

Are there no wages for stewardship?

{Knox}

Call it any name you please.

{Starkweather}

Do I not make two dollars where one was before? Do I not make for more happiness than was before I came?

{Knox}

Is that any more than the duty any man owes to his fellowman?

{Starkweather}

Oh, you unpractical dreamer. (Returns to his note-book.)

{Rutland}

(Throwing himself into the breach.) Where do I steal, Mr. Knox?—I who get a mere salary for preaching the Lord's Word.

{Knox}

Your salary comes out of that water I mentioned. Do you want to know who pays your salary? Not your parishioners. But the little children toiling in the mills, and all the rest—all the slaves on the wheel of labor pay you your salary.

{Rutland} I earn it.

{Knox}

They pay it.

{Mrs. Dowsett}

Why, I declare, Mr. Knox, you are worse than Mr. Sakari. You are an anarchist.

(She simulates shivering with fear.)

{Chalmers}

(To Knox.) I suppose that's part of your speech to-morrow.

{Dolores Ortega}

(Clapping her hands.) A rehearsal! He's trying it out on us!

{Sakari}

How would you remedy this—er—this theft?

(Starkweather again closes note-book on finger and listens as Knox begins to speak.)

{Knox}

Very simply. By changing the governmental machinery by which this household of ninety millions of people conducts its affairs.

{Sakari}

I thought—I was taught so at Yale—that your governmental machinery was excellent, most excellent.

{Knox}

It is antiquated. It is ready for the scrap-heap. Instead of being our servant, it has mastered us. We are its slaves. All the political brood of grafters and hypocrites have run away with it, and with us as well. In short, from the municipalities up, we are dominated by the grafters. It is a reign of theft.

{Hubbard}

But any government is representative of its people. No people is worthy of a better government than it possesses. Were it worthier, it would possess a better government.

(Starkweather nods his head approvingly.)

{Knox}

That is a lie. And I say to you now that the average morality and desire for right conduct of the people of the United States is far higher than that of the government which misrepresents it. The people are essentially worthy of a better government than that which is at present in the hands of the politicians, for the benefit of the politicians and of the interests the politicians represent. I wonder, Mr. Sakari, if you have ever heard the story of the four aces.

{Sakari}

I cannot say that I have.

{Knox}

Do you understand the game of poker?

{Sakari}

(Considering.) Yes, a marvelous game. I have learned it—at Yale. It was very expensive.

{Knox}

Well, that story reminds me of our grafting politicians. They have no moral compunctions. They look upon theft as right—eminently right. They see nothing wrong in the arrangement that the man who deals the cards should give himself the best in the deck. Never mind what he deals himself, they'll have the deal next and make up for it.

{Dolores Ortega}

But the story, Mr. Knox. I, too, understand poker.

{Knox}

It occurred out in Nevada, in a mining camp. A tenderfoot was watching a game of poker, He stood behind the dealer, and he saw the dealer deal himself four aces from the bottom of the deck.

(From now on, he tells the story in the slow, slightly drawling Western fashion.) The tenderfoot went around to the player on the opposite side of the table.

"Say," he says, "I just seen the dealer give himself four aces off the bottom."

The player looked at him a moment, and said, "What of it?"

"Oh, nothing," said the tenderfoot, "only I thought you might want to know. I tell you I seen the dealer give himself four aces off the bottom."

"Look here, Mister," said the player, "you'd better get out of this. You don't understand the game. It's HIS deal, ain't it?"

{Margaret}

(Arising while they are laughing.) We've talked politics long enough. Dolores, I want you to tell me about your new car.

{Knox}

(As if suddenly recollecting himself.) And I must be going.

(In a low voice to Margaret.) Do I have to shake hands with all these people?

{Margaret}

(Shaking her head, speaking low.) Dear delightful Ali Baba.

{Knox}

(Glumly.) I suppose I've made a fool of myself.

{Margaret}

(Earnestly.) On the contrary, you were delightful. I am proud of you.

(As Knox shakes hands with Margaret, Sakari arises and comes forward).

{Sakari}

I, too, must go. I have had a charming half hour, Mrs. Chalmers. But I shall not attempt to thank you.

(He shakes hands with Margaret.)

(Knox and Sakari proceed to make exit to rear.)

(Just as they go out, Servant enters, carrying card-tray, and advances toward Starkweather.)

(Margaret joins Dolores Ortega and Chalmers, seats herself with them, and proceeds to talk motor-cars.)

(Servant has reached Starkweather, who has taken a telegram from tray, opened it, and is reading it.)

{Starkweather}

Damnation!

{Servant}

I beg your pardon, sir.

{Starkweather}

Send Senator Chalmers to me, and Mr. Hubbard.

{Servant}

Yes, sir.

(Servant crosses to Chalmers and Hubbard, both of whom immediately arise and cross to Starkweather.)

(While this is being done, Margaret reassembles the three broken groups into one, seating herself so that she can watch Starkweather and his group across the stage.)

(Servant lingers to receive a command from Margaret.)

(Chalmers and Hubbard wait a moment, standing, while Starkweather rereads telegram.)

{Starkweather}

(Standing up.) Dobleman has just forwarded this telegram. It's from New York—from Martinaw. There's been rottenness. My papers and letter-files have been ransacked. It's the confidential stenographer who has been tampered with—you remember that middle-aged, youngish-oldish woman, Tom? That's the one.—Where's that servant?

(Servant is just making exit.) Here! Come here!

(Servant comes over to Starkweather.) Go to the telephone and call up Dobleman. Tell him to come here.

{Servant}

(Perplexed.) I beg pardon, sir.

{Starkweather}

(Irritably.) My secretary. At my house. Dobleman. Tell him to come at once.

(Servant makes exit.)

{Chalmers}

But who can be the principal behind this theft?

(Starkweather shrugs his shoulders.)

{Hubbard}

A blackmailing device most probably. They will attempt to bleed you—

{Chalmers}

Unless—

{Starkweather}

(Impatiently.) Yes?

{Chalmers}

Unless they are to be used to-morrow in that speech of Knox.

(Comprehension dawns on the faces of the other two men.)

{Mrs. Starkweather}

(Who has arisen.) Anthony, we must go now. Are you ready? Connie has to dress.

{Starkweather}

I am not going now. You and Connie take the car.

{Mrs. Starkweather}

You mustn't forget you are going to that dinner.

{Starkweather}

(Wearily.) Do I ever forget?

(Servant enters and proceeds toward Starkweather, where he stands waiting while Mrs. Starkweather finishes the next speech. Starkweather listens to her with a patient, stony face.)

{Mrs. Starkweather}

Oh, these everlasting politics! That is what it has been all afternoon—high prices, graft, and theft; theft, graft, and high prices. It is terrible. When I was a girl we did not talk of such things. Well, come on, Connie.

{Mrs. Dowsett}

(Rising and glancing at Dowsett.) And we must be going, too.

(During the following scene, which takes place around Starkweather, Margaret is saying good-bye to her departing guests.)

(Mrs. Starkweather and Connie make exit.)

(Dowsett and Mrs. Dowsett make exit.)

(The instant Mrs. Dowsett's remark puts a complete end to Mrs. Starkweather's speech, Starkweather, without answer or noticing his wife, turns and interrogates Servant with a glance.)

{Servant}

Mr. Dobleman has already left some time to come here, sir.

{Starkweather}

Show him in as soon as he comes.

{Servant}

Yes, sir.

(Servant makes exit.)

(Margaret, Dolores Ortega, and Rutland are left in a group together, this time around tea-table, where Margaret serves Rutland another cup of tea. From time to time Margaret glances curiously at the serious group of men across the stage.)

(Starkweather is thinking hard with knitted brows. Hubbard is likewise pondering.)

{Chalmers}

If I were certain Knox had those papers I would take him by the throat and shake them out of him.

{Starkweather}

No foolish talk like that, Tom. This is a serious matter.

{Hubbard}

But Knox has no money. A Starkweather stenographer comes high.

{Starkweather}

There is more than Knox behind this. (Enter Dobleman, walking quickly and in a state of controlled excitement.)

{Dobleman}

(To Starkweather.) You received that telegram, sir?

(Starkweather nods.) I got the New York office—Martinaw—right along afterward, by long distance. I thought best to follow and tell you.

{Starkweather}

What did Martinaw say?

{Dobleman}

The files seem in perfect order.

{Starkweather}

Thank God!

(During the following speech of Dobleman, Rutland says good-bye to Margaret and Dolores Ortega and makes exit.)

(Margaret and Dolores Ortega rise a minute afterward and go toward exit, throwing curious glances at the men but not disturbing them.)

(Dolores Ortega makes exit.)

(Margaret pauses in doorway a moment, giving a final anxious glance at the men, and makes exit.)

{Dobleman}

But they are not. The stenographer, Miss Standish, has confessed. For a long time she has followed the practice of taking two or three letters and documents at a time away from the office. Many have been photographed and returned. But the more important ones were retained and clever copies returned. Martinaw says that Miss Standish herself does not know and cannot tell which of the ones she returned are genuine and which are copies.

{Hubbard}

Knox never did this.

{Starkweather}

Did Martinaw say whom Miss Standish was acting for?

{Dobleman}

Gherst.

(The alarm on the three men's faces is patent.)

{Starkweather}

Gherst!

(Pauses to think.)

{Hubbard}

Then it is not so grave after all. A yellow journal sensation is the best Gherst can make of it. And, documents or not, the very medium by which it is made public discredits it.

{Starkweather}

Trust Gherst for more ability than that. He will certainly exploit them in his newspapers, but not until after Knox has used them in his speech. Oh, the cunning dog! Never could he have chosen a better mode and moment to strike at me, at the Administration, at everything. That is Gherst all over. Playing to the gallery. Inducing Knox to make this spectacular exposure on the floor of the House just at the critical time when so many important bills are pending.

(To Dobleman.)

Did Martinaw give you any idea of the nature of the stolen documents?

{Dobleman}

(Referring to notes he has brought.) Of course I don't know anything about it, but he spoke of the Goodyear letters—

(Starkweather betrays by his face the gravity of the information.)

the Caledonian letters, all the Black Rider correspondence. He mentioned, too, (Referring to notes.) the Astonbury and Glutz letters. And there were others, many others, not designated.

{Starkweather}

This is terrible!

(Recollecting himself.)

Thank you, Dobleman. Will you please return to the house at once. Get New York again, and fullest details. I'll follow you shortly. Have you a machine?

{Dobleman}

A taxi, sir.

{Starkweather}

All right, and be careful.

(Dobleman makes exit)

{Chalmers}

I don't know the import of all these letters, but I can guess, and it does seem serious.

{Starkweather}

(Furiously.) Serious! Let me tell you that there has been no exposure like this in the history of the country. It means hundreds of millions of dollars. It means more—the loss of power. And still more, it means the mob, the great mass of the child-minded people rising up and destroying all that I have labored to do for them. Oh, the fools! The fools!

{Hubbard}

(Shaking his head ominously.) There is no telling what may happen if Knox makes that speech and delivers the proofs.

{Chalmers}

It is unfortunate. The people are restless and excited as it is. They are being constantly prodded on by the mouthings of the radical press, of the muck-raking magazines and of the demagogues. The people are like powder awaiting the spark.

{Starkweather}

This man Knox is no fool, if he is a dreamer. He is a shrewd knave. He is a fighter. He comes from the West—the old pioneer stock. His father drove an ox-team across the Plains to Oregon. He knows how to play his cards, and never could circumstances have placed more advantageous cards in his hands.

{Chalmers}

And nothing like this has ever touched you before.

{Starkweather}

I have always stood above the muck and ruck—clear and clean and unassailable. But this—this is too much! It is the spark. There is no forecasting what it may develop into.

{Chalmers}

A political turnover.

{Starkweather}

(Nodding savagely.) A new party, a party of demagogues, in power. Government ownership of the railways and telegraphs. A graduated income tax that will mean no less than the confiscation of private capital.

{Chalmers}

And all that mass of radical legislation—the Child Labor Bill, the new Employers' Liability Act, the government control of the Alaskan coal fields, that interference with Mexico. And that big power corporation you have worked so hard to form.

{Starkweather}

It must not be. It is an unthinkable calamity. It means that the very process of capitalistic development is hindered, stopped. It means a setback of ten years in the process. It means work, endless work, to overcome the setback. It means not alone the passage of all this radical legislation with the consequent disadvantages, but it means the fingers of the mob clutching at our grip of control. It means anarchy. It means ruin and misery for all the blind fools and led-cattle of the mass who will strike at the very sources of their own existence and comfort.

(Tommy enters from left, evidently playing a game, in the course of which he is running away. By his actions he shows that he is pursued. He intends to cross stage, but is stopped by sight of the men. Unobserved by them, he retraces his steps and crawls under the tea-table.)

{Chalmers}

Without doubt, Knox is in possession of the letters right now.

{Starkweather}

There is but one thing to do, and that is—get them back.

(He looks questioningly at the two men.)

(Margaret enters from left, in flushed and happy pursuit of Tommy—for it is a game she is playing with him. She startles at sight of the three men, whom she first sees as she gains the side of the tea-table, where she pauses abruptly, resting one hand on the table.)

{Hubbard}

I'll undertake it.

{Starkweather}

There is little time to waste. In twenty hours from now he will be on the floor making his speech. Try mild measures first. Offer him inducements—any inducement. I empower you to act for me. You will find he has a price.

{Hubbard}

And if not?

{Starkweather}

Then you must get them at any cost.

{Hubbard}

(Tentatively.) You mean—?

{Starkweather}

I mean just that. But no matter what happens, I must never be brought in. Do you understand?

{Hubbard}

Thoroughly.

{Margaret}

(Acting her part, and speaking with assumed gayety.) What are you three conspiring about? (All three men are startled.)

{Chalmers}

We are arranging to boost prices a little higher.

{Hubbard}

And so be able to accumulate more motorcars.

{Starkweather}

(Taking no notice of Margaret and starting toward exit to rear.) I must be going. Hubbard, you have your work cut out for you. Tom, I want you to come with me.

{Chalmers}

(As the three men move toward exit.) Home?

{Starkweather}

Yes, we have much to do.

{Chalmers}

Then I'll dress first and follow you.

(Turning to Margaret.) Pick me up on the way to that dinner.

(Margaret nods. Starkweather makes exit without speaking. Hub-bard says good-bye to Margaret and makes exit, followed by Chalmers.)

(Margaret remains standing, one hand resting on table, the other hand to her breast. She is thinking, establishing in her mind the connection between Knox and what she has overheard, and in process of reaching the conclusion that Knox is in danger.)

(Tommy, having vainly waited to be discovered, crawls out dispiritedly, and takes Margaret by the hand. She scarcely notices him.)

{Tommy} (Dolefully.) Don't you want to play any more? (Margaret does not reply). I was a good Indian.

{Margaret}

(Suddenly becoming aware of herself and breaking down. She stoops and clasps Tommy in her arms, crying out, in anxiety and fear, and from love of her boy.) Oh, Tommy! Tommy!

Curtain



ACT II

Scene. _Sitting room of Howard Knox—dimly lighted. Time, eight o'clock in the evening.

Entrance from hallway at side to right. At right rear is locked door leading to a room which dees not belong to Knox's suite. At rear center is fireplace. At left rear door leading to Knox's bedroom. At left are windows facing on street. Near these windows is a large library table littered with books, magazines, government reports, etc. To the right of center, midway forward, is a Hat-top desk. On it is a desk telephone. Behind it, so that one sitting in it faces audience, is revolving desk-chair. Also, on desk, are letters in their envelopes, etc. Against clear wall-spaces are bookcases and filing cabinets. Of special note is bookcase, containing large books, and not more than five feet high, which is against wall between fireplace and door to bedroom.

Curtain discloses empty stage._

(After a slight interval, door at right rear is shaken and agitated. After slight further interval, door is opened inward upon stage. A Man's head appears, cautiously looking around).

(Man enters, turns up lights, is followed by second Man. Both are clad decently, in knock-about business suits and starched collars, cuffs, etc. They are trim, deft, determined men).

(Following upon them, enters Hubbard. He looks about room, crosses to desk, picks up a letter, and reads address).

{Hubbard}

This is Knox's room all right

{First Man}

Trust us for that.

{Second Man}

We were lucky the guy with the whiskers moved out of that other room only this afternoon.

{First Man}

His key hadn't come down yet when I engaged it.

{Hubbard}

Well, get to work. That must be his bedroom.

(He goes to door of bedroom, opens, and peers in, turns on electric lights of bedroom, turns them out, then turns back to men.) You know what it is—a bunch of documents and letters. If we find it there is a clean five hundred each for you, in addition to your regular pay.

(While the conversation goes on, all three engage in a careful search of desk, drawers, filing cabinets, bookcases, etc.)

{Second Man}

Old Starkweather must want them bad.

{Hubbard}

Sh-h. Don't even breathe his name.

{Second Man}

His nibs is damned exclusive, ain't he?

{First Man}

I've never got a direct instruction from him, and I've worked for him longer than you.

{Second Man}

Yes, and you worked for him for over two years before you knew who was hiring you.

{Hubbard}

(To First Man.) You'd better go out in the hall and keep a watch for Knox. He may come in any time.

(First Man produces skeleton keys and goes to door at right. The first key opens it. Leaving door slightly ajar, he makes exit.)

(Desk telephone rings and startles Hubbard.)

{Second Man}

(Grinning at Hubbard's alarm.)

It's only the phone.

{Hubbard}

(Proceeding with search.) I suppose you've done lots of work for Stark—

{Second Man}

(Mimicking him.) Sh-h. Don't breathe his name.

(Telephone rings again and again, insistently, urgently.)

{Hubbard}

(Disguising his voice.) Hello—Yes.

(Shows surprise, seems to recognize the voice, and smiles knowingly.)

No, this is not Knox. Some mistake. Wrong number—

(Hanging up receiver and speaking to Second Man in natural voice.) She did hang up quick.

{Second Man}

You seemed to recognize her.

{Hubbard}

No, I only thought I did.

(A pause, while they search.)

{Second Man}

I've never spoken a word to his nibs in my life. And I've drawn his pay for years too.

{Hubbard}

What of it?

{Second Man}

(Complainingly.) He don't know I exist.

{Hubbard}

(Pulling open a desk drawer and examining contents.)

The pay's all right, isn't it?

{Second Man}

It sure is, but I guess I earn every cent of it. (First Man enters through door at right He moves hurriedly but cautiously. Shuts door behind him, but neglects to re-lock it.)

{First Man}

Somebody just left the elevator and is coming down the hall.

(Hubbard, First Man, and Second Man, all start for door at right rear.)

(First Man pauses and looks around to see if room is in order. Sees desk-drawer which Hubbard has neglected to close, goes back and closes it.)

(Hubbard and Second Man make exit.)

(First Man turns lights low and makes exit.)

(Sound of locking door is heard.)

(A pause.)

(A knocking at door to right. A pause. Then door opens and Gilford enters. He turns up lights, strolls about room, looks at watch, and sits down in chair near right of fireplace.) (Sound of key in lock of door to right.) (Door opens, and Knox enters, key in hand. Sees Gifford.)

{Knox}

(Advancing to meet him at fireplace and shaking hands.) How did you get in?

{Gifford}

I let myself in. The door was unlocked.

{Knox}

I must have forgotten it.

{Gifford}

(Drawing bundle of documents from inside breast pocket and handing them to Knox.) Well, there they are.

{Knox}

(Fingering them curiously.) You are sure they are originals? (Gifford nods.)

I can't take any chances, you know. If Gherst changed his mind after I gave my speech and refused to show the originals—such things have happened.

{Gifford}

That's what I told him. He was firm on giving duplicates, and for awhile it looked as if my trip to New York was wasted. But I stuck to my guns. It was originals or nothing with you, I said, and he finally gave in.

{Knox}

(Holding up documents.) I can't tell you what they mean to me, nor how grateful—

{Gifford}

(Interrupting.) That's all right. Don't mention it. Gherst is wild for the chance. It will do organized labor a heap of good. And you are able to say your own say at the same time. How's that compensation act coming on?

{Knox}

(Wearily.) The same old story. It will never come before the House. It is dying in committee. What can you expect of the Committee of Judiciary?—composed as it is of ex-railroad judges and ex-railroad lawyers.

{Gifford}

The railroad brotherhoods are keen on getting that bill through.

{Knox}

Well, they won't, and they never will until they learn to vote right. When will your labor leaders quit the strike and boycott and lead your men to political action?

{Gifford}

(Holding out hand.) Well, so long. I've got to trot, and I haven't time to tell you why I think political action would destroy the trade union movement.

(Knox tosses documents on top of low bookcase between fireplace and bedroom door, and starts to shake hands.) You're damn careless with those papers. You wouldn't be if you knew how much Gherst paid for them.

{Gifford}

You don't appreciate that other crowd. It stops at nothing.

{Knox}

I won't take my eyes off of them. And I'll take them to bed with me to-night for safety. Besides, there is no danger. Nobody but you knows I have them.

{Gifford}

(Proceeding toward door to right.) I'd hate to be in Starkweather's office when he discovers what's happened. There'll be some bad half hours for somebody. (Pausing at door.) Give them hell to-morrow, good and plenty. I'm going to be in a gallery. So long. (Makes exit.)

(Knox crosses to windows, which he opens, returns to desk, seats himself in revolving chair, and begins opening his correspondence. ) (A knock at door to right.)

{Knox}

Come in.

(Hubbard enters, advances to desk, but does not shake hands. They greet each other, and Hubbard sits down in chair to left of desk.) (Knox, still holding an open letter, re-volves chair so as to face his visitor. He waits for Hubbabd to speak.)

{Hubbard}

There is no use beating about the bush with a man like you. I know that. You are direct, and so am I. You know my position well enough to be assured that I am empowered to treat with you.

{Knox}

Oh, yes; I know.

{Hubbard}

What we want is to have you friendly.

{Knox}

That is easy enough. When the Interests become upright and honest—

{Hubbard}

Save that for your speech. We are talking privately. We can make it well worth your while—

{Knox} (Angrily.) If you think you can bribe me—

{Hubbard} (Suavely.) Not at all. Not the slightest suspicion of it. The point is this. You are a congressman. A congressman's career depends on his membership in good committees. At the present you are buried in the dead Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures. If you say the word you can be appointed to the livest committee—

{Knox}

(Interrupting.) You have these appointments to give?

{Hubbard}

Surely. Else why should I be here? It can be managed.

{Knox}

(Meditatively.) I thought our government was rotten enough, but I never dreamed that House appointments were hawked around by the Interests in this fashion.

{Hubbard}

You have not given your answer.

{Knox}

You should have known my answer in advance.

{Hubbard}

There is an alternative. You are interested in social problems. You are a student of sociology. Those whom I represent are genuinely interested in you. We are prepared, so that you may pursue your researches more deeply—we are prepared to send you to Europe. There, in that vast sociological laboratory, far from the jangling strife of politics, you will have every opportunity to study. We are prepared to send you for a period of ten years. You will receive ten thousand dollars a year, and, in addition, the day your steamer leaves New York, you will receive a lump sum of one hundred thousand dollars.

{Knox}

And this is the way men are bought

{Hubbard}

It is purely an educational matter.

{Knox}

Now it is you who are beating about the bush.

{Hubbard}

(Decisively.) Very well then. What price do you set on yourself?

{Knox}

You want me to quit—to leave politics, everything? You want to buy my soul?

{Hubbard}

More than that. We want to buy those documents and letters.

{Knox}

(Showing a slight start.) What documents and letters?

{Hubbard}

You are beating around the bush in turn. There is no need for an honest man to lie even—

{Knox}

(Interrupting.) To you.

{Hubbard}

(Smiling.) Even to me. I watched you closely when I mentioned the letters. You gave yourself away. You knew I meant the letters stolen by Gherst from Starkweather's private files—the letters you intended using to-morrow.

{Knox}

Intend using to-morrow.

{Hubbard}

Precisely. It is the same thing. What is the price? Set it.

{Knox}

I have nothing to sell. I am not on the market.

{Hubbard}

One moment. Don't make up your mind hastily. You don't know with whom you have to deal. Those letters will not appear in your speech to-morrow. Take that from me. It would be far wiser to sell for a fortune than to get nothing for them and at the same time not use them.

(A knock at door to right startles Hubbard.)

{Knox}

(Intending to say, "Come in") Come—

{Hubbard}

(Interrupting.) Hush. Don't. I cannot be seen here.

{Knox}

(Laughing.) You fear the contamination of my company. (The knock is repeated.)

{Hubbard}

(In alarm, rising, as Knox purses his lips to bid them enter.) Don't let anybody in. I don't want to be seen here—with you. Besides, my presence will not put you in a good light.

{Knox}

(Also rising, starting toward door.) What I do is always open to the world. I see no one whom I should not permit the world to know I saw.

(Knox starts toward door to open it.) (Hubbabd, looking about him in alarm, flees across stage and into bedroom, closing the door. During all the following scene, Hubbard, from time to time, opens door, and peers out at what is going on.)

{Knox}

(Opening door, and recoiling.) Margaret! Mrs. Chalmers!

(Margaret enters, followed by Tommy and Linda. Margaret is in evening dress covered by evening cloak.)

{Margaret}

(Shaking hands with Knox.) Forgive me, but I had to see you. I could not get you on the telephone. I called and called, and the best I could do was to get the wrong number.

{Knox}

(Recovering from his astonishment.) Yes. I am glad.

(Seeing Tommy.) Hello, Tommy.

(Knox holds out his hand, and Tommy shakes it gravely. Linda stays in back-ground. Her face is troubled.)

{Tommy}

How do you do?

{Margaret}

There was no other way, and it was so necessary for me to warn you. I brought Tommy and Linda along to chaperon me.

(She looks curiously around room, specially indicating filing cabinets and the stacks of government reports on table.) Your laboratory.

{Knox}

Ah, if I were only as great a sociological wizard as Edison is a wizard in physical sciences.

{Margaret}

But you are. You labor more mightily than you admit—or dare to think. Oh, I know you—better than you do yourself.

{Tommy}

Do you read all those books?

{Knox}

Yes, I am still going to school and studying hard. What are you going to study to be when you grow up?

(Tommy meditates but does not answer.)

President of these great United States?

{Tommy}

(Shaking his head.) Father says the President doesn't amount to much.

{Knox}

Not a Lincoln?

(Tommy is in doubt.)

{Margaret}

But don't you remember what a great good man Lincoln was? You remember I told you?

{Tommy}

(Shaking his head slowly.) But I don't want to be killed.—I'll tell you what!

{Knox}

What?

{Tommy}

I want to be a senator like father. He makes them dance.

(Margaret is shocked, and Knox's eyes twinkle.)

{Knox}

Makes whom dance?

{Tommy} (Puzzled.) I don't know.

(With added confidence.) But he makes them dance just the same.

(Margaret makes a signal to Linda to take Tommy across the room.)

{Linda}

(Starting to cross stage to left.) Come, Tommy. Let us look out of the window.

{Tommy}

I'd rather talk with Mr. Knox.

{Margaret}

Please do, Tommy. Mamma wants to talk to Mr. Knox.

(Tommy yields, and crosses to right, where he joins Linda in looking out of the window.)

{Margaret}

You might ask me to take a seat

{Knox}

Oh! I beg pardon.

(He draws up a comfortable chair for her, and seats himself in desk-chair, facing her.)

{Margaret}

I have only a few minutes. Tom is at father's, and I am to pick him up there and go on to that dinner, after I've taken Tommy home.

{Knox}

But your maid?

{Margaret}

Linda? Wild horses could not drag from her anything that she thought would harm me. So intense is her fidelity that it almost shames me. I do not deserve it. But this is not what I came to you about.

(She speaks the following hurriedly.) After you left this afternoon, something happened. Father received a telegram. It seemed most important. His secretary followed upon the heels of the telegram. Father called Tom and Mr. Hubbard to him and they held a conference. I think they have discovered the loss of the documents, and that they believe you have them. I did not hear them mention your name, yet I am absolutely certain that they were talking about you. Also, I could tell from father's face that something was terribly wrong. Oh, be careful! Do be careful!

{Knox}

There is no danger, I assure you.

{Margaret}

But you do not know them. I tell you you do not know them. They will stop at nothing—at nothing. Father believes he is right in all that he does.

{Knox}

I know. That is what makes him so formidable. He has an ethical sanction.

{Margaret}

(Nodding.) It is his religion.

{Knox}

And, like any religion with a narrow-minded man, it runs to mania.

{Margaret}

He believes that civilization rests on him, and that it is his sacred duty to preserve civilization.

{Knox}

I know. I know.

{Margaret}

But you? But you? You are in danger.

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