CHRIS. CHRISTOPHERSON, captain of the barge "Simeon Winthrop"
ANNA CHRISTOPHERSON, Chris's daughter
THREE MEN OF A STEAMER'S CREW
MAT BURKE, a stoker
JOHNSON, deckhand on the barge
"Johnny-the-Priest's" saloon near the waterfront. New York City.
The barge, Simeon Winthrop, at anchor in the harbor of Provincetown,
Mass. Ten days later.
Cabin of the barge, at dock in Boston. A week later.
The same. Two days later.
Time of the Play--About 1910.
SCENE--"Johnny-The-Priest's" saloon near South Street, New York City.
The stage is divided into two sections, showing a small back room on
the right. On the left, forward, of the barroom, a large window looking
out on the street. Beyond it, the main entrance--a double swinging
door. Farther back, another window. The bar runs from left to right
nearly the whole length of the rear wall. In back of the bar, a small
showcase displaying a few bottles of case goods, for which there is
evidently little call. The remainder of the rear space in front of the
large mirrors is occupied by half-barrels of cheap whiskey of the
"nickel-a-shot" variety, from which the liquor is drawn by means of
spigots. On the right is an open doorway leading to the back room. In
the back room are four round wooden tables with five chairs grouped
about each. In the rear, a family entrance opening on a side street.
It is late afternoon of a day in fall.
As the curtain rises, Johnny is discovered. "Johnny-The-Priest"
deserves his nickname. With his pale, thin, clean-shaven face, mild
blue eyes and white hair, a cassock would seem more suited to him than
the apron he wears. Neither his voice nor his general manner dispel
this illusion which has made him a personage of the water front. They
are soft and bland. But beneath all his mildness one senses the man
behind the mask--cynical, callous, hard as nails. He is lounging at
ease behind the bar, a pair of spectacles on his nose, reading an
Two longshoremen enter from the street, wearing their working aprons,
the button of the union pinned conspicuously on the caps pulled
sideways on their heads at an aggressive angle.
FIRST LONGSHOREMAN--[As they range themselves at the bar.] Gimme a
shock. Number Two. [He tosses a coin on the bar.]
SECOND LONGSHOREMAN--Same here. [Johnny sets two glasses of barrel
whiskey before them.]
FIRST LONGSHOREMAN--Here's luck! [The other nods. They gulp down their
SECOND LONGSHOREMAN--[Putting money on the bar.] Give us another.
FIRST LONGSHOREMAN--Gimme a scoop this time--lager and porter. I'm dry.
SECOND LONGSHOREMAN--Same here. [Johnny draws the lager and porter and
sets the big, foaming schooners before them. They drink down half the
contents and start to talk together hurriedly in low tones. The door on
the left is swung open and Larry enters. He is a boyish, red-cheeked,
rather good-looking young fellow of twenty or so.]
LARRY--[Nodding to Johnny--cheerily.] Hello, boss.
JOHNNY--Hello, Larry. [With a glance at his watch.] Just on time.
[LARRY goes to the right behind the bar, takes off his coat, and puts
on an apron.]
FIRST LONGSHOREMAN--[Abruptly.] Let's drink up and get back to it.
[They finish their drinks and go out left. The POSTMAN enters as they
leave. He exchanges nods with JOHNNY and throws a letter on the bar.]
THE POSTMAN--Addressed care of you, Johnny. Know him?
JOHNNY--[Picks up the letter, adjusting his spectacles. LARRY comes and
peers over his shoulders. JOHNNY reads very slowly.] Christopher
THE POSTMAN--[Helpfully.] Square-head name.
LARRY--Old Chris--that's who.
JOHNNY--Oh, sure. I was forgetting Chris carried a hell of a name like
that. Letters come here for him sometimes before, I remember now. Long
time ago, though.
THE POSTMAN--It'll get him all right then?
JOHNNY--Sure thing. He comes here whenever he's in port.
THE POSTMAN--[Turning to go.] Sailor, eh?
JOHNNY--[With a grin.] Captain of a coal barge.
THE POSTMAN--[Laughing.] Some job! Well, s'long.
JOHNNY--S'long. I'll see he gets it. [The POSTMAN goes out. JOHNNY
scrutinizes the letter.] You got good eyes, Larry. Where's it from?
LARRY--[After a glance.] St. Paul. That'll be in Minnesota, I'm
thinkin'. Looks like a woman's writing, too, the old divil!
JOHNNY--He's got a daughter somewheres out West, I think he told me
once. [He puts the letter on the cash register.] Come to think of it, I
ain't seen old Chris in a dog's age. [Putting his overcoat on, he comes
around the end of the bar.] Guess I'll be gettin' home. See you
LARRY--Good-night to ye, boss. [As JOHNNY goes toward the street door,
it is pushed open and CHRISTOPHER CHRISTOPHERSON enters. He is a short,
squat, broad-shouldered man of about fifty, with a round,
weather-beaten, red face from which his light blue eyes peer
short-sightedly, twinkling with a simple good humor. His large mouth,
overhung by a thick, drooping, yellow mustache, is childishly
self-willed and weak, of an obstinate kindliness. A thick neck is
jammed like a post into the heavy trunk of his body. His arms with
their big, hairy, freckled hands, and his stumpy legs terminating in
large flat feet, are awkwardly short and muscular. He walks with a
clumsy, rolling gait. His voice, when not raised in a hollow boom, is
toned down to a sly, confidential half-whisper with something vaguely
plaintive in its quality. He is dressed in a wrinkled, ill-fitting dark
suit of shore clothes, and wears a faded cap of gray cloth over his mop
of grizzled, blond hair. Just now his face beams with a too-blissful
happiness, and he has evidently been drinking. He reaches his hand out
CHRIS--Hello, Yohnny! Have drink on me. Come on, Larry. Give us drink.
Have one yourself. [Putting his hand in his pocket.] Ay gat
JOHNNY--[Shakes CHRIS by the hand.] Speak of the devil. We was just
talkin' about you.
LARRY--[Coming to the end of the bar.] Hello, Chris. Put it there.
[They shake hands.]
CHRIS--[Beaming.] Give us drink.
JOHNNY--[With a grin.] You got a half-snootful now. Where'd you get it?
CHRIS--[Grinning.] Oder fallar on oder barge--Irish fallar--he gat
bottle vhiskey and we drank it, yust us two. Dot vhiskey gat kick, by
yingo! Ay yust come ashore. Give us drink, Larry. Ay vas little drunk,
not much. Yust feel good. [He laughs and commences to sing in a nasal,
"My Yosephine, come board de ship. Long time Ay
vait for you.
De moon, she shi-i-i-ine. She looka yust like you.
Tchee-tchee, tchee-tchee, tchee-tchee, tchee-tchee."
[To the accompaniment of this last he waves his hand as if he were
conducting an orchestra.]
JOHNNY--[With a laugh.] Same old Yosie, eh, Chris?
CHRIS--You don't know good song when you hear him. Italian fallar on
oder barge, he learn me dat. Give us drink. [He throws change on the
LARRY--[With a professional air.] What's your pleasure, gentlemen?
JOHNNY--Small beer, Larry.
LARRY--[As he gets their drinks.] I'll take a cigar on you.
CHRIS--[Lifting his glass.] Skoal! [He drinks.]
CHRIS--[Immediately.] Have oder drink.
JOHNNY--No. Some other time. Got to go home now. So you've just landed?
Where are you in from this time?
CHRIS--Norfolk. Ve make slow voyage--dirty vedder--yust fog, fog, fog,
all bloody time! [There is an insistent ring from the doorbell at the
family entrance in the back room. Chris gives a start--hurriedly.] Ay
go open, Larry. Ay forgat. It vas Marthy. She come with me. [He goes
into the back room.]
LARRY--[With a chuckle.] He's still got that same cow livin' with him,
the old fool!
JOHNNY--[With a grin.] A sport, Chris is. Well, I'll beat it home.
S'long. [He goes to the street door.]
LARRY--So long, boss.
JOHNNY--Oh--don't forget to give him his letter.
LARRY--I won't. [JOHNNY goes out. In the meantime, CHRIS has opened the
family entrance door, admitting MARTHY. She might be forty or fifty.
Her jowly, mottled face, with its thick red nose, is streaked with
interlacing purple veins. Her thick, gray hair is piled anyhow in a
greasy mop on top of her round head. Her figure is flabby and fat; her
breath comes in wheezy gasps; she speaks in a loud, mannish voice,
punctuated by explosions of hoarse laughter. But there still twinkles
in her blood-shot blue eyes a youthful lust for life which hard usage
has failed to stifle, a sense of humor mocking, but good-tempered. She
wears a man's cap, double-breasted man's jacket, and a grimy, calico
skirt. Her bare feet are encased in a man's brogans several sizes too
large for her, which gives her a shuffling, wobbly gait.]
MARTHY--[Grumblingly.] What yuh tryin' to do, Dutchy--keep me standin'
out there all day? [She comes forward and sits at the table in the
right corner, front.]
CHRIS--[Mollifyingly.] Ay'm sorry, Marthy. Ay talk to Yohnny. Ay
forgat. What you goin' take for drink?
MARTHY--[Appeased.] Gimme a scoop of lager an' ale.
CHRIS--Ay go bring him back. [He returns to the bar.] Lager and ale for
Marthy, Larry. Vhiskey for me. [He throws change on the bar.]
LARRY--Right you are. [Then remembering, he takes the letter from in
back of the bar.] Here's a letter for you--from St. Paul,
Minnesota--and a lady's writin'. [He grins.]
CHRIS--[Quickly--taking it.] Oh, den it come from my daughter, Anna.
She live dere. [He turns the letter over in his hands uncertainly.] Ay
don't gat letter from Anna--must be a year.
LARRY--[Jokingly.] That's a fine fairy tale to be tellin'--your
daughter! Sure I'll bet it's some bum.
CHRIS--[Soberly.] No. Dis come from Anna. [Engrossed by the letter in
his hand--uncertainly.] By golly, Ay tank Ay'm too drunk for read dis
letter from Anna. Ay tank Ay sat down for a minute. You bring drinks in
back room, Larry. [He goes into the room on right.]
MARTHY--[Angrily.] Where's my lager an' ale, yuh big stiff?
CHRIS--[Preoccupied.] Larry bring him. [He sits down opposite her.
LARRY brings in the drinks and sets them on the table. He and MARTHY
exchange nods of recognition. LARRY stands looking at CHRIS curiously.
MARTHY takes a long draught of her schooner and heaves a huge sigh of
satisfaction, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. CHRIS stares
at the letter for a moment--slowly opens it, and, squinting his eyes,
commences to read laboriously, his lips moving as he spells out the
words. As he reads his face lights up with an expression of mingled joy
MARTHY--[Her curiosity also aroused.] What's that yuh got--a letter,
fur Gawd's sake?
CHRIS--[Pauses for a moment, after finishing the letter, as if to let
the news sink in--then suddenly pounds his fist on the table with happy
excitement.] Py yiminy! Yust tank, Anna say she's comin' here right
avay! She gat sick on yob in St. Paul, she say. It's short letter,
don't tal me much more'n dat. [Beaming.] Py golly, dat's good news all
at one time for ole fallar! [Then turning to MARTHY, rather
shamefacedly.] You know, Marthy, Ay've tole you Ay don't see my Anna
since she vas little gel in Sveden five year ole.
MARTHY--How old'll she be now?
CHRIS--She must be--lat me see--she must be twenty year ole, py Yo!
LARRY--[Surprised.] You've not seen her in fifteen years?
CHRIS--[Suddenly growing somber--in a low tone.] No. Ven she vas little
gel, Ay vas bo'sun on vindjammer. Ay never gat home only few time dem
year. Ay'm fool sailor fallar. My voman--Anna's mother--she gat tired
vait all time Sveden for me ven Ay don't never come. She come dis
country, bring Anna, dey go out Minnesota, live with her cousins on
farm. Den ven her mo'der die ven Ay vas on voyage, Ay tank it's better
dem cousins keep Anna. Ay tank it's better Anna live on farm, den she
don't know dat ole davil, sea, she don't know fader like me.
LARRY--[With a wink at MARTHY.] This girl, now, 'll be marryin' a
sailor herself, likely. It's in the blood.
CHRIS--[Suddenly springing to his feet and smashing his fist on the
table in a rage.] No, py God! She don't do dat!
MARTHY--[Grasping her schooner hastily--angrily.] Hey, look out, yuh
nut! Wanta spill my suds for me?
LARRY--[Amazed.] Oho, what's up with you? Ain't you a sailor yourself
now, and always been?
CHRIS--[Slowly.] Dat's yust vhy Ay say it. [Forcing a smile.] Sailor
vas all right fallar, but not for marry gel. No. Ay know dat. Anna's
mo'der, she know it, too.
LARRY--[As CHRIS remains sunk in gloomy reflection.] When is your
daughter comin'? Soon?
CHRIS--[Roused.] Py yiminy, Ay forgat. [Reads through the letter
hurriedly.] She say she come right avay, dat's all.
LARRY--She'll maybe be comin' here to look for you, I s'pose. [He
returns to the bar, whistling. Left alone with MARTHY, who stares at
him with a twinkle of malicious humor in her eyes, CHRIS suddenly
becomes desperately ill-at-ease. He fidgets, then gets up hurriedly.]
CHRIS--Ay gat speak with Larry. Ay be right back. [Mollifyingly.] Ay
bring you oder drink.
MARTHY--[Emptying her glass.] Sure. That's me. [As he retreats with the
glass she guffaws after him derisively.]
CHRIS--[To LARRY in an alarmed whisper.] Py yingo, Ay gat gat Marthy
shore off barge before Anna come! Anna raise hell if she find dat out.
Marthy raise hell, too, for go, py golly!
LARRY--[With a chuckle.] Serve ye right, ye old divil--havin' a woman
at your age!
CHRIS--[Scratching his head in a quandary.] You tal me lie for tal
Marthy, Larry, so's she gat off barge quick.
LARRY--She knows your daughter's comin'. Tell her to get the hell out
CHRIS--No. Ay don't like make her feel bad.
LARRY--You're an old mush! Keep your girl away from the barge, then.
She'll likely want to stay ashore anyway. [Curiously.] What does she
work at, your Anna?
CHRIS--She stay on dem cousins' farm 'till two year ago. Dan she gat
yob nurse gel in St. Paul. [Then shaking his head resolutely.] But Ay
don't vant for her gat yob now. Ay vant for her stay with me.
LARRY--[Scornfully.] On a coal barge! She'll not like that, I'm
MARTHY--[Shouts from next room.] Don't I get that bucket o' suds,
CHRIS--[Startled--in apprehensive confusion.] Yes, Ay come, Marthy.
LARRY--[Drawing the lager and ale, hands it to CHRIS--laughing.] Now
you're in for it! You'd better tell her straight to get out!
CHRIS--[Shaking in his boots.] Py golly. [He takes her drink in to
MARTHY and sits down at the table. She sips it in silence. LARRY moves
quietly close to the partition to listen, grinning with expectation.
CHRIS seems on the verge of speaking, hesitates, gulps down his whiskey
desperately as if seeking for courage. He attempts to whistle a few
bars of "Yosephine" with careless bravado, but the whistle peters out
futilely. MARTHY stares at him keenly, taking in his embarrassment with
a malicious twinkle of amusement in her eye. CHRIS clears his throat.]
MARTHY--[Aggressively.] Wha's that? [Then, pretending to fly into a
rage, her eyes enjoying CHRIS' misery.] I'm wise to what's in back of
your nut, Dutchy. Yuh want to git rid o' me, huh?--now she's comin'.
Gimme the bum's rush ashore, huh? Lemme tell yuh, Dutchy, there ain't a
square-head workin' on a boat man enough to git away with that. Don't
start nothin' yuh can't finish!
CHRIS--[Miserably.] Ay don't start nutting, Marthy.
MARTHY--[Glares at him for a second--then cannot control a burst of
laughter.] Ho-ho! Yuh're a scream, Square-head--an honest-ter-Gawd
knockout! Ho-ho! [She wheezes, panting for breath.]
CHRIS--[With childish pique.] Ay don't see nutting for laugh at.
MARTHY--Take a slant in the mirror and yuh'll see. Ho-ho! [Recovering
from her mirth--chuckling, scornfully.] A square-head tryin' to kid
Marthy Owen at this late day!--after me campin' with barge men the last
twenty years. I'm wise to the game, up, down, and sideways. I ain't
been born and dragged up on the water front for nothin'. Think I'd make
trouble, huh? Not me! I'll pack up me duds an' beat it. I'm quittin'
yuh, get me? I'm tellin' yuh I'm sick of stickin' with yuh, and I'm
leavin' yuh flat, see? There's plenty of other guys on other barges
waitin' for me. Always was, I always found. [She claps the astonished
CHRIS on the back.] So cheer up, Dutchy! I'll be offen the barge before
she comes. You'll be rid o' me for good--and me o' you--good riddance
for both of us. Ho-ho!
CHRIS--[Seriously.] Ay don' tank dat. You vas good gel, Marthy.
MARTHY--[Grinning.] Good girl? Aw, can the bull! Well, yuh treated me
square, yuhself. So it's fifty-fifty. Nobody's sore at nobody. We're
still good frien's, huh? [LARRY returns to bar.]
CHRIS--[Beaming now that he sees his troubles disappearing.] Yes, py
MARTHY--That's the talkin'! In all my time I tried never to split with
a guy with no hard feelin's. But what was yuh so scared about--that I'd
kick up a row? That ain't Marthy's way. [Scornfully.] Think I'd break
my heart to lose yuh? Commit suicide, huh? Ho-ho! Gawd! The world's
full o' men if that's all I'd worry about! [Then with a grin, after
emptying her glass.] Blow me to another scoop, huh? I'll drink your
kid's health for yuh.
CHRIS--[Eagerly.] Sure tang. Ay go gat him. [He takes the two glasses
into the bar.] Oder drink. Same for both.
LARRY--[Getting the drinks and putting them on the bar.] She's not such
a bad lot, that one.
CHRIS--[Jovially.] She's good gel, Ay tal you! Py golly, Ay calabrate
now! Give me vhiskey here at bar, too. [He puts down money. LARRY
serves him.] You have drink, Larry.
LARRY--[Virtuously.] You know I never touch it.
CHRIS--You don't know what you miss. Skoal! [He drinks--then begins to
"My Yosephine, come board de ship--"
[He picks up the drinks for MARTHY and himself and walks unsteadily
into the back room, singing.]
"De moon, she shi-i-i-ine. She looks yust like you.
Tche-tchee, tchee-tchee, tchee-tchee, tchee-tchee."
MARTHY--[Grinning, hands to ears.] Gawd!
CHRIS--[Sitting down.] Ay'm good singer, yes? Ve drink, eh? Skoal! Ay
calabrate! [He drinks.] Ay calabrate 'cause Anna's coming home. You
know, Marthy, Ay never write for her to come, 'cause Ay tank Ay'm no
good for her. But all time Ay hope like hell some day she vant for see
me and den she come. And dat's vay it happen now, py yiminy! [His face
beaming.] What you tank she look like, Marthy? Ay bet you she's fine,
good, strong gel, pooty like hell! Living on farm made her like dat.
And Ay bet you some day she marry good, steady land fallar here in
East, have home all her own, have kits--and dan Ay'm ole grandfader, py
golly! And Ay go visit dem every time Ay gat in port near! [Bursting
with joy.] By yiminy crickens, Ay calabrate dat! [Shouts.] Bring oder
drink, Larry! [He smashes his fist on the table with a bang.]
LARRY--[Coming in from bar--irritably.] Easy there! Don't be breakin'
the table, you old goat!
CHRIS--[By way of reply, grins foolishly and begins to sing.] "My
Yosephine comes board de ship--"
MARTHY--[Touching CHRIS' arm persuasively.] You're soused to the ears,
Dutchy. Go out and put a feed into you. It'll sober you up. [Then as
CHRIS shakes his head obstinately.] Listen, yuh old nut! Yuh don't know
what time your kid's liable to show up. Yuh want to be sober when she
comes, don't yuh?
CHRIS--[Aroused--gets unsteadily to his feet.] Py golly, yes.
LARRY--That's good sense for you. A good beef stew'll fix you. Go round
CHRIS--All right. Ay be back soon, Marthy. [CHRIS goes through the bar
and out the street door.]
LARRY--He'll come round all right with some grub in him.
MARTHY--Sure. [LARRY goes back to the bar and resumes his newspaper.
MARTHY sips what is left of her schooner reflectively. There is the
ring of the family entrance bell. LARRY comes to the door and opens it
a trifle--then, with a puzzled expression, pulls it wide. ANNA
CHRISTOPHERSON enters. She is a tall, blond, fully-developed girl of
twenty, handsome after a large, Viking-daughter fashion but now run
down in health and plainly showing all the outward evidences of
belonging to the world's oldest profession. Her youthful face is
already hard and cynical beneath its layer of make-up. Her clothes are
the tawdry finery of peasant stock turned prostitute. She comes and
sinks wearily in a chair by the table, left front.]
ANNA--Gimme a whiskey--ginger ale on the side. [Then, as LARRY turns to
go, forcing a winning smile at him.] And don't be stingy, baby.
LARRY--[Sarcastically.] Shall I serve it in a pail?
ANNA--[With a hard laugh.] That suits me down to the ground. [LARRY
goes into the bar. The two women size each other up with frank stares.
LARRY comes back with the drink which he sets before ANNA and returns
to the bar again. ANNA downs her drink at a gulp. Then, after a moment,
as the alcohol begins to rouse her, she turns to MARTHY with a friendly
smile.] Gee, I needed that bad, all right, all right!
MARTHY--[Nodding her head sympathetically.] Sure--yuh look all in. Been
on a bat?
ANNA--No--travelling--day and a half on the train. Had to sit up all
night in the dirty coach, too. Gawd, I thought I'd never get here!
MARTHY--[With a start--looking at her intently.] Where'd yuh come from,
ANNA--St. Paul--out in Minnesota.
MARTHY--[Staring at her in amazement--slowly.] So--yuh're--[She
suddenly bursts out into hoarse, ironical laughter.] Gawd!
ANNA--All the way from Minnesota, sure. [Flaring up.] What you laughing
MARTHY--[Hastily.] No, honest, kid. I was thinkin' of somethin' else.
ANNA--[Mollified--with a smile.] Well, I wouldn't blame you, at that.
Guess I do look rotten--yust out of the hospital two weeks. I'm going
to have another 'ski. What d'you say? Have something on me?
MARTHY--Sure I will. T'anks. [She calls.] Hey, Larry! Little service!
[He comes in.]
ANNA--Same for me.
MARTHY--Same here. [LARRY takes their glasses and goes out.]
ANNA--Why don't you come sit over here, be sociable. I'm a dead
stranger in this burg--and I ain't spoke a word with no one since day
MARTHY--Sure thing. [She shuffles over to ANNA'S table and sits down
opposite her. LARRY brings the drinks and ANNA pays him.]
ANNA--Skoal! Here's how! [She drinks.]
MARTHY--Here's luck! [She takes a gulp from her schooner.]
ANNA--[Taking a package of Sweet Caporal cigarettes from her bag.] Let
you smoke in here, won't they?
MARTHY--[Doubtfully.] Sure. [Then with evident anxiety.] On'y trow it
away if yuh hear someone comin'.
ANNA--[Lighting one and taking a deep inhale.] Gee, they're fussy in
this dump, ain't they? [She puffs, staring at the table top. MARTHY
looks her over with a new penetrating interest, taking in every detail
of her face. ANNA suddenly becomes conscious of this appraising
stare--resentfully.] Ain't nothing wrong with me, is there? You're
looking hard enough.
MARTHY--[Irritated by the other's tone--scornfully.] Ain't got to look
much. I got your number the minute you stepped in the door.
ANNA--[Her eyes narrowing.] Ain't you smart! Well, I got yours, too,
without no trouble. You're me forty years from now. That's you! [She
gives a hard little laugh.]
MARTHY--[Angrily.] Is that so? Well, I'll tell you straight, kiddo,
that Marthy Owen never--[She catches herself up short--with a grin.]
What are you and me scrappin' over? Let's cut it out, huh? Me, I don't
want no hard feelin's with no one. [Extending her hand.] Shake and
forget it, huh?
ANNA--[Shakes her hand gladly.] Only too glad to. I ain't looking for
trouble. Let's have 'nother. What d'you say?
MARTHY--[Shaking her head.] Not for mine. I'm full up. And you-- Had
anythin' to eat lately?
ANNA--Not since this morning on the train.
MARTHY--Then yuh better go easy on it, hadn't yuh?
ANNA--[After a moment's hesitation.] Guess you're right. I got to meet
someone, too. But my nerves is on edge after that rotten trip.
MARTHY--Yuh said yuh was just outa the hospital?
ANNA--Two weeks ago. [Leaning over to MARTHY confidentially.] The joint
I was in out in St. Paul got raided. That was the start. The judge give
all us girls thirty days. The others didn't seem to mind being in the
cooler much. Some of 'em was used to it. But me, I couldn't stand it.
It got my goat right--couldn't eat or sleep or nothing. I never could
stand being caged up nowheres. I got good and sick and they had to send
me to the hospital. It was nice there. I was sorry to leave it, honest!
MARTHY--[After a slight pause.] Did yuh say yuh got to meet someone
ANNA--Yes. Oh, not what you mean. It's my Old Man I got to meet.
Honest! It's funny, too. I ain't seen him since I was a kid--don't even
know what he looks like--yust had a letter every now and then. This was
always the only address he give me to write him back. He's yanitor of
some building here now--used to be a sailor.
ANNA--Sure. And I was thinking maybe, seeing he ain't never done a
thing for me in my life, he might be willing to stake me to a room and
eats till I get rested up. [Wearily.] Gee, I sure need that rest! I'm
knocked out. [Then resignedly.] But I ain't expecting much from him.
Give you a kick when you're down, that's what all men do. [With sudden
passion.] Men, I hate 'em--all of 'em! And I don't expect he'll turn
out no better than the rest. [Then with sudden interest.] Say, do you
hang out around this dump much?
MARTHY--Oh, off and on.
ANNA--Then maybe you know him--my Old Man--or at least seen him?
MARTHY--It ain't old Chris, is it?
MARTHY--Chris Christopherson, his full name is.
ANNA--[Excitedly.] Yes, that's him! Anna Christopherson--that's my real
name--only out there I called myself Anna Christie. So you know him, eh?
MARTHY--[Evasively.] Seen him about for years.
ANNA--Say, what's he like, tell me, honest?
MARTHY--Oh, he's short and--
ANNA--[Impatiently.] I don't care what he looks like. What kind is he?
MARTHY--[Earnestly.] Well, yuh can bet your life, kid, he's as good an
old guy as ever walked on two feet. That goes!
ANNA--[Pleased.] I'm glad to hear it. Then you think's he'll stake me
to that rest cure I'm after?
MARTHY--[Emphatically.] Surest thing you know. [Disgustedly.] But
where'd yuh get the idea he was a janitor?
ANNA--He wrote me he was himself.
MARTHY--Well, he was lyin'. He ain't. He's captain of a barge--five men
ANNA--[Disgusted in her turn.] A barge? What kind of a barge?
ANNA--A coal barge! [With a harsh laugh.] If that ain't a swell job to
find your long lost Old Man working at! Gee, I knew something'd be
bound to turn out wrong--always does with me. That puts my idea of his
giving me a rest on the bum.
MARTHY--What d'yuh mean?
ANNA--I s'pose he lives on the boat, don't he?
MARTHY--Sure. What about it? Can't you live on it, too?
ANNA--[Scornfully.] Me? On a dirty coal barge! What d'you think I am?
MARTHY--[Resentfully.] What d'yuh know about barges, huh? Bet yuh ain't
never seen one. That's what comes of his bringing yuh up inland--away
from the old devil sea--where yuh'd be safe--Gawd! [The irony of it
strikes her sense of humor and she laughs hoarsely.]
ANNA--[Angrily.] His bringing me up! Is that what he tells people! I
like his nerve! He let them cousins of my Old Woman's keep me on their
farm and work me to death like a dog.
MARTHY--Well, he's got queer notions on some things. I've heard him say
a farm was the best place for a kid.
ANNA--Sure. That's what he'd always answer back--and a lot of crazy
stuff about staying away from the sea--stuff I couldn't make head or
tail to. I thought he must be nutty.
MARTHY--He is on that one point. [Casually.] So yuh didn't fall for
life on the farm, huh?
ANNA--I should say not! The old man of the family, his wife, and four
sons--I had to slave for all of 'em. I was only a poor relation, and
they treated me worse than they dare treat a hired girl. [After a
moment's hesitation--somberly.] It was one of the sons--the
youngest--started me--when I was sixteen. After that, I hated 'em so
I'd killed 'em all if I'd stayed. So I run away--to St. Paul.
MARTHY--[Who has been listening sympathetically.] I've heard Old Chris
talkin' about your bein' a nurse girl out there. Was that all a bluff
yuh put up when yuh wrote him?
ANNA--Not on your life, it wasn't. It was true for two years. I didn't
go wrong all at one jump. Being a nurse girl was yust what finished me.
Taking care of other people's kids, always listening to their bawling
and crying, caged in, when you're only a kid yourself and want to go
out and see things. At last I got the chance--to get into that house.
And you bet your life I took it! [Defiantly.] And I ain't sorry
neither. [After a pause--with bitter hatred.] It was all men's
fault--the whole business. It was men on the farm ordering and beating
me--and giving me the wrong start. Then when I was a nurse, it was men
again hanging around, bothering me, trying to see what they could get.
[She gives a hard laugh.] And now it's men all the time. Gawd, I hate
'em all, every mother's son of 'em! Don't you?
MARTHY--Oh, I dunno. There's good ones and bad ones, kid. You've just
had a run of bad luck with 'em, that's all. Your Old Man, now--old
Chris--he's a good one.
ANNA--[Sceptically.] He'll have to show me.
MARTHY--Yuh kept right on writing him yuh was a nurse girl still, even
after yuh was in the house, didn't yuh?
ANNA--Sure. [Cynically.] Not that I think he'd care a darn.
MARTHY--Yuh're all wrong about him, kid, [Earnestly.] I know Old Chris
well for a long time. He's talked to me 'bout you lots o' times. He
thinks the world o' you, honest he does.
ANNA--Aw, quit the kiddin'!
MARTHY--Honest! Only, he's a simple old guy, see? He's got nutty
notions. But he means well, honest. Listen to me, kid--[She is
interrupted by the opening and shutting of the street door in the bar
and by hearing CHRIS' voice.] Ssshh!
CHRIS--[Who has entered the bar. He seems considerably sobered up.] Py
golly, Larry, dat grub taste good. Marthy in back?
LARRY--Sure--and another tramp with her. [CHRIS starts for the entrance
to the back room.]
MARTHY--[To ANNA in a hurried, nervous whisper.] That's him now. He's
comin' in here. Brace up!
ANNA--Who? [Chris opens the door.]
MARTHY--[As if she were greeting him for the first time]. Why hello,
Old Chris. [Then before he can speak, she shuffles hurriedly past him
into the bar, beckoning him to follow her.] Come here. I wanta tell yuh
somethin'. [He goes out to her. She speaks hurriedly in a low voice.]
Listen! I'm goin' to beat it down to the barge--pack up me duds and
blow. That's her in there--your Anna--just come--waitin' for yuh. Treat
her right, see? She's been sick. Well, s'long! [She goes into the back
room--to ANNA.] S'long, kid. I gotta beat it now. See yuh later.
ANNA--[Nervously.] So long. [MARTHY goes quickly out of the family
entrance.] LARRY--[Looking at the stupefied CHRIS curiously.] Well,
what's up now?
CHRIS--[Vaguely.] Nutting--nutting. [He stands before the door to the
back room in an agony of embarrassed emotion--then he forces himself to
a bold decision, pushes open the door and walks in. He stands there,
casts a shy glance at ANNA, whose brilliant clothes, and, to him,
high-toned appearance awe him terribly. He looks about him with pitiful
nervousness as if to avoid the appraising look with which she takes in
his face, his clothes, etc--his voice seeming to plead for her
ANNA--[Acutely embarrassed in her turn.] Hello--father. She told me it
was you. I yust got here a little while ago.
CHRIS--[Goes slowly over to her chair.] It's good--for see you--after
all dem years, Anna. [He bends down over her. After an embarrassed
struggle they manage to kiss each other.]
ANNA--[A trace of genuine feeling in her voice.] It's good to see you,
CHRIS--[Grasps her arms and looks into her face--then overcome by a
wave of fierce tenderness.] Anna lilla! Anna lilla! [Takes her in his
ANNA--[Shrinks away from him, half-frightened.] What's that--Swedish? I
don't know it. [Then as if seeking relief from the tension in a voluble
chatter.] Gee, I had an awful trip coming here. I'm all in. I had to
sit up in the dirty coach all night--couldn't get no sleep, hardly--and
then I had a hard job finding this place. I never been in New York
before, you know, and--
CHRIS--[Who has been staring down at her face admiringly, not hearing
what she says--impulsively.] You know you vas awful pooty gel, Anna? Ay
bet all men see you fall in love with you, py yiminy!
ANNA--[Repelled--harshly.] Cut it! You talk same as they all do.
CHRIS--[Hurt--humbly.] Ain't no harm for your fader talk dat vay, Anna.
ANNA--[Forcing a short laugh.] No--course not. Only--it's funny to see
you and not remember nothing. You're like--a stranger.
CHRIS--[Sadly.] Ay s'pose. Ay never come home only few times ven you
vas kit in Sveden. You don't remember dat?
ANNA--No. [Resentfully.] But why didn't you never come home them days?
Why didn't you never come out West to see me?
CHRIS--[Slowly.] Ay tank, after your mo'der die, ven Ay vas avay on
voyage, it's better for you you don't never see me! [He sinks down in
the chair opposite her dejectedly--then turns to her--sadly.] Ay don't
know, Anna, vhy Ay never come home Sveden in ole year. Ay vant come
home end of every voyage. Ay vant see your mo'der, your two bro'der
before dey vas drowned, you ven you vas born--but--Ay--don't go. Ay
sign on oder ships--go South America, go Australia, go China, go every
port all over world many times--but Ay never go aboard ship sail for
Sveden. Ven Ay gat money for pay passage home as passenger den--[He
bows his head guiltily.] Ay forgat and Ay spend all money. Ven Ay tank
again, it's too late. [He sighs.] Ay don't know vhy but dat's vay with
most sailor fallar, Anna. Dat ole davil sea make dem crazy fools with
her dirty tricks. It's so.
ANNA--[Who has watched him keenly while he has been speaking--with a
trace of scorn in her voice.] Then you think the sea's to blame for
everything, eh? Well, you're still workin' on it, ain't you, spite of
all you used to write me about hating it. That dame was here told me
you was captain of a coal barge--and you wrote me you was yanitor of a
CHRIS--[Embarrassed but lying glibly.] Oh, Ay work on land long time as
yanitor. Yust short time ago Ay got dis yob cause Ay vas sick, need
ANNA--[Sceptically.] Sick? You? You'd never think it.
CHRIS--And, Anna, dis ain't real sailor yob. Dis ain't real boat on
sea. She's yust ole tub--like piece of land with house on it dat float.
Yob on her ain't sea yob. No. Ay don't gat yob on sea, Anna, if Ay die
first. Ay swear dat, ven your mo'der die. Ay keep my word, py yingo!
ANNA--[Perplexed.] Well, I can't see no difference. [Dismissing the
subject.] Speaking of being sick, I been there myself--yust out of the
hospital two weeks ago.
CHRIS--[Immediately all concern.] You, Anna? Py golly! [Anxiously.] You
feel better now, dough, don't you? You look little tired, dat's all!
ANNA--[Wearily.] I am. Tired to death. I need a long rest and I don't
see much chance of getting it.
CHRIS--What you mean, Anna?
ANNA--Well, when I made up my mind to come to see you, I thought you
was a yanitor--that you'd have a place where, maybe, if you didn't mind
having me, I could visit a while and rest up--till I felt able to get
back on the job again.
CHRIS--[Eagerly.] But Ay gat place, Anna--nice place. You rest all you
want, py yiminy! You don't never have to vork as nurse gel no more. You
stay with me, py golly!
ANNA--[Surprised and pleased by his eagerness--with a smile.] Then
you're really glad to see me--honest?
CHRIS--[Pressing one of her hands in both of his.] Anna, Ay like see
you like hell, Ay tal you! And don't you talk no more about gatting
yob. You stay with me. Ay don't see you for long time, you don't forgat
dat. [His voice trembles.] Ay'm gatting ole. Ay gat no one in vorld but
ANNA--[Touched--embarrassed by this unfamiliar emotion.] Thanks. It
sounds good to hear someone--talk to me that way. Say, though--if
you're so lonely--it's funny--why ain't you ever married again?
CHRIS--[Shaking his head emphatically--after a pause.] Ay love your
mo'der too much for ever do dat, Anna.
ANNA--[Impressed--slowly.] I don't remember nothing about her. What was
she like? Tell me.
CHRIS--Ay tal you all about everytang--and you tal me all tangs happen
to you. But not here now. Dis ain't good place for young gel, anyway.
Only no good sailor fallar come here for gat drunk. [He gets to his
feet quickly and picks up her bag.] You come with me, Anna. You need
lie down, gat rest.
ANNA--[Half rises to her feet, then sits down again.] Where're you
CHRIS--Come. Ve gat on board.
ANNA--[Disappointedly.] On board your barge, you mean? [Dryly.] Nix for
mine! [Then seeing his crestfallen look--forcing a smile.] Do you think
that's a good place for a young girl like me--a coal barge?
CHRIS--[Dully.] Yes, Ay tank. [He hesitates--then continues more and
more pleadingly.] You don't know how nice it's on barge, Anna. Tug come
and ve gat towed out on voyage--yust water all round, and sun, and
fresh air, and good grub for make you strong, healthy gel. You see many
tangs you don't see before. You gat moonlight at night, maybe; see
steamer pass; see schooner make sail--see everytang dat's pooty. You
need take rest like dat. You work too hard for young gel already. You
need vacation, yes!
ANNA--[Who has listened to him with a growing interest--with an
uncertain laugh.] It sounds good to hear you tell it. I'd sure like a
trip on the water, all right. It's the barge idea has me stopped. Well,
I'll go down with you and have a look--and maybe I'll take a chance.
Gee, I'd do anything once.
CHRIS--[Picks up her bag again.] Ye go, eh?
ANNA--What's the rush? Wait a second. [Forgetting the situation for a
moment, she relapses into the familiar form and flashes one of her
winning trade smiles at him.] Gee, I'm thirsty.
CHRIS--[Sets down her bag immediately--hastily.] Ay'm sorry, Anna. What
you tank you like for drink, eh?
ANNA--[Promptly.] I'll take a--[Then suddenly reminded--confusedly.] I
don't know. What'a they got here?
CHRIS--[With a grin.] Ay don't tank dey got much fancy drink for young
gel in dis place, Anna. Yinger ale--sas'prilla, maybe.
ANNA--[Forcing a laugh herself.] Make it sas, then.
CHRIS--[Coming up to her--with a wink.] Ay tal you, Anna, we calabrate,
yes--dis one time because we meet after many year. [In a half whisper,
embarrassedly.] Dey gat good port wine, Anna. It's good for you. Ay
tank--little bit--for give you appetite. It ain't strong, neider. One
glass don't go to your head, Ay promise.
ANNA--[With a half hysterical laugh.] All right! I'll take port.
CHRIS--Ay go gat him. [He goes out to the bar. As soon as the door
closes, Anna starts to her feet.]
ANNA--[Picking up her bag--half--aloud--stammeringly.] Gawd, I can't
stand this! I better beat it. [Then she lets her bag drop, stumbles
over to her chair again, and covering her face with her hands, begins
LARRY--[Putting down his paper as CHRIS comes up--with a grin.] Well,
who's the blond?
CHRIS--[Proudly.] Dat vas Anna, Larry.
LARRY--[In amazement.] Your daughter, Anna? [CHRIS nods. LARRY lets a
long, low whistle escape him and turns away embarrassedly.]
CHRIS--Don't you tank she vas pooty gel, Larry?
LARRY--[Rising to the occasion.] Sure! A peach!
CHRIS--You bet you! Give me drink for take back--one port vine for
Anna--she calabrate dis one time with me--and small beer for me.
LARRY--[As he gets the drinks.] Small beer for you, eh? She's reformin'
CHRIS--[Pleased.] You bet! [He takes the drinks. As she hears him
coming, ANNA hastily dries her eyes, tries to smile. CHRIS comes in and
sets the drinks down on the table--stares at her for a second
anxiously--patting her hand.] You look tired, Anna. Veil, Ay make you
take good long rest now. [Picking up his beer.] Come, you drink vine.
It put new life in you. [She lifts her glass--he grins.] Skoal, Anna!
You know dat Svedish word?
ANNA--Skoal! [Downing her port at a gulp like a drink of whiskey--her
lips trembling.] Skoal? Guess I know that word, all right, all right!
[The Curtain Falls]
SCENE--Ten days later. The stern of the deeply-laden barge, "SIMEON
WINTHROP," at anchor in the outer harbor of Provincetown, Mass. It is
ten o'clock at night. Dense fog shrouds the barge on all sides, and she
floats motionless on a calm. A lantern set up on an immense coil of
thick hawser sheds a dull, filtering light on objects near it--the
heavy steel bits for making fast the tow lines, etc. In the rear is the
cabin, its misty windows glowing wanly with the light of a lamp inside.
The chimney of the cabin stove rises a few feet above the roof. The
doleful tolling of bells, on Long Point, on ships at anchor, breaks the
silence at regular intervals.
As the curtain rises, ANNA is discovered standing near the coil of rope
on which the lantern is placed. She looks healthy, transformed, the
natural color has come back to her face. She has on a black, oilskin
coat, but wears no hat. She is staring out into the fog astern with an
expression of awed wonder. The cabin door is pushed open and CHRIS
appears. He is dressed in yellow oilskins--coat, pants, sou'wester--and
wears high sea-boots.
CHRIS--[The glare from the cabin still in his eyes, peers blinkmgly
astern.] Anna! [Receiving no reply, he calls again, this time with
apparent apprehension.] Anna!
ANNA--[With a start--making a gesture with her hand as if to impose
silence--in a hushed whisper.] Yes, here I am. What d'you want?
CHRIS--[Walks over to her--solicitously.] Don't you come turn in, Anna?
It's late--after four bells. It ain't good for you stay out here in
fog, Ay tank.
ANNA--Why not? [With a trace of strange exultation.] I love this fog!
Honest! It's so--[She hesitates, groping for a word.]--Funny and still.
I feel as if I was--out of things altogether.
CHRIS--[Spitting disgustedly.] Fog's vorst one of her dirty tricks, py
ANNA--[With a short laugh.] Beefing about the sea again? I'm getting
so's I love it, the little I've seen.
CHRIS--[Glancing at her moodily.] Dat's foolish talk, Anna. You see her
more, you don't talk dat vay. [Then seeing her irritation, he hastily
adopts a more cheerful tone.] But Ay'm glad you like it on barge. Ay'm
glad it makes you feel good again. [With a placating grin.] You like
live like dis alone with ole fa'der, eh?
ANNA--Sure I do. Everything's been so different from anything I ever
come across before. And now--this fog--Gee, I wouldn't have missed it
for nothing. I never thought living on ships was so different from
land. Gee, I'd just love to work on it, honest I would, if I was a man.
I don't wonder you always been a sailor.
CHRIS--[Vehemently.] Ay ain't sailor, Anna. And dis ain't real sea. You
only see nice part. [Then as she doesn't answer, he continues
hopefully.] Vell, fog lift in morning, Ay tank.
ANNA--[The exultation again in her voice.] I love it! I don't give a
rap if it never lifts! [CHRIS fidgets from one foot to the other
worriedly. ANNA continues slowly, after a pause.] It makes me feel
clean--out here--'s if I'd taken a bath.
CHRIS--[After a pause.] You better go in cabin--read book. Dat put you
ANNA--I don't want to sleep. I want to stay out here--and think about
CHRIS--[Walks away from her toward the cabin--then comes back.] You act
funny to-night, Anna.
ANNA--[Her voice rising angrily.] Say, what're you trying to do--make
things rotten? You been kind as kind can be to me and I certainly
appreciate it--only don't spoil it all now. [Then, seeing the hurt
expression on her father's face, she forces a smile.] Let's talk of
something else. Come. Sit down here. [She points to the coil of rope.]
CHRIS--[Sits down beside her with a sigh.] It's gatting pooty late in
night, Anna. Must be near five bells.
ANNA--[Interestedly.] Five bells? What time is that?
CHRIS--Half past ten.
ANNA--Funny I don't know nothing about sea talk--but those cousins was
always talking crops and that stuff. Gee, wasn't I sick of it--and of
CHRIS--You don't like live on farm, Anna?
ANNA--I've told you a hundred times I hated it. [Decidedly.] I'd rather
have one drop of ocean than all the farms in the world! Honest! And you
wouldn't like a farm, neither. Here's where you belong. [She makes a
sweeping gesture seaward.] But not on a coal barge. You belong on a
real ship, sailing all over the world.
CHRIS--[Moodily.] Ay've done dat many year, Anna, when Ay vas damn fool.
ANNA--[Disgustedly.] Oh, rats! [After a pause she speaks musingly.] Was
the men in our family always sailors--as far back as you know about?
CHRIS--[Shortly.] Yes. Damn fools! All men in our village on coast,
Sveden, go to sea. Ain't nutting else for dem to do. My fa'der die on
board ship in Indian Ocean. He's buried at sea. Ay don't never know him
only little bit. Den my tree bro'der, older'n me, dey go on ships. Den
Ay go, too. Den my mo'der she's left all 'lone. She die pooty quick
after dat--all 'lone. Ve vas all avay on voyage when she die. [He
pauses sadly.] Two my bro'der dey gat lost on fishing boat same like
your bro'ders vas drowned. My oder bro'der, he save money, give up sea,
den he die home in bed. He's only one dat ole davil don't kill.
[Defiantly.] But me, Ay bet you Ay die ashore in bed, too!
ANNA--Were all of 'em yust plain sailors?
CHEIS--Able body seaman, most of dem. [With a certain pride.] Dey vas
all smart seaman, too--A one. [Then after hesitating a moment--shyly.]
Ay vas bo'sun.
CHRIS--Dat's kind of officer.
ANNA--Gee, that was fine. What does he do?
CHRIS--[After a second's hesitation, plunged into gloom again by his
fear of her enthusiasm.] Hard vork all time. It's rotten, Ay tal you,
for go to sea. [Determined to disgust her with sea life--volubly.]
Dey're all fool fallar, dem fallar in our family. Dey all vork rotten
yob on sea for nutting, don't care nutting but yust gat big pay day in
pocket, gat drunk, gat robbed, ship avay again on oder voyage. Dey
don't come home, Dey don't do anytang like good man do. And dat ole
davil, sea, sooner, later she svallow dem up.
ANNA--[With an excited laugh.] Good sports, I'd call 'em. [Then
hastily.] But say--listen--did all the women of the family marry
CHRIS--[Eagerly--seeing a chance to drive home his point.] Yes--and
it's bad on dem like hell vorst of all. Dey don't see deir men only
once in long while. Dey set and vait all 'lone. And vhen deir boys
grows up, go to sea, dey sit and vait some more. [Vehemently.] Any gel
marry sailor, she's crazy fool! Your mo'der she tal you same tang if
she vas alive. [He relapses into an attitude of somber brooding.]
ANNA--[After a pause--dreamily.] Funny! I do feel sort of--nutty,
to-night. I feel old.
CHRIS--[Mystified. ] Old?
ANNA--Sure--like I'd been living a long, long time--out here in the
fog. [Frowning perplexedly.] I don't know how to tell you yust what I
mean. It's like I'd come home after a long visit away some place. It
all seems like I'd been here before lots of times--on boats--in this
same fog. [With a short laugh.] You must think I'm off my base.
CHRIS--[Gruffly.] Anybody feel funny dat vay in fog.
ANNA--[Persistently.] But why d'you s'pose I feel so--so--like I'd
found something I'd missed and been looking for--'s if this was the
right place for me to fit in? And I seem to have forgot--everything
that's happened--like it didn't matter no more. And I feel clean,
somehow--like you feel yust after you've took a bath. And I feel happy
for once--yes, honest!--happier than I ever been anywhere before! [As
CHRIS makes no comment but a heavy sigh, she continues wonderingly.]
It's nutty for me to feel that way, don't you think?
CHRIS--[A grim foreboding in his voice.] Ay tank Ay'm damn fool for
bring you on voyage, Anna.
ANNA--[Impressed by his tone.] You talk--nutty to-night yourself. You
act's if you was scared something was going to happen.
CHRIS--Only God know dat, Anna.
ANNA--[Half-mockingly.] Then it'll be Gawd's will, like the preachers
say-what does happen.
CHRIS--[Starts to his feet with fierce protest.] No! Dat ole davil,
sea, she ain't God! [In the pause of silence that comes after his
defiance a hail in a man's husky, exhausted voice comes faintly out of
the fog to port.] "Ahoy!" [CHRIS gives a startled exclamation.]
ANNA--[Jumping to her feet.] What's that?
CHRIS--[Who has regained his composure--sheepishly.] Py golly, dat
scare me for minute. It's only some fallar hail, Anna--loose his course
in fog. Must be fisherman's power boat. His engine break down, Ay
guess. [The "ahoy" comes again through the wall of fog, sounding much
nearer this time. CHRIS goes over to the port bulwark.] Sound from dis
side. She come in from open sea. [He holds his hands to his mouth,
megaphone-fashion, and shouts back.] Ahoy, dere! Vhat's trouble?
THE VOICE--[This time sounding nearer but up forward toward the bow.]
Heave a rope when we come alongside. [Then irritably.] Where are ye, ye
CHRIS--Ay hear dem rowing. Dey come up by bow, Ay tank. [Then shouting
out again.] Dis vay!
THE VOICE--Right ye are! [There is a muffled sound of oars in
ANNA--[Half to herself--resentfully.] Why don't that guy stay where he
CHRIS--[Hurriedly.] Ay go up bow. All hands asleep 'cepting fallar on
vatch. Ay gat heave line to dat fallar. [He picks up a coil of rope and
hurries off toward the bow. ANNA walks back toward the extreme stern as
if she wanted to remain as much isolated possible. She turns her back
on the proceedings and stares out into the fog. THE VOICE is heard
again shouting "Ahoy" and CHRIS answering "Dis way" Then there is a
pause--the murmur of excited voices--then the scuffling of feet. CHRIS
appears from around the cabin to port. He is supporting the limp form
of a man dressed in dungarees, holding one of the man's arms around his
neck. The deckhand, JOHNSON, a young, blond Swede, follows him, helping
along another exhausted man similar fashion. ANNA turns to look at
them. Chris stops for a second--volubly.] Anna! You come help, vill
you? You find vhiskey in cabin. Dese fallars need drink for fix dem.
Dey vas near dead.
ANNA--[Hurrying to him.] Sure--but who are they? What's the trouble?
CHRIS--Sailor fallars. Deir steamer gat wrecked. Dey been five days in
open boat--four fallars--only one left able stand up. Come, Anna. [She
precedes him into the cabin, holding the door open while he and JOHNSON
carry in their burdens. The door is shut, then opened again as JOHNSON
comes out. CHRIS'S voice shouts after him.] Go gat oder fallar, Yohnson.
JOHNSON--Yes, sir. [He goes. The door is closed again. MAT BURKE
stumbles in around the port side of the cabin. He moves slowly, feeling
his way uncertainly, keeping hold of the port bulwark with his right
hand to steady himself. He is stripped to the waist, has on nothing but
a pair of dirty dungaree pants. He is a powerful, broad-chested
six-footer, his face handsome in a hard, rough, bold, defiant way. He
is about thirty, in the full power of his heavy-muscled, immense
strength. His dark eyes are bloodshot and wild from sleeplessness. The
muscles of his arms and shoulders are lumped in knots and bunches, the
veins of his forearms stand out like blue cords. He finds his way to
the coil of hawser and sits down on it facing the cabin, his back
bowed, head in his hands, in an attitude of spent weariness.]
BURKE--[Talking aloud to himself.] Row, ye divil! Row! [Then lifting
his head and looking about him.] What's this tub? Well, we're safe
anyway--with the help of God. [He makes the sign of the cross
mechanically. JOHNSON comes along the deck to port, supporting the
fourth man, who is babbling to himself incoherently. BURKE glances at
him disdainfully.] Is it losing the small wits ye iver had, ye are?
Deck-scrubbing scut! [They pass him and go into the cabin, leaving the
door open. BURKE sags forward wearily.] I'm bate out--bate out entirely.
ANNA--[Comes out of the cabin with a tumbler quarter-full of whiskey in
her hand. She gives a start when she sees BURKE so near her, the light
from the open door falling full on him. Then, overcoming what is
evidently a feeling of repulsion, she comes up beside him.] Here you
are. Here's a drink for you. You need it, I guess.
BURKE--[Lifting his head slowly--confusedly.] Is it dreaming I am?
ANNA--[Half smiling.] Drink it and you'll find it ain't no dream.
BURKE--To hell with the drink--but I'll take it just the same. [He
tosses it down.] Aah! I'm needin' that--and 'tis fine stuff. [Looking
up at her with frank, grinning admiration.] But 'twasn't the booze I
meant when I said, was I dreaming. I thought you was some mermaid out
of the sea come to torment me. [He reaches out to feel of her arm.]
Aye, rale flesh and blood, divil a less.
ANNA--[Coldly. Stepping back from him.] Cut that.
BURKE--But tell me, isn't this a barge I'm on--or isn't it?
BURKE--And what is a fine handsome woman the like of you doing on this
ANNA--[Coldly.] Never you mind. [Then half-amused in spite of herself.]
Say, you're a great one, honest--starting right in kidding after what
you been through.
BURKE--[Delighted--proudly.] Ah, it was nothing--aisy for a rale man
with guts to him, the like of me. [He laughs.] All in the day's work,
darlin'. [Then, more seriously but still in a boastful tone,
confidentially.] But I won't be denying 'twas a damn narrow squeak.
We'd all ought to be with Davy Jones at the bottom of the sea, be
rights. And only for me, I'm telling you, and the great strength and
guts is in me, we'd be being scoffed by the fishes this minute!
ANNA--[Contemptuously.] Gee, you hate yourself, don't you? [Then
turning away from him indifferently.] Well, you'd better come in and
lie down. You must want to sleep.
BURKE--[Stung--rising unsteadily to his feet with chest out and head
thrown back--resentfully.] Lie down and sleep, is it? Divil a wink I'm
after having for two days and nights and divil a bit I'm needing now.
Let you not be thinking I'm the like of them three weak scuts come in
the boat with me. I could lick the three of them sitting down with one
hand tied behind me. They may be bate out, but I'm not--and I've been
rowing the boat with them lying in the bottom not able to raise a hand
for the last two days we was in it. [Furiously, as he sees this is
making no impression on her.] And I can lick all hands on this tub, wan
be wan, tired as I am!
ANNA--[Sarcastically.] Gee, ain't you a hard guy! [Then, with a trace
of sympathy, as she notices him swaying from weakness.] But never mind
that fight talk. I'll take your word for all you've said. Go on and sit
down out here, anyway, if I can't get you to come inside. [He sits down
weakly.] You're all in, you might as well own up to it.
BURKE--[Fiercely.] The hell I am!
ANNA--[Coldly.] Well, be stubborn then for all I care. And I must say I
don't care for your language. The men I know don't pull that rough
stuff when ladies are around.
BURKE--[Getting unsteadily to his feet again--in a rage.] Ladies!
Ho-ho! Divil mend you! Let you not be making game of me. What would
ladies be doing on this bloody hulk? [As ANNA attempts to go to the
cabin, he lurches into her path.] Aisy, now! You're not the old
Square-head's woman, I suppose you'll be telling me next--living in his
cabin with him, no less! [Seeing the cold, hostile expression on ANNA's
face, he suddenly changes his tone to one of boisterous joviality.] But
I do be thinking, iver since the first look my eyes took at you, that
it's a fool you are to be wasting yourself--a fine, handsome girl--on a
stumpy runt of a man like that old Swede. There's too many strapping
great lads on the sea would give their heart's blood for one kiss of
ANNA--[Scornfully.] Lads like you, eh?
BURKE--[Grinning.] Ye take the words out o' my mouth. I'm the proper
lad for you, if it's meself do be saying it. [With a quick movement he
puts his arms about her waist.] Whisht, now, me daisy! Himself's in the
cabin. It's wan of your kisses I'm needing to take the tiredness from
me bones. Wan kiss, now! [He presses her to him and attempts to kiss
ANNA--[Struggling fiercely.] Leggo of me, you big mut! [She pushes him
away with all her might. BURKE, weak and tottering, is caught off his
guard. He is thrown down backward and, in falling, hits his head a hard
thump against the bulwark. He lies there still, knocked out for the
moment. ANNA stands for a second, looking down at him frightenedly.
Then she kneels down beside him and raises his head to her knee,
staring into his face anxiously for some sign of life.]
BURKE--[Stirring a bit--mutteringly.] God stiffen it! [He opens his
eyes and blinks up at her with vague wonder.]
ANNA--[Letting his head sink back on the deck, rising to her feet with
a sigh of relief.] You're coming to all right, eh? Gee, I was scared
for a moment I'd killed you.
BURKE--[With difficulty rising to a sitting position--scornfully.]
Killed, is it? It'd take more than a bit of a blow to crack my thick
skull. [Then looking at her with the most intense admiration.] But,
glory be, it's a power of strength is in them two fine arms of yours.
There's not a man in the world can say the same as you, that he seen
Mat Burke lying at his feet and him dead to the world.
ANNA--[Rather remorsefully.] Forget it. I'm sorry it happened, see?
[BURKE rises and sits on bench. Then severely.] Only you had no right
to be getting fresh with me. Listen, now, and don't go getting any more
wrong notions. I'm on this barge because I'm making a trip with my
father. The captain's my father. Now you know.
BURKE--The old square--the old Swede, I mean?
BURKE--[Rising--peering at her face.] Sure I might have known it, if I
wasn't a bloody fool from birth. Where else'd you get that fine yellow
hair is like a golden crown on your head.
ANNA--[With an amused laugh.] Say, nothing stops you, does it? [Then
attempting a severe tone again.] But don't you think you ought to be
apologizing for what you said and done yust a minute ago, instead of
trying to kid me with that mush?
BURKE--[Indignantly.] Mush! [Then bending forward toward her with very
intense earnestness.] Indade and I will ask your pardon a thousand
times--and on my knees, if ye like. I didn't mean a word of what I said
or did. [Resentful again for a second.] But divil a woman in all the
ports of the world has iver made a great fool of me that way before!
ANNA--[With amused sarcasm.] I see. You mean you're a lady-killer and
they all fall for you.
BURKE--[Offended. Passionately.] Leave off your fooling! 'Tis that is
after getting my back up at you. [Earnestly.] 'Tis no lie I'm telling
you about the women. [Ruefully.] Though it's a great jackass I am to be
mistaking you, even in anger, for the like of them cows on the
waterfront is the only women I've met up with since I was growed to a
man. [As ANNA shrinks away from him at this, he hurries on pleadingly.]
I'm a hard, rough man and I'm not fit, I'm thinking, to be kissing the
shoe-soles of a fine, dacent girl the like of yourself. 'Tis only the
ignorance of your kind made me see you wrong. So you'll forgive me, for
the love of God, and let us be friends from this out. [Passionately.]
I'm thinking I'd rather be friends with you than have my wish for
anything else in the world. [He holds out his hand to her shyly.]
ANNA--[Looking queerly at him, perplexed and worried, but moved and
pleased in spite of herself--takes his hand uncertainly.] Sure.
BURKE--[With boyish delight.] God bless you! [In his excitement he
squeezes her hand tight.]
BURKE--[Hastily dropping her hand--ruefully.] Your pardon, Miss. 'Tis a
clumsy ape I am. [Then simply--glancing down his arm proudly.] It's
great power I have in my hand and arm, and I do be forgetting it at
ANNA--[Nursing her crushed hand and glancing at his arm, not without a
trace of his own admiration.] Gee, you're some strong, all right.
BURKE--[Delighted.] It's no lie, and why shouldn't I be, with me
shoveling a million tons of coal in the stokeholes of ships since I was
a lad only. [He pats the coil of hawser invitingly.] Let you sit down,
now, Miss, and I'll be telling you a bit of myself, and you'll be
telling me a bit of yourself, and in an hour we'll be as old friends as
if we was born in the same house. [He pulls at her sleeve shyly.] Sit
down now, if you plaze.
ANNA--[With a half laugh.] Well--[She sits down.] But we won't talk
about me, see? You tell me about yourself and about the wreck.
BURKE--[Flattered.] I'll tell you, surely. But can I be asking you one
question. Miss, has my head in a puzzle?
ANNA--[Guardedly.] Well--I dunno--what is it?
BURKE--What is it you do when you're not taking a trip with the Old
Man? For I'm thinking a fine girl the like of you ain't living always
on this tub.
ANNA--[Uneasily.] No--of course I ain't. [She searches his face
suspiciously, afraid there may be some hidden insinuation in his words.
Seeing his simple frankness, she goes on confidently.] Well, I'll tell
you. I'm a governess, see? I take care of kids for people and learn
BURKE--[Impressed.] A governess, is it? You must be smart, surely.
ANNA--But let's not talk about me. Tell me about the wreck, like you
promised me you would.
BURKE--[Importantly.] 'Twas this way, Miss. Two weeks out we ran into
the divil's own storm, and she sprang wan hell of a leak up for'ard.
The skipper was hoping to make Boston before another blow would finish
her, but ten days back we met up with another storm the like of the
first, only worse. Four days we was in it with green seas raking over
her from bow to stern. That was a terrible time, God help us.
[Proudly.] And if 'twasn't for me and my great strength, I'm telling
you--and it's God's truth--there'd been mutiny itself in the stokehole.
'Twas me held them to it, with a kick to wan and a clout to another,
and they not caring a damn for the engineers any more, but fearing a
clout of my right arm more than they'd fear the sea itself. [He glances
at her anxiously, eager for her approval.]
ANNA--[Concealing a smile--amused by this boyish boasting of his.] You
did some hard work, didn't you?
BURKE--[Promptly.] I did that! I'm a divil for sticking it out when
them that's weak give up. But much good it did anyone! 'Twas a mad,
fightin' scramble in the last seconds with each man for himself. I
disremember how it come about, but there was the four of us in wan boat
and when we was raised high on a great wave I took a look about and
divil a sight there was of ship or men on top of the sea.
ANNA--[In a subdued voice.] Then all the others was drowned?
BURKE--They was, surely.
ANNA--[With a shudder.] What a terrible end!
BURKE--[Turns to her.] A terrible end for the like of them swabs does
live on land, maybe. But for the like of us does be roaming the seas, a
good end, I'm telling you--quick and clane.
ANNA--[Struck by the word.] Yes, clean. That's yust the word for--all
of it--the way it makes me feel.
BURKE--The sea, you mean? [Interestedly.] I'm thinking you have a bit
of it in your blood, too. Your Old Man wasn't only a barge rat--begging
your pardon--all his life, by the cut of him.
ANNA--No, he was bo'sun on sailing ships for years. And all the men on
both sides of the family have gone to sea as far back as he remembers,
he says. All the women have married sailors, too.
BURKE--[With intense satisfaction.] Did they, now? They had spirit in
them. It's only on the sea you'd find rale men with guts is fit to wed
with fine, high-tempered girls [Then he adds half-boldly] the like of
ANNA--[With a laugh.] There you go kiddin' again. [Then seeing his hurt
expression--quickly.] But you was going to tell me about yourself.
You're Irish, of course I can tell that.
BURKE--[Stoutly.] Yes, thank God, though I've not seen a sight of it in
fifteen years or more.
ANNA--[Thoughtfully.] Sailors never do go home hardly, do they? That's
what my father was saying.
BURKE--He wasn't telling no lie. [With sudden melancholy.] It's a hard
and lonesome life, the sea is. The only women you'd meet in the ports
of the world who'd be willing to speak you a kind word isn't woman at
all. You know the kind I mane, and they're a poor, wicked lot, God
forgive them. They're looking to steal the money from you only.
ANNA--[Her face averted--rising to her feet--agitatedly.] I think--I
guess I'd better see what's doing inside.
BURKE--[Afraid he has offended her--beseechingly.] Don't go, I'm
saying! Is it I've given you offence with my talk of the like of them?
Don't heed it at all! I'm clumsy in my wits when it comes to talking
proper with a girl the like of you. And why wouldn't I be? Since the
day I left home for to go to sea punching coal, this is the first time
I've had a word with a rale, dacent woman. So don't turn your back on
me now, and we beginning to be friends.
ANNA--[Turning to him again--forcing a smile.] I'm not sore at you,
BURKE--[Gratefully.] God bless you!
ANNA--[Changing the subject abruptly.] But if you honestly think the
sea's such a rotten life, why don't you get out of it?
BURKE--[Surprised.] Work on land, is it? [She nods. He spits
scornfully.] Digging spuds in the muck from dawn to dark, I suppose?
[Vehemently.] I wasn't made for it, Miss.
ANNA--[With a laugh.] I thought you'd say that.
BURKE--[Argumentatively.] But there's good jobs and bad jobs at sea,
like there'd be on land. I'm thinking if it's in the stokehole of a
proper liner I was, I'd be able to have a little house and be home to
it wan week out of four. And I'm thinking that maybe then I'd have the
luck to find a fine dacent girl--the like of yourself, now--would be
willing to wed with me.
ANNA--[Turning away from him with a short laugh--uneasily.] Why, sure.
BURKE--[Edging up close to her--exultantly.] Then you think a girl the
like of yourself might maybe not mind the past at all but only be
seeing the good herself put in me?
ANNA--[In the same tone.] Why, sure.
BURKE--[Passionately.] She'd not be sorry for it, I'd take my oath!
'Tis no more drinking and roving about I'd be doing then, but giving my
pay day into her hand and staying at home with her as meek as a lamb
each night of the week I'd be in port.
ANNA--[Moved in spite of herself and troubled by this half-concealed
proposal--with a forced laugh.] All you got to do is find the girl.
BURKE--I have found her!
ANNA--[Half-frightenedly--trying to laugh it off.] You have? When? I
thought you was saying--
BURKE--[Boldly and forcefully.] This night. [Hanging his head--humbly.]
If she'll be having me. [Then raising his eyes to hers--simply.] 'Tis
you I mean.
ANNA--[Is held by his eyes for a moment--then shrinks back from him
with a strange, broken laugh.] Say--are you--going crazy? Are you
trying to kid me? Proposing--to me!--for Gawd's sake!--on such short
acquaintance? [CHRIS comes out of the cabin and stands staring
blinkingly astern. When he makes out ANNA in such intimate proximity to
this strange sailor, an angry expression comes over his face.]
BURKE--[Following her--with fierce, pleading insistence.] I'm telling
you there's the will of God in it that brought me safe through the
storm and fog to the wan spot in the world where you was! Think of that
now, and isn't it queer--
CHRIS--Anna! [He comes toward them, raging, his fists clenched.] Anna,
you gat in cabin, you hear!
ANNA--[All her emotions immediately transformed into resentment at his
bullying tone.] Who d'you think you're talking to--a slave?
CHRIS--[Hurt--his voice breaking--pleadingly.] You need gat rest, Anna.
You gat sleep. [She does not move. He turns on BURKE furiously.] What
you doing here, you sailor fallar? You ain't sick like oders. You gat
in fo'c's'tle. Dey give you bunk. [Threateningly.] You hurry, Ay tal
ANNA--[Impulsively.] But he is sick. Look at him. He can hardly stand
BURKE--[Straightening and throwing out his chest--with a bold laugh.]
Is it giving me orders ye are, me bucko? Let you look out, then! With
wan hand, weak as I am, I can break ye in two and fling the pieces over
the side--and your crew after you. [Stopping abruptly.] I was
forgetting. You're her Old Man and I'd not raise a fist to you for the
world. [His knees sag, he wavers and seems about to fall. ANNA utters
an exclamation of alarm and hurries to his slde.]
ANNA--[Taking one of his arms over her shoulder.] Come on in the cabin.
You can have my bed if there ain't no other place.
BURKE--[With jubilant happiness--as they proceed toward the cabin.]
Glory be to God, is it holding my arm about your neck you are! Anna!
Anna! Sure it's a sweet name is suited to you.
ANNA--[Guiding him carefully.] Sssh! Sssh!
BURKE--Whisht, is it? Indade, and I'll not. I'll be roaring it out like
a fog horn over the sea! You're the girl of the world and we'll be
marrying soon and I don't care who knows it!
ANNA--[As she guides him through the cabin door.] Ssshh! Never mind
that talk. You go to sleep. [They go out of sight in the cabin. CHRIS,
who has been listening to BURKE's last words with open-mouthed
amazement stands looking after them helplessly.]
CHRIS--[Turns suddenly and shakes his fist out at the sea--with bitter
hatred.] Dat's your dirty trick, damn ole davil, you! [Then in a frenzy
of rage.] But, py God, you don't do dat! Not while Ay'm living! No, py
God, you don't!
[The Curtain Falls]
SCENE--The interior of the cabin on the barge, "Simeon Winthrop" (at
dock in Boston)--a narrow, low-ceilinged compartment the walls of which
are painted a light brown with white trimmings. In the rear on the
left, a door leading to the sleeping quarters. In the far left corner,
a large locker-closet, painted white, on the door of which a mirror
hangs on a nail. In the rear wall, two small square windows and a door
opening out on the deck toward the stern. In the right wall, two more
windows looking out on the port deck. White curtains, clean and stiff,
are at the windows. A table with two cane-bottomed chairs stands in the
center of the cabin. A dilapidated, wicker rocker, painted brown, is
also by the table.
It is afternoon of a sunny day about a week later. From the harbor and
docks outside, muffled by the closed door and windows, comes the sound
of steamers' whistles and the puffing snort of the donkey engines of
some ship unloading nearby.
As the curtain rises, CHRIS and ANNA are discovered. ANNA is seated in
the rocking-chair by the table, with a newspaper in her hands. She is
not reading but staring straight in front of her. She looks unhappy,
troubled, frowningly concentrated on her thoughts. CHRIS wanders about
the room, casting quick, uneasy side glances at her face, then stopping
to peer absentmindedly out of the window. His attitude betrays an
overwhelming, gloomy anxiety which has him on tenter hooks. He pretends
to be engaged in setting things ship-shape, but this occupation is
confined to picking up some object, staring at it stupidly for a
second, then aimlessly putting it down again. He clears his throat and
starts to sing to himself in a low, doleful voice: "My Yosephine, come
aboard de ship. Long time Ay wait for you."
ANNA--[Turning on him, sarcastically.] I'm glad someone's feeling good.
[Wearily.] Gee, I sure wish we was out of this dump and back in New
CHRIS--[With a sigh.] Ay'm glad vhen ve sail again, too. [Then, as she
makes no comment, he goes on with a ponderous attempt at sarcasm.] Ay
don't see vhy you don't like Boston, dough. You have good time here, Ay
tank. You go ashore all time, every day and night veek ve've been here.
You go to movies, see show, gat all kinds fun--[His eyes hard with
hatred.] All with that damn Irish fallar!
ANNA--[With weary scorn.] Oh, for heaven's sake, are you off on that
again? Where's the harm in his taking me around? D'you want me to sit
all day and night in this cabin with you--and knit? Ain't I got a right
to have as good a time as I can?
CHRIS--It ain't right kind of fun--not with that fallar, no.
ANNA--I been back on board every night by eleven, ain't I? [Then struck
by some thought--looks at him with keen suspicion--with rising anger.]
Say, look here, what d'you mean by what you yust said?
CHRIS--[Hastily.] Nutting but what Ay say, Anna.
ANNA--You said "ain't right" and you said it funny. Say, listen here,
you ain't trying to insinuate that there's something wrong between us,
CHRIS--[Horrified.] No, Anna! No, Ay svear to God, Ay never tank dat!
ANNA--[Mollified by his very evident sincerity--sitting down again.]
Well, don't you never think it neither if you want me ever to speak to
you again. [Angrily again.] If I ever dreamt you thought that, I'd get
the hell out of this barge so quick you couldn't see me for dust.
CHRIS--[Soothingly.] Ay wouldn't never dream--[Then, after a second's
pause, reprovingly.] You vas gatting learn to svear. Dat ain't nice for
young gel, you tank?
ANNA--[With a faint trace of a smile.] Excuse me. You ain't used to
such language, I know. [Mockingly.] That's what your taking me to sea
has done for me.
CHRIS--[Indignantly.] No, it ain't me. It's dat damn sailor fallar
learn you bad tangs.
ANNA--He ain't a sailor. He's a stoker.
CHRIS--[Forcibly.] Dat vas million times vorse, Ay tal you! Dem fallars
dat vork below shoveling coal vas de dirtiest, rough gang of no-good
fallars in vorld!
ANNA--I'd hate to hear you say that to Mat.
CHRIS--Oh, Ay tal him same tang. You don't gat it in head Ay'm scared
of him yust 'cause he vas stronger'n Ay vas. [Menacingly.] You don't
gat for fight with fists with dem fallars. Dere's oder vay for fix him.
ANNA--[Glancing at him with sudden alarm.] What d'you mean?
ANNA--You'd better not. I wouldn't start no trouble with him if I was
you. He might forget some time that you was old and my father--and then
you'd be out of luck.
CHRIS--[With smouldering hatred.] Vell, yust let him! Ay'm ole bird
maybe, but Ay bet Ay show him trick or two.
ANNA--[Suddenly changing her tone--persuasively.] Aw come on, be good.
What's eating you, anyway? Don't you want no one to be nice to me
CHRIS--[Placated--coming to her--eagerly.] Yes, Ay do, Anna--only not
fallar on sea. But Ay like for you marry steady fallar got good yob on
land. You have little home in country all your own--
ANNA--[Rising to her feet--brusquely.] Oh, cut it out! [Scornfully.]
Little home in the country! I wish you could have seen the little home
in the country where you had me in jail till I was sixteen! [With
rising irritation.] Some day you're going to get me so mad with that
talk, I'm going to turn loose on you and tell you--a lot of things
that'll open your eyes.
CHRIS--[Alarmed.] Ay don't vant--
ANNA--I know you don't; but you keep on talking yust the same.
CHRIS--Ay don't talk no more den, Anna.
ANNA--Then promise me you'll cut out saying nasty things about Mat
Burke every chance you get.
CHRIS--[Evasive and suspicious.] Vhy? You like dat fallar--very much,
ANNA--Yes, I certainly do! He's a regular man, no matter what faults
he's got. One of his fingers is worth all the hundreds of men I met out
CHRIS--[His face darkening.] Maybe you tank you love him, den?
ANNA--[Defiantly.] What of it if I do?
CHRIS--[Scowling and forcing out the words.] Maybe--you tank you--marry
ANNA--[Shaking her head.] No! [CHRIS' face lights up with relief. ANNA
continues slowly, a trace of sadness in her voice.] If I'd met him four
years ago--or even two years ago--I'd have jumped at the chance, I tell
you that straight. And I would now--only he's such a simple guy--a big
kid--and I ain't got the heart to fool him. [She breaks off suddenly.]
But don't never say again he ain't good enough for me. It's me ain't
good enough for him.
CHRIS--[Snorts scornfully.] Py yiminy, you go crazy, Ay tank!
ANNA--[With a mournful laugh.] Well, I been thinking I was myself the
last few days. [She goes and takes a shawl from a hook near the door
and throws it over her shoulders.] Guess I'll take a walk down to the
end of the dock for a minute and see what's doing. I love to watch the
ships passing. Mat'll be along before long, I guess. Tell him where I
am, will you?
CHRIS--[Despondently.] All right, Ay tal him. [ANNA goes out the
doorway on rear. CHRIS follows her out and stands on the deck outside
for a moment looking after her. Then he comes back inside and shuts the
door. He stands looking out of the window--mutters--"Dirty die davil,
you." Then he goes to the table, sets the cloth straight mechanically,
picks up the newspaper ANNA has let fall to the floor and sits down in
the rocking-chair. He stares at the paper for a while, then puts it on
table, holds his head in his hands and sighs drearily. The noise of a
man's heavy footsteps comes from the deck outside and there is a loud
knock on the door. CHRIS starts, makes a move as if to get up and go to
the door, then thinks better of it and sits still. The knock is
repeated--then as no answer comes, the door is flung open and MAT BURKE
appears. CHRIS scowls at the intruder and his hand instinctively goes
back to the sheath knife on his hip. BURKE is dressed up--wears a cheap
blue suit, a striped cotton shirt with a black tie, and black shoes
newly shined. His face is beaming with good humor.]
BURKE--[As he sees CHRIS--in a jovial tone of mockery.] Well, God bless
who's here! [He bends down and squeezes his huge form through the
narrow doorway.] And how is the world treating you this afternoon,
CHRIS--[Sullenly.] Pooty goot--if it ain't for some fallars.
BURKE--[With a grin.] Meaning me, do you? [He laughs.] Well, if you
ain't the funny old crank of a man! [Then soberly.] Where's herself?
[CHRIS sits dumb, scowling, his eyes averted. BURKE is irritated by
this silence.] Where's Anna, I'm after asking you?
CHRIS--[Hesitating--then grouchily.] She go down end of dock.
BURKE--I'll be going down to her, then. But first I'm thinking I'll
take this chance when we're alone to have a word with you. [He sits
down opposite CHRIS at the table and leans over toward him.] And that
word is soon said. I'm marrying your Anna before this day is out, and
you might as well make up your mind to it whether you like it or no.
CHRIS--[Glaring at him with hatred and forcing a scornful laugh.]
Ho-ho! Dat's easy for say!
BURKE--You mean I won't? [Scornfully.] Is it the like of yourself will
stop me, are you thinking?
CHRIS--Yes, Ay stop it, if it come to vorst.
BURKE--[With scornful pity.] God help you!
CHRIS--But ain't no need for me do dat. Anna--
BURKE--[Smiling confidently.] Is it Anna you think will prevent me?
BURKE--And I'm telling you she'll not. She knows I'm loving her, and
she loves me the same, and I know it.
CHRIS--Ho-ho! She only have fun. She make big fool of you, dat's all!
BURKE--[Unshaken--pleasantly.] That's a lie in your throat, divil mend
CHRIS--No, it ain't lie. She tal me yust before she go out she never
marry fallar like you.
BURKE--I'll not believe it. 'Tis a great old liar you are, and a divil
to be making a power of trouble if you had your way. But 'tis not
trouble I'm looking for, and me sitting down here. [Earnestly.] Let us
be talking it out now as man to man. You're her father, and wouldn't it
be a shame for us to be at each other's throats like a pair of dogs,
and I married with Anna. So out with the truth, man alive. What is it
you're holding against me at all?
CHRIS--[A bit placated, in spite of himself, by BURKE'S evident
sincerity--but puzzled and suspicious.] Vell--Ay don't vant for Anna
gat married. Listen, you fallar. Ay'm a ole man. Ay don't see Anna for
fifteen year. She vas all Ay gat in vorld. And now ven she come on
first trip--you tank Ay vant her leave me 'lone again?
BURKE--[Heartily.] Let you not be thinking I have no heart at all for
the way you'd be feeling.
CHRIS--[Astonished and encouraged--trying to plead persuasively.] Den
you do right tang, eh? You ship avay again, leave Anna alone.
[Cajolingly.] Big fallar like you dat's on sea, he don't need vife. He
gat new gel in every port, you know dat.
BURKE--[Angry for a second.] God stiffen you! [Then controlling
himself--calmly.] I'll not be giving you the lie on that. But divil
take you, there's a time comes to every man, on sea or land, that isn't
a born fool, when he's sick of the lot of them cows, and wearing his
heart out to meet up with a fine dacent girl, and have a home to call
his own and be rearing up children in it. 'Tis small use you're asking
me to leave Anna. She's the wan woman of the world for me, and I can't
live without her now, I'm thinking.
CHRIS--You forgat all about her in one veek out of port, Ay bet you!
BURKE--You don't know the like I am. Death itself wouldn't make me
forget her. So let you not be making talk to me about leaving her. I'll
not, and be damned to you! It won't be so bad for you as you'd make out
at all. She'll be living here in the States, and her married to me. And
you'd be seeing her often so--a sight more often than ever you saw her
the fifteen years she was growing up in the West. It's quare you'd be
the one to be making great trouble about her leaving you when you never
laid eyes on her once in all them years.
CHRIS--[Guiltily.] Ay taught it vas better Anna stay avay, grow up
inland where she don't ever know ole davil, sea.
BURKE--[Scornfully.] Is it blaming the sea for your troubles ye are
again, God help you? Well, Anna knows it now. 'Twas in her blood,
CHRIS--And Ay don't vant she ever know no-good fallar on sea--
BURKE--She knows one now.
CHRIS--[Banging the table with his fist--furiously.] Dat's yust it!
Dat's yust what you are--no-good, sailor fallar! You tank Ay lat her
life be made sorry by you like her mo'der's vas by me! No, Ay svear!
She don't marry you if Ay gat kill you first!
BURKE--[Looks at him a moment, in astonishment--then laughing
uproariously.] Ho-ho! Glory be to God, it's bold talk you have for a
stumpy runt of a man!
CHRIS--[Threateningly.] Vell--you see!
BURKE--[With grinning defiance.] I'll see, surely! I'll see myself and
Anna married this day, I'm telling you! [Then with contemptuous
exasperation.] It's quare fool's blather you have about the sea done
this and the sea done that. You'd ought to be shamed to be saying the
like, and you an old sailor yourself. I'm after hearing a lot of it
from you and a lot more that Anna's told me you do be saying to her,
and I'm thinking it's a poor weak thing you are, and not a man at all!
CHRIS--[Darkly.] You see if Ay'm man--maybe quicker'n you tank.
BURKE--[Contemptuously.] Yerra, don't be boasting. I'm thinking 'tis
out of your wits you've got with fright of the sea. You'd be wishing
Anna married to a farmer, she told me. That'd be a swate match, surely!
Would you have a fine girl the like of Anna lying down at nights with a
muddy scut stinking of pigs and dung? Or would you have her tied for
life to the like of them skinny, shrivelled swabs does be working in
CHRIS--Dat's lie, you fool!
BURKE--'Tis not. 'Tis your own mad notions I'm after telling. But you
know the truth in your heart, if great fear of the sea has made you a
liar and coward itself. [Pounding the table.] The sea's the only life
for a man with guts in him isn't afraid of his own shadow! 'Tis only on
the sea he's free, and him roving the face of the world, seeing all
things, and not giving a damn for saving up money, or stealing from his
friends, or any of the black tricks that a landlubber'd waste his life
on. 'Twas yourself knew it once, and you a bo'sun for years.
CHRIS--[Sputtering with rage.] You vas crazy fool, Ay tal you!
BURKE--You've swallowed the anchor. The sea give you a clout once
knocked you down, and you're not man enough to get up for another, but
lie there for the rest of your life howling bloody murder. [Proudly.]
Isn't it myself the sea has nearly drowned, and me battered and bate
till I was that close to hell I could hear the flames roaring, and
never a groan out of me till the sea gave up and it seeing the great
strength and guts of a man was in me?
CHRIS--[Scornfully.] Yes, you vas hell of fallar, hear you tal it!
BURKE--[Angrily.] You'll be calling me a liar once too often, me old
bucko! Wasn't the whole story of it and my picture itself in the
newspapers of Boston a week back? [Looking CHRIS up and down
belittlingly.] Sure I'd like to see you in the best of your youth do
the like of what I done in the storm and after. 'Tis a mad lunatic,
screeching with fear, you'd be this minute!
CHRIS--Ho-ho! You vas young fool! In ole years when Ay was on
windyammer, Ay vas through hundred storms vorse'n dat! Ships vas ships
den--and men dat sail on dem vas real men. And now what you gat on
steamers? You gat fallars on deck don't know ship from mudscow. [With a
meaning glance at BURKE.] And below deck you gat fallars yust know how
for shovel coal--might yust as veil vork on coal vagon ashore!
BURKE--[Stung--angrily.] Is it casting insults at the men in the
stokehole ye are, ye old ape? God stiffen you! Wan of them is worth any
ten stock-fish-swilling Square-heads ever shipped on a windbag!
CHRIS--[His face working with rage, his hand going back to the
sheath-knife on his hip.] Irish svine, you!
BURKE--[Tauntingly.] Don't ye like the Irish, ye old babboon? 'Tis that
you're needing in your family, I'm telling you--an Irishman and a man
of the stokehole--to put guts in it so that you'll not be having
grandchildren would be fearful cowards and jackasses the like of
CHRIS--[Half rising from his chair--in a voice choked with rage.] You
BURKE--[Watching him intently--a mocking smile on his lips.] And it's
that you'll be having, no matter what you'll do to prevent; for Anna
and me'll be married this day, and no old fool the like of you will
stop us when I've made up my mind.
CHRIS--[With a hoarse cry.] You don't! [He throws himself at BURKE,
knife in hand, knocking his chair over backwards. BURKE springs to his
feet quickly in time to meet the attack. He laughs with the pure love
of battle. The old Swede is like a child in his hands. BURKE does not
strike or mistreat him in any way, but simply twists his right hand
behind his back and forces the knife from his fingers. He throws the
knife into a far corner of the room--tauntingly.]
BURKE--Old men is getting childish shouldn't play with knives. [Holding
the struggling CHRIS at arm's length--with a sudden rush of anger,
drawing back his fist.] I've half a mind to hit you a great clout will
put sense in your square head. Kape off me now, I'm warning you! [He
gives CHRIS a push with the flat of his hand which sends the old Swede
staggering back against the cabin wall, where he remains standing,
panting heavily, his eyes fixed on BURKE with hatred, as if he were
only collecting his strength to rush at him again.]
BURKE--[Warningly.] Now don't be coming at me again, I'm saying, or
I'll flatten you on the floor with a blow, if 'tis Anna's father you
are itself! I've no patience left for you. [Then with an amused laugh.]
Well, 'tis a bold old man you are just the same, and I'd never think it
was in you to come tackling me alone. [A shadow crosses the cabin
windows. Both men start. ANNA appears in the doorway.]
ANNA--[With pleased surprise as she sees BURKE.] Hello, Mat. Are you
here already? I was down--[She stops, looking from one to the other,
sensing immediately that something has happened.] What's up? [Then
noticing the overturned chair--in alarm.] How'd that chair get knocked
over? [Turning on BURKE reproachfully.] You ain't been fighting with
him, Mat--after you promised?
BURKE--[His old self again.] I've not laid a hand on him, Anna. [He
goes and picks up the chair, then turning on the still questioning
ANNA--with a reassuring smile.] Let you not be worried at all. 'Twas
only a bit of an argument we was having to pass the time till you'd
ANNA--It must have been some argument when you got to throwing chairs.
[She turns on CHRIS.] Why don't you say something? What was it about?
CHRIS--[Relaxing at last--avoiding her eyes--sheepishly.] Ve vas
talking about ships and fallars on sea.
ANNA--[With a relieved smile.] Oh--the old stuff, eh?
BURKE--[Suddenly seeming to come to a bold decision--with a defiant
grin at CHRIS.] He's not after telling you the whole of it. We was
arguing about you mostly.
ANNA--[With a frown.] About me?
BURKE--And we'll be finishing it out right here and now in your
presence if you're willing. [He sits down at the left of table.]
ANNA--[Uncertainly--looking from him to her father.] Sure. Tell me what
it's all about.
CHRIS--[Advancing toward the table--protesting to BURKE.] No! You don't
do dat, you! You tal him you don't vant for hear him talk, Anna.
ANNA--But I do. I want this cleared up.
CHRIS--[Miserably afraid now.] Vell, not now, anyvay. You vas going
ashore, yes? You ain't got time--
ANNA--[Firmly.] Yes, right here and now. [She turns to BURKE.] You tell
me, Mat, since he don't want to.
BURKE--[Draws a deep breath--then plunges in boldly.] The whole of it's
in a few words only. So's he'd make no mistake, and him hating the
sight of me, I told him in his teeth I loved you. [Passionately.] And
that's God truth, Anna, and well you know it!
CHRIS--[Scornfully--forcing a laugh.] Ho-ho! He tal same tang to gel
every port he go!
ANNA--[Shrinking from her father with repulsion--resentfully.] Shut up,
can't you? [Then to BURKE--feelingly.] I know it's true, Mat. I don't
mind what he says.
BURKE--[Humbly grateful.] God bless you!
ANNA--And then what?
BURKE--And then--[Hesitatingly.] And then I said--[He looks at her
pleadingly.] I said I was sure--I told him I thought you have a bit of
love for me, too. [Passionately.] Say you do, Anna! Let you not destroy
me entirely, for the love of God! [He grasps both her hands in his two.]
ANNA--[Deeply moved and troubled--forcing a trembling laugh.] So you
told him that, Mat? No wonder he was mad. [Forcing out the words.]
Well, maybe it's true, Mat. Maybe I do. I been thinking and thinking--I
didn't want to, Mat, I'll own up to that--I tried to cut it
out--but--[She laughs helplessly.] I guess I can't help it anyhow. So I
guess I do, Mat. [Then with a sudden joyous defiance.] Sure I do!
What's the use of kidding myself different? Sure I love you, Mat!
CHRIS--[With a cry of pain.] Anna! [He sits crushed.]
BURKE--[With a great depth of sincerity in his humble gratitude.] God
ANNA--[Assertively.] And I ain't never loved a man in my life before,
you can always believe that--no matter what happens.
BURKE--[Goes over to her and puts his arms around her.] Sure I do be
believing ivery word you iver said or iver will say. And 'tis you and
me will be having a grand, beautiful life together to the end of our
days! [He tries to kiss her. At first she turns away her head--then,
overcome by a fierce impulse of passionate love, she takes his head in
both her hands and holds his face close to hers, staring into his eyes.
Then she kisses him full on the lips.]
ANNA--[Pushing him away from her--forcing a broken laugh.] Good-bye.
[She walks to the doorway in rear--stands with her back toward them,
looking out. Her shoulders quiver once or twice as if she were fighting
back her sobs.]
BURKE--[Too in the seventh heaven of bliss to get any correct
interpretation of her word--with a laugh.] Good-bye, is it? The divil
you say! I'll be coming back at you in a second for more of the same!
[To CHRIS, who has quickened to instant attention at his daughter's
good-bye, and has looked back at her with a stirring of foolish hope in
his eyes.] Now, me old bucko, what'll you be saying? You heard the
words from her own lips. Confess I've bate you. Own up like a man when
you're bate fair and square. And here's my hand to you--[Holds out his
hand.] And let you take it and we'll shake and forget what's over and
done, and be friends from this out.
CHRIS--[With implacable hatred.] Ay don't shake hands vith you
fallar--not vhile Ay live!
BURKE--[Offended.] The back of my hand to you then, if that suits you
better. [Growling.] 'Tis a rotten bad loser you are, divil mend you!
CHRIS--Ay don't lose--[Trying to be scornful and self-convincing.] Anna
say she like you little bit but you don't hear her say she marry you,
Ay bet. [At the sound of her name ANNA has turned round to them. Her
face is composed and calm again, but it is the dead calm of despair.]
BURKE--[Scornfully.] No, and I wasn't hearing her say the sun is
CHRIS--[Doggedly.] Dat's all right. She don't say it, yust same.
ANNA--[Quietly--coming forward to them.] No, I didn't say it, Mat.
CHRIS--[Eagerly.] Dere! You hear!
BURKE--[Misunderstanding her--with a grin.] You're waiting till you do
be asked, you mane? Well, I'm asking you now. And we'll be married this
day, with the help of God!
ANNA--[Gently.] You heard what I said, Mat--after I kissed you?
BURKE--[Alarmed by something in her manner.] No--I disremember.
ANNA--I said good-bye. [Her voice trembling.] That kiss was for
BURKE--[Terrified.] What d'you mane?
ANNA--I can't marry you, Mat--and we've said good-bye. That's all.
CHRIS--[Unable to hold back his exultation.] Ay know it! Ay know dat
BURKE--[Jumping to his feet--unable to believe his ears.] Anna! Is it
making game of me you'd be? 'Tis a quare time to joke with me, and
don't be doing it, for the love of God.
ANNA--[Looking him in the eyes--steadily.] D'you think I'd kid you now?
No, I'm not joking, Mat. I mean what I said.
BURKE--Ye don't! Ye can't! 'Tis mad you are. I'm telling you!
ANNA--[Fixedly.] No I'm not.
BURKE--[Desperately.] But what's come over you so sudden? You was
saying you loved me--
ANNA--I'll say that as often as you want me to. It's true.
BURKE--[Bewilderedly.] Then why--what, in the divil's name--Oh, God
help me, I can't make head or tail to it at all!
ANNA--Because it's the best way out I can figure, Mat. [Her voice
catching.] I been thinking it over and thinking it over day and night
all week. Don't think it ain't hard on me, too, Mat.
BURKE--For the love of God, tell me then, what is it that's preventing
you wedding me when the two of us has love? [Suddenly getting an idea
and pointing at CHRIS--exasperatedly.] Is it giving heed to the like of
that old fool ye are, and him hating me and filling your ears full of
bloody lies against me?
CHRIS--[Getting to his feet--raging triumphantly before ANNA has a
chance to get in a word.] Yes, Anna believe me, not you! She know her
old fa'der don't lie like you.
ANNA--[Turning on her father angrily.] You sit down, d'you hear? Where
do you come in butting in and making things worse? You're like a devil,
you are! [Harshly.] Good Lord, and I was beginning to like you,
beginning to forget all I've got held up against you!
CHRIS--[Crushed--feebly.] You ain't got nutting for hold against me,
ANNA--Ain't I yust! Well, lemme tell you--[She glances at BURKE and
stops abruptly.] Say, Mat, I'm s'prised at you. You didn't think
anything he'd said--
BURKE--[Glumly.] Sure, what else would it be?
ANNA--Think I've ever paid any attention to all his crazy bull? Gee,
you must take me for a five-year-old kid.
BURKE--[Puzzled and beginning to be irritated at her too.] I don't know
how to take you, with your saying this one minute and that the next.
ANNA--Well, he has nothing to do with it.
BURKE--Then what is it has? Tell me, and don't keep me waiting and
ANNA--[Resolutely] I can't tell you--and I won't. I got a good
reason--and that's all you need to know. I can't marry you, that's all
there is to it. [Distractedly.] So, for Gawd's sake, let's talk of
BURKE--I'll not! [Then fearfully.] Is it married to someone else you
are--in the West maybe?
ANNA--[Vehemently.] I should say not.
BURKE--[Regaining his courage.] To the divil with all other reasons
then. They don't matter with me at all. [He gets to his feet
confidently, assuming a masterful tone.] I'm thinking you're the like
of them women can't make up their mind till they're drove to it. Well,
then, I'll make up your mind for you bloody quick. [He takes her by the
arms, grinning to soften his serious bullying.] We've had enough of
talk! Let you be going into your room now and be dressing in your best
and we'll be going ashore.
CHRIS--[Aroused--angrily.] No, py God, she don't do that! [Takes hold
of her arm.]
ANNA--[Who has listened to BURKE in astonishment. She draws away from
him, instinctively repelled by his tone, but not exactly sure if he is
serious or not--a trace of resentment in her voice.] Say, where do you
get that stuff?
BURKE--[Imperiously.] Never mind, now! Let you go get dressed, I'm
saying, [Then turning to CHRIS.] We'll be seeing who'll win in the
end--me or you.
CHRIS--[To ANNA--also in an authoritative tone.] You stay right here,
Anna, you hear! [ANNA stands looking from one to the other of them as
if she thought they had both gone crazy. Then the expression of her
face freezes into the hardened sneer of her experience.]
BURKE--[Violently.] She'll not! She'll do what I say! You've had your
hold on her long enough. It's my turn now.
ANNA--[With a hard laugh.] Your turn? Say, what am I, anyway?
BURKE--'Tis not what you are, 'tis what you're going to be this
day--and that's wedded to me before night comes. Hurry up now with your
CHRIS--[Commandingly.] You don't do one tang he say, Anna! [ANNA laughs
BURKE--She will, so!
CHRIS--Ay tal you she don't! Ay'm her fa'der.
BURKE--She will in spite of you. She's taking my orders from this out,
ANNA--[Laughing again.] Orders is good!
BURKE--[Turning to her impatiently.] Hurry up now, and shake a leg.
We've no time to be wasting. [Irritated as she doesn't move.] Do you
hear what I'm telling you?
CHRIS--You stay dere, Anna!
ANNA--[At the end of her patience--blazing out at them passionately.]
You can go to hell, both of you! [There is something in her tone that
makes them forget their quarrel and turn to her in a stunned amazement.
ANNA laughs wildly.] You're just like all the rest of them--you two!
Gawd, you'd think I was a piece of furniture! I'll show you! Sit down
now! [As they hesitate--furiously.] Sit down and let me talk for a
minute. You're all wrong, see? Listen to me! I'm going to tell you
something--and then I'm going to beat it. [To BURKE--with a harsh
laugh.] I'm going to tell you a funny story, so pay attention.
[Pointing to CHRIS.] I've been meaning to turn it loose on him every
time he'd get my goat with his bull about keeping me safe inland. I
wasn't going to tell you, but you've forced me into it. What's the dif?
It's all wrong anyway, and you might as well get cured that way as any
other. [With hard mocking.] Only don't forget what you said a minute
ago about it not mattering to you what other reason I got so long as I
wasn't married to no one else.
BURKE--[Manfully.] That's my word, and I'll stick to it!
ANNA--[Laughing bitterly.] What a chance! You make me laugh, honest!
Want to bet you will? Wait 'n see! [She stands at the table rear,
looking from one to the other of the two men with her hard, mocking
smile. Then she begins, fighting to control her emotion and speak
calmly.] First thing is, I want to tell you two guys something. You was
going on's if one of you had got to own me. But nobody owns me,
see?--'cepting myself. I'll do what I please and no man, I don't give a
hoot who he is, can tell me what to do! I ain't asking either of you
for a living. I can make it myself--one way or other. I'm my own boss.
So put that in your pipe and smoke it! You and your orders!
BURKE--[Protestingly.] I wasn't meaning it that way at all and well you
know it. You've no call to be raising this rumpus with me. [Pointing to
CHRIS.] 'Tis him you've a right--
ANNA--I'm coming to him. But you--you did mean it that way, too. You
sounded--yust like all the rest. [Hysterically.] But, damn it, shut up!
Let me talk for a change!
BURKE--'Tis quare, rough talk, that--for a dacent girl the like of you!
ANNA--[With a hard laugh.] Decent? Who told you I was? [CHRIS is
sitting with bowed shoulders, his head in his hands. She leans over in
exasperation and shakes him violently by the shoulder.] Don't go to
sleep, Old Man! Listen here, I'm talking to you now!
CHRIS--[Straightening up and looking about as if he were seeking a way
to escape--with frightened foreboding in his voice.] Ay don't vant for
hear it. You vas going out of head, Ay tank, Anna.
ANNA--[Violently.] Well, living with you is enough to drive anyone off
their nut. Your bunk about the farm being so fine! Didn't I write you
year after year how rotten it was and what a dirty slave them cousins
made of me? What'd you care? Nothing! Not even enough to come out and
see me! That crazy bull about wanting to keep me away from the sea
don't go down with me! You yust didn't want to be bothered with me!
You're like all the rest of 'em!
CHRIS--[Feebly.] Anna! It ain't so--
ANNA--[Not heeding his interruption--revengefully.] But one thing I
never wrote you. It was one of them cousins that you think is such nice
people--the youngest son--Paul--that started me wrong. [Loudly.] It
wasn't none of my fault. I hated him worse 'n hell and he knew it. But
he was big and strong--[Pointing to Burke]--like you!
BURKE--[Half springing to his feet--his fists clenched,] God blarst it!
[He sinks slowly back in his chair again, the knuckles showing white on
his clenched hands, his face tense with the effort to suppress his
grief and rage.]
CHRIS--[In a cry of horrified pain.] Anna!
ANNA--[To him--seeming not to have heard their interruptions.] That was
why I run away from the farm. That was what made me get a yob as nurse
girl in St. Paul. [With a hard, mocking laugh.] And you think that was
a nice yob for a girl, too, don't you? [Sarcastically.] With all them
nice inland fellers yust looking for a chance to marry me, I s'pose.
Marry me? What a chance! They wasn't looking for marrying. [As BURKE
lets a groan of fury escape him--desperately.] I'm owning up to
everything fair and square. I was caged in, I tell you--yust like in
yail--taking care of other people's kids--listening to 'em bawling and
crying day and night--when I wanted to be out--and I was
lonesome--lonesome as hell! [With a sudden weariness in her voice.] So
I give up finally. What was the use? [She stops and looks at the two
men. Both are motionless and silent. CHRIS seems in a stupor of
despair, his house of cards fallen about him. BURKE's face is livid
with the rage that is eating him up, but he is too stunned and
bewildered yet to find a vent for it. The condemnation she feels in
their silence goads ANNA into a harsh, strident defiance.] You don't
say nothing--either of you--but I know what you're thinking. You're
like all the rest! [To CHRIS--furiously.] And who's to blame for it, me
or you? If you'd even acted like a man--if you'd even been a regular
father and had me with you--maybe things would be different!
CHRIS--[In agony.] Don't talk dat vay, Anna! Ay go crazy! Ay von't
listen! [Puts his hands over his ears.]
ANNA--[Infuriated by his action--stridently.] You will too listen! [She
leans over and pulls his hands from his ears--with hysterical rage.]
You--keeping me safe inland--I wasn't no nurse girl the last two
years--I lied when I wrote you--I was in a house, that's what!--yes,
that kind of a house--the kind sailors like you and Mat goes to in
port--and your nice inland men, too--and all men, God damn 'em! I hate
'em! Hate 'em! [She breaks into hysterical sobbing, throwing herself
into the chair and hiding her face in her hands on the table. The two
men have sprung to their feet.]
CHRIS--[Whimpering like a child.] Anna! Anna! It's lie! It's lie! [He
stands wringing his hands together and begins to weep.]
BURKE--[His whole great body tense like a spring--dully and gropingly.]
So that's what's in it!
ANNA--[Raising her head at the sound of his voice--with extreme mocking
bitterness.] I s'pose you remember your promise, Mat? No other reason
was to count with you so long as I wasn't married already. So I s'pose
you want me to get dressed and go ashore, don't you? [She laughs.] Yes,
BURKE--[On the verge of his outbreak--stammeringly.] God stiffen you!
ANNA--[Trying to keep up her hard, bitter tone, but gradually letting a
note of pitiful pleading creep in.] I s'pose if I tried to tell you I
wasn't--that--no more you'd believe me, wouldn't you? Yes, you would!
And if I told you that yust getting out in this barge, and being on the
sea had changed me and made me feel different about things,'s if all
I'd been through wasn't me and didn't count and was yust like it never
happened--you'd laugh, wouldn't you? And you'd die laughing sure if I
said that meeting you that funny way that night in the fog, and
afterwards seeing that you was straight goods stuck on me, had got me
to thinking for the first time, and I sized you up as a different kind
of man--a sea man as different from the ones on land as water is from
mud--and that was why I got stuck on you, too. I wanted to marry you
and fool you, but I couldn't. Don't you see how I'd changed? I couldn't
marry you with you believing a lie--and I was shamed to tell you the
truth--till the both of you forced my hand, and I seen you was the same
as all the rest. And now, give me a bawling out and beat it, like I can
tell you're going to. [She stops, looking at BURKE. He is silent, his
face averted, his features beginning to work with fury. She pleads
passionately.] Will you believe it if I tell you that loving you has
made me--clean? It's the straight goods, honest! [Then as he doesn't
reply--bitterly.] Like hell you will! You're like all the rest!
BURKE--[Blazing out--turning on her in a perfect frenzy of rage--his
voice trembling with passion.] The rest, is it? God's curse on you!
Clane, is it? You slut, you, I'll be killing you now! [He picks up the
chair on which he has been sitting and, swinging it high over his
shoulder, springs toward her. CHRIS rushes forward with a cry of alarm,
trying to ward off the blow from his daughter. ANNA looks up into
BURKE'S eyes with the fearlessness of despair. BURKE checks himself,
the chair held in the air.]
CHRIS--[Wildly.] Stop, you crazy fool! You vant for murder her!
ANNA--[Pushing her father away brusquely, her eyes still holding
BURKE'S.] Keep out of this, you! [To BURKE--dully.] Well, ain't you got
the nerve to do it? Go ahead! I'll be thankful to you, honest. I'm sick
of the whole game.
BURKE--[Throwing the chair away into a corner of the room--helplessly.]
I can't do it, God help me, and your two eyes looking at me.
[Furiously.] Though I do be thinking I'd have a good right to smash
your skull like a rotten egg. Was there iver a woman in the world had
the rottenness in her that you have, and was there iver a man the like
of me was made the fool of the world, and me thinking thoughts about
you, and having great love for you, and dreaming dreams of the fine
life we'd have when we'd be wedded! [His voice high pitched in a
lamentation that is like a keen]. Yerra, God help me! I'm destroyed
entirely and my heart is broken in bits! I'm asking God Himself, was it
for this He'd have me roaming the earth since I was a lad only, to come
to black shame in the end, where I'd be giving a power of love to a
woman is the same as others you'd meet in any hooker-shanty in port,
with red gowns on them and paint on their grinning mugs, would be
sleeping with any man for a dollar or two!
ANNA--[In a scream.] Don't, Mat! For Gawd's sake! [Then raging and
pounding on the table with her hands.] Get out of here! Leave me alone!
Get out of here!
BURKE--[His anger rushing back on him.] I'll be going, surely! And I'll
be drinking sloos of whiskey will wash that black kiss of yours off my
lips; and I'll be getting dead rotten drunk so I'll not remember if
'twas iver born you was at all; and I'll be shipping away on some boat
will take me to the other end of the world where I'll never see your
face again! [He turns toward the door]
CHRIS--[Who has been standing in a stupor--suddenly grasping BURKE by
the arm--stupidly] No, you don't go. Ay tank maybe it's better Anna
marry you now.
BURKE--[Shaking CHRIS off--furiously] Lave go of me, ye old ape! Marry
her, is it? I'd see her roasting in hell first! I'm shipping away out
of this, I'm telling you! [Pointing to Anna--passionately] And my curse
on you and the curse of Almighty God and all the Saints! You've
destroyed me this day and may you lie awake in the long nights,
tormented with thoughts of Mat Burke and the great wrong you've done
ANNA--[In anguish] Mat! [But he turns without another word and strides
out of the doorway. ANNA looks after him wildly, starts to run after
him, then hides her face in her outstretched arms, sobbing. CHRIS
stands in a stupor, staring at the floor.]
CHRIS--[After a pause, dully.] Ay tank Ay go ashore, too.
ANNA--[Looking up, wildly.] Not after him! Let him go! Don't you dare--
CHRIS--[Somberly.] Ay go for gat drink.
ANNA--[With a harsh laugh.] So I'm driving you to drink, too, eh? I
s'pose you want to get drunk so's you can forget--like him?
CHRIS--[Bursting out angrily.] Yes, Ay vant! You tank Ay like hear dem
tangs. [Breaking down--weeping.] Ay tank you vasn't dat kind of gel,
ANNA--[Mockingly.] And I s'pose you want me to beat it, don't you? You
don't want me here disgracing you, I s'pose?
CHRIS--No, you stay here! [Goes over and pats her on the shoulder, the
tears running down his face.] Ain't your fault, Anna, Ay know dat. [She
looks up at him, softened. He bursts into rage.] It's dat ole davil,
sea, do this to me! [He shakes his fist at the door.] It's her dirty
tricks! It vas all right on barge with yust you and me. Den she bring
dat Irish fallar in fog, she make you like him, she make you fight with
me all time! If dat Irish fallar don't never come, you don't never tal
me dem tangs, Ay don't never know, and every tang's all right. [He
shakes his fist again,] Dirty ole davil!
ANNA--[With spent weariness.] Oh, what's the use? Go on ashore and get
CHRIS--[Goes into room on left and gets his cap. He goes to the door,
silent and stupid--then turns.] You vait here, Anna?
ANNA--[Dully] Maybe--and maybe not. Maybe I'll get drunk, too. Maybe
I'll--But what the hell do you care what I do? Go on and beat it.
[CHRIS turns stupidly and goes out. ANNA sits at the table, staring
straight in front of her.]
[The Curtain Falls]
SCENE--Same as Act Three, about nine o'clock of a foggy night two days
later. The whistles of steamers in the harbor can be heard. The cabin
is lighted by a small lamp on the table. A suitcase stands in the
middle of the floor. ANNA is sitting in the rocking-chair. She wears a
hat, is all dressed up as in Act One. Her face is pale, looks terribly
tired and worn, as if the two days just past had been ones of suffering
and sleepless nights. She stares before her despondently, her chin in
her hands. There is a timid knock on the door in rear. ANNA jumps to
her feet with a startled exclamation and looks toward the door with an
expression of mingled hope and fear.
ANNA--[Faintly.] Come in. [Then summoning her courage--more
resolutely.] Come in. [The door is opened and CHRIS appears in the
doorway. He is in a very bleary, bedraggled condition, suffering from
the after effects of his drunk. A tin pail full of foaming beer is in
his hand. He comes forward, his eyes avoiding ANNA'S. He mutters
stupidly.] It's foggy.
ANNA--[Looking him over with contempt.] So you come back at last, did
you? You're a fine looking sight! [Then jeeringly.] I thought you'd
beaten it for good on account of the disgrace I'd brought on you.
CHRIS--[Wincing-faintly.] Don't say dat, Anna, please! [He sits in a
chair by the table, setting down the can of beer, holding his head in
ANNA--[Looks at him with a certain sympathy.] What's the trouble?
CHRIS--[Dully.] Inside my head feel sick.
ANNA--Well, what d'you expect after being soused for two days?
[Resentfully.] It serves you right. A fine thing--you leaving me alone
on this barge all that time!
CHRIS--[Humbly.] Ay'm sorry, Anna.
CHRIS--But Ay'm not sick inside head vay you mean. Ay'm sick from tank
too much about you, about me.
ANNA--And how about me? D'you suppose I ain't been thinking, too?
CHRIS--Ay'm sorry, Anna. [He sees her bag and gives a start] You pack
your bag, Anna? You vas going--?
ANNA--[Forcibly.] Yes, I was going right back to what you think.
ANNA--I went ashore to get a train for New York. I'd been waiting and
waiting 'till I was sick of it. Then I changed my mind and decided not
to go to-day. But I'm going first thing to-morrow, so it'll all be the
same in the end.
CHRIS--[Raising his head--pleadingly] No, you never do dat, Anna!
ANNA--[With a sneer.] Why not, I'd like to know?
CHRIS--You don't never gat to do--dat vay--no more, Ay tal you. Ay fix
dat up all right.
ANNA--[Suspiciously.] Fix what up?
CHRIS--[Not seeming to have heard her question--sadly.] You vas
vaiting, you say? You vasn't vaiting for me, Ay bet.
ANNA--[Callously.] You'd win.
CHRIS--For dat Irish fallar?
ANNA--[Defiantly.] Yes--if you want to know! [Then with a forlorn
laugh.] If he did come back it'd only because he wanted to beat me up
or kill me, I suppose. But even if he did, I'd rather have him come
than not show up at all. I wouldn't care what he did.
CHRIS--Ay guess it's true you vas in love with him all right.
CHRIS--[Turning to her earnestly.] And Ay'm sorry for you like hell he
don't come, Anna!
ANNA--[Softened.] Seems to me you've changed your tune a lot.
CHRIS--Ay've been tanking, and Ay guess it vas all my fault--all bad
tangs dat happen to you. [Pleadingly.] You try for not hate me, Anna.
Ay'm crazy ole fool, dat's all.
ANNA--Who said I hated you?
CHRIS--Ay'm sorry for everytang Ay do wrong for you, Anna. Ay vant for
you be happy all rest of your life for make up! It make you happy marry
dat Irish fallar, Ay vant it, too.
ANNA--[Dully.]--Well, there ain't no chance. But I'm glad you think
different about it, anyway.
CHRIS--[Supplicatingly.] And you tank--maybe--you forgive me sometime?
ANNA--[With a wan smile.] I'll forgive you right now.
CHRIS--[Seizing her hand and kissing it--brokenly.] Anna lilla! Anna
ANNA--[Touched but a bit embarrassed.] Don't bawl about it. There ain't
nothing to forgive, anyway. It ain't your fault, and it ain't mine, and
it ain't his neither. We're all poor nuts, and things happen, and we
yust get mixed in wrong, that's all.
CHRIS--[Eagerly.] You say right tang, Anna, py golly! It ain't nobody's
fault! [Shaking his fist.] It's dat ole davil, sea!
ANNA--[With an exasperated laugh.] Gee, won't you ever can that stuff?
[CHRIS relapses into injured silence. After a pause ANNA continues
curiously.] You said a minute ago you'd fixed something up--about me.
What was it?
CHRIS--[After a hesitating pause.] Ay'm shipping avay on sea again,
CHRIS--Ay sign on steamer sail to-morrow. Ay gat my ole yob--bo'sun.
[ANNA stares at him. As he goes on, a bitter smile comes over her
face.] Ay tank dat's best tang for you. Ay only bring you bad luck, Ay
tank. Ay make your mo'der's life sorry. Ay don't vant make yours dat
way, but Ay do yust same. Dat ole davil, sea, she make me Yonah man
ain't no good for nobody. And Ay tank now it ain't no use fight with
sea. No man dat live going to beat her, py yingo!
ANNA--[With a laugh of helpless bitterness.] So that's how you've fixed
me, is it?
CHRIS--Yes, Ay tank if dat ole davil gat me back she leave you alone
ANNA--[Bitterly.] But, for Gawd's sake, don't you see, you're doing the
same thing you've always done? Don't you see--? [But she sees the look
of obsessed stubbornness on her father's face and gives it up
helplessly.] But what's the use of talking. You ain't right, that's
what. I'll never blame you for nothing no more. But how you could
figure out that was fixing me--!
CHRIS--Dat ain't all. Ay gat dem fallars in steam-ship office to pay
you all money coming to me every month vhile Ay'm avay.
ANNA--[With a hard laugh.] Thanks. But I guess I won't be hard up for
no small change.
CHRIS--[Hurt--humbly.] It ain't much, Ay know, but it's plenty for keep
you so you never gat go.
ANNA--[Shortly.] Shut up, will you? We'll talk about it later, see?
CHRIS--[After a pause--ingratiatingly.] You like Ay go ashore look for
dat Irish fallar, Anna?
ANNA--[Angrily.] Not much! Think I want to drag him back?
CHRIS--[After a pause--uncomfortably.] Py golly, dat booze don't go
veil. Give me fever, Ay tank, Ay feel hot like hell. [He takes off his
coat and lets it drop on the floor. There is a loud thud.]
ANNA--[With a start.] What you got in your pocket, for Pete's sake--a
ton of lead? [She reaches down, takes the coat and pulls out a
revolver--looks from it to him in amazement.] A gun? What were you
doing with this?
CHRIS--[Sheepishly.] Ay forgat. Ain't nutting. Ain't loaded, anyvay.
ANNA--[Breaking it open to make sure--then closing it again--looking at
him suspiciously.] That ain't telling me why you got it?
CHRIS--[Sheepishly.] Ay'm ole fool. Ay gat it vhen Ay go ashore first.
Ay tank den it's all fault of dat Irish fallar.
ANNA--[With a shudder.] Say, you're crazier than I thought. I never
dreamt you'd go that far.
CHRIS--[Quickly.] Ay don't. Ay gat better sense right avay. Ay don't
never buy bullets even. It ain't his fault, Ay know.
ANNA--[Still suspicious of him.] Well, I'll take care of this for a
while, loaded or not. [She puts it in the drawer of table and closes
CHRIS--[Placatingly.] Throw it overboard if you vant. Ay don't care,
[Then after a pause.] Py golly, Ay tank Ay go lie down. Ay feel sick.
[ANNA takes a magazine from the table. CHRIS hesitates by her chair.]
Ve talk again before Ay go, yes?
ANNA--[Dully.] Where's this ship going to?
CHRIS--Cape Town. Dat's in South Africa. She's British steamer called
Londonderry. [He stands hesitatingly--finally blurts out.] Anna--you
forgive me sure?
ANNA--[Wearily.] Sure I do. You ain't to blame. You're yust--what you
CHRIS--[Pleadingly.] Den--you lat me kiss you again once?
ANNA--[Raising her face--forcing a wan smile.] Sure. No hard feelings.
CHRIS--[Kisses her--brokenly.] Anna lilla! Ay--[He fights for words to
express himself, but finds none--miserably--with a sob.] Ay can't say
it. Good-night, Anna.
ANNA--Good-night. [He picks up the can of beer and goes slowly into the
room on left, his shoulders bowed, his head sunk forward dejectedly. He
closes the door after him. ANNA turns over the pages of the magazine,
trying desperately to banish her thoughts by looking at the pictures.
This fails to distract her, and flinging the magazine back on the
table, she springs to her feet and walks about the cabin distractedly,
clenching and unclenching her hands. She speaks aloud to herself in a
tense, trembling voice.] Gawd, I can't stand this much longer! What am
I waiting for anyway?--like a damn fool! [She laughs helplessly, then
checks herself abruptly, as she hears the sound of heavy footsteps on
the deck outside. She appears to recognize these and her face lights up
with joy. She gasps:] Mat! [A strange terror seems suddenly to seize
her. She rushes to the table, takes the revolver out of drawer and
crouches down in the corner, left, behind the cupboard. A moment later
the door is flung open and MAT BURKE appears in the doorway. He is in
bad shape--his clothes torn and dirty, covered with sawdust as if he
had been grovelling or sleeping on barroom floors. There is a red
bruise on his forehead over one of his eyes, another over one
cheekbone, his knuckles are skinned and raw--plain evidence of the
fighting he has been through on his "bat." His eyes are bloodshot and
heavy-lidded, his face has a bloated look. But beyond these
appearances--the results of heavy drinking--there is an expression in
his eyes of wild mental turmoil, of impotent animal rage baffled by its
own abject misery.]
BURKE--[Peers blinkingly about the cabin--hoarsely.] Let you not be
hiding from me, whoever's here--though 'tis well you know I'd have a
right to come back and murder you. [He stops to listen. Hearing no
sound, he closes the door behind him and comes forward to the table. He
throws himself into the rocking-chair--despondently.] There's no one
here, I'm thinking, and 'tis a great fool I am to be coming. [With a
sort of dumb, uncomprehending anguish.] Yerra, Mat Burke, 'tis a great
jackass you've become and what's got into you at all, at all? She's
gone out of this long ago, I'm telling you, and you'll never see her
face again. [ANNA stands up, hesitating, struggling between joy and
fear. BURKE'S eyes fall on ANNA'S bag. He leans over to examine it.]
What's this? [Joyfully.] It's hers. She's not gone! But where is she?
Ashore? [Darkly.] What would she be doing ashore on this rotten night?
[His face suddenly convulsed with grief and rage.] 'Tis that, is it?
Oh, God's curse on her! [Raging.] I'll wait 'till she comes and choke
her dirty life out. [ANNA starts, her face grows hard. She steps into
the room, the revolver in her right hand by her side.]
ANNA--[In a cold, hard tone.] What are you doing here?
BURKE--[Wheeling about with a terrified gasp] Glory be to God! [They
remain motionless and silent for a moment, holding each other's eyes.]
ANNA--[In the same hard voice] Well, can't you talk?
BURKE--[Trying to fall into an easy, careless tone] You've a year's
growth scared out of me, coming at me so sudden and me thinking I was
ANNA--You've got your nerve butting in here without knocking or
nothing. What d'you want?
BURKE--[Airily] Oh, nothing much. I was wanting to have a last word
with you, that's all. [He moves a step toward her.]
ANNA--[Sharply--raising the revolver in her hand.] Careful now! Don't
try getting too close. I heard what you said you'd do to me.
BURKE--[Noticing the revolver for the first time.] Is it murdering me
you'd be now, God forgive you? [Then with a contemptuous laugh.] Or is
it thinking I'd be frightened by that old tin whistle? [He walks
straight for her.]
ANNA--[Wildly.] Look out, I tell you!
BURKE--[Who has come so close that the revolver is almost touching his
chest.] Let you shoot, then! [Then with sudden wild grief.] Let you
shoot, I'm saying, and be done with it! Let you end me with a shot and
I'll be thanking you, for it's a rotten dog's life I've lived the past
two days since I've known what you are, 'til I'm after wishing I was
never born at all!
ANNA--[Overcome--letting the revolver drop to the floor, as if her
fingers had no strength to hold it--hysterically.] What d'you want
coming here? Why don't you beat it? Go on! [She passes him and sinks
down in the rocking-chair.]
BURKE--[Following her--mournfully.] 'Tis right you'd be asking why did
I come. [Then angrily.] 'Tis because 'tis a great weak fool of the
world I am, and me tormented with the wickedness you'd told of
yourself, and drinking oceans of booze that'd make me forget. Forget?
Divil a word I'd forget, and your face grinning always in front of my
eyes, awake or asleep, 'til I do be thinking a madhouse is the proper
place for me.
ANNA--[Glancing at his hands and--face--scornfully] You look like you
ought to be put away some place. Wonder you wasn't pulled in. You been
scrapping, too, ain't you?
BURKE--I have--with every scut would take off his coat to me!
[Fiercely.] And each time I'd be hitting one a clout in the mug, it
wasn't his face I'd be seeing at all, but yours, and me wanting to
drive you a blow would knock you out of this world where I wouldn't be
seeing or thinking more of you.
ANNA--[Her lips trembling pitifully] Thanks!
BURKE--[Walking up and down--distractedly.] That's right, make game of
me! Oh, I'm a great coward surely, to be coming back to speak with you
at all. You've a right to laugh at me.
ANNA--I ain't laughing at you, Mat.
BURKE--[Unheeding.] You to be what you are, and me to be Mat Burke, and
me to be drove back to look at you again! 'Tis black shame is on me!
ANNA--[Resentfully.] Then get out. No one's holding you!
BURKE--[Bewilderedly] And me to listen to that talk from a woman like
you and be frightened to close her mouth with a slap! Oh, God help me,
I'm a yellow coward for all men to spit at! [Then furiously] But I'll
not be getting out of this 'till I've had me word. [Raising his fist
threateningly] And let you look out how you'd drive me! [Letting his
fist fall helplessly] Don't be angry now! I'm raving like a real
lunatic, I'm thinking, and the sorrow you put on me has my brains
drownded in grief. [Suddenly bending down to her and grasping her arm
intensely] Tell me it's a lie, I'm saying! That's what I'm after coming
to hear you say.
ANNA--[Dully] A lie? What?
BURKE--[With passionate entreaty] All the badness you told me two days
back. Sure it must be a lie! You was only making game of me, wasn't
you? Tell me 'twas a lie, Anna, and I'll be saying prayers of thanks on
my two knees to the Almighty God!
ANNA--[Terribly shaken--faintly.] I can't. Mat. [As he turns
away--imploringly.] Oh, Mat, won't you see that no matter what I was I
ain't that any more? Why, listen! I packed up my bag this afternoon and
went ashore. I'd been waiting here all alone for two days, thinking
maybe you'd come back--thinking maybe you'd think over all I'd
said--and maybe--oh, I don't know what I was hoping! But I was afraid
to even go out of the cabin for a second, honest--afraid you might come
and not find me here. Then I gave up hope when you didn't show up and I
went to the railroad station. I was going to New York. I was going
BURKE--[Hoarsely.] God's curse on you!
ANNA--Listen, Mat! You hadn't come, and I'd gave up hope. But--in the
station--I couldn't go. I'd bought my ticket and everything. [She takes
the ticket from her dress and tries to hold it before his eyes.] But I
got to thinking about you--and I couldn't take the train--I couldn't!
So I come back here--to wait some more. Oh, Mat, don't you see I've
changed? Can't you forgive what's dead and gone--and forget it?
BURKE--[Turning on her--overcome by rage again.] Forget, is it? I'll
not forget 'til my dying day, I'm telling you, and me tormented with
thoughts. [In a frenzy.] Oh, I'm wishing I had wan of them fornenst me
this minute and I'd beat him with my fists 'till he'd be a bloody
corpse! I'm wishing the whole lot of them will roast in hell 'til the
Judgment Day--and yourself along with them, for you're as bad as they
ANNA--[Shuddering.] Mat! [Then after a pause--in a voice of dead, stony
calm.] Well, you've had your say. Now you better beat it.
BURKE--[Starts slowly for the door--hesitates--then after a pause.] And
what'll you be doing?
ANNA--What difference does it make to you?
BURKE--I'm asking you!
ANNA--[In the same tone.] My bag's packed and I got my ticket. I'll go
to New York to-morrow.
BURKE--[Helplessly.] You mean--you'll be doing the same again?
BURKE--[In anguish.] You'll not! Don't torment me with that talk! 'Tis
a she-divil you are sent to drive me mad entirely!
ANNA--[Her voice breaking.] Oh, for Gawd's sake, Mat, leave me alone!
Go away! Don't you see I'm licked? Why d'you want to keep on kicking me?
BURKE--[Indignantly.] And don't you deserve the worst I'd say, God
ANNA--All right. Maybe I do. But don't rub it in. Why ain't you done
what you said you was going to? Why ain't you got that ship was going
to take you to the other side of the earth where you'd never see me
ANNA--[Startled.] What--then you're going--honest?
BURKE--I signed on to-day at noon, drunk as I was--and she's sailing
ANNA--And where's she going to?
ANNA--[The memory of having heard that name a little while before
coming to her--with a start, confusedly.] Cape Town? Where's that. Far
BURKE--'Tis at the end of Africa. That's far for you.
ANNA--[Forcing a laugh.] You're keeping your word all right, ain't you?
[After a slight pause--curiously.] What's the boat's name?
ANNA--[It suddenly comes to her that this is the same ship her father
is sailing on.] The Londonderry! It's the same--Oh, this is too much!
[With wild, ironical laughter.] Ha-ha-ha!
BURKE--What's up with you now?
ANNA--Ha-ha-ha! It's funny, funny! I'll die laughing!
BURKE--[Irritated.] Laughing at what?
ANNA--It's a secret. You'll know soon enough. It's funny. [Controlling
herself--after a pause--cynically.] What kind of a place is this Cape
Town? Plenty of dames there, I suppose?
BURKE--To hell with them! That I may never see another woman to my
ANNA--That's what you say now, but I'll bet by the time you get there
you'll have forgot all about me and start in talking the same old bull
you talked to me to the first one you meet.
BURKE--[Offended.] I'll not, then! God mend you, is it making me out to
be the like of yourself you are, and you taking up with this one and
that all the years of your life?
ANNA--[Angrily assertive.] Yes, that's yust what I do mean! You been
doing the same thing all your life, picking up a new girl in every
port. How're you any better than I was?
BURKE--[Thoroughly exasperated.] Is it no shame you have at all? I'm a
fool to be wasting talk on you and you hardened in badness. I'll go out
of this and lave you alone forever. [He starts for the door--then stops
to turn on her furiously] And I suppose 'tis the same lies you told
them all before that you told to me?
ANNA--[Indignantly.] That's a lie! I never did!
BURKE--[Miserably.] You'd be saying that, anyway.
ANNA--[Forcibly, with growing intensity.] Are you trying to accuse
me--of being in love--really in love--with them?
BURKE--I'm thinking you were, surely.
ANNA--[Furiously, as if this were the last insult--advancing on him
threateningly] You mutt, you! I've stood enough from you. Don't you
dare. [With scornful bitterness.] Love 'em! Oh, my Gawd! You damn
thick-head! Love 'em? [Savagely.] I hated 'em, I tell you! Hated 'em,
hated 'em, hated 'em! And may Gawd strike me dead this minute and my
mother, too, if she was alive, if I ain't telling you the honest truth!
BURKE--[Immensely pleased by her vehemence--a light beginning to break
over his face--but still uncertain, torn between doubt and the desire
to believe--helplessly.] If I could only be believing you now!
ANNA--[Distractedly.] Oh, what's the use? What's the use of me talking?
What's the use of anything? [Pleadingly.] Oh, Mat, you mustn't think
that for a second! You mustn't! Think all the other bad about me you
want to, and I won't kick, 'cause you've a right to. But don't think
that! [On the point of tears.] I couldn't bear it! It'd be yust too
much to know you was going away where I'd never see you again--thinking
that about me!
BURKE--[After an inward struggle--tensely--forcing out the words with
difficulty.] If I was believing--that you'd never had love for any
other man in the world but me--I could be forgetting the rest, maybe.
ANNA--[With a cry of joy.] Mat!
BURKE--[Slowly.] If 'tis truth you're after telling, I'd have a right,
maybe, to believe you'd changed--and that I'd changed you myself 'til
the thing you'd been all your life wouldn't be you any more at all.
ANNA--[Hanging on his words--breathlessly.] Oh, Mat! That's what I been
trying to tell you all along!
BURKE--[Simply.] For I've a power of strength in me to lead men the way
I want, and women, too, maybe, and I'm thinking I'd change you to a new
woman entirely, so I'd never know, or you either, what kind of woman
you'd been in the past at all.
ANNA--Yes, you could, Mat! I know you could!
BURKE--And I'm thinking 'twasn't your fault, maybe, but having that old
ape for a father that left you to grow up alone, made you what you was.
And if I could be believing 'tis only me you--
ANNA--[Distractedly.] You got to believe it. Mat! What can I do? I'll
do anything, anything you want to prove I'm not lying!
BURKE--[Suddenly seems to have a solution. He feels in the pocket of
his coat and grasps something--solemnly.] Would you be willing to swear
an oath, now--a terrible, fearful oath would send your soul to the
divils in hell if you was lying?
ANNA--[Eagerly.] Sure, I'll swear, Mat--on anything!
BURKE--[Takes a small, cheap old crucifix from his pocket and holds it
up for her to see.] Will you swear on this?
ANNA--[Reaching out for it.] Yes. Sure I will. Give it to me.
BURKE--[Holding it away.] 'Tis a cross was given me by my mother, God
rest her soul. [He makes the sign of the cross mechanically.] I was a
lad only, and she told me to keep it by me if I'd be waking or sleeping
and never lose it, and it'd bring me luck. She died soon after. But I'm
after keeping it with me from that day to this, and I'm telling you
there's great power in it, and 'tis great bad luck it's saved me from
and me roaming the seas, and I having it tied round my neck when my
last ship sunk, and it bringing me safe to land when the others went to
their death. [Very earnestly.] And I'm warning you now, if you'd swear
an oath on this, 'tis my old woman herself will be looking down from
Hivin above, and praying Almighty God and the Saints to put a great
curse on you if she'd hear you swearing a lie!
ANNA--[Awed by his manner--superstitiously] I wouldn't have the
nerve--honest--if it was a lie. But it's the truth and I ain't scared
to swear. Give it to me.
BURKE--[Handing it to her--almost frightenedly, as if he feared for her
safety.] Be careful what you'd swear, I'm saying.
ANNA--[Holding the cross gingerly.] Well--what do you want me to swear?
You say it.
BURKE--Swear I'm the only man in the world ivir you felt love for.
ANNA--[Looking into his eyes steadily] I swear it.
BURKE--And that you'll be forgetting from this day all the badness
you've done and never do the like of it again.
ANNA--[Forcibly.] I swear it! I swear it by God!
BURKE--And may the blackest curse of God strike you if you're lying.
Say it now!
ANNA--And may the blackest curse of God strike me if I'm lying!
BURKE--[With a stupendous sigh.] Oh, glory be to God, I'm after
believing you now! [He takes the cross from her hand, his face beaming
with joy, and puts it back in his pocket. He puts his arm about her
waist and is about to kiss her when he stops, appalled by some terrible
ANNA--[Alarmed.] What's the matter with you?
BURKE--[With sudden fierce questioning.] Is it Catholic ye are?
ANNA--[Confused.] No. Why?
BURKE--[Filled with a sort of bewildered foreboding.] Oh, God, help me!
[With a dark glance of suspicion at her.] There's some divil's trickery
in it, to be swearing an oath on a Catholic cross and you wan of the
ANNA--[Distractedly.] Oh, Mat, don't you believe me?
BURKE--[Miserably.] If it isn't a Catholic you are--
ANNA--I ain't nothing. What's the difference? Didn't you hear me swear?
BURKE--[Passionately.] Oh, I'd a right to stay away from you--but I
couldn't! I was loving you in spite of it all and wanting to be with
you, God forgive me, no matter what you are. I'd go mad if I'd not have
you! I'd be killing the world--[He seizes her in his arms and kisses
ANNA--[With a gasp of joy.] Mat!
BURKE--[Suddenly holding her away from him and staring into her eyes as
if to probe into her soul--slowly.] If your oath is no proper oath at
all, I'll have to be taking your naked word for it and have you anyway,
I'm thinking--I'm needing you that bad!
ANNA--[Hurt--reproachfully.] Mat! I swore, didn't I?
BURKE--[Defiantly, as if challenging fate.] Oath or no oath, 'tis no
matter. We'll be wedded in the morning, with the help of God. [Still
more defiantly.] We'll be happy now, the two of us, in spite of the
divil! [He crushes her to him and kisses her again. The door on the
left is pushed open and CHRIS appears in the doorway. He stands
blinking at them. At first the old expression of hatred of BURKE comes
into his eyes instinctively. Then a look of resignation and relief
takes its place. His face lights up with a sudden happy thought. He
turns back into the bedroom--reappears immediately with the tin can of
beer in his hand grinning.]
CHRIS--Me have drink on this, py golly! [They break away from each
other with startled exclamations.]
BURKE--[Explosively.] God stiffen it! [He takes a step toward CHRIS
ANNA--[Happily--to her father.] That's the way to talk! [With a laugh.]
And say, it's about time for you and Mat to kiss and make up. You're
going to be shipmates on the Londonderry, did you know it?
BURKE--[Astounded.] Shipmates--Has himself--
CHRIS--[Equally astounded.] Ay vas bo'sun on her.
BURKE--The divil! [Then angrily.] You'd be going back to sea and
leaving her alone, would you?
ANNA--[Quickly.] It's all right, Mat. That's where he belongs, and I
want him to go. You got to go, too; we'll need the money. [With a
laugh, as she gets the glasses.] And as for me being alone, that runs
in the family, and I'll get used to it. [Pouring out their glasses.]
I'll get a little house somewhere and I'll make a regular place for you
two to come back to,--wait and see. And now you drink up and be friends.
BURKE--[Happily--but still a bit resentful against the old man.] Sure!
[Clinking his glass against CHRIS'.] Here's luck to you! [He drinks.]
CHRIS--[Subdued--his face melancholy.] Skoal. [He drinks.]
BURKE--[To Anna, with a wink.] You'll not be lonesome long. I'll see to
that, with the help of God. 'Tis himself here will be having a
grandchild to ride on his foot, I'm telling you!
ANNA--[Turning away in embarrassment.] Quit the kidding, now. [She
picks up her bag and goes into the room on left. As soon as she is gone
BURKE relapses into an attitude of gloomy thought. CHRIS stares at his
beer absent-mindedly. Finally BURKE turns on him.]
BURKE--Is it any religion at all you have, you and your Anna?
CHRIS--[Surprised.] Vhy yes. Ve vas Lutheran in ole country.
BURKE--[Horrified.] Luthers, is it? [Then with a grim resignation,
slowly, aloud to himself.] Well, damned then surely. Yerra, what's the
difference? 'Tis the will of God, anyway.
CHRIS--[Moodily preoccupied with his own thoughts--speaks with somber
premonition as ANNA re-enters from the left.] It's funny. It's queer,
yes--you and me shipping on same boat dat vay. It ain't right. Ay don't
know--it's dat funny vay ole davil sea do her vorst dirty tricks, yes.
It's so. [He gets up and goes back and, opening the door, stares out
into the darkness.]
BURKE--[Nodding his head in gloomy acquiescence--with a great sigh.]
I'm fearing maybe you have the right of it for once, divil take you.
ANNA--[Forcing a laugh.] Gee, Mat, you ain't agreeing with him, are
you? [She comes forward and puts her arm about his shoulder--with a
determined gaiety.] Aw say, what's the matter? Cut out the gloom. We're
all fixed now, ain't we, me and you? [Pours out more beer into his
glass and fills one for herself--slaps him on the back.] Come on!
Here's to the sea, no matter what! Be a game sport and drink to that!
Come on! [She gulps down her glass. Burke banishes his superstitious
premonitions with a defiant jerk of his head, grins up at her, and
drinks to her toast.]
CHRIS--[Looking out into the night--lost in his somber
preoccupation--shakes his head and mutters.] Fog, fog, fog, all bloody
time. You can't see vhere you vas going, no. Only dat ole davil,
sea--she knows! [The two stare at him. From the harbor comes the
muffled, mournful wail of steamers' whistles.]
[The Curtain Falls]