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Act IV

Scene. Same as Act I. It is half past one of same day. Curtain discloses Knox seated at right front and waiting. He is dejected in attitude.

(Margaret enters from right rear, and advances to him. He rises awkwardly and shakes hands. She is very calm and self-possessed.)


[Margaret]

I knew you would come. Strange that I had to send for you so soon after last night--

(With alarm and sudden change of manner.) What is the matter? You are sick. Your hand is cold.

(She warms it in both of her hands.)

[Knox]

It is flame or freeze with me.

(Smiling.) And I'd rather flame.

[Margaret]

(Becoming aware that she is warming his hand.)

Sit down and tell me what is the matter.

(Leading him by the hand she seats him, at the same time seating herself.)

[Knox]

(Abruptly.) After you left last night, Hubbard stole those documents back again.

[Margaret]

(Very matter-of-fact.) Yes; he was in your bedroom while I was there.

[Knox]

(Startled.) How do you know that? Anyway, he did not know who you were.

[Margaret]

Oh yes he did.

[Knox]

(Angrily.) And he has dared--?

[Margaret]

Yes; not two hours ago. He announced the fact before my father, my mother, Connie, the servants, everybody.

[Knox]

(Rising to his feet and beginning to pace perturbedly up and down.) The cur!

[Margaret] (Quietly.) I believe, among other things, I told him he was that myself.

(She laughs cynically.) Oh, it was a pretty family party, I assure you. Mother said she didn't believe it--but that was only hysteria. Of course she believes it--the worst. So does Connie--everybody.

[Knox]

(Stopping abruptly and looking at her horror-stricken.) You don't mean they charged----?

[Margaret]

No; I don't mean that. I mean more. They didn't charge. They accepted it as a proven fact that I was guilty. That you were my--lover.

[Knox]

On that man's testimony?

[Margaret]

He had two witnesses in an adjoining room.

[Knox]

(Relieved.) All the better. They can testify to nothing more than the truth, and the truth is not serious. In our case it is good, for we renounced each other.

[Margaret]

You don't know these men. It is easy to guess that they have been well trained. They would swear to anything.

(She laughs bitterly.) They are my father's men, you know, his paid sleuth-hounds.

[Knox]

(Collapsing in chair, holding head in hands, and groaning.) How you must have suffered. What a terrible time, what a terrible time! I can see it all--before everybody--your nearest and dearest. Ah, I could not understand, after our parting last night, why you should have sent for me today. But now I know.

[Margaret]

No you don't, at all.

[Knox]

(Ignoring her and again beginning to pace back and forth, thinking on his feet.) What's the difference? I am ruined politically. Their scheme has worked out only too well. Gifford warned me, you warned me, everybody warned me. But I was a fool, blind--with a fool's folly. There is nothing left but you now.

(He pauses, and the light of a new thought irradiates his face.) Do you know, Margaret, I thank God it has happened as it has. What if my usefulness is destroyed? There will be other men--other leaders. I but make way for another. The cause of the people can never be lost. And though I am driven from the fight, I am driven to you. We are driven together. It is fate. Again I thank God for it.

(He approaches her and tries to clasp her in his arms, but she steps back.)

[Margaret]

(Smiling sadly.) Ah, now you flame. The tables are reversed. Last night it was I. We are fortunate that we choose diverse times for our moods--else there would be naught but one sweet melting mad disaster.

[Knox]

But it is not as if we had done this thing deliberately and selfishly. We have renounced. We have struggled against it until we were beaten. And now we are driven together, not by our doing but Fate's. After this affair this morning there is nothing for you but to come to me. And as for me, despite my best, I am finished. I have failed. As I told you, the papers are stolen. There will be no speech this afternoon.

[Margaret]

(Quietly.) Yes there will.

[Knox]

Impossible. I would make a triple fool of myself. I would be unable to substantiate my charges.

[Margaret]

You will substantiate them. What a chain of theft it is. My father steals from the people. The documents that prove his stealing are stolen by Gherst. Hubbard steals them from you and returns them to my father. And I steal them from my father and pass them back to you.

[Knox] (Astounded.) You?--You?--

[Margaret]

Yes; this very morning. That was the cause of all the trouble. If I hadn't stolen them nothing would have happened. Hubbard had just returned them to my father.

[Knox]

(Profoundly touched.) And you did this for me--?

[Margaret]

Dear man, I didn't do it for you. I wasn't brave enough. I should have given in. I don't mind confessing that I started to do it for you, but it soon grew so terrible that I was afraid. It grew so terrible that had it been for you alone I should have surrendered. But out of the terror of it all I caught a wider vision, and all that you said last night rose before me. And I knew that you were right. I thought of all the people, and of the little children. I did it for them, after all. You speak for them. I stole the papers so that you could use them in speaking for the people. Don't you see, dear man?

(Changing to angry recollection.) Do you know what they cost me? Do you know what was done to me, to-day, this morning, in my father's house? I was shamed, humiliated, as I would never have dreamed it possible. Do you know what they did to me? The servants were called in, and by them I was stripped before everybody--my family, Hubbard, the Reverend Mr. Rutland, the secretary, everybody.

[Knox]

(Stunned.) Stripped--you?

[Margaret]

Every stitch. My father commanded it

[Knox]

(Suddenly visioning the scene.) My God!

[Margaret]

(Recovering herself and speaking cynically, with a laugh at his shocked face.) No; it was not so bad as that. There was a screen.

(Knox appears somewhat relieved.) But it fell down in the midst of the struggle.

[Knox]

But in heaven's name why was this done to you?

[Margaret]

Searching for the lost letters. They knew I had taken them.

(Speaking gravely.)

So you see, I have earned those papers. And I have earned the right to say what shall be done with them. I shall give them to you, and you will use them in your speech this afternoon.

[Knox]

I don't want them.

[Margaret]

(Going to bell and ringing.) Oh yes you do. They are more valuable right now than anything else in the world.

[Knox]

(Shaking his head.) I wish it hadn't happened.

[Margaret]

(Returning to him, pausing by his chair, and caressing his hair.) What?

[Knox]

This morning--your recovering the letters. I had adjusted myself to their loss, and the loss of the fight, and the finding of--you.

(He reaches up, draws down her hand, and presses it to his lips.) So--give them back to your father.

(Margaret draws quickly away from him.) (Enter Man-servant at right rear.)

[Margaret]

Send Linda to me.

(Exit Man-servant.)

[Knox]

What are you doing?

[Margaret]

(Sitting down.) I am going to send Linda for them. They are still in my father's house, hidden, of all places, behind Lincoln's portrait. He will guard them safely, I know.

[Knox]

(With fervor.) Margaret! Margaret! Don't send for them. Let them go. I don't want them.

(Rising and going toward her impulsively.) (Margaret rises and retreats, holding him off.) I want you--you--you.

(He catches her hand and kisses it. She tears it away from him, but tenderly.)

[Margaret]

(Still retreating, roguishly and tenderly.) Dear, dear man, I love to see you so. But it cannot be.

(Looking anxiously toward right rear.) No, no, please, please sit down.

(Enter Linda from right rear. She is dressed for the street.)

[Margaret]

(Surprised.) Where are you going?

[Linda]

Tommy and the nurse and I were going down town. There is some shopping she wants to do.

[Margaret]

Very good. But go first to my father's house. Listen closely. In the library, behind the portrait of Lincoln--you know it? (Linda nods.)

You will find a packet of papers. It took me five seconds to put it there. It will take you no longer to get it. Let no one see you. Let it appear as though you had brought Tommy to see his grandmother and cheer her up. You know she is not feeling very well just now. After you get the papers, leave Tommy there and bring them immediately back to me. Step on a chair to the ledge of the bookcase, and reach behind the portrait. You should be back inside fifteen minutes. Take the car.

[Linda]

Tommy and the nurse are already in it, waiting for me.

[Margaret]

Be careful. Be quick.

(Linda nods to each instruction and makes exit.)

[Knox]

(Bursting out passionately.) This is madness. You are sacrificing yourself, and me. I don't want them. I want you. I am tired. What does anything matter except love? I have pursued ideals long enough. Now I want you.

[Margaret]

(Gravely.) Ah, there you have expressed the pith of it. You will now forsake ideals for me--(He attempts to interrupt.) No, no; not that I am less than an ideal. I have no silly vanity that way. But I want you to remain ideal, and you can only by going on--not by being turned back. Anybody can play the coward and assert they are fatigued. I could not love a coward. It was your strength that saved us last night. I could not have loved you as I do, now, had you been weak last night. You can only keep my love--

[Knox]

(Interrupting, bitterly.) By foregoing it--for an ideal. Margaret, what is the biggest thing in the world? Love. There is the greatest ideal of all.

[Margaret]

(Playfully.) Love of man and woman?

[Knox]

What else?

[Margaret]

(Gravely.) There is one thing greater--love of man for his fellowman.

[Knox]

Oh, how you turn my preachments back on me. It is a lesson. Nevermore shall I preach. Henceforth--

[Margaret]

Yes.

(Chalmers enters unobserved at left, pauses, and looks on.)

[Knox]

Henceforth I love. Listen.

[Margaret]

You are overwrought. It will pass, and you will see your path straight before you, and know that I am right. You cannot run away from the fight.

[Knox]

I can--and will. I want you, and you want me--the man's and woman's need for each other. Come, go with me--now. Let us snatch at happiness while we may.

(He arises, approaches her, and gets her hand in his. She becomes more complaisant, and, instead of repulsing him, is willing to listen and receive.) As I have said, the fight will go on just the same. Scores of men, better men, stronger men, than I, will rise to take my place. Why do I talk this way? Because I love you, love you, love you. Nothing else exists in all the world but love of you.

[Margaret]

(Melting and wavering.) Ah, you flame, you flame.

(Chalmers utters an inarticulate cry of rage and rushes forward at Knox)

(Margaret and Knox are startled by the cry and discover Chalmer's presence.)

[Margaret]

(Confronting Chalmers and thrusting him slightly back from Knox, and continuing to hold him off from Knox.) No, Tom, no dramatics, please. This excitement of yours is only automatic and conventional. You really don't mean it. You don't even feel it. You do it because it is expected of you and because it is your training. Besides, it is bad for your heart. Remember Dr. West's warning--

(Chalmers, making an unusually violent effort to get at Knox, suddenly staggers weakly back, signs of pain on his face, holding a hand convulsively clasped over his heart. Margaret catches him and supports him to a chair, into which he collapses.)

[Chalmers]

(Muttering weakly.) My heart! My heart!

[Knox]

(Approaching.) Can I do anything?

[Margaret]

(Calmly.) No; it is all right. He will be better presently.

(She is bending over Chalmers, her hand on his wrist, when suddenly, as a sign he is recovering, he violently flings her hand off and straightens up.)

[Knox]

(Undecidedly.) I shall go now.

[Margaret]

No. You will wait until Linda comes back. Besides, you can't run away from this and leave me alone to face it.

[Knox]

(Hurt, showing that he will stay.) I am not a coward.

[Chalmers]

(In a stifled voice that grows stronger.) Yes; wait I have a word for you.

(He pauses a moment, and when he speaks again his voice is all right.)

(Witheringly.) A nice specimen of a reformer, I must say. You, who babbled yesterday about theft. The most high, righteous and noble Ali Baba, who has come into the den of thieves and who is also a thief.

(Mimicking Margaret.) "Ah, you flame, you flame!"

(In his natural voice.) I should call you; you thief, you thief, you wife-stealer, you.

[Margaret]

(Coolly.) I should scarcely call it theft.

[Chalmers]

(Sneeringly.) Yes; I forgot. You mean it is not theft for him to take what already belongs to him.

[Margaret]

Not quite that--but in taking what has been freely offered to him.

[Chalmers]

You mean you have so forgotten your womanhood as to offer--

[Margaret]

Just that. Last night. And Mr. Knox did himself the honor of refusing me.

[Knox]

(Bursting forth.) You see, nothing else remains, Margaret.

[Chalmers]

(Twittingly.) Ah, "Margaret."

[Knox]

(Ignoring him.) The situation is intolerable.

[Chalmers]

(Emphatically). It is intolerable. Don't you think you had better leave this house? Every moment of your presence dishonors it.

[Margaret]

Don't talk of honor, Tom.

[Chalmers]

I make no excuses for myself. I fancy I never fooled you very much. But at any rate I never used my own house for such purposes.

[Knox]

(Springing at him.) You cur!

[Margaret]

(Interposing.) No; don't. His heart.

[Chalmers]

(Mimicking Margaret.) No dramatics, please.

[Margaret]

(Plaintively, looking from one man to the other.) Men are so strangely and wonderfully made. What am I to do with the pair of you? Why won't you reason together like rational human beings?

[Chalmers]

(Bitterly gay, rising to his feet.) Yes; let us come and reason together. Be rational. Sit down and talk it over like civilized humans. This is not the stone age. Be reassured, Mr. Knox. I won't brain you. Margaret--

(Indicating chair,) Sit down. Mr. Knox--

(Indicating chair.) Sit down.

(All three seat themselves, in a triangle.) Behold the problem--the ever ancient and ever young triangle of the playwright and the short story writer--two men and a woman.

[Knox]

True, and yet not true. The triangle is incomplete. Only one of the two men loves the woman.

[Chalmers]

Yes?

[Knox]

And I am that man.

[Chalmers]

I fancy you're right.

(Nodding his head.) But how about the woman?

[Margaret]

She loves one of the two men.

[Knox]

And what are you going to do about it?

[Chalmers]

(Judicially.) She has not yet indicated the man.

(Margaret is about to indicate Knox.) Be careful, Madge. Remember who is Tommy's father.

[Margaret]

Tom, honestly, remembering what the last years have been can you imagine that I love you?

[Chalmers]

I'm afraid I've not--er--not flamed sufficiently.

[Margaret]

You have possibly spoken nearer the truth than you dreamed. I married you, Tom, hoping great things of you. I hoped you would be a power for good--

[Chalmers]

Politics again. When will women learn they must leave politics alone?

[Margaret]

And also, I hoped for love. I knew you didn't love me when we married, but I hoped for it to come.

[Chalmers]

And--er--may I be permitted to ask if you loved me?

[Margaret]

No; but I hoped that, too, would come.

[Chalmers]

It was, then, all a mistake.

[Margaret]

Yes; yours, and mine, and my father's.

[Knox]

We have sat down to reason this out, and we get nowhere. Margaret and I love each other. Your triangle breaks.

[Chalmers]

It isn't a triangle after all. You forget Tommy.

[Knox] (Petulantly.) Make it four-sided, then, but let us come to some conclusion.

[Chalmers] (Reflecting.) Ah, it is more than that. There is a fifth side. There are the stolen letters which Madge has just this morning restolen from her father. Whatever settlement takes place, they must enter into it.

(Changing his tone.) Look here, Madge, I am a fool. Let us talk sensibly, you and Knox and I. Knox, you want my wife. You can have her--on one consideration. Madge, you want Knox. You can have him on one consideration, the same consideration. Give up the letters and we'll forget everything.

[Margaret]

Everything?

[Chalmers]

Everything. Forgive and forget You know.

[Margaret]

You will forgive my--I--this--this adultery?

[Chalmers]

(Doggedly.) I'll forgive anything for the letters. I've played fast and loose with you, Madge, and I fancy your playing fast and loose only evens things up. Return the letters and you can go with Knox quietly. I'll see to that. There won't be a breath of scandal. I'll give you a divorce. Or you can stay on with me if you want to. I don't care. What I want is the letters. Is it agreed?

(Margaret seems to hesitate.)

[Knox]

(Pleadingly.) Margaret.

[Margaret]

[Chalmers] (Testily.) Am I not giving you each other? What more do you want? Tommy stays with me. If you want Tommy, then stay with me, but you must give up the letters.

[Margaret]

I shall not go with Mr. Knox. I shall not give up the letters. I shall remain with Tommy.

[Chalmers]

So far as I am concerned, Knox doesn't count in this. I want the letters and I want Tommy. If you don't give them up, I'll divorce you on statutory grounds, and no woman, so divorced, can keep her child. In any event, I shall keep Tommy.

[Margaret]

(Speaking steadily and positively.) Listen, Tom; and you, too, Howard. I have never for a moment entertained the thought of giving up the letters. I may have led you to think so, but I wanted to see just how low, you, Tom, could sink. I saw how low you--all of you--this morning sank. I have learned--much. Where is this fine honor, Tom, which put you on a man-killing rage a moment ago? You'll barter it all for a few scraps of paper, and forgive and forget adultery which does not exist--

(Chalmers laughs skeptically.)--though I know when I say it you will not believe me. At any rate, I shall not give up the letters. Not if you do take Tommy away from me. Not even for Tommy will I sacrifice all the people. As I told you this morning, there are two million Tommys, child-laborers all, who cannot be sacrificed for Tommy's sake or anybody's sake.

(Chalmers shrugs his shoulders and smiles in ridicule.)

[Knox]

Surely, Margaret, there is a way out for us. Give up the letters. What are they?--only scraps of paper. Why match them against happiness--our happiness?

[Margaret]

But as you told me yourself, those scraps of paper represent the happiness of millions of lives. It is not our happiness that is matched against some scraps of paper. It is our happiness against millions of lives--like ours. All these millions have hearts, and loves, and desires, just like ours.

[Knox]

But it is a great social and cosmic process. It does not depend on one man. Kill off, at this instant, every leader of the people, and the process will go on just the same. The people will come into their own. Theft will be unseated. It is destiny. It is the process. Nothing can stop it.

[Margaret]

But it can be retarded.

[Knox]

You and I are no more than straws in relation to it. We cannot stop it any more than straws can stop an ocean tide. We mean nothing--except to each other, and to each other we mean all the world.

[Margaret]

(Sadly and tenderly.) All the world and immortality thrown in.

[Chalmers]

(Breaking in.) Nice situation, sitting here and listening to a strange man woo my wife in terms of sociology and scientific slang.

(Both Margaret and Knox ignore him.)

[Knox]

Dear, I want you so.

[Margaret]

(Despairingly.) Oh! It is so hard to do right!

[Knox]

(Eagerly.) He wants the letters very badly. Give them up for Tommy. He will give Tommy for them.

[Chalmers]

No; emphatically no. If she wants Tommy she can stay on; but she must give up the letters. If she wants you she may go; but she must give up the letters.

[Knox]

(Pleading for a decision.) Margaret.

[Margaret]

Howard. Don't tempt me and press me. It is hard enough as it is.

[Chalmers]

(Standing up.) I've had enough of this. The thing must be settled, and I leave it to you, Knox. Go on with your love-making. But I won't be a witness to it. Perhaps I--er--retard the--er--the flame process. You two must make up your minds, and you can do it better without me. I am going to get a drink and settle my nerves. I'll be back in a minute.

(He moves toward exit to right.) She will yield, Knox. Be warm, be warm.

(Pausing in doorway.) Ah, you flame! Flame to some purpose. (Exit Chalmers.)

(Knox rests his head despairingly on his hand, and Margaret, pausing and looking at him sadly for a moment, crosses to him, stands beside him, and caresses his hair.)

[Margaret]

It is hard, I know, dear. And it is hard for me as well.

[Knox]

It is so unnecessary.

[Margaret]

No, it is necessary. What you said last night, when I was weak, was wise. We cannot steal from my child--

[Knox]

But if he gives you Tommy? Margaret

(Shaking her head.) Nor can we steal from any other woman's child--from all the children of all the women. And other things I heard you say, and you were right. We cannot live by ourselves alone. We are social animals. Our good and our ill--all is tied up with all humanity.

[Knox]

(Catching her hand and caressing it.) I do not follow you. I hear your voice, but I do not know a word you say. Because I am loving your voice--and you. I am so filled with love that there is no room for anything else. And you, who yesterday were so remote and unattainable, are so near and possible, so immediately possible. All you have to do is to say the word, one little word. Say it.--Say it.

(He carries her hand to his lips and holds it there.)

[Margaret]

(Wistfully.) I should like to. I should like to. But I can't.

[Knox]

You must.

[Margaret]

There are other and greater things that say must to me. Oh, my dear, have you forgotten them? Things you yourself have spoken to me--the great stinging things of the spirit, that are greater than you and I, greater even than our love.

[Knox]

I exhaust my arguments--but still I love you.

[Margaret]

And I love you for it.

(Chalmers enters from right, and sees Margaret still caressing Knox's hair.)

[Chalmers]

(With mild elation, touched with sarcasm.) Ah, I see you have taken my advice, and reached a decision.

(They do not answer. Margaret moves slowly away and seats herself.) (Knox remains with head bowed on hand.) No?

(Margaret shakes her head.) Well, I've thought it over, and I've changed my terms. Madge, go with Knox, take Tommy with you.

(Margaret wavers, but Knox, head bowed on hand, does not see her.) There will be no scandal. I'll give you a proper divorce. And you can have Tommy.

[Knox]

(Suddenly raising his head, joyfully, pleadingly.) Margaret!

(Margaret is swayed, but does not speak.)

[Chalmers]

You and I never hit it off together any too extraordinarily well, Madge; but I'm not altogether a bad sort. I am easy-going. I always have been easy-going. I'll make everything easy for you now. But you see the fix I am in. You love another man, and I simply must regain those letters. It is more important than you realize.

[Margaret]

(Incisively.) You make me realize how important those letters are.

[Knox]

Give him the letters, Margaret

[Chalmers]

So she hasn't turned them over to you yet?

[Margaret]

No; I still have them.

[Knox]

Give them to him.

[Chalmers]

Selling out for a petticoat. A pretty reformer.

[Knox] (Proudly.)

A better lover.

[Margaret]

(To Chalmers.)

He is weak to-day. What of it? He was strong last night. He will win back his strength again. It is human to be weak. And in his very weakness now, I have my pride, for it is the weakness of love. God knows I have been weak, and I am not ashamed of it. It was the weakness of love. It is hard to stifle one's womanhood always with morality. (Quickly.)

But do not mistake, Tom. This of mine is no conventional morality. I do not care about nasty gossipy tongues and sensation-mongering sheets; nor do I care what any persons of all the persons I know, would say if I went away with Mr. Knox this instant. I would go, and go gladly and proudly with him, divorce or no divorce, scandal or scandal triple-fold--if--if no one else were hurt by what I did. (To Knox.)

Howard, I tell you that I would go with you now, in all willingness and joy, with May-time and the songs of all singing birds in my heart--were it not for the others. But there is a higher morality. We must not hurt those others. We dare not steal our happiness from them. The future belongs to them, and we must not, dare not, sacrifice that future nor give it in pledge for our own happiness. Last night I came to you. I was weak--yes; more than that--I was ignorant. I did not know, even as late as last night, the monstrous vileness, the consummate wickedness of present-day conditions. I learned that today, this morning, and now. I learned that the morality of the Church was a pretense. Far deeper than it, and vastly more powerful, was the morality of the dollar. My father, my family, my husband, were willing to condone what they believed was my adultery. And for what? For a few scraps of paper that to them represented only the privilege to plunder, the privilege to steal from the people.

(To Chalmers.) Here are you, Tom, not only willing and eager to give me into the arms of the man you believe my lover, but you throw in your boy--your child and mine--to make it good measure and acceptable. And for what? Love of some woman?--any woman? No. Love of humanity? No. Love of God? No. Then for what? For the privilege of perpetuating your stealing from the people--money, bread and butter, hats, shoes, and stockings--for stealing all these things from the people.

(To Knox.) Now, and at last, do I realize how stern and awful is the fight that must be waged--the fight in which you and I, Howard, must play our parts and play them bravely and uncomplainingly--you as well as I, but I even more than you. This is the den of thieves. I am a child of thieves. All my family is composed of thieves. I have been fed and reared on the fruits of thievery. I have been a party to it all my life. Somebody must cease from this theft, and it is I. And you must help me, Howard.

[Chalmers]

(Emitting a low long whistle.) Strange that you never went into the suffragette business. With such speech-making ability you would have been a shining light.

[Knox]

(Sadly.) The worst of it is, Margaret, you are right. But it is hard that we cannot be happy save by stealing from the happiness of others. Yet it hurts, deep down and terribly, to forego you. (Margaret thanks him with her eyes.)

[Chalmers]

(Sarcastically.) Oh, believe me, I am not too anxious to give up my wife. Look at her. She's a pretty good woman for any man to possess.

[Margaret]

Tom, I'll accept a quiet divorce, marry Mr. Knox, and take Tommy with me--on one consideration.

[Chalmers]

And what is that?

[Margaret]

That I retain the letters. They are to be used in his speech this afternoon.

[Chalmers]

No they're not.

[Margaret]

Whatever happens, do whatever worst you can possibly do, that speech will be given this afternoon. Your worst to me will be none too great a price for me to pay.

[Chalmers]

No letters, no divorce, no Tommy, nothing.

[Margaret]

Then will you compel me to remain here. I have done nothing wrong, and I don't imagine you will make a scandal.

(Enter Linda at right rear, pausing and looking inquiringly.) There they are now.

(To Linda.) Yes; give them to me.

(Linda, advancing, draws package of documents from her breast. As she is handing them to Margaret, Chalmers attempts to seise them.)

[Knox]

(Springing forward and thrusting Chalmers back.) That you shall not!

(Chalmers is afflicted with heart-seizure, and staggers.)

[Margaret]

(Maternally, solicitously.) Tom, don't! Your heart! Be careful!

(Chalmers starts to stagger toward bell) Howard! Stop him! Don't let him ring, or the servants will get the letters away from us. (Knox starts to interpose, but Chalmers, growing weaker, sinks into a chair, head thrown back and legs out straight before him.) Linda, a glass of water.

(Linda gives documents to Margaret, and makes running exit to right rear.) (Margaret bends anxiously over Chalmers.) (A pause.)

[Knox]

(Touching her hand.) Give them to me.

(Margaret gives him the documents, which he holds in his hand, at the same time she thanks him with her eyes.) (Enter Linda with glass of water, which she hands to Margaret.) (Margaret tries to place the glass to Chalmer's lips.)

[Chalmers]

(Dashing the glass violently from her hand to the floor and speaking in smothered voice.) Bring me a whiskey and soda.

(Linda looks at Margaret interrogatively. Margaret is undecided what to say, shrugs her shoulders in helplessness, and nods her head.)

(Linda makes hurried exit to right.)

[Margaret]

(To Knox.) You will go now and you will give the speech.

[Knox]

(Placing documents in inside coat pocket.) I will give the speech.

[Margaret]

And all the forces making for the good time coming will be quickened by your words. Let the voices of the millions be in it.

(Chalmers, legs still stretched out, laughs cynically.)

You know where my heart lies. Some day, in all pride and honor, stealing from no one, hurting no one, we shall come together--to be together always.

[Knox]

(Drearily.) And in the meantime?

[Margaret]

We must wait

[Knox]

(Decidedly.) We will wait.

[Chalmers]

(Straightening up.) For me to die? eh?

(During the following speech Linda enters from right with whiskey and soda and gives it to Chalmers, who thirstily drinks half of it. Margaret dismisses Linda with her eyes, and Linda makes exit to right rear.)

[Knox]

I hadn't that in mind, but now that you mention it, it seems to the point. That heart of yours isn't going to carry you much farther. You have played fast and loose with it as with everything else. You are like the carter who steals hay from his horse that he may gamble. You have stolen from your heart. Some day, soon, like the horse, it will quit We can afford to wait. It won't be long.

[Chalmers]

(After laughing incredulously and sipping his whiskey.) Well, Knox, neither of us wins. You don't get the woman. Neither do I. She remains under my roof, and I fancy that is about all. I won't divorce her. What's the good? But I've got her tied hard and fast by Tommy. You won't get her.

(Knox, ignoring hint, goes to right rear and pauses in doorway.)

[Margaret]

Work. Bravely work. You are my knight. Go.

(Knox makes exit.)

(Margaret stands quietly, face averted from audience and turned toward where Knox was last to be seen.)

[Chalmers]

Madge.

(Margaret neither moves nor answers.) I say, Madge.

(He stands up and moves toward her, holding whiskey glass in one hand.) That speech is going to make a devil of a row. But I don't think it will be so bad as your father says. It looks pretty dark, but such things blow over. They always do blow over. And so with you and me. Maybe we can manage to forget all this and patch it up somehow.

(She gives no sign that she is aware of his existence.) Why don't you speak? (Pause.)

(He touches her arm.) Madge.

[Margaret]

(Turning upon him in a blase of wrath and with unutterable loathing.)

Don't touch me!

(Chalmers recoils.)

Curtain


THE END.

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Jack London

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