Charles Rann Kennedy.

The army with banners,a divine comedy of this very day, in five acts, The scene individable, setting forth the story of morning in the early millennium online

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THE ARMY WITH BANNERS



THE
ARMY WITH BANNERS

A Divine Comedy of This Very Day, in Five
Acts, Scene Individable, Setting Forth the
Story of a Morning in the Early Millennium

BY

CHARLES RANN KENNEDY



Who is she that looketh forth as the
morning, fair as the moon, clear as
the sun and terrible as an army with
banners ?

SONG OF SOLOMON




NEW YORK

B. W. HUEBSCH

MCMXIX



COPYRIGHT, 1919
BY CHARLES RANN KENNEDY

All stage, recitation, publication, translation and

other rights reserved. Application should

be made to . W. Huebsch



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



TO

M. F. B.

YOU ARE THE FLOWER AND

LOVELINESS OF ALL THE

BLOSSOMING MAYS!"



458619



PERSONS OF THE PLAY

MARY BLISS, A Poor Fool

JULIA MANNERS, A Lady of Good Motives

JOB LIMP, A Man of the Past

TIMOTHY HODGE, A Man of the Present

TOMMY TRAIL, A Man of the Minute

POMEROY WRAGG, A Man of Almost any Time

DAFTY, A Man Out of Time Altogether

THE PLACE

An Orphanage

THE TIME

At the Coming of the Lord



Mass, mind you! And then we call ourselves
a decent protestant country.



LlMl. It s this everlasting pampering.
HODGE. It s popery.

LIMP. The woman s a fool. And he s the devil him
self.

He gestures savagely towards the Scul
lery.

Did you see her?

HODGE. What! Let her nab hold of me alone, be
fore you others. . . . Not much! You know
what she is.

This provokes LIMP to a bitter snort.

Course, I believe in the higher education, my
self. Didn t I build the Baptist Young Peo
ple s Self-Improvement Institution? Only, it
don t all seem proper to me, somehow. Did
you see him?

LIMP. Him! He s off gallivanting with the little
girls. But his hoofprint s everywhere. I
thought that cryptic paranoiac was engaged to
shovel coal !



HODGE (quoting). Stoke the furnace, and do what s
wanted down below. I was by, when she made
the contract. And too well paid at that.

LIMP. Well, he s cook now ! That, added to the rest
of the tomfooleries. Made them cakes!

HODGE. Seems sinful, don t it? And all this want
in the world. Good cakes, as might have been
given to the poor. The deserving poor.

LIMP grunts aggrievedly.

It s not even as if they paid their whack. After
all, it s a charity, and ought to be run as such.
But she never would listen to me.

LIMP. There was one, a mountainous macaroon with
a slab of ice on it ... I can see it now. Ugh !
And me with a liver.

HODGE. Awful !

LIMP. Awful! It s torments of the damned! . . .
Did I ever tell you about my liver, Timothy?

HODGE. You did, Job. Reglar, the last seven years.
And he eyes him firmly.

Funny thing, never had a liver. But we all
have our troubles. Mine s fatty degeneration
of the heart. Doctor says I ll go, that way,
sometime.

[3]



This does not really comfort JOB. He
moves irritably to the fireplace.

LIMP. I wish you wouldn t be forever contemplating
tombs.

HODGE. We got to die, Job.

LIMP (sneering). There is no death! Ask her.

HODGE. / ain t responsible for her profanity. You d
better blame that window. That s what s ad
dled her brain. Twisting Scripture !

He turns reproachfully towards the win
dow.

Don t look like no Angel of the Resurrection,
neither. Looks to me, more like one of them
new-fangled cover designs.

He straddles the chair and faces LIMP,
who has his back to the fire.

It s all this thirteenth century falderal. Mo
ment Nicholas Biggs left her the money, I knew
what it would be. I did my best. But no!
Orphanage! So she buys this ramshackle old
has-been. If she d invested in my Lucifer
Power and Light Company, as you others did,
by today she d have been a Rockyfeller. I
[4]



don t recall the exact present market-price of
Gothic nunneries; but you know what Lucifers
been doing since the war. Besides the patriot
ism ! Investing with me would have served
the two most improving principles of the hour:
Business As Usual and Doing Your Bit.

He bites his knuckle meditatively. The
action points to an acquisitive infancy.

LIMP. If she d only had the taste to make it a mu
seum !

HODGE. Or else the gumption to run it as a ruin.
Simply wanted a turnstile and a man at fifteen
per. No! Education! Let us resume from
where we halted in thirteen something!
Course, education s needed. My young
Baptists now, I suppose you d call them edu
cated. They don t dance, they don t drink,
they don t go to theaytres, don t do anything!
What more do you want? And I make out
of it! ...

He discovers a nice wart behind his ear.

If the place paid! If it was only one of them
high-priced schools, where the little girls run
around in automobiles and the little boys play
golf all day! But orphans! Penniless or
phans! Not even orphans, some of them!
[5]



There are children in this establishment today,
who have healthy well-fed parents walking the
earth. I taxed her with that once. Know
what she said? They ll all be walking, pres
ently. That was the very first time I noticed,
she was going peculiar in her head.

LIMP. Peculiar! It s dementia praecox!

HODGE. Then, the things she s teaching them! My
young people would be shocked. Forms and
ceremonies, and play-acting and sex hygiene,
you d think they was so many grown-up married
men and women, the unpleasant things they
know. Have you seen their Greek dancing?
I have! And they do it openly, brazenly! I
don t know how you think; but I know how I
was brought up to consider little girls legs.
And of course, since he s come . . . !
I may be only a plain God-fearing man of busi
ness; but I hope I represent the spirit of an
enlightened protestant age. And I tell you, it
hurts my inside, to see so much good money,
sort of getting away.

And he is back at his mouth once more.

LIMP. It isn t the thirteenth century. It s this mod
ern levelling. Socialism! And humouring

indigent brats with macaroons.
[6]



HODGE. I m against socialism, myself. It destroys
incentive.

LIMP. Mediaevalism s all right in its proper place:
the past. Something to escape to, from the
loathsome present. But why resuscitate it for
a creche of undiscerning sucklings? Can they
grasp symbolism, grotesquerie, the gargoyle?
Can they grasp the creative technicalities of such
works as Dante s Inferno f No! lean. I ve
a liver.

And he indicates that organ, feelingly.

HODGE. You remind me of corpses. Some people
would travel long weary miles for a corpse. I
don t mean merely clergymen and undertakers.
Grandmothers, aunts, next-door neighbours,
people of that sort. My mother loved them.
Course, corpses have their uses, same as
ourselves; but as you say, why resuscitate?
End of the world and all that, yes! Only, I
mean actually. Nice lot of dummies we d
look, wouldn t we, if all the graveyards was sud
denly to ...

LIMP (explosively). Look here, Timothy! Do you
propose chirruping your charnel fancies the
whole morning?

Hodge regards him with melancholy dis
pleasure.



HODGE. Ain t you got no higher nature, Job? Don t
be liverish. Have a heart.

He claps his hand rememberingly to his
own. His intended diagnosis, how
ever, is prevented by the tumultuous
appearance of POMEROY WRAGG
from the Refectory. He is blown in,
as it were, upon gales of childish glee.

POMEROY is a small old man, spick and
span, now bespattered with confec
tionery. He is in funeral garb,
wears national emblems in his lapel,
and seems perturbed.

WRAGG. The poisonous young reptiles ! This comes
of Magna Charta ! This comes of granting
popular liberties ! Give them a taste of gen
uine feudalism, say I ! Racks, tortures, thumb
screws ! Look at me !

HODGE. Well, you do look a mug. What have they
done?

WRAGG. Done ! Plastered me up with cake and ba
nana skin, and all the filthy leavings of their
gluttonous young mouths.

LIMP. The little swine! Why?

WRAGG. Because, like a babbling bivalve, I cast my

[8]



pearls before them. You know my platform.
You know the priceless gems I m bawling night
and day into the flapping ears of every ass I
meet. I gave them all. And they plastered
me with offal.

HODGE. Signifying disagreement?
WRAGG. Disagreement ! Worse !
LIMP. Contempt?

WRAGG. Worse ! They took me for a funny man,
and hugged me !

The others reply incredulously:
BOTH. No! ...

WRAGG. I tell you, they did ! I can feel their sticky
kisses all over me. Then they romped me up
and down, and made me this disgusting mess.
Dressed for the Memorial Service, too! If
ever this leaks out, I m lost. Let people once
get it into their heads, I m funny; and I shall
perish from the earth. Look at me !

He gyrates. Upon his back is pinned
a paper, bearing the legend in a large
scrawling hand: MISTER WRAGG
IS A WAGG.
[9]



HODGE (laughing). Well, that s funny!
WRAGG (turning furiously) . What s funny?
LIMP (testily). On your back, man! On your back!
He unpins and gives him the paper.

WRAGG. That s that little devil in yellow, who wanted
me to play pickaback! (spitefully) ; I suppose
she thinks that s poetry !

HODGE. Here, save them pins. I wouldn t be the
man I am today, if I hadn t saved pins.

LIMP hands them to him. He sticks
them lovingly in his waistcoat edge.

WRAGG. This comes of helping friends! Pulling us
out of our comfortable Sunday beds to play
peepbo! Has anyone seen Julia? She
planned this conspiracy.

Ho X3E. We ain t seen Julia, nor her. And we been
poking about since eight. Job in the kitchen:
me in the refectory.

LIMP. Picked up a few choice titbits, too ! / did. I
don t know what Timothy . . .

But TIMOTHY muses upon some prob
lem of his own.
[10]



HODGE. Them poor-boxes in the refectory, as the kids
put their pennies in, ain t no good. You can
poke them out with your knife, as easy as easy.

WRAGG. Well, we must await Julia s pleasure; that s
all!

LIMP. Yes, and supposing she turns up ! Nice catas
trophe we d bring about, and no Julia behind
us!

WRAGG. We must talk her down!
LIMP. Mary Bliss !

He glooms ironically, as Pluto might
upon the bootless dreams of Sisyphos.

HODGE. Here s Julia.

JULIA MANNERS trips briskly down the
stairway. She is a widow of means,
dressed elegantly but severely in plum-
coloured silk.

JULIA. Everybody here? Charming! Have they
sent the talking machine? We ll want that.
Ah ! Opposite the Bible ! Most appropriate !

She joins them. They gather around
her.

in]



I ve been up in her room, alone, rummaging
through her things. Now, Job, don t get punc
tilious: our plot necessitates it. I will say one
thing for her she s orderly. You know, that
crafty kind of orderliness, covering an oblique
mind.

Have you obtained anything?

She happens to glance at HODGE, who
takes the enquiry personally ;

HODGE. Me ? Nothing to speak of.

JULIA. / have! IVe discovered everything. It con
firms our vilest suspicions.

HODGE. About her ?
LIMP. About him?

JULIA. About both of them. It s perfectly unspeak
able : I ll tell you all about it at once. Let s sit
down and be comfortable.

They do so. JULIA, in the middle of
the high-backed bench: LIMP, on her
left. WRAGG takes the faldstool, be
low the fire. HODGE, the chair.

LIMP. Looks as if we were going to get somewhere at
last.

[12]



The others shush him down.

JULIA. I always knew that Mary Bliss was a fool.
Her educational theories prove that. And it
was I, remember, first drew attention to her
queer mental . . . Well, today s revelation
caps everything! Though really, if I hadn t
been a born innocent, I should have guessed
that too! For all the town talks of it! . . .
Listen! I ve been reading her diary.

LIMP. What! . . .

JULIA. Yes, I m aware it isn t done: you needn t tell
me that! After all, it s the motive! . . .
Look here, I can t proceed with my story, if
you keep on impugning my honour in this
ungentlemanly way. Timothy understands.
Don t you, Tim?

HODGE (complaisan tly). Oh, yes.



JULIA. There, you see ! We can t stand selfishly by,
and watch that creature pass to perdition, with
out some help. We must save her from her
self: we re her friends. Well, aren t we?

OMNES (vociferously). Oh, yes! Yes!

JULIA. Then, doesn t that shew? As I say, it s the
intention. Even God searches our hearts.
Isn t that a kind of reading diaries?



Andy divinely fortified, she drops to the
confidential;

My dears, it s practically a confession. Every
single wickedness set down in barefaced black
and white. As for him! I had my misgivings
before; but now I could tell you a pretty thing
or two ! The trickster has her completely un
der his thumb.

WRAGG. Dafty?

JULIA. Dafty.

HODGE. What s his real name, I wonder?

JULIA. Timothy, what does it matter? Who cares
about the real name of a brute that stokes fur
naces? Though no doubt he has diabolically
deep reasons for concealment!

HODGE. It s that sleepy look of his ! Sort of croc
odile.

JULIA. Sleepy ! He s as wide awake as ...

LIMP. Can t imagine what she sees in the scoundrel!

JULIA (pityingly). My dear Job! Don t you know,
persons like Dafty only have to dress peculiarly,
and cultivate a few eccentricities, for every mis-



guided woman in the world to jump at them?
That s what they do: jump! The children,
too. That little yellow thing especially.

HODGE. Course, it s plain, what he s after!

He taps his pocket. Coins are heard
clinking.

JULIA. Precisely our motive for stepping in. Nich
olas Biggs only left her the money in one of his
cranks, ghastly old fiend! If her friends won t
look after it, who will? It s our sacred duty!
We owe it to the dead ! She shall not squander
it on worthless outsiders ! Worming in !

HODGE. It s her immortal soul, I m thinking of!

JULIA. Exactly! We must remember that, too.
After all, if we do read diaries, we are bring
ing her the consolations of religion. Else, why
did I send the talking machine?

LIMP. Well, why?

JULIA (mysteriously). I m reserving that. Tim
othy, see if the record s there.

He rises heavily to do so; but WRAGG S
next utterance diverts him.



[15]



WRAGG. Queer old stick, Nicholas! Clever as the
deuce ! Billions, out of manufacturing optical
instruments 1

HODGE. Dead wrong! It was monster enterprise,
bold investment, made him. Till he began
smashing telescopes.

WRAGG. I never heard that.

HODGE. There s not many as knows. Kept dark!
Business!

He compresses his lips with the pro
found inscrutability of the man of af
fairs. LIMP 50 on pricks that bubble;

LIMP. No mystery! Everybody knows it was relig
ious mania! Runs through the whole family:
either her way, or old Nick s ! She flies off into
erotic mysticism and esoteric orphanages: he,
after a perfectly brilliant financial career, sud
denly declares himself a damned spirit, hacks his
observatory to smithereens, and goes gibbering
into limbo under the hallucination that the sky
is an Enormous Eye.

JULIA. Enormous. . . . How horrible !
WRAGG. Ever see him?

[16]



LIMP. Nobody did. But his influence was unfathom
able. Wherever any scheming of transcendent
magnitude was afoot, you might be sure, deep
down, abysmally, under one pseudonym or an
other, old . . .

HODGE. Ssh! Daftyl . . .

This, he delivers in a stentorian stage
whisper.

DAFTY enters from the Scullery with a
log. He is a quaint soul in goggles,
shambling of gait and bent, a whimsi
cal twinkle in his eye; and rather nob-
bishly clad in buff nankeens with but
toned gaiters and a brimstone vest.

He places the log on the fire, beams af
fably upon the company, and re
marks;

DAFTY. Weather, we re having ! And thunder brew
ing!

They stiffen, making no reply. Noth
ing daunted, he tries a crack with
WRAGG ;

Fond of their bit of fun! That Golden One,
now ! Quite a poet, I must say. And only
seven !



WRAGG pokes vigorously at the fire.
DAFTY watches amiably, with an air
of heartening the well-meant bung-
ling of an amateur. He then
spreads further radiance, ostensibly
addressing the Gothic arches above
him.

They enjoyed their macaroon. I must have
that recorded in the diary.

The others focus LIMP and JULIA in
turn, as they register these trifles.

r And DAFTY makes for his den. On his
journey, he bethinks him of another
word; and with a glint at HODGE, pro
duces from his vest, a coin.

Can any of you kind friends break me this?

HODGE can. The others will see him
in the nether gulf first.

HODGE. I can give you pennies.

DAFTY. Thank you. Pennies will do nicely.

He regards him slumberously, an air of
the Nile about him.

The transaction is made. HODGE bites
[18]



the silver to test it. He then tickles
the crook of his mouth with his fore
finger, making a secretive brokers jib.
DAFTY studies the action heed fully,
and imitates it. This done, he shuf
fles towards the Scullery.

But JULIA can restrain herself no
longer;

JULIA. You ! Stoker !
DAFTY. Ma am?

And he pops his head round the back of
the bench.

JULIA. Have you any earthly inkling of what decent
godly people mean by morality?

DAFTY (chuckling). Bless your heart, yes, ma am!
Means making yourself disagreeable to the in
decent devilish ones. Only, don t bother your
head, ma am: you get over it! I was moral
myself once. But I learned a game worth doz
ens of it. I ll tell you all about it some day,
when you and I ... (winking) ; You know!
Sweet by and bye !

JULIA. Thank you, I am not desirous of learning.

HODGE. I see what s wrong with this fellow. He s
one of these word-cubists. You know, calls
[19]



black white; and twists things inside out. Job,
you re a scholar : what s the name of that thing
they do?

LIMP (snapping). Paradox!

HODGE. Thought so ! You see, it ll be anarchy next,
and free love, and got no religion.

DAFTY (cunningly). Yes, I have, tool
JULIA. You! Religious!

DAFTY. Yes, ma am, damnably! Only, don t tell
anybody. The moment you profess religion,
you re put down for something serious at once;
and all your little jokes go for nothing. I m
considered quite a funny man, so long as peo
ple don t imagine me religious. Only whack
them over the back with a scourge : they split
with laughter! They never dream of apos
tolic function. Another thing! Keeping
mum staves off the saved. I ve had whole
Sunday Schools jigging around me, just because
some busybody blurted. And it s useless in
forming them, their god s a Zulu s devil; and
their revivalism stinks to heaven. They never
see the joke. They yell out halleluiah, and
take your name in vain, and pump you by the
hand : till you wish yourself in hell, for a spice
of solid home-comfort and congeniality. Mind

[20]



you, I believe God s love is infinite. There is
salvation for all even the saved; if only
they ll repent, and demolish a few big taber
nacles. Why, I knew a Methodist once, who
had been saved fifteen times ; but the Lord found
him at last, and now he s quite an honest mem
ber of society a low comedian.

Meantime, his hearers have risen to
sublime aloofness. They would not
hearken to the bellowings of Apol-
lyon. Now, however, they begin to
descend rapidly ;

You see, it s all a matter of eyesight. You
can t get good eyes out of bad spectacles. That
master optician, my good friend, Roger Bacon,
in this very thirteenth century, knew that. Then
again: take telescopes! An instrument can be
made with power enough to reach beyond the
stars. But it s no heavenly use to a blind man.
He only has to learn that it exists, to be misled.
Better smash it altogether and have done!
You know those coloured flames and flickers,
when you press your eyeballs? Well, his poor
black mind gets lost in them; and he fancies he
beholds the shining of the Seven Fiery Spirits
that burn about the Great White Throne.

LIMP (bitingly). What do you know about it?

[21]



DAFTY (seraphically) . Ah, that s the funniest joke of
all. I have seen those Spirits.

JULIA. That s enough infidelity, stoker! You can
go-

DAFTY (ruefully). Wish my jokes could! Seems to
be no place for really delicate humour nowa
days.

And he seeks the coaly comfort of his
underworld.

Alone, at last, they let loose their pent-
up feelings;

JULIA. And that s the influence, she deems desirable
for children !

LIMP. If he d only be contented with that Stygian pit,
unto which it has pleased the Unknowable to
call him ! But he comes up ! He gallivants !
He cooks!

WRAGG. He plays the fiddle, while those young imps
jig!

HODGE. I ve seen him caper like an old he-goat, him
self! He took off Satan in their pageant!
Togged up and hollered like an actor !

[22]



LIMP. He makes them fireworks I They tell him all
their beastly little secrets. He kisses the girls !

JULIA. And sows within their minds the tares of sin
and irreligion !

HODGE. Something must be done I
WRAGG. Something drastic!
LIMP. Something excruciating!
HODGE. Something really nasty!

JULIA. Precisely! That s why we re here. Now,
listen.

They bank their fires. They divine she
has something subterranean to im
part. She has.

We must try to save her first. It wouldn t be
quite kind to condemn her, if we didn t try to
save her first. Then, if she s obstinate as
she will be ! there s the diary. As I say,
we re her friends, and have every right to be
have as such. So that s settled. And we can
begin saving.

I have everything ready. The talking ma
chine, the hymn books, even the collection plate.
And he ll be here within the hour.



OMNES. Who?
JULIA. Ah! ...

She now springs her trump card.
Tommy Trail !
OMNES. Who! . . .
JULIA. Tommy Trail.
WRAGG. You ll never get him.
JULIA. I have.

HODGE. You re a miracle! Tommy demands gold
mines !

JULIA. He does. Then there was the bracelet for
Mother, and Johnny s little diamond pin; but
I thought if we all chipped in. ... And it s
really an investment, rightly considered. Be
sides saving her soul!

What do you say, Pomeroy? You ve been
speaking on the same platform with him lately.

WRAGG. I say, Tommy Trail is the biggest patriotic
bonanza, booming today. That man, with a
flag and a hymn, can do more for recruiting in
four minutes, than the whole of Pentecost.

[24]



JULIA. What power ! I do hope his voice . . .

WRAGG. That s no matter! When his voice croaks,
he gets there with gesticulation. I ve known
him gnaw the pulpit before today.

JULIA. What inspiration !

WRAGG. Doctrine, a bit crude . . .

JULIA. Ah, but then he s so sincere !

LIMP. So s a homicidal maniac! American, isn t he?

WRAGG. Distinctly: representatively! Emerson was
one sort. He s another.

LIMP. Well, he won t get anything out of me. I
hate his methods.

JULIA. My dear Job, he reaches people you and I
wouldn t touch ! Really horrid low-class
people, you know !

LIMP. Julia, his language! . . .

JULIA. How absurd you are ! The man was brought
up on a football field ! You can t expect a man
brought up on a football field, to talk like
Ruskin !

LIMP. Yes, but his god his disagreeable god! . . .

[25]



JULIA. Now, Job ! You can t go judging everybody
by his god! Do be charitable!

HODGE. Look at the theaytres he s closed! The
good beer he s had wasted !

WRAGG. Look at that last sermon, Render unto
Casar! Thousands rallied to the standard of
civilization !

HODGE. And the one before, as broke the strike in
my own industry! That was, Suffer, little
children.

JULIA. Then his influence in the Happy Home! I
know an auctioneer, a church deacon, who for
sook his wife. Now, instead of playing cards
with low companions, he sings hymns to her.

HODGE. In Tommy, you get all the high-class fun of
Sarah Bernhardt and Charlie Chaplin knocked
into one, without the wickedness. He s one of
the elect all right, is Tommy! Oil of salvation
regular oozes from him! The very unions
believe and tremble when he comes ! He
makes the worker content with his wages!
How? Offers the blighter heaven: if he re
fuses gives him hell.

LIMP. Yes, hell and Tommy!

[26]



JULIA. Job, do remember you are a gentleman!
. . . Oh, she ll be here directly, and he ll spoil
everything! . . .

Tommy has been taken up by people quite as
good as you ! People of the highest rank !
The Colorado-Grubbs!

LIMP. Humph !

JULIA (sharply). What s that?

LIMP. My opinion of the Colorado-Grubbs!
Humph !

JULIA. Well, so long as you confine yourself to re
marks like that, when she . . .
Ah! ...

A thin high voice is heard above, quaver-
ing " Lead, kindly Light"

Remember! Salvation first. When she re
fuses . . .

HODGE ( histrionically ) . And humour her !



His whisper wakes the age-long silence of
the loftiest vaults above.



JULIA. Ssh !



And they all sit rigid with anticipation.

[27]



Miss BLISS appears from the right, tot
tering down the stairway by aid of a


1 3 4 5 6

Online LibraryCharles Rann KennedyThe army with banners,a divine comedy of this very day, in five acts, The scene individable, setting forth the story of morning in the early millennium → online text (page 1 of 6)