Ward Macauley.

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your girl, too.

Ezra. My girl ?

Molly. Why, yes, Edith Lawson. He's buzzing around
her like a bee 'round a hive.

Ezra. But Miss Lawson isn't my girl, Molly.

Molly. You'd like her to be, wouldn't you ?

Ezra. Now, look here, Molly.'

(Molly laughs. They start into the post-office and meet
Lawson at the door.^

Lawson. Just a minute, Ezry.

Ezra. Certainly. Get my mail, too, will you, Molly ?


(Molly enters the post-office and Ezra and Lawson come

up stage.^

Lawson. Ezry, my daughter tells me you're coming up
to the house to-morrow night. You were up a couple of
weeks ago. Now I'm not objecting to friendly visits — not a
bit, not a mite, providin' I'm sure they're not intended for
anything else — catch the point? I'm ambitious for Edith.
1 expect her to shine in social circles some day, and I don't
want her to settle down in Wheatville or any of that non-
sense. Turnersport, Washington, the world, is the place for
a girl like Edith.

Ezra (^quietly amused). She can be in only one place
at a time, Mr, Lawson.

Lawson. Wheatville's not the place. Write that in your
little book. If you want Edilh, you'll have to be something
bigger'n a school-teacher in Wheatville.

Ezra. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Lawson. Edith can't wait for Rome to be built.

Ezra. Did it ever occur to you that somebody else be-
sides you might be ambitious for Edith?

Lawson. Well, let them that is sho>v it. Ambitious is
as ambitious does, accordin' to the old proverb.

Ezra. 1 thought it was handsome.

Lawson. Same thing, anyway. The point is this, if
you're after Edith, you've got to bring along something
worth having.

Ezra {smilins^'). I guess if Edith should care for me —
mind you I'm not saying she does — wouldn't she be wiUing
to give me a year or two to get started?

Lawson. Mebbe. For me, I'm strong for those that
have got there. Intentions is good, but the train does run
off the track occasionally. You ought to break into poli-
tics, Ezra. That's the way to get along. Why don't you
go to the convention and look thmgs over ?

Ezra. I'd like to, but I promised old Tom Moran I'd
bring a book up for him to read. Now that he's laid up
he's pretty lonesome. And then I must get back home to

Lawson. I shouldn't think you'd need much studyin*
to teach them youngsters their three R's.

Ezra. Maybe 1 might have to study something else — •
who knows?


Lawson. Cor'spondeiice course, I'll bet.

(Molly comes out with a letter ^ which she is readings and
a bag of chocolates. Under her arm she has a large
package^ resembling a book. She encounters Lawson
entering the post- office. )

Molly. Have a chocolate, Mr. Lawson ? Oh, isn't
that too bad ? Not one left. Here's your mail, Mr. Little.

(Lawson enters post-office. Ezra unwraps package and
produces a large law-book.^

Ezra. I'm glad to get this. I'm about ready for it.

Molly. What's the name of it ?

Ezra. This is a copy of Remington on Equity.

(Molly sticks up her nose.')

Molly. Oh, I'd rather read something by Rose Carey
or Mary L, Holmes. Their stories are lovely, don't you
think so?

Ezra. I must confess a certain degree of ignorance re-
garding those classic works.

Molly. I'll lend you some. They're grand !

(^Enter Wright, l., hurriedly.)

Wright. You're just the man I want to see, Ezra. I
hear you've made a special study of factories, industrial
conditions and the like of that.

Ezra. I've read a bit along those lines, and last vaca-
tion I studied the factories first hand.

Wright. And you wrote an article for the ^' World
Magazine "

Ezra. Yes — —

Wright {interrupting^). And I read it. Now, we're
trying to figure out a plank on that subject. The platform's
all done but that. Come over and take a look at it, won't
you ?

Ezra. If I can be of any service, I'll come. Molly, can
you take this book over to Mr. Moran, and tell him I'll
come down after supper?

Molly. Of course 1 will.

{Takes small book and exits R.)


Wright {taking Ezra's arm as they exeunt L.j. We've
got a platform that'll make the Hon. Kent Howell sit up
and take notice, believe me.

{Exeimty L.)

(^Enter Zeke Jones and Jed Smith, noisily, from the post-

Jed. Seems mighty good to be off dooty.

Zeke. I got a higher dooty that calls me right now. I
want to ask you a special favor.

Jed. Strange, by hop. 1 was a-going to ask you to do
something for me.

Zeke {impressively^. When the committee meets to-
night 1 want you to vote for me for chairman.

Jed. By hop, just what 1 was a-going to ask you to do.

Zeke. last you first.

Jed. But I was a-goin' to ask you.

Zeke. I'd be the best man. I can make a better speech.

Jed. I know, but I'm handsomer — more imposin' like.

Zeke. You are pretty fair to middlin' for looks, Jed,
but looks ain't what count in politics. Mebbe when women
vote, the handsomest man'll win. Come on. There's a
good fellow. Vote for me for chairman.

Jed. I will on one condition.

Zeke. Sure, anything you like.

Jed, You agree to the condition ?

Zeke. My word's good, ain't it?

Jed. The condition is that you withdraw in my favor.

Zeke. Oh, I can't do that, Jed.

Jed. You agreed to the condition. Ain't you a man o'
your word ?

Zeke (sharply). Any one insinyate to the contrary?

Jed. if you don't do what you said what kin a feller
think ?

Zeke. Did I specifically state I'd withdraw ?

Jed. I'd affirm it on a stack of sandwiches

Zeke. Then I'll do it, if Kent's satisfied.

Jed {eagerly). Sure. He ast me.

Zeke. He ast me, too. Say, Jed, politics is a funny
game, ain't it?

Jed. Yep, but which way?


Zeke. Everybody is awful pleasant before 'lection and
so turrible forgitful afterward.

Jed. Howell borrowed five dollars from old Clawbuck
two years ago, and when old Clawbuck ast him for it he
said he thought it was a campaign contribution. Haw —
haw — haw !

Zeke. Well, ain't old Clawbuck what you'd call well
to do ?

Jed. He's hard to do.

Zeke. Say, Jed, I'm thinkin' o' runnin' for office m'self.

Jed {open-mouthed'). You don't say?

Zeke. I do say, and don't you conterdict me. I'm
studyin' law nights now, and one o' these days I'm goin' to
run for persecutin' attorney or circuit judge.

Jed. I'll help you get it, Zeke, and you can appoint me
your deppity. For me, I'm never looking for nothin'. I
let the office seek the man.

Zeke, Like you did about this chairman business, hay?

]kt> {dignified). I felt the call of duty, Ezekiel. Would
you have me falter when ray country needs me?

Zeke. Oh, go on. Stop ringing in Kent's campaign

Jed. I wrote it for him.

Zeke. Yes, you did.

Jed. I did, too. I read it in volume sixteen of '' World's
Greatest Or'tory "■ b'fore the publishers took 'em away.

Zeke. Took 'em away?

Jed. Yep; they offered 'em on ten days' free trial, and
I thought I could read 'em through in them ten days —
there's only twenty books — but I only got to volume sixteen
and not clean through that. The publishers kicked like
hop — said the pages was cut. I writ 'em back pretty sassy,
you bet your Ufe, and said, '*0' course they was ; d'ye ex-
pect me to peek down between 'em?" {Enter Mrs.
Jorkins, r. She carries folded umbrella.) My dear Mrs.

Zeke. My dear Mrs. Jorkins.

Zeke. ) ^^^^ ^^^^ j ^^ ^^^ ^^^ p


{Each takes her by the arm. She moves away from them.)

Mrs. J. {hurriedly). Nothing, thanks. I'll just slip in
for my mail.


Jed. I'm awful glad that you're fixed so comfortable

Mrs. J, {half iveepiug). Yes, dear James, he was so
thoughtful — always a good provider, and the insurance
money' 11 keep body and soul together a while, I guess.

Zeke. That policy was quite an amount, wasn't it, Mrs.
Jorkins ?

Mrs. J. I guess everybody knows it was two thousand
dollars, since the '' Gazette " printed it all out.

Jed. You can't believe everything you read in the
papers. {Exit Mrs. J. into post-office.) I'd like to win
that 'ere woman, Zeke.

Zeke. So'd I.

Jed. I'd feel mighty bad if I should lose her.

Zeke. So'id I.

Jed. I tell you, I could use a little of that 'ere two
thousand dollars insurance money.

Zeke. Same here, Jed. 1 tell you what let's do. We'll
enter a comb'nation. Whichever wins'll divvy up; that
suit you ?

Jed. You mean the feller that gets the widow divides up
the cash ?

Zeke. Prezackly.

Jed. Guess I'd rather be sure of a thousand than a
chance on two. I'll go you, Ezekiel Jones.

Zeke. I'll draw it up legal to-night, and we'll both
sign it.

Jed. Fix it up so's it'll be binding.

Zeke. You leave it to me.

{Enter Edith, r.)

Edith. Well, what is the deputy doing?

Jed. We've had a nice quiet little caucus, and we
unanimously and with one accord chose me for chairman
of the Wheatville committee. I perdict on that account we
carry this burg by one hundred majority.

{Struts. Mrs. J. comes from the post-office with tivo letters.^

Zf"ke ~)

-r V {to Edith). Excuse me.

{They rush over to Mrs. J.)

Zeke. Let me carry your umberell.


Jed. Oh, let me carry your letter.
Mrs. J. Don't be foolish.

Jed. Kinder hard not to be foolish sometimes; eh,
Zeke ?

Zeke. Right you are, Jedediah.
Mrs. J. Good-afternoon.

(She bows to Edith, and exits, r. Jed and Zeke go info
the post-office^ crestfallen. Edith walks toward l. and
encounters Ezra enter ifig l.)

Edith. Good -afternoon, Mr. Little.

Ezra. It used to be Ezra.

Edith. Ezra, then. Have you just been at the conven-
tion ?

Ezra. Yes. Wright asked me to look over the wording
of the labor plank in their platform.

Edith (surprised). Why, I always thought you be-
longed to our party.

Ezra. I'm afraid my views are more like those of our
friends over yonder. (^Indicates hall.)

Edith. You must have made quite a study of the
subject ?

Ezra. It's been kind of a hobby of mine. I spent my
vacation last year going through some factories up at
Turnersport, and I worked in one for a month — to get a
real idea of how it goes.

Edith. First thing you know, they'll want you to run
for something.

Ezra. Oh, I guess not. A thing like that doesn't come
unless a fellow goes after it. Edith, you know I intended
to come up to your house to-morrow night

Edith. I remember.

Ezra. Your father spoke as though he didn't exactly
like it.

Edith. Never mind father, Ezra. I'll expect you to-
morrow night.

Ezra. Edith, you know what I spoke to you about at
the graduation exercises

Edith. Let's see, what was it you said that night?

Ezra {disappointed). You don't remember ?

Edith. Wliy, of course not.

Ezra. Maybe I'll say it again to-morrow night. But
your father is mighty ambitious for his Edith, he says, and


perhaps there isn't much hope for a country school-teacher

with a few dreams —

Edith. Sometimes dreams have come true.

{Jnterruption occasioned by loud conmwtion as cofivention
delegates and others pour upon stage, l., shouting and
gesticulating. )

Wright. Hon. Ezra Little, our historic party in con-
vention assembled has placed you in nomination for the
high office of state senator.

Ezra {astonished'). Nominated me? Are you in ear-
nest ?

Wright. Couldn't be more serious, Ezra, if I tried.

Ezra. It's a big surprise to me, I can tell you.

Wright {confidetitially, to Ezra). Tell 'em you'll run.

Ezra. Oh, they only put me up for a joke.

Wright. Joke nothing. The platform committee said
you were just the man. Here's the whole platform. I
guess you'll find it solid enough to stand on.

{He hands the paper to Ezra, who is readitig it intently, C,
while the villagers crowd aroufid him, some laughing
and shouting, while the delegates are applauding. Jed,
Zeke a7id Lawson have come out to see the excitement.
Page enters r.)

Zeke. Ha, ha ! The school-teacher politician.

Jed. Nominated Ezry, eh ? Whilliger bing, we win
before we start. {Goes down l.)

Delegate. Better wait till the votes are counted. Any-
way, I'm glad somebody was put up. I'll be home late to
supper as it is.

Ezra {to Wright). I'm glad you scratched that clause
out. {Points.')

Wright. Oh, that rip-roaring roast of Kent ? I told
them you'd never stand for that.

(Lawson goes to Page, doivn r.)

Ezra. You're right, Frank. Kent's a decent chap, and
I don't believe in that sort of tactics.

Delegates (/// l. and r.). Hurrah ! Speech !
Jed. a speech from the schoolmaster !
Delegates. Keep still, can't you?


Ezra (on steps of porch, c). I'm no speechmaker, fel-
lows, but I want to say this. Now I'm in the fight I stay in.
1 hope you put me up to win. I will look for the support of
every one of you delegates.

Delegate. Hurrah !

Page (aside to Lawson). Pretty soft, this.

Ezra. Now, Howell may be the better equipped states-

Page (opening a huge note-book). Big head-lines in the
Wheatville *' Press " for that testnnonial.

Ezra. Yes, friends, 1 consider Howell a clean, honest
man, and if that clause hadn't come out of your platform,
you'd have to reconvene and choose another candidate.
But on matters of policy opinions differ, I believe in the
principles of this platform. {Holds up paper. Applause.)
1 shall try to carry our views to every corner of our district,
and I shall expect all of you to get to work and help us win.

{Applause. He steps doivn and talks to Edith, up c. )

L\ !■ {down L.). Not me.

Page. Anyway, I've got it in his own words, " Howell
the Better Statesman," and not another word of his speech
gets into the Wheatville *■'■ Press."

Lawson. It's lucky for Howell he's got such an easy
opponent, because he's after Edith, and 'nless he gets elected
he can't have a fond father's blessing.

Zeke {crossing R.). It ain't so easy as I wish. Folks
around Wheatville think a hull lot of Ezra Little, and I tell
you he's apt to pull off somethmg unexpected.

Lawson. Oh, back to the pond with the rest of the

Zeke {stubborn). I wish they'd nominated some old
chap that was going instead of coming.

(Ezra ««</ Edith co7ne down c.)

Edith {to Ezra). Your law study ought to help now,

Ezra. Yes, but it takes a little more than a smattering
of law to serve the people well.

(^Efiter Howell, r.)


Page {aside to Howell). They've nominated Little.

Howell {gleefully'). . It went through all right, then ?

Page. No, they tell me Wright proposed him.

Howell. It's all the same, anyway. (AloudS) Let me
congratulate you, Mr. Little. Now, let's have a clean cam-
paign — no mud-throwing, and no excuses. Here's my hand
on it.

{Enter Molly, r. She rushes up to Ezra.)

Molly. Oh, I hope you win. Isn't it glorious ? I'll
use every bit of influence I have.

(Edith goes to Lawson, r.)

Ezra. And that will count, I'm sure, Molly.

Wright {conmig down to Ezra). I'm mighty glad
you're showing this spirit, Ezra. You act as though you
expect to win. That's right, too. But let me tell you that
you have a fight on your hands.

Ezra {looking at Edith). Yes, I have two fights on my
hands. {Softly; aside.) And I think I'd rather win the
other !



SCENE. — Living-r 00771 of Mr. Lawson's house, Evetiing,
Exits at L., R. and c. Screen tip k.

(^Curtain discovers Lawson and Mrs. Harriet Lawson,
Edith and Kib eating supper at round table, c.)

Lawson. As I was a-sayin'

Mrs. L. Have some more potatoes, Jeremy ?

Lawson. You women beat me ! You talk as though
men only wanted to stuff themselves. I'm interested in
affairs of state, and as I was a-mentioning — but fill up my
plate while I'm a-waitin'.

Mrs. L. Did you say one potato or two ?

Lawson. Three. Now, as I was about to remark, when
we go aviatin' up to the executive mansion, had I ought to
wear a dress-suit, or hadn't I ought to?

Edith. I should think you wear what the others do at
the reception.

Lawson. Reception ? What reception ? Who said any-
thing about a reception ? A wedding reception is the only
one I'm going to. I was speaking about when I'm a guest
of honor, and stay over night at the executive mansion.

Edith. Father, I wish you'd stop talking like that.

Lawson. Stop talking like that? Well, I guess not.
It's pleasant, and I'd rather talk about pleasant things than
gossip like you women.

Kib (counting his buttons'). Ezra — Kent — Ezra —

Lawson. Stop that nonsense, boy ; this is a serious

Edith. Let's not talk about it.

Lawson. Four and four's always eight — but you women
— 1 never could figure you out. Give me another potato,

Kib. If I was her, I'd take

Lawson. Never mind, young man. ,

Kib. All right, I never will.

Mrs. L. Don't be impudent to your father, Kib.

Kib. If he won't, I won't.



Lawson. Another potato, Harriet.

KiB. I'll bet you have a row up here to-night, Edith,

Edith. I don't understand you, Kib.

KiB {inockifig). She don't understand me. And Mr.
Howell and the school-teacher both coming here to-night.
Oh, it's love that makes the world go round — buzz

{Imitates a circular saw by moving ha?id in a circle and
fnaking a buzzing sound.^

Lawson. Stop that nonsense, young man.

Kib. Love ain't nonsense, is it, Edith?

Edith. How shall I know?

Kib. You ought to know, with two fellers to tell you.

Lawson. Silence, young man. This ain't a fit subject
for levity.

Mrs. L. Anybody want anything more?

Lawson. I might take another potato. {Supper con-
cluded^ all draw back chairs and rise. Edith and Mrs. L.
exeutit c. , with dishes. Kib rushes out r. , 7u hist ling. Law-
son, loudly.) I'm going to read a while, Edith, but I suppose
you will root me out when Ezra comes up. (Edith comes
to door c. She is wiping a plate.) He hadn't ought to be
coming, anyway, when you're pract'cally engaged to the
man he's running against.

Edith (^firmly). 1 am not engaged to Mr. Howell,

Lawson. Well, the rest o' your family's willing, and
you ought to do what the majority want.

Edith. I'll think about it.

Lawson. You women beat me. Another thing. . Your
Ezra's running on a platform that's got an eight-hour plank
in it and a lot of other pesteriferous nonsense. If that goes
through, I might as well burn up all my International stock.

Edith. Don't call him my Ezra. And 1 don't believe
he'll say much about it, even if it's in the platform.

{A knock is heard, L. Lawson answers.")

{Enter Ezra, l. Greetings at door.)

Lawson. Ain't ye resigned yet, Ezry?
Ezra. Resigned ?

Lawson. Yes, from running against Howell.
Ezra. No — 1 haven't — yet.


Lawson. Better take ray advice 'n' do it. When I see
a brick falling, I usually yell for folks to get from under it.
Kent's having the biggest meetings y' ever heard of.
They're over to Jupp's Corners to-night. They had a
corker up to Bannerville last night. The chairman com-
pared Kent to Washington, Naypoleon, Alexander the
Great, Julius Caesar, Gineral Grant, Patrick Henry •

Ezra. It won't be any disgrace, then, if he beats me.
Besides, I don't claim to be the better man.

Lawson. You don't claim to be the better man !

Ezra. Certainly not. When I run a race, 1 don't boast
that I can beat the other fellow. I just run as fast as 1 can,
and let the results speak for themselves.

LaWson. You'll get all tuckered out in this political
race. You're not in training.

Ezra. Oh, I'm training now, and I'll soon be down to

Lawson. Another thing, Ezry. I'm afraid you're kind
o' neglectin' your school. As a former member of the
board, 1 can't allow that.

Ezra. The board accepted my resignation last night.

Lawson. That ain't no way to do — leaving 'em in the
lurch in the middle of the term.

Ezra {quietly). A substitute — probably more capable
than I am — will take my classes to-morrow.

Lawson. Humph ! Ef you two'U excuse me, I'll read
my N'York paper a while.

(^Exit, R.)

Edith. How is your campaign progressing, Ezra?

Ezra. I start speechmaking to-morrow. I'll be on the
stump, as they call it, from now till election. This will be
my last chance to come up here for a while.

Edith. I'm glad you came. {They take seats down l.)

Ezra. This thing coming so unexpectedly has made me
a lot of work. The wee sma' hours find me hard at it, I
can tell you. This is my first let-up since the convention.

Edith. But, then, you are used to public speaking.

Ezra. I'm used to passing out diplomas, with compli-
mentary references to the attainments of my scholars, but at
stump speaking I'm surely a greenhorn. That's what they
say — and I've heard that I'm to be beaten. Perhaps it will
be a case of unlucky in politics — lucky in love.


Edith. You might beat Mr. Howell yet.

Ezra. In love ?

Edith {embarrassed'). Why, of course not. In pol-

Ezra. If I should win, I'm afraid Kent's popularity with
your father would suffer a sad decline.

Edith. You know he is mighty ambitious for his Edith.

Ezra. So I've heard.

Edith. What is your speech like, Ezra?

Ezra. Would you like to look over my notes ?

(Edith looks up eagerly as if to respond affirmatively ^ when
a knock is heard l.)

Edith {going to door l.). I wonder who that can be?
Ezra {aside). Another admirer, I'll bet a fig.

{Enter A. Frank Pryor, l.)

Pryor. Mr. Ezra Little, ain't it? They told me you
was here. I want to have a nice little, quiet little confiden-
tial chat with you. That is, if the lady don't mind, {Leers.)
It's something special, or I wouldn't butt in like this.

Edith. Certainly. I'll very gladly excuse Mr. Little.

Ezra. You mean we'll excuse you.

Edith. Either way you like.

{Exit Edith, r. Ezra opens door for her and remains
right of table. Pryor peers cautiously around the rooin^
goes to both doors and listens intently.)

Pryor. I don't hear nothing, so I guess they can't hear
nothing. ( Comes to left of table. )

Ezra. I shouldn't think you'd say anything you're
ashamed of.

Pryor. Huh ?

Ezra. Didn't you hear me?

Pryor. Yes, but my business ain't his business, seeing
he's on the other fellow's committee. Lookee here, Little,
you're running for office. Natur'lly, you want to get elected.
From what I hear you've got as much show as J have of
being the Czar of Russia, the way you're going at it.

Ezra, This is my first political experience, Mr,

I don't think you mentioned your name?

Pryor. My name is Pryor, sir, A. Frank Pryor, of


Turnersport. Now I came over here special, 'cause it'll be
election soon, and what's done for you's got to be done now
— at once, so to speak.

Ezra {dryly). That's very kind, I'm sure.

Pryor. Huh? Kind? I ain't in this thing for my

Ezra. No ! I've heard politics isn't a very healthy oc-

Pryor. It ain't — not for some people. And I'm here
to give you a tip. First thing, be mighty careful what you
say to a certain young lady.

Ezra. Sir !

Pryor. She might repeat to papa ■

Ezra {pounding the table). That's enough j not another
word along that line.

Pryor. No offense — not at all — but women is women,
and I could cite examples from history where women wormed
state secrets out of men. I'm a profound student of history,
I am.

Ezra. I guess we can end this interview right now.

Pryor. Huh, don't get huffy. Never pays. I did once,
and my doctor's bill was pretty heavy. I've got a scheme.
Your opponent has got a nice new automobile. Now, my
dear Ezra — I hope you don't mind my calling you Ezra — I
know just a Httle bit about liowour friend came to have the
possession of that 'ere vehicle. And it ain't any too much
to his credit, either, and

Ezra. That's sufficient, Mr. Pryor of Turnersport. I
wouldn't touch your dirty scheme with a forty-foot pole.
I'd rather not get a half-dozen votes in the entire district
than to win by abusing Howell. I want to win — more than
you can understand — but if I've got to be mean and low
and tricky to win, I want to go down to defeat with my col-
ors flying.

Pryor. You'll go down all right, but I don't know about
the colors flying. Honor's all right when it don't affect the
pocketbook. A feller that's against being tricky ought to
keep out of politics. Well, I'm going along — can't make
any money here. But you watch Kent Howell pulverize

Ezra. We'll see.

{Exit Pryor, l.)


i^E titer Edith, r.)

Edith. I'm glad he's gone. Who is he, anyway?

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Online LibraryWard MacauleyThe wheatville candidates .. → online text (page 2 of 5)