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Augustus Thomas.

As a man thinks; a play in four acts online

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CLAYTON.
Worked what out?

S E E L I G.
This thing we call Life. He knew the essence of it.

CLAYTON.
I don t see that.

S E E L I G.
"As a man thinketh" that was His answer.

CLAYTON.
What does that answer?



AS A MAN THINKS 19B

S E E X, I G.

Everything. When I felt your pulse there and let go
your hand you carried it back to the couch so.

CLAYTON.
Expect me to keep it out there like a hat-rack?

S E E L i G.
I d hoped you would drop it a little.

CLAYTON.
Why?

S E E L I G.

Hoped you d relax. Let s try it now. [Lifts CLAYTON S
hand.] Don t tense those muscles put your weight on
me. [Drops hand.] There!

CLAYTON.
Well, what does that do ?

S E E L i G.

That s the only part of your body that s relaxed Now a
deep breath and let go. Don t hold yourself up from the
couch. So! [CLAYTON does as told and perceptibly
relaxes.

CLAYTON.

Nerves, I know.

S E E L i G.

[Tapping his own forehead.] It s this. Why, I have
patients business men who are always tied up like a wet
fishing line sleep that way. Do you know why that
wrinkle is between your eyes?



194 AS A MAN THINKS

CLAYTON.



I m sick, that s why.



S E E L i G.



Because the wrinkle s in your mind. That coat I took
from the floor said mental wrinkles, "As a man thinketh,"
my dear Frank. [Pause.] What is it now come?

CLAYTON.
You don t have to ask, do you?

S E E L I G.

I do ask.

CLAYTON.
Just to keep my mind on it, I suppose?

S E E L i G.
No I want to hear you talk about it.

CLAYTON.

My mind will be all right, I ll be all right, when that
damned dog is dead in hell!

S E E L I G.
[Pause.] You hate him pretty bitterly, don t you?

CLAYTON.
I hate him the best I know how.

S E E L I G.
You know what good hating does to the hater?



AS A MAN THINKS 195

CLAYTON.
You mean to me?

SEELIG.

[Nodding.] To everybody. Kills him.

CLAYTON.
Kills him?

[SEELIG nods.

SEELIG.

[Pause.] Hate generates one of the deadliest poisons in
nature. I ve had trouble in my time saving a baby that
had nursed milk from the breast of an angry woman.
You ve heard of the bite of a blue gum negro being poison.

CLAYTON.
Knew a man who lost his thumb that way.

SEELIG.

Well, it is no more poisonous than the bite of a red gum
negro, or the bite of a red gum white man, if either of them
gets angry enough, the blue gum negro is just a little nearer
the animal and gets mad quicker, that s all. Now, you lie
here with this grouch of yours and you generate constantly
an internal poison. I haven t any medicines that can beat
that.

CLAYTON.

When I get so much of it in me that I shoot that cur, as
I shall some day, they ll call it murder.

SEELIG.

[Pause.] I used to get pretty angry when I was young
er, but I think it was more to show off.



196 AS A MAN THINKS

CLAYTON.
You mean I do this to "show off!"

S E E L I G.

I mean you are influenced by public opinion. If you
and he were the only creatures left in the world you d admit
he didn t do much more than you d have done in his place.

CLAYTON.
You mean I d go into another man s home and ruin it?

S E E L I G.

This man didn t come into your home and ruin it. He
meets an old sweetheart, meets her when she thinks she is
being neglected.

CLAYTON.

[Sitting up.~\ Neglected? Why,, she had this house and
our summer place at Newport a forty-five horse power
limousine she had

S E E L i G.

See here,, Frank, you were neglecting her. He did
what nine men out of ten would do. He knows the price
that s being paid, and I know, that he d walk around the
Belt Line to-night in the snow, barefooted, to have the rec
ord closed.

CLAYTON.

Suppose you think I ought to hunt him up and shake
hands with him?



AS A MAN THINKS 197

S E E L I G.

No don t think you should ever see him again, even men
tally ; but it doesn t need murder to acquire that attitude. I
want you to be big enough to dismiss it. That s why I
quote this carpenter-prophet of Nazareth a truth that took
me a postgraduate course to learn and twenty-five years to
demonstrate He found out by himself. He said in one of
his first sermons: "Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven; give
and it shall be given unto you,, good measure pressed down,
shaken together and running over shall men give unto your
bosom."

CLAYTON.

Oh that religious elation

S E E L i G.

It wasn t religion He was preaching, but a good working
rule of life. This precept of good-will people regard the
words "Good-will" as interchangeable with "Peace," but
will is active, good will is a constructive force. I ve seen sick
people get well merely through two or three hearty good
wishers rooting for them. I ve figured it out that there s an
influence circulating through all men when they ll permit it,
just as the current through that lamp goes through all other
lamps in this house. Stop it in the man by avarice or cu
pidity, divert it by envy, turn it back by hate, and some
thing goes wrong with the machinery. "Give and it shall be
given unto you."

CLAYTON.

You take Him too literally, Doctor.

S E E L, i G.

The mistake is not taking Him literally enough. I ve
cured many taking that sermon literally. [Sits beside



198 AS A MAN THINKS

CLAYTON on his couch. ] I find what is on the patient s
mind. Generally some hate or fear sometimes regret or
remorse then I try to show the patient that yesterday is
yesterday, that his past life doesn t concern him any more
than last year s snow. If I can get a man looking ahead
hope ful- anxious to get on the job why he s cured.

CLAYTON.

[Doggedly.] I ll look ahead when I get even with this
fellow.

S E E L I G.

Well, say you ve got even that you ve dealt him some
deadly blow, irreparably inj ured him or his happiness !
What then? My dear Frank, there is nothing so disap
pointing as a satisfied revenge. *

CLAYTON.
I can t forget it.

S E E L i G.
Yes you can.

CLAYTON.
It s here on my mind. [Covers his eyes and forehead.

S E E L i G.

Because your mind is empty. Work is the answer to
your condition.

CLAYTON.
[Shaking his head.] Too late for that now.

S E E L I G.

Nonsense ! Take this parable of the eleventh hour. The
men in that were kicking because those who had worked one



AS A MAN THINKS 199

hour got as much as those who had put in a full day. Re
member what the Nazarene proposed to pay.

CLAYTON.
What?

S E E L I G.

Peace of mind. A sharehold in what He called the
Kingdom of Heaven. The eleventh hour men worked only
one hour, but they worked the last hour. You get that
peace of mind, whenever you work, whenever you do
something and the splendid thing is, it s never too late to
do it. [Rises vigorously stands at mantel.

CLAYTON.

[Wearily. ~\ Good God, Doctor, a man can t get up and
work at something he doesn t care for in order to forget
something he s thinking of all the time. It s well enough
for you always called in by some poor devil who thinks
you can help him. Give me your job and your equipment
for it and I ll talk hope and clean living myself.

S E E L i G.

[Half sadly.] I know that attitude. It s always the
next pasture that seems the greenest. If I have any regret
it is that instead of being a physician I wasn t a priest. I
think most diseases are not physical so much as they are
mental or spiritual.

CLAYTON.
Well, I d like to do that kind of thing myself.

S E E L I G.

You can do it.



200 AS A MAN THINKS

CLAYTON.
I can?

S E E L I G.

Yes only you have to begin.

CLAYTON.
You mean with myself?

S E E L i G.

I mean with the work that s nearest to you, Frank. If I
wanted you to walk around Central Park you would have to
get up, you would have to walk to the door ; you would have
to go down the steps; you would have to walk to Central
Park. In other words, you would have to cover the ground
that is nearest to you. Now, in the work you say you would
like to do., you ve also got to cover the ground that s nearest
you. Suppose you were going to save somebody and you
had your choice whom would you save? Why, the people
dearest to you. You would save little Dick eh?

CLAYTON.
[In pain.~\ Don t talk of Dick.

S E E L I G.

I ve got to talk of him. The boy isn t getting a father s
care.

CLAYTON.
You advised me not to take him.

S E E L i G.

I still advise that. He is getting a mother s care, but he
needs a father s also. Now suppose you could save little



AS A MAN THINKS 201

Dick. The next dearest person to you would be his mother,
wouldn t she?

CLAYTON.
She s made her bed.

S E E L i G.

Yes,, but after you ve made beds there s something more
to do than lie in them. After a reasonable time you are to
get up and get out of them.

CLAYTON.
She s all right free to do as she likes.

S E E L i G.

No, she isn t. She s a slave to her remorse she s looking
back. She can t realize that yesterday is yesterday and that
a dead yesterday is just as dead as Babylon. Now, you
want work to do why not do that?

CLAYTON.
Overlook what she s done?

S E E L i G.

Yes overlook what she s done. She wasn t perfect
nobody is. She makes one mistake with you it s final.
You don t judge anyone else that way. I ve seen you throw
ing little Dick the baseball teaching him to hold it and not
to break his chubby fingers standing two yards from him
drop and drop and drop it. You didn t get tired you
were developing the boy. Now the assumption is that
Elinor came to you with her character fully developed;
but my dear old friend, character never stops developing



202 AS A MAN THINKS

if we are in the right line. There s still the perfecting of
a fine woman. You want something to do do that.

CLAYTON.

All right Tell her. [Pause.] I forgive her. [Pause.]
but that I m through with it just the same.

SEELIG.

I ll not carry lies to her. If you forgive her you ll go
where she is you ll go looking forward and not backward
[CLAYTON shakes head, pause SEELIG regards watch. ]
I hate to leave you in this mood, Frank.

CLAYTON.
I ll be all right.

SEELIG.

Why not get in the machine and take a run through the
Park only a half hour because I must get back to the
hospital.

CLAYTON.

[Pause.] You won t try any snap judgment on me no
driving up to your door and making a scene of it?

SEELIG.
Chauffeur will take your order.

[Pause. CLAYTON begins to put on his shoes. SEE
LIG goes to the telephone.

CLAYTON.
What are you doing?



AS A MAN THINKS 203

S E E L I G.

I can t be home to dinner. [ Phones. ] Yes operator.
Give me 319 Plaza Plaza yes.

CLAYTON.

I think [Pause.] Mrs. Seelig was here; just before
you came

SEELIG.
Yes?

CLAYTON.
[Pause.] They expect you at dinner.

SEELIG.

[Phoning.] Holland? [Pause.] This is Doctor I ll
speak to Mrs. Seelig [Speaks to CLAYTON.] What did
she want?

CLAYTON.

Oh Dick s Christmas principally.

SEELIG.

That reminds me I told Dick I d see you [Phones.]
Hello? yes Sarah? I can t get home to dinner dear
[Pause.] No impossible. [Pause.] I m at Frank Clay
ton s [Pause.] Nothing that is., nothing serious. He s
going out with me just to get the air, that s all. What s
that? [Pause.] Yes, I ll speak to her.

CLAYTON.
Speak to whom?



204 AS A MAN THINKS

SEELIG.

[Speaking to CLAYTON.] Mrs. Seelig wants to know if
I won t speak to your wife. [Phones. ] Hello that you,
Elinor? [Pause."] Yes he s all right perfectly. [Pause.]
Not yet, but we re going out in the car I ll give it to him.

CLAYTON.
Give what?

SEELIG.

Just a minute. [Turns to CLAYTON who is putting on his
coat.] It was a Christmas gift from little Dick he asked
me to bring it here.

CLAYTON.

What is it?

[SEELIG takes small package from his pocket and
hands it to CLAYTON. As CLAYTON opens pack
age SEELIG turns attention to phone again.

SEELIG.

Yes, I m still here yes. [Listens in silence as CLAY
TON undoes the package which contains a photograph in a
leather case. CLAYTON bends over it, deeply moved.] Yes
yes very well thank you good night.

CLAYTON.
[Quickly.] Wait.

SEELIG.

[Startled by loudness of CLAYTON S call.] Wait. [Laughs
and explains.] I said wait a minute.

CLAYTON.
She at that phone?



AS A MAN THINKS 205

SEELIG.

Yes.

CLAYTON.

[Angrily."] Let me have it there are a few things I
want to say to her.

S E E i, i G.

[Protesting.] Not in that mood, Frank.

CLAYTON.

It s all a frame up to torture me. [Takes phone speaks
angrily.] Hello! [Anger goes from his face whole man
ner changes tone becomes gentle and affectionate.] Dick,,
that you, Dick? [Pause.] Yes, I hear you [Pause.] I
got it, my boy, thank you [Pause.] You bet I like it
[Pause.]The tree? [Pause.] Yes, by the big fireplace
[Pause.] To-night? Well [Pause.] Then [Pause and
effort.] Tell her to come with you!

[Drops phone on table., receiver hanging towards
the floor. Sinks into chair face down on elbow
sobbing. SEELIG walks to phone, hangs up re
ceiver. CLAYTON reaches out his right hand
blindly. SEELIG takes it holds it reassuringly
and firmly. Gives CLAYTON a tonic slap on
back and helps him rise. CLAYTON walks back
to chair facing the fire.

SEELIG.

[Solemnly.] Frank ! There is one moment in a woman s
life dazed by chloroform wrung with pain when her
physician hears her speak the name of the man for whom
she suffers. [Pause.] Everj vestage of that doubt you
uttered in my library must be effaced from your heart.
[Kings push button.



206 AS A MAN THINKS

CLAYTON.
I didn t invent the doubt.

S E E L i G.
I know.

CLAYTON.

I think [Pause.] I hope to God I ll get rid of it in
time.

S E E L I G.

It mustn t mar this reunion. [Pause.] When I started
for this house- I hoped for what has occurred. [Indi
cates f phone.] I didn t know just how it would come about
but I knew that doubt had to be removed.

CLAYTON.

I don t want to think of it.
[Enter SUTTON.

S E E L I G.

[To SUTTON.] A gentleman is outside in a cab, just be^
hind my car? Ask him to come in.
[SUTTON goes. .

CLAYTON.
[Quickly turning.] Who is it? [Pause.] Who?

S E E L i G.
I want you to be calm Frank.

CLAYTON.
Who??



AS A MAN THINKS 207

S E E L I G.

[Calmly.] The one you hate.

CLAYTON.
No ! By God, no ! [Starts toward the hall.

S E E L I G.

[Interposing and catching him.] Frank if you had to
go under the knife you d trust me as a surgeon, wouldn t
you?

CLAYTON.

[Struggling to free himself.] You re bungling this job.

S E E L I G.

[Still holding CLAYTON.] I m not bungling it.
[Enter DE LOTA.

CLAYTON.
Don t come in here.

D E LOTA.
Mr. Clayton

S E E L i G.

[Between the two men.] Speak only when I bid you

[Pause. To CLAYTON.] Now listen! [To DE LOTA.]
Before Mr. Clayton introduced you to Mrs. Clayton a year
ago when had you last seen her?

D E LOTA.

About eight years before.



208 AS A MAN THINKS

SEELIG.

That is nine years ago.

D E LOTA.

Nine years ago.

CLAYTON.
What s one lie more or less.

S E E :L i G.
Where were you eight years ago?

D E LOTA.

In France.

S E E L I G.
[Sternly.] Where!

D E LOTA.
[Pause.] The prison de La Sante, in Paris.

S E E L 1 G.

For how long a term?

D E LOTA.
One year.

S E E L I G.

I asked you to bring your prison paper of discharge.
[DE LOTA hands paper to SEELIG. SEELIG regards paper
and displays it to CLAYTON.] You read French numerals
at least. The date is there.



AS A MAN THINKS 209

CLAYTON.

[After a glance.] Well?

S E E Jj I G.

Also Mr. Burrill was in the court-room when Mr. De
Lota was sentenced. [Pause.] To show this paper, to ad
mit in your hearing this fact has not been an easy thing
for Benjamin De Lota to do. He does it at my urging
the appeal of one Jew to another Jew. He is going he
lives by writing criticism. His signature to an article has
a money value and despite these personal mistakes, I be
lieve his influence in print is wholesome. He leaves your
magazines. Of course, he can t expect their recommenda
tion, but I have promised him your silence.

CLAYTON.

[Pause.] I shan t [Pause.] Interfere.
[SEELIG turns DE LOTA goes.

S E E L i G.

[Hand on CLAYTON S shoulder.] I m proud of you
[Pause.] Now forgive an old practitioner who knew he had
to cauterize quickly.

CLAYTON.
You re a friend all right. [Pause.] Prison!

SEELIG.
That year.

CLAYTON.

And I made that rotten accusation. What a brute I ve
been!



210 AS A MAN THINKS

S E E L I G.

My dear Frank, that also is yesterday. [Pause and
change of manner.] Dick is coming to-night?

CLAYTON.
Yes.

S E E L I G.

And his mother [CLAYTON nods.] I ll leave you alone.

CLAYTON.
I d rather you were here.

S E E L i G.
I ll wait as long as I can. [Consults watch.

CLAYTON.

[Seated on couch."] There s some troubling news for you.

S E E L i G.
For me?

CLAYTON.
[Nodding.] I d like to cushion it if I could.

S E E L i G.
You mean bad news !

CLAYTON.
Depends.

S E E L i G.
[Pause.] Well



AS A MAN THINKS 211

CLAYTON.

[Carefully.] You know that Vedah rather fancied
Burrill, don t you?

SEELIG.

Yes.

CLAYTON.
Burrill is sailing in a day or two and *

S E E L i G.
[Pause.] Well?

CLAYTON.

Well they ve been [Pause.

S E E L i G.
[Calmly.] Married?

CLAYTON.
To-day.

[SEELIG nods ruminatively.

[Enter DICK.] [MRS. SEEHG and ELINOR appear in
arch.

DICK.
[Running to CLAYTON.] Papa!

CLAYTON.
Why, Dick boy!

[Embraces him. ELINOR goes into ike music*
room. MRS. SEELIG comes down.

DICK.

[To SEELIG.] Did you give it to him?

SEELIG.
[Still brooding.] Yes.



212 AS A MAN THINKS

DICK.
[To CLAYTON.] You like it?

CLAYTON.

You bet I liked it. [DICK laughs CLAYTON leading
DICK toward the music room speaks to MRS. SEELIG.] I
told the Doctor.

MRS. SEELIG.
You mean ?

CLAYTON.

Vedah and Burrill.

[Goes with DICK into music room.

MRS. SEELIG.
[Coming to SEELIG S side. ] Samuel.

SEELIG.
[Pause.] You knew it?

MRS. SEELIG.

I had no idea of it but he has to cross the ocean. They
love each other Vedah was almost broken-hearted. We
wanted Vedah to sacrifice her life to teach the idea of one
God but Samuel [Pause. Puts hand on SEELIG S arm.

SEELIG.
Well?

MRS. SEELIG.

The one God was wiser than my father, who was a Rabbi.
He may be wiser than we are. [Pause SEELIG gently lifts



AS A MAN THINKS 213

Tier hand and kisses it. Pause.] Samuel they re at home.
Come forgive them and let s be happy at dinner. [SEELIG
shakes head.] You mean you won t forgive them?

SEELIG.

[Pause.] I mean only that I can t come to dinner. There
is a surgery case at the hospital.

MRS. SEELIG.
[Pleading.] Let someone else.

SEELIG.
[Shaking head.] Too important.

MRS. SEELIG.
Who is it?

SEELIG.

A little boy from the East Side. I don t remember his
name, but the appointment is for eight thirty. [MRS. SEE
LIG leaves his side.

[ELINOR enters, CLAYTON and DICK appear in
doorway after her. ELINOR comes down to
SEELIG.

SEELIG.
It s all right?

[ELINOR nods yes takes SEELIG S face in both
hands and kisses him.

DICK.

[To CLAYTON in childish treble.] She kissed him

CURTAIN.



14 DAY USE

URN TO DESK FROM WHICH BORROWED

LOAN DEPT.

This book is due on the last date stamped below, or

on the date to which renewed.
Renewed books are subject to immediate recall.



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Online LibraryAugustus ThomasAs a man thinks; a play in four acts → online text (page 6 of 6)