MADELINE. I'll get a hat. (Exit to house.)
SHANKS. And yer letter, Doctor kind o' excited
me some brought back old times.
RANDALL. Made you happy, I hope.
SHANKS. I can't tell you how much. The pore
feller's been in there thirty-eight long years and
night and day I've thought about him- been workin'
on his case thirty years fifteen different legisla-
RANDALL. Still his first sentence was "Death."
SHANKS. War times, Doctor and war-time hate.
If he'd just had on a different suit of clothes when
we got inter that fight he'd a been a prisoner o'
war and set free in two years jist as Philip Man-
ning said ter yer board.
RANDALL. Does Tollard find any of his old
SHANKS. He ain't been here, to my knowledge.
RANDALL. Hasn't ?
SHANKS. (Shakes head) Your letter was the
first hint I had he was free.
RANDALL. It must have startled you.
SHANKS. Don't tell her.
RANDALL. I won't.
72 THE COPPERHEAD
SHANKS. She knows the folks here have been
aginst me purty hard but I've kept all that prison
talk and sentence o' death business out of her life
and I'm gonna see him first an* tell him not ter
talk, 'cause if he ain't got any place else to go, I
plan ter take him in here yes, sir.
RANDALL. (Gives hand) You're a Christian gen-
tleman, Mr. Shanks.
SHANKS. (Shakes hand) Some back-slidin' I
used horrible language durin' the war. (Enter GIL-
LESPIE in Grand Army uniform, back left.)
SHANKS. (Turns pauses) Well, Newt?
GILLESPIE. Busy ?
SHANKS. I've got a friend visitin' here. (Enter
MADELINE. I'm going to walk up and meet Mrs.
Manning, Grandpa. (Sees GILLESPIE. )
GILLESPIE. (Pause) That's her ain't it?
SHANKS. Madeline this is Mr. Newt Gillespie.
MADELINE. How do you do, sir ?
GILLESPIE. (Pause) Elsie's dotter?
GILLESPIE. I knowed yer grandmother, young
MADELINE. I never saw her.
GILLESPIE. Well, anybody 'at ever did would a
knowed she was your grandmother. Don't lemme
keep you because us men has some business.
MADELINE. We'll go, then come, Doctor. (Doc-
TOR opens gate, exit with MADELINE.)
GILLESPIE. I don't call on you very of'en, Milt.
GILLESPIE. But I ain't Hardy I ain't tongue-
SHANKS. You said business, Newt
GILLESPIE. The school board votes to-night for
THE COPPERHEAD 73
a new teacher my dotter has earned the place by
years o' primer school work and she's substituted
satisfactory in this job the old settlers here ain't
gonna be patient with any move to outflank her.
SHANKS. I think it's gone too far ter do any-
thing but leave it ter the board.
GILLESPIE. Tain't gone too far fur your girl ter
SHANKS. I kain't ask her to do that.
GILLESPIE. Oh, yes, ye kin.
SHANKS. Well (Pause.) I won't.
GILLESPIE. You will, Milt.
SHANKS. Well, just remember, Newt I didn't
gee and haw about it. I tell you once for all flat-
GILLESPIE. (Pause) Grover Cleveland's been
president twict an' I ain't aimin' ter dig up the
bloody shirt agin, but when little children air under
a teacher's influence murder ain't a nice subject to
have in their minds. This'll be my argument ter the
school board to-night if you compel me.
SHANKS. (Pause) I respect that coat ye got on,
Newt, and that cord round yer hat. Them are nay-
tional but it's a mystery ter me sometimes how the
war ever was won with souls as little as yours is
behind the guns.
GILLESPIE. I'll tell ye, Milt an' yer welcome to
repeat it. It's 'cause the souls on the other side
was the size o' yourn. (Pause.) Now yer kin go
ter yer church Sunday and sing "Fur sech a worm
as I" but Elsie's dotter withdraws.
SHANKS. (Pause) 'Twasn't murder, and you
know it. They wair shootin' on both sides fast as
any pitched battle.
GILLESPIE. That's all been adjudicated by the
courts an' one of yer gang is still servin' a life
sentence fur it at Joliet.
74 THE COPPERHEAD
SHANKS. No he's pardoned now.
GILLESPIE. Lem Tollard?
GILLESPIE. Who contrived that?
SHANKS. The unanimous pardon board that
gentleman walkin' with Madeline is a member of it.
GILLESPIE. Pardoned? ("SHANKS nods.) Well
-.-that don't hurt my argument. (Chezvs excitedly.)
On the contrary (Pause.) An' it'll jes' set
tongues a waggin' I don't hev to be personal at
all it'll be only foresighted fur the board to shun
it in the school house. Ye've jist histed yerself with
yer own pattard I told you you'd withdraw.
(Enter LEM, right. He is seventy-eight but a fierce
and burning seventy-eight sullen and patient.)
LEM. (Inquiring) Gillespie?
GILLESPIE. (Pause) That's my name.
LEM. You know me, don't you? (To SHANKS.,)
SHANKS. Yes 'cause I been expectin' you but
we're both changed a heap come in. (Extends
LEM. (Refuses hand but enters) Expectin' me ?
SHANKS. Well you lived here
LEM. Not for thirty-eight years, I ain't by God !
SHANKS. I've kept count of 'em and I went be-
fore every legislature we've had an' ter every gov-
ernor up to this time.
LEM. I knew some bastard must a been at work
ter keep me there. (Pause.) Ye didn't stay inside
there long yourself, did you?
SHANKS. Sorry yer bitter about it, Lem but I
ain't found much to choose between outside or in
except the last year or so
THE COPPERHEAD 75
LEM. You expected me 'cause I lived here.
LEM. Listen ter this, Gillespie 'cause it's gonna
be important and short (Pause.) I've come
'cause you live here 'cause I've figured out who
fixed it so the cavalry was in them especial bushes
waitin' for us I've figured why I was invited ter
the arsenal in St. Louis and shet up till Camp Jack-
son was captured I've figured why several plans of
ours come out the little end o' the horn figured
it Listenin', Gillespie?
GILLESPIE. I am.
LEM. Now listen and watch, too when I hand
you what's comin' to you, Milt it's gonna be in the
guts. (Enter PHILIP and MADELINE. ) Why? Be-
cause there it ain't immediate and you have time,
God damn you, to suffer and be sorry. (Draws gun.
PHILIP has been ready from word "guts" and grabs
LEM from back.)
MADELINE. Grandpa (Runs to SHANKS.,)
PHILIP. Give that to me ! (Quickly gets gun and
throws LEM from him to ground. Enter RANDALL
and MRS. MANNING.)
MRS. MANNING. Philip Philip what's the mat-
RANDALL. Tollard what's this mean your par-
don's conditional on good behavior. Now go. (TOL-
LARD goes out gate; waits for GILLESPIE .)
GILLESPIE. I've heard his case (To SHANKS.^
and he ought a killed you by God ! You're more
a murderer than he is you was sentenced to be
hung and they ought a hung you forty years ago.
(To MRS. MANNING .) School board! This is the
kind o' scandals you're tryin' to introduce with your
MADELINE. To be hanged why, Grandpa
76 THE COPPERHEAD
GILLESPIE. Damned ole jailbird firebrand and
horse thief and copperhead! Once a copperhead
always a copperhead. (Exit.)
SHANKS. Maddy Maddy, dear it had to come
some time you got ter gimme a minute ter collect
my idears. I ain't afraid o' death, Philip but I
couldn't leave her this way !
SCENE : Cheap Illinois rural interior but neat. The
room is rectangular except that upper left cor-
ner is obliqued for a chimney-piece and cheap
wood mantel of a low ivory in color. The back
wall has an exterior door, right, and window,
left. A second window is up, right, in side wall.
A door to kitchen is down, left. The wall-
paper is neutral. There are hartshorn blinds
and cheap muslin curtains looped back. A
much worn rug or ingrain carpet preferably
rug covers entire floor.
Combined bookcase and desk, right. Desk is
open and full of the accumulated scraps of
years. Chair at desk. Leaf table, center, closed
and covered with faded red cloth. Piano be-
tween door and window. Two mid-Victorian
hair chairs at table. Rocker above fireplace.
Black walnut buffet, left. Cheaply furnished.
The mantelpiece carries a Rogers' group and
some China peasants. The fireplace has a wall-
paper screen in it, a rusty iron fender is in place,
and blowers. In upper right corner is a fur-
nished "whatnot." The pictures on wall are
framed prints of sentimental stuff. An oval
frame of walnut molding over fireplace holds
photo of boy of sixteen in Federal uniform.
Center table has a lamp. V oik's life mask of
Lincoln hangs on mantel panel over fire opening
78 THE COPPERHEAD
Lincoln's hand is in bookcase desk. Through
back door is seen ceiling of porch, which may be
a small piece hung to about height of door. The
back drop beyond gives an oblique of left side
of first set adjusted to angle of that set house.
DISCOVERED: MADELINE putting away the supper
dishes on dresser. She takes off apron and
brings writing material from desk to table.
(MADELINE turns at sound of step on porch. PHILIP
PHILIP. (Pause) Good-evening.
MADELINE. (With restraint) Good-evening.
PHILIP. May I come in?
PHILIP. (Enters) Well that's something.
(Pause.) Shake hands? (Extends hand.)
PHILIP. Feeling better ?
MADELINE. Seeing better, I think.
PHILIP. Couldn't be looking better unless per-
haps you'd consent to smile.
MADELINE. (Bitterly) Not in this place. When
I've got him away from these people who can carry
hatred for a lifetime got him safe with me in the
PHILIP. Only two old geezers in their dotage
ignorant and primitive. One of them just turned
loose from jail. Why care about them?
MADELINE. (Shakes head) Colonel Hardy, the
biggest man in the town, hasn't spoken to him in
nearly forty years. And to think I was ignorant of
the martyrdom he was suffering !
PHILIP. But it's over now, isn't it?
THE COPPERHEAD 79
MADELINE. Is it? Who's been here to see him
since it happened? The afternoon's gone by and
only the string of morbid gossips gaping past the
PHILIP. I've been here.
MADELINE. Your mother hasn't.
PHILIP. Well, mother's peculiar mother be-
MADELINE. (Pause) In heredity.
PHILIP. Mother believes there are times when
people want to be alone besides, to tell you the
truth, that shindy of ours rather shook mother's
nerves. She never saw anybody pull a gun before
MADELINE. Nor heard any one called a mur,
PHILIP. I fancy not. But mother's all right.
She said: "My heart just aches for poor little
Madeline." ( MADELINE sits and covers eyes.) I
told her 'twasn't best to pull much of that and
you see I'm right. Don't cry, dear, unless it com-
forts you. (Pause.) Must be a deuce of a strain.
(Arm about her.)
MADELINE. (Moves away) Please don't do that.
PHILIP. We're engaged, aren't we? (MADELINE
shakes her head. Pause.) Well, I am and I've
got a witness. That Doctor friend of yours con-
gratulated me said you'd told him.
MADELINE. Did your mother congratulate you?
PHILIP. Not yet but she will.
MADELINE. Did you tell her?
PHILIP. (Pauses shakes head) She heard the
Doctor. (MADELINE looks at him. Pause.) I was
planning to cushion it even if that scrap hadn't
PHILIP. I mean for any girl. When a fellow's
8o THE COPPERHEAD
an only child and his mother's a widow, she
(Shakes head.) Well, for a thing like this you got
to kind o' blindfold 'em and back 'em into it. Mother
thinks now that I don't love her (Shakes head)
and I kind o' hoped I'd bring up my average with
MADELINE. (Pause) You may tell her she has
nothing to fear.
PHILIP. Ha ! You don't know my mother. When
I tell her that you're making her conduct an excuse
for throwing me over, she'll be in here asking you
what you mean by it. I want you to marry me
because you love me and appreciate me, and not
just to get rid of mother.
MADELINE. (Smiles) Oh, Philip!
PHILIP. (Pleased with smile) That's the girl
I'm going to marry.
MADELINE. (Tasting her tears) That's the girl
that's breaking her heart because you're not.
PHILIP. (Pause) Why, Madeline, I'd insist on
your keeping your contract with me if you'd been
in jail. You can't cancel it because this story turns
up about your grandfather.
MADELINE. I saw the horror on your mother's
face when grandpa couldn't deny the stories cop-
perhead and horse thief and murder and peniten-
PHILIP. But, Madeline, some of our best families
can't stand a show-down on grandfathers. Why
MADELINE. No, no I love him and I'll take him
away and protect him but I won't burden your
career with that a public man just starting his
PHILIP. Where is your grandfather now?
MADELINE. In town somewhere.
PHILIP. I've got a car out here. Come with me.
We'll pick him up and a ride will do you both
THE COPPERHEAD 81
good. (MADELINE shakes her head. A step is heard.
They turn. Enter RANDALL.J
PHILIP. How are you?
RANDALL. I don't mean to intrude, but I've an
appointment here with Mr. Shanks. (Consults
PHILIP. I'm glad not to leave Madeline alone,
Doctor. (Pause.) That engagement on which you
congratulated me is disturbing her just at present.
I wish you'd tell her that in politics a man's father
cuts very little ice and when it comes to grand-
fathers, that most of the voters never had any. (To
MADELINE.,) He'll tell you I'm right about it.
MADELINE. Where did you leave grandpa?
RANDALL. On his way to Colonel Hardy's if
that's the name.
MADELINE. Why there?
RANDALL. (Shakes head) Something about an
MADELINE. At the school board?
RANDALL. I think so.
MADELINE. Poor grandpa. He mustn't be hu-
miliated by that. Oh, dear !
RANDALL. What is it?
MADELINE. I'd applied for the appointment as
school teacher, but I don't want it now and I wish
grandpa wouldn't say any more about it.
RANDALL. (Pause) Our friend (Nods off)
says your engagement is disturbing you some way.
What does he mean?
MADELINE. I've broken it.
RANDALL. On account of this trouble to-day?
RANDALL. (Pause) 'M! (Pause.) Why, as I
82 THE COPPERHEAD
remember it, Mr. Manning behaved rather sym-
MADELINE. His mother didn't.
RANDALL. Well (Pause) it's hard for me to
be an enthusiastic advocate, but maybe it's just as
unfair to blame him for mother as it would be to
blame you for grandfather.
MADELINE. She's never liked grandpa. I was
only twelve when she took me away from him.
RANDALL. She took you ?
MADELINE. Well, sent me.
RANDALL. Why ?
MADELINE. School and music lessons in Bos-
n. Their family comes from there.
RANDALL. What was her reason?
MADELINE. She heard me singing in here as I
was washing dishes one day. I must have been
bawling, because she stopped her carriage and turned
back and then came in.
RANDALL. Did she have her son with her?
RANDALL. Carriage? (^MADELINE nods.) By
taking you away from your grandfather, you mean
that she financed your school period?
MADELINE. Yes and that's one of the things
I'm going to repay. That must have hurt grandpa,
too because he's awfully fine and delicate about
such things but what's a girl of twelve know?
Can't you go to Colonel Hardy's and find grandpa?
RANDALL. Yes, but let's be sure that's what we
want to do. Don't you think that unpleasantly sug-
gests a lack of responsibility and
MADELINE. Yes of course you mustn't go.
RANDALL. (Pause) This this indebtedness you
imply to Mrs. Manning was that did that influ-
ence you in entering into this engagement with her
THE COPPERHEAD 83
MADELINE. Rather the other way but that's
over now. She's been against the other woman who
is applying for the teacher's place against her be-
cause her father, Mr. Gillespie, is rather ordinary
but grandpa's education isn't any better and I
couldn't (Shakes head.) with this this new talk
about him. No, it's over over all of that
(Throws it from her.)
RANDALL. I'm not going to be so gauche as to
urge my interest again at a moment like this but
I want you to be conscious of me as a kind of rainy
day proposition one of those consolation back-
grounds like an accident policy when one feels the
MADELINE. Dear Doctor, your proposals are all
RANDALL. Indefinite ?
MADELINE. Practical to improve my voice, or
live on the lake front, or guard against skidding
but I do like you.
RANDALL. And my dear mother is buried in
GILLESPIE. Where is Mr. Milton Shanks?
MADELINE. He's not at home, and I wouldn't let
you see him if he were.
GILLESPIE. He left word at my house that if I
wasn't a coward, to come here soon as I got home.
RANDALL. Well, we'll tell him you called.
GILLESPIE. I won't trouble you, stranger. I'll
wait for him.
MADELINE. Not in here, Mr. Gillespie.
GILLESPIE. Sidewalk suits me unless it's just
another copperhead trick ter keep me away from
84 THE COPPERHEAD
the school board. I'll stay right out here till that
meets and then I'll be back agin when it adjourns
at the gate. (Exit.)
RANDALL. Nothing to fear, Madeline. An old
fellow like that ! Why, his wind goes at the first
real exertion. Besides (Voices outside. PHILIP
MADELINE. Mr. Manning again.
GILLESPIE. (Outside) Half a dozen fellers
heered him. By God, I never tuk a dare from a
copperhead in the army times.
RANDALL. Your grandfather isn't there. Come
MADELINE. I can't stand any more fuss. (PHILIP
and MRS. MANNING appear.)
PHILIP. Here's mother, Madeline. I'll be right
back myself. (Exit. MRS. MANNING enters.)
MRS. MANNING. Madeline!
MADELINE. Mrs. Manning
MRS. MANNING. Dear Madeline, you don't doubt
my affection for you ?
MADELINE. Tisn't a question of that, Mrs. Man-
ning. I know your pride, too. I'm not going to
MRS. MANNING. Philip wants us to go on as
though nothing had happened and wants us not
to let this business stampede our meeting to-night.
The whole matter can be put over a week. Philip's
a lawyer and
MADELINE. What can a week change, if it's all
MRS. MANNING. Perhaps it isn't.
MADELINE. Perhaps it is. Grandpa hasn't denied
MRS. MANNING. He hasn't?
MADELINE. No. (Voices outside.)
THE COPPERHEAD 85
SHANKS. (Voice emerging) Yes, I said so.
Come in, Philip.
RANDALL. That's Mr. Shanks. (^SHANKS and
SHANKS. Inside, Gillespie. (PHILIP enters and
goes to MADELINE, who avoids him down left.)
Inside. (Enters. GILLESPIE enters. SHANKS looks
about at others hesitates.)
GILLESPIE. If I wasn't a coward, I'd come. Well,
SHANKS. I've asked Colonel Hardy to come
PHILIP. Mr. Shanks!
SHANKS. Yes, Philip.
PHILIP. (Impulsively) There's my hand, sir.
SHANKS. (Taking hand) Yes.
PHILIP. (Pause) You can tell whether I like
you or not, can't you?
SHANKS. (In pain of grasp) Yes, Philip I kin
but don't keep it up any longer'n you haf to.
(Straightens his cramped fingers.)
MRS. MANNING. I've just got to be straightfor-
ward with you, Mr. Shanks.
SHANKS. Best way allers if ye kin straight-
MRS. MANNING. Were you ever convicted on a
SHANKS. (Pause. Nods) Once.
MRS. MANNING. That man said the penitentiary.
GILLESPIE. An' I said so, too.
MRS. MANNING. I hate to add a moment to your
unhappiness, Mr. Shanks. (Pause, during; which
SHANKS suffers quietly.) I'm perfectly willing to
concede that there was some mistake about it that
you were probably innocent of the charge, but
SHANKS. (Shakes head) No, I took 'em me
and some other fellers workin' for the South. Them
86 THE COPPERHEAD
was war times, recollec', an' they wanted the horse*
fur John Moseby in Kentucky. J F I'd been in the
army, it'd been all right, but I was I wasn't in the
army. (Pause.) So (Throws up his hands.)
MRS. MANNING. You must believe I haven't
meant to hurt you, Mr. Shanks !
SHANKS. Course. Yer jist thinkin* about yer
MRS. MANNING. That's all.
PHILIP. Never mind about me.
SHANKS. That's all 'at matters now. I don't
care about myself. Two other fellers was convicted
'long- with me. One of 'em's gone now; you saw
the other one to-day so I don't have to say any-
thing fur them. But I would Folks called
'em "copperheads," but they thought they was work-
in' fur their country, same as folks on the other side.
Grant understood. He gave every feller his side-
arms and his hoss at Appomattox. Grant said :
"You'll need the bosses, boys, to plant yer crops."
That's what Abe Lincoln would o' said, too. Er
(Pause.) Sorry, Philip (Pause.) awful sorry.
PHILIP. (Hands on SHANKS' shoulders) Over
fifty years ago, Mr. Shanks. It's a damned shame
to dig it up now. There's a moral statute of limita-
tions and I hope that in fifty years I'll have as clean
a heart. (Strikes SHANKS on breast.)
SHANKS. (Pause and tender regard) Taller'n
me. He he used to put his hands on my shoulders.
I wish Hardy'd come but there's somethin' we kin
do while we're waitin'. (He goes to desk gets old
revolver in paper, unwraps it. There is a tag which
his grasp hides.)
MRS. MANNING. Is that loaded?
SHANKS. Four barrels yes.
GILLESPIE. I didn't bring any gun.
SHANKS. You kin have this one, Newt. (To
THE COPPERHEAD 87
MADELINE. ) Dearie, git the corkscrew for me.
(MADELINE goes for old folding corkscrew in buf-
PHILIP. Mr. Shanks.
SHANKS. At my trial, this was marked Exhibit
B. Two barrels fired. The rest are just as we left
'em. Take that corkscrew, Philip, and pull out the
wads and the powder, 'cause they never was any bul-
lets in 'em. I didn't say that at the trial, 'cause I
didn't want to lay the blame all on the others but
I ain't a murderer, Madeline.
MADELINE. Of course you aren't, dear.
GILLESPIE. You've had thirty-eight years ter git
out the bullets yerself.
SHANKS. That's so and I only want to convince
Madeline about that. I've never told her a story.
PHILIP. I believe you, too.
GILLESPIE. Well, I don't and it's time fur your
school board meetin', Mrs. Manning.
SHANKS. Come in, Colonel Hardy, come in, sir.
Sit down, Mrs. Manning. A short horse is soon
curried, and my business won't keep the men stand-
in' long. (HARDY comes down, bowing to company.)
Sit down, Maddy, dear you kin stan' by her, Philip.
(Pause as group arranges itself.) Doctor Randall.
(Pause.) Philip. (Pause. Defers to MRS. MAN-
NING slightly.) Colonel Hardy and me was boys
together. Our Congressman give me an appoint-
ment to West Point, but Tom Hardy ought a o' had
it. Besides, 'twasn't convenient for me to go to
West Point jest then, so I resigned it fur him. 'Fore
that, we went together to a school where Abe Lin-
coln come and talked to us. We both knowed him
88 THE COPPERHEAD
from that time on until he was elected President
ain't that so, Colonel Hardy?
HARDY. (Severely) Yes.
SHANKS. (Gets mask from mantel, blows dust
from it.) Lincoln! We was together at his house,
'fore he started for Washington. A sculpture man
was there to take a plaster Paris model of his face.
Most folks think this is a after death thing, but
Colonel Hardy and me saw it took jes' throwed
the soft plaster on his face and let it git hard. Lin-
coln sittin' in a armchair, like you are. (To MRS.
MANNING.,) In this box (Gets it from desk.)
where I have my letters and keepsakes is a model
of Lincoln's hand the hand that wrote the emanci-
pation of slavery. (Pause.) The sculpture man
sent me these hisself, so they're genuine. That
stick's a piece of broom handle Lincoln sawed off
while Volk (Reads name on cast.) that was the
sculpture feller's name while Volk was mixin'
plaster in a washbowl. (Shows hand by his own.)
Bigger man'n me, every way. (Pause.) All of the
statues of Lincoln nowadays is copied from this
(Pause.) so, you see, we knowed him. (Pause.)
Then the war broke out. Hardy tuk a vow to sup-
port his country, I took one to destroy it. Hardy's
company marched off my Joey, only sixteen, along
with 'em. His mother leant agin the fence an' the
women fanned her an', my God he looked like a
soldier! (Regards picture suggests march. To
PHILIP. ) You was probably thinner at sixteen yer-
PHILIP. Yes I was.
SHANKS. I was peekin' from some bushes cud
o' almost teched him as they marched by (Pause.)
-blue eyes (To MRS. MANNING. Pause.)
His mother never said a word cried quite a spell.
Well, us Knights o' the Golden Circle
THE COPPERHEAD 89
SHANKS. (Pause) Golden Circle we sent help
to the South all we could and we pizened cattle,
and I went to Richmond Virginy twict. Time