Clyde Fitch.

Her Own Way A Play in Four Acts online

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you know bullets are always warded off that way?

GEORGIANA. Oh, that was in the old romantic days of the nineteenth
century, and then it was a prayer book or a bunch of love letters.
To-day it's much more apt to be a cigarette case!

[_The children run in, led by_ PHILIP.

PHILIP. They've gone! Hurrah! They've gone!

[GEORGIANA _and_ DICK _rise._

CHRISTOPHER. They've gone! They've gone!

[TOOTS _hangs on to_ DICK.

PHILIP. [_Taking hold of_ GEORGIANA.] Come on, now, our game, or we'll
never have it!

CHRISTOPHER. Blindman's buff!

TOOTS. Yes, blindman's buff!

GEORGIANA. [_To_ DICK.] Are you game?

DICK. Just one round, and then I must be off. I'll be blindfolded.

[_Takes out his handkerchief._

TOOTS. I want to be blindfolded!

PHILIP. No! Let Mr. Dick!

DICK. [_Giving his handkerchief to_ GEORGIANA.] Will you blindfold me?

GEORGIANA. [_Binds his eyes._] To my faults?

DICK. That would be Love's Labour Lost.

GEORGIANA. How do you mean Love's Labour Lost?

PHILIP. Don't let him peek!

DICK. And whoever I catch, I kiss!

PHILIP. No, tell the name first!

DICK. No, I must play my own game, and that is to kiss her first, and
tell the name afterwards!

GEORGIANA. Now, turn him around three times, Christopher. [CHRISTOPHER
_does so, holding_ DICK _by the knees._] And keep away, everybody!


[_All watch eagerly._ DICK _moves down stage, reaching his arms out as a
blindfolded person does, but always with his arms too high to catch one
of the children._

PHILIP. Put your arms lower!

CHRISTOPHER. Yes, you can only catch Aunt Georgiana that way!

[GEORGIANA, _happy, pinches_ CHRISTOPHER'S _arm playfully._ DICK _lowers
his arms for a moment, but purposely catches no one. Then he lifts his
arms a little towards_ GEORGIANA, _who cries out and moves, lifting_
TOOTS _on the table._ DICK _follows the sound of her voice and catches
hold of_ TOOTS'S _head._

PHILIP. [_Excited._] Musn't move your hands!

DICK. Make her kiss me, then.

[GEORGIANA _leans over, holding_ TOOTS _to one side, and kisses_ DICK

PHILIP. [_Delighted, calls out._] Guess who! Guess who!

[GEORGIANA _motions to the children not to tell and moves away._

DICK. [_Hearing the voice from where he supposes the kiss came, he lakes
off the bandage. He sees_ TOOTS _and is disappointed._] Why - I thought
it was Georgiana! Toots! You rascal!

CHRISTOPHER. [_Trying to tell._] But Mr. Dick, Mr. Dick!

[TOOTS _laughs and claps hands._ GEORGIANA _gets hold of_ CHRISTOPHER
_and holds her hand over his mouth._ GEORGIANA _and_ CHRISTOPHER
_follow_ DICK _to the door Left._

GEORGIANA. [_To_ CHRISTOPHER, _to stop his telling._] Sh! [_To_ DICK.]

DICK. Good-by!

TOOTS. [_Wanting to tell._] But -

PHILIP. Good-by! Good-by!

GEORGIANA. Good-by Dick! Come soon again!

DICK. To-morrow!

GEORGIANA. I'll wait in all day!

CHRISTOPHER. But Mr. Dick, it was -

[GEORGIANA _hushes him with her hand over his mouth._


DICK. Good-by!

[_He goes out Left._


[GEORGIANA _bursts into tears and hugs_ TOOTS _on top of the table._

CHRISTOPHER. But it was you, Aunt Georgiana!

GEORGIANA. Don't any of you tell on auntie! You won't, will you? Let
auntie have her own way.



_The drawing-room at the Carleys'. A handsome room in dark wood, with
tapestry on the walls and an old portrait built in over the mantle. The
furniture is gilt, Louis XVI, covered with old crimson brocade. There is
a warmth about the room, a profusion of flowers, some books and
magazines. A piano in the upper left-hand corner, a window with a
balcony at Left. Doors Right and Left._ LOUISE _and_ MRS. CARLEY _are
replacing the furniture, which has been disarranged. Out on the balcony_
MOLES _is seen, with_ PHILIP _and_ CHRISTOPHER, _arranging an American
flag on the balcony balustrade._

LOUISE. Thank goodness, the luncheon's over!

MRS. CARLEY. Yes, I thought they'd never go, and I've got the Shindle
woman coming to do my hair.

LOUISE. I noticed it was getting a little dark at the wrong end, mother.

MRS. CARLEY. What was it Steve said this morning? It was always darkest
before blond! Well, it's lucky I'm good-natured so long as I live in
this family and don't want to grow old.

LOUISE. What are they doing on the balcony?

MRS. CARLEY. Dick Coleman's regiment marches by here this afternoon.

[_She sits by a table Right._

LOUISE. Do they start for the Philippines to-day?

MRS. CARLEY. Yes, and the President is to receive them in front of the

LOUISE. [_Coming to her._] Have you noticed Steve?

MRS. CARLEY. No, - has he got a new suit?

LOUISE. No, something's troubling him. [_Thoughtfully._] I believe he's
been speculating again and has lost.

MRS. CARLEY. He couldn't; he hasn't got anything more to lose.

LOUISE. [_Petulantly._] He hasn't played with the children for a week
and he hates going out so lately, - wants to refuse every invitation!
Even the ones you and I've been patting ourselves on the back for
getting! I can't stand it.

MRS. CARLEY. Quite right, too - if one doesn't go out, where can one go,
and if we don't go anywhere, what are we to do? We can't stay home.
[_Rising, she crosses to mirror on table Left._] I say, dear, what
about having my hair a little redder?

LOUISE. Let me see! [MRS. CARLEY _faces her_ - LOUISE _examines her
critically._] I wouldn't much; if you do, people will say you _dye_ it.

MRS. CARLEY. I don't care what they say, so long as they don't say it to
my face. Have you had yours massaged this morning?

LOUISE. Yes, why?

[_Goes to mirror and, pushing_ MRS. CARLEY _out of the way, examines her
face in the glass._

MRS. CARLEY. Nothing, only I think you must have it done religiously,
darling; the crow's feet are beginning to come.

[_Sits on sofa and begins to crochet on an afghan._

LOUISE. Oh, I'm worried to-day and besides, I think our masseuse is
getting careless. [_Turns, goes up to_ MRS. CARLEY, _and sits on the
sofa._] I'm going to change her; she never tells you anything about
anybody, anyway.

MRS. CARLEY. I told you that the first day she came. She was positively
rude the way she refused to be pumped by me about the people next door.
Do you know I'm worried too. [_Rises, gives_ LOUISE _her work, and again
looks in the glass._] I think my hips are getting bigger.

LOUISE. Well, my dear mother, you must have hips sometime in your life,
and you've done pretty well. Look at your friend, Mrs. Brint.

[FOOTMAN _enters with tray, goes to table Right, and collects the small
cups and saucers._

MRS. CARLEY. My dear! when Sarah Brint was _married_ she looked like a
widow! [LOUISE _laughs._] It made me so mad seeing the people eat
everything the way they did.

LOUISE. Mamma, you're so amusing. Of course we do have good food; we
must get people here somehow.

MRS. CARLEY. And I not daring to eat a thing! Why is it nice things are
all fattening?

[_The_ FOOTMAN _goes out_.

LOUISE. [_Rises and comes to_ MRS. CARLEY.] Does it strike you that this
dress of mine makes me look too short-waisted?

MRS. CARLEY. Turn round. [LOUISE _does so._] Yes! don't wear it again.

LOUISE. [_Irritated._] Why didn't you tell me before lunch?

MRS. CARLEY. I didn't notice it!

LOUISE. [_Angry. Turns to mirror and then to_ MRS. CARLEY.] That's just
it! You don't care! You don't think of me ever! You only think of

MRS. CARLEY. [_Angry._] That's not true. I've sacrificed my life for
you, and for what good?

LOUISE. What good! Good heavens, haven't Steve and I done everything for
you, lugged you into the best position almost in New York?

MRS. CARLEY. Yes, that's just it, "_almost!_" Your husband hates me and
you back him up - and keep me in the background!

LOUISE. I couldn't! You wouldn't stay there.

[_With a disagreeable laugh._

MRS. CARLEY. [_Sits in chair left of the table._] That's it, insult
me, - but I've had enough! I've made up my mind, anyway, to leave your
house and live by myself.


LOUISE. Oh, stop, mamma. You know I didn't mean anything. I'm sorry!

MRS. CARLEY. [_Crying._] No, I'm in the way.

LOUISE. You're not in the way. You know I couldn't live without my
darling pretty little mamma. Please stop crying and kiss me.

[_Puts her arms around her._

MRS. CARLEY. [_Still crying._] I haven't anybody in the world but you.

LOUISE. Don't I know that, don't I know I couldn't get on without you!
There! [_Kisses her._] Now it's all right. Come on, darling, come up and
get your hair dyed.

MRS. CARLEY. [_Pleasantly._] Sh! don't _call_ it that!

LOUISE. I am irritable lately, I know it - but I see without our money
even Steve couldn't get us a decent position. We might just as well face
the truth. Certain people don't appreciate you and me, mamma. We aren't
even acquired tastes.

MRS. CARLEY. No one ever appreciated me long. I was prettier than you
were at your age, and my husbands both fell in love with me at first
sight. But I never wore well.

[_She takes a magazine from the table and begins to cut the pages._

LOUISE. I wonder if Georgiana _will_ marry Sammy!

MRS. CARLEY. I wish to goodness she would.

LOUISE. I believe she's in love with Mr. Coleman.

MRS. CARLEY. No, they've always known each other.

LOUISE. Well, some people wear better than we do, that's all! and I
believe she's in love with him, whether either of them know it or not.

florid, buxom young person, pleased with herself and all the world. She
carries several packages._

GEORGIANA. Here's Bella, mother.

EVERYBODY. How are you, Bella?

GEORGIANA. All your guests gone?

[_She sits left of table._ MRS. CARLEY _goes back of table, and_ LOUISE
_moves to the right._

MRS. CARLEY. Yes, thank goodness! You _might_ have been here.

GEORGIANA. You know I can't stand your would-be smart parties!

LOUISE. I think they're always angry when they don't see you.

GEORGIANA. Nonsense! Did you have a good time? Pick everybody else to

LOUISE. No, we all said nice things about Mrs. Lothman.

GEORGIANA. Mercy! What's the matter with her?

LOUISE. My dear, she's a perfect nonentity; she might just as well _not_

GEORGIANA. [_Amused._] Well, to tell the truth, I don't care much about
her myself. She's one of those boring creatures who when you ask her how
she is, really tells you!

MRS. CARLEY. _You_ with fancy work! What in the world are you doing?

GEORGIANA. I am knitting a tie for Dick!

MRS. CARLEY. Good gracious. Well, I'll go upstairs and get into
something _loose_. I'll be ready in ten minutes.

[_She goes out Right._

LOUISE. I must see the children; I haven't seen them to-day.

[_She follows her mother out._

BELLA. Miss Carley.

GEORGIANA. Yes, Bella.

BELLA. Mr. Coleman, Lieutenant Coleman, is going to the Philippines

GEORGIANA. [_Sighing involuntarily._] Yes, Bella.

BELLA. I've got a friend going along.

GEORGIANA. In the company?

BELLA. Yes - well, I don't mind telling you - he's my young man, Miss

GEORGIANA. Why, Bella, I didn't know you were engaged?

BELLA. Well, I don't know as you'd call it exactly, yes I _would_ say as
we _was_ engaged - though I haven't got a ring. But we're going to get
married when he comes back, if hugging and kissing is binding, which I
_guess_, with witnesses! He wanted to give me a ring of his mother's,
but I said "No," I wouldn't take that, it was sacred and he'd always
wore it. You see it was an old-fashioned-looking sort of onyx stone with
oyster pearls, and not for me - I'd rather wait.

GEORGIANA. You have an eye out on the main chance, Bella.

BELLA. Well, I wasn't born yesterday. Say, all the girls was crazy about
him. I met him to dancing school Tuesday evenings at Adelphi Hall and we
started right in, every Sunday night to church and every Saturday to the
theatre. He enjoyed Sundays best and I Saturdays, but I felt it was
because church was cheapest. He's dreadful economical.

GEORGIANA. You get more attention than I do from my soldier. You at
least have the consolation of knowing you're the girl he's left behind.

BELLA. 'Tain't much consolation if I get left for _good_! Say, will you
ask Mr. Coleman to sort o' look after him? Ask him to please put him in
the back row when there's fighting - and keep an eye on his health. I'm
afraid it's dreadful _damp_ being a soldier; and do you know that man
actually catches cold if he forgets his rubbers and it sprinkles?

GEORGIANA. I don't think he ought to go if he's so delicate; Mr. Coleman
will take an interest in your friend, I know, if I ask him. What's his

BELLA. Mr. Gootch.

GEORGIANA. _Mr. Gootch!_ Yes, I can remember that. But, you see, if he's
a soldier he must do his duty, whatever it is.

BELLA. There's no holding him back! He's jus' as likely as not to lose
his position at Snipleys, Crabford & Snipleys, too, but he _will_ go!
It's surprising to see a man with such a weak chest and delicate feet,
so awful brave and persistent.

LOUISE. [_Coming back._] I bore the children to death, so I left them.
What are all these bundles, Bella?

BELLA. Christmas presents. This is just the time of the year to buy, you
know, you can get such bargains! and if there's one thing I think
nicer'n anything else to get cheap, it's Christmas presents.

GEORGIANA. You should do like Mrs. Carley, Bella, save half of the
things you get one year to give away the next.

[_She sits by the table and goes on with her work._

LOUISE. I always do that. I get so many things I can't bear.

GEORGIANA. But you must be careful not to send them back to the same
place they came from! That _has_ happened.

LOUISE. Georgiana!

[BELLA _laughs out loud and sits on the sofa._ LOUISE _sits opposite_

GEORGIANA. What have you got? Sit down and tell us.

BELLA. Thank you, ma'am. [_Delighted with the opportunity. Taking up the
different parcels._] Well, I've got an elegant pair of scissors for
mother, marked down because of a flaw in the steel, but she's
near-sighted, and she don't want to use 'em anyway - it's just to feel
she has another pair. Scissors is mother's fad - sort of born in her, I
guess, for my mother's mother was a kind of dressmaker. She didn't have
robes and mantucks over her door, you know, - she was too swell for
that, - she went out by the day! And this is a real bronze Louis
ink-stand for my sister's husband, only cost thirty-nine cents and
hasn't got a thing the matter with it, so long as you don't see the
others - if you see the others, you'll observe that there's a naked lady
missing off the top part which I'm glad of anyway as I'm giving it to a
gentleman, and he'll never see the others besides. And this is two boxes
of writing paper; aren't they _huge_! _awful_ cheap with a lovely
picture of an actress on top - Lillian Russell in _Mice and Men_, I
think, on one, and Jean Duresk the Opera Singer in _Lonegrind_ on the
other. The boxes 'av got false bottoms - so there ain't very much writing
material, but the rich effect's there all the same.

GEORGIANA. [_Laughing._] Bella, you're a wonderful shopper!

BELLA. And this is a copy of Homer's _Iliad_ for my sister. Do you know
it? Is it nice? Anything like Hall Caine's works, or Mary Corelli's?
She's always been my sister's favorite writeress. You see they've got a
whole counter of these beautifully bound in red and gold, and only
nineteen cents. But it's so hard to decide which to buy. I've about
decided now to take this back and change it for _Lucille_. Which do you
think my sister'd like best, Homer's _Iliad_ or _Lucille_?

GEORGIANA. I believe she'd prefer _Lucille_, and besides half the fun in
shopping is in the changing one's mind and taking things back, don't you
think so?

BELLA. Yes, ma'am, I think so.

[MOLES _enters Left._

MOLES. Mr. Coast to see Miss Georgiana, please.

[BELLA _rises._

GEORGIANA. Did you say I was in?

MOLES. Yes, miss.

GEORGIANA. What a bore! Very well, Moles.

[_He goes out._

BELLA. I'll be going up to Mrs. Carley, now.

[_Goes toward the door Right._

GEORGIANA. Wait a minute, Bella. I want you to do something for me.
Entertain Sammy, Louise, till I come back.

[_She goes out with_ BELLA.

LOUISE. I never was able to entertain Sammy, but I'll do my best.

[COAST _enters, announced by_ MOLES, _who immediately exits._

COAST. Hello, Lou, how goes it?

LOUISE. Beastly!

COAST. Where's Miss Georgiana?

LOUISE. She'll be down in a minute. Sam, do you know what's the matter
with Steve?

COAST. Probably he's been losing.

LOUISE. Whose money?

COAST. Everybody's.

LOUISE. But can't you help him?

COAST. No; it's not my business.

[_Sits on the sofa, putting the pillows out of his way._

LOUISE. But he's my husband, and you're my cousin.

COAST. What's the difference? Twenty years ago, when your father was
rich as Croesus and my guv'ner and I up a stump for - tobacco, anyway, if
not for bread, did he lift a finger to help us? not on your life! That
lets me out! Every man for himself - and listen, if I wanted to starve I
could lose a real good fortune through Steve Carley, without any outside

LOUISE. I told mother you'd be like that.

COAST. We're all pretty much alike; she'd recognize the Coast family.

LOUISE. If you were married to Georgiana, you couldn't ignore her
brother. She isn't like us.

COAST. Well, if I could get Georgiana, [_Going to_ LOUISE.] I'd be
willing to do a good deal. She's the only woman I can see in this world
my size.

LOUISE. So I guessed, but if Dick Coleman proposes before he goes to the
Philippines, I wouldn't give much for your chances.

COAST. Listen, Lou; did you ever know me to lose anything I'd set my
mind on getting.


COAST. Well I mean to marry Georgiana, Dick Coleman or no Dick Coleman.
No, I'll put it different from that. I mean to make her love me,
because, by God, I love that woman so I'd do anything, commit a crime
almost, to get her.

[STEVEN _enters Left and_ COAST _goes up to the mantel._

LOUISE. Steve, aren't you up town early?

STEVEN. A little.

[_Sits Left._ MOLES _enters._

MOLES. Beg pardon, sir.

LOUISE. What is it, Moles?

MOLES. [_To_ LOUISE.] Mr. Carley, m'm. [_To_ STEVEN.] Could I speak with
you a few moments, sir?

STEVEN. I'm very busy to-day, Moles.

MOLES. But have you noticed sir, this morning, United Copper is lower.

STEVEN. It can't be helped - go about your business.

MOLES. But for heaven's sake, Mr. Carley - you said yesterday if it
dropped another point and we couldn't give up any more money, Lizzie and
me'd both lose everything we had.

STEVEN. I'm sorrier than I can say, but there are lots of others worse
off than you.

[GEORGIANA _re√Ђnters Right._

COAST. [_Cynically to_ STEVEN.] You don't mean to say you've been
speculating with Moles's money.

LOUISE. Moles!

STEVEN. It was for _himself_, not me, I put him in.

MOLES. And Lizzie, sir. And we'd counted it up, how if we made all you
said, we could leave service soon, sir, and we could afford a small
house in the country with say _four_ rooms and _one_ baby - Lizzie doing
her own work.

LOUISE. Do you mean to say, Steve, that your own servants have lost
their earnings through you?

MOLES. Yes, m'm.

STEVEN. [_Doggedly._] Put it that way if you like. I meant to do them a
good turn.

LOUISE. But we can't let that happen; we must pay them back!

COAST. [_Amused._] Bully for you, Louise! getting generous in your old

LOUISE. It would ruin us socially if it got out!

COAST. Oh, I see!

MOLES. Mr. Carley said it was _sure_, ma'am.

[COAST _laughs a rather coarse laugh._

STEVEN. For heaven's sake, Coast! Go away, Moles.

[MOLES _goes out Left._

COAST. [_To_ STEVEN.] Are they holding on for you?

STEVEN. They said they'd give me till to-morrow to put up more security.

[_Sits Right._

COAST. What do you need?

[_No answer._

LOUISE. How much more security, Steve?

[_Goes to_ STEVE.

STEVEN. Say a hundred and fifty thousand.

[COAST _whistles_.

LOUISE. He'd better hold on, Sam, hadn't he; what do you think of the

COAST. Don't ask _me_.

LOUISE. We've got _to risk it_, anyway. Use some of my bonds, Steve.

STEVEN. Louise!

LOUISE. Yes, I mean it, we must.

STEVEN. You don't understand me - we can't use your security.

LOUISE. Why not?

STEVEN. [_Rising and half turning away._] Not - again.

LOUISE. How do you mean "again"?

STEVEN. Your money is all there, all, already buried in it!

LOUISE. _All_ my money? _All_ of it!

STEVEN. Yes, I wanted to win back your mother's, I wanted -


LOUISE. [_Beside herself._] You wanted! You wanted!! You wanted!!! To
ruin us, that is what I should say you wanted to do! - Do you mean to
say, behind my back, you've gambled away every cent I have, as well as
all my mother's money!?!

GEORGIANA. No! it's not possible - Steve!

[_Comes between_ STEVEN _and_ LOUISE.

STEVEN. When did you come in, Georgy?

LOUISE. Georgy! [_No answer; she continues hysterically._] He can't deny
it; it's true! And it's rank dishonesty, that's what it is! You've
robbed me, you've robbed my mother, you've robbed your own children!
The papers will call you a -

STEVEN. [_Interrupting._] That's not true! I had control of your
money - to do with as I choose, and I did what I thought was for the

LOUISE. You've never done anything for me that wasn't for the worst!

[_Walking up and down excitedly._


LOUISE. It's true! If I can save a cent out of this ruin, I'll take it
and the children away from you! I'll never live with you again! I'll
show you up to all your smart friends who've snubbed me! I'll send you
to state prison if I can!

[_Sits in the arm-chair down Left._

COAST. Shut up, Lou! You'd better get a little legal advice before you
start on that track.


[_Goes to_ LOUISE.

LOUISE. Well, what have _you_ got to say? My mother brought _you_ up,
was a second mother to your brother who ruined us, but you've got _your_
money, I suppose. You've been clever enough to keep _your_ money in your
own hands, - you and he will always have enough!

[_Crying hysterically._

GEORGIANA. _Will_ you listen to me and let me say what I'm trying to?

LOUISE. [_Bursting into floods of tears, overwhelmed with sympathy for
herself._] He's broken my heart! That's what he's done; broken my heart!

GEORGIANA. [_Going to_ LOUISE.] Oh, no, he hasn't, Louise, he's only
broken your bank, and you don't know the difference. I want to say to
you now, - that all Steve needed was real love, and the guiding hand of a
true, sensible woman -

STEVEN. [_Interrupting her, goes to_ GEORGIANA. GEORGIANA _turns to_
STEVE.] No, Georgy! You mustn't blame Louise! I love her and always
will, just as she is. She doesn't mean all she says now - she's angry,
and she has a right to be - I'm one of those men who never succeed - who
never have any luck, and it's bad luck for her to have to share mine.

GEORGIANA. Well, what's done's done? But, as Louise says, my money's

STEVEN. Yes, but -

GEORGIANA. Mine must do for all of us.

COAST. [_Strongly._] Excuse me, but I'll see that Louise and her mother
don't suffer; _you_ keep your money.

GEORGIANA. No, that's not the point, Sam. I asked you once to give my
brother advice and you refused. You might have prevented this, and now
we can get along without your money. Steve won't have to go out of his
own family to make up as far as he can for what he's lost out of yours.

[SAM _turns away to the mantel._

STEVEN. Georgy! O Georgy! You're an angel! [_Hugging her and kissing her
in a transport of relief._] I'll get out of it, you'll see! I'll cover
myself to-morrow. I can do that with your Croton Bonds and your Mutual
Life and a couple of mortgages, and we'll win in the end, and Louise get
hers back and mother too - ! [_His arm about his wife._] It's _sure_ in
the end, _it's got_ to be, Louise.

[_There is no response from_ LOUISE.

GEORGIANA. Steven, I have a condition about my money.

STEVEN. [_Crestfallen._] What?

GEORGIANA. It isn't to be used as you think. If I'm to help you, it must
be in my own way.

STEVEN. How do you mean?

GEORGIANA. What's lost is _lost_. I have between five and six hundred
thousand dollars, and we must all live on the income of that. And you
must give your word of honor never to gamble in stocks again.

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