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Her Own Way A Play in Four Acts online

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Oh, come in, sir. [_Moves away._] Mr. Carley is here.

COAST. [_Entering._] Where's Miss Georgiana?

LIZZIE. She's dressing, sir. She'll be down in five or ten minutes.

[_Goes out Right._

COAST. How are you?

[_The two men nod a surly greeting._

STEVEN. I've been looking for you all afternoon!

COAST. Didn't you know I was coming here and going with your folks to
the ball?

STEVEN. I forgot!

[_After a pause, both men look at each other._

Well, Sam, I'm done! I'm done for good this time!

COAST. Sorry, but you can't blame me.

[_He sits in an arm-chair near the sofa._

STEVEN. I do. You told me you were going into this last business, but
you didn't tell me you were going to get right out again.

COAST. 'Twasn't my business to tell you that - I didn't advise _you_ to
go in!

STEVEN. No, but you put me up to it all the same!

COAST. Not a bit! The only time I advised you was some months ago, when
you'd just lost Louise's money, - then I put you on to something, so you
shouldn't lose Georgiana's. Did you win?

STEVEN. Yes, and broke my word to Georgiana.

COAST. Well, that's her and your business, but it let me out! From that
time on you were on your own hook.

STEVEN. You were always throwing out hints that you meant me to take.

COAST. Listen. [_Rises and goes to_ STEVEN.] You can't prove that!

STEVEN. You know you led me into it, you know you did. You tempted me in
the first place to break my word of honor to my sister. Whether you
meant to or not, you did it, damn you - and you're a rich man, you've got
millions, and can help me out! Will you?

COAST. [_Quietly._] No.

[_Moves a little away toward the Left._

STEVE. You're my wife's own cousin, and she's a pauper and through no
fault of her own. Will you help me for her sake?

COAST. [_Still quietly._] No.

STEVEN. You're in love with my sister, and she's not got a cent of her
own to-night _through me_. Will you help me for her sake?

COAST. [_Still quietly._] No!

STEVEN. [_Going to him._] No?



STEVEN. Then damn you for a dirty blackguard!

COAST. [_Laughs._] That's pretty talk; I guess you got that from _me_

STEVEN. [_Doggedly._] I'll do more than talk!

[_Turns away and goes up stage._

COAST. What?

STEVEN. Wait and see.

COAST. Listen! if one thing happens, I'll help you.

STEVEN. [_Turning._] You mean Georgiana!

COAST. Yes, if she'll marry me, I'll make up to you every damn cent of
hers you've got rid of.

STEVEN. And if she won't?

COAST. I'll make up every penny of Louise's you've lost, if
Georgiana'll marry me. Listen - [SAM _puts his arm around_ STEVEN _and
brings him down to the sofa and they sit._] she loves you, you're the
kind that always has influence with women; use yours for me, Steve,
it'll be worth your while.

STEVEN. [_Half laughs._] You want me to try and persuade her to marry
you against her own desire even?

COAST. That's the figure.

STEVEN. When I know you're, in your way, just as dishonorable a man as I
am, and hard and heartless, [STEVE _rises_.] I wouldn't risk my sister's
happiness with you, if it would save me twice over. Even if she loved
you, I'd say what I could against it.

COAST. [_Quick._] She'll never know you broke your word to her if I help

STEVEN. Yes, she will, because I mean to tell her to-night.

COAST. All right!

STEVEN. That's what I've come for, to make a clean breast of everything.

COAST. You're a damned fool! [_He rises and moves away._] However, each
way plays more or less into my hands.

GEORGIANA. [_Outside of door Right._] If you are telling secrets, look
out - I'm coming!

COAST. Come on!

[GEORGIANA _comes in, dressed in graceful negligée tea gown._

GEORGIANA. Good evening, Sam! Steve, you're not dressed yet?

STEVEN. I forgot about the ball.

GEORGIANA. I can tell you one person who hasn't, and that's mother!

COAST. [_Laughing._] Is she going to be corking?

GEORGIANA. [_Sitting in the arm-chair by the sofa._] If the Grand Duke
were a bachelor and mother had designs upon him, she couldn't possibly
take more pains! She's going to be beyond all words. She's got every
jewel she owns and can borrow draped about her, till she looks like
Tiffany's exhibit at the St. Louis Fair. And as for her hair, she's had
Bella Shindle working on it all afternoon, till it's the Titianest
Titian that ever flamed on human head!

COAST. Sounds great!

[_Sitting on the bench._ STEVEN _sits on the sofa._

GEORGIANA. Wait! She's built her tiara up with a breastpin and an
aigrette off my winter hat, and it was all I could do to keep her from
wearing the three feathers in which she was presented to the Queen in
A.D. '73.

[_They all laugh good-naturedly._

COAST. Aunt Laura's a corker!

GEORGIANA. Well, no one will miss her! She'll get the Grand Duke's eye
if no one else does! I tell her she'll go through the ballroom like a

COAST. Is she all dressed now?

GEORGIANA. Not yet. I'm judging by her dress rehearsal! I left her in a
state of terrible indecision as to whether she should arch her eyebrows
"just a little" with a burnt match!

[_All laugh again good-naturedly._

COAST. Smart old girl!

GEORGIANA. She's all the happier for being silly, and she's a good soul
and does her best! What's _your_ news, Steve?

[_Turning to_ STEVEN.

STEVEN. Sam, would you mind?

[_Motions to_ COAST _to leave the room._

COAST. Oh, no! [_Rises._] See you later! I'll go and take a squint at

[_He goes out Right._

GEORGIANA. Steve, you look troubled - what's gone wrong?

[_She goes to_ STEVEN _on the sofa and sits beside him._

STEVEN. _I_ have!

GEORGIANA. How do you mean? You and Louise haven't quarrelled?

STEVEN. If it was only that!

GEORGIANA. What then?

STEVEN. I've gone wrong, I tell you, all wrong.

GEORGIANA. How? In what way, Steve?

STEVEN. Your money's lost, it's all lost.

[GEORGIANA _rises. A pause._

GEORGIANA. How do you mean?

STEVEN. And that isn't the worst of it, either. I've broken my word to
you! I know I've killed your faith in me. I've lost faith in myself.

GEORGIANA. [_Still standing, very strong._] Steve!

STEVEN. I've speculated!

GEORGIANA. _No_, Steve!

STEVEN. [_Rises and goes to the mantel._] Yes, I've been speculating
since the very day I said I wouldn't. I won a lot at first, and of
course I thought I'd get all back; and then, of course, what I did get
back was my old cursed luck!

GEORGIANA. Oh, Steve! And I believed in you so thoroughly, I never had a

STEVEN. I know it! I know it! I'm rotten all through, Georgy. [_Bursting
into tears._] I'm not worth being forgiven - [_He falls on his knees, in
a paroxysm of sobs and tears._] I'm _rotten_! Oh - I'm rotten -

[_He sobs uncontrollably._

[GEORGIANA _watches him a little while in silence. Then she goes to him
and puts her hand on his shoulder._


STEVEN. [_Sobbing._] Yes!

GEORGIANA. I forgive you!


GEORGIANA. And I'll trust you again if I have a chance.

STEVEN. [_Looking up._] Georgy, what do you mean?

[_Beginning to control his sobs._

GEORGIANA. I mean, though it's been a pretty big blow, my faith in you
isn't altogether gone yet.

STEVEN. Oh, I can't bear it! I can't bear it! But you don't mean it! No,
you can't mean it! How could you? Forgive me? Trust me again? No, no!
You couldn't - it's all over! I've thrown away my own money first, then
my wife's and her mother's - that ought to have been enough, - but I had
to go and break my word of honor to you, and lose every penny of yours!
There's no excuse for me, nor reason to forgive.

GEORGIANA. [_After a moment, very quietly, with her eyes filling._]
There's _love_, Steve!

STEVEN. Not for a man like me. I'm not worth it. [_He rises._] Not
deserving it! There's only one thing for such as me, and that is to end
it all with a bullet.

GEORGIANA. Now you're talking wildly!

STEVEN. [_In a lowered voice._] No, Georgy, I mean it! It's better for
all of you to have me out of the way; I tried to do it to-day - only, _I
was afraid_!

GEORGIANA. That would be worse than anything you have done yet. That I
would never forgive - anything but that!

[_She goes to him._

STEVEN. But the shame of my life now, the degradation, the _rot_ of it!

[_A moment's pause._

GEORGIANA. [_The idea comes to her._] Steve, I told you I'd trust you
again if I had the chance! Here is the first one, and I take it! Promise
me you'll never again even think of taking your life.

STEVEN. What's the good of my promising?

GEORGIANA. If you tell me, I'll believe you.

[_A short pause._

[STEVEN, _not looking at her, puts his hand in the pocket where the
pistol is, then takes his hand away, still not looking at her._

Look me straight in the face, Steve, and say, "I promise."

[_He hesitates only a moment, and then does so._

STEVEN. I promise.

[_He turns a little away from her, takes the pistol from his pocket, and
gives it to her._

GEORGIANA. [_Bursting into tears._] Oh, Steve!

[_She turns away and puts the pistol on the table between the windows._

STEVEN. Forgive me, Georgy, forgive me! This promise I'll keep. Only
forgive me for breaking your heart like this!

COAST. [_Entering Right._] I've been sent up to bring you down to

[_He takes in the situation. A pause._

GEORGIANA. Do you know what Steve has just told me?

STEVEN. [_Bitterly._] Yes, he knows.

COAST. Just what?

GEORGIANA. Steve has gone on speculating, and my money's followed the

COAST. Yes, I knew that.

GEORGIANA. Couldn't you have saved him?

COAST. I offered to once, but you refused.


[_Short pause._

COAST. [_He goes to_ GEORGIANA, _who is on the sofa._] My offer is still
open to the same tune.

STEVEN. No, Georgy, no!

GEORGIANA. For Steve's own sake, won't you do something for him? Get him
some position so that he can take care of Louise. I'll look after

COAST. I'll do all and more, _if you'll_ marry me.

GEORGIANA. You know I can't marry you.

COAST. What does Steve say?

STEVEN. What Georgy says, I say.

COAST. How are you going to get out of this without me?

STEVEN. I don't know.

COAST. And there's something else. [_Steps towards_ STEVEN.] Perhaps you
don't know that unless some one does get you out of this, it won't be
only a money smash-up for Georgiana, but disgrace too!

GEORGIANA. That can't be true! I shall say my brother had control of my
money to do what he liked with it.

COAST. But any lawyer would take up the case of criminal mismanagement
for my aunt and cousin's affairs.

GEORGIANA. But _they_ wouldn't allow it.

COAST. Well, what do you think?

STEVEN. Louise - never!

COAST. Leave it to me!

STEVEN. Ah! your true colors! You heard him, Georgy?

COAST. Well, let that pass. But you know that you've overdrawn at your
bank, that you've overdrawn at your brokers, and that you can no more
get out of the muddle you've got yourself into without one of the
biggest public scandals there's been in the street for years!

GEORGIANA. But _you_ can spare us that?

STEVEN. [_Very low._] Good God!

[_He moves away._

COAST. [_To_ GEORGIANA.] That's what I can.

GEORGIANA. And you love me?

COAST. I certainly do!

GEORGIANA. Then you _will_ spare us!

COAST. If you'll marry me.

STEVEN. No! [_Comes down to her._] Georgy, you mustn't! [COAST _walks
away._] Don't you see what a selfish brute Sam is? Of course it was
_my_ fault that I gambled, but he tempted me, he led me into it when he
_knew_ I _couldn't resist_. The very day and hour I gave you my promise,
he gave me a tip and guaranteed I shouldn't lose!


[_She turns to the bench before her dressing table and sinks upon it._

COAST. [_Speaks to her across the table._] It's true! And I led him to
speculate more, I tricked him first with winning and then let him go! I
knew he'd soon do for himself alone, and he did! Yes - I ruined him
purposely and you through him, so as to get you to be my wife. I did it
purposely and I'd do it again! Of course I meant all along to make it up
in the end when I'd got you.

GEORGIANA. And did you really think you _could_ get me that way?

COAST. Why, you've got to marry me. You needn't be afraid of what I
won't do for you. I love you, you know that. Everything - I've told you
that before. You shall have _everything_ on God's earth you want, and
Louise and her mother shall live in style as they always have, and Steve
have his own money back, with a brother-in-law to help him take care of
it! And what's the other side of the picture? Nothing for you or Louise
or anybody - and disgrace for Steve into the bargain. Why, you've _got_
to _marry_ me! [GEORGIANA _rises,_ COAST _follows her._] Don't you see?
Anyway [_Smiling._] it was only a trick to make you, because, Georgy, I
love you so! [_A pause; she stands looking at him._] Well?

GEORGIANA. I'm trying to realize - to understand it all.

[MOLES _enters Left._

MOLES. Please, miss, Mrs. Carley says your soup is all cold and they're
on with the fish.

GEORGIANA. Tell Mrs. Carley not to wait for Mr. Carley and me, we're not
coming down; but Mr. Coast will join them in a moment.

[COAST _looks up surprised._

MOLES. Yes, miss.

[_He goes out. A moment's pause._

COAST. What do you mean by that?

[_Another pause._

GEORGIANA. [_Slowly._] Not to save myself, not even to save my brother,
and from even worse than we have to face, would I marry you.

COAST. Don't say that, Georgy!

GEORGY. Why, every word you've said, and everything you've done to make
me love you, makes me instead - yes - and for what you've done with Steve
[_Looks at_ STEVE.], _I do hate_ you.

[_Goes to the sofa,_ COAST _follows._

COAST. I only said it because I love you, Georgiana.

GEORGIANA. Oh, Sam Coast, you don't know what love is! Love doesn't make
beasts of men, it makes men of beasts. It doesn't take all for
itself - it sacrifices all for another. Love isn't an enemy that lays
traps and makes ambushes, - love is a friend whose heart is a divine
magnet! Real love makes an angel of a woman and a hero of a man, but
love such as you have - oh, the happiness in this world that's been lost
through it!

COAST. You don't know me!

GEORGIANA. I didn't, but I do! You've dragged down my brother,
sacrificed him and my belief in him, almost, for your own selfish end,
tried to trap me into marrying you when you know I didn't love you.

COAST. But you would -

GEORGIANA. Once perhaps, though I can't imagine it! But not now! No! I'd
starve and suffer and die now before I could ever love you.

[_A pause;_ COAST _goes to the table and stands half shamefaced a
moment, then he pulls himself up and turns._

COAST. Well, face the music for a while, and then see!

GEORGIANA. They're waiting for you at dinner; please join them and tell
them what you like.

COAST. I'll tell them nothing. I'll let you and Steve think things over
a little.

STEVEN. [_Rises, and goes to meet_ COAST.] You will have something to
settle with me outside of money matters!

COAST. [_With a jeer._] Please yourself.

[_He goes out._

GEORGIANA. [_To_ STEVEN.] I believe I can influence Louise to do nothing
for the sake of the children, and she loves you in her way.

STEVEN. But the bank?

[_He sits on sofa beside her._

GEORGIANA. Oh, we can take care of the bank; after all, we've friends,
we've jewels, we've this house.

STEVEN. That's true, and the brokers?

GEORGIANA. Who are they?

STEVEN. Caldwell and Hovery.

GEORGIANA. Mr. Caldwell will be at the ball to-night?

STEVEN. Probably.

GEORGIANA. I'll see him. We've always been good friends, - and so were
his father and your father. He won't let his firm make a scandal if he
can help it, especially as they can gain nothing and we should lose so
much! Steve, we'll get out of this yet, with your name all right!

BELLA. [_Entering Right._] May I come in?

GEORGIANA. Yes, Bella.

BELLA. Oh, good evening, Mr. Carley, it's a pleasant evening!

STEVEN. Good evening, Miss Shindle.

BELLA. What I come to ask is if I shall do you now, and Mrs. Wishings
around the corner afterwards?

GEORGIANA. I think I'd rather you went to Mrs. Wishings first if you
don't mind.

BELLA. Oh, it's all the same to me! Mrs. Wishings ain't really in the
smart set and they say her husband ain't so rich, and she's horrid to
her servants - don't give them cake. I don't care if I lost her head to
do! I'm like that, as you know, particular when I'm particular,
but - well - just supercilious and negligée when it don't count! Good
gracious! [_Laughing._] Oh, here's a letter for you I brought up for
Lizzie. It's from the Phillypeenys and has a special delivery on.
[GEORGIANA _takes letter and opens it and reads it._] That's how it come
at this hour. Some folks do have luck, as the saying is! I've got to
wait till to-morrow morning for mine if I get one, and if there's a
Phillypeeny post and I don't get one, well, I pity the ladies' hair I
dress to-morrow, that's all! [_To_ STEVEN.] Mr. Carley, you've got
lovely soft hair, haven't you? I know you have a lovely disposition, I
can tell it from your hair. Yes, indeed, they always go together, it's a
certain sign! Now Mrs. Wishings' hair is just like a horse's tail! what
there is of it. I often feel like asking her which she'd rather I done
it, on or off! [_Laughs heartily._] I must have my little joke, but
nobody minds me - good-by.

STEVEN. Good-by.

[BELLA _goes out Left._

GEORGIANA. [_Looking up, bursting with happiness and reading as she
speaks._] Oh, Steve! Steve! Such _good_ news! I can hardly wait to tell
you, but just let me finish it.

STEVEN. Finish anything that means good news, Georgy, and then for
heaven's sake tell me what it is.

GEORGIANA. [_Closing the letter._] It's finished!

[_She looks up radiant and forgetful of him for a moment._


[_Rises and goes to_ GEORGIANA.

GEORGIANA. [_Softly._] _Dick_ loves me!

STEVEN. Dick Coleman?

GEORGIANA. He loves me, he's always loved me!

STEVEN. But why - ? I don't understand -

GEORGIANA. No, I didn't know it. I thought - there were reasons why I
thought he didn't love me. But I understand now. Listen; I'll read you a
part of his letter - _a part of it!_ Oh, this makes up for everything,
Steve. [_She reads._] "My dear - [_She stops and improvises the next
three words._] my dear Georgy: [_She looks up slyly to see if Steven
noticed the change; he didn't._] Each steamer brings me letters from
home, but never a word of your engagement to Coast, never a word of your
marriage. Is that broken off - " How do you suppose he got the impression
I was going to marry Sam?

STEVEN. Why everybody has seen, who cared to look, that Sam was dead in
love with you.

GEORGIANA. Yes, but - well - never mind, listen - "Well, however it is,
we're starting off to-morrow out of reach of letters and everything
else, except an ugly band of natives that we came here to do for. The
chances are pretty big against many of us getting back, and anyway I'm
going to take this chance to tell you that I love you better than
anything and everything and everybody in the world. And in case I never
come back, somehow or other, I don't know why, I want you to know it. I
was a little late in finding it out, - all of a sudden I knew you were
the only woman for me, and that the only thing I seemed to want in the
world was you for _a wife_. And there was Coast ahead of me! I don't
know if it would have made any difference if you loved Coast and not me,
perhaps you never would have cared for me, but I'd have done my best,
for, Georgy - I love you" - [_She reads ahead to herself, murmuring so he
cannot understand._] "I don't know why I must tell you all this, but I
must" - [_She reads ahead again in silence, skipping the passages which
are too loving and too precious to read aloud._] I think that's
all - [_She looks up and smiles, and adds softly._] that I care to read
aloud! Oh, Steve!

[_She puts her arms around his neck and hugs him._

STEVEN. I'm so glad, old girl, so glad!

[_Tightening his arm about her._

GEORGIANA. Steve, I'm so happy! I don't want to seem selfish, and really
I'm not forgetting you, but I can't help it. I'm _so_ happy.

[STEVEN _kisses her. A short pause._

GEORGIANA. [_Softly, thoughtfully._] Can one cable to the Philippines?


[_Smiling and again giving her a little squeeze._

GEORGIANA. [_Going to the sofa._] So far as I'm concerned, my money now
doesn't count a rap. Dick has plenty and doesn't want mine. So now it's
only Louise and mother you must think of, and you can take care of them
well, you know you can, if they'll only accept the different conditions.
And Dick and I'll help -

STEVEN. [_Interrupting._] I hate to say it, Georgiana, but suppose -

[_Very serious._


STEVEN. Well, you know why Dick wrote that letter, - because he was going
into dangerous fighting.

GEORGIANA. Oh, he will come back, he _must_ come back! So few of our men
have been lost in the Philippines, Dick can't be one of the few. After
all, life nowadays isn't so tragic as that.

STEVEN. Yes, of course Dick'll come back, Georgy [_Short pause._], but
won't he despise me?

GEORGIANA. No, you're _my_ brother. And oh, Steven, forgive me, but I'm
so _happy_. [_Hugging the pillows on the sofa and burying her face in
them._] Don't let me be silly - don't let me forget I'm an old maid, - and
there's no fool like an old fool! I mustn't forget there's probably an
orange or two among the blossoms for my hair!

[MRS. CARLEY _and_ LOUISE _come into the room from the Right without
speaking. They look from_ GEORGIANA _to_ STEVEN. _They are under the
strain of violent emotion almost too much for words. Their appearance is
tragic._] _There is a pause._

STEVEN. Sam has told you?

LOUISE. It isn't _true_ what he says?

MRS. CARLEY. [_Bursting out, as the strain breaks._] That everything's
gone? _Everything!_

[MRS. CARLEY _comes to_ STEVEN.

STEVEN. Yes, it's _true_! -

[_He moves up._

MRS. CARLEY. _We haven't a cent?_ - not a _penny_! for car fare! for
theatre tickets! nothing for our wash bills, or to go away with in the

LOUISE. Georgiana's money gone too - now, Steve?

MRS. CARLEY. As well as _Louise's_ and _mine_?

GEORGIANA. Yes, mine's gone too now, but I'm going to take it just as
sensibly as Louise did before me.

MRS. CARLEY. She had yours to fall back on.

GEORGIANA. And I'm going to take myself off your hands, and Steve is
perfectly capable of getting some dignified position and taking care of
you and Louise.

MRS. CARLEY. Yes, I can imagine what that means! A flat with rooms like
a string of buttons, mantelpiece beds and divans! and all your friends
trying to get into the bathroom when they are looking for the hall door
to get out!

[COAST _comes in from the Right. They all look at_ SAM.

GEORGIANA. Do you think Sam has a place here in what we may say now?

LOUISE. Why not? He's my cousin.

MRS. CARLEY. Yes. And the only one of us now anyway who has a cent.

LOUISE. I don't think we can expect much help from Sam as to money.

COAST. That shows you don't know me.

LOUISE. [_Going to_ COAST.] You'll help us?

COAST. I've offered to make up every cent Steve's lost; ask Georgiana.

GEORGIANA. Yes, Sam offered to make a "trade" with me -


[_Looks at_ GEORGIANA.

GEORGIANA. To make up Steve's losses if I'd marry him.

MRS. CARLEY. [_Quietly to_ COAST.] Sam! It's too good to be true.

COAST. So Georgiana thinks.

LOUISE. [_Angrily._] You won't do it?

GEORGIANA. No, I don't love your cousin.

MRS. CARLEY. Don't love him! What do you owe us? Louise loved Steve and
what good did it do her? You've got the chance to make up for your

STEVEN. That's not Georgiana's _duty_, - to make up for me.

MRS. CARLEY. You can't do it yourself, and you don't want your wife to
starve, do you.

GEORGIANA. Louise _won't_ starve.

LOUISE. [_To_ GEORGIANA.] You could save us and you won't!

GEORGIANA. I don't love Sam.

MRS. CARLEY. Don't "love"? Did Molly Packer from Toledo love the Duke of
Birmingham? and isn't she happy now?

GEORGIANA. I don't know, I have my doubts.

MRS. CARLEY. Doubts! Oh, _doubts_!

GEORGIANA. That's not the point, mother. I'm not going to marry Sam.

MRS. CARLEY. Oh, very well, then, have your way.

GEORGIANA. I will, mother.

MRS. CARLEY. [_Going to the sofa._] Don't consider my way at all.

GEORGIANA. I won't, mother, since you ask me not to.

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