Clyde Fitch.

Her Own Way A Play in Four Acts online

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MRS. CARLEY. But I'll tell you this, Georgiana, you're just as bad as
Steve! We must shake off both of you. Louise must get a divorce and
marry again. Look what other widows have done before her.

[_Louise goes to her mother and takes her hand._

GEORGIANA. Mother! Louise!

LOUISE. Well, why not?

MRS. CARLEY. Certainly!

GEORGIANA. [_Goes to them._] _No!_ Listen! You must stand by Steve, both
of you. You ought to do it out of affection, for, after all, whatever
you've got of friends and position and the things you value he gave you!
But never mind that! You ought to stand by him out of loyalty, - but
never mind that! You've _got_ to stand by him because if you ruin him
you'll ruin yourselves. You and mother could never hold up your heads
again in our world - in the world you love - if you left Steve. After all,
though our world may be careless sometimes of what it does itself, it is
very particular about what those people do who are _its guests_! Of
course, Louise, it does come hardest on you, for yourself and for the
children - but still you've got to stand by Steve.


[_Going to_ SAM _for help._

LOUISE. Oh, I suppose I'll forgive him, I always do, but I don't know
about forgiving you.


LOUISE. If you don't marry Sam! You can make everything all right, and
Sam loves you - you can make mother happy and me happy and Steve

STEVEN. [_Interrupting._] No, leave me out!

[_He goes up behind the sofa._

LOUISE. Our life would go on just the same, - Steve will make no more
mistakes. I think you're heartless to refuse!

GEORGIANA. But, Louise, you ask me to give up entirely my own happiness.

LOUISE. Not at all! There's no one else in love with you but Sam, and
this isn't your first year out, you know.

MRS. CARLEY. And anyway it would be _five_ happy against _one_ unhappy,
there's no arguing about that.

COAST. [_To_ LOUISE.] You and your mother both think she ought to accept
me, don't you?

LOUISE. Certainly.

COAST. [_To_ GEORGIANA.] I told you.

GEORGIANA. Yes, Sam, you win! - but Louise! I love some one else.

LOUISE. Dick Coleman?

GEORGIANA. Yes, and I'm going to marry him.

COAST. [_Turning quickly._] Has he asked you?

GEORGIANA. Yes! To-day!

[_Showing her letter._ MRS. CARLEY _sits on the sofa._

COAST. [_Angry, to_ LOUISE.] Then you bring suit against Steve and I'll
back you up, - I'll bet you I'll get your case!

LOUISE. But Steve hasn't any money.

COAST. No, but you can show him up! You can blackguard his name for him!
You can disgrace him in the papers!

LOUISE. But I don't want to do that! It would only make things worse.

GEORGIANA. Good, Louise!

COAST. I'll bet the bank and Steve's brokers won't be so soft-hearted.

GEORGIANA. There's this house for the bank.

MRS. CARLEY. [_Crying._] _This house!_ I shall die!

[GEORGIANA _goes to her._

GEORGIANA. Oh, no, you won't; you'll live very happily in a nice little
flat, with two servants and a polite elevator boy in buttons.

MRS. CARLEY. [_Pitifully._] Louise!

GEORGIANA. And Mr. Caldwell I am going to see at the ball to-night. I
believe he will help us if he can.

LOUISE. You're going to the ball? In spite of everything?

GEORGIANA. Yes, we must. Let's have as little talk about the whole
thing as possible. Steve's had bad luck! The people mustn't think
there's anything we're ashamed of. There isn't anything.

COAST. Oh, isn't there?


[LOUISE _gets the smelling salts from the table for_ MRS. CARLEY.

MRS. CARLEY. It's true; so long as we've lost everything else, I don't
see why she should lose the ball too!

[_Using the smelling salts._

LOUISE. And I suppose we really ought to be seen there, or lots of
people will _never_ believe we were asked.

COAST. Well, I guess this is where I get out. I'll strike one of those
musical comedies! I think ragtime will be good enough for me to-night,
instead of a neck and arm circus. You won't want me for escort after all

LOUISE. You can please yourself, Sam.

COAST. Not exactly; I guess this is the day I try sour grapes. [_Goes to
door Left, - he turns._] When's Coleman coming back, Georgiana?

GEORGIANA. I don't know.

COAST. Oh! [_Goes to_ STEVEN _at mantel._] Steve - listen - how long are
they holding that rotten stock of yours for you?

STEVEN. [_Laughs._] Ha! till to-morrow noon.

COAST. Well, cheer up, I'll send her up ten points for you by eleven.
[_Slaps him on the back._] See you all later, maybe, if my show's dull.

[_And with a side glance at_ GEORGIANA _he goes out Left._

MRS. CARLEY. [_Rises._] I only wish to heaven Sam Coast wanted to marry

LOUISE. Mother! Come, let's finish dressing.

MRS. CARLEY. I don't know whether to go to the ball or stay home and
have a good cry.

GEORGIANA. Do whichever gives you the most pleasure, mother.

[LIZZIE _enters Right and stands behind the dressing table._

MRS. CARLEY. What? [_Looking at herself in the glass._] It's all very
well for them to give us women a new front, I wish they'd give us new
backs too.

[_She goes out Right._

LIZZIE. You must start dressing, miss - Miss Shindle will be back.

GEORGIANA. [_Absent-mindedly._] Yes, yes, Lizzie.

[LIZZIE _goes out._]

Louise, I'm so glad you will stand by Steve; and try and be glad a
little for me.

[_Placing her arm about_ LOUISE.

LOUISE. Yes, I don't blame you, Georgy, so long as Dick's proposed. I'd
do just as you've done, and I will be glad for you by to-morrow, - I am
_glad now_.

[_Kisses her impulsively._

GEORGIANA. Thank you, Louise, dear.

[_She goes out Right._

STEVEN. Louise!

LOUISE. [_Comes to_ STEVE.] Steve. [LOUISE _touches_ STEVE _on the
arm._] I don't want to be horrid, but do you think you will be able to
get anything decent to do?

STEVEN. I'm sure I will.

LOUISE. But will we have enough money to hold our own?

STEVEN. I'll do my best. Louise, I appreciate your not making more of a

[_With his arm around her._

LOUISE. Oh, Steve, I know it's just as hard for you - and I do love you
and I want to be nice about it, but - [_She cries._ STEVEN _kisses her
again, in his arms._] I mustn't give way like this. I'll be a sight at
the ball. Don't let me cry, dear.

STEVEN. All right. Come on upstairs now, and make yourself beautiful.

[_They go toward the door Right._

BELLA. [_Reëntering Left._] Good evening again, is Miss Georgiana ready
for me?

LOUISE. She must be, - is my hair all right?

BELLA. Oh, yes, that's one thing about my hair dressing, though I do say
it as shouldn't, it _has_ a lasting quality.

[LOUISE _goes out Right._

GEORGIANA. [_Calls from inside._] Is that you, Bella?

BELLA. Yes, ma'am.

GEORGIANA. I'll be there in a minute - be quick, Lizzie.

BELLA. [_Lower voice._] Mr. Carley, have you seen the evening papers?


BELLA. I just bought one and it's got an article about the 91st

STEVEN. What about it?

[_Looks to see if door is closed._

BELLA. [_Same voice._] They say it may 'a' been wiped out of existence:
it's three weeks now since news of it was due, and the paper's afraid
they've met with an ambyscade or something like that.

STEVEN. Oh, when the newspapers are hard up for news they get up
something about the Philippines! It's the modern sea-serpent. When
there's absolutely nothing else to print - no girl suicide in Brooklyn,
or cyclone in Kansas, or joke on Chicago, then they give the Philippines
a paragraph or an insurrection. Don't you worry, Miss Shindle.

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

BELLA. But it says the island they went against was the heathenest of
the lot, and that there's no good reason why if they'd hadn't no fight
with the natives, we shouldn't 'a' had news from them.

STEVEN. The whole question of news in a case like this is too uncertain
to make so much alarm about. The men's idea is not to send picture
postal cards of daily movements home to America, but to lick the natives
into shape!

BELLA. I'm sure you do comfort me. Don't know as Miss Georgiana told
you, but my young man's out there, with Mr. - Lieutenant Coleman.

STEVEN. Well, don't worry. You just make up your mind the papers are
short of news to-night.

BELLA. Goodness, they won't be to-morrow with all they're going to print
about this ball! Say, I've a friend whose sister's a literary lady and
writes for the Sunday papers in Buffalo. She's got an article in my
line, called the "Heads of the Smart Set which was Set at the Grand
Duke." Ain't that a cute name for an article? And it don't mean their
heads either; it means their coffyures, as she says - she speaks French.
She was born and raised in Niagara Falls, near to Canada, where the
language comes natural, - over the water, as it were!

STEVEN. [_Going to her._] I wouldn't mention this newspaper report to
Miss Carley - it would only needlessly alarm her, perhaps, and spoil her

BELLA. Oh, I wouldn't for worlds.

[_She moves to the dressing table as_ GEORGIANA _comes in._

GEORGIANA. Here I am'. Oh, my dear Steve! You'll be late. You're not
dressed yet.

STEVEN. All right. I'm going now - I was entertaining Miss Shindle till
you were ready.

[_With, a bow to_ MISS SHINDLE, STEVEN _goes out Right._

BELLA. [_Taking her bottles, etc., from a little bag which she
carries._] He _is_ a _perfect_ gentleman!

GEORGIANA. [_Sitting before the dressing table._] Now come along, Bella!
I only want you to brush my hair; I've had a trying evening here, and
I've a splitting headache. See if you can take it away and make me look
as if I'd never had one.

BELLA. [_Tying apron about_ GEORGIANA'S _neck._] I'll do my best; but I
can tell you most of the ladies I know'd be willing to have a headache
every blessed minute of their lives if they could look as you do now!

GEORGIANA. Oh, what blarney, Bella! I don't know, somehow I want to be
beautiful to-night.

BELLA. For the Dook?

[_Beginning to brush her hair._


BELLA. For him?

[_Pointing at_ COLEMAN'S _photograph with her hair-brush._

GEORGIANA. Yes. [_Drawing the picture toward her._] It was a dear letter
I had from him to-night, Bella! I hope you'll have as nice a one from
Mr. Gootch to-morrow morning.

BELLA. Well, if I don't -

[_Shutting her teeth, she unconsciously pulls_ GEORGIANA'S _hair._


BELLA. Oh, I beg your pardon!

GEORGIANA. Don't take it out on me, wait till Mr. Gootch gets back!

BELLA. [_Combing._] I don't know as you're the jealous kind. Judging
from your hair you ain't. It usually goes with blonde or red, or else
crimpy, and what I dislike about red hair is the freckles - you can
almost count on 'em! You've got sort of trusting hair. But besides, Mr.
Coleman wasn't a floor walker in a shop with over a hundred lady
clerks - I think that's apt to make a gentleman flightier; and he being
_bald_, has me to a disadvantage, so to speak. I can't judge by my
customary signs.

GEORGIANA. [_Looking at_ COLEMAN'S _photograph._] Bella, I should say
Lieutenant Coleman has splendid, straight, honest hair, shouldn't you?

BELLA. I can't say as I've ever really had any experience of his hair,

GEORGIANA. But do you think him an awfully handsome man, Bella, or am I

BELLA. No, indeed, I never seen a handsomer gentleman, not even in the
pictures of gentlemen's clothes in tailor store windows. [_Puts comb
down, and takes brush and brushes again._] But what continues to make me
nervous about Mr. Gootch is that he's right there among all those black
creatures, whose manners is very free, I'm told, and whose style of
dressing is peculiar, the least you say! Mr. Gootch always did favor
dark-complexioned people, and if that letter don't come to-morrow -

[_Getting excited, she again pulls_ GEORGIANA'S _hair._

GEORGIANA. Ouch! [_Laughing, holds up her hand, and catches her hair to
ward off another pull._] Be careful!

BELLA. Excuse me! in my art, there's no use talking, you oughtn't let
your mind wander from the subject in hand - does your head feel better?

GEORGIANA. I don't know, Bella, if it does or not! Your treatment is
very heroic.

BELLA. [_Spraying her hair._] You don't feel worried about something
happening to them way out there, do you, Miss Georgiana?

GEORGIANA. I daren't think of it. Oh, Bella, I've had lots of trouble
to-day, and I've a serious time ahead of me - but all the same I am such
a happy woman. [_Turning to look at_ BELLA, _she disarranges her hair,
much to_ BELLA'S _disapproval._] Do you love Mr. Gootch tremendously,

BELLA. Why, love isn't the word! my feeling for Mr. Gootch is a positive
worship. When I get to thinking of him in the underground I always go
by my station, sometimes two.

GEORGIANA. Be grateful for your love, Bella; it's a wonderful thing.

BELLA. [_Finishing the dressing of the hair._] You know I've just done
Mrs. Wishings, she puts too much on!

GEORGIANA. Does she rouge?

BELLA. No, hair. I don't mind a switch or two for foundation, and a
couple of puffs for ornament, with a tight curl or two for
style, - especially if you've got one of those new undilated fronts, but
I think that's all you can expect to have any hair dresser make look as
if it growed there. There! How's that?

[_Puts hairpin in_ GEORGIANA'S _hair._

GEORGIANA. [_Holding up_ DICK'S _photograph._] How's that, Dick - is it
all right?

BELLA. [_Delighted._] Ain't that a cute idea?

GEORGIANA. We both trust you, Bella, to make me all right.

BELLA. What ornaments?

[_Taking off the apron, she walks around to Right of the table._

GEORGIANA. Would you wear any?

BELLA. Oh, yes, for such an occasion! Of course, for maidens only
feathers is correct; for wives and widows, tiaras and feathers.

[_Putting away her things._ MRS. CARLEY _enters in a flurry of
excitement, superbly dressed, and too youthfully._

MRS. CARLEY. Here I am; I've hurried so I don't feel half dressed.

GEORGIANA. [_Smiling._] That's almost the way you _look_, mother.

MRS. CARLEY. Well, I always did have shoulders, and I don't intend to
hide them under a bushel; but what do you think of the dress, is it a

GEORGIANA. From your point of view - perfect!

MRS. CARLEY. Yes, but what's the difference about your point of view
about it and mine?

GEORGIANA. Well, I should think about thirty years, darling!

MRS. CARLEY. Oh, Georgiana, you really are unkind. When I don't know how
on earth it's ever going to be paid for now, I think you might be
serious, and let me feel anyway it's a success.

GEORGIANA. Mother dear, it's a triumph. Really, I never saw you look

MRS. CARLEY. Really! and how is my hair?


BELLA. Oh, Miss Georgiana, it isn't too red a bit.

GEORGIANA. It's very fine, Bella, but I think I'd take off a little. You
don't want Mrs. Carley to rival Mrs. Wishings and look as if she'd
cornered the hair market.

BELLA. She's just teasing you.

[GEORGIANA _has risen._

MRS. CARLEY. You are lovely, Georgiana.

GEORGIANA. That's because my thoughts are lovely.

MRS. CARLEY. I'm awfully proud of you, dear, and wish you were my own

GEORGIANA. Thank you, mother.

MRS. CARLEY. The Grand Duke will surely notice you. Aren't you going to
put something in your hair?

BELLA. [_Handing it to_ GEORGIANA.] A rose with glass dewdrops.

[_Newsboy's voice heard in the street - calling,
"Extra - Extra - Terrible" - the rest is indistinct._

GEORGIANA. What's that?

MRS. CARLEY. A newsboy with an extra.

[_Man's voice outside, "Extra - Extra - Terrible" - the rest is still
indistinct._ LOUISE _enters, beautifully dressed._


GEORGIANA. Lovely, Louise!

LOUISE. I've got a splitting headache. [_Man's voice outside,
"Extra - Extra."_] What can the extra be? [_Enter_ STEVEN.] Steve, do you
know what the extra is?

STEVEN. Oh, they're never anything you know.

[_In distance are heard several voices at once at different distances,
all calling, "Extra - Extra - Terrible" - etc._

MRS. CARLEY. Yes, they're always so disappointing, generally a railway
accident out west! or a bomb thrown in Europe. Are you ready, Georgiana?

[_The "Extras" are louder._

STEVEN. Yes, if we're going we ought to go.

[_"Extra - Extra," called underneath the window._

GEORGIANA. Listen, what did he say?

[_Voice shouts outside, "Terrible fight in the Philippines; an entire
regiment wiped out!"_

BELLA. [_Frightened._] I heard "Philippines."

[_Goes to the window._

GEORGIANA. And a terrible fight! Some one must get the paper!

STEVEN. We haven't time now, Georgy.

MRS. CARLEY. Yes, we must be there before the Grand Duke arrives.

[_Outside, "Extra - Extra!"_

GEORGIANA. I must see that paper, Steve.

MRS. CARLEY. Georgiana, I think you are too thoughtless.

[_Outside, "Entire regiment wiped out!"_

GEORGIANA. Steve, do you hear that! Will you get the paper or shall I
call to the man?

STEVEN. I'll get it. [_Goes to a window and opens it, pulling aside the
curtain. He calls down to the boy in the street._] Here! Hi! Extra!

[_Voice outside, "Here you are, boss!"_

STEVEN. Ring the bell.

[_He comes back into the room. One "Extra" is heard louder than before,
and then the cries gradually die away._

MRS. CARLEY. The carriage has already been here nearly an hour.

GEORGIANA. It if should be Dick's fight, if it should be Dick's

LOUISE. Make up your mind, mother, to be a little late. We can't go till
we see the paper.

GEORGIANA. [_At the door Right._] Lizzie! Where is she? Didn't he go to
the door with the paper, Steve?

BELLA. I'll see, miss.

[_She goes out Right._

STEVEN. Yes. I saw him. But, Georgy, it won't be Dick's regiment.

MRS. CARLEY. [_By the sofa._] Louise, I'll tell you what we'll do, let's
go down and be getting on our wraps.

LOUISE. No, mother, wait.

GEORGIANA. No, Louise, go down, please, with mother. I'd rather.

MRS. CARLEY. [_Going out Left._] Yes, come along.

[LOUISE _looks at_ GEORGIANA, _who nods her head "Yes" to go._

LOUISE. I'll come back.

[_She follows_ MRS. CARLEY _out._ LIZZIE _enters Right with the paper._
GEORGIANA _takes the paper from_ LIZZIE, _who immediately goes out

STEVEN. Shall I look?

GEORGIANA. [_Standing by the sofa._] No, I will. Here it is - "Battle
with Ladrones. The 91st Regiment of New York, which went out under
Captain H.S. Miller to subdue the bandits in the Island of Orla, met an
ambuscade of the Ladrones and were annihilated almost to a man." [_She
looks up dazed, not able at once to realize what it means. Rereads,
skipping some lines._] "Captain H.S. Miller who went out under - to
subdue the bandits in the - met an ambuscade of the Ladrones and was
annihilated almost to a man." Steve! his regiment, - do you think it's
true? Do you think it can be true?

STEVEN. [_Beside her._] No, let me read it.

GEORGIANA. [_She sinks down on the end of the sofa._] No, I will! [_She
reads on._] "News was brought by private - private - [_Her eyes hurrying
on._] the sole survivors. Privates - " [_Her eyes run along the printed
lines again._] Steve, I can't see his name. Isn't it there? Can't _you_
see it?

STEVEN. [_Looking._] No.

GEORGIANA. [_Almost whispers._] It means - ?

STEVEN. [_Striving to hide his own emotion and to encourage her._] The
news is too meagre to be true.

MRS. CARLEY. [_In hall Left._] Georgiana! We must go.

GEORGIANA. [_Starts. To_ STEVEN.] _Don't_ let mother come in, please.

LOUISE. [_Just outside the door._] Georgiana, we must go.

GEORGIANA. [_To_ STEVEN.] Say I'm coming.

STEVEN. I can't leave you alone. [_Going to the door._] Georgy's coming.

LOUISE. [_Outside._] Good! Hurry!

STEVEN. [_Coming back to her._] But I can't leave you.

GEORGIANA. You must. And anyway I want you to. I want to be alone.

[STEVEN _hesitates. He comes and takes her hand and is about to kiss
her, but something keeps him back; he presses her hand and she gives a
grateful look. She crosses to the dressing table and sits before it,
dazed. Slowly she takes the flowers from her hair, the pearls from her
neck. The front door slams, she lifts her head, and leaning her arm
toward_ DICK'S _picture, draws it toward her, gazing at it. Then,
crying, "Dick, Dick," she bursts into tears and drops her head upon her
arms outstretched on the table as_



_Seven weeks later. The drawing-room as in Act II._ GEORGIANA, _in a
clinging black lace dress, is at the piano, playing "Traumerei." The
sunshine pours in through the windows._ MOLES _comes in apologetically
from the Left._

MOLES. Mr. Coast wants to know if you will see him, miss.

GEORGIANA. [_Who continues playing._] Very well, Moles.

MOLES. Shall I show him up?

[GEORGIANA _nods her head._ MOLES _goes out._ GEORGIANA _continues
playing. In a few seconds_ MOLES _reënters with_ COAST.

COAST. Good morning, Georgiana.

[GEORGIANA, _half smiling, bows very impersonally, and continues playing
till she finishes the music._ COAST _leans against the piano, facing
her, and watches her and waits._

GEORGIANA. [_When she has finished._] How long is it since you and I
have been friends?

COAST. It's five weeks and a couple of days - but it wasn't my fault.

GEORGIANA. Wasn't it? Well? What is it? Why do you want to see me?

COAST. Same reason as ever!

GEORGIANA. No, - you wouldn't ask me that now!

COAST. Yes, I would!

GEORGIANA. No, Sam! Love isn't a game with all women, if you lose with
one hand, to try another. Do you mean you think because Dick is dead,
it would be any more possible for me to care for you? I don't respect
you, Sam, and I don't like you, - and that's putting it very
politely, - for many reasons; but one's enough - _Steve_!

[COAST _looks away._

COAST. [_After a second's pause._] I've let you go on because I know I
deserve all I get; and I've caught on to the fact that you won't ever
care about me the way I want. Well, it's funny, it don't seem to make
much difference in my feelings for you all the same! [_Half laughs._] I
ain't exactly ashamed of what I've done, but I'm sort of _sorry_ - for

GEORGIANA. [_Rising._] I don't want your sympathy, Sam.

[_She comes away from the piano and he follows her._

COAST. Well, you've got to get it, anyway! That you can't help, and if
you can help loving me, you can't help my loving you! Anyway, I don't
want you to have to get out o' this house.

GEORGIANA. That is all settled now; we can't afford to live here, of

COAST. Yes, you can.

GEORGIANA. No, no - Steve's salary -

COAST. Steve's leaving that job; he don't need that money any longer.

[_He looks at her, she looks in his face - a short pause; then - _

GEORGIANA. You don't mean you've given Steve -

COAST. Don't worry, I'm giving away nothing. Steve's got a new job.


COAST. I'm going home - leastways so far's Denver - and Steve's going to
look after my interests here.


COAST. [_Interrupting her._] Oh, don't worry - he can't act without my
advice - and that's just the kind of a man I want! I don't want none of
these here fellers who's got judgment o' their own! Steve's knows he's a
fool in business, and he'll obey me implicitly.

GEORGIANA. [_Sitting by the table Left._] And Steve is willing to accept
from _you_ -

COAST. [_Interrupting._] Oh, I guess he considers I _owe_ him that much

GEORGIANA. You couldn't repay what you owe Steve.

COAST. That's how _you_ look at it! Then there's Coleman's money.

GEORGIANA. Don't speak about that, please.

COAST. Why not? he's left it to you, everybody knows it, and it must be
a good deal.

GEORGIANA. I can't and won't discuss that with you.

COAST. [_Goes to_ GEORGIANA.] I wish you didn't feel so hard against me,

GEORGIANA. To tell you the truth, Sam, I don't think I feel anything
about you.

COAST. Oh, Lord, that's worse! I guess I won't stop at Denver, - I'll go
away out to the mine for a while and join father. - Good-by.



COAST. I swore off a lot of things when I thought I was going to get
you, Georgiana!

GEORGIANA. [_Without any feeling._] I'm glad!

COAST. But I don't want to put on any bluff. I've sworn 'em all on

[_Going Left._

GEORGIANA. [_Same voice, without feeling._] I'm sorry.

COAST. [_Turning quickly and with an absurd ray of hope._] Are you

GEORGIANA. [_Looking at him a second._] No, Sam, I suppose, if I tell
the truth, I don't really care. You see, somehow or other, I don't care

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Online LibraryClyde FitchHer Own Way A Play in Four Acts → online text (page 6 of 7)