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Ethel Watts Mumford Grant.

Sick abed : a farcical comedy in three acts online

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WIDNER. (Coming down :o front of bed WID-
NER looking about, fussing wi:h flowers) Why
these flowers in a sick room? (Crosses to side of
bed R.)

FLEXNER. (At c.) He isn't really sick.

WIDNER. But she doesn't know it.



SICK ABED 73

CHALMERS. (Who has been standing by door
listening) I'm not so sure about that ! (Comes to
front of table)

(WIDNER down R. paying no attention, fussing
about service table at the head of the bed.)

FLEXNER. (c.) I understand you've secured a
postponement

CHALMERS. Oh, yes, I've got a postponement.

FLEXNER. (c.) Well, you say it as if you'd got
a post mortem.

CHALMERS, (c. crosses to L. of WIDNER) I'm
not so sure we haven't got something worse.

WIDNER. What what do you mean?

CHALMERS. (R. of FLEXNER) I'm afraid we're
in bad bad bad. (Paces the floor nervously up
and down c.)

WIDNER. Why? What's happened?

FLEXNER. Am I to understand that we are
er in difficulties ?

CHALMERS. Difficulties ha! We're in a hell of
a hole, that's where we are. (Goes up R. c.)

WIDNER. But how? But what?

CHALMERS. (Savagely, coming down to foot of
bed) Mrs. Weems has secured a court order to
have your patient examined, that's what. (CHAL-
MERS up L., WIDNER foot of bed)

WIDNER. Examine the patient! (Sinks on foot
of bed. JAY sings)

FLEXNER. (Sits R. of table) Good Lord !

CHALMERS. (Crossing to L.) Exactly. Oh, you
can wager she's been well advised.

FLEXNER. (Rises) But she must have shown
justifiable suspicion of fraud before she could get
such an order !

CHALMERS. She did !



74 SICK ABED

FLEXNER. She did ?

CHALMERS. (L. of table} She says there's a
plot. She claims she can prove that his charts show
no deviation from the normal.

FLEXNER. (L. c.) His charts! How could she
know about his charts. (Waiving the idea away,
goes up c.)

CHALMERS. Mrs. Weems' lawyers know every-
thing - what he eats, drinks, what he says and
they've been as jolly well right as if they lived right
here in these rooms. Someone in this house has
been giving information to Mrs. Weems. There's
a spy in the house and it must be Miss Durant.
(Crosses to c.)

WIDNER. Miss Durant. (Sits foot of bed)

CHALMERS. Yes, Miss Durant.

FLEXNER. Are you sure it's Miss Durant?

CHALMERS. I'm positive, and furthermore do you
know that it's Dr. Macklyn Mrs. Weems has had
appointed to make the examination.

WIDNER. Dr. Robert Macklyn? (Rises')

CHALMERS. Yes, Macklyn, he's been in love with
Mrs. Weems for years.

FLEXNER. What has that to do with Miss
Durant ?

CHALMERS. Miss Durant was one of Macklyn's
nurses. She's got to go, and she's got to get out of
here before he comes.

WIDNER. (Crossing to R. of FLEXNER for sup-
port) I knew it ! I knew it ! I had a premoni-
tion!

FLEXNER. Then of course, she's got to go.

CHALMERS. (Crossing to R. of WIDNER Com-
ing down R.) Yes. (Crosses to R. c.) This situ-
ation has gotten beyond all of us.

WIDNER. (Goes up c. Crosses to c.) Oh, oh,
I felt it. I felt it.



SICK ABED 75

FLEXNER. When is he coming?

CHALMERS. To-morrow at three.

WIDNER. (As JAY sings, FLEXNER front of
table) To-morrow Flexner, at three!

WIDNER. There's nothing for it, we've got to
make him sick. (Leads CHALMERS R. and FLEXNER
L. of him to L. c.)

CHALMERS. Yes.

FLEXNER. Exactly what I was going to suggest.

WIDNER. What'll we use?

CHALMERS. (Grabs WIDNER'S arm and turns
him toward him) Germs, medicine. Anything.

WIDNER. (To FLEXNER) He'll never stand up
to it.

CHALMERS. You'd better hurry. (Turns WID-
NER to him)

FLEXNER. (WIDNER R. of table) We must get
to work immediately. (Turns WIDNER to him.
CHALMERS goes back of table to L.)

WIDNER. Oh! Do you realize that this makes
us guilty of conspiracy?

(FLEXNER goes up to table up L. and takes drink)

CHALMERS. I do and we've got to conspire till
he's half dead. But first, I'm going to discharge
Miss Durant and get her off the premises before she
finds out this too. I'll be right back. (Exit CHAL-
MERS up L.)

FLEXNER. (Comes to L. of table} Dr. Widner
you have your emergency case?

WIDNER. (Back of table} Yes, indeed. For-
tunately it has just been refilled. (WIDNER comes
to R. of table. FLEXNER to L. Takes out assort-
ment of dangerous looking surgical instruments,
puts them on table. WIDNER holding up blue phial.
smiling} This will give extreme griping pains, and



76 SICK ABED

it produces extreme pallor. (Pours some medicine
into measuring glass)

FLEXNER. (L. of table, taking another bottle) I
would suggest Bella-donna in the eyes. The dila-
tion of the pupils gives a strained expression and
will produce naturally the symptoms of imperfect
visron due to extreme mental debility.

WIDNER. If we had a little more time we could
innoculate him with some pernicious germ.

FLEXNER. That's what we should have done in
the first place; by now he would have had a nice
case of chicken pox or German measles.

WIDNER. German nothing. He ought to have
good American hives. (Another bottle) Ah, here
we have it Cannabis indica

FLEXNER. Indian hemp, hasheesh. Excellent.
Now, if we could only induce him to take this in
combination with that. (He shows WIDNER a bot-
tle, WIDNER smiles delightedly. Pours a few drops
from it into measuring glass)

WIDNER. Yes, yes. Cannabis has a bitter taste.
He will call for water.

FLEXNER. (Goes up to table L., pours water into
f/lass and brings it to WIDNER. WIDNER puts some
pills into glass) Of course, of course. Hand it to
him and then such results.

WIDNER. I'll dissolve a few of these. (He
takes the glass of water and dissolves the pills and
puts it on table) Ah and whatever you do don't
forget your thermometer that always registers one
hundred and four.

FLEXNER. It never leaves me.

WIDNER. Well, that insures his temperature
anyway. (Sits R. of table)

FLEXNER. Sh! Here he comes (Goes up c.
Sound of yodel. Enter JAY pink and shining, he
yodels up to WIDNER)



SICK ABED 77

JAY. (c.) Good Lord, what a bunch of crepe.

WIDNER. This is no time for asinine quips.

JAY. Oh isn't it?

FLEXNER. (Comes to L. of JAY) Let me tell
you something that will spoil some of your pep
Mrs. Weems has secured a court order to have you
examined by a strickly neutral physician !

JAY. No!

FLEXNER. Claiming she has evidence that you're
as sound as a dollar.

JAY. No !

WIDNER. And since we can't refuse to have you
examined we have got to make you something
worth examining.

JAY. Make me something worth examining?
(Crosses to R. of WIDNER) What do you mean?

FLEXNER. Make you a patient, that's what.
(Taps JAY on shoulder}

JAY. Do you mean, make me sick! (Crosses R.
of WIDNER)

WIDNER. Yes.

JAY. Not on your life.

WIDNER. You don't think you can get by like
that, do you ? There's nothing else for it.

JAY. I tell you flat I won't.

WIDNER. Don't you know that we will all be
guilty, it's perjury, it's conspiracy, it's all our repu-
tations! ( WIDNER grows apoplectic and unable to
speak further subsides in chair R. of table')

FLEXNER. Yes and your freedom too

JAY. Say count me out! I didn't bargin for
this. (Crosses to R. c.)

FLEXNER. Don't forget where your guardian
stands in all this, it will be the worse for him.

JAY. (R. of FLEXNER) By jove so it will!

FLEXNER. It's absolutely imperative that you be
genuinely ill



;8 SICK ABED

JAY. Can't I just pretend to faint?

FLEXNER. This is no time for anything but facts.
( Passes JAY to L. of him and WIDNER forces him to
chair R. of table) How about his heart? (Crosses
io back of table)

WIDNER. (Sounds wrong side. Listening R.,
then thumps. FLEXNER moves WIDNER'S hand to
i.. side.)

FLEXNER. Heart over this side. He's got a
heart like a bull.

WIDNER. Oh, pardon me, my mistake. (R. of
JAY)

JAY. He knows where it is.

(FLEXNER pours a spoonful of medicine.)

FLEXNER. Give him this right now. (Hands
WIDNER spoonful of medicine)

JAY. I'll be hanged if I will.

WIDNER. Come, come, be a man. (As JAY ex-
/ >stulates, WIDNER puts the dose in JAY'S mouth)

JAY. Woo that's bitter! Give me some water
( FI.EXNER goes up L. for water, turning, sees JAY
lias drunk the dosed water JAY grabs the dosed
nlass of water which he gulps greedily) Woof
;shat a relief! What a relief !

FLEXNER. (Rubbing his hands) You will find
it so to-morrow (Come L. of table)

JAY. (Rising) What you dosed that

WIDNER. Only a little, pardonable camouflage.

FLEXNER. (Hands JAY pills) Come on now,
take these, they won't hurt you.

(JAY takes pills in hand and throws them away as
he crosses to R. c.)

WIDNER. (To L. of JAY) And these powders



SICK ABED 79

every two hours during the night.

JAY. (Takes powder box} Suppose I'm asleep ?

WIDNER. You won't sleep. (Crosses to L. c.)

FLEXNER. (Crosses to upside of bed) I think
the necessity of quick action suggests a double dose
of this.

JAY. (Gels on bed and takes fencing mask from
chair above bed) I will not oh (Puts on fenc-
ing mask) Why didn't I think of that before.
Nothing doing. I'm muzzled.

FLEXNER. Don't be silly in a serious situation
like this. Widner hold him while I give him this.

JAY. Safety first! (He bounds out of bed and
dashes into bathroom, slamming the door. WIDNER
starts after him carrying surgical forcepts but is in-
terrupted by CHALMERS' entrance L. CHALMERS
I/lances quickly around the room and motions the
Doctors)

CHALMERS. (Crossing tj up c.) Oh, doctors,
she's going

WIDNER. (At head of bed) Without any fuss?

CHALMERS. Miss Durant is the spy, she's been
giving information to Mrs. Weems and I fired
her.

FLEXNER. (R. of CHALMERS) Did you tell her
anything?

CHALMERS. Of course not. It isn't necessary

( WIDNER crosses to foot of bed Enter Miss
DURANT.)

Miss DURANT. (Comes down L. of table) Dr.
Widner, may I speak to you?

CHALMERS. Miss Durant

Miss DURANT. Dr. Widner (She sees JAY is
not in the room and advances firmly) Mr. Chal-
mers tells me that my services aer no longer desired,



8o SICK ABED

but as you, Dr. Widner, retained me I can't of
course recognize Mr. Chalmers' authority.

WIDNER. Oh, dear I felt it

FLEXNER. Mr. Chalmers is quite correct. We
have decided to release you from the case.

Miss DURANT. Oh, I'm sorry if I haven't given
satisfaction.

CHALMERS. (Crosses to door opens it) Kindly
leave at once (He throws open the door as JAY
vpens bathroom door and overhears the last)

JAY. (Crosses to R. of window) What's that?
Chalmers, what are you saying?

Miss DURANT. Good-bye, Mr. Jay. I am leav-
ing the case.

JAY. Leaving the case! Who says you're leav-
ing the case?

FLEXNER. (A step to R.) We have decided

JAY. And I decide that she shan't oh, nursey
it isn't anything that I've done, is it? Have I
offended you?

Miss DURANT. (Crosses to c. to L. of JAY)
No, no, you haven't, you couldn't.

WIDNER. Oh, Lord, I knew it. I felt it!
(Crosses to L. of table and sits)

CHALMERS. (Above table) Miss Durant, will
you kndly not linger? This is most unprofessional.

Miss DURANT. What is unprofessional?

CHALMERS. Your coming back when you have
been discharged. (Comes down L.)

JAY. Don't you dare to talk to her like that.

Miss DURANT. I couldn't leave Mr. Jay with-
out one word of thanks for all his kindness and
courtesy. I'm sure if there has been unprofes-
sional conduct, Mr. Chalmers, it is not mine !

JAY. There's something here I don't understand.
What's the answer?



SICK ABED 81

CHALMERS. (Crosses to JAY) The doctors have
decided

JAY. (Brushes him aside as he crosses to R. of
DURANT) I'm asking her, not you. Nursey, tell
me

Miss DURANT. I'm sorry, Mr. Jay, but I'm told
to go and I must go.

JAY. (Holding DURANT'S arm) Very well
then if you go, I'll go with you right out just as I
am.

FLEXNER. Oh !

Miss DURANT. Please, Mr. Jay.

JAY. (To CHALMERS) Chalmers, the truth
come across with it.

CHALMERS. (At foot of bed) Well, if you will
have it somebody in this house is a traitor. Sell-
ing us out.

Miss DURANT. Mr. Chalmers!

JAY. Are you accusing Miss Durant of being a
spy?

CHALMERS. I don't accuse anybody, but she
leaves.

Miss DURANT. Mr. Jay I couldn't and wouldn't
do anything to hurt you in any way, I hope you
know that.

JAY. I do. (To CHALMERS) Don't you dare
mix her up in this this is my affair leave her out
of it.

CHALMERS. It's our affair Flexner's, Wid-
ner's

WIDNER. (Alarmed) Don't bring me into it.
(Crosses up to L. of FLEXNER, back of table}

CHALMERS. Yes, mine and others, too !

JAY. Oh, it is You think she's a spy, do you?
Now I'm going to show you the kind of confidence
I've placed in Miss Durant. Nursey, here's the
story. I'm perfectly well. I'm shamming sick with



82 SICK ABED

the help of that lawyer and those doctors because
1 don't want to give evidence in a divorce case. The
whole thing is a fraud, a conspiracy. Now there's
the truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.

Miss DURANT. (Taking JAY'S R. hand) Mr.
lay! (A pause while she looks at him) I ap-
preciate your trusting me, like this. (She turns
pleadingly to the doctors. Crosses to R. of table}'
I Oh, please, let me stay on the case, and I'll
do everything I can to help you.

JAY. (A step to DURANT Takes DURANT'S
hand") You will? Nursey, you're a you're a
brick. (Enter SAJI, R. Crosses to table at bed and
looks at chart, picks it up. JAY, furiously to
CHALMERS) Now you'll apologize to Miss Durant
- -all of you !

CHALMERS. Apologize? I will not. (Crosses
down L.)

JAY. (Moving to R. sharply to SAJI) Saji!
What are you doing there?

SAJI. Me? I look your sick chart, Mista Jay.
I gotta telephone Misses Weems. (Crosses to c.)

ALL Mrs. Weems !

SAJI. Sure. She come first day you get sick,
Mista Jay. Nurse-girl tell her, walk right out,
quick! If she wants know how Mista Jay is me
let her know on telephone. Misses Weems she give
me ten dolla. I let her know evely day on tele-
phone. (Crosses front of table and exits carry-
ing chart)

JAY. (Falls on bed WIDNER sits R. of table
FLEXNEH back of table) Good God!

I WTDNER walks around in a small circle, c. then
sits R. of table head in hands.)

ALL. Oh!



SICK ABED 83

Miss DURANT. Good gracious !

CHALMERS. (L. of table} Miss Durant, I
apologize.

Mrss DCNANT. It was all my fault. I thought
she vv.is some relative. I didn't know. Oh, I hope
it hasn't ruined everything. (Crosses to foot of
bed] Is she is she the case?

JAY. (Crawls to foot of bed) If you don't pro-
tect me from :hat sentimental vampire she'll marry
me. (Sits bed)

Miss DURANT. (Suddenly aware of a new in-
terest in JAY) Marry you! (She looks puzzled at
the others) I don't understand.

JAY. Divorce

Miss DURANT. Divorce !

CHALMERS. Yes, she wants to be rid of her
husband.

Miss DURANT. Oh, indeed !

( I- I.EXNER crosses to R. of table, above WIDNER.)

JAY. So those quacks filled me full of dope to
make me sick enough for Dr. Macklyn's examina-
tion to-morrow ?

Miss DURANT. (c.) Dr. Macklyn Dr. Robert
Macklyn?

CHALMERS. (Sadly) Yes.

JAY. (Jealously) Do you know him?

Miss DURANT. Oh, very well.

JAY. Eh!

Miss DURANT. We I mean I've nursed for
him

JAY. Oh, you've nursed for him (Relieved)

Miss DURANT. But wh y why are you call-
ing him in? (To WIDNER Crossing a step to
table)



84 SICK ABED

WIDNER. (Sits R. of table) Calling him in?
Oh, ray God !

FLEXNER. Unfortunately he isn't called in
he's brought in. (Crosses to back of bed)

CHALMERS. (To Nurse) Understand?

FLEXNER. And he comes to-morrow at three.

CHALMERS. Dr. Macklyn's been in love with Mrs.
Weems for years.

Miss DURANT. (c.) Yes, I know. I've heard
all that.

JAY. Oh, nursey, I'm going to be so ill.

Miss DURANT. (Looking at JAY, then crosses to
WIDNER, anxiously) Oh what have you done to
him?

WIDNER. (Meaningly) Everything.

Miss DURANT. (To FLEXNER) And you say
that Dr. Macklyn is coming to-morrow at three?

CHALMERS. (Moves up L.) Yes.

FLEXNER. And he will diagnose a very sick
man.

(Enter SAJI upside of bed.)

SAJI. (Crosses to c. L. of DURANT) Excuse,
please a gentlleman to see Mr. Jay.

(Miss DURANT takes card, glances at it.)

Miss DURANT. Oh oh !

JAY. Nursey- -nursey what's happened?

(Miss DURANT in high excitement.)

Miss DURANT. They've sprung him to-day in-
stead of to-morrow.
ALL. Who?
Miss DURANT. Dr. Macklyn ! He's here now.



SICK ABED 85

JAY. What!

CHALMERS. No !

FLEXNER. It's impossible !

WIDNER. We're ruined!

Miss DURANT. (Crossing quickly to JAY) They
notified us he was coming to-morrow, so they could
fool us to-day.

JAY. Oh, nursey, what'll we do

CHALMERS. I'll be disbarred. (Crosses up and
down L. agitated)

WIDNER. (Rises crosses to foot of bed)
There's nothing else for it, he's got to frame a
blank !

FLEXNER. (Moves to upside foot of bed) That's
it amnesia loss of identity.

(CHALMERS crosses to door.)

WIDNER. (Apoplectic with excitement) De-
lusions, hallucinations. Come come we've got to
go through with it be brave. Don't get excited,
Flexner- (Becomes speechless with excitement
grows red in face and is about to collapse. FLEX-
.\ KR comes L. of him, loosens his collar, and ruffles
Iris hair DURANT R. of him, supporting him)

CHALMERS. Sh! Here he comes (Crosses
to c. Miss DURANT crosses down R. quickly
FLEXNER supporting WIDNER who is utterly col-
lapsed, and dishevelled, collar undone and hair on
end At upside foot of bed WIDNER R. of FLEX-
XF.R -Door opens admitting DR. MACKLYN, CON-
STANCE and POLICEMAN. DR. MACKLYN advances
slowly and seriously to c. )

MACKLYN. (Crosses to R. of table, puts case
doivn and starts to take off gloves) Gentlemen.
( Hows gravely)

Miss DURANT. Good morning, Dr. Macklyn.



86 SICK ABED

DR. MACKLYN. (R. of table) Ah, Miss Durant,
I see the patient is in competent hands.

Miss DURANT. Thank you, Dr. Macklyn.

CONSTANCE. (L. of table) Now we'll see if he
really is ill or not.

DR. MACKLYN. Mrs. Weems, I shall have to ask
you to wait in the other room.

CONSTANCE. Oh, very well. (Exit)

MACKLYN. (Turns to the OFFICER) Officer, it
will not be necessary for you to remain in the room.
If it is necessary to make the arrest (All regis-
ter) I will notify you.

POLICEMAN. (Touching his hat) Yes, sir.

MACKLYN. You may wait outside the door.

POLICEMAN. Yes, sir. (Exits)

CHALMERS. (Crosses to L. of table recovering
himself after an anxious glance at the policeman)
Oh, Dr. Macklyn, may I introduce myself? Chal-
mers, Mr. Weems' attorney.

MACKLYN. (Haughtily) Mr. Chalmers.

CHALMERS. (Indicating WIDNER and FLEXNER)
These gentlemen I think you know, Dr. Flexner and
Dr. Widner.

(FLEXNER and WIDNER come forward a step side
by side extending hands.)

MACKLYN. (With scorn for the small ignoring
them) Have not had that privilege. (Gravely
WIDNER and FLEXNER bow expressly to MACKLYN'S
stiff nod and scared, slowly back to former posi-
tions)

WIDNER. We are honored. (Both back together
to former position and shakes hands with each
other)

CHALMERS. I understand you have been ap-
pointed by the Court. Nevertheless, I must protest.



SICK ABED 87

MACKLVN. I am sorry to intrude, but I have no
alternative. My authority (Produces document}

CHALMERS. (To MACKLYN) But I want it to
go on record Mr. Jay is too ill.

MACKLYN. (Looks at WIDNER and FLEXNER)
I am the best judge of that. Mr. Chalmers, I must
ask you to retire.

CHALMERS. Certainly (Exit)

MACKLYN. Dr. Flexner, will you close the
door?

(FLEXNER starts to go L. WIDNER holds on to
coat-tail. FLEXNER sharply disengages his
grasp Crosses to D. and exit)

MACKLYN. Now, I (Turns and sees WIDNER
shaking with fright and smiling a sickly grin at
him) Where may I wash my hands?

WIDNER. This way, please. Hot or cold?
(Hardly able to speak crossing down R.)

MACKLYN. (Crossing to bathroom R.) Will you
get the patient ready, Nurse?

Miss DURANT. Yes, doctor. (Puts chair c.
MACKLYN and WIDNER exit down R.) Come, Mr.
Jay (JAY gets out of bed DURANT crosses to
him and helps) Sit there

JAY. (Sitting in chair c.) Stand close to me,
Nursey, stand close to me.

Miss DURANT. (R. of JAY spreads bed cover
over JAY'S knees) Sh, sh!

JAY. (Grasping her hands) Say, let me hold
your hands.

Miss DURANT. No, I'm going to need them.

JAY. May I have a glass of water? (DURANT
crosses to table R. gets water-pitcher and glass,
crosses to JAY and hands him water)

Miss DURANT. (To JAY, as JAY drinks) When



88 SICK ABED

I pinch you, look at me.

JAY You don't have to pinch me to make me
look at you.

Miss DURANT. Remember, and follow my lead.

JAY. I'd follow you to the end of the world.
(Miss DURANT crosses back of JAY to table L. c.
and places pitcher and glass on it) Oh, nursey,
whenever you look at me, my heart jumps a mile.

Miss DURANT. (Crossing back to R. of JAY)
Honest ?

(Enter MACKLYN and WIDNER from R. i.)

MACKLYN. Is the patient ready, Miss Durant?
Miss DURANT. Yes, doctor.

(MACKLYN crosses to L. c. followed close by WID-
NER who collides with MACKLYN when he
s^ops f the edges to L. and collapses into arm-
chair down L.)

MACKLYN. How long have you been on the
case?

Miss DURANT. From the beginning. About a
week.

MACKLYN. Is there a night nurse?

(JAY groans)

Miss DURANT. Yes, Miss Hepworth, Presby-
terian Hospital. Would you like to see the charts?

MACKLYN. (R. of table) No, I shall use my
own judgment. (Looks critically and disapprov-
ingly at JAY) H'm !

FT.EXNER. (Coming down R. of MACKLYN) As
I explained, Dr. Macklyn, the hysterical features ot
the case are marked (Taps JAY'S knee which



SICK ABED 89

causes JAY to kick) His reactions are of a spas-
modic nature. His delusions produce digressive
motor phenomena. (Backs up back of table)

MACKLYN. (Paying no attention, moves to L. of
JAY) Body seems well-nourished a trifle flabby
perhaps.

WIDNER. (L. of table gasping) Defective vis-
ion, expansion and contraction of the retina the
cynus congested.

MACKLYN. That may have various causes. I
observe a certain assymetry of cranial formation
common in defectives heart action?

WIDNER. (Panting) Like a bull (Angry look
from FLEXNER Hastily) Oh, er sinking spells
at irregular intervals.

MACKLYN. Hm! Thyroid secretion, perhaps
ometimes responsible for ego-mania Appetite?

Miss DURANT. None we cannot induce him
to eat. (Points to tray. MACKLYN peers at tray)

MACKLYN. Bad teeth, probably what stimu-
lants? He looks to me like a man who has con-
tinually over-stimulated. I will take the patient's
temperature.

( WIDNER rises and goes up to L. of FLEXNER and
nudges him. FLEXNER offers his thermometer
that registers 104 degrees.)

FLEXNER. Permit me, may I offer you my ther-
mometer? (Back of table)

MACKLYN. (Looks at him and takes his own
from pocket) Thank you, I always use my own.

(FLEXNER and WIDNER register dismay. DURANT
crosses to tray and gets tabasco. DURANT
gently crosses to R. of JAY carrying tobasco be-
hind her. MACKLYN, with back to JAY, pre-



90 SICK ABED

paring thermometer JAY has been watching,
fascina.ed by fright Miss DURANT sidles
along, pinches JAY JAY turn and opens his
mouth. She deluges him with tabasco, with
one wild shriek of pain, doctors look on aston-
ished. FLEXNER crosses behind JAY. DURANT
R. of JAY, trying to pacify him. WIDNER leans
against FLEXNER for support. FLEXNER trying
to hold JAY still)

MACKLYN. Curious, very curious.
WIDNER. One of his spasms. Not quite as vio-
lent as usual, very (Panting) difficult to control.

(They hang over JAY who gasps and inarticularly
tries to talk.)

MACKLYN. (Very calm as one used to such
cases) Sounds like delirium. Can you hold him
while I take his temperature?

Miss DURANT. (With hypnotic gentleness) Mr.
Jay, you must be quiet in order to enable Dr. Mack-
lyn to take your temperature.

MACKLYN. Do these attacks occur often?

WiixNER. Very frequent periodical, oh. (Nearly
expires)

FLEXNER. He's quieter now. (Crosses to back
of table, WIDNER to L. of it)

(MACKLYN inserts the thermometer in JAY'S mouth
and opens his watch-case to note time. All are
giving up hope. Miss DURANT takes ice bowl
from tray, picks up piece of ice, pinches JAY,
who again obediently turns his head and opens
mouth. She pops the piece of ice into JAY'S
mouth and replaces thermometer. He with
cheeks bulging looks at her, while she cauti-



SICK ABED 91

ously removes ice bowl out of sight, under bed.
MACKLYN takes thermometer out of JAY'S
mouth and looks at it. Starts. FLEXNER and
WIDNER hang to each other hopelessly.)

MACKLYN. Why, it can't be. It's impossible.
The patient has no temperature. He ought to be
dead. (Crosses to L. DOCTORS exchange wonder-
ing looks)

FLEXNER. Exceptional case, very unpre-


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