George Howells Broadhurst.

Why Smith left home: an original farce in three acts online

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Why Smith Left Home




)EL FRENCrf 28-30 West 3 V, w Y


Hn riatnal jfarce in Ubrec Bets




CAUTION. All persona are hereby warned that "Why Smith
Left Home," being fully protected under the copyright laws of the
United States, is subject to royalty, and anyone presenting the play
without the consent of the author or his authorized agent, will be
liable to the penalties by law provided. Application for stage
rights must be made to Samuel French. 28-30 West 38th Street,
New York.




28-30 WEST 38xH STREET







JOHN SMITH. .Who loves his wife and lives in New

GEN. BILLETDOUX ...... His wife's second husband

COUNT VON GUGGENHEIM. .Who made them twisted
MAJOR DUNCOMBE. . . .With memories of last night


MRS. JOHN SMITH.. Who loves her husband, no

matter where he lives

Miss SMITH A lady in waiting


EOSE WALTON EGBERT'S bride of a day

JULIA Touchingly clever

ELSIE A maid

LAVINIA DALY Who is a lady and knows it


TIME. Present.

ACT 1st. Morning.

ACT 2n<J. , Afternoon,

Acr 3rd, Evening,



Telegram in sealed telegraph envelope.

Silver salver.

Two tap bells.

One large hall bell.

Cake (Wood) one large piece, two slices.

Plate (China) for cake.

Card case.

Visiting cards with tissue paper.


Large extra long bread knife.

Prop, money marked $100. c.

Small personal check book.

Tray cloths.


Two sets salts and peppers.

Three knives.

Three forks.

Three large tablespoons.

Five plates.

Two glasses.


Large long "horse" pistol with loud double cock
action hammer.

Four books.

Red mask.


Two large stars for hair.

Envelope with letter enclosed addressed to MKS.

Envelope with notice enclosed for LAVINIA.



SMITH. Act I. Light business suit. Act II.
Dark business suit. Act III. Evening dress and

GEN. B. Act I. Light check sack suit. Act II.
Frock coat, light trousers. Act III. Evening dress.

COUNT. Act II. Light suit. Act III. Evening
dress. '

MAJOR. Act I. Frock coat, light trousers. Act
II. Same. Act III. Evening dress.

BOB. Act I. Military undress or fatigue coat
and duck trousers. Act II. Same. Act III. Even-
ing dress.

MRS. S. Act I. Morning gown. Act II. After-
noon gown. Act III. Evening gown and handsome
wrap. Fancy costume, very Frenchy.

Miss S. Act I. Morning gown. Act II. After-
noon gown. Act III. Evening gown.

MRS. B. Act I. Traveling dress. Act II. After-
noon gown. Act III. Evening gown and handsome
wrap. Masquerade dress same as Julia's.

EOSE. Act I. Traveling dress. Act II. After-
noon dress. Act III. Evening dress and Masquerade

JULIA. Act. I. Maid's dress, black. Handsome
gown given her by Mrs. Smith. Act II. Maid's
dress, black. Act III. Same. Also Masquerade
dress same as Mrs. Billetdoux.

ELSIE. Act I. Maid's dress. Gray. Act II.
Same. Act III. Same. Also Masquerade dress.

LAVINIA. Act I. Plain gingham of eccentric
pattern with deep starched collar and green tie. Act
II. Same, Act III. Same. Also Masquerade dress
representing royal robe of state. Cloak and train, etc.



SMITH. Prosperous American "business man of
about forty. Good humored.

GEN. B. Dapper little Frenchman of about fifty.
Gallic in manner, precise in dress.

COUNT VON G. German, about thirty- five. Very
nervous in actions and intense in speech and manner.

MAJOR D. Gruff old soldier of fifty-five.

BOB. Youngster of twenty-one. Boyish in appear-
ance and manner.

MRS. S. Handsome young woman of twenty-five.

Miss S. A maiden lady of forty-two. Don't make,
her a caricature.

MRS. B. Portly woman of fifty. Overbearing in

ROSE. Good-looking girl of about twenty.

JULIA. Handsome girl of twenty-two. Demure of
speech and manner. Uses her eyes effectively.

ELSIE. About twenty. Somewhat pert.

LAVINIA. An Irishwoman of about thirty-five.
Dialogue will indicate her characteristics.



SCENE: Music at rise. Lively. A room hand-
somely furnished, in the home of JOHN SMITH.
At rise of curtain, MRS. SMITH enters n. 3
with photograph album in her hand t places it
on table up c., sits right of table looking at
photograph album.

MRS. S. Here it is.

(Enter Miss SMITH L. 2.)

Miss S. (L. c.) Ah! You said that he wouldn't,
I knew he would. The Major he proposed last

MRS. S. (sitting c. n.) An offer of marriage
doesn't come every day to a woman of your age.

Miss S. My age, indeed! Because your young
face attracted the attention of my brother, and
you were lucky enough to catch him. (Down L.)

MRS. S. (c. rising) Lucky! Catch! To hear
you talk one would think I lured your brother
into marrying me. (Coming down stage c.) In-
stead of which I refused him three times, as you
very well know.

Miss S. (L., goes to MRS. SMITH) Only to
accept him the fourth because he secured a con-
tract for a government building, and so was sure
to make another million.

;;' ',;;'.'!; ;Wliy- SMITH LEFT HOME.

MRS. S. Do you intimate that I married my
husband for money?

Miss SMITH, (c.) Do you insinuate that you
married him for love? You may be able to make
him believe that, but me Oh no ! My brother isn't
exactly handsome.

MRS. S. (c.) True. Beauty doesn't run in your

Miss S. (L.) He is not very young.

MRS. S. True again. Though beauty doesn't,
age does.

Miss S. (L.) You think because I am thirty-
two !

MRS. S. Forty- two.

Miss S. (L. cor.) Thirty-two.

MRS. S. Forty-two.

(Going to table c. for album.)
This is the family album.

(Coming down to Miss S. back of table.)

I found it this morning, and was prepared for the
emergency. (Pointing to record in album.)

Miss S. (L. c. pointing to album) That figure
is false.

MRS. S. If it is, it's not the only false figure
about you. (Closing album an,d returning to table
up c.)

Miss S. You imagine I cannot inspire devotion
because I am no longer a child !

MRS. S. (R.) (Coming down R.) "Child" is

Miss S. (L. c.) But, did you notice how the
Count Von Guggenheim stared at me on the street
yesterday afternoon?

MRS. S. (At chair R.) Stared! At you!
(laughs) Now that is really funny.

Miss S. Funny!


MRS. S. Yes, you forget 7 was with you.

Miss S. Do you mean to say he was looking at

MRS. S. (c.) Stranger things have happened.

Miss S. You may think he was. I know better.

MRS. S. (R.) And I would not undeceive you
for the world.

(MRS. S. crosses to c.)

(MRS. and Miss SMITH ad lib. until SMITH'S

SMITH. (Outside) At it again.

(Enter SMITH R. 3, loth go to meet him.)

Miss S. Your wife ) has been saying

MRS. S. Your sister j that I !

SMITH, (c.) Stop it, stop it!

(MRS. and Miss S. stop.)
(Coming down stage c.)

I know which is wrong.

MRS. S. and Miss S. Which?

(Both ladies point at each other.)
SMITH. Both.

(An indignant look from loth of the ladies. MRS.
S. goes to piano R. and Miss S. to L.)

What's the fuss about anyway? Is it simply the
four hundred and thirteenth chapter of the old one,
or the beginning of another?

(Turn R., looking at MRS. S.)

Miss S. (L. c.) I came here to tell your wife
that the Major proposed to me last night, and


(Miss S. makes gesture, extending R. hand.)

SMITH, (c. Turn quickly, catch Miss S. hand
shake) At last, at last! (Back to c.) I'd
begun to think I'd sacrificed a month's comfort for

Miss S. (L. c.) What do you mean?

SMITH, (c.) Why do you suppose I invited the
Major to spend this month here? Because I was
yearning for his society? Not much. I wanted
to give you one long, last lingering farewell chance
at him.

Miss S. (L. c.) Chance at him!

SMITH, (c.) Exactly. He'd never have joined
the army if you hadn't refused him twenty years

MRS. S. (coming to back of arm-chair R.) Yes.
Twenty years ago when you were only twelve years
old! Oh, I don't know. (Putting hand to face,
looking through fingers.)

SMITH, (c.) And as I thought he might still
be foolish enough to

Miss S. (c. L.) Then it was a deliberate plan
to get rid of me?

SMITH, (c.) Not so much that as a plan to
get a few days' peace and quiet in my own home
with my own wife. (MRS. S. crosses c. to SMITH,
they embrace) We have been married for six
months, I couldn't go on a honeymoon because of
business, and I'll be hanged if somebody hasn't been
camping out here since -the day of the wedding.

(MRS. S. sits in arm chair R.)

Miss S. (L. c.) I'll see that I don't "camp out"
here much longer, (going to door L.)

SMITH, (c. crossing to chair R.) I don't want
to hurry you, Juliette. This is Saturday. Now,


when the Major asks you to name the day, if you'll

say next Monday !

Miss S. (crosses L.) I'll go. I'll go. But per-
haps the knowledge of this little scheme may have
an effect you did not count on. I did not accept the
Major but agreed to give him his answer to-day.
I intended to say "yes/' now I shall probably say

(Exit Miss SMITH L. 1, slams door.)

MRS. S. (rising) If she should say "no."
SMITH, (crosses to MRS. S. at chair R.) Don't
you worry about that. If the Major lives till she
refuses him the second time, he'll be a gold mine
for the life insurance companies.

(MRS. S. sits in chair R., SMITH sits on arm of
chair with arm around MRS. SMITH'S neck.)

And do you know, my dear, I've always regretted
not taking that honeymoon trip. If I hadn't had
such unusually important contracts on hand, we
certainly would have done -so.

MRS. S. (R.) I know we would, you dear old
fellow, so there, don't say anything more about it.

(SMITH affectionately caresses MRS. S.)

SMITH. We'll take a substitute for it some day,
however, just as soon as business is dull enough,
and it's getting quieter every day. We'll go next
week if you say so?

MRS. S. No, John. When Juliette has gone,
we'll have our home all to ourselves, and that is
just what I've been longing for.

SMITH. I've been troubled with the same long-
ing. Why can't people have some consideration?
It seems to me that every relative of yours !

MRS. S. (warningly) Ah, ah, ah!


SMITH, And mine too has put in an appear-
ance here since we started housekeeping.

MRS. S. Not all of mine, John. Brother Bob
and Aunt Mary at least haven't been here.

SMITH. That's so. Although I've never had the
pleasure of meeting that brother of yours, I would
make him welcome for your sake. But Aunt Mary !
Aunt Mary! (SMITH crossing to c.) It only needs
her presence to fill my cup of happiness to over-

MRS. S. (rising crosses to SMITH L. c.) I'm
so sorry you two -can't get along together, I know
she is a little aggressive, but remember how good
she has been to Bob and me. She's taken care of
us both since we were only so high (making motion
with hand), and just think what Bob's education
alone is costing her.

SMITH. (L. c.) I admire your aunt's good
qualities, and am very grateful for all she has done

for you, but her disposition and mine ! well,

instead of fitting together so (interlacing fingers),
they run against each other like this (rapidly plac-
ing tips of thumbs and fingers together). K\)w,
when that is the case, the persons concerned had
better keep apart or there'll be trouble.

MRS. S. (crossing to arm chair R.) I hope
there'll never be any trouble between you two.

SMITH. (L. c.) I'm sure there won't unless
she comes here looking for it.

(ELSIE enters R. 3.)

ELSIE. Telegram for you, sir.
SMITH, (taking telegram) For me?
ELSIE. Yes, sir.

(ELSIE exits R. 3.)


SMITH. All my messages should go to the office.
(tearing end of envelope and reading message)
AVhv, it's for you, dear, (giving telegram to MRS.

MRS. S. (crosses L.) Is it?

SMITH, (up R. c.) That girl has got to be
more careful.

MRS. S. From whom can it be.

SMITH, (up at door R. 3.) Elsie! Elsie!

(ELSIE appears at door, SMITH talks to her in
dumb show.)

MRS. S. (reading) <r Will see you at twelve.
Am coming with the General for a nice, long visit.
Aunt Mary." Aunt Mary coming here with the
General, and John in this frame of mind!

(ELSIE exits R. 3, quick t jerkily.}

SMITH. (R. chair) (coming down and sitting
in chair R.) She won't do that again. Anything
important, dear?

MRS. S. Oh no! no, indeed! it's from brother
Bob. He says he has been chosen quarter back on
the baseball team. (conceals telegram in sleeve
of dress)

SMITH. Quarterback on the baseball team?

MRS. S. Yes.

SMITH. I suppose next year he'll be first base
on the football team.

MRS. S. (doubtfully) Oh yes

SMITH. And he wires you about it?

MRS. S. (crossing back of chair) Yes, he
always wires me about such matters. He knows
how interested I am in his studies and things.
(Crosses back of chair.) Very considerate of him,
don't you think so, dear?

SMITH. Very. But as we were saying, a newly


married couple ought to have their home completely
to themselves. Eh, sweetheart?

MRS. S. (R.) Yes, John. Of course, as a gen-
eral rule, but don't you think there could be an
exception ?

SMITH. Exception ?

MRS. S. Just as a matter of argument, you

SMITH. (R.) Xo! This is the rule to which I
can see no exception, especially in our case, and
when Juliette has gone, we'll be just as happy as
birds in the Springtime. Any man who couldn't
be contented with a wife like you and a nice, quiet
home ought to !

(LAVINIA outside R. 1, laughs loudly. SMITH listens
with evident exasperation, then he, looks at
MRS. S. who has been watching him with
symptoms of distress.

(Both rising and loofcing at each other.)

SMITH. Who is that?

MRS. S. The new cook.

SMITH. Great Scott, another?
MRS. S. Yes, dear.

(SMITH crosses back of chair ringing bell on table.
ELSIE enters R. 3." SMITH crossing back to c.)

SMITH. (R. c.) Tell that cook (to MRS.
SMITH) By the way, what's her name?

MRS. S. (R.) Lavinia, dear.

SMITH, (c. to ELSIE) You tell Lavinia, dear,
to be a little more confidential with that laugh of
hers. I don't like her voice.

(Crossing to MRS. S., R., ELSIE exits R. 3.)
As T wsis saying, my dear, we'll have our home
all to ourselves and then


LAVINIA (outside E.) He don't like me voice,
eh? Well, you just tell him for me that if he
don't like it, he'd better live in another part of
the house.

SMITH, (crossing c.) I'd better live in another
part of the house.

ELSIE re-enters E.)

ELSIE. She said that if you didn't like !

SMITH. (E. c.) I know what she said.

(SMITH motions ELSIE off starts to rush off E. 2.
MRS. S. intercepts him. ELSIE exits R. 3.)

MRS. S. She was only joking. I could tell it by
her tone.

SMITH. By her tone. All right, I'll go and
apologize in a tone just like it.

(SMITH starts again,, MRS. S. stops liim, placing
both hands on his breast.)

MES. S. (E.) John please, please let the mat-
ter drop as a favor to me.

SMITH. Yes, but I !

MRS. S. I understand, dear. But she came only
this morning, and hasn't got accustomed to our

SMITH. (crosses to L. c.) Evidently she

MRS. S. (R.) She comes most highly recom-
mended, especially as a fancy cook, and this morn-
ing when I was in the kitchen (crosses to small
table at R.) she was making what promised to be
a most delicious cake (taking the plate with the
caJce on it) and here it is.


(Crossing to E. c. showing SMITH the calce.)

SMITH, (c.) That does look good.


MRS. S. (R. c.) Try a piece.
SMITH. Oh, I hardly think I-

MRS. S. Just one. You know how fond you are
of it.

(SMITH takes piece of cake. MRS. S. looks on
smiling. SMITH tries to bite it, but fails.
He looks at MRS. SMITH whose expression
changes to one of dismay.)

SMITH. Say, dearie, isn't there a little hammer
goes with this? (SMITH tries again. Same result.
Then taps the plate with the piece of cake.) If
this is the work of a cook who comes highly recom-
mended, please engage one who has a diploma for
incompetency. Discharge her, my dear, discharge

(Hands cake to MRS. S. Crosses and sits in chair
R. of table.)

MRS. S. (passing behind chair, putting plate
of cake on table) If I did, I could not get an-
other in town and I need one to-day especially.

(Crosses to c.)

SMITH. (L.) Why to-day more than any other?

MRS. S. (going to R. c.) Don't you see if Aunt
! Well, I need one to-day, that's all.

SMITH, (rising comes to c.) But why to-day
more than any other?

(MRS. SMITH stands at chair R., facing R., back
to SMITH; she takes telegram from sleeve,
looks at it with an expression of comical dis-
may, looks at SMITH, turns away her head,
then timidly hands it to SMITH with a back-
ward motion. SMITH iul-p* it between thumb
and finger of R. hand and in a very gingerly


What has your quarterback brother to do with the

MRS. S. (R. c.) It isn't from my brother.

SMITH. (Reads, with an expression of great
dismay, gasps, almost a scream, hard to breathe)
"Aunt Mary General long visit." (Folds tele-
gram, returns it to MRS. S. kisses her, starts
abruptly for c.) Good-bye.

MRS. S. (c.) Where are you going?

SMITH, (up L. 3, turns) I haven't decided
whether it will be Goldfield or San Leandro.

MRS. S. Do be sensible.

SMITH, (coming down c. excitedly) So I got
rid of my sister, only to have your aunt and her
second husband swoop down on us, do I ? But they
shan't stay. I'll refuse to pay the gas bills and
have the gas turned off. I'll go out and catch scarlet
fever! I'll discharge all the servants, the maids,
the cook ! Great Scott! Cook and mother-in-
law the same day.

(Sits at R. of table L.)

MRS. S. (R.) But she is not your mother-in-
law. She is my aunt.

(Goes to piano; sits, doesn't play.)

SMITH. She may be an aunt by nature, but she
is a mother-in-law by instinct ! Why, the cook alone
is enough to make any man leave home.

(Strikes table forcibly, sees cake; the idea of driving
away Aunt Mary with the work of the cook
strikes him.)

By jove, there's an idea Aunt Mary the cook
I'll feed Aunt Mary


(His expression changes to one of triumph. Rises.
Goes up c. with a swagger air, then with as-
sumed regret)

Marion, Fve been wrong. I haven't looked at this
affair in a sensible light. Perhaps your aunt and
I can get along nicely after all.

MRS. S. (R. c. doubtfully) Yes?

SMITH, (down c. Coming down to MRS. S.)

Yes oh, yes! now that I am calm. I see that

it would be unkind of me to refuse to receive her.

(As he comes down, makes motion indicating cake

on table.)

MRS. S. (R. c.) But why this sudden change
of heart?

SMITH. It isn't a change of heart. It's a
change of of !

MRS. S. Plan?

SMITH. No, no, my dear. She has been so good
to you that the slightest return I can make is to
let her come and stay as long as she can stand it.
(MRS. SMITH looks at him) I mean as long as
she pleases.

MRS. S. Eeally?

SMITH. Really.

MRS. S. (R. c.) Thank you, John, thank you.

SMITH. Not at all, not at all. But about the
cook. Some one must reason with her, and as 1
know you don't wish to do it, send her here to me.

MRS. S. (R. c.) Please don't say anything to
offend her.

SMITH, (c.) I'll pour balm on her wounded

MRS. S. (going R.) I'm a little bit doubtful.

SMITH, (following MRS. S. to R) You needn't
be, my dear.

(Irish air pp.)

MRS. S. Well, we'll see.


(Exit MRS. S. R. 3, E.)

SMITH, (sitting in chair R.) Coming to pay a
nice, long visit, are they? Well, I guess not, if
this court knows itself, and it thinks it does.

(LAVINIA entering R. 2, passes back of chair,
touches SMITH on shoulder, goes c. and stands
waiting. SMITH looks at her in astonishment.)

Well, who are you?

(LAVINIA reaches into her pocket, produces a hand-
some card case, takes out card, blows tissue
paper from it, and hands card to SMITH.)

LAVINIA. (R. c.) My card.

SMITH, (taking card .. and reading) : "Lavinia
Daly, secretary of the Cook Ladies' Union and
Queen of the Housemaids' Society of Holland

LAVINIA. (c.) Yours truly, (bowing)

SMITH, (rising, bowing to her) Your Majesty.
(sits) Let me get this straight as I understand
it. You are the cook.

LAVINIA. Cook lady, if you please. There is
no longer any plain cooks.

SMITH. What I want to know is this: are you
the individual who perpetrated that? (pointing to

LAVINIA. (looks at cake on table and back at
SMITH) I cooked it if that's what you mean?

SMITH. Well, what is it?

LAVINIA. That is a piece of angel cake. Did
you think it was an oyster stew?

SMITH. No, oh, no! I thought that perhaps it
was a small oblong section of the new cement pave-
ment they're laying outside.

LAVINIA. (crosses L.) Now, don't get gay! Don't


get gay! If you do, I'll put the Cook Ladies'
Union on to you. (crossing R.)

SMITH. The what?

LAVINIA. The Cook Ladies' Union! Oh, us
cooks is organized and ready for a strike at any
minute, (crossing to c.)

SMITH. Your strike wouldn't bother me. My
wife could do her own cooking if she had to.

LAVINIA. And if she did, she would have to do
everything else as well. The rest of the house
workin' ladies wouldn't work with a scab.

SMITH. Scab !

LAVINIA. It's agin' the rules of the Union.

SMITH. But this is our own house.

LAVINIA. If we cook ladies can't win our strike
we calls the other house-workin' ladies. If that
don't settle it, we calls out the Ice Wagon Drivers'
Brotherhood, and then when you're all sick from
home-made cookin' and jan't get no ice, we calls
out the Society of Kegistered Drug Clerks; you
can't get your prescriptions filled and we have you
bloated capitalists cinched to a standstill. Only
wait till we get started, we'll make things hum.
(goes R.)

SMITH. (crossing to table} Yes, I should
imagine you would. But listen to me.

(Taking piece of calce from plate, on table C.,
meeting LAVINIA c.)

This is pretty good, bad cooking, I admit, but what
I w;>nt to know is, can you do bad cooking any

LAVTNIA. (R. c.) What arc you drivin' at?

SMITH. (c.) Simply this. My wife's aunt
begins an indefinite visit here to-day, but if you
can only keep on like this, in three days she'll either


die of dyspepsia or be compelled to leave the house.
Do you catch the idea?

LAVINIA. (R. c.) Do I catch the idea? Do I
catch? Well, I should say I do. And you couldn't
get a better lady to help you if you searched the
country over. Why, when I half tries, I can cook
the tenderest beefsteak till you couldn't tell it from
the under side of a leather trunk.

SMITH. Good! Good! (crosses L. and puts cake
on plate)

LAVINIA. And when I get down to business, I
can take a young spring chicken and make you
swear it was the grandfather of the identical bird
that went into the ark with Moses, (down R.)

SMITH, (c.) Then there can be no mistake.
You are the woman (exclamation from LAVINIA,
"what?" SMITH bowing) the lady, I beg your par -
don, the lady, I want.

LAVINIA. (coming to SMITH c.) What is there
in it?

SMITH. If she leaves the first day, I'll give you
a hundred dollars, if the second, seventy-five, the
third, fifty. You see, I make an inducement for
you to do good bad work. Are you game?

LAVINIA. But if she dies?

SMITH. Under those circumstances, I suppose
you'd be entitled to a pension for life.

LAVINIA. (taking SMITH'S hand) It's a go.
The terms are liberal, and I accepts 'em; I'll start
right at the next meal, and remember, you can't
lose, you can't lose, the Secretary of the Cook
Ladies' Union is with you.

(LAVINIA exits R. 2.)

SMITH, (going to L. of table to chair, and sits
in it) And now, Auntie, I think I'm ready for you.
I think I'll be able to


(MRS. S. enters R. E. on tiptoes, looking after
LAVINIA, off R. E., speaking as she comes
down to SMITH.)

MRS. S. (R. c.) Did you arrange everything
amicably with the cook, John?

SMITH. We came to a perfect understanding.

MRS. S. (getting behind SMITH'S chair, puts

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