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The choice; a play in three acts online

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A Play m .Three Acet©



Copyright 1914



A Flay in Thire© Acts



Copyright 1914

All rights reserved, including that of trans-
lation into foreign languages, including the

All acting rights both professional and ama-
teur are reserved. Performances forbidden and
right of representation reserved. Piracy or in-
fringement will be prosecuted in accordance with
penalties provided by the United States Statutes:
Sec. 1.966, l'. S. Revised Statutes, Title 60,
Chap. 3.

Application for the ri^ht of performing this
play should be made to the author.

P irsons desiring to read this play profession-
alls in public should first apply to the author.

SEP 3 1*«

CCI.D 3 SO 4:5



Mrs. godez, her mother,
a widow


hostess, guests, etc.



» Kn

n ^

*> x

"(The Choice


Scene: cr> right a portico of Colonial mansion nrrounded by flowers;
ce away enormous blooming crepe myrtles, overhung with moss. An
avenue of oaks leading out and oil the stage. Late in afternoon: sun bursts
forth triumph antly before it finally goes to rest.

It is now two years since Mr. Godez died, and the change we appre-
hended in the bi ginning has now come to pass. I understand Troleue and
mother are pr< paring to move away, may even leave tonight.

Are niii sure 9 1 heard something about it and came to find out.


Sallie fust now arrived with the news, so T came over to see Trolene.

Ever since Mr. Godez died that rich uncle of Trolene s lias want"!
i . in to come to him. Though they felt at some time they must move, the)
h( sitated, dreading to leave their old home and friends.


Then why are tie

it seems he has written another letter, more importunate than evei
ife's death, leaving him alone in a large home, lie feels more k<
Isolated, unprotected state. He wants them to end it by coming to
live with him.

(Delighted.) Now, 1 am glad thej are going!


(Sneeringly.) You! Why should von (are'

she will now have a chance to knew something of her people.

That Is what her uncle writes. He wants her to study their history, to
their struggles, to imbibe their custom! to know the beauties of their



(Sarcastically.) So living among such an exalted people she marry one of

Why shouldn't she?

(Glaring at Jerome.) Why should she? Her people are here. There
is as much of our blood in her veins as there is of that other. By the
largest right — that of possession — we ought to keep here here. That has
never been an issue in her life. Why should they want to make it on«
now? To isolate, to designate her as one!

Why shouldn't they want to designate her as one, let her stand out,
clear and strong as a noble one!

Ycu, Jerome! I might have known that you, a representative incarnate,
would say that.

(Sadly.) I am not representative of my race; I am sorry if you thin'
so. I am only a poor degenerate offspring of a noble stock.

It is with full realization of all your shortcomings that I again state
you are representative. I and most of the people around here have the
bluest blood running in our veins. I am descended from Lord Talbot of
England, who had a long line of noble ancestors. Sallie's ancestry is also
of the highest. We have only tolerated you and your father in this com-
munity; he is a good merchant, that is all. We never consider him as any-
thing else. As for you —

Not one word more, John Talbot. I have a purer, a nobler strain run-
ning through my veins than you. Thank goodness, I am not glutted and
scurvied with the noble blood of a rake and roue!

If you dare say another word against my noble ancestor, I'll strike —

(Preventing.) Stop! None of that. You boys are always on the point
of quarreling. What difference does it make who your ancestors were?
It's what you are that counts. Most of us who have famous ancestors use
up our lives with thinking of them, and amount to nothing; those who have
none, accomplish something, and start an ancestry for those to follow. Here
come Trolene and her shadow.

(Enter Trolene. with old black mammy Guilly.)

I waited for you to come to me, but as you seemed enamored of this
spot, I thought I had better come to you. especially as a fight seemed immi-
nent. With Sallie sole witness, I could resist no longer. Did you come to
see me or just select this as a beautiful spot on which to fight and die?
Why such gestures and glances between John and Jerome, that arresting
arm of Sallie's — the muchly mooted question of ancestors again? Some
kindly person ought to really let you fight it out, so put an end to these
volcanic eruptions.

I have just been telline them of vour leaving us.

That surely is not what caused the quarrel. Just think, I have finally
persuaded dear old Aunt Guilly to go with us. Some part of this dear old
country to be with me?



Take me; I am native


Dis heah white chile kin make Doah ole Ant Guillv do mos' ennvthin*
Course I lias to k<> wid her, caise I jea couldn't lib heah widout her. I
didn't need no persuadin' to go wid her, but whar she's going. But for wh>
she should go away out W« s' where dere's cowboys that make guns say
biff, ban? ebberry time dey looks at you, and throws ropes round yer neck:.
!■[ dey kin for de Lord I jes kaint see why we hah to go there. I jes shud-
der whenever I thinks about it, and sometimes I wakes up in de middle of
de night feelin' dere's a rope eround my neck. Lord bless my soul, but
ifraid to go!

Dear old Aunt Guilly is going to save me from the cowboys, or be in at
the (bath, so we can all go together. There's Uncle Lige, Aunt Guillv.
You had better go talk with him about getting our things ready. Tell him
to have the carriage about seven.

1 a in going into the house, Trolene, to see your mother for a while. Be
sure that John and Jerome go their separate ways.

(Sallie exit into house. John and Jerome stare at each other: the Situa-
tion becoming tense. Jerome decides to go.)

(Taking Trolene's hand, looking steadily into her eyes.) Good-bye,
Trolene. We may never meet again, but this I want to say: Listen to your
Uncle, become one with your people. We need such as you. (With one
final glare at John, departs.)

A tunny fellow, Jerome. He acts as though the world .had done him a
wrong. I believe we are what you would call natural enemies.

He is what the world and his race have made him. I am afraid it i*
tl at which makes vou natural enemies more than your individual selves

Let's not discuss it — nothing so dry as Jerome. The time is too precious
to waste with him. It's no fun to argue with a girl — not some girls. Let's
really talk of something nice; of you for instance; that always pleases me.
Are you really, truly going — I mean to live?

Yes, it is true. We have been a long time deciding; it is like being
uprooted, leaving our old home and friends. But concluding it best, we
leave tonight.

I don't see how you can go; you are so well thought of here: your
family such a representative one. Vou have stood for everything that was
high. Your father even fought side by side with the other members; your
mother has been a mother to all the homeless boys, consequently, idolized.
your home has been a place of rest and pleasure tor those of us who have
not been so fortunately situated. We would be just stranded, can't you see
that? On your mother's side you are connected with some of us, you are
one Of us We all want you, need you, love you.

It certainly Is kind of you to say so; it is exonerating, even if one
thinks the coloring a little too strong, knowing it painted by your dear

There is no place on earth you could ever go and occupy the same
high position, plus the love and respect you now enjoy. Trolene. do nothing
we all know will cause you regret.


I fear what you say is all too true. Love doesn't usually thrive in the
rays that emanate from a high position. Should a human being of family
enjoying both ever be foolish enough to give them up, I doubt if in the law
of balances it would ever come to them again. I am not sure we are such a
family as you have pictured, but if it were so it could not keep us, now that
we have decided it is right for us to go. Circumstances which have happened
since my fathers deaih, our lack of business ability and self-protection,
has made it impracticable for us to remain here..

But you can have a uatural protector —

However, what you have said is the greatest kind of comfort, whether
it be really true or not. It is like wine in one's veins, so exhilerating that
one lias courage to face the future..

i was telling you real truths to make you hesitate about going.

We can't draw back now. I'm afraid we can never come back to this
either. My mother and I both felt we must go at some time, but I was not
prepared to encounter such cliange of lire and ideas as 1 am about to; so
.hat I scarcely know whether I want to go or not.

Please, then, do not go, Trolene; remain here happy in the recollections
of a luxuriant childhood, a promising and beautiful womanhood, free from
vexing cares and problems, happy amid these ancestral vales — a veritable
Eden, your world and mine! I love you, have always loved you ever since
we were childen together. Now, with all the fervor of a man's love I
beg you to be mine.

You care for me in that way!

In that way and no other! A realization of what your departure meant
to me, how Very barren existence would be without you, has made me a
man full grown, with all thn ideas of fighting for and possessing the woman
he loves.

Oh, John, how 1 wish you hadn't spoken as you have! I wanted to
think of this part of my life as a fairy existence, a dream life of things
that happened beautifully and marvelously, without seeing the human effort
behind — of our lives together as wholesome, sweet and pure; the rainbow
tinted showers of glowing childhood memories. Now, I shall have to leave
with a feeling of regret thf»t. I cannot satisfy you..

But why can't you satisfy me? It's just as you say. We've had such
glorious times together, enjoyed each other so much. In fact, I cannot
remember a quarrel or any time your seeming adverse to me; always in
games, or where there was a chance to show preference,, you invariably
chose me.

Yes, you are right. I do care, but not the way you mean. Those
were childhood games. A choice of a life partner demands maturer judg-

Where love is, there can be no judgment; one's senses are obscured,
one's whole being vibrates and throbs with (makes a movement to catch
her in his arms; she eludes him).


That is why I know 1 cannot marry you. .lust as Knowledge of ripened
love has made you full-grcwn; so have 1 from pondering over problems my
uncle's letters porli ad, and f< eling the responsibility of this critical □
without full realization until now, attained womanhcod. l know now that
not marry you: I could not argue, nor reason, nor think it' I loved
vim enough for that.


m< \ batevcr kind of love it may be; the kind I want may com>j



It is pi isible had i never thought of leaving here, we might ha

i arried; possible also we might have been contented; but now that these

i tters have come from my uncle, new vistas are opened to me; old situa-

on new lights. I have watched you with Jerome — certainly not

; mprvelous r v amolo rf ideal m- nl i< d, one that would stand out clear in a

multitude; neither is he a positive mark for scorn or ridicule. You need

not Damon and Pythias each other. Neither ought the sight of one be so

:r< mere contiguitv makes you prepare fcr battle. I know now

v hat it is that makes you dislike each other a thing I was never before

' ant cf -innate racial antipathy.

I know very little of his race, but that little is enough
(With a startled, yet Quizzical look in her eyes.) What a strange and
; remark! Then there is such a thing as —

1 don't know why it is. I am vet a bov. Mv mother never exoressh
earned me nor taught me to hate them. The rot the Sunday schools teach
Im ■ gotten. Yet, fr' - 1 o - — «»> hate, I cannot bear —
The Sundav schools, that is one root of the evil: thev ought to teach
you to dwell in peace and amity, but instead of that they narrow your
i and hi lp to perpetuate the prejudice.


Pshaw! Why discuss things settled long before us'.' It's jolly to make

e angry, but you are not like Jerome: you do not belong to his race;

ikm d not fight his battles. There has never been a question of dif-

race with you, and there never will be if you live here and

marry me. You do not look like them: your marriage to me will blot out

all traces ol it. I beg yen to be mine. (Takes her hand.) 1 hunger for

you. (Puts his arms around her. I Trolene, my whole being cries out for

(Clasps her in his arms and crushes her to him; she draws away i

Cannot be mine now. promise at least to live here. Give me ;.

■ i try tn v in j ou.


It is impossible to accede to either of your wishes. I owe it to myself

■ not the right to happiness through Ignorance; real happiness

comes from knowledge and choice. I have never felt any differ

other ii Is I, or my environment, i know not. My own experiences would

' ; i\ lead me to believe they do not exist. But If there are buc!i

: want to know them, all of them tin storms, the little ripples,

undercurrents. You see now why I must go to learn for myself. You

made me see there is something to all of this. But let's say no more

about it. tl'uts her hand on his shoulder.) Forgive me, but you mu *

that I can not now, nor could 1 ever, comply with either of your


requests. Let's resume as nearly as possible our former relationship. T
must go into the house to prepare for my journey, for some of our friends
will be here to say good-bye. Will you come in? (Starts toward house.)

Not so quick, Trolene. I have a word to say. Ive always considered
you mine; no alternative has entered my head. I've made up my mind to
have you, and I'm not going to stop trying now. I'm going to make every
effort to get you; I am going to think success, not failure. (Pause.) Should
I fail — this is no threat, but a message surcharged with meaning — you wiil
certainly regret it; if not your rejection of me, then the consequences of if.
I do not know what trump cards Fate will give me, but I will play them
when the time comes. Think on this before you give me a final No!

You cannot frighten me. (Catches hand gaily.) Come, be John the boy,
once more. I must run into the house and change my clothes. Come in
and talk with mother, while this transformation gees on behind the scenes.

No, I'll stay cut here awhile. Be quick about it, and think of what I've

(Exit Trolene. Enter a good many people, broken-down aristocrats, a
sprinkling of Colonels and their wives, different characters to be seen in
an aloof aristocratic village and on plantations, who live mostly in the past,
modified only by styles slow to arrive. John TaTbot paces back and forth.
Uncle Lige comes round, deposits the grips on porch.)

What's de matter, Marse John? Pears like somefin ail you.

No, nothing.

Sorry, 'caise lil Miss is goin?

Go on; let me alone.

She'll come back.

(Quickly.) Do you think so, Uncle Lige?


She won't like it there widout Uncle Lige, and all dis house

(Angry.) Shut up!

(Ingratiatingly.) If she don' come purty soon, you kin go bring her,
Marse John..

(Quickly.) You think she would come!

(Grinning still more.) A little persuadin' would sholev fetch her.

(Throwing him a coin.) Here, take this and go about your business.
Good evening to all of you (as different ones come up). You may as well
stay out here, for Trolene will be out in a moment.

(Some of them, however, go inside; some stand around in groups, con-
versing. Enter Trolene, dressed for travel.)

(A beaming, motherly soul, kissing her on forehead.) I have brought
you some quince preserves; you always liked them so. I made them just


I believe tkej are better than usual. .Moses! (an old, gray-haireJ
near I Step up lively! 1 want you to bring them around to
the house so Mrs. Godez can pack them with her thing ,

I've brought you a cutting from that sunset rose u ; d to steal
- from. I hope it will live and flourish. Whenever It blooms, ycu oaM
think of the old folks hack home.

,',v you, so much. I shall water it and try to make it grow, bui I
• d that to raal e me think i C you.
(Half running and hobbling in.) Gh, lil Miss, heah'a n box Marpe Hen^v
■ couHn't "ome. ca'se he's down wid de rheumatiz. H'
• 1 i' was oref-iou** *"Pd soroefin ns yon could kep'i forphhrr — p.irt of Rome-
lly dat ef vou-e i-ee-1'ul. yoah chillens could hab it!
it "Mist he something wonderful! Part of that silver service he treasures
• e skin of (hat tiger he toueht so desperately?
e, ('it's not hit —

What cr.n it be, then? Uncle Lige, did he say?

Nome, he nebber said nufiin, but I jes couldn't hope peepin', and what
dees you think I seed? It was a whole settin' cf aigs from dat fine ol?
h( d of his'n..

(Laughing.) How do you know it was the black hen?


Heah's de feder to prove it!

(Amid laughter Uncle Lige exits around house. Most of the guests have
Into house to see Mrs. Godez.)

And Mrs. Johnson, too; I thought you were ill!!


i Willi big, black reticule on arm, and closely followed by a little black

niny, with a bundle bigger than himself.) Yes, honey. I have been ail-

considerably, but I just had to come to see your dear face once more

I brought that George Washington quilt along so that you could see it

Here, Kastus, unroll it so Miss Trolene can look at it. I knew you'd like it.

Here's two squares of yours (taking it from reticule). 1 just brought it

along so you could see it. I would give you this finished one (wistfully)

only I've been working on it so long. Here's some pills to keep your blood

from freezing when those awful Northers strike you. I'll go in to voui


(John Talbot, who has been moodilj pacing up and down, see-: Trolene
and com* 3 hastilj to her. Uncle Lige drives in, seated on box seat
d fashioned coach. )


Whoop! Hurray! ('.it up dar, Jeremia, don't let Queen do all de pullin'.

Guilly, come en heah, you nigger! Vouse a reglar slow-poke! (Hobblea

mes to help her with grip.) I be1 you won' come bo slow ana

ly-lak, when dem cowboys sez biff, bing, bang, and punts a pistol a1

von so, and sez. dance to this'

■ on, niggi r. I aint skeered oh dem cowboys, and I proves it by
Veu i> de coward, caise you is stayiif heah.


Somebody's get ter stay and take keer ob de house and de Missus'
tilings. I jes wish I could go, so I'd show dem cowboys how to do things.
To a real gent lak me, who's alius done things right, dem porely cowboys
be lak skeeters or flies. All I gotter do is make my ole gun say biff, ban;?,
and dem measly, pessiferous cowboys drop down dead; jes so.

Why, nigger, 1 dene heah de Missus jes beg you to go, say as how she
teach you to be lak one of dem highferlutten butlers. I'll tell her you
done change yeah mine!

(Trembling and with a scary look in his eyes.) Don' you dare do dat,
nigger. Ain't I done tell you de Missus need me heah. Besides I don' want
no meddlin' wid my private 'fairs.

(Comes out of house wiping her eyes, gazes around as though she could
look enough to last always.) How I hate to leave this place — and all of
you! Do you realize I have been here — always? I had hoped to live only
a little while with my dear husband's memory and then let you take me over
there to him. But I must cheer up for Trolene's sake. Good-bye, all of you.
i Walks down steps to coach.)

(Others come out and group around porch and look through door, etc.
Trolene and John join Mrs. Godez as she starts to coach. John helps them
in, first Mrs. Godez, then Trolene. Nervously arranges things in bottom
of coach, arranges her skirts, so the door will shut; loathe to let them go.)

( Knibarrassed, puts out her hand.) Good-bye, John.

Is there nothing I can do to make you stay?


Surely there is something I can do to make you alter what vou said?

I am afraid not. (Pause; he looks intently at her; they shake hands )
In sweet remembrances, let us part.

No! I've hopes of your return to me. Let us say — Good-bye!
(Amid loud "Git-ups" from Uncle Lige, the horses start up. Curtain come.-!
quickly down.)



Scene: Library with bay in right, with mahogany cases to ceiling, alter-
nating with French windows; violet velvet curtains within bay to shut oft'
whole bay. A hooded copper fireplace at one end; at rear of stair a stately
entrance door; the furniture massive in design.


(Affectionately.) Well, Trolene, I have certainly never regretted the
day you and your mother came to live with me. I felt I could never survive
my dear wife's death and it made me understand so much the more
your mother's position. I have lessened my own griefs in making your
life pleasanter. .My home is so pleasant since your arrival — I have no de-
sire to go elsewhere. I fancy, too, it has not been such a bad thing for
you. Both of vou look healthy and happy.


Neither have I regretted it. I have seen more of life here in a short
time than I ever would have seen in the whole span of my existence on our


iTour mother, too, has a quiet enjoyment. Her life is beautifully spent
in charity and love; the sharpened edge of her grief has worn off to sweet
remembrance. How glad I am to have reclaimed such a flower as you for
Israel! Vou are among your own people now. Do you not feel a difference?


Yes, I do feel a great, a vast difference; I am at one with all around
me, bound by the strong bonds of kinship, veritably imbedded in love; so
satisfied and contented there is hardly an impetus to go further. Like th«j
happy young hride, whose life all centers around and within her husband's


Why want to go beyond when you have everything here?


On the same principle you want other companions besides your sister-
and brothers, no matter how dear they are..


I wouldn't try to explore any worlds. There are so many beauties \.
this that will multiply day by day if vou live within it.


Bui my coming las made me feel and realize things I never tcne*
before. Tin re is a chasm, but it is like a mirage in a desert, sometimes
sometimes there. When you have decided for yourself it isn't there, ir
isn't real, you fall right down! I see now your reasons for claiming and
handing together, aside from the need of such a step because of persecr
ti' n and oppression. For that* purpose you do not use your strengtn
enough. From a psychological standpoint, one is almost forced into it; you
can never be quite sure just how the other party feels. Before I was alive
to all this. I was happily comfortable. Cod knows whether you have done
well or ill. I am net content to stay as you have placed me. I want my
friends regardless of creed or nationality. I want them to feel the sam
toward me as my other friends surelv vou have exaggerated!


I'm afraid it's too true. You'll encounter it often.

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Online LibraryOctavine Lopez DreebenThe choice; a play in three acts → online text (page 1 of 4)