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FELIX FEJEVARY, the Second (his son, a Harvard student)

FELIX FEJEVARY, the Second (a banker)

SENATOR LEWIS (a State Senator)

HORACE FEJEVARY (son of FELIX FEJEVARY, the Second)

DORIS (a student at Morton College)

FUSSIE (another college girl)

MADELINE FEJEVARY MORTON (daughter of IRA MORTON, and granddaughter of
SILAS MORTON)

ISABEL FEJEVARY (wife of FELIX FEJEVARY, the Second, and MADELINE'S
aunt)

HARRY (a student clerk)

HOLDEN (Professor at Morton College)

IRA MORTON (son of SILAS MORTON, and MADELINE'S father)

EMIL JOHNSON (an Americanized Swede)


ACT I


SCENE: _Sitting-room of the Mortons' farmhouse in the Middle West - on
the rolling prairie just back from the Mississippi. A room that has been
long and comfortably lived in, and showing that first-hand contact with
materials which was pioneer life. The hospitable table was made on the
place - well and strongly made; there are braided rugs, and the wooden
chairs have patchwork cushions. There is a corner closet - left rear. A
picture of Abraham Lincoln. On the floor a home-made toy boat. At rise
of curtain there are on the stage an old woman and a young man._
GRANDMOTHER MORTON _is in her rocking-chair near the open door, facing
left. On both sides of door are windows, looking out on a generous land.
She has a sewing basket and is patching a boy's pants. She is very old.
Her hands tremble. Her spirit remembers the days of her strength._

SMITH _has just come in and, hat in hand, is standing by the table. This
was lived in the year 1879, afternoon of Fourth of July._

SMITH: But the celebration was over two hours ago.

GRANDMOTHER: Oh, celebration, that's just the beginning of it. Might as
well set down. When them boys that fought together all get in one
square - they have to swap stories all over again. That's the worst of a
war - you have to go on hearing about it so long. Here it is - 1879 - and
we haven't taken Gettysburg yet. Well, it was the same way with the war
of 1832.

SMITH: (_who is now seated at the table_) The war of 1832?

GRANDMOTHER: News to you that we had a war with the Indians?

SMITH: That's right - the Blackhawk war. I've heard of it.

GRANDMOTHER: Heard of it!

SMITH: Were your men in that war?

GRANDMOTHER: I was in that war. I threw an Indian in the cellar and
stood on the door. I was heavier then.

SMITH: Those were stirring times.

GRANDMOTHER: More stirring than you'll ever see. This war - Lincoln's
war - it's all a cut and dried business now. We used to fight with
anything we could lay hands on - dish water - whatever was handy.

SMITH: I guess you believe the saying that the only good Indian is a
dead Indian.

GRANDMOTHER: I dunno. We roiled them up considerable. They was mostly
friendly when let be. Didn't want to give up their land - but I've
noticed something of the same nature in white folks.

SMITH: Your son has - something of that nature, hasn't he?

GRANDMOTHER: He's not keen to sell. Why should he? It'll never be worth
less.

SMITH: But since he has more land than any man can use, and if he gets
his price -

GRANDMOTHER: That what you've come to talk to him about?

SMITH: I - yes.

GRANDMOTHER: Well, you're not the first. Many a man older than you has
come to argue it.

SMITH: (_smiling_) They thought they'd try a young one.

GRANDMOTHER: Some one that knew him thought that up. Silas'd help a
young one if he could. What is it you're set on buying?

SMITH: Oh, I don't know that we're set on buying anything. If we could
have the hill (_looking off to the right_) at a fair price -

GRANDMOTHER: The hill above the town? Silas'd rather sell me and the
cat.

SMITH: But what's he going to do with it?

GRANDMOTHER: Maybe he's going to climb it once a week.

SMITH: But if the development of the town demands its use -

GRANDMOTHER: (_smiling_) You the development of the town?

SMITH: I represent it. This town has been growing so fast -

GRANDMOTHER: This town began to grow the day I got here.

SMITH: You - you began it?

GRANDMOTHER: My husband and I began it - and our baby Silas.

SMITH: When was that?

GRANDMOTHER: 1820, that was.

SMITH: And - you mean you were here all alone?

GRANDMOTHER: No, we weren't alone. We had the Owens ten miles down the
river.

SMITH: But how did you get here?

GRANDMOTHER: Got here in a wagon, how do you s'pose? (_gaily_) Think we
flew?

SMITH: But wasn't it unsafe?

GRANDMOTHER: Them set on safety stayed back in Ohio.

SMITH: But one family! I should think the Indians would have wiped you
out.

GRANDMOTHER: The way they wiped us out was to bring fish and corn. We'd
have starved to death that first winter hadn't been for the Indians.

SMITH: But they were such good neighbours - why did you throw dish water
at them?

GRANDMOTHER: That was after other white folks had roiled them up - white
folks that didn't know how to treat 'em. This very land - land you want
to buy - was the land they loved - Blackhawk and his Indians. They came
here for their games. This was where their fathers - as they called
'em - were buried. I've seen my husband and Blackhawk climb that hill
together. (_a backward point right_) He used to love that
hill - Blackhawk. He talked how the red man and the white man could live
together. But poor old Blackhawk - what he didn't know was how many white
man there was. After the war - when he was beaten but not conquered in
his heart - they took him east - Washington, Philadelphia, New York - and
when he saw the white man's cities - it was a different Indian came back.
He just let his heart break without ever turning a hand.

SMITH: But we paid them for their lands. (_she looks at him_) Paid them
something.

GRANDMOTHER: Something. For fifteen million acres of this Mississippi
Valley land - best on this globe, we paid two thousand two hundred and
thirty-four dollars and fifty cents, and promised to deliver annually
goods to the value of one thousand dollars. Not a fancy price - even for
them days, (_children's voices are heard outside. She leans forward and
looks through the door, left_) Ira! Let that cat be!

SMITH: (_looking from the window_) These, I suppose, are your
grandchildren?

GRANDMOTHER: The boy's my grandson. The little girl is Madeline
Fejevary - Mr Fejevary's youngest child.

SMITH: The Fejevary place adjoins on this side? (_pointing right, down_)

GRANDMOTHER: Yes. We've been neighbours ever since the Fejevarys came
here from Hungary after 1848. He was a count at home - and he's a man of
learning. But he was a refugee because he fought for freedom in his
country. Nothing Silas could do for him was too good. Silas sets great
store by learning - and freedom.

SMITH: (_thinking of his own project, looking off toward the hill - the
hill is not seen from the front_) I suppose then Mr Fejevary has great
influence with your son?

GRANDMOTHER: More 'an anybody. Silas thinks 'twas a great thing for our
family to have a family like theirs next place to. Well - so 'twas, for
we've had no time for the things their family was brought up on. Old Mrs
Fejevary (_with her shrewd smile_) - she weren't stuck up - but she did
have an awful ladylike way of feeding the chickens. Silas thinks - oh, my
son has all kinds of notions - though a harder worker never found his bed
at night.

SMITH: And Mr Fejevary - is he a veteran too?

GRANDMOTHER: (_dryly_) You don't seem to know these parts well - for one
that's all stirred up about the development of the town. Yes - Felix
Fejevary and Silas Morton went off together, down that road (_motioning
with her hand, right_) - when them of their age was wanted. Fejevary came
back with one arm less than he went with. Silas brought home everything
he took - and something he didn't. Rheumatiz. So now they set more store
by each other 'an ever. Seems nothing draws men together like killing
other men. (_a boy's voice teasingly imitating a cat_) Madeline, make
Ira let that cat be. (_a whoop from the girl - a boy's whoop_)
(_looking_) There they go, off for the creek. If they set in it - (_seems
about to call after them, gives this up_) Well, they're not the first.

(_rather dreams over this_)

SMITH: You must feel as if you pretty near owned this country.

GRANDMOTHER: We worked. A country don't make itself. When the sun was up
we were up, and when the sun went down we didn't. (_as if this renews
the self of those days_) Here - let me set out something for you to eat.
(_gets up with difficulty_)

SMITH: Oh, no, please - never mind. I had something in town before I came
out.

GRANDMOTHER: Dunno as that's any reason you shouldn't have something
here.

(_She goes off, right; he stands at the door, looking toward the hill
until she returns with a glass of milk, a plate of cookies._)

SMITH: Well, this looks good.

GRANDMOTHER: I've fed a lot of folks - take it by and large. I didn't
care how many I had to feed in the daytime - what's ten or fifteen more
when you're up and around. But to get up - after sixteen hours on your
feet - _I_ was willin', but my bones complained some.

SMITH: But did you - keep a tavern?

GRANDMOTHER: Keep a tavern? I guess we did. Every house is a tavern when
houses are sparse. You think the way to settle a country is to go on
ahead and build hotels? That's all you folks know. Why, I never went to
bed without leaving something on the stove for the new ones that might
be coming. And we never went away from home without seein' there was
a-plenty for them that might stop.

SMITH: They'd come right in and take your food?

GRANDMOTHER: What else could they do? There was a woman I always wanted
to know. She made a kind of bread I never had before - and left a-plenty
for our supper when we got back with the ducks and berries. And she left
the kitchen handier than it had ever been. I often wondered about
her - where she came from, and where she went, (_as she dreams over this
there is laughing and talking at the side of the house_) There come the
boys.

(MR FEJEVARY _comes in, followed by_ SILAS MORTON. _They are men not far
from sixty, wearing their army uniforms, carrying the muskets they used
in the parade_. FEJEVARY _has a lean, distinguished face, his dark eyes
are penetrating and rather wistful. The left sleeve of his old uniform
is empty_. SILAS MORTON _is a strong man who has borne the burden of the
land, and not for himself alone - the pioneer. Seeing the stranger, he
sets his musket against the wall and holds out his hand to him, as_ MR
FEJEVARY _goes up to_ GRANDMOTHER MORTON.)

SILAS: How do, stranger?

FEJEVARY: And how are you today, Mrs Morton?

GRANDMOTHER: I'm not abed - and don't expect to be.

SILAS: (_letting go of the balloons he has bought_) Where's Ira? and
Madeline?

GRANDMOTHER: Mr Fejevary's Delia brought them home with her. They've
gone down to dam the creek, I guess. This young man's been waiting to
see you, Silas.

SMITH: Yes, I wanted to have a little talk with you.

SILAS: Well, why not? (_he is tying the gay balloons to his gun, then as
he talks, hangs his hat in the corner closet_) We've been having a
little talk ourselves. Mother, Nat Rice was there. I've not seen Nat
Rice since the day we had to leave him on the road with his torn
leg - him cursing like a pirate. I wanted to bring him home, but he had
to go back to Chicago. His wife's dead, mother.

GRANDMOTHER: Well, I guess she's not sorry.

SILAS: Why, mother.

GRANDMOTHER: 'Why, mother.' Nat Rice is a mean, stingy, complaining
man - his leg notwithstanding. Where'd you leave the folks?

SILAS: Oh - scattered around. Everybody visitin' with anybody that'll
visit with them. Wish you could have gone.

GRANDMOTHER: I've heard it all. (_to_ FEJEVARY) Your folks well?

FEJEVARY: All well, Mrs Morton. And my boy Felix is home. He'll stop in
here to see you by and by.

SILAS: Oh, he's a fine-looking boy, mother. And think of what he knows!
(_cordially including the young man_) Mr Fejevary's son has been to
Harvard College.

SMITH: Well, well - quite a trip. Well, Mr Morton, I hope this is not a
bad time for me to - present a little matter to you?

SILAS: (_genially_) That depends, of course, on what you're going to
present. (_attracted by a sound outside_) Mind if I present a little
matter to your horse? Like to uncheck him so's he can geta a bit
o'grass.

SMITH: Why - yes. I suppose he would like that.

SILAS: (_going out_) You bet he'd like it. Wouldn't you, old boy?

SMITH: Your son is fond of animals.

GRANDMOTHER: Lots of people's fond of 'em - and good to 'em. Silas - I
dunno, it's as if he was that animal.

FEJEVARY: He has imagination.

GRANDMOTHER: (_with surprise_) Think so?

SILAS: (_returning and sitting down at the table by the young man_) Now,
what's in your mind, my boy?

SMITH: This town is growing very fast, Mr Morton.

SILAS: Yes. (_slyly - with humour_) I know that.

SMITH: I presume you, as one of the early settlers - as in fact a son of
the earliest settler, feel a certain responsibility about the welfare
of -

SILAS: I haven't got in mind to do the town a bit of harm. So - what's
your point?

SMITH: More people - more homes. And homes must be in the healthiest
places - the - the most beautiful places. Isn't it true, Mr Fejevary, that
it means a great deal to people to have a beautiful outlook from their
homes? A - well, an expanse.

SILAS: What is it they want to buy - these fellows that are figuring on
making something out of - expanse? (_a gesture for expanse, then a
reassuring gesture_) It's all right, but - just what is it?

SMITH: I am prepared to make you an offer - a gilt-edged offer for that
(_pointing toward it_) hill above the town.

SILAS: (_shaking his head - with the smile of the strong man who is a
dreamer_) The hill is not for sale.

SMITH: But wouldn't you consider a - particularly good offer, Mr Morton?

(SILAS, _who has turned so he can look out at the hill, slowly shakes
his head_.)

SMITH: Do you feel you have the right - the moral right to hold it?

SILAS: It's not for myself I'm holding it.

SMITH: Oh, - for the children?

SILAS: Yes, the children.

SMITH: But - if you'll excuse me - there are other investments might do
the children even more good.

SILAS: This seems to me - the best investment.

SMITH: But after all there are other people's children to consider.

SILAS: Yes, I know. That's it.

SMITH: I wonder if I understand you, Mr Morton?

SILAS: (_kindly_) I don't believe you do. I don't see how you could. And
I can't explain myself just now. So - the hill is not for sale. I'm not
making anybody homeless. There's land enough for all - all sides round.
But the hill -

SMITH: (_rising_) Is yours.

SILAS: You'll see.

SMITH: I am prepared to offer you -

SILAS: You're not prepared to offer me anything I'd consider alongside
what I am considering. So - I wish you good luck in your business
undertakings.

SMITH: Sorry - you won't let us try to help the town.

SILAS: Don't sit up nights worrying about my chokin' the town.

SMITH: We could make you a rich man, Mr Morton. Do you think what you
have in mind will make you so much richer?

SILAS: Much richer.

SMITH: Well, good-bye. Good day, sir. Good day, ma'am.

SILAS: (_following him to the door_) Nice horse you've got.

SMITH: Yes, seems all right.

(SILAS _stands in the doorway and looks off at the hill_.)

GRANDMOTHER: What are you going to do with the hill, Silas?

SILAS: After I get a little glass of wine - to celebrate Felix and me
being here instead of farther south - I'd like to tell you what I want
for the hill. (_to_ FEJEVARY _rather bashfully_) I've been wanting to
tell you.

FEJEVARY: I want to know.

SILAS: (_getting the wine from the closet_) Just a little something to
show our gratitude with.

(_Goes off right for glasses_.)

GRANDMOTHER: I dunno. Maybe it'd be better to sell the hill - while
they're anxious.

FEJEVARY: He seems to have another plan for it.

GRANDMOTHER: Yes. Well, I hope the other plan does bring him something.
Silas has worked - all the days of his life.

FEJEVARY: I know.

GRANDMOTHER: You don't know the hull of it. But I know. (_rather to
herself_) Know too well to think about it.

GRANDMOTHER: (_as_ SILAS _returns_) I'll get more cookies.

SILAS: I'll get them, mother.

GRANDMOTHER: Get 'em myself. Pity if a woman can't get out her own
cookies.

SILAS: (_seeing how hard it is for her_) I wish mother would let us do
things for her.

FEJEVARY: That strength is a flame frailness can't put out. It's a great
thing for us to have her, - this touch with the life behind us.

SILAS: Yes. And it's a great thing for us to have you - who can see those
things and say them. What a lot I'd 'a' missed if I hadn't had what
you've seen.

FEJEVARY: Oh, you only think that because you've got to be generous.

SILAS: I'm not generous. _I'm_ seeing something now. Something about
you. I've been thinking of it a good deal lately - it's got something to
do with - with the hill. I've been thinkin' what it's meant all these
years to have a family like yours next place to. They did something
pretty nice for the corn belt when they drove you out of Hungary.
Funny - how things don't end the way they begin. I mean, what begins
don't end. It's another thing ends. Set out to do something for your own
country - and maybe you don't quite do the thing you set out to do -

FEJEVARY: No.

SILAS: But do something for a country a long way off.

FEJEVARY: I'm afraid I've not done much for any country.

SILAS: (_brusquely_) Where's your left arm - may I be so bold as to
inquire? Though your left arm's nothing alongside - what can't be
measured.

FEJEVARY: When I think of what I dreamed as a young man - it seems to me
my life has failed.

SILAS: (_raising his glass_) Well, if your life's failed - I like
failure.

(GRANDMOTHER MORTON _returns with her cookies_.)

GRANDMOTHER: There's two kinds - Mr Fejevary. These have seeds in 'em.

FEJEVARY: Thank you. I'll try a seed cookie first.

SILAS: Mother, you'll have a glass of wine?

GRANDMOTHER: I don't need wine.

SILAS: Well, I don't know as we need it.

GRANDMOTHER: No, I don't know as you do. But I didn't go to war.

FEJEVARY: Then have a little wine to celebrate that.

GRANDMOTHER: Well, just a mite to warm me up. Not that it's cold.
(FEJEVARY _brings it to her, and the cookies_) The Indians used to like
cookies. I was talking to that young whippersnapper about the Indians.
One time I saw an Indian watching me from a bush, (_points_) Right out
there. I was never afraid of Indians when you could see the whole of
'em - but when you could see nothin' but their bright eyes - movin'
through leaves - I declare they made me nervous. After he'd been there an
hour I couldn't seem to put my mind on my work. So I thought, Red or
White, a man's a man - I'll take him some cookies.

FEJEVARY: It succeeded?

GRANDMOTHER: So well that those leaves had eyes next day. But he brought
me a fish to trade. He was a nice boy.

SILAS: Probably we killed him.

GRANDMOTHER: I dunno. Maybe he killed us. Will Owens' family was
massacred just after this. Like as not my cookie Indian helped out
there. Something kind of uncertain about the Indians.

SILAS: I guess they found something kind of uncertain about us.

GRANDMOTHER: Six o' one and half a dozen of another. Usually is.

SILAS: (_to_ FEJEVARY) I wonder if I'm wrong. You see, I never went to
school -

GRANDMOTHER: I don't know why you say that, Silas. There was two winters
you went to school.

SILAS: Yes, mother, and I'm glad I did, for I learned to read there, and
liked the geography globe. It made the earth so nice to think about. And
one day the teacher told us all about the stars, and I had that to think
of when I was driving at night. The other boys didn't believe it was so.
But I knew it was so! But I mean school - the way Mr Fejevary went to
school. He went to universities. In his own countries - in other
countries. All the things men have found out, the wisest and finest
things men have thought since first they began to think - all that was
put before them.

FEJEVARY: (_with a gentle smile_) I fear I left a good deal of it
untouched.

SILAS: You took a plenty. Tell in your eyes you've thought lots about
what's been thought. And that's what I was setting out to say. It makes
something of men - learning. A house that's full of books makes a
different kind of people. Oh, of course, if the books aren't there just
to show off.

GRANDMOTHER: Like in Mary Baldwin's new house.

SILAS: (_trying hard to see it_) It's not the learning itself - it's the
life that grows up from learning. Learning's like soil. Like - like
fertilizer. Get richer. See more. Feel more. You believe that?

FEJEVARY: Culture should do it.

SILAS: Does in your house. You somehow know how it is for the other
fellow more'n we do.

GRANDMOTHER: Well, Silas Morton, when you've your wood to chop an' your
water to carry, when you kill your own cattle and hogs, tend your own
horses and hens, make your butter, soap, and cook for whoever the Lord
sends - there's none too many hours of the day left to be polite in.

SILAS: You're right, mother. It had to be that way. But now that we buy
our soap - we don't want to say what soap-making made us.

GRANDMOTHER: We're honest.

SILAS: Yes. In a way. But there's another kind o' honesty, seems to me,
goes with that more seein' kind of kindness. Our honesty with the
Indians was little to brag on.

GRANDMOTHER: You fret more about the Indians than anybody else does.

SILAS: To look out at that hill sometimes makes me ashamed.

GRANDMOTHER: Land sakes, you didn't do it. It was the government. And
what a government does is nothing for a person to be ashamed of.

SILAS: I don't know about that. Why is _he_ here? Why is Felix Fejevary
not rich and grand in Hungary to-day? 'Cause he was ashamed of what his
government was.

GRANDMOTHER: Well, that was a foreign government.

SILAS: A seeing how 'tis for the other person - _a bein'_ that other
person, kind of honesty. Joke of it, 'twould do something for _you_.
'Twould 'a' done something for us to have _been_ Indians a little more.
My father used to talk about Blackhawk - they was friends. I saw
Blackhawk once - when I was a boy. (_to_ FEJEVARY) Guess I told you. You
know what he looked like? He looked like the great of the earth. Noble.
Noble like the forests - and the Mississippi - and the stars. His face was
long and thin and you could see the bones, and the bones were beautiful.
Looked like something that's never been caught. He was something many
nights in his canoe had made him. Sometimes I feel that the land itself
has got a mind that the land would rather have had the Indians.

GRANDMOTHER: Well, don't let folks hear you say it. They'd think you was
plum crazy.

SILAS: I s'pose they would, (_turning to_ FEJEVARY) But after you've
walked a long time over the earth - and you all alone, didn't you ever
feel something coming up from it that's like thought?

FEJEVARY: I'm afraid I never did. But - I wish I had.

SILAS: I love land - this land. I suppose that's why I never have the
feeling that I own it.

GRANDMOTHER: If you don't own it - I want to know! What do you think we
come here for - your father and me? What do you think we left our folks
for - left the world of white folks - schools and stores and doctors, and
set out in a covered wagon for we didn't know what? We lost a horse.
Lost our way - weeks longer than we thought 'twould be. You were born in
that covered wagon. You know that. But what you don't know is what
_that's_ like - without your own roof - or fire - without -

(_She turns her face away._)

SILAS: No. No, mother, of course not. Now - now isn't this too bad? I
don't say things right. It's because I never went to school.

GRANDMOTHER: (_her face shielded_) You went to school two winters.

SILAS: Yes. Yes, mother. So I did. And I'm glad I did.

GRANDMOTHER: (_with the determination of one who will not have her own
pain looked at_) Mrs Fejevary's pansy bed doing well this summer?

FEJEVARY: It's beautiful this summer. She was so pleased with the new
purple kind you gave her. I do wish you could get over to see them.

GRANDMOTHER: Yes. Well, I've seen lots of pansies. Suppose it was pretty
fine-sounding speeches they had in town?

FEJEVARY: Too fine-sounding to seem much like the war.

SILAS: I'd like to go to a war celebration where they never mentioned
war. There'd be a way to celebrate victory, (_hearing a step, looking
out_) Mother, here's Felix.

(FELIX, _a well-dressed young man, comes in_.)

GRANDMOTHER: How do, Felix?

FELIX: And how do you do, Grandmother Morton?


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