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The Bolshevists; a comedy drama online

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A Comedy Drama



Author of

"The Toiler in Europe," "Billy Justin Series,
"Capture the Courts," etc.


Copyright 1921 by


All Rights Reserved


A Comedy Drama


Four Acts Three Settings


Americans, take heed. Bolshevism is at our door and
threatens us with its plague. It is in the mansion as well
as the gutter.

"And therefore think him as a Serpent s egg,

Which, hatch d, would as his kind grow mischievous ;

And kill him in the shell."

Live love and patriotism, that we may hand down to our
posterity the blessings of a free America.


SCENE A reception room at the Fulsom residence.
TIME Afternoon.


SCENE An office in the business establishment of Mr.

TIME Six weeks later.


SCENE A typical radical reading room on lower east side,
New York City.

TIME Four months later.


SCENE Same as Act I.
TIME The next morning.


WILLIAM C. JUSTIN a plumber. Saw service in Europe.

Spokesman of the Labor Committee and a Comrade

in the New Republic.
WILSON the butler.
JEANNETTE the maid.
MARY McGiNNis the cook.
ROBERT FULSOM of Fulsom & Company, wholesale

plumbers supplies, who made millions in the war.
AMY FULSOM his daughter with a democratic vision.
HAROLD KINGSTON a rich New York idler.


,. , \- Committee or Employers




Louis MENDEL ~ .^ , ^

V Committee of Employees.

ANNY SAMPSON Secretary of the

New Republic.



Comrades in



DR. CHARLES REED physician and author. Recently re
turned from a four year Red Cross Service in Russia,
with first hand information on Bolshevism.









Scene : Reception room at the Fulsom home, drawing
room to the right where men and women are playing

(As the curtain goes up, the door bell rings.)

MAID: (Addressing the butler.) I hope it is the plumber

BUTLER: If it hain t, me for a life preserver.

MAID : You don t need any, you can float.

BUTLER : Ow habout you, pretty Miss ?

MAID : I should worry, I am an ensign in the Swiss navy.
(Butler leaves and comes back and announces the
presence of Mrs. Fisher and Mr. Kingston. Butler
and maid retire. Amy Fulsom enters.)

MRS. FISHER: I must apologize, Amy, for being rather
late so unusual of me, don t you know, but

KINGSTON : I really must apologize too.

AMY : No excuses. You are late and that is all.

MRS. FISHER: My machine was halted because some work-
fellow or somebody like that was struck down by an
automobile while crossing the road.

KINGSTON : Yes, it was a horrid sight. It was deucedly

AMY : Isn t that too bad. Poor soul ! How unfortunate.


MRS. FISHER : Yes, it took my time. You know how those
traffic policemen are. They would not let traffic pass
until they had gotten the names of witnesses and gone
into full details of the accident. I suppose the fellow
left a widow and a brood of children. These work-
fellows never leave anything but a lot of children.

KINGSTON : Very clever, very clever. Never thought of
that. Leave nothing but children.

AMY : I will forgive you both this time. Besides, Mildred,
you have some excuse. Did you find out what hospital
they took him to? But what about you, Harold, what
detained you?

KINGSTON : Well, you see I was waiting for my valet. It
was his part afternoon off.

MRS. FISHER: Harold, your excuse seems valid but mine
is beastly luck, spoiling my whole day. This morning
at my nasty lawyer s, trying to hurry my divorce. These
lawyers ! if you lie, they want you to tell the truth, and
if you tell the truth, they want you to lie. Evidence!
Evidence! I am all nervous and exhausted. Anyway,
your father is more impatient about it than I. (She
applies her kerchief to her eyes, affecting tears.} How
do I look?

AMY: Now, Mildred, you are all right. You look sweet.
Besides, Father telephoned that he will be late himself.
He may not be here for another half hour.

MRS. FISHER : There again. Always business, business. These
busy men don t seem to understand that our pleasure
is as much their business as the making of contracts,
and that keeping appointments with us requires just
as much punctuality as those of business.

AMY: Do you know who is here, Mildred?

MRS. FISHER: No, why should I? Who is it?


AMY: Why, Doctor Reed. He is just back from Russia
and tells the most interesting things. I love to hear
him talk. Do come in.

(Exit Mrs. Fisher, Kingston, and Amy into the card
room. The maid and butler enter the reception room.)

COOK S VOICE: (From kitchen) I shure will be drowned
here unless that divil of a plumber gits here pretty
soon. It is a bathen suit I will be afther havin pretty
soon if that plumber don t come.

MAID: (To butler) Wilson, do telephone the shop once
more and see why the plumber doesn t come.

BUTLER : Hi presume he is ambulating. Ow these plumbers
can ambulate. I really believe the original tortoise was
a plumber.

(Door bell rings. Butler answers the door and is de
tained. Maid (business.) (Chattering in the card

BUTLER: (Returning and addressing the maid) What do
you know about hit? Ere is the plumber man and is
elper with their dirty clothes and tools, and Hi basked
them hif they didn t know what the kitchen door was
for and the plumberman, a sharp tongued fellow, said
hit was for butlers and not for plumbers. The hidea.
I won t let them in.

MAID : If you don t, we re drowned. (She hastily opens the
door to the card room.) Miss Fulsom, may I see you
a moment? (Enter Amy.)

AMY: What seems to be the matter?

BUTLER: There are two fellows with their dirty clothes
and tools who insist upon entering by the front door.
Hi told im that the front door was only for ladies and
gentlemen, and E said that is the reason they came
that way. The hidea, the hidea.


COOK: (Voice from kitchen.) For the love of Moike, I will
be afther hirin a boat pretty soon if that divil of a
plumber don t come and sthop the wather.

AMY: Wilson, let them in.

(Butler leaves and enters with William Justin and
Donald McDonald. McDonald is overcome with awe
and looks about ^vhile William Justin trains himself
to be natural amid the luxurious surroundings.}


JUSTIN: (To McDonald) Never mind, Sandy. (To Amy.)
I beg your pardon, lady. Are you the mistress of this

AMY: (Impatiently.) I am.


JUSTIN : Sandy, chase the pew-angel. Let him show you
what needs repairing. (Exit McDonald following the

AMY : Why did you not enter by way of the rear door when
the butler asked you to? (Exit maid)

JUSTIN: Madam, I beg your pardon, but when one sends
for a physician, or minister, he enters by the front
door. Why? Because each one of these gentlemen
is a member of a profession. So am I. I too have a
profession. I am not begging for work. You asked
me or rather my employer to send me here to do a
piece of work for you, so I come.

AMY : But that is different. You don t seem to understand ;
the physician and the minister are gentlemen of edu
cation, of high profession. Yours is a trade.

JUSTIN : A doctor may merely practice a trade, likewise a
minister. But some doctors and ministers turn their
trades into professions. Not the vocation itself but
society determines what is a trade or profession. I


am a producer. To the producer not only belongs
the right to yes, the front door itself. But be that
as it may, do you observe what I am wearing?

AMY : Yes, of course, the overcoat of a soldier.

JUSTIN : With that uniform, you should not expect me to
enter by any other way.

AMY : Why, of course not. You must excuse me. I really
did not mean it in that way but in war, things were
different. We were all different in war.

JUSTIN : That is just it. We were not different. We were
and are the same but some pretended to be different. I
take it that you and your friends and acquaintances
did a lot of Red Cross work and entertained in a
social way the sailors and soldiers.

AMY : Why, of course. W T e felt it our duty. I know I
was proud to do my duty, my full duty, although in my
set, we entertained only officers.

JUSTIN : That is it. You entertained us to urge us on, to
make us feel that we were becoming one people with
one thought, a new kind of democracy, all Ameri
cans for America, the rich and the poor together, each
for the other, for America. We went away with
ocean waves of handkerchiefs, to thrilling music. The
newspapers wrote columns and we fought. Good
God! Well, some of us came back amid a noisy recep
tion but after that, to the street, with the freedom to
hunt for a job. Heroes, the common fate of heroes.

AMY : I am sorry I affected you that way. I am sure I did
not mean to be impolite to you. I did my bit in this
war, too. I did all that I could do and all that I was
asked to do. I am sorry but how could that be helped ?
The stream of life covets no favorites. You are not
one of those men who believe that everything should
be divided up, I hope.


JUSTIN : I am worse than that. Poverty drove me from
school when a mere lad to take up my profession, my
trade. I was taught to look up to success. I believed
that doctrine, I worshipped at its shrine. I started to
climb, content with all risks and I did climb. Then
the war came. I sacrificed all and volunteered.

AMY : Yes, that was every man s duty.

JUSTIN : But how about the men who have stayed behind
and profiteered ? Have they done their duty too ? A Mr.
Fulsom from whom I used to purchase my supplies
made millions on the rising war market and

AMY : Sir ! Mr. Fulsom is my father.

JUSTIN : I did not know. However, what is true of your
father, is true of many, many men in business. Does
it seem to you to be fair that they who went to war
should be the losers, while they who stayed behind
are gainers?

AMY: No, it is not -exactly right, but you seem so strangely
embittered. Surely you bear no one hatred. There
must be a reason which perhaps I fail to grasp. I
wish 1 understood you. I have never heard any other
soldier talk that way.

JUSTIN : Yes, and had you entertained me, condescendingly,
dutifully, and patriotically as hundreds of other girls
of your station entertained the soldiers before their
departure, you would have found me just like the rest
of them. But the change came not over there but over
here. I listened to talks and lectures. I saw and now,
having fought for democracy, I want if.

AMY : Is it possible that you have humiliated the unif orm
that you have worn, compromised the soldier s over
coat that you are wearing, by attending meetings where
Bolshevism is preached?


(Sandy McDonald sticks his head in and stutters)

SANDY : Ah ah. H B Billy c come

JUSTIN: Excuse me, Miss. (Walks away.)

AMY: (Haughtily.) You may be excused.

(Exit Justin. Amy is excited and perturbed over the
conversation just engaged in and is seised with a feel
ing of fear that Justin is a dangerous character. She
opens the door to the card room.)

AMY : Oh, Dr. Reed. Won t you come here for a second ?
(Enter Dr. Reed.)

DR. REED : What is it, Amy ?

AMY : Dr. Reed, do you know there is a Bolshevist in our

DR. REED : Who is that ? Where is he ?

AMY : Working upon the drains.

DR. REDD: Urn hum. That is interesting.

AMY: He speaks in strange, unreasonable terms. Really,
Doctor, I am a little alarmed.

DR. REED: I am interested and should like very much to
meet him.

AMY: You will if he returns as he came. He is a soldier,
with a feeling of class resentment. If that is our
soldiers thought, it forebodes something that is not for
rest and peace.

DR. REED: (Taking Amy by the hand. They are seated.)
Amy, do you realize that soul is the source of thought?
So, what we think, we feel, and what we feel, we think.
You know there are many who believe that thought is
separate from matter.

AMY : I don t quite understand you, Doctor.

DR. REED : But you will understand me for I am leading up
to the consideration of this young man. He feels
what he has been thinking, and has been thinking what


he feels, and it is far better that he speak his thoughts
than to keep them to himself. You prick your finger.
Later you feel a throbbing pain. That tells you
just as the sun tells that it is day that there is germ
infection. The way for relief is to open the wound
and drain the infection. If it is not too deep, the wound
will soon heal. If not controlled, it may travel so
rapidly as to cause death. So this soldier of ours, this
one time patriot, has become infected with the genii
of injustice and his soul is throbbing with it. Let him
speak it out, it is his constitutional medicine, and by
so doing, he may yet cure himself.

AMY : Doctor, perhaps my view point has been a little nar
row and somewhat intolerant.
DR. REED : The passport to wisdom.
AMY: Then there is a cure for all of us?
DR. REED: Yes, for every sane patient. I have seen this
plague in Russia and observed perfectly normal men,
with normal wants and desires, driven by the hunger
for bread or with desire for the hasty re-adjustment
of things, and some maddened with the memory of
those they lost, until today Russia is chaos. Infection
is no respecter of rank, society, or government. It
carries the human body to the door of death. So does
it carry the government to the door of anarchy. Like
all isms, it is cradled in the far back tradition of ideal

AMY: Could idealism foster such a monster?
DR. REED: It is not the fault of the thought as much as of
the men, the times and the circumstances that offered
it opportunity for its immediate power. The word
itself means majority the majority of the radical
wing of the socialist or the left movement in Russia.


Under the tyranny of the Czar, they were idealists. In
possession of power, they become the worst of tyrants,
an idealism gone wild.

AMY : Is there no hope, no redemption ?

DR. REED: There is always a hope for the reclaiming of a
lost soul.

AMY: But miracles are not of this age.

DR. REED : This is an age of reason. Bolshevism once stood
for evolution, the slow natural trend toward progress,
but it has become a revolution toward the great evolu
tion instead of the evolution toward the great revolu
tion. So you see, my dear, a bad case of infection.
But here in America, it is the first touch of a fresh
scratch and our young soldier friend has the taint.

AMY : I want to hear more of this but I fear it is impolite
to leave our company for so long.
(Enter Justin.}

JUSTIN : Well, the job is done.

DR. REED: (To Amy} Amy.

AMY: I beg your pardon. Your name please?

JUSTIN : Justin.

AMY: (Extending her hand.} I am pleased to know you.
Dr. Reed, Mr. Justin.

DR. REED : How do you do, Mr. Justin. (They shake hands.)

JUSTIN : Doctor, I am glad to meet you. I have been read
ing a Doctor Reed s book on Russia.

DR. REED : I am the man. I understand you have seen duty

JUSTIN : Yes, for nearly fourteen months.

DR. REED : And I take it you were in action ?

JUSTIN : Yes, Doctor. I saw some action in the Argonne
Forest, and at one sector of Verdun, and had a peep
at it in Italy.


DR. REED : Have you been wounded ?

JUSTIN: Yes, peppered a little twice, besides tasting their

DR. REED: Did you leave this country as a sergeant?

JUSTIN : I got my chevrons over there for a bit of good
luck at Argonne but that don t do a fellow much good
now, medals, rewards, and bravery.

DR. REED: Miss Fulsom infers that you are a student of

JUSTIN: No, but I am of economics, the mother field of

DR. REED : Please don t think me inquisitive, but may I ask,
are your views pronounced? By the way, why not be
seated ?
(Justin takes a seat. All are seated.}

AMY : How thoughtless of me not to have asked you before.

JUSTIN: Why, of course. I have nothing to conceal. I
am with no party. I disbelieve in all political parties,
which are either capitalistic or profess proletarianism
under the guise of capitalistic methods. I am for direct
action. The government is in need of complete re

DR. REED : Then shall we have here chaos like that of
Europe? Shall we have Spartacus rebellions, Soviet
revolutions, with their daily slaughter of the innocent
and helpless? Shall we have their graft, debauchery,
and bloodshed? Shall we just have a storm center, and
after the storm, what?

JUSTIN: Doctor, but what before the storm? Hungry men
may fear the law but they are no respecters of it.

DR. REED : Quite right, Mr. Justin, but do you stop to think
that when you are hungry, you cannot satiate your
hunger by preaching against a condition that brings


about hunger? The first natural and rational impulse
is to feed yourself and provide against a condition
where hunger shall not make itself known. An insane
man, though hungry, may refuse to eat. A rational
man, never.

JUSTIN : Yes, that is right, Doctor, but when a babe is hun
gry, it cries out. It recognizes the presence of no
guests, no hour of the night, or the occasion of no
event. The babe makes its hunger known by its cries,
and shall we, just because we are grown-ups, not cry
out? So, I am crying out against a damnable condition
that has brought about in me a hunger for justice or
rather a resentment against injustice.

DR. REED: You are quite right, quite right, Mr. Justin. I
quite agree with you. Perhaps I agree more than you
think for I have lived in it for four years. I have
seen all the horrors of the old injustice, and all those
of the new justice. I have seen men beheaded, exe
cuted, because they were deemed arch-tyrants of a past
tyrannical government, and have seen the very men
who fought against that tyranny, who beheaded the
tyrants in the name of justice, become more tyrannical,
more oppressive, than the tyrants of the old regime. I
say these things because men thinking in terms of
hunger may become beasts. Power is the first lust of
life and beasts have nothing but lust. When we find
that in man, it expresses itself in destruction, in the
taking of life, with nothing gained or accomplished.

AMY : Doctor, I am so glad you are here for you are able
to answer Mr. Justin.

DR. REED: (Patting Amy on the hand.} But you should be
able to answer for yourself. You see there is a good
deal in what this young man says. We are suffering


from injustice as I have already said, and we feel the
first scratch in this country. Mr. Justin is right, the
spirit of unrest is here. There is a growing restless
ness against this injustice social and industrial, and it
must be remedied, but it will not be remedied by class
hatred, by their drifting apart. I should say that
Bolshevists are the extremists, which includes many
of our rich. You, Amy, with your society are Bol

AMY: Really, Doctor, how

DR. REED: In that you think only in terms of yourself and
your society and stand ready to destroy any inter
ference incompatible with your society. Yet you are
intolerant against every other order of society. The
lady in the next block whose husband chanced to pick
up a fortune because of the war, knocks at the door of
your social set. You refuse her because she is a new
comer, a parvenu. She becomes a radical against your
order of society, hungering for a social recognition
which she thinks your society is capable of giving her.
If she cannot possess it, she at least will try to destroy
it a natural human impulse and if it were possible
to have a social rank higher than yourself, you likewise
would be radical toward that set. The spirit of in
justice runs through all strata of life. It is, in fact,
discontent. In a way, it is the soul of life for it is
the meat upon which ambition feeds. Those below
desire to go up. Those at the very height desire to
keep others from reaching their height. So you are
both extremists and as we now understand it, neither
builds nor constructs.
AMY: Doctor, what is your program?


DR. REED : The only remedy disinfect the scratch with
the dioxygen of common and mutual understanding and

JUSTIN : You are quite right, Doctor. We must have under
standing. People must know each other and to know
each other, they must understand each other s lives.

AMY: But how is it possible to understand the lives of all
people ?

DR. REED: There unconsciously, Mr. Justin, you have hit
the nail on the head and Amy, you too have opened the
way to what represents a possible solution. Gorky,
who always spoke as a hungry man to the hungry, in
one of his short stories, says : "Multitudes of them
crowded together, elbowing each other while there is
so much room on earth. Is a man really born for
nothing else but to pick the ground and t^die not even
having picked a grave for himself? DOTT^S^ know
what freedom is? Does he understand the vasffca^of
the steppe? Does the murmur of the wave gladdeh^ls
heart ? No ! He is a slave, in slavery born, and a
slave he remains all his life." "How is it possible not
to believe a man?" Konovalov, the baker and vagrant,
remarks after hearing an obviously untrue story. "Even
if you see he is lying, believe him, that is to say, listen
and try to understand why he is lying. A lie sometimes
explains a man much better than the truth. And in
general, what truth can we tell about ourselves? The
meanest one. Whereas a lie is always pleasant."

AMY : I do not quite see the application.

DR. REED : A man on the hill-top seldom understands or
sees the one down below in the valley, and he in the
valley seldom understands or sees him on the hilltop.
You, Amy, cannot understand the hungry soul made


hungrier by a hungry stomach, of the little girl strug
gling in the sweat-shop, and the girl in the sweat-shop
is unable to understand you. You are both far apart.
There must come an understanding and in order to
have that understanding, we must not only read of our
neighbors and lie about ourselves, but we must in part
experience theirs and fearlessly tell the unpleasant
truths about ourselves. The flower of love can only
blossom in the fields of common understanding. Mr.
Justin is quite right. There is social injustice. And
before we can criticise it correctly, we must not only
see and understand the social environs of the toiler,
but we must understand our own social environs.

AMY : Doctor, I am still waiting for the remedy.

DR. REED : That is very simple. I will prescribe the medi
cine for both. (Taking tiuo theatre tickets from his
pocket.} Mr. Justin, here are two seats for the opera
tomorrow evening Caruso in Aida at the Metro
politan. Take with you whom you please.

JUSTIN: I thank you, Doctor, but what has that to do with
social injustice? You know I do not believe in patent

DR. REED: Oh, I did not think you believed me a quack.
(He waved his hand to silence Justin ivho wanted to
speak}. You are like all extremists, impatient. Life
was not born of impatience. Your doctrine seeks to
disrupt life and expresses itself in terms of impatience.
All infection is impatient to spread out. I just want
you to hear the opera and see the audience and take
with you a pair of tolerant glasses. I hope we shall
meet again.

AMY : That is right, Doctor, if Mr. Justin goes there and
sees society, that will cure him of his unfortunate


radicalism and perhaps his glorious patriotism will come
back to him. I cannot help it for as the soldier man,
I admire Mr. Justin, but but as the radical man,
I fear him, perhaps I dislike him.


DR. REED: (laughingly} Let me speak first. I think you
are wrong, Amy. The opera will not fire him with the
kind of emotion that you think it will unless he should
by chance acquire rapidly a large amount of wealth

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Online LibraryWilliam Benjamin RubinThe Bolshevists; a comedy drama → online text (page 1 of 5)