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TIGER



BY



WITTER BYNNER



RI DER



J6-S'. MARTINS
COURT W- C



TIGER



TIGER

by WITTER BYNNER



RI DER




J6" S< MARTINS
COURT W- C-



LONDON

D. J. RIDER, 36. ST. MARTIN'S COURT, W.C.
1914



Fin i published in



TIGER



'Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Framed thy fearful symmetry?'



Tiger



Time: To-night.

Scene: A room in a house not far east of
Times Square. A curtained door at the back
of the stage leads into the hallway. A closed
door at the right leads into an inner bedroom.
The furniture and pictures are more showy
than expensive. The shades are drawn.

At the rise of the curtain, the keeper of the
house sits in an easy-chair. She is a woman
cf thirty-five, handsome, well-dressed. Her
familiars call her Tiger, on account of her
hard, lithe brilliance. She is looking over a
handful of bills and writing cheques with a
fountain-pen on the arm of the chair. On a
couch reclines Annabel, a girl of twenty-four,
beginning to fade under her paint, but an effec
tive type still, with her hair parted and drawn
simply over her forehead to a flat coil behind.

7



8 TIGER

She is in a loose, thin dressing-gown, reading
a novel, eating chocolates and smoking cigar
ettes. An ash-tray, cigarettes, chewing-gum
and the chocolates are on a chair beside the
couch. At a table across the room, a man of
thirty, with somewhat refined features, a sug
gestive pallor and flush, and a habit of biting
the skin on his red lips and of rubbing his
thumb over his finger-tips, is pouring himself
a glass of straight gin. He is over-dressed,
over-mannered and wears several bright rings,
but might pass with the young for a gentleman.
On account of what is known as his 'class,' he
has been dubbed The Baron.

ANNABEL.

Put water in it, Baron. Spare your liver.

BARON.

Mind your own liver and shut up, will you?

Whenever I want your dope, I'll ask for it.
[She returns to her reading. He gulps
his drink, then loiters toward Tiger. Sud
denly he sits on the arm of her chair,
catches her close and kisses her hard]



TIGER 9

TIGER.

[Pushing him away]
Cut out that stuff, Baron.

[Picking up her bills from the floor]

Come across first
With what you promised.

BARON.

Oh, you needn't worry,
Dear Mama Shylock. You're going to

have your pound
Of flesh, I've said that you shall have her

here
To-night. She may be waiting for me now

[Pie looks at his wrist-watch]
Less than a block away, ready to serve
And honor and obey me. -Damn you,

Tiger!

I wonder if I love you more or hate you.
Damn you, anyway 1

TIGER.

Oh, swear your head off I
Go over it again, make up your mind
One way and then the other!



io TIGER

[Looking up from her bills']

Kiss me, kid!

[He kisses her hungrily. She stands uf>
and throws him away from her]
Now snarl at me, you cur. I don't know

why

I keep you round; except to purr and snarl
Myself, first kiss your feminine eye*

because
They look so lost in the world, then curse

your breed,

You most of all, because you're so unlike
The brutes I'm tired of.

[She crosses to lay bills and cheques in
her desk]

But what's the use
Of bothering? You suit me. And you're

good
For the business. Run along and bring her

here.
[She sits at her desk and writes]

BARON.

Remember now. She's young, and I'm her
first



TIGER i r

Offence. And I've been careful with her,.

Tiger,

Not touched her fingers only once or twice
And used good English and been sym
pathetic.

TIGER.

Oh, yes, I know all that.

BARON.

[Taking a cigarette from Annabel's
supply]

She's different tho',

She hasn't got the taste for it beforehand
Most of them have.

TIGER.

[Looking round as she seals a letter]

Then she's the very kind
We want, old boy. The other kind is com
mon

And some of our customers amuse them
selves,

You know, by being fastidious. Is she a
blonde?



12 TIGER

BARON.
Brunette.

TIGER.

Worse luck.
BARON.

No, you can fix that up.
Light hair'd go fine with her dark eyes, good

change.

She's just the girl for it, solemn and slow
And innocent. Poor kid, I pity her.

TIGER.

You act like you were getting stuck on her;
Perhaps she'll keep you when you're tired
of me.

BARON.

You've got me hypnotized. I don't get tired.

TIGER.

[She approaches him, seductively, mock
ingly]
Be true to me, sweetheart I



TIGER 13

BARON.

To hell with you I

[She lays her hand insidiously on his arm*
, At once he seizes and kisses her. She
leads him to the hallway door, and opens
it as he kisses her again, then she pushes
him out with both hands and, closing the
door, turns back to Annabel, who at every
amorous passage between Tiger and the
Baron has looked up from her book and
watched with curious but accustomed in
terest]

ANNABEL.

[Chewing gum]
Gee, but I wish I had a man like that I

TIGER.

You'd have one, dear, if you were business
like.

ANNABEL.

[Shaking her head and marking her place
in the book with a cigarette]
I couldn't hold a man. They get so bored
With me. And, after all, there isn't much



14 TIGER

To say to one man. I'd be bored myself
To have to think of new things all the time.
Variety, Tiger, is the spice of life,
Not in the spiel but in the spielers. Dear,
Do you like my hair this way? One of the

boys

Suggested that it makes me look too old.
I think I'll put it back again.
[She starts to uncoil it]

TIGER.

No, no!

Leave it to me ! You'll be told quick enough
When you look old. Let it alone.

ANNABEL.

Well, looks
Ain't everything. I'm getting wise to the

game.

Say to a gink, 'Your nose is beautiful,'
'Your mouth was made to kiss,' or call his

figure
Military.

[She examines herself critically in a hand
mirror which she takes from under a sofa-
cushion]



TIGER i y

TIGER.

There's just one kind of figure
That makes a hit with me. A good full

chest !

ANNABEL.

Gee, ain't they handsome when they have

green backs !
[They \aug\i\

I told a guy last night that it takes dough
To make a tart. Dear, that's my own!

TIGER.

And say,

Here's business, Annabel, take it from me!
You've seen the belly on the dollar-sign?
Well, the man who has the stomach has the
figure !

ANNABEL.

I've noticed that.

TIGER.

Sure thfng! And while he thinks



1 6 TIGER

You're waiting for his phoney kisses pay
Attention to his stomach and his roll !
Make him eat, drink and spend! My dear,

the way
To passion's thro' the stomach every time.

ANNABEL.

[Meditative']
Champagne, you mean?

TIGER.

Eve got there with an apple.
But the apple has fermented some since then.

ANNABEL.

| Laughing with Tiger"\
We have a good time, don't we I

TIGER

You do, dear.
You've been here seven months and,

Annabel,

You never once in all that time have had
A grouch.



TIGER 17

ANNABEL.

You're square with me, Tiger, that's
why.

TIGER.

But, on the level, you don't like the life?

ANNABEL.

Better than selling underwear to women
And paying fines on four whole bucks a

week!
Talk as you please, the men have more

respect

For a girl that's a good looker and can earn
A seat in a restaurant than for a dub
Who stands up all day waiting on their

wives.

TIGER.

Besides, you have as good a chance as me
To save up coin enough before you're old
And rent a house and get some girls to
gether
And after a while to live in a good hotel



iC TIGER

And settle down respectable. Perhaps
A friend or two. But independent.

ANNABEL.

Chance!

Yes, I've got that. But, dear, I haven't got
The brains to make a hit in any line.
I know my limit and I'm satisfied.
I'm better off than I ever was at home,
And that's enough. The future can go hang.
There's more than one way to prepare a

corpse.
Ain't I the cheerful guy?

TIGER.

You're lazy, dear,
That's all the matter with you.

ANNABEL.

Who's the new girl?
TIGER.

Oh, I don't know. The Baron falls for me.

So I can trust his taste.

ANNABEL.

Say, does he fall?
He's jealous, now, of me!



TIGER 19

TIGER.

Who's on the job
Downstairs?

ANNABEL.

Cassie to-night. I'm tired. She knows
The steps and laughs a lot, loosens 'em up.
She's popular.

TIGER.

And she's the Baron's work,
He brought her here last winter. Cassie

thinks

The Baron the one bet and he, poor kid,
Just keeps her on because I tell him to.
And see how well the combination works?
The happy family!

ANNABEL.

Business-like's the word!

\A knock is heard at the hallway door~\

TIGER.

Quick there ! Be business-like yourself for

once!
Clear off those things!



20 TIGER

ANNABEL.

All right.

[While Annabel puts bottles and glasses
under the table so that they are hidden by
the table-cover, Tiger picks up the gum,
cigarettes and ash-tray from the chair and
tucks them all under a sofa-cushion. The
knock is repeated]

ANNABEL.

My fancy-work,
Where is it?

TIGER.

[Taking a piece of embroidery from under
a cushion]

Here.

[She hands it to Annabel and crosses to
the easy-chair]

ANNABEL.

[Sitting on the couch, with the embroid
ery, as tho f she had been sewing]

Now we're a boarding-house I



TIGER 21

TIGER.

Throw me the book!

[Annabel throws Tiger the novel from
the couch, Tiger holds it as though she
had been reading]

Come in!

[The Baron enters, leading by the hand
Margaret, a simple, romantic girl of
sixteen. She is in street-clothes. She
looks toward the two women bashfully,
innocently, as they rise and come toward
her]

BARON.

It's Margaret.
This is Miss Dillingham, my aunt, and

here's
My Cousin Ann.

MARGARET.

How do you do? Gene's told
Me lots about you. I suppose you think
I'm foolish running away like this?



22 TlGKR

TIGER.

Why, no I
You loved each other, Margaret.

MARGARET.

My aunt

Was angry when he wanted to call. You
see,

She's not like you, Miss Dillingham; she's
set

And so old-fashioned. And she thought be
cause

Gene works in a store he isn't good enough.

She said I never should have talked with
him

At all. And then she didn't like his voice

On the telephone. . . . I do, don't I,
Eugene !

BARON.

[His arm round her]
I guess you do, darling.

MARGARET.

You see, my aunt
Has been with us for years and father takes



TIGER 23

Her word as law. I knew what she would

say

About Eugene and how she'd make it sound.
At first I thought he'd better go himself
And see my father.

BARON.

But I told you, dear,
He wouldn't fall for me. And I couldn't

give
You up, now could I?

MARGARET.

No. And so I thought
And thought and prayed. And finally I
came.

TIGER.

And aren't you tired out? Let Annabel
Show you your room. You ought to rest

before
Your marriage, dear.

[Annabel opens the bedroom door. Mar
garet, vaguely troubled, does not follow
her-}



24 TIGER

MARGARET.



We must be married now.



BARON.

To-morrow.



MARGARET.

Oh, I thought to-night.

BARON.

But first

I have to get a license and attend
To things like that. And I can leave you

here
With Tige Miss Dillingham. She'll take

good care
Of you.

MARGARET.

[Doubtfully]

I'll do, Gene, as you say.

ANNABEL.

Your room
Is ready for you.



TIGER 25

MARGARET.

[Crossing to the Baron]

Oh, if only I
Had seen my father! He might not have

felt

As Aunt Louisa felt. It seems so mean
Of me to run away from him. But I left
A little message on his dressing-case
Saying that he would hear from me to
morrow.

TIGER.

You didn't write him anything about
Eugene? or where you

MARGARET.

We thought best to wait,
Not to say anything till we could go
To him together, married, hand in hand,
And make him like us both.

TIGER.

When will he find
The note?



26 TIGER

MARGARET.

To-night. Or let me sec,
what day ?

Why, it's Friday! Then he won't be home

till Monday.

I hadn't thought of that. He always goes
To the country somewhere Sunday with his

friends.

Poor Aunt Louisa will be scared to death
When I'm not back for dinner.

ANNABEL.

But she'll find
The note.

BARON.

Surely, and send your father word.

MARGARET.

She won't know where to reach him.

ANNABEL.

Then I'll go
Outside and 'phone her that you're safe

with me,
One of your friends. Who shall I say I am?



TIGER 27

MARGARET.

Oh no, that would be worse.

TIGER.

That would be lying.
You must be tired, Margaret.

MARGARET.

Yes, I am.
\With a smile']
You see, I never ran away before.

ANNABEL.

Didn't you bring ?

MARGARET.

I didn't dare. I just
Went out and walked like some one in a

dream

And took the train. My heart was beat
ing so,

I thought that people would look round
at me.

TIGER.

And did they?



28 TIGER

MARGARET.

No.

TIGER.

That's right! Come,
Annabel,

She's talked enough for now. Lend her

something
To wear to-night.



ANNABEL.

Sure will I.

[As she goes up toward the hallway door,
a knock is heard]

Who's there ?

[She opens the door slightly and takes
from some one a cup of tea]

Thanks.

TIGER.

[Crossing and taking the cup from
Annabel]

Oh, yes, we've made some nice, hot tea.
[Exit Annabel]



TIGER 29

MARGARET.

I don't
Like tea.

TIGER.

Take it this once, it'll do you good.
MARGARET.

[Tasting *'/]
Isn't it very strong?

TIGER.

There's medicine

MARGARET.

I don't need medicine.

TIGER.

It's very little.

Only to rest your nerves and make you
sleep.

MARGARET.

[To the Baron']
I'll take it if you ask me.

BARON.

Take it, dear.
That's right. All downl



30 TIGER

MARGARET.

It burns.

BARON.

One

swallow more !
[Annabel returns with a night-dress'}

TIGER.

Leave her to Ann and me now till the
morning.

BARON.

There. Thank you, sweetheart.

[He takes the empty cup from her and
hands it to Tiger, who lays it down]

Good-night,
Margaret.
[He holds her hand in both his]

MARGARET.

Good-night, Eugene.

[She shyly lifts her face to him. He kisses
her]



TIGER 3 r

BARON.

To-morrow, darling!

MARGARET.

Yes.

[Margaret goes into the bedroom. Anna
bel, with a wink to the others, follows
her, closing the door. The Baron turns
from Margaret and looks at T'fger, who
stands facing him with her arms down.
She smiles and nods, He crosses to her,
puts his arms round her, holds her now
with assurance and kisses her. She re
sponds by kissing his eyes.

The stage now darkens to indicate the
lapse of time from Friday night to Sunday
night. When it grows light again, a small
table is beside the couch, with a chair or
two round it, and with cards on it
and poker-chips. The Baron sits on
the couch idly throwing poker-dice. An
nabel, who has been as idly watching
him, crosses to the closed door of the bed
room and leans with her ear to the crack
of ,-/]



32 TIGER

ANNABEL.

[Moving away again from the door}
That little girl's more bother than she's
worth.

BARON.

[Still throwing the dice]
The stuff you gave her in that tea started
The devil in her. Every finger-nail
In action ! Tiger bawled me out for quitting.
Poor little girll I wish she wasn't caught.
Damn it, I was a dog!

ANNABEL.

Well, you lap the hand
That feeds you !

BARON.

[Putting down the dice~\

Shut up now! I can know myself
And kick myself. But I won't let you do it!

ANNABEL.

Oh, well, who wants to kick a rotten egg?



TIGER 33

BARON.

[He jumps up and, catching her by the
wrist, twists it]
I'll teach you

ANNABEL.

[Catching him in the stomach with her
knee]

Will you?

{Tiger enters from the hallway]

TIGER.

Stop making love,
you two!

[Crossing and listening at the door]
How is she, quiet?

ANNABEL.

There hasn't been a squeak
To-day.

BARON.

{Back at his dice]

My God, she couldn't cry
any more !



34 TIGER

[Tiger turns round at his tone, crosses to
him, lifts his chin with her fingers and
looks into his eyes'}

TIGER

If you should dare to let her out, you fool I

BARON.

Who's going to let her out? I did the thing.
And I know why. And you know why I

did it!
TIGER.

[Walking away from him]
I've paid you.

BARON.

[Amorous']

Kiss me, Tige!
TIGER.

Let me alone I
[Turning sharply]
Good God, you don't think I'm in this for

fun I

I'm in it for the future. And there'll be
No Baron in my future.
[She walks away again]



TIGER 35

BARON.

[He follows her and, grasping her
shoulders, turns her to face him]

Wait and seel

You'll need me, Tiger, more than I'll need
you.

TIGER.

[Looking at him shrewdly]
You think so? Annabel, bring me her

clothes.
I guess I'll keep an eye on them myself.

[Exit Annabel into the hall]

BARON.

There's mighty little you don't keep an
eye on.

TIGER.

You nearly took up Cassie for your girl,
And Cassie bores you, Baron. Some one's

got
To use their eyes for you. You don't use

yours.



36 TIGER

BARON.

You're jealous, Tige. Insult me, kid, I

love it!
TIGER.

It's business, Baron. Jealousy's a joke.
You know me well enough to quit your bluff
And quit me too, or else to give this girl
The go-by. It's plain business. Do you get
me?

ANNABEL.

[Returning with Margaret's clothes and
hat]
Where shall I put them, Tiger?

TIGER.

Leave them there
For now. And put that over them.

[She indicates her own cloak. Annabel
lays them on the couch]

BARON.

[Cowed]

You're dippy.
I wouldn't do a thing you didn't want.



TIGER 37

TIGER.

[Crossing toward the bedroom']
What time is it? I guess I'll try again.

BARON.

She hasn't had a bite of food since when?

ANNABEL.

Not since she came.

BARON.

Lord, Tiger, give her something I

TIGER.

This is my business now. You've done your

part.
Get out of here 1



BARON.

You betl

TIGER.

Come back on Tuesday.
These little cooings will be over then.



38 TIGER

BARON.

They're over now. I love you, Tige, you

devil!
[He kisses her passionately]

TIGER.



Good-night.

[Exit the Baron]

ANNABEL.

You sure have got him going, Tiger.

TIGER.

I'm sick of him! But I can't throw him

down.

The fool might shoot me or else go and blab.
He's the only one I've cared for in ten years;
And I knew, the night I met him, that I ought
To look away and leave him be. It comes
Of letting sentiment into your business.

ANNABEL.

I wonder if I'll ever fall in love.



TIGER 39

TIGER.

The only other man I ever loved
Married me, and he used me like a dog.
The time I wasted moping for that boy
Would have set me up by now in Easy

Street.

I hung on fourteen months. He didn't hand
Me coin enough for food there were other

girls
More business-like who hadn't married

him
Then cussed me when I couldn't buy his

friends
Big eats at home. One of them helped me

out
The last two months. He liked me. And

I ran

Away with him. I learned a lot from him.
A man's an easy mark unless you love him.
I love that first one yet.

[Crossing to the bedroom door and signi
fying Margaret with her head~\

She loves the Baron.

[Speaking through the door}



40 TIGER

Margaret? When you choose you can have

food.
Just say the word and you'll have it not

before.
You know what good your screams did

Saturday !

And you can cry till doomsday if you want,
Nobody'll hear. Your father'll never come.
And you won't kill yourself. I didn't, dear.
Just say the word, I'll send you in Eugene
Or some one else and foodl

ANNABEL.

[Improving her make-up. Pallor and red
lips are effective with her black hair~\

She may be dead.
TIGER.

Dead nothing! I can hear her thro' the

door.
She'll come to terms. Hunger and time are

good
Persuaders. And she knows the Baron's

waiting.

He'll teach her first. Then nothing mat
ters. Eight



TIGER 41

Or ten hours more at most and she'll begin.
She'll not be too unhappy, you know that,
Probably happier than she would have been
With a cold husband and an empty life
Selected for her by her Aunt Louisa.

[There's a knock at the hallway door.

Annabel goes to it~\

TIGER.

Who is it?

ANNABEL.

Willie's here.
TIGER.

Well, let him in.
ANNABEL.

You think ?

TIGER.

It's safe enough. He's an old friend.
He knows the game and plays it like a good

one.

In fact it's sports like Willie have to have
The dainty morsels.

[She moves Annabel out of the way and
opens the door herself]



42 TIGER

Come in. How are things?
[Enter Willie, a patron, of later middle-
age, a stout, prosperous-looking, pleasant
gentleman]



WILLIE.

I'm fine but hungry, Tiger. Cassie said

She'd send my supper here. I've been out
doors

All day at Ardsley golf played well
to-day.

And by the way, we asked a girl out there

A decent girl, you know to join a four
some;

And what do you suppose she said, not
meaning it

At all, referring as she thought to one

Of the sticks? 'I never play,' she said, 'don't
know

A thing about it, shouldn't even know

Which end of the caddy to use.'
[They all laugh]

Good, isn't it f

Wonderful figure when she tried a stroke,



TIGER 43

And a lovely face, no paint, fresh lips,

young, young!
You ought to have that kind of girl. I'm

tired.

Of all your girls ! I come here still because
I like you, Tiger.
'[Looking round]

I'm tired of Annabel.

ANNABEL.

{With a deep bow]
Oh, thank you, Willie.

WILLIE.

Cassie, all of them,

The same old faces. Haven't you something
new?

TIGER.

I'm tired, Willie, of that same old question.
[A sudden sobbing is heard in the inner
bedroom]

WILLIE.
Listen 1

[// dies away into a moan]
What was that, Tiger?



44 TIGER

TIGER.

[Crossing and whispering in his ear with
a smile]

'Something new!'

WILLIE.

What do you mean? A new one? In that
room?

TIGER.

Come here now, dearie 1 On your honor,

sir,
As a friend and gentleman repeat it,

please I

WILLIE.

Well, Tiger, on my honor

TIGER.

If I put

You wise to a professional master-stroke,
You will not preach nor peach?

WILLIE.

I swear.

TIGER.

Willie,
The 'something new' was brought here



TIGER 45

WILLIE.

Never mind
The story; is she young?

TIGER.

Young as they come,

And new to it, in fact rebellious, dear,
And fasting for her pains.

WILLIE.

I'll break her in I

TIGER.

The Baron's a much better hand at it.

WILLIE.

Oh, come I It's an adventure ! let me try I
I'll be as gentle as a kitten with her.

TIGER.

No, no, some other time. There's nothing
in it.

WILLIE.

But, darling, an experience and different!
Girls like me, Tiger. Come on, let me try I
I'll make it worth your while.



46 TIGER

TIGER.

Well, you may have

Your supper with her, if you want to pay
Big money.

WILLIE.

Sure. I'm rich to-night. I won
A case last week. And I am going to win
Another case to-night, you know, a case
Of love at first sight. That's how I feel 1

TIGER.

Go in.

And don't believe the fiction that you'll hear.
She's peevish now, that's all. You know

these girls

And their romances and their grievances.
Help her forget them, Willie.

[She takes a key out of her pocket and
puts it in the lock of the bedroom door,
then turns before she opens the door\

Pommery ?
WILLIE.

\Nodd\ng\
And a tasty little supper for your Willie 1



TIGER 47

TIGER.

[Unlocking the door]
Remember now, you're not to preach

WILLIE.

Nor peach.
TIGER.
Promise I

WILLIE.

I promise. Wish me good luck, Tiger!
[She opens the door for him; he enters
the bedroom. There is a pause, then, in
side the bedroom, a scream of mingled
terror and joy from the girl, and a moan
from the man]

MARGARET.

[Her voice is heard, heartrending]
Father! Father, I knew you'd come!
Father!

WILLIE.

[Reappearing and facing the women,
Ifoftf]

Give me her clothes! Damn you, give me
her clothes!



48 TIGER

[ Tiger stands motionless, petrified. Anna
bel crosses as in a nightmare and picks up
Margaret's clothes from the couch. As
she pulls them across the table, the poker-
chips are dragged to the floor. Annabel
turns at the sound and looks down at the
poker-chips, dazed. Willie re-enters the
bedroom. Annabel suddenly drops the
clothes on the floor and runs out into the
hall. Tiger stands motionless"]



CURTAIN



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