Writing for Vaudeville (B)
by Brett Page

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Public Domain Books

Chapter XX - Putting Together the One-Act Musical Comedy With Hints on Making the Burlesque Tab

Unless you have a definite order to write a one-act musical comedy, it would seem, from the comparatively small part the writer has in the final effect, that the novice had better not write the musical comedy at all. Although this would appear to be clear from the discussion of the elements in the preceding chapter, I want to make it even more emphatic by saying that more than once I have written a musical comedy act for the “small time” in a few hours–and have then spent weeks dovetailing it to fit the musical numbers introduced and whipping the whole act into the aspect of a “production.”

But there is one time when even the amateur may write a musical comedy–when he has a great idea. But I do not mean the average musical comedy idea–I mean such an idea as that which made “The Naked Truth” so successful. And in the hope that you may possess such an idea, I offer a few hints that may prove helpful in casting your idea into smooth musical comedy form.

As I have already discussed plot in the chapters devoted to the playlet, and have taken up the structure of the monologue and the two-act in the chapters on those forms, there is now no need for considering “writing” at all save for a single hint. Yet even this one suggestion deals less with the formal “writing” element than with the “feel” of the material. It is stated rather humorously by Thomas J. Gray, who has written many successful one-act musical comedies, varying in style from “Gus Edwards’ School Boys and Girls” to “The Vaudeville Revue of 1915"–a musical travesty on prevailing ideas–and the books of a few long musical successes, from comedy scenes in “Watch your Step” to “Ned Wayburn’s Town Topics,” that “Musical comedy, from a vaudeville standpoint, and a ’Broadway’ or two-dollar standpoint, are two different things. A writer has to treat them in entirely different ways, as a doctor would two different patients suffering from the same ailment. In vaudeville an author has to remember that nearly everyone in the audience has some one particular favorite on the bill–you have to write something funny enough to: please the admirers of the acrobat, the magician, the dancer, the dramatic artist, the rag-time singer and the moving pictures. But in ’Broadway’ musical comedy it is easier to please the audiences because they usually know what the show is about before they buy their tickets, and they know what to expect. That’s why you can tell ’vaudeville stuff’ in a ’Broadway’ show–it’s the lines the audience laugh at.

“To put it in a different way, let me say that while in two-dollar musical comedy you can get by with ’smart lines’ and snickers, in vaudeville musical comedy you have to go deeper than the lip-laughter. You must waken the laughter that lies deep down and rises in appreciative roars. It is in ability to create situations that will produce this type of laughter that the one-act musical comedy writer’s success lies.”

1. An Average One-Act Musical Comedy Recipe

While it is not absolutely necessary to open a musical comedy with an ensemble number, many fine acts do so open. And the ensemble finish seems to be the rule. Therefore let us assume that you wish to form your musical comedy on this usual style. As your act should run anywhere from thirty to fifty minutes, and as your opening number will consume scarcely two minutes, and your closing ensemble perhaps three, you have–on a thirty-five minute basis– thirty minutes in which to bring in your third ensemble, your other musical numbers and your dialogue.

The third ensemble–probably a chorus number, with the tenor or the ingenue, or both, working in front of the chorus–will consume anywhere from five to seven minutes. Then your solo will take about three minutes. And if you have a duet or a trio, count four minutes more. So you have about eighteen minutes for your plot and comedy–including specialties.

While these time hints are obviously not exact, they are suggestive of the fact that you should time everything which enters into your act. And having timed your musical elements by some such rough standard as this–or, better still, by slowly reading your lyrics as though you were singing–you should set down for your own guidance a schedule that will look something like this:

Opening ensemble............. 2 minutes

Introducing Plot,
First Comedy Scenes....... 4 “

Solo......................... 3 “

Comedy and Specialties.... 5 “

Ensemble number.............. 5 “

Specialties, Comedy.
Plot climax–perhaps
a “big” love scene,
leading into.............. 7 “

Duet......................... 4 “

Plot Solution–the
final arrangement
of characters............. 2 “

Closing ensemble............. 3 “
________ 35 “

Of course this imaginary schedule is not the only schedule that can be used; also bear firmly in mind that you may make any arrangement of your elements that you desire, within the musical comedy form. Let me repeat what I am never tired of saying, that a rigid adherence to any existing form of vaudeville act is as likely to be disastrous as a too wild desire to be original. Be as unconventional as you can be within the necessary conventional limits. This is the way to success.

You have your big idea, and you have the safe, conventional ensemble opening, or a semi-ensemble novelty opening. Also you have a solo number for the tenor or the ingenue, with the chorus working behind them. Finally you have your ensemble ending. Now, within these boundaries, arrange your solo and duet–or dispense with them, as you feel best fits your plot and your comedy. Develop your story by comedy situations–don’t depend upon lines. Place your big scene in the last big dialogue space–the seven minutes of the foregoing schedule–and then bring your act to an end with a great big musical finish.

2. Timing the Costume Changes

Although the schedule given allows plenty of time for costume changes, you must not consider your schedule as a ready-made formula. Read it and learn the lesson it points out–then cast it aside. Test every minute of your act by the test of time. Be especially careful to give your chorus and your principal characters time to make costume changes.

In gauging the minutes these changes will take, time yourself in making actual changes of clothing. Remember that you must allow one minute to get to the dressing room and return to the stage. But do not make the mistake of supposing that the first test you make in changing your own clothes will be the actual time it will take experienced dressers to change. You yourself can cut down your time record by practice–and your clothes are not equipped with time-saving fasteners. Furthermore, it often happens that the most complicated dress is worn in the first scene and a very quick change is prepared for by under-dressing–that is, wearing some of the garments of the next change under the pretentious over-garments of the preceding scene. These are merely stripped off and the person is ready dressed to go back on the stage in half a minute.

But precise exactness in costume changes need not worry you very much. If you have been reasonably exact, the producer–upon whom the costume changes and the costumes themselves depend–will add a minute of dialogue here or take away a minute there, to make the act run as it should.

3. The Production Song

Certain songs lend themselves more readily to effective staging, and these are called “production songs.” For instance: “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” could be–and often was–put on with a real band. The principal character could sing the first verse and the chorus alone. Then the chorus girls could come out in regimentals, each one “playing” some instrument–the music faked by the orchestra or produced by “zobos"–and when they were all on the stage, the chorus could be played again with rousing effect. During the second verse, sung as a solo, the girls could act out the lines. Then with the repetitioin of the chorus, they could produce funny characteristic effects on the instruments. And then they could all exit–waiting for the audience to bring them back for the novelties the audience would expect to be introduced in an encore.

This is often the way a “popular song” is “plugged” in cabarets, musical comedies, burlesque, and in vaudeville. It is made so attractive that it is repeated again and again–and so drummed into the ears of the audience that they go out whistling it. Ned Wayburn demonstrated this in his vaudeville act “Staging an Act." He took a commonplace melody and built it up into a production–then the audience liked it. George Cohan did precisely the same thing in his “Hello, Broadway"; taking a silly lyric and a melody, he told the audience he was going to make ’em like it; and he did–by "producing it.”

But not every “popular song” lends itself to production treatment. For instance, how would you go about producing “When it Strikes Home”? How would you stage “When I Lost You”? Or–to show you that serious songs are not the only ones that may not be producible– how would you put on “Oh, How that German Could Love”? Of course you could bring the chorus on in couples and have them sing such a sentimental song to each other–but that would not, in the fullest sense, be producing it.

Just as not every “popular song” can be produced, so not every production song can be made popular. You have never whistled that song produced in “Staging an Act,” nor have you ever whistled Cohan’s song from “Hello, Broadway.” If they ever had any names I have forgotten them, but the audience liked them immensely at the time.

As many production songs are good only for stage purposes, and therefore are not a source of much financial profit to their writers, there is no need for me to describe their special differences and the way to go about writing them. Furthermore, their elements are precisely the same as those of any other song–with the exception that each chorus is fitted with different catch lines in the place of the regular punch lines, and there may be any number of different verses. [1] Now having your “big" idea, and having built it up with your musical elements carefully spaced to allow for costume changes, perhaps having made your comedy rise out of the monologue and the two-act to good plot advantage, and having developed your story to its climax in the last part of your act, you assemble all your people, join the loose plot ends and bring your musical comedy to a close with a rousing ensemble finish.

[1] See Chapter XXII.


The word “tab” is vaudeville’s way of saying “tabloid,” or condensed version. While vaudeville is in itself a series of tabloid entertainments, “tab” is used to identify the form of a musical comedy act which may run longer than the average one-act musical comedy. Although a tabloid is almost invariably in one act, it is hardly ever in only one scene. There are usually several different sets used, and the uninterrupted forty-five minutes, or even more than an hour, are designed to give a greater effect of bigness to the production.

But the greatest difference between the one-act musical comedy and the burlesque tab does not lie in playing-time, nor bigness of effect. While a one-act musical comedy is usually intended to be made up of carefully joined and new humorous situations, the burlesque tab–you will recall the definition of burlesque–depends upon older and more crude humor.

James Madison, whose “My Old Kentucky Home” [1] has been chosen as showing clearly the elements peculiar to the burlesque tab, describes the difference in this way:

“Burlesque does not depend for success upon smoothly joined plot, musical numbers or pictorial effects. Neither does it depend upon lines. Making its appeal particularly to those who like their humor of the elemental kind, the burlesque tab often uses slap-stick comedy methods. Frankly acknowledging this, vaudeville burlesque nevertheless makes a clean appeal. It does not countenance either word or gesture that could offend. Since its purpose is to raise uproarious laughter, it does not take time to smooth the changes from one comedy bit to the next, but one bit follows another swiftly, with the frankly avowed purpose to amuse, and to amuse for the moment only. Finally, the burlesque tab comes to an end swiftly: it has made use of a plot merely for the purpose of stringing on comedy bits, and having come toward the close, it boldly states that fact, as it were, by a swift rearrangement of characters–and then ends.”

[1] See the Appendix

While the burlesque tab nearly always opens with an ensemble number, and almost invariably ends with an ensemble, there may be more solos, duets, trios, quartets and ensembles than are used by the musical comedy–if the act is designed to run for a longer time. But as its appeal is made by humor rather than by musical or pictorial effect, the burlesque tab places the emphasis on the humor. It does this by giving more time to comedy and by making its comedy more elemental, more uproarious.

In a burlesque tab, the comedy bits are never barred by age–providing they are sure-fire–and therefore they are sometimes reminiscent. [2] The effort to give them freshness and newness is to relate the happenings to different characters, and to introduce the bits in novel ways.

[2] Mr. Madison informed me that the “statuary bit” in “My Old Kentucky Home” is one of the oldest “bits” in the show business. It is even older than Weber and Field’s first use of it a generation ago.

Therefore, it would seem obvious that the writing of the burlesque tab is not “writing” at all. It is stage managing. And as the comedy bits are in many cases parts of the history of the stage–written down in the memories of actor and producer–the novice had better not devote his thoughts to writing burlesque. However, if he can produce bits of new business that will be sure-fire, he may find the burlesque tab for him the most profitable of all opportunities the vaudeville stage has to offer. That, however, is a rare condition for the beginner.

Chapter XXI - The Musical Elements of the Popular Song

The easiest thing in the world is to write a song; the most difficult, to write a song that will be popular. I do not mean a "popular” song, but a song everybody will whistle–for few songs written for the populace really become songs of the people. The difference between poverty and opulence in the business of song-writing is–whistling.

What is the difference, then, between the man who can “write songs" and the one who can write songs everybody will whistle? Wherein lies the magic? Here is the difference, unexplained it is true, but at least clearly stated:

There are hundreds of men and women all over the land who can rhyme with facility. Anyone of them can take almost any idea you suggest off hand, and on the instant sing you a song that plays up that idea. These persons are the modern incarnations of the old time minstrels who wandered over the land and sang extemporaneous ditties in praise of their host for their dinners. But, remarkable as the gift is, many of these modern minstrels cannot for the life of them put into their songs that something which makes their hearers whistle it long after they leave. The whistle maker is the one who can rhyme with perhaps no more ease than these others, but into his song he is able to instil the magic–sometimes.

But what is this magic that makes of song-writing a mystery that even the genius cannot unerringly solve each time he tries? Not for one moment would I have you believe that I can solve the mystery for you. If I could, I should not be writing this chapter–I should be writing a song that could not fail of the greatest sale in history. Still, with the kind assistance of the gentlemen in the profession–as the prestidigitator used to say in the old town hall when he began his entertainment–I may be able to lift the outer veils of the unknown, and you may be able I to face the problem with clearer-seeing eyes.

I called for help first from Irving Berlin, without doubt the most successful popular song writer this country has ever known; then the assistance of phenomenally successful writers of such diverse genius as Charles K. Harris, L. Wolfe Gilbert, Ballard MacDonald, Joe McCarthy, Stanley Murphy, and Anatol Friedland, was asked and freely given. It is from their observations, as well as from my own, that the following elements of the art of whistle-making have been gathered.

Although we are interested only in the lyrics of the popular song, we must first consider the music, for the lyric writer is very often required to write words to music that has already been written. Therefore he must know the musical elements of his problem.

I. Music and Words are Inseparable

Think of any popular song-hit, and while you are recollecting just "how it goes,” stand back from yourself and watch your mental processes. The words of the title first pop into your mind, do they not? Then do not you find yourself whistling that part of the music fitted to those words? Conversely, if the music comes into your mind first, the words seem to sing themselves. Now see if the bars of music you remember and whistle first are not the notes fitted to the title.

If these observations are correct, we have not only proof of the inseparable quality of the words and the music of a popular song, but also evidence to which you can personally testify regarding the foundations of lyric-writing.

But first let us hear what Berlin has to say about the inseparable quality of words and music: “The song writer who writes both words and music, has the advantage over the lyric writer who must fit his words to somebody else’s music and the composer who must make his music fit someone else’s words. Latitude–the mother of novelty–is denied them, and in consequence both lyrics and melody suffer. Since I write both words and music, I can compose them together and make them fit. I sacrifice one for the other. If I have a melody I want to use, I plug away at the lyrics until I make them fit the best parts of my music, and vice versa. “For instance: ’In My Harem’ first came to me from the humorous possibility that the Greeks, who at that time were fighting with the Turks, might be the cause of a lot of harems running loose in Turkey. I tried to fit that phrase to a melody, but I couldn’t. At last I got a melody; something that sounded catchy; a simple ’dum-te-de-dum.’ I had it,

                      In my harem,
                      In my harem.

“With ’Ragtime Violin’ I had the phrase and no music. I got a few bars to fit, then the melody made a six-syllable and then a five-syllable passage necessary. I had it:

                 Fiddle up!  Fiddle up!
                     On your violin.

“The lyric of a song must sing the music and the music sing the words.”

Charles K. Harris, who wrote the great popular success, “After the Ball,” so far back in the early days of the popular song that some consider this song the foundation of the present business, has followed it up with innumerable successes. Mr. Harris has this to, say on the same point:

“I believe it is impossible to collaborate with anyone in writing a popular song. I don’t believe one man can write the words and another the music. A man can’t put his heart in another’s lyrics or music. To set a musical note for each word of a song is not all–the note must fit the word.” But, while Mr. Harris’s words should be considered as the expression of an authority, there is also considerable evidence that points the other way. Just to mention a few of the many partnerships which have resulted in numerous successes, there are Williams and Van Alstyne, who followed "Under the Shade of the Old Apple Tree” with a series of hits; Ballard MacDonald and Harry Carroll, who made “On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine” merely the first of a remarkably successful brotherhood; Harry Von Tilzer with his ever varying collaborators, and L. Wolfe Gilbert, who wrote “Robert E. Lee,” “Hitchy Koo," and other hits, with Louis Muir, and then collaborated with Anatol Friedland and others in producing still other successes. These few examples out of many which might be quoted, show that two persons can collaborate in writing song-hits, but, in the main, as Mr. Berlin and Mr. Harris say, there are decided advantages when words and music can be done together by one writer.

What is absolutely essential to the writing of songs which will make the nation whistle, may be stated in this principle:

The words and music of a song must fit each other so perfectly that the thought of one is inseparable from the other.

And now before we turn to the essential elements of the words, to which I shall devote the next chapter, permit me to name a few of the elements of popular music that may be helpful to many modern minstrels to know. In fact, these are all the suggestions on the writing of popular music that I have been able to glean from many years of curious inquiry. I believe they represent practically, if not quite, all the hints that can be given on this subject. [1]

[1] Because of the obvious impossibility of adequately discussing syncopation and kindred purely technical elements, ragtime has not been particularly pointed out. The elements here given are those that apply to ragtime as well as to nearly every other sort of popular song.

2. One Octave is the Popular Song Range

The popular song is introduced to the public by vaudeville performers, cabaret singers, and demonstrators, whose voices have not a wide range. Even some of the most successful vaudeville stars have not extraordinary voices. Usually the vaudeville performer cannot compass a range of much more than an octave. The cabaret singer who has command of more than seven notes is rare, and the demonstrator in the department store and the five-and ten-cent store usually has a voice little better than the person who purchases. Therefore the composer of a song is restricted to the range of one octave. Sometimes, it is true, a song is written in “one-one,” or even "one-two” (one or two notes more than an octave), but even such "rangey” songs make use of these notes only in the verses and confine the chorus to a single octave. But in the end, the necessity for the composer’s writing his song within one octave to make an effective offering for his introducing singers, works out to his advantage. The average voice of an octave range is that possessed by those who buy popular songs to sing at home.

Now here is a helpful hint and another bit of evidence from the music angle, to emphasize the necessity for the perfect fitting of words and music. Let me state it as Berlin did, in an article written for the Green Book Magazine:

3. Melodies Should Go Up on Open Vowels

“Melodies should go up on open vowels in the lyrics–A, I or O. E is half open and U is closed. Going up on a closed vowel makes enunciation difficult.”

Experience is the only thing warranted to convince beyond doubt, so test this rule on your own piano. Then take down the most popular songs you have in your collection and measure them by it.

4. Put “Punch” in Music Wherever Possible

As we shall see later, another definition of the popular song-hit might be, “A song with a punch in the lyrics and a punch in the music.” Berlin expressed the application to the problem of melody by the following:

“In the ’International Rag,’ for example, I got my punch by means of my melody. I used the triplet, the freak, from out of my bag of tricks:

                   Raggedy melody,
                   Full of originality.

5. Punch is Sometimes Secured by Trick of Repetition

Anatol Friedland, who composed the music of “My Persian Rose,” and L. Wolfe Gilbert’s “My Little Dream Girl,” in discussing this question, said:

“Ten notes may be the secret of a popular song success. If I can make my listeners remember ten notes of a song that’s all I ask. Whenever they hear these ten notes played they’ll say, ’That’s. . .,’ and straightway they’ll begin to whistle it. This is the music punch, and it depends on merit alone. Now here’s one angle of the musical punch trick:

“To make a punch more punchy still, we repeat it at least once, and sometimes oftener, in a song. You may start your chorus with it, repeat it in the middle, or repeat it at the end. Rarely is it repeated in the verse. High-brow composers call it the theme. For the popular song composer, it’s the punch. Clever repetition that makes the strain return with delightful satisfaction, is one of the tricks of the trade–as well as of the art of popular music.”

6. A Musical Theme Might be Practically the Entire Song

If what Friedland says is so, and you may turn to your well-thumbed pile of music for confirmation, the theme or the punch of popular music may prove the entire song. I mean, that in its final sales analysis, the magic bars are what count. To carry this logical examination still further, it is possible for a popular song to be little more than theme. As a musical theme is the underlying melody out of which the variations are formed, it is possible to repeat the theme so often that the entire song is little more than clever repetitions.

One of the most common methods is to underlay a melody with what E. M. Wickes, [1] one of the keenest popular song critics of today, calls the “internal vamp.” This is the keeping of a melody so closely within its possible octave that the variations play around a very few notes. Try on your piano this combination–D, E flat, and E natural, or F natural, with varying tempos, and you will recognize many beginnings of different famous songs they represent. Either the verse of these songs starts off with this combination, or the chorus takes these notes for its beginning. “Sweet Adeline" and “On the Banks of the Wabash” are but two of the many famous songs built on this foundation. Of course, there are other combinations. These few combinations taken together might be considered as the popular idea of “easy music.”

[1] Mr. Wickes has been contributing to The Writer’s Monthly a series of valuable papers under the general caption, “Helps for Song Writers.”

And now it is through the consideration of the importance of the variations of the theme that we may come to an understanding of what, for the want of a better phrase, I shall call unexpected punches.

7. Punches not Suggested by the Theme

The impossibility of adequately pointing out by words the specific examples of what I mean in certain songs makes it necessary for me to direct you back to your own piano. Run over a group of your favorites and see how many musical punches you can find that are not due directly to the theme. Pick out the catchy variations in a dozen songs–you may chance on one or two where the biggest punch is not in the theme. Of course you may trace it all back to the theme, but nevertheless it still stands out a distinct punch in the variation. If you can add this punch to your theme-punch, your song success is assured.

8. Use of Themes or Punches of Other Songs

When Sol P. Levy, the composer of “Memories,” the “Dolly Dip Dances,” and a score of better-class melodies, shared my office, one of our sources of amusement was seeking the original themes from which the popular songs were made. As Mr. Levy was arranging songs for nearly all the big publishers, we had plenty of material with which to play our favorite indoor sport. It was a rare song, indeed, whose musical parent we could not ferret out. Nearly all the successful popular songs frankly owned themes that were favorites of other days–some were favorites long “before the war.”

Berlin’s use of “Way down upon the Swanee River"–"played in ragtime"–for a musical punch in “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” was not the first free use of a theme of an old favorite for a punch, but it was one of the first honestly frank uses. The way he took Mendelssohn’s “Spring Song” and worked it into as daring a “rag" as he could achieve, is perhaps the most delightfully impudent, "here-see-what-I-can-do,” spontaneously and honestly successful "lift” ever perpetrated. Berlin has “ragged” some of the most perfect themes of grand opera with wonderful success, but not always so openly. And other composers have done the same thing.

The usual method is to take some theme that is filled with memories and make it over into a theme that is just enough like the familiar theme to be haunting. This is the one secret or trick of the popular song trade that has been productive of more money than perhaps any other.

This lifting of themes is not plagiarism in the strict sense in which a solemn court of art-independence would judge it. Of course it is well within that federal law which makes the copyrightable part of any piece of music as wide open as a barn door, for you know you can with “legal honesty” steal the heart of any song, if you are “clever” enough, and want it. The average popular song writer who makes free use of another composer’s melody, doubtless would defend his act with the argument that he is not writing "serious music,” only melodies for the passing hour and therefore that he ought to be permitted the artistic license of weaving into his songs themes that are a part of the melodic life of the day. [1] But, although some song writers contend for the right of free use, they are usually the first to cry “stop thief” when another composer does the same thing to them. However, dismissing the ethics of this matter, right here there lies a warning, not of art or of law, but for your own success.

[1] An interesting article discussing the harm such tactics have done the popular song business is to be found over the signature of Will Rossiter in the New York Star for March 1, 1913.

Never lift a theme of another popular song. Never use a lifted theme of any song–unless you can improve on it. And even then never try to hide a theme in your melody as your own–follow Mr. Berlin’s method, if you can, and weave it frankly into your music.

Now, to sum up all that has been said on the music of the popular song: While it is an advantage for one man to write both the words and music of a song, it is not absolutely essential; what is essential is that the words and music fit each other so perfectly that the thought of one is inseparable from the other. One octave is the range in which popular music should be written. Melodies should go up on open vowels in the lyrics. A “punch” should be put in the music wherever possible. Punch is sometimes secured by the trick of repetition in the chorus, as well as at the beginning and end. The theme may be and usually is the punch, but in the variations there may be punches not suggested by the theme. Themes, semi-classical, or even operatic, or punches of old favorites may be used–but not those of other popular songs–and then it is best to use them frankly.

To state all this in one concise sentence permit me to hazard the following:

The music-magic of the popular song lies in a catchy theme stated at, or close to, the very beginning, led into clever variations that round back at least once and maybe twice into the original theme, and finishing with the theme–which was a punch of intrinsic merit, made stronger by a repetition that makes it positively haunting.

Chapter XXII - The Elements of a Successful Lyric

One question about song-writing is often asked but will never be settled: Which is more important, the music or the words? Among the publishers with whom I have discussed this question is Louis Bernstein, of Shapiro, Bernstein & Co. He summed up what all the other publishers and song-writers I have known have said:

“A great melody may carry a poor lyric to success, and a great lyric may carry a poor melody; but for a song to become widely popular you must have both a great melody and a great lyric.”

This is but another way of stating the fact noted in the preceding chapter, that the words and music of a popular song-hit are indivisible. And yet Mr. Bernstein gives an authoritative reply to the question with which this chapter opens.

Charles K. Harris put it in another way. Referring particularly to the ballad–and to the particular style of ballad that has made him famous–he said:

“The way to the whistling lips is always through the heart. Reach the heart through your lyrics, and the lips will whistle the emotion via the melody. When the heart has not been touched by the lyric, the lips will prove rebellious. They may, indeed, whistle the melody once, even twice, but it takes more than that to make a song truly popular. A catchy tune is not sufficient in itself. It goes far, it is true, but it will not go the entire distance of popularity, or even two-thirds of the distance, unless it is accompanied by a catchy lyric.”

You may read into this a leaning toward the lyric, if you like. And it might be better if you did, for you would then realize that your part of a popular song must be as “great” as you can make it. But whatever may be your opinion, it does not alter the fact that both Mr. Harris and Mr. Bernstein have pointed out–catchy words are needed as much as catchy melody. And permit me to say very humbly that personally I have no leaning toward the musical one of the twins: my reason for discussing first the musical elements, is that a lyric writer often is called on to fit words to music, and because an understanding of the musical elements forms a fine foundation for an easy, and therefore a quick, dissection of the popular song–that is all.


In its original meaning, a lyric is verse designed to be sung to the accompaniment of music. Nowadays lyrical poetry is verse in which the poet’s personal emotions are strongly shown. Popular song-lyrics especially are not only designed to be sung, but are verses that show a great deal of emotion–any kind of emotion. But remember this point: Whatever and how great soever may be the emotion striving for expression, the words designed to convey it do not become lyrics until the emotion is shown, and shown in a sort of verse which we shall presently examine. If you convey emotion, your words may be worth thousands of dollars. If you fail to convey it, they will be only a sad joke.

As illustrations of this vital point, and to serve as examples for the examination of the elements of the popular lyric, read the words of the following famous songs; and while you are reading them you will see vividly how music completes the lyric. Stripped of its music, a popular song-lyric is often about as attractive as an ancient actress after she has taken off all the make-up that in the setting of the stage made her look like a girl. Words with music become magically one, the moving expression of the emotion of their day.


All the popular song lyrics quoted in this volume are copyright property and are used by special permission of the publishers, in each instance personally granted to the author of this book. Many of the lyrics have never before been printed without their music. Warning:–Republication in any form by anyone whosoever will meet with civil and criminal prosecution by the publishers under the copyright law.


Words and Music by IRVING BERLIN

Oh, ma honey, oh, ma honey,
Better hurry and let’s meander,
Ain’t you goin’, ain’t you goin,’
To the leader man, ragged meter man,
Oh, ma honey, oh, ma honey,
Let me take you to Alexander’s grand stand, brass
Ain’t you comin’ along?


Come on and hear, come on and hear
Alexander’s ragtime band,
Come on and hear, come on and hear,
It’s the best band in the land,
They can play a bugle call like you never heard
So natural that you want to go to war;
That’s just the bestest band what am, honey lamb,
Come on along, come on along,
Let me take you by the hand,
Up to the man, up to the man, who’s the leader of
  the band,
And if you care to hear the Swanee River played in
Come on and hear, come on and hear Alexander’s
ragtime Band.

Oh, ma honey, oh, ma honey,
There’s a fiddle with notes that screeches,
Like a chicken, like a chicken,
And the clarinet is a colored pet,
Come and listen, come and listen,
To a classical band what’s peaches, come now,
Better hurry along.



On a mountain in Virginia stands a lonesome pine,
Just below is the cabin home, of a little girl of mine,
Her name is June,
And very very soon,
She’ll belong to me,
For I know she’s waiting there for me,
’Neath that old pine tree.


In the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia,
On the trail of the lonesome pine,
In the pale moonshine our hearts entwine,
Where she carved her name and I carved mine,
Oh, June, like the mountains I’m blue,
Like the pine, I am lonesome for you,
In the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia,
On the trail of the lonesome pine.
I can hear the tinkling water-fall far among the hills,
Bluebirds sing each so merrily, to his mate rapture
They seem to say, Your June is lonesome too.
Longing fills her eyes,
She is waiting for you patiently,
Where the pine tree sighs.



Just a glance in your eyes, my bonnie Kate,
  Then over the sea go I,
While the sea-gulls circle around the ship,
  And the billowy waves roll high.
And over the sea and away, my Kate,
  Afar to the distant West;
But ever and ever a thought I’ll have,
  For the lassie who loves me best.


When the bell in the lighthouse rings ding, dong,
When it clangs with its warning loud and long,
  Then a sailor will think of his sweetheart so true,
  And long for the day he’ll come back to you;
And his love will be told in the bell’s brave song
When the bell in the lighthouse rings ding, dong,
  Ding!  Dong!  Ding!  Dong!
When the bell in the lighthouse rings
  Ding!  Dong!  Ding!  Dong!

For a day is to come, my bonnie Kate,
  When joy in our hearts shall reign
And we’ll laugh to think of the dangers past,
  When you rest in my arms again.
For back to your heart I will sail, my Kate,
  With love that is staunch and true;
In storm or in calm there’s a star of hope,
  That’s always to shine for you.



Everyone talk-a how they make-a da love
Call-a da sweet name like-a da dove,
It makes me sick when they start in to speak-a
Bout the moon way up above.
What’s-a da use to have-a big-a da moon?
What’s the use to call-a da dove
If he no like-a she, and she no like-a he,
The moon can’t make them love.  But,


Sweet Italian love,
Nice Italian love,

You don’t need the moon-a-light your love to tell her,
In da house or on da roof or in da cellar,
Dat’s Italian love,
Sweet Italian love;
When you kiss-a your pet,
And it’s-a like-a spagette,
Dat’s Italian love.

Ev’ryone say they like da moon-a da light,
There’s one-a man up in da moon all-a right,
But he no tell-a that some other nice feller
Was-a kiss your gal last night.
Maybe you give your gal da wedding-a ring,
Maybe you marry, like-a me
Maybe you love your wife, maybe for all your life,
But dat’s only maybe.  But,


Sweet Italian love,
Nice Italian love,
When you squeeze your gal and she no say, “Please
When you got dat twenty kids what call you “Papa!"
Dat’s Italian love,
Sweet Italian love;
When you kiss one-a time,
And it’s-a feel like-a mine,
Dat’s Italian love!



Once I got stuck on a sweet little German,
  And oh what a German was she,
The best what was walking, well, what’s the use talking,
  Was just made to order for me.
So lovely and witty; more yet, she was pretty,
  You don’t know until you have tried.
She had such a figure, it couldn’t be bigger,
  And there was some one yet beside.


Oh how that German could love,
  With a feeling that came from the heart,
She called me her honey, her angel, her money,
  She pushed every word out so smart.
She spoke like a speaker, and oh what a speech,
  Like no other speaker could speak;
Ach my, what a German when she kissed her Herman,
  It stayed on my cheek for a week.

This girl I could squeeze, and it never would hurt,
  For that lady knew how to squeeze;
Her loving was killing, more yet, she was willing,
  You never would have to say please.
I just couldn’t stop her, for dinner and supper,
  Some dishes and hugs was the food;
When she wasn’t nice it was more better twice;
  When she’s bad she was better than good.

Sometimes we’d love for a week at a time,
  And it only would seem like a day;
How well I remember, one night in December,
  I felt like the middle of May.
I’ll bet all I’m worth, that when she came on earth,
  All the angels went out on parade;
No other one turned up, I think that they burned up
  The pattern from which she was made.


Words and Music by CHARLES K. HARRIS

You sit at home and calmly read your paper,
  Which tells of thousands fighting day by day,
Of homeless babes and girls who’ve lost their sweet-hearts,
  But to your mind it all seems far away.


When it strikes home, gone is the laughter,
  When it strikes home your heart’s forlorn,
When it strikes home the tears fall faster,
  For those dear ones who’ve passed and gone.
And when you hear of brave boys dying,
  You may not care, they’re not your own;
But just suppose you lost your loved ones,
  That is the time when it strikes home.
Out on the street, a newsboy crying “Extra,"
  Another ship has gone down, they say;
’Tis then you kiss your wife and little daughter,
  Give heartfelt thanks that they are safe today.



The night time, the night time is calling me,
  It’s dream-time, sweet dream-time, for you and me.
I’m longing, I’m longing to close my eyes,
  For there a sweet vision lies.


My little dream girl,
You pretty dream girl,
Sometimes I seem, girl, to own your heart.
Each night you haunt me,
By day you taunt me,
I want you, I want you, I need you so.
Don’t let me waken,
Learn I’m mistaken,
Find my faith shaken, in you, sweetheart.
I’d sigh for,
I’d cry for, sweet dreams forever,
My little dream girl, good-night.

While shadows are creeping through darkest night,
  In dream-land, sweet dream-land, there’s your love-light.
It’s beaming, it’s gleaming, and all for me,
  Your vision I long to see.


Music by SOL. P. LEVY

Oh, those happy days, when first we met, before you
  said good-bye,
You soon forgot, I can’t forget, no matter how I try,
Those happy hours like incense burn,
  They’re all that’s left for me,
You took my heart and in return
  You gave a memory.

Oh, memories, dear memories, of days I can’t forget,
Dear memories, sweet memories, my eyes with tears grow wet,
  For like a rose that loves the sun,
  And left to die when day is done,
  I gave my all, the heart you won,
Sweetheart, I can’t forget.

In all my dreams I dream of you, your arms enfold
  me, dear.
Your tender voice makes dreams seem true, your
  lips to mine are near.
But when I turn your kiss to take,
  You turn away from me,
In bitter sadness I awake,
  Awake to memory.

Oh, memories, dear memories, a face I can’t forget,
Oh, memories, sweet memories, a voice that haunts me yet,
  For like a rose that loves the sun,
  And left to die when day is done,
  I gave my all, the heart you won,
Sweetheart, I can’t forget.



On the old farm-house veranda
There sat Silas and Miranda,
  Thinking of the days gone by.
Said he “Dearie, don’t be weary,
You were always bright and cheery,
  But a tear, dear, dims your eye."
Said she, “They’re tears of gladness,
Silas, they’re not tears of sadness,
  It is fifty years today since we were wed."
Then the old man’s dim eyes brightened,
And his stern old heart it lightened,
  As he turned to her and said:


“Put on your old grey bonnet with the blue ribbons
on it,
While I hitch old Dobbin to the shay,
And through the fields of clover, we’ll drive up to Dover,
  On our Golden Wedding Day.”

It was in the same old bonnet,
With the same blue ribbon on it,
  In the old shay by his side,
That he drove her up to Dover,
Thro’ the same old fields of clover,
  To become his happy bride.
The birds were sweetly singing
And the same old bells were ringing,
  As they passed the quaint old church where they were wed.
And that night when stars were gleaming,
The old couple lay a-dreaming,
  Dreaming of the words he said:



There was a fire burning in my heart,
  Burning for years and for years,
Your love and kisses gave that flame a start,
  I put it out with my tears;
You don’t remember, I can’t forget,
That old affection lives with me yet,
I keep on longing, to my regret,
I know I can’t forget.


There’s a little spark of love still burning,
  And yearning down in my heart for you,
There’s a longing there for your returning,
  I want you, I do!
So come, come, to my heart again,
Come, come, set that love aflame,
For there’s a little spark of love still burning,
And yearning for you.

I left you laughing when I said good-bye,
  Laughing, but nobody knew
How much relief I found when I could cry,
  I cried my heart out for you;
I’ve loved you more than you ever know,
Though years have passed I’ve wanted you so,
Bring back the old love, let new love grow,
Come back and whisper low:


The roses each one, met with the sun,
  Sweetheart, when I met you.
The sunshine had fled, the roses were dead,
  Sweetheart, when I lost you.


I lost the sunshine and roses,
I lost the heavens of blue,

  I lost the beautiful rainbow,
I lost the morning dew;
  I lost the angel who gave me
Summer the whole winter through,
  I lost the gladness that turned into sadness,
When I lost you.

The birds ceased their song, right turned to wrong,
  Sweetheart, when I lost you.
A day turned to years, the world seem’d in tears,
  Sweetheart, when I lost you.


Having read these eleven lyrics of varying emotions, note the rather obvious fact that

1. Most Popular Songs Have Two Verses and One Chorus

I am not now speaking of the “production song,” which may have a dozen verses, and as many different catch-lines in the chorus to stamp the one chorus as many different choruses, but only of the popular song. And furthermore, while two different choruses are sometimes used in popular songs, the common practice is to use but one chorus.

Now let us see the reason for a peculiarity that must have struck you in reading these lyrics.

2. A Regular Metre is Rare

Metre is the arrangement of emphatic and unemphatic syllables in verse on a measured plan, and is attained by the use of short syllables of speech varied in different rotations by long syllables. The metrical character of English poetry depends upon the recurrence of similarly accented syllables at short and more or less regular intervals. Let us take this as the definition of what I mean by metre in the few sentences in which I shall use the word.

Among recognized poets there has always been a rather strict adherence to regularity of form. Indeed, at times in the history of literature, poetry, to be considered poetry, had to confine itself to an absolutely rigid form. In such periods it has been as though the poet were presented with a box, whose depth and breadth and height could not be altered, and were then ordered to fill it full of beautiful thoughts expressed in beautiful words, and to fill it exactly, or be punished by having his work considered bad.

In ages past this rigidity of rule used to apply to the song-poet also, although the minstrel has always been permitted more latitude than other poets. To-day, however, the poet of the popular song may write in any measure his fancy dictates, and he may make his metre as regular or as irregular as he wishes. He may do anything he wants, in a song. Certainly, his language need not be either exact or “literary.” Practically all that is demanded is that his lyrics convey emotion. The song-poet’s license permits a world of metrical and literary sinning. I am not either apologizing for or praising this condition–I am simply stating a proved fact.

3. Irregularity of Metre May Even Be a Virtue

Even without “scanning” the lyrics of the eleven songs you have just read their irregularity of metre is plain. It is so plain that some of the irregularities rise up and smite your ears. This is why some popular songs seem so “impossible” without their music. And the reason why they seem so pleasing with their music is that the music takes the place of regularity with delightful satisfaction. The very irregularity is what often gives the composer his opportunity to contribute melodious punches, for the words of a popular song are a series of catchy phrases. In some cases irregularity in a song may be the crowning virtue that spells success.

4. Regularity and Precision of Rhymes Are Not Necessary

There is no need to point to specific examples of the lack of regularity in the recurrence of rhymes in most of the lyric specimens here printed, or in other famous songs. Nor is there any necessity to instance the obvious lack of precise rhyming. Neither of these poetic qualities has ever been a virtue of the average popular song-poet.

So far as the vital necessities of the popular song go, rhymes may occur regularly or irregularly, with fine effect in either instance, and the rhymes may be precise or not. To rhyme moon with June is not unforgivable. The success of a popular song depends on entirely different bases. Nevertheless, a finely turned bit of rhyming harmony may strike the ear and stand out from its fellows like a lovely symphony of fancy. If you have given any attention to this point of rhyming you can recall many instances of just what I mean.

5. Strive for Regular and Precise Rhyming–If Fitting

If you can be regular and if you can be precise in the use of rhymes in your song-poem, be regular and be precise. Don’t be irregular and slovenly just because others have been and succeeded. You will not succeed if you build your lyrics on the faults and not on the virtues of others. The song-poem that gleams like a flawless gem will have a wider and more lasting success–all other things being equal.

On the other hand, it is absolutely fatal to strive for regularity and precision, and thereby lose expression. If you have to choose, choose irregularity and faulty rhymes. This is an important bit of advice, for a song-poem is not criticized for its regularity and precision–it is either taken to heart and loved in spite of its defects, or is forgotten as valueless. As Winifred Black wrote of her child, “I love her not for her virtues, but oh, for the endearing little faults that make her what she is.”

6. Hints On Lyric Measures

Reference to the lyrics already instanced will show you that they are written in various measures. And while it is foreign to my purpose to discuss such purely technical points of poetry, [1] permit me to direct your attention to a few points of song measure.

[1] The Art of Versification, by J. Berg Esenwein and Mary Eleanor Roberts–one of the volumes in “The Writer’s Library"–covers this subject with a thoroughness it would be useless for me to attempt. Therefore if you wish to take this subject up more in detail, I refer you to this excellent book.

An individual poetic measure is attained by the use of metre in a certain distinct way. Because the normal combinations of the emphatic and the unemphatic syllables of the English language are but five, there are only five different poetic measures. Let us now see how an investigation of the bafflingly unexact measures of our examples will yield–even though their irregular natures will not permit of precise poetic instances–the few helpful hints we require.

(a) The first measure–called by students of poetry the trochaic measure–is founded on the use of a long or emphatic syllable followed by a short or unemphatic syllable, It has a light, tripping movement, therefore it is peculiarly fitted for the expression of lively subjects. One of our examples shows this rather clearly:

      ’           ’         ’         ’            ’
    There’s a  | little | spark of | love still | burning

Yet this is not a measure that is commonly found in the popular song. Other combinations seem to fit popular song needs quite as well, if not better.

(b) The second measure–called the iambic measure–is the reverse of the first. That is, the short or unemphatic syllable precedes the long or emphatic syllable. “Alexander’s Ragtime Band “ uses this measure at the beginning of the chorus.

             ’         ’          ’         ’
        Come on | and hear | come on | and hear

The first verse of Mr. Harris’s song shows this measure even more clearly:

        ’        ’          ’         ’           ’
   You sit | at home | and calm | ly read | your pa | per

This second measure, being less sustained in syllabic force, is more easily kept up than the first measure. It is therefore in common use.

(c) The third measure–called the dactylic measure–is formed of a combination of three syllables. Its characteristic is an emphatic syllable followed by two unemphatic syllables, as:

                   ’             ’
             The | old oak en | buck et

                   ’             ’
             The | iron bound | buck et

(d) The fourth measure–called by the frighteningly long name of amphibrachic measure–is formed by a short or unemphatic syllable followed by a long or emphatic syllable, which is followed again by another short or unemphatic syllable.

            ’                ’              ’
         I won der  | who’s kiss ing | her now

(e) The fifth measure–called anapestic measure–is made up of two short or unemphatic followed by a long or emphatic syllable.

            ’             ’                   ’
  When the bell | in the light | house rings ding | dong

All these three-syllabic measures have a quicker movement than the two-syllabic, owing to the greater number of unaccented, unemphatic syllables. They lend themselves to a rushing impetuosity of expression which is the notable characteristic of the popular song. But they are not always regular, even in high-grade poetry. Therefore in the popular song we may look for, and certainly be sure to find, all sorts of variations from the regular forms here given. Indeed, regularity, as has been clearly pointed out, is the exception and not the rule; for few single lines, and, in a still more marked degree, almost no songs, adhere to one measure throughout. Precisely as “apt alliteration’s artful aid” may be used or not used as may suit his purpose best, so the song-writer makes regularity of measure subservient to the effect he desires.

However, I give these examples not with a view to the encouragement of either regularity or irregularity. My purpose is to show you what combinations are possible, and to say, as the jockey whispers in the eager ear of the racehorse he has held back so long, “Go to it!” Break every rule you want to–only break a record. As Mr. Berlin said, “I’ve broken every rule of versification and of music, and the result has often been an original twist. In popular songs a comparative ignorance of music is an advantage. Further, since my vocabulary is somewhat limited through lack of education, it follows that my lyrics are simple.”

This is only Berlin’s modest way of saying that not one in ten successful song-writers know anything about the art of music, and that very few are well enough educated to err on the side of involved language and write other than simple lyrics. He drew the application as to himself alone, although his native genius makes it less true of him than of many another less gifted. The big point of this observation lies in his emphasis on the fact that

7. Simple Lyrics and Simple Music Are Necessary

Perhaps in Mr. Berlin’s statement rests the explanation of the curious fact that nearly all the successful popular song-writers are men who had few educational advantages in youth. Most of them are self-made men who owe their knowledge of English and the art of writing to their own efforts. Conversely, it may also explain why many well-educated persons strive for success in song-writing in vain. They seem to find it difficult to acquire the chief lyric virtue–simplicity.

Not only must the words of a popular song be “easy,” but the idea of the lyric must be simple. You cannot express a complex idea in the popular song-form, which is made up of phrases that sometimes seem short and abrupt. And, even if you could overcome this technical difficulty, you would not find an audience that could grasp your complex idea. Remember that a majority of the purchasers of popular songs buy them at the five- and ten-cent store. To sell songs to this audience, you must make your music easy to sing, your words easy to say and your idea simple and plain.

8. Rhythm the Secret of Successful Songs

Being barred from other than the simplest of ways, by his own limitations, his introducers and his market, the song-writer has to depend upon a purely inherent quality in his song for appeal. This appeal is complex in its way, being composed of the lure of music, rhyme and emotion, but when analyzed all the parts are found to have one element in common. This element to which all parts contribute is rhythm.

Now by rhythm I do not mean rhyme, nor metre, nor regularity. It has nothing necessarily to do with poetic measures nor with precision of rhymes. Let me attempt to convey what I mean by saying that the rhythm of a song is, as Irving Berlin said, the swing. To the swing of a song everything in it contributes. Perhaps it will be clearer when I say that rhythm is compounded of the exactness with which the words clothe the idea and with which the music clothes the words, and the fineness with which both words and music fit the emotion. Rhythm is singleness of effect. Yet rhythm is more–it is singleness of effect plus a sort of hypnotic fascination.

And here we must rest as nearly content as we can, for the final effect of any work of art does not admit of dissection. I have shown you some of the elements which contribute to making a popular song popular, and in the next chapter we shall see still others which are best discussed in the direct application of the writing, but even the most careful exposition must halt at the heart of the mystery of art. The soul of a song defies analysis.

9. Where the “Punch” in the Lyric is Placed

Just as it is necessary for a popular song to have a punch somewhere in its music, so it must come somewhere in its lyric. Just what a lyrical punch is may be seen in the chorus of “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine.”

       In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia,
         On the trail of the lonesome pine,
       In the pale moonshine our hearts entwine,
         Where she carved her name and I carved mine,
       Oh, June, like the mountains I’m blue,
         Like the pine, I am lonesome for you!
       In the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia,
         On the trail of the lonesome pine.

The underlined words are plainly the punch lines of this famous song–the most attractive lines of the whole lyric. Note where they are placed–in the chorus, and next to the last lines. Read the chorus of “My Little Dream Girl” and you will find a similar example of punch lines:

       I’d sigh for,
       I’d cry for, sweet dreams forever,
       My little dream girl, good night.

These, also, are placed next to the last lines of the chorus.

The punch lines of “When it Strikes Home,” are found in

       And when you hear of brave boys dying,
         You may not care, they’re not your own,
       But just suppose you lost your loved one
         That is the time when it strikes home.

Here the punch is placed at the very end of the chorus.

Now test every song on your piano by this laboratory method. You will find that while there may be punch lines at the end of the verses there are nearly always punch lines at the end of the chorus. There must be a reason for this similarity in all these popular songs. And the reason is this: The emphatic parts of a sentence are the beginning and end. The emphatic part of a paragraph is the end. If you have a number of paragraphs, the last must be the most emphatic. This is a common rule of composition founded on the law of attention–we remember best what is said last. The same thing is true of songs. And song-writers are compelled by vaudeville performers to put a punch near the end of their choruses because the performer must reap applause. Thus commerce keeps the song-writer true to the laws of good art. Therefore remember:

The most attractive lines of a popular song must be the last lines, or next to the last lines, of the chorus.

This holds true whether the song is a “sob” ballad or a humorous number. And–strictly adhering to this rule–put a punch, if you can, at the end of each verse. But whether you put a punch at the end of a verse or not, always put a punch close to the end of your chorus.

10. Contrast an Element of the “Punch”

One of the easiest ways of securing the vitally necessary punch lies in contrast. Particularly is this true in humorous songs–it is the quick twist that wins the laughter. But in all songs contrast may form a large part of the punch element.

The ways of securing a contrast are too many to permit of discussion here, but I name a few:

You may get contrast by switching the application as Harris did in:

     You may not care, they’re not your own,
     But just suppose you lost your loved one.

Or you may get contrast by changing your metre and using a contrasting measure. While you may do this in the middle of the chorus, it is nearly always done throughout the chorus. I mean that the measure of the chorus is usually different from the measure used in the verse.

And of course when you change the measure of your lyric, the movement of the music changes too. It is in the resulting contrasting melody that lies much of the charm of the popular song.

But, whatever means you use, be sure you have a contrast somewhere in your lyric–a contrast either of subject matter, poetic measure or musical sounds.

11. Love the Greatest Single Element

If you will review all the great song successes of this year and of all the years that are past, you will come to the conclusion that without love there could be no popular song. Of course there have been songs that have not had the element of love concealed anywhere in their lyrics, but they are the exceptions.

If your song is not founded on love, it is well to add this element, for when you remember that the song’s reason for being is emotion, and that the most moving emotion in the world is love, it would seem to be a grave mistake to write any song that did not offer this easy bid for favor. If you have not love in your lyrics make haste to remedy the defect.

The ballad is perhaps the one form by which the greatest number of successful song-writers have climbed to fame. It is also one of the easiest types to write. It should seem worth while, then, for the newcomer to make a ballad one of his earliest bids for fame.

12. The Title

The title of a song is the advertising line, and therefore it must be the most attractive in your song. It is the whole song summed up in one line. It may be a single word or a half-dozen words. It is not the punch line always. It is often the very first line of the chorus, but it is usually the last line.

There is little need for constructive thought in choosing a title. All that is necessary is to select the best advertising line already written. You have only to take the most prominent line and write it at the top of your lyrics. Study the titles of the songs in this chapter and you will see how easy it is to select your title after you have written your song.

To sum up: a great lyric is as necessary to the success of a popular song as a great melody, but not more necessary. A lyric is a verse that conveys a great deal of emotion. Most popular songs have two verses and one chorus. A regular metre is rare; irregularity may even be a virtue. The regular occurrence of rhymes and precise rhymes are not necessary–but it is better to strive after regularity and precision. There are five lyrical measures common to all poetry, but you may break every rule if you only break a record. Rhythm–the swing–is the secret of successful songs. Every lyric must have one or more punch lines–which may occur at the end of each verse, but must be found in the last lines of the chorus. Contrast–either of idea, poetic measure or music–is one sure way of securing the punch. Love is the greatest single element that makes for success in a song idea. The one-word standard of popular-song writing is simplicity–music easy to sing, words easy to say, the idea simple and plain.

Chapter XXIII - Writing the Popular Song

In the preceding chapters we saw how the elements of a popular song are nearly identical in music and in lyrics, no matter how the styles of songs may differ. In this chapter we shall see how these elements may be combined–irrespective of styles–into a song that the boy on the street will whistle, and the hand organs grind out until you nearly go mad with the repetition of its rhythm.

Not only because it will be interesting, but because such an insight will help to a clear understanding of methods I shall ask you to glance into a popular song publisher’s professional department.


A very large room–an entire floor, usually–is divided into a reception room, where vaudeville and cabaret performers are waiting their turns to rehearse, and half-a-dozen little rooms, each containing a piano. As the walls of these rooms are never very thick, and often are mere partitions running only two-thirds of the way to the ceiling, the discord of conflicting songs is sometimes appalling. Every once in a while some performer comes to the manager of the department and insists on being rehearsed by the writers of the latest song-hit themselves. And as often as not the performer is informed that the writers are out. In reality, perhaps, they are working on a new song in a back room. Being especially privileged, let us go into that back room and watch them at work.

All there is in the room is a piano and a few chairs. One of the chairs has a broad arm, or there may be a tiny table or a desk. With this slender equipment two persons are working as though the salvation of the world depended on their efforts. One of them is at the piano and the other is frowning over a piece of paper covered with pencil marks.

Perhaps the composer had the original idea–a theme for a melody. Perhaps the lyric writer had one line–an idea for a song. It does not matter at all which had the idea originally, both are obsessed by it now.

“Play the chorus over, will you?” growls the writer. Obediently the composer pounds away, with the soft pedal on, and the writer sings his words so that the composer can hear them. There comes a line that doesn’t fit. “No good!” they say together.

“Can’t you change that bar?” inquires the writer.

“I’ll try,” says the composer. “Gimme the sheet.”

They prop it up on the piano and sing it together.

“Shut up!” says the composer. And the writer keeps still until the other has pounded the offending bar to fit.

Or perhaps the writer gets a new line that fits the music. “How’s this?” he cries with the intonation Columbus must have used when he discovered the new world.

“Punk!” comments the composer. “You can’t rhyme ’man’ with ’grand’ and get away with it these days.”

“Oh, all right,” grumbles the harassed song-poet, and changes both lines to a better rhyme. “I don’t like that part,” he gets back at the composer, “it sounds like ’Waiting at the Church.’”

“How’s this, then?” inquires the composer, changing two notes.

“Fine,” says the lyric writer, for the new variation has a hauntingly familiar sound, too elusive to label–is amazingly catchy.

For hours, perhaps, they go on in this way–changing a note here, a whole bar there, revising the lyric every few lines, substituting a better rhyme for a bad one, and building the whole song into a close-knit unity.

At last the song is in pretty good shape. As yet there is no second verse, but the “Boss” is called in and the boys sing him the new song. “Change ’dream’ to ’vision’–it sounds better,” he says; or he may have a dozen suggestions–perhaps he gives the song a new punch line. He does his part in building it up, and then the arranger is called in.

With a pad of manuscript music paper, and a flying pencil, he jots down the melody nearly as fast as the composer can pound it out on tne piano. “Get a ’lead-sheet’ ready as quick as you can, commands the Boss. “We’ll try it out tonight.”

“Right!” grunts the arranger, and rushes away to give the melody a touch here and there. As often as not, he comes back to tell the composer how little that worthy knows about music and to demand that a note be changed or a whole bar recast to make it easier to play, but at last he appears with a “lead-sheet"–a mere suggestion of the song to be played, with all the discretion the pianist commands–and the composer, the lyric writer and the “Boss” go across the street to some cabaret and try out the new song.

Here, before an audience, they can tell how much of a song they really have. They may have something that is a “winner,” and they may see that their first judgment was wrong–they may have only the first idea of a hit.

But let us suppose that the song is a “knock ’em off their seats" kind, that we may get down to the moral of this little narrative of actual happenings. The “pluggers” are called in and bidden to memorize the song. They spend the afternoon singing it over and over again–and then they go out at night and sing it in a dozen different places all over the city. On their reports and on what the “Boss” sees himself as he visits place after place, the decision is made to publish immediately or to work the song over again. It is the final test before an audience that determines the fate of any song. The new song may never be sung again, or tomorrow the whole city may be whistling it.

And now permit me to indicate a point that lies in the past of the song we have seen in process of manufacture: From somewhere the composer gets an idea for a melody–from somewhere the lyric writer gets an idea for a lyric.

But we must put the music of a song to one side and devote our attention to the lyric.


1. Sources of Ideas for Song Lyrics

As a popular song becomes popular because it fits into the life of the day and is the individual expression of the spirit of the moment, Charles K. Harris was doubtless right when he said:

“The biggest secret of success, according to my own system, is the following out in songs of ideas current in the national brain at the moment. My biggest song successes have always reflected the favorite emotion–if I may use the word–of the people of the day. How do I gauge this? Through the drama! The drama moves in irregular cycles, and changes in character according to the specific tastes of the public. The yearly mood of the nation is reflected by the drama and the theatrical entertainment of the year. At least, I figure it out this way, and compose my songs accordingly.

“Here are just two instances of my old successes built on this plan: When ’The Old Homestead’ and ’In Old Kentucky’ were playing to crowded houses, I wrote ’’Midst the Green Fields of Virginia’ and ’In the Hills of Old Carolina,’ and won. Then when Gillette’s war plays, ’Held by the Enemy’ and ’Secret Service’ caught the national eye, I caught the national ear with ’Just Break the News to Mother.’ But these are examples enough to show you how the system works.”

Irving Berlin said, “You can get a song idea from anywhere. I have studied the times and produced such songs as ’In My Harem’ when the Greeks were fleeing from the Turks and the harem was a humorous topic in the daily newspapers. And I have got ideas from chance remarks of my friends. For instance:

“I wrote ’My Wife’s Gone to the Country’ from the remark made to me by a friend when I asked him what time he was going home. ’I don’t have to go home,’ he said, ’my wife’s gone to the country.’ It struck me as a great idea for a title for a song, but I needed a note of jubilation, so I added ’Hooray, Hooray!’ The song almost wrote itself. I had the chorus done in a few minutes, then I dug into the verse, and it was finished in a few hours.”

L. Wolfe Gilbert wrote “Robert E. Lee” from the “picture lines" in one of his older songs, “Mammy’s Shuffiing Dance” and a good old-fashioned argument that he and I had about the famous old Mississippi steamboat. That night when I came back to the office we shared, Gilbert read me his lyric. From the first the original novelty of the song was apparent, and in a few days the country was whistling the levee dance of ’Daddy’ and ’Mammy,’ and ’Ephram’ and ’Sammy,’ as they waited for the Robert E. Lee. Had Gilbert ever seen a levee? No–but out of his genius grew a song that sold into the millions.

“Most of our songs come from imagination,” said Joe McCarthy. “A song-writer’s mind is ever alert for something new. What might pass as a casual remark to an outsider, might be a great idea to a writer. For instance, a very dear young lady friend might have said, ’You made me love you–I didn’t want to do it.’ Of course no young lady friend said that to me–I just imagined it. And then I went right on and imagined what that young lady would have said if she had followed that line of thought to a climax.”

“It’s the chance remark that counts a lot to the lyric writer," said Ballard MacDonald. “You might say something that you would forget the next minute–while I might seize that phrase and work over it until I had made it a lyric.”

But, however the original idea comes–whether it creeps up in a chance remark of a friend, or the national mood of the moment is carefully appraised and expressed, or seized “out of the air,” let us suppose you have an idea, and are ready to write your song. The very first thing you do, nine chances out of ten, is to follow the usual method of song-writers:

2. Write Your Chorus First

The popular song is only as good as its chorus. For whistling purposes there might just as well be no verses at all. But of course you must have a first verse to set your scene and lead up to your chorus, and a second verse to finish your effect and give you the opportunity to pound your chorus home. Therefore you begin to write your chorus around your big idea.

This idea is expressed in one line–your title, your catchy line, your “idea line,” if you like–and if you will turn to the verses of the songs reproduced in these chapters you will be able to determine about what percentage of times the idea line is used to introduce the chorus. But do not rest content with this examination; carry your investigation to all the songs on your piano. Establish for yourself, by this laboratory method, how often the idea line is used as a chorus introduction.

Whether your idea line is used to introduce your chorus or not, it is usually wise to end your chorus with it. Most choruses–but not all, as “Put on your Old Grey Bonnet,” would suggest–end with the idea line, on the theory that the emphatic spots in any form of writing are at the beginning and the end–and of these the more emphatic is the end. Therefore, you must now concentrate your chorus to bring in that idea line as the very last line.

3. Make the Chorus Convey Emotion

As we saw in the previous chapter, a lyric is a set of verses that conveys emotion. The purpose of the first verse is to lead up to the emotion–which the chorus expresses. While, as I shall demonstrate later, a story may be proper to the verses, a story is rarely told in the chorus. I mean, of course, a story conveyed by pure narrative, for emotion may convey a story by sheer lyrical effect. Narrative is what you must strive to forget in a chorus–in your chorus you must convey emotion swiftly–that is, with a punch.

While it is impossible for anyone to tell you how to convey emotion, one can point out one of the inherent qualities of emotional speech.

4. Convey Emotion by Broad Strokes

When a man rushes through the corridors of a doomed liner he does not stop to say, “The ship has struck an iceberg–or has been torpedoed–and is sinking, you’d better get dressed quickly and get on deck and jump into the boats.” He hasn’t time. He cries, "The ship’s sinking! To the boats!”

This is precisely the way the song-writer conveys his effect. He not only cuts out the “thes” and the “ands” and the “ofs” and “its" and “perhapses"–he shaves his very thoughts down–as the lyrics printed in these chapters so plainly show–until even logic of construction seems engulfed by the flood of emotion. Pare down your sentences until you convey the dramatic meaning of your deep emotion, not by a logical sequence of sentences, but by revealing flashes.

5. Put Your Punch in Clear Words Near the End

And now you must centre all your thoughts on your punch lines. Punch lines, as we saw, are sometimes the entire point of a song–they are what makes a “popular” lyric get over the footlights when a performer sings the song and they are the big factor–together with the music punches–that make a song popular. However lyrical you have been in the beginning of your chorus, you must now summon all your lyrical ability to your aid to write these, the fate-deciding lines.

But note that emotion, however condensed the words may be that express it, must not be so condensed that it is incoherent. You must make your punch lines as clear in words as though you were drawing a diagram to explain a problem in geometry. The effect you must secure is that of revealing clearness.

Be very careful not to anticipate your punch lines. For instance, if Mr. Gilbert had used “All day I sigh, all night I cry,” before "I’d sigh for, I’d cry for, sweet dreams forever” in his “My Little Dream Girl,” the whole effect would have been lost. As your punch lines must be the most attractive lines, keep them new and fresh, by excluding from the rest of your song anything like them.

If you can put your punch in the very last lines, fine. If you wish to put your punch lines just before the last two lines–in the third and fourth lines from the last–well and good. But it is never wise to put your punch so far from the end that your audience will forget it before you finish and expect something more. It is a good rule to write your punch lines and then end your song.

Having constructed your chorus from a beginning that uses or does not use your idea line, and having by broad strokes that convey emotion developed it into your punch lines, you end your chorus, usually, but not invariably, with your idea line–your title line.

Now you are ready to write your first verse.

6. Make the First Verse the Introduction of the Chorus

If you have characters in your song, introduce them instantly. If you are drawing a picture of a scene, locate it in your first line. If your song is written in the first person–the “you and I" kind–you must still establish your location and your “you and I" characters at once. If you keep in mind all the time you are writing that your first verse is merely an introduction, you will not be likely to drag it out.

(a) Write in impersonal mood–that is, make your song such that it does not matter whether a man or a woman sings it. Thus you will not restrict the wide use of your song. Anyone and everyone can sing it on the stage. Furthermore, it will be apt to sell more readily.

(b) “Tell a complete story” is a rule that is sometimes laid down for popular song-writers. But it depends entirely upon what kind of song you are writing whether it is necessary to tell a story or not. “A story is not necessary,” Berlin says, and an examination of the lyrics in the preceding chapter, and all the lyrics on your piano, will bear him out in this assertion.

All you need remember is that your song must express emotion in a catchy way. If you can do this best by telling a story, compress your narrative into your verses, making your chorus entirely emotional.

(c) “Make your verses short” seems to be the law of the popular song today. In other years it was the custom to write long verses and short choruses. Today the reverse seems to be the fashion. But whether you decide on a short verse or a long verse–and reference to the latest songs will show you what is best for you to write–you must use as few words as possible to begin your story and–with all the information necessary to carry over the points of your chorus–to lead it up to the joining lines.

7. Make Your Second Verse Round Out the Story

You have introduced your chorus in your first verse, and the chorus has conveyed the emotion to which the first verse gave the setting. Now in your second verse round out the story so that the repetition of the chorus may complete the total effect of your song.

More than upon either the first verse or the chorus, unity of effect depends upon the second verse. In it you must keep to the key of emotion expressed in the chorus and to the general trend of feeling of the first verse. If your first verse tells a love-story of two characters, it is sometimes well to change the relations of the characters in the second verse and make the repetition of the chorus come as an answer. But, whatever you make of your second verse, you must not give it a different story. Don’t attempt to do more than round out your first-verse story to a satisfying conclusion, of which the chorus is the completing end.

And now we have come to

8. The Punch Lines in the Verses

Toward the end of each verse it is customary to place punch lines which are strong enough pictorially to sum up the contents of the verse and round it out into the chorus. In humorous songs, these punch lines are often used as the very last lines, and the first line of the chorus is depended on to develop the snicker into a laugh, which is made to grow into a roar with the punch lines of the chorus. In other words, there are in every song three places where punch lines must be used. The most important is toward the end of the chorus, and the other places are toward the end of the verses.

9. Don’ts for Verse Last-Lines

Don’t end your lines with words that are hard to enunciate–there are dozens of them, of which are “met,” and most of the dental sounds. Experience alone can teach you what to avoid. But it may be said that precisely the same reason that dictates the use of open vowels on rising notes, dictates that open sounds are safest with which to end lines, because the last notes of a song are often rising notes. This applies with emphatic force, also, to your chorus. Never use such unrhetorical and laugh-provoking lines as the grotesquely familiar “and then to him I did say.”

Don’t always feel that it is necessary to tell the audience “here is the chorus.” Imagination is common to all, and the chorus is predicted by the turn of thought and the “coming to it” feeling of the melody.


Having gone over your verses and made sure that you have punch lines that rise out of the narrative effect into revealing flashes, and are completed and punched home by the punch lines of the chorus, and having made sure that your lyrics as a whole are the best you can write, you must give thought to the music.

1. The “One Finger Composer’s” Aid

If you are the sort of modern minstrel who has tunes buzzing in his head, it is likely that you will have composed a melody to fit your lyrics. The chances are that you know only enough about music to play the piano rather indifferently. Or, you may be an accomplished pianist without possessing a knowledge of harmony sufficient to admit of your setting down your melody in the form of a good piano score. But even if you are only able to play the piano with one finger, you need not despair. There are dozens of well-known popular song composers who are little better off. You may do precisely what they do–you can call to your aid an arranger. This is the first moral I shall draw from the true story with which this chapter begins.

As the composer played over his melody for the arranger to take down in musical notes, you may sing, whistle or play your melody on the piano with one finger, for the arranger to take down your song. All you need give him is the bare outline of your melody. At best it will be but a forecasting shadow of what he will make out of it. From it he will make you a “lead-sheet,” the first record of your melody. Then, if you desire, he will arrange your melody into a piano part, precisely identical in form with any copy of a song you have seen. With this piano version–into which the words have been carefully written in their proper places–you may seek your publisher.

For taking down the melody and making an “ink lead-sheet,” the arranger will charge you from one to two dollars. For a piano copy he will charge you anywhere from three to ten dollars–the average price is about five dollars.

2. Be Sure Your Words and Music Fit Exactly

Here we may draw the second moral from the little scene we witnessed in the song publisher’s room–this is the big lesson of that scene. In a word, successful song-writers consider a song not as a lyric and a melody, but as a composite of both. A successful song is a perfect fusing of both. The melody writer is not averse to having his melody changed, if by changing it a better song can be made. And the successful lyric writer is only too glad to change his words, if a hit can be produced. With the one end in view, they go over their song time after time and change lyrics and melody with ruthless hands until a whistle-making unity rises clear and haunting.

This is what you must now do with your song. You must bend all your energies to making it a perfect blend of words and music–a unity so compressed and so compactly lyrical that to take one little note or one little word away would ruin the total effect.

This is why

3. Purchasing Music for a Song is Seldom Advisable

If you are invited to purchase music for a new song, it is the part of wisdom to refuse–because only in very rare instances has a successful song been the result of such a method. The reason is perfectly plain, when you consider that the composer who offers you a melody for a cash price is interested only in the small lump sum he receives. You are his market. He does not care anything about the market the music must make for itself, first with a publisher and then with the public.

Therefore, no matter how willing a composer may appear to change his melody to fit your song, scan his proposition with a cynical eye. On the surface he will make the music fit, but he would be wasting his time if he worked over your lyric and his music to the extent that a composer who is paid by the ultimate success of a song would have to labor.

It is very much better to take your chances with even an inferior melody maker who is as much interested as you are in a final success. And when you have found a composer, do not quibble about changing your words to fit his music. And don’t fear to ask him to change his melody, wherever constant work on the song proves that a change is necessary. It is only by ceaselessly working over both words and melody that a song is turned into a national whistle.


[1] The matter under this section would seem to be an integral part of the following Chapter, “Manuscripts and Markets,” but it is included in this chapter because some of the points require a discussion too expansive for the general treatment employed in describing the handling of other stage material.

You have written your lyrics, and you have fashioned your melody, or you have found a composer who is anxious to make his melody fit your lyrics so perfectly that they have been fused into a unity so complete that it seems all you have to do to start everybody whistling it is to find a publisher. And so you set about the task.

1. Private Publication Seldom Profitable

While it is perfectly true that there have been many songs that have paid handsome profits from private publication, it is more nearly exact to believe that private publication never pays. Printers and song publishers who make a business of this private trade will often lure the novice by citing the many famous songs "published by their writers.” Whenever you see such an advertisement, or whenever such an argument is used in a sales talk, dig right down to the facts of the case. Nine chances out of ten, you will find that the writers are successful popular song publishers–it is their business to write for their own market. Furthermore–and this is the crux of the matter–they have a carefully maintained sales force and an intricate outlet for all their product, which would take years for a “private publisher” to build up. Really, you cannot expect to make any money by private publication, even at the low cost of song-printing these days–unless you are willing to devote all your energies to pushing your song. And even then, the song must be exceptional to win against the better organized competition.

2. Avoid the “Song Poem” Advertiser

It is never my desire to condemn a class even though a majority of that class may be worthy of reproach. Therefore, instead of inveighing against the “song-poem” fakir with sounding periods of denunciation, permit me to state the facts in this way:

The advertisers for song-poems may be divided into two classes. In the first class are publishers who publish songs privately for individuals who have enough money to indulge a desire to see their songs in print. The writer may not intend his song for public sale. He wishes to have it printed so that he may give copies to his friends and thus satisfy his pride by their plaudits. It is to these song-writers that the honest “private publisher” offers a convenient and often cheap opportunity. His dealings are perfectly honest and fair, because he simply acts as a printer, and not as a publisher, for he does not offer to do more than he can perform.

The second class of song-poem advertisers lure writers by all sorts of glowing promises. They tell you how such and such a song made thousands of dollars for its writer. They offer to furnish music to fit your lyrics. They will supply lyrics to fit your music. They will print your song and push it to success. They will do anything at all–for a fee! And I have heard the most pitiful tales imaginable of high hopes at the beginning and bitter disappointment at the end, from poor people who could ill afford the money lost.

These “publishers” are not fair–they are not honest. They make their living from broken promises, and pocket the change with a grin over their own cleverness. Why these men cannot perform what they promise is perfectly plain in the light of all that has been said about the popular song. It does not need repetition here. If you wish to publish your song privately for distribution among your friends, seek the best and cheapest song printer you can find. But if you hope to make your fortune through publication for which you must pay–in which the publisher has nothing to lose and everything to win–take care! At least consider the proposition as a long shot with the odds against you–then choose the fairest publisher you can find.

3. How to Seek a Market for Your Song

But let us hope that you are the sort of song-writer who is anxious to test his ability against the best. You do not care to have your song published unless it wins publication on its merits–and unless you can be reasonably sure of making some money out of it. You aspire to have your song bear the imprint of one of the publishers whose song-hits are well known. To find the names and addresses of such publishers you have only to turn over the music on your piano. There is no need to print individual names here.

But a few words of direction as to the way you should approach your market may be helpful. I quote here the composite opinion of all the well-known song publishers with whom I have talked:

“To find a great song in the manuscripts that come through the mail–is a dream. It is rare that the mail brings one worthy of publication. If I were a song-writer I should not submit my song through the mails. Of course, if I were far from the big markets I should be compelled to. But if I were anywhere near the market I should go right to the publisher and demonstrate the song to him.

“You see, I must be convinced that a song is a winner before I’ll gamble my money on its publication. And the only way I can be easily convinced is to be compelled to listen to the song. Naturally, being a song publisher, I think I know a hit when I hear it–I may ’kid’ myself into believing I can pick winners, but I can be made to see the possibilities by actual demonstration, where I might ’pass a song up’ in manuscript.”

Therefore, it would seem wise to offer a song through the mails only when a personal visit and demonstration are impossible. You need not copyright your song, if you send it to a reputable publisher. All you need do is to submit it with a short letter, offering it on the usual royalty basis, and enclose stamps for return, if it is not available. From two to four weeks is the usual time required for consideration.

If you are near a song publisher, the very best thing you can do is to fortify yourself with unassailable faith in your song and then make the publisher listen to you. If you have a song that shows any promise at all, the chances are that you will come out of the door an hour later with a contract.

Chapter XXIV - Manuscripts and Markets

It is in the hope of directing you to your market that this chapter is designed. But there is no form of writing for which it is more difficult to point out a sure market than for vaudeville material. Even the legitimate stage–with its notorious shifting of plans to meet every veering wind–is not more fickle than the vaudeville stage. The reason for this is, of course, to be found in the fact that the stage must mirror the mind of the nation, and the national mind is ever changing. But once let the public learn to love what you have given them, and they will not jilt your offering in a day. The great advantage the writer of vaudeville material today has over every one of his predecessors, lies in the fact that the modern methods of handling the vaudeville business lend him security in the profits of his success.

1. Preparing the Manuscript

(a) The acceptable manuscript forms into which all vaudeville material may be cast may be learned by consulting the examples of the different vaudeville acts given in the appendix to this volume. A moment’s examination of them will show you that there is no difference between the manuscript ways of presenting the different acts. All are made up of the names of characters, business and dialogue. Therefore they may all be discussed at the same time.

(b) Have your manuscript typewritten. This suggestion has the force of law. While it would seem self-evident that a manuscript written out in long hand has a mussy appearance, however neat the writing may be, the many hand-written manuscripts I have tried to read suggest the necessity for pointing out this fact. You surely handicap your manuscript by offering it in long hand to a busy producer.

(c) The two recognized methods for the typing of stage manuscripts. First, the entire manuscript is typed in black, blue or purple. Then, after the manuscript is complete, the name of the character above each speech is underlined in red ink, and every bit of business throughout the manuscript is also underlined in red. This method is illustrated below.

[Here, text originally underlined in red appear in all CAPS.]



  GRAVES.  Yes.  (TURNS TO DICTIONARY) That’s all.

  GRAVES.  Burton!

  BURTON.  Yes, sir.

  GRAVES.  Where’s Sam?

  BURTON.  He went out, sir---

  GRAVES.  Went out?

  BURTON.  Y-yes, sir.  About a quarter of an hour ago.

  GRAVES.  Where to?

  BURTON.  He didn’t say, sir.


  MEAD.    Anything wrong?

  GRAVES (LAMELY) No, no.  Don’t mind me.  Marlin’s
proposition’s all right---

                   SIGHT OF GRAVES’S EMOTION)



  MEAD.    Christopher!

Second, a typewriter using two colors is employed. The name of the character above each speech is typed in red, and red is used to type the bits of business. The speeches alone are typed in black, blue or purple as the case may be. The following example illustrates this method.




Heavens!  It reads like a fairy tale, doesn’t it?


I don’t know; does it?


Yes; and many thanks.  I’ll do my best not to let you
regret it.---Only, in the old fairy tale, you know, it always
ended with the---the young man’s marrying the---the rich
old geezer’s daughter!


And I’m the rich old geezer, eh?  Well, I mightn’t ’a’ been
half as rich this minute if it wasn’t for you!---Heigho!

Now, I suppose my cantankerous daughter wouldn’t have you,
Piercy; not if I said anything to her about it.  But if she
would---and you was willin’---


---why, you’re just about the feller I’d want her to have.



Say, Boss, put her there again!

Do you know, you and I are getting to be better friends

Either of these methods serves the same purpose equally well. The aim is to separate the names and business from the dialogue, so that the difference may be plain at a glance. The use of either of these ways of typing a manuscript is desirable, but not absolutely necessary.

(d) Use a “record ribbon” in typewriting manuscript, because a "copying ribbon “ smudges easily and will soil the hands of the reader. Observation of this mechanical point is a big help in keeping a manuscript clean–and respecting the temper of your judge.

(e) Neatness is a prime requisite in any manuscript offered for sale. Be sure that the finished copy is free from erasures and penciled after-thoughts. “Do all your after-thinking beforehand," or have a clean, new copy made.

(f) Re-copy a soiled manuscript as soon as it shows evidence of handling. Keep your “silent salesman” fresh in appearance.

(g) Bind your manuscript in a flexible cover to give it a neat appearance and make it handy to read.

(h) Type your name and address in full on the outside of the cover, and on the first white page. Thus you stamp the manuscript as your act, and it always bears your address in case of loss.

(i) Have your act copyrighted is a bit of advice that would seem needless, but many performers and producers refuse to read an act unless it is copyrighted. The copyright–while it is not as good proof in court as a public performance–is nevertheless a record that on such and such a date the author deposited in the Library of Congress a certain manuscript. This record can be produced as incontrovertible evidence of fact. The view of the performer and the producer is that he wishes to protect the author as much as possible–but himself more. He desires to place beyond all possibility any charge of plagiarism. Therefore, copyright the final version of your act and typewrite on the cover the date of copyright and the serial number.

(j) How to copyright the manuscript of a vaudeville act. Write to the Register of Copyrights, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., asking him to send you the blank form prescribed by law to copyright an unpublished dramatic composition. Do not send stamps, as it is unnecessary. In addition to the blank you will receive printed instructions for filling it out, and full information covering the copyright process. The fee is one dollar, which includes a certificate of copyright entry. This covers copyright in the United States only; if you desire to copyright in a foreign country, consult a lawyer.

(k) The preparation of a scene plot should not be a difficult task if you will remember that you need merely draw a straight-line diagram–such as are shown in the chapter on “The Vaudeville Stage and its Dimensions"–so as to make your word-description perfectly clear. On this diagram it is customary to mark the position of chairs, tables, telephones and other properties incidental to the action of the story. But a diagram is not absolutely necessary. Written descriptions will be adequate, if they are carefully and concisely worded.

(l) The preparation of property plots and light plots has been mentioned in the chapter on “The Vaudeville Stage and Its Dimensions," therefore they require a word here. They are merely a list of the properties required and directions for any changes of lighting that may occur in the act. For a first presentation of a manuscript, it is quite unnecessary for you to bother about the technical plots (arrangement plans) of the stage. If your manuscript is acceptable, you may be quite sure that the producer will supply these plots himself.

(m) Do not offer “parts” with your manuscript. A “part” consists of the speeches and business indicated for one character, written out in full, with the cues given by the other characters–the whole bound so as to form a handy copy for the actor to study. For instance, there would be four “parts” in a four-people playlet manuscript–therefore you would be offering a producer five manuscripts in all, and the bulk of your material might deter a busy man from reading it carefully. If your manuscript progresses in its sale to the point where parts are desired, the producer will take care of this detail for you. And until you have made a sale, it is a waste of money to have parts made.

2. The Stage Door the Vaudeville Market-Place

Unlike nearly every other specialized business, there is a market in each city of the country for vaudeville material. This market is the stage door of the vaudeville theatre. While it would be unlikely that a dramatist would find a market for a long play at the “legitimate” stage door–although this has happened–there are peculiar reasons why the stage door may be your market-place. A large percentage of vaudeville performers are the owners of their own acts. They buy the material, produce it themselves, and play in it themselves. And they are ever on the lookout for new material.

Not only is there a market at the stage door, but that market changes continually. Without fear of exaggeration it may be said that with the weekly and sometimes semi-weekly changes of the bill in each house, there will in time flow past the stage door nearly all the acts which later appear in vaudeville.

Offering a manuscript at the stage door, however, should not be done without preparation. As you would not rush up to a business man on the street or spring at him when he emerges from his office door, you certainly would not care to give a vaudeville performer the impression that you were lying in wait for him.

(a) The personal introduction is a distinct advantage in any business, therefore it would be an advantage for you to secure, if possible, a personal introduction to the performer. However, you must be as discriminating in choosing the person to make that introduction as you would were you selecting an endorser at a bank. A stage-hand or an usher is likely to do you more harm than good. The “mash notes” they may have carried “back stage” would discount their value for you. The manager of the theatre, however, might arrange an introduction that would be of value. At least he can find out for you if the performer is in the market at the time.

(b) The preliminary letter is never amiss, therefore it would seem advisable to write to the performer for whom you feel sure you have an act that will fit. Make the letter short. Simply ask him if he is in the market for material, state that you have an act that you would like him to read, and close by requesting an appointment at his convenience.

Do not take up his time by telling him what a fine act you have. He does not know you, and if you praise it too highly he may be inclined to believe that you do not have anything worth while. But do not under-rate your material, either, in the hope of engaging his attention by modesty. Leave it for him to find out if you have an act, first, that is worth while, and second, that fits him.

If you do not hear from the performer, you may be sure that he is not interested in your act. He may be out for the first few weeks in a brand new act, and not in the market at all. So if you do not hear from him, wait until another act comes along and you see someone for whom your act is “just made.”

(c) Should you receive a favorable reply to your request for an appointment, you may be reasonably sure that your prospective purchaser at least needs a new act. In meeting your appointment, be on time, and have someone with you. A woman, of course, would have a chaperon, precisely as she would if she were meeting any other stranger. And a man might care to have someone to engage the attention of the performer’s companion and leave him an uninterrupted opportunity to talk business.

(d) Ask for an immediate reading of your manuscript, or at least request it read the next day, when you can be present while he is reading it. Do not leave a manuscript to be returned to you by mail. Vaudeville performers are as honest as any other class of men, but they are busy people and the thing that is put off is forgotten. They are in one town today and miles away tomorrow, and they may leave the manuscript on the bureau of their hotel room intending to mail it at the last minute–and rush away and forget it. Therefore you should ask for an immediate reading. It will take a performer only a few minutes to decide if he cares to consider your act. He knows of what he is in need–and usually is prepared to tell you.

(e) Do not ask for specific criticism, for of all people in the world vaudeville performers are the most good-hearted. They would rather please you than hurt you. They will evade the point nine times out of ten; so save them and yourself needless embarrassment. And thus you may also avoid a false valuation of your manuscript.

(f) If the performer cannot use the act himself, and if the act possesses merit, the chances are that he will suggest some other performer who might want it. If he does not suggest someone himself, ask him. Vaudeville performers know what other performers want, because they are continually discussing plans for “next season.” You may thus pick up some valuable information, even if you do not dispose of the particular manuscript you have for sale.

3. Producing Your Act Yourself

While you are likely at many turns of the sales road to have offered you an opportunity to produce your own act, this method of finding a market is rarely advisable. You would not start a little magazine to get your short-story into print; your story could not possess that much value even if it were a marvel–how much less so if you were unable to find someone willing to buy it!

But there is a still more important reason why you should not rush into producing your act yourself. Producing is a specialized business, requiring wide experience and exact knowledge. Besides, it is one of the most expensive pastimes in the world. Without a most comprehensive experience and peculiar abilities, failure is sure. Do not attempt private production even if you are offered the services of a performer or a producer in whom you have absolute faith. Remember, if they thought your act was really worth while they would be anxious to reap the profits for themselves.

4. Selling an Act to a Producer

While any performer who owns his act is a producer in the sense that he “produces” his act, there are men who make a business of buying manuscripts, engaging people, and producing many acts in which they do not themselves play. Producers who may own a dozen acts of all different kinds would seem to offer to the writer for vaudeville an ideal market. How, then, is the writer to get in touch with them?

(a) Selling through a Play broker is a method that is precisely the same as though you consigned a bill of goods to a commission agent, and paid him for disposing of it. The play broker reads your manuscript and engages to try to dispose of it for you, or returns it as not likely to fit in with the particular line of business of which he makes a specialty. If your act is really good and yet the broker is able to make some suggestions that will improve it, he is likely to offer such suggestions, purely in the hope of earning a commission, and in this way he may prove of distinct value as a critic. In any event, if he accepts a manuscript to sell for you, he will offer it in the quarters he thinks most likely to produce it and will attend to all the business incidental to the making of the contract.

For this service the broker charges a ten per cent commission. This commission is paid either on the price of outright sale, or on the royalty account. If the act is sold on royalty, he will collect the customary advance and also the weekly payments. After deducting his commission, he will remit the balance to you.

On the last page of this chapter you will find a partial list of well-known play brokers. Although I do not know of any who deal exclusively in vaudeville material, any one of the agents who handles long plays is glad to handle an exceptionally fine playlet.

(b) Seeking a personal interview with a producer is usually productive of one result: The office-boy says, “Leave your manuscript, and he’ll read it and let you know.” Anxious as he is to secure good material, a man who is busily engaged in producing vaudeville acts has little time to spend on granting personal interviews. And there is another reason–he fears you will try to read your act to him. A personal reading by the author is either a most distressing affair, because the average writer cannot read stage material as it should be read, or else it is very dangerous to the listener’s judgment. Many a producer has been tricked into producing an act whose merits a masterly reader has brought out so finely that its fatal faults were forgotten. And so the producer prefers to read a manuscript himself. Alone in his office he can concentrate on the act in hand, and give to it the benefit of his best judgment.

(c) Offering a manuscript by mail is perfectly safe. There has never come to my knowledge one clearly proved instance of where a producer has “stolen an idea.”

(d) Send your manuscript by registered mail and demand a return receipt. Thus you will save losses in the mail and hold a check against the loss of your manuscript in the producer’s office. And when you send your manuscript by mail, invariably enclose stamps to pay the return to you by registered delivery. Better still, enclose a self-addressed envelope with enough postage affixed to insure both return and registry.

(e) Three weeks for consideration is about the usual time the average producer requires to read a manuscript at his leisure. In times when a producer is actively engaged in putting on an act, he may not have an hour in the week he can call his own. Therefore have patience, and if you do not receive a reply from him in three weeks, write again and courteously remind him that you would like to have his decision at his earliest convenience. Impatient letters can only harm your chance.

5. Hints on Prices for Various Acts

What money can be made by writing vaudeville material? This is certainly the most interesting question the writer for vaudeville can ask. Like the prices of diamonds, the prices of vaudeville acts depend on quality. Every individual act, and each kind of act, commands its own special price. There are two big questions involved in the pricing of every vaudeville manuscript. First, of what value is the act itself? Second, what can the performer or the producer afford to payor be made to pay for the act?

The first question cannot be answered for even a class of acts. The value of each individual act determines its own price. And even here there enters the element inherent in all stage material– a doubt of value until performance before an audience proves the worth of the act. For this reason, it is customary for the purchaser of a vaudeville act to require that it first make good, before he pays for it. “Try and then buy,” is the average vaudevillian’s motto. If you are a good business man you will secure an advance against royalty of just as much as you can make the producer “give up.” Precisely as in every other business, the price of service depends upon the individual’s ability to “make a deal.”

The answer to the second question likewise depends upon the vaudeville writer’s individual ability as a business man. No hints can be given you other than those that you may glean from a consideration of average and record prices in the following paragraphs.

(a) The monologue is usually sold outright. The performer nearly always will tell you–with no small degree of truth–that the monologist makes the monologue, not the monologue the monologist. Many a monologue has sold for five dollars, and the purchaser been "stung” at that price. But very rarely is a monologue bought outright in manuscript–that is, before a try-out. A monologue must prove itself “there,” before a monologist will pay any more than a small advance for the exclusive privilege of trying it out.

If the monologue proves itself, an outright offer will be made by the performer. While there are no “regular rates,” from two hundred and fifty dollars to seven hundred dollars may be considered as suggestive of the market value of the average successful monologue.

In addition to this, the monologist usually retains the author to write new points and gags for him each week that he works. This, of course, increases the return from a monologue, and insures the writer a small weekly income.

In very rare cases monologues are so good and, therefore, so valuable that authors can retain the ownership and rent them out for a weekly royalty. In such a case, of course, the author engages himself to keep the material up to the minute without extra compensation. But such monologues are so rare they can be counted on the fingers of one hand. There is little doubt that “The German Senator” is one of the most valuable monologue properties–if it does not stand in a class by itself–that has ever been written. For many years it has returned to Aaron Hoffman a royalty of $100 a week, thirty and forty weeks in the year. This may be considered the record price for a monologue.

(b) The vaudeville two-act varies in price as greatly as the monologue. Like the monologue, it is usually sold outright. The performers use precisely the same argument about the two-act that is used about the monologue. It is maintained that the material itself is not to be compared with the importance of its presentation. When a two-act has been tried out and found “there,” the performers or the producer will offer a price for it.

The same rule, that vaudeville material is worth only as much as it will bring, applies to the two-act. From two hundred and fifty dollars to whatever you can get, may be considered suggestive of two-act prices. Although more two-acts have sold outright for less than three hundred dollars than have sold above five hundred dollars, a successful two-act may be made to yield a far greater return if a royalty arrangement is secured.

Whether it is a two-act, or any other vaudeville act, the royalty asking price is ten per cent of the weekly salary. This rate is difficult to enforce, and while five per cent is nearer the average, the producer would rather pay a definite fixed figure each week, than a percentage that must be reckoned on what may be a varying salary. Usually a compromise of a flat amount per playing week is made when a royalty is agreed on.

(c) The playlet varies in returns amazingly. While one small-time producer pays no advance royalty and a flat weekly royalty of from ten dollars to fifteen dollars a week–making his stand on the fact that he gives a longer playing season than his average competitor–many a big-time producer pays a good round advance and as high as $100 a week royalty.

Edgar Allan Woolf has said: “The desire for the one-act comedy is so great that even an unknown writer can secure an advance royalty as great as is paid to the author of a three-act play, if he has written a playlet which seems to possess novelty of story and cleverness of dialogue.”

George V. Hobart is reported to have had a variously-quoted number of playlets playing at the same time, each one of which returned him a weekly royalty of $100 a week. And half a dozen other one-act playwrights might be named who have had nearly equal success.

On the other hand, Porter Emerson Brown is quoted as saying: “The work of writing a playlet is nearly as great as writing a three-act play, and the returns cannot be compared.”

One of the collaborators on a famous big-time success received forty dollars a week for three seasons as his share. Another playlet writer was paid one hundred dollars a week for one act, and only twenty dollars a week for another. And a third was content with a ten-dollars-a-week royalty on one act, at the same time that another act of his was bringing him in fifty dollars a week.

These examples I have cited to demonstrate that the return from the playlet is a most variable quantity. The small-time pays less than the big-time, and each individual act on both small- and big-time pays a different royalty.

When a playlet–either comedy or straight dramatic–is accepted for production, it is customary, although not an invariable rule, that an advance royalty be paid “down.” When the act proves successful, one or more of three propositions may be offered the writer: outright sale at a price previously agreed upon; outright sale to be paid in weekly royalties until an agreed upon figure is reached, when ownership passes from the author to the producer; the more customary weekly royalty. As I have said before, what price you receive for your act finally depends upon your keenness in driving a bargain.

In nearly every case, outright sale has its advantage in the fact that the author need not then worry about collecting his royalty. Of course, when a recognized producer puts out the act there need be no concern about the royalty, so in such instances a royalty is preferable. But in some cases, as when the performer is making long jumps and has a hard time making railroad connections, a weekly royalty has its disadvantages in causing worry to the author.

(d) The one-act musical comedy is usually bought outright–after the act “gets over.” While many a “book” is contracted for in advance at a small figure, to be doubled or trebled on success, it is also true that royalties are paid. In this case, the custom is to divide the royalty equally between the writer of the book and lyrics, and the composer of the music. When a third person writes the verses of the songs and ensemble numbers, the royalty is usually split three ways. It would be misleading to quote any figures on the musical comedy, for the reason that circumstances vary so greatly with each that there are no standards.

(e) The burlesque tab pays about the same rates as the one-act musical comedy, its kindred form.

(f) The popular song, unlike the other material treated in this volume, has a well established royalty price: one cent a copy is the standard. Of this, half a cent goes to the writer of the lyric, and half a cent to the composer of the music.

As a popular song, to be considered successful, must sell anywhere from half a million to a million copies, it is easy to estimate the song-writer’s return. If the same man writes both the words and the music he will receive from five to ten thousand dollars–or twenty-five hundred to five thousand dollars if he divides with another–for being able to make the nation whistle. Of course, many song-writers have two successful songs selling in a year– therefore you may double the figures above to estimate some successful song-writers’ incomes. But it may safely be said that the song-writer who has an income of twelve thousand dollars a year is doing very well indeed! There are many more professional song-writers who work year after year for the salary of the average business man in every other line of endeavor. Don’t count your royalty-chickens too soon.

6. Important Lists of Addresses


AMERICAN PLAY COMPANY, 33 W. 42d St., New York
MARY ASQUITH, 145 W. 45th St, New York
ALICE KAUSER, 1402 Broadway, New York
DARCY AND WOLFORD, 114 W. 39th St., New York
KIRKPATRICK, LTD., 101 Park Ave., New York
MODERN PLAY CO., Columbus Circle, New York
LAURA D. WILK, 1476 Broadway, New York
GEORGE W. WINNIETT, 1402 Broadway, New York
PAUL SCOTT, 1402 Broadway, New York
SANGER AND JORDAN, 1430 Broadway, New York
MRS. M. A. LEMBECK, 220 W. 42nd St., New York


The producers given here offer a market which varies so widely in each instance that no attempt has been made to list their needs. Some are interested in other lines of the amusement business as well; and their activities elsewhere must be taken into consideration as determining factors in their special market needs. No division of these producers into big-time and small-time producers is made, because such a distinction would be likely to be misleading rather than helpful.

ARTHUR HOPKINS, 1493 Broadway, New York
JOSEPH HART, 1520 Broadway, New York
JESSE L. LASKY, 120 W. 41St St., New York
B. A. ROLFE, 1493 Broadway, New York
JOE MAXWELL, INC., 360 W. 125th St., New York
HARRY RAPF, 1564 Broadway, New York
PAT CASEY, 1499 Broadway, New York
BILLIE BURKE, 1495 Broadway, New York
JOE PAIGE SMITH, 1493 Broadway, New York
ALF. T. WILTON, 1564 Broadway, New York
JOHN C. PEEBLES, 1564 Broadway, New York
JAMES PLUNKETT, 1564 Broadway, New York
C. M. BLANCHARD, 1579 Broadway, New York
LEWIS AND GORDON, Columbia Theatre Building, 7th
Ave. at 47th St., New York
MAX HART, 1564 Broadway, New York
JAMES J. ARMSTRONG, Columbia Theatre Building, 7th
Ave. at 47th St., New York
WILLIAM A. BRADY, The Playhouse, 137 W. 48th St., New York
BART McHUGH, Land Title Building, Philadelphia
MENLO E. MOORE, 22 W. Monroe St., Chicago
MINNIE PALMER, 35 Dearborn St., Chicago


The following vaudeville circuits, while they may not maintain regular producing departments, produce acts every now and then.

Broadway, New York. This organization books
the B. F. Keith Theatres and allied small- and
big-time houses
ORPHEUM CIRUIT COMPANY, 1564 Broadway, New York
POLI’S CIRCUIT, 1493 Broadway, New York
Majestic Theatre Building, Chicago
GUS SUN CIRCUIT, New Sun Theatre Building,
Springfield, Ohio
BERT LEVEY CIRCUIT, Alcazar Theatre Building, San Francisco

To these markets nearly every booking agent and manager in the vaudeville business might be added. Each one has a list of acts he handles that need new material from time to time. And often the agent or manager will add to his list of clients by producing an exceptionally fine act himself.

The reason such a list is not given here is that it would require a small volume merely for the names and addresses. Consultation of “The Clipper Red Book"–a handy directory of theatrical agents, sold at ten cents–will supply this information. A knowledge of the special kinds of acts handled by each agent or manager, and the producers previously given as well, may be gathered by a careful reading of the various theatrical specialized journals. This knowledge can only be acquired a bit here and a little there through persistent attention to the notices of new acts and announcements of plans.


SAMUEL FRENCH, 28 W. 38th St., New York
T. S. DENNISON, Chicago


VARIETY, 1536 Broadway, New York
THE DRAMATIC MIRROR, 1493 Broadway, New York
8th Ave., New York
THE NEW YORK STAR, 1499 Broadway, New York
THE CLIPPER, 47 W. 28th St., New York
THE BILLBOARD, 1465 Broadway, New York
THE DRAMATIC NEWS, 17 W. 42d St., New York
THE NEW YORK REVIEW, 121 W. 39th St., New York
THE THEATRE MAGAZINE, 8 W. 38th St., New York
THE GREEN BOOK MAGAZINE, North American Building,

Chapter XXV - How a Vaudeville Act is Booked

While an understanding of how a vaudeville act is transformed from a manuscript into a commercial success may not be necessary to the writing of a good act, such a knowledge is absolutely necessary to the writer who hopes to make money by his work. For this reason I shall devote this final chapter to a brief discussion of the subject.

Permit me, therefore, to take the manuscript of an act, assuming for my purpose that it represents a monologue or a two-act, a playlet or a musical comedy, and trace its commercial career from the author’s hands, into a producer’s, through a booking office, to success. Anyone of the famous examples printed in this volume could be so taken and its history told, but no one would combine in its experience all the points that should be given. So I shall ask you to imagine that the act whose commercial story I am about to tell represents in itself every kind of act to be seen in vaudeville. I shall call this act by the name of “Success.”

When Mr. Author, the writer of “Success,” received a letter from Mr. Producer accepting the act and requesting him to call at his office to discuss terms, Mr. Author was delighted and hurried there as fast as he could go.

The office boy ushered him into Mr. Producer’s private office, and before the caller could get his breath Mr. Producer had made him an offer. He accepted the offer without haggling over the terms, which seemed to Mr. Author very satisfactory. To tell the truth, he would have accepted almost anything, so eager was he to get his first act on the stage, so it was lucky for him that the terms were really fair.

He had hardly folded up the contract and stowed it, with the advance royalty check, in his bosom pocket, before Mr. Producer plunged into business. He pressed a button for the office boy and told him to tell Mr. Scenic Artist to come in. Now Mr. Scenic Artist was the representative of a great scenic studio, and he sketched a design for a special set in a jiffy; then he thought of another, and then of a third. And Mr. Producer and he were so interested in combining all their good ideas into one admirable set that Mr. Author was startled when they shoved a sketch under his nose and asked for suggestions. He made two that were pertinent to the atmosphere he had imagined for his room, and when they were incorporated in the sketch, Mr. Producer O. K’d it and Mr. Scenic Artist bowed himself out, promising to have a model ready the next day.

Mr. Producer then rang for Miss Secretary, and told her to have Mr. Star, Miss Leading Lady and other performers in the office next morning at eleven o’clock, gave her a list of the characters he wished to cast, and handed her the manuscript with an order to get out parts, and to have them out that night. He turned to Mr. Author with a request for the incidental music for the act. Mr. Author told him he had none. Then Mr. Producer reached for the telephone, with the remark that the music could wait, and called up the United Booking Offices of America.

After a few minutes wait, Mr. Producer got the special Mr. Booking Manager for whom he had inquired, told him he had an act for which he wanted a break-in week, and as he hesitated and named a date three weeks later, Mr. Author was sure the act had been booked. Mr. Author marveled that the act should be contracted to appear when it was not even yet out of manuscript form, but when he mentioned this with a smile, Mr. Producer wanted to know how he ever would get “time” for an act if he didn’t engage it ahead. He explained that he had a regular arrangement with Mr. House Manager to play new acts in his house at a small “break-in” salary. It was an arrangement convenient to him and gave Mr. House Manager fine acts at small cost.

After this, Mr. Producer rose from his desk and Mr. Author went out, promising to be on hand that evening at eight to go over the manuscript and make some changes that Mr. Producer promised to prove were necessary to the success of the act. And as he passed through the outer office, Mr. Author heard Miss Secretary explain over the telephone that Mr. Producer wished a hall at eleven o’clock two days later to rehearse a new act.

Promptly at eight o’clock that night Mr. Author presented himself at the office again, and found Mr. Producer busily engaged in reading the manuscript. A tiny paper model of the mimic room in which the act was to be played stood upon the desk. When he stooped he saw that the walls were roughly colored after the sketch they had discussed and that the whole scene bore an amazing likeness to the place of his imagination. Mr. Producer explained that he had had the model rushed through to make it possible for them to "get down to brass tacks” at once. The act needed so many little changes that they would have to get busy to have it ready for the morning.

When Mr. Producer began discussing various points about the act, Mr. Author could not for the life of him imagine what all these changes could be. But when Mr. Producer pointed out the first, Mr. Author wondered how he ever had imagined that the heroine could do the little thing he had made her do–it was physically impossible. Point after point Mr. Producer questioned, and point after point they changed, but there was only the one glaring error. A motive was added here, a bit of business was changed there, and as they worked they both grew so excited that they forget the time, forgot everything but that act. And when the manuscript at last dropped from their exhausted hands, it looked as if an army had invaded it.

Mr. Author glanced at the pile of nicely bound parts and sighed. All that work would have to be done over! “Only another one of my mistakes,” smiled Mr. Producer as he scribbled an order to Miss Secretary, attached it to the manuscript, together with these now useless parts, and laid them on her desk, as he and Mr. Author went out into the cool night air. “See you tomorrow at eleven," said Mr. Producer as they parted. And Mr. Author looking at his watch wondered why he should take the trouble to go home at all.

At eleven Mr. Author found the little outer office crowded with actors and actresses. Miss Secretary was busily directing the typing of the new manuscript and parts. Mr. Producer was late. After Mr. Author had waited an hour in the private office, Miss Secretary came in and said he should wait no longer, because Mr. Producer had been called out of town to straighten out some trouble which had developed in one of his acts and had just telephoned that he would not be in until late that afternoon. Rehearsal would be as scheduled next morning, Miss Secretary explained. The performers would be on hand, and she hoped to goodness they would have some idea of their parts by then. Mr. Author wanted to know how the cast could be engaged when Mr. Producer was away, and Miss Secretary told him that Mr. Producer knew the capabilities of everyone who had called and had even directed her to engage the ones he named.

The following morning Mr. Author saw his characters for the first time in the flesh–and was disappointed. Also, the rehearsal was a sad awakening; it wasn’t anything like he had imagined it would be. They all sat around on chairs and Mr. Producer told them what the act was all about. Then he suggested that they go through it once, at any rate. Chairs were placed to mark the footlights, chairs were used to indicate the doors and window, and chairs were made to do duty as a table, a piano and everything else.

Finally they got started and limped through the lines, reading their parts. Then Mr. Producer began to show them how he wanted it done, and before he had finished he had played every part in the act. They went through the act once more with a myriad of interruptions from Mr. Producer, who insisted on getting things right the very first time, and then he knocked off, calling it a day’s work.

The next morning Mr. Author was on hand early with some suggestions: one Mr. Producer adopted, the others he explained into forgetfulness–and rehearsing began in earnest. They worked all morning on the first quarter of the act and went back at it late that afternoon. Miss Leading Lady unconsciously added one line and it was so good that it was kept in the act. Then Mr. Star did something that made them all laugh, and they put that in. Of course some pretty lines in the dialogue had to come out to make room, but they came out, and Mr. Author never regretted their loss. And the next day it was the same, and the day after that, and the seventh day, and the eighth day.

Then came a day when Mr. Author saw the act taking shape and form, and when he spoke to Mr. Producer about it, Mr. Producer said he thought that after all the act might whip around into something pretty good.

A few days later when Mr. Author arrived at the rehearsal hall, there were three strange men facing the company, who were going through the act for the first time without interruptions from Mr. Producer. Mr. Author wondered who they were, and watched their faces with interest to see how they liked his act. After a while he came to consider as great compliments the ghosts of smiles flickering across their jury-like faces. And when it was all over the performers gathered in one corner, and Mr. Producer came over to him, and the three men whispered among themselves. Mr. Producer explained that they were booking managers, and then Mr. Author sensed the psychological reason for the unconscious drawing together of the different clans.

His heart beat rather violently when the three men came across the room, and he felt a great wave of gladness sweep over him when the tallest of the three pulled out a little black book and said, “Mr. Producer, I’ll pencil it in one of my houses for next week at this figure,” and he showed Mr. Producer what he had written.

“And I’ll take you for the second break-in, as we agreed when you ’phoned,” said the shortest man. “And I’ll take the third at that.”

Then it was that Mr. Author felt a great admiration for Mr. Producer, because Mr. Producer dared assert his personality. Mr. Producer objected to the figure, talking of the “name” of Mr. Star.

“That’s every penny he’s worth,” came the adamant answer.

Then Mr. Producer mentioned transportation costs, and the cost of hauling scenery, as additional arguments.

“Why didn’t you say special set at first?” said the smallest man; "I’ll give you this advance.” Then all four looked, and they all agreed.

Then Mr. Author was introduced, quite casually. “Guess your act’ll get by,” conceded one of the jury generously, as they all left.

“So you’re going to open a week earlier?” gasped Mr. Author to Mr. Producer, when they were alone in the interval between the exit of the three and the entrance upon the scene of the performers, who came swiftly across the room to learn their fate. “And you’ve booked three weeks more!”

“Well,” said Mr. Producer, “you know the boys only pencilled those weeks in–pencil marks can be rubbed out.”

The next day as they were on their way to the train to go up to the town where the act was to open, Mr. Producer suddenly remembered that he had forgotten to send Miss Secretary up to the Booking Offices for his contract. He wanted that contract particularly, for he had a feud of long standing with the manager of that particular house. So up he rushed to get that contract, with Mr. Author tagging at his heels.

It was the first time Mr. Author had seen even the waiting room of a booking office–it amazed him by its busy air. A score or more performers crowded its every inch of space. They were thickest around a little grilled window, behind which stood a boy who seemed to know them all. Some he dismissed with a “Come in tomorrow." Others he talked with at length, and took their cards. When he had a handful he disappeared from the window.

But Mr. Producer was calling Mr. Author. Mr. Producer stood holding open the inner door. So in Mr. Author went–to another surprise. Here there was no crush of people–here there was no rush, and little noise. Stenographers stood about, seemingly idle, and at a dozen little desks sat a dozen men quietly bending over rather odd-looking books, or talking with the few men who came in.

One of these men Mr. Author recognized as Mr. Booking Manager, for whom they were to play the second week. He was about to speak to him, when up came a bustling little man who said, “Do you want Miss Headliner for the week of the thirtieth? I can give her to you.”

“Nope, all filled. Give you the week of the twenty-third.”

“All right.”

Mr. Booking Agent made a note in his little book, and Mr. Booking Manager bent over his desk and wrote Miss Headliner’s name in his big book–and a business transaction was consummated.

Then Mr. Booking Agent hustled over to another desk and repeated his offer of the week of the thirtieth.

“Sorry, give you the week of the twenty-third,” said this man.

“Just filled it,” said Mr. Booking Agent. “Can’t you give me the thirtieth? Who’s got the thirtieth open?”

The man at the next desk heard him. “Who for? Miss Headliner? All right, I’ll take her.”

Just then Mr. Producer came out of a little room and Mr. Author followed him in a wild dash to catch the train. In the smoker he asked Mr. Producer to explain what he had seen in the Booking Offices. And Mr. Producer said: “Each one of those men you saw up there is in charge of the shows of one, or maybe three or four vaudeville theatres in different cities. It is their duty to make up the shows that appear in each of their houses. For instance, Mr. Booking Manager, whose house we are playing this week, books the shows in four other houses.

“The man you heard ask him if he would take Miss Headliner for the thirtieth, is Miss Headliner’s business representative. His name is Mr. Booking Agent. Besides Miss Headliner, he is the representative for maybe fifty other acts. For this service he receives a commission of five per cent of Miss Headliner’s salary and five per cent on the salaries of all the acts for whom he gets work. It is his business to keep Miss Headliner booked, and he is paid by her and his other clients for keeping them working.

“Mr. Booking Manager, on the other hand, is not paid a commission. He receives a flat salary for the work that he does for his houses. You remember you met him yesterday, when he pencilled ’Success’ in for the house we are on our way to play. Well, that is also a part of his business. For some of his houses that like to make a big showing at little expense, he must dig up new big acts like ours, which are breaking-in.

“Now, the price I get for this act for the breaking-in weeks, is mighty low. But this is customary. That is the reason why the performers have to be content with half salaries, and you with half-royalty. But this price does not affect the future price I will receive. It is marked on the books as the ’show price.’ That means that it is recorded in the book-keeping department by the cashier as the price for which I am showing this act to the managers. When the act has made good, a price is set on the act, and that is the standard price for the other houses that book through these offices. The book-keeper watches the prices like a hawk, and if I tried to ’sneak a raise over,’ he would catch it, and both yours truly and Mr. Booking Manager would be called up on the carpet by the head of the Offices. The only increase that is permitted is when a new season rolls around, or two or three booking managers agree to an increase and consult the office head about boosting the salary on the books.”

That night Mr. Author rather expected to see a dress rehearsal of the act; he was disappointed. But the next morning there was a full dress rehearsal, played in the brand new special set which had come up with them and that now shone like a pretty picture in the dingy theatre.

It rather amazed Mr. Author to note that the emphasis of this rehearsal was not put on the speeches, but upon the entrances and exits, and the precise use and disposal of the various properties employed. A glimmering of the reason came to him when Mr. Star promised to murder anyone who moved a book that he used in his "big” scene. “Unless it is here–right here–I’ll never be able to reach it and get back for the next bit without running.”

And so the rehearsal went on, with no effort to improve the lines, but only to blend the physical movements of everyone of the performers to make a perfect whole and to heighten the natural effect of even the most natural action. Then the dress rehearsal came to an end, and the entire party went out to see the town.

That night, after the performance, they worked again on the act, because Mr. Producer had been seized by an idea. And when they had gone through the act time and again to incorporate that idea, they all went wearily to bed, praying for success next day.

At ten o’clock in the morning Mr. Author was at the theatre. He found that other acts had preceded him. The stage was littered with trunks and scenery, trapeze bars, animal cages and the what-not of a vaudeville show. Each performer as he came in was greeted by the doorman with the gift of a brass check, on which there was stamped a number. This number told the performer in what order he was entitled to rehearse. Vaudeville is a democracy–first come, first rehearsed.

The stage hands were busy rolling in trunks which express-men had dumped on the sidewalk, the electrician was busy mentally rehearsing light effects according to the formula on a printed light plot which was being explained to him by a performer. “Props” was busy trying to satisfy everyone with what he had on hand, or good-naturedly sending out for what had not been clearly specified on the property plot. The spot-light man in the gallery out front was busy getting his lamp ready for the matinee, and consulting his light plot. And the stage-manager was quite the busiest one of them all, shoving his scenery here and there to make room for the newly arrived sets, directing the flying of the hanging stuff, and settling questions with the directness of a czar.

Suddenly through the caverny house sounded the noise of the orchestra tuning up. The leader appeared and greeted the performers he knew like long lost brothers and sisters, and then Brass Check Number One dropped into his hand, and the Monday morning rehearsal began. Then it was that Mr. Author learned that it is not the acts, which are rehearsed on Monday morning, it is the vaudeville orchestra, and the light men and “Props.”

This was borne in forcibly when Mr. Producer arrived with the performers and “Success” went into rehearsal. Although the entire staff of the theatre had been rehearsed the night before at the final dress rehearsal, Mr. Producer wished to change some lights, to instruct “Props” more clearly, and to jack up the orchestra into perfection. Therefore they all went through the act once more. Then the scrub-women appeared and demanded the centre of the stage with great swishes of watery cloths. The curtain came down to hide the stage from the front of the house, and the first early comers of the audience filtered in.

Mr. Author has never been able to recall just how “Success” played that first performance. He has dim memories of a throbbing heart, fears that lines would be forgotten or the whole “big” scene fall to pieces; and finally of a vast relief when the curtain came down, amid–applause. The curtain went up and came down a number of times, but Mr. Author was too busy pinching himself to make sure that he wasn’t dreaming, to count how many curtains the act took.

It seemed to him like a tremendous hit, but Mr. Producer was in a rage. There were scores of points that had not “got over,” half a dozen of his finest effects had been ruined, and he was bound those points should “get over,” and those effects shine out clear and big.

Looking back on that week, Mr. Author recalls it as a nightmare of changes. They cut out speeches, and changed speeches, and took out bits of business, and added new bits–they changed everything in the act, and some of the changes they changed back again, until by Saturday the act was hardly to be recognized. And then they played two more performances to crowded houses that applauded like madmen; and Mr. Producer smiled for the first time.

Then they moved to the next theatre, and the first performance showed even Mr. Author that all the work had been wise. Now he was even more anxious than Mr. Producer to make the many changes by which this week was marked. And by the end of the week “Success" looked like–success.

They were preparing for a week of great things in the next town, when Wednesday night a cancellation notice came for that precious week. Something had gone wrong, and the pencilled date had to be rubbed out. Of course, by all the laws of the legislatures that week should never have been rubbed out, because there was a contract fully binding on both the theatre and Mr. Producer. But the week was rubbed out of sight, nevertheless, and Mr. Producer–knowing vaudeville necessities and also knowing that only the most dire necessity made Mr. Booking Manager “do this thing to him"–forgave it all with a smile and was quite ready to get back to town when Monday morning rolled around.

But Monday morning there occurred a “disappointment” at another theatre in a town only a few miles away. The act that was to have played that date was wrecked, or had overslept itself. Anyway. the resident house manager telephoned to the Booking Offices that he was shy one act. Now it happened that the act that “disappointed," was of the same general character as “Success.” The Booking Manager knew this, and remembered that “Success” was within a few miles and with an open week that ought to have been filled. Therefore, just as Mr. Producer and Mr. Author were leaving the hotel to join the other members of “Success” at the railroad station. Mr. Producer was called to the telephone–long distance.

In less time than it takes to recount it, the resident manager who was suffering from a disappointment, and Mr. Producer, suffering from the lack of a playing week, were both cured of their maladies at the same time. And so, instead of going back to town, “Success" rushed to the next city and played its week.

Now, in this last week of breaking-in, Mr. Author realized one fact that stands out rather prominently in his memory; it is a simple little fact, yet it sums up the entire problem of the show business. Perhaps the rush of events had made it impossible before for the truth to strike home as keenly as it did when there suddenly came to him a tiny little bit of business which made a very long speech unnecessary. He explained it to Mr. Producer, and Mr. Producer seized on it instantly and put it into the act. That night the act went better than it had ever gone before. This little bit of condensation, this illuminating flash which was responsible for it, “punched up” the big scene into a life it had never had before. Then it was that there also flashed upon Mr. Author’s mind this truth:

A dramatic entertainment is not written on paper. It is written with characters of flesh and blood. Strive as hard as man may, he can never fully foretell how an ink-written act will play. There is an inexplicable something which playing before an audience develops. Both the audience and the actors on the stage are affected. A play–the monologue and every musical form as well–is one thing in manuscript, another thing in rehearsal, and quite a different thing before an audience. Playing before an audience alone shows what a play truly is. Therefore, a play can only be made–after it is produced. Even in the fourth week of playing–the first week of metropolitan playing–Mr. Author and Mr. Producer made many changes in “Success” that were responsible for the long popularity it enjoyed. Mr. Author had learned his lesson well. He approached his next work with clearer eyes.

Appendix - Nine Famous Vaudeville Acts Complete

“THE GERMAN SENATOR,” A Monologue, by Aaron Hoffman.

“THE ART OF FLIRTATION,” A Two-Act, by Aaron Hoffman.

“AFTER THE SHOWER,” A Flirtation Two-Act, by Louis Weslyn.

“THE VILLAIN STILL PURSUED HER,” A Travesty Playlet, by Arthur Denvir.

“THE LOLLARD,” A Comedy Playlet, by Edgar Allan Woolf.

“BLACKMAIL,” A Tragic Playlet, by Richard Harding Davis.

“THE SYSTEM,” A Melodramatic Playlet, by Taylor Granville.

“A PERSIAN GARDEN,” A One-Act Musical Comedy, by Edgar Allan Woolf.

“My OLD KENTUCKY HOME,” A One-Act Burlesque, by James Madison.


The nine acts which are given, complete, in the following pages are representative of the very best in vaudeville. Naturally, they do not show every possible vaudeville variation–a series of volumes would be required for that–but, taken together, they represent all the forms of the talking vaudeville act that are commonly seen.


The German Senator

This monologue by Aaron Hoffman has been chosen as perhaps the best example of the pure monologue ever written. Originally used by Cliff Gordon–continually being changed to keep it up-to-the-minute–it has, since his death, been presented by numerous successors of the first “German Senator.” It is doubtful if any other dramatic work–or any other writing–of equal length, and certainly no monologue, has returned to its author so much money as “The German Senator” has earned.


The Art of Flirtation

For more years than perhaps any other vaudeville two-act, this exceptionally fine example of two-act form has been used by various famous German comedians. It may be considered to stand in much the same relation to the two-act that “The German Senator” does to the monologue. Its author, also Mr. Aaron Hoffman, holds a unique position among vaudeville and musical comedy writers.

After the Shower

This delightful little example of lover’s nonsense was played for more than four years by Lola Merrill and Frank Otto. It has been instanced as one of the daintiest and finest flirtation-couple-acts that the two-a-day has seen. Mr. Louis Weslyn has written perhaps more successful acts of this particular style than any other author.


The Villain Still Pursued Her

This travesty, one of the most successful on record, was used for years to star Mrs. Frank Sheridan. Written by Mr. Arthur Denvir, whose specialty is travesties, it undoubtedly became the inspiration for the many similar acts that created the travesty-vogue of 1912-15.

The Lollard

Edgar Allan Woolf, who wrote this delightful satirical comedy, is perhaps the most successful writer of playlets in this country. For many years he has turned out success after success for famous legitimate stars, while still other performers have become vaudeville stars in his acts. Mr. Woolf himself chose “The Lollard” as representative of his best comedies. The star role, Angela Maxwell, was created in this country by Miss Regina Cornelli, and in England by Miss Hilda Trevelyan.


Richard Harding Davis needs no introduction. This remarkable little tragedy was produced for the Orpheum Circuit by Mr. Charles Feleky, who declares it to be “the best tragic playlet I have produced.” From so eminent a vaudeville producer, this is, indeed, high praise. The character of Richard Fallon was created by Mr. Walter Hampden.

The System

Without doubt, this act is the best of the many big productions with which Mr. Taylor Granville has supplied The United Booking Offices of America, during his many years as a producing star. Mr. Junie McCree, who collaborated with Mr. Granville, was once president of “The White Rats,” the vaudeville actors’ union, and is now a successful vaudeville writer. Mr. Edward Clark, the third collaborator, has written many successful vaudeville acts.

“The System” is said to have been characterized by Mr. George M. Cohan as the best one-act melodrama he ever saw. Its extraordinary popularity in this country and in England is but added proof of the tenseness of its scenes and its great ending.


A Persian Garden

Played by Louis Simons season after season, this real comedy set to music is without question Mr. Edgar Allan Woolf’s best effort in this field. Unlike the usual musical comedy, this act possesses dialogue interest as well as pleasing brilliancy. It has won its many years of success not because of scenery, costumes and the chorus, but by the sterling worth apparent in the manuscript divorced from them.


My Old Kentucky Home

Perhaps the most characteristic of the burlesque acts in vaudeville, this “Tab” has been played in various guises in the two-a-day and in burlesque for many seasons. It is the work of a writer who justly prides himself on his intimate knowledge of the burlesque form, and who possesses the most complete library of burlesque manuscripts in America. To the thousands of readers of “Madison’s Budget,” James Madison requires no introduction.

Permission to publish these acts has, in each instance, been personally granted to the author of this volume. This kind permission covers publication in this book only. Republication of these acts in whole or in part, in any form whatsoever, is expressly prohibited.

Stage presentation of any of the acts is likewise forbidden. A Special Warning has been inserted in the introductory page of every act, at the request of each author. The reason for such repetition is to be found in the commercial value of successful vaudeville material, and in the fact that the general public has never precisely understood the reservations permitted to the author of a dramatic work under the copyright law. Infringements of any sort are subject to severe penalties under United States law and will be rigidly prosecuted.

To the writers of these acts the author of this volume wishes to express his deep appreciation for the permissions that enable him to print as illustrations of his text some of the finest acts that vaudeville has ever seen.

The German Senator
A Monologue

By Aaron Hoffman
Author of “The Politicians,” “The Belle of Avenue A,”
"The Newly-weds and their Baby”, “Let George Do It,”
"School Days,” Etc., Etc.


My dear friends and falling citizens:

My heart fills up with vaccination to be disabled to come out here before such an intelligence massage of people and have the chance to undress such a large conglomerated aggravation.

I do not come before you like other political speakers, with false pride in one hand and the Star Strangled Banana in the other.

I come before you as a true, sterilized citizen, a man who is for the public and against the people, and I want to tell you, my ’steemed friends, when I look back on the early hysterics of our country, and think how our forefathers strangled to make this country voss iss is it; when you think of the lives that was loosed and the blood that was shredded, we got to feel a feeling of patriotic symptoms–we got to feel a patriotic symp–symps–you got to feel the patri–you can’t help it, you got to feel it.

I tell you, our hearts must fill up with indigestion when we look out to see the Statue of Liberty, the way she stands, all alone, dressed up in nothing, with a light in her hand, showing her freedom.

And what a fine place they picked out for Liberty to stand.

With Coney Island on one side and Blackwell’s Island on the other.

And when she stands there now, looking on the country the way it is and what she has to stand for, I tell you tears and tears must drop from her eyes. Well, to prove it–look at the ocean she filled up.

And no wonder she’s crying. Read the nuisance papers. See what is going on.

Look what the country owes.

According to the last report of the Secretary of the Pleasury, the United States owes five billion dollars.

Nobody knows what we owe it for;

And nobody ever sees what we have got for it; [1]

[1] Here begins the “Panama Canal point,” referred to in Chapter V. It continues until the “End of Panama Canal Point” footnote below.

First read the monologue including this point, then read it skipping the point–thus you will see, first, what a complete “point” is; second, what “blending” means; and third, how a monologist may shorten or lengthen his routine by leaving out or including a point. [end footnote]

And if you go to Washington, the Capsule of the United States, and ask them, THEY don’t even know THEMSELVES.

Then they say, what keeps the country broke is the Pay-no-more Canal.

It cost the Government nine thousand dollars an hour to dig the canal. THINK OF THAT!

Nine thousand dollars an hour for digging, and the worst of it is, they ain’t digging.

Up to date, it has cost a hundred and seventy million dollars to dig a hole–they’ve been at it for over nine years–and the only hole they’ve dug is in the United States Treasury.

Every six months, the Chief Engineer, he comes up with a report;

He says: “Mr. Congress, the canal is getting better every day, a million dollars MORE please.”

He gets the money, goes out, buys a couple of shovels, then sends back a telegram: HOORAY–The digging is very good, the two oceans will soon be one.

Can you beat that?

Before they started the canal it didn’t cost us nothing, and we had two oceans.

And by the time they get through, it’ll cost us three hundred million and we’ll only have one.

And now that the canal is nearly finished, it looks like it was going to get us into trouble.

Japan is against it on one side and England don’t like it on the other.

And that’s why we’ve got to have a navy. [1]

[1] End of “Panama Canal point.” See footnote above, also Chapter V.

Of course, we’ve got a navy.

But everybody is kicking about it.

Why should they kick?

All we appropriated for the navy last year was four million dollars.

And there’s eighty million people in this country.

And that figures a nickel apiece.

And what the hell kind of a navy do you expect for a nickel?

Still they are crying that the country is in destitution circumstances. That is inconsis–inconsis–you can’t deny it.

Our country has got a superabum, a superabum–a superabum–we’ve got a lot of money.

There’s money lying in the treasury that never was touched. And the first fellow that will touch it will get six months.

The whole trouble is the trusts.

Look what the cold storage trust have done with the eggs. Sixty cents a dozen–for the good ones. And the good ones are rotten.

Then they say the reason prices are going up is because wages are getting higher.

But why should they raise the price of eggs?

The chickens ain’t getting any more wages.

And if meat goes up any higher, it will be worth more than money.

Then there won’t be any money.

Instead of carrying money in your pocket, you’ll carry meat around.

A sirloin steak will be worth a thousand dollar bill.

When you go down to the bank to make a deposit, instead of giving the cashier a thousand dollar bill, you’ll slip him a sirloin steak.

If you ask him for change, he’ll give you a hunk of bologny.

If they keep on, we won’t be able to live at all.

Statistics prove that the average wages of the workingman is one dollar a day.

Out of that, he’s got to spend fifty cents a day for food; fifty-five cents for rent; ten cents for car fare.

And at the end of a hard day’s work–he owes himself fifteen cents.

Yet the rich people say that the poor people are getting prosperous.

They say, look at our streets. You see nothing but automobiles. You don’t see half the poor people now that you used to.

Certainly you don’t.

Half of them have already been run over and the other half is afraid to come out.

Why, between the automobiles and the trusts the poor man hasn’t got a chance to live.

And if only the gas trust gets a little stronger, the price of gas will go up so high a poor man won’t even be able to commit suicide.

They’ll have him both ways. He can’t live and he can’t die.

And that’s why I am with the socialists.

They say, “Down with the trusts! Do away with money. Make everything equal.”

Imagine a fellow going into a jewelry store and saying:

“Give me a diamond ring, here’s a lemon.”

But the socialists have got some good ideas for the working people. And my heart and soul is with the labor class of people. I am for labor unions.

But what help are the labor unions to the working man?

Look at it in the right light.

A man pays twenty-five dollars to join a union. He gets a job in a shop for two dollars a day, works two weeks, the union gets out on a strike and he owes himself a dollar.

The unions are crying the days are too long.

They want the days shorter. They want the days should be eight hours long.

But think of the fellows out in the North Pole where the days are six months long. That’s the place for the poor man to live.

When the landlord comes around and says, “Rent,” all you have to do is to tell him to come around the day after tomorrow.

Then Andrew Carnigger, he comes out and tells us you should save money and put it in the bank.

What’s the use of putting your money in the bank?

It’s easy enough to put it in, but it aint so easy to get it out. When you want to take your money out, you got to give the cashier sixty days notice.

And did you ever figure out how far a cashier can go in sixty days?

Then they say, as the world goes on, we are improving.

It’s ridiculum.

We were better off years ago than we are now.

Look at Adam in the Garden of Eat-ing.

Life to him was a pleasure;

There was a fellow that had nothing to worry about.

Anything he wanted he could get.

But the darn fool had to get lonesome.

And that’s the guy that started all our troubles.

We would be all right today, if it wasn’t for Adam and Evil.

Then they say that Adam fell for an apple.

It just shows how men have improved.

No man would fall for an apple today.

It would have to be a peach.

And I tell you, it’s no wonder that women feel stuck up. They say they can do more than men can do.

That’s very true, when you go back to the first woman, Eve.

She was only one little woman, all by herself, and she put the whole human race on the bum.

Could a man do that?

And yet she was only a rib out of Adam’s side.

It just goes to show you what a cheap proposition woman was.

Nowadays, when you want to marry a woman, you got to buy a diamond ring, take her to the theatres, buy her taxicheaters, and what’s left of your wages you got to spend on candy and tango trots and turkey teas. There’s where Adam had it on all of us.

All Eve cost him was one bone.

It all goes to show you how much better off man was in those days than today, and while John D. Rottenfeller, the great Philosopede, he comes out and says, nobody has a right to be poor; he says, anybody can live on eighteen dollars a week.

He don’t have to tell us that.

Let him tell us how to get the eighteen.

And still that great statesment, William Chinning Bryan, he comes out and says, we are living in a great country. He says we are living in a country of excitement intelligence and education.

That’s very true.

Look at our public school system.

A child can go to school for nothing, and when he grows up to be a man and he is thoroughly educated, he can go into the public school and be a teacher and get fifty dollars a month.

And the janitor gets ninety-five.

That shows you how education is coming to the front. Wouldn’t it better, instead of sending a child to school, to learn him to clean out a cellar?

And what’s the cause of all the trouble?

The House of Representatives.

We send them to Washington to look out for the people and the only time they look out for the people is when they look out the window and see them coming.

Then they get $7,500 a year. They spend $10,000 a year, and at the end of the year they have $100,000 saved.

No wonder they are careless with our money.

That’s all they got to do. Sit around Washington and touch the treasury.

Every couple of days a fellow comes into Congress and says:

“Good morning, Congress, let me have $4,000,000.”

That’s all they do, is make touches for millions.

You never heard of those suckers making a touch for a quarter, or a half a dollar.

To show you what they do with our money, look at our Weather Bureau Department.

We pay a fellow $10,000 a year. For what?

To tell us when it’s going to rain.

And he don’t know himself.

But he don’t want to know.

He knows that if he ever guesses it right, he is going to lose his job. But believe me, it’s a soft job.

Nothing to do.

He gets up in the morning, eats a nice breakfast, smokes a good fat cigar; then he looks out of the window and says, “Fine weather to-day.”

Then he takes his umbrella and goes out for a walk. I tell you, my dear friends, the way the country stands now, the country stands on the brink of a preci–the country stands on the brink of a precip–and if somebody shoves it, it is going over.

And the cause of all the trouble in the country is the crooked politics.

And that’s why the women suffering gents have gotten together and are fighting for their rights.

And you can’t blame them.

Now I see where one married woman has hit on a great idea.

She says there’s only one protection for the wives.

And that’s a wives’ union.

Imagine a union for wives.

A couple gets married.

And as soon as they get settled, along comes the walking delegate and orders a strike.

Then imagine thousands and thousands of wives walking up and down the streets on strike, and scabs taking their places.

The Art of Flirtation
A Two-Act for Two Men
by Aaron Hoffman

Author of “Toblitz, or The End of the World,”
"The New Leader,” “The Son of Solomon,”
"The Speaker of the House,” Etc., Etc.


STRAIGHT: Say, whenever we go out together, you always got a kick coming. What’s the matter with you?

COMEDIAN: Nothing is the matter with me.

STRAIGHT: With you always everything is the matter.

COMEDIAN: What’s the trouble?

STRAIGHT: The trouble is you don’t know nothing.

COMEDIAN: Yes, I do.

STRAIGHT: You know! If I only knew one-half of what you don’t know, I would know twice as much as the smartest man in the world.

COMEDIAN: What you got against me?

STRAIGHT: You ain’t a gentlemen.

COMEDIAN: What is a gentlemen?

STRAIGHT: A gentlemen is a man who knows how to act senseless vit people no matter vat happens.

COMEDIAN: I am a gentlemen, I always act senseless.

STRAIGHT: You are a gentlemen! Look at you. How can a man be a gentlemen with such a face like that. There are two kinds of men–gentlemen and rummies. I am a gentlemen, you are a rummy.

COMEDIAN: I am a rummy? I know how to act vit people. Ven you met your friends down the street, vat did you say to them?

STRAIGHT: I said come on and have a drink. I spoke like a gentlemen.

COMEDIAN: And ve all vent to have a drink.


COMEDIAN: Didn’t I pay for it?

STRAIGHT: Sure–that shows you are a rummy.

COMEDIAN: No, that shows I was a gentlemen.

STRAIGHT: Dat’s right. In a saloon you are a gentlemen.

COMEDIAN: Sure I am. I act just a bartender.

STRAIGHT: But the trouble with you is you don’t know how to mingle.

COMEDIAN: Oh, I can mingle.

STRAIGHT: You don’t know the first thing about mingling. As a mingler you are a flivver. Among men you are all right, but as soon as I take you out to some parties and dinners and you see some women around, your brains get loose.

COMEDIAN: Why–what do I do?

STRAIGHT: It makes no resemblance what you do or what you say. No matter how you do it–no matter how you say it, the women get insulted. You ain’t got the least consumtion how to be disagreeable to the ladies.

COMEDIAN: Oh, I know how to be disagreeable to a lady. You ought to hear me talk to my wife.

STRAIGHT: To your wife? Any man can be disagreeable to his wife. But tink of other women–the trouble with you is, you have no, as the French people say, you have no savoir faire.

COMEDIAN: No what?

STRAIGHT: I say that you ain’t got no, what the French people call, savoir faire.

COMEDIAN: What’s dot?

STRAIGHT: Savoir faire.

COMEDIAN: Oh, I can salve for fair.

STRAIGHT: You can salve for fair; yes, but you ain’t got no savoir faire. You are not a mingler. You have no vit, no humor. You ain’t got no esprit.

COMEDIAN: Vere do you get all dose words?

STRAIGHT: I get them because I am a gentlemen.

COMEDIAN: Then I’m glad I am a rummy.

STRAIGHT: Sure you’re a rummy. If you wasn’t a rummy, you’d have esprit.

COMEDIAN: Oh, I had a spree lots of times.

STRAIGHT: Not a spree. I mean esprit. I mean you ain’t got no refinement–like me. I got polish.

COMEDIAN: You’re a shine.

STRAIGHT: No, I ain’t a shine. I am a lady killer.

COMEDIAN: One look at you is enough to kill any lady.

STRAIGHT: I am a Beau Brummel. Ven I am with the ladies, I talk to dem vit soft words; I whisper sweet nothings, but you, you rummy you, you don’t know how to make the ladies feel unhappy.

COMEDIAN: How do you make them unhappy?

STRAIGHT: You got to be disagreeable to them.

COMEDIAN: And vat do you do to be disagreeable to ladies?

STRAIGHT: The only vay to be disagreeable to a lady, you got to flirt vit her.

COMEDIAN: Flirt. Vat does that mean flirt?

STRAIGHT: Flirting is a thing that begins in nothing. You say something, you talk like everything and you mean nothing, and it liable to end up in anything. A flirtation is a clan-destination meeting with a lady.

COMEDIAN: Vat kind of a meeting is dot?

STRAIGHT: Don’t you know? Ven you flirt, you meet a pretty woman in a shady spot.

COMEDIAN: Oh, you meet a shady woman in a pretty spot.

STRAIGHT: Not a shady woman. A pretty woman in a shady spot.

COMEDIAN: How do you know so much about flirting?

STRAIGHT: Now you come to it. I got here a book on the art of flirtation. Here it is. (biz. shows book.)

COMEDIAN: What is the name of that book?

STRAIGHT: The art of flirtation. How to make a lady fall in love with you for ten cents.

COMEDIAN: A lady fell in love with me once and it cost me Five Hundred Dollars.

STRAIGHT: That’s because you didn’t have this book. This book tells you how to make love. This book is full of the finest kind of love.

COMEDIAN: For ten cents.

STRAIGHT: Yes, for ten cents.

COMEDIAN: Oh, it’s ten cents love.

STRAIGHT: No, it ain’t ten-cent love. It’s fine love (opens book). See–here is the destructions. Right on the first page you learn something. See–how to flirt with a handkerchief.

COMEDIAN: Who wants to flirt with a handkerchief? I want to flirt with a woman.

STRAIGHT: Listen to what the book says. To a flirter all things have got a language. According to this book, flirters can speak with the eye, with the fan, with the cane, with the umbrella, with the handkerchief, with anything. This book tells you how to do it.

COMEDIAN: For ten cents.

STRAIGHT: Shut up. Now when you see a pretty woman coming along who wants to flirt with you, what is the first thing a man should do?

COMEDIAN: Run the other way.

STRAIGHT: No, no. This is the handkerchief flirtation. As soon as a pretty woman makes eyes at you, you put your hands in your pockets.

COMEDIAN: And hold on to your money.

STRAIGHT: No, you take out your handkerchief. (biz.)

COMEDIAN: Suppose you ain’t got a handkerchief?

STRAIGHT: Every flirter must have a handkerchief. It says it in the book. Now you shake the handkerchief three times like this (biz.). Do you know what that means?

COMEDIAN: (Biz. of shaking head.)

STRAIGHT: That means you want her to give you–

COMEDIAN: Ten cents.

STRAIGHT: No. Dat means you want her to give you a smile. So you shake the handkerchief three times like this (biz.), then you draw it across you mouth like this (biz.). What does that mean?

COMEDIAN: That means you just had a glass of beer.

STRAIGHT: No, dat means “I would like to speak with you.”

COMEDIAN: And does she answer?

STRAIGHT: She got to, it says it in the book.

COMEDIAN: Does she answer you with a handkerchief?

STRAIGHT: Yes, or she might umbrella.

COMEDIAN: Over the head.

STRAIGHT: Sure. If she answers you with de umbrella over the head, that means something. Ven she holds the umbrella over her head, she means that she is a married woman.

COMEDIAN: Den you quit flirting.

STRAIGHT: No, den you commence. If she shakes it dis way (biz.), dat means–

COMEDIAN: Her husband is coming.

STRAIGHT: No. Dat means “You look good to me.” Den you hold your handkerchief by the corner like dis (biz.).

COMEDIAN: Vat does that mean?

STRAIGHT: Meet me on the corner.

COMEDIAN: Och, dat’s fine (takes handkerchief). Den if you hold it dis way, dat means (biz.) “Are you on the square?”

STRAIGHT: You are learning already. You will soon be a flirter. Now I vill show you how you flirt according to the book. You are a man flirter, and I am a beautiful female.

COMEDIAN: You are what?

STRAIGHT: A female. A female.

COMEDIAN: Vat’s dat, a female?

STRAIGHT: A female. Don’t you know what fee means? Fee, that means money. Male, that means man. Female. That means “Get money from a man.” That’s a female. I am a beautiful woman and just to teach you how to flirt, I am going to take a walk thro’ the park.

COMEDIAN: I thought you were a gentlemen.

STRAIGHT: No. No. Just for an instance I am a lady. I will walk past in a reckless way, and I will make eyes at you.

COMEDIAN: If you do, I will smash my nose in your face.

STRAIGHT: No. No. When I make eyes at you, you must wave your handkerchief at me three times. Den you reproach me vit all the disrespect in the world and den you take off your hat and you say something. Vat do you say?

COMEDIAN: Ten cents.

STRAIGHT: No. No. You say something pleasant. You speak of the weather, for instance. You say “Good-evening, Madam, nice day.”

COMEDIAN: Suppose it ain’t a nice day?

STRAIGHT: No matter what kind of a day it is, you speak about it. Now I’m the lady and I am coming. Get ready.

(STRAIGHT does burlesque walk around COMEDIAN. . . . STRAIGHT stops and drops handkerchief.)

COMEDIAN: Say–you dropped something.

STRAIGHT: I know it. I know it. Flirt. Flirt.

(COMEDIAN biz. of pulling out red handkerchief.)

COMEDIAN: I am flirting. I am flirting.

STRAIGHT: What are you trying to do, flag a train? Why don’t you pick up my handkerchief?

COMEDIAN: I don’t need any, I got one.

STRAIGHT: (Picks up handkerchief and turns.) Oh, you rummy you. Why don’t you reproach me and say something about the weather?

COMEDIAN: All right, you do it again.

STRAIGHT: Now don’t be bashful! Don’t be bashful! Here I come (biz. of walk).

COMEDIAN: (pose with hat.) Good evening. Are you a flirter?

STRAIGHT: Oh you fool (gives COMEDIAN a push).

COMEDIAN: Oh, what a mean lady dat is.

STRAIGHT: You musn’t ask her if she’s a flirter. You must say something. De way it says in the book. You must speak of something. If you can’t speak of anything else, speak of the weather.

COMEDIAN: All right, I’ll do it again this time.

STRAIGHT: This is the last time I’ll be a lady for you. Here I come (biz.).

COMEDIAN: Good evening, Mrs. Lady. Sloppy weather we’re having.

STRAIGHT: Sloppy weather! It’s no use; I can’t teach you how to be a flirter, you got to learn it from the book. Listen. Here is what it says. “After you made the acquaintanceship of de lady, you should call at her house in the evening. As you open the gate you look up at the vindow and she will wave a handkerchief like this (biz.). That means, somebody is vaiting for you.”

COMEDIAN: The bulldog.

STRAIGHT: No. The flirtess. “You valk quickly to the door.”

COMEDIAN: The bulldog after you.

STRAIGHT: Dere is no bulldog in this. You don’t flirt vith a bulldog.

COMEDIAN: But suppose the bulldog flirts with you?

STRAIGHT: Shut up. “She meets you at the door. You have your handkerchief on your arm” (biz.)

COMEDIAN: And the dog on my leg.

STRAIGHT: No, the handkerchief is on your arm. Dat means “Can I come in?”

COMEDIAN: And den what do you do?

STRAIGHT: If she says “Yes,” you go in the parlor, you sit on the sofa, side by side, you take her hand.

COMEDIAN: And she takes your vatch.

STRAIGHT: No. You take her hand, den you say: “Whose goo-goo luvin’ baby is oosum?”

COMEDIAN: Does it say that in the book?


COMEDIAN: Let me see it. (COMEDIAN tears out page.) Den vat do you do?

STRAIGHT: You put her vaist around your arms–

COMEDIAN: And den?

STRAIGHT: Den you squeeze it–

COMEDIAN: And den?

STRAIGHT: She’ll press her head upon your manly shoulder–

COMEDIAN: And den–

STRAIGHT: She looks up into your eyes–

COMEDIAN: And den?

STRAIGHT: You put the other arm around her–

COMEDIAN: And den?

STRAIGHT: You hold her tight–

COMEDIAN: And den?

STRAIGHT: You turn down the gas–

COMEDIAN: And den?

STRAIGHT: She sighs–

COMEDIAN: And den?

STRAIGHT: You sigh–

COMEDIAN: And den?

STRAIGHT: Dat’s the end of the book.

COMEDIAN: Is dat all?

STRAIGHT: Sure. What do you want for ten cents?

COMEDIAN: But vat do you do after you turn down the gas?

STRAIGHT: Do you expect the book to tell you everything?



Louis Weslyn

Author of “At the News Stand,” “The Girl and the Pearl,” “An Easy Mary,” “A Campus Flirtation,” Etc., Etc.




SCENE: A pretty country lane in One, (Special drop) supposed to be near Lake George. Rustic bench on R. of stage. When the orchestra begins the music for the act, the girl enters, dressed in a fashionable tailor-made gown, and carrying parasol. She comes on laughing, from L., and glancing back over her shoulder at THE FELLOW, who follows after her, a few paces behind. THE GIRL wears only one glove, and THE FELLOW is holding out the other one to her as he makes his entrance. He is dressed in a natty light summer suit and wears a neat straw hat.

THE GIRL: (As she comes on with a little run.) I don’t see why on earth you insist upon following me.

THE FELLOW: (Lifting his hat.) I never knew why I was on earth until I met you. (Waving glove at her.) Say, this is your glove–you know it’s your glove.

THE GIRL: (Laughingly.) It must belong to somebody else.

THE FELLOW: No, it doesn’t. I saw you drop it. Besides, you are wearing only one glove, and this one matches it.

THE GIRL: (Stopping on right of stage near rustic bench and turning to face him, holding out her hand.) You are right. It is my glove. I’ll take it, please.

THE FELLOW: (Stopping to gaze at her admiringly.) No, on second thought, I’ll keep it. (He folds it up tenderly, and places it in the upper left-hand pocket of his coat.) I’ll keep it right here, too,–near my heart.

THE GIRL: Oh, what nonsense! You’ve never seen me but three times in your life.

THE FELLOW: (Coming nearer her.) Yes–that’s true. And you look better every time I see you. Say, you do look awfully nice this morning. Nobody would think, from your appearance, that you belonged to a camping party here on the shore of Lake George. I guess that thunder storm last night didn’t bother you a little bit. Why, you look as if you were out for a stroll on Fifth Avenue.

THE GIRL: (Aside.) Little does he know that I got caught in that shower and am now wearing my chum, Genevieve’s, gown. (To him.) What a jollier you are! You look pretty natty yourself this morning, it seems to me.

THE FELLOW: (Aside.) This suit of clothes I got from Tommy Higgins has made a hit with her. I guess I’ll just let her think they belong to me, and won’t tell her that I got soaked in the rain last night. (To her, lifting his hat again.) I’m tickled nearly to death to have you say such complimentary things to me. It makes me glad I came on this camping trip.

THE GIRL: You belong to the camping party flying the flag of the skull and cross-bones, don’t you?

THE FELLOW: Yes–all the boys are young doctors, except me.

THE GIRL: And what are you?

THE FELLOW: I’m the patient.

THE GIRL: Are you sick?

THE FELLOW: Love-sick.

THE GIRL: (Turning up her nose.) How ridiculous! What brought you to Lake George?


THE GIRL: I! Oh, you are too absurd for anything. Give me my glove, please, and let me go.

THE FELLOW: (Coming still nearer.) Don’t be rash. There’s no place to go. All of your camping party have gone on a boating trip except yourself. You’re surely not going back there and hang around the camp all alone?

THE GIRL: (In surprise.) How did YOU know that the rest of my party had gone away for the day?

THE FELLOW: I saw ’em start. Why didn’t you go with ’em?

THE GIRL: I had nothing to wear but this tailor-made gown, and a girl can’t go boating in a dress like this. I only intended to stay two days when I came up here from New York to join the camp, and was not prepared with enough clothes. I’ve sent home for clothes and am expecting them to arrive at the camp this morning– that’s why I didn’t go boating, since you are impertinent enough to ask. (She gives him an indignant look.)

THE FELLOW: I beg your pardon. Won’t you sit down?

THE GIRL: No, I will not. (Still looking quite indignant, she sits down immediately on bench. He sits down beside her.)

THE FELLOW: Neither will I. (He looks at her out of the corners of his eyes, and she turns her face away, nervously tapping the stage with one foot.)

THE GIRL: You seem to know all that has been going on at our camp. I believe you have been spying on us.

THE FELLOW: Not at all. I know one of the girls in your camp.

THE GIRL: (Sarcastically.) Oh, you do! (She tosses her head.) So you have been following me up in order to send some message to another girl. Who is she?

THE FELLOW: Genevieve Patterson.

THE GIRL: (Aside.) I’ll never let him know now that I have on Genevieve’s clothes.

THE FELLOW: But you’re mistaken. I’ve already sent the message. It was about you.

THE GIRL: About me? What about me?

THE FELLOW: I wanted Genevieve to introduce us. Say–you haven’t told me your name yet.

THE GIRL: I don’t intend to. I think you are very forward.

THE FELLOW: Shall I tell you my name?

THE GIRL: By no means.

THE FELLOW: You’re not interested?

THE GIRL: Not a bit.

(There is a pause. She keeps her head turned away. He looks upward and all around, somewhat embarrassed.)

THE FELLOW: (Finally breaking the silence.) Are there any bugs in your camp?

THE GIRL: (Facing him angrily.) Sir!

THE FELLOW: I mean gnats, mosquitoes–things like that.

THE GIRL: Yes. I was badly bitten last night by a mosquito.

THE FELLOW: (Very much interested.) Where did he get you?

THE GIRL: (Laughing.) Well, you are so fresh that I can’t be mad at you. You’re too funny. Since you want to know so much, he got me on the knee. I wasn’t far-seeing enough to bring mosquito netting. It’s a bad bite.

THE FELLOW: Is it possible?

THE GIRL: Don’t you believe it?

THE FELLOW: Well, I’m not far-seeing enough to know for sure. (With a sly glance at her knees.)

THE GIRL: How silly of you! But say–I know a joke on you. I saw you fall in the lake yesterday.

THE FELLOW: (Nodding his head.) While I was fishing?

THE GIRL: Yes; it was so amusing. I don’t know when I’ve enjoyed such a hearty joke. How did you come to fall in?

THE FELLOW: I didn’t come to fall in. I came to fish.

THE GIRL: I also saw that man with the camera over in your camp. What was he dojng?

THE FELLOW: Oh, he was a moving picture man from New York. He was taking moving pictures of our cheese.

THE GIRL: Preposterous! Have you caught any fish since you came?

THE FELLOW: Only a dog-fish, with a litter of puppies.

THE GIRL: (With wide-open eyes.) How interesting! What did you do with them?

THE FELLOW: We made frankfurter sausages out of the little ones, and we are using the big one to guard the camp.

THE GIRL: To guard the camp?

THE FELLOW: Yes–it’s a watch-dog fish.

THE GIRL: Well, I’ve heard of sea-dogs, but I never knew before that–

THE FELLOW: Oh, yes–quite common. I suppose, of course, you heard the cat-fish having a concert last night.

THE GIRL: No–surely you are joking.

THE FELLOW: No, indeed–they were all tom-cats.

THE GIRL: Who ever heard of such a thing?

THE FELLOW: Well, you’ve heard of tom-cods, haven’t you?

THE GIRL: Yes, of course, but–

THE FELLOW: Well, why not tom-cats then? Say, you must be sure to come over to our camp and see the collection in our private aquarium. We have two compartments, and keep the little daughter fish on one side, and–

THE GIRL: The daughter fish!

THE FELLOW: (Nodding his head.) Yes, and the son-fish on the other. (THE GIRL springs to her feet, angrily.)

THE GIRL: You are simply guying me. I shan’t listen to you another moment. Give me my glove, sir, I demand it.

THE FELLOW: (Also jumping to his feet and grasping her by the arm.) Oh, please don’t get mad. We were getting along so nicely, too.

THE GIRL: (Sneeringly.) “WE” were getting along so nicely. You mean YOU were. I wasn’t.

THE FELLOW: Yes, you were doing FINE. You were listening to me, and I can get along all right with anybody that will listen to me. Besides–ah-ah–fraulein–mam’selle–you know, I don’t know your name–besides I–I–I like you. I–I think you’re the sweetest girl I’ve ever seen.

THE GIRL: (Turning her head away, and releasing her arm from his grasp.) Oh, pshaw! You’ve said that to a hundred girls.

THE FELLOW: No–believe me, I have not. YOU’VE made a mighty big hit with me. I’m hard hit this time. I–

THE GIRL: (Laughing in spite of herself.) Oh, you foolish boy. How can you expect me to believe you? I’ll bet anything that your coat pockets are filled with love letters from other girls this very minute.

THE FELLOW: You are wrong. You are unjust. Clementina, you are–

THE GIRL: (Indignant again.) Clementina! How dare you address me by such a ridiculous–

THE FELLOW: Oh, pardon me. I thought Clementina was quite poetic. Besides, I’ve got to call you something. You do me a terrible injustice. On my word of honor–as a–as a fisherman–I haven’t a love letter in my coat pocket–or anywhere else. I am young, innocent, virtuous and–

THE GIRL: (Bursting into laughter again.) And utterly foolish, I should judge. You are afraid to let me search your pockets.

THE FELLOW: Afraid? Who’s afraid? Me afraid! Well, I’d be tickled to death to have you search my pockets. I dare you to search my pockets. I dare you–understand? (He faces her and throws up his hands over his head.)

THE GIRL: You dare me, do you? Well, I just won’t take a dare. I’ll do it.

THE FELLOW: Go ahead and do it. I repeat, I dare you! If you doubt my word, prove to your satisfaction that I never lie. I dare you!

THE GIRL: (Leaning her parasol against bench, and stepping up to him in very business-like manner.) Very well, then. I accept your challenge. You can’t bluff me out. I believe that ALL men lie when they talk to women, and I am under the impression that you are no exception. Keep your hands up in the air–promise?

THE FELLOW: I promise.

THE GIRL: This is the first time I’ve ever held up anybody, but here goes. (She searches his right-hand pocket.) I don’t suppose you’ve ever been robbed before?

THE FELLOW: Oh, yes–I was once surrounded by a band of robbers.

THE GIRL: (Still searching.) Indeed! On a public highway?

THE FELLOW: (Still holding up his hands.) No, in a New York hotel cafe. They were the waiters.

THE GIRL: (Taking her hand out of right-hand pocket.) Well, there’s nothing in that one but a box of matches. How about this one? (She thrusts her hand into the lower left-hand pocket, and pulls out a letter, written on dainty writing paper.) Ah! this is what I expected to find. Perfumed note paper. (She looks at it critically.) Yes, this is the one–no need to search further.

THE FELLOW: What the devil!–(His hands drop to his sides, and he opens his eyes in amazement.)

THE GIRL: (Turning on him angrily.) Sir–such language!

THE FELLOW: Oh, I beg your pardon–but–but–(He points to letter.) I–I–that letter isn’t mine. I can’t understand how it got into my pocket. I–(Suddenly a look of enlightenment comes into his face. Aside, he says.) By thunder!–I had forgotten all about it. This suit of clothes belongs to Tommy Higgins. Oh, what a mess I’ve made of it. She’ll never believe me now if I tell her I am wearing another fellow’s suit. (To her, excitedly.) Say–listen to me, honestly that letter was not written to me, Tommy Higgins, you see–

THE GIRL: (Waving him aside.) No excuses. You probably thought you didn’t have it with you. Falsehoods are always found out, you see. I was right. You are like all the rest of the men–a born liar–only with this difference–you are a bigger liar than the average. You are really in a class all by yourself. (With the letter held out before her, she scans it eagerly.)

Oh, this is immense!–this is delicious!

THE FELLOW: (Making a grab for the letter.) Give that to me, please.

THE GIRL: Not on your life. It may not be proper to read other people’s letters, but the present circumstances are unusual. I shall certainly read it–and read it aloud. I want to make you swallow every word and see how they agree with you. Listen to I this, you barbaric Ananias. (She reads aloud.) “My beloved Affinity–Come back to town next Saturday without fail. Just slip away from the other boys at the camp. Tell them that an important business matter demands your presence in the city. I am crazy to see you. Life without you is very stupid. Come to me, my dearest, without delay.

  Always your own,

THE FELLOW: (Collapsing in a heap on the bench.) CLEMENTINA!!

THE GIRL: (Folding up the letter and looking at him in utter scorn.) So that’s where you got the name! So you were thinking of the writer of this letter when you addressed ME by the name of Clementina a while ago. Simply outrageous! (She stamps her feet.)

THE FELLOW: (With a groan.) Oh, Lord! I just happened to say "Clementina” because I thought it was a pretty name. Won’t you believe me? I don’t know who this Clementina is. I never saw the writer of that letter in all my life. That letter was meant for Tommy Higgins. This suit of clothes–

THE GIRL: (Interrupting.) Don’t even attempt to make ridiculous explanations. Don’t make yourself more of a liar than you have already proved. I won’t listen to another word from you. I didn’t want to listen to you in the first place. Here is your affinity’s letter, sir. (She hands it to him. He takes it and stuffs it angrily into the coat pocket.) Now, let me have my parasol, please, and my glove. (She reaches for the parasol, but he catches it up and holds it behind his back, as he rises from the bench.)

THE FELLOW: You shall not go away until you hear what I want to say. Tommy Higgins–

THE GIRL: Oh, bother Tommy Higgins!

THE FELLOW: Yes. That’s what I say–only stronger. But listen, please–

THE GIRL: Don’t discuss the matter further. My parasol and glove; sir! (She is facing him angrily.)

THE FELLOW: Oh, come now. Don’t be so hard on a fellow. I tell you that letter wasn’t written to me. What if I should search your pockets and find a letter that belonged to somebody else? How would you feel about it?

THE GIRL: You would never find anything in MY pockets that I am ashamed of–that is, if I HAD any pockets. But I have no pockets.

THE FELLOW: (Pointing with one hand at the right side of her jacket.) I beg your pardon. It seems that you know how to tell ’em, too. What’s that, if it isn’t a pocket?

THE GIRL: (In embarrassment.) Oh–yes–so it is. (Aside.) I had forgotten that I was wearing Genevieve’s suit.

THE FELLOW: Well, turn about is fair play, isn’t it? I’m going to search your pocket now.

THE GIRL: You mean to insinuate that I have anything in my pocket of a compromising nature? How dare you!

THE FELLOW: You won’t believe ME! Why should I believe you? For all I know, you may be a far different kind of girl than I took you to be.

THE GIRL: (Very angry.) You are insulting, sir. But since I stooped so low as to search your pockets, I will give you the satisfaction of searching mine–and then that will be an end of our acquaintance. You can then go your way–and I’ll go my way.

THE FELLOW: We’ll see about that. Hold up your hands.

THE GIRL: (Darting furious glances at him and holding her hands over her head.) Very well, sir. Hurry up, please, and have it over with. (THE FELLOW very deliberately goes to bench, leans the parasol up against it, just as THE GIRL had done before, and imitating the business-like way in which she had gone through his pockets, he comes up to her and pushes up his coat sleeves, as if preparing for a serious piece of business.)

THE FELLOW: (Still mimicing her manner.) I don’t suppose you’ve ever been held up before?

THE GIRL: (Icily.) No–you are the first burglar I have ever met.

THE FELLOW: Promise to hold your hands up until I have finished?

THE GIRL: (Scornfully.) Of course, I’m a girl of my word.

THE FELLOW: All right then. (He deliberately kisses her squarely on the lips, while her hands are held up over her head. She gives a cry and starts to drop her hands and push him away, but he catches her arms and gently holds them up over her head again.) No, no, I’m not through yet.

THE GIRL: You are a brute. You are not worthy to associate with a respectable girl. (THE FELLOW thrusts his hands into the pocket of her jacket and puns out a box of cigarettes and a letter. He holds them up before her horrified eyes.)

THE FELLOW: Well. I’ll be–(He starts to say “damned,” but stops just in time. THE GIRL’S arms drop limply to her sides, and with eyes staring in complete bewilderment she staggers to the bench and collapses down upon it.)

THE GIRL: Good heavens!

THE FELLOW: (Blinking his eyes at the articles which he holds before him.) What innocent playthings! A box of Pall Malls and a letter–no doubt, an affinity letter. (He shakes his head, soberly.) Well, well! And you just said I wasn’t fit to associate with you.

THE GIRL: (Her breast heaving in great agitation.) Oh, this is a terrible mistake! What could Genevieve have been doing with those things?

THE FELLOW: (Turning on her, quickly.) Genevieve?

THE GIRL: Yes, Genevieve.

THE FELLOW: Genevieve Patterson.

THE GIRL: Yes, Genevieve Patterson–the girl you know–my best friend. Oh, can’t you understand? Those things don’t belong to me. They are–(She stops abruptly, bites her lips, clasps her hands. Then says, aside.) Oh, what am I doing? I mustn’t allow Genevieve’s reputation to be ruined. I might as well take the blame and brave it out myself. This situation is frightful. (She turns to him again.) I can’t explain, but don’t–oh, please don’t think that I–that I–(She stops, looking as if she is about to cry.)

THE FELLOW: (Again looking at the articles and shaking his head.) And you always looked like such a nice girl, too. Cigarettes–and– (He opens up the letter.)

THE GIRL: (Suddenly springing to her feet.) You must not read that letter. It does not belong to me. You have no right to read that letter.

THE FELLOW: But you read the letter that didn’t belong to me.

THE GIRL: It did belong to you.

THE FELLOW: It didn’t!



THE GIRL: (Running forward and trying to grab the letter, which he holds out of her reach.) I forbid you to read that letter. I swear to you, it is not mine.

THE FELLOW: (Still holding it out of her reach and looking it over.) By George! You are right–it is NOT yours. It is MINE!


THE FELLOW: Yes, mine. It’s the very message I sent to Genevieve Patterson yesterday–the letter in which I asked for an introduction to you. (He hands it to her.) Here–read it yourself, if you don’t believe me this time. (THE GIRL wonderingly takes the letter and reads it to herself, her lips moving and her eyes wide open in surprise.)

THE GIRL: (As she finishes she looks sweetly up at him.) Then you are NOT such a liar after all. You did tell me the truth.

THE FELLOW: Nothing but the truth.

THE GIRL: But what about that other letter?

THE FELLOW: (Taking her by the shoulder and speaking quickly.) Now, you’ve got to listen. That other letter was written to Tommy Higgins. I was caught in the shower last night, and had to borrow this suit of clothes from Tommy.

THE GIRL: (A glad smile gradually coming over her face.) O-h-h!

THE FELLOW: But how did you come to have my letter written to Genevieve?

THE GIRL: Oh, don’t you understand? (She looks at him beseechingly.)

THE FELLOW: (The truth suddenly striking him.) Oh-h-h-! I see! You got caught in the shower, too. You borrowed that tailor-made suit from Genevieve.

THE GIRL: Can you doubt it?

THE FELLOW: But the cigarettes?

THE GIRL: I can’t account for them. I only know–

THE FELLOW: Never mind. I don’t care. (He stuffs the cigarettes into his own pocket and grasps both of her hands in his own.) Tell me–you don’t think I’m the biggest liar in the world, do you?

THE GIRL: (Archly.) No–not quite.

THE FELLOW: (Slipping his arm around her.) And if you were married–to–to a fellow like me, you’d make him an awfully good wife, wouldn’t you?

THE GIRL: (Laughing.). No–I’d try to make HIM a good husband. (He bends over and is just about to kiss her when a MAN’S VOICE is heard off stage to the Right.)

MAN’S VOICE: (Off stage.) Hey, there, Miss–your trunk has come. (THE FELLOW and THE GIRL spring apart, guiltily.)

THE FELLOW: (Bitterly.) Just when I had it all cinched. (THE GIRL runs to the bench, picks up her parasol, still laughing.)

THE GIRL: It’s the wagon from the railroad station, with my clothes from town. Good-bye. (She starts off, Right.)

THE FELLOW: But you’re coming back again?

THE GIRL: Well–maybe–perhaps–If you’re good. (She exits laughing.)

THE FELLOW: She’s got me going. My head’s in a muddle, and I feel like a sailor full of horn-pipes. And that reminds me of Tommy Higgins’ latest song. It goes like this: (Here is introduced comic song. At finish THE GIRL comes running on from Right, dressed in a pretty summer dress, and carrying another pretty silk parasol. THE FELLOW takes his hat off and holding it high over his head, exclaims:) Here comes the rainbow after the shower!

THE GIRL: I must explain to you–I saw Genevieve–the cigarettes belong to her brother, Jack.

THE FELLOW: And I’ve just found out what belongs to me.


THE FELLOW: You! (He takes her parasol, opens it, and holds it in front of them for an instant so that their faces are hidden from audience. This is music cue for the Conversation Number which brings the sketch to a finish.)



Arthur Denvir
Author of “Busy Isabel,” “How Ignatius Got Pneumonia,” “When Wit Won,” “The War Correspondent,” Etc., Etc.



GLADYS DRESSUITCASE . . . . . A Deserted Wife
ALPHONSO DRESSUITCASE . . . . Her Dying Che-ild
MOE REISS DRESSUITCASE. . . . Her Fugitive Husband
BIRDIE BEDSLATZ . . . . . . . Her Doll-faced Rival
ALGERNON O’FLAHERTY . . . . . The Villain Who Pursued Her



Music: “Mendelssohn’s Spring Song,” Played in discords. Spot Light on L. I.


Enter GLADYS wearing linen duster and dragging a big rope to which is attached a case of beer with about eight empty bottles in it. She stops C.

GLADYS: (Tearfully.) At last I am almost home. Eleven miles walk from the sweat shop here, and that’s some hoofing it, believe me. (Sways.) Oh, I am faint (Looks over shoulder at beer case.), faint for the want of my Coca-Cola. (Enter ALGERNON R. I–wears slouch hat, heavy moustache, red shirt and high boots. She is facing L.) Oh, I have a hunch I’m being shadowed–flagged by a track-walker! But I mustn’t think of that. (Starts to drag case L.) I must get home to my dying child. He needs me–he needs me. (Exits L. I.)

ALGERNON: (Goes L. C. and looks after her.) It is Gladys–found at last! (Enter BIRDIE L. I. She is in bright red with white plumes and is a beautiful, radiant adventuress. )

BIRDIE: Did you get a good look at her?

ALGERNON: Yes–it’s Gladys and she’s down and out–(Both together:) Curse her!

ALGERNON: Now I can begin pursuing her again.

BIRDIE: Yes, and I can gloat over her misery–and gloating’s the best thing I do.

ALGERNON: Come (fiercely!) We are wasting time.

BIRDIE: She’ll never know me with this dark hair and no make-up on.

ALGERNON: (At L. I–still more fiercely.) Can that junk! Come! (Exits L. I.)

BIRDIE: (Going to L. I.) He has me in his power. I must follow him. Curse him! (Exits after ALGERNON. Enter MOE REISS in bum evening-clothes and opera hat. Carries cane.)

MOE REISS: (Reading from back of envelope.) Down this street and turn into the alley full of ash cans! I’m on the right track at last. Once more I shall see my wife and my little boy! Of course, she’ll be sore because I ran away and deserted her, leaving her no alimony except the dying che-ild. But I must produce a real wife and child from somewhere or I’ll lose the $9.75 my uncle left me. (Goes L. musingly.) Why do I love money so? Ay, that’s the question. (Looking up at gallery.) And what’s the answer? (Points off L. with cane–dramatically.) We shall see–we shall see. (Dashes off L.)

The lights go out, and the Drop in One takes all the time that the clock strikes sixteen or seventeen to go up, so it is timed very slowly.



A Mott Street Garret–everything of the poorest description. Old table down stage R., with chair on either side and waste paper basket in front. Cot bed down stage L. Old cupboard up stage C. Small stand at head of cot.

PHONSIE lies in cot, head up stage, covered up. He should weigh over two hundred pounds. He wears Buster Brown wig and nightie that buttons up the back. GLADYS is seated at table d. s. R., sewing on a tiny handkerchief. She is magnificently dressed and wears all the jewelry she can carry. Pile of handkerchiefs at back of table within reach and a waste basket in front of table where she can throw handkerchiefs when used.

As curtain rises, the clock off stage slowly strikes for the sixteenth or seventeenth time.

GLADYS: Five o’clock and my sewing still unfinished. Oh, it must be done to-night. There’s the rent–six dollars. To-day is Friday–bargain day–I wonder if the landlord would take four ninety-eight.

(Business. PHONSIE snores.) And my child needs more medicine. The dog biscuits haven’t helped him a bit, and his stomach is too weak to digest the skin foods. (Wood crash off stage.) How restless he is, poor little tot!!!! Fatherless and deserted, sick and emaciated–eight years have I passed in this wretched place, hopeless, hapless, hipless. At times the struggle seems more than I can bear, but I must be brave for my child, my little one. (Buries face in hands.) (Business. Sews.)

PHONSIE: (Business.) Mommer! Mommer! Are you there? (Blows pea blower at her.)

GLADYS: (Hand to cheek where he hit her.) Yes, dolling, mommer is here.

PHONSIE: Say, mommer, am I dying? (Loud and toughly.)

GLADYS: (Sadly.) I am afraid not, my treasure.

PHONSIE: Why not, mommer?

GLADYS: You are too great a pest to die, sweetheart.

PHONSIE: But the good always die young, don’t they, mommer?

GLADYS: (Still sewing.) But you were not speaking about the good–you were speaking of yourself, my precious.

PHONSIE: Ain’t I good, mommer, don’t you think?

GLADYS: (Business.) Oh, I don’t dare to think!!!! (Moves up stage.)

PHONSIE: Don’t think if it hurts you, mommer.

GLADYS: (At dresser.) But come, it is time for your medicine. (Shows enormous pill.)

PHONSIE: (Scared.) What is that, mommer?

GLADYS: Just a horse pill, baby. (Puts it in his mouth.) There, that will help cure mother’s little man. (At table.)

PHONSIE: Gee! That tasted fierce. (Business. Knock.) Some one is knocking, mommer.

GLADYS: They’re always knocking mommer. (At door.)

VOICE: Have yez th’ rint?

GLADYS: I haven’t.

VOICE: Much obliged.

GLADYS: You’re welcome.

PHONSIE: Who was that, mommer?

GLADYS: That was only the landlord for the rent. Alas, I cannot raise it.

PHONSIE: Then if you can’t raise the rent, raise me, mommer. Can’t I have the spot-light to die with?

GLADYS: Why certainly you shall have one. Mr. Electrician, will you kindly give my dying child a spot-light? (Business.) There, dearest, there’s your spot-light.

PHONSIE: (Laughs.) Oh, that’s fine. Mommer, can I have visions?

GLADYS: Why surely, dear, you can have all the visions you want. (Shoves opium pipe in his mouth and lights it.) Now tell mommer what you see, baby!

PHONSIE: Oh, mommer, I see awful things. I can see the Gerry society pinching me. And oh, mommer, I can see New York, [1] and there ain’t a gambling house in the town.

[1] Substitute name of any big city.

GLADYS: He’s blind!!!! My child’s gone blind!!!! (PHONSIE snores.) He sleeps at last, my child, my little dying child!!!! (Enter ALGERNON and BIRDIE.)

GLADYS: (Discovers ALGERNON.) You!!!! (ALGERNON turns to Orchestra and conducts Chord with cane.) (GLADYS Left, ALGERNON C., BIRDIE R.)

ALGERNON: (Chord.) Yes, Gladys Dressuitcase, once more we meet!!!!!

GLADYS: And the lady with the Brooklyn [1] gown!! Ah, you will start, but I know you in spite of your disguise, Birdie Bedslatz.

[1] Substitute name of the local gag town.

BIRDIE: Disguise! What disguise?

GLADYS: Woman, you cannot deceive me. You’ve been to the dry-dock and had your face scraped.

BIRDIE: So, you still want war?

GLADYS: No, I want justice!!!! (ALGERNON conducts Chord.) You have tracked me like sleuthhounds. You have hunted me down after all these years. You have robbed me of home, husband, honor and friends. What then is left me? (L.)

BIRDIE: (Menacingly.) There is always the river.

GLADYS: What, you dare suggest that, you with your past!

BIRDIE: How dare you mention that to me! I am now writing Sunday stories for the New York “American.” [2] (Crosses to left and sits.)

[2] Substitute name of the local sensational newspaper.

GLADYS: (Stunned.) Sophie Lyons, now I see it all.

ALGERNON: (Center.) I have here a mortgage.

GLADYS: A mortgage!!!! What is it on?

ALGERNON: I don’t know. What difference does that make? It is a mortgage. That’s all that’s necessary.

GLADYS: Can it be a mortgage on the old farm?

ALGERNON: (Moves over to R.) Certainly, on the old farm!!!! The dear old homestead in New Hampshire. (Takes paper from pocket. Crosses over to GLADYS.) I have also the paper that always goes with the mortgage. Sign this paper and the mortgage shall be yours, refuse–and–do you mind my coming closer so that I can hiss this in your ear?

GLADYS: Not at all, come right over.

ALGERNON: (Close to GLADYS.) Refuse (Hiss), I say, and you and your child shall be thrown into the streets to starve. (Hiss.)

GLADYS: (Crosses R.) Oh, I must have time to drink–I mean think. But this is infamous. The landlord will–

ALGERNON: I am the landlord. Now will you sign the papers?

GLADYS: No, a thousand times no!!!!! (Chord.) (ALGERNON conducts Chord.) No!!!!

BIRDIE: (Hand to ear.) Good gracious, don’t scream so, where do you think you are?

ALGERNON: You won’t sign?

GLADYS: No, do your worst, throw me into the street with my child. He is sick, dying!!!!

ALGERNON: What’s the matter with him? (Goes to bed.) (PHONSIE is heaving and whistling.) Great heavens, he has the heaves. (Goes R.)

BIRDIE: What are you doing for him?

GLADYS: Trying the hot air treatment.

BIRDIE: I should think you would be expert at that.

GLADYS: The doctor says he has grey matter in his brain.

BIRDIE: (Comes down L.) I am sorry, very sorry.

ALGERNON: Sorry! Bah, this is a cheap play for sympathy! (To GLADYS:) Will you sign the papers?

GLADYS: Never, I defy you: (To BIRDIE.) As for you, beautiful fiend that you are, you came between me and my husband; you stole him from me with your dog-faced beauty; I mean doll-faced. But I can see your finish, I can see you taking poison in about fifteen minutes.

BIRDIE: (Over to ALGERNON.) Put me wise, is this true?

ALGERNON: No, ’tis false, false as hell!!!!! (Points up.)

GLADYS: It’s true, as true as heaven. (Points down.) I swear it.

ALGERNON: (Crosses up to GLADYS.) Why, curse you, I’ll–

GLADYS: (With pistol.) Stand back!!!!! I’m a desperate woman!!!!!

ALGERNON: (Center.) Foiled, curse the luck, foiled by a mere slip of a girl.

BIRDIE: What’s to be done?

ALGERNON: (Yells.) Silence!!!! (Business.) Once aboard the lugger the girl must and shall be mine!!!!

BIRDIE: But how do you propose to lug her there? (ALGERNON moves up to door.)

GLADYS: Oh, I see it all. You have brought this she-devil here to work off her bad gags on me. Man, have you no heart?

ALGERNON: (Comes down C.) Of course I have a heart. I have also eyes, ears, nose, tongue and–

BIRDIE: Brains, calves’ brains–breaded.

ALGERNON: That will be about all from you. Go, leave us!

BIRDIE: Alone?


GLADYS: Alone!

PHONSIE: (In sepulchral tone.) Oh, Gee!

BIRDIE: But it’s hardly decent. You need a tamer.

ALGERNON: Go! (Crosses to R.) Go, I say, before it is too late.

BIRDIE: Oh, there’s no hurry. Every place is open.

ALGERNON: Don’t sass me, Birdie Bedslatz, but clear out, scat!!!!

BIRDIE: Ain’t he the awful scamp? (Starts to door.)

GLADYS: (Clinging to her.) No, you cannot, must not go. Don’t leave me alone with that piano mover.

BIRDIE: I must go. I have poison to buy. (At door.) Ah, Algernon O’Flaherty, if there was more men in the world like you, there’d be less women like me–I just love to say that. Ta–ta. (PHONSIE blows pea-shooter at her as she Exits. She screams and grabs cheek.)

ALGERNON: (To GLADYS back.) So, proud beauty, at last we are alone!

GLADYS: Inhuman monster!!! What new villainy do you propose?

ALGERNON: None, it’s all old stuff. Listen, Gladys. When I see you again, all the old love revives and I grow mad, mad.

GLADYS: You dare to speak of love to me? Why, from the first moment I saw you, I despised you. And now I tell you to your face that I hate and loathe you, for the vile, contemptible wretch that you are.

ALGERNON: (Center.) Be careful, girl! I can give you wealth, money, jewels–jewels fit for a king’s ransom.

GLADYS: (Runs into his arms.) Oh, you can–Where are they?

ALGERNON: They are in hock for the moment, but see, here are the tickets. I shall get them out, anon.

GLADYS: Dastardly wretch!!!!! With your pawn tickets to try and cop out a poor sewing girl. (Up at door.) There is the door, go! (Points other way.)

ALGERNON: (Up to her.) Why curse you, I’ll–

GLADYS: Strike, you coward! (Chord.) (ALGERNON conducts Chord.)

ALGERNON: Coward!!!! (He conducts same Chord an Octave higher.)

GLADYS: Yes, coward. . . . Now go, and never cross this threshold again!!

ALGERNON: (Going up stage.) So, I’m fired with the threshold gag? Very well, I go, but I shall return. . . . I shall return! (Exits.)

PHONSIE: (Blows pea-blower after him.) Who was that big stiff, mommer, the instalment man?

GLADYS: No, darling, he is the floor-walker in a slaughter house.

PHONSIE: Mommer, when do I eat?

GLADYS: Alas, we cannot buy food, we are penniless.

PHONSIE: If you would only put your jewels in soak, mommer.

GLADYS: What, hock me sparks? Never! I may starve, yes, but I’ll starve like a lady in all my finery!

PHONSIE: Mommer, I want to eat.

GLADYS: What shall I do? My child hungry, dying, without even the price of a shave! Oh, my heart is like my brother on the railroad, breaking–breaking–breaking–(Weeps.)

PHONSIE: Ah, don’t cry, mommer. You’ll have the whole place damp. You keep on sewing and I’ll keep on dying.

GLADYS: Very well. (Drying eyes.) But first I’ll go out and get a can of beer. Thank goodness, we always have beer money.

PHONSIE: Oh yes, mommer, do rush the growler. Me coppers is toastin’. And don’t forget your misery cape and the music that goes with you, will you, mommer?

GLADYS: I’ll get those.

PHONSIE: And you’d better take some handkerchiefs. You may want to cry. But don’t cry in the beer, mommer, it makes it flat.

GLADYS: Thank you, baby, I do love to weep. Oh, if we only had a blizzard, I’d take you out in your nightie. But wait, sweetheart, wait till it goes below zero. Then you shall go out with mommer, bare-footed.

PHONSIE: Don’t stand chewing the rag with the bartender, will you, mommer?

GLADYS: Only till he puts a second head on the beer. (Exit R.)

PHONSIE: Gee, it’s fierce to be a stage child and dying. I wonder where my popper is? I want my popper–I want my popper. (Bawls.)

MOE REISS: (Enters.) Why, what is the matter, my little man?

PHONSIE: Oh, I’m so lonely, I want my popper.

MOE REISS: And where is your popper?

PHONSIE: Mommer says he is in Philadelphia. (Sniffles.)

MOE REISS: (Lifts hat reverently.) Dead, and his child doesn’t know. And where is your mama?

PHONSIE: Oh, she’s went out to chase the can.

MOE REISS: And what is your name, my little man?

PHONSIE: Alphonso. Ain’t that practically the limit?

MOE REISS: Alphonso? I once had a little boy named Alphonso, who might have been about your age.

PHONSIE: And what prevented him?

MOE REISS: (Sighs.) Alas, I lost him!

PHONSIE: That was awful careless of you. You oughtn’t to have took him out without his chain. (Sniffs.)

MOE REISS: What’s the matter with your nose?

PHONSIE: I have the glanders–and the heaves. I get all the horse diseases. Father was a race track tout.

MOE REISS: A race track tout? What is your last name?

PHONSIE: Dressuitcase, Alphonso Dressuitcase.

MOE REISS: Dressuitcase? And have you heavy shingle marks on your person, great blue welts?

PHONSIE: You bet I have, and my popper put them there, too.

MOE REISS: Why, it’s my boy, Phonsie, my little Phonsie. Don’t you know me? It’s popper. (Slams him in face hard with open hand.)

PHONSIE: Well, your style is familiar, but you don’t need to show off!

GLADYS: (Enters. Carrying Growler carefully.) Moe! Moe! My husband! (Buries face in can.)

MOE REISS: Gladys! Gladys! My wife! (Takes can from GLADYS.)

PHONSIE: (Comes between them.) Here, I want to have my fever reduced. (Back to bed.)

GLADYS: Where have you been all these years, Moe?

MOE REISS: Just bumming around, just bumming around. When I deserted you and copped out Birdie Bedslatz, I went from bad to worse, from Jersey City to Hoboken. [1] When my senses returned, I was insane.

[1] Local.

GLADYS: My poor husband, how you must have suffered!

MOE REISS: At heart, I was always true to you and our little boy, and I want to come back home.

GLADYS: But tell me, Moe, how are you fixed? (Tries to feel his vest pocket.)

MOE REISS: Fine, I am running a swell gambling joint.

GLADYS: Splendid! Now, Phonsie shall have proper nourishment.

MOE REISS: He shall have all the food he can eat. (Up to bed.)

GLADYS: Yes, and all the beer he can drink.

MOE REISS: Great heavens, I could never pay for that.

GLADYS: Ah, then he will have to cut out his souse. Dear little chap; he loved to get tanked up. Oh look at him, Moe, he is the living image of you. I think if he lives, he will be a great bull fighter. (PHONSIE has finished the beer, and is sucking at a nipple on large bottle marked “Pure Rye.”)

MOE REISS: Then he does take after me–dear little chap. (Hits him.)

GLADYS: Indeed he does. But is it safe for you to come here, Moe?

MOE REISS: Not with Whitman [1] on my trail. You know, Gladys, in the eyes of the world, I am guilty.

[1] Local District Attorney.

GLADYS: Then the world lies. (Chord. ALGERNON comes on from R. I and conducts and then Exits.) I still trust you, my husband, though the police want you for stealing moth balls. (Crash off.) What’s that? (Runs to door.) Oh, it’s the health department. They have come with the garbage wagon to arrest you. Quick, in there. (Points to door R.)

MOE REISS: No, let them come. I am here to see my wife and here I shall remain.

GLADYS: But for our child’s sake. See, he holds up his little hands and pleads for you to go. (PHONSIE in pugilistic attitude.)

PHONSIE: Say, pop, if you don’t get a wiggle on and duck in there, there’ll be something doing. (Business.)

MOE REISS: My boy, I can refuse you nothing. (Exits.)

GLADYS: (At door C.) They are sneaking up, on rubbers! (To PHONSIE.) Lie down, Fido. (Guarding door R. Enter ALGERNON and BIRDIE, Door C.)

ALGERNON: There’s some hellish mystery here!

BIRDIE: You can search me.

ALGERNON: (Sees GLADYS.) Aha! Now will you sign those papers?

GLADYS: Never. (Bus.) I’ll sign nothing. (Down R.)

ALGERNON: (Takes carrot from his hip pocket.) You won’t? There, curse you, take that. (Hits her in neck with carrot.)

GLADYS: In the neck! In the neck, where I always get it!

ALGERNON: (Center.) Quick, Birdie, seize the child and run.

BIRDIE: (Left, looks scornfully at PHONSIE.) You’ve got your nerve. He weighs a ton!!

PHONSIE: Oh! She’s going to kidnap me!! Assistance!!

ALGERNON: Silence!! Enough!! (To GLADYS.) I have just come from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


ALGERNON: I have reported to them that your child has the heaves.


ALGERNON: The Society is sending a horse ambulance to take him to the dump.

GLADYS: Dump? To the dump?!!! No, no, it’s a cruel, hideous jest! Take away my little dying boy? It would kill him, you understand, it would kill him!!

PHONSIE: (Toughly.) Sure, it would kill me!! (Bites off big chew of Tobacco.)

ALGERNON: Nevertheless, in five minutes the horse ambulance will be here.

GLADYS: Oh no! no! no! What if my child should die?

ALGERNON: Then they will make glue out of his carcass.

GLADYS: Glue. Aw! (Shakes snow on herself from box hanging over the table L.)

PHONSIE: I don’t want to be no glue, mommer, I’d be all stuck up.

GLADYS: (Goes C. to PHONSIE.) Why this fiendish plot? What have I done that you thus pursue me?

ALGERNON: (R. C.) You repulsed my hellish caresses.

GLADYS: Oh, I will do anything to save my child. I’ll try to love you. . . . I will love! See? (Business.) (Into his arms.) I love you now!

MOE REISS: (Enter, center.) What’s this? My wife in that man’s arms? Oh! (Crosses L.)

GLADYS: (At right, to MOE REISS.) Oh, Moe, I can explain. (Grabs his throat and shakes him.)

MOE REISS: (To GLADYS.) Explain!!! How? I go away and desert you for eight years. (Turns from her and goes L.) In that short absence you forget your husband. (Turns to her.) I return to find you in his arms, before my very nose. (Smashes PHONSIE in face.) (Business.) (He sees BIRDIE.) You, Birdie!

BIRDIE: Yes, I, little Birdie–Birdie on the spot.

MOE REISS: Ah, you she-fiend, you lady demon! (Kisses her.)

GLADYS: (Screams.) No, no! (Runs to him.) It’s all a plot! A hideous plot to part us! This man has complained to the S. P. C. A. that our little Phonsie has the heaves. They are sending a horse ambulance to take him to the dump! They’ll make glue out of his carcass! (To ALGERNON.) You see what you have done! (Beats him on back.) Tell my husband, you devil, tell him the truth!!!

ALGERNON: (To MOE REISS) (C.) Well, if you must know the truth, your wife loves me and was forcing her caresses upon me when you entered.

MOE REISS: It’s true then, it’s true?

PHONSIE: (Sits up.) No, popper, it’s false, and I can prove it.

ALGERNON: The child is delirious from the heaves!

PHONSIE: I’ll heave you out of here in a minute. Listen, popper, mommer’s done the best she could. It ain’t easy to nurse a dying child who is liable to croak at any moment. But she’s done that, popper, she’s often went without her dill pickle so I could have my spavin cure. She thought I might get well and strong and maybe get a job as a safe mover. But I’ve been so busy dying I couldn’t go to work. (Shakes fist at ALGERNON.) Don’t believe that man, popper; I’m dying, cross my heart if I ain’t dying, so I couldn’t tell a lie. (Back to bed.)

MOE REISS: Oh, my boy! My boy! (heart-brokenly.) (Hits PHONSIE.)

GLADYS: Dh, Moe Reiss, don’t you believe him?

ALGERNON: (Left of C.) Of course not, he saw you with your arms around my neck.

MOE REISS: Yes, I saw it, I seen it.

BIRDIE: I can swear to it, if necessary.

PHONSIE: I can swear too, popper, want to hear me?

MOE REISS: No, I have heard enough. Now I intend to act. (Throws off coat, L.)

ALGERNON: What do you mean?

MOE REISS: I mean that either you or I will never leave this place alive. For I tell you plainly, as sure as there is a poker game above us, I mean to kill you!

ALGERNON: (Throws off coat and hat.) Well, if it’s a roughhouse you’re looking for, I’m right there with the goods. (Struggle.)

PHONSIE: Give him an upper cut, popper, soak him!!!

BIRDIE: Knife him, Algernon, knife him! (Has out her hat pin.) (During struggle, PHONSIE shoots three times.) (As they struggle to window, ALGERNON turns back, and PHONSIE sees [after third shot] his vest is a target and fires three times. Bell on each shot.) Curse you, you’ve got me. Here are your three cigars. (Falls dead, C.)

MOE REISS: (Kneels and feels heart.) Dead!!! Who could have done this?

PHONSIE: Father, I cannot tell a lie, I done it with my little hatchet. (Shows big gun and a picture of George Washington. All the others lift American flags and wave them.) (PHONSIE L. waving flag, MOE and GLADYS C. BIRDIE dead in chair R.)



Author of “Youth,” “Little Mother,” “Mon Desir,” “The Locks at Panama," "Lady Gossip,” Etc., Etc.




SCENE: The apartment of Miss Carey, a hardworking modiste about 45 years of age, rather sharp in manner, very prudish and a hater of men.

TIME: About 2 A.M.

When the curtain rises, the stage is dark. First, “feminine snores" are heard, then a sharp ringing of bell. Then MISS CAREY from her bed in next room (curtained off, but partly visible) calls out:

MISS CAREY: Who is it?

VOICE: (Off stage.) It’s me. Open!

MISS CAREY: (Poking her night-capped head out of curtains.) Well, who are you?

VOICE: (Off stage.) You don’t know me. But that’s all right. Please let me in–hurry! Hurry!

MISS CAREY: (Rising and getting into a kimono.) Well–whoever you are–what do you mean by waking me at two in the morning? I’ll report this to the janitor. (She turns up light and opens door. ANGELA MAXWELL rushes in–in fluffy peignoir–her hair in pretty disorder–her hands full of wearing apparel, etc., as if she just snatched same up in haste. An opera coat, a pair of slippers, etc.)

ANGELA: (Rushing in–closing door after her and silencing MISS CAREY by the mysterious way she seizes her by the wrist.) Listen, you don’t know me, but I’ve just left my husband.

MISS CAREY: (Sharply.) Well, that’s no reason why I should leave my bed.

ANGELA: (Reassuringly.) You can go right back again, dear–in fact, I’ll go with you and we’ll talk it over there.

MISS CAREY: I don’t wish to talk it over anywhere, and–

ANGELA: Well, surely, you don’t think it was wrong of me to leave Harry–now do you?

MISS CAREY: I never blame any woman for leaving any man.

ANGELA: See, I knew it. After I fired the Wedgewood vase at him–and just for doing it he was brute enough to call me “Vixen,"– I snatched up as much as I could that was worth taking, and left him forever. (Suddenly, as she sees dress on model.) Oh, what a lovely little frock. (Back to other tone.) Yes, forever; and it was only when I stood out in the cold hall that I realized it would have been better to have left him forever when I was all dressed in the morning. (Beginning to shiver and weep.) Take my advice, dear, if you ever leave your husband, never do it on a cold night.

MISS CAREY: (Sharply.) I’m not married.

ANGELA: (Weeping copiously and shivering.) Well, then, you needn’t bother, dear, about the weather, ’cause you never will be married.

MISS CAREY: No, I never will–catch me selling my freedom to any selfish brute of a man.

ANGELA: (As before.) See, I knew it. I said to myself, that little lady on the second floor who makes dresses with a long, thin nose–

MISS CAREY: (Outraged.) Makes dresses with a long, thin nose?

ANGELA: Yes–she’s the only one in the whole apartment house I can go to–she’s the only one won’t give Harry right.

MISS CAREY: No man is ever right.

ANGELA: I’m commencing to believe all men are brutes.

MISS CAREY: Of course they are. (Commencing to thaw.) Have a cup of tea. (She goes to table to prepare tea things.)

ANGELA: Thanks–I brought my own tea with me. (Takes a little paper bag of tea out of one of the slippers and crosses to MISS CAREY.) If I had struck him with the vase, I could understand his calling me “Vixen” (Beginning to weep again.)–but I only flung it at him, ’cause I cracked it by accident in the morning, and I didn’t want him to find it out. He was always calling me “butter-fingers." (Sits at opposite side of table.)

MISS CAREY: Oh, he was always calling you names.

ANGELA: No, that’s all he ever called me–"Butter-fingers.” (Cries again.)

MISS CAREY: (Pouring tea.) Oh, he’s the kind that just loves to stay home and nag.

ANGELA: I’d like to catch any husband I ever get, nag.

MISS CAREY: Oh, a pouter–I know that kind.

ANGELA: Oh, no. Why, every time I insulted him he kissed me–the brute. (After a second’s pause.) But–excuse me–how do you know so many kinds of men if you’ve never been married?

MISS CAREY: (Quickly.) Boarders–to make ends meet, I’ve always had to have a male boarder since I was left an orphan. (She rises–turns her back to audience–gives a touch to her pigtail, during the laugh to this line. This business always builds laugh.)

ANGELA: (Absent-mindedly.) Well, I’ve heard that male boarders are very nice.

MISS CAREY: I’ve never had a nice one yet, but I’ve named nearly all the style male brutes there are. What kind of a brute have you? (She sips tea.)

ANGELA: Why, I don’t know–I’ve often wondered–you might call Harry a “lollard.”

MISS CAREY: A lollard?

ANGELA: Yes, I invented the word, and believe me, a woman suffers with a lollard. (At this, MISS CAREY lets her spoon fall in cup.)

MISS CAREY: I should think she would. How did a sweet young thing like you ever meet such a type of a vertebrate?

ANGELA: At a military ball, and oh Mrs.–

MISS CAREY: Miss Carey.

ANGELA: Miss Carey–he was the handsomest specimen. His hair looked so spick–his shoulders were so big and broad–his teeth so white–and his skin, well, Miss Carey, if you’d seen him, I’ll bet you’d have just gone crazy to kiss him yourself. (MISS CAREY, who is drinking tea, nearly chokes on this–coughing on the tea which goes down the wrong way.)

MISS CAREY: (After the business.) How did he lose his looks?

ANGELA: By becoming a lollard. Listen! (They pull chairs in front of table together, teacups in hand.) It happened on the honeymoon– on the train–as we sat hand in hand, when all at once, the wind through the window, started to blow his hair the wrong way, and oh, Miss Carey, what do you think I discovered?

MISS CAREY: He had been branded on the head as a criminal.

ANGELA: Oh nothing so pleasant as that–but the hair that I thought grew so lovely and plentifully, had been coaxed by a wet brush from the back over the front, and from the east over to the west. (Indicates by imitating action on her own head.)

MISS CAREY: Oh, a lollard is a disappointment of the hair.

ANGELA: No, Miss Carey, no. Listen. I said, “Oh, Harry, your hair which I thought grew so evenly and plentifully all over your head really only grows in patches.” He only answered, “Yes, and now that we’re married, Angela, I don’t have to fool you by brushing it fancy anymore.” In despair, I moaned “Yes, Harry–fool me–go on love, fool me and brush it fancy.”

MISS CAREY; (Rising and crossing R.) That was your first mistake. No woman should ever call any man “love.”

ANGELA: Oh, I didn’t know what I said–I was so busy the whole journey pulling his hair from the back to the front and the east to the west (Same business of illustrating.)–and then, oh Miss Carey, what do you think was the next thing I discovered?

MISS CAREY: (In horror.) His teeth only grew in patches.

ANGELA: No, but I had fallen in love with a pair of tailor’s shoulder-pads–yes–when he took off his coat that night, he shrunk so, I screamed (Pause–as laugh comes here.)–thinking I was in a room with a strange man–but all he muttered was “Angie, I can loll about in easy things now, I’m married"–and that’s how gradually his refined feet began to look like canal-boats–his skin only looked kissable the days he shaved–twice a week–his teeth became tobacco stained–and to-night–to-night, Miss Carey, he stopped wearing hemstitched pajamas and took to wearing canton flannel night shirts. (In depth of woe after the big laugh this gets.) Miss Carey, have you ever seen a man in a canton flannel night shirt?

MISS CAREY: (After an expression of horror.) I told you I am not married.

ANGELA: (Innocently.) Oh, excuse me, I was thinking of your boarders. (MISS CAREY screams “what” and shows herself insulted beyond words.) Is it any wonder my love for him has grown cold? Men expect a woman to primp up for them–we must always look our best to hold their love–but once they wheedle us into signing our names to the marriage contract–they think (Suddenly, seeing dress again.)–Oh Miss Carey, what do you charge for a frock like that?

MISS CAREY: I have no night rates for gowns, Mrs.–

ANGELA: Just call me Angie–’cause I probably will live with you now. (Slips her arm through MISS CAREY’S, laying her head on the older woman’s shoulder.)

MISS CAREY: (Disengaging her.) We’ll talk that over in the morning– if you want, you may sleep upon that couch–I’ll put out the light. (She does so.) I’m going to bed–I must get a little rest. (She gives a sharp turn and goes to her room. Blue light floods stage. Through the half open curtain she is seen having trouble with her bed covers–getting them too high up, then too far down, etc. Big laughs on this business.)

ANGELA: (Taking down hair.) Miss Carey, you said you were an orphan–I’m an orphan, too. (There is no answer.) I can’t tell you how I appreciate your insisting on my staying–let me make your breakfast in the morning, Miss Carey. (No answer.) Harry might at least try to find me. Aren’t men brutes, Miss Carey?

MISS CAREY: (Loudly from within.) They certainly are.

ANGELA: (Lets peignoir slip off her shoulders, is in pretty silk pajamas.) In the morning, I must think how I can earn my own living. (She lies down as snores come from next room.) Miss Carey, are you asleep? (Snore.) Oh dear, she’s asleep before I am–she might have waited. (A key is heard in the door–Angela sits up in alarm–as key turns, she screams.) Oh Miss Carey, wake up–someone’s at the door–wake up. (Miss Carey jumps up and out of bed.)

MISS CAREY: Good Lord–what is it now? (Puts up light–the door opens, and immaculately dressed, handsome young man in evening clothes, white gloves, etc., enters–FRED SALTUS.)

ANGELA: Burglars! (She runs behind curtain of MISS CAREY’S room.)

MISS CAREY: You simpleton. I told you I had a male boarder. This is it, Mr. Saltus.

FRED: Oh, Miss Carey, pardon me–I’d have come in by the back door, but I didn’t know you were entertaining company.

MISS CAREY: I’m not entertaining anyone–I’m trying to get a little rest before it’s time for me to get up–and young lady, if you’ll come out of my room and let me in, I’ll beg of you not to disturb me again. (She shoves ANGELA out in her pajamas, unintentionally knocking her into MR. SALTUS, and goes back to bed.) (Ad. lib. talk.)

ANGELA: (Embarrassed and rushing behind the frock on the dressmaker’s figure.) I’ve made her awfully cross–but I thought it must be a burglar–’cause, you see, I never knew boarders were allowed out so late at night.

FRED: (Recognizing her.) What are you doing here?

ANGELA: (Forced to confess.) I’ve left my husband. (He gives a whistle of surprise.) You know he’s the man on the floor below–you may have seen me with him–once in a great while.

FRED: I’ve seen you often (Delighted.)–and so you’ve left him, eh?

ANGELA: Yes–and I’m really quite upset about it–naturally he’s the first husband I’ve ever left–and you can imagine how a woman feels if you’ve left your husband–that is your wife. (All in one breath.) Are you married?

FRED: No indeed–not a chance.

ANGELA: (Quickly fishes her opera cloak off couch–slips it over her and goes to couch.) Then come here and sit down. (He does so.) I should think the girls would all be crazy about you.

FRED: Oh–they are–are you boarding here too now?

ANGELA: Yes, but Miss Carey doesn’t know it yet.

FRED: Tell me, have you ever noticed me coming in or going out of the building?

ANGELA: Oh yes, indeed–I used to point you out to Harry and show him how you always looked so immaculate and dapper–just as he used to look before we were married. (Starting to weep.)

FRED: Oh, you’ll go back to your home to-morrow.

ANGELA: No–I’ll never enter it again–never again–except for lunch.

FRED: Then you’re planning a divorce?

ANGELA: (As it dawns on her–with a smile.) I suppose it would be well to get something like that.

FRED: Is he in love with another woman?

ANGELA: (Indignantly.) My Harry–I guess not. (His hand is stretched toward her–in anger she slaps it.)

FRED: Then you’ll never get it (Making love to her.) unless you fall in love with another man and let your husband get the divorce.

ANGELA: (Innocently.) I think I’d like that better–I’ll tell Miss Carey (She approaches curtain–a snore makes her change her mind.)–I’ll tell her later.

FRED: I’m awfully glad I’m a fellow boarder here. (He advances to her–as he is about to put his arm about her–suddenly a pounding on door and a gruff voice without:) Open–open!

ANGELA: (In terror.) Oh, it’s my husband–it’s Harry.

FRED: Don’t talk, or he’ll hear you.

ANGELA: I’ll hide–and you open, or he’ll break down the door.

FRED: I’ll have nothing to do with this mixup.

HARRY: (Loudly, without.) Open, or I’ll bang–down–the–door.

ANGELA: If you don’t open, he’ll do it–he’s a regular “door-banger.”

FRED: Well, I’ll not.

ANGELA: Then I’ll get Miss Carey. (Up to curtains again.) Miss Carey–Miss Carey–get up.

MISS CAREY: (Sticking her head out of curtains.) My Gawd, what is it now?

ANGELA: (After struggle as to how to explain.) My husband is here to see us.

MISS CAREY: Confound your husband.

HARRY: (Outside.) I want my wife.

ANGELA: (Pleading.) Oh, Miss Carey, the poor man wants his wife– tell him I’m not here.

MISS CAREY: (Jumping up–to FRED.) You go to your room, Mr. Saltus–I’ll bet you were afraid to open the door. (FRED goes to his room.) And you go into my bed–if he sees you, I’ll never get any sleep.

ANGELA: Don’t hurt my Harry’s feelings, Miss Carey–he’s awfully sensitive. (She goes behind curtains.)

MISS CAREY: No, I won’t hurt his feelings–(Opening door fiercely for HARRY.) What do you want?

HARRY: (Pushing her aside as he rushes in.) My wife–she’s in here.

MISS CAREY: (Following him down.) She’s not here–and you get out–what do you mean by waking me up at this hour?

HARRY: I’ve waked up everybody else in the building–why should you sleep?

MISS CAREY: I’ve never seen you before, but now that I have, I don’t wonder your wife left you.

HARRY: Madam, you look like a woman who could sympathize with a man.

MISS CAREY: With a man? Never–now get out.

HARRY: (Making a tour of the room–she following.) Not till I’ve searched your place–my wife must be here.

MISS CAREY: I don’t know your wife–and I don’t want to.

HARRY: Why, madam–I’m crazy about her–suppose I’m the only man in the world who would be, but she’s my doll.

MISS CAREY: Well, you’ve lost your doll–good night.

HARRY: Oh, I’ll get her back again–but a change has seemed to come over her of late, and to-night she broke out in a fury and hit me violently over the head with a Wedgewood vase.

ANGELA: (Rushing out–ready to slap him again.) Oh Harry, I did not–it never touched you.

MISS CAREY: (Throwing up her hands.) Now I’ll never get to sleep.

HARRY: (Turning on MISS CAREY.) Oh, I understand it all–it’s you who’ve come between us–you designing, deceitful homebreaker.

MISS CAREY: You leave my apartment–you impertinent man.

HARRY: Not without my wife.

ANGELA: Then you’ll stay forever–’cause I’m not going with you. (She sits right of little table.)

MISS CAREY: See here–you argue this out between you–but I’m going to bed–but don’t you argue above a whisper or I’ll ring for the police–the idea of you two galavanting about my apartments. (Going behind curtains.)

(A funny scene ensues between husband and wife–they start their argument in whispered pantomime–she shakes her finger at him–he shakes back at her–it finally grows slightly louder and louder until they are yelling at each other.)

ANGELA: (Screaming.) If you say the vase hit you–you’re a wicked–

HARRY: I don’t care anything about the vase–you’re coming downstairs with me. (He pulls her off chair and swings her R.)

ANGELA: (Falling on couch.) I’m not.

HARRY: (Grabbing her again.) You are.

ANGELA: I’m not. (He tries to pull her to door–she bites his finger, and breaking away, runs up to curtains again.) Miss Carey, Miss Carey, wake up, he bit me. (MISS CAREY dashes out in fury, ANGELA hangs to her.) Oh, Miss Carey, you’re the only one I have in all the world to keep me from this monster. Oh, Miss Carey, pity me, make believe you’re my mother.

MISS CAREY: I told you I’m not married.

ANGELA: Well, think how you’d feel if you were and I were your own little girl and a wicked man was ill-treating me, etc. (She finally touches the mother vein in MISS CAREY.)

MISS CAREY: (Affected.) Go into my room, dear. (She leads her up to bed behind curtains. After Angela disappears behind curtains, MISS CAREY turns–facing HARRY.) I’ll settle with this viper. (Coming down.) Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?

HARRY: Why should I’be ashamed?

MISS CAREY: (Resolutely.) Because you’re a lollard.

HARRY: I’m what?

MISS CAREY: You’re one of those vile creatures whose hair grows from east to west. (Dramatically.) Where are your refined feet now? )

HARRY: (Thinking she’s mad.) What on earth are you talking about?

MISS CAREY: The man she fell in love with and married was spick and span–his shoulders were big and broad–his teeth were white–and his skin–well, if he were standing before me now, I’d be just crazy to kiss him myself.

HARRY: I was all that you say when I married her–that’s how I won her.

MISS CAREY: And now you’re not all that I say–that’s how you lost her. You can’t blame a little woman if she thinks she’s getting a man of gold and she finds she’s got a gold brick.

HARRY: Why, I’m not different now than I was then–only before I was married I was like all men, I did everything to appear at my best– to fool her.

MISS CAREY: Fool her now–we women love to be fooled. We want to be proud of our husbands. Most of us get gold bricks, but we don’t want anyone else to know it.

HARRY: By George, there may be something in all this. How did you come to know it?

MISS CAREY: I’m an old maid, and old maids know more about men than anyone–that’s why they stay old maids. What were you wearing the first time you met?

HARRY: (Reminiscently.) A suit of regimentals.

MISS CAREY: (Hurrying up to door.) Quick, go downstairs and put ’em on and come up as quick as you can.

HARRY: (Looks at himself in glass near door.) By George–you’re right. Oh, Miss Carey, I am a lollard. (He runs off.)

MISS CAREY: You’re a lollard, all right. Now young woman–get your things together and get ready to go–young woman, do you hear me? (She goes up to curtains, and opens them–there lies ANGELA cozily huddled in a heap, fast asleep.) Well, if the little fluff hasn’t fallen asleep. Here–wake up–the idea.

ANGELA: (In her sleep.) Harry, be gentle with Miss Carey–she can’t help it. (MISS CAREY shakes her so she jumps up.) Oh Miss Carey– hello.

MISS CAREY: Now get your things together–your husband is coming for you in a minute.

ANGELA: (A la Ibsen.) I shall never return to Harry again– I’ve left him for life.

MISS CAREY: You’ll not stay here all that time.

ANGELA: (As she comes down, dreamily.) No, I intend to marry another–and oh, Miss Carey, his hair is so spick–his shoulders so broad–his teeth are so white.

MISS CAREY: Good Lord, woman, now you’re commencing with another. Who is it?

ANGELA: Surely you must have foreseen my danger–I’m in love with your boarder.

MISS CAREY: Why, you must be crazy–girl–I won’t let you enter into such a madness.

ANGELA: (In horror.) Oh Miss Carey, don’t tell me you’re in love with him yourself. (MISS CAREY sinks in chair.) But you’ll not get him.

MISS CAREY: Why, my dear, I wouldn’t have him for a birth-day present and neither will you. (After an ad lib. argument.) We’ll see. (She calls off in next room.) Fire! Fire!! Fire!!!

(ANGELA gets scared and starts to run one way as FRED runs in–in canton flannels without toupee, etc., etc. ANGELA flops. After audience has seen FRED’S condition, he realizes presence of ladies and rushes back to door–sticking his head out.)

FRED: Where? Where’s the fire?

MISS CAREY: Go back to your bed, Mr. Saltus. (With a look at ANGELA.) There was a fire.

ANGELA: (Disgusted.) But Miss Carey–has–put–it–out.

(On word “out” she gestures him out of room and out of her life. FRED closes door as he withdraws head.)

ANGELA: Oh Miss Carey, what an awful lollard that is. (There is a ring at bell.)

(Music commences sweet melody.)

MISS CAREY: (Knowing it is HARRY.) Open the door and see who it is.

(ANGELA opens the door–HARRY stands there in regimentals–handsome, young and dapper. ANGELA falls back in admiration.)

HARRY: Angela.

ANGELA: Oh, Harry darling!

MISS CAREY: He does look good!

ANGELA: (As she picks up her belongings.) I’m going home with you.

MISS CAREY: (As ANGELA goes up to HARRY.) Don’t forget your tea dress. (Hands her the little bag.)

ANGELA: I’m so tired, Harry–take me home. (He lifts his tired little wife up in his arms and as he goes out, she mutters:) You’re not such a bad lollard after all.

MISS CAREY: (Going to put out light.) Now, thank Gawd, I’ll get a little sleep.



Author of “Van Bibber Stories,” “Soldiers of Fortune," The Playlets, “The Littlest Girl,” played by Robert Hilliard for ten years, “Miss Civilization,” etc., and many full-evening plays.



RICHARD FALLON, a millionaire mine owner. "LOU” MOHUN, a crook. KELLY, a Pinkerton detective. MRS. HOWARD:


The scene shows the interior of the sitting room of a suite in a New York hotel of the class of the Hotel Astor or Claridge. In the back wall a door opens into what is the bedroom of the suite. The hinges of this door are on the right, the door knob on the left. On the wall on either side of the door is hung a framed copy of a picture by Gibson or Christy. In the left wall, half way down, is a door leading to the hall. Higher up against the wall is a writing desk on which are writing materials and a hand telephone. Above this pinned to the wall is a blue-print map. In front of the desk is a gilt chair without arms. Above and to the right of the gilt chair is a Morris chair facing the audience. In the seat of the chair is a valise; over the back hangs a man’s coat.

In the right wall are two windows with practical blinds. Below them against the wall, stretches a leather sofa. On it is a suitcase, beside it on the floor a pair of men’s boots. Below the sofa and slightly to the left stands a table, sufficiently heavy to bear the weight of a man leaning against it. On this table are magazines, a man’s sombrero, a box of safety matches, a pitcher of ice water and a glass, and hanging over the edge of the table, in view of the audience, are two blue prints held down by pieces of ore. The light that comes through the two windows is of a sunny day in August.


RICHARD FALLON is discovered at table arranging the specimens of ore upon the blue prints. He is a young man of thirty-five, his face is deeply tanned, his manner is rough and breezy. He is without a coat, and his trousers are held up by a belt. He is smoking a cigar.

FALLON crosses to Morris chair, opens valise, turns over papers, clothing, fails to find that for which he is looking and closes the valise. He recrosses to suit case which is at lower end of the sofa. He breaks it open and searches through more papers, shirts, coats. Takes out another blue print, tightly rolled. Unrolls it, studies it, and apparently satisfied, with his left hand, places it on table.

In attempting to close the suit case the half nearer the audience slips over the foot of the sofa, and there falls from it to the floor, a heavy “bull dog” revolver. FALLON stares at it, puzzled, as though trying to recall when he placed it in his suit case. Picks it up. Looks at it. Throws it carelessly into suit case and shuts it. His manner shows he attaches no importance to the revolver. He now surveys the blue prints and the specimens of ore, as might a hostess, who is expecting guests, survey her dinner table. He crosses to hand telephone.

FALLON: (To ’phone.) Give me the room clerk, please. Hello? This is Mr. Fallon. I’m expecting two gentlemen at five o’clock. Send them right up. And, not now, but when they come, send me up a box of your best cigars and some rye and seltzer. Thank you. (Starts to leave telephone, but is recalled.) What? A lady? I don’t know any. I don’t know a soul in New York! What’s her name? What–Mrs. Tom Howard? For heaven’s sake! Tell her I’ll be there in one second! What? Why certainly! Tell her to come right up. (He rises, muttering joyfully.) Well, well, well!

(Takes his coat from chair and puts it on. Lifts valise from chair and places it behind writing desk. Kicks boots under sofa. Places cigar on edge of table in view of audience. Looks about for mirror and finding none, brushes his hair with his hands, and arranges his tie. Goes to door L. and opens it, expectantly.)

MRS. HOWARD enters. She is a young woman of thirty. Her face is sweet, sad, innocent. She is dressed in white–well, but simply. Nothing about her suggests anything of the fast, or adventuress type.

Well, Helen! This is fine! God bless you, this is the best thing that’s come my way since I left Alaska. And I never saw you looking better.

MRS. HOWARD: (Taking his hand.) And, it’s good to see you, Dick. (She staggers and sways slightly as though about to faint.) Can I sit down? (She moves to Morris chair and sits back in it.)

FALLON: (In alarm.) What is it? Are you ill?

MRS. HOWARD: No, I’m–I’m so glad to find you–I was afraid! I was afraid I wouldn’t find you, and I had to see you. (Leaning forward, in great distress.) I’m in trouble, Dick–terrible trouble.

FALLON: (Joyfully.) And you’ve come to me to help you?


FALLON: That’s fine! That’s bully. I thought, maybe, you’d just come to talk over old times. (Eagerly.) And that would have been fine, too, understand–but if you’ve come to me because you’re in trouble, then I know you’re still my good friend, my dear old pal. (Briskly.) Now, listen, you say you’re in trouble. Well, you knew me when I was down and out in San Francisco, living on free lunches and chop suey. Now, look at me, Helen, I’m a bloated capitalist. I’m a millionaire.

MRS. HOWARD: (Nervously.) I know, Dick, and I’m so glad! That’s how I knew you were here, I read about you this morning in the papers.

FALLON: And half they said is true, too. See those blue prints? Each one of them means a gold mine, and at five, I’m to unload them on some of the biggest swells in Wall Street. (Gently.) Now, all that that means is this: I don’t know what your trouble is, but, if money can cure it, you haven’t got any trouble.

MRS. HOWARD: Dick, you’re just as generous and kind. You haven’t changed in any way.

FALLON: I haven’t changed toward you. How’s that husband of yours? (Jokingly.) I’d ought to shot that fellow.

MRS. HOWARD: (In distress.) That’s why I came, Dick. Oh, Dick–

FALLON: (Anxiously, incredulously.) Don’t tell me there’s any trouble between you and Tom? Why, old Tom he just worships you. He loves you like–

MRS. HOWARD: That’s it. And I want to keep his love.

FALLON: (Laughingly.) Keep his love? Is that all you’ve got to worry about? (Throughout the following scene, Mrs. Howard speaks in a fateful voice, like a woman beaten and hopeless.)

MRS. HOWARD: Dick, did you ever guess why I didn’t marry you?

FALLON: No, I knew. You didn’t marry me because you didn’t love me, and you did love Tom.

MRS. HOWARD: No, I didn’t know Tom then. And I thought I loved you, until I met Tom. But I didn’t marry you, because it wouldn’t have been honest–because, three years before I met you, I had lived with a man–as his wife.

FALLON: Helen! (His tone is one of amazement, but not of reproach. In his astonishment, he picks the cigar from the table, puffs at it standing and partly seated on the table.)

MRS. HOWARD: (In the same dead level, hopeless voice.) I was seventeen years old. I was a waiter girl at one of Fred Harvey’s restaurants on the Santa Fe. I was married to this man before a magistrate. (Fallon lifts his head.) Three months later, when he’d grown tired of me, he told me the magistrate who had married us was not a magistrate but a friend of his, a man named Louis Mohun, and he brought this man to live with us. I should have left him then, that was where I did wrong. That was all I did that was wrong. But, I couldn’t leave him, I couldn’t, because I was going to be a mother–and in spite of what he had done–I begged him to marry me.

FALLON: And–he wouldn’t?

MRS. HOWARD: Maybe he would–but–he was killed.

FALLON: (Eagerly.) You?

MRS. HOWARD. (In horror.) God, no!

FALLON: It’s a pity. That’s what you should have done.

MRS. HOWARD: He was a gambler, one night he cheated–the man he cheated, shot him. Then–my baby–died! After two years I came to San Francisco and met you and Tom. Then you went to Klondike and I married Tom.

FALLON: And, you told Tom?

MRS. HOWARD: (Lowering her face.)

FALLON: Helen!

MRS. HOWARP: I know, but I was afraid. I loved him so, and I was afraid.

FALLON: But Tom would have understood. Why, you thought you were married.

MRS. HOWARD: I was afraid. I loved him too much. I was too happy, and I was afraid I’d lose him. (FALLON shakes his head.) But, we were leaving San Francisco forever–to live in the East–where I thought no one knew me.


MRS. HOWARD: Well, one man knew me. Mohun, the man who played the magistrate. He came East, too. Three years ago he saw me one night with Tom in a theatre. He followed us and found out where I lived. The next morning he came to see me, and threatened to tell! And, I was terrified, I lost my head and gave him money. (Slowly.) And I have been giving him money ever since.

FALLON: Helen! You! Fall for blackmail? Why, that isn’t you. You’re no coward! You should have told the swine to go to Hell, and as soon as Tom came home, you should have told him the whole story.

MRS. HOWARD: (Fiercely.) My story, yes! But not a story Mohun threatens to tell! In a week he had it all backed up with letters, telegrams, God knows what he didn’t make me out to be–a vile, degraded creature.

FALLON: And who’d have believed it?

MRS. HOWARD: Everybody! He proved it! And my children. He threatened to stop my children on the way to school and explain to them what kind of a woman their mother was. So, I paid and paid and paid. I robbed Tom, I robbed the children. I cheated them of food, and clothes, I’ve seen Tom look almost ashamed of us. And when I’d taken all I’d dared from Tom, I pretended I wanted to be more independent, and I learned typewriting, and needlework and decorating, and I worked at night, and when Tom was at the office–to earn money–to give to Mohun. And each time he said it was the last, and each time he came back demanding more. God knows what he does with it, he throws it away–on drink, on women, opium.

FALLON: Dope fiend, too, hey?

MRS. HOWARD: He’s that, too; he’s everything that’s vile; inhuman, pitiless, degenerate. Sometimes, I wonder why God lets him live. (Her voice drops to a whisper.) Sometimes, I almost pray to God to let him die. (FALLON who already has determined to kill MOHUN, receives this speech with indifference, and continues grimly to puff on his cigar.) He’s killed my happiness, he’s killing me. In keeping him alive, I’ve grown ill and old. I see the children growing away from me, I see Tom drawing away from me. And now, after all my struggles, after all my torture, Tom must be told. Mohun is in some new trouble. He must have a thousand dollars! I can no more give him a thousand dollars than I can give him New York City. But, if I don’t, he’ll tell! What am I to do?

FALLON: (Unmoved.) When did you see this–this thing last?

MRS. HOWARD: This morning. He’d read about you in the papers. He knows I knew you in San Francisco. He said you’d “struck it rich,” and that you’d give me the money. (Rises, and comes to him.) But, get this straight, Dick. I didn’t come here for money. I don’t want money. I won’t take money. I came to you because you are my best friend, and Tom’s best friend, and because I need a man’s brain, a man’s advice.

FALLON: (Contemptuously.) Advice! Hell! Am I the sort of man that gives girls–advice? (With rough tenderness.) Now, you go home to Tom, and tell him I’m coming to dinner. (Impressively.) And leave this leech to me. And, don’t worry. This thing never happened, it’s just a bad dream, a nightmare. Just throw it from your shoulders like a miner drops his pack. It’s never coming back into your life again.

MRS. HOWARD: (Earnestly.) No! I won’t let you pay that man! He’d hound you, as he’s hounded me!

FALLON: (Indignantly.) Pay him? Me? I haven’t got enough money to pay him!


FALLON: No man on earth has money enough to pay blackmail. Helen, this is what I think of a blackmailer: The lowest thing that crawls, is a man that sends a woman into the streets to earn money for him. Here, in New York, you call them “cadets.” Now, there’s only one thing on earth lower than a cadet, and that’s the blackmailer, the man who gets money from a woman–by threatening her good name–who uses her past as a club–who drags out some unhappy act of hers for which she’s repented, in tears, on her knees, which the world has forgotten, which God has forgiven. And, for that past sin, that’s forgotten and forgiven, this blackguard crucifies her. And the woman–to protect her husband and her children, as you have done–to protect her own good name, that she’s worked for and won, starves herself to feed that leech. And, you ask me, if I’m going to feed him, too! Not me! Helen, down in lower California, there are black bats, the Mexican calls "Vampire” bats. They come at night and fasten on the sides of the horses and drink their blood. And, in the morning when you come to saddle up, you’ll find the horses too weak to walk, and hanging to their flanks these vampires, swollen and bloated and drunk with blood. Now, I’ve just as much sympathy for Mr. Mohun, as I have for those vampires, and, I’m going to treat him just as I treat them! Where is he?

MRS. HOWARD: Downstairs. In the cafe.

FALLON: Here, in this hotel?


FALLON: (Half to himself.) Good!

MRS. HOWARD: He said he’d wait until I telephoned him that you would pay. If you won’t, he’s going straight to Tom.

FALLON: He is, is he? Helen, I hate to have you speak to him again, but, unless he hears your voice, he won’t come upstairs. (Motions towards telephone.) Tell him I’ll see him in ten minutes. Tell him I’ve agreed to make it all right.

MRS. HOWARD: But, how, Dick, how?

FALLON: Don’t you worry about that. I’m going to send him away. Out of the country. He won’t trouble you any more.

MRS. HOWARD: But he won’t go. He’s promised me to go many times–

FALLON: Yes, but he’s not dealing with a woman, now, he’s dealing with a man, with boots on. Do as I tell you.

(MRS. HOWARD sits at writing desk and takes receiver off telephone. FALLON leans against table right, puffing quickly on his cigar, and glancing impatiently at the valise that holds his revolver.)

MRS. HOWARD: Give me the cafe, please. Is this the cafe? I want to speak to a Mr. Mohun, he is waiting to be called up–oh, thank you. (To FALLON.) He’s coming. (To ’phone.) I have seen that man and he says he’ll take up that debt, and pay it. Yes, now, at once. You’re to wait for ten minutes, until he can get the money, and then, he’ll telephone you to come up. I don’t know, I’ll ask. (To Fallon.) He says it must be in cash.

FALLON: (Sarcastically.) Why, certainly! That’ll be all right. (MRS. HOWARD Places her hand over the mouth piece.)

MRS. HOWARD: I’ll not let you pay him!

FALLON: I’m not going to! I’m going to give him just what’s coming to him. Tell him, it’ll be all right.

MRS. HOWARD: (To ’phone.) He says to tell you, it’ll be all right. The room is 210 on the third floor. In ten minutes, yes. (She rises.)

FALLON: Now, then, you go back to Tom and get dinner ready. Don’t forget I’m coming to dinner. And the children must come to dinner, too. We’ll have a happy, good old-time reunion.

MRS. HOWARD: (With hand on door knob of door left.) Dick, how can I thank you?

FALLON: Don’t let me catch you trying.

MRS. HOWARD: God bless you, Dick. (With a sudden hope.) And you really believe you can make him go?

FALLON: Don’t worry! I’m sure of it.

MRS. HOWARD: And, you think he won’t come back?

FALLON: (After a pause, gravely.) I know he won’t come back.

MRS. HOWARD: God bless you, Dick!

FALLON: See you at dinner.

(MRS. HOWARD exits. FALLON stands considering, and chewing on his cigar. Then, he crosses room briskly and lowers the blind at each window. Opens valise and examines revolver. Places the revolver in his left hip pocket. Then, in a matter-of-course manner from his right hand pocket, he draws his automatic pistol. This, as though assured he would find loaded, he examines in a quick, perfunctory way, and replaces. He crosses left to desk, and taking from it a cheque book, writes out a cheque, which he tears from the book, and holds in his right hand. With left hand he removes the receiver from the telephone.)

Give me Murray Hill 2828. Hello, is this the Corn and Grain Bank? I want to speak to the cashier. Hello, is that the cashier? This is Richard Fallon, of San Francisco, speaking from the Hotel Wisteria. I opened an account with you day before yesterday, for two hundred thousand dollars. Yes, this is Mr. Fallon speaking. I made out a cheque yesterday payable to Louis Mohun (Glances at cheque.), dated August 4th, for two thousand dollars. I want to know if he’s cashed it in yet? He hasn’t, hey? Good! (He continues to look at cheque, to impress upon audience, that the cheque they have just seen him write, is the one which he is speaking about.) Well, I want to stop payment on that cheque. Yes, yes. I made it out under pressure, and I’ve decided not to stand for it. Yes, sort of a hold up! I guess that’s why he was afraid to cash it. You’ll attend to that, will you? Thank you. Good-bye. (He takes an envelope from desk, places cheque in it and puts envelope in his breast pocket. Again takes off receiver.) Hello, give me the cashier, please. Am I speaking to the cashier of the hotel? This is Mr. Fallon in room 210. Is your hotel detective in the lobby? He is? Good! What–what sort of a man is he, is he a man I can rely on? A Pinkerton, hey? That’s good enough! Well, I wish you’d give him a thousand dollars for me in hundreds. Ten hundred-dollar bills, and before you send them up, I wish you’d mark them and take their numbers. What? No, there’s no trouble. I just want to see that the right bills go to the right people, that’s all. Thank you.

(He crosses to door centre, and taking key from the bedroom side, places it in keyhole on side of door in view of the audience. He turns the key several times. He takes the revolver from his left hip pocket and holding it in his right hand, rehearses shooting under his left arm through his coat which he holds from him by the fingers of his left hand. Shifting revolver to his left hand, he takes the automatic from his right hip pocket, and goes through the motions of firing with both guns in opposite directions. His pantomine must show he intends making use of both guns at the same time, using one apparently upon himself, and the other, in earnest, upon another person. He replaces the revolvers in his pockets. There is a knock at the door.)

Come in.

(KELLY enters. In his hand he carries an envelope. He is an elderly man with grey hair, neatly dressed and carrying a straw hat. He has an air of authority. His manner to FALLON is respectful.)

KELLY: Afternoon, Mr. Fallon. I am Kelly, the house detective.

FALLON: Yes, I know. I’ve seen you in the lobby.

KELLY: Mr. Parmelee said I was to give you this. (Gives envelope to FALLON. FALLON takes out ten yellow-back bills.) There ought to be a thousand dollars there in hundreds.

FALLON: That’s right. Now, will you just sit over there, and as I read the numbers, you write them down.

KELLY: Mr. Parmelee made a note of the numbers, Mr. Fallon.

FALLON: I know. I want you to identify them too.

KELLY: I can do that. I saw him mark them.

FALLON: Good. And if you saw these bills in the next five minutes you’d be able to swear they’re the same bills you gave me?

KELLY: Sure. (Starts towards door.)

FALLON: Wait a minute. Sit down, Kelly. (KELLY seats himself in Morris chair, holding his hat between his knees.) Kelly, this hotel engages you from the Pinkertons to stay around the place, and–protect the guests?

KELLY: Yes, sir.

FALLON: Well, there’s a man downstairs thinks he has a claim on this money. Now, I’d like you to wait in that bedroom and listen to what he says with a view to putting him in jail.

KELLY: Blackmail, Mr. Fallon?

FALLON: Yes, blackmail.

KELLY: (Eagerly.) And you’re not going to stand for it?

FALLON: I am not!

KELLY: (Earnestly.) Good! That’s the only way to treat those dogs. Never give up, never give up!

FALLON: No, but yesterday, I had to give up. He put a gun at my head.

KELLY: (Excitedly.) Where? Not in this hotel?

FALLON: Yes, in this room. I gave him a cheque for two thousand dollars. That made him think I was easy, and he telephoned this morning that he’s coming back for another thousand, and he wants it in cash. That’s why I marked those bills.

KELLY: Why, we got him now! He’s as good as dead.

FALLON: (Startled.) What?

KELLY: I say, we’ve got him nailed now.

FALLON: Oh, yes. (Pause.) He hasn’t turned in the cheque yet–I’ve just called up the bank to find out. I guess he means to hold that over my head, hey?

KELLY: More likely he’s afraid of it. (Eagerly.) We may get that back, too. We may find it on him.

FALLON: What? Yes, as you say, we may find it on him.

KELLY: (Eagerly.) And as soon as he gets those bills in his clothes, you give me the high sign (Fiercely.)–and we’ll nail him!

FALLON: Yes, we’ll nail him. And, if he puts his gun in my face today, he won’t catch me empty-handed the second time. (Draws automatic from his pocket.) I’m ready for him, today!

KELLY: (Greatly concerned.) Here, none of that stuff, Mr. Fallon. A gentleman like you can’t take that chance.

FALLON: Chance? Kelly, I haven’t always lived in a swell hotel. The man that gets the drop on mewhen I’ve got a gun–has got to be damned quick.

KELLY: That’s just what I mean! I’m not thinking of him, I’m thinking of you. Give me that gun.

FALLON: Certainly not.

KELLY: You don’t want to go to jail for a rat like that.

FALLON: I don’t mean to go to jail, and, I don’t mean to die, either. For the last six years I’ve been living on melted ice and bacon. Now, I’m worth seven million dollars. I’m thirty-five years old and my life is in front of me. And, I don’t mean to waste one hour of it in a jail, and I don’t mean to let any blackmailer take it away from me.

KELLY: You don’t want no judge to take it away from you, either! You’re not in the Klondike.

FALLON: I guess, I’ve got a right to defend myself, anywhere.

KELLY: Yes, but you’ll get excited and–

FALLON: (Quietly.) I? Excited? I never get excited. The last time I was excited was when I was seven years old, and the circus came to town.

KELLY: Don’t mix up in this. What am I here for?

FALLON: You won’t be here. How can you help me in that room, when a fellow’s pumping lead into my stomach in this one?

KELLY: He won’t pump no lead.

FALLON: (Carelessly.) I hope not. But, if he does, he’s got to do it awful quick. (Motions towards centre door.) Now, you go in there and shut the door, and I’ll talk out here. And you tell me if you can hear what I say? (KELLY goes into bedroom and closes door. FALLON walks to door R. with his back turned towards KELLY.) Have you got the door shut tight?

KELLY: (From bedroom.) Yes.

FALLON: (Speaks in a loud tone, to an imaginary person.) No, not another penny. If I pay you, will you promise not to take the story to the newspapers? I give you this thousand dollars–(Turns towards centre door. KELLY opens door.) Could you hear me?

KELLY: Yes, I could hear you, but he won’t talk that loud. You put him in that chair (Points to Morris chair.)–so that he’ll sit facing me, and you stand over there (Points at safe.)–so then he’ll have to speak up.

FALLON: I see. Are you all ready?

KELLY: Yes. (KELLY closes door. FALLON goes to desk. Lifts both guns from his pocket an inch or two, and then takes receiver from telephone. To ’phone.) Give me the cafe, please. Is this the cafe? There’s a Mr. Mohun down there waiting to hear from Mr. Fallon–yes. All right. Tell him to come up. (KELLY opens door.)

KELLY: Hist. Listen, this guy knows what he’s up against; he knows it might land him in Sing Sing and he’ll be leery of this door being shut. So, if he insists on looking in here, you speak up loud, and say, “That’s my bedroom. It’s empty.” Say it quick enough to give me time to get out into the hall.

FALLON: I see.

KELLY: Then, when he’s had his look around, you slam the door shut again, and I’ll come back into the bedroom. Have you got it?

FALLON: I understand. (In loud voice.) That’s my bedroom. It’s empty.

KELLY: That’s the office for me to sneak into the hall. (In bedroom, he disappears right.)

FALLON: (At open door, rehearsing.) You see, the room is empty. (Closes the door with a bang. Pause, then he calls.) Are you there now, Kelly?

KELLY: Yes, I’m here.

(FALLON stands looking at the key in the door. For an instant his hand falters over it as though he would risk turning it. Then, he shakes his head, and walks to table right. There is a low knock at door left.)

FALLON: Come in.

(MOHUN enters door left. He is lean, keen faced, watchful. He is a head taller than FALLON. His manner always has an undercurrent of insolence.)

MOHUN: Afternoon. Am I speaking to Mr. Fallon?

FALLON: Yes. Lou Mohun?

MOHUN: Yes. (MOHUN stands warily at the door. Glances cautiously around the room. Bends over quite openly to look under the sofa. For some seconds his eyes rest with a smile on bedroom door. He speaks slowly, unemotionally.) A mutual friend of ours said you wanted to see me.

FALLON: (Sharply.) We’ve no mutual friend. No one’s in this but you and me. You want to get that straight!

MOHUN: (Easily.) All right. That’s all right. Well, what do you want to see me about?

(FALLON speaks in a loud voice. In the speeches that follow, it must be apparent that his loud tone and excited manner is assumed, and is intended only to convince KELLY.)

FALLON: I understand, you think you have a claim on me for a thousand dollars. And, I’m going to give it to you. But, first, I want a plain talk with you. (Sharply.) Are you listening to me?

MOHUN: No, not yet. Before there’s any plain talking, I want to know where that door leads to.

FALLON: What door? That? (In a louder voice.) That’s my bedroom. It’s empty. Is that what you want? Think I got someone in there? Do you want to look for yourself? (Opens door.) Go on in, and look. (MOHUN takes a step forward, and peers past FALLON into bedroom.) Go on, search it. Look under the bed.

MOHUN: I guess that’s all right.

FALLON: Don’t you want to look?

MOHUN: (Falling back to door left.) Not now. No need to, if you’re willing to let me. (Impatiently.) Go on. What is it you want with me? (FALLON closes door with a slam. Comes down to table.)

FALLON: What do I want? I want you to understand that this is the last time you come to me for money.

MOHUN: (Indifferently.) That’s all right.

FALLON: No, its not all right. (Takes out bills.) Before I give you this, you’ve got to promise me to keep silent. I’ll stand for no more blackmail.

MOHUN: Don’t talk so loud. I’m not deaf. Look here, Mr. Fallon, I didn’t come here to be shouted at, I came here to get the money you promised me.

FALLON: Well, here it is. (Gives him bills. MOHUN sticks them in his right-hand vest pocket.) No, you listen to me. (As soon as he obtains the money, MOHUN’S manner changes. He is amused, and insolent.)

MOHUN: No, not a bit like it. Now that I’ve got this, you’ll have to listen to me. (Moves deliberately to Morris chair and seats himself) Mr. Fallon, I don’t like your tone.

FALLON: (Slowly.) You–don’t–like my tone? I don’t think I understand you.

MOHUN: You talk like you had a whip over me. You don’t seem to see that I got you dead to rights.

FALLON: (In pretended alarm.) Have you?

MOHUN: Have I? I got a mortgage on you for life. You got in wrong when you gave me that money. Don’t you see that? Mr. Fallon, I’ve been taking out information about you. Some ’Frisco lads tell me you used to be pretty sweet on a certain party, but she chucked you and married the other fellow. But the first day you come back a millionaire she visits your rooms–and you give her a thousand dollars! Why? She can’t tell. You can’t tell. But I can tell. I can tell her husband. He’s only got to ask the hotel clerk and the cashier and the bell hops, and when I’ve told my story as I’ll tell it–he’s liable to shoot you. (There is a pause during which FALLON stares at MOHUN incredulously.) Let it sink in, Mr. Fallon.

FALLON: (Quietly.) I am–letting it sink in.

MOHUN: Now, a thousand dollars is all well enough from a lady that has to scrape to find it, but a thousand dollars from a millionaire like you is a joke. And unless you want me to go to the husband, you’ll come across with fifty thousand dollars, and until I get it, I’m not going to leave this room.

FALLON: (Solemnly.) Then, I don’t believe you are going to leave this room.

MOHUN: (Impudently.) Oh, I’ll go when I’m ready.

FALLON: (Going up close to centre door.) Let me understand you. You are going to this husband with a lie that will wreck his faith in his wife, that will wreck his faith in his best friend, unless I give you a thousand dollars?

MOHUN: No! Fifty thousand dollars!

FALLON: Fifty thousand. It’s the same thing. But, you’d keep quiet for ten dollars, wouldn’t you, if that was all I had?

MOHUN: (Grinning at him.) If that was all you had.

FALLON: (In a whisper, slowly, impressively.) Then, Mr. Mohun (He raises his right arm.), may–God–have mercy–on your soul. (In loud, excited tones and purposely, so that MOHUN can see him, he turns his face towards the centre door.) I won’t pay that fifty thousand. I won’t stand for blackmail, you’re robbing–(MOHUN leaps to his feet, and points at centre door.)

MOHUN: (Fiercely.) Here. What are you doing? You’re trying to trap me? There is someone in that room. (FALLON laughs mockingly at MOHUN, but speaks for KELLY to hear.)

FALLON: Don’t go near that room. (With his left hand he quickly turns the key in the door.) Don’t lock that door! Don’t lock that door! Kelly, he’s locked the door. (He draws the revolver from his left pocket. KELLY is heard shaking the handle of the door, and beating upon the panel. FALLON speaks in a whisper.) I told you, you’d never leave this room, Mr. Mohun. (In a loud, excited tone.) Drop that gun. Drop that gun. Don’t point that gun at me! (Still smiling mockingly at MOHUN, FALLON shoots twice through his own coat on the left side, throws the gun at MOHUN’S feet, and drawing his automatic pistol, shoves it against MOHUN’S stomach and fires. MOHUN falls back into the Morris chair dead.) (Shouts loudly.) Break in the door. Break in the door. (From his pocket he takes the envelope containing the cheque, and sticks it into the inside pocket of MOHUN’S coat. Then turns to table, right, as KELLY bursts open the door and sees MOHUN.)

KELLY: My God, Mr. Fallon. I told you to give me that gun!

FALLON: Have I hurt him?

KELLY: (Bending over body.) Hurt him? You’ve killed him! (FALLON with his face turned from KELLY, smiles. He speaks with pretended emotion.) Killed him? Here, you’re an officer. (Throws gun on table.) I give myself up. (KELLY runs to hand telephone. FALLON picks up his cigar from the table and a box of matches. Starts to light cigar, but seeing KELLY at ’phone hesitates and listens eagerly.)

KELLY: (To ’phone.) Send the hotel doctor here. Quick! Mr. Fallon’s wounded. (To FALLON.) Are you badly hurt? (FALLON places his left hand on his left hip under the coat and removes it showing the fingers covered with blood.)

FALLON: Only scratched.

KELLY: (To ’phone.) Some crank tried to shoot him up. Mr. Fallon fired back and killed him. (Pause.) No! Mr. Fallon killed him! (Pause.) Of course, in self-defense, you fool, of course, in self-defense! (KELLY slams back the receiver, and rising quickly, turns to the right and stands with hands on his hips, and back to audience, gazing down at MOHUN. He does not once look at FALLON.)

FALLON: (On hearing the words “in self-defense” sighs, smiles and striking the match, lights the cigar as



Author, producer and star of “The Star Bout,” “The Futurity Winner,” “The Yellow Streak,” Etc., Etc.


JUNIE MCCREE AND EDWARD CLARK Author of “The Marital Author of “The Winning Coach,” “Neighbors,” “Coon Widows,” “When We Grow Town Divorcons,” Etc., Etc. Up,” Etc., Etc.



BILLY BRADLEY . . . . . . Alias “The Eel." DAN MCCARTHY . . . . . . Inspector of Police. TIM DUGAN . . . . . . . . Lieutenant of Police. JAMES O’MARA. . . . . . . Desk Lieutenant. OFFICER FLYNN . . . . . . Patrolman. BOBBY PERKINS . . . . . . A Police Reporter. HAROLD BROOKTHORNE . . . A Cub Reporter. MR. INBAD . . . . . . . . A Souse. JIM, TOM . . . . . . . . Central Office Men. MRS. DEMMING WORTHINGTON. A Noted Horsewoman. JANITRESS . . . . . . . . At 327 East Broadway. GOLDIE MARSHALL . . . . . The Eel’s “Gal.”

Policemen, Citizens, Morbid Crowds, Etc.



Door C. Door L. 2nd E. leading below to cells. Windows in flat R. and L. showing two green lights in front of Station. Street backing, showing the other side of Street. Bench at L. window, chair at R. window. Small platform R. 2, with desk, railing, etc. Chairs on Platform.

AT RISE: (O’Mara at desk speaking through telephone. PERKINS in chair R., writing. FLYNN searching INBAD, who is intoxicated.)

O’MARA: (Speaking through ’phone.) All right! Good-bye! (Puts ’phone down.) Take him down, that fellow is a champion souse.

INBAD: (As FLYNN is jerking him off L.) Thatsh what I am, and I’ll defend my title against all comers. (Exit INBAD followed by FLYNN.)

PERKINS: (Coming R. to O’MARA.) That Worthington robbery will make a corking story, if it’s true. (Starts for door C.)

O’MARA: Well, why don’t you wait till the pinch comes off and then get the story for sure?

PERKINS: Your word’s good enough.

O’MARA: But I haven’t given you me word. I don’t know whether they’ve nailed him yet or not.

PERKINS: (Coming back to desk railing R.) (Disappointed.) Oh, I thought you said they’d got him.

O’MARA: That’s the way you reporters twist everything. I said "Dugan was after him,” that’s all.

PERKINS: Well, that’s as good as got him; anything Dugan sets out to get, comes pretty near materializing. (Starts C., stops on meeting BROOKY, who enters door C.) Hello! Brooky! Just in time. Here’s a chance for you to distinguish yourself in your new capacity.

BROOKY: (Coming C.) Got a story?

PERKINS: A pippin! Listen to this. (Reads from notes.) “Police fishing. Make a big haul! Throw out the dragnet and once more capture the Eel.” A very slippery article.

BROOKY: I don’t understand.

PERKINS: Oh, can’t you understand, the Eel is the nickname, the alias of one of the slickest crooks in the country, Billy Bradley.

BROOKY: Billy Bradley? Oh yes, I’ve heard of him.

PERKINS: Well, that’s the Eel.

BROOKY: Oh I see; well, what about him?

PERKINS: He’s been taken, or at least is going to be.

BROOKY: What’s he done?

PERKINS: (Looking at BROOKY surprised.) You’re up on that Worthington robbery, aren’t you?

BROOKY: What robbery is that?

PERKINS: (Disgusted.) Don’t tell me you don’t know that burglars entered Mrs. Demming Worthington’s house last night, and made off with a five thousand dollar necklace?

BROOKY: I hadn’t heard of it.

PERKINS: Good heavens, man! hasn’t your paper got it?

BROOKY: (Going L.) I don’t know. I never read our paper. (Perkins follows BROOKY in disgust.)

O’MARA: (Smiling.) Well, I don’t know but what you’re just as well off. (Enter INSPECTOR door C., O’MARA comes from behind desk and stands above it for INSPECTOR to cross him.)

PERKINS: Good evenin’, Inspector.

INSPECTOR: (Glancing about room, without stopping, goes straight to stool behind desk.) How are you, boys! (INSPECTOR salutes O’MARA as he passes him, O’MARA returns the salute, then goes to upper end of desk, where he stands.)

BROOKY: How do you do, sir.

INSPECTOR: (Back of desk.) Well, O’Mara. They’ve got the Eel.

O’MARA: They have?

INSPECTOR: Dugan is on his way up with him now.

PERKINS: I guess it will go pretty hard with him, won’t it Inspector?

INSPECTOR: If he is guilty.

PERKINS: Well, he is, isn’t he?

INSPECTOR: I believe every man innocent until proven guilty.

BROOKY: Bravo, Inspector! Those are my sentiments.

INSPECTOR: I’ve sent for Mrs. Worthington. When we get her, Goldie, the Eel and Dugan together, we shall be able to get a clearer view on the matter. Bring up Goldie. (O’MARA exits door L.)

PERKINS: (Coming R. C.) Inspector, has this girl Goldie Marshall ever been up before?

INSPECTOR: Well, she’s been arrested a number of times, on shop-lifting charges, but we’ve never been able to prove anything on her.

PERKINS: Perhaps she’s square after all.

INSPECTOR: Not at all unlikely; as I said before, I believe a person innocent until proven guilty.

BROOKY: (Crossing R. to railing of desk.) And as I said before–Bravo, old chap. (The INSPECTOR looks at BROOKY sternly and he retires up stage R. confusedly, bumping into chair, sits in it.)

PERKINS: (Crossing R. to railing.) Inspector?


PERKINS: I suppose many a person has been railroaded through the System?

INSPECTOR: (Rising angrily.) System! How dare you! What do you mean?

PERKINS: I–I–beg your pardon, Inspector, I–

BROOKY: (Rising from chair and coming down L. of PERKINS.) I say, don’t make a bally ass of yourself.

INSPECTOR: Don’t ever let me hear you say that again. (Voices of O’MARA and GOLDIE are heard off L.) (Enter GOLDIE, followed by O’MARA. Door L.)

GOLDIE: (Jerking away from O’MARA.) Well, don’t yank my arm off. (Looking around room.) I know the way. (Starts R.)

O’MARA: (Following GOLDIE, catches her by the back of neck as she reaches C.) Don’t give me any back talk or I’ll yank your neck off.

INSPECTOR: O’Mara! let go your hold. Don’t forget you’re dealing with a woman. (O’MARA releases hold.)

GOLDIE: (Mockingly courteous.) Thanks, Inspector! What’ll I send you for Christmas, a bunch of sweet forget-me-nots or a barrel of pickles?

INSPECTOR: Goldie, don’t be so incorrigible.

GOLDIE: Gee! but you’re an educated guy.

INSPECTOR: Have a seat. (O’MARA jumps for chair with mock politeness.)

GOLDIE: (To reporters.) He’s polite, too. (Crosses to chair.)

INSPECTOR: Well, Goldie!

GOLDIE: (Sitting.) Well, Inspector!

INSPECTOR: Do you intend to stay here to-night or are you going to get bail?

GOLDIE: Where would I get bail?

INSPECTOR: I thought perhaps some gentleman friend of yours–

GOLDIE: (Rising angrily.) I ain’t got no gentlemen friends. What do you think I am, a Moll? (Sits.)

INSPECTOR: Don’t make any grand stand play now, Goldie!

GOLDIE: Well, if you mean that I’m a bad girl, you’d better not say it (Rising, crosses to desk and pounds angrily on railing.), ’cause I ain’t, see?

INSPECTOR: Well, you don’t deny that you and the Eel are sweethearts?

GOLDIE: Was, yes. Gee, we was goin’ to get married, until in a jealous huff he tried to kill me and was shipped for two years for assault and battery, but it wasn’t none of my doin’s.

INSPECTOR: Didn’t you prefer charges against him?

GOLDIE: I did not. Do you think I’d squeal on a pal? If it wasn’t for Dugan, they’d turn the Eel loose. (Sits.)


GOLDIE: Didn’t he shove him in?

INSPECTOR: He was simply acting in his official duty.

GOLDIE: Official duty, my eye.

INSPECTOR: What other motive could Mr. Dugan possibly have had?

GOLDIE: (With a sneer.) Maybe you don’t know. Well, I’ll tell you. He thought by shovin’ the Eel out of the way, he could get me.

INSPECTOR: And did he?

GOLDIE: Not so as you could notice it. I ain’t no fall guy for nobody.

INSPECTOR: Now that the Eel’s been sprung, are you going back to him?

GOLDIE: (Almost in tears.) Oh gee! I wish I could, but there’s nothing doin’, he’s sore on me.

INSPECTOR: When did you last see him?

GOLDIE: Just before he went up, two years ago.

INSPECTOR: How about this Worthington robbery, wasn’t he in on it?

GOLDIE: (Hastily.) No, he wasn’t.

INSPECTOR: (Quickly.) Who was?

GOLDIE: (After a slight pause as though to confess.) Well, I’ll tell you. There was three of us, me, Jesse James, and Christopher Columbus. (Looks first at INSPECTOR then to PERKINS.) Ah, put it down on your little yellow paper.

INSPECTOR: (Angrily.) Answers like that’ll get you nothing here.

GOLDIE: See, you won’t believe me when I tell you.

INSPECTOR: Silence, I say! (To O’MARA.) Take her down. (GOLDIE rises from chair leisurely and strolls impudently L. as she comes to BROOKY.) Oh, poo! poo!

INSPECTOR: (Stopping GOLDIE at door L.) And you’ll stay down unless you have a confession to make.

GOLDIE: (At door L.) Say, Inspector, if you’re waitin’ for a confession from me, you’ll wait until pigs fly kites. (Exit door L. GOLDIE followed by O’MARA.) (PERKINS and BROOKY look off after them.)

BROOKY: What a little terror!

PERKINS: Looks mighty like her work, doesn’t it, Inspector?

INSPECTOR: No! The job has all the ear marks of the Eel, but she undoubtedly is his accomplice. (Enter MRS. WORTHINGTON door C., she looks around uncomfortably and as she comes down C., BROOKY and PERKINS on seeing her, remove their hats. INSPECTOR rises and indicates chair R. C.) Ah! Mrs. Worthington! (Indicating Reporters.) Have you any objection to talking for publication?

MRS. WORTHINGTON: (Looking toward Reports.) No, not at all. (PERKINS has note paper and takes down as she talks.)

INSPECTOR: Will you kindly be seated? And we shall proceed? (MRS. W. sits.) Now in the first place, how long had this girl, Goldie Marshall, been in your employ?

MRS. WORTHINGTON: Just one week.

INSPECTOR: (Half aside.) That’s about the time the Eel was sprung. (To Mrs. W.) Had you missed anything else up to the time of this robbery?

MRS. WORTHINGTON: No, nothing.

INSPECTOR: Who else was in the house at the time, besides yourself and the maid?

MRS. WORTHINGTON: Only my guests who were at dinner with me. Mr. Appleby and his wife.

INSPECTOR: The horseowner?

MRS. WORTHINGTON: Yes, and a Miss Hazelton from Pittsburgh.

INSPECTOR: Would you suspect them?

MRS. WORTHINGTON: Well, hardly.

INSPECTOR: Anyone else?


INSPECTOR: What Dugan?

MRS. WORTHINGTON: Why, your Mr. Dugan here.

INSPECTOR: Oh, Tim Dugan.

MRS. WORTHINGTON: Yes, we’re great friends, and he frequently dines at my house. (Low murmur begins in the distance and grows louder. MRS. W. rises in fear and appeals to the INSPECTOR, who comes from behind the desk and–)

INSPECTOR: Don’t be alarmed, Mrs. Worthington, just step behind the desk. (MRS. WORTHINGTON steps back of desk and sits in chair below stool. INSPECTOR replaces the chair in which MRS. W. has been sitting in front of the window R. C. then returns to back of desk where he stands. The REPORTERS at first sound show excitement, PERKINS goes to door C. and looks off R. B.)

PERKINS: (At door C.) It’s Dugan and he’s got the Eel. (Goes down L. C.) (DUGAN is seen out of window R. bringing the EEL along, who is hand-cuffed. They are followed by a noisy crowd. DUGAN throws the EEL down, C., then chases the crowd away from door C.)

EEL: (Looks around smiling until he sees INSPECTOR.) Hello, Inspector! Gee! it’s real oil for the wicks of my lamps to see you again.

DUGAN: (Coming down C.) Yes, he’s tickled to death to see you, ain’t you, Billy?

EEL: (Angrily.) The Eel to you, Copper; Billy to my pals.

INSPECTOR: Well, Billy!

EEL: That’s right, Inspector, you’re my pal. (Movement from INSPECTOR.) Oh, I ain’t forgot when you was just a plain Bull and saved me from doin’ my first bit on a phoney charge. They tried to railroad me, you remember, and Dugan here was runnin’ the engine.

INSPECTOR: Oh, you’ve got Dugan wrong, Billy, he bears you no malice.

EEL: No, it’s a mistake, he just loves me. Say, he thinks so much of me, that if he saw me drowning, he’d bring me a glass of water.

DUGAN: You know why you were brought here?

EEL: Sure, so’s you could railroad me again.

INSPECTOR: Nonsense, Dugan has nothing against you personally.

EEL: Oh yes he has; when he was new on the force, I beat him up good. He was only a harness cop then, and one night he thought he made me coppin’ a super from a lush, which you know ain’t my graft. He started to fan me with a sap, so I just clubbed my smoke wagon, and before I got through with him, I made him a pick-up for the ambulance, and he ain’t never forgot it.

INSPECTOR: What do you know about this Worthington robbery? (EEL looks around suspiciously.) Before you answer, Billy, I warn you to be careful, everything you say will be used against you.

EEL: Yes, and everything I don’t say will be used, too. I know the system.

DUGAN: (Crossing R. to EEL. REPORTERS follow.) Well, what have you got to say?

EEL: (Taking time, looks around.) You don’t think I’m goin’ to address this Mass Meeting here. (BROOKY looks L. to see if there is anyone else there.)

INSPECTOR: You’re not afraid to talk in front of a couple of newspaper reporters, are you?

EEL: (Grinning at INSPECTOR to gain time.) Roosevelt gets a dollar a word, where do I come in? (Resignedly.) All right, flag the pencil pushers and I’ll gab my nob. (DUGAN turns L. to tell the REPORTERS to go. BROOKY says he don’t understand. PERKINS pulls him off door C., remonstrating, going R.) (The INSPECTOR signs to DUGAN that they will now grill the EEL.)

INSPECTOR: This lady I suppose you know.

EEL: (Looks at MRS. WORTHINGTON.) I never lamped her before in my life.

DUGAN: That is Mrs. Worthington, the lady you robbed.

EEL: (Banteringly to MRS. WORTHINGTON to gain time.) Is it? How do you do, pleased to meet you. Gee! but you must be an awful mark to be robbed. (INSPECTOR raps on desk.) What was it I stole from you, Mrs. Worthington?

DUGAN: Nix on that bull. You know what you stole.

EEL: Yes, and I suppose you know what I stole before I stole it.

DUGAN: With dips like you, I always look far ahead.

EEL: Get out! you couldn’t look far enough ahead to see the ashes on your cigar. Why, if it wasn’t for your stool pigeons–

DUGAN: That’s enough out of you.

EEL: Oh, go chase yourself. (DUGAN smashes at EEL, who ducks around back of him.)

INSPECTOR: Dugan!!! (When Dugan locates the EEL, he goes after him again. MRS. WORTHINGTON screams.)

INSPECTOR: None of that, Dugan! Remember, he had no marks on him when you brought him in. (DUGAN crosses L. in front of EEL and looks off door L. in subdued rage.) A little more civility out of you, Bradley.

EEL: All right, Inspector. (To MRS. W.) I beg your pardon, lady.

INSPECTOR: You have been brought here as a suspect in a five thousand dollar jewelry theft which happened at the home of Mrs. Worthington last night. (EEL makes no move.) Circumstances point strongly in your direction. Your former sweetheart, Goldie Marshall, was serving as maid to Mrs. Worthington at the time of the robbery.

EEL: And you think I planted her there as a stall.

DUGAN: Goldie spilled that much, and we didn’t, have to third degree her.

EEL: So Goldie declared me in on this?

INSPECTOR: She couldn’t help it, we knew it was a two-man’s job.

EEL: She snitched me into a frame-up.

DUGAN: Same as she did two years ago.

EEL: Why say, Inspector, I ain’t seen Goldie since I was sprung from the Pen.

DUGAN: Is that so? I got it straight that the first place you mozied to was Goldie’s flat on East Broadway. You were trailed.

EEL: Sure I was, by one of you pathfinders at the Central Office. Oh, I’ve played tag with you before; Dugan, whatever you say, is.

INSPECTOR: Then you admit–

EEL: I don’t admit nothin’.

INSPECTOR: Be careful what you say. Have you retained counsel?

EEL: A mouthpiece! What for?

INSPECTOR: You’ve got to be represented. Have you any money?

EEL: Sure! I left the hotel of Zebra clothed with a pocket full of smiles and a wad of joy. (INSPECTOR whispers for O’MARA to bring up GOLDIE. O’MARA exits door L.)

INSPECTOR: Well, the state will furnish you with an attorney.

EEL: What, one of them record shysters? Eighty years old and never won a case. No, thanks, Inspector. I’ll plead my own case; then I got at least a chance to beat this rap.

DUGAN: You’d have a swell time pleading your own case.

EEL: Yes, and believe me I’ll spring a sensation when I open up. I’ll show up some of this rotten graft. I’ll bust “The System “ to smithereens. Dugan, I won’t be railroaded–(EEL crosses in rage L. to Dugan.)

INSPECTOR: Bradley! hold your tongue, you’ve said enough.

EEL: I ain’t said half what I’m going to say–

INSPECTOR: (Fiercely.) Not another word out of you. Do you understand?

EEL: (Coming down.) All right, Inspector. I don’t want to get anybody that’s right, in bad, but I’ve got something up my sleeve. (DUGAN laughs and goes up stage.) (GOLDIE enters door L. brought in by O’MARA. She is startled at seeing EEL, then pleadingly:)

GOLDIE: Billy! (EEL turns and is about to go to GOLDIE but stops.)

EEL: You snitched again! You snitched again! (Running L. to GOLDIE with arms up as though to hit her with hand-cuffs. GOLDIE snatches his upraised arms.)

GOLDIE: Oh no, Billy! True as God I didn’t!

DUGAN: (Aside to INSPECTOR.) Let’s leave them alone, they’ll talk. (MRS. WORTHINGTON, INSPECTOR, DUGAN and O’MARA exit door R.)

GOLDIE: (Still holding EEL’S arms.) Why, I’d rather die than snitch.

EEL: (Jerking away and going R.) How about two years ago?

GOLDIE: I didn’t even then when you left me dying. They framed you while I was in the hospital.

EEL: Who?

GOLDIE: Dugan and his–

EEL: Sh!!! Oh if I could only believe you, kid.

GOLDIE: Look at me, Billy. Do you think I’d snitch?

EEL: (Looks at her, then pushes her head roughly back.) No, I can’t believe you did it, kid. (EEL takes GOLDIE in his arms.)

GOLDIE: (Sobbingly.) I’m so glad to see you again.

EEL: Me, too, kid. Gee, your head feels as natural on my shoulder as a piece of pie on a prize-fighter’s knife. (EEL takes GOLDIE from his shoulder and says inquiringly.) But what are you doing here?

GOLDIE: (Drying her tears.) Bein’ held on suspicion, but they can’t get met I’m protected. Dugan’s got to–

EEL: Nix on the crackin’, don’t shoot your trap, they’re leavin’ us together for a stall. Talk about something else. (EEL turns R. and GOLDIE grabs his hand.) Do you still love me?

GOLDIE: Always.

EEL: Will you marry me?

GOLDIE: If you want me to.

EEL: You know I do. (Looks around suspiciously.) Say, if I beat this rap (DUGAN comes, on door R., and stands at upper end of desk), let’s get spliced and go out West, turn over a new leaf, and begin life all over again, far away from the subway world where the sun of happiness is always clouded and the ace of joy is coppered. What do you say?

GOLDIE: Gee! them’s the kindest words you’ve ever said to me. (Then lightly.) And I’ll march down the aisle with you, with my hair in a braid.

EEL: Great!! Gee, I wonder if we could make our get-away now. (Both start for door C., but DUGAN, who has come down behind them, stops them.)

DUGAN: How do you do! Would you like to take a little trip out in the air with me?

GOLDIE: Say, I’d rather be home with the headache, than at the Movies with a guy like you. (Crosses L.) (INSPECTOR enters door R. going behind desk.)

INSPECTOR: Well, have you got anything to say to me before I lock you up for the night?

EEL: Nothin’, except that it’s a frame-up, and we defy you to go through with it.

INSPECTOR: Take ’em down.

DUGAN: (Above door L.) Come on. (EEL starts for door L.)

GOLDIE: Good-night, Inspector.

INSPECTOR: Good-night.

EEL: (Turning at door L.) Same from me, Inspector.

INSPECTOR: Good-night, Bradley. (DUGAN shoves the EEL roughly off. GOLDIE circles around and switches in front of DUGAN.) By the way, Goldie, what’s the number of your flat on East Broadway?

GOLDIE: (Hesitatingly at door L.) 327, Inspector.


GOLDIE: (Impudently.) You’re welcome. (Exit door L. followed by DUGAN.) (O’MARA locks door after them.)

INSPECTOR: (Calling O’MARA.) O’Mara!

O’MARA: (At door L.) Yes, sir.

INSPECTOR: I want a wire installed at 327 East Broadway.

O’MARA: (In front of desk.) Goldie’s flat?

INSPECTOR: Yes. I’m leaving it to you to see that the orders are carried out to the letter.

O’MARA: Yes, sir, to-morrow.

INSPECTOR: To-night, at once. I’m going to turn them loose. You understand?

O’MARA: (Looks puzzled, then face brightens.) I understand.




Showing flat house with stoop. Time: The same evening. A small boy enters L. with bottle of milk, goes up steps door C., rings bell, clicker sounds, and he exits door C. MAGGIE enters door C. She is an East side janitress. She has a tin pail on her arm around which is wrapped newspaper. She walks off L. PERKINS and BROOKY are heard off R.)

PERKINS: (Entering R. briskly.) Come on, Brooky, don’t be so slow.

BROOKY: (Straggling in after PERKINS.) I say, old chap, this sort of work is most laborious. This flitting from one tram to another, and being jostled and ordered to “step lively” by vulgar guards, and running, yes actually running. It’s not only bad taste, old man, but positively undignified. (Dusting shoes with handkerchief, L., PERKINS is up in vestibule of door C.)

PERKINS: If you want to supply your paper with live news, you’ve got to keep hustling.

BROOKY: Very true, but it seems such a waste of energy.

PERKINS: (Coming down to BROOKY.) No energy is wasted that is productive of flaring headlines. Now take that note pad I gave you, and get your pencil busy with a description of this neighborhood. (Goes R. making notes.)

BROOKY: (Taking paper and pencil from pockets after a search for them.) This is more like being a Scotland Yarder than a reporter.

PERKINS: A Scotland Yarder!

BROOKY: I should say detective.

PERKINS: (Coming L.) Let me tell you something, Brooky. The reporters and newspapers unravel more cases than the police.

BROOKY: I dare say you do. You’re so damned inquisitive.

PERKINS: It isn’t inquisitiveness, my boy, it’s just being on the level with the public.

BROOKY: (Laughing.) You know, some great man said, “The public be damned.”

PERKINS: He wasn’t a great man, he was an ignorant man. The public will stand for just so much, then look out; let your mind wander back to the history of the French Revolution. An infuriated public is the most ferocious blood-lapping animal in the earth’s jungle.

BROOKY: Perky, I adore your descriptive talents.

PERKINS: (Going up into vestibule and ringing bell.) You make me sick.

BROOKY: But surely you’re not going to enter that apartment house unannounced?

PERKINS: No, I’ll tell them a couple of reporters want some news, then you’ll hear language no paper can print.

BROOKY: Why, are they all foreigners?

PERKINS: Say, Brooky, you’re a perfect ass.

BROOKY: No, my dear fellow, none of us are perfect.

PERKINS: (Coming down out of vestibule to BROOKY.) Now listen, I told you that I had inside information that the EEL and GOLDIE were to be released, that’s why I hustled you over here. I could have come alone, but I let you in on a big scoop for your paper.

BROOKY: Righto, old chap, righto; but what bothers me is, what’s it all about?

PERKINS: It’s about time you got next to yourself.

BROOKY: Another impossible metaphor, my dear fellow; how can one get next to one’s self without being twins?

PERKINS: Brooky, Englishmen as a rule are thick, but you are a density of thickness that is impenetrable.

BROOKY: Yes, I know I am a rare sort.

PERKINS: Now, we haven’t time to argue a lot of piffle. The girl isn’t in yet, there’s no answer to my ring, so let’s stroll around and come back later. (Exit R.)

BROOKY: (Not seeing that PERKINS has gone.) Righto! old man, we’ll stroll, for if there’s anything that I like, its having a nice little–(Seeing that PERKINS is gone.) Perkins! you said stroll. Don’t run, don’t run, it’s so damned undignified. (Exit R.) (Enter L., O’MARA dressed in citizen’s clothes. He looks at number on house then motions off for TOM to come on. TOM comes on L., they go up into vestibule and look for names on bells. Enter Officer FLYNN, stealthily.)

FLYNN: Come on, now, you don’t live there, I’ve had my eye on you for five minutes.

O’MARA: (Coming down from vestibule to FLYNN.) Well, keep your eye on something else, if you know what’s good for you. (Takes badge out of pocket.)

FLYNN: (Surprised.) Central Officer! (Whistles and walks off R.)

O’MARA: (Returning to vestibule.) Ring any bell?

TOM: No, her flat’s on the second floor, so I’ll ring up the top flat. (TOM rings the bell and sound of electric door opener is heard, they both exit door C.) (FLYNN strolls back on from R. ad MAGGIE enters from L.)

FLYNN: Hello, Maggie! been out to get the evening paper? There is not much in it.

MAGGIE: There’s enough in it to quench me thirst after a hard day’s work.

FLYNN: I see you’ve got the paper wrapped around something good.

MAGGIE: I have that, and it’s meself instead of the paper’ll be wrapped around it in a minute. (Light goes up in window above.)

FLYNN: I see you’ve got a new tenant. Is she hard on you?

MAGGIE: Divel-a-bit! She’s a nice respectable dacent girl, and aisy to get along with. I never seen her with no men folks. Maybe she’s a widdy, as I’d like to be.

FLYNN: A widow? What’s the matter with your old man?

MAGGIE: He ain’t worth powder enough to blow up a cock-roach.

FLYNN: Is he working?

MAGGIE: He ain’t done a tap since the civil war.

FLYNN: That’s quite a vacation.

MAGGIE: Vacation? It’s a life sentence of laziness.

FLYNN: There’s many a good man layin’ off.

MAGGIE: No, the good men are dyin’ off, it’s the bums that are layin’ off.

FLYNN: (Looking at house.) Well, the landlord of this house ain’t particular about his tenants.

MAGGIE: Not a bit, it’s been a nest for thieves ever since I came here.

FLYNN: Well, they’ve got to live somewhere, the jails are overcrowded.

MAGGIE: Oh, I don’t mind thim, they can steal nothin’ from me but me old man, and they’re welcome to him without usin’ a jimmy.

FLYNN: A jimmy? You’re getting on to the thief slang.

MAGGIE: Why wouldn’t I? That’s all I hear mornin’ and night from "Tommy the Rat,” “Tim the Flim,” and “John the Con.”

FLYNN: You know all their monakers?

MAGGIE: I do that. Say, they’ve given me a monaker, too.

FLYNN: What do they call you?

MAGGIE: “Mag the Jag.”

FLYNN: (Laughs.) Well, I must be off. (Starts off R.)

MAGGIE: (As she goes up into vestibule.) Won’t you come in and have a sup of beer and a pull at the old man’s pipe?

FLYNN: I can’t, I’ve got a stationary post.

MAGGIE: Look at that now, that shows where you stand. Good-night, John.

FLYNN: Good-night, Maggie. (Exits R.) (Enter EEL and GOLDIE arm in arm, talking earnestly. As they come to steps, GOLDIE goes up and unlocks door. EEL sees FLYNN coming up on R., he lights cigarette and motions to go in. GOLDIE exits door C. FLYNN comes up to EEL, who throws the match in his face and disappears door C. as FLYNN is rubbing his eyes.)




Living room, bedroom, and kitchen can be seen. At rise, O’MARA and TOM are installing the dictagraph, on wall L. C. TOM is standing on chair L. C. He places the instrument–then runs his hand down to wire.)

TOM: All right, Jim, hand me that picture.

O’MARA: (C. handing TOM framed picture.) Here you are, Tom.

TOM: (Hangs picture over dictagraph, gets off of chair and backs off, seeing if it’s placed right.) There, that’ll do, I guess.

O’MARA: Nobody would ever suspect anything’s been happening here.

TOM: (Picking up bits of wire and tools from floor L. C. O’MARA puts chair TOM has been standing on, R. and brings bag C.) Pick up these pieces. Did you give the Inspector the office?

O’MARA: Twenty minutes ago.

TOM: (Putting scraps into bag.) The job took a little longer than I thought it would.

O’MARA: (Closing bag and handing it to TOM.) Yes, and we’d better get a gait on out of here, or the EEL and his girl will be walkin’ in on us. (Door slams off stage.)

BOTH: What’s that!

O’MARA: It must be them!

TOM: (Starts for door R.)

O’MARA: We can’t go that way.

TOM: (Indicating the window L.) The fire escape, quick. (TOM crosses quickly to window L., opens it, and goes through.)

O’MARA: (Follows TOM, but stops at window L.) Wait a minute! (Goes back, turns out light, then goes through window, closing it after him.) (Footsteps begin on steps off stage as O’MARA pulls down window.) Stage is in darkness but for the moonlight that streams in through window L. Steps sound closer. Key rattles and door is unlocked. Door R. opens just a bit at first, then GOLDIE enters, followed by the EEL.)

EEL: (Holding GOLDIE back.) Wait a minute, kid, till I strike a match.

GOLDIE: Oh, never mind, Billy, I don’t need one. (Gropes her way C. and turns on light. EEL stays at door R. listening to hear if they are followed.) Home again! Gee! but that guy what said “ther ain’t no place like home” must have travelled some.

EEL: (Turning around.) Yep! Gee, but this is some swell dump you got here, Kid!

GOLDIE: Ain’t this classy?

(The EEL hurries into bedroom and then into kitchen as though looking for some one. GOLDIE follows him, but stops at kitchen door.) What are you looking for, the ice-box?

EEL: (Coming down to C. R. of GOLDIE.) No, it ain’t that.

GOLDIE: What then, lookin’ for a sleeper?

EEL: No telling what they’re up to. You don’t think they’ve given us our liberty, without a string to it, do you? They’re Indian givers, they are.

(Starts for door R.)

GOLDIE: Gee, Billy! I hadn’t thought of that. (Goes into bedroom and lights electric light L. of bedroom off C.)

EEL: (R. C. looking at door R.) I kind of thought I saw a light through the bottom of this door, when we was coming up the stairs.

GOLDIE: (Coming down C.) Oh, it must have been the reflection of the moon. (Takes off hat and puts it on dresser in bedroom. EEL crosses room backwards to L., holding hand in moonlight to make the shadow on bottom of door. GOLDIE watches him. EEL then turns to window and GOLDIE looks under bed.)

EEL: (Excitedly.) This latch is sprung.

GOLDIE: I must have left it open, when they hiked me down to the club house.

EEL: Are you sure?


EEL: (Going down L.) Well, then, I guess we’re all right for the present at least.

GOLDIE: (Coming down C. with travelling bag which she has taken off of bed.) Yes, until Dugan finds out we’ve been sprung, and then he’ll be after us like a cat after a mouse. (Puts bag on table up R.)

EEL: We’ll be on a rattler for Chi, before that. How long will it take you to pack?

GOLDIE: (Going into bedroom.) About a half hour.

EEL: That’s good. If Dugan does go after us (Chuckles.), he’s got to get us first.

GOLDIE: (Coming down C. with kimono which she has taken from door C. in bedroom, and is folding.) Say, Billy, I guess I’d better lock this door. (Starts for door, but his next line stops her.)

EEL: He can’t break in here without a search warrant, and he can’t get that before Monday. (Lying down on couch.)

GOLDIE: Well, what’s he going to get it on then? (Putting kimono in bag on table R., picking up a pair of shoes from the floor near table, but the EEL’s next line stops her.)

EEL: (Still on couch.) You ought to know Dugan well enough by this time. He’ll get something on us, leave it to him.

GOLDIE: (Stopping thoughtfully in door C., then throwing shoes on floor near bed decisively and coming down C.) If he does, I’ll turn squealer for the first time in my life.

EEL: (Jumping off of couch quickly.) Don’t you do it. I could never look you square in the eyes again if you did.

GOLDIE: It ain’t no worse to squeal than it is to steal.

EEL: Yes, it is, Kid, God’ll forgive a thief, but he hates a squealer.

GOLDIE: Maybe you’re right, Billy. Well, I guess we’d better get a move on. (Going into bedroom and getting hair brush off of dresser.) We can’t get out of here any too soon to suit me. (Putting brush in bag on Table R., then smiling at EEL.)

EEL: You betcher! (Goes to mantle L. and leans against it thoughtfully.)

GOLDIE: (Coming C.) What’s on your mind now?

EEL: I was just thinkin’ of that first job I’d have to do when we get to Chi.

GOLDIE: What do you mean?

EEL: Gee, Goldie, I hate to go back to the old life. (Sits on sofa L.)

GOLDIE: Old life? I thought you said we was goin’ to begin all over again, and live like decent, respectable people?

EEL: I know, but you’ve got to have money to be respectable.

GOLDIE: Well, we’ll get the money.

EEL: That’s what I hate about it. Having to get it that way.

GOLDIE: But Billy, I mean honestly, work for it.

EEL: (Rising and coming R.) Yes, but supposing we can’t get work? And supposing we can’t hold it after we do get it?

GOLDIE: If they go digging into our past, it’ll be tough rowing. But there (caressing EEL.), don’t let’s worry till we come to the bridge. Wait until we get to Chicago. (Goes into bedroom and takes down coat which is hanging on door C.)

EEL: (Lies on couch L.) Have you got enough cale to carry us over there?

GOLDIE: (Brushing off coat at door C.) What?

EEL: I say, have you got enough money to hold us till we get to Chi?

GOLDIE: (C. looking in surprise.) Why no, Billy, I ain’t got no money.

EEL: (Surprised, slowly rising from couch to sitting position.) What?

GOLDIE: I ain’t got a cent. I thought you had the sugar.

EEL: Me?

GOLDIE: AIN’T you got no money neither?

EEL: (Throwing away cigarette and going R.) I ain’t got enough money to buy the controlling interest in a rotten egg. (Goldie throws coat on couch.) How about that necklace?

GOLDIE: Why, Dugan’s got it.

EEL: Well, how about your share?

GOLDIE: Well, he promised I was going to get five hundred out of it, but now that you’re sprung, I suppose I’ll have to whistle for it.

EEL: Well, I see where I have to get to work before we get to Chicago.

GOLDIE: (Turning him around quickly.) What do you mean?

EEL: Well, we’ve got to get to Chi, and as the railroads are very particular, somebody’ll have to pay our fares. I won’t be long. (Crosses L. in front of GOLDIE and gets hat and coat off of sofa. GOLDIE runs to door R., then as EEL turns:)

GOLDIE: Oh no, no, don’t, please don’t. We’re going to be good, you said so yourself. We’re going to travel the straight road.

EEL: (C. with hat and coat in hand.) But that road won’t take us to Chi. (Pause.) You see, there’s no other way out of it. (Starts toward door but GOLDIE stops him pleadingly.)

GOLDIE: Oh no, you musn’t, you shan’t. I won’t go with you if you do. I won’t go! I won’t go! (Becomes hysterical, pounds on door, then begins to cry.)

EEL: (Putting arm around her.) There, there, don’t cry. Look! (He turns her around and then puts his hat and coat in chair above door R.) (GOLDIE takes his hands in relief The EEL pats her cheek.) You see, I’ll do as you say. (Crossing down C.) I’ll cut it out.

GOLDIE: (Following the EEL and putting her arms around him.) I knew you would.

EEL: Oh, you did? Well, what’s the next move?

GOLDIE: I don’t know, Billy.

EEL: There you are. (Crosses L.) We’re no better off than we were before. By Monday, Dugan’ll have me back in the Tombs, maybe on a charge of murder. You know that he ain’t going to rest while I’m loose.

GOLDIE: Then why not let me end it all?

EEL: Not by squealing.

GOLDIE: It will be that sooner or later.

EEL: (Coming R. slowly.) No, the best way is to let me go out and get some money. (Crossing GOLDIE and going toward hat and coat on chair R.)

GOLDIE: (Stopping him.) But, Billy, you promised me–

EEL: (Turning to GOLDIE.) I don’t mean to rob anybody (Scratches head in puzzled way, then brightly, as thought strikes him), I mean to borrow it.

GOLDIE: (Joyfully.) Borrow it?

EEL: Yes, I’ll knock a guy down, strip him of his leather, get his name and address, then when we get to Chicago, I’ll send it back to him.

GOLDIE: (Shaking her head and smiling.) Oh no, it won’t do.

EEL: Why?

GOLDIE: You might forget his address. (Going up C. into bedroom.) Now, you come and help me pack the trunk. (Stopping.) Oh Billy, come help me pull this trunk in there. (Disappearing to R. of trunk. EEL comes and takes L. end and they carry it into living room and place it C. under chandelier to open up stage. As they carry it down stage she speaks.) There are a few more things to go in.

EEL: (As they set trunk down.) I’ve got it.


EEL: I know where I can get that money.

GoLDffi: Where?

EEL: Isaacson.

GOLDIE: What Isaacson?

EEL: Why the fence on Second Ave. I’m aces with him.

GOLDIE: Yes, but what have you got to pawn?

EEL: I don’t need nothing. I’ve thrown thousands of dollars his way in business, he’ll lend me a century sure. I’ll be back in fifteen minutes. (Goes to chair and gets coat and hat, then starts for door R.)

GOLDIE: Wait! (Crosses to mantel L. and gets keys from up stage end.) Here, take my keys. (Coming back to C. above trunk where EEL meets her putting on coat and hat.) To make sure, we’d better work on signals.

EEL: (Taking keys.) How do you mean?

GOLDIE: In case anything happens while you’re gone, when you come back, ring the bell downstairs three times. If I don’t answer, everything’s O. K., come up; but if I do answer, don’t come up, see?

EEL: If you don’t answer, everything’s all right, come up; but if you do answer, don’t come up.

GOLDIE: That’s it.

EEL: I got you. (Goes to door R. Opens it quickly to see if anyone is there. Closes door, footsteps are heard in hall, then going downstairs, then door slams.)

GOLDIE: (Listens intently until door slams, then begins to pack trunk. Opens trunk first. Gets jacket from couch where she has thrown it, puts it in trunk. Goes up into bedroom and gets skirt which hangs out of sight on end of dresser. Comes down C. shaking skirt. Long, low whistle stops her, then club raps.) Bull’s!! (Looks up at light burning, turns it out and closes the trunk at the same time. Stands still until she sees the shadow of man’s hand in the moonlight on the wall R. Frightened exclamation, then cowers on sofa. DUGAN appears at window, looks in, then raises window and enters, closing window after him. Takes gun out of pocket, then goes up into kitchen and bedroom. At door C. he sees GOLDIE, points gun at her.

DUGAN: Ah! (GOLDIE springs to her feet with frightened exclamation, and DUGAN says:) don’t squawk or I’ll pop sure!

GOLDIE: (Nervously.) Me squawk? What do you think I am, a school teacher?

DUGAN: (Goes to door R., opens it to see if anyone is there, closes it and locks door. Comes to C., turns on light, then puts gun in pocket. Coming L. to GOLDIE.) I don’t want to frighten you.

GOLDIE: (L. nervously.) I know, but one look at you would scare some people to death.

DUGAN: Am I that homely?

GOLDIE: Homely? Why an undershot bulldog is a peacock, ’long side of you.

DUGAN: Ain’t I welcome?

GOLDIE: You’re about as welcome as a rainy holiday. (Sits on sofa.)

DUGAN: Say, Goldie, we’ve been almost more than friends in the last two years.

GOLDIE: You mean almost friends. (Rising.) Never more. Dugan, you know why I’ve been your go-between in the System. Because you promised to let up on the Eel.

DUGAN: I’ll never let up on him. He’s a crook.

GOLDIE: Well, what are you? (Turns L. away from DUGAN.)

DUGAN: Don’t get sore, Goldie. You know I want you for myself. (Puts his arms around GOLDIE’S waist.)

GOLDIE: Well, you’re wasting time. (Pulls savagely away from him and crosses R.)

DUGAN: (Following GOLDIE R.) Am I? I’ll get you, or I’ll send you both up for years.

GOLDIE: (Savagely into DUGAN’s face.) Is that why you had me steal that necklace?

DUGAN: Yes, if you want to know it, I’ve been trying for two years to get something on you, and now I’ve got you.

GOLDIE: Well, suppose I squeal.

DUGAN: It’s my word against yours, the word of an officer against a crook.

GOLDIE: Say, Dugan, if looks of contempt would hurt a man’s feelings, I’d disable you with a squint. (DUGAN goes L., getting necklace out of pocket; GOLDIE is in panic for fear EEL will ring the bell, but she crosses and sits on trunk.)

DUGAN: Goldie, this necklace will bring four thousand dollars from a Buffalo fence, and if you’ll say three words, “I love you,” the price is yours. Won’t you say them, Goldie? Just three words?

GOLDIE: (Thinks it over, then looks at DUGAN.) Go–to–Hell.

DUGAN: (Going L. puts back necklace and takes out red wallet, then comes C. to GOLDIE.) Well, how does this strike you? Here’s twenty thousand dollars. It’s all yours for the asking. Twenty thousand dollars. (Sits on trunk beside GOLDIE.)

GOLDIE: Gee, but you’re doing a land office business.

DUGAN: I’ve got no kick coming. Why say, I can take care of you in real style. Why waste your time on the EEL? I can make more money in a week than he can steal in a year.

GOLDIE: That’s because you’re a better thief than he is. (Rises and goes R.)

DUGAN: I wouldn’t say that. (Following GOLDIE R.) Come on, Goldie (putting his arms around her, with purse in front of her face), what’s the answer?

GOLDIE: (Apparently weakening.) Twenty thousand dollars! Gee, that’s a lot of money, and I could live right.

DUGAN: (Greedily, as though he has won her.) Sure you could. I’d set you up like a Queen, and between us we could milk the Tenderloin dry.

GOLDIE: But the Eel?

DUGAN: (Crossing L. and putting wallet away.) I’ll attend to him! (Then to GOLDIE who has come L.) Listen to this! Ten minutes after you two were turned loose, an old man was beaten and robbed, not two blocks from here. He never came to! (GOLDIE backs R. in horror. DUGAN follows.) He died on his way to Bellevue. Do you know who the murderer is? I’m here to arrest him on the charge of murder.

GOLDIE: (In mad rage.) You lie, Dugan! Billy said you’d frame him, but you won’t this time–(GOLDIE flies at DUGAN as though to scratch his eyes out, but he struggles with her and throws her to the floor L.) No, Dugan, not murder, that would mean the chair! (GOLDIE on knees pleading to DUGAN. Bell rings three times, they both start. DUGAN puzzled and surprised, and GOLDIE terror-stricken, wondering what to do. Then the thought of the bell on the wall comes. Looking at DUGAN with a forced smile and still on the floor.) Oh, I wonder who that can be? (By the last two words she is on her feet and makes a dash for the bell up L., but DUGAN reaches it firse.)

DUGAN: No, you don’t. I’m wise. “If I answer, don’t come up." (GOLDIE, in disgusted rage, goes down to head of couch, followed by DUGAN.) Old stuff, Goldie. Let him come, I want him. (Door slams off stage. GOLDIE starts and DUGAN goes to door R. and unlocks it. They both stand rigid. DUGAN with gun in hand, while footsteps come nearer. As door opens and EEL enters.)

GOLDIE: Look out, Billy! (DUGAN grabs EEL’S hand and throws him in the room and locks the door. While he is doing this EEL runs across room over trunk and disappears behind sofa. When DUGAN turns, he can’t locate EEL and points gun up into bedroom.)

DUGAN: Hands up, Billy! Hands up! (He then locates EEL behind sofa.) I won’t tell you again! Hands up! (The EEL holds hands up and appears behind sofa.) (GOLDIE is up C. behind trunk.) Goldie, frisk him clean. (GOLDIE protests.) Come on! Come on! (DUGAN points gun at EEL, and GOLDIE runs to him and goes through his pockets. She finds tobacco bag which she hands to DUGAN. He doesn’t take it, and she drops it on floor.) Get to his gun pocket. Get to his gun pocket. (GOLDIE hesitates, then goes to EEL’S hip pocket, where she finds a roll of money. She tries to put it back but DUGAN sees it.) Come on, hand it over. (GOLDIE appeals to the EEL who pantomimes to do so, and she hands it to DUGAN.) This is the money he took from the man he killed. (Putting money into red wallet and returning wallet to pocket.)

EEL: Do you think I’d frisk a stiff? Let me tell you something, Dugan. (Throwing hat on floor.) You staked me two years ago in the Pen, and then tried to make me believe that Goldie was in on the frame. You lied like a yellow dog, Dugan, and you know it. Yes, I am a crook and a thief, and I’ve robbed a lot of people, but I’m just a little bit above you, Dugan, just a little bit above you. Because, I never took money from a woman, and that’s part of your graft. (DUGAN takes out gun as though to hit EEL with it. GOLDIE grabs his arm and bites his hand and he drops the gun; Noise begins off stage. GOLDIE runs to door R. while EEL and DUGAN struggle. DUGAN throws EEL off and goes toward window L. EEL sees gun on floor R., runs and gets it, but GOLDIE prevents his shooting it. The Police break in the door at this point. One catches GOLDIE as she is running toward the window L. Another, who comes through the window, catches the EEL. The Inspector stands at door R., crowd back of him. DUGAN comes down to him.)

DUGAN: Well, Inspector, I got him. He robbed and croaked an old man. I got him with the goods on!

INSPECTOR: Let these people go! (Pointing to DUGAN.) There’s your man, arrest him! (GOLDIE and the EEL are released.)

DUGAN: Inspector, you’ve got nothing on me.

INSPECTOR: No? (Crossing to DUGAN.) Well, there’s a dictagraph in this room (GOLDIE rushes into EEL’S arms.), and we’ve got everything on you, you dog. You’re a disgrace to all mankind. It is unclean curs like you that have bred a cancer in the department, and pointed the finger of suspicion at ten thousand honest policemen. But that cancer must be cut out, and the operation begins now. Take him away. (Policemen hand-cuff DUGAN, who struggles, then resignedly walks off, preceded and followed by police. The INSPECTOR follows them, but stops and turns at door R.) Well, Billy! (EEL and GOLDIE come C. and stand in front of trunk.)

EEL: Well, Inspector?

INSPECTOR: If you’re going to live square, stick to it. (EEL takes GOLDIE’S hand.) I never want to see you at headquarters again. (EEL drops his head and GOLDIE puts her arm around him.) I won’t even need you as a witness. The dictagraph has recorded all. (EEL and GOLDIE pleased.) Good-night! (INSPECTOR exits, closing door after him.)

EEL and GOLDIE: Good-night, Inspector! (They both listen until his footsteps die off, and door slams. Then EEL runs to door to listen, and GOLDIE sits dejectedly on trunk.)

GOLDIE: Well, we’re broke again. (Tearfully.) We can’t go West now, so there’s no use packing. (The EEL goes stealthily to window L., looks out, pulls dictagraph from wall, then comes down R. of GOLDIE who is sitting on trunk and has watched him. He taps her on the shoulder, taking DUGAN’S red wallet out of pocket.)

EEL: Go right ahead and pack! (GOLDIE looks astounded, and begins to laugh.)


First picture. (Both sitting on trunk counting money.)



Author of “The Lollard,” “The Lady of the Press," "A College Proposition,” “Master Willie Hewes, or The Lady of the Sonnets,” Etc., Etc.

Composer of “My Little Dream Girl,” “My Sweet Adair,” Etc., Etc.


(Order in which they appear.)



The Rose Gardens of the American Legation in Persia–the entrance to the building on left. Large Persian jardinieres on right with a large Persian Rose Tree.


ROSE: “The Girl in the Persian Rug.” After number off stage is heard in old man’s voice: “Illa au Rose aboukar.”

GIRLS: (Running up.) Oh–here comes the old Sheik now. (Enter the old SHEIK ABU MIRZAH preceded by Persian servant.)

ABU: Ah–ma Rosa Persh–ma waf to be–to-morrow we marry, eh? (The SHEIK carries eartrumpet.)

ROSE: (Running from him in alarm.) Oh, don’t touch me–don’t–don’t! (They are both yelling at each other as MRS. SCHUYLER enters first arch and sees ROSE’S actions–she is flashy–an ex-chorus girl–married to the retiring consul.)

MRS. SCHUYLER: Say, tie a can to that duet. What’s the matter?

ROSE: (Crossing to her.) Oh, Mrs. Schuyler, I won’t marry him–I hate him!

MRS. SCHUYLER: Oh, the poor old prune. (Crossing to ABU, garrulously.) How are you, Sheik? Our little ward, Rose, is so young and foolish! But I was just that innocent when I was in the chorus. When I came out of it, believe me, I was a different woman. (Enter Persian servant.)

SERVANT: The new consul wants to know when we are going to move out–

MRS. SCHUYLER: Not till after Rose’s wedding to-morrow. (ROSE utters exclamation of rage, slaps the SHEIK’S face and exits.) I was just that emotional until I’d been married a few times–Come, Sheik–my husband won’t return from Tabris till this evening–join me in a cocktail. (She illustrates drink in pantomime.)

ABU: (Understanding pantomime.) Yes! Yes! (LETTY and BETTY go up to table and chair C.)

MRS. SCHUYLER: Mousta, two cocktails on my back porch. Come, Sheik–Sheik! (Business with girls.) This way to the dog house. (Takes hold of chain on his ear trumpet and passes him in. Girls have gone off.) Oh–and, Mousta–don’t put any cherries in–they take up too much room in the glass. (She exits one way–Waiter, another.)

(MUSIC. Entrance of men.)

PAUL: (Entering with DUDLEY.) Well, there are some beautiful girls in our new Persian home–has Phil brought our things from the boat? Phil! Phil! (Phil enters with all the luggage.)

PHIL: (Meekly.) Here I am, sir.–

PAUL: (As if brushing mosquitoes away.) Oh gee! these Persian mosquitoes! (Finally kills one on his own face.)

PHIL: (Hungrily.) When are we going to have lunch, sir?

PAUL: Well, there are several little things I want you to do first. (Whacking him on one side of face.) Another mosquito.

PHIL: (Gratefully.) Oh, thank you, sir.

DUDLEY: Paul, you look as if you were mashed on that Madison girl–(Sees mosquito on PHIL’s face.) Another mosquito. (Whacks him on other side of face.)

PHIL: Oh, thank you, sir–I have never seen such extreme kindness. (Both whack him this time–one on each side of face.)

PAUL: Ho! Ho! Two of them this time.

PHIL: Probably twins.

DUDLEY: I’ll go in and see when the retiring consul will move out.

PAUL: All right, and I’ll get a bite of luncheon awhile. (DUDLEY exits.)

PHIL: (Hungrily.) Oh–are you going to have your luncheon alone? (PAUL sees mosquito on PHIL–is about to kill it–PHIL falls back.) Ah–let it live–let it live.

PAUL: Now–you run in the house and take our things out of the grips.

PHIL: Is there any other little thing I can do for you?

PAUL: Not till after I’ve had my lunch.

PHIL: Thank you, sir! (PHIL looks a starved look at him–exits into house–stumbling over bundles.) (ROSE is heard singing off-stage chorus of “My Little Persian Rose"–enters humming.)

PAUL: (As he hears her singing.) It’s Miss Madison–I know her sweet voice!

ROSE: (As she enters and sees PAUL, she stops singing, embarrassed.) Oh, I didn’t know you were here. (The music continues faintly in orchestra.)

PAUL: I’m not–I’m in heaven when I hear you sing.

ROSE: Oh, I hope you don’t mean my singing kills you.

PAUL: No–for then, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be in heaven. What was that song?

ROSE: An old Persian poet taught me the words.

PAUL: (Ardently.) Oh, how I love–those words. Are you going back to America with Mr. and Mrs. Schuyler?

ROSE: (Sadly.) No, I must stay here in Persia.

PAUL: (Forgetting himself.) Hooray!

ROSE: Ah–but you don’t know.

PAUL: Know what?

ROSE: Don’t ask me now–good day, sir. (She courtesies and runs off.)

(Music in orchestra stops.)

PAUL: I wonder what she meant by that?

PHIL: (Rushing on.) I’ve taken out your things. Now, may I eat? (Persian servant enters in haste.)

SERVANT: Oh please, sir, the Sheik has drunk three cocktails, and Mrs. Schuyler says he is disgusting. Quick, get someone to take him home.

PAUL: Phil–do you hear? The Sheik’s disgusting–take him home. (Servants exit.)

PHIL: (As he exits.) Is there any little thing I can do for you?

PAUL: Not just now. (PHIL exits.) The melody of that song haunts me. (He starts to hum it.) (PHIL enters with SHEIK on his shoulders–struggles to get him off. Finally exits with him. As he exits, MRS. SCHUYLER enters first arch.)

MRS. SCHUYLER: I hope he gets the old fool home, all right. (Sees PAUL.) Oho–it looks good to mother. (Business of humming same song.)

PAUL: (Turning and seeing her, with great surprise.) Agnes!

MRS. SCHUYLER: (Startled.) Mercy, where was I Agnes?

PAUL: (Crosses to MRS. SCHUYLER.) Have you forgotten–the summer I met you in Niagara Falls?

MRS. SCHUYLER: Niagara Falls? I must have been on one of my honeymoons–oh, yes–of course–Mr. Morgan. (They shake hands.) You see, I’ve met so many mushy men. (He sighs.) What makes you look so unhappy?

PAUL: I’m in love with a girl.

MRS. SCHUYLER: Only one? Why so economical?

PAUL: Ah–I’m afraid you don’t know what real love is.

MRS. SCHUYLER: Oh, yes I do! Real love is the kind that lasts after you’ve heard a man sleeping right out loud. Who’s the girl?

PAUL: Miss Madison.

MRS. SCHUYLER: (Surprised.) Our Rose? Not on your life. To-morrow, before we return to America, she’s to marry the Abu Mirzah, and nothing can prevent it.

PAUL: (In horror.) She’s being sacrificed to that old mummy–I’ll kill him.

MRS. SCHUYLER: The doctors say he is so strong, nothing can kill him, except his fondness for Persian plums, and there is a mandate out inflicting death upon any man who sends him any. (ROSE enters.)

PAUL: (Crossing to her.) Oh, Miss Madison, I’ve just heard–

MRS. SCHUYLER: Rose–go to the grape arbor at once–I’ll join you there presently. (DUDLEY enters.)

DUDLEY: Say, Paul–I–(Sees MRS. SCHUYLER–with surprise.) Lena–

MRS. SCHUYLER: Du, “Allmaechtiger Strohsach"–where was I Lena?

DUDLEY: Have you forgotten, in Germany, Unter den Linden?

MRS. SCHUYLER: Germany? Oh, the man who made love to me over a plate of frankfurters? Well–well–wie geht’s! Tell me, do you think I’ve grown stouter since the days when I was Lena? (PAUL laughs.)

DUDLEY: Not a bit. (PAUL and ROSE laugh.)

MRS. SCHUYLER: (Seeing ROSE and PAUL in earnest conversation.) Excuse me. (She crosses and grabs ROSE.) Rose, there’s some grape juice waiting for us in the grape arbor. (She sends ROSE off.) (Boys step toward MRS. SCHUYLER.) Boys–later–when Rose has gone, you may come and crush a grape with me in the arbor. (She exits.)

PAUL: Aber nit! Dud, she’s determined to keep us apart–you must help me–go and grab her, and run her off into the house.

DUDLEY: Lena–not much–she once flung a glass at my head.

PAUL: Well, then, where’s Phil? (Calls.) Phil–Phil! (DUDLEY calls also. PHIL rushes on.)

PHIL: Am I going to eat?

PAUL: Quick, go and grab Mrs. Schuyler in the grape arbor.

PHIL: Grab her in the grape arbor?

PAUL: (Pushing them off.) And run her into the house. Quick. (He pushes PHIL off one way.) And you run into the house and hold her there. (Rushes DUDLEY into house.) I’ll run to the grape arbor to join Rose when she’s alone. (He exits.) (PHIL enters, pushing MRS. SCHUYLER toward the house. They enter from grape arbor.)

MRS. SCHUYLER: (Beating him with parasol.) The idea! What’s the meaning of this? You little runt! (Pushing him off.) (Ad lib talk.) Who are you, anyhow?

PHIL: (Turning and seeing her.) Maggie!

MRS. SCHUYLER: (As before.) For the love of the Chambermaids’ Union, where was I Maggie?

PHIL: Don’t you remember when I was a “merry merry” with you in the “Blonde Broilers’ Burlesque” troupe?

MRS. SCHUYLER: Were you one of the Blonde Broilers?

PHIL: Sure, I was the fellow that came out in the last act disguised as a bench.

MRS. SCHUYLER: (Finally remembering him.) Oh, you dear old Benchie! (They embrace.) And I used to come in and sit all over you.

PHIL: That’s how I came to fall in love with you.

MRS. SCHUYLER: A man always thinks more of a woman when she sits on him.

PHIL: Do she?


PHIL: Come and sit on me now.

MRS. SCHUYLER: (Coyly.) Oh, you fascinating devil.

PHIL: Ah, go on–ah, sit on me. (Business of sitting–nearly flopping–finally getting on his knee.)

MRS. SCHUYLER: You’re not the bench you used to be!

PHIL: You’re not the sitter you used to be.

MRS. SCHUYLER: Remember the night you let me flop?

PHIL: I couldn’t get into my part at all that night. I kept saying to myself: Phillip, be a bench, be a bench; but when I felt you near me, all the benchiness left me. When you sat on me, I put my arms about you, like this. (Does so.)

MRS. SCHUYLER: Ah–how it all comes back to me now! When you would put your arms about me, I would close my eyes and make believe it was Otis Skinner. (Business.)

PHIL: And then before all the crowd, I kissed you so. (He illustrates as PAUL enters with ROSE from arbor.)

PAUL: (Seeing PHIL and MRS. SCHUYLER.) Well–(They break apart.) I’m surprised!

MRS. SCHUYLER: (Works PHIL around to hide him first, then turns him around to PAUL.) You wouldn’t be if you were as used to it as I am.

PAUL: (Aside to PHIL.) What did I tell you to do?

(PHIL seizes MRS. SCHUYLER and runs her into house–she saying: "What’s the idea,” etc., till off.) (Sunset falls upon scene.)

SONG–PAUL and ROSE–"My Little Persian Rose.” (ROSE exits at end of song.)

PAUL: (Left alone.) I won’t let her marry him. (A girl passes, crying out “Persian Plums–who will buy?”)

PAUL: Persian Plums–Mrs. Schuyler said the old Sheik had such a passion for them, they might prove his death. Here! Girl–let me have a basket. (Hands her a roll of money.) There! (As he comes down with plums, the girl exits.) But she said whoever was caught sending him any would suffer the penalty of death. (Gets idea and calls off.) Phil–Phil! (Moonlight effect. As PHIL enters, anxiously, PAUL extends the basket of plums to him.)

PHIL: (Taking plums, greedily.) Oh thanks, I was starving–

PAUL: (Stopping him as he is about to eat.) Here–here–they’re not for you. Quick–take them to the palace of the old Sheik Abu Mirzah.

PHIL: But I left him asleep in his bed, sir.

PAUL: Well, place them where he’ll see them when he wakes, and (ominously) don’t let anyone catch you with them, for the country is full of revolutionists and it might mean death.

PHIL: (Trembling.) My death! Is there any other little thing I can do for you?

PAUL: No. (Several pistol shots are heard. PHIL drops plums and starts to run into house. PAUL catches him by the hair–business.) You coward! I’m surprised! Go to the Palace of the Abu Mirzah. (He places basket in PHIL’s hands.) Go!

(As PHIL backs off with plums, he bumps into a fierce looking Persian who enters. PHIL starts and has comedy exit. The Persian is the Emir Shahrud, who has disguised himself as DOWLEH the chef. DOWLEH grinds his teeth at PAUL, who runs off.)

(DOWLEH sneaks over to house mysteriously–sees someone coming, and then runs and hides behind rosebush.)

(Now, moonlight floods scene. MRS. SCHUYLER enters in evening gown with LETTY and BETTY. Waiter enters and sets two tables.)

MRS. SCHUYLER: Turn up the lights!

LETTY: Our last night in Persia.

MRS. SCHUYLER: I’ve ordered my “paflouka” out here. (MRS. SCHUYLER crosses to rosebush and, DOWLER jumps out at her.) Mercy–how you scared me!

DOWLEH: Fatima!

MRS. SCHUYLER: Now, I’m a cigarette!

DOWLEH: You are cruel to me–the noble Prince of Persia, who just to be near you, disguised himself as a cook.

MRS. SCHUYLER: Prince, I eat your cooking–that’s kind enough.

DOWLEH: (Business.) Yes, I love you so that one day I hear a lady say you paint your face–I put a secret poison in her food–she took one taste–in ten seconds, she die.

MRS. SCHUYLER: It serves her right for telling the truth.

DOWLEH: Come! Fly with me!

MRS. SCHUYLER: Oh Prince, I’ve flown so much in my days, there isn’t another flap left in me. (Throws him off.) Go–serve my "paflouka!”

DOWLEH: You throw me down–very well–I will be revenged. (Grinds his teeth in her ear.) Mmmm-ha!

MRS. SCHUYLER: (With start, holding ear.) He bit me. (The girls come down as DOWLEH goes off bumping into DUDLEY, who enters in dress clothes–he swears at DUDLEY, in Persian and exits.)

DUDLEY: (To MRS. SCHUYLER.) Oh Lena–if it’s you that has made him mad, I’d advise you not to taste any of his food again.


DUDLEY: I just heard he’s under suspicion of having put poison in a lady’s food, which killed her in ten seconds.

MRS. SCHUYLER: Ten seconds! Then it was true. (Waiter enters with "paftouka.”) Oh my beautiful paflouka–and it smells so good.

DUDLEY: But Lena–you daren’t touch it unless you get someone to try it first.

MRS. SCHUYLER: Will you?

DUDLEY: Excuse me. (She turns to the three–they all decline.)

MRS. SCHUYLER: Oh, if heaven would only send some unsuspecting imbecile to taste my paflouka for me–(PHIL backs on from grape arbor–looking to see if he’s being followed.) Heaven has sent it hither. (She steps PHIL’s way. As he bumps into her, he starts.) Hello!

PHIL: (After start.) Hello.

MRS. SCHUYLER: Why, what’s the matter?

PHIL: Oh, I’m faint–for food.

MRS. SCHUYLER: (Aside to others.) Oh, it’s a shame to do it. (To PHIL.) How would you like to “paflouka” with me?

PHIL: (After business.) No–before I do anything else, I must eat.

MRS. SCHUYLER: To “paflouka” is to eat.

PHIL: Well–hurry–let’s do it.

MRS. SCHUYLER: (To waiter.) Now, Mousta place my “rakoush” before him.

PHIL: (As waiter places soup and roll before him.) Oh, it looks like soup.

MRS. SCHUYLER: (Crossing to him.) I always start with something hot.

PHIL: (Takes spoonful.) It is soup! (As he goes for second spoonful, they hold his hand.)

WARNING: Could not break paragraph: MRS. SCHUYLER: (Counting.) One–two–three–four–five–six– seven–eight–nine–ten–(Looking at him.) How do you feel?

PHIL: (Completely puzzled.) Well, I can’t say I feel just full yet.

DUDLEY: Go on, take a bite of roll.

PHIL: Thank you! (He takes one bite–as he goes for second bite, DUDLEY holds his hand–as they all count ten. Looking from one to another.) Say, what is this–a prize fight?

MRS. SCHUYLER: (Looking at him closely.) (DUDLEY takes roll from PHIL.) It’s all right–he still lives–I feel better now.

PHIL: I’m glad of that. (He starts to take another spoonful of soup.)

MRS. SCHUYLER: Mousta, bring my rakoush. (Just as PHIL gets spoon to mouth, MOUSTA grabs it out of his hand and crosses with soup and roll to MRS. SCHUYLER, saying to PHIL in Persian: “Rekkra milta suss.”)

PHIL: Say, isn’t there some mistake? I understood that was my rakoush.

MRS. SCHUYLER: No, dear boy–it’s ours. (She starts to eat.)

PHIL: I guess that’s what they call to paflouka.

MRS. SCHUYLER: Oh, it tastes good.

PHIL: It sounds good.

MRS. SCHUYLER: Now, Mousta, my bird and salad. (He exits.)

PHIL: I hope the bird’s an ostrich. (He hears MRS. SCHUYLER drink soup.) (Enter MOUSTA–crosses with bird to MRS. SCHUYLER.)

MRS. SCHUYLER: No–place it before him.

PHIL: Yes–put it down–put it down.

MRS. SCHUYLER: No one can cook a bird like Princey.

PHIL: A bird? It looks like an insect! (He sees them approaching him as before and grabbing the bird in his hand starts to make off with it–they seize him and throw him into chair.)

PHIL: (As DUDLEY snatches bird from him.) Say, what kind of a game is this anyhow?

MRS. SCHUYLER: I’ll explain. The chef is enraged at me, and as he’s under suspicion of having put poison in a lady’s food that killed her in ten seconds–

PHIL: (Jumping up in alarm.) Poison?

MRS. SCHUYLER: (With DUDLEY’S help setting him down again.) Yes, so we got you to try my food on–

PHIL: Oh, I see–I’m the dog.

DUDLEY: Precisely. Now go on–taste that bird.

PHIL: No, thanks–I’ve had enough.

ALL: (Together.) Go on–commence! (Business of making him taste bird.)


PHIL: (Finishing counting for her.) Two–(To nine.) (As he reaches ten, he sneezes.)

MRS. SCHUYLER: I’m afraid to look. (Business of PHIL tasting bird, then getting idea of pretending to be poisoned, he commences to get a fit.) Help! Bring a chair! (They finally get his feet on chair.) Well, we got him on the chair anyhow.

DUDLEY: He’s poisoned–

LETTY and BETTY: We’ve killed him.

MRS. SCHUYLER: Come on–let’s beat it–(They all run off. PHIL gets up to grab all the food, when DUDLEY is heard off, calling "Lena."–He flops back with a jump to same dead position on floor. Finally gets up, grabs all the food and exits. MRS. SCHUYLER re-enters.)

MRS. SCHUYLER: He’s gone and he’s taken all the food with him. Quick, Mousta, clear away all these things. (Paul enters.)

PAUL: Mrs. Schuyler, I’m really in love with Rose. (DOWLEH enters now in Persian dress clothes.)

DOWLEH: Ah, Fatima–can I see you alone? (DUDLEY enters.)

DUDLEY: Oh, Lena, could I see you alone?

MRS. SCHUYLER: If any more turn up, I’ll scream. (LETTY and BETTY run on, carrying a note.)

LETTY: An important letter.

MRS. SCHUYLER: (Opening it.) From my husband.

BETTY: I’m afraid it’s bad news.

MRS. SCHUYLER: Bad news! P’raps he’s coming home earlier than I expected. (Reads:) “Dear Becky!”


MRS. SCHUYLER: Yes, we met at Arverne! “I have heard of your carrying on with four old sweethearts: Had it been one, I would have killed him quietly and let the matter drop, but four are too many. I shall kill them all and divorce you. Expect me at ten.–Hamilton.” Oh, gentlemen, this is awful–Hamilton is unlike most men–he means what he says–

PAUL: (Following.) But surely you can find a few more to help us defend ourselves.

MRS. SCHUYLER: Ah, you don’t know Hamilton. When he’s angry, an army couldn’t withstand him.

DOWLEH: If your husband kills, I will kill him.

MRS. SCHUYLER: Ah, that doesn’t worry me–but he may cut my allowance.

DUDLEY: (Following.) We must save you from such a fate.

MRS. SCHUYLER: Save me? You could! If there was one among you brave enough to say: “I am the only guy here ever loved your wife. Kill me, but don’t cut her allowance.”

MEN: (Going up stage.) Excuse me! (Waiter enters with straws in glass, from arbor.)

MRS. SCHUYLER: Ah–straws–the very thing–gentlemen. (Takes them out of glasses.) Come–choose–whoever has the shortest straw is to show his courage and die for me–who is it? Who is it? (PHIL enters–they see him–drop straws–and seize him.)

PAUL: Phil!

MEN: Ah! Welcome to our city. Welcome! Welcome!

PHIL: Is there any little thing I can do for you?

MRS. SCHUYLER: Yes. My husband will be here at any moment to kill these gentlemen and divorce me. You can save us all by saying you are the only old sweetheart of mine here.

PHIL: Excuse me!

MRS. SCHUYLER: Oh, Benchie! Think of your bench days when I used to sit on you–

PHIL: If you’d only sit on me now, I’d feel safer–

PAUL: Now don’t be a fool. When he comes, say: “I am the only man here ever had an affair with your wife. What have you to say about it?”

ALL: (Together.) Repeat that now.

PHIL: (In terror.) I am the only man here ever had anything to do with your wife–just like that. (An automobile horn heard.)

GIRLS: Oh, here he is–(They run off. Business of men holding PHIL and finally rushing off as an enormous figure in Persian "get-up” enters.)

MRS. SCHUYLER: (Picking up PHIL.) Benchie, it’s sweet and accommodating of you to die for these three gentlemen–a favor I shan’t forget. (From behind the Persian giant steps a midget in swell citizen clothes)–"It’s Hamilton–(Mrs. Schuyler picks him up and kisses him.) Oh, Hamilton-I’m so glad you’ve come. (Crossing to Persian.) And Nehmid Duckin–it is an honor to have the prime minister with us. I’ll go for a stroll with you and come back when (Turning to husband) you’re through with this gentleman.

NEHMID: (In deep voice.) Is he the one?

MRS. SCHUYLER: Yes–you’re looking great. (Takes his arm.)

NEHMID: So are you! (In deep tones to PHIL.) And now sir, you explain. (Exits with Mrs. Schuyler.) (PHIL stands in terror, thinking a powerful foe stands behind him. In reality, it is the midget husband. PHIL tries to talk. At first he cannot.)

PHIL: (After comedy biz.) I have a wife with an affair–I mean an affair with your wife–what have you to say about it?

MR. SCHUYLER: (In piping voice.) I’m very angry. (PHIL starts–looks up to see where voice comes from–doesn’t see anyone–walks and bumps into HAMILTON–rolls up his sleeves.)

PHIL: (Bravely.) What have you to say about it? (Slaps his hand over his mouth.) Don’t say a word–I’ve been waiting for something like you to show up. (He backs HAMILTON off–his hand on his face.)

FINALE: (During this, ROSE enters in bridal costume to be wed to SHEIK. Servant enters announcing his death from eating Persian Plums.

SONG: “Who Sent These Persian Plums?”

Then, final meeting and happiness of lovers and comedy characters and picture as “My Little Persian Rose” is repeated for





Author of “Love Blossoms,” “Cohen from Bridgeport," "Before and After,” Monologues for Nat M. Wills, Joe Welch, Etc., Etc., Author and Publisher "Madison’s Budget.”



OLD BLACK JOE . . . . . . . . An ex-slave, eighty years of age
ARTHUR MAYNARD. . . . . . . . . Owner of a Kentucky Plantation
VIOLA MAYNARD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . His Daughter
CHARLIE DOOLITTLE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Her Sweetheart
EDGAR TREMBLE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . With a heart of stone
MRS. ALICE WILSON. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A frail widow
HARVEY SLICK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . An adventurer
FELIX FAKE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . His assistant
CHLORINDA SOURGRASS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . A lady of color
MAGGIE, MABEL, GERTIE. . . . . . . . . . . . Invited Guests

SCENE: Garden of ARTHUR MAYNARD’S plantation. Landscape backing. Set house at left with practical veranda (if possible). Wood wings at right. Set tree up stage at right behind which old pocketbook containing a number of greenbacks is concealed. Bench in front of tree. Pedestal up stage at left, dog-house at right.

DISCOVERED: (At rise of curtain an invisible CHORUS is heard singing "My Old Kentucky Home.” Then GOLDIE and other invited girl friends come on stage and sing a MEDLEY OF POPULAR CHORUSES. At conclusion of medley, VIOLA enters from house.)

VIOLA: Girls, do you know why I’ve invited you all today?

FANNIE: To tell us that you’re engaged to be married.

VIOLA: Nothing so fortunate. This is my father’s birthday, and I’ve arranged a little celebration in his honor, and I want you all to participate.

LOTTIE: We won’t do a thing but enjoy ourselves.

VIOLA: But there’s one dark cloud, girls.

(CHLORINDA enters from house.)

TILLIE: Yes, here comes the dark cloud now.

VIOLA: The dark cloud I refer to is Mrs. Wilson, who calls herself a widow and who has been hanging around father for the last few months in the hope that he’ll make her Mrs. Maynard number two.

DORA: The hussy!

MAGGIE: The cat!

VIOLA: I wouldn’t care if she loved father, but I suspect that all she’s after is his money.

CHLORINDA: His mazuma.

GERTIE: Get on to the African Jew!

LOTTIE: Any woman that wants to fool your father has to get up early in the morning.

VIOLA: Mrs. Wilson sometimes looks as if she stays up all night. (All girls laugh.)

VIOLA: If she only knew that the old plantation is mortgaged up to the roof, I guess she wouldn’t be so anxious about marrying father.

VIOLA: (To CHLORINDA.) Well, Chlorinda, what brings you out here?

CHLORINDA: I jes’ came out to say dat refreshments am ready in de house if de young ladies am thirsty or hungry.

(CHORUS by ladies of company, then they exit into house. VIOLA remains on stage.)

(CHARLIE DOOLITTLE enters from R. and stealing up softly behind VIOLA, puts his hands over her eyes.)

CHARLIE: Guess who it is?

VIOLA: Is it a human being?

CHARLIE: (Effeminately.) Why, I like that! Of course, it is.

VIOLA: It’s Lottie.


VIOLA: Then it’s Fanny.


VIOLA: Then it must be Lillie.

CHARLIE: No; you silly goose, it’s Charlie.

VIOLA: (In disgust.) I thought you said it was a human being?

CHARLIE: Just for that you must sit down on the bench and give me a kiss.

VIOLA: Wait a minute till I go into the house and get a veil. The sunlight hurts my eyes. (She exits at L.)

CHARLIE: (Moving towards R.) That will just give me time to go into the grove and smoke a cigarette. (Exits.)

(Enter CHLORINDA from house. She has a green veil on, which hides her face; she sits down on bench.)

CHLORINDA: Ebery wench on dis plantation has got a fellah ’ceptin me, so I went to a fortune tellah an’ she said Ah should sit on dis heah bench ebery day and ah nice fellah would come along. Well, I’se been doing it now for ovah a month an’ Ah habent seen no nice fellah yet; in fact, Ah habent seen a fellah of any kind.

(Enter CHARLIE from R.)

CHARLIE: Ah, there, my sugar plum.

CHLORINDA: Ain’t he jes’ too sweet for anything?

CHARLIE: So you love your baby?

CHLORINDA: ’Deed I do, honey.

CHARLIE: Then lay your beautiful head on my manly breast and let me pour sweet words of love into your ear.

CHLORINDA: Go to it, kiddo. (Business of CHARLIE petting CHLORINDA.)

CHARLIE: And now, ain’t you going to, give me a nice, sweet kiss, darling?

CHLORINDA: Help yourself to as many as you want.

(CHLORINDA lifts veil just enough to let CHARLIE touch her lips. He does not, however, notice that she is colored, and is busily engaged hugging and kissing her, as VIOLA enters from house; she is very much surprised.)

VIOLA: Charlie Doolittle, what does this mean? (CHLORINDA raises her veil, then laughs and runs into house.)

CHARLIE: (Discovering his error.) Why, my dear, it’s all a mistake; I thought–that is to say–er–

VIOLA: I’m not surprised at your embarrassment. The idea of making love to our colored cook the minute my back is turned.

CHARLIE: If you’ll just let me explain–

VIOLA: Explain nothing. I’m going to tell my father how you’ve insulted me. He doesn’t like you, anyhow, and if he ever catches you on the premises, your life won’t be worth 23 cents in Confederate money. (VIOLA exits into house.)

CHARLIE: Ain’t she the exasperating creature! I declare, she’s made me so peevish, I could crush a grape. The idea of telling me her father doesn’t like me. Why shouldn’t he like me? (ARTHUR MAYNARD appears in back-ground unnoticed by CHARLIE.) But, anyhow, I’m not afraid of her father. Why, if he were to stand before me right at this moment, I’d–

MAYNARD: (Stepping suddenly to the front.) Well, what would you do?

CHARLIE: I’d run like the devil. (Runs off stage at R.)

MAYNARD: I’m going to keep that disgusting fellow off the premises if I have to notify the dog-catcher. (Notices pedestal.) Ever since a tornado knocked that statue off its pedestal, this garden has looked rather bare, so I’ve put an advertisement into the newspaper, offering five hundred dollars for a suitable statue to take its place.

(Mrs. Wilson enters from R. and coughs gently to attract MR. MAYNARD’S attention.)

MAYNARD: (Turning around.) Why, Mrs. Wilson!

MRS. WILSON: Good morning, Mr. Maynard!

(Both talking at the same time.) This is indeed a surprise. I did not expect to see you as early as this. How are you feeling? Good? That’s good. Lovely day, isn’t it?

MAYNARD: I have often wanted to ask you, Mrs. Wilson, where is your husband?

MRS. WILSON: I don’t know.

MAYNARD: What’s that, you don’t know where your husband is?

MRS. WILSON: No; you see, he is dead–

MAYNARD: (Laughingly.) I understand. Did he leave you much?

MRS. WILSON: Yes, nearly every night.

MAYNARD: No, no; I mean, did he leave you any property?

MRS. WILSON: Yes, five small children, and believe me, Mr. Maynard, it’s hard to lose a husband when you have five children. Do you think I ought to get another?

MAYNARD: No; I think five are enough.

MRS. WILSON: I see you will have your joke.

MAYNARD: Are you fond of horses?

MRS. WILSON: I love horses.

MAYNARD: Well, come down to the stable and I’ll show you some of the finest thoroughbreds you ever looked at. (They both exit Right I.)

(Enter HARVEY SLICK and FELIX FAKE at centre; HARVEY carries a heavy blackthorn walking stick.)

HARVEY: Now remember, you’re a statue.

FELIX: You’re a liar.

HARVEY: Don’t call me a liar.

FELIX: Then don’t call me a statue.

HARVEY: Don’t you understand, the guy what owns this plantation offers five hundred dollars for a statue and I’ve come to get the money.

FELIX: But what have I got to do with all this?

HARVEY: You’re the statue.

FELIX: Go on; I never was a statue in my life.

HARVEY: All you have to do is to get on that pedestal and stand perfectly still.

FELIX: Oh, I just have to stand perfectly still.

HARVEY: That’s the idea. Don’t move a muscle.

FELIX: But suppose a fly hops on my nose?

HARVEY: Don’t notice it.

FELIX: Or suppose some bad boys throw stones at me?

HARVEY: Why, my boy, simply don’t notice it.

FELIX: I don’t think I want the job.

HARVEY: Why, of course you do. The figure you are to represent is called “Ajax defying the lightning.”

FELIX: Oh, a jackass defying the lightning.

HARVEY: No, Ajax; but look sharp, for here comes Mr. Maynard now. Quick, jump on the pedestal.

(HARVEY hands stick to FELIX, who quickly jumps on pedestal and poses in funny position, as Maynard enters from right.)

MAYNARD: (To HARVEY.) Well, sir, what can I do for you?

HARVEY: You advertised for a statue, I believe.

MAYNARD: I did, sir.

HARVEY: Well, I think I’ve got just what you want–"a jackass defying the lightning.”

MAYNARD: What’s that?

HARVEY: Excuse me, I mean “Ajax.” (Aside, and pointing to FELIX.) That son of a gun has got me talking that way now.

MAYNARD: I’ll be pleased to look at your statue.

HARVEY: (Pointing to FELIX on pedestal.) Here it is, sir.

MAYNARD: (After surveying it critically.) What material is the statue made of?

HARVEY: Brass–pure brass.

MAYNARD: I think the statue will suit me except that the nose is a bit too long.

HARVEY: Well, you can easily take off a piece with a hammer and chisel.

MAYNARD: Why, so I can. But here’s another objection. Suppose thieves come around some night and steal the statue?

HARVEY: All you have to do is to bore a hole through one of its legs, pass a chain through it and fasten to the pedestal. (FELIX works up this situation by comic mugging.)

MAYNARD: A very good idea. How much do you want for the statue?

HARVEY: Five hundred dollars.

MAYNARD: That’s a lot of money, but I think I shall buy it anyhow.

HARVEY: Well, just hand over the five hundred, and the statue is yours. (MAYNARD and HARVEY move to a position in front of the statue. MAYNARD takes a roll of bills from his pocket and in handling them, drops one. As he bends forward to pick it up, FELIX pokes him with the stick, knocking him over frontwards. MAYNARD thinks HARVEY has kicked him.)

MAYNARD: (To Harvey.) What do you mean by kicking me, sir?

HARVEY: Why, I didn’t kick you.

MAYNARD: If I hadn’t set my heart on owning the statue, I’d call the deal off right now.

HARVEY: (Starting to get a bit angry.) I tell you I didn’t kick you.

MAYNARD: Well, don’t do it again. Here’s your money. (MAYNARD hands HARVEY roll of bills, who counts it and lets the last bill fall on stage. In stooping to pick it up, FELIX pokes HARVEY, causing him to fall over frontwards. HARVEY thinks MAYNARD has kicked him.)

HARVEY: (To MAYNARD.) A joke’s a joke, but this is going entirely too far.

MAYNARD: What on earth are you talking about?

HARVEY: You just kicked me.

MAYNARD: I didn’t.

HARVEY: You did.

MAYNARD: I didn’t.

FELIX: Shut up.

MAYNARD and HARVEY: (Both talking together.)

Don’t tell me to shut up. I didn’t tell you to shut up. Well, somebody did.

HARVEY: I’m awful thirsty.

MAYNARD: I’ll go into the house and get you a glass of wine.

FELIX: Well, hurry up about it.

MAYNARD: (Thinking HARVEY spoke.) I never heard such impudence in all my life. Why, the idea!

(Exits into house.)

FELIX: Yes, the idea.

HARVEY: Well, I got the old fool’s money all right.

FELIX: Where’s my share?

HARVEY: (Laughing.) Now, who ever heard of a statue having mo-non-ey.

FELIX: But you promised me half of the five hundred dollars.

HARVEY: Well, suppose I did; you don’t expect me to keep my word, do you? You’d be a pretty looking sight, carrying two hundred and fifty dollars around with you. Why, I’d have to lay for you in some dark alley and take it away from you. I want you to understand that I’m the wise guy of this combination and if you want any of my money, you’ve got to take it away from me. (HARVEY has taken a position just in front of FELIX, who is still on the pedestal. FELIX slips his hand slyly into HARVEY’S pocket and takes all the money.)

HARVEY: (Moving to centre exit.) Well, so long, Felix, so long, and remember, Felix, that money is the root of all evil.

(HARVEY exits.)

FELIX: (Holding up roll of bills.) Well, I’ve extracted some of the root all right, all right. (FELIX exits at right.)

(Big SINGING NUMBER by VIOLA and ladies of company.)

(Then, MR. MAYNARD enters from the house.)

GOLDIE: In behalf of all your friends who are assembled here today, Mr. Maynard, I want to congratulate you on your birthday anniversary.

MAYNARD: Ah, thank you, ladies, I appreciate your good wishes very much.

DORA: I hope you will live to be a hundred years old.

MAYNARD: (Laughing.) I hope so–but why should the Lord take me for a hundred when he can get me at 70?

(OLD BLACK JOE comes ambling in from Right to melody of “Old Black Joe.”)

MAYNARD: Well, Old Black Joe, how are you feeling today?

JOE: Well, Massa, I’se got rheumatiz in the lef’ shoulder–an’ de lumbago in mah back–an’ I don’ hear very well–an’ ma teeth am troubling me some–an’ mah eyes is going back on me–an’ mah stomach ain’t as good as it used to be–but otherwise, Massa, I’se feelin’ as sound as a nut.

MAYNARD: What can I do for you, Old Black Joe?

JOE: Massa, my mind ain’t as clear like it used ter be, but der’s one thing I ain’t never forgotten, and dat is your birthday university, so I’d feel powerful flattered if you would accept these few flowers what I picked myself. (Hands MAYNARD small bouquet.)

MAYNARD: Of all the many gifts I will receive to-day, Old Black Joe, there is none that I will treasure more highly than these flowers.

JOE: Ah, thank you, Massa, thank you.

(OLD BLACK JOE exits to melody of “Old Black Joe.”)

GOLDIE: I never could understand, Mr. Maynard, why you always make such a fuss about that nigger, Old Black Joe.

MAYNARD: Old Black Joe may have a black skin, but he’s got a white heart and I’ll cherish and protect him as long as I have a roof over my head.

GOLDIE: One would think that he had done you some great favor, Mr. Maynard.

MAYNARD: He more than did me a favor. He once saved my life.

CHORUS OF GIRLS: Tell us about it.

MAYNARD: (To melodramatic music.) It was during the days of ’61, when brother fought against brother and the Blue was striving to overpower the Grey. On this very plantation, while hardly more than a lad, I was attacked and badly wounded and would have fallen into the hands of the enemy if it had not been for Old Black Joe, who, at the risk of his own life, carried me to a place of safety and nursed me back to health again.

CHORUS OF LADIES: Three cheers for Old Black Joe.

(SONG by Ladies–all exit.)

(Enter CHARLIE at centre.)

CHARLIE: I’m crazy about Viola, but I know she will never marry me unless her father gives his consent. If I only knew a way to win him over. Ah, here comes Chlorinda. Perhaps she can help me.

(Enter CHLORINDA from house.)

CHARLIE: Hello, Chlorinda.

CHLORINDA: Miss Sourgrass, if you please.

CHARLIE: What’s the matter with Chlorinda?

CHLORINDA: I only allows gentlemen I’se well acquainted with to call me Chlorinda.

CHARLIE: Well then, Miss Sourgrass, do you want to earn a dollar?

CHLORINDA: What’s the matter with it?

CHARLIE: There’s nothing the matter with it. You see, I’m in love with Viola Maynard, but her father doesn’t like me. Now, if you can fix things up so her father will accept me as a son-in-law, I will give you a dollar.

CHLORINDA: Jes leave it to me and in half an hour he’ll be so tickled to see you that he’ll put his arms around your neck and kiss you.

CHARLIE: That will be splendid.

CHLORINDA: The dollar, please.

CHARLIE: I never pay in advance.

CHLORINDA: No dollar, no kisses.

CHARLIE: (Handing her a dollar.) Oh, very well, but see that you do as you promise.

CHLORINDA: Leave it to me.

(CHARLIE exits at right.)

(MR. MAYNARD enters from house.)

CHLORINDA: Did you hear what happened to Charlie Doolittle?

MAYNARD: I suppose he took a pinch of snuff and blew his brains out.

CHLORINDA: Goodness no; guess again.

MAYNARD: No, I won’t. I’m not at all interested in that addlepated, monkey-faced nincompoop. He’s after my daughter, but he shall never marry her. Why, if wives could be supported for fifty cents a year, that empty-headed specimen of vacuous mentality couldn’t even keep a cock-roach from starving.

CHLORINDA: Don’t say dat, massa, for Charlie’s uncle has jes’ died an’ left him fifty thousand dollars.

MAYNARD: (Very much astonished.) How much did you say?

CHLORINDA: Five hundred thousand dollars.

MAYNARD: Five hundred thousand dollars?

CHLORINDA: Yes, sah; five million dollars?

MAYNARD: I always did like Charlie.

CHLORINDA: But you jes’ said–

MAYNARD: Never mind what I just said. I was only joking. Here’s a dollar to keep your mouth shut.

(MAYNARD hands CHLORINDA a dollar.)

CHLORlNDA: Yes, sah.

MAYNARD: I consider Charlie Doolittle an exceptionally bright young man, and even if he didn’t have a dollar in the world I would still consider him an excellent match for my daughter.

CHLORINDA: But you jes’ said he couldn’t even support a cock-roach.

MAYNARD: Never mind about that. Here’s another dollar. (Hands CHLORINDA another dollar.) And now, if you see Charlie Doolittle, tell him I want to see him right away.

CHLORINDA: Yes, sah. (She exits at right.)

MAYNARD: (Looking at empty pedestal.) I wonder what became of the statue? I guess Chlorinda carried it into the barn because it looks like rain. (Enter CHARLIE from right. He coughs to attract MAYNARD’S attention.)

CHARLIE: Are you very angry at me, Mr. Maynard?

MAYNARD: Angry at you, Charlie? Why, how can you only imagine such a thing? Have a cigar.

CHARLIE: (Accepting the cigar with misgivings.) It isn’t loaded with dynamite, is it?

MAYNARD: Certainly not. I give you the cigar because I like you, Charlie, and I always have liked you.

CHARLIE: It’s very kind of you to say that. (During these speeches, FELIX has sneaked back on the pedestal, still carrying the blackthorn stick.)

MAYNARD: You have only to say the word and you can have anything I’ve got.

CHARLIE: Can I have your daughter?

MAYNARD: Why certainly, Charlie. Just say the word and she’s yours.

CHARLIE: It all seems like a dream. (Business of FELIX hitting MAYNARD on hat with stick and smashing it in. MAYNARD thinks CHARLIE did it.)

MAYNARD: Now see here, Charlie, as my future son-in-law, I want you to feel perfectly at home here, but there’s such a thing as carrying things too far.

CHARLIE: Why, Mr. Maynard, what do you mean?

MAYNARD: I saw you smash my hat just now, Charlie.

CHARLIE: I didn’t smash your hat.

MAYNARD: You didn’t smash my hat?

CHARLIE: No; I didn’t smash your hat.

MAYNARD: Well, somebody did. However, as I was about to remark, you have but to name the day and I’ll give my daughter a wedding that will–(FELIX smashes CHARLIE’S hat with stick. CHARLIE thinks MAYNARD did it.)

CHARLIE: Now, see here, Mr. Maynard, I may have straw-colored hair and wear a number fourteen collar, but I object–I very seriously object to having anybody crush my hat.

MAYNARD: I didn’t crush your hat.

CHARLIE: I saw you.

MAYNARD: (Getting very angry and shaking fist in CHARLIE’S face.) You say you saw me crush your hat?

CHARLIE: (Backing water.) Well, I thought I saw you.

MAYNARD: (Mollified once more.) Well, that’s different. However, it really isn’t worth talking about. You know that all I want in this world is to see you happy.

CHARLIE: Then perhaps you can lend me fifty dollars.

MAYNARD: Lend you fifty dollars? Why certainly. Here you are. (Hands CHARLIE the money.) No doubt, you’ll be able to pay me back when you receive the money that was left you in the will.

CHARLIE: What will?

MAYNARD: Why, the will of your uncle.

CHARLIE: What uncle?

MAYNARD: What uncle? Why, your millionaire uncle who just died and left you all his money.

CHARLIE: I never had a millionaire uncle and nobody has left me a penny.

MAYNARD: (Wiping perspiration off his face.) What; then you are not a rich man?

CHARLIE: Rich; why, that fifty dollars you just gave me is every penny I’ve got in this world.

MAYNARD: (Getting excited.) Oh you fraud, you deceiver, you disgraceful beggar; I’ve a great mind to–(Raises fist as if to strike CHARLIE.)

CHARLIE: (Rushing off at right.) Assistance. Assistance!

(HARVEY comes in at centre and stands in background ground; FELIX is still on pedestal.)

MAYNARD: There is only one way to keep that disgusting dude off the premises. I’ll get a savage dog if it costs me a thousand dollars. (Exits into house.)

HARVEY: (To FELIX, who steps off pedestal.) You hear that?

FELIX: Hear what?

HARVEY: He wants a savage dog.

FELIX: Well, suppose he does?

HARVEY: You’re the dog.

FELIX: What?

HARVEY: You’re the dog.

FELIX: Say, what’s tbe matter with you anyhow? First I was a statue and now I’m a dog. Next I suppose I’ll be an automobile or a bag of peanuts.

HARVEY: That’s all right. Pass yourself off as the dog and we’ll divide the thousand dollars between us.

FELIX: Yes, you’ll get nine hundred and ninety-nine and I’ll get the balance.

HARVEY: Nonsense; I’ll only take what is right.

FELIX: And I’ll have to take what is left.

HARVEY: For the love of Mike be reasonable. This is the chance of a lifetime.

FELIX: I’ll impersonate the dog if you get me something to eat.

HARVEY: What do you want to eat for?

FELIX: I’m starving.

HARVEY: All right, it’s a bargain. You impersonate the savage dog and I’ll see that you’re well fed. (Both exit at centre.)

(Enter MRS. WILSON, from right.)

MRS. WILSON: I must force a proposal of marriage out of Mr. Maynard today yet. It’s true I don’t love him, but he’s got lots of money, and money is everything in this world.

(Enter CHLORINDA from house, crying.)

MRS. WILSON: Why Chlorinda, what’s the matter?

CHLORINDA: I’se just been down to the cemetery.

MRS. WILSON: Well, you ought to laugh.

CHLORINDA: Why, why should I laugh?

MRS. WILSON: It’s the people who are in the cemetery and cannot get out who ought to be crying.

CHLORINDA: Dat’s all very well, Mrs. Wilson, but I jes’ copied some of de inscriptions off de tombstones, and I tells you I feels awful mournful about it.

MRS. WILSON: I don’t see why you should feel sad, Chlorinda.

CHLORINDA: You don’t? Well, jes’ listen to some of dese. (Reads from a stack of cards, one tombstone inscription being written on each card.)

“Here lies the body of Michael Burke, who lost his life while dodging work.”

“I loved my mother, I hated to leave her, but what can you do with the typhoid fever? “

“Mamma loves Papa, and Papa loves women; Mamma saw Papa with two girls in swimmin’.”

“Here lies the mother of 28; there might have been more, but now it’s too late.”

“Shed a few tears for Matty Mack, a trolley car hit her a slap in the back.”

“Here lies my poor wife much lamented. She’s happy and–well, I am contented.”

“Here lies the body of Martin Brown. He was blown in the air and he never came down.”

“Willie Greene, sad regrets–aged 9–cigarettes.”

(Enter MR. MAYNARD from house.)

MAYNARD: Won’t you step inside the house, Mrs. Wilson–I mean Alice–and have a glass of birthday punch with the other ladies?

MRS. WILSON: Delighted, I’m sure. (Exits into house.)

CHLORINDA: Won’t I get punch, too?

MAYNARD: Yes, if you don’t get back to your work, you’ll get a punch in the jaw in about another minute.

MAYNARD: I hope some one comes along soon with a savage dog. I’d rather go to Charlie Doolittle’s funeral than to a picnic. (Looks off toward house.) Ah, there is Mrs. Wilson. How beautiful she is. I think this is my golden chance to propose to her. (Exits into house.)

(Enter HARVEY at centre, pulling FELIX in by chain fastened around his neck. FELIX now wears a dog’s head and body.)

HARVEY: (Aside to FELIX.) Now remember, all you have got to do is to act like a savage dog, and after I collect the money from Mr. Maynard, you’ll get yours.

FELIX: (Removing dog’s head.) I hope I don’t get it where I’ve got this collar.

HARVEY: Oh, you’ll get it all right.

FELIX: (Starting to leave stage.) I’m going home.

HARVEY: (Catching him by chain.) Here, here, where are you going?

FELIX: I don’t like the way you say, “Oh, you’ll get it.”

HARVEY: Oh, that’s all right. And now whatever you do, act like a dog.

(FELIX tries to nip HARVEY’S leg, but he springs aside and says.) Delighted. Why, you’re commencing to feel like a dog already.

FELIX: When do I get something to eat?

HARVEY: Very shortly now.

(Sees MAYNARD coming from house.) Quick, put on your dog’s head, for here comes Mr. Maynard.

(Enter MAYNARD.)

MAYNARD: (To HARVEY.) Well, sir, and what can I do for you?

HARVEY: Your servant told me you were looking for a ferocious dog and I think I have an animal that will just suit you.

MAYNARD: Yes, I do want a savage dog, and if you have such a beast we can do business together.

FELIX: (Aside.) Now, I’m a beast.

(HARVEY kicks at FELIX to get him to shut up.)

HARVEY: (Pointing to FELIX.) This animal is so ferocious that if anyone should come across his path at night when he is unchained he would tear him limb from limb.

MAYNARD: (Noticing FELIX.) Is this the dog?

HARVEY: (Rubbing his hands.) Yes, sir, and if you searched the world over, you couldn’t find a more savage high-bred animal. He is full of animation.

MAYNARD: (Scratching himself.) I think he is full of fleas. But, tell me, what do you ask for him?

HARVEY: One thousand dollars.

MAYNARD: That’s a lot of money.

HARVEY: Not for this dog.

MAYNARD: Perhaps I ought to explain to you what I want the dog for.

HARVEY: I daresay you feel lonely for a companion.

MAYNARD: No, sir; I want a dog for my daughter, sir, to keep off a worthless, good-for-nothing dude who comes pestering around here after her because he knows that her father has a lot of money, and thinks that if he marries his daughter he can move to Easy Street.

HARVEY: I see; he is looking for a soft snap.

MAYNARD: That’s it, but I’ll fool him. I want a dog that will chew him up into pieces if he ever dares to set his foot inside my garden gate again.

HARVEY: My dog will suit you exactly.

MAYNARD: But a thousand dollars is an awful lot of money.

HARVEY: Not for this animal. In the first place, you never have to feed him.

MAYNARD: What’s that! You mean to say that this dog goes without food?

HARVEY: That’s the idea exactly.

(FELIX shows signs of disgust. He can work up some funny business by taking off his mask whenever HARVEY and MAYNARD are talking together and quickly slipping it on again when he thinks their attention is directed towards him.)

MAYNARD: Why, it’s preposterous. You don’t suppose I would keep a dog around the house and never feed him?

HARVEY: I tell you this dog never eats.

MAYNARD: Why, that’s cruelty to animals!

HARVEY: Well, if you feel that way about it, you might go out into an empty lot and get some rusty tomato cans and a few pieces of scrap iron and feed those to him.

MAYNARD: Does he enjoy such things?

HARVEY: Certainly he does. In fact, if you were to put a choice piece of juicy tenderloin steak before him right now that dog wouldn’t touch it.

MAYNARD: A most remarkable animal.

FELIX: (Taking off his dog mask, aside.) I’m going home.

HARVEY: (Aside, to FELIX.) Shut up or you’ll spoil everything.

(FELIX makes a grab for MAYNARD’S leg.)

MAYNARD: Help! Help! Your dog is killing me.

HARVEY: Don’t get frightened, Mr. Maynard, he is perfectly domesticated and will eat off your hand.

MAYNARD: Yes; he’ll eat off my leg, too, if I’m not careful.

HARVEY: (To FELIX.) Lie down, Otto, lie down, I say. (Kicks FELIX, who lets go of MAYNARD’S leg.)

MAYNARD: (Going quickly out of harm’s way, yet delighted.) Just the dog I want–a fine animal. I am sure with him around that Charlie Doolittle won’t dare to show his face on the premises.

HARVEY: Better buy him while you have the chance.

MAYNARD: (Taking roll of bills from pocket and counting out the money.) I think I will. Here’s the thousand dollars.

HARVEY: And now the dog is yours.

(MAYNARD fastens dog to exterior of dog-house.)

MAYNARD: I hope I have better luck with him than I had with my other dogs.

HARVEY: Why, what do you mean?

FELIX: (In back-ground.) Yes, please explain yourself.

MAYNARD: (Chuckling.) Well, you see my neighbors ain’t very fond of dogs and as fast as I get one they either poison him or shoot him.

FELIX: (In back-ground.) I can see my finish.

HARVEY: Well, it won’t make any difference with this dog. You can fill him full of bullets and he won’t even feel it.

FELIX: (Aside.) No, I’ll be dead.

HARVEY: (Continuing.) And as for poisoned meat, why, he would rather have Paris green or strychnine on his meat than salt.

MAYNARD: (Chuckling.) Certainly a remarkable animal. And now, if you will excuse me a minute, I will go into the house and tell my daughter about the dog. (He exits into house.)

HARVEY: (Gleefully.) The scheme worked beautifully and I am just a thousand dollars ahead.

FELIX: (Indignantly.) What do you mean by telling him that I eat tin cans and scrap iron?

HARVEY: Why, that was only a little joke on my part.

FELIX: Oh, it was a joke, was it? And suppose the neighbors fire their pistols at me and riddle me with bullets, what then?

HARVEY: Why, simply don’t notice it. Anyhow, don’t complain to me, you’re the dog, not I, and if the neighbors kill you, that’s not my funeral.

FELIX: I can see myself in dog heaven already. And how about my share of the money?

HARVEY: The what?

FELIX: The money. The dough, the mazuma.

HARVEY: The money? Since when do dogs carry money? Ha, ha! That’s a good joke. A very good joke. (Exits at R. 2.)

MAYNARD: (Re-enters from house.) And now to see if I can’t make friends with the dog.

(FELIX barks furiously at MAYNARD as soon as he comes near.)

MAYNARD: He is just the animal to keep Viola’s lover away. I will call her out, and show her the dog. (Calls off to house.) Oh, Viola! (Dog snaps at MAYNARD as latter passes him.)

VIOLA: (From the doorstep of house.) What do you want, father?

MAYNARD: I want to show you the new dog I bought. (Dog barks furiously.) See if you can make friends with him.

(VIOLA approaches FELIX, who leans his head affectionately against her and puts his arm around her waist.)

VIOLA: He seems to like me all right, father.

MAYNARD: I cannot understand it.

VIOLA: Perhaps he doesn’t like men.

FELIX: (Aside.) No; I ain’t that kind of a dog.

VIOLA: I wonder if the dog is hungry?

MAYNARD: I’ll go into the house and get him a bone. (Exits into house.)

(FELIX starts rubbing his dog’s head against VIOLA’S hip. She screams and exits into house.)

(CHARLIE DOOLITTLE enters from Right.)

CHARLIE: I haven’t seen Viola for half an hour, so I think I’ll serenade her.

(Starts in singing chorus of song, “Only One Girl in This World for Me.”)

(FELIX howls accompaniment. CHARLIE sees dog, who tries to grab him.)

CHARLIE: I’ll get a pistol and shoot the beast.

FELIX: Gee, but he’s got a nasty disposition!

CHARLIE: I’ll return in two minutes. (Exits at right.)

FELIX: (Unfastening catch that holds him to dog-house.) And I will be gone in one minute. (Exits at Centre.)

(MR. MAYNARD and VIOLA enter from house.)

MAYNARD: Viola, I am worried.

VIOLA: What’s the matter, father?

MAYNARD: I am afraid that Old Black Joe’s mind is beginning to weaken. Sometimes he sits for hours babbling about the old plantation as it existed in the days of ’61.

VIOLA: How strange!

MAYNARD: Only last week a celebrated doctor assured me that if Old Black Joe could but gaze once more on the old plantation as it looked before the War, his mental powers would come back to him as sharp and clear as ever.

VIOLA: I have an idea.

CHARLIE: (Appearing suddenly from Right.) Well, pickle it, because it’s going to be a hard Winter.

(MAYNARD starts to chase CHARLIE, who quickly exits.)

MAYNARD: (To VIOLA.) What is your idea, daughter?

VIOLA: I propose that all the girls dress themselves as pickaninnies and indulge in the sports and pastimes of the South before the War, so that Old Black Joe will think he is once more among the scenes of his boyhood days.

MAYNARD: A great idea–and we’ll put it into execution at once.

(A PICKANINNY NUMBER BY THE GIRLS LED BY VIOLA. When the pickaninny number is over, “Old Black Joe.” ENTIRE COMPANY DRESSES THE STAGE and forms itself into picturesque groupings. Selections by a colored quartette can also be appropriately introduced.)

(Song, “Old Black Joe,” by OLD BLACK JOE, company joining in the chorus.)

JOE: Bless me, am I dreaming, or do I see once more de old plantation?

MAYNARD: (Cordially.) The very same, Joe, the very same.

JOE: Why, it seems, Massa, as if a heavy load is lifting from mah mind and de memory of things dat I’se forgotten dese fifty years am coming back to me.

VIOLA: Three cheers for Old Black Joe! (Entire company gives cheers.)

MAYNARD: And now, ladies and gentlemen, on the occasion of my birthday, I also have the honor to announce that Mrs. Wilson has this day consented to become my wife.

(MRS. WILSON steps forward from house and bows to assembled guests in a triumphant way, the guests coldly return her bow.)

(EDGAR TREMBLE enters from Centre.)

MAYNARD: What can I do for you, Mr. Tremble?

TREMBLE: Just one thing, and that is to give me the money you owe me. The mortgage I hold on your plantation for $50,000 is due today and, unless you hand over the money right away, I’ll turn you out bag and baggage.

MAYNARD: (Pleadingly.) Won’t you give me a few days longer to try and raise the money?

TREMBLE: Not a day, not an hour. I must have the money at once or out you go.

MAYNARD: (Wringing his hands.) I am a ruined man! (Turning to MRS. WILSON.) But at least I will have the consolation of a true and loving companion. (MAYNARD reaches out for her hand, but she draws it away.) Why, what does this mean, Alice?

MRS. WILSON: I fear, Mr. Maynard, that I was never cut out to be a poor man’s wife, so I ask you to release me from my engagement. (Walks off stage at Right accompanied by the hisses of the guests.)

TREMBLE: (To MAYNARD.) As you evidently haven’t got the $50,000 to pay the mortgage, the plantation becomes mine and I now order you all off the premises.

OLD BLACK JOE: Not so fast.

TREMBLE: (To Joe.) What do you mean by butting in, you black devil? (Sarcastically.) Perhaps you’ve got the $50,000 to pay the mortgage?

OLD BLACK JOE: No, sah, ain’t got no money, but somethin’ in mah memory tells me dat I know where some money is hidden.

MAYNARD: (In surprise.) Why, what do you mean, Old Black Joe?

VIOLA: Yes, explain yourself.

OLD BLACK JOE: Well, sah, jes’ after de War broke out your father went and hid $50,000 where de Union soldiers couldn’t find it.

MAYNARD: (Imploringly.) Can’t you remember where the money was hid, Joe?

OLD BLACK JOE: Let me think, Massa, let me think.

VIOLA: Yes, Joe, try and remember.

OLD BLACK JOE: (With a sudden burst of light in his eyes.) I remembers now. He hid the money in dat old tree over dere.

(VIOLA rushes over to tree accompanied by several of the guests.)

TREMBLE: I hope you don’t place any faith in the silly fairy stories of this doddering old nigger.

VIOLA: (Pulling an old and worn pocketbook from behind the trunk of the tree.) Here it is! Father, here it is! (She runs to her father and hands him the pocketbook. He eagerly takes out the contents, a big roll of bank bills, and hastily counts them.)

MAYNARD: It’s fifty thousand dollars and the old plantation is saved, thanks to Old Black Joe! (To JOE.) Let me grasp your hand. (Shakes OLD BLACK JOE by the hand.)

CHARLIE: (Who has sneaked on the scene from R. 2. To JOE.) Yes, give us your flipper, Joe.

HARVEY: (Who suddenly appears on the scene and shakes JOE’S hand.) It’s all right, Joe; you wait for me after the show and I’ll buy you some horseradish ice cream and a fried cigarette sandwich.

MAYNARD: Now that the plantation remains, I invite you one and all to join me in a Fried ’Possum and Sweet Potato Dinner.

FELIX: (Who also appears on the scene, carrying his dog’s head in his hand.) Thank heavens, I’ll get something to eat at last.

CHORUS OF VOICES: Three cheers for Mr. Maynard!

MAYNARD: And don’t forget Old Black Joe, for it was through him that I have been able to save


(Final Chorus by entire company.)



ACT IN ONE.–An act playing in One (which see).
AD LIB.–Ad libitum–To talk extemporaneously so as to pad a scene or heighten laughter.
AGENT, VAUDEVILLE.–The business agent for an act.
APRON.–That part of the stage lying between the footlights and the curtain line.
ARGOT.–Slang; particularly, stage terms.
ASIDE.–A speech spoken within the sight and hearing of other actors, but which they, as characters in the act, do not “hear.”
AUDIENCE-LEFT.–Reverse of stage-left (which see).
AUDIENCE-RIGHT.–Reverse of stage-right (which see).
BACK OF THE HOUSE.–Back stage; the stage back of the curtain.
BACKING.–A drop, wing, or flat used to mask the working stage when a scenery-door or window is opened.
BACKING, INTERIOR.–Backing that represents an interior.
BACKING, EXTERIOR.–Backing that represents an exterior.
BARE STAGE.–Stage unset with scenery.
BIG-TIME.–Circuits playing two shows a day.
BIT, A.–A successful little stage scene complete in itself. A small part in an act.
BOOK OF A MUSICAL COMEDY.–The plot, dialogue, etc., to differentiate these from lyrics and music.
BOOK AN ACT, TO.–To place on a manager’s books for playing contracts; to secure a route.
BOOKING MANAGER.–One who books acts for theatres.
BORDER.–A strip of painted canvas hung above the stage in front of the border-lights to mask the stage-rigging.
BORDER-LIGHT.–Different colored electric bulbs set in a tin trough and suspended over the stage to light the stage and scenery.
BOX SET.–A set of scenery made of “flats” (which see) lashed together to form a room whose fourth wall has been removed.
BREAKING-IN AN ACT.–Playing an act until it runs smoothly.
BUNCH-LIGHT.–Electric bulbs set in a tin box mounted on a movable standard to cast any light–moonlight, for instance–through windows or on drops or backings.
BUSINESS, or BUS., or BIZ.–Any movement an actor makes on the stage, when done to drive the spoken words home, or “get over” a meaning without words.
CENTRE-DOOR FANCY.–An interior set containing an ornamental arch and fitted with fine draperies.
CHOOSER.–One who steals some part of another performer’s act for his own use.
CLIMAX.–The highest point of interest in a series of words or events–the “culmination, height, acme, apex.” (Murray.)
CLOSE-IN, TO.–To drop curtain.
COMEDY.–A light and more or less humorous play which ends happily; laughable and pleasing incidents.
COMPLICATION.–The definite clash of interests which produces the struggle on the outcome of which the plot hinges.
CRISIS.–The decisive, or turning, point in a play when things must come to a change, for better or worse.
CUE.–A word or an action regarded as the signal for some other speech or action by another actor, or for lights to change, or something to happen during the course of an act.
CURTAIN.–Because the curtain is dropped at the end of an act–the finish.
DIE.–When a performer or his act fails to win applause, he or the act is said to “die.”
DIMMER.–An electrical apparatus to regulate the degree of light given by the footlights and the border-lights.
DRAPERY, GRAND.–An unmovable Border just in front of the Olio and above Working Drapery.
DRAPERY, WORKING.–The first Border; see “BORDER.”
DROP.–A curtain of canvas painted with some scene and running full across the stage opening.
DUMB ACT, or SIGHT ACT.–Acts that do not use words; acrobats and the like.
EXPOSITION.–That part of the play which conveys the information necessary for the audience to possess so that they may understand the foundations of the plot or action.
EXTRA MAN, or WOMAN.–A person used for parts that do not require speech; not a regular member of the company.
FANCY INTERIOR.–The same as “Centre-door Fancy” (which see).
FARCE.–A play full of extravagantly ludicrous situations.
FIRST ENTRANCE.–Entrance to One (which see).
FLASH-BACK.–When a straight-man turns a laugh which a comedian has won, into a laugh for himself (see chapter on “The Two-Act”).
FLAT.–A wooden frame covered with a canvas painted to match other flats in a box set.
FLIPPER.–Scenery extension–particularly used to contain curtained entrance to One, and generally set at right angles to the proscenium arch (which see).
FLIRTATION ACT.–An act presented by a man and a woman playing lover-like scenes.
FLY-GALLERY.–The balcony between the stage and the grid iron, from where the scenery is worked.
FLYMEN.–The men assigned to the fly-gallery.
FOUR.–The stage space six or more feet behind the rear boundaries of Three.
FRONT OF THE HOUSE.–The auditorium in front of the curtain.
FULL STAGE.–Same as Four.
GAG.–Any joke or pun. See “POINT.”
GENRE.–Kind, style, type.
GET OVER, TO.–To make a speech or entire act a success.
GLASS-CRASH.–A basket filled with broken glass, used to imitate the noise of breaking a window and the like.
GO BIG.–When a performer, act, song, gag, etc., wins much applause it is said to “go big.”
GRIDIRON.–An iron network above the stage on which is hung the rigging by which the scenery is worked.
GRIP.–The man who sets scenery or grips it.
HAND, TO GET A.–To receive applause.
HOUSE CURTAIN.–The curtain running flat against the proscenium arch; it is raised at the beginning and lowered at the end of the performance; sometimes use to “close-in” on an act.
JOG.–A short flat used to vary a set by being placed between regulation flats to form angles or corners in a room.
LASH-LINE.–Used on flats to join them tightly together.
LEAD-SHEET.–A musical notation giving a melody of a popular song; a skeleton of a song.
LEGITIMATE.–Used to designate the stage, actors, theatres, etc., that present the full-evening play.
MELODRAMA.–A sensational drama, full of incident and making a violent appeal to the emotions.
MUGGING.–A contortion of the features to win laughter, irrespective of its consistency with the lines or actions.
OLIO.–A drop curtain full across the stage, working flat against the tormentors (which see). It is used as a background for acts in One, and often to close-in on acts playing in Two, Three and Four.
ONE.–That part of the stage lying between the tormentors and the line drawn between the bases of the proscenium arch.
OPEN SET.–A scene composed of a rear drop and matching wings, and not “boxed"–that is, not completely enclosed. See “BOX SET.”
PALACE SET.–Palace scene.
PART.–Noun: the manuscript of one character’s speeches and business; the character taken by an actor. Verb: to take, or play, a character.
PLAY UP, TO.–To pitch the key of a scene high; to play with rush and emphasis.
PLUGGER.–A booster, a singer who sings new songs to make them popular.
POINT.–The laugh-line of a gag (see “GAG”), or the funny observation of a monologue.
PRODUCE, TO.–To mount a manuscript on the stage.
PRODUCER.–One who produces plays, playlets, and other acts.
PROPERTIES.–Furniture, dishes, telephones, the what-not employed to lend reality–scenery excepted. Stage accessories.
PROPERTY-MAN.–The man who takes care of the properties.
PROPS.–Property-man; also short for properties.
PROSCENIUM ARCH.–The arch through which the audience views the stage.
RIGGING, STAGE.–The ropes, pulleys, etc., by which the scenery is worked.
RIPPLE-LAMP.–A clock-actuated mechanism fitted with ripple-glass and attached to the spot-light to cast wave-effects, etc., on or through the drops.
ROUTE.–A series of playing dates. To “route” is to “book” acts.
ROUTINE.–Arrangement. A specific arrangement of the parts of a state offering, as a “monologue routine,” or a “dance routine.”
SCENARIO.–The story of the play in outline.
SET.–Noun: a room or other scene set on the stage. Verb: to erect the wings, drops, and flats to form a scene.
SET OF LINES.–Rigging to be tied to drops and other scenery to lift them up into the flies.
SINGLE MAN–SINGLE WOMAN.–A man or woman playing alone; a monologist, solo singer, etc.
SLAP-STICK BUSINESS.–Business that wins laughs by use of physical methods.
SMALL-TIME, THE.–The circuits playing three or more shows a day.
SOUND-EFFECTS.–The noise of cocoanut shells imitating horses’ hoof-beats, the sound of waves mechanically made, and the like.
SPOT-LIGHT.–An arc-light with lenses to concentrate the light into a spot to follow the characters around the stage.
STAGE-DRACE.–An implement used with stage-screws to clamp flats firmly to the floor.
STAGE-CENTRE.–The centre of the stage.
STAGE-LEFT.–The audience’s right.
STAGE-MANAGER.–One who manages the “working” of a show behind the scenes; usually the stage-carpenter.
STAGE-RIGHT.–The audience’s left.
STRIKE, TO.–To clear the stage of scenery.
STRIP-LIGHT.–Electric bulbs contained in short tin troughs, hung behind doors, etc., to illuminate the backings.
TAB.–The contraction of “tabloid,” as burlesque tab, musical comedy tab.
TALKING SINGLE.–A one-person act using stories, gags, etc.
THREE.–The stage space six or more feet behind the rear boundaries of Two.
TIME.–Playing engagements. See “BIG-TIME,” “SMALL-TIME.”
TORMENTORS.–Movable first wings behind which the Olio runs, fronting the audience.
TRAP.–A section of the stage floor cut for an entrance to the scene from below.
TRY-OUT.–The first presentation of an act for trial before an audience with a view to booking.
TWO.–The stage space between the Olio and the set of wings six or more feet behind the Olio.
TWO-A-DAY.–Stage argot for vaudeville.
WING.–A double frame of wood covered with painted canvas and used in open sets as a flat is used in box sets; so constructed that it stands alone as a book will when its covers are opened at right angles.
WOOD-CRASH.–An appliance so constructed that when the handle is turned a noise like a man falling downstairs, or the crash of a fight, is produced.
WOOD-SET.–The scenery used to form a forest or woods.
WORK OPPOSITE ANOTHER, TO.–To play a character whose speeches are nearly all with the other.