WORKS OF ISRAEL ZANGWILL
THE AMERICAN JEWISH BOOK COMPANY NEW YORK 1921
THE MELTING-POT COPYRIGHT, 1909, 1914, BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.
Printed by THE LORD BALTIMORE PRESS Baltimore, Md.
TO THEODORE ROOSEVELT
IN RESPECTFUL RECOGNITION OF HIS STRENUOUS STRUGGLE AGAINST THE FORCES THAT THREATEN TO SHIPWRECK THE GREAT REPUBLIC WHICH CARRIES MANKIND AND ITS FORTUNES, THIS PLAY IS, BY HIS KIND PERMISSION, CORDIALLY DEDICATED
The rights of performing or publishing this play in any country or language are strictly reserved by the author.
[As first produced at the Columbia Theatre, Washington, on the fifth of October 1908]
David Quixano WALKER WHITESIDE Mendel Quixano HENRY BERGMAN Baron Revendal JOHN BLAIR Quincy Davenport, Jr. GRANT STEWART Herr Pappelmeister HENRY VOGEL Vera Revendal CHRYSTAL HERNE Baroness Revendal LEONORA VON OTTINGER Frau Quixano LOUISE MULDENER Kathleen O'Reilly MOLLIE REVEL Settlement Servant ANNIE HARRIS
Produced by HUGH FORD
[As first produced by the Play Actors at the Court Theatre, London on the twenty-fifth of January 1914]
David Quixano HAROLD CHAPIN Mendel Quixano HUGH TABBERER Baron Revendal H. LAWRENCE LEYTON Quincy Davenport, Jr. P. PERCEVAL CLARK Herr Pappelmeister CLIFTON ALDERSON Vera Revendal PHYLLIS RELPH Baroness Revendal GILLIAN SCAIFE Frau Quixano INEZ BENSUSAN Kathleen O'Reilly E. NOLAN O'CONNOR Settlement Servant RUTH PARROTT
Produced by NORMAN PAGE
The scene is laid in the living-room of the small home of the QUIXANOS in the Richmond or non-Jewish borough of New York, about five o'clock of a February afternoon. At centre back is a double street-door giving on a columned veranda in the Colonial style. Nailed on the right-hand door-post gleams a Mezuzah, a tiny metal case, containing a Biblical passage. On the right of the door is a small hat-stand holding MENDEL'S overcoat, umbrella, etc. There are two windows, one on either side of the door, and three exits, one down-stage on the left leading to the stairs and family bedrooms, and two on the right, the upper leading to KATHLEEN'S bedroom and the lower to the kitchen. Over the street door is pinned the Stars-and-Stripes. On the left wall, in the upper corner of which is a music-stand, are bookshelves of large mouldering Hebrew books, and over them is hung a Mizrach, or Hebrew picture, to show it is the East Wall. Other pictures round the room include Wagner, Columbus, Lincoln, and "Jews at the Wailing place." Down-stage, about a yard from the left wall, stands DAVID'S roll-desk, open and displaying a medley of music, a quill pen, etc. On the wall behind the desk hangs a book-rack with brightly bound English books. A grand piano stands at left centre back, holding a pile of music and one huge Hebrew tome. There is a table in the middle of the room covered with a red cloth and a litter of objects, music, and newspapers. The fireplace, in which a fire is burning, occupies the centre of the right wall, and by it stands an armchair on which lies another heavy mouldy Hebrew tome. The mantel holds a clock, two silver candlesticks, etc. A chiffonier stands against the back wall on the right. There are a few cheap chairs. The whole effect is a curious blend of shabbiness, Americanism, Jewishness, and music, all four being combined in the figure of MENDEL QUIXANO, who, in a black skull-cap, a seedy velvet jacket, and red carpet-slippers, is discovered standing at the open street-door. He is an elderly music master with a fine Jewish face, pathetically furrowed by misfortunes, and a short grizzled beard.
MENDEL Good-bye, Johnny!... And don't forget to practise your scales. [Shutting door, shivers.] Ugh! It'll snow again, I guess. [He yawns, heaves a great sigh of relief, walks toward the table, and perceives a music-roll.] The chump! He's forgotten his music! [He picks it up and runs toward the window on the left, muttering furiously] Brainless, earless, thumb-fingered Gentile! [Throwing open the window] Here, Johnny! You can't practise your scales if you leave 'em here! [He throws out the music-roll and shivers again at the cold as he shuts the window.] Ugh! And I must go out to that miserable dancing class to scrape the rent together. [He goes to the fire and warms his hands.] Ach Gott! What a life! What a life! [He drops dejectedly into the armchair. Finding himself sitting uncomfortably on the big book, he half rises and pushes it to the side of the seat. After an instant an irate Irish voice is heard from behind the kitchen door.]
KATHLEEN [Without] Divil take the butther! I wouldn't put up with ye, not for a hundred dollars a week.
MENDEL [Raising himself to listen, heaves great sigh] Ach! Mother and Kathleen again!
KATHLEEN [Still louder] Pots and pans and plates and knives! Sure 'tis enough to make a saint chrazy.
FRAU QUIXANO [Equally loudly from kitchen] Wos schreist du? Gott in Himmel, dieses Amerika!
KATHLEEN [Opening door of kitchen toward the end of FRAU QUIXANO'S speech, but turning back, with her hand visible on the door] What's that ye're afther jabberin' about America? If ye don't like God's own counthry, sure ye can go back to your own Jerusalem, so ye can.
MENDEL One's very servants are anti-Semites.
KATHLEEN [Bangs her door as she enters excitedly, carrying a folded white table-cloth. She is a young and pretty Irish maid-of-all-work] Bad luck to me, if iver I take sarvice again with haythen Jews. [She perceives MENDEL huddled up in the armchair, gives a little scream, and drops the cloth.] Och, I thought ye was out!
MENDEL [Rising] And so you dared to be rude to my mother.
KATHLEEN [Angrily, as she picks up the cloth] She said I put mate on a butther-plate.
MENDEL Well, you know that's against her religion.
KATHLEEN But I didn't do nothing of the soort. I ounly put butther on a mate-plate.
MENDEL That's just as bad. What the Bible forbids——
KATHLEEN [Lays the cloth on a chair and vigorously clears off the litter of things on the table.] Sure, the Pope himself couldn't remimber it all. Why don't ye have a sinsible religion?
MENDEL You are impertinent. Attend to your work. [He seats himself at the piano.]
KATHLEEN And isn't it laying the Sabbath cloth I am? [She bangs down articles from the table into their right places.]
MENDEL Don't answer me back. [He begins to play softly.]
KATHLEEN Faith, I must answer somebody back—and sorra a word of English she understands. I might as well talk to a tree.
MENDEL You are not paid to talk, but to work. [Playing on softly.]
KATHLEEN And who can work wid an ould woman nagglin' and grizzlin' and faultin' me? [She removes the red table-cloth.] Mate-plates, butther-plates, kosher, trepha, sure I've smashed up folks' crockery and they makin' less fuss ouver it.
MENDEL [Stops playing.] Breaking crockery is one thing, and breaking a religion another. Didn't you tell me when I engaged you that you had lived in other Jewish families?
KATHLEEN [Angrily] And is it a liar ye'd make me out now? I've lived wid clothiers and pawnbrokers and Vaudeville actors, but I niver shtruck a house where mate and butther couldn't be as paceable on the same plate as eggs and bacon—the most was that some wouldn't ate the bacon onless 'twas killed kosher.
MENDEL [Tickled] Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
KATHLEEN [Furious, pauses with the white table-cloth half on.] And who's ye laughin' at? I give ye a week's notice. I won't be the joke of Jews, no, begorra, that I won't. [She pulls the cloth on viciously.]
MENDEL [Sobered, rising from the piano] Don't talk nonsense, Kathleen. Nobody is making a joke of you. Have a little patience—you'll soon learn our ways.
KATHLEEN [More mildly] Whose ways, yours or the ould lady's or Mr. David's? To-night being yer Sabbath, you'll be blowing out yer bedroom candle, though ye won't light it; Mr. David'll light his and blow it out too; and the misthress won't even touch the candleshtick. There's three religions in this house, not wan.
MENDEL [Coughs uneasily.] Hem! Well, you learn the mistress's ways—that will be enough.
KATHLEEN [Going to mantelpiece] But what way can I understand her jabberin' and jibberin'?—I'm not a monkey! [She takes up a silver candlestick.] Why doesn't she talk English like a Christian?
MENDEL [Irritated] If you are going on like that, perhaps you had better not remain here.
KATHLEEN [Blazing up, forgetting to take the second candlestick] And who's axin' ye to remain here? Faith, I'll quit off this blissid minit!
MENDEL [Taken aback] No, you can't do that.
KATHLEEN And why can't I? Ye can keep yer dirthy wages. [She dumps down the candlestick violently on the table, and exit hysterically into her bedroom.]
MENDEL [Sighing heavily] She might have put on the other candlestick. [He goes to mantel and takes it. A rat-tat-tat at street-door.] Who can that be? [Running to KATHLEEN'S door, holding candlestick forgetfully low.] Kathleen! There's a visitor!
KATHLEEN [Angrily from within] I'm not here!
MENDEL So long as you're in this house, you must do your work. [KATHLEEN'S head emerges sulkily.]
KATHLEEN I tould ye I was lavin' at wanst. Let you open the door yerself.
MENDEL I'm not dressed to receive visitors—it may be a new pupil. [He goes toward staircase, automatically carrying off the candlestick which KATHLEEN has not caught sight of. Exit on the left.]
KATHLEEN [Moving toward the street-door] The divil fly away wid me if ivir from this 'our I set foot again among haythen furriners—— [She throws open the door angrily and then the outer door. VERA REVENDAL, a beautiful girl in furs and muff, with a touch of the exotic in her appearance, steps into the little vestibule.]
VERA Is Mr. Quixano at home?
KATHLEEN [Sulkily] Which Mr. Quixano?
VERA [Surprised] Are there two Mr. Quixanos?
KATHLEEN [Tartly] Didn't I say there was?
VERA Then I want the one who plays.
KATHLEEN There isn't a one who plays.
VERA Oh, surely!
KATHLEEN Ye're wrong entirely. They both plays.
VERA [Smiling] Oh, dear! And I suppose they both play the violin.
KATHLEEN Ye're wrong again. One plays the piano—ounly the young ginthleman plays the fiddle—Mr. David!
VERA [Eagerly] Ah, Mr. David—that's the one I want to see.
KATHLEEN He's out. [She abruptly shuts the door.]
VERA [Stopping its closing] Don't shut the door!
KATHLEEN [Snappily] More chanst of seeing him out there than in here!
VERA But I want to leave a message.
KATHLEEN Then why don't ye come inside? It's freezin' me to the bone. [She sneezes.] Atchoo!
VERA I'm sorry. [She comes in and closes the door] Will you please say Miss Revendal called from the Settlement, and we are anxiously awaiting his answer to the letter asking him to play for us on——
KATHLEEN What way will I be tellin' him all that? I'm not here.
KATHLEEN I'm lavin'—just as soon as I've me thrunk packed.
VERA Then I must write the message—can I write at this desk?
KATHLEEN If the ould woman don't come in and shpy you.
VERA What old woman?
KATHLEEN Ould Mr. Quixano's mother—she wears a black wig, she's that houly.
VERA [Bewildered] What?... But why should she mind my writing?
KATHLEEN Look at the clock. [VERA looks at the clock, more puzzled than ever.] If ye're not quick, it'll be Shabbos.
VERA Be what?
KATHLEEN [Holds up hands of horror] Ye don't know what Shabbos is! A Jewess not know her own Sunday!
VERA [Outraged] I, a Jewess! How dare you?
KATHLEEN [Flustered] Axin' your pardon, miss, but ye looked a bit furrin and I——
VERA [Frozen] I am a Russian. [Slowly and dazedly] Do I understand that Mr. Quixano is a Jew?
KATHLEEN Two Jews, miss. Both of 'em.
VERA Oh, but it is impossible. [Dazedly to herself] He had such charming manners. [Aloud again] You seem to think everybody Jewish. Are you sure Mr. Quixano is not Spanish?—the name sounds Spanish.
KATHLEEN Shpanish! [She picks up the old Hebrew book on the armchair.] Look at the ould lady's book. Is that Shpanish? [She points to the Mizrach.] And that houly picture the ould lady says her pater-noster to! Is that Shpanish? And that houly table-cloth with the houly silver candle—— [Cry of sudden astonishment] Why, I've ounly put—— [She looks toward mantel and utters a great cry of alarm as she drops the Hebrew book on the floor.] Why, where's the other candleshtick! Mother in hivin, they'll say I shtole the candleshtick! [Perceiving that VERA is dazedly moving toward door] Beggin' your pardon, miss—— [She is about to move a chair toward the desk.]
VERA Thank you, I've changed my mind.
KATHLEEN That's more than I'll do.
VERA [Hand on door] Don't say I called at all.
KATHLEEN Plaze yerself. What name did ye say? [MENDEL enters hastily from his bedroom, completely transmogrified, minus the skull-cap, with a Prince Albert coat, and boots instead of slippers, so that his appearance is gentlemanly. KATHLEEN begins to search quietly and unostentatiously in the table-drawers, the chiffonier, etc., etc., for the candlestick.
MENDEL I am sorry if I have kept you waiting—— [He rubs his hands importantly.] You see I have so many pupils already. Won't you sit down? [He indicates a chair.]
VERA [Flushing, embarrassed, releasing her hold of the door handle] Thank you—I—I—I didn't come about pianoforte lessons.
MENDEL [Sighing in disappointment] Ach!
VERA In fact I—er—it wasn't you I wanted at all—I was just going.
MENDEL [Politely] Perhaps I can direct you to the house you are looking for.
VERA Thank you, I won't trouble you. [She turns toward the door again.]
MENDEL Allow me! [He opens the door for her.]
VERA [Hesitating, struck by his manners, struggling with her anti-Jewish prejudice] It—it—was your son I wanted.
MENDEL [His face lighting up] You mean my nephew, David. Yes, he gives violin lessons. [He closes the door.]
VERA Oh, is he your nephew?
MENDEL I am sorry he is out—he, too, has so many pupils, though at the moment he is only at the Crippled Children's Home—playing to them.
VERA How lovely of him! [Touched and deciding to conquer her prejudice] But that's just what I came about—I mean we'd like him to play again at our Settlement. Please ask him why he hasn't answered Miss Andrews's letter.
MENDEL [Astonished] He hasn't answered your letter?
VERA Oh, I'm not Miss Andrews; I'm only her assistant.
MENDEL I see—Kathleen, whatever are you doing under the table? [KATHLEEN, in her hunting around for the candlestick, is now stooping and lifting up the table-cloth.]
KATHLEEN Sure the fiend's after witching away the candleshtick.
MENDEL [Embarrassed] The candlestick? Oh—I—I think you'll find it in my bedroom.
KATHLEEN Wisha, now! [She goes into his bedroom.]
MENDEL [Turning apologetically to VERA] I beg your pardon, Miss Andrews, I mean Miss—er——
MENDEL [Slightly more interested] Revendal? Then you must be the Miss Revendal David told me about!
VERA [Blushing] Why, he has only seen me once—the time he played at our Roof-Garden Concert.
MENDEL Yes, but he was so impressed by the way you handled those new immigrants—the Spirit of the Settlement, he called you.
VERA [Modestly] Ah, no—Miss Andrews is that. And you will tell him to answer her letter at once, won't you, because there's only a week now to our Concert. [A gust of wind shakes the windows. She smiles.] Naturally it will not be on the Roof Garden.
MENDEL [Half to himself] Fancy David not saying a word about it to me! Are you sure the letter was mailed?
VERA I mailed it myself—a week ago. And even in New York—— [She smiles. Re-enter KATHLEEN with the recovered candlestick.]
KATHLEEN Bedad, ye're as great a shleep-walker as Mr. David! [She places the candlestick on the table and moves toward her bedroom.]
KATHLEEN [Pursuing her walk without turning] I'm not here!
MENDEL Did you take in a letter for Mr. David about a week ago? [Smiling at MISS REVENDAL] He doesn't get many, you see.
KATHLEEN [Turning] A letter? Sure, I took in ounly a postcard from Miss Johnson, an' that ounly sayin'——
VERA And you don't remember a letter—a large letter—last Saturday—with the seal of our Settlement?
KATHLEEN Last Saturday wid a seal, is it? Sure, how could I forgit it?
MENDEL Then you did take it in?
KATHLEEN Ye're wrong entirely. 'Twas the misthress took it in.
MENDEL [To VERA] I am sorry the boy has been so rude.
KATHLEEN But the misthress didn't give it him at wanst—she hid it away bekaz it was Shabbos.
MENDEL Oh, dear—and she has forgotten to give it to him. Excuse me. [He makes a hurried exit to the kitchen.]
KATHLEEN And excuse me—I've me thrunk to pack. [She goes toward her bedroom, pauses at the door.] And ye'll witness I don't pack the candleshtick. [Emphatic exit.]
VERA [Still dazed] A Jew! That wonderful boy a Jew!... But then so was David the shepherd youth with his harp and his psalms, the sweet singer in Israel. [She surveys the room and its contents with interest. The windows rattle once or twice in the rising wind. The light gets gradually less. She picks up the huge Hebrew tome on the piano and puts it down with a slight smile as if overwhelmed by the weight of alien antiquity. Then she goes over to the desk and picks up the printed music.] Mendelssohn's Concerto, Tartini's Sonata in G Minor, Bach's Chaconne... [She looks up at the book-rack.] "History of the American Commonwealth," "Cyclopaedia of History," "History of the Jews"—he seems very fond of history. Ah, there's Shelley and Tennyson. [With surprise] Nietzsche next to the Bible? No Russian books apparently—— [Re-enter MENDEL triumphantly with a large sealed letter.]
MENDEL Here it is! As it came on Saturday, my mother was afraid David would open it!
VERA [Smiling] But what can you do with a letter except open it? Any more than with an oyster?
MENDEL [Smiling as he puts the letter on DAVID'S desk] To a pious Jew letters and oysters are alike forbidden—at least letters may not be opened on our day of rest.
VERA I'm sure I couldn't rest till I'd opened mine. [Enter from the kitchen FRAU QUIXANO, defending herself with excited gesticulation. She is an old lady with a black wig, but her appearance is dignified, venerable even, in no way comic. She speaks Yiddish exclusively, that being largely the language of the Russian Pale.]
FRAU QUIXANO Obber ich hob gesogt zu Kathleen——
MENDEL [Turning and going to her] Yes, yes, mother, that's all right now.
FRAU QUIXANO [In horror, perceiving her Hebrew book on the floor, where KATHLEEN has dropped it] Mein Buch! [She picks it up and kisses it piously.]
MENDEL [Presses her into her fireside chair] Ruhig, ruhig, Mutter! [To VERA] She understands barely a word of English—she won't disturb us.
VERA Oh, but I must be going—I was so long finding the house, and look! it has begun to snow! [They both turn their heads and look at the falling snow.]
MENDEL All the more reason to wait for David—it may leave off. He can't be long now. Do sit down. [He offers a chair.]
FRAU QUIXANO [Looking round suspiciously] Wos will die Shikseh?
VERA What does your mother say?
MENDEL [Half-smiling] Oh, only asking what your heathen ladyship desires.
VERA Tell her I hope she is well.
MENDEL Das Fraeulein hofft dass es geht gut——
FRAU QUIXANO [Shrugging her shoulders in despairing astonishment] Gut? Un' wie soll es gut gehen—in Amerika! [She takes out her spectacles, and begins slowly polishing and adjusting them.]
VERA [Smiling] I understood that last word.
MENDEL She asks how can anything possibly go well in America!
VERA Ah, she doesn't like America.
MENDEL [Half-smiling] Her favourite exclamation is "A Klog zu Columbessen!"
VERA What does that mean?
MENDEL Cursed be Columbus!
VERA [Laughingly] Poor Columbus! I suppose she's just come over.
MENDEL Oh, no, it must be ten years since I sent for her.
VERA Really! But your nephew was born here?
MENDEL No, he's Russian too. But please sit down, you had better get his answer at once. [VERA sits.]
VERA I suppose you taught him music.
MENDEL I? I can't play the violin. He is self-taught. In the Russian Pale he was a wonder-child. Poor David! He always looked forward to coming to America; he imagined I was a famous musician over here. He found me conductor in a cheap theatre—a converted beer-hall.
VERA Was he very disappointed?
MENDEL Disappointed? He was enchanted! He is crazy about America.
VERA [Smiling] Ah, he doesn't curse Columbus.
MENDEL My mother came with her life behind her: David with his life before him. Poor boy!
VERA Why do you say poor boy?
MENDEL What is there before him here but a terrible struggle for life? If he doesn't curse Columbus, he'll curse fate. Music-lessons and dance-halls, beer-halls and weddings—every hope and ambition will be ground out of him, and he will die obscure and unknown. [His head sinks on his breast, FRAU QUIXANO is heard faintly sobbing over her book. The sobbing continues throughout the scene.]
VERA [Half rising] You have made your mother cry.
MENDEL Oh, no—she understood nothing. She always cries on the eve of the Sabbath.
VERA [Mystified, sinking back into her chair] Always cries? Why?
MENDEL [Embarrassed] Oh, well, a Christian wouldn't understand——
VERA Yes I could—do tell me!
MENDEL She knows that in this great grinding America, David and I must go out to earn our bread on Sabbath as on week-days. She never says a word to us, but her heart is full of tears.
VERA Poor old woman. It was wrong of us to ask your nephew to play at the Settlement for nothing.
MENDEL [Rising fiercely] If you offer him a fee, he shall not play. Did you think I was begging of you?
VERA I beg your pardon—— [She smiles.] There, I am begging of you. Sit down, please.
MENDEL [Walking away to piano] I ought not to have burdened you with our troubles—you are too young.
VERA [Pathetically] I young? If you only knew how old I am!
VERA I left my youth in Russia—eternities ago.
MENDEL You know our Russia! [He goes over to her and sits down.]
VERA Can't you see I'm a Russian, too? [With a faint tremulous smile] I might even have been a Siberian had I stayed. But I escaped from my gaolers.
MENDEL You were a Revolutionist!
VERA Who can live in Russia and not be? So you see trouble and I are not such strangers.
MENDEL Who would have thought it to look at you? Siberia, gaolers, revolutions! [Rising] What terrible things life holds!
VERA Yes, even in free America. [FRAU QUIXANO'S sobbing grows slightly louder.]
MENDEL That Settlement work must be full of tragedies.
VERA Sometimes one sees nothing but the tragedy of things. [Looking toward the window] The snow is getting thicker. How pitilessly it falls—like fate.
MENDEL [Following her gaze] Yes, icy and inexorable. [The faint sobbing of FRAU QUIXANO over her book, which has been heard throughout the scene as a sort of musical accompaniment, has combined to work it up to a mood of intense sadness, intensified by the growing dusk, so that as the two now gaze at the falling snow, the atmosphere seems overbrooded with melancholy. There is a moment or two without dialogue, given over to the sobbing of FRAU QUIXANO, the roar of the wind shaking the windows, the quick falling of the snow. Suddenly a happy voice singing "My Country 'tis of Thee" is heard from without.]
FRAU QUIXANO [Pricking up her ears, joyously] Do ist Dovidel!
MENDEL That's David! [He springs up.]
VERA [Murmurs in relief] Ah! [The whole atmosphere is changed to one of joyous expectation, DAVID is seen and heard passing the left window, still singing the national hymn, but it breaks off abruptly as he throws open the door and appears on the threshold, a buoyant snow-covered figure in a cloak and a broad-brimmed hat, carrying a violin case. He is a sunny, handsome youth of the finest Russo-Jewish type. He speaks with a slight German accent.]
DAVID Isn't it a beautiful world, uncle? [He closes the inner door.] Snow, the divine white snow—— [Perceiving the visitor with amaze] Miss Revendal here! [He removes his hat and looks at her with boyish reverence and wonder.]
VERA [Smiling] Don't look so surprised—I haven't fallen from heaven like the snow. Take off your wet things.
DAVID Oh, it's nothing; it's dry snow. [He lays down his violin case and brushes off the snow from his cloak, which MENDEL takes from him and hangs on the rack, all without interrupting the dialogue.] If I had only known you were waiting——
VERA I am glad you didn't—I wouldn't have had those poor little cripples cheated out of a moment of your music.
DAVID Uncle has told you? Ah, it was bully! You should have seen the cripples waltzing with their crutches! [He has moved toward the old woman, and while he holds one hand to the blaze now pats her cheek with the other in greeting, to which she responds with a loving smile ere she settles contentedly to slumber over her book.] Es war grossartig, Granny. Even the paralysed danced.
MENDEL Don't exaggerate, David.
DAVID Exaggerate, uncle! Why, if they hadn't the use of their legs, their arms danced on the counterpane; if their arms couldn't dance, their hands danced from the wrist; and if their hands couldn't dance, they danced with their fingers; and if their fingers couldn't dance, their heads danced; and if their heads were paralysed, why, their eyes danced—God never curses so utterly but you've something left to dance with! [He moves toward his desk.]
VERA [Infected with his gaiety] You'll tell us next the beds danced.
DAVID So they did—they shook their legs like mad!
VERA Oh, why wasn't I there? [His eyes meet hers at the thought of her presence.]
DAVID Dear little cripples, I felt as if I could play them all straight again with the love and joy jumping out of this old fiddle. [He lays his hand caressingly on the violin.]
MENDEL [Gloomily] But in reality you left them as crooked as ever.
DAVID No, I didn't. [He caresses the back of his uncle's head in affectionate rebuke.] I couldn't play their bones straight, but I played their brains straight. And hunch-brains are worse than hunch-backs.... [Suddenly perceiving his letter on the desk] A letter for me! [He takes it with boyish eagerness, then hesitates to open it.]
VERA [Smiling] Oh, you may open it!
DAVID [Wistfully] May I?
VERA [Smiling] Yes, and quick—or it'll be Shabbos! [DAVID looks up at her in wonder.]
MENDEL [Smiling] You read your letter!
DAVID [Opens it eagerly, then smiles broadly with pleasure.] Oh, Miss Revendal! Isn't that great! To play again at your Settlement. I am getting famous.
VERA But we can't offer you a fee.
MENDEL [Quickly sotto voce to VERA] Thank you!
DAVID A fee! I'd pay a fee to see all those happy immigrants you gather together—Dutchmen and Greeks, Poles and Norwegians, Welsh and Armenians. If you only had Jews, it would be as good as going to Ellis Island.
VERA [Smiling] What a strange taste! Who on earth wants to go to Ellis Island?
DAVID Oh, I love going to Ellis Island to watch the ships coming in from Europe, and to think that all those weary, sea-tossed wanderers are feeling what I felt when America first stretched out her great mother-hand to me!
VERA [Softly] Were you very happy?
DAVID It was heaven. You must remember that all my life I had heard of America—everybody in our town had friends there or was going there or got money orders from there. The earliest game I played at was selling off my toy furniture and setting up in America. All my life America was waiting, beckoning, shining—the place where God would wipe away tears from off all faces. [He ends in a half-sob.]
MENDEL [Rises, as in terror] Now, now, David, don't get excited. [Approaches him.]
DAVID To think that the same great torch of liberty which threw its light across all the broad seas and lands into my little garret in Russia, is shining also for all those other weeping millions of Europe, shining wherever men hunger and are oppressed——
MENDEL [Soothingly] Yes, yes, David. [Laying hand on his shoulder] Now sit down and——
DAVID [Unheeding] Shining over the starving villages of Italy and Ireland, over the swarming stony cities of Poland and Galicia, over the ruined farms of Roumania, over the shambles of Russia——
MENDEL [Pleadingly] David!
DAVID Oh, Miss Revendal, when I look at our Statue of Liberty, I just seem to hear the voice of America crying: "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest—rest——" [He is now almost sobbing.]
MENDEL Don't talk any more—you know it is bad for you.
DAVID But Miss Revendal asked—and I want to explain to her what America means to me.
MENDEL You can explain it in your American symphony.
VERA [Eagerly—to DAVID] You compose?
DAVID [Embarrassed] Oh, uncle, why did you talk of—? Uncle always—my music is so thin and tinkling. When I am writing my American symphony, it seems like thunder crashing through a forest full of bird songs. But next day—oh, next day! [He laughs dolefully and turns away.]
VERA So your music finds inspiration in America?
DAVID Yes—in the seething of the Crucible.
VERA The Crucible? I don't understand!
DAVID Not understand! You, the Spirit of the Settlement! [He rises and crosses to her and leans over the table, facing her.] Not understand that America is God's Crucible, the great Melting-Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and re-forming! Here you stand, good folk, think I, when I see them at Ellis Island, here you stand [Graphically illustrating it on the table] in your fifty groups, with your fifty languages and histories, and your fifty blood hatreds and rivalries. But you won't be long like that, brothers, for these are the fires of God you've come to—these are the fires of God. A fig for your feuds and vendettas! Germans and Frenchmen, Irishmen and Englishmen, Jews and Russians—into the Crucible with you all! God is making the American.
MENDEL I should have thought the American was made already—eighty millions of him.
DAVID Eighty millions! [He smiles toward VERA in good-humoured derision.] Eighty millions! Over a continent! Why, that cockleshell of a Britain has forty millions! No, uncle, the real American has not yet arrived. He is only in the Crucible, I tell you—he will be the fusion of all races, perhaps the coming superman. Ah, what a glorious Finale for my symphony—if I can only write it.
VERA But you have written some of it already! May I not see it?
DAVID [Relapsing into boyish shyness] No, if you please, don't ask—— [He moves over to his desk and nervously shuts it down and turns the keys of drawers as though protecting his MS.]
VERA Won't you give a bit of it at our Concert?
DAVID Oh, it needs an orchestra.
VERA But you at the violin and I at the piano——
MENDEL You didn't tell me you played, Miss Revendal!
VERA I told you less commonplace things.
DAVID Miss Revendal plays quite like a professional.
VERA [Smiling] I don't feel so complimented as you expect. You see I did have a professional training.
MENDEL [Smiling] And I thought you came to me for lessons! [DAVID laughs.]
VERA [Smiling] No, I went to Petersburg——
DAVID [Dazed] To Petersburg——?
VERA [Smiling] Naturally. To the Conservatoire. There wasn't much music to be had at Kishineff, a town where——
DAVID Kishineff! [He begins to tremble.]
VERA [Still smiling] My birthplace.
MENDEL [Coming toward him, protectingly] Calm yourself, David.
DAVID Yes, yes—so you are a Russian! [He shudders violently, staggers.]
VERA [Alarmed] You are ill!
DAVID It is nothing, I—not much music at Kishineff! No, only the Death-March!... Mother! Father! Ah—cowards, murderers! And you! [He shakes his fist at the air.] You, looking on with your cold butcher's face! O God! O God! [He bursts into hysterical sobs and runs, shamefacedly, through the door to his room.]
VERA [Wildly] What have I said? What have I done?
MENDEL Oh, I was afraid of this, I was afraid of this.
FRAU QUIXANO [Who has fallen asleep over her book, wakes as if with a sense of the horror and gazes dazedly around, adding to the thrillingness of the moment] Dovidel! Wu is' Dovidel! Mir dacht sach——
MENDEL [Pressing her back to her slumbers] Du traeumst, Mutter! Schlaf! [She sinks back to sleep.]
VERA [In hoarse whisper] His father and mother were massacred?
MENDEL [In same tense tone] Before his eyes—father, mother, sisters, down to the youngest babe, whose skull was battered in by a hooligan's heel.
VERA How did he escape?
MENDEL He was shot in the shoulder, and fell unconscious. As he wasn't a girl, the hooligans left him for dead and hurried to fresh sport.
VERA Terrible! Terrible! [Almost in tears.]
MENDEL [Shrugging shoulders, hopelessly] It is only Jewish history!... David belongs to the species of pogrom orphan—they arrive in the States by almost every ship.
VERA Poor boy! Poor boy! And he looked so happy! [She half sobs.]
MENDEL So he is, most of the time—a sunbeam took human shape when he was born. But naturally that dreadful scene left a scar on his brain, as the bullet left a scar on his shoulder, and he is always liable to see red when Kishineff is mentioned.
VERA I will never mention my miserable birthplace to him again.
MENDEL But you see every few months the newspapers tell us of another pogrom, and then he screams out against what he calls that butcher's face, so that I tremble for his reason. I tremble even when I see him writing that crazy music about America, for it only means he is brooding over the difference between America and Russia.
VERA But perhaps—perhaps—all the terrible memory will pass peacefully away in his music.
MENDEL There will always be the scar on his shoulder to remind him—whenever the wound twinges, it brings up these terrible faces and visions.
VERA Is it on his right shoulder?
MENDEL No—on his left. For a violinist that is even worse.
VERA Ah, of course—the weight and the fingering. [Subconsciously placing and fingering an imaginary violin.]
MENDEL That is why I fear so for his future—he will never be strong enough for the feats of bravura that the public demands.
VERA The wild beasts! I feel more ashamed of my country than ever. But there's his symphony.
MENDEL And who will look at that amateurish stuff? He knows so little of harmony and counterpoint—he breaks all the rules. I've tried to give him a few pointers—but he ought to have gone to Germany.
VERA Perhaps it's not too late.
MENDEL [Passionately] Ah, if you and your friends could help him! See—I'm begging after all. But it's not for myself.
VERA My father loves music. Perhaps he—but no! he lives in Kishineff. But I will think—there are people here—I will write to you.
MENDEL [Fervently] Thank you! Thank you!
VERA Now you must go to him. Good-bye. Tell him I count upon him for the Concert.
MENDEL How good you are! [He follows her to the street-door.]
VERA [At door] Say good-bye for me to your mother—she seems asleep.
MENDEL [Opening outer door] I am sorry it is snowing so.
VERA We Russians are used to it. [Smiling, at exit] Good-bye—let us hope your David will turn out a Rubinstein.
MENDEL [Closing the doors softly] I never thought a Russian Christian could be so human. [He looks at the clock.] Gott in Himmel—my dancing class! [He hurries into the overcoat hanging on the hat-rack. Re-enter DAVID, having composed himself, but still somewhat dazed.]
DAVID She is gone? Oh, but I have driven her away by my craziness. Is she very angry?
MENDEL Quite the contrary—she expects you at the Concert, and what is more——
DAVID [Ecstatically] And she understood! She understood my Crucible of God! Oh, uncle, you don't know what it means to me to have somebody who understands me. Even you have never understood——
MENDEL [Wounded] Nonsense! How can Miss Revendal understand you better than your own uncle?
DAVID [Mystically exalted] I can't explain—I feel it.
MENDEL Of course she's interested in your music, thank Heaven. But what true understanding can there be between a Russian Jew and a Russian Christian?
DAVID What understanding? Aren't we both Americans?
MENDEL Well, I haven't time to discuss it now. [He winds his muffler round his throat.]
DAVID Why, where are you going?
MENDEL [Ironically] Where should I be going—in the snow—on the eve of the Sabbath? Suppose we say to synagogue!
DAVID Oh, uncle—how you always seem to hanker after those old things!
MENDEL [Tartly] Nonsense! [He takes his umbrella from the stand.] I don't like to see our people going to pieces, that's all.
DAVID Then why did you come to America? Why didn't you work for a Jewish land? You're not even a Zionist.
MENDEL I can't argue now. There's a pack of giggling schoolgirls waiting to waltz.
DAVID The fresh romping young things! Think of their happiness! I should love to play for them.
MENDEL [Sarcastically] I can see you are yourself again. [He opens the street-door—turns back.] What about your own lesson? Can't we go together?
DAVID I must first write down what is singing in my soul—oh, uncle, it seems as if I knew suddenly what was wanting in my music!
MENDEL [Drily] Well, don't forget what is wanting in the house! The rent isn't paid yet. [Exit through street-door. As he goes out, he touches and kisses the Mezuzah on the door-post, with a subconsciously antagonistic revival of religious impulse. DAVID opens his desk, takes out a pile of musical manuscript, sprawls over his chair and, humming to himself, scribbles feverishly with the quill. After a few moments FRAU QUIXANO yawns, wakes, and stretches herself. Then she looks at the clock.]
FRAU QUIXANO Shabbos! [She rises and goes to the table and sees there are no candles, walks to the chiffonier and gets them and places them in the candlesticks, then lights the candles, muttering a ceremonial Hebrew benediction.] Boruch atto haddoshem elloheinu melech hoolam assher kiddishonu bemitzvosov vettzivonu lehadlik neir shel shabbos. [She pulls down the blinds of the two windows, then she goes to the rapt composer and touches him, remindingly, on the shoulder. He does not move, but continues writing.] Dovidel! [He looks up dazedly. She points to the candles.] Shabbos! [A sweet smile comes over his face, he throws the quill resignedly away and submits his head to her hands and her muttered Hebrew blessing.] Yesimcho elohim ke-efrayim vechimnasseh—yevorechecho haddoshem veyishmerecho, yoer hadoshem ponov eilecho vechunecho, yisso hadoshem ponov eilecho veyosem lecho sholom. [Then she goes toward the kitchen. As she turns at the door, he is again writing. She shakes her finger at him, repeating] Gut Shabbos!
DAVID Gut Shabbos! [Puts down the pen and smiles after her till the door closes, then with a deep sigh takes his cape from the peg and his violin-case, pauses, still humming, to take up his pen and write down a fresh phrase, finally puts on his hat and is just about to open the street-door when KATHLEEN enters from her bedroom fully dressed to go, and laden with a large brown paper parcel and an umbrella. He turns at the sound of her footsteps and remains at the door, holding his violin-case during the ensuing dialogue.]
DAVID You're not going out this bitter weather?
KATHLEEN [Sharply fending him off with her umbrella] And who's to shtay me?
DAVID Oh, but you mustn't—I'll do your errand—what is it?
KATHLEEN [Indignantly] Errand, is it, indeed! I'm not here!
DAVID Not here?
KATHLEEN I'm lavin', they'll come for me thrunk—and ye'll witness I don't take the candleshtick.
DAVID But who's sending you away?
KATHLEEN It's sending meself away I am—yer houly grandmother has me disthroyed intirely.
DAVID Why, what has the poor old la——?
KATHLEEN I don't be saltin' the mate and I do be mixin' the crockery and——!
DAVID [Gently] I know, I know—but, Kathleen, remember she was brought up to these things from childhood. And her father was a Rabbi.
KATHLEEN What's that? A priest?
DAVID A sort of priest. In Russia he was a great man. Her husband, too, was a mighty scholar, and to give him time to study the holy books she had to do chores all day for him and the children.
KATHLEEN Oh, those priests!
DAVID [Smiling] No, he wasn't a priest. But he took sick and died and the children left her—went to America or heaven or other far-off places—and she was left all penniless and alone.
KATHLEEN Poor ould lady.
DAVID Not so old yet, for she was married at fifteen.
KATHLEEN Poor young crathur!
DAVID But she was still the good angel of the congregation—sat up with the sick and watched over the dead.
KATHLEEN Saints alive! And not scared?
DAVID No, nothing scared her—except me. I got a broken-down fiddle and used to play it even on Shabbos—I was very naughty. But she was so lovely to me. I still remember the heavenly taste of a piece of Motso she gave me dipped in raisin wine! Passover cake, you know.
KATHLEEN [Proudly] Oh, I know Motso.
DAVID [Smacks his lips, repeats] Heavenly!
KATHLEEN Sure, I must tashte it.
DAVID [Shaking his head, mysteriously] Only little boys get that tashte.
KATHLEEN That's quare.
DAVID [Smiling] Very quare. And then one day my uncle sent the old lady a ticket to come to America. But it is not so happy for her here because you see my uncle has to be near his theatre and can't live in the Jewish quarter, and so nobody understands her, and she sits all the livelong day alone—alone with her book and her religion and her memories——
KATHLEEN [Breaking down] Oh, Mr. David!
DAVID And now all this long, cold, snowy evening she'll sit by the fire alone, thinking of her dead, and the fire will sink lower and lower, and she won't be able to touch it, because it's the holy Sabbath, and there'll be no kind Kathleen to brighten up the grey ashes, and then at last, sad and shivering, she'll creep up to her room without a candlestick, and there in the dark and the cold——
KATHLEEN [Hysterically bursting into tears, dropping her parcel, and untying her bonnet-strings] Oh, Mr. David, I won't mix the crockery, I won't——
DAVID [Heartily] Of course you won't. Good night. [He slips out hurriedly through the street-door as KATHLEEN throws off her bonnet, and the curtain falls quickly. As it rises again, she is seen strenuously poking the fire, illumined by its red glow.]
The same scene on an afternoon a month later. DAVID is discovered at his desk, scribbling music in a fever of enthusiasm. MENDEL, dressed in his best, is playing softly on the piano, watching DAVID. After an instant or two of indecision, he puts down the piano-lid with a bang and rises decisively.
DAVID [Putting up his left hand] Please, please—— [He writes feverishly.]
MENDEL But I want to talk to you seriously—at once.
DAVID I'm just re-writing the Finale. Oh, such a splendid inspiration! [He writes on.]
MENDEL [Shrugs his shoulders and reseats himself at piano. He plays a bar or two. Looks at watch impatiently. Resolutely] David, I've got wonderful news for you. Miss Revendal is bringing somebody to see you, and we have hopes of getting you sent to Germany to study composition. [DAVID does not reply, but writes rapidly on.] Why, he hasn't heard a word! [He shouts.] David!
DAVID [Writing on] I can't, uncle. I must put it down while that glorious impression is fresh.
MENDEL What impression? You only went to the People's Alliance.
DAVID Yes, and there I saw the Jewish children—a thousand of 'em—saluting the Flag. [He writes on.]
MENDEL Well, what of that?
DAVID What of that? [He throws down his quill and jumps up.] But just fancy it, uncle. The Stars and Stripes unfurled, and a thousand childish voices, piping and foreign, fresh from the lands of oppression, hailing its fluttering folds. I cried like a baby.
MENDEL I'm afraid you are one.
DAVID Ah, but if you had heard them—"Flag of our Great Republic"—the words have gone singing at my heart ever since— [He turns to the flag over the door.] "Flag of our Great Republic, guardian of our homes, whose stars and stripes stand for Bravery, Purity, Truth, and Union, we salute thee. We, the natives of distant lands, who find [Half-sobbing] rest under thy folds, do pledge our hearts, our lives, our sacred honour to love and protect thee, our Country, and the liberty of the American people for ever." [He ends almost hysterically.]
MENDEL [Soothingly] Quite right. But you needn't get so excited over it.
DAVID Not when one hears the roaring of the fires of God? Not when one sees the souls melting in the Crucible? Uncle, all those little Jews will grow up Americans!
MENDEL [Putting a pacifying hand on his shoulder and forcing him into a chair] Sit down. I want to talk to you about your affairs.
DAVID [Sitting] My affairs! But I've been talking about them all the time!
MENDEL Nonsense, David. [He sits beside him.] Don't you think it's time you got into a wider world?
DAVID Eh? This planet's wide enough for me.
MENDEL Do be serious. You don't want to live all your life in this room.
DAVID [Looks round] What's the matter with this room? It's princely.
MENDEL [Raising his hands in horror] Princely!
DAVID Imperial. Remember when I first saw it—after pigging a week in the rocking steerage, swinging in a berth as wide as my fiddle-case, hung near the cooking-engines; imagine the hot rancid smell of the food, the oil of the machinery, the odours of all that close-packed, sea-sick——
MENDEL [Putting his hand over DAVID'S mouth] Don't! You make me ill! How could you ever bear it?
DAVID [Smiling] I was quite happy—I only had to fancy I'd been shipwrecked, and that after clinging to a plank five days without food or water on the great lonely Atlantic, my frozen, sodden form had been picked up by this great safe steamer and given this delightful dry berth, regular meals, and the spectacle of all these friendly faces.... Do you know who was on board that boat? Quincy Davenport.
MENDEL The lord of corn and oil?
DAVID [Smiling] Yes, even we wretches in the steerage felt safe to think the lord was up above, we believed the company would never dare drown him. But could even Quincy Davenport command a cabin like this? [Waving his arm round the room.] Why, uncle, we have a cabin worth a thousand dollars—a thousand dollars a week—and what's more, it doesn't wobble! [He plants his feet voluptuously upon the floor.]
MENDEL Come, come, David, I asked you to be serious. Surely, some day you'd like your music produced?
DAVID [Jumps up] Wouldn't it be glorious? To hear it all actually coming out of violins and 'cellos, drums and trumpets.
MENDEL And you'd like it to go all over the world?
DAVID All over the world and all down the ages.
MENDEL But don't you see that unless you go and study seriously in Germany——? [Enter KATHLEEN from kitchen, carrying a furnished tea-tray with ear-shaped cakes, bread and butter, etc., and wearing a grotesque false nose. MENDEL cries out in amaze.] Kathleen!
DAVID [Roaring with boyish laughter] Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
KATHLEEN [Standing still with her tray] Sure, what's the matter?
DAVID Look in the glass!
KATHLEEN [Going to the mantel] Houly Moses! [She drops the tray, which MENDEL catches, and snatches off the nose.] Och, I forgot to take it off—'twas the misthress gave it me—I put it on to cheer her up.
DAVID Is she so miserable, then?
KATHLEEN Terrible low, Mr. David, to-day being Purim.
MENDEL Purim! Is to-day Purim? [Gives her the tea-tray back. KATHLEEN, to take it, drops her nose and forgets to pick it up.]
DAVID But Purim is a merry time, Kathleen, like your Carnival. Haven't you read the book of Esther—how the Jews of Persia escaped massacre?
KATHLEEN That's what the misthress is so miserable about. Ye don't keep the Carnival. There's noses for both of ye in the kitchen—didn't I go with her to Hester Street to buy 'em?—but ye don't be axin' for 'em. And to see your noses layin' around so solemn and neglected, faith, it nearly makes me chry meself.
MENDEL [Bitterly to himself] Who can remember about Purim in America?
DAVID [Half-smiling] Poor granny, tell her to come in and I'll play her Purim jig.
MENDEL [Hastily] No, no, David, not here—the visitors!
DAVID Visitors? What visitors?
MENDEL [Impatiently] That's just what I've been trying to explain.
DAVID Well, I can play in the kitchen. [He takes his violin. Exit to kitchen. MENDEL sighs and shrugs his shoulders hopelessly at the boy's perversity, then fingers the cups and saucers.]
MENDEL [Anxiously] Is that the best tea-set?
KATHLEEN Can't you see it's the Passover set! [Ruefully] And shpiled intirely it'll be now for our Passover.... And the misthress thought the visitors might like to thry some of her Purim cakes. [Indicates ear-shaped cakes on tray.]
MENDEL [Bitterly] Purim cakes! [He turns his back on her and stares moodily out of the window.]
KATHLEEN [Mutters contemptuously] Call yerself a Jew and you forgettin' to keep Purim! [She is going back to the kitchen when a merry Slavic dance breaks out, softened by the door; her feet unconsciously get more and more into dance step, and at last she jigs out. As she opens and passes through the door, the music sounds louder.]
FRAU QUIXANO [Heard from kitchen] Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Kathleen!! [MENDEL'S feet, too, begin to take the swing of the music, and his feet dance as he stares out of the window. Suddenly the hoot of an automobile is heard, followed by the rattling up of the car.]
MENDEL Ah, she has brought somebody swell! [He throws open the doors and goes out eagerly to meet the visitors. The dance music goes on softly throughout the scene.]
QUINCY DAVENPORT [Outside] Oh, thank you—I leave the coats in the car. [Enter an instant later QUINCY DAVENPORT and VERA REVENDAL, MENDEL in the rear. VERA is dressed much as before, but with a motor veil, which she takes off during the scene. DAVENPORT is a dude, aping the air of a European sporting clubman. Aged about thirty-five and well set-up, he wears an orchid and an intermittent eyeglass, and gives the impression of a coarse-fibred and patronisingly facetious but not bad-hearted man, spoiled by prosperity.]
MENDEL Won't you be seated?
VERA First let me introduce my friend, who is good enough to interest himself in your nephew—Mr. Quincy Davenport.
MENDEL [Struck of a heap] Mr. Quincy Davenport! How strange!
VERA What is strange?
MENDEL David just mentioned Mr. Davenport's name—said they travelled to New York on the same boat.
QUINCY Impossible! Always travel on my own yacht. Slow but select. Must have been another man of the same name—my dad. Ha! Ha! Ha!
MENDEL Ah, of course. I thought you were too young.
QUINCY My dad, Miss Revendal, is one of those antiquated Americans who are always in a hurry!
VERA He burns coal and you burn time.
QUINCY Precisely! Ha! Ha! Ha!
MENDEL Won't you sit down—I'll go and prepare David.
VERA [Sitting] You've not prepared him yet?
MENDEL I've tried to more than once—but I never really got to—— [He smiles] to Germany. [QUINCY sits.]
VERA Then prepare him for three visitors.
VERA You see Mr. Davenport himself is no judge of music.
QUINCY [Jumps up] I beg your pardon.
VERA In manuscript.
QUINCY Ah, of course not. Music should be heard, not seen—like that jolly jig. Is that your David?
MENDEL Oh, you mustn't judge him by that. He's just fooling.
QUINCY Oh, he'd better not fool with Poppy. Poppy's awful severe.
QUINCY Pappelmeister—my private orchestra conductor.
MENDEL Is it your orchestra Pappelmeister conducts?
QUINCY Well, I pay the piper—and the drummer too! [He chuckles.]
MENDEL [Sadly] I wanted to play in it, but he turned me down.
QUINCY I told you he was awful severe. [To VERA] He only allows me comic opera once a week. My wife calls him the Bismarck of the baton.
MENDEL [Reverently] A great conductor!
QUINCY Would he have a twenty-thousand-dollar job with me if he wasn't? Not that he'd get half that in the open market—only I have to stick it on to keep him for my guests exclusively. [Looks at watch.] But he ought to be here, confound him. A conductor should keep time, eh, Miss Revendal? [He sniggers.]
MENDEL I'll bring David. Won't you help yourselves to tea? [To VERA] You see there's lemon for you—as in Russia. [Exit to kitchen—a moment afterwards the merry music stops in the middle of a bar.]
VERA Thank you. [Taking a cup.] Do you like lemon, Mr. Davenport?
QUINCY [Flirtatiously] That depends. The last I had was in Russia itself—from the fair hands of your mother, the Baroness.
VERA [Pained] Please don't say my mother, my mother is dead.
QUINCY [Fatuously misunderstanding] Oh, you have no call to be ashamed of your step-mother—she's a stunning creature; all the points of a tip-top Russian aristocrat, or Quincy Davenport's no judge of breed! Doesn't speak English like your father—but then the Baron is a wonder.
VERA [Takes up teapot] Father once hoped to be British Ambassador—that's why I had an English governess. But you never told me you met him in Russia.
QUINCY Surely! When I gave you all those love messages——
VERA [Pouring tea quickly] You said you met him at Wiesbaden.
QUINCY Yes, but we grew such pals I motored him and the Baroness back to St. Petersburg. Jolly country, Russia—they know how to live.
VERA [Coldly] I saw more of those who know how to die.... Milk and sugar?
QUINCY [Sentimentally] Oh, Miss Revendal! Have you forgotten?
VERA [Politely snubbing] How should I remember?
QUINCY You don't remember our first meeting? At the Settlement Bazaar? When I paid you a hundred dollars for every piece of sugar you put in?
VERA Did you? Then I hope you drank syrup.
QUINCY Ugh! I hate sugar—I sacrificed myself.
VERA To the Settlement? How heroic of you!
QUINCY No, not to the Settlement. To you!
VERA Then I'll only put milk in.
QUINCY I hate milk. But from you——
VERA Then we must fall back on the lemon.
QUINCY I loathe lemon. But from——
VERA Then you shall have your tea neat.
QUINCY I detest tea, and here it would be particularly cheap and nasty. But——
VERA Then you shall have a cake! [She offers plate.]
QUINCY [Taking one] Would they be eatable? [Tasting it.] Humph! Not bad. [Sentimentally] A little cake was all you would eat the only time you came to one of my private concerts. Don't you remember? We went down to supper together.
VERA [Taking his tea for herself and putting in lemon] I shall always remember the delicious music Herr Pappelmeister gave us.
QUINCY How unkind of you!
VERA Unkind? [She sips the tea and puts down the cup.] To be grateful for the music?
QUINCY You know what I mean—to forget me! [He tries to take her hand.]
VERA [Rising] Aren't you forgetting yourself?
QUINCY You mean because I'm married to that patched-and-painted creature? She's hankering for the stage again, the old witch.
VERA Hush! Marriages with comic opera stars are not usually domestic idylls.
QUINCY I fell a victim to my love of music.
VERA [Murmurs, smiling] Music!
QUINCY And I hadn't yet met the right breed—the true blue blood of Europe. I'll get a divorce. [Approaching her] Vera!
VERA [Retreating] You will make me sorry I came to you.
QUINCY No, don't say that—promised the Baron I'd always do all I could for——
VERA You promised? You dared discuss my affairs?
QUINCY It was your father began it. When he found I knew you, he almost wept with emotion. He asked a hundred questions about your life in America.
VERA His life and mine are for ever separate. He is a Reactionary, I a Radical.
QUINCY But he loves you dreadfully—he can't understand why you should go slaving away summer and winter in a Settlement—you a member of the Russian nobility!
VERA [With faint smile] I might say, noblesse oblige. But the truth is, I earn my living that way. It would do you good to slave there too!
QUINCY [Eagerly] Would they chain us together? I'd come to-morrow. [He moves nearer her. There is a double knock at the door.]
VERA [Relieved] Here's Pappelmeister!
QUINCY Bother Poppy—why is he so darned punctual? [Enter KATHLEEN from the kitchen.]
VERA [Smiling] Ah, you're still here.
KATHLEEN And why would I not be here? [She goes to open the door.]
PAPPELMEISTER Mr. Quixano?
KATHLEEN Yes, come in. [Enter HERR PAPPELMEISTER, a burly German figure with a leonine head, spectacles, and a mane of white hair—a figure that makes his employer look even coarser. He carries an umbrella, which he never lets go. He is at first grave and silent, which makes any burst of emotion the more striking. He and QUINCY DAVENPORT suggest a picture of "Dignity and Impudence." His English, as roughly indicated in the text, is extremely Teutonic.]
QUINCY You're late, Poppy! [PAPPELMEISTER silently bows to VERA.]
VERA [Smilingly goes and offers her hand.] Proud to meet you, Herr Pappelmeister!
QUINCY Excuse me—— [Introducing] Miss Revendal!—I forgot you and Poppy hadn't been introduced—curiously enough it was at Wiesbaden I picked him up too—he was conducting the opera—your folks were in my box. I don't think I ever met anyone so mad on music as the Baron. And the Baroness told me he had retired from active service in the Army because of the torture of listening to the average military band. Ha! Ha! Ha!
VERA Yes, my father once hoped my music would comfort him. [She smiles sadly.] Poor father! But a soldier must bear defeat. Herr Pappelmeister, may I not give you some tea? [She sits again at the table.]
QUINCY Tea! Lager's more in Poppy's line. [He chuckles.]
PAPPELMEISTER [Gravely] Bitte. Tea. [She pours out, he sits.] Lemon. Four lumps.... Nun, five!... Or six! [She hands him the cup.] Danke. [As he receives the cup, he utters an exclamation, for KATHLEEN after opening the door has lingered on, hunting around everywhere, and having finally crawled under the table has now brushed against his leg.]
VERA What are you looking for?
KATHLEEN [Her head emerging] My nose! [They are all startled and amused.]
VERA Your nose?
KATHLEEN I forgot me nose!
QUINCY Well, follow your nose—and you'll find it. Ha! Ha! Ha!
KATHLEEN [Pouncing on it] Here it is! [Picks it up near the armchair.]
KATHLEEN Sure, it's gotten all dirthy. [She takes out a handkerchief and wipes the nose carefully.]
QUINCY But why do you want a nose like that?
KATHLEEN [Proudly] Bekaz we're Hebrews!
VERA What do you mean?
KATHLEEN It's our Carnival to-day! Purim. [She carries her nose carefully and piously toward the kitchen.]
VERA Oh! I see. [Exit KATHLEEN.]
QUINCY [In horror] Miss Revendal, you don't mean to say you've brought me to a Jew!
VERA I'm afraid I have. I was thinking only of his genius, not his race. And you see, so many musicians are Jews.
QUINCY Not my musicians. No Jew's harp in my orchestra, eh? [He sniggers.] I wouldn't have a Jew if he paid me.
VERA I daresay you have some, all the same.
QUINCY Impossible. Poppy! Are there any Jews in my orchestra?
PAPPELMEISTER [Removing the cup from his mouth and speaking with sepulchral solemnity] Do you mean are dere any Christians?
QUINCY [In horror] Gee-rusalem! Perhaps you're a Jew!
PAPPELMEISTER [Gravely] I haf not de honour. But, if you brefer, I will gut out from my brogrammes all de Chewish composers. Was?
QUINCY Why, of course. Fire 'em out, every mother's son of 'em.
PAPPELMEISTER [Unsmiling] Also—no more comic operas!
PAPPELMEISTER Dey write all de comic operas!
QUINCY Brute! [PAPPELMEISTER'S chuckle is heard gurgling in his cup. Re-enter MENDEL from kitchen.]
MENDEL [To VERA] I'm so sorry—I can't get him to come in—he's terrible shy.
QUINCY Won't face the music, eh? [He sniggers.]
VERA Did you tell him I was here?
MENDEL Of course.
VERA [Disappointed] Oh!
MENDEL But I've persuaded him to let me show his MS.
VERA [With forced satisfaction] Oh, well, that's all we want. [MENDEL goes to the desk, opens it, and gets the MS. and offers it to QUINCY DAVENPORT.]
QUINCY Not for me—Poppy! [MENDEL offers it to PAPPELMEISTER, who takes it solemnly.]
MENDEL [Anxiously to PAPPELMEISTER] Of course you must remember his youth and his lack of musical education——
PAPPELMEISTER Bitte, das Pult! [MENDEL moves DAVID'S music-stand from the corner to the centre of the room. PAPPELMEISTER puts MS. on it.] So! [All eyes centre on him eagerly, MENDEL standing uneasily, the others sitting. PAPPELMEISTER polishes his glasses with irritating elaborateness and weary "achs," then reads in absolute silence. A pause.]
QUINCY [Bored by the silence] But won't you play it to us?
PAPPELMEISTER Blay it? Am I an orchestra? I blay it in my brain. [He goes on reading, his brow gets wrinkled. He ruffles his hair unconsciously. All watch him anxiously—he turns the page.] So!
VERA [Anxiously] You don't seem to like it!
PAPPELMEISTER I do not comprehend it.
MENDEL I knew it was crazy—it is supposed to be about America or a Crucible or something. And of course there are heaps of mistakes.
VERA That is why I am suggesting to Mr. Davenport to send him to Germany.
QUINCY I'll send as many Jews as you like to Germany. Ha! Ha! Ha!
PAPPELMEISTER [Absorbed, turning pages] Ach!—ach!—So!
QUINCY I'd even lend my own yacht to take 'em back. Ha! Ha! Ha!
VERA Sh! We're disturbing Herr Pappelmeister.
QUINCY Oh, Poppy's all right.
PAPPELMEISTER [Sublimely unconscious] Ach so—so—SO! Das ist etwas neues! [His umbrella begins to beat time, moving more and more vigorously, till at last he is conducting elaborately, stretching out his left palm for pianissimo passages, and raising it vigorously for forte, with every now and then an exclamation.] Wunderschoen!... pianissimo!—now the flutes! Clarinets! Ach, ergoetzlich ... bassoons and drums!... Fortissimo!... Kolossal! Kolossal! [Conducting in a fury of enthusiasm.]
VERA [Clapping her hands] Bravo! Bravo! I'm so excited!
QUINCY [Yawning] Then it isn't bad, Poppy?
PAPPELMEISTER [Not listening, never ceasing to conduct] Und de harp solo ... ach, reizend! ... Second violins——!
QUINCY But Poppy! We can't be here all day.
PAPPELMEISTER [Not listening, continuing pantomime action] Sh! Sh! Piano.
QUINCY [Outraged] Sh to me! [Rises.]
VERA He doesn't know it's you.
QUINCY But look here, Poppy—— [He seizes the wildly-moving umbrella. Blank stare of PAPPELMEISTER gradually returning to consciousness.]
PAPPELMEISTER Was giebt's...?
QUINCY We've had enough.
PAPPELMEISTER [Indignant] Enough? Enough? Of such a beaudiful symphony?
QUINCY It may be beautiful to you, but to us it's damn dull. See here, Poppy, if you're satisfied that the young fellow has sufficient talent to be sent to study in Germany——
PAPPELMEISTER In Germany! Germany has nodings to teach him, he has to teach Germany.
VERA Bravo! [She springs up.]
MENDEL I always said he was a genius!
QUINCY Well, at that rate you could put this stuff of his in one of my programmes. Sinfonia Americana, eh?
VERA Oh, that is good of you.
PAPPELMEISTER I should be broud to indroduce it to de vorld.
VERA And will it be played in that wonderful marble music-room overlooking the Hudson?
QUINCY Sure. Before five hundred of the smartest folk in America.
MENDEL Oh, thank you, thank you. That will mean fame!
QUINCY And dollars. Don't forget the dollars.
MENDEL I'll run and tell him. [He hastens into the kitchen, PAPPELMEISTER is re-absorbed in the MS., but no longer conducting.]
QUINCY You see, I'll help even a Jew for your sake.
VERA Hush! [Indicating PAPPELMEISTER.]
QUINCY Oh, Poppy's in the moon.
VERA You must help him for his own sake, for art's sake.
QUINCY And why not for heart's sake—for my sake? [He comes nearer.]
VERA [Crossing to PAPPELMEISTER] Herr Pappelmeister! When do you think you can produce it?
PAPPELMEISTER Wunderbar!... [Becoming half-conscious of VERA] Four lumps.... [Waking up] Bitte?
VERA How soon can you produce it?
PAPPELMEISTER How soon can he finish it?
VERA Isn't it finished?
PAPPELMEISTER I see von Finale scratched out and anoder not quite completed. But anyhow, ve couldn't broduce it before Saturday fortnight.
QUINCY Saturday fortnight! Not time to get my crowd.
PAPPELMEISTER Den ve say Saturday dree veeks. Yes?
QUINCY Yes. Stop a minute! Did you say Saturday? That's my comic opera night! You thief!
PAPPELMEISTER Somedings must be sagrificed.
MENDEL [Outside] But you must come, David. [The kitchen door opens, and MENDEL drags in the boyishly shrinking DAVID. PAPPELMEISTER thumps with his umbrella, VERA claps her hands, QUINCY DAVENPORT produces his eyeglass and surveys DAVID curiously.]
VERA Oh, Mr. Quixano, I am so glad! Mr. Davenport is going to produce your symphony in his wonderful music-room.
QUINCY Yes, young man, I'm going to give you the smartest audience in America. And if Poppy is right, you're just going to rake in the dollars. America wants a composer.
PAPPELMEISTER [Raises hands emphatically.] Ach Gott, ja!
VERA [To DAVID] Why don't you speak? You're not angry with me for interfering——?
DAVID I can never be grateful enough to you——
VERA Oh, not to me. It is to Mr. Davenport you——
DAVID And I can never be grateful enough to Herr Pappelmeister. It is an honour even to meet him. [Bows.]
PAPPELMEISTER [Choking with emotion, goes and pats him on the back.] Mein braver Junge!
VERA [Anxiously] But it is Mr. Davenport——
DAVID Before I accept Mr. Davenport's kindness, I must know to whom I am indebted—and if Mr. Davenport is the man who——
QUINCY Who travelled with you to New York? Ha! Ha! Ha! No, I'm only the junior.
DAVID Oh, I know, sir, you don't make the money you spend.
VERA [Anxiously] He means he knows you're not in business.
DAVID Yes, sir; but is it true you are in pleasure?
QUINCY [Puzzled] I beg your pardon?
DAVID Are all the stories the papers print about you true?
QUINCY All the stories. That's a tall order. Ha! Ha! Ha!
DAVID Well, anyhow, is it true that——?
VERA Mr. Quixano! What are you driving at?
QUINCY Oh, it's rather fun to hear what the masses read about me. Fire ahead. Is what true?
DAVID That you were married in a balloon?
QUINCY Ho! Ha! Ha! That's true enough. Marriage in high life, they said, didn't they? Ha! Ha! Ha!
DAVID And is it true you live in America only two months in the year, and then only to entertain Europeans who wander to these wild parts?
QUINCY Lucky for you, young man. You'll have an Italian prince and a British duke to hear your scribblings.
DAVID And the palace where they will hear my scribblings—is it true that——?
VERA [Who has been on pins and needles] Mr. Quixano, what possible——?
DAVID [Entreatingly holds up a hand.] Miss Revendal! [To QUINCY DAVENPORT] Is this palace the same whose grounds were turned into Venetian canals where the guests ate in gondolas—gondolas that were draped with the most wonderful trailing silks in imitation of the Venetian nobility in the great water fetes?
QUINCY [Turns to VERA] Ah, Miss Revendal—what a pity you refused that invitation! It was a fairy scene of twinkling lights and delicious darkness—each couple had their own gondola to sup in, and their own side-canal to slip down. Eh? Ha! Ha! Ha!
DAVID And the same night, women and children died of hunger in New York!
QUINCY [Startled, drops eyeglass.] Eh?
DAVID [Furiously] And this is the sort of people you would invite to hear my symphony—these gondola-guzzlers!
VERA Mr. Quixano!
DAVID These magnificent animals who went into the gondolas two by two, to feed and flirt!
QUINCY [Dazed] Sir!
DAVID I should be a new freak for you for a new freak evening—I and my dreams and my music!
QUINCY You low-down, ungrateful——
DAVID Not for you and such as you have I sat here writing and dreaming; not for you who are killing my America!
QUINCY Your America, forsooth, you Jew-immigrant!
VERA Mr. Davenport!
DAVID Yes—Jew-immigrant! But a Jew who knows that your Pilgrim Fathers came straight out of his Old Testament, and that our Jew-immigrants are a greater factor in the glory of this great commonwealth than some of you sons of the soil. It is you, freak-fashionables, who are undoing the work of Washington and Lincoln, vulgarising your high heritage, and turning the last and noblest hope of humanity into a caricature.
QUINCY [Rocking with laughter] Ha! Ha! Ha! Ho! Ho! Ho! [To VERA.] You never told me your Jew-scribbler was a socialist!
DAVID I am nothing but a simple artist, but I come from Europe, one of her victims, and I know that she is a failure; that her palaces and peerages are outworn toys of the human spirit, and that the only hope of mankind lies in a new world. And here—in the land of to-morrow—you are trying to bring back Europe——
QUINCY [Interjecting] I wish we could!——
DAVID Europe with her comic-opera coronets and her worm-eaten stage decorations, and her pomp and chivalry built on a morass of crime and misery——
QUINCY [With sneering laugh] Morass!
DAVID [With prophetic passion] But you shall not kill my dream! There shall come a fire round the Crucible that will melt you and your breed like wax in a blowpipe——
QUINCY [Furiously, with clenched fist] You——
DAVID America shall make good...!
PAPPELMEISTER [Who has sat down and remained imperturbably seated throughout all this scene, springs up and waves his umbrella hysterically] Hoch Quixano! Hoch! Hoch! Es lebe Quixano! Hoch!
QUINCY Poppy! You're dismissed!
PAPPELMEISTER [Goes to DAVID with outstretched hand] Danke. [They grip hands. PAPPELMEISTER turns to QUINCY DAVENPORT.] Comic Opera! Ouf!
QUINCY [Goes to street-door, at white heat.] Are you coming, Miss Revendal? [He opens the door.]
VERA [To QUINCY, but not moving] Pray, pray, accept my apologies—believe me, if I had known——
QUINCY [Furiously] Then stop with your Jew! [Exit.]
MENDEL [Frantically] But, Mr. Davenport—don't go! He is only a boy. [Exit after QUINCY DAVENPORT.] You must consider——
DAVID Oh, Herr Pappelmeister, you have lost your place!
PAPPELMEISTER And saved my soul. Dollars are de devil. Now I must to an appointment. Auf baldiges Wiedersehen. [He shakes DAVID'S hand.] Fraeulein Revendal! [He takes her hand and kisses it. Exit. DAVID and VERA stand gazing at each other.]
VERA What have you done? What have you done?
DAVID What else could I do?
VERA I hate the smart set as much as you—but as your ladder and your trumpet——
DAVID I would not stand indebted to them. I know you meant it for my good, but what would these Europe-apers have understood of my America—the America of my music? They look back on Europe as a pleasure ground, a palace of art—but I know [Getting hysterical] it is sodden with blood, red with bestial massacres——
VERA [Alarmed, anxious] Let us talk no more about it. [She holds out her hand.] Good-bye.
DAVID [Frozen, taking it, holding it] Ah, you are offended by my ingratitude—I shall never see you again.
VERA No, I am not offended. But I have failed to help you. We have nothing else to meet for. [She disengages her hand.]
DAVID Why will you punish me so? I have only hurt myself.
VERA It is not a punishment.
DAVID What else? When you are with me, all the air seems to tremble with fairy music played by some unseen fairy orchestra.
VERA [Tremulous] And yet you wouldn't come in just now when I——
DAVID I was too frightened of the others....
VERA [Smiling] Frightened indeed!
DAVID Yes, I know I became overbold—but to take all that magic sweetness out of my life for ever—you don't call that a punishment?
VERA [Blushing] How could I wish to punish you? I was proud of you! [Drops her eyes, murmurs] Besides it would be punishing myself.
DAVID [In passionate amaze] Miss Revendal!... But no, it cannot be. It is too impossible.
VERA [Frightened] Yes, too impossible. Good-bye. [She turns.]
DAVID But not for always? [VERA hangs her head. He comes nearer. Passionately] Promise me that you—that I—— [He takes her hand again.]
VERA [Melting at his touch, breathes] Yes, yes, David.
DAVID Miss Revendal! [She falls into his arms.]
VERA My dear! my dear!
DAVID It is a dream. You cannot care for me—you so far above me.
VERA Above you, you simple boy? Your genius lifts you to the stars.
DAVID No, no; it is you who lift me there——
VERA [Smoothing his hair] Oh, David. And to think that I was brought up to despise your race.
DAVID [Sadly] Yes, all Russians are.
VERA But we of the nobility in particular.
DAVID [Amazed, half-releasing her] You are noble?
VERA My father is Baron Revendal, but I have long since carved out a life of my own.
DAVID Then he will not separate us?
VERA No. [Re-embracing him.] Nothing can separate us. [A knock at the street-door. They separate. The automobile is heard clattering off.]
DAVID It is my uncle coming back.
VERA [In low, tense tones] Then I shall slip out. I could not bear a third. I will write. [She goes to the door.]
DAVID Yes, yes ... Vera. [He follows her to the door. He opens it and she slips out.]
MENDEL [Half-seen at the door, expostulating] You, too, Miss Revendal——? [Re-enters.] Oh, David, you have driven away all your friends.
DAVID [Going to window and looking after VERA] Not all, uncle. Not all. [He throws his arms boyishly round his uncle.] I am so happy.
DAVID She loves me—Vera loves me.
DAVID Miss Revendal.
MENDEL Have you lost your wits? [He throws DAVID off.]
DAVID I don't wonder you're amazed. Maybe you think I wasn't. It is as if an angel should stoop down——
MENDEL [Hoarsely] This is true? This is not some stupid Purim joke?
DAVID True and sacred as the sunrise.
MENDEL But you are a Jew!
DAVID Yes, and just think! She was bred up to despise Jews—her father was a Russian baron——
MENDEL If she was the daughter of fifty barons, you cannot marry her.
DAVID [In pained amaze] Uncle! [Slowly] Then your hankering after the synagogue was serious after all.
MENDEL It is not so much the synagogue—it is the call of our blood through immemorial generations.
DAVID You say that! You who have come to the heart of the Crucible, where the roaring fires of God are fusing our race with all the others.
MENDEL [Passionately] Not our race, not your race and mine.
DAVID What immunity has our race? [Meditatively] The pride and the prejudice, the dreams and the sacrifices, the traditions and the superstitions, the fasts and the feasts, things noble and things sordid—they must all into the Crucible.
MENDEL [With prophetic fury] The Jew has been tried in a thousand fires and only tempered and annealed.
DAVID Fires of hate, not fires of love. That is what melts.
MENDEL [Sneeringly] So I see.
DAVID Your sneer is false. The love that melted me was not Vera's—it was the love America showed me—the day she gathered me to her breast.
MENDEL [Speaking passionately and rapidly] Many countries have gathered us. Holland took us when we were driven from Spain—but we did not become Dutchmen. Turkey took us when Germany oppressed us, but we have not become Turks.
DAVID These countries were not in the making. They were old civilisations stamped with the seal of creed. In such countries the Jew may be right to stand out. But here in this new secular Republic we must look forward——
MENDEL [Passionately interrupting] We must look backwards, too.
DAVID [Hysterically] To what? To Kishineff? [As if seeing his vision] To that butcher's face directing the slaughter? To those——?
MENDEL [Alarmed] Hush! Calm yourself!
DAVID [Struggling with himself] Yes, I will calm myself—but how else shall I calm myself save by forgetting all that nightmare of religions and races, save by holding out my hands with prayer and music toward the Republic of Man and the Kingdom of God! The Past I cannot mend—its evil outlines are stamped in immortal rigidity. Take away the hope that I can mend the Future, and you make me mad.
MENDEL You are mad already—your dreams are mad—the Jew is hated here as everywhere—you are false to your race.
DAVID I keep faith with America. I have faith America will keep faith with us. [He raises his hands in religious rapture toward the flag over the door.] Flag of our great Republic, guardian of our homes, whose stars and——
MENDEL Spare me that rigmarole. Go out and marry your Gentile and be happy.
DAVID You turn me out?
MENDEL Would you stay and break my mother's heart? You know she would mourn for you with the rending of garments and the seven days' sitting on the floor. Go! You have cast off the God of our fathers!
DAVID [Thundrously] And the God of our children—does He demand no service? [Quieter, coming toward his uncle and touching him affectionately on the shoulder.] You are right—I do need a wider world. [Expands his lungs.] I must go away.
MENDEL Go, then—I'll hide the truth—she must never suspect—lest she mourn you as dead.
FRAU QUIXANO [Outside, in the kitchen] Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! [Both men turn toward the kitchen and listen.]
KATHLEEN Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
FRAU QUIXANO AND KATHLEEN Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
MENDEL [Bitterly] A merry Purim! [The kitchen door opens and remains ajar. FRAU QUIXANO rushes in, carrying DAVID'S violin and bow. KATHLEEN looks in, grinning.]
FRAU QUIXANO [Hilariously] Nu spiel noch! spiel! [She holds the violin and bow appealingly toward DAVID.]
MENDEL [Putting out a protesting hand] No, no, David—I couldn't bear it.
DAVID But I must! You said she mustn't suspect. [He looks lovingly at her as he loudly utters these words, which are unintelligible to her.] And it may be the last time I shall ever play for her. [Changing to a mock merry smile as he takes the violin and bow from her] Gewiss, Granny! [He starts the same old Slavic dance.]
FRAU QUIXANO [Childishly pleased] He! He! He! [She claps on a false grotesque nose from her pocket.]
DAVID [Torn between laughter and tears] Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
MENDEL [Shocked] Mutter!
FRAU QUIXANO Un' du auch! [She claps another false nose on MENDEL, laughing in childish glee at the effect. Then she starts dancing to the music, and KATHLEEN slips in and joyously dances beside her.]
DAVID [Joining tearfully in the laughter] Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! [The curtain falls quickly. It rises again upon the picture of FRAU QUIXANO fallen back into a chair, exhausted with laughter, fanning herself with her apron, while KATHLEEN has dropped breathless across the arm of the armchair; DAVID is still playing on, and MENDEL, his false nose torn off, stands by, glowering. The curtain falls again and rises upon a final tableau of DAVID in his cloak and hat, stealing out of the door with his violin, casting a sad farewell glance at the old woman and at the home which has sheltered him.]
April, about a month later. The scene changes to MISS REVENDAL'S sitting-room at the Settlement House on a sunny day. Simple, pretty furniture: a sofa, chairs, small table, etc. An open piano with music. Flowers and books about. Fine art reproductions on walls. The fireplace is on the left. A door on the left leads to the hall, and a door on the right to the interior. A servant enters from the left, ushering in BARON and BARONESS REVENDAL and QUINCY DAVENPORT. The BARON is a tall, stern, grizzled man of military bearing, with a narrow, fanatical forehead and martinet manners, but otherwise of honest and distinguished appearance, with a short, well-trimmed white beard and well-cut European clothes. Although his dignity is diminished by the constant nervous suspiciousness of the Russian official, it is never lost; his nervousness, despite its comic side, being visibly the tragic shadow of his position. His English has only a touch of the foreign in accent and vocabulary and is much superior to his wife's, which comes to her through her French. The BARONESS is pretty and dressed in red in the height of Paris fashion, but blazes with barbaric jewels at neck and throat and wrist. She gestures freely with her hand, which, when ungloved, glitters with heavy rings. She is much younger than the BARON and self-consciously fascinating. Her parasol, which matches her costume, suggests the sunshine without. QUINCY DAVENPORT is in a smart spring suit with a motor dust-coat and cap, which last he lays down on the mantelpiece.
SERVANT Miss Revendal is on the roof-garden. I'll go and tell her. [Exit, toward the hall.]
BARON A marvellous people, you Americans. Gardens in the sky!
QUINCY Gardens, forsooth! We plant a tub and call it Paradise. No, Baron. New York is the great stone desert.
BARONESS But ze big beautiful Park vere ve drove tru?
QUINCY No taste, Baroness, modern sculpture and menageries! Think of the Medici gardens at Rome.
BARONESS Ah, Rome! [With an ecstatic sigh, she drops into an armchair. Then she takes out a dainty cigarette-case, pulls off her right-hand glove, exhibiting her rings, and chooses a cigarette. The BARON, seeing this, produces his match-box.]
QUINCY And now, dear Baron Revendal, having brought you safely to the den of the lioness—if I may venture to call your daughter so—I must leave you to do the taming, eh?
BARON You are always of the most amiable. [He strikes a match.]
BARONESS Tout a fait charmant. [The BARON lights her cigarette.]
QUINCY [Bows gallantly] Don't mention it. I'll just have my auto take me to the Club, and then I'll send it back for you.
BARONESS Ah, zank you—zat street-car looks horreeble. [She puffs out smoke.]
BARON Quite impossible. What is to prevent an anarchist sitting next to you and shooting out your brains?
QUINCY We haven't much of that here—I don't mean brains. Ha! Ha! Ha!
BARON But I saw desperadoes spying as we came off your yacht.
QUINCY Oh, that was newspaper chaps.
BARON [Shakes his head] No—they are circulating my appearance to all the gang in the States. They took snapshots.
QUINCY Then you're quite safe from recognition. [He sniggers.] Didn't they ask you questions?
BARON Yes, but I am a diplomat. I do not reply.
QUINCY That's not very diplomatic here. Ha! Ha!
BARON Diable! [He claps his hand to his hip pocket, half-producing a pistol. The BARONESS looks equally anxious.]
QUINCY What's up?
BARON [Points to window, whispers hoarsely] Regard! A hooligan peeped in!
QUINCY [Goes to window] Only some poor devil come to the Settlement.
BARON [Hoarsely] But under his arm—a bomb!
QUINCY [Shaking his head smilingly] A soup bowl.
BARONESS Ha! Ha! Ha!
QUINCY What makes you so nervous, Baron? [The BARON slips back his pistol, a little ashamed.]
BARONESS Ze Intellectuals and ze Bund, zey all hate my husband because he is faizful to Christ [Crossing herself] and ze Tsar.
QUINCY But the Intellectuals are in Russia.
BARON They have their branches here—the refugees are the leaders—it is a diabolical network.
QUINCY Well, anyhow, we're not in Russia, eh? No, no, Baron, you're quite safe. Still, you can keep my automobile as long as you like—I've plenty.
BARON A thousand thanks. [Wiping his forehead.] But surely no gentleman would sit in the public car, squeezed between working-men and shop-girls, not to say Jews and Blacks.
QUINCY It is done here. But we shall change all that. Already we have a few taxi-cabs. Give us time, my dear Baron, give us time. You mustn't judge us by your European standard.
BARON By the European standard, Mr. Davenport, you put our hospitality to the shame. From the moment you sent your yacht for us to Odessa——
QUINCY Pray, don't ever speak of that again—you know how anxious I was to get you to New York.
BARON Provided we have arrived in time!
QUINCY That's all right, I keep telling you. They aren't married yet——
BARON [Grinding his teeth and shaking his fist] Those Jew-vermin—all my life I have suffered from them!
QUINCY We all suffer from them.
BARONESS Zey are ze pests of ze civilisation.
BARON But this supreme insult Vera shall not put on the blood of the Revendals—not if I have to shoot her down with my own hand—and myself after!
QUINCY No, no, Baron, that's not done here. Besides, if you shoot her down, where do I come in, eh?
BARON [Puzzled] Where you come in?
QUINCY Oh, Baron! Surely you have guessed that it is not merely Jew-hate, but—er—Christian love. Eh? [Laughing uneasily.]
BARONESS [Clapping her hands] Oh, charmant, charmant! But it ees a romance!
BARON But you are married!
BARONESS [Downcast] Ah, oui. Quel dommage, vat a peety!
QUINCY You forget, Baron, we are in America. The law giveth and the law taketh away. [He sniggers.]
BARONESS It ees a vonderful country! But your vife—hein?—vould she consent?
QUINCY She's mad to get back on the stage—I'll run a theatre for her. It's your daughter's consent that's the real trouble—she won't see me because I lost my temper and told her to stop with her Jew. So I look to you to straighten things out.
BARONESS Mais parfaitement.
BARON [Frowning at her] You go too quick, Katusha. What influence have I on Vera? And you she has never even seen! To kick out the Jew-beast is one thing....
QUINCY Well, anyhow, don't shoot her—shoot the beast rather. [Sniggeringly.]
BARON Shooting is too good for the enemies of Christ. [Crossing himself.] At Kishineff we stick the swine.
QUINCY [Interested] Ah! I read about that. Did you see the massacre?
BARON Which one? Give me a cigarette, Katusha. [She obeys.] We've had several Jew-massacres in Kishineff.
QUINCY Have you? The papers only boomed one—four or five years ago—about Easter time, I think——
BARON Ah, yes—when the Jews insulted the procession of the Host! [Taking a light from the cigarette in his wife's mouth.]
QUINCY Did they? I thought——
BARON [Sarcastically] I daresay. That's the lies they spread in the West. They have the Press in their hands, damn 'em. But you see I was on the spot. [He drops into a chair.] I had charge of the whole district.
QUINCY [Startled] You!
BARON Yes, and I hurried a regiment up to teach the blaspheming brutes manners—— [He puffs out a leisurely cloud.]
QUINCY [Whistling] Whew!... I—I say, old chap, I mean Baron, you'd better not say that here.
BARON Why not? I am proud of it.
BARONESS My husband vas decorated for it—he has ze order of St. Vladimir.
BARON [Proudly] Second class! Shall we allow these bigots to mock at all we hold sacred? The Jews are the deadliest enemies of our holy autocracy and of the only orthodox Church. Their Bund is behind all the Revolution.
BARONESS A plague-spot muz be cut out!
QUINCY Well, I'd keep it dark if I were you. Kishineff is a back number, and we don't take much stock in the new massacres. Still, we're a bit squeamish——
BARON Squeamish! Don't you lynch and roast your niggers?
QUINCY Not officially. Whereas your Black Hundreds——
BARON Black Hundreds! My dear Mr. Davenport, they are the white hosts of Christ [Crossing himself] and of the Tsar, who is God's vicegerent on earth. Have you not read the works of our sainted Pobiedonostzeff, Procurator of the Most Holy Synod?
QUINCY Well, of course, I always felt there was another side to it, but still——
BARONESS Perhaps he has right, Alexis. Our Ambassador vonce told me ze Americans are more sentimental zan civilised.
BARON Ah, let them wait till they have ten million vermin overrunning their country—we shall see how long they will be sentimental. Think of it! A burrowing swarm creeping and crawling everywhere, ugh! They ruin our peasantry with their loans and their drink shops, ruin our army with their revolutionary propaganda, ruin our professional classes by snatching all the prizes and professorships, ruin our commercial classes by monopolising our sugar industries, our oil-fields, our timber-trade.... Why, if we gave them equal rights, our Holy Russia would be entirely run by them.
BARONESS Mon dieu! C'est vrai. Ve real Russians vould become slaves.
QUINCY Then what are you going to do with them?
BARON One-third will be baptized, one-third massacred, the other third emigrated here. [He strikes a match to relight his cigarette.]
QUINCY [Shudderingly] Thank you, my dear Baron,—you've already sent me one Jew too many. We're going to stop all alien immigration.
BARON To stop all alien—? But that is barbarous!
QUINCY Well, don't let us waste our time on the Jew-problem ... our own little Jew-problem is enough, eh? Get rid of this little fiddler. Then I may have a look in. Adieu, Baron.
BARON Adieu. [Holding his hand] But you are not really serious about Vera? [The BARONESS makes a gesture of annoyance.]
QUINCY Not serious, Baron? Why, to marry her is the only thing I have ever wanted that I couldn't get. It is torture! Baroness, I rely on your sympathy. [He kisses her hand with a pretentious foreign air.]
BARONESS [In sentimental approval] Ah! l'amour! l'amour! [Exit QUINCY DAVENPORT, taking his cap in passing.] You might have given him a little encouragement, Alexis.
BARON Silence, Katusha. I only tolerated the man in Europe because he was a link with Vera.
BARONESS You accepted his yacht and his——
BARON If I had known his loose views on divorce——
BARONESS I am sick of your scruples. You are ze only poor official in Bessarabia.
BARON Be silent! Have I not forbidden——?
BARONESS [Petulantly] Forbidden! Forbidden! All your life you have served ze Tsar, and you cannot afford a single automobile. A millionaire son-in-law is just vat you owe me.
BARON What I owe you?
BARONESS Yes, ven I married you, I vas tinking you had a good position. I did not know you were too honest to use it. You vere not open viz me, Alexis.
BARON You knew I was a Revendal. The Revendals keep their hands clean.... [With a sudden start he tiptoes noiselessly to the door leading to the hall and throws it open. Nobody is visible. He closes it shamefacedly.]
BARONESS [Has shared his nervousness till the door was opened, but now bursts into mocking laughter] If you thought less about your precious safety, and more about me and Vera——
BARON Hush! You do not know Vera. You saw I was even afraid to give my name. She might have sent me away as she sent away the Tsar's plate of mutton.
BARONESS The Tsar's plate of——?
BARON Did I never tell you? When she was only a school-girl—at the Imperial High School—the Tsar on his annual visit tasted the food, and Vera, as the show pupil, was given the honour of finishing his Majesty's plate.
BARONESS [In incredulous horror] And she sent it avay?
BARON Gave it to a servant. [Awed silence.] And then you think I can impose a husband on her. No, Katusha, I have to win her love for myself, not for millionaires.
BARONESS [Angry again] Alvays so affrightfully selfish!
BARON I have no control over her, I tell you! [Bitterly] I never could control my womenkind.
BARONESS Because you zink zey are your soldiers. Silence! Halt! Forbidden! Right Veel! March!
BARON [Sullenly] I wish I did think they were my soldiers—I might try the lash.
BARONESS [Springing up angrily, shakes parasol at him] You British barbarian!
VERA [Outside the door leading to the interior] Yes, thank you, Miss Andrews. I know I have visitors.
BARON [Ecstatically] Vera's voice! [The BARONESS lowers her parasol. He looks yearningly toward the door. It opens. Enter VERA with inquiring gaze.]
VERA [With a great shock of surprise] Father!!
BARON Verotschka! My dearest darling!... [He makes a movement toward her, but is checked by her irresponsiveness.] Why, you've grown more beautiful than ever.
VERA You in New York!
BARON The Baroness wished to see America. Katusha, this is my daughter.
BARONESS [In sugared sweetness] And mine, too, if she vill let me love her.
VERA [Bowing coldly, but still addressing her father] But how? When?
BARON We have just come and——
BARONESS [Dashing in] Zat charming young man lent us his yacht—he is adorahble.
VERA What charming young man?
BARONESS Ah, she has many, ze little coquette—ha! ha! ha! [She touches VERA playfully with her parasol.]
BARON We wished to give you a pleasant surprise.
VERA It is certainly a surprise.
BARON [Chilled] You are not very ... daughterly.
VERA Do you remember when you last saw me? You did not claim me as a daughter then.
BARON [Covers his eyes with his hand] Do not recall it; it hurts too much.
VERA I was in the dock.
BARON It was horrible. I hated you for the devil of rebellion that had entered into your soul. But I thanked God when you escaped.
VERA [Softened] I think I was more sorry for you than for myself. I hope, at least, no suspicion fell on you.
BARONESS [Eagerly] But it did—an avalanche of suspicion. He is still buried under it. Vy else did they make Skovaloff Ambassador instead of him? Even now he risks everyting to see you again. Ah, mon enfant, you owe your fazer a grand reparation!
VERA What reparation can I possibly make?
BARON [Passionately] You can love me again, Vera.
BARONESS [Stamping foot] Alexis, you are interrupting——
VERA I fear, father, we have grown too estranged—our ideas are so opposite——
BARON But not now, Vera, surely not now? You are no longer [He lowers his voice and looks around] a Revolutionist?
VERA Not with bombs, perhaps. I thank Heaven I was caught before I had done any practical work. But if you think I accept the order of things, you are mistaken. In Russia I fought against the autocracy——
BARON Hush! Hush! [He looks round nervously.]
VERA Here I fight against the poverty. No, father, a woman who has once heard the call will always be a wild creature.
BARON But [Lowering his voice] those revolutionary Russian clubs here—you are not a member?
VERA I do not believe in Revolutions carried on at a safe distance. I have found my life-work in America.
BARON I am enchanted, Vera, enchanted.
BARONESS [Gushingly] Permit me to kiss you, belle enfant.
VERA I do not know you enough yet; I will kiss my father.
BARON [With a great cry of joy] Vera! [He embraces her passionately.] At last! At last! I have found my little Vera again!
VERA No, father, your Vera belongs to Russia with her mother and the happy days of childhood. But for their sakes—— [She breaks down in emotion.]
BARON Ah, your poor mother!
BARONESS [Tartly] Alexis, I perceive I am too many! [She begins to go toward the door.]
BARON No, no, Katusha. Vera will learn to love you, too.
VERA [To BARONESS] What does my loving you matter? I can never return to Russia.
BARONESS [Pausing] But ve can come here—often—ven you are married.
VERA [Surprised] When I am married? [Softly, blushing] You know?
BARONESS [Smiling] Ve know zat charming young man adores ze floor your foot treads on!
VERA [Blushing] You have seen David?
BARON [Hoarsely] David! [He clenches his fist.]
BARONESS [Half aside, as much gestured as spoken] Sh! Leave it to me. [Sweetly.] Oh, no, ve have not seen David.
VERA [Looking from one to the other] Not seen—? Then what—whom are you talking about?
BARONESS About zat handsome, quite adorahble Mr. Davenport.
BARONESS Who combines ze manners of Europe viz ze millions of America!
VERA [Breaks into girlish laughter] Ha! Ha! Ha! So Mr. Davenport has been talking to you! But you all seem to forget one small point—bigamy is not permitted even to millionaires.