William Chapman, gentleman spirit—Gustave Schurmeier
Josephus Hendrix, gentleman spirit—John L. Mitchell
Peter Wetherby, who needs $10,000—Scott Fitzgerald
Dickie Wetherby, a hypochondriac with hay fever—James Armstrong
Mulligan (Policeman)—McNeil Seymore
O’Flarity (Policeman)—Robert Clark
Cecile Wetherby, in love with Will—Eleanor Alair
Clara King, from Missouri ....—Katherine Schulze
Second Story Salle—Dorothy Greene
Madame Zada, a fortune teller ...—Alice Lyon
Miss Spigot, doting aunt of Will...—Margaret Armstrong
Hulda, a maid, from Sweden ....—Betty Mudge
Act I—The Wetherby Home—9:30 P. M.
Act II—Same—Next morning
Furnishings—up-to-date living room, two closets in evidence.
Costumes—Modern. Two devils’ suits. Two policeman uniforms.
(Curtain rises showing Cecile and Miss Spigot in conversation.)
Miss S.: My dear Cecile, I have had such a busy day.
Cec.: You have?
Miss S.: Yes, you know my nephew William is coming home tomorrow.
Cec.: How perfectly delightful; I haven’t seen him for three years.
Miss S.: He has been very successful in the railroad business.
Miss S.: His business is contracting.
Cec.: How interesting. Contracting and expanding, I suppose.
Miss S.: (Indignantly.) He is not a contortionist, he is a railroad contractor.
Cec.: I see.
Miss S.: I suppose all the young girls in the vicinity will be angling for him.
Cec.: Yes, no doubt.
Miss S.: However, I have no one in mind; yet do you know I have always fancied that you and he would make a beautiful match.
Cec.: Miss Spigot!
Miss S.: My dear, my dear, you must control yourself. As an old friend of the family—
Cec.: (Interrupting.) Still, I want you to know that I am distinctly not angling for him.
(Dick looks in at door.)
Miss S.: Of course, of course. William is in town now.
Cec.: I am glad to hear it.
Miss S.: I haven’t seen him yet. He is going to a fancy dress ball tonight and he is dressing at his club. I expect him before midnight.
Cec.: (Yawns.) You must tell him to call.
Miss S.: Oh yes, he is the most—
Dick: (Outside.) Oh Hulda, you had better close all the windows, it is going to rain in a few minutes.
Miss S.: (Rising hurriedly.) Well, I must be going.
Cec.: So sorry, come again some time.
(They both go out at left.)
(Dickie sticks his head around the corner and slowly comes into the room. Re-enter Cecile.)
Dick: IS she gone, Sis? (Feels pulse.)
Cec.: (Sinks into chair.) Yes, thank Heaven.
Dick: I thought that would get her.
Cec.: What do you mean, isn’t it going to rain?
Dick: Not a cloud in the sky, but I was so nervous! And my hay fever starts tomorrow.
Cec.: I thought she would never stop, and the worst of it is she has her eyes on Dad. She was telling me about her nephew who is coming home tonight.
Dick: What, Will Chapman coming home tonight? That’s good.
Cec.: I haven’t seen him since he went away three years ago. He has been quite successful, I believe, a railroad contractor.
Dick: Well, I hope he hasn’t turned out like his aunt—the old bore. I like brilliant women.
Cec.: What is your idea of a brilliant woman?
Dick: Every widow between thirty-five and forty-five who has no children and doesn’t wear glasses.
Cec.: Miss Spigot shows unlimited nerve. She copied her house after ours and there she is at 225 Greenwood Place and we’re at 225 Greenbriar Street. It’s a wonder more people haven’t already gotten mixed up. We get her letters continually.
(Enter Mr. Wetherby.)
Mr. W.: (Gruffly.) Well, I found a purchaser for the house.
Dick: Thank heavens, Father, then we can live less economically.
Mr. W.: If you had gone to work we’d have done that long ago. The only thing you are fit for is signing patent medicine testimonials. You want a position where you can dress expensively, cultivate an English accent and babble about art. (Sits down in chair and picks up newspaper.)
Dick: (Enthusiastically.) Just the thing!
Mr. W.: Well, I’ll set you up as an interior decorator. Why, you’ve got a suit for every day in the year.
Dick: Yes, this is it. (Pointing to suit he is wearing.) If I wasn’t so delicate. I’ve got a play now in mind. I’ll write it up next week if I feel well enough.
Cec.: Who is going to buy the house?
Mr. W.: Hm, hm.
Cec.: Who is going to buy it, Dad?
Mr. W.: Can’t I read the paper in peace?
Cec.: Who is going to buy it?
Mr. W.: Buy what? Oh yes, why I got a letter today from Josephus Hendrix, a second cousin of mine. Haven’t seen him for years. He says he wants to buy it, but he makes a blamed queer stipulation.
Cec.: What’s the stipulation?
Mr. W.: What’s what? Oh, he says the house is haunted.
Cec. and Dick: HAUNTED!
Mr. W.: Yes. So Cousin Josephus and his ward, Miss Clara King, will come tomorrow morning to spend a few days. Then if the house proves all right he’ll buy it.
Dick: Miss Clara King—age, please.
Mr. W.: HOW should I know?
Dick: What do you think?
Mr. W.: HOW should I think?
Dick: Oh, like everyone else thinks.
Mr. W.: Oh, she’s seventeen, I suppose.
Dick: Oh, a young kid. Light or dark?
Mr. W.: I am sure I don’t know. Why the de—
Cec.: Tut, tut, papa, you must not use profane language.
Mr. W.: I will use any language I want to.
(The telephone rings. Enter Hulda, who goes to the phone.)
Hulda: Hello—what’s that—I tank so—aw, this is me. (Sits down.) Oh, Mr. Wetherby, yes, he’s here—nothing is the matter with me, how are you? Oh, he bane fine. Yes I will get him.
Mr. W.: Who are you talking to?
Hulda: There is a man wants to speak to you.
Mr. W.: (Goes to the phone.) Hello—yes—yes—oh, that was that damned Swede girl. Yes, why Cousin Josephus, I didn’t expect you till tomorrow—yes—well—you will be up in fifteen minutes. Goodbye. (Rings off. To children.) Cousin Joseph has arrived unexpectedly. He and his ward are at the station now. See to their rooms—we have got to make a good impression.
Cec.: Very well, Father.
Dick: I can’t make beds with my weak back.
(Exit Dick and Cecile. Mr. W. sits down and picks up newspaper. Bell rings. Enter Hulda, running.)
Mr. W.: (Testily.) What’s your name?
Hulda: Oh, I answer to “Hey” or any loud cry.
Mr. W.: What are you always running through the house for? Don’t you ever sit still?
Hulda: To answer the bell.
Mr. W.: Answer who?
Hulda: The bell—
Mr. W.: What bell?
Hulda: The door bell—
Mr. W.: Well answer it and don’t stand here talking.
(Exit Hulda, Mr. W. picks up paper, re-enter Hulda with card on plate.)
Hulda: Lady to see you sir.
Mr. W.: A lady, what lady? Does she want me?
Hulda: Oh yes, she sayd you sant for her.
Mr. W.: Oh yes, I remember.
Hulda: Who is she? I can’t read the card.
Mr. W.: Never you mind who she is. Show her in. (Takes card, exit Hulda.)
Mr. W.: (Reading from card.) Madame Zada, fortune teller, astrologer, mind reader—hm, humbug!
(Enter Hulda followed by Madame Zada, who advances toward Mr. W. Exit Hulda.)
Mme.: Well, Brother Peter.
Mr. W.: Sh—sh—
Mme.: What’s the matter, are you ashamed of me?
Mr. W.: Not exactly, but if my children should know that my sister and their aunt was a fortune teller—
Mme.: Well, I must earn my living. Since my husband’s desertion I have tried everything. I went back to my old profession of manicuring but I have lost the knack and there is money in fortune telling.
Mr. W.: Well, here is why I sent for you. I have a prospective buyer for my house but he says that he has heard it is haunted.
Mme.: Well, where do I come in?
Mr. W.: Hold your horses. I want to ask you first if you think there is anything in spirits.
Mme.: Well, they are all very well in moderation.
Mr. W.: What do you mean?
Mme.: Of course I am not a drinking woman myself, but—
Mr. W.: NO, no, I mean ghosts.
Mr. W.: DO you believe in them?
Mme.: If there is money in it.
Mr. W.: Well if there should be by any chance a ghost in this house do you think you could argue with it with your second sight—er—persuade it to shift its base of operations, discourage it, give it a cash bonus—anything to get rid of it. I can’t afford to have a ghost around here.
Mme.: IS it violent?
Mr. W.: HOW should I know, do you think I wrestle with it?
Mme.: YOU want me to make sure if there is one?
Mr. W.: Exactly. I want you to stay in the house tonight. I am sure the ghost would be open to an agreement of some kind.
Mme.: NO doubt, no doubt, and what would I get?
Mr. W.: Money, money, everybody wants it. I wish it was all in Hades.
Mme.: Peter, I see you are still profane. Some day you will have an apparition or something and that will cure you.
Mr. W.: Well, be sure I’ll fully recompense you. Is it a bargain?
Mme.: Very well.
Mr. W.: We will go to my study to arrange the details of the hunt.
(They go out—the bell rings. Hulda shows in Josephus and Clara. Cecile and Dickie enter from the opposite side.)
Dick: Ah, Mr. Hendrix and Miss King!
Cec.: Cousin Josephus!
Clara: How do you do, Mr. Wetherby and Miss Wetherby, I suppose?
Jo.: Ah, good evening, good evening! Tee hee, your father, eh, where is the sly old fox?
Dick: Let us show you to your rooms first, you must be tired. This way, sir.
(They all go out left.)
(Enter William Chapman. He wears an overcoat and a slouch hat.)
Will: (Calls.) Auntie, oh, Miss Spigot. (Takes of his coat and hat, disclosing a devil suit such as those worn at masquerades.) Well that was the slowest dance and I felt like a fool in this costume. (Sits down.) Oh, it’s good to be home. I wonder where Auntie is. (Enter Hulda.) Oh, just tell your mistress I am here. (Hulda screams and rushes out.) Well, I’ll be darned. Is the woman crazy? I wonder where I could get a drink of water. I think I’ll explore.
(Exit on left. Enter Hulda from right. She turns on the light.)
Hulda: Well, for the love of St. Olaf, I must have been dreaming. I bane thought I saw Old Nick himself. Oh, my heart’s beating like when Ole kissed me last night. What’s this? Mr. Wetherby’s hat and coat. I’ll take them to his room.
(Picks up Will’s hat and coat and goes out. Enter Will.)
Will: Hello, someone turned the lights on. I wonder where my aunt is. This looks strange. Why, what’s this picture, and this, and where are all the old ones? (Walks around.) Why this doesn’t look familiar. I wonder if it could be the wrong house. No, the cabby told me this was 225 Greenbriar Street. Let’s see if I have the address right. (Takes card from pocket.) What—what—what—225 Greenwood Place? Good Heavens, I am in the wrong house. (Looks around frantically.) Where is that coat? Oh Lord, it’s gone, and me in this costume. I say, I must find my coat.
(Exit on left. Enter Clara and Josephus on right.)
Jo.: Well, Clara, how do you like the house?
Clara: Oh, it’s so so. But I don’t see that it’s any better than the one we have now, unless you want more room.
Jo.: (Not hearing.) Hey?
Clara: I say unless you want room.
Jo.: Wash room? Where, I don’t see it.
Clara: NO I say, why do you want this house?
Jo.: Ah yes, well I’ll tell you a secret. The Red Wing, Stillwater and Minneapolis Railroad Company are going to put a spur through here, and they will have to buy this property. I thought if I could get the house cheap it would be a good investment to snap it up quick.
Clara: Why, I don’t think that is a bit nice.
Clara: I say that isn’t very nice.
Jo.: Ah yes, yes, it is very nice. And that isn’t all. If I can prove that the house is haunted it will greatly decrease its value and I can insist on a very low price.
Clara: What do you mean?
Jo.: Simply this—I went to a costumer yesterday and bought a devil suit, red cloth with horns and all, you know. While I am here I shall prowl around in this suit and let some of the people see me. Then I’ll insist the house is haunted. He! He!
Clara: Why, this is criminal, I won’t allow it.
Jo.: You must remember you are my ward.
Clara: Well, please do not cheat these people.
Jo.: Tut, tut, child!—
(Enter Mr. Wetherby.)
Mr. W.: Well, Cousin Josephus, how are you, stingy as ever?
Jo.: Hey, Cousin Peter?
Mr. W.: I say, are you stingy as ever?
Jo.: I don’t quite hear you.
Mr. W.: I see you don’t.
Jo.: Hey? Oh yes, this is my ward, Miss Clara King.
Mr. W.: How de do, Miss King.
Clara: HOW do you do.
Mr. W.: (TO Jo.) And now you and I can go in the library and talk business, Cousin Josephus.
Jo.: Surely, ah—
Mr. W.: (Crossing to Dickie.) Amuse little Miss King, won’t you, Dickie?
Dick: (Dejectedly.) I suppose I’ll have to.
(Exit Wetherby and Josephus.)
Dick: (Crossing to Clara, patronizingly.) Hello, Clara.
Dick: (Taken back.) How are—are you?
Clara: I am quite well, thank you. How are you?
Dick: I’m never very well but I’m as well as one can expect; then one’s hay-fever comes on tomorrow. Ah, you live in St. Joseph, Missouri, don’t you?
Dick: HOW long have you lived in the United States?
Dick: I beg your pardon. It slipped out. (Aside.) How shall I amuse her? (To Clara.) I suppose you must have awfully good times there with your—ah, little playmates?
Clara: (Carelessly.) Yes, we manage to scare up sufficient amusement. I suppose you have fun here playing baseball and football with the other boys?
Dick: Ah yes, I fancy I am a little beyond that now, but I— ER— ‘sed to, before my health took a turn— and all that.
Clara: Ah, you used to? Since you put on long trousers, I suppose?
Dick: (Changing the subject hurriedly.) Would you like some lemonade, er—Clara, Miss Clara?
Clara: NO, thank you.
Dick: Some cake or candy?
Clara: NO, but (confidentially) have you a cigaret?
Dick: (Startled.) Ha, ‘er (looks around and draws chair closer). Where did you say you lived?
Clara: St. Joseph.
Dick: And they say Missouri is slow. I am sorry I have no cigarets with me and I don’t allow anyone to smoke my pipe. Shall I get you a cigar?
Clara: NO, don’t bother. I had a cigaret at the depot and I have some in my room.
Clara: What did you say?
Dick: I said that is a pretty brooch you have on.
Clara: It ought to be, I traded in three engagement rings for it. It got me in more trouble—
(Enter Wetherby and Josephus from right.)
(Enter Hulda from left.)
Mr. W.: Well, then if the house proves unhaunted you give me ten thousand for it.
Jo.: Yes, I have it right here and otherwise—(Shrugs his shoulders.) I’ll entrust it to your son for safekeeping—
Mr. W.: Come, Dickie, and show Mr. Hendrix to his room.
(Wetherby and Hendrix go out. Clara goes to door.)
Clara: Ta, ta, Dickie.
Dick: Good evening, Miss King. (Exit Clara.) A beautiful girl in the house and my hay-fever starts tomorrow.
(Dickie shakes his head and goes out.)
(Window slowly opens.)
(Enter Second Story Salle—whistles.)
S. S. S.: Hello?
Hulda: I guess I left the window open all right?
S. S. S.: Yes. Well, what’s the dope?
Hulda: There’s a gentleman visiting here who has given ten thousand dollars to Mr. Dickie to keep for him.
S. S. S.: Ten thousand dollars?
S. S. S.: And who has it?
Hulda: Mr. Dickie.
S. S. S.: Where’s the young fellow’s room?
Hulda: Head of stairs on the left.
S. S. S.: I’ll remember.
Hulda: And for the love of Christina! be careful! The house is full—a—people!
S. S. S.: It’ll take more than a house full of people to catch Second Story Salle!
Hulda: And where do I come in?
S. S. S.: You do what I tell you, and keep your mouth tight. And I’ll come here tomorrow morning dressed as a book agent and give you your share.
Hulda: All right but be awful careful.
(Exit Hulda and S. S. S.)
Will: Whoever took that overcoat took it far away. What am I going to do? Oh—
Will: HOW do you do. Pardon me, madam, permit me to introduce myself.
Cec.: Don’t bother, I recognize you.
Will: Oh, you do? Well, you have the advantage of me.
Cec.: My name is Ce-ce-cile Wether-b-by.
Will: O yes, no wonder you know me.
Will: YOU ought to, I used to play with you as a child.
Cec.: Sir, I admit I was a tomboy but I never entered into any communication with you.
Will: But my dear young lady!
Cec.: I am not your dear young lady.
Will: Perhaps I am not as fierce as I look.
Cec.: Were I not a lady I would tell you in plain language to go home.
Will: YOU have told me, as far as I can see.
Cec.: I don’t see you going.
Will: I want to explain first. I came here quite by accident. I was looking for Miss Spigot.
Cec.: Allow me to congratulate you, I expected as much.
Will: YOU remember she is a relation of mine.
Cec.: I don’t doubt it.
Will: And I was going to her house when here I am by accident in yours. I can’t get out for my overcoat has disappeared and I am too—
Cec.: (Interrupting.) Natural for safety.
Will: And the worst of it is that you seem to have forgotten your old playmate Will Chapman.
Cec.: Will Chapman?
Cec.: I had not heard of your demise. Believe me, I am very sorry.
Will: Why, what do you mean? Oh heavens—what—what—you thought—oh Lord—this is too much! Come here and pinch me, I am real flesh and blood.
Cec.: Oh, I thought for a minute—
Will: That I was—I know I shouldn’t have worn this costume. It looks like the de—
Cec.: Where did you get it?
Will: I wore it to a masquerade ball.
Cec.: Oh, I see. But how did you get here?
Will: I got here by accident and now I can’t get out, for someone took my overcoat.
Cec.: Well, listen. You must not be seen by anyone here. A man is here who wants to buy the house, but he won’t if he thinks the house is haunted. You must hide in this closet. (Goes to closet on lejt and throws open the door.) In about half an hour, when everyone is asleep, you come upstairs and I will leave an overcoat for you in the front hall.
Will: Thank you, Cecile—I am—
Cec.: Now get in there and be quiet!
(He goes in closet, she shuts door, turns out lights and exits.)
(Enter Josephus with false mustache and goatee in his hand. He is dressed in a devil’s suit like Will’s. He turns up lights.)
Jo.: (Looking anxiously behind him.) That’s funny, I’m all in a tremor. I could have sworn a minute ago that I saw my wife, my Amelia that I left so many years ago. I must have been dreaming. And now to frighten a few people. Te, he, he!
Clara: Uncle Josephus!
Jo.: What are you doing up at this hour?
Clara: Listen, you must not do this. It is perfectly terrible. Some one might shoot you.
Jo.: Nonsense, child, I can not afford to pay ten thousand dollars for the house.
Clara: You are cheating Mr. Wetherby.
Jo.: Tut, tut, cheating is a bad word.
Clara: Listen, there is someone coming. Quick, you must hide Look, quick in here.
(She opens the other closet and puts him in. She goes out quickly at right. Enter Cecile, from left.)
Cec.: It’s rather mean, but I can’t take any chances. I must lock Will in until everyone is asleep. Let’s see, where did I put him? Oh yes, in this closet. (Goes to closet where Josephus is and locks door. There is pounding on the inside.) It’s too bad, Will, but I’ve got to do it.
(Exit Cecile turning out lights.)
(Enter Second Story Salle at left.)
(Enter Dick at right.)
Dick: Good evening.
S. S. S.: Ah, good evening!
Dick: May I ask what you want here?
S. S. S.: Certainly—You may ask.
Dick: Well, what—er do you want?
S. S. S.: Didn’t you get my card?
S. S. S.: That’s strange; I told the maid to take it to—Ah, you are Mr. Richard Wetherby, I presume?
S. S. S.: Well, you’re the one I want to see.
Dick: Yes, yes, I see—but why?
S. S. S.: Well, you see it’s this way—I’ve heard of you—
Dick: NO doubt.
S. S. S.: As a playwright.
Dick: YOU have? Ah, won’t you have a seat?
S. S. S.: (Taking chair.)You have probably heard of me—
Dick: Yes, yes.
S. S. S.: My name is—Minnie Maddern Fiske.
Dick: Oh yes yes; have another seat—Have a cigar—I mean er—
S. S. S.: No doubt you catch my drift, or shall I snow again?
Dick: Ah yes,—that is—er—
S. S. S.: As a fellow professional, I took the liberty of dropping in at this unconventional hour—
Dick: Don’t mention it.
S. S. S.: To see about your er—play—“The Dappled Dawn.”
Dick: Ah yes, but it’s in a very primitive state; scarcely more than a title, to tell the truth.
S. S. S.: Never tell the truth; it is a confession of failure, a sign that your imagination is exhausted.
Dick: Yes of course. But about the play of mine—
S. S. S.: I want it. (Takes ten thousand dollars from Dick’s pocket.) — (Aside.)—And I have it!
Dick: Mrs. Fiske—May I call you Minnie?—You may have it.
S. S. S.: Tomorrow I would like to discuss it with you. We can fix a date for then, not for tonight; we artists have our trials, you know—temperament and—
Dick: Hay fever! Yes, yes.
S. S. S.: (Starting to faint—Hand grasping ten thousand dollars behind her.) Oh, I am going to faint! My head is swimming—Water!
Dick: (As he exits.) Water for Mrs. Fiske!! (Exit.)
(S. S. S. sees Will peep out of closet, screams, drops banknotes and jumps out of window.)
(Enter Hulda, she picks up money.)
Hulda: What’s this? The ten thousand dollars. Second Story Salle must have dropped it. (Exit.)
(Enter Dick with glass of water.)
Dick: Mrs. Fiske! Mrs. Fiske! Why, she’s gone!—But ah!—Mrs. Fiske in “The Dappled Dawn,” by Richard Cartridgebelt Wetherby. Soon I’ll have a wad the size of—(feels pocket and finds ten thousand dollars gone).
Good Lord, it’s gone. (Drops glass of water.) Someone’s taken that ten thousand dollars! What a mess I’m in. I mustn’t let anyone know. I’ll—I’ll search the house. (Exit in a rush.)
(Enter Mr. Wetherby and Mme. Zada, carrying candles.)
Mr. W.: Sh! The people upstairs mustn’t hear us.
Mme.: This sort of thing always makes me nervous. I have almost forgotten the formula for confronting spirits. Let’s see. (Produces book.) Question—whence do you come? Answer, from the land whence none return. Question—where do you go? Answer—to pace the night alone. Question—what do you wish from me? Answer—
Jo.: (In closet.) Let me out of here.
Mr. W.: What was that?
Mme.: What, I didn’t hear anything.
Mr. W.: I must have been mistaken.
Mme.: Let me see, where was I? Question—why do you weep? Answer—
Jo.: (In closet.) I am boiling to death.
Mr. W.: I distinctly heard something then.
Mme.: Yes, a hollow, muffled voice.
Mr. W.: It’s the ghost!
Mme.: Walk around the room and see.
Mr. W.: Round the room, pshaw, what would I do walking around the room? Spose he cut me open on a new carpet. The idea! You must be crazy. Walk around yourself.
Mme.: I have a sore foot. (Knocking is heard.)
Mr. W.: Go, let him in.
Mme.: YOU fool, it’s spirit knocking. (Three knocks.) Three knocks, that’s D. (Three more knocks.) Three more knocks—that’s D again. (Three more knocks.) Three D’s—let’s see, d—d—d—what can it mean?
Mr. W.: Probably he stuttered when he was on earth.
Mme.: Listen, I will go in your study and wait. You stay here and if anything happens call me.
Mr. W.: Er, you think we had best separate? The ghost might overpower you.
Mme.: Are you frightened?
Mr. W.: No, no.
Mme.: Well, stay here.
(Exit Madame Z. )
Mr. W.: (Sitting down.) Whew, this is tiresome business.
(Enter Clara, silently. She goes to Josephus’s closet silently and tries door.)
Clara: Locked! What shall I do? He will have to stay there till morning.
(Exit Clara. Mr. W. has fallen asleep. The music starts playing “He’s a Devil.” The door of the left hand closet opens slowly and Will steals softly out. He tips over a chair.)
Will: Dash it!
Mr. W.: (Waking up.) What the devil!
Will: (Coming forward.) How do you do, Mr. Wetherby?
Mr. W.: Oh Lord, oh Heavens, I’ll never curse again! Never as I live, I swear it. Oh sir, go way and leave me.
Will: YOU are a hospitable lot, I must say. When people come to see me I am more hospitable.
Mr. W.: Yes, I know you are.
Will: Come to my home in the future and see.
Mr. W.: (Groaning.) Never, never.
(Mme. Z. has stolen softly in.)
Mme.: Throw up your hands.
Will: Why? (Puts up hands.)
Mr. W.: A pistol does no good—you can’t hurt him with a bullet.
Mme.: Why, he’s real flesh and blood. He’s no more devil than I am.
Mr. W.: That doesn’t mean anything.
Mme.: Pinch him and see.
Mr. W.: I don’t want to pinch him. Pinch him yourself. Then you are not a devil?
Mr. W.: Then how dare you come in my house?
Will: Don’t you allow anyone but devils in your house?
Mme.: Here, hold this pistol pointed at him while I all up the police. (Mr. W. takes pistol.)
Will: The police!
Mme.: (Picking up receiver.) Central, give me the police station, quick. Yes.
Will: The police, oh Lord! (To Mr. W.) Sir, since you insist on thinking that I am not human I will prove to you that I am. I can pick up things like this snuffer (picks snuffer from candlestick) and use it—(Snuffs out candle, plunging room into darkness. Mr. W. fires pistol. Mme. screams, they search for light. It flashes on, showing Hulda, Cecile and Clara in doorway.)
Mr. W.: I’ve got him. (Wrestles with Dickie.)
All: What’s the matter?
Mr. W.: There are spirits in here.
Mme.: Spirits of ammonia—it was a man!
Cecile and Clara: (Aside.) How did he get out?
Dick: (Aside.) No, I fear it was a woman—(To others.) Let’s search for him. (They search.)
Hulda: He bane not here.
Mr. W.: Let’s search the whole downstairs.
(They all go out. The music starts flaying “He’s a Devil” and Will sticks his head out from under the table. S. S. S. sticks her head in the window.)
S. S. S.: Well, Mr. Satan, I’ll just take that ten thousand dollars.
(Breakfast table laid as curtain rises. Doorbell rings. Hulda answers it. Enter Hulda followed by Miss Spigot.)
Miss S.: So the family’s not up yet?
Hulda: NO ma’am, I thought they was going to stay up the whole night.
Miss S.: It doesn’t surprise me. What was the matter?
Miss S.: Spirits?
Hulda: Yes, and lots of them.
Miss S.: Shocking! Shocking! And who were the er—inebriates?
Hulda: The which?
Miss S.: The victims.
Hulda: Well, there was Mr. Wetherby.
Miss S.: Was he very much ah—
Hulda: Terrible—he couldn’t sleep all night.
Miss S.: And who else?
Hulda: Well, there was a strange lady—she was very bad.
Miss S.: Oh, a strange lady? There are more skeletons in the family closet.
(Will sticks his head out of closet and quickly withdraws it.)
Hulda: Well you just take it from me—I was feeling very queer myself, ma’am.
Miss S.: You wicked girl!
Hulda: I couldn’t help it.
Miss S.: They forced it on you, I suppose. What a den of perfidy!
Hulda: Yes’m, I’d just said goodbye to Ole—he’s my steady—on the back porch when I hears screamin’ and carryin’ on, and when I went in they all started looking for the spirits.
Miss S.: Where were they?
Miss S.: I’ll wager you could account for some of them.
Hulda: It was two o’clock before they quieted down.
Miss S.: And while they were here with their spirits and carousals I was at home praying for my nephew.
Hulda: Your nevy?
Miss S.: Yes, he hasn’t come home yet. That’s why I came over—to see if Mr. Dick has heard from him. Poor boy! Something awful must have happened.
Hulda: Yes’m, he’s probably dead (looks carelessly at table) or else in a penitentiary.
Miss S.: No such thing.
Hulda: YOU never can tell—my Ole—
Miss S.: Bother your Ole!
Hulda: My Ole’s a fine fellow, I tell you.
Cec.: Good morning, Miss Spigot.
Miss S.: I’m sure I wish you a very good morning.
Cec.: What’s wrong?
Miss S.: Nothing—nothing of consequence. Don’t bother, Miss Wetherby, you must be worn out.
Cec.: Oh, Hulda has told you of our little affair with the spirits? (Laughs.)
Miss S.: She has, indeed, and pardon me if I say that I see no cause for laughing.
Cec.: Well, it was rather funny.
Miss S.: I came to see Mr. Dickie about something.
Cec.: He isn’t down yet.
Miss S.: I shall wait in the library.
(Enter Mr. W.)
Mr. W.: Hm—hm—
Cec.: Good morning, Father.
Mr. W.: Where’s the paper?
Cec.: It hasn’t been brought in yet.
Mr. W.: Tell that Swede to get it. Tell her to hurry. Got anything fit to eat for breakfast?
Mr. W.: Well, it’s lucky Cousin Josephus slept through all that turmoil.
Cec.: He hasn’t come down yet.
Mr. W.: Because I’ve got to have ten thousand before tomorrow morning to keep my business above water.
(Hulda enters and leaves paper for Mr. W.)
Mr. W.: (Not seeing it.) Where’s that paper?
Hulda: Right there.
Mr. W.: Where?
Mr. W.: Well, don’t stand here staring like an idiot—get me my breakfast.
Cec.: Excuse me Father. (She goes silently to door of left hand wardrobe—tries it.) How did he get out? It’s still locked. I may as well unlock it. (She does so and then goes out. Hulda comes in and puts toast and coffee down by Mr. W. (Exit.)
Mr. W.: Isn’t she ever going to bring that breakfast? (Gets up and goes into kitchen. Will comes out of closet, gets toast and cofee and goes back. Enter Hulda and Mr. W.)
Hulda: I just brought you some.
Mr. W.: YOU didn’t bring me any. If you did where is it?
Hulda: I bane tank it’s the spirits!
Mr. W.: Spirits be damned! You didn’t bring it in!
Hulda: Well I’ll get another cup. (He sits down grumbling. She goes out, returns with another cup and exits.)
Mr. W.: Where’s my toast? I don’t want coffee without toast.
(Goes out toward kitchen. Josephus comes out of closet, gets coffee and goes back again.)
Mr. W.: (Coming in.) Well hurry up with it. Where’s my coffee? (Searches in pockets.) What took that coffee? (Goes to door.) Hulda, I want more coffee. Someone’s taken my coffee. (Takes paper, grumbling.)
Mr. W.: It’s about time you were down stairs—Well, why don’t you answer? Don’t sit there like an idiot. What’s the matter?
Dick: By hay-fever’s cob.
Mr. W.: Your what?
Dick: By hay-fever. I couldn’t sleep a wick last dight.
Mr. W.: Who expected you to sleep a week in one night?
Dick: Oh, I dot expect ady sypathy. I cad breathe through by dose.
Mr. W.: Well, breathe through your ears.
Dick: Ad that’s dot the worst.
Mr. W.: What’s the matter now?
Dick: You dow that ted thousad dollars that Mr. Hendricks idtrusted be with last dight?
Mr. W.: Yes.
Dick: Well, it’s god!
Mr. W.: Gone?
Dick: Vadished. I wed up idto by roob ad looked in the drawer where I’d left it, ad it was gone.
Mr. W.: What a mess! That fellow last night must have taken it. This is the limit! Have you telephoned the police?
Mr. W.: Well, the only thing for you to do is to marry Miss King. I hear she’s an heiress. Otherwise there’s the deuce to pay.
Dick: I like the way you dispose of be. But I know she has her eyes od be, and she’s dot the first one.
Mr. W.: Well, propose to her. That’s our only chance. You always were a bonehead. I’ve got to have that money by twelve o’clock to keep my business from going to smash.
Dick: IS it as bad as that?
Mr. W.: It certainly is.
Dick: Well, id by dervous codition I’b dot respodsible. Argue it out with the policebad.
(Enter Clara King.)
Clara: Good morning.
Dick: (Rising.) Good borning, Biss Kig.
Mr. W.: (Getting up.) Women everywhere! Can’t women do without their breakfast once in a while? (Exit.)
Dick: How are you Biss Kig?
Clara: Oh very well. You must be tired after all that excitement way past your bedtime. Of course I’m used to it—I never go to bed until two in St. Joseph.
Dick: You dow, Biss Kig—bay I call you Biss Clara?—you bade a barked ibpressiod od me last dight.
Clara: Did I?
Dick: Yes, id fact I cad remember—ah—that ady other girl ever bade that exact impressiod od be before.
Hulda: Do you want coffee?
Dick: Yes. (To Clara.) Tell be, are you—?
Hulda: Weak or strong?
Dick: She is deither.
Clara: She’s speaking of coffee.
Dick: Strog. (Exit Hulda.) What was I sayig?
Clara: HOW should I know?
Dick: I thought you bight have bed paying attedtion.
Clara: Oh yes, it was something sentimental, I believe.
Dick: Listed, I remember, it’s this—ever since I saw you I’ve been head over heels in love. Last dight my pulse began climbing up to one hudred and ten. I said to byself—“You’re id love” and well—you know how it is. Between you ad by hay-fever I didn’t sleep a wick—oh, Clara, for you I would give—
Hulda: (Entering.) Your coffee, sir.
Dick: Damn my coffee!
Clara: Decidedly. Damn it with your napkin; it’s running all over the table.
Dick: Here at your feet I cast my—
Dick: Very well. If you persist in being facetious I can go you know. Goodbye.
Clara: Oh, goodbye. Are you going to play cops and robbers with your little companions?
Dick: Cops and robbers! Bah! (Exit.)
(Clara crosses to right hand wardrobe and of ens door. Enter Josefus.)
Clara: Are you satisfied? You caused enough trouble last night.
Jo.: Trouble—after you locked me in!
Clara: Don’t think you can fool me with those stories. You’ve got to get out of that costume.
Jo.: The costumer didn’t tell me it would run. I’m covered with deep crimson from head to foot.
Clara: Serves you right. Now listen—I’ll get you some clothes, I’ll leave them on this chair. When I sneeze you come out and get them.
Jo.: Very well, but hurry up! (He goes in closet. She exits.)
(Enter Cecile. The closet door opens, enter Will.)
Will: Oh, Cecile!
Cec.: Oh Will! I’m sorry but I had to lock you in last night. How did you get out?
Will: I didn’t know you locked me in.
Cec.: Why, yes.
Will: I must have broken the lock. I had to come out—I was suffocating. I had a terrible time. I’d just gotten out of one muddle when some woman held me up and insisted on searching me for ten thousand dollars. At last I convinced her I didn’t have it and she went away—out the window—and I returned to the—ah—guest room.
Cec.: HOW odd. I wonder who it was? But I’m getting used to excitement. Nothing bothers me now.
Will: Well, what shall I do?
Cec.: Wait—I’ll get you a coat. I’ll leave it on this chair. When I open the window you come out and get it.
Will: Very well, when you open the window. (Exit both.)
(Enter Hulda. She hums a Swedish song, then opens window. Jo’s door begins to open.)
Hulda: Oh what a draft! (She sneezes. Will’s door begins to open. She goes out. Will and Josephus come slowly to center and then see each other.)
Both: Well, what the devil!
Will: What are you doing here?
Jo.: What are you doing here?
Will: It’s a long story.
Jo.: So’s mine.
Will: Well, I know how you feel. Does your color run?
Jo.: Like a race horse. (Aside.) I wonder where those clothes are?
Will: Where can that coat be? Sh! there’s someone coming.
Jo.: I’m not going back to that closet.
Will: Let’s try the table.
(They get under table. Hulda shows in Second Story Salle. Enter Mr. Wetherby.)
Mr. W.: Who the deuce left this hat and coat in my room? It isn’t mine.
S. S. S.: Pardon me, sir, but I ‘ave a line of books h’I’d like to get you h’interested h’in.
Mr. W.: Books? I don’t want books.
S. S. S.: I have “Innocent As A Flower” by Margureta Du Chene and “Delia the Double-died” by Madame Caruse. I also have a small encyclopedia and sets of Richard ‘arding Davis and Rudyard Kipling. If ee take that ee get the Oswego Medical Review for six months or else you can have “Fireside Hours.” for three months—
Mr. W.: Oh get out, get out! Haven’t I got trouble enough. Hulda show her the door. (Exit Mr. W.)
S. S. S.: Well, there’s the deuce to pay. I ‘arvn’t got the money. Some chap dressed up like the devil frighted me so I dropped it and later when I searched him he denied that ‘e ‘ad hit.
Hulda: Sh! I got the money, up in my room. I picked it up where you dropped it. Wait here and I’ll get it for you. (Exit.)
S. S. S.: I carn’t wait here. I’ll step out into the ‘allway. Blarst the bloomin’ Swede. I ‘ope she’ll ‘urry. (Exit.)
(Enter Hulda with money.)
Hulda: Salle, oh Salle! (Snores.) What’s that? It’s somebody coming. Where shall I put this money? I’ll put it in here. (Slips money into coat pocket. Exit.)
(Enter Cecile with clothes. She goes to window and opens it. No result. She tries again. Enter Clara with clothes, opposite door. She sees Cecile.)
Cec.: Oh, good morning.
Clara: Good morning.
Cec.: What’s that?
Clara: It’s one of my-guardian’s suits; I’m taking it to the cleaners. What’s that?
Cec.: Oh, this is one of father’s suits-. I’m taking it to the pressers.
Clara: Where I come from the cleaners and pressers are the same.
Cec.: HOW odd! It’s different here. The—ah—cleaners clean and the—ah—pressers press. Ah! ha. Yes.
Clara: YOU surprise me.
Cec.: Can’t I take your suit with mine?
Clara: Oh no, thank you.
(They go to different sides of stage and eye each other. Cecile starts for window.)
Cec.: Where are you going?
Clara: It’s hot in here. I’m going to open the window.
Cec.: Oh don’t, don’t! For heaven’s sake don’t open the window.
Clara: Why not?
Cec.: Because I have a cold. (Coughs.) I’m going to sneeze. K—
Clara: Don’t sneeze, don’t, don’t. (Puts hand over her mouth.)
Cec.: Why not?
Clara: The germs—the bubonic plague germs are spread like that.
Cec.: (Indignantly.) Do you mean to say I have the bubonic plague?
Clara: NO, but one must be careful. Well, I think I shall be going. Goodbye. (Exit.)
Cec.: Thank heavens! (Goes to closet and opens it.) Gone! gone! (Exit hurriedly.)
(Enter Clara and Dickie.)
Clara: Oh heavens, can I never be alone!
Dick: Clara, Clara, I’ve been hunting for you for ten minutes.
Clara: Leave me, please.
Dick: I shall never leave you until you say you’ll bury me. Will you bury me?
Clara: Yes, I’ll bury you with the greatest of pleasure, but get out. (Exit Dickie.) (looking in closet.) Why he’s gone. How odd! (Exit.)
(Will comes out from under table.)
Will: He’s asleep, thank the Lord. Oh, my own coat and hat at last. Now to get out of here. (Exit.)
Jo.: (Coming out from under table.) I must have fallen asleep. I wonder where that other fellow is.
Dick: Hello, who’s this? Why it’s a man! I say, you cad’t be seen id those clothes—we’ve got to sell this house.
Jo.: But I say, let me—
Dick: Not a word. Mr. Hendrix mustn’t see you and I’b in a killing bood today.
Jo.: But I am—
Dick: I don’t care who you are. Here, lie down there until I return. Remember, if you make a sound you’re dead.
Jo.: Pardon me, if I make a sound I am alive.
Dick: Dead—so lie down—I’ll be back in a minute. (Exit.)
(Enter Mr. W. and Mme. Zada.)
Mr. W.: Good heavens, Amelia, haven’t I got troubles enough?
Mme.: I dropped in to see how your guests were this morning.
Mr. W.: Guests—Lord, this morning they’ve taken to stealing things! There’s ten thousand missing. I’d like to lay my hands on that ghost—I’d throttle him—I’d—Oh—Oh—
(Josephus trembles under rug.)
Mme.: Ten thousand dollars.
Mr. W.: Oh Lord, here’s someone coming. You’ll have to hide somewhere. Here, get under there. (Puts her under table. Enter Dickie.)
Dick: Ah good borning.
Mr. W.: I think I saw you before this morning.
Dick: Ah yes.—How do I get him away? Ah, I have it. (Produces pipe.) I hope you don’t mind my pipe.
Mr. W.: NO, I rather like it. (Makes grimace. Jo starts to rise. Dickie beats him back.)
(Enter Will and Policeman.)
1st Pol.: I found this fellow standing on the front steps. What’ll I do with him?
Will: Oh, how do you do, Mr. Wetherby? Hello, Dickie.
Dick: Ah, how delighted to see you I’m sure.
Mr. W.: Charmed.
Dick: Officer, this fellow is all right.—Keep down.—
Will: Why, what’s the matter.
Dick: I was talking to my temper. I’m trying to keep my temper down. Keep down temper!
Will: Why have you got all the policemen around the house? That business last night?
Both: How did you hear about it?
Will: Why—er—her—ha—er, it was in the paper.
Both: Oh Lord!
(Enter Policeman with Second Story Salle. He is followed by Hulda, Miss Spigot, Clara and Cecile.)
2d Pol.: I caught this woman trying to sneak out the back way. It looks a lot like the woman called Second Story Salle.
Mr. W.: It’s the book agent!
Dick: YOU better hold her and search her.
2d Pol.: She ‘asn’t got nothing suspicious on her but I’m taking no chances. She goes down to jail with me to be identified.
Mr. W.: That’s right, officer; do your duty.
S. S. S.: If you want to know who the guilty party is look there. (Points to Will.) Search him.
(They search Will and find bank notes.)
Dick: The ten thousand, thank heavens!
Miss S.: My nephew!
Hulda: I told you he’d land in penitentiary, like Ole.
Will: Officer, this is ridiculous. I never saw this overcoat until five minutes ago—that is since last night.
S. S. S.: Don’t ye believe him.
Will: Why, Mr. Wetherby can testify to my character.
Mr. W.: I’m doing no testifying.
2d Pol.: I guess you both better go down with me.
S. S. S.: The deuce you say! (Produces pistol.) Don’t move or I’ll put a bullet through you. I’ll need plenty of time so I guess you had all better sit down on the floor. Now where is that ten thousand dollars? Turn out your pockets! Ah, but my taxi bill is amounting up outside so I’ll not have time to search—Ta ta! (Exit Second Story Salle in haste.) Ta-ta—(She goes out, policeman after her.)
(They start after her and discover Jo.)
All: Who’s this—It’s another one—(etc.)
Mr. W.: It must be the pal she spoke of.
Jo.: Pardon me—
Cec.: Another devil!
Jo.: No, I am—
Clara: It’s guardian!
Dick: (Tears off mustache.)
Mr. W.: Cousin Josephus!
All: Mr. Hendrix!
Policeman: Shall I arrest him?
Mr. W.: What are you doing in that costume?
Mr. W.: I see your plot. So it was you all the time?
All: For shame!
Jo.: I’ll not be insulted—I’ll leave the house. Give me my money and I’ll go.
Policeman: Why it’s gone!
Dick: Hasn’t anybody got it?
All: It was on the table. No!
Jo.: Find me my money quick, all of you. I’ll sue the police department. Oh Lord! (Sinks into chair. All go out. Mme. Z. crawls out from under the table.)
Mme.: Josephus! My Josephus!
Jo.: A voice from the dead! Amelia, what are you doing here?
Mme.: My husband, oh my husband!
Jo.: What do you want?
Mme.: You, I want you!
Jo.: You can’t have me.
Mme.: You loved me once!
Jo.: Five years ago. When I married you I was a clerk and you a manicure girl. When I rose in life I had to leave you. Your station was too humble.
Mme.: IS there not a touch of sentiment left in you? Have you forgotten the moonlight nights when we set on the terrace and I (sob) polished your finger nails?
Jo.: Don’t weep on me; you’ll get me damp and I take cold easily.
Mme.: Yes I remember when you proposed to me you had a cold. Oh, Josephus, won’t you take me back?
Jo.: Oh I suppose I’ll have to.
Mme.: Well, in that case here’s your ten thousand dollars.
Jo.: Where did you get it?
Mme.: I purloined it in the excitement. Come, we’ll face the world together. (Exit.)
(Enter Mr. W. and Will.)
Will: Mr. W., as contracting engineer for the Red Wing, Hastings and Minneapolis Railroad I am authorized to offer you fifteen thousand dollars for your house.
Mr. W.: Fifteen thousand? Thank heavens, that saves us! Yes, I’ll take it. Yes and thank you, Will, you’re not as bad as the rest of them.
Cec.: Oh Father, I’ve been looking for you. Cousin Josephus says he has got his money. He’s walking off with a strange woman.
Mr. W.: Thank the Lord! Thank the Lord! (Exit.)
Cec.: Oh I’m so tired I feel as if I could sleep for weeks.
Will: SO am I. That night in that little hole. After this I’m going to be careful what I wear. Oh, Cecile!
Cec.: Yes, are you?
Will: Yes, but before I go to sleep I want to ask you something—will you marry me?
Cec.: Yes, I suppose so. Do you love me?
Will: Yes, I always have.
Cec.: So’ve I.
Cec.:—st—st—! (They are both asleep.)
Published in Francis Scott Fitzgerald's St. Paul Plays 1911-1914 collection (1978). A two act farce written for The Elizabethan Dramatic Club by Francis Scott Fitzgerald, presented at the Y.W.C.A. Auditorium and the White Bear Yacht Club on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, September 8 and 9, 1914, under the Direction of Elizabeth Magoffin.