Mr. George Kendall, owner of the “Diamond O” Ranch—Ed. Power
Mrs. Kendall, his wife—M. Armstrong
Jack Darcy, his nephew from Frisco ...—S. Fitzgerald
Leticia Larned, a cowgirl—D. Greene
Tony Gonzoles, a Mexican cowpuncher..—R. Washington
SCENE: Living room of a Ranch in Texas
TIME: 11:45 to 12:15 at night
Interior of rancher’s shack. Lights dim.
Some candles. Rustic furniture and hangings—elk horns, Mexican baskets, blankets, etc.—Two chairs, a table, and a lounge.
Door at L. Cabinet at R. Window at C.
Jack Darcy—Girl’s picture.
Leticia Larned—Mask; rope; revolver.
Mr. Kendall—Note; revolver.
Tony Gonzoles—Shotgun; rope; packet of letters.
(Curtain rises, showing Jack in chair, whistling.)
Jack: Accepted, accepted, by jingo, by the prettiest girl this side of the Mississippi. (looks at picture.) Look at her. She’s a daisy. But I wonder what Mother will say. And say, I can just see Father’s face when he hears of it. But why should they care? Lord knows she’s a fine girl and I’m willing to give up Yale for Leticia. Why, put her in a decent dress and she’d be the belle of the country. My, I’m tired, but I know I can’t sleep thinking of this. If Mother says no, I’ll be all broken up. (Noise outside. Rises.) What’s that? A row I guess. Probably Uncle’s after one of the men.
(Yawns, calls.) Tony, Tony! I wonder where that lazy greaser is.
(Enter Mr. Kendall, kicking Tony before him.)
Kendall: You will try to whip those horses, hey, you measly Mexican scoundrel? Didn’t I tell you, Tony, that the next time you laid a hand to them I’d skin you? I ought by rights to put a bullet through your low down yellow hide. Now git, before I let daylight through you. Wait a minute. (To Jack.)Did you want him for anything?
Jack: (To Tony.) Tell Jose he can turn in now. It’s almost twelve.
Kendall: What do you think, Jack. I just went out to the stable and found him beating Dolly. I think I taught him a lesson. He won’t be licking my horses in a hurry again.
Jack: I don’t like the looks of that fellow and you’d better be careful with these Mexicans, Uncle. They’d as soon knife a man as they would a dog and Tony’s no exception to the general rule.
Kendall: Huh! They’re only good for beating horses. They haven’t got enough grit to tackle a white man. But that fellow’s been acting queerly for some time with the horses and I think I’ll discharge him tomorrow. Jim and Jose can do the work, if you and I do a little extra.
Jack: Sure. By the way, I’ve seen him hanging around at the Lazy J. Maybe he’s got some business with Mrs. Larned.
Kendall: Oh you young scamp! What have you been doing at the Lazy J? Stuck on Leticia, hey? And say, I’ve got a note here that I received this afternoon. I don’t know whether to take it as a joke or not.
Jack: Let’s see it.(Reads.) “Mr. Kendall, I warn you that on the night of August 12 I will relieve you of the five thousand dollars that you received last week in payment for the yearling steers. Yours very sincerely—D. S. H.” Well of all things! I think I’ll keep this for a curiosity.
Kendall: Well, what do you think I ought to do about it? Just let it go?
Jack: Do about it? There’s nothing to be done.
Kendall: But look. It says on the night of the twelfth and this is the twelfth.
Jack:(Looks at paper.)So it does.
Kendall: You don’t really think he’ll come?
Jack: Not exactly. But you want me to sit up and await developments.
Kendall: Well I allow I’d sleep a bit easier if you did.
Jack: All right, Uncle. (Looks at watch.) Why it’s a quarter to twelve now. This may be only a joke but we might as well be on the safe side. Is the money in this cabinet?
Kendall: Yes, and you’ll find some cigarettes on the shelf and there’s magazines so you can make yourself comfortable. And by the way, we might as well not say anything about it to Mrs. Kendall.
Jack: Very well. Good night.
Kendall: Good night. And if you feel sleepy, don’t hesitate to take a nap. (Exit.)
(Enter Mrs. Kendall. Sees Jack.)
Mrs. Kendall: How soon are you going to bed, Jack?
Jack: Just a little while, Auntie.
Mrs. Kendall: (She begins to lock the windows.) Hello! Someone has been tampering with this catch. It won’t lock. Well I don’t suppose it makes any difference.
Jack: Auntie, I’ve got something to tell you.
Mrs. Kendall: What is it?
Jack: I’m engaged.
Mrs. Kendall: You’re engaged? Jack, you’re fooling.
Jack: No, that’s the truth.
Mrs. Kendall: Jack, what will your mother say?
Jack: Mother will like her, I know.
Mrs. Kendall: Tell me, who are you engaged to?
Jack: Her name is Leticia.
Mrs. Kendall: Leticia Larned?
Jack: The same.
Mrs. Kendall: Well Jack, you’ll be the death of me yet. But I can’t find it in my heart to be angry with you. Leticia is a fine girl.
Jack: She’s the best girl in the world and, Auntie, here’s her picture.
Mrs. Kendall: Well so long as you have to get married some time, I suppose I ought to be satisfied since you’ve picked out a nice girl. Still it does shock a body to learn it so suddenly. Well, good night. Come up when you’re ready and be sure and put out all the candles. (Exit.)
Jack: She took it better than I expected her to. Here’s hoping Mother will be as easily pacified. (Walks to window and looks out.) My, it’s a dreary night. Hello! Auntie was right. This catch has been tampered with. I half believe there’s something in this, and I’ve got a hunch that that rascal Tony’s at the bottom of it. First, the way he’s been acting today. He seems to think he’s got a grudge against us and is taking it out on the horses. And he’s always hanging around the Lazy J. Then the note. And finally this lock. I wonder what the initials “D. S. H.” stand for. I feel the solution lies in those three letters. (He sits in chair, yawns and goes to sleep. Enter Tony, sneaks around, ties him, and goes out after snuffing candle. Jack wakes up but finds himself tied and helpless. The window slowly opens and Leticia enters, masked. She looks around her but does not see Jack. The door opens and Tony enters and begins to work on the cabinet. She hides behind chair. She draws revolver and steps forward.)
Leticia: Hands up.
(Tony turns around startled and throws up hands.)
Now Tony Gonzoles, alias Dead Shot Hoskins, what are you doing here at this time of night?
Tony: I may ask the same question to you, Miss —
Leticia: Hush! Not a word from you. You probably know why I came here tonight. Where are the letters you stole from my mother five years ago? You blackmailer. Hand them to me now or, as I live, you’ll die. I’ll give you three. One—Two—Thank you. (Burns them.) And now as I have accomplished my purpose, I think I’ll lace you up a bit to keep you out of mischief. (Ties him and starts for door with revolver in holster.)
(Enter Mr. Kendall.)
Kendall: By all that’s holy, it’s a woman! Well Miss D. S. H., or whatever your initials are, your game is up. I’ve got you with the goods. Let’s have that gun. You got two of ‘em tied up, eh? Well you are a plucky one.
Leticia: (Noticing Jack. Aside.) It’s Jack. How shall I explain my presence here?
(Mr. Kendall unties Gonzoles, who starts for door. Unties Jack, who starts towards Gonzoles.)
Jack: So you’re a blackmailer as well as a robber. Yes, I heard it all. Take that! (They fire. Gonzoles falls.) Uncle, put away your gun. I don’t know who that girl is, but whoever she is, she has saved my life tonight, for Tony, or rather Hoskins, would have stabbed me before he made his getaway. (Walks toward Leticia.) Well whoever you are, you’re going to shed that mask now.
(Enter Mrs. Kendall, with telegram.)
Mrs. Kendall: Here’s a telegram for you, Jack. (Sees Tony on floor.) Oh, what’s this!
Jack: (Opens telegram and reads.) “Mr. Jack Darcy, -- Ranch—I consent to your marriage. Go ahead. Mrs. Larned an old school friend of mine. Congratulations. Mother.” (Looks up; in astonishment, sees that masked girl, who has now unmasked, is Leticia.)
(Starts back.) Leticia!
Kendall: God bless you, my children.
In 1911 when Fitzgerald was only fourteen, he joined The Elizabethan Dramatic Club of St. Paul, a group of about forty youngsters. The group was named after its founder Elizabeth Magoffin, who had just turned twenty. She preserved a number of manuscripts, including her transcriptions of her friend Scott’s first four attempts at writing for the theatre.
The Girl from Lazy J is brief and flawed in many ways, but each succeeding play demonstrates the young playwright’s swift development.
The club produced one of his plays each summer from 1911 to 1914.
A year after her death in 1951, Princeton University Library purchased the manuscripts, but they remained until 1978.
Published in Francis Scott Fitzgerald's St. Paul Plays 1911-1914 collection (1978).