ANNA CHRISTIE opened at the Vanderbilt Theatre on 2 November 1921.
It was produced by Arthur Hopkins. The cast and creative contributors
JOHNNY-THE-PRIEST James C Mack
FIRST LONGSHOREMAN G O Taylor
SECOND LONGSHOREMAN John Hanley
A POSTMAN William Augustin
CHRIS CHRISTOPHERSON George Marion
MARTHY OWEN Eugenie Blair
ANNA CHRISTOPHERSON Pauline Lord
MAT BURKE Frank Shannon
JOHNSON Ole Anderson
SAILORS Messers Reilly, Hansen & Kennedy
Director Arthur Hopkins
Design Robert Edmond Jones
CHARACTERS & SETTING
CHRIS CHRISTOPHERSON, captain of the barge Simeon Winthrop
ANNA CHRISTOPHERSON, CHRIS's daughter
Three MEN of a steamer's crew
MAT BURKE, a stoker
JOHNSON, deckhand on the barge
ACT ONE: "Johnny-The-Priest's" saloon near the waterfront,New York City
ACT TWO: The barge Simeon Winthrop, at anchor in the harborof Provincetown, MA. Ten days later
ACT THREE: Cabin of the barge, at dock in Boston. A week later
ACT FOUR: The same. Two days later
("JOHNNY-THE-PRIEST's" saloon near South Street in New York City. The stageis divided into two sections, showing a small back room on the right.
On the left, forward of the barroom, a large window looking out onthe street. Beyond it, the main entrance--a double swinging door.
Farther back, another window. The bar runs from left to right nearlythe whole length of the rear wall. In back of the bar,
a small showcase displaying a few bottles of case goods, for whichthere is evidently little call. The remainder of the rear space in
front of the large mirrors is occupied by half-barrels of cheap whiskyof the "nickel-a-shot" variety, from which the liquor is drawn
by means of spigots. On the right is an open doorway leading to the
back room. In the back room are four round wooden tables with five
chairs grouped about each. In the rear, a family entrance opening
on a side street. It is late afternoon of a day in fall. As the curtain
rises, JOHNNY is discovered. "JOHNNY-THE-PRIEST"
deserves his nickname. With his pale, thin, clean-shaven face, mild
blue eyes and white hair, a cassock would seem more suited to him
than the apron he wears. Neither his voice nor his general manner
dispel this illusion which has made him a personage of the water front.
They are soft and bland. But beneath all his mildness one senses the
man behind the mask--cynical, callous, hard as nails. He is lounging
at ease behind the bar, a pair of spectacles on his nose, reading
an evening paper. Two LONGSHOREMEN enter from the street,
wearing their working aprons, the button of the union pinned conspicuously
on the caps pulled sideways on their heads at an aggressive angle.)
FIRST LONGSHOREMAN: (As they range themselves
at the bar) Gimme a shock. Number Two. (He tosses a coin on
SECOND LONGSHOREMAN: Same here.
(JOHNNY sets two glasses of barrel whisky before
FIRST LONGSHOREMAN: Here's luck!
(The other nods. They gulp down their whisky.)
SECOND LONGSHOREMAN: (Putting money on the bar)
Give us another.
FIRST LONGSHOREMAN: Gimme a scoop this time--lager
and porter. I'm dry.
SECOND LONGSHOREMAN: Same here.
(JOHNNY draws the lager and porter and sets the
big, foaming schooners before them. They drink down half the contents
and start to talk together hurriedly in
low tones. The door on the left is swung open and LARRY
enters. He is a boyish, red-cheeked, rather good-looking young fellow
of twenty or so.)
LARRY: (Nodding to JOHNNY--cheerily)
JOHNNY: Hello, Larry. (With a glance at his watch)
Just on time.
(LARRY goes to the right behind the bar, takes off
his coat and puts on an apron.)
FIRST LONGSHOREMAN: (Abruptly) Let's drink
up and get back to it.
(They finish their drinks and go out left. THE POSTMAN
enters as they leave.
He exchanges nods with JOHNNY and throws a letter on
THE <P255>POSTMAN: Addressed care of you, Johnny. Know
(JOHNNY picks up the letter, adjusting his spectacles.
LARRY comes and peers
over his shoulders. JOHNNY reads very slowly.)
JOHNNY: Christopher Christopherson.
THE <P255>POSTMAN: (Helpfully) Square-head name.
LARRY: Old Chris--that's who.
JOHNNY: Oh, sure. I was forgetting Chris carried a hell of
a name like that. Letters come here for him sometimes before, I remember
now. Long time ago, though.
THE <P255>POSTMAN: It'll get him all right then?
JOHNNY: Sure thing. He comes here whenever he's in port.
THE <P255>POSTMAN: (Turning to go) Sailor, eh?
JOHNNY: (With a grin) Captain of a coal barge.
THE <P255>POSTMAN: (Laughing) Some job! Well,
JOHNNY: S'long. I'll see he gets it.
(THE POSTMAN goes out. JOHNNY
scrutinizes the letter.)
JOHNNY: You got good eyes, Larry. Where's it from?
LARRY: (After a glance) Saint Paul. That'll be in
Minnesota, I'm thinkin'. Looks like a woman's writing, too, the old
JOHNNY: He's got a daughter somewheres out West, I think
he told me once. (He puts the letter on the cash register.)
Come to think of it, I ain't seen old Chris in a dog's age. (Putting
his overcoat on, he comes around the end of the bar.) Guess I'll
be getting home. See you tomorrow.
LARRY: Good-night to ye, boss.
(As JOHNNY goes toward the street door, it is pushed
open and CHRISTOPHER CHRISTOPHERSON enters.
He is a short, squat, broad-shouldered man of about fifty, with a
round, weather-beaten, red face from which his light blue eyes peer
sightedly, twinkling with a simple good humor. His large mouth, overhung
by a thick, drooping, yellow mustache, is childishly self-willed and
weak, of an obstinate kindliness. A thick neck is jammed like a post
into the heavy trunk of his body. His arms with their big, hairy,
freckled hands, and his stumpy legs terminating in large flat feet,
are awkwardly short and muscular. He walks with a clumsy, rolling
gait. His voice, when not raised in a hollow boom, is toned down to
a sly, confidential half-whisper with something vaguely plaintive
in its quality. He is dressed in a wrinkled, ill-fitting dark suit
of shore clothes, and wears a faded cap of gray cloth over his mop
of grizzled, blond hair. Just now his face beams with a too-blissful
happiness, and he has evidently been drinking. He reaches his hand
out to JOHNNY.)
CHRIS: Hello, Yohnny! Have drink on me. Come on, Larry. Give
us drink. Have one yourself. (Putting his hand in his pocket)
Ay gat money--plenty money....
JOHNNY: (Shakes CHRIS by the hand) Speak
of the devil. We was just talkin' about you.
LARRY: (Coming to the end of the bar) Hello, Chris.
Put it there.
(They shake hands.)
CHRIS: (Beaming) Give us drink.
JOHNNY: (With a grin) You got a half-snootful now.
Where'd you get it?
CHRIS: (Grinning) Oder fallar on oder barge--Irish
fallar--he gat bottle vhisky and we drank it, yust us two. Dot
vhisky gat kick, by yingo! Ay
yust come ashore. Give us drink, Larry. Ay vas little drunk, not much.
Yust feel good. (He laughs and commences to sing in a nasal, high-pitched
quaver,) "My Yosephine, come board de ship. Long time Ay vait
De moon, she shi-i-i-ine. She looka yust like you. Tchee-tchee, tchee-tchee,
tchee-tchee, tchee-tchee." (To the accompaniment of this last
he waves his hand
as if he were conducting an orchestra.)
JOHNNY: (With a laugh) Same old Yosie, eh Chris?
CHRIS: You don' know good song when you hear him. Italian
fallar on oder barge, he learn me dat. Give us drink. (He throws
change on the bar.)
LARRY: (With a professional air) What's your pleasure,
JOHNNY: Small beer, Larry.
CHRIS: Vhisky--Number Two.
LARRY: (As he gets their drinks) I'll take a cigar
CHRIS: (Lifting his glass) Skoal!
JOHNNY: Drink hearty.
CHRIS: (Immediately) Have oder drink.
JOHNNY: No. Some other time. Got to go home now. So you've
just landed? Where are you in from this time?
CHRIS: Norfolk. Ve make slow voyage--dirty vedder--yust
fog, fog, fog,
all bloody time!
(There is an insistent ring from the doorbell at the family entrance
in the back room. CHRIS gives a start--hurriedly.)
CHRIS: Ay go open, Larry. Ay forgat. It vas Marthy. She come
(He goes into the back room.)
LARRY: (With a chuckle) He's still got that same cow
livin' with him, the old fool!
JOHNNY: (With a grin) A sport, Chris is. Well, I'll
beat it home. S'long.
(He goes to the street door.)
LARRY: So long, boss.
JOHNNY: Oh--don't forget to give him his letter.
LARRY: I won't.
(JOHNNY goes out. In the meantime, CHRIS
has opened the family entrance door, admitting MARTHY.
She might be forty or fifty. Her jowly, mottled face, with its thick
red nose, is streaked with interlacing purple veins. Her thick, gray
hair is piled anyhow in a greasy mop on top of her round head. Her
figure is flabby and fat; her breath comes wheezy gasps; she speaks
in a loud, mannish voice, punctuated by explosions of hoarse laughter.
But there still twinkles in her blood-shot blue eyes a youthful lust
for life which hard usage has failed to stifle, a sense of humor mocking,
but good tempered. She wears a man's cap, double-breasted man's jacket,
and a grimy, calico skirt. Her bare feet are encased in a man's brogans
several sizes too large for her, which gives her a shuffling, wobbly
MARTHY: (Grumblingly) What yab tryin' to do, Dutchy--keep
me standin' out there all day? (She comes forward and sits at
the table in the right corner, front.)
CHRIS: (Mollifyingly) Ay'm sorry, Marthy. Ay talk
to Yohnny. Ay forgat. What you goin' take for drink?
MARTHY: (Appeased) Gimme a scoop of lager an' ale.
CHRIS: Ay go bring him back. (He returns to the bar.)
Lager and ale for Marthy, Larry. Vhisky for me. (He throws change
on the bar.)
LARRY: Right you are. (Then remembering, he takes the
letter from in back of the bar.) Here's a letter for you-- from
Saint Paul, Minnesota--and a lady's writin'. (He grins.)
CHRIS: (Quickly--taking it) Oh, den it come from
my daughter, Anna.
She live dere. (He turns the letter over in his hands uncertainly.)
gat letter from Anna--must be a year.
LARRY: (Jokingly) That's a fine fairy tale to be tellin'--your
Sure I'll bet it's some bum.
CHRIS: (Soberly) No. Dis come from Anna. (Engrossed
by the letter in his hand--
uncertainly) By golly, Ay tank Ay'm too drunk for read dis letter
from Anna. Ay tank Ay sat down a minute. You bring drinks in back
(He goes into the room on right.)
MARTHY: (Angrily) Where's my lager an' ale, yuh big
CHRIS: (Preoccupied) Larry bring him.
(He sits down opposite her. LARRY brings in the
drinks and sets them on the table. He and MARTHY exchange
nods of recognition. LARRY stands looking at CHRIS
curiously. MARTHY takes a long draught of her schooner
and heaves a huge sigh
of satisfaction, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. CHRIS
stares at the
letter for a moment--slowly opens it, and, squinting his eyes,
commences to read laboriously, his lips moving as he spells out the
words. As he reads his face lights
up with an expression of joy and bewilderment.)
LARRY: Good news?
MARTHY: (Her curiosity also aroused) What's that yuh
got--a letter, fur Gawd's sake?
CHRIS: (Pauses for a moment, after finishing the letter,
as if to let the news sink in--then suddenly pounds his fist on
the table with happy excitement) Py yiminy! Yust tank, Anna say
she's comin' here right avay! She gat sick on yob in Saint Paul, she
say. It's short letter, don't tal me much more'n dat. (Beaming)
Py golly, dat's good news all at one time for ole fallar! (Then
turning to MARTHY, rather shamefacedly) You know,
Marthy, Ay've tole you Ay don't see my Anna since she vas little girl
in Sveden five year ole.
MARTHY: How old'll she be now?
CHRIS: She must be--lat me see--she must be twenty
year ole, py Yo!
LARRY: (Surprised) Yon've not seen her in fifteen
CHRIS: (Suddenly growing somber--in a low tone)
No. Ven she ms little gel,
Ay vas bo'sun on vindjammer. Ay never gat home only few time dem year.
Ay'm fool sailor fallar. My voman--Anna's mother--she gat tired
vait all time Sveden for me yen Ay don't never come. She come dis
country, bring Anna, dey go out Minnesota, live with her cousins on
farm. Den ven her mo'der die ven Ay vas on voyage, Ay tank it's better
dem cousins keep Anna. Ay tank it's better Anna live on farm, den
she don't know dat ole davil, sea, she don't know fa'der like me.
LARRY: (With a wink at MARTHY) This
girl, now, 'll be marryin' a sailor herself, likely. It's in the blood.
CHRIS: (Suddenly springing to his feet and smashing his
fist on the table in a rage) No, py God! She don't do dat!
MARTHY: (Grasping her schooner hastily--angrily)
Hey, look out, yuh nut! Wanta spill my suds for me?
LARRY: (Amazed) Oho, what's up with you? Ain't you
a sailor yourself now, and always been?
CHRIS: (Slowly) Dat's yust vhy Ay say it. (Forcing
a smile) Sailor vas all right fallar, but not for marry gel. No.
Ay know dat. Anna's mo'der, she know it, too.
LARRY: (As CHRIS remains sunk in gloomy
reflection) Is your daughter comin'? Soon?
CHRIS: (Roused) Py yiminy, Ay forgat. (Reads through
letter hurriedly) She say she come right avay, dat's all.
LARRY: She'll maybe be comin' here to look for you, I su'pose.
(He returns to the bar, whistling. Left alone with MARTHY,
who stares at him with a twinkle of malicious humor in her eyes, CHRIS
suddenly becomes desperately ill-at-ease. He fidgets, then gets up
CHRIS: Ay gat speak with Larry. Ay be right back. (Mollifyingly)
Ay bring you oder drink.
MARTHY: (Emptying her glass) Sure. That's me. (As
he retreats with the glass she guffaws after him derisively.)
CHRIS: (To LARRY in an alarmed whisper)
Py yingo, Ay gat gat Marthy shore off barge before Anna come! Anna
raise hell if she find dat out. Marthy raise hell, too, for go, py
LARRY: (With a chuckle) Serve ye right, ye old divil--havin'
a woman at your age!
CHRIS: (Scratching his head in a quandary) You tal
me lie for tal Marthy, Larry, so's she gat off barge quick.
LARRY: She knows your daughter's comin'. Tell her to get
the hell out of it.
CHRIS: No. Ay don't like make her feel bad.
LARRY: You're an old mush! Keep your girl away from the barge
She'll likely want to stay ashore anyway. (Curiously) What
does she work
at, your Anna?
CHRIS: She stay on dem cousins' farm 'till two year ago.
Dan she gat yob nurse gel in Saint Paul. (Then shaking his head
resolutely) But Ay don't vant for her gat yob now. Ay vant for
her stay wit me.
LARRY: (Scornfully) On a coal barge! She'll not like
that, I'm thinkin'.
MARTHY: (Shouts from next room) Don't I get that bucket
'o suds, Dutchy?
CHRIS: (Startled--in apprehensive confusion) Yes,
Ay come, Marthy.
LARRY: (Drawing the lager and ale, hands it to CHRIS--laughing)
Now you're in for it! You'd better tell her straight to get out!
CHRIS: (Shaking in his boots) Py golly.
(He takes her drink in to MARTHY and sits down at
the table. She sips it in silence. LARRY moves quietly
close to the partition to listen, grinning with expectation. CHRIS
seems on the verge of speaking, hesitates, gulps down his whisky desperately
as if seeking for courage. He attempts to whistle a few bars of "Yosephine"
with careless bravado, but the whistle peters out futilely. MARTHY
stares at him keenly, taking in his embarrassment with a malicious
twinkle of amusement in her eye. CHRIS clears his throat.)
MARTHY: (Aggressively) Wha's that? (Then, pretending
to fly into a rage, her
eyes enjoying CHRIS's misery) I'm wise to what's
in back of your nut, Dutchy. Yuh want to git rid o' me, huh?--now
she's comin'. Gimme the bum's rush ashore, huh? Lemma tell yuh, Dutchy,
there ain't a square-head workin' on a boat man enough to git away
with that. Don't start nothin' yuh can't finish!
CHRIS: (Miserably) Ay don't start nutting, Marthy.
MARTHY: (Glares at him for a second--then cannot control
a burst of laughter) Ho-ho! Yuh're a scream, Square-head-- an
honest-ter-Gawd knockout! Ho-ho! (She wheezes, panting for breath.)
CHRIS: (With childish pique) Ay don't see nutting
for laugh at.
MARTHY: Take a slant in the mirror and yuh'll see. Ho-ho!
(Recovering from her mirth--chuckling, scornfully) A square-head
tryin' to kid Marthy Owen
at this late day!--after me campin' with barge men the last twenty
I'm wise to the game up, down, and sideways. I ain't been born and
up on the water front for nothin'. Think I'd make trouble, huh? Not
I'll pack up me duds an' beat it. I'm quittin' yuh, get me? I'm tellin'
yuh I'm sick of stickin' with and I'm leavin' yuh flat, see? There's
plenty of other guys on other barges waitin' for me. Always was, I
(She claps the astonished CHRIS on the back.)
MARTHY: So cheer up, Dutchy! I'll be offen the barge before
she comes. You'll be rid o' me for good--and me o' you--good
riddance for both of
CHRIS: (Seriously) Ay don' tank dat. You vas good
MARTHY: (Grinning) Good girl? Aw, can the bull! Well,
yuh treated me square, yuhself. So it's fifty-fifty. Nobody's sore
at nobody. We're still
good frien's, huh?
(LARRY returns to the bar.)
CHRIS: (Beaming now that he sees his troubles disappearing)
Yes, py golly.
MARTHY: That's the talkin'! In all my time I tried never
to split with a guy with no hard feelin's. But what was yuh so scared
about--that I'd kick up a row? That ain't Marthy's way. (Scornfully)
Think I'd break my heart to lose yuh? Commit suicide, huh? Ho-ho!
Gawd! The world's full o' men if that's all I'd worry about! (Then
with a grin, after emptying her glass) Blow me to another scoop,
huh? I'll drink your kid's health for yuh.
CHRIS: (Eagerly) Sure tang. Ay go gat him. (He
takes the two glasses into the bar.) Oder drink. Same for both.
LARRY: (Getting the drinks and putting them on the bar)
She's not such a bad lot, that one.
CHRIS: (Jovially) She's good gel, Ay tal you! Py golly,
Ay calabrate now!
Give me vhisky here at bar, too.
(He puts down money. LARRY serves him.)
CHRIS: You have drink, Larry.
LARRY: (Virtuously) You know I never touch it.
CHRIS: You don't know what you miss. Skoal! (He drinks--then
begins to sing loudly.) "My Yosephine, come board de ship--"
(He picks up the drinks for MARTHY and himself and
walks unsteadily into the back room, singing) "De moon, she
shi-i-i-ine. She looks yust like you. Tchee-tchee, tchee-tchee, tchee-tchee,
MARTHY: (Grinning, hands to ears) Gawd!
CHRIS: (Sitting down) Ay'm good singer, yes? Ve drink,
eh? Skoal! Ay calabrate! (He drinks.) Ay ealabrate 'cause Anna's
coming home. You know, Marthy, Ay never write for her to come, 'cause
Ay tank Ay'm no good for her. But all time Ay hope like hell some
day she vant for see me and den she come. And dat's vay it happen
now, py yiminy! (His face beaming) What you tank she look like,
Marthy? Ay bet you she's fine, good, strong gel, pooty like hell!
Living on farm made her like dat. And Ay bet you some day she marry
good, steady land fallar here in East, have home all her own, have
kits--and dan Ay'm ole grandfader, py golly! And Ay go visit dem
every time Ay gat in port near! (Bursting with joy) By yiminy
crickens, Ay calabrate dat! (Shouts) Bring oder drink, Larry!
(He smashes his fist on the table with a bang.)
LARRY: (Coming in from bar--irritably) Easy there!
Don't be breakin' the table, you old goat!
CHRIS: (By way of reply, grins foolishly and begins to
sing) "My Yosephine, come board de ship--"
MARTHY: (Touching CHRIS' arm persuasively)
You're soused to the ears, Dutchy. Go out and put a feed into you.
It'll sober you up.
(Then as CHRIS shakes his head obstinately)
MARTHY: Listen, yuh old nut! Yuh don't know what time your
kid's liable to show up. Yuh want to be sober when she comes, don't
CHRIS: (Aroused--gets unsteadily to his feet) Py
LARRY: That's good sense for you. A good beef stew'll fix
you. Go round the corner.
CHRIS: All right. Ay be back soon, Marthy. (He goes through
the bar and out the street door.)
LARRY: He'll come round all right with some grub in him.
(LARRY goes back to the bar and resumes his newspaper.
MARTHY sips what is left in her schooner reflectively.
There is the ring of the family entrance bell. LARRY
comes to the door and opens it a trifle--then, with a puzzled expression,
pulls it wide. ANNA CHRISTOPHERSON enters.
She is a tall, blond, fully-developed girl of twenty, handsome after
a large, Viking-daughter fashion but now run down in health and plainly
showing all the outward evidences of belonging to the world's oldest
profession. Her youthful face is hard and cynical beneath its layer
of make-up. Her clothes are the tawdry finery of peasant stock turned
prostitute. She comes and sinks wearily in a chair by the table, left
ANNA: Gimme a whisky--ginger ale on the side.
(Then, as LARRY turns to go, forcing a winning smile
ANNA: And don't be stingy, baby.
LARRY: (Sarcastically) Shall I serve it in a pail?
ANNA: (With a hard laugh) That suits me down to the
(LARRY goes into the bar. The two women size each
other up with frank stares. LARRY comes back with the
drink which he sets before ANNA and returns to the
bar again. ANNA downs her drink at a pulp. Then, after
a moment, as the alcohol begins to rouse her, she turns to MARTHY
with a friendly smile.)
ANNA: Gee, I needed that bad, all right, all right!
MARTHY: (Nodding her head sympathetically) Sure--yuh
look all in. Been on a bat?
ANNA: No--travelling--day and a half on the train.
Had to sit up all night in the dirty coach, too. Gawd, I thought I'd
never get here!
MARTHY: (With a start--looking at her intently)
Where'd yuh come from, huh?
ANNA: Saint Paul--out in Minnesota.
MARTHY: (Staring at her in amazement--slowly) So--
yuh're-- (She suddenly bursts out into hoarse, ironical laughter.)
ANNA: All the way from Minnesota, sure. (Flaring up)
What are you laughing at? Me?
MARTHY: (Hastily) No, honest, kid. I was thinkin'
of somethin' else.
ANNA: (Mollified--with a smile) Well, I wouldn't
blame you, at that. Guess
I do look rotten--yust out of the hospital two weeks. I'm going
to have another 'ski. What d'you say? Have something on me?
MARTHY: Sure I will. T'anks. (She calls.) Hey, Larry!
(He comes in.)
ANNA: Same for me.
MARTHY: Same here.
(LARRY takes their glasses and goes out.)
ANNA: Why don't you come sit over here, be sociable. I'm
a dead stranger in this burg--and I ain't spoke a word with no
one since day before yesterday.
MARTHY: Sure thing.
(She shuffles over to ANNA's table and sits down
opposite her. LARRY brings the drinks and ANNA
ANNA: Skoal! Here's how! (She drinks.)
MARTHY: Here's luck! (She takes a gulp from her schooner.)
ANNA: (Taking a package of Sweet Caporal cigarettes from
her bag) Let you smoke in here, won't they?
MARTHY: (Doubtfully) Sure. (Then with evident
anxiety) On'y trow it away if yuh hear someone comin'.
ANNA: (Lighting one and taking a deep inhale) Gee,
they're fussy in this dump, ain't they?
(She puffs, staring at the table top. MARTHY looks
her over with a new penetrating interest, taking in every detail of
her face. ANNA suddenly becomes conscious of this appraising
ANNA: Ain't nothing wrong with me, is there? You're looking
MARTHY: (Irritated by the other's tone--scornfully)
Ain't got to look much. I got your number the minute you stepped in
ANNA: (Her eyes narrowing) Ain't you smart! Well,
I got yours too, without no trouble. You're me forty years from now.
(She gives a hard little laugh.)
MARTHY: (Angrily) Is that so? Well, I'll tell you
straight, that Marthy Owen never-- (She catches herself up
short--with a grin.) What are you and me scrappin' over? Let's
cut it out, huh? Me, I don't want no hard feelin's with no one. (Extending
her hand) Shake and forget it, huh?
ANNA: (Shakes her hand gladly) Only too glad to. I
ain't looking for trouble. Let's have 'nother. What d'you say?
MARTHY: (Shaking her head) Not for mine. I'm full
up. And you--Had anythin' to eat lately?
ANNA: Not since this morning on the train.
MARTHY: Then yuh better go easy on it, hadn't yuh?
ANNA: (After a moment's hesitation) Guess you're right.
I got to meet someone, too. But my nerves is on edge after that rotten
MARTHY: Yuh said yuh was just outa the hospital?
ANNA: Two weeks ago. (Leaning over to MARTHY
confidentially) The joint I was in out in Saint Paul got raided.
That was the start. The judge give all us girls thirty days. The others
didn't seem to mind being in the cooler much. Some of 'em was used
to it. But me, I couldn't stand it. It got my goat right--
couldn't eat or sleep or nothing. I never could stand being caged
up nowheres. I got good and sick and they had to send me to the hospital.
It was nice there. I was sorry to leave it, honest!
MARTHY: (After a slight pause) Did yuh say yuh got
to meet someone here?
ANNA: Yes. Oh, not what you mean. It's my Old Man I got to
meet. Honest! It's funny, too. I ain't seen him since I was a kid--don't
even know what he looks like--yust had a letter every now and then.
This was always the only address he give me to write him back. He's
yanitor of some building here now--used to be a sailor.
MARTHY: (Astonished) Janitor!
ANNA: Sure. And I was thinking maybe, seeing he never done
a thing for me in my life, he might be stake me to a room and eats--till
I get rested up. (Wearily) Gee, I sure need that rest! I'm
knocked out. (Then resignedly) But I ain't expecting much from
him. Give you a kick when you're down, that's what all men do. (With
sudden passion) Men, I hate 'em--all of 'em! And I don't expect
he'll turn out no better than the rest. (Then with sudden interest)
Say, do you hang out around this dump much?
MARTHY: Oh, off and on.
ANNA: Then maybe you know him--my Old Man--or at least
MARTHY: It ain't old Chris, is it?
ANNA: Old Chris?
MARTHY: Chris Christopherson, his full name is.
ANNA: (Excitedly) Yes, that's him! Anna Christopherson--that's
my real name--only out there I called myself Anna Christie. So
you know him, eh?
MARTHY: (Evasively) Seen him about for years.
ANNA: Say, what's he like, tell me, honest?
MARTHY: Oh, he's short and--
ANNA: (Impatiently) I don't care what he looks like.
What kind is he?
MARTHY: (Earnestly) Well, yuh can bet your life, kid,
he's as good an old guy as ever walked on two feet.
ANNA: (Pleased) I'm glad to hear it. Then you think
he'd stake me to that rest cure I'm after?
MARTHY: (Emphatically) Surest thing you know. (Disgustedly)
But where'd yuh get the idea he was a janitor?
ANNA: He wrote me he was himself.
MARTHY: Well, he was lyin'. He ain't. He's captain of a barge--
five men under him.
ANNA: (Disgusted in her turn) A barge? What kind of
MARTHY: Coal, mostly.
ANNA: A coal barge! (With a harsh laugh) If that ain't
a swell job to find your long lost Old Man working at! Gee, I knew
something'd be bound to turn out wrong--always does with me. That
puts my idea of his giving me a rest on the bum.
MARTHY: What d'yuh mean?
ANNA: I s'pose he lives on the boat, don't he?
MARTHY: Sure. What about it? Can't you live on it too?
ANNA: (Scornfully) Me? On a dirty coal barge? What
d'you think I am?
MARTHY: (Resentfully) What d'yuh know about barges,
huh? Bet yuh ain't never seen one. That's what comes of his bringing
yuh up inland--away from the old devil sea--where yuh'd be safe--Gawd!
(The irony of it strikes her sense of humor and she laughs hoarsely.)
ANNA: (Angrily) His bringing me up! Is that what he
tells people? I like his nerve! He let them cousins of my Old Woman's
keep me on their farm and work me to death like a dog.
MARTHY: Well, he's got queer notions on some things. I've
heard him say a farm was the best place for a kid.
ANNA: Sure. That's what he'd always answer back--and a
lot of crazy stuff about staying away from the sea--stuff I couldn't
make head or tail to.
I thought be must be nutty.
MARTHY: He is on that one point. (Casually) So you
didn't fall for life on the farm, huh?
ANNA: I should say not! The old man of the family, his wife,
and four sons--I had to slave for all of 'em. I was only a poor
relation, and they treated me worse than they dare treat a hired girl.
(After a moment's hesitation--somberly) It was one of the
sons--the youngest--started me--when I was sixteen. After
that, I hated 'em so I'd killed 'em all if I stayed. So I run away--to
MARTHY: (Who has been listening sympathetically) I've
heard Old Chris talkin' about your bein' a nurse girl out there. Was
that a buff yuh put up when yuh wrote him?
ANNA: Not on your life, it wasn't. It was true for two years.
I didn't go wrong all at one jump. Being a nurse girl was yust what
Taking care of other people's kids, always listening to their bawling
and crying, caged in, when you're onlya kid yourself and want to go
see things. At last I got the chance--to get into that house. And
you bet your life I took it! (Defiantly) And I ain't sorry
neither. (After a pause--with bitter hatred) It was all
men's fault--the whole business. It was men on the farm ordering
and beating me--and giving me the wrong start. Then when I was
a nurse, it was men again hanging around, bothering me, trying to
see what they could get. (She gives a hard laugh.) And now
it's men all the time. Gawd, I hate 'em all, every mother's son of
'em! Don't you?
MARTHY: Oh, I dunno. There's good ones and bad ones. You've
just had a run of bad luck with 'em, that's all. Your Old Man now--Old
a good one.
ANNA: (Skeptically) He'll have to show me.
MARTHY: Yuh kept right on writing him yuh was a nurse girl
still even after yuh was in the house, didn't yuh?
ANNA: Sure. (Cynically) Not that I think he'd care
MARTHY: Yuh're all wrong about him, kid. (Earnestly)
I know Old Chris well for a long time. He's talked to me 'bout you
lots o' times. He thinks the world o' you, honest he does.
ANNA: Aw, quit the kiddin'!
MARTHY: Honest! Only, he's a simple old guy, see? He's got
nutty notions. But he means well, honest. Listen to me, kid--
(She is interrupted by the opening and shutting of the street
door in the bar and by hearing CHRIS's voice.)
ANNA: What's up?
CHRIS: (Who has entered the bar. He seems considerably
sobered up) Py golly, Larry, dat grub taste good. Marthy in back?
LARRY: Sure--and another tramp with her.
(CHRIS starts for the entrance to the back room.)
MARTHY: (To ANNA in a hurried, nervous
whisper) That's him now. He's comm' in here. Brace up!
(CHRIS opens the door.)
MARTHY: (As if she were greeting him for the first time)
Why hello, Old Chris.
(Then before he can speak, she shuffles hurriedly past him into
the bar, beckoning him to follow her.)
MARTHY: Come here. I wanta tell yuh somethin'. (He goes
out to her.
She speaks hurriedly in a low voice.) Listen! I'm goin' to beat
it down to
the barge--pack up me duds and blow. That's her in there--your
just come--waitin' for yuh. Treat her right, see? She's been sick.
Well s'long! (She goes into the back room--to ANNA.)
S'long, kid. I gotta beat it now. See yuh later.
ANNA: (Nervously) So long.
(MARTHY goes quickly out of the family entrance.)
LARRY: (Looking at the stupefied CHRIS
curiously) Well, what's up now?
CHRIS: (Vaguely) Nutting--nutting.
(He stands before the door to the back room in an agony of embarrassed
emotion-- then he forces himself to a bold decision, pushes open
the door and walks in.
He stands there, casts a shy glance at ANNA, whose brilliant
to him, high-toned appearance, awe him terribly. He looks about him
with pitiful nervousness as if to avoid the appraising look with which
she takes in his face,
his clothes, etc.-- his voice seeming to plead for her forbearance.)
ANNA: (Acutely embarrassed in her turn) Hello--father.
She told me it was you. I yust got here a little while ago.
CHRIS: (Goes slowly over to her chair) It's good--for
see you-- after all dem years, Anna.
(He bends down over her. After an embarrassed struggle they manage
to kiss each other.)
ANNA: (A trace of genuine feeling in her voice) It's
good to see you, too.
CHRIS: (Grasps her arms and looks into her face--then
overcome by a wave of fierce tenderness) Anna lilla! Anna lilla!
(Takes her in his arms)
ANNA: (Shrinks away from him, half-frightened) what's
that --Swedish? I don't know it. (Then as if seeking relief
from the tension in a voluble chatter) Gee, I had an awful trip
up here. I'm all in. I had to sit up in the dirty coach all night--couldn't
get no sleep, hardly--and then I had a hard job finding this place.
I never been in New York before, you know, and--
CHRIS: (Who has been staring down at her face admiringly,
and not hearing what she says--impulsively) You know you vas
awful pooty gel, Anna? Ay bet all men see you fall in love with you,
ANNA: (Repelled--harshly) Cut it! You talk same
as they all do.
CHRIS: (Hurt--humbly) Ain't no harm for your fader
talk dat vay, Anna.
ANNA: (Forcing a short laugh) No--course not. Only--it's
funny to see you and not remember nothing. You're like--a stranger.
CHRIS: (Sadly) Ay s'pose. Ay never come home only
few times ven you vas kit in Sveden. You don't remember dat?
ANNA: No. (Resentfully) But why didn't you never come
home them days? Why didn't you never come out West to see me?
CHRIS: (Slowly) Ay tank, after your mo'der die, ven
Ay vas avay on voyage, it's better for you you don't never see me!
(He sinks down in the chair opposite her dejectedly--then turns
to her--sadly.) Ay don't know, Anna, vhy Ay never come home
Sveden in ole year. Ay vant come home end of every voyage. Ay vant
see your mo'der, your two bro'der before dey vas drowned, you ven
you vas born--but--Ay don't go. Ay sign on oder ships--go
South America, go Australia, go China, go every port all over world
but Ay never go aboard ship sail for Sveden. Ven Ay gat money for
pay passage home as passenger den-- (He bows his head guiltily.)
Ay forgat and Ay spend all money. Ven Ay tank again, it's too late.
(He sighs.) Ay don't know why but dat's vay with most sailor
fallar, Anna. Dat ole davil sea make dem crazy fools with her dirty
tricks. It's so.
ANNA: (Who has watched him keenly while he has been speaking--with
of scorn in her voice) Then you think the sea's to blame for everything,
eh? Well, you're still workin' on it, ain't you, spite of all you
used to write me about hating it. That dame was here told me you was
captain of a coal barge--and you wrote me you was yanitor of a
CHRIS: (Embarrassed but lying glibly) Oh, Ay vork
on land long time as yanitor. Yust short time ago Ay got dig yob cause
Ay was sick, need
ANNA: (Skeptically) Sick? You? You'd never think it.
CHRIS: And, Anna, dis ain't real sailor yob. Dis ain't real
boat on sea.
She's yust ole tub--like piece of land with house on it dat float.
her ain't sea yob. No. Ay don't gat yob on sea, Anna, if Ay die first.
Ay swear dat ven your mo'der die. Ay keep my word, py yingo!
ANNA: (Perplexed) Well, I can't see no difference.
(Dismissing the subject) Speaking of being sick, I been there
myself--yust out of the hospital two weeks ago.
CHRIS: (Immediately all concern) You, Anna? Py golly!
(Anxiously) You feel better now, dough, don't you? You look
tired, dat's all!
ANNA: (Wearily) I am. Tired to death. I need a long
rest and I don't see much chance of getting it.
CHRIS: What you mean, Anna?
ANNA: Well, when I made up my mind to come to see you, I
thought you was a yanitor--that you'd have a place where, maybe,
if you didn't mind having me, I could visit a while and rest up--till
I felt able to get back on
the job again.
CHRIS: (Eagerly) But Ay gat place, Anna--nice place.
You rest all you want, py yiminy! You don't never have to vork as
nurse gel no more. You stay with me, py golly!
ANNA: (Surprised and pleased by his eagerness--with
a smile) Then you're really glad to see me--honest?
CHRIS: (Pressing one of her hands in both of his)
Anna, Ay like see you like hell, Ay tal you! And don't you talk no
more about gatting yob. You stay with me. Ay don't see you for long
time, you don't forgat dat. (His voice trembles.) Ay'm gatting
ole. Ay gat no one in vorld but you.
ANNA: (Touched--embarrassed by this unfamiliar emotion)
Thanks. It sounds good to hear someone--talk to me that way. Say,
though--if you're so lonely--it's funny--why ain't you ever
CHRIS: (Shaking his head emphatically--after a pause)
Ay love your mo'der too much for ever do dat, Anna.
ANNA: (Impressed--slowly) I don't remember nothing
about her. What was she like? Tell me.
CHRIS: Ay tal you all about everytang--and you tal me
all tangs happen to you. But not here now. Dis ain't good for young
gel, anyway. Only no good sailor fallar come here for gat drunk. (He
gets to his feet quickly and picks up her bag.) You come with me,
Anna. You need lie down, gat rest.
ANNA: (Half rises to her feet, then sits down again)
Where're you going?
CHRIS: Come. Ve gat on board.
ANNA: (Disappointedly) On board your barge, you mean?
(Dryly) Nix for mine! (Then seeing his crestfallen look--forcing
a smile) Do you think that's
a good place for a young girl like me--a coal barge?
CHRIS: (Dully) Yes, Ay tank. (He hesitates--then
continues more and more pleadingly.) You don't know how nice it's
on barge, Anna. Tug come and ve gat towed out on voyage--yust water
all round, and sun, and fresh air, and good grub for make you strong,
healthy gel. You see many tangs you don't see before. You gat moonlight
at night, maybe; see steamer pass; see schooner make sail--see
everytang dat's pooty. You need take rest like dat. You work too hard
for young gel already. You need vacation, yes!
ANNA: (Who has listened to him with a growing interest--with
an uncertain laugh) It sounds good to hear you tell it. I'd sure
like a trip on the water,
all right. It's the barge idea has me stopped. Well, I'll go down
and have a look--maybe I'll take a chance. Gee, I'd do anything
CHRIS: (Picks up her bag again) Ve go, eh?
ANNA: What's the rush? Wait a second. (Forgetting the
situation for a moment, she relapses into the familiar form and flashes
one of her winning trade smiles at him) Gee, I'm thirsty.
CHRIS: (Sets down her bag immediately--hastily)
Ay'm sorry, Anna. What you tank you like for drink, eh?
ANNA: (Promptly) I'll take a-- (Then suddenly
reminded--confusedly) I don't know. What'a they got here?
CHRIS: (With a grin) Ay don't tank dey got much fancy
for young gel in dis place, Anna. Yinger ale--sas'prilla, maybe.
ANNA: (Forcing a laugh herself) Make it sas, then.
CHRIS: (Coming up to her--with a wink) Ay tal you,
Anna, ve calabrate, yes--dis one time because ve meet after many
year. (In a half whisper, embarrassedly) Dey gat good port
vine, Anna. It's good for you, Ay tank--
little bit--for give you appetite. It ain't strong, neider. One
glass don't go
to your head, Ay promise.
ANNA: (With a half hysterical laugh) All right. I'll
CHRIS: Ay go gat him.
(He goes out to the bar. As soon as the door closes, ANNA
starts to her feet.)
ANNA: (Picking up her bag--half-aloud--stammeringly)
Gawd, I can't stand this! I better beat it. (Then she lets her
bag drop; stumbles over to her chair again, and covering her face
with her hands, begins to sob.)
LARRY: (Putting down his paper as CHRIS
comes up--with a grin) Well,
who's the blond?
CHRIS: (Proudly) Dat vas Anna, Larry.
LARRY: (In amazement) Your daughter, Anna?
(CHRIS nods. LARRY lets a long, low
whistle escape him and turns away embarrassedly.)
CHRIS: Don't you tank she vas pooty gel, Larry?
LARRY: (Rising to the occasion) Sure! A peach!
CHRIS: You bet you! Give me drink for take back--one port
vine for Anna--
she calabrate dis one time with me--and small beer for me.
LARRY: (As he gets the drinks) Small beer for you,
eh? She's reformin' you already.
CHRIS: (Pleased) You bet!
(He takes the drinks. As she hears him coming, ANNA
hastily dries her eyes, tries
to smile. CHRIS comes in and sets the drinks down on
the table--stares at her for a second anxiously--patting her
CHRIS: You look tired, Anna. Veil, Ay make you take good
long rest now. (Picking up his beer) Come, you drink vine.
It put new life in you.
(She lifts her glass--he grins.)
CHRIS: Skoal, Anna! You know dat Svedish word?
ANNA: Skoal! (Downing her port at a gulp like a drink
of whisky--her lips trembling) Skoal? Guess I know that word,
(The curtain falls.)
END OF ACT ONE
(Ten days later. The stern of the deeply-laden barge, Simeon
Winthrop, at anchor in the outer harbor of Provincetown, Mass.
It is ten o'clock at night. Dense fog shrouds the barge on all sides,
and she floats motionless on a calm. A lantern set
up on an immense coil of thick hawser sheds a dull, filtering light
on objects near it--the heavy steel bits for making fast the tow
lines, etc. In the rear is the cabin,
its misty windows glowing wanly with the light of a lamp inside. The
chimney of the cabin stove rises a few feet above the roof. The doleful
tolling of bells, on Long Point, on ships at anchor, breaks the silence
at regular intervals. As the curtain rises ANNA is discovered
standing near the coil of rope on which the lantern is placed. She
looks healthy, transformed, the natural color has come back to her
face. She has on a black oilskin coat, but wears no hat. She is staring
out into the fog astern with an expression of awed wonder. The cabin
door is pushed open and CHRIS appears. He is dressed
in yellow oilskins--coat, pants, sou'wester--and wears high
CHRIS: (The glare from the cabin still in his eyes, peers
blinkingly astern) Anna! (Receiving no reply, he calls again,
this time with apparent apprehension.) Anna!
ANNA: (With a start--making a gesture with her hand
as if to impose silence--
in a hushed whisper) Yes, here I am. What d'you want?
CHRIS: (Walks over to her--solicitously) Don't
you come turn in, Anna? It's late--after four bells. It ain't good
for you stay out here in fog, Ay tank.
ANNA: Why not? (With a trace of strange exultation)
I love this fog! Honest! It's so-- (She hesitates, groping
for a word.) Funny and still. I feel as if I was--out of things
CHRIS: (Spitting disgustedly) Fog's vorst one of her
dirty tricks, py yingo!
ANNA: (With a short laugh) Beefing about the sea again?
I'm getting so's I love it, the little I've seen.
CHRIS: (Glancing at her moodily) Dat's foolish talk,
Anna. You see her more, you don't talk dat vay. (Then seeing her
irritation, he hastily adopts a more cheerful tone.) But Ay'm glad
you like it on barge. Ay'm glad it makes you feel good again. (With
a placating grin) You like live like dis alone with ole fa'der,
ANNA: Sure I do. Everything's been so different from anything
I ever come across before. And now--this fog--Gee, I wouldn't
have missed it for nothing. I never thought living on ships was so
different from land. Gee, I'd yust love to work on it, honest I would,
if I was a man. I don't wonder you always been a sailor.
CHRIS: (Vehemently) Ay ain't sailor, Anna. And dis
ain't real sea. You only see nice part. (Then as she doesn't answer,
he continues hopefully.) Vell, fog lift in morning, Ay tank.
ANNA: (The exultation again in her voice) I love it!
I don't give a rap if it never lifts!
(CHRIS fidgets from one foot to the other worriedly.
ANNA continues slowly, after a pause.)
ANNA: It makes me feel clean--out here--'s if I'd taken
CHRIS: (After a pause) You better go in cabin read
book. Dat put you to sleep.
ANNA: I don't want to sleep. I want to stay out here--and
think about things.
CHRIS: (Walk: away from her toward the cabin--then
comes back) You act funny tonight, Anna.
ANNA: (Her voice rising angrily) Say, what're you
trying to do--make things rotten? You been kind as kind can be
to me and I certainly appreciate it--
only don't spoil it all now. (Then, seeing the hurt expression
on her father's face, she forces a smile.) Let's talk of something
else. Come. Sit down here. (She points to the coil of rope.)
CHRIS: (Sits down beside her with a sigh) It's gatting
pooty late in night, Anna. Must be near five bells.
ANNA: (Interestedly) Five bells? What time is that?
CHRIS: Half past ten.
ANNA: Funny I don't know nothing about sea talk--but those
cousins was always talking crops and that stuff. Gee, wasn't I sick
of it--and of them!
CHRIS: You don't like live on farm, Anna?
ANNA: I've told you a hundred times I hated it. (Decidedly)
have one drop of ocean than all the farms in the world! Honest! And
you wouldn't like a farm, neither. Here's where you belong. (She
makes a sweeping gesture seaward.) But not on a coal barge. You
belong on a real ship, sailing all over the world.
CHRIS: (Moodily) Ay've done dat many year, Anna, when
Ay vas damn fool.
ANNA: (Disgustedly) Oh, rats! (After a pause she
speaks musingly.) Was the men in our family always sailors--as
far back as you know about?
CHRIS: (Shortly) Yes. Damn fools! All men in our village
on coast, Sveden,
go to sea. Ain't nutting else for dem to do. My fa'der die on board
ship in Indian Ocean. He's buried at sea. Ay don't never know him
only little bit. Den my tree bro'der, older'n me, dey go on ships.
Den Ay go, too. Den my mo'der she's left all 'lone. She die pooty
quick after dat--all 'lone. Ve vas
all avay on voyage when she die. (He pauses sadly.) Two my
bro'der dey gat lost on fishing boat same like your bro'ders vas drowned.
My oder bro'der, he save money, give up sea, den he die home in bed.
He's only one dat ole davil don't kill. (Defiantly) But me,
Ay bet you Ay die ashore in bed, too!
ANNA: Were all of `em yust plain sailors?
CHRIS: Able body seaman, most of dem. (With a certain
pride) Dey vas all smart seaman, too--A one. (Then after
hesitating a moment--shyly) Ay vas bo'sun.
CHRIS: Dat's kind of officer.
ANNA: Gee, that was fine. What does he do?
CHRIS: (After a second's hesitation, plunged into gloom
again by his fear of
her enthusiasm) Hard vork all time. It's rotten, Ay tal you, for
go to sea. (Determined to disgust her with sea life--volubly)
Dey're all fool falla; dem fallar in our family. Dey all vork rotten
yob on sea for nutting, don't care nutting but yust gat big pay day
in pocket, gat drunk, gat robbed, ship avay again on oder voyage.
Dey don't come home. Dey don't do anytang like good man do. And dat
ole davil, sea, sooner, later she svallow dem up.
ANNA: (With an excited laugh) Good sports, I'd call
'em. (Then hastily) But say--listen--did all the women
of the family marry sailors?
CHRIS: (Eagerly--seeing a chance to drive home his
point) Yes--and it's bad on dem like hell vorst of all. Dey
don't see deir men only once in long while. Dey set and vait all 'lone.
And vhen deir boys grows up, go to sea, dey sit and vait some more.
(Vehemently) Any gel marry sailor, she's crazy fool! Your mo'der
she tal you same tang if she vas alive. (He relapses into an attitude
of somber brooding.)
ANNA: (After a pause--dreamily) Funny! I do feel
sort of--nutty, tonight.
I feel old.
CHRIS: (Mystified) Ole?
ANNA: Sure--like I'd been living a long, long time--out
here in the fog. (Frowning perplexedly) I don't know how to
tell you yust what I mean.
It's like I'd come home after a visit away some place. It all seems
like I'd been here before lots of times--on boats--in this same
fog. (With a short laugh) You must think I'm off my base.
CHRIS: (Gruffly) Anybody feel funny dat vay in fog.
ANNA: (Persistently) But why d'you s'pose I feel so--so--like
I'd found something I'd missed and been looking for--'s if this
was the right place for me to fit in? And I seem to have forgot--everything
that's happened--like it didn't matter no more. And I feel clean,
somehow--like you feel yust after you've took a bath. And I feel
happy for once--yes, honest!-- happier than
I ever been anywhere before!
(As CHRIS makes no comment but a heavy sigh, she
ANNA: It's nutty for me to feel that way, don't you think?
CHRIS: (A grim foreboding in his voice) Ay tank Ay'm
damn fool for bring you on voyage, Anna.
ANNA: (Impressed by his tone) You talk--nutty tonight
yourself. You act 's if you was scared something was going to happen.
CHRIS: Only God know dat, Anna.
ANNA: (Half-mockingly) Then it'll be Gawd's will,
like the preachers say--what does happen.
CHRIS: (Starts to his feet with fierce protest) No!
Dat ole davil, sea, she ain't God!
(In the pause of silence that comes after his defiance a hail
in a man's husky, exhausted voice comes faintly out of the fog to
port: "Ahoy!" CHRIS gives a
ANNA: (Jumping to her feet) What's that?
CHRIS: (Who has regained his composure--sheepishly)
Py golly, dat scare me for minute. It's only some fallar hail, Anna--loose
his course in fog. Must be fisherman's power boat. His engine break
down, Ay guess.
(The "ahoy" comes again through the wall of fog, sounding
much nearer this time. CHRIS goes over to the port bulwark.)
CHRIS: Sound from dis side. She come in from open sea. (He
holds his hands to his mouth, megaphone-fashion, and shouts back.)
Ahoy, dere! Vhat's trouble?
THE VOICE: (This time sounding nearer but up
forward toward the bow) Heave
a rope when we come alongside. (Then, irritably) Where are
ye, ye scut?
CHRIS: Ay hear dem rowing. Dey come up by bow, Ay tank. (Then
shouting out again) Dis ray!
THE VOICE: Right ye are!
(There is a muffled sound of oars in oar-locks.)
ANNA: (Half to herself--resentfully) why don't
that guy stay where he belongs?
CHRIS: (Hurriedly) Ay go up bow. All hands asleep
'cepting fallar on vatch. Ay gat heave line to dat fallar.
(He picks up a coil of rope and hurries off toward the bow. ANNA
walks back toward the extreme stern as if she wanted to remain as
much isolated as possible. She turns her back on the proceedings and
stares out into the fog. THE VOICE is heard
again shouting "Ahoy" and CHRIS answering "Dis
vay." Then there is a pause--the murmur of excited voices--then
the scuffling of feet. CHRIS appears from around the
cabin to port. He is supporting the limp form of a man dressed in
dungarees, holding one of the man's arms around his neck. The deckhand,
JOHNSON, a young blond Swede, follows him, helping along
another exhausted man in a similar fashion. ANNA turns
to look at them. CHRIS stops for a second--volubly.)
CHRIS: Anna! You come help, vill you? You find vhisky in
cabin. Dese fallars need drink for fix dem. Dey vas near dead.
ANNA: (Hurrying to him) Sure--but who are they?
What's the trouble?
CHRIS: Sailor fallars. Deir steamer gat wrecked. Dey been
five days in open boat--four fallars--only one left able stand
up. Come, Anna.
(She precedes him into the cabin, holding the door open while
he and JOHNSON carry in their burdens. The door is shut
then opened again as JOHNSON comes out. CHRIS'
voice shouts after him.)
CHRIS: Go gat oder fallar, Yohnson.
JOHNSON: Yes, sir.
(He goes. The door is closed again. MAT BURKE
stumbles in around the port side
of the cabin. He moves slowly, feeling his way uncertainly, keeping
hold of the port bulwark with his right hand to steady himself. He
is stripped to the waist, has on nothing but a pair of dirty dungaree
pants. He is a powerful, broad-chested six-
footer, his face handsome in a hard, rough, bold, defiant way. He
is about thirty,
in the full power of his heavy-muscled, immense strength. His dark
eyes are bloodshot and wild from sleeplessness. The muscles of his
arms and shoulders are lumped in knots and bunches, the veins of his
forearms stand out like blue cords.
He finds his way to the coil of hawser and sits down on it facing
the cabin, his back bowed, head in his hands, in an attitude of spent
BURKE: (Talking aloud to himself) Row, ye divil! Row!
(Then lifting his head and looking about him) What's this tub?
Well, we're safe anyway--with the help of God.
(He makes the sign of the cross mechanically. JOHNSON
comes along the deck to port, supporting the fourth man, who is babbling
to himself incoherently. BURKE glances at him disdainfully.)
BURKE: Is it losing the small wits ye iver had, ye are? Deck-scrubbing
(They pass him and go into the cabin, leaving the door open. BURKE
sags forward wearily.)
BURKE: I'm bate out--bate out entirely.
ANNA: (Comes out of the cabin with a tumbler quarter-full
of whisky in her hand. She gives a start when she sees BURKE
so near her, the light from the open door falling full on him. Then,
overcoming what is evidently a feeling of repulsion,
she comes up beside him.) Here you are. Here's a drink for you.
You need it,
BURKE: (Lifting his head slowly--confusedly) Is
it dreaming I am?
ANNA: (Half smiling) Drink it and you'll find it ain't
BURKE: To hell with the drink--but I'll take it just the
same. (He tosses it down.) Ahah! I'm needin' that--and 'tis
fine stuff. (Looking up at her with frank, grinning admiration)
But 'twasn't the booze I meant when I said, was I dreaming. I thought
you was some mermaid out of the sea come to torment me. (He reaches
out to feel of her arm.) Aye, rale flesh and blood, divil a less.
ANNA: (Coldly. Stepping back from him) Cut that.
BURKE: But tell me, isn't this a barge I'm on--or isn't
BURKE: And what is a fine handsome woman the like of you
ANNA: (Coldly) Never you mind. (Then half amused
in spite of herself)
Say, you're a great one, honest--starting right in kidding after
you been through.
BURKE: (Delighted--proudly) Ah, it was nothing--aisy
for a rale man with guts to him, the like of me. (He laughs.)
All in the day's work, darlin'. (Then, more seriously but still
in a boastful tone, confidentially) But I won't be denying 'twas
a damn narrow squeak. We'd all ought to be with Davy Jones at the
bottom of the sea, be rights. And only for me, I'm telling you, and
the great strength and guts is in me, we'd be being scoffed by the
fishes this minute!
ANNA: (Contemptuously) Gee, you hate yourself, don't
you? (Then turning away from him indifferently) Well, you'd
better come in and lie down.
You must want to sleep.
BURKE: (Stung--rising unsteadily to his feet with
chest out and head thrown back--
resentfully) Lie down and sleep, is it? Divil a wink I'm after
having for two days and nights and divil a bit I'm needing now. Let
you not be thinking I'm the like of them three weak scuts come in
the boat with me. I could lick the three of them sitting down with
one hand tied behind me. They may be bate out, but I'm not--and
I've been rowing the boat with them lying in the bottom not able to
raise a hand for the last two days we was in it. (Furiously, as
he sees this is making no impression on her) And I can lick all
hands on this tub, wan be wan, tired as I am!
ANNA: (Sarcastically) Gee, ain't you a hard guy! (Then,
with a trace of sympathy, as she notices him swaying from weakness)
But never mind that
fight talk: I'll take your word for all you've said. Go on and sit
down out here, anyway, if I can't get you to come inside.
(He sits down weakly.)
ANNA: You're all in, you might as well own up to it.
BURKE: (Fiercely) The hell I am!
ANNA: (Coldly) Well, be stubborn then for all I care.
And I must say I don't care for your language. The men I know don't
pull that rough stuff when ladies are around.
BURKE: (Getting unsteadily to his feet again--in a
rage) Ladies! Ho-ho! Divil mend you! Let you not be making game
of me. What would ladies be doing on this bloody hulk?
(As ANNA attempts to go to the cabin, he lurches
into her path.)
BURKE: Aisy, now! You're not the old Squarehead's woman,
I suppose you'll be telling me next--living in his cabin with him,
(Seeing the cold, hostile expression on ANNA's face,
he suddenly changes his tone to one of boisterous joviality.)
BURKE: But I do be thinking, iver since the first look my
eyes took at you, that it's a fool you are to be wasting yourself--a
fine, handsome girl--on a stumpy runt of a man like that old Swede.
There's too many strapping great lads on the sea would give their
heart's blood for one kiss of you.
ANNA: (Scornfully) Lads like you, eh?
BURKE: (Grinning) Ye take the words out o' my mouth.
I'm the proper lad
for you, if it's meself do be saying it. (With a quick movement
he puts his arms about her waist.) Whisht, now, me daisy! Himself's
in the cabin. It's wan of your kisses I'm needing to take the tiredness
from me bones. Wan kiss, now!
(He presses her to him and attempts to kiss her.)
ANNA: (Struggling fiercely) Leggo of me, you big mutt!
(She pushes him away with all her might. BURKE,
weak and tottering, is caught off his guard. He is thrown down backward
and, in falling, hits his head a hard thump against the bulwark. He
lies there still, knocked out for the moment. ANNA stands
for a second, looking down at him frightenedly. Then she kneels down
beside him and raises his head to her knee, staring into his face
anxiously for some sign of life.)
BURKE: (Stirring a bit--mutteringly) God stiffen
it! (He opens his eyes and blinks up at her with vague wonder.)
ANNA: (Letting his head sink back on the deck, rising
to her feet with a sigh of relief) You're coming to all right,
eh? Gee, I was scared for a moment I'd killed you.
BURKE: (With difficulty rising to a sitting position--scornfully)
Killed, is it? It'd take more than a bit of a blow to crack my thick
skull. (Then looking at her with the most intense admiration)
But, glory be, it's a power of strength is in them two fine arms of
yours. There's not a man in the world can say the same as you, that
he seen Mat Burke lying at his feet and him dead to the world.
ANNA: (Rather remorsefully) Forget it. I'm sorry it
(BURKE rises and sits on bench. Then severely:)
ANNA: Only you had no right to be getting fresh with me.
Listen, now, and don't go getting any more wrong notions. I'm on this
barge because I'm making a trip with my father. The captain's my father.
Now you know.
BURKE: The old square--the old Swede, I mean?
BURKE: (Rising--peering at her face) Sure I might
have known it, if I wasn't a bloody fool from birth. Where else'd
you get that fine yellow hair is like a golden crown on your head.
ANNA: (With an amused laugh) Say, nothing stops you,
does it? (Then attempting a severe tone again) But don't you
think you ought to be apologizing for what you said and done yust
a minute ago, instead of
trying to kid me with that mush?
BURKE: (Indignantly) Mush! (Then bending forward
toward her with very intense earnestness) Indade and I will ask
your pardon a thousand times--and on my knees, if ye like. I didn't
mean a word of what I said or did. (Resentful again for a second)
But divil a woman in all the ports of the world has iver made a great
fool of me that way before!
ANNA: (With amused sarcasm) I see. You mean you're
a lady-killer and
they all fall for you.
BURKE: (Offended. Passionately) Leave off your fooling!
'Tis that is after getting my back up at you. (Earnestly) 'Tis
no lie I'm telling you about
the women. (Ruefully) Though it's a great jackass I am to be
you, even in anger, for the like of them cows on the waterfront is
only women I've met up with since I was growed to a man.
(As ANNA shrinks away from him at this, he hurries
BURKE: I'm a hard, rough man and I'm not fit, I'm thinking,
to be kissing
the shoe-soles of a fine, dacent girl the like of yourself 'Tis only
the ignorance of your kind made me see you wrong. So you'll forgive
for the love of God, and let us be friends from this out. (Passionately)
I'm thinking I'd rather be friends with you than have my wish for
anything else in the world. (He holds out his hand to her shyly.)
ANNA: (Looking queerly at him, perplexed and worried,
but moved and pleased in spite of herself--takes his hand uncertainly)
BURKE: (With boyish delight) God bless you! (In
his excitement he squeezes her hand tight.)
BURKE: (Hastily dropping her hand--ruefully) Your
pardon, Miss. 'Tis a clumsy ape I am. (Then simply--glancing
down his arm proudly) It's great power I have in my hand and arm,
and I do be forgetting it at times.
ANNA: (Nursing her crushed hand and glancing at his arm,
not without a trace of his own admiration) Gee, you're some strong,
BURKE: (Delighted) It's no lie, and why shouldn't
I be, with me shoveling a million tons of coal in the stokeholes of
'hips since I was a lad only. (He pats the coil of hawser invitingly.)
Let you sit down, now, Miss, and I'll be telling you a bit of myself,
and you'll be telling me a bit of yourself, and in an hour we'll be
as old friends as if we was born in the same house. (He pulls
at her sleeve shyly.) Sit down now, if you plaze.
ANNA: (With a half laugh) Well-- (She sits
down.) But we won't talk about me, see? You tell me about yourself
and about the wreck.
BURKE: (Flattered) I'll tell you, surely. But can
I be asking you one question, Miss, has my head in a puzzle?
ANNA: (Guardedly) Well--I dunno--what is it?
BURKE: What is it you do when you're not taking a trip with
the Old Man? For I'm thinking a fine girl the like of you ain't living
always on this tub.
ANNA: (Uneasily) No--of course I ain't.
(She searches his face suspiciously, afraid there may be some
hidden insinuation in his words. Seeing his simple frankness, she
goes on confidently.)
ANNA: Well, I'll tell you. I'm a governess, see? I take care
of kids for people and learn them things.
BURKE: (Impressed) A governess, is it? You must be
ANNA: But let's not talk about me. Tell me about the wreck,
like you promised me you would.
BURKE: (Importantly) 'Twas this way, Miss. Two weeks
out we ran into the divil's own storm, and she sprang wan hell of
a leak up for'ard. The skipper was hoping to make Boston before another
blow would finish her, but ten days back we met up with another storm
the like of the first, only worse. Four days we was in it with green
seas raking over her from bow to stern. That was a terrible time,
God help us. (Proudly) And if 'twasn't for me and my great
strength, I'm telling you-- and it's God's truth--there'd been
mutiny itself in the stokehole. 'Twas me held them to it, with a kick
to wan and a clout to another, and they not caring a damn for the
engineers any more, but fearing a clout of my right arm more than
they'd fear the sea itself. (He glances at her anxiously, eager
for her approval.)
ANNA: (Concealing a smile--amused by this boyish boasting
of his) You did some hard work, didn't you?
BURKE: (Promptly) I did that! I'm a divil for sticking
it out when them that's weak give up. But much good it did anyone!
'Twas a mad, fightin' scramble in the last seconds with each man for
himself. I disremember how it come about, but there was the four of
us in wan boat and when we was raised high on a great wave I took
a look about and divil a sight there was of ship or men on top of
ANNA: (In a subdued voice) Then all the others was
BURKE: They was, surely.
ANNA: (With a shudder) What a terrible end!
BURKE: (Turns to her) A terrible end for the like
of them swabs does live on land, maybe. But for the like of us does
be roaming the seas, a good end,
I'm telling you--quick and clane.
ANNA: (Struck by the word) Yes, clean. That's yust
the word for--all of it--the way it makes me feel.
BURKE: The sea, you mean? (Interestedly) I'm thinking
you have a bit of it
in your blood, too. Your Old Man wasn't only a barge rat--begging
your pardon--all his life, by the cut of him.
ANNA: No, he was bo'sun on sailing ships for years. And all
the men on both sides of the family have gone to sea as far back as
he says. All the women have married sailors, too.
BURKE: (With intense satisfaction) Did they, now?
They had spirit in them.
It's only on the sea you'd find rale men with guts is fit to wed with
fine, high-tempered girls (Then he adds half-boldly) the like
ANNA: (With a laugh) There you go kiddin' again. (Then
seeing his hurt expression--quickly) But you was going to tell
me about yourself. You're Irish, of course I can tell that.
BURKE: (Stoutly) Yes, thank God, though I've not seen
a sight of it in fifteen years or more.
ANNA: (Thoughtfully) Sailors never do go home hardly,
do they? That's what my father was saying.
BURKE: He wasn't telling no lie. (With sudden melancholy)
It's a hard and lonesome life, the sea is. The only women you'd meet
in the ports of the world who'd be willing to speak you a kind word
isn't woman at all. You know the kind I mane, and they're a poor,
wicked lot, God forgive them. They're looking to steal the money from
ANNA: (Her face averted--rising to her feet--agitatedly)
I think--I guess I'd better see what's doing inside.
BURKE: (Afraid he has offended her--beseechingly)
Don't go, I'm saying! Is it I've given you offense with my talk of
the like of them? Don't heed it at all! I'm clumsy in my wits when
it comes to talking proper with a girl the like of you. And why wouldn't
I be? Since the day I left home for to go to sea punching coal this
is the first time I've had a word with a rale, dacent woman. So don't
turn your back on me now, and we beginning to be friends.
ANNA: (Turning to him again--forcing a smile) I'm
not sore at you, honest.
BURKE: (Gratefully) God bless you!
ANNA: (Changing the subject abruptly) But if you honestly
think the sea's such a rotten life, why don't you get out of it?
BURKE: (Surprised) Work on land, is it?
(She nods. He spits scornfully.)
BURKE: Digging spuds in the muck from dawn to dark, I suppose?
(Vehemently) I wasn't made for it, Miss.
ANNA: (With a laugh) I thought you'd say that.
BURKE: (Argumentatively) But there's good jobs and
bad jobs at sea, like there'd be on land. I'm thinking if it's in
the stokehole of a proper liner I was, I'd be able to have a little
house and be home to it wan week out of four. And I'm thinking that
maybe then I'd have the luck to find a fine dacent girl--the like
of yourself, now--would be willing to wed with me.
ANNA: (Turning away from him with a short laugh--uneasily)
BURKE: (Edging up close to her--exultantly) Then
you think a girl the like of yourself might maybe not mind the past
at all but only be seeing the good herself put in me?
ANNA: (In the same tone) Why, sure.
BURKE: (Passionately) She'd not be sorry for it, I'd
take my oath! 'Tis no more drinking and roving about I'd be doing
then, but giving my pay day into her hand and staying at home with
her as meek as a lamb each night of the week I'd be in port.
ANNA: (Moved in spite of herself and troubled by this
half-concealed proposal--with a forced laugh) All you got to
do is find the girl.
BURKE: I have found her!
ANNA: (Half-frightenedly--trying to laugh it off)
You have? When? I thought you was saying--
BURKE: (Boldly and forcefully) This night. (Hanging
his head--humbly) If she'll be having me. (Then raising
his eyes to hers--simply) 'Tis you' I mean.
ANNA: (Is held by his eyes for a moment--then shrinks
back from him with a strange, broken laugh) Say--are you--going
crazy? Are you trying to kid me? Proposing--to me !--for Gawd's
sake !--on such short acquaintance?
(CHRIS comes out of the cabin and stands staring
blinkingly astern. When he makes out ANNA in such intimate
proximity to this strange sailor, an angry expression comes over his
BURKE: (Following her--with fierce, pleading insistence)
I'm telling you there's the will of God in it that brought me safe
through the storm and fog to
the wan spot in the world where you was! Think of that now, and isn't
CHRIS: Anna! (He comes toward them, raging, his fists
clenched) Anna, you gat in cabin, you hear!
ANNA: (All her emotions immediately transformed into
resentment at his bullying tone) Who d'you think you're talking
CHRIS: (Hurt--his voice breaking--pleadingly)
You need gat rest, Anna.
You gat sleep.
(She does not move. He turns on BURKE furiously.)
CHRIS: What you doing here, you sailor fallar? You ain't
sick like oders. You gat in fo'c's'tle. Dey give you bunk. (Threateningly)
You hurry, Ay tal you!
ANNA: (Impulsively) But he is sick. Look at him. He
can hardly stand up.
BURKE: (Straightening and throwing out his chest--with
a bold laugh) Is it giving me orders ye are, me bucko? Let you
look out, then! With wan hand, weak as I am, I can break ye in two
and fling the pieces over the side--and your crew after you. (Stopping
abruptly) I was forgetting. You're her Old Man and I'd not raise
a fist to you for the world.
(His knees sag, he wavers and seems about to fall. ANNA
utters an exclamation of alarm and hurries to his side.)
ANNA: (Taking one of his arms over her shoulder) Come
on in the cabin.
You can have my bed if there ain't no other place.
BURKE: (With jubilant happiness--as they proceed toward
the cabin) Glory be to God, is it holding my arm about your neck
you are! Anna! Anna! Sure it's a sweet name is suited to you.
ANNA: (Guiding him carefully) Sssh! Sssh!
BURKE: Whisht, is it? Indade, and I'll not. I'll be roaring
it out like a fog horn over the sea! You're the girl of the world
and we'll be marrying soon and I don't care who knows it!
ANNA: (As she guides him through the cabin door) Ssshh!
Never mind that talk. You go to sleep.
(They go out of sight in the cabin. CHRIS, who has
been listening to BURKE's last words with open-mouthed
amazement stands looking after them desperately.)
CHRIS: (Turns suddenly and shakes his fist out at the
sea--with bitter hatred) Dat's your dirty trick, damn ole davil,
you! (Then in a frenzy of rage) But, py God, you don't do dat!
Not while Ay'm living! No, py God, you don't!
(The curtain falls.)
END OF ACT TWO
(The interior of the cabin on the barge, Simeon Winthrop
[at dock in Boston]--
a narrow, low-ceilinged compartment the walls of which are painted
a light brown with white trimmings. In the rear on the left, a door
leading to the sleeping quarters. In the far left corner, a large
locker-closet, painted white, on the door of which a mirror hangs
on a nail. In the rear wall, two small square windows and a door opening
out on the deck toward the stern. In the right wall, two more windows
looking out on the port deck. White curtains, clean and stiff, are
at the windows.
A table with two cane-bottomed chairs stands in the center of the
A dilapidated, wicker rocker, painted brown, is also by the table.)
(It is afternoon of a sunny day about a week later. From the harbor
and docks outside, muffled by the closed door and windows, comes the
sound of steamers' whistles and the puffing snort of the donkey engines
of some ship unloading nearby.)
(As the curtain rises, CHRIS and ANNA
are discovered. ANNA is seated in the rocking-chair
by the table, with a newspaper in her hands. She is not reading but
staring straight in front of her. She looks unhappy, troubled, frowningly
concentrated on her thoughts. CHRIS wanders about the
room, casting quick, uneasy side glances at her face, then stopping
to peer absent-mindedly out of the window. His attitude betrays an
overwhelming, gloomy anxiety which has him
on tenterhooks. He pretends to be engaged in setting things shipshape,
but this occupation is confined to picking up some object, staring
at it stupidly for a second, then aimlessly putting it down again.
He clears his throat and starts to sing to himself in a low, doleful
CHRIS: "My Yosephine, come board de ship. Long time Ay
vait for you."
ANNA: (Turning on him, sarcastically) I'm glad someone's
feeling good. (Wearily) Gee, I sure wish we was out of this
dump and back in New York.
CHRIS: (With a sigh) Ay'm glad vhen ve sail again,
too. (Then, as she makes no comment, he goes on with a ponderous
attempt at sarcasm.) Ay don't see vhy you don't like Boston, dough.
You have good time here, Ay tank. You go ashore all time, every day
and night veek ve've been here. You go to movies, see show, gat all
kinds fun-- (His eyes hard with hatred) All with that damn
ANNA: (With weary scorn) Oh, for heaven's sake, are
you off on that again? Where's the harm in his taking me around? D'you
want me to sit all day and night in this cabin with you--and knit?
Ain't I got a right to have as good a time as I can?
CHRIS: It ain't right kind of fun--not with that fallar,
ANNA: I been back on board every night by eleven, ain't I?
by some thought--looks at him with keen suspicion--with rising
anger) Say,look here, what d'you mean by what you yust said?
CHRIS: (Hastily) Nutting but what Ay say, Anna.
ANNA: You said "ain't right" and you said it funny.
Say, listen here, you ain't trying to insinuate that there's something
wrong between us, are you?
CHRIS: (Horrified) No, Anna! No, Ay svear to God,
Ay never tank dat!
ANNA: (Mollified by his very evident sincerity--sitting
down again) Well, don't you never think it neither if you want me ever to speak to you
again. (Angrily again) If I ever dreamt you thought that, I'd
get the hell out of this barge so quick you couldn't see me for dust.
CHRIS: (Soothingly) Ay wouldn't never dream-- (Then
after a second's pause, reprovingly) You vas gatting learn to svear.
Dat ain't nice for young gel, you tank?
ANNA: (With a faint trace of a smile) Excuse me. You
ain't used to such language, I know. (Mockingly) That's what
your taking me to sea has done for me.
CHRIS: (Indignantly) No, it ain't me. It's dat damn
sailor fallar learn you
ANNA: He ain't a sailor. He's a stoker.
CHRIS: (Forcibly) Dat vas million times vorse, Ay
tal you! Dem fallars dat vork below shoveling coal vas de dirtiest,
rough gang of no-good fallars in vorld!
ANNA: I'd hate to hear you say that to Mat.
CHRIS: Oh, Ay tal him same tang. You don't gat it in head
Ay'm scared of him yust 'cause he vas stronger'n Ay vas. (Menacingly)
You don't gat for fight with fists with dem fallars. Dere's oder vay
for fix him.
ANNA: (Glancing at him with sudden alarm) What d'you
CHRIS: (Sullenly) Nutting.
ANNA: You'd better not. I wouldn't start no trouble with
him if I was you. He might forget some time that you was old and my
father--and then you'd be out of luck.
CHRIS: (With smoldering hatred) Veil, yust let him!
Ay'm ole bird maybe, but Ay bet Ay show him trick or two.
ANNA: (Suddenly changing her tone--persuasively)
Aw come on, be good. What's eating you, anyway? Don't you want no
one to be nice to me except yourself?
CHRIS: (Placated--coming to her--eagerly) Yes,
Ay do, Anna--only not
fallar on sea. But Ay like for you marry steady fallar got good yob
on land. You have little home in country all your own--
ANNA: (Rising to her feet--brusquely) Oh, cut it
out! (Scornfully) Little home in the country! I wish you could
have seen the little home in the country where you had me in jail
till I was sixteen! (With rising irritation) Some day you're
going to get me so mad with that talk, I'm going to turn loose on
you and tell you--a lot of things that'll open your eyes.
CHRIS: (Alarmed) I don't want--
ANNA: I know you don't; but you keep on talking yust the
CHRIS: Ay don't talk no more den, Anna.
ANNA: Then promise me you'll cut out saying nasty things
about Mat Burke every chance you get.
CHRIS: (Evasive and suspicious) Vhy? You like dat
fallar--very much, Anna?
ANNA: Yes, I certainly do! He's a regular man, no matter
what faults he's got. One of his fingers is worth all the hundreds
of men I met out there--
CHRIS: (His face darkening) Maybe you tank you love
ANNA: (Defiantly) What of it if I do?
CHRIS: (Scowling and forcing out the words)Maybe--you
ANNA: (Shaking her head) No!
(CHRIS' face lights up with relief.)
ANNA: Continues slowly, a trace of sadness in her voice)
If I'd met him four years ago--or even two years ago--I'd have
jumped at the chance, I tell you that straight. And I would now--only
he's such a simple guy--a big kid--
and I ain't got the heart to fool him. (She breaks off suddenly.)
But don't never say again he ain't good enough for me. It's me ain't
good enough for him.
CHRIS: (Snorts scornfully) Py yiminy, you go crazy,
ANNA: (With a mournful laugh) Well, I been thinking
I was myself the last few days. (She goes and takes a shawl from
a hook near the door and throws it
over her shoulders.) Guess I'll take a walk down to the end of
the dock for a minute and see what's doing. I love to watch the ships
passing. Mat'll be along before long, I guess. Tell him where I am,
CHRIS: (Despondently) All right, Ay tal him.
(ANNA goes out the doorway on rear. CHRIS
follows her out and stands on the deck outside for a moment looking
after her. Then he comes back inside and shuts the door. He stands
looking out of the window--mutters--"Dirty ole davil, you."
Then he goes to the table, sets the cloth straight mechanically, picks
up the newspaper ANNA has let fall to the floor and
sits down in the rocking-chair.
He stares at the paper for a while, then puts it on the table, holds
his head in his hands and sighs drearily. The noise of a man's heavy
footsteps comes from the deck outside and there is a loud knock on
the door. CHRIS starts, makes a move as if to get up
and go to the door, then thinks better of it and sits still. The knock
then as no answer comes, the door is flung open and BURKE
appears. CHRIS scowls at the intruder and his hand instinctively
goes back to the sheath knife on his hip. BURKE is dressed
up--wears a cheap blue suit, a striped cotton shirt with a black
tie, and black shoes newly shined. His face is beaming with good humor.)
BURKE: (As he sees CHRIS--in a jovial
tone of mockery) Well, God bless who's here! (He bends down
and squeezes his huge form through the narrow doorway.) And how
is the world treating you this afternoon, Anna's father?
CHRIS: (Sullenly) Pooty goot--if it ain't for some
BURKE: (With a grin) Meaning me, do you? (He laughs.)
Well, if you ain't the funny old crank of a man! (Then soberly)
(CHRIS sits dumb, scowling, his eyes averted. BURKE
is irritated by this silence.)
BURKE: Where's Anna, I'm after asking you?
CHRIS: (Hesitating--then grouchily) She go down
end of dock.
BURKE: I'll be going down to her, then. But first I'm thinking
I'll take this chance when we're alone to have a word with you. (He
sits down opposite CHRIS at the table and leans over
toward him.) And that word is soon said.
I'm marrying your Anna before this day is out, and you might as well
make up your mind to it whether you like it or no.
CHRIS: (Glaring at him with hatred and forcing a scornful
Dat's easy for say!
BURKE: You mean I won't? (Scornfully) Is it the like
of yourself will stop me, are you thinking?
CHRIS: Yes, Ay stop it, if it come to vorst.
BURKE: (With scornful pity) God help you!
CHRIS: But ain't no need for me do dat. Anna--
BURKE: (Smiling confidently) Is it Anna you think
will prevent me?
BURKE: And I'm telling you she'll not. She knows I'm loving
her, and she loves me the same, and I know it.
CHRIS: Ho-ho! She only have fun. She make big fool of you,
BURKE: (Unshaken--pleasantly) That's a lie in your
throat, divil mend you!
CHRIS: No, it ain't lie. She tal me yust before she go out
she never marry fallar like you.
BURKE: I'll not believe it. 'Tis a great old liar you are,
and a divil to be making a power of trouble if you had your way. But
'tis not trouble I'm looking for, and me sitting down here. (Earnestly)
Let us be talking it out now as man to man. You're her father, and
wouldn't it be a shame for us to be at each other's throats like a
pair of dogs, and I married with Anna. So out with the truth, man
alive. What is it you're holding against me at all?
CHRIS: (A bit placated, in spite of himself, by BURKE's
evident sincerity--but puzzled and suspicious) Vell--Ay don't
vant for Anna gat married. Listen, you fallar. Ay'm a ole man. Ay
don't see Anna for fifteen year. She ras all Ay gat in vorld. And
now ven she come on first trip--you tank Ay vant her leave me 'lone
BURKE: (Heartily) Let you not be thinking I have no
heart at all for the way you'd be feeling.
CHRIS: (Astonished and encouraged--trying to plead
persuasively) Den you do right tang, eh? You ship avay again, leave
Anna alone. (Cajolingly) Big fallar like you dat's on sea,
he don't need vife. He gat new gel in every port, you know dat.
BURKE: (Angrily for a second) God stiffen you! (Then
controlling himself--calmly) I'll not be giving you the lie
on that. But divil take you, there's a time comes to every man, on
sea or land, that isn't a born fool, when he's sick of the lot of
them cows, and wearing his heart out to meet up with a fine dacent
girl, and have a home to call his own and be rearing up children in
it. 'Tis small use you're asking me to leave Anna. She's the wan woman
of the world for me, and I can't live without her now, I'm thinking.
CHRIS: You forgat all about her in one veek out of port,
Ay bet you!
BURKE: You don't know the like I am. Death itself wouldn't
make me forget her. So let you not be making talk to me about leaving
her. I'll not, and be damned to you! It won't be so bad for you as
you'd make out at all. She'll
be living here in the States, and her married to me. And you'd be
her often so--a sight more often than ever you saw her the fifteen
was growing up in the West. It's quare you'd be the one to be making
great trouble about her leaving you when you never laid eyes on her
once in all them years.
CHRIS: (Guiltily) Ay taught it vas better Anna stay
away, grow up inland where she don't ever know ole davil, sea.
BURKE: (Scornfully) Is it blaming the sea for your
troubles ye are again,
God help you? Well, Anna knows it now. 'Twas in her blood, anyway.
CHRIS: And Ay don't vant she ever know no-good fallar on
BURKE: She knows one now.
CHRIS: (Banging the table with his fist--furiously)
Dat's yust it! Dat's yust what you are--no-good, sailor failar!
You tank Ay lat her life be made sorry by you like her mo'der's vas
by me! No, Ay svear! She don't marry you if Ay gat kill you first!
BURKE: (Looks at him a moment in astonishment--then
laughing uproariously) Ho-ho! Glory be to God, it's bold talk you
have for a stumpy runt of a man!
CHRIS: (Threateningly) Vell--you see!
BURKE: (With grinning defiance) I'll see, surely!
I'll see myself and Anna married this day, I'm telling you. (Then
with contemptuous exasperation)
It's quare fool's blather you have about the sea done this and the
sea done that. You'd ought to be 'shamed to be saying the like, and
you an old sailor yourself. I'm after hearing a lot of it from you
and a lot more that Anna's told me you do be saying to her, and I'm
thinking it's a poor weak thing
you are, and not a man at all!
CHRIS: (Darkly) You see if Ay'm man--maybe quicker'n
BURKE: (Contemptuously) Yerra, don't be boasting.
I'm thinking 'tis out of your wits you've got with fright of the sea.
You'd be wishing Anna married to a farmer, she told me. That'd be
a swate match, surely! Would you have a fine girl the like of Anna
lying down at nights with a muddy scut stinking of pigs and dung?
Or would you have her tied for life to the like of them skinny, shriveled
swabs does be working in cities?
CHRIS: Dat's lie, you fool!
BURKE: 'Tis not. 'Tis your own mad notions I'm after telling.
But you know the truth in your heart, if great fear of the sea has
made you a liar and coward itself. (Pounding the table) The
sea's the only life for a man with guts in him isn't afraid of his
own shadow! 'Tis only on the sea he's free, and him roving the face
of the world, seeing all things, and not giving a damn for saving
up money, or stealing from his friends, or any of the black tricks
that a landlubber'd waste his life on. 'Twas yourself knew it once,
and you a bo'sun for years.
CHRIS: (Sputtering with rage) You vas crazy fool,
Ay tal you!
BURKE: You've swallowed the anchor. The sea gives you a clout
once, knocked you down, and you're not man enough to get up for another,
but lie there for the rest of your life howling bloody murder. (Proudly)
Isn't it myself the sea has nearly drowned, and me battered and bate
till I was that close to hell I could hear the flames roaring, and
never a groan out of me till the sea gave up and it seeing the great
strength and guts of a man was in me?
CHRIS: (Scornfully) Yes, you vas hell of fallar, hear
you tal it!
BURKE: (Angrily) You'll be calling me a liar once
too often, me old bucko! Wasn't the whole story of it and my picture
itself in the newspapers of Boston a week back? (Looking CHRIS
up and down belittlingly) Sure I'd like
to see you in the best of your youth do the like of what I done in
the storm and after. 'Tis a mad lunatic, screeching with fear, you'd
be this minute!
CHRIS: Ho-ho! You vas young fool! In ole years when Ay was
on windyammer, Ay vas through hundred storms vorse'n dat! Ships vas
ships den--and men dat sail on dem vas real men. And now what you
gat on steamers? You gat fallars on deck don't know ship from mudscow.
a meaning glance at BURKE) And below deck you gat
fallars yust know how for shovel coal--might yust as vell vork
on coal vagon ashore!
BURKE: (Stung, angrily) Is it casting insults at the
men in the stokehole ye
are, ye old ape? God stiffen you! Wan of them is worth any ten stock-fish-
swilling Square-heads evershipped on a windbag!
CHRIS: (His face working with rage, his hand going back
to the sheath-knife on his hip) Irish svine, you!
BURKE: (Tauntingly) Don't ye like the Irish, ye old
baboon? 'Tis that you're needing in your family, I'm telling you--an
Irishman and a man of the stokehole--to put guts in it so that
you'll not be having grandchildren would be fearful cowards and jackasses
the like of yourself!
CHRIS: (Half rising from his chair--in a voice choked
with rage) You look out!
BURKE: (Watching him intently-- a mocking smile on
his lips) And it's that you'll be having, no matter what you'll
do to prevent; for Anna and me'll
be married this day, and no old fool the like of you will stop us
when I've made up my mind.
CHRIS: (With a hoarse cry) You don't!
(He throws himself at BURKE, knife in hand, knocking
his chair over backwards. BURKE springs to his feet
quickly in time to meet the attack. He laughs with the pure love of
battle. The old Swede is like a child in his hands. BURKE
does not strike or mistreat him in any way, but simply twists his
right hand behind his back and forces the knife from his fingers.
He throws the knife into a far corner of the room--tauntingly.)
BURKE: Old men is getting childish shouldn't play with knives.
(Holding the struggling CHRIS at arm's length----with
a sudden rush of anger, drawing back his fist)
BURKE: I've half a mind to hit you a great clout will put
sense in your square head. Kape off me now, I'm warning you!
(He gives CHRIS a push with the flat of his hand
which sends the old Swede staggering back against the cabin wall,
where he remains standing, panting heavily, his eyes fixed on BURKE
with hatred, as if he were only collecting his strength to rush at
BURKE: (Warningly) Now don't be coming at me again,
I'm saying, or I'll flatten you on the floor with a blow, if 'tis
Anna's father you are itself! I've no patience left for you. (Then
with an amused laugh) Well, 'tis a bold old man you are just the
same, and I'd never think it was in you to come tackling me alone.
(A shadow crosses the cabin windows. Both men start. ANNA
appears in the doorway.)
ANNA: (With pleased surprise as she sees BURKE)
Hello, Mat. Are you here already? I was down-- (She stops,
looking from one to the other, sensing immediately that something
has happened.) What's up? (Then noticing the overturned chair--in
alarm) How'd that chair get knocked over? (Turning
on BURKE reproachfully) You ain't been fighting with
him, Mat--after you promised?
BURKE: (His old self again) I've not laid a hand on
him, Anna. (He goes and picks up the chair, then turning on the
still questioning ANNA--with a reassuring smile)
Let you not be worried at all. 'Twas only a bit of an argument we
was having to pass the time till you'd come.
ANNA: It must have been some argument when you got to throwing
chairs. (She turns on CHRIS) Why don't you say
something? What was it about?
CHRIS: (Relaxing at last--avoiding her eyes--sheepishly)
Ve vas talking about ships and fallars on sea.
ANNA: (With a relieved smile) Oh--the old stuff,
BURKE: (Suddenly seeming to come to a bold decision--with
a defiant grin at CHRIS) He's not after telling you
the whole of it. We was arguing about
ANNA: (With a frown) About me?
BURKE: And we'll be finishing it out right here and now in
your presence if you're willing. (He sits down at the left of
ANNA: (Uncertainly--looking from him to her father)
Sure. Tell me what it's all about.
CHRIS: (Advancing toward the table--protesting to
BURKE) No! You don't do dat, you! You tal him you
don't vant for hear him talk, Anna.
ANNA: But I do. I want this cleared up.
CHRIS: (Miserably afraid now) Vell, not now, anyvay.
You vas going ashore, yes? You ain't got time--
ANNA: (Firmly) Yes, right here and now. (She turns
to BURKE) You tell me, Mat, since he don't want to.
BURKE: (Draws a deep breath--then plunges in boldly)
The whole of it's in a
few words only. So's he'd make no mistake, and him hating the sight
of me, I told him in his teeth I loved you. (Passionately)
And that's God truth, Anna, and well you know it!
CHRIS: (Scornfully--forcing a laugh) Ho-ho! He
tal same tang to gel every port he go!
ANNA: (Shrinking from her father with repulsion--resentfully)
Shut up, can't you? (Then to BURKE--feelingly)
I know it's true, Mat. I don't mind what he says.
BURKE: (Humbly grateful) God bless you!
ANNA: And then what?
BURKE: And then-- (Hesitatingly) And then I said--
(He looks at her pleadingly.) I said I was sure--I told
him I thought you have a bit of love for me, too. (Passionately)
Say you do, Anna! Let you not destroy me entirely, for the love of
God! (He grasps both her hands in his two.)
ANNA: (Deeply moved and troubled--forcing a trembling
laugh) So you told him that, Mat? No wonder he was mad. (Forcing
out the words) Well, maybe it's true, Mat. Maybe I do. I been thinking
and thinking--I didn't want to, Mat, I'll own up to that--I
tried to cut it out--but-- (She laughs helplessly.) I
guess I can't help it anyhow. So I guess I do, Mat. (Then with
a sudden joyous defiance) Sure I do! What's the use of kidding
myself different? Sure I love you, Mat!
CHRIS: (With a cry of pain) Anna! (He sits crushed.)
BURKE: (With a great depth of sincerity in his humble
gratitude) God be praised!
ANNA: (Assertively) And I ain't never loved a man
in my life before, you can always believe that--no matter what
BURKE: (Goes over to her and puts his arms around her)
Sure I do be believing ivery word you iver said or iver will say.
And 'tis you and me will be having a grand, beautiful life together
to the end of our days! (He tries to
kiss her. At first she turns away her head--then, overcome by a
fierce impulse of passionate love, she takes his head in both her
hands and holds his face close to hers, staring into his eyes. Then
she kisses him full on the lips.)
ANNA: (Pushing him away from her--forcing a broken
(She walks to the doorway in rear--stands with her back toward
them, looking out. Her shoulders quiver once or twice as if she were
fighting back her sobs.)
BURKE: (Too in the seventh heaven of bliss to get any
correct interpretation of her words-- with a laugh) Good-by,
is it? The divil you say! I'll be coming back at you in a second for
more of the same! (To CHRIS, who has quickened to
instant attention at his daughter's good-by, and has looked back at
her with a stirring of foolish hope in his eyes) Now, me old bucko,
what'll you be saying? You heard the words from her own lips. Confess
I've bate you. Own up like a man when you're bate fair and square.
And here's my hand to you-- (Holds out his hand) And let
you take it and we'll shake and forget what's over and done, and be
friends from this out.
CHRIS: (With implacable hatred) Ay don't shake hands
with you fallar--
not vhile Ay live!
BURKE: (Offended) The back of my hand to you then,
if that suits you better. (Growling) 'Tis a rotten bad loser
you are, divil mend you!
CHRIS: Ay don't lose. (Trying to be scornful and self-convincing)
Anna say she like you little bit but you don't hear her say she marry
you, Ay bet.
(At the sound of her name ANNA has turned round
to them. Her face is composed and calm again, but it is the dead calm
BURKE: (Scornfully) No, and I wasn't hearing her say
the sun is shining either.
CHRIS: (Doggedly) Dat's all right. She don't say it,
ANNA: (Quietly--coming forward to them) No, I didn't
say it, Mat.
CHRIS: (Eagerly) Dere! You hear!
BURKE: (Misunderstanding her--with a grin) You're
waiting till you do be asked, you mane? Well, I'm asking you now.
And we'll be married this day, with the help of God!
ANNA: (Gently) You heard what I said, Mat--after
I kissed you?
BURKE: (Alarmed by something in her manner) No--I
ANNA: I said good-by. (Her voice trembling) That kiss
was for good-by, Mat.
BURKE: (Terrified) What d'you mane?
ANNA: I can't marry you, Mat--and we've said good-by.
CHRIS: (Unable to hold back his exultation) Ay know
it! Ay know dat vas so!
BURKE: (Jumping to his feet--unable to believe his
ears) Anna! Is it making game of me you'd be? 'Tis a quare time
to joke with me, and don't be doing it,
for the love of God.
ANNA: (Looking him in the eyes--steadily) D'you
think I'd kid you? No,
I'm not joking, Mat. I mean what I said.
BURKE: Ye don't! Ye can't! 'Tis mad you are, I'm telling
ANNA: (Fixedly) No, I'm not.
BURKE: (Desperately) But what's come over you so sudden?
You was saying you loved me--
ANNA: I'll say that as often as you want me to. It's true.
BURKE: (Bewilderedly) Then why--what, in the divil's
name-- Oh, God help me, I can't make head or tail to it at all!
ANNA: Because it's the best way out I can figure, Mat. (Her
I been thinking it over and thinking it over day and night all week.
Don't think it ain't hard on me too, Mat.
BURKE: For the love of God, tell me then, what is it that's
preventing you wedding me when the two of us has love? (Suddenly
getting an idea and pointing at CHRIS--desperately)
Is it giving heed to the like of that old fool ye are, and him hating
me and filling your ears full of bloody lies against me?
CHRIS: (Getting to his feet--raging triumphantly before
ANNA has a chance to get in a word) Yes, Anna believe
me, not you! She know her old fa'der don't lie like you.
ANNA: (Turning on her father angrily) You sit down,
d'you hear? Where do you come in butting in and making things worse?
You're like a devil, you are! (Harshly) Good Lord, and I was
beginning to like you, beginning to forget all I've got held up against
CHRIS: (Crushed feebly) You ain't got nutting for
hold against me, Anna.
ANNA: Ain't I yust! Well, lemme tell you-- (She glances
at BURKE and stops abruptly) Say, Mat, I'm s'prised
at you. You didn't think anything he'd said--
BURKE: (Glumly) Sure, what else would it be?
ANNA: Think I've ever paid any attention to all his crazy
bull? Gee, you must take me for a five-year-old kid.
BURKE: (Puzzled and beginning to be irritated at her
too) I don't know how to take you, with your saying this one minute
and that the next.
ANNA: Well, he has nothing to do with it.
BURKE: Then what is it has? Tell me, and don't keep me waiting
and sweating blood.
ANNA: (Resolutely) I can't tell you--and I won't.
I got a good reason--
and that's all you need to know. I can't marry you, that's all there
is to it. (Distractedly) So, for Gawd's sake, let's talk of
BURKE: I'll not! (Then fearfully) Is it married to
someone else you are--
in the West maybe?
ANNA: (Vehemently) I should say not.
BURKE: (Regaining his courage) To the divil with all
other reasons then. They don't matter with me at all. (He gets
to his feet confidently, assuming a masterful tone.) I'm thinking
you're the like of them women can't make up their mind til they're
drove to it. Well, then, I'll make up your mind for you bloody quick.
(He takes her by the arms, grinning to soften his serious bullying.)
We've had enough of talk! Let you be going into your room now and
be dressing in your best and we'll be going ashore.
CHRIS: (Aroused--angrily) No, py God, she don't
do that! (Takes hold of her arm)
ANNA: (Who has listened to BURKE in astonishment.
She draws away from him, instinctively repelled by his tone, but not
exactly sure if he is serious or not--
a trace of resentment in her voice) Say, where do you get that
BURKE: (Imperiously) Never mind, now! Let you go get
dressed, I'm saying. (Then turning to CHRIS)
We'll be seeing who'll win in the end--me or you.
CHRIS: (To ANNA--also in an authoritative
tone) You stay right here, Anna, you hear!
(ANNA stands looking from one to the other of them
as if she thought they had both gone crazy. Then the expression of
her face freezes into the hardened sneer of her experience.)
BURKE: (Violently) She'll not! She'll do what I say!
You've had your hold on her long enough. It's my turn now.
ANNA: (With a hard laugh) Your turn? Say, what am
BURKE: 'Tis not what you are, 'tis what you're going to be
this day--and that's wedded to me before night comes. Hurry up
now with your dressing.
CHRIS: (Commandingly) You don't do one tang he say,
(ANNA laughs mockingly.)
BURKE: She will, so!
CHRIS: Ay tal you she don't! Ay'm her fa'der.
BURKE: She will in spite of you. She's taking my orders from
ANNA: (Laughing again) Orders is good!
BURKE: (Turning to her impatiently) Hurry up now,
and shake a leg. We've
no time to be wasting. (Irritated as she doesn't move) Do you
hear what I'm telling you?
CHRIS: You stay dere, Anna!
ANNA: (At the end of her patience--blazing out at
them passionately) You can go to hell, both of you!
(There is something in her tone that makes them forget their quarrel
and turn to her in a stunned amazement. ANNA laughs
ANNA: You're just like all the rest of them--you two!
Gawd, you'd think I was a piece of furniture! I'll show you! Sit down
(As they hesitate--furiously)
ANNA: Sit down and let me talk for a minute. You're all wrong,
Listen to me! I'm going to tell you something--and then I'm going
it. (To BURKE--with a harsh laugh) I'm going
to tell you a funny story, so pay attention. (Pointing to CHRIS)
I've been meaning to turn it loose on him every time he'd get my goat
with his bull about keeping me safe inland. I wasn't going to tell
you, but you've forced me into it. What's the dif? It's all
wrong anyway, and you might as well get cured that way as any other.
(With hard mocking) Only don't forget what you said a minute
it not mattering to you what other reason I got so long as I wasn't
married to no one else.
BURKE: (Manfully) That's my word, and I'll stick to
ANNA: (Laughing bitterly) What a chance! You make
me laugh, honest! Want to bet you will? Wait 'n see! (She stands
at the table rear, looking from one to the other of the two men with
her hard, mocking smite. Then she begins, fighting to control her
emotion and speak calmly.) First thing is, I want to tell you two
guys something. You was going on 's if one of you had got to own me.
But nobody owns me, see?--'cepting myself. I'll do what I please
and no man, I don't give a hoot who he is, can tell me what to do!
I ain't asking either of you for a living. I can make it myself--one
way or other. I'm my own boss. So put that in your pipe and smoke
it! You and your orders!
BURKE: (Protestingly) I wasn't meaning it that way
at all and well you know it. You've no call to be raising this rumpus
with me. (Pointing to CHRIS)
'Tis him you've a right--
ANNA: I'm coming to him. But you--you did mean it that
You sounded--yust like all the rest. (Hysterically) But,
damn it, shut up!
Let me talk for a change!
BURKE: 'Tis quare, rough talk, that--for a dacent girl
the like of you!
ANNA: (With a hard laugh) Decent? Who told you I was?
(CHRIS is sitting with bowed shoulders, his head
in his hands. She leans over in exasperation and shakes him violently
by the shoulder.)
ANNA: Don't go to sleep, Old Man! Listen here, I'm talking
to you now!
CHRIS: (Straightening up and looking about as if he were
seeking a way to escape--
with frightened foreboding in his voice) Ay don't vant for hear
it. You vas going out of head, Ay tank, Anna.
ANNA: (Violently) Well, living with you is enough
to drive anyone off their nut. Your bunk about the farm being so fine!
Didn't I write you year after year how rotten it was and what a dirty
slave them cousins made of me? What'd you care? Nothing! Not even
enough to come out and see me! That crazy bull about wanting to keep
me away from the sea don't go down with me! You yust didn't want to
be bothered with me! You're like all the rest of 'em!
CHRIS: (Feebly) Anna! It ain't so--
ANNA: (Not heeding his interruption--vengefully)
But one thing I never wrote you. It was one of them cousins that you
think is such nice people--the youngest son--Paul--that started
me wrong. (Loudly) It wasn't none of my fault. I hated him
worse'n hell and he knew it. But he was big and strong-- (Pointing
to BURKE) --like you!
BURKE: (Half springing to his feet--his fists clenched)
God blarst it! (He sinks slowly back in his chair again, the knuckles
showing white on his clenched hands, his face tense with the effort
to suppress his grief and rage.)
CHRIS: (In a cry of horrified pain) Anna!
ANNA: (To him--seeming not to have heard their interruptions)
That was why I run away from the farm. That was what made me get a
yob as nurse girl in Saint Paul. (With a hard, mocking laugh)
And you think that was a nice yob for a girl, too, don't you? (Sarcastically)
With all them nice inland fellers yust looking for a chance to marry
me, I s'pose. Marry me? What a chance! They wasn't looking for marrying.
(As BURKE lets a groan of fury escape him--desperately)
I'm owning up to everything fair and square. I was caged in, I tell
you--yust like in yail--
taking care of other people's kids--listening to 'em bawling and
crying day and night-- when I wanted to be out--and I was lonesome--lonesome
as hell! (With a sudden weariness in her voice) So I give up
finally. What was the use?
(She stops and looks at the two men. Both are motionless and silent.
CHRIS seems in a stupor of despair, his house of cards
fallen about him. BURKE's face is livid with the rage
that is eating him up but he is too stunned and bewildered yet to
find a vent for it. The condemnation she feels in their silence goads
ANNA into a harsh, strident defiance.)
ANNA: You don't say nothing--either of you--but I know
what you're thinking. You're like all the rest! (To CHRIS--furiously)
And who's to blame for it, me or you? If you'd even acted like a man--if
you'd even had been a regular father and had me with you--maybe
things would be different!
CHRIS: (In agony) Don't talk dat vay, Anna! Ay go
crazy! Ay von't listen! (Puts his hands over his ears)
ANNA: (Infuriated by his action--stridently) You
will too listen! (She leans over and pulls his hands from his
ears-- with hysterical rage.) You--keeping me safe inland--I
wasn't no nurse girl the last two years--I lied when I wrote you--
I was in a house, that's what!--yes, that kind of a house--
the kind sailors like you and Mat goes to in port--and your nice
inland men, too--and all men, God damn 'em! I hate 'em! Hate 'em!
(She breaks into hysterical sobbing, throwing herself into the
chair and hiding her face in her hands on the table. The two men have
sprung to their feet.)
CHRIS: (Whimpering like a child) Anna! Anna! It's
a lie! It's a lie! (He stands wringing his hands together and
begins to weep.)
BURKE: (His whole great body tense like a spring--dully
and gropingly) So that's what's in it!
ANNA: (Raising her head at the sound of his voice--with
extreme mocking bitterness) I s'pose you remember your promise,
Mat? No other reason
was to count with you so long as I wasn't married already. So I s'pose
you want me to get dressed and go ashore, don't you? (She laughs.)
Yes, you do!
BURKE: (On the verge of his outbreak--stammeringly)
God stiffen you!
ANNA: (Trying to keep up her hard, bitter tone, but gradually
letting a note of pitiful pleading creep in) I s'pose if I tried
to tell you I wasn't--that--no more you'd believe me, wouldn't
you? Yes, you would! And if I told you that yust getting out in this
barge and being on the sea had changed me and made me feel different
about things, 's if all I'd been through wasn't me and didn't count
and was yust like it never happened--you'd laugh, wouldn't you?
And you'd die laughing sure if I said that meeting you that funny
way that night in the fog and afterwards seeing that you was straight
on me, had got me to thinking for the first time, and I sized you
up as a different kind of man--a sea man as different from the
ones on land as water is from mud--and that was why I got stuck
on you, too. I wanted
to marry you and fool you, but I couldn't. Don't you see how I've
changed? I couldn't marry you with you believing a lie--and I was
shamed to tell you the truth--till the both of you forced my hand,
and I seen you was the same as all the rest. And now, give me a bawling
out and beat it, like I can tell you're going to.
(She stops, looking at BURKE. He is silent, his
face averted, his features beginning to work with fury. She pleads
ANNA: Will you believe it if I tell you that loving you has
made me--clean? It's the straight goods, honest! (Then as he
doesn't reply--bitterly) Like hell you will! You're like all
BURKE: (Blazing out--turning on her in a perfect frenzy
of rage--his voice trembling with passion) The rest, is it?
God's curse on you! Clane, is it?
You slut, you, I'll be killing you now!
(He picks up the chair on which he has been sitting and, swinging
it high over his shoulder, springs toward her. CHRIS
rushes forward with a cry of alarm, trying to ward off the blow from
his daughter. ANNA looks up into BURKE's
eyes with the fearlessness of despair. BURKE checks
himself, the chair held in the air.)
CHRIS: (Wildly) Stop, you crazy fool! You vant for
ANNA: (Pushing her father away brusquely, her eyes still
Keep out of this, you! (To BURKE--dully) Well,
ain't you got the nerve to do it? Go ahead! I'll be thankful to you,
honest. I'm sick of the whole game.
BURKE: (Throwing the chair away into a corner of the
room--helplessly) I can't do it, God help me, and your two eyes
looking at me. (Furiously) Though I do be thinking I'd have
a good right to smash your skull like a rotten egg. Was there iver
a woman in the world had the rottenness in her that you have, and
was there iver a man the like of me was made the fool of the world,
and me thinking thoughts about you, and having great love for you,
and dreaming dreams of the fine life we'd have when we'd be wedded!
(His voice high pitched in a lamentation that is like a keen)
Yerra, God help me! I'm destroyed entirely and my heart is broken
in bits! I'm asking God Himself, was it for this He'd have me roaming
the earth since I was a lad only, to come to black shame in the end,
where I'd be giving a power of love to a woman is the same as others
you'd meet in any hooker-shanty in port, with red gowns on them and
paint on their grinning mugs, would be sleeping with any man for a
dollar or two!
ANNA: (In a scream) Don't, Mat! For Gawd's sake! (Then
raging and pounding on the table with her hands) Get out of here!
Leave me alone! Get out of here!
BURKE: (His anger rushing back on him) I'll be going,
surely! And I'll be drinking sloos of whisky will wash that black
kiss of yours off my lips; and I'll be getting dead rotten drunk so
I'll not remember if 'twas iver born you was at all; and I'll be shipping
away on some boat will take me to the other end of the world where
I'll never see your face again! (He turns toward the door.)
CHRIS: (Who has been standing in a stupor--suddenly
grasping BURKE by the arm--stupidly) No, you don't
go. Ay tank maybe it's better Anna marry you now.
BURKE: (Shaking CHRIS off--furiously)
Lave go of me, ye old ape! Marry her, is it? I'd see her roasting
in hell first! I'm shipping away out of this, I'm telling you! (Pointing
to ANNA--passionately) And my curse on you and
the curse of Almighty God and all the Saints! You've destroyed me
and may you lie awake in the long nights, tormented with thoughts
of Mat Burke and the great wrong you've done him!
ANNA: (In anguish) Mat!
(But he turns without another word and strides out of the doorway.
ANNA looks after him wildly, starts to run after him,
then hides her face in her outstretched arms, sobbing. CHRIS
stands in a stupor, staring at the floor.)
CHRIS: (After a pause, dully) Ay tank Ay go ashore,
ANNA: (Looking up, wildly) Not after him! Let him
go! Don't you dare--
CHRIS: (Somberly) Ay go for gat drink.
ANNA: (With a harsh laugh) So I'm driving you to drink,
too, eh? I s'pose you want to get drunk so's you can forget like him?
CHRIS: (Bursting out angrily) Yes, Ay vant! You tank
Ay like hear dem tangs. (Breaking down--weeping) Ay tank
you vasn't dat kind of gel, Anna.
ANNA: (Mockingly) And I s'pose you want me to beat
it, don't you?
You don't want me here disgracing you, I s'pose?
CHRIS: No, you stay here! (Goes over and pats her on
the shoulder, the tears running down his face) Ain't your fault,
Anna, Ay know dat. (She looks up
at him, softened. He bursts into rage.) It's dat ole davil, sea,
do this to me!
(He shakes his fist at the door.) It's her dirty tricks! It
vas all right on barge
with yust you and me. Den she bring dat Irish fallar in fog, she make
you like him, she make you fight with me all time! If dat Irish fallar
never come, you don't never tal me dem tangs, Ay don't never know,
and everytang's all right. (He shakes his fist again.) Dirty
ANNA: (With spent weariness) Oh, what's the use? Go
on ashore and get drunk.
CHRIS: (Goes into room on left and gets his cap. He goes
to the door, silent and stupid--then turns.) You vait here,
ANNA: (Dully) Maybe and maybe not. Maybe I'll get
drunk, too. Maybe I'll-- But what the hell do you care what I do?
Go on and beat it.
(CHRIS turns stupidly and goes out. ANNA
sits at the table, staring straight in front of her.)
(The curtain falls.)
END OF ACT THREE
(Same as ACT THREE, about nine o'clock of a foggy night two days
later. The whistles of steamers in the harbor can be heard. The cabin
is lighted by a small ramp on the table. A suit case stands in the
middle of the floor. ANNA is sitting in the rocking-chair.
She wears a hat, is all dressed up as in ACT ONE. Her face is pale,
looks terribly tired and worn, as if the two days just past had been
ones of suffering and sleepless nights. She stares before her despondently,
her chin in her hands. There is a timid knock on the door in rear.
ANNA jumps to her feet with a startled exclamation and
looks toward the door with an expression of mingled hope and fear.)
ANNA: (Faintly) Come in. (Then summoning her courage--more
resolutely) Come in.
(The door is opened and CHRIS appears in the doorway.
He is in a very bleary, bedraggled condition, suffering from the after-effects
of his drunk. A tin pail full
of foaming beer is in his hand. He comes forward, his eyes avoiding
He mutters stupidly.)
CHRIS: It's foggy.
ANNA: (Looking him over with contempt) So you come
back at last, did you? You're a fine looking sight! (Then jeeringly)
I thought you'd beaten it for good on account of the disgrace I'd
brought on you.
CHRIS: (Wincing--faintly) Don't say dat, Anna,
please! (He sits in a chair by
the table, setting down the can of beer, holding his head in his hands.)
ANNA: (Looks at him with a certain sympathy) What's
the trouble? Feeling sick?
CHRIS: (Dully) Inside my head feel sick.
ANNA: Well, what d'you expect after being soused for two
days? (Resentfully) It serves you right. A fine thing--you
leaving me alone
on this barge all that time!
CHRIS: (Humbly) Ay'm sorry, Anna.
ANNA: (Scornfully) Sorry!
CHRIS: But Ay'm not sick inside head vay you mean. Ay'm sick
from tank too much about you, about me.
ANNA: And how about me? D'you suppose I ain't been thinking,
CHRIS: Ay'm sorry, Anna. (He sees her bag and gives a
start.) You pack your bag, Anna? You vas going--?
ANNA: (Forcibly) Yes, I was going right back to what
ANNA: I went ashore to get a train for New York. I'd been
waiting and waiting 'till I was sick of it. Then I changed my mind
and decided not to go today. But I'm going first thing tomorrow, so
it'll all be the same in the end.
CHRIS: (Raising his head--pleadingly) No, you never
do dat, Anna!
ANNA: (With a sneer) Why not, I'd like to know?
CHRIS: You don't never gat to do--dat vay--no more,
Ay tal you. Ay fix dat up all right.
ANNA: (Suspiciously) Fix what up?
CHRIS: (Not seeming to have heard her question--sadly)
You vas vaiting,
you say? You vasn't vaiting for me, Ay bet.
ANNA: (Callously) You'd win.
CHRIS: For dat Irish fallar?
ANNA: (Defiantly) Yes--if you want to know! (Then
with a forlorn laugh)
If he did come back it'd only be 'cause he wanted to beat me
up or kill me,
I suppose. But even if he did, I'd rather have him come than not show
up at all. I wouldn't care what he did.
CHRIS: Ay guess it's true you vas in love with him all right.
ANNA: You guess!
CHRIS: (Turning to her earnestly) And Ay'm sorry for
you like hell he don't come, Anna!
ANNA: (Softened) Seems to me you've changed your tune
CHRIS: Ay've been tanking, and Ay guess it vas all my fault--all
bad tangs dat happen to you. (Pleadingly) You try for not hate
me, Anna. Ay'm crazy ole fool, dat's all.
ANNA: Who said I hated you?
CHRIS: Ay'm sorry for everytang Ay do wrong for you, Anna.
Ay vant for you be happy all rest of your life for make up! It make
you happy marry
dat Irish fallar, Ay vant it, too.
ANNA: (Dully) Well, there ain't no chance. But I'm
glad you think different about it, anyway.
CHRIS: (Supplicatingly) And you tank--maybe--you
forgive me sometime?
ANNA: (With a wan sinile) I'll forgive you right now.
CHRIS: (Seizing her hand and kissing it--brokenly)
Anna lilla! Anna lilla!
ANNA: (Touched but a bit embarrassed) Don't bawl about
it. There ain't nothing to forgive, anyway. It ain't your fault, and
it ain't mine, and it ain't his neither. We're all poor nuts, and
things happen, and we yust get mixed in wrong, that's all.
CHRIS: (Eagerly) You say right tang, Anna, py golly!
It ain't nobody's fault! (Shaking his fist) It's dat ole davil,
ANNA: (With an exasperated laugh) Gee, won't you ever
can that stuff?
(CHRIS relapses into injured silence. After a pause
ANNA continues curiously.)
ANNA: You said a minute ago you'd fixed something up about
What was it?
CHRIS: (After a hesitating pause) Ay'm shipping avay
on sea again, Anna.
ANNA: (Astounded) You're what?
CHRIS: Ay sign on steamer sail tomorrow. Ay gat my ole yob--bo'sun.
(ANNA stares at him. As he goes on, a bitter smile
comes over her face.)
CHRIS: Ay tank dat's best tang for you. Ay only bring you
bad luck, Ay tank. Ay make your mo'der's life sorry. Ay don't vant
make yours dat way, but Ay do yust same. Dat ole davil, sea, she make
me Yonah man ain't no good for nobody. And Ay tank now it ain't no
use fight with sea. No man dat live going to beat her, py yingo!
ANNA: (With a laugh of helpless bitterness) So that's
how you've fixed me, is it?
CHRIS: Yes, Ay tank if dat ole davil gat me back she leave
you alone den.
ANNA: (Bitterly) But, for Gawd's sake, don't you see
you're doing the same thing you've always done? Don't you see--?
(But she sees the look of obsessed stubbornness on her father's
face and gives it up helplessly.)
ANNA: But what's the use of talking? You ain't right, that's
what. I'll never blame you for nothing no more. But how you could
figure out that was fixing me--!
CHRIS: Dat ain't all. Ay gat dem fallars in steamship office
to pay you all money coming to me every month vhile Ay'm avay.
ANNA: (With a hard laugh) Thanks. But I guess I won't
be hard up for no small change.
CHRIS: (Hurt--humbly) It ain't much, Ay know, but
it's plenty for keep you so you never gat go back--
ANNA: (Shortly) Shut up, will you? We'll talk about
it later, see?
CHRIS: (After a pause--ingratiatingly) You like
Ay go ashore look for dat Irish fallar, Anna?
ANNA: (Angrily) Not much! Think I want to drag him
CHRIS: (After a pause--uncomfortably) Py golly,
dat booze don't go vell.
Give me fever, Ay tank. Ay feel hot like hell. (He takes off his
coat and lets
it drop on the floor. There is a loud thud.)
ANNA: (With a start) What you got in your pocket,
for Pete's sake--a ton of lead? (She reaches down, takes the
coat and pulls out a revolver--looks from it to him in amazement.)
A gun? What were you doing with this?
CHRIS: (Sheepishly) Ay forget. Ain't nothing. Ain't
ANNA: (Breaking it open to make sure--then closing
it again--looking at him suspiciously) That ain't telling me
why you got it?
CHRIS: Ay'm ole fool. Ay got it when Ay go ashore first.
Ay tank den it's all fault of dat Irish fallar.
ANNA: (With a shudder) Say, you're crazier than I
thought. I never dreamt you'd go that far.
CHRIS: (Quickly) Ay don't. Ay gat better sense right
avay. Ay don't never buy bullets even. It ain't his fault, Ay know.
ANNA: (Still suspicious of him) Well, I'll take care
of this for a while, loaded or not. (She puts it in the drawer
of table and closes the drawer.)
CHRIS: (Placatingly) Throw it overboard if you vant.
Ay don't care.
(Then after a pause) Py golly, Ay tank Ay go lie down. Ay feel
(ANNA takes a magazine from the table. CHRIS
hesitates by her chair.)
CHRIS: Ve talk again before Ay go, yes?
ANNA: (Dully) Where's this ship going to?
CHRIS: Cape Town. Dat's in South Africa. She's British steamer
called Londonderry. (He stands hesitatingly--finally blurts
forgive me sure?
ANNA: (Wearily) Sure I do. You ain't to blame. You're
yust--what you are--like me.
CHRIS: (Pleadingly) Den--you lat me kiss you again
ANNA: (Raising her face--forcing a wan smile) Sure.
No hard feelings.
CHRIS: (Kisses her brokenly) Anna lilla! Ay (He
fights for words to express himself, but finds none--miserably--with
a sob.) Ay can't say it. Good-night, Anna.
(He picks up the can of beer and goes slowly into the room on
left, his shoulders bowed, his head sunk forward dejectedly. He closes
the door after him. ANNA turns over the pages of the
magazine, trying desperately to banish her thoughts by looking at
the pictures. This fails to distract her, and flinging the magazine
back on the table, she springs to her feet and walks about the cabin
distractedly, clenching and unclenching her hands. She speaks aloud
to herself in a tense, trembling voice.)
ANNA: Gawd, I can't stand this much longer! What am I waiting
for anyway?--like a damn fool! (She laughs helplessly, then
checks herself abruptly as she hears the sound of heavy footsteps
on the deck outside. She appears to recognize these and her face lights
up with joy. She gasps.) Mat!
(A strange terror seems suddenly to seize her. She rushes to the
table, takes the revolver out of drawer and crouches down in the corner,
left, behind the cupboard.
A moment later the door is flung open and BURKE appears
in the doorway. He is
in bad shape--his clothes torn and dirty, covered with sawdust
as if he had been grovelling or sleeping on barroom floors. There
is a red bruise on his forehead over one of his eyes, another over
one cheekbone, his knuckles are skinned and raw--
plain evidence of the fighting he has been through on his "bat."
His eyes are bloodshot and heavy-lidded, his face has a bloated look.
But beyond these appearances--the results of heavy drinking--there
is an expression in his eyes of wild mental turmoil, of impotent animal
rage baffled by its own abject misery.)
BURKE: (Peers blinkingly about the cabin--hoarsely)
Let you not be hiding from me, whoever's here--though 'tis well
you know. I'd have a right to come back and murder you. (He stops
to listen. Hearing no sound, he closes the door behind him and comes
forward to the table. He throws himself into the rocking-
chair--despondently.) There's no one here, I'm thinking, and
'tis a great fool I am to be coming. (With a sort of dumb, uncomprehending
anguish) Yerra, Mat Burke, 'tis a great jackass you've become and
what's got into you at all, at all? She's gone out of this long ago,
I'm telling you, and you'll never see her face again.
(ANNA stands up, hesitating, struggling between
joy and fear. BURKE's eyes fall
on ANNA's bag. He leans over to examine it.)
BURKE: What's this? (Joyfully) It's hers. She's not
gone! But where is she? Ashore? (Darkly) What would she be
doing ashore on this rotten night?
(His face suddenly convulsed with grief and rage) 'Tis that,
is it? Oh, God's curse on her! (Raging) I'll wait 'ti she comes and choke her
dirty life out.
(ANNA starts, her face grows hard. She steps into
the room, the revolver in her
right hand by her side.)
ANNA: (In a cold, hard tone) What are you doing here?
BURKE: (Wheeling about with a terrified gasp) Glory
be to God!
(They remain motionless and silent for a moment, holding each
ANNA: (In the same hard voice) Well, can't you talk?
BURKE: (Trying to fall into an easy, careless tone)
You've a year's growth scared out of me, coming at me so sudden and
me thinking I was alone.
ANNA: You've got your nerve butting in here without knocking
or nothing. What d'you want?
BURKE: (Airily) Oh, nothing much. I was wanting to
have a last word with you, that's all. (He moves a step toward
ANNA: (Sharply--raising the revolver in her hand)
Careful now! Don't try getting too close. I heard what you said you'd
do to me.
BURKE: (Noticing the revolver for the first time)
Is it murdering me you'd be now, God forgive you? (Then with a
contemptuous laugh) Or is it thinking
I'd be frightened by that old tin whistle? (He walks straight
ANNA: (Wildly) Look out, I tell you!
BURKE: (Who has come so close that the revolver is almost
touching his chest)
Let you shoot, then! (Then with sudden wild grief) Let you
shoot I'm saying, and be done with it! Let you end me with a shot
and I'll be thanking you, for it's a rotten dog's life I've lived
the past two days since I've known what you are, 'til I'm after wishing
I was never born at all!
ANNA: (Overcome--letting the revolver drop to the
floor, as if her fingers had no strength to hold it--hysterically)
What d'you want coming here? Why don't you beat it? Go on! (She
passes him and sinks down in the rocking-chair.)
BURKE: (Following her--mournfully) 'Tis right you'd
be asking why did I come. (Then angrily) 'Tis because 'tis
a great weak fool of the world I am, and me tormented with the wickedness
you'd told of yourself, and drinking oceans of booze that'd make me
forget. Forget? Divil a word I'd forget, and your face grinning always
in front of my eyes, awake or asleep 'til I do be thinking a madhouse
is the proper place for me.
ANNA: (Glancing at his hands and face--scornfully)
You look like you ought to be put away some place. Wonder you wasn't
pulled in. You been scrapping, too, ain't you?
BURKE: I have--with every scut would take off his coat
to me! (Fiercely)
And each time I'd be hitting one a clout in the mug, it wasn't his
face I'd be seeing at all, but yours, and me wanting to drive you
a blow would knock you out of this world where I wouldn't be seeing
or thinking more of you.
ANNA: (Her lips trembling pitifully) Thanks!
BURKE: (Walking up and down--distractedly) That's
right, make game of me! Oh, I'm a great coward surely, to be coming
back to speak with you at all. You've a right to laugh at me.
ANNA: I ain't laughing at you, Mat.
BURKE: (Unheeding) You to be what you are, and me
to be Mat Burke, and me to be drove back te look at you again! 'Tis
black shame is on me!
ANNA: (Resentfully) Then get out. No one's holding
BURKE: (Bewilderedly) And me to listen to that talk
from a woman like you and be frightened to close her mouth with a
slap! Oh, God help me, I'm a yellow coward for all men to spit at!
(Then furiously) But I'll not be getting out of this 'till
I've had me word. (Raising his fist threateningly) And let
you look out how you'd drive me! (Letting his fist fall helplessly)
Don't be angry now! I'm raving like a real lunatic, I'm thinking,
and the sorrow you put
on me has my brains drownded in grief. (Suddenly bending down
to her and grasping her arm intensely) Tell me it's a lie, I'm
saying! That's what I'm after coming to hear you say.
ANNA: (Dully) A lie? What?
BURKE: (With passionate entreaty) All the badness
you told me two days back. Sure it must be a lie! You was only making
game of me, wasn't' you? Tell me 'twas a lie, Anna, and I'll be saying
prayers of thanks on my two knees to the Almighty God!
ANNA: (Terribly shaken--faintly) I can't, Mat.
(As he turns away--imploringly) Oh, Mat, won't you see that
no matter what I was I ain't that any more? Why, listen! I packed
up my bag this afternoon and went ashore. I'd been waiting here all
alone for two days, thinking maybe you'd come back--
thinking maybe you'd think over all I'd said--and maybe--oh,
I don't know what I was hoping! But I was afraid to even go out of
the cabin for a second, honest--afraid you might come and not find
me here. Then I gave up hope when you didn't show up and I went to
the railroad station. I was going to New York. I was going back--
BURKE: (Hoarsely) God's curse on you!
ANNA: Listen, Mat! You hadn't come, and I'd gave up hope.
But--in the station--I couldn't go. I'd bought my ticket and
everything. (She takes the ticket from her dress and tries to
hold it before his eyes.) But I got to thinking about you--
and I couldn't take the train--I couldn't! So I come back here--to
wait some more. Oh, Mat, don't you see I've changed? Can't
you forgive what's dead and gone--and forget it?
BURKE: (Turning on her--overcome by rage again)
Forget, is it? I'll not forget
'til my dying day, I'm telling you, and me tormented with thoughts.
(In a frenzy) Oh, I'm wishing I had wan of them fornenst me
this minute and I'd beat him with my fists 'til he'd be a bloody corpse!
I'm wishing the whole lot of them will roast in hell 'til the Judgment
Day-- and yourself along with them, for you're as bad as they are.
ANNA: (Shuddering) Mat! (Then after a pause--in
a voice of dead, stony calm) Well, you've had your say. Now you
better beat it.
BURKE: (Starts slowly for the door--hesitates--then
after a pause) And what'll you be doing?
ANNA: What difference does it make to you?
BURKE: I'm asking you!
ANNA: (In the same tone) My bag's packed and I got
my ticket. I'll go to New York tomorrow.
BURKE: (Helplessly) You mean--you'll be doing the
ANNA: (Stonily) Yes.
BURKE: (In anguish) You'll not! Don't torment me with
that talk! 'Tis a she-divil you are sent to drive me mad entirely!
ANNA: (Her voice breaking) Oh, for Gawd's sake, Mat,
leave me alone! Go away! Don't you see I'm licked? Why d'you want
to keep on kicking me?
BURKE: (Indignantly) And don't you deserve the worst
I'd say, God forgive you?
ANNA: All right. Maybe I do. But don't rub it in. Why ain't
you done what you said you was going to? Why ain't you got that ship
was going to take you to the other side of the earth where you'd never
see me again?
BURKE: I have.
ANNA: (Startled) What--then you're going--honest?
BURKE: I signed on today at noon, drunk as I was--and--she's
ANNA: And where's she going to?
BURKE: Cape Town.
ANNA: (The memory of having heard that name a little
while before coming to her--with a start, confusedly) Cape Town?
Where's that? Far away?
BURKE: 'Tis at the end of Africa. That's far for you.
ANNA: (Forcing a laugh) You're keeping your word all
right, ain't you?
(After a slight pause--curiously) What's the boat's name?
BURKE: The Londonderry.
ANNA: (It suddenly comes to her that this is the same
ship her father is sailing on.) The Londonderry! It's the same--
Oh, this is too much! (With wild, ironical laughter) Ha-ha-ha!
BURKE: What's up with you now?
ANNA: Ha-ha-ha! It's funny, funny! I'll die laughing!
BURKE: (Irritated) Laughing at what?
ANNA: It's a secret. You'll know soon enough. It's funny.
(Controlling herself--after a pause--cynically) What
kind of a place is this Cape Town? Plenty of dames there, I suppose?
BURKE: To hell with them! That I may never see another woman
to my dying hour!
ANNA: That's what you say now, but I'll bet by the time you
get there you'll have forgot all about me and start in talking the
same old bull you talked to me to the first one you meet.
BURKE: (Offended) I'll not, then! God mend you, is
it making me out to be
the like of yourself you are, and you taking up with this one and
that all the years of your life?
ANNA: (Angrily assertive) Yes, that's yust what I
do mean! You been doing the same thing all your life, picking up a
new girl in every port. How're you any better than I was?
BURKE: (Thoroughly exasperated) Is it no shame you
have at all? I'm a fool
to be wasting talk on you and you hardened in badness. I'll go out
of this and lave you alone forever. (He starts for the door--then
stops to turn on her furiously.) And I suppose 'tis the same lies
you told them all before that you told to me?
ANNA: (Indignantly) That's a lie! I never did!
BURKE: (Miserably) You'd be saying that, anyway.
ANNA: (Forcibly, with growing intensity) Are you trying
to accuse me--of being in love--really in love--with them?
BURKE: I'm thinking you were, surely.
ANNA: (Furiously, as if this were the last insult--advancing
on him threateningly) You mutt, you! I've stood enough from you.
Don't you dare. (With scornful bitterness) Love 'em! Oh, my
Gawd! You damn thick-head! Love 'em? (Savagely) I hated 'em,
I tell you! Hated 'em, hated 'em, hated 'em!
And may Gawd strike me dead this minute and my mother, too, if she
was alive, if I ain't telling you the honest truth!
BURKE: (Immensely pleased by her vehemence--a light
beginning to break over his face--but still uncertain, torn between
doubt and the desire to believe--helplessly) If I could only
be believing you now!
ANNA: (Distractedly) Oh, what's the use? What's the
use of me talking? what's the use of anything? (Pleadingly)
Oh, Mat, you mustn't think that
for a second! You mustn't think all the other bad about me you want
and I won't kick, 'cause you've a right to. But don't think that!
(On the point of tears) I couldn't bear it! It'd be yust too
much to know you was going away where I'd never see you again--thinking
that about me!
BURKE: (After an inward struggle--tensely--forcing
out the words with difficulty) If I was believing--that you'd
never had love for any other man in the world but me--I could be
forgetting the rest, maybe.
ANNA: (With a cry of joy) Mat!
BURKE: (Slyly) If 'tis truth you're after telling,
I'd have a right, maybe,
to believe you'd changed--and that I'd changed you myself 'til
the thing you'd been all your life wouldn't be you any more at all.
ANNA: (Hanging on his words--breathlessly) Oh,
Mat! That's what I been trying to tell you all along!
BURKE: (Simply) For I've a power of strength in me,
to lead men the way I want, and women, too, maybe, and I'm thinking
I'd change you to a new woman entirely, so I'd never know, or you
either, what kind of woman you'd been in the past at all.
ANNA: Yes, you could, Mat! I know you could!
BURKE: And I'm thinking 'twasn't your fault maybe, but having
that old ape for a father that left you to grow up alone, made you
what you was. And if I could be believing 'tis only me you--
ANNA: (Distractedly) You got to believe it, Mat! What
can I do? I'll do anything, anything you want to prove I'm not lying!
BURKE: (Suddenly seems to have a solution. He feels in
the pocket of his coat and grasps something--solemnly) Would
you be willing to swear an oath, now--
a terrible, fearful oath would send your soul to the divils in hell
if you was lying?
ANNA: (Eagerly) Sure, I'll swear, Mat--on anything!
BURKE: (Takes a small, cheap old crucifix from his pocket
and holds it up for her to see) Will you swear on this?
ANNA: (Reaching out for it) Yes. Sure I will. Give
it to me.
BURKE: (Holding it away) 'Tis a cross was given me
by my mother, God rest her soul. (He makes the sign of the cross
mechanically.) I was a lad only, and she told me to keep it by
me if I'd be waking or sleeping and never lose it and it'd bring me
luck. She died soon after. But I'm after keeping it with me from that
day to this, and I'm telling you there's great power in it and 'tis
great bad luck it's saved me from and me roaming the seas, and I having
it tied round my neck when my last ship sunk, and it bringing me safe
to land when the others went to their death. (Very earnestly)
And I'm warning you now, if you'd swear an oath on this, 'tis my old
woman herself will be looking down from Hivin above, and praying Almighty
God and the Saints to put a great curse on you if she'd hear you swearing
ANNA: (Awed by his manner--superstitiously) I wouldn't
have the nerve--honest--if it was a lie. But it's the truth
and I ain't scared to swear. Give it to me.
BURKE: (Handing it to her--almost frightenedly, as
if he feared for her safety)
Be careful what you'd swear, I'm saying.
ANNA: (Holding the cross gingerly) Well--what do
you want me to swear? You say it.
BURKE: Swear I'm the only man in the world ivir you felt
ANNA: (Looking into his eyes steadily) I swear it.
BURKE: And that you'll be forgetting from this day all the
badness you've done and never do the like of it again.
ANNA: (Forcibly) I swear it! I swear it by God!
BURKE: And may the blackest curse of God strike you if you're
Say it now!
ANNA: And may the blackest curse of God strike me if I'm
BURKE: (With a stupendous sigh) Oh, glory be to God,
I'm after believing you now! (He takes the cross from her hand,
his face beaming with joy, and puts it back in his pocket. He puts
his arm about her waist and is about to kiss her when he stops, appalled
by some terrible doubt.)
ANNA: (Alarmed) What's the matter with you?
BURKE: (With sudden fierce questioning) Is it Catholic
ANNA: (Confused) No. Why?
BURKE: (Filled with a sort of bewildered foreboding)
Oh, God, help me!
(With a dark glance of suspicion at her) There's some divil's
trickery in it,
to be swearing an oath on a Catholic cross and you wan of the others.
ANNA: (Distractedly) Oh, Mat, don't you believe me?
BURKE: (Miserably) If it isn't a Catholic you are--
ANNA: I ain't nothing. What's the difference? Didn't you
hear me swear?
BURKE: (Passionately) Oh, I'd a right to stay away
from you--but I couldn't!
I was loving you in spite of it all and wanting to be with you, God
forgive me, no matter what you are. I'd go mad if I'd not have you!
I'd be killing the world-- (He seizes her in his arms and kisses
ANNA: (With a gasp of joy) Mat!
BURKE: (Suddenly holding her away from him and staring
into her eyes as if to probe into her soul--slowly) If your
oath is no proper oath at all, I'll have to
be taking your naked word for it and have you anyway, I'm thinking--
I'm needing you that bad!
ANNA: (Hurt--reproachfully) Mat! I swore, didn't
BURKE: (Defiantly, as if challenging fate) Oath or
no oath, 'tis no matter.
We'll be wedded in the morning, with the help of God. (Still more
defiantly) We'll be happy now, the two of us, in spite of the divil!
(He crushes her to him and kisses her again. The door on the left
is pushed open
and CHRIS appears in the doorway. He stands blinking
at them. At first the old expression of hatred of BURKE
comes into his eyes instinctively. Then a look of resignation and
relief takes its place. His face lights up with a sudden happy thought.
He turns back into the bedroom--reappears immediately with the
can of beer in his hand--grinning)
CHRIS: Ve have drink on this, py golly!
(They break away from each other with startled exclamations.)
BURKE: (Explosively) God stiffen it! (He takes
a step toward CHRIS threateningly.)
ANNA: (Happily--to her father) That's the way to
talk! (With a laugh) And say, It's about time for you and Mat
to kiss and make up. You're going to be shipmates on the Londonderry,
did you know it?
BURKE: (Astounded) Shipmates--Has himself--
CHRIS: (Equally astounded) Ay vas bo'sun on her.
BURKE: The divil! (Then angrily) You'd be going back
to sea and leaving her alone, would you?
ANNA: (Quickly) It's all right, that's where he belongs,
and I want him to go. You got to go, too; we'll need the money. (With
a laugh, as she gets the glasses) And as for me being alone, that
runs in the family, and I'll get used to it. (Pouring out their
glasses) I'll get a little house somewhere and I'll make a regular
place for you two to come back to--wait and see. And now you drink
up and be friends.
BURKE: (Happily--but still a bit resentful against
the old man) Sure! (Clinking his glass against CHRIS's)
Here's luck to you! (He drinks.)
CHRIS: (Subdued--his face melancholy) Skoal. (He
BURKE: (To ANNA, with a wink) You'll
not be lonesome long. I'll see to that, with the help of God. 'Tis
himself here will be having a grandchild to ride on his foot, I'm
ANNA: (Turning away in embarrassment) Quit the kidding
(She picks up her bag and goes into the room on left. As soon
as she is gone,
BURKE relapses into an attitude of gloomy thought. CHRIS
stares at his beer absent-mindedly. Finally BURKE turns
BURKE: Is it any religion at all you have, you and your Anna?
CHRIS: (Surprised) Vhy yes. Ve vas Lutheran in ole
BURKE: (Horrified) Luthers, is it? (Then with
a grim resignation, slowly, aloud to himself) Well, I'm damned
then surely. Yerra, what's the difference? 'Tis the will of God, anyway.
(Moodily preoccupied with his own thoughts--speaks with somber
premonition as ANNA reenters from the left)
CHRIS: It's funny. It's queer, yes--you and me shipping
on same boat dat ray. It ain't right. Ay don't know--it's dat funny
vay ole davil sea do her vorst dirty tricks, yes. It's so. (He
gets up and goes back and, opening the door, stares out into the darkness.)
BURKE: (Nodding his head in gloomy acquiescence--with
a great sigh) I'm fearing maybe you have the right of it for once,
divil take you.
ANNA: (Forcing a laugh) Gee, Mat, you ain't agreeing
with him, are you?
(She comes forward and puts her arm about his shoulder--with
a determined gayety.) Aw say, what's the matter? Cut out the gloom.
We're all fixed
now, ain't we, me and you? (Pours out more beer into his glass
and fills one
for herself--slaps him on the back) Come on! Here's to the sea,
no matter what! Be a game sport and drink to that! Come on!
(She gulps down her glass. BURKE banishes his superstitious
premonitions with a defiant jerk of his head, grins up at her, and
drinks to her toast)
CHRIS: (Looking out into the night--lost in his somber
preoccupation--shakes his head and mutters) Fog, fog, fog, all
bloody time. You can't see vhere you vas going, no. Only dat ole davil,
(The two stare at him. From the harbor comes the muffled, mournful
wail of steamers' whistles)
(The curtain falls.)
END OF PLAY