xt786688h53r https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt786688h53r/data/mets.xml Holley, Horace, 1887-1960. 1916  books b92-225-31182918 English M. Kennerley, : New York : This digital resource may be freely searched and displayed.  Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically.  Physical rights are retained by the owning repository.  Copyright is retained in accordance with U. S. copyright laws.  For information about permissions to reproduce or publish, contact the Special Collections Research Center. Read-aloud plays  / by Horace Holley. text Read-aloud plays  / by Horace Holley. 1916 2002 true xt786688h53r section xt786688h53r 
READ- ALOUD PLAYS

 
















BY HORACE HOLLEY

DIVINATIONS AND CREATION
READ-ALOUD PLAYS
THE DYN'AMICS OF ART
PAHAIisil
THE SO(;IAL PRINCIPLE
THE INNER GARDEN
THE STRICKEN KING

 

READ-ALOUD PLAYS



       BY
  HORACE HOLLEY















    NEW YORK
MITCHELL KENNERLEY
       1916

 



COPYRIGHT i 9 I 6 BY
MITCHELL KENNERLEY











DRAMATIC AND LECTURE
RIGHTS RESERVED BY
   HORACE HOLLEY



PRINTED IN AMERICA

 















                 CONTENTS

                                             PAGE
INTRODUCTION                                    V

HER HAPPINESS                                   1

A MODERN PRODIGAL                               7

THE INCOMPATIBLES                            29

TiiE GENIUS                                  39

SURVIVAL                                     5 5

TIHE TELEGRAM                                71

RAIN                                         79

PICTURES                                    103

His LuCK                                    121

 This page in the original text is blank.

 








INTRODUCTION



THE first two or three of these "plays" (I retain
T     the word for lack of a better one) began them-
selves as short stories, but in each case I found that the
dramatic element, speech, tended to absorb the imper-
sonal element of comment and description, so that it
proved easier to go on by allowing the characters to
establish the situation themselves. As I grew conscious
of this tendency, I realized that even for the purpose
of reading it might be advantageous to render the
short story subject dramatically, since this method is,
after all, one of extreme realism, which should also
result in an increase of interest. As the series devel-
oped, however, I perceived that something more than
a new short story form was involved; I perceived that
the "read-aloud" play has a distinct character and
function of its own. In the long run, everything human
rises or falls to the level of speech. The culminating
point, even of action the most poignant or emotion the
most intimate, is where it finds the right word or phrase
by which it is translated into the lives of others. Every
literary form has always paid, even though usually un-
conscious, homage to the drama. But the drama as
achieved on the stage includes, for various reasons, only
a small portion of its own inherent possibility. Exigen-
cies of time and machinery, as well as the strong influ-
ence of custom, deny to the stage the value of themes
                          v

 


INTRODUCTION



such as the Divine Comedy, on the one hand, and of
situations which might be rendered by five or ten min-
utes' dialogue on the other, each of which extremes may
be quite as "dramatic" as the piece ordinarily exploited
on the stage. By trying these "read-aloud" plays on
different groups, of from two to six persons, I have
proved that the homage all literature pays the drama
is misplaced if we identify the drama with the stage.
A sympathetic voice is all that is required to "get over"
any effect possible to speech; and what efect is not
Moreover, by deliberately setting out for a drama in-
dependent of the stage, a drama involving only the
intimate circle of studio or library, I feel that an entire
new range of experiences is opened up to literature it-
self. Nothing is more thrilling than direct, self-reveal-
ing speech; and, once the proper tone has been set,
even abstract subjects, as we all know, have the power
to absorb. Thus I entertain the hope that others will
take up the method of this book, the method of natural,
intimate, heart-to-heart dialogue carried on in a suit-
able setting, and with attendant action as briefly indi-
cated; for the discovery awaits each one that speech,
independent of the tradition of the stage, has the power
of rendering old themes new and vital, as well as sug'
gesting new themes and situations. Indeed, it is in the
confidence that others will follow with "read-aloud"
plays far more interesting and valuable than the few
offered here that I am writing this introduction, and not
merely to call attention to a novelty in my own work.
                                  HORACE HOLLEY.
  New York City.



vi

 















HER HAPPINESS

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           HER HAPPINESS


  Darkness. A door opens swiftly. Light from out-
side shows a woman entering. She is covered by a large
cape, but the gleam of hair and brow indicates beauty.
She closes the door behind her. Darkness.

THE WOMAN
  Paul! Paul! Are you here, Paul
A VOICE
  Yes, Elizabeth, I am here.
THE WOMAN
  Oh thank God! You are here! I felt so strange-
  I thought . . . Oh, I cannot tell you what I have
  been thinking! Turn on the light, Paul.
THE VOICE
  You are troubled, dear. Let the darkness stay a
  moment. It will calm you. Sit down, Elizabeth.
THE WOMAN
  Yes . . . I am so faint! I had to come, Paul! I
  bad to see you, to know that you were . . . I know
  I promised not to, but I was going mnad! Just to
  touch you, to hold you . . . but it's all right now.
THE VOICE
  It is all right now, Elizabeth.
TIE WOMAN
  I thought I could stand it, deAr, I thcught I -ould
  stand it. It wasn't myself-I swear to you it wasn't
                        3

 


HER HAPPINESS



  -nor him. I, I can stand all that, now. It was
  something else, something that came over me all at
  once. I saw-Oh Paul! the thing I saw! But it's
  all right now....
THE VOICE
  It is all right, Elizabeth, because ours is love, love
  that is made of light, and not merely blind desire.
THE WOMAN
  Ours is love. We are love!
THE VOICE
  So that even if we are separated-even if you can-
  not come to rue yet, we shall not lose conviction nor
  joy.
THE WOMAN
  Yes, Paul. I will not make it harder for you. I
  know it is hard, and that it was for my sake you
  could bring yourself to bind me not to see you again.
THE VOICE
  Love is, world without end. That is all we need to
  know.
THE WOMAN
  World without end, amen.
THE VOICE
  And because I knew the power and truth of love in
  you I put this separation upon us.
THE WOMAN
  For my sake. I know it now, Paul! And trust me!
  You can trust me, Paul! Not time, nor distance,
  nor trouble nor change shall move me from the
  heights of love where I dwell.
THE VO tC ES
  And because I knew the happiness of love could not



4

 


HER HAPPINESS



  endure in deceit, nor the wine give life if we drank it
  in a cup that was stained, I put you fromn me-in the
  world's sight we meet no more.
THE WOMAN
  In the world's sight . . . and in the sight of God
  and man shall I be faithful to him from now on, in
  thought and deed and word, as a heart may be. Yes,
  Paul . . . even that can I endure for your sake.
  For I know that hereafter-
THE VOICE
  For love there is neither here nor hereafter, but the
  realization of love is ever according to his triumph.
  This has come to me suddenly, a light in the dark-
  ness, and I have won the truth by supreme pain.
THE WOMAN
  That, too, Paul. Pain. . . . I have been weak I
  gave way to my nerves, but now in your presence I
  am strong again, and I shall not fail you.
THE VOICE
  My presence is where your love is, and as your love
  so my nearness. Love me as I love you now, and I
  shall be more real to you than your hands and your
  eyes.
THE WOMAN
  Bone of one bone, and flesh of one flesh. . . .
THE VOICE
  Spirit of one spirit! The flesh we have put away.
THE WOMAN
  That, too, Paul. Oh the glory of it ! So be my
  happiness that I shall not wish it changed, even be-
  fore the Throne!



5

 


6              HER HAPPINESS

THE VOICE
  I have given you happiness
THE WOMAN
  Perfect happiness, Paul. I am happy, happier than
  I ever was before. But before I go home from here
  for the last time, turn on the light, Paul, that we
  may be to each other always as the wonder of this
  moment. For the last time, Paul. Paul . . . Paul
  Where are you    Why don't you answer . .
  Paul! (She turns on the light. It is a studio. At
  the piano, fallen forward upon the keys, sits the
  body of a man. 'There is a revolver on the floor be-
  side him.)  Paul! . . . As I saw him! Is this my
  happiness. Oh God, must I

 















A MODERN PRODIGAL

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      A MODERN PRODIGAL


  The scene shows Uncle Richard's library, a massive
and e.cpensive interior suggest ing prosperity rather
tian meditation. It is obrionsly new, and in the whole7
room there is only one intimate and human note, a
quaint little oil painting of a boy with bright eyes-
Uncle Richard at the age of eleven.
  Richard wa1lks about, waiting for his uncle, and ex-
amines the appointments with more curiosity than rev-
erence. Stopping by the mantel for a moment he notices,
with a start of surprise, his onn photograph. le turns
away withJ a shrug just as his uncle hurniedly enters.

UNCLE RlCICIARD
  Dick! Richard! At last! How are you You re-
  ceived my letter
RICHARD
  I am very well, uncle. Yes, I received your letter.
  It was forwarded from Florence.
UNCLE RICHARD
  Good! Sit down, Richard, sit down.
RIC HARD
  I did not receive it until a few days ago, in 'New York.
  I came on as soon as possible. But I had engage-
  ments--business engagements-that delayed me.
UNCLE RICHARD
  Business I am very glad, Richard, that you have
                        9

 



A MODERN PRODIGAL



  given, up your art. Not that art isn't entirely com-
  mendable, but in times like these, you know . . .
RICHARD
  Don't misunderstand me, uncle. My business was
  connected with art. I haven't given up painting. I
  never shall.
UNCLE RICHARD
  In my letter-
RICHARD
  Yes. Cousin Anne wrote me about Aunt Ethel's
  death, but I did not realize bow changed everything
  here was until I read that letter from you. And now
  (glancing about) it is even clearer. It must have
  been a bitter shock to you, Uncle Richard. You
  had both come to the point where you could have
  done so much with life. But you are quite well, Uncle
  Richard
UNCLE RICHARD
  I am never unwell. I don't believe in it. Yes, every-
  thing was ready here. In its larger issue, my life
  has not been unsuccessful... . But your business,
  Richard, it came out well, I hope
RICHARD
  Quite. You see after graduating I borrowed a cer-
  tain sum to go abroad with a classmate. We had a
  plan for doing a book on modern Italy, he writing
  the text and I making illustrations. We had quite
  a new idea about it all. It was good fun besides.
  Well, the work has been placed, and now after re-
  paying the loan I have enough to take a studio and
  begin painting in earnest.



10

 



A MODERN PRODI)GAL



UNCLE RICHARD
  Hum.
RICHARD
  I believe I have a copy of one of the sketches with
  me. (He tears a sheet from a note book and hands
  it to Uncle Richard.)
UNCLE RICHARD (looking at it wrong side up)
  A sketch. I see. Of course it is unfinished
RICHARD
  Yes. But then, no painting should be what you call
  "finished." A work of art can only be finished by
  the mental effort of appreciation on the part of the
  spectator. Photographs and chromos are finished-
  that's why they are dead.
UNCLE RICHARD
  I was not aware of the fact. But .  . you will re-
  member, Richard, that in my letter I asked you to
  visit me
RICHARD
  Of course. And I shall be very pleased to stay for
  a few days. Very kind of you to ask me.
UNCLE RICHARD
  Not at all, Richard, not at all! I--
RICHARD
  On Monday I must return to New York and look for
  a studio. With the book coming out I feel I shall
  have no trouble selling my work.
UN.CLE RICHARD
  Studio Isn't that-hem! rather Bohemian, Rich-
  ard



11

 




A MODERN PRODIGAL



RICHARD
  Good gracious, uncle, you haven't been reading
  George Moore, have you
UNCLE RICHARD
  But Richard, did you not understand that I wanted
  you to stay here longer than that
RICHARD
  Why no. How long did you mean
UNCLE RICHARD
  Er-I hadn't thought, exactly. I mean that I wanted
  you to bring your things here-bring your things
  here and just live on with ne.
RICHARD
  I had no idea you meant that. Anyhow, as I couldn't
  paint here, it's impossible. But, of course, if you
  care to have me stay a few days longer-
UNCLE RICHARD
  But I have everything arranged for you here. Your
  room-everything.
RICHARD
  But you see, uncle, my work-
UNCLE RICHARD
  I hope you will give up your art, but if you must
  paint I will provide you a room for it. Do you know
  how many rooms there are in this house, Richard
RICHARD
  Really, Uncle Richard, I thank you, but--
UNCLE RICHARD
  Don't mention it. And of course you can see to its
  proper arrangement yourself.
RICHARD
  I had no idea of this when I came and-but you sce,



12

 



A MODERN PRODIGAL



  it's not only the studio an artist requires, it's atmos-
  phere, the atmosphere of enthusiasm and feeling.
  You might as well give a business man a brand new
  office equipment and turn him loose on the Sahara
  desert as to shut a painter up in a town like this and
  expect him to create. Artists need atmosphere just
  as business men need banks. It's the meeting of likG
  forces that makes anything really go.
UNCLE RICHARD
  But we are not wholly barbarous here, Richard. This,
  for example, and no first-class New England city
  lacks culture.
RICHARD
  I suppose there's no use explaining, but what first-
  class New England cities regard as culture your real
  artist avoids as he would avoid poison.
UNCLE RICHARD
  Well, well.  But circumstances-really, Richard,
  don't you think it your dutg to stay
RICHARD
  Why
UNCLE RICHARD
  Must I explain We are met, after a long separa-
  tion, in circumstances personally sorrowful to me,
  and I trust, to some extent, to you as well. We . . .
RICHARD
  Yes, a long separation.
UNCLE RICHARD
  I admit, Richard, that from your point of view my
  attitude has not always been as-as considerate, per-
  haps, as you might have expected. But I have been
  a very busy man, and-



13

 



A MODERN PRODIGAL



RICHARD
  As far as I am concerned, uncle, I have nothing to
  blame you for; but my mother . . .
UNCLE RICHARD
  Your mother Surely, Richard, your mother never
  criticised me to you  She was much too fine a
  woman. Besides, I helped her in many ways you
  may know nothing about.
RICHARD
  No, mother said nothing. She wouldn't have, any-
  how-and as far as your helping her is concerned,
  I can only judge of that by results.
UNCLE RICHARD
  Results What do vou mean I have no desire to
  catalogue the things I have done for one who was
  near to me, but-
RICHARD
  That's all very well, uncle, and I have no criticism
  to make. What's over is over. But when you speak
  of my duty to you, I think of how mother died so
  young, and how -1 found out afterward her affairs
  were so difficult. I had no idea-she sacrificed her-
  self for me so long that I took it for granted. But
  I think that you, as a business man, must have
  known.
UINCLE RICHARD
  You found that everything was mortgaged Well,
  Richard, it pains me to recall these things. Your
  father, unfortunately, was a poor business man. As
  for the mortgage, Richard, I held that myself.
RICHARD
  You did!



14

 



A TMODERN PRODIGAL



UNCLE RICHARD
  Yes. Even vour mother did not know. I acted
  through an agent, and the interest was two per cent.
RICHARD
  But-
UNCLE RICHARD
  A nominal rate. Your mother was so proud-
RICHARD
  Well, but there were other matters, long ago, that I
  have only lately heard about. You and father once
  started in business together. . . .
UNCLE RICHARD
  We did. And I advised him to sell out when I did,
  but he thought better to hold on.
RICHARD
  Poor father. You made-ble lost.
UNCLE RICHARD
  But if hie had followed my advice-. All this is pain-
  ful to me, Richard, and leads nowhere. As for your-
  self, I have always been interested in you, more so
  than you realize, and now-
RICHARD
  Now
UNCLE RICHARD
  I cannot feel at fault for anything that has hap-
  pened. Your father was unsuited for modern life.
  By the ordinary standards he was bound to fail.
  Still, it gives me great satisfaction that at the pres-
  ent time, Richard, I can offer you a home. Yes,
  Richard, a home.
RICHARD
  It's difficult to decide. . . . You see, my studio-



15

 



A MODERN PRODIGAL



UNCLE RICHARD
  Well! I confess I can't understand all this uncer-
  tainty!
RICHARD
  For three years I have worked as hard as anybody
  could to make a position allowing me to paint. I
  have succeeded. I no longer need help!
UNCLE RICHARD
  Of course not! I don't question your ability to get
  along. At the same time, your attitude now is rather
  quixotic. Besides, as far as your painting is con-
  cerned, you can aiways go about where you require.
  It isn't slavery I arm planning for you here, Richard!
RICHARD
  Well . . . but then, as I must live by my sales and
  commissions, I'd cut a poor figure in surroundings
  like these.
UNCLE RICHARD
  Ha! Very quaint that, Richard, very quaint! I
  suppose artists are like that. . .  Richard, I see
  you do not vet understand. I shall be most happy
  to provide for you in every way. Yes. I have con-
  sidered the whole matter carefully, and for some
  time have only waited an opportunity to explain to
  you in person. Consider, then, that you shall have
  an income of your own. You see, Richard
RICHARD
  No, I don't.
UNCLE RICHARD
  Why, it's simple enough!
RICHARD
  Yes, the facts are, but I don't understand-an in-

 


A MODERN PRODIGAL



  come, a home. Why, I never dreamed of such a
  thing!
UNCLE RICHARD
  And why not, my boy, why not We haven't seen
  enough of each other, Richard. Perhaps I have been
  at fault there, not to show more clearly the interest
  I have always taken in you. Yes, indeed, a warmn
  interest, Richard!
RICHIARD
  Why not, Uncle Richard Three years ago you
  might have asked me that question. Now I ask you
  why
UNCLE RICHARD
  Why How     strange! How could that question
  arise between a man and his own nephew
RICHARD
  Three years ago, before Aunt Ethel died, I spent
  Thanksgiving with you. It was during the recess,
  my second year at Harvard. I came here prac-
  tically from m.y mother's funeral. I had just learned
  the truth about our affairs-not a thing of ours
  really ours, not a penny left. How mother had kept
  the truth from  mie, I don't know. But suddenly
  everything changed. The ground I had been stand-
  ing on gave way-my hands grasped everywhere for
  support. I had never lacked, never thought about
  money either way. I took it for granted that faini-
  lies like ours were provided with a decent living by
  some law of Providence. . . . I came here. I thought
  of course you would help me. I didn't think so con-
  sciously-I turned to you and Aunt Ethel from blind
  instinct.



1-7

 


A MODERN PRODIGAL



  We spent Thanksgiving together.   It was very
  quiet, very sad. You both talked about mother and
  the old days. At breakfast the next morning you
  wished me good luck and went off to your office.
  Afterward Aunt Ethel and I talked in the living room
  while I waited for the train. She seemed ill at ease.
  She alluded to your affairs once or twice, saying that
  you were quite embarrassed by the state of politics,
  and how sad it was that people couldn't do all they
  wanted to in this world for others.
  Uncle Richard, when Joseph came with the carriage,
  Aunt Ethel kissed me, cried, and gave me-a twenty
  dollar bill. Good God! and I thanked her for it.
  Twenty dollars-carfare and a week's board! I left
  the house completely dazed: it seemed like a bad
  dream.
UNCLE RICHARD
  There, there, Richard! We never imagined for a
  moment. I thought your college course all provided
  for--and your Aunt Ethel never understood busi-
  ness. She doubtless exaggerated my difficulty. If
  either of us had dreamed you were so worried! As
  if I should have grudged you money!
RICHARD
  That's what I thought at first, and I hated you for
  it, but afterward I realized it was not that-it was
  worse.
UNCLE RICHARD
  Worse!
RICHARD
  Yes. It wasn't that you grudged the money, it was
  that you simply didn't think of it. You felt that



18

 


A MODERN PRODIGAL



  something had to be done, because I made you feel
  uncomfortable, but you didn't know exactly what,
  and you were both relieved to see me go. I had
  spoiled your Thanksgiving dinner-that was the
  depth of your realization.
UNCLE RICHARD
  No, no, Richard! You were so cold, so silent. You
  made it impossible for us to help you.
RICHARD
  I suppose I did seem cold. That's the instinct of
  inexperienced natures when they are desperate. But
  it would have been so easy to break through with
  one kind word or act.
UNCLE RICHARD
  There, there! How glad I am that conditions are
  changed!
RICHARD
  Changed, yes, but it was I who changed them! The
  shock of poverty was terrible at first, not because
  I set too much value on money, nor because I was
  unwilling to work, but because I felt I had no power
  of attack. My nature was introspective, I lived in
  an epic of my own creation. My strength and my
  courage were wrapped up in dreams, and seemed to
  have no relation to the practical world. I could have
  faced the devil himself for an ideal, but to imnake mny
  own living-that was the nightmare! . . .
  That was why I was so cold, so silent. If you had
  said one human thing, straight from your heart to
  mine, I should have been comforted. In a case like
  that, as I now know, it is not money a man wants,
  even if he himself thinks it is. No. It is just sym-



19

 


A MODERN PRODIGAL



  pathy, the right word that renews his courage and
  arms him against the new circumstances by making
  him feel he doesn't stand alone. If you had found
  that word, or even tried to find it, I should have loved
  you like a son. Mly heart was ready-you did not
  want it!
UNCLE RICHARD
  But you finished at college, Richard . . .
RICHARD
  Yes, I finished. And do you know how I spent that
  first night all alone in my room, thinking. In the
  morning I called on a classmate, a poor man who
  was working his way. I said: "Here, I haven't a
  cent. Advise me."
  We talked it all over. He helped me sell my furni-
  ture, he sublet my room. And he gave me a job,
UNCLE RICHARD
  A-
RICHARD
  A job. Collecting and delivering laundry. That's
  how I finished at college. I'm ashamed to admit it
  now, but at first that work hurt me like a knife. I
  couldn't see any relation between that and my ambi-
  tion for art. But it wore off. I grew tougher, I
  learned the real meaning of things. And now I am
  glad it happened.
UNCLE RICHARD
  Admirable, admirable  Really, Richard, I am more
  than ever convinced that I have decided rightly.
  Richard, you must make this your home!
RICHIARD
  Are you still talking about my duty



20

 


A MODERN PRODIGAL2



UNCLE RICHARD
  Richard, a man begins by working for himself alone,
  then he works for the woman he marries, but even
  that is not enough. One by one I have seen every
  motive that ever impelled or guided me grow insuffi-
  cient and have to be replaced. Ambition and love,
  once satisfied, point forward. We must always have
  a future before us, Richard, unless we are willing to
  become machines of habit. At one point or another
  most men do become machines. Thank- heaven, I never
  could. In these last few months I have begun to
  reaize. . . . It was your Aunt Ethel's tragedy thba
  she had no children. I wonder now whether it is not
  even more my own.
  Richard, I have made you my heir.
RICHARD
  Your heir!
UNCLE RICHARD
  Mv heir. And that is why, Richard-of course you
  could not realize it at the time--that is why I allowed
  myself to use the word "duty" as having reference to
  the future if not to the past.
  For the future, Richard, is ours to enjoy, without
  misunderstanding, without disharmiony, I at the end
  of my labours, you at the beginning of yours. You
  have revealed qualities I confess I had not suspected,
  qualities fitting you for responsibility and adminis-
  tration. With the position you will henceforth oc-
  cupy, Richard, you should enter public life. Nothing
  nore honorable for a responsible citizen.  Noth-
  ing more essential to the welfare of our beloved re-
  public at its present critical state. WNe need the Eng-



21

 



A MODERN PRODIGAL



  lish tradition over here, Richard-solid, responsible
  men to administer public affairs. I have often felt
  the need of an efficient aristocracy in our social and
  industrial life. And nothing would please me more
  than to see you rise to authority by the leverage of
  my wealth. Nothing would please me more--why,
  Richard, I should consider it the prolongation of my
  own life!
RICHARD
  No. No you don't, Uncle Richard. Never!
UNCLE RICHARD
  What on earth do you mean
RICHARD
  I won't be your heir!
UNCLE RICHARD
  Wh-what Good heavens! Are you mad
RICHARD
  I hope so. Yes, I hope that from your point of view
  I am quite mad. You won't understand me, because
  you don't understand what I most love and what I
  most hate. Oh you self-made Americans! When I
  really needed your helping hand you didn't think of
  me. You had the American idea that every tub must
  stand on its own bottom, that every young fellow
  must make good-that is, make money. You buy
  "art" at a certain stage in your development just as
  you buy motor cars, and you think you can buy
  artists the same way. You don't know that to buy
  dead art is to starve live artists.
  Well, I made good. I can stand alone. Are you
  offering me money now to help me in my work Not
  a bit! Rich men haven't changed since the first



9.2

 



A MODERN PRODIGAL



  tribal chief ordered his bow and arrows, his wives
  and servants, to be buried with him.
UNCLE RICHARD
  You conceited young rascal! I needn't leave you a
  cent!
RICHARD
  I haven't asked you to. I never thought about your
  money. I can get along very well without it. But
  can you takc it with you
UNCLE RICHARD
  Of course not! But I can leave it to whom I please.
RICHARD
  Why don't you leave it to Joseph
UNCLE RICHARD
  To Joseph-my coachman Are you joking
RICHARD
  Not at all. Didn't he save your life in the Civil War
  And what have I ever done for you
'UNCLE RICHARD
  I have remembered Joseph very handsomely, but to
  make him my heir-why, that isn't the same thing at
  all!
RICHARD
  Well, to a university then
UNCLE RICHARD
  No.
RICHARD
  A church
UTNCLE RICHARD
  No!
RICHARD
  A cat hospital

 


A MODERN PRODIGAL



UNCLE RICHARD
  Damn cats ! There's been enough of them sick in my
  own house!
RICHARD
  Well, I give it up.
UNCLE RICHARD
  You young fool! You don't know what you are say-
  ing! Joseph! Church! Cat Hospital! What good
  would I get out of that Is that what I have been
  working for all my life No indeed!
  Richard, you shall be my heir!
RICHARD
  I won't! You are only interested in me because I
  bear your name. If I were John Smith, though ten
  times the better man, you would never waste a
  thought upon me. My name is an accident-I care
  nothing for that. My real self is my art, for which
  you care even less. All you want is to establish a
  dynasty-the last infirmity of successful men.
  No, I won't be your heir!
UNCLE RICHARD
  Madness, madness! What kind of a world are we
  coming to
RICHARD
  Listen. One day when I was walking outside Siena
  I came to a fine old villa with a wonderful garden.
  A row of cypresses ran along the wall inside, and
  I wanted to paint it. The gardener let me in for a
  tip. While I sat there working, he watching me-
  even the peasants have a feeling for paint over there
  -we heard a tap on the window. It was the
  padrona. I saw that she wanted to speak to me, and



24

 


A MODERN PRODIGAL



I went in. She was an old, crippled woman, hold-
ing to life by sheer will, sitting all day by the fire
in one room. She spoke French, so we could talk.
To my surprise she was very much interested in me--
asked questions about my work, my family, and so
on. I couldn't understand whv. But when I left
she began crying and told me that I reminded her
of her grandson who had been killed in Tripoli, and
that there was no one of the family name left, but
that she had to leave the property either to a cousin
whom she detested, or to the Church. And she said
just what you have: that this wasn't the same thing.
She had nothing to live for, she said, now the heir was
dead, except keep the place out of others' hands.
There she was, a prisoner in that beautiful villa, en-
joying nothing, where an artist would have been in
paradise. I see her yet, bent over the fire in a black
lace shawl, crying.
On my way back to town I happened to think of my
last visit with you, and mv state of mind returned,
my feeling of dependence and the gloomy Thanks-
giving dinner. The shock of contrast between my
old and my new self stopped me short in the road.
In a flash I saw the lying materialism on which the
world is based, the curse of dollar worship that keeps
opportunity away from the young, at the same time
it keeps the old in a prison of loneliness and sus-
picion. If we worshipped life instead of metal disks,
we would see that the young are not really the heirs
of the old, but the old are heirs of the young. Then
and there I vowed to keep myself clear of the whole
wretched tangle, even if I had to carry laundry all



25

 



A MODERN PRODIGAL



  my life, so that if any one ever tried to fetter me
  I could fling his words back in his face! (Uncle
  Richard's nerves are all on edge. A terrific storm
  of overbearing temper visibly gathers during this
  speech, and the Colonel's long habit of successful
  domination seems about to assert itself in an explo-
  sion. But at the last moment another power, deeper
  than habit, older than character, represses his wrath,
  and when Uncle Richard speaks again it is with an
  earnest gentleness almost plaintive.)
UNCLE RICHARD
  Richard, for heaven's sake let us stop this quarrel-
  ing! Let us forget what has been said and done on
  both sides and begin anew. I offer you a home here
  during my life time, and all that I own after I am
  dead. I do care for you, my boy, I know it now as
  I know my own name. Surely, Richard, you need
  not take this offer amiss
RICHARD
  Well, but you see, Uncle Richard....
UNCLE RICHARD
  Do you prefer poverty for its own sake
RICHARD
  Of course not. But I prefer it to hypocrisy and
  compromise.
UNCLE RICHARD
  Well then. You will accept, Richard For my sake,
  Richard
RICHARD
  Well .
UNCLE RICHARD
  It is the only pleasure left to me, Richard, thinking



26

 



A MODERN PRODIGAL



  of the old name going down honourably in you. And
  as for the past, my mistakes were due to inot having
  a son of my own. You have no idea what a differ-
  ence it makes. It -s my dream, Richard, don't de-
  stroy it!
RICHARD
  If you really mean it that way-
UNCLE RICHARD
  My dear Richard! My dear boy! Why-now I
  know why we have been quarreling, Richard!
RICHARD
  Why
UNCLE RICHARD
  Because we are so much alike. At your age I was
  the same self-willed beggar you are. Richard, you are
  more like me than you are like your own father!
RICHARD
  Le roi est morte, vive le roi. But (and he thumps
  the table uith great emphasis) but there's one thing
  understood-I'm going to paint masterpieces!
UNCLE RICHARD
  Of course you are, my boy, of course you are! In
  fact, I always knew you would, Richard!



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THE INCOMPATIBLE S

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       THE INCOMPATIBLES


  A corner table in a Broadway restaurant, at evening.
Between the man and woman who have just taken seats
is