Home  »  Beyond the Horizon  »  Act I Scene ii

Eugene O’Neill (1888–1953). Beyond the Horizon. 1920.

Act I Scene ii

SCENE—The sitting room of the Mayo farm house about nine o’clock the same night. On the left, two windows looking out on the fields. Against the wall between the windows, an old-fashioned walnut desk. In the left corner, rear, a sideboard with a mirror. In the rear wall to the right of the sideboard, a window looking out on the road. Next to the window a door leading out into the yard. Farther right, a black horse-hair sofa, and another door opening on a bedroom. In the corner, a straight-backed chair. In the right wall, near the middle, an open doorway leading to the kitchen. Farther forward a double-heater stove with coal scuttle, etc. In the center of the newly carpeted floor, an oak dining-room table with a red cover. In the center of the table, a large oil reading lamp. Four chairs, three rockers with crocheted tidies on their backs, and one straight-backed, are placed about the table. The walls are papered a dark red with a scrolly-figured pattern.

Everything in the room is clean, well-kept, and in its exact place, yet there is no suggestion of primness about the whole. Rather the atmosphere is one of the orderly comfort of a simple, hard-earned prosperity, enjoyed and maintained by the family as a unit.

JAMES MAYO, his wife, her brother, CAPTAIN DICK SCOTT, and ANDREW are discovered. MRS. MAYO is a slight, round-faced, rather prim-looking woman of fifty-five who had once been a school teacher. The labors of a farmer’s wife have bent but not broken her, and she retains a certain refinement of movement and expression foreign to the Mayo part of the family. Whatever of resemblance ROBERT has to his parents may be traced to her. Her brother, the CAPTAIN, is short and stocky, with a weather-beaten, jovial face and a white moustache—a typical old salt, loud of voice and given to gesture. He is fifty-eight years old.

JAMES MAYO sits in front of the table. He wears spectacles, and a farm journal which he has been reading lies in his lap. THE CAPTAIN leans forward from a chair in the rear, his hands on the table in front of him. ANDREW is tilted back on the straight-backed chair to the left, his chin sunk forward on his chest, staring at the carpet, preoccupied and frowning.

As the Curtain rises the CAPTAIN is just finishing the relation of some sea episode. The others are pretending an interest which is belied by the absent-minded expressions on their faces.

THE CAPTAIN—[Chuckling.] And that mission woman, she hails me on the dock as I was acomin’ ashore, and she says—with her silly face all screwed up serious as judgment—“Captain,” she says, “would you be so kind as to tell me where the sea-gulls sleeps at nights?” Blow me if them warn’t her exact words! [He slaps the table with the palm of his hands and laughs loudly. The others force smiles.] Ain’t that just like a fool woman’s question? And I looks at her serious as I could, “Ma’m,” says I, “I couldn’t rightly answer that question. I ain’t never seed a sea-gull in his bunk yet. The next time I hears one snorin’,” I says, “I’ll make a note of where he’s turned in, and write you a letter ’bout it.” And then she calls me a fool real spiteful and tacks away from me quick. [He laughs again uproariously.] So I got rid of her that way. [The others smile but immediately relapse into expressions of gloom again.]

MRS. MAYO—[Absent-mindedly—feeling that she has to say something.] But when it comes to that, where do sea-gulls sleep, Dick?

SCOTT—[Slapping the table.] Ho! Ho! Listen to her, James. ’Nother one! Well, if that don’t beat all hell—’scuse me for cussin’, Kate.

MAYO—[With a twinkle in his eyes.] They unhitch their wings, Katey, and spreads ’em out on a wave for a bed.

SCOTT—And then they tells the fish to whistle to ’em when it’s time to turn out. Ho! Ho!

MRS. MAYO—[With a forced smile.] You men folks are too smart to live, aren’t you? [She resumes her knitting. MAYO pretends to read his paper; ANDREW stares at the floor.]

SCOTT—[Looks from one to the other of them with a puzzled air. Finally he is unable to bear the thick silence a minute longer, and blurts out:] You folks look as if you was settin’ up with a corpse. [With exaggerated concern.] God A’mighty, there ain’t anyone dead, be there?

MAYO—[Sharply.] Don’t play the dunce, Dick! You know as well as we do there ain’t no great cause to be feelin’ chipper.

SCOTT—[Argumentatively.] And there ain’t no cause to be wearin’ mourning, either, I can make out.

MRS. MAYO—[Indignantly.] How can you talk that way, Dick Scott, when you’re taking our Robbie away from us, in the middle of the night, you might say, just to get on that old boat of yours on time! I think you might wait until morning when he’s had his breakfast.

SCOTT—[Appealing to the others hopelessly.] Ain’t that a woman’s way o’ seein’ things for you? God A’mighty, Kate, I can’t give orders to the tide that it’s got to be high just when it suits me to have it. I ain’t gettin’ no fun out o’ missin’ sleep and leavin’ here at six bells myself. [Protestingly.] And the Sunda ain’t an old ship—leastways, not very old—and she’s good’s she ever was. Your boy Robert’ll be as safe on board o’ her as he’d be home in bed here.

MRS. MAYO—How can you say that, Dick, when we read in almost every paper about wrecks and storms, and ships being sunk.

SCOTT—You’ve got to take your chances with such things. They don’t happen often—not nigh as often as accidents do ashore.

MRS. MAYO—[Her lips trembling.] I wish Robbie weren’t going—not so far away and for so long.

MAYO—[Looking at her over his glasses—consolingly.] There, Katey!

MRS. MAYO—[Rebelliously.] Well, I do wish he wasn’t! It’d be different if he’d ever been away from home before for any length of time. If he was healthy and strong too, it’d be different. I’m so afraid he’ll be taken down ill when you’re miles from land, and there’s no one to take care of him.

MAYO—That’s the very reason you was willin’ for him to go, Katey—’count o’ your bein’ ’fraid for his health.

MRS. MAYO—[Illogically.] But he seems to be all right now without Dick taking him away.

SCOTT—[Protestingly.] You’d think to hear you, Kate, that I was kidnappin’ Robert agin your will. Now I ain’t asayin’ I ain’t tickled to death to have him along, because I be. It’s a’mighty lonesome for a captain on a sailin’ vessel at times, and Robert’ll be company for me. But what I’m sayin’ is, I didn’t propose it. I never even suspicioned that he was hankerin’ to ship out, or that you’d let him go ’til you and James speaks to me ’bout it. And now you blames me for it.

MAYO—That’s so. Dick’s speaking the truth, Katey.

SCOTT—You shouldn’t be taking it so hard, ’s far as I kin see. This vige’ll make a man of him. I’ll see to it he learns how to navigate, ’n’ study for a mate’s c’tificate right off—and it’ll give him a trade for the rest of his life, if he wants to travel.

MRS. MAYO.—But I don’t want him to travel all his life. You’ve got to see he comes home when this trip is over. Then he’ll be all well, and he’ll want to—to marry—[ANDREW sits forward in his chair with an abrupt movement.]—and settle down right here.

SCOTT—Well, in any case it won’t hurt him to learn things when he’s travellin’. And then he’ll get to see a lot of the world in the ports we put in at, ’n’ that ’ll help him afterwards, no matter what he takes up.

MRS. MAYO—[Staring down at the knitting in her lap—as if she hadn’t heard him.] I never realized how hard it was going to be for me to have Robbie go—or I wouldn’t have considered it a minute. [On the verge of tears.] Oh, if only he wouldn’t go!

SCOTT—It ain’t no good goin’ on that way, Kate, now it’s all settled.

MRS. MAYO—[Half-sobbing.] It’s all right for you to talk. You’ve never had any children of your own, and you don’t know what it means to be parted from them—and Robbie my youngest, too. [ANDREW frowns and fidgets in his chair.]

MAYO—[A trace of command in his voice.] No use takin’ on so, Katey! It’s best for the boy. We’ve got to take that into consideration—no matter how much we hate to lose him. [Firmly.] And like Dick says, it’s all settled now.

ANDREW—[Suddenly turning to them.] There’s one thing none of you seem to take into consideration—that Rob wants to go. He’s dead set on it. He’s been dreaming over this trip ever since it was first talked about. It wouldn’t be fair to him not to have him go. [A sudden thought seems to strike him and he continues doubtfully.] At least, not if he still feels the same way about it he did when he was talking to me this evening.

MAYO—[With an air of decision.] Andy’s right, Katey. Robert wants to go. That ends all argyment, you can see that.

MRS. MAYO—[Faintly, but resignedly.] Yes. I suppose it must be, then.

MAYO—[Looking at his big silver watch.] It’s past nine. Wonder what’s happened to Robert. He’s been gone long enough to wheel the widder to home, certain. He can’t be out dreamin’ at the stars his last night.

MRS. MAYO—[A bit reproachfully.] Why didn’t you wheel Mrs. Atkins back tonight, Andy? You usually do when she and Ruth come over.

ANDREW—[Avoiding her eyes.] I thought maybe Robert wanted to go tonight. He offered to go right away when they were leaving.

MRS. MAYO—He only wanted to be polite.

ANDREW—[Gets to his feet.] Well, he’ll be right back, I guess. [He turns to his father.] Guess I’ll go take a look at the black cow, Pa—see if she’s ailing any.

MAYO—Yes—better had, son. [ANDREW goes into the kitchen on the right.]

SCOTT—[As he goes out—in a low tone.] There’s the boy that would make a good, strong sea-farin’ man—if he’d a mind to.

MAYO—[Sharply.] Don’t you put no such fool notions in Andy’s head, Dick—or you ’n’ me’s goin’ to fall out. [Then he smiles.] You couldn’t tempt him, no ways. Andy’s a Mayo bred in the bone, and he’s a born farmer, and a damn good one, too. He’ll live and die right here on this farm, like I expect to. [With proud confidence.] And he’ll make this one of the slickest, best-payin’ farms in the state, too, afore he gits through!

SCOTT—Seems to me it’s a pretty slick place right now.

MAYO—[Shaking his head.] It’s too small. We need more land to make it amount to much, and we ain’t got the capital to buy it. [ANDREW enters from the kitchen. His hat is on, and he carries a lighted lantern in his hand. He goes to the door in the rear leading out.]

ANDREW—[Opens the door and pauses.] Anything else you can think of to be done, Pa?

MAYO—No, nothin’ I know of. [ANDREW goes out, shutting the door.]

MRS. MAYO—[After a pause.] What’s come over Andy tonight, I wonder? He acts so strange.

MAYO—He does seem sort o’ glum and out of sorts. It’s ’count o’ Robert leavin’, I s’pose. [To SCOTT.] Dick, you wouldn’t believe how them boys o’ mine sticks together. They ain’t like most brothers. They’ve been thick as thieves all their lives, with nary a quarrel I kin remember.

SCOTT—No need to tell me that. I can see how they take to each other.

MRS. MAYO—[Pursuing her train of thought.] Did you notice, James, how queer everyone was at supper? Robert seemed stirred up about something; and Ruth was so flustered and giggly; and Andy sat there dumb, looking as if he’d lost his best friend; and all of them only nibbled at their food.

MAYO—Guess they was all thinkin’ about tomorrow, same as us.

MRS. MAYO—[Shaking her head.] No. I’m afraid somethin’s happened—somethin’ else.

MAYO—You mean—’bout Ruth?


MAYO—[After a pause—frowning.] I hope her and Andy ain’t had a serious fallin’-out. I always sorter hoped they’d hitch up together sooner or later. What d’you say, Dick? Don’t you think them two’d pair up well?

SCOTT—[Nodding his head approvingly.] A sweet, wholesome couple they’d make.

MAYO—It’d be a good thing for Andy in more ways than one. I ain’t what you’d call calculatin’ generally, and I b’lieve in lettin’ young folks run their affairs to suit themselves; but there’s advantages for both o’ them in this match you can’t overlook in reason. The Atkins farm is right next to ourn. Jined together they’d make a jim-dandy of a place, with plenty o’ room to work in. And bein’ a widder with only a daughter, and laid up all the time to boot, Mrs. Atkins can’t do nothin’ with the place as it ought to be done. Her hired help just goes along as they pleases, in spite o’ her everlastin’ complainin’ at ’em. She needs a man, a first-class farmer, to take hold o’ things; and Andy’s just the one.

MRS. MAYO—[Abruptly.] I don’t think Ruth loves Andy.

MAYO—You don’t? Well, maybe a woman’s eyes is sharper in such things, but—they’re always together. And if she don’t love him now, she’ll likely come around to it in time.

MAYO—[As MRS. MAYO shakes her head.] You seem mighty fixed in your opinion, Katey. How d’you know?

MRS. MAYO—It’s just—what I feel.

MAYO—[A light breaking over him.] You don’t mean to say—[MRS. MAYO nods. MAYO chuckles scornfully.] Shucks! I’m losin’ my respect for your eyesight, Katey. Why, Robert ain’t got no time for Ruth, ’cept as a friend!

MRS. MAYO—[Warningly.] Sss-h-h! [The door from the yard opens, and ROBERT enters. He is smiling happily, and humming a song to himself, but as he comes into the room an undercurrent of nervous uneasiness manifests itself in his bearing.]

MAYO—So here you be at last! [ROBERT comes forward and sits on ANDY’S chair. MAYO smiles slyly at his wife.] What have you been doin’ all this time—countin’ the stars to see if they all come out right and proper?

ROBERT—There’s only one I’ll ever look for any more, Pa.

MAYO—[Reproachfully.] You might’ve even not wasted time lookin’ for that one—your last night.

MRS. MAYO—[As if she were speaking to a child.] You ought to have worn your coat a sharp night like this, Robbie.

ROBERT—I wasn’t cold, Ma. It’s beautiful and warm on the road.

SCOTT—[Disgustedly.] God A’mighty, Kate, you treat Robert as if he was one year old!

ROBERT—[With a smile.] I’m used to that, Uncle.

SCOTT—[With joking severity.] You’ll learn to forget all that baby coddlin’ nights down off the Horn when you’re haulin’ hell-bent on the braces with a green sea up to your neck, and the old hooker doin’ summersaults under you. That’s the stuff ’ll put iron in your blood, eh Kate?

MRS. MAYO—[Indignantly.] What are you trying to do, Dick Scott—frighten me out of my senses? If you can’t say anything cheerful, you’d better keep still.

SCOTT—Don’t take on, Kate. I was only joshin’ him and you.

MRS. MAYO—You have strange notions of what’s a joke, I must say! [She notices ROBERT’S nervous uneasiness.] You look all worked up over something, Robbie. What is it?

ROBERT—[Swallowing hard, looks quickly from one to the other of them—then begins determinedly.] Yes, there is something—something I must tell you—all of you. [As he begins to talk ANDREW enters quietly from the rear, closing the door behind him, and setting the lighted lantern on the floor. He remains standing by the door, his arms folded, listening to ROBERT with a repressed expression of pain on his face. ROBERT is so much taken up with what he is going to say that he does not notice ANDREW’S presence.] Something I discovered only this evening—very beautiful and wonderful—something I did not take into consideration previously because I hadn’t dared to hope that such happiness could ever come to me. [Appealingly.] You must all remember that fact, won’t you?

MAYO—[Frowning.] Let’s get to the point, son.

ROBERT—You were offended because you thought I’d been wasting my time star-gazing on my last night at home. [With a trace of defiance.] Well, the point is this, Pa; it isn’t my last night at home. I’m not going—I mean—I can’t go tomorrow with Uncle Dick—or at any future time, either.

MRS. MAYO—[With a sharp sigh of joyful relief.] Oh, Robbie, I’m so glad!

MAYO—[Astounded.] You ain’t serious, be you, Robert?

ROBERT—Yes, I mean what I say.

MAYO—[Severely.] Seems to me it’s a pretty late hour in the day for you to be upsettin’ all your plans so sudden!

ROBERT—I asked you to remember that until this evening I didn’t know myself—the wonder which makes everything else in the world seem sordid and pitifully selfish by comparison. I had never dared to dream——

MAYO—[Irritably.] Come to the point. What is this foolishness you’re talkin’ of?

ROBERT—[Flushing.] Ruth told me this evening that—she loved me. It was after I’d confessed I loved her. I told her I hadn’t been conscious of my love until after the trip had been arranged, and I realized it would mean—leaving her. That was the truth. I didn’t know until then. [As if justifying himself to the others.] I hadn’t intended telling her anything but—suddenly—I felt I must. I didn’t think it would matter, because I was going away, and before I came back I was sure she’d have forgotten. And I thought she loved—someone else. [Slowly—his eyes shining.] And then she cried and said it was I she’d loved all the time, but I hadn’t seen it. [Simply.] So we’re going to be married—very soon—and I’m happy—and that’s all there is to say. [Appealingly.] But you see, I couldn’t go away now—even if I wanted to.

MRS. MAYO—[Getting up from her chair.] Of course not! [Rushes over and throws her arms about him.] I knew it! I was just telling your father when you came in—and, Oh, Robbie, I’m so happy you’re not going!

ROBERT—[Kissing her.] I knew you’d be glad, Ma.

MAYO—[Bewilderedly.] Well, I’ll be damned! You do beat all for gettin’ folks’ minds all tangled up, Robert. And Ruth too! Whatever got into her of a sudden? Why, I was thinkin’——

MRS. MAYO—[Hurriedly—in a tone of warning.] Never mind what you were thinking, James. It wouldn’t be any use telling us that now. [Meaningly.] And what you were hoping for turns out just the same almost, doesn’t it?

MAYO—[Thoughtfully—beginning to see this side of the argument.] Yes; I suppose you’re right, Katey. [Scratching his head in puzzlement.] But how it ever come about! It do beat anything ever I heard. [Finally he gets up with a sheepish grin and walks over to ROBERT.] We’re glad you ain’t goin’, your Ma and I, for we’d have missed you terrible, that’s certain and sure; and we’re glad you’ve found happiness. Ruth’s a fine girl and’ll make a good wife to you.

ROBERT—[Much moved.] Thank you, Pa. [He grips his father’s hand in his.]

ANDREW—[His face tense and drawn comes forward and holds out his hand, forcing a smile.] I guess it’s my turn to offer congratulations, isn’t it?

ROBERT—[With a startled cry when his brother appears before him so suddenly.] Andy! [Confused.] Why—I—I didn’t see you. Were you here when——

ANDREW—I heard everything you said; and here’s wishing you every happiness, you and Ruth. You both deserve the best there is.

ROBERT—[Taking his hand.] Thanks, Andy, it’s fine of you to—— [His voice dies away as he sees the pain in ANDREW’S eyes.]

ANDREW—[Giving his brother’s hand a final grip.] Good luck to you both! [He turns away and goes back to the rear when he bends over the lantern, fumbling with it to hide his emotion from the others.]

MRS. MAYO—[To the CAPTAIN, who has been too flabbergasted by ROBERT’S decision to say a word.] What’s the matter, Dick? Aren’t you going to congratulate Robbie?

SCOTT—[Embarrassed.] Of course I be! [He gets to his feet and shakes ROBERT’S hand, muttering a vague] Luck to you, boy. [He stands beside ROBERT as if he wanted to say something more but doesn’t know how to go about it.]

ROBERT—Thanks, Uncle Dick.

SCOTT—So you’re not acomin’ on the Sunda with me? [His voice indicates disbelief.]

ROBERT—I can’t, Uncle—not now. I’m very grateful to you for having wanted to take me. I wouldn’t miss it for anything else in the world under any other circumstances. [He sighs unconsciously.] But you see I’ve found—a bigger dream.

SCOTT—[Gruffly.] Bring the girl along with you. I’ll fix it so there’s room.

MRS. MAYO—[Sharply.] How can you propose such a crazy idea, Dick—to take a young girl on a sail-boat all over the world and not a woman on the boat but herself. Have you lost your senses?

ROBERT—[Regretfully.] It would be wonderful if we could both go with you, Uncle—but it’s impossible. Ruth couldn’t go on account of her mother, and besides, I’m afraid she doesn’t like the idea of the sea.

SCOTT—[Putting all his disapproval into an exclamation.] Humph! [He goes back and sits down at the table.]

ROBERT—[In joyous high spirits.] I want you all to understand one thing—I’m not going to be a loafer on your hands any longer. This means the beginning of a new life for me in every way. I’m sick and disgusted at myself for sitting around and seeing everyone else hard at work, while all I’ve been doing is keep the accounts—a couple of hours work a week! I’m going to settle right down and take a real interest in the farm, and do my share. I’ll prove to you, Pa, that I’m as good a Mayo as you are—or Andy, when I want to be.

MAYO—[Kindly but skeptically.] That’s the right spirit, Robert, but it ain’t needful for you to——

MRS. MAYO—[Interrupting him.] No one said you weren’t doing your part, Robbie. You’ve got to look out for——

ROBERT—I know what you’re going to say, and that’s another false idea you’ve got to get out of your heads. It’s ridiculous for you to persist in looking on me as an invalid. I’m as well as anyone, and I’ll prove it to you if you’ll give me half a chance. Once I get the hang of it, I’ll be able to do as hard a day’s work as any one. You wait and see.

MAYO—Ain’t none of us doubts your willin’ness, but you ain’t never learned——

ROBERT—Then I’m going to start learning right away, and you’ll teach me, won’t you?

MAYO—[Mollifyingly.] Of course I will, boy, and be glad to, only you’d best go easy at first.

ROBERT—With the two farms to look after, you’ll need me; and when I marry Ruth I’ll have to know how to take care of things for her and her mother.

MAYO—That’s so, son.

SCOTT—[Who has listened to this conversation in mingled consternation and amazement.] You don’t mean to tell me you’re goin’ to let him stay, do you, James?

MAYO—Why, things bein’ as they be, Robert’s free to do as he’s a mind to.

MRS. MAYO—Let him! The very idea!

SCOTT—[More and more ruffled.] Then all I got to say is, you’re a soft, weak-willed critter to be permittin’ a boy—and women, too—to be layin’ your course for you wherever they damn pleases.

MAYO—[Slyly amused.] It’s just the same with me as ’twas with you, Dick. You can’t order the tides on the seas to suit you, and I ain’t pretendin’ I can reg’late love for young folks.

SCOTT—[Scornfully.] Love! They ain’t old enough to know love when they sight it! Love! I’m ashamed of you, Robert, to go lettin’ a little huggin’ and kissin’ in the dark spile your chances to make a man out o’ yourself. It ain’t common sense—no siree, it ain’t—not by a hell of a sight! [He pounds the table with his fists in exasperation.]

ROBERT—[Smiling.] I’m afraid I can’t help it, Uncle.

SCOTT—Humph! You ain’t got any sand, that’s what! And you, James Mayo, lettin’ boys and women run things to the devil and back—you’ve got less sense than he has!

MAYO—[With a grin.] If Robert can’t help it, I’m sure I ain’t able, Dick.

MRS. MAYO—[Laughing provokingly at her brother.] A fine one you are to be talking about love, Dick—an old cranky bachelor like you. Goodness sakes!

SCOTT—[Exasperated by their joking.] I’ve never been a damn fool like most, if that’s what you’re steerin’ at.

MRS. MAYO—[Tauntingly.] Sour grapes, aren’t they, Dick? [She laughs. ROBERT and his father chuckle. SCOTT sputters with annoyance.] Good gracious, Dick, you do act silly, flying into a temper over nothing.

SCOTT—[Indignantly.] Nothin’! Is that what you call it—nothin’? You talk as if I wasn’t concerned nohow in this here business. Seems to me I’ve got a right to have my say. Ain’t I gone to all sorts o’ trouble gettin’ the sta’b’d cabin all cleaned out and painted and fixed up so’s that Robert o’ yours ’d be comfortable? Ain’t I made all arrangements with the owners and stocked up with some special grub all on Robert’s account?

ROBERT—You’ve been fine, Uncle Dick; and I appreciate it. Truly.

MAYO—’Course; we all does, Dick.

MRS. MAYO—And don’t spoil it now by getting angry at us.

SCOTT—[Unplacated.] It’s all right for you to say don’t this and don’t that; but you ain’t seen things from my side of it. I’ve been countin’ sure on havin’ Robert for company on this vige—to sorta talk to and show things to, and teach, kinda, and I got my mind so set on havin’ him I’m goin’ to be double lonesome this vige. [He pounds on the table, attempting to cover up this confession of weakness.] Darn all this silly lovin’ business, anyway.

MRS. MAYO—[Touched.] It’s too bad you have to be so lonesome, Dick. Why don’t you give up the old boat? You’ve been on the sea long enough, heaven’s knows. Why don’t you make up your mind and settle down here with us?

SCOTT—[Emphatically.] And go diggin’ up the dirt and plantin’ things? Not by a hell of a sight! You can have all the darned dirt in the earth for all o’ me. I ain’t sayin’ it ain’t all right—if you’re made that way—but I ain’t. No settlin’ down for me. No sirree! [Irritably.] But all this talk ain’t tellin’ me what I’m to do with that sta’b’d cabin I fixed up. It’s all painted white, an a bran new mattress on the bunk, ’n’ new sheets ’n’ blankets ’n’ things. And Chips built in a book-case so’s Robert could take his books along—with a slidin’ bar fixed across’t it, mind, so’s they couldn’t fall out no matter how she rolled. [With excited consternation.] What d’you suppose my officers is goin’ to think when there’s no one comes aboard to occupy that sta’b’d cabin? And the men what did the work on it—what’ll they think? [He shakes his finger indignantly.] They’re liable as not to suspicion it was a woman I’d planned to ship along, and that she gave me the go-by at the last moment! [He wipes his perspiring brow in anguish at this thought.] Gawd A’mighty! They’re only lookin’ to have the laugh on me for something like that. They’re liable to b’lieve anything, those fellers is!

MAYO—[With a wink.] Then there’s nothing to it but for you to get right out and hunt up a wife somewheres for that spic ’n’ span cabin. She’ll have to be a pretty one, too, to match it. [He looks at his watch with exaggerated concern.] You ain’t got much time to find her, Dick.

SCOTT—[As the others smile—sulkily.] You kin go to thunder, Jim Mayo!

ANDREW—[Comes forward from where he has been standing by the door, rear, brooding. His face is set in a look of grim determination.] You needn’t worry about that spare cabin, Uncle Dick, if you’ve a mind to take me in Robert’s place.

ROBERT—[Turning to him quickly.] Andy! [He sees at once the fixed resolve in his brother’s eyes, and realizes immediately the reason for it—in consternation.] Andy, you mustn’t!

ANDREW—You’ve made your decision, Rob, and now I’ve made mine. You’re out of this, remember.

ROBERT—[Hurt by his brother’s tone.] But Andy——

ANDREW—Don’t interfere, Rob—that’s all I ask. [Turning to his uncle.] You haven’t answered my question, Uncle Dick.

SCOTT—[Clearing his throat, with an uneasy side glance at JAMES MAYO who is staring at his elder son as if he thought he had suddenly gone mad.] O’ course, I’d be glad to have you, Andy.

ANDREW—It’s settled then. I can pack the little I want to take in a few minutes.

MRS. MAYO—Don’t be a fool, Dick. Andy’s only joking you. He wouldn’t go for anything.

SCOTT—[Disgruntledly.] It’s hard to tell who’s jokin’ and who’s not in this house.

ANDREW—[Firmly.] I’m not joking, Uncle Dick—and since I’ve got your permission, I’m going with you. [As SCOTT looks at him uncertainly.] You needn’t be afraid I’ll go back on my word. When I say I’ll go, I’ll go.

ROBERT—[Hurt by the insinuation he feels in ANDREW’S one.] Andy! That isn’t fair!

MRS. MAYO—[Beginning to be disturbed.] But I know he must be fooling us. Aren’t you, Andy?

ANDREW—No, Ma, I’m not.

MAYO—[Frowning.] Seems to me this ain’t no subject to joke over—not for Andy.

ANDREW—[Facing his father.] I agree with you, Pa, and I tell you again, once and for all, that I’ve made up my mind to go.

MAYO—[Dumbfounded—unable to doubt the determination in ANDREW’S voice—helplessly.] But why, son? Why?

ANDREW—[Evasively.] I’ve always wanted to go, even if I ain’t said anything about it.


ANDREW—[Half-angrily.] You shut up, Rob! I told you to keep out of this. [Turning to his father again.] I didn’t ever mention it because as long as Rob was going I knew it was no use; but now Rob’s staying on here, and Uncle Dick wants someone along with him, there isn’t any reason for me not to go.

MAYO—[Breathing hard.] No reason? Can you stand there and say that to me, Andrew?

MRS. MAYO—[Hastily—seeing the gathering storm.] He doesn’t mean a word of it, James.

MAYO—[Making a gesture to her to keep silence.] Let me talk, Katey. [In a more kindly tone.] What’s come over you so sudden, Andy? You know’s well as I do that it wouldn’t be fair o’ you to run off at a moment’s notice right now when we’re up to our necks in hard work.

ANDREW—[Avoiding his eyes.] Rob’ll hold his end up as soon as he learns.

MAYO—You know that ain’t so. Robert was never cut out for a farmer, and you was.

ANDREW—You can easily get a man to do my work.

MAYO—[Restraining his anger with an effort.] It sounds strange to hear you, Andy, that I always thought had good sense, talkin’ crazy like that. And you don’t believe yourself one bit of what you’ve been sayin’—not ’less you’ve suddenly gone out of your mind. [Scornfully.] Get a man to take your place! Where’d I get him, tell me, with the shortage of farm labor hereabouts? And if I could get one, what int’rest d’you suppose he’d take beyond doin’ as little work as he could for the money I paid him? You ain’t been workin’ here for no hire, Andy, that you kin give me your notice to quit like you’ve done. The farm is your’n as well as mine. You’ve always worked on it with that understanding; and what you’re sayin’ you intend doin’ is just skulkin’ out o’ your rightful responsibility.

ANDREW—[Looking at the floor—simply.] I’m sorry, Pa. [After a slight pause.] It’s no use talking any more about it.

MRS. MAYO—[In relief.] There! I knew Andy’d come to his senses!

ANDREW—Don’t get the wrong idea, Ma. I’m not backing out.

MAYO—You mean you’re goin’ in spite of—everythin’?

ANDREW—Yes. I’m going. I want to—and—I’ve got to. [He looks at his father defiantly.] I feel I oughtn’t to miss this chance to go out into the world and see things, and—I want to go.

MAYO—[With bitter scorn.] So—you want to go out into the world and see thin’s! [His voice raised and quivering with anger.] I never thought I’d live to see the day when a son o’ mine ’d look me in the face and tell a bare-faced lie! [Bursting out.] You’re a liar, Andy Mayo, and a mean one to boot!

MRS. MAYO—James!


SCOTT—Steady there, Jim!

MAYO—[Waving their protests aside.] He is and he knows it.

ANDREW—[His face flushed.] I won’t argue with you, Pa. You can think as badly of me as you like. I can’t help that. Let’s not talk about it any more. I’ve made up my mind, and nothing you can say will change it.

MAYO—[Shaking his finger at ANDY, in a cold rage.] You know I’m speakin’ truth—that’s why you’re afraid to argy! You lie when you say you want to go ’way—and see things! You ain’t got no likin’ in the world to go. Your place is right here on this farm—the place you was born to by nature—and you can’t tell me no different. I’ve watched you grow up, and I know your ways, and they’re my ways. You’re runnin’ against your own nature, and you’re goin’ to be a’mighty sorry for it if you do. You’re tryin’ to pretend to me something that don’t fit in with your make-up, and it’s damn fool pretendin’ if you think you’re foolin’ me. ’S if I didn’t know your real reason for runnin’ away! And runnin’ away’s the only words to fit it. You’re runnin’ away ’cause you’re put out and riled ’cause your own brother’s got Ruth ’stead o’ you, and——

ANDREW—[His face crimson—tensely.] Stop, Pa! I won’t stand hearing that—not even from you!

MRS. MAYO—[Rushing to ANDY and putting her arms about him protectingly.] Don’t mind him, Andy dear. He don’t mean a word he’s saying! [ROBERT stands rigidly, his hands clenched, his face contracted by pain. SCOTT sits dumbfounded and open-mouthed. ANDREW soothes his mother who is on the verge of tears.]

MAYO—[In angry triumph.] It’s the truth, Andy Mayo! And you ought to be bowed in shame to think of it!

ROBERT—[Protestingly.] Pa! You’ve gone far enough. It’s a shame for you to talk that way!

MRS. MAYO—[Coming from ANDREW to his father; puts her hands on his shoulders as though to try and push him back in the chair from which he has risen.] Won’t you be still, James? Please won’t you?

MAYO—[Looking at ANDREW over his wife’s shoulder—stubbornly.] The truth—God’s truth!

MRS. MAYO—Sh-h-h! [She tries to put a finger across his lips, but he twists his head away.]

ANDREW—[Who has regained control over himself.] You’re wrong, Pa, it isn’t truth. [With defiant assertiveness.] I don’t love Ruth. I never loved her, and the thought of such a thing never entered my head.

MAYO—[With an angry snort of disbelief.] Hump! You’re pilin’ lie on lie!

ANDREW—[Losing his temper—bitterly.] I suppose it’d be hard for you to explain anyone’s wanting to leave this blessed farm except for some outside reason like that. You think these few measly acres are heaven, and that none’d want to ever do nothing in all their lives but stay right here and work like a dog all the time. But I’m sick and tired of it—whether you want to believe me or not—and that’s why I’m glad to get a chance to move on. I’ve been sick and tired of farm life for a long time, and if I hadn’t said anything about it, it was only to save your feelings. Just because you love it here, you’ve got your mind set that I like it, too. You want me to stay on so’s you can know that I’ll be taking care of the rotten farm after you’re gone. Well, Rob’ll be here, and he’s a Mayo, too. You can leave it in his hands.

ROBERT—Andy! Don’t! You’re only making it worse.

ANDREW—[Sulkily.] I don’t care. I’ve done my share of work here. I’ve earned my right to quit when I want to. [Suddenly overcome with anger and grief; with rising intensity.] I’m sick and tired of the whole damn business. I hate the farm and every inch of ground in it. I’m sick of digging in the dirt and sweating in the sun like a slave without getting a word of thanks for it. [Tears of rage starting to his eyes—hoarsely.] I’m through, through for good and all; and if Uncle Dick won’t take me on his ship, I’ll find another. I’ll get away somewhere, somehow.

MRS. MAYO—[In a frightened voice.] Don’t you answer him, James. He doesn’t know what he’s saying to you. Don’t say a word to him ’til he’s in his right senses again. Please James, don’t——

MAYO—[Pushes her away from him; his face is drawn and pale with the violence of his passion. He glares at ANDREW as if he hated him.] You dare to—you dare to speak like that to me? You talk like that ’bout this farm—the Mayo farm—where you was born—you—you—— [He clenches his fist above his head and advances threateningly on ANDREW.] You damned whelp!

MRS. MAYO—[With a shriek.] James! [She covers her face with her hands and sinks weakly into MAYO’S chair. ANDREW remains standing motionless, his face pale and set.]

SCOTT—[Starting to his feet and stretching his arms across the table toward MAYO.] Easy there, Jim!

ROBERT—[Throwing himself between father and brother.] Stop! Are you mad?

MAYO—[Grabs ROBERT’S arm and pushes him aside—then stands for a moment gasping for breath before ANDREW. He points to the door with a shaking finger.] Yes—go!—go!—You’re no son o’ mine—no son o’ mine! You can go to hell if you want to! Don’t let me find you here—in the mornin’—or—or—I’ll throw you out!

ROBERT—Pa! For God’s sake!

[MRS. MAYO bursts into noisy sobbing.]

SCOTT—[Placatingly.] Ain’t you goin’ too far, Jim?

MAYO—[Turning on him furiously.] Shut up, you—you Dick! It’s your fault—a lot o’ this—you and your cussed ship! Don’t you take him—if you do—don’t you dare darken this door again. Let him go by himself and learn to starve—starve! [He gulps convulsively and turns again to ANDREW.] And you go—tomorrow mornin’—and by God—don’t come back—don’t dare come back—by God, not while I’m livin’—or I’ll—I’ll—— [He shakes over his muttered threat and strides toward the door rear, right.]

MRS. MAYO—[Rising and throwing her arms around him—hysterically.] James! James! Where are you going?

MAYO—[Incoherently.] I’m goin’—to bed, Katey. It’s late, Katey—it’s late. [He goes out.]

MRS. MAYO—[Following him, pleading hysterically.] James! Take back what you’ve said to Andy. James! [She follows him out. ROBERT and the CAPTAIN stare after them with horrified eyes. ANDREW stands rigidly looking straight in front of him, his fists clenched at his sides.]

SCOTT—[The first to find his voice—with an explosive sigh.] Well, if he ain’t the devil himself when he’s roused! You oughtn’t to have talked to him that way, Andy ’bout the damn farm, knowin’ how touchy he is about it. [With another sigh.] Well, you won’t mind what he’s said in anger. He’ll be sorry for it when he’s calmed down a bit.

ANDREW—[In a dead voice.] No, he won’t. You don’t know him. [Defiantly.] What’s said is said and can’t be unsaid; and I’ve chosen.

SCOTT—[Uncertainly.] You don’t mean—you’re still a mind to go—go with me, do you?

ANDREW—[Stubbornly.] I haven’t said I’ve changed my mind, have I? There’s all the reason in the world for me to go—now. And I’m going if you’re not afraid to take me after what he said.

ROBERT—[With violent protest.] Andy! You can’t! Don’t be a fool! This is all so stupid—and terrible.

ANDREW—[Coldly.] I’ll talk to you in a minute, Rob, when we’re alone. This is between Uncle and me. [Crushed by his brother’s cold indifference, ROBERT sinks down into a chair, holding his head in his hands. ANDREW turns again to SCOTT.] If you don’t want to take me, it’s all right—there’s no hard feelings. I can understand you don’t like to fall out with Pa.

SCOTT—[Indignantly.] Gawd A’mighty, Andy, I ain’t scared o’ your Pa, nor no man livin,’ I want t’have you come along! Only I was thinkin’ o’ Kate. We don’t want her to have to suffer from his contrariness. Let’s see. [He screws up his brows in thought.] S’posing we both lie a little, eh? I’ll tell ’em you’re not comin’ with me, and you tell ’em you’re goin’ to the port to get another ship. We can leave here in the team together. That’s natural enough. They can’t suspect nothin’ from that. And then you can write home the first port we touch and explain things. [He winks at ANDREW cunningly.] Are you on to the course?

ANDREW—[Frowning.] Yes—if you think it’s best.

SCOTT—For your Ma’s sake. I wouldn’t ask it, else.

ANDREW—[Shrugging his shoulders.] All right then.

SCOTT—[With a great sigh of relief—comes and slaps ANDREW on the back—beaming.] I’m damned glad you’re shippin’ on, Andy. I like your spirit, and the way you spoke up to him. [Lowering his voice to a cautious whisper.] You was right not to want to waste your life plowin’ dirt and pattin’ it down again. The sea’s the place for a young feller like you that isn’t half dead ’n’ alive. [He gives ANDY a final approving slap.] You’n’ me ’ll get along like twins, see if we don’t. I’m durned glad you’re comin’, boy.

ANDREW—[Wearily.] Let’s not talk about it any more, Uncle. I’m tired of talking.

SCOTT—Right! I’m goin’ aloft to turn in, and leave you two alone. Don’t forget to pack your dunnage. And git some sleep, if you kin. We’ll want to sneak out extra early b’fore they’re up. It’ll do away with more argyments. Robert can drive us down to the town, and bring back the team. [He goes to the door in the rear, left.] Well, good night.

ANDREW—Good night. [SCOTT goes out. The two brothers remain silent for a moment. Then ANDREW comes over to his brother and puts a hand on his back. He speaks in a low voice, full of feeling.] Buck up, Rob. It ain’t any use crying over spilt milk; and it’ll all turn out for the best—let’s hope. It couldn’t be helped—what’s happened.

ROBERT—[Wildly.] But it’s a lie, Andy, a lie!

ANDREW—Of course it’s a lie. You know it and I know it,—but that’s all ought to know it.

ROBERT—Pa’ll never forgive you. Oh, why did you want to anger him like that? You know how he feels about the farm. Oh, the whole affair is so senseless—and tragic. Why did you think you must go away?

ANDREW—You know better than to ask that. You know why. [Fiercely.] I can wish you and Ruth all the good luck in the world, and I do, and I mean it; but you can’t expect me to stay around here and watch you two together, day after day—and me alone. You couldn’t expect that! I couldn’t stand it—not after all the plans I’d made to happen on this place thinking—— [His voice breaks.] Thinking she cared for me.

ROBERT—[Putting a hand on his brother’s arm.] God! It’s horrible! I feel so guilty—to think that I should be the cause of your suffering, after we’ve been such pals all our lives. If I could have foreseen what’d happen, I swear to you I’d have never said a word to Ruth. I swear I wouldn’t have, Andy.

ANDREW—I know you wouldn’t; and that would’ve been worse, for Ruth would’ve suffered then. [He pats his brother’s shoulder.] It’s best as it is. It had to be, and I’ve got to stand the gaff, that’s all. Pa’ll see how I felt—after a time. [As ROBERT shakes his head]—and if he don’t—well, it can’t be helped.

ROBERT—But think of Ma! God, Andy, you can’t go! You can’t!

ANDREW—[Fiercely.] I’ve got to go—to get away! I’ve got to, I tell you. I’d die here. I’d kill myself! Can’t you understand what it’d mean to me, how I’d suffer? You don’t know how I’d planned—for Ruth and me—the hopes I’d had about what the future’d be like. You can’t blame me to go. You’d do the same yourself. I’d go crazy here, bein’ reminded every second of the day how my life’s been smashed, and what a fool I’d made of myself. I’d have nothing to hope or live for. I’ve got to get away and try and forget, if I can. I never could stay here—seeing her. And I’d hate the farm if I stayed, hate it for bringin’ things back. I couldn’t take interest in the work any more, work with no purpose in sight. Can’t you see what a hell it’d be? You love her too, Rob. Put yourself in my place, and remember I haven’t stopped loving her, and couldn’t if I was to stay. Would that be fair to you or to her? Put yourself in my place. [He shakes his brother fiercely by the shoulder.] What’d you do then? Tell me the truth! You love her. What’d you do? In spite of all hell, what’d you do?

ROBERT—[Chokingly.] I’d—I’d go, Andy! [He buries his face in his hands with a shuddering sob.] God!

ANDREW—[Seeming to relax suddenly all over his body—in a low, steady voice.] Then you know why I got to go; and there’s nothing more to be said.

ROBERT—[In a frenzy of rebellion.] Why did this have to happen to us? It’s damnable! [He looks about him wildly, as if his vengeance were seeking the responsible fate.]

ANDREW—[Soothingly—again putting his hands on his brother’s shoulder.] It’s no use fussing any more, Rob. It’s done. [Affectionately.] You’ll forget anything I said to hurt when I was mad, won’t you? I wanted to keep you out of it.

ROBERT—Oh, Andy, it’s me who ought to be asking your forgiveness for the suffering I’ve brought on you.

ANDREW—[Forcing a smile.] I guess Ruth’s got a right to have who she likes; you ain’t to blame for that. She made a good choice—and God bless her for it!

ROBERT—Andy! Oh, I wish I could tell you half I feel of how fine you are!

ANDREW—[Interrupting him quickly.] Shut up! Let’s go to bed. We’ve talked long enough, and I’ve got to be up long before sun-up. You, too, if you’re going to drive us down.

ROBERT—Yes. Yes.

ANDREW—[Turning down the lamp.] And I’ve got to pack yet. [He yawns with utter weariness.] I’m as tired as if I’d been plowing twenty-four hours at a stretch. [Dully.] I feel—dead. [ROBERT covers his face again with his hands. ANDREW shakes his head as if to get rid of his thoughts, and continues with a poor attempt at cheery briskness.] I’m going to douse the light. Come on. [He slaps his brother on the back. ROBERT does not move. ANDREW bends over and blows out the lamp. His voice comes from the darkness.] Don’t sit there mourning, Rob. It’ll all come out in the wash. Come on and get some sleep. Everything ’ll turn out all right in the end. [ROBERT can be heard stumbling to his feet, and the dark figures of the two brothers can be seen groping their way toward the doorway in the rear as

[The Curtain Falls]