A Celebration of Women Writers

Miss Lulu Bett









SCENE I: The Deacon dining-room.

SCENE II: The same. A week later.


SCENE I: Side porch of the Deacon house. Evening, a month after Lulu's marriage.

SCENE II: The same.

SCENE III: The same. Evening, a week later.

ACT THREE (revised)

The same.

ACT THREE (as originally produced December 27, 920)

Cornish's music store, the following morning.




THE DEACON DINING-ROOM: Plain rose paper, oak sideboard, straight chairs, a soft old brown divan, table laid for supper. Large pictures of, say, "Paul and Virginia" and Abbott Thayer's "Motherhood." A door left leads to kitchen; a door right front leads to the passage and the "other" room. Back are two windows with lace curtains, revealing shrubbery or blossoming plants; and a shelf with a clock and a photograph of Ninian Deacon. Over the table is a gas burner in a glass globe. In the center of the table is a pink tulip in a pot. The stage is empty.

(Enter MONONA. She tiptoes to the table, tastes a dish or two, hides a cooky in her frock; begins a terrible little chant on miscellaneous notes.)


DWIGHT. What! You don't mean you're in time for supper, baby?

MONONA. I ain't a baby.

DWIGHT. Ain't. Ain't. Ain't.

MONONA. Well, I ain't.

DWIGHT. We shall have to take you in hand, mama and I. We shall-have-to-take-you in hand.

MONONA. I ain't such a bad girl.

DWIGHT. Ain't. Ain't. Ain't.

(Enter INA, Door R. E.)

INA. Dwightie! Have I kept you waiting?

DWIGHT. It's all right, my pet. Bear and forbear. Bear and forbear.

INA. Everything's on the table. I didn't hear Lulu call us, though. She's fearfully careless. And Dwight, she looks so bad–when there's company I hate to have her around.

(They seat themselves.)

DWIGHT. My dear Ina, your sister is very different from you.

INA. Well, Lulu certainly is a trial. Come Monona.

DWIGHT. Live and let live, my dear. We have to overlook, you know. What have we on the festive board to-night?

INA. We have creamed salmon. On toast.

MONONA. I don't want any.

DWIGHT. What's this? No salmon?


INA. Oh now, pet! You liked it before.

MONONA. I don't want any.

DWIGHT. Just a little? A very little? What is this? Progeny will not eat?

INA. She can eat if she will eat. The trouble is, she will not take the time.

DWIGHT. She don't put her mind on her meals.

INA. Now, pettie, you must eat or you'll get sick.

MONONA. I don't want any.

INA. Well, pettie–then how would you like a nice egg?


INA. Some bread and milk?


(Enter LULU BETT. She carries a plate of muffins.)

INA. Lulu, Monona won't eat a thing. I should think you might think of something to fix for her.

LULU. Can't I make her a little milk toast?


INA. Well now, sister. Don't toast it too much. That last was too–and it's no use, she will not eat it if it's burned.

LULU. I won't burn it on purpose.

INA. Well, see that you don't... Lulu! Which milk are you going to take?

LULU. The bottle that sets in front, won't I?

INA. But that's yesterday's milk. No, take the fresh bottle from over back. Monona must be nourished.

LULU. But then the yesterday's'll sour and I can't make a custard pie–

DWIGHT. Kindly settle these domestic matters without bringing them to my attention at meal time. (Observes the tulip.) Flowers! Who's been having flowers sent in?

INA. Ask Lulu.

DWIGHT. Suitors?

LULU. It was a quarter. There'll be five flowers.

DWIGHT. You bought it?

LULU. Yes. Five flowers. That's a nickel apiece.

DWIGHT. Yet we give you a home on the supposition that you have no money to spend, even for the necessities.

INA. Well, but Dwightie. Lulu isn't strong enough to work. What's the use–

DWIGHT. The justice business and the dental profession do not warrant the purchase of spring flowers in my home.

INA. Well, but Dwightie–

DWIGHT. No more. Lulu meant no harm.

INA. The back bottle, Lulu. And be as quick as you can. Remember, the back bottle. She has a terrible will, hangs on to her own ideas, and hangs on–

(Exit LULU.)

DWIGHT. Forbearance my pet, forbearance. Baked potatoes. That's good–that's good. The baked potato contains more nourishment than potatoes prepared in any other way. Roasting retains it.

INA. That's what I always think.

DWIGHT. Where's your mother? Isn't she coming to supper?

INA. No. Tantrum.

DWIGHT. Oh ho, mama has a tantrum, eh? My dear Ina, your mother is getting old. She don't have as many clear-headed days as she did.

INA. Mama's mind is just as good as it ever was, sometimes.

DWIGHT. Hadn't I better call her up?

INA. You know how mama is.

(Enter LULU. She takes flowerpot from table and throws it out the window. Exit LULU.)

DWIGHT. I'd better see. (Goes to door and opens it.) Mother Bett!...Come and have some supper.... Looks to me Lulu's muffins go down pretty easy! Come on–I had something funny to tell you and Ina.... (Returns.) No use. She's got a tall one on to-night, evidently. What's the matter with her?

INA. Well, I told Lulu to put the creamed salmon on the new blue platter, and mama thought I ought to use the old deep dish.

DWIGHT. You reminded her that you are mistress here in your own home. But gently, I hope?

INA. Well–I reminded her. She said if I kept on using the best dishes I wouldn't have a cup left for my own wake.

DWIGHT. And my little puss insisted?

INA. Why of course. I wanted to have the table look nice for you, didn't I?

DWIGHT. My precious pussy.

INA. So then she walked off to her room. (MONONA sings her terrible little chant.) Quiet, pettie, quiet!

DWIGHT. Softly, softly, softly, SOFTLY!... Well, here we are, aren't we? I tell you people don't know what living is if they don't belong in a little family circle.

INA. That's what I always think.

DWIGHT. Just coming home here and sort of settling down–it's worth more than a tonic at a dollar the bottle. Look at this room. See this table. Could anything be pleasanter?

INA. Monona! Now, it's all over both ruffles. And mama does try so hard...

DWIGHT. My dear. Can't you put your mind on the occasion?

INA. Well, but Monona is so messy.

DWIGHT. Women cannot generalize. (Clock strikes half hour.) Curious how that clock loses. It must be fully quarter to. It is quarter to! I'm pretty good at guessing time.

INA. I've often noticed that.

DWIGHT. That clock is a terrible trial. Last night it was only twenty-three after when the half hour struck.

INA. Twenty-one, I thought.

DWIGHT. Twenty-three. My dear Ina, didn't I particularly notice? It was twenty-three.

MONONA (like lightning). I want my milk toast, I want my milk toast, I want my milk toast.

INA. Do hurry, sister. She's going to get nervous.

(MONONA chants her chant. Enter LULU.)

LULU. I've got the toast here.

INA. Did you burn it?

LULU. Not black.

DWIGHT. There we are. Milk toast like a ku-ween. Where is our young lady daughter to-night?

INA. She's at Jenny Plows, at a teaparty.

DWIGHT. Oh ho, teaparty. Is it?

LULU. We told you that this noon.

DWIGHT (frowning at LULU). How much is salmon the can now, Ina?

INA. How much is it, Lulu?

LULU. The large ones are forty, that used to be twenty-five. And the small ones that were ten, they're twenty-five. The butter's about all gone. Shall I wait for the butter woman or get some creamery?

DWIGHT. Not at meal time, if you please, Lulu. The conversation at my table must not deal with domestic matters.

LULU. I suppose salmon made me think of butter.

DWIGHT. There is not the remotest connection. Salmon comes from a river. Butter comes from a cow. A cow bears no relation to a river. A cow may drink from a river, she may do that, but I doubt if that was in your mind when you spoke–you're not that subtle.

LULU. No, that wasn't in my mind.


DWIGHT. Well, Mama Bett, hungry now?

MRS. BETT. No, I'm not hungry.

INA. We put a potato in the oven for you, mama.

MRS. BETT. No, I thank you.

DWIGHT. And a muffin, Mama Bett.

MRS. BETT. No, I thank you.

LULU. Mama, can't I fix you some fresh tea?

MRS. BETT. That's right, Lulie. You're a good girl. And see that you put in enough tea so as a body can taste tea part of the way down.

INA. Sit here with us, mama.

MRS. BETT. No, I thank you. I'll stand and keep my figger.

DWIGHT. You know you look like a queen when you stand up, straight back, high head, a regular wonder for your years, you are.

MRS. BETT. Sometimes I think you try to flatter me. (Sits.)


MONONA. I'll go. I'll go. Let me go.

DWIGHT. Now what can anybody be thinking of to call just at meal time. Can't I even have a quiet supper with my family without the outside world clamoring?

LULU. Maybe that's the butter woman.

DWIGHT. Lulu, no more about the butter, please.

MONONA. Come on in. Here's Bobby to see you, papa, let's feed him.

DWIGHT. Oh ho! So I'm the favored one. Then draw up to the festive board, Robert. A baked potato?

BOBBY. No, sir. I–I wanted something else.

DWIGHT. What's this? Came to see the justice about getting married, did you? Or the dentist to have your tooth pulled–eh? Same thing–eh, Ina? Ha! ha! ha!

BOBBY. I–I wondered whether–I thought if you would give me a job....

DWIGHT. So that's it.

BOBBY. I thought maybe I might cut the grass or cut–cut something.

DWIGHT. My boy, every man should cut his own grass. Every man should come home at night, throw off his coat and, in his vigor, cut his own grass.

BOBBY. Yes, sir.

DWIGHT. Exercise, exercise is next to bread–next to gluten. Hold on, though–hold on. After dental hours I want to begin presently to work my garden. I have two lots. Property is a burden. Suppose you cut the grass on the one lot through the spring.

BOBBY. Good enough, sir. Can I start right in now? It isn't dark yet.

DWIGHT. That's right, that's right. Energy–it's the driving power of the nation. (They rise, DWIGHT goes toward the door with BOBBY.) Start right in, by all means. You'll find the mower in the shed, oiled and ready. Tools always ready–that's my motto, my boy. (Enter DI and CORNISH. CORNISH carries many favors.) Ah ha!

DI. Where is everybody? Oh, hullo, Bobby! You came to see me?

BOBBY. Oh, hullo! No. I came to see your father.

DI. Did you? Well, there he is. Look at him.

BOBBY. You don't need to tell me where to look or what to do. Good-by. I'll find the mower, Mr. Deacon. (Exit.)

DWIGHT. Mama! What do you s'pose? Di thought she had a beau– How are you, Cornish?

DI. Oh, papa! Why, I just hate Bobby Larkin, and the whole school knows it. Mama, wasn't Mr. Cornish nice to help carry my favors?

INA. Ah, Mr. Cornish! You see what a popular little girl we have.

CORNISH. Yes, I suppose so. That is–isn't that remarkable, Mrs. Deacon? (He tries to greet LULU, who is clearing the table.)

DI. Oh, papa, the sweetest party–and the dearest supper and the darlingest decorations and the georgeousest– Monona, let go of me!

DWIGHT. Children, children, can't we have peace in this house?

MONONA. Ah, you'll catch it for talking so smarty.

DI. Oh, will I?

INA. Monona, don't stand listening to older people. Run around and play. (MONONA runs a swift circle and returns to her attitude of listener.)

CORNISH. Pardon me–this is Miss Bett, isn't it?

LULU. I–Lulu Bett, yes.

CORNISH. I had the pleasure of meeting you the night I was here for supper.

LULU. I didn't think you'd remember.

CORNISH. Don't you think I'd remember that meat pie?

LULU. Oh, yes. The meat pie. You might remember the meat pie. (Exit, carrying plates.)

CORNISH. What the dickens did I say that for?

INA. Oh, Lulu likes it. She's a wonderful cook. I don't know what we should do without her.

DWIGHT. A most exemplary woman is Lulu.

INA. That's eggsemplary, Dwightie.

DWIGHT. My darling little dictionary.

DI. Mama, Mr. Cornish and I have promised to go back to help Jenny.

INA. How nice! And Mr. Cornish, do let us see you oftener.

DWIGHT. Yes, yes, Cornish. Drop in. Any time, you know.

CORNISH. I'll be glad to come. I do get pretty lonesome evenings. (Enter LULU, clearing table.) I eat out around. I guess that's why your cooking made such an impression on me, Miss Lulu.

LULU. Yes. Yes. I s'pose it would take something like that...

CORNISH. Oh, no, no! I didn't mean–you mustn't think I meant– What'd I say that for?

LULU. Don't mind. They always say that to me. (Exit with dishes.)

DI. Come on, Mr. Cornish. Jenny'll be waiting. Monona, let go of me!

MONONA. I don't want you!

DWIGHT. Early, darling, early! Get her back here early, Mr. Cornish.

CORNISH. Oh, I'll have her back here as soon as ever she'll come–well, ah–I mean....

DI. Good-by Dwight and Ina! (Exit DIand MR. CORNISH.)

DWIGHT. Nice fellow, nice fellow. Don't know whether he'll make a go of his piano store, but he's studying law evenings.

INA. But we don't know anything about him, Dwight. A stranger so.

DWIGHT. On the contrary I know a great deal about him. I know that he has a little inheritance coming to him.

INA. An inheritance–really? I thought he was from a good family.

DWIGHT. My mercenary little pussy.

INA. Well, if he comes here so very much you know what we may expect.

DWIGHT. What may we expect?

INA. He'll fall in love with Di. And a young girl is awfully flattered when a good-looking older man pays her attention. Haven't you noticed that?

DWIGHT. How women generalize! My dear Ina, I have other matters to notice.

INA. Monona. Stop listening! Run about and play. (MONONA runs her circle and returns.) Well, look at our clock. It's almost your bedtime, anyway.

(Enter LULU.)


INA. It certainly is.

MONONA. That clock's wrong. Papa said so.

INA. Mama says bedtime. In ten minutes.

MONONA. I won't go all night.

DWIGHT. Daughter, daughter, daughter....

MONONA. I won't go for a week.

(DWIGHT sees on clock shelf a letter.)

INA. Oh, Dwight! It came this morning. I forgot.

LULU. I forgot too. And I laid it up there.

DWIGHT. Isn't it understood that my mail can't wait like this?

LULU. I know. I'm sorry. But you hardly ever get a letter.

DWIGHT. Of course pressing matters go to my office. Still my mail should have more careful– (He reads.) Now! What do you think I have to tell you?

INA. Oh, Dwightie! Something nice?

DWIGHT. That depends. I'll like it. So'll Lulu. It's company.

MONONA. I hope they bring me something decent.

INA. Oh, Dwight, who?

DWIGHT. My brother, from Oregon.

INA. Ninian coming here?

DWIGHT. Some day next week. He don't know what a charmer Lulu is or he'd come quicker.

INA. Dwight, it's been years since you've seen him.

DWIGHT. Nineteen–twenty. Must be twenty.

INA. And he's never seen me.

DWIGHT. Nor Lulu.

INA. And think where he's been. South America–Mexico–Panama and all. We must put it in the paper.

MRS. BETT. Who's coming? Why don't you say who's coming? You all act so dumb.

LULU. It's Dwight's brother, mother. His brother from Oregon.

MRS. BETT. Never heard of him.

LULU (taking photograph from shelf ). That one, mother. You've dusted his picture lots of times.

MRS. BETT. That? Got to have him around long?

DWIGHT. I don't know. Wait till he sees Lulu. I expect when he sees Lulu you can't drive him away. He's going to take one look at Lulu and settle down here for life. He's going to think Lulu is–

LULU. I–think the tea must be steeped now. (Exit.)

DWIGHT. He's going to think Lulu is a stunner–a stunner.... (The clock strikes. MONONA shrieks.) Is the progeny hurt?

INA. Bedtime. Now, Monona, be mama's nice little lady.... Monona, quiet, pettie, quiet.... (LULU enters with tea and toast.) Lulu, won't you take her to bed? You know Dwight and I are going to Study Club.

LULU. There, mother. Yes, I'll take her to bed. Come, Monona. And stop that noise instantly. (MONONA stops. As they cross DWIGHT spies the tulip on LULU'S gown.)

DWIGHT. Lulu. One moment. You picked the flower on the plant.

LULU. Yes. I–picked it.

DWIGHT. She buys a hothouse plant and then ruins it!

LULU. I–I– (She draws MONONA swiftly left; exeunt; the door slams.)

DWIGHT. What a pity Lulu hasn't your manners, pettie.

MRS. BETT. What do you care? She's got yours.

DWIGHT. Mother Bett! Fare thee well.

MRS. BETT. How do you stand him? The lump!

INA. Mama dear, now drink your tea. Good-night, sweetie.

MRS. BETT. You needn't think I forgot about the platter, because I ain't. Of all the extravagant doin's, courtin' the poorhouse– (Exeunt DWIGHT and INA. MRS. BETT continues to look after them, her lips moving. At door appears BOBBY.)

BOBBY. Where's Mr. Deacon?

MRS. BETT. Gone, thank the Lord!

BOBBY. I've got the grass cut.

MRS. BETT. You act like it was a trick.

BOBBY. Is–is everybody gone?

MRS. BETT. Who's this you're talkin' to?

BOBBY. Yes, well, I meant–I guess I'll go now. (Enter DI.)

DI. Well, Bobby Larkin. Are you cutting grass in the dining room?

BOBBY. No, ma'am, I was not cutting grass in the dining room.

(Enter LULU, collects her mother's dishes, folds cloth and watches.)

DI. I used to think you were pretty nice, but I don't like you any more.

BOBBY. Yes you used to! Is that why you made fun of me all the time?

DI. I had to. They all were teasing me about you.

BOBBY. They were? Teasing you about me?

DI. I had to make them stop so I teased you. I never wanted to.

BOBBY. Well, I never thought it was anything like that.

DI. Of course you didn't. I–wanted to tell you.

BOBBY. You wanted–

DI. Of course I did. You must go now–they're hearing us.


DI. Good-night. Go the back way, Bobby–you nice thing. (Exit BOBBY.) Aunt Lulu, give me the cookies, please, and the apples. Mr. Cornish is on the front porch... mama and papa won't be home till late, will they?

LULU. I don't think so.

DI. Well, I'll see to the hall light. Don't you bother. Good-night.

LULU. Good-night, Di. (Exit DI.)

MRS. BETT. My land! How she wiggles and chitters.

LULU. Mother, could you hear them? Di and Bobby Larkin?

MRS. BETT. Mother hears a-plenty.

LULU. How easy she done it...got him right over...how did she do that?

MRS. BETT. Di wiggles and chitters.

LULU. It was just the other day I taught her to sew...I wonder if Ina knows.

MRS. BETT. What's the use of you findin' fault with Inie? Where'd you been if she hadn't married I'd like to know?...What say?... eh?... I'm goin' to bed.... You always was jealous of Inie. (Exit MRS. BETT.)

(LULU crosses to shelf, takes down photograph of NINIAN DEACON, holds it, looks at it.)



SAME SET. Late afternoon. A week later. The table is cleared of dishes, and has an oilcloth cover. BOBBY is discovered outside the window, on whose sill DI is sitting.

BOBBY. So you despise me for cutting grass?

DI. No, I don't. But if you're going to be a great man why don't you get started at it?

BOBBY. I am started at it–inside. But it don't earn me a cent yet.

DI. Bobby, Bobby! I know you're great now, don't you ever think I don't, but I want everybody else to know.

BOBBY. Di, when you said that it sounded just like a–a you know.

DI. Like what?

BOBBY. Like a wife. Gee, what a word that is!

DI. Isn't it? It's ever so much more exciting word than husband.

(Enter LULU, followed by MONONA. LULU carries bowl, pan of apples, paring knife. MONONA carries basket of apples and a towel. As LULU rattles dishes, DI turns, sees LULU. BOBBY disappears from window.)

DI. There's never any privacy in this house. (Exit DI.)

LULU. Hurry, Monona, I must make the pies before I get dinner. Now wipe every one.

MONONA. What for?

LULU. To make the pies.

MONONA. What do you want to make pies for?

LULU. To eat.

MONONA. What do you want to eat for?

LULU. To grow strong–and even sensible.

MONONA. It's no fun asking you a string of questions. You never get mad. Mama gets good and mad. So does papa.

LULU. Then why do you ask them questions?

MONONA. Oh, I like to get them going.

LULU. Monona!

MONONA. I told mama I didn't pass, just so I could hear her.

LULU. Why, Monona!

MONONA. Then when I told her I did pass, she did it again. When she's mad she makes awful funny faces.

LULU. You love her, don't you, Monona?

MONONA. I love her best when there's company. If there was always company, I'd always love her. Isn't she sweet before Uncle Ninian though?

LULU. I–I don't know. Monona, you mustn't talk so.

MONONA. He's been here a week and mama hasn't been cross once. Want to know what he said about you?

LULU. I–did he–did he say anything about me?

MONONA. He told papa you were the best cook he'd ever ate. Said he'd et a good many.

LULU. The cooking. It's always the cooking.

MONONA. He said some more, but I can't remember.

LULU. Monona, what else did he say?

MONONA. I don't know.

LULU. Try....

MONONA. Here he is now. Ask him to his face. Hullo, Uncle Ninian! Good-by. (Exit MONONA. Enter NINIAN.)

NINIAN. Hello, kitten! Ask him what! What do you want to ask him?

LULU. I–I think I was wondering what kind of pies you like best.

NINIAN. That's easy. I like your kind of pies best. The best ever. Every day since I've been here I've seen you baking, Mrs. Bett.

LULU. Yes, I bake. What did you call me then?

NINIAN. Mrs. Bett–isn't it? Every one says just Lulu, but I took it for granted.... Well, now–is it Mrs. or Miss Lulu Bett?

LULU. It's Miss.... From choice.

NINIAN. You bet! Oh, you bet! Never doubted that.

LULU. What kind of a Mr. are you?

NINIAN. Never give myself away. Say, by George, I never thought of that before. There's no telling whether a man's married or not, by his name.

LULU. It doesn't matter.


LULU. Not so many people want to know.

NINIAN. Say, you're pretty good, aren't you?

LULU. If I am it never took me very far.

NINIAN. Where you been mostly?

LULU. Here. I've always been here. Fifteen years with Ina. Before that we lived in the country.

NINIAN. Never been anywhere much?

LULU. Never been anywhere at all.

NINIAN. H...m. Well, I want to tell you something about yourself.

LULU. About me?

NINIAN. Something that I'll bet you don't even know. It's this: I think you have it pretty hard around here.

LULU. Oh, no!

NINIAN. See here. Do you have to work like this all the time? I guess you won't mind my asking.

LULU. But I ought to work. I have a home with them. Mother too.

NINIAN. But glory! You ought to have some kind of a life of your own.

LULU. How could I do that?

NINIAN. A man don't even know what he's like till he's roamed around on his own.... Roamed around on his own. Course a woman don't understand that.

LULU. Why don't she? Why don't she?

NINIAN. Do you? (LULU nods.) I've had twenty-five years of galloping about–Brazil, Mexico, Panama.


NINIAN. It's the life.

LULU. Must be. I–

NINIAN. Yes, you. Why, you've never had a thing! I guess you don't know how it seems to me, coming along–a stranger so. I don't like it.

LULU. They're very good to me.

NINIAN. Do you know why you think that? Because you've never had anybody really good to you. That's why.

LULU. But they treat me good.

NINIAN. They make a slavey of you. Regular slavey. Damned shame I call it.

LULU. But we have our whole living–

NINIAN. And you earn it. I been watching you ever since I've been here. Don't you ever go anywhere?

LULU. Oh, no, I don't go anywhere. I–

NINIAN. Lord! Don't you want to? Of course you do.

LULU. Of course I'd like to get clear away–or I used to want to.

NINIAN. Say–you've been a blamed fine-looking woman.

LULU. You must have been a good-looking man once yourself.

NINIAN. You're pretty good. I don't see how you do it–darned if I do.

LULU. How I do what?

NINIAN. Why come back, quick like that, with what you say. You don't look it.

LULU. It must be my grand education.

NINIAN. Education: I ain't never had it and I ain't never missed it.

LULU. Most folks are happy without an education.

NINIAN. You're not very happy, though.

LULU. Oh, no.

NINIAN. Well you ought to get up and get out of here–find–find some work you like to do.

LULU. But, you see, I can't do any other work–that's the trouble–women like me can't do any other work.

NINIAN. But you make this whole house go round.

LULU. If I do, nobody knows it.

NINIAN. I know it. I hadn't been in the house twenty-four hours till I knew it.

LULU. You did? You thought that.... Yes, well if I do I hate making it go round.

NINIAN. See here–couldn't you tell me a little bit about–what you'd like to do? If you had your own way?

LULU. I don't know–now.

NINIAN. What did you ever think you'd like to do?

LULU. Take care of folks that needed me. I–I mean sick folks or old folks or–like that. Take care of them. Have them–have them want me.

NINIAN. By George! You're a wonder.

LULU. Am I? Ask Dwight.

NINIAN. Dwight. I could knock the top of his head off the way he speaks to you. I'd like to see you get out of this, I certainly would.

LULU. I can't get out. I'll never get out–now.

NINIAN. Don't keep saying "now" like that. You–you put me out of business, darned if you don't.

LULU. Oh, I don't mean to feel sorry for myself–you stop making me feel sorry for myself!

NINIAN. I know one thing–I'm going to give Dwight Deacon a chunk of my mind.

LULU. Oh, no! no! no! I wouldn't want you to do that. Thank you.

NINIAN. Well, somebody ought to do something. See here–while I'm staying around you know you've got a friend in me, don't you?


NINIAN. You bet you do.

LULU. Not just my cooking?

NINIAN. Oh, come now–why, I liked you the first moment I saw you.

LULU. Honest?

NINIAN. Go on–go on. Did you like me?

LULU. Now you're just being polite.

NINIAN. Say, I wish there was some way–

LULU. Don't you bother about me.

NINIAN. I wish there was some way– (MONONA'S voice chants.) (Enter MONONA.)

MONONA. You've had him long enough, Aunt Lulu–Can't you pay me some 'tention?

NINIAN. Come here. Give us a kiss. My stars, what a great big tall girl! Have to put a board on her head to stop this growing.

MONONA (Seeing diamond ). What's that?

NINIAN. That diamond came from Santa Claus. He has a jewelry shop in heaven. I have twenty others like this one. I keep the others to wear on the Sundays when the sun comes up in the west.

MONONA. Does the sun ever come up in the west?

NINIAN. Sure–on my honor. Some day I'm going to melt a diamond and eat it. Then you sparkle all over in the dark, ever after. I'm going to plant one too, some day. Then you can grow a diamond vine. Yes, on my honor.

LULU. Don't do that– don't do that.


LULU. To her. That's lying.

NINIAN. Oh, no. That's not lying. That's just drama. Drama. Do you like going to a good show?

LULU. I've never been to any–only those that come here.

NINIAN. Think of that now. Don't you ever go to the city?

LULU. I haven't been in six years and over.

NINIAN. Well, sir, I'll tell you what I'm going to do with you. While I'm here I'm going to take you and Ina and Dwight up to the city, to see a show.

LULU. Oh, you don't want me to go.

NINIAN. Yes, sir. I'll give you one good time. Dinner and a show.

LULU. Ina and Dwight do that sometimes. I can't imagine me.

NINIAN. Well, you're coming with me. I'll look up something good. And you tell me just what you like to eat and we'll order it–

LULU. It's been years since I've eaten anything that I haven't cooked myself.

NINIAN. It has. Say, by George! why shouldn't we go to the city to-night.

LULU. To-night?

NINIAN. Yes. If Dwight and Ina will. It's early yet. What do you say?

LULU. You sure you want me to go? Why–I don't know whether I've got anything I could wear.

NINIAN. Sure you have.

LULU. I–yes, I have. I could wear the waist I always thought they'd use–if I died.

NINIAN. Sure you could wear that. Just the thing. And throw some things in a bag–it'll be too late to come back tonight. Now don't you back out....

LULU. Oh, the pies–

NINIAN. Forget the pies–well, no, I wouldn't say that. But hustle them up.

LULU. Oh, maybe Ina won't go....

NINIAN. Leave Ina to me. (Exit NINIAN.)

LULU. Mother, mother! Monona, put the rest of those apples back in the basket and carry them out.

MONONA. Yes, Aunt Lulu.

LULU. I can't get ready. They'll leave me behind. Mother! Hurry, Monona. We mustn't leave such a looking house. Mother! Monona, don't you drop those apples. (MONONA drops them all.) My heavens, my pies aren't in the oven yet. (Enter MRS. BETT.)

MRS. BETT. Who wants their mother?

LULU. Mother, please pick up these things for me–quick.

MRS. BETT (leisurely). What is the rush, Lulie?

LULU. Mother, Mr. Deacon–Ninian, you know–wants Ina and Dwight and me to go to the theater to-night in the city.

MRS. BETT. Does, does he? Well, you mind me, Lulie, and go on. It'll do you good.

LULU. Yes, mother. I will. (Exit with pies.)

MRS. BETT. No need breaking everybody's neck off, though, as I know of. Monona, get out from under my feet.

MONONA. Grandma, compared between what I am, you are nothing.

MRS. BETT. What do you mean–little ape?

MONONA. It's no fun to get you going. You're too easy, grandma dear! (Exit. Enter NINIAN.)

NINIAN. All right–Dwight and Ina are game. Oh, Mrs. Bett! Won't you come to the theater with us to-night?

MRS. BETT. No. I'm fooled enough without fooling myself on purpose. But Lulie can go.

NINIAN. You don't let her go too much, do you, Mrs. Bett?

MRS. BETT. Well, I ain't never let her go to the altar if that's what you mean.

NINIAN. Don't you think she'd be better off?

MRS. BETT. Wouldn't make much difference. Why look at me. A husband, six children, four of 'em under the sod with him. And sometimes I feel as though nothin' more had happened to me than has happened to Lulie. It's all gone. For me just the same as for her. Only she ain't had the pain. (Yawns.) What was I talkin' about just then?

NINIAN. Why–why–er, we were talking about going to the theater.

MRS. BETT. Going to the theater, are you? (Enter LULU.)

NINIAN. It's all right, Miss Lulu. They'll go–both of them. Dwight is telephoning for the seats.

LULU. I was wondering why you should be so kind to me.

NINIAN. Kind? Why, this is for my own pleasure, Miss Lulu. That's what I think of mostly.

LULU. But just see. It's so wonderful. Half an hour ago I never thought I'd be going to the city now–with you all....

NINIAN. I'm an impulsive cuss you'll find, Miss Lulu.

LULU. But this is so wonderful.... (Enter INA.) Ina, isn't it beautiful that we're going?

INA. Oh, are you going?

NINIAN. Of course she's going. Great snakes, why not?

INA. Only that Lulu never goes anywhere.

NINIAN. Whose fault is that?

LULU. Just habit. Pure habit.

NINIAN. Pure cussedness somewhere. Miss Lulu, now you go and get ready and Ina and I'll finish straightening up here.

LULU. Oh, I'll finish.

NINIAN. Go and get ready. I want to see that waist.

LULU. Oh, but I don't need to go yet–

NINIAN. Ina, you tell her to go–

INA. Well, but Lulu, you aren't going to bother to change your dress, are you? You can slip something on over.

LULU. If you think this would do–

NINIAN. It will not do. Not for my party! (Shuts the door upon her.)

INA. How in the world did you ever get Lulu to go, Ninian? We never did.

NINIAN. It was very simple. I invited her.

INA. Oh, you mean–

NINIAN. I invited her. (Doorbell rings.) Shall I answer it?

INA. Will you, please? (Exit NINIAN.) Mother, have you seen Di anywhere?

MRS. BETT. I ain't done nothing but see her. (Motions to window.)

INA (At window). Forevermore. That Larkin boy again. Di! Diana Deacon! Come here at once.

DI'S VOICE. Yes, mama. (At window.) Want me?

INA. I want you to stop making a spectacle of me before the neighborhood.

DI. Of you!

INA. Certainly. What will people think of me if they see you talking with Robert Larkin the whole afternoon?

DI. We weren't thinking about you, mummy.

INA. No. You never do think about me. Nobody thinks about me. And mama does try so hard–

DI. Oh, mama, I've heard you say that fifty hundred times.

INA. And what impression does it make? None.... Nobody listens to me. Nobody. (Enter NINIAN and CORNISH.)

NINIAN. All right to bring him in here?

INA. Oh, Mr. Cornish! how very nice to see you.

CORNISH. Good afternoon, Mrs. Deacon. How are you, Miss Di?

NINIAN. I've just been asking Mr. Cornish if he won't join us to-night for dinner and the show.

INA. Oh, Mr. Cornish, do–we'd be so glad.

CORNISH. Why, why, if that wouldn't be–

NINIAN. You're invited, Di, you know.

DI. Me? Oh, how heavenly! Oh, but I've an engagement with Bobby–

INA. But I'm sure you'd break that to go with Uncle Ninian and Mr. Cornish.

DI. Well, I'd break it to go to the theater–

INA. Why, Di Deacon!

DI. Oh, of course to go with Uncle Ninian and Mr. Cornish.

CORNISH. This is awfully good of you. I dropped in because I got so lonesome I didn't know what else to do–that is, I mean....

NINIAN. We get it. We get it.

INA. We'd love to see you any time, Mr. Cornish. Now if you'll excuse Di and me one minute.

DI. Uncle Ninian, you're a lamb. (Exeunt DI and INA.)

MRS. BETT. I'm just about the same as I was.

CORNISH. What–er–oh, Mrs. Bett, I didn't see you.

MRS. BETT. I don't complain. But it wouldn't turn my head if some of you spoke to me once in a while. Say–can you tell me what these folks are up to?

CORNISH. Up to... up to?

MRS. BETT. Yes. They're all stepping round here, up to something. I don't know what.

NINIAN. Why, Mrs. Bett, we're going to the city to the theater, you know.

MRS. BETT. Well, why didn't you say so? (Enter DWIGHT.)

DWIGHT. Ha! Everybody ready? Well, well, well, well. How are you, Cornish? You going too, Ina says.

CORNISH. Yes, I thought I might as well. I mean–

DWIGHT. That's right, that's right. Mama Bett. Look here!

MRS. BETT. What's that?

DWIGHT. Ice cream–it's ice cream. Who is it sits home and has ice cream put in her lap like a ku-ween?

MRS. BETT. Vanilly or chocolate?

DWIGHT. Chocolate, Mama Bett.

MRS. BETT. Vanilly sets better.... I'll put it in the ice chest–I may eat it. (Takes spoon from sideboard. Exit. CORNISH goes with her.)

DWIGHT. Where's the lovely Lulu?

NINIAN. She'll be here directly.

DWIGHT. Now what I want to know, Nin, is how you've hypnotized the lovely Lulu into this thing.

NINIAN. Into going? Dwight, I'll tell you about that. I asked her to go with us. Do you get it? I invited the woman.

DWIGHT. Ah, but with a way–with a way. She's never been anywhere like this with us.... Well, Nin, how does it seem to see me settled down into a respectable married citizen in my own town–eh?

NINIAN. Oh–you seem just like yourself.

DWIGHT. Yes, yes. I don't change much. Don't feel a day older than I ever did.

NINIAN. And you don't act it.

DWIGHT. Eh, you wouldn't think it to look at us, but our aunt had her hands pretty full bringing us up. Nin, we must certainly run up state and see Aunt Mollie while you're here. She isn't very well.

NINIAN. I don't know whether I'll have time or not.

DWIGHT. Nin, I love that woman. She's an angel. When I think of her I feel–I give you my word–I feel like somebody else.

(Enter MRS. BETT and CORNISH.)

NINIAN. Nice old lady.

MRS. BETT. Who's a nice old lady?

DWIGHT. You, Mama Bett! Who else but you–eh? Well, now, Nin, what about you. You've been saying mighty little about yourself. What's been happening to you, anyway?–

NINIAN. That's the question.

DWIGHT. Traveling mostly–eh?

NINIAN. Yes, traveling mostly.

DWIGHT. I thought Ina and I might get over to the other side this year, but I guess not–I guess not.

MRS. BETT. Pity not to have went while the going was good.

DWIGHT. What's that, Mama Bett? (Enter LULU.) Ah, the lovely Lulu. She comes, she comes! My word what a costoom. And a coiffure.

LULU. Thank you. How do you do, Mr. Cornish?

CORNISH. How do you do, Miss Lulu? You see they're taking me along too.

LULU. That's nice. But, Mr. Deacon, I'm afraid I can't go after all. I haven't any gloves.

NINIAN. No backing out now.

DWIGHT. Can't you wear some old gloves of Ina's?

LULU. No, no. Ina's gloves are too fat for me–I mean too–mother, how does this hat look?

MRS. BETT. You d ought to know how it looks, Lulie. You've had it on your head for ten years, hand-running.

LULU. And I haven't any theater cape. I couldn't go with my jacket and no gloves, could I?

DWIGHT. Now why need a charmer like you care about clothes!

LULU. I wouldn't want you gentlemen to be ashamed of me.

CORNISH. Why, Miss Lulu, you look real neat.

MRS. BETT. Act as good as you look, Lulie. You mind me and go on. (Enter INA.)

DWIGHT. Ha! All ready with our hat on! For a wonder, all ready with our hat on.

INA. That isn't really necessary, Dwight.

LULU. Ina, I wondered–I thought about your linen duster. Would it hurt if I wore that?

DWIGHT. The new one?

LULU. Oh no, no. The old one.

INA. Why take it, Lulu, yes, certainly. Get it, Dwightie, there in the hall. (DWIGHT goes.)

CORNISH. Miss Lulu, with all the solid virtues you've got, you don't need to think for a moment of how you look.

LULU. Now you're remembering the meat pie again, aren't you? (Enter DWIGHT.)

DWIGHT. Now! The festive opera cloak. Allow me! My word, what a picture! Lulu the charmer dressed for her deboo into society, eh?

NINIAN. Dwight, shut your head. I want you to understand this is Miss Lulu Bett's party–and if she says to leave you home, we'll do it.

DWIGHT. Ah, ha! An understanding between these two.

CORNISH. Well, Miss Lulu, I think you're just fine anyway.

LULU. Oh, thank you. Thank you.... (Enter DI.)

INA. All ready, darling?

DI. All ready–and so excited! Isn't it exciting, Mr. Cornish?

DWIGHT. Bless me if the whole family isn't assembled. Now isn't this pleasant! Ten–let me see–twelve minutes before we need set out. Then the city and dinner–not just Lulu's cooking, but dinner! By a chef.

INA. That's sheff, Dwightie. Not cheff.

DWIGHT (indicating INA). Little crusty tonight. Pettie, your hat's just a little mite–no, over the other way.

INA. Was there anything to prevent your speaking of that before?

LULU. Ina, that hat's ever so much prettier than the old one.

INA. I never saw anything the matter with the old one.

DWIGHT. She'll be all right when we get started–out among the bright lights. Adventure–adventure is what the woman wants. I'm too tame for her.

INA. Idiot. (Back at window, BOBBY LARKIN appears. DI slips across to him.)

MRS. BETT. I s'pose you all think I like being left sitting here stark alone?

NINIAN. Why, Mrs. Bett–

INA. Why, mama–

LULU. Oh, mother, I'll stay with you.

DWIGHT. Oh, look here, if she really minds staying alone I'll stay with her.

MRS. BETT. Where you going anyway?

LULU. The theater, mama.

MRS. BETT. First I've heard of it. (MONONA is heard chanting.)

INA. You'll have Monona with you, mama. (MRS. BETT utters one note of laughter, thin and high.) (Enter MONONA.)

MONONA. Where you going?

INA. The city, dear. (MONONA cries.) Now quiet, pettie, quiet–

MONONA. You've all got to bring me something. And I'm going to sit up and eat it, too.

MRS. BETT. Come here, you poor, neglected child. (Throughout the following scene MRS. BETT is absorbed with MONONA, and DI with BOBBY.)

DWIGHT. What's Lulu the charmer so still for, eh?

LULU. I was thinking how nice it is to be going off with you all like this.

DWIGHT. Such a moment advertises to the single the joys of family life as Ina and I live it.

INA. It's curious that you've never married, Ninian.

NINIAN. Don't say it like that. Maybe I have. Or maybe I will.

DWIGHT. She wants everybody to marry but she wishes she hadn't.

INA. Do you have to be so foolish?

DWIGHT. Hi–better get started before she makes a scene. It's too early yet, though. Well–Lulu, you dance on the table.

INA. Why, Dwight?

DWIGHT. Got to amuse ourselves somehow. They'll begin to read the funeral service over us.

NINIAN. Why not the wedding service?

DWIGHT. Ha, ha, ha!

NINIAN. I shouldn't object. Should you, Miss Lulu?

LULU. I–I don't know it so I can't say it.

NINIAN. I can say it.

DWIGHT. Where'd you learn it?

NINIAN. Goes like this: I, Ninian, take thee, Lulu, to be my wedded wife.

DWIGHT. Lulu don't dare say that.

NINIAN. Show him, Miss Lulu.

LULU. I, Lulu, take thee, Ninian, to be my wedded husband.

NINIAN. You will?

LULU. I will. There–I guess I can join in like the rest of you.

NINIAN. And I will. There, by Jove! have we entertained the company, or haven't we?

INA. Oh, honestly–I don't think you ought to–holy things so–what's the matter, Dwightie?

DWIGHT. Say, by George, you know, a civil wedding is binding in this state.

NINIAN. A civil wedding–oh, well–

DWIGHT. But I happen to be a magistrate.

INA. Why, Dwightie–why, Dwightie....

CORNISH. Mr. Deacon, this can't be possible.

DWIGHT. I tell you, what these two have said is all that they have to say according to law. And there don't have to be witnesses–say!

LULU. Don't... don't... don't let Dwight scare you.

NINIAN. Scare me! why, I think it's a good job done if you ask me. (Their eyes meet in silence.)

INA. Mercy, sister!

DWIGHT. Oh, well–I should say we can have it set aside up in the city and no one will be the wiser.

NINIAN. Set aside nothing. I'd like to see it stand.

INA. Ninian, are you serious?

NINIAN. Of course I'm serious.

INA. Lulu. You hear him? What are you going to say to that?

LULU. He isn't in earnest.

NINIAN. I am in earnest–hope to die.

LULU. Oh, no, no!

NINIAN. You come with me. We'll have it done over again somewhere if you say so.

LULU. Why–why–that couldn't be....

NINIAN. Why couldn't it be–why couldn't it?

LULU. How could you want me?

NINIAN. Didn't I tell you I liked you from the first minute I saw you?

LULU. Yes. Yes, you did. But–no, no. I couldn't let you–

NINIAN. Never mind that. Would you be willing to go with me? Would you?

LULU. But you–you said you wanted–oh, maybe you're just doing this because–

NINIAN. Lulu. Never mind any of that. Would you be willing to go with me?

LULU. Oh, if I thought–

NINIAN. Good girl–

INA. Why, Lulu. Why, Dwight. It can't be legal.

DWIGHT. Why? Because it's your sister? I've married dozens of couples this way. Dozens.

NINIAN. Good enough–eh, Lulu?

LULU. It's–it's all right, I guess.

DWIGHT. Well, I'll be dished.

CORNISH. Well, by Jerusalem....

INA. Sister!

NINIAN. I was going to make a trip south this month on my way home from here. Suppose we make sure of this thing and start right off. You'd like that, wouldn't you? Going to Savannah?

LULU. Yes, I'd like that.

NINIAN. Then that's checked off.

DWIGHT. I suppose we call off our trip to the city to-night then.

NINIAN. Call off nothing. Come along. Give us a send-off. You can shoot our trunks after us, can't you? All right, Miss Lulu–er–er, Mrs. Lulu?

LULU. If you won't be ashamed of me.

NINIAN. I can buy you some things in the city to-morrow.

LULU. Oh....

INA. Oh, mama, mama! Did you hear? Di! Aunt Lulu's married.

DI. Married? Aunt Lulu?

INA. Just now. Right here. By papa.

DI. Oh, to Mr. Cornish?

CORNISH. No, Miss Di. Don't you worry.

INA. To Ninian, mama. They've just been married–Lulu and Ninian.

MRS. BETT. Who's going to do your work?

LULU. Oh, mother dearest–I don't know who will. I ought not to have done this. Well, of course, I didn't do it–

MRS. BETT. I knew well enough you were all keeping something from me.

INA. But, mama! It was so sudden–

LULU. I never planned to do it, mother–not like this–

MRS. BETT. Well, Inie, I should think Lulie might have had a little more consideration to her than this. (At the window, behind the curtain, DI has just kissed BOBBY goodby.)

LULU. Mother dearest, tell me it's all right.

MRS. BETT. This is what comes of going to the theater.

LULU. Mother–

DWIGHT. Come on, everybody, if we're going to make that train.

NINIAN. Yes. Let's get out of this.

CORNISH. Come, Miss Di.

INA. Oh, I'm so flustrated!

DWIGHT. Come, come, come all! On to the festive city!

MONONA (dancing stiffly up and down). I was to a wedding! I was to a wedding!

NINIAN. Good-by, Mama Bett!

LULU. Mother, mother! Don't forget the two pies!




SIDE PORCH, wicker furnished. At the back are two windows, attractively curtained and revealing shaded lamps; between the windows a door, of good lines, set in white clapboards The porch is raised but a step or two. Low greenery, and a path leading off sharply left. It is evening, a month after LULU'S marriage. (Discover INA, DWIGHT, MRS. BETT and MONONA.)

INA. Dwight dear, the screen has never been put on that back window.

DWIGHT. Now, why can't my puss remind me of that in the morning instead of the only time I have to take my ease with my family.

INA. But, Dwight, in the mornings you are so busy–

DWIGHT. What an argumentative puss you are. By Jove! look at that rambler rosebush. It's got to be sprayed.

INA. You've said that every night for a week, Dwight....

DWIGHT. Don't exaggerate like that, Ina. It's bad for Monona.

INA. Dwight, look, quick. There go our new neighbors. They have a limousine–Perhaps I have been a little slow about calling. Look at them, Dwight!

DWIGHT. My dear Ina, I see them. Do you want me to pat them on the back?

INA. Well, I think you might be interested. (MONONA chants softly.) Dwight, I wonder if Monona really has a musical gift.

DWIGHT. She's a most unusual child. Do you know it? (Enter DI, from house.)

INA. Oh, they both are. Where are you going, I'd like to know?

DI. Mama, I have to go down to the liberry.

INA. It seems to me you have to go to the library every evening. Dwight, do you think she ought to go?

DWIGHT. Diana, is it necessary that you go?

DI. Well, everybody else goes, and–

INA. I will not have you downtown in the evenings.

DI. But you let me go last night.

INA. All the better reason why you should not go to-night.

MONONA. Mama, let me go with her.

INA. Very well, Di, you may go and take your sister.

MONONA. Goody, goody! last time you wouldn't let me go.

INA. That's why mama's going to let you go to-night.

DWIGHT. I thought you said the child must go to bed half an hour earlier because she wouldn't eat her egg.

INA. Yes, that's so, I did. Monona, you can't go.

MONONA. But I didn't want my egg–honest I didn't.

INA. Makes no difference. You must eat or you'll get sick. Mama's going to teach you to eat. Go on, Di, to the library if it's necessary.

DWIGHT. I suppose Bobby Larkin has to go to the library to-night, eh?

INA. Dwight, I wouldn't joke her about him. Scold her about him, the way you did this morning.

DI. But papa was cross about something else this morning. And to-night he isn't. Goody-by, Dwight and Ina! (Exit DI.)

MONONA. I hate the whole family.

MRS. BETT. Well, I should think she would.

INA. Why, mama! Why, Pettie Deacon! (MONONA weeps silently.)

DWIGHT (to INA). Say no more, my dear. It's best to overlook. Show a sweet spirit...

MRS. BETT. About as much like a father and mother as a cat and dog.

DWIGHT. We've got to learn–

MRS. BETT. Performin' like a pair of weathercocks. (Both talking at once.)

DWIGHT. Mother Bett! Are you talking, or am I?

MRS. BETT. I am. But you don't seem to know it.

DWIGHT. Let us talk, pussy, and she'll simmer down. Ah–nothing new from the bride and groom?

INA. No, Dwight. And it's been a week since Lulu wrote. She said he'd bought her a new red dress–and a hat. Isn't it too funny–to think of Lulu–

DWIGHT. I don't understand why they plan to go straight to Oregon without coming here first.

INA. It isn't a bit fair to mama, going off that way. Leaving her own mother–why, she may never see mama again.

MRS. BETT. Oh I'm going to last on quite a while yet.

DWIGHT. Of course you are, Mama Bett. You're my best girl. That reminds me, Ina, we must run up to visit Aunt Mollie. We ought to run up there next week. She isn't well.

INA. Let's do that. Dear me, I wish Lulu was here to leave in charge. I certainly do miss Lulu–lots of ways.

MRS. BETT. 'Specially when it comes mealtime.

INA. Is that somebody coming here?

DWIGHT. Looks like it–yes, so it is. Some caller, as usual. (Enter LULU.) Well, if it isn't Miss Lulu Bett!

INA. Why, sister!

MRS. BETT. Lulie. Lulie. Lulie.

LULU. How did you know?

INA. Know what?

LULU. That it isn't Lulu Deacon.

DWIGHT. What's this?

INA. Isn't Lulu Deacon. What are you talking?

LULU. Didn't he write to you?

DWIGHT. Not a word. All we've had we had from you–the last from Savannah, Georgia.

LULU. Savannah, Georgia....

DWIGHT. Well, but he's here with you, isn't he?

INA. Where is he? Isn't he here?

LULU. Must be most to Oregon by this time.

DWIGHT. Oregon?

LULU. You see, he had another wife.

INA. Another wife!

DWIGHT. Why, he had not!

LULU. Yes, another wife. He hasn't seen her for fifteen years and he thinks she's dead. But he isn't sure.

DWIGHT. Nonsense. Why of course she's dead if he thinks so.

LULU. I had to be sure.

INA. Monona! Go upstairs to bed at once.

MONONA. It's only quarter of.

INA. Do as mama tells you.


INA. Monona! (She goes, kissing them all good-night and taking her time about it. Everything is suspended while she kisses them and departs, walking slowly backward.)

MRS. BETT. Married? Lulie, was your husband married?

LULU. Yes, my husband was married, mother.

INA. Mercy, think of anything like that in our family.

DWIGHT. Well, go on–go on. Tell us about it.

LULU. We were going to Oregon. First down to New Orleans and then out to California and up the coast.... Well, then at Savannah, Georgia, he said he thought I better know first. So then he told me.

DWIGHT. Yes–well, what did he say?

LULU. Cora Waters. Cora Waters. She married him down in San Diego eighteen years ago. She went to South America with him.

DWIGHT. Well, he never let us know of it, if she did.

LULU. No. She married him just before he went. Then in South America, after two years, she ran away. That's all he knows.

DWIGHT. That's a pretty story.

LULU. He says if she was alive she'd be after him for a divorce. And she never has been so he thinks she must be dead. The trouble is he wasn't sure. And I had to be sure.

INA. Well, but mercy! Couldn't he find out now?

LULU. It might take a long time and I didn't want to stay and not know.

INA. Well then why didn't he say so here?

LULU. He would have. But you know how sudden everything was. He said he thought about telling us right here that afternoon when–when it happened, but of course that'd been hard, wouldn't it? And then he felt so sure she was dead.

INA. Why did he tell you at all then?

DWIGHT. Yes. Why indeed?

LULU. I thought that just at first but only just at first. Of course that wouldn't have been right. And then you see he gave me my choice.

DWIGHT. Gave you your choice?

LULU. Yes. About going on and taking the chances. He gave me my choice when he told me, there in Savannah, Georgia.

DWIGHT. What made him conclude by then that you ought to be told?

LULU. Why, he'd got to thinking about it. (A silence.) The only thing as long as it happened I kind of wish he hadn't told me till we got to Oregon.

INA. Lulu! Oh, you poor poor thing.... (MRS. BETT suddenly joins INA in tears, rocking her body.)

LULU. Don't, mother. Oh, Ina, don't. . . He felt bad too.

DWIGHT. He! He must have.

INA. It's you. It's you. My sister!

LULU. I never thought of it making you both feel bad. I knew it would make Dwight feel bad. I mean, it was his brother–

INA. Thank goodness! nobody need know about it.

LULU. Oh, yes. People will have to know.

DWIGHT. I do not see the necessity.

LULU. Why, what would they think?

DWIGHT. What difference does it make what they think?

LULU. Why, I shouldn't like–you see they might–why, Dwight, I think we'll have to tell them.

DWIGHT. You do. You think the disgrace of bigamy in this family is something the whole town will have to know about.

LULU. Say. I never thought about it being that.

DWIGHT. What did you think it was? And whose disgrace is it, pray?

LULU. Mine. And Ninian's.

DWIGHT. Ninian's. Well, he's gone. But you're here. And I'm here–and my family. Folks'll feel sorry for you. But this disgrace, that would reflect on me.

LULU. But if we don't tell what'll they think?

DWIGHT. They'll think what they always think when a wife leaves her husband. They'll think you couldn't get along. That's all.

LULU. I should hate that. I wouldn't want them to think I hadn't been a good wife to Ninian.

DWIGHT. Wife? You never were his wife. That's just the point.


DWIGHT. Don't you realize the position he's in?...See here–do you intend–Are you going to sue Ninian?

LULU. Oh! no! no! no!

INA. Why, Lulu, any one would think you loved him.

LULU. I do love him. And he loved me. Don't you think I know? He loved me.

INA. Lulu.

LULU. I love him–I do, and I'm not ashamed to tell you.

MRS. BETT. Lulie, Lulie, was his other wife–was she there?

LULU. No, no, mother. She wasn't there.

MRS. BETT. Then it ain't so bad. I was afraid maybe she turned you out.

LULU. No, no. It wasn't that bad, mother.

DWIGHT. In fact I simply will not have it, Lulu. You expect, I take it, to make your home with us in the future on the old terms.

LULU. Well–

DWIGHT. I mean did Ninian give you any money?

LULU. No. He didn't give me any money–only enough to get home on. And I kept my suit and the other dress–why! I wouldn't have taken any money.

DWIGHT. That means that you will have to continue to live here on the old terms and of course I'm quite willing that you should. Let me tell you, however, that this is on condition–on condition that this disgraceful business is kept to ourselves.

INA. Truly, Lulu, wouldn't that be best? They'll talk anyway. But this way they'll only talk about you and the other way it'll be about all of us.

LULU. But the other way would be the truth.

DWIGHT. My dear Lulu, are you sure of that?

LULU. Sure?

DWIGHT. Yes. Did he give you any proofs?

LULU. Proofs?

DWIGHT. Letters–documents of any sort? Any sort of assurance that he was speaking the truth?

LULU. Why–no. Proofs–no. He told me.

DWIGHT. He told you!

LULU. That was hard enough to have to do. It was terrible for him to have to do. What proofs–

DWIGHT. I may as well tell you that I myself have no idea that Ninian told you the truth. He was always imagining things, inventing things–you must have seen that. I know him pretty well–have been in touch with him more or less the whole time. In short I haven't the least idea he was ever married before.

LULU. I never thought of that.

DWIGHT. Look here–hadn't you and he had some little tiff when he told you?

LULU. No–no! Not once. He was very good to me. This dress–and my shoes–and my hat. And another dress, too. (She takes off her hat.) He liked the red wing–I wanted black–oh, Dwight! He did tell me the truth!

DWIGHT. As long as there's any doubt about it–and I feel the gravest doubts–I desire that you should keep silent and protect my family from this scandal. I have taken you into my confidence about these doubts for your own profit.

LULU. My own profit! (Moves toward the door.)

INA. Lulu–You see! We just couldn't have this known about Dwight's own brother, could we now?

DWIGHT. You have it in your own hands to repay me, Lulu, for anything that you feel I may have done for you in the past. You also have it in your hands to decide whether your home here continues. This is not a pleasant position for me to find myself in. In fact it is distinctly unpleasant I may say. But you see for yourself. (LULU goes into the house.)

MRS. BETT. Wasn't she married when she thought she was?

INA. Mama, do please remember Monona. Yes–Dwight thinks now she's married all right and that it was all right, all the time.

MRS. BETT. Well, I hope so, for pity sakes.

MONONA'S VOICE (from upstairs). Mama! Come on and hear me say my prayers, why don't you?



INA seated. MONONA jumping on and off the porch, chanting. (Enter DWIGHT.)

DWIGHT. Ah, this is great...no place like home after all, is there?

INA. Now Monona, sit down and be quiet. You've played enough for one day. (Enter MRS. BETT.)

MONONA. How do you know I have?

DWIGHT. Ah, Mama Bett. Coming out to enjoy the evening air?

MRS. BETT. No, I thank you.

DWIGHT. Well, well, well, let's see what's new in the great press of our country.... (They are now seated in the approximate positions assumed at the opening of SCENE I.)

INA. Dwight dear, nothing has been done about that screen for the back window.

DWIGHT. Now why couldn't my puss have reminded me of that this morning instead of waiting for the only time I have to take my ease with my family.

INA. But Dwightie, in the mornings you're so busy–

DWIGHT. You are argumentative, pussy–you certainly are. And you ought to curb it. For that matter I haven't sprayed that rambler rosebush.

INA. Every single night for a month you've spoken of spraying that rosebush.

DWIGHT. Ina, will you cease your exaggerations on Monona's account if not on mine. Exaggeration, my pet, is one of the worst of female faults. Exaggeration–

INA. Look, Dwight! our new neighbors have got a dog. Great big brute of a thing. He's going to tear up every towel I spread on our grass.... (Enter DI, from the house.) Now, Di, where are you going?

DI. Mama, I have to go down to the liberry.

INA. Now, Di–

DI. You let me go last night.

MONONA. Mama, I can go, can't I? Because you wouldn't let me go last night.

INA. No, Monona, you may not go.

MONONA. Oh, why not?

INA. Because mama says so. Isn't that enough?

MRS. BETT. Anybody'd think you was the king–layin' down the law en' layin' down the law en' layin' down–Where's Lulie?

DI. Mama, isn't Uncle Ninian coming back?

INA. Hush.... No. Now don't ask mama any more questions.

DI. But supposing people ask me. What'll I say?

INA. Don't say anything at all about Aunt Lulu.

DI. But, mama, what has she done?

INA. Di! Don't you think mama knows best?

DI (softly ). No, I don't.... Well anyway Aunt Lulu's got on a perfectly beautiful dress to-night....

INA. And you know, Dwight, Lulu's clothes give me the funniest feeling. As if Lulu was wearing things bought for her by some one that wasn't–that was–

DWIGHT. By her husband who has left her.

DI. Is that what it is, papa?

DWIGHT. That's what it is, my little girl.

DI. Well, I think it's a shame. And I think Uncle Ninian is a slunge.

INA. Di Deacon!

DI. I do! And I'd be ashamed to think anything else. I'd like to tell everybody.

DWIGHT. There's no need for secrecy now.

INA. Dwight, really–do you think we ought–

DWIGHT. No need whatever for secrecy. The truth is Lulu's husband has tired of her and sent her home. We may as well face it.

INA. But Dwight–how awful for Lulu...

DWIGHT. Lulu has us to stand by her. (Enter LULU.)

LULU. That sounds good. That I have you to stand by me.

DWIGHT. My dear Lulu, the family bond is the strongest bond in the world. Family. Tribe. The–er–pack. Standing up for the family honor, the family reputation is the highest nobility. (Exit DI by degrees. Left.) I tell you of all history the most beautiful product is the family tie. Of it are born family consideration–

INA. Why, you don't look like yourself...is it your hair, Lulu? You look so strange.

LULU. Don't you like it? Ninian liked it.

DWIGHT. In that case I think you'd show more modesty if you arranged your hair in the old way.

LULU. Yes, you would think so. Dwight, I want you to give me Ninian's Oregon address.

DWIGHT. You want what?

LULU. Ninian's Oregon address. It's a funny thing but I haven't it.

DWIGHT. It would seem that you have no particular need for that particular address.

LULU. Yes I have. I want it. You have it haven't you, Dwight?

DWIGHT. Certainly I have it.

LULU. Won't you please write it down for me? (She offers him tablet.)

DWIGHT. My dear Lulu, now why revive anything? No good can come by–

LULU. But why shouldn't I have his address?

DWIGHT. If everything is over between you why should you?

LULU. But you say he's still my husband.

DWIGHT. If my brother has shown his inclination as plainly as I judge that he has it is certainly not my place to put you in touch with him again.

LULU. I don't know whose place it is. But I've got to know more–I've got to know more, Dwight. This afternoon I went to the post office to ask for his address–it seemed so strange to be doing that, after all that's been–They didn't know his address–I could see how they wondered at my asking. And I knew how the others wondered–Mis' Martin, Mis' Curtis, Mis' Grove. "Where you hiding that handsome husband of yours?" they said. All I could say was that he isn't here. Dwight! I won't live like that. I want to know the truth. You give me Ninian's address.

DWIGHT. My dear Lulu! My dear Lulu! You are not the one to write to him. Have you no delicacy?

LULU. So much delicacy that I want to be sure whether I'm married or not.

DWIGHT. Then I myself will take this up with my brother. I will write to him about it.

LULU Here's everything–if you're going to write him, do it now.

DWIGHT. My dear Lulu! don't be absurd.

LULU. Ina! Help me! If this was Dwight–and they didn't know whether he had another wife or not and you wanted to ask him and you didn't know where he was–oh, don't you see? Help me.

INA. Well of course. I see it all, Lulu. And yet–why not let Dwight do it in his own way? Wouldn't that be better?

LULU. Mother!

MRS. BETT. Lulie. Set down. Set down, why don't you?

LULU. Dwight, you write that letter to Ninian. And you make him tell you so that you'll understand. I know he spoke the truth. But I want you to know.

DWIGHT. M–m. And then I suppose as soon as you have the proofs you're going to tell it all over town.

LULU. I'm going to tell it all over town just as it is–unless you write to him.

INA. Lulu! Oh, you wouldn't!

LULU. I would. I will.

DWIGHT. And get turned out of the house as you would be?

INA. Dwight. Oh, you wouldn't!

DWIGHT. I would. I will. Lulu knows it.

LULU. I shall tell what I know and then leave your house anyway unless you get Ninian's word. And you're going to write to him now.

DWIGHT. You would leave your mother? And leave Ina?

LULU. Leave everything.

INA. Oh, Dwight! We can't get along without Lulu.

DWIGHT. Isn't this like a couple of women?...Rather than let you in for a show of temper, Lulu, I'd do anything. ( Writes.)

MONONA (behind INA). Mama, can I write Uncle Ninian a little letter, too?

INA. For pity sakes, aren't you in bed yet?

MONONA. It's only quarter of.

INA. Well you may go to bed now because you have sat there listening. How often must mama tell you not to listen to grown people.

MONONA. Do they always say something bad?

INA. Monona, you are to go up to bed at once. (She makes her leisurely rounds for kisses )

MONONA. Papa, it's your turn to hear me say my prayers to-night.

DWIGHT. Very well, pettie. When you're ready call me. (Exit MONONA.) There Lulu. The deed is done. Now I hope you're satisfied. (Places the letter in his pocket.)

LULU. I want you to give me the letter to mail, please.

DWIGHT. Why this haste, sister mine? I'll mail it in the morning.

LULU. I'll mail it now. Now.

DWIGHT. I may take a little stroll before bedtime–I'll mail it then. There's nothing like a brisk walk to induce sound restful sleep.

LULU. I'll mail the letter now.

DWIGHT. I suppose I'll have to humor your sister, Ina. Purely on your account you understand. (Hands the letter.)

INA. Oh, Dwight, how good you are!

LULU. There's–there's one thing more I want to speak about. If–if you and Ina go to your Aunt Mollie's then Ninian's letter might come while you're away.

DWIGHT. Conceivably. Letters do come while a man's away.

LULU. Yes. And I thought if you wouldn't mind if I opened it–

DWIGHT. Opened it? Opened my letter?

LULU. Yes, you see it'll be about me mostly. You wouldn't mind if I did open it?

DWIGHT. But you say you know what will be in it, Miss Bett?

LULU. I did know till you–I've got to see that letter, Dwight.

DWIGHT. And so you shall. But not until I show it to you. My dear Lulu, you know how I hate having my mail interfered with. You shall see the letter all in good time when Ina and I return.

LULU. You wouldn't want to let me–just see what he says?

DWIGHT. I prefer always to open my own letters.

LULU. Very well, Dwight. (She moves away. Right.)

INA. And Lulu, I meant to ask you: Don't you think it might be better if you–if you kept out of sight for a few days?

LULU. Why?

INA. Why set people wondering till we have to?

LULU. They don't have to wonder as far as I'm concerned. (Exit.)

MRS. BETT. I'm going through the kitchen to set with Grandma Gates. She always says my visits are like a dose of medicine. (Exit MRS. BETT.)

INA. It certainly has changed Lulu–a man coming into her life. She never spoke to me like that before.

DWIGHT. I saw she wasn't herself. I'd do anything to avoid having a scene–you know that.... You do know that, don't you?

INA. But I really think you ought to have written to Ninian. It's–it's not a nice position for Lulu.

DWIGHT. Nice! But whom has she got to blame for it?

INA. Why, Ninian.

DWIGHT. Herself! To tell you the truth, I was perfectly amazed at the way she snapped him up here that afternoon.

INA. Why, but Dwight–

DWIGHT. Brazen. Oh, it was brazen.

INA. It was just fun in the first place.

DWIGHT. But no really nice woman–

INA. Dwightie–what did you say in the letter?

DWIGHT. What did I say? I said, I said: "DEAR BROTHER, I take it that the first wife story was devised to relieve you of a distasteful situation. Kindly confirm. Family well as usual. Business fair." Covers it, don't it?

INA. Oh, Dwightie–how complete that is.

DWIGHT. I'm pretty good at writing brief concise letters–that say the whole thing, eh?

INA. I've often noticed that....

DWIGHT. My precious pussy.... Oh, how unlike Lulu you are! (Right. DI and BOBBY appear, walking very slowly and very near.) (DWIGHT rises, holds out his arms.)

INA. Poor dear foolish Lulu! oh, Dwight–what if it was Di in Lulu's place?

DWIGHT. Such a thing couldn't happen to Di. Di was born with ladylike feelings. (They enter the house. INA extinguishes a lamp. DWIGHT turns down the hall gas. Pause. DI and BOBBY come to the veranda.)

DI. Bobby dear! You don't kiss me as if you really wanted to kiss me to-night....



THE SAME. Evening, a week later. Stage flooded with moonlight, house lighted. At the piano, just inside the window, LULU and CORNISH are finishing a song together, LULU accompanying.

How sweet the happy evening's close,
'Tis the hour of sweet repose–

The summer wind has sunk to rest,
The moon serenely bright
Unfolds her calm and gentle ray,
Softly now she seems to say,

(As they sing, DI slips into the house, unseen.)

CORNISH. Why, Miss Lulu, you're quite a musician.

LULU. Oh, no. I've never played in front of anybody–(They come to the porch.) I don't know what Ina and Dwight would say if they heard me.

CORNISH. What a pretty dress that is, Miss Lulu!

LULU. I made this from one of Ina's old ones since she's been gone. I don't know what Ina and Dwight are going to say about this dress, made like this, when they get home.

CORNISH. When are they coming back?

LULU. Any time now. They've been gone most a week. Do you know I never had but one compliment before that wasn't for my cooking.

CORNISH. You haven t!

LULU. He told me I done up my hair nice. That was after I took notice how the ladies in Savannah, Georgia, done up theirs.

CORNISH. I guess you can do most anything you set your hand to, Miss Lulu: Look after Miss Di and sing and play and cook–

LULU. Yes, cook. But I can't earn anything. I'd like to earn something.

CORNISH. You would! Why, you have it fine here, I thought.

LULU. Oh, fine, yes. Dwight gives me what I have. And I do their work.

CORNISH. I see. I never thought of that.... (Pause.)

LULU. You're wondering why I didn't stay with him!

CORNISH. Oh, no.

LULU. Yes you are! The whole town's wondering. They're all talking about me.

CORNISH. Well, Miss Lulu, you know it don't make any difference to your friends what people say.

LULU. But they don't know the truth. You see, he had another wife.

CORNISH. Lord sakes!

LULU. Dwight thinks it isn't true. He thinks–he didn't have another wife.... You see, Dwight thinks he didn't want me.

CORNISH. But–your husband–I mean, why doesn't he write to Mr. Deacon and tell him the truth–

LULU. He has written. The letter's in there on the piano.

CORNISH. What'd he say?

LULU. Dwight doesn't like me to touch his mail. I'll have to wait till he comes back.

CORNISH. Lord sakes!...You–you–you're too nice a girl to get a deal like this. Darned if you aren't.

LULU. Oh, no.

CORNISH. Yes you are, tool And there ain't a thing I can do.

LULU. It's a good deal to have somebody to talk to....

CORNISH. Sure it is.

LULU.... Cora Waters. Cora Waters, of San Diego, California. And she never heard of me.

CORNISH. No. She never did, did she? Ain't life the darn–

(Enter MRS. BETT.)

MRS. BETT. I got Monona into bed. And it's no fool of a job neither.

LULU. Did you, mother? Come and sit down.

MRS. BETT. Yes. She went to bed with a full set of doll dishes.... Ain't it nice with the folks all gone?...I don't hear any more playin' and singin'. It sounded real good.

LULU. We sung all I knew how to play, mama.

MRS. BETT. I use' to play on the melodeon.

CORNISH. Well, well, well.

MRS. BETT. That was when I was first married. We had a little log house in a clearing in York State. I was seventeen–and he was nineteen. While he was chopping I use' to sit on a log with my sewing. Jenny was born in that house. I was alone at the time. I was alone with her when she died, too. She was sixteen–little bits of hands she had–(Yawns. Rises, wanders toward door.) Can't we have some more playin' and singin'?

LULU. After a little while, mama–dear.

MRS. BETT. It went kind of nice–that last tune you sung. (Hums the air. Enters house.)

CORNISH. I must be going along too, Miss Lulu.

LULU. I can't think why Di doesn't come. She ought not to be out like this without telling me.

(MRS. BETT appears beside the piano, lifts and examines the letters lying there.)

CORNISH. Well, don't you mind on my account. I've enjoyed every minute I've been here.

LULU. Mother! Those are Dwight's letters–don't you touch them.

MRS. BETT. I ain't hurting them or him either. (Disappears, the letters in her hand.)

CORNISH. Good-night, Miss Lulu. If there was anything I could do at any time you'd let me know, wouldn't you?

LULU. Oh, thank you.

CORNISH. I've had an awful nice time, singing, and listening to you talk–well of course–I mean the supper was just fine! And so was the music.

LULU. Oh, no.

(MRS. BETT appears at the door with a letter.)

MRS. BETT. Lulie. I guess you didn't notice. This one's from Ninian.

LULU. Mother–

MRS. BETT. I opened it–why of course I did. It's from Ninian. (Holds out unfolded letters and an old newspaper clipping.) The paper's awful old–years back, looks like. See. Says "Corie Waters, music hall singer–married last night to Ninian Deacon"–Say, Lulie, that must be her.

LULU. Yes, that's her. That's her–Cora Waters.... Oh, then he was married to her just like he said!

CORNISH. Oh, Miss Lulu! I'm so sorry!

LULU. No, no. Because he wanted me! He didn't say that just to get rid of me!

CORNISH. Oh, that way.... I see....

LULU. I'm so thankful it wasn't that.

MRS. BETT. Then everything's all right onct more. Ain't that nice!

LULU. I'm so thankful it wasn't that.

CORNISH. Yes, I can understand that. Well, I–I guess I ought to be going now, Miss Lulu.... Why, it is Miss Lulu Bett, isn't it?

LULU (abstractedly, with the paper). Yes–yes–good-night, Mr. Cornish. Good-night.

CORNISH. Good-night, Miss Lulu.... I wonder if you would let me tell you something.

LULU. Why–

CORNISH. I guess I don't amount to much. I'll never be a lawyer. I'm no good at business and everything I say sounds wrong to me. And yet I do believe I do know enough not to bully a woman–not to make her unhappy, maybe even–I could make her a little happy. Miss Lulu, I hate to see you looking and talking so sad. Do you think we could possibly arrange–


CORNISH. I guess maybe you've heard something about a little something I'm supposed to inherit. Well, I got it. Of course, it's only five hundred dollars. We could get that little Warden house and furnish up the parlor with pianos–that is, if you could ever think of marrying me.

LULU. Don't say that–don't say that!

MRS. BETT. Better take him, Lulie. A girl ought to take any young man that will propose in front of her mother!

CORNISH. Of course if you loved him very much then I'd ought not to be talking this way to you.

LULU. You see Ninian was the first person who was ever kind to me. Nobody ever wanted me, nobody ever even thought of me. Then he came. It might have been somebody else. It might have been you. But it happened to be Ninian and I do love him.

CORNISH. I see. I guess you'll forgive me for what I said.

LULU. Of course.

CORNISH. Miss Lulu, if that five hundred could be of any use to you, I wish you'd take it.

LULU. Oh, thank you, thank you, I couldn't.

CORNISH. Well, I guess I'll be stepping along. If you should want me, I'm always there. I guess you know that. (Exit.)

MRS. BETT. Better burn that up. I wouldn't have it round.

LULU. But mother! Mother dear, try to understand. This means that Ninian told the truth. He wasn't just trying to get rid of me.

MRS. BETT. Did he want you to stay with him?

LULU. I don't know. But I think he did. Anyway, now I know the truth about him.

MRS. BETT. Well, I wouldn't want anybody else to know. Here, let me have it and burn it up.

LULU. Mama, mama! Aren't you glad for me that now I can prove Ninian wasn't just making up a story so I'd go away?

MRS. BETT (clearly and beautifully). Oh, Lulu! My little girl! Is that what they said about you? Mother knows it wasn't like that. Mother knows he loved you.... How still it is here! Where's Inie?

LULU. They've gone away, you know....

MRS. BETT. Well, I guess I'll step over to Grandma Gates's a spell. See how her rheumatism is. I'll be back before long–I'll be back.... (Exit. For a moment LULU breaks down and sobs. Rises to lay DWIGHT'S letter through the window on piano. Slight sound. She listens. Enter DI from house. She is carrying a traveling bag.)

LULU. Di! Why Di! What does this mean? Where were you going? Why, mama won't like your carrying her nice new satchel....

DI. Aunt Lulu–the idea. What right have you to interfere with me like this?

LULU. Di, you must explain to me what this means.... Di, where can you be going with a satchel this time of the night? Di Deacon, are you running away with somebody?

DI. You have no right to ask me questions, Aunt Lulu.

LULU. Di, you're going off with Bobby Larkin. Aren't you? Aren't you?

DI. If I am it's entirely our own affair.

LULU. Why, Di. If you and Bobby want to be married why not let us get you up a nice wedding here at home–

DI. Aunt Lulu, you're a funny person to be telling me what to do.

LULU. I love you just as much as if I was married happy, in a home.

DI. Well, you aren't. And I'm going to do just as I think best. Bobby and I are the ones most concerned in this, Aunt Lulu.

LULU. But–but getting married is for your whole life!

DI. Yours wasn't.

LULU. Di, my dear little girl, you must wait at least till mama and papa get home.

DI. That's likely. They say I'm not to be married till I'm twenty-one.

LULU. Well, but how young that is.

DI. It is to you. It isn't young to me, remember, Aunt Lulu.

LULU. But this is wrong–it is wrong!

DI. There's nothing wrong about getting married if you stay married.

LULU. Well, then it can't be wrong to let your mother and father know.

DI. It isn't. But they'd treat me wrong. Mama'd cry and say I was disgracing her. And papa–first he'd scold me and then he'd joke me about it. He'd joke me about it every day for weeks, every morning at breakfast, every night here on the porch–he'd joke me.

LULU. Why, Di! Do you feel that way, too?

DI. You don't know what it is to be laughed at or paid no attention to, everything you say.

LULU. Don't I? Don't I? Is that why you're going?

DI. Well, it's one reason.

LULU. But Di, do you love Bobby Larkin?

DI. Well.... I could love almost anybody real nice that was nice to me.

LULU. Di... Di....

DI. It's true. (BOBBY enters.) You ought to know that.... You did it. Mama said so.

LULU. Don't you think that I don't know....

DI. Oh, Bobby, she's trying to stop us! But she can't do it–I've told her so–

BOBBY. She don't have to stop us. We're stopped.

DI. What do you mean?

BOBBY. We're minors.

DI. Well, gracious–you didn't have to tell them that.

BOBBY. No. They knew I was.

DI. But, silly. Why didn't you tell them you're not.

BOBBY. But I am.

DI. For pity sakes–don't you know how to do anything?

BOBBY. What would you have me do, I'd like to know?

DI. Why tell them we're both–whatever it is they want us to be. We look it. We know we're responsible–that's all they care for. Well, you are a funny....

BOBBY. You wanted me to lie?

DI. Oh! don't make out you never told a fib.

BOBBY. Well, but this–why, Di–about a thing like this....

DI. I never heard of a lover flatting out like that!

BOBBY. Anyhow, there's nothing to do now. The cat's out. I've told our ages. We've got–to have our folks in on it.

DI. Is that all you can think of?

BOBBY. What else is there to think of?

DI. Why, let's go to Bainbridge or Holt and tell them we're of age and be married there.

LULU. Di, wherever you go I'll go with you. I won't let you out of my sight.

DI. Bobby, why don't you answer her?

BOBBY. But I'm not going to Bainbridge or Holt or any town and lie, to get you or any other girl.

DI. You're about as much like a man in a story as–as papa is.

(Enter DWIGHT and INA.)

DWIGHT. What's this? What's this about papa?

INA. Well, what's all this going on here?

LULU. Why, Ina!

DI. Oh, mama! I–I didn't know you were coming so soon. Hello, dear! Hello, papa! Here's–here's Bobby....

DWIGHT. What an unexpected pleasure, Master Bobby.

BOBBY. Good-evening, Mrs. Deacon. Good evening, Mr. Deacon.

DWIGHT. And Lulu. Is it Lulu? Is this lovely houri our Lulu? Is this Miss Lulu Bett? Or is this Lulu something else by now? You can't tell what Lulu'll do when you leave her alone at home. Ina–our festive ball gown!

LULU. Ina, I made it out of that old muslin of yours, you know. I thought you wouldn't care–

INA. Oh, that! I was going to use it for Di but it doesn't matter. You are welcome to it, Lulu. Little youthful for anything but home wear, isn't it?

DWIGHT. It looks like a wedding gown. Why are you wearing a wedding gown–eh, Lulu?

INA. Di Deacon, what have you got mama's new bag for?

DI. I haven't done anything to the bag, mama.

INA. Well, but what are you doing with it here?

DI. Oh, nothing! Did you–did you have a good time?

INA. Yes, we did–but I can't see... Dwight, look at Di with my new black satchel.

DWIGHT. What is this, Diana?

DI. Well, I'm–I'm not going to use it for anything.

INA. I wish somebody would explain what is going on here. Lulu, can't you explain?

DWIGHT. Aha! Now, if Lulu is going to explain that's something like it. When Lulu begins to explain we get imagination going.

LULU. Di and I have a little secret. Can't we have a little secret if we want one?

DWIGHT. Upon my word, she has a beautiful secret. I don't know about your secrets, Lulu.

(Enter MRS. BETT.)

MRS. BETT. Hello, Inie.

INA. Oh, mother dear....

DWIGHT. Well, Mother Bett....

MRS. BETT. That you, Dwight? ( To BOBBY.)... Don't you help me. I guess I can help myself yet awhile. (Climbs the two steps.) (To DI.) Made up your mind to come home; did you? (Scats herself.) I got a joke. Grandma Gates says it's all over town they wouldn't give Di and Bobby Larkin a license to get married. (Single note of laughter, thin and high.)

DWIGHT. What nonsense!

INA. Is it nonsense? Haven't I been trying to find out where the new black bag went? Di! Look at mama....

DI. Listen to that, Bobby. Listen!

INA. That won't do, Di. You can't deceive mama, and don't you try.

BOBBY. Mrs. Deacon, I–

DWIGHT. Diana!

DI. Yes, papa.

DWIGHT. Answer your mother. Answer me. Is there anything in this absurd tale?

DI. No, papa.

DWIGHT. Nothing whatever?

DI. No, papa.

DWIGHT. Can you imagine how such a ridiculous story started?

DI. No, papa.

DWIGHT. Very well. Now we know where we are. If anybody hears this report repeated, send them to me.

INA. Well, but that satchel–

DWIGHT. One moment. Lulu will of course verify what the child has said.

LULU. If you cannot settle this with Di, you cannot settle it with me.

DWIGHT. A shifty answer. You're a bird at misrepresenting facts....

LULU. Oh!...

DWIGHT. Lulu, the bird!

LULU. Lulu, the dove to put up with you. (Exit.)

INA. Bobby wanted to say something....

BOBBY. No, Mrs. Deacon. I have nothing–more to say. I'll–I'll go now.

DWIGHT. Good-night, Robert.

(INA and DWIGHT transfer bags and wraps to the house.)

BOBBY. Good-night, Mr. Deacon. Good-by, Di.

(DI follows BOBBY. Right.)

DI. Bobby, come back, you hate a lie–but what else could I do?

BOBBY. What else could you do? I'd rather they never let us see each other again than to lose in the way I've lost you now.

DI. Bobby!

BOBBY. It's true. We mustn't talk about it.

DI. Bobby! I'll go back and tell them all.

BOBBY. You can't go back. Not out of a thing like that. Good-by, Di. (Exit.)

(Enter DWIGHT and INA.)

DI. If you have any fear that I may elope with Bobby Larkin, let it rest. I shall never marry him if he asks me fifty times a day.

INA. Really, darling?

DI. Really and truly, and he knows it, too.

DWIGHT. A-ha! The lovelorn maiden all forlorn makes up her mind not to be so lorn as she thought she was. How does it seem not to be in love with him, Di–eh?

DI. Papa, if you make fun of me any more I'll–I'll let the first train of cars I can find run over me.... (Sobs as she runs to house.)

MRS. BETT. Wait, darling! Tell grandma! Did Bobby have another wife too?

(Exeunt MRS. BETT and DI.)

INA. Di, I'd be ashamed, when papa's so good to you. Oh, my! what parents have to put up with....

DWIGHT. Bear and forbear, pettie–bear and forbear.... By the way, Lulu, haven't I some mail somewhere about?

LULU. Yes, there's a letter there. I'll get it for you. (She reaches through the window.)

DWIGHT. A-ha! An epistle from my dear brother Ninian.

INA. Oh, from Ninian, Dwight?

DWIGHT. From Ninian–the husband of Miss Lulu Bett.... You opened the letter?...Your sister has been opening my mail.

INA. But, Dwight, if it's from Ninian–

DWIGHT. It is my mail.

INA. Well, what does he say?

DWIGHT. I shall read the letter in my own time. My present concern is this disregard for my wishes. What excuse have you to offer?

LULU. None.

INA. Dwight, she knows what's in it and we don't. Hurry up.

DWIGHT. She is an ungrateful woman. (Opens the letter, with the clipping.)

INA (over his shoulder). Ah!...Dwight, then he was...

DWIGHT. M–m–m–m. So after having been absent with my brother for a month you find that you were not married to him.

LULU. You see, Dwight, he told the truth. He did have another wife. He didn't just leave me.

DWIGHT. But this seems to me to make you considerably worse off than if he had.

LULU. Oh, no! No! If he hadn't–hadn't liked me, he wouldn't have told me about her. You see that, don't you?

DWIGHT. That your apology?...Look here, Lulu! This is a bad business. The less you say about it the better for all our sakes. You see that, don't you?

LULU. See that? Why, no. I wanted you to write to him so I could tell the truth. You said I mustn't tell the truth till I had the proofs.

DWIGHT. Tell whom?

LULU. Tell everybody. I want them to know.

DWIGHT. Then you care nothing for our feelings in this matter?

LULU. Your feelings?

DWIGHT. How this will reflect on us–it's nothing to you that we have a brother who's a bigamist?

LULU. But it's me–it's me.

DWIGHT. You! You're completely out of it. You've nothing more to say about it whatever. Just let it be as it is...drop it. That's all I suggest.

LULU. I want people to know the truth.

DWIGHT. But it's nobody's business but our business...for all our sakes let us drop this matter.... Now I tell you, Lulu–here are three of us. Our interests are the same in this thing–only Ninian is our relative and he's nothing to you now. Is he?

LULU. Why–

DWIGHT. Let's have a vote. Your snap judgment is to tell this disgraceful fact broadcast. Mine is, least said soonest mended. What do you say, Ina?

INA. Oh, goodness–if we get mixed up in a scandal like this we'll never get away from it. Why, I wouldn't have people know of it for worlds.

DWIGHT. Exactly. Ina has stated it exactly. Lulu, I think you should be reconciled.

INA. My poor, poor sister! Oh, Dwight! when I think of it–what have I done, what have I've done–that I should have a good kind loving husband–be so protected, so loved, when other women... Darling! You know how sorry I am–we all are–

LULU. Then give me the only thing I've got–that's my pride. My pride that he didn't want to get rid of me.

DWIGHT. What about my pride? Do you think I want everybody to know that my brother did a thing like that?

LULU. You can't help that.

DWIGHT. But I want you to help it. I want you to promise me that you won't shame us like this before all our friends.

LULU. You want me to promise what?

DWIGHT. I want you–I ask you to promise me that you will keep this with us–a family secret.

LULU. No! No! I won't do it! I won't do it! I won't do it!

DWIGHT. You refuse to do this small thing for us?

LULU. Can't you understand anything? I've lived here all my life–on your money. I've not been strong enough to work they say–well, but I've been strong enough to be a hired girl in your house–and I've been glad to pay for my keep.... But there wasn't a thing about it that I liked. Nothing about being here that I liked.... Well, then I got a little something, same as other folks. I thought I was married and I went off on the train and he bought me things and I saw different towns. And then it was all a mistake. I didn't have any of it. I came back here and went into your kitchen again–I don't know why I came back. I suppose it's because I'm most thirty-four and new things ain't so easy any more–but what have I got or what'll I ever have? And now you want to put on to me having folks look at me and think he run off and left me and having them all wonder. I can't stand it. I can't stand it. I can't....

DWIGHT. You'd rather they'd know he fooled you when he had another wife?

LULU. Yes. Because he wanted me. How do I know–maybe he wanted me only just because he was lonesome, the way I was. I don't care why. And I won't have folks think he went and left me.

DWIGHT. That is wicked vanity.

LULU. That's the truth. Well, why can't they know the truth?

DWIGHT. And bring disgrace on us all?

LULU. It's me–It's me–

DWIGHT. You–you–you–you're always thinking of yourself.

LULU. Who else thinks of me? And who do you think of–who do you think of Dwight? I'll tell you that, because I know you better than any one else in the world knows you–better even than Ina. And I know that you'd sacrifice Ina, Di, mother, Monona, Ninian–everybody, just to your own idea of who you are. You're one of the men who can smother a whole family and not even know you're doing it.

DWIGHT. You listen to me. It's Ninian I'm thinking about.

LULU. Ninian....

DWIGHT. Yes, yes...Ninian!...Of course if you don't care what happens to him, it doesn't matter.

LULU. What do you mean?

DWIGHT. If you don't love him any more....

LULU. You know I love him. I'll always love him.

DWIGHT. That's likely. A woman doesn't send the man she loves to prison.

LULU. I send him to prison! Why, he's brought me the only happiness I've ever had....

DWIGHT. But prison is just where he'll go and you'll be the one to send him there.

LULU. Oh! That couldn't be.... That couldn't be....

DWIGHT. Don't you realize that bigamy is a crime? If you tell this thing he'll go to prison...nothing can save him.

LULU. I never thought of that....

DWIGHT. It's time you did think. Now will you promise to keep this with us, a family secret?

LULU. Yes. I promise.

DWIGHT. You will?...

LULU. Yes... I will.

DWIGHT. A...h. You'll be happy some day to think you've done this for us, Lulu.

LULU. I s'pose so....

INA. This makes up for everything. My sweet self-sacrificing sister!

LULU. Oh, stop that!

INA. Oh, the pity of it... the pity of it!...

LULU. Don't you go around pitying me! I'll have you know I'm glad the whole thing happened.



(revised version)

THE SAME. Discover MRS. BETT, tidying the porch and singing. It is the following morning.

(Enter LULU with bag.)

MRS. BETT. Where you going now, for pity sakes?

LULU. Mother. Now, mother darling, listen and try to understand.

MRS. BETT. Well, I am listening, Lulie.

LULU. Mother, I can't stay here. I can't stay here any longer. I've got to get clear away from Dwight and Ina.

MRS. BETT. You want to live somewhere else, Lulie?

LULU. I can't live here and have people think Ninian left me. I can't tell the truth and bring disgrace on Ninian. And I can't stay here in Dwight's kitchen a day longer. Oh, mother! I wish you could see–

MRS. BETT. Why, Lulie, I do see that.

LULU. You do, mother?

MRS. BETT. I've often wondered why you didn't go before.

LULU. Oh, mother, you dear–

MRS. BETT. You needn't think because I'm old I don't know a thing or two.

LULU. You want me to go?

MRS. BETT. It's all I can do for you now, Lulie. Just to want you to go. I'm old and I'm weak and I can't keep care of you like when you was little.

LULU. Oh, mother, I'm so glad!

MRS. BETT. I ain't exactly glad–

LULU. Dearest, I mean I was so afraid you wouldn't understand–

MRS. BETT. Why wouldn't I understand, I'd like to know? You speak like I didn't have a brain in my skull.

LULU. No, dear, but–

MRS. BETT. You mind me, Lulie, and go on. Go on.... Say, scat's sake, you can't go. You ain't got any money.

LULU. Yes, mother, I have. I've got twelve dollars.

MRS. BETT. And I ain't got much. Only enough to bury me nice.

LULU. Don't you worry, mother. I'll be all right. I'll get work.

MRS. BETT. Mother wants to help you. Here, Lulie, you take my funeral fifty. Joke on Dwight to make him bury me.

LULU. Oh, no, mother, I couldn't.

MRS. BETT. You mind me, Lulie. Do as mother tells you.

LULU. Mother, dearest! Oh, I wish I could take you with me!

MRS. BETT. You needn't to worry about me. If I get lonesome I can give Dwight the dickens.

LULU. Good-by–dear–good-by. I'll go the back way, they won't see me. (LULU kisses her and turns away. Left.)

MRS. BETT. Lulie. Mother loves you. You know that, don't you?

LULU. Dearest, yes–yes, I do know. (She goes. MRS. BETT trembles, turns, sees her dustcloth, goes on working and begins to hum.)

(Enter DWIGHT.)

DWIGHT. Ready for breakfast, Mama Bett?

MRS. BETT. No, I ain't ready.

DWIGHT. Neither is the breakfast. Lulu must be having the tantrum.

MRS. BETT. I s'pose you think that's funny.

DWIGHT. Lulu ought to think of you–old folks ought to have regular meals–

MRS. BETT. Old? Old? Me, old?

DWIGHT. Well, you're hungry. That's what makes you so cross, Mama Bett.

MRS. BETT. All you think of is food, anyhow.

DWIGHT. Who has a better right? Who provides the food we eat?

MRS. BETT. That's all you're good for.

DWIGHT. Well, I may not amount to much in this old world of ours but I flatter myself I'm a good provider.

MRS. BETT. If I was going to brag I'd brag original.

DWIGHT. You mustn't talk like that. You know you're my best girl.

MRS. BETT. Don't you best-girl me.

DWIGHT. There, there, there....

MRS. BETT. Now look at you. Walking all over me like I wasn't here–like I wasn't nowhere.

DWIGHT. Now, Mama Bett, you're havin' the tantrum.

MRS. BETT. Am I? All right then I am. What you going to do about it? How you going to stop me?

DWIGHT. Now, now, now, now....

(Enter INA.)

INA. Dwight, I can't think what's happened to Lulu. Breakfast isn't even started.

DWIGHT. Lulu must be having a rendezvous.

(Grandma snorts.)

INA. That's randevoo, Dwightie. Not rendezvous.

DWIGHT. You two are pretty particular, seems to me.

MRS. BETT. Oh, no! We ain't used to the best.

(DI is at the door.)

DI. Hello, family! What's the matter with breakfast?

MRS. BETT. There ain't any.

INA. Di, let's you and I get breakfast just to show Aunt Lulu that we can.

MRS. BETT. Say if you two are going to get breakfast, I'll go over to Grandma Gates for a snack.

(Enter MONONA.)

MONONA. What do you s'pose? Aunt Lulu's trunk is locked and strapped in her room.

INA. Monona, stop imagining things.

MONONA. Well, it is. And I saw her going down the walk with her satchel when I was washing me.

DWIGHT. Lulu must be completely out of her mind.

MRS. BETT. First time I've known her to show good sense in years.

INA. Why, mama!

DWIGHT. Mother Bett, do you know where Lulu is?

MRS. BETT. Mother knows a-plenty.

INA. Mama, what do you mean?

MRS. BETT. I know all about Lulie being gone. She went this morning. I told her to go.

INA. Why, mama! How can you talk so! When Dwight has been so good to you and Lulu....

MRS. BETT. Good, yes, he's give us a pillow and a baked potato–

DWIGHT. So! You and Lulu presume to upset the arrangement of my household without one word to me.

MRS. BETT. Upset, upset–You cockroach!...

INA. Monona! Stop listening. Now run away and play. Di, you go and begin breakfast.

DI. Yes, mummy.

MONONA. Aw, let me stay.

INA. (Exeunt DI and MONONA.) Go at once, children. Mother, you ought not to use such language before young people.

MRS. BETT. Don't you think they're fooled. What do you suppose Di was going to run away with Bobby Larkin for, only to get away from you.

DWIGHT. Mother Bett!

MRS. BETT. What do you suppose Lulu married Ninian for–only to get shed of both of you.

INA. Oh please, please, somebody think a little bit of me. Dwight, do go after Lulu–go to the depot–she couldn't get away before the 8:37.

DWIGHT. My dear Ina, my dignity–

INA. Oh, please do go!

DWIGHT. Oh, my heavens! what a house full of women–

INA. Dwight, we can't get along without Lulu.

DWIGHT. Upsetting things about my ears. . .. (Exit.)

INA. Mama, I do think it's too bad of you–oh! now I'll try to get some breakfast. (Exit.)

MRS. BETT. Going to try to, he-e!

(Enter MONONA.)

MONONA. Oh, grandma isn't it fun with so much going on!

MRS. BETT. What's that, you little ape?

MONONA. Oh, I just love it! Everybody makes such funny faces.

MRS. BETT. Some people are born with funny faces. Monona, ain't you ever going to grow up?

MONONA. Grandma, I am grown up.

MRS. BETT. You don't act like it.

MONONA. Well, grown folks don't neither.

MRS. BETT. Sh-hh-hhh, stop talking back to me.

MONONA. Everybody shushes me. If I don't talk, how'll they know I'm there?

MRS. BETT. I guess they could bear up if they didn't know you was there.

MONONA. I'd better get in, or I'll catch it. (MONONA sings a silly song.)

MRS. BETT (rocking in rhythm with the song). Scot's sake, what am I doing! Them wicked words.

(Enter DI.)

DI. Monona, mama wants you.

MONONA. I'd better go or I'll catch it. I'll catch it anyway–(Exit.)

(Enter NINIAN.)

DI. Uncle Ninian! Well it's just about time you showed up.

NINIAN. You're right, Di. But I came as soon as I could.

DI. You might as well know. I think you're a perfect slunge.

MRS. BETT. Land sakes!

NINIAN. Mrs. Bett.

MRS. BETT. Don't you come near me! Don't you speak to me! You whited centipede!

NINIAN. That's what I expected and that's what I deserve.

MRS. BETT. Move on! Move on!

NINIAN. Let me tell you something first, Mother Bett.

MRS. BETT. Don't you "mother" me.

NINIAN. Yes, that's just what I mean, Mother Bett. I've found that the woman I married died in Rio years ago. Here's a letter from the consul.

MRS. BETT. Dead? Ain't that nice! But what ailed you all the time? A man with any get-up-and-get would have known that all along.

NINIAN. I'm not excusing myself any, Mother Bett.

MRS. BETT. Well, perhaps you're as good as you know how to be. Anyway, your mother's responsible for a good deal without counting you.

NINIAN. Mother Bett, where is Lulu?

MRS. BETT. Who, Lulie? Oh, she's run away.

NINIAN. What do you say?

MRS. BETT. She's gone off on the train this morning. I told her to go.

NINIAN. Mother Bett, Mother Bett–where has she gone?

MRS. BETT. Gone to call her soul her own, I guess.

NINIAN. But Mother Bett, where did Lulu go?

MRS. BETT. She might be at the depot.

NINIAN. Can I catch her?

MRS. BETT. You can catch her if ye can run in them white–mittens.

NINIAN. Run? Watch me. (Exit running.)

DI. Oh! Grandma, isn't it just too romantic?

MRS. BETT. What do you mean–rheumatic?

(Enter MONONA.)

MONONA. Breakfast's ready, grandma.

MRS. BETT. Breakfast! I wouldn't know coffee from flapjacks.

MONONA. I've been catching it all morning and I didn't do a thing.

MRS. BETT. What's that, little ape?

MONONA. Grandma, honestly, do you see why because Aunt Lulu ran away the whole family should pick on me?

MRS. BETT. Come here, you poor neglected child!

MONONA. Mama's getting breakfast and she's burned all over and she's so cross–m-m-m. Why here she comes now!


DI. Aunt Lulu!

(Enter LULU.)

LULU. Mother–

MONONA. Oh, goody–now they'll pick on you instead of me.

MRS. BETT (softly ) . Monona! You run down the road as tight as you can and catch your Uncle Ninian quick–Sh-sh-sh–

MONONA. Uncle Ninian! Oh–oh! (Exit.)

LULU. Mother–what do you think I've heard?

MRS. BETT. Land knows! my head's whirlin'. Who found you?

LULU. Found me?

MRS. BETT. I can count up to 'leven in this house that's went after you or went after them that went after them–Oh land!...

LULU. Mother, the station agent said to me just now when I went to buy my ticket, he said, "You just missed your husband. He went hurrying up the street." I couldn't go till I knew.

DI. Why, Aunt Lulu, haven't you heard–

MRS. BETT. Sh-h-h–Leave it burst.

(Enter DWIGHT.)

DWIGHT. So... after making me traipse all over town for you and before breakfast.... What is the meaning of this, Lulu? Answer me.

MRS. BETT. Sit down, Dwight. Take off your hat why don't you?

(Enter INA.)

INA. Forevermore.

LULU. Were you looking for me, Dwight?

DWIGHT. What about our breakfast, may I ask?

LULU. Haven't you had your breakfast, Dwight? I had mine in the bakery.

MRS. BETT. In the bakery! On expense!

INA. Lulu, where have you been?

LULU. How good of you to miss me!

INA. Lulu, you don't act like yourself.

LULU. That's the way I heard the women talk in Savannah, Georgia. "So good of you to miss me."

DWIGHT. Lulu, let's have no more of this nonsense....

LULU. Whose nonsense, Dwight? I've left your home for good and all. I'm going somewhere else to work.

INA. Why, Lulu, what will people think of Dwight and me if we let you do that?

DWIGHT. So you thought better of the promise you made to us last evening not to tell our affairs broadcast.

LULU. Your affairs? No, Dwight, you can tell them anything you like when I'm gone.

INA. How am I ever going to keep house without you? Dwight, you've simply got to make her stay. When I think of what I went through while she was away...everything boils over, and what I don't expect to b-b-boil b-b-burns. Sister, how can you be so cruel when Dwight and I–

DWIGHT. Patience, patience, pettie...Lulu, I ask you to stay here where you belong.

LULU. No, Dwight, I'm through.

DWIGHT. So, sister mine, have you found some other man willing to run away with you?

LULU. That will do, Dwight. You've pretended so long you can't be honest with yourself, any of the time. Your whole life is a lie.

MRS. BETT. Save your breath, Lulie.

(Enter MONONA with NINIAN.)

DWIGHT. At least, Miss Lulu Bett, neither Ina nor I ever had to lie about our marriage.

MONONA. Here he is, grandma.

LULU. Oh....

NINIAN. What's that you're saying, Dwight?

INA. Forevermore!

LULU. Ninian....

NINIAN. Lulu.... So I didn't miss you.

DWIGHT. Ha! ha!...The happy bridegroom comes at last. What's the meaning of this, Ninian?

NINIAN. I'll bet he's made life beautiful for you since you got back. Anything more to say, Dwight?

DWIGHT. Yes, Lulu was planning to run away.... I was telling her she'd better stay here at home where she'd have us to stand by her.

NINIAN. Yes, I've heard how you stood by her. You're a magnificent protector, you are!

DWIGHT. Look here, Nin, don't you feel that you have to sacrifice yourself. Lulu is well enough off here.

INA. She was quite happy until you came, Ninian.

NINIAN. You hypocrites!

MRS. BETT. Hypocrites! He-e!

INA. Children, stop listening to older people.

DI. Oh, mama!...

MONONA (crying). Oh... Let me stay!

INA. Children!... (Exeunt DI and MONONA.) Ninian, how can you say such things to us!

NINIAN. Lulu has suffered as much from you as she has from me.

MRS. BETT. That's right, Ninian. Plain talk won't hurt nobody around here.

NINIAN. Lulu, can you forgive me?

LULU. But Cora Waters... what of her?

DWIGHT. Yes, what about your other wife?

NINIAN. I haven't any other wife–just Lulu.

MRS. BETT. Cora Waters is dead. I knew it all along.

LULU. Ninian, is it true?

NINIAN. Yes, it's true.

MRS. BETT. He's confided in his mother. He told me all about it.

NINIAN. Will you come back to me, Lulu?

MRS. BETT. Better take him, Lulie. You can have that fifty to furnish up the parlor.

LULU. Oh, mother! I wish we could have you with us.

NINIAN. Do you forgive me?

LULU. I forgave you in Savannah, Georgia.



(As originally produced December 27, 1920)

THE PIANO STORE: empty, bare, three or four upright pianos with bright plush spreads and plush-covered stools. Back, a dark green sateen curtain. It is the following morning.

(Discover CORNISH at a little table, on which is opened a large black book. Enter MONONA, carrying basket of parcels.)

MONONA: Oh, Mr. Cornish...

CORNISH: Hello, there Monona! How's everything?

MONONA: Everything's perfectly awful up to our house.

CORNISH: Miss Lulu's all right, I hope?

MONONA: Aunt Lulu is–

CORNISH: There! I knew it. I knew this thing was going to wind up in a fit of sickness–

MONONA: Sick... No. She s gone.

CORNISH: Gone! Miss Lulu gone?

MONONA: Run away.

CORNISH: Oh, with who?

MONONA: Nobody, I guess. She skipped out of the house early this morning. It was me saw her going down the walk with her bag. It was me told everybody. It was me found her trunk packed and locked in her room. That's all.

CORNISH: This is terrible, terrible–and your people not home yet?

MONONA: I should say they are. Came last night.

CORNISH: But what are they doing to find her?

MONONA: Papa said he wouldn't do a thing. Mamma's been getting breakfast and she's burned all over, and she's so cross–m-m!

CORNISH: Yes, but aren't they trying to find Lulu–your Aunt Lulu–

MONONA: Grandma says she knows she's dead. Probably she's drowned in the river and they'll get her out with her hair all stringy–

CORNISH: See here. I think I'll come up to your house. I'll put a little notice on my door–

MONONA: I better go now. I'll catch it anyhow. I've been catching it all the morning and I didn't do a thing. Mr. Cornish, honestly, do you see why, because Aunt Lulu ran away, the whole family should pick on me?

CORNISH: Well, we must all help as much as we can, Monona–

MONONA: Up to our house, honestly, you'd think I was the one that had done it. And I may!

(Exit, running)

CORNISH: I'll be right there, as soon as I can lock up.

(He disappears behind the green curtain. Pause. Enter LULU.)

LULU: Mr. Cornish. Mr. Cornish.

(CORNISH appears.)


LULU: Well!

CORNISH: You're out early.

LULU: Oh, no!

CORNISH: My, but I'm glad to see you. Won't you sit down?

LULU: I can only stay a minute. Wasn't that Monona just went out of here?

CORNISH: Yes, that was Monona.

LULU: Did she say anything about me?

CORNISH: She–she said you'd run away. She–she must have been mistaken.

LULU: No, she wasn't. I have.

CORNISH: Why, Miss Lulu!

LULU: Or I'm going on the 10:10. My bag's in the bakery. I had my breakfast in the bakery.... I've left them for good.

CORNISH: Then I suppose he cut up like a hyena over that letter being opened.

LULU: Oh, he forgave me that.

CORNISH: Forgave you!

LULU: Overlooked it, rather.

CORNISH: Anyway he's convinced now about that other Mrs. Ninian Deacon?

LULU: Yes, but you mustn't say anything about that, please, ever.

CORNISH: Even now? Well, I'll be jumped up. Even now? Then–I guess I see why you're going.

LULU: It isn't only that. I'm going... I'm going!

CORNISH: I see. Would–would you tell me where?

LULU: Maybe. After a while.

CORNISH: I do want you to. Because I–I think you're a brick.

LULU: Oh, no!

CORNISH: Yes, you are. By George! you don't find very many married women with as good sense as you've got. That is, I mean–

LULU: All right. I know. Thank you.

CORNISH: You've been a jewel in their home–I know that. They're going to miss you no end.

LULU: They'll miss my cooking.

CORNISH: They'll miss more than that. I've watched you there....

LULU: You have?

CORNISH: You made the whole place go.

LULU: You don't mean just the cooking?


LULU: I never had but one compliment before that wasn't for my cooking. He told me I done up my hair nice.... That was after I took notice how the ladies in Savannah, Georgia, done up theirs.

CORNISH: Well, well, well!...

LULU: I must go now. I wanted to say good-by to you....

CORNISH: I hate to have you go. I–I hate to have you go.

LULU: Oh, well!

CORNISH: Look here, I wish–I wish you weren't going.

LULU: Do you? Good-by.

CORNISH: Can't I come to the depot with you?

LULU: You can't leave the store alone.

CORNISH: Yes. I'll put a little notice on the door....

LULU: No. That would be bad for the business. Good-by.

CORNISH: Good-by, Miss Lulu! Good-by, good-by, good-by!...

LULU: There's something else. I'm going to tell you–I don't care what Dwight says. (Takes letter from her handbag) As long as I told you the other part, I'm going to tell you this.

CORNISH: I want to know everything you'll let me know.

LULU: See–at the office this morning was this. It's from Ninian.

CORNISH: Well, I should think he'd better write.

LULU: Nobody must know. It was bad enough for the family before, but now... here it is:

"... just want you to know you're actually rid of me. I've heard from her, in Brazil. She ran out of money and thought of me, and her lawyer wrote to me...." ... He incloses the lawyer's letter.

"I've never been any good–Dwight would tell you that if his pride would let him tell the truth once in a while. But there isn't anything in my life makes me feel as bad as this...."

... well, that part doesn't matter. But you see. He didn't lie to get rid of me–and she was alive just as he thought she might be!

CORNISH: And you're free now.

LULU: That's so–I am. I hadn't thought of that.... It's late. Now I'm really going. Good-by..

CORNISH: Don t say good-by.

LULU: It's nearly train time.

CORNISH: Don't you go.... Do you think you could possibly stay here with me?

LULU: Oh!...

CORNISH: I haven't got anything. I guess maybe you've heard something about a little something I'm supposed to inherit. Well, it's only five hundred dollars.... That little Warden house–it don't cost much–you'd be surprised. Rent, I mean. I can get it now. I went and looked at it the other day but then I didn't think... well, I mean, it don't cost near as much as this store. We could furnish up the parlor with pianos... that is, if you could ever think of such a thing as marrying me.

LULU: But–you know! Why, don't the disgrace–

CORNISH: What disgrace?

LULU: Oh, you–you–

CORNISH: There's only this about that. Of course, if you loved him very much then I ought not to be talking this way to you. But I didn't think–

LULU: You didn't think what?

CORNISH: That you did care so very much about him. I don't know why.

LULU: I wanted somebody of my own. That's the reason I done what I done. I know that now.

CORNISH: I figured that way.... Look here, I ought to tell you. I'm not–I'm awful lonesome myself. This is no place to live. Look–look here. (He draws the green curtain revealing the mean little cot and washstand.) I guess living so is one reason why I want to get married. I want some kind of a home.

LULU: Of course.

CORNISH: I ain't never lived what you might say private.

LULU: I've lived too private.


CORNISH: Then there's another thing. I–I don't believe I'm ever going to be able to do anything with the law.

LULU: I don't see how anybody does.

CORNISH: And I'm not much good in a business way. Sometimes I think that I may never be able to make any money.

LULU: Lots of men don't.

CORNISH: Well, there it is. I'm no good at business. I'll never be a lawyer. And–and everything I say sounds wrong to me. And yet I do believe that I'd know enough not to bully a woman. Not to make her unhappy. Maybe–even, I could make her a little happy.

LULU: Lots of men do.

(Voices. Enter INA, DWIGHT and MRS. BETT.)

INA: Oh, Dwight! she's still here.

DWIGHT: So this is where we find our Lulu!

LULU: Did you want me, Dwight?

INA: Want you? Why, Lulu! are you crazy? Of course we want you. Why aren't you home?

(Nursing her wrist, which is bandaged, with the other hand, which is bandaged, too)

MRS. BETT: Lulie, Lulie, we thought you'd gone off again.

LULU: Mother, darling...

DWIGHT: Here am I kept home from the office, trying my best to take your place. You're a most important personage, Miss Lulu Bett.

LULU: What did you want of me?

INA: Want of you? Why, my goodness...

DWIGHT: If you had tasted bacon fried as the bacon was fried which I have tasted this day–

INA: Oh, Dwight, that's not funny!

DWIGHT: No. And the muffins were not funny either. Yes they were!

LULU: How good of you to miss me!

INA: Lulu, you don't act like yourself.

LULU: That was the way I heard the women talk in Savannah, Georgia. "So good of you to miss me."

DWIGHT: Lulu, what does this mean? No more of this nonsense.

LULU: Whose nonsense, Dwight?

DWIGHT: We know that your trunk is locked and strapped in your room and you were seen going down the street with a bag. You have flown here, presumably to discuss your situation with an outsider. Is this fair to us?

LULU: What do you want me to do, Dwight?

INA: Do? Why, we want you to come home.

LULU: Home!

DWIGHT: Also to explain your amazing behavior.

CORNISH: May I do that, Miss Lulu?

LULU: No–no thank you. I think I'd like to speak for myself. Dwight, I've left your home for good and all.

INA: Sister...

MRS. BETT: Lulie... Lulie!...

DWIGHT: Ah-ha! You have thought better of the promise you made to Ina and me last evening not to tell our affairs broadcast.

LULU: I've thought no better of it–and no worse. I couldn't. But I've been thinking of something else. Of you, Dwight.

DWIGHT: Ah–I'm flattered.

LULU:... Let it go at that.... In any case, I've left your home.

INA: But where are you going?

LULU: I meant to go somewhere else and work.

INA: Go somewhere else and work. Cook? Lulu, have you no consideration for Dwight and me at all? What would people think if we let you do that....

DWIGHT: Patience, patience, pettie. Let's have no more of this, Lulu. I imagine you're not quite well. Come home with us, now, there's a good girl.

LULU: No, Dwight.

INA: Lulu, I simply can't keep house without you. When I think of going through with what I went through this summer while you were away.... Everything b-boils over and what I don't expect to b-boil b-burns.... (Sobs) Dwightie, you've got to make her stay.

DWIGHT: Pettie–control yourself.... Lulu, I ask you, I implore you, to come back home with us.

CORNISH: Miss Lulu...

LULU: Yes?

CORNISH: May I tell them?

LULU: What is there to tell them?

CORNISH: I think Miss Lulu and I are going to–arrange.

LULU: O but not yet–not yet.

DWIGHT: What–you? You and Cornish? I should think not. How can you?

LULU: Cora Waters is alive. Ninian's heard from her. There's her lawyer's letter.

INA: Forevermore!

MRS. BETT: What you talking–what you talking. I want to know but I ain't got something in my head.... Lulie, you ain't going to get married again, are you–after waiting so long?

DWIGHT: Don't be disturbed, Mother Bett. She wasn't married that first time. No marriage about it.

INA: Dwight! If Lulu marries Mr. Cornish then everybody'll have to know about Ninian and his other wife.

LULU: That's so. You would have to tell, wouldn't you? I never thought of that. Well–you can get used to the idea while I'm gone.


INA: Gone where?

MRS. BETT: Where you goin' now, for pity sakes?

LULU: Away. I thought I wanted somebody of my own. Well, maybe it was just myself.

DWIGHT: What ridiculous talk is this?

CORNISH: Lulu–couldn't you stay with me–

LULU: Sometime, maybe. I don't know. But first I want to see out of my own eyes. For the first time in my life. Good-by, mother.

MRS. BETT: Lulie, Lulie...

LULU: (At the door) Good-by. Good-by, all of you. I'm going I don't know where–to work at I don't know what. But I'm going from choice!

(Exit. CORNISH follows her.)

MRS. BETT: Who's going to do your work now, I'd like to know?


Editorial Credits

The stage play Miss Lulu Bett by Zona Gale (1874-1938) is adapted from her novel Miss Lulu Bett, published in 1920. The play was produced by Brock Pemberton at the Belmont Theatre, New York, and first performed on December 27, 1920. It was subsequently copyrighted and published by D. Appleton and Co. of New York in 1921. Miss Lulu Bett won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, 1920-1921.

Miss Lulu Bett has three separate endings. In the novel, after discovering that her first marriage is invalid, Lulu marries again. When writing the play, Gale felt that putting two weddings into an evening's entertainment was compressing things too much. She wrote an initial ending for the play, then revised it to make it more popular with audiences. Here, the revised ending of the play is printed first, followed by the original ending of the play, replicating the order in which they were printed in the first published edition of the play.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom