(MUSIC CUE 2) — POE’S
ENTRANCE — ESTABLISH, THEN DOWN
(enters carrying a large black portfolio, several small
books, and an hourglass. He walks toward the chair — glances at
his surroundings — waits to be invited to sit; it doesn’t
happen; tries to get the attention of four unseen
men who are assumed to be in the direction of the audience.)
sorry to interrupt, but my time is very — I don’t have all — well,
yes, I suppose I do have all day. Gentlemen, your
appointment has arrived.
I am Edgar Poe.
(evidently they look up and speak; POE smiles)
Thank you.Yes, thank you, I would prefer to sit.
(POE sits, rests hourglass [top chamber is empty] on table by his chair; he touches the wine decanter)
That’s kind of you; but I’ll abstain. A little water, perhaps.
(pours water from ornate pitcher [actor takes sips when needed];
then realizes he has lost them
Gentlemen, I am loath to interrupt, but you did, after all,
ask me to come.I am
therefore here, although I am not altogether sure why you — am I to
understand that your purpose is to audition me?But surely you know, at least know of me.I am author of “The Raven.”
MUSIC GRADUALLY OUT
I see.It is not the
reputation of the poetry you question,
but that of the poet. I see.
I’m sorry: I just realized you called me Eddy. I’d prefer that you
didn’t — certainly not in publicity. Edgar A. Poe, please.
Eddy is —
(amused) I beg your pardon?
Informally? Well I suppose you may, if you must.My friends do use Eddy. I am not certain thus far that you
four gentlemen will qualify.(courteously)I see. I do see. Yes, gentlemen, I admit I was ill on the occasion
of that particular lecture last year—
Inebriated, then, if you insist. The indiscretion haunts me. A
fleeting perverseness. Hasn’t everyone, now and again, found himself
committing a stupid act for no reason except because he knows he
should not do it?And
no, I was not arrested — merely questioned by the police.
Please consider, instead, my earlier lecture that year on American Poets and Poetry, which drew an enthusiastic audience
of eighteen hundred in Providence!(more calmly)
And recall my most recent lecture, "The Universe," presented
at the prestigious Society Library in New York. It was hailed as —
(hastily opens portfolio and extracts two clippings, reads from
“a nobler effort than any other Mr. Poe has yet given the world”
and another critic said “it demonstrates a degree of logical acumen
that has not been equaled since the days of Sir Isaac Newton.” It
was just this past February, on the third. My most important
contribution was to explain a theory of planet formation out of
swirling and hardening gasses —
(they interrupt; POE is
Oh yes that’s true! I did
claim to prove the existence of a transcendental soul and a higher
Being.But I must tell
you candidly that my whole nature utterly revolts at the idea that
there is any Being superior to myself!The audience? Vastly enthusiastic; but only about sixty people, I’m
afraid. There was, unfortunately, a snow storm that evening.
(frantically, then dreamily)
Gentlemen I assure you I have not touched a drop of alcohol or a
dram of laudanum since January, and here it is October. Nowadays I
rise early, eat moderately, drink nothing but water, and take
regular and abundant exercise in the open air.My earlier — lapses — I attribute to sad fortunes. It seems
at times that I am plagued by death on all sides. I lost my
mother, whose memory I worship, and my wife who gave the world grace
and meaning. Sickness haunts me. I
live with spirits on the printed page. In reveries. In dreams. In
(MUSIC CUE 3)
(drifts off, distracted by a waking dream)
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand —
(addresses the hourglass)
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?
(slowly turns hourglass over, so that it begins to measure time;
his unseen interviewers interrupt)
I beg your pardon? I’m sorry; I was just — remembering.
(recovers from vagueness, rises energetically)
Since January, I assure you, I have not allowed a day to pass
without writing one to three pages. Just yesterday I wrote five, and
the day before I composed a poem I believe will rival “The Raven” in
popularity.I call it
In retaliation, Thomas English published in the New York Mirror a
vicious attack charging that I was duplicitous, impotent, and a
matters more incendiary, The Mirror also published his novel
in which I was parodied as the author of a stupid poem called “The
Black Crow.”I had no recourse
but to sue him and his publisher for libel. Judge and jury awarded
me $226.06 plus court costs. Most of that has gone to pay debts
incurred during my late wife’s illness.
Revenge? Oh, yes. A few reviewers even guessed that I used Mr.
Thomas English as a model for the pompous Fortunato in “The Cask of
whom I murdered most imaginatively.
(opens book he brought with him; reads)
(MUSIC CUE 4)
I called myself Montresor in the story.
(narrates with histrionic glee, Italian accent for the
"The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could;
but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge. You, who so well
know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave
utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged — this
was a point definitively settled — but I must not only punish, but
punish with impunity. It must be understood that neither by word or
deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued
to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile nowwas at the thought of his immolation."
(looks up with an evil attitude)
I accomplish my revenge, you see, and escape without capture or
punishment or guilt. In the final moment, after I have chained the
petty and pretentious man to a granite wall in the catacombs:
(turns to the end of the story; back in character)
still believing my actions to be a joke, cries out, “But is it not
getting late? Will not they be awaiting us at the palazzo? Let us be
gone! Yes, I said, Let us be gone. For the love of God, Montresor!! Yes, I said, For the love of God. I grew impatient.I called aloud, Fortunato!No answer.I called
answer still. I thrust a torch
through the remaining aperture and let it fall within. My heart grew
sick — on account of the dampness of the catacombs. I hastened to
make an end of my labor. I forced the last stone into its position;
I plastered it up.For half a
century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat!
(puts book aside)
Rest in peace, Mr. Thomas Dunn English! Buried alive, a favorite
resolution of mine!
. . . consider. In Paris, "Rue Morgue" was published by one newspaper
from which it was stolen and re-printed in another. The first paper
sued the second for copyright infringement and lost when the
French court revealed that the story sprang originally from the mind
of — I can quote this verbatim: “an extraordinarily imaginative
American, a Mr. E. Poe.” So consequently the story was not legally
protected in France at all!
You know, I anticipate an even more nefarious plagiarism in England
— the theft of the very type of story introduced by “Rue
Morgue.” London’s professional police force has been in existence
for over a decade now, and consequently an interest in crime stories
over there seems limitless. Consider. Dupin, the protagonist of my
mysteries, is a brilliant eccentric who relishes music and rare
books – a thinker who is oft seen settling into a comfortable chair
with a generous pipe of tobacco to facilitate his concentration as
he solves crimes that baffle the police! He shares lodgings with an
educated companion who chronicles the adventures of his amazing
friend for the world to read. Mark my words; some day, some
Englishman will take my formula and claim it as his own!
(they speak; POE is
reluctant to answer)
What? I’m sorry, I — well, no, I am not responsible to a wife or
family at present. My dear wife, as you may know, died last year of
a lingering illness.
(POE wanders into tearful reverie, touches the wine
decanter, as if wishing he could permit himself a sip; he
She was my life. My child bride. Only 24 when . . . after our 10 years
together, she . . . they all thought I would die with her. Once, I
confess, I tried . . . with an over-draught of laudanum. I
would steal out at nights, sometimes in my stockinged feet so not to
wake the house, even in the snow, to lie with her for hours at her
burial vault. I was a child.
MUSIC CUE 6 -- GRADUAL
RISE IN VOLUME FROM ZERO
shewas a child – in a – in our kingdom by the sea.
(POE quotes entire poem, in reverie, matter-of-factly, stares into the
But we loved with a love that was more than love —
I and my
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven coveted her
And this was the reason that, long ago, in this kingdom by the sea,
That a wind came out of a cloud by night, Chilling and killing my
So that her high-born kinsman came and bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulcher
n this kingdom by the sea.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love of those who were
older than we . . . .
(the old man enters slowly,
notices his audience with surprise, speaks to them)
Well, yes, good people, I am Mark Twain. And
as folks here there and yon persistent in calling me a story teller,
I’m going to talk to you this day (evening) about how that peculiar
calling commenced. How it grew. How it made me incorrigible. In the
process, I’llshow you how to tell a
funny story. Or at least I’ll show you how I do it.
I suppose right off I should mention my memory. It
comes and goes. But as most every noun and verb I ever let fall is
still somewhere on a printed page, I don’t have all that much need
for recollections—anymore. Sometimes what I’ve written is as
surprising to me as it will be to you.
up book; starts
to read; interrupts himself)
to remember my brother Henry walking into a fire outdoors when he
was a week old.
(interrupts himself again)
It was remarkable of me to remember a thing like
that and still more remarkable that I should cling to the delusion
for 30 years—for of course it never happened: he would not have been
able to walk at that age.
When I was first beginning to gain some national reputation, this
gentleman here proposed to learn all about me, and then to write it
up and give it out to dozens of the curious. I don’t remember
whether he ever got it published. But I did. And I called it “An
Encounter with an Interviewer.”
is pinched and hyper, pretentious)
A nervous, dapper, pert young man
took the chair I offered him, said he was connected with the Daily Thunderstorm, and then he said:
"Hoping it’s no harm, I’ve come to
"Come to what?"
I was not feeling bright that
morning. I went to the bookcase, and when I had been
looking 6 or 7 minutes I said:
“How do you spell it?”
"Oh, my goodness! What do you want to
spell it for?”
“I don’t want to spell it; I want to
see what it means.”
“Well, this is astonishing, I must
say. That is, I can tell you what it means,
if you—if you—if you— My dear sir, I beg
your pardon, I mean no harm in the world, but you do not look
as—as—intelligent as I had expected you would! No harm—I mean no
harm at all. You know it is the custom, now, to interview any man
who has become notorious.”
“Indeed, I had not heard of it
before. It must be very interesting. What do you do with it?”
“Ah, well—well—well—this is
disheartening. Customarily it consists in the interviewer asking
questions and the interviewed answering them. It is all the rage
now. Will you let me ask you questions calculated to bring
out the salient points of your public and private history?”
“Oh, with pleasure—with pleasure.”
“Are you ready to begin?”
“How old are you?”
“Nineteen, in June.”
"Indeed? I would have taken you to be
thirty-five or six. When did you begin to write?”
“Why, how could that be, if you are only
“I don’t know. It does seem curious, somehow.”
“It does, indeed. Whom do you consider
the most remarkable man you ever met?”
“But, but you never could have met Aaron
Burr, if you are only nineteen—”
“Now, if you know more about me than I do, what do you ask me for?”
“It was only a suggestion. How did you
happen to meet Burr?”
“Well, I happened to be at his funeral one day, and he asked me to make
less noise . . . .”
. . .
Do you like my button-hole? Whatever a man’s age, you know, he can reduce it by
several years by putting a flower at his lapel. I watched Charles
Dickens read from his stories in
New York, at Steinway Hall in the winter of
1867. He wore a bright red flower against his black coat . . . and it made him
young. He read with great force and animation, and it made a
life-long impression on me. That was also the day I made my fortune.
I am not speaking of money but
of happiness. On that very day I was introduced to Livy, the bright
flower of my life. I attended that Dickens performance with her and
her family. I first saw her in the form of an ivory miniature in her brother Charley
Langdon’s stateroom in the steamer “QuakerCity” in the Bay of Smyrna,
in the summer of 1867, when she was in her 22nd year.
And I met her in the flesh when I called upon Charley at the St.NicholasHotel that December day. She had the
heart-free laugh of a girl. It came seldom, but when it broke upon
the ear, it was as inspiring as music. I heard it for the last time when she had been occupying her sick-bed
for more than a year. After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the
beginning. It is better to live outside the Garden with her, than
inside it without her.
(secretly wipes an eye)
You know, that interviewer chap way back there might also have asked
just a single pertinent question, just one if it was
the right one—and thereby caused
me to do all of his
work for him. Such a question
was asked me, once
upon a time, by no less a publication than The Bazaar, and I
answered it at length.
The Bazaar considered my answer completely irrelevant to their
question. Said my mind tended to wander. But they printed it anyhow,
crazy or not. Of course, no man is entirely in his right mind at any time.
Often it does seem a pity that Noah didn’t miss the boat.
The editors at
asked what was the turning point of my life.
The Bazaar considered my answer completely irrelevant to their
question, but they printed it anyway. Here it is:
"The turning-point of my life. It means: the change in my
life’s course which introduced the most important condition of my
career. I know we have a fashion of saying “such and such an event
was the turning-point in my life,”
but we shouldn’t say it. We should merely grant that its place
as last link
in the chain makes it the most
link. In real importance it has no advantage over any of its
There have been many turning-points
in my life, but as factors in making me literary they are all
of one size. But I know how I came to be literary, and I will
now tell the steps that brought it about. . . .
. . . to this day, I tell
stories. One tale in particular drew heavily on my boyhood and the
schoolmates of my boyhood and the adventures of my boyhood , “The
Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” I wrote the book especially
for boys and girls, but I always hoped it would not be shunned by
men and women on that account, for part of my plan was to remind
adults of what they once were themselves, how they felt and talked,
and what amazing enterprises they sometimes engaged in.
(picks up book)
People think I just made it
up; but this book, I promise you, is as true as the gospels.
The Adventures of Tom
Sawyer . . . Chapter Two.
(the old man reads with youthful exuberance,
humorously varying voices)
was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and
brimming with life. There was cheer in every face and a spring in
every step. The locust trees were in bloom and the fragrance of the
blossoms filled the air. Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a
long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left
him. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high.
Sighing he dipped his brush and passed it along the topmost plank; he
compared the insignificant whitewashed streak with the far-reaching
continent of un-whitewashed fence, and sat down on a tree-box
Jim came skipping out at the gate with a tin pail and singing “Buffalo
Gals.” Bringing water from the town pump had always been hateful
work in Tom's
before, but now it did not strike him so.
He remembered that there was company at the pump. White, mulatto, and
Negro boys and girls were always there waiting their turns, resting,
trading playthings, quarreling, fighting, skylarking.
Tom said: “Say, Jim, I'll fetch the water if you'll
Jim shook his
head and said:
“Can't, Mars Tom. Ole missis
Polly, she say she spec' Mars Tom gwine to ax me to
whitewash, an' so she tole me go 'long an''tend to my own business.”
“Never you mind
what she said, Jim. That's the way she always talks.
Gimme the bucket.
won't ever know.”
I dasn't Mars Tom. Ole missis she'd take an'
tear de head off’n me. 'Deed she would.”
never licks anybody—whacks 'em over the head with her
thimble and who cares for that I'd like to know. She
talks awful, but talk don't hurt. Jim, I'll give you a
marvel! I'11 give you a white alley!”
Jim began to
Jim! And it's a bully taw.”
a mighty gay marvel, I tell you! But Mars Tom, I's
powerful 'fraid ole missis—”
“And besides, if
you will I'll show you my sore toe.”
Jim was only
human—this attraction was too much for him. He put down his pail,
took the white alley, and bent over the toe with absorbing interest
while the bandage was being unwound.
moment he was flying down the street with his pail and a tingling
rear end; Tom was whitewashing with vigor; and Aunt Polly was
retiring from the field with a slipper in her hand and triumph in
. . . but the publisher thought the book had enough
in it, so he gave the story to the Saturday Press with the title “Jim Smiley and His Frog”—and
it killed that paper with a suddenness that was beyond praise. At
least the paper died with that issue, and none but envious people
have ever tried to rob me of the honor and credit of killing it.
A year or two later it was translated into French and published in
Revue des Deux Mondes—but the
result was not what should have been expected; for the
struggled along and pulled through. It’s alive to this day. I ask you now to hear
the story. As you listen, see how our various principles of
story-telling apply—the rambling narrative, the absurdities, the
innocence, the pauses, and so on. Now pay attention. “The Celebrated
Jumping Frog of CalaverasCounty.”
(head slowly for chair right; begin reading, sit)
In compliance with the request of a friend of mine, who wrote me
from the East, I called on good-natured, garrulous old Simon Wheeler
and inquired after my friend’s friend, Leonidas W. Smiley, as
requested to do, and I hereunto append the result.
I have a suspicion that Leonidas W. Smiley is a myth; that my
friend never knew such a person; and that he only conjectured that
if I asked old Wheeler about him, it would remind him of his
infamous Jim Smiley, and he would go to work and bore me to
death with some exasperating reminiscence of him as long and as
tedious as it should be useless to me.
If that was the design, it succeeded.
I found Simon Wheeler dozing comfortably by the bar-room stove of a
dilapidated tavern in the decayed mining camp of Angel’s; and I
noticed that he was fat and bald-headed, and had an expression of
gentleness and simplicity upon his tranquil countenance.
He roused up, and gave me good day.
I told him that a friend of mine had commissioned me to make some
inquiries about a cherished companion of his boyhood named Leonidas
W. Smiley—Reverend Leonidas W. Smiley, a young minister of
the Gospel, who he had heard was at one time a resident of Angel’s
I added that if Mr. Wheeler could tell me anything about this
Reverend Leonidas W. Smiley, I would feel under many obligations to
Simon Wheeler backed me into a corner and blockaded me there with
his chair, and then sat down and reeled off the monotonous
narrative which follows.
never smiled, he never frowned, he never betrayed the slightest
suspicion of enthusiasm; but all through the
interminable narrative there ran a vein of impressive sincerity,
which showed me plainly that he regarded it as a really important
matter, and admired its two heroes as men of transcendent genius in
finesse. I let him go on in his own way, never interrupted him once:
(Twain's “Simon” leans forward to grab his
with a “Pa
Kettle” monotone voice)
Reverend Leonidas W. Hmmm, Reverend Le—well, there was a feller here
once by the name ‘a Jim Smiley, in the winter of ’49—or maybe ‘twas
spring of ‘50—I don’t recollect exactly, somehow though what
makes me think it was one or tother is because I remember the big
flume warn’t finished when he first come to the camp; but anyway, he
was the curiousest man about always betting on anything that turned
up you ever see, if he could get anybody to bet on the other side;
and if he couldn’t he’d change sides.
Any way that suited the other man would suit him—just so’s he got a
bet, he was satisfied.
But still he was uncommon lucky; he most always come out a winner.
He was always ready and laying for a chance; there couldn’t be no
solit’ry thing mentioned but that feller’d offer to bet on it, and
take any side you please, as I was just telling you. If there was a
horse race, you’d find him flush or you’d find him busted at the end
of it; if there was a dog-fight, he’d bet on it; if there was a
cat-fight, he’d bet on it; why, if there was two birds settin’ on a
fence, he’d bet which one would fly first; or if there was a camp-meetin’,
he would be there to bet on Parson Walker.
Parson Walker’s wife laid very sick once, for a good while, and it
seemed as if they warn’t going to save her; but one mornin’ he come
in, and Smiley up and asked him how she was, and he said she was
considerable better—thank the Lord for his inf’nite mercy—and coming
on so smart that with the blessing of Prov’dence she’d get well yet;
and Smiley, before he thought, says, ‘Well, I’ll resk two-and-a-half
she don’t, anyway
. . . .
The sitting room of the modest 1910 mansion the Fitzgeralds have rented on the north shore of Long Island.It’s clean (they have a maid) but messy, cluttered with books,
a sofa or love seat, a chair and a side table; a folding screen masks an
entrance/exit and an implied offstage bar; and two doors, right and left
(real or implied). Perhaps a
vase with a spray of peacock feathers.
AT RISE:It is pleasantly
a.m. Scott and Zelda enter animatedly from outside.
(sullen, irritated; he wears white slacks and shirt, dark tie, blazer)
(annoyed; she wears a “flapper” dress with cape or
(removes and hands her his blazer)
You didn’t have to go.
(takes blazer, wonders what to do with it; removes her own wrap)
Tedious, thanks to you.
Embarrassing, thanks to you.
SCOTT (sits on settee, slouches, kicks off shoes)
You’re entirely welcome.
ZELDA (tosses wraps on the floor back toward the entrance)
Your insufferable insulting remarks
They weren’t deserved?
That’s beside the point! What got into
Perkins or Gerlach? Perkins? Dear Max Perkins? Dear
dear Max? What’s he done now?
He hates the novel. High Bouncing Lover. He hates —
(takes a long crumpled telegram from his pocket, hands it to
How could he hate it? You haven’t written
I sent him the sketches you read last week, and
a new outline.
Why on earth?
My esteemed editor feels it’s overdue. Like
a library book.
Scott, he doesn’t . . . hate it.
He hates it.
My darling Goofo, dear dear dear Max
thinks it’s “potentially the finest contemporary American novel”!
(reading more, slowly)
Why, he only questions the title. And the
middle. Stop. The end. Stop. The main character. Stop. He’s afraid
they might be “weak or vague” he says. I suppose he means boring.
Did you ever see champagne shells like
those tonight? Like fingerbowls with stems! Was that Gloria Swanson
everybody was swooning over? I only caught a glimpse.
Umhum. I spoke to her.
Insulted her too I suppose?
Now what’s got into you?
Dearest, whatever gets into you gets into
thought; waves telegram at him)
So fix it! We mustn’t leave for the Continent with
this, this malaise malingering over our heads!
(looks up, as if to spot the malaise)
I don’t see any—
Shore up the shaky story before we leave Long Island and abandon the setting and source of it all
forever! For Heaven‘s sake, fix it now. I couldn’t survive this mood
of yours all across the Atlantic.
I’d jump in the ocean.
I feel obliged to
remind you that you predicted “The Vegetable” would make us rich
because it was the funniest play ever written.
I thought it was!
Until I saw it. You swore to me it was hilarious!
As it turned out, the
only thing funny was its box-office bottom line. You’re blaming me!?
Of course not. But
some people who should have known better encouraged me. Bunny Wilson said it was my best work.
H.L. Mencken liked it
because you took the title from that famous remark of his —
The producers were
probably right about the title, too. It didn’t make much sense out
of Mencken’s context about American businessmen being like
Darling heart, it
flopped flatter than one of Aunt Jemima’s pancakes. Lover, a play
that ridicules every red-blooded American’s all-American desire to
be President was ahead of its time. Just wait. Some day someone will
take it to Broadway; and it will finance our old age.
After the first act, I
wanted to stop the show and tell the audience it was all a mistake.
But the actors trudged nobly on. They were good, too. The idea of it
was what failed. There’s nothing there worth fixing.
But that was months
ago! We’ve survived it! It’s over!
(grabs UKULELE, strums,
does a little Charleston step, sings
“Ain’t We Got Fun”)
EVERY MORNING, EVERY EVENING,
AIN’T WE GOT FUN?
We’d better have fun.
Or my stories will turn dark, and they’ll stop taking pictures of
you and me for the New York Times.
NOT MUCH MONEY, OH BUT HONEY,
AIN’T WE GOT FUN
They’ll stop painting
theater curtains of you jumping into the
Union Square fountain
(takes UKULELE and accompanies her)
THE RENT’S UNPAID, DEAR,
WE HAVEN’T A CAR,
BUT JUST THE SAME, DEAR
(hums and Charlestons
while SCOTT strums and talks)
No more headlines when
I’m arrested for brawling at the Plaza: “FITZGERALD KNOCKS OFFICER
THIS SIDE OF PARADISE.” That was clever, I thought.
THERE’S NOTHING SURER:
THE RICH GET RICH,
THE POOR GET POORER.
(stops playing, places UKE
out of the way)
So do the Fitzgeralds.
If we’re not downright
diligent, our reputations as madcap mavens of the Jazz Age will . .
will dry up like autumn leaves and rattle away in the wind.
Nice imagery, darling
apprentice. True: New York
won’t be the same without us.
Long Island, either.
But there are plenty of fountains in
to be photographed in. Are there fountains in Paris? I honestly don’t remember.
Plenty. And tables to
dance on, taxicabs to ride on, revolving doors to get stuck
It shouldn’t take us
all that long to get established.
I mean if I
don’t follow the Church any more, how can I think it would matter to
You apparently still
believe in the celibacy part.
I believe in
concentration! Total immersion in the art of the project!
(ZELDA regrets mentioning it, starts to speak)
No, don’t challenge me on this! I don’t care to explain it. I — I
really can’t explain it. I’m sorry.
I’ve wondered if maybe
your drinking — I mean when you’re passed out cold, I can’t expect
you to —
I went on the wagon
and got ten short stories written! The stories that are financing
your trip across the sea, incidentally.
I’ll stop drinking for
the new novel — for as long as it takes. You weren’t around, but I
wrote This Side of Paradisewithout a drop of alcohol, or even coffee.I got through it on Coca Cola. The fizz is enough to keep me
awake. Do they have Coca Cola in
When you go on the
wagon to write — to me you might as well be drunk.
SCOTT (missing her meaning)
As a matter of fact, I
have never written a line of any kind while under the glow of so
much as a single cocktail. You should talk. You drink me under the
ZELDA (abruptly no longer serious)
You’re under it,
darling; I’m usually on top of it. Who’d have imagined it would be
cheaper to live on the Riviera than Long Island?
They say we can hire a nurse for Scottie for twenty-five a month.
All I’ll need there is a prison cell with paper and pencils.
That’s easy. Punch
somebody like you did Frank Morgan. That’ll get you a prison cell,
even in France.
Did you know the Olympic Games are going to Paris in July. All those big gorgeous muscles.
Shall we attend the Games, do you think?
(SHE does a little happy pirouette)
No need, dearest love.When they hear we’re in France, the Olympians will circle
you like hunters. And the gendarmes. And the French Navy. And the
Do you really think
I think I’d better
count on it.
You’re such an old
dear, old darling. I love it when you’re jealous. I actually do
(looks at telegram again)
Max says he can’t
“see” the main character. I can’t either. He needs freckles or
something now that he’s lost his faith.Tell me about Jay Gatsby. Does he have a moustache?
I have no idea. You’d
like that, wouldn’t you?
I would, yes.
I didn’t even know you
then, and I was jealous.
You still don’t
understand, Goofo. I really did kiss that flyboy just because he had
a moustache. To see what it felt like.
How was it?
deliciously. He was a bronze god. I could feel he was naked under
his uniform. You must remind yourself, dear, that this was back when
I entertained myself by picking out the handsomest boy and yawning
in his face while trying not to laugh. I collected the military
badges and metals they gave me in a little chest. One of yours is in
Just idle curiosity?
That, and the girls
had just told me he was the flyboy from Taylor Field who flew low
over my house that afternoon and — what do they call it? — made the
Blip. I stood
very still and watched your hands move on his back when you danced.
Weren’t you sweet? At
Country Club Dance.
(waltzes with an imaginary partner)
Gatsby needs, oh, I don’t know, a limp from a war wound. Something
to make him special. Vivid, doncha know, he needs to be more
visible, old sport.
A limp? I don’t think so; I’m not sure
why. Well, yes, it’s because Gatsby can’t be a genuine war hero. Old sport?
ZELDA (stops dancing)
Isn’t that the expression? Gerlach says it
all the time. “Coming along, old sport?”
That’s the expression, but it’s not
Gerlach’s anymore! It’s Mr. Jay Gatsby’s. There’s more! Gerlach was a decorated
(grabs notebook and writes)
He has the medal for proof, and doesn’t
hesitate to show it. Didn’t he get in trouble for bootlegging?
Did Gatsby go to
Princeton, do you think? Can you use your experiences
there? Make him a writer of varsity musicals. Let him fail math and
chemistry and get suspended.
Hardly. Gatsby’s athletic, not a fop like
me. But sure, he could go to Princeton.
You’re not a fop!
I doubt Joseph Conrad would agree. Gatsby
might be a romantic like I am, but he’s more of a man’s man. He’s in
business, a gambler, high stakes — Wait a minute! “Old Sport” sounds British.
So! Gatsby went to Oxford, not
Princeton. Remember the campus at
Oxford? You were pregnant with Scottie then
and we said it was the most beautiful place on earth. But I mustn’t
tell the reader too much. I want Gatsby to remain a — an incomplete
jigsaw puzzle. He’s a hero who makes you uncomfortable because you
don’t know how he’s going to use the strength you feel he has.
But you’ve got to give the reader something
trustworthy. Jay Gatsby has to have a history, even a history with
holes in it. How did he meet Daisy in the first place?
a grin and a shrug: what else could it be?)
At a country-club dance!
When he was a soldier stationed in her home
Down South, of course. He was —
In uniform, and she wore a —
about to say “sexy dress”)
A tacky and cheap bit of hillbilly fluff.
She was the most beautiful creature on
earth, and he was hopelessly —
LILLIE (enters speaking to an unseen character in the hall
Emma, don’t fuss; I’ll be
fine.Oh, there is one more thing you can do.There’s a man waiting at the stage
door, a Mr. Winter. He’s
with The New York Times,
andI’ve avoided him so often I can’t
send him away again.But please tell him I must rest before
I see him.The performance tonight was especially
Perhaps he’ll grow impatient and just leave.
(low-class British.) Not bloody
likely—as we’d say back home. Thank you, Emma; what would I do
(sits at dressing table, examines her face in
Eye of the beholder,
beholds one way one day and
another the next. And beauty, like time, stands not still. True,
Oscar?You told me that.
(looks away from mirror)
What did I just say to
those people out there?Were you listening, Mr. Wilde?Listening, editing me, still putting
words into my mouth?I told them, Oscar, that you died today
at l’Alsace in Paris, that you were far, far too young to leave us,
that you wrote The Importance of Being Earnest and that I
would miss you.“Remember November thirty,
1900,” I said, “when the
world lost its comic genius.”Did I say more?I don’t remember.
Wasn’t that enough?They told me you died of a fevered
brain; how in-character of you, Oscar. I was quite good tonight;
you’d have been proud of me.The play here in New York
is Mr. Grove’s As In a Looking Glass.How in-character of me?Don’t shout, Oscar; I can hear you.
You’d approve: I play a domineering
woman who uses her beauty to tyrannize men.
(raising a finger as if to seal his lips)
Not a word, Oscar.We were completely sold out, of course.Packed to the rafters.And why, pray tell, should Mr. Winter
need to know more about me than that?I draw a crowd.That is my
accomplishment and my pride.I’ve opened a dozen London
seasons, sailed through three tours of Europe,
four conquests of America,
some of them coast to coast, with only blizzards and floods
accounting for less than full houses, and not even Bernhardt boasts
more standing ovations.Yes, but what do I enjoy for breakfast?
(coquettish) Why, Mr. Winter, you
do flatter me so! Men, Mr. Winter.Men for breakfast.Didn’t you know?It’s what everyone assumes. It’s what
even my stage appearances tell them, isn’t it?From my first stage sensation, Kate in
She Stoops to Conquer so very long ago.I forgot; you missed that one.
(studies her costume in full-length mirror)
Only a single performance,
but it was attended by the cream of London society – all there to
see me: the
(takes the single flower from a bud vase on dressing table)
the quiet sensation of drawing rooms and stately balls, the
mysterious married lady seen now and again on the arm of the Prince
of Wales. Ah,
but I wasn’t on Bertie’s arm on that
occasion because I was on stage and he was in the royal box with
Princess Alexandra, attending my amateur performance . . . in a
minor theatrical event . . . at a matinee.The producer said “Never before was a
theatre more besieged for seats!” And I had never before acted a day
in my life.I knew I was pitiful, they doubtless
knew it, too; but when my father in the play spoke of the man he’d
chosen for me, and I opened my mouth to answer him, they no longer
saw Kate; she vaporized and they saw Lillie, and they laughed.Papa said:
names and stage directions in vignettes are not spoken by Lillie,
who delineates strictly with voice characterizations.]
(pompous, persuasive) The
gentleman has been bred a scholar, Kate.He’s a man of excellent understanding.
KATE. (bored) Is he?
HARDCASTLE. Very generous.
KATE. (brightening)I believe I shall like him.
HARDCASTLE. Young and brave.
KATE. I’m sure I shall like him.
HARDCASTLE. And very handsome.
KATE. My dear Papa, say no more, he’s mine!
HARDCASTLE. And to crown it all, Kate, he’s one
of the most reserved young fellows in all the world!
KATE. Oh! You have frozen me to death again!That one word “reserved” has undone all the rest of his
accomplishments!(aside) This news of
Papa’s puts me all in a flutter.“Young, handsome,” these he put last, and I put them
foremost.But then “reserved”
– that’s much against him.Yet, can’t he be cured of his timidity by being taught to be
proud of his wife?Yes;
and can’t I . . . oh, but I’m disposing of the husband before I have
secured the lover!
I was exactly like that,
wasn’t I?(laughing) Perhaps
I still am.To tell you the truth, Mr. Winter –
which I have no intention of doing – I always choose the wrong men:
married royalty, abusive millionaires, timid husbands.It’s no wonder the audience saw Lillie
Langtry and not the character she played even in that very first
stage debut, that matinee.Before we go on, may I ask a few
questions of you, Mr. Winter?
(directing questions to her chair)
Tell me about your bathing
habits, please, your unpublicized sources of income, your mistresses
and ladies of easy virtue, the secret homes and hideaways given you
by admirers . . . oh, yes, and your illegitimate child, of course.Tell me all about her, won’t you?Does the child know her real parents?Does your new spouse know the truth?You won’t say!?Then what, pray tell, can we find to discuss?Certainly not your talent, your
adventurous sense of enterprise, your love of life: of what possible
interest are those?Please leave. . . .
Now when Mr. Winter asks about the
Prince, do I simply smile enigmatically once again?Won’t he find that tiresome?Well of course he’ll ask!He has to: Bertie will be King when
dies, and rumor has it her health is failing.What do you hear about our world
of the living from your new confidants on
the other side, Oscar?Will my old love soon be King of England?
(takes pose and selects Egyptian prop or costume
I know what I’ll tell the busybody from the
Or rather what I’ll let
Cleopatra confess to him.It takes very little adaptation from the Shakespeare—merely
substituting my Prince for Antony.Mr. Winter saw my Cleopatra; and if he was listening, really
listening, and seeing past my exotic makeup and seductive costume,
he already knows . . . .
(Sad, haughty, regal, young
and beautiful.)I dreamt there was an
emperor.His face was as the heavens, and therein stuck a sun and moon
which kept their course and lighted the little earth.His legs bestrid the ocean; his rear’d arm crested the world.For his bounty, there was no winter in’t; an autumn t’was
that grew the more by reaping.His delights were dolphin-like; they show’d his back above
the element they liv’d in.Realms and islands were as silver coins dropp’d from his
Of course I loved the Prince, Mr. Winter! A part of me still does.
So what?The miracle was that it lasted for two whole, lovely, years.
The only Prince Charming one can live with is the Prince
Charming one can live without.But Mr. Winter, you’ll not hear of it from my lips, but from
those of the maligned, magnificent Queen of Egypt, who also was a
victim of the daily press and the gossips of her day.She predicted their fall from grace:
will catch at us, like strumpets; and rhymers will ballad us out of
comedians will stage us and present our revels.Antony shall be
brought drunken forth, and I shall see some squeaking Cleopatra boy,
my greatness in the posture of a whore.
neatly sums up my reputation, don’t you think?Ah, but what shall I say to you if you ask whether I was with
the Prince when I was still married to Mr. Langtry?When you ask who is really the father of my daughter?Why, Mr. Winter, you surely don’t wish to sully your own
reputation by letting it be known you’d ask such scandalous
. . . how could you
think for a single moment, my own vanity aside, that I
could subject Jeanne Marie to your . . . your . . . the drama that you
borrowed from our very lives!
(to reflection in
Jeanne Marie, I’ll never know if I did my best as your mother.Or if the truth might have served you better.But how could I have trusted you with such a secret?In those days, we could not have survived the scandal if
you’d spoken of it – to anyone,
even in girlish innocence?
(pause, a little laugh; then
tearfully, missing him)
I finally read it, Oscar – though I have no
intention to play it. Ever. My
belated gift to you is to tell you – and hope that you can
hear me – that I learned from it.Your
damned perceptiveness!I’ve even wondered if your play might be a way, now, to tell Jeanne
Marie the truth about her father – to let her suspect it first from
hearing the wisdom of Mrs. Erlynne as she speaks to her secret daughter, Lady
(performs, perhaps reading from a script.)
MRS ERLYNNE.(mature, cautious)You are devoted to your mother’s memory, Lady
Windermere, your husband tells me.
LADY WINDERMERE.(girlish, innocent) We all have ideals in life, Mrs. Erlynne.At least we all should have;
mine is my
MRS. ERLYNNE.Ideals are dangerous things.Realities are better.They wound, but they’re better.
LADY WINDERMERE. If I lost my ideals, I should
LILLIE. Oscar . . . you understood the reasons
I had for keeping the truth from Jeanne Marie.You slandered me, though, when you had Mrs. Erlynne tell Lord
I have no ambition
to play the part of a mother.Only once in my life have I known a mother’s feelings.Last night.They
were terrible; they made me suffer too much.I have lived childless for twenty years; I want to live
LILLIE. I never told you Oscar, dear, but I
admire your dialog in Lady Windermere.Witty, but not so flip as in
The Importance of Being Earnest. More meaningful. Especially that difficult passage when Mrs. Erlynne
reveals all to Lord Windermere:
MRS. ERLYNNE.Besides, Lord Windermere, how on earth could I pose as a
mother with a grown-up daughter?Margaret is twenty-one, and I have never admitted that I am
more than twenty-nine, or thirty at the most.(suddenly more serious)
So you see what difficulties it would involve.No, as far as I am concerned, let your wife cherish the
memory of this dead, stainless mother.Why should I interfere with her illusions?I find it hard enough to keep my own.I lost one illusion tonight.I thought I had no heart.I find that I have, and a heart doesn’t suit me.Somehow it doesn’t go with modern dress.I suppose, Lord Windermere, you would like me to
retire into a convent, or become a hospital nurse, or something of
that kind, as people do in silly modern novels.No, what consoles one nowadays is not repentance but
if a woman really repents, she has to go to a bad dressmaker;
otherwise no one believes her.No, I am going to pass entirely out of your lives.My coming into them has been a mistake.You propose to tell her that I am her mother?If you do, I will make my name so infamous that it will mar
every moment of her life.You shall not tell her.I forbid you.Why?If I said to you
that I cared for her, perhaps even loved her, you would sneer at me,
wouldn’t you?As for
telling my daughter who I am, that I do not allow.It is my secret, not yours.
say that to you, Mr. Winter? “It is my secret, not yours?”Will you be
if I say it smiling.
AT RISE, DOROTHY sits at desk, typing on an ancient typewriter, a
waste-basket nearby. DOROTHY never acknowledges her
actual audience; she speaks to people we can’t see – some of whom
can be vaguely downstage, in the direction of the audience.
SHE wears horn-rimmed eyeglasses – which are soon removed
but can be used as reading glasses, as the actress wishes,
comfortable stylish clothes, flat-heeled shoes.When she reads poetry, her diction is a bit stilted;
chats with unseen friends are freely conversational.
(after typing a line, removes the paper, reads
Oh hard is the struggle, and sparse is
The gain of the
one at the top,
For art is a form of catharsis,
And love is a
And work is the province of cattle,
And rest’s for
the clam in a shell,
So I’m thinking of throwing the battle—
Would you kindly
direct me to hell?
(considers the meaning; wads paper, tosses it into waste basket;
sits, loads fresh paper, types a single word; suddenly startled,
removes her eyeglasses as if ashamed of them, speaks to an unseen
Oh!Well, as long as
you’re back, pull up a chair, why don’t you?Did you like my inspirational poem, Mr. Benchley?
(“watches” him sit opposite her desk, as the imaginary Mr.
Benchley “speaks” to her)
Yes, you have heard it before.I try, but I can’t write anything new; this typewriter won’t
permit it.I don’t do
anything.I used to
bite my nails, but I don’t even do that anymore.I’m still here waiting, God knows why – but you know that:
you’re looking right at me, disapproval in your animated eyebrows.
(rips blank paper from typewriter, wads it, tosses it into waste
basket, loads a fresh sheet)
It’s not my fault.I
expected to wink out at about age 30.
In 1965, when I was 70, an
interviewer asked about my plans.I didn’t have any; I said, “If I had any decency, I’d be
(rifles through papers beside the typewriter, yanks out a page,
My land is bare of chattering folk;
The clouds are low along the ridges;
And sweet's the air with curly smoke;
From all my burning bridges.
(stands, lets poem drift into waste basket)
One afternoon, Bench, when Noël Coward was a guest at the Round
Table – he wasn’t Sir Noel yet – he said an extraordinary
thing, rather loudly I thought; he said: “You know, darlings,
anything quotable said by a woman in the early 20th
Century will be attributed to Dorothy Parker.”
Sweet of you to agree, Mr. Benchley; but what’s my fame all boiled
down to by now?One
silly little poem titled “News Item”:
Men seldom make passes
At girls who wear glasses.
I’m surprised they didn’t put that on my grave.
(loads more paper)
Hmm?Oh, the NAACP
finally buried my long-languishing ashes in a
garden in 1988.They
inherited what little remained of my estate; I’d left everything to
Martin Luther King.There’s a plaque there with an epitaph, “Excuse my dust.”I must have suggested it in a drunken stupor.They tacked on something about my advocacy of civil rights.
Here’s what my resting place
types, reads) “Wherever she went, including here, it was against her
(lifts phone off hook, reluctantly puts it back, speaks to God
above, herself and the telephone as she acts a monolog from “A Telephone
Call” as a love-struck young lady)
If I don’t think about it, maybe the telephone will ring.Sometimes it does that.Maybe if I count five hundred by fives, it might ring by that
slowly; I won’t cheat.And if it rings when I get to three hundred, I won’t stop; I won’t
answer it until I get to five hundred.Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five,
forty . . . .Oh,
is the last time I’ll look at the clock.It’s ten minutes past seven.He said he would telephone at five o’clock.“I’ll call you at five, darling.”I think that’s where he said “darling.”I’m almost sure it was there.I know he called me “darling” twice, and the other time was
when he said good-bye.“Goodbye, darling.”He
was busy, and he can’t say much in the office, but he called me
He couldn’t have minded my calling him up.I know you shouldn’t keep telephoning them; I know they don’t
like that.When you do
that, they know you are thinking about them and wanting them; and
that makes them hate you.But he couldn’t have minded; he couldn’t have thought I was
bothering him.“No, of
course you’re not,” he said.“I’ll call you at five, darling.”“Good-bye, darling.”He was busy, and he was in a hurry, and there were people
around him, but he called me “darling” twice.
That isn’t enough if I never see him again.
God, please don’t let my prayer seem too little to you.You sit up there with all the angels about you and the stars
slipping by; and I come to you with a prayer about a telephone call.Don’t laugh.You
don’t know how it feels.Nothing can touch you; no-one can twist your heart in his
suffering, God, bad, bad suffering.
Maybe he is coming here without calling me up.Maybe he’s on his way.Maybe he went home to call me from there, and somebody came
in.He doesn’t like to
telephone me in front of people.He might even hope that I would call him.I could do that.I could telephone him.I mustn’t, I mustn’t, I mustn’t.
Oh God, please don’t let me telephone him!I don’t ask you to make it easy for me – you can’t do that,
for all that you could make a world; only God, don’t let me go on
I won’t telephone him.I’ll never telephone him again as long as I live.He’ll rot in hell before I’ll call him up.I wonder why they hate you as soon as they are sure of you.I should think it would be so sweet to be sure.
Oh, God, keep me away from the telephone.Keep me away.Let me still have just a little bit of pride.I think I’m going to need it.Oh, what does pride matter when I can’t stand it if I don’t
talk to him?Pride is
such a shabby little thing.I’m not saying that just because I want to call him.I am not.
I may have misunderstood him.Maybe he said for me to call him up at five.“Call me at five, darling.”He could have said that, perfectly well.“Call me at five, darling.”I’m almost sure that’s what he said.
Aren’t you really going to let me call him?Are you sure?Couldn’t you relent?I’ll count five hundred by fives.I’ll do it so slowly and so fairly.If he hasn’t telephoned by then, I’ll call him.I will.Oh,
please dear God, dear kind God, my blessed Father in Heaven, let him
call before then.
(her back to the phone, she rests her hand on it; abruptly changes
subject, tone; turns toward Benchley, stands, restores costume)
Certainly I was that crazy in love, Mr. Benchley. You know I
was.How often did you
tell me “I told you so”?
(takes page from stack, reads from “Love Song”)
My own dear love, he is strong and bold
And he cares not what comes after.
His words ring sweet as a chime of gold,
his eyes are lit with laughter.
He is jubilant as a flag
girl, she’d not forget him.
My own dear love, he is all my world –
wish I’d never
My love runs by like a day in June,
he makes no friends of sorrows.
He’ll tread his galloping
the pathway of the morrows.
He’ll live his days where the sunbeams start,
could storm or wind uproot him.
My own dear love, he is all my heart –
And I wish somebody’d shoot him.
That also covers men numbers 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11.
But mainly Eddie Parker.Sure, there were others.You knew most of them; I think you kept a list.Charlie MacArthur, Seward Collins, Evan, John, Scott
Fitzgerald, Ring Lardner briefly, whoever was handy, apparently.Until Alan Campbell came along . . . .
. . .
Maybe I ached for Eddie during the war because I sensed we were
finished – and not because I missed him.He drank constantly after he returned.I told him “Eddie, you don’t want to be known as the town
drunk, not in Manhattan.”What?Oh.Mr. Benchley – see who’s at the door, would you?
. . . .
(stands, “sees” people entering; ushers them
to imaginary chairs)
Tallulah, is that you?
Harpo?What on earth
are you all doing here?
Oh, my God – the rest of you, too?Well come in.
There are an infinite number of chairs. To what do I own this –
(stops suddenly, puzzled, singles out one of them who is not yet
I thought I knew everyone.But I don’t know you.. . . . What do you mean, “I ought to know your work”?Oh, you can’t be – not possibly –
(faces her “friends” [and her audience])
Dears, this over-dressed Englishman is A.A. Milne – the daddy of
Winnie the Pooh – here to extract
an apology, no doubt.
(responds to Milne)
My mistake, not entirely English, he was born in
Scotland; anyway he pronounces
schedule shedule, making him full of skit.
(singles out a “chair,” responds to it)
remember my review of Mr. Milne’s Pooh for 1928.I was writing a New Yorker book column that I signed
Constant Reader; and after quoting Milne’s verbal syrup, in
particular his cutesy word “hummy” – meaning a tune was hum-able I
suppose – I wrote, quote: “And it was that word ‘hummy,’ my
darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner
at which Tonstant Weader fwowed up.”No apology, A.A., but you’re welcome to sit with our stellar
group; permit me to introduce a Roaring Twenties literati luncheon
club – the Algonquin Round Table.In the front row we have –
(indicates each “chair” in turn)
Robert Benchley – war correspondent, columnist, humorist, actor, my
closest friend for most of my years, except when he disgusted me.We shared our very first tiny office.When Vanity Fair fired me, dear Mr. Benchley quit in
all around were wailing over my bloody attempt to kill myself, Bench
just said, “You want to go easy on this suicide stuff.First thing you know, you’ll ruin your health.”Here’s an irony for you: it was a wobbly F. Scott Fitzgerald
who told him, “Don’t you know that drinking is slow death?”Benchley replied: “So who’s in a hurry?”
He was, apparently,
alcohol killed Robert Benchley at 56.
Woollcott, popular eccentric columnist, mediocre author, but an
essential friend and adversary. I named his
apartment “Wit’s End” and said it was “far enough east to plant
tea”; and he called me “an odd blend of Little Nell and Lady
Macbeth.” Harpo Marx said he looked like a balloon from the Macy’s
lives on: they named the Brandy Alexander for him.
When we first lunched with Robert Sherwood, there, he’d been gassed
in WorldWar I
and coughed constantly.
Didn’t like him at first, but he grew on us.Sherwood was a movie critic – which helped him get a job
writing The Hunchback of Notre Dame.Later, he won his first of four Pulitzers
nominations for the screenplays of Rebecca
and WaterlooBridge, and an Oscar
for The Best Years of Our Lives.
Edna, dear old Edna.Ferber.When she came
to the Table in ‘23, she was known mainly for stories about a
But then we champagne’d her Pulitzer for So Big a year later
and helped her celebrate Show Boat soon after that.She and Aleck were always at each other.She dubbed him “the
Nero who mistakes his pinafore for a toga.”She just kept winning Oscars and things for those movies and
plays she wrote with George Kaufman – Dinner at Eight,
Stage Door – that’s George sitting next to her, avuncularly
patting her hand.George S. Kaufman – Broadway playwright, producer and director, won
two Pulitzers with Moss Hart – for Of Thee I Sing with music
by the Gershwin boys, and You Can’t Take it With You.Also won all sorts of things for The Man Who Came To
Dinner – which blatantly patterned its title character, Sheridan
Whiteside, on our very own bombastic Aleck Woollcott!
(begins adding bright red ribbons to wrists)
When he came to see me in the hospital, I asked George to tell me
the best way to commit suicide, he said, “With kindness.”
Razors hurt.Dull ones,
(indicates "blood" ribbons, now in place;
The first time I died, I walked my ways;
I followed the file of limping days.
I held me tall, with my head flung up,
But I dared not look on the full moon’s cup.
I dared not look on the sweet young rain,
And between my ribs was a gleaming pain.
The next time I died, they laid me deep.
They spoke worn words to hallow my sleep.
They tossed me petals, they wreathed me fern,
They weighed me down with a marble
And I lie here warm, and I lie here dry,
And I watch the worms slip by, slip by
(abrupt return to the Algonquin crowd; indicates her red ribbon)
This will disturb the ladies of my bridge club when I leave the
hospital; I’ll enjoy that.They consider death and dying unnatural.Can you believe it?George Kaufman there suggested his own epitaph – which they
declined to use.He
said his stone should say “Over my dead body.”
(accuses the whole seated group; responds quickly to their imaginary
. . .
Now tell me why you’re here. Unless I miss my guess, you’re all
sober as judges; now that’s a first.
Why? . . . Oh.Neither can I.
Martinis go through me like air. . . . What do you mean you are
judges?What, who are
you planning to – me? You’re welcome to try.
I’venever been able to . . . .
Happiness?It’s scattered all through my outpourings.No, really, it is.Below
the surface, maybe.
. . .
I want you all out of here!It seems you expect to help me to my resting place, but you
don’t know best.Your help is not needed.I tried a couple of times, but I didn’t kill myself.I tolerated life till I was a withered 73.That ought to be good enough!Get out of here!
I almost said, “Get out of my life” but it’s a little late for that.I outlived all of you.Maybe I’m still alive – lying somewhere in a coma.
(calmer as she “watches” them leave)
You, too, Mr. Milne.I
am sorry if I offended you.I was just a little New York Jewish girl from New Jersey trying to be cute.Mr. Benchley nicknamed me Dorothy the Pooh, and a publisher
once advertised me as America’s A.A. Milne – so you see:
you have been more than adequately avenged.Wait Mr. Benchley!
Don’t you leave.
Perhaps we can work this out.Sit.
(ushers him to his chair, speaks to him)
The legendary Algonquin Round Table.What a crock. Hypocrites
and show-offs who came together to be applauded by each other.Yes, you too!Me
too.Famous for being
famous. When the Table
dissolved after a decade it left us all rich and famous and
miserable.With a lot
of life to muddle through on our own.
(idly loads a sheet of paper)
I lived two lives, really.Maybe three.The first petered out when the Round Table petered out.The second was Alan Campbell and
Hollywood. I was reasonably happy with
Alan.Sometimes.I must have
been: I married him twice.But I hated
Hollywood.Sam Goldwyn in particular.I thought screenwriting would make us rich – solvent anyway.The writing team of Parker and Campbell.
(quotes as SHE types a few words, reads
“The Passionate Screen Writer to his Love” as if she's just
NOTE: Telephone voices can be either pre-recorded or
performed live from off-stage.
TELEPHONE rings repeatedly.
JOAN enters slowly
in a smoldering mood, stares at phone; decides against answering it; turns away;
then sits by
still-ringing phone; slowly lifts receiver; speaks
MALINE (star-struck TELEPHONE voice)
Oh Miss Crawford!I
really didn’t think you’d be there.
JOAN (amused, condescending)
MALINE (TLEPHONE voice)
I’m sooo sorry.
They made me call.You were scheduled for makeup at , and, well, we waited.
Maline [pronounced Maleen], darling, I decided to do my own face this time.You see I had advice from my cameraman, and I always
listen to Ritchie.I’m sure you understand.How’s your little boy? Errol, isn’t it? Whooping
Cough, they told me.
MALINE (TLEPHONE voice)
Oh!Thank you!He’s better.Of course, Miss Crawford, I understand.But when you weren’t on the set at nine, they – I
Did you?Tell them you
up phone; speaks her thoughts aloud)
Noticed I was missing; that’s nice.Had little Maline do their dirty work; that’s not
nice.Contemptuous? -- or smart enough to be afraid of me?
(amused by her phrase, picks up phone)
OPERATOR (TLEPHONE voice)
Yes, Miss Crawford?
dear, tell me who’s there before you put a call through,
OPERATOR (TLEPHONE voice)
Certainly, Miss Crawford.I was, uh, just about to.I have Mr. Carlyle for you, from the sound stage.
Tell him . . . !
(with a sigh and a stiffening of the spine)
Put him through.
(sweetness and light)
Hello, Warren.How are things there in the mansions of old Virginny?
CARLYLE (TLEPHONE voice; angry but trying to be polite)
Joan.I’m lonely.And it’s hot under the Klieg lights.Everybody’s waiting.Where are you?
That’s hard to say, Warren.Where are you?
CARLYLE (TLEPHONE voice)
Where? I'm . . . oh.On
your side, of course.
I’m glad you are, Warren.Why isn’t great-director Deems himself calling me?
CARLYLE (TLEPHONE voice)
He’s on his way to the infirmary.He has hives.
Good.Have we decided
I'll play young Constance my
CARLYLE (TLEPHONE voice)
He – well, no, he still insists on his “Taming of the Shrew” thing.
And I’m the unmitigated bitch.
CARLYLE (TLEPHONE voice)
Sure, but when you grow up, you get tamed.Become all soft and feminine –
accent, to boot.I can’t do it, Warren. I’m sure you understand.
I’m sure you don’t.The first writer on the picture might have.His little girl wasn’t a cartoon shrew; she
was lonely and grimly independent.Why didn’t they just write about me?!Hell, my life’s Lillian Gish on ice.A father I never met, a stupid mother who
man to man.
(slips into reverie, becomes calm and
innocent as she begins to visualize her past, and
"write" her "screenplay")
We could take my character all the way back to Daddy Cassin’s Air Dome
Theatre across from the
LawtonOklahoma courthouse . . .
. FADE IN.
Nine-year-old girl sits on oak stump watching them pull
scenery off horse-drawn wagons from the train station.There’s wind, dust, leaves in the air.Costumes flap on racks.Girl wants to help, struggles to carry hat boxes to
stage door. Girl wears
a phantasmagorical gypsy dress, a rainbow creation she keeps
adding to so it can grow with her and she’ll have it
forever.Children in front of the courthouse point at her and laugh.Motor
car chugs up and the stars get out, wrapped in furs . . . .
Pearl, get me L.B Mayer.In person
this time, not one of his flunkies.Say it’s life or death.Ring me back when you have him on the line.
Son of a bitch. Condescending
son of a bitch.
(sits, takes off right shoe, massages foot; phone rings;
JOAN stares at it puzzled, answers)
That was fast.
No, Miss Crawford.It’s
says it’s urgent.
Keep trying to get Mayer.OK, put her through.Mother?
ANNA (TLEPHONE voice)
You simply have to help Hal.You have to talk to him.
(pause) I’m having a difficult day, actually.How are you?
ANNA (TLEPHONE voice)
He has an important screen test.He needs just a little money, and you won’t even take
his calls.There’s a depression going on, haven’t you heard?He hasn’t had your luck, Lucille; you know that.You own him.
He’s a lazy drunk.
You can owe him if you want to.
ANNA (TLEPHONE voice)
He loves you deeply.
given a damn about me.Mother, I don’t have time to talk to you.
phone cradle, holds a second, lifts)
no more calls, nobody – until I speak to Mr. Mayer.
OPERATOR (TLEPHONE voice;
awed by the great man)
I was about to interrupt, Miss Crawford!I have him for you on the other line!
MAYER (TLEPHONE voice;
Yes, Joanie, what is it?
JOAN (a dutiful daughter)
Hello, Mr. Mayer.I
have a great favor to ask of you.Have you seen the footage of Great Morning
we’ve shot so far?
MAYER (TLEPHONE voice)
‘Fraid not.Sorry.Are you brilliant?
direction is terrible.The script is terrible.Can’t you get Scott to do a rewrite?
MAYER (TLEPHONE voice)
I know you like his work, but he can’t work on deadline.I just don’t trust the man.
I can’t speak those lines, with a Southern accent yet.You’ve got to get me out of it.
MAYER (TLEPHONE voice)
Can’t do that, love.Budget’s half a million.In 1934’s inflated dollars that’s our biggest picture
of the year.
Will you look at the rushes anyhow?Right away?I’ll go on with it somehow if you still insist after
seeing the film.
(pause; almost in tears)
Justin is threatening to fire me, to ruin me.
MAYER (TLEPHONE voice;
pause; sounds doubtful)
I’ve got a few minutes.I’ll look at it.No promises, now.
Thank you, Mr. Mayer.
up phone, drifts back into memory, becomes a
I’ll be expelled again.I know it; I know it; I know it.SCENE: Public School in
Kansas City.The old witch of a principal is saying “Hal shows
promise; we’ll advance him to the seventh.His sister is behind; I’m afraid Oklahoma is more primitive than Missouri; she’ll repeat third grade.”Daddy Cassin says, “I can’t have that.”SCENE: Mother Superior talks to Daddy Cassin and
Little Billie: “The girl will live and work and study under
duties at St. Agnes include laundry, assisting in the
kitchen, serving at table.She may attend classes at no cost.”Daddy Cassin says to his baby, “You’ll learn strict
discipline, Billie, but you won’t be put back a grade.And I won’t worry if anything should happen.Understand?” “I
think so,” says Billie, but she doesn’t, not until she
sneaks down the fire escape a month later, runs home, and
finds that his clothes aren’t there.Mother says “He’s gone for good and good riddance.”Billie walks back to St. Agnes, bawling, feeling she
understands why Cassin ran off, and maybe why her real
father left, too.
FOUR YEARS LATER." Billie in early teens runs in echoing
hall clutching an oil-cloth bag tied shut at the top.She stands over a stair well, holds the dripping
thing out, drops it.It strikes marble three floors below and water
drenches students and nuns and splatters the statue of St.
Mother Superior’s office.Nun says – and these are her exact words – “Lucille
Cassin, we have extended to you every opportunity and every
kindness, and you seem determined to ignore them.”Expelled. Rejected
(back to reality; stares at phone, touches it, caresses it)
“Rrring, rrring, rrring,” Garbo said in Grand Hotel, “rrring,
rrring, rrring” – willing the phone to talk to her.
(keeps eyes on phone, pours herself a drink; drinks; rubs
foot again; back to screenplay)
So.Back home to work
in a laundry.School half finished.Childhood half finished. Person half finished.Expelled, and good riddance to bad rubbish.
MONTAGE: Billie waits on tables in the lunchroom.Then Billie tries to study.Then Billie’s at another dance, at a frat house – and
this time Ray Sterling is her date.He watches with prim disapproval as boys whirl her
back and forth like a dodge-ball and tear her skimpy
lift her onto a mammoth mantel over a raging fire, and she
dances up there, stomping till soot rumbles down the chimney
and boils into the room where the kids cough and laugh and
catch Billie when she dives into them.Poor Ray shakes his head as they carry her over their
heads out into the snow.CUT-AWAY: drapery near the fireplace catches fire
from a cinder.SOUND: fire engines.NEXT DAY, WIDE SHOT: the stately frat house with
streaks of soot ruining its white façade. People milling,
looking at it . . . .
. . . Now we’ll show one of those whirling newspaper things; the KC Star
shows a headline about gang wars and Prohibition; wind blows
the paper open to where it says
NOW THE WETTEST TOWN IN AMERICA.And right into a whirling CHARLESTON MONTAGE of
Billie and Kansas City night life – on the arm of a man
wearing a shoulder holster, dancing the night away at one
speakeasy then another, running and laughing as police raid
a bar.Throw in
a shot of a birthday cake showing she’s 18, celebrating with
shady types at a cabaret.She arrives home at dawn, angry Anna Cassin in a
dumpy robe lets her in.More dances; then horrible Harry Hough, bleary and
weary, in wrinkled underwear growls: “We can’t have this,
Billie; bad for business.Come home after again and you’ll find the door locked.”Stupid little girl tries defiance: “This is my
life; you can’t stop me.”And off she goes again.
RUNNIN’ WILD, LOST CONTROL
RUNNIN’ WILD, MIGHTY BOLD
Then some juvenile tough brings her home late and she runs for the
door.Locked.She pounds.No one comes.She tells the tough guy, “Take me back to the party!”
He does, but he won’t go in.“Gotta get home,” he says, “or my Dad might lock
Sign on the door says it’s the
EdwardHotel; drunken swells
stagger out as she stumbles in, alone.
MAJOR SCENE, now, a turning point; Billie’s never the same after
elegant in the Edward Ballroom.Orchestra plays, and two young girls sing together:
(sings, sweetly, imitating the girls from memory, a
little bit pouty Helen Kane, a little bit sensual Helen Morgan)
NEVER KNEW, I
COULD LOVE ANYBODY
HONEY LIKE I’M LOVIN’ YOU
I COULDN’T REALIZE – WHAT A PAIR OF EYES
AND A BABY SMILE – COULD DO
I CAN’T SLEEP; I CAN’T EAT
I NEVER KNEW A SINGLE SOUL COULD BE SO SWEET
I NEVER KNEW, I COULD LOVE ANYBODY
HONEY LIKE I’M LOVIN’ YOU
Billie stares at the pretty singers. These girls are making money singing with a
band! A boy
deserts his date and asks Billie to dance.
(sings and Charlestons)
COME ON ‘N HEAR, COME ON ‘N HEAR
ALEXANDER’S RAG TIME BAND.
‘Nother boy cuts in, another and another, and Billie dances till
waiters put chairs on tables; with no way to go home, she runs to hide while the
girls sing their close:
THE STARS SHINE – ABOVE YOU –
YET LINGER – A WHILE
THEY WHISPER – “I LOVE YOU”
SO LINGER A WHILE –
The singers spy our lonely youngster in the ladies’ room,
huddled in a corner, afraid of being kicked out by the
cleaning crew.They get her to tell about horrible Harry.“You can come home with us,” they say.They tell her they are the Cook sisters, and
mother Daisy won’t mind. . .
ABE (enters, removes top hat to coat tree, steps to
Lincoln is my name
And with my
pen I wrote the same
I wrote in
both haste and speed
And left it
here for fools to read.
I didn’t mean you
of course. I wrote that poem when I was 14, when I
Lincoln, his hand and pen,
He will be good, but God knows when.
certainly, I’m a poet, and how well I know it. It’s a row
I’ve hoed since . . . well, always.
I was born
February 12, 1809, in
Kentucky. My parents were both
born in Virginia,
of undistinguished families—second families, perhaps I
grandfather, Abraham Lincoln, emigrated from Virginia to
Kentucky about 1782, where a year later he was killed by
Indians—not in battle but by stealth, when he was laboring
to open a farm in the forest.
young sons, Mordecai and younger brother Thomas—who would
one day be my father—were with Grandfather Lincoln when he
was shot. 15-year-old Mordecai ran to a neighboring cabin,
shot the culprit as he was carrying off little Thomas.
having left no will, his estate went to an eldest son,
leaving Thomas penniless. He grew up a wandering, laboring
boy, literally without education. He never did more in the
way of writing than to bunglingly sign his own name, which
is why, I suppose, I know so little of my family history.
In his 28th year, Thomas married Nancy Hanks, my mother, in
the year 1806. They settled on a plot about 3-½ miles
southwest of Atherton’s ferry.
our old home very well. Our farm was composed of three
fields. It lay in the valley surrounded by high hills and
deep gorges. There I grew up.
my father settled here
the frontier line:
panther’s scream filled night with fear
And bears preyed on the swine.
a Sunday morning when there came a big rain in the hills. It
did not rain a drop in our valley, but the water coming down
through the gorges washed the ground—corn, pumpkin seeds and
all—clear off the field.
childhood home I see again,
with the view;
And still as mem’ries crowd my brain,
sadness in it, too.
thou midway world
‘Twixt Earth and
things decayed, and loved ones lost
There were some schools, so called; but no qualification was
ever required of a teacher—beyond readin’ writin’ an’
cipherin’. I was sent to one such ABC school for a year or
two; but there was absolutely nothing to excite an ambition
Of course when I came of age I did not know much. Still,
somehow, I could read and write and cipher, but that was
all. I have not been to school since. The little advance I
now have upon this store of education I have picked up from
time to time under pressure of necessity.
As a child, I used to get irritated when anybody talked to
me in a way I could not understand. I don’t think I ever got
angry at anything else. I couldn’t sleep when I got on a
hunt after an idea. And when I thought I’d caught it, I
wasn’t satisfied until I had repeated it over and over and
put it in a language plain enough, or so I thought, for
anyone I knew to comprehend.
This was a kind of passion with me, and it has stuck by me
to this day; for I am never easy when I am handling a
thought until I have bounded it north, south, east and west.
I believe it is an established maxim in morals that he who
makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or
false is guilty of falsehood. And the accidental truth of
his assertion does not justify or excuse him.
If I have one vice, and I can call it nothing else, it is
not to be able to say no! Thank God for not making me a
woman. But then, I suppose, if he did, he would have made me
just as ugly as he did, and no one would ever have tempted
I was once accosted by a stranger who said:
“Excuse me sir, but I have an article in my possession that
belongs to you”
“How is that?” I asked, considerably astonished. The
stranger took a jackknife from his pocket.
“This knife was placed in my hands some years ago with the
injunction that I was to keep it until I found a man uglier
than myself. I have carried it from that time to this. Allow
me to say, sir, that I think you are fairly entitled to the
I felt like the ugly man riding through a wood who met a
woman, also on horseback, who stopped him and said,
[country woman] “Well, for landsake, you are the homeliest man I ever saw!”
“Yes, madam, but I can’t help it,” the man replied.
[country woman] “No, I suppose not,” she observed; “but you might at least
stay at home.”
As fate determined it, my physical appearance seems to have
had little to do with my successes and failures.
#14 “Jeannie With The Light Brown Hair"
. . . approaching my 30th year I thought about taking a wife. With
such an objective in mind, I wrote to Mary Owens, the sister
of a neighbor in Kentucky. I’m afraid I offered her too simple
a means of refusing me. I wrote:
“This thing of living in
is rather a dull business after all; at least it is to me. I
am quite as lonesome here as ever anywhere in my life. I am
often thinking about what we said of your coming to live in
Springfield. I am afraid you would
not be happy here. You would have to be poor without the
means of hiding your poverty. Do you believe you could bear
I then presented my own case:
“Whatever woman may cast her lot with mine, it is my
intention to do all in my power to make her happy and
contented; and there is nothing I can imagine that would
make me more unhappy than to fail in the effort. I know I
should be much happier with you than the way I am, provided
I saw no signs of discontent in you.”
As one might anticipate, she rejected my offer of poverty
and happiness. She told a confidant, and it was reported to
me, that she felt I was beneath her in intellect; though
publically she avowed that we merely suffered a “personality
And I told a friend, who passed it along, that I thought she
was a great fool for not marrying me. And it got back to me
that she replied:
“How characteristic of the man.”
Then came the debacle of my engagement to Eliza Caldwell-
Browning of Vandalia. Making no apology for being
I shall sketch that history:
A married lady who was a great friend of mine proposed to
introduce me a sister of hers, on the condition that I would
engage to become her brother-in-law with all convenient
I accepted the proposal feeling I could not do otherwise;
but privately, between you and me, I was confoundedly well
pleased with the prospect.
You see I’d met this sister three years before and thought
her intelligent and agreeable. Now came time for our
interview, and she did not look as my imagination had
pictured her. I knew she was over-sized, but now she
appeared a fair match for Falstaff.
I knew she was called an “old maid,” and I felt no doubt of
at least half of that appellation. I could not for the life
of me avoid thinking of my mother.
From her want of teeth, weather-beaten appearance, and from
a kind of notion that ran through my head that
could have commenced at the size of infancy and reached her
present bulk in less than 35 or 40 years.
In short, I was not at all pleased with her. But what could
I do? I had told her sister that I would take her for better
or for worse.
I was convinced that no other man on earth would have her;
and hence my conclusion that her family were bent on holding
me to my bargain . . . .
I came to the
conclusion never again to think of marrying, for this
reason: I could never be satisfied with anyone who would be
block-head enough to have me!
7—MARY TODD—ESTABLISH, THEN DOWN—03:44
As you might
imagine, I could not maintain such a position for very long,
lonely as I continued to be.
Her name was Mary
Todd, the daughter of Eliza and Robert Todd of
Lexington. Her grandfather, Major
General Levi Todd, helped wrest Kentucky from the Indians; and her
great-grandfather was a general in the Revolutionary War.
The combat implicit in her family tree ought to have given
me pause, I suppose, but I only saw an exciting and
excitable creature, intelligent, with blue eyes and hair
that glinted with a touch of bronze . . . .
to our three boys, whom she has permitted to accompany me on
such speaking tours as this, she has ever shared her
intellect and support and family responsibilities; and, in a
very real way, has made it possible for me to address you
today. I deeply appreciate your invitation, but your kind
words require me to begin with confessions, else I stand
before you guilty of false pretenses. You praised my
facility for extemporaneous talks, and I must confess that I
write many of them down and read from notes.
In one of
our debates, Judge Douglas informed our audience that my
speech was probably carefully prepared. I admitted that it
was. I am not a master of language; I am not capable of
entering into a disquisition upon dialectics, as I believe
you call it, without preparation.
And in your
invitation, you referred to my entertaining wit. What wit? I
do generally remember a good story when I hear it, and I
tell tolerably well other people’s stories; but I’ve never
invented anything original. I am only a retail dealer.
They say I tell a great many stories. I reckon I do, but I
have found in the course of long experience that people are
more easily informed through the medium of broad
illustration. As to what the hypercritical may think of me .
. . I don’t care.
story for you: When quite young, at school, Daniel Webster
was one day guilty of a gross violation of the rules. He was
called up by the teacher for punishment. This was to be the
old-fashioned ruler slapped to the palm. Daniel’s hands
happened to be very dirty.
Aware of this, on his way to the teacher’s desk he spit upon
the palm of his right hand and wiped it on the side of his
teacher] “Give me
your hand, sir,” said the teacher sternly.
the right hand, partly cleansed.
The teacher looked at it a moment, then said, “Daniel, if
you can find another hand in this classroom as filthy as
that, I will let you off, this time.”
from behind his back, came the left hand.
[youngster] “Here it
is, sir,” was the boy’s ready reply.
said, “That will do; for this time, you can take your seat.”
story? I think so. Of my own devising? I’m afraid not.
But with the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if
I did not laugh I should die. Laughter is the joyous,
My politics, ladies and gentlemen, are short and sweet, like
the old woman’s dance. Simply stated: “A man who denies to
other men equality of rights is hardly worthy of freedom;
but I would give even to him all the rights which I claim
for myself.” My chief concern, and my chief remedy for the
ills plaguing our United States of America today, is
the urgent necessity for preserving and perpetuating our
Allow me a few minutes to explain:
In the great journal of
things happening under the sun, we, the American People,
find ourselves in possession of the fairest portion of the
earth—as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil,
salubrity of climate.
We find ourselves governed by
a system of political institutions—leading more essentially
to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of
which the history of former times tells us.
We find ourselves the
inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in
the acquirement or establishment of them—they are a legacy
bequeathed us, by a hardy, brave, and patriotic, race of
Theirs was the task—and nobly
they performed it—to raise up upon our hills and its valleys
a political edifice of liberty and equal rights. 'Tis our
task only to transmit these to the latest generation that
fate shall permit the world to know.
This task—of gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves,
duty to posterity, and love for our species in general—we
are imperatively required faithfully to perform.
How shall we perform it? At what point shall we expect the
approach of danger? By what means
shall we fortify against danger? Shall we expect some
transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush
us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and
Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth in their
military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not
by force, take a drink from the Ohio!
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected?
If it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot
come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must
ourselves be its author and finisher.
As a nation of free men, we must live through all time, or
But, it may be asked, why suppose danger to our political
institutions? We hope there is no sufficient reason; but to
conclude that no danger may arise, would itself be extremely
dangerous. That our Government
should have been maintained in its original form from its
establishment until now, is not much to be wondered at. It
had many props to support it.
Props that now are decayed and crumbled away. Through that
period, it was felt by all, to be an
experiment; now it is understood to be a successful one.
all that sought celebrity and fame and distinction, expected
to find them in the success of that experiment.
was staked upon it. Their
linked with it.
Their ambition aspired to display before an admiring world,
a practical demonstration of the simple, single, truth of a
proposition, namely, the capability of a
people to govern themselves . . . .
Niagara-Falls! Have you seen
it? By what mysterious power is it that millions and
millions, are drawn from all parts of the world, to gaze
upon Niagara Falls?
There is no mystery about the
thing itself. Every effect is just such as any intelligent
man, knowing the causes, would anticipate:
If water moving onward in a
great river, reaches a point where there is a perpendicular
jog, of a hundred feet in descent, it is plain that the
water will have a violent and continuous plunge at that
It is also plain that the
water, thus plunging, will foam, and roar, and send up a
mist, continuously, in which during sunshine there will be
perpetual rainbows . . . .