Fiction > Eugene O’Neill > Three Plays > III. The First Man > Act III
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Eugene O’Neill (1888–1953).  Three Plays. 1922.
  
III. The First Man
Act III
The same—three o’clock in the morning of a day in early spring of the next year
  
SCENESame as Act II.   1
  As the curtain rises, JAYSON is discovered sitting in an armchair by the fireplace, in which a log fire is burning fitfully. He is staring into the flames, a strained, expectant expression on his face. It is about three o’clock in the morning. There is no light but that furnished by the fire which fills the room with shifting shadows. The door in the rear is opened and RICHARD appears, his face harried by the stress of unusual emotion. Through the opened doorway, a low, muffled moan of anguish sounds from the upper part of the house. JAYSON and RICHARD both shudder. The latter closes the door behind him quickly as if anxious to shut out the noise.   2
  
  JAYSON—[Looking up anxiously.] Well?   3
  RICHARD—[Involuntarily straightening up as if about to salute and report to a superior officer.] No change, sir. [Then, as if remembering himself, comes to the fireplace and slumps down in a chair—agitatedly.] God, Dad, I can’t stand her moaning and screaming! It’s got my nerves shot to pieces. I thought I was hardened. I’ve heard them out in No Man’s Land—dying by inches—when you couldn’t get to them or help—but this is worse—a million times! After all, that was war—and they were men——   4
  JAYSON—Martha is having an exceptionally hard ordeal.   5
  RICHARD—Since three o’clock this morning—yesterday morning, I should say. It’s a wonder she isn’t dead.   6
  JAYSON—[After a pause.] Where is Curt?   7
  RICHARD—[Harshly.] Still out in the garden, walking around bareheaded in the cold like a lunatic.   8
  JAYSON—Why didn’t you make him come in?   9
  RICHARD—Make him! It’s easy to say. He’s in a queer state, Dad, I can tell you! There’s something torturing him besides her pain——  10
  JAYSON—[After a pause.] Yes, there’s a lot in all this we don’t know about.  11
  RICHARD—I suppose the reason he’s so down on the family is because we’ve rather cut her since that tea affair.  12
  JAYSON—He shouldn’t blame us. She acted abominably and has certainly caused enough talk since then—always about with Bigelow——  13
  RICHARD—[With a sardonic laugh.] And yet he keeps asking everyone to send for Bigelow—says he wants to talk to him—not us. We can’t understand! [He laughs bitterly.]  14
  JAYSON—I’m afraid Curt knows we understand too much. [Agitatedly.] But why does he want Bigelow, in God’s name? In his present state—with the suspicions he must have—there’s liable to be a frightful scene.  15
  RICHARD—Don’t be afraid of a scene. [With pitying scorn.] The hell of it is he seems to regard Bigelow as his best friend. Damned if I can make it out.  16
  JAYSON—I gave orders that they were always to tell Curt Bigelow was out of town and couldn’t be reached. [With a sigh.] What a frightful situation for all of us! [After a pause.] It may sound cruel of me—but—I can’t help wishing for all our sakes that this child will never——  17
  RICHARD—Yes, Dad, I know what you’re thinking. It would be the best thing for it, too—although I hate myself for saying it. [There is a pause. Then the door in rear is opened and LILY appears. She is pale and agitated. Leaving the door open behind her she comes forward and flings herself on the lounge.]  18
  JAYSON—[Anxiously.] Well?  19
  LILY—[Irritably, getting up and switching on the lights.] Isn’t everything gloomy enough? [Sits down.] I couldn’t bear it upstairs one second longer. Esther and Emily are coming down, too. It’s too much for them—and they’ve had personal experience. [Trying to mask her agitation by a pretense at flippancy.] I hereby become a life-member of the birth-control league. Let’s let humanity cease—if God can’t manage its continuance any better than that!  20
  RICHARD—[Seriously.] Second the motion.  21
  JAYSON—[Peevishly.] You’re young idiots. Keep your blasphemous nonsense to yourself, Lily!  22
  LILY—[Jumping up and stamping her foot—hysterically.] I can’t stand it. Take me home, Dick, won’t you? We’re doing no good waiting here. I’ll have a fit—or something—if I stay.  23
  RICHARD—[Glad of the excuse to go himself—briskly.] That’s how I feel. I’ll drive you home. Come along. [ESTHER and EMILY enter, followed by JOHN.]  24
  LILY—[Excitedly.] I’ll never marry or have a child! Never, never! I’ll go into Mark’s office tomorrow and make myself independent of marriage.  25
  ESTHER—Sssh! Lily! Don’t you know you’re shouting? And what silly talk!  26
  LILY—I’ll show you whether it’s silly! I’ll——  27
  RICHARD—[Impatiently.] Are you coming or not?  28
  LILY—[Quickly.] Yes—wait—here I am. [She pushes past the others and follows RICHARD out rear. ESTHER and EMILY sit on couch—JOHN on chair, right rear.]  29
  ESTHER—[With a sigh.] I thought I went through something when mine were born—but this is too awful.  30
  EMILY—And, according to John, Curt actually says he hates it! Isn’t that terrible? [After a pause—meaningly.] It’s almost as if her suffering was a punishment, don’t you think?  31
  ESTHER—If it is, she’s being punished enough, Heaven knows. It can’t go on this way much longer or something dreadful will happen.  32
  EMILY—Do you think the baby——  33
  ESTHER—I don’t know. I shouldn’t say it but perhaps it would be better if——  34
  EMILY—That’s what I think.  35
  ESTHER—Oh, I wish I didn’t have such evil suspicions—but the way Curt goes on—how can you help feeling there’s something wrong?  36
  JAYSON—[Suddenly.] How is Curt?  37
  EMILY—John just came in from the garden. [Turning around to where JOHN is dozing in his chair—sharply.] John! Well I never! If he isn’t falling asleep! John! [He jerks up his head and stares at her, blinking stupidly. She continues irritably.] A nice time to pick out for a nap, I must say.  38
  JOHN—[Surlily.] Don’t forget I have to be at the bank in the morning.  39
  JAYSON—[Testily.] I have to be at the bank, too—and you don’t notice me sleeping. Tell me about Curt. You just left him, didn’t you?  40
  JOHN—[Irritably.] Yes, and I’ve been walking around that damned garden half the night watching over him. Isn’t that enough to wear anyone out? I can feel I’ve got a terrible cold coming on——  41
  ESTHER—[Impatiently.] For goodness sake, don’t you start to pity yourself!  42
  JOHN—[Indignantly.] I’m not. I think I’ve showed my willingness to do everything I could. If Curt was only the least bit grateful! He isn’t. He hates us all and wishes we were out of his home. I would have left long ago if I didn’t want to do my part in saving the family name from disgrace.  43
  JAYSON—[Impatiently.] Has he quieted down, that’s what I want to know?  44
  JOHN—[Harshly.] Not the least bit. He’s out of his head—and I’d be out of mine if a child was being born to my wife that——  45
  JAYSON—[Angrily.] Keep that to yourself! Remember you have no proof. [Morosely.] Think all you want—but don’t talk.  46
  EMILY—[Pettishly.] The whole town knows it, anyway; I’m sure they must.  47
  JAYSON—There’s only been gossip—no real scandal. Let’s do our united best to keep it at that. [After a pause.] Where’s Aunt Elizabeth? We’ll have to keep an eye on her, too, or she’s quite liable to blurt out the whole business before all comers.  48
  ESTHER—You needn’t be afraid. She’s forgotten all about the scandalous part. No word of it has come to her out in the country and she hasn’t set foot in town since that unfortunate tea, remember. And at present she’s so busy wishing the child will be a boy, that she hasn’t a thought for another thing. [The door in the rear is opened and MARK SHEFFIELD enters. He comes up to the fire to warm himself. The others watch him in silence for a moment.]  49
  JAYSON—[Impatiently.] Well, Mark? Where’s Curt?  50
  SHEFFIELD—[Frowning.] Inside. I think he’ll be with us in a minute. [With a scornful smile.] Just now he’s ’phoning to Bigelow. [The others gasp.]  51
  JAYSON—[Furiously.] For God’s sake, couldn’t you stop him?  52
  SHEFFIELD—Not without a scene. Your Aunt persuaded him to come into the house—and he rushed for the ’phone. I think he guessed we had been lying to him——  53
  JAYSON—[After a pause.] Then he—Bigelow will be here soon?  54
  SHEFFIELD—[Drily.] It depends on his sense of decency. As he seems lacking in that quality, I’ve no doubt he’ll come.  55
  JOHN—[Rising to his feet—pompously.] Then I, for one, will go. Come, Emily. Since Curt seems bound to disgrace everyone concerned, I want it thoroughly understood that we wash our hands of the whole disgraceful affair.  56
  EMILY—[Snappishly.] Go if you want to! I won’t! [Then with a sacrificing air.] I think it is our duty to stay.  57
  JAYSON—[Exasperated.] Sit down. Wash your hands indeed! Aren’t you as much concerned as any of us?  58
  SHEFFIELD—[Sharply.] Sshh! I think I hear Curt now. [JOHN sits down abruptly. All stiffen into stony attitudes. The door is opened and CURT enters. He is incredibly drawn and haggard, a tortured, bewildered expression in his eyes. His hair is dishevelled, his boots caked with mud. He stands at the door staring from one to the other of his family with a wild, contemptuous scorn and mutters.]  59
  CURTIS—Liars! Well, he’s coming now. [Then bewilderedly.] Why didn’t you want him to come, eh? He’s my oldest friend. I’ve got to talk to someone—and I can’t to you. [Wildly.] What do you want here, anyway? Why don’t you go? [A scream of MARTHA’S is heard through the doorway. CURT shudders violently, slams the door to with a crash, putting his shoulders against it as if to bar out the sound inexorably—in anguish.] God, why must she go through such agony? Why? Why? [He goes to the fireplace as MARK makes way for him, flings himself exhaustedly on a chair, his shoulders bowed, his face hidden in his hands. The others stare at him pityingly. There is a long silence. Then the two women whisper together, get up and tiptoe out of the room, motioning for the others to follow them. JOHN does so. SHEFFIELD starts to go, then notices the preoccupied JAYSON who is staring moodily into the fire.]  60
  SHEFFIELD—Sstt! [As JAYSON looks up—in a whisper.] Let’s go out and leave him alone. Perhaps he’ll sleep.  61
  JAYSON—[Starting to follow SHEFFIELD, hesitates and puts a hand on his son’s shoulder.] Curt. Remember I’m your father. Can’t you confide in me? I’ll do anything to help.  62
  CURTIS—[Harshly.] No, Dad. Leave me alone.  63
  JAYSON—[Piqued.] As you wish. [He starts to go.]  64
  CURTIS—And send Big in to me as soon as he comes.  65
  JAYSON—[Stops, appears about to object—then remarks coldly.] Very well—if you insist. [He switches off the lights. He hesitates at the door uncertainly, then opens it and goes out. There is a pause. Then CURT lifts his head and peers about the room. Seeing he is alone he springs to his feet and begins to pace back and forth, his teeth clenched, his features working convulsively. Then, as if attracted by an irresistible impulse, he goes to the closed door and puts his ear to the crack. He evidently hears his wife’s moans for he starts away—in agony.]  66
  CURTIS—Oh, Martha, Martha! Martha, darling! [He flings himself in the chair by the fireplace—hides his face in his hands and sobs bitterly. There is a ring from somewhere in the house. Soon after there is a knock at the door. CURTIS doesn’t hear at first but when it is repeated he mutters huskily.] Come in. [BIGELOW enters. CURT looks up at him.] Close that door, Big, for God’s sake!  67
  BIGELOW—[Does so—then taking off his overcoat, hat, and throwing them on the lounge comes quickly over to CURT.] I got over as soon as I could. [As he sees CURT’S face he starts and says sympathetically.] By Jove, old man, you look as though you’d been through hell!  68
  CURTIS—[Grimly.] I have. I am.  69
  BIGELOW—[Slapping his back.] Buck up! [Then anxiously.] How’s Martha?  70
  CURTIS—She’s in hell, too——  71
  BIGELOW—[Attempting consolation.] You’re surely not worrying, are you? Martha is so strong and healthy there’s no doubt of her pulling through in fine shape.  72
  CURTIS—She should never have attempted this. [After a pause.] I’ve a grudge against you, Big. It was you bringing your children over here that first planted this in her mind.  73
  BIGELOW—[After a pause.] I’ve guessed you thought that. That’s why you haven’t noticed me—or them—over here so much lately. I’ll confess that I felt you— [Angrily.] And the infernal gossip—I’ll admit I thought that you—oh, damn this rotten town, anyway!  74
  CURTIS—[Impatiently.] Oh, for God’s sake! [Bitterly.] I didn’t want you here to discuss Bridgetown gossip.  75
  BIGELOW—I know, old man, forgive me. [In spite of the closed door one of MARTHA’S agonized moans is heard. They both shudder.]  76
  CURTIS—[In a dead, monotonous tone.] She has been moaning like that hour after hour. I shall have those sounds in my ears until the day I die. Nothing can ever make me forget—nothing.  77
  BIGELOW—[Trying to distract him.] Deuce take it, Curt, what’s the matter with you? I never thought you’d turn morbid.  78
  CURTIS—[Darkly.] I’ve changed, Big—I hardly know myself any more.  79
  BIGELOW—Once you’re back on the job again, you’ll be all right. You’re still determined to go on this expedition, aren’t you?  80
  CURTIS—Yes. I was supposed to join them this week in New York but I’ve arranged to catch up with them in China—as soon as it’s possible for us to go.  81
  BIGELOW—Us? You mean you still plan to take——  82
  CURTIS—[Angrily aggressive.] Yes, certainly! Why not? Martha ought to be able to travel in a month or so.  83
  BIGELOW—Yes, but—do you think it would be safe to take the child?  84
  CURTIS—[With a bitter laugh.] Yes—I was forgetting the child, wasn’t I? [Viciously.] But perhaps— [Then catching himself with a groan.] Oh, damn all children, Big!  85
  BIGELOW—[Astonished.] Curt!  86
  CURTIS—[In anguish.] I can’t help it—I’ve fought against it. But it’s there—deep down in me—and I can’t drive it out. I can’t!  87
  BIGELOW—[Bewildered.] What, Curt?  88
  CURTIS—Hatred! Yes, hatred! What’s the use of denying it? I must tell someone and you’re the only one who might understand. [With a wild laugh.] For you—hated your wife, didn’t you?  89
  BIGELOW—[Stunned.] Good God, you don’t mean you hate—Martha?  90
  CURTIS—[Raging.] Hate Martha? How dare you, you fool! I love Martha—love her with every miserable drop of blood in me—with all my life—all my soul! She is my whole world—everything! Hate Martha! God, man, have you gone crazy to say such a mad thing? [Savagely.] No. I hate it. It!  91
  BIGELOW—[Shocked.] Curt! Don’t you know you can’t talk like that—now—when—  92
  CURTIS—[Harshly.] It has made us both suffer torments—not only now—every day, every hour, for months and months. Why shouldn’t I hate it, eh?  93
  BIGELOW—[Staring at his friend’s wild, distorted face with growing horror.] Curt! Can’t you realize how horrible——  94
  CURTIS—Yes, it’s horrible. I’ve told myself that a million times. [With emphasis.] But it’s true!  95
  BIGELOW—[Severely.] Shut up! You’re not yourself. Come, think for a moment. What would Martha feel if she heard you going on this way? Why—it would kill her!  96
  CURTIS—[With a sobbing groan.] Oh, I know, I know! [After a pause.] She read it in my eyes. Yes, it’s horrible, but when I saw her there suffering so frightfully—I couldn’t keep it out of my eyes. I tried to force it back—for her sake—but I couldn’t. I was holding her hands and her eyes searched mine with such a longing question in them—and she read only my hatred there, not my love for her. And she screamed and seemed to try to push me away. I wanted to kneel down and pray for forgiveness—to tell her it was only my love for her—that I couldn’t help it. And then the doctors told me to leave—and now the door is locked against me—— [He sobs.]  97
  BIGELOW—[Greatly moved.] This is only your damned imagination. They put you out because you were in their way, that’s all. And as for Martha, she was probably suffering so much——  98
  CURTIS—No. She read it in my eyes. I saw that look in hers—of horror—horror of me!  99
  BIGELOW—[Gruffly.] You’re raving, damn it! 100
  CURTIS—[Unheeding.] It came home to her then—the undeniable truth. [With a groan.] Isn’t it fiendish that I should be the one to add to her torture—in spite of myself—in spite of all my will to conceal it! She will never forgive me, never! And how can I forgive myself? 101
  BIGELOW—[Distractedly.] For God’s sake, don’t think about it! It’s absurd—ridiculous! 102
  CURTIS—[Growing more calm—in a tone of obsession.] She’s guessed it ever since that day when we quarreled—her birthday. Oh, you can have no idea of the misery there has been in our lives since then. You haven’t seen or guessed the reason. No one has. It has been—the thought of it. 103
  BIGELOW—Curt! 104
  CURTIS—[Unheeding.] For years we had welded our lives together so that we two were sufficient, each to each. There was no room for a third. And it was a fine, free life we had made—a life of new worlds, of discovery, of knowledge invaluable to mankind. Isn’t such a life worth all the sacrifice it must entail? 105
  BIGELOW—But that life was your life, Curt—— 106
  CURTIS—[Vehemently.] No, it was her life, too—her work as well as mine. She had made the life, our life—the work, our work. Had she the right to repudiate what she had built because she suddenly has a fancy for a home, children, a miserable ease! I had thought I was her home, her children. I had tried to make my life worthy of being that to her. And I had failed. I was not enough. 107
  BIGELOW—Curt! 108
  CURTIS—Oh, I tried to become reconciled. I tried my damnedest. I tried to love this child as I had loved those that died. But I couldn’t. And so, this being estranged us. We loved as intensely as ever but it pushed us apart. I grew to dread the idea of this intruder. She saw this in me. I denied it—but she knew. There was something in each of us the other grew to hate. And still we loved as never before, perhaps, for we grew to pity each other’s helplessness. 109
  BIGELOW—Curt! Are you sure you ought to tell anyone this? 110
  CURTIS—[Waving his remark aside.] One day, when I was trying to imagine myself without her, and finding nothing but hopelessness—yet knowing I must go—a thought suddenly struck me—a horrible but fascinating possibility that had never occurred to me before. [With feverish intensity.] Can you guess what it was? 111
  BIGELOW—No. And I think you’ve done enough morbid raving, if you ask me. 112
  CURTIS—The thought that came to me was that if a certain thing happened, Martha could still go with me. And I knew, if it did happen, that she would want to go, that she would fling herself into the spirit of our work to forget, that she would be mine more than ever. 113
  BIGELOW—[Afraid to believe the obvious answer.] Curt! 114
  CURTIS—Yes. My thought was that the child might be born dead. 115
  BIGELOW—[Repelled—sternly.] Damn it, man, do you know what you’re saying? [Relentingly.] No, Curt, old boy, do stop talking. If you don’t I’ll send for a doctor, damned if I won’t. That talk belongs in an asylum. God, man, can’t you realize this is your child—yours as well as hers? 116
  CURTIS—I’ve tried. I cannot. There is some inexorable force in me—— 117
  BIGELOW—[Coldly.] Do you realize how contemptible this confession makes you out? [Angrily.] Why, if you had one trace of human kindness in you—one bit of unselfish love for your wife—one particle of pity for her suffering—— 118
  CURTIS—[Anguished.] I have—all the love and pity in the world for her! That’s why I can’t help hating—the cause of her suffering. 119
  BIGELOW—Have you never thought that you might repay Martha for giving up all her life to you by devoting the rest of yours to her? 120
  CURTIS—[Bitterly.] She can be happy without me. She will have this child—to take my place. [Intensely.] You think I would not give up my work for her? But I would! I will stay here—do anything she wishes—if only we can make a new beginning again—together—alone! 121
  BIGELOW—[Agitated.] Curt, for God’s sake, don’t return to that! Why, good God, man—even now—while you’re speaking—don’t you realize what may be happening? And you can talk as if you were wishing—— 122
  CURTIS—[Fiercely.] I can’t help but wish it! 123
  BIGELOW—[Distractedly.] For the love of God, if you have such thoughts, keep them to yourself. I won’t listen! You make me despise life! 124
  CURTIS—And would you have me love life? [The door in the rear is opened and JAYSON enters, pale and unnerved. A succession of quick, piercing shrieks is heard before he can close the door behind him. Shuddering.] My God! My God! [With a fierce cry.] Will—this—never—end! 125
  JAYSON—[Tremblingly.] Sh-h-h, they say this is the crisis. [Puts his arm around CURT.] Bear up, my boy, it will soon be over now. [He sits down in the chair BIGELOW has vacated, pointedly ignoring the latter. The door is opened again and EMILY, ESTHER, JOHN and SHEFFIELD file in quickly as if escaping from the cries of the woman upstairs. They are all greatly agitated. CURT groans, pressing his clenched fists against his ears. The two women sit on the lounge. MARK comes forward and stands by JAYSONs chair, JOHN sits by the door as before. BIGELOW retreats behind CURT’S chair, aware of their hostility. There is a long pause.] 126
  ESTHER—[Suddenly.] She has stopped— [They all listen.] 127
  JAYSON—[Huskily.] Thank God, it’s over at last. [The door is opened and MRS. DAVIDSON enters. The old lady is radiant, weeping tears of joy.] 128
  MRS. DAVIDSON—[Calls out exultantly between sobs.] A son, Curt—a son. [With rapt fervor—falling on her knees.] Let us all give thanks to God! 129
  CURTIS—[In a horrible cry of rage and anguish.] No! No! You lie! [They all cry out in fright and amazement: “CURT”! The door is opened and the NURSE appears.] 130
  NURSE—[Looking at CURTIS in a low voice.] Mr. Jayson, your wife is asking for you. 131
  BIGELOW—[Promptly slapping CURT on the back.] There! What did I tell you? Run, you chump! 132
  CURTIS—[With a gasp of joy.] Martha! Darling, I’m coming—— [He rushes out after the NURSE.] 133
  BIGELOW—[Comes forward to get his hat and coat from the sofa—coldly.] Pardon me, please. [They shrink away from him.] 134
  EMILY—[As he goes to the door—cuttingly.] Some people seem to have no sense of decency! 135
  BIGELOW—[Stung, stops at the door and looks from one to the other of them—bitingly.] No, I quite agree with you. [He goes out, shutting the door. They all gasp angrily.] 136
  JOHN—Scoundrel! 137
  JAYSON—[Testily—going to MRS. D., who is still on her knees praying.] Do get up, Aunt Elizabeth! How ridiculous! What a scene if anyone should see you like that. [He raises her to her feet and leads her to a chair by the fire. She obeys unresistingly, seemingly unaware of what she is doing.] 138
  ESTHER—[Unable to restrain her jealousy.] So it’s a boy. 139
  EMILY—Did you hear Curt—how he yelled out “No”? It’s plain as the nose on your face he didn’t want—— 140
  ESTHER—How awful! 141
  JOHN—Well, can you blame him? 142
  EMILY—And the awful cheek of that Bigelow person—coming here—— 143
  ESTHER—They appeared as friendly as ever when we came in. 144
  JOHN—[Scornfully.] Curt is a blind simpleton—and that man is a dyed-in-the-wool scoundrel. 145
  JAYSON—[Frightenedly.] Shhh! Suppose we were overheard! 146
  EMILY—When Curt leaves we can put her in her proper place. I’ll soon let her know she hasn’t fooled me, for one. [While she is speaking MRS. D. has gotten up and is going silently toward the door.] 147
  JAYSON—[Testily.] Aunt Elizabeth, where are you going? 148
  MRS. D.—[Tenderly.] I must see him again, the dear! [She goes out.] 149
  ESTHER—[Devoured by curiosity—hesitatingly.] I think I—come on, Emily. Let’s go up and see—— 150
  EMILY—Not I! I never want to lay eyes on it. 151
  JOHN—Nor I. 152
  ESTHER—I was only thinking—everyone will think it funny if we don’t. 153
  JAYSON—[Hastily.] Yes, yes. We must keep up appearances. [Getting to his feet.] Yes, I think we had better all go up—make some sort of inquiry about Martha, you know. It’s expected of us and—— [They are all standing, hesitating, when the door in the rear is opened and the NURSE appears, supporting CURT. The latter is like a corpse. His face is petrified with grief, his body seems limp and half-paralyzed.] 154
  NURSE—[Her eyes flashing, indignantly.] It’s a wonder some of you wouldn’t come up—here, help me! Take him, can’t you? I’ve got to run back! [JAYSON and SHEFFIELD spring forward and lead CURT to a chair by the fire.] 155
  JAYSON—[Anxious.] Curt! Curt, my boy! What is it, son? 156
  EMILY—[Catching the NURSE as she tries to go.] Nurse! What is the matter? 157
  NURSE—[Slowly.] His wife is dead. [They are all still, stunned.] She lived just long enough to recognize him. 158
  EMILY—And—the baby? 159
  NURSE—[With a professional air.] Oh, it’s a fine, healthy baby—eleven pounds—that’s what made it so difficult. [She goes. The others all stand in silence.] 160
  ESTHER—[Suddenly sinking on the couch and bursting into tears.] Oh, I’m so sorry I said—or thought—anything wrong about her. Forgive me, Martha! 161
  SHEFFIELD—[Honestly moved but unable to resist this opportunity for Latin—solemnly.] De mortuis nil nisi bonum. 162
  JAYSON—[Who has been giving all his attention to his son.] Curt! Curt! 163
  EMILY—Hadn’t the doctor better—— 164
  JAYSON—Shhh! He begins to recognize me. Curt! 165
  CURTIS—[Looking around him bewilderedly.] Yes. [Suddenly remembrance comes and a spasm of intolerable pain contracts his features. He presses his hands to the side of his head and groans brokenly.] Martha! Gone! Dead! Oh! [He appeals wildly to the others.] Her eyes—she knew me—she smiled—she whispered—forgive me, Curt,—forgive her—when it was I who should have said forgive me—but before I could—she—— [He falters brokenly.] 166
  EMILY—[Looking from one to the other meaningly as if this justified all their suspicions.] Oh! 167
  CURTIS—[A sudden triumph in his voice.] But she loved me again—only me—I saw it in her eyes! She had forgotten—it. [Raging.] Never let me see it! Never let it come near me! It has murdered her! [Springing to his feet.] I hate it from the bottom of my soul—I will never see it—never—never—I take my oath! [As his father takes his arm—shaking him off.] Let me go! I am going back to her! [He strides out of the door in a frenzy of grief and rage. They all stand transfixed, looking at each other bewilderedly.] 168
  EMILY—[Putting all her venomous gratification into one word.] Well!

[The Curtain Falls]
 169

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