Part 2 out of 2
are again, God help you? Well, Anna knows it now. 'Twas in her
CHRIS--And Ay don't vant she ever know no-good fallar on sea--
BURKE--She knows one now.
CHRIS--[Banging the table with his fist--furiously.] Dat's yust
it! Dat's yust what you are--no-good, sailor fallar! You tank Ay
lat her life be made sorry by you like her mo'der's vas by me! No,
Ay svear! She don't marry you if Ay gat kill you first!
BURKE--[Looks at him a moment, in astonishment--then laughing
uproariously.] Ho-ho! Glory be to God, it's bold talk you have for
a stumpy runt of a man!
CHRIS--[Threateningly.] Vell--you see!
BURKE--[With grinning defiance.] I'll see, surely! I'll see myself
and Anna married this day, I'm telling you! [Then with
contemptuous exasperation.] It's quare fool's blather you have
about the sea done this and the sea done that. You'd ought to be
shamed to be saying the like, and you an old sailor yourself. I'm
after hearing a lot of it from you and a lot more that Anna's told
me you do be saying to her, and I'm thinking it's a poor weak
thing you are, and not a man at all!
CHRIS--[Darkly.] You see if Ay'm man--maybe quicker'n you tank.
BURKE--[Contemptuously.] Yerra, don't be boasting. I'm thinking
'tis out of your wits you've got with fright of the sea. You'd be
wishing Anna married to a farmer, she told me. That'd be a swate
match, surely! Would you have a fine girl the like of Anna lying
down at nights with a muddy scut stinking of pigs and dung? Or
would you have her tied for life to the like of them skinny,
shrivelled swabs does be working in cities?
CHRIS--Dat's lie, you fool!
BURKE--'Tis not. 'Tis your own mad notions I'm after telling. But
you know the truth in your heart, if great fear of the sea has
made you a liar and coward itself. [Pounding the table.] The sea's
the only life for a man with guts in him isn't afraid of his own
shadow! 'Tis only on the sea he's free, and him roving the face of
the world, seeing all things, and not giving a damn for saving up
money, or stealing from his friends, or any of the black tricks
that a landlubber'd waste his life on. 'Twas yourself knew it
once, and you a bo'sun for years.
CHRIS--[Sputtering with rage.] You vas crazy fool, Ay tal you!
BURKE--You've swallowed the anchor. The sea give you a clout once
knocked you down, and you're not man enough to get up for another,
but lie there for the rest of your life howling bloody murder.
[Proudly.] Isn't it myself the sea has nearly drowned, and me
battered and bate till I was that close to hell I could hear the
flames roaring, and never a groan out of me till the sea gave up
and it seeing the great strength and guts of a man was in me?
CHRIS--[Scornfully.] Yes, you vas hell of fallar, hear you tal it!
BURKE--[Angrily.] You'll be calling me a liar once too often, me
old bucko! Wasn't the whole story of it and my picture itself in
the newspapers of Boston a week back? [Looking CHRIS up and down
belittlingly.] Sure I'd like to see you in the best of your youth
do the like of what I done in the storm and after. 'Tis a mad
lunatic, screeching with fear, you'd be this minute!
CHRIS--Ho-ho! You vas young fool! In ole years when Ay was on
windyammer, Ay vas through hundred storms vorse'n dat! Ships vas
ships den--and men dat sail on dem vas real men. And now what you
gat on steamers? You gat fallars on deck don't know ship from
mudscow. [With a meaning glance at BURKE.] And below deck you gat
fallars yust know how for shovel coal--might yust as veil vork on
coal vagon ashore!
BURKE--[Stung--angrily.] Is it casting insults at the men in the
stokehole ye are, ye old ape? God stiffen you! Wan of them is
worth any ten stock-fish-swilling Square-heads ever shipped on a
CHRIS--[His face working with rage, his hand going back to the
sheath-knife on his hip.] Irish svine, you!
BURKE--[Tauntingly.] Don't ye like the Irish, ye old babboon? 'Tis
that you're needing in your family, I'm telling you--an Irishman
and a man of the stokehole--to put guts in it so that you'll not
be having grandchildren would be fearful cowards and jackasses the
like of yourself!
CHRIS--[Half rising from his chair--in a voice choked with rage.]
You look out!
BURKE--[Watching him intently--a mocking smile on his lips.] And
it's that you'll be having, no matter what you'll do to prevent;
for Anna and me'll be married this day, and no old fool the like
of you will stop us when I've made up my mind.
CHRIS--[With a hoarse cry.] You don't! [He throws himself at
BURKE, knife in hand, knocking his chair over backwards. BURKE
springs to his feet quickly in time to meet the attack. He laughs
with the pure love of battle. The old Swede is like a child in his
hands. BURKE does not strike or mistreat him in any way, but
simply twists his right hand behind his back and forces the knife
from his fingers. He throws the knife into a far corner of the
BURKE--Old men is getting childish shouldn't play with knives.
[Holding the struggling CHRIS at arm's length--with a sudden rush
of anger, drawing back his fist.] I've half a mind to hit you a
great clout will put sense in your square head. Kape off me now,
I'm warning you! [He gives CHRIS a push with the flat of his hand
which sends the old Swede staggering back against the cabin wall,
where he remains standing, panting heavily, his eyes fixed on
BURKE with hatred, as if he were only collecting his strength to
rush at him again.]
BURKE--[Warningly.] Now don't be coming at me again, I'm saying,
or I'll flatten you on the floor with a blow, if 'tis Anna's
father you are itself! I've no patience left for you. [Then with
an amused laugh.] Well, 'tis a bold old man you are just the same,
and I'd never think it was in you to come tackling me alone. [A
shadow crosses the cabin windows. Both men start. ANNA appears in
ANNA--[With pleased surprise as she sees BURKE.] Hello, Mat. Are
you here already? I was down--[She stops, looking from one to the
other, sensing immediately that something has happened.] What's
up? [Then noticing the overturned chair--in alarm.] How'd that
chair get knocked over? [Turning on BURKE reproachfully.] You
ain't been fighting with him, Mat--after you promised?
BURKE--[His old self again.] I've not laid a hand on him, Anna.
[He goes and picks up the chair, then turning on the still
questioning ANNA--with a reassuring smile.] Let you not be worried
at all. 'Twas only a bit of an argument we was having to pass the
time till you'd come.
ANNA--It must have been some argument when you got to throwing
chairs. [She turns on CHRIS.] Why don't you say something? What
was it about?
CHRIS--[Relaxing at last--avoiding her eyes--sheepishly.] Ve vas
talking about ships and fallars on sea.
ANNA--[With a relieved smile.] Oh--the old stuff, eh?
BURKE--[Suddenly seeming to come to a bold decision--with a
defiant grin at CHRIS.] He's not after telling you the whole of
it. We was arguing about you mostly.
ANNA--[With a frown.] About me?
BURKE--And we'll be finishing it out right here and now in your
presence if you're willing. [He sits down at the left of table.]
ANNA--[Uncertainly--looking from him to her father.] Sure. Tell me
what it's all about.
CHRIS--[Advancing toward the table--protesting to BURKE.] No! You
don't do dat, you! You tal him you don't vant for hear him talk,
ANNA--But I do. I want this cleared up.
CHRIS--[Miserably afraid now.] Vell, not now, anyvay. You vas
going ashore, yes? You ain't got time--
ANNA--[Firmly.] Yes, right here and now. [She turns to BURKE.] You
tell me, Mat, since he don't want to.
BURKE--[Draws a deep breath--then plunges in boldly.] The whole of
it's in a few words only. So's he'd make no mistake, and him
hating the sight of me, I told him in his teeth I loved you.
[Passionately.] And that's God truth, Anna, and well you know it!
CHRIS--[Scornfully--forcing a laugh.] Ho-ho! He tal same tang to
gel every port he go!
ANNA--[Shrinking from her father with repulsion--resentfully.]
Shut up, can't you? [Then to BURKE--feelingly.] I know it's true,
Mat. I don't mind what he says.
BURKE--[Humbly grateful.] God bless you!
ANNA--And then what?
BURKE--And then--[Hesitatingly.] And then I said--[He looks at
her pleadingly.] I said I was sure--I told him I thought you have
a bit of love for me, too. [Passionately.] Say you do, Anna! Let
you not destroy me entirely, for the love of God! [He grasps both
her hands in his two.]
ANNA--[Deeply moved and troubled--forcing a trembling laugh.] So
you told him that, Mat? No wonder he was mad. [Forcing out the
words.] Well, maybe it's true, Mat. Maybe I do. I been thinking
and thinking--I didn't want to, Mat, I'll own up to that--I tried
to cut it out--but--[She laughs helplessly.] I guess I can't help
it anyhow. So I guess I do, Mat. [Then with a sudden joyous
defiance.] Sure I do! What's the use of kidding myself different?
Sure I love you, Mat!
CHRIS--[With a cry of pain.] Anna! [He sits crushed.]
BURKE--[With a great depth of sincerity in his humble gratitude.]
God be praised!
ANNA--[Assertively.] And I ain't never loved a man in my life
before, you can always believe that--no matter what happens.
BURKE--[Goes over to her and puts his arms around her.] Sure I do
be believing ivery word you iver said or iver will say. And 'tis
you and me will be having a grand, beautiful life together to the
end of our days! [He tries to kiss her. At first she turns away
her head--then, overcome by a fierce impulse of passionate love,
she takes his head in both her hands and holds his face close to
hers, staring into his eyes. Then she kisses him full on the
ANNA--[Pushing him away from her--forcing a broken laugh.] Good-
bye. [She walks to the doorway in rear--stands with her back
toward them, looking out. Her shoulders quiver once or twice as if
she were fighting back her sobs.]
BURKE--[Too in the seventh heaven of bliss to get any correct
interpretation of her word--with a laugh.] Good-bye, is it? The
divil you say! I'll be coming back at you in a second for more of
the same! [To CHRIS, who has quickened to instant attention at his
daughter's good-bye, and has looked back at her with a stirring of
foolish hope in his eyes.] Now, me old bucko, what'll you be
saying? You heard the words from her own lips. Confess I've bate
you. Own up like a man when you're bate fair and square. And
here's my hand to you--[Holds out his hand.] And let you take it
and we'll shake and forget what's over and done, and be friends
from this out.
CHRIS--[With implacable hatred.] Ay don't shake hands vith you
fallar--not vhile Ay live!
BURKE--[Offended.] The back of my hand to you then, if that suits
you better. [Growling.] 'Tis a rotten bad loser you are, divil
CHRIS--Ay don't lose--[Trying to be scornful and self-convincing.]
Anna say she like you little bit but you don't hear her say she
marry you, Ay bet. [At the sound of her name ANNA has turned round
to them. Her face is composed and calm again, but it is the dead
calm of despair.]
BURKE--[Scornfully.] No, and I wasn't hearing her say the sun is
CHRIS--[Doggedly.] Dat's all right. She don't say it, yust same.
ANNA--[Quietly--coming forward to them.] No, I didn't say it, Mat.
CHRIS--[Eagerly.] Dere! You hear!
BURKE--[Misunderstanding her--with a grin.] You're waiting till
you do be asked, you mane? Well, I'm asking you now. And we'll be
married this day, with the help of God!
ANNA--[Gently.] You heard what I said, Mat--after I kissed you?
BURKE--[Alarmed by something in her manner.] No--I disremember.
ANNA--I said good-bye. [Her voice trembling.] That kiss was for
BURKE--[Terrified.] What d'you mane?
ANNA--I can't marry you, Mat--and we've said good-bye. That's all.
CHRIS--[Unable to hold back his exultation.] Ay know it! Ay know
dat vas so!
BURKE--[Jumping to his feet--unable to believe his ears.] Anna! Is
it making game of me you'd be? 'Tis a quare time to joke with me,
and don't be doing it, for the love of God.
ANNA--[Looking him in the eyes--steadily.] D'you think I'd kid you
now? No, I'm not joking, Mat. I mean what I said.
BURKE--Ye don't! Ye can't! 'Tis mad you are. I'm telling you!
ANNA--[Fixedly.] No I'm not.
BURKE--[Desperately.] But what's come over you so sudden? You was
saying you loved me--
ANNA--I'll say that as often as you want me to. It's true.
BURKE--[Bewilderedly.] Then why--what, in the divil's name--Oh,
God help me, I can't make head or tail to it at all!
ANNA--Because it's the best way out I can figure, Mat. [Her voice
catching.] I been thinking it over and thinking it over day and
night all week. Don't think it ain't hard on me, too, Mat.
BURKE--For the love of God, tell me then, what is it that's
preventing you wedding me when the two of us has love? [Suddenly
getting an idea and pointing at CHRIS--exasperatedly.] Is it
giving heed to the like of that old fool ye are, and him hating me
and filling your ears full of bloody lies against me?
CHRIS--[Getting to his feet--raging triumphantly before ANNA has a
chance to get in a word.] Yes, Anna believe me, not you! She know
her old fa'der don't lie like you.
ANNA--[Turning on her father angrily.] You sit down, d'you hear?
Where do you come in butting in and making things worse? You're
like a devil, you are! [Harshly.] Good Lord, and I was beginning
to like you, beginning to forget all I've got held up against you!
CHRIS--[Crushed--feebly.] You ain't got nutting for hold against
ANNA--Ain't I yust! Well, lemme tell you--[She glances at BURKE
and stops abruptly.] Say, Mat, I'm s'prised at you. You didn't
think anything he'd said--
BURKE--[Glumly.] Sure, what else would it be?
ANNA--Think I've ever paid any attention to all his crazy bull?
Gee, you must take me for a five-year-old kid.
BURKE--[Puzzled and beginning to be irritated at her too.] I don't
know how to take you, with your saying this one minute and that
ANNA--Well, he has nothing to do with it.
BURKE--Then what is it has? Tell me, and don't keep me waiting and
ANNA--[Resolutely] I can't tell you--and I won't. I got a good
reason--and that's all you need to know. I can't marry you, that's
all there is to it. [Distractedly.] So, for Gawd's sake, let's
talk of something else.
BURKE--I'll not! [Then fearfully.] Is it married to someone else
you are--in the West maybe?
ANNA--[Vehemently.] I should say not.
BURKE--[Regaining his courage.] To the divil with all other
reasons then. They don't matter with me at all. [He gets to his
feet confidently, assuming a masterful tone.] I'm thinking you're
the like of them women can't make up their mind till they're drove
to it. Well, then, I'll make up your mind for you bloody quick.
[He takes her by the arms, grinning to soften his serious
bullying.] We've had enough of talk! Let you be going into your
room now and be dressing in your best and we'll be going ashore.
CHRIS--[Aroused--angrily.] No, py God, she don't do that! [Takes
hold of her arm.]
ANNA--[Who has listened to BURKE in astonishment. She draws away
from him, instinctively repelled by his tone, but not exactly sure
if he is serious or not--a trace of resentment in her voice.] Say,
where do you get that stuff?
BURKE--[Imperiously.] Never mind, now! Let you go get dressed, I'm
saying, [Then turning to CHRIS.] We'll be seeing who'll win in the
end--me or you.
CHRIS--[To ANNA--also in an authoritative tone.] You stay right
here, Anna, you hear! [ANNA stands looking from one to the other
of them as if she thought they had both gone crazy. Then the
expression of her face freezes into the hardened sneer of her
BURKE--[Violently.] She'll not! She'll do what I say! You've had
your hold on her long enough. It's my turn now.
ANNA--[With a hard laugh.] Your turn? Say, what am I, anyway?
BURKE--'Tis not what you are, 'tis what you're going to be this
day--and that's wedded to me before night comes. Hurry up now with
CHRIS--[Commandingly.] You don't do one tang he say, Anna! [ANNA
BURKE--She will, so!
CHRIS--Ay tal you she don't! Ay'm her fa'der.
BURKE--She will in spite of you. She's taking my orders from this
out, not yours.
ANNA--[Laughing again.] Orders is good!
BURKE--[Turning to her impatiently.] Hurry up now, and shake a
leg. We've no time to be wasting. [Irritated as she doesn't move.]
Do you hear what I'm telling you?
CHRIS--You stay dere, Anna!
ANNA--[At the end of her patience--blazing out at them
passionately.] You can go to hell, both of you! [There is
something in her tone that makes them forget their quarrel and
turn to her in a stunned amazement. ANNA laughs wildly.] You're
just like all the rest of them--you two! Gawd, you'd think I was a
piece of furniture! I'll show you! Sit down now! [As they
hesitate--furiously.] Sit down and let me talk for a minute.
You're all wrong, see? Listen to me! I'm going to tell you
something--and then I'm going to beat it. [To BURKE--with a harsh
laugh.] I'm going to tell you a funny story, so pay attention.
[Pointing to CHRIS.] I've been meaning to turn it loose on him
every time he'd get my goat with his bull about keeping me safe
inland. I wasn't going to tell you, but you've forced me into it.
What's the dif? It's all wrong anyway, and you might as well get
cured that way as any other. [With hard mocking.] Only don't
forget what you said a minute ago about it not mattering to you
what other reason I got so long as I wasn't married to no one
BURKE--[Manfully.] That's my word, and I'll stick to it!
ANNA--[Laughing bitterly.] What a chance! You make me laugh,
honest! Want to bet you will? Wait 'n see! [She stands at the
table rear, looking from one to the other of the two men with her
hard, mocking smile. Then she begins, fighting to control her
emotion and speak calmly.] First thing is, I want to tell you two
guys something. You was going on's if one of you had got to own
me. But nobody owns me, see?--'cepting myself. I'll do what I
please and no man, I don't give a hoot who he is, can tell me what
to do! I ain't asking either of you for a living. I can make it
myself--one way or other. I'm my own boss. So put that in your
pipe and smoke it! You and your orders!
BURKE--[Protestingly.] I wasn't meaning it that way at all and
well you know it. You've no call to be raising this rumpus with
me. [Pointing to CHRIS.] 'Tis him you've a right--
ANNA--I'm coming to him. But you--you did mean it that way, too.
You sounded--yust like all the rest. [Hysterically.] But, damn it,
shut up! Let me talk for a change!
BUREKE--'Tis quare, rough talk, that--for a dacent girl the like
ANNA--[With a hard laugh.] Decent? Who told you I was? [CHRIS is
sitting with bowed shoulders, his head in his hands. She leans
over in exasperation and shakes him violently by the shoulder.]
Don't go to sleep, Old Man! Listen here, I'm talking to you now!
CHRIS--[Straightening up and looking about as if he were seeking a
way to escape--with frightened foreboding in his voice.] Ay don't
vant for hear it. You vas going out of head, Ay tank, Anna.
ANNA--[Violently.] Well, living with you is enough to drive anyone
off their nut. Your bunk about the farm being so fine! Didn't I
write you year after year how rotten it was and what a dirty slave
them cousins made of me? What'd you care? Nothing! Not even enough
to come out and see me! That crazy bull about wanting to keep me
away from the sea don't go down with me! You yust didn't want to
be bothered with me! You're like all the rest of 'em!
CHRIS--[Feebly.] Anna! It ain't so--
ANNA--[Not heeding his interruption--revengefully.] But one thing
I never wrote you. It was one of them cousins that you think is
such nice people--the youngest son--Paul--that started me wrong.
[Loudly.] It wasn't none of my fault. I hated him worse 'n hell
and he knew it. But he was big and strong--[Pointing to Burke]--
BURKE--[Half springing to his feet--his fists clenched,] God
blarst it! [He sinks slowly back in his chair again, the knuckles
showing white on his clenched hands, his face tense with the
effort to suppress his grief and rage.]
CHRIS--[In a cry of horrified pain.] Anna!
ANNA--[To him--seeming not to have heard their interruptions.]
That was why I run away from the farm. That was what made me get a
yob as nurse girl in St. Paul. [With a hard, mocking laugh.] And
you think that was a nice yob for a girl, too, don't you?
[Sarcastically.] With all them nice inland fellers yust looking
for a chance to marry me, I s'pose. Marry me? What a chance! They
wasn't looking for marrying. [As BURKE lets a groan of fury escape
him--desperately.] I'm owning up to everything fair and square. I
was caged in, I tell you--yust like in yail--taking care of other
people's kids--listening to 'em bawling and crying day and night--
when I wanted to be out--and I was lonesome--lonesome as hell!
[With a sudden weariness in her voice.] So I give up finally. What
was the use? [She stops and looks at the two men. Both are
motionless and silent. CHRIS seems in a stupor of despair, his
house of cards fallen about him. BURKE's face is livid with the
rage that is eating him up, but he is too stunned and bewildered
yet to find a vent for it. The condemnation she feels in their
silence goads ANNA into a harsh, strident defiance.] You don't say
nothing--either of you--but I know what you're thinking. You're
like all the rest! [To CHRIS--furiously.] And who's to blame for
it, me or you? If you'd even acted like a man--if you'd even been
a regular father and had me with you--maybe things would be
CHRIS--[In agony.] Don't talk dat vay, Anna! Ay go crazy! Ay von't
listen! [Puts his hands over his ears.]
ANNA--[Infuriated by his action--stridently.] You will too listen!
[She leans over and pulls his hands from his ears--with hysterical
rage.] You--keeping me safe inland--I wasn't no nurse girl the
last two years--I lied when I wrote you--I was in a house, that's
what!--yes, that kind of a house--the kind sailors like you and
Mat goes to in port--and your nice inland men, too--and all men,
God damn 'em! I hate 'em! Hate 'em! [She breaks into hysterical
sobbing, throwing herself into the chair and hiding her face in
her hands on the table. The two men have sprung to their feet.]
CHRIS--[Whimpering like a child.] Anna! Anna! It's lie! It's lie!
[He stands wringing his hands together and begins to weep.]
BURKE--[His whole great body tense like a spring--dully and
gropingly.] So that's what's in it!
ANNA--[Raising her head at the sound of his voice--with extreme
mocking bitterness.] I s'pose you remember your promise, Mat? No
other reason was to count with you so long as I wasn't married
already. So I s'pose you want me to get dressed and go ashore,
don't you? [She laughs.] Yes, you do!
BURKE--[On the verge of his outbreak--stammeringly.] God stiffen
ANNA--[Trying to keep up her hard, bitter tone, but gradually
letting a note of pitiful pleading creep in.] I s'pose if I tried
to tell you I wasn't--that--no more you'd believe me, wouldn't
you? Yes, you would! And if I told you that yust getting out in
this barge, and being on the sea had changed me and made me feel
different about things,'s if all I'd been through wasn't me and
didn't count and was yust like it never happened--you'd laugh,
wouldn't you? And you'd die laughing sure if I said that meeting
you that funny way that night in the fog, and afterwards seeing
that you was straight goods stuck on me, had got me to thinking
for the first time, and I sized you up as a different kind of man--
a sea man as different from the ones on land as water is from
mud--and that was why I got stuck on you, too. I wanted to marry
you and fool you, but I couldn't. Don't you see how I'd changed? I
couldn't marry you with you believing a lie--and I was shamed to
tell you the truth--till the both of you forced my hand, and I
seen you was the same as all the rest. And now, give me a bawling
out and beat it, like I can tell you're going to. [She stops,
looking at BURKE. He is silent, his face averted, his features
beginning to work with fury. She pleads passionately.] Will you
believe it if I tell you that loving you has made me--clean? It's
the straight goods, honest! [Then as he doesn't reply--bitterly.]
Like hell you will! You're like all the rest!
BURKE--[Blazing out--turning on her in a perfect frenzy of rage--
his voice trembling with passion.] The rest, is it? God's curse on
you! Clane, is it? You slut, you, I'll be killing you now! [He
picks up the chair on which he has been sitting and, swinging it
high over his shoulder, springs toward her. CHRIS rushes forward
with a cry of alarm, trying to ward off the blow from his
daughter. ANNA looks up into BURKE'S eyes with the fearlessness of
despair. BURKE checks himself, the chair held in the air.]
CHRIS--[Wildly.] Stop, you crazy fool! You vant for murder her!
ANNA--[Pushing her father away brusquely, her eyes still holding
BURKE'S.] Keep out of this, you! [To BURKE--dully.] Well, ain't
you got the nerve to do it? Go ahead! I'll be thankful to you,
honest. I'm sick of the whole game.
BURKE--[Throwing the chair away into a corner of the room--
helplessly.] I can't do it, God help me, and your two eyes looking
at me. [Furiously.] Though I do be thinking I'd have a good right
to smash your skull like a rotten egg. Was there iver a woman in
the world had the rottenness in her that you have, and was there
iver a man the like of me was made the fool of the world, and me
thinking thoughts about you, and having great love for you, and
dreaming dreams of the fine life we'd have when we'd be wedded!
[His voice high pitched in a lamentation that is like a keen].
Yerra, God help me! I'm destroyed entirely and my heart is broken
in bits! I'm asking God Himself, was it for this He'd have me
roaming the earth since I was a lad only, to come to black shame
in the end, where I'd be giving a power of love to a woman is the
same as others you'd meet in any hooker-shanty in port, with red
gowns on them and paint on their grinning mugs, would be sleeping
with any man for a dollar or two!
ANNA--[In a scream.] Don't, Mat! For Gawd's sake! [Then raging and
pounding on the table with her hands.] Get out of here! Leave me
alone! Get out of here!
BURKE--[His anger rushing back on him.] I'll be going, surely! And
I'll be drinking sloos of whiskey will wash that black kiss of
yours off my lips; and I'll be getting dead rotten drunk so I'll
not remember if 'twas iver born you was at all; and I'll be
shipping away on some boat will take me to the other end of the
world where I'll never see your face again! [He turns toward the
CHRIS--[Who has been standing in a stupor--suddenly grasping BURKE
by the arm--stupidly] No, you don't go. Ay tank maybe it's better
Anna marry you now.
BURKE--[Shaking CHRIS off--furiously] Lave go of me, ye old ape!
Marry her, is it? I'd see her roasting in hell first! I'm shipping
away out of this, I'm telling you! [Pointing to Anna--
passionately] And my curse on you and the curse of Almighty God
and all the Saints! You've destroyed me this day and may you lie
awake in the long nights, tormented with thoughts of Mat Burke and
the great wrong you've done him!
ANNA--[In anguish] Mat! [But he turns without another word and
strides out of the doorway. ANNA looks after him wildly, starts to
run after him, then hides her face in her outstretched arms,
sobbing. CHRIS stands in a stupor, staring at the floor.]
CHRIS--[After a pause, dully.] Ay tank Ay go ashore, too.
ANNA--[Looking up, wildly.] Not after him! Let him go! Don't you
CHRIS--[Somberly.] Ay go for gat drink.
ANNA--[With a harsh laugh.] So I'm driving you to drink, too, eh?
I s'pose you want to get drunk so's you can forget--like him?
CHRIS--[Bursting out angrily.] Yes, Ay vant! You tank Ay like hear
dem tangs. [Breaking down--weeping.] Ay tank you vasn't dat kind
of gel, Anna.
ANNA--[Mockingly.] And I s'pose you want me to beat it, don't you?
You don't want me here disgracing you, I s'pose?
CHRIS--No, you stay here! [Goes over and pats her on the shoulder,
the tears running down his face.] Ain't your fault, Anna, Ay know
dat. [She looks up at him, softened. He bursts into rage.] It's
dat ole davil, sea, do this to me! [He shakes his fist at the
door.] It's her dirty tricks! It vas all right on barge with yust
you and me. Den she bring dat Irish fallar in fog, she make you
like him, she make you fight with me all time! If dat Irish fallar
don't never come, you don't never tal me dem tangs, Ay don't never
know, and every tang's all right. [He shakes his fist again,]
Dirty ole davil!
ANNA--[With spent weariness.] Oh, what's the use? Go on ashore and
CHRIS--[Goes into room on left and gets his cap. He goes to the
door, silent and stupid--then turns.] You vait here, Anna?
ANNA--[Dully] Maybe--and maybe not. Maybe I'll get drunk, too.
Maybe I'll--But what the hell do you care what I do? Go on and
beat it. [CHRIS turns stupidly and goes out. ANNA sits at the
table, staring straight in front of her.]
[The Curtain Falls]
SCENE--Same as Act Three, about nine o'clock of a foggy night two
days later. The whistles of steamers in the harbor can be heard.
The cabin is lighted by a small lamp on the table. A suitcase
stands in the middle of the floor. ANNA is sitting in the rocking-
chair. She wears a hat, is all dressed up as in Act One. Her face
is pale, looks terribly tired and worn, as if the two days just
past had been ones of suffering and sleepless nights. She stares
before her despondently, her chin in her hands. There is a timid
knock on the door in rear. ANNA jumps to her feet with a startled
exclamation and looks toward the door with an expression of
mingled hope and fear.
ANNA--[Faintly.] Come in. [Then summoning her courage--more
resolutely.] Come in. [The door is opened and CHRIS appears in the
doorway. He is in a very bleary, bedraggled condition, suffering
from the after effects of his drunk. A tin pail full of foaming
beer is in his hand. He comes forward, his eyes avoiding ANNA'S.
He mutters stupidly.] It's foggy.
ANNA--[Looking him over with contempt.] So you come back at last,
did you? You're a fine looking sight! [Then jeeringly.] I thought
you'd beaten it for good on account of the disgrace I'd brought on
CHRIS--[Wincing-faintly.] Don't say dat, Anna, please! [He sits in
a chair by the table, setting down the can of beer, holding his
head in his hands]
ANNA--[Looks at him with a certain sympathy.] What's the trouble?
CHRIS--[Dully.] Inside my head feel sick.
ANNA--Well, what d'you expect after being soused for two days?
[Resentfully.] It serves you right. A fine thing--you leaving me
alone on this barge all that time!
CHRIS--[Humbly.] Ay'm sorry, Anna.
CHRIS--But Ay'm not sick inside head vay you mean. Ay'm sick from
tank too much about you, about me.
ANNA--And how about me? D'you suppose I ain't been thinking, too?
CHRIS--Ay'm sorry, Anna. [He sees her bag and gives a start] You
pack your bag, Anna? You vas going--?
ANNA--[Forcibly.] Yes, I was going right back to what you think.
ANNA--I went ashore to get a train for New York. I'd been waiting
and waiting 'till I was sick of it. Then I changed my mind and
decided not to go to-day. But I'm going first thing to-morrow, so
it'll all be the same in the end.
CHRIS--[Raising his head--pleadingly] No, you never do dat, Anna!
ANNA--[With a sneer.] Why not, I'd like to know?
CHRIS--You don't never gat to do--dat vay--no more, Ay tal you. Ay
fix dat up all right.
ANNA--[Suspiciously.] Fix what up?
CHRIS--[Not seeming to have heard her question--sadly.] You vas
vaiting, you say? You vasn't vaiting for me, Ay bet.
ANNA--[Callously.] You'd win.
CHRIS--For dat Irish fallar?
ANNA--[Defiantly.] Yes--if you want to know! [Then with a forlorn
laugh.] If he did come back it'd only because he wanted to beat me
up or kill me, I suppose. But even if he did, I'd rather have him
come than not show up at all. I wouldn't care what he did.
CHRIS--Ay guess it's true you vas in love with him all right.
CHRIS--[Turning to her earnestly.] And Ay'm sorry for you like
hell he don't come, Anna!
ANNA--[Softened.] Seems to me you've changed your tune a lot.
CHRIS--Ay've been tanking, and Ay guess it vas all my fault--all
bad tangs dat happen to you. [Pleadingly.] You try for not hate
me, Anna. Ay'm crazy ole fool, dat's all.
ANNA--Who said I hated you?
CHRIS--Ay'm sorry for everytang Ay do wrong for you, Anna. Ay vant
for you be happy all rest of your life for make up! It make you
happy marry dat Irish fallar, Ay vant it, too.
ANNA--[Dully.]--Well, there ain't no chance. But I'm glad you
think different about it, anyway.
CHRIS--[Supplicatingly.] And you tank--maybe--you forgive me
ANNA--[With a wan smile.] I'll forgive you right now.
CHRIS--[Seizing her hand and kissing it--brokenly.] Anna lilla!
ANNA--[Touched but a bit embarrassed.] Don't bawl about it. There
ain't nothing to forgive, anyway. It ain't your fault, and it
ain't mine, and it ain't his neither. We're all poor nuts, and
things happen, and we yust get mixed in wrong, that's all.
CHRIS--[Eagerly.] You say right tang, Anna, py golly! It ain't
nobody's fault! [Shaking his fist.] It's dat ole davil, sea!
ANNA--[With an exasperated laugh.] Gee, won't you ever can that
stuff? [CHRIS relapses into injured silence. After a pause ANNA
continues curiously.] You said a minute ago you'd fixed something
up--about me. What was it?
CHRIS--[After a hesitating pause.] Ay'm shipping avay on sea
CHRIS--Ay sign on steamer sail to-morrow. Ay gat my ole yob--
bo'sun. [ANNA stares at him. As he goes on, a bitter smile comes
over her face.] Ay tank dat's best tang for you. Ay only bring you
bad luck, Ay tank. Ay make your mo'der's life sorry. Ay don't vant
make yours dat way, but Ay do yust same. Dat ole davil, sea, she
make me Yonah man ain't no good for nobody. And Ay tank now it
ain't no use fight with sea. No man dat live going to beat her, py
ANNA--[With a laugh of helpless bitterness.] So that's how you've
fixed me, is it?
CHRIS--Yes, Ay tank if dat ole davil gat me back she leave you
ANNA--[Bitterly.] But, for Gawd's sake, don't you see, you're
doing the same thing you've always done? Don't you see--? [But she
sees the look of obsessed stubbornness on her father's face and
gives it up helplessly.] But what's the use of talking. You ain't
right, that's what. I'll never blame you for nothing no more. But
how you could figure out that was fixing me--!
CHRIS--Dat ain't all. Ay gat dem fallars in steam-ship office to
pay you all money coming to me every month vhile Ay'm avay.
ANNA--[With a hard laugh.] Thanks. But I guess I won't be hard up
for no small change.
CHRIS--[Hurt--humbly.] It ain't much, Ay know, but it's plenty for
keep you so you never gat go.
ANNA--[Shortly.] Shut up, will you? We'll talk about it later,
CHRIS--[After a pause--ingratiatingly.] You like Ay go ashore look
for dat Irish fallar, Anna?
ANNA--[Angrily.] Not much! Think I want to drag him back?
CHRIS--[After a pause--uncomfortably.] Py golly, dat booze don't
go veil. Give me fever, Ay tank, Ay feel hot like hell. [He takes
off his coat and lets it drop on the floor. There is a loud thud.]
ANNA--[With a start.] What you got in your pocket, for Pete's
sake--a ton of lead? [She reaches down, takes the coat and pulls
out a revolver--looks from it to him in amazement.] A gun? What
were you doing with this?
CHRIS--[Sheepishly.] Ay forgat. Ain't nutting. Ain't loaded,
ANNA--[Breaking it open to make sure--then closing it again--
looking at him suspiciously.] That ain't telling me why you got
CHRIS--[Sheepishly.] Ay'm ole fool. Ay gat it vhen Ay go ashore
first. Ay tank den it's all fault of dat Irish fallar.
ANNA--[With a shudder.] Say, you're crazier than I thought. I
never dreamt you'd go that far.
CHRIS--[Quickly.] Ay don't. Ay gat better sense right avay. Ay
don't never buy bullets even. It ain't his fault, Ay know.
ANNA--[Still suspicious of him.] Well, I'll take care of this for
a while, loaded or not. [She puts it in the drawer of table and
closes the drawer.]
CHRIS--[Placatingly.] Throw it overboard if you vant. Ay don't
care, [Then after a pause.] Py golly, Ay tank Ay go lie down. Ay
feel sick. [ANNA takes a magazine from the table. CHRIS hesitates
by her chair.] Ve talk again before Ay go, yes?
ANNA--[Dully.] Where's this ship going to?
CHRIS--Cape Town. Dat's in South Africa. She's British steamer
called Londonderry. [He stands hesitatingly--finally blurts out.]
Anna--you forgive me sure?
ANNA--[Wearily.] Sure I do. You ain't to blame. You're yust--what
you are--like me.
CHRIS--[Pleadingly.] Den--you lat me kiss you again once?
ANNA--[Raising her face--forcing a wan smile.] Sure. No hard
CHRIS--[Kisses her--brokenly.] Anna lilla! Ay--[He fights for
words to express himself, but finds none--miserably--with a sob.]
Ay can't say it. Good-night, Anna.
ANNA--Good-night. [He picks up the can of beer and goes slowly
into the room on left, his shoulders bowed, his head sunk forward
dejectedly. He closes the door after him. ANNA turns over the
pages of the magazine, trying desperately to banish her thoughts
by looking at the pictures. This fails to distract her, and
flinging the magazine back on the table, she springs to her feet
and walks about the cabin distractedly, clenching and unclenching
her hands. She speaks aloud to herself in a tense, trembling
voice.] Gawd, I can't stand this much longer! What am I waiting
for anyway?--like a damn fool! [She laughs helplessly, then checks
herself abruptly, as she hears the sound of heavy footsteps on the
deck outside. She appears to recognize these and her face lights
up with joy. She gasps:] Mat! [A strange terror seems suddenly to
seize her. She rushes to the table, takes the revolver out of
drawer and crouches down in the corner, left, behind the cupboard.
A moment later the door is flung open and MAT BURKE appears in the
doorway. He is in bad shape--his clothes torn and dirty, covered
with sawdust as if he had been grovelling or sleeping on barroom
floors. There is a red bruise on his forehead over one of his
eyes, another over one cheekbone, his knuckles are skinned and
raw--plain evidence of the fighting he has been through on his
"bat." His eyes are bloodshot and heavy-lidded, his face has a
bloated look. But beyond these appearances--the results of heavy
drinking--there is an expression in his eyes of wild mental
turmoil, of impotent animal rage baffled by its own abject
BURKE--[Peers blinkingly about the cabin--hoarsely.] Let you not
be hiding from me, whoever's here--though 'tis well you know I'd
have a right to come back and murder you. [He stops to listen.
Hearing no sound, he closes the door behind him and comes forward
to the table. He throws himself into the rocking-chair--
despondently.] There's no one here, I'm thinking, and 'tis a great
fool I am to be coming. [With a sort of dumb, uncomprehending
anguish.] Yerra, Mat Burke, 'tis a great jackass you've become and
what's got into you at all, at all? She's gone out of this long
ago, I'm telling you, and you'll never see her face again. [ANNA
stands up, hesitating, struggling between joy and fear. BURKE'S
eyes fall on ANNA'S bag. He leans over to examine it.] What's
this? [Joyfully.] It's hers. She's not gone! But where is she?
Ashore? [Darkly.] What would she be doing ashore on this rotten
night? [His face suddenly convulsed with grief and rage.] 'Tis
that, is it? Oh, God's curse on her! [Raging.] I'll wait 'till she
comes and choke her dirty life out. [ANNA starts, her face grows
hard. She steps into the room, the revolver in her right hand by
ANNA--[In a cold, hard tone.] What are you doing here?
BURKE--[Wheeling about with a terrified gasp] Glory be to God!
[They remain motionless and silent for a moment, holding each
ANNA--[In the same hard voice] Well, can't you talk?
BURKE--[Trying to fall into an easy, careless tone] You've a
year's growth scared out of me, coming at me so sudden and me
thinking I was alone.
ANNA--You've got your nerve butting in here without knocking or
nothing. What d'you want?
BURKE--[Airily] Oh, nothing much. I was wanting to have a last
word with you, that's all. [He moves a step toward her.]
ANNA--[Sharply--raising the revolver in her hand.] Careful now!
Don't try getting too close. I heard what you said you'd do to me.
BURKE--[Noticing the revolver for the first time.] Is it murdering
me you'd be now, God forgive you? [Then with a contemptuous
laugh.] Or is it thinking I'd be frightened by that old tin
whistle? [He walks straight for her.]
ANNA--[Wildly.] Look out, I tell you!
BURKE--[Who has come so close that the revolver is almost touching
his chest.] Let you shoot, then! [Then with sudden wild grief.]
Let you shoot, I'm saying, and be done with it! Let you end me
with a shot and I'll be thanking you, for it's a rotten dog's life
I've lived the past two days since I've known what you are, 'til
I'm after wishing I was never born at all!
ANNA--[Overcome--letting the revolver drop to the floor, as if her
fingers had no strength to hold it--hysterically.] What d'you
want coming here? Why don't you beat it? Go on! [She passes him
and sinks down in the rocking-chair.]
BURKE--[Following her--mournfully.] 'Tis right you'd be asking why
did I come. [Then angrily.] 'Tis because 'tis a great weak fool of
the world I am, and me tormented with the wickedness you'd told of
yourself, and drinking oceans of booze that'd make me forget.
Forget? Divil a word I'd forget, and your face grinning always in
front of my eyes, awake or asleep, 'til I do be thinking a
madhouse is the proper place for me.
ANNA--[Glancing at his hands and--face--scornfully] You look like
you ought to be put away some place. Wonder you wasn't pulled in.
You been scrapping, too, ain't you?
BURKE--I have--with every scut would take off his coat to me!
[Fiercely.] And each time I'd be hitting one a clout in the mug,
it wasn't his face I'd be seeing at all, but yours, and me wanting
to drive you a blow would knock you out of this world where I
wouldn't be seeing or thinking more of you.
ANNA--[Her lips trembling pitifully] Thanks!
BURKE--[Walking up and down--distractedly.] That's right, make
game of me! Oh, I'm a great coward surely, to be coming back to
speak with you at all. You've a right to laugh at me.
ANNA--I ain't laughing at you, Mat.
BURKE--[Unheeding.] You to be what you are, and me to be Mat
Burke, and me to be drove back to look at you again! 'Tis black
shame is on me!
ANNA--[Resentfully.] Then get out. No one's holding you!
BURKE--[Bewilderedly] And me to listen to that talk from a woman
like you and be frightened to close her mouth with a slap! Oh, God
help me, I'm a yellow coward for all men to spit at! [Then
furiously] But I'll not be getting out of this 'till I've had me
word. [Raising his fist threateningly] And let you look out how
you'd drive me! [Letting his fist fall helplessly] Don't be angry
now! I'm raving like a real lunatic, I'm thinking, and the sorrow
you put on me has my brains drownded in grief. [Suddenly bending
down to her and grasping her arm intensely] Tell me it's a lie,
I'm saying! That's what I'm after coming to hear you say.
ANNA--[Dully] A lie? What?
BURKE--[With passionate entreaty] All the badness you told me two
days back. Sure it must be a lie! You was only making game of me,
wasn't you? Tell me 'twas a lie, Anna, and I'll be saying prayers
of thanks on my two knees to the Almighty God!
ANNA--[Terribly shaken--faintly.] I can't. Mat. [As he turns away--
imploringly.] Oh, Mat, won't you see that no matter what I was I
ain't that any more? Why, listen! I packed up my bag this
afternoon and went ashore. I'd been waiting here all alone for two
days, thinking maybe you'd come back--thinking maybe you'd think
over all I'd said--and maybe--oh, I don't know what I was hoping!
But I was afraid to even go out of the cabin for a second, honest--
afraid you might come and not find me here. Then I gave up hope
when you didn't show up and I went to the railroad station. I was
going to New York. I was going back--
BURKE--[Hoarsely.] God's curse on you!
ANNA--Listen, Mat! You hadn't come, and I'd gave up hope. But--in
the station--I couldn't go. I'd bought my ticket and everything.
[She takes the ticket from her dress and tries to hold it before
his eyes.] But I got to thinking about you--and I couldn't take
the train--I couldn't! So I come back here--to wait some more. Oh,
Mat, don't you see I've changed? Can't you forgive what's dead and
gone--and forget it?
BURKE--[Turning on her--overcome by rage again.] Forget, is it?
I'll not forget 'til my dying day, I'm telling you, and me
tormented with thoughts. [In a frenzy.] Oh, I'm wishing I had wan
of them fornenst me this minute and I'd beat him with my fists
'till he'd be a bloody corpse! I'm wishing the whole lot of them
will roast in hell 'til the Judgment Day--and yourself along with
them, for you're as bad as they are.
ANNA--[Shuddering.] Mat! [Then after a pause--in a voice of dead,
stony calm.] Well, you've had your say. Now you better beat it.
BURKE--[Starts slowly for the door--hesitates--then after a
pause.] And what'll you be doing?
ANNA--What difference does it make to you?
BURKE--I'm asking you!
ANNA--[In the same tone.] My bag's packed and I got my ticket.
I'll go to New York to-morrow.
BURKE--[Helplessly.] You mean--you'll be doing the same again?
BURKE--[In anguish.] You'll not! Don't torment me with that talk!
'Tis a she-divil you are sent to drive me mad entirely!
ANNA--[Her voice breaking.] Oh, for Gawd's sake, Mat, leave me
alone! Go away! Don't you see I'm licked? Why d'you want to keep
on kicking me?
BURKE--[Indignantly.] And don't you deserve the worst I'd say, God
ANNA--All right. Maybe I do. But don't rub it in. Why ain't you
done what you said you was going to? Why ain't you got that ship
was going to take you to the other side of the earth where you'd
never see me again?
ANNA--[Startled.] What--then you're going--honest?
BUEKE--I signed on to-day at noon, drunk as I was--and she's
ANNA--And where's she going to?
ANNA--[The memory of having heard that name a little while before
coming to her--with a start, confusedly.] Cape Town? Where's that.
BURKE--'Tis at the end of Africa. That's far for you.
ANNA--[Forcing a laugh.] You're keeping your word all right, ain't
you? [After a slight pause--curiously.] What's the boat's name?
ANNA--[It suddenly comes to her that this is the same ship her
father is sailing on.] The Londonderry! It's the same--Oh, this is
too much! [With wild, ironical laughter.] Ha-ha-ha!
BURKE--What's up with you now?
ANNA--Ha-ha-ha! It's funny, funny! I'll die laughing!
BURKE--[Irritated.] Laughing at what?
ANNA--It's a secret. You'll know soon enough. It's funny.
[Controlling herself--after a pause--cynically.] What kind of a
place is this Cape Town? Plenty of dames there, I suppose?
BURKE--To hell with them! That I may never see another woman to my
ANNA--That's what you say now, but I'll bet by the time you get
there you'll have forgot all about me and start in talking the
same old bull you talked to me to the first one you meet.
BURKE--[Offended.] I'll not, then! God mend you, is it making me
out to be the like of yourself you are, and you taking up with
this one and that all the years of your life?
ANNA--[Angrily assertive.] Yes, that's yust what I do mean! You
been doing the same thing all your life, picking up a new girl in
every port. How're you any better than I was?
BURKE--[Thoroughly exasperated.] Is it no shame you have at all?
I'm a fool to be wasting talk on you and you hardened in badness.
I'll go out of this and lave you alone forever. [He starts for the
door--then stops to turn on her furiously] And I suppose 'tis the
same lies you told them all before that you told to me?
ANNA--[Indignantly.] That's a lie! I never did!
BURKE--[Miserably.] You'd be saying that, anyway.
ANNA--[Forcibly, with growing intensity.] Are you trying to accuse
me--of being in love--really in love--with them?
BURKE--I'm thinking you were, surely.
ANNA--[Furiously, as if this were the last insult--advancing on
him threateningly] You mutt, you! I've stood enough from you.
Don't you dare. [With scornful bitterness.] Love 'em! Oh, my Gawd!
You damn thick-head! Love 'em? [Savagely.] I hated 'em, I tell
you! Hated 'em, hated 'em, hated 'em! And may Gawd strike me dead
this minute and my mother, too, if she was alive, if I ain't
telling you the honest truth!
BURKE--[Immensely pleased by her vehemence--a light beginning to
break over his face--but still uncertain, torn between doubt and
the desire to believe--helplessly.] If I could only be believing
ANNA--[Distractedly.] Oh, what's the use? What's the use of me
talking? What's the use of anything? [Pleadingly.] Oh, Mat, you
mustn't think that for a second! You mustn't! Think all the other
bad about me you want to, and I won't kick, 'cause you've a right
to. But don't think that! [On the point of tears.] I couldn't bear
it! It'd be yust too much to know you was going away where I'd
never see you again--thinking that about me!
BURKE--[After an inward struggle--tensely--forcing out the words
with difficulty.] If I was believing--that you'd never had love
for any other man in the world but me--I could be forgetting the
ANNA--[With a cry of joy.] Mat!
BURKE--[Slowly.] If 'tis truth you're after telling, I'd have a
right, maybe, to believe you'd changed--and that I'd changed you
myself 'til the thing you'd been all your life wouldn't be you any
more at all.
ANNA--[Hanging on his words--breathlessly.] Oh, Mat! That's what I
been trying to tell you all along!
BURKE--[Simply.] For I've a power of strength in me to lead men
the way I want, and women, too, maybe, and I'm thinking I'd change
you to a new woman entirely, so I'd never know, or you either,
what kind of woman you'd been in the past at all.
ANNA--Yes, you could, Mat! I know you could!
BURKE--And I'm thinking 'twasn't your fault, maybe, but having
that old ape for a father that left you to grow up alone, made you
what you was. And if I could be believing 'tis only me you--
ANNA--[Distractedly.] You got to believe it. Mat! What can I do?
I'll do anything, anything you want to prove I'm not lying!
BURKE--[Suddenly seems to have a solution. He feels in the pocket
of his coat and grasps something--solemnly.] Would you be willing
to swear an oath, now--a terrible, fearful oath would send your
soul to the divils in hell if you was lying?
ANNA--[Eagerly.] Sure, I'll swear, Mat--on anything!
BURKE--[Takes a small, cheap old crucifix from his pocket and
holds it up for her to see.] Will you swear on this?
ANNA--[Reaching out for it.] Yes. Sure I will. Give it to me.
BURKE--[Holding it away.] 'Tis a cross was given me by my mother,
God rest her soul. [He makes the sign of the cross mechanically.]
I was a lad only, and she told me to keep it by me if I'd be
waking or sleeping and never lose it, and it'd bring me luck. She
died soon after. But I'm after keeping it with me from that day to
this, and I'm telling you there's great power in it, and 'tis
great bad luck it's saved me from and me roaming the seas, and I
having it tied round my neck when my last ship sunk, and it
bringing me safe to land when the others went to their death.
[Very earnestly.] And I'm warning you now, if you'd swear an oath
on this, 'tis my old woman herself will be looking down from Hivin
above, and praying Almighty God and the Saints to put a great
curse on you if she'd hear you swearing a lie!
ANNA--[Awed by his manner--superstitiously] I wouldn't have the
nerve--honest--if it was a lie. But it's the truth and I ain't
scared to swear. Give it to me.
BURKE--[Handing it to her--almost frightenedly, as if he feared
for her safety.] Be careful what you'd swear, I'm saying.
ANNA--[Holding the cross gingerly.] Well--what do you want me to
swear? You say it.
BURKE--Swear I'm the only man in the world ivir you felt love for.
ANNA--[Looking into his eyes steadily] I swear it.
BURKE--And that you'll be forgetting from this day all the badness
you've done and never do the like of it again.
ANNA--[Forcibly.] I swear it! I swear it by God!
BURKE--And may the blackest curse of God strike you if you're
lying. Say it now!
ANNA--And may the blackest curse of God strike me if I'm lying!
BURKE--[With a stupendous sigh.] Oh, glory be to God, I'm after
believing you now! [He takes the cross from her hand, his face
beaming with joy, and puts it back in his pocket. He puts his arm
about her waist and is about to kiss her when he stops, appalled
by some terrible doubt.]
ANNA--[Alarmed.] What's the matter with you?
BURKE--[With sudden fierce questioning.] Is it Catholic ye are?
ANNA--[Confused.] No. Why?
BURKE--[Filled with a sort of bewildered foreboding.] Oh, God,
help me! [With a dark glance of suspicion at her.] There's some
divil's trickery in it, to be swearing an oath on a Catholic cross
and you wan of the others.
ANNA--[Distractedly.] Oh, Mat, don't you believe me?
BURKE--[Miserably.] If it isn't a Catholic you are--
ANNA--I ain't nothing. What's the difference? Didn't you hear me
BURKE--[Passionately.] Oh, I'd a right to stay away from you--but
I couldn't! I was loving you in spite of it all and wanting to be
with you, God forgive me, no matter what you are. I'd go mad if
I'd not have you! I'd be killing the world--[He seizes her in his
arms and kisses her fiercely.]
ANNA--[With a gasp of joy.] Mat!
BURKE--[Suddenly holding her away from him and staring into her
eyes as if to probe into her soul--slowly.] If your oath is no
proper oath at all, I'll have to be taking your naked word for it
and have you anyway, I'm thinking--I'm needing you that bad!
ANNA--[Hurt--reproachfully.] Mat! I swore, didn't I?
BURKE--[Defiantly, as if challenging fate.] Oath or no oath, 'tis
no matter. We'll be wedded in the morning, with the help of God.
[Still more defiantly.] We'll be happy now, the two of us, in
spite of the divil! [He crushes her to him and kisses her again.
The door on the left is pushed open and CHRIS appears in the
doorway. He stands blinking at them. At first the old expression
of hatred of BURKE comes into his eyes instinctively. Then a look
of resignation and relief takes its place. His face lights up with
a sudden happy thought. He turns back into the bedroom--reappears
immediately with the tin can of beer in his hand grinning.]
CHRIS--Me have drink on this, py golly! [They break away from each
other with startled exclamations.]
BURKE--[Explosively.] God stiffen it! [He takes a step toward
ANNA--[Happily--to her father.] That's the way to talk! [With a
laugh.] And say, it's about time for you and Mat to kiss and make
up. You're going to be shipmates on the Londonderry, did you know
BURKE--[Astounded.] Shipmates--Has himself--
CHRIS--[Equally astounded.] Ay vas bo'sun on her.
BURKE--The divil! [Then angrily.] You'd be going back to sea and
leaving her alone, would you?
ANNA--[Quickly.] It's all right, Mat. That's where he belongs, and
I want him to go. You got to go, too; we'll need the money. [With
a laugh, as she gets the glasses.] And as for me being alone, that
runs in the family, and I'll get used to it. [Pouring out their
glasses.] I'll get a little house somewhere and I'll make a
regular place for you two to come back to,--wait and see. And now
you drink up and be friends.
BURKE--[Happily--but still a bit resentful against the old man.]
Sure! [Clinking his glass against CHRIS'.] Here's luck to you! [He
CHRIS--[Subdued--his face melancholy.] Skoal. [He drinks.]
BURKE--[To Anna, with a wink.] You'll not be lonesome long. I'll
see to that, with the help of God. 'Tis himself here will be
having a grandchild to ride on his foot, I'm telling you!
ANNA--[Turning away in embarrassment.] Quit the kidding, now. [She
picks up her bag and goes into the room on left. As soon as she is
gone BURKE relapses into an attitude of gloomy thought. CHRIS
stares at his beer absent-mindedly. Finally BURKE turns on him.]
BURKE--Is it any religion at all you have, you and your Anna?
CHRIS--[Surprised.] Vhy yes. Ve vas Lutheran in ole country.
BURKE--[Horrified.] Luthers, is it? [Then with a grim resignation,
slowly, aloud to himself.] Well, damned then surely. Yerra, what's
the difference? 'Tis the will of God, anyway.
CHRIS--[Moodily preoccupied with his own thoughts--speaks with
somber premonition as ANNA re-enters from the left.] It's funny.
It's queer, yes--you and me shipping on same boat dat vay. It
ain't right. Ay don't know--it's dat funny vay ole davil sea do
her vorst dirty tricks, yes. It's so. [He gets up and goes back
and, opening the door, stares out into the darkness.]
BURKE--[Nodding his head in gloomy acquiescence--with a great
sigh.] I'm fearing maybe you have the right of it for once, divil
ANNA--[Forcing a laugh.] Gee, Mat, you ain't agreeing with him,
are you? [She comes forward and puts her arm about his shoulder--
with a determined gaiety.] Aw say, what's the matter? Cut out the
gloom. We're all fixed now, ain't we, me and you? [Pours out more
beer into his glass and fills one for herself--slaps him on the
back.] Come on! Here's to the sea, no matter what! Be a game sport
and drink to that! Come on! [She gulps down her glass. Burke
banishes his superstitious premonitions with a defiant jerk of his
head, grins up at her, and drinks to her toast.]
CHRIS--[Looking out into the night--lost in his somber
preoccupation--shakes his head and mutters.] Fog, fog, fog, all
bloody time. You can't see vhere you vas going, no. Only dat ole
davil, sea--she knows! [The two stare at him. From the harbor
comes the muffled, mournful wail of steamers' whistles.]
[The Curtain Falls]