WILL. There’s where you make a mistake. Money-getting doesn’t always come with brilliancy. I know a lot of fellows in New York who can paint a great picture, write a good play, and, when it comes to oratory, they’ve got me lashed to a pole; but they’re always in debt. They never get anything for what they do. In other words, young man, they are like a sky-rocket without a stick,—plenty of brilliancy, but no direction, and they blow up and fizzle all over the ground.
JOHN. That’s New York. I’m in Colorado, and I guess you know there is a difference.
WILL. I hope you’ll make your money, because I tell you frankly that’s the only way you can hold this girl. She’s full of heroics now, self-sacrifice, and all the things that go to make up the third act of a play, but the minute she comes to darn her stockings, wash out her own handkerchiefs and dry them on the window, and send out for a pail of coffee and a sandwich for lunch, take it from me it will go Blah! [Rises, crosses to front of table with chair, places it with back to him, braces his back on it, facing JOHN.] You’re in Colorado writing her letters once a day with no checks in them. That may be all right for some girl who hasn’t tasted the joy of easy living, full of the good things of life, but one who for ten years has been doing very well in the way these women do is not going to let up for any great length of time. So take my advice if you want to hold her. Get that money quick, and don’t be so damned particular how you get it either.
JOHN’S patience is evidently severely tried. He approaches WILL, who remains impassive.
JOHN. Of course you know you’ve got the best of me.
JOHN. We’re guests.
WILL. No one’s listening.
JOHN. ’Tisn’t that. If it was anywhere but here, if there was any way to avoid all the nasty scandal, I’d come a shootin’ for you, and you know it.
WILL. Gun-fighter, eh?
JOHN. Perhaps. Let me tell you this. I don’t know how you make your money, but I know what you do with it. You buy yourself a small circle of sycophants; you pay them well for feeding your vanity; and then you pose,—pose with a certain frank admission of vice and degradation. And those who aren’t quite as brazen as you call it manhood. Manhood? [Crossing slowly to armchair, sits.] Why, you don’t know what the word means. It’s the attitude of a pup and a cur.
WILL. [Angrily.] Wait a minute [Crosses
to JOHN.], young man, or
JOHN rises quickly. Both men stand confronting each other for a moment with fists clenched. They are on the very verge of a personal encounter. Both seem to realize that they have gone too far.
JOHN. You’ll what?
WILL. Lose my temper and make a damn fool of myself. That’s something I’ve not done for—let me see—why, it must be nearly twenty years—oh, yes, fully that.