THE KING. Ah. (He turns toward the window, half-frightened, and then, almost instinctively, raises his hands toward his crown, and seems on the point of tossing it out the window. But with an oath he replaces it and presses it firmly on his head.) How! Am I afraid of a beggar!
THE BEGGAR (continuing outside). Bread. Bread. Give me some bread.
THE KING (with terrible anger). Close that window!
(THE SERVANT stands stupent, and the voice of THE BEGGAR grows louder as the curtain falls.)
[Footnote 1: Reprinted by permission of the author and of Messrs. Henry Holt and Company, the publishers, from the volume, Masks and Other One-Act Plays (1920).]
WILLIAM WHITE, a famous Internationalist
HILDA, his wife
WALLACE, their son
SCENE: At the Whites’; spring, 1917. A simply furnished study. The walls are lined with bookshelves, indicating, by their improvised quality, that they have been increased as occasion demanded. On these are stacked, in addition to the books themselves, many files of papers, magazines, and “reports.” The large work-table, upon which rests a double student lamp and a telephone, is conspicuous. A leather couch with pillows is opposite, pointing toward a doorway which leads into the living-room. There is also a doorway in back, which apparently opens on the hallway beyond. The room is comfortable in spite of its general disorder: it is essentially the workshop of a busy man of public affairs. The strong sunlight of a spring day comes in through the window, flooding the table.
WILLIAM WHITE is standing by the window, smoking a pipe. He is about fifty, of striking appearance: the visual incarnation of the popular conception of a leader of men. There is authority and strength in the lines of his face; his whole personality is commanding; his voice has all the modulations of a well-trained orator; his gestures are sweeping—for, even in private conversation, he is habitually conscious of an audience. Otherwise, he is simple and engaging, with some indication of his humble origin.
On the sofa opposite, with a letter in her hand, HILDA WHITE, his wife, is seated. She is somewhat younger in fact, though in appearance she is as one who has been worn a bit by the struggle of many years. Her manner contrasts with her husband’s: her inheritance of delicate refinement is ever present in her soft voice and gentle gesture. Yet she, too, suggests strength—the sort which will endure all for a fixed intention.
It is obvious throughout that she and her husband have been happy comrades in their life together, and that a deep fundamental bond has united them in spite of the different social spheres from which each has sprung.