HILDA. Now the war comes and with it a chance to get back; to be part of the majority; to be welcomed with open arms by those who have fought you; to go back with honor and praise. And, yes, to have the warmth and comfort of the crowd. That’s the real reason you’re going in. You’re tired and worn out with the fight. I know. I understand now.
WHITE (earnestly). If I thought it was that, I’d kill myself.
HILDA. There’s been enough killing already. I have to understand it somehow to accept it at all.
(He stares at her, wondering at her words. She smiles. He goes to a chair and sits down, gazing before him. The music of Over There is now heard outside in the street, approaching nearer and nearer. It is a military band. WALLACE excitedly rushes in dressed in khaki.)
WALLACE. Mother, mother. The boys are coming down the street. (Sees father.) Dad! Mother has told you?
HILDA (calmly). Yes; I’ve told him.
WALLACE. And you’re going to let me go, Dad?
WALLACE. Oh, thanks, Dad (grasping his hand).
I knew mother would make you see. (Music nearer.) Listen! Isn’t that a great tune? Lifts you up on your feet and carries you over there. Gee, it just gets into a fellow and makes him want to run for his gun and charge over the top. (He goes to balcony.) Look! They’re nearing here; all ready to sail with the morning tide. They’ve got their helmets on. You can’t see the end of them coming down the avenue. Oh, thank God, I’m going to be one of them soon. Thank God! I’m going to fight for Uncle Sam and the Stars and Stripes. (Calls off) Hurrah! (To them) Oh, I wish I had a flag. Why haven’t we got a flag here?—Hurrah!!
(As he goes out on the balcony the music plays louder. HILDA has gone to WHITE during this, and stands behind him, with her arms down his arms, as he sits there, gazing before him.)
HILDA (fervently). Oh, Will, if I could only feel it as he does!!
(The music begins to trail off as WHITE tenderly takes hold of her hands.)
SCENE: CAPTAIN KEENEY’S cabin on board the steam whaling ship Atlantic Queen—a small, square compartment, about eight feet high, with a skylight in the centre looking out on the poop deck. On the left (the stern of the ship) a long bench with rough cushions is built in against the wall. In front of the bench, a table. Over the bench, several curtained portholes.
In the rear, left, a door leading to the captain’s sleeping-quarters. To the right of the door a small organ, looking as if it were brand-new, is placed against the wall.
On the right, to the rear, a marble-topped, sideboard. On the sideboard, a woman’s sewing-basket. Farther forward, a doorway leading to the companion way, and past the officers’ quarters to the main deck.