ALGERNON: Now I can begin pursuing her again.
BIRDIE: Yes, and I can gloat over her misery—and gloating’s the best thing I do.
ALGERNON: Come (fiercely!) We are wasting time.
BIRDIE: She’ll never know me with this dark hair and no make-up on.
ALGERNON: (At L. I—still more fiercely.)
Can that junk! Come!
(Exits L. I.)
BIRDIE: (Going to L. I.) He has me in his power. I must follow him. Curse him! (Exits after ALGERNON. Enter MOE REISS in bum evening-clothes and opera hat. Carries cane.)
MOE REISS: (Reading from back of envelope.) Down this street and turn into the alley full of ash cans! I’m on the right track at last. Once more I shall see my wife and my little boy! Of course, she’ll be sore because I ran away and deserted her, leaving her no alimony except the dying che-ild. But I must produce a real wife and child from somewhere or I’ll lose the $9.75 my uncle left me. (Goes L. musingly.) Why do I love money so? Ay, that’s the question. (Looking up at gallery.) And what’s the answer? (Points off L. with cane—dramatically.) We shall see—we shall see. (Dashes off L.)
The lights go out, and the Drop in One takes all the time that the clock strikes sixteen or seventeen to go up, so it is timed very slowly.
FULL STAGE SCENE
THE WRETCHED HOME OF GLADYS
A Mott Street Garret—everything of the poorest description. Old table down stage R., with chair on either side and waste paper basket in front. Cot bed down stage L. Old cupboard up stage C. Small stand at head of cot.
PHONSIE lies in cot, head up stage, covered up. He should weigh over two hundred pounds. He wears Buster Brown wig and nightie that buttons up the back. GLADYS is seated at table d. s. R., sewing on a tiny handkerchief. She is magnificently dressed and wears all the jewelry she can carry. Pile of handkerchiefs at back of table within reach and a waste basket in front of table where she can throw handkerchiefs when used.
As curtain rises, the clock off stage slowly strikes for the sixteenth or seventeenth time.
GLADYS: Five o’clock and my sewing still unfinished. Oh, it must be done to-night. There’s the rent—six dollars. To-day is Friday—bargain day—I wonder if the landlord would take four ninety-eight.
(Business. PHONSIE snores.) And my child needs more medicine. The dog biscuits haven’t helped him a bit, and his stomach is too weak to digest the skin foods. (Wood crash off stage.) How restless he is, poor little tot!!!! Fatherless and deserted, sick and emaciated—eight years have I passed in this wretched place, hopeless, hapless, hipless. At times the struggle seems more than I can bear, but I must be brave for my child, my little one. (Buries face in hands.) (Business. Sews.)