The Cradle Will Rock (Marc Blitzstein)

The Cradle Will Rock, Scene 1 (midi).
The Cradle Will Rock, Scene 2 (midi).
The Cradle Will Rock, Scene 3 (midi).
The Cradle Will Rock, Scene 4a (midi).
The Cradle Will Rock, Scene 4b (midi).
The Cradle Will Rock, Scene 5 (midi).
The Cradle Will Rock, Scene 6 (midi).
The Cradle Will Rock, Scene 7 (midi).
The Cradle Will Rock, Scene 8 (midi).
The Cradle Will Rock, Scene 9 (midi).
The Cradle Will Rock, Scene 10 (midi).

Book: Marc Blitzstein.
Lyrics: Marc Blitzstein.
Music: Marc Blitzstein.


Scene 1: Street Corner

(Enter MOLL.)

MOLL
(MOLL is at lamppost.) I’m checkin’ home now: call it a night. Goin’ up to my room, turn on the light—Jesus, turn off that light. I ain’t in Steeltown long. I work two days a week; the other five my efforts ain’t required. For two days out of seven, two dollar bills I’m given; so I’m just searchin’ along the street, for on those five days, it’s nice to eat. Jesus, Jesus, who said let’s eat?

(Enter GENT.)

GENT
Hello, baby.

MOLL
Hello, big boy.

GENT
Busy, baby?

MOLL
Not so very.

GENT
I’d like to give you a hundred bucks, but I only got thirty cents.

MOLL
Say, would you wait ’til I catch my breath on account of it’s so immense? Make it a dollar.

GENT
Honest, kid, nix, that’s all I got—thirty cents.

MOLL
Go on. Make it eighty.

GENT
Thirty cents.

MOLL
Seventy-five.

GENT
I said thirty.

MOLL
Come on, big boy, don’t be that way. Half a buck?

GENT
Listen, you, I said what I mean—thirty cents. Get me?

(She takes his arm.)

GENT
What’s the idea? Hey, leggo my arm!

MOLL
Listen, big boy, I’ll be nice, come on, big boy….

GENT
Leggo my arm….

MOLL
Don’t be a sap. Come on and….

GENT
Yeah….

MOLL
Listen, mister….

GENT
I know—lay off….

MOLL
Please….

GENT
All the sob stuff….

MOLL
Now you know….

GENT
Try to….

MOLL
I wouldn’t….

GENT
Rush me, huh?

MOLL
Mister….

GENT
Cheese it, a dick!

(Enter DICK.)

DICK
What’s goin’ on here?

MOLL
Oh, nothin’.

DICK
Oh, yeah? Nothin’ huh?

GENT
Nothing, officer, nothing at all. We was just talkin’.

DICK
Talkin’ huh? Heard you a mile away! Masher, huh?

GENT
Certainly not, officer!

DICK
Aw, shut up! Oughta pull you both in.

GENT
Now, look here, officer….

DICK
Slip us your dough—quick!

(GENT pulls out a bill and hands it over.)

DICK
Okay, melt.

GENT
Melt…? Oh, melt….

(GENT exits. MOLL and DICK laugh. She is a bit nervous.)

MOLL
He was kinda annoyin’ me.

DICK
Yeah?

MOLL
What’s the trouble tonight? Where’s everybody?

DICK
All down in front of Union Headquarters, I guess. Big union drive tonight.

MOLL
Gee!

DICK
What do you mean, gee? Union trouble ain’t no news in this burg. All the force gets called out regular. Just your luck I happened to be around here now.

MOLL
You must be busy. I bet they need you bad.

DICK
Sure, they need me bad. See that phone over there? They’ll send for me when things begin to pop.

MOLL
Well, good night, officer—good night and thank you. I think maybe I’ll go down and see the fun.

DICK
Hold your horses there! A little girlie all alone in this gloom? Why, you need my protection right to your room. Come on and smile now, sister.

MOLL
Say, you got me wrong!

DICK
Yeah?

MOLL
Why, you’re no better than that two-bit clod! Maybe you’re part of the new vice squad….

DICK
Howdya guess it, baby?

MOLL
So that’s the way you work it. Now I see: a Romeo that’s on the make. Try to throw a little scare into me because I need a break to make a livin’! What the hell do you care what I do, so long as you get what I’m givin’? Ain’t it nice knowin’ that you got me comin’ and goin’?

DICK
Hey, wait a minute. Say, I don’t get you…. Whatsa matter with me?

MOLL
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved you all along. Yes, indeed, you’re just my style. All the girls go crazy at your call. You’ve got that certain smile that makes ’em fall. Come on, you lug, go put me in the jug! You think you’re wise, you think you own me! I’ll show you guys….

(The phone rings.)

DICK
Hello—yeah, Dick talkin’. What’s up? Square in front of Union Headquarters? Who phoned in? Virgil? Go on—eight of ’em? What are they, strikers? Listenin’ to a speech, is that all? You know Virgil….

(The sound of a quarrel, angry voices of COP and LIBERTY COMMITTEE, which comprises REVEREND SALVATION—sleek, urbane, deferential; EDITOR DAILY—glib, the cigar-straw hat kind; YASHA, a violinist, and DAUBER, an artist—the Gold Dust Twins of a provincial art-world; PRESIDENT PREXY—timid, thin-lipped; PROFESSORS MAMIE and TRIXIE—one a bit seedy and pompous, the other frankly tough and unacademic, the football coach; finally, DR. SPECIALIST—Steeltown’s “big” physician. They are all in a state of considerable excitement.)

DICK
Wait a minute. Here he comes now!

(Hangs up. Enter COP and LIBERTY COMMITTEE.)

COP
You’re all under arrest!

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Arrest?

DR. SPECIALIST
But, officer….

REVEREND SALVATION
You can’t arrest us….

DAUBER
Do we look like Union organizers?

TRIXIE
It was that man!

PREXY
Do we look like steel workers?

TRIXIE
It was that man!

COP
I said, you’re under arrest!

DR. SPECIALIST
Why, we were sent by Mr. Mister!

REVEREND SALVATION
Yes, Mr. Mister!

EDITOR DAILY
You can’t do this to us! Why, Mr. Mister sent us!

TRIXIE
It was that man!

YASHA
That man who was making the speech!

DAUBER
It was him you were supposed to arrest!

COP
Then what’d you wanna run for?

DICK
So, this is the crew.

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Crew—what a word!

COP
Yes—nice job, huh? Just like that—wasn’t out five minutes. Eight of ’em—count ’em. What you got there, Dick?

DICK
Little hustler.

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Hustler? Tart!

DICK
We can take ’em all in together.

COP
Suits me—only these are mine.

EDITOR DAILY
Together?

YASHA
Us?

DAUBER
With that?

TRIXIE
With her?

REVEREND SALVATION
But you don’t know who we are!

DAUBER
You fool!

EDITOR DAILY
Idiot!

TRIXIE
Imbecile!

PREXY
Moron!

(The LIBERTY COMMITTEE goes into a small paroxysm.)

COP
Oh, callin’ me names now!

DAUBER
Go right ahead. You only happen to be arresting the newly-formed Liberty Committee.

COP
Oh, yeah? What’s ’at?

EDITOR DAILY
You never heard of the Liberty Committee?

(YASHA a little shriek.)

DAUBER
Did you ever hear of the daughters of the American Revolution?

COP
You ain’t one of them, are you? Hey did you say revolution? I knew it! Come on!

(General hubbub as the DICK with the MOLL and the COP with the LIBERTY COMMITTEE go off.)

Scene 2: Night Court

(The scene is empty, except for the CLERK, busy with papers, and HARRY DRUGGIST, who sits alone on the bench. DRUGGIST is a derelict; his coat buttoned about his ears, no hat. Traces of a once-comfortable middle-class life stick to him.)

DRUGGIST
Gosh, it’s cold in here; you don’t have it heated like you did last—Thursday?

CLERK
Well, when you get brought in next Thursday, I’ll see you get a cozy fire and a fur-lined rocking chair. Would you like that?

DRUGGIST
It’s nothing, only I’m a little chilly—You’re kidding me.

CLERK
(Sardonic) No!

(Enter with commotion—DICK and MOLL, followed by COP bringing in REVEREND SALVATION, EDITOR DAILY, YASHA, DAUBER, PRESIDENT PREXY, PROFESSOR MAMIE, PROFESSOR TRIXIE, DR. SPECIALIST. MOLL finds a seat next to DRUGGIST. The music whips up.)

DAUBER
Hurry up and telephone to Mr. Mister, to hurry up and come to the rescue!

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Hurry up and telephone to Mr. Mister to hurry up and come to the rescue!

EDITOR DAILY
Hurry up and telephone to Mr. Mister to hurry up and come to the rescue!

(Music again.)

EDITOR DAILY
This is quite an outrage to be arrested this way!

PROFESSOR MAMIE
This is quite indecent. They don’t know who we are!

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Phone to Mr. Mister to come and bail us all out!

COP
Cut out the remarks now, you’ll do your talkin’ later.

DAUBER
Think of what my people would think if they could see me!

YASHA
Think of what my public would think if they could see me!

PROFESSOR TRIXIE
You know Mr. Mister. He’ll come and bail us all out.

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Phone to Mr. Mister to come and bail us out!

(The music simmers down.)

MOLL
Gee, but they make a lot of noise. I’m kinda scared.

DRUGGIST
There’s nothing to be frightened at. Tell me, what are you in for?

MOLL
Solicitin’, I guess. But really because that flatfoot couldn’t make me say “yes.” Say, do you know the others there? They wouldn’t talk to me. I can see that I ain’t in their class. And say, that goes for you, too.

DRUGGIST
I must admit they’re new to the place, but their faces should be seen more often in this place. Just like mine; I get arrested every week, yes, and sometimes twice a week. Vagrancy it’s called—I guess that’s me.

MOLL
A crazy life, I’d find it.

DRUGGIST
Well, really, I don’t mind it. I like the company. It’s lonely looking where my drugstore used to be.

(The music stops.)

PREXY
We’re the most respectable families in the city! We’re Steeltown’s Liberty Committee!

YASHA
We’re against the union! We’re against the drive!

DICK
Hey, Virgil, tell me now, what’s it all about tonight?

COP
What I told you at Union Headquarters. That’s about all tonight. Mr. Mister sent in orders: arrest everybody formin’ a crowd. A fella started makin’ a speech—I pulled in all the guys I could reach.

(A chord punctuates it.)

PROFESSOR MAMIE
Oh, but we were there to stop the man who was making the speech! He’s a red, one of these agitators! We wanted you to arrest him!

EDITOR DAILY
Why, I drew up the manifesto: “Steeltown is clean; Steeltown’s a real town.”

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
(The barbershop attack.) “We don’t want a union in Steeltown!”

YASHA
But the other one was mine: “America, Cradle of Liberty—Steeltown, Cradle of the Liberty Committee.”

PROFESSOR MAMIE
I’m the secretary.

DR. SPECIALIST
I’m the chairman, and Mr. Mister’s personal doctor!

DAUBER
I’m his daughter’s art instructor!

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
We’re Mr. Mister’s Liberty Committee!

(Another punctuating chord.)

DICK
I hope you ain’t made a bad break. They’re a kinda refined-lookin’ bunch, you know.

COP
Maybe I made a mistake. I got my orders. That’s all I know.

(The quieter music again.)

DRUGGIST
That’s why they’re all in here, then. The cop got his signals mixed. Shall I tell you a secret? We’re in the same old trade as you.

MOLL
You mean you’re all solicitin’?

DRUGGIST
Not quite, but so to say. They won’t buy our milk-white bodies, so we kind-a sell out in some other way—to Mr. Mister.

MOLL
Who is this Mr. Mister?

DRUGGIST
Better ask me who he’s not. He owns steel and everything else too…. Because of him my son was killed six months ago…. Now he’ll come and bail them out!

MOLL
Say, would he bail us out, too?

DRUGGIST
I don’t know, I’m drunk.

(The music stops.)

REVEREND SALVATION
I wonder if I hadn’t better phone Mrs. Mister? I know her so much better than I know Mr. Mister.

EDITOR DAILY
I’m afraid Mr. Mister’s got his hands full tonight.

PROFESSORS MAMIE and TRIXIE
Will it keep him from coming here? Will it?

EDITOR DAILY
That union business comes to a head tonight. He’s going crazy trying to kill it.

DAUBER
Officer, Officer, where’s the man who made the speech?

(Chords.)

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Yes, where’s the man who made the speech?

PREXY
We’re in here—

EDITOR DAILY
But where’s he?

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Where’s the man who made the speech?

(Chords.)

COP
All right, take it easy. We got him. Don’t get sore. He’ll be here. The boys are givin’ him a little workout next door. Anybody want to join him?

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
(Very loud and doleful.) Oh, what a filthy nightcout! Place for common tramps and bums. Don’t they know nice people when they see them? We prosecute defendants; it’s not our place to be them! So, Mr. Mister, please have pity—Come and save your pet committee from disaster! Where’s the Judge? Where’s the Judge? We want the Judge?

CLERK
Order in the courtroom! Order in the courtroom! The Judge will be here shortly. In the meantime, I’ll take down the names. First case: name?

REVEREND SALVATION
(Smooth as treacle.) I am Reverend Salvation; I wear the holy cloth. My name is known to all God-fearing people in Steeltown. The Liberty Committee has been formed by us to combat socialism, communism, radicalism, and especially unionism, and to up hold the Constitution—

CLERK
All right, all right; charge?

COP
Well, I had orders—loiterin’, I guess—or maybe obstructin’ traffic….

REVEREND SALVATION
This is preposterous; the officer has made a dreadful mistake! I insist that everything be placed in the record.

DRUGGIST
So they got old man Salvation in the night court at last. Do you know what the charge ought to be? “Habitual prostitute since 1915.”

Scene 3: Mission and Night Court

(1915. MRS. MISTER—she is chairman of all the women’s clubs in Steeltown, she has dreamed of Poiret, Rumpelmayer’s, even Lucius Beebe, back in 1915 she was already a salad with accent on the dressing; and REVEREND SALVATION.)

REVEREND SALVATION
My dear Mrs. Mister!

MRS. MISTER
Reverend Salvation, how are you? It’s been weeks I wanted to meet you and to greet you: I’m a stray lamb, too. And I’ve brought along our monthly present.

(Hands him envelope.)

MRS. MISTER
But one thing’s not so pleasant, Father dear; I fear that things cannot continue forever…. Hard times, I can assure you; Hard times, poor us and poor you; Hard times, Father; what can we do? The market hasn’t been ideal: We have to sell our steel to French or English or German, though the later are vermin. Father, please, in your sermon Sunday—I rely upon you to implore that we stay out of the war!

REVEREND SALVATION
(Mounts pulpit.) Thou shalt not kill…. So saith it in the Bible. So must it be. (A chorale.) Thou shalt not kill. Peace on earth, towards men good will—Nothing but good will. As your shepherd, I implore, turn from thoughts of wicked war: war we do abhor. Women, save your husbands, sons and sweethearts! Men be resolute, refuse, refuse to shoot! Or into the loathsome fray we’ll be tossed. Everything be lost: Oh, peace at any cost!

MRS. MISTER/LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Amen.

REVEREND SALVATION
(Brightly.) Collection!

DRUGGIST
(From offstage.) ….The next year, 1916—

(SALVATION steps off pulpit. MRS. MISTER has changed her hat, to something pretty awful and 1916.)

MRS. MISTER
Reverend Salvation, I’m worried. Things are not proceeding so nicely, or precisely in the way they should. And my husband, Mr. Mister, said it’s something about bank credits. Father, dear, they fear for steel, and oil—and rubber! So we must set the town right.

(Hands him envelope.)

MRS. MISTER
Please don’t be quite so downright. Simply answer both yes and no. It’s true you’ve preached so much for peace—But now it seems that peace may be a little expensive; please don’t think me offensive! Just restrain your intensive ardor. You might mention that we do deplore the German side of the war!

REVEREND SALVATION
(Mounts pulpit.) Thou shalt not—um. (SALVATION clears his throat importantly. The chorale has a variation.) Righteousness conquers; iniquity perishes; peace is a wonderful thing! But when I say peace, I’m referring to inner peace. Let there be no misconception! The peace, you remember, which passeth beyond understanding. We must remember our honor and the valor and pride which is ours to cherish and use. Knowing well that peace without honor no good American should excuse! Surely I need not remind you of the war which is simply dreadful for everyone. There we take no sides, still we know who defends sweet peace from the savage Hun!

MRS. MISTER/LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Amen.

REVEREND SALVATION
Collection!

DRUGGIST
(From offstage.) ….But, in 1917—

(SALVATION steps off pulpit. MRS. MISTER has changed her hat again, a new hat, all plumes—now she is violent, a harridan and 1917.)

MRS. MISTER
Reverend Salvation! News! Front-page news! Headline news! Strictly, mind, confidential news! But such news! Ha! My-husband’s-just-got-back-from-a-conference, and-he-says-it’s-the-only-way-to-recoup-our-profits. It’s-all-fixed-and-everything’s-ready-for-the-first guns! War! War! Kill all the dirty Huns! War! War! Kill all the dirty Huns! War! War! We’re entering the war! For Mr. Mister’s shown the President how things are—England has simply been a darling! Eyes right! Think of the rallies! Eyes left! I’m going to knit socks! Eyes front! Steel’s going to go up sky-high! All you clergymen must now prepare a special prayer and do your share! Oh, yes—your share….

(Hands him envelope.)

REVEREND SALVATION
(Mounts pulpit.) Thou—shalt—

MRS. MISTER/LIBERTY COMMITTEE
War! War! Kill all the dirty Huns! And those Austro-Hungarians! War! War! We’re entering the war! The Lusitania’s an unpaid debt. Remember Troy! Remember Lafayette! Remember the Alamo! Remember our womanhood! Remember those innocent unborn babies!

MRS. MISTER
Don’t let George do it, you do it!

MRS. MISTER/LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Make the world safe for Democracy! Make the world safe for Liberty! Make the world safe for Steel and the Mister family!

REVEREND SALVATION
(The chorale.) Of course, it’s peace we’re for—This is war to end all war!

MRS. MISTER/LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Amen.

MRS. MISTER
I can see the market rising like a beautiful bird!

REVEREND SALVATION
Collection!

(Flashback to Night Court.)

CLERK
Order in the courtroom! Order in the courtroom! Next case: Name?

EDITOR DAILY
I am Editor Daily of the Steeltown News.

CLERK
Charge?

COP
The same I guess; you know about these things—What have I got these people for? Loiterin’? Obstructin’ traffic?

DRUGGIST
Change that to read “Procurer, also known as pimp”—to Mr. Mister—to Sister Mister—to Junior Mister—

Scene 4: Lawn of Mr. Mister’s Home and Night Court

(JUNIOR and SISTER MISTER enter in gliding hammocks. JUNIOR is sluggish, collegiate and vacant; SISTER is smartly gotten-up and peevish.)

SISTER
Junior!

JUNIOR
Leave me alone.

SISTER
You big lump! Why don’t you try to reduce?

JUNIOR
Don’t bother me, I’m busy.

(JUNIOR warbles; his hammock swings.)

JUNIOR
Croon, croon till it hurts, baby; Croon, my heart asserts, baby; Croonin in spurts, baby; Is just the nerts for a tune!

(SISTER’S hammock swings; it’s her turn.)

SISTER
Spoon, in a canoe, baby! Spoon, one built for two, baby; Just me and you, baby; I can,—can-oo, baby, spoon?

(JUNIOR practically bellows.)

JUNIOR
Oh, the crooner’s life is a blessed one. He makes the population happy. For when all one’s cares have distressed one—

(SISTER can still top him.)

SISTER
Oh, to spoon is grand in the June-day sun. You spoon and spoon and never get tired! But it’s nicer at night than in the noonday sun—cause then you’re Gary Cooper and I’m Carole Lombard!

JUNIOR
Just croon, even the poor are not immune. If they’re without a suit, tThey shouldn’t give a hoot when they can substitute—

SISTER
Find me a dream-man and leave us in Dreamland where me and my dream-man can—

JUNIOR
When they can substitute—Croon!

SISTER
Spoon!

(Enter MR. MISTER—he is so much the archetype of all the Mr. Misters in the world that he resembles the type not as all, is in fact, rather eccentric, a distinct individual; and EDITOR DAILY.)

MR. MISTER
Do we disturb you two unduly? I have business with Editor Daily.

JUNIOR
Should I wear stripes or checks? Oh, the problems of my attire! Scuse me, I got to make another long distance call to Esquire.

SISTER
And I got a date—with a fig! Get it?

(JUNIOR and SISTER exit.)

MR. MISTER
The children are rather witty…. I have called you here fairly early, my dear Editor Daily, because I have something on my mind.

EDITOR DAILY
All my gift at prose’ll be at your disposal, Mr. Mister, you’ve been very kind.

MR. MISTER
I believe newspapers are great mental shapers; my steel industry is dependent on them really.

EDITOR DAILY
Just you call the News, and we’ll tell all the news from coast to coast, and from border to border.

MR. MISTER
Yes, but some news—can be made to order.

MR. MISTER/EDITOR DAILY
Oh, the press, the press, the freedom of the press! They’ll never take away the freedom of the press! We must be free to say whatever’s on our chest—With a hey-diddle-dee and a ho-nonny-no for whichever side will pay the best.

MR. MISTER
I should like a series on young Larry Foreman, who goes around stormin’ and organizin’ unions.

EDITOR DAILY
Yes, we’ve heard of him, in fact, good word of him; he seems quite popular with working men.

MR. MISTER
Find out who he drinks with and talks with and sleeps with, and look up his past till at last you’ve got it on him.

EDITOR DAILY
But the man’s so full of fight; he’s simply dynamite; why, it would take an army to tame him.

MR. MISTER
Then it shouldn’t be too hard to frame him.

MR. MISTER/EDITOR DAILY
Oh, the press, the press, the freedom of the press! You’ve only got to hint whatever’s fit to print. If something’s wrong with it, why, then we’ll print to fit. With a hey-diddle-dee and a ho-nonny-no for whichever side will pay the best.

MR. MISTER
Have his picture fill the front page of your paper. This drunkard and raper who’s out to gull the people.

EDITOR DAILY
Just a minute, I’m not being indiscreet! I must consult the owner of my sheet.

MR. MISTER
Please don’t try to cross your good-humored new boss—I’m the owner of your famous paper since this morning.

EDITOR DAILY
In that case, I wonder if my place is not worth more? The other crowd would like me to shake you.

MR. MISTER
Then you’ll see just how neatly I’ll break you.

MR. MISTER/EDITOR DAILY
Oh, the press, the press, the freedom of the press! They’ll never take away the freedom of the press!

MR. MISTER
That Foreman series now?

EDITOR DAILY
Yes, Mr. Mister, yes!

MR. MISTER/EDITOR DAILY
With a hey-diddle-dee and a ho-nonny-no—

(EDITOR DAILY prolongs the last “no”.)

MR. MISTER?
No?

EDITOR DAILY
Yes, sir! Yes! Yes!

MR. MISTER/EDITOR DAILY
For whichever side will pay the best!

(The tune is over.)

EDITOR DAILY
I agree with you absolutely, Mr. Mister.

MR. MISTER
Now, that’s a big relief, Editor Daily.

EDITOR DAILY
You see, I was literary advisor for years to Princess Wallawallahuanee—of the Hawaiian Islands! We still correspond.

MR. MISTER
Then you’re just the man to write the manifesto for my new Liberty Committee.

EDITOR DAILY
If I do say so myself—

MR. MISTER
A literary advisor to a Princess, what do you know!

EDITOR DAILY
Yes, well, spelling and things—you know.

(JUNIOR is heard whooping it up.)

MR. MISTER
Oh, yes, about Junior…

EDITOR DAILY
I do like Junior!

MR. MISTER
He doesn’t go so well with union trouble. I want him out of town: say on the paper. A correspondent’s job or something—see?

EDITOR DAILY
(Gulps.) Your Junior—working? Yes, I see.

(Enter JUNIOR and SISTER, displaying that other aspect of boredom—they’re going crazy.)

JUNIOR/SISTER
Let’s do something! So unconventional and so intentional, people all around get pale! Let’s do something!

SISTER
Before we’ve got too old—

JUNIOR
I’m glad I’m not too old to tie a can to a doggie’s tail!

JUNIOR/SENIOR
Let’s raise chickens; raise the dickens; go to church and be on time; for excitement, an indictment would be swell if we invent a crime—but let’s do something! To kill the monotony, let’s go in for botany. If they’ve got any, and if not any, then let’s do something!

EDITOR DAILY
Have you thought of Honolulu where your boredom would be banned? Bid your family toodle-ooloo. Sail away to that fair land! That’s just the isle for you—and you’ll have your work, too.

(JUNIOR is startled.)

EDITOR DAILY
A little scribbling on your father’s journal. Oh, nothing ever happens over there!

MR. MISTER
Son, they say the climate’s fresh and vernal.

SISTER
You could learn to play the ukulele.

MR. MISTER
Now, Junior, listen to Editor Daily.

EDITOR DAILY
Have you been to Honolulu?

(JUNIOR is up to this point perfectly sodden.)

JUNIOR
Are the women nice down there?

EDITOR DAILY
(Ever-ready.) Demure, and so high born, just pure September Morn.

JUNIOR
I don’t care if they’re high born just as long as they’re high-breasted.

MR. MISTER
Junior, please don’t get arrested!

EDITOR DAILY
Picture when the sun sets in Oahu—

(JUNIOR is blank.)

EDITOR DAILY
That’s the island Honolulu’s on—Dusky maidens dancing in the starlight—

SISTER
Wasn’t some young debutante seduced there?

MR. MISTER
You’d be our official correspondent.

SISTER
(Almost tenderly.) You’re a fool if you don’t go now.

JUNIOR
(Fortissimo; the moonface bursts into radiance without warning.) La la la-la-la la. La la la-la-la la.

EDITOR DAILY/SISTER/MR. MISTER
(In harmony; triumphantly.) Junior’s going to Honolulu! Junior’s going to Honolulu!

JUNIOR
Can I drive over eighty miles an hour?

EDITOR DAILY
(Undaunted.) Ruby lips are waiting to be kissed.

SISTER
(Not much on geography, but with the right idea.) I’d be satisfied with one big Zulu.

EDITOR DAILY
Chocolate arms are open like a flower.

JUNIOR
(Dreamy.) How the hell do you spell Honolulu?

EDITOR DAILY/SISTER/MR. MISTER
(They whisper it, not disturbing the dream.) Junior’s going to be a journalist!

EDITOR DAILY
There’s a woman there who wants you…

JUNIOR
(Fortissimo and sudden again; the baby is given the rattle.) La la la-la-la la. La la la-la-la la.

EDITOR DAILY
Have you been to Honolulu? Sail away to that fair land…. Dusky maidens in the starlight….

(Flashback to Night Court.)

CLERK
Order in the courtroom! Next case: name?

DRUGGIST
Harry Druggist.

CLERK
Usual charge, I suppose?

COP
You know this one. I picked him up in the square earlier in the evening.

DRUGGIST
Wait a minute. I belong with these people. I sold out too—I sold out my boy and two others with him.

Scene 5: Drugstore

(DRUGGIST; and STEVE, behind fountain. DRUGGIST is a sunny, little man, somewhat vague. He bustles about his drugstore with a pleasant sense of importance. STEVE, his son, is an agreeable adolescent, really much smarter than his father, and a little amused by him.)

DRUGGIST
Steve!

STEVE
Yes, Pop?

DRUGGIST
Those glasses—really clean this time. Hah— (Blows on his hand.) Like that!

STEVE
(Tries it with a glass.) Hah?

DRUGGIST
That’s the way…. (He sings a bit.) It looks like summer weather; there’s a fine warm sun. I swear I’d not change places with King Solomon. I ought to make you pay for every glass that you drop. It certainly feels fine to own my shop.

STEVE
Oh, Pop, you’re such a crazy. This shop’s not yours; what about the mortgage?

DRUGGIST
The mortgage now! You know how much it worries me. I saw the man again, told him to let me be. I’ll pay him when I can. You know who owns the company? It’s Mr. Mister. Tell me, what does he want with my little cash? (He stops singing.) It’s a terrible world, Stevie—and I feel fine. (He hums.) Da da dee da dad a-dum, dee dee da da da.

(Enter BUGS. BUGS is an underworld character, one step above the common thug, slicker and more presentable.)

BUGS
Are you the guy who runs this joint?

DRUGGIST
I’m the proprietor.

BUGS
Do you know a Polock who comes in here every Sunday?

DRUGGIST
A Polock?

BUGS
Sure, a punk. With his wife he comes here.

STEVE
You know, Pop, he means that Polish fellow.

DRUGGIST
(Nodding; he remembers.) He brings his wife here every week about this time. She likes my ice cream sodas. Yes, I know them well.

BUGS
You know what he looks like, huh?

DRUGGIST
Yes, why?

BUGS
Uh, you’d like to keep this drugstore, wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t want any company to clamp down on your mortgage or anything like that now, would you?

DRUGGIST
(He stares.) What’s the idea?

BUGS
Here’s the dope: When this Polock comes in today, you don’t say nothin’. He goes out. There’s a big noise outside. You don’t say nothin’—nothin’, understand? You keep your trap shut. But when they ask you later on, who done it—You remember it’s this here Polock.

DRUGGIST
Done—what?

BUGS
Explosion. They’re takin’ a little piece off Union Headquarters across the street.

DRUGGIST
(A growing alarm on his face.) Who is?

BUGS
None of your damn business. Jeez, I don’t know why the boss hadda pick you outa all the stores on this side! Talk about dumb!

STEVE
The boss? Mr. Mister’s behind this somewhere, Pop!

BUGS
You don’t know that name! You never heard that name before—get me?

DRUGGIST
But, man, I can’t say somebody did something if he didn’t! Suppose he denies it?

BUGS
(Patient.) Listen: I’ll go over it again. There’s gonna to be an explosion. This guy’s gonna be in the explosion. He ain’t gonna bother you none after that.

DRUGGIST
(At last he gets it; tense and quiet.) And his wife, too?

BUGS
Can I help it if his wife never lets him outa her sight?

STEVE
(He has realized all along what is up; now he leaps forward.) Pop, I heard what he said—Pop, you’re not going to let him get away with it!

BUGS
(Grabs STEVE.) You keep your shirt on. You don’t wanna interfere with yer old man!

DRUGGIST
(In a panic.) Steve, they got me cornered—I’ll lose the store—They can do it—I’ll lose everything! They got me, Stevie! What shall I do?

STEVE
Pop!

BUGS
Shut up, now! Here they come.

(BUGS holds STEVE frozen, his hand pressing against an unseen revolver. Enter GUS and SADIE POLOCK. They are simple, nice people, just married, terribly in love. SADIE is fat, and GUS loves her that way. He talks with an accent, but SADIE doesn’t; GUS would never have married a girl with an accent.)

GUS
What store you go to get it?

SADIE
Up on High Street.

GUS
Expensive shop, I bet.

SADIE
No, it ain’t—and it’s the cutest dress!

GUS
Sadie, Sadie, you gotta new dress already. What you wanna, tak all my money?

SADIE
I know, but, Gus…

GUS
Is it pretty dress?

SADIE
Oh, Gus, if you could only see me in it!

GUS
Alri’. Maybe they mak me head guy at the mill, and I get plenty money, ha ha ha.

(GUS and SADIE sit at fountain.)

GUS
What you tak, same ting?

SADIE
Vanilla ice cream soda, with two scoops.

GUS
Me, nutting; aw chust a Cok-Cola; wait, with a shot lemon maybe…. The Manager he come to me yesterday, say I keep away from union, I getta good job; then Larry Foreman, union fella, come to me, say, Gus, don’t be fool, you belong with us. Look like I very pop’lar, everybody want me, I dunno. Sadie, you gonna have kid soon?

SADIE
Gus!

GUS
I wanna kid, I wanna son! What I care what they hear! Now I got first papers, pretty soon I be real American citizen. The fella say they need men like me; sure, good hands, strong— He say America need men like me…Sadie— I tink maybe— You getting’ big already! We gotta buy you new kinda dress soon, huh?

SADIE
Gus, stop it!

(The song.)

GUS
Why don’t my Sadie tell me she gonna have baby?

SADIE
Now, Gus, I ast you twice today, don’t talk that way!

GUS
What I care what they hear?

SADIE
Okay, maybe.

GUS
I make a little bed from wood. So my son sleep good.

GUS/SADIE
So my son sleep good…. We wonder if anyone could be as much in love as we; we wonder if anyone ever was before. They couldn’t be any more than we are. There never was such a day or such a nighttime. There never was such a boy as we will have, and all in the right time.

(GUS tries to pay STEVE. STEVE is nerveless, transfixed, BUGS still covering him.)

GUS
Whassamatta, kid?

(GUS leaves the money on the counter. GUS and SADIE go out. BUGS makes a warning sound, goes to window, makes a sign with his arm to someone across the street.)

STEVE
(Galvanized into action.) No, wait!

(STEVE runs out after GUS and SADIE.)

DRUGGIST
Steve!

STEVE
(Running.) Wait, they’re gonna get you!

DRUGGIST
Stevie!

(The sound of an explosion outside. DRUGGIST covers his face with his hands. The reverberation scarcely dies, when….)

Scene 6: Hotel Lobby

(YASHA and DAUBER enter from either side, practically stomping. Music furious and gay, settles to a vaudeville vamp-till-ready.)

YASHA
Well, if it isn’t my old friend Dauber, the artist!

DAUBER
Well, if it isn’t my old friend Yasha, the violinist! (Aside.) He has to be here today.

YASHA
(Aside.) Of all the people who walk into a hotel lobby, I meet him.

DAUBER
How’s the concert business?

YASHA
Fine. How’s the painting business? I had thirty concerts last year.

DAUBER
Last year, I sold twelve pictures last year. How about this year?

YASHA
This year I rely on my talent.

DAUBER
Prospects are lousy for me, too….

(A patter song.)

DAUBER
Don’t let me keep you, please be on your way. You must have many things to do.

YASHA
No, not at all, an appointment today brings me to these parts.

DAUBER
Me, too!

YASHA
But the person I’m about to meet, I doubt you could have met her. The kind that grovels at my feet, she’d stay there if I let her. She’s fabulously wealthy, and although that’s not the reason, I think she can be counted on to subsidize me all next season!

DAUBER
Your lady friend does resemble a lot someone, and that’s very queer.

YASHA
(Indifferent.) So?

DAUBER
Someone who’s meeting me here—

YASHA
(Interested.) No!

DAUBER
Is her Pierce Arrow light blue?

YASHA
(Alarmed.) Yes!

DAUBER
Not Mrs. Mister?

YASHA
Well, yes—Mrs. Mister.

DAUBER
Me, too!

YASHA/DAUBER
Oh, there’s something so damned low about the rich! They’re fantastic, they’re far-fetched, they’re just funny. They’ve no impulse, no fine feeling, no great itch!

YASHA
What have they got?

DAUBER
What have they got?

YASHA/DAUBER
What have they got? Money.

(The vamp again.)

DAUBER
Stupid woman, Mrs. Mister!

YASHA
Stupid? What she doesn’t know about music would put Heifetz back on his feet again!

DAUBER
She asked me to bring El Greco to tea this summer!

YASHA
This summer?

(The song.)

YASHA
Oh, so she mentioned this summer to you: Did she say where she will be?

DAUBER
No, but we both thought that Paris would do or Capri. She calls it Capree.

YASHA
Why, she promised me Bar Harbor, with an extra house where I—But of course, if she has other plans, I’ve other fish to fry….

DAUBER
Well, dear Lady Duchess desperately wants me at her place; she’s had everyone do her three quarter’s; I’m to do full-face.

YASHA
And I just heard from Marchesa Contessa last week: she was Matilda Magee.

DAUBER
Well?

YASHA
Now she’s divorced the Marquis!

DAUBER
Hell, my Lady Duchess loves me!

YASHA
Swell!

DAUBER
But to wed wealth, so I fear, would affect my career.

YASHA
I agree!

YASHA/DAUBER
For there’s something so damned low about the rich! It’s incredible, the open way they court you. All these millionaires, I can’t tell which is which.

DAUBER
What can they do?

YASHA
What can they do?

YASHA/DAUBER
What can they do? Support you.

(Enter MRS. MISTER. YASHA and DAUBER trip over each other trying to get to her.)

MRS. MISTER
Ah, there you are, you two—and together! Who says I haven’t brought about a union of the arts? Painting… and Music… Twin flowers… from one stem… The Spirit! Yasha, those horns are perfect… Imagine… (To DAUBER.) He went and had the horns of my Pierce Arrow tuned to that motif in Beethoven’s Egmont Overture… you know: ta, ta, ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta, yoo hoo! Dauber, I had an argument with Hallie Vacuum at lunch whether Picasso has curly hair… now don’t tell me, I couldn’t bear it if he was bald! The weekend… you’re both coming to me for the weekend!

YASHA/DAUBER
(Elaborately.) Oh, yes!

(A rhumba duet.)

YASHA/DAUBER
Ask us again and again, Mrs. Mister. Ask us again, we love it. Please, now and then, do ask us again! Whenever it’s convenient, we’ll come; when it’s not, we’re always lenient, unless you’ve found some other bum! For we love to sit in the lap of your lush and lavish display although it’s only from Friday night till Sunday. Your guests are disgusting; your food is too heavy; we eat and we drink and we belch and we’re full and we’re ill and we’re bored…

MRS. MISTER
(It is all quite incomprehensible and hilarious to her.) You boys will kill me!

YASHA/DAUBER
But we live off the fat of the land; And for service we don’t lift a hand. We’re allowed to be rude, and insulting and lewd—

(YASHA and DAUBER go into close harmony.)

YASHA/DAUBER
So long may you wave, and forever, amen. If you’ll ask us again, again and again, oh, please, Mrs. Mister, just ask us again!

MRS. MISTER
Did I tell you about Rupert Scansion? The poet, you know, he has divine eyes and such sensitive hands, and he told me I was an old soul, a very old soul… He was alluding to my spirit… And he’s coming to dinner tonight.

YASHA
(This is serious!) To dinner!

DAUBER
(Willing to unite against a common enemy.) Cora, you’re falling!

YASHA
Cora, we’re starving! Ask us to dinner, too!

DAUBER
Yes, do!

MRS. MISTER
(Bland.) You poor boys! Artists have to eat, that’s all we’re good for, we moneyed people. Just use us, just step all over us. If it’s only for the good of the cause… Oh, speaking of the cause… I want you two to join my husband’s Liberty Committee. You will, won’t you?

DAUBER
Put us down.

YASHA
And how!

MRS. MISTER
But don’t you want to know what it’s all about?

YASHA
Politics?

DAUBER
Cora, we’re artists!

YASHA/DAUBER
And we love art for Art’s sake! It’s smart, for Art’s sake, to part, for Art’s sake, with your heart, for Art’s sake, and your mind, for Art’s sake—Be blind, for Art’s sake, and deaf, for Art’s sake, and dumb, for Art’s sake, until, for Art’s sake, they kill, for Art’s sake, all the Art for Art’s sake!

(Sound of the “Egmont” motif on limousine horns outside.)

MRS. MISTER
There’s the car now! Dauber… (MRS. MISTER takes DAUBER’S arm.) Yasha… (MRS. MISTER takes YASHA’S arm.)

MRS. MISTER/YASHA/DAUBER
(As MRS. MISTER, YASHA and DAUBER exit to much Beethoven.) Yoo hoo! Yoo hoo! Yoo hoo!

Scene 7: Night Court

(The MOLL sits on the railing. Halflight.)

MOLL
It was Tuesday last week, yeah, Tuesday. I had breakfast at Andy’s—Coffee-and; for lunch, I had coffee-and again; for dinner I could only afford coffee. Then I looked on the floor, and I see a nickel shinin’ there. Gee!

(MOLL steps on it.)

MOLL
Coffee-and, Andy! Then I looked closer—That wasn’t no nickel. Not coffee-and, Andy, just coffee, Andy—cute, huh? Mister, you don’t know what it felt like, thinkin’ that was a nickel under my foot.

(Moll has been talking over music; now the tune carries her with it.)

MOLL
Maybe you wonder what it is makes people good or bad: why some guy, an ace without a doubt, turns out to be a bastard, and the other way about. I’ll tell you what I feel: It’s just the nickel under the heel…. Oh, you can live like Hearts-and-Flowers, and every day is a wonderland tour. Oh, you can dream and scheme and happily put and take, take and put…. But first, be sure the nickel’s under your foot. Go stand on someone’s neck while you’re takin’; cut into somebody’s throat as you put—for every dream and scheme’s depending on whether, all through the storm, you’ve kept it warm: the nickel under your foot. And if you’re sweet, then you’ll grow rotten; your pretty heart covered over with soot. And if for once you’re gay, and devil-may-careless, and oh, so hot: I know you’ve got that nickel under your foot.

(The lights come up. The COP appears.)

COP
Which of you guys wanted to see the man who made the speech?

REVEREND SALVATION
Hey, Larry Foreman, now make a speech!

(Instantly the LIBERTY COMMITTEE is in a dither.)

REVEREND SALVATION
That’s the man who made the speech!

REVEREND SALVATION/DAUBER
He’s the one who started this!

DR. SPECIALIST
Wait till Mr. Mister comes.

REVEREND SALVATION/DAUBER
Did you phone to Mr. Mister? What’d he say? What’d he say?

EDITOR DAILY
Mr. Mister’s not at home.

YASHA/PREXY/TRIXIE
Not at home?

EDITOR DAILY
At a meeting with the Board.

REVEREND SALVATION/DAUBER
With the Board?

EDITOR DAILY
Says the Judge is with him, too. He’ll come over right away: just as soon as they get through.

YASHA/PREXY/TRIXIE
What’d he say? What’d he say?

REVEREND SALVATION/DAUBER
He’ll come over right away.

(Enter LARRY FOREMAN. LARRY is the hero of the piece. He’s not very good-looking—a humorous face, and an engaging manner. Confidence is there, too; not self-confidence; a kind of knowledge about the way things probably have to work out. It gives him a surprising modesty, and a young poise.)

DR. SPECIALIST
That’s the man who made the speech!

REVEREND SALVATION/DAUBER
He’s the one who made the speech!

PREXY/TRIXIE
He’s the one who started this!

LARRY
(LARRY has already started on a long note which breaks.) O-o-o-h, boy! I just been grilled. Say, who made up that word, grilled? I also been barbecued, frizzled and (LARRY tries to sit) pleated. Now I know what the dirty foreigners feel like. I guess I am a foreigner at that. Our property’s been in the family for over sixty years…. But it’s nine miles outa town, so that makes me a foreigner. Not that it’s a good property…. If it was, we wouldn’t have it no sixty minutes. Ever hear of Mr. Mister? There’s an A-number-one homesnatcher; a lotta hard work and perseverance went into that reputation… (LARRY turns, sees the LIBERTY COMMITTEE all eyeing him balefully.) Saaay, what’s the whole Liberty Committee doin’ in a night court? And on the wrong side of the bar? Wait till I tell my Aunt Jessie… She’s got a comeback for everything. “Allus said they was the biggest cheats and whores in town.” Excuse the language, Miss, (LARRY says to MOLL.) My Aunt Jessie gets all them big words outa the Bible. (LARRY looks at MOLL more closely.) You’re new here. What’s the matter, they catch you on the streets, kid?

MOLL
Uh huh. Whatta they got you for?

LARRY
Who, me? Makin’ a speech and passin’ out leaflets! The fawmal chahge is Incitin’ to Riot—Ain’t you ever seen my act?

(LARRY goes into it.)

LARRY
Well, I’m creepin’ along in the dark; my eyes is crafty, my pockets is bulging! I’m loaded, armed to the teeth—with leaflets. And am I quick on the draw! I come up to you… very slow… very snaky; and with one fell gesture—I tuck a leaflet in your hand. And then, one, two, three—There’s a riot. You’re the riot. I incited you… I’m terrific, I am!

MOLL
That don’t sound like nothin’ to get arrested for; besides, you don’t seem very worried.

LARRY
Listen, girlie, you don’t want to talk that way, that’s dangerous talk. First thing you know they’ll have you deported as well as fumigated…. But it’s a good leaflet, we printed it ourselves. We got a committee, too, farmers and city people, doctors, lawyers, newspapermen, even a couple of poets—and one preacher. We’re middle class, we all got property—we also got our eyes open. This crowd here?

(A chord.)

LARRY
Hidin’ up there in the cradle of the Liberty Committee?

(Another chord.)

LARRY
Upon the topmost bough of yonder tree now, like bees in their hives, the lords and their lackeys and wives—a-swingin’ “Rockabye Baby” in a nice big cradle. Then they remark the air is chilly up there; the sky beetle-browed; can that be a cloud over there? And then they put out their hands and feel stormy weather! A birdie ups and cries… “Boys, this looks bad; You haven’t used your eyes; you’ll wish you had.” That’s thunder, that’s lightning, and it’s going to surround you! No wonder those storm-birds Seem to circle around you! Well, you can’t climb down, and you can’t sit still; that’s a storm that’s going to last until the final wind blows… and when the wind blows… The cradle will rock! That’s thunder, that’s lightning, and it’s going to surround you! No wonder those storm-birds seem to circle around you! Well, you can’t climb down, and you can’t say “No’! You can’t stop the weather, not with all your dough! For when the wind blows… Oh, when the wind blows… The cradle will rock! The cradle will rock! Do you think we don’t know what that fight tonight’s about? Why Murphy from the rolling mills and Brown from the roughers, and Young from the boilermakers, is sittin’ together in Union Headquarters? Why more people than Steeltown ever saw at one time are crowdin’ around in the square? Those boys don’t know it, but they’re fightin’ our fight, too. They’re makin’ onions grow all over the land where nothin’ but cactus grew before… and they’ll have the machinists and the blasters with ’em before the week is out… try and stop ’em.

YASHA
Did he say onions?

DAUBER
Yes, but he means unions!

YASHA
Oh.

LARRY
Did you see the people… the tons of ’em? And the order, the quiet? I lost my Aunt Jessie in a crowd of boilermakers, bunched together with their wives and kids on one side of the square… the kids all had bugles! I’ll find her blowin’ a bugle, I guess! Unless they pull her in for carryin’ concealed deadly leaflets—two-gun Jessie herself! Over on the other side of the square, the roughers with their kids… and their kids had drums.

DRUGGIST
I saw them. In the middle of the square were the rolling mill workers—their kids out in front, too, with fifes.

LARRY
Do you know what it takes a kid from blowin’ his bugle or bangin’ his drum? They’re all there now, not makin’ a sound— Just waitin’, waitin’—ready to strike up the band as soon as they hear the good news.

DRUGGIST
I asked one little boy why he wasn’t playing his fife—and he said to me, “Mister, that’s discipline.”

LARRY
Tonight’s the night! O boy, if they get together! O boy, O boy, O boy! Good-bye, open shop in Steeltown! Hello, closed shop!

(MOLL comes over and sits by LARRY.)

MOLL
What’s the difference?

LARRY
The difference? Open shop is when a boilermaker can be kicked around, demoted, fired, like that—he’s all alone, he’s free—free to be wiped out. Closed shop—he’s got fifty thousand other boilermakers behind him, ready to back him up, every one of them, to the last lunch pail. The difference? It’s like the five fingers on your hand. That’s (Tapping one finger.) the boilermakers—just one finger—but this— (Pointing to finger for each.) rollers, roughers, machinists, blasters, boilermakers—that’s closed shop! (Makes a fist of it.) That’s a union! (Thumbing nose with that hand.) O boy! O boy! O boy!

(The LIBERTY COMMITTEE seem curiously the target for the gesture.)

CLERK
Order in the courtroom! Next case. Name?

PREXY
I am President Prexy of College University, and these are Professors Mamie and Trixie of the same institution.

CLERK
Charge?

LARRY
(LARRY Imitates his Aunt Jessie.) Maintaining a disorderly house!

Scene 8: Faculty Room

(PREXY dozes at his desk. Telephone bell rings.)

PREXY
Yes? Mr. Mister? Well, good heavens, man, show him in!

(Enter MR. MISTER.)

PREXY
Mr. Mister!

MR. MISTER
President Prexy.

PREXY
Lovely morning!

MR. MISTER
It’s raining.

PREXY
Oh, is it raining? I had no idea; well, of all things…

MR. MISTER
My wife’s waiting for me. I’ll come to the point at once. I need a speaker—one of your professors; Someone who can put up a good front.

PREXY
We have lots of professors this year, who make lovely appearances. Just what kind of a man—?

MR. MISTER
Rally next Saturday night. I’m extending your military tactics course. Two years’ compulsory training now. Didn’t they tell you?

PREXY
No, they didn’t tell me. Heh, heh—heh— (The last “heh” is rather sad.)

MR. MISTER
Well, we’re building up quite a nice little regiment. You never know when you need ’em. There was that Aliquippa strike in 1933. The National Guard isn’t any cheaper, and I can handle college boys myself.

PREXY
Mmmmmm.

MR. MISTER
The country’s going to the dogs, wWhat with the unions…

PREXY
(Anxious to corroborate.) Mmmmmmmmmm!

MR. MISTER
And sitdown strikes—

(PREXY “Ts-Ts-Ts”-es.)

MR. MISTER
Well, I want a professor from the University, to come and talk to the students, stir l’em up—someone who can talk.

PREXY
Let me see, who would be the kind of man most suited for your purpose?

(PREXY thinks, then takes phone.)

PREXY
Send in Mamie, Scoot and Trixie.

(PREXY hangs up.)

PREXY
Mamie’s a new one, just up from Argentina; he may be the very article!

(MR. MISTER grunts; takes out a newspaper. Enter MAMIE, SCOOT, and TRIXIE. SCOOT, whom we haven’t met yet, is the sort of eternally unwashed bookworm who sits bespectacled in the campus cafeteria utterly absorbed in his book, probably Sanskrit.)

PREXY
Boys, this is Mr. Mister, our distinguished citizen—and trustee. He—

PREXY
(Whispers.) Pssssssst!

SCOOT/MAMIE/TRIXIE
Psssst! Psssst! Psssst!

(PREXY, SCOOT, MAMIE, and TRIXIE go into a football huddle.)

SCOOT/MAMIE/TRIXIE
Ta dee, ta doo, ta da da da! Ta dee, ta doo, ta da da da!

SCOOT
(Trying to rise.) But, President Prexy, I feel—

PREXY
(Pulls SCOOT down.) Not now, Scoot, you first, Mamie!

(Police whistle.)

MAMIE
(Steps forward modestly.) Applied science, Laboratory 54. (Thinks hard.) Military training? Mmmmmmm. (Has an idea.) Young gentlemen of the University—I give you—the Triple-Flank-Manuever!

SCOOT
President Prexy, I still feel—

PREXY
Shhhhhh!

MAMIE
(MAMIE goes right on, hoping to heaven something sensible will come out.) That maneuver is a sort of symbol, a connection if you will—a connection so to speak with the times—the times and the tides, the tides and the times as it were! Cloistered life—sanctum of learning—home of the Higher Good—Haven of the—uh—Humanities, the—what shall I say? The Humanities, in short! (MAMIE finishes very brightly.)

SCOOT
But—my dear sir!

PREXY
Scoot, your turn will come! Hush!

MAMIE
The University has a much broader base than many people might give it credit for—having—a much—broader—base. (MAMIE finishes not so brightly, but still valiant.) May I, in conclusion, once again, as a sort of peroration, without wishing to appear drastic, mind you, may I give you, but also with no apologies whatsoever, the Triple-Flank-Maneuver?

(MR. MISTER shakes his head emphatically.)

PREXY
(Like the Madam whose first wench is discovered to be bowlegged.) Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. Wait. We’ll let you know.

(MAMIE to the side, huffily.)

MR. MISTER
Too many long words. What’s he think college boys are? They won’t know he’s talking about military training.

PREXY
(Hopefully to Number Two.) Now, Professor Scoot!

SCOOT
(Very stern; his chance has come!) Ethics 42, Aesthetics 6, Logic 1.

PREXY
How do you feel about our course in military tactics?

SCOOT
(A fateful pause.) Do I have to say?

PREXY
(What now?) Why, yes.

SCOOT
(Poisonously.) Then I don’t like military training, military training of any kind! I’m a Tolstoyan!

MR. MISTER/PREXY/MAMIE/TRIXIE
A what?

SCOOT
A Little Brother.

MR. MISTER
(Bellowing.) Where were you during the war?

SCOOT
Henry Ford’s Peace Ship.

MR. MISTER/PREXY/MAMIE/TRIXIE
(A mixture of rage, amazement and despair.) Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!

PREXY
Oh, I’m sorry! How did he get on our payroll? Believe me, he’s off it now. Why, Trixie!

TRIXIE
(Has been removing his turtle-neck sweater, flings it on the floor, and stands in robust and silly upper nakedness.) Football Coach, also Elementary French…

(TRIXIE goes into his turn.)

TRIXIE
Listen, fellas! Military course—two years? Tree cheers! Listen, fellas! Army training—Port in a storm! Soivice stripes—epaulettes—silver shoit maybe—attababy! Builds you up!—Alma Mater! Sex Appeal! Two years! Tree Cheers! Stick your chest out! Be a man!

MR. MISTER
(At last.) Wonderful! Wonderful!

PREXY
(Beaming and helping TRIXIE on with his sweater.) Enchanting, enchanting, enchating!

MR. MISTER
You can both consider yourselves on my Liberty Committee.

(MAMIE peeks forward.)

MR. MISTER
I guess we can use Mamie, too, those long words may come in handy there—but not that Peace Ship—!

(SCOOT snorts.)

MR. MISTER
Now you can tell the boys we’re buying them the best military equipment—

(The music gently goes lullaby.)

MR. MISTER
Riot guns, tear gas, hand grenades, cartridges, everything—they’re going to find that three or even four years of such training… Is not going to hurt—not going to hurt—not going to hurt—

Scene 9: Dr. Specialist’s Office

(MR. MISTER being examined by DR. SPECIALIST.)

MR. MISTER
Not going to hurt, is it, Doctor? It’s not going to hurt?

DR. SPECIALIST
Now, don’t be alarmed, old man, a purely routine examination… Just breathe naturally.

MR. MISTER
It hurts sometimes when I breathe, Doc, you know.

DR. SPECIALIST
Where—here?

(DR. SPECIALIST tries various places.)

MR. MISTER
No—not now, Doc. But it does hurt.

DR. SPECIALIST
Just breathe naturally.

(MR. MISTER breathes heavily, with fear.)

DR. SPECIALIST
Mmmmm. Mostly nerves. There are some new injections, rather rare in this country. We’ll start them tomorrow; and remember—a long cure at Vichy this summer, I think that’s all.

MR. MISTER
All? You’re certainly not forgetting to take my temperature and pulse, Doctor?

DR. SPECIALIST
(Suppressing a smile.) Fair enough.

(DR. SPECIALIST does so.)

DR. SPECIALIST
Incidentally, old man, I want to thank you for being made chairman of the Liberty Committee. It means a great deal to me, as you probably knew. Among other things, I believe that’s all I needed to get a research appointment I’ve been after for months.

(DR. SPECIALIST takes thermometer; looks at it.)

DR. SPECIALIST
Perfectly normal.

MR. MISTER
(Really disappointed.) Normal?

DR. SPECIALIST
Completely. Pulse a bit jumpy. Just nerves, that’s all.

ATTENDANT
(Over desk-speaker.) Ella Hammer to see you, Doctor.

MR. MISTER
Ella Hammer? That’s the sister of the machinist who got hurt, isn’t it? What’s she doing here?

DR. SPECIALIST
No idea. I treated him at the clinic.

MR. MISTER
(He lights a cigar.) I think I know what she wants. The man was drunk at the time, wasn’t he?

(MR. MISTER offers DR. SPECIALIST a cigar.)

DR. SPECIALIST
Drunk? Why, no.

(DR. SPECIALIST also refuses the cigar.)

MR. MISTER
(On the alert, but revealing it.) No? That’s very interesting. I was sure I heard he slipped because he had been drinking.

DR. SPECIALIST
Well… Is it causing you any trouble?

MR. MISTER
(Easily.) Oh, in a sort of way. He’s been trying to put over this new union stuff on the employees…. The kind that’s never satisfied. His sister’s beefing all over the place how he got pushed into the ladle…

(MR. MISTER continues rather humorously.)

MR. MISTER
You know I had a hard time deciding whether a doctor was the right type to head a Liberty Committee; I decided— Well, for a number of reasons… I assumed, naturally, after you examined him— Didn’t you say he was drunk?

DR. SPECIALIST
I…?

MR. MISTER
(A bit sharply.) Yes, you! As a matter of fact, I phoned the newspapers only this morning to send someone over to get the story from you…

(MR. MISTER is humorous again.)

MR. MISTER
I’m wondering how easily you could explain your sudden resignation as chairman of the Liberty Committee to your extensive practice… That is, if a change was found advisable….

(The cigar drops from MR. MISTER’S mouth; he is suddenly a sort of maniac.)

MR. MISTER
Good God, I’m a sick man, Doctor! Doesn’t anyone realize how sick I am? I have nightmares. I’m in the middle of an earthquake! Call it nerves, call it what you like. I don’t understand the times… unions, unions…

(MR. MISTER grinds the cigar under his heel.)

MR. MISTER
We raised their wages, now they want a union! Things are slipping from my grasp; what’s it coming to? My own doctor helps to make me sick!

(MR. MISTER calms down.)

MR. MISTER
There, you see.

(MR. MISTER continues brokenly and with great charm.)

MR. MISTER
I guess you can handle her, eh?

(There is a long pause. MR. MISTER, completely recovered, leaves. On the way he meets ELLA HAMMER coming in. ELLA wears a tam and windbreaker. She is no longer young; right now she is in dead earnest. MR. MISTER and ELLA stare at each other, then MR. MISTER looks once again at DR. SPECIALIST and departs.)

ELLA
Hello, Doctor. Doctor, you examined Joe— Doctor, you’re the one to know. If he ever touched a drop of liquor, he couldn’t hold it. You know his stomach. They take enough out of his paycheck for you to know his stomach by now!

DR. SPECIALIST
(He taps twice with his pencil.) Yes.

ELLA
Is the rumor true that they mean to say that he was drunk?

DR. SPECIALIST
(The pencil taps.) Yes.

ELLA
But, Doctor, you know those hoodlums framed him! Pushed him into that ladle because he wasn’t afraid to talk! He’s been expecting this for weeks! He even told you that!

DR. SPECIALIST
(The pencil taps.) Yes.

ELLA
Workers who have been cheated and lied to and sold out— They daren’t trust anybody no more! They mustn’t lose their faith in Joe, now— You see that, don’t you?

(ELLA’s voice rises. No tears, only fury.)

DR. SPECIALIST
(The pencil taps.) Yes.

ELLA
(DR. SPECIALIST’S last “yes” disarms her. Somewhat more quietly.) So—you will tell the workers it was all a frame-up… You’ll say their confidence in him was not unfounded? I hoped you would.

ATTENDANT
Reporters from the newspapers, sir.

DR. SPECIALIST
(The pencil taps.) Yes.

(Two REPORTERS enter.)

REPORTER ONE
Good morning, Doctor.

REPORTER TWO
Mr. Mister phoned us to come here; we aren’t quite sure what for.

(A pause.)

DR. SPECIALIST
(Finally he speaks. He looks steadily down at something on his desk.) Gentleman, I’ll be brief. My statement is this: I examined the man Hammer shortly after his injury at the Steeltown mills last Thursday. He was obviously intoxicated.

(ELLA shoots a quick glance at DR. SPECIALIST.)

DR. SPECIALIST
That is all.

REPORTER ONE
But Doctor, isn’t there any more?

REPORTER TWO
That hardly makes a complete story.

ELLA
(Steps forward; so quietly you have to strain to hear her.) A story? Is that what your papers want, a story? Listen, here’s a story. Not much fun, and not much glory; low-class… lowdown…. The thing you never care to see, until there is a showdown. Here it is—I’ll make it snappy: Are you ready? Everybody happy? Joe Worker gets gypped; for no good reason, just gypped. From the start until the finish comes… They feed him out of garbage cans; they breed him the slums! Joe Worker will go to shops where stuff is on show; he’ll look at the meat; he’ll look at the bread; and too little to eat sort of goes to the head. One big question inside me cries: How many fakers, peace undertakers, paid strikebreakers, how many toiling, ailing, dying, piled-up bodies, Brother, does it take to make you wise? Joe Worker just drops, right at his workin’ he drops, weary, weary, tired to the core; and then if he drops out of sight there’s always plenty more! Joe Worker must know that somebody’s got him in tow… Yet what is the good for just one to be clear? Oh, it takes a lot of Joes to make a sound you can hear! One big question inside me cries: How many frame-ups, how many shakedowns, lockouts, sellouts, how many times machine guns tell the same old story, Brother, does it take to make you wise?

Scene 10: Night Court

LARRY
And so the great Dr. Specialist drew a research appointment, and kept his job on the Liberty Committee.

MOLL
Gee, and I thought they were all so high class!

LARRY
Sister, you should be ashamed—an amateur like you in the company of all these professionals? They could teach you something. For instance, you’ll probably go to jail…. But do you think they will? Not on your committee button, they won’t!

PREXY
Will Mr. Mister never get here?

YASHA
It seems we’ve been here hours!

REVEREND SALVATION
I insist that man be stopped. He’s already caused enough trouble. What is this, Russia? We don’t have to listen to talk like that!

LARRY
No, you don’t have to listen. You’re all independent, you are; there ain’t no Mr. Mister, there’s just the bogey man. You preach what he tells you to preach… You print what he tells you to print… or else! You sell out everything you got… Your store, your son, yourself.

DRUGGIST
Stevie!

LARRY
Mr. Mister comes around, and you… Kiss the ground where he walks. Mrs. Mister lifts a finger, and you… Lift your little behind to be smacked! This ain’t Russia, no… it’s Steeltown, U.S.A.!

DAUBER
What do you want us to do, join unions?

PREXY
A University President’s Union!

YASHA
A Concert Artists’ Union!

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Don’t make us laugh!

DRUGGIST
I got some sort of invitation to join a pharmacists’ union—I wonder if they know there’s a poolroom now where my drugstore was.

LARRY
Didn’t anyone ever tell you boys you belong to a union already?

(Derision from the LIBERTY COMMITTEE.)

LARRY
It’s the closedest shop ever heard of—and it’s been runnin’ things for quite a while. Only you’re being rooked; You’re in one of them racketeer unions, where you run all the errands and get maybe a dollar cigar for Christmas. You ain’t made one real demand yet, you’ve only said, “Yes, Mr. Mister,” up to now. You’re caught there, boys, you’re stuck like a sandwich between the top crowd pressin’ down and the bottom crowd comin’ up! What do you wanna be, hamburgers? I ask you!

(LARRY makes a gesture to the LIBERTY COMMITTEE. Enter MR. MISTER, haggard, pale.)

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Mr. Mister!

(LIBERTY COMMITTEE rushes to MR. MISTER.)

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
You got here at last! Oh, you don’t know what we’ve been through! These idiots don’t know us! Hurry! Get us out! Now that you’ve come…etc., etc.

(MR. MISTER passes through them, goes straight to LARRY.)

MR. MISTER
You’re Larry Foreman?

LARRY
Ex-foreman.

MR. MISTER
I’ve been looking all over town for you.

LARRY
Well, how’s the union returns?

MR. MISTER
They haven’t come to a decision yet. Mr. Foreman, I know a lot about you, you were once in my employ. Look here… We’re both for the same thing, a fair and square deal for everybody. Why don’t you persuade your group to join with the Liberty Committee into one big united organization?

LARRY
(On guard, non-committal.) You mean with these people here?

MR. MISTER
Yes, a bad mistake, their being here. (To CLERK.) Release them at once. I told the Judge to go on home. I have his authority. That includes you, too, Mr. Foreman, of course.

LARRY
You got his authority, eh?

MR. MISTER
Yes, my brother-in-law, you know.

LARRY
Oh, the Judge is your brother-in-law. He’s part of the Liberty Committee, too?

MR. MISTER
And some of the best people in town. Dr. Specialist over there… Editor Daily, you know him… and they’re all very democratic. Come now, what do you say?

LARRY
Let me understand you… You’d like my services in swinging your way all the people I’ve signed up—all the people who agree with the union. You want me to change their mind, is that it? 

MR. MISTER
Well, that’s a little strongly put.

LARRY
Oh, Mr. Mister, you can be perfectly frank with me.

MR. MISTER
When all this trouble’s over, I’ll see to it personally that there’s a wave of increased production, improved methods, closer competition than the country’s ever seen. Do they know I’m building them a swimming pool? A library? A private park for their children?

LARRY
From where I sit it looks like they only want a union.

MR. MISTER
I don’t want to talk about your own future. There’s nothing you couldn’t be. I haven’t time to argue. Well?

LARRY
I might, but it’s a tall order you know.

MR. MISTER
Well, of course, I don’t expect you to do it just like that.

LARRY
Ought to be worth quite a sum to you, eh?

MR. MISTER
I thought so. You needn’t worry about that part. I’ll see you get what it’s worth. Let’s talk it over outside.

LARRY
Wait! I’m kinda funny that way. I’d like to know now about how much it might be worth?

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
That’s it! That’s it! Now do it! 

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Go ahead! Go ahead!

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Listen, you!

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
That’s Mr. Mister…

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Mr. Mister! And that’s an offer he’s making you!

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Take it! Take it!

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
He’s making you an offer, making you an offer! Do you understand?

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Go on, go on, you son-of-a-bitch, you lousy foreman, who do you think you are? Go on, go on! That’s Mr. Mister! Making you an offer! Take it! Take it! Making you an offer! Mr. Mister!

DRUGGIST
No, don’t! 

DRUGGIST
No, don’t do it!

DRUGGIST
Don’t do it!

DRUGGIST
Remember!

DRUGGIST
A murderer!

DRUGGIST
No! Stop him! I know! I care! Wait! Wait! I can’t stand it!

MOLL
(MOLL starts humming verse of “Nickel under the Foot.”) 

MOLL
Oh, you can live like hearts and flowers, and every day is a wonderful tour.

MOLL
Oh, you can dream and scheme, and happily put and take, take and put. But first be sure the nickel’s under your foot. Go stand on someone’s neck while you’re takin’. Cut into somebody’s throat as you put. For every dream and scheme’s depending on whether all though the storm, you’ve kept it warm—the nickel under your foot.

MOLL
And if you’re sweet, then you’ll grow rotten; your pretty heart covered over with soot—And if for once you’re gay and devil-may-careless and oh, so hot,—I know you’ve got….

(In complete silence, MR. MISTER takes out a thick envelope and hands it to LARRY who slowly opens the envelope and counts the cash inside.)

LARRY
(Through the silence which follows the last words.) You don’t say. Worth that much to you, hmm? Well, you take all that money and go buy yourself a big piece of toast. You wanna relax—and to me and my Aunt Jessie. You’re a poached egg.

(LARRY tosses the envelope back to a startled MR. MISTER.)

MR. MISTER
What?

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Fool! Fool!

DRUGGIST
Stevie!

LARRY
Now, then, get outa here; and take this little girl with you! Out there she doesn’t cost you nothin’—In jail you’re liable to have to feed her!

MR. MISTER
Why, you Goddamned sunk! I’ll break you… I’ll run you out of town…

LARRY
And give us front page publicity? Would you? Please?

LIBERTY COMMITTEE
Kill him! Lynch him!

LARRY
Yeah, lynch, kill! Listen once and for all, you scared bunch of ninnies! Outside in the square they’re startin’ somethin’ that’s gonna tear the catgut outa your stinkin’ rackets! That’s Steel marchin’ out in front! But one day there’s gonna be Wheat… and sidewalks… Cows… and music… Shops… houses… Poems… bridges… drugstores… The people of this town are findin’ out what it’s all about… They’re growin’ up! And when everybody gets together Like Steel’s getting together tonight, Where are you then? Listen, you Black Legions, you Ku Kluxers, you Vigil-Aunties hidin’ up there in the Cradle of the Liberty Committee… When the storm breaks… (Quietly.) The cradle will fall!

(ALL watch his pointing hand descend slowly. Blare of bugles outside, left.)

LARRY
Listen! The boilermakers are with us! That’s the boilermakers’ kids!

(Beat of drums, and the sound of voices singing “Upon the topmost bough.”)

LARRY
The roughers!

(Sound of fifes and more voices.)

LARRY
The rollers! Steel! Your steel! They done it!

(All the music and voices come nearer, backstage and in the theater too, converging upon the aisles. The LIBERTY COMMITTEE are frozen where they stand.)

COP
They’re marchin’ down here! They got no permit to march!

CLERK
Arrest them!

COP
Arrest them? There’s thousands of ’em! They’re standin’ in front of the courthouse, right here!

MR. MISTER
(The surrender to fear.) My God! What do they want with me?

LARRY
(Almost sheepishly.) Don’t worry, that’s not for you. That’s just my Aunt Jessie and her committee.

(LARRY joins in with the song and music.)

LARRY
That’s thunder, that’s lightning, and it’s going to surround you! No wonder those storm-birds seem to circle around you… Well, you can’t climb down, and you can’t sit still; that’s a storm that’s going to last until the final wind blows… and when the wind blows… the cradle will rock!

(Music, bugles, drums and fifes.)

CURTAIN


Leave a Reply:

%d bloggers like this: