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from Monologues and novelties (1896)

     edited by B.C.L. Griffith [sic]


(by B.L.C. Griffith)

SCENE: An attic room — very poorly furnished.  Door L.  
     Window in flat, C.  Table, middle C.  A cradle down R.

  A poor man is drafted for service and compelled to join
the army, leaving behind a wife and infant child.  She has
struggled to make a living, but finally, through sickness
and lack of work, is brought to the verge of starvation. 
Upon the morning of the day that she is to be turned out of
her attic room, being greatly behind in the payment of rent,
she learns that her husband's regiment is expected home.  It
is from this point that the monologue begins.


  (Speaks out the door entreatingly) But I can't pay the
rent this morning.  Give me until to-morrow.  I have tried
so hard to raise the money, but no one will give me work. 
(A slight pause.)  Yes, yes; I can pay to-morrow.  The
regiment my husband belongs to returns to-day — see; the
paper says so.  (Points to the newspaper.)  He will pay
everything I owe.  I am sure he will.  Oh, please, please! 
For my child's sake, have pity.  Don't turn us out into the
cold.  Just till to-morrow.  This afternoon — wait until this
afternoon.  Tom will be home then.  Have mercy! (After a
pause.)  Oh, thank you — thank you from the bottom of my
heart! (After a slight pause.) Yes, I know that I do not
deserve it.  You have been very good to me. (Closes the door
and crosses to the table, C.)  Life has been so hard since
Tom left.  Oh I why is war necessary?  It brings such
suffering; so much sorrow. (Goes to the cradle down R. and
kneeling beside it, talks to the baby.)  Two years ago,
little Tom; just think, two whole years since he was forced
to leave us.  How lonely we have been without him, haven't
we?  But how very desolate it would have been if we had not
had one another.  And yet, sometimes — sometimes when we have
been almost starving, and so cold, so very cold, I have
thought that if I should go away too, perhaps you would be
happier. (Thoughtfully.)  What was it the gentleman at the
Home said?  "If your child had no parents we could take him,
but while you and your husband live we cannot support what
it is your duty to care for."  If you should lose your
mother, little Tom, then kind people would take charge of
you, and you would have plenty to eat and nice clothes to
wear — and — and (choking with emotion)  Oh! it would be
terrible to give you up.  No, no; I could not.  Not so long
as Tom lives.  But how foolish of me to talk so!  Why, I was
almost crying.  The idea!  The very day that your father is
coming home.  How proud he will be of you!  And how proud
you will grow to be of him, for he is the best man in all
the world.  You can never know how much I love him, little
Tom.  You can never know.  (Rocks the cradle and sings a
lullaby — such as "Sleep, baby, sleep.  The large stars are
the sheep.") (Thoughtfully.)  If anything had happened to
him I would not wish to live.  But, thank Heaven, he has
been preserved.  Every day I have searched the list of
wounded and dead, but his name has not appeared.  And now he
is coming home. (Takes up the paper.)  Ah, there have been
many broken hearts, but mine has been spared. (Looks at the
paper.)  Yes, there will be many vacant places in the ranks. 
See, here is the list of those who have been wounded.  Yes;
so many familiar names. (Reading.) "John Harper."  Poor
Jack!  We used to be playmates (Reading.)  "Henry Carlisle." 
How his wife will miss him — poor woman!  And here are those
who have fallen.  (A pause, while she reads the names to
herself.)  Thank Heaven, there are but few I know among
them. (Utters a cry.)  Tom!  Oh, no, no, no!  Not Tom!
(Starts to her feet and puts her hand to her head
distractedly.)  It cannot be true!  It cannot be true!  I — I
must have been deceived.  I have been so afraid of reading
his name ever since he went away that now I imagine it to be
there. (Commences to open paper again, then stops.)  What if
it is true? (Chokingly.)  Then baby is all that is left to
me.  But, no, no; it cannot be. (Hastily opens the paper,
sees her husband's name, and after staring at it a few
moments, whispers intensely)  Tom! (Slowly raises the paper
to her lips and kisses the name.)  Tom! (With a far-away
took in her eyes — tearing the paper to pieces while she
talks.)  We were so happy together.  We loved one another so
devotedly.  I remember when we were married four
short years ago — four long, long years ago — everything
seemed so bright.  The future held only happiness.  Then
came the war.  The cruel war, that tore loved ones apart,
that murdered men and broke the hearts of women.  And now he
is dead!  Dead! and little Tom and I are left alone.
(Approaches cradle and stands beside it.)  (Thoughtfully.)
"If your child had no parents we could take him."  He would
have a good home then, and would never know what it is to be
hungry. (After a pause.) Yes, I will go away.  (To the
baby.) Then I shall be at rest and you will be happy.  They
will tell you how dearly I loved you, and you will learn to
care for my memory.  (Kneels beside the cradle and
supposedly kisses the baby.)  Good-bye, little Tom.  It is
for your sake I go.  Good-bye.  Good-bye.  (Tiptoes toward
the door. The orchestra begins to play a familiar military
march very softly, as though a band were approaching.  The
woman stops on the door's threshold and listens.)  Hark I
Tom's regiment!  It has returned and he is not with it. 
(Arousing from her stupor.  Vehemently.) Oh! why is
Heaven so cruel?  What have I done to deserve this blow?  I
cannot live without Tom.  I will end it all — here!  Now! 
(The music is growing louder and louder.) I will spring from
the window.  Yes; and die — and die!  (Rushes to the window.)
(The regiment by this time is supposed to be in the street
below.  The orchestra is loudly playing a lively march.  The
woman hastily opens the window, hesitates a moment, then
leans forward eagerly and utters a glad cry.) Tom!  Can it
be?  Yes, yes!  It is he!  He sees me!  He smiles and waves
his hand.  Tom!  (Runs down stage, laughing and crying
hysterically and bends over the cradle.)
Tom!  Tom!  Tom!