The Naturewoman by Upton Sinclair
[Scene shows a luxuriously furnished drawing-room. Double doors, centre, opening to hall and stairway. Grand piano at right, fireplace next to it, with large easy-chair in front. Centre table; windows left, and chairs.]

[At rise: ETHEL standing by table; a beautiful but rather frail girl of sixteen; opening a package containing photograph in frame.]

ETHEL. Oceana! Oceana! [She gazes at it in rapture.] Oh, I wonder if she'll be as good as she is beautiful! She must be! Oceana! [To REMSON, an old, white- haired family servant, who enters with flowers in vase.] No message from my brother yet?

REMSON. Nothing, Miss Ethel.

ETHEL. Look at this, Remson.

REMSON. [Takes photograph.] Is that your cousin, Miss Ethel?

ETHEL. That's she. Isn't she lovely?

REMSON. Yes, miss. Is that the way they dress in those parts?

ETHEL. The natives don't even wear that much, Remson.

REMSON. It must be right warm there, I fancy.

ETHEL. Oh, yes . . . they never know what cold weather is.

REMSON. What is the name of it, Miss Ethel?

ETHEL. Maukuri - it's in the South Seas.

REMSON. It seems like I've heard of cannibals in those parts, somewhere.

ETHEL, Yes, in some of the groups. But this is just one little island by itself . . . nothing else for a hundred miles and more.

REMSON. And she's lived there all this time, Miss Ethel?

ETHEL. Fifteen years, Remson.

REMSON. And no folks at all there?

ETHEL. Not since her father died.

REMSON. [Shakes his head.] Humph! She'd ought to be glad to get home, Miss Ethel.

ETHEL. She didn't seem to feel that way. [Takes book and seats herself by fireplace.] But we'll try to make her change her mind. Just think of it . . . she's been forty-six days on the steamer!

REMSON. Can it be possible, miss?

ETHEL. Wasn't that the street door just now, Remson?

REMSON. I thought so, Miss Ethel. [Moves to door.] Oh! Mrs. Masterson.

MRS. MASTERSON. [In doorway; a Boston Brahman, aged fifty, wearing street costume, black.] Any news yet, Remson?

REMSON. None, madam.

MRS. MASTERSON. Master Frederick is at the dock?

REMSON. Yes, madam.

DR. MASTERSON. [Enters; slightly younger than his wife, a dapper little man, bald and henpecked.] No news from the steamer, my dear?

MRS. MASTERSON. None.

REMSON. Anything further, madam?

MRS. MASTERSON. Nothing.

[Exit REMSON.]

DR. MASTERSON. It'll be too bad if Oceana has to spend this evening on the steamer.

MRS. MASTERSON. Have you taken to calling her by that ridiculous name also?

DR. MASTERSON. Surely she has a right to select her name!

MRS. MASTERSON. I was present when she was christened; and so were you, Quincy. For ME she will remain Anna Talbot until the day she dies.

DR. MASTERSON. Anna or Oceana . . . there's not much difference, it seems. [Takes paper and sits by window; they do not see ETHEL.] Weren't Letitia and Henry to be here?

MRS. MASTERSON. Letitia was . . . but she's never on time. There's the bell now. [Looks at photograph.] Humph! So Ethel's had it framed! I declare . . . people ought not to be shown a photograph like that . . . it's not decent.

DR. MASTERSON. My dear! It's the South Sea Islands!

MRS. MASTERSON. [Severely.] This is Back Bay. Oh! Letitia!

LETITIA. [Enters; aged about twenty-eight, prim and decorous, Patterned after her mother; black street costume, with furs.] No news from the steamer, it seems! Dear me, such weather!

MRS. MASTERSON. You didn't walk, I hope?

LETITIA. No, but even getting into the stores! I'm exhausted.

DR. MASTERSON. [Looking from paper.] Henry coming?

LETITIA. He said he might drop in. He's curious to see the lady.

DR. MASTERSON. Humph! No doubt!

LETITIA. Mother, I wish you'd try to do something with Henry. He's so restless and discontented . . . he's getting to be simply impossible.

MRS. MASTERSON. I'm going to talk to him to-day, my dear.

LETITIA. Fancy my going out and burying myself in the country! And he means it . . . he's at me all the time about it!

MRS. MASTERSON. Well, don't go, my dear!

LETITIA. Don't worry yourself . . . I've not the least intention of going. Such things as we modern women have to endure! Only fancy, he's got an idea he wants to be where he can work with his hands!

MRS. MASTERSON. Henry ought to have discovered these yearnings before he married one of the Mastersons. As my daughter, you have certain social obligations to fill . . . your friends have a claim upon you, quite as much as your husband.

LETITIA. He says he wants to take the bungalow and make it over . . . wants to plan it and work at it himself. And with me and the children sitting out on the mountain-top in the snow until he finishes, I suppose!

MRS. MASTERSON. Quincy, do you know anything about this whim of Henry's for a day-laborer's life?

DR. MASTERSON. My dear, Henry's a big, active man, and he wants something to do.

MRS. MASTERSON. But hasn't he his business?

DR. MASTERSON. I dare say there are things more thrilling to a man than commercial law-cases. And Henry's been thinking for himself . . . he says the law's a cheat.

MRS. MASTERSON. Yes, I know . . . I've heard all that. And here we are, just at this critical moment, when the girl is coming, and when he ought to be advising us about that will.

DR. MASTERSON. It seems to me, my dear, you've managed to choose your course without his aid. [A pause.] I hope we shan't have to get into any quarrel with Oceana.

MRS. MASTERSON. We shall not if _I_ can help it, Quincy.

LETITIA. We simply intend to be firm, father.

MRS. MASTERSON. We intend to make it clear that we are going to stand by our legal rights. With no hard feelings for her personally . . .

ETHEL. [Rising from chair.] Mother!

MRS. MASTERSON. Ethel!

ETHEL. Mother, this has gone just as far as it can go! I've felt all along that something like this was preparing.

MRS. MASTERSON. My dear . . .

ETHEL. Mother, this concerns me as much as it concerns any one of you. And I tell you, you have simply got to let me know about that will.

MRS. MASTERSON. My dear . . .

ETHEL. Do I understand that it is your intention to threaten to go to law, unless Oceana gives us a part of grandfather's property?

MRS. MASTERSON. Ethel, I refuse . . .

DR. MASTERSON. You might as well tell the child, Sophronia. It's perfectly certain, Ethel, that your grandfather was not of sound mind when he made the will.

ETHEL. It's perfectly certain that he hated you and mother and Aunt Letitia and me and Freddy . . . every one of us; and that he had hated us for years and years; and that he left his money to Oceana to spite us all.

MRS. MASTERSON. That's precisely it, Ethel . . .

ETHEL. And I, for one, knowing that he hated me, don't want his money. And what is more, I refuse to touch his money.

DR. MASTERSON. Not being of age, my dear, you can't . . .

ETHEL. I am near enough of age to possess my self-respect. And I shall refuse to touch one penny.

DR. MASTERSON. My child, there are a good many pennies in a half million dollars.

MRS. MASTERSON. And when you are of age, Ethel, you'll appreciate . .

ETHEL. I shall be of age two years from now, and then I shall return to Oceana every penny of grandfather's money that may have been gotten for me.

LETITIA. Ethel!

MRS. MASTERSON. It seems to me this is a strange way for a young girl to be speaking to her parents!

ETHEL. I can't help it, mother. I am meek and patient . . . I try to let you have your way with me in everything. But this is a matter of principle, and I can't let myself be sat on.

MRS. MASTERSON. Sat on! Is that your view of your mother's attitude towards you?

ETHEL. You know, perfectly well, mother; that it's impossible for anybody to preserve any individuality in contact with you . . . that as a matter of fact, neither father nor Letitia nor Freddy nor myself have preserved a shred of it. Grandfather said that to you himself, the last time you ever saw him . . . I know it, for I've heard father say it a hundred times.

DR. MASTERSON. Well!

MRS. MASTERSON. It seems to me there's more than a trace of individuality in this present outburst, Ethel.

ETHEL. Yes, but it's the first time, mother.

LETITIA. Some one is coming. [Turns to door.] Oh! Henry!

HENRY. [Enters; a handsome, powerfully-built man; smooth shaven, immaculate, reserved in manner.] Well, has the sea-witch arrived?

MRS. MASTERSON. Not yet.

DR. MASTERSON. Freddy's gone to meet her with the limousine.

HENRY. I see. And the steamer?

MRS. MASTERSON. It was to have docked two hours ago.

HENRY. Well, that means that I won't see her till tomorrow evening. I've got to run down to Providence to-night.

LETITIA. What's the matter?

HENRY. Nothing important . . . just a business matter that requires my presence. Make my apologies; and goodbye, my dear.

[Kisses LETITIA.]

LETITIA. Henry, I wish you'd wait a moment.

HENRY. What for, my dear?

LETITIA. Mother has something to say . . .

MRS. MASTERSON. I want to talk to you about this idea of going to the country in the winter-time.

HENRY. Oh! There's no use talking about that, Mrs. Masterson. I see I can't have my way, so there's no more to be said. I'm not the sort of man to sulk.

MRS. MASTERSON. But such an idea, Henry! For a delicate woman like Letitia . . .

HENRY. I know . . . I know. I'd have taken care of her . . . but that doesn't interest her. And, of course, I can't take the children away from her, and there's not much fun in the country alone. So what's the use? I give up . . . as I give up everything. Good-bye, all.

[Exit.]

LETITIA. I declare - such a trial! A husband who's lost his interest in life!

MRS. MASTERSON. It's that new cook of yours, Letitia.

LETITIA. Every cook is worse.

MRS. MASTERSON. What he needs is some liver-pills. Quincy, you should attend to it! [Rises.] Well, I'm going upstairs. You'll stay to dinner, Letitia?

LETITIA. Yes, I want to lie down for a while.

DR. MASTERSON. And I'll beat myself a game of billiards.

[Exit With LETITIA and MRS. MASTERSON.]

ETHEL. [Drops her book to floor, springs up and paces the room.] Oh! If only I might change places with Oceana! If I could get away to some South Sea island, and be my own mistress and live my own life. [Takes photograph.] Oceana! I'm wild to see you! I want to see you dancing. Your Sunrise Dance . . . and to your own music! [Begins to hum the Sunrise Dance.] Oceana! Oceana!

[A step in the hall, she turns.]

FREDDY. [Enters briskly; a college boy, about twenty-one, overgrown, narrow- chested, good-natured and slangy.] Ethel!

ETHEL. [Starts.] Freddy! Where's Oceana?

FREDDY. She won't get here till morning.

ETHEL. Oh, Freddy!

FREDDY. They can't dock the steamer to-night . . . there's some tangle at the pier.

ETHEL. Did you go and see?

FREDDY. I telephoned about it. I didn't want to wait in this blizzard.

ETHEL. I'm so sorry!

FREDDY. Me, too. But there's no help for it.

ETHEL. So long as she doesn't miss to-morrow night! Did I read you what she said about that, Freddy? [Takes letter from pocket.] "I'll pray for fair weather, so that I may get there to see the beautiful dancing. There is nothing in all the world that I love more . . . my whole being seems to flow into the dance. I send you the music of my Sunrise Dance, that father composed for me. You can learn it, and I'll do it for you. I don't know, of course; but father used to think that I was wonderful in it . . and he had known all the great dances in Europe. It was the last thing I heard him play, before he went out in the boat, and I saw him perish before my eyes." Don't you think that she writes beautifully, Freddy?

FREDDY. Yes; it's surprising.

ETHEL, Oh, yes. Her father was an extraordinary man, Henry says . . . a musician and a poet. They had books and everything, apparently. You'd think she's been living in Europe.

FREDDY. I see.

ETHEL. Listen to this: [Reads.] "About my name . . . I forgot to explain. You see, Anna sounds like England . . . or New England . . . and I am not the least like those places. Father used to see me, as a little tot, diving through the breakers, and floating out in the sea, with the snow-white frigate- birds flashing by overhead; and he said I was the very spirit of the island and the wild, lonely ocean. So he called me Oceana, and that's the name I've always borne."

FREDDY. It just fits my idea of her.

ETHEL. She goes on: "You mustn't be surprised at what I am. You may think it's dreadful . . . even wicked. But at least don't expect anything like you've ever known before. Fifteen years with only cocoa- palms and naked savages . . . the Boston varnish rubs off one. But I'm going to try to behave. I expect to feel quite at home . . . I have pictures of all of you, and a picture of the house . . . I even have father's keys, to let myself in with!"

FREDDY. Can you play her music, Ethel?

ETHEL. Play it? I could play it in my sleep. [Opens piano.] The Sunrise Dance! [She sits and plays.] Listen!

[She plunges into the ecstatic part of the music. FREDDY leans by the piano, watching her; she plays, more and more enthralled. The door opens softly.]

[OCEANA enters; a girl of twenty-two, superbly formed, dark-skinned, a picture of glowing health. She is clad in a short skirt and a rough sailor's reefer with cap to match; underneath this a knitted garment, tight-fitting and soft - no corsets. She carries two extremely heavy suitcases, and with no apparent effort. She sets these down and stands listening to the music, completely absorbed in it. There is the faintest suggestion of the Sunrise Dance in her attitude.

[OCEANA is trusting, and yet with power of reserve. Throughout the action, however vehemently she speaks, she seldom really grows angry; she does not take the game seriously enough. On the other hand her enjoyment, however keen, never becomes boisterous. Her actions proceed from a continual overflow of animal health. She is like a little child, in that she cannot remain physically still for very long at a time; she moves about the room like an animal in a cage. Her speech proceeds from an overwhelming interest in the truth, regardless of all personality. She never conceals anything, and she never represses anything.]

ETHEL. [Finishes the music, then turns, and leaps up.] Oceana!

FREDDY. [Turns.] Oceana!

OCEANA. Ethel! [Embraces her.] Oh, my dear! How glad I am to see you!

ETHEL. Oceana! But how did you get here?

OCEANA. I came on the steamer.

FREDDY. But it isn't docked

OCEANA. They took us to another dock.

ETHEL. [Holds her at arm's length.] Oh, how fine you are!

OCEANA. And you--you can play my father's music! I'm so glad!

ETHEL. You liked the way I played it?

OCEANA. I liked it! And so I know I shall like you! And I'm so happy about it--I wanted to like you!

ETHEL. But how big you are!

OCEANA. [Laughing.] Oh, that's the clothes. I got them in Rio. They're queer, I guess, but I only had a couple of hours. And this is Freddy! [They shake hands.] It's so good to be here!

FREDDY. How did you get from the dock?

OCEANA. I walked.

ETHEL. Walked all the way?

OCEANA. Of course . . . I enjoyed it.

ETHEL. But in the storm!

OCEANA. I didn't mind that. It's all new to me, you see. My dear, think of it . . . I've never seen snow before. I was fairly crazy.

[She pulls off the coat and throws it on one of the suitcases.]

ETHEL. I must tell mother. And Letitia! [Opens door arid calls.] Mother! Letitia! Oceana's here!

FREDDY. [Stoops to pick up the suitcases.] Why . . .

OCEANA. What is it?

FREDDY. [He moves them against the wall with a great effort.] You don't mean you CARRIED those!

OCEANA. Why, yes.

FREDDY. From the docks?

OCEANA. [Laughs.] Oh, dear me! I didn't mind that.

FREDDY. Well . . . I'll be blowed!

[He has fallen head over heels in love with her, and whenever he is in her presence he follows her about with his eyes, like one bewitched.]

OCEANA. You aren't strong as you ought to be! You stay too much in the house!

ETHEL. Here's mother!

OCEANA. Aunt Sophronia!

MRS. MASTERSON. [Enters.] My dear Anna! [Kisses her upon the cheek.] I am delighted to see you safe.

ETHEL. And Letitia!

OCEANA. Cousin Letitia!

LETITIA. [Enters.] My dear cousin! So glad you are here!

OCEANA. [Looking from one to the other, as they eye her critically.] Oh, are you really glad to see me? You must be, you know . . . for I've come so far. And you've no idea how homesick I've been.

MRS. MASTERSON. Homesick, my dear? For that wild place you left?

OCEANA. But Aunt Sophronia, that's my home! And it's God's own dream of beauty!

MRS. MASTERSON. Yes, my dear . . . I dare say . . .

OCEANA. Ah, you've never been there, or you wouldn't feel that way! Picture it as it is at this moment . . . the broad white beach . . . the sun setting and the clouds aflame . . . the great green breakers rolling in . . . the frigate- birds calling . . . the palm trees rustling in the wind! And you don't have to wrap yourself up in clothes . . . you don't have to shut yourself up in houses! You plunge through the surf, you dance upon the beach . . . naked . . .

MRS. MASTERSON. [Aghast.] My dear girl!

OCEANA. Oh, oh! That's so! I beg your pardon!

MRS. MASTERSON. [Coldly.] It will take you, a little while to get used to civilized ways . . .

OCEANA. Oh, no, no, no! I know about that . . . I know how it is. Father told me about Boston.

MRS. MASTERSON. My dear . . .

OCEANA. Don't worry about me. I'm really going to try to behave myself . . . in every way. I want to get the right sort of clothes, you know. I couldn't get them on my trip . . .

MRS. MASTERSON. It's just as well, my dear. You'd best have us attend to that. You will need mourning for quite a while, you understand.

OCEANA. Mourning!

MRS. MASTERSON. Yes . . . for your grandfather.

OCEANA. But, my dear Aunt Sophronia, I couldn't possibly wear mourning! No, no! I couldn't do that!

MRS. MASTERSON. [Astonished.] Why not?

OCEANA. In the first place, I never mourn.

MRS. MASTERSON. But your own grandfather, my dear!

OCEANA. But I never knew him. Aunt Sophronia . . . I never saw him in my life!

MRS. MASTERSON. Even so, my dear! Hasn't he left you all his fortune?

OCEANA. But am I supposed to mourn over that? Why, I'd naturally be happy about that!

LETITIA. Oceana!

OCEANA. But surely . . wouldn't you be happy about it?

MRS. MASTERSON. My child, one is not supposed to set so much store by mere money . . .

OCEANA. But Aunt Sophronia, money is power! And isn't anybody glad to have power? What else did I come here for?

MRS. MASTERSON. I had hoped you had come home for some other things . . . to see your relatives, for instance.

ETHEL. Here's father!

OCEANA. Uncle Quincy!

DR. MASTERSON. [Enters.] My dear girl! You have come! [Embraces her.] Why, what a picture you are! A very storm from the tropics ! My dear Oceana!

OCEANA. I'm so glad to get here.

DR. MASTERSON. Yes, indeed! I can believe it! And a strange experience it must have been . . . your first plunge into civilization!

OCEANA. Yes, Uncle Quincy! It's been horrible!

DR. MASTERSON. Horrible, my dear? In what way?

OCEANA. It's been almost too much for me. Really . . . I could understand how it might feel to be sick!

DR. MASTERSON. Why, what did you see?

OCEANA. Everything! It rushed over me, all at once! The people . . . their dreadful faces! And such noises and odors and sights!

DR. MASTERSON. I hadn't realized . . .

OCEANA. And then the saloons! Rows and rows of them! It is ghastly!

LETITIA. My dear cousin, mother and I contribute regularly to a temperance society.

OCEANA. But that hasn't helped, has it? I'm almost wild about such things--they were the real reason I came home, you know.

MRS. MASTERSON. How do you mean?

OCEANA. They had got to my island! They are turning it into a hell!

DR. MASTERSON. In what way?

OCEANA. Why, it's a long story. I didn't write . . . it would have taken too long. Two years ago there was a ship laid up . . . and the crew found, quite by accident, that our island rock is all phosphate; something very valuable . . . for fertilizer, it seems. So they bought land from the natives, and now there's a company, and a trading-post, and all that. And oh, my people are going all to pieces!

MRS. MASTERSON. The natives, you mean?

OCEANA. Yes . . . the people I have loved all my life. And I've tried so hard . . . I've pleaded with them, I've wept and prayed with them! But they're lost!

LETITIA. You mean rum?

OCEANA. I mean everything. Rum, and cocaine, and sugar, and canned food, and clothes, and missionaries . . . all civilization! And worse yet, Aunt Sophronia . . . ah, I can't bear to think of it!

MRS. MASTERSON. What?

OCEANA. You wouldn't let me tell you what. [In a low voice.] Imagine my people, my beautiful people, with the soft, brown skins and the big black eyes, and hair like the curtains of night. They are not savages, you understand . . . they are gentle and kindly. They ride the rushing breakers in their frail canoes, they fish and gather fruits in the forests, they dream in the soft, warm sunshine . . . they are happy, they are care-free, their whole life is a song. And they are trusting, hospitable . . . the wonderful white strangers come, and they take them into their homes, and open their hearts to them. And the strangers go away and leave them a ghastly disease, that rages like a fire in their palm-thatched cabins, that sweeps through their villages like a tornado. And the women's hair falls out . . . they wither up . . . they're old hags in a year or two. And the babies . . . I've helped bring them into the world . . . and they had no lips . . . their noses were gone! They were idiots . . . blind . . .

MRS. MASTERSON. [Wildly.] Anna Talbot! I must beg you to have a little discretion!

LETITIA. Why should we hear about these things, Oceana?

OCEANA. My dear, it comes from America. The ships came from here! There was one of them I saw . . . "The Mary Jane, of Boston, Mass."

MRS. MASTERSON. No doubt, among such low men . . . men of vile life . . . sailors . . .

OCEANA. No, Aunt Sophronia . . . you're mistaken! It's everywhere. Isn't it, Uncle Quincy? You're a doctor . . . YOU must know!

DR. MASTERSON. Why, to tell the truth . . .

OCEANA. TELL the truth! Am I not right?

FREDDY. Of course you're right!

MRS. MASTERSON. Freddy!

OCEANA. Ah! You know!

MRS. MASTERSON. This is outrageous!

OCEANA. You mean you don't teach your children about it? Why . . .

[She stares at them, perplexed.]

MRS. MASTERSON. You don't understand our ways, Anna . . .

OCEANA. No, no . . . I don't. I don't think I ever can. You'd let some man come and make love to Ethel . . . and you'd never warn her?

ETHEL. They warned me to turn my toes out when I walked, and not to eat fish with a knife.

MRS. MASTERSON. If this conversation is to go on, I insist that the children shall leave the room.

OCEANA. Oh, I'm awfully sorry, Aunt Sophronia! Why, I didn't mean any harm. It's all so real to me. [She gazes from one to the other, hoping for some sign of a thaw.] Just think . . . these were the people that I'd loved . . . that I'd grown up with all my life. I'd fished in their canoes, I'd hunted with them and basked on the beach with them. I'd watched the young men and girls dancing their love-dances in the moonlit glades . . . [She pauses again.] Oughtn't I to talk about THAT?

DR. MASTERSON. My dear girl . . .

OCEANA. [Stares at them; a sudden idea occurs to her.] Perhaps I ought to explain to you . . . you're no doubt wondering. I'm a virgin myself, you know.

MRS. MASTERSON. [Starting up.] OH!

LETITIA. Oceana!

OCEANA. But weren't you thinking of that?

MRS. MASTERSON. Why, of course not!

OCEANA. But Aunt Sophronia! You know you were!

MRS. MASTERSON. [Sputters.] Oh! OH!

OCEANA. You were thinking to yourself, this girl's been playing around on the beaches with savages . . . and what's been happening to her?

DR. MASTERSON. My dear niece, I'm afraid you'll have to take some account of our civilized prejudices. We simply don't say everything that we think.

OCEANA. [Springing up.] Oh, dear me! I'm so sorry ! I didn't mean to make you unhappy! I was going to be so good. I was going to try to conform to everything. Why, just think of it, Aunt Sophronia . . . in Rio I actually bought a pair of corsets. And I tried to wear them. I . . . Oceana! Around my waist! Think of it! [She looks for sympathy.] I couldn't stand them . . . I climbed to the topmast and threw them to the sharks. But now it seems that you all wear corsets on your minds and souls. [A pause.] Never mind . . . let's talk about something else. I'm getting restless. You see . . . I'm not used to being in a room . . . it seems like a box to me . . . I can hardly breathe. The air in here is dreadful . . . hadn't any of you noticed? [Silence. Apparently nobody had.] Would you mind if I opened a window?

MRS. MASTERSON. It is storming outside, Anna.

OCEANA. Yes, but one can exercise and keep warm. just a minute . . . please. [She flings up a window; a gale blows in.] Ah, feel that!

[MRS. MASTERSON, LETITIA and DR. MASTERSON draw away from the window.]

MRS. MASTERSON. This is simply outrageous!

LETITIA. It is beyond all words!

DR. MASTERSON. My dear, consider . . .

MRS. MASTERSON. I won't have that creature in my house a minute longer.

DR. MASTERSON. My dear, be reasonable!

LETITIA. REASONABLE?

DR. MASTERSON. Consider what is at stake!

MRS. MASTERSON. But what hope have we to get anything out of such a woman?

DR. MASTERSON. We have some hope, I'm sure. If we . . .

MRS. MASTERSON. Didn't you hear her say she'd come home for nothing but the money?

DR. MASTERSON. Yes . . . but at least she's honest enough to say it, Sophronia. And she's here as our guest . . . she wants to be friendly . . . don't let it come to an open break with her!

LETITIA. But how can we HELP it, father?

DR. MASTERSON. It's just a matter of letting her talk. And what harm will that do us?

MRS. MASTERSON. But we can't lock her up in the house. And can we introduce her to our friends? Tomorrow night, for instance!

DR. MASTERSON. We must manage it somehow. When we've once had an understanding with her, it won't take long to get the papers signed, and after that we won't care. Control yourself, Sophronia, I implore you! Don't let your prejudices ruin us!

ETHEL. [Steals to them, in agitation.] Mother, CAN'T you be good to her? You don't understand her at all.

MRS. MASTERSON. [Coldly.] Thank you, Ethel . . .

ETHEL. [To FREDDY, who joins them.] Can't you say something to them, Freddy? They treat her so badly.

FREDDY. They hate her, Ethel! They couldn't understand her.

[OCEANA takes deep breaths, expelling them in short, sharp puffs.]

LETITIA. What in the world are you doing?

OCEANA. That's one of the Yogi exercises. Haven't any of you studied the Vedantas?

LETITIA. We are all Episcopalians here, Oceana.

OCEANA. Oh, I see!

[She takes a deep breath and then pounds her chest like a gorilla.]

MRS. MASTERSON. And pray, what is THAT?

OCEANA. I'm just getting some of the civilization out of my lungs.

[A furious gale blows.]

MRS. MASTERSON. Really, my dear, we shall have to leave the room. We'll all catch our death of cold.

OCEANA. My dear Aunt Sophronia, nobody ever caught a cold from winter air. Colds come from over-eating and bad ventilation. [She closes the window.] However, there you are! [Eagerly.] Now, let's have something beautiful - so that I can forget my blunders. Let's have some music. Will you play for me, Cousin Letitia?

LETITIA. I don't play, my dear.

OCEANA. What? Why, father told me you played all the time!

LETITIA. That was before my marriage.

OCEANA. Oh, I see! [Laughs.] The music has accomplished its purpose! [Stops, alarmed.] Oh! I've done it again! [Goes to LETITIA.] My dear cousin, believe me, I meant no offense. I'm never personal. I was simply formulating a principle of sociology!

MRS. MASTERSON. You have strange ways, my dear niece.

DR. MASTERSON. Are you always so direct, so ruthless?

OCEANA. That's the word, isn't it? That's what father taught me. Never to think about personalities . . . to go after the truth! He used to quote that saying of Nietzsche's: "To hunger after knowledge as the lion for his food!"

MRS. MASTERSON. Oh, you read Nietzsche, do you? How could you get such books?

OCEANA. We had a government steamer from New Zealand three times a year, you know. That brought our mail.

MRS. MASTERSON. And your father permitted you to read these improper things?

OCEANA. My father taught me to face the facts of my being. My father was a fighter, you know.

MRS. MASTERSON. [Grimly.] Yes, I knew that.

OCEANA. Life had hurt him. Some day you must tell me about it . . . what it was that happened to him here in Boston. He never would talk about it, but I've often wondered. It must have been my mother. What did she do to him before she died? [She pauses, expecting an answer.] Was it that she was just conventional like you? [She pauses again.] It must have been something dreadful . . . he felt so keenly about it. He burned it into my very soul . . . his fear of civilization. And here I am . . . right in the midst of it . . . I'm letting it get its claws into me! I'm wearing its clothes . . . [She tears at them.] I'm breathing its air! I don't believe I can stand it! [She paces the room restlessly.] My soul is suffocating, as well as my body. I must have something to remind me of the sky, and the open sea, and the great spaces. I must go back again to my home, to my island! [Stretches out her arms to them appealingly.] Ah, can't some of you understand about it? Can't some of you take pity on me? It's so strange to me . . . so different from everything I've been used to! Aunt Sophronia!

MRS. MASTERSON. [Takes a step reluctantly.] My dear!

ETHEL. [Springing forward.] No! No! They don't understand! They don't really care.

MRS. MASTERSON. Ethel!

OCEANA. But you! Ethel!

ETHEL. [Rushes and flings herself at OCEANA'S feet, clutching her dress.] Take me with you! Take me away to your island!

OCEANA. [Turning to FREDDY.] And you . . . won't you be my friend?

FREDDY. [Goes to her.] I will! [She holds out her hand to him; he hesitates, gazing at her awe-stricken.] May I . . . may I take your hand?

OCEANA. Why certainly!

FREDDY. [With fervor.] Oceana!

[CURTAIN]
 
 
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