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POKER!
Time--Present
Place--New York
Cast of characters--
Nunkie
Too-Sweet
Peckerwood
Black Baby
Sack Daddy
Tush Hawg
Aunt Dilsey
SCENE--
A shabby front room in a shotgun house.
A door covered by dingy portieres upstage C. Small panel
window in side Wall L. Plain centre table with chairs drawn up
about it. Gaudy calendars on wall. Battered piano against wall
R. Kerosene lamp with reflector against wall on either side of
room.
At rise of curtain NUNKIE is at piano playing.... Others at
table with small stacks of chips before each man. TUSH HAWG is
seated at table so that he faces audience. He is expertly
riffing the cards ... looks over his shoulder and speaks to
NUNKIE.
TUSH HAWG
Come on here, Nunkie--and take a hand! You're holding up the game. You
been woofin' round here about the poker you can play--now do it!
NUNKIE
Yeah, I plays poker. I plays the piano and Gawd knows I plays the devil.
I'm Uncle Bob with a wooden leg!*[Handwritten: Last sentence crossed out
in pencil in manuscript.]
BLACK BABY
Aw, you can be had! Come on and get in the game! My
britches is cryin' for your money! Come on, don't give
the healer no trouble!*[Handwritten: last sentence crossed out in pencil]
NUNKIE
Soon as I play the deck I'm comin' and take you alls money! Don' rush
me.
Ace means the first time that I met you
Duece means there was nobody there but us two
Trey means the third party--Charlie was his name
Four spot means the fourth time you tried that same old game--
Five spot means five years you played me for a clown
Six spot means six feet of earth when the deal goes down
Now I'm holding the seven spot for each day of the week
Eight means eight hours that she Sheba-ed with your Sheik--
Nine spot means nine hours that I work hard every day--
Ten spot means tenth of every month I brought you home my pay--
The Jack is three-card Charlie who played me for a goat
The Queen, that's my pretty Mama, also trying to cut my throat--
The King stands for Sweet Papa Nunkie and he's goin' to wear the crown,
So be careful you all ain't broke when the deal goes down!
(He laughs--X'es to table, bringing
piano stool for seat)
TUSH HAWG
Aw now, brother, two dollars for your seat before you try to sit in this
game.
NUNKIE
(Laughs sheepishly--puts money
down--TUSH HAWG pushes stack of chips
toward him. Bus.)
I didn't put it down because I knew you all goin' to be puttin' it right
back in my pocket.
BECKERWOOD
Aw, Y'all go ahead and play.
(to TUSH HAWG)
Deal!
(TUSH HAWG begins to deal for draw
poker. The game gets tense. SACK
DADDY is first man at TUSH's left--he
throws back three cards and is dealt
three more)
SACK DADDY
My luck sure is rotten! My gal must be cheatin' on me. I ain't had a
pair since John Henry had a hammer!
BLACK BABY
(Drawing three new cards)
You might be fooling the rest with the cryin' you're doin' but I'm
squattin' for you! You're cryin' worse than cryin' Emma!
TOO-SWEET
(Studying his three new cards)
(Sings)
When yo' cards gets lucky, oh Partner, you oughter be in a rollin' game.
*[Handwritten: get you foot offa my chair etc]
AUNT DILSEY
(Enters through portieres--stands and
looks disapprovingly)
You all oughter be ashamed of yourself, gamblin' and carryin' on like
this!
BLACK BABY
Aw, this ain't no harm, Aunt Dilsey! You go on back to bed and git your
night's rest.
AUNT DILSEY
No harm! I know all about these no-harm sins! If you don't stop this
card playin', all of you all goin' to die and go to Hell.
(Shakes warning finger--exits through
portieres--while she is talking the
men have been hiding cards out of
their hands and pulling aces out of
sleeves and vest pockets and
shoes--it is done quickly, one does
not see the other do it)
NUNKIE
(Shoving a chip forward)
A dollar!
SACK DADDY
Raise you two!
BLACK BABY
I don't like to strain with nobody but it's goin' to cost you five. Come
on, you shag-nags! This hand I got is enough to pull a country man into
town. *[Handwritten: Last sentence crossed through in pencil.]
TOO-SWEET
You all act like you're spuddin'! Bet some money! Put your money where
your mouth is *[Handwritten: els my fist where yo mouf is.]
TUSH HAWG
Twenty-five dollars to keep my company! Dog-gone, I'm spreadin' my
knots!
SACK DADDY
And I bet you a fat man I'll take your money--I call you.
(Turns up his cards--he has four aces
and king)
TUSH HAWG
(showing his cards)
Youse a liar! I ain't dealt you no aces. Don't try to carry the Pam-Pam
to me 'cause I'll gently chain-gang for you!
SACK DADDY
Oh yeah! I ain't goin' to fit no jail for you and nobody else. I'm to
get me a green club and season it over your head. Then I'll give my case
to Miss Bush and let Mother Green stand my bond! I got deal them aces!
NUNKIE
That's a lie! Both of you is lyin'! Lyin' like the cross-ties from New
York to Key West! How can you all hold aces when I got four? Somebody is
goin' to West hell before midnight!
BECKERWOOD
Don't you woof at Tush Hawg. If you do I'm goin' to bust hell wide open
with a man!
BLACK BABY
(Pulls out razor--Bus.)
My chop-axe tells me I got the only clean aces they is on this table!
Before I'll leave you all rob me outa my money, I'm goin' to die it off!
TOO-SWEET
I promised the devil one man and I'm goin' to give him five!
(Draws gun)
TUSH HAWG
Don't draw your bosom on me! God sent me a pistol and I'm goin' to send
him a man!
(FIRES. Bus. for all)
AUNT DILSEY
(Enters after shooting bus. Stands.
Bus. drops to chair)
They wouldn't lissen--
(Looks men over--Bus.)
It sure is goin' to be a whole lot tougher in hell now!
CURTAIN
DE TURKEY AND DE LAW
A COMEDY IN THREE ACTS
by
ZORA HURSTON
CAST
Jim Weston A young man and the town bully (A Methodist)
Dave Carter The town's best hunter and fisherman (Baptist)
Joe Clarke The Mayor, Postmaster, storekeeper
Daisy Blunt The town vamp
Lum Boger The Marshall
Walter Thomas A villager (Methodist)
Lige Moseley A villager (Methodist)
Joe Lindsay A villager (Baptist)
Della Lewis A villager (Baptist)
Tod Hambo A villager (Baptist)
Lucy Taylor A villager (Methodist)
Rev. Singletary (Baptist)
Rev. Simms (Methodist)
Villagers, children, dogs.
ACT I
SETTING: A Negro village in Florida in our own time. All action from
viewpoint of an actor facing audience.
PLACE: Joe Clarke's store porch in the village. A frame building with
a false front. A low porch with two steps up. Door in center of porch.
A window on each side of the door. A bench on each side of the porch.
Axhandles, hoes and shovels, etc. are displayed leaning against the
wall. Exits right and left. Street is unpaved. Grass and weeds growing
all over.
TIME: It is late afternoon on a Saturday in summer.
Before the curtain rises the voices of children are heard, boisterous
at play. Shouts and laughter.
VOICE OF ONE BOY
Naw, I don't want to play wringing no dish rag! We gointer play chick
mah chick mah craney crow.
GIRL'S VOICE
Yeah, less play dat, and I'm gointer to be de hen.
BOY'S VOICE
And I'm gointer be de hawk. Lemme git myself a stick to mark wid. (The
curtain rises slowly. As it goes up the game is being organized. The
boy who is the hawk is squatting center stage in the street before the
store with a short twig in his hand. The largest girl is lining up the
other children behind her.)
THE MOTHER HEN
(looking back over her flock) Y'all ketch holt of one 'nother's
clothes so de hauk can't git yuh. (They do.) Y'all straight now?
CHORUS
Yeah. (The march around the hawk commences.)
HEN AND CHICKS
Chick mah chick mah craney crow
Went to de well to wash my toe
When I come back my chick was gone.
What time ole witch?
HAWK
(making a tally on the ground) One!
HEN AND CHICKS
Chick mah chick etc.--(While this is going on Walter Thomas from the
store door eating peanuts from a bag appears and seats himself on the
porch beside the steps.)
HAWK
(Scoring again) Two!
(Enter a little girl right. She trots up to
the big girl.)
LITTLE GIRL
(officiously) Titter, mama say if you don't come on wid dat soap she
gointer wear you out.
HEN AND CHICKS
Chick mah chick etc. (While this is being sung, enter Joe Lindsay and
seats himself on right bench. He lights his pipe. The little girl
stands b by the fence rubbing her leg with her foot.
HAWK
(scoring) Three!
LITTLE GIRL
(insistent) Titter, titter! Mama say to tell you to come on home wid
dat soap and rake up dat yard. I bet she gointer beat you good.
BIG GIRL
(angrily) Aw naw, mama ain't sent you after me, nothin' of de kind!
Gwan home and leave me alone.
LITTLE GIRL
You better come on! I'm gointer tell mama how 'omanish you actin
cause you in front of dese boys.
BIG GIRL
(makes a threatenin' gesture) Aw don't be so fast and showin' off in
company. Ack lak you ain't got no sense!
LITTLE GIRL
(starts to cry) Dat's all right. I'm going home and tell mama you down
here playing wid boys and she sho gointer whup you good, too. I'm
gointer tell her you called me a fool too, now. (She walks off, wiping
her eyes and nose with the back of her hand) Yeah, I'm goin' tell her!
Jus' showin' off in front of ole John Wesley Taylor. I'm going to tell
her too, now.
BIG GIRL
(flounces her skirt) Tell her! Tell her! Turn her up and smell her!
(Game resumed) Chick mah chick etc.
HAWK
Four! (He arises and imitates a hawk flying and trying to catch a
chicken. Calling in a high voice.) Chickie!!
HEN
(Flapping her wings to protect her young) My chickens' sleep.
HAWK
Chickie!!
HEN
My chickens' sleep.
HAWK
I shall have a chick.
HEN
You shan't have a chick.
HAWK
I'm going home. (flies off)
HEN
There's de road.
HAWK
I'm comin' back.
(During this dialog the hawk is feinting and darting in his efforts to
catch a chicken and the chickens are dancing defensively.)
HEN
Don't keer if you do.
HAWK
My pot's a boiling.
HEN
Let it boil.
HAWK
My guts a growling
HEN
Let 'em growl.
HAWK
I must have a chick.
HEN
You shan't have nairn.
HAWK
My mama's sick.
HEN
Let her die.
HAWK
Chickie!!
HEN
My chicken's sleep.
(Hawk darts quickly around the hen and grabs a chicken and leads him
off and places the captive on his knees at the store porch. After a
brief bit of dancing he catches another, then a third who is a chubby
little boy. The little boy begins to cry.)
LITTLE BOY
I ain't gointer play cause you hurt me.
HAWK
Aw, naw, I din't hurt you.
LITTLE BOY
Yeah you did too. You pecked me right here. (points to top of his
head)
HAWK
Well if you so touchous you got to cry every time anybody look at you,
you can't play wid us.
LITTLE BOY
(smothering sobs) I ain't cryin'. (He is placed with the other
captives. Hawk returns to game.)
HAWK
Chickie.
HEN
My chickens sleep!
VOICE FROM A DISTANCE
Titter! You Titter!!!
BIG GIRL
Yessum
VOICE
If you don't come here wid dat soap you better!
BIG GIRL
(shakes herself poutingly, half sobs) Soon's I git grown I'm gointer
run away. Everytime a person gits to havin' fun, it's "come here,
Titter and rake de yard." She don't never make Bubber do nothin. (She
exits into the store.)
HAWK
Now we ain't got no hen.
ALL THE GIRLS
(in a clamor) I'll be de mama hen! Lemme be it! (Enter Hambo left and
stands looking at the children.)
HAMBO
Can't dese young uns keep up a powerful racket, Joe?
LINDSAY
They sho kin. They kin git round so vi'grous when they whoopin and
hollerin and rompin and racin, but just put 'em to work now and you
kin count dead lice fallin' off of 'em.
(Enter Tillie from the store with the soap. Hambo pulls out a plug of
tobacco from his hip pocket and bites a chunk from it.)
HAMBO
De way dese chillun is dese days is,--eat? Yes! Squall and holler?
Yes! Kick out shoes? Yes! Work? No!!
LINDSAY
You sho is tellin' de truth. Now look at dese! I'll bet everyone of
'em's mammies sent 'em to de store an' they out here frollickin'. If
one of 'em was mine, I'd whup 'em till they couldn't set down. (to the
children) Shet up dat racket and gwan home! (The children pay no
attention and the game gets hotter.)
DISTANT VOICE
(off stage) You Tit-ter!! You Tit-Ter!!
WALTER
Titter, don't you hear yo' ma callin' you?
ESSIE
Yessuh, I mean naw suh.
LINDSAY
How come you can't answer, then? Lawd knows de folks just ruins
chilluns dese days. Deys skeered tuh whup 'em right. Den before they
gits twenty de gals done come up wid somethin' in dey arms an' de boys
on de chain gang. If you don't whup 'em, they'll whip you.
HAMBO
Dat sho is whut de Lawd loves. When I wuz a boy they _raised_ chillen
then. Now they lets 'em do as they please. There ain't no real
chestizing no more. They takes a lil tee-ninchy switch and tickles em.
No wonder de world is in sich uh mess.
VOICE OFF STAGE
You Tit-ter!! Aw Titter!!
ESSIE
(stops to listen) Yessum!!
VOICE OFF STAGE
If you don't come here, you better!
ESSIE
Yessum! (to her playmates) Aw shucks! I got to go home. (She exits
right, walking sullenly. The game has stopped.)
LINDSAY
(pointing at Essie) You see dat gal shakin' herself at her mammy? De
sassy lil binch needs her guts stomped out. (to Essie) Run! I'm comin'
on down there an' tell yo' ma how 'omanish you is, shakin' yo'self at
grown folks. (Essie walks slower and shakes her skirt contemptously.
Lindsay jumps to his feet as if to pursue her.) You must smell
yo'self! (Essie exits.) Now de rest of you haitians scatter way from
in front dis store. Dis ain't no place for chillen, nohow. (gesture of
shooing) Gwan! Thin out! Every time a grownperson open they mouf y'all
right dere to gaze down they throat. Git! (The children exit sullenly
right. In the silence that follows the cracking of Walter's peanut
shells can be heard very plainly.)
HAMBO
Walter, God a' mighty! You better quit eatin' em ground peas de way
you do. You gointer die wid de colic.
LINDSAY
Aw, taint gointer hurt him. I don't b'lieve uh cord uh wood would lay
heavy on Walter's belly. He kin eat mo' penders than Brazzle's mule.
WALTER
(laughing) Aw naw, don't throw me in wid dat mule. He could eat up
camp-meetin, back off scociation and drink Jurdan dry.
LINDSAY
And still stay so po' till he wuzn't nothin atall but a mule frame.
(Enter Lige Moseley right) Taint never been no mule in de world lak
dat ole yaller mule since Jonah went to joppy.
(Lige seats himself on the floor on the other side of the steps. Pulls
out a bone toothpick and begins to pick his teeth)
LIGE
Y'all still talkin bout Brazzle's ole useter-be mule?
HAMBO
Yeah. Memeber dat time Brazzle hitched him to de plow and took him to
Eshleman's new ground?
LIGE
And he laid down before he'd plow a lick. Sho I do! But who ever seen
him work? All you ever did see was him and Brazzle fightin up and down
de furrows. (all laugh) He was so mean he would even try to kick you
if you went in his stall to carry him some corn.
WALTER
Nothin but pure concentrated meanness stuffed into uh mule hide. Thass
de reason he wouldn't git fat--just too mean.
LIGE
Sho was skinny now. You could use his ribs for a washboard and hang de
clothes up on his hips to dry. (all laugh)
HAMBO
Lige, you kin lie [Note: "like" crossed out] lak cross ties [Note
inserted text: from Jacksonville to Key West.]. But layin all sides to
jokes, when they told me dat mule was dead, uh just took and knocked
off from work to see him drug out lak all de rest of de folks, and
folkses dat mule wuz too contrary to lay down on his side and die. He
laid on his raw-boney back wid his foots stickin straight up in de air
lak he wuz fightin something.
LINDSAY
He wuz--bet he fought ole death lak a natural man. Ah seen his bones
yistiddy, out dere on de edge of de cypress swamp. De buzzards done
picked em clean and de elements done bleached em.
LIGE
Everybody went to dat draggin out. Even Joe Clarke shet up his store
dat mornin and went (turns his head and calls into the store) didn't
you, Mr. Clarke?
CLARKE'S VOICE
Didn't I whut? (enters and stands in door)
LIGE
Shet up yo' store and go to de draggin out of Brazzle's ole mule.
CLARKE
I, God, Yeah. It was worth it. (sees Hambo) I didn't know you was out
here. Lemme beat you uh game of checkers.
HAMBO
Lissen at de ole tush hawg! Well, go git de board, and lemme beat you
a pair of games befo' de mail gits in.
CLARKE
(to the others) Beat old me! (to Hambo) Come on here, youse my fish.
(calls into store) Mattie bring me dat checker-board and de checkers!
(to men on porch) You got to talk to wimmen-folks lak dat--tell 'em
every lil' thing-do she'd come rackin out here wid de board by itself.
(Enter Mrs. Clarke with homemade checker-board and coffee can
containing the much-used checkers. Clarke sits on a keg and faces
Hambo. They put the board on their knees and pour out the checkers)
HAMBO
You want black or red?
CLARKE
Oh, I don't keer which--I'm gointer beat you anyhow. You take de
black. (they arrange them. The others get near to look on. Hambo sits
looking at the board without moving.)
HAMBO
Who's first move?
CLARKE
Black folks always go to work first. Move! (Hambo moves and the same
proceeds with the spectators very interested. Enter Lum Boger [Note:
Handwritten correction: Bailey] right and joins the spectators. A
woman enters left with a market basket and goes on in the store. The
checkers click on the board. A girl about twelve enters right and goes
into the store and comes out with a stick of peppermint candy.
WALTER
Naw you don't Hambo!--Don't you go in dere! Dats a trap--(pointing)
come right here and you got him.
LIGE
Back dat man up (pointing) Hambo do he'll git et up.
(there is the noise of the checkers for a half minute then a general
shout of triumph)
SPECTATORS
You got him now, Hambo! Clarke, he's sho got you.
CLARKE
(Chagrined) Aw, he aint done nothin! Jes' watch ME.
HAMBO
(Jeering) Yeah, gwan move! Ha! Ha! go head and move.
SPECTATORS
Aw, he got you, Bro. Mayor--might as well give up. He got you in de
Louisville loop.
CLARKE
Give up what? He can't beat me? (peeved) de rest of y'all git from
over me, whoopin and hollerin! I God, a man can't hear his ears.
(The men fall back revealing the players clearly)
HAMBO
Aw, neb mind bout them, Joe, go head and move. You aint got but one
move to make nohow--go head on and take it.
CLARKE
(moving a checker) Aw, here.
HAMBO
(triumphant) Now! watch me boys whut Ahm gonna do to him. Ahm gonna
laff in notes, while Ah work on him. (he lifts a checker high in the
air preparatory to the jump, laughing to the scale and counting each
checker he jumps out loud) Do, sol, fa, me, la! One! (jumps a checker)
la, sol, fa, me, do! Two! (jumps another) Do, re, fa, me, do, Three!
Me, re, la, so, fa! Four! (the crowd is roaring with laughter) Sol,
fa, me, la, sol, do! Five! Ha! Ha! boys I got [Note: "the" x-ed out]
de ole tush hawg! I got him in de go-long. (He slaps his leg and
accidently knocks the board off his knee and spills the checkers.)
CLARKE
Too bad you done dat, Hambo, cause Ah was gointer beat you at dat (he
rises and starts towards the door of the store as the crowd roars in
laughter)
HAMBO
You mean you was gointer beat me to de door, not a game Of checkers.
Ah done run de ole coon in his hole.
LIGE
Well, Hambo, you done got to be so hard at checkers, come on less see
whut you can do wid de cards. (He pulls out a soiled deck from his
coat pocket and moves toward the bench at the left of the porch) You
take Lum and me and Walter will wear you out.
HAMBO
You know I don't play no cards.
LUM
We aint playin for no money, just a lil Florida flip.
HAMBO
Y'all can't play no Florida flip. 'Fore Ah joined de church there
wasn't a man in de state could beat me wid de cards. But Ahm a deacon
now, in Macedonia Baptist--Ah don't bother wid de cards no mo". (He
and Joe Lindsay go inside store)
LIGE
Well, come on Lum. Walter, git yo'self a partner.
WALTER
(Looking about) Taint nobody to git (looks off right) Here come Dave
Carter.
LIGE
You can't do nothin wid him dese days. He useter choose a game of
cards when he wasn't out huntin, but now when he ain't out huntin
varmints he's huntin' Daisy Blunt. (Enter Dave right with a shot-gun
slung over his shoulder.)
WALTER
Come on, fish, lemme bend a five-up over yo' head. You looks just like
my meat.
DAVE
Ahm on mah way to kill me a turkey gobbler, but if you and Lum thinks
y'all's tush hawgs Ah'll stop long enough to take you down a
button-hole lower. (He sets his gun down and finds a seat and draws it
up to the card table)
WALTER
Naw, Dave, we aint going to fool wid no button-holes we gointer tear
off de whole piece dat de button-holes is in. (They all get set) All
right boys, turn it on and let de bad luck happen.
LIGE
(Probbing the deck) My deal.
WALTER
Watch yo'self Dave, don't get to worryin bout Daisy and let 'em ketch
yo' jack.
LUM
(Winking) What you reckon he gointer be worryin' bout Daisy for? Dot's
Jim's gal.
DAVE
Air Lawd, a heap sees but a few knows. Deal de cards man--you
shufflin' a mighty lot.
WALTER
Sho is--must be tryin' to carry de cut to us.
LIGE
Aw, we ain't gonna cheat you, we gonna beat you. (He slams down the
cards for Dave to cut) Wanna cut 'em?
DAVE
Nope. Taint no use cuttin' a rabbit out when you kin twist him out.
Deal 'em! (Lige deals and turns up Jack of spades.)
WALTER
Yee-ee! Did you snatch dat Jack?
LIGE
Man, you know I ain't snatched no Jack. Whut you doin'?
WALTER
I'm beggin!
LIGE
Go ahead and tell 'em I sent you.
WALTER
Play just like ahm in New York, partner. (scratches his head) We
oughter try to ketch dat Jack.
LIGE
Stick out yo' hand an' you'll draw back a nub.
WALTER
Whut you want me to play for you, partner?
DAVE
Play me a baby diamond.
(Walter plays, then Lum, then Dave)
LUM
(Triumphant) Looka pardner, they doin all dat woofin on uh
queen--sendin' women to do uh man's work. Watch me stomp her wid mah
king (He slams his card down and collects the trick.) Now come un
under dis ace! (They all play and he collects the trick.) Now whut you
want me to play for you, pardner?
LIGE
How many times you seen de deck.
LUM
Twice
LIGE
Pull off wid yo' king.
(Lum plays the king of spades. All the others play.)
Look at ole low pardner. Ah knowed ah wuz gointer ketch him! Come
right back at 'em.
LUM
(stands up and slams down the ace) Pack up, pardner. Ahm playin' mah
knots, now all play now. Ho! Ho! Dere goes de queen'. De Jack's a
gentleman! (Lige takes the Jack and sticks it up on his forehead in
braggadocia.) Here comes de ten spot, pardner, ahm dumpin to yuh!
LIGE
(as he plays the Jack) Everybody git up off it and dump. High, low,
Jack, game and gone from de first four.
WALTER
Gimme dem cards! Y'all carried de cub to us dat time. (riffles the
cards elaborately) but de deal is in de high, tall house now. Dis is
Booker T Washington spreadin his mess. (offers cards to Lige) Cut?
LIGE
Yeah, cut 'em and shoot 'em. I'd cut behind mah ma. (He cuts and
Walter deals.)
WALTER
Well, whut sayin'?
LUM
I'm beggin.
WALTER
Get up off yo' knees. Youse dat one.
LIGE
Walter, you sho stacked dese cards.
WALTER
Aw, stop cryin' and play, man. Youse too old to be hollerin'
titty-mama.
LUM
Dis ain't no hand, dis is a foot. What you want me to play for you
partner?
LIGE
Play yo' own hand partner--I ain't nobody. Lead yo' bosses. (He leads
the ace of clubs. Play goes round to dealer and Walter takes the card
off the deck and slams it down.)
WALTER
Get up ol' deuce of diamonds and gallop off wid yo' load. Pardner, how
many times you seen de deck?
DAVE
(Two times--(they make signals.)
WALTER
Watch dis ol' queen. Less go! (He begins to sing--Dave joins in.) When
yo' card gits lucky, oh pardner, you oughter be in a rollin' game. (He
speaks.) Ha! Ha! Wash day and no soap! (He sticks the Jack upon his
forehead. He stands up and sings again.) Ahm goin' to de 'Bama Lawd.
Pardner don't want no change. (He collects that trick and plays again.
Dave also stands.)
DAVE
Here come de man from de White House--ol' king of diamonds. (Sings,
all join.) Ahm goin' back to de Bama, Lawd. Pardner won't be worried
wid you. (He collects the trick.) Never had no trouble, Lour pardner,
till I stopped by here.
(They all stand hilariously slam down their cards.
WALTER
Aw, wese just too hard for you boys--we eats our dinner out de
blacksmith shop. Y'all can't bully dis game. (He solemnly reaches over
and takes Dave's hand.)
DAVE
(to Walter) Mr. Hoover, you sho is a noble president. We done stuck
dese shad-moufs full of cobs. They skeered to play us any mo'.
LIGE
Who skeered? Y'all jus' playin ketch up nohow. Git back down and lemme
wrap uh five-up round yo' neck.
DAVE
(looking off right) Squat dat rabbit an' less jump another one. Here
come Daisy.
WALTER
Aw Lord, you ain't no mo' good now. But Ah don't blame you, Dave, she
looks warm.
(Enter Daisy right with a scarlet hibiscus over each ear and smiling
broadly.)
LIGE
(jumps down and takes Daisy by the arm) Come on up here, Daisy and
ease Dave's pain. He's so crazy 'bout you his heart 'bout to burn a
hole in his shirt. (She steps up on the porch)
DAVE
(Bashfully) Aw, y'all gwan. Ah kin talk.
DAISY
(Arms akimbo, impudently) Oh kin you? (She gets up close to Dave)
DAVE
(Pleased) You better git way from me fore Jim come long.
DAISY
(Coquettishly) Ain't you man enough to cover de ground you stand
on?
DAVE
Oh, Ah can back my crap! Don't worry 'bout me. Where you headed for?
DAISY
Where _you_ goin? (Audaciously)
DAVE
Out by de cypress swamp to kill us uh turkey. Its uh great big ole
gobbler--been slurring me fer six months. Ahm gointer git him today
for you, and yo' mama gointer cook him.
DAISY
Ah sho would love the ham of turkey.
DAVE
(Patting his gun barrel) Well me an' ole Hannah sho gointer git you
one. Look here, Daisy, will you choose uh bag of ground peas?
DAISY
I jus love goobers
DAVE
(Sticking out his right elbow) You lak chicken?
DAISY
Yeah
DAVE
Take uh wing. (She locks arms with him and they strut inside the
store.)
LIGE
Ah blieve dat fool is got some gumption. Jim Weston better watch out.
WALTER
Oh I ain't never figgered Dave was no fool. He's uh bottom fish. Jim
talks all de time but Dave will run him uh hot--here he come now.
(Looks off left. All look the same way.)
LUM
Lawd, don't he look mean? (She chuckles) Ah bet he know Daisy's here
wid Dave. Ah wouldn't take nothin' for dis.
(Enter Jim Weston left with a guitar looking very glum. He stops
beside the step for a moment. Takes off his hat and fans with it.)
JIM
Howdy do, folks.
ALL
Howdy do, Jim.
JIM
Don't do all they say. (He sees the gun leaning against the rail) Who
gun dat? (Points at the gun)
LIGE
You know so well whose gun dat is. Ah jus' heard him say he's goin out
to git his gal uh ham of a turkey gobbler out round de cypress swamp.
He's inside now treatin her to penders and candy. (He winks at the
others and they wink back)
WALTER
(Turns and calls into the store) Say, Dave! Don't try to keep Daisy in
dere all day. Her feller out here waitin to scorch her home.
DAVE (from inside store)
Let him come git her if she want him.
LIGE
Umph! dere now, de mule done kicked Rucker! (Calls inside to Dave) I
hear you crowin, rooster. I know yo' nest aint far.
HAMBO
(From inside store) Yeah, dis rooster must know something--he's gittin
plenty grit in his craw.
(General laughter)
(There is a gay burst of laughter from inside the store. In a moment
Dave enters from the store with Daisy on his left arm. With his right
he is stuffing shells into his pocket. The air is tense. Lindsay,
Hambo and Joe Clarke all enter behind the couple)
DAVE
(Releases Daisy and steps to the edge of the porch right in front of
Jim and looks up at the sky) Well, sun's gettin low--better git on out
to de swamp and git dat gobbler. (He turns and picks up de gun and
breaks it)
JIM
Lo Daisy. (Sullenly)
DAISY
(Brightly) Hello Jimmy (She is eating peanuts) Ain't Dave smart? He's
gonna kill me uh turkey an' ah kin eat all ah wants.
JIM
He aint de onliest person kin shoot round here.
LIGE
Yeah, but he's best marksman just de same. Taint no use talkin, Jim.
You can't buck Dave in de woods. But you got de world beat wid uh
git-fiddle. Yessuh, Dave is uh sworn marksman but you kin really beat
de box. Less have uh tune.
JIM
Oh I ain't for pickin no box. I come to git some shells for my rifle.
Sorta figgered on uh wild turkey or two. (He comes up on the porch and
starts in the store)
DAISY
If Dave go git me dat big ole turkey an' you go git me one too--gee!
Wont I have uh turkey fit?
LINDSAY
Lord, Daisy, you gointer have dese boys killin up every turkey in
Orange County.
WALTER
You mean _Dave_. Jim couldn't hit de side of uh barn wid uh brass
fiddle.
JIM
(Hitching up his trousers) Who can't shoot? (to Clarke) Come on an'
gimme un box uh shells. I'll show yuh who kin shoot! (He exits into
store with Clarke behind him)
DAVE
(To Daisy) You wait here till ah git back wid yo' turkey.
DAISY
Ahm skeered.
DAVE
Whut you skeered of? Jim? He aint no booger boo, if his ears do flop
lak uh mule.
DAISY
Naw. Ah aint skeered uh no Jim. Ah got tuh git back tuh de white folks
an Ahm skeered tuh go round dat lake at night by myself. (Enter Jim
from store and stands in door with box of shells in his hand)
JIM
No girl look like you don't have to go home by yo' self, if it was
midnight.
DAVE
(Gun in hand and ready to exit) Naw, cause Ahm right here--
JIM
Daisy don't you trust yo'self round dat lake after dark, wid dat
(points at Dave) breath and--britches. You needs uh real man to
perteck you from dem 'gators and moccasins.
DAVE
Let somethin happen and she'll find out who got rabbit blood and who
aint. Well, Ahm gone. (He steps down off the steps but looks back at
Daisy).
JIM
Ahm goin too--git you uh great big ole turkey-rooster. (Dave takes a
step or two towards left exit).
DAISY
Jim, aint you gointer knock off a li'l tune fo' you go? Ahm lonesome
for some music.
(Dave stops in his tracks and looks wistful. Jim sets down the shells
on the bench and picks up his box with a swagger and tunes a bit.)
WALTER
Georgy Buck!
JIM
(Plays the air thru once then starts to sing. Dave leans his gun
against the fence and stands there.)
1.
Georgy Buck is dead, last word he said
I don't want no shortenin in my bread.
2.
Rabbit on de log--Aint got no dog
How am I goin git him, God knows.
(Dave walks on back near the step, and begins to buck a wing. Daisy
comes down the step admiring both the playing and the dancing. All the
men goin in singing and clapping)
3.
Rabbit on de log--aint got no dog
Shoot him wid my rifle, bam! bam!
4.
Oh Georgie Buck is dead, last word he said
Never let a woman have her way
(The tempo rises. As Dave does a good break he brings up directly in
front of Daisy. He grabs her and swings her into a slow drag. The
porch cheers. Jim stops abruptly. (Enter two women, right and hurry up
to the porch)
1st WOMAN (LULU)
Don't stop, Jim! Hit dat box a couple mo' licks so some of dese men
kin scorch us in de store and treat us.
JIM
Aw, I dont feel lak no playin.
DAVE
(Grinning triumphantly) Ahm gone dis time to git dat turkey. Daisy run
tell yo' ma to put on de hot water kittle (He exits left with gun on
shoulder)
DAISY
Oh lemme see if I got a letter in de postoffice (She exits into store)
JIM
He better git for home fore ah bust dis box over his head.
2nd WOMAN (Jenny)
(Grabbing Lige) Aw, don't worry bout Dave Carter. Play us some music
so I kin make Lige buy me some soda water. (She is playfully dragging
Lige towards the door). Jenny you grab Walter.
(Walter makes a break to jump off the porch and run. The woman catches
him and there is a very gay bit of tussling as the men are dragged
towards the door)
1st WOMAN (Miss Lulu)
I bet if this was Daisy, they'd uh done halted inside and toted out
half de store.
JENNY
Yeah. (gets Walter to the door) Everything you hear is Daisy, Daisy,
Daisy! Just cause she got a walk on her like she done gone crazy thru
de hips! (Yanks Walter into the door) Yeah, y'all goin treat us. Come
on!
WALTER
Yeah, but Daisy's uh young pullet and you gittin gray headed.
JENNY
Thank God I aint gray elsewhere! Come right on. You gointer buy me
some soda water nigger. (to Jim) Play us some music, Jim, so we kin
grand march up to de counter.
JIM
I can't play nothin--mad as I is. I'm one minute to boilin and two
minutes to steam. I smell blood!
MISS LULU
You don't want to fight, do you?
JIM
Sho do. You aint never seen a Weston yet dat wouldn't fight, have you?
LIGE
Thats whut they all got run outa town for--fightin. (Calls into store)
Hey, Joe, give Jenny and Lulu some soda water and ground peas on me so
they'll turn us loose. (to Jim) Yeah, y'all Westons blieves in
fightin.
JIM
Ahd ruther get run out for fightin than to be uh coward. (He slings
the guitar round his neck an' picks up his box of shells.) Well, Ah
reckon Ah'll go git Daisy her turkey cause she sho wont git none less
Ah go git it. Here come Elder Simms anyhow now taint no mo' pickin de
box. (to Daisy) Don't git lonesome whilst Ahm gone.
(Enter Daisy from the store smiling, and walks down to where Jim is
standing)
DAISY
Whuts all dis talk about fightin?
JIM
Lige throwin it up to me bout all my folks been run outa town for
fightin. But I don't keer!
DAISY
Mah mouf done got lonesome already. Buy me some chewing gum to keep
mah mouf comp'ny till y'all gits back wid dat turkey.
JIM
Don't hafta buy none. (reaches in his pocket and pulls out a stick)
What it takes tuh satisfy de ladies, Ah totes it. (He hands her the
gum tenderly) 'By, Daisy. (He walks to left exit)
DAISY
(Coyly) Bye, till you come back.
(Enter Elder Simms right)
Good evenin' everybody.
ALL
Good evenin', Elder Sims.
LUM
(Getting up from his seat on the porch) Have mah seat, Elder. Sims
takes it with a sigh of pleasure. Lum steps off the porch and sets his
hat over one eye) Say, Daisy, you aint goin to sprain yo' lil mouf on
dat tough chewin gum, is yuh? Not wid de help _you_ got. Better lemme
kinda tender dat gum up for yuh so yo' lil mouf won't hafta strain wid
it. (He places himself exactly in front of her. She glances up coyly
at him)
DAISY
Ain't you crazy, now? (Lum tries to snatch the gum but she pops it
into her mouth and laughs as he seizes her hands.
LUM
You don't need no gum to keep yo' mouf company wid me around. Ahm all
de compny yo' mouf need. Ahm sweet papa chewin and sweetness change.
DAISY
Tell dat to Bootsie Pitts, you cant fool me. (turns right) Guess Ah
better go home and see mama. Ah ain't been round since Ah come from de
white folk. You goin walk round there wid me?
LUM
Naw, Ah aint gointer _walk_. When Ahm wid de angels ah puts on mah
hosanna wings and flies round heben lak de rest. (He falls in beside
her and catches her elbow) Less go! (to the porch) See you later and
tell you straighter.
LINDSAY
Don't stay round to Daisy's too long, Lum, and get run out from under
yo' hat!
LUM
Who run?
HAMBO
Taint no use in you hollerin "who". Yo' feet don't fit no limb.
(General laughter) (Exit Lum and Daisy right)
WALTER
Lawd! Daisy sho is propaganda. She really handles a lot of traffic. Ah
don't blame de boys. If Ah was uh single man Ah'd be round there
myself.
LIGE
Ahm willin tuh serve some time on her gang as it is, but mah wife
won't lissen to reason. (Laughter) Ah tries to show her dis deep point
where taint right for one woman to be harboring uh whole man all to
herself when theres heaps uh po' young girls aint got no husband
atall. But Ah just can't sense her into it.
(Laughter)
HAMBO
Now take Jim and Dave for instant. Here they is, old friends, done
fell out and ready to fight--all over Daisy.
WALTER
Thass me all over. I don't want no partnership when it comes to my
women. Its whole hawg uh none. Lawd, what wimmen makes us do!
LINDSAY
What is it dey don't make us do. Now take for instant Jim Weston. He
know he can't hunt wid Dave--Dave is uh sworn marksman, but jes' so as
not to be outdone here he go trying to shoot turkeys--wild turkeys
mind you, 'ginst Dave.
JOE CLARKE
I God, I hope he finds 'em too. If he get to killin turkeys maybe
he'll stay way from my hen house. I God, I done lost nine uh my best
layin' hens in three weeks.
(General Laughter)
WALTER
Did Jim git em?
CLARKE
I ain't personatin' nobody but I been told dat Jim's got uh powerful
lot uh chicken feathers buried in his back yard. I know one thing if
I ever ketch his toe-nails in my chicken yard, I God, he's gointer
follow his pappy and his four brothers. He's got to git from dis town
of mine.
(Enter a little girl right, very neat and starchy. She runs up to Rev.
Sims.)
GIRL
Papa, mama say send her dat witch hazely oil she sent you after right
quick.
LINDSAY
Whuss matter wid Sister Sims--poly today?
SIMS
She don't keep so well since we been here, but I reckon she's on
de mend.
HAMBO
Don't look like she never would be sick. She look so big and portly.
CLARKE
Size don't mean nothin'. My wife is portly and she be's on de sick
list all de time. It's "Jody, pain in de belly all day. Jody, pain in
de back all night.
LIGE
Besides, Mrs. Simms ain't very large. She wouldn't weigh more'n two
hundred. You ain't seen no big woman. I seen one so big she went to
whip her lil boy an' he run up under her belly and stayed up under
dere for six months.
(General laughter)
WALTER
You seen de biggest ones. But I seen uh woman so little till she could
go out in uh shower uh rain and run between de drops. She had tuh git
up on uh box tuh look over uh grain uh sand.
SIMMS
Y'all boys better read yo' Bibles 'stead of studyin foolishness. (He
gets up and starts into the store. Clarke and the little girl follow
him.) Reckon Ah better git dat medicine. (The three exit into store)
HAMBO
Well, y'all done seen so much--be y'all ain't never seen uh snake big
as de one Ah seen down round Kissimnee. He was so big he couldn't
hardly move his self. He laid in one spot so long he growed moss on
him and everybody thought he was uh log layin' there; till one day Ah
set down on him and went to sleep. When Ah woke up ah wuz in Middle
Georgy.
(General laughter. Two women enter left and go in store after
everybody has spoken to them)
LINDSAY
Layin' all sides to jokes now, y'all remember dat rattlesnake Ah kilt
on Lake Hope was 'most big as dat one.
WALTER
(Nudgin' Lige and winking at the crowd) How big did you say it was, Joe?
LINDSAY
He mought not uh been quite as big as dat one--but jes' bout fourteen
feet.
HAMBO
Gimme dat lyin' snake! He wasn't but fo' foot long when you kilt him
and here you done growed him ten feet after he's dead.
(Enter Simms followed by the girl with an all day sucker. Simms has a
small package in his hand.
SIMMS
(Gives the package to the child and resumes his seat.)
Run 'long home now. Tell yo' ma to put on uh pot uh peas.
(Child exits right trotting and sucking her candy.)
WALTER
They's some powerful big snakes round here. We was choppin' down de
weeds in front of our parsonage yistiddy and kilt uh great big ol'
cotton mouf moccasin.
SIMMS
Yeah, look like me or some of my fambly 'bout to git snake-bit right
at our own front do'.
LIGE
An' bit by uh Baptist snake at dat.
LINDSAY
How you make him out uh Baptist snake?
LIGE
Nobody don't love water lak uh Baptist an' uh Moccasin.
(General laughter)
HAMBO
An' nobody don't hate it lak de devil, uh rattlesnake an uh Meth'dis.
(General laughter. Enter Joe Clark from store. Stands in door)
SIMMS
Dis town needs uh cleanin' in more ways than one. Now if this town was
run right, when folks misbehaves, they oughter be locked up in jail
and if they can't pay no fine, they oughter be made to work it out on
de streets--chopping weeds.
LINDSAY
How we gointer do all dat when we ain't got no jail?
SIMMS
Well, you orta _have_ uh jail. Y'all needs uh whole heap of
improvements in dis town. Ah ain't never pastored no town so way back
as this one here.
CLARKE
(Stepping out before Simms) What improvements you figgers we needs?
SIMMS
A whole heap. Now for one thing, we really does need uh jail, Brother
Mayor. Taint no sense in runnin' people out of town that cuts up. We
oughter have jails like other towns. Every town I ever pastored had
uh jail.
CLARKE
(Angrily) Now hold on uh minute, Simms! Don't you reckon uh man dat
knows how to start uh town knows how to run it? You ain't been here
long enough to find out who started dis town yet. (Very emphatic,
beating of his palm with other fist) Do you know who started dis town?
(Does not pause for an answer) Me! I started _dis_ town. I went to de
white folks and wid _dis_ right hand I laid down two hundred dollars
for de land and walked out and started dis town. I ain't like some
folks--come here when grapes was ripe. I was here to cut new ground.
SIMMS
Well, tain't no sense in one man stayin' Mayor all de time, nohow.
CLARKE
(Triumphantly) So dat de tree you barkin' up? Why, you ain't nothin'
but uh trunk man. You can't be no mayor. I got roots here.
SIMMS
You ain't all de voters, tho, Brother Mayor.
CLARKE
(Arrogantly) I don't hafta be. I God, it's my town and I kin be Mayor
jes' as long as I want to. (Slaps his chest) I God, it was _me_ dat
put dis town on de map.
SIMMS
What map you put it on, Brother Clarke? You musta misplaced it. I
ain't seen it on no map.
CLARKE
Tain't on no map, hunh? I God, everytime I go to Maitland de white
folks calls me Mayor. Otherwise, Simms, I God, if you so dissatisfied
wid de way I run dis town, just take yo' Bible and flat foots and git
younder cross de woods.
SIMMS
(Aggressively) Naw, Ah don't like it. You ack lack tain't nobody in de
corporation but you? Now look. (Points at the street lamp) Tain't but
one street light in town an' you got it in front of yo' place. We pays
de taxes an' you got de lamp.
CLARKE
I God, nobody can't tell me how to run dis town. I 'lected myself and
I'm gonna run it to suit myself. (Looks all about) Where is dat
Marshall? He ain't lit de lamp?
WALTER
Scorched Daisy Blunt home and ain' got back.
CLARKE
I God, call him there, some of you boys.
(Lige steps to edge of porch left and calls "Lum! Lum!" Lum's voice at
a distance: "What!" Lige: "Come on and light de lamp it gittin dark.")
SIMMS
Now, when I pastored in Ocala you oughter seen de lovely jail dey had.
HAMBO
Thass all right for white folks. We colored folks don't need no jail.
WALTER
Aw, yes we do too. Elder Simms is right. We ain't a bit bottern white
folks. (Enter the two women from the store.) You wimmen folks been in
dat store uh mighty long time.
MRS. LULU
We been makin' our market.
HAMBO
Looks mighty bad for some man's pocket. But y'all ain't had no treat
on me. Go back and tell Mrs. Clark tuh give you some candy.
LINDSAY
Have somethin' on me too. Money ain't no good lessen de women kin help
you use it. (Hollers inside) Every lady in there take a treat on me.
MRS. JENNY
Ain't y'all comin' in tuh help us eat de treat. Come on, Elder Simms!
HAMBO
(Getting up quickly. Lindsay and Joe Clarke also get up. They go
inside laughing.) Here, lemme git hold of somebody. (Grabs one of the
women by the arm as they exit into the store.)
LIGE
(Pointing his thumb after the women) Ah wouldn't way lay nothin' lak
dat. Too old even tuh chew peanuts if Ah was tuh buy it.
WALTER
Preach it, Brother. But they's all right for mullet heads like Lindsay
and Hambo. (Sings)
When they git old, when they [Note: corrected missing space.] git old
Old folks turns tuh monkeys
When they git old.
(Looks off right) Lawd! They must be havin' recess in heben! Look at
dese lil ground angels! (Yells off right) Hello Big 'Oman, an' Teets
and Bootsie! Hurry up! My money jumpin' up and down in my pocket lak
uh mule in uh tin stable. (Enter three girls right, dressed in cool
cotton dresses. They are all locked armed and giggling)
LIGE
Hello, folkses.
BOOTSIE
(Coquettishly) Hello yo'self--Want uh piece uh corn bread look on de
shelf. (Great burst of laughter from inside the store)
LIGE
(Catching Bootsie's arm) Lemme scorch y'all inside en' treat yuh.
BOOTSIE
(Looks at the other girls for confirmation) Not yet, after while.
WALTER
Well, come set on de piazza an' les' have some chat.
TEETS
We ain't got time. We come tuh git our mail out de postoffice.
LIGE
Youse uh Got-dat-wrong! You come after Dave an' Jim an' Lum. But Daisy
done treed de las' one of 'em. She got Jim and Dave out in de swamp
where de mule was drugged out huntin' her uh turkey. An' she got Lum
at her house. Thass how come de light ain't lit.
BIG 'OMAN
Oh, Ah ain't worried 'bout Lum. Ah b'lieve Ah kin straighten him out.
WALTER
Some wimmen kin git yo' man so he won't stand uh straightenin'.
LIGE
Don't come rollin' yo' eyes at me an' gittin' all mad cause y'all
stuck on de boys and de boys is stuck on Daisy. (makes a sly face
at Walter)
TEETS
Who? Me? Nobody ain't studyin' 'bout ole Daisy. She come before me
like a gnat in a whirlwind.
WALTER
(in mock seriousness) Better stop dat talkin' 'bout Daisy, do I'll
tell her whut you say. I think I better call her anyhow and see
whether you gointer talk dat big talk to her face. (Makes a move as if
to call Daisy)
LIGE
(keeping up the raillery, grabs Walter) Don't do dat, Walter. We don't
want no trouble round here. But sho nuff, [Note: corrected missing
space.] girls, y'all ain't got no time wid Daisy. Know what Lum say?
Says Daisy is a bucket flower--jes' _made_ him to set up on de
porch an' look pritty. I ast him how 'bout de rest an' he says "Oh de
rest is yard flowers jes' plant them any which a way.
BOOTSIE
I don't b'lieve Lum said no sich uh thing.
LIGE
You tellin' dat flat--Ah knows. (Looks off left) Here come Lum, now,
in uh big hurry jus' lak he ain't been gone two hours.
BIG 'OMAN
Less we all go git our treat! (They start up on the porch. At that
moment Hambo, Lindsay, Clarke, Simms, and the two women enter from
the store.)
CLARKE
(to Lige) Looks here, I God! Ain't Lum lit dat lamp yet? (Enter Lum
left hurriedly. Clarke stands akimbo glaring at him. Lum fumbles for a
match, strikes it and drops it. Gets another from his pocket and goes
to the lamp and strikes it.) Somebody reach de numbskull uh box.
(Walter hands Lum a box of the porch and he gets up on it and opens
the lamp to light it.)
LUM
(to Clarke) Reckon Ah better put some oil in de lamp. Tain't much in
it.
CLARKE
(Impatiently) Oh, that'll do! That'll do. It'll be time tuh put it out
befo' you git it lit, I God.
(Lum lights the lamp. The men have resumed their seats and the women
are on the ground and near right exit. Walter and Lige and the three
girls are at the door about to enter the store. Lum has the box in his
hand and is still under the lamp. He walks slowly towards the step,
box in hand. At the step he looks off left.)
LUM
Here come Dave. (All look left. Walter and Lige and the girls abandon
the idea of the treat and wait for Dave)
HAMBO
But ah ain't seen no turkey yet. Dat ole gobbler's too smart for Dave.
(Enter Dave with gun over his shoulder and holding his head. A little
blood is on his shoulder. He pauses under the lamp a moment then comes
to the step)
HAMBO
Whuss de matter, Dave? Dat ole turkey gobbler done pecked you in de
head? Whut kind of a huntsman is you?
(General laughter)
DAVE
Naw, ain't no turkey pecked me. It's Jim. Ah wuz out in de woods and
hand don squatted down before he got dere. Ah know jus' where dat ole
gobbler roost at. Soon's he hit de limb an' squatted hisself, Ah let
'im have it. He flopped his wings an' tried to fly off but here he
come tumblin' down right by dem ole mule bones. Jim, he was jus'
comin' up when Ah fired. So when he seen dat turkey fallin', whut do
he do? He fires off his gun an' make out he kilt dat turkey. Ah beat
him tuh de bird and we got tuh tusslin'. He tries tuh make _me_ give
him _mah_ turkey so's he kin run tuh Daisy an' make out he done kilt
it. So we got tuh fightin' an' Ah wuz beatin' him too till he retched
down an' got de hock bone uh dat mule an' lammed me over de head an'
fore Ah could git up, he done took mah turkey an' went wid it. (to
Clarke) Mist Clarke Ah wants tuh swear out uh warrant ginst Jim
Weston. Ahm gointer law him outa dis town, too.
SIMMS
Dat wuz uh low-down caper, Jim, cut sho nuff.
CLARKE
Sho its uh ugly caper tuh cut. Come on inside, Dave, an Ah'll make out
de papers. He ain't goin' to carry on lak dat in _my_ town.
(Exit Dave and Clarke into de store)
LINDSAY
(Jokingly to Sims) See whut capers you Meth'dis niggers'll
cut--lammin' folks over de head wid mule bones an' stealin' they
turkeys.
SIMMS
Oh you Baptist ain't uh lot better'n nobody else. You steals an'
fights too.
LINDSAY
(still bantering) Yeah, but we done kotched dis Meth'dis nigger an' we
gointer run him right on outa town too. Jus' wait an' see. Yeah, boy.
Dat Jim'll be uh gone gator 'fore tomorrow night.
WALTER
Oh, I don't know whether he's gointer be gone or not. We Meth'dis got
jus' as much say-so in dis town as anybody else.
LIGE
Yeah. You Baptis run yo' mouf but you don't run de town. Furthermo' we
ain't heard nothin' but Dave's lie. Better wait till we see Jim an'
git de straight of dis thing.
HAMBO
Will you lissen at dat? Dese half-washed Christians hates de truth lak
uh bed-bug hates de light. God a' mighty! (rising) Ahm goin' in an'
see to it dat de Mayor makes dem papers out right. (He exits angrily
into the store. Simms and all the men rise too)
SIMMS
Come on Walter, you an Lige. Less we go inside too. Dat po' boy got
tuh git jestice. An' 'tween de Mayor an' dese Baptists he ain't got
much chance. (They exit into the store)
1st WOMAN
Come on you young gals, whut y'all wanta be hangin' round de store an'
its way after black dark. Yo' mammies oughter take an frail de las'
one of yuh! Come along! (The girls come downoff the porch and join the
women. Loud angry voices inside the store)
2nd WOMAN
Lawd, lemme git home an' tell my husban' bout all dis. Umph! Umph!
(The women and girls exit as the men all emerge from the store. Lum
comes first with the warrant in his hand. Clarke emerges last.)
CLARKE
Can't have all dat fuss an' racket in my store. All of you git outside
dat wants tuh fight? (He begins to close up)
SIMMS
But Brother Mayor, I said it, an' I'll say it agin, tain't right--
CLARKE
(turns angrily) I God, Clarke [Hand written correction: Simms], Ah
don't keer whut you say. 'Taint worth uh hill uh beans nohow. Jim is
gointer be 'rested for hittin' Dave an' takin' his turkey, an' if he's
found guilty he's goin' way from here. Tain't no use uh you swellin'
up neither. (to Lum) Go get him, Lum, an' lock 'im in my barn an' put
dat turkey under arrest too. I God, de law is gointer be law in my
town. (Exit Lum with an important air.)
WALTER
Where de trial gointer be, Brother Clarke, in de hall?
CLARKE
Nope, it's too little. It'll hafta be in de Baptist Church. Ah reckon
dat's de bigges' place in town. Three o'clock Monday evening. Now,
y'all git on off my porch tuh fuss. Lige, outen dat lamp for Lum.
(The stage goes black. The crowd is dispersing slowly. Angry voices
are heard. The curtain is descending slowly. Off-stage right the voice
of Lum is heard calling Daisy.)
LUM
Oh Daisy! Daisy!
DAISY
(at a distance) What you want, Lum?
LUM
Tell yo' mama to put on de hot water kittle. I'll be round there
before long.
_CURTAIN_
ACT II
Scene I
SETTING: Village street scene. Huge oak tree upstage center. A house
or two on backdrop. When curtain goes up Sister Lucy Taylor is seen
standing under the tree trying to read a notice posted on the tree.
She is painfully spelling it out. Enter Sister Thomas--a younger woman
(in her thirties) at left.
SISTER THOMAS
Evenin', Sis Taylor.
SISTER TAYLOR
Evenin'. (returns to the notice)
SISTER THOMAS
Whut you doin'? Readin' dat notice Joe Clarke put up 'bout de meetin'?
(approaches tree)
SISTER TAYLOR
Is dat whut it says? I ain't much on readin' since I had my teeth
pulled out. You know if you pull out dem eye teeth you ruins yo' eye
sight. (turns back to notice) Whut it say?
SISTER THOMAS
(Reading notice) The trial of Jim Weston for assault and battery on
Dave Carter wid a dangerous weapon will be held at Macedonia Baptist
Church on Monday November 10, at three o'clock. All are welcome--by
order of J. Clarke, Mayor of Eatonville, Fla. (turning to Sister
Taylor) Hit's makin' on to three now.
SISTER TAYLOR
You mean its right _now_. (looks up at sun to tell time) Lemme go git
ready to be at de trial--cause I'm sho going to be there and I ain't
goin' to bite my tongue neither.
SISTER THOMAS
I done went and crapped a mess of collard greens for supper--I better
go put em on--cause Lawd knows when we goin' to git outa there--and my
husband is one of them dats gointer eat don't keer whut happen. I bet
if Judgment day was to happen tomorrow, he'd speck I orter fix him a
bucket to carry long.
(She moves to exit right)
SISTER TAYLOR
All men favors they guts, chile. But whut you think of all dis mess
they got going on round here?
SISTER THOMAS
I just think its a sin and a shame before de livin justice de way dese
Baptis' niggers is runnin' round here carryin' on.
SISTER TAYLOR
Oh they been puttin out they brags ever since Sat'day night bout whut
they gointer do to Jim. They thinks they runs this town. They tell me
Rev. Singleton preached a sermon on it yesterday.
SISTER THOMAS
Lawd help us! He can't preach and he look like 10¢ worth of have-mercy,
let lone gittin' up dare tryin' to throw slams at us. Now all Elder
Sims done was to explain to us our rights--Whut you think bout Joe
Clarke running round here takin' up for those ole Baptist niggers?
SISTER TAYLOR
De puzzle-gut rascal--we oughter have him up in conference and put him
out de Meth'dis' faith. He don't blong in there--Wanta run dat boy
outa town for nothin'.
SISTER THOMAS
But we all know how come he so hot to law Jim outa town--hits to dig
de foundation out from under Elder Sims--
SISTER TAYLOR
What he wanta do dat for?
SISTER THOMAS
Cause he wants to be a God-knows-it-all an' a God-do-it-all and Simms
is de onliest one in this town whut will buck up to him.
(Enter Sister Jones, walking leisurely)
SISTER JONES
Hello Hoyt, Hello Lucy.
SISTER TAYLOR
Goin' to de meetin'?
SISTER JONES
Done got my clothes on de line and I'm bound to be dere--
SISTER THOMAS
Gointer testify for Jim?
SISTER JONES
Naw. I reckon--Don't make much difference to me which way de drop
fall--Taint neither one of 'em much good.
SISTER TAYLOR
I know it. I know it, Ida. But dat ain't de point. De crow we wants to
pick is, is we gointer set still and let dese Baptist tell us when to
plant and when to pluck up?
SISTER JONES
Dat _is_ something to think about when you come to think about it.
(starts to move on) Guess I better go ahead--See y'all later and tell
you straighter. (Enter Elder Simms right, walking fast, Bible under
his arm, almost collides with Mrs. Jones. She nods and smiles and
exits.)
ELDER SIMMS
How you do, Sister Taylor, Sister Thomas.
BOTH
Good evenin', Elder
SIMMS
Sho is a hot day
SISTER TAYLOR
Yeah, de bear is walkin' de earth lak a natural man.
SISTER THOMAS
Reverend, look like you headed de wrong way. It's almost time for de
trial and youse all de dependence we got.
ELDER SIMMS
I know it. I'm trying to find de Marshall so we kin go after Jim. I
wants a chance to talk wid him a minute before court sits.
SISTER TAYLOR
Y'think he'll come clear?
ELDER SIMMS
(proudly) I _know_ it! (shakes the Bible) I'm going to law 'em from
Genesis to Revelation.
SISTER THOMAS
Give it to 'em, Elder. Wear 'em out!
ELDER SIMMS
We'se liable to have a new Mayor when all dis dust settle. Well, I
better scuffle on down de road.
(Exit Sims left)
SISTER THOMAS
Lord, lemme gwan home and put dese greens on. (looks off stage left)
Here come Mayor Clark now, wid his belly settin' out in front of him
like a cow-catcher. His name oughter be Mayor Belly.
SISTER TAYLOR
(akimbo) Jus' look at him! Trying to look like a jigadier Breneral.
(Enter Clarke hot and perspiring. They look at him coldly.)
CLARKE
I God, de bear got me! (silence for a moment) How y'all feelin'
ladies?
SISTER TAYLOR
Brother Mayor, I ain't one of these folks dat bite my tongue and bust
my gall--Whuts inside got to come out! I can't see to my rest why you
cloakin' in wid dese Baptist buzzards ginst yo' own Church.
MAYOR CLARKE
I ain't cloakin' in wid _none_. I'm de Mayor of dis whole town.
I stands for de right and against de wrong. I don't keer who it kill
or cure.
SISTER THOMAS
You think it's right to be runnin' dat boy off for nothin?
MAYOR CLARKE
I God! You call knockin' a man in de head wid a mule bone nothin'?
'Nother thing--I done missed nine of my best-layin' hens. I ain't
sayin' Jim got 'em--but different people has told me he buries a
powerful lot of feathers in his back yard. I God, I'm a ruint man! (He
starts towards the right exit, but Lum Rogers enters right.) I God,
Lum, I been lookin' for you all day. It's almost three o'clock. (hands
him a key from his ring) Take dis key and go fetch Jim Weston on to de
church.
LUM
Have you got yo' gavel from de lodge-room?
CLARKE
I God, that's right, Lum. I'll go get it from de lodge room whilst you
go git de bone an' de prisoner. Hurry up! You walk like dead lice
droppin' off you! (He exits right while Lum crosses stage towards
left)
SISTER TAYLOR
Lum, Elder Simms been huntin' you--he's gone on down bout de barn.
(She gestures.)
LUM
I reckon I'll overtake him. (Exit left)
SISTER THOMAS
I better go put dese greens on--my husband will kill me if he don't
find no supper ready. Here come Mrs. Blunt. She oughter feel like a
penny's worth of have-mercy wid all dis stink behind her daughter.
SISTER TAYLOR
Chile, some folks don't keer. They don't raise they chillen, they
drags 'em up. God knows if dat Daisy was mine, I'd throw her down and
put a hundred lashes on her back wid a plow-line. Here she come in de
store Sat'day night (acts coy and coquettish, burlesques Daisy's walk)
a wringing and a twisting!
(Enter Mrs. Blunt left.)
MRS. BLUNT
How y'all sisters?
SISTER THOMAS
Very well, Miz Blunt, how you?
MRS. BLUNT
Oh so-so.
SISTER TAYLOR
I'm kickin' but not high.
MRS. BLUNT
Well, thank God you still on prayin' ground and in a Bible
Country--Me, I ain't many today. De niggers got my Daisy's name all
mixed up in diss mess.
SISTER TAYLOR
You musn't mind dat, Sister Blunt. People just _will_ talk. They's
talkin' in New York and they's talkin' in Georgy and they's talkin' in
Italy.
SISTER THOMAS
Chile, if you talk after niggers they'll have you in de graveyard or
in Chattahoochee one. You can't pay no tention to talk.
MRS. BLUNT
Well, I know one thing--de man or woman, chick or child, grizzly or
gray that tells me to my face anything wrong bout _my_ chile--I'm
going to take _my_ fist (rolls up right sleeve and gestures with right
fist) and knock they teeth down they throat. (She looks ferocious.)
Cause y'll know I raised my Daisy right round my feet till I let her
go up north last year wid them white folks. I'd ruther her to be in de
white folks kitchen than walkin' de streets like some of dese girls
round here. If I do say so, I done raised a lady. She can't help it if
all dese men get stuck on her.
SISTER TAYLOR
You'se telling de truth, Sister Blunt--that's what I always say--Don't
confidence dese niggers, do they'll sho put you in de street.
SISTER THOMAS
Naw indeed. Never syndicate wid niggers--do--they will distriminate
you. They'll be an _anybody_. You goin to de trial, ain't you?
MRS. BLUNT
Just as sho as you snore, and they better leave Daisy's name outer dis
too. I done told her and told her to come straight home from her work.
Naw, she had to stop by dat store and skin her gums back wid dem
trashy niggers. She better not leave them white [Corrected missing
space.] folks today to come praipsin over here scornin her name all up
wid dis nigger mess--do, I'll kill her. No daughter of mine ain't
going to do as she please long as she live under de sound of my voice.
(She crosses to right.)
SISTER THOMAS
That's right, Sister Blunt--I glory in yo' spunk. Lord, I better go
put on my supper. (As Mrs. Blunt exits right, Rev. Singletary enters
left with Dave and Deacon Lindsay and Sister Lewis. Very hostile
glances from Sisters Thomas and Taylor towards the others.
ELDER SINGLETARY
Good evening, folks.
(Sister Thomas and Sister Taylor just grunt. Sister Thomas moves a
step or two towards exit. Flirts her skirts and exits.)
LINDSAY
(Angrily) Whuts de matter, y'all? Cat got yo' tongue?
SISTER TAYLOR
More matter than you kin scatter all over Cincinnatti.
LINDSAY
Go head on, Lucy Taylor, go head on. You know a very little of yo'
sugar sweetens my coffee. Go head on. Everytime you lift yo' arm you
smell like a nest of yellow hammers.
SISTER TAYLOR
Go head on yo'self. Yo' head look like it done wore out three
bodies--talking bout _me_ smelling--you smell lak a nest of grand
daddies yo'self.
LINDSAY
Aw, rack on down de road, 'oman. Ah don't wantuh change words wid yuh.
You'se too ugly.
MRS. TAYLOR
You ain't nobody's pretty baby yo'self. You so ugly I betcha yo' wife
have to spread uh sheet over yo' head tuh let sleep slip up on yuh.
LINDSAY
(Threatening) You better git 'way from me while you able. I done tole
you I don't wants break a mouth wid you. It's a whole heap better tuh
walk off on yo own legs than it is to be toted off. I'm tired of yo'
achin round here. You fool wid me now an' I'll knock you into doll
rags, Tony or no Tony.
SISTER TAYLOR
(jumping up in his face) Hit me! Hit me! I dare you tuh hit me. If you
take dat dare you'll steal a hawg an' eat his hair.
LINDSAY
Lemme gwan down to dat church befo' you make me stomp you.
(He exits right.)
SISTER TAYLOR
You mean you'll _git_ stomped. Ahm going to de trial too. De nex trial
gointer be _me_ for kickin some uh you Baptis niggers around.
(A great noise is heard off stage left. The angry and jeering voices
of children. Mrs. Taylor looks off left and takes a step or two
towards left exit as the noise comes nearer.)
VOICE OF ONE CHILD
Tell her! Tell her! Turn her up and smell her. Yo' mama ain't got
nothin to do wid me.
SISTER TAYLOR
(Hollering off left) You lil Baptis haitians, leave them chillun
alone. If you don't, you better!
(Enter about 10 chidren struggling and wrestling in a bunch. Mrs.
Taylor looks about on the ground for a stick to strike the children
with.)
VOICE OF CHILD IN CROWD
Hey! Hey! He's skeered tuh knock it off. Coward!
SISTER TAYLOR
If y'all don't git on home!
SASSY LITTLE GIRL
(Standing akimbo) I know you better not touch me, do my mama will tend
to you.
SISTER TAYLOR
(Making as if to strike her) Shet up, you nasty lil heifer, sassing
me! You ain't half raised.
(The little girl shakes herself at Mrs. Taylor and is joined by two or
three others.)
SISTER TAYLOR
(Walking towards right exit) I'm going on down to de church an' tell
yo' mammy. But she ain't been half raised herself. (She exits right
with several children making faces behind her.)
A BOY
(to sassy girl) Aw haw! Y'all ol' Baptis ain't got no book case in yo'
church. We went there one day an' I saw uh soda cracker box settin' up
in de corner so I set down on it. (pointing at sassy girl) Know whut
ole Mary Ella say? (jeering laughter) Willie, you git up off our
library! Haw! Haw!
MARY ELLA
Y'all ole Meth'dis' ain't got no window panes in yo' ole church.
A GIRL
(Takes center of stage and hands akimbo shakes her hips.) I don't keer
whut y'allsay. I'm a Methdis' bred an' uh Methdis' born an' when I'm
dead there'll be uh Methdis' gone.
MARY ELLA
(snaps fingers under other girl's nose and starts singing. Several
join her.)
Oh Baptis, Baptis is my name
My name's written on high
I got my lick in de Baptis church
Gointer eat up de Methdis pie
(the Methodist children jeer and make faces. The Baptist camp make
faces back for a full minute there is silence while each camp tries to
outdo the other in face making. The Baptist makes the last face.
METHODIST BOY
Come on, less us don't notice em. Less gwan down to de church an' hear
de trial.
MARY ELLA
Y'all ain't the onliest ones kin go. We goin' too.
WILLIE
Aw Haw! Copy cats! (Makes face) Dat's right, follow on behind us lak
uh puppy dog tail. (They start walking toward right exit switching
their clothes behind.)
(Baptist children stage a rush and struggle to get in front of the
methodists. They finally succeed in flinging some of the Methodist
children to the ground and some behind them and walk towards right
exit haughtily switching their clothes.)
WILLIE
(whispers to his crowd) Less go round by Mosely's lot and beat 'em
there!
OTHERS
All right!
WILLIE
(Yelling to Baptists) We wouldn't walk behind no ole Baptists! (The
Methodists turn and walk off towards left exit switching their clothes
as the Baptists are doing.)
_SLOW CURTAIN_
ACT II
SCENE II
SETTING: Interior of Macedonia Baptist Church, a rectangular room,
windows on each side, two "Amen Corners", pulpit with a plush cover
with heavy fringe, practical door in pulpit, practical door in front
of church, two oil brackets with reflectors on each side wall with
lamps missing all but one, one big oil lamp in center.
ACTION: At the rise, church is about full. A buzz and hum fills the
church. Voices of children angry and jeering heard from the street.
The church bell begins to toll for death. Everybody looks shocked.
SISTER LEWIS
Lawd! Is Dave done died from dat lick?
SISTER THOMAS
(to her husband) Walter, go see. (He gets up and starts down the aisle
to front door. Enter Deacon Hambo by front door.)
WALTER
Who dead?[Note: correction to e]
HAMBO
(laughing) Nobody--jus' tollin' de bell for dat Meth'dis gopher dat's
gointer be long long gone after dis trial. (laughter from the Baptist
side)
WALTER
Y'all sho thinks you runs dis town, dontcher? But Elder Simms'll show
you somethin' t'day. If he don't, God's uh gopher.
HAMBO
He can't show us nothin' cause he don't know nothin' hisself.
WALTER
He got mo' book-learnin' than Rev. Singletary got.
HAMBO
He mought be unletter-learnt, but he kin drive over Sims like a
road plow.
METHODIST CHORUS
Aw, naw! Dat's a lie!
(Enter Rev. Simms by front door with open Bible in hand. A murmur of
applause arises on the Methodist side, grunts on the Baptist side.
Immediately behind him comes Lum Boger leading Jim Weston. They parade
up to the right Amen Corner and seat themselves on the same bench, Jim
between the Marshall and the preacher. A great rooster crowing and hen
cackling arises on the Baptist side. Jim Weston jumps angrily to his
feet.)
(Enter by front door Rev. Singletary and Dave. Dave's head is
bandaged, but he walks firmly and seems not ill at all. They sit in
the left Amen Corner. Jeering grunts from the Methodist side.)
SISTER THOMAS
Look at ol' Dave trying to make out he's hurt.
LIGE
Everybody know uh Baptis' head is hardern uh rock. Look like they'd be
skeered tuh go in swimmin', do they heads would drown 'em. (general
laughter on Methodist side)
(Enter Bro. Nixon with his jumper jacket on his arm and climbs over
the knees of a bench full of people and finds seat against the wall
directly beneath empty lamp bracket. He looks around for some place to
dispose of his coat. Sees the lamp-bracket and hangs up the coat,
hitches up his pants and sits down.)
SISTER LEWIS
(rising and glaring at Nixon) Shank Nixon, you take yo' lousy coat
down off these sacred walls. Ain't you Methdis' niggers got no
gumption in de house of Wash-up!
(Nixon mocks her by standing akimbo and shaking himself like a woman.
General laughter. He prepares to resume his seat but looks over and
sees Deacon Hambo on his feet, and glaring angrily at him. He quickly
reaches up and takes the coat down and folds it across his knees.)
(Sister Taylor looks very pointedly at Sister Lewis then takes a dip
of snuff and looks sneering at Lewis again.)
SISTER TAYLOR
Some folks is a whole lot more keerful bout a louse in de church than
[Note: corrected missing space] they is in they house. (Looks
pointedly at Sister Lewis.)
SISTER LEWIS
(bustling) Whut you gazin' at me for? Wid your pop-eyes looking like
skirt ginny-nuts.
SISTER TAYLOR
I hate to tell you whut yo' mouf looks like. I sho do you and soap and
soap and water musta had some words.
SISTER LEWIS
Talkin' bout other folks being dirty--yo' young 'uns must be sleep in
they draws cause you kin smell 'em a mile down de road.
SISTER TAYLOR
Taint no lice on 'em though.
SISTER LEWIS
You got just as many bed-bugs and chinches as anybody else, don't come
trying to hand me dat rough package bout yo' house so clean.
SISTER TAYLOR
Yeah, but I done seen de bed-bugs munchin' out yo' house in de
mornin', keepin' step just like soldiers drillin'. An' you got so many
lice I seen em on de dish-rag. One day you tried to pick up de
dish-rag and put it in de dish water and them lice pulled back and
tole you "Aw naw, damned if I'm going to let you drown me." (Loud
laughter from the Methodist side)
SISTER LEWIS
(furious--rises akimbo) Well, my house might not be exactly clean, but
there's no fly-specks on my character! They didn't have to sit de
sheriff to make Willie marry _me_ like they did to make Tony marry
_you_.
SISTER TAYLOR
(Jumping up and starts across the aisle. She is pulled back out of the
aisle by friends.) Yeah, they got de sheriff to make Tony marry me,
but he married me and made me a good husband, too. I sits in my
rocking cheer on my porch every Sat'day evening and say "here come
Tony and them--
SISTER LEWIS
Them what?
SISTER TAYLOR
Them dollars. Now you sho orter go git de sheriff and a shot-gun and
make some of dese men marry yo' daughter Ada.
SISTER LEWIS
(Jumping up and starting across the aisle. She is restrained, but
struggles hard.) Lemme go, Jim Merchant! Turn me go! I'm going to
stomp de black heifer till she can't sit down.
SISTER TAYLOR
(Also struggling) Let her come on! If I get my hands on her I'll turn
her every way but loose.
SISTER LEWIS
Just come on out dis church, Lucy Taylor. I'll beat you on everything
you got but yo' tongue and I'll bit dat a lick if you stick it out.
(to the men holding her) Turn me go! I'm going to fix her so her own
mammy won't know her. She ain't going to slip _me_ into de dozens and
laugh about it.
SISTER TAYLOR
(Trying to free herself) Why don't y'all turn dat ole twist mouth
'oman loose. All I wants to do is hit her one lick. I betcha I'll take
her 'way from here faster than de word of God.
SISTER LEWIS
(to men holding Mrs. Taylor) I don't see how come y'all want let ole
flat-behind Lucy Taylor aloose--make out she so bad, now. She may be
red hot but I kin cool her. I'll ride her just like Jesus rode a
jackass.
(They have subsided into their seats again, but are glaring at each
other. Enter Mayor Clarke thru the pulpit door and is annoyed at the
clamor going on. He tries to quell the noise with a frown.)
SISTER TAYLOR
Dat ain't nothin' but talk--You looks lak de Devil before day, but you
ain't so bad--not half as bad as you smell.
CLARKE
Order, please. Court is set.
SISTER LEWIS
You looks like all hell and de devil's doll baby, but all I want _you_
to do is to hit de ground and I'll crawl you. Put it where I kin git
it and I'll sho use it.
MAYOR CLARKE
(feeling everywhere for the gavel) Lum Boger! Where's dat gavel I told
you to put here?
LUM
(from beside prisoner) You said _you_ were going to git it yo'self.
CLARKE
I God, Lum, you gointer stand there like a bump on a log and see I
ain't got nothin' to open court wid? Go head--fetch me dat gavel. Make
haste quick before dese wimmen folks tote off dis church house. (Lum
exits by front door)
SISTER TAYLOR
(to Lewis) Aw, shut up, you big old he-looking rascal you! Nobody
don't know whether you'se a man or a woman.
CLARKE
You wimmen, shut up!
SISTER LEWIS
(to Taylor) Air Lawd! Dat ain't _yo_ trouble. They all _knows_ whut
_you_ is--eg-zackly!
LINDSAY
Aw, why don't you wimmen cut dat out in de church-house! Jus' jawin'
and chewin' de rag!
SISTER TAYLOR
Joe Lindsay, if you'd go home and feed dat raw-boned horse of yourn
you wouldn't have so much time to stick yo' bill in business that
ain't yourn.
LINDSAY
You ain't got nairn to feed--You better go hunt another dead dog and
git some mo' teeth. Great big ole empty mouf, and no cheers in de
parlar.
SISTER TAYLOR
I kin git all de teeth I wants--I'd ruther not have no cheers in my
parlor than to have them ole snags you got in yo' mouf. I'd ruther gum
it out.
LINDSAY
You don't _ruther_ gum it out, you _hafta_ gum it out. You ain't got
no teeth. Dey better send out to dat ole mule and git you some
teethes.
SISTER LEWIS
Joe Lindsay, don't you know no better than to strain wid folks ain't
got sense enough to tote guts to a bean? If they ain't born wid no
sense you cna't learn 'em none.
LINDSAY
You sho done tole whut God love now. (Glaring across the aisle) Ain't
got enough gumption to kill a buzzard.
(Enter Lum by front door with gavel in one hand and mule bone in the
other. He walks importantly up the aisles and hands Clarke the gavel
and lays the bone atop the pulpit.)
CLARKE
(rapping sharply with gavel) Here! You moufy wimmen shut up. (to Lum)
Lum, go on back there and shut dem wimmen up or put 'em outa here.
(Lum starts walking importantly down the aisle towards Sister Taylor.
she almost rises to meet him.)
SISTER TAYLOR
Lum Boger, you fresh little snot you! Don't you dast to come here
trying to put _me_ out--Many diapers as I done pinned on _you_! Git
way from me befo' I knock every nap off of yo' head, one by one.
(Lum hurries away from her apologetically. He turns towards Mrs.
Lewis.)
MRS. LEWIS
Deed Godknows you better not lay de weight of yo' hand on _me_, Lum.
Here you ain't dry behind de ears yert and come telling _me_ what to
do. Gwan way from here before I kick yo' clothes up round you' neck
like a horse collar.
(Lum goes on back and takes his seat beside the prisoner.)
CLARKE
(glaring ferociously) This court is set and I'm bound to have some
order or else. (The talking ceases. Absolute quiet)
CLARKE
Now less git down to business. We got folks in dis town dat's just
like a snake in de grass.
SISTER BOGER
Brother Mayor! We ain't got no business going into no trial nor
northin' else 'thout a word of prayer--to be sure de right spirit is
wid us.
VOICE ON METHODIST SIDE
Thass right,--Elder Simms, give us a word of prayer. (He rises
hurriedly.)
VOICE ON BAPTIST SIDE
This is a Baptist Church and de pastor is settin' right here--how come
he can't pray in his own church?
VOICE ON METHODIST SIDE
Y'all done started all dis mess--how you going to git de right spirit
here? Go head, Rev. Simms.
VOICE ON BAPTIST SIDE
He can't pray over me. Dis Church says one Lord, one faith, one
Baptism--and a man that ain't never been baptised atall ain't got no
business praying over nobody.
CLARKE
(rapping with gavel) Less sing! Somebody raise a tune.
(VOICE ON BAPTIST SIDE begins "Onward Christian Soldiers" and the
others join in.)
(VOICE ON METHODIST SIDE begins "All hail the power of Jesus name" and
the Methodists join in. Both shout as loud as they can to the end of
the verse.)
(Mayor Clarke raps loudly for order at the end of the verse and lifts
his hands as if to bless a table)
CLARKE
(praying) Lord be withus and bless these few remarks we are about to
receive, Amen. Now this court is open for business. All of us know we
came here on serious business. This town is bout to be tore up by
back-biting and malice. Now everybody that's a witness in this case
stand up. I wants the witness to take the front seat.
(Nearly everybody in the room rises. Brother Hambo frowns across the
aisle at Mrs. McDuffy, who is standing.)
BROTHER HAMBO
Whut _you_ doing standin' up for a witness? I know you wasn't there.
You don't know one thing about it.
SISTER McDUFFY
I got just as much right to testify as you is. I don't keer if I
wasn't there. Any man that treat they wife bad as _you_ can't tell
nobody else they eye is black. You clean round yo' _own_ door before
you go sweeping round other folks.
SISTER LINDSAY
(to Nixon) What you doin' up there testifying? When you done let yo'
hawg root up all my p'tater patch.
NIXON
Aw shut up woman--You ain't had no taters for no pit to root up.
SISTER LINDSAY
Who ain't had no taters? (To Lige) Look here, Lige, didn't I git a
whole crokus sack full of tater slips from yo' brother Sam?
LIGE
(reluctantly) Yeah.
SISTER LINDSAY
Course I had sweet p'taters! And if you stand up there and tell _me_ I
ain't had no p'taters I'll be all over you just like gravy over rice.
NIXON
Aw shut up--We ain't come here to talk about yo' tater vines, we come--
SISTER LINDSAY
(to her husband) Joe! What kind of a husband is you? Set here and let
Nixon 'buse me out lak dat!
WALTER
How is he going to give anybody a straightening when he needs
straightening hisself. I bought a load of compost from him and _paid
for it in advance_ and he come there when I wasn't home and dumped a
half-a-load in there and drove on off wid my money.
SISTER HAMBO
Aw, you ain't got no right to talk, Walter, not low down as you is--if
somebody stump their toe in dis town you won't let yo' shirt-tail
touch you till you bolt over to Maitland and puke yo' guts to de white
folks--and God knows I 'bominates a white folks nigger.
WALTER
Aw you just mad cause I wouldn't let your old starved-out cow eat up
my cow-peas.
SISTER HAMBO
(triumphantly) Unhumh! I knowed you was the one knocked my cow's horn
off! And you lied like a doodle-bug going backwards in his hole and
made out you didn't do it.
WALTER
I didn't do no such a thing.
SISTER HAMBO
I say you did and belong to Macedonia Baptist Church and I can't lie.
WALTER
Yo' mouf is cut cross ways, ain't it? Well then, yo' mouf ain't no
prayer-book even if yo' lips do flap like a Bible. You kin lie and
then re-lie.
DEACON HAMBO
Walter Thomas talk dat biggity talk to me, not to my wife. Maybe you
kin whip her, but if you can't whip me too, don't bring de mess up.
CLARKE
(rapping) Y'all men folks shut up before I put you both under arrest.
Come to order everybody.
LINDSAY
I just wants say this before we go any further. Nobody bet not slur my
wife in here--do I'll strow 'em all over de county.
MRS. NIXON
Aw, youse de nastiest threatener in three states but I ain't seen you
do nothin'. De seat of yo' pants is too close to de ground for you to
be crowin' so loud. You so short you smell right earthy.
MRS. LINDSAY
De seat of yo' husband's britches been draggin' de ground ever since I
knowed him. Don't like it dontcher take it, here's my collar come and
shake it. (She puts the palms of her hands together and holding the
heels together, flaps the fore part of her hands like a gator opening
and shutting its mouth. This infuriates Mrs. Nixon.
CLARKE
Shut up! We didn't come here to wash and iron niggers. We come here
for a trial. (raps)
MRS. NIXON
(to Clarke) I ain't going to shut up nothin' of de kind. Think I'm
going to let her low-rate me and I take it all? Naw indeed. I'm going
to sack dis female out before we any further go.
MRS. LINDSAY
Aw, I done dished you out too many times. Go head on and try to keep
yo' lil squatty husband away from down on de lake wid wimmens and
you'll have _all_ you can do. How does old heavy-hipted mama talk?
(snaps her fingers)
MRS. NIXON
Nobody wouldn't have you if he could get anybody else.
(She makes a circle with her thum and first finger and
holds it up for Mrs. Lindsay to see.) Come thru--don't
you feel cheap?
CLARKE
Sister Nixon, shut up!
SISTER NIXON
You can't shut me up, not the way you live. When you quit beatin Mrs.
Mattie and dominizing her all de time then you kin tell other folks
what to do. You ain't none of my boss. Don't let yo' wooden God and
corn-stalk Jesus fool you now. Now de way you sells rancid bacon for
fresh.
NIXON
Aw, honey, hush a while, please and less git started.
(A momentary quiet falls on the place. Mayor glowers all over the
place. Turns to Lum.)
CLARKE
Lum, git a piece of paper and a pencil and take de names of all de
witnesses _who was dere while de fight was going on_.
LUM
(Pulling a small tablet and pencil out of his coat pocket) I brought
it with me.
CLARKE
Now everybody who was at de fight hold up yo' hands so Lum can know
who you are.
(Several hands go up. Sister Anderson puts up her hand.)
CLARKE
You wasn't there, Sister Anderson, not at that time.
SISTER ANDERSON
I hadn't been gone more'n ten minutes 'fore Dave come in from de
woods.
CLARKE
But you didn't see it.
SISTER ANDERSON
It don't make no difference--my husband heered every word was spoke
and told me jes' lak it happen. Don't tell _me_ I can't testify.
DEACON HAMBO
Nobody can't testify but de two boys cause nobody wuz at de fight but
dem.
SISTER ANDERSON
Dat's all right too, Brother, but I know whut they wuz fightin' about
an' it wudn't no turkey neither. It wuz Daisy Blunt.
MRS. BLUNT
Just you take my chile's name right out yo' mouf, Becky Anderson. She
wuznt out in dat cypress swamp. Leave her out dis mess.
REV. SIMMS
You ain't got no call to be so touchous bout yo' girl, but you sho
said a mouthful, Sister Blunt. Dis sho is a mess. Can't help from
being uh mess. (glares at Mayor) Holdin' a trial in de Baptist Church!
Some folks ain't got sense enough todo 'em till four o'clock and its
way after half past tree right now.
MAYOR
Shet up, dere, Simms! Set down! Who ast yo' pot to boil, nohow! Court
is de best church they is, anyhow, cause you come in court. You better
have a good experience and a strong determination. (raps vigorously)
Now lemme tell _y'all_ something. When de Mayor sets Court--don't keer
when I sets it nor where I sets it, you got to git quiet and stay
quiet till I ast you tuh talk. I God, you sound lak a tree full uh
blackbirds! Dis ain't no barbecue, nor neither no camp meetin'. We
'sembled here tuh law uh boy on a serious charge. (A great buzz rises
from the congregation. Mayor raps hard for order and glares all about
him.) Hear! Hear! All of us kin sing at de same time, but can't but
one of us talk at a time. I'm doin' de talkin' now, so de rest of you
dry up till I git through. I God, you sound lak uh passle uh dog
fights! We ain't here for no form and no fashion and no outside show
to de world. Wese here to law. (to Lum) You done got all de witnesses
straight--Got they names down?
LUM
Yessuh, I got it all straightened out.
CLARKE
Well, read de names out and let de witnesses take de front seats.
LUM
Mr. Clarke, I done found out nobody wasn't at dat fight but Jim and
Dave and de mule bones. Dere's de bone Dave got hit wid up on de
rostrum and deres Jim and Dave in de Amen Corners.
DAVE
(rising excitedly) Mist' Clarke! Brother Mayor, I wants to ast uh
question right now to git some information.
MAYOR
All right, Dave, go head and ast it.
DAVE
Brother Mayor, I wanted to know whut become of my turkey gobbler?
MAYOR
I God, Dave, youse in order. Lum! I God, I been layin' off to ast you
whut you dont wid dat turkey. Where is it?
(A burst of knowing laughter from the house)
LUM
(very embarrassed) Well, when you tole me to go 'rrest Jim and de
turkey, I took and went on round to his ma's house and he wudnt dere
so I took and turnt round and made it t'wards Daisy's house an' I
caught up wid him under dat China-berry tree jest befo' you gits tuh
Daisy's house. He was makin' it on t'wards her house wid de turkey in
one hand--his gun crost his shoulder when I hailed 'im. I hollered
"Jim, hold on dere uh minute!" He dropped de turkey and wheeled and
throwed de gun on me.
MAYOR CLARKE
I God, he drawed uh gon on de City Marshall?
LUM
Yessir! He sho did. Thought I was Dave. Tole me: "Don't you come
another step unless you want to see yuh Jesus." I hollered back "It's
me, I ain't no Dave Carter." So he took de gun offa me and I went up
to him and put him under arrest, and locked him up in yo' barn and
brought _you_ de key, didn't I?
CLARKE
You sho did, but I God, I ast you whut become of de turkey?
LUM
De turkey wasn't picked or nothin', so I put him under 'rrest too,
jus' lak you tole me. (general laughter)
CLARKE
I God, Lum, whut did you _do_ wid de turkey after you put him under
'rrest?
LUM
Jim, he didn't want to come wid me till he could make it to Daisy's
house to give her det turkey but, bein so close up on him till he
couldn't draw his rifle, I throwed my 32:20 in his face an' tole him I
said "Don't you move! Don't you move uh pig do I'll burn you down! I
got my burner cocked dead in yo' face and I'll keer you down jus' lak
good gas went up. Come on wid me!" So I took his rifle and picked up
de turkey and marched him off to yo' cow-lot. Ast him didn't I do it.
I tole him, I said "I know you Westons goes for bad but I'm yo' match.
I said you may be slick but you kin stand another greasing. Now sir! I
ain't skeered uh nobody. I'll put de whole town under 'rrest.
MAYOR CLARKE
I God, Lum, if you don't tell me whut you done wid dat turkey, you
better! (draws back the gavel as if to hurl it at Lum) I'll lam you
over de head wid dis mallet! Whut did you do wid dat gobbler turkey?
LUM
Being as he wasn't picked or nothin', I know you didn't want to be
bothered wid it, so I took and carried it over to Mrs. Blunt's house
and she put on some hot water and we set up way Sat'day night pickin
de turkey and fixin him so nex' day she cooked him off--just sorta
baked him wid a lil stuffin an' such, so he'd keep.
MAYOR CLARKE
Didn't you know my wife knowed how to cook? Go fetch dat turkey here,
and don't let no dead lice fall off of you on de way.
LUM
(extremely embarrassed) I don't speck he's dere now, Mist' Clarke.
CLARKE
(ferociously) How come?
LUM
I passed by dere on Sunday and et a lil piece of shoulder offa him,
an' being everybody else was eatin' turkey too, I et some breast meat
an' uh mouf ful or two of stuffin' an' uh drum stick wid de ham part
of de leg hung on to it wid a lil gravy. (general laughter) I thought
I was doin' right cause [Note: corrected missing space] de turkey was
kilt for Daisy anyhow. So I jus' took it on to her. Dave was all hurt
up and Jim was locked up so--
CLARKE
Dat'll do! Dat'll do! Dry up, Suh! (turns to Dave) Stand up, Dave.
Since youse de one got hurted, you be de first witness and tell me
just whut went on out dere.
(Dave rises slowly.)
SISTER TAYLOR
Dat's right, Dave. Git up dere and lie lak de cross ties from New York
to Texas. You greasy rascal you! You better go wash yo'self before you
go testifying on people.
DAVE
I'm just as clean as you.
REV. SINGLETARY
(jumping to his feet) Wait a minute! Taint none of y'all got no call
to be throwin' off on dis boy. He come here to git justice, not to be
slurred and low-rated. He ain't 'ssaulted nobody. He ain't stole no
turkeys _nor_ chickens. He's a clean boy. He set at my feet in Sunday
school since he was so high, (measures knee height) and he come thru
religion under de sound of my voice an' I baptized him and I know he's
clean.
SISTER TAYLOR
It'll take more'n uh baptizin' to clean dat nigger.
DAVE
I goes in swimmin' nearly every day. I'm just as clean as anybody
else.
SISTER TAYLOR
(Mayor begins rapping for order. She shouts out) Swimmin! Dat ain't
gointer clean de crust offa _you_. You ain't had a good bath since de
devil was a hatchet. If you ain't been parboiled in de wash pot and
scoured wid Red Seal lye, don't bring de mess up.
CLARKE
I'm goin' to have order here or else! Gwan, Dave.
DAVE
It's just lak I tole you Sat'day night.
CLARKE
Yeah, but dat wuz at de store. Dis is in [Note: corrected missing
space] court and it's got to be tole agin.
ELDER SIMMS
Just uh minute, Brother Clarke, before we any further go I wants to
ast de witness uh question dat oughter be answered before he open his
mouf.
MAYOR CLARKE
Whut _kind_ of a question is dat?
SIMMS
Dave, tell de truth. Ain't yo' heart full of envy and malce 'gainst
dis chile? (Gestures towards Jim. Dave shakes his head and starts to
deny the charge but Simms hurries on.) Wait a minute now! Wait till I
git thru. Didn't y'all used to run around everywhere playin' and
singing andeverything till you got so full of envy and malce and
devilment till y'al broke up? Now, Brother Mayor, make him tell de
truth.
DAVE
Yeah, I useter be crazy bout Jim, and we was buddies till he tried to
back bite me wie, wid my girl.
JIM
Never _was_ yo girl. Nohow I ain't none of yo' buddy. I ain't got no
buddy. They kilt my buddy tryin' to raise me. But I did useter lak you
till you acted so low down tryin' to undermine me and root me out wid
my girl.
MAYOR
Aw, table dat business an' less open up new business. We ain't here to
find out whose girl it is. We wants to know 'bout dis fight and who
hit de first lick and how come. Go head on Dave and talk.
DAVE
Well, jus lak I tole yuh, Sat'day night, I been watchin' dat flock uh
wild turkeys ever since way last summer roostin' in de edge of dat
cypress swamp out by Howell Creek, where Brazzle's ole mule was
dragged out. It was a great, bit ole gobbler leadin' de flock. So last
time I seen him I said I was gointer git him for my girl if it taken
me uh year. So Sat'day, kinda late, I grabs ole Hannah, my gun, I
calls her Old Hannah, and come to de store to buy some shells. Y'all
know whut went on at de store. Well, it made me feel lak I wuz
gointergit dat ole gobbler if I had to follow him clean to Diddy war
Diddy or slap into Ginny-Gall. But I didn't have to do nothin'. When I
got out by de ole mule bones, I seen 'em flyin' round lak buzzards. So
I loaded both barrels, squatted down on uh log where I had dead aim on
dat big ole cypress pine where they roosts at. Sho nuff, soon's de sun
had done set, here dey come followin' de leader'. He lit way out on de
end of de limb kinda off from de rest and I eased ole Hannah up on
him. Man! I got so skeered I wuz gointer miss him till I got de all
overs. He gobbled two three times to see if all his fambly was safed
den he settled down and bam! I let him have it! He spread his wings
lak he wuz gointer fly on off an' I _cried_ lak a chile! But I got him
alright and down he come floppin, and me grabbin him before he quit
kickin. Gee, I was proud. He felt lak he weighed forty pounds. Whilst
I was kinda heftin him in my hands I heard uh rifle fire and I looked
and dere was Jim firin into de turkey flock dat was flyin round
skeered. He didn't hit a God's thing, but he seen me wid my gobbler
and come runnin up talking bout give him his turkey. I ast him "who
turkey you talkin bout?[Note: missing double quote?] He says dat one
of hisn I hed done grabbed. I tole him he must gone crazy in de head.
He says, I better give him his turkey before he beat my head off. I
tole him I wasn't gointer give nobody but Daisy Blunt dat turkey.
Otherwise, if he wanted to try my head, I wasn't runnin uh damn step.
Come on. So he jumped on me and tried to snatch de turkey. We fit all
over de place. First we was just tusslin for de bird, but when he
found out he couldn't take it he hit me wid his fist. Den I ups wid my
African soup bone and I bet I plowed up uh acre uh bushes wid his
head. He hit ker-bam! right in dat pack uh mule bones and I turnt and
started off, when lo and behold, he gits up wid dat hock bone and lams
me in de head and when I come to, him and my turkey was gone. So I
come swore out uh warrant aginst him cause didn't fight fair. I ain't
mad. I always lakted Jim, but he sho done dirty--lammin me wid uh mule
bone and takin' [Note: corrected missing space] my turkey.
(Dave resumes his seat and Jim drops his head for a moment, then
snatches it up arrogantly and glares at the Baptists. The whole place
is very silent for a moment. Then Mayor Clarke clears his throat, raps
with his gavel and looks sternly at Jim.)
CLARKE
Jim Weston, stand up suh! (Jim rises sullenly.) Youse charged wid
'saulting Dave Carter wid uh dangerous weapon and then stealin his
lawful turkey gobbler. You heard de charge--guilty or not guilty?
JIM
(arrogantly) Yeah, I hit him and I'll hit him agin if he crowd me. But
I ain't guilty uh no crime. (He hitches up his pants and sits down
arrogantly.)
CLARKE
(surprised) Whuts dat you say, Jim? (raps sharply) Git up from there
sir! Whuts dat you say?
JIM
(rising) I say, heah, I lammed ole Dave wid de mule bone, but I ain't
guilty uh nothin.
(There is a stark silence for a few seconds. Then Clarke raps
nervously.)
CLARKE
How come you ain't guilty?
(Jim sits down amid jubilant smiles of Methodists. Simms chuckles out
loud and wipes his face with his handkerchief. He gets to his feet
still gloating.)
SIMMS
(to Jim) Set down, Jim, and lemme show dese people dat walks in de
darkness wid sinners an' republicans de light.
SINGLETARY
You just as well tuh hush up befo' you start, then, Simms. You can't
show nobody uh light when you ain't got none tuh show.
HAMBO
Ain't dat de gospel?
NIXON
Aw, let de man talk. Y'all sound lak uh tree full uh blackbirds. Go
head on, Elder Simms.
WALTER
Yeah, you can't teach 'em nothin' but talk on. We know whut you
talkin' about.
CLARKE
(raps once or twice) I God, tell it. Whut ever tis you got tuh tell.
SISTER LEWIS
An yeah, hurry up and tell it. I know it ain't goin' tuh be nothin'
after you git it told but hurry up and say it so yo' egg-bag kin rest
easy.
WALTER
Aw shut up an' give de man uh chance.
SISTER LEWIS
My shetters ain't workin' good. Sposin' you come shet me up, Walter.
Den you'll know it's done right.
LIGE
Aw, whyn't y'all ack lak folks an' leave de man talk.
CLARKE
(rapping repeatedly) Order in dis court, I God, jus' like you was in
Orlando! (Silence falls.) Now, Simms, talk yo' chat.
SIMMS
(glances down into his open Bible then looks all around the room with
great deliberation. It is evident he enjoys being the center of
attraction. He smiles smugly as he turns his face towards the pulpit.
He speaks slowly and accents his words so that none will be lost on
his audience.) De Bible says, be sho' you're right, then go ahead. (He
looks all around to collect the admiration he feels he has earned.)
Now, we all done gethered and 'sembled here tuh law dis young lad of
uh boy on uh might serious charge. Uh whole passle of us is rarin tuh
drive him way from home lak you done done off his daddy an' his
brothers.
HAMBO
We never drove off his pappy. De white folks took an' hung him for
killin' dat man [Note: corrected missing space?] in Kissimmee for
nothin'.
SIMMS
Dat ain't de point, brother Hambo.
HAMBO
It's jes' as good uh point as any. If you gointer talk--tell de truth.
An if you can't tell de truth, set down an' leave Rev. Singletary
talk.
SIMMS
Brother Mayor, how come you let dese people run they mouf
lak uh passle uh cow-bells? Ain't I got de floor? I ain't no
breath-and-britches. I was _people_ in Middle Georgy befo' I ever come
to Floridy. Whut kind of Chairman is you, nohow?
CLARKE
(angrily) Heah! Heah! Don't you come tryin' show yo'self round me! I
God, I don't keer whut you wuz in Georgy. I God, I kin eat fried
chicken when you [Note: corrected missing spaces] caint git rain water
tuh drink. Hurry up an' say dat mess you got in yo' craw an' set down.
We needs yo' space more than we needs yo' comp'ny.
NIXON
Don't let him skeer you, Elder Sims. You got plenty shoulders tuh back
yo' fallin.
HAMBO
Well, each an' every shoulder kin hit de ground an' I'll git wid 'em.
Don't like it dontcher take, here my collar come an' shake it.
WALTER
Hambo, everybody in Orange County knows you love tuh fight. But dis is
uh law hearin'--not no wrassle.
HAMBO
Oh you Methdis' niggers wants tuh fight bad enough, but youse skeered.
Youse jus' as hot as Tucker when de mule kicked his mammy. But you
know you got plenty coolers.
SISTER TAYLOR
Aw, taint nobody skeered uh you half-pint Baptists. God knows Ahm
ready an' willin'. (She glares at Mrs. Lewis.)
(Sister Lewis jumps to her feet but is pulled back into her seat.
Mayor Clarke raps for order and the room gets quiet.)
CLARKE
Aw right now, Simms. I God, git through.
SIMMS
(pompously) Now, y'all done up an' took dis po' boy an' had him locked
up in uh barn ever since Sat'day night an' done got him 'coused uh
assault an' stealing uh turkey an' I don't know whut all an' you ain't
got no business wid yo' hands on him stell. He ain't done no crime,
an' if y'all knowed anything 'bout law, I wouldn't have tuh tell you so.
CLARKE
I God, he is done uh crime and he's gointer ketch it, too.
SIMMS
But not by law, Brother Mayor. You tryin' tuh lay uh hearin' on dis
boy an' you can't do it cause he ain't broke no law--I don't keer whut
he done so long as he don't break no law you can't tetch him.
SINGLETARY
He committed assault, didn't he? Dat sho is breakin' de law.
SIMMS
Naw, he ain't committed no 'sault. He jus' lammed Dave over de head
an' took his own turkey an' come on home, dat's all. (triumphantly)
Yuh see y'll don't knoww whut you talkin' 'bout. Now, I done set in de
court house an' heard de white folks law from mornin' till night. (He
flips his Bible shut.) I done read dis book from lid tuh lid an' I
knows de law. You got tuh have uh weepon tuh commit uh 'sault. An'
taint in no white folks law an taint in dis Bible dat no mule bone is
no weapon. I
CLARKE
(after a moment of dead silence) I God, whut's dat you say?
SIMMS
(sitting down and crossing his legs and folding his hands upon his
Bible) You heard me. I say you ain't got no case 'ginst dis boy an'
you got tuh turn him go.
SINGLETARY
(jumping up) Brother Chairman--
CLARKE
(raps once and nods recognition) You got de floor.
SINGLETARY
I ain't book-learnt an' I ain't rubbed de hair offen my head agin no
college wall, but I know when uh 'sault been committed. I says Jim
Weston did 'sault Davie. (He points at Dave's head.) An' steal his
turkey. Everybody knows Jim can't hunt wid Dave. An' he 'saulted Dave
too.
SIMMS
(arrogantly) Prove it!
(Singletary stands there silent and puzzled. The Methodist side breaks
into a triumphant shout of "Oh Mary, don't you weep, don't you moan,
Pharaoh's army got drownded." Singletary sinks into his seat. When
they have shouted out three choruses, Simms arises to speak.)
I move dat we sing doxology and bring dis meetin' to uh close. We'se
all workin' people, Brother Mayor. Dismiss us so we kin gwan back to
our work. De sun is two hours high yet. (looks towards the Methodist
side) I move dat we adjourn.
WALTER
I second de motion.
SINGLETARY
(arising slowly) Hold on there uh minute wid dat motion. Dis ain't no
lodge meetin'. Dis is uh court an' bofe sides got uh right tuh talk.
(motions towards Simms' Bible) Youse uh letter learnt man but I kin
read dat Bible some too. Lemme take it uh minute.
SIMMS
I ain't gointer do it. Any preacher dat amounts to uh hill uh beans
would have his own Bible.
CLARKE
I God, Singletary, you right here in yo' own church. Come on up here
an' read out yo' pulpit Bible. I God, don't mind me being up here.
Come on up.
(A great buzzing breaks out all over the church as Singletary mounts
the pulpit. Clarke raps for order. Simms begins to turn the leaves of
the Bible.)
SIMMS
Brother Mayor, you oughter let us outa here. You ain't got no case
'ginst dis boy. Don't waste our time for nothin'. Leave us go home.
CLARKE
Aw, dry up, Simms. You done talked yo' talk. I God, leave Singletary
talk his. (to Singletary) Step on out when you ready, Rev.
REV. SINGLETARY
(Reading) It says here in Judges 18:18 dat Samson slewed three
thousand [Note: corrected missing space] Philistines wid de jawbone of
an ass.
SIMMS
(on his feet) Yeah, but dis wasn't no ass. Dis was uh mule, Brother
Mayor. Dismiss dis meetin' and less all go home.
SINGLETARY
Yeah, but he was half-ass. A ass is uh mule's daddy and he's biggern
uh ass, too. (emphatic gestures) Everybody knows dat--even de lil
chillun.
SIMMS
(standing) Yeah, but we didn't come here to talk about no asses,
neither no half asses, nor no mule daddies. (laughter from de
Methodists) We come to law uh boy for 'sault an' larceny.
SINGLETARY
(very patiently) We'se comin' to dat pint now. Dat's de second claw uh
de sentence wese expoundin'. I say Jim Weston did have uh weepon in
his hand when he 'saulted Dave. Cause y'all knows if de daddy is
dangerous, den de son is dangerous too. An' y'all knows dat de further
back you gits on uh mule de more dangerous he gits an' if de jawbone
slewed three thousand people, by de time you gits back tuh his hocks,
its pizen enough tuh kill ten thousand. Taint no gun in de world ever
kilt dat many mens. Taint no knives nor no razors ever kilt no three
thousand people. Now, folkses, I ast y'all whut kin be mo' dangarous
dan uh mule bone? (to Clarke) Brother Mayor, Jim didn't jes' lam Dave
an walk off. (very emphatic) He 'saulted him wid de deadliest weepon
there is in de world an' while he was layin' unconscious, he stole his
turkey an' went. Brother Mayor, he's uh criminal an' oughter be run
outa dis peaceful town.
(Great chorus of approval from Baptist Clarke begins to rap for
order.)
SIMMS
(attending) Brother Mayor, I object. I have studied jury and I know
what I'm talkin' about.
CLARKE
Aw dry up, Simms. Youse entirely out of order. You may be slick, but
you kin stand another greasing. Rev. Singletary is right. I God, I
knows de law when I hear it. Stand up dere, Jim.
(Jim rises very slowly. Simms rises also.)
CLARKE
Set down, Simms. I God, I know where to find you when I want you.
(Simms sits.) Jim, I find you guilty as charged an' I wants you to git
outa my town and stay gone for two years. (to Lum) Brother Marshall,
you see dat he gits outa town befo' dark. An' you folks dats so
anxious to fight, git on off dis church grounds befo' you start. And
don't use no knives and no guns and no mule bones. Court's dismissed.
_CURTAIN_
ACT III
Scene I
SETTING: Curtain goes up on a stretch of railroad track with a
luxurious Florida forest on the backdrop. Entrances left and right. It
is near sundown.
ACTION: When the curtain goes up there is no one on the stage, but
there is a tremendous noise and hub-bub off stage right. There are
yells of derision, shouts of anger. Part of the mob is trying to keep
Jim in town and a part is driving him off. After a full minute of
this, Jim enters with his guitar hanging around his neck and his coat
over his shoulder. The sun is dropping low and red thru the forest. He
is looking back angrily and shouting back at the mob. A small missile
is thrown after him. Jim drops his coat and guitar and grabs up a
piece of brick and threatens to throw it.
JIM
(Running back the way he came and hurls the brick with all his might.)
I'll kill some of youole box-ankled niggers--(grabs up another piece
of brick) I'm out yo' ole town--now jus' some of you ole half-pint
Baptists let yo' wooden God and Cornstalk Jesus fool you to hit me!
(Threatens to throw. There are some frightened screams and the mob is
heard running back.) I'm glad I'm out yo' ole town, anyhow. I ain't
never comin' back no more, neither. You ole ugly-rump niggers done
ruint de town anyhow.
(There is complete silence off stage. Jim walks a few steps then sits
down on the railroad embankment facing the audience. Jim pulls off one
shoe and pours the sand out. He holds the shoe in his hand a moment
and looks wistfully back down the railroad track.)
JIM
Lawd, folks sho is deceitful. (He puts on the shoe and looks back down
the track again.) I never woulda thought people woulda acted lak dat.
(Laces up the shoe) Specially Dave Carter, much as me an' him done
proaged round together goin' in swimmin' and playin' ball an'
serenadin' de girls an' de white folks.
(He sits there gloomily silent for a while, then looks behind him and
picks up his guitar and begins to pick a tune. It is very sad. He
trails off into "You may leave an' go to Halimuhfack." When he
finishes he looks back at the sun and picks up his coat also.)
I never woulda thought people woulda acted lak dat. (laces up the
shoe) Specially Dave Carter, much as me an' him done proaged round
together, goin' in swimmin' and playin' ball an' serenadin' de girls
an' de white folks. (He sits there gloomily silent for a while then
looks behind him and picks up his guitar and beings to pick a tune. It
is very sad. He trails off into "You may leave and go to Halimuhfack."
When he finishes he looks back at the sun and picks up his coat also.)
(He looks back again towards the village.) Reckon I better git on down
de road an' git somewhere, Lawd knows where. (stops suddenly in his
tracks and turns back towards the village and takes a step or two.)
All dat mess and stink for nothin'. Dave knows good an' well I didn't
mean to hurt him much. (He takes off his cap and scratches his head
thoroughly, then turns again and starts on down the road towards left.
Enter Daisy left walking briskly.)
DAISY
Hello, Jim.
JIM
Hello, Daisy.
(Embarrassed silence)
DAISY
I was just coming over town to see how you come out.
JIM
You don't have to go way over there to find dat out--you and Dave done
got me run outa town for nothin'.
DAISY
(Putting her hand on his arm) Dey didn't run you outa town, did dey?
JIM
(Shaking her hand off) Whut you reckon I'm countin' Mr. Railroad's
ties for--just to find out how many ties between here and Orlando?
DAISY
(Hand on his arm again) Dey _cain't_ run you off like dat!
JIM
Take yo' hands off me, Daisy! How come they can't run me off wid you
and Dave an'--_everybody_ gainst me?
DAISY
I ain't opened my moff 'gainst you, Jim. I ain't said one word--I
wasn't even at de old trial. My madame wouldn't let me git off. I wuz
just comin' to see 'bout you now.
JIM
Aw, go 'head on. You figgered I was gone too long to talk about. You
was haulin' it over to town to see Dave--dat's whut was doin'--after
gittin _me_ all messed up.
DAISY
(Making as if to cry) I wasn't studying 'bout no Dave.
JIM
(Hopefully) Aw, don't tell me. (Sings) Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,
show me a woman that a man can trust.
(Daisy is crying now.)
JIM
Whut you crying for? You know you love Dave. I'm yo' monkey-man. He
always could do more wid you that I could.
DAISY
Naw, you ain't no monkey-man neither. I don't want you to leave town.
I didn't want y'all to be fightin' over me, nohow.
JIM
Aw, rock on down de road wid dat stuff. A two-timing cloaker like you
don't keer whut come off. Me and Dave been good friends ever since we
was born till you had to go flouncing yourself around.
DAISY
What did I do? All I did was to come over town to see you and git a
mouf-ful of gum. Next thing I now y'all is fighting and carrying on.
JIM
(stands silent for a while) Did you come over there Sat'day to see me
sho nuff, sugar babe?
DAISY
Everybody could see dat but you.
JIM
Just like I told you, Daisy. I'll say it before yo' face and behind
yo' back. I could kiss you every day--just as regular as pig-bracks.
DAISY
And I tole you I could stand it too--justa s regular as you could.
JIM
(Catching her by the arm and pulling her down with him onto the rail)
Set, down here, Daisy. Less talk some chat. You want me sho
nuff--honest to God?
DAISY
(coyly) 'Member whut I told you out on de lake last summer?
JIM
Sho nuff, Daisy?
(Daisy nods smilingly.)
JIM
(Sadly) But I got to go 'way. Whut we gointer to 'bout dat?
DAISY
Where you goin', Jim?
JIM
(Looking sadly down the track) God knows.
(Off stage from the same direction from which Jim entered comes the
sound of whistling and tramping of feet on the ties.)
JIM
(Brightening) Dat's Dave! (Frowning suspiciously) Wonder whut he doin'
walking dis track? (Looks accusingly at Daisy) I bet he's goin' to yo'
work-place.
DAISY
Whut for?
JIM
He ain't goin' to see de madame--must be goin' to see you. (He starts
to rise petulantly as Dave comes upon the scene. Daisy rises also.)
DAVE
(Looks accusingly from one to the other) Whut y'all jumpin' up
for? I....
JIM
Whut you got to do wid us business? Tain't none of yo' business if we
stand up, set down or fly like a skeeter hawk.
DAVE
Who said I keered? Dis railroad belongs to de _man_--I kin walk it
good as you, can't I?
JIM
(Laughing exultantly) Oh yeah, Mr. Do-Dirty! You figgered you had done
run me on off so you could git Daisy all by yo'self. You was headin'
right for her work-place.
DAVE
I wasn't no such a thing.
JIM
You was. Didn't I lear you coming down de track all whistling and
everything?
DAVE
Youse a big old Georgy-something-ain't-so! I done got my belly full of
Daisy Sat'day night. She can't snore in my ear no more.
DAISY
(Indignantly) Whut you come here low-rating me for, Dave Carter? I
ain't done nothin' to you but treat you white. Who come rubbed yo' ole
head for you yestiddy if it wasn't me?
DAVE
Yeah, you rubbed my head all right, and I lakted dat. But everybody
say you done toted a pan to Joe Clark's barn for Jim before I seen
you.
DAISY
Think I was going to let Jim there thout nothing fitten for a dog to
eat?
DAVE
That's all right, Daisy. If you want to pay Jim for r knockin' me in
de head, all right. But I'm a man in a class--in a class to myself and
nobody knows my name.
JIM
(Snatching Daisy around to face him) Was you over to Dave's house
yestiddy rubbing his ole head and cloaking wid him to run me outa
town--and me locked up in dat barn wid de cows and mules?
DAISY
(Sobbing) All both of y'all hollerin' at me an' fussin' me just
cause I tries to be nice--and neither one of y'all don't keer
nothin' bout me.
(Both boys glare at each other over Daisy's head and both try to hug
her at the same time. She violently wrenches herself away from both
and makes as if to move on.)
Leave me go! Take yo' rusty pams offen me. I'm going on back to my
work-place. I just got off to see bout y'all and look how y'all
treat me.
JIM
Wait a minute, Daisy. I love you like God loves Gabriel--and dat's His
best angel.
DAVE
Daisy, I love you harder than detthunder can bump a stump--if I
don't--God's a gopher.
DAISY
(Brightening) Dat's de first time you ever said so.
DAVE and JIM
Who?
JIM
Whut you hollering "who" for? Yo' foot don't fit no limb.
DAVE
Speak when you spoken to--come when you called, next fall you'll be my
coon houn' dog.
JIM
Table dat discussion. (Turning to Daisy) You ain't never give me no
chance to talk wid you right.
DAVE
You made _me_ feel like you was trying to put de Ned book on me all de
time. Do you love me sho nuff, Daisy?
DAISY
(Blooming again into coquetry) Aw, y'all better stop dat. You know you
don't mean it.
DAVE
Who don't mean it? Lemme tell you something, mama, if you was mine I
wouldn't have you counting no ties wid yo' pretty lil toes. Know whut
I'd do?
DAISY
(Coyly) Naw, whut would you do?
DAVE
I'd buy a whole passenger train and hire some mens to run it for you.
DAISY
(Happily) Oo-ooh, Dave.
JIM
(to Dave)
De wind may blow, de door may slam
Dat whut you shootin' ain't worth a dam.
(to Daisy) I'd buy you a great big ole ship--and then baby, I'd buy
you a ocean to[Note: corrected missing space] sail yo' ship on.
DAISY
(Happily) Oo-ooh, Jim.
DAVE
(to Jim)
A long train, a short caboose
Dat lie whut you shootin', ain't no use.
(to Daisy) Miss Daisy, know what I'd do for you?
DAISY
Naw, whut?
DAVE
I'd like uh job cleanin out de Atlantic Ocean jus for you.
DAISY
Don't fool me now, papa.
DAVE
I couldn't fool _you_, Daisy, cause anything I say bout lovin' you, I
don't keer how big it is, it wouldn't be half de truth. Y
DAVE
I'd come down de river riding a mud cat and leading a minnow.
DAISY
Lawd, Dave, you sho is propaganda.
JIM
(Peevishly) Naw he ain't--he's just lying--he's a noble liar. Know
whut I'd do if you was mine?
DAISY
Naw, Jim.
JIM
I'd make a panther wash yo' dishes and a 'gator chop yo' wood for you.
DAVE
Daisy, how come you [Note: corrected missing space] let Jim lie lak
dat? He's as big a liar as he is a [Note: corrected missing space]
man. But sho nuff now, laying all sides to jokes, Jim, there don't
even know how to answer you. If you don't b'lieve it, ast him
something.
DAISY
(to Jim) You like me much, Jim?
JIM
(Enthusiastically) Yeah, Daisy, I sho do.
DAVE
(Triumphant) See dat! I tole you he didn't know how to answer nobocy
like you. If he was talking to some of them ol' funny looking gals
over town he'd be answering 'em just right. But he got to learn how to
answer _you_. Now you ast _me_ something and see how I answer you.
DAISY
Do you like me, Dave?
DAVE
(Very properly in a falsetto voice) Yes ma'am! Dat's de way to answer
swell folks like you. Furthermore, less we prove which one [Note:
corrected missing space] of us love you de best right now. (To Jim)
Jim, how much time owuld you do on de chain-gang for dis 'oman?
JIM
Twenty years and like it.
DAVE
See dat, Daisy? Dat nigger ain't willing to do no time for you. I'd
_beg_ de judge to gimme life. (Both Jim and Dave laugh)
DAISY
Y'all doin' all dis bookooing out here on de railroad track but I bet
y'all crazy 'bout Bootsie and Teets and a whole heap of others.
JIM
Cross my feet and hope to die! I'd ruther see all de other wimmenfolks
in de world dead than for[Note: corrected missing space] you to have de
tooth-ache.
DAVE
If I was dead any any other woman come near my coffin de undertaker
would have to do his job all over--cause I'd git right up and walk
off. Furthermore, Miss Daisy, ma'am, also m'am, which would _you_
ruther be a lark a flying or a dove a settin'--ma'am also ma'am?
DAISY
'Course I'd ruther be a dove.
JIM
Miss Daisy, ma'am, also ma'am--if you marry dis nigger over my head,
I'm going to git me a green hickory club and season it over yo' head.
DAVE
Don't you be skeered, baby--papa kin take keer a _you_. (to Jim)
Counting from de finger (suiting the action to the word) back to the
thumb--start anything I got you some.
JIM
Aw, I don't want no more fight wid you, Dave.
DAVE
Who said anything about fighting? We just provin' who love Daisy de
best. (to Daisy) Now, which one of us you think love you de best?
DAISY
Deed I don't know, Dave.
DAVE
Baby, I'd walk de water for you--and tote a mountain on my head while
I'm walkin'.
JIM
Know whut I'd do, honey babe? If you was a thousand miles from home
and you didn't have no ready-made money and you had to walk all de
way, walkin' till yo' feet start to rolling, just like a wheel, and I
was riding way up in de sky, I'd step backwards offa dat airyplane
just to walk home wid you.
DAISY
(Falling on Jim's neck) Jim, when you talk to me like dat I just can't
stand it. Less us git married right now.
JIM
Now you talkin' like a blue-back speller. Less go!
DAVE
(Sadly) You gointer leave me lak dis, Daisy?
DAISY
(Sadly) I likes you, too, Dave, I sho do. But I can't marry both of
y'all at de same time.
JIM
Aw, come on, Daisy--sun's gettin' low. (He starts off pulling Daisy.)
DAVE
Whut's I'm gointer do? (Walking after them)
JIM
Gwan back and hunt turkeys--you make out you so touchous nobody can't
tell you yo' eye is black thout you got to run git de law.
DAVE
(Almost tearfully) Aw Jim, shucks! Where y'all going?
(Daisy comes to an abrupt halt and stops Jim)
DAISY
That's right, Honey. Where _is_ we goin' sho nuff?
JIM (Sadly)
Deed I don't know, baby. They just sentenced [Note: corrected missing
space] me to go--they didn't say where and I don't know.
DAISY
How we goin' know how to go when [Note: corrected missing space] we
don't know where we goin'?
(Jim looks at Dave as if he expects some help but Dave stands sadly
silent. Jim takes a few steps forward as if to go on. Daisy makes a
step or two, unwillingly, then looks behind her and stops. Dave looks
as if he will follow them.)
DAISY
Jim! (He stops and turns) Wait a minute! Whut we gointer do when we
git there?
JIM
Where?
DAISY
Where we goin'?
JIM
I done tole you I don't know where it is.
DAISY
But how we gointer git something to eat and a place to stay?
JIM
Play my box for de white folks and dance just like I been doing.
DAISY
You can't take keer of me on dat, not where we hafta pay rent.
JIM
(Looks appealingly at Dave, then away quickly) Well, I can't help
_dat_, can I?
DAISY
(Brightly) I tell you whut, Jim! Less us don't go nowhere. They
sentenced you to leave Eatonville and youse almost a mile from de city
limits already. Youse in Maitland now. Supposin' you come live on de
white folks' place wid me after we git married. Eatonville ain't got
nothin' to do wid you livin' in Maitland.
JIM
Dat's a good idea, Daisy.
DAISY
(Jumping into his arms) And lissen, honey, you don't have to be
beholden to nobody. You can throw dat ole box away if you want to. I
know where you can get a _swell_ job.
JIM
(Sheepishly) Doin' whut? (Looks lovingly at his guitar)
DAISY
(Almost dancing) Yard man. All you have to do is wash windows, and
sweep de sidewalk, and scrub off de steps and porch and hoe up de
weeds and rake up de leaves and dig a few holes now and then with a
spade--to plant some trees and things like that. It's a good steady
job.
JIM
(After a long deliberation) You see, Daisy, de mayor and corporation
told me to go on off and I oughter go.
DAISY
Well, I'm not going tippin' down no railroad track like a Maltese cat.
I wasn't brought up knockin' round from here to yonder.
JIM
Well, I wasn't brought up wid no spade in my hand--and ain't going to
start it now.
DAISY
But sweetheart, we got to live, ain't we? We got to git hold of money
before we kin do anything. I don't mean to stay in de white folks'
kitchen all my days.
JIM
Yeah, all dat's true, but you couldn't buy a flea a waltzing jacket
wid de money _I'm_ going to make wid a hoe and spade.
DAISY
(Getting tearful) You don't want me. You don't love me.
JIM
Yes, I do, darling, I love you. Youse de one letting a spade come
between us. (He caresses her.) I loves you and you only. You don't see
_me_ dragging a whole gang of farming tools into us business, do you?
DAISY
(stiffly) Well, I ain't going to marry no man that ain't going to work
and take care of me.
JIM
I don't mind working if de job ain't too heavy for me. I ain't going
to bother wid nothin' in my hands heavier than dis box--and I totes it
round my neck 'most of de time. I kin go out and hunt you some game
when times gits tight.
DAISY
Don't strain yo'self huntin' nothin' for me. I ain't goin' to eat
nobody's settin' hen. (She turns to DAVE finally.)
JIM
Whut ole sittin hen? Ain't you and Lum done et up de turkey
I--I--bought?
DAISY
You might of brought it, but Dave sho kilt it. You couldn't hit de
side of uh barn wid uh bass fiddle.
DAVE
Course I kilt it, and I kilt it for you, but I didn't kill none for
Lum Boger. De clean head hound!
(Daisy turns to Dave finally)
DAISY
Well, I reckon you loves me the best anyhow. You wouldn't talk to me
like Jim did, would you, Dave?
DAVE
Naw, I wouldn't say whut he said a-tall.
DAISY
(Cuddling up to him) Whut would _you_ say, honey?
DAVE
I'd say dat box was too heavy for me to fool wid. I wouldn't tote
nothing my gun and my hat and I feel like I'm 'busing myself sometie
totin' dat.
DAISY
(Outraged) Don't you mean to work none?
DAVE
Wouldn't hit a lick at a snake.
DAISY
I don't blame _you_, Dave (looks down at his feet) cause toting dem
feet of yourn is enough to break down your constitution.
DAVE
They carries me wherever I wants to go. Daisy, you marry Jim cause I
don't want to come between y'all. He's my buddy.
JIM
Come to think of it, Dave, she was yourn first. You take and handle
dat spade for her.
DAVE
You heard her say it is all I can do to lift up dese feets and put 'em
down. Where I'm going to git any time to wrassle wid any hoes and
shovels? You kin git round better'n me. You done won Daisy--I give in.
I ain't going to bite no friend of mine in de back.
DAISY
Both of you niggers can git yo' hat en' yo' heads an' git on down de
road. Neither one of y'all don't have to have me. I got a good job and
plenty men begging for yo' chance.
JIM
Dat's right, Daisy, you go git you one them mens whut don't mind
smelling mules--and beating de white folks to de barn every morning. I
don't wanta be bothered wid nothin' but dis box.
DAVE
And I can't strain wid nothin' but my feets and my gun. I kin git mo'
turkey gobblers, but never no job.
(Daisy walks slowly away in the direction from which she came. Both
watch her a little wistfully for a minute. The sun is setting.)
DAVE
Guess I better be gitin' on back--it's most dark. Where you goin, Jim?
JIM
I don't know, Dave. Down de road, I reckon.
DAVE
Whyncher come on back to town? Taint no use you proagin' up and down
[Note: corrected missing space] de railroad track when you got a home.
JIM
They done lawed me way from it for hittin' you wid dat bone.
DAVE
Dat ain't nothin'. It was my head you hit. An' if I don't keer whut
dem ole ugly-rump niggers got to do wid it?
JIM
They might not let me come in town.
DAVE
(Seizing Jim's arm and facing him back toward the town.) They better!
Look here, Jim, if they try to keep you out dat town we'll go out to
dat swamp and git us a mule bone a piece and come back and boil dat
stew down to a low gravy.
JIM
You mean dat Dave? (Dave nods his head eagerly.)
DAVE
Us wasn't mad wid one 'nother nohow. Come on less go back to town. Dem
mullet heads better leave me be, too. (Picks up a heavy stick) I wish
Lum would come tellin' me bout de law when I got all dis law in _my_
hands. An' de rest of dem 'gator-face jigs--if they ain't got a whole
set of mule bones and a good determination they better not bring de
mess up.
CURTAIN
THE MULE-BONE
A COMEDY OF NEGRO LIFE IN
THREE ACTS
BY
LANGSTON HUGHES and ZORA HURSTON
CHARACTERS
JIM WESTON: Guitarist, Methodist, slightly arrogant, agressive,
somewhat self-important, ready with his tongue.
DAVE CARTER: Dancer, Baptist, soft, happy-go-lucky character,
slightly dumb and unable to talk rapidly and
wittily.
DAISY TAYLOR: Methodist, domestic servant, plump, dark and sexy,
self-conscious of clothes and appeal, fickle.
JOE CLARK: The Mayor, storekeeper and postmaster, arrogant,
ignorant and powerful in a self-assertive way,
large, fat man, Methodist.
ELDER SIMMS: Methodist minister, newcomer in town, ambitious,
small and fly, but not very intelligent.
ELDER CHILDERS: Big, loose-jointed, slow spoken but not dumb. Long
resident in the town, calm and sure of himself.
KATIE CARTER: Dave's aunt, little old wizened dried-up lady.
MRS. HATTIE CLARK: The Mayor's wife, fat and flabby mulatto
high-pitched voice.
THE MRS. REV. SIMMS: Large and agressive.
THE MRS. REV. Just a wife who thinks of details.
CHILDERS:
LUM BOGER: Young town marshall about twenty, tall, gangly,
with big flat feet, liked to show off in public.
TEET MILLER: Village vamp who is jealous of DAISY.
LIGE MOSELY: A village wag.
WALTER THOMAS: Another village wag.
ADA LEWIS: A promiscuous lover.
DELLA LEWIS: Baptist, poor housekeeper, mother of ADA.
BOOTSIE PITTS: A local vamp.
MRS. DILCIE ANDERSON: Village housewife, Methodist.
WILLIE NIXON: Methodist, short runt.
ACT I
SETTING: The raised porch of JOE CLARK'S Store and the street in
front. Porch stretches almost completely across the stage, with a
plank bench at either end. At the center of the porch three steps
leading from street. Rear of porch, center, door to the store. On
either side are single windows on which signs, at left, "POST OFFICE",
and at right, "GENERAL STORE" are painted. Soap boxes, axe handles,
small kegs, etc., on porch on which townspeople sit and lounge during
action. Above the roof of the porch the "false front", or imitation
second story of the shop is seen with large sign painted across it
"JOE CLARK'S GENERAL STORE". Large kerosine street lamp on post at
right in front of porch.
Saturday afternoon and the villagers are gathered around the store.
Several men sitting on boxes at edge of porch chewing sugar cane,
spitting tobacco juice, arguing, some whittling, others eating
peanuts. During the act the women all dressed up in starched dresses
parade in and out of store. People buying groceries, kids playing in
the street, etc. General noise of conversation, laughter and children
shouting. But when the curtain rises there is momentary lull for
cane-chewing. At left of porch four men are playing cards on a soap
box, and seated on the edge of the porch at extreme right two children
are engaged in a checker game, with the board on the floor between
them.
When the curtain goes up the following characters are discovered on
the porch: MAYOR JOE CLARK, the storekeeper; DEACON HAMBO; DEACON
GOODWIN; Old Man MATT BRAZZLE; WILL CODY; SYKES JONES; LUM BOGER, the
young town marshall; LIGE MOSELY and WALTER THOMAS, two village wags;
TOM NIXON and SAM MOSELY, and several others, seated on boxes, kegs,
benches and floor of the porch. TONY TAYLOR is sitting on steps of
porch with empty basket. MRS. TAYLOR comes out with her arms full of
groceries, empties them into basket and goes back in store. All the
men are chewing sugar cane earnestly with varying facial expressions.
The noise of the breaking and sucking of cane can be clearly heard in
the silence. Occasionally the laughter and shouting of children is
heard nearby off stage.
HAMBO: (To BRAZZLE) Say, Matt, gimme a jint or two of dat green
cane--dis ribbon cane is hard.
LIGE: Yeah, and you ain't got de chears in yo' parlor you useter have.
HAMBO: Dat's all right, Lige, but I betcha right now wid dese few
teeth I got I kin eat up more cane'n you kin grow.
LIGE: I know you kin and that's de reason I ain't going to tempt you.
But youse gettin' old in lots of ways--look at dat bald-head--just as
clean as my hand. (Exposes his palm).
HAMBO: Don't keer if it tis--I don't want nothin'--not even
hair--between me and God. (General laughter--LIGE joins in as well.
Cane chewing keeps up. Silence for a moment.)
(Off stage a high shrill voice can be heard calling:)
VOICE: Sister Mosely, Oh, Sister Mosely! (A pause) Miz Mosely! (Very
irritated) Oh, Sister Mattie! You hear me out here--you just won't
answer!
VOICE OF MRS. MOSELY: Whoo-ee ... somebody calling me?
VOICE OF MRS. ROBERTS: (Angrily) Never mind now--you couldn't come
when I called you. I don't want yo' lil ole weasley turnip greens.
(Silence)
MATT BRAZZLE: Sister Roberts is en town agin! If she was mine, I'll
be hen-fired if I wouldn't break her down in de lines (loins)--good as
dat man is to her!
HAMBO: I wish she was mine jes' one day--de first time she open her
mouf to beg _anybody_, I'd lam her wid lightning.
JOE CLARK: I God, Jake Roberts buys mo' rations out dis store than any
man in dis town. I don't see to my Maker whut she do wid it all....
Here she come....
(ENTER MRS. JAKE ROBERTS, a heavy light brown woman with a basket on
her arm. A boy about ten walks beside her carrying a small child about
a year old straddle of his back. Her skirts are sweeping the ground.
She walks up to the step, puts one foot upon the steps and looks
forlornly at all the men, then fixes her look on JOE CLARK.)
MRS. ROBERTS: Evenin', Brother Mayor.
CLARK: Howdy do, Mrs. Roberts. How's yo' husband?
MRS. ROBERTS: (Beginning her professional whine): He ain't much and I
ain't much and my chillun is poly. We ain't got 'nough to eat! Lawd,
Mr. Clark, gimme a lil piece of side meat to cook us a pot of greens.
CLARK: Aw gwan, Sister Roberts. You got plenty bacon home. Last week
Jake bought....
MRS. ROBERTS: (Frantically) Lawd, Mist' Clark, how long you think dat
lil piece of meat last me an' my chillun? Lawd, me and my chillun is
_hongry_! God knows, Jake don't fee-eed me!
(MR. CLARK sits unmoved. MRS. ROBERTS advances upon him)
Mist' Clark!
CLARK: I God, woman, don't keep on after me! Every time I look, youse
round here beggin' for everything you see.
LIGE: And whut she don't see she whoops for it just de same.
MRS. ROBERTS: (In dramatic begging pose) Mist' Clark! Ain't you boin'
do nuthin' for me? And you see me and my poor chillun is starvin'....
CLARK: (Exasperated rises) I God, woman, a man can't git no peace wid
somebody like you in town. (He goes angrily into the store followed by
MRS. ROBERTS. The boy sits down on the edge of the porch sucking the
baby's thumb.)
VOICE OF MRS. ROBERTS: A piece 'bout dis wide....
VOICE OF CLARK: I God, naw! Yo' husband done bought you plenty meat,
nohow.
VOICE OF MRS. ROBERTS: (In great anguish) Ow! Mist' Clark! Don't you
cut dat lil tee-ninchy piece of meat for me and my chillun! (Sound of
running feet inside the store.) I ain't a going to tetch it!
VOICE OF CLARK: Well, don't touch it then. That's all you'll git outa
me.
VOICE OF MRS. ROBERTS: (Calmer) Well, hand it chear den. Lawd, me and
my chillun is _so_ hongry.... Jake don't fee-eed me. (She re-enters by
door of store with the slab of meat in her hand and an outraged look
on her face. She gazes all about her for sympathy.) Lawd, me and my
poor chillun is _so_ hongry ... and some folks has _every_thing and
they's so _stingy_ and gripin'.... Lawd knows, Jake don't fee-eed me!
(She exits right on this line followed by the boy with the baby on his
back.)
(All the men gaze behind her, then at each other and shake their
heads.)
HAMBO: Poor Jak.... I'm really sorry for dat man. If she was mine I'd
beat her till her ears hung down like a Georgy mule.
WALTER THOMAS: I'd beat her till she smell like onions.
LIGE: I'd romp on her till she slack like lime.
NIXON: I'd stomp her till she rope like okra.
VOICE OF MRS. ROBERTS: (Off stage right) Lawd, Miz Lewis, you goin'
give me dat lil han'ful of greens for me and my chillun. Why dat ain't
a eye-full. I ought not to take 'em ... but me and my chillun is _so_
hongry.... Some folks is so stingy and gripin'! Lawd knows, Tony don't
_feed_ me!
(The noise of cane-chewing is heard again. Enter JOE LINDSAY left with
a gun over his shoulder and the large leg bone of a mule in the other
hand. He approaches the step wearily.)
HAMBO: Well, did you git any partridges, Joe?
JOE: (Resting his gun and seating himself) Nope, but I made de
feathers fly.
HAMBO: I don't see no birds.
JOE: Oh, the feathers flew off on de birds.
LIGE: I don't see nothin' but dat bone. Look lak you done kilt a cow
and et 'im raw out in de woods.
JOE: Don't y'all know dat hock-bone?
WALTER: How you reckon we gointer know every hock-bone in Orange
County sight unseen?
JOE: (Standing the bone up on the floor of the porch) Dis is a
hock-bone of Brazzle's ole yaller mule.
(General pleased interest. Everybody wants to touch it.)
BRAZZLE: (Coming forward) Well, sir! (Takes bone in both hands and
looks up and down the length of it) If 'tain't my ole mule! This sho
was one hell of a mule, too. He'd fight every inch in front of de
plow ... he'd turn over de mowing machine ... run away wid de
wagon ... and you better not look like you wanter _ride_ 'im!
LINDSAY: (Laughing) Yeah, I 'member seein' you comin' down de road
just so ... (He limps wid one hand on his buttocks) one day.
BRAZZLE: Dis mule was so evil he used to try to bite and kick when I'd
go in de stable to feed 'im.
WALTER: He was too mean to git fat. He was so skinny you could do a
week's washing on his ribs for a washboard and hang 'em up on his
hip-bones to dry.
LIGE: I 'member one day, Brazzle, you sent yo' boy to Winter Park
after some groceries wid a basket. So here he went down de road ridin'
dis mule wid dis basket on his arm.... Whut you reckon dat ole
contrary mule done when he got to dat crooked place in de road going
round Park Lake? He turnt right round and went through de handle of
dat basket ... wid de boy still up on his back. (General laughter)
BRAZZLE: Yeah, he up and died one Sat'day just for spite ... but he
was too contrary to lay down on his side like a mule orter and die
decent. Naw, he made out to lay down on his narrer contracted back and
die wid his feets sticking straight up in de air just so. (He gets
down on his back and illustrates.) We drug him out to de swamp wid 'im
dat way, didn't we, Hambo?
JOE CLARK: I God, Brazzle, we all seen it. Didn't we all go to de
draggin' out? More folks went to yo' mule's draggin' out than went to
last school closing.... Bet there ain't been a thing right in
mule-hell for four years.
HAMBO: Been dat long since he been dead?
CLARK: I God, yes. He died de week after I started to cutting' dat new
ground.
(The bone is passing from hand to hand. At last a boy about twelve
takes it. He has just walked up and is proudly handling the bone when
a woman's voice is heard off stage right.)
VOICE: Senator! Senator!! Oh, you Senator?
BOY: (Turning displeased mutters) Aw, shux. (Loudly) Ma'm?
VOICE: If you don't come here you better!
SENATOR: Yes ma'am. (He drops bone on ground down stage and trots off
frowning.) Soon as we men git to doing something dese wimmen....
(Exits, right.)
(Enter TEET and BOOTSIE left, clean and primped in voile dresses just
alike. They speak diffidently and enter store. The men admire them
casually.)
LIGE: Them girls done turned out to be right good-looking.
WALTER: Teet ain't as pretty now as she was a few years back. She used
to be fat as a butter ball wid legs just like two whiskey-kegs. She's
too skinny since she got her growth.
CODY: Ain't none of 'em pretty as dat Miss Daisy. God! She's pretty as
a speckled pup.
LIGE: But she was sho nuff ugly when she was little ... little ole
hard black knot. She sho has changed since she been away up North. If
she ain't pretty now, there ain't a hound dog in Georgy.
(Re-enter SENATOR BAILEY and stops on the steps. He addresses JOE
CLARK.)
SENATOR: Mist' Clark....
HAMBO: (To Senator) Ain't you got no manners? We all didn't sleep wid
you last night.
SENATOR: (Embarrassed) Good evening, everybody.
ALL THE MEN: Good evening, son, boy, Senator, etc.
SENATOR: Mist' Clark, mama said is Daisy been here dis evenin'?
JOE CLARK: Ain't laid my eyes on her. Ain't she working over in
Maitland?
SENATOR: Yessuh ... but she's off today and mama sent her down here to
get de groceries.
JOE CLARK: Well, tell yo' ma I ain't seen her.
SENATOR: Well, she say to tell you when she come, to tell her ma say
she better git home and dat quick.
JOE CLARK: I will. (Exit BOY right.)
LIGE: Bet she's off somewhere wid Dave or Jim.
WALTER: I don't bet it ... I know it. She's got them two in de
go-long.
(Re-enter TEET and BOOTSIE from store. TEET has a letter and BOOTSIE
two or three small parcels. The men look up with interest as they come
out on the porch.)
WALTER: (Winking) Whut's dat you got, Teet ... letter from Dave?
TEET: (Flouncing) Naw indeed! It's a letter from my B-I-T-sweetie!
(Rolls her eyes and hips.)
WALTER: (Winking) Well, ain't Dave yo' B-I-T-sweetie? I thought y'all
was 'bout to git married. Everywhere I looked dis summer 'twas you and
Dave, Bootsie and Jim. I thought all of y'all would've done jumped
over de broomstick by now.
TEET: (Flourishing letter) Don't tell it to me ... tell it to the
ever-loving Mr. Albert Johnson way over in Apopka.
BOOTSIE: (Rolling her eyes) Oh, tell 'em 'bout the ever-loving Mr.
Jimmy Cox from Altamont. Oh, I can't stand to see my baby lose.
HAMBO: It's lucky y'all girls done got some more fellers, cause look
like Daisy done treed both Jim and Dave at once, or they done treed
here one.
TEET: Let her have 'em ... nobody don't keer. They don't handle de "In
God we trust" lak my Johnson. He's head bellman at de hotel.
BOOTSIE: Mr. Cox got money's grandma and old grandpa change. (The
girls exit huffily.)
LINDSAY: (To HAMBO, pseudo-seriously) You oughtn't tease dem gals lak
dat.
HAMBO: Oh, I laks to see gals all mad. But dem boys is crazy sho nuff.
Before Daisy come back here they both had a good-looking gal a piece.
Now they 'bout to fall out and fight over half a gal a piece. Neither
one won't give over and let de other one have her.
LIGE: And she ain't thinking too much 'bout no one man. (Looks off
left.) Here she come now. God! She got a mean walk on her!
WALTER: Yeah, man. She handles a lot of traffic! Oh, mama, throw it in
de river ... papa'll come git it!
LINDSAY: Aw, shut up, you married men!
LIGE: Man don't go blind cause he gits married, do he? (Enter DAISY
hurriedly. Stops at step a moment. She is dressed in sheer organdie,
white shoes and stockings.)
DAISY: Good evening, everybody. (Walks up on the porch.)
ALL THE MEN: (Very pleasantly) Good evening, Miss Daisy.
DAISY: (To CLARK) Mama sent me after some meal and flour and some
bacon and sausage oil.
CLARK: Senator been here long time ago hunting you.
DAISY: (Frightened) Did he? Oo ... Mist' Clark, hurry up and fix it
for me. (She starts on in the store.)
LINDSAY: (Giving her his seat) You better wait here, Daisy.
(WALTER kicks LIGE to call his attention to LINDSAY'S attitude)
It's powerful hot in dat store. Lemme run fetch 'em out to you.
LIGE: (To LINDSAY) _Run!_ Joe Lindsay, you ain't been able to run
since de big bell rung. Look at dat gray beard.
LINDSAY: Thank God, I ain't gray all over. I'm just as good a man
right now as any of you young 'uns. (He hurries on into the store.)
WALTER: Daisy, where's yo' two body guards? It don't look natural to
see you thout nary one of 'em.
DAISY: (Archly) I ain't got no body guards. I don't know what you
talkin' about.
LIGE: Aw, don' try to come dat over us, Daisy. You know who we talkin'
'bout all right ... but if you want me to come out flat footed ...
where's Jim and Dave?
DAISY: Ain't they playin' somewhere for de white folks?
LIGE: (To WALTER) Will you listen at dis gal, Walter? (To DAISY) When
I ain't been long seen you and Dave going down to de Lake.
DAISY: (Frightened) Don't y'all run tell mama where I been.
WALTER: Well, you tell us which one you laks de best and we'll wipe
our mouf (Gesture) and say nothin'. Dem boys been de best of friends
all they life, till both of 'em took after you ... then good-bye, Katy
bar de door!
DAISY: (Affected innocence) Ain't they still playin' and dancin'
together?
LIGE: Yeah, but that's 'bout all they do 'gree on these days. That's
de way it is wid men, young and old.... I don't keer how long they
been friends and how thick they been ... a woman kin come between 'em.
David and Jonather never would have been friends so long if Jonather
had of been any great hand wid de wimmen. You ain't never seen no two
roosters that likes one another.
DAISY: I ain't tried to break 'em up.
WALTER: Course you ain't. You don't have to. All two boys need to do
is to git stuck on de same girl and they done broke up ... _right
now_! Wimmen is something can't be divided equal.
(Re-enter JOE LINDSAY and CLARK with the groceries. DAISY jumps up and
grabs the packages.)
LIGE: (To DAISY) Want some of us ... me ... to go long and tote yo'
things for you?
DAISY: (Nervously) Naw, mama is riding her high horse today. Long as I
been gone it wouldn't do for me to come walking up wid nobody. (She
exits hurriedly right.)
(All the men watch her out of sight in silence.)
CLARK: (Sighing) I God, know whut Daisy puts me in de mind of?
HAMBO: No, what? (They all lean together.)
CLARK: I God, a great big mango ... a sweet smell, you know, Th a
strong flavor, but not something you could mash up like a strawberry.
Something with a body to it.
(General laughter, but not obscene.)
HAMBO: (Admiringly) Joe Clark! I didn't know you had it in you!
(MRS. CLARK enters from store door and they all straighten up
guiltily)
CLARK: (Angrily to his wife) Now whut do you want? I God, the minute I
set down, here you come....
MRS. CLARK: Somebody want a stamp, Jody. You know you don't 'low me to
bove wid de post office. (HE rises sullenly and goes inside the
store.)
BRAZZLE: Say, Hambo, I didn't see you at our Sunday School picnic.
HAMBO: (Slicing some plug-cut tobacco) Nope, wan't there dis time.
WALTER: Looka here, Hambo. Y'all Baptist carry dis close-communion
business too far. If a person ain't half drownded in de lake and half
et up by alligators, y'all think he ain't baptized, so you can't take
communion wid him. Now I reckon you can't even drink lemonade and eat
chicken perlow wid us.
HAMBO: My Lord, boy, youse just _full_ of words. Now, in de first
place, if this year's picnic was lak de one y'all had last year ...
you ain't had no lemonade for us Baptists to turn down. You had a big
ole barrel of rain water wid about a pound of sugar in it and one
lemon cut up over de top of it.
LIGE: Man, you sho kin mold 'em!
WALTER: Well, I went to de Baptist picnic wid my mouf all set to eat
chicken, when lo and behold y'all had chitlings! Do Jesus!
LINDSAY: Hold on there a minute. There was plenty chicken at dat
picnic, which I do know is right.
WALTER: Only chicken I seen was half a chicken yo' pastor musta tried
to swaller whole cause he was choked stiff as a board when I come
long ... wid de whole deacon's board beating him in de back, trying
to knock it out his throat.
LIGE: Say, dat puts me in de mind of a Baptist brother that was crazy
'bout de preachers and de preacher was crazy 'bout feeding his face.
So his son got tired of trying to beat dese stump-knockers to de grub
on the table, so one day he throwed out some slams 'bout dese
preachers. Dat made his old man mad, so he tole his son to git out.
He boy ast him "Where must I go, papa?" He says, "Go on to hell I
reckon ... I don't keer where you go."
So de boy left and was gone seven years. He come back one cold, windy
night and rapped on de door. "Who dat?" de old man ast him "It's me,
Jack." De old man opened de door, so glad to see his son agin, and
tole Jack to come in. He did and looked all round de place. Seven or
eight preachers was sitting round de fire eatin' and drinkin'.
"Where you been all dis time, Jack?" de old man ast him.
"I been to hell," Jack tole him.
"Tell us how it is down there, Jack."
"Well," he says, "It's just like it is here ... you cain't git to de
fire for de preachers."
HAMBO: Boy, you kin lie just like de cross-ties from Jacksonville to
Key West. De presidin' elder must come round on his circuit teaching
y'all how to tell 'em, cause you couldn't lie dat good just natural.
WALTER: Can't nobody beat Baptist folks lying ... and I ain't never
found out how come you think youse so important.
LINDSAY: Ain't we got de finest and de biggest church? Macedonia
Baptist will hold more folks than any two buildings in town.
LIGE: Thass right, y'all got a heap more church than you got members
to go in it.
HAMBO: Thass all right ... y'all ain't got neither de church nor de
members. Everything that's had in this town got to be held in our
church.
(Re-enter JOE CLARK.)
CLARK: What you-all talkin'?
HAMBO: Come on out, Tush Hawg, lemme beat you some checkers. I'm tired
of fending and proving wid dese boys ain't got no hair on they chest
yet.
CLARK: I God, you mean you gointer get beat. You can't handle me ...
I'm a tush hawg.
HAMBO: Well, I'm going to draw dem tushes right now. (To two small
boys using checker board on edge of porch.) Here you chilluns, let de
Mayor and me have that board. Go on out an' play an' give us grown
folks a little peace. (The children go down stage and call out:)
SMALL BOY: Hey, Senator. Hey, Marthy. Come on let's play chick-me,
chick-me, cranie-crow.
CHILD'S VOICE: (Off stage) All right! Come on, Jessie! (Enter several
children, led by SENATOR, and a game begins in front of the store as
JOE CLARK and HAMBO play checkers.)
JOE CLARK: I God! Hambo, you can't play no checkers.
HAMBO: (As they seat themselves at the check board) Aw, man, if you
wasn't de Mayor I'd beat you all de time.
(The children get louder and louder, drowning out the men's voices.)
SMALL GIRL: I'm gointer be de hen.
BOY: And I'm gointer be de hawk. Lemme git maself a stick to mark wid.
(The boy who is the hawk squats center stage with a short twig in his
hand. The largest girl lines up the other children behind her.)
GIRL: (Mother Hen) (Looking back over her flock): Y'all ketch holt of
one 'Nother's clothes so de hawk can't git yuh. (They do.) You all
straight now?
CHILDREN: Yeah. (The march around the hawk commences.)
HEN AND CHICKS:
Chick mah chick mah craney crow
Went to de well to wash ma toe
When I come back ma chick was gone
What time, ole witch?
HAWK: (Making a tally on the ground) One!
HEN AND CHICKS: (Repeat song and march.)
HAWK: (Scoring again) Two!
(Can be repeated any number of times.)
HAWK: Four. (He rises and imitates a hawk flying and trying to catch a
chicken. Calling in a high voice:) Chickee.
HEN: (Flapping wings to protect her young) My chickens sleep.
HAWK: Chickee. (During all this the hawk is feinting and darting in
his efforts to catch a chicken, and the chickens are dancing
defensively, the hen trying to protect them.)
HEN: My chicken's sleep.
HAWK: I shall have a chick.
HEN: You shan't have a chick.
HAWK: I'm goin' home. (Flies off)
HEN: Dere's de road.
HAWK: My pot's a boilin'.
HEN: Let it boil.
HAWK: My guts a growlin'.
HEN: Let 'em growl.
HAWK: I must have a chick.
HEN: You shan't have n'airn.
HAWK: My mama's sick.
HEN: Let her die.
HAWK: Chickie!
HEN: My chicken's sleep.
(HAWK darts quickly around the hen and grabs a chicken and leads him
off and places his captive on his knees at the store porch. After a
brief bit of dancing he catches another, then a third, etc.)
HAMBO: (At the checker board, his voice rising above the noise of the
playing children, slapping his sides jubilantly) Ha! Ha! I got you
now. Go ahead on and move, Joe Clark ... jus' go ahead on and move.
LOUNGERS: (Standing around two checker players) Ol' Deacon's got you
now.
ANOTHER VOICE: Don't see how he can beat the Mayor like that.
ANOTHER VOICE: Got him in the Louisville loop. (These remarks are
drowned by the laughter of the playing children directly in front of
the porch. MAYOR JOE CLARK disturbed in his concentration on the
checkers and peeved at being beaten suddenly turns toward the
children, throwing up his hands.)
CLARK: Get on 'way from here, you limbs of Satan, making all that
racket so a man can't hear his ears. Go on, go on!
(THE MAYOR looks about excitedly for the town marshall. Seeing him
playing cards on the other side of porch, he bellows:)
Lum Boger, whyn't you git these kids away from here! What kind of a
marshall is you? All this passle of young'uns around here under grown
people's feet, creatin' disorder in front of my store.
(LUM BOGER puts his cards down lazily, comes down stage and scatters
the children away. One saucy little girl refuses to move.)
LUM BOGER: Why'nt you go on away from here, Matilda? Didn't you hear
me tell you-all to move?
LITTLE MATILDA: (Defiantly) I ain't goin' nowhere. You ain't none of
my mama. (Jerking herself free from him as LUM touches her.) My mama
in the store and she told me to wait out here. So take that, ol' Lum.
LUM BOGER: You impudent little huzzy, you! You must smell yourself ...
youse so fresh.
MATILDA: The wind musta changed and you smell your own top lip.
LUM BOGER: Don't make me have to grab you and take you down a
buttonhole lower.
MATILDA: (Switching her little head) Go ahead on and grab me. You sho
can't kill me, and if you kill me, you sho can't eat me. (She marches
into the store.)
SENATOR: (Derisively from behind stump) Ol' dumb Lum! Hey! Hey!
(LITTLE BOY at edge of stage thumbs his nose at the marshall.)
(LUM lumbers after the small boy. Both exit.)
HAMBO: (To CLARK who has been thinking all this while what move to
make) You ain't got but one move ... go ahead on and make it. What's
de matter, Mayor?
CLARK: (Moving his checker) Aw, here.
HAMBO: (Triumphant) Now! Look at him, boys. I'm gonna laugh in notes.