The Easiest Way Part 30

LAURA. [_Still in the same metallic tone of voice._] You'll never leave me to do that. I'll kill myself.

JOHN. Perhaps that's the only thing left for you to do, but you'll not do it. It's easier to live. [_Crosses, gets hat and coat, turns and looks at her,_ LAURA _rising at the same time._

LAURA. John, I said I'd kill myself, and I mean it. If it's the only thing to do, I'll do it, and I'll do it before your very eyes. [_She crosses quickly, gets keys out of satchel, opens trunk, takes gun out of trunk, stands facing_ JOHN--_waiting a moment._] You understand that when your hand touches that door I'm going to shoot myself. I will, so help me G.o.d!

JOHN. [_Stops and looks at her._] Kill yourself? [_Pause._] Before me?

[_Pause._] All right. [_Raising his voice._] Annie, Annie!

ANNIE. [_Enters._] Yes, sir.

JOHN. [LAURA _looks at_ JOHN _in bewilderment._] You see your mistress there has a pistol in her hand?

ANNIE. [_Frightened._] Ya.s.suh--

JOHN. She wants to kill herself. I just called you to witness that the act is entirely voluntary on her part. Now, Laura, go ahead.

LAURA. [_Nearly collapsing, drops the pistol to the floor._] John, I--can't--

JOHN. Annie, she's evidently changed her mind. You may go.

ANNIE. But, Miss Laura, Ah--

JOHN. [_Peremptorily._] You may go. [_Bewildered and not understanding,_ ANNIE _exits through the portieres. In that same gentle tone, but carrying with it an almost frigid conviction._] You didn't have the nerve. I knew you wouldn't. For a moment you thought the only decent thing for you to do was to die, and yet you couldn't go through. I am sorry for you,--more sorry than I can tell. [_He takes a step towards the door._

LAURA. You're going--you're going?

JOHN. Yes.

LAURA. And--and--you never thought that perhaps I'm frail, and weak, and a woman, and that now, maybe, I need your strength, and you might give it to me, and it might be better. I want to lean on you,--lean on you, John. I know I need someone. Aren't you going to let me? Won't you give me another chance?

JOHN. I gave you your chance, Laura.

LAURA. [_Throws arms around his neck._] Give me another.

JOHN. But you leaned the wrong way. Good-bye.

[_He pulls away and goes out, slamming both doors._

LAURA. [_Screaming._] John--John--I--[_She sits on trunk, weeping in loud and tearful manner; rises in a dazed fashion, starts to cross, sees gun, utters loud cry of mingled despair and anger, grabs up gun, crossing to bureau, opens up-stage drawer, throws gun in, slams drawer shut, calling:_] Annie! Annie!

ANNIE. [_Appears through the portieres._] Ain't yuh goin' away, Miss Laura?

LAURA. [_Suddenly arousing herself, and with a defiant voice._] No, I'm not. I'm going to stay right here. [ANNIE _crosses and opens trunk, takes out handsome dress, hangs it over back of armchair, crosses up to hat-trunk, takes out hat._ LAURA _takes it from her, crosses to trunk left, starts to unpack it._] Open these trunks, take out those clothes, get me my prettiest dress. Hurry up. [_She goes before the mirror._] Get my new hat, dress up my body and paint up my face. It's all they've left of me. [_To herself._] They've taken my soul away with them.

ANNIE. [_In a happy voice._] Ya.s.sum, ya.s.sum.

LAURA. [_Who is arranging her hair._] Doll me up, Annie.

ANNIE. Yuh goin' out, Miss Laura?

LAURA. Yes. I'm going to Rector's to make a hit, and to h.e.l.l with the rest!

_At this moment the hurdy-gurdy in the street, presumably immediately under her window, begins to play the tune of "Bon-Bon Buddie, My Chocolate Drop." There is something in this ragtime melody which is particularly and peculiarly suggestive of the low life, the criminality and prost.i.tution that const.i.tute the night excitement of that section of New York City known as the Tenderloin. The tune,--its a.s.sociation,--is like spreading before_ LAURA'S _eyes a panorama of the inevitable depravity that awaits her. She is torn from every ideal that she so weakly endeavoured to grasp, and is thrown into the mire and slime at the very moment when her emanc.i.p.ation seems to be a.s.sured. The woman, with her flashy dress in one arm and her equally exaggerated type of picture hat in the other, is nearly prostrated by the tune and the realization of the future as it is terrifically conveyed to her. The negress, in the happiness of serving_ LAURA _in her questionable career, picks up the melody and hums it as she unpacks the finery that has been put away in the trunk._

LAURA. [_With infinite grief, resignation, and hopelessness._]

O G.o.d--O my G.o.d. [_She turns and totters toward the bedroom. The hurdy-gurdy continues, with the negress accompanying it._



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