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The Machine - Act 3 Post by :software4 Category :Plays Author :Upton Sinclair Date :May 2012 Read :849

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The Machine - Act 3


(HEGAN'S office in Wall street. A large room, furnished with severe simplicity. At the left a large table, with half a dozen chairs about it, and a "ticker" near the wall; at the right, a flat-topped desk and a telephone. Entrance centre.)

(At rise: ANDREWS stands by desk; takes some papers, looks them over, makes note and replaces them.)

PARKER. (Enters.) Say, Andrews, what's the reply to these letters of the Fourth National?

ANDREWS. Give them here; I'll see to them.

PARKER. Any orders for the brokers this morning?

ANDREWS. I'm writing them myself.

PARKER. Something special, eh? All right. (Looks at ticker.) Hello! Listen to this: "There is a rumor, widely current, that the decision of the Court of Appeals in the matter of the Public vs. the Grand Avenue Railroad Company will be handed down to-day!" Gee whiz, I wonder if that's so?

ANDREWS. I have heard the rumor.

PARKER. There was a reporter here yesterday, trying to pump me. I'll bet they're watching the boss.

ANDREWS. Yes; no doubt of that.

PARKER. Cracky! I'd like to know which way it'll go!

ANDREWS. A good many others would like to know, I've no doubt.

PARKER. I'll bet my hat the boss knows!

ANDREWS. It may be.

(A pause; PARKER continues to read ticker.)

PARKER. I don't suppose you've heard anything, have you?

ANDREWS. I never hear, Parker.

PARKER. Oh, say... come off. Why don't you drop a fellow a hint now and then?

ANDREWS. I can't afford to.

PARKER. It would never go beyond me. (A pause.) Say, Andrews.


PARKER. Would you like to invest a bit for me now and then?

ANDREWS. I'm not hankering to, especially.

PARKER. I'll go halves with you on the profits.

ANDREWS. And how about the losses?

PARKER. There wouldn't be any losses.

ANDREWS. Cut it out, Parker... we don't want that kind of a thing in the office. (Handing him paper.) Here... I want three copies of this. And take my advice and live on your salary.

PARKER. Thanks. I wish the salary increased as fast as the bills do! (Starts to door; sees LAURA.) Oh! Good morning, Miss Hegan!

LAURA. (Enters hurriedly.) Good morning.

ANDREWS. Good morning, Miss Hegan.

(PARKER exit.)

LAURA. Mr. Andrews, where was my father last night?

ANDREWS. He had an important conference...

LAURA. He did not come to the house.

ANDREWS. No, Miss Hegan; it was too late. He stayed downtown...

LAURA. And you were not home, either.

ANDREWS. I was with him.

LAURA. It is too bad! I have been trying all night to find either of you.

ANDREWS. Why... your father had no idea when he left...

LAURA. I know. Something has turned up...

ANDREWS. Nothing wrong, I hope.

LAURA. I must see my father as soon as possible. Ile will be here this morning?

ANDREWS. Any minute, Miss Hegan.

LAURA. He will surely come?

ANDREWS. Not the slightest doubt of it. Nothing could keep him away.

LAURA. I wish to see him the moment he comes. And if he should call up or send word...

ANDREWS. I will see that he is informed, Miss Hegan.

LAURA. Thank you. (A pause.) The Court decision is expected to-day, is it not, Mr. Andrews?

ANDREWS. (Hesitates.) There has been a rumor, Miss Hegan.

LAURA. And so there will be considerable disturbance of the market?

ANDREWS. Presumably.

LAURA. And my father has made preparations?


LAURA. That is what the conference was about?

ANDREWS. I presume so, Miss Hegan.

LAURA. By the way, Mr. Andrews, I expect Mr. Montague here at ten o'clock. Please let me know when he comes.

ANDREWS. Yes, Miss Hegan. (Goes to the door, then turns.) Here is Mr. Hegan now.

LAURA. (Starting up.) Ah!

ANDREWS. (Holding open door.) Good morning, Mr. Hegan.

HEGAN. (Enters.) Good morning.

LAURA. Father!

HEGAN. Why, Laura! (ANDREWS exit.) What are you doing here?

LAURA. I've come to have a talk with you.

HEGAN. To have a talk with me?

LAURA. Come in, please, father. Shut the door.

HEGAN. Yes, my dear; but...

LAURA. I came into the city on the next train after you. I have been hunting for you ever since... I have been up all night. I have something of the utmost urgency to talk with you about.

HEGAN. What is it?

LAURA. Come and sit down, please.

HEGAN. Yes, my dear.

LAURA. Listen, father. Yesterday afternoon, when we were talking, you told me that you had never done anything to influence the courts in their decisions.

HEGAN. Yes, Laura.

LAURA. And you told me that nobody else ever did it, either for you or for your companies.

HEGAN. Yes, but...

LAURA. And, father, you told me a falsehood.

HEGAN. Laura!

LAURA. I am very sorry, but I have to say it. It was a falsehood; and it is but one of many falsehoods that you have told me. I understand just why you did it you think I ought not to ask about these things, because it will make me unhappy; and so, for my own good, you do not hesitate to tell me things that are not true.

HEGAN. My child, it is your father that you are talking to!

LAURA. It is my father, and a father who knows that I love him very dearly, and who will realize it hurts me to say these things, fully as much as it hurts him to hear them. But they must be said... and said now.

HEGAN. Why now? Just at this moment...

LAURA. I know what you are going to say. At this moment you are very busy...

HEGAN. My dear, the Exchange will open in an hour. And I am in the midst of a big campaign. I have important orders for my brokers, and a hundred other matters to attend to. And I expect Grimes here any minute...

LAURA. Grimes?

HEGAN. Yes, my dear.

LAURA. You are not through with him yet, then?

HEGAN. No, Laura...

LAURA. Well, even so! Mr. Grimes must wait until I have said what I have to say to you.

HEGAN. What is it, Laura?

LAURA. You are expecting the decision of the Court of Appeals on the Grand Avenue Railroad case at noon today.

HEGAN. Why, yes...

LAURA. The decision will be in your favor. And you and Grimes are planning to gamble on it, and to make a great deal of money.

HEGAN. Yes, my dear.

LAURA. And you paid Grimes two hundred thousand dollars to fix the decision of the Court.

HEGAN. (Starting violently.) Laura!

LAURA. Grimes went to judge Porter's house the night before last and induced him to change his vote on the case.

HEGAN. Laura!

LAURA. And so, what was to have been the minority opinion of the Court is to be given out today as the Court's decision.

HEGAN. My God!

LAURA. You do not deny that this is the truth?

HEGAN. You overheard us at the house!

LAURA. Not one word, father.

HEGAN. But you must have!

LAURA. Father, throughout this conversation, you may honor me by assuming that I am telling you the absolute truth. And I will be glad when you will give me the same privilege.

HEGAN. Then, how did you learn it?

LAURA. That, unfortunately, I am not at liberty to tell you.

HEGAN. Then other people know it?

LAURA. They do.

HEGAN. Good God! (Stares at her, dumbfounded.) Who are these people?

LAURA. I cannot tell you that.

HEGAN. But, Laura... you must!

LAURA. It is impossible.

HEGAN. But... how can that be?

LAURA. I cannot discuss the matter.

HEGAN. But think... my dear! I am your father, and you must trust me... you must help me...

LAURA. Please do not ask me. I have given my word.

HEGAN. Your word! (Gazes about, distracted.) You take the part of others against your own flesh and blood!

LAURA. Listen, father! Think of me for a minute, and how it seems to me. Do not be so ignoble as to think only of the exposure...

HEGAN. But, my child, realize what it will mean if this comes out! Are these people among my enemies?

LAURA. That depends upon circumstances.

HEGAN. I don't understand you.

LAURA. I will try to explain, if you will be patient with me.

HEGAN. Go on! Go on!

LAURA. Father, you know what has been happening to me during the past few months. You know how unhappy I have been. And now you have committed a crime... a dreadful, dreadful crime!

HEGAN. My dear!

LAURA. I wish to make it clear to you... I am in desperate earnest. I have taken all night to think it over, and I am not making any mistake. I have made up my mind that, come what will, and cost what it may, I must clear myself of the responsibility for these evils.

HEGAN. In what way are you responsible?

LAURA. In every way imaginable. My whole life is based upon them... everything that I have and enjoy is stained with the guilt of them... the house in which I live, the clothing that I wear, the food that I eat. And I shall never again know what it is to be happy, while I have that fact upon my conscience. Don't you see?

HEGAN. I see.

LAURA. I tried all night to find you. I wanted to have a chance to talk with you, quietly. And, now, instead, I have to do it here, amid all the rush and strain of this dreadful Wall Street. But so it is.. . I must say it here. Father, I have come to plead with you, to plead with you upon my knees. Listen to me... don't turn me away!

HEGAN. What do you wish me to do?

LAURA. First of all, I wish you to give up this illegal advantage that you have gained. I wish you to stop this decision, and give the people the victory to which they are entitled.

HEGAN. But, my dear, that is madness! How can I...

LAURA. You compelled Grimes to do this thing... you can compel him to undo it!

HEGAN. But, my dear, it would ruin me!

LAURA. If you do what I ask you to do, ruin will not matter.

HEGAN. What do you ask me?

LAURA. I wish you to stop this mad career... to give up this money game... to drop it utterly! To stop selling stocks and manipulating markets; to stop buying politicians and franchises... to sell out everything... to withdraw. I want you to do it now... today.. . this very hour!

HEGAN. But, my dear...

LAURA. I want you to come with me, and help me to find happiness again, by doing some good in the world. I want you to use your power and your talents to help people, instead of to destroy them.

HEGAN. My child! That is something very easy to talk about, but not so easy to do!

LAURA. We will work together, and find ways to do it.

HEGAN. It seems possible, from your point of view... with your noble ideals, and your sheltered life...

LAURA. My sheltered life! That is just what I can no longer endure! That I should have ease and comfort, while others suffer... that my father should take part in this mad struggle for money and power, in order to give me a sheltered life! I must make it impossible for that to continue! I must make you understand that all your money is powerless to bring me happiness... that it is poisoning my life as well as your own!

HEGAN. (Gravely.) Laura, I have tried to protect you... that is the natural instinct of a father... to keep evil things from his daughter's knowledge. If I have told you untruths, as you say, that has been the one reason. But since you will not have it so... since you must face the facts of the world...

LAURA. I Must!

HEGAN. Very well, then... you shall face them. You tell me to give up this case... to change back the Court's decision, so that the public may reap the advantage. Do you realize that the public has nothing to do with this suit?... That it is a covert attack upon me by an unscrupulous enemy?

LAURA. You mean Murdock?

HEGAN. Murdock. You know something of his career, perhaps... something of his private life, too. And if I should turn back, as you ask, the public would gain nothing... he would be the only one to profit. He would raid my securities; he would throw my companies into bankruptcy; he would draw my associates away from me... in the end, he would take my place in the traction field. Is that what you wish to bring about?

LAURA. It is not that that I am thinking of. It is the corrupting of the Court...

HEGAN. The Court! Do you know why Grimes and I had to do what we did?


HEGAN. And yet you have judged me! What would you say if I told you that we had information that one of the judges had received a thousand shares of Grand Avenue stock from Murdock? And that another had been promised a seat in the United States Supreme Court by that eminent Republican?

LAURA. Oh! Horrible!

HEGAN. You see what the game is?

LAURA. But, father! The buying and selling of the powers of the Government...

HEGAN. The "Government" consisting of politicians who have gotten themselves elected for the purpose of selling out to the highest bidder. For ten years now I have been in charge of these properties. .. I have had the interests of thousands of investors in my keeping... and all the while I have been like a man surrounded by a pack of wolves. I defended myself as I could... in the end, I found that the best way to defend was by attacking. In other words, I had to go into politics, to make the control of the "Government" a part of my business. Don't you see?

LAURA. Yes, I see. But why play such a game?

HEGAN. Why? Because it is the only game I have ever known... the only game there is to play. That is the way I have lived my life... the way I have risen to power and command. I played it for myself, and for my friends, and for those I loved.

LAURA. You played it for me! And, oh! father! father!... Can't you see what that means to me? To realize that all my life has been based upon such things! Don't you see how I can't let it go on... how, if you refuse to do what I ask you to, it will be impossible for me to touch a dollar of your money?

HEGAN. Laura!

LAURA. Just that, father! I should never again be able to face my conscience!

HEGAN. (After a pause.) Listen to me, dear. You know that I have always meant to withdraw...

LAURA. I know that. And that has been a confession! You know that you are wrecking your life-wrecking everything! And if you mean to stop, why not stop?

HEGAN. But, my dear, at this moment... in the midst of the battle. ..

LAURA. At this moment you are on the point of doing something that will put a brand upon your conscience for the balance of your career. And at this moment you are confronted with the realization that you are ruining your daughter's life. You see her before you, desperate... frantic with shame and grief. And you have to make up your mind, either to drive her from you, heart-broken... or else to turn your face from these evils, and to take up a new way of life.

HEGAN. (Broken and crushed, sits staring at her.) Laura!

LAURA. (Stretching out her arms to him.) Father! A knock at the door; they start.

GRIMES. (Enters.) Oh! Beg pardon!

HEGAN. Come in.

LAURA. (Starting up.) No!

HEGAN. Come in! You must know it!

GRIMES. What is it?

HEGAN. Shut the door! Grimes, the game is up!

GRIMES. How d'ye mean?

HEGAN. We've been betrayed. Somebody knows all about the Court decision... about what passed between you and Porter, and between you and me!

GRIMES. The hell you say!

HEGAN. We're threatened with exposure!

GRIMES. Who is it?

HEGAN. I don't know.

GRIMES. But, then...

HEGAN. My daughter tells me. But she is not at liberty to give the names.

GRIMES. Well, I'll be damned! (He stares from HEGAN to LAURA; then comes and sits, very deliberately, where he can gaze at them. A long pause; then, nodding toward them.)

LAURA. What's her game?

HEGAN. (Weakly.) She will tell you.

GRIMES. (Looking at her.) Well?

LAURA. I am here to plead with my father to turn back from this wickedness.

GRIMES. (Stares.) And do what, ma'am?

LAURA. Quit Wall Street, and devote himself to some useful work.

GRIMES. (After a pause.) And if he won't?

LAURA. I have told him he must choose between his present career and his daughter's love.

GRIMES. (Gazes at LAURA, then in front of him; slowly shakes his head.) I can't make out our young people. When I was a boy, young women looked up to their parents. What's your father done to you, that you should turn against him?

LAURA. I have not turned against him, Mr. Grimes.

GRIMES. (Indicating HEGAN, who sits in an attitude of despair.) Look at him!

(A pause.)

LAURA. I am pleading with him for his own good... to give up this cruel struggle...

GRIMES. To turn tail and run from his enemies?

LAURA. It is of my duty to the public that I am thinking, Mr. Grimes.

GRIMES. You owe no duty to this world higher than your duty to your father.

LAURA. You think that?

GRIMES. I think it.

LAURA. (Hesitates a moment, then turns.) Father! What do you say? Is that true?

HEGAN. (Crushed.) I don't know, my dear.

GRIMES. God Almighty! And this is Jim Hegan! (To LAURA.) Where'd you get onto these ideas, ma'am?

LAURA. (In a low voice.) I think, Mr. Grimes, it might be best if you did not ask me to discuss this question. Our points of view are too different.

GRIMES. (Shrugs his shoulders.) As you please, ma'am. But you needn't mind me... I ain't easy to offend. And I'm only trying to understand you.

LAURA. (After a silence.) Mr. Grimes, I had the good fortune to be brought up in a beautiful and luxurious home; but not long ago I began to go down into the slums and see the homes of the people. I saw sights that made me sick with horror.

GRIMES. No doubt, ma'am.

LAURA. I found the people in the grip of a predatory organization that had bound them hand and foot, and was devouring them alive.

GRIMES. You've been listening to tales, ma'am. We do a lot for the people.

LAURA. You treat them to free coal and free picnics and free beer, and so you get their votes; and then you sell them out to capitalists like my father.

GRIMES. Humph!

LAURA. You sell them out to any one, high or low, who will pay for the privilege of exploiting them. You sell them to the rum-dealer and the dive-keeper and the gambler. You sell them to the white-slave trader.

GRIMES. There's no such person, Miss Hegan.

LAURA. You offer an insult to my intelligence, Mr. Grimes. I have met with him and his work. There was a girl of the slums... her name was Annie Rogers. She was a decent girl; and she was lured into a dive and drugged and shut up in a brothel, a prisoner. She escaped to the street, pursued, and a friend of mine saved her. And, high and low, among the authorities of this city, we sought for justice for that girl, and there was no justice to be had. Yesterday afternoon I learned that she cut her own throat.

GRIMES. I see.

LAURA. And that happened, Mr. Grimes! It happened in the City of New York! I saw it with my own eyes!

GRIMES. Such things have been, ma'am.

LAURA. And you permit them.


LAURA. You permit them

GRIMES. I can't attempt to discuss prostitution with a lady. Such things existed long before I was born.

LAURA. You could use your power to drive the traffic from the city.

GRIMES. Yes, ma'am; I suppose I could. But if I'd been that sort of a man, do you think I'd ever had the power?

LAURA. How neatly parried! What sort of a man are you, anyway?

GRIMES. (Looks at hey fixedly.) I'll tell you the sort of man I am, ma'am. (A pause.) I wasn't brought up in a beautiful, luxurious home. I was brought up with five brothers, in two rooms on the top floor of a rear tenement on Avenue B; I was a little street "mick," and then I was a prize "scrapper," and the leader of a gang. When a policeman chased me upstairs, my mother stood at the head and fought him off with a rolling-pin. That was the way we stood by our children, ma'am; and we looked to them to stand by us. Once, when I was older, my enemies tried to do me... they charged me with a murder that I never done, ma'am. But dye think my old father ever stopped to ask if I done it or not, ma'am? Not much. "Don't mention that, Bob, my boy," says he... "it's all part of the fight, an' we're wid yer." (A pause.) I looked about me at the world, ma'am, and I found it was full of all sorts of pleasant things, that I'd never had, and never stood a chance of havin'. They were for the rich... the people on top. And they looked on with scorn... I was poor and I was low, and I wasn't fit for anything. And so I set to climb, ma'am. I shouldered my way up. I met men that fought me; I fought them back, and I won out. That's the sort of man I am.

LAURA. I see. A selfish man, bent upon power at any price! A brutal man, profiting by the weakness of others! An unscrupulous man, trading upon fear and greed! A man who has stopped at no evil to gain his purpose!

GRIMES. I am what the game has made me.

LAURA. Not so! Not so! Many another man has been born to a fate like yours, and has fought his way up from the pit... to be a tower of strength for goodness and service, an honor to his people and himself.

GRIMES. I've not met any such, ma'am.

LAURA. No; you've not sought for them. You did not need them in your business. The men you needed were the thugs and the criminals, who could stuff ballot-boxes for you... the dive-keepers and the vice-sellers, who would contribute to your campaign funds! And you have dealt with them... you have built up the power they gave you into a mighty engine of corruption and wrong! And you are master of it... you use it to wring tribute from high and low! Selling immunity to dive-keepers and betraying helpless young girls! Naming legislators and judges, and receiving bribes to corrupt the highest Court in the State.

HEGAN. Laura...

LAURA. Father, I did not seek this discussion! He challenged me... and he shall hear the truth! For all these months the thing that has been driving me to desperation has been the knowledge that my father was the business associate and ally of a master of infamy like Robert Grimes!

GRIMES. Thanks, ma'am! And so now he's to break with me!

(A knock at the door.)

ANDREWS. (Enters, centre.) Mr. Hegan, these orders for your brokers must be signed.

HEGAN. I won't sign them!


HEGAN. Never mind them.

GRIMES. (Springing to his feet.) Jim Hegan, you're mad! (TO ANDREWS.) Go out, will you? (ANDREWS exit.) Hegan, man... surely you don't mean this?

HEGAN. Yes... I'm sick of it!

GRIMES. But, man, think of the rest of us!... What are we to do?

HEGAN. You can buy just the same.

GRIMES. But without you? Why, we won't be able to corner Murdock! And if he gets out of this hole, it'll be worse than ever! There'll be hell to pay!

HEGAN. I don't care.

GRIMES. But, man, you've pledged yourself! Look at what Harris has done!... What excuse will you be able to make to him? And what will you tell Henry Stevens?

HEGAN. I'll tell them I've quit.

GRIMES. But you told them last night you were going in with every dollar you could raise! You told Isaacson he could break with Murdock! And now you'll tell them you've turned tail and run! Why, Hegan, it's treason!

HEGAN. Listen to me...

GRIMES. I don't want to listen to you! Half an hour from now you'll be ashamed of yourself... wishing that nobody had heard you! You'll be begging me not to mention it! You... Jim Hegan... the traction king! To lose your nerve over a little thing like this! What's come over you, anyhow... after all the things we've been through together? Why, man...

(The 'phone rings.)

HEGAN. Hello! Who is it? Oh, Isaacson. Yes; I'll speak with him. Hello, Isaacson! Yes. No; I've not forgotten. I'll do whatever I said I'd do. Er... yes; that's all right. I've been delayed. Yes. I'll get the money to you. Right away. Oh, certainly, that's all right. (Hangs up receiver.) Ah, God!

GRIMES. Hegan, listen here. You're in the midst of a battle. And you're the general. Everything depends on you this morning. And you've a right to be afraid.. but you've no right to let others see it. You've no right... do you understand me? And, by God, I won't let you!... I'll be a man for two of you! Shake yourself together now! (Seizes him.) Come, man! Shake yourself together!

HEGAN. But think of the exposure!

GRIMES. The exposure! And this is Jim Hegan talking! How many times have you been exposed already? And how many times have I been?

HEGAN. But this is different.

GRIMES. How different? We've got the police, and we've got the district attorney, and we've got the courts. What more do we want? What can they do but talk in the newspapers? And is there anything they haven't said about us already? (Takes HEGAN by the arm, and laughs.) Come, old man! As my friend Leary says: "Dis is a nine-day town. If yez kin stand de gaff for nine days, ye're all right!" We'll stand the gaff!

HEGAN. I'm tired of standing it.

GRIMES. Yes, we all get tired now and then. But this afternoon it'll be Murdock that's tired. Think of him, Hegan... try to realize him a bit! You've got him where you want him at last! Remember what he did to you in the Brooklyn Ferry case! Remember how he lied to you in the Third Avenue case! And he told Isaacson, only last week, that he'd never let up on you till he'd driven you out of the traction field!

HEGAN. Did he say that?

GRIMES. He did that! And only yesterday he said he was getting ready to finish you! He's as sure of this Court decision as I am of the sunrise! I'm told he's short already over a quarter of a million shares!

HEGAN. But his judges'll get word to him... he'll buy!

GRIMES. Of course! But that's just why you ought to be busy! Buy first, and make him pay... damn his soul!

ANDREWS. (Knocks and enters.) Mr. Stevens is here, Mr. Hegan.

GRIMES. Henry Stevens? We'll see him. (ANDREWS exit.) Come on, man! We'll go over to your brokers and take the orders. It'll give you a smell of the powder smoke.

LAURA. (AS HEGAN Starts to follow.) Father, you are going with him?

HEGAN. My dear child, what can I do?

LAURA. But think of the disgrace... the shame of it! You will carry it with you all your life!

HEGAN. I can't help it. I am bound hand and foot.

LAURA. Father! (She rushes to him, and flings her arms about him.) Do you realize what you are doing? You are driving me away from you!.. . You are casting me off! And all for a few more dollars!

HEGAN. My dear, it is not that. My word is pledged.

LAURA. You are trampling me in the dust. You are spurning all that is best in your life!

GRIMES. Come, come, man! The game is called

HEGAN. Let me go, my dear.

LAURA. Father!

HEGAN. No! No! (He gently, but firmly, puts her arms from him.) Good-bye, dear.

LAURA. Father! (HEGAN and GRIMES go out centre; she sinks by the table, and buries her face in her arms, sobbing; after a considerable, interval, a knock on the door, centre.) Come in!

MONTAGUE. (Enters.) Well?

LAURA. I have failed. (Rises and stretches out her arms.) Failed! He has gone with Grimes!

MONTAGUE. I saw him go, Miss Hegan.

LAURA. (Swiftly.) And yet... I have not failed utterly. I have failed to turn back the decision... to save him from this disgrace. But that is not all.

MONTAGUE. How do you mean?

LAURA. I shall not give him up... and, in the end, I shall have my way; I can see that quite clearly. Ah, how I hurt him! I almost broke his heart! And just now he is in the midst of the battle... the rage of it is on him. But, afterwards, he will recollect... he will be overwhelmed with grief! And then he will see! He will do what I have begged him to!

MONTAGUE. Yes... perhaps that is so.

LAURA. I know what my love means to him! I know what he is at heart! And when he sees that I mean to carry out my threat, to go by myself and to refuse to touch his money... that will be more than he can bear, Mr. Montague!

MONTAGUE. You mean to do that?

LAURA. I mean to do it! I mean to do it today; and I will never yield to him... never until he has atoned for this wrong he has done! And don't you see that I will win in the end?

MONTAGUE. Yes; I see.

LAURA. (Quickly.) Understand, that has nothing to do with your course. I am not asking you to spare him. You must go ahead and do your duty... you must do just what you would have done if I had never stood in the way.

MONTAGUE. It is a terrible thing to me, Miss Hegan. I cannot turn back...

LAURA. You must not! You must not think of it! It will be a part of my father's punishment... and he has deserved it. He has prepared that cup, and he must drink it... to the dregs!

MONTAGUE. You can bear it?

LAURA. It is not any question of what I can bear. It is a question of the rights of the people. I saw that quite clearly, as my father talked with me. Whether it is he who wins, or whether it is Murdock, it is always the people that lose. And, let it hurt whom it may, the people must have the truth!

MONTAGUE. And then... you will be able to forgive me! Ah, what a weight you lift from me! I hardly dared to face the thought of what I had to do! (Hesitating.) And then, the thought that you mean to renounce your father's wealth... that you are going out into the world... alone...

LAURA. It will not be hard for me. You cannot know how I have hated my past life. To know that my father has plundered the public... and then to give his money, and call it charity. To be flattered and fawned upon... to be celebrated and admired... and never for anything that I am, but always for my money!

MONTAGUE. I understand what you feel! And see what your decision means to me... it sets me free at last!

LAURA. Free!

MONTAGUE. Free to speak! Miss Hegan, I came to New York, and I met these rich people, and I saw how their fortunes were poisoning their lives. I saw men who could not have a real friend in the world, because of their money. I saw young girls whose souls were utterly dead in them because they had been brought up to think of themselves as keepers of money-bags, and to guard against men who sought to prey upon them. I hated the thing... I fled from it as I would from a plague. In that world I had met a woman I might have loved... a woman who was noble and beautiful and true; and yet I dared not speak to her... I dared not even permit myself to know her... because I was a poor man, and she was rich. But now she is to be poor also! And so I may speak!

LAURA. (Starting.) Oh!

MONTAGUE. Miss Hegan, from the first time I met you I felt that you were the woman I should love. But then, as fate would have it, I found myself preparing to attack your father; so I said that we must never meet again. But now you see how it has happened. I have come to know you as I never hoped to know you, and I know that I love you.

LAURA. I had no idea...

MONTAGUE. You say that you are going away alone. Let us go together. We have the same purpose... we have the same battle to fight. We can go out to the people and help to teach them.

LAURA. You... you know that you love me?

MONTAGUE. I love you! I want nothing so much as the chance to serve you and help you. The chance to tell you so is more than I had ever ventured to hope for. To find you free and alone... to be able to speak to you, with no thought of wealth or position! To tell you that I love you... just you! You!

LAURA. I hardly dare to think of it... now... here...

MONTAGUE. We can put all the past behind us... we can take a new start and win our own way. If only you love me!

LAURA. Ah, to let myself be happy again. How can I?

MONTAGUE. If you love me, then we have the key to happiness... then everything is clear before us. We can face the world together! Do you love me? (Stretches out his arms to her.) Laura!

LAURA. (Sways toward him.) I love you.

MONTAGUE. (Embraces her.) My love!


Upton Sinclair's drama play: Machine

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