A one-act play by: Eugene O'Neill

Page 5

DANCER: [Shuddering with horror she glances instinctively at the moving shark fins] You are horrible. I had almost forgotten those monsters. It is not kind of you to be always bringing them back to my memory.

GENTLEMAN: It is well that you should not forget them. You will value your duke's present less when you look at them. [Impatiently pounding the deck with one bony hand.] Come, come, we shall both die of thirst while you are dreaming. Offer it to him! Offer it to him!

DANCER: [She takes off the necklace and, musing vacantly, turns it over in her hands watching it sparkle in the sun] It is beautiful, is it not? I hate to part with it. He was very much in love with me--the old duke. I think he would even have married me in the end. I did not like him. He was old, very old. Something came up--I forget what. I never saw him again. This is the only gift of his that I have left.

GENTLEMAN: [In a frenzy of impatience--the vision of the water clear before his glaring eyes] Damn it, why are you chattering so? Think of the water he has got. Offer it to him!

DANCER: Yes, yes, my throat is burning up; my eyes are on fire. I must have the water. [She drags herself on hands and knees across the raft to where the Negro is sitting. He does not notice her approach. She reaches out a trembling hand and touches him on the back. He turns slowly and looks at her, his round, animal eyes dull and lusterless. She holds the necklace out in her right hand before his face and speaks hurriedly in a husky voice.] Look, you have stolen our water. You deserve to be killed. We will forget all that. Look at this necklace. It was given to me by an English duke--a nobleman. It is worth a thousand pounds--five thousand dollars. It will provide for you for the rest of your life. You need not be a sailor any more. You need never work at all any more. Do you understand what that means? [The Negro does not answer. The DANCER hurries on however, her words pouring out in a sing-song jumble.] That water that you stole--well, I will give you this necklace--they are all real diamonds, you know--five thousand dollars--for that water. You need not give me all of it. I am not unreasonable. You may keep some for yourself. I would not have you die. I want just enough for myself and my friend--to keep us alive until we reach some island. My lips are cracked with heat! My head is bursting! Here, take the necklace. It is yours.

[She tries to force it into his hand. He pushes her hand away and the necklace falls to the deck of the raft, where it lies glittering among the heat waves.]

DANCER: [Her voice raised stridently] Give me the water! I have given you the necklace. Give me the water! [The GENTLEMAN, who has been watching her with anxious eyes, also cries: "Yes. Give her the water!"]

SAILOR: [His voice drawling and without expression] I have no water.

DANCER: Oh, you are cruel! Why do you lie? You see me suffering so and you lie to me. I have given you the necklace. It is worth five thousand dollars, do you understand? Surely for five thousand dollars you will give me a drink of water!

SAILOR: I have no water, I tell you.

[He turns his back to her. She crawls over to the GENTLEMAN and lies beside him, sobbing brokenly.]

GENTLEMAN: [His face convulsed with rage, shaking both fists in the air] The pig! The pig! The black dog!

DANCER: [Sitting up and wiping her eyes] Well, you have heard him. He will not give it to us. Maybe he only has a little and is afraid to share it. What shall we do now? What can we do?

GENTLEMAN: [Despondently] Nothing. He is stronger than we are. There is no wind. We will never reach an island. We can die, that is all.

[He sinks back and buries his head in his hands. A great dry sob shakes his shoulders.]

DANCER: [Her eyes flaming with a sudden resolution] Ah, who is the coward now? You have given up hope, it seems. Well, I have not. I have still one chance. It has never failed me yet.

GENTLEMAN: [Raising his head and looking at her in amazement] You are going to offer him more money?

DANCER: [With a strange smile] No. Not that. I will offer him more than money. We shall get our water.

[She tears a piece of crumpled lace off the front of her costume and carefully wipes her face with it as if she were using a powder puff.]

GENTLEMAN: [Watching her stupidly] I do not understand.

DANCER: [She pulls up her stockings--tries to smooth the wrinkles out of her dress--then takes her long hair and, having braided it, winds it into a coil around her head. She pinches her cheeks, already crimson with sunburn. Then turning coquettishly to the GENTLEMAN, she says] There! Do I not look better? How do I look?

GENTLEMAN: [Bursting into a mad guffaw] You look terrible! You are hideous!

DANCER: You lie! I am beautiful. Everyone knows I am beautiful. You yourself have said so. It is you who are hideous. You are jealous of me. I will not give you any water.

GENTLEMAN: You will get no water. You are frightful. What is it you would do--dance for him? [Mockingly.] Dance! Dance, Salome! I will be the orchestra. He will be the gallery. We will both applaud you madly.

[He leans on one elbow and watches her, chuckling to himself.]

DANCER: [Turning from him furiously and crawling on her knees over to the SAILOR, calls in her most seductive voice] Sailor! Sailor! [He does not seem to hear--she takes his arm and shakes it gently--he turns around and stares wonderingly at her.] Listen to me, Sailor. What is your name--your first name? [She smiles enticingly at him. He does not answer.] You will not tell me then? You are angry at me, are you not? I cannot blame you. I have called you bad names. I am sorry, very sorry. [Indicating the GENTLEMAN, who has ceased to notice them and is staring at the horizon with blinking eyes.] It was he who put such ideas into my head. He does not like you. Neither did I, but I see now that you are the better of the two. I hate him! He has said dreadful things which I cannot forgive. [Putting her hand on his shoulder she bends forward with her golden hair almost in his lap and smiles up into his face.] I like you, Sailor. You are big and strong. We are going to be great friends, are we not? [The Negro is hardly looking at her. He is watching the sharks.] Surely you will not refuse me a little sip of your water?

SAILOR: I have no water.

DANCER: Oh, why will you keep up this subterfuge? Am I not offering you price enough? [Putting her arm around his neck and half whispering in his ear.] Do you not understand? I will love you, Sailor! Noblemen and millionaires and all degrees of gentlemen have loved me, have fought for me. I have never loved any of them as I will love you. Look in my eyes, Sailor, look in my eyes! [Compelled in spite of himself by something in her voice, the Negro gazes deep into her eyes. For a second his nostrils dilate--he draws in his breath with a hissing sound--his body grows tense and it seems as if he is about to sweep her into his arms. Then his expression grows apathetic again. He turns to the sharks.] Oh, will you never understand? Are you so stupid that you do not know what I mean? Look! I am offering myself to you! I am kneeling before you--I who always had men kneel to me! I am offering my body to you--my body that men have called so beautiful. I have promised to love you--a Negro sailor--if you will give me one small drink of water. Is that not humiliation enough that you must keep me waiting so? [Raising her voice.] Answer me! Answer me! Will you give me that water?