SCENE — A forward section of the main deck of the British tramp steamer Glencairn
, at anchor off an island in the West Indies. The full moon, half — way up the sky, throws a clear light on the deck. The sea is calm and the ship motionless.
On the left two of the derrick booms of the foremast jut out at an angle of forty — five degrees, black against the sky. In the rear the dark outline of the port bulwark is sharply defined against a distant strip of coral beach, white in the moonlight, fringed with coco palms whose tops rise clear of the horizon. On the right is the forecastle with an open doorway in the center leading to the seamen's and firemen's compartments. On either side of the doorway are two closed doors opening on the quarters of the bosun, the ship's carpenter, the messroom steward, and the donkeyman — what might be called the petty officers of the ship. Near each bulwark there is also a short stairway, like a section of fire escape, leading up to the forecastle head (the top of the forecastle) — the edge of which can be seen on the right.
In the center of the deck, and occupying most of the space, is the large, raised square of the number one hatch, covered with canvas, battened down for the night.
A melancholy native chant, faint and far — off, drifts, crooning, over the water.
Most of the seamen and firemen are reclining or sitting on the hatch. Paul is leaning against the port bulwark, the upper part of his stocky figure outlined against the sky. Smitty and Cocky are sitting on the edge of the forecastle head with their legs dangling over. Nearly all are smoking pipes or cigarettes. The majority are dressed in patched suits of dungaree. Quite a few are in their bare feet and some of them, especially the firemen, have nothing on but a pair of pants and an undershirt. A good many wear caps.
There is the low murmur of different conversations going on in the separate groups as the curtain rises. This is followed by a sudden silence in which the singing from the land can be plainly heard.
DRISCOLL — (a powerfully built Irishman who is on the edge of the hatch, front — irritably) Will you listen to them? I wonder now, do they call that keening a song?
SMITTY — (a young Englishman with a blond mustache. He is sitting on the forecastle head looking out over the water with his chin supported on his hands) It doesn't make a chap feel very cheerful, does it? (He sighs.)
COCKY — (a wizened runt of a man with a straggling gray mustache — slapping Smitty on the back) Cheerio, old dear! Don't be so down, Duke. She loves you.
SMITTY — (gloomily) Shut up, Cocky. (He turns away from Cocky and falls to dreaming again, staring toward the spot on shore where the singing seems to come from.)
BIG FRANK — (a huge fireman sprawled out on the right of the hatch waving a hand toward the land) They must be burying somebody — py chiminy Christmas, I think so from way it sounds.
YANK — (a rather good-looking rough who is sitting beside Driscoll) What do you mean, bury? They don't plant them down here, Dutchy. They eat them to save funeral expenses. I guess this guy went down the wrong way and they got indigestion.
COCKY — Indigestion! Don't you know these blokes have two stomachs, like a bleeding camel?
DAVIS — (a short, dark man seated on the right of hatch) And you have seen that, I suspect, haven't you?
COCKY — (scornfully) Don't be showing your ignorance by trying to mock me, who has seen more of the world than you ever will.
MAX — (a Swedish fireman — from the rear of hatch) Spin that yarn, Cocky.
COCKY — It's God's truth, what I told you. I heard it from a bloke who was taken prisoner by them in the Solomon Islands. Shipped with him one voyage. It was a rare treat to hear him tell what happened to him among them. (musingly) He was a funny bird, he was — sailed from Mile End, he did.
DRISCOLL — (with a snort) Another lying Cockney, the like of yourself!
LAMPS — (a fat Swede who is sitting on a camp stool in front of his door talking with Chips) Where did you meet up with him, Cocky?
CHIPS — (a lanky Scotchman — derisively) In New Guinea, I'll lay my oath!
COCKY — (defiantly) Yes! It was in New Guinea, that time I was shipwrecked there. (There is a perfect storm of groans and laughter at this speech.)
YANK — (getting up) You know what we said you would get if you sprung any of that lying New Guinea dope on us again, don't you? Close that trap if you don't want a ducking over the side.
COCKY — Ow, I was only trying to educate you a bit. (He sinks into dignified silence.)
YANK — (nodding toward the shore) Don't you know this is the West Indies, you crazy mut? There are no cannibals here. They're only common people.
DRISCOLL — (irritably) Whatever they are, the devil take their crying. It's enough to give a man the jigs listening to them.
YANK — (with a grin) What's the matter, Drisc? You're as sore as a boil about something.
DRISCOLL — I'm dying with impatience to have a drink; and that blasted bumboat woman took her oath she'd bring back rum enough for the lot of us when she came back on board tonight.
BIG FRANK — (overhearing this — in a loud eager voice) You say the bumboat woman will bring booze?
DRISCOLL — (sarcastically) That's right — tell the Old Man about it, and the Mate, too. (All of the crew have edged nearer to Driscoll and are listening to the conversation with an air of suppressed excitement. Driscoll lowers his voice impressively and addresses them all.) She said she could sneak it on board in the bottoms of their baskets of fruit they're going to bring with them to sell to us.
THE DONKEYMAN — (an old gray-headed man with a kindly, wrinkled face. He is sitting on a camp stool in front of his door, right front.) She'll be bringing some women with her this time — or times have changed since I was here last.
DRISCOLL — She said she would — two or three — more, maybe, I dunno. (This announcement is received with great enthusiasm by all hands.)
COCKY — What a bloody lark!
OLSON — Py yingo, we are going to have one hell of a time!
DRISCOLL — (warningly) Remember, you must be quiet about it, you scuts — with the drink, I mean — even if the boss is ashore. The Old Man ordered her to bring no booze on board or he wouldn't buy a thing off of her for the ship.
PADDY — (a squat, ugly Liverpool Irishman) To the devil with him!
BIG FRANK — (turning on him) Shut up, you damn fool, Paddy! You want to make trouble? (to Driscoll) You and me, we keep them quiet, Drisc.
DRISCOLL — Right you are, Dutchy. I'll split the skull of the first one of you starts to fight. (Three bells are heard striking.)
DAVIS — Three bells. When's she coming, Drisc?
DRISCOLL — She'll be here any minute now, surely. (to Paul, who has returned to his position by the bulwark after hearing Driscoll's news) Do you see them coming, Paul?
PAUL — I don't see anyting like a bumboat. (They all set themselves to wait, lighting pipes, cigarettes, and making themselves comfortable. There is a silence broken only by the mournful singing of the people on shore.)
SMITTY — (slowly — with a trace of melancholy) I wish they'd stop that song. It makes you think of — well — things you ought to forget. Rummy go, what?
COCKY — (slapping him on the back) Cheero, old love! We'll be having our rum in half an hour, Duke. (He comes down to the deck, leaving Smitty alone on the forecastle head.)
BIG FRANK — Sing something, Drisc. Then we don't hear that yelling.
DAVIS — Give us a chanty, Drisc.
PADDY — One all of us knows.
MAX — We all sing in on chorus.
OLSON — “Rio Grande,” Drisc.
BIG FRANK — No, we don't know that. Sing “Wiskey Johnny.”
COCKY — Now! Give us “Maid o' Amsterdam.”
LAMPS — “Santa Anna” is a good one.
DRISCOLL — Shut your mouths, all of you. (scornfully) A chanty it is you want? I'll bet my whole pay day there's not one in the crowd accepting Yank here, and Ollie, and myself, and Lamps and Cocky, maybe, who would be sailor enough to know the main from mizzen on a windjammer. You've heard the names of chanties but devil a note of the tune or a line of the words do you know. There's hardly a real deep-water sailor left on the seas, more's the pity.
YANK — Give us “Blow The Man Down.” We all know some of that. (A chorus of assenting voices:) Yes! — Righto! — Let her drive! Start her, Drisc! etc.)
DRISCOLL — Come in then, all of you. (He sings) As I was a — roaming down Paradise Street —
ALL — Wa-a-ay, blow the man down!
DRISCOLL — As I was a-roaming down Paradise Street —
ALL — Give us some time to blow the man down!
Blow the man down, boys, oh, blow the man down!
Wa-a-ay, blow the man down!
As I was a-roaming down Paradise Street —
Give us some time to blow the man down!
DRISCOLL — A pretty young maiden I chanced for to meet.
ALL — Wa-a-ay, blow the man down!
DRISCOLL — A pretty young maiden I chanced for to meet.
ALL — Give us some time to blow the man down!
CHORUS — Blow the man down, boys, oh, blow the man down!
Wa-a-ay, blow the man down!
A pretty young maiden I chanced for to meet.
Give us some time to blow the man down!
PAUL — (just as Driscoll is clearing his throat preparatory to starting the next verse) Hey, Drisc! Here she comes, I think. Some bumboat coming this way. (They all rush to the side and look toward the land.)
YANK — There's five or six of them in it — and they paddle like skirts.
DRISCOLL — (wildly elated) Hurray, you scuts! It is them right enough. (He does a few jig steps on the deck.)
OLSON — (after a pause during which all are watching the approaching boat) Py yingo, I see six in the boat, yes Sir!
DAVIS — I can make out the baskets. See them there amid the ship?
BIG FRANK — What kind of booze do they bring — wiskey?
DRISCOLL — Rum, fine West Indy rum with a kick in it like a mule's hind leg.
LAMPS — Maybe she doesn't bring any; maybe skipper scared her.
DRISCOLL — Don't be throwing cold water, Lamps. I'll skin her hide off of her if she goes back on her word.
YANK — Here they come. Listen to them giggling. (calling) Oh, you kiddo! (The sound of women's voices can be heard talking and laughing.)
DRISCOLL — (calling) Is it you, Mrs. Old Joe?
A WOMAN'S VOICE — Hello, Mike (There is loud feminine laughter at this retort.)
DRISCOLL — Shake a leg and come aboard then.
THE WOMAN'S VOICE — We're coming!
DRISCOLL — Come on, Yank. You and me'd best be going to give them a hand with their luggage. It will put them in good spirits.
COCKY — (as they start off left) Ho, you ain't half a fox, Drisc. Don't drink it all before we see it.
DRISCOLL — (over his shoulder) You'll be having yours, sonny, don't fret. (He and Yank go off left.)
COCKY — (licking his lips) God blimey, I can do with a wet.
CHIPS — I'll bet there ain't none of us who will let any go to waste.
BIG FRANK — I could drink a whole barrel myself, py chimminy Christmas!
COCKY — I hope all the girls ain't as blooming ugly as her.
PADDY — You'll be lucky if any of them looks at you, you squint-eyed runt.
COCKY — (angrily) Ho, yes? You ain't no bleeding beauty prize yourself, my man. A hairy ape, I call you.
PADDY — (walking toward him — truculently) What's that? Say it again if you dare.
COCKY — (his hand on his sheath knife — snarling) Hairy ape! That's what I say! (Paddy tries to reach him but the others keep them apart.)
BIG FRANK — (pushing Paddy back) What's the matter with you, Paddy. Don't you hear what Driscoll said — no fighting?
PADDY — (grumblingly) I don't take no back talk from that deck-scrubbing shrimp.
COCKY — Blasted coal-puncher! (Driscoll appears wearing a broad grin of satisfaction. The fight is immediately forgotten by the crowd who gather around him with exclamations of eager curiosity:) How is it, Drisc? Any luck? What did she bring, Drisc? Where are the girls? etc.)
DRISCOLL — (with an apprehensive glance back at the bridge) Not so loud, for the love of heaven! (The clamor dies down.) Yes, she has it with her. She'll be here in a minute with a pint bottle or two for each one of you — three shillings a bottle. So don't be impatient.
COCKY — (indignantly) Three bob! The bloody cow!
SMITTY — (with an ironic smile) Grand larceny, by God! (They all turn and look up at him, surprised to hear him speak.)
OLSON — Py yingo, we won't pay so much.
BIG FRANK — Damned thief!
PADDY — We'll take it away from her and give her nothing.
THE CROWD — (growling) Dirty thief! That's right! Give her nothing! Not a blooming penny! etc.
DRISCOLL — (grinning) You can take it or leave it, my sonnies. (He casts a glance in the direction of the bridge and then reaches inside his shirt and pulls out a pint bottle.) This is fine rum, the real stuff. (He drinks.) I slipped this one out of one of the baskets when they weren't looking. (He hands the bottle to Olson, who is nearest him.) Here you are, Ollie. Take a small sip and pass it to the next. It isn't much but it will serve to take the black taste out of your mouths if you go easy with it. And there's buckets more of it coming. (The bottle passes from hand to hand, each man taking a sip and smacking his lips with a deep “Aaah” of satisfaction.)
DAVIS — Where's she now, Drisc?
DRISCOLL — Up having a word with the skipper, making arrangements about the money, I suppose.
DAVIS — And where are the other girls?
DRISCOLL — With her. There's five of them she took aboard — two sweet little slips of things, for that gray-whiskered old fool, and the mates — and the engineers too, maybe. The rest of them'll be coming forward when she comes.
COCKY — He ain't half a funny old bird, the skipper. God blimey! Remember when we sailed from home, how he stands on the bridge looking like a bloody old sky pilot? And his misses down on the blooming dock fit to kill herself? And his kids howling and waving their handkerchiefs? (with great moral indignation) And here he is, making up to that bleeding woman! There's a captain for you! God blimey! Bloody crab, I call him!
DRISCOLL — Shut up, you insect! Sure, it's not you who should be talking, you with a woman and children weeping for you in every devil's port in the wide world, if we can believe your own tale of it.
COCKY — (still indignant) I ain't no blooming captain, I ain't. I ain't got no misses — regular married, I mean. I ain't —
BIG FRANK — (putting a huge paw over Cocky's mouth) You ain't going to talk so much, you hear? (Cocky wriggles away from him.) Say, Drisc, how do we pay this woman for the booze? We ain't got no cash.
DRISCOLL — It's easy enough. Each girl will have a slip of paper with her and when you buy anything, you write it down and the price beside it and sign your your name. If you can't write, have someone who can do it for you. And remember this: When you buy a bottle of drink or (with a wink) something else, you must write down tobacco or fruit or something the like of that. When she leaves, the skipper will pay what's owing on the paper and take it out of your pay. Is it clear to you now?
ALL — Yes — Clear as day — Alright, Drisc — Righto — Sure. etc.
DRISCOLL — And don't forget what I said about being quiet with the drink, or the Mate will be down on our necks and spoil the fun. (a chorus of assent)
DAVIS — (looking aft) Ain't this them coming? (They all took in that direction. The silly laughter of a woman is heard.)
DRISCOLL — Look at Yank, would you, with his arm around the middle of one of them. That lad's not wasting any time. (The four women enter from the left, giggling and whispering to each other. The first three carry baskets on their heads. The youngest and best-looking comes last. Yank has his arm about her waist and is carrying her basket in his other hand. All four are natives. They wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes and have bright bandana handkerchiefs on their heads. They put down their baskets on the hatch and sit down beside them. The men crowd around, grinning.)
BELLA — (she is the oldest, stoutest, and homeliest of the four — grinning back at them) Hello, boys.
THE OTHER GIRLS — Hello, boys.
THE MEN — Hello, yourself — Evening — Hello — How are you? etc.
BELLA — (genially) I hope you had a nice voyage. My name's Bella, this here's Susie, yonder's Violet, and her there (pointing to the girl with Yank) is Pearl. Now we all know each other.
PADDY — (roughly) Never mind the girls. Where's the drink?
BELLA — (tartly) You're a hog, aren't you? Don't talk so loud, or you don't get any — you nor any other man. Do you think I want the old Captain to put me off the ship, do you?
YANK — Yes, nix the hollering, you! Do you want to queer all of us?
BELLA — (casting a quick glance over her shoulder) Here! Some of you big strapping boys sit behind us on the hatch there so the officers can't see what we're doing. (Driscoll and several of the others sit and stand in back of the girls on the hatch. Bella turns to Driscoll.) Did you tell them they have to sign for what they get — and how to sign?
DRISCOLL — I did — what's your name again — oh, yes — Bella, darling.
BELLA — Then it's all right; but you boys have got to go inside the forecastle when you get your bottle. No drinking out here on deck. I'm not taking chances. (An impatient murmur of assent goes up from the crowd.) Ain't that right, Mike?
DRISCOLL — Right as rain, darling. (Big Frank leans over and says something to him in a low voice. Driscoll laughs and slaps his thigh.) Listen, Bella, I have something to ask you for my little friend here who's bashful. It has to do with the ladies so I'd best be whispering it to you myself to keep them from blushing. (He leans over and asks her a question.)
BELLA — (firmly) Four shillings.
DRISCOLL — (laughing) Did you hear that, all of you? Four shillings it is.
PADDY — (angrily) To hell with this talking. I want a drink.
BELLA — Is everything all right, Mike?
DRISCOLL — (after a look back at the bridge) Sure. Let her drive!
BELLA — All right, girls. (The girls reach down in their baskets in under the fruit which is on top and pulls out a pint bottle. Four of the men crowd and take the bottles.) Fetch a light, Lamps, that's a good boy. (Lamps goes to his room and returns with a candle. This is passed from one girl to another as the men sign the sheets of paper for their bottles.) Don't you boys forget to mark down cigarettes or tobacco or fruit, remember! Three shillings is the price. Take it into the forecastle. For God's sake, don't stand out here drinking in the moonlight. (The four go into the forecastle. Four more take their places. Paddy plants himself in front of Pearl who is sitting by Yank with his arm still around her.)
PADDY — (gruffly) Give me that! (She holds out a bottle which he snatches from her hand. He turns to go away.)
YANK — (sharply) Here, you! Where do you get that stuff? You havenn't signed for that yet.
PADDY — (sullenly) I can't write my name.
YANK — Then I'll write it for you. (He takes the paper from Pearl and writes.) There isn't going to be no welching on little Bright Eyes here — not when I'm around, see? Ain't I right, kiddo?
PEARL — (with a grin) Yes, sir.
BELLA — (seeing all four are served) Take it into the forecastle, boys. (Paddy defiantly raises his bottle and gulps down a drink in the full moonlight. Bella sees him.) Look at him! Look at the dirty swine! (Paddy slouches into the forecastle.) Wants to get me in trouble. That settles it! We all got to, get inside, boys, where we won't get caught. Come on, girls. (The girls pick up their baskets and follow Bella. Yank and Pearl are the last to reach the doorway. She lingers behind him, her eyes fixed on Smitty, who is still sitting on the forecastle head, his chin on his hands, staring off into vacancy.)
PEARL — (waving a hand to attract his attention) Come on in, pretty boy. I like you.
SMITTY — (coldly) Yes; I want to buy a bottle, please. (He goes down the steps and follows her into the forecastle. No one remains on deck but the Donkeyman, who sits smoking his pipe in front of his door. There is the subdued babble of voices from the crowd inside but the mournful cadence of the song from the shore can again be faintly heard. Smitty reappears and closes the door to the forecastle after him. Then he lifts the bottle which is in his hand to his lips and gulps down a long drink. The Donkeyman watches him impassively. Smitty sits down on the hatch facing him. Now that the closed door has shut off nearly all the noise the singing from shore comes clearly over the moonlit water.)
SMITTY — (listening to it for a moment) Damn that song of theirs. (He takes another big drink.) What do you say, Donk?
THE DONKEYMAN — (quietly) Seems nice and sleepy-like.
SMITTY — (with a hard laugh) Sleepy! If I listened to it long — sober — I'd never go to sleep.
THE DONKEYMAN — It ain't such bad music, is it? Sounds kind of pretty to me — low and mournful — same as listening to the organ outside of church of a Sunday.
SMITTY — (with a touch of impatience) I didn't mean it was bad music. It isn't. It's the beastly memories the damn thing brings up — for some reason. (He takes another pull at the bottle.)
THE DONKEYMAN — Ever hear it before?
SMITTY — No; never in my life. It's just a something about the rotten thing which makes me think of — well — oh, the devil! (He forces a laugh.)
THE DONKEYMAN — (spitting placidly) Queer things, memories. I ain't ever been bothered much by them.
SMITTY — (looking at him fixedly for a moment — with quiet scorn) No, you wouldn't be.
THE DONKEYMAN — Not that I ain't had my share of things going wrong; but I put them out of my mind, and forget them.
SMITTY — But suppose you couldn't put them out of your mind? Suppose they haunted you when you were awake and when you were asleep — what then?
THE DONKEYMAN — (quietly) I'd get drunk, same as you're doing.
SMITTY — (with a harsh laugh) Good advice. (He takes another drink. He is beginning to show the effects of the liquor. His face is flushed and he talks rather wildly.) We're poor little lambs who have lost our way, eh, Donk? Damned from here to eternity, what? God have mercy on such as we! True, isn't it, Donk?
THE DONKEYMAN — Maybe; I dunno. (after a slight pause) Whatever set you going to sea? You ain't made for it.
SMITTY — (laughing wildly) My old friend in the bottle here, Donk.
THE DONKEYMAN — I've done my share of drinking in my time. (regretfully) These were good times, those days. Can't hold up under drink no more. Doctor told me I'd got to stop or die. (He spits contentedly.) So I stopped.
SMITTY — (with a foolish smile) Then I'll drink one for you. Here's your health, old top! (He drinks.)
THE DONKEYMAN — (after a pause) Suppose there's a girl mixed up in it someplace, ain't there?
SMITTY — (stiffly) What makes you think so?
THE DONKEYMAN — Always is when a man lets music bother him. (after a few puffs at his pipe) And she said she threw you over because you were a drunk; and you said you were a drunk because she threw you over. (He spits leisurely.) Queer thing, love, ain't it?
SMITTY — (rising to his feet with drunken dignity) I'll trouble you not to pry into my affairs, Donkeyman.
THE DONKEYMAN — (unmoved) That's everybody's affair, what I said. I've been through it many's the time. (genially) I always hit them a whack on the ear and went out and got drunker than ever. When I got home again, they always had something special nice cooked for me to eat. (puffing at his pipe) That's the only way to fix them when they get on their high horse. I don't suppose you ever tried that?
SMITTY — (pompously) Gentlemen don't hit women.
THE DONKEYMAN — (placidly) No; that's why they have memories when they hear music. (Smitty does not deign to reply to this but sinks into a scornful silence. Davis and the girl Violet come out of the forecastle and close the door behind them. He is staggering a bit and she is laughing shrilly.)
DAVIS — (turning to the left) This way, Rose, or Pansy, or Jessamine, or black Tulip, or Violet, or whatever the hell flower your name is. No one'll see us back here. (They go off left.)
THE DONKEYMAN — There's love at first sight for you — and plenty more of the same in the forecastle. No memories with that.
SMITTY — (really repelled) Shut up, Donk. You're disgusting. (He takes a long drink.)
THE DONKEYMAN — (philosophically) All depends on how you were brought up, I suppose. (Pearl comes out of the forecastle. There is a roar of voices from inside. She shuts the door behind her, sees Smitty on the hatch, and comes over and sits beside him and puts her arm over his shoulder.)
THE DONKEYMAN — (chuckling) There's love for you, Duke.
PEARL — (patting Smitty's face with her hand) Hello; pretty boy. (Smitty pushes her hand away coldly.) What are you doing out here all alone by yourself?
SMITTY — (with a twisted grin) Thinking and — (he indicates the bottle in his hand) — drinking to stop thinking. (He drinks and laughs maudlinly. The bottle is three-quarters empty.)
PEARL — You oughtn't drink so much, pretty boy. Don't you know that? You wil have a big, big headache come morning.
PEARL — That's true. I know what I say. (cooingly) Why do you run away from me, pretty boy? I like you. I don' like the other fellows. They act too rough. You ain't rough. You're a gentleman. I know. I can tell a gentleman when I see one.
SMITTY — Thank you for the compliment; but you're wrong, you see. I'm merely — a ranker. (He adds bitterly) And a rotter.
PEARL — (patting his arm) No, you ain't. I know better. You're a gentleman. (insinuatingly) I wouldn't have anything to do with the other men, but (she smiles at him enticingly) you are different. (He pushes her away from him disgustedly. She pouts.) Don't you like me, pretty boy?
SMITTY — (a bit ashamed) I beg your pardon. I didn't mean to be rude, you know, really. (His politeness is drunkenly exaggerated.) I don't feel quite well.
PEARL — (brightening up) Then you do like me — a little?
SMITTY — (carelessly) Yes, yes, why shouldn't I? (He suddenly laughs wildly and puts his arm around her waist and presses her to him.) Why not? (He pulls his arm back quickly as if having a sudden feeling of guilt, and takes a drink. Pearl looks at him curiously, puzzled by his strange actions. The, door from the forecastle is kicked open and Yank comes out. The uproar of shouting, laughing and singing voices has increased in violence. Yank staggers over toward Smitty and Pearl.)
YANK — (blinking at them) What the hell — oh, it's you, Smitty the Duke. I was going to turn one loose on the jaw of any guy who'd cop my dame, but seeing it's you — (sentimentally) Pals will be pals and any pal of mine can have anything I got, see? (holding out his hand) Shake, Duke. (Smitty takes his hand and he pumps it up and down.) You and me are friends. Ain't I right?
SMITTY — Right it is, Yank. But you're wrong about this girl. She isn't with me. She was just going back to the forecastle to you. (Pearl looks at him with hatred gathering in her eyes.)
YANK — (grabbing her arm) Come on then, you, Pearl! Le's have a drink with the bunch. (He pulls her to the entrance, where she shakes off his hand long enough to turn on Smitty furiously.)
PEARL — You swine! You can go to hell! (She goes in the forecastle, slamming the door.)
THE DONKEYMAN — (spitting calmly) There's love for you. They're all the same — women, they are. A whack on the ear's the only thing that'll teach them. (Smitty makes no reply but laughs harshly and takes another drink; then sits staring before him, the almost empty bottle tightly clutched in one hand. There is an increase in volume of the muffled clamor from the forecastle and a moment later the door is thrown open and the whole mob, led by Driscoll, pours out on deck. All of them are very drunk and several of them carry bottles in their hands. Bella is the only one of the women who is absolutely sober. She tries in vain to keep the men quiet. Pearl drinks from Yank's bottle every moment or so, laughing shrilly, and leaning against Yank, whose arm is about her waist. Paul comes out last carrying an accordion. He staggers over and stands on top of the hatch, his instrument under his arm.)
DRISCOLL — Play us a dance, you square-headed swab! — a real, Godforsaken son of a turkey trot with guts to it.
YANK — Straight from the old Barbary Coast in Frisco!
PAUL — I don' know. I will try. (He commences tuning up.)
YANK — Attaboy! Let her rip! (Davis and Violet come back and join the crowd. The Donkeyman looks on them all with a detached, indulgent air. Smitty stares before him and does not seem to know there is any one on deck but himself.)
BIG FRANK — Dance? I don't dance. I drink! (He suits the action to the word and roars with meaningless laughter.))
DRISCOLL — Get out of the way then, you big hulk, and give us some room. (Big Frank sits down on the hatch, right. All of the others who are not going to dance either follow his example or lean against the port bulwark.)
BELLA — (on the verge of tears at her inability to get them in the forecastle or make them be quiet now they are out) For God's sake, boys, don't shout so loud! Want to get me in trouble?
DRISCOLL — (grabbing her) Dance with me, my queen. (Some one drops a bottle on deck and it smashes.)
BELLA — (hysterically) There they go! There they go! The Captain will hear that! Oh, my Lord!
DRISCOLL — Be damned to him! Here's the music! Off you go! (Paul starts playing “You Great Big Beautiful Doll” with a note left out every now and then. The four couples commence dancing — a jerk-shouldered version of the old Turkey Trot as it was done in the sailor-town dives, made more grotesque by the fact that all the couples are drunk and keep lurching into each other every moment. Two of the men start dancing together, intentionally bumping into the others. Yank and Pearl come around in front of Smitty and, as they pass him, Pearl slaps him across the side of the face with all her might, and laughs viciously. He jumps to his feet with his fists clenched but sees who hit him and sits down again smiling bitterly. Yank laughs boisterously.)
YANK — Wow! Some wallop! One on you, Duke.
DRISCOLL — (hurling his cap at Paul) Faster, you toad! (Paul makes frantic efforts to speed up and the music suffers in the process.)
BELLA — (puffing) Let me go. I'm worn out with you stepping on my toes, you clumsy Mick. (She struggles but Driscoll holds her tight.)
DRISCOLL — God blast you for having such big feet, then. Easy, easy, Mrs. Old Black Joe! This dancing will take the blubber off you. (He whirls her around the deck by main force. Cocky, with Susie, is dancing near the hatch, right, when Paddy, who is sitting on the edge with Big Frank, sticks his foot out and the wavering couple stumble over it and fall flat on the deck. A roar of laughter goes up. Cocky rises to his feet, his face livid with rage, and springs at Paddy, who promptly knocks him down. Driscoll hits Paddy and Big Frank hits Driscoll. In a flash a wholesale fight has broken out and the deck is a surging crowd of drink-maddened men hitting out at each other indiscriminately, although the general idea seems to be a battle between seamen and firemen. The women shriek and take refuge on top of the hatch, where they huddle in a frightened group. Finally there is the flash of a knife held high in the moonlight and a loud yell of pain.)
DAVIS — (somewhere in the crowd) Here's the Mate coming! Let's get out of this! (There is a general rush for the forecastle. In a moment there is no one left on deck but the little group of women on the hatch; Smitty, still dazedly rubbing his cheek; The Donkeyman quietly smoking on his stool; and Yank and Driscoll, their faces battered up considerably, their undershirts in shreds, bending over the still form of Paddy, which lies stretched out on the deck between them. In the silence the mournful, chant from the shore creeps slowly out to the ship.)
DRISCOLL — (quickly — in a low voice) Who knifed him?
YANK — (stupidly) I didn't see it. How do I know? Cocky, I'll bet. (The First Mate enters from the left. He is a tall, strongly-built man dressed in a in blue uniform.)
THE MATE — (angrily) What's all this noise about? (He sees the man lying on the deck.) Hello! What's this? (He bends down on one knee beside Paddy.)
DRISCOLL — (stammering) All of us — were in a bit of a harmless fight, sir — and — l dunno — (The Mate rolls Paddy over and sees a knife wound on his shoulder.)
THE MATE — Knifed, by God. (He takes an electric flash from his pocket and examines the cut.) Lucky it's only a flesh wound. He must have hit his head on deck when he fell. That's what knocked him out. This is only a scratch. Take him aft and I'll bandage him up.
DRISCOLL — Yes, sir. (They take Paddy by the shoulders and feet and carry him off left. The Mate looks up and sees the women on the hatch for the first time.)
THE MATE — (surprised) Hello! (He walks to them.) Go to the cabin and get your money and clear off. If I had my way, you'd never — (His foot hits a bottle. He stoops down and picks it up and smells of it.) Rum, by God! So that's the trouble! I thought their breaths smelled damn queer. (to the women, harshly) You needn't go to the skipper for any money. You won't get any. That'll teach you to smuggle rum on a ship and start a riot.
THE MATE — (sternly) You know the agreement — rum — no money.
BELLA — (indignantly) Honest to God, Mister, I never brought any —
THE MATE — (fiercely) You're a liar! And none of your lip or I'll make a complaint ashore tomorrow and have you locked up.
BELLA — (subdued) Please, Mister —
THE MATE — Clear out of this, now! Not another word out of you! Tumble over the side damn quick! The two others are waiting for you. Hop, now! (They walk quickly — almost run — off to the left. The Mate follows them, nodding to the Donkeyman, and ignoring the oblivious Smitty.)
There is absolute silence on the ship for a few moments. The melancholy song of the natives drifts crooning over the water. Smitty listens to it intently for a time; then sighs heavily, a sigh that is half a sob.
SMITTY — God! (He drinks the last drop in the bottle and throws it behind him on the hatch.)
THE DONKEYMAN — (spitting tranquilly) More memories? (Smitty does not answer him. The ship's bell tolls four bells. The Donkeyman knocks out his pipe.) I think I'll turn in. (He opens the door to his cabin, but turns to look at Smitty — kindly.) You can't hear it in the forecastle — the music, I mean — and there'll likely be more drink in there, too. Good night. (He goes in and shuts the door.)
SMITTY — Good night, Donk. (He gets wearily to his feet and walks with bowed shoulders, a bit, to the forecastle entrance and goes in. There is silence for a second or so, broken only by the haunted, saddened voice of that brooding music, and far-off, like the mood of the moonlight made audible.)
(The Curtain Falls)