Academic journal article Chicago Review

The Lady's Choice

Academic journal article Chicago Review

The Lady's Choice

Article excerpt

CHARACTERS

ANTIONETTE NEWTON, about 30, an unmarried and unhappy heiress

ELEANOR LOWELL, the same age, happily married

GERALD WARING, a young man in his thirties, in love with Antoinette

CHRISTIAN, an allegorical character

MR. NEWTON, a successful businessman

DOCTOR, a single, medical man

RICHARDS, the butler

SCENE I

ANTOINETTE alone in living room.

ANTOINETTE:

Bone. Plume.
My hair stirs
The empty air.
These wrists twist
Stones.
A father's booty
Circles
My false beauty.

See, sinking within my eyes
A pleasurable world
Wrecked by lies,
Will and treachery.

O, the loves,
Like little launches
I have sunk
To staunch
My misery.

Little citizens, I recall
Your forests, blossoms, town halls,
Recall your foreheads all,
And your deaths
Bedeck my nights.

(RICHARDS enters.)

RICHARDS: Mrs. Lowell is here.

ANTOINETTE: Show her in.

(ELEANOR enter.)

ANTOINETTE (goes to her arms outstretched):

Eleanor, still so pretty.
You're dimmer,
Yet warmer,
Thin, perhaps,
But there's happiness
Around you.
So mannerly of you to call.

ELEANOR: So timely, Antoinette.

ANTOINETTE: Cocktails? At least a drink for friendship's sake?

ELEANOR: No, thank you.

ANTOINETTE:

Eleanor, this state of grace
Becomes you, but I swear
It's difficult for others.

I'll drink. Yes, I'll drink.
Richards, a cocktail here.

(RICHARDS pours. Leaves shaker on table and leaves. During the rest of the conversation ANTOINETTE makes herself more drinks. Her manner with these drinks is as if she not only needed the alcohol, but wanted to shock her friend.)

ELEANOR: You're home again. Back with us.

ANTOINETTE:

Not back, no nor ever home.
Passing through. Isn't that the phrase?
Resting within the ancestral halls
Collecting my wits,
Remembering my ways.

ELEANOR (partly to herself, partly to ANTOINETTE):

I've envied your travels.
The lark, day-bird. Jay,
Or any color flying.
Trees to settle in,
Earths to linger on,
Waters to skim,       To be lifted by air!
Puddings here and scorns,
All thicknesses and grooves,
Night undercover.

Longing, I thought on
You moving.
Marvels from letters,
Gossip, what rareness
You found.

ANTOINETTE:

Hush!
Draw me here to your content,
Spread it thick
And fill this hour
With so much blessedness
That I must think
On space no more, nor sense,
But turn to love again.

Tell me, Eleanor,
I've done with torment,
In what empty room
Will I find my love again?

ELEANOR:

Are you ready, yet,
Antoinette?
Prepared like a pot
For scouring?
Prepared like a cloud
For bearing?
Prepared like the poor
For an offering?

ANTOINETTE: Yes!

(RICHARDS enters.)

RICHARDS (announces GERALD, then leaves.): Here's Mr. Waring.

ELEANOR: Ah! the test!

(GERALD enters. He is disheveled, drunk, intensely in love with ANTOINETTE and on his last heels about it.)

GERALD:

There's my lair,
The she-lion, tangles,
The jungles I live on.
Thirsty, dear.
A drink here.

(ANTOINETTE pours them both a drink.)

ANTOINETTE:

Tipsy as ever.
How your wits clown.

GERALD:

There's little wit in love,
Small sense, either. All's hot
Here, steaming and green.
Ferns, stems; shocks
To tickle my fancy
And make a final ape of me.
Jack, the pearl diver.
Madagascar's my sensibility.

ELEANOR:

Is this Gerald?
This man in need of a doctor?

GERALD:

You only knew me at tennis,
Before I left home. Then I was proper.
Sportsman, clubman, banker,
Eleanor, successful pursuer,
Ardent wooer. Before the Fall,
An Adam among men.

ANTOINETTE:

Cheers, Gerald, let's drink up. … 
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