Show Type
  • : 2
  • : 0
Age Ranges
  • Young Adult
  • Adult
  • Mature Adult
New York, 1920s
Act 1

Scene Context

Anna has just arrived in New York City to find her father, Chris Christopherson. It will be the

Scene Text

MARTHY—[Nodding her head sympathetically.] Sure—yuh look all in. Been on a bat?

ANNA—No—travelling—day and a half on the train. Had to sit up all night in the dirty coach, too. Gawd, I thought I'd never get here!

MARTHY—[With a start—looking at her intently.] Where'd yuh come from, huh?

ANNA—St. Paul—out in Minnesota.

MARTHY—[Staring at her in amazement—slowly.] So—yuh're—[She suddenly bursts out into hoarse, ironical laughter.] Gawd!

ANNA—All the way from Minnesota, sure. [Flaring up.] What you laughing at? Me?

MARTHY—[Hastily.] No, honest, kid. I was thinkin' of somethin' else.

ANNA—[Mollified—with a smile.] Well, I wouldn't blame you, at that. Guess I do look rotten—yust out of the hospital two weeks. I'm going to have another 'ski. What d'you say? Have something on me?

MARTHY—Sure I will. T'anks. [She calls.] Hey, Larry! Little service! [He comes in.]

ANNA—Same for me.

MARTHY—Same here. [LARRY takes their glasses and goes out.]

ANNA—Why don't you come sit over here, be sociable. I'm a dead stranger in this burg—and I ain't spoke a word with no one since day before yesterday.

MARTHY—Sure thing. [She shuffles over to ANNA'S table and sits down opposite her. LARRY brings the drinks and ANNA pays him.]

ANNA—Skoal! Here's how! [She drinks.]

MARTHY—Here's luck! [She takes a gulp from her schooner.]

ANNA—[Taking a package of Sweet Caporal cigarettes from her bag.] Let you smoke in here, won't they?

MARTHY—[Doubtfully.] Sure. [Then with evident anxiety.] On'y trow it away if yuh hear someone comin'.

ANNA—[Lighting one and taking a deep inhale.] Gee, they're fussy in this dump, ain't they? [She puffs, staring at the table top. MARTHY looks her over with a new penetrating interest, taking in every detail of her face. ANNA suddenly becomes conscious of this appraising stare—resentfully.] Ain't nothing wrong with me, is there? You're looking hard enough.

MARTHY—[Irritated by the other's tone—scornfully.] Ain't got to look much. I got your number the minute you stepped in the door.

ANNA—[Her eyes narrowing.] Ain't you smart! Well, I got yours, too, without no trouble. You're me forty years from now. That's you! [She gives a hard little laugh.]

MARTHY—[Angrily.] Is that so? Well, I'll tell you straight, kiddo, that Marthy Owen never—[She catches herself up short—with a grin.] What are you and me scrappin' over? Let's cut it out, huh? Me, I don't want no hard feelin's with no one. [Extending her hand.] Shake and forget it, huh?

ANNA—[Shakes her hand gladly.] Only too glad to. I ain't looking for trouble. Let's have 'nother. What d'you say?

MARTHY—[Shaking her head.] Not for mine. I'm full up. And you— Had anythin' to eat lately?

ANNA—Not since this morning on the train.

MARTHY—Then yuh better go easy on it, hadn't yuh?

ANNA—[After a moment's hesitation.] Guess you're right. I got to meet someone, too. But my nerves is on edge after that rotten trip.

MARTHY—Yuh said yuh was just outa the hospital?

ANNA—Two weeks ago. [Leaning over to MARTHY confidentially.] The joint I was in out in St. Paul got raided. That was the start. The judge give all us girls thirty days. The others didn't seem to mind being in the cooler much. Some of 'em was used to it. But me, I couldn't stand it. It got my goat right—couldn't eat or sleep or nothing. I never could stand being caged up nowheres. I got good and sick and they had to send me to the hospital. It was nice there. I was sorry to leave it, honest!

MARTHY—[After a slight pause.] Did yuh say yuh got to meet someone here?

ANNA—Yes. Oh, not what you mean. It's my Old Man I got to meet. Honest! It's funny, too. I ain't seen him since I was a kid—don't even know what he looks like—yust had a letter every now and then. This was always the only address he give me to write him back. He's yanitor of some building here now—used to be a sailor.

MARTHY—[Astonished.] Janitor!

ANNA—Sure. And I was thinking maybe, seeing he ain't never done a thing for me in my life, he might be willing to stake me to a room and eats till I get rested up. [Wearily.] Gee, I sure need that rest! I'm knocked out. [Then resignedly.] But I ain't expecting much from him. Give you a kick when you're down, that's what all men do. [With sudden passion.] Men, I hate 'em—all of 'em! And I don't expect he'll turn out no better than the rest. [Then with sudden interest.] Say, do you hang out around this dump much?

MARTHY—Oh, off and on.

ANNA—Then maybe you know him—my Old Man—or at least seen him?

MARTHY—It ain't old Chris, is it?

ANNA—Old Chris?

MARTHY—Chris Christopherson, his full name is.

ANNA—[Excitedly.] Yes, that's him! Anna Christopherson—that's my real name—only out there I called myself Anna Christie. So you know him, eh?

MARTHY—[Evasively.] Seen him about for years.

ANNA—Say, what's he like, tell me, honest?

MARTHY—Oh, he's short and—

ANNA—[Impatiently.] I don't care what he looks like. What kind is he?

MARTHY—[Earnestly.] Well, yuh can bet your life, kid, he's as good an old guy as ever walked on two feet. That goes!

ANNA—[Pleased.] I'm glad to hear it. Then you think's he'll stake me to that rest cure I'm after?

MARTHY—[Emphatically.] Surest thing you know. [Disgustedly.] But where'd yuh get the idea he was a janitor?

ANNA—He wrote me he was himself.

MARTHY—Well, he was lyin'. He ain't. He's captain of a barge—five men under him.

ANNA—[Disgusted in her turn.] A barge? What kind of a barge?

MARTHY—Coal, mostly.

ANNA—A coal barge! [With a harsh laugh.] If that ain't a swell job to find your long lost Old Man working at! Gee, I knew something'd be bound to turn out wrong—always does with me. That puts my idea of his giving me a rest on the bum.

MARTHY—What d'yuh mean?

ANNA—I s'pose he lives on the boat, don't he?

MARTHY—Sure. What about it? Can't you live on it, too?

ANNA—[Scornfully.] Me? On a dirty coal barge! What d'you think I am?

MARTHY—[Resentfully.] What d'yuh know about barges, huh? Bet yuh ain't never seen one. That's what comes of his bringing yuh up inland—away from the old devil sea—where yuh'd be safe—Gawd! [The irony of it strikes her sense of humor and she laughs hoarsely.]

ANNA—[Angrily.] His bringing me up! Is that what he tells people! I like his nerve! He let them cousins of my Old Woman's keep me on their farm and work me to death like a dog.

MARTHY—Well, he's got queer notions on some things. I've heard him say a farm was the best place for a kid.

ANNA—Sure. That's what he'd always answer back—and a lot of crazy stuff about staying away from the sea—stuff I couldn't make head or tail to. I thought he must be nutty.

MARTHY—He is on that one point. [Casually.] So yuh didn't fall for life on the farm, huh?

ANNA—I should say not! The old man of the family, his wife, and four sons—I had to slave for all of 'em. I was only a poor relation, and they treated me worse than they dare treat a hired girl. [After a moment's hesitation—somberly.] It was one of the sons—the youngest—started me—when I was sixteen. After that, I hated 'em so I'd killed 'em all if I'd stayed. So I run away—to St. Paul.

MARTHY—[Who has been listening sympathetically.] I've heard Old Chris talkin' about your bein' a nurse girl out there. Was that all a bluff yuh put up when yuh wrote him?

ANNA—Not on your life, it wasn't. It was true for two years. I didn't go wrong all at one jump. Being a nurse girl was yust what finished me. Taking care of other people's kids, always listening to their bawling and crying, caged in, when you're only a kid yourself and want to go out and see things. At last I got the chance—to get into that house. And you bet your life I took it! [Defiantly.] And I ain't sorry neither. [After a pause—with bitter hatred.] It was all men's fault—the whole business. It was men on the farm ordering and beating me—and giving me the wrong start. Then when I was a nurse, it was men again hanging around, bothering me, trying to see what they could get. [She gives a hard laugh.] And now it's men all the time. Gawd, I hate 'em all, every mother's son of 'em! Don't you?

MARTHY—Oh, I dunno. There's good ones and bad ones, kid. You've just had a run of bad luck with 'em, that's all. Your Old Man, now—old Chris—he's a good one.

ANNA—[Sceptically.] He'll have to show me.

MARTHY—Yuh kept right on writing him yuh was a nurse girl still, even after yuh was in the house, didn't yuh?

ANNA—Sure. [Cynically.] Not that I think he'd care a darn.

MARTHY—Yuh're all wrong about him, kid, [Earnestly.] I know Old Chris well for a long time. He's talked to me 'bout you lots o' times. He thinks the world o' you, honest he does.

ANNA—Aw, quit the kiddin'!

MARTHY—Honest! Only, he's a simple old guy, see? He's got nutty notions. But he means well, honest.

O'Neill, Eugene. Anna Christie []