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

Scene Context

Anna has arrived in New York City to meet her father, Chris, whom she has not seen for fifteen

Scene Text


ANNA—[Acutely embarrassed in her turn.] Hello—father. She told me it was you. I yust got here a little while ago.

CHRIS—[Goes slowly over to her chair.] It's good—for see you—after all dem years, Anna. [He bends down over her. After an embarrassed struggle they manage to kiss each other.]

ANNA—[A trace of genuine feeling in her voice.] It's good to see you, too.

CHRIS—[Grasps her arms and looks into her face—then overcome by a wave of fierce tenderness.] Anna lilla! Anna lilla! [Takes her in his arms.]

ANNA—[Shrinks away from him, half-frightened.] What's that—Swedish? I don't know it. [Then as if seeking relief from the tension in a voluble chatter.] Gee, I had an awful trip coming here. I'm all in. I had to sit up in the dirty coach all night—couldn't get no sleep, hardly—and then I had a hard job finding this place. I never been in New York before, you know, and—

CHRIS—[Who has been staring down at her face admiringly, not hearing what she says—impulsively.] You know you vas awful pooty gel, Anna? Ay bet all men see you fall in love with you, py yiminy!

ANNA—[Repelled—harshly.] Cut it! You talk same as they all do.

CHRIS—[Hurt—humbly.] Ain't no harm for your fader talk dat vay, Anna.

ANNA—[Forcing a short laugh.] No—course not. Only—it's funny to see you and not remember nothing. You're like—a stranger.

CHRIS—[Sadly.] Ay s'pose. Ay never come home only few times ven you vas kit in Sveden. You don't remember dat?

ANNA—No. [Resentfully.] But why didn't you never come home them days? Why didn't you never come out West to see me?

CHRIS—[Slowly.] Ay tank, after your mo'der die, ven Ay vas avay on voyage, it's better for you you don't never see me! [He sinks down in the chair opposite her dejectedly—then turns to her—sadly.] Ay don't know, Anna, vhy Ay never come home Sveden in ole year. Ay vant come home end of every voyage. Ay vant see your mo'der, your two bro'der before dey vas drowned, you ven you vas born—but—Ay—don't go. Ay sign on oder ships—go South America, go Australia, go China, go every port all over world many times—but Ay never go aboard ship sail for Sveden. Ven Ay gat money for pay passage home as passenger den—[He bows his head guiltily.] Ay forgat and Ay spend all money. Ven Ay tank again, it's too late. [He sighs.] Ay don't know vhy but dat's vay with most sailor fallar, Anna. Dat ole davil sea make dem crazy fools with her dirty tricks. It's so.

ANNA—[Who has watched him keenly while he has been speaking—with a trace of scorn in her voice.] Then you think the sea's to blame for everything, eh? Well, you're still workin' on it, ain't you, spite of all you used to write me about hating it. That dame was here told me you was captain of a coal barge—and you wrote me you was yanitor of a building!

CHRIS—[Embarrassed but lying glibly.] Oh, Ay work on land long time as yanitor. Yust short time ago Ay got dis yob cause Ay vas sick, need open air.

ANNA—[Sceptically.] Sick? You? You'd never think it.

CHRIS—And, Anna, dis ain't real sailor yob. Dis ain't real boat on sea. She's yust ole tub—like piece of land with house on it dat float. Yob on her ain't sea yob. No. Ay don't gat yob on sea, Anna, if Ay die first. Ay swear dat, ven your mo'der die. Ay keep my word, py yingo!

ANNA—[Perplexed.] Well, I can't see no difference. [Dismissing the subject.] Speaking of being sick, I been there myself—yust out of the hospital two weeks ago.

CHRIS—[Immediately all concern.] You, Anna? Py golly! [Anxiously.] You feel better now, dough, don't you? You look little tired, dat's all!

ANNA—[Wearily.] I am. Tired to death. I need a long rest and I don't see much chance of getting it.

CHRIS—What you mean, Anna?

ANNA—Well, when I made up my mind to come to see you, I thought you was a yanitor—that you'd have a place where, maybe, if you didn't mind having me, I could visit a while and rest up—till I felt able to get back on the job again.

CHRIS—[Eagerly.] But Ay gat place, Anna—nice place. You rest all you want, py yiminy! You don't never have to vork as nurse gel no more. You stay with me, py golly!

ANNA—[Surprised and pleased by his eagerness—with a smile.] Then you're really glad to see me—honest?

CHRIS—[Pressing one of her hands in both of his.] Anna, Ay like see you like hell, Ay tal you! And don't you talk no more about gatting yob. You stay with me. Ay don't see you for long time, you don't forgat dat. [His voice trembles.] Ay'm gatting ole. Ay gat no one in vorld but you.

ANNA—[Touched—embarrassed by this unfamiliar emotion.] Thanks. It sounds good to hear someone—talk to me that way. Say, though—if you're so lonely—it's funny—why ain't you ever married again?

CHRIS—[Shaking his head emphatically—after a pause.] Ay love your mo'der too much for ever do dat, Anna.

ANNA—[Impressed—slowly.] I don't remember nothing about her. What was she like? Tell me.

CHRIS—Ay tal you all about everytang—and you tal me all tangs happen to you. But not here now. Dis ain't good place for young gel, anyway. Only no good sailor fallar come here for gat drunk. [He gets to his feet quickly and picks up her bag.] You come with me, Anna. You need lie down, gat rest.

ANNA—[Half rises to her feet, then sits down again.] Where're you going?

CHRIS—Come. Ve gat on board.

ANNA—[Disappointedly.] On board your barge, you mean? [Dryly.] Nix for mine! [Then seeing his crestfallen look—forcing a smile.] Do you think that's a good place for a young girl like me—a coal barge?

CHRIS—[Dully.] Yes, Ay tank. [He hesitates—then continues more and more pleadingly.] You don't know how nice it's on barge, Anna. Tug come and ve gat towed out on voyage—yust water all round, and sun, and fresh air, and good grub for make you strong, healthy gel. You see many tangs you don't see before. You gat moonlight at night, maybe; see steamer pass; see schooner make sail—see everytang dat's pooty. You need take rest like dat. You work too hard for young gel already. You need vacation, yes!

ANNA—[Who has listened to him with a growing interest—with an uncertain laugh.] It sounds good to hear you tell it. I'd sure like a trip on the water, all right. It's the barge idea has me stopped. Well, I'll go down with you and have a look—and maybe I'll take a chance. Gee, I'd do anything once.

CHRIS—[Picks up her bag again.] Ye go, eh?

ANNA—What's the rush? Wait a second. [Forgetting the situation for a moment, she relapses into the familiar form and flashes one of her winning trade smiles at him.] Gee, I'm thirsty.

CHRIS—[Sets down her bag immediately—hastily.] Ay'm sorry, Anna. What you tank you like for drink, eh?

ANNA—[Promptly.] I'll take a—[Then suddenly reminded—confusedly.] I don't know. What'a they got here?

CHRIS—[With a grin.] Ay don't tank dey got much fancy drink for young gel in dis place, Anna. Yinger ale—sas'prilla, maybe.

ANNA—[Forcing a laugh herself.] Make it sas, then.

CHRIS—[Coming up to her—with a wink.] Ay tal you, Anna, we calabrate, yes—dis one time because we meet after many year. [In a half whisper, embarrassedly.] Dey gat good port wine, Anna. It's good for you. Ay tank—little bit—for give you appetite. It ain't strong, neider. One glass don't go to your head, Ay promise.

ANNA—[With a half hysterical laugh.] All right! I'll take port.

CHRIS—Ay go gat him. [He goes out to the bar. As soon as the door closes, Anna starts to her feet.]

ANNA—[Picking up her bag—half—aloud—stammeringly.] Gawd, I can't stand this! I better beat it. [Then she lets her bag drop, stumbles over to her chair again, and covering her face with her hands, begins to sob.]

LARRY—[Putting down his paper as CHRIS comes up—with a grin.] Well, who's the blond?

CHRIS—[Proudly.] Dat vas Anna, Larry.

LARRY—[In amazement.] Your daughter, Anna? [CHRIS nods. LARRY lets a long, low whistle escape him and turns away embarrassedly.]

CHRIS—Don't you tank she vas pooty gel, Larry?

LARRY—[Rising to the occasion.] Sure! A peach!

CHRIS—You bet you! Give me drink for take back—one port vine for Anna—she calabrate dis one time with me—and small beer for me.

LARRY—[As he gets the drinks.] Small beer for you, eh? She's reformin' you already.

CHRIS—[Pleased.] You bet! [He takes the drinks. As she hears him coming, ANNA hastily dries her eyes, tries to smile. CHRIS comes in and sets the drinks down on the table—stares at her for a second anxiously—patting her hand.] You look tired, Anna. Veil, Ay make you take good long rest now. [Picking up his beer.] Come, you drink vine. It put new life in you. [She lifts her glass—he grins.] Skoal, Anna! You know dat Svedish word?

ANNA—Skoal! [Downing her port at a gulp like a drink of whiskey—her lips trembling.] Skoal? Guess I know that word, all right, all right!