De moon's rizen. Does you heall dat, nig...

The Emperor Jones

Brutus Jones

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De moon's rizen. Does you heall dat, nigger? You gits more light from dis out. No mo'buttin' yo' fool head agin' de trunks an' scratchin' de hide off yo' legs in de bushes. Now you sees whar yo'se gwine. So cheer up! From now on you has a snap. [He steps just to the rear of the triangular clearing and mops off his face on his sleeve. He has lost his Panama hat. His face is scratched, his brilliant uniform shows several large rents.] What time's it gittin' to be, I wonder? I dassent light no match to find out. Phoo'. It's wa'm an' dat's a fac'! [Wearily.] How long I been makin' tracks in dese woods? Must be hours an' hours. Seems like fo'evah! Yit can't be, when de moon's jes' riz. Dis am a long night fo' yo', yo' Majesty! [With a mournful chuckle.] Majesty! Der ain't much majesty 'bout dis baby now. [With attempted cheerfulness.] Never min'. It's all part o’ de game. Dis night come to an end like everything else. And when you gits dar safe and has dat bankroll in yo' hands you laughs at all dis. [He starts to whistle but checks himself abruptly.] What yo' whistlin' for, you po' dope! 'Want all de worl' to heah you? [He stops talking to listen.] Heah dat ole drum! Sho' gits nearer from de sound. Dey're packin' it along wid 'em. Time fo' me to move. [He takes a step forward, then stops−worriedly.] What's dat odder queer clickety sound I heah? Dere it is! Sound close! Sound like−sound like fo' God sake, sound like some nigger was shootin' crap! [Frightenedly.] I better beat it quick when I gits dem notions. [He walks quickly into the clear space−then stands transfixed as he sees JEFF−in a terrified gasp.] Who dar? Who dat? Is dat you, Jeff? [Starting toward the other, forgetful for a moment of his surroundings and really believing it is a living man that he sees in a tone of happy relief.] Jeff! I'se sho' mighty glad to see you! Dey tol' me you done died from dat razor cut I gives you. [Stopping suddenly, bewilderedly.] But how you come to be heah, nigger? [He stares fascinatedly at the other who continues his mechanical play with the dice. JONES' eyes begin to roll wildly. He stutters.] Ain't you gwine−look up−can't you speak to me? Is you−is you−a ha'nt? [He jerks out his revolver in a frenzy of terrified rage.] Nigger, I kills you dead once. Has I got to kill you again? You take it den. [He fires. When the smoke clears away JEFF has disappeared. JONES stands trembling−then with a certain reassurance.] He's gone, anyway. Ha'nt or no ha'nt, dat shot fix him. [The beat of the far−off tom−tom is perceptibly louder and more rapid. JONES becomes conscious of it−with a start, looking back over his shoulder.] Dey's gittin' near! Dey's comin' fast! And heah I is shootin' shots to let 'em know jes' whar I is. Oh, Gorry, I'se got to run. [Forgetting the path he plunges wildly into the underbrush in the rear and disappears in the shadow.]

O’Neill, Eugene. “The Emperor Jones”, Three Great Plays: The Emperor Jones, Anna Christie, and The Hairy Ape, Dover Publications Inc., 2005, pp.19-20.

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