The Emperor Jones


Writers: Eugene O'Neill


      The audience chamber in the palace of the Emperor --- a spacious, high-ceilinged room with bare, whitewashed walls. The floor is of white tiles. In the rear, to the left of center, a wide archway giving out on a portico with white pillars. The palace is evidently situated on high ground for beyond the portico nothing can be seen but a vista of distant hills, their summits crowned with thick groves of palm trees. In the right wall, center, a smaller arched doorway leading to the living quarters of the palace. The room is bare of furniture with the exception of one huge chair made of uncut wood which stands at center, its back to rear. This is very apparently the Emperor's throne. It is painted a dazzling, eye-smiting scarlet. There is a brilliant orange cushion on the seat and another smaller one is placed on the floor to serve as a footstool. Strips of matting, dyed scarlet, lead from the foot of the throne to the two entrances.

      It is late afternoon but the sunlight still blazes yellowly beyond the portico and there is an oppressive burden of exhausting heat in the air.

      As the curtain rises, a native negro woman sneaks in cautiously from the entrance on the right. She is very old, dressed in cheap calico, bare-footed, a red bandana handkerchief covering all but a few stray wisps of white hair. A bundle bound in colored cloth is carried over her shoulder on a stick. She hesitates beside the doorway, peering back as if in extreme dread of being discovered. Then she begins to glide noiselessly, a step at a time, toward the doorway in the rear. At this moment, Smithers appears beneath the portico.

      Smithers is a tall, stoop-shouldered man about forty. His bald head, perched on a long neck with an enormous Adam's apple, looks like an egg. The tropics have tanned his naturally pasty face with its small, sharp features to a sickly yellow, and native rum has painted his pointed nose to a startling red. His little, washy-blue eyes are red-rimmed and dart about him like a ferret's. His expression is one of unscrupulous meanness, cowardly and dangerous. He is dressed in a worn riding suit of dirty white drill, puttees, spurs, and wears a white cork helmet. A cartridge belt with an automatic revolver is around his waist. He carries a riding whip in his hand. He sees the woman and stops to watch her suspiciously. Then, making up his mind, he steps quickly on tiptoe into the room. The woman, looking back over her shoulder continually, does not see him until it is too late. When she does Smithers springs forward and grabs her firmly by the shoulder. She struggles to get away, fiercely but silently.

      SMITHERS---(tightening his grasp---roughly) Easy! None o' that, me birdie. You can't wriggle out now I got me 'ooks on yer.

      WOMAN---(seeing the uselessness of struggling, gives way to frantic terror, and sinks to the ground, embracing his knees supplicatingly) No tell him! No tell him, Mister!

      SMITHERS---(with great curiosity) Tell 'im? (then scornfully) Oh, you mean 'is bloomin' Majesty. What's the gaime, any 'ow? What you sneakin' away for? Been stealin' a bit, I s'pose. (He taps her bundle with his riding whip significantly.)

      WOMAN---(shaking her head vehemently) No, me no steal.

      SMITHERS---Bloody liar! But tell me what's up. There's somethin' funny goin' on. I smelled it in the air first thing I got up this mornin'. You blacks are up to some devilment. This palace of 'is is like a bleedin' tomb. Where's all the 'ands? (The woman keeps sullenly silent. Smithers raises his whip threateningly.) Ow, yer won't, won't yer? I'll show yer what's what.

      WOMAN---(coweringly) I tell, Mister. You no hit. They go --- all go. (She makes a sweeping gesture toward the hills in the distance.)

      SMITHERS---Run away --- to the 'ills?

      WOMAN---Yes, Mister. Him Emperor --- great Father. (She touches her forehead to the floor with a quick mechanical jerk.) Him sleep after eat. Then they go --- all go. Me old woman. Me left only. Now me go too.

      SMITHERS---(his astonishment giving way to an immense, mean satisfaction)

      Ow! So that's the ticket! Well, I know bloody well wot's in the air --- when they runs orf to the 'ills. The tom-tom'll be thumping out there bloomin' soon. (with extreme vindictiveness) And I'm bloody glad of it, for one! Serve 'im right! Puttin' on airs, the stinkin' nigger! 'Is Majesty!

      Gawd blimey! I only 'opes I'm there when they takes 'im out to shoot 'im. (suddenly) 'E's still 'ere all right, ain't 'e?

      WOMAN---Yes. Him sleep.

      SMITHERS---'E's bound to find out soon as wakes up. 'E's cunnin' enough to know when 'is time's come. (He goes to the doorway on right and whistles shrilly with his fingers in his mouth. The old woman springs to her feet and runs out of the doorway, rear. Smithers goes after her, reaching for his revolver.)

      Stop or I'll shoot! (then stopping---indifferently)

      Pop orf then, if yer like, yer black cow. (He stands in the doorway, looking after her.)

      (Jones enters from the right. He is a tall, powerfully-built, full-blooded negro of middle age. His features are typically negroid, yet there is something decidedly distinctive about his face---an underlying strength of will, a hardy, self-reliant confidence in himself that inspires respect. His eyes are alive with a keen, cunning intelligence. In manner he is shrewd, suspicious, evasive. He wears a light blue uniform coat, sprayed with brass buttons, heavy gold chevrons on his shoulders, gold braid on the collar, cuffs, etc. His pants are bright red with a light blue stripe down the side. Patent leather laced boots with brass spurs, and a belt with a long-barreled, pearl-handled revolver in a holster complete his makeup. Yet there is something not altogether ridiculous about his grandeur. He has a way of carrying it off.)

      JONES---(not seeing anyone---greatly irritated and blinking sleepily---shouts)

      Who dare whistle dat way in my palace? Who dare wake up de Emperor? I'll git de hide frayled off some o' you niggers sho'!

      SMITHERS---(showing himself---in a manner half-afraid and half-defiant) It was me whistled to yer. (as Jones frowns angrily)

      I got news for yer.

      JONES---(putting on his suavest manner, which fails to cover up his contempt for the white man) Oh, it's you, Mister Smithers. (He sits down on his throne with easy dignity.) What news you got to tell me?

      SMITHERS---(coming close to enjoy his discomfiture) Don't yer notice nothin' funny today?

      JONES --- (coldly) Funny? No. I ain't perceived nothin' of de kind!

      SMITHERS---Then yer ain't so foxy as I thought yer was. Where's all your court? (sarcastically) The Generals and the Cabinet

      Ministers and all?

      JONES---(imperturbably) where dey mostly runs to minute I closes my eyes --- drinkin' rum and talkin' big down in de town. (sarcastically) How come you don't know dat? Ain't you sousin' with 'em most everyday?

      SMITHERS---(stung but pretending indifference---with a wink) That's part of the day's work. I got ter --- ain't I --- in my business?

      JONES---(contemptuously) Yo' business!

      SMITHERS---(imprudently enraged) Gawd blimey, you was glad enough for me ter take yer in on it when you landed here first. You didn' 'ave no 'igh and mighty airs in them days!

      JONES---(his hand going to his revolver like a flash---menacingly)

      Talk polite, white man! Talk polite, you heah me! I'm boss heah now, is you fergettin'?

      (The Cockney seems about to challenge this last statement with the facts but something in the other's eyes holds and cowes him.)

      SMITHERS---(in a cowardly whine) No 'arm meant, old top.

      JONES---(condescendingly) I accepts yo' apology. (lets his hand fall from his revolver) No use'n you rakin' up ole times. What I was den is one thing. What I is now 's another. You didn't let me in on yo' crooked work out o' no kind feelin's dat time. I done de dirty work fo' you --- and most o' de brain work, too, fo' dat matter --- and I was wu'th money to you, dat's de reason.

      SMITHERS---Well, blimey, I give yer a start, didn't I --- when no one else would. I wasn't afraid to 'ire yer like the rest was --- 'count of the story about your breakin' jail back in the States.

      JONES---No, you didn't have no s'cuse to look down on me fo' dat. You been in jail you'self more'n once.

      SMITHERS---(furiously) It's a lie! (then trying to pass it off by an attempt at scorn) Garn! Who told yer that fairy tale?

      JONES---Dey's some tings I ain't got to be tole. I kin see 'em in folk's eyes. (then after a pause---meditatively) Yes, you sho' give me a start. And it didn't take long from dat time to git dese fool, woods' niggers right where I wanted dem. (with pride) From stowaway to Emperor in two years! Dat's goin' some!

      SMITHERS---(with curiosity) And I bet you got yer pile o' money 'id safe some place.

      JONES---(with satisfaction) I sho' has! And it's in a foreign bank where no pusson don't ever git it out but me no matter what come. You didn't s'pose

      I was holdin' down dis Emperor job for de glory in it, did you? Sho'! De fuss and glory part of it, dat's only to turn de heads o' de low-flung, bush niggers dat's here. Dey wants de big circus show for deir money.

      I gives it to 'em an' I gits de money. (with a grin) De long green, dat's me every time! (then rebukingly) But you ain't got no kick agin me, Smithers. I'se paid you back all you done for me many times. Ain't I pertected you and winked at all de crooked tradin' you been doin' right out in de broad day. Sho'. I has --- and me makin' laws to stop it at de same time! (He chuckles.)

      SMITHERS---(grinning) But, meanin' no 'arm, you been grabbin' right and left yourself, ain't yer? Look at the taxes you've put on 'em! Blimey! You've squeezed 'em dry!

      JONES---(chuckling) No, dey ain't all dry yet. I'se still heah, ain't I?

      SMITHERS---(smiling at his secret thought) They're dry right now, you'll find out. (changing the subject abruptly)

      And as for me breakin' laws, you've broke 'em all yerself just as fast as yer made 'em.

      JONES---Ain't r de Emperor? De laws don't go for him. (judicially)

      You heah what I tells you, Smithers. Dere's little stealin' like you does, and dere's big stealin' like I does. For de little stealin' dey gits you in jail soon or late. For de big stealin' dey makes you Emperor and puts you in de Hall o' Fame when you croaks. (reminiscently) If dey's one thing I learns in ten years on de Pullman ca's listenin' to de white quality talk, it's dat same fact. And when I gits a chance to use it I winds up Emperor in two years.

      SMITHERS---(unable to repress the genuine admiration of the small fry for the large) Yes, yer turned the bleedin' trick, all fight. Blimey, I never seen a bloke 'as 'ad the bloomin' luck you 'as.

      JONES---(severely) Luck? What you mean --- luck?

      SMITHERS---I suppose you'll say as that swank about the silver bullet ain't luck --- and that was what first got the fool blacks on yer side the time of the revolution, wasn't it?

      JONES---(with a laugh) Oh, dat silver bullet! Sho' was luck! But I makes dat luck, you heah? I loads de dice! Yessuh! When dat murderin' nigger ole Lem hired to kill me takes aim ten feet away and his gun misses fire and I shoots him dead, what you heah me say?

      SMITHERS---You said yer'd got a charm so's no lead bullet'd kill yer. You was so strong only a silver bullet could kill yer, you told 'em. Blimey, wasn't that swank for yer --- and plain, fat-'eaded luck?

      JONES---(proudly) I got brains and I uses 'em quick.

      Dat ain't luck.

      SMITHERS---Yer know they wasn't 'ardly likely to get no silver bullets. And it was luck 'e didn't 'it you that time.

      JONES---(laughing) And dere all dem fool, bush niggers was kneelin' down and bumpin' deir heads on de ground like I was a miracle out o' de Bible Oh Lawd, from dat time on I has dem all eatin' out of my hand. I cracks de whip and dey jumps through.

      SMITHERS---(with a sniff) Yankee bluff done it.

      JONES---Ain't a man's talkin' big what makes him big-long as he makes folks believe it? Sho', I talks large when I ain't got nothin' to back it up, but I ain't talkin' wild just de same. I knows

      I kin fool 'em --- I knows it --- and dat's backin' enough fo' my game. And ain't I got to learn deir lingo and teach some of dem English befo' I kin talk to 'em? Ain't dat wuk? You ain't never learned ary word er it, Smithers, in do ten years you been heah, dough you' knows it's money in yo' pocket tradin' wid 'em if you does. But you'se too shiftless to take de trouble.

      SMITHERS---(flushing) Never mind about me. What's this

      I've 'eard about yer really 'avin' a silver bullet moulded for yourself?

      JONES---It's playin' out my bluff. I has de silver bullet moulded and I tells 'em when do time comes I kills myself wid it.

      I tells 'em dat's 'cause I'm de on'y man in de world big enuff to git me. No use'n deir tryin'. And dey falls down and bumps deir heads. (He laughs.) I does dat so's I kin take a walk in peace widout no jealous nigger gunnin' at me from behind de trees.

      SMITHERS---(astonished) Then you 'ad it made --- 'onest?

      JONES---Sho' did. Heah she he. (He takes out his revolver, breaks it, and takes the silver bullet out of one chamber.) Five lead an' dis silver baby at de last. Don't she shine pretty? (He holds it in his hand, looking at it admiringly, as if strangely fascinated.)

      SMITHERS---Let me see. (reaches out his hand for it)

      JONES---(harshly) Keep yo' hands whar dey b'long, white man. (He replaces it in the chamber and puts the revolver back on his hip.)

      SMITHERS---(snarling) Gawd Nimey! Mink I'm a bleedin' thief, you would.

      JONES --- No, 'tain't dat. I knows you 'se scared to steal from me. On'y I ain't 'lowin' nary body to touch dis baby. She's my rabbit's foot.

      SMITHERS---(sneering) A bloomin' charm, wot? (venomously)

      Well, you'll need all the bloody charms you 'as before long, s' 'elp me!

      JONES---(judicially) Oh, I'se good for six months yit

      'fore dey gits sick o' my game. Den, when I sees trouble comin', I makes my getaway.

      SMITHERS---Ho! You got it all planned, ain't yer?

      JONES---I ain't no fool. I knows dis Emperor's time is sho't.

      Dat why I make hay when de sun shine. Was you thinkin' I'se aimin' to hold down dis job for life? No, suh! What good is gittin' money if you stays back in dis raggedy country? I wants action when I spends.

      And when I sees dese niggers gittin' up deir nerve to tu'n me out, and I'se got all de money in sight, I resigns on de spot and beats it quick.

      SMITHERS---Where to?

      JONES---None o' yo' business.

      SMITHERS---Not back to the bloody States, I'll lay my oath.

      JONES---(suspiciously) Why don't I? (then with an easy laugh) You mean 'count of dat story 'bout me breakin' from jail back dere? Dat's all talk.

      SMITHERS---(skeptically) Ho, yes!

      JONES---(sharply) You ain't 'sinuatin' I'se a liar, is you?

      SMITHERS---(hastily) No, Gawd strike me! I was only thinkin' o' the bloody lies you told the blacks 'ere about killin' white men in the States.

      JONES---(angered) How come dey're lies?

      SMITHERS---You'd 'ave been in jail, if you 'ad, wouldn't yer then? (with venom) And from what I've 'eard, it ain't 'ealthy for a black to kill a white man in the States. They burns 'em in oil, don't they?

      JONES---(with cool deadliness) You mean lynchin' 'd scare me? Well, I tells you, Smithers, maybe I does kill one white man back dere, Maybe I does. And maybe I kills another right heah 'fore long if he don't look out.

      SMITHERS---(trying to force a laugh) I was on'y spoofin' yer. Can't yer take a joke? And you was just sayin' you'd never ken in jail.

      JONES---(in the same tone---slightly boastful) Maybe

      I goes to jail dere for gettin' in an argument wid razors ovah a crap game. Maybe I gits twenty years when dat colored man die. Maybe I gits in 'nother argument wid de prison guard was overseer ovah us when we're wukin' de roads. Maybe he hits me wid a whip and I splits his head wid a shovel and runs away and files de chain off my leg and gits away safe. Maybe I does all dat an' maybe I don't. It's a story I tells you so's you knows I'se de kind of man dat if you evah repeats one words of it, I ends yo' stealin' on dis yearth mighty damn quick!

      SMITHERS---(terrified) Think I'd peach on yer? Not me! Ain't I always been yer friend?

      JONES---(suddenly relaxing) Sho' you has --- and you better be.

      SMITHERS---(recovering his composure---and with it his malice) And just to show yer I'm yer friend, I'll tell yer that bit o' news I was goin' to.

      JONES---Go ahead! Shoot de piece. Must be bad news from de happy way you look.

      SMITHERS---(warningly) Maybe it's gettin' time for you to resign --- with that bloomin' silver bullet, wot? (He finishes with a mocking grin.)

      JONES---(puzzled) What's dat you say? Talk plain.

      SMITHERS---Ain't noticed any of the guards or servants about the place today, I 'aven't.

      JONES---(carelessly) Dey're all out in de garden sleepin' under de trees.

      When I sleeps, dey sneaks a sleep, too, and I pretends I never suspicions it. All I got to do is to ring de bell and dey come flyin', makin' a bluff dey was wukin' all de time.

      SMITHERS---(in the same mocking tone) Ring the bell now an' you'll bloody well see what I means.

      JONES---(startled to alertness, but preserving the same careless tone) Sho' I rings. (He reaches below the throne and pulls out a big, common dinner bell which is painted the same vivid scarlet as the throne. He rings this vigorously---then stops to listen. Then he goes to both doors, rings again, and looks out.)

      SMITHERS---(watching him with malicious satisfaction, after a pause---mockingly) The bloody ship is sinkin' an' the bleedin' rats 'as slung their 'ooks.

      JONES---(in a sudden fit of anger flings the bell clattering into a corner) Low-flung, woods' niggers!

      (then catching Smither's eye on him, he controls himself and suddenly bursts into a low chuckling laugh.)

      Reckon I overplays my hand dis once! A man can't take de pot on a bob-tailed flush all de time. Was I sayin' I'd sit in six months mo'? Well, I'se changed my mind den. I cashes in and resigns de job of Emperor right dis minute.

      SMITHERS---(with real admiration) Blimey, but you're a cool bird, and no mistake.

      JONES---No use'n fussin'. When I knows de game's up I kisses it goodbye widout no long waits. Dey've all run off to de hills, ain't dey?

      SMITHERS---Yes---every bleedin' man jack of 'em.

      JONES---Den de revolution is at de post. And de Emperor better git his feet smokin' up de trail. (He starts for the door in rear.)

      SMITHERS---Goin' out to look for your 'orse? Yer won't find any. They steals the 'orses first thing. Mine was gone when I went for 'im this mornin'. That's wot first give me a suspicion of wot was up.

      JONES---(alarmed for a second, scratches his head, then philosophically) Well, den I hoofs it. Feet, do yo' duty! (He pulls out a gold watch and looks at it.) Three-thuty. Sundown's at six-thuty or dereabouts. (Puts his watch back --- with cool confidence) I got plenty o' time to make it easy.

      SMITHERS---Don't be so bloomin' sure of it. They'll be after you 'ot and 'eavy. Ole Lem is at the bottom o' this business an' 'e 'ates you like 'ell. 'E'd rather do for you than eat 'is dinner, 'e would!

      JONES---(scornfully) Dat fool no-count nigger! Does you think I'se scared o' him? I stands him on his thick head more'n once befo' dis, and I does it again if he come in my way---(fiercely)

      And dis time I leave him a dead nigger fo' sho'!

      SMITHERS---You'll 'ave to cut through the big forest --- an' these blacks 'ere can sniff and follow a trail in the dark like 'ounds.

      You'd 'ave to 'ustle to get through that forest in twelve hours even if you knew all the bloomin' trails like a native.

      JONES---(with indignant scorn) Look-a-heah, white man!

      Does you think I'se a natural bo'n fool? Give me credit fo' havih' some sense, fo' Lawd's sake! Don't you s'pose I'se looked ahead and made sho' of all de chances? I'se gone out in dat big forest, pretendin' to hunt, so many times dat I knows it high an' low like a book. I could go through on dem trails wid my eyes shut. (with great contempt) Think dese ig'nerent bush niggers dat ain't got brains enuff to know deir own names even can catch Brutus Jones? Huh, I s'pects not! Not on yo' life! why, man, de white men went after me wid bloodhounds where I come from an' I jes' laughs at 'em. It's a shame to fool dese black trash around heah, dey're so easy. You watch me, man'. I'll make dem look sick, I will. I'll be 'cross de plain to de edge of de forest by time dark comes. Once in de woods in de night, dey got a swell chance o' findin' dis baby! Dawn tomorrow I'll be out at de oder side and on de coast whar dat French gunboat is stayin'. She picks me up, take me to the Martinique when she go dar, and dere I is safe wid a mighty big bankroll in my jeans. It's easy as rollin' off a log.

      SMITHERS---(maliciously) But s'posin' somethin' 'appens wrong an' they do nab yer?

      JONES---(decisively) Dey don't---dat's de answer.

      SMITHERS---But, just for argyment's sake---what'd you do?

      JONES---(frowning) I'se got five lead bullets in dis gun good enuff fo' common bush niggers---and after dat I got de silver bullet left to cheat 'em out o' gittin' me.

      SMITHERS---(jeeringly) Ho, I was fergettin' that silver bullet. You'll bump yourself orf in style, won't yer? Blimey!

      JONES---(gloomily) You kin bet yo' whole roll on one thing, white man. Dis baby plays out his string to de end and when he quits, he quits wid a bang de way he ought. Silver bullet ain't none too good for him when he go, dat's a fac' I---(then shaking off his nervousness---with a confident laugh) Sho'! what is I talkin' about? Ain't come to dat yit and I never will --- not wid trash niggers like dese yere. (boastfully) Silver bullet bring me luck anyway.

      I kin outguess, outrun, outfight, an' outplay de whole lot o' dem all ovah de board any time o' de day er night! You watch me!

      (From the distant hills comes the faint, steady thump of a tom-tom, low and vibrating. It starts at a rate exactly corresponding to normal pulse beat---72 to the minute---and continues at a gradually accelerated rate from this point uninterruptedly to the very end of the play. Jones starts at the sound. A strange look of apprehension creeps into his face for a moment as he listens. Then he asks, with an attempt to regain his most casual manner.)

      What's dat drum beatin' fo'?

      SMITHERS---(with a mean grin) For you. That means the bleedin' ceremony 'as started. I've 'eard it before and I knows.

      JONES---Cer'mony? What cer'mony?

      SMITHERS---The blacks is 'oldin' a bloody meetin', 'avin' a war dance, gettin' their courage worked up b'fore they starts after you.

      JONES---Let dem! Dey'll sho' need it!

      SMITHERS---And they're there 'oldin' their 'eathen religious service---makin' no end of devil spells and charms to 'elp 'em against your silver bullet.

      (He guffaws loudly.) Blimey, but they're balmy as 'ell!

      JONES---(a tiny bit awed and shaken in spite of himself)

      Huh! Takes more'n dat to scare dis chicken!

      SMITHERS---(scenting the other's feeling---maliciously)

      Ternight when it's pitch black in the forest, they'll 'ave their pet devils and ghosts 'oundin' after you. You'll find yer bloody 'air 'll be standin' on end before termorrow mornin'. (seriously)

      It's a bleedin' queer place, that stinkin' forest, even in daylight.

      Yer don't know what might 'appen in there, it's that rotten still.

      Always sends the cold shivers down my back minute I gets in it.

      JONES---(with a contemptuous sniff) I ain't no chicken-liver like you is. Trees an' me, we' se friends, and dar's a full moon comin' bring me light. And let dem po' niggers make all de fool spells dey'se a min' to. Does yo' s'pect I'se silly, enuff to b'lieve in ghosts an' ha'nts an' all dat ole woman's talk? G'long, white man! You ain't talkin' to me.

      (with a chuckle) Doesn't you know dey's got to do wid a man was member in good standin' o' de Baptist Church? Sho' I was dat when

      I was porter on de Pullmans, befo' I gits into my little trouble.

      Let dem try deir heathen tricks. De Baptist Church done pertect me and land dem all in hell. (then with more confident satisfaction)

      And I'se got little silver bullet o' my own, don't forgits.

      SMITHERS---Ho! You 'aven't give much 'eed to your Baptist

      Church since you been down 'ere. I've 'card myself you 'ad turned yer coat an' was takin' up with their blarsted witch-docters, or whatever the 'ell yer calls the swine.

      JONES---(vehemently) I pretends to! Sho' I pretends!

      Dat's part o' my game from de fust. If I finds out dem niggers believes dat black is white, den I yells it out louder 'n deir loudest. It don't git me nothin' to do missionary work for de Baptist Church.

      I'se after de coin, an' I lays my Jesus on de shelf for de time hem'.

      (stops abruptly to look at his watch---alertly) But I ain't got de time to waste no more fool talk wid you. I'se gwine away from heah dis secon'. (_He reaches in under the throne and pulls out an expensive

      Panama hat with a bright multi-colored band and sets it jauntily on his head._) So long, white man! (with a grin) See you in jail sometime, maybe!

      SMITHERS---Not me, you won't. Well, I wouldn't be in yer bloody boots for no bloomin' money, but 'ere's wishin' yer luck just the same.

      JONES---(contemptuously) You're de frightenedest man evah I see! I tells you I'se safe's 'f I was in New York City. It takes dem niggers from now to dark to git up de nerve to start somethin'.

      By dat time, I'se got a head start dey never kotch up wid.

      SMITHERS---(maliciously) Give my regards to any ghosts yer meets up with.

      JONES---(grinning) If dat ghost got money, I'll tell him never ha'nt you less'n he wants to lose it.

      SMITHERS---(flattered) Garn! (then curiously)

      Ain't yer takin' no luggage with yer?

      JONES --- I travels light when I wants to move fast. And I got tinned grub buried on de edge o' de forest. (boastfully) Now say dat I don't look ahead an' use my brains! (with a wide, liberal gesture) I will all dat's left in de palace to you --- and you better grab all you kin sneak away wid befo' dey gits here.

      SMITHERS---(gratefully) Righto---and thanks ter yer.

      (as Jones walks toward the door in rear---cautioningly)

      Say! Look 'ere, you am't goin' out that way, are yer?

      JONES---Does you think I'd slink out de back door like a common nigger? I'se Emperor yit, ain't I? And de Emperor Jones leaves de way he comes, and dat black trash don't dare stop him --- not yit, leastways.

      (He stops for a moment in the doorway, listening to the far-off but insistent beat of the tom-tom.)

      Listen to dat roll-call, will you? Must be mighty big drum carry dat far. (then with a laugh) Well, if dey ain't no whole brass band to see me off,

      I sho' got de drum part of it. So long, white man. (He puts his hands in his pockets and with studied carelessness, whistling a tune, he saunters out of the doorway and off to the left.)

      SMITHERS---(looks after him with a puzzled admiration)

      'E's got 'is bloomin' nerve with 'im, s'elp me! (then angrily)

      Ho-the bleedin' nigger---puttin' an 'is bloody airs! I 'opes they nabs 'im an' gives 'im what's what!