The Chinese lantern : A play

By Laurence Housman

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Title: The Chinese lantern
       A play

Author: Laurence Housman

Release Date: May 24, 2023 [eBook #70852]

Language: English

Produced by: Charlene Taylor and the Online Distributed Proofreading
             Team at (This file was produced from
             images generously made available by The Internet
             Archive/American Libraries.)


                          THE CHINESE LANTERN

                          THE CHINESE LANTERN

                       A PLAY BY LAURENCE HOUSMAN


                          LONDON: F. SIDGWICK
                        47 GREAT RUSSELL STREET


This play has been publicly performed in England, and entered at the
Library of Congress, Washington, U.S.A. All rights reserved.

                           DRAMATIS PERSONAE

 OLANGTSI                                    _A Master of Arts._
 MRS. OLANGTSI (_called_ MRS. BACK-OF-THE-HOUSE)     _His Wife._
 YUNGLANGTSI                                          _His Son._
 1. PEE-AH-BEE. }
 2. HAN-KIN.    }
 3. TEE-PEE.    }
 4. HITI-TITI.  }        _Students, Apprentices, and Craftsmen._
 5. NEW-LYN.    }
 6. NAU-TEE.    }
 7. LI-LONG.    }
 JOSI-MOSI                _A Chinese Jew Rag-and-Bone Merchant._
 COSI-MOSI                        _His Brother: a Money-lender._
 TIKIPU                      _Bottle-washer and General Drudge._
 MEE-MEE                                  _A Korean Slave-girl._
 WIOWANI                                        _An Old Master._

 _Street-criers, Bailiffs, Bearers, Townsfolk, etc._

                                 ACT I

 _A Chinese Studio with windowed walls of woodwork and oil-paper. At
 back of centre a dais, and behind that a picture showing an interior
 opening into a garden. In the foreground of the picture appears a
 hanging lantern, and below it a mandoline and a jar holding a spray
 of plum-blossom. To the right of the stage a sliding door opens into
 street: to the left stairs lead upward to interior, forward of that
 a door also to interior. It is morning: six or seven students squat
 painting. Between every two of them is a small stand for paint-pots,
 brushes, etc. All are very lazy and desultory at their work: the
 only industrious one is_ TIKIPU, _who, in shabby menial attire,
 grinds colours with weary persistence. The students yawn, stretch,
 and whine; and resume work in a perfunctory way at intervals upon
 shop-signs, lanterns, etc. On the dais sits_ YUNGLANGTSI, _a mountain
 of indolent fat: sunk in profound slumber he squats before his easel.
 Street-criers are heard without calling their wares._

1ST CRIER. Only ten sen! Only ten sen! Any buy?

2ND CRIER. Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-eh!

1ST CRIER. [_Nearer._] Only ten sen! Any buy?

HITI. The next person who asks me if I’ll buy--I’ll murder!

1ST CRIER. [_Intruding head._] Any buy?

HITI. Get out--Mosquito!... Oh, Tikipu, you stagnant fool, _do_ keep
them out!

                                            [TIKIPU _goes to shut door_.

NAU. If honourable Shivering-fit has that door shut, long-suffering
Foresight will go mad.

HITI. Judging from its present whereabouts, Foresight will not have to
go far.

NAU. Oh, brilliant, scintillating wit! What repartee!

HAN. O Firebrands of genius, don’t make it any hotter than it is!

1ST CRIER. Only ten sen! Any buy?

                          [HITI _gives long-drawn sigh of exasperation_:
                          TEE-PEE _pats his back soothingly_.

TEE. There, there, Hiti, cheer up! It will soon be over. The Feast
of Lanterns begins at noon. Then, on the auspicious stroke, we shut
up shop. Mr. Yunglangtsi, how does your august Serenity bear the
inconsiderateness of this piffling heat?

LIL. Hush! Don’t speak to him! He’s inspired!

TEE. I see--as usual! This inspiration is becoming permanent!

LIL. It is the incubation of the Event, Tee-Pee!

HITI. Trust what the starry Oracles foretell:
      Wait till the chicken taps upon the shell.

                           [_He taps_ YUNGLANGTSI’S _head with his fan_.
                           YUNGLANGTSI _snores softly_.

NAU. O starry Oracles! Did you hear that?

                                            [YUNGLANGTSI _snores again_.

NEW. Ugh! When are the sanguinary Event and the starry Oracle going to
pay us our back wages, that’s what I want to know?

HITI. Look not to Heaven to make or mar
      Your fortunes, ye that toil!
      Who hung his pot upon a star,
      His broth forgot to boil.

                                 [_He gets up and begins to roam round._

NAU. Oh, poetry!

NEW. Ah! It’s all very well for fancy-price first-footers like you to
talk! You think it’s all a subliminal joke. Still balancing yourselves
on the giddy curriculum, you are: so fed up with the fat of your own
fancies that you haven’t found out what a tip-top, ship-shape take-in
you’ve tumbled to!

                             [HITI _leans over and fans him soothingly_.

NEW. [_Continuing._] Ah! To you it’s only a joke! But when’s the value
of our antediluvian premiums coming back to us? What are we doing
here now? Stuffing up our ears with stale old lectures we all know by
heart,--just because _you_’ve come in on the giddy make-believe? Talk
of the Event! Here, you Hippopotamus, take that!

                                     [_Slaps_ YUNGLANGTSI _on the back_.

TEE. Really! You might have woken him.

NEW. That _would_ be an Event, that would!

HAN. Well, anyhow, the Event won’t pay _us_. Starvation-point,
nought-nought-recurring--can’t afford to wait for it.

HITI. What grovelling Curiosity can’t make out is why they should be
marrying him to _her_.

HAN. Why not?

HITI. Consider what she was--a little Korean slave-girl who couldn’t
even speak the language! And what is she now?--future bride of the
incomparable Mr. Yunglangtsi, who sits there awaiting the fulfilment of
his starry destiny--the Oracle which announces that he is to become the
greatest of living artists.

LIL. Ugh! Olangtsi will have to be dead by then.

HITI. Oh no! Tiring of his exalted capacities he will hand them on to
Yunglangtsi. It will be the occasion for a fresh lecture, as thus:
‘Gentlemen-pupils, apprentices, and paid workmen....’

NEW. _Un_paid workmen, you mean.

HITI. Sh! ‘Your immediate and polite attention.--’ (At the word
‘attention’ you will lay down your brushes, fold your hands
submissively, and wait.) ‘In the instruction which it has been my
honourable privilege to bestow all these years on your stubbornly
benighted intelligences--’ (At these words you bow your heads) [_hits
fellow-student over head with a mahl-stick_] (as an acknowledgment
of what unprofitable Stick-in-the-muds you all are.)... ‘I have
endeavoured to set before you the traditions of Wiowani, the greatest
of all the ancient Masters, whose only surviving representative and
follower I am--’ (At the word ‘am’ the complete Kow-tow is necessary),
‘and whose last and greatest masterpiece, entitled “The Threshold of
the Muses,” here hangs before you for your instruction.’ (At these
words you all turn and look at the great masterpiece as though you had
never seen it before.)

                          [_General derisive applause._ HITI _in hitting
                          at_ NAU-TEE _knocks over paint-pot_.

NAU. There! that was _your_ fault!

HITI. And _your_ paint-pot.

NAU. Pah! Here, Swab, come and mop this foolish mess up!

                                                        [TIKIPU _obeys_.

NEW. What meek Interrogation wants to know is--when are we going to
strike for our pay?

TEE. To-day, if we could catch him. He always keeps an honourable alibi
when Mrs. Back-of-the-House is out.

LIL. [_To_ TEE-PEE.] Oh, I wish you wouldn’t go putting your blue brush
into my red, you purple idiot!

TEE. [_To_ TIKIPU, _pushing him_.] There, clumsy, clumsy!

                                                     [TIKIPU _stumbles_.

NEW. Don’t spread yourself over me, you larded swine!

NAU. Get out, Goose-fat!

           { Mangle him!
 STUDENTS. { Crimp him!
           { Dibble his ribs!

HAN. Oh! empty him away somewhere! Empty him away!

                          [_They all beat and pelt_ TIKIPU _back to his
                          corner with pellets of bread, balls of paper,
                          mahl-sticks, etc._ PEE-AH-BEE _throws a shoe
                          at him_. TIKIPU _returns to his grinding
                          with meek, dogged indifference. Enter
                          behind, meanwhile_, MEE-MEE _carrying a
                          water lily on a stand, which with obeisance
                          she sets on the dais in front of_ YUNGLANGTSI.
                          _She is retiring again when one
                          of the students catches sight of her._

TEE. Oh, Mee-Mee!

                                                      [_Beckons to her._

MEE. [_Turning with a curtsey._] Ah!--say?

 TEE.} Come and sing to us!
 LIL.} Bring us some tea!

MEE. Plesently: my merciful and mighty Mistless, hon’ble Mrs.
Back-of-de-House, not gone out yet!

STUDENTS. [_Aghast]._ Oh!

                                                        [_Exit_ MEE-MEE.

PEE. [_Who has not spoken before._] H’m! You all thought she’d gone;
_I_ didn’t. Tikipu, you had better submissively behave yourself. Bring
me that shoe!

                         [TIKIPU _brings it_. PEE-AH-BEE _hits him with
                         it and puts it on_. HITI-TITI _while roaming
                         round the room picks up a sign-board with
                         a hole in it, and considers it for a while with
                         his back to the others_.

HITI. Hanky ... Hanky-panky.... Does the honourable Mr. Han-Kin not

HAN. Belated Politeness, did you speak?

HITI. Humbleness begs to inquire what Hoki-poki at the tea-shop said,
when you took him his sign-board a month behind time?

HAN. He was out.

HITI. And so with honourable caution, to secure payment, we brought it
back again?

HAN. No ... we left it.

HITI. And he, putting his favourable foot into it, has returned it....
Allow me to present you with the signed article:--The Hocus-pocus of
Hanky-panky by Hoki-poki. [_Presents sign-board._] That’s art-criticism!

HAN. [_Indifferently._] My usual fate: too good for the public taste.

PEE. Yes--so Mrs. Back-of-the-House thought. It was _she_ who put her
foot through it.

HAN. Elephant! Grey-mare elephant!

                       [_Attempts to preserve his look of high disdain._

VOICE. [_Without._ Anything to shell to-day?

                          _Enter_ JOSI-MOSI.

JOSI. Any bits, chips, scraps, rag, bone, old clothes? Not any? Mr.
Olangtsi seems not at home.

NEW. Well, if he is you can’t see him. You take your judicious hook!

JOSI. Don’t want to see him.... Shay! no honourable gentleman got
nothing to--er--to--eh? Not got any old oil-skins, any old frames, any
old lanterns, any old pictures not quite de fashion? ... any old ...

HAN. Here! What will indigent Avarice give me for that?

                                           [_Offers damaged sign-board._

JOSI. Well, if you wash to throw in a pair of old shoes to pay me for
my trouble.... Yesh.... I’d take it.

HAN. Humble but conscious Merit is much obliged. If it means no
business, exalted Abasement had better clear out. There’s work going on

JOSI. Work?

HAN. Yes, _work_, unpaid, and over-time!

JOSI. Huh! Shuppose it wash _you_, den, sittin’ up here at work wid a
light all last night? eh? and till de morning--and de night before dat
too, ugh?

                 [TIKIPU _stops guiltily, raises his head, and listens_.

TEE. Working all last ni----? Not in here?

JOSI. It wash in here!

TEE. Tikipu, don’t you still sleep here? Who was that?

TIKI. [_With confusion._] That was Mr. Olangtsi. He’s very busy getting
his new picture finished.

LIL. At _night_!

TIKI. Yes!--but--but he doesn’t want any one to know.... O honourable
young Masters, he would be very angry were you to say I told you!

TEE. Does Mare’s-nest-Invention mean to tell me that superannuated
Capacity goes painting at night?

TIKI. Oh, yes ... I know it.... Broken-slumber is kept awake by it.

JOSI. And all dat trouble over putting a bit of paint and paper

TEE. Painting is a wonderful art, Mr. Josi-Mosi.

JOSI. Ish it?

TEE. A picture is a very wonderful thing.

JOSI. Ish it?

TEE. Yes ... sometimes.... That picture illustriously behind you
now,--you know the story about that?

JOSI. I knew dere wash a story: I never knew dat anybody believed
it--except to keep up de price.

TEE. Ah! you should get Tikipu to tell it you! He believes it ... don’t
you, Tiki?

TIKI. The Master himself tells it.

HITI. The Master himself owns the picture, stupid! But go on!--I always
like to hear it again.

JOSI. Yesh, go on!

TIKI. You see, it was very long ago. It is easy not to believe what
happened three hundred years ago.

JOSI. Yesh--very eashy: I’ve found dat out. Go on!

TIKI. Wiowani, the great painter, when he painted that picture, was
old and tired of life, and he longed for rest.... So he painted a
little porch, and a garden; and in the porch just one spray of blossom
in an old blue jar to remind him of youth, an instrument of music to
remind him of song, and overhead a lantern to give light when it grew
dark.... And when the picture was done the Emperor himself came to look
at it.... And, as he looked, he said: ‘Oh, Wiowani, in there, it seems
to me, is rest! Would that you and I could go and live in a place like
that for ever!’

    And while he spoke the lantern began to glow.
    Softly shedding its light on the floor below.
    And the garden beyond grew dim, form within form,
    But all the porch was brimming and bright and warm,--
    A home with its doors thrown wide for a well-loved guest.
    And out of the dusk of the garden a wind came, blest
    With the scent of flowers, all cool from the rising dew;
    And lo,--in its depth at last,--there, born anew,
    The picture passed, and was changed to a world of rest!

TEE. [_Derisively._] Oh, go on, Tikipu, go on, go on!


    Then, all at once, Wiowani reached a hand:
    ‘Come,’ he said, ‘come with me! for this is the land
    You seek, and thither I go!’
    And into the picture he stept, and turning slow
    Watched to see
    Whether the Emperor would follow, or no.
    Follow? Not he!--Not having the soul
    Of a painter, how could he reach the goal?
    So Wiowani went in by the door,
    Stood, and beckoned, then turned about
    And vanished away!
    And the light of the lantern faded out
    As fades a star at the dawn of day;
    And the picture was only a picture once more!

JOSI. Ugh!... It’s a very intereshting shtory; but I don’t happen to
want to buy de picture--even with Mr. Wiowani thrown in.

HAN. That’s a stupid story, you know. What business has a picture with
any perspective? You might as well talk of walking into a piece of
music as walking into a picture!

HITI. Ah! you are an old-fashioned purist, Han-Kin.

HAN. I’m not: I am simply a scientist. Latest science says that you
can’t tell whether a thing is flat or round at twenty feet distance
from the eye. Stereoscopic sight is a mere accident, and only means
that you have got too close to an object to treat it artistically.
Paint your foregrounds as if they were twenty feet away, and keep your
distances as flat as the palm of your hand,--and there you have art and
science rolled into one!

TEE. Ah, Han-Kin has been reading the old legend--the oldest of
all--and he calls himself a scientist!

HAN. What old legend?

TEE. How the gods of the first creation made everything flat, and put
it into a picture-book which they called the Book of Life, so that
they could just turn over the leaves and amuse themselves without any

LIL. Yes,--and then one day they left it out in the rain, and it
got wet and began to push out of bounds, and grow and swell in all
directions. And so we got the world as it is--full of ups and downs,
and behinds and befores, and corners that you can’t see round.
Horrible, untidy, disgusting!

NEW. Well, but what can an artist do? He must copy it!

LIL. Copy it! Where does Repeating-pattern find art in that? Mere
pig on pork _I_ call it. What art has to do is--put things back into
shape as the gods originally intended. Make your picture submissively
flat--and there you’ve got religious art. A picture that looks as if
you could walk into it makes me sick. Who _wants_ to walk into it?
Wiowani was an exalted ass to my thinking.

HITI. Any way he wasn’t an impressionist, that’s one comfort.

HAN. And how does comforted Ignorance define an impressionist?

HITI. Any blinkered fool who can’t see an outline, and couldn’t draw it
if he did.

                                    [_Grins through damaged sign-board._

HAN. If presumptuous Incapacity imagines that innuendo can prevent art
from following science--

 HITI. }               Follow science--follow fiddle-sticks--follow its
 PEE.  }               nose! Art can’t follow anything: it’s a law to
 LIL.  } [_Together._] itself. Art is the handmaid of Religion: Science
 NEW.  }               has nothing whatever to do with it. Science be....

TEE. Oh, it’s no use quarrelling about theories. We all paint either
what we think will tell, or what we think will sell:--those are the
only two schools _I_ know of. If you are a naturalist, you paint pink
flesh and green trees.

NEW. Naturally!

TEE. If a luminist,--blue flesh and pink trees.

HAN. Certainly!

TEE. If a symbolist,--green flesh and brown trees. If you are a
vibrantist you see spots, if a chiaroscurist you see blots, if you
are academic you use hard outlines and polished surfaces and call it

LIL. No, I don’t!

HITI. Yes, he does!

TEE. If an impressionist you avoid outlines, leave an accidental
surface, and call it ‘quality.’ But you all really _see_ exactly

ALL. We don’t!

TEE. The thing is sometimes to avoid seeing. Pee-Ah-Bee does it by
screwing his nose into his canvas and painting by his sense of touch.

HITI. Don’t be touchy, Pee-Ah-Bee; your nose _was_ there,--there’s
paint on it.

TEE. Hanky-panky does it at arm’s length with his eyes shut,--finding
his accidental effects so much better than his scientific ones. New-Lyn
does it on sea-air and pilchards,--wears a tarpaulin, and paints with a
catspaw in a south-west wind.

NEW. I do it on my own, anyhow!

PEE. While Tee-Pee’s art consists in always starting brilliantly on
some new sort of paper, putting his initials on it and then dropping it
for another sort.

JOSI. And Mrs. Back-of-de-House does like Mr. Wiowani: as soon as a
picture is finished she walks into it.

                                                    [_General laughter._

LIL. Sh-h-h!

                           [_Within the house_ MRS. OLANGTSI’S _voice is
                           heard raised in anger, loud and voluble.
                           All slink back to their places._ JOSI-MOSI
                           _shuffles off with his pickings to a corner.
                           Enter_ MRS. OLANGTSI, _followed by_ OLANGTSI.
                           MRS. OLANGTSI _threads her way through
                           obsequiously shifted easels towards_ TIKIPU,
                           _and fetches him a box on the ear_.

MRS. O. Take that!

                         [TIKIPU _winces, but goes on grinding, glancing
                         round apprehensively as she retires_.
                         OLANGTSI _follows at her heels, showing himself
                         a careful understudy of all her masterful

OLANG. Yes, that!

                          [_Boxes_ TIKIPU _as though the initiative were
                          his own_.

MRS. O. [_To Students._] So you pretend you’ve all been hard at work,
do you?

OLANG. Ay: you may pretend, but you don’t deceive _me_!

TEE. [_Ignoring_ OLANGTSI.] August Lady, we were only correcting Tikipu
for his persistent indolence. The commotion which you heard just now
was caused by his resistance. We now perceive that correction on _our_
part was superfluous.

OLANG. Superfluous? Of course! I can chastise Tikipu for myself--as
much as I think necessary:--that is, with assistance from the right
quarter. Gentlemen, your immediate and polite attention.

MRS. O. [_To_ HAN-KIN, _who endeavours to conceal sign-board_.]
Yes--you’d better put it out of sight! Any more things like that, and
out of this shop you go.

OLANG. Yes: anything more of _that_ kind, and you leave my studio

MRS. O. Shop, I said.

OLANG. Studio is more correct.

MRS. O. Shop!

OLANG. Shop, as far as you are concerned, my dear; and--of course--shop
as far as _he_ is concerned. Understand:--

    Out of this shop
    Neck and crop!

That’s a rhyme, my dear.... I don’t know any rhyme to studio.

MRS. O. Nor I. You’d better begin your lecture instead of wasting time
arguing with me.

                    [MRS. OLANGTSI _begins labelling a row of lanterns_.

OLANG. Yes, yes--as I was about to remark,--Gentlemen, pupils, and--and
others, your immediate and polite attention. The instruction it has so
long been my assiduous effort to bestow on your--ah--slowly dawning
intelligences, is to-day relaxed when at the stroke of noon we start to
celebrate the Feast of Lanterns--the Feast of those lanterns which are
so largely supplied from this emporium of the arts.

MRS. O. Shop.

OLANG. Yes--as I was saying--shop. But before we turn to scenes of
distraction and relaxation I am here once more to remind you of
your high and privileged calling in the traditions of Wiowani, the
greatest of all the ancient Masters, whose only surviving follower
and representative I am, and whose last and greatest masterpiece here
stands before you for your instruction.

                          [STUDENTS _turn_: NAU-TEE _knocks over_ HITI’S

HITI. Propinquitous idiot!

OLANG. This august picture, as you all know----

YUNG. [_Awaking._] I want my tea, I’m waiting for my tea. Tea--Tea--Tea!

MRS. O. [_Going to inner door._] Mee-Mee, bring in the tea! [_To_
JOSI.] Oh, you are there, are you? Here, take that rubbish away!
[_Gives him sign-board._] When’s that money-lender man of yours
coming? [_Aside._]

JOSI. Preshently. He’s going to see de public executions first: den
he’ll come.

YUNG. Executions? When are the executions, Josi-Mosi?

JOSI. Twelve o’clock, of course, before de Feasht commenshes. You’ll
see ’em: dey come dish way.

YUNG. Phwit! Ha--ha!                                  [_Slaps his knee._

OLANG. Ach! you low fellow! That wakes you, does it? That amuses you!
Oh, what’s the use of trying to make an artist of you?

YUNG. [_Sulkily._] _I_ didn’t want to be an artist. I wanted to be a
grocer. I _was_ a grocer once. I am still.

OLANG. How dare you say so? How dare you?

YUNG. The certificate says so: I’ve got the certificate. See! That
says----[_He produces certificate._

OLANG. It says nothing! [_Snatching it._] Your name is not on it.

YUNG. Because you painted it out!

OLANG. It no longer concerns you! In future you will please to let it
alone. [_Pockets it._

YUNG. You always disliked me, father!

OLANG. I didn’t _always_ dislike you! How dare you say that? I dislike
your manners--who wouldn’t? I dislike your appearance, I dislike your
tastes, and I dislike your character.... More than that I--I--don’t

YUNG. [_Whimpering._] He’s taken my certificate!

MRS. O. What have you taken his certificate for? Let him have it, if it
amuses him!

YUNG. [_Whimpering still._] It was red: it had white letters on it, and
it said----

OLANG. My dear, do you not know that in this country for a grocer to be
also an artist is illegal? and _can you not see_ that if you allow him
always to go fancying himself a grocer he will never become a painter?

YUNG. [_Sobbing._] It said----

MRS. O. No, I can’t; there’s no sense in it! You are always saying what
Art wants is imagination. Well--let him practise imagining himself a

                     _Enter_ MEE-MEE _from house_.

YUNG. [_Weeping._] It said I was to be a grocer, not an artist!

MRS. O. [_To_ JOSI.] Here, you can go! Tell him--as soon after twelve
as he can.

JOSI. I’ll bring him.

                                                      [_Exit_ JOSI-MOSI.

MEE. Will any of yo’ Condescensions tea? Have some? [_To_ YUNGLANGTSI,
_who on taking it stops weeping_.] t’ank!... Have some?... t’ank! [_She
goes round offering to all in turn in the same words._] Have some?...

MRS. O. [_Aside to_ OLANGTSI.] See that they are all gone before he

OLANG. Gone? Gone? I shan’t be able to get them to go--not till I have
paid them!

MRS. O. Yes, you will--there’s the execution. Say you’ll pay them

OLANG. I’ve said that sometimes before.

MRS. O. Say it again! If they don’t believe you, you can shout it; if
they still don’t believe you--whisper it.

                               [MEE-MEE, _coming behind, waits for_ MRS.
                               OLANGTSI’S _attention_.

OLANG. Will that----?

MRS. O. Yes, if you do it properly.

MEE. High hon’ble Mrs. Back-of-de-House not have any?

MRS. O. No! Take it away!

MEE. Not any next nice new order? No? T’ank!

                               [_Crosses to_ TIKIPU. _He shakes his head

MRS. O. What are you doing there?

MEE. Mos’ hon’ble! only to make it go de whole way roun’--not to waste

MRS. O. Take it away! Go and get my shoes ready, and my big sunshade,
so that I can get out before the shops shut. [_Exit_ MEE-MEE.] Tikipu,
as soon as you’ve done what you are at, take round those lanterns; the
labels are all on them. Don’t leave them at the wrong doors; and mind,
whatever they say, you’re to wait for the money.

OLANG. Yes, recollect you are to wait for the money.

MRS. O. Now, Olangtsi, you can get on with your lecture, and be done
with it before I come back.

                                                     [_Exit into house._

                      [_Signal passes between apprentices and craftsmen:
                      they fold up their easels._

OLANG. Gentlemen, your immediate and polite attention.... Where was I?
What had I got to?

NEW. ‘Wait for the money’ was Eloquence’s last hopeful remark. It is
what we are all doing now.

OLANG. Silence!

LIL. Mr. Olangtsi, we do not want your lecture! We want our wages:
those wages which, Apology begs to point out, are in honourable arrears.

OLANG. Of course, of course! Well, you shall have your money. [_They
extend their palms._] Do you think that I am not going to pay you?

                           [_The two students_, HITI-TITI _and_ NAU-TEE,
                           _look on grinning_.

HAN. No ... on the contrary--we think that you _are_!

OLANG. You shall be paid to-night.

TEE. It will then be the Feast, during which, as Affluence is no doubt
honourably aware, no legal debt is recoverable. Mr. Olangtsi, labour
itself is pleasing to us, but the needful is also necessary. How can we
feast if our pockets be empty?

OLANG. [_Shouts._] I tell you--you shall be paid to-night.

PEE. By to-night Mrs. Back-of-the-House will have returned. Considerate
Master, it makes a difference: before you we can uplift the voice of
complaint which at the blast of _her_ nostrils becomes dumb.

OLANG. [_Whispering._] I tell you, you shall be paid to-night.

HAN. [_After gathering the approval of the others._] We accept. But as
an honourable precaution--since in the meanwhile Mrs. Back-of-the-House
may have returned--we will save Scrub-and-run-errands the trouble of
delivering those lanterns. We will deliver them ourselves--and collect
the money!

OLANG. Indeed you will do no such thing! Tikipu, take in those lanterns!

                             [TIKIPU _is set upon. He holds the lanterns
                             over his head. His arm is dragged down._

OLANG. But, gentlemen, this will be very awkward for me! I consider it
a most--a most ungentlemanly proceeding! When my wife hears of it she

 _Re-enter_ MRS. OLANGTSI. _They all collapse back into their places._

MRS. O. Tikipu, bring on those lanterns and call a coolie. I’ll see
to them myself. [_Exit_ TIKIPU _with lanterns_.] Oh, so the lecture’s
finished, is it? Well, then, you’d better all get on with your work;
and you, Olangtsi, you come with me!... You can all go at twelve.

                      [_Meekly followed by_ OLANGTSI, _she sallies forth
                      into street_.

TEE. Well, really!

HAN. If that green Elephant thinks that she can trample upon me!

HITI. Dear Hanky-pancake--she has done it!

LIL. Oh, don’t talk about it, it’s too consecutively sickening!

            _Enter_ MEE-MEE. _She clears away cups, looking
              inquiringly at each student as she does so._

MEE. H’m! Me t’ink you all velly sad to-day?

TEE. [_Lugubriously._] It’s the Feast of Lanterns, Mee-Mee.

MEE. H’m! Dat not sad.

NEW. Yes it is, if you’ve no money to spend on it.

   _Re-enter_ TIKIPU. _He goes back to his work, ignoring_ MEE-MEE.

MEE. What for you want to spend money? You talk, you walk, you run
about and you play, you sing and you dance. Dat evellyt’ing to make you
happy--in de worl’.

LIL. How can one sing if one has nothing to sing about?

MEE. You sing about yo’self. All de worl’ sing about itself: how nice
to be oneself. Dat not true? _I_ sing--_I_ show you! [_She prepares
centre of stage for dance and song._] Dis goin’ to be velly beautiful,
but it cost not’ing! Dere’s a river; dere’s a lily; an’ dis is me--and
dere is you all lookin’ like ducks on de water. Yes.... Now!

                                              [_Takes guitar and sings._

    ‘Will you have a sing-song, a lill’-song, a long-song?’
    Cly de ducks aquacking on de Ying-Kai banks.
    Any song dat _you_ sing--sho’ to be de wrong song?
    ‘S’all I no sing you any song?’--No, t’anks!

    Lill’ golden lily, dat is lying in de water,
    Golden lily willy-nilly holding to de banks;
    Lift up yo’ head an’ see de Chi’man’s daughter;
    Tip-toe she go--just so. No, t’anks!

    Lill’ golden lily, wid yo’ open eye a-winking,
    All de while you wonder why de worl’ so ill at ease!
    What has you been hopin’ fo’? What has you been t’inking?
    What you say you want? Pick-me-quick? Yes, please!

[_Speaks._] Lill’ golden lily! Ah, ho! [_She picks the flower and puts
it into her hair._] Dat’s all you’ll hear about it _dis_ time. Wish you
so happy Feast! Goo’-bye!

                                                   [_Runs off laughing._

STUDENTS. Mee-Mee, come back! Mee-Mee, Mee-Mee!

YUNG. [_Awaking._] Who was making that _beastly_ row? [_Drums of
execution-procession are heard._] What’s that?

TEE. [_Looking out._] It’s the execution! Ah ha! Here they come!

YUNG. Who-whoop! Who-whoop!

                         [_Exeunt all, except_ TIKIPU, _in great haste._

                          [TIKIPU _throws himself forward over the stand
                          where he has been grinding, and buries his
                          face in his arms. Enter_ MEE-MEE: _she
                          advances sympathetically, but timidly._

MEE. Tiki.... Tikipu.... Have dey been beating you again? Eh? [_Goes up
to him._] Tiki, what is you clying for? [_Touches him._] You clying?

TIKI. [_Rousing himself with an effort._] No, I wasn’t crying, Mee-Mee;
I was only asleep.... Crying! Ha! [_He gets up._] Every one gone?

MEE. Yes ... dere’s de to-be-made-dead men jus’ gone by!... Oh, hear!
Oh, see! [_She runs to door and peeps out._ TIKIPU _crosses to picture
and sits gazing at it._] Oh, look, Tiki! dere’s a big pig lying asleep
out in de street! All de people go by--he not care--he sleep.

TIKI. H’m.... Like Yunglangtsi--eh?

MEE. Oh ... you _wicked_! Hee, hee, hee! Yes!--he Yunglangsti--just
dat!... [_To the pig outside._] Say! You waitin’ for yo’ little wife to
come? Plaps she mally some one else while you waitin’, eh? Grrr! Grrrr!
[_She shuts door._] Hee, hee, hee, hee! You don’t like Yunglangtsi?

TIKI. [_Yawning._] Do you?

MEE. Mm-yah! When he sleep he seem velly nice. Me not like him, plaps,
if he wake too much!... Tiki! you ’sleep, too?... Say?--you sittin’ up
all las’ night?

TIKI. Sitting up?

MEE. [_Nods._] M’m ... she know: she lie awake an’ watch de light, den
she go to sleep--plaps: den she wake.... De light still dere.... Tiki!
what de matter wid you? [_Shakes him._] Is you in love?

TIKI. [_Rousing himself._] In lo.... Oh! it’s no use telling you,
Mee-Mee; you wouldn’t understand. You are only a woman.

MEE. H’m.... Onl’.... Dat velly big only! ... dat half de worl’....
What is yo’self?... Only a man! You isn’t _quite_ a man yet--else you
never say foolish t’ing like dat!... ‘Only!’

TIKI. Ah, well! I mean it’s a secret, something you don’t know anything
about. There are many mysteries in the world, Mee-Mee. This one is mine.

MEE. Mistless--yo’ mistless? Some one bigger than Mrs. Back-of-de-House?

TIKI. Yes, bigger than Mrs. Back-of-the-House!

MEE. Dat possible? No!... Tiki...?

TIKI. Yes? Well?

MEE. Me got seclet too; one gleat big seclet! And oh--so nice!... One
you not know, Tiki ... eh?... Man dat sol’ me know ... man dat bought
me know. Nobody else know at all.... Me velly vallable!

TIKI. [_Indifferently._] Oh, I daresay!... Here! Mee-Mee! stay as you
are! [_Takes up drawing-board from_ YUNGLANGTSI’S _easel_.] I’ll do
your portrait. This is Yunglangtsi’s, there’s nothing on it. He’ll
think he did it in his sleep.

                             [_He begins sketching. She stands smiling._

MEE. H’m! T’ink he’s bin havin’ nice dream, den!

TIKI. What was it brought you here, Mee-Mee?

MEE. Money.

TIKI. What? D’you mean to say you’ve got money?

MEE. Not no--not’ing dat kind, leas’ little bit at all.

TIKI. But you said----

MEE. No--say not’ing like dat!--Me bought wife for dat man’s son to
mally. Not nice thought dat, eh, what?

TIKI. But why ever does he want to marry _you_, Mee-Mee?

MEE. H’m, dat my lill’ seclet! Though me got no money left, me born
under Star. Star say,--man dat mally me gleat artis’. He no artis’ now,
eh? He only got to mally me--den he become! See?

TIKI. Oh! So that is why he always sits idle and never works? It’s all
going to be done for him?

MEE. Yes, so! Jus’ waitin’ fo’ me to come and make him big artis’.

TIKI. And when is that to be?

MEE. When de Star come say right time--den mally.

TIKI. How soon?

MEE. Oh! not for long time yet--t’ree year.

TIKI. I suppose the Star makes the date very particular?

MEE. Evellybody velly particular. Me not velly particular. Gleat artis’
not velly good husband, me t’ink.

TIKI. Oh yes! Why not? Look at Mr. Olangtsi! He’s a very good husband,
in a way.

MEE. He gleat artis’?

TIKI. He _was_, Mee-Mee, he’s a little old now.

MEE. He mally under star, eh?

TIKI. No: he married under an eclipse, I fancy. Only don’t you say I
said so. There! that’s finished now.

                                          [_He puts down drawing-board._

MEE. Oh! dat wonderful!

TIKI. Don’t you tell, mind! Now off with you! We’ll leave it here for
Yunglangtsi. [_Starts tidying up._] Some one’s coming, Mee-Mee.

                           [_Exit_ MEE-MEE, TIKIPU _passes into pantry_.

                  _Enter_ JOSI-MOSI _and_ COSI-MOSI.

JOSI. Any one in?... Come in, Coshi.... Dere’sh only de boy! Take a
look at de furniture now you’ve got de chance. Dat’s de picture--over
dere.... And don’t forget you give me ten per shent on what you make
from de introduction, Coshi.

COSI. That won’t do. ’Tisn’t worth it. Five.

JOSI. Coshi, I’m your only broder; shplit de difference and make it

COSI. What’s the good of your being my brother, when you are so shabby
I can’t own you.

JOSI. Ugh! Dere ain’t much to choose between you and me for shabbiness,
Coshi; I’ve got a shabby coat, but you’ve got a shabby shoul!... How
much did you shay?

                                                    [TIKIPU _re-enters_.

COSI. Five’s my figure.

JOSI. Five’s mine.... What do you think of de picture?

                                                       [TIKIPU _starts_.

COSI. Seems genuine enough, but I wouldn’t give three hundred yen for
_dat_. Dat style’s gone out of fashion now.

_Re-enter_ MEE-MEE.

TIKI. You--you are not going to take away that picture, are you?

COSI. Why not?


COSI. ’Tisn’t yours, is it?

MEE. [_Removing cup._] If yo’ please! T’ank!

COSI. Hello! Who’s dat?

                                                        [_Exit_ MEE-MEE.

JOSI. Dat’s de little gell I told you about. Dey bought her seven years

COSI. She’d be a good security, she would. In three years’ time she’d
be a good bargain for me.... [_To_ TIKIPU _derisively_.] Does dat--dat
gel belong to you, too?

                                [TIKIPU _shakes his head indifferently_.

                   _Enter_ MR. _and_ MRS. OLANGTSI.

MRS. O. Oh, you’ve come earlier than you said. Well, have you told him
what we want? Here, [_to_ TIKIPU, _who is showing too much interest_],
you can go and wait outside.

                                                         [_Exit_ TIKIPU.

JOSI. Yesh, I’ve told him.

MRS. O. What did you say his name was?

JOSI. Mr. Cosi-Mosi--name fifty per shent de same, but no relation. Go
on--you tell him what you want.

MRS. O. Three hundred yen’s what I want. Have you got it?

COSI. Have I got it? Yesh--_you_ haven’t: dat’s de point! Next
point--have you got anything dat’ll cover it?

OLANG. Of course! My word is my bond. I will give you my word----

MRS. O. Hold your tongue!

COSI. [_Ignoring_ OLANGTSI.] How long d’you want it for?

MRS. O. Three years.

COSI. What’s your security?

MRS. O. Everything you see here.

COSI. Not enough.

MRS. O. [_Pointing half contemptuously._] There’s a picture.

COSI. Yesh, I’ve seen dat.

OLANG. Understand, that is a most valuable picture! I would not part
from it for any sum you like to name!

COSI. I wouldn’t like to name any sum. It’s out of date; and it’s in a
bad state of preservation.

OLANG. Then you know nothing about it! Its preservation is perfect.

COSI. Dat’s what I mean: its been _over_-preserved. It ought to have
been destroyed long ago.... Have you got nothing better dan dat to
raise money on?

OLANG. Than that? No.

MRS. O. Than that? Yes? Have you never heard of our son, Yunglangtsi?


MRS. O. Well, I’ll tell you! Seven years ago his future was foretold
from the stars. In three years from now he’ll have become the greatest
of living artists.

JOSI. [_Aside._] Don’t you believe it, Coshi.

COSI. Is he making a living now?

MRS. O. He’s alive. What more do you want?

JOSI. [_Aside._] Don’t you believe dat either, Coshi. He’s only

COSI. Can you show me any of his work?

JOSI. [_Aside._] Dats got ’em!

MRS. O. No, I can’t,--and for a good enough reason, too. Every picture
he paints he sells right away.

OLANG. That is true: we have not a single piece of his work unsold.

COSI. Very good. Den when he’s got a piece to sell I’ll call again and
look at it.... Good morning.

OLANG. [_Suddenly catching sight of the drawing._] Stop!... Look--look
here, my dear. This is most extraordinary! Here is something that has
not been sold.

MRS. O. Ah! Now! Say what you like. Look at that!

  _Enter_ YUNGLANGTSI. _Making gesture of execution with his hand, he
                        shuffles in chuckling._

YUNG. Phit! Phit! Ah ha! I’ve been to the executions, mother. Three of
them were hanged, and two had their heads cut off! They did make such
funny faces! Phit!

OLANG. How could he have done it? Why, it’s--it’s wonderful!... When
did you do this?

YUNG. Do that? Why, that’s Mee-Mee, of course.

JOSI. Yes, dat’s Mee-Mee, right enough.

MRS. O. There, that shows you!

OLANG. The Star! The Star! It is the beginning of the Event. This day
three years it will come true!

MRS. O. [_Aside._] Don’t be a fool! _He_ never did that. It was one of
the others.

COSI. Here, about dish money; dat little gal--why’ve you said nothing
about her? She belong to you, eh?

MRS. O. Yes. Well?

YUNG. Mee-Mee belongs to _me_: you may take Mee-Mee, if you’ll give me
back my certificate!

OLANG. Be silent!

                                                    [_Exit_ YUNGLANGTSI.

COSI. Well, make a security of her and you shall have de money--wid de
other securities too, mind you! Dere’s no knowing: she might die.

OLANG. Mee-Mee a security! No, no, that is impossible!

MRS. O. Why is it impossible, I should like to know?

JOSI. [_To_ COSI.] Leave dem alone. You’ve got her.

                                                         [_They retire._

OLANG. But, my dear, we--we can’t risk it!

MRS. O. Stuff! I know what I’m about.

OLANG. If before this day three years Mee-Mee goes out of our hands

MRS. O. She won’t.... Isn’t this day three years the very day? Before
we let her go--she’ll _be_ married.

OLANG. Oh! Ah!... I never thought of that!

MRS. O. You never would.

COSI. Well? Have you agreed?

MRS. O. Yes.

OLANG. Yes--we have agreed.

COSI. All right: den now let’s get it into form. [_Puts on
spectacles._] T’ree hundred yen for t’ree years at twenty per cent--as
from to-day.

MRS. O. Money down.

COSI. Count it out, Josi; you’ll find it dere.... [_Aside._] It’s de
exact amount, Josi; you need only pretend to count it. [COSI-MOSI
_begins to fill up form_. JOSI-MOSI, _disappointed of pickings,
counts money_.] De first shecurity is de gel--which is your own

JOSI. Mee-Mee. You spell it wid an M.

COSI. Mee-Mee,--to be handed over on demand if the loan is not
repaid with all interest due--dis day t’ree year;--dat is de
Feast of Lanterns.... De second shecurity is de picture--your own

JOSI. ‘De threshold of de Muses.’


JOSI. Mr. Wiowani.

COSI. Living artist?

JOSI. Deceased--date of death not known.

COSI. Third shecurity ... all furniture and household effects, private
and professional, belonging to Mr. Olangtsi.... You call yourself an
artist, eh?

OLANG. I do ... that is ... yes.

COSI. Artist ... of ... so ... so ... so.... Date, de ... yes. Dere!
Dat’s all right! Now, if you sign dis, I give you de money.

OLANG. But if by any chance I should be unable to repay,--then you take
all that I have?

COSI. No, I don’t. De girl and de picture togedder will cover de
amount. If de girl should die ... well, of course, if de girl should
die ... den you won’t be so well off.

OLANG. You see, my dear----

MRS. O. Sign it!

OLANG. Very well ... I ... I sign, but I sign under protest.... What do
I do?

COSI. You deliver this as your act and deed.

OLANG. I deliver this as my act and deed:--and I--I wash my hands of
all responsibility in the matter!

COSI. All right ... dere’s de money.

                                                           [_Hands bag._

MRS. O. I hope you’ve brought it in silver? Ah, yes. Because there’s
the week’s wages to be paid to-night.

OLANG. The whole quarter’s, my dear.

MRS. O. Will you hold your tongue!

COSI. Well, dat’s all.... Honourable good-day to you, and a fortunate

MRS. O. Honourable good-day.

OLANG. Honourable good-day. Condescend to over-eat yourself, and
greatly oblige.

                                                      [_Exit_ COSI-MOSI.

MRS. O. Now, after this, you’d better give up painting pictures that
won’t sell. It’s no use burning your candle at both ends if you can’t
make them meet.

JOSI. Yesh, he was burning his candle last night! Got de picture
finished, eh? You might have thrown dat into de shecurity as well.

MRS. O. He’s not getting any picture finished. What d’you mean?

JOSI. Oh, ah! We wash to pretend we didn’t know. All right ... de
candle was burning to amuse itself, I shuppose!

OLANG. A candle?... Burning?... Where?

JOSI. In here.

OLANG. When?

JOSI. Last night. When I went to bed dere was a light, ... when I got
up dere was a light. Now, Honourable Mrs. Back-of-the-House, dere’s my
little commission, please, for de introduction.... How much did we shay
it was to be?

OLANG. In here, you say?... Last night?

JOSI. Yesh, and oder nights ash well!... Ten shen, I t’ink we said, eh?

MRS. O. [_Looking fixedly at_ OLANGTSI.] Five, I said.

JOSI. Five!

MRS. O. [_Putting down money._] There’s five for you; its either that
or none.

Now you be off! Ah! there’s the Feast begun.

                                                [_Bells start clanging._


    Aye, dere’s de Feasht: ‘Eat meat!’ it shays, ‘drink wine!
    ‘Drink! Drink! Drink! and be happy, all you shwine!’


                                                      [_Exit_ JOSI-MOSI.


    A light in here! In here there has been a light,


    Burning until the dawn all through the night!

MRS. O. Yes, we know that. D’you mean it wasn’t you?


    A light, a light, a light! Ah! if it’s true,
    What does it mean?


                      Means some one’s been about
    Where he’d no right to be. Now we’ve found out,
    I’ll make him smart for it!


    Make who? Make who?

MRS. O. Why, who is it that sleeps here?


    What! Tikipu ... you think that it was he?


    That’s to be proved.... Wait till to-night and see!
    Do nothing ... say nothing.... Don’t let him guess
    That you know anything at all. The less
    You say the better!


                                                  [_Exit_ MRS. OLANGTSI.


                      AH!! A light! A light!
    What does it mean? Well, I shall know to-night!

                                                       [_Exit_ OLANGTSI.

CHORUS. [_Without._] [_Bells at intervals._]

    Ching-a-ring-a-ring-ting, Feast of Lanterns!
    Sing the song, and set the gong to sound round the town!
    Up and out, and all about, now every man that can turns:
    China shall catch fire when the sun goes down!

           TIKIPU _re-enters and begins clearing the studio.
           The picture catches his eye: he stands motionless
                             gazing at it._


                                ACT II

 _After sunset._ MEE-MEE _is discovered lighting up the studio_.
 STUDENTS _and_ APPRENTICES _enter from house. They run round after
 each other’s tails in a cat-prowling fashion, singing in high good

STUDENTS. [_In chorus._]

    Mew-cats, mew-cats, come and take a walk!
    Mew-cats, mew-cats, come and have a talk!
    Catch your catch, as cats can! Who can catch me now?
    What you at, scratch cat? Phit! Phat! Miaow!

                                                          [_They dance._

TEE. [_Rubbing his hands._] Ah, ha!

NEW. [_Slapping his pockets._] Ha, ha!

THE REST. Hee-hee!

MEE. What you all laughing ’bout not’ing for?

TEE. We are all in a very good temper to-night, Mee-Mee. We’ve been

MEE. Dat so?

TEE. Yes,--to the last sen! Isn’t that wonderful?

MEE. Velly nice, me t’ink.

TEE. And so, Mee-Mee [_takes box from_ LILONG], here’s a little present
for you which self-sacrificing Generosity has been long intending.

                                            [_Presents a box of sweets._

MEE. Oh, hon’ble Nicenesses, awfully to condescen’!

HITI. They are sweets, Mee-Mee.

NAU. We hope they are good; but we haven’t tried them.

MEE. [_Offering box._] Graciously to inspect Humbleness invite! [_They
help themselves in turn without scruple or limit._] Me hope dey quite
good enough--to yo’ taste?

TEE. Very good indeed, Mee-Mee.... Thank you ... yes, as I was saying,
we’ve been paid.

LIL. And so we have promised----

PEE. What do you think?----

NEW. Why, to take Yunglangtsi in the procession with us----

HAN. As a walking advertisement.

MEE. He not going to walk all de way?

NEW. Oh, no!

LIL. We are going to have him carried in a chair of state--quite grand,
like a mandarin.

PEE. And we shall go in front and behind. We are going to get the chair

HAN. Have all the lanterns lighted for us, Mee-Mee, when we come back.

MEE. Say? How long will de procession last?

TEE. Till dawn, Mee-Mee; till dawn! Then the lanterns go out, and we
all run home like cats.

HITI. Like cats, Mee-Mee, holding on to each other’s tails: for some of
us won’t be able to walk straight by then! Come, pussy cats....

STUDENTS. [_In chorus._]

    Mew-cats, mew-cats, all fit and fat,
    Mew-cats, mew-cats, what will you be at?
    Tit-for-tat, kit-for-cat,--can’t you have enough?
    Catch your catch, and catch again! Phit! Phat! Fuff!

                    [_They imitate a cat’s fight, and dance off, holding
                    each other’s pig-tails. Meanwhile_ YUNGLANGTSI
                    _has entered, dull and ponderous.
                    He squats disconsolately on a cushion and sits
                    cross-legged, looking at_ MEE-MEE _with a
                    sort of sulky possessiveness_.

YUNG. Come to me here, Mee-Mee! Come and talk to me!

MEE. Ya-as! What sort of talky-talky Serenity like best?

YUNG. Any silly chatter will do, so long as you talk.

MEE. Hon’ble Mr. Yunglangtsi not velly happy to-night?

YUNG. I’m bored, Mee-Mee; I’m bored!

MEE. You been changin’ yo’ clo’s?

YUNG. I was made to, Mee-Mee: mother made me ... so did my father.... I
don’t belong to myself, Mee-Mee.... I’m a human sacrifice.

MEE. Dey look mos’ mos’ beautiful!... You jus’ like a big lantern all
on fire!... When you go in de procession--all de little bat-moths and
bobby-howlers fly up agen you--so!--and burn deyselves fo’ dey know
where dey are! Hee, hee!

YUNG. Do you think that funny, Mee-Mee?

MEE. Rader funny, don’t you t’ink?

YUNG. You are very silly, Mee-Mee.

MEE. Ya-as, me velly silly--me know dat! Not evellybody so gleat wise
person as Mr. Yunglangtsi. H’m? H’m?

YUNG. You think I like you, Mee-Mee, don’t you?

MEE. Ya-as--a leetle.

YUNG. Well, I don’t then. I dislike you. There’s no one I dislike more.
Shall I tell you why?

MEE. If you please.

YUNG. It’s because you’ve robbed me--yes, _you_, you shabby little
interloper! I’m not the man I was once: you don’t know anything about
me. Till you came here with that confounded horoscope of yours I was
happy--I’d reason to be, _then_.... D’you know what I was? [_She shakes
her head._] A grocer! I suppose you don’t know what that means? Well,
it means sitting in a great shop where people come to buy, and giving
orders to everybody. And all round you there are barrels of oil, with
taps that run, and casks of sugar, and tea by the ton; and bins of
rice, and boxes of spice, and everything nice as nice can be! And a
crushing-machine where things are ground, and the samples all have a
different sound. And you plunge your arms in flour or meal; and if you
can’t see what it is--_you can feel_!

MEE. Oh! how beautiful!

YUNG. And soap, Mee-Mee! Oh, there’s a fortune to be made out of soap
alone. There was a man once, Mee-Mee, who spent three years inventing
the name of a soap.... And when he’d invented it he turned it into a
syndicate and sold it. He sold it for twenty thousand yen.

MEE. De _name_?

YUNG. Yes, the name. What the soap was didn’t matter so long as it had
a good name. That’s real art, Mee-Mee: and that’s what being a grocer
means.... That’s what _I_ was once!

MEE. You? Oh, poo’ man, to lose all dat!

YUNG. Yes, I’d got my full grocer’s certificate: I’d taken five years
to earn it, and I was so proud of it! I used to wear it round my
neck so that every one could see.... It had white letters on a red
ground--and it said ... [_he breaks down_]. And all because of you and
your Star, they’ve gone and taken it off me!... I tell you they’d given
up trying to turn me into an artist: they’d found it was no good. And
then _you_ came, you, you, you superfluous little pig!--and now I’ve
got to wait till your beastly Star comes round again--three years,--and
then I’ve got to marry you and become a fool of a painter, when I might
have been a grocer if you’d only stayed away!

MEE. Oh! me velly, velly solly! Me ’bominably not wanted, eh?

YUNG. My father doesn’t understand me, Mee-Mee.... No one understands
me.... You don’t understand me, either.

MEE. Me t’ink--yes! Have _a_ sweet?

                                                          [_Offers box._

YUNG. Thank you, Mee-Mee.... I think you do understand me a little.
[_He begins chobbling._] When I was a grocer I used to have more sweets
than I could eat: but now [_chobbles_] I never get enough!... I don’t
hate you now as much as I did, Mee-Mee.... Have one?

MEE. Oh, t’ank, t’ank, no!... Shabby Humbleness never dare!

YUNG. It won’t hurt you, Mee-Mee, it’s a very little one.

MEE. Oh, so graciously to condescen’! T’ank!

                 [_She grovels and advances on all fours. Having
                 received it she takes opportunity, while_ YUNG-RLANGTSI
                 _is exploring the box for remains, to
                 throw it away, and wipe her hand_.

YUNG. It’s very hard, Mee-Mee, when one has got a sorrow like mine,
ever to forget it.

MEE. Ah! dat so true!

YUNG. It spoils my appetite, Mee-Mee: it upsets my digestion ...
sometimes it even prevents me from sleeping.... I haven’t slept ... I
haven’t slept since.... You there, Mee-Mee?

MEE. Yes.

YUNG. Come and fan me.

CRIER. [_Without in the distance._] Lights, lights, lights! People,
people, people! Light your lanterns all!

CHORUS. [_In distance._]

    Ching-a-ring-a-ring-ting, Feast of Lanterns!
    Time to chime the lute, the flute, the loud bassoon!
    Shouting out, and all about the link-light man turns:
    Sing awake a tune to make the moon come soon!

YUNG. Mee-Mee!

MEE. Ya-as ... please?... Say?...

YUNG. You still there?

MEE. Ya-as.

YUNG. ... Stop fanning me.

                                                           [_He sleeps._

CRIER. [_Without, going by with rattle of wand on wall._] Lights,
lights, lights! People, people, people! Light your lanterns all!

TIKIPU _enters from street_.

TIKI. Mee-Mee! Has every one gone out?

MEE. Sh! not gone yet!


TIKI. But they _are_ all going? Mrs. Back-of-the-House too?

MEE. She say.

TIKI. Oh, look here, Mee-Mee! When they’ve gone, you come and clean up
for me, and I’ll--well, I’ll show you--something I’m doing.

              _Enter from house_ MR. _and_ MRS. OLANGTSI.

MRS. O. Oh, so you are back, are you? When is the chair coming?

                                                    [TIKIPU _looks out_.

TIKI. Condescension, they are bringing it now.

STUDENTS. [_Without._]

    Lights, lights, lights!
    Come and see the sights!
    Chin, Chin, Chinaman!
    Did ever you see a finer man,
    A major, or a minor man?
    Lights, lights, lights!

MRS. O. Olangtsi, are you ready?

OLANG. Yes, my dear, I’m ready. Where is _my_ lantern, Mee-Mee?

MRS. O. Is Yunglangtsi ready?

MEE. Yes, High-mighty, he leddy an’ waitin’ mos’ patient.

                                              [STUDENTS _heard without_.

MRS. O. Tell them to come in.

                           [TIKIPU _opens door wide_; STUDENTS _re-enter
                           with chair and bearers_. ‘Lights, lights,
                           lights,’ _etc._

OLANG. [_To_ YUNGLANGTSI.] Now, you fat feather-bed, wake up!

                                                          [_Shakes him._

MRS. O. Let him alone! He can go just as well asleep if he likes!
There, put him in! Then you can start; we’ll follow presently.


                             [_They lift the chair with a great effort._

YUNG. Oh, mother, I’ve just had such a dream--such a dream! I dreamt I
was a grocer again.... I dreamt that I....

                               [_Exeunt_ STUDENTS _bearing_ YUNGLANGTSI.
                               ‘Lights, lights, lights,’ _etc._

OLANG. Ah, the low lout! Grocer indeed! How shall I ever make an artist
of a thing like that?

MRS. O. You won’t; so don’t worry yourself! That’s Heaven’s affair, not
yours. As he’s got to wait, he may as well do it sleeping as waking.
You can’t hurry a comet by treading on its tail, so you’d better leave
it alone!... Mee-Mee, you go to bed at once.... Tikipu, take away those

                     [_Exit_ MEE-MEE _into house_, TIKIPU _into pantry_.

[_To_ OLANGTSI.] Now, then, we are going, you understand;--I shall go
out that way, you go this. By the time you come back, I’ll manage to
be in the house somewhere. If you want me, call me: only mind you don’t
come too soon, or we shan’t catch him!...

                          _Re-enter_ TIKIPU.

Now then [_to_ TIKIPU], as soon as you’ve cleaned up here you go to bed
too. Put out those lights--you only want one! Olangtsi, mind you lock
the street-door! I’ll go out the other way and meet you. [_To_ TIKIPU.]
Be quick, put out those lights!


OLANG. Yes, put them all out! Don’t go burning my candles at both ends.

                                                        [_Exit fussily._

VOICES. [_In distance._]

    China’s burning, China’s burning.
    Look yonder, look yonder!
    Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!
    Oh, bring us some water!

                      [TIKIPU _leaves the lights and goes to get out his

                          _Re-enter_ MEE-MEE.

MEE. Oh, Tiki, she gone! She took de key; and when she go out she lock
de door!... We all alone, you and me!

TIKI. All right! There, run along, put out those lights for me! Be
quick, you’ve got plenty to do.

                                [_Music and loud drum-beating is heard._

MEE. Ah, say?

TIKI. Those are the bands going up to the Temple.... That’s where the
procession starts. Hurry, Mee-Mee! You know you were told to go to bed.

MEE. _Me?_... Me stay to help you, Tiki.... [_Looks over his
shoulder._] Dat de seclet?

TIKI. Yes.

MEE. Oh, Tiki, you stealin’ de picture?

TIKI. Stealing it? No, silly! I’m only copying it,--just one little bit
of it at a time.

MEE. Oh, Tiki, it de velly exact same t’ing!

TIKI. Hah! that’s all _you_ can see! Ah, if only it were! [_He begins
mixing colours._] I’ve been thinking, Mee-Mee, of what you said to-day,
about having to marry Yunglangtsi....

MEE. Yees?

TIKI. Marrying you is going to make him a great artist?

MEE. Dat what de Star say.

TIKI. Well, you know, Mee-Mee, you mayn’t like him--but it must be a
fine thing to be the wife of a great artist.

MEE. [_Doubtfully._] H’m.

TIKI. You’d be very proud of him.

MEE. H’m.

TIKI. You’d hear people say such fine things about him--about his
pictures, I mean.

MEE. H’m.

TIKI. And then, you see, they’d say it all came from his marrying _you_.

MEE. Ugh! He never tell dem not’ing ’bout dat!... He keep dat to
himself fo’ fear dat some wise man come an’ steal me; an’ den me teach
_him_ to paint better dan _he_ can.

TIKI. Oh! so you think you could teach painting?

MEE. Oh, yes! dat quite easy t’ing--jus’ to paint!

                            [_Makes an imaginary flourish of the brush._

TIKI. Ah! that shows how little you know. Now I daresay you think that
is nothing but a piece of rice-paper, or silk, or linen, with paint
spread over it?

MEE. Oh, yes! And all de poo’ man’s wasted time!--I know,--go on!


    Yes! Wasted time! That is what every one
    Who’s not an artist thinks when it is done!
    But really--truly--if they had but eyes,--
    Yonder lie glimpses of a paradise
    That is all round us: but that they can’t see!
    We are all prisoners, under lock and key,
    Bereft of light,--until some painter-soul
    Comes with great love and labour, and cuts a hole
    Through the thick wall, and shows, all fresh and fair.
    A heaven of living beauty, waiting there
    Its call to earth! Waiting: and we--stand dumb!


    What silly heaven dat is! Why wait?
    We want, we want,--and it wait!


    If we called loud enough for it, it would come!
    Look, Mee-Mee, look! This picture is the gate
    Of a new world!... Oh, if you could but see!
    In there is Life, magic, and mystery!--
    It moves ... it breathes ... it changes.

                                                             [_A pause._

                    There, sometimes, Mee-Mee,--
    Sometimes when I am here alone at night,
    I have seen all that garden change its light--
    Sunlight to moonlight. I can see the flowers
    Close their bright eyes; and into those dim bowers,
    Lo, like a whispered word,
    Comes sleep; and every bird,
    That with uplifted throat now seems to make
    Those tree-tops shake,
    Stops with a will to let full silence flow.
    All, all looks still, ... and yet, I know
    Something, with power to break
    The spell, stands there ... awake!

Well, now I’ve told you, and how much of it do you understand, I
wonder! There! Off you run to bed, like a good little girl. I’m going
to be busy. Good-night.... Why aren’t you gone, Mee-Mee?

MEE. Mrs. High-Mighty tell _you_ to go to bed,--you sit up still: why
not Mee-Mee sit up too?

TIKI. Oh, well, I’ve got something to do.

MEE. Plaps you not de only person got something to do.... You not want
me: plaps me want meself. [_Music passes._ MEE-MEE _moves to it_.] Oh,
de music!... Say, s’all I sing to you?

TIKI. [_Indifferently._] Oh,--yes--if you like.

MEE. H’m ... yes. You like me to tell you all about meself?

TIKI. [_Absent-mindedly._] Yes, ... oh yes ... that ought to be ...
quite ... amusing.

MEE. Music, stop all dat noise!... Dey stop.... Ah, now ... ah, now!

                                                           [_She sings._

    Mee-Mee orphan from far-off lan’:
    Mee-Mee’s fader was gleat big man!--
      So big--so! He long ago
      Die:--leave me not know where to go!

                                                     [_Music breaks in._

    Give me chance, me laugh, me sing,--
    See now, ah?--Ting-a-ting--Ting-a-ting!
    [_Speaks._] Say! Isn’ dat pletty:--what?

    [_Sings._] Mee-Mee wise: wise mo’n you!
    Got two eyes,--mos’ good as new--
      See dere, eh? Lef’, right;--say,
      What colour in dem dey got to-day?
    How you hope?--s’all dey ope, s’all dey wink?
    You not care, eh? You no’ t’ink?
    [_Speaks._] Say! Isn’ dat pletty:--what?

    [_Sings._] Got no moder,--never had none--
    Got no broder, an’ don’ want one!
      No little sis’--nobody to kiss,--
      Nobody to miss me--nobody to miss:--
        Nowhere else to go!
    See--dat jus’ de way dat I come here,--
    Seven year ago--a long seven year!
        Oh dear!
    [_Speaks._] Say! Isn’ dat pletty:--what?

TIKI. Oh! how can _I_ tell, Mee-Mee! I haven’t got eyes in the back of
my head. Can’t you see I’m busy?

MEE. Dat what all de wicked people say!--Dey say dey’m busy:--dey
mean dey _don’ care_!... You don’ care.... Don’ t’ink Mee-Mee
care,--neither.... Sure not!... [_Goes and looks maliciously over his
shoulder._] You got dat drawn--all wrong!

                                                          [_Turns away._

TIKI. Where, Mee-Mee? Tell me!

MEE. [_Laughing to herself._] Don’ know. She got no eyes in de back of
_her_ head!

TIKI. But show me, Mee-Mee, show me!

MEE. Ugh! [_Relenting and turning to sweet flattery._] Ah! _say_, isn’
dat pletty--what?

TIKI. _Pretty!_ Mee-Mee, don’t you ever dare to call anything that _I_
paint pretty! It’s only quite silly things that are pretty:--coloured
toys, and wax dolls, and paper kites, and fat babies, so long as they
don’t cry,--and foolish little girls who sit and chatter, but know
nothing about Art!... Oh! they are all as pretty as you like ... but
they are all littler than the littlest thing _I_ ever mean to do ... so

MEE. M’m? ... say dat?... Den you know not’ing, not’ing! You not
never be big till you been little first--littler dan me--littler dan
de littlest baby dat ever cly fo’ its mammy to come! Yes! ‘Foolish
chattling little gels what don’ know not’ing ’bout Art’--dey’s bigger
inside dan you know! Dey’s bigger pains--dey’s bigger hearts--dey’s
bigger upside-down inside-out altogedder dan anyt’ing _you_ know
’bout. So dere! What you bin done drawn dere have got no eyes in de
back of its head,--dat’s what de matter wid dat! It’s too _busy_ ’bout
itself!... So’s Mee-Mee,--too _busy_.... Me goin’ now.... Goo’-night!


TIKI. She’s right! She’s right! That chattering little idiot is
right!... Yes, it’s too busy! It’s all too flat, too tight! O Wiowani,
if only I had you, here at my hand, to teach me what to do!


                [_Procession passes, with lights, music, song_--‘China’s
                burning, etc.,’ _and the multitudinous
                babble of a festive crowd. The popping
                of fireworks is heard, sticks are rattled
                along the wall._ TIKIPU _paints on, absorbed
                in his art. The crowd and its noises trickle


    Oh, I’m no good, Wiowani! I’m no good!
    Just now I thought that no one understood
    So well as I.... But this--it’s all too flat!
    Too tight, too stuffy!
                            How did you do that?
    That isn’t paint--that’s--oh! how is it done?
    It’s sunlight,--I mean moonlight,--no--no--sun--

                                                [_He pauses bewildered._

    Wiowani, is it moonlight or sunlight? Oh!
    How am I to paint it if I do not know?
    Ah, how you beat me! How can I recall
    The beauty and the mystery of it all!

                                    [_He goes and examines the picture._

    Oh! is _that_ it? Yes, yes, I see! How strange!
    Is it the painting, or my eyes, that change?
    Or is it that Divinity dwells here,
    And in my darkness makes a light shine clear?

                             [_The shadow of_ OLANGTSI _passes without_.

    O Wiowani, Wisdom born of old,
    Soon shall I learn thy way!
    Thy light shall guide me, and thy hand shall hold;

                                       [OLANGTSI _slides open the door_.

    And some day men shall point to me and say,

                           _Enter_ OLANGTSI.

    ‘There goes the little painter, in whose brain
    Great Wiowani brought to life again
    The art of ancient days!’
    So shall they speak in Wiowani’s praise
    Phile praising me!
    O Wiowani, say! When shall it be?

                           [OLANGTSI _creeps forward and peers over_
                           TIKIPU’S _shoulder. At sight of the drawing
                           he gives a start of astonishment and utters a
                           cry of rage._

OLANG. Oh!!!

                       [TIKIPU _jerks up his hands, drops his brush, and
                       turns to find himself discovered; he attempts
                       to conceal his drawing by reversing it upon
                       his knees_.

                             [OLANGTSI _takes_ TIKIPU _by the scruff and
                             shakes him_. TIKIPU _lets go the drawing_.


    So, little thief, at last you have been caught!
    What thief--what great thief in the night has taught
    You to _steal_--like this?


    Master, I have not stolen, that is not true!


    Not stolen? Oho! so this belongs to you?
    Whose is that paint? whose candles do you burn?
    First you steal these;--and then, with these in turn,
    You come by stealth and rob me of my Art!


    How do I rob you, when I take no part
    Of what is yours? Indeed, I have no skill!
    This counts for nothing; but some day it will--
    Perhaps,--when I have learned!


    You learn! How dare you say
    That you will learn? How have you found the way
    To learn at all? Tell me that! Tell me that!


    Oh, it is nothing to be angry at!
    I only listened, Master, while you taught
    Others the way; and while you spoke you brought
    New wisdom to my brain, and gave my hand
    The craftsman’s cunning,--for you understand
    The meanings of the mystery they spurn,--
    And, as I listened, I could not choose but learn!


    What right had you to listen? What right, I say,
    To profit thus while others had to pay?
    Yours is a hireling’s place: you were brought here
    To rub, scrub, and run errands! And you dare
    Come prying into the privacies of Art,--
    The Art of Wiowani--which stands apart
    Sacred and secret, its traditions known
    And practised by my family alone?
    You play the spy! You come by night: you spoil
    My paper, take my tools, and burn my oil--
    Stealing my Book of Beauty leaf by leaf;
    And yet you dare to say you are no thief!


    As a starving man reaches his hand for bread,
    So in my darkness I reached out for these!
    Master, the hunger was too strong,--the dread
    Of Beauty drove me! For her fierce decrees
    Man must obey, albeit to his own doom!
    Her law brings bondage: where her feet find room
    Her hand holds sway: she tears, that it may bleed,
    The heart which follows her, and every need
    Of man’s frail flesh she takes and turns to scorn!
    Who worships her, by him is sackcloth worn;
    And on his head she sets no crown of joy,
    But ashes only--symbol to be borne,
    If you betray her, how she will--destroy!


    Tiki, you know that I have always been--
    Been a kind master to you....

TIKI. [_Doubtfully._]

    Oh, ye-es!


                                              I mean,
    I have never beaten you, Tiki,--not enough
    To hurt; I have not starved you, or been rough
    To you.... Have I, Tiki? No. My mind was bent
    Kindly toward you. I had always meant
    To help you....


    Help me?


                            Why were you not content
    To wait?


                To help me? Oh, if that were true,
    Master, why, there is nothing I’d not do
    In bondage for your sake! Yes, you may take
    All that I have--all I can ever earn,
    Of fame or fortune,--so you’ll let me learn
    To be a painter! And you need not give
    Me anything--just the bare means to live:
    Enough to keep
    Body and soul together! I want no sleep,
    No warmth, no comfort of any kind, no part
    In anything except the joy of art--
    Of art!


    Listen to me! Why do you interrupt
    While I am speaking? I was saying--yes, yes,
    That I had always intended, more or less,
    When you had served your time here and been paid,
    To help you to some business or trade
    Suited to your capacities and your class.
    Now for this once I am willing to let pass
    The gross deception of your conduct here--
    And as your mind is evidently not clear
    About the future, I am prepared, I say,
    To give you, without any more delay,
    The means of making--if you wish--a start
    Upon your own account, which for my part
    I think will--suit you. [_He takes out certificate._
    This, this, as you see,
    Is the certificate of grocery
    Which my own son--who, as you know, desires
    To be a painter--now no more requires.
    With this you can be a grocer--on condition
    That you do not presume in that position
    To practise, meddle, or take any part
    Nefariously in processes of art
    Which you don’t understand--and never will.
    You will find there a space where you can fill
    Your name in.... There!... I call that,--do not you?--

                          [_He hangs certificate round_ TIKIPU’S _neck_.

    A very handsome offer, Tikipu....
    What do you say?


                      Master, dear Master, oh!
    You do not mean what you are saying! No, no!
    Ah, tell me! though my work means little yet,
    Has it no promise ... none? Do you forget
    How you too learned,--and did things--oh! not well--
    But each time, as a child that learns to spell,
    Your hand became more sure, until it caught
    The kindling fire! And then you had no thought
    Of fame or money, or what the world might say,
    But only of Beauty, and the joy that lay
    There in your hands--the joy of giving birth
    To form!... And then, had any one on earth
    Bade you stop painting, would you not have said--
    ‘To win your wish, first you must strike me dead!’


    You chattering little devil, you drivelling brat!
    How dare you mock at me with your mouth like that!
    Swear by your father’s dust, never to lay
    Finger on paint again! Swear it, I say!


    Oh, if I did, that dust out of the grave
    Would rise and choke me! No! were I your slave,
    I’d keep my birthright! To possess that prize
    You must cut off these hands, put out these eyes,
    Drain me of blood, and draw me limb from limb!
    For it is Wiowani, ’tis from him
    That I get strength; ’tis Wiowani who
    Now stands in judgement betwixt me and you!


    Some Devil has made you say that! Some Devil, I say!
    What? So you think yourself worth saving, eh?
    Worth having, eh? worth teaching? Do you dream
    I’d let a thing like that, a tricked-out scheme,
    A muddy smear, a smudge of chalk and cheese,
    A daub, a patch, a paint-scab, a disease,
    A niggled lie, a forger’s fraud,--go hence
    Out of my studio to breed pestilence?
    No! I will not! ’Tis treason if I spare!
    Let go, let go! That finishes it!--
    So there!

                          [_He tears the drawing into fragments and
                          throws them down._ TIKIPU _screams with
                          anguish, and falls face-forward, clutching the
                          torn pieces_.

    Get up, you blubbering booby! don’t lie there
    Biting the boards up! Now you’ve got to swear!
    Give me your oath! What? So you’re stubborn still?
    Wait, we’ll soon make you!--If I can’t, _she_ will!

                                                     [_Exit into house._

                        [_For a time_ TIKIPU _lies sobbing. Presently he
                        draws towards him the torn fragments of his
                        drawing, and falls down upon them with a
                        cry of despair._


    He had no pity, no pity on me at all!
    Wiowani! Oh, it is no use to call!
    Nobody cares! Nobody hears my cry!
    Oh! I have failed! Wiowani, let me die!
    Oh! let me die!

                        [_In the picture the lantern begins to glow:
                        under its rays the grave and benignant form
                        of_ WIOWANI _is discovered seated_. TIKIPU
                        _raises his head, for he hears in music the call
                        of his soul. He catches sight of_ WIOWANI
                        _and starts to his knees with an exclamation
                        of wonder_. WIOWANI _lifts his hand in
                        beckoning_. TIKIPU _rises and advances slowly
                        in trembling ecstasy_. WIOWANI _reaches
                        forward and takes_ TIKIPU _by the hand.
                        With a long-drawn sigh of relief and rest_
                        TIKIPU _is drawn into the picture. The
                        lantern fades._ WIOWANI _and_ TIKIPU

                   [_In the distance is heard the Chorus of approaching_

STUDENTS. [_Without._]

    Mew-cats, mew-cats, all fit and fat!
    Mew-cats, mew-cats, what have you been at?
    We’ve been out, round about, quite long enough,
    Catch your catch and home again! Phit! Phat! Fuff!

                       _Enter_ MEE-MEE _running_.

MEE. Tiki! Tiki! Dey come back! He in dere talking to Mrs.
Back-of-de-House! Go hidee--quick!... Tiki, where is you gone to?

                          [_She runs about and looks. Outside the Chorus
                          of returning_ STUDENTS _is heard again. They
                          are evidently drunk._

STUDENTS. [_Without._]

    Mew-cash, mew-cash, all fit and fat,
    Mew-cash, mew-cash, wha’sh you been at?
    We’ve been out, roun’ ’bout, qui’ shlong ’nough,
    Cash, cash, an’ cash again! Fiff! Faff! Fuff!

YUNG. [_Without._] I want to go home to bed!

TEE. [_Without._] If you want to go to bed, we must tosh you and turn
you! Up with him! Whup!!

YUNG. [_Without._] Put me down! Put me down, I tell you!

                                          [_Laughter and general smash._

MEE. Tiki?

     _Enter_ YUNGLANGTSI. _He trails in, hardly able to speak for

YUNG. I want to go to bed, Mee-Mee ... where’s mother?

MEE. [_Coming on fallen easel and torn paper._] Ah, say! Who done dat?
Who done dat wicked t’ing?

YUNG. They did, Mee-Mee! When I said ‘Put me down!’ those devils, they
tossed me! But they all fell down, Mee-Mee, and then I was on the top.

MEE. Tiki!

               _Enter_ TEE-PEE, _the others following_.

TEE. Hon’ble Yunglang-shy wantsh you to put him to bed, Mee-Mee.
I wantsh,--I wantsh to be put to bed too, Mee-Mee! Not de _shame_
bed--don’t you go making a mishtake!--No--I wouldn’t----

NAU. What are you sitting up for, Mee-Mee?

LIL. What are you crying for?

HITI. She’s crying, because she’s finished all those sweets we gave
her.... But you mustn’t have any more, Mee-Mee, they’d be bad for you!

              _Enter from house_ MR. _and_ MRS. OLANGTSI.

MRS. O. Make him? Of course I’ll make him! Where have you put him to?

MEE. [_Full of terror and apprehension._] Put him to? Oh!

YUNG. Mother, I want to go to bed.

MRS. O. Where’s Tikipu?

YUNG. Mother, when I said ‘Put me down!’ those devils, they tossed me!

MRS. O. Who has seen Tikipu?

HAN. Sheen Tikipu? Who wantsh to shee Tikipu? Mother of Mountains,
don’t ashk such ’diculous questions!

OLANG. But you _must_ have seen him,--he was here a moment ago!

LIL. Don’t shay he wasn’t here momen’ ago. If he _wash_ here momen’
ago--that’s why he isn’t here _now_; momen’ ago’sh over.

MRS. O. Has he gone out? Did you meet him in the street?

TEE. Meet him in the shtreet! Why should we meet him in the shtreet? He
didn’t ashk us to meet him in the shtreet! Why should we meet him in
the shtreet if he didn’t ask us to meet him in the shtreet?

MRS. O. Well, don’t all stand gaping there! Go out and look for him!

OLANG. He’s not gone out. There are his shoes.

MEE. Oh-h-h! Tiki, what have dey done to you? Where have dey put you
to, Tiki?

                             [_She picks up shoes, looks inside them and
                             fondles them._

MRS. O. Go and look in the house, one of you!

                                                        [_Exit_ NAU-TEE.

OLANG. Perhaps he’s hiding in the roof. Go up and see!

MRS. O. Go and look in the cellar!

                         [_Exit_ LILONG _into cellar and_ PEE-AH-BEE _up

HITI. Yesh, go! Don’t shtand talking--go! Go to the top of the
house--go to the bottom of the house, go to Mrs. Back-of-the-House,
and go to the Devil! [MRS. OLANGTSI _cuffs him_.] Shan’t help you to
look for him any more now.

                      [_Retires to door-post with stately deliberation._

NAU. [_Returning from house._] He’s not in the house! Mrs.
Tip-top-shtory-teller has made a mistake.

OLANG. Ah! where is it? Where has he put it to? Have you seen----

PEE. [_From roof._] He’s not up here!

LIL. [_From cellar-trap._] He’s not down here--he’s not--I’m sure he’s
not down----

                          [_Slips through trap, catches_ TEE-PEE _by the
                          ankles and draws him after_.

OLANG. [_To_ TEE-PEE.] Have you seen----? [TEE-PEE _catches_ NEW-LYN
_by hands, and pulls him down headforemost_.] Have you seen----? [_To_

MEE. Oh, Tiki! Is you not anywhere? What have become of you, Tiki?

                                        [PEE-AH-BEE _returns from roof_.

HITI. [_Clinging to door-post and waving his hand aimlessly._] He’s not
out here!

OLANG. The thief! the thief! he has run off with it!

MRS. O. With what?

OLANG. I gave it him to--to keep safe--I remember now,--before I went

MRS. O. Gave him what?

OLANG. Why, the certificate, of course! What else? Your son’s
certificate of grocery! Ah, fool that I was! Fool!

YUNG. My--my certificate?

OLANG. Yes,--he has taken it!

YUNG. Boohooh! My beautiful--my beautiful certificate. You let him
take it because you didn’t want me to be a grocer! I hate you, father!
Boohooh! Mother, take me to bed!

HITI. [_From doorway._] I know where he ish:--he’sh behind that picture.

OLANG. Ah, yes, behind the picture! Bring him out! Bring him out!

HAN. No--he’s not there! Nothing’s there! ’Shtificate’s not there,

YUNG. Boohooh!

MRS. O. There, there, don’t fret! We’ll get you another, just like it.
There, don’t cry!

                               [_Exeunt_ MRS. OLANGTSI _and_ YUNGLANGTSI
                               _into house_.

HAN., NAUT., _and_ PEE. [_Link arms and cross the stage staggering._]
My--my--my beautiful ’Shtificate.... I hate you, father! Boohooh!

                           [_They push_ HITI-TITI _from door-post and go

OLANG. Oh, Fool! Fool! Fool! Why, why did I ... not ... spare?

                         [MEE-MEE _holds up to_ OLANGTSI _torn fragments
                         of picture. He strikes them down with a cry
                         of rage._

No! I will not! That finishes it. So there!


                              [_The truth dawns on_ MEE-MEE. _She utters
                              a cry._

MEE. Oh! dat kill Tiki! Dat kill--dat make him hate evellybody! Hate me
now, always, always! He never speak to me! He never look at me again.
He never come back--now. He gone! He gone!... Oh Tiki, dey broken yo’
heart all to pieces! Mee-Mee know dat! Mee-Mee understand!

                    [_She gathers the torn pieces to her breast, kissing


                                ACT III

 _The Studio before dawn._ MEE-MEE _lies asleep on a mat in front of
 the picture. Outside a shuffling step is heard, and a sheep-like
 coughing. A dull lantern-light passes along the street wall. Knocking._

MEE. Who dat? [_She shuffles up and goes to the door._] Josi-Mosi, dat

                                                          [_Opens door._

JOSI. Yesh, dat’sh me. [_He enters._] Nobody up yet?

                                                [_He sets down lantern._

MEE. No, dey all asleep--so airly!... Say! you blought dat lill’ t’ing
I tol’ you?

JOSI. Yesh, I’ve got it!

MEE. [_Exultantly._] Sha!

JOSI. What you want it for, eh?

MEE. Ugh!... Meself of course!... Me sleep in here.... All de big
live-long rats come in de night and wake me! Dey run on my toes,--dey
sit on my face. Not nice t’ing dat, eh?

JOSI. Have you got de money?

MEE. Yah! [_Fumbles in sleeve._] Dere now! [_Gives him the money._] No
say dat all right?

JOSI. [_Counting it._] Dat’sh all right.

                                          [_He gives her a small phial._

MEE. Oh! dat all! Dat not e-nough! Dere’s plenty twenty hundred rats in
here.... Take a lot of killing, dey will!

JOSI. Dat ’ud kill five hundred, dat would!

MEE. Kill me too?

JOSI. Kill de whole lot of you.

MEE. [_Satisfied._] Ah!

JOSI. So dey put _you_ to shleep in here now, eh? Dat boy Tikipu never
been sheen again, I shuppose?

MEE. [_Startled._] What for you ask me dat now?... No, he not come.

JOSI. M’m. Reashon I ashk wash becosh dish is de very day he
went--t’ree yearsh ago. Feasht of Lanternsh it wash. I’ve a reashon for
remembering de date.

MEE. So?

JOSI. It wash to-day.... What’sh dat? Who’s dat dere?

                _Enter_ OLANGTSI _in sleeping attire_.

MEE. Ssh! It Mr. Olangtsi ... he velly often come like dat--to de
picture. He not know anyt’ing about it when he wake up! Ssh!

OLANG. Ugh! Ugh!... Yes, yes ... where was I?... I don’t want you,
my dear!... Go away!... You ... you wouldn’t understand!... Gen ...
gentle ... gentlemen pupils ... your immediate and polite attention!...
On this very painful occasion, when I address you for the last time
... and this great picture of Wiowani’s which here stands before you
... for the last time ... I ask you, I ask you, for the last time ...
your kind attention, gentlemen!... No, no, I am not forgetting myself,
my dear, at all!... I am remembering what I once was, ... before you
... before you came and robbed me!... Yes, you did--you robbed me!...
like a thief in the night: first you robbed me of my sleep, then of my
liberty, then of my conscience ... and then, then of my art! Tikipu
found out that for me!... And now everything is gone!

JOSI. What’sh all dish mean?

MEE. He want Tikipu to come back, me t’ink. He velly unhappy!

OLANG. What thief, what great thief in the night taught you to
steal--like that?... Oh, thief, thief, little thief! give it to me,
give it to me, I say.... There! There! ... that finishes it! ... that’s
done, Tikipu, that’s done!

MEE. Oh!

                                                   [_She begins to sob._

OLANG. Don’t cry, Tikipu, it’s no use your crying like that!... Ah,
that’s good, that’s good!--but you mustn’t paint like that any more
... it’s not ... it’s not possible. She won’t let you ... it doesn’t
pay.... And if it doesn’t pay, it’s no good!

JOSI. No, he’sh right dere: if it doesn’t pay, it’sh no good! You know,
little Mish Mee-Mee, you going to have a new master to-day?

MEE. How you know dat? How you know dat?

JOSI. ’Cosh I _do_ know:--it’s de right day for it. He knowsh dat too.

                                                    [_Nods to_ OLANGTSI.

MEE. Den you know velly foolish t’ing, Mr. Josi-Mosi, if you t’ink dat!
Me _not_ have _no_ new master! So dere!... Dis kill so many rat: it
will kill _me_ too!

JOSI. Mee-Mee, you give me dat back!

MEE. Noh!

JOSI. Give it me back, I shay.

                                             [_He tries to take bottle._

MEE. Noh!

JOSI. If you don’t give it me I--I----

MEE. Don’ you _touch_ me! Don’ you dare to come _near_ me!

VOICE. [_Without._] Yah-yah-yah-yah-yah-yah-eh?

                            [_A quick step goes by and a wand taps along
                            the wall._

MEE. [_Relieved._] Ah!

JOSI. What’sh dat!

MEE. De watchman. ‘Evellybody wake up!’ he say. You go!

JOSI. You give me dat firsht!

                                                         [_Pursues her._

MRS. O. [_Within._] Mee-Mee, Mee-Mee! You awake?

MEE. H’m, ya-ah!... Oh ye’es! Almost quite awake now!... You go!... You
gott’n yo’ money--you go!

MRS. O. [_Within._] Get up then; come quick, I want you!

OLANG. Eh? Eh? Yes, my dear, I’m coming! I’m coming!

JOSI. Coshi! I must fetch Coshi!

MEE. Yah!

                                           [_Exit_ JOSI-MOSI _in haste_.

OLANG. Yes, yes, I was meaning to come. It was--it was only for the
last time!

                                        [_Exit_ OLANGTSI _by staircase_.

_Enter by inner door_ MRS. OLANGTSI _with light and bridal costume_.

MRS. O. What are you doing--so slow when I call?

MEE. Only jus’ to open de door!

MRS. O. Don’t want it open! Shut it! [_Looks round suspiciously._]
Who’s been in here?

MEE. It was a big rat dat would’n’ go out! Me told him _you_ comin’:
den he run on his hin’ legs, jus’ like a man!

                                            [_Starts to pull up blinds._

MRS. O. Here! Begin to get yourself dressed, or you’ll be late!...
There are your things.... [_She lays bridal costume on chair._] Now
attend to me, and learn how a Chinese bride should behave.

MEE. Be-have?

MRS. O. In a quarter of an hour--are you attending?--the bridesmen and
the bearers will be here with the palanquin. As soon as you hear them
outside you are to run in there and lock the door.

MEE. Dat door?

MRS. O. Yes; that door: there isn’t any other that I know of. Don’t
lock it so much that they can’t force it without breaking it! I don’t
want to be paying for repairs afterwards, you aren’t worth it!

MEE. Leave it open, den?

MRS. O. Open? Fine sense of modesty _you’ve_ got! Please to recollect
that you are a Chinese bride; you do as I tell you! Pull up that blind!
Then, when they fetch you out, you must struggle,--d’you hear? Kick,
bite, scratch; only mind you don’t tear the dress! Do it decently:
give one of them a scratch on his face where it can be seen: that’ll
be enough. If you show too much fight it looks like having too high an
opinion of yourself. When they’ve put you into the palanquin and locked
you in,--then you can do as you like.

MEE. So?

MRS. O. Remember--the bride’s procession is to start at sunrise. Mind
you are ready!

MEE. Hon’ble Mistless, at sunlise? Dat velly airly--dat not too soon,

MRS. O. Not if I say it’s the time you are to be ready by. When you
want your bride-crown pinned on, come to me!

MEE. My blide-clown? Oh yes!... Say!... When dey put me in my lill’
chair-palanquin, will all de blin’s be down? No one to see me?

MRS. O. Of course not. Who wants to see you? Here, go on and get
dressed! You are wasting time.

                                                         [_Exit_ MRS. O.

MEE. Yes: me wasting time! [_Pulls up blind._] Silly dat!... Nobody
want to see me?... No ... nobody! Oh! run, Mee-Mee! dere’s de worl’
wakin’! [_She opens door and peeps out._] Oh, gleat, big worl’, wake
up!--Mee-Mee say good-bye to you! Oh, de lazy sun, all down dere, you
not come up yet!--Mee-Mee say good-bye to you!... And nex’ time dat
he come, you tell Tiki, you tell Tiki--Mee-Mee gone jus’ ’cause she
couldn’t wait fo’ him--any mo’!... Dat’s all!... You all been velly,
velly nice to me!... Good-bye.

                        [_She shuts the door, draws out phial and stands
                        trembling, facing the thought of death. Crossing
                        the stage she comes on the bridal array
                        left by_ MRS. OLANGTSI.

Oh! pletty, eh? Oh! Say! isn’t dat nice? What?... Quick, quick,
Mee-Mee! [_She begins to robe herself._] Yes, quick! Yes, quick! Yes,
quick! [_Puts on shoes._] Lef’, right, get dem all on! Dere! dat all
right, eh? [_Opens toilet-box and gets out mirror and paints._] Now,
Mee-Mee, you got to make yo’self mos’ beautiful--because to-day, you
say--you _say_ you goin’ to be mallied to Tiki. And dat make you so
glad, dat make you so happy, dat you laugh, an’ laugh, an’ laugh, till
all de tears come into yo’ eyes! You velly silly little gel, you! [_She
dries her eyes and takes up mirror._] Look at yo’self! Hee-hee! [_She
turns the glass about and knocks on the back of it._] Mee-Mee? Mee-Mee?
You round dere? You _round_ dere?... Right _in_ dere? [_Turns it._]
’Course I is!--She in dere all de time! Catch her not? [_She starts
playing bo-peep with herself._] No ... no ... she dere, I say she
dere!... He say once--he say, ‘silly lill’ gel know not’ing ’bout art!’
Ah, ha! Himself he know not’ing, not’ing--_at_ all!... Himself!...
Tiki, dat went away and never come back!

                       [_She produces from hiding-place the shoes which_
                       TIKIPU _left behind_.


    Mee-Mee, Mee-Mee know not where
        He gone. He gone!
    He not here! He not dere!

                    [_She looks into her powder boxes and at the shoes._

    No use looking anywhere!
        He gone!
    Evelly day, sin’ dey say
    He gone an’ not come back,--
    Mee-Mee wait:--still he stay.
    Mee-Mee hope, Mee-Mee pray,
    All Mee-Mee’s hair gone grey!
        Dat’s a fac’!

[_Looks at herself in glass, and continues talking._] Only jus’ now it
don’ show--dat’s all why she can’t see it. [_She puts out light. Within
the house are heard the voices of_ MR. _and_ MRS. OLANGTSI _raised in
altercation, and_ YUNGLANGSTI _crying_, ‘I don’t want to get up! I
won’t get up!’ _As_ MEE-MEE _listens her resolution is formed_.] Don’
you waste time, Mee-Mee!--don’ you waste time! Soon dey come--to take
you away from yo’self. You say not’ing to dat. You only be _here_--let
dem _find_ you here, eh? Let dem see you not belong to dem at all.
You belong ... _all_ ... _to_ ... _yo’self_ ... because Tiki have
fo’gotten you! [_She takes phial of poison from her breast._] Goo’-bye,
Mee-Mee!... Goo’-bye ... goo’....

                        [_While she is speaking the picture glows slowly
                        into life. Under the rays of the lantern_
                        WIOWANI _is discovered seated, benignant of
                        aspect. He plucks three times upon the
                        strings of his guitar. At the third sound_
                        MEE-MEE’S _attention is arrested: she shuffles
                        the poison out of sight and turns her head_.

MEE. [_With childlike curiosity._] H’m?... How you come in dere?


    Years ago, when youth was spent,
    The door was open, so in I went.

MEE. Catch yo’ foot and trip, eh?... Say? is it all velly nice in dere?


    A matter of taste: the view is free;
    You can look for yourself and see.

MEE. [_Doubtfully._] H’m! Is dere any one pletty in dere?


    Pretty’s a word that knows no rule,
    Here we have only the Beautiful.

MEE. H’m!... H’m! ... not _pletty_?

                                             [WIOWANI _shakes his head_.

MEE. [_Very satisfied._] Say?... _Me_ pletty, you no t’ink?


    My eyes have grown too old to see,
    You’re too far off. Come nearer to me!

MEE. [_Advancing by degrees._] Hee-hee!... Hee-hee!... Tsz!


    Nearer. Nearer. Yes, that will do.
    Sit down! I’ve been waiting to talk to you.

MEE. Ya-as ... of course.

                                                  [_She squats on dais._


    Three years I’ve waited, while time has tarried.
    Mee-Mee, when are you going to get married?

MEE. [_Stiffly._] Not goin’ to get mallied.


    Oh, yes, you are! Tell the truth, Mee-Mee!
    Come now!--when is the day to be?

MEE. [_Reluctantly._] Well ... me’d bin hopin’ dey forget.... Dey
not!... Las’ night de Mistless say--‘Mee-Mee!’ (like dat!) ‘you gettin’
yo’self leddy to mally to-mollow--first t’ing?’... [_Her voice begins
to quaver._] Me gettin’ meself leddy _now_.... Plesently she come:
plesently she say--‘You wife, you not lill’ gel any mo’!’

WIO. And then?

MEE. And den? Ah! den me got to die!

WIO. Die? When?

MEE. Me got lill’ bottle of ‘come-wid-me’ in here! Hee-hee, hee-hee!...
Me take it--so: me say to my beautiful new husban’--‘Yo’ health!--yo’
velly good health!’ Den me drink. Den me say--‘How nice!’ Den me die!
Den he lef’ widower.... Oh! poo’ man!


    Oh! he’ll get over it, bit by bit!
    But what will Tikipu say to it?

MEE. Tikipu? Who say ‘Tikipu’? Who say? Who say?


    Oh, yes! It’s all very well for you:
    But what will it mean for Tikipu?

MEE. Not’ing.... He fo’gotten me.

WIO. Oh ho?

MEE. He don’ care fo’ me.

WIO. Oh ho?

MEE. He don’ want me!


    He didn’t, you mean, when he went away?
    When he returns--perhaps he may!

MEE. Ah, say? Ah, say? O gleat big beautiful wise man, you t’ink dat?


    And if he does--then, what about you?
    How can you hope to help Tikipu?

MEE. Ugh! Dat velly easy t’ing, if he really want me.... Me say here
to myself sometimes, ‘Now, t’ink, Mee-Mee, t’ink Tiki come all back
again! T’ink dat you am his wife!... Den he sit like dis, and he paint:
an’ you--just sit-an’-wait! Plesently he paint--_all_ wrong: got to be
closs with somebody--of course! Den he closs wid you! an’ you--jus’
sit-an’-wait! Den he paint _’bominable_: got to beat somebody--beat
you, eh? Den de picture come--_all_ right!... Say, isn’t dat de way?

    De man dat mally _me_--
    Gleat artis’, see?


    Yes, if he understands, maybe.
    Where did you learn all that, Mee-Mee?

MEE. It all inside of me!... Dat kind of t’ing come all of itself--me


    Ah! That’s good! Well, some day _you_
    Will have to teach that to Tikipu.
    When he returns perhaps you’ll find
    Tikipu with an absent mind.
    Wake him tenderly, take him in hand,
    Teach him! Then he will understand....
    There, run along! Yes, go your way;
    Deck yourself out in bridal array,
    Stick gold bodkins into your head,
    Dab your cheeks with patches of red,
    Paint your lips like petals of rose,
    Rub the powder-puff over your nose,
    Play the tricks that you know by heart,
    Colour your eyes, and call it ‘Art.’
    And when you stand, after all is done,
    Crowned like a bride in the sight of the sun,
    Then is your time--call Tikipu!
    And he, if he hears, will come to you!

                                       [WIOWANI _vanishes into picture_.

MEE. [_Quietly surprised._] Say!... Funny picture dat! Mee-Mee, you
been asleep?

MRS. O. [_Within._] Now Mee-Mee! Mee-Mee! Mee-Mee!

MEE. Oh! ya-as!

                    [_She skurries round, collects her toilet-materials,
                    and runs into house. Far away bridal
                    music is heard. Within the picture goes a
                    murmur of soft music._ WIOWANI _reappears,
                    leading_ TIKIPU _by the hand_. TIKIPU _steps
                    out of the picture as one walking in his sleep_.

    WIO. So you have come back to the world again!
    There’s dawn beginning white against the pane.
    What does life look like? Does the dream seem true
    Now you have wakened from it, Tikipu?
    What? Not awake yet? Ah, soon from your brain
    All this dead breath shall melt, as from the pane
    Melts the white frost! Now, if my labour stands,
    Yonder you hold it!--Go and wash your hands!--
    There’s too much paint upon them, and the stain
    Of midnight oils. Catch hold on life again
    Ere it be flown! You know the tale that’s told,
    How to my door an Emperor came of old
    And begged, but would not enter. Fortune’s clown,
    Burdened with power, he durst not lay it down!
    But there’s another tale, that’s yet to tell,
    Of one that came, and--loving peace too well,--
    Would not go out! Indolent and unmoved,
    Gifted with powers, he feared to have them proved!
    Chosen of gods, the gods he chose to cheat,
    And here sat lapped in rest with folded feet,
    A tranquil traitor, careless of his kind.
    Go--get you gone, and leave your dreams behind!
    Nay! What have you done yet to earn the rest
    And peace wherein I dwell? Have your hands blest
    Dull clay, or caused the mouldering dead to wake?
    Have you so starved, and striven, and toiled to make
    Your vision true: and have you failed and tried,
    And failed and found--only to be denied
    And stand at last a mark for all men’s scorn?
    And have you learned that faith is only born
    Out of thick darkness,--hope out of despair,--
    Love out of hate,--and that the world proves fair
    Only through this--the blindness of men’s eyes,
    Whereto all Beauty goes for sacrifice?
    Ah! though I speak with tongues, he understands
    Nothing at all! Go, go and wash your hands
    In life, and live anew!...
    The world awaits you! Good-bye, Tikipu!

                          [TIKIPU _has turned slowly away, gazing at his
                          hands in a daze of grief and humility_.
                          WIOWANI _vanishes into the picture_.

 _Re-enter_ MEE-MEE, _wearing her bridal crown_. TIKIPU _continues to
                              move away_.

MEE. Tiki! Tikipu!

TIKI. Why, Mee-Mee, is that you? What have you come for? It’s ... it’s
very early, isn’t it?... Is any one up? Mee-Mee, what’s the matter? You
are changed! What has happened since yesterday?

MEE. Since yes’day?

TIKI. It was ... it was yesterday, wasn’t it? Mee-Mee,--how long have I
been away?

MEE. For t’ree year, Tiki--t’ree whole year.

TIKI. [_Dumbfounded._] Three y----!

MEE. You ’shamed of yo’self, Tiki, eh? What for you come back now? H’m?
Los’ yo’ way, I suppose!

TIKI. Yes, Mee-Mee, ... it’s strange!... I’ve ... I’ve lost my way!...
Three years! And you are not married yet, Mee-Mee?

MEE. What dat matter to you, Mr. Tiki?... No ... not yet.... P’laps dat
why you come ... to see me--_mallied_!... Well, den,--you jest in time!

TIKI. [_Realising for the first time_ MEE-MEE’S _bridal array_.]
Mee-Mee ... there’s something ... I ... don’t understand.

MEE. Ah ha! So you found dat out!

TIKI. It’s gone! Something’s gone,--something without which I can’t
live! Gone!

MEE. Ah! I know what all de matter! I know! Dere! [_She brings out_
TIKIPU’S _shoes from hiding-place_.] You lef’ yo’ gleat big shoes
behin’! I keep dem quite safe all de time!

                      [_She kneels, taps first one foot, then the other,
                      and puts the shoes on his feet. He still
                      stands dazed._

TIKI. Gone!... Oh! where shall I find help _now_?

MEE. Won’ Mee-Mee do? Won’ Mee-Mee do? [_He stands disregarding her._]
You not want me?... You not want me, Tiki?... Goo’-bye.... I’m going
to be mallied to-day ... yes, to somebody! My Star say to-day, only
to-day! ... ol’ maid if I don’ mally to-day!... Goo’-bye! Ah! Ah!

                      [_She breaks into sudden tremblings and sobbings._
                      TIKIPU _turns and looks at her earnestly:
                      round her as she stands the light gradually
                      grows bright. She stretches her hands
                      pleadingly towards him for the last time._

TIKI. Mee-Mee! Mee-Mee! What have you done to yourself? Don’t look at
me like that! Don’t look at me like that! Your eyes are beautiful,
Mee-Mee! Shut them or I shall go blind!

MEE. Ah! It come! It come! Say, Tiki! you is wantin’ somebody to help

TIKI. My whole life is a want, Mee-Mee! If you come with me you will
lose everything!

MEE. I got not’ing to lose, Tiki.

TIKI. You will be hungry!

MEE. I’ve been hungly for t’ree years, Tiki.

TIKI. Homeless--perhaps!

MEE. I never had a home, Tiki.

TIKI. Friendless!

MEE. Ah ha!

TIKI. Poor!--poorer than the poorest you have known. Look under this
... this robe.... [_Bewildered, he finds that he is wearing a strange
garment._] ... I have only my old rags. And you----

MEE. [_Showing herself._] I jus’ de same!

TIKI. Often I shall neglect you, Mee-Mee: sometimes I may even forget
you! For there is something I love more than you! If you come with
me, it is to help me to find eyes more wonderful than your own, and a
mistress whose bond-slave you also shall be!

MEE. She velly beautiful, Tiki?

TIKI. I have never seen her, Mee-Mee. But in your eyes I find the
reflection of her face!

MEE. Den when I shut dem, you no see her--at all?

TIKI. Open them, Mee-Mee! Open your eyes!... Oh!... Mee-Mee!

                           [_He surrenders himself utterly to her spell.
                           They embrace._

MEE. Tiki ... is you awake?

TIKI. Yes! Awake at last!

MEE. You been asleep for t’ree years, eh? What you been dreaming of,

TIKI. I was dreaming of you--_all the time_!

MEE. Dat true? Ah! What Mee-Mee made for! De man dat mally me--gleat

                          [_As she clings to him, the song of the bridal
                          procession is heard approaching. They start
                          and listen._

STUDENTS. [_Without._]

        Is the lily on the lake?
        Is the bride wide awake?
    Here’s a party come to take her home!
        There’s a cosy bed to make,
        There’s a rosy cake to bake,
    And there’s honey, too, to take from the comb.

MEE. Now dey comin’ fo’ me!

TIKI. They shan’t have you, Mee-Mee! Quick, let us go!

                                           [_Knocking is heard without._

MEE. No, no ... it too late now!... Go, hidee, Tiki, go hidee!

TIKI. In here!

                                                [_They run into pantry._

                          [_Enter_ STUDENTS _and_ APPRENTICES, _followed
                          by bearers with hooded palanquin, which is set
                          down, propped on stools, in the centre of the


        Oh, who will go inside?
        Oh, who will bring the bride,
    For the knot to be tied as it ought?
        Give a rat-tat-tat-tat-tat!
        If she doesn’t come for that,
    Then the naughty little cat must be caught!
        Phit! Phat! Miaow! Phit! Phat! Miaow!
    Then the naughty little cat must be caught!

NEW. Well, and which of all the blushing doors is the right one?

LIL. That’s the one!

HITI. Tee-Pee, you and I are the adopted relatives: we’ve got to defend

                            [_Takes up attitude of defence before door._


    Scarecrows avaunt!
    I say ye shan’t
    Intrude! It’s rude
      And most improper!


    Robbers, beware!
    This damsel fair
    Who steals,--by heels
      He comes a cropper.

                      [_Plants his foot in_ LILONG’S _stomach and floors

LIL. [_From floor._]

    Oh, put aside
    Your family pride!
    Our suit denied
    Deride no more!


    Let her decide
    With us to ride!


    Come bride, bride, bride!
      Undo the door!...

    Bride! come along, bride! Door, door, door!

NAU. Why, she hasn’t locked it!

NEW. Laws of Confucius! What a fuss all about nothing!

                                            [_They advance to the door._

LIL. Take care! She’ll scratch you! She’s waiting behind the door!

HAN. Fetch her out! Nau-Tee, fetch her out!

                          [_He pushes_ NAU-TEE _into the inner chamber_.

HITI. Have his blood, Mee-Mee! Have his blood!

NAU. Why, she isn’t here at all!

HITI. Her feet have beat a modest retreat!

TEE. You’d better have proof she is not in the roof!

                                                     [_They all run in._

STUDENTS. [_Within._]

    In the roof? Fetch her out.
    Oh, there isn’t a doubt
    She is somewhere about!

                                     [_Quick ascent of ladder is heard._

        We are looking for proof
        That she’s not in the roof.
    (Sing the catch of the cat and the mouse!)
        If she isn’t up there,
        Why then, I declare,
    She is hiding herself in the house.

                   [_Meanwhile_ TIKIPU _and_ MEE-MEE _have been
                   trying to steal to the street door: as each
                   attempt fails they retreat precipitately. Immediately
                   on exit of_ STUDENTS, MEE-MEE
                   _runs across to the door, reverses the key, and
                   locks it from the outside_.

MEE. Now, Tiki, quick, quick, quick!

                              [_She throws off bride-dress on to floor._

TIKI. They are coming back, Mee-Mee!

MEE. No--not yet! Silly man--make me do it all! How you able to run and
hide in all dis? [_She pulls off his robe, uncovering the certificate
which hangs down his back._] Oh! Tiki, dat what you stole? [TIKIPU
_takes it and stares astonished, presently his wonder changes to
laughter_.] Tiki! don’ laugh like dat! You wastin’ time!


    Oh! now I know what I have done!
    I’m a thief, Mee-Mee! I must run!
    Poor Yunglangtsi! There, let it stay!
    I’m a much bigger thief to-day:
    I’m stealing _you_!

                          [_Knocking at inner door._ TIKIPU _throws open
                          the street door: the warm hues of dawn
                          stream in_.


    Dawn, Mee-Mee, dawn! Look how the hands of light
    Reach up and lift the covering cowl of night
    From the blush-blinded eyes of Heaven! And she,
    Heart-woken, and warm-footed o’er the sea,
    Her face a fountain of desires long stored,
    Goes kindling to the arms of her great lord!
    And lo! he comes rejoicing, and flings gold,
    Till all the earth is with his joy enrolled:
    And every life a mote in his glad beams
    Melts forth to meet him, and, where’er light streams,
    Dance till it drowns! Ah, look! The sun, the sun! [_Knocking._
    Shall we go, Mee-Mee?

MEE. Yes! I go! I run!

                            [_They run off, holding hands and laughing._

NAU. [_Within._] Look here, New-Lyn, I say! She’s locked us in. Go
round the other way.

                           [_By the stairs_ STUDENTS _and_ BEARERS _come
                           running just as the door falls, broken from
                           its hinges_.


    Oh, Boobies sublime!
    She was here all the time!
    She was hiding in here;
    And it didn’t occur
    To any one’s mind
    That we’d left her behind!


    O muddle-heads, fuddle-heads, go and kow-tow
    To the cunning of woman!

PEE. She isn’t here now!

NAU. Oh, but I say!

LIL. D’you think she’s run?

NEW. If she has--we’re _done_!

ALL. We shall get no pay!

_Enter_ MR. _and_ MRS. OLANGTSI.

MRS. O. What’s all this about? Who’s done that?

                                               [_Points to broken door._

LIL. That was Mee-Mee; she fought like a cat!

NEW. With the kick of her heels she smashed the door!

TEE. She threw the palanquin down on the floor!

HITI. She rent to rags her bridal array!

HAN. She took off her crown and she threw it away!

LIL. Her hair stood up like a chevaux-de-frise!

NAU. She knocked us head over heels with ease!

NEW. She pulled our pigtails, tore our clothes!

PEE. Her mouth was full of horrible oaths!

TEE. She deafened our ears with dreadful cries!

HAN. She bit off our buttons and scratched our eyes!

HITI. She trod on our toes, she wrenched our thumbs!

NAU. She beat our bodies about like drums.

 TEE. }            {’Tis a story that needs no heightening--
 HAN. }            {Having given us such a frightening--
 HITI.} And then-- {With her witch-like eyes all whitening--
 LIL. }            {In a flash, with raiment brightening--
 PEE. }            {On our hearts the terror tightening--

ALL. She vanished away like a flash of lightning!

MRS. O. [_With contemptuous incredulity._] Pah! where is she?

                                   [MRS. OLANGTSI _advances on them with
                                   threatening gesture. They grovel._

STUDENTS. She.... Oh, she locked us in! It wasn’t fair! Now was it? It
wasn’t what we’d expected. We don’t know where she is! We haven’t seen

             _Enter, running_, JOSI-MOSI _and_ COSI-MOSI.

JOSI. Where’sh Mee-Mee?

MRS. O. That’s what _I_ want to know.

                                     [HITI-TITI _picks up poison-phial_.

HITI. What’s this?

JOSI. [_To_ COSI.] Ah! She’sh not done it!

MRS. O. Done what?

JOSI. She wash going to poishon hershelf, you shilly woman!

COSI. What’s all dis mean?

                                       [_Points to bridal preparations._

       _Enter_ YUNGLANGTSI _gorgeously arrayed as a bridegroom_.

Where’sh my shecurity? [_Furiously._] You were going to rob me, were
you? You were going to steal a march on me!

HAN. Yes, a wedding march!

                                             [_Pointing to_ YUNGLANGTSI.

COSI. My money. My money! Give me my money, or I sell you!

MRS. O. You shan’t have your money! You’ve stolen the girl
yourself--you know you have!

OLANG. Yes, they have stolen her! I can see it in their faces! Thieves!

MRS. O. They’ve taken her!

COSI. I have not!

MRS. O. She was here ten minutes ago!

COSI. [_Losing all control._] And if I _had_ taken her--I had a right
to take her! She was my property! Yes, yes! What right had you to be
marrying her to any one? Dat was shtealing, dat was!

MRS. O. You should have thought of that before!

COSI. I’ll sell you! I’ll sell you still! Dere’s de picture, and de

                  [_At the word ‘picture’_ OLANGTSI _shows perturbation;
                  at the word ‘furniture’_ MRS.

OLANG. No, no! You mustn’t take the picture! That’s mine. Give me time,
and I’ll pay!

COSI. Time? Time? I’ll show you what _time_ is! Here!--you dere
outside--in wid you!

                           _Enter_ BAILIFFS.

You see dat man? Well, he is a signed-on bankrupt; he is on contract to
be sold!

OLANG. You cannot!

COSI. Oh yes! Dis says ‘On demand.’ [_He shows document._] Where is de

MRS. O. You’ve taken her!

COSI. You do not deliver her--den I sell you!

                             [YUNGLANGTSI, _who has been wandering heavy
                             and indifferent from group to group, comes
                             suddenly on his certificate with a cry of

YUNG. Ah!!! [_All turn astonished._] Oh! my--my beautiful certificate!
Mother! My certificate has come back again!

OLANG. Ah, Tikipu has been here! He has come back to rob me! Where is

COSI. [_To_ BAILIFFS.] Dere’s de warrant to date. Clear dem out! Go and
call de folk in from de street!

                               [BAILIFFS _enter house. One goes into the
                               street with gong and clappers._

YUNG. Oh, mother! Now I needn’t marry Mee-Mee at all, need I? Now I can
be a grocer again? Oh!

                               [_He weeps for joy, and sits fondling the

OLANG. You lout, you! You dreg, you sediment! Get up!

                           [_Kicks him._ YUNGLANGTSI _stays lost in the
                           rapture of his discovery. In the street the_
                           CRIER _is heard crying the sale_. APPRENTICES
                           _and_ CRAFTSMEN _crowd round_ MR. _and_ MRS.
                           OLANGTSI. _Holding out their hands to be
                           paid, they follow them about._

COSI. Josi, you know how to sell pictures at auction?

JOSI. Shell dem? Dat depends.

COSI. On de picture?

JOSI. No; on what you pay me. At ten per shent I can shell pictures

COSI. Give you five.

JOSI. Make it----

COSI. Five.

                                                 [_Turns away from him._

JOSI. Very well; give me de warrant. [_Cosi gives it._] I shall shell
it less handsomely, dat’sh all!... Yesh, dish shale is going to be an
alarming shacrifice, Coshi.... Five per shent!

CRIER. [_Nearer._] A sale! A sale! A sale!

JOSI. Yesh! A shale! Cry it louder!... Great shale of pictures, old
furniture, and rattle-traps! Change of business! Amazing bargains!
Alarming reductions! Heart-rending sacrifice,--at five per shent! Walk
up, walk up, and shee de great shale dat is about to commence!

                       [_Meanwhile the_ BAILIFFS _are carrying out the
                       furniture_. MRS. OLANGTSI _falls upon them,
                       and beats them: she is hustled back, only to
                       return to the charge_. YUNGLANGTSI _sits
                       absorbed in the joy of his recovered certificate.
                       Townsfolk crowd in, to a final flourish
                       of the gong._

COSI. Now den, Josi, begin!

JOSI. Lot number 1. Dis is a picture, gentlemen,--some of you may not
know it, but it is a picture.... It is a shelebrated picture; you might
not dink so, but it is shelebrated.... It is a picture wid a shtory
attached to it; dat makes it an intereshting picture. [_Interruption._]
What did de gentleman shay?... Quite right; noding else would. As
dish is a warrant shale to shatisfy an order of claims it ish not my
business to shay anything more dan de truth. It ish my own broder I am
shelling dish picture for [_consternation of_ COSI]; dat’sh why I only
take five per shent commission;--my usual charge ish ten. Yesh, Cosi,
I’m your broder; I’ve got a shabby coat, but you’ve got a shabby shoul!

                        [_Uproarious amusement among the crowd at_
                        JOSI’S _revelation of relationship; Cosi becomes
                        the butt of jeers and laughter_.

COSI. You give me back dat warrant!

JOSI. Not for ten per shent, broder Coshi!

ALL. Broder Coshi!

COSI. Ah! you shall pay for this! You see! Here, let me go!

                           [_Unable to endure the ridicule and exposure,
                           he pushes his way out._

JOSI. [_Raising his voice in victorious derision._] Going--going--at
five per shent! Dat’sh right. Now den, business! Any offer?... Don’t
be in a hurry, gentlemen ... take your time! De picture is not going
to run away: you can examine it, gentlemen, and shee dat dere is
no deception. If dere ever wash any deception it was dree hundred
years ago, when de man who painted it ran away from his creditors
and pretended dat he had gone into de picture. Dere’sh de shtory for
you--all complete.... Well? What offer? Won’t anybody make any offer?

                          [OLANGSTI _pushes forward to bid_; APPRENTICES
                          _and_ CRAFTSMEN _surround him,
                          and hold out their hands, demanding money_.

CRIER. [_Without._] Only ten sen! Only ten sen! Any buy?

JOSI. Ten sen? Somebody offers ten sen. I presume dat he means ten yen?
We’ll call it ten yen: de picture’s worth it.

CRIER. [_Without._] Only ten sen! Only ten sen!

JOSI. Very well, ten sen! Going at ten sen! Going at ten sen! A picture
dat ish dree hundred years old and still going strong! Now is your
chance! Dish will not happen again.

OLANG. Ah! ah! ah!

                         [_At the word ‘going’ the picture comes dimly
                         to life. In a veiled indistinctness_ WIOWANI
                         _is seen seated within it_. OLANGSTI _sees, and
                         lifting his hands wails despairingly. The
                         crowd stares, stolidly amazed._

CRIER. [_Without._] Only ten sen! Only ten sen!

JOSI. Well?... What for you shtaring at me? _I_ am not de picture!
_Dere_ is de picture: a beautiful picture dat shpeaks for itshelf! A
_real_ picture,--wid a shtory in it dat may always come true. What?
Will nobody give any more? Very well. At ten sen!--for dish time
only--going at ten sen! Going, going.... [_He turns._] Gone!!!

                                                [_The picture vanishes._


           _Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_.

                          Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation errors have been corrected.

Page 23: “Mrs. Olangsti” changed to “Mrs. Olangtsi”


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