Floyd Dell Monologues

Sweet and Twenty (She)

She says

Have you heard the story of the people who used to live here?

The agent was telling us. It’s quite romantic–and rather sad.

You see, the man that built this house was in love with a girl. He was building it for her–as a surprise. But he had neglected to mention to her that he was in love with her. And so, in pique, she married another man, though she was really in love with him. The news came just when he had finished the house.

He shut it up for a year or two, but eventually married some one else, and they lived I here for ten years–most unhappily. Then they went abroad, and the house was sold. It was bought, curiously enough, the husband of the girl he had been in love with.

They lived here till they died-hating each other to the end, the agent says.

Enigma (She)

She says

No -it happened to me. It didn’t happen to you. You made up your mind and walked in, with the air of a god on a holiday. It was I who fell -headlong, dizzy, blind. I didn’t want to love you. It was a force too strong for me. It swept me into your arms. I prayed against it. I had to give myself to you, even though I knew you hardly cared. I had to -for my heart was no longer in my own breast. It was in your hands, to do what you liked with. You could have thrown it in the dust. It pleased you not to. You put it in your pocket. But don’t you realize what it is to feel that another person has absolute power over you? No, for you have never felt that way. You have never been utterly dependent on another person for happiness. I was utterly dependent on you. It humiliated me, angered me. I rebelled against it, but it was no use. You see, my dear, I was in love with you. And you were free, and your heart was your own, and nobody could hurt you.

The Angel Intrudes (Jimmy)

Jimmy says

Don’t let her do it! Fool! You don’t know what you are doing. Listen to me! You think that she is wonderful – superior -divine. It is only natural. There are moments when I have thought so myself. But I know why I thought so, and you have yet to learn. Keep your wings, my friend, against the day of your awakening – the day when the glamour of sex has vanished, and you see in her, as you will see, an inferior being, with a weak body, a stunted mind, devoid of creative power, almost devoid of imagination, utterly lacking in critical capacity -a being who does not know how to work, nor how to talk, nor even how to play!

Sweet and Twenty (The Agent)

The Agent says

Marriage, my young friends, is an iniquitous arrangement devised the Devil himself for driving all the love out of the hearts of lovers. They start out as much in love with each other as you two are today, and they end being as sick of the sight of each other as you two will be five years hence if I don’t find a way of saving you alive out of the Devil’s own trap. It’s not lack of love that’s the trouble with marriage -it’s marriage itself. And when I say marriage, I don’t mean promising to love, honour, and obey, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health till death do you part -that’s only human nature to wish and to attempt. And it might be done if it weren’t for the iniquitous arrangement of marriage.

Sweet and Twenty (He)

He says

Because you have changed the world for me. It’s as though I had been groping about in the dark, and then–sunrise! And there’s a queer feeling here.

(He puts his hand on his heart.)

To tell the honest truth, there’s a still queerer feeling in the pit of my stomach.

It’s a gone feeling, if you must know.

And my knees are weak.

I know now why men used to fall on their knees when they told a girl they loved her; it was because they couldn’t stand up. And there’s a feeling in my feet as though I were walking on air. And–And I could die for you and be glad of the chance.

It’s perfectly absurd, but it’s absolutely true.

I’ve never spoken to you before, and heaven knows I may never get a chance to speak to you again, but I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t say this to you now.

I love you! love you! love you!

Now tell me I’m a fool. Tell me to go. Anything–I’ve said my say. . . . Why don’t you speak?

Sweet and Twenty (She)

She says

I’ve been upstairs and down for two hours.

That family portrait gallery finished me.

It was so old and gloomy and dead that I felt as if I were dead myself.

I just had to do something. I wanted to jab my parasol through the window-pane.

I understood just how the suffragettes felt.

But I was afraid of shocking the agent.

He is such a meek little man, and he seemed to think so well of me. If I had broken the window I would have shattered his ideals of womanhood, too, I’m afraid.

So I just slipped away quietly and came here. Do you like family portraits?

I hate ’em! They’ve been bequeathed to some museum, I am told.

They’re valuable historically–early colonial governors and all that sort of stuff.

But there is some one with me who–who takes a deep interest in such things.

Poor Harold! (Harold)

Harold says

Incriminating? How can you ask that, Isabel? They were perfectly innocent letters, such as any gentleman poet might write to any lady poetess. How was I to know that a rather plain-featured woman I sat next to at a Poetry Dinner in Chicago was conducting a dozen love-affairs? How was I to know that my expressions of literary regard would look like love-letters to her long-suffering husband? That’s the irony of it: I’m perfectly blameless. God knows I couldn’t have been anything else, with her. But I’ve always been blameless -in all the seven years of my marriage, I never even kissed another woman. And then to have this happen! Scandal, disgrace, the talk of all Evanston! Disowned my father, repudiated my wife, ostracized my friends, cast forth into outer darkness, and dropped naked and penniless into Greenwich Village!

Poor Harold! (Mrs. Murphy)

Mrs. Murphy says

It’s too soft you are, that’s why. You take no for an answer, as a girl shouldn’t. Let you keep at him long enough, and he’ll give in. Sure the youth of this generation have no regard for their proper rights. Never was a man yet that couldn’t be come around, if he was taken in his weakness. A silk dress or a wedding ring or shoes for the baby, it’s all the same -they have to be coaxed twice for every one thing they do. It’s the nature of the beast, so it is, God help us. Well I remember how my sister that’s dead in Ireland used to say, and we girls together, “Sure,” says she, “it’s woman’s place to ask,” says she, “and man’s to refuse,” says she, “and woman’s to ask again,” says she. Widow that I am this ten year, I could tell you some things now – but I’ll not be sayin’ a word.

Legend (He)

He says

“No.” “No.” “No.” How did your lips learn to say that word so easily? They are not made to say such a word. They are too young, too red, to say “No” to Life. When you say that word, the world grows black. The stars go out, the leaves wither, the heart stops beating. It is a word that kills. It is the word of Death. Dare you say it again? Answer me, do we love each other? . . . And tears. Tears are a slave’s answer. Speak. Defend yourself. Why do you stay here? Why do you deny yourself happiness? Why won’t you come with me? Always the same phrase that means nothing. Ah, Violante, lady of few words, you know how to baffle argument. If I could only make you speak! If I could only see what the thoughts are that darken your will!

King Arthur’s Socks (Guenevere)

Guenevere says

Well, do you still want to kiss me?–Think what you are saying, Lancelot, for I may let you. And that kiss may be the beginning of the catastrophe.

(She moves toward him)

Do you want a kiss that brings with it grief and fear and danger and heartbreak? If you had believed, for one moment, that it was worth the price of grief and heartbreak, I should have believed it too, and kissed you, and not cared what happened. I should have risked the love of my husband and the happiness of your sweetheart without a qualm. And who knows? It might have been worth it. An hour from now I shall be sure it wasn’t; I shall be sure it was all blind, wicked folly. But now I am a little sorry. I wanted to gamble with fate. I wanted us to stake our two lives recklessly upon a kiss–and see what happened. And you couldn’t. It wasn’t a moment of beauty and terror to you. You didn’t want to challenge fate. You just wanted to kiss me…. Go!