It Pays to Advertise by Bill Ayer
This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent
ACT ONE New York City 1914, seven PM
CYRUS MARTIN RESIDENCE
LIGHTS FADE UP: RUBY GRAYSON 30, independent, ambitious, intelligent and more than capable, is seated at typewriter, wearing sleeve protectors, humming a turkey trot, strumming the keys, keeping time with one-ﬁnger accompaniment
JOHNSON enters UL, typical English Butler, elderly with stoop, moves slowly
JOHNSON: I beg pardon, Miss Grayson.
RUBY: What is it, Johnson? Has young Mr Martin come in yet?
JOHNSON: No, Miss. Mr Ambrose Peale is here again to see Mr Martin Junior, he’s called four times.
RUBY: You told him that Mr Martin is not available?
JOHNSON: Yes, Miss, four times. There’s a lady waiting, too, to see Mr Martin Senior. Here’s her card.
RUBY: (reading) Mmmm. ‘Lah Contesse de Beau-reen’. Tell her that Mr Martin Senior can see no one.
JOHNSON: I can’t tell her anything, Miss.
RUBY: Don’t let her title get it over you.
JOHNSON: She doesn’t comprehend anything I say. So terribly French.
RUBY: Bring her in then. (takes off sleeve protectors) But, Johnson, let me know the minute young Mr Martin comes home.
JOHNSON: Yes, Miss.
JOHNSON exits door UL RUBY rises, smooths out her skirt JOHNSON enters door UL
JOHNSON: Countess dee Bowreen.
COUNTESS 30s, enters, carries a parasol, wears gloves and pre-WW1 broad brimmed hat (using the brim to effect), smart looking, international French manner, uninhibited, intriguing; not a word of English (speaks French sufficiently to fool the other characters)
JOHNSON exits UL
RUBY: (to COUNTESS) How do you do?
COUNTESS, accustomed to being waited on, waits RUBY, accustomed to taking the lead, waits
RUBY: (finally) May I help you?
COUNTESS: Mam’selle Marteeen?
RUBY: No, I’m Miss Grayson, Mr Martin’s secretary.
COUNTESS: (blankly) Sec-ree-taree?
RUBY: I’m sorry, Mr Martin is conﬁned indoors with a severe attack of gout. Gout, you see. (demonstrates pain in foot) While he is ill, I come here to his home office, you see. (advancing to her) If you write a message -- mesh-arge -- I will see that he gets it.
COUNTESS: Mess-harge? Par-don, mais je ne comprends pas -- je ne parle pas l’anglais. Vous parlez Francais peut étre?
RUBY: (blankly) Mr Martin is ill --
COUNTESS: Je répéte que je ne parle pas anglais. Mr Martin est-i1 ici?
RUBY: It’s quite useless --
COUNTESS: Un instant, Marm'selle (plus lentement), je voudrais parler à M. Martin. Je suis riche. Je veux l'agence de savon Martin pour la France. Je paierai cinquante mille francs. Dites ceci à M. Martin s'il vous plaît.
RUBY: (slowly, raises voice) Mr Martin is -- sick!
COUNTESS (sits in chair L of desk) Mon Dieu.
RUBY: There’s no use sitting down.
COUNTESS: C’est bien, mam’selle; je ne suis pas pressée.
RUBY: (waves her hands) You go --
COUNTESS: Ah, laissez - moi donc tranquille - vous m’embétez.
RUBY: (sweeping gestures) Mr Martin is out -- out.
COUNTESS: (marked accent) Out?
RUBY: (nodding) Wee.
COUNTESS: (rapidly) Oui? Ah vous parlez Francais? Je voudrais savoir Si Mr Martin est ici.
RUBY: Heavens, she’s off again. (calling) Johnson!
JOHNSON enters immediately UL
RUBY: let’s act it out for her, um -- (she points to JOHNSON) That is Mr Martin.
RUBY: We’re pretending that -- that is Mr Martin.
JOHNSON straightens up somewhat, to look younger
COUNTESS: (shaking head) Ah, non, ca ce n’est pas M Martin.
RUBY: We’re pretending -- see, pre-ten-ding? Now, you see -- Mr Mar-tin is out -- watch him.
RUBY shoos JOHNSON out, he exits UL
COUNTESS: Ah, Mr Martin n’est pas icil Je comprends.
RUBY: (to herself) Wah-lah! She understands. (calls) Johnson!
JOHNSON enters UL immediately
RUBY: Take her by the arm and lead her out.
JOHNSON: (starting, as COUNTESS rises) Yes, Miss.
COUNTESS: Attendez! A quelle heure M. Martin rentrera-t-il?
JOHNSON: You’d better come quietly, Miss. (takes her by the arm) We must not exert ourselves, must we? That’s not good for us, is it?
COUNTESS: A quelle heure rentrera-t-il?
RUBY: (nods) Goodbye.
COUNTESS goes US, with JOHNSON in tow, starts to exit UL
RUBY: (to herself) Goodness, she’s going.
COUNTESS turns suddenly at the door, unbalancing JOHNSON, who staggers sideways before correcting and staggers back toward COUNTESS, like on board ship in rough weather
COUNTESS: Merci bien je m’en vais Inaintenant, Au revoir.
RUBY: That I understand. Au revoir -- au revoir --
JOHNSON steadies himself, stands by for duty
COUNTESS: (going) Merci—merci—bonsoir—bonsoir—
COUNTESS exits door UL, without JOHNSON
RUBY: Don’t let her in here again, without an interpreter.
JOHNSON: Very good, Miss.
JOHNSON sways, as he starts to exit door UL He stops, collects himself, turns to RUBY
JOHNSON: Oh, Miss, Mr Martin Junior, uh -- He’ll be here directly. (looks at door R) He might already, uh --
RUBY: (primps, watches door R) Thank you, Johnson.
JOHNSON, satisfied, exits UL NOISES OFF:RUBY hears some movement at door R, so busily bangs away at typewriter
SPENCER Martin 30, enters door R, quaint, frank charm, not brainless, but undeveloped by reason of the life he has led, and has been led for him; circular with no end in sight, backslapping, useless upbringing, though he speaks some French
SPENCER: (smitten) Miss Grayson!
RUBY’S previous businesslike air disappears, and she assumes the ﬂuttering airs of a timid ingénue, overdoing it for anyone, except a boy madly in love with her
RUBY: What a surprise!
SPENCER goes swiftly to door L, locks it with a key
RUBY: Why, Mr Martin, what are you doing?
SPENCER: (moves to her) Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, will you marry me?
RUBY: Why, really, Mr Martin --
SPENCER: You love me, don’t you? Call me Spencer.
RUBY: I -- I don’t know what to say.
SPENCER: Say ‘yes, Spencer’.
RUBY: (as shy as she can be) Oh, dear, I --
SPENCER: (tries to grab her) You angel!
RUBY: (eluding him) Wait!
SPENCER: We’ll be married right away.
RUBY: But suppose your father disapproves?
SPENCER: He won’t know about it, until after the fact.
RUBY: He might cut you off.
SPENCER: Would you care?
RUBY: I? (slight deep-thought pause) No, no. I was thinking of you.
SPENCER: Never mind me. We’ll marry tomorrow; today, now!
RUBY: That wouldn’t be square. Your father has brought me here to his home while he recovers, and then to ﬁnd that I’d married his son on the sly.
SPENCER: Sounds rather bad, I wouldn’t want to give Father the worst of it. I’ll tell him -- in a week or so.
RUBY: You could go into business, make a big man of yourself.
SPENCER: You talk just like the heroine in a play I saw. She wanted the hero to go to work. He did! And then for four acts everybody suffered.
RUBY: Don’t you want to work?
SPENCER: To work? I should say not. Imagine going to bed every night, knowing you have to get up in the morning to go to work. Someone would have to shake me awake.
RUBY: It could make you very happy, if you had a job.
SPENCER: Don’t talk like Father. He’s made millions out of soap, yet complains he’s worked fourteen hours a day for thirty years, has never known what ‘fun’ was, and that it’s all made him old before his time. I can’t see the sense of following an example like that, I really can’t. He’s got enough money for you, me, and our children. Yes, and our children’s grandchildren. Why even talk of money, with so much of it all over the place? Come, kiss me, my darling.
SPENCER leans forward, puckering
RUBY deftly moves away
RUBY: No, not till you’ve spoken to your father.
SPENCER: We can’t kiss till then?
SPENCER: And we can, after I do?
RUBY: All right.
SPENCER: (goes to door L) Then I’ll tell him right away.
RUBY: And don’t be afraid.
SPENCER: (stops cold) Afraid! (pause) Er -- Why should I be afraid?
Violent OFFSTAGE knocks at door L
SPENCER jumps in fear
MARTIN OFF: (yells loudly) ARRGH! Locked?! Open the door!
SPENCER: Coming, Father, coming.
SPENCER goes, unlocks door L with key MARTIN 60, enters, protective of his foot, an intimidating man of business with all the answers he thinks, and powers of concentration, until diversion gives him the wobbles
MARTIN: (loudly) Oww! Why was that door locked?
SPENCER: Was it locked?
MARTIN: You just unlocked it.
RUBY has gone to her typewriter, begins typing MARTIN limps to a chair by the table
MARTIN: Stop that noise.
RUBY: Yes, sir.
SPENCER: Are you ... in great pain?
MARTIN: Not at all, it’s the latest fashion!
SPENCER: I hope you get over it.
MARTIN: No, I’m a fool for fashion. How much do you want?
SPENCER: Want? Why, nothing, Father.
MARTIN: The answer is, not a nickel. You want something, that’s certain.
SPENCER: Why do you say that?
MARTIN: I know you, and whatever it is, you can’t have it.
SPENCER turns appealingly to RUBY, she ignores him he turns back to his father, tries to muster up courage
SPENCER: (clears throat) Well, now that you mention it --
MARTIN: Miss Grayson.
RUBY: Yes, sir?
MARTIN: Get out.
RUBY rises, exits door UL, without noticing SPENCER, who looks after her dejectedly
MARTIN: What do you mean by overdrawing your allowance again?
SPENCER: That proves I was right, I told you my allowance was too small.
SPENCER: If it’s too small for one, it’s too small for two.
MARTIN: For two?
SPENCER: Father, has it ever occurred to you that I might one day, uh -- marry?
MARTIN: Of course, you’re fool enough for any foxy female.
SPENCER: I don’t consider this female foxy or foolish.
MARTIN: That’s because you’ve never tried it. You haven’t tried anything.
SPENCER: I intend to -- give it a whirl.
MARTIN: With a girl?
SPENCER: A girl?
MARTIN: Yes, girl. Unless you prefer a polo pony, or a chim- pan-zee, you’re going to marry a girl, aren’t you? Some big-eyed, doll-faced, gurgling, ﬂuttering little fool. Oh, why doesn’t God give young men some sense about women?
SPENCER: Not one gurgle from Miss Grayson. She is the --
MARTIN: Miss Grayson? Miss Grayson? You’re going to marry a typewriter?
SPENCER: Yes, sir.
MARTIN: You can’t type! Uh -- I mean, does she know?
SPENCER: Yes, sir.
MARTIN: Yes, sir, she knows a good thing. I won’t permit any such marriage. Thank Heaven, you did not elope.
SPENCER: I wanted to, but she wouldn’t. She insisted on your being told, so you see what an injustice has been --
MARTIN: Injustice? Can’t you see that she wants me to know, so that if I cut you off, she can wriggle out of it, and would not be stuck with a good-for-nothing, penniless Layabout?
SPENCER: (starts to go) Oh, it’s quite useless.
MARTIN: No, my boy, one moment.
MARTIN presses button for BUZZER SOUND JOHNSON enters door UL
JOHNSON: Yes, sir?
MARTIN: Ask Miss Grayson to come in.
JOHNSON: Yes, sir.
JOHNSON exits UL RUBY enters UL immediately (like a revolving door)
RUBY: You wanted me, Mr Martin?
SPENCER: (automatically) Ruby, my love!
MARTIN: Wait a minute, Romeo. Now look here, Miss Grayson. My son informs me that you and he intend to marry.
RUBY: Oh, sir --
MARTIN: And I’m informing you, that if you marry, he doesn’t get one penny of my money. That means he’ll starve.
RUBY: Then, we can starve together.
MARTIN: Making a grandstand play, eh? You think I’m some sort of Proud Pappy? Well, you’re wrong.
SPENCER: As long as we’re together, we won’t starve.
MARTIN: Really? What can you do? You’re not a producer, you haven’t got the grit. That’s what you need. Grit! You couldn’t earn ﬁve dimes a week. You’ll leave my house tonight, or I’ll have you thrown out.
SPENCER: Now, Father --
MARTIN: Not another word, sir, not another word.
MARTIN kicks chair, curses, limps, exits door L
SPENCER: (to RUBY) This is getting more like that four act play every minute. Let the suffering begin.
RUBY: Oh, Spencer, what have I done?
SPENCER: You haven’t done anything, Father did it all. You were bully the way you stuck up for me. When you said we’d starve together, I just choked up.
RUBY: Please don’t, Spencer.
SPENCER: No, no more choking for me. Just because he’s got a lot of money, he thinks that -- I don’t know what -- but I’ll show him. I must get -- thinking. Yes, that’s it! Think, and get, you know, ideas! An idea can take you places.
RUBY: What places?
SPENCER: Work places.
RUBY: Work! Are you --?
SPENCER: Not for Father, for you.
RUBY: Will you get a position?
SPENCER: I should say not. No, I’m going into business for myself. For you. I’m going to show the stuff that’s in me.
RUBY: About time it came out.
SPENCER: Of course, we can’t get married till I’ve made good. Will you wait?
RUBY: Yes, dear.
SPENCER: You’re a dandy. It may take a couple of weeks.
RUBY: What business are you going in?
SPENCER: I don’t know yet. I’m going to pack a portmanteau and ponder. I’ll be back in ﬁfteen minutes.
SPENCER grabs hold of RUBY, and kisses her hastily, but heartily
RUBY: Oh, oh -- please --
SPENCER: Never mind. You’ll get used to ’em; lots of ‘em.
[End of Extract]