Gibson Upright

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1. Act I



Andrew Gibson's office in his piano factory where he manufactures "The Gibson Upright." A very plain interior; pleasant to the eye, yet distinctly an office in a factory, and without luxuries; altogether utilitarian.

Against the wall on our right is a roll-top desk, open, very neat, and in the centre of the writing pad a fresh rose stands in a glass of water. Near by is a long, plain table and upon it a very neat arrangement of correspondence and a couple of ledgers.

Against the walls are a dozen plain cane-seated chairs. Near the centre of the room is a sample of the Gibson upright piano in light wood. There is a large safe, showing the word "Gibson," and there are filing cases. In the rear wall there is a door with the upper half of opaque glass, which shows "Mr. Gibson" in reverse; and near this door is a water filter upon a stand. In the wall upon our left is a plain wooden door. The rear door opens into the factory; the other into a hall that leads to the street.

Upon the walls are several posters, one showing "The Gibson Upright"—a happy family, including children and a grandparent, exclaiming with joy at sight of this instrument. Another shows a concert singer singing widely beside "The Gibson Upright," with an accompanist seated. Another shows a semi-colossal millionaire, and a workingman of similar size in paper cap and apron, shaking hands across "The Gibson Upright," and, printed: "$188.00—The Price for the Millionaire, the Same for Plain John Smith—$188.00." This poster and the others all show the slogan: "How Cheap, BUT How Good!"

Nothing is new in this room, but everything is clean and accurately in order. The arrangement is symmetrical.

As the curtain rises Nora Gorodna is seen at work on the sample "Gibson Upright." The front is not removed; but through the top of the piano she is adjusting something with a small wrench. Nora is a fine-looking young woman, not over twenty-six; she wears a plain smock over a dark dress. As she is a piano tester in the factory she is dressed neither so roughly as a working woman nor perhaps so fashionably as a stenographer. She is serious and somewhat preoccupied. From somewhere come the sounds of several pianos being tuned. After a moment Nora goes thoughtfully to the desk and looks at the rose in the glass; then lifts the glass as if to inhale the odour of the rose, but abruptly alters her decision and sets the glass down without doing so. She returns quickly and decisively to her work at the piano, as if she had made a determination.

A bell at the door on our left rings. Nora goes to the door and opens it.

Nora: Good morning, Mr. Mifflin.

Mifflin [entering]: Good morning, Miss Gorodna.

[Mifflin is a beaming man of forty, with gold-rimmed eyeglasses and a somewhat grizzled beard which has been, a week or so ago, a neatly trimmed Vandyke. He wears a "cutaway suit," not much pressed, not new; a derby hat, a standing collar, and a "four-in-hand" dark tie; hard, round cuffs, not link cuffs. He carries a folded umbrella, not a fashionable one; wears no gloves; and has two or three old magazines and a newspaper under his arm.]

Mifflin: I believe I'm here just to the hour, Miss Gorodna.

Nora: Mr. Gibson has been very nice about it. He told me he would give you the interview for your article. He's in the factory—trying to settle some things he can't settle. I'll let him know you're here.

[She goes out by the door into the factory. Mifflin, smiling with benevolent anticipation, places his umbrella and hat on a chair, then takes his fountain pen and a pencil from his pocket, smilingly decides to use the pencil, sharpens it without going to a wastebasket over by the desk; then beamingly looks about the room. He is about to strike a chord on the piano, seems alarmed by the idea, moves away from it, dusts the lapel of his coat, adjusts his collar, studies the posters, shakes his head over them as if they were not to his taste, goes to the desk, and after studying it smiles at the rose and gives it a kittenish peck with his forefinger. Nora comes back and Mifflin turns to her with his benevolent smile.]

Nora [going back to her work at the piano]: He'll be right here.

[Gibson appears in the open doorway, speaking with crisp determination to someone not seen.]

Gibson: That's my last word on it; that's in accordance with the agreement you signed two weeks ago.

A Harsh Voice: We don't care nothin' about no agreement!

Gibson:That's all!

[He comes in. He is a man of thirty-something; well but not clubbishly dressed; an intelligent, thoughtful face; a man of affairs. Just now he is exercising some self-control over irritations which have become habitual, but he is not uncordial, merely quiet, during his greeting of Mifflin.]

Nora: This is Mr. Mifflin, Mr. Gibson.

Gibson: How do you do, Mr. Mifflin.

Mifflin [heartily, as they shake hands]: I am very glad to meet you, Mr. Gibson! I hope you don't mind my not writing to you myself for this interview.

Gibson: Not at all!

Mifflin [taking a chair]: I heard Miss Gorodna speak at a meeting two nights ago—

Gibson: Yes?

Mifflin: And learning that she was one of your employees I asked her to speak to you about it for me.

Gibson: I see.

Mifflin: Now, in the first place, Mr. Gibson—

[There is a telephone on Gibson's desk; its bell rings.]

Gibson: Excuse me a moment!

[At the telephone]: Hello!… Yes—Gibson…. Oh, hello, McCombs!… Yes. I want you to buy it…. I want you to buy all of that grade wire you can lay your hands on. Get it now and go quick. All you can get; I don't care if it's a three years' supply. There'll be a shortage within a month…. No; I don't want any more of the celluloid mixture…. No, I don't want it. They can't make a figure good enough. I've got my own formula for keys and we're going to make our own mixture…. I'm going to have my own plant for it right here. I can make it just under fifty per cent, better than I can buy it…. Wait a minute! I want you to get hold of that lot of felt over in Newark; the syndicate's after it, but I want you to beat them to it. Don't go to Johnson. You go to Hendricks—he's Johnson's brother-in-law. You tell him as my purchasing agent you've come to finish the talk I had with him the other night. You'll find that does it…. All right. Wait! Call me up to-morrow afternoon; I'm on the track of a stock of that brass we've been using. We may get three-eighths of a cent off on it. I'll know by that time. All right!… All right! [Then he hangs up the receiver and turns to Mifflin.] Where do you propose to publish this interview, Mr. Mifflin?

Mifflin [cheerily]: Oh, I shall select one of the popular magazines in sympathy with my point of view in these matters. You probably know my articles. Numbers of them have been translated. One called "Coöperation and Brotherhood" has been printed in thirteen languages and dialects, including the Scandinavian. But I expect this to be my star article.

Gibson: Why?

Mifflin: Because your factory here is so often called a model factory. "The model factory!" [He repeats the phrase with unction.]

Gibson [wearily]: Yes, model because it has the most labour trouble!

Mifflin [enthusiastically]: That is the real reason why it will be my star article. As you may know from my other articles this problem is where I am in my element.

Gibson: Yes; I understood so from Miss Gorodna.

[Giving him an inimical glance, Nora closes the top of piano, and moves to go. Gibson checks her with a slight gesture.]

Gibson: Would you mind staying, Miss Gorodna? Miss Gorodna knows more about one side of this factory than I do, I'm afraid, Mr. Mifflin. We may need her for reference, especially as she seems to be the ringleader of the insurgents.

Mifflin [with jovial reproach]: Now, now! Before we come to that, Mr. Gibson, suppose we get at the origin of this interesting product. [He waves to the sample piano.] Let's see! I understand it was never your own creation, Mr. Gibson; that you inherited this factory from your father.

Gibson: Oh, no, I didn't.

Nora [challenging]: What! [She checks herself.] I beg your pardon!

Gibson: The piano factory I inherited from my father was about one third this size.

Mifflin [genially; always genial]: Nevertheless, you inherited it. We know that everything grows with the times, naturally. Let us simply state that it was a capitalistic family inheritance.

Nora [under her breath but emphatically]: Yes!

Mifflin: Up to the time of your inheriting it, you, I suppose, had led the usual life of pleasure of the wealthy young man?

Gibson: I'd been through school and college and through every department of the factory. That wasn't hard; it was a pretty run-down factory, Mr. Mifflin.

Mifflin: And then at your father's death the lives and fortunes, souls and bodies of all these workmen passed into your hands?

Gibson: Not quite that; there were only forty-one workmen, and nineteen of them didn't stay when father died. They got other jobs before I could stop them.

Mifflin: And how many men have you now?

Gibson: I believe there are one hundred and seventy-five on the pay roll now.

Mifflin: One hundred and seventy-five [with gusto] labourers!

Gibson: Some of them are; some of them are orators.

Mifflin [jovially]: Ah, I'm afraid that's hard on Miss Gorodna.

Gibson [quietly]: She's both.

Mifflin: I understand you are not fighting the labour unions?

Gibson: No. The workmen themselves declined to unionize the factory.

Mifflin: Mr. Gibson, when your father began manufacturing "The Gibson

Upright"—

Gibson: He didn't. He made a very fine piano—and only a few of them. It was "The Gibson Upright" that saved the factory. You see, with this model we began to get on a quantity-production basis. That's why the business has grown and is growing.

Mifflin: You mean that "The Gibson Upright" is the reason for the present great prosperity of this plant?

Gibson: Yes.

Mifflin: Now be careful, Mr. Gibson; I'm going to ask a trap question. [Wagging his pencil at him.] What is the reason for "The Gibson Upright?"

Gibson: Do you mean who designed it?

Mifflin: Oh, no, no, no! I mean who makes them? If someone asked you if you're the man that makes "The Gibson Upright" wouldn't you say "Yes?"

Gibson: Certainly!

Mifflin [triumphantly]: Ah, there you fell into the trap!

Gibson: What's the matter?

Nora [with controlled agitation]: It's the same old matter, Mr. Gibson. It's those men out there that make the piano.

Gibson [a little sadly]: Do they?

Nora: With their hands, Mr. Gibson!

Gibson: Is there anything more, Mr. Mifflin?

Mifflin: You couldn't possibly imagine how much you've given me, Mr. Gibson, in these few little answers. It is precisely what I want to get at—the point of view! The point of view is all that is separating the classes from the masses to-day. And I think I have yours already. Now I want to go to the masses if you will permit me.

Gibson: Then you might as well stay here.

Mifflin: Ah, but I want to hear the workers talk!

Gibson: Well, this is the best place for that! Some of them are waiting now just outside the door. I'll let you hear them.

[Goes to the factory door and opens it; two workingmen come in. One is elderly, with gray moustache and beard—Carter. The other, Frankel, is a Hebraic type, eager and nervous; younger.]

Gibson: What do you and Frankel want, Carter?

Carter [moving his jaw from side to side, affecting to chew to gain confidence]: Well, Mr. Gibson, to come down to plain words—there ain't no two best ways o' beatin' about the bush.

Gibson: I know that.

Carter: The question is just up to where there ain't no two best ways out of it. The men in our department is going to walk out to the last one, and if there was any way o' stoppin' it by argument I'd tell you. We're goin' out at twelve o'clock noon to-day, the whole forty-eight of us.

Gibson: Why?

Frankel: "Why," Mr. Gibson! Did you want to know why?

Gibson: Yes, I do. You men signed an agreement with me just eleven days ago—

Frankel [hotly protesting]: But we never understood it when we signed it. How'd we know what we was signing?

Gibson: Can't you read, Frankel?

Frankel: What's reading got to do with it, when it reads all one way?

Gibson: Didn't you understand it, Carter?

Carter: Well—I can't say I did.

Gibson: Why can't you say it? It was plain black and white.

Carter: Well, I was kind o' foggy about the overtime.

Gibson: The agreement was that you were to have time and a half for overtime. What was foggy about that?

Carter: Well, I don't say you didn't give us what we was askin' right then; but things have changed since then.

Gibson: What's changed in eleven days?

Frankel [hotly]: What's changed? How about them men in the finishin' department that do piecework?

Gibson: Well, what's changed about them?

Frankel: Well, something is goin' to change over there.

Gibson: We're talking about your department not understanding the agreement. What's the finishing department got to do with that?

Frankel: Well, they're kickin', too, you bet!

Gibson: I'm dealing with your kick now.

Carter: Well, o' course we got to stand with them; if they do piecework overtime they don't get no more for it.

Gibson: I'll deal with them separately.

Frankel: My goodness, Mr. Gibson, you got to deal with us, too! Not a one of us understood what our last agreement with you was. It's just agreements and agreements and agreements—you might think we was living just on agreements! By rights we ought to have double time instead of time and a half!

Gibson: Time and a half eleven days ago; now you strike for double time! Where does this thing stop? You want double time for overtime; your working day has been reduced; it won't be long till you want that cut down again.

Frankel: Sure! We want it cut down right now!

Carter: Yes, Mr. Gibson; that was another point they told us to bring up before we walk out.

Gibson [with growing exasperation]: I suppose you want a six-hour day so you'll have more overtime to double on me! Then you'll want a four-hour day, won't you?

Mifflin [beaming and nodding]: Well, why not, Mr. Gibson?

Gibson: What?

Nora: Why shouldn't they?

Gibson: Why shouldn't they? But what's their limit?

Nora [oratorically]: When the workman shall own his tools!

Mifflin: Of course that means all the tools, Mr. Gibson. You may not know our phrase: "The workman shall own his tools." It means not only the carpenter's bench, the plane and the saw, the adze and the auger, but the shop itself. It means that the workmen shall own the factory. It means the elimination of everything and everyone who stands between him and the purchaser, to take toll and unearned profit from the worker, who is really the sole producer of wealth.

Nora: It means the elimination of capital and the capitalist!

Mifflin: It means that not only should the worker own tools and factory but should sit here in the persons of his chosen and elected fellow workers, as arbiter of his own destiny.

Gibson: That is to say, it means the elimination of me.

Mifflin [jovially]: Precisely! Precisely!

Gibson [as another workingman strides into the room]: What do you want, Shomberg?

Shomberg: Them new windows in the assembling room—they're no good.

Gibson: We've just spent twelve hundred dollars fixing them as you said you wanted them. What's the matter with them?

Shomberg: They don't give no light.

Mifflin: None at all?

Shomberg: It's right next to none at all! The men are goin' to lay off if they got to work in that room. They're goin' out anyway at twelve o'clock.

Frankel: Now look here, Mr. Gibson, if I was running this factory—

Gibson: You're not, Frankel!

Shomberg: Well, why can't you listen to him? Don't we even get no hearing? I guess if I was running this factory once, the first thing I'd do I'd anyhow try to listen what the troubles is and make my men contented.

Gibson: What would you do if you were running the factory, Carter? You haven't said.

Carter: I ain't had the chance to say. Now what I'd do, first I'd settle all the grievances so there wouldn't be no more complaints.

Gibson: Well, here's one coming I might leave to you on that basis.

[Enter Simpson, an elderly worker in overalls and jumper; and Salvatore, a New Yorkized Italian type, a formerly lighted cigarette dangling from his lips.]

Salvatore: Our department's goin' to walk out at twelve, noon, Mr.

Gibson. We ain't satisfied.

Gibson: Why not?

Salvatore: Well, we ain't satisfied, Mr. Gibson; we ain't satisfied at all.

Gibson: You got every demand answered yesterday, Salvatore.

Salvatore: Oh, I ain't talkin' about no demands. If all them other departments walks out we're going to stand by 'em! We got plenty to do with our time. Workin' all the time ain't so enjoyable.

Gibson: So you people are going out again, are you?

Simpson: I guess it's a general strike, Mr. Gibson. I'm afraid if you don't give the boys satisfactory answers the place will close down at noon.

Gibson: Have satisfactory answers ever satisfied you?

Salvatore: Ain't we got no right to stand up for our rights?

Frankel: Don't you get all you can from us? Well, you bet your life we're goin' to keep on gettin' all we can from you!

Gibson: Then life isn't worth anything to either of us—if it's all fight! Is that to go on forever?

Nora: No, Mr. Gibson; it's to go on until the abolition of the wage system!

Mifflin: Good!

Nora: The struggle with capitalism will continue till the workers take possession of the machinery of production. It is theirs by right; the wealth they produce is morally their own. The parasites who now consume that wealth must be destroyed.

[Great approval from workmen; almost a cheer. Mifflin chuckles and noiselessly claps his hands.]

Gibson: I'm the parasite!

Shomberg: Well, do we get any answer?

Gibson: Does any one of you men here think he could answer all of these demands satisfactorily?

Salvatore: Sure! [All acquiesce: "Sure, sure!"]

Frankel: You can't put us off any longer with just no little bunch of funny talk!

Gibson: I'll have an answer for you in fifteen minutes. [Turns to his desk.] That's all.

Shomberg: Better have it before twelve o'clock.

Carter [as they go]: Do what you kin, Mr. Gibson. All the departments is worked up pretty unusual.

Gibson [wearily dropping back into his chair]: Oh, no, Carter; pretty usual; that's the trouble.

Mifflin: A splendid manifestation of spirit, Mr. Gibson! I'll just take advantage of the—

[Gibson waves his hand, assenting. Mifflin overtakes the group at door, puts his hands on the shoulders of two of the workers; and goes out with them talking eagerly. Nora follows. Gibson sighs heavily; the telephone bell rings. He takes up the receiver.]

Gibson: Who is it?… Wait a minute! [He takes a pad and writes]: "Central Associated Lumber Companies." … Wait a minute. [Looks at a slip in a pigeonhole of his desk.] Oh, yes, you called me yesterday…. This is Mr. Ragsdale?… No, no, Mr. Ragsdale, I don't think I'm going to do any business with you. You asked me forty-eight dollars a thousand on 200,000 feet…. No, your coming down half a dollar a thousand won't do it…. I say seventeen cents won't do it…. Hold the wire a minute. [Looks for letter in pigeonhole, but finds it in his inside pockets. Then he holds it open, looking at it beside the telephone as he speaks.] Hello!… No; I was right; there's nothing doing, Mr. Ragsdale, I know where I can get that 200,000 feet at forty-five dollars…. I say I know where I can get that lumber at forty-five dollars…. No; I can get it. There won't be any use for you to call up again…. Good-bye!

[He paces the floor again thoughtfully, then abruptly goes to the factory door; opens it and calls.]

Gibson: Miss Gorodna!

[Nora appears in the doorway. She looks at him with disapproving inquiry; then walks in and closes the door. He goes to his desk and touches the rose.]

Gibson: Why didn't you take it this morning? That poor little rosebed in my yard at home; it's just begun to brighten up. I suppose it thought it was going to send you a June rose every day, as it did last June. You don't want it?

Nora [gently, but not abating her attitude]: No, thank you!

Gibson: [dropping the rose upon his blotting pad, not into the glass again]: This is the fourth that's had to wither disappointed.

Nora [in a low voice]: Then hadn't you better let the others live?

Gibson: I'd like to live a little myself, Nora. Life doesn't seem much worth living for me as it is, and if your theories are making you detest me I think I'm about through.

Nora: It's what you stand for that my theories make me detest—since you used the word.

Gibson: Well, what is it that I stand for?

Nora: Class and class hatred.

Gibson: Which class is the hatred coming from?

Nora: From both!

Gibson: Just in this room right now it seems to be all on one side. And lately it has seemed to me to be more and more not so much class as personal; because really, Nora, I haven't yet been able to understand how a girl with your mind can believe that you and I belong to different classes.

Nora: You don't! So long as capital exists you and I are in warring classes, Mr. Gibson.

Gibson: What are they?

Nora: Capitalist and proletariat. You can't get out of your class and I don't want to get out of mine.

Gibson: Nora, the law of the United States doesn't recognize any classes—and I don't know why you and I should. We both like Montaigne and Debussy. You've even condescended to laugh with me at times about something funny in the shop. Of course not lately; but you used to. In everything worth anything aren't we really in the same class?

Nora: We are not. We never shall be—and we never were! Even before we were born we weren't! You came into this life with a silver spoon. I was born in a tenement room where five other people lived. My father was a man with a great brain. He never got out of the tenements in his life; he was crushed and kept under; yet he was a well-read man and a magnificent talker; he could talk Marx and Tolstoi supremely. Yet he never even had time to learn English.

Gibson: I wish you could have heard what my father talked for English! Half the time I couldn't understand him myself. He was Scotch.

Nora: Your father wasn't crushed under the capitalistic system as mine was. My father was an intellectual.

Gibson: Mine was a worker. They both landed at Castle Garden, didn't they?

Nora: What of that? Mine remained a thinker and a revolutionist; yours became a capitalist.

Gibson: No; he got a job—in a piano factory.

Nora: Yes, and took advantage of the capitalistic system to own the factory.

Gibson: Before he did own it he worked fourteen hours a day for twelve years. That's why he owned it.

Nora: How many hours a day do you work, Mr. Gibson?

Gibson: I have worked twenty-four; sometimes fourteen, sometimes two; usually six.

Nora: In other words, when you want to work.

Gibson: I've learned to do things my father never learned to do, and it commands a higher return.

Nora: You take a higher return!

Gibson: You mean I don't deserve it?

Nora: Can it be possible that you think you deserve as much as any of these workers? You don't so much as touch one of these pianos that bring you your return. I do! I work on them with my hands. Do you think you deserve as much as I?

Gibson: No; I don't go so far as that.

Nora: Don't talk to me as a woman! My work is pleasant enough now; but what work did I have to do before I got this far? I worked sixteen hours a day, and when I was only a child at that! Twelve hours I was sewing, and four I studied. If my father hadn't known music and taught me a little your capitalistic system would have me sewing twelve hours a day still!

Gibson: Yes, Nora; when we learn how to do something we get better pay for it.

Nora: We do? Do you really think that? That we get paid for what we do?

Gibson: Yes; that's what I think.

Nora: Then what do you get paid for? For nothing in the world but owning this factory. You're paid because you're a capitalist!

Gibson: Is that all?

Nora: Why, look at the state the factory's in! The discontent you saw in those men—that's the fault of the capitalistic system! There aren't twenty workmen in the place that are contented.

Gibson: You're right about that; and they never will be.

Nora: Not until the system's changed. What are you going to do about it?

Gibson [with quiet desperation]: They've driven me as far as they can. If they walk out I'll walk out. I can stand it if they can.

Nora: You'd close down? Your only solution is to take the bread out of these men's mouths?

Gibson: If they walk out I'll walk out!

Nora [trembling]: You coward!

Gibson: That's fair?

Nora: You'll let us starve because you haven't the courage to come to the right solution! Don't you mind starving us?

Gibson: You mean you'd starve if I quit.

Nora [vehemently]: No; but because you'd close the factory.

Gibson: Oh, the factory could run if I quit, could it?

Nora: That's the capitalist! They think it's capital that runs the factories!

Gibson: And I'm the capital, am I?

Nora: What in the world else? [Touches the piano.] You think you produce this wealth because you've got your money in it? You pass out a pittance to those who do produce it, and when they ask for more than a pittance you take their tools away from them! If they rebel you set the police on them. That's capital—and that's you, Mr. Gibson!

Gibson: Nora, you told me not to speak to you as a woman.

Nora: I mean it!

Gibson: I'm going to disregard it. Couldn't you get your theories out of your mind for a while and make a little room there for me?

Nora: My theories! I haven't any theories! I'm talking about the truth, and the truth is my whole life. I can't find room for anything but the truth.

Gibson: Couldn't you?

Nora: Ah, that's a man's egoism! With the whole world seething so that its wrongs should fill every mind—yes, and every heart—until they're righted, you ask me—

Gibson: I think you needn't make it any clearer, Nora; I understand.

Nora [turning away, agitated]: I am glad you do.

[The factory door opens to the impetuous arrival of a workingman of extraordinary size and vehemence, Riley, a truck driver.]

Riley [as he opens the door]: See here, Mr. Gibson, fer the love o' heaven, don't the truck drivers fer this factory git no consideration?

Gibson: I don't know! What do they want?

Riley: Look here, Mr. Gibson, man to man, every department in this factory is makin' demands and goin' to walk out if they don't git 'em. Ain't we got no chance fer no demands?

Gibson: I said: What do you want?

Riley: Why, we got grievances been hangin' over I don't know how long!

Gibson: What are they?

Riley: Why, all them other departments is going to git raises. You don't think fer a minute the truck drivers ain't going to—

Gibson: How much raise do you want?

Riley: Sir?

Gibson: How much raise do you want?

Riley: I can't jest say right this minute. We jest heard what was goin' on in the other departments, and we ain't had no meetin' to settle just what raise we are goin' to git. Now, Mr. Gibson, if I was runnin' this factory—

Gibson: Well, what would you do?

Riley: The first thing I'd do, I'd see that the truck drivers didn't have no more discontent than nobody else. What becomes of your freight if you can't run no trucks? You got to look out, Mr. Gibson! It's us got the upper hand.

Gibson: Go call your meeting and find out what raise you're going to strike for.

Riley: Yes, sir; I'll do it. [He goes out quickly.]

Nora: [amazed and rather gentle]: Are you going to give them what they want?

Gibson: No; I only wanted to get rid of him a minute to think—or try to.

Nora [in a low voice, offended]: Oh, excuse me! [She is going out.]

Gibson: Stay here! [He seems to approach a decision—one of desperation and anger. Then he speaks crisply, but more to himself than to Nora.] All right—they get it! [Looks up at Nora, gives her a frowning stare of some duration.] Tell Riley to call off his meeting, please. I want all those spokesmen for the departments here. I'll give them their answer now.

[Nora looks at him, puzzled, bites her lip, and goes out quickly into the factory. Gibson's expression is determined; so is his action. He goes to the wall, brings two chairs, one in each hand, places them at the large table. Repeats this until he has chairs placed at the table on both sides and at the head as if for a directors' meeting. The door opens and Salvatore, Mifflin, Carter, Riley, Shomberg, Frankel, and Simpson enter. They come in, speaking together; most of them talking somewhat ominously.]

Crowd: Well, he better!… We ain't workin' for our health…. My whole department'll walk out!… You bet your life we're goin' to!… He needn't kid himself about our not meaning business!

Frankel: Well, Mr. Gibson, we'd like to know what conclusion you come to.

Gibson: I'm going to tell you. Simpson, please ask Miss Gorodna to step in.

[Simpson merely looks out of the door, and Nora comes in quickly.]

Carter, take that chair at the head of the table. Frankel, Salvatore, Shomberg, sit there, and there, and there! Riley, sit there. Simpson, there! Miss Gorodna, will you please sit here? [They take the seats he indicates, but they look puzzled, somewhat perturbed; whisper and murmur to one another.] Thank you! There! That looks like a directors' tables doesn't it?

Salvatore: What's this all about?

Gibson: I want to ask you people if any of you ever knew me to break my word to you?

Frankel: Oh, no, Mr. Gibson, we know you never break your agreements!

Gibson: I want to ask you people: Haven't you found my word as good as my bond?

Carter: Why, yes, Mr. Gibson.

Simpson: Sure! We know you'll do what you say.

Gibson: Do you all agree to that?

Salvatore: Soit'nly! You're a gentleman.

Riley: Sure, we agree to it!

Shomberg: Oh, well, prob'ly so.

Gibson: All right! I'm going to do something you don't expect, and I want you to know I mean it. But before I do it I want to tell you something. Probably you won't understand it, but for a long time I had a pride in this factory. Building up The Gibson Upright was really the pride of my life. To do that I knew I had to have a loyal staff of workmen, and for that reason if no other I have given you shorter hours and more pay than the men get in any other factory of this kind that I know of. I've done everything that can be done to make the shops healthy and light and clean. I certainly haven't been unfriendly to you personally. Any man in the factory was free to come in that door to talk to me any time he wanted to. I've done my best and we've been called the model factory. I've done my best but—it isn't enough. It never has been enough. And I've been told it never will be enough [with a glance at Nora] until the wage system has been abolished—until capital has been abolished and the parasite destroyed! I say I took a pride in the factory for years! Now I am no longer able to. I can't take a pride in a squabble, and that's all this factory has come to be. And I'll tell you frankly—you men feel you'd like to get rid of me; well, I want to get rid of you. And I intend to!

Shomberg [fiercely]: You goin' to close this factory down?

Gibson: No; I'm going to give it to you!

Several Workmen: What!

Gibson [emphatically]: I'm going to give it to you! I turn it over to you, here and now. This property is mine, but the use of it is yours. Don't you understand? You've said yourselves my word is as good as my bond. Well, the factory is yours. I'm going to get away from it. You take it and run it.

[He gets his hat and coat.]

Simpson: What in thunder does he mean?

Salvatore: Say, what's the game?

Gibson: There it is! Take it and run it yourselves, for yourselves. It belongs to every workman in the factory on equal shares. [Throws keys on table.] There are the keys of the safe, and the combination's in the top drawer of that desk. It's all yours as it stands, down to the very correspondence on that table, without any let, hindrance, or interference from me.

Frankel [hoarsely]: Say! He means it!

Salvatore: All the money ours?

Gibson: The money for every piano you make and sell is yours—every cent of it.

Mifflin [rising transfigured]: Gentlemen, a glorious time has come! This is an example to every employer of labour in our land. I thank that power which destined all men to be equal both in service and reward that I should have chanced to be present to see such a splendid band of forward-looking fellows—of brothers, of comrades—come into their own! Let us hope that this great moment but marks the beginning of an epoch when every capitalist and manufacturer shall see the light as Mr. Gibson has just done.

As spokesman for these—these men, Mr. Gibson, I would congratulate you for anticipating the inevitable and certain world future! You have done well for yourself to perceive it. I am sure on that account you leave here with their respect. And to you I should think it might be some relief—

Gibson: Relief? I should think it might! And you can translate that into your nineteen languages and dialects—including the Scandinavian! As for you men—you wouldn't work for me—now see if you can work for yourselves! Good-bye, Miss Gorodna!

[Nora, who has been looking at him tensely, inclines her head slightly. He opens the door that leads to the street and goes out decisively. There are exclamations from everyone, loud but awed. "Say, look here, look here, look here!"

"Give it to us!" "Equal shares! Did you hear what he said?"

"Gosh! Is this the end of the world?" "My wife won't believe it!"]

Mifflin: Gentlemen, this factory comes into the possession of every workman in it on equal terms; each has a like share in the profits. At last the workman owns his tools.

Frankel [suddenly, as if light had just come]: Gibson's crazy!

Mifflin: No, no! He saw the writing on the wall!

Nora [as if entranced, her eyes to heaven]: Isn't it wonderful—wonderful!

Mifflin [beaming]: But we mustn't forget that it entails responsibilities.

Nora: We mustn't forget that.

[The telephone bell rings. They all turn their heads in silence and look at it, Mifflin watching them, benevolently chuckling. The bell rings again.]

Carter [blankly]: The telephone is ringin'.

Mifflin: Well, answer it, answer it!

Simpson: Who?

Mifflin: Why, you—any of you. It's yours—it's your telephone.

Simpson: You answer it, Carter.

[Carter goes to the telephone and picks it up in a somewhat gingerly way.]

Carter: Hello!… Yes…. Yes, it's The Gibson Upright…. No, he ain't here…. What? Wait a minute. [Puts his hand over the mouthpiece.] He wants to know who it is talking.

Frankel: My goodness! Can't you tell him it's you?

Carter: He wouldn't know who that was.

Mifflin: Tell him it's one of the owners of the company.

Carter [looks at Mifflin solemnly; then in a hushed voice]: It's one of the owners of the company…. Wait a minute; let me get that. "The Central Associated Lumber Companies?" I hear you. Wait a minute. [Looks round.] This here company says they want to lower their bid for a couple hundred thousand feet o' lumber to forty-seven dollars a thousand. They say that's a dollar lower than they offered yesterday and a half a dollar lower than they offered this morning—says got to know now.

Frankel: Says they come down to forty-seven, do they?

Carter: Yes; says so!

Simpson: Well, tell 'em that's good; we'll take it.

The Others: Sure, that's right!… That's a good offer…. Sure, we'll take it!

Carter [at the telephone]: We'll take it. [Pause.] You're welcome.

[Puts down the telephone amid general buzz from all the others. They rise somewhat dazedly, but relaxing, beginning to take in their surroundings in the new life. Shomberg and Simpson shake hands. Frankel goes over and examines the safe. Salvatore picks up a basket of correspondence from the desk as if it were a strange bug. Shomberg opens a drawer in the table. There is a buzz of congratulative, formless talk. They spread over the stage, looking at everything.]

Mifflin [transfigured, his right hand lifted]: Gentlemen, this is the New Dawn!