FORTUNE AND MEN’S EYES – Monologue (Mary)

A monologue from the play by Josephine Preston Peabody

NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Fortune and Men’s Eyes. Josephine Preston Peabody. Boston: Small Towns, 1900.


Well, headsman?…
You ask not why I came here, Clouded Brow,
Will you not ask me why I stay? No word?
O blind, come lead the blind! For I, I too
Lack sight and every sense to linger here
And make me an intruder, where I once
Was welcome, oh most welcome, as I dreamed!
Look on me, then. I do confess, I have
Too often preened my feathers in the sun,
And thought to rule a little, by my wit.
I have been spendthrift with men’s offerings
To use them like a nosegay,–tear apart,
Petal by petal, leaf by leaf, until
I found the heart all bare, the curious heart
I longed to see, for once, and cast away.
And so, at first, with you…. Ah, now I think
You’re wise. There’s nought so fair, so … curious,
So precious-rare to find, as honesty.
‘Twas all a child’s play then; a counting-off
Of petals. Now I know…. But ask me why
I come unheralded, and in a mist
Of circumstance and strangeness. Listen, love,–
Well then, dead love, if you will have it so.
I have been cunning cruel,–what you will:
And yet the days of late have seemed too long
Even for summer! Something called me here.
And so I flung my pride away and came,–
A very woman for my foolishness!–
To say once more, — to say …
I am come back; a foot-worn runaway,
Like any braggart boy. Let me sit down
And take Love’s horn-book in my hands again,
And learn from the beginning; — by the rod,
If you will scourge me, love! Come, come, forgive.
I am not wont to sue: and yet to-day
I am your suppliant, I am your servant,
Your link-boy, yes, your minstrel: so, — wilt hear?

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