MADDALENA SPEAKS – Monologue (Maddalena)

A monologue from the play by Neith Boyce

NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Forum: Volume 51. New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1914.


Listen, Signora! I am speaking, I, Maddalena, the poor slave, the dirt beneath your feet. You bought me.

A hundred lire a month, and Carmé, my husband, working hard every day, cannot earn half as much! A hundred lire a month, for my milk to feed your child!

Bought like a beast! A hundred lire a month, a fortune for poor people like us … how thankful we should be!

Yes, and presents, and fine clothes. Look at the linen I am wearing, look at my dress, look at my lace and my long ribbons that touch the ground!

Could I ever have worn such things if I had not been bought? Could I have a soft bed to sleep in, could I have good food to eat,

could I walk in a garden like yours, could I live in a palace like yours? Never! I am so fortunate! And I gain a hundred lire a month for my husband …

and he made me come. He sold me. Do you think I would not have run away long ago, if I had dared?

Do you think I would not have begged my way, walked on my two feet, all the way back to Naples? But I dared not.

Carmé would be angry. He had sold me. And my baby! Yes, I am a mother, too, like you, Signora! But not like you,

for I would never have given my baby to be nursed by a stranger woman, I would have kept him close, close and safe, on my own breast.

But I was forced. I had to give him up, my little baby, my little Beppino, I had to give him to a neighbor to care for,

and who knows how she cares for him? For we are poor people, Signora, we cannot buy flesh and blood for our children, like you.

My baby, my first, my only one! So beautiful and strong he was, his little head with thick black hair, his little body, so brown and strong!

How he pulled at my breast! Not like your puny baby, Signora, that could not take half my milk and left me aching!

Oh, and my heart, my heart ached, day and night, for my baby and Carmé. Carmé … my husband … who knows?

He is handsome, and he is young, and the women, the other women…. There is a girl there who would have taken him from me if she could …

but he loved me … but who knows if he loves me yet? We were married only a year … who knows if he is faithful?

I am here, far away, far away, and I cannot know.

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