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A monologue by Marjorie Benton Cooke
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from More Modern Monologues. Marjorie Benton Cooke. Chicago: Dramatic Publishing Co., 1907.
[In a heavy Italian accent] Ah, Signor, how do? I am ver’ glad to see you. [Smiling] Si, Signor, I come-a back. I make-a de treep to Italia–I make-a de treep back to New York. . . . Si, I make-a de mon’–I got il bottega–il magazino–what you call–shop.
Na, na–not make-a de treep to Italia on bis’ness–I make-a de treep for Nicoletta. [He appeals to Howard like a child asking sympathy] Signor, you good fren’ to G’vanni–you like to hear ’bout Nicoletta? You will seet down?
[Pause] It is long time ‘go, in Italia, I make-a de love to Nicoletta. Ah, Signor, it is ver’ beautiful in ma’ countree, moch blue sky, moch green tree. Not like-a New York, na, na, na, ver’ beautiful. But ev’body zere is ver’ poor.
Eef il padre di famiglia make-a duo soldi a day–ah–’tis ver’ good. Il famiglia getta spaghetti, polenta, . . . but il padre di famiglia notta make-a duo soldi each day–na, na. Ev’body ver’ poor zere. So Nicoletta an’ me, we cannot marry wiz each ozer.
[His face clouds at mention of Antonio and his hands knot.] Antonio di Navarro–he ees, what you say? Neighbor? Si, Signor, neighbor wiz us, an’ he say ev’body in New York getta reech queek–ev’body make-a de mon’.
So I say to Nicoletta, “I, Giovanni, I go to New York, getta reech, an’ sen’ you de mon’, eh, Carissima? An’ she say to me, “Si, si, G’vanni.” So, Signor, I make-a de treep. Eeet is ver’ different in New York. I canna’ spik-a de tongue.
I not getta reech queek–na, jus’ work-work-work, like in ma’ countree. Sell-a de peanut, sell-a de banan’, make-a de music wit’ de monk–work all time, an’ save for Nicoletta. An’ purt’ soon, I gotta de mon’.
I go to Antonio–he make-a de treep wit me to New York, an’ now he go to make-a de treep back to Italia. He is ma fren’, so I go to him, I say, “Here is ma mon’, tell Nicoletta, G’vanni is waiting.” [A veritable fury sweeps his face.]
Antonio di Navarro, he take-a de mon’; he make-a de treep to Italia; he tell Nicoletta G’Vanni is dead–he keep de mon’ an’ take Nicoletta! [He hurries on in a frenzy.] Giovanni?–what he do, Signor? He is in New York, waiting.
Ev’ry boat zat comes to New York for mont’ I am zere, waiting, waiting, an’ no Nicoletta, so at last’ I say–“She is dead.” Zen come ze word Antonio di Navarro have take Nicoletta! Ah, Signor, Zen I work-a, work-a, work-a!
Sell-a de peanut–sell-a de banan’, make-a de music wit’ de monk, an’ save, till, at las’, I got-ta de mon’. I make-a de treep to Italia–two day I watch an’ wait, an’ zen when Antonio di Navarro go home to Nicoletta, I, Giovanni, I go too.
Close behin’ him in ze shadow, I go, too. Up ze stair behin’ him, an’ wait outside ze door. Purt’ soon he come out an’ go away, an’ zen Giovanni, he go in. Nicoletta make-a de cry upon de floor. She look at me like one zat hear ze voice of ze blessed Virgin! [Crosses himself hastily, and goes on]
“Na, na–don’t keel me, Vanni, don’t keel me. He tell me you are dead–Antonio tell me you are dead–don’t! Don’t!–” [He crouches away, sobbing, as if from fear, and then suddenly resuming his own expression, he thunders.]
“Nicoletta–you love Antonio?”
“You love me, G’vanni?”
“Si–si, Vanni, I love you.”
I hear heem comin’ up ze stair, I wait for him inside ze door, an’ pur’ soon Antonio di Navarro he come in!
[Pantomime of swift upward stroke of the stiletto. He looks at the body crumpled at his feet, breathing hard and loud. His eye falls on his listener, and a dazed look follows, then he comes to himself with a shudder.]
Signor, I as’ you to excuse me. For one moment, I forget–I think I am back zere in– [Shrugs his shoulders, turns to the right and calls] Nicoletta–Nicoletta! Ah, come out–come here, Carissima.
[Turns to the listener, with a flourish] Signor, I make-a de pleasure to present you to my wife–to Nicoletta!