The First And The Last – Monologue (Larry)

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A monologue from the play by John Galsworthy

NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Strife and Other Plays. John Galsworthy. Arlington: Black Box Press, 2008.


It’s true.


It’s true, I tell you; I’ve killed a man. I came to ask what I’m to do—give myself up, or what? It’s like this, Keith—there’s a girl—a Polish girl. She—her father died over here when she was sixteen, and left her all alone.

There was a mongrel living in the same house who married her—or pretended to. She’s very pretty, Keith. He left her with a baby coming. She lost it, and nearly starved.

Then another fellow took her on, and she lived with him two years, till that brute turned up again and made her go back to him. He used to beat her black and blue.

He’d left her again when—I met her. She was taking anybody then.

[He stops, passes his hand over his lips, looks up at KEITH, and goes on defiantly]

I never met a sweeter woman, or a truer, that I swear. Woman! She’s only twenty now! When I went to her last night, that devil had found her out again. He came for me—a bullying, great, hulking brute. Look!

[He touches a dark mark on his forehead]

I took his ugly throat, and when I let go—

[He stops and his hands drop.]

Dead, Keith. I never knew till afterwards that she was hanging on to him—to h-help me.

[Again he wrings his hands.]

We—we sat by it a long time. Then I carried it on my back down the street, round a corner, to an archway. About fifty yards. And then … went back to her. She way lonely and afraid.

So was I, Keith. You must know what I ought to do. I didn’t, mean to kill him, Keith. I love the girl—I love her. That swinish brute! A million creatures die every day, and not one of them deserves death as he did.

But—but I feel it here. [Touching his heart] Such an awful clutch, Keith. Help me if you can, old man. I may be no good, but I’ve never hurt a fly if I could help it.

[He buries his face in his hands.]

What shall I do?

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