This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
S. A. Scoggin email@example.com
CHARACTERS MISS GILLY is what can be kindly called a barmaid, an unattached single female who performs a multitude of tasks in the saloon. Young, but the edges are starting to show wear. She is wearing a gay dress; her hair is done up; she is a performer ready to assume a part. VERNON AMUNDSEN is a cow hand who is barely old enough to have whiskers. His shirt is tattered and threadbare. His pants are greasy, and his hat is a battered, shapeless thing. PEABODY is a traveling man. He speaks as one accustomed to using words to his advantage. His sharp black suit is protected by a long dust coat. His hat would be black if the white flour of alkali dust were brushed off.
SETTING The interior of a saloon in the western United States sometime in the 1870’s. The walls are rough planks. Stage right is a door to the street; stage left is a short bar running upstage and down. Upstage center is a piano. There is one round table with four chairs piled atop it. A single lantern hangs from the wall over the piano. There are two windows in the wall. They are heavily curtained, but still admit blades of white-hot sunlight through cracks and rips. When the door is opened, brilliant light blasts through, giving the impression that the outside is being pummeled by a parching heat.
(The stage is dim. Miss Gilly enters through the door, shaking the dust from her dress. She lights the lantern, and the lights come up on the stage. She sets the chairs about the table, then goes to the piano and uncovers the keys. She strikes several notes of “There Is A Tavern In The Town“ and begins to sing, continuing as she goes behind the bar and searches out a cloth. With this she begins to wipe shot glasses, removing them one by one from a pile on her left and stacking them to her right. She spends a long time polishing and inspecting each one against the lamp light.) GILLY There is a tavern in the town, in the town And there my dear love sits him down, sits him down And drinks his wine ‘mid joyous laughter free And never never thinks of me Fare thee well for I must leave thee Do not let the parting grieve thee And remember that the best of friends must part, must part Adieu, adieu kind friends, adieu, sweet adieu I can no longer stay with you, stay with you I’ll hang my harp on a weeping willow tree And may the world go well with thee (VERNON AMUNDSEN enters with a brave first step, then, seeing no other patrons, freezes with his hand still on the open door.) GILLY Close the door before the whole county blows in. AMUNDSEN So you’re open? GILLY If you’re flush, we’re open. That’s our motto. AMUNDSEN Oh, I’m flush. 4
(He pats his pocket.) Yes. Ma’am. I’m a paying customer. GILLY Well excuse me, Commodore Vanderbilt. I didn’t recognize you in this light. Entree to the salon and I will ring for the iced champagne. Oui? AMUNDSEN (Removing his hat, he laughs nervously.) Aw, ma’am. GILLY Come here. Sit. (AMUNDSEN does as directed. She reaches out and firmly shakes hands with him.) GILLY My name’s Gilly. AMUNDSEN Vernon Amundsen, ma’am. GILLY Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Amundsen. Are you a visitor to our fair community? AMUNDSEN No, ma’am. Miss...Gilly. I’m roping and tying over at the Double Bar B. GILLY No! I had you marked for a banker. AMUNDSEN You’re teasing. GILLY Why haven’t I seen you in here before now, Vernon? You ain’t studying for the cloth are you? Taken a vow? Have you alone in this valley of debauchers found that God who keeps account of sin? AMUNDSEN 5
Not me. GILLY Then you must true to one of the other sporting establishments in town. AMUNDSEN Ma’am? GILLY The Rose and Crown? The Crowing Cock? No. I see you over at the Harvard Club, sitting back in a big old cracked leather armchair with a two-dollar cigar and sipping brandy as old as your grandfather. AMUNDSEN Now I know you’re gilding the lily, ma’am. Miss Gilly. There’s the smithy shop, and the general store, and I saw two stables cross from them. And this place. I didn’t see another saloon. GILLY You are new around here, aren’t you? AMUNDSEN Yes, ma’am. I signed on with the Double Bar up in Bodie on the winter drive. Been on three months now. GILLY For three long dry months you have been able to resist the siren's song? (She gestures to the empty room.) AMUNDSEN I’ve been working extra. To save up some to buy my own head, run my own place. GILLY Then three booming huzzahs for you, Vernon. We don’t have many come in that door who have much - hell, any - trace of ambition. Pardon my boudoir French. AMUNDSEN That’s all right. 6
GILLY You don’t start if a woman’s mouth is sullied by vulgarity? AMUNDSEN I can bear it. GILLY You are a rare gentleman. Perhaps the only one employed at the Double Bar B. Those unrepentant groundhogs probably had you too terrified to set foot through that door. I know the scurrilous lies they spread - that the cards have only fifty-one in the deck - that Noah carried yon jar of pickled eggs onto the Ark. They would swear before the Almighty that Milton stretches a barrel of whisky with tobacco juice and sagebrush tea, and that the women here take moral positions which are remarkably flexible. Damned lies! (She winks at him.) Most of them. So what will you have to drink tonight? Did I say tonight, when it is not yet that other three o’clock? And poor Milton is laid abed with the gout again. So today the whisky flows pure, as brown as a Paiute’s nose and as smooth as his squaw’s derriere. AMUNDSEN I would have one of those, please. (She turns to a small wooden keg set up on a stand and fills a glass by turning a tap at the bottom. She slides the full glass onto the bar so that Amundsen has to be alert to stop it from going into his lap.) GILLY And as we are fast old friends, what is a rosy-cheeked man of temperance and industry doing in here on a Tuesday while the rest of the honest world bends its back? AMUNDSEN Well, the cutting out was done, so I kind of volunteered to bring the buckboard in to the smith’s. The durn springs is tearing loose again. GILLY So you didn’t come just to see me? My reputation has failed 7
me for the first time! AMUNDSEN I don’tGILLY I shall never see you again, shall I? This is but cruel fate that has thrown us together. No more Saturday evenings of song and laughter and gay times? AMUNDSEN I believe I... might come back. GILLY Tell me the truth, Mr. Amundsen. Is it the ambience which draws you back fluttering like a doomed moth to the flame. Or is it the fine liquor? Perhaps - dare I say it - it is the company? AMUNDSEN Everything. Everything’s fine, ma’am. GILLY A spark of hope! Hope for a bright shining future! AMUNDSEN Yes, ma’am. I suppose.... GILLY You think my jest empty of truth altogether, don’t you? Well, Mr. Amundsen, I shan’t be Milton’s saloon decoration forever. I’m waiting for a man with some spine and some brains, and I’m going to partner up with him. Sound good to you, Mr. Amundsen? AMUNDSEN Yes, ma’am. GILLY I’ve been saving up too. How about it Vernon? What would you say to combining our assets and throwing in together on some land and some cattle? Someday real soon there's going to be sixteen hundred acres and a real house - not a barkside-out shack - but a real ranch house with a stone chimney, glass in the windows, and a porch for rocking chairs in the evenings. All with my name on it. And thirteen fat children stampeding about - maybe with your 8
name on them. AMUNDSEN IGILLY Not so fast, partner. The man I’ll be bidding for has a big heart and a bigger imagination. I won’t settle for a cull. I’m a prize, Vernon. I’m strong and smart, and I’m still pretty. And I know some things that a mail order bride would not. AMUNDSEN Yes, ma’am. GILLY But I’ll keep an eye on you. Another whisky? AMUNDSEN Yes, ma’am. (As she draws him another glass, Peabody enters. He walks stiffly, as if his whole lower body is sore.) PEABODY Praise be! An oasis in the desert. GILLY That’s us. We are famous for that. (Peabody limps to the bar. Amundsen shies away from him.) PEABODY I count myself fortunate to be still drawing breath. I was just in the market across the avenue, begging the proprietor for sweet liquid to slake my desperate thirst. He showed me to a bucket swinging by the door. It was filled with water! I am sure it was water. It was almost clear. GILLY Some claim to have tasted it. PEABODY My condolences to the next of kin. Please tell me that you9
(He eyes Amundsen’s glass greedily.) -do not peddle water. GILLY No, sir. We are strictly against water here. (She fills a glass from the keg and sets it before him.) PEABODY Glory hallelujah. (Peabody picks the glass up, peers into it, and takes it in one gulp. He peels off his trail coat and carefully folds it into a square. He puts this on top of a stool and sits gingerly upon it.) GILLY Been in the saddle long? PEABODY Since daybreak in a cheap piece of leather, mule leather most likely, formed to another man’s posterior, on a steed mindful only of his own comfort and convenience. GILLY Not your mount? PEABODY That is the kind of question discreet strangers do not ask one another in these parts, Miss-? GILLY Gilly. (Peabody rises gravely and extends his hand.) PEABODY My very great pleasure, Miss Gilly. The name is Peabody. (He presses her hand to his lips, then sits again, painfully.) The horse is mine, as is the accursed saddle. I acquired them both two days ago in Goldfield. 10
GILLY Mr. Peabody? Or is Peabody your Christian name? PEABODY Just Peabody, unadorned and unaccompanied. I once had two other names, but they now belong to a gentleman who was holding three jacks to my nines. AMUNDSEN (Just realizing.) You’re a gambler. PEABODY That voyage we call life is a gamble, mister. We are all taking our chances. AMUNDSEN I didn’t mean.... PEABODY No offense taken. (He offers his hand. After a moment, Amundsen shakes it.) AMUNDSEN Vernon Amundsen. PEABODY Of course you meant to say, Mr. Amundsen, that I am a professional risk-taker, and you are absolutely correct. Defying the gods of chance is my trade by necessity. As is painfully evident, I have no comfort nor skills upon a horse. Cattle ignore my commands. I cannot crack a whip. I am allergic to sheep. I can do only simple sums after great effort of thought, thus shopkeeping is beyond me. I can’t shoot to save my life. I suffer from sea sickness and flat feet, therefore both the Navy and the Army must carry on without me. The cold fact is that the only way for me to eke out this miserable existence I call my own is by such simple sport as I come across in my wanderings. How about you, Mr. Amundsen? What is your vocation? AMUNDSEN Ranching. PEABODY 11
Ah, now there is a man’s life. Under the cleansing sun and heaven’s turquoise sky. A day’s sweat and an honest dollar in return. I envy you. AMUNDSEN And Miss Gilly’s aGILLY Barkeep. PEABODY Yes, I know what Miss Gilly is and I dare say she knows me as well. Every good...barkeep...sees men of my trade come and go. GILLY Not out here, we don’t. See that table? Twice a week we got a poker game up at that table. Always the same seven, eight cowhands running a nickel ante. If the pot builds past a dollar, they start to get the jitters. They don’t even trust each other. If you were to sit at that table on a Saturday night, you’d be sitting alone until well into Sunday. PEABODY The good citizens hereabouts can rest easy. I am here only to catch my breath and wet my desiccated whistle. My loyal steed threw a shoe. The smith is laboring now to advance my cause - which is to reach Virginia City by tomorrow nightfall. GILLY That’s a sound business decision. PEABODY Indeed. Besides, I could not in good conscience sit at that table. True professionals like myself are as the knights of old. We joust only against one another. Armor against armor. Steel upon steel. I speak of contests and battles for which hard-working men like Vernon here are not armed. GILLY I see what you mean. AMUNDSEN You wouldn’t let me play poker with you? 12
PEABODY Perhaps for pleasure. If I were so fortunate as to be here on a Saturday night passing the pasteboards with you and your friends, I would say to hell with gold. We would play with match sticks, like children, just for the sheer delight of playing the hands. (Gilly rolls her eyes. Amundsen does not see her.) AMUNDSEN You would play for fun? PEABODY (He takes a coin from his pocket.) See this twenty dollar gold piece? It was once part of a monstrous staggering stack of his fellows that threatened to cave in a stout oak table. It was just myself and a brother in chance across from me. The whole house was silent. The music had stopped, and the dancers stood upon their tiptoes to see over our shoulders. Every possession I had in the world was lying in that pile between us, and in my hand not even two cards alike and no draw left. But the thrill of that is just the same to me as flipping a single coin. (He flips the coin, catches it, and slaps it on the bar.) You call it, Vernon. You call it right, and I’ll buy you a drink. AMUNDSEN And if I don’t? I have to buy you? PEABODY Why shouldn't we risk it? It’s just a drink. AMUNDSEN Oh...heads. (Peabody moves his hand.) PEABODY Heads it is. Miss Gilly! A round on me. (Keeping a close eye on Peabody, Gilly 13
brings them two whiskeys.) PEABODY You know what is the most beautiful thing about a coin? It has two sides and only two sides. You got your head side and your tail side, and every time it lands, it lands either heads or tails. It is a piece of the finest craftsmanship. Pleasing to the eye. Durable. Manufactured by the United States Government to exact specifications. It is the gold standard. Not just in commerce, but in a game of chance. You see? AMUNDSEN I guess so. PEABODY Gambling to most folks means poker. Or three card monte, if your taste is for speed rather than strategy. Faro becomes the favored game as you climb up into the Sierra Nevadas. All based on the draw of cards, and all only as fair to you as are a deck of cards that has no stake in either side. But only a fool trusts paper, Vernon, because cards can be inked, shaved, colored, sharpened, bent, and misprinted. Not to mention secreted inside a sleeve or boot or taped under a tablecloth. No, sir - never bet your life or any other thing of value to you in a game which relies upon the turn of those flimsy devices. (He tosses the coin and traps it as before.) We are staring at the bottom of our glasses. Would you care to try your luck once again? AMUNDSEN Heads. (Peabody shows the coin.) PEABODY Heads it is. Ma’am? (Gilly fetches them another round, then she moves down the bar and resumes her polishing. She keeps an eye on the two and a cocked ear toward them.) PEABODY But to be fair, dice can be drilled lopside and weighted 14
with buckshot. I have seen roulette wheels which appeared to be solid hickory but had been secretly hollowed out and fitted with magnets so the drop of the ball might be subtly influenced. AMUNDSEN Damn. That ain’t right. PEABODY All for the profit of the house. You have seen such places. AMUNDSEN I was in the Silver Lady. PEABODY Exactly! You recall the wonderful array of mechanisms there, all geared and primed to lighten the customer’s purse? Well, I say: Let the simple be amazed by the clang of the slot machine, by its running fruit and gleaming case. I would rather risk my daily bread upon the fall of a simple coin taken from the safety of my own pocket. (He brings out another coin from his pocket and tosses it onto the bar.) PEABODY Is that not a work of art? Golden circles more clever than all the paintings on the east bank of Paris. And easier to fit in the purse than a canvas. But then these masterpieces are not strangers to you, ranching being the booming enterprise it is in this country. You must lose this much in your sofa cushions. You ranchers must pour them on the carpet as toys for the children. AMUNDSEN Oh...sure. PEABODY I on the other hand do not need an entire sofa to hide my fortune. Perhaps an small armchair. Too often a milking stool would suffice. Better any furniture than a bank, however. A man might as well toss his hard-earned gold back into the mine shaft as entrust it to a bank to be withdrawn at the convenience of masked desperados or spirited away into the head teller’s lunch pail. I keep mine deposited right here on my hip, where it is protected by Mr. Colt and his six associates. 15
(He pulls a snub-barreled revolver from his belt at the small of his back, shows it to Amundsen, and tucks it back.) A man has to have some persuasion on his person sometimes. AMUNDSEN I got a Winchester on my saddle. For snakes and varmints. PEABODY No doubt you mean real rattling snakes and four-legged varmints. AMUNDSEN There’s no bank here anyway. PEABODY Yet you travel openly without an iron piece visible. How is it that the cutpurses let you pass in and out of town? They know you are carrying your inspirational funds. AMUNDSEN Church money? PEABODY You may call it by another name around here. I mean those funds which ranchers carry upon their persons for increasing the herd. The yellow gleam of persuasion. Say you’re driving the family home from church meeting on a Sunday afternoon and you pass by a field in which you spy the grandest bull you have ever seen. You stop on the spot and make the owner of this magnificent animal an offer of such sudden and blinding generosity that in an instant the brute is roped up and trotting home behind your coach, the cows all swooning as you pull into your barn. You’ve got to have a double fistful of these ready upon your person(He taps the coins before him.) -to fetch that bull from his own comfortable field and not let his master think too long on the proposition. Your foresight allows you to bring the flashing lucre out (He lays a handful of coins on the bar. Vernon's eyes widen.) and deaden the sensibility of the bull's owner. It is more 16
soporific than anything Doctor Mesmer could invent. (Vernon is fixated on the pile.) Some ranchers I have known - even those with a modest spread - make sure never to leave their land without two, maybe three hundred cash dollars. That’s why I naturally assumed that a rancher like yourself would have means to protect his poke. (Amundsen makes a noncommittal shrug.) PEABODY Miss Gilly, how is it that Vernon here can carry himself so calmly about? Do you have a vigilante committee in town? Do midnight riders in black robes dangle miscreants from the old cottonwood? GILLY That would be a civic improvement. The county sheriff keeps to his office in Dayton, sixty miles due north. PEABODY Then who keeps the peace for you? Who steps in when emotions run high? (Gilly reaches beneath the bar and lifts up a huge ancient blunderbuss of a gun.) GILLY This is the Cowboy Pacifier. Like our patrons, it is loud but harmless, and rarely handled by a woman. PEABODY Very impressive. Vernon? (Amundsen nods, and Peabody flips the coin.) AMUNDSEN Heads. PEABODY Ride the hot mount? Good strategy. (He uncovers the coin.) And a sound decision. Madam, would you be so kind? 17
(Gilly puts the gun back and turns to the keg with two glasses.) PEABODY Whom shall we toast? The law-abiding citizens of - whatever is the name of this metropolis? GILLY It doesn’t have a properAMUNDSEN Pizen Switch. PEABODY Pizen Switch? What a colorful appellation. GILLY That’s not theAMUNDSEN Story I heard is this bar here was first made out of willow branches chinked up with river mud. There’s the switch. Pizen is what was sold. Sold as whisky, but tasted like pizen. GILLY That’s just cowpunchers flapping their lips. Think they are amusing when they are not. PEABODY The tale has the ring of truth to it. GILLY How can you have a respectable town if you let a bunch of shiftless, uneducated bean eaters name it for you? The folks who intend to build and live here ought to be allowed the right to a finer name than that. PEABODY I see your point. I myself favor towns named for the elemental metals, Leadville for instance. Or Goldfield, or Silver City. GILLY Greenfield is what some favor. PEABODY 18
Well, I did see some green as I rode into the valley, I guess. Very dark green. Mostly brown, but Very Dark Green and Often Brownfield is too much of a mouthful. GILLY The smith and his wife are from Greenfield, Massachusetts originally. PEABODY I can’t see traveling the breadth of an entire continent, braving Apaches, drought, floods, disease, and brush fires just to saddle your new home with the same handle as the one you risked your skin to get away from. No, I think you should name this city Amundsenville, after Vernon. AMUNDSEN Who cares what the name is? It’s just a name. PEABODY Truer words were never spoken. Upon further contemplation of the proposition, I have decided that your name is far too good for this place. AMUNDSEN Thank you. PEABODY Are we ready for another glass of...pizen? AMUNDSEN I am. I’ll stay with heads. (Peabody tosses the coin.) PEABODY Heads once more! (Gilly had already drawn them another round; she slaps the glasses down beside them.) PEABODY That is a rare streak you are having. AMUNDSEN Just lucky. 19
PEABODY Being the educated man you are, you probably realize just how lucky it is. As I said, I do not have a head for sums, but I do know a thing or two about probability. AMUNDSEN Uh huh? PEABODY (He picks up an empty glass.) Suppose this glass were a coin. Set up is heads. Upside down represents tails. Now in one throw, you get either heads or tails. Two possibilities. (He turns the glass upside down and puts it next to one which is upright.) Throw a coin twice, and it can come up heads the first time and heads the second time or heads the first time and tails the second or tails and heads or tails and tails. (He sets out four rows of two glasses in the possible states.) Four ways to throw twice. So your call of heads the first two times was only one possibility out of four. See? AMUNDSEN Sure do. PEABODY Then three throws - now the third toss could be heads or tails, so we got heads and heads and heads or heads heads tails or heads tails heads or heads tails tails or tails heads heads or tails heads tails or tails tails heads or tails tails tails. Eight outcomes from just three throws. On your third win, three heads in a row, you beat the odds one out of eight. And then you did it for a fourth time. I think Miss Gilly has enough crystal here for us to reckon that out. Here we go. (Amundsen hands him glasses one by one.) PEABODY and AMUNDSEN (Mostly in unison, they mumble.) Heads heads heads heads, heads heads heads tails, heads heads tails heads, heads heads tails tails, heads tails heads heads, heads tails heads tails, heads tails tails 20
heads, heads tails tails tails heads heads tails, heads tails tails, tails heads tails, tails tails tails.
tails, tails heads heads tails heads tails heads, tails heads heads, tails tails heads, tails tails
heads, tails tails tails
AMUNDSEN (Tapping the first row of glasses.) Sixteen! I called one out of sixteen! PEABODY And the odds against your streak seem to double with every throw. Let’s see now. If we were to throw this coin five times, there would be.... AMUNDSEN Thirty-two? PEABODY I believe you are correct. Do you see why I was astounded? Five heads in a row is but one out of thirty-two ways it could land. So logically, the odds against it coming up heads one more time isAMUNDSEN One in thirty-two? PEABODY Incredible, isn’t it? Seems like betting on the tails turning up now is the sure thing. If I were sitting on this situation at a table at the Silver Lady, I would immediately and without doubt wager everything I had on tails. Seems a waste to squander it on a small glass of very average whiskey. Oh, well.... (Peabody taps the coin against the bar as he seems to be suddenly fascinated by the mirror on the wall. Amundsen squirms on his stool and unconsciously pats his hand against his hip.) AMUNDSEN We could wager on it. PEABODY You mean bet money? Oh, no. Unthinkable. 21
AMUNDSEN How come? PEABODY Why, the odds are just too staggering. One in thirty-two! See here(He brings out some more coins from his pocket.) I’ve got only sixty dollars all told, and that’s all I have in the world besides what I wear and a horse whose name I cannot remember. To make an even bet of this - if you took the position that the next toss must give tails thirty-two to one - and I were to defend the lonely chance of five heads in a row, the proper and fair wager would be this sixty dollars here against sixty times thirty-two, which is upwards of two thousand, I would venture. AMUNDSEN Oh my gosh. PEABODY Exactly. And even you ranchers can’t be expected to carry that much, even to bet on a sure thing. All you have is that bull money, right? AMUNDSEN Right. PEABODY Which is...what, a hundred or so? AMUNDSEN Hundred and seventy-three. PEABODY See what I mean? No sensible being could expect me to risk these few pieces of pure gold - these precious jewels of the minter’s craft - against only one hundred and seventythree dollars, barely one-tenth of the fairly calculated wager. AMUNDSEN I guess not. PEABODY Though these mean nothing to me - I am by the necessities 22
of my profession numbed of the human desire to clutch mere baubles against my breast. Copper or gold, wealthy or destitute, I stay my jaded course all the same. But I would need to keep two dollars for the blacksmith’s trouble. AMUNDSEN Oh...sure thing.... PEABODY And you would pay for these drinks with your winnings? AMUNDSEN Of course. PEABODY Wait. Let us lay our offerings upon the altar, that I might resist this strong temptation. (Amundsen slowly pulls out a small leather purse and counts his coins into piles next to Peabody’s.) PEABODY This is insanity. Look at this imbalance. AMUNDSEN Yeah. PEABODY I should never drink whiskey before sundown. It makes me a damn fool, unable to resist plunging into hopeless situations. AMUNDSEN Uh huh. PEABODY Still...you insist? AMUNDSEN I guess. PEABODY You will take the certainty of tails? Thirty-two to one? AMUNDSEN Okay. 23
(Peabody prepares to throw the coin.) GILLY Vernon, I don’tPEABODY I appreciate your concern, Miss Gilly. You have a kind heart, but I am an impetuous fool. Always was, always will be. GILLY No. It’s hisPEABODY You are worried for Vernon, how he may later be overcome with remorse and guilt for gaming with a thoughtless man? For whatever comfort it gives you, I enter with eyes wide open. The wager is made between two free men of sound mind, though one be overly generous. GILLY That is theAMUNDSEN Yeah, that’s right. It’s our bet. GILLY Fine. Don’t the loser come crying to me for sympathy. (She turns her back on them.) PEABODY Here we go. (He spins the coin even higher than before, snaps it out of the air, and claps it to the bar.) PEABODY (Resignedly.) And by the odds, it must be(He uncovers it.) AMUNDSEN Heads? 24
PEABODY Well! Shit fire and save matches! What a long shot! (He sweeps up both piles of money. Gilly has turned around to watch. He tosses her the coin that was flipped.) PEABODY For your trouble, Miss Gilly. Farewell, Vernon, I think my mount awaits. Pleasure meeting you all. (He is gone in a flash, moving with none of the stiffness he displayed before. Amundsen sits paralyzed, staring at the rows of glasses.) GILLY That was your stake, wasn’t it? That was all you saved up? (Amundsen nods slowly.) GILLY Why didn’t you tell him you weren’t no rich ranch owner? Don’t you think he knew you’re nothing but a rope-puller? (Amundsen shrugs.) GILLY And how in the name of all we hold holy could you let him talk you into that bet? AMUNDSEN You saw. (He motions to the array of glasses on the bar.) I had thirty-two chances to his one. GILLY You damn fool! A coin has got two sides. Only two sides. It don’t remember. It doesn’t know how it landed in the past. Every time it goes up it can only come down heads or tails. Fifty-fifty, Vernon. You bet one hundred and seventy-three dollars against sixty on an even chance. (Amundsen seems to shrink in on himself. Gilly steps around the bar and 25
takes his arm. She stands him up and leads him toward the door. He cooperates dumbly.) GILLY This isn’t a house of charity. If you’re flush, we’re open. But you are broke. AMUNDSEN You’re closed? GILLY For you we are. Come back Saturday when you get your pay, cowboy, and we’ll have some more fun. AMUNDSEN I’m so stupid. GILLY Not anymore you aren’t. You just got one hundred and seventy-three dollars worth of lessons. Why, that’s probably six months worth of a Harvard education. AMUNDSEN You think so? GILLY Sure I do. And here’s one on the house. Never play for money with a man wearing fifty-dollar boots. (She pushes him gently out the door.) GILLY Saturday night! AMUNDSEN (O. S.) Yes, Miss Gilly. (Gilly goes back to the bar and picks up her rag. She takes one of the glasses left on the bar by the two men and begins to shine it up. She starts to sing again.) GILLY He left me for a damsel dark Each Friday night they used to spark 26
And now my love, who once was true to me Takes that dark damsel on his knee Fare thee well for I must leave thee Do not let the parting grieve thee And remember that the best of friends must part, must part Adieu, adieu kind friends, adieu, sweet adieu I can no longer stay with you, stay with you I’ll hang my harp on a weeping willow tree And may the world go well with thee
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.