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xiii: O'Neill as a Family Man

In the early twenties, domesticity descended on the house of Eugene O'Neill, and he made a brief appearance as a father and family man. It was a role to which he was not altogether suited and it proved a short engagement. But happily for his mother, who came to Provincetown in the fall of 1920, this was the role she saw him in -- for the first and, as it turned out, the last time in her life. Jamie accompanied her.

Jamie was charming that fall, Agnes has recalled, and he made a great hit with Gene's friends. For the first time in his life he was on the wagon. The death of his father had had -- literally -- a sobering effect on him. He had vowed that he would henceforth devote his life to taking care of his mother. So far he had kept his pledge not to take another drink. He told this to a number of people, and Art McGinley said that Jamie even spoke of his pledge in front of his mother at a dinner in New York. There was obviously a deep bond between them. "They looked at each other with deep feeling and understanding," McGinley said. "Mrs. O'Neill wore a dress made of some stiff black material. She looked very regal. There were strings of pearls around her neck and she wore all the beautiful diamonds that her husband had bought for her. James O'Neill was a great one for diamonds, he liked to shower them on his wife."

James O'Neill had left all his earthly goods to his wife, including the prairie-dog gold mines, assorted pieces of real estate, stocks or interests in oil enterprises. His estate, as his famous son phrased it, was "a tangled, chaotic affair." But Eugene noticed that his mother had suddenly developed a business instinct. It was a merciful thing, he told friends, because it had given her no time to brood. She quickly turned from being a helpless, well-bred old lady into a "keenly interested business man." Jamie -- perhaps before Eugene -- realized that she might bring to the surface the long buried treasure of Monte Cristo.

But there was no great treasure to be discovered. It seems incredible that James O'Neill could have ended up with so little to show for the countless seasons of acting the lead in a successful play of which he was the owner. Season after season he had earned $40,000, but even with Ella's good management his estate amounted to only $165,000.

The entire family had Thanksgiving Day dinner together in Provincetown. Shane was just a year old. The grownups, especially Grandmother O'Neill, made a great fuss over him. Eugene was carefree and for once not weighed down by his real or imagined responsibilities. He told his mother and brother, and friends as well, that he was going to stay on at Peaked Hill. But as his fame grew, the place became less and less isolated from the world.

"Peaked Hill became a shrine," Mary Vorse has said. "Writers, students, tourists, everybody trekked out to the dunes to see what Gene looked like, to pay their respect as if they were pilgrims. Gene didn't like it. Eventually, this sort of thing caused him to leave Provincetown."

Only a few of the visitors who came to Peaked Hill ever noticed Shane, who was taken care of by his nurse, Madame Fifine Foucher Clark, whom Shane called Gaga. Madame Clark had been born in France and when Agnes found her was working as housekeeper for a Provincetown antique and junk dealer. Madame Clark's employer had a circular sign which read "Antiques" for the benefit of the summer people. After Labor Day he turned the sign around and it read "Old Junk."

There were many potential playmates for Shane those summers at Provincetown -- the Hutchins Hapgoods had children, so did Edith and Frank Shay, and the Wilbur Daniel Steeles, and Susan Glaspell and Jig Cook, and the Lucian Careys. But these families lived in town. It took them an hour or so to get out to the O'Neills'; furthermore, knowing Gene O'Neill, they understood they could not casually drop in.

One of the visitors who came to Peaked Hill wrote: "It is a desolation of sand and sea, but very beautiful -- also very remote! Few persons could plow through the soft sand to reach it; fewer still would do so. From it, not another house is to be seen. The only human habitations are the new Coast Guard station, a quarter of a mile away, and a small shack. But these are hidden by the hills of sand."

In late fall, when the cold and the storms drove them out, the O'Neills rented a winter house in Provincetown. O'Neill had to go to New York now and then for rehearsals of his plays, and at these times Shane missed him terribly. He used to point at his father's photograph and smile and say, "Daddee, Daddee."

Whenever the O'Neill family settled down, the primary requirement was a workshop for the father. Shane, and later Oona, had to learn that they must never disturb their father while he was at work. Eugene was erratic in his behavior with Shane. At times he would get very interested and play with the baby, but then he "quickly tired" of it. The one world in which Shane and his father did meet freely was the world at the edge of the sea. O'Neill's writing schedule included daily interruptions for his swimming. The children waited at the edge of the sea for their father to emerge like some half-human, half-sea creature come ashore. Then they ran toward him, shrieking with delight.

The O'Neills had a dog called Matt Burke, after the character in Anna Christie. One day, while Shane was holding a piece of meat in his hand and making Matt jump for it, higher and higher, Matt snapped and missed, and sank his teeth into Shane's cheek. Agnes and Gene realized that the quickest way to get the wound treated would be to start walking immediately to Provincetown. Carrying the child, they went straight to Mary Vorse's house and called the doctor. Shane stayed on for several days at Mary Vorse's, where it was easier for the doctor to change his dressings. His face still bears the marks of Matt Burke's teeth.

O'Neill wrote two plays that fall of 1920. The first was the two-act drama, Diff'rent, which presents two episodes, thirty years apart, in the tragically unfulfilled love life of a New England girl. In the first act, set in 1890, Emma Crosby breaks her engagement with sea captain Caleb Williams when she learns that he once succumbed to the enticements of a seductive and enterprising South Sea Islands girl. Caleb vows to wait for thirty years, if necessary, for Emma to change her mind. The second act, set in 1920, shows Emma as a lonely, repressed old maid in love with Benny, the twenty-year-old World War veteran, ne'er-do-well nephew of her old suitor. When Caleb tries to warn her of the folly of her attachment, she quarrels with him. Benny, who has been interested only in the occasional gifts of money that he has been receiving from her, now heartlessly reveals his plan to extort "real money" from the uncle by offering to let the old captain buy him off. But Caleb has gone to the barn and hanged himself. Benny is called to the barn, and grief-stricken Emma is on her way to end her own life when the curtain falls.

Diff'rent was presented at the Playwrights' Theater on December 27, 1920, and was not well received; among the critics, only George Jean Nathan said he liked it. Although the action of the play in general proceeds logically from the characterization, the resolution seems spurious; it would take a rather humorless man and woman to feel that suicide was the only way out of the situation depicted in the play. But O'Neill himself was often humorless, and perhaps the hundred and one alternatives that would have been more dramatically satisfying never even occurred to him.

Meanwhile, Gold remained unproduced, as did The Straw. Eugene told friends he was convinced there was a curse on him. Despite having a hit in Beyond the Horizon and winning a Pulitzer Prize, he still felt that he was being dogged by misfortune.

The other play he wrote that fall was based on an idea he had had for some time. It had come to him some years before in a bar at the old Garden Hotel at Madison Avenue and Twenty-seventh Street. Among the habitués of the bar was an old circus man who talked entertainingly. One night he talked about a man named Vilbrun Guillaume Sam who had seized control of the island of Haiti. As President Sam, he lasted about six months, and then the natives went after him. This strong, arrogant, superstitious, bold ruler had taken refuge finally in the French legation at Port au Prince.

"They'll never get me with a lead bullet. I'll kill myself with a silver bullet first. Only a silver bullet can kill me," he told his followers.

O'Neill was fascinated by the man's belief that only a silver bullet could kill him. Had he known that the silver-bullet idea appears in folk cultures the world over, he might have been less struck by it. Then O'Neill got another idea. "One day I was reading," he has said, "of the religious feasts in the Congo and the uses to which the drum is put there -- how it starts at a normal pulse and is slowly accelerated until the heartbeat of everyone present corresponds to the frenzied beat of the drum. Here was an idea for an experiment. How could this sort of thing work on an audience in a theater?"

Again, O'Neill's lack of erudition stood him well. In 1906, fourteen years before, Austin Strong had written a melodrama, The Drums of Oude, which employed slow, stepped-up drumbeats to excite an audience. James Light, O'Neill's friend and colleague in the Provincetown Players, who was to direct several productions of this new O'Neill play, has said that O'Neill did not get the drumbeat idea exactly right. The trick, according to Light, was to begin the tempo of the drums below the level of the normal pulse beat of seventy-eight per minute -- to, say, about thirty-five -- then increase the beat imperceptibly.

The third idea that went into O'Neill's creation of The Emperor Jones was having a dense forest "close in" the stage. He had carried back from Honduras the effect of "tropical forest on the imagination."

O'Neill read The Emperor Jones to Susan Glaspell and her husband, Jig Cook, early in the fall of 1920. The Provincetown Players, with Cook directing, went immediately into rehearsal. The production cost $502.38, most of it going into a plaster-and-lathe dome which the Provincetown Players, with the help of Louis Ell, built on the stage of The Playwrights' Theater on Macdougal Street, where The Emperor Jones opened on November 3, 1920. Its impact on the critics and the public thrust the Provincetown Players and O'Neill into world prominence.

O'Neill fused the various elements into the story of Brutus Jones, deposed as head of the Negroes on an island kingdom, hunted, obsessed by fear. He is trying to make his way through the thick, dark jungle, and the drums of his former subjects beat out the message that he must die. Although not the best play that Eugene O'Neill ever wrote, it is in many ways the most theatrical -- the most theatrical play by the most theatrical playwright of his time.

The usually caustic Alexander Woollcott wrote in the Times that the Provincetown Players had launched their new season "with the impetus of a new play by the as yet unbridled Eugene O'Neill, an extraordinarily striking and dramatic study of panic fear. It reinforces the impression that for strength and originality he has no rival among the American writers for the stage."

The lead was played by Charles Gilpin, who had played the slave in John Drinkwater Abraham Lincoln. He received a salary of fifty dollars a week. His success in The Emperor ruined him. He began to think he was an emperor, an illusion not difficult to sustain on bootleg whisky, which he consumed in enormous quantities even when he was acting the part on the stage.

On the morning after the opening, there was a line about a block long leading to the box office. One had to be a subscriber to the Provincetown Players to see The Emperor, and a thousand new ones were enrolled in one week. The play was scheduled to run a fortnight but this was extended to eight weeks, after which it was taken uptown for a series of matinees. After five weeks of matinees it began a regular engagement and played 490 performances in New York before going out on the road.

Soon productions of The Emperor Jones were offered on the stages of Buenos Aires, Paris, London, Berlin, even Tokyo. Some reports of the foreign productions annoyed O'Neill. In the Berlin production, natives ran back and forth across the stage -- which was, of course, entirely contrary to the sense of the play. Brutus Jones's panic was translated into many languages, his actions were understandable in many cultures.

Though the play laid the foundation for O'Neill's world-wide reputation, nevertheless he was still so hard up that he told a friend that if he didn't get a commercial production soon he was going to have to give up writing. For the first time he asked the Provincetown Players to give him some royalties on The Emperor Jones. They gave him "fifty dollars a week to keep going."

O'Neill was proud in the face of needing money. Speaking of his lack of means to George Tyler, the producer, he said he wasn't making a veiled hint for financial assistance; he didn't want anything from anyone and wouldn't accept it if offered. Tyler wanted to put a new production of The Count of Monte Cristo on Broadway and asked O'Neill to write a new version. Eugene said he would do it only if he could make Monte Cristo into something entirely new, discarding everything he thought was cheap and dishonest. He wanted to make the characters human beings and he wanted a new staging; he would make the play better than the novel, something far surpassing any of the old melodramas of his father's era. Nothing ever came of this scheme, however. What O'Neill really wanted was to get The Straw and the new Chris into production.

O'Neill grew more and more bitter about his lack of money in 1921. As a family man with Agnes and Shane to care for, he was increasingly weighed down by his responsibilities. He might just as well be the scurviest typewriter puncher among playwrights, he said, for the condition he was in. Being known in the drama columns as the great hope of the theater made him laugh. It would be more practical to play roulette for a living. It would certainly be more amusing. He also complained that uncertainty about production made it difficult for him to get his writing done.

Despite his despondency, he spent the early months of 1921 writing The First Man, and the spring writing The Fountain. The First Man, which was produced in March, 1922, at the Neighborhood Playhouse, was a failure. In it, a scientist is about to set forth on an expedition in search of the earliest traces of man. He intends to take his wife with him but she gets pregnant. The scientist thinks his career is ruined because he cannot go. His wife dies giving birth, and his relatives try to prove the child is not his. They try to prevent him from going on the expedition, saying it will "look bad," but he leaves, shouting that he will return to teach his son "to know a big, free life." The First Man has been called an ambitious failure; it certainly is a failure, ambitious or otherwise. The talk is seemingly endless and action does not grow out of character. Fortunately, this play was a departure for O'Neill. Every so often he decided that he was an intellectual and wrote what might be called "think plays." The results added little to his stature.

O'Neill was in New York for a ten-day stay in March. He wanted to talk to Tyler, who planned to cast Margalo Gillmore in The Straw. O'Neill thought her "too inexperienced," but when the play was produced Miss Gillmore played the lead. Tyler urged O'Neill to see Miss Gillmore perform in the Boston opening, but O'Neill was reluctant to meet the actresses in any of his plays. When Tyler charged him with being shy with young ladies, O'Neill was quick to reply that he was now a family man. Before his marriage, he boasted, he was not so particular. His new virtue, he said, was keenly appreciated by his wife, and Tyler should not scoff.

It was true that O'Neill refused to mingle with actors and actresses. It was almost as if he had contempt for them, in spite of, or perhaps because of, the fact that it had been his father's profession. In one way this was an advantage, for in the casting of his plays O'Neill was never subject to pressure through personal friendships.

John D. Williams produced Gold in June, but it was not a success. Tyler wrote O'Neill not to worry. O'Neill replied that he wouldn't, but that the tax collectors, the landlords, the grocers, the butchers and "other canaille" were going to have to worry if he didn't.

Tyler lost his option on the new Chris, now called Anna Christie. The Theatre Guild had planned, for a time, to take over his option but later dropped the idea. Finally, Nathan prodded Arthur Hopkins into producing Anna. O'Neill now had two shows moving into commercial production for the fall, but his heart seemed to be in Anna and he did not attend rehearsals for The Straw. Also, Jimmy Light was directing the cast for the London production of Emperor, and O'Neill hoped to go there. The new lead was a young unknown Negro baritone named Paul Robeson.

In the fall of 1921, Agnes and Eugene took an apartment on the upper East Side, in the house in which Robert Edmond Jones had a bachelor apartment. "Bobby" Jones was one of the Provincetown group and without question was the most talented stage designer of his time. He and O'Neill were constantly experimenting with different and imaginative ways of staging productions. Jones was very close to O'Neill and stayed with Agnes and Gene for long periods. Agnes didn't like staying in Provincetown when Gene was in New York on theatrical business. For one thing, she knew he did a good deal of drinking in New York. When he was missing he could generally be found at the Hell Hole, sitting with his old down-and-out friends at one of the tables in the back room, or "sleeping it off" upstairs in one of the furnished rooms.

Anna Christie opened November 2, 1921, at the Vanderbilt Theatre. "The Old Davil," as O'Neill had been calling the play that had caused him so much trouble, was well received by both reviewers and audiences. But even though O'Neill was awarded his second Pulitzer Prize, there was some critical kidding about Anna's "happy ending," and O'Neill, a man who took himself and his art very seriously, was not at all amused. He was hurt that people could think him capable of writing anything so dishonest as a happy ending to please the public. "The play has no ending," he said. "The curtain falls. Behind it their lives go on."

Agnes arranged a party at their apartment after the opening. O'Neill was terrified. Pauline Lord, the actress, who played the lead, found him in the bathroom sitting unsteadily on the edge of the tub; beads of perspiration stood out on his forehead, and he was sick to his stomach.

Meanwhile, Tyler had been working on The Straw. One of the places he tried it out was New London. Some of the O'Neill relatives in the town were furious because they felt that he had made fun of them in his portrayal of low-class Irish. The Straw opened in New York November 10, was panned, and closed in a few nights. Tyler blamed the subject matter, which was depressing and, to some, distasteful. O'Neill, who never saw it played, ascribed its failure to the fact that he had not attended rehearsals.

Late in 1921, O'Neill went back to Provincetown and set to work on The Hairy Ape, finishing it up in three weeks. He interrupted his work only to go to New York to see his mother and Jamie before they left for California. They were going to sell an orange grove, one of the interesting parcels of real estate bequeathed by James O'Neill.

That winter, Eugene met his first-born son for the first time in eleven years. Kathleen had married Pitt-Smith when Eugene junior was only a few years old, and the boy had been brought up as Richard Pitt-Smith. Early in 1922, as Anna Christie became more and more talked about, a friend of Kathleen's, a lawyer who had helped her get her divorce from O'Neill, called her attention to the fact that the play was a hit. He reasoned that O'Neill was probably making a lot of money. (Actually, he made only $9,360 out of Anna's 177 New York performances.) The lawyer felt that now might be a good time to suggest that the playwright pay for their son's education. Kathleen agreed to let the lawyer make the suggestion to O'Neill. It was a hard decision for her to make. It would mean telling Eugene junior who his real father was.

Young Eugene, approaching his twelfth birthday, was not a happy boy. He had not adjusted well to school. A few years before, his mother, acting in accordance with a then honored notion about difficult boys, packed him off to a military school in the Hudson Valley. He ran away twice. The first time, when he arrived at home his mother told him not to take his coat off -- he was going straight back. The second time he anticipated that the agent at the local railroad station had been asked to detain him, so he walked farther down the river, to the next station. He kept this up, and the school authorities eventually alerted all the stations down the line toward New York. Obviously, he was not the type of boy who would benefit from military school.

O'Neill was friendly to the lawyer's overture. He said that not only would he undertake his son's education but he also would like to meet his son. Kathleen took Eugene by subway as far as the entrance of the building in which O'Neill lived. She told him that he was not Richard Pitt-Smith, that his real father was a very famous man. He should ask for Eugene O'Neill's apartment and he would meet his father. Then she left.

O'Neill was shy and embarrassed, Agnes has recalled, but the meeting went off well. Though surprised to learn that Gene had been married and had another child, Agnes was delighted at the prospect of welcoming a second son into the group. She herself had had a daughter by a previous marriage. She told Eugene junior that he must come often and must visit them at Peaked Hill.

For his part, Eugene junior was delighted with his new father. He found him easy to talk with and interested in the same things he was interested in. When he returned home to his mother he told her that he was luckier, he felt, than most boys. "I had one father and now I have two."

Kathleen was glad things had gone well but, as she told a friend, "I feel peculiar. They hit it off so well that I feel that I'm losing my son."

Later, Eugene junior visited his father and Agnes in Provincetown. When he returned home to his mother he carried a letter from O'Neill to Kathleen. The letter has been destroyed, but a friend of Kathleen's who read it has said, "The letter gave Kathleen full credit for the fine boy she'd raised. O'Neill was full of praise for the way he had been brought up, said he was such a brilliant boy."

O'Neill decided that young Eugene had an excellent mind and should go to a first-rate college. He paid the boy's way at the Horace Mann School for Boys, a preparatory school in the Bronx, and Eugene junior turned, almost overnight, into a serious and hard-working student. His best subjects were English and music, in which he received grades of ninety, and he began writing for the school literary magazine. At least one of his masters early noted, however, that the boy was insecure and highly sensitive.

"He was very touchy," the master has said, "about anyone making reference to his father. He acted as if he felt very much unwanted. Often I had the feeling that he was convinced that he was illegitimate. But he was brilliant and made a fine scholastic record here."

The Hairy Ape, a play in eight scenes, opened at the Playwrights' Theater on March 9, 1922, with Louis Wolheim and Mary Blair in the principal roles. James Light directed, and Robert Edmond Jones and Cleon Throckmorton designed the sets. In this play, more clearly than in any other, O'Neill revealed one of the anxieties that haunted him throughout his life -- the fear of rejection, or of not "belonging."

The story derives from the unexplained suicide of Driscoll, a one-time shipmate of O'Neill's, and a fellow customer at Jimmy the Priest's. O'Neill, along with others who knew the man, tried to imagine the explanation. Drawing upon his own experience with the impulse toward self-destruction, O'Neill envisioned Driscoll as having suffered the loss of his feeling of belonging. In the manner of subjective thinkers, he also jumped to the generalization that the actuality of not belonging was a condition that threatened all mankind.

In writing the play, then, O'Neill set out to express in dramatic form the concept that man "has lost his old harmony with nature, the harmony which he used to have as an animal and has not acquired in a spiritual way." The result was dramatized philosophy rather than a persuasive drama involving credible, individual human characters.

The play tells the story of a powerful stoker, Yank, who "Belongs" wherever brute strength is the measure of a man, and for whom no other standards exist. He is at work in the boiler room of his ship when a bored society girl drops in on a sightseeing visit. She is overcome with revulsion at the sight of the coal-blackened Yank and exclaims, "Oh, the filthy beast!" Fainting, she is led from the room, and Yank is restrained when he goes after her. His feeling of belonging has been shaken, and he swears he will "get even." In a succession of short scenes he is shown in search of revenge against the girl and the society she represents. He is arrested for jostling well-dressed Fifth Avenue promenaders and is thrown into jail. There he learns something about the I.W.W. After his release he goes to an I.W.W. meeting and is thrown out because his direct-action proposals are too violent for the group. In the final scene, in the zoo, he sets free a gorilla, which crushes him in its arms and tosses him into the empty cage. There Yank dies. In his stage direction in the very last line of the script, O'Neill suggests that "perhaps the Hairy Ape at last belongs."

A few days before the opening, O'Neill learned that his mother had died of a brain tumor on the last day of February, 1922, in Los Angeles. The orange grove had been sold and the money was in Jamie's name. He sent word that he was bringing her body back to New York by train. When Agnes and Eugene met the train and located Jamie, he was roaring drunk. He told his brother that while their mother was ill in the hospital, he had gone off the wagon. His mother had fallen into unconsciousness and he was beside himself with grief. After getting drunk, he returned to the hospital and stood at the foot of her bed. She opened her eyes, he said, just long enough to see that he was drunk again. Then, Jamie said, she closed her eyes and died -- "glad to die," Jamie was sure.

He repeated this harrowing tale over and over again as long as he lived. He told strangers that when he brought his dead mother back from the Coast, he took a drawing room on the transcontinental train and stocked it with a case of whisky. As the train made its way on its eastward journey, he got drunker and drunker. He did not stay in his stateroom but wandered, or rather reeled, up and down the cars, searching for drinking companions. He became so objectionable that the conductor threatened to put him off the train if he didn't behave.

Then, he said, he devised another method of passing the time and trying to forget that his mother was up ahead, lying dead in her coffin. In A Moon for the Misbegotten, O'Neill has James Tyrone, the character representing his brother, explain the details of this horror-ridden journey.

"But I'd spotted," James Tyrone tells Josie, the big Connecticut farm girl, "one passenger who was used to drunks and could pretend to like them, if there was enough dough in it. She had parlor house written all over her -- a blond pig who looked more like a whore than twenty-five whores, with a face like an overgrown doll's and a come-on smile as cold as a polar bear's feet. I bribed the porter to take a message to her and that night she sneaked into my drawing room. She was bound for New York. So every night -- for fifty bucks a night. . ." But "I didn't even forget in that pig's arms."

This was substantially the same story that Jamie told over and over again, sometimes lasping into an old tear-jerker ballad of the 1890's:

And baby's cries can't waken her In the baggage coach ahead.

In Moon for the Misbegotten, Eugene went into even greater detail about Jamie and the death of his mother. James Tyrone, Jr., tells Josie: "When Mama died, I'd been on the wagon for nearly two years. Not even a glass of beer. Honestly. And I know I would have stayed on. For her sake. She had no one but me. The old man was dead. My brother had married -- had a kid -- had his own life to live. She'd lost him. She had only me to attend to things for her and take care of her."

He adds, however, "But there are things I can never forget -the undertakers, and her body in a coffin with her face made up. I couldn't hardly recognize her. She looked young and pretty like someone I remembered meeting long ago. Practically a stranger. To whom I was a stranger. Cold and indifferent. Not worried about me any more. Free at last. Free from worry. From pain. From me. I stood looking down on her, and something happened to me. I found I couldn't feel anything."

In a number of the plays he wrote, Eugene put a coffin on the stage. Seeing the dead bodies of his father and mother had had a deep effect on him.

After the requiem Mass in New York, Ella's body was taken to New London, the town she had never particularly liked, and where she had never made many friends. She was laid to rest in St. Mary's Cemetery, in the plot her husband had purchased almost forty years before.

Eugene received a half share in his mother's estate, amounting to approximately $56,000.

Meanwhile, the success scored by The Hairy Ape brought it to the attention of Arthur Hopkins, who contracted to produce it uptown at the Plymouth Theatre. An immediate casualty of this move was Mary Blair. It was now thought that her part called for an actress who looked more like a society woman. The actress finally chosen was Carlotta Monterey, an extremely beautiful woman who was just about to marry the artist Ralph Barton. O'Neill did not have anything to do with the casting. James Light has recalled that Carlotta kept after him to introduce her to the author.

"We all liked Carlotta backstage," Light said. "She was great fun. I told her I'd introduce her to Gene but it was not easy. You know how he made himself scarce at rehearsals. One afternoon, Gene and I were standing after a rehearsal at the back of the audience room Carlotta came up to me and asked to be introduced to 'Mr. O'Neill.' I introduced her. Gene was embarrassed and Carlotta departed through the lobby.

"'What was that for?' Gene asked.

"'You come to the theater,' I told him. 'All the gals go for you. There's only a single gal in this play.'"

O'Neill believed that chance sometimes played a decisive role in the lives of men. The development of his story of The Hairy Ape turned on such fortuitousness. In his own life, the apparently insignificant incident of his meeting with Carlotta Monterey was to be repeated in a similarly accidental way; but on the second occurrence it was to bring about a complete break with his previous way of living and with the family that had been a part of it.

The Country Squire

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