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This eBook was produced by Charles Aldarondo and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.

Edited by E. Haldeman Julius

The Pot Boiler

A Comedy in Four Acts

Upton Sinclair

CHARACTERS IN THE "REAL-PLAY"

Will ............................. The author Peggy ................Joint author and critic Bill ..................... Their son (aged 8) Dad ............................ Will's father Schmidt......................... The grocer The Policeman. The Landlady.

CHARACTERS IN THE "PLAY-PLAY"

Jack ........................ The adventurer Bob ............................. His cousin Dad .............................. His father Jessie.............................. His sister Gladys .......................... His fiancee Belle ............................. A waitress Dolly ............................. Her sister Bill .........................A street gamin Schmidt ................ A restaurant keeper The Policeman. The Landlady. A snow shoveller. A butler.

Note: The characters of Dad, Bill, Schmidt, the Landlady and the Policeman are the same in the Real and the Play-play. The character of Jack is played by Will, and that of Belle by Peggy.

THE POT BOILER

ACT I.

SCENE.--_A transparent curtain of net extends across the stage from right to left, about six feet back of the foot-lights. Throughout the text, what goes on in front of this curtain is referred to as the Real-play; what goes on behind the curtain is the Play-play. Upon the sides of the curtain, Right and Left, is painted a representation of an attic room in a tenement house. The curtain becomes thin, practically nothing at center, so the audience sees the main action of the Play-play clearly. At Right in the Real-play is a window opening on a fire-escape, and in front of the window a cot where the child sleeps. At Left in the Real-play is a window, an entrance door, a flat-topped desk and two chairs. This setting of the Real-play remains unchanged throughout the four acts._

_The scenes of the Play-play change with each act. For Act I the set is a drawing-room in a wealthy old New York home, entrances Right-center and Left. Both front and rear scenes are lighted by many small lights, which can be turned off a few at a time, so that one scene or the other fades slowly. When the Real-play is in full light, the Play-play is dark and invisible. When the front scene is entirely dark, we see the Play-play, slightly veiled at the sides. In case of some rude interruption, the dream is gone in a flash, and the reality of the garret surrounds us. The text calls for numerous quick changes of three of the characters from the Real-play to the Play-play and back. Dialogue and business have been provided at these places to permit the changes._

AT RISE.--_The Real-play, showing_ PEGGY _putting_ BILL _to bed; she is young and pretty, he is a bright but frail child._

_Bill._ Say, Peggy!

_Peggy._ Well, Bill?

_Bill._ Can you guess.

_Peggy._ How many guesses?

_Bill._ Three.

_Peggy._ All right. I guess my little son doesn't want to go to bed!

_Bill._ Say! You guessed it!

_Peggy._ Oh, mother's great at guessing!

_Bill._ But honest, it's still light.

_Peggy._ I know--but that's because it's summertime. Don't you remember the little song? (sings)

In winter I get up at night And dress by yellow candle-light; In summer, quite the other way, I have to go to bed by day!

_Bill._ Say, Peggy--when's Will coming in?

_Peggy._ I don't know, dear. Your father's working.

_Bill._ Ain't he goin' to have any dinner?

_Peggy._ I don't know--he didn't tell me.

_Bill._ Is he writin'?

_Peggy._ Yes--or else thinking about things to write.

_Bill._ Say! He's great on writin', ain't he?

_Peggy._ You bet!

_Bill._ Do you think it's good stuff?

_Peggy._ Indeed I do, Bill!

_Bill._ You don't often tell him so.

_Peggy._ Don't I?

_Bill._ No--generally you rip him up the back.

PEGGY (laughs). Well, mother has to keep him trying, you know.

_Bill._ Say, Peggy, do you suppose I'll be an author when I grow up?

_Peggy._ Can't tell, dear--it depends.

_Bill._ Maybe I'll have to get some payin' job, hey?

_Peggy._ Where did you pick up that idea?

_Bill._ Ain't you talkin' about it all the time to him?

_Peggy._ Am I? Well, I declare! Now, come, Mr. Bill--it's after bed-time.

_Bill._ Can't I wait till Will comes?

_Peggy._ No, dear.

_Bill._ Well, will you tell him to wake me up?

_Peggy._ No, dear. I'll tell him _not_ to.

_Bill._ But Peggy, will you have him kiss me in my sleep?

_Peggy._ Yes, I'll do that. Now, there you are. A big fat kiss for mother! Now, to sleep!

_Bill._ Say, Peggy!

_Peggy._ What?

_Bill._ The people next door ain't runnin' the gramophone tonight!

_Peggy._ No, dear. Now go to sleep.

_Bill._ And the people in hack ain't singin' any coon-songs!

_Peggy._ Now go to sleep for mother. Don't speak any more.

_Bill._ Say, Peggy!

_Peggy._ Well?

_Bill._ I won't. Good night.

_Peggy._ Good-night!

(She goes Left humming to herself; sits at table, and prepares to work.)

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