CELIA, his wife
MARCUS (The Prodigal), their son
PHILIP, his brother
THE WELL-DRESSED MAN
[NARRATOR] Our story tonight draws its inspiration from one of the best
beloved parables of the Master; nor do we need to tell you which parable, for
you will recognize it for yourself, even though we have chosen to lay our
scene as of today, instead as of two thousand years ago; even though we have
used the symbols of own day in the material of our drama. Now, in a country
town of some few thousand souls, located not far from where you live, there
was a man by the name of ALEXANDER BALTUS--fairly prosperous as prosperity
went in his community. And it so happened that this man held a sum of money in
trust for his son, MARCUS. On the night on which our story opens, MARCUS
followed his father into the living room and spoke on a subject that made his
father turn in annoyance--
MR. BALTUS [the father]: Now, now, now! Don't keep pestering me this way, son!
I've told you no, once, and that should be sufficient.
MARCUS [the Prodigal]: Oh, Father, you'll give me that money in time. I'm not
worried about that. [He speaks with the easy assurance of a favourite who is
sure to get what he wants.]
BALTUS: Now, Marcus, I've told you--
MARCUS: You'll come round to it, but why keep me waiting this way?
BALTUS: Now, here comes your mother; please let's drop this discussion.
CELIA [entering]: What discussion, Alexander?
BALTUS: Oh, well--nothing much, dear--a mere trifle.
MARCUS: Oh, tell her, father; what difference does it make?
BALTUS: Well, Celia dear, Marcus--ah, Marcus--
MARCUS: Wants his money. That's all.
CELIA: Well! As though I couldn't guess. It's perfectly disgraceful, Marcus,
the way you keep after your poor father!
MARCUS [lightly]: But, Mother dear, it's the only way to get anything out of
him. You know that.
CELIA: Alexander Baltus, you're just as weak as water! Be firm!
BALTUS: Now, my dear--
CELIA: And put your foot down!
BALTUS: I do! [weakly] Constantly--but that's all the good it does me.
CELIA: Sit down, Alexander! Sit down, Marcus! We're going to thrash this thing
out right now!
BALTUS: Now, my dear Celia, I'm tired. I've been working hard all day, and I--
I want to put my feet up and rest.
CELIA: Alec, sit down.
BALTUS: Oh, very well, dear.
CELIA: Now--why do you want that money, Marcus?
MARCUS: Oh, money is rather convenient, Mother.
CELIA: Don't be flippant!
MARCUS: Well, you both look so serious that I want to brighten up the
proceedings. Eh, Dad?
BALTUS: Listen to your mother, Marcus.
MARCUS: All right, Mother; go ahead! [Sighs.]
CELIA: If your father did give you that money, what would you do with it?
MARCUS: Spend it, I assume.
CELIA: On what?
MARCUS: On myself.
CELIA: Exactly! Waste it, you mean.
MARCUS: Oh, Mother-- [resigns himself.] Oh, all right; go ahead.
CELIA: Alexander! Haven't you anything to say?
BALTUS: But, my dear Celia, you seem to be handling the case very thoroughly
CELIA: There you go, siding with him! Is it any wonder he's never settled down
to a good honest job the way you have pampered him! T-t-t-t! Some people--!
MARCUS: Oh, don't keep after Dad, Mother. Let him go and read his paper.
CELIA: Very well! Here comes your brother Philip; at least he will talk this
over with us.
MARCUS [getting hot]: Now, Mother! Keep out of it!
MARCUS: I will not discuss my affairs with him!
CELIA: Philip has every right to--
MARCUS: He may have every right in the world, but I say I will not discuss my
affairs in front of him!
PHILIP [a smooth one]: And why not, my dear boy?
MARCUS: Go and figure it out for yourself, Phil.
PHILIP: Oh, that's all right, Mother. I'm used to his rudeness. But let me
tell you one thing, Marcus! If you'd take a little more good advice once in a
while you might get along better in this town.
MARCUS: The one thing I do not want is to get along in this town; will any of
you ever understand that I'm sick of this town!
PHILIP: Is that so? Well, well! Dad, you hear that?
BALTUS: Ah--I'm reading.
CELIA: More shame that you are, Alexander!
PHILIP: Now, Marcus, I've scared up a job for you--
PHILIP: Yes; and it was no easy thing to do, the way you've been leaving every
job I've got you!
MARCUS: I don't like the jobs you get me.
PHILIP: All right; why don't you go and get one for yourself?
MARCUS: I will!
PHILIP: Well, let's talk things over first, Marcus, and see what you should
MARCUS: I will not discuss anything with you! That is final! You've been
trying to run my life ever since I was in the First Grade! You've come
tattling round to mother, and sneering at every mistake I've made. And now
that you've got through college and have your shingle out on Main Street,
you're so darned cocky that you're insufferable! You may be a good lawyer, but
as a brother you're one of the worst mistakes ever made! And if you want to
know why I'm so anxious to clear out of here, I'll give it to you straight:
It's you! You and your advice, and your sneering, and your---
PHILIP [calmly]: Well, Marcus, as far as I'm concerned you can go to the devil
from now on--
CELIA: Philip, dear!
PHILIP: And if I'm any prophet, Marcus, you will. That's the last I have to
say. Good evening. [Goes off whistling.]
CELIA: Marcus, dear, I'm sorry you quarrelled with him.
MARCUS: Oh, don't cry, Mother.
CELIA: You're breaking my heart, Marcus. You're just breaking my heart.
CELIA: Good-night. Good-night. [She goes out.]
MARCUS: Oh, what's the use. [Pause.] Dad-- Dad--
BALTUS: Yes, son?
MARCUS: I guess I might as well give up.
BALTUS: Well--I don't know. Why?
MARCUS: They've got me licked. Tears and righteousness: I can't buck that
combination. I guess I'd better take that job Phil found me--and die.
BALTUS: Do you feel it as much as that, son?
MARCUS: Yes, sir. Oh, I've been an awful trouble to you. I'd better let you
read your paper.
BALTUS: Don't go yet. Let's talk things over.
MARCUS: I guess we've all talked enough for one evening.
BALTUS: Oh, I mean--let's just talk as though I were a friend of yours--just
talking things over. Marcus, they call me weak with you, because I let go your
own way in a lot of things. Do you know why I do that?
MARCUS: I don't quite know, sir.
BALTUS: I want you to find yourself, boy. Marcus, I have five thousand dollars
in trust for you. If I give you that money, will it help you find yourself?
MARCUS: Oh, yes, sir! It will mean everything.
BALTUS: Well--I've been thinking it over, sitting over here back of this
paper--and I'm going to give you that money.
MARCUS: Dad, I don't know what to say.
BALTUS: Don't say anything. I'm not going to say anything. I'm not going to
give you any advice. I'm not going to ask you any questions. I'm going to give
you the money and put you on your own. I'm going to help you find yourself.
We'll go down to the bank first thing in the morning. Better go along to bed
now, son. Good-night.
MARCUS: Good-night, Dad. [MARCUS goes out.]
BALTUS: He's got to do it himself. He's got to do it himself.
[NARRATOR] Now let us pick up our story some weeks later. And our scene opens,
not in the quiet living room of MR. BALTUS, but in the back parlours of a
dance-hall in a city a hundred miles away. Through the heavy doors can be
heard the jangling strains of an efficient though not particularly melodious
jazz band. [Cue in music.] Round a table are a group of men, and among them
MARCUS, his voice louder than all the rest--
MARCUS: Come on your bones! [Snaps fingers.] Lemme see you seven--agggg! Those
dice won't roll for me tonight. All right four--four, four, four-- [snaps
fingers--dice roll]. Seven--aw, razzberry. All right, pick it up, Shorty. Come
on, you dark boy--shoot 'em!
SHORTY [shooting dice]: Clear de track fo me, boys; ah'm gwan to make dem
babies stand right up an' talk fo me. [Croons to dice.] Daddy's talkin' to
you, bones--roll pretty--Oh, you seven, roll your eyes fo me! Roll me a sun
and moon! Come on, you little seven, Daddy wants to hear yo talk. [Snaps
fingers, rolls dice.] Dey're y'are. Look at dat seben.
MARCUS: Pick it up, Shorty--pick it up.
SHORTY [as a spiritual]: Now, come on, bones; work hard again fo Daddy--Baby
needs a new pair ob shoes. Come on--roll me a morning star--turn right over,
you black-eyed babies--come on, you 'leben--sing fo Daddy--come seben--ah's
lonely jus' wantin' fo to see you-- [Snap and dice.]
MARCUS: You made it again. Say, you got those dice trained?
SHORTY: Trained? Yo said trained, white man?
MARCUS: I said it's funny the way you keep rolling that seven!
SHORTY: Jus' say dat again, Big Boy--but say it easy--
MARCUS: Say, all you birds! What is this game! Nobody else gets it in the neck
but me--and I've dropped God knows how much--
SADIE [enters, a woman of twenty-five]: You call yourself a sport, Marc? You
may be a sport back home in Strawberry Point, but you're all wet here.
MARCUS: Oh, that's the way you size me up? Well, I'll shoot you the wad,
Shorty; I'll shoot you the whole blamed wad!
STEVE [a down-at-the-heels drifter]: Ah, Baltus--
MARCUS: Yes, Steve?
STEVE: Come over here a minute--will you?
MARCUS [crossing to STEVE]: What do you want?
STEVE: Now, lay off the bones, Kid. They're going to give you a buggy ride.
MARCUS: My luck's got to turn.
STEVE: Now, I'm telling you; you'd better listen to me. I'm an old timer at
this, son--my advice may be worth something.
MARCUS: I guess I can look out for myself.
STEVE: Maybe you can, and maybe you can't. You've dropped a pile of money
since you've hit this town--and you're going to drop all of it if you're not
MARCUS: Well, it's mine to lose!
STEVE: Well, maybe it is; but it took somebody a long time to make that money.
Ever think of that?
MARCUS: I--I suppose it did.
STEVE: Son, maybe it's none of my business, and I'm just a bum myself, but if
I was you I'd keep clear of this crowd--yes, that girl, too--all of 'em.
MARCUS: I see you doing it!
STEVE: Well, I'm tough--and you're not.
MARCUS: Say, you're not going to preach at me, an old bum like you! I can take
care of myself--and you can take you and your advice to hell!
STEVE: All right. Go your own way. I guess you will anyhow.
SHORTY [calling to MARCUS]: Come on! Mark--
VOICES: Yes, come on over here. Shoot 'em again. Let's go---etc.
MARCUS: Shorty, I'll shoot you the wad--there it is--now cover it--and let her
go! [Puts money on floor.]
SHORTY [putting down money]: All right, white boy. I've cobered it. Gimme the
feel ob dem bones; ah's got to talk to 'em.
SADIE: Mark, your luck's going to change.
MARCUS: I'll say it's time!
SADIE: Don't worry, dearie; just hold your breath.
MARCUS: Go on, Shorty; what are you waiting for?
SHORTY: Ah takes mah time, white boy.
MARCUS: Look here--why are you fishing in your pocket?
SHORTY: Mah pocket?
MARCUS: Go on--go on and shoot!
SHORTY: Yo nerbous, white boy. All right--gimme room--ah'm gwan to make dem
bones dance! Seben, seben, seben, jus' lemme look in yo eyes--Oh, yo sun an'
moon, yo gwan to shine fo me--yo gwan to sing a song--yo seben gwan to sing a
song to me--Oh, roll, yo mornin' star--ah want to see yo shine!
MARCUS: Cut the talk, and shoot!
SHORTY: A right, boy! Come, you seben--come, 'leben! [Snaps fingers and rolls
SHORTY: Hard luck, big boy.
MARCUS [nastily]: Luck--well, was it luck?
SHORTY [turning on him]: White boy, what are yo all singin' to yoself?
MARCUS: I say it looks funny--you've won every time--all evening--and now
you've cleaned me--everything I got--
SADIE: Take it easy, dearie. Take it easy.
MARCUS: Steve told me you were going to take me on a buggy ride--and he was
right. Let's see those dice--yes! I thought so--that one's loaded! Gimme back
SHORTY [close to his face]: Yo all said--loaded?
MARCUS [white with rage]: Yes, I said it. [Picks up his money.]
SHORTY: Take yo hand off dat money, boy. I'm tellin' yo.
MARCUS: It's my money. You didn't win it fair.
SHORTY: Ah said--take off your hand from dat money!
MARCUS: You touch that money, and I'll call a cop--
SADIE: Shorty! Don't shoot!
[SHORTY hits MARCUS with butt of revolver.]
MARCUS [falls]: Oh! O--O--
SHORTY: Dere--de butt's jus' as good sometimes--
VOICES [in sudden tumult]: He'll call a cop. Let's beat it. You plastered him,
SHORTY: All right, you folks--you clear! See? Now--get--all ob yo! An' keep
goin'--De game's over. [They go out.] Good-night--one and all. [Whistles and
goes off. A pause.]
MARCUS [coming to]: Sadie--Sadie--somebody--help me--I'm--hurt--I'm--somebody
come here--I'm hurt--I'm--
STEVE [coming over]: Well, son, they trimmed yo, did they?
MARCUS [recognition]: Steve!
STEVE: Let's see your head. Hmmm. Lucky he didn't plug you.
MARCUS: He--got everything--every cent--
STEVE: I told you--Oh, well--I guess you're one of those fellows who will have
to find out for himself. Come on--get up--that's it--
MARCUS: Oh, I'm a fool--a fool!
STEVE: Well, if you're beginning to find that out you're learning something.
Come on, son--come on. You've learned something tonight, anyway.
MARCUS: Where's Sadie? Why doesn't she come? I need her now.
STEVE: Yes; you need her, and she's not here: that's another thing you've
learned tonight. It's quite an evening for you. Come along--come along to bed,
[NARRATOR] And now let us pick up the story a few weeks later. It is winter
now, and it's cold. The snow has been falling all day, and with the darkness
the wind has risen, a bitter wind that sweeps across the frozen land and hurls
the particles of frozen snow like sand in a hurricane. The scene: near a
railroad yard on the outskirts of a city. The switching engines shunt back and
forth, their piping whistles mingling with the scream of the wind; now and
then a heavy freight rumbles by on the trestle bridge, and rattles off in the
darkness. In a shanty two men crouch over a small, rusty stove, in which a
struggling fire snaps feebly. They are cold--their hands and faces are
pinched, and they draw their ragged coats about their bodies--
MARCUS: Steve, can't you make that fire burn?
STEVE: The wind's too strong, or the wood's too wet, or the stove's too full
of holes. Mebbe all three.
MARCUS: Listen to that wind!
STEVE: I don't need to listen to it; I can feel it.
MARCUS: Steve, you shouldn't have taken up with me; I've brought you nothing
but bad luck the last three months.
STEVE: Well, I'm used to bad luck. Say, stick this newspaper in your shirt.
It's as good as a fur coat.
MARCUS: Steve, you're just sticking here because of me. Hop the freight when
it comes, and go on without me.
STEVE: Oh, I guess I'll stay here.
MARCUS: You're mighty good to me; I don't know why you should be.
STEVE: Aw, razzberries! Never mind the hooie. Give that fire a poke.
MARCUS: Steve, you were right that night I lost all my money; I'm one of those
fools who finds things out too late.
STEVE: Well, if it keeps you warm talking like that--go on.
MARCUS: I haven't got any respect left for myself. I'm just--driftwood. The
worst kind of a bum. A sneak thief--and--Oh, what's the use! I might as well
go out there and lie down on the track and let a train finish me!
STEVE: Go on talking--if it keeps you warm.
MARCUS: No, I mean it! You never had a chance, Steve, but I did. I had every
chance in the world--and I wouldn't take it. I wouldn't listen to any one! I
was so darned pig-headed. And now I'm down I'm squealing like a quitter. I'm a
yellow dog, I tell you!
STEVE: Aw, buck up! Stop singing to yourself. You're lucky, and you don't know
it. You ought to have died from that wallop Shorty give you--and you didn't;
and you might be out there in that storm now, instead of in this tool house--
think that over.
MARCUS: Sometimes, Steve--sometimes I wish I had the courage to go home and
STEVE: Why don't you?
MARCUS: They'd never forgive me--not even my father--I know that.
STEVE: Then stop talking about it. [Long whistle.] Say! Ain't that a freight
MARCUS: Yes. [Whistle.] There, she whistles again.
STEVE: Kid, she's going to stop here for water. Let's hop her!
MARCUS: All right. I don't care.
STEVE: Come on!
[He starts for the door as the whistle of the freight comes closer. Then he
MARCUS: What's the matter?
STEVE: Somebody coming. [Voices are heard off.] Douse the light! [MARCUS does
MARCUS: Who do you think--
DETECTIVE [outside]: I'm sure I saw a light here.
SECOND DETECTIVE [outside]: Ya, and the lock's busted!
DETECTIVE [opening door]: Well, let's have a look. ... Here they are! [Loud.]
Now, just stay where you are, you two.
SECOND DETECTIVE: Shall I search 'em, Harry?
DETECTIVE: Aw, they ain't got a rod on 'em. They're just a couple 'a bums.
[Loud.] Come on, youse two! Get up. [MARCUS and STEVE get up.] Take 'em down
to the Sup's office, and we'll jug 'em.
SECOND DETECTIVE: Okay! [Loud.] Move, you two. Hup! [MARCUS and STEVE are
marched out ...]
[NARRATOR] The next scene is in the courthouse of a nearby city. A few
spectators sit languidly waiting for the case scheduled for trial to commence.
The court clerk yawns, watches a fly crawl across the ceiling, and wonders how
he will meet the next payment on his automobile. A stenographer looks across
the room at the young district attorney, who stands shuffling a sheaf of
papers, and hopes that he will see that she is wearing her hair in a new way.
A man out of work settles back in the last row, and goes to sleep. A small
boy, sitting beside his mother, wiggles and squirms, and wonders if the
blindfolded lady with the sword is the same as the large statue on the piano
at home. Why is she blindfolded, he wonders? And his mother sits with folded
hands, hoping that the case will have the type of detail which she relishes. A
well-dressed man in the front row polishes his spectacles, and speaks to the
WELL-DRESSED MAN: Mr. Baltus--
PHILIP: Yes, Mr. Montgomery?
WELL-DRESSED MAN: Is our case going to come to trial this morning?
PHILIP: It's on the calendar, sir.
WELL-DRESSED MAN: Well, Philip, I want you to see that those fellows get all
that's coming to them! We want this lock-breaking stopped on our road!
PHILIP: Leave it to me, sir; I've got a clear case against them.
WELL-DRESSED MAN: Well, good luck, Philip. This is your first railroad case,
and I want to see you make good. The directors will remember it. Wait a
minute--there are the prisoners. Well, one of them's a regular old bum, all
right. The other fellow looks different from the ordinary run--
PHILIP: Y-yes, sir.
WELL-DRESSED MAN: Why, what's the matter, Philip? You're staring at him as
though you knew him.
PHILIP: It's--nothing, sir. I'll--I'll do my duty, sir. You can count on me.
WELL-DRESSED MAN: All right; I'm sure you will. Make a record for yourself,
Philip. Good luck. [He pats PHILIP'S shoulder and goes out ...]
PHILIP: Ah, clerk--
CLERK: Yes, sir?
PHILIP: Tell that young fellow in the pen to come here.
CLERK: Yes, sir. [To MARCUS.] Hey, District Attorney wants to see you.
[MARCUS comes over to PHILIP'S table.]
PHILIP [quietly]: Marcus! Talk quietly--I don't want the whole world to know
who you are.
MARCUS: So--you're down here in the city, are you, Philip? District Attorney,
eh? You're doing well.
PHILIP: Rather better than you're doing, I should say.
PHILIP: I told you what you'd come to.
MARCUS: I remember.
PHILIP: Marcus, I suppose you expect me to get you out of this?
MARCUS: I don't expect anything from you.
PHILIP: Well, if that's the way you look at it--
MARCUS: I'm down; and I'll take what's coming to me.
PHILIP: Mark, if there was any way I could get you out of this, I would--but
I've got to do my duty.
MARCUS: Yes, Philip--never forget your duty. That's the boy.
CLERK: All rise--His Honour! [All rise.]
PHILIP: All right--the judge is coming--get back where you were. I'll try to
make it as light as I can.
JUDGE [entering, and sitting down]: Sit down. What is the first case on the
CLERK [droning]: Your Honour, The People vs. Steve White and Peter Smith;
breaking and entering a sealed tool house in violation of the 176th Section of
the-- [drones off with mumbles]
JUDGE: Mr. Baltus, are these men represented by counsel?
PHILIP: An' it please Your Honour, I believe not.
JUDGE: And why not? Have they been advised of their right to counsel?
PHILIP: They have no defence, Your Honour; they were caught red-handed.
JUDGE: Mr. Baltus, don't preempt the constitutional right of the accused. If
they wish counsel, I shall appoint one. [To STEVE and MARCUS.] You men--do you
realize you are liable to sentences from a year to three years?
STEVE: I don't want no lawyer, Your Honour. I got nothing to say.
JUDGE: What about your friend?
MARCUS: No, sir. I don't want counsel.
JUDGE: Baltus--ah--come up here a moment.
PHILIP [coming to JUDGE'S bench]: Sir?
JUDGE: That young fellow--he looks different from the usual bum. Who is he?
Did he tell you?
PHILIP: I--I don't know anything about him, sir.
JUDGE: Hmmm. He looks sick. Well, proceed with the case.
PHILIP [going to table and picking up papers]: An' it please Your Honour,
these men were caught on the night of January 9th, after having broken the
lock on a tool shed just west of the Brandonville Bridge--
JUDGE: The District Attorney is making a general statement, I assume? You will
have to prove these men broke the seal, Mr. Baltus.
PHILIP: Yes, Your Honour. I have my witnesses. Will you take the stand, Mr.
[DETECTIVE takes the stand.]
CLERK: Raise your right hand--Do you swear that the evidence you are about to
give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you
JONES: I do.
PHILIP: What is your name?
JONES: Harry Jones.
PHILIP: Are you employed as a detective by the C. C. & R. R. R.?
JONES: Yes, sir.
PHILIP: Where were you on the night of January 9th at about ten o'clock?
JONES: I was in the Brandonville yard, sir.
PHILIP: Will you tell the court what happened that night?
JONES: Well, I went down the cars with a lantern with that guy ... He works
with me. When we come to the tool house, we seen the lock was busted, an' we
stopped. I opened the door an' shot in a light, an' them two birds was sitting
in the shed.
PHILIP: Thank you. That's all, Mr. Jones. [DETECTIVE leaves stand.] Your
Honour, I have another witness, if you wish me to call him--
JUDGE: Just a moment. White--have you anything to say?
STEVE: Well, Your Honour, I guess not. We was in the shed all right; and I
bust the lock. We wasn't out to steal anything; it was a cold night, and this
kid was near froze. We just crawled in to get warm, sir--but that don't make
no difference, I suppose. I'm willing to take what's coming to me--but I want
to say a word for this kid--
PHILIP: Your Honour, I wish to place this man under oath--
JUDGE: Just a moment, Mr. Baltus--we'll hear what this man has to say--
PHILIP: Your Honour, if you will not allow me to cross examine the defendant,
JUDGE: Young man, this isn't the Supreme Court; you'll have to get used to my
procedure--it's sort of easy-going--but we're both after the truth, I reckon.
Go ahead, White--what about this boy?
STEVE: Your Honour, he didn't bust that lock; I did it. He's a darned fool
kid, sir--but don't send him up--he ain't done nothing--
JUDGE: Well, young man, what have you to say for yourself?
MARCUS: Nothing, sir. Nothing at all.
PHILIP: An' it please Your Honour!
JUDGE: Well, Mr. District Attorney?
PHILIP: I do not mean to be merciless. I hope I am able to temper my pleading
with mercy; but these men broke a seal in clear violation of the law. I move
for sentence--the minimum sentence, Your Honour, in the case of--of that young
man--and if I may say it here, Your Honour--I imagine that boy is where he is
today because he would not listen to good advice; and he must learn, sir, for
his own good, that there is a law, and it cannot be broken!
JUDGE: You're very eloquent, Mr. Baltus. Do you believe it will do this boy
good to send him to the penitentiary?
PHILIP: Your Honour, I would be shirking my plain duty, if I asked for
anything but justice. I rest my case, Your Honour.
JUDGE: Come here, young man--you, Peter Smith, or whatever you call yourself.
Right up here; I want to talk to you. Well, you don't look like a bad boy.
Tell me something about yourself.
MARCUS [coming to JUDGE'S bench]: I--I have nothing to tell you, sir.
JUDGE: Well, all right. Ah--got a family somewhere?
MARCUS: Y-yes, sir.
JUDGE: Sort of ashamed to have 'em find you--here?
MARCUS: Yes, sir.
JUDGE: Got a Dad?
MARCUS: Y-y-yes, sir. [Sobs.]
JUDGE: Like him?
JUDGE: He likes you--don't he?
JUDGE: Sort 'a made a mess of things haven't you?
MARCUS: Yes, sir.
JUDGE: Well--you sit down over there, son. Baltus, these men are guilty of a
violation of the law; of that there is no question; they offer no defence--
PHILIP: Your Honour, I move for sentence.
JUDGE: Well, don't move too fast, Mr. District Attorney. I may be right, and I
may be wrong, but somehow I don't think that breaking a lock on an empty tool
house on a January night is an offence worthy of three years at hard labour---
PHILIP: Your Honour! I move for a light sentence--but I do move for a
JUDGE: Mr. Baltus, there's a book called the Bible; did ever read it?
PHILIP: Yes, sir! And it says--Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he reap!
JUDGE: Yes; and there's a story in it about a boy--a boy who went away from
home, sort of foolish lad--and he wasted his substance in riotous living; and
if I had been there in that time, holding judicial office, and you had been
the attorney for the prosecution, would you have sent that Prodigal Son to
prison--or would you have sent him home to his father?
PHILIP: That--that's another case, Your Honour.
JUDGE: Well, Mr. Baltus, I think the human elements are about the same: I find
this book a pretty human old book--and sometimes it's better law than what
they pass up at the Legislature. Mr. Baltus, I'm going to give you a
commission that's very illegal--but I'll take the responsibility for that.
You're to take this boy and put him on the train and send him home. Sheriff--
take this boy out to a restaurant and feed him; Mr. Baltus will see to the
SHERIFF: All right, young man; come along. [MARCUS follows SHERIFF out.]
STEVE: Say! What's going to happen to me, Your Honour? I ain't no Prodigal
JUDGE: Ah--Thirty days.
STEVE: Thanks, Your Honour. I'll keep warm till spring.
JUDGE: All right, Clerk--the next case.
CLERK [calling out]: Samuel Oppenheimer vs. Joseph Lipitsky--
[And the mill grinds on.]
Originally broadcast: April 1, 1928
Written by William Ford Manley for
NBC's weekly half-hour anthology series,