[Transcriber's Note: This play transcribed from an original manuscript.
There are pencilled notations possibly by Ms. Hurston herself. These pencilled edits have been transcribed as *[Handwritten: (text)]]
Copyright 1931 by Zora *[Handwritten: Neale] Hurston
Cast of characters--
A shabby front room in a shotgun house.
A door covered by dingy portieres upstage C. Small panel
window in side Wall L. Plain centre table with chairs drawn up
about it. Gaudy calendars on wall. Battered piano against wall
R. Kerosene lamp with reflector against wall on either side of
At rise of curtain NUNKIE is at piano playing.... Others at
table with small stacks of chips before each man. TUSH HAWG is
seated at table so that he faces audience. He is expertly
riffing the cards ... looks over his shoulder and speaks to
Come on here, Nunkie--and take a hand! You're holding up the game. You
been woofin' round here about the poker you can play--now do it!
Yeah, I plays poker. I plays the piano and Gawd knows I plays the devil.
I'm Uncle Bob with a wooden leg!*[Handwritten: Last sentence crossed out
in pencil in manuscript.]
Aw, you can be had! Come on and get in the game! My
britches is cryin' for your money! Come on, don't give
the healer no trouble!*[Handwritten: last sentence crossed out in pencil]
Soon as I play the deck I'm comin' and take you alls money! Don' rush
Ace means the first time that I met you
Duece means there was nobody there but us two
Trey means the third party--Charlie was his name
Four spot means the fourth time you tried that same old game--
Five spot means five years you played me for a clown
Six spot means six feet of earth when the deal goes down
Now I'm holding the seven spot for each day of the week
Eight means eight hours that she Sheba-ed with your Sheik--
Nine spot means nine hours that I work hard every day--
Ten spot means tenth of every month I brought you home my pay--
The Jack is three-card Charlie who played me for a goat
The Queen, that's my pretty Mama, also trying to cut my throat--
The King stands for Sweet Papa Nunkie and he's goin' to wear the crown,
So be careful you all ain't broke when the deal goes down!
(He laughs--X'es to table, bringing
piano stool for seat)
Aw now, brother, two dollars for your seat before you try to sit in this
(Laughs sheepishly--puts money
down--TUSH HAWG pushes stack of chips
toward him. Bus.)
I didn't put it down because I knew you all goin' to be puttin' it right
back in my pocket.
Aw, Y'all go ahead and play.
(to TUSH HAWG)
(TUSH HAWG begins to deal for draw
poker. The game gets tense. SACK
DADDY is first man at TUSH's left--he
throws back three cards and is dealt
My luck sure is rotten! My gal must be cheatin' on me. I ain't had a
pair since John Henry had a hammer!
(Drawing three new cards)
You might be fooling the rest with the cryin' you're doin' but I'm
squattin' for you! You're cryin' worse than cryin' Emma!
(Studying his three new cards)
When yo' cards gets lucky, oh Partner, you oughter be in a rollin' game.
- [Handwritten: get you foot offa my chair etc]
(Enters through portieres--stands and
You all oughter be ashamed of yourself, gamblin' and carryin' on like
Aw, this ain't no harm, Aunt Dilsey! You go on back to bed and git your
No harm! I know all about these no-harm sins! If you don't stop this
card playin', all of you all goin' to die and go to Hell.
(Shakes warning finger--exits through
portieres--while she is talking the
men have been hiding cards out of
their hands and pulling aces out of
sleeves and vest pockets and
shoes--it is done quickly, one does
not see the other do it)
(Shoving a chip forward)
Raise you two!
I don't like to strain with nobody but it's goin' to cost you five. Come
on, you shag-nags! This hand I got is enough to pull a country man into
town. *[Handwritten: Last sentence crossed through in pencil.]
You all act like you're spuddin'! Bet some money! Put your money where
your mouth is *[Handwritten: els my fist where yo mouf is.]
Twenty-five dollars to keep my company! Dog-gone, I'm spreadin' my
And I bet you a fat man I'll take your money--I call you.
(Turns up his cards--he has four aces
(showing his cards)
Youse a liar! I ain't dealt you no aces. Don't try to carry the Pam-Pam
to me 'cause I'll gently chain-gang for you!
Oh yeah! I ain't goin' to fit no jail for you and nobody else. I'm to
get me a green club and season it over your head. Then I'll give my case
to Miss Bush and let Mother Green stand my bond! I got deal them aces!
That's a lie! Both of you is lyin'! Lyin' like the cross-ties from New
York to Key West! How can you all hold aces when I got four? Somebody is
goin' to West hell before midnight!
Don't you woof at Tush Hawg. If you do I'm goin' to bust hell wide open
with a man!
(Pulls out razor--Bus.)
My chop-axe tells me I got the only clean aces they is on this table!
Before I'll leave you all rob me outa my money, I'm goin' to die it off!
I promised the devil one man and I'm goin' to give him five!
Don't draw your bosom on me! God sent me a pistol and I'm goin' to send
him a man!
(FIRES. Bus. for all)
(Enters after shooting bus. Stands.
Bus. drops to chair)
They wouldn't lissen--
(Looks men over--Bus.)
It sure is goin' to be a whole lot tougher in hell now!
This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was legally published within the United States (or the United Nations Headquarters in New York subject to Section 7 of the United States Headquarters Agreement) before 1964, and copyright was not renewed.
The author died in 1960, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 50 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.
Works published in 1931 would have had to renew their copyright in either 1958 or 1959, i.e. at least 27 years after it was first published / registered but not later than 31 Decemberin the 28th year. As it was not renewed, it entered the public domain on 1 January 1960 .