Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
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Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
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ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
By JOHN GALSWORTHY
The Silver Box
The Eldest Son
The Little Dream
A Bit O' Love
The Skin Game
Six Short Plays:
The First and The Last
The Little Man
Punch and Go
A Family Man
THE SILVER BOX
THE SILVER BOX
A COMEDY IN THREE ACTS
PERSONS OF THE PLAY
JOHN BARTHWICK, M.P., a wealthy Liberal
MRS. BARTHWICK, his wife
JACK BARTHWICK, their son
ROPER, their solicitor
MRS. JONES, their charwoman
MARLOW, their manservant
WHEELER, their maidservant
JONES, the stranger within their gates
MRS. SEDDON, a landlady
SNOW, a detective
A POLICE MAGISTRATE
AN UNKNOWN LADY, from beyond
TWO LITTLE GIRLS, homeless
LIVENS, their father
A RELIEVING OFFICER
A MAGISTRATE'S CLERK
POLICEMEN, CLERKS, AND OTHERS
TIME: The present. The action of the first two Acts takes place on
Easter Tuesday; the action of the third on Easter Wednesday week.
SCENE I. Rockingham Gate. John Barthwick's dining-room.
SCENE II. The same.
SCENE III. The same.
SCENE I. The Jones's lodgings, Merthyr Street.
SCENE II. John Barthwick's dining-room.
ACT III. A London police court.
The curtain rises on the BARTHWICK'S dining-room, large,
modern, and well furnished; the window curtains drawn.
Electric light is burning. On the large round dining-table is
set out a tray with whisky, a syphon, and a silver
cigarette-box. It is past midnight.
A fumbling is heard outside the door. It is opened suddenly;
JACK BARTHWICK seems to fall into the room. He stands holding
by the door knob, staring before him, with a beatific smile.
He is in evening dress and opera hat, and carries in his hand a
sky-blue velvet lady's reticule. His boyish face is freshly
coloured and clean-shaven. An overcoat is hanging on his arm.
JACK. Hello! I've got home all ri----[Defiantly.] Who says I
sh'd never 've opened th' door without 'sistance. [He staggers in,
fumbling with the reticule. A lady's handkerchief and purse of
crimson silk fall out.] Serve her joll' well right--everything
droppin' out. Th' cat. I 've scored her off--I 've got her bag.
[He swings the reticule.] Serves her joly' well right. [He takes a
cigarette out of the silver box and puts it in his mouth.] Never
gave tha' fellow anything! [He hunts through all his pockets and
pulls a shilling out; it drops and rolls away. He looks for it.]
Beastly shilling! [He looks again.] Base ingratitude! Absolutely
nothing. [He laughs.] Mus' tell him I've got absolutely nothing.
[He lurches through the door and down a corridor, and presently
returns, followed by JONES, who is advanced in liquor. JONES,
about thirty years of age, has hollow cheeks, black circles
round his eyes, and rusty clothes: He looks as though he might
be unemployed, and enters in a hang-dog manner.]
JACK. Sh! sh! sh! Don't you make a noise, whatever you do. Shu'
the door, an' have a drink. [Very solemnly.] You helped me to open
the door--I 've got nothin, for you. This is my house. My father's
name's Barthwick; he's Member of Parliament--Liberal Member of
Parliament: I've told you that before. Have a drink! [He pours out
whisky and drinks it up.] I'm not drunk [Subsiding on a sofa.]
Tha's all right. Wha's your name? My name's Barthwick, so's my
father's; I'm a Liberal too--wha're you?
JONES. [In a thick, sardonic voice.] I'm a bloomin' Conservative.
My name's Jones! My wife works 'ere; she's the char; she works
JACK. Jones? [He laughs.] There's 'nother Jones at College with
me. I'm not a Socialist myself; I'm a Liberal--there's ve--lill
difference, because of the principles of the Lib--Liberal Party.
We're all equal before the law--tha's rot, tha's silly. [Laughs.]
Wha' was I about to say? Give me some whisky.
[JONES gives him the whisky he desires, together with a squirt
Wha' I was goin' tell you was--I 've had a row with her. [He waves
the reticule.] Have a drink, Jonessh 'd never have got in without
you--tha 's why I 'm giving you a drink. Don' care who knows I've
scored her off. Th' cat! [He throws his feet up on the sofa.]
Don' you make a noise, whatever you do. You pour out a drink--you
make yourself good long, long drink--you take cigarette--you take
anything you like. Sh'd never have got in without you. [Closing
his eyes.] You're a Tory--you're a Tory Socialist. I'm Liberal
myself--have a drink--I 'm an excel'nt chap.
[His head drops back. He, smiling, falls asleep, and JONES
stands looking at him; then, snatching up JACK's glass, he
drinks it off. He picks the reticule from off JACK'S
shirt-front, holds it to the light, and smells at it.]
JONES. Been on the tiles and brought 'ome some of yer cat's fur.
[He stuffs it into JACK's breast pocket.]
JACK. [Murmuring.] I 've scored you off! You cat!
[JONES looks around him furtively; he pours out whisky and
drinks it. From the silver box he takes a cigarette, puffs at
it, and drinks more whisky. There is no sobriety left in him.]
JONES. Fat lot o' things they've got 'ere! [He sees the crimson
purse lying on the floor.] More cat's fur. Puss, puss! [He
fingers it, drops it on the tray, and looks at JACK.] Calf! Fat
calf! [He sees his own presentment in a mirror. Lifting his hands,
with fingers spread, he stares at it; then looks again at JACK,
clenching his fist as if to batter in his sleeping, smiling face.
Suddenly he tilts the rest o f the whisky into the glass and drinks
it. With cunning glee he takes the silver box and purse and pockets
them.] I 'll score you off too, that 's wot I 'll do!
[He gives a little snarling laugh and lurches to the door. His
shoulder rubs against the switch; the light goes out. There is
a sound as of a closing outer door.]
The curtain falls.
The curtain rises again at once.
In the BARTHWICK'S dining-room. JACK is still asleep; the
morning light is coming through the curtains. The time is
half-past eight. WHEELER, brisk person enters with a dust-pan,
and MRS. JONES more slowly with a scuttle.
WHEELER. [Drawing the curtains.] That precious husband of yours
was round for you after you'd gone yesterday, Mrs. Jones. Wanted
your money for drink, I suppose. He hangs about the corner here
half the time. I saw him outside the "Goat and Bells" when I went
to the post last night. If I were you I would n't live with him. I
would n't live with a man that raised his hand to me. I wouldn't
put up with it. Why don't you take your children and leave him? If
you put up with 'im it'll only make him worse. I never can see why,
because a man's married you, he should knock you about.
MRS. JONES. [Slim, dark-eyed, and dark-haired; oval-faced, and with
a smooth, soft, even voice; her manner patient, her way of talking
quite impersonal; she wears a blue linen dress, and boots with
holes.] It was nearly two last night before he come home, and he
wasn't himself. He made me get up, and he knocked me about; he
didn't seem to know what he was saying or doing. Of course I would
leave him, but I'm really afraid of what he'd do to me. He 's such
a violent man when he's not himself.
WHEELER. Why don't you get him locked up? You'll never have any
peace until you get him locked up. If I were you I'd go to the
police court tomorrow. That's what I would do.
MRS. JONES. Of course I ought to go, because he does treat me so
badly when he's not himself. But you see, Bettina, he has a very
hard time--he 's been out of work two months, and it preys upon his
mind. When he's in work he behaves himself much better. It's when
he's out of work that he's so violent.
WHEELER. Well, if you won't take any steps you 'll never get rid of
MRS. JONES. Of course it's very wearing to me; I don't get my sleep
at nights. And it 's not as if I were getting help from him,
because I have to do for the children and all of us. And he throws
such dreadful things up at me, talks of my having men to follow me
about. Such a thing never happens; no man ever speaks to me. And
of course, it's just the other way. It's what he does that's wrong
and makes me so unhappy. And then he 's always threatenin' to cut
my throat if I leave him. It's all the drink, and things preying on
his mind; he 's not a bad man really. Sometimes he'll speak quite
kind to me, but I've stood so much from him, I don't feel it in me
to speak kind back, but just keep myself to myself. And he's all
right with the children too, except when he's not himself.
WHEELER. You mean when he's drunk, the beauty.
MRS. JONES. Yes. [Without change of voice] There's the young
gentleman asleep on the sofa.
[They both look silently at Jack.]
MRS. JONES. [At last, in her soft voice.] He does n't look quite
WHEELER. He's a young limb, that's what he is. It 's my belief he
was tipsy last night, like your husband. It 's another kind of
bein' out of work that sets him to drink. I 'll go and tell Marlow.
This is his job.
[Mrs. Jones, upon her knees, begins a gentle sweeping.]
JACK. [Waking.] Who's there? What is it?
MRS. JONES. It's me, sir, Mrs. Jones.
JACK. [Sitting up and looking round.] Where is it--what--what time
MRS. JONES. It's getting on for nine o'clock, sir.
JACK. For nine! Why--what! [Rising, and loosening his tongue;
putting hands to his head, and staring hard at Mrs. Jones.] Look
here, you, Mrs.----Mrs. Jones--don't you say you caught me asleep
MRS. JONES. No, sir, of course I won't sir.
JACK. It's quite an accident; I don't know how it happened. I must
have forgotten to go to bed. It's a queer thing. I 've got a most
beastly headache. Mind you don't say anything, Mrs. Jones.
[Goes out and passes MARLOW in the doorway. MARLOW is young
and quiet; he is cleanshaven, and his hair is brushed high from
his forehead in a coxcomb. Incidentally a butler, he is first
a man. He looks at MRS. JONES, and smiles a private smile.]
MARLOW. Not the first time, and won't be the last. Looked a bit
dicky, eh, Mrs. Jones?
MRS. JONES. He did n't look quite himself. Of course I did n't
MARLOW. You're used to them. How's your old man?
MRS. JONES. [Softly as throughout.] Well, he was very bad last
night; he did n't seem to know what he was about. He was very late,
and he was most abusive. But now, of course, he's asleep.
MARLOW. That's his way of finding a job, eh?
MRS. JONES. As a rule, Mr. Marlow, he goes out early every morning
looking for work, and sometimes he comes in fit to drop--and of
course I can't say he does n't try to get it, because he does.
Trade's very bad. [She stands quite still, her fan and brush before
her, at the beginning and the end of long vistas of experience,
traversing them with her impersonal eye.] But he's not a good
husband to me--last night he hit me, and he was so dreadfully
MARLOW. Bank 'oliday, eh! He 's too fond of the "Goat and Bells,"
that's what's the matter with him. I see him at the corner late
every night. He hangs about.
MRS. JONES. He gets to feeling very low walking about all day after
work, and being refused so often, and then when he gets a drop in
him it goes to his head. But he shouldn't treat his wife as he
treats me. Sometimes I 've had to go and walk about at night, when
he wouldn't let me stay in the room; but he's sorry for it
afterwards. And he hangs about after me, he waits for me in the
street; and I don't think he ought to, because I 've always been a
good wife to him. And I tell him Mrs. Barthwick wouldn't like him
coming about the place. But that only makes him angry, and he says
dreadful things about the gentry. Of course it was through me that
he first lost his place, through his not treating me right; and
that's made him bitter against the gentry. He had a very good place
as groom in the country; but it made such a stir, because of course
he did n't treat me right.
MARLOW. Got the sack?
MRS. JONES. Yes; his employer said he couldn't keep him, because
there was a great deal of talk; and he said it was such a bad
example. But it's very important for me to keep my work here; I
have the three children, and I don't want him to come about after me
in the streets, and make a disturbance as he sometimes does.
MARLOW. [Holding up the empty decanter.] Not a drain! Next time
he hits you get a witness and go down to the court----
MRS. JONES. Yes, I think I 've made up my mind. I think I ought
MARLOW. That's right. Where's the ciga----?
[He searches for the silver box; he looks at MRS. JONES, who is
sweeping on her hands and knees; he checks himself and stands
reflecting. From the tray he picks two half-smoked cigarettes,
and reads the name on them.]
Nestor--where the deuce----?
[With a meditative air he looks again at MRS. JONES, and,
taking up JACK'S overcoat, he searches in the pockets.
WHEELER, with a tray of breakfast things, comes in.]
MARLOW. [Aside to WHEELER.] Have you seen the cigarette-box?
MARLOW. Well, it's gone. I put it on the tray last night. And
he's been smoking. [Showing her the ends of cigarettes.] It's not
in these pockets. He can't have taken it upstairs this morning!
Have a good look in his room when he comes down. Who's been in
WHEELER. Only me and Mrs. Jones.
MRS. JONES. I 've finished here; shall I do the drawing-room now?
WHEELER. [Looking at her doubtfully.] Have you seen----Better do
the boudwower first.
[MRS. JONES goes out with pan and brush. MARLOW and WHEELER
look each other in the face.]
MARLOW. It'll turn up.
WHEELER. [Hesitating.] You don't think she----
[Nodding at the door.]
MARLOW. [Stoutly.] I don't----I never believes anything of
WHEELER. But the master'll have to be told.
MARLOW. You wait a bit, and see if it don't turn up. Suspicion's
no business of ours. I set my mind against it.
The curtain falls.
The curtain rises again at once.
BARTHWICK and MRS. BARTHWICK are seated at the breakfast table.
He is a man between fifty and sixty; quietly important, with a
bald forehead, and pince-nez, and the "Times" in his hand. She
is a lady of nearly fifty, well dressed, with greyish hair,
good features, and a decided manner. They face each other.
BARTHWICK. [From behind his paper.] The Labour man has got in at
the by-election for Barnside, my dear.
MRS. BARTHWICK. Another Labour? I can't think what on earth the
country is about.
BARTHWICK. I predicted it. It's not a matter of vast importance.
MRS. BARTHWICK. Not? How can you take it so calmly, John? To me
it's simply outrageous. And there you sit, you Liberals, and
pretend to encourage these people!
BARTHWICK. [Frowning.] The representation of all parties is
necessary for any proper reform, for any proper social policy.
MRS. BARTHWICK. I've no patience with your talk of reform--all that
nonsense about social policy. We know perfectly well what it is
they want; they want things for themselves. Those Socialists and
Labour men are an absolutely selfish set of people. They have no
sense of patriotism, like the upper classes; they simply want what
BARTHWICK. Want what we've got! [He stares into space.] My dear,
what are you talking about? [With a contortion.] I 'm no alarmist.
MRS. BARTHWICK. Cream? Quite uneducated men! Wait until they
begin to tax our investments. I 'm convinced that when they once
get a chance they will tax everything--they 've no feeling for the
country. You Liberals and Conservatives, you 're all alike; you
don't see an inch before your noses. You've no imagination, not a
scrap of imagination between you. You ought to join hands and nip
it in the bud.
BARTHWICK. You 're talking nonsense! How is it possible for
Liberals and Conservatives to join hands, as you call it? That
shows how absurd it is for women----Why, the very essence of a
Liberal is to trust in the people!
MRS. BARTHWICK. Now, John, eat your breakfast. As if there were
any real difference between you and the Conservatives. All the
upper classes have the same interests to protect, and the same
principles. [Calmly.] Oh! you're sitting upon a volcano, John.
MRS. BARTHWICK. I read a letter in the paper yesterday. I forget
the man's name, but it made the whole thing perfectly clear. You
don't look things in the face.
BARTHWICK. Indeed! [Heavily.] I am a Liberal! Drop the subject,
MRS. BARTHWICK. Toast? I quite agree with what this man says:
Education is simply ruining the lower classes. It unsettles them,
and that's the worst thing for us all. I see an enormous difference
in the manner of servants.
BARTHWICK, [With suspicious emphasis.] I welcome any change that
will lead to something better. [He opens a letter.] H'm! This is
that affair of Master Jack's again. "High Street, Oxford. Sir, We
have received Mr. John Barthwick, Senior's, draft for forty pounds!"
Oh! the letter's to him! "We now enclose the cheque you cashed with
us, which, as we stated in our previous letter, was not met on
presentation at your bank. We are, Sir, yours obediently, Moss and
Sons, Tailors." H 'm! [Staring at the cheque.] A pretty business
altogether! The boy might have been prosecuted.
MRS. BARTHWICK. Come, John, you know Jack did n't mean anything; he
only thought he was overdrawing. I still think his bank ought to
have cashed that cheque. They must know your position.
BARTHWICK. [Replacing in the envelope the letter and the cheque.]
Much good that would have done him in a court of law.
[He stops as JACK comes in, fastening his waistcoat and
staunching a razor cut upon his chin.]
JACK. [Sitting down between them, and speaking with an artificial
joviality.] Sorry I 'm late. [He looks lugubriously at the
dishes.] Tea, please, mother. Any letters for me? [BARTHWICK
hands the letter to him.] But look here, I say, this has been
opened! I do wish you would n't----
BARTHWICK. [Touching the envelope.] I suppose I 'm entitled to
JACK. [Sulkily.] Well, I can't help having your name, father! [He
reads the letter, and mutters.] Brutes!
BARTHWICK. [Eyeing him.] You don't deserve to be so well out of
JACK. Haven't you ragged me enough, dad?
MRS. BARTHWICK. Yes, John, let Jack have his breakfast.
BARTHWICK. If you hadn't had me to come to, where would you have
been? It's the merest accident--suppose you had been the son of a
poor man or a clerk. Obtaining money with a cheque you knew your
bank could not meet. It might have ruined you for life. I can't
see what's to become of you if these are your principles. I never
did anything of the sort myself.
JACK. I expect you always had lots of money. If you've got plenty
of money, of course----
BARTHWICK. On the contrary, I had not your advantages. My father
kept me very short of money.
JACK. How much had you, dad?
BARTHWICK. It's not material. The question is, do you feel the
gravity of what you did?
JACK. I don't know about the gravity. Of course, I 'm very sorry
if you think it was wrong. Have n't I said so! I should never have
done it at all if I had n't been so jolly hard up.
BARTHWICK. How much of that forty pounds have you got left, Jack?
JACK. [Hesitating.] I don't know--not much.
BARTHWICK. How much?
JACK. [Desperately.] I have n't got any.
JACK. I know I 've got the most beastly headache.
[He leans his head on his hand.]
MRS. BARTHWICK. Headache? My dear boy! Can't you eat any
JACK. [Drawing in his breath.] Too jolly bad!
MRS. BARTHWICK. I'm so sorry. Come with me; dear; I'll give you
something that will take it away at once.
[They leave the room; and BARTHWICK, tearing up the letter,
goes to the fireplace and puts the pieces in the fire. While
he is doing this MARLOW comes in, and looking round him, is
about quietly to withdraw.]
BARTHWICK. What's that? What d 'you want?
MARLOW. I was looking for Mr. John, sir.
BARTHWICK. What d' you want Mr. John for?
MARLOW. [With hesitation.] I thought I should find him here, sir.
BARTHWICK. [Suspiciously.] Yes, but what do you want him for?
MARLOW. [Offhandedly.] There's a lady called--asked to speak to
him for a minute, sir.
BARTHWICK. A lady, at this time in the morning. What sort of a
MARLOW. [Without expression in his voice.] I can't tell, sir; no
particular sort. She might be after charity. She might be a Sister
of Mercy, I should think, sir.
BARTHWICK. Is she dressed like one?
MARLOW. No, sir, she's in plain clothes, sir.
BARTHWICK. Did n't she say what she wanted?
MARLOW. No sir.
BARTHWICK. Where did you leave her?
MARLOW. In the hall, sir.
BARTHWICK. In the hall? How do you know she's not a thief--not got
designs on the house?
MARLOW. No, sir, I don't fancy so, sir.
BARTHWICK. Well, show her in here; I'll see her myself.
[MARLOW goes out with a private gesture of dismay. He soon
returns, ushering in a young pale lady with dark eyes and
pretty figure, in a modish, black, but rather shabby dress, a
black and white trimmed hat with a bunch of Parma violets
wrongly placed, and fuzzy-spotted veil. At the Sight of MR.
BARTHWICK she exhibits every sign of nervousness. MARLOW goes
UNKNOWN LADY. Oh! but--I beg pardon there's some mistake--I [She
turns to fly.]
BARTHWICK. Whom did you want to see, madam?
UNKNOWN. [Stopping and looking back.] It was Mr. John Barthwick I
wanted to see.
BARTHWICK. I am John Barthwick, madam. What can I have the
pleasure of doing for you?
UNKNOWN. Oh! I--I don't [She drops her eyes. BARTHWICK
scrutinises her, and purses his lips.]
BARTHWICK. It was my son, perhaps, you wished to see?
UNKNOWN. [Quickly.] Yes, of course, it's your son.
BARTHWICK. May I ask whom I have the pleasure of speaking to?
UNKNOWN. [Appeal and hardiness upon her face.] My name is----oh!
it does n't matter--I don't want to make any fuss. I just want to
see your son for a minute. [Boldly.] In fact, I must see him.
BARTHWICK. [Controlling his uneasiness.] My son is not very well.
If necessary, no doubt I could attend to the matter; be so kind as
to let me know----
UNKNOWN. Oh! but I must see him--I 've come on purpose--[She bursts
out nervously.] I don't want to make any fuss, but the fact is,
last--last night your son took away--he took away my [She stops.]
BARTHWICK. [Severely.] Yes, madam, what?
UNKNOWN. He took away my--my reticule.
BARTHWICK. Your reti----?
UNKNOWN. I don't care about the reticule; it's not that I want--I
'm sure I don't want to make any fuss--[her face is quivering]--but
--but--all my money was in it!
BARTHWICK. In what--in what?
UNKNOWN. In my purse, in the reticule. It was a crimson silk
purse. Really, I wouldn't have come--I don't want to make any fuss.
But I must get my money back--mustn't I?
BARTHWICK. Do you tell me that my son----?
UNKNOWN. Oh! well, you see, he was n't quite I mean he was
[She smiles mesmerically.]
BARTHWICK. I beg your pardon.
UNKNOWN. [Stamping her foot.] Oh! don't you see--tipsy! We had a
BARTHWICK. [Scandalised.] How? Where?
UNKNOWN. [Defiantly.] At my place. We'd had supper at the----and
BARTHWICK. [Pressing the bell.] May I ask how you knew this house?
Did he give you his name and address?
UNKNOWN. [Glancing sidelong.] I got it out of his overcoat.
BARTHWICK. [Sardonically.] Oh! you got it out of his overcoat.
And may I ask if my son will know you by daylight?
UNKNOWN. Know me? I should jolly--I mean, of course he will!
[MARLOW comes in.]
BARTHWICK. Ask Mr. John to come down.
[MARLOW goes out, and BARTHWICK walks uneasily about.]
And how long have you enjoyed his acquaintanceship?
UNKNOWN. Only since--only since Good Friday.
BARTHWICK. I am at a loss--I repeat I am at a----
[He glances at this unknown lady, who stands with eyes cast
down, twisting her hands And suddenly Jack appears. He stops
on seeing who is here, and the unknown lady hysterically
giggles. There is a silence.]
BARTHWICK. [Portentously.] This young--er--lady says that last
night--I think you said last night madam--you took away----
UNKNOWN. [Impulsively.] My reticule, and all my money was in a
crimson silk purse.
JACK. Reticule. [Looking round for any chance to get away.] I
don't know anything about it.
BARTHWICK. [Sharply.] Come, do you deny seeing this young lady
JACK. Deny? No, of course. [Whispering.] Why did you give me
away like this? What on earth did you come here for?
UNKNOWN. [Tearfully.] I'm sure I didn't want to--it's not likely,
is it? You snatched it out of my hand--you know you did--and the
purse had all my money in it. I did n't follow you last night
because I did n't want to make a fuss and it was so late, and you
BARTHWICK. Come, sir, don't turn your back on me--explain!
JACK. [Desperately.] I don't remember anything about it. [In a
low voice to his friend.] Why on earth could n't you have written?
UNKNOWN. [Sullenly.] I want it now; I must have, it--I 've got to
pay my rent to-day. [She looks at BARTHWICK.] They're only too glad
to jump on people who are not--not well off.
JACK. I don't remember anything about it, really. I don't remember
anything about last night at all. [He puts his hand up to his
head.] It's all--cloudy, and I 've got such a beastly headache.
UNKNOWN. But you took it; you know you did. You said you'd score
JACK. Well, then, it must be here. I remember now--I remember
something. Why did I take the beastly thing?
BARTHWICK. Yes, why did you take the beastly----[He turns abruptly
to the window.]
UNKNOWN. [With her mesmeric smile.] You were n't quite were you?
JACK. [Smiling pallidly.] I'm awfully sorry. If there's anything
I can do----
BARTHWICK. Do? You can restore this property, I suppose.
JACK. I'll go and have a look, but I really don't think I 've got
[He goes out hurriedly. And BARTHWICK, placing a chair,
motions to the visitor to sit; then, with pursed lips, he
stands and eyes her fixedly. She sits, and steals a look at
him; then turns away, and, drawing up her veil, stealthily
wipes her eyes. And Jack comes back.]
JACK. [Ruefully holding out the empty reticule.] Is that the
thing? I 've looked all over--I can't find the purse anywhere. Are
you sure it was there?
UNKNOWN. [Tearfully.] Sure? Of course I'm sure. A crimson silk
purse. It was all the money I had.
JACK. I really am awfully sorry--my head's so jolly bad. I 've
asked the butler, but he has n't seen it.
UNKNOWN. I must have my money----
JACK. Oh! Of course--that'll be all right; I'll see that that's
all right. How much?
UNKNOWN. [Sullenly.] Seven pounds-twelve--it's all I 've got in
JACK. That'll be all right; I'll--send you a cheque.
UNKNOWN. [Eagerly.] No; now, please. Give me what was in my
purse; I've got to pay my rent this morning. They won't' give me
another day; I'm a fortnight behind already.
JACK. [Blankly.] I'm awfully sorry; I really have n't a penny in
[He glances stealthily at BARTHWICK.]
UNKNOWN. [Excitedly.] Come I say you must--it's my money, and you
took it. I 'm not going away without it. They 'll turn me out of
JACK. [Clasping his head.] But I can't give you what I have n't
got. Don't I tell you I have n't a beastly cent.
UNKNOWN. [Tearing at her handkerchief.] Oh! do give it me! [She
puts her hands together in appeal; then, with sudden fierceness.]
If you don't I'll summons you. It's stealing, that's what it is!
BARTHWICK. [Uneasily.] One moment, please. As a matter of---er
--principle, I shall settle this claim. [He produces money.] Here is
eight pounds; the extra will cover the value of the purse and your
cab fares. I need make no comment--no thanks are necessary.
[Touching the bell, he holds the door ajar in silence. The
unknown lady stores the money in her reticule, she looks from
JACK to BARTHWICK, and her face is quivering faintly with a
smile. She hides it with her hand, and steals away. Behind
her BARTHWICK shuts the door.]
BARTHWICK. [With solemnity.] H'm! This is nice thing to happen!
JACK. [Impersonally.] What awful luck!
BARTHWICK. So this is the way that forty pounds has gone! One
thing after another! Once more I should like to know where you 'd
have been if it had n't been for me! You don't seem to have any
principles. You--you're one of those who are a nuisance to society;
you--you're dangerous! What your mother would say I don't know.
Your conduct, as far as I can see, is absolutely unjustifiable.
It's--it's criminal. Why, a poor man who behaved as you've done
--d' you think he'd have any mercy shown him? What you want is a good
lesson. You and your sort are--[he speaks with feeling]--a nuisance
to the community. Don't ask me to help you next time. You're not
fit to be helped.
JACK. [Turning upon his sire, with unexpected fierceness.] All
right, I won't then, and see how you like it. You would n't have
helped me this time, I know, if you had n't been scared the thing
would get into the papers. Where are the cigarettes?
BARTHWICK. [Regarding him uneasily.] Well I 'll say no more about
it. [He rings the bell.] I 'll pass it over for this once, but----
[MARLOW Comes in.] You can clear away.
[He hides his face behind the "Times."]
JACK. [Brightening.] I say, Marlow, where are the cigarettes?
MARLOW. I put the box out with the whisky last night, sir, but this
morning I can't find it anywhere.
JACK. Did you look in my room?
MARLOW. Yes, sir; I've looked all over the house. I found two
Nestor ends in the tray this morning, so you must have been smokin'
last night, sir. [Hesitating.] I 'm really afraid some one's
purloined the box.
JACK. [Uneasily.] Stolen it!
BARTHWICK. What's that? The cigarette-box! Is anything else
MARLOW. No, sir; I 've been through the plate.
BARTHWICK. Was the house all right this morning? None of the
MARLOW. No, sir. [Quietly to JACK.] You left your latch-key in
the door last night, sir.
[He hands it back, unseen by BARTHWICK]
BARTHWICK. Who's been in the room this morning?
MARLOW. Me and Wheeler, and Mrs. Jones is all, sir, as far as I
BARTHWICK. Have you asked Mrs. Barthwick?
[To JACK.] Go and ask your mother if she's had it; ask her to look
and see if she's missed anything else.
[JACK goes upon this mission.]
Nothing is more disquieting than losing things like this.
MARLOW. No, sir.
BARTHWICK. Have you any suspicions?
MARLOW, No, sir.
BARTHWICK. This Mrs. Jones--how long has she been working here?
MARLOW. Only this last month, sir.
BARTHWICK. What sort of person?
MARLOW. I don't know much about her, sir; seems a very quiet,
BARTHWICK. Who did the room this morning?
MARLOW. Wheeler and Mrs. Jones, Sir.
BARTHWICK. [With his forefinger upraised.] Now, was this Mrs.
Jones in the room alone at any time?
MARLOW. [Expressionless.] Yes, Sir.
BARTHWICK. How do you know that?
MARLOW. [Reluctantly.] I found her here, sir.
BARTHWICK. And has Wheeler been in the room alone?
MARLOW. No, sir, she's not, sir. I should say, sir, that Mrs.
Jones seems a very honest----
BARTHWICK. [Holding up his hand.] I want to know this: Has this
Mrs. Jones been here the whole morning?
MARLOW. Yes, sir--no, sir--she stepped over to the greengrocer's
BARTHWICK. H'm! Is she in the house now?
MARLOW. Yes, Sir.
BARTHWICK. Very good. I shall make a point of clearing this up.
On principle I shall make a point of fixing the responsibility; it
goes to the foundations of security. In all your interests----
MARLOW. Yes, Sir.
BARTHWICK. What sort of circumstances is this Mrs. Jones in? Is
her husband in work?
MARLOW. I believe not, sir.
BARTHWICK. Very well. Say nothing about it to any one. Tell
Wheeler not to speak of it, and ask Mrs. Jones to step up here.
MARLOW. Very good, sir.
[MARLOW goes out, his face concerned; and BARTHWICK stays, his
face judicial and a little pleased, as befits a man conducting
an inquiry. MRS. BARTHWICK and hey son come in.]
BARTHWICK. Well, my dear, you've not seen it, I suppose?
MRS. BARTHWICK. No. But what an extraordinary thing, John!
Marlow, of course, is out of the question. I 'm certain none of the
maids as for cook!
BARTHWICK. Oh, cook!
MRS. BARTHWICK. Of course! It's perfectly detestable to me to
BARTHWICK. It is not a question of one's feelings. It's a question
of justice. On principle----
MRS. BARTHWICK. I should n't be a bit surprised if the charwoman
knew something about it. It was Laura who recommended her.
BARTHWICK. [Judicially.] I am going to have Mrs. Jones up. Leave
it to me; and--er--remember that nobody is guilty until they're
proved so. I shall be careful. I have no intention of frightening
her; I shall give her every chance. I hear she's in poor
circumstances. If we are not able to do much for them we are bound
to have the greatest sympathy with the poor. [MRS. JONES comes in.]
[Pleasantly.] Oh! good morning, Mrs. Jones.
MRS. JONES. [Soft, and even, unemphatic.] Good morning, sir! Good
BARTHWICK. About your husband--he's not in work, I hear?
MRS. JONES. No, sir; of course he's not in work just now.
BARTHWICK. Then I suppose he's earning nothing.
MRS. JONES. No, sir, he's not earning anything just now, sir.
BARTHWICK. And how many children have you?
MRS. JONES. Three children; but of course they don't eat very much
sir. [A little silence.]
BARTHWICK. And how old is the eldest?
MRS. JONES. Nine years old, sir.
BARTHWICK. Do they go to school?
MRS. JONES, Yes, sir, they all three go to school every day.
BARTHWICK. [Severely.] And what about their food when you're out
MRS. JONES. Well, Sir, I have to give them their dinner to take
with them. Of course I 'm not always able to give them anything;
sometimes I have to send them without; but my husband is very good
about the children when he's in work. But when he's not in work of
course he's a very difficult man.
BARTHWICK. He drinks, I suppose?
MRS. JONES. Yes, Sir. Of course I can't say he does n't drink,
because he does.
BARTHWICK. And I suppose he takes all your money?
MRS. JONES. No, sir, he's very good about my money, except when
he's not himself, and then, of course, he treats me very badly.
BARTHWICK. Now what is he--your husband?
MRS. JONES. By profession, sir, of course he's a groom.
BARTHWICK. A groom! How came he to lose his place?
MRS. JONES. He lost his place a long time ago, sir, and he's never
had a very long job since; and now, of course, the motor-cars are
BARTHWICK. When were you married to him, Mrs. Jones?
MRS. JONES. Eight years ago, sir that was in----
MRS. BARTHWICK. [Sharply.] Eight? You said the eldest child was
MRS. JONES. Yes, ma'am; of course that was why he lost his place.
He did n't treat me rightly, and of course his employer said he
couldn't keep him because of the example.
BARTHWICK. You mean he--ahem----
MRS. JONES. Yes, sir; and of course after he lost his place he
MRS. BARTHWICK. You actually mean to say you--you were----
BARTHWICK. My dear----
MRS. BARTHWICK. [Indignantly.] How disgraceful!
BARTHWICK. [Hurriedly.] And where are you living now, Mrs. Jones?
MRS. JONES. We've not got a home, sir. Of course we've been
obliged to put away most of our things.
BARTHWICK. Put your things away! You mean to--to--er--to pawn
MRS. JONES. Yes, sir, to put them away. We're living in Merthyr
Street--that is close by here, sir--at No. 34. We just have the one
BARTHWICK. And what do you pay a week?
MRS. JONES. We pay six shillings a week, sir, for a furnished room.
BARTHWICK. And I suppose you're behind in the rent?
MRS. JONES. Yes, sir, we're a little behind in the rent.
BARTHWICK. But you're in good work, aren't you?
MRS. JONES. Well, Sir, I have a day in Stamford Place Thursdays.
And Mondays and Wednesdays and Fridays I come here. But to-day, of
course, is a half-day, because of yesterday's Bank Holiday.
BARTHWICK. I see; four days a week, and you get half a crown a day,
is that it?
MRS. JONES. Yes, sir, and my dinner; but sometimes it's only half
a day, and that's eighteen pence.
BARTHWICK. And when your husband earns anything he spends it in
drink, I suppose?
MRS. JONES. Sometimes he does, sir, and sometimes he gives it to me
for the children. Of course he would work if he could get it, sir,
but it seems there are a great many people out of work.
BARTHWICK. Ah! Yes. We--er--won't go into that.
[Sympathetically.] And how about your work here? Do you find it
MRS. JONES. Oh! no, sir, not very hard, sir; except of course,
when I don't get my sleep at night.
BARTHWICK. Ah! And you help do all the rooms? And sometimes, I
suppose, you go out for cook?
MRS. JONES. Yes, Sir.
BARTHWICK. And you 've been out this morning?
MRS. JONES. Yes, sir, of course I had to go to the greengrocer's.
BARTHWICK. Exactly. So your husband earns nothing? And he's a bad
MRS. JONES. No, Sir, I don't say that, sir. I think there's a
great deal of good in him; though he does treat me very bad
sometimes. And of course I don't like to leave him, but I think I
ought to, because really I hardly know how to stay with him. He
often raises his hand to me. Not long ago he gave me a blow here
[touches her breast] and I can feel it now. So I think I ought to
leave him, don't you, sir?
BARTHWICK. Ah! I can't help you there. It's a very serious thing
to leave your husband. Very serious thing.
MRS. JONES. Yes, sir, of course I 'm afraid of what he might do to
me if I were to leave him; he can be so very violent.
BARTHWICK. H'm! Well, that I can't pretend to say anything about.
It's the bad principle I'm speaking of----
MRS. JONES. Yes, Sir; I know nobody can help me. I know I must
decide for myself, and of course I know that he has a very hard
life. And he's fond of the children, and its very hard for him to
see them going without food.
BARTHWICK. [Hastily.] Well--er--thank you, I just wanted to hear
about you. I don't think I need detain you any longer, Mrs. Jones.
MRS. JONES. No, sir, thank you, sir.
BARTHWICK. Good morning, then.
MRS. JONES. Good morning, sir; good morning, ma'am.
BARTHWICK. [Exchanging glances with his wife.] By the way, Mrs.
Jones--I think it is only fair to tell you, a silver cigarette-box
MRS. JONES. [Looking from one face to the other.] I am very sorry,
BARTHWICK. Yes; you have not seen it, I suppose?
MRS. JONES. [Realising that suspicion is upon her; with an uneasy
movement.] Where was it, sir; if you please, sir?
BARTHWICK. [Evasively.] Where did Marlow say? Er--in this room,
yes, in this room.
MRS. JONES. No, Sir, I have n't seen it--of course if I 'd seen it
I should have noticed it.
BARTHWICK. [Giving hey a rapid glance.] You--you are sure of that?
MRS. JONES. [Impassively.] Yes, Sir. [With a slow nodding of her
head.] I have not seen it, and of course I don't know where it is.
[She turns and goes quietly out.]
[The three BARTHWICKS avoid each other's glances.]
The curtain falls.
The JONES's lodgings, Merthyr Street, at half-past two o'clock.
The bare room, with tattered oilcloth and damp, distempered
walls, has an air of tidy wretchedness. On the bed lies JONES,
half-dressed; his coat is thrown across his feet, and muddy
boots are lying on the floor close by. He is asleep. The door
is opened and MRS. JONES comes in, dressed in a pinched black
jacket and old black sailor hat; she carries a parcel wrapped
up in the "Times." She puts her parcel down, unwraps an apron,
half a loaf, two onions, three potatoes, and a tiny piece of
bacon. Taking a teapot from the cupboard, she rinses it,
shakes into it some powdered tea out of a screw of paper, puts
it on the hearth, and sitting in a wooden chair quietly begins
JONES. [Stirring and yawning.] That you? What's the time?
MRS. JONES. [Drying her eyes, and in her usual voice.] Half-past
JONES. What you back so soon for?
MRS. JONES. I only had the half day to-day, Jem.
JONES. [On his back, and in a drowsy voice.] Got anything for
MRS. JONES. Mrs. BARTHWICK's cook gave me a little bit of bacon.
I'm going to make a stew. [She prepares for cooking.] There's
fourteen shillings owing for rent, James, and of course I 've only
got two and fourpence. They'll be coming for it to-day.
JONES. [Turning towards her on his elbow.] Let 'em come and find
my surprise packet. I've had enough o' this tryin' for work. Why
should I go round and round after a job like a bloomin' squirrel in
a cage. "Give us a job, sir"--"Take a man on"--"Got a wife and
three children." Sick of it I am! I 'd sooner lie here and rot.
"Jones, you come and join the demonstration; come and 'old a flag,
and listen to the ruddy orators, and go 'ome as empty as you came."
There's some that seems to like that--the sheep! When I go seekin'
for a job now, and see the brutes lookin' me up an' down, it's like
a thousand serpents in me. I 'm not arskin' for any treat. A man
wants to sweat hisself silly and not allowed that's a rum start,
ain't it? A man wants to sweat his soul out to keep the breath in
him and ain't allowed--that's justice that's freedom and all the
rest of it! [He turns his face towards the wall.] You're so milky
mild; you don't know what goes on inside o' me. I'm done with the
silly game. If they want me, let 'em come for me!
[MRS. JONES stops cooking and stands unmoving at the table.]
I've tried and done with it, I tell you. I've never been afraid of
what 's before me. You mark my words--if you think they've broke my
spirit, you're mistook. I 'll lie and rot sooner than arsk 'em
again. What makes you stand like that--you long-sufferin',
Gawd-forsaken image--that's why I can't keep my hands off you. So
now you know. Work! You can work, but you have n't the spirit of a
MRS. JONES. [Quietly.] You talk more wild sometimes when you're
yourself, James, than when you 're not. If you don't get work, how
are we to go on? They won't let us stay here; they're looking to
their money to-day, I know.
JONES. I see this BARTHWICK o' yours every day goin' down to
Pawlyment snug and comfortable to talk his silly soul out; an' I see
that young calf, his son, swellin' it about, and goin' on the
razzle-dazzle. Wot 'ave they done that makes 'em any better than
wot I am? They never did a day's work in their lives. I see 'em
day after day.
MRS. JONES. And I wish you wouldn't come after me like that, and
hang about the house. You don't seem able to keep away at all, and
whatever you do it for I can't think, because of course they notice
JONES. I suppose I may go where I like. Where may I go? The other
day I went to a place in the Edgware Road. "Gov'nor," I says to the
boss, "take me on," I says. "I 'aven't done a stroke o' work not
these two months; it takes the heart out of a man," I says; "I 'm
one to work; I 'm not afraid of anything you can give me!" "My good
man," 'e says, "I 've had thirty of you here this morning. I took
the first two," he says, "and that's all I want." "Thank you, then
rot the world!" I says. "Blasphemin'," he says, "is not the way to
get a job. Out you go, my lad!" [He laughs sardonically.] Don't
you raise your voice because you're starvin'; don't yer even think
of it; take it lyin' down! Take it like a sensible man, carn't you?
And a little way down the street a lady says to me: [Pinching his
voice] "D' you want to earn a few pence, my man?" and gives me her
dog to 'old outside a shop-fat as a butler 'e was--tons o' meat had
gone to the makin' of him. It did 'er good, it did, made 'er feel
'erself that charitable, but I see 'er lookin' at the copper
standin' alongside o' me, for fear I should make off with 'er
bloomin' fat dog. [He sits on the edge of the bed and puts a boot
on. Then looking up.] What's in that head o' yours? [Almost
pathetically.] Carn't you speak for once?
[There is a knock, and MRS. SEDDON, the landlady, appears, an
anxious, harassed, shabby woman in working clothes.]
MRS. SEDDON. I thought I 'eard you come in, Mrs. Jones. I 've
spoke to my 'usband, but he says he really can't afford to wait
JONES. [With scowling jocularity.] Never you mind what your
'usband says, you go your own way like a proper independent woman.
Here, jenny, chuck her that.
[Producing a sovereign from his trousers pocket, he throws it
to his wife, who catches it in her apron with a gasp. JONES
resumes the lacing of his boots.]
MRS. JONES. [Rubbing the sovereign stealthily.] I'm very sorry
we're so late with it, and of course it's fourteen shillings, so if
you've got six that will be right.
[MRS. SEDDON takes the sovereign and fumbles for the change.]
JONES. [With his eyes fixed on his boots.] Bit of a surprise for
yer, ain't it?
MRS. SEDDON. Thank you, and I'm sure I'm very much obliged. [She
does indeed appear surprised.] I 'll bring you the change.
JONES. [Mockingly.] Don't mention it.
MRS. SEDDON. Thank you, and I'm sure I'm very much obliged. [She
[MRS. JONES gazes at JONES who is still lacing up his boots.]
JONES. I 've had a bit of luck. [Pulling out the crimson purse and
some loose coins.] Picked up a purse--seven pound and more.
MRS. JONES. Oh, James!
JONES. Oh, James! What about Oh, James! I picked it up I tell
you. This is lost property, this is!
MRS. JONES. But is n't there a name in it, or something?
JONES. Name? No, there ain't no name. This don't belong to such
as 'ave visitin' cards. This belongs to a perfec' lidy. Tike an'
smell it. [He pitches her the purse, which she puts gently to her
nose.] Now, you tell me what I ought to have done. You tell me
that. You can always tell me what I ought to ha' done, can't yer?
MRS. JONES. [Laying down the purse.] I can't say what you ought to
have done, James. Of course the money was n't yours; you've taken
somebody else's money.
JONES. Finding's keeping. I 'll take it as wages for the time I
've gone about the streets asking for what's my rights. I'll take
it for what's overdue, d' ye hear? [With strange triumph.] I've
got money in my pocket, my girl.
[MRS. JONES goes on again with the preparation of the meal,
JONES looking at her furtively.]
Money in my pocket! And I 'm not goin' to waste it. With this 'ere
money I'm goin' to Canada. I'll let you have a pound.
You've often talked of leavin' me. You 've often told me I treat
you badly--well I 'ope you 'll be glad when I 'm gone.
MRS. JONES. [Impassively.] You have, treated me very badly, James,
and of course I can't prevent your going; but I can't tell whether I
shall be glad when you're gone.
JONES. It'll change my luck. I 've 'ad nothing but bad luck since
I first took up with you. [More softly.] And you've 'ad no
MRS. JONES. Of course it would have been better for us if we had
never met. We were n't meant for each other. But you're set
against me, that's what you are, and you have been for a long time.
And you treat me so badly, James, going after that Rosie and all.
You don't ever seem to think of the children that I 've had to bring
into the world, and of all the trouble I 've had to keep them, and
what 'll become of them when you're gone.
JONES. [Crossing the room gloomily.] If you think I want to leave
the little beggars you're bloomin' well mistaken.
MRS. JONES. Of course I know you're fond of them.
JONES. [Fingering the purse, half angrily.] Well, then, you stow
it, old girl. The kids 'll get along better with you than when I 'm
here. If I 'd ha' known as much as I do now, I 'd never ha' had one
o' them. What's the use o' bringin' 'em into a state o' things like
this? It's a crime, that's what it is; but you find it out too late;
that's what's the matter with this 'ere world.
[He puts the purse back in his pocket.]
MRS. JONES. Of course it would have been better for them, poor
little things; but they're your own children, and I wonder at you
talkin' like that. I should miss them dreadfully if I was to lose
JONES. [Sullenly.] An' you ain't the only one. If I make money
out there--[Looking up, he sees her shaking out his coat--in a
changed voice.] Leave that coat alone!
[The silver box drops from the pocket, scattering the
cigarettes upon the bed. Taking up the box she stares at it;
he rushes at her and snatches the box away.]
MRS. JONES. [Cowering back against the bed.] Oh, Jem! oh, Jem!
JONES. [Dropping the box onto the table.] You mind what you're
sayin'! When I go out I 'll take and chuck it in the water along
with that there purse. I 'ad it when I was in liquor, and for what
you do when you 're in liquor you're not responsible-and that's
Gawd's truth as you ought to know. I don't want the thing--I won't
have it. I took it out o' spite. I 'm no thief, I tell you; and
don't you call me one, or it'll be the worse for you.
MRS. JONES. [Twisting her apron strings.] It's Mr. Barthwick's!
You've taken away my reputation. Oh, Jem, whatever made you?
JONES. What d' you mean?
MRS. JONES. It's been missed; they think it's me. Oh! whatever
made you do it, Jem?
JONES. I tell you I was in liquor. I don't want it; what's the
good of it to me? If I were to pawn it they'd only nab me. I 'm no
thief. I 'm no worse than wot that young Barthwick is; he brought
'ome that purse that I picked up--a lady's purse--'ad it off 'er in
a row, kept sayin' 'e 'd scored 'er off. Well, I scored 'im off.
Tight as an owl 'e was! And d' you think anything'll happen to him?
MRS. JONES. [As though speaking to herself.] Oh, Jem! it's the
bread out of our mouths!
JONES. Is it then? I'll make it hot for 'em yet. What about that
purse? What about young BARTHWICK?
[MRS. JONES comes forward to the table and tries to take the box;
JONES prevents her.] What do you want with that? You drop it, I
MRS. JONES. I 'll take it back and tell them all about it. [She
attempts to wrest the box from him.]
JONES. Ah, would yer?
[He drops the box, and rushes on her with a snarl. She slips
back past the bed. He follows; a chair is overturned. The
door is opened; Snow comes in, a detective in plain clothes and
bowler hat, with clipped moustaches. JONES drops his arms,
MRS. JONES stands by the window gasping; SNOW, advancing
swiftly to the table, puts his hand on the silver box.]
SNOW. Doin' a bit o' skylarkin'? Fancy this is what I 'm after.
J. B., the very same. [He gets back to the door, scrutinising the
crest and cypher on the box. To MRS. JONES.] I'm a police officer.
Are you Mrs. Jones?
MRS. JONES. Yes, Sir.
SNOW. My instructions are to take you on a charge of stealing this
box from J. BARTHWICK, Esquire, M.P., of 6, Rockingham Gate.
Anything you say may be used against you. Well, Missis?
MRS. JONES. [In her quiet voice, still out of breath, her hand
upon her breast.] Of course I did not take it, sir. I never have
taken anything that did n't belong to me; and of course I know
nothing about it.
SNOW. You were at the house this morning; you did the room in which
the box was left; you were alone in the room. I find the box 'ere.
You say you did n't take it?
MRS. JONES. Yes, sir, of course I say I did not take it, because I
SNOW. Then how does the box come to be here?
MRS. JONES. I would rather not say anything about it.
SNOW. Is this your husband?
MRS. JONES. Yes, sir, this is my husband, sir.
SNOW. Do you wish to say anything before I take her?
[JONES remains silent, with his head bend down.]
Well then, Missis. I 'll just trouble you to come along with me
MRS. JONES. [Twisting her hands.] Of course I would n't say I had
n't taken it if I had--and I did n't take it, indeed I did n't. Of
course I know appearances are against me, and I can't tell you what
really happened: But my children are at school, and they'll be
coming home--and I don't know what they'll do without me.
SNOW. Your 'usband'll see to them, don't you worry. [He takes the
woman gently by the arm.]
JONES. You drop it--she's all right! [Sullenly.] I took the thing
SNOW. [Eyeing him] There, there, it does you credit. Come along,
JONES. [Passionately.] Drop it, I say, you blooming teck. She's
my wife; she 's a respectable woman. Take her if you dare!
SNOW. Now, now. What's the good of this? Keep a civil tongue, and
it'll be the better for all of us.
[He puts his whistle in his mouth and draws the woman to the
JONES. [With a rush.] Drop her, and put up your 'ands, or I 'll
soon make yer. You leave her alone, will yer! Don't I tell yer, I
took the thing myself.
SNOW. [Blowing his whistle.] Drop your hands, or I 'll take you
too. Ah, would you?
[JONES, closing, deals him a blow. A Policeman in uniform
appears; there is a short struggle and JONES is overpowered.
MRS. JONES raises her hands avid drops her face on them.]
The curtain falls.
The BARTHWICKS' dining-room the same evening. The BARTHWICKS
are seated at dessert.
MRS. BARTHWICK. John! [A silence broken by the cracking of nuts.]
BARTHWICK. I wish you'd speak about the nuts they're uneatable.
[He puts one in his mouth.]
MRS. BARTHWICK. It's not the season for them. I called on the
[BARTHWICK fills his glass with port.]
JACK. Crackers, please, Dad.
[BARTHWICK passes the crackers. His demeanour is reflective.]
MRS. BARTHWICK. Lady Holyrood has got very stout. I 've noticed it
coming for a long time.
BARTHWICK. [Gloomily.] Stout? [He takes up the crackers--with
transparent airiness.] The Holyroods had some trouble with their
servants, had n't they?
JACK. Crackers, please, Dad.
BARTHWICK. [Passing the crackers.] It got into the papers. The
cook, was n't it?
MRS. BARTHWICK. No, the lady's maid. I was talking it over with
Lady Holyrood. The girl used to have her young man to see her.
BARTHWICK. [Uneasily.] I'm not sure they were wise----
MRS. BARTHWICK. My dear John, what are you talking about? How
could there be any alternative? Think of the effect on the other
BARTHWICK. Of course in principle--I wasn't thinking of that.
JACK. [Maliciously.] Crackers, please, Dad.
[BARTHWICK is compelled to pass the crackers.]
MRS. BARTHWICK. Lady Holyrood told me: "I had her up," she said; "I
said to her, 'You'll leave my house at once; I think your conduct
disgraceful. I can't tell, I don't know, and I don't wish to know,
what you were doing. I send you away on principle; you need not
come to me for a character.' And the girl said: 'If you don't give
me my notice, my lady, I want a month's wages. I'm perfectly
respectable. I've done nothing.'"'--Done nothing!
MRS. BARTHWICK. Servants have too much license. They hang together
so terribly you never can tell what they're really thinking; it's as
if they were all in a conspiracy to keep you in the dark. Even with
Marlow, you feel that he never lets you know what's really in his
mind. I hate that secretiveness; it destroys all confidence. I
feel sometimes I should like to shake him.
JACK. Marlow's a most decent chap. It's simply beastly every one
knowing your affairs.
BARTHWICK. The less you say about that the better!
MRS. BARTHWICK. It goes all through the lower classes. You can not
tell when they are speaking the truth. To-day when I was shopping
after leaving the Holyroods, one of these unemployed came up and
spoke to me. I suppose I only had twenty yards or so to walk to the
carnage, but he seemed to spring up in the street.
BARTHWICK. Ah! You must be very careful whom you speak to in these
MRS. BARTHWICK. I did n't answer him, of course. But I could see
at once that he wasn't telling the truth.
BARTHWICK. [Cracking a nut.] There's one very good rule--look at
JACK. Crackers, please, Dad.
BARTHWICK. [Passing the crackers.] If their eyes are
straight-forward I sometimes give them sixpence. It 's against my
principles, but it's most difficult to refuse. If you see that
they're desperate, and dull, and shifty-looking, as so many of them
are, it's certain to mean drink, or crime, or something
MRS. BARTHWICK. This man had dreadful eyes. He looked as if he
could commit a murder. "I 've 'ad nothing to eat to-day," he said.
Just like that.
BARTHWICK. What was William about? He ought to have been waiting.
JACK. [Raising his wine-glass to his nose.] Is this the '63, Dad?
[BARTHWICK, holding his wine-glass to his eye, lowers it and
passes it before his nose.]
MRS. BARTHWICK. I hate people that can't speak the truth. [Father
and son exchange a look behind their port.] It 's just as easy to
speak the truth as not. I've always found it easy enough. It makes
it impossible to tell what is genuine; one feels as if one were
continually being taken in.
BARTHWICK. [Sententiously.] The lower classes are their own
enemies. If they would only trust us, they would get on so much
MRS. BARTHWICK. But even then it's so often their own fault. Look
at that Mrs. Jones this morning.
BARTHWICK. I only want to do what's right in that matter. I had
occasion to see Roper this afternoon. I mentioned it to him. He's
coming in this evening. It all depends on what the detective says.
I've had my doubts. I've been thinking it over.
MRS. BARTHWICK. The woman impressed me most unfavourably. She
seemed to have no shame. That affair she was talking about--she and
the man when they were young, so immoral! And before you and Jack!
I could have put her out of the room!
BARTHWICK. Oh! I don't want to excuse them, but in looking at
these matters one must consider----
MRS. BARTHWICK. Perhaps you'll say the man's employer was wrong in
BARTHWICK. Of course not. It's not there that I feel doubt. What
I ask myself is----
JACK. Port, please, Dad.
BARTHWICK. [Circulating the decanter in religious imitation of the
rising and setting of the sun.] I ask myself whether we are
sufficiently careful in making inquiries about people before we
engage them, especially as regards moral conduct.
JACK. Pass the-port, please, Mother!
MRS. BARTHWICK. [Passing it.] My dear boy, are n't you drinking
[JACK fills his glass.]
MARLOW. [Entering.] Detective Snow to see you, Sir.
BARTHWICK. [Uneasily.] Ah! say I'll be with him in a minute.
MRS. BARTHWICK. [Without turning.] Let him come in here, Marlow.
[SNOW enters in an overcoat, his bowler hat in hand.]
BARTHWICK. [Half-rising.] Oh! Good evening!
SNOW. Good evening, sir; good evening, ma'am. I 've called round to
report what I 've done, rather late, I 'm afraid--another case took
me away. [He takes the silver box out o f his pocket, causing a
sensation in the BARTHWICK family.] This is the identical article,
BARTHWICK. Certainly, certainly.
SNOW. Havin' your crest and cypher, as you described to me, sir, I
'd no hesitation in the matter.
BARTHWICK. Excellent. Will you have a glass of [he glances at the
waning port]--er--sherry-[pours out sherry]. Jack, just give Mr.
[JACK rises and gives the glass to SNOW; then, lolling in his
chair, regards him indolently.]
SNOW. [Drinking off wine and putting down the glass.] After seeing
you I went round to this woman's lodgings, sir. It's a low
neighborhood, and I thought it as well to place a constable below
--and not without 'e was wanted, as things turned out.
SNOW. Yes, Sir, I 'ad some trouble. I asked her to account for the
presence of the article. She could give me no answer, except to
deny the theft; so I took her into custody; then her husband came
for me, so I was obliged to take him, too, for assault. He was very
violent on the way to the station--very violent--threatened you and
your son, and altogether he was a handful, I can till you.
MRS. BARTHWICK. What a ruffian he must be!
SNOW. Yes, ma'am, a rough customer.
JACK. [Sipping his mine, bemused.] Punch the beggar's head.
SNOW. Given to drink, as I understand, sir.
MRS. BARTHWICK. It's to be hoped he will get a severe punishment.
SNOW. The odd thing is, sir, that he persists in sayin' he took the
BARTHWICK. Took the box himself! [He smiles.] What does he think
to gain by that?
SNOW. He says the young gentleman was intoxicated last night
[JACK stops the cracking of a nut, and looks at SNOW.]
[BARTHWICK, losing his smile, has put his wine-glass down;
there is a silence--SNOW, looking from face to face, remarks]
--took him into the house and gave him whisky; and under the
influence of an empty stomach the man says he took the box.
MRS. BARTHWICK. The impudent wretch!
BARTHWICK. D' you mean that he--er--intends to put this forward
SNOW. That'll be his line, sir; but whether he's endeavouring to
shield his wife, or whether [he looks at JACK] there's something in
it, will be for the magistrate to say.
MRS. BARTHWICK. [Haughtily.] Something in what? I don't
understand you. As if my son would bring a man like that into the
BARTHWICK. [From the fireplace, with an effort to be calm.] My son
can speak for himself, no doubt. Well, Jack, what do you say?
MRS. BARTHWICK. [Sharply.] What does he say? Why, of course, he
says the whole story's stuff!
JACK. [Embarrassed.] Well, of course, I--of course, I don't know
anything about it.
MRS. BARTHWICK. I should think not, indeed! [To Snow.] The man is
an audacious ruffian!
BARTHWICK. [Suppressing jumps.] But in view of my son's saying
there's nothing in this--this fable--will it be necessary to proceed
against the man under the circumstances?
SNOW. We shall have to charge him with the assault, sir. It would
be as well for your son to come down to the Court. There'll be a
remand, no doubt. The queer thing is there was quite a sum of money
found on him, and a crimson silk purse.
[BARTHWICK starts; JACK rises and sits dozen again.]
I suppose the lady has n't missed her purse?
BARTHWICK. [Hastily.] Oh, no! Oh! No!
MRS. BARTHWICK. [Dreamily.] No! [To SNOW.] I 've been inquiring
of the servants. This man does hang about the house. I shall feel
much safer if he gets a good long sentence; I do think we ought to
be protected against such ruffians.
BARTHWICK. Yes, yes, of course, on principle but in this case we
have a number of things to think of. [To SNOW.] I suppose, as you
say, the man must be charged, eh?
SNOW. No question about that, sir.
BARTHWICK. [Staring gloomily at JACK.] This prosecution goes very
much against the grain with me. I have great sympathy with the
poor. In my position I 'm bound to recognise the distress there is
amongst them. The condition of the people leaves much to be
desired. D' you follow me? I wish I could see my way to drop it.
MRS. BARTHWICK. [Sharply.] John! it's simply not fair to other
people. It's putting property at the mercy of any one who likes to
BARTHWICK. [Trying to make signs to her aside.] I 'm not defending
him, not at all. I'm trying to look at the matter broadly.
MRS. BARTHWICK. Nonsense, John, there's a time for everything.
SNOW. [Rather sardonically.] I might point out, sir, that to
withdraw the charge of stealing would not make much difference,
because the facts must come out [he looks significantly at JACK] in
reference to the assault; and as I said that charge will have to go
BARTHWICK. [Hastily.] Yes, oh! exactly! It's entirely on the
woman's account--entirely a matter of my own private feelings.
SNOW. If I were you, sir, I should let things take their course.
It's not likely there'll be much difficulty. These things are very
BARTHWICK. [Doubtfully.] You think so--you think so?
JACK. [Rousing himself.] I say, what shall I have to swear to?
SNOW. That's best known to yourself, sir. [Retreating to the
door.] Better employ a solicitor, sir, in case anything should
arise. We shall have the butler to prove the loss of the article.
You'll excuse me going, I 'm rather pressed to-night. The case may
come on any time after eleven. Good evening, sir; good evening,
ma'am. I shall have to produce the box in court to-morrow, so if
you'll excuse me, sir, I may as well take it with me.
[He takes the silver box and leaves them with a little bow.]
[BARTHWICK makes a move to follow him, then dashing his hands
beneath his coat tails, speaks with desperation.]
BARTHWICK. I do wish you'd leave me to manage things myself. You
will put your nose into matters you know nothing of. A pretty mess
you've made of this!
MRS. BARTHWICK. [Coldly.] I don't in the least know what you're
talking about. If you can't stand up for your rights, I can. I 've
no patience with your principles, it's such nonsense.
BARTHWICK. Principles! Good Heavens! What have principles to do
with it for goodness sake? Don't you know that Jack was drunk last
MRS. BARTHWICK. [In horror rising.] Jack!
JACK. Look here, Mother--I had supper. Everybody does. I mean to
say--you know what I mean--it's absurd to call it being drunk. At
Oxford everybody gets a bit "on" sometimes----
MRS. BARTHWICK. Well, I think it's most dreadful! If that is
really what you do at Oxford?
JACK. [Angrily.] Well, why did you send me there? One must do as
other fellows do. It's such nonsense, I mean, to call it being
drunk. Of course I 'm awfully sorry. I 've had such a beastly
headache all day.
BARTHWICK. Tcha! If you'd only had the common decency to remember
what happened when you came in. Then we should know what truth
there was in what this fellow says--as it is, it's all the most
JACK. [Staring as though at half-formed visions.] I just get a--
and then--it 's gone----
MRS. BARTHWICK. Oh, Jack! do you mean to say you were so tipsy you
can't even remember----
JACK. Look here, Mother! Of course I remember I came--I must have
BARTHWICK. [Unguardedly, and walking up and down.] Tcha!--and that
infernal purse! Good Heavens! It'll get into the papers. Who on
earth could have foreseen a thing like this? Better to have lost a
dozen cigarette-boxes, and said nothing about it. [To his wife.]
It's all your doing. I told you so from the first. I wish to
goodness Roper would come!
MRS. BARTHWICK. [Sharply.] I don't know what you're talking about,
BARTHWICK. [Turning on her.] No, you--you--you don't know
anything! [Sharply.] Where the devil is Roper? If he can see a
way out of this he's a better man than I take him for. I defy any
one to see a way out of it. I can't.
JACK. Look here, don't excite Dad--I can simply say I was too
beastly tired, and don't remember anything except that I came in and
[in a dying voice] went to bed the same as usual.
BARTHWICK. Went to bed? Who knows where you went--I 've lost all
confidence. For all I know you slept on the floor.
JACK. [Indignantly.] I did n't, I slept on the----
BARTHWICK. [Sitting on the sofa.] Who cares where you slept; what
does it matter if he mentions the--the--a perfect disgrace?
MRS. BARTHWICK. What? [A silence.] I insist on knowing.
JACK. Oh! nothing.
MRS. BARTHWICK. Nothing? What do you mean by nothing, Jack?
There's your father in such a state about it!
JACK. It's only my purse.
MRS. BARTHWICK. Your purse! You know perfectly well you have n't
JACK. Well, it was somebody else's--it was all a joke--I did n't
want the beastly thing.
MRS. BARTHWICK. Do you mean that you had another person's purse,
and that this man took it too?
BARTHWICK. Tcha! Of course he took it too! A man like that Jones
will make the most of it. It'll get into the papers.
MRS. BARTHWICK. I don't understand. What on earth is all the fuss
about? [Bending over JACK, and softly.] Jack now, tell me dear!
Don't be afraid. What is it? Come!
JACK. Oh, don't Mother!
MRS. BARTHWICK. But don't what, dear?
JACK. It was pure sport. I don't know how I got the thing. Of
course I 'd had a bit of a row--I did n't know what I was doing--I
was--I Was--well, you know--I suppose I must have pulled the bag out
of her hand.
MRS. BARTHWICK. Out of her hand? Whose hand? What bag--whose bag?
JACK. Oh! I don't know--her bag--it belonged to--[in a desperate
and rising voice] a woman.
MRS. BARTHWICK. A woman? Oh! Jack! No!
JACK. [Jumping up.] You would have it. I did n't want to tell
you. It's not my fault.
[The door opens and MARLOW ushers in a man of middle age,
inclined to corpulence, in evening dress. He has a ruddy, thin
moustache, and dark, quick-moving little eyes. His eyebrows
MARLOW. Mr. Roper, Sir. [He leaves the room.]
ROPER. [With a quick look round.] How do you do?
[But neither JACK nor MRS. BARTHWICK make a sign.]
BARTHWICK. [Hurrying.] Thank goodness you've come, Roper. You
remember what I told you this afternoon; we've just had the
ROPER. Got the box?
BARTHWICK. Yes, yes, but look here--it was n't the charwoman at
all; her drunken loafer of a husband took the things--he says that
fellow there [he waves his hand at JACK, who with his shoulder
raised, seems trying to ward off a blow] let him into the house last
night. Can you imagine such a thing.
[Roper laughs. ]
BARTHWICK. [With excited emphasis.]. It's no laughing matter,
Roper. I told you about that business of Jack's too--don't you see
the brute took both the things--took that infernal purse. It'll get
into the papers.
ROPER. [Raising his eyebrows.] H'm! The purse! Depravity in high
life! What does your son say?
BARTHWICK. He remembers nothing. D--n! Did you ever see such a
mess? It 'll get into the papers.
MRS. BARTHWICK. [With her hand across hey eyes.] Oh! it's not
[BARTHWICK and ROPER turn and look at her.]
BARTHWICK. It's the idea of that woman--she's just heard----
[ROPER nods. And MRS. BARTHWICK, setting her lips, gives a
slow look at JACK, and sits down at the table.]
What on earth's to be done, Roper? A ruffian like this Jones will
make all the capital he can out of that purse.
MRS. BARTHWICK. I don't believe that Jack took that purse.
BARTHWICK. What--when the woman came here for it this morning?
MRS. BARTHWICK. Here? She had the impudence? Why was n't I told?
[She looks round from face to face--no one answers hey, there
is a pause.]
BARTHWICK. [Suddenly.] What's to be done, Roper?
ROPER. [Quietly to JACK.] I suppose you did n't leave your
latch-key in the door?
JACK. [Sullenly.] Yes, I did.
BARTHWICK. Good heavens! What next?
MRS. BARTHWICK. I 'm certain you never let that man into the house,
Jack, it's a wild invention. I'm sure there's not a word of truth
in it, Mr. Roper.
ROPER. [Very suddenly.] Where did you sleep last night?
JACK. [Promptly.] On the sofa, there--[hesitating]--that is--I----
BARTHWICK. On the sofa? D' you mean to say you did n't go to bed?
BARTHWICK. If you don't remember anything, how can you remember
JACK. Because I woke up there in the morning.
MRS. BARTHWICK. Oh, Jack!
BARTHWICK. Good Gracious!
JACK. And Mrs. Jones saw me. I wish you would n't bait me so.
ROPER. Do you remember giving any one a drink?
JACK. By Jove, I do seem to remember a fellow with--a fellow with
[He looks at Roper.] I say, d' you want me----?
ROPER. [Quick as lightning.] With a dirty face?
JACK. [With illumination.] I do--I distinctly remember his----
[BARTHWICK moves abruptly; MRS. BARTHWICK looks at ROPER
angrily, and touches her son's arm.]
MRS. BARTHWICK. You don't remember, it's ridiculous! I don't
believe the man was ever here at all.
BARTHWICK. You must speak the truth, if it is the truth. But if
you do remember such a dirty business, I shall wash my hands of you
JACK. [Glaring at them.] Well, what the devil----
MRS. BARTHWICK. Jack!
JACK. Well, Mother, I--I don't know what you do want.
MRS. BARTHWICK. We want you to speak the truth and say you never
let this low man into the house.
BARTHWICK. Of course if you think that you really gave this man
whisky in that disgraceful way, and let him see what you'd been
doing, and were in such a disgusting condition that you don't
remember a word of it----
ROPER. [Quick.] I've no memory myself--never had.
BARTHWICK. [Desperately.] I don't know what you're to say.
ROPER. [To JACK.] Say nothing at all! Don't put yourself in a
false position. The man stole the things or the woman stole the
things, you had nothing to do with it. You were asleep on the sofa.
MRS. BARTHWICK. Your leaving the latch-key in the door was quite
bad enough, there's no need to mention anything else. [Touching his
forehead softly.] My dear, how hot your head is!
JACK. But I want to know what I 'm to do. [Passionately.] I won't
be badgered like this.
[MRS. BARTHWICK recoils from him.]
ROPER. [Very quickly.] You forget all about it. You were asleep.
JACK. Must I go down to the Court to-morrow?
ROPER. [Shaking his head.] No.
BARTHWICK. [In a relieved voice.] Is that so?
BARTHWICK. But you'll go, Roper.
JACK. [With wan cheerfulness.] Thanks, awfully! So long as I
don't have to go. [Putting his hand up to his head.] I think if
you'll excuse me--I've had a most beastly day. [He looks from his
father to his mother.]
MRS. BARTHWICK. [Turning quickly.] Goodnight, my boy.
JACK. Good-night, Mother.
[He goes out. MRS. BARTHWICK heaves a sigh. There is a
BARTHWICK. He gets off too easily. But for my money that woman
would have prosecuted him.
ROPER. You find money useful.
BARTHWICK. I've my doubts whether we ought to hide the truth----
ROPER. There'll be a remand.
BARTHWICK. What! D' you mean he'll have to appear on the remand.
BARTHWICK. H'm, I thought you'd be able to----Look here, Roper,
you must keep that purse out of the papers.
[ROPER fixes his little eyes on him and nods.]
MRS. BARTHWICK. Mr. Roper, don't you think the magistrate ought to
be told what sort of people these Jones's are; I mean about their
immorality before they were married. I don't know if John told you.
ROPER. Afraid it's not material.
MRS. BARTHWICK. Not material?
ROPER. Purely private life! May have happened to the magistrate.
BARTHWICK. [With a movement as if to shift a burden.] Then you'll
take the thing into your hands?
ROPER. If the gods are kind. [He holds his hand out.]
BARTHWICK. [Shaking it dubiously.] Kind eh? What? You going?
ROPER. Yes. I've another case, something like yours--most
[He bows to MRS. BARTHWICK, and goes out, followed by
BARTHWICK, talking to the last. MRS. BARTHWICK at the table
bursts into smothered sobs. BARTHWICK returns.]
BARTHWICK. [To himself.] There'll be a scandal!
MRS. BARTHWICK. [Disguising her grief at once.] I simply can't
imagine what Roper means by making a joke of a thing like that!
BARTHWICK. [Staring strangely.] You! You can't imagine anything!
You've no more imagination than a fly!
MRS. BARTHWICK. [Angrily.] You dare to tell me that I have no
BARTHWICK. [Flustered.] I--I 'm upset. From beginning to end, the
whole thing has been utterly against my principles.
MRS. BARTHWICK. Rubbish! You have n't any! Your principles are
nothing in the world but sheer fright!
BARTHWICK. [Walking to the window.] I've never been frightened in
my life. You heard what Roper said. It's enough to upset one when
a thing like this happens. Everything one says and does seems to
turn in one's mouth--it's--it's uncanny. It's not the sort of thing
I've been accustomed to. [As though stifling, he throws the window
open. The faint sobbing of a child comes in.] What's that?
MRS. BARTHWICK. [Sharply.] I can't stand that crying. I must send
Marlow to stop it. My nerves are all on edge. [She rings the
BARTHWICK. I'll shut the window; you'll hear nothing. [He shuts
the window. There is silence.]
MRS. BARTHWICK. [Sharply.] That's no good! It's on my nerves.
Nothing upsets me like a child's crying.
[MARLOW comes in.]
What's that noise of crying, Marlow? It sounds like a child.
BARTHWICK. It is a child. I can see it against the railings.
MARLOW. [Opening the window, and looking out quietly.] It's Mrs.
Jones's little boy, ma'am; he came here after his mother.
MRS. BARTHWICK. [Moving quickly to the window.] Poor little chap!
John, we ought n't to go on with this!
BARTHWICK. [Sitting heavily in a chair.] Ah! but it's out of our
[MRS. BARTHWICK turns her back to the window. There is an
expression of distress on hey face. She stands motionless,
compressing her lips. The crying begins again. BARTHWICK
coveys his ears with his hands, and MARLOW shuts the window.
The crying ceases.]
The curtain falls.
Eight days have passed, and the scene is a London Police Court
at one o'clock. A canopied seat of Justice is surmounted by
the lion and unicorn. Before the fire a worn-looking
MAGISTRATE is warming his coat-tails, and staring at two little
girls in faded blue and orange rags, who are placed before the
dock. Close to the witness-box is a RELIEVING OFFICER in an
overcoat, and a short brown beard. Beside the little girls
stands a bald POLICE CONSTABLE. On the front bench are sitting
BARTHWICK and ROPER, and behind them JACK. In the railed
enclosure are seedy-looking men and women. Some prosperous
constables sit or stand about.
MAGISTRATE. [In his paternal and ferocious voice, hissing his s's.]
Now let us dispose of these young ladies.
USHER. Theresa Livens, Maud Livens.
[The bald CONSTABLE indicates the little girls, who remain
silent, disillusioned, inattentive.]
[The RELIEVING OFFICER Steps into the witness-box.]
USHER. The evidence you give to the Court shall be the truth, the
whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God! Kiss the
[The book is kissed.]
RELIEVING OFFICER. [In a monotone, pausing slightly at each
sentence end, that his evidence may be inscribed.] About ten
o'clock this morning, your Worship, I found these two little girls
in Blue Street, Fulham, crying outside a public-house. Asked where
their home was, they said they had no home. Mother had gone away.
Asked about their father. Their father had no work. Asked where
they slept last night. At their aunt's. I 've made inquiries, your
Worship. The wife has broken up the home and gone on the streets.
The husband is out of work and living in common lodging-houses. The
husband's sister has eight children of her own, and says she can't
afford to keep these little girls any longer.
MAGISTRATE. [Returning to his seat beneath the canopy of justice.]
Now, let me see. You say the mother is on the streets; what
evidence have you of that?
RELIEVING OFFICER. I have the husband here, your Worship.
MAGISTRATE. Very well; then let us see him.
[There are cries of "LIVENS." The MAGISTRATE leans forward,
and stares with hard compassion at the little girls. LIVENS
comes in. He is quiet, with grizzled hair, and a muffler for a
collar. He stands beside the witness-box.]
And you, are their father? Now, why don't you keep your little
girls at home. How is it you leave them to wander about the streets
LIVENS. I've got no home, your Worship. I'm living from 'and to
mouth. I 've got no work; and nothin' to keep them on.
MAGISTRATE. How is that?
LIVENS. [Ashamedly.] My wife, she broke my 'ome up, and pawned the
MAGISTRATE. But what made you let her?
LEVINS. Your Worship, I'd no chance to stop 'er, she did it when I
was out lookin' for work.
MAGISTRATE. Did you ill-treat her?
LIVENS. [Emphatically.] I never raised my 'and to her in my life,
MAGISTRATE. Then what was it--did she drink?
LIVENS. Yes, your Worship.
MAGISTRATE. Was she loose in her behaviour?
LIVENS. [In a low voice.] Yes, your Worship.
MAGISTRATE. And where is she now?
LIVENS. I don't know your Worship. She went off with a man, and
after that I----
MAGISTRATE. Yes, yes. Who knows anything of her? [To the bald
CONSTABLE.] Is she known here?
RELIEVING OFFICER. Not in this district, your Worship; but I have
ascertained that she is well known----
MAGISTRATE. Yes--yes; we'll stop at that. Now [To the Father] you
say that she has broken up your home, and left these little girls.
What provision can you make for them? You look a strong man.
LIVENS. So I am, your Worship. I'm willin' enough to work, but for
the life of me I can't get anything to do.
MAGISTRATE. But have you tried?
LIVENS. I've tried everything, your Worship--I 've tried my
MAGISTRATE. Well, well---- [There is a silence.]
RELIEVING OFFICER. If your Worship thinks it's a case, my people are
willing to take them.
MAGISTRATE. Yes, yes, I know; but I've no evidence that this man is
not the proper guardian for his children.
[He rises oval goes back to the fire.]
RELIEVING OFFICER. The mother, your Worship, is able to get access
MAGISTRATE. Yes, yes; the mother, of course, is an improper person
to have anything to do with them. [To the Father.] Well, now what
do you say?
LIVENS. Your Worship, I can only say that if I could get work I
should be only too willing to provide for them. But what can I do,
your Worship? Here I am obliged to live from 'and to mouth in these
'ere common lodging-houses. I 'm a strong man--I'm willing to work
--I'm half as alive again as some of 'em--but you see, your Worship,
my 'airs' turned a bit, owing to the fever--[Touches his hair]--and
that's against me; and I don't seem to get a chance anyhow.
MAGISTRATE. Yes-yes. [Slowly.] Well, I think it 's a case.
[Staring his hardest at the little girls.] Now, are you willing
that these little girls should be sent to a home.
LIVENS. Yes, your Worship, I should be very willing.
MAGISTRATE. Well, I'll remand them for a week. Bring them again
to-day week; if I see no reason against it then, I 'll make an
RELIEVING OFFICER. To-day week, your Worship.
[The bald CONSTABLE takes the little girls out by the
shoulders. The father follows them. The MAGISTRATE, returning
to his seat, bends over and talks to his CLERK inaudibly.]
BARTHWICK. [Speaking behind his hand.] A painful case, Roper; very
distressing state of things.
ROPER. Hundreds like this in the Police Courts.
BARTHWICK. Most distressing! The more I see of it, the more
important this question of the condition of the people seems to
become. I shall certainly make a point of taking up the cudgels in
the House. I shall move----
[The MAGISTRATE ceases talking to his CLERK.]
[BARTHWICK stops abruptly. There is a stir and MRS. JONES
comes in by the public door; JONES, ushered by policemen, comes
from the prisoner's door. They file into the dock.]
CLERK. James Jones, Jane Jones.
USHER. Jane Jones!
BARTHWICK. [In a whisper.] The purse--the purse must be kept out
of it, Roper. Whatever happens you must keep that out of the
BALD CONSTABLE. Hush!
[MRS. JONES, dressed in hey thin, black, wispy dress, and black
straw hat, stands motionless with hands crossed on the front
rail of the dock. JONES leans against the back rail of the
dock, and keeps half turning, glancing defiantly about him. He
is haggard and unshaven.]
CLERK. [Consulting with his papers.] This is the case remanded
from last Wednesday, Sir. Theft of a silver cigarette-box and
assault on the police; the two charges were taken together. Jane
Jones! James Jones!
MAGISTRATE. [Staring.] Yes, yes; I remember.
CLERK. Jane Jones.
MRS. JONES. Yes, Sir.
CLERK. Do you admit stealing a silver cigarette-box valued at five
pounds, ten shillings, from the house of John BARTHWICK, M.P.,
between the hours of 11 p.m. on Easter Monday and 8.45 a.m. on
Easter Tuesday last? Yes, or no?
MRS. JONES. [In a logy voice.] No, Sir, I do not, sir.
CLERK. James Jones? Do you admit stealing a silver cigarette-box
valued at five pounds, ten shillings, from the house of John
BARTHWICK, M.P., between the hours of 11 p.m. on Easter Monday and
8.45 A.M. on Easter Tuesday last. And further making an assault on
the police when in the execution of their duty at 3 p.m. on Easter
Tuesday? Yes or no?
JONES. [Sullenly.] Yes, but I've got a lot to say about it.
MAGISTRATE. [To the CLERK.] Yes--yes. But how comes it that these
two people are charged with the same offence? Are they husband and
CLERK. Yes, Sir. You remember you ordered a remand for further
evidence as to the story of the male prisoner.
MAGISTRATE. Have they been in custody since?
CLERK. You released the woman on her own recognisances, sir.
MAGISTRATE. Yes, yes, this is the case of the silver box; I
remember now. Well?
CLERK. Thomas Marlow.
[The cry of "THOMAS MARLOW" is repeated MARLOW comes in, and
steps into the witness-box.]
USHER. The evidence you give to the court shall be the truth, the
whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God. Kiss the
[The book is kissed. The silver box is handed up, and placed
on the rail.]
CLERK. [Reading from his papers.] Your name is Thomas Marlow? Are
you, butler to John BARTHWICK, M.P., of 6, Rockingham Gate?
MARLOW. Yes, Sir.
CLERK. Is that the box?
MARLOW. Yes Sir.
CLERK. And did you miss the same at 8.45 on the following morning,
on going to remove the tray?
MARLOW. Yes, Sir.
CLERK. Is the female prisoner known to you?
Is she the charwoman employed at 6, Rockingham Gate?
[Again MARLOW nods.]
Did you at the time of your missing the box find her in the room
MARLOW. Yes, Sir.
CLERK. Did you afterwards communicate the loss to your employer,
and did he send you to the police station?
MARLOW. Yes, Sir.
CLERK. [To MRS. JONES.] Have you anything to ask him?
MRS. JONES. No, sir, nothing, thank you, sir.
CLERK. [To JONES.] James Jones, have you anything to ask this
JONES. I don't know 'im.
MAGISTRATE. Are you sure you put the box in the place you say at
the time you say?
MARLOW. Yes, your Worship.
MAGISTRATE. Very well; then now let us have the officer.
[MARLOW leaves the box, and Snow goes into it.]
USHER. The evidence you give to the court shall be the truth, the
whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God. [The book
CLERK. [Reading from his papers.] Your name is Robert Allow? You
are a detective in the X. B. division of the Metropolitan police
force? According to instructions received did you on Easter Tuesday
last proceed to the prisoner's lodgings at 34, Merthyr Street, St.
Soames's? And did you on entering see the box produced, lying on
SNOW. Yes, Sir.
CLERK. Is that the box?
Snow. [Fingering the box.] Yes, Sir.
CLERK. And did you thereupon take possession of it, and charge the
female prisoner with theft of the box from 6, Rockingham Gate? And
did she deny the same?
SNOW. Yes, Sir.
CLERK. Did you take her into custody?
Snow. Yes, Sir.
MAGISTRATE. What was her behaviour?
SNOW. Perfectly quiet, your Worship. She persisted in the denial.
MAGISTRATE. DO you know her?
SNOW. No, your Worship.
MAGISTRATE. Is she known here?
BALD CONSTABLE. No, your Worship, they're neither of them known,
we 've nothing against them at all.
CLERK. [To MRS. JONES.] Have you anything to ask the officer?
MRS. JONES. No, sir, thank you, I 've nothing to ask him.
MAGISTRATE. Very well then--go on.
CLERK. [Reading from his papers.] And while you were taking the
female prisoner did the male prisoner interpose, and endeavour to
hinder you in the execution of your duty, and did he strike you a
SNOW. Yes, Sir.
CLERK. And did he say, "You, let her go, I took the box myself"?
SNOW. He did.
CLERK. And did you blow your whistle and obtain the assistance of
another constable, and take him into custody?
SNOW. I did.
CLERK. Was he violent on the way to the station, and did he use bad
language, and did he several times repeat that he had taken the box
Did you thereupon ask him in what manner he had stolen the box? And
did you understand him to say he had entered the house at the
invitation of young Mr. BARTHWICK
[BARTHWICK, turning in his seat, frowns at ROPER.]
after midnight on Easter Monday, and partaken of whisky, and that
under the influence of the whisky he had taken the box?
SNOW. I did, sir.
CLERK. And was his demeanour throughout very violent?
SNOW. It was very violent.
JONES. [Breaking in.] Violent---of course it was! You put your
'ands on my wife when I kept tellin' you I took the thing myself.
MAGISTRATE. [Hissing, with protruded neck.] Now--you will have
your chance of saying what you want to say presently. Have you
anything to ask the officer?
JONES. [Sullenly.] No.
MAGISTRATE. Very well then. Now let us hear what the female
prisoner has to say first.
MRS. JONES. Well, your Worship, of course I can only say what I 've
said all along, that I did n't take the box.
MAGISTRATE. Yes, but did you know that it was taken?
MRS. JONES. No, your Worship. And, of course, to what my husband
says, your Worship, I can't speak of my own knowledge. Of course, I
know that he came home very late on the Monday night. It was past
one o'clock when he came in, and he was not himself at all.
MAGISTRATE. Had he been drinking?
MRS. JONES. Yes, your Worship.
MAGISTRATE. And was he drunk?
MRS. JONES. Yes, your Worship, he was almost quite drunk.
MAGISTRATE. And did he say anything to you?
MRS. JONES. No, your Worship, only to call me names. And of course
in the morning when I got up and went to work he was asleep. And I
don't know anything more about it until I came home again. Except
that Mr. BARTHWICK--that 's my employer, your Worship--told me the
box was missing.
MAGISTRATE. Yes, yes.
MRS. JONES. But of course when I was shaking out my husband's coat
the cigarette-box fell out and all the cigarettes were scattered on
MAGISTRATE. You say all the cigarettes were scattered on the bed?
[To SNOW.] Did you see the cigarettes scattered on the bed?
SNOW. No, your Worship, I did not.
MAGISTRATE. You see he says he did n't see them.
JONES. Well, they were there for all that.
SNOW. I can't say, your Worship, that I had the opportunity of
going round the room; I had all my work cut out with the male
MAGISTRATE. [To MRS. JONES.] Well, what more have you to say?
MRS. JONES. Of course when I saw the box, your Worship, I was
dreadfully upset, and I could n't think why he had done such a
thing; when the officer came we were having words about it, because
it is ruin to me, your Worship, in my profession, and I have three
little children dependent on me.
MAGISTRATE. [Protruding his neck]. Yes--yes--but what did he say
MRS. JONES. I asked him whatever came over him to do such a thing
--and he said it was the drink. He said he had had too much to drink,
and something came over him. And of course, your Worship, he had
had very little to eat all day, and the drink does go to the head
when you have not had enough to eat. Your Worship may not know, but
it is the truth. And I would like to say that all through his
married life, I have never known him to do such a thing before,
though we have passed through great hardships and [speaking with
soft emphasis] I am quite sure he would not have done it if he had
been himself at the time.
MAGISTRATE. Yes, yes. But don't you know that that is no excuse?
MRS. JONES. Yes, your Worship. I know that it is no excuse.
[The MAGISTRATE leans over and parleys with his CLERK.]
JACK. [Leaning over from his seat behind.] I say, Dad----
BARTHWICK. Tsst! [Sheltering his mouth he speaks to ROPER.]
Roper, you had better get up now and say that considering the
circumstances and the poverty of the prisoners, we have no wish to
proceed any further, and if the magistrate would deal with the case
as one of disorder only on the part of----
BALD CONSTABLE. HSSShh!
[ROPER shakes his head.]
MAGISTRATE. Now, supposing what you say and what your husband says
is true, what I have to consider is--how did he obtain access to
this house, and were you in any way a party to his obtaining access?
You are the charwoman employed at the house?
MRS. JONES. Yes, your Worship, and of course if I had let him into
the house it would have been very wrong of me; and I have never done
such a thing in any of the houses where I have been employed.
MAGISTRATE. Well--so you say. Now let us hear what story the male
prisoner makes of it.
JONES. [Who leans with his arms on the dock behind, speaks in a
slow, sullen voice.] Wot I say is wot my wife says. I 've never
been 'ad up in a police court before, an' I can prove I took it when
in liquor. I told her, and she can tell you the same, that I was
goin' to throw the thing into the water sooner then 'ave it on my
MAGISTRATE. But how did you get into the HOUSE?
JONES. I was passin'. I was goin' 'ome from the "Goat and Bells."
MAGISTRATE. The "Goat and Bells,"--what is that? A public-house?
JONES. Yes, at the corner. It was Bank 'oliday, an' I'd 'ad a drop
to drink. I see this young Mr. BARTHWICK tryin' to find the keyhole
on the wrong side of the door.
JONES. [Slowly and with many pauses.] Well---I 'elped 'im to find
it--drunk as a lord 'e was. He goes on, an' comes back again, and
says, I 've got nothin' for you, 'e says, but come in an' 'ave a
drink. So I went in just as you might 'ave done yourself. We 'ad a
drink o' whisky just as you might have 'ad, 'nd young Mr. BARTHWICK
says to me, "Take a drink 'nd a smoke. Take anything you like, 'e
says." And then he went to sleep on the sofa. I 'ad some more
whisky--an' I 'ad a smoke--and I 'ad some more whisky--an' I carn't
tell yer what 'appened after that.
MAGISTRATE. Do you mean to say that you were so drunk that you can
JACK. [Softly to his father.] I say, that's exactly what----
JONES. That's what I do mean.
MAGISTRATE. And yet you say you stole the box?
JONES. I never stole the box. I took it.
MAGISTRATE. [Hissing with protruded neck.] You did not steal it--
you took it. Did it belong to you--what is that but stealing?
JONES. I took it.
MAGISTRATE. You took it--you took it away from their house and you
took it to your house----
JONES. [Sullenly breaking in.] I ain't got a house.
MAGISTRATE. Very well, let us hear what this young man Mr.--Mr.
BARTHWICK has to say to your story.
[SNOW leaves the witness-box. The BALD CONSTABLE beckons JACK,
who, clutching his hat, goes into the witness-box. ROPER moves
to the table set apart for his profession.]
SWEARING CLERK. The evidence you give to the court shall be the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.
Kiss the book.
[The book is kissed.]
ROPER. [Examining.] What is your name?
JACK. [In a low voice.] John BARTHWICK, Junior.
[The CLERK writes it down.]
ROPER. Where do you live?
JACK. At 6, Rockingham Gate.
[All his answers are recorded by the Clerk.]
ROPER. You are the son of the owner?
JACK. [In a very low voice.] Yes.
ROPER. Speak up, please. Do you know the prisoners?
JACK. [Looking at the JONESES, in a low voice.] I 've seen Mrs.
Jones. I [in a loud voice] don't know the man.
JONES. Well, I know you!
BALD CONSTABLE. HSSh!
ROPER. Now, did you come in late on the night of Easter Monday?
ROPER. And did you by mistake leave your latch key in the door?
MAGISTRATE. Oh! You left your latch-key in the door?
ROPER. And is that all you can remember about your coming in?
JACK. [In a loud voice.] Yes, it is.
MAGISTRATE. Now, you have heard the male prisoner's story, what do
you say to that?
JACK. [Turning to the MAGISTRATE, speaks suddenly in a confident,
straight-forward voice.] The fact of the matter is, sir, that I 'd
been out to the theatre that night, and had supper afterwards, and I
came in late.
MAGISTRATE. Do you remember this man being outside when you came
JACK. No, Sir. [He hesitates.] I don't think I do.
MAGISTRATE. [Somewhat puzzled.] Well, did he help you to open the
door, as he says? Did any one help you to open the door?
JACK. No, sir--I don't think so, sir--I don't know.
MAGISTRATE. You don't know? But you must know. It is n't a usual
thing for you to have the door opened for you, is it?
JACK. [With a shamefaced smile.] No.
MAGISTRATE. Very well, then----
JACK. [Desperately.] The fact of the matter is, sir, I'm afraid
I'd had too much champagne that night.
MAGISTRATE. [Smiling.] Oh! you'd had too much champagne?
JONES. May I ask the gentleman a question?
MAGISTRATE. Yes--yes--you may ask him what questions you like.
JONES. Don't you remember you said you was a Liberal, same as your
father, and you asked me wot I was?
JACK. [With his hand against his brow.] I seem to remember----
JONES. And I said to you, "I'm a bloomin' Conservative," I said;
an' you said to me, "You look more like one of these 'ere
Socialists. Take wotever you like," you said.
JACK. [With sudden resolution.] No, I don't. I don't remember
anything of the sort.
JONES. Well, I do, an' my word's as good as yours. I 've never
been had up in a police court before. Look 'ere, don't you remember
you had a sky-blue bag in your 'and [BARTHWICK jumps.]
ROPER. I submit to your worship that these questions are hardly to
the point, the prisoner having admitted that he himself does not
remember anything. [There is a smile on the face of Justice.] It
is a case of the blind leading the blind.
JONES. [Violently.] I've done no more than wot he 'as. I'm a poor
man; I've got no money an' no friends--he 's a toff--he can do wot I
MAGISTRATE: Now, now? All this won't help you--you must be quiet.
You say you took this box? Now, what made you take it? Were you
pressed for money?
JONES. I'm always pressed for money.
MAGISTRATE. Was that the reason you took it?
MAGISTRATE. [To SNOW.] Was anything found on him?
SNOW. Yes, your worship. There was six pounds twelve shillin's
found on him, and this purse.
[The red silk purse is handed to the MAGISTRATE. BARTHWICK
rises his seat, but hastily sits down again.]
MAGISTRATE. [Staring at the purse.] Yes, yes--let me see [There is
a silence.] No, no, I 've nothing before me as to the purse. How
did you come by all that money?
JONES. [After a long pause, suddenly.] I declines to say.
MAGISTRATE. But if you had all that money, what made you take this
JONES. I took it out of spite.
MAGISTRATE. [Hissing, with protruded neck.] You took it out of
spite? Well now, that's something! But do you imagine you can go
about the town taking things out of spite?
JONES. If you had my life, if you'd been out of work----
MAGISTRATE. Yes, yes; I know--because you're out of work you think
it's an excuse for everything.
JONES. [Pointing at JACK.] You ask 'im wot made 'im take the----
ROPER. [Quietly.] Does your Worship require this witness in the
box any longer?
MAGISTRATE. [Ironically.] I think not; he is hardly profitable.
[JACK leaves the witness-box, and hanging his head, resumes his
JONES. You ask 'im wot made 'im take the lady's----
[But the BALD CONSTABLE catches him by the sleeve.]
BALD CONSTABLE. SSSh!
MAGISTRATE. [Emphatically.] Now listen to me.
I 've nothing to do with what he may or may not have taken. Why did
you resist the police in the execution of their duty?
JONES. It war n't their duty to take my wife, a respectable woman,
that 'ad n't done nothing.
MAGISTRATE. But I say it was. What made you strike the officer a
JONES. Any man would a struck 'im a blow. I'd strike 'im again, I
MAGISTRATE. You are not making your case any better by violence.
How do you suppose we could get on if everybody behaved like you?
JONES. [Leaning forward, earnestly.] Well, wot, about 'er; who's
to make up to 'er for this? Who's to give 'er back 'er good name?
MRS. JONES. Your Worship, it's the children that's preying on his
mind, because of course I 've lost my work. And I've had to find
another room owing to the scandal.
MAGISTRATE. Yes, yes, I know--but if he had n't acted like this
nobody would have suffered.
JONES. [Glaring round at JACK.] I 've done no worse than wot 'e
'as. Wot I want to know is wot 's goin' to be done to 'im.
[The BALD CONSTABLE again says "HSSh"]
ROPER. Mr. BARTHWICK wishes it known, your Worship, that
considering the poverty of the prisoners, he does not press the
charge as to the box. Perhaps your Worship would deal with the case
as one of disorder.
JONES. I don't want it smothered up, I want it all dealt with fair
--I want my rights----
MAGISTRATE. [Rapping his desk.] Now you have said all you have to
say, and you will be quiet.
[There is a silence; the MAGISTRATE bends over and parleys with
Yes, I think I may discharge the woman. [In a kindly voice he
addresses MRS. JONES, who stands unmoving with her hands crossed on
the rail.] It is very unfortunate for you that this man has behaved
as he has. It is not the consequences to him but the consequences
to you. You have been brought here twice, you have lost your work--
[He glares at JONES]--and this is what always happens. Now you may
go away, and I am very sorry it was necessary to bring you here at
MRS. JONES. [Softly.] Thank you very much, your Worship.
[She leaves the dock, and looking back at JONES, twists her
fingers and is still.]
MAGISTRATE. Yes, yes, but I can't pass it over. Go away, there's a
[MRS. JONES stands back. The MAGISTRATE leans his head on his
hand; then raising it he speaks to JONES.]
Now, listen to me. Do you wish the case to be settled here, or do
you wish it to go before a jury?
JONES. [Muttering.] I don't want no jury.
MAGISTRATE. Very well then, I will deal with it here. [After a
pause.] You have pleaded guilty to stealing this box----
JONES. Not to stealin'----
BALD CONSTABLE. HSSShh!
MAGISTRATE. And to assaulting the police----
JONES. Any man as was a man----
MAGISTRATE. Your conduct here has been most improper. You give the
excuse that you were drunk when you stole the box. I tell you that
is no excuse. If you choose to get drunk and break the law
afterwards you must take the consequences. And let me tell you that
men like you, who get drunk and give way to your spite or whatever
it is that's in you, are--are--a nuisance to the community.
JACK. [Leaning from his seat.] Dad! that's what you said to me!
[There is a silence, while the MAGISTRATE consults his CLERK;
JONES leans forward waiting.]
MAGISTRATE. This is your first offence, and I am going to give you
a light sentence. [Speaking sharply, but without expression.] One
month with hard labour.
[He bends, and parleys with his CLERK. The BALD CONSTABLE and
another help JONES from the dock.]
JONES. [Stopping and twisting round.] Call this justice? What
about 'im? 'E got drunk! 'E took the purse--'e took the purse but
[in a muffled shout] it's 'is money got 'im off--JUSTICE!
[The prisoner's door is shut on JONES, and from the
seedy-looking men and women comes a hoarse and whispering groan.]
MAGISTRATE. We will now adjourn for lunch! [He rises from his
[The Court is in a stir. ROPER gets up and speaks to the
reporter. JACK, throwing up his head, walks with a swagger to
the corridor; BARTHWICK follows.]
MRS. JONES. [Turning to him zenith a humble gesture.] Oh! sir!
[BARTHWICK hesitates, then yielding to his nerves, he makes a
shame-faced gesture of refusal, and hurries out of court. MRS.
JONES stands looking after him.]
The curtain falls.
A PLAY ON THE LETTER "I"
IN THREE ACTS
PERSONS OF THE PLAY
COLONEL HOPE, R.A., retired
MRS. HOPE, his wife
MISS BEECH, their old governess
LETTY, their daughter
ERNEST BLUNT, her husband
MRS. GWYN, their niece
JOY, her daughter
DICK MERTON, their young friend
HON. MAURICE LEVER, their guest
ROSE, their parlour-maid
TIME: The present. The action passes throughout midsummer day on the
lawn of Colonel Hope's house, near the Thames above Oxford.
The time is morning, and the scene a level lawn, beyond which
the river is running amongst fields. A huge old beech tree
overshadows everything, in the darkness of whose hollow many
things are hidden. A rustic seat encircles it. A low wall
clothed in creepers, with two openings, divides this lawn from
the flowery approaches to the house. Close to the wall there is
a swing. The sky is clear and sunny. COLONEL HOPE is seated in
a garden-chair, reading a newspaper through pince-nez. He is
fifty-five and bald, with drooping grey moustaches and a
weather-darkened face. He wears a flannel suit and a hat from
Panama; a tennis racquet leans against his chair. MRS. HOPE
comes quickly through the opening of the wall, with roses in her
hands. She is going grey; she wears tan gauntlets, and no hat.
Her manner is decided, her voice emphatic, as though aware that
there is no nonsense in its owner's composition. Screened from
sight, MISS BEECH is seated behind the hollow tree; and JOY is
perched on a lower branch hidden by foliage.
MRS. HOPE. I told Molly in my letter that she'd have to walk up,
COLONEL. Walk up in this heat? My dear, why didn't you order
MRS. HOPE. Expense for nothing! Bob can bring up her things in the
barrow. I've told Joy I won't have her going down to meet the train.
She's so excited about her mother's coming there's no doing anything
COLONEL. No wonder, after two months.
MRS. HOPE. Well, she's going home to-morrow; she must just keep
herself fresh for the dancing tonight. I'm not going to get people
in to dance, and have Joy worn out before they begin.
COLONEL. [Dropping his paper.] I don't like Molly's walking up.
MRS. HOPE. A great strong woman like Molly Gwyn! It isn't half a
COLONEL. I don't like it, Nell; it's not hospitable.
MRS. HOPE. Rubbish! If you want to throw away money, you must just
find some better investment than those wretched 3 per cents. of
yours. The greenflies are in my roses already! Did you ever see
anything so disgusting? [They bend over the roses they have grown,
and lose all sense of everything.] Where's the syringe? I saw you
mooning about with it last night, Tom.
COLONEL. [Uneasily.] Mooning!
[He retires behind his paper. MRS. HOPE enters the hollow of
There's an account of that West Australian swindle. Set of ruffians!
Listen to this, Nell! "It is understood that amongst the
share-holders are large numbers of women, clergymen, and Army officers."
How people can be such fools!
[Becoming aware that his absorption is unobserved, he drops his
glasses, and reverses his chair towards the tree.]
MRS. HOPE. [Reappearing with a garden syringe.] I simply won't have
Dick keep his fishing things in the tree; there's a whole potful of
disgusting worms. I can't touch them. You must go and take 'em out,
[In his turn the COLONEL enters the hollow of the tree.]
MRS. HOPE. [Personally.] What on earth's the pleasure of it? I
can't see! He never catches anything worth eating.
[The COLONEL reappears with a paint pot full of worms; he holds
them out abstractedly.]
MRS. HOPE. [Jumping.] Don't put them near me!
MISS BEECH. [From behind the tree.] Don't hurt the poor creatures.
COLONEL. [Turning.] Hallo, Peachey? What are you doing round
[He puts the worms down on the seat.]
MRS. HOPE. Tom, take the worms off that seat at once!
COLONEL. [Somewhat flurried.] Good gad! I don't know what to do
with the beastly worms!
MRS. HOPE. It's not my business to look after Dick's worms. Don't
put them on the ground. I won't have them anywhere where they can
crawl about. [She flicks some greenflies off her roses.]
COLONEL. [Looking into the pot as though the worms could tell him
where to put them.] Dash!
MISS BEECH. Give them to me.
MRS. HOPE. [Relieved.] Yes, give them to Peachey.
[There comes from round the tree Miss BEECH, old-fashioned,
barrel-shaped, balloony in the skirts. She takes the paint pot,
and sits beside it on the rustic seat.]
MISS BEECH. Poor creatures!
MRS. HOPE. Well, it's beyond me how you can make pets of worms-
wriggling, crawling, horrible things!
[ROSE, who is young and comely, in a pale print frock, comes
from the house and places letters before her on a silver
[Taking the letters.]
What about Miss joy's frock, Rose?
ROSE. Please, 'm, I can't get on with the back without Miss Joy.
MRS. HOPE. Well, then you must just find her. I don't know where
ROSE. [In a slow, sidelong manner.] If you please, Mum, I think
Miss Joy's up in the----
[She stops, seeing Miss BEECH signing to her with both hands.]
MRS. HOPE. [Sharply.] What is it, Peachey?
MISS BEECH. [Selecting a finger.] Pricked meself!
MRS. HOPE. Let's look!
[She bends to look, but Miss BEECH places the finger in her
ROSE. [Glancing askance at the COLONEL.] If you please, Mum, it's
below the waist; I think I can manage with the dummy.
MRS. HOPE. Well, you can try. [Opening her letter as ROSE retires.]
Here's Molly about her train.
MISS BEECH. Is there a letter for me?
MRS. HOPE. No, Peachey.
MISS BEECH. There never is.
COLONEL. What's that? You got four by the first post.
MISS BEECH. Exceptions!
COLONEL. [Looking over his glasses.] Why! You know, you get 'em
MRS. HOPE. Molly says she'll be down by the eleven thirty. [In an
injured voice.] She'll be here in half an hour! [Reading with
disapproval from the letter.] "MAURICE LEVER is coming down by the
same train to see Mr. Henty about the Tocopala Gold Mine. Could you
give him a bed for the night?"
[Silence, slight but ominous.]
COLONEL. [Calling into his aid his sacred hospitality.] Of course
we must give him a bed!
MRS. HOPE. Just like a man! What room I should like to know!
MRS. HOPE. As if Molly wouldn't have the pink!
COLONEL. [Ruefully.] I thought she'd have the blue!
MRS. HOPE. You know perfectly well it's full of earwigs, Tom. I
killed ten there yesterday morning.
MISS BEECH. Poor creatures!
MRS. HOPE. I don't know that I approve of this Mr. Lever's dancing
attendance. Molly's only thirty-six.
COLONEL. [In a high voice.] You can't refuse him a bed; I never
heard of such a thing.
MRS. HOPE. [Reading from the letter.] "This gold mine seems to be a
splendid chance. [She glances at the COLONEL.] I've put all my
spare cash into it. They're issuing some Preference shares now; if
Uncle Tom wants an investment"--[She pauses, then in a changed,
decided voice ]--Well, I suppose I shall have to screw him in
COLONEL. What's that about gold mines? Gambling nonsense! Molly
ought to know my views.
MRS. HOPE. [Folding the letter away out of her consciousness.] Oh!
your views! This may be a specially good chance.
MISS BEECH. Ahem! Special case!
MRS. HOPE. [Paying no attention.] I 'm sick of these 3 per cent.
dividends. When you've only got so little money, to put it all into
that India Stock, when it might be earning 6 per cent. at least,
quite safely! There are ever so many things I want.
COLONEL. There you go!
MRS. HOPE. As to Molly, I think it's high time her husband came home
to look after her, instead of sticking out there in that hot place.
[Miss BEECH looks up at the tree and exhibits cerebral
I don't know what Geoff's about; why doesn't he find something in
England, where they could live together.
COLONEL. Don't say anything against Molly, Nell!
MRS. HOPE. Well, I don't believe in husband and wife being
separated. That's not my idea of married life.
[The COLONEL whistles quizzically.]
Ah, yes, she's your niece, not mime! Molly's very----
MISS BEECH. Ouch! [She sucks her finger.]
MRS. HOPE. Well, if I couldn't sew at your age, Peachey, without
pricking my fingers! Tom, if I have Mr. Lever here, you'll just
attend to what I say and look into that mine!
COLONEL. Look into your grandmother! I have n't made a study of
geology for nothing. For every ounce you take out of a gold mine,
you put an ounce and a half in. Any fool knows that, eh, Peachey?
MISS BEECH. I hate your horrid mines, with all the poor creatures
MRS. HOPE. Nonsense, Peachey! As if they'd go there if they did n't
COLONEL. Why don't you read your paper, then you'd see what a lot of
wild-cat things there are about.
MRS. HOPE. [Abstractedly.] I can't put Ernest and Letty in the blue
room, there's only the single bed. Suppose I put Mr. Lever there,
and say nothing about the earwigs. I daresay he'll never notice.
COLONEL. Treat a guest like that!
MRS. HOPE. Then where am I to put him for goodness sake?
COLONEL. Put him in my dressing-room, I'll turn out.
MRS. HOPE. Rubbish, Tom, I won't have you turned out, that's flat.
He can have Joy's room, and she can sleep with the earwigs.
JOY. [From her hiding-place upon a lower branch of the hollow tree.]
[MRS. HOPE and the COLONEL jump.]
COLONEL. God bless my soul!
MRS. HOPE. You wretched girl! I told you never to climb that tree
again. Did you know, Peachey? [Miss BEECH smiles.] She's always up
there, spoiling all her frocks. Come down now, Joy; there's a good
JOY. I don't want to sleep with earwigs, Aunt Nell.
MISS BEECH. I'll sleep with the poor creatures.
MRS. HOPE, [After a pause.] Well, it would be a mercy if you would
for once, Peachey.
COLONEL. Nonsense, I won't have Peachey----
MRS. HOPE. Well, who is to sleep there then?
JOY. [Coaxingly.] Let me sleep with Mother, Aunt Nell, do!
MRS. HOPE. Litter her up with a great girl like you, as if we'd only
one spare room! Tom, see that she comes down--I can't stay here, I
must manage something. [She goes away towards the house.]
COLONEL. [Moving to the tree, and looking up.] You heard what your
JOY. [Softly.] Oh, Uncle Tom!
COLONEL. I shall have to come up after you.
JOY. Oh, do, and Peachey too!
COLONEL. [Trying to restrain a smile.] Peachey, you talk to her.
[Without waiting for MISS BEECH, however, he proceeds.] What'll your
aunt say to me if I don't get you down?
MISS BEECH. Poor creature!
JOY. I don't want to be worried about my frock.
COLONEL. [Scratching his bald head.] Well, I shall catch it.
JOY. Oh, Uncle Tom, your head is so beautiful from here! [Leaning
over, she fans it with a leafy twig.]
MISS BEECH. Disrespectful little toad!
COLONEL. [Quickly putting on his hat.] You'll fall out, and a
pretty mess that'll make on--[he looks uneasily at the ground]--my
[A voice is heard calling "Colonel! Colonel!]"
JOY. There's Dick calling you, Uncle Tom.
DICK. [Appearing in the opening of the wall.] Ernie's waiting to
play you that single, Colonel!
JOY. Quick, Uncle Tom! Oh! do go, before he finds I 'm up here.
MISS. BEECH. Secret little creature!
[The COLONEL picks up his racquet, shakes his fist, and goes
JOY. [Calmly.] I'm coming down now, Peachey.
Look out! I'm dropping on your head.
MISS BEECH. [Unmoved.] Don't hurt yourself!
[Joy drops on the rustic seat and rubs her shin. Told you so!]
[She hunts in a little bag for plaster.]
JOY. [Seeing the worms.] Ugh!
MISS BEECH. What's the matter with the poor creatures?
JOY. They're so wriggly!
[She backs away and sits down in the swing. She is just
seventeen, light and slim, brown-haired, fresh-coloured, and
grey-eyed; her white frock reaches to her ankles, she wears a
sunbonnet.] Peachey, how long were you Mother's governess.
MISS BEECH. Five years.
JOY. Was she as bad to teach as me?
MISS BEECH. Worse!
[Joy claps her hands.]
She was the worst girl I ever taught.
JOY. Then you weren't fond of her?
MISS BEECH. Oh! yes, I was.
JOY. Fonder than of me?
MISS BEECH. Don't you ask such a lot of questions.
JOY. Peachey, duckie, what was Mother's worst fault?
MISS BEECH. Doing what she knew she oughtn't.
JOY. Was she ever sorry?
MISS BEECH. Yes, but she always went on doin' it.
JOY. I think being sorry 's stupid!
MISS BEECH. Oh, do you?
JOY. It isn't any good. Was Mother revengeful, like me?
MISS BEECH. Ah! Wasn't she?
JOY. And jealous?
MISS BEECH. The most jealous girl I ever saw.
JOY. [Nodding.] I like to be like her.
MISS BEECH. [Regarding her intently.] Yes! you've got all your
troubles before you.
JOY. Mother was married at eighteen, wasn't she, Peachey? Was she--
was she much in love with Father then?
MISS BEECH. [With a sniff.] About as much as usual. [She takes the
paint pot, and walking round begins to release the worms.]
JOY. [Indifferently.] They don't get on now, you know.
MISS BEECH. What d'you mean by that, disrespectful little creature?
JOY. [In a hard voice.] They haven't ever since I've known them.
MISS BEECH. [Looks at her, and turns away again.] Don't talk about
JOY. I suppose you don't know Mr. Lever? [Bitterly.] He's such a
cool beast. He never loses his temper.
MISS BEECH. Is that why you don't like him?
JOY. [Frowning.] No--yes--I don't know.
MISS BEECH. Oh! perhaps you do like him?
JOY. I don't; I hate him.
MISS BEECH. [Standing still.] Fie! Naughty Temper!
JOY. Well, so would you! He takes up all Mother's time.
MISS BEECH. [In a peculiar voice.] Oh! does he?
JOY. When he comes I might just as well go to bed. [Passionately.]
And now he's chosen to-day to come down here, when I haven't seen her
for two months! Why couldn't he come when Mother and I'd gone home.
It's simply brutal!
MISS BEECH. But your mother likes him?
JOY. [Sullenly.] I don't want her to like him.
MISS BEECH. [With a long look at Joy.] I see!
JOY. What are you doing, Peachey?
MISS BEECH. [Releasing a worm.] Letting the poor creatures go.
JOY. If I tell Dick he'll never forgive you.
MISS BEECH. [Sidling behind the swing and plucking off Joy's
sunbonnet. With devilry.] Ah-h-h! You've done your hair up; so
that's why you wouldn't come down!
JOY. [Springing up, anal pouting.] I didn't want any one to see
before Mother. You are a pig, Peachey!
MISS BEECH. I thought there was something!
JOY. [Twisting round.] How does it look?
MISS BEECH. I've seen better.
JOY. You tell any one before Mother comes, and see what I do!
MISS BEECH. Well, don't you tell about my worms, then!
JOY. Give me my hat! [Backing hastily towards the tree, and putting
her finger to her lips.] Look out! Dick!
MISS BEECH. Oh! dear!
[She sits down on the swing, concealing the paint pot with her
feet and skirts.]
JOY. [On the rustic seat, and in a violent whisper.] I hope the
worms will crawl up your legs!
[DICK, in flannels and a hard straw hat comes in. He is a quiet
and cheerful boy of twenty. His eyes are always fixed on joy.]
DICK. [Grimacing.] The Colonel's getting licked. Hallo! Peachey,
in the swing?
JOY. [Chuckling.] Swing her, Dick!
MISS BEECH. [Quivering with emotion.] Little creature!
JOY. Swing her!
[DICK takes the ropes.]
MISS BEECH. [Quietly.] It makes me sick, young man.
DICK. [Patting her gently on the back.] All right, Peachey.
MISS BEECH. [Maliciously.] Could you get me my sewing from the
seat? Just behind Joy.
JOY. [Leaning her head against the tree.] If you do, I won't dance
with you to-night.
[DICK stands paralysed. Miss BEECH gets off the swing, picks up
the paint pot, and stands concealing it behind her.]
JOY. Look what she's got behind her, sly old thing!
MISS BEECH. Oh! dear!
JOY. Dance with her, Dick!
MISS BEECH. If he dare!
JOY. Dance with her, or I won't dance with you to-night.
[She whistles a waltz.]
DICK. [Desperately.] Come on then, Peachey. We must.
JOY. Dance, dance!
[DICK seizes Miss BEECH by the waist. She drops the paint pot.
They revolve.] [Convulsed.]
Oh, Peachey, Oh!
[Miss BEECH is dropped upon the rustic seat. DICK seizes joy's
hands and drags her up.]
No, no! I won't!
MISS BEECH. [Panting.] Dance, dance with the poor young man! [She
moves her hands.] La la-la-la la-la la la!
[DICK and JOY dance.]
DICK. By Jove, Joy! You've done your hair up. I say, how jolly!
You do look----
JOY. [Throwing her hands up to her hair.] I did n't mean you to
DICK. [In a hurt voice.] Oh! didn't you? I'm awfully sorry!
JOY. [Flashing round.] Oh, you old Peachey!
[She looks at the ground, and then again at DICK.]
MISS BEECH. [Sidling round the tree.] Oh! dear!
JOY. [Whispering.] She's been letting out your worms.
[Miss BEECH disappears from view.]
DICK. [Quickly.] Hang the worms! Joy, promise me the second and
fourth and sixth and eighth and tenth and supper, to-night. Promise!
[Joy shakes her head.]
It's not much to ask.
JOY. I won't promise anything.
DICK. Why not?
JOY. Because Mother's coming. I won't make any arrangements.
DICK. [Tragically.] It's our last night.
JOY. [Scornfully.] You don't understand! [Dancing and clasping her
hands.] Mother's coming, Mother's coming!
DICK. [Violently.] I wish----Promise, Joy!
JOY. [Looking over her shoulder.] Sly old thing! If you'll pay
Peachey out, I'll promise you supper!
MISS BEECH. [From behind the tree.] I hear you.
JOY. [Whispering.] Pay her out, pay her out! She's let out all
DICK. [Looking moodily at the paint pot.] I say, is it true that
Maurice Lever's coming with your mother? I've met him playing
cricket, he's rather a good sort.
JOY. [Flashing out.] I hate him.
DICK. [Troubled.] Do you? Why? I thought--I didn't know--if I'd
known of course, I'd have----
[He is going to say "hated him too!" But the voices of ERNEST
BLUNT and the COLONEL are heard approaching, in dispute.]
JOY. Oh! Dick, hide me, I don't want my hair seen till Mother
[She springs into the hollow tree. The COLONEL and ERNEST
appear in the opening of the wall.]
ERNEST. The ball was out, Colonel.
COLONEL. Nothing of the sort.
ERNEST. A good foot out.
COLONEL. It was not, sir. I saw the chalk fly.
[ERNEST is twenty-eight, with a little moustache, and the
positive cool voice of a young man who knows that he knows
everything. He is perfectly calm.]
ERNEST. I was nearer to it than you.
COLONEL. [In a high, hot voice.] I don't care where you were, I
hate a fellow who can't keep cool.
MISS BEECH. [From behind the hollow tree.] Fie! Fie!
ERNEST. We're two to one, Letty says the ball was out.
COLONEL. Letty's your wife, she'd say anything.
ERNEST. Well, look here, Colonel, I'll show you the very place it
COLONEL. Gammon! You've lost your temper, you don't know what
you're talking about.
ERNEST. [coolly.] I suppose you'll admit the rule that one umpires
one's own court.
COLONEL. [Hotly.] Certainly not, in this case!
MISS BEECH. [From behind the hollow tree.] Special case!
ERNEST. [Moving chin in collar--very coolly.] Well, of course if
you won't play the game!
COLONEL. [In a towering passion.] If you lose your temper like
this, I 'll never play with you again.
[To LETTY, a pretty soul in a linen suit, approaching through
Do you mean to say that ball was out, Letty?
LETTY. Of course it was, Father.
COLONEL. You say that because he's your husband. [He sits on the
rustic seat.] If your mother'd been there she'd have backed me up!
LETTY. Mother wants Joy, Dick, about her frock.
DICK. I--I don't know where she is.
MISS BEECH. [From behind the hollow tree.] Ahem!
LETTY. What's the matter, Peachey?
MISS BEECH. Swallowed a fly. Poor creature!
ERNEST. [Returning to his point.] Why I know the ball was out,
Colonel, was because it pitched in a line with that arbutus tree.
COLONEL. [Rising.] Arbutus tree! [To his daughter.] Where's your
LETTY. In the blue room, Father.
ERNEST. The ball was a good foot out; at the height it was coming
when it passed me.
COLONEL. [Staring at him.] You're a--you're aa theorist! From
where you were you could n't see the ball at all. [To LETTY.]
Where's your mother?
LETTY. [Emphatically.] In the blue room, Father!
[The COLONEL glares confusedly, and goes away towards the blue
ERNEST. [In the swing, and with a smile.] Your old Dad'll never be
LETTY. [Indignantly.] I wish you wouldn't call Father old, Ernie!
What time's Molly coming, Peachey?
[ROSE has come from the house, and stands waiting for a chance
ERNEST. [Breaking in.] Your old Dad's only got one fault: he can't
take an impersonal view of things.
MISS BEECH. Can you find me any one who can?
ERNEST. [With a smile.] Well, Peachey!
MISS BEECH. [Ironically.] Oh! of course, there's you!
ERNEST. I don't know about that! But----
ROSE. [To LETTY,] Please, Miss, the Missis says will you and Mr.
Ernest please to move your things into Miss Peachey's room.
ERNEST. [Vexed.] Deuce of a nuisance havin' to turn out for this
fellow Lever. What did Molly want to bring him for?
MISS BEECH. Course you've no personal feeling in the matter!
ROSE. [Speaking to Miss BEECH.] The Missis says you're to please
move your things into the blue room, please Miss.
LETTY. Aha, Peachey! That settles you! Come on, Ernie!
[She goes towards the house. ERNEST, rising from the swing,
turns to Miss BEECH, who follows.]
ERNEST. [Smiling, faintly superior.] Personal, not a bit! I only
think while Molly 's out at grass, she oughtn't to----
MISS BEECH. [Sharply.] Oh! do you?
[She hustles ERNEST out through the wall, but his voice is heard
faintly from the distance: "I think it's jolly thin."]
ROSE. [To DICK.] The Missis says you're to take all your worms and
things, Sir, and put them where they won't be seen.
DICK. [Shortly.] Have n't got any!
ROSE. The Missis says she'll be very angry if you don't put your
worms away; and would you come and help kill earwigs in the blue----?
DICK. Hang! [He goes, and ROSE is left alone.]
ROSE. [Looking straight before her.] Please, Miss Joy, the Missis
says will you go to her about your frock.
[There is a little pause, then from the hollow tree joy's voice
ROSE. If you did n't come, I was to tell you she was going to put
you in the blue.
[Joy looks out of the tree.]
[Immovable, but smiling.]
Oh, Miss joy, you've done your hair up! [Joy retires into the tree.]
Please, Miss, what shall I tell the Missis?
JOY. [Joy's voice is heard.] Anything you like.
ROSE. [Over her shoulder.] I shall be drove to tell her a story,
JOY. All right! Tell it.
[ROSE goes away, and JOY comes out. She sits on the rustic seat
and waits. DICK, coming softly from the house, approaches her.]
DICK. [Looking at her intently.] Joy! I wanted to say something
[Joy does not look at him, but twists her fingers.]
I shan't see you again you know after to-morrow till I come up for
the 'Varsity match.
JOY. [Smiling.] But that's next week.
DICK. Must you go home to-morrow?
[Joy nods three times.]
I shall miss you so awfully. You don't know how I----
[Joy shakes her head.]
Do look at me! [JOY steals a look.] Oh! Joy!
[Again joy shakes her head.]
JOY. [Suddenly.] Don't!
DICK. [Seizing her hand.] Oh, Joy! Can't you----
JOY. [Drawing the hand away.] Oh! don't.
DICK. [Bending his head.] It's--it's--so----
JOY. [Quietly.] Don't, Dick!
DICK. But I can't help it! It's too much for me, Joy, I must tell
[MRS. GWYN is seen approaching towards the house.]
JOY. [Spinning round.] It's Mother--oh, Mother!
[She rushes at her.]
[MRS. GWYN is a handsome creature of thirty-six, dressed in a
muslin frock. She twists her daughter round, and kisses her.]
MRS. GWYN. How sweet you look with your hair up, Joy! Who 's this?
[Glancing with a smile at DICK.]
JOY. Dick Merton--in my letters you know.
[She looks at DICK as though she wished him gone.]
MRS. GWYN. How do you do?
DICK. [Shaking hands.] How d 'you do? I think if you'll excuse me
--I'll go in.
[He goes uncertainly.]
MRS. GWYN. What's the matter with him?
JOY. Oh, nothing! [Hugging her.] Mother! You do look such a duck.
Why did you come by the towing-path, was n't it cooking?
MRS. GWYN. [Avoiding her eyes.] Mr. Lever wanted to go into Mr.
[Her manner is rather artificially composed.]
JOY. [Dully.] Oh! Is he-is he really coming here, Mother?
MRS. GWYN. [Whose voice has hardened just a little.] If Aunt Nell's
got a room for him--of course--why not?
JOY. [Digging her chin into her mother's shoulder.]
[Why couldn't he choose some day when we'd gone? I wanted you
all to myself.]
MRS. GWYN. You are a quaint child--when I was your age----
JOY. [Suddenly looking up.] Oh! Mother, you must have been a
MRS. GWYN. Well, I was about twice as old as you, I know that.
JOY. Had you any--any other offers before you were married, Mother?
MRS. GWYN. [Smilingly.] Heaps!
JOY. [Reflectively.] Oh!
MRS. GWYN. Why? Have you been having any?
JOY. [Glancing at MRS. GWYN, and then down.] N-o, of course not!
MRS. GWYN. Where are they all? Where's Peachey?
JOY. Fussing about somewhere; don't let's hurry! Oh! you duckie--
duckie! Aren't there any letters from Dad?
MRS. GWYN. [In a harder voice.] Yes, one or two.
JOY. [Hesitating.] Can't I see?
MRS. GWYN. I didn't bring them. [Changing the subject obviously.]
Help me to tidy--I'm so hot I don't know what to do.
[She takes out a powder-puff bag, with a tiny looking-glass.]
JOY. How lovely it'll be to-morrow-going home!
MRS. GWYN. [With an uneasy look.] London's dreadfully stuffy, Joy.
You 'll only get knocked up again.
JOY. [With consternation.] Oh! but Mother, I must come.
MRS. GWYN. (Forcing a smile.) Oh, well, if you must, you must!
[Joy makes a dash at her.]
Don't rumple me again. Here's Uncle Tom.
JOY. [Quickly.] Mother, we're going to dance tonight; promise to
dance with me--there are three more girls than men, at least--and
don't dance too much with--with--you know--because I'm--[dropping her
voice and very still]--jealous.
MRS. GWYN. [Forcing a laugh.] You are funny!
JOY. [Very quickly.] I haven't made any engagements because of you.
[The COLONEL approaches through the wall.]
MRS. GWYN. Well, Uncle Tom?
COLONEL. [Genially.] Why, Molly! [He kisses her.] What made you
come by the towing-path?
JOY. Because it's so much cooler, of course.
COLONEL. Hallo! What's the matter with you? Phew! you've got your
hair up! Go and tell your aunt your mother's on the lawn. Cut
[Joy goes, blowing a kiss.]
Cracked about you, Molly! Simply cracked! We shall miss her when
you take her off to-morrow. [He places a chair for her.] Sit down,
sit down, you must be tired in this heat. I 've sent Bob for your
things with the wheelbarrow; what have you got?--only a bag, I
MRS. GWYN. [Sitting, with a smile.] That's all, Uncle Tom, except--
my trunk and hat-box.
COLONEL. Phew! And what's-his-name brought a bag, I suppose?
MRS. GWYN. They're all together. I hope it's not too much, Uncle
COLONEL. [Dubiously.] Oh! Bob'll manage! I suppose you see a good
deal of--of--Lever. That's his brother in the Guards, isn't it?
MRS. GWYN. Yes.
COLONEL. Now what does this chap do?
MRS. GWYN. What should he do, Uncle Tom? He's a Director.
COLONEL. Guinea-pig! [Dubiously.] Your bringing him down was a
[MRS. GWYN, looking at him sidelong, bites her lips.]
I should like to have a look at him. But, I say, you know, Molly--
mines, mines! There are a lot of these chaps about, whose business
is to cook their own dinners. Your aunt thinks----
MRS. GWYN. Oh! Uncle Tom, don't tell me what Aunt Nell thinks!
COLONEL. Well-well! Look here, old girl! It's my experience never
to--what I mean is--never to trust too much to a man who has to do
with mining. I've always refused to have anything to do with mines.
If your husband were in England, of course, I'd say nothing.
MRS. GWYN. [Very still.] We'd better keep him out of the question,
had n't we?
COLONEL. Of course, if you wish it, my dear.
MRS. GWYN. Unfortunately, I do.
COLONEL. [Nervously.] Ah! yes, I know; but look here, Molly, your
aunt thinks you're in a very delicate position-in fact, she thinks
you see too much of young Lever.
MRS. GWYN. [Stretching herself like an angry cat.] Does she? And
what do you think?
COLONEL. I? I make a point of not thinking. I only know that here
he is, and I don't want you to go burning your fingers, eh?
[MRS. GWYN sits with a vindictive smile.]
A gold mine's a gold mine. I don't mean he deliberately--but they
take in women and parsons, and--and all sorts of fools. [Looking
down.] And then, you know, I can't tell your feelings, my dear, and
I don't want to; but a man about town 'll compromise a woman as soon
as he'll look at her, and [softly shaking his head] I don't like
that, Molly! It 's not the thing!
[MRS. GWYN sits unmoved, smiling the same smile, and the COLONEL
gives her a nervous look.]
If--if you were any other woman I should n't care--and if--if you
were a plain woman, damme, you might do what you liked! I know you
and Geoff don't get on; but here's this child of yours, devoted to
you, and--and don't you see, old girl? Eh?
MRS. GWYN. [With a little hard laugh.] Thanks! Perfectly! I
suppose as you don't think, Uncle Tom, it never occurred to you that
I have rather a lonely time of it.
COLONEL. [With compunction.] Oh! my dear, yes, of course I know it
must be beastly.
MRS. GWYN. [Stonily.] It is.
COLONEL. Yes, yes! [Speaking in a surprised voice.] I don't know
what I 'm talking like this for! It's your aunt! She goes on at me
till she gets on my nerves. What d' you think she wants me to do
now? Put money into this gold mine! Did you ever hear such folly?
MRS. GWYN. [Breaking into laughter.] Oh! Uncle Tom!
COLONEL. All very well for you to laugh, Molly!
MRS. GWYN. [Calmly.] And how much are you going to put in?
COLONEL. Not a farthing! Why, I've got nothing but my pension and
three thousand India stock!
MRS. GWYN. Only ninety pounds a year, besides your pension! D' you
mean to say that's all you've got, Uncle Tom? I never knew that
before. What a shame!
COLONEL. [Feelingly.] It is a, d--d shame! I don't suppose there's
another case in the army of a man being treated as I've been.
MRS. GWYN. But how on earth do you manage here on so little?
COLONEL. [Brooding.] Your aunt's very funny. She's a born manager.
She 'd manage the hind leg off a donkey; but if I want five shillings
for a charity or what not, I have to whistle for it. And then all of
a sudden, Molly, she'll take it into her head to spend goodness knows
what on some trumpery or other and come to me for the money. If I
have n't got it to give her, out she flies about 3 per cent., and
worries me to invest in some wild-cat or other, like your friend's
thing, the Jaco what is it? I don't pay the slightest attention to
MRS. HOPE. [From the direction of the house.] Tom!
COLONEL. [Rising.] Yes, dear! [Then dropping his voice.] I say,
Molly, don't you mind what I said about young Lever. I don't want
you to imagine that I think harm of people--you know I don't--but so
many women come to grief, and--[hotly]--I can't stand men about town;
not that he of course----
MRS. HOPE, [Peremptorily.] Tom!
COLONEL. [In hasty confidence.] I find it best to let your aunt run
on. If she says anything----
MRS. HOPE. To-om!
COLONEL. Yes, dear!
[He goes hastily. MRS. GWYN sits drawing circles on the ground
with her charming parasol. Suddenly she springs to her feet,
and stands waiting like an animal at bay. The COLONEL and MRS.
HOPE approach her talking.]
MRS. HOPE. Well, how was I to know?
COLONEL. Did n't Joy come and tell you?
MRS. HOPE. I don't know what's the matter with that child? Well,
Molly, so here you are. You're before your time--that train's always
MRS. GWYN. [With faint irony.] I'm sorry, Aunt Nell!
[They bob, seem to take fright, and kiss each other gingerly.]
MRS. HOPE. What have you done with Mr. Lever? I shall have to put
him in Peachey's room. Tom's got no champagne.
COLONEL. They've a very decent brand down at the George, Molly, I'll
send Bob over----
MRS. HOPE. Rubbish, Tom! He'll just have to put up with what he can
MRS. GWYN. Of course! He's not a snob! For goodness sake, Aunt
Nell, don't put yourself out! I'm sorry I suggested his coming.
COLONEL. My dear, we ought to have champagne in the house--in case
MRS. GWYN. [Shaking him gently by the coat.] No, please, Uncle
MRS. HOPE. [Suddenly.] Now, I've told your uncle, Molly, that he's
not to go in for this gold mine without making certain it's a good
thing. Mind, I think you've been very rash. I'm going to give you a
good talking to; and that's not all--you ought n't to go about like
this with a young man; he's not at all bad looking. I remember him
perfectly well at the Fleming's dance.
[On MRS. GWYN's lips there comes a little mocking smile.]
COLONEL. [Pulling his wife's sleeve.] Nell!
MRS. HOPE. No, Tom, I'm going to talk to Molly; she's old enough to
MRS. GWYN. Yes?
MRS. HOPE. Yes, and you'll get yourself into a mess; I don't approve
of it, and when I see a thing I don't approve of----
COLONEL. [Walking about, and pulling his moustache.] Nell, I won't
have it, I simply won't have it.
MRS. HOPE. What rate of interest are these Preference shares to pay?
MRS. GWYN. [Still smiling.] Ten per cent.
MRS. HOPE. What did I tell you, Tom? And are they safe?
MRS. GWYN. You'd better ask Maurice.
MRS. HOPE. There, you see, you call him Maurice! Now supposing your
uncle went in for some of them----
COLONEL. [Taking off his hat-in a high, hot voice] I'm not going in
for anything of the sort.
MRS. HOPE. Don't swing your hat by the brim! Go and look if you can
see him coming!
[The COLONEL goes.]
[In a lower voice.] Your uncle's getting very bald. I 've only
shoulder of lamb for lunch, and a salad. It's lucky it's too hot to
[MISS BEECH has appeared while she is speaking.]
Here she is, Peachey!
MISS BEECH. I see her. [She kisses MRS. GWYN, and looks at her
MRS. GWYN. [Shrugging her shoulders.] Well, Peachey! What d 'you
make of me?
COLONEL. [Returning from his search.] There's a white hat crossing
the second stile. Is that your friend, Molly?
[MRS. GWYN nods.]
MRS. HOPE. Oh! before I forget, Peachey--Letty and Ernest can move
their things back again. I'm going to put Mr. Lever in your room.
[Catching sight o f the paint pot on the ground.] There's that
disgusting paint pot! Take it up at once, Tom, and put it in the
[The COLONEL picks up the pot and bears it to the hollow tree
followed by MRS. HOPE; he enters.]
MRS. HOPE. [Speaking into the tree.] Not there!
COLONEL. [From within.] Well, where then?
MRS. HOPE. Why--up--oh! gracious!
[MRS. GWYN, standing alone, is smiling. LEVER approaches from
the towing-path. He is a man like a fencer's wrist, supple and
steely. A man whose age is difficult to tell, with a quick,
good-looking face, and a line between his brows; his darkish
hair is flecked with grey. He gives the feeling that he has
always had to spurt to keep pace with his own life.]
MRS. HOPE. [Also entering the hollow tree.] No-oh!
COLONEL. [From the depths, in a high voice.] Well, dash it then!
What do you want?
MRS. GWYN. Peachey, may I introduce Mr. Lever to you? Miss Beech,
my old governess.
[They shake each other by the hand.]
LEVER. How do you do? [His voice is pleasant, his manner easy.]
MISS BEECH. Pleased to meet you.
[Her manner is that of one who is not pleased. She watches.]
MRS. GWYN. [Pointing to the tree-maliciously.] This is my uncle and
my aunt. They're taking exercise, I think.
[The COLONEL and MRS. HOPE emerge convulsively. They are very
hot. LEVER and MRS. GWYN are very cool.]
MRS. HOPE. [Shaking hands with him.] So you 've got here! Are n't
you very hot?--Tom!
COLONEL. Brought a splendid day with you! Splendid!
[As he speaks, Joy comes running with a bunch of roses; seeing
LEVER, she stops and stands quite rigid.]
MISS BEECH. [Sitting in the swing.] Thunder!
COLONEL. Thunder? Nonsense, Peachey, you're always imagining
something. Look at the sky!
MISS BEECH. Thunder!
[MRS. GWYN's smile has faded. ]
MRS. HOPE. [Turning.] Joy, don't you see Mr. Lever?
[Joy, turning to her mother, gives her the roses. With a forced
smile, LEVER advances, holding out his hand.]
LEVER. How are you, Joy? Have n't seen you for an age!
JOY. [Without expression.] I am very well, thank you.
[She raises her hand, and just touches his. MRS. GWYN'S eyes
are fixed on her daughter. Miss BEECH is watching them
intently. MRS. HOPE is buttoning the COLONEL'S coat.]
The curtain falls.
It is afternoon, and at a garden-table placed beneath the hollow
tree, the COLONEL is poring over plans. Astride of a
garden-chair, LEVER is smoking cigarettes. DICK is hanging
Chinese lanterns to the hollow tree.
LEVER. Of course, if this level [pointing with his cigarette]
peters out to the West we shall be in a tightish place; you know what
a mine is at this stage, Colonel Hope.
COLONEL. [Absently.] Yes, yes. [Tracing a line.] What is there to
prevent its running out here to the East?
LEVER. Well, nothing, except that as a matter of fact it doesn't.
COLONEL. [With some excitement.] I'm very glad you showed me these
papers, very glad! I say that it's a most astonishing thing if the
ore suddenly stops there. [A gleam of humour visits LEVER'S face.]
I'm not an expert, but you ought to prove that ground to the East
LEVER. [Quizzically.] Of course, sir, if you advise that----
COLONEL. If it were mine, I'd no more sit down under the belief that
the ore stopped there than I 'd---There's a harmony in these things.
NEVER. I can only tell you what our experts say.
COLONEL. Ah! Experts! No faith in them--never had! Miners,
lawyers, theologians, cowardly lot--pays them to be cowardly. When
they have n't their own axes to grind, they've got their theories; a
theory's a dangerous thing. [He loses himself in contemplation of
the papers.] Now my theory is, you 're in strata here of what we
call the Triassic Age.
LEVER. [Smiling faintly.] Ah!
COLONEL. You've struck a fault, that's what's happened. The ore may
be as much as thirty or forty yards out; but it 's there, depend on
LEVER. Would you back that opinion, sir?
COLONEL. [With dignity.] I never give an opinion that I'm not
prepared to back. I want to get to the bottom of this. What's to
prevent the gold going down indefinitely?
LEVER. Nothing, so far as I know.
COLONEL. [With suspicion.] Eh!
LEVER. All I can tell you is: This is as far as we've got, and we
want more money before we can get any farther.
COLONEL. [Absently.] Yes, yes; that's very usual.
LEVER. If you ask my personal opinion I think it's very doubtful
that the gold does go down.
COLONEL. [Smiling.] Oh! a personal opinion a matter of this sort!
LEVER. [As though about to take the papers.] Perhaps we'd better
close the sitting, sir; sorry to have bored you.
COLONEL. Now, now! Don't be so touchy! If I'm to put money in, I'm
bound to look at it all round.
LEVER. [With lifted brows.] Please don't imagine that I want you to
put money in.
COLONEL. Confound it, sir! D 'you suppose I take you for a Company
LEVER. Thank you!
COLONEL. [Looking at him doubtfully.] You've got Irish blood in
you--um? You're so hasty!
LEVER. If you 're really thinking of taking shares--my advice to you
COLONEL. [Regretfully.] If this were an ordinary gold mine, I
wouldn't dream of looking at it, I want you to understand that.
Nobody has a greater objection to gold mines than I.
LEVER. [Looks down at his host with half-closed eyes.] But it is a
gold mine, Colonel Hope.
COLONEL. I know, I know; but I 've been into it for myself; I've
formed my opinion personally. Now, what 's the reason you don't want
me to invest?
LEVER. Well, if it doesn't turn out as you expect, you'll say it's
my doing. I know what investors are.
COLONEL. [Dubiously.] If it were a Westralian or a Kaffir I would
n't touch it with a pair of tongs! It 's not as if I were going to
put much in! [He suddenly bends above the papers as though
magnetically attracted.] I like these Triassic formations!
[DICK, who has hung the last lantern, moodily departs.]
LEVER. [Looking after him.] That young man seems depressed.
COLONEL. [As though remembering his principles.] I don't like
mines, never have! [Suddenly absorbed again.] I tell you what,
Lever--this thing's got tremendous possibilities. You don't seem to
believe in it enough. No mine's any good without faith; until I see
for myself, however, I shan't commit myself beyond a thousand.
LEVER. Are you serious, sir?
COLONEL. Certainly! I've been thinking it over ever since you told
me Henty had fought shy. I 've a poor opinion of Henty. He's one of
those fellows that says one thing and does another. An opportunist!
LEVER. [Slowly.] I'm afraid we're all that, more or less. [He sits
beneath the hollow tree.]
COLONEL. A man never knows what he is himself. There 's my wife.
She thinks she 's----By the way, don't say anything to her about
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