The Big Drum by Arthur Pinero
In Four Acts
The desire of fame betrays an ambitious man into indecencies
that lessen his reputation; he is still afraid lest any of his actions
should be thrown away in private.
LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN MCMXV
Copyright 1915, by Arthur Pinero
This play was Produced in London, at the St. James's Theatre, on
Wednesday, September 1, 1915
The Big Drum is published exactly as it was written, and as it was
originally performed. At its first representation, however, the
audience was reported to have been saddened by its unhappy ending.
Pressure was forthwith put upon me to reconcile Philip and Ottoline at
the finish, and at the third performance of the play the curtain fell
upon the picture, violently and crudely brought about, of Ottoline in
I made the alteration against my principles and against my
conscience, and yet not altogether unwillingly. For we live in
depressing times; and perhaps in such times it is the first duty of a
writer for the stage to make concessions to his audiences and, above
everything, to try to afford them a complete, if brief, distraction
from the gloom which awaits them outside the theatre.
My excuse for having at the start provided an unhappy ending is
that I was blind enough not to regard the ultimate break between Philip
and Ottoline as really unhappy for either party. On the contrary, I
looked upon the separation of these two people as a fortunate
occurrence for both; and I conceived it as a piece of ironic comedy
which might not prove unentertaining that the falling away of Philip
from his high resolves was checked by the woman he had once despised
and who had at last grown to know and to despise herself.
But comedy of this order has a knack of cutting rather deeply, of
ceasing, in some minds, to be comedy at all; and it may be said that
this is what has happened in the present instance. Luckily it is
equally true that certain matters are less painful, because less
actual, in print than upon the stage. The wicked publisher,
therefore, even when bombs are dropping round him, can afford to be
more independent than the theatrical manager; and for this reason I
have not hesitated to ask my friend Mr. Heinemann to publish THE BIG
DRUM in its original form.
LONDON, September 1915
_THE PERSONS OF THE PLAY
SIR RANDLE FILSON, KNT.
BERTRAM FILSON (his son)
SIR TIMOTHY BARRADELL, BART.
LEONARD WESTRIP (Sir Randle's secretary)
ALFRED DUNNING (of Sillitoe and Dunning's Private Detective
NOYES (Mr. Roope's servant)
UNDERWOOD (servant at Sir Randle's)
JOHN (Mr. Mackworth's servant)
OTTOLINE DE CHAUMIÉ, COMTESSE DE CHAUMIÉ, née FILSON
HON. MRS. GODFREY ANSLOW
MRS. WALTER QUEBEC
MISS TRACER (Lady Filson's secretary)
ROBERT ROOPE'S FLAT IN SOUTH AUDLEY STREET. JUNE.
MORNING-ROOM AT SIR RANDLE FILSON'S, ENNISMORE GARDENS. THE NEXT
MACKWORTH'S CHAMBERS, GRAY'S INN. NOVEMBER.
THE SAME PLACE. THE FOLLOWING MORNING.
The curtain falls for a moment in the course of the First and
THE BIG DRUM
THE FIRST ACT
The scene is a room, elegantly decorated, in a flat in South
Audley Street. On the right, two windows give a view, through muslin
curtains, of the opposite houses. In the wall facing the spectator are
two doors, one on the right, the other on the left. The left-hand door
opens into the room from a dimly-lighted corridor, the door on the
right from the dining-room. Between the doors there is a handsome
fireplace. No fire is burning and the grate is banked with flowers.
When the dining-room door is opened, a sideboard and a side-table are
seen in the further room, upon which are dishes of fruit, an array of
ice-plates and finger-bowls, liqueurs in decanters, glasses, silver,
The pictures, the ornaments upon the mantelpiece, and the
articles of furniture are few but choice. A high-backed settee stands
on the right of the fireplace; near the settee is a fauteuil-stool;
facing the settee is a Charles II arm-chair. On the left of the room
there is a small table with a chair beside it; on the right, not far
from the nearer window, are a writing-table and writing-chair. Pieces
of bric-à-brac lie upon the tables, where there are also some graceful
statuettes in ivory and bronze. Another high-backed settee fills the
space between the windows, and in each window there is an arm-chair of
the same period as the one at the fireplace.
The street is full of sunlight.
(Note: Throughout, right and left are the spectators' right
and left, not the actor's.)
[ROBERT ROOPE, seated at the writing-table, is
a letter. NOYES enters at the door on the
followed by PHILIP MACKWORTH.
[Announcing PHILIP.] Mr. Mackworth.
[A simple-looking gentleman of fifty, scrupulously
attiredjumping up and shaking hands warmly with PHILIP as the
servant withdraws.] My dear Phil!
[A negligentlyalmost shabbilydressed man in his late
thirties, with a handsome but worn face.] My dear Robbie!
A triumph, to have dragged you out! [Looking at his watch.]
Luncheon isn't till a quarter-to-two. I asked you for half-past-one
because I want to have a quiet little jaw with you beforehand.
ErI'd better tell you at once, old chap, whom you'll meet here
Aha! Your tone presages a most distinguished guest. [Seating
himself in the chair by the small table.] Is she a
grande-duchesse, or is he a crowned head?
[Smiling rather uneasily.] Wait. I work up to my great effect
by degrees. We shall only be six. Collingham Green
[In disgust.] Oh, lord!
Now, Phil, don't be naughty.
The fellow who does the Society gossip for the Planet!
And does it remarkably neatly, in my opinion.
Pouah! [Leaning back in his chair, his legs outstretched, and
spouting.] Mrs. Trevelyan Potter, wearing a gown of yellow
charmeuse exquisitely draped with chiffon, gave a dance for her niece
Miss Hermione Stubbs at the Ritz Hotel last night. That sort o' stuff!
[Pained.] Somebody has to supply it.
Pretty Mrs. Claud Grymes came on from the opera in her pearls, and
Lady Beakly looked younger than her daughter in blue.
[Ruefully.] You don't grow a bit more reasonable, Phil; not a
I beg pardon. Go ahead.
[Sitting on the fauteuil-stool.] Mrs. Godfrey Anslow and Mrs.
Wally Quebec. Abuse them.
Bless their innocent hearts! They'll be glad to meet Mr.
I trust so.
[Scowling.] A couple of pushing, advertising women.
Ha, ha! Sorry. That's five, with you and me.
That's five, as you justly observe. [Clearing his throat.]
The sixth? I prepare myself for your great effect.
[With an effort.] ErMadame de Chaumié is in London, Phil.
[Sitting upright.] Madame de Chaumié! [Disturbed.] Is
[Rising.] Confound you, Robbie!
[Hastily.] She has got rid of her house in Paris and rejoined
her people. She's with them in Ennismore Gardens.
Thank you, I'm aware of it. One reads of Ottoline's movements in
every rag one picks up. [Walking over to the right.] She's the
biggest chasseuse of the crowd.
I assure you she appears very much altered.
What, can the leopard change his spots!
Her family may still bang the big drum occasionally, and give it an
extra whack on her account; but Ottoline herself
Faugh! [Returning to ROOPE.] Why the devil have you done
[Feebly.] I confess, in the hope of bringing about a
Youyou good-natured old meddler. [Quickly.] Does she expect
to find me here?
[Making for the door on the left.] I'll bolt, then.
[Rising and seizing him.] You shall do nothing of the kind. [
Forcing him down upon the fauteuil-stool.] You'll upset my
luncheon-table! [Tidying himself.] You're most inconsiderate;
you are positively. And you've disarranged my necktie.
[In a low voice.] How is she looking, Robbie?
Brilliant. [Putting his necktie in order.] Is that straight?
[Gazing into space.] Ten years ago, old man!
It was at her father and mother's, in Paris, that I made your
Perfectly; in the Avenue Montaigne. I had a flat in the Palais-Royal
at the time.
[Scornfully.] You were one of the smart set. It was worth
their while to get hold of you.
My dear Phil, do be moderately fair. You weren't in the smart
No; I was trying my hand at journalism in those days. Dreadful
trade! I was Paris correspondent to the Whitehall Gazette.
That's why I was favoured. [Abruptly.] Robbie
You'll scarcely credit it. One evening, while I was at work,
Ottoline turned up with her maid at my lodgings in the Rue Soufflot,
sent the maid out of the room, and proposed that I should mention her
family in my letters to the Whitehall.
Drag in allusions to 'em constantlytheir entertainments and so
forth; boom them, in fact.
Was that the cause of thethe final?
[Nodding.] Yes. The following week her engagement to de
Chaumié was announced.
[After a slight pause.] Well, in spite of all this, I'm
convinced she was genuinely attached to you, Philas fond of you as
you were of her.
[Resting his head on his hands.] Oh, shut up!
Anyhow, here's an opportunity of testing it, dear excellent friend.
She's been a widow twelve months; you need have no delicacy on that
[Looking up.] Why, do you suggest?
Certainly; and without delay. I hear there's a shoal of men after
her, including Tim Barradell.
[With a grim smile.] Bacon Barradell?
[Assentingly.] They say Sir Timothy's in constant attendance.
And what chance, do you imagine, would a poor literary cove stand
against a real live baronetand the largest bacon-curer in Ireland?
[Rubbing his chin.] You never know. Women are romantic
creatures. She might prefer the author of those absorbing works
of fiction whose pages often wrap up Tim Barradell's rashers.
[Rising.] Ha, ha, ha! [Giving himself a shake.] Even
so it can't be done, Robbie; though I'm grateful to you for your
amiable little plot. [Walking about.] Heavens above, if Ottoline
married me, she'd be puffing my wares on the sly before the honeymoon
was half over!
And a jolly good job too. [Moving to the left, peevishly.]
The truth is, my dear Phil, you're a crankan absolute crankon the
subject of theahthe natural desire of some people to keep
themselves in the public eye. Mercy on us, if it comes to that, I'm
If it comes to that, you miserable old sinner, you are.
I admit it, frankly. I own it gratifies me exceedingly to see my
little dinner-parties and tea-parties, here or at my club, chronicled
in the press. And it gratifies my friends also. Many of them wouldn't
honour me at all if my list of guests wasn't in the fashionable
intelligence next morning.
Yes, you may roar. I declare I shudder to think of the difference it
'ud make to me socially if I didn't advertise.
Robbie, I blush for you.
Tosh! It's an advertising age.
[Stalking to the fireplace.] It's a beastly vulgar age.
It's the age I happen to live in, and I accommodate myself to it. [
Pacing the room as he warms to his theme.] And if it's necessary for
a private individual such as myself to advertise, as I maintain it is,
how much more necessary is it for you to do soa novelist, a
poet, a would-be playwright, a man with something to sell! Dash it,
they've got to advertise soap, and soap's essential! Why not
literature, which isn't? And yet you won't find the name of Mr.
Philip Mackworth in the papers from one year's end to another, except
in a scrubby criticism now and again.
[Calmly.] Excuse me, there are the publisher's announcements.
Publishers' announcements! I'm not speaking of the regular
advertising columns. What I want to see are paragraphs concerning you
mixed up with the news of the day, information about you and your
habits, interviews with you, letters from you on every conceivable
[Grinning.] Do you!
[Joining PHILIP.] Oh, my dear Phil, I entreat you, feed the
papers! It isn't as if you hadn't talent; you have. Advertising
minus talent goes a long way; advertising plus talent is
irresistible. Feed the papers. The more you do for them, the more
they'll do for you. Quid pro quo. To the advertiser shall
advertisement be given. Newspaper men are the nicest chaps in the
world. Feed them gratis with bright and amusin' copy, as you term it,
and they'll love and protect you for ever.
Not for ever, Robbie. Whom the press loves die young.
It's fickle, you meansome day it'll turn and rend you? Perhaps.
Still, if you make hay while the sun shines
The sun! You don't call that the sun! [Disdainfully.]
[Leaving him.] Oh, I've no patience with you! [
Spluttering.] Upon my word, your hatred of publicity isisisis
morbid. It's worse than morbidit's Victorian. [Sitting in the
chair by the small table.] There! I can't say anything severer.
[Advancing.] Yes, but wait a moment, Robbie. Who says I have
a hatred of publicity? I haven't said anything so absurd. Don't
I write for the public?
[Standing near ROOPE.] I have no dislike for publicityfor
fame. By George, sir, I covet it, if I can win it honestly and
[Shrugging his shoulders.] Ah!
And I humble myself before the men and women of my craftand they
are manywho succeed in winning it in that fashion, or who are content
to remain obscure. But for the restthe hustlers of the pen, the
seekers after mere blatant applause, the pickers-up of cheap
popularityI've a profound contempt for them and their methods.
You can't deny the ability of some of 'em.
Deny it! Of course I don't deny it. But no amount of ability, of
genius if you will, absolves the follower of any art from the
obligation of conducting himself as a modest gentleman
Ah, there's where you're so hopelessly Victorian and out o' date!
Well, that's my creed; and, whether I've talent or not, I'd rather
snuff out, when my time comes, neglected and a pauper than go back on
it. [Walking away and pacing the room.] Oh, but I'm not
discouraged, my dear Robbienot a scrap! I'm not discouraged, though
you do regard me as a dismal failure.
[Deprecatingly.] No, no!
I shall collar the great public yet. You mark me, I shall collar 'em
yet, and without stooping to the tricks and devices you advocate! [
Returning to ROOPE.] Robbie
[Laying his hands on ROOPE's shoulders.] If my next bookmy
autumn bookisn't a mighty go, II'll eat my hat.
[Sadly.] Dear excellent friend, perhaps you'll be obliged to,
Ha, ha, ha! [Taking ROOPE's arm.] Oddly enoughoddly enough,
the story deals with the very subject we've been discussing.
[Without enthusiasm.] Indeed?
Yes. You hit on the title a few minutes ago.
When you were talking of Ottoline and her people. [Dropping his
voice.] The Big Drum.
Titterton, my new publisher, is tremendously taken with the scheme
of the thingkeen as mustard about it.
Erpardon me, Phil
[Fingering the lapel of PHILIP's coat.] I say, old
man, you wouldn't be guilty of the deplorably bad taste of putting
me into it, would you?
[Slapping him on the back.] Ha, ha! My dear Robbie, half the
polite world is in it. Don't tell me you wish to be left out in the
[Thoroughly alarmed.] Dear excellent friend!
[NOYES enters again at the door on the left,
[Announcing GREEN, and then retiring.] Mr. Collingham
[A gaily-dressed, genial soul, with a flower in his button-hole,
a monocle, a waxed moustache, and a skilful arrangement of a sparse
head of hairshaking hands with ROOPE.] How are you, my deah
My dear Colly, delighted to see you.
An awful scramble to get heah. I was afraid I shouldn't be able to
You'd have broken our hearts if you hadn't. You know Mackworth?
And his charming works. [Shaking hands with PHILIP.]
Haven't met you for evah so long.
How d'ye do?
Ouf! I must sit down. [Sitting on the fauteuil-stool and taking
off a pair of delicately tinted gloves.] The Season is killing me.
I'm shaw I sha'n't last till Goodwood, Robbie.
Yes, it's a shockin' rush, isn't it!
Haw! You only fancy you're rushed. Your life is a rest-cure
compared with mine. You've no conception, either of you, what my days
are just now.
[Finding himself addressed.] Exhausting, no doubt.
Take to-day, for example. I was in my bath at half-past-seven
Though I wasn't in bed till two this morning. At eight I had a cup
of coffee and a piece of dry toast, and skimmed the papers. From
eight-thirty till ten I dictated a special article on our modern
English hostessesThe Hostesses of England: Is Hospitality
Declining?, a question I answer in the negative
[In a murmur.] Quite right.
At ten o'clock, a man from Clapp and Beazley's with some patterns of
socks and underwear. Disposed of him, dressed, and by a
quarter-to-eleven I was in the Park. Strolled up and down with Lady
Ventnor and Sir Hill Birch and saw everybody there was to be seen. I
nevah make a single note; my memory's marvellous. Left the Park at
twelve and took a taxi to inquire after Lord Harrogate, Charlie
Sievewright, and old Lady Dorcas Newnham. I'm not boring you?
Lady Dorcas caught sight of me from her window and hailed me in. I
sat with her for twenty minutesGreenie she always calls me[
mimicking] Now, Greenie, what's the noos? Haw, haw, haw! I walked
away from Lady Dorcas's, and was in Upper Grosvenor Street punctually
at one. [To ROOPE.] There's been a meeting at the Baroness Van
der Meer's to-day, you know, over this fête at the Albert Hall.
Ah, yes; I'm to be in Lady Freddy Hoyle's Plantagenet group. I'm a
knight in attendance on King John.
I had a short private chat with the Baroness, and followed her into
the drawing-room. They were still at it when I sneaked out at a side
door, and heah I am.
Extraordinary! Hey, Phil?
[Leaning against the chair by the writing-table, dryly.] Most
[To PHILIP, rising.] I lunch with Roope[to
ROOPE] you'll have to let me off at three, Robbieand then my grind
[Throwing up his hands in admiration.] Oh!
Horse Show, two musical partiesLady Godalming's and Mrs. Reggie
Mosenstein's; then home and more dictation to my secretary. Dine with
Sir Patrick and Lady Logan at the Carlton, and then to the Opera with
my spy-glass. From Covent Garden I dash down to Fleet Street, write my
late stuff, and my day's doneunless I've strength left for Lady
Ronaldshaw's dance and a crush at Mrs. Hume-Cutler's.
[Repeating his former action.] Oh! Oh!
Mrs. Walter Quebec.
[MRS. WALTER QUEBEC enters and NOYES
[Taking MRS. QUEBEC's hand.] My dear Mrs. Wally, how
[A bright, energetic, fairly young lady.] How'r you, Robbie?
Walter is so grieved; he's lunching at the Auto with Tony Baxter. He
did try to wriggle out of it[Discovering GREEN and going to
him with her hand extended.] Oh, I am glad! You're just the
man I'm dying to see.
[Kissing her hand.] Haw!
Lady Skewes and I are getting up a concert in aid of the poor
sufferers from the earthquake inwhat's the name of the place?I
forgetLady Skewes knows itand we want you to say a lot about us in
your darling paper. Only distinguished amateurs; that's where the
novelty comes in. Lady Skewes is going to play the violin, if she can
pull herself togethershe hasn't played for centuries[seeing
PHILIP, advancing, and shaking hands with him casually] how d'ye
do?[to GREEN] and I've promised to sing.
But how captivating!
[To GREEN.] I've sung so seldom since my marriage, and
they've had such a difficulty to lure me out of my tiny wee
shell. Would you mind dwelling on that a little?
Of course not; anything I can do, deah lady
That's too utterly sweet of you. You shall have full particulars
to-morrow. I wouldn't bother you, but it's charity, isn't it? Oh, and
there's something else I want you to be kind over!
Mrs. Godfrey Anslow.
[The HON. MRS. GODFREY ANSLOW enters and
[A tall, languishing woman with a toneless drawlto ROOPE.]
Am I late?
[Pressing her hand.] Not a second, my very dear
Can't help it if I am. My car got smashed up last week in Roehampton
Lane, and the motor people have lent me the original ark, on wheels.
[MRS. QUEBEC comes to her.] Hullo, Esmé!
[Shaking hands.] How'r you, Millicent?
[Going to GREEN and giving him her hand.] Oh, and
here's that horrid Mr. Green!
My deah Mrs. Anslow!
Horrid! What's he done? [Sitting in the chair by the small table.
] I consider him a white-robed angel.
I sent him a long account of my accident at Roehampton and he hasn't
condescended to take the slightest notice of it.
Oh, Mr. Green!
[To GREEN.] It's cruel of you.
[To MRS. ANSLOW, twiddling his moustache.] Alack and
alas, deah lady, motor collisions are not quite in my line!
You might have passed it on to the accident man. Or you could have
said that I'm to be seen riding in the Row evidently none the worse for
my recent shock. That's in your line.
Haw! I might have done that, certainly. [Tapping his brow.]
Fact isheight of the Seasonperfectly distracted
[With the air of a martyr.] It doesn't matter. I sha'n't
trouble you again. I've never been a favourite of yours
[Appealingly.] Haw! Don't!
It's true. I was one of the few stall-holders at the Army and Navy
Bazaar whose gowns you didn't describe[Seeing PHILIP and
nodding to him hazily.] How d'ye do?
[Prompting her.] Mr. Mackworth
[MRS. ANSLOW goes to PHILIP and proffers
him a limp
hand. GREEN retreats to the fireplace and
rises and pursues him.
[To PHILIP.] I think we met once at my cousins', the
You write, don't you?
[Joining them.] My dear Mrs. Anslow, Mr. Mackworth is one of
the most gifted authors of the present day.
[Glaring at ROOPE.] Tsssh!
[To MRS. ANSLOW.] Get his books from your library instantly.
I envy you the treat in store for you
[NOYES again appears.
Madame de Chaumié.
[OTTOLINE DE CHAUMIÉ entersa beautiful, pale,
young woman of three-and-thirty, with a slightly
air and perfect refinement of manner. NOYES
Everybody is manifestly pleased to see OTTOLINE,
except PHILIP who picks up a little figure
writing-table and examines it critically.
[Hurrying to her and taking her hand.] Ah!
[Going to OTTOLINE.] Oh! [They embrace.] This is
[To MRS. ANSLOW, who comes to her.] Millicent! [
To GREEN, who bustles forward and kisses her hand.] How do
[To OTTOLINE.] You didn't stay long at the Railtons' last
I had a headachemother was so vexed with me
Headache or not, you looked divine.
[To OTTOLINE.] Haw! I hope you saw the remarks about you in
this morning's papah, deah lady.
[To GREEN.] For shame, Mr. Green! Have you been flattering me
Haw, haw, haw, haw!
[Standing near PHILIP.] Madame de Chaumié
Here's an old friend of ours whom you haven't met for
[She starts and then waits, rooted, for
approach. He replaces the figure carefully and
her, and their hands touch. ROOPE leaves them
engages the others in conversation.
[To PHILIP, in a low voice, her eyes sparkling.] I had
no idea I was to have this pleasure.
[Gently, but without exceeding the bounds of mere courtesy.]
Robbie excels in surprises; he has been almost equally reserved with
me. Are you very well?
Very. And you?
Very. And Sir Randle and Lady Filson?
Quite welland my brother Bertram. [Chilled.] Perhaps you've
heard that I am making my home with them now in London,
permanentlythat I've left Paris?
Robbieand the newspapershave told me. It's late in the day to do
itmay I offer you my sympathy?
[With a stately inclination of the head.] Thank you. And I my
congratulations on your success?
[Comprehending.] Ah? Le public est si bête. I've read
every line you've written, I believe. [He bows.] II have felt
proud to think that we were oncethat we were oncenot des
[He bows again, and there is silence between them.
dining-room door opens and NOYES presents
waiter is seen in the dining-room, standing at the
[To ROOPE.] Lunch is served, sir.
[To everybody.] Come along! Come along, dear excellent
friends! [OTTOLINE smiles graciously at PHILIP and turns from
him.] Lead the way, dear Mrs. Anslow. Madame de Chaumié! [MRS.
ANSLOW slips her arm through OTTOLINE.] You both sit opposite
the fireplace. Dear Mrs. Wally! Come along, my dear Phil! [Putting
an arm round GREEN's shoulder.] Colly!
[They all move into the dining-room, and the
falls. It rises again almost immediately. A chair,
withdrawn from the further window, is now beside the
fauteuil-stool, on its right; and the chair which
close to the small table has been pulled out into
room, and faces the fauteuil-stool at some little
distance from it. The doors are closed. MRS.
and MRS. QUEBEC are taking their
former is saying good-bye to OTTOLINE, who is
before the fireplace; the latter is talking to
near the door on the left. On the right is
ready to receive his share of the adieux.
[Shaking hands with OTTOLINE.] Good-bye. You might
come on to Olympia; my sister-in-law's box holds six.
Sorry. I really am full up this afternoon. [MRS. QUEBEC comes to
OTTOLINE as MRS. ANSLOW goes to PHILIP. ROOPE opens
the door on the left and remains there, waiting to escort the ladies to
the outer door.] Can I give you a lift anywhere, Esmé?
Thanks; Millicent's taking me along with her to the Horse Show.
[Shaking hands with PHILIP.] Very pleased to meet you again.
Ever see anything now of the Fairfields?
No loss. I believe dear old Eustace is off his head.
[Tolerantly.] But then, so many people are off their heads,
A great many.
[Bestowing a parting nod upon PHILIP and crossing to the
open door.] Sha'n't wait, Esmé. It's a month's journey to
Hammersmith in the ark.
[Kissing OTTOLINE.] Good-bye.
[To ROOPE.] Charming lunch. Enjoyed myself enormously.
[Shaking hands with PHILIP hastily.] Good-bye, Mr.
[ROOPE and MRS. ANSLOW have disappeared;
follows them. OTTOLINE approaches
[Giving him her hand.] Good-bye.
[Bending over it formally.] Good-bye.
Wewe're in Ennismore Gardens, you know. [He acknowledges the
information by a stiff bow. She interests herself in her glove-buttons.
] Youyou've chosen to drop out of myout of our lives so completely
that I hardly like to ask you to come and see us.
[Constrainedly.] You are very good; but II don't go about
much in these days, and I'm afraid
[Quickly.] Oh, I'm sure you're wise. [Drawing herself
erect.] A writer shouldn't give up to society what is meant for
mankind, should he?
[She passes him distantly, to leave the room, and
suddenly grips her shoulder.
[By a mutual impulse, they glance swiftly at the
door, and then she throws herself into his arms.
[Just as swiftly, they separate; and a moment
afterwards ROOPE returns, rubbing his hands
[Advancing, but not shutting the door.] There! Now we're by
ourselves! [To OTTOLINE.] You're not running away?
[Confused.] Oh, II
It's only half-past-three. Why don't you and Mackworth sit down and
have a little talk together? [To PHILIP, who has strolled to
the further window and is looking into the street.] You're in no
Not in the least.
[Crossing to the writing-table.] I'll finish answering my
letters; I sha'n't have a moment later on. [Gathering up his
correspondence.] You won't disturb me; I'll polish 'em off in
another room. [To OTTOLINE.] Are you goin' to Lady Paulton's
by-and-by, by any chance?
[Again at the fireplace, her back to ROOPE and
PHILIP.] And Mrs. Jack Cathcart'sand Mrs. Le Roy's
You shall take me to Lowndes Square, if you will. [Recrossing.
] Sha'n't be more than ten minutes. [At the door.] Ten minutes,
dear excellent friends. A quarter-of-an-hour at the outside.
[He vanishes, closing the door. There is a pause,
then PHILIP and OTTOLINE turn to one
another and he
goes to her.
[Her hands in his, breathlessly.] You are glad to see
me, then! [Laughing shyly.] Ha, ha! You are glad!
You brute, Phil, to make me behave in such an undignified way!
If there's any question of dignity, what on earth has become of
mine? I was the first to break down.
To break down! Why should you try to treat me so freezingly? You
can't be angry with me still, after all these years! C'est pas
It was stupid of me to attempt to hide my feelings. [Pressing her
hand to his lips.] But, my dear Ottomy dear girlwhere's the use
of our coming into each other's lives again?
The use? Why shouldn't we be again as we were in the old
Paris days[embarrassed] well, not quite, perhaps?
[Smiling.] Oh, of course, if you command it, I am ready to
buy some smart clothes, and fish for opportunities of meeting you
occasionally on a crowded staircase or in a hot supper-room. Butas
for anything else
[Slowly withdrawing her hands and putting them behind her.]
As foranything else?
I repeatcui bono? [Regarding her kindly but
penetratingly.] What would be the result of your reviving a
friendship with an ill-tempered, intolerant person who would be just as
capable to-morrow of turning upon you like a savage?
Ah, you are still angry with me! [With a change of tone.
] As you did that evening, for instance, when I came with Nannette to
your shabby little den in the Rue Soufflot
[Walking away to the front of the fauteuil-stool.] To beg you
to prôner my father and mother in the journal you were writing
forwhat was the name of it?
[Following her.] The Whitehall Gazette.
And you were polite enough to tell me that my cravings and ideals
were low, pitiful, ignoble!
[Regretfully.] You remember?
[Facing him.] As clearly as you do, my friend. [Laying her
hand upon his arm, melting.] Besides, they were truethose
wordshideously trueas were many other sharp ones you shot at me in
Paris. [Turning from him.] Lowpitifulignoble!
[She seats herself in the chair by the
and motions him to sit by her. He does so.
Yes, they were true; but they are true of me no longer. I am greatly
[Eyeing her.] You are more beautiful than ever.
H'sh!changed in my character, disposition, view of things. Life
has gone sadly with me since we parted.
Indeed? II'm grieved.
My marriage was an utter failure. You heard?
[Shaking his head.] No.
No? [Smiling faintly.] I thought everybody hears when
a marriage is a failure. [Mournfully.] The fact remains; it was
a terrible mistake. Poor Lucien! I don't blame him for my nine years of
unhappiness. I engaged myself to him in a hurryout of pique
Within a few hours of that fatal visit of mine to your lodgings. [
Looking at him significantly.] It was that that drove me to
[Staring at her.] That!
[Simply.] Yes, Phil.
[Plucking at the arm of her chair.] You seeyou see,
notwithstanding the vulgarity of my mind, I had a deep respect for you.
Even then there were wholesome signs in me! [Shrugging her shoulders
plaintively.] Whether I should have ended by obeying my better
instincts, and accepting you, I can't say. I believe I should. II
believe I should. At any rate, I had already begun to chafe under the
consciousness that, while you loved me, you had no esteem for me.
[Remorsefully.] My dear!
[Raising her head.] That scene between us in the Rue Soufflot
set my blood on fire. To have a request refused me was sufficiently
mortifying; but to be whipped, scourged, scarified, into the bargain!
I flew down your stairs after I left you, and drove home, scorching
with indignation; and next morning I sent for Luciena blind
adorer!and promised to be his wife. [Leaning back.]
Comprenez-vous, maintenant? Solely to hurt you; to hurt you,
the one man among my acquaintances whom Iadmired!
[She searches for her handkerchief. He rises and
to the mantelpiece and stares at the flowers in the
[Almost inaudibly.] Oh, Otto!
[Wiping a tear from her cheek.] Heigh, dear me! Whenever I go
over the past, and that's not seldom, I can't help thinking you might
have been a little gentler with mea girl of three-and-twentyand
have made allowances. [Blowing her nose.] What was Dad before he
went out to Buenos Aires with his wife and children; only a junior
partner in a small concern in the City! Wasn't it natural that, when he
came back to Europe, prosperous but a nobody, he should be eager to
elbow himself into a respectable social position, and that his
belongings should have caught the fever?
[Rising and wandering to the writing-table.] First we
descended upon Parisyou know; but Paris didn't respond very
satisfactorily. Plenty of smart men flocked round usla belle
Mademoiselle Filson drew them to the Avenue Montaigne!
[Under his breath, turning.] T'scht!
But the women were either hopelessly bourgeoises or slightly
déclassée. [Inspecting some of the pieces of bric-à-brac upon
the table.] Which decided us to attack Londonand induced me to
pay my call on you in the Rue Soufflot
To coax you to herald us in your weekly causeries. [
Wincing.] Horrible of me, that was; horrible, horrible,
horrible! [Replacing an object upon the table and moving to the
other side of the room.] However, I wasn't destined to share the
earliest of the London triumphs. [Bitterly.] Mine awaited me in
Paris, and at Vaudemont-Baudricourt, as the Comtesse de Chaumié! [
[She is about to sit in the chair on the left when
comes to her impulsively and restrains her.
My poor girl!
[With abandon.] Ah!
My poor dear girl!
It's a relief to me to open my heart to you, Philip. [He leads
her to the fauteuil-stool.] Robbie won't interrupt us yet awhile,
We'll kick him out if he does. [They sit, close together, upon
the fauteuil-stool.] Oh, but he won't! This is a deep-laid plot of
the old chap's
To invite us here to-day, you and me, toto
Amener un rapprochement?
[Softly.] Ha, ha! Dear old Robbie! [He laughs with her.
] Dear, dear old Robbie! [Her laughter dies out, leaving her with a
serious, appealing face.] Phil
Your sneeryour sneer about me and the papers
I detected it. Almost the first thing you said to me when I arrived
was that you'd been gathering news of me lately from the papers!
[Gently.] Forgive me.
It's been none of my doing; I've finished with le snobbisme
entirely. [Pleadingly.] You don't doubt me?
[Patting her hand.] Nono.
Nowadays I detest coming across my name in print. But my people[
with a little moue] they will persist in!
Beating the big drum?
Ha! [Brushing her hair from her brow fretfully.] Oh! Oh,
Phil, it was blindness on my part to return to themsheer blindness!
They've been urging me to do it ever since my husband's death; so I
had ample time to consider the step. But I didn't realize, till I'd
settled down in Ennismore Gardens, how thoroughly I
[Finding she doesn't continue.] How thoroughly?
How thoroughly I've grown away from themceased to be one of them.
[Stamping her foot.] Oh, I know I'm ungrateful; and that they're
proud of me, and pet and spoil me; [contracting her shoulder-blades
] but they make my flesh feel quite rawmother, Dad, and my brother
Bertram! Their intense satisfaction with themselves, and everything
appertaining to them, irritates me to such a pitch that I'm often
obliged to rush out of the room to stop myself from being rude. [
Impetuously.] And then to have to watch Dad and mother still
pushing, scheming, intriguing; always with the affectation of despising
réclame, yet doing nothingnot the most simple actwithout a
careful eye to it! Years ago, as I've said, there was an intelligible
motive for our paltry ambitions; but now, when they have forcé les
portes and can afford to be sincere and independent! [
Checking herself.] But I oughtn't to speak of my folks like this,
ought I, even to you whom I can trust! [Penitently.] It's
awfully wrong of me. II beg your pardon.
[After a short silence.] What do you intend to do, then,
Otto, ultimatelyre-establish yourself in Paris?
[Drearily.] Paris! Is Paris so full of cheerful memories for
me, do you suppose, that I should cling to it!
[Soothingly.] Oh, come!
I travelled about for some months after I became a widow, and when I
saw Paris again! [Starting up as if to rid herself of disagreeable
sensations.] No, my one great desire is to escape from it all,
Phil[moving to the chair on the left] to escape!
To alter the whole current of my life, if it's possible, [sinking
into the chair] and to breathe some fresh air! [Fanning herself
with her hand.] Phew-w-w-w!
H'm! [Approaching her and looking down upon her.] According
to report, Ottoline, you'd have very little difficulty inescaping.
[Glancing up at him.] Report?
Rumour has it that there are at least a dozen ardent admirers at
your feet, each with a wedding-ring in his waistcoat-pocket.
[Reproachfully, her eyes meeting his.] Why, have you been
listening to tittle-tattle as well as studying newspaper paragraphs! [
He bows, good-humouredly.] My dear Philip, allowing for
exaggeration, granting that my soupirants number half
-a-dozen, which of them would enable me to fill my lungs with fresh air?
Who are they, these enterprising men?
[Leaving her abruptly and going to the mantelpiece.] Oh, pray
don't ask me! I don't know who the fellows areexceptthey
saySir Timothy Barradell
[Lightly but softly.] Sir Timothy! Sir Timothy has only just
succeeded in fighting his way into the world I'm sick and tired of! [
Shaking her head.] Poor Sir Tim! [Pityingly.] Ha, ha, ha, ha!
[His back towards her.] Otto
What sort of world would you be willing to exchange for your present
one, my dear?
What sortspiritual and material?
[Resting her elbow upon the arm of her chair and her chin upon
her hand, musingly.] Oh, I believe any world would content me
that's totally different from the world I've lived in so long; any
world that isn't flat and stale and stifling; that isn't made up of
shams, and petty aims and appetites; any world thatwell, such a world
as you used to picture, Phil, when you preached your gospel to a
selfish, common girl under the chestnuts in the Allée de Longchamp and
the Champs-Elysées! [Half laughing, half sighing.] Ha, la, la,
[Again there is a pause, and then he walks to the
further window and gazes into the street once more.
[In a low voice.] Ten years ago, Otto!
Ten years ago!
[Partly in jest, partly seriously.] Do the buds still sprout
on those trees in the Allée de Longchamp and the Champs-Elysées, can
you tell me?
[Falling in with his humour.] Ha, ha! Every spring, cher
And the milk at the Café d'Armenonville and the Pré-Catelanis it
still rich and delectable?
To the young, I assume; scarcely to the aged widow!
Or the grey-haired scribbler! Ha, ha, ha, ha!
Ha, ha, ha, ha!
[He turns and advances to her slowly, looking at
fixedly and earnestly.
OttolineI wonder whether you'd care to walk under those trees with
me again, for sentiment's sake, some fine day in the future!
[Staring at him.] C-care?
And if you would, whether I ought to tempt you to risk it!
[Rising, smiling but discomposed.] Toto risk finding that
le lait n'est pas crémeux, do you mean?
[Tenderly.] To risk even that. [Drawing nearer to her.
II should be delightedifif ever
No, no; not as friends, Ottosave in the best sense
[Faintly.] II don't
As husband and wife. [She stands quite still.] Husband and
wife! Some day when I've achieved a solid success; when I've captured
the great public, and can come to you, not as a poor, struggling
writer, but holding my prizes in both hands!
[Putting her hand to her forehead.] Itit's not too late, is
[Recoiling.] Too latefor meto be successful?
[Passionately.] Oh, my God, don't say that to me[going
to him, and clinging to him] too late for me to recover a little of
what I've lost!
[Pressing her to him.] Ah! Too late for neither of us. It's a
[Her head drooping.] Must it besome day? [
Piteously.] Some day!
There are signs in the sky; the day isn't far distant!
II've money, Philip
H'sssh! [Frowning.] Ottoline!
Ah, je vois que votre orgueil est plus fort que votre amour!
Ha, ha! Peut-être; je ne m'en défends pas. You consent?
[Pouting.] I may let my people know of the arrangement, may I
not? You'll see them?
My dear, what would be gained by that now?
It would enable you to come often to Ennismore Gardens, and have
cosy teas with me in my room. We couldn't bewhat we areon
the sly indefinitely; it's impracticable. There'll be a storm at first,
but it will soon blow over. [Making a wry face.] Still, if you'd
No, no; I'll see them, if you wish me to. [Nodding.] We'll be
open and above-board from the start.
Ha, ha! [Sighing happily.] Ah-h-h-h!
[His tone changing to one of misgiving.] Ah, Otto, I begin to
be afraid that I oughtn'tthat I oughtn't to have spoken to you
[Gravely.] You will never be patientyou'll never be content
to wait, if need be!
Content, no. But patient! [In a whisper.] Shall I tell
you a secret?
I've been waitingwaiting for youin my dreamsfor ten years!
Isn't that patience?
[Their lips meet in a lingering kiss. The handle
door on the left is heard to rattle. Looking at the
door, they draw back from one another. The handle
It's that idiot Robbie.
Ha, ha, ha, ha!
[The door opens, and ROOPE appears, with an
[Humming.] Tra, lal, lal, la! That's done, dear
excellent friends! [Closing the door, and coming forward.] Upon
my word, letters are the curse of one's existence!
Ha, ha! [Seizing him.] Robbie!
I can't take you to Lady Paulton'sor anywhere else. Philip and I
are going to spend the rest of the afternoon here, if you'll let
usand talkand talk! [Suddenly embracing him, and kissing him
upon the cheek.] Ah! Que vous êtes gentil!
Mercimercimerci! [Sitting in the chair on the left and
unpinning her hat.] Ha, ha, ha, ha!
[Turning to PHILIP, his eyes bolting.] Phil!
[Nodding.] Yes. [Wringing ROOPE's hand.] Much obliged,
END OF THE FIRST ACT
THE SECOND ACT
The scene is a morning-room, richly furnished and decorated, in a
house in Ennismore Gardens. The walls are of panelled wood for
two-thirds of their height, the rest being covered with silk. In the
wall at the back, between the centre and the left-hand corner, there is
a handsome double-door opening upon another door, covered in thick
cloth, which is supposed to give admittance to the library. On the
right, in a piece of wall running obliquely towards the spectator from
the back wall to the right-hand wall, is a companion double-door to
that on the left, with the difference that the panels of the upper part
of this door are glazed. A silk curtain obscures the glazed panels to
the height of about seven feet from the floor, and above the curtain
there is a view of a spacious hall. When the glazed door is opened, it
is seen that the hall is appropriately furnished. A window is at the
further end of it, letting in light from the street, and on the right
of the window there is a lofty screen arranged in such a manner as to
suggest that it conceals the front door of the house.
The fireplace, where a bank of flowers hides the grate, is in the
left-hand wall of the room. On the further side of the fireplace there
is an armchair, and before the fireplace a settee. Behind the settee,
also facing the fireplace, are a writing-table and chair; close to the
further side of the writing-table is a smaller chair; and at the nearer
end of the settee, but at some distance from it, stands a low-backed
arm-chair which is turned in the direction of the door on the right.
On the other side of the room, facing the spectator and following
the line of the oblique wall, is a second settee. On the left of this
settee is an arm-chair, on the right a round table and another chair.
Books and periodicals are strewn upon the table. Against the wall at
the back, between the doors, are an oblong table and a chair; and other
articles of furniture and embellishmentcabinets of various kinds,
jardinières, mirrors, lamps, etc., etc.occupy spaces not provided for
in this description.
Among other objects upon the oblong table are some framed
photographs, conspicuously displayed, of members of the Royal Family,
and a book-rack containing books of reference.
It is daylight.
[MISS TRACER, a red-haired, sprightly young lady,
seated upon the settee on the right, turning the
of a picture-paper. A note-book, with a pencil stuck
it, lies by her side. There is a knock at the door
[Calling out.] Eh?
[The door opens and LEONARD WESTRIP
carries a pile of press-cuttings.
[A fresh-coloured, boyish young man.] I beg your pardon[
seeing that MISS TRACER is alone] oh, good morning.
[Entering and closing the door.] Lady Filson isn't down yet?
No. [Tossing the picture-paper onto the round table.] She
didn't get to bed till pretty late last night, I suspect.
[Advancing.] I thought she'd like to look through these. [
Showing MISS TRACER the press-cuttings.] From the
[Picking up her note-book and rising.] You bet she would!
[Handing her the press-cuttings.] Let me have them back
again, please. Sir Randle hardly had time to glance at them before he
[Inquisitively, elevating her eyebrows.] He's out very early?
Yes; he's gone to a memorial service.
Another! [With a twinkle.] That's the third this month.
So it is. I'm awfully sorry for him.
[Laughing slyly.] He, he, he! Ho, ho!
[Surprised.] What is there to laugh at, Miss Tracer?
You don't believe he has ever really known half the people he
mourns, do you?
Not known them!
[Crossing to the writing-table and laying the press-cuttings upon
it.] Guileless youth! Wait till you've breathed the air of this
establishment a little longer.
[Puzzled.] But if he hasn't known them, why should he?
For the sake of figuring among a lot of prominent personages, of
[Incredulously.] Oh, Miss Tracer!
Gospel. [Taking up the press-cuttings and looking through them.
] Many are the sympathetic souls who are grief-stricken in these days
for the same reason. Here we are! [Reading from a cutting.] Late
Viscount Petersfield ... memorial service ... St. Margaret's,
Westminster ... among those present ... h'm, h'm, h'm ... Sir Randle
Filson ... wreaths were sent by ... h'm, h'm, h'm, h'm ... Sir Randle
and Lady Filson! [Replacing the press-cuttings upon the table.]
Ha, ha, ha, ha! [Checking herself and turning to WESTRIP.] Our
conversation is strictly private, Mr. Westrip?
[Somewhat disturbed.] Strictly.
[Smiling at him winningly and moving to the settee before the
fireplace.] You're a nice boy; I'm sure you wouldn't make mischief.
[Sinking on to the settee with a yawn.] Oh! Oh, I'm so weary!
Weary? Before you've begun your morning's work!
Before I've begun it! I had a parade downstairs in the
servants' hall at a quarter-to-ten.
We've two new women in the house who are perfect idiots. They
can't remember to say yes, my lady and no, my lady and very
good, my lady whenever Lady Filson speaks to them. One of them
actually addressed her yesterday as ma'am. I wonder the roof didn't
[Meditatively.] I've noticed that Sir Randle and Lady Filson
have a great relish for being Sir'd and Lady'd.
Ha, ha! Rather! [Over her shoulder.] You take a
friendly hint. If your predecessor had Sir Randle'd and Lady Filson'd
them more frequently, you wouldn't be standing in his shoes at this
[In the middle of the room, his hands in his pockets.] Why
was Sir Randle knighted, do you know?
Built a large drill-hall for the Territorials near his country place
[Innocently.] Oh, is he interested in the Territorials?
[Partly raising herself.] Interested in the Territorials! How
simple you are! He cares as much for the Territorials as I care for
snakes. [Kneeling upon the settee and resting her arms on the back
of it, talkatively.] The drill-hall was her notion; she
engineered the whole affair.
[Opening his eyes wider and wider.] Lady Filson?
[Nodding.] Her maid's my informant. A few years ago he was
growing frightfully down-in-the-mouth. He fancied he'd got stuck, as it
werethat everybody was getting an honour but himself. So the blessed
shanty was run up in a devil of a hurryexcuse my Greek; and as soon
as it was dry, Mrs. Filson, as she then was, wrote to some big-wig or
otherwithout her husband's knowledge, she explainedand called
attention to the service he'd rendered to the cause of patriotism.
Lambert saw the draft of the letter on her mistress's dressing-table. [
Shaking with laughter.] Ho, ho, ho! And what d'ye think?
The corrections were in his handwriting!
[Shocked.] In Sir Randle's!
[Jumping up.] Phiou! I'm fearfully indiscreet. [Going to
WESTRIP and touching his coat-sleeve.] Between ourselves, Mr.
[Moving to the round table.] Quitequite.
[Following him.] Oh, they're not a bad sort, by any means, if
you just humour them a bit. We all have our little weaknesses, haven't
we? I've mine, I confess.
They've both been excessively kind to me. [Turning to her.
] And as for Madame de Chaumié
Oh, she's a deara regular dear!
[Fervently.] By Jove, isn't she!
But then, my theory is that she was changed at her birth.
She's not a genuine Filson, I'll swear. [Suddenly walking away
from him.] H'sh!
[LADY FILSON, a handsome, complacent woman of
fifty-seven, enters from the hall.
[Who carries a hand-bag crammed with letters, cards of
invitation, etc.] Good morning.
MISS TRACER and WESTRIP.
Good morning, Lady Filson.
[Closing the door and advancing.] Oh, Mr. Westrip, I wish
you'd try to find the last number of the Trifler. It must have
been taken out of my bedroom by one of the servants.
[Searching among the periodicals on the round table.]
Certainly, Lady Filson.
Oh, Lady Filson, don't keep that horrid snapshot of you and Sir
Randle! It's too unflattering.
[At the writing-table.] As if that mattered! So are the
portraits of Lord and Lady Sturminster on the same page. [Sitting at
the table and emptying her bag.] These absurd things give Sir
Randle and me a hearty laugh; that's why I preserve them.
It isn't here. [Going to the glazed door.] I'll hunt for it
Thank you. [Discovering the pile of press-cuttings.] What's
this? [Affecting annoyance.] Not more press-cuttings! [
Beginning to devour the cuttings.] Tcht, tcht, tcht!
[As WESTRIP reaches the door, BERTRAM
enters. He is wearing riding-dress.
[A conceited, pompous young man of thirty.] Good morning, Mr.
Good morning, Mr. Filson.
[WESTRIP goes out, closing the door.
[To MISS TRACER.] Good morning, Miss Tracer.
[Who has seated herself in the chair at the further side of the
writing-tablemeekly.] Good morning.
[Half turning to BERTRAM, the press-cuttings in her hand.
] Ah, my darling! Was that you I saw speaking to Underwood as I came
through the hall?
Yes, mother dear. [Bending over her and kissing her.] How are
[Dotingly.] Enjoyed your ride, my pet?
[Shutting his eyes.] Such an appalling crowd of ordinary
people in the Row, I mean t'say.
How dreadful for you! [Giving him the press-cuttings.] Sit
down, if you're not too warm, and look at this rubbish while I talk to
Isn't it strange, the way the papers follow all our doings!
Not in the least, mother. [Sitting upon the settee on the right
and reading the press-cuttings.] I mean t'say, I consider it
perfectly right and proper.
[Sorting her letters and cardsto MISS TRACER.] There's not
much this morning, Miss Tracer. [Handing some letters to MISS
TRACER.] You can deal with these.
Thank you, Lady Filson.
[Reading a letter.] Lady Skewes and Mrs. Walter Quebec ...
arranging a concert in aid of ... [sighing] tickets, of
course!... what tiring women!... [turning the sheet] oh!... may
they include me in their list of patronesses?... Princess
Cagliari-Tamponi, the Countess of Harrogate, the Viscountess Chepmell,
Lady Kathleen Tring ... [laying the letter aside] delighted. [
Heaping together the cards and the rest of the letters.] I must
answer those myself. [To MISS TRACER.] That's all. [MISS TRACER
rises.] Get on with the invitations for July the eighth as quickly
as you can.
[Going to the glazed door.] Yes, Lady Filson.
[Turning.] Miss Tracer
[Halting.] Yes, Lady Filson?
I think Madame de Chaumié wants you to do some little commissions
for her. Kindly see her before you go to your room.
[To MISS TRACER, looking up.] No, no; don't.
[To BERTRAM.] Not?
My sister is engaged, mother.
With Sir Timothy Barradell.
Oh? [To MISS TRACER.] By-and-by, then.
Yes, Lady Filson.
[MISS TRACER departs, closing the door.
[To BERTRAM, eagerly.] Sir Timothy!
He called half-an-hour ago, mother, Underwood tells me, with a note
Presumably; and Dilworth came down and took him up to her boudoir.
[Rising.] An unusual time of day for a call! [Approaching
BERTRAM and speaking under her breath.] Are matters coming to a
head between them, my dear boy?
Don't ask me, mother. [Rising.] You are as capable of
forming an opinion as I am, I mean t'say.
I've a feeling that something is in the air. He positively
shadowed her last night at the Gorhams'!
[Knitting his brows.] I admit I should prefer, if my sister
contemplates marrying again, that her choice fell on one of the others.
Mr. Trefusisor George Delacour?
Even Trevor Wilson. [Wincing.] The idea of a merchant
brother-in-law doesn't appeal to me very strongly, I mean t'say.
Still, a baronet!
And I suppose?
[Magnanimously.] Anyhow, my dear mother, if Ottoline is fond
of the man, I promise you that not a murmur from me shall mar their
[Tenderly, pinching his chin.] My darling!
[With a shiver.] I'm afraid I am getting a little
chilled; [giving her the press-cuttings] I'll go and change.
Oh, my pet, run away at once!
[She moves to the settee on the right. He pauses
gaze at her.
You look exceedingly handsome this morning, mother.
[Gratified.] Do I, Bertram? [Seating herself upon the
settee, and again applying herself to the press-cuttings, as
BERTRAM goes to the glazed door.] In spite of my late hours!
[Opening the door.] Here's my father
[SIR RANDLE FILSON enters, dressed in mourning. He
man of sixty-three, of commanding presence, with a
resembling that of Alexandre Dumas Fils in the
by Meissonier, and a bland, florid manner. He seems
derive much satisfaction from listening to the rich
modulations of his voice.
Bertram, my boy! [Kissing him upon the cheek.] Been riding,
Yes. I'm just going to change, father.
That's right; don't risk catching cold, whatever you do. [Seeing
LADY FILSON and coming forward.] Ah, your dear mother is
[BERTRAM goes out, closing the door.
[Beaming upon SIR RANDLE.] You haven't been long, Randle.
[A cloud overshadowing his face.] I didn't remain for the
Dead March, Winnie. [Taking off his black gloves.] I need hardly
have troubled to go at all, as it turned out.
The sad business was most abominably mismanaged. No reporters.
Not a single pressman in the porch. [Blowing into a glove.]
Pfhh! Poor old Macfarlane! [Pulling at his second glove.] The
public will never learn the names of those who assembled, at serious
inconvenience to themselves, to pay respect to his memory.
[Blowing.] Pfhh! [Folding the gloves neatly.] I am
almost glad, in the circumstances, that I didn't regard it as an event
which laid me under an obligation to send flowers.
[With a change of tone.] ErRandle
[Putting his gloves into his tail-pocket.] Yes, dear.
[Significantly.] Sir Timothy is upstairs.
Sir Timothy Barradell?
[Nodding.] With Ottoline, in her sitting-room.
He brought a note for her half-an-hour ago, evidently asking her to
[Going to LADY FILSON.] An early call!
[Sitting near her, in the arm-chair on the left of the settee,
and pursing his lips.] It may mean nothing.
[Examining his nails.] A nice, amiable fellow.
Full of fine qualities, if I'm any judge of character.
None the worse for being self-made, Winnie.
Not in my estimation.
H'm, h'm, h'm, h'm!
[Softly.] It wouldn't sound bad, Randle.
[Leaning back in his chair and closing his eyes.] Lady
[In the same way.] Lady Barradell.
[In a murmur, but with great gusto.] A marriage is arranged
and will shortly take place between Sir Timothy Barradell, Bart., of
16, The Albany, and Bryanstown Park, County Wicklow, and Ottoline,
widow of the late Comte de Chaumié, only daughter of Sir Randle and
Lady Filson, of 71, Ennismore Gardens, and Pickhurst, Bramsfold,
[After a short pause, in a low voice.] Darling Ottoline! What
a wedding she shall have!
[Again there is a pause, and then SIR RANDLE
his chair and seats himself beside LADY FILSON.
[Putting his arm round her, fondly.] Mother!
[They look at one another, and he draws her to him
kisses her. As he does so, the glazed door opens and
WESTRIP returns, carrying an illustrated-weekly.
FILSON rises hastily and goes to the
[Handing her the paper.] It was in the servants' hall, Lady
[Laying the paper and the press-cuttings upon the writing-table,
and sitting at the table and busying herself with her letters.]
Thank you so much.
[To SIR RANDLE.] Are you ready for me now, Sir Randle?
[Abstractedly.] Eris there anything of grave importance
to-day, Mr. Westrip? I forget.
[Coming to him.] Boxfield and Henderson, the photographers,
are anxious to photograph you and Lady Filson for their series of
Notable People, Sir Randle.
[Rolling his head from side to side.] Oh! Oh, dear; oh, dear!
[Wearily.] Oh, dear!
How we are pestered, Lady Filson and I!
No peace! No peace!
[Producing a note-book from his pocket.] They will attend
here any morning convenient to you and Lady Filson, Sir Randle. It
won't take ten minutes.
[To LADY FILSON, resignedly.] Winnie?
[Entering the appointment on a tablet.] Tuesday at eleven.
[To WESTRIP.] Remind me.
[Writing in his note-book.] Yes, Sir Randle.
And advise Madame de Chaumié and Mr. Bertram, with my love, of the
appointment. Her ladyship and I will be photographed with our children
grouped round us.
[To SIR RANDLE.] Then there's the telegram from the Daily
Monitor, Sir Randle
[Puffing himself out.] Ah, yes! The editor solicits my views
uponwhat is the subject of the discussion which is being carried on
in his admirable journal, Mr. Westrip?
Should Women Marry under Thirty?
H'm! [Musingly.] Should Women Marry under Thirty? [To
WESTRIP.] Reply paid?
[Rising and strolling across to LADY FILSON, as if seeking
for inspiration.] Should Women Marry under Thirty? [Humming.
] H'm, h'm, h'm! [To LADY FILSON.] Winnie?
[Looking up at him.] I was considerably under thirty when
we married, Randle.
[Triumphantly.] Ha! [Chuckling.] Ho, ho, ho! Capital!
Ho, ho, ho! [Patting LADY FILSON's shoulder.] Clever! Clever! [
To WESTRIP, grandly.] There we have my response to the
inquiry, Mr. Westrip. [Closing his eyes again.] Sir Randle
Filson's views are best expressed by the statement that Lady Filson was
considerably under thirty when she did him the honour oferbecoming
[Opening his eyes.] Pray amplify that in graceful language,
Mr. Westriprestricting yourself to forty-eight words[He breaks
off, interrupted by the appearance of OTTOLINE at the glazed
door.] Ah, my darling!
Good morning, Dad. [To WESTRIP.] Good morning.
[Shyly.] Good morning.
[To SIR RANDLEadvancing a few steps, but leaving the door
open.] Are you and mother busy?
Not at all.
[Who has turned in her chair at OTTOLINE's entrance.] Not at
[To WESTRIP.] I will join you in the library, Mr. Westrip.
[WESTRIP withdraws at the door on the left, and SIR RANDLE
goes to OTTOLINE and embraces her.] My dear child!
[In rather a strained voice.] Sir Timothy Barradell is here,
I heard he had called.
So sweet of him to treat us informally!
[To LADY FILSON.] He would like to see you and Dad for a
minute or two, mother
Just tojust to bid you good-bye.
Yes; he's going awayabroadfor some months. [With a motion of
her head towards the hall.] He's in the hall. May I?
[Returning to the door and calling.] Sir Timothy!
[There is a brief pause, during which SIR
LADY FILSON interrogate each other silently, and
SIR TIMOTHY BARRADELL enters. He is a well-knit,
pleasant-looking Irishman of about forty, speaking
a slight brogue.
[Advancing to greet him.] My dear Sir Timothy!
[As they shake hands.] And how's my lady this morning? Are
[At the door.] I'll leave you
[Turning to her hastily.] Ah! [Taking her hand.] I'm
not to see you again?
[Shaking her head.] No. [Smiling.] We've said good-bye
upstairs. [Withdrawing her hand.] Que Dieu vous protège!
Good luck to you!
[Ruefully.] Luck! [In an undertone.] I've never had
anything else till now; and now it's out entirely.
[She goes into the hall and he stands watching her
she disappears. Then he closes the door and faces
FILSON and SIR RANDLE.
[Mournfully but good-humouredly.] Ha! That's over.
Over. [Passing LADY FILSON and shaking hands with SIR
RANDLE.] It might be that it 'ud be more decent and appropriate for me
to write you a letter, Sir Randle; but I'm not much of a hand at
letter-writing, and I've your daughter's permission to tell you by word
of mouth thatthat she[to LADY FILSON] but perhaps you can
guess, both of you?
[Rumpling his hair.] The fact is, it isn't exactly easy or
agreeable to describe what's occurred in plain terms.
[Encouragingly.] Can't youcan't you give us a hint?
The merest hint
Hint, is it! Ah, I can manage that. [With a bold effort.]
You're not to have me for your son-in-law. Is that hint enough?
[Under her breath.] Oh!
God bless me! Frankly, I had no conception
Nor Ithe faintest.
And as I've received a great deal of kindness and hospitality in
this house, I thought that, in common gratitude, I ought to explain the
cause of my abrupt disappearance from your circle.
[In a tone of deep commiseration.] II understand. Youyou
To take a trip round the world, to endeavour to recover some of the
wind that's been knocked out of me.
[Closing his eyes.] Distressing! Distressing!
Most. [Coming to SIR TIMOTHY, feelingly.] Ohoh, Sir
[With sudden bitterness.] Ah, Sir Timothy, Sir Timothy, Sir
Timothy! And what's the use of my baronetcy now, will you inform
methe baronetcy I bought and paid for, in hard cash, to better my
footing in society? The mockery of it! Now that I've lost her,
the one woman I shall ever love, I don't care a rap for my footing in
society; [walking away] and anybody may have my baronetcy for
[Reprovingly.] My good friend!
[Turning to SIR RANDLE and LADY FILSON.] And why not!
The only advantage of my baronetcy, it strikes me, is that I'm charged
double prices at every hotel I lay my head in, and am expected to
shower gold on the waiters. [Sitting on the settee on the right and
leaning his head on his hand.] Oh, the mockery of it; the mockery
[Going to him.] If my profound sympathyand Lady Filson's[
to LADY FILSON] I may speak for you, Winnie?
[To SIR TIMOTHY.] If our profound sympathy is the smallest
consolation to you
[Emphatically, raising his head.] It is not. [With
a despairing gesture.] I'm broken-hearted, Sir Randle. That's what
I am; I'm broken-hearted.
[Sitting in the low-backed arm-chair on the left.] Oh, dear!
[Sighing.] If I'd had the pluck to declare myself sooner, it
might have been different. [Staring before him.] From the moment
I first set eyes on her, at the dinner-party you gave to welcome her on
her arrival in Londonfrom that moment I was captured completely, body
and soul. The sight of her as she stood in the drawing-room beside her
mother, with her pretty, white face and her elegant figure, and a gown
clinging to her that looked as though she'd been born in it'twill
never fade from me if I live to be as old as a dozen Methuselahs!
[Pryingly.] Erhas OttolineI have no desire to probe an
open woundhas she assigned anyreason?
[Rousing himself.] For rejecting me?
[With a wave of the hand.] For
For not seeing her way clear
Toerin shortaccept you?
The bestand, for me, the worstof reasons. There's another man in
[To LADY FILSON.] Extraordinary!
We have been blind, Winnie.
And, whoever he may be, I trust he'll worship her as devoutly as I
do, and treat her with half the gentleness I'd have treated her
with, had she selected me for her Number Two.
[Piously.] Amen! [To LADY FILSON.] Winifred?
[Rather fretfully.] Amen.
[Rising.] And with that sentiment on my lips, and in every
fibre of my body, I'll relieve you of my depressing company. [Going
to LADY FILSON, who rises at his approach, and taking her hand.
] My dear lady
[Genuinely.] My dear Sir Timothy!
[Moving to the glazed door.] Painful! Painful!
[As SIR TIMOTHY turns from LADY FILSON,
reappears, in morning-dress, entering from the
[Drawing back on seeing SIR TIMOTHY.] Oh! [To SIR
RANDLE.] Am I intruding?
Come in, my boy. You're just in time to give a parting grasp of the
hand to our friend here.
[Advancing to SIR TIMOTHY, surprised.] Parting?
[To BERTRAM.] Sir Timothy is going abroad, Bertram.
Really? [To SIR TIMOTHY.] Eron business?
Well, not precisely on pleasure. [Shaking hands with
BERTRAM.] Good-bye to you.
[Puzzled.] Good-bye. [SIR TIMOTHY makes a final bow to
LADY FILSON and departs, followed by SIR RANDLE, who leaves
the door open. BERTRAM turns to LADY FILSON inquiringly.
[Pointing to the open door.] H'sh!
[BERTRAM shuts the door and LADY FILSON
upon the settee on the right.
[Coming to her.] What has happened, mother?
What I conjectured. I was certain of it.
He has proposed to my sister?
[Struck by his mother's manner.] She has refused him?
[Nodding.] She's éprise with another man.
Who is it?
Is it Trefusis?
I believe it's Delacour.
[Walking about.] Possibly! Possibly!
[Anxiously.] I do hope she realizes what she's doing,
Bertram. Sir Timothy could buy them both up, with something to spare.
I agree, my dear mother; but it would have been horribly offensive
to us, I mean t'say, to see the name of Ottoline's husband
branded upon sides of bacon in the windows of the provision-shops.
Oh, disgusting! [Brightening.] How sensibly you look at
[Taking up a position before the fireplace.] Whereas George
Delacour and Edward Trefusis are undeniably gentlemengentlemen by
birth and breeding, I mean t'say.
Trefusis is connected, through his brother, with the Northcrofts!
Quite so. If Ottoline married Edward, she would be Lady Juliet's
Upon my word, Bertie, I don't know which of the two I'd
rather it turned out to be!
[SIR RANDLE returns, with a solemn countenance. He
closes the door and comes forward.
[To LADY FILSON.] A melancholy morning, Winnie.
[Producing a black-edged pocket-handkerchief and unfolding it.
] Poor Macfarlaneand then this! [Blowing his nose.]
Upsetting! Upsetting! [Glancing at BERTRAM.] Does Bertram?
I've told him.
My dear father, I cannotI cannot profess to regret my sister's
decision. I mean to say!
[Suddenly.] Nor I. [In an outburst, pacing the room.]
Nor I. I must be candid. It's my nature to be candid. A damned
Exactly. It shows my sister's delicacy and refinement, I mean t'say.
[To LADY FILSON, halting.] Who, in your opinion,
I'm inclined to think it's Mr. Delacour.
[Resuming his walk.] So be it. [Raising his arms.] If
I am to lose my child a second timeso be it.
I venture to suggest it may be Edward Trefusis.
[To BERTRAM, halting again.] My dear boy, in a matter
of this kind, I fancy we can rely on your mother's wonderful powers of
[Bowing.] Pardon, father.
[Closing her eyes.] Mrs. George Delacour.
[Partly closing his eyes and again resuming his walk.] A
marriage is arranged and will shortly take place between George Holmby
[Closing his eyes.] 90, St. James's Street
[Halting and opening his eyes.] One thing I heartily deplore,
[Opening her eyes.] What is that, Randle?
Ottoline being a widow, there can be no bridesmaids; which deprives
us of the happiness of paying a pretty compliment to the daughters of
several families of distinction whom we have the privilege of numbering
among our acquaintances.
There can be no bridesmaids, strictly speaking; but a widow may be
accompanied to the altar by a bevy of Maids of Honour.
Ah, yes! An equally good opportunity for an imposing[closing
his eyes] and reverential display! [To LADY FILSON.] Lady
Maundrell's girl Sybil, eh, Winnie?
Decidedly. And Lady Eva Sherringham.
Lady Lilian and Lady Constance Foxe
Lady Irene Pallant
[LADY FILSON rises and almost runs to the
where she sits and snatches at a sheet of paper.
RANDLE follows her and stands beside her.
[Reclining upon the settee on the left.] Lady Blanche
[Seizing her pen.] Wait; don't be so quick! [Writing.]
Hon. Sybil Maundrell
[The glazed door is opened softly and OTTOLINE
enters. She pauses, looking at the group at the
[To LADY FILSON, as she writes.] Lady Eva Sherringham
Ladies Lilian and Constance Foxe
[Writing.] Lady Eva SherringhamLadies Lilian and Constance
Lady Irene Pallant
I pray there may be no captious opposition from Ottoline.
Surely she doesn't want to be married like a middle-class widow from
Putney! [Writing.] Lady Blanche Finnis
If pages are permissibleto carry my sister's train, I mean
There are the two Galbraith boyslittle Lord Wensleydale and his
[Writing.] Such picturesque children!
I doubt whether the bare civilities which have passed between
ourselves and Lord and Lady Galbraith
They are country neighbours.
No harm in approaching them, my dear father. I mean to say
[OTTOLINE shuts the door with a click. SIR
and LADY FILSON turn, startled, and
slips the list into a drawer.
[In a steady voice.] Sorry to disturb you all over your
elaborate preparations, Dad. I see Sir Timothy has saved me the trouble
of breaking the news.
[Nodding.] You were too absorbed. I couldn't help listening.
Ahem! Sir Timothy didn't volunteer the information,
Peu m'importe! [Advancing, smiling on one side of her
mouth.] What a grand wedding you are planning for me! Quel
[Embarrassed.] Your dear mother wasermerely jotting
[Passing her hands over her face and walking to the settee on the
right.] Ha, ha, ha, ha!
[Rising and moving to the fireplace, complainingly.] Really,
[Sitting upon the settee.] Ha, ha, ha!
[To BERTRAM, who is slowly getting to his feet.] Go
away, Bertie darling.
Mais pourquoi? Bertie knows everything, obviously.
Why shouldn't he, Otto? Your brother is as interested as we are
But of course! Naturellement! [With a shrug.] C'est
une affaire de famille. [To BERTRAM, who is now at the
door on the left, his hand on the door-handle.] Come back, Bertie.
[Repeating her wry smile.] I shall be glad to receive your
congratulations with mother's and Dad's. [To SIR RANDLE and
LADY FILSON.] Sit down, Dad; sit down, mother. [SIR RANDLE sits in
the chair on the left of the settee on the right, LADY FILSON in
the low-backed arm-chair, and BERTRAM at the oblong table.]
Are you very much surprised, dear people?
Poor Sir Timothy! No, we are hardly surprised, Ottoline.
Ah, but I don't mean surprised at myhaving made Sir Timothy
unhappy; I mean surprised at hearing there issomeone else
My dear child, that surprises us even less.
Your dear father and I, Ottoline, are not unaware of the many
eligible men who arehow shall I put it?pursuing you with their
Parents are notoriously short-sighted; but they are not
necessarilyerwhat are the things?tssh!the creatures that
[To BERTRAM.] Thank you, my boy.
[In a rigid attitude.] It's cowardly of me perhaps, but I
almost wish I had told Sir Timothya little more
So that he might have taken the edge off the announcement I'm going
to makeand spared me
Spared you? [Staring at OTTOLINE.] Ottoline, what on
[Relaxing.] Oh, I know I'm behaving as if I were a girl
instead of a woman who has been marrieda widowfreeindependent[
to SIR RANDLE] thanks to your liberality, Dad! But, being at home, I
seem to have lost, in a measure, my sense of personal liberty
[Blandly but uneasily.] My child!
That's it! Child! Now that I've returned to you, I'm still a
childstill an object for you to fix your hopes and expectations upon.
The situation has slipped back, in your minds, pretty much to what it
was in the old days in the Avenue Montaigne. You may protest that it
isn't so, but it is. [Attempting a laugh.] That's why my
knees are shaking at this moment, and my spine's all of a jelly! [
She rises and goes to the chair at the writing-table and grips the
chair-rail. The others follow her apprehensively with their eyes.]
II'm afraid I'm about to disappoint you.
[Abruptly.] What's the time, Dad?
[Looking at a clock standing on a commode against the wall on the
right.] Twenty minutes past eleven.
Hehe will be here at half-past. Don't be angry. I've asked him to
cometo explain his position clearly to you and mother with regard to
me. There's to be nothing underhandrien de secret!
[Throwing her head back.] Ho! You'll think I'm ushering in an
endless string of lovers this morning! I promise you this is the last.
Who is coming?
[Sitting at the writing-table and, her elbows on the table,
supporting her chin on her fists.] Mr. Mackworth.
[After a pause.] Mackworth?
[Dully.] Isn't he the journalist man youyou carried on with
once, in Paris?
What an expression, mother! Wellyes.
[Simply.] Good God!
He doesn't write for the papers any longer.
A novelist chiefly.
It depends on what you call success.
I call success what everybody calls success.
[Rising, stricken.] There are novelists and novelists, I mean
Don't imagine that I am apologizing for him, please, in the
slightest degree; but no, he hasn't been successful up to the
present, in the usual acceptation of the term.
[Searching for her handkerchief.] Wherewhere have you?
I met him yesterday at Robbie Roope's, at lunch. [LADY FILSON
finds her handkerchief and applies it to her eyes.] Oh, there's no
need to cry, mother dear. For mercy's sake!
Oh, Otto! [Rising and crossing to the settee on the right,
whimpering.] Oh, Randle! [To BERTRAM, who comes to her.
] Oh, my boy!
[Gazing blinkingly at the ceiling as LADY FILSON sinks
upon the settee.] Incredible! Incredible!
[Sitting beside LADY FILSON, dazed.] My dear
[Starting up.] Oh, do try to be understanding and
sympathetic! Mr. Mackworth is a high-souled, noble fellow. If I'd been
honest with myself, I should have married him ten years ago. To me this
is a golden dream come true. Recollect my bitter experience of the
other sort of marriage! [Walking away to the fireplace.] Why
grudge me a spark of romance in my life!
[Raising his hands.] Romance!
[To SIR RANDLE and BERTRAM.] Just now she was
resenting our considering her a child!
[Looking down upon the flowers in the grate.] Romance doesn't
belong to youth, mother. Youth is greedy for realitythe toy that
feels solid in its fingers. I was, and bruised myself with it.
After such a lesson as I've had, one yearns for something less
tangiblesomething that lifts one morally out of oneselfan
Ha! An extract from a novel of Mr. Mackworth's apparently!
[Harshly.] Ha, ha, ha, ha!
[Turning sharply and coming forward.] Sssh! Don't you sneer,
mother! Don't you sneer, Dad! [Her eyes flashing.] C'est
au-dessus de vous de sentir ce qu'il y a d'élevé et de grand! [
Fiercely.] Tenez! Qu'il vous plaise ou non!
[She is checked by the entrance of UNDERWOOD
[Addressing the back of LADY FILSON's head.] Mr. Philip
[Straightening herself.] Not for me. [Firmly.] For
Madame de Chaumié.
I beg pardon, m'lady. The gentleman inquired for your ladyship
[To UNDERWOOD.] In the drawing-room[with a queenly air
] no, in my own room.
[To OTTOLINE.] Yes, mad'm.
[Approaching SIR RANDLE and LADY FILSON.]
Your father may do as he chooses. [Rising and crossing to the
writing-table, where she sits and prepares to write.] I have
letters to answer.
[To SIR RANDLE.] Dad?
[Rising.] Impossibleimpossible. [Marching to the
fireplace.] I cannot act apart from your dear mother. [His back
to the fireplace, virtuously.] I never act apart from your dear
Comme vous voudrez! [Moving to the glazed door and there
pausing.] You won't?
[SIR RANDLE blinks at the ceiling again. LADY
scribbles audibly with a scratchy pen.
out, closing the door.
[Jumping up as the door shutsin an expostulatory tone.]
Good heavens! My dear fathermy dear mother!
[Coming to earth.] Eh?
[Agitatedly.] My sister will pack her trunks and be off to an
hotel if you're not careful. She won't stand this, I mean t'say.
There'll be a marriage at the registrar's, or some ghastly
proceedinga scandalall kinds of gossip!
[Throwing down her pen and risingholding her heart.]
[With energy.] I mean to say!
[To LADY FILSON, blankly.] Winnie?
[Biting his nails.] He's right. [BERTRAM hastens to the
glazed door.] Dear Bertram is right.
[Opening the door.] You'll see him?
Yes. [BERTRAM disappears. SIR RANDLE paces the room at the
back, waving his arms.] Oh! Oh!
[Going to the fireplace.] I won't be civil to him, Randle!
The impertinence of his visit! I won't be civil to him!
A calamity! An unmerited calamity!
[Dropping on to the settee before the fireplace.] She's mad!
That's the only excuse I can make for her!
Stark mad! A calamity.
You remember the man?
[Taking a book from the rack on the oblong table and hurriedly
turning its pages.] A supercilious, patronizing personson of a
wretched country parsonused to loll against the wall of your salon
with his nose in the air.
[Tearfully.] A stroke of bad fortune at last, Randle! Fancy!
Everything has always gone so well with us!
[Suddenly, groaning.] Oh!
[Over her shoulder.] What is it? I can't bear much more
He isn't even in Who's Who, Winnie!
[BERTRAM returns, out of breath.
I caught her on the stairs. [Closing the door.] She'll bring
[Weakly.] I won't be civil to him. I refuse to be civil to
[Replacing the book in the rack and sitting in the chair at the
oblong tablegroaning again.] Oh!
[There is a short silence. BERTRAM slowly
[Heavily, drawing his hand across his brow.] Of course, my
dear fathermy dear motherwe must do our utmost to quash itstrain
every nerve, I mean t'say, to stop my sister from committing this
stupendous act of folly.
[Rocking herself to and fro.] Oh! Oh!
A beggarly author!
[The picture of dejection.] But if the worst comes to the
worstif she's obdurate, I mean t'sayan alliance between Society and
LiteratureI suppose there's no actual disgrace in it.
A duffera duffer whose trash doesn't sell!
Taking advantage of a silly, emotional woman, to feather his nest!
[Rising and pacing up and down between the glazed door and the
settee on the right.] I shall have difficulty[shaking his
uplifted fist] I shall have difficulty in restraining myself from
denouncing Mr. Mackworth in her presence!
[Dismally.] As to the wedding, there's no reason that I can
seebecause a lady marries a literary man, I mean t'saywhy the
function should be a shabby one.
[Rising and moving about at the back distractedly.] That it
sha'n't be! If we can't prevent my poor girl from throwing herself
away, I'm determined her wedding shall be smart and impressive!
[Bitterly, with wild gestures.] The interesting engagement
is announced of Mr.Mr.
[Wandering to the fireplace, his chin on his breast.] Philip,
Mr. Philip Mackworth, the well-known novelist, to Ottoline, widow
of the late Comte de Chaumié[peeping into the hall through the
side of one of the curtains of the glazed doorhis voice dying to a
mutter] only daughter of Sir Randle and Lady Filson
Mrs.PhilipMackworth! Ha, ha, ha! Mrs. Philip Nobody!
[Joining her.] Perhaps it would be wiser, mother, for me to
retire while the interview takes place.
[Falling upon his neck.] Oh, my dear boy!
[Getting away from the door.] They're coming!
[Quickly.] I'm near you if you want me, I mean t'say
[He goes out at the door on the left. LADY
hastily resumes her seat at the writing-table,
RANDLE, pulling himself together, crosses to the
fireplace. The glazed door opens and OTTOLINE
[Quietly.] Mr. Mackworth, motherDad
[Advancing to LADY FILSON cordially.] How do you do,
[Giving him a reluctant hand and eyeing him askance with mingled
aversion and indignation.] H-how do you do?
This is very good of you. [Bowing to SIR RANDLE.] How are
you, Sir Randle?
[His head in the air, severely.] How do you do, Mr.
[Breaking the ice.] Wewe meet after many years
[Still examining PHILIP.] M-many.
Andif you've ever bestowed a thought on me since the old Paris
daysin a way you can scarcely have expected.
[Turning to the writing-table to conceal her repugnance.]
[To SIR RANDLE.] Oh, I am not vain enough, Sir Randle, to
flatter myself that what you have heard from Ottoline gives you and
Lady Filson unmixed pleasure. On the contrary
[Gulping.] Pleasure! [Unable to repress herself.]
Unmixed! Ho, ho, ho, ho!
[Restraining her.] Winifred!
[Coming to LADY FILSON and touching her gentlyin a low
[Smiling at OTTOLINE apologetically.] It's my fault; I
provoked that. [Walking away to the right.] I expressed myself
rather clumsily, I'm afraid.
[Expanding his chest and advancing to PHILIP.] I gather from
my daughter, Mr. Mackworth, that you are here for the purpose of
explaining your position in relation to her. I believe I quote her
[Moving to the fireplace.] Yes, Dad.
That is so, Sir Randleif you and Lady Filson will have the
[SIR RANDLE motions PHILIP to the settee on
right. PHILIP sits. Then OTTOLINE sits
on the settee
before the fireplace, and SIR RANDLE in the
by PHILIP. LADY FILSON turns in her chair to
[To PHILIP, majestically.] Before you embark upon your
explanation, permit me to define my positionmine and Lady
Filson's. [PHILIP nods.] I am going to make a confession to you;
and I should like to feel that I am making it as one gentleman to
another. [PHILIP nods again.] Mr. Mackworth, Lady Filson and I
are ambitious people. Not for ourselves. For ourselves, all we desire
is rest and retirement[closing his eyes] if it were possible,
obscurity. But where our children are concerned, it is different; and,
to be frankI must be frankwe had hoped that, in the event of
Ottoline remarrying, she would contract such a marriage as is commonly
described as brilliant.
[Dryly.] Such a marriage as her marriage to Monsieur de
Chaumié, for example.
[Closing his eyes.] De mortuis, Mr. Mackworth! I must
I merely wished, as a basis of argument, to get at your exact
interpretation of brilliancy.
[Dismissing the point with a wave of the hand.] It is easy
for you, therefore, as you have already intimated, to judge what are
our sensations at receiving my daughter's communication.
[Nodding.] They are distinctly disagreeable.
[Conscientiously.] They areI won't exaggerateI mustn't
exaggeratethey are not far removed from dismay.
[Shifting his chairto PHILIP.] I learnI learn from
Ottoline that you have forsaken the field of journalism, Mr. Mackworth,
and now devote yourself exclusively to creative work? [Another nod
from PHILIP.] But you have notto use my daughter's phraseup to
[Nursing his leg.] Please go on.
You have not been eminently successful?
Not yet. Not with the wide public. No; not yet.
Forgive meany private resources?
None worth mentioning. Two-hundred-a-year, left me by an old aunt.
[Under her breath.] Ho!
[To her.] My dear! [To PHILIP.] On the other hand,
Mr. Mackworth, as you are probably aware, my daughter isno, I won't
say a rich womanI will say comfortably provided for; not by
the late Comte de Chaumié, but by myself. [Closing his eyes.] I
have never been a niggardly parent, Mr. Mackworth.
[Softly, without turning.] Indeed, no, Dad!
[To SIR RANDLE, bluntly.] Yes, I do know of the
settlement you made upon Ottoline on her marriage, and of your having
supplemented it when she became a widow. Very handsome of you.
[As before.] Ha!
[Leaning back in his chair.] There then, my dear Mr.
Mackworth, is the state of the case. Ottoline is beyond our control
If she will deal this crushing blow to her mother and myself,
we must bow our heads to it. But, for the sake of your self-esteem, I
beg you to reflect! [Partly to PHILIP, partly at
OTTOLINE.] What construction would be put upon a union between you and
Madame de Chaumiébetween a lady of means andI must be
cruelI must be brutala man who iscommercially at leasta
There could only be one construction put upon it!
[To SIR RANDLE, calmly.] Oh, butah, Ottoline hasn't
[To PHILIP.] No, I hadn't time, Philip
My dear Sir Randle[rising and going to LADY FILSON]my
dear Lady Filsonlet me dispel your anxiety for the preservation of my
self-esteem. Ottoline and I have no idea of getting married yet awhile.
We have agreed to wait until I have ceased to becommerciallya
[To SIR RANDLE and LADY FILSON.] Until he has obtained
public recognition; [coming forward] until, in fact, even the
member's of one's own family, Dad, can't impute unworthy motives.
[To PHILIP, incredulouslyrising.] Until you have
obtained public recognition, Mr. Mackworth?
[Smiling.] Well, it may sound extravagant
[Walking about on the extreme right.] Amazing!
Why grotesque; why amazing? [Sitting in the low-backed arm-chair.
] All that is amazing about it is that Philip should lack the superior
courage which enables a man, in special circumstances, to sink his
pride and ignore ill-natured comments.
[To LADY FILSON.] At any rate, this is the arrangement that
Ottoline and I have entered into; and I suggest, with every respect,
that you and Sir Randle should raise no obstacle to my seeing her under
your roof occasionally.
As being preferable to hole-and-corner meetings in friends'
[Coolly.] Or under lamp-posts in the streetsyes, mother.
[Rising and crossing to the round table.] Ottoline!
[Bearing down upon PHILIP.] May I ask, Mr. Mackworth, how
long you have been following your precarious profession? Pardon my
ignorance. My reading is confined to our great journals; and there
your name has escaped me.
Oh, I've been at it for nearly ten years.
[To SIR RANDLE.] I began soon after I left Paris.
And what ground, sir, have you for anticipating that you will
ever achieve popularity as a writer?
[Sitting in the chair by the round table.] Preposterous!
[Stamping her foot.] Mother! [To SIR RANDLE.]
Philip has high expectations of his next novel, Dad. It is to be
published in the autumnSeptember.
[To PHILIP.] And should that prove no more successful with
the wide public than those which have preceded it?
Then Ithen I fling another at 'em.
Which would occupy you?
And if that fails!
[Smiling again, but rather constrainedly.] Ah, you travel too
quickly for me, Lady Filsonyou and Sir Randle! You heap disaster on
If that fails, another twelve-months' labour!
While my daughter is wasting the best years of her life!
[Indignantly.] Really, Mr. Mackworth! [Throwing himself
upon the settee on the right.] Really! I appeal to you! Is this
Is it fair to Ottoline?
Absolument! So that it satisfies me to spend the best years
of my life in this manner, I don't see what anybody has to complain of.
Mon Dieu! I am relieved to think that some of my best years are
still mine to squander!
[To PHILIP, who is standing by the writing-table in
thought, a look of disquiet on his facepersistently.] Mr.
[Rising impatiently.] My dear Dadmy dear motherI propose
that we postpone this discussion until Mr. Mackworth's new book has
failed to attract the public, [crossing to SIR RANDLE] and that
in the meantime he sha'n't be scowled at when he presents himself in
Ennismore Gardens. [Seating herself beside SIR RANDLE and
slipping her arm through his.] Dad!
[To PHILIP.] Mr. Mackworth!
[Rousing himself and turning to SIR RANDLE and LADY
FILSONabruptly.] Look here, Sir Randle! Look here, Lady Filson! I own
that this arrangement between Ottoline and me is an odd one. It was
arrived at yesterday impulsively; and, in her interests, there is
a good deal to be said against it.
There's nothing to be said for it. Oh!
[To LADY FILSON.] Winifred[To PHILIP.] Well, Mr.
Well, Sir Randle, II'm prepared to take a sporting chance. It may
be that I am misled by the sanguine temperament of the artist, who is
apt to believe that his latest production will shake the earth to its
foundation. I've gammoned myself before into such a belief, but[
resolutely] I'll stake everything on my next book! I give you my
word that if it isn't a successan indisputable popular successI
will join you both, in all sincerity, in urging Ottoline to break with
me. Come! Does that mollify you?
[There is a short silence. SIR RANDLE and
FILSON look at each other in surprise and
stares at PHILIP open-mouthed.
[To SIR RANDLE.] Sir Randle?
[To LADY FILSON.] Winnie?
[In a softer tone.] It certainly seems to me that Mr.
Mackworth's undertakingas far as it goes
[With a queer laugh.] Ha, ha, ha! As far as it goes, mother!
[Rising, thoughtfully.] Doesn't it go a little too far? [
Contracting her brows.] It disposes of me as if I were of no
more account than a sawdust doll! [To PHILIP.] Ah, traitor! [
In a low voice.] Vos promesses à une femme sont sans valeur!
[Taking her hands reassuringly.] No, no!
[Withdrawing her hands.] Zut! [Moving slowly towards the
glazed door.] You have acquitted yourself bravely, mon cher
Monsieur Philippe! [Shrugging her shoulders.] Say good-bye
and let me turn you out in disgrace.
[Deprecatingly.] Ha, ha, ha! [Going to LADY FILSON.]
Good-bye, Lady Filson. [She rises and shakes hands with him.]
Have I bought my right of entrée? I may ring your bell at
discreet intervals till the end of the season?
[Stiffly.] Ottoline is her own mistress, Mr. Mackworth; [
more amiably] but apart from her, you will receive a card from
memusicTuesday, July the eighth.
[He bows and she crosses to the fireplace. Then he
shakes hands with SIR RANDLE, who has risen
standing in the middle of the room.
[To SIR RANDLE.] Good-bye.
[Detaining PHILIP, searchingly.] Erpardon methis
new novel of yours, on which you place so much reliancepray don't
think me curious
[Suddenly.] Ha! [Coming to the back of the settee on the
right, her eyes gleaming scornfully at SIR RANDLE.] Tell my father,
[Shaking his head at her and frowning.] Otto
Do; as you told it to me yesterday. [Satirically.] It will
help him to understand why your name has escaped him in the great
Any confidence you may repose in me, Mr. Mackworth
[Prompting PHILIP.] It's calledallons! racontez donc!
[After a further look of protest at OTTOLINEto SIR
RANDLE, hesitatingly.] It's called The Big Drum, Sir Randle.
[Elevating his eyebrows.] The Big Drum? [With an
innocent air.] Military?
[Leaning against the arm-chair on the left of the settee on the
right.] It's an attempt to portray the struggle for notorietyfor
self-advertisementwe see going on around us to-day.
Ah, yes; lamentable!
[Deliberately, but losing himself in his subject as he proceeds.
] It shows a vast crowd of men and women, sir, forcing themselves upon
public attention without a shred of modesty, fighting to obtain it as
if they are fighting for bread and meat. It shows how dignity and
reserve have been cast aside as virtues that are antiquated and
outworn, until half the worldthe world that should be orderly,
harmonious, beautifulhas become an arena for the exhibition of vulgar
ostentation or almost superhuman egoisma cockpit resounding with
raucous voices bellowing one against the other!
[Closing his eyes.] A terrible picture!
[Closing her eyes.] Terrible.
It shows the bishop and the judge playing to the gallery, the
politician adopting the methods of the cheap-jack, the duchess vying
with the puffing draper; it shows how even true genius submits itself
to conditions that are accepted and excused as modern, and is found
elbowing and pushing in the hurly-burly. It shows how the ordinary
decencies of life are sacrificed to the paragraphist, the interviewer,
and the ghoul with the camera; how the home is stripped of its
sanctity, blessed charity made a vehicle for display, the very
grave-yard transformed into a parade ground; while the outsider looks
on with a sinking of the vitals because the drumstick is beyond his
reach and the bom-bom-bom is not for him! It shows! [Checking
himself and leaving the arm-chair with a short laugh.] Oh, well,
that's the setting of my story, Sir Randle! I won't inflict the details
Erh'm[expansively] an excellent theme, Mr. Mackworth; a
most promising theme! [To LADY FILSON.] Eh, Winifred?
[Politely.] Excellent; quite, quite excellent!
[Bowing to LADY FILSON and going to OTTOLINE.] Thank
[To PHILIP, glowingly.] Splendid! [Laying her hand
upon his arm.] You have purged your disgrace. [Softly.] You
may come and see me to-morrow.
[To OTTOLINE.] Ha, ha!
[In response to a final bow from PHILIP.] Good-bye.
[OTTOLINE opens the glazed door and PHILIP
her into the hall. Immediately the door is shut,
FILSON hurries to SIR RANDLE.
[In high spirits.] Winnie!
That will never be a popular success, Randle!
Never. An offensive book!
Ho, ho, ho, ho!
A grossly offensive book!
[Anxiously.] Hehe'll keep his word?
To join us in persuading her to drop him
If it fails?
[With conviction.] Yes. [Walking about.] Yes. We
must be just. We owe it to ourselves to be just to Mr. Mackworth.
He is not altogether devoid of gentlemanlike scruples.
[Breathlessly.] Andand she?
I trustI trust that my child's monstrous infatuation will have
cooled down by the autumn.
[Supporting herself by the chair at the writing-table, her hand
to her heartexhausted.] Oh! Oh, dear!
[Returning to her.] I conducted the affair with skill and
[Rallying.] It was masterly[kissing him]
[She sits at the writing-table again and takes up
pen as SIR RANDLE stalks to the door on the
[Opening the door.] BertramBertram, my boyBertie!
[He disappears. LADY FILSON scribbles
END OF THE SECOND ACT
THE THIRD ACT
The scene represents two rooms, connected by a pair of wide
doors, in a set of residential chambers on the upper floor of a house
in Gray's Inn. The further room is the dining-room, the nearer room a
study. In the wall at the back of the dining-room are two windows; in
the right-hand wall is a door leading to the kitchen; and in the
left-hand wall a door opens from a vestibule, where, opposite this
door, there is another door which gives on to the landing of the common
In the study, a door in the right-hand wall admits to a bedroom;
in the wall facing the spectator is a door opening into the room from
the vestibule; and beyond the door on the right, in a piece of wall
cutting off the corner of the room, is the fireplace. A bright fire is
The rooms are wainscotted to the ceilings and have a decrepit,
old-world air, and the odds and ends of furnitureall characteristic
of the dwelling of a poor literary man of refined tasteare in keeping
with the surroundings. In the dining-room there are half-a-dozen chairs
of various patterns, a sideboard or two, a corner-cupboard, a
grandfather clock, and a large round table. In the study, set out
into the room at the same angle as the fireplace, is a writing-table. A
chair stands at the writing-table, its back to the fire, and in the
front of the table is a well-worn settee. On the left of the settee is
a smaller table, on which are an assortment of pipes, a box of cigars
and another of cigarettes, a tobacco-jar, an ash-tray, and a bowl of
matches; and on the left of the table is a capacious arm-chair. There
is an arm-chair on either side of the fireplace; and against the
right-hand wall, on the nearer side of the bedroom door, is a cabinet.
On the other side of the room, facing the bedroom door, there is
a second settee, and behind the settee is an oblong table littered with
books and magazines. At a little distance from this table stands an
arm-chair, and against the wall at the back, on the left of the big
doors, is a chair of a lighter sort. Also against the back wall, but on
the left of the door opening from the vestibule, is a table with a
telephone-instrument upon it, and running along the left-hand wall is a
dwarf bookcase, unglazed, packed with books which look as if they would
be none the worse for being dusted and put in order.
In the vestibule, against the wall on the right, there is a small
table on which are Philip's hats, caps, and gloves; and an overcoat and
a man's cape are hanging on some pegs.
It is late on a November afternoon. Curtains are drawn across the
dining-room windows, and the room is lighted rather dimly by an
electric lamp standing upon a sideboard. A warm glow proceeds from the
nearer right-hand corner as from a fire. The study is lighted by a
couple of standard lamps and a library-lamp on the writing-table, and
the vestibule by a lamp suspended from the ceiling.
The big doors are open.
[PHILIP, a pipe in his mouth and wearing an old
jacket, is lying upon the settee on the right,
book by the light of the lamp on the writing-table.
the dining-room, JOHN and a waiterthe
latter in his
shirt-sleevesare at the round table, unfolding a
[A cheery little man in seedy clothesto the waiter, softly.
] Careful! Don't crease it.
[Raising his eyes from his book.] What's the time, John?
Have my things come from the tailor's yet?
[Laying the cloth with the aid of the waiter.] Yes, sir;
while you were dozing. [Ecstatically.] They're lovely, sir. [
A bell rings in the vestibule.] Expect that's the cook, sir. [He
bustles into the vestibule from the dining-room. There is a short pause
and then he reappears, entering the study at the door opening from the
vestibule, followed by ROOPE.] It's Mr. Roope, sir!
No! [Throwing his book aside and jumping up.] Why, Robbie!
[As they shake hands vigorously.] My dear fellow!
Return of the wanderer! When did you get back?
Take your coat off, you old ruffian. [Putting his pipe down.]
I am glad.
[To JOHN, who relieves him of his hat, overcoat, and
neckerchief.] How are you, John?
Splendid, Mr. Roope. [Beaming.] Our new novel is sech
a success, sir.
Ha, ha, ha, ha!
[To JOHN.] So Mr. Mackworth wrote and told me. [Giving his
gloves to JOHN.] Congratulate you, John.
[Depositing the hat, coat, etc., upon the settee on the left.
] Thank you, sir.
[Crossing to the fireplace, rubbing his hands, as JOHN
retires to the dining-room.] Oh, my dear Phil, this dreadful
climate after the sunshine of the Lago Maggiore!
[Walking about and spouting, in high spirits.] Italia! O
Italia! thou who hast the fatal gift of beauty!
Sir Loftus and Lady Glazebrook were moving on to Rome, or I really
believe I could have endured another month at their villa, bores as
they are, dear kind souls! [Looking towards the dining-room, where
JOHN and the waiter are now placing a handsome centre-piece of
flowers upon the round table.] Hallo! A dinner-party, Phil?
Dinner-party? A banquet!
To celebrate the success of the book?
That and something more. This festival, sir, of the preparations for
which you are a privileged spectator[shouting to JOHN] shut
those doors, John
[Sitting in the chair on the left of the smoking-table as
JOHN closes the big doors.] This festival, my dear Robbie[
glancing over his shoulder to assure himself that the doors are closed
] this festival also celebrates my formal engagement to Madame de
[Taking a cigarette from the box at his side.] Ottoline and I
are to be married soon after Christmas. The civilized world is to be
startled by the announcement on Monday.
[Advancing.] My dear chap, I've never heard anything that has
given me greater pleasure. [PHILIP offers ROOPE the
cigarette-box.] No, I won't smoke. [Seating himself upon the
settee on the right.] When was it settled?
[Lighting his cigarette.] The day before yesterday. I got
Titterton to write me a letterTitterton, my publishercertifying to
the enormous sales of the book, and sent it on to Sir Randle Filson.
Nothing like documentary evidence, Robbie. [Leaning back in his
chair with outstretched legs and exhaling a wreath of tobacco-smoke.
] Twenty-five thousand copies, my boy, up to date, and still going
Phew! The critics treated me generously enough, but it hung fire
damnably at first. At one particularly hellish moment I could have
sworn it wouldn't do more than my usual fifteen or eighteen hundred,
and I cursed myself for having been such a besotted fool as to pin my
faith to it. [Sitting upright.] And then, suddenly, a rusha
tremendous rush! Twenty-four thousand went off in less than six weeks.
Almost uncanny, eh? [Touching the tobacco-jar.] Oh, lord,
sometimes I think I've been putting opium into my pipe instead of this
innocent baccy, and that I shall wake up to the necessity of counting
my pence again and apologizing to John for being in arrear with his
And Titterton's letter brought the Filsons round?
[Nodding.] Brought 'em round; and I must say they've
accomplished the change of attitude most graciously.
[Oracularly.] Graciously or grudgingly, they couldn't help
themselves, dear excellent friend. As you had pledged yourself in
effect to resign the lady if your book was a failure, it follows that
they were bound to clasp you to their bosoms if it succeeded. I don't
want to detract from the amiability of the Filsons for an instant
Anyhow, their opposition is at an end, and all is rosy. [Rising
and pacing the room.] Master Bertram is a trifle glum and
stand-offish perhaps, but Sir Randle! Ha, ha, ha! Sir Randle has
taken Literature under his wing, Robbie, from Chaucer to Kipling, in
the person of his prospective son-in-law. You'd imagine, to listen to
him, that to establish ties of relationship with a literary man has
been his chief aim in life.
[Jerking his head in the direction of the dining-room.] And
this is to be a family gathering?
The first in the altered circumstances. I proposed a feast at a
smart restaurant, but Sir Randle preferred the atmosphere which has
conduced, as he puts it, to the creation of so many of my brilliant
compositions. [Behind the smoking-table, dropping the end of his
cigarette into the ash-traygaily.] Robbie, I've had a magnificent
suit of joy-rags made for the occasion!
[Earnestly.] Good! I rejoice to hear it, dear excellent
friend, and I hope it portends a wholesale order to your tailor and
your intention to show yourself in society again freely. [With a
laugh, PHILIP goes to the fireplace and stands looking into the
fire.] Begin leaving your cards at once. No more sulking in your
tent! [Rising and crossing to the other side of the room.] You
have arrived, my dear chap; I read your name in two papers in my
cabin yesterday. [Marching up and down.] Your foot is on the
ladder; you bid fair to become a celebrity, if you are not one already;
and your approaching marriage sheds additional lustre on you. I envy
you, Phil; I do, positively.
[Facing ROOPE.] Oh, of course, I shall be seen about with
Ottoline during our engagement. Afterwards
Everything will depend on my wife[relishing the word] my
wife. Ottoline has rather lost her taste for Society with a capital
[Testily.] That was her mood last June, when she was hypped
and discontented. With a husband she can be proud of, surely!
[Coming forward.] As a matter of fact, Robbie, I'm inclined
to agree with you; I've been staring into my fire, or out of my windows
here, a jolly sight too much. [Expanding his chest.] It'll be
refreshing to me to rub shoulders with people again for a bit[
smiling] even to find myself the object of a little interest and
[Delighted.] Dear excellent friend!
Ha, ha! You see, I'm not without my share of petty vanity. I'm
consistent, though. Didn't I tell you in South Audley Street that I was
as eager for fame as any man living, if only I could win it in my own
[Exultingly.] Well, I have won it in my own way,
haven't I! [Hitting the palm of his hand with his fist.] I've
done what I determined to do, Robbie; what I knew I should do,
sooner or later! I've got theregot there!by simple, honest
means! Isn't it glorious?
[Cautiously.] I admit
[Breaking in.] Oh, I don't pretend that there haven't been
moments in my years of stress and struggle when I've been tempted to
join the gaudy, cackling fowl whose feathers I flatter myself I've
plucked pretty thoroughly in my book! But I've resisted the devil by
prayers and fasting; and, by George, sir, I wouldn't swap my modest
victory for the vogue of the biggest boomster in England! [
Boisterously.] Ha, ha, ha! Whoop! [Seizing ROOPE and
shaking him.] Dare to preach your gospel to me now, you
arch-apostle of quackery and self-advertisement!
[Peevishly, releasing himself.] Upon my word, Phil!
[The bell rings again.
The cook! [To ROOPE, seeing that he is putting on his
muffler.] Don't go.
I must. [Taking up his overcoat.] I merely ran along to shake
hands with you, and I'm sorry I took the trouble. [PHILIP helps him
into his overcoat laughingly.] Thanks.
[Struggling with an obstinate sleeve.] Hey?
It's just struck me. Where are you dining to-night?
At the Garrick, with Hughie Champion. [Picking up his hat and
gloves.] He's getting horribly deaf and tedious; but I had nothing
Bother Colonel Champion! I wish you could have dined with me.
[His hat on his head, drawing on his gloves.] Dear excellent
friend! I should be out of place.
Rubbish! Your presence would be peculiarly appropriate, my dear
Robbie. Wasn't it you who brought Ottoline and me together, God bless
yer! [Observing that ROOPE is weakening.] There's heaps
of room for an extra chair. Everybody 'ud be delighted.
[Meditatively.] I could telephone to Hughie excusing myself.
He didn't ask me till this afternoon. [With an injured air.] I
resent a short notice.
[His eyes twinkling.] Quite right. Mine's short too
Entirely. You'll come?
If you're certain the Filsons and Madame de Chaumié
Certain. [Following ROOPE to the door admitting to the
vestibule.] Eight o'clock.
[Opening the door.] Charming.
Won't you let John fetch you a taxi?
[Shaking hands with PHILIP.] No, I'll walk into Holborn. [
In the doorway.] Oh, by-the-by, I've a message for you, Phil.
Barradell, of all people in the world.
[Surprised.] Sir Timothy?
He's home. I crossed with him yesterday, and we travelled in the
same carriage from Dover.
What's the message?
He saw your book in my bag, and began talking about you. He said he
hadn't met you for years, but that I was to give you his warm regards.
[Astutely.] My impression is that he's heard rumours
concerning you and Madame de Chaumié while he's been away, and that
he's anxious to show he has no ill-will. I suppose your calling so
often in Ennismore Gardens has been remarked.
Extremely civil of him, if that's the case. [Loftily.] Decent
sort of fellow, I recollect.
[Going into the vestibule.] Very; very.
[Opening the outer door.] Eight o'clock, dear excellent
[At his elbow.] Sharp.
[Disappearing.] Au revoir!
Au revoir! [Calling after ROOPE.] Mind that corner! [
Closing the outer door with a bang and shouting.] John! [Coming
back into the study.] John! [Closing the vestibule door.]
John! [Going to the big doors and opening the one on the left a
little way.] John!
[OTTOLINE, richly dressed in furs, steps through
opening and confronts him. Her cheeks are flushed
her manner has lost some of its repose.
[Shutting the door behind her as she entersplayfully.]
Qu'est-ce que vous désirez John?
[Catching her in his arms.] My dear girl!
Ha, ha! I'm not going to stop a minute. [Rapidly.] I've been
to tea with Kitty Millington; and as I was getting into my car, I
suddenly thought! [He kisses her.] I waited in there to avoid
Robbie came back yesterday. I hope I haven't done wrong; I've asked
him to dine here to-night.
Wrong! Dear old Robbie! But I didn't want him just now. [
Loosening her wrap and hunting for a pocket in it.] I've brought you
a little gift, Philen souvenir de cette soirée
I got it at Cartier's this afternoon. I meant to slip it into your
serviette to-night quietly, but it's burning a hole in my pocket. [
She produces a small jewel-case and presents it to him.] Will you
wear that in your tie sometimes?
[Opening the case and gazing at its contents.] Phiou! [She
leaves him, walking away to the fireplace.] What a gorgeous pearl!
[He follows her and they stand side by side, he holding the case at
arm's-length admiringly, his other arm round her waist.] You
shouldn't, Otto. You're incorrigible.
[Leaning her head against his shouldersoftly.] Phil
[Still gazing at the scarf-pin.] To-morrow I'll buy the most
beautiful silk scarf ever weaved.
Phil, I've a feeling that it's from to-night, when I sit at your
tablehow sweet your flowers are; I couldn't help noticing them!I've
a feeling that it's from to-night that we really belong to each other.
[Pressing her closer to him.] Ah!
[With a shiver, closing her eyes.] What has gone before has
[Looking down upon her fondly.] Hateful?
Untiluntil your book commenced to sell, at any rate. Suspensea
horrid sensation of uneasiness, mistrustthe fear that, through your
foolish, hasty promise to mother and Dad, you might, after all, unite
with them to cheat me out of my happiness! That's what it has been to
[Rallying her, but a little guiltily.] Ha, ha, ha! You goose!
I knew exactly how events would shape, Otto; hadn't a doubt on the
subject. [Shutting the jewel-case with a snap and a flourish.]
[Releasing herself.] Ah, yes, I dare say I've been dreadfully
stupid. [Shaking herself, as if to rid herself of unpleasant
memories, and again leaving him.] Well! Sans adieu! [
Fastening her wrap.] Get your hat and take me downstairs.
Wait a moment! [Chuckling.] Ho, ho! I'm not to be outdone
altogether. [Pocketing her gift, he goes to the cabinet on the right
and unlocks it. She watches him from the middle of the room. Presently
he comes to her, carrying a little ring-case.] Take off your
glove[pointing to her left hand] that one. [She removes her
glove tremulously. He takes a ring from the case, tosses the case on to
the writing-table, and slips the ring on her third finger.] By
George, I'm in luck; blessed if it doesn't fit!
[She surveys the ring in silence for a while; then
puts her arms round his neck and hides her face on
[Almost inaudibly.] Oh, Phil!
[Tenderly.] And so this is the end of the journey, Otto!
[In a whisper.] The end?
The dreary journey in opposite directions you and I set out upon
nearly eleven years ago in Paris.
My dear, what does it matter as long as our roads meet at last, and
meet where there are clear pools to bathe our vagabond feet and
sunshine to heal our sore bodies! [She raises her head and rummages
for her handkerchief.] Otto!
[Drying her eyes.] April?
You haven't forgotten the compact we entered into at Robbie Roope's?
[Brightening.] Ah, no!
In April we walk under the chestnut-trees once more in the
[Smiling through her tears.] And the Allée de Longchamp!
As husband and wifewe shall be an old married couple by then!
[Pulling on her glove.] And drink milk at the
And the Pré-Catelan!
And we'll make pilgrimages, Phil!
Yes, we'll gaze up at the windows of my gloomy lodgings in the Rue
Soufflotwhat was the number?
[Contracting her brows.] Quarante-trois bis.
[Banteringly.] Where you honoured me with a visit, madame,
with your maid Nanette
[Warding off the recollection with a gesture.] Oh, don't!
Ha, ha, ha! A shame of me!
[Turning from him.] Do get your hat and coat.
[Going into the vestibule.] Where's your car?
[Moving towards the vestibule.] In South Square.
[Returning to her, a cape over his shoulders, a soft hat on his
head.] Eight o'clock!
[He takes her hands and they stand looking into
[After a pause.] Fancy!
[Faintly.] Fancy! [He is drawing her to him slowly when,
uttering a low cry, she embraces him wildly and passionately.] Oh!
[Clinging to him.] Oh, Phil! Ohohoh!
[Responding to her embrace.] OttoOtto!
[Breaking from him.] Oh!
[She hurries to the outer door. He follows her
closing the vestibule door after him. Then the outer
door is heard to shut, and the curtain falls. After
short interval, the curtain rises again, showing all
doors closed and the study in darkness save for the
light of the fire. The bell rings, and again there
interval; and then the vestibule door is opened by
JOHNattired for waiting at tableand
brushes past him and enters. BERTRAM is in
[As he enters, brusquely.] Yes, I know I'm a little too soon.
I want to speak to Mr. Mackworthbefore the others come, I mean
[JOHN switches on the light of a lamp by the
door. It is now seen that BERTRAM is greatly
[Taking BERTRAM's hat, overcoat, etc.] I'll tell Mr.
Mackworth, sir. He's dressin'.
[JOHN, eyeing BERTRAM wonderingly, goes to
of the bedroom. There, having switched on the
another lamp, he knocks.
[From the bedroom.] Yes?
[Opening the door a few inches.] Mr. Filson, sir.
[Calling out.] Hallo, Bertram!
Mr. Filson wants to speak to you, sir.
I'll be with him in ten seconds. Leave the door open.
[JOHN withdraws, carrying BERTRAM's outdoor
into the vestibule and shutting the vestibule door.
[Calling to BERTRAM again.] I'm in the throes of tying
a bow, old man. Sit down. [BERTRAM, glaring at the bedroom door,
remains standing.] O'ho, that's fine! Ha, ha, ha! I warn you, I'm
an overpowering swell to-night. A new suit of clothes, Bertram, devised
and executed in less than thirty-six hours! And a fit, sir; every item
of it! You'll be green with envy when you see this coat. I'm ready for
you. Handkerchief? [Shouting.] John! Oh, here it is! [
Switching off the light in the bedroom and appearing, immaculately
dressed, in the doorway.] Behold! [Closing the door and
advancing to BERTRAM.] How are you, Bertram? [BERTRAM refuses
PHILIP's hand by putting his own behind his back. PHILIP
raises his eyebrows.] Oh? [A pause.] Anything amiss? [
Observing BERTRAM's heated look.] You don't look well,
[Breathing heavily.] No, I'm not wellI mean t'say, I'm sick
You've attempted to play us all a rascally trick, Mackworth; a low,
[Frowning.] A trick?
I've just come from Mr. Dunninga man I've thought it my duty to
employ in the interests of my familySillitoe and Dunning, the
Dunning rang me up an hour ago, and I went down to him. The
discovery wasn't clinched till this afternoon
[Derisively.] Ho! This precious book of yoursThe Big
Drum! A grand success, Mackworth!
[Perplexed.] I don't
The Big Drum! Wouldn't The Big Fraud be a more suitable title, I
Reached its twenty-fifth thousand, and the demand still continues!
You and Mr. what's-his-nameTittertonought to be publicly exposed,
Mackworth; and if we were in the least spiteful and vindictive
[Tightening his lips.] Are you sober, Filson?
Now, don't you be insolent, because it won't answer. [PHILIP
winces, but restrains himself.] The question is, what are we to do
to-nightfor Ottoline's sake, I mean t'say. We must spare her as
much shock and distress as possible. I assume you've sufficient decency
left to agree with me there. My father and mother toothey're quite
ignorant of the steps I've been taking
[Controlling himself with difficulty.] My good fellow, will
you condescend to explain?
[Walking away.] Oh, it's no use, Mackworththis air of
innocence! [Puffing himself out and strutting to and fro on the
left.] It's simply wasted effort, I mean t'say. In five minutes I
can have Dunning here with the whole disreputable story. He's close
bybottom of Chancery Lane. He'll be at his office till
[Between his teeththrusting his hands into his trouser-pockets.
] Very accommodating of him!
I tried to get on to my father from Dunning'sto ask his advice, I
mean t'saybut he'd dressed early and gone to one of his clubs, and
they couldn't tell me which one. [Halting and looking at his watch.
] My suggestion is that you and I should struggle through this
farce of a dinner as best we canas if nothing had happened. I mean
t'sayand that I should reserve the disclosure of your caddish conduct
till to-morrow. You assent to that course, Mackworth? [Dabbing his
forehead with his handkerchief.] Thank heaven, the announcement of
the engagement hasn't appeared!
[In a calm voice.] Bertram[pointing to the chair on the
left of the smoking-table] Bertie, old man[seating himself
easily upon the settee on the right] you're your sister's brother
and I'm not going to lose my temper
[Sneeringly.] My dear sir
[Leaning back and crossing his legs.] One thing I seem to
grasp clearly; and that is that, while I've been endeavouring to
conciliate you, and make a pal of you, you've been leaguing yourself
with a tame detective with the idea of injuring me in some way with
Ottoline and your father and mother. [Folding his arms.] That's
correct, isn't it?
[With a disdainful shrug.] If you think it will benefit you
to distort my motives, Mackworth, pray do so. [Returning to the
middle of the room.] What I've done, I've done, as I've already
stated, from a sheer sense of duty
[Again pointing to the chair.] Please! You'll look less
formidable, old man
[Sitting, haughtily.] Knowing what depended on the fate of
your book, I felt from the first that you might be unscrupulous enough
to induce your publisher to represent it as being a popular successin
order to impose on us, I mean t'saythough actually it was another of
your failures to hit the mark; and when Titterton started blowing the
trumpet so loudly, my suspicions increased. [PHILIP slowly unfolds
his arms.] As for desiring to injure you with my family at any
price, I scorn the charge. I've had the delicacy to refrain from even
mentioning my suspicions to my father and mother, let alone Ottoline. [
Putting his necktie straight and smoothing his hair and his slightly
crumpled shirt-front.] Deeply as I regret your connection with my
sister, I should have been only too happy, I mean t'say, if my poor
opinion of you had been falsified.
[His hands clenched, but preserving his suavity.] Extremely
grateful to you, Bertie. I see! And so, burdened by these suspicions,
you carried them to Mr.Mr. Gunning?
Dunning. I didn't regard it as a job for a respectable solicitor
[Politely.] Didn't you!
Not that there's anything against Dunning
[Uncrossing his legs and sitting upright.] Well, that brings
us to the point, doesn't it?
The precise, and illuminating, details of the fable your friend at
the bottom of Chancery Lane is fooling you with.
[In a pitying tone.] Oh, my dear Mackworth! I repeat, it's no
use your adopting this attitude. You don't realize how completely
you're bowled over, I mean t'say. Dunning's got incontestable
[Jumping up, unable to repress himself any longer.] Damn the
[The bell rings.
[Listening.] Your bell!
[Striding to the left and then to the fireplace.] You said
he's still at his office, didn't you?
[Pointing to the telephone, imperatively.] Get him here at
[Rather taken aback.] At once?
I'll deal with this gentleman promptly.
[Icily.] Not before Ottoline and my parents, I hope?
[Seizing the poker and attacking the fire furiously.] Before
Ottoline and your parents.
A most painful scene for them, I mean t'say
A painful scene for you and Mr. Dunning.
After dinnerwhen they've goneyou and I'll go down to
[Flinging the poker into the grate and facing BERTRAM.]
Confound you, you don't suppose I'm going to act on your suggestion,
and grin through a long meal with this between us! [Pointing to the
telephone again.] Ring him up, you treacherous little whelpquick!
[Advancing.] If you won't!
[Bristling.] Oh, very good! [Pausing on his way to the
telephone and addressing PHILIP with an evil expression.]
You were always a bully and a blusterer, Mackworth; but, take my word
for it, if you fancy you can bully Mr. Dunning, and bluster to my
family, with any satisfactory results to yourself, you're vastly
[Gruffly.] I beg your pardon; sorry I exploded.
[Scowling.] It's of no consequence. [At the telephone, his
ear to the receiver.] I am absolutely indifferent to your vulgar
abuse, I mean t'say.
[JOHN announces ROOPE. Note: ROOPE
and the rest of
the guests divest themselves of their overcoats,
etc., in the vestibule before entering the room.
[Greeting PHILIP as JOHN withdraws.] Am I the
[Glancing at BERTRAM.] No.
[Speaking into the telephone.] Holborn, three eight nine
[Waving his hand to Bertram.] Ah! How are you, my dear
[To ROOPE, sulkily.] How'r you? Excuse me
[To PHILIP.] My dear Phil, these excursions to the east are
delightful; they are positively. The sights fill me with amazement.
[Cutting him short by leading him to the fireplace.]
[Grimly, dropping his voice.] Are you hungry?
Dear excellent friend, since you put the question so plainly, I
don't mind avowing that I amdevilish hungry. Why?
There may be a slight delay, old chap.
Yes, the east hasn't exhausted its marvels yet, by a long chalk.
[Looking at him curiously.] Nothing the matter, Phil?
[Suddenly, into the telephone.] That you, Dunning?
[To ROOPE.] Robbie
[Turning to the fire, PHILIP talks rapidly
energetically to ROOPE in undertones.
[Into the telephone.] Filson.... Mr. Filson.... I'm speaking
from Gray's Inn.... Gray's InnMr. Mackworth's chambers2, Friars
Court.... You're wanted, Dunning.... Nowimmediately.... Yes, jump
into a taxicab and come up, will you?...
[To PHILIP, aloud, opening his eyes widely.] My dear
[With a big laugh.] Ha, ha, ha, ha!
[To PHILIP, angrily.] Quiet! I can't hear. [Into
the telephone.] I can't hear; there's such a beastly noise going
onwhat?... Dash it, you can get something to eat at any time!
I mean to say!... Eh?... [Irritably.] Oh, of course you
may have a wash and brush up!... Yes, he is.... You're coming,
then?... Right! Goo'bye.
[To PHILIP, who has resumed his communication to ROOPE
incredulously.] Dear excellent friend!
[The door-bell rings again.
Ah! [Pausing on his way to the vestibule doorto BERTRAM.]
Mr. Dunning will favour us with his distinguished company?
[Behind the table on the left, loweringly.] In a few minutes.
Washing? Some of his customers' dirty linen? [As he opens the
vestibule door, JOHN admits SIR RANDLE FILSON at the
outer door.] Ah, Sir Randle!
[Heartily.] Well, Philip, my boy! [While JOHN is
taking his hat, overcoat, etc.] Are my dear wife and daughter here
I looked in at Brooks's on my way to you. I hadn't been there for
months. [To JOHN.] My muffler in the right-hand pocket. Thank
you. [Entering and shaking hands with PHILIP.] Ha! They gave me
quite a warm welcome. Very gratifying. [ROOPE advances.] Mr.
Roope! [Shaking hands with ROOPE as PHILIP shuts the
vestibule door.] An unexpected pleasure!
[Uneasily.] ErI am rather an interloper, I'm afraid, my
dear Sir Randle
[Retaining his hand.] No. [Emphatically.] No.
This is one of Philip's many happy inspirations. If my memory is
accurate, it was at your charming flat in South Audley Street that he
and my darling child[discovering BERTRAM, who is now by the
settee on the left.] Bertie! [Going to him.] I haven't seen
you all day, Bertie dear. [Kissing him on the forehead.] Busy,
[Stiffly.] Yes, father.
[At the chair on the left of the smoking-table, dryly.]
Bertram has been telling me how busy he has been, Sir Randle
[Not perceiving the general air of restraint.] That reminds
me[moving, full of importance, to the settee on the rightfeeling
in his breast-pocket] the announcement of the engagement, Philip[
seating himself and producing a pocket-book] Lady Filson and I drew
it up this morning. [Hunting among some letters and papers.] I
believe it is in the conventional form; but we so thoroughly
sympathize with you and Ottoline in your dislike for anything that
savours of pomp and flourish that we hesitate, without your sanction,
to[selecting a paper and handing it to PHILIP] ah! [To
ROOPE, who has returned to the fireplaceover his shoulder.] I
am treating you as one of ourselves, Mr. Roope
[In a murmur.] Dear excellent friend!
[To PHILIP.] We propose to insert it only in the three or
four principal journals
[Frowning at the paper.] Sir Randle
Haven't you given me the wrong paper?
[With a look of alarm, hurriedly putting on his pince-nez and
searching in his pocket-book again.] The wrong?
This has Universal News Agency written in the corner of it.
[Holding out his hand for the paper, faintly.] Oh!
[Ignoring SIR RANDLE's handreading.] The
extraordinary stir, which we venture to prophesy will not soon be
eclipsed, made by Mr. Philip Mackworth's recent novel, 'The Big Drum,'
lends additional interest to the announcement of his forthcoming
marriage to the beautiful Madame de Chaumié [The bell rings. He
listens to it, and then goes on reading.] the beautiful Madame
de Chaumié, daughter of the widely and deservedly popularthe widely
and deservedly popular Sir Randle and Lady Filson
[After reading it to the end silently, he restores
paper to SIR RANDLE with a smile and a slight
[Collecting himself.] ErLady Filson and I thought it might
be prudent, Philip, toerto give a lead to the inevitable comments
of the press. [Replacing the paper in his pocket-book.] If you
object, my dear boy
[With a motion of the head towards the vestibule door.] That
must be Lady Filson and Ottoline.
[He goes to the door and opens it. LADY FILSON
OTTOLINE are in the vestibule and JOHN is
LADY FILSON's wrap from her.
[Brimming over with good humour.] Ah, Philip! Don't say we're
[Lightly.] I won't.
[Entering and shaking hands with him.] Your staircase is so
dark, it takes an age to climb it. [To ROOPE, who comes
forward, shaking hands with him.] How nice! Ottoline told me,
coming along, that we were to meet you.
[Bending over her hand.] Dear lady!
[Coming to SIR RANDLE.] There you are, Randle! [Nodding to
BERTRAM, who is sitting aloof in the chair on the extreme left.]
Bertie darling! [SIR RANDLE rises.] Aren't these rooms quaint
and cosy, Randle?
[Still somewhat disconcerted.] For a solitary man, ideal. [
Solemnly.] If ever I had the misfortune to be left alone in the
[Sitting on the settee on the right.] Ho, my dear!
[PHILIP has joined OTTOLINE in the
vestibule. He now
follows her into the room, shutting the vestibule
She is elegantly dressed in white and, though she
recovered her usual stateliness and composure, is a
picture of radiant happiness.
[Giving her hand to ROOPE, who raises it to his
lipssweetly.] I am glad you are home, Robbie, and that you are
here to-night. [To LADY FILSON and SIR RANDLE.]
MotherDad[espying BERTRAM] oh, and there's Bertramdon't be
scandalized, any of you! [To ROOPE, resting her hands on his
shoulders.] Une fois de plus, mon ami, pour vous témoigner ma
[She kisses him. LADY FILSON laughs
SIR RANDLE, wagging his head, moves to the
Ha, ha, ha!
Ha, ha, ha! [Going to the fireplace.] Ah, what a lovely fire!
[To SIR RANDLE, as ROOPE seats himself in the chair by
the smoking-table and prepares to make himself agreeable to LADY
FILSON.] Share it with me, Dad, and let me warm my toes before dinner.
[Coming to the middle of the room.] My dear OttolineLady
FilsonSir RandleI fear we shall all have time to warm our
toes before dinner. [ROOPE, who is about to address a remark to
LADY FILSON, puts his hand to his mouth, and SIR RANDLE and
LADY FILSON look at PHILIP inquiringly.] You mustn't
blame me wholly for the hitch in my poor entertainment
[Amiably.] The kitchen! I guess your difficulties, Philip
No, nor my kitchen either
[Turning the chair on the nearer side of the fireplace so that it
faces the fire.] The cook wasn't punctual! [Installing herself
in the chair.] Ah, la, la! Ces cuisinières causent la moitié des
ennuis sur cette terre!
Oh, yes, the cook was punctual. [His manner hardening a little.
] The truth is, we are waiting for a Mr. Dunning.
[From her chair, where she is almost completely hidden from the
otherscomfortably.] Good gracious! Who's Mr. Dunning, Philip?
[JOHN and the waiter open the big doors. The
dining-table, round which the chairs are now
is prettily lighted by shaded candles.
[To JOHN, sharply.] John
Tell the cook to keep the dinner back for a little while. Do you
[Astonished.] Keep dinner back, sir?
Yes. And when Mr. Dunning calls[distinctly] Dunning
I'll see him. Show him in.
You may serve dinner as soon as he's gone. I'll ring.
[JOHN and the waiter withdraw into the kitchen,
whereupon PHILIP, after watching their
deliberately closes the big doors. ROOPE, who
picking at his nails nervously, rises and steals
the left, and SIR RANDLE, advancing a step or
exchanges questioning glances with LADY FILSON.
[Laughingly.] What a terrible shock! I was frightened that
Philip had sprung a strange guest upon us. [As PHILIP is
shutting the doors.] Vous êtes bien mystérieux, Phil? Why
are we to starve until this Mr. Dunning has come and gone?
Because if I tried to eat without having first disposed of the
reptile, Otto, I should choke.
[At the chair beside the smoking-tableto LADY FILSON.] I
apologize very humbly for making you and Sir Randle, and dear Ottoline,
parties to such unpleasant proceedings, Lady Filson; but the necessity
is forced upon me. [Coming forward.] Mr. Dunning is one of those
crawling creatures who conduct what are known as confidential
inquiries. In other words, he's a private detectivean odd sort of
person to present to you!
[Under her breath.] Great heavens!
And he has lightened your son's purse, presumably, and crammed his
willing ears with some ridiculous, fantastic tale concerning my
bookThe Big Drum. Mr. Dunning professes to have discovered that I
have conspired with a wicked publisher to deceive you all; that the
book's another of my miss-hits, and that I'm a designing rogue and
liar. [To BERTRAM.] Come on, Bertram; don't sit there as if you
were a stuffed figure! Speak out, and tell your father and mother what
you've been up to!
[Moving towards BERTRAM, mildly.] Bertram, my boy?
[Curling his lipto PHILIP.] Oh, you seem to be getting on
exceedingly well without my assistance, Mackworth. I'm content to hold
my tongue till Dunning arrives, I mean t'say.
[Approaching LADY FILSON.] You see, Lady Filson, Master
Bertram is endowed with an exceptionally active brain; and when I gave
those assurances to you and Sir Randle last June, it occurred to him
that, in the event of my book failing to attract the market, there was
a danger of my palming it off, with the kind aid of my publisher, as
the out-and-out triumph I'd bragged of in advance; and the loud blasts
of Titterton's trumpet strengthened Master Bertie's apprehensions.
[OTTOLINE, unobserved, rises unsteadily and, with her eyes fixed
fiercely upon BERTRAM, crosses the room at the back.] So
what does he do, bless him for his devotion to his belongings! To
safeguard his parents from being jockeyed, and as a brotherly
precaution, he enlists the services, on the sly, of the obliging Mr.
Dunning. We shall shortly have an opportunity of judging what that
individual's game is. [With a shrug.] He may have
stumbled legitimately into a mare's nest; but I doubt it. These
ruffians'll stick at nothing to keep an ingenuous client on the hook[
He is interrupted by feeling OTTOLINE's hand upon his arm. He
lays his hand on hers gently.] Otto dear
[Clutching him tightly and articulating with an effort.]
Itit's infamousshameful! Mymy brother! It's infamous!
Oh, it'll be all over in ten minutes. And then Bertie and I will
shake handswon't we, Bertie?and forget the wretched incident
[Confronting BERTRAM, trembling with passion.] How
dare you! How dare you meddle with my affairsmine and Mr.
Mackworth's! How dare you!
[Straightening himself.] Look heah, Ottoline!
Stand up when I speak to you!
[BERTRAM gets to his feet in a hurry.
[To BERTRAM.] All your life you've been paltry, odious,
But this! My God! For youfor any of usto impugn the
honesty of a man whose shadow we're not fit to walk in!
[To LADY FILSONpained.] Winifred!
[To BERTRAM.] Youyouyou're no better than your common,
[Rising and going to OTTOLINE.] My child, remember!
[Clenching her hands and hissing her words at BERTRAM.]
C'est la vérité! Tu n'es qu'une canailleune vile canaille!
Control yourself, I beg!
[To LADY FILSON.] Leave me alone!
[She passes LADY FILSON and sits on the
settee on the
right with glittering eyes and heaving bosom.
has withdrawn to the fireplace and is standing
into the fire.
[To BERTRAM.] Bertie dear, I'm surprised at you! To do a
thing like this behind our backs!
My dear mother, I knew that you and father wouldn't do it
I should think not, indeed!
[To BERTRAM.] Your mother and I!
[Horrified at the notion.] Oh!
Upon my word, this is rather rough! [Walking away.] I mean to
[Turning.] We mustn't be too hard on poor Bertram, Lady
[Pacing the room near the big doors.] Poor Bertram! Ho!
[To PHILIP.] I trust we are never unduly hard on our
children, my dear Philip
To do him justice, he was most anxious to postpone these dreadful
revelations till to-morrow
Exactly! [Throwing himself into the chair between the big doors
and the vestibule door.] I predicted a scene! I predicted a scene!
[To SIR RANDLE and LADY FILSON, penitently.]
Perhaps it would have been wiser of memore considerateto have
complied with his wishes. But I was in a furynaturally
[Sitting on the settee on the left.] Naturally.
And excusably. I myself, in similar circumstances
[Rubbing his head.] Why the deuce couldn't he have kept his
twopenny thunderbolt in his pocket for a few hours, instead of
launching it to-night and spoiling our sole à la Morny and our
ris de veau!
[Gradually composing herself and regaining her dignity].
[Coming to the smoking-table.] Eh?
[Passing her handkerchief over her lips.] Need youneed you
see this man to-night? Can't you stop him comingor send him away?
Not see him?
Whywhy should you stoop to see him at all? Why shouldn't the
matter be allowed to dropto drop?
Itit's too monstrous; too absurd. [To BERTRAM, with a
laugh.] Ha, ha, ha! BertieBertie dear
Ha, ha! I almost scared you out of your wits, didn't I?
You've behaved excessively rudely
I mean to say, mother! What becomes of family loyalty?
[To BERTRAM, coaxingly.] Forgive me, Bertram. I'm
ashamed of my violent outburst. Forgive me
[Who has been effacing himself behind the table on the left,
appearing at the nearer end of the table.] Erdear excellent
friends[SIR RANDLE and LADY FILSON look at ROOPE as
if he had fallen from the skies, and BERTRAM stares at him
resentfully.] dear excellent friends, if I may be permitted to make
[To ROOPE.] Go ahead, old man.
In my opinion, it would be a thousand pities not to see Mr. Dunning
to-night, and have done with him. [Cheerfully.] The fish is
ruinedwe must resign ourselves to that; [sitting in the chair on
the extreme left] but the other dishes, if the cook is fairly
[Advancing.] Mr. Roope's opinion is my opinion also. [
Ponderously.] As to whether Lady Filson and my daughter should
withdraw into an adjoining room
I feel with Philip; we couldn't sit down to dinner with this
cloud hanging over us
[Sitting in the chair by the smoking-table.] Impossible! I
must be frank. Impossible!
Dear Madame de Chaumié will pardon me for differing with her, but
you can't very well ignore even a fellow of this stamp[glancing at
BERTRAM] especially, if I understand aright, my excellent friend over
there still persists
[Morosely.] Yes, you do understand aright, Roope. I've every
confidence in Dunning, I mean t'say
[Turning away, angrily.] Oh!
Bertram, my boy!
[The bell rings. There is a short silence, and
BERTRAM rises and pulls down his waistcoat
Here he is.
[To LADY FILSON, in a low voice.] Mother?
[To PHILIP.] Do you wish us to withdraw, Philip?
[Sitting at the writing-table.] Not at all, Lady Filson. [
Switching on the light of the library-lamp, sternly.] On the
contrary, I should like you both to remain.
[To OTTOLINE.] Otto dear?
[Adjusting a comb in her hair.] Oh, certainly, mother, I'll
[Arranging her skirt and settling herself majestically.] Of
this we may be perfectly sure; when my son finds that he has been
misled, purposely or unintentionally, he will be only too readytoo
[Leaning back in his chair and closing his eyes.] That goes
without saying, Winifred. A gentlemanan English gentleman
[Who is watching the vestibule doorover his shoulder,
snappishly.] Oh, of course, father, if it turns out that I've been
sold, I'll eat humble-pie abjectly.
[Shaking a finger at BERTRAM.] Ha, ha! I hope you've brought
a voracious appetite with you, dear excellent friend.
[To ROOPE, exasperated.] Look heah, Mr. Roope!
[The vestibule door opens and JOHN
[DUNNING enters and JOHN retires. MR.
is a spruce, middle-aged, shrewd-faced man with
affable but rather curt manner. He is in his hat and
[To BERTRAM.] Haven't kept you long, have I? I just had a cup
o' cocoa[He checks himself on seeing so large an assembly, removes
his hat, and includes everybody in a summary bow.] Evening.
[To DUNNING.] Larger gathering than you expected. [
Indicating the various personages by a glance.] Sir Randle and Lady
Filsonmy father and mother
[To SIR RANDLE and LADY FILSON.] Evening.
My sister, Madame de Chaumié
[To OTTOLINE.] Evening.
Mr. RoopeMr. Mackworth
[To them.] Evening.
[SIR RANDLE, LADY FILSON, and ROOPE,
DUNNING out of the corners of their eyes,
the introduction by a slight movement. PHILIP
unpleasantly. OTTOLINE, with a stony
eyes DUNNING askance, and gives the barest
inclination of her head on being named.
[Bringing forward the chair on which he has been sitting and
planting it nearer to SIR RANDLE and LADY FILSONto
DUNNING.] I suppose you may
[Taking off his gloves and overcoatto PHILIP.] D'ye mind if
I slip my coat off, Mr. Mackworth?
Don't want to get overheated, and catch the flue. I've got Mrs. D.
in bed with a bad cold, as it is.
[To DUNNING.] Now then, Mr. Dunning! I'll trouble you to give
us an account of your operations in this business from the outset
[Hanging his coat over the back of the chair.] Pleasure.
The business of Mr. Mackworth's new book, I mean t'say.
[Sitting and placing his hat on the floor.] Pleasure.
Middle of October, wasn't it, when I?
Later. [Producing a dog's-eared little memorandum-book and
turning its leaves with a moistened thumb.] Here we arethe
twenty-fourth. [To everybody, referring to his notes as he
proceedsglibly.] Mr. Filson called on me and Mr. Sillitoe, ladies
and gentlemen, on the twenty-fourth of last month with reference to a
book by Mr. P. MackworthThe Big Drumpublished September the
second, and drew our attention to the advertisements of Mr. Mackworth's
publisherMr. Clifford Titterton, of Charles Street, Adelphirelating
to the same. Mr. F. having made us acquainted with the special
circumstances of the case, and furnished us with his reasons for
doubting Titterton's flowery statements, [wetting his thumb again
and turning to the next leaf of his note-book] on the following
day, the twenty-fifth, I purchased a copy of the said book at Messrs.
Blake and Hodgson's in the Strand, Mr. Hodgson himself informing me in
the course of conversation that, as far as his firm was concerned, the
book wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary. [Repeating the thumb
process.] I then proceeded to pump one of the galserto
interrogate one of the assistantsat a circulating library Mrs. D.
subscribes to, with a similar result. [Turning to the next leaf.
] My next step
I wonder whether these elaborate preliminaries?
Oh, don't interrupt, father! I mean to say!
[Imperturbably.] My next step was to place the book in the
hands of a lady whose liter'y judgment is a great deal sounder than
mine or Mr. Sillitoe'sI allude to Mrs. D.and her report was
that, though amusing in parts, she didn't see anything in it to set the
Thames on fire.
[Laughing in spite of himself.] Ha, ha, ha!
Ha, ha! [To PHILIP, with mock sympathy.] Dear
[To ROOPE.] Yes, all right, Mr. Roope!
[Turning to the next leaf.] I and Mr. Sillitoe then had
another confaberconsultation with Mr. Filson, and we pointed out to
him that it was up to his father and mother to challenge Titterton's
assertions and invite proof of their accuracy.
Mr. F., however, giving us to understand that he was acting solely
on his own, and that he wished the investigation kept from his family,
we proposed a different plan
To which I reluctantly assented.
To get hold of somebody in Titterton's officeone of his employees,
male or female
[Shocked.] Oh! Oh, Bertie!
[Rising, with a gesture of disgust.] Ah!
[To BERTRAM.] Really! Really, Bertram!
[Seeing OTTOLINE rise, PHILIP also
rises and comes
That a son of mine should countenance!
[Panting.] Oh, but this isthis is outrageous! [To
SIR RANDLE and LADY FILSON.] Dadmotherwhy should we degrade
ourselves by listening any further? [To PHILIP.] Philip!
[Patting her shoulder soothingly.] Tsch, tsch, tsch!
[To LADY FILSON and SIR RANDLE.] My dear mothermy
dear fatheryou're so impatient!
[To OTTOLINE.] Tsch, tsch! Go back to the fire and toast your
I consider I was fully justified, I mean t'say
[Falteringly OTTOLINE returns to the
stands there for a few seconds, clutching the
mantel-shelf, and then subsides into the chair
the fire. PHILIP advances to the settee on
[To DUNNING.] Sorry we have checked your flow of eloquence,
Mr. Dunning, even for a moment. [Sitting.] I wouldn't miss a
syllable of it. [Airily.] Do, please, continue.
[Looking at his watch.] My dear Philip!
[To DUNNING, wearily.] Oh, come to the manwhat's his
[Turning several pages of his note-book with his wet thumb.]
Merrifield. [Passing behind DUNNING and half-seating
himself on the further end of the table on the left.] Skip
everything in between; [sarcastically] my father and mother are
dying for their dinner.
[Finding the memorandum he is searching for, and quoting from it.
] Henry Merrifieldentry clerk to Tittertonleft Titterton, after a
row, on the fifteenth of the present month
A stroke of luckMr. Merrifieldif ever there was one! I mean
[To everybody.] Having gleaned certain significant facts from
the said Henry Merrifield, ladies and gentlemen, [referring to his
notes] I paid two visits last week to the offices of Messrs.
Hopwood &Co., of 6, Carmichael Lane, Walbrook, described in fresh paint
on their door as Shipping and General Agents; and the conclusion I
arrived at was that Messrs. Hopwood &Co. were a myth and their offices
a blind, the latter consisting of a small room on the ground floor,
eight foot by twelve, and their staff of the caretakers of the
premisesMr. and Mrs. Sweasyan old woman and her husband
[To DUNNING.] If I may venture to interpose again, what on
earth have Messrs. Hopwood?
Yes, what have Messrs. Hopwood?
[Over his shoulder.] Ho! What have Messrs. Hopwood!
[To BERTRAM, pointing to DUNNING.] I am addressing
this gentleman, dear excellent friend
[To ROOPE.] I'll tell you, sir. [Incisively.] It's to
the bogus firm of Hopwood &Co. that the bulk of the volumes of Mr.
Mackworth's new book have been consigned.
[Getting off the table, eagerly.] Dunning has seen them, I
[To BERTRAM, startled.] Be silent, Bertie!
[To BERTRAM, holding her breath.] Do be quiet!
[Blankly.] Thethe bulk of the volumes?
[Staring at DUNNING.] Thethe bulk of the?
[To SIR RANDLE and ROOPE.] Yes, gentlemen, the books
are in a mouldy cellar, also rented by Messrs. Hopwood, at 6,
Carmichael Lane. There's thousands of them there, in casessome of the
cases with shipping marks on them, some marked for inland delivery.
I've inspected them this afternoonoverhauled them. Mr. Sweasy had
gone over to the Borough to see his married niece, and I managed to get
the right side of Mrs. S.
[Softly, looking from one to the other.] Curious! Curious!
[Forcing a smile.] Howhow strange!
[To LADY FILSON, a little disturbed.] Why strange,
dear Lady Filson? Shipping and other marks on the cases! These people
are forwarding agents
[Showing his teeth.] Nobody makes the least effort to
despatch the cases, though. That's singular, isn't it?
[To ROOPE.] My good sir, in the whole of our experiencemine
and Mr. Sillitoe'swe've never come across a neater bit of
hankey-pankey[to PHILIP] no offenceand if Merrifield hadn't
smelt a rat
Butbutbutthe cost of it all, my dear Mr. Dunning! I don't know
much about these thingsthe expense of manufacturing many thousands of
copies of Mr. Mackworth's new book!
[Alertly.] Quite so! Surely, if we were to be deceived, a
simpler method could have been found?
[With energy.] Besides, what has Mr. Titterton to gain by the
True! True! What has he to gain?
[Who is sitting with his hands hanging loosely, utterly
bewilderedrousing himself.] Good God, yes! What has Titterton to
gain by joining me in a blackguardly scheme tototo?
[To SIR RANDLE and ROOPE.] Well, gentlemen, in the
first place, it's plain that Titterton was too fly to risk being easily
He was prepared to prove that the books have been
manufactured and delivered, I mean t'say
And in the second place, on the question of expense, the speculation
was a tolerably safe one.
Madarme dee Showmeeay being, according to my instructions[to
LADY FILSON, after a glance in OTTOLINE's direction] no offence,
ladies[to SIR RANDLE and ROOPE] Madarme dee Showmeeay
being what is usually termed a catch, Mr. Mackworth would have been in
a position, after his marriage, to reimburse Titterton
[PHILIP starts to his feet with a cry of rage.
[Jumping up and hurrying to PHILIPpacifying him.] My dear
Philmy dear old chap
[Grasping ROOPE's arm.] Robbie!
[SIR RANDLE rises and goes to LADY FILSON.
rises as he approaches her. They gaze at each other
[To PHILIP.] Where does Titterton live?
[Pointing to the telephone.] Telephonehave him round
He's not in London.
He's gone to the Rivieraleft this morning. [Crossing to SIR
RANDLE and LADY FILSONappealingly.] Lady FilsonSir Randle
you don't believe that Titterton and I could be guilty of such an
arrant piece of knavery, do you? Ho, ho, ho! It's preposterous.
[Constrainedly.] FranklyI must be frankI hardly know
what to believe.
[Pursing her mouth.] Wewe hardly know what to
[Leaving them.] Ah!
[Who has dropped into the chair by the smoking-tableto SIR
RANDLE.] Sir Randledear excellent friendlet us meet Mr. Dunning
to-morrow at Messrs. Hopwood's in Carmichael Lanewe threeyou and I
[Pacing up and down between the table on the left and the
bookcase.] Yes, yesbefore I wire to Tittertonor see Curtis, his
[Over his shoulder, to DUNNING.] Hey, Mr. Dunning?
[While this has been going on, DUNNING has
note-book away and risen, gathering up his hat and
overcoat as he does so. BERTRAM is now
into his coat.
[Advancing a step or two.] At what hour?
[Briskly.] Ten-thirty suit you, gentlemen?
SIR RANDLE, PHILIP, and ROOPE.
[Scribbling with a pocket-pencil on his shirt-cuff.] 6,
Carmichael Lane, Walbrook
[Pulling down his under-coat.] I'll be there.
[Lowering his hands suddenly and leaning back in his chair, as if
about to administer a poser.] By the way, Mr. Dunning, you tell us
you have a strong conviction that Messrs. Hopwood &Co. are a myth, and
their offices a sham[caustically] may I ask whether you've
tried to ascertain who is the actual tenant of the room and
cellar in Carmichael Lane?
[Sniggering.] Why, Titterton, of course. I mean to say
[Waving BERTRAM down.] Dear excellent friend!
[Taking up his hat, which he has laid upon the smoking-tableto
ROOPE, with a satisfied air.] Mr. Sillitoe's got that in hand,
sir. What I have ascertained is that a young feller strolls in
occasionally and smokes a cigarette
And pokes about in the cellar
Calls himself Hopwood. But the name written on the lining of
his hat[to BERTRAM, carelessly] oh, I forgot to mention
this to you, Mr. Filson. [Producing his memorandum-book again.]
Old mother Sweasy was examining the young man's outdoor apparel the
other day. [Turning the pages with his wet thumb.] The name on
the lining of his hat is[finding the entry] is Westrip.
[To DUNNING, blinking.] Mr. Westrip is my secretary.
[To DUNNING, agape.] He's my father's secretary.
[To SIR RANDLE.] Your seckert'ry?
[Coming to the nearer end of the settee on the left.]
Thethethe fair boy I've seen in Ennismore Gardens!
[Rising and joining SIR RANDLE and LADY FILSON
expressing his amazement by flourishing his arms.] Oh, my dear
[To SIR RANDLE.] Randlewhatwhat next!
[Closing his eyes.] Astounding! Astounding!
[Looking about him, rather aggressively.] Well, I seem to
have accidentally dropped a bombshell among you! Will any lady or
gentleman kindly oblige with some particulars? [To OTTOLINE,
who checks him with an imperious gesturechanging his tone.] I beg
your pardon, madarme
[OTTOLINE has left her chair and come to the
writing-table, where, with a drawn face and downcast
eyes, she is now standing erect.
[To DUNNING, repeating her gesture.] Stop! [To
LADY FILSON and SIR RANDLE, in a strained voice.]
[Everybody looks at her, surprised at her manner.
II can't allow you all to be mystified any longer. II can clear
this matter up.
You, my darling?
[Steadying herself by resting her finger-tips upon the table.
] Thethe explanation is that Mr. Westrip[with a wan smile]
poor boyhe would jump into the sea for me if I bade himthe
explanation is that Mr. Westrip has beenhelping me
[Inclining her head.] Helping me. Hehe[Raising her
eyes defiantly and confronting them all.] Écoutez! Robbie
Roope has asked who is the actual tenant of the cellar and room in
Carmichael Lane. [Breathing deeply.] I am.
[Advancing a few steps.] You are! N-n-nonsense!
Mr. Westrip took the place for memy arrangement with Titterton
made it necessary
With Titterton! Then hehe has?
Yes. The thousands of copiespacked in the cases with the lying
labelsI have bought themthey're mine
II was afraid the book had failedand I went to Tittertonand
bargained with him
Soso everythingeverything that your brother and Mr.Mr. Dunning
Everything, motherexcept that I am the culprit, and Mr. Mackworth
is the victim.
[Passing her hand over her brow.] Itit's horrible of me to
give Titterton awaybutwhat can I do?[She turns her back upon
them sharply and, leaning against the table, searches for her
handkerchief.] Oh! Need Mr. Dunning stay?
[BERTRAM, aghast, nudges DUNNING and
hurries to the
vestibule door. DUNNING follows him into the
on tiptoe. Slowly and deliberately PHILIP
moves to the
middle of the room and stands there with his hands
clenched, glaring into space. SIR RANDLE, his
falling, sits in the chair on the extreme left.
[Touching PHILIP's arm sympathetically.] Oh, Philip!
[To BERTRAM, in a whisper.] Phiou! Rummy development
this, Mr. Filson!
[To DUNNING, in the same way.] Awful. [Opening the
outer door.] II'll see you in the m-m-morning.
Pleasure. [Raising his voice.] Evening, ladies and gentlemen.
[Again sitting on the settee on the left, also searching for her
handkerchief.] G-g-good night.
[Weakly.] Good night.
[Who has wandered to the bookcase like a man in a trance.]
[DUNNING disappears, and BERTRAM closes the
door and comes back into the room. Shutting the
vestibule door, he sinks into the chair lately
by DUNNING. There is a silence, broken at
length by a
low, grating laugh from PHILIP.
Ha, ha, ha, ha! Ha, ha, ha!
[Dolefully.] Oh, OttolineOttoline!
Ha, ha, ha!
[Creeping to the nearer end of the writing-table.] H'ssh!
[Loudly.] Ho, ho, ho!
Don't! don't! [Making a movement of entreaty towards him.]
[His laughter ceases abruptly and he looks her
[After a moment's pause, bitingly.] Thank youthank you[
turning from her and seating himself in the chair by the smoking-table
and resting his chin on his fist] thank you.
[Again there is a pause, and then OTTOLINE
herself up proudly and moves in a stately fashion
towards the vestibule door.
[At BERTRAM's side.] Bertrammy cloak
[BERTRAM rises meekly and fetches her cloak.
[Getting to his feet and approaching PHILIPmournfully.]
Your mother's wrap, also, Bertram.
[Rising.] Yes, let us all go home.
[To PHILIP, laying a hand on his shoulder.] My
daughter has brought great humiliation upon usupon her family, my
dear Philipby thisI must be harshby this unladylike
I have never felt so ashamed in my life!
[To PHILIP.] By-and-by I shall be better able to command
language in which to express my profound regret. [Offering his hand.
] For the presentgood night, and God bless you!
[Shaking SIR RANDLE's hand mechanically.] Good night.
[As SIR RANDLE turns away, LADY FILSON
PHILIP. BERTRAM, having helped OTTOLINE
cloak, now brings LADY FILSON's wrap from the
vestibule. SIR RANDLE takes it from him, and
then returns to the vestibule and puts on his
[To PHILIP, who rises.] You must have us to dinner
another time, Philip. If I eat a crust to-night it will be as much as I
shall manage. [Speaking lower, with genuine feeling.] Oh, my
dear boy, don't be too cast downover your clever book, I mean! [
Taking him by the shoulders.] It's a cruel disappointment for
youand you don't deserve it. May I? [She pulls him to her and
kisses him.] Good night.
[Gratefully.] Good night.
[LADY FILSON leaves PHILIP and looks about
wrap. SIR RANDLE puts her into it and then
the vestibule and wrestles with his overcoat.
[Coming to PHILIP, humbly.] MMMackworthII
[Kindly.] No, no; don't you bother, old man
II could kick myself, Mackworth, I could indeed. I've been a sneak
and a cad, I mean t'say, andand I'm properly paid out
[Shaking him gently.] Why, what are you remorseful for?
You've only brought out the truth, Bertie
Yes, but I mean to say!
And I mean to say that I'm in your debt for showing me that
I've been a vain, credulous ass. Now be off and get some food. [
Holding out his hand.] Good night.
[Wringing PHILIP's hand.] Good night, Mackworth. [Turning
from PHILIP and seeing ROOPE, who, anxiously following
events, is standing by the chair on the extreme left.] Good night,
[Half in the room and half in the vestibuleto ROOPE,
remembering his existence.] Oh, good night, Mr. Roope!
Good night, dear Lady Filson.
[In the vestibule.] Good night, Mr. Roope.
Good night. Good night, dear excellent friends.
[To OTTOLINE, who is lingering by the big doors.]
[LADY FILSON and BERTRAM join SIR
RANDLE in the
vestibule and SIR RANDLE opens the outer
PHILIP, his hands behind him and his chin on his
breast, has walked to the fireplace and is standing
there looking fixedly into the fire. OTTOLINE
comes forward and fingers the back of the chair by
Good night, Philip.
[He turns to her, makes her a stiff, formal bow,
faces the fire again.
[Advancing to herunder his breath.] Oh!
[Giving him her hand.] Ah! [With a plaintive shrug.]
Vous voyez! C'est fini après tout!
[Withdrawing her hand.] Pst! [Throwing her head up.]
Good night, Robbie.
[With a queenly air she sweeps into the vestibule
follows SIR RANDLE and LADY FILSON out
on to the
landing. BERTRAM closes the vestibule door,
immediately afterwards the outer door slams.
[To PHILIP, in an agony.] No, no, Phil! It mustn't end
like this! Good lord, man, reflectconsider what you're chucking away!
You're madabsolutely mad! [PHILIP calmly presses a bell-push at
the side of the fireplace.] I'll go after 'emand talk to her.
I'll talk to her. [Running to the vestibule door and opening it.
] Don't wait for me. [Going into the vestibule and grabbing his hat
and overcoat.] It's a tiffa lovers' tiff! It's nothing but a
lovers' tiff! [Shutting the vestibule door, piteously.] Oh, my
dear excellent friend!
[JOHN appears, opening one of the big doors a
way. Again the outer door slams.
[To JOHN, sternly.] Dinner.
[Looking for the guestsdumbfoundered] D-d-dinner, sir?
[His eyes bolting.] Thethethe ladies and gentlemen have
Yes. I'm dining alone.
[JOHN vanishes precipitately; whereupon PHILIP
strides to the big doors, thrusts them wide open
blow of his fists, and sits at the dining-table.
END OF THE THIRD ACT
THE FOURTH ACT
The scene is the same, the light that of a fine winter morning.
The big doors are open, and from the dining-room windows, where the
curtains are now drawn back, there is a view of some buildings opposite
and, through a space between the buildings, of the tops of the bare
trees in Gray's Inn garden.
Save for a chair with a crumpled napkin upon it which stands at
the dining-table before the remains of PHILIP's breakfast, the
disposition of the furniture is as when first shown.
A fire is burning in the nearer room.
[PHILIP, dressed as at the opening of the
act, is seated on the settee on the right, moodily
puffing at his pipe. ROOPE faces him, in the
the smoking-table, with a mournful air. ROOPE
his overcoat and is nursing his hat.
[To ROOPE, shortly, as if continuing a conversation.]
Well, what happened was this. I
[He breaks off to glance over his shoulder into
Go on. Nobody'll hear you. John's out.
What happened was this. I overtook 'em at the bottom of the stairs,
and begged 'em to let me go back with them to Ennismore Gardens. Lady
Filson and I got into one cab, Sir Randle and Madame de Chaumié into
another. Bertram Filson slunk off to his club. At Ennismore Gardens we
had the most depressin' meal I've ever sat down to, and then Madame
Ottoline proposed that I should smoke a cigarette in her boudoir. [
Distressed.] Oh, my dear Phil!
I can't bear to see a woman in tears; I can't, positively.
[Between his teeth.] Confound you, Robbie, who can! Don't
brag about it.
At first she swept up and down the room like an outraged Empress.
Her skirts created quite a wind. I won't attempt to tell you all the
bitter things she said
And of me, dear excellent friend.
[Grimly.] For your share in the business.
[With a nod.] The fatal luncheon in South Audley Street.
However, she soon softened, and came and knelt by the fire. And
suddenlyyou've seen a child fall on the pavement and cut its knees,
haven't you, Phil?
Of course I have.
That's how she cried. I was really alarmed.
Thethe end of it being?
[Dismally.] The end of it being that she went off to bed,
declaring that she recognizes that the breach between you is beyond
healing, and that she's resolved never to cross your path again if she
can avoid it.
[Laying his pipe aside.] Ha! [Scowling at ROOPE.] And
so this is the result of your self-appointed mission, is it?
[Hurt.] That's rather ungrateful, Phil
[Starting up and walking away to the left.] P'sha!
If you'd heard how I reasoned with her!
[Striding up and down.] What had I better do? It's good of
you to be here so early. [ROOPE rises.] I'm not
ungrateful, Robbie. Advise me.
[Stiffly.] I assume, from your tone, that what you wish
to do is toer?
To abase myself before her; to grovel at her feet and crave her
pardon for my behaviour of last night. What else should I want to do,
in God's name!
[Dryly.] I see, you've slept on it.
Laid awake on it. [Fiercely.] Do I look as if I'd slept the
sleep of a healthy infant?
I don't know anything about infants, I am happy to say, healthy or
ailing; but certainly your treatment of Madame de Chaumié was
Brutal, savage, inhuman! [Halting and extending his arms.]
And what's been her fault? She's dared to love me eagerly, impetuously,
uncontrollablyme, a conceited, egotistical fellow who is no
more worth her devotion than the pompous beast who opens her father's
front-door! And because, out of her love, she commits a heedless,
impulsive act which deals a blow at my rotten pride, I slap her face
and turn my back upon her, and suffer her to leave my rooms as though
she's a charwoman detected in prigging silver from my cash-box! [
Clasping his brow and groaning.] Oh! [In sudden fury at seeing
ROOPE thoughtfully examining his hat.] Damn it, Robbie, stop
fiddling with your hat or you'll drive me crazy!
[He sits on the settee on the left and rests his
on his fists. ROOPE hastily deposits his hat
[Approaching PHILIP coldly.] I was considering, dear
excellent friendbut perhaps in your present state of irritability
[Holding out his hand penitently.] Shut up!
[Presenting PHILIP with two fingers.] I was
consideringwhen you almost sprang at my throatI was considering
that it isn't at all unlikely that Madame de Chaumié's frame of mind is
a trifle less inflexible this morning. She has sleptor laid
awakeon the events of last night too, recollect.
[Raising his head.] Having been kicked out of this place a
few hours ago, her affection for me revives with the rattle of the
[Evasively.] At any rate, she must be conscious that you were
smarting under provocation. She confessed as much during our talk. [
Magnanimously.] Even I admit you had provocation.
That never influenced a woman, Robbie. Besides, I've insulted
this one beforegrossly insulted her, in the old days in Paris
Ancient history! My advice issince you invite itmy advice
is that you write her a letter
I've composed half-a-dozen already. [Pointing to a waste-paper
basket by the writing-table.] The pieces are in that basket.
No, no; not a highly-wrought performance. Simply a line, asking her
to receive you. [PHILIP rises listlessly.] Send it along by
messenger. [With growing enthusiasm.] Look here! I'll take it!
[Gloomily, his hand on Roope's shoulder.] Ho, ho! Youyou
indefatigable old Cupid!
[Looking at his watch.] Quarter-past-ten. [Excitedly.]
Phil, I bet you a hundred guineas[correcting himself]
erwellfive poundsI bet you five pounds I'm with you again, with a
favourable reply, before twelve!
[Clapping ROOPE on the back.] Done! [Crossing to
the writing-table.] At the worst, I've earned a fiver.
[As PHILIP sits at the table and takes a sheet of paper
and an envelope from a drawer.] May I suggest?
[Dipping his pen in the ink.] Fire away, old chap.
[Seeking for inspiration by gazing at the ceiling.] H'm[
Dictating.] Forgive me. I forgive you. When may I come to you? [
To PHILIP.] Not another word.
[As he writes.] By George, you've got the romantic touch,
Robbie! If you'd been a literary bloke, what sellers you'd have
[Behind the smoking-table, smoothing his hair complacently.]
Funny, your remark. As a matter of fact, I used to dabble a
little in pen-and-ink as a young man.
[Reading, a tender ring in his voice.] Forgive me. I forgive
you. When may I come to you? [Adding his signature.] Philip.
[Folding and enclosing the notecatching some of ROOPE's
hopefulness.] In the meantime I'll array myself in my Sunday-best[
moistening the envelope] on the chance
Do; at once. [Putting on his hat.] She may summon you
[Addressing the envelope.] She gave me a scarf-pin
yesterdaysuch a beauty. [Softly.] I'll wear it. [Rising and
giving the note to ROOPE.] Bless you, old boy!
[ROOPE pockets the note, grasps PHILIP's hand
hurriedly, and bustles to the vestibule door.
My quickest way is the Tube to Bayswater, and then a taxi across the
[He has entered the vestibuleomitting to close
door in his hasteand has opened the outer door
PHILIP calls to him.
[Standing behind the smoking-tablewith a change of manner.]
Robbie[ROOPE returns to PHILIP reluctantly, leaving the
outer door open.] Oh, Robbie[gripping ROOPE's arm]
how I boasted to you of my triumphmy grand victory! How I swaggered
and bellowed, and crowed over you!
[Fidgeting to get away.] Yes, but we won't discuss that now,
[Detaining him.] Wait. [Brokenly.] Robbieshould
Ottoline show any inclination toto patch matters up, you may tell
heras from methat II've done with it.
[Wonderingly.] Done with it?
My career as a writing-man. It's finished. [Hanging his head.
] I'm sorry to break faith with her people; but she may take me, if she
will, on her own termsa poor devil who has proved a duffer at his
job, and who is content henceforth to be nothing but her humble slave
[Energetically.] My dear Phil, for heaven's sake, don't
entertain such a notion! Abandon your career just when you're making a
noise in the world!
[Throwing up his hands.] Noise in the world!
When you're getting the finest advertisement an author could
I can sympathize with your feeling mortified at not scoring entirely
off your own bat; but, deuce take it, your book is in its
[Laughing wildly.] Ho, ho, ho! [Moving to the fireplace.
] Ha, ha, ha, ha!
[Testily.] Oh, I'm glad I amuse you!
[Coming to the settee on the right.] You're marvellous,
[Again preparing to depart.] Indeed?
Ha, ha, ha!
[A moment earlier, SIR TIMOTHY BARRADELL
in the vestibule, trying, in the dim light there, to
decipher the name on the outer door. Hearing the
of voices, he turns and reveals himself.
[Looking into the room and encountering ROOPE.] Roope!
[As they shake handsastonished.] Dear excellent friend, what a surprise!
Ah, don't flatter yourself you're the only early riser in London! [
Seeing PHILIP.] Mr. Mackworth[advancing] I found your door
open and I took the liberty
[Meeting him in the middle of the room.] Sir Timothy
Barradell, isn't it?
It is. [They shake hands, cordially on SIR TIMOTHY's part,
with more formality on PHILIP's.] It's an unceremonious hour for a
call, but if you'd spare me five minutes
[Civilly.] Pray sit down. [Joining ROOPE at the
entrance to the vestibule.] Robbie has to run away
[Diplomatically.] Can't stay another moment. [Waving a
hand to SIR TIMOTHY.] Au revoir, dear Sir Timothy!
[Laying his hat upon the settee on the right and taking off his
gloves.] So long! [PHILIP and ROOPE stare at SIR
TIMOTHY, whose back is towards them. ROOPE gives PHILIP
an inquiring look, which PHILIP answers by a shrug and a shake
of the head; and then PHILIP lets ROOPE out and comes
back into the room. SIR TIMOTHY turns to him.] I'm afraid
you think I'm presuming on a very slight acquaintance, Mr.
[Shutting the vestibule door.] Not in the least.
Anyhow I'll not waste more of your valuable time than I can help.
[PHILIP points to the settee and the two men sit, Sir Timothy on the
settee, PHILIP in the chair by the smoking-table. SIR
TIMOTHY inspects the toes of his boots.] Mr. Mackworth, II
won't beat about the bushit's a delicate subject I'm approaching you
[Leaning back in his chair.] Really?
An extremely delicate subject[raising his eyes] Madame de
Madame de Chaumié?
In the first place, I suppose you're aware that I had the temerity
to propose marriage to the lady in the summer of this year?
Yes, I'm aware of it. Madame de Chaumié informed me of the
[Nodding.] She would; she would. [Straightening himself.
] Well, Mr. Mackworth, while I was abroad I heard from various sources
that you had become a pretty regular visitor at the house of her
parents, and that you and she were to be seen together occasionally in
the secluded spots of Kensington Gardens; and I naturally inferred that
it was yourself she'd had the good taste to single out from among her
[With a smile.] I'd rather you didn't put it in that way, Sir
Timothy; but I guessed yesterday that the facts of the case had reached
you through some channel or other.
When Robbie Roope brought me your kind greetings.
Ah, that's nice of you! [Constrainedly.] That'snice of you.
[Changing his position and unbending.] But tell me! I don't
know yet what you have to say to me about Madame de Chaumiébut why
should you find it embarrassing to speak of her to me? [Gently.]
We're men of the world, you and I; and it isn't the rule of life that
the prize always goes to the most deserving. [With animation.]
And in the world, as in the school,
I'd say, how fate may change and shift;
The prize be sometimes with the fool,
The race not always to the swift.
The strong may yield, the good may fall,
The great man be a vulgar clown,
The knave be lifted over all,
The kind cast pitilessly down.
So sang one of the noblest gentlemen who have ever followed my
[There is a brief silence, and then SIR
abruptly and walks to the fireplace. PHILIP
after him, perplexed.
[Facing the fire.] Mr. Mackworth
I saw Bertram Filson last nighther brother.
[Pricking up his ears.] You did? Where?
At the clubthe Junior Somerset. He came in late, looking a bit out
of gear, and ate a mouthful of dinner and drank a whole bottle of
Pommery; and afterwards he joined me in the smoking-room andand was
I didn't encourage him to babble[turning] 'twas he that
insisted on confiding to me what had occurred
That you and Madame de Chaumié had had a serious difference, and
that there's small prospect of its being bridged over.
[Glaring.] Oh, he confided that to you, did he, Sir
[Rising and pacing up and down on the left.] And what the
devil does Filson mean by gossiping about me at a clubme and my
relations with Madame de Chaumié!
[Advancing a little.] Ah, don't be angry! The champagne he'd
drunk had loosened his tongue. And then, I'm a friend of the family
Referring to Filson?
[Mildly.] Well, whether young Filson's a puppy or not, now
perhaps you begin to appreciate my motive for intruding on you?
You don't! [Rumpling his hair.] I'll try to make it plainer
to you. [Behind the smoking-table.] Erwill I smoke one of your
[Frigidly polite.] Please.
[Taking a cigarette from the box on the table.] Mr.
Mackworth, if Filson's prognostications as to the result of the quarrel
between you and his sister are fulfilled, it's my intention, after a
decent interval, to renew my appeal to her to marry me. [Striking a
match.] Is that clear?
Perfectly. [Stiffly.] But all the same, I'm still at a
[Lighting his cigarette.] At a loss, are you! [Warmly.
] You're at a loss to understand that I'm not the sort of man who'd
steal a march upon another where a woman's concerned, and take
advantage of his misfortunes in a dirty manner! [Coming to
PHILIP.] MackworthI'll drop the Mister, if you've no
objectionMackworth, I promise you I won't move a step till I have
your assurance that your split with Madame de Chaumié is a mortal one,
and that the coast is open to all comers. That's my part o' the
bargain, and I expect you on your side to treat me with equal fairness
and frankness. [Offering his hand.] You will?
My dear Sir Timothymy dear Barradell[shaking SIR
TIMOTHY's hand heartily.] you're the most chivalrous fellow I've
[Walking away.] Ah, go on now!
[Following him.] I apologize sincerely for being so curt.
Don't mention it.
It's true, Ottoline and I have had a bad fall out. [
Keenly.] Did Filson give you any particulars?
I gathered 'twas something arising out of a book of yours
Y-y-yes; a silly affair in which I was utterly in the wrong. I lost
my accursed tempermade a disgraceful exhibition of myself. [
Touching SIR TIMOTHY's arm.] I will be quite straight
with you, BarradellRobbie Roope has just gone to her with a note from
me. I don't want to pain you; but Robbie and I hope that, after a
night's rest[The bell rings in the vestibule.] Excuse memy
servant isn't in. [He goes into the vestibule, leaving the door
open. SIR TIMOTHY picks up his hat. On opening the outer door,
PHILIP confronts OTTOLINE.] Otto!
[In the doorway, giving him both her hands.] Are you alone,
[Drawing her into the vestibule, his eyes sparkling.] No. [
With a motion of his head.] Sir Timothy Barradell
[OTTOLINE passes PHILIP and enters the
out her hand to SIR TIMOTHY. Her eyes are
from sleeplessness; but whatever asperity she has
displayed overnight has disappeared, and she is
full of softness and charm.
[Shutting the outer doorbreathing freely.] Kind of Sir
Timothy to look me up, isn't it?
[To SIR TIMOTHY.] Vous êtes un vaurien! When did you
[Who has flung his cigarette into the gratecrestfallen.]
The day before yesterday.
Then I mustn't scold you for not having been to see us yet. [
Wonderingly.] You find time to call on Mr. Mackworth, though!
[With a gulp.] II was on my way to my solicitors, who are
in Raymond Buildings, and I remembered that I knew Mackworth years
[Loitering near the vestibule door, impatient for SIR
TIMOTHY's departure.] When I was a rollicking man-about-town,
[Retaining OTTOLINE's handto her, earnestly.] My
dear Madame de Chaumié
[Bracing himself.] A little bird brought the news to me
shortly after I left England. [She lowers her eyes.] II
congratulate you and MackworthI congratulate you from the core of my
[In a quiet voice.] Thank you, dear Sir Timothy.
May you both be as happy as you deserve to be, and even happier!
[Laughing.] Ha, ha, ha!
[Squeezing her hand.] Good-bye for the present.
[Smilingly.] Good-bye. [He passes her and joins
PHILIP. Unseen by OTTOLINEwho proceeds to loosen her coat at
the settee on the right PHILIP again gives SIR TIMOTHY a
vigorous hand-shake. SIR TIMOTHY responds to it disconsolately,
and is following PHILIP into the vestibule when he hears
OTTOLINE call to him.] Sir Tim!
[Lightly.] Is your car here?
[Brightening.] It is.
You may give me a lift to Bond Street, if your business with your
lawyers won't keep you long.
[Emphatically.] It will not. [Beaming.] I told
you a lie. I've no business with my lawyers. I came here
expressly to improve my acquaintance with the man who's to be your
husband, and for no other purpose.
[They all laugh merrily.
Ha, ha, ha! [To SIR TIMOTHY.] Wait for me in South Square,
then. I sha'n't be many minutes.
[Going into the vestibule.] Ah, I'd wait an eternity!
[PHILIP and SIR TIMOTHY shake hands once
then PHILIP lets SIR TIMOTHY out.
[As he shuts the outer door.] By George, he's a splendid
chap! [He comes back into the room, closes the vestibule door, and
advances to OTTOLINE and stands before her humbly.] Oh,
Ottolineoh, my dear girl! Shall I go down on my knees to you?
[In a subdued tone.] If you do, I shall have to kneel to
[Slowly folding her in his arms.] Ah! Ah! Ah! [In her ear.
] What a night I've spent!
[Almost inaudibly.] And I!
[He seats her upon the settee on the right and
beside her, linking his hand in hers.
How merciful this is of you! I've just sent you a letter by Robbie
Roope, begging you to see me; you've missed him. [Smiling.] It
isn't as eloquent as some I started writing at five o'clock this
morning. Would you like to hear it? [She nods. He recites his note
tenderly.] Forgive me. I forgive you. When may I come to you?
Isn't that eloquent, Phil?
[Smiling again.] It's conciseand as long as you forgive
me[eyeing her with a shadow of fear] you're sure you've
[Persistently.] Without reserve?
Should I be here[indicating their proximity] and here
if I hadn't?
[Pressing her hand to his lips ardently, and then freeing her
shoulders from her coat.] Take this off
[Gently resisting.] Poor Sir Timothy!
[In high spirits.] Oh, a little exercise won't do Sir Timothy
any harm! [Helping her to slip her arms out of her coat.] Dash
it, you might have let me escort you to Bond Street!
No, no; your work
[His brow clouding.] W-w-work?
You mustn't lose your morning's work.
[There is a short pause, and then he rises and
few steps away from her. With an impassive
she fingers the buttons of her gloves.
[Stroking the pattern of the carpet with his foot.] Otto
[Looking up.] Yes, Phil?
I asked Robbie to tell you, if he had the opportunity, that I've
decided to make my farewell salaam to authorship. I'm no good at it;
I'm a frost; I realize it at last. I've had my final whack on the jaw;
I've foughthow many rounds?and now I take the count and slink out
of the ring, beat. [Producing his keys, he goes to the cabinet on
the right, unlocks it, and selects from several cardboard portfolios
one which he carries to the writing-table. While he is doing this,
OTTOLINEstill with an expressionless facerises and moves to the
left, where she stands watching him. He opens the portfolio and, with a
pained look, handles the sheets of manuscript in it.] Ha! You and I
have often talked over this, haven't we, Otto?
[Taking the manuscript from the portfoliothoughtfully.] It
was to have beenoh, such an advance on my previous stuffkindlier,
less strenuous, more urbane! Successsuccess!had sweetened the gall
in me! [Glancing at a partly covered page.] Here's where I broke
off yesterday. [With a shrug.] In every man's life there's a
chapter uncompleted, in one form or another! [Throwing the
manuscript into the portfolio.] Pst! Get back to your hole; I'll
burn you later on. [He rejoins her. She half turns from him,
averting her head.] So end my pitiful strivings and ambitions! [
Laying his hand on her shoulder.] Ah, it's a miserable match you're
making, Ottoline! My two-hundred-a-year will rig me out suitably, and
provide me with tobacco; and the dribblets coming to me from my old
booksthrough the honest publishers I deserted for Mr. Titterton!the
dribblets coming from my old books will enable me to present you with a
nosegay on the anniversaries of our wedding-day, andby the time your
hair's whiteto refund you the money Titterton's had from you. And
therewith a little fame unjustly won, which, thank God, 'll soon
die!there you have the sum of my possessions! [Seizing her arms
and twisting her round.] Oh, but I'll be your mate, my dearyour
loyal companion and protectorcomrade and lover!
[He is about to embrace her again, but she keeps
off by placing her hands against his breast.
[Steeling herself.] Phil
I arrived at a decision during the night too, Phil.
Don'tdon't loathe me. [Shaking her head gravely.] I am not
going to marry you.
[Staring at her.] You're not going tomarry me?
[After another pause.] Youyou're overwrought, Otto; you've
had no sleep. Neither of us has had any sleep
Oh, but I'm quite clearheaded
[Bewildered.] Why, just now you said you'd forgiven
I do repeat it. If I've anything to forgive, I forgive you a
And you allowed me toto take you in my arms
You shall take me in your arms again, Phil, once more, before we
part, if you wish to. I'm not a girl, though you call me one
[Sternly.] Look here! You don't imagine for an instant that I
shall accept this! You!
Ssh! Try not to be hasty; try to be reasonable. Listen to me
Youyou mean me to understand that, in consequence of this wretched
Titterton affair, you've changed your mind, and intend to chuck me!
Yes, I mean you to understand that.
[Turning from her indignantly.] Oh!
[Sitting in the chair by the smoking-table.]
PhilipPhilip[He hesitates, then seats himself on the settee
opposite to her. She speaks with great firmness and deliberation.]
Philip, while you were lying awake last night, or walking about your
room, didn't youthink?
No, nosoberly, steadily, searchingly. Evidently not, cher ami! [Bending forward.] Phil, after what has happened, can't you see
me as I really am?
An incurably vulgar woman. An incurably common, vulgar woman. Nobody
but a woman whose vulgarity is past praying for could have conceived
such a scheme as I planned and carried out with that man Clifford
Tittertonnobody. Thishow shall I term it?this refinement of mine
is merely on the surface. We women are like thewhat's the name of the
little reptile?the chameleon, isn't it? We catch the colour of our
surroundings. But what we were, we continue to bein the grain. The
vulgar-minded Ottoline Filson, who captivated, and disgusted, you in
Paris is before you at this moment. The only difference is that then
she was a natural person, and now she plays les grands rôles. [
Sitting upright and pressing her temples.] Oh, I have fooled myself
as well as you, Phildeluded myself!
You're dog-tired, Otto. Your brain's in a fever. All you've done,
you've done from your love for me, my dearyour deep, passionate
[Wincing.] Passionate loveparfaitement! [Looking
at him.] But that feeling's over, Phil.
[Simply.] I shall always love youalwaysalways; but
my passion exhausted itself last night. For months it has borne me
along on a wave. It was that that swept me to the door of Titterton's
office in Charles Street, Adelphi; it was strong enough to drive me to
any length. But last night, in those dreadful small hours, the wave
beat itself out, and threw me up on to the rocks, and left me
shiveringnakedashamed[drawing a deep breath] ah, but in my
[She unbuttons her left-hand glove, rolls the hand
the glove over her wrist, and takes her
from her finger.
[Aghast.] Otto! Otto! What are you doing! What are you doing!
[She lays the ring carefully upon the smoking-table and rises and
walks away. He rises with her, following her.] To-morrowwhen
you've had some sleepto-morrow
Never. Don't deceive yourself, Philip. [Going to the fireplace.
] If anything was needed to strengthen my resolution, the announcement
you've just made would supply it.
[On the left.] Announcement?
With regard to your literary work. [Turning to him.] Ne
voyez-vous pas! I have begun to degrade you already!
[Consciously.] Degrade me?
Degrade you. If I hadn't come into your life again, you would have
accepted your reverseyour failure to gain popularity by your latest
bookas you've accepted similar disappointmentswith a shrug and a
confident snap of your fingers. [Advancing.] But I've humbled
youbruised your spiritshaken your courage; and now you express your
willingnessyou!to throw your pen aside, and tack yourself to
my skirts, and to figure meekly for the rest of your existence as Mrs.
Mackworth's husband! [At the nearer end of the writing-table.]
Mon Dieu! This is what I have brought you to!
[Biting his lip.] Youyou wouldn't have me profit by the
advertisement I've got out of The Big Drum, Ottoline[ironically
] the finest advertisement I could wish for, according to Robbie! You
wouldn't have me sink as low as that?
You can write under an aliasa nom de plumeuntil you've
won your proper place
[Uneasily.] Oh, wellperhapsby-and-bywhen we had settled
down, you and Iand things had adjusted themselves
Yes, when you'd grown sick and weary of your new environment, and
had had time to reflect on the horrid trick I'd employed to get hold of
you, and had learned to despise me for it, you'd creep back to your
desk and make an effort to pick up the broken threads! [Coming to
the settee on the right.] Eh bien! Do you know what would
happen then, Phil?
[Intensely.] I should puff you, under the
rosequietly pull the stringsuse all the influence I could rake
I should. It's in my blood. I couldn't resist it. Whether you wrote
as Jones, or Smith, or Robinson, you'd find Jones, Smith, or Robinson
artfully puffed and paragraphed and thrust under people's noses in the
papers. I'm an incurably vulgar woman, I tell you! [Snatching at her
coatharshly.] Ah, que je me connais; que je me connais!
[She fumbles for the arm-holes of her coat. He
her quickly and they stand holding the coat between
and looking at each other.
[After a silence.] Youyou're determined?
Youyou can't be!
I amI swear I am.
[After a further silence.] Then it isas you said
What did I say last night? I forget.
[In a husky voice.] C'est finiaprès tout!
[Inclining her head.] C'est finiaprès tout.
[Bitterly.] Ho! Ho, ho, ho! [Another pause.] So
whenwhen April comeswewe sha'n't!
[Lowering her eyesall gentleness again.] We sha'n't walk
under the trees in the Champs-Elysées, Phil
Nor in the Allée de Longchampwhere we
No, nor in the Allée de Longchamp.
[Releasing her coat and thrusting his hands into his
trouser-pockets.] Somebody else'll gulp the milk at the Café
And at the Pré-Catalan
And there'll be no one to gaze sentimentally at my old windows in
the Rue Soufflot
[Softly.] Quarante-trois bis. [Sighing.] No
[With a hollow laugh.] Ha, ha, ha! C'est finiaprès tout!
[Firmly.] C'est finiaprès tout. [She holds out
her coat to him and he helps her into it. Suddenly, while her back is
turned to him, he utters a guttural cry and grips her shoulders
savagely. She turns in surprise, her hand to her shoulder.] Oh,
[Pointing at her.] I see! I see! I see the end of it! You'll
marry Barradell! You'll marry the fellow who's cooling his heels down
below in South Square!
[Placidly, fastening her coat.] I may.
I may, if I marry at alland he bothers any more about me.
[Stamping up and down.] Bacon Barradell! Bacon Barradell! The
wife of Bacon Barradell!
[With a sad smile.] He has social aims; a vulgar, pushing
woman would be a serviceable partner for Sir Tim.
Oh! Oh! [Dropping on to the settee on the left and burying his
face in his hands.] Ho, well, more power to him! He can sell his
bacon; II can't sell my books!
[Again there is a silence, and then, putting on
left-hand glove, she goes to PHILIP and
Mon pauvre Philippe, it's you, not I, who will take another
view of things to-morrow. [He makes a gesture of dissent.] Ah,
come, come, come! You have never loved me as I have loved you.
Unconsciouslywithout perceiving itone may be half a poseuse;
but at least I've been sincere in my love for you, and in hungering to
be your wife. [Giving him her right hand.] You're the best I've
ever known, dear; by far the best I've ever known. [He presses her
hand to his brow convulsively.] But when we had our talk in South
Audley Street, how did you serve me? You insisted on my
waitingwaiting; I who had cherished your image in my mind for years!
You guessed I shouldn't have patienceyou almost prophesied as much;
but stillI was to wait!
[Inarticulately.] Oh, Otto!
[Withdrawing her hand.] What did that show, Phil? It
showedas your compromise with mother and Dad showed afterwardsthat
the success of the book you were engaged upon came first with you; that
marrying me was to be only an incident in your career; that you didn't
love me sufficiently to bend your pride or vary your programme a jot. [
He gets to his feet, startled, dumbfoundered. He attempts to speak, but
she checks him.] H'sh! H'sh! I'm scolding you; but, for your sake,
I wouldn't have it otherwise. Now that I'm sane and cool, I wouldn't
have it otherwise.
[Struggling for wordsthickly.] OttolineOttoline[his
voice dying away] I!
[Taking his hands in hers.] Good-bye. Don't come downstairs
with me. Let me leave you sitting at your table, at workat work on
that incomplete chapter. We shall tumble up against one another, I dare
say, at odd times, but this is the last we shall see of each other
dans l'intimité; and I want to print on my memory the sight of
you[pointing to the writing-table] therekeeping your flag
flying. [Putting her arms round himin a whisper.] Keep your
flag flying, Philip! Don'tdon't sulk with your art, and be false to
yourself, because a trumpery woman has fretted and disturbed you. Keep
your flag flying[kissing him] mymy dear hero!
[She untwines her arms and steps back. Slowly,
hands hanging loosely, and his chin upon his breast,
PHILIP passes her and goes to the writing-table.
dully and mechanically, he takes the unfinished page
manuscript from the portfolio, arranges it upon the
blotting-pad and, seating himself at the table,
his pen. Very softly OTTOLINE opens the
door, gives PHILIP a last look over her
enters the vestibule, closing the door behind her.
is a pause, during which PHILIP sits staring
inkstand, and then the outer door slams. With an
exclamation, PHILIP drops his pen, leaps up,
rushes to the vestibule door.
Otto! Otto! [Loudly.] Ottoline!
[With his hand on the door-handle, he wavers, his
shifting wildly to and from the writing-table. Then,
with a mighty effort, he pulls himself together,
to the smoking-table, and loads and lights his pipe.
Puffing at his pipe fiercely, he reseats himself
his manuscript and, grabbing his pen, forces himself
write. He has written a word or two when he
faltersstopsand lays his head upon his arm on
[His shoulders heaving.] Oh, OttoOtto!
Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON &CO. LTD. At the Ballantyne
Press LONDON AND EDINBURGH