Infomotions, Inc.Plays : First Series / Galsworthy, John, 1867-1933



Author: Galsworthy, John, 1867-1933
Title: Plays : First Series
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): barthwick; gwyn; enid; miss beech; scantlebury; anthony; jones; beech; peachey; lever; roberts; dick; colonel; madge; marlow; edgar; molly; jack; magistrate; joy; harness; wilder; uncle tom; miss; thomas; rous; bald constable
Contributor(s): Moses, Montrose J. (Montrose Jonas), 1878-1934 [Editor]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 60,584 words (short) Grade range: 4-6 (grade school) Readability score: 79 (easy)
Identifier: etext5055
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Project Gutenberg's The First Series Plays, Complete, by John Galsworthy

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Title: The First Series Plays, Complete

Author: John Galsworthy

Release Date: October 27, 2006 [EBook #5055]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE FIRST SERIES PLAYS, COMPLETE ***




Produced by David Widger




FIRST SERIES PLAYS

By John Galsworthy


Contents:

     THE SILVER BOX
     JOY
     STRIFE



THE SILVER BOX

A COMEDY IN THREE ACTS



PERSONS OF THE PLAY

JOHN BARTHWICK, M.P., a wealthy Liberal
MRS. BARTHWICK, his wife
JACK BARTHWICK, their son
ROPER, their solicitor
MRS. JONES, their charwoman
MARLOW, their manservant
WHEELER, their maidservant
JONES, the stranger within their gates
MRS. SEDDON, a landlady
SNOW, a detective
A POLICE MAGISTRATE
AN UNKNOWN LADY, from beyond
TWO LITTLE GIRLS, homeless
LIVENS, their father
A RELIEVING OFFICER
A MAGISTRATE'S CLERK
AN USHER
POLICEMEN, CLERKS, AND OTHERS


TIME: The present. The action of the first two Acts takes place on
Easter Tuesday; the action of the third on Easter Wednesday week.


ACT I.
     SCENE I. Rockingham Gate. John Barthwick's dining-room.
     SCENE II. The same.
     SCENE III. The same.

ACT II.
     SCENE I. The Jones's lodgings, Merthyr Street.
     SCENE II. John Barthwick's dining-room.

ACT III. A London police court.




ACT I

SCENE I

     The  curtain rises on the BARTHWICK'S dining-room, large,
     modern, and well furnished; the window curtains drawn.
     Electric light is burning.  On the large round dining-table is
     set out a tray with whisky, a syphon, and a silver
     cigarette-box.  It is past midnight.

     A fumbling is heard outside the door.  It is opened suddenly;
     JACK BARTHWICK seems to fall into the room.  He stands holding
     by the door knob, staring before him, with a beatific smile.
     He is in evening dress and opera hat, and carries in his hand a
     sky-blue velvet lady's reticule.  His boyish face is freshly
     coloured and clean-shaven.  An overcoat is hanging on his arm.


JACK.  Hello!  I've got home all ri----[Defiantly.]  Who says I
sh'd never 've opened th' door without 'sistance.  [He staggers in,
fumbling with the reticule. A lady's handkerchief and purse of
crimson silk fall out.]  Serve her joll' well right--everything
droppin' out.  Th' cat.  I 've scored her off--I 've got her bag.
[He swings the reticule.]  Serves her joly' well right. [He takes a
cigarette out of the silver box and puts it in his mouth.]  Never
gave tha' fellow anything!  [He hunts through all his pockets and
pulls a shilling out; it drops and rolls away.  He looks for it.]
Beastly shilling!  [He looks again.]  Base ingratitude!  Absolutely
nothing.  [He laughs.]  Mus' tell him I've got absolutely nothing.

     [He lurches through the door and down a corridor, and presently
     returns, followed by JONES, who is advanced in liquor.  JONES,
     about thirty years of age, has hollow cheeks, black circles
     round his eyes, and rusty clothes: He looks as though he might
     be unemployed, and enters in a hang-dog manner.]

JACK.  Sh!  sh!  sh!  Don't you make a noise, whatever you do.  Shu'
the door, an' have a drink.  [Very solemnly.]  You helped me to open
the door--I 've got nothin, for you.  This is my house.  My father's
name's Barthwick; he's Member of Parliament--Liberal Member of
Parliament: I've told you that before.  Have a drink!  [He pours out
whisky and drinks it up.]  I'm not drunk [Subsiding on a sofa.]
Tha's all right.  Wha's your name?  My name's Barthwick, so's my
father's; I'm a Liberal too--wha're you?

JONES.  [In a thick, sardonic voice.]  I'm a bloomin' Conservative.
My name's Jones!  My wife works 'ere; she's the char; she works
'ere.

JACK.  Jones?  [He laughs.]  There's 'nother Jones at College with
me.  I'm not a Socialist myself; I'm a Liberal--there's ve--lill
difference, because of the principles of the Lib--Liberal Party.
We're all equal before the law--tha's rot, tha's silly.  [Laughs.]
Wha' was I about to say?  Give me some whisky.

     [JONES gives him the whisky he desires, together with a squirt
     of syphon.]

Wha' I was goin' tell you was--I 've had a row with her.  [He waves
the reticule.]  Have a drink, Jonessh 'd never have got in without
you--tha 's why I 'm giving you a drink.  Don' care who knows I've
scored her off.  Th' cat!  [He throws his feet up on the sofa.]
Don' you make a noise, whatever you do.  You pour out a drink--you
make yourself good long, long drink--you take cigarette--you take
anything you like.  Sh'd never have got in without you.  [Closing
his eyes.]  You're a Tory--you're a Tory Socialist.  I'm Liberal
myself--have a drink--I 'm an excel'nt chap.

     [His head drops back.  He, smiling, falls asleep, and JONES
     stands looking at him; then, snatching up JACK's glass, he
     drinks it off.  He picks the reticule from off JACK'S
     shirt-front, holds it to the light, and smells at it.]

JONES.  Been on the tiles and brought 'ome some of yer cat's fur.
[He stuffs it into JACK's breast pocket.]

JACK.  [Murmuring.]  I 've scored you off!  You cat!

     [JONES looks around him furtively; he pours out whisky and
     drinks it.  From the silver box he takes a cigarette, puffs at
     it, and drinks more whisky.  There is no sobriety left in him.]

JONES.  Fat lot o' things they've got 'ere!  [He sees the crimson
purse lying on the floor.]  More cat's fur.  Puss, puss!  [He
fingers it, drops it on the tray, and looks at JACK.]  Calf!  Fat
calf!  [He sees his own presentment in a mirror.  Lifting his hands,
with fingers spread, he stares at it; then looks again at JACK,
clenching his fist as if to batter in his sleeping, smiling face.
Suddenly he tilts the rest o f the whisky into the glass and drinks
it.  With cunning glee he takes the silver box and purse and pockets
them.]  I 'll score you off too, that 's wot I 'll do!

     [He gives a little snarling laugh and lurches to the door.  His
     shoulder rubs against the switch; the light goes out.  There is
     a sound as of a closing outer door.]


                         The curtain falls.




The curtain rises again at once.

SCENE II

     In the BARTHWICK'S dining-room.  JACK is still asleep; the
     morning light is coming through the curtains.  The time is
     half-past eight.  WHEELER, brisk person enters with a dust-pan,
     and MRS. JONES more slowly with a scuttle.

WHEELER.  [Drawing the curtains.]  That precious husband of yours
was round for you after you'd gone yesterday, Mrs. Jones.  Wanted
your money for drink, I suppose.  He hangs about the corner here
half the time.  I saw him outside the "Goat and Bells" when I went
to the post last night.  If I were you I would n't live with him.  I
would n't live with a man that raised his hand to me.  I wouldn't
put up with it.  Why don't you take your children and leave him?  If
you put up with 'im it'll only make him worse.  I never can see why,
because a man's married you, he should knock you about.

MRS. JONES.  [Slim, dark-eyed, and dark-haired; oval-faced, and with
a smooth, soft, even voice; her manner patient, her way of talking
quite impersonal; she wears a blue linen dress, and boots with
holes.]  It was nearly two last night before he come home, and he
wasn't himself.  He made me get up, and he knocked me about; he
didn't seem to know what he was saying or doing.  Of course I would
leave him, but I'm really afraid of what he'd do to me.  He 's such
a violent man when he's not himself.

WHEELER.  Why don't you get him locked up?  You'll never have any
peace until you get him locked up.  If I were you I'd go to the
police court tomorrow.  That's what I would do.

MRS. JONES.  Of course I ought to go, because he does treat me so
badly when he's not himself.  But you see, Bettina, he has a very
hard time--he 's been out of work two months, and it preys upon his
mind.  When he's in work he behaves himself much better.  It's when
he's out of work that he's so violent.

WHEELER.  Well, if you won't take any steps you 'll never get rid of
him.

MRS. JONES.  Of course it's very wearing to me; I don't get my sleep
at nights.  And it 's not as if I were getting help from him,
because I have to do for the children and all of us.  And he throws
such dreadful things up at me, talks of my having men to follow me
about.  Such a thing never happens; no man ever speaks to me.  And
of course, it's just the other way.  It's what he does that's wrong
and makes me so unhappy.  And then he 's always threatenin' to cut
my throat if I leave him.  It's all the drink, and things preying on
his mind; he 's not a bad man really.  Sometimes he'll speak quite
kind to me, but I've stood so much from him, I don't feel it in me
to speak kind back, but just keep myself to myself.  And he's all
right with the children too, except when he's not himself.

WHEELER.  You mean when he's drunk, the beauty.

MRS. JONES.  Yes.  [Without change of voice]  There's the young
gentleman asleep on the sofa.

     [They both look silently at Jack.]

MRS. JONES.  [At last, in her soft voice.]  He does n't look quite
himself.

WHEELER.  He's a young limb, that's what he is.  It 's my belief he
was tipsy last night, like your husband.  It 's another kind of
bein' out of work that sets him to drink.  I 'll go and tell Marlow.
This is his job.

     [She goes.]

     [Mrs. Jones, upon her knees, begins a gentle sweeping.]

JACK.  [Waking.]  Who's there?  What is it?

MRS. JONES.  It's me, sir, Mrs. Jones.

JACK.  [Sitting up and looking round.]  Where is it--what--what time
is it?

MRS. JONES.  It's getting on for nine o'clock, sir.

JACK.  For nine!  Why--what!  [Rising, and loosening his tongue;
putting hands to his head, and staring hard at Mrs. Jones.]  Look
here, you, Mrs.----Mrs. Jones--don't you say you caught me asleep
here.

MRS. JONES.  No, sir, of course I won't sir.

JACK.  It's quite an accident; I don't know how it happened.  I must
have forgotten to go to bed.  It's a queer thing.  I 've got a most
beastly headache.  Mind you don't say anything, Mrs. Jones.

     [Goes out and passes MARLOW in the doorway.  MARLOW is young
     and quiet; he is cleanshaven, and his hair is brushed high from
     his forehead in a coxcomb.  Incidentally a butler, he is first
     a man.  He looks at MRS. JONES, and smiles a private smile.]

MARLOW.  Not the first time, and won't be the last.  Looked a bit
dicky, eh, Mrs. Jones?

MRS. JONES.  He did n't look quite himself.  Of course I did n't
take notice.

MARLOW.  You're used to them.  How's your old man?

MRS. JONES.  [Softly as throughout.]  Well, he was very bad last
night; he did n't seem to know what he was about.  He was very late,
and he was most abusive.  But now, of course, he's asleep.

MARLOW.  That's his way of finding a job, eh?

MRS. JONES.  As a rule, Mr. Marlow, he goes out early every morning
looking for work, and sometimes he comes in fit to drop--and of
course I can't say he does n't try to get it, because he does.
Trade's very bad.  [She stands quite still, her fan and brush before
her, at the beginning and the end of long vistas of experience,
traversing them with her impersonal eye.]  But he's not a good
husband to me--last night he hit me, and he was so dreadfully
abusive.

MARLOW.  Bank 'oliday, eh!  He 's too fond of the "Goat and Bells,"
that's what's the matter with him.  I see him at the corner late
every night.  He hangs about.

MRS. JONES.  He gets to feeling very low walking about all day after
work, and being refused so often, and then when he gets a drop in
him it goes to his head.  But he shouldn't treat his wife as he
treats me.  Sometimes I 've had to go and walk about at night, when
he wouldn't let me stay in the room; but he's sorry for it
afterwards.  And he hangs about after me, he waits for me in the
street; and I don't think he ought to, because I 've always been a
good wife to him.  And I tell him Mrs. Barthwick wouldn't like him
coming about the place.  But that only makes him angry, and he says
dreadful things about the gentry.  Of course it was through me that
he first lost his place, through his not treating me right; and
that's made him bitter against the gentry.  He had a very good place
as groom in the country; but it made such a stir, because of course
he did n't treat me right.

MARLOW.  Got the sack?

MRS. JONES.  Yes; his employer said he couldn't keep him, because
there was a great deal of talk; and he said it was such a bad
example.  But it's very important for me to keep my work here; I
have the three children, and I don't want him to come about after me
in the streets, and make a disturbance as he sometimes does.

MARLOW.  [Holding up the empty decanter.]  Not a drain!  Next time
he hits you get a witness and go down to the court----

MRS. JONES.  Yes, I think I 've made up my mind.  I think I ought
to.

MARLOW.  That's right.  Where's the ciga----?

     [He searches for the silver box; he looks at MRS. JONES, who is
     sweeping on her hands and knees; he checks himself and stands
     reflecting.  From the tray he picks two half-smoked cigarettes,
     and reads the name on them.]

Nestor--where the deuce----?

     [With a meditative air he looks again at MRS. JONES, and,
     taking up JACK'S overcoat, he searches in the pockets.
     WHEELER, with a tray of breakfast things, comes in.]

MARLOW.  [Aside to WHEELER.]  Have you seen the cigarette-box?

WHEELER.  No.

MARLOW.  Well, it's gone.  I put it on the tray last night.  And
he's been smoking.  [Showing her the ends of cigarettes.]  It's not
in these pockets.  He can't have taken it upstairs this morning!
Have a good look in his room when he comes down.  Who's been in
here?

WHEELER.  Only me and Mrs. Jones.

MRS. JONES.  I 've finished here; shall I do the drawing-room now?

WHEELER.  [Looking at her doubtfully.]  Have you seen----Better do
the boudwower first.

     [MRS. JONES goes out with pan and brush.  MARLOW and WHEELER
     look each other in the face.]

MARLOW.  It'll turn up.

WHEELER.  [Hesitating.]  You don't think she----
[Nodding at the door.]

MARLOW.  [Stoutly.]  I don't----I never believes anything of
anybody.

WHEELER.  But the master'll have to be told.

MARLOW.  You wait a bit, and see if it don't turn up.  Suspicion's
no business of ours.  I set my mind against it.


                    The curtain falls.




               The curtain rises again at once.



SCENE III

     BARTHWICK and MRS. BARTHWICK are seated at the breakfast table.
     He is a man between fifty and sixty; quietly important, with a
     bald forehead, and pince-nez, and the "Times" in his hand.  She
     is a lady of nearly fifty, well dressed, with greyish hair,
     good features, and a decided manner.  They face each other.

BARTHWICK.  [From behind his paper.]  The Labour man has got in at
the by-election for Barnside, my dear.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Another Labour?  I can't think what on earth the
country is about.

BARTHWICK.  I predicted it.  It's not a matter of vast importance.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Not?  How can you take it so calmly, John?  To me
it's simply outrageous.  And there you sit, you Liberals, and
pretend to encourage these people!

BARTHWICK.  [Frowning.]  The representation of all parties is
necessary for any proper reform, for any proper social policy.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  I've no patience with your talk of reform--all that
nonsense about social policy.  We know perfectly well what it is
they want; they want things for themselves.  Those Socialists and
Labour men are an absolutely selfish set of people.  They have no
sense of patriotism, like the upper classes; they simply want what
we've got.

BARTHWICK.  Want what we've got!  [He stares into space.]  My dear,
what are you talking about?  [With a contortion.]  I 'm no alarmist.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Cream?  Quite uneducated men!  Wait until they
begin to tax our investments.  I 'm convinced that when they once
get a chance they will tax everything--they 've no feeling for the
country.  You Liberals and Conservatives, you 're all alike; you
don't see an inch before your noses.  You've no imagination, not a
scrap of imagination between you.  You ought to join hands and nip
it in the bud.

BARTHWICK.  You 're talking nonsense!  How is it possible for
Liberals and Conservatives to join hands, as you call it?  That
shows how absurd it is for women----Why, the very essence of a
Liberal is to trust in the people!

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Now, John, eat your breakfast.  As if there were
any real difference between you and the Conservatives.  All the
upper classes have the same interests to protect, and the same
principles.  [Calmly.]  Oh!  you're sitting upon a volcano, John.

BARTHWICK.  What!

MRS. BARTHWICK.  I read a letter in the paper yesterday.  I forget
the man's name, but it made the whole thing perfectly clear.  You
don't look things in the face.

BARTHWICK.  Indeed!  [Heavily.]  I am a Liberal!  Drop the subject,
please!

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Toast?  I quite agree with what this man says:
Education is simply ruining the lower classes.  It unsettles them,
and that's the worst thing for us all.  I see an enormous difference
in the manner of servants.

BARTHWICK, [With suspicious emphasis.]  I welcome any change that
will lead to something better.  [He opens a letter.]  H'm!  This is
that affair of Master Jack's again.  "High Street, Oxford.  Sir, We
have received Mr. John Barthwick, Senior's, draft for forty pounds!"
Oh! the letter's to him!  "We now enclose the cheque you cashed with
us, which, as we stated in our previous letter, was not met on
presentation at your bank.  We are, Sir, yours obediently, Moss and
Sons, Tailors."  H 'm!  [Staring at the cheque.]  A pretty business
altogether!  The boy might have been prosecuted.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Come, John, you know Jack did n't mean anything; he
only thought he was overdrawing.  I still think his bank ought to
have cashed that cheque.  They must know your position.

BARTHWICK.  [Replacing in the envelope the letter and the cheque.]
Much good that would have done him in a court of law.

     [He stops as JACK comes in, fastening his waistcoat and
     staunching a razor cut upon his chin.]

JACK.  [Sitting down between them, and speaking with an artificial
joviality.]  Sorry I 'm late.  [He looks lugubriously at the
dishes.]  Tea, please, mother.  Any letters for me?  [BARTHWICK
hands the letter to him.]  But look here, I say, this has been
opened!  I do wish you would n't----

BARTHWICK.  [Touching the envelope.]  I suppose I 'm entitled to
this name.

JACK.  [Sulkily.]  Well, I can't help having your name, father!  [He
reads the letter, and mutters.]  Brutes!

BARTHWICK.  [Eyeing him.]  You don't deserve to be so well out of
that.

JACK.  Haven't you ragged me enough, dad?

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Yes, John, let Jack have his breakfast.

BARTHWICK.  If you hadn't had me to come to, where would you have
been?  It's the merest accident--suppose you had been the son of a
poor man or a clerk.  Obtaining money with a cheque you knew your
bank could not meet.  It might have ruined you for life.  I can't
see what's to become of you if these are your principles.  I never
did anything of the sort myself.

JACK.  I expect you always had lots of money.  If you've got plenty
of money, of course----

BARTHWICK.  On the contrary, I had not your advantages.  My father
kept me very short of money.

JACK.  How much had you, dad?

BARTHWICK.  It's not material.  The question is, do you feel the
gravity of what you did?

JACK.  I don't know about the gravity.  Of course, I 'm very sorry
if you think it was wrong.  Have n't I said so!  I should never have
done it at all if I had n't been so jolly hard up.

BARTHWICK.  How much of that forty pounds have you got left, Jack?

JACK.  [Hesitating.]  I don't know--not much.

BARTHWICK.  How much?

JACK.  [Desperately.]  I have n't got any.

BARTHWICK.  What?

JACK.  I know I 've got the most beastly headache.

     [He leans his head on his hand.]

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Headache?  My dear boy!  Can't you eat any
breakfast?

JACK.  [Drawing in his breath.]  Too jolly bad!

MRS. BARTHWICK.  I'm so sorry.  Come with me; dear; I'll give you
something that will take it away at once.

     [They leave the room; and BARTHWICK, tearing up the letter,
     goes to the fireplace and puts the pieces in the fire.  While
     he is doing this MARLOW comes in, and looking round him, is
     about quietly to withdraw.]

BARTHWICK.  What's that?  What d 'you want?

MARLOW.  I was looking for Mr. John, sir.

BARTHWICK.  What d' you want Mr. John for?

MARLOW.  [With hesitation.]  I thought I should find him here, sir.

BARTHWICK.  [Suspiciously.]  Yes, but what do you want him for?

MARLOW.  [Offhandedly.]  There's a lady called--asked to speak to
him for a minute, sir.

BARTHWICK.  A lady, at this time in the morning.  What sort of a
lady?

MARLOW.  [Without expression in his voice.]  I can't tell, sir; no
particular sort.  She might be after charity.  She might be a Sister
of Mercy, I should think, sir.

BARTHWICK.  Is she dressed like one?

MARLOW.  No, sir, she's in plain clothes, sir.

BARTHWICK.  Did n't she say what she wanted?

MARLOW.  No sir.

BARTHWICK.  Where did you leave her?

MARLOW.  In the hall, sir.

BARTHWICK.  In the hall?  How do you know she's not a thief--not got
designs on the house?

MARLOW.  No, sir, I don't fancy so, sir.

BARTHWICK.  Well, show her in here; I'll see her myself.

     [MARLOW goes out with a private gesture of dismay.  He soon
     returns, ushering in a young pale lady with dark eyes and
     pretty figure, in a modish, black, but rather shabby dress, a
     black and white trimmed hat with a bunch of Parma violets
     wrongly placed, and fuzzy-spotted veil.  At the Sight of MR.
     BARTHWICK she exhibits every sign of nervousness.  MARLOW goes
     out.]

UNKNOWN LADY.  Oh!  but--I beg pardon there's some mistake--I [She
turns to fly.]

BARTHWICK.  Whom did you want to see, madam?

UNKNOWN.  [Stopping and looking back.]  It was Mr. John Barthwick I
wanted to see.

BARTHWICK.  I am John Barthwick, madam.  What can I have the
pleasure of doing for you?

UNKNOWN.  Oh!  I--I don't [She drops her eyes.  BARTHWICK
scrutinises her, and purses his lips.]

BARTHWICK.  It was my son, perhaps, you wished to see?

UNKNOWN.  [Quickly.]  Yes, of course, it's your son.

BARTHWICK.  May I ask whom I have the pleasure of speaking to?

UNKNOWN.  [Appeal and hardiness upon her face.]  My name is----oh!
it does n't matter--I don't want to make any fuss.  I just want to
see your son for a minute.  [Boldly.]  In fact, I must see him.

BARTHWICK.  [Controlling his uneasiness.]  My son is not very well.
If necessary, no doubt I could attend to the matter; be so kind as
to let me know----

UNKNOWN.  Oh! but I must see him--I 've come on purpose--[She bursts
out nervously.]  I don't want to make any fuss, but the fact is,
last--last night your son took away--he took away my [She stops.]

BARTHWICK.  [Severely.]  Yes, madam, what?

UNKNOWN.  He took away my--my reticule.

BARTHWICK.  Your reti----?

UNKNOWN.  I don't care about the reticule; it's not that I want--I
'm sure I don't want to make any fuss--[her face is quivering]--but
--but--all my money was in it!

BARTHWICK.  In what--in what?

UNKNOWN.  In my purse, in the reticule.  It was a crimson silk
purse.  Really, I wouldn't have come--I don't want to make any fuss.
But I must get my money back--mustn't I?

BARTHWICK.  Do you tell me that my son----?

UNKNOWN.  Oh! well, you see, he was n't quite I mean he was

     [She smiles mesmerically.]

BARTHWICK.  I beg your pardon.

UNKNOWN.  [Stamping her foot.]  Oh!  don't you see--tipsy!  We had a
quarrel.

BARTHWICK.  [Scandalised.]  How?  Where?

UNKNOWN.  [Defiantly.]  At my place.  We'd had supper at the----and
your son----

BARTHWICK.  [Pressing the bell.]  May I ask how you knew this house?
Did he give you his name and address?

UNKNOWN.  [Glancing sidelong.]  I got it out of his overcoat.

BARTHWICK.  [Sardonically.]  Oh!  you got it out of his overcoat.
And may I ask if my son will know you by daylight?

UNKNOWN.  Know me?  I should jolly--I mean, of course he will!
     [MARLOW comes in.]

BARTHWICK.  Ask Mr. John to come down.

     [MARLOW goes out, and BARTHWICK walks uneasily about.]

And how long have you enjoyed his acquaintanceship?

UNKNOWN.  Only since--only since Good Friday.

BARTHWICK.  I am at a loss--I repeat I am at a----

     [He glances at this unknown lady, who stands with eyes cast
     down, twisting her hands And suddenly Jack appears.  He stops
     on seeing who is here, and the unknown lady hysterically
     giggles.  There is a silence.]

BARTHWICK.  [Portentously.]  This young--er--lady says that last
night--I think you said last night madam--you took away----

UNKNOWN.  [Impulsively.]  My reticule, and all my money was in a
crimson silk purse.

JACK.  Reticule.  [Looking round for any chance to get away.]  I
don't know anything about it.

BARTHWICK.  [Sharply.]  Come, do you deny seeing this young lady
last night?

JACK.  Deny?  No, of course.  [Whispering.]  Why did you give me
away like this?  What on earth did you come here for?

UNKNOWN.  [Tearfully.]  I'm sure I didn't want to--it's not likely,
is it?  You snatched it out of my hand--you know you did--and the
purse had all my money in it.  I did n't follow you last night
because I did n't want to make a fuss and it was so late, and you
were so----

BARTHWICK.  Come, sir, don't turn your back on me--explain!

JACK.  [Desperately.]  I don't remember anything about it.  [In a
low voice to his friend.]  Why on earth could n't you have written?

UNKNOWN.  [Sullenly.]  I want it now; I must have, it--I 've got to
pay my rent to-day. [She looks at BARTHWICK.]  They're only too glad
to jump on people who are not--not well off.

JACK.  I don't remember anything about it, really.  I don't remember
anything about last night at all.  [He puts his hand up to his
head.]  It's all--cloudy, and I 've got such a beastly headache.

UNKNOWN.  But you took it; you know you did.  You said you'd score
me off.

JACK.  Well, then, it must be here.  I remember now--I remember
something.  Why did I take the beastly thing?

BARTHWICK.  Yes, why did you take the beastly----[He turns abruptly
to the window.]

UNKNOWN.  [With her mesmeric smile.]  You were n't quite were you?

JACK.  [Smiling pallidly.]  I'm awfully sorry.  If there's anything
I can do----

BARTHWICK.  Do?  You can restore this property, I suppose.

JACK.  I'll go and have a look, but I really don't think I 've got
it.

     [He goes out hurriedly.  And BARTHWICK, placing a chair,
     motions to the visitor to sit; then, with pursed lips, he
     stands and eyes her fixedly.  She sits, and steals a look at
     him; then turns away, and, drawing up her veil, stealthily
     wipes her eyes.  And Jack comes back.]

JACK.  [Ruefully holding out the empty reticule.]  Is that the
thing?  I 've looked all over--I can't find the purse anywhere.  Are
you sure it was there?

UNKNOWN.  [Tearfully.]  Sure?  Of course I'm sure.  A crimson silk
purse.  It was all the money I had.

JACK.  I really am awfully sorry--my head's so jolly bad.  I 've
asked the butler, but he has n't seen it.

UNKNOWN.  I must have my money----

JACK.  Oh!  Of course--that'll be all right; I'll see that that's
all right.  How much?

UNKNOWN.  [Sullenly.]  Seven pounds-twelve--it's all I 've got in
the world.

JACK.  That'll be all right; I'll--send you a cheque.

UNKNOWN.  [Eagerly.]  No; now, please.  Give me what was in my
purse; I've got to pay my rent this morning.  They won't' give me
another day; I'm a fortnight behind already.

JACK.  [Blankly.]  I'm awfully sorry; I really have n't a penny in
my pocket.

     [He glances stealthily at BARTHWICK.]

UNKNOWN.  [Excitedly.]  Come I say you must--it's my money, and you
took it.  I 'm not going away without it.  They 'll turn me out of
my place.

JACK.  [Clasping his head.]  But I can't give you what I have n't
got.  Don't I tell you I have n't a beastly cent.

UNKNOWN.  [Tearing at her handkerchief.]  Oh!  do give it me!  [She
puts her hands together in appeal; then, with sudden fierceness.]
If you don't I'll summons you.  It's stealing, that's what it is!

BARTHWICK.  [Uneasily.]  One moment, please.  As a matter of---er
--principle, I shall settle this claim.  [He produces money.]  Here is
eight pounds; the extra will cover the value of the purse and your
cab fares.  I need make no comment--no thanks are necessary.

     [Touching the bell, he holds the door ajar in silence.  The
     unknown lady stores the money in her reticule, she looks from
     JACK to BARTHWICK, and her face is quivering faintly with a
     smile.  She hides it with her hand, and steals away.  Behind
     her BARTHWICK shuts the door.]

BARTHWICK.  [With solemnity.]  H'm!  This is nice thing to happen!

JACK.  [Impersonally.]  What awful luck!

BARTHWICK.  So this is the way that forty pounds has gone!  One
thing after another!  Once more I should like to know where you 'd
have been if it had n't been for me!  You don't seem to have any
principles.  You--you're one of those who are a nuisance to society;
you--you're dangerous!  What your mother would say I don't know.
Your conduct, as far as I can see, is absolutely unjustifiable.
It's--it's criminal.  Why, a poor man who behaved as you've done
--d' you think he'd have any mercy shown him?  What you want is a good
lesson.  You and your sort are--[he speaks with feeling]--a nuisance
to the community.  Don't ask me to help you next time.  You're not
fit to be helped.

JACK.  [Turning upon his sire, with unexpected fierceness.]  All
right, I won't then, and see how you like it.  You would n't have
helped me this time, I know, if you had n't been scared the thing
would get into the papers.  Where are the cigarettes?

BARTHWICK.  [Regarding him uneasily.]  Well I 'll say no more about
it.  [He rings the bell.]  I 'll pass it over for this once, but----
[MARLOW Comes in.]  You can clear away.

     [He hides his face behind the "Times."]

JACK.  [Brightening.]  I say, Marlow, where are the cigarettes?

MARLOW.  I put the box out with the whisky last night, sir, but this
morning I can't find it anywhere.

JACK.  Did you look in my room?

MARLOW.  Yes, sir; I've looked all over the house.  I found two
Nestor ends in the tray this morning, so you must have been smokin'
last night, sir.  [Hesitating.]  I 'm really afraid some one's
purloined the box.

JACK.  [Uneasily.]  Stolen it!

BARTHWICK.  What's that?  The cigarette-box!  Is anything else
missing?

MARLOW.  No, sir; I 've been through the plate.

BARTHWICK.  Was the house all right this morning?  None of the
windows open?

MARLOW.  No, sir.  [Quietly to JACK.]  You left your latch-key in
the door last night, sir.

     [He hands it back, unseen by BARTHWICK]

JACK.  Tst!

BARTHWICK.  Who's been in the room this morning?

MARLOW.  Me and Wheeler, and Mrs. Jones is all, sir, as far as I
know.

BARTHWICK.  Have you asked Mrs. Barthwick?

[To JACK.]  Go and ask your mother if she's had it; ask her to look
and see if she's missed anything else.

     [JACK goes upon this mission.]

Nothing is more disquieting than losing things like this.

MARLOW.  No, sir.

BARTHWICK.  Have you any suspicions?

MARLOW, No, sir.

BARTHWICK.  This Mrs. Jones--how long has she been working here?

MARLOW.  Only this last month, sir.

BARTHWICK.  What sort of person?

MARLOW.  I don't know much about her, sir; seems a very quiet,
respectable woman.

BARTHWICK.  Who did the room this morning?

MARLOW.  Wheeler and Mrs. Jones, Sir.

BARTHWICK.  [With his forefinger upraised.]  Now, was this Mrs.
Jones in the room alone at any time?

MARLOW.  [Expressionless.]  Yes, Sir.

BARTHWICK.  How do you know that?

MARLOW.  [Reluctantly.]  I found her here, sir.

BARTHWICK.  And has Wheeler been in the room alone?

MARLOW.  No, sir, she's not, sir.  I should say, sir, that Mrs.
Jones seems a very honest----

BARTHWICK.  [Holding up his hand.]  I want to know this:  Has this
Mrs. Jones been here the whole morning?

MARLOW.  Yes, sir--no, sir--she stepped over to the greengrocer's
for cook.

BARTHWICK.  H'm!  Is she in the house now?

MARLOW.  Yes, Sir.

BARTHWICK.  Very good.  I shall make a point of clearing this up.
On principle I shall make a point of fixing the responsibility; it
goes to the foundations of security.  In all your interests----

MARLOW.  Yes, Sir.

BARTHWICK.  What sort of circumstances is this Mrs. Jones in?  Is
her husband in work?

MARLOW.  I believe not, sir.

BARTHWICK.  Very well.  Say nothing about it to any one.  Tell
Wheeler not to speak of it, and ask Mrs. Jones to step up here.

MARLOW.  Very good, sir.

     [MARLOW goes out, his face concerned; and BARTHWICK stays, his
     face judicial and a little pleased, as befits a man conducting
     an inquiry.  MRS. BARTHWICK and hey son come in.]

BARTHWICK.  Well, my dear, you've not seen it, I suppose?

MRS. BARTHWICK.  No.  But what an extraordinary thing, John!
Marlow, of course, is out of the question.  I 'm certain none of the
maids as for cook!

BARTHWICK.  Oh, cook!

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Of course!  It's perfectly detestable to me to
suspect anybody.

BARTHWICK.  It is not a question of one's feelings.  It's a question
of justice.  On principle----

MRS. BARTHWICK.  I should n't be a bit surprised if the charwoman
knew something about it.  It was Laura who recommended her.

BARTHWICK.  [Judicially.]  I am going to have Mrs. Jones up.  Leave
it to me; and--er--remember that nobody is guilty until they're
proved so.  I shall be careful.  I have no intention of frightening
her; I shall give her every chance.  I hear she's in poor
circumstances.  If we are not able to do much for them we are bound
to have the greatest sympathy with the poor.  [MRS. JONES comes in.]
[Pleasantly.]  Oh!  good morning, Mrs. Jones.

MRS. JONES.  [Soft, and even, unemphatic.]  Good morning, sir!  Good
morning, ma'am!

BARTHWICK.  About your husband--he's not in work, I hear?

MRS. JONES.  No, sir; of course he's not in work just now.

BARTHWICK.  Then I suppose he's earning nothing.

MRS. JONES.  No, sir, he's not earning anything just now, sir.

BARTHWICK.  And how many children have you?

MRS. JONES.  Three children; but of course they don't eat very much
sir.  [A little silence.]

BARTHWICK.  And how old is the eldest?

MRS. JONES.  Nine years old, sir.

BARTHWICK.  Do they go to school?

MRS. JONES, Yes, sir, they all three go to school every day.

BARTHWICK.  [Severely.]  And what about their food when you're out
at work?

MRS. JONES.  Well, Sir, I have to give them their dinner to take
with them.  Of course I 'm not always able to give them anything;
sometimes I have to send them without; but my husband is very good
about the children when he's in work.  But when he's not in work of
course he's a very difficult man.

BARTHWICK.  He drinks, I suppose?

MRS. JONES.  Yes, Sir.  Of course I can't say he does n't drink,
because he does.

BARTHWICK.  And I suppose he takes all your money?

MRS. JONES.  No, sir, he's very good about my money, except when
he's not himself, and then, of course, he treats me very badly.

BARTHWICK.  Now what is he--your husband?

MRS. JONES.  By profession, sir, of course he's a groom.

BARTHWICK.  A groom!  How came he to lose his place?

MRS. JONES.  He lost his place a long time ago, sir, and he's never
had a very long job since; and now, of course, the motor-cars are
against him.

BARTHWICK.  When were you married to him, Mrs. Jones?

MRS. JONES.  Eight years ago, sir that was in----

MRS. BARTHWICK.  [Sharply.]  Eight?  You said the eldest child was
nine.

MRS. JONES.  Yes, ma'am; of course that was why he lost his place.
He did n't treat me rightly, and of course his employer said he
couldn't keep him because of the example.

BARTHWICK.  You mean he--ahem----

MRS. JONES.  Yes, sir; and of course after he lost his place he
married me.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  You actually mean to say you--you were----

BARTHWICK.  My dear----

MRS. BARTHWICK.  [Indignantly.] How disgraceful!

BARTHWICK.  [Hurriedly.]  And where are you living now, Mrs. Jones?

MRS. JONES.  We've not got a home, sir.  Of course we've been
obliged to put away most of our things.

BARTHWICK.  Put your things away!  You mean to--to--er--to pawn
them?

MRS. JONES.  Yes, sir, to put them away.  We're living in Merthyr
Street--that is close by here, sir--at No. 34.  We just have the one
room.

BARTHWICK.  And what do you pay a week?

MRS. JONES.  We pay six shillings a week, sir, for a furnished room.

BARTHWICK.  And I suppose you're behind in the rent?

MRS. JONES.  Yes, sir, we're a little behind in the rent.

BARTHWICK.  But you're in good work, aren't you?

MRS. JONES.  Well, Sir, I have a day in Stamford Place Thursdays.
And Mondays and Wednesdays and Fridays I come here.  But to-day, of
course, is a half-day, because of yesterday's Bank Holiday.

BARTHWICK.  I see; four days a week, and you get half a crown a day,
is that it?

MRS.  JONES.  Yes, sir, and my dinner; but sometimes it's only half
a day, and that's eighteen pence.

BARTHWICK.  And when your husband earns anything he spends it in
drink, I suppose?

MRS. JONES.  Sometimes he does, sir, and sometimes he gives it to me
for the children.  Of course he would work if he could get it, sir,
but it seems there are a great many people out of work.

BARTHWICK.  Ah!  Yes.  We--er--won't go into that.
[Sympathetically.]  And how about your work here?  Do you find it
hard?

MRS. JONES.  Oh!  no, sir, not very hard, sir; except of course,
when I don't get my sleep at night.

BARTHWICK.  Ah!  And you help do all the rooms?  And sometimes, I
suppose, you go out for cook?

MRS. JONES.  Yes, Sir.

BARTHWICK.  And you 've been out this morning?

MRS. JONES.  Yes, sir, of course I had to go to the greengrocer's.

BARTHWICK.  Exactly.  So your husband earns nothing?  And he's a bad
character.

MRS. JONES.  No, Sir, I don't say that, sir.  I think there's a
great deal of good in him; though he does treat me very bad
sometimes.  And of course I don't like to leave him, but I think I
ought to, because really I hardly know how to stay with him.  He
often raises his hand to me.  Not long ago he gave me a blow here
[touches her breast]  and I can feel it now.  So I think I ought to
leave him, don't you, sir?

BARTHWICK.  Ah! I can't help you there.  It's a very serious thing
to leave your husband.  Very serious thing.

MRS. JONES.  Yes, sir, of course I 'm afraid of what he might do to
me if I were to leave him; he can be so very violent.

BARTHWICK.  H'm!  Well, that I can't pretend to say anything about.
It's the bad principle I'm speaking of----

MRS. JONES.  Yes, Sir; I know nobody can help me.  I know I must
decide for myself, and of course I know that he has a very hard
life.  And he's fond of the children, and its very hard for him to
see them going without food.

BARTHWICK.  [Hastily.]  Well--er--thank you, I just wanted to hear
about you.  I don't think I need detain you any longer, Mrs. Jones.

MRS. JONES.  No, sir, thank you, sir.

BARTHWICK.  Good morning, then.

MRS. JONES.  Good morning, sir; good morning, ma'am.

BARTHWICK.  [Exchanging glances with his wife.]  By the way, Mrs.
Jones--I think it is only fair to tell you, a silver cigarette-box
--er--is missing.

MRS. JONES.  [Looking from one face to the other.] I am very sorry,
sir.

BARTHWICK.  Yes; you have not seen it, I suppose?

MRS. JONES.  [Realising that suspicion is upon her; with an uneasy
movement.]  Where was it, sir; if you please, sir?

BARTHWICK.  [Evasively.]  Where did Marlow say?  Er--in this room,
yes, in this room.

MRS. JONES.  No, Sir, I have n't seen it--of course if I 'd seen it
I should have noticed it.

BARTHWICK.  [Giving hey a rapid glance.]  You--you are sure of that?

MRS. JONES.  [Impassively.]  Yes, Sir.  [With a slow nodding of her
head.]  I have not seen it, and of course I don't know where it is.

     [She turns and goes quietly out.]

BARTHWICK.  H'm!

     [The three BARTHWICKS avoid each other's glances.]


                         The curtain falls.




ACT II

SCENE I

     The JONES's lodgings, Merthyr Street, at half-past two o'clock.

     The bare room, with tattered oilcloth and damp, distempered
     walls, has an air of tidy wretchedness.  On the bed lies JONES,
     half-dressed; his coat is thrown across his feet, and muddy
     boots are lying on the floor close by.  He is asleep.  The door
     is opened and MRS. JONES comes in, dressed in a pinched black
     jacket and old black sailor hat; she carries a parcel wrapped
     up in the "Times."  She puts her parcel down, unwraps an apron,
     half a loaf, two onions, three potatoes, and a tiny piece of
     bacon.  Taking a teapot from the cupboard, she rinses it,
     shakes into it some powdered tea out of a screw of paper, puts
     it on the hearth, and sitting in a wooden chair quietly begins
     to cry.

JONES.  [Stirring and yawning.]  That you?  What's the time?

MRS. JONES.  [Drying her eyes, and in her usual voice.]  Half-past
two.

JONES.  What you back so soon for?

MRS. JONES.  I only had the half day to-day, Jem.

JONES.  [On his back, and in a drowsy voice.]  Got anything for
dinner?

MRS. JONES.  Mrs. BARTHWICK's cook gave me a little bit of bacon.
I'm going to make a stew.  [She prepares for cooking.]  There's
fourteen shillings owing for rent, James, and of course I 've only
got two and fourpence.  They'll be coming for it to-day.

JONES.  [Turning towards her on his elbow.]  Let 'em come and find
my surprise packet.  I've had enough o' this tryin' for work.  Why
should I go round and round after a job like a bloomin' squirrel in
a cage.  "Give us a job, sir"--"Take a man on"--"Got a wife and
three children."  Sick of it I am! I 'd sooner lie here and rot.
"Jones, you come and join the demonstration; come and 'old a flag,
and listen to the ruddy orators, and go 'ome as empty as you came."
There's some that seems to like that--the sheep!  When I go seekin'
for a job now, and see the brutes lookin' me up an' down, it's like
a thousand serpents in me.  I 'm not arskin' for any treat.  A man
wants to sweat hisself silly and not allowed that's a rum start,
ain't it?  A man wants to sweat his soul out to keep the breath in
him and ain't allowed--that's justice that's freedom and all the
rest of it!  [He turns his face towards the wall.]  You're so milky
mild; you don't know what goes on inside o' me.  I'm done with the
silly game.  If they want me, let 'em come for me!

     [MRS. JONES stops cooking and stands unmoving at the table.]

I've tried and done with it, I tell you.  I've never been afraid of
what 's before me.  You mark my words--if you think they've broke my
spirit, you're mistook.  I 'll lie and rot sooner than arsk 'em
again.  What makes you stand like that--you long-sufferin',
Gawd-forsaken image--that's why I can't keep my hands off you.  So
now you know.  Work!  You can work, but you have n't the spirit of a
louse!

MRS. JONES.  [Quietly.]  You talk more wild sometimes when you're
yourself, James, than when you 're not.  If you don't get work, how
are we to go on?  They won't let us stay here; they're looking to
their money to-day, I know.

JONES.  I see this BARTHWICK o' yours every day goin' down to
Pawlyment snug and comfortable to talk his silly soul out; an' I see
that young calf, his son, swellin' it about, and goin' on the
razzle-dazzle.  Wot 'ave they done that makes 'em any better than
wot I am?  They never did a day's work in their lives.  I see 'em
day after day.

MRS. JONES.  And I wish you wouldn't come after me like that, and
hang about the house.  You don't seem able to keep away at all, and
whatever you do it for I can't think, because of course they notice
it.

JONES.  I suppose I may go where I like.  Where may I go?  The other
day I went to a place in the Edgware Road.  "Gov'nor," I says to the
boss, "take me on," I says.  "I 'aven't done a stroke o' work not
these two months; it takes the heart out of a man," I says; "I 'm
one to work; I 'm not afraid of anything you can give me!"  "My good
man," 'e says, "I 've had thirty of you here this morning.  I took
the first two," he says, "and that's all I want."  "Thank you, then
rot the world!" I says.  "Blasphemin'," he says, "is not the way to
get a job.  Out you go, my lad!"  [He laughs sardonically.]  Don't
you raise your voice because you're starvin'; don't yer even think
of it; take it lyin' down!  Take it like a sensible man, carn't you?
And a little way down the street a lady says to me: [Pinching his
voice]  "D' you want to earn a few pence, my man?" and gives me her
dog to 'old outside a shop-fat as a butler 'e was--tons o' meat had
gone to the makin' of him.  It did 'er good, it did, made 'er feel
'erself that charitable, but I see 'er lookin' at the copper
standin' alongside o' me, for fear I should make off with 'er
bloomin' fat dog.  [He sits on the edge of the bed and puts a boot
on.  Then looking up.]  What's in that head o' yours?  [Almost
pathetically.]  Carn't you speak for once?

     [There is a knock, and MRS. SEDDON, the landlady, appears, an
     anxious, harassed, shabby woman in working clothes.]

MRS. SEDDON.  I thought I 'eard you come in, Mrs. Jones.  I 've
spoke to my 'usband, but he says he really can't afford to wait
another day.

JONES.  [With scowling jocularity.]  Never you mind what your
'usband says, you go your own way like a proper independent woman.
Here, jenny, chuck her that.

     [Producing a sovereign from his trousers pocket, he throws it
     to his wife, who catches it in her apron with a gasp.  JONES
     resumes the lacing of his boots.]

MRS. JONES.  [Rubbing the sovereign stealthily.]  I'm very sorry
we're so late with it, and of course it's fourteen shillings, so if
you've got six that will be right.

     [MRS. SEDDON takes the sovereign and fumbles for the change.]

JONES.  [With his eyes fixed on his boots.]  Bit of a surprise for
yer, ain't it?

MRS. SEDDON.  Thank you, and I'm sure I'm very much obliged.  [She
does indeed appear surprised.]  I 'll bring you the change.

JONES.  [Mockingly.]  Don't mention it.

MRS. SEDDON.  Thank you, and I'm sure I'm very much obliged.  [She
slides away.]

     [MRS. JONES gazes at JONES who is still lacing up his boots.]

JONES.  I 've had a bit of luck.  [Pulling out the crimson purse and
some loose coins.]  Picked up a purse--seven pound and more.

MRS. JONES.  Oh, James!

JONES.  Oh, James!  What about Oh, James!  I picked it up I tell
you.  This is lost property, this is!

MRS. JONES.  But is n't there a name in it, or something?

JONES.  Name?  No, there ain't no name.  This don't belong to such
as 'ave visitin' cards.  This belongs to a perfec' lidy.  Tike an'
smell it.  [He pitches her the purse, which she puts gently to her
nose.]  Now, you tell me what I ought to have done.  You tell me
that.  You can always tell me what I ought to ha' done, can't yer?

MRS. JONES.  [Laying down the purse.]  I can't say what you ought to
have done, James.  Of course the money was n't yours; you've taken
somebody else's money.

JONES.  Finding's keeping.  I 'll take it as wages for the time I
've gone about the streets asking for what's my rights.  I'll take
it for what's overdue, d' ye hear?  [With strange triumph.]  I've
got money in my pocket, my girl.

     [MRS. JONES goes on again with the preparation of the meal,
     JONES looking at her furtively.]

Money in my pocket!  And I 'm not goin' to waste it.  With this 'ere
money I'm goin' to Canada.  I'll let you have a pound.

     [A silence.]

You've often talked of leavin' me.  You 've often told me I treat
you badly--well I 'ope you 'll be glad when I 'm gone.

MRS.  JONES. [Impassively.] You have, treated me very badly, James,
and of course I can't prevent your going; but I can't tell whether I
shall be glad when you're gone.

JONES.  It'll change my luck.  I 've 'ad nothing but bad luck since
I first took up with you.  [More softly.]  And you've 'ad no
bloomin' picnic.

MRS. JONES.  Of course it would have been better for us if we had
never met.  We were n't meant for each other.  But you're set
against me, that's what you are, and you have been for a long time.
And you treat me so badly, James, going after that Rosie and all.
You don't ever seem to think of the children that I 've had to bring
into the world, and of all the trouble I 've had to keep them, and
what 'll become of them when you're gone.

JONES. [Crossing the room gloomily.] If you think I want to leave
the little beggars you're bloomin' well mistaken.

MRS. JONES. Of course I know you're fond of them.

JONES.  [Fingering the purse, half angrily.]  Well, then, you stow
it, old girl.  The kids 'll get along better with you than when I 'm
here.  If I 'd ha' known as much as I do now, I 'd never ha' had one
o' them.  What's the use o' bringin' 'em into a state o' things like
this? It's a crime, that's what it is; but you find it out too late;
that's what's the matter with this 'ere world.

     [He puts the purse back in his pocket.]

MRS. JONES.  Of course it would have been better for them, poor
little things; but they're your own children, and I wonder at you
talkin' like that.  I should miss them dreadfully if I was to lose
them.

JONES.  [Sullenly.]  An' you ain't the only one.  If I make money
out there--[Looking up, he sees her shaking out his coat--in a
changed voice.] Leave that coat alone!

     [The silver box drops from the pocket, scattering the
     cigarettes upon the bed.  Taking up the box she stares at it;
     he rushes at her and snatches the box away.]

MRS. JONES.  [Cowering back against the bed.] Oh, Jem! oh, Jem!

JONES.  [Dropping the box onto the table.]  You mind what you're
sayin'!  When I go out I 'll take and chuck it in the water along
with that there purse.  I 'ad it when I was in liquor, and for what
you do when you 're in liquor you're not responsible-and that's
Gawd's truth as you ought to know.  I don't want the thing--I won't
have it.  I took it out o' spite.  I 'm no thief, I tell you; and
don't you call me one, or it'll be the worse for you.

MRS. JONES.  [Twisting her apron strings.]  It's Mr. Barthwick's!
You've taken away my reputation.  Oh, Jem, whatever made you?

JONES.  What d' you mean?

MRS. JONES.  It's been missed; they think it's me.  Oh! whatever
made you do it, Jem?

JONES.  I tell you I was in liquor.  I don't want it; what's the
good of it to me?  If I were to pawn it they'd only nab me. I 'm no
thief. I 'm no worse than wot that young Barthwick is; he brought
'ome that purse that I picked up--a lady's purse--'ad it off 'er in
a row, kept sayin' 'e 'd scored 'er off.  Well, I scored 'im off.
Tight as an owl 'e was!  And d' you think anything'll happen to him?

MRS. JONES.  [As though speaking to herself.]  Oh, Jem!  it's the
bread out of our mouths!

JONES.  Is it then?  I'll make it hot for 'em yet.  What about that
purse?  What about young BARTHWICK?

[MRS. JONES comes forward to the table and tries to take the box;
JONES prevents her.]  What do you want with that?  You drop it, I
say!

MRS. JONES.  I 'll take it back and tell them all about it.  [She
attempts to wrest the box from him.]

JONES.  Ah, would yer?

     [He drops the box, and rushes on her with a snarl.  She slips
     back past the bed.  He follows; a chair is overturned.  The
     door is opened; Snow comes in, a detective in plain clothes and
     bowler hat, with clipped moustaches.  JONES drops his arms,
     MRS. JONES stands by the window gasping; SNOW, advancing
     swiftly to the table, puts his hand on the silver box.]

SNOW.  Doin' a bit o' skylarkin'?  Fancy this is what I 'm after.
J. B., the very same.  [He gets back to the door, scrutinising the
crest and cypher on the box.  To MRS. JONES.]  I'm a police officer.
Are you Mrs. Jones?

MRS. JONES.  Yes, Sir.

SNOW.  My instructions are to take you on a charge of stealing this
box from J.  BARTHWICK, Esquire, M.P., of 6, Rockingham Gate.
Anything you say may be used against you.  Well, Missis?

MRS. JONES.  [In her quiet voice, still out of breath, her hand
upon her breast.]  Of course I did not take it, sir.  I never have
taken anything that did n't belong to me; and of course I know
nothing about it.

SNOW.  You were at the house this morning; you did the room in which
the box was left; you were alone in the room.  I find the box 'ere.
You say you did n't take it?

MRS. JONES.  Yes, sir, of course I say I did not take it, because I
did not.

SNOW.  Then how does the box come to be here?

MRS. JONES.  I would rather not say anything about it.

SNOW.  Is this your husband?

MRS. JONES.  Yes, sir, this is my husband, sir.

SNOW.  Do you wish to say anything before I take her?

     [JONES remains silent, with his head bend down.]

Well then, Missis.  I 'll just trouble you to come along with me
quietly.

MRS. JONES.  [Twisting her hands.]  Of course I would n't say I had
n't taken it if I had--and I did n't take it, indeed I did n't.  Of
course I know appearances are against me, and I can't tell you what
really happened: But my children are at school, and they'll be
coming home--and I don't know what they'll do without me.

SNOW.  Your 'usband'll see to them, don't you worry.  [He takes the
woman gently by the arm.]

JONES.  You drop it--she's all right!  [Sullenly.] I took the thing
myself.

SNOW.  [Eyeing him]  There, there, it does you credit.  Come along,
Missis.

JONES.  [Passionately.]  Drop it, I say, you blooming teck.  She's
my wife; she 's a respectable woman.  Take her if you dare!

SNOW.  Now, now.  What's the good of this?  Keep a civil tongue, and
it'll be the better for all of us.

     [He puts his whistle in his mouth and draws the woman to the
     door.]

JONES.  [With a rush.]  Drop her, and put up your 'ands, or I 'll
soon make yer.  You leave her alone, will yer!  Don't I tell yer, I
took the thing myself.

SNOW.  [Blowing his whistle.]  Drop your hands, or I 'll take you
too.  Ah, would you?

     [JONES, closing, deals him a blow.  A Policeman in uniform
     appears; there is a short struggle and JONES is overpowered.
     MRS. JONES raises her hands avid drops her face on them.]


                         The curtain falls.




SCENE II

     The BARTHWICKS' dining-room the same evening.  The BARTHWICKS
     are seated at dessert.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  John!  [A silence broken by the cracking of nuts.]
John!

BARTHWICK.  I wish you'd speak about the nuts they're uneatable.
[He puts one in his mouth.]

MRS. BARTHWICK.  It's not the season for them.  I called on the
Holyroods.

     [BARTHWICK fills his glass with port.]

JACK.  Crackers, please, Dad.

     [BARTHWICK passes the crackers.  His demeanour is reflective.]

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Lady Holyrood has got very stout.  I 've noticed it
coming for a long time.

BARTHWICK.  [Gloomily.]  Stout?  [He takes up the crackers--with
transparent airiness.]  The Holyroods had some trouble with their
servants, had n't they?

JACK.  Crackers, please, Dad.

BARTHWICK.  [Passing the crackers.]  It got into the papers.  The
cook, was n't it?

MRS. BARTHWICK.  No, the lady's maid.  I was talking it over with
Lady Holyrood.  The girl used to have her young man to see her.

BARTHWICK.  [Uneasily.]  I'm not sure they were wise----

MRS. BARTHWICK.  My dear John, what are you talking about?  How
could there be any alternative?  Think of the effect on the other
servants!

BARTHWICK.  Of course in principle--I wasn't thinking of that.

JACK.  [Maliciously.]  Crackers, please, Dad.

     [BARTHWICK is compelled to pass the crackers.]

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Lady Holyrood told me: "I had her up," she said; "I
said to her, 'You'll leave my house at once; I think your conduct
disgraceful.  I can't tell, I don't know, and I don't wish to know,
what you were doing.  I send you away on principle; you need not
come to me for a character.'  And the girl said: 'If you don't give
me my notice, my lady, I want a month's wages.  I'm perfectly
respectable.  I've done nothing.'"'--Done nothing!

BARTHWICK.  H'm!

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Servants have too much license.  They hang together
so terribly you never can tell what they're really thinking; it's as
if they were all in a conspiracy to keep you in the dark.  Even with
Marlow, you feel that he never lets you know what's really in his
mind.  I hate that secretiveness; it destroys all confidence.  I
feel sometimes I should like to shake him.

JACK.  Marlow's a most decent chap.  It's simply beastly every one
knowing your affairs.

BARTHWICK.  The less you say about that the better!

MRS. BARTHWICK.  It goes all through the lower classes.  You can not
tell when they are speaking the truth.  To-day when I was shopping
after leaving the Holyroods, one of these unemployed came up and
spoke to me.  I suppose I only had twenty yards or so to walk to the
carnage, but he seemed to spring up in the street.

BARTHWICK.  Ah!  You must be very careful whom you speak to in these
days.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  I did n't answer him, of course.  But I could see
at once that he wasn't telling the truth.

BARTHWICK.  [Cracking a nut.]  There's one very good rule--look at
their eyes.

JACK.  Crackers, please, Dad.

BARTHWICK.  [Passing the crackers.]  If their eyes are
straight-forward I sometimes give them sixpence.  It 's against my
principles, but it's most difficult to refuse.  If you see that
they're desperate, and dull, and shifty-looking, as so many of them
are, it's certain to mean drink, or crime, or something
unsatisfactory.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  This man had dreadful eyes.  He looked as if he
could commit a murder.  "I 've 'ad nothing to eat to-day," he said.
Just like that.

BARTHWICK.  What was William about?  He ought to have been waiting.

JACK.  [Raising his wine-glass to his nose.]  Is this the '63, Dad?

     [BARTHWICK, holding his wine-glass to his eye, lowers it and
     passes it before his nose.]

MRS. BARTHWICK.  I hate people that can't speak the truth.  [Father
and son exchange a look behind their port.]  It 's just as easy to
speak the truth as not.  I've always found it easy enough.  It makes
it impossible to tell what is genuine; one feels as if one were
continually being taken in.

BARTHWICK.  [Sententiously.]  The lower classes are their own
enemies.  If they would only trust us, they would get on so much
better.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  But even then it's so often their own fault.  Look
at that Mrs. Jones this morning.

BARTHWICK.  I only want to do what's right in that matter.  I had
occasion to see Roper this afternoon.  I mentioned it to him.  He's
coming in this evening.  It all depends on what the detective says.
I've had my doubts.  I've been thinking it over.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  The woman impressed me most unfavourably.  She
seemed to have no shame.  That affair she was talking about--she and
the man when they were young, so immoral!  And before you and Jack!
I could have put her out of the room!

BARTHWICK.  Oh!  I don't want to excuse them, but in looking at
these matters one must consider----

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Perhaps you'll say the man's employer was wrong in
dismissing him?

BARTHWICK.  Of course not.  It's not there that I feel doubt.  What
I ask myself is----

JACK.  Port, please, Dad.

BARTHWICK.  [Circulating the decanter in religious imitation of the
rising and setting of the sun.]  I ask myself whether we are
sufficiently careful in making inquiries about people before we
engage them, especially as regards moral conduct.

JACK.  Pass the-port, please, Mother!

MRS. BARTHWICK.  [Passing it.]  My dear boy, are n't you drinking
too much?

     [JACK fills his glass.]

MARLOW.  [Entering.]  Detective Snow to see you, Sir.

BARTHWICK.  [Uneasily.]  Ah!  say I'll be with him in a minute.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  [Without turning.]  Let him come in here, Marlow.

     [SNOW enters in an overcoat, his bowler hat in hand.]

BARTHWICK.  [Half-rising.]  Oh!  Good evening!

SNOW.  Good evening, sir; good evening, ma'am. I 've called round to
report what I 've done, rather late, I 'm afraid--another case took
me away.  [He takes the silver box out o f his pocket, causing a
sensation in the BARTHWICK family.]  This is the identical article,
I believe.

BARTHWICK.  Certainly, certainly.

SNOW.  Havin' your crest and cypher, as you described to me, sir, I
'd no hesitation in the matter.

BARTHWICK.  Excellent.  Will you have a glass of [he glances at the
waning port]--er--sherry-[pours out sherry].  Jack, just give Mr.
Snow this.

     [JACK rises and gives the glass to SNOW; then, lolling in his
     chair, regards him indolently.]

SNOW.  [Drinking off wine and putting down the glass.]  After seeing
you I went round to this woman's lodgings, sir.  It's a low
neighborhood, and I thought it as well to place a constable below
--and not without 'e was wanted, as things turned out.

BARTHWICK.  Indeed!

SNOW.  Yes, Sir, I 'ad some trouble.  I asked her to account for the
presence of the article.  She could give me no answer, except to
deny the theft; so I took her into custody; then her husband came
for me, so I was obliged to take him, too, for assault.  He was very
violent on the way to the station--very violent--threatened you and
your son, and altogether he was a handful, I can till you.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  What a ruffian he must be!

SNOW.  Yes, ma'am, a rough customer.

JACK.  [Sipping his mine, bemused.]  Punch the beggar's head.

SNOW.  Given to drink, as I understand, sir.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  It's to be hoped he will get a severe punishment.

SNOW.  The odd thing is, sir, that he persists in sayin' he took the
box himself.

BARTHWICK.  Took the box himself!  [He smiles.]  What does he think
to gain by that?

SNOW.  He says the young gentleman was intoxicated last night

     [JACK stops the cracking of a nut, and looks at SNOW.]

     [BARTHWICK, losing his smile, has put his wine-glass down;
     there is a silence--SNOW, looking from face to face, remarks]

--took him into the house and gave him whisky; and under the
influence of an empty stomach the man says he took the box.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  The impudent wretch!

BARTHWICK.  D' you mean that he--er--intends to put this forward
to-morrow?

SNOW.  That'll be his line, sir; but whether he's endeavouring to
shield his wife, or whether [he looks at JACK]  there's something in
it, will be for the magistrate to say.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  [Haughtily.]  Something in what?  I don't
understand you.  As if my son would bring a man like that into the
house!

BARTHWICK.  [From the fireplace, with an effort to be calm.]  My son
can speak for himself, no doubt.  Well, Jack, what do you say?

MRS. BARTHWICK.  [Sharply.]  What does he say?  Why, of course, he
says the whole story's stuff!

JACK.  [Embarrassed.]  Well, of course, I--of course, I don't know
anything about it.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  I should think not, indeed!  [To Snow.]  The man is
an audacious ruffian!

BARTHWICK.  [Suppressing jumps.]  But in view of my son's saying
there's nothing in this--this fable--will it be necessary to proceed
against the man under the circumstances?

SNOW.  We shall have to charge him with the assault, sir.  It would
be as well for your son to come down to the Court.  There'll be a
remand, no doubt.  The queer thing is there was quite a sum of money
found on him, and a crimson silk purse.

     [BARTHWICK starts; JACK rises and sits dozen again.]

I suppose the lady has n't missed her purse?

BARTHWICK.  [Hastily.]  Oh, no!  Oh!  No!

JACK.  No!

MRS. BARTHWICK.  [Dreamily.]  No!  [To SNOW.]  I 've been inquiring
of the servants.  This man does hang about the house.  I shall feel
much safer if he gets a good long sentence; I do think we ought to
be protected against such ruffians.

BARTHWICK.  Yes, yes, of course, on principle but in this case we
have a number of things to think of.  [To SNOW.]  I suppose, as you
say, the man must be charged, eh?

SNOW.  No question about that, sir.

BARTHWICK.  [Staring gloomily at JACK.]  This prosecution goes very
much against the grain with me.  I have great sympathy with the
poor.  In my position I 'm bound to recognise the distress there is
amongst them.  The condition of the people leaves much to be
desired.  D' you follow me?  I wish I could see my way to drop it.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  [Sharply.]  John!  it's simply not fair to other
people.  It's putting property at the mercy of any one who likes to
take it.

BARTHWICK.  [Trying to make signs to her aside.]  I 'm not defending
him, not at all.  I'm trying to look at the matter broadly.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Nonsense, John, there's a time for everything.

SNOW.  [Rather sardonically.]  I might point out, sir, that to
withdraw the charge of stealing would not make much difference,
because the facts must come out [he looks significantly at JACK]  in
reference to the assault; and as I said that charge will have to go
forward.

BARTHWICK.  [Hastily.]  Yes, oh!  exactly!  It's entirely on the
woman's account--entirely a matter of my own private feelings.

SNOW.  If I were you, sir, I should let things take their course.
It's not likely there'll be much difficulty.  These things are very
quick settled.

BARTHWICK.  [Doubtfully.]  You think so--you think so?

JACK.  [Rousing himself.]  I say, what shall I have to swear to?

SNOW.  That's best known to yourself, sir.  [Retreating to the
door.]  Better employ a solicitor, sir, in case anything should
arise.  We shall have the butler to prove the loss of the article.
You'll excuse me going, I 'm rather pressed to-night.  The case may
come on any time after eleven.  Good evening, sir; good evening,
ma'am.  I shall have to produce the box in court to-morrow, so if
you'll excuse me, sir, I may as well take it with me.

     [He takes the silver box and leaves them with a little bow.]

     [BARTHWICK makes a move to follow him, then dashing his hands
     beneath his coat tails, speaks with desperation.]

BARTHWICK.  I do wish you'd leave me to manage things myself.  You
will put your nose into matters you know nothing of.  A pretty mess
you've made of this!

MRS. BARTHWICK.  [Coldly.]  I don't in the least know what you're
talking about.  If you can't stand up for your rights, I can.  I 've
no patience with your principles, it's such nonsense.

BARTHWICK.  Principles!  Good Heavens!  What have principles to do
with it for goodness sake?  Don't you know that Jack was drunk last
night!

JACK.  Dad!

MRS. BARTHWICK.  [In horror rising.]  Jack!

JACK.  Look here, Mother--I had supper.  Everybody does.  I mean to
say--you know what I mean--it's absurd to call it being drunk.  At
Oxford everybody gets a bit "on" sometimes----

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Well, I think it's most dreadful!  If that is
really what you do at Oxford?

JACK.  [Angrily.]  Well, why did you send me there?  One must do as
other fellows do.  It's such nonsense, I mean, to call it being
drunk.  Of course I 'm awfully sorry.  I 've had such a beastly
headache all day.

BARTHWICK.  Tcha!  If you'd only had the common decency to remember
what happened when you came in.  Then we should know what truth
there was in what this fellow says--as it is, it's all the most
confounded darkness.

JACK.  [Staring as though at half-formed visions.]  I just get a--
and then--it 's gone----

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Oh, Jack!  do you mean to say you were so tipsy you
can't even remember----

JACK.  Look here, Mother!  Of course I remember I came--I must have
come----

BARTHWICK.  [Unguardedly, and walking up and down.]  Tcha!--and that
infernal purse!  Good Heavens!  It'll get into the papers.  Who on
earth could have foreseen a thing like this?  Better to have lost a
dozen cigarette-boxes, and said nothing about it.  [To his wife.]
It's all your doing.  I told you so from the first.  I wish to
goodness Roper would come!

MRS. BARTHWICK.  [Sharply.]  I don't know what you're talking about,
John.

BARTHWICK.  [Turning on her.]  No, you--you--you don't know
anything!  [Sharply.]  Where the devil is Roper?  If he can see a
way out of this he's a better man than I take him for.  I defy any
one to see a way out of it.  I can't.

JACK.  Look here, don't excite Dad--I can simply say I was too
beastly tired, and don't remember anything except that I came in and
[in a dying voice] went to bed the same as usual.

BARTHWICK.  Went to bed?  Who knows where you went--I 've lost all
confidence.  For all I know you slept on the floor.

JACK.  [Indignantly.]  I did n't, I slept on the----

BARTHWICK.  [Sitting on the sofa.]  Who cares where you slept; what
does it matter if he mentions the--the--a perfect disgrace?

MRS. BARTHWICK.  What?  [A silence.]  I insist on knowing.

JACK.  Oh!  nothing.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Nothing?  What do you mean by nothing, Jack?
There's your father in such a state about it!

JACK.  It's only my purse.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Your purse!  You know perfectly well you have n't
got one.

JACK.  Well, it was somebody else's--it was all a joke--I did n't
want the beastly thing.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Do you mean that you had another person's purse,
and that this man took it too?

BARTHWICK.  Tcha!  Of course he took it too!  A man like that Jones
will make the most of it.  It'll get into the papers.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  I don't understand.  What on earth is all the fuss
about?  [Bending over JACK, and softly.] Jack now, tell me dear!
Don't be afraid.  What is it?  Come!

JACK.  Oh, don't Mother!

MRS. BARTHWICK.  But don't what, dear?

JACK.  It was pure sport.  I don't know how I got the thing.  Of
course I 'd had a bit of a row--I did n't know what I was doing--I
was--I Was--well, you know--I suppose I must have pulled the bag out
of her hand.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Out of her hand?  Whose hand?  What bag--whose bag?

JACK.  Oh!  I don't know--her bag--it belonged to--[in a desperate
and rising voice] a woman.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  A woman?  Oh!  Jack!  No!

JACK.  [Jumping up.]  You would have it.  I did n't want to tell
you.  It's not my fault.

     [The door opens and MARLOW ushers in a man of middle age,
     inclined to corpulence, in evening dress.  He has a ruddy, thin
     moustache, and dark, quick-moving little eyes.  His eyebrows
     aye Chinese.]

MARLOW.  Mr. Roper, Sir.  [He leaves the room.]

ROPER.  [With a quick look round.]  How do you do?

     [But neither JACK nor MRS. BARTHWICK make a sign.]

BARTHWICK.  [Hurrying.]  Thank goodness you've come, Roper.  You
remember what I told you this afternoon; we've just had the
detective here.

ROPER.  Got the box?

BARTHWICK.  Yes, yes, but look here--it was n't the charwoman at
all; her drunken loafer of a husband took the things--he says that
fellow there [he waves his hand at JACK, who with his shoulder
raised, seems trying to ward off a blow] let him into the house last
night.  Can you imagine such a thing.

     [Roper laughs. ]

BARTHWICK.  [With excited emphasis.].  It's no laughing matter,
Roper.  I told you about that business of Jack's too--don't you see
the brute took both the things--took that infernal purse.  It'll get
into the papers.

ROPER.  [Raising his eyebrows.]  H'm!  The purse!  Depravity in high
life!  What does your son say?

BARTHWICK.  He remembers nothing.  D--n!  Did you ever see such a
mess?  It 'll get into the papers.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  [With her hand across hey eyes.]  Oh!  it's not
that----

     [BARTHWICK and ROPER turn and look at her.]

BARTHWICK.  It's the idea of that woman--she's just heard----

     [ROPER nods.  And MRS. BARTHWICK, setting her lips, gives a
     slow look at JACK, and sits down at the table.]

What on earth's to be done, Roper?  A ruffian like this Jones will
make all the capital he can out of that purse.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  I don't believe that Jack took that purse.

BARTHWICK.  What--when the woman came here for it this morning?

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Here?  She had the impudence?  Why was n't I told?

     [She looks round from face to face--no one answers hey, there
     is a pause.]

BARTHWICK.  [Suddenly.]  What's to be done, Roper?

ROPER.  [Quietly to JACK.]  I suppose you did n't leave your
latch-key in the door?

JACK.  [Sullenly.]  Yes, I did.

BARTHWICK.  Good heavens!  What next?

MRS. BARTHWICK.  I 'm certain you never let that man into the house,
Jack, it's a wild invention.  I'm sure there's not a word of truth
in it, Mr. Roper.

ROPER.  [Very suddenly.]  Where did you sleep last night?

JACK.  [Promptly.]  On the sofa, there--[hesitating]--that is--I----

BARTHWICK.  On the sofa?  D' you mean to say you did n't go to bed?

JACK.[Sullenly.]  No.

BARTHWICK.  If you don't remember anything, how can you remember
that?

JACK.  Because I woke up there in the morning.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Oh, Jack!

BARTHWICK.  Good Gracious!

JACK.  And Mrs. Jones saw me.  I wish you would n't bait me so.

ROPER.  Do you remember giving any one a drink?

JACK.  By Jove, I do seem to remember a fellow with--a fellow with
[He looks at Roper.]  I say, d' you want me----?

ROPER.  [Quick as lightning.]  With a dirty face?

JACK.  [With illumination.]  I do--I distinctly remember his----

     [BARTHWICK moves abruptly; MRS. BARTHWICK looks at ROPER
     angrily, and touches her son's arm.]

MRS. BARTHWICK.  You don't remember, it's ridiculous!  I don't
believe the man was ever here at all.

BARTHWICK.  You must speak the truth, if it is the truth.  But if
you do remember such a dirty business, I shall wash my hands of you
altogether.

JACK.  [Glaring at them.]  Well, what the devil----

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Jack!

JACK.  Well, Mother, I--I don't know what you do want.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  We want you to speak the truth and say you never
let this low man into the house.

BARTHWICK.  Of course if you think that you really gave this man
whisky in that disgraceful way, and let him see what you'd been
doing, and were in such a disgusting condition that you don't
remember a word of it----

ROPER.  [Quick.] I've no memory myself--never had.

BARTHWICK.  [Desperately.]  I don't know what you're to say.

ROPER.  [To JACK.]  Say nothing at all!  Don't put yourself in a
false position.  The man stole the things or the woman stole the
things, you had nothing to do with it.  You were asleep on the sofa.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Your leaving the latch-key in the door was quite
bad enough, there's no need to mention anything else.  [Touching his
forehead softly.]  My dear, how hot your head is!

JACK.  But I want to know what I 'm to do.  [Passionately.]  I won't
be badgered like this.

     [MRS. BARTHWICK recoils from him.]

ROPER.  [Very quickly.]  You forget all about it. You were asleep.

JACK.  Must I go down to the Court to-morrow?

ROPER.  [Shaking his head.]  No.

BARTHWICK.  [In a relieved voice.] Is that so?

ROPER.  Yes.

BARTHWICK.  But you'll go, Roper.

ROPER.  Yes.

JACK.  [With wan cheerfulness.]  Thanks, awfully!  So long as I
don't have to go.  [Putting his hand up to his head.]  I think if
you'll excuse me--I've had a most beastly day.  [He looks from his
father to his mother.]

MRS. BARTHWICK. [Turning quickly.] Goodnight, my boy.

JACK.  Good-night, Mother.

     [He goes out.  MRS. BARTHWICK heaves a sigh.  There is a
     silence.]

BARTHWICK.  He gets off too easily.  But for my money that woman
would have prosecuted him.

ROPER.  You find money useful.

BARTHWICK.  I've my doubts whether we ought to hide the truth----

ROPER.  There'll be a remand.

BARTHWICK.  What!  D' you mean he'll have to appear on the remand.

ROPER. Yes.

BARTHWICK.  H'm, I thought you'd be able to----Look here, Roper,
you must keep that purse out of the papers.

     [ROPER fixes his little eyes on him and nods.]

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Mr. Roper, don't you think the magistrate ought to
be told what sort of people these Jones's are; I mean about their
immorality before they were married.  I don't know if John told you.

ROPER.  Afraid it's not material.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Not material?

ROPER.  Purely private life!  May have happened to the magistrate.

BARTHWICK.  [With a movement as if to shift a burden.] Then you'll
take the thing into your hands?

ROPER.  If the gods are kind.  [He holds his hand out.]

BARTHWICK.  [Shaking it dubiously.]  Kind eh?  What?  You going?

ROPER.  Yes.  I've another case, something like yours--most
unexpected.

     [He bows to MRS. BARTHWICK, and goes out, followed by
     BARTHWICK, talking to the last.  MRS. BARTHWICK at the table
     bursts into smothered sobs.  BARTHWICK returns.]

BARTHWICK.  [To himself.]  There'll be a scandal!

MRS. BARTHWICK.  [Disguising her grief at once.]  I simply can't
imagine what Roper means by making a joke of a thing like that!

BARTHWICK.  [Staring strangely.]  You!  You can't imagine anything!
You've no more imagination than a fly!

MRS. BARTHWICK.  [Angrily.]  You dare to tell me that I have no
imagination.

BARTHWICK.  [Flustered.]  I--I 'm upset.  From beginning to end, the
whole thing has been utterly against my principles.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  Rubbish!  You have n't any!  Your principles are
nothing in the world but sheer fright!

BARTHWICK.  [Walking to the window.]  I've never been frightened in
my life.  You heard what Roper said.  It's enough to upset one when
a thing like this happens.  Everything one says and does seems to
turn in one's mouth--it's--it's uncanny.  It's not the sort of thing
I've been accustomed to.  [As though stifling, he throws the window
open.  The faint sobbing of a child comes in.]  What's that?

     [They listen.]

MRS. BARTHWICK.  [Sharply.]  I can't stand that crying.  I must send
Marlow to stop it.  My nerves are all on edge.  [She rings the
bell.]

BARTHWICK.  I'll shut the window; you'll hear nothing.  [He shuts
the window.  There is silence.]

MRS. BARTHWICK.  [Sharply.]  That's no good!  It's on my nerves.
Nothing upsets me like a child's crying.

     [MARLOW comes in.]

What's that noise of crying, Marlow?  It sounds like a child.

BARTHWICK.  It is a child.  I can see it against the railings.

MARLOW.  [Opening the window, and looking out quietly.]  It's Mrs.
Jones's little boy, ma'am; he came here after his mother.

MRS. BARTHWICK.  [Moving quickly to the window.]  Poor little chap!
John, we ought n't to go on with this!

BARTHWICK.  [Sitting heavily in a chair.]  Ah!  but it's out of our
hands!

     [MRS. BARTHWICK turns her back to the window.  There is an
     expression of distress on hey face.  She stands motionless,
     compressing her lips.  The crying begins again.  BARTHWICK
     coveys his ears with his hands, and MARLOW shuts the window.
     The crying ceases.]


                         The curtain falls.




ACT III

     Eight days have passed, and the scene is a London Police Court
     at one o'clock.  A canopied seat of Justice is surmounted by
     the lion and unicorn.  Before the fire a worn-looking
     MAGISTRATE is warming his coat-tails, and staring at two little
     girls in faded blue and orange rags, who are placed before the
     dock.  Close to the witness-box is a RELIEVING OFFICER in an
     overcoat, and a short brown beard.  Beside the little girls
     stands a bald POLICE CONSTABLE.  On the front bench are sitting
     BARTHWICK and ROPER, and behind them JACK.  In the railed
     enclosure are seedy-looking men and women.  Some prosperous
     constables sit or stand about.

MAGISTRATE.  [In his paternal and ferocious voice, hissing his s's.]
Now let us dispose of these young ladies.

USHER.  Theresa Livens, Maud Livens.

     [The bald CONSTABLE indicates the little girls, who remain
     silent, disillusioned, inattentive.]

Relieving Officer!

     [The RELIEVING OFFICER Steps into the witness-box.]

USHER.  The evidence you give to the Court shall be the truth, the
whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God!  Kiss the
book!

     [The book is kissed.]

RELIEVING OFFICER.  [In a monotone, pausing slightly at each
sentence end, that his evidence may be inscribed.]  About ten
o'clock this morning, your Worship, I found these two little girls
in Blue Street, Fulham, crying outside a public-house.  Asked where
their home was, they said they had no home.  Mother had gone away.
Asked about their father.  Their father had no work.  Asked where
they slept last night.  At their aunt's.  I 've made inquiries, your
Worship.  The wife has broken up the home and gone on the streets.
The husband is out of work and living in common lodging-houses.  The
husband's sister has eight children of her own, and says she can't
afford to keep these little girls any longer.

MAGISTRATE.  [Returning to his seat beneath the canopy of justice.]
Now, let me see.  You say the mother is on the streets; what
evidence have you of that?

RELIEVING OFFICER.  I have the husband here, your Worship.

MAGISTRATE.  Very well; then let us see him.

     [There are cries of "LIVENS."  The MAGISTRATE leans forward,
     and stares with hard compassion at the little girls.  LIVENS
     comes in.  He is quiet, with grizzled hair, and a muffler for a
     collar.  He stands beside the witness-box.]

And you, are their father?  Now, why don't you keep your little
girls at home.  How is it you leave them to wander about the streets
like this?

LIVENS.  I've got no home, your Worship.  I'm living from 'and to
mouth.  I 've got no work; and nothin' to keep them on.

MAGISTRATE.  How is that?

LIVENS.  [Ashamedly.]  My wife, she broke my 'ome up, and pawned the
things.

MAGISTRATE.  But what made you let her?

LEVINS.  Your Worship, I'd no chance to stop 'er, she did it when I
was out lookin' for work.

MAGISTRATE.  Did you ill-treat her?

LIVENS.  [Emphatically.]  I never raised my 'and to her in my life,
your Worship.

MAGISTRATE.  Then what was it--did she drink?

LIVENS.  Yes, your Worship.

MAGISTRATE.  Was she loose in her behaviour?

LIVENS.  [In a low voice.]  Yes, your Worship.

MAGISTRATE.  And where is she now?

LIVENS.  I don't know your Worship. She went off with a man, and
after that I----

MAGISTRATE.  Yes, yes.  Who knows anything of her?  [To the bald
CONSTABLE.]  Is she known here?

RELIEVING OFFICER.  Not in this district, your Worship; but I have
ascertained that she is well known----

MAGISTRATE.  Yes--yes; we'll stop at that.  Now [To the Father] you
say that she has broken up your home, and left these little girls.
What provision can you make for them?  You look a strong man.

LIVENS.  So I am, your Worship.  I'm willin' enough to work, but for
the life of me I can't get anything to do.

MAGISTRATE.  But have you tried?

LIVENS.  I've tried everything, your Worship--I 've tried my
'ardest.

MAGISTRATE.  Well, well----       [There is a silence.]

RELIEVING OFFICER. If your Worship thinks it's a case, my people are
willing to take them.

MAGISTRATE. Yes, yes, I know; but I've no evidence that this man is
not the proper guardian for his children.

     [He rises oval goes back to the fire.]

RELIEVING OFFICER.  The mother, your Worship, is able to get access
to them.

MAGISTRATE.  Yes, yes; the mother, of course, is an improper person
to have anything to do with them.  [To the Father.]  Well, now what
do you say?

LIVENS.  Your Worship, I can only say that if I could get work I
should be only too willing to provide for them.  But what can I do,
your Worship?  Here I am obliged to live from 'and to mouth in these
'ere common lodging-houses.  I 'm a strong man--I'm willing to work
--I'm half as alive again as some of 'em--but you see, your Worship,
my 'airs' turned a bit, owing to the fever--[Touches his hair]--and
that's against me; and I don't seem to get a chance anyhow.

MAGISTRATE.  Yes-yes.  [Slowly.]  Well, I think it 's a case.
[Staring his hardest at the little girls.]  Now, are you willing
that these little girls should be sent to a home.

LIVENS. Yes, your Worship, I should be very willing.

MAGISTRATE.  Well, I'll remand them for a week.  Bring them again
to-day week; if I see no reason against it then, I 'll make an
order.

RELIEVING OFFICER. To-day week, your Worship.

     [The bald CONSTABLE takes the little girls out by the
     shoulders. The father follows them.  The MAGISTRATE, returning
     to his seat, bends over and talks to his CLERK inaudibly.]

BARTHWICK.  [Speaking behind his hand.]  A painful case, Roper; very
distressing state of things.

ROPER.  Hundreds like this in the Police Courts.

BARTHWICK.  Most distressing!  The more I see of it, the more
important this question of the condition of the people seems to
become.  I shall certainly make a point of taking up the cudgels in
the House.  I shall move----

     [The MAGISTRATE ceases talking to his CLERK.]

CLERK.  Remands!

     [BARTHWICK stops abruptly.  There is a stir and MRS. JONES
     comes in by the public door; JONES, ushered by policemen, comes
     from the prisoner's door.  They file into the dock.]

CLERK.  James Jones, Jane Jones.

USHER.  Jane Jones!

BARTHWICK.  [In a whisper.]  The purse--the purse must be kept out
of it, Roper.  Whatever happens you must keep that out of the
papers.

     [ROPER nods.]

BALD CONSTABLE.  Hush!

     [MRS. JONES, dressed in hey thin, black, wispy dress, and black
     straw hat, stands motionless with hands crossed on the front
     rail of the dock.  JONES leans against the back rail of the
     dock, and keeps half turning, glancing defiantly about him.  He
     is haggard and unshaven.]

CLERK.  [Consulting with his papers.]  This is the case remanded
from last Wednesday, Sir.  Theft of a silver cigarette-box and
assault on the police; the two charges were taken together.  Jane
Jones!  James Jones!

MAGISTRATE.  [Staring.]  Yes, yes; I remember.

CLERK.  Jane Jones.

MRS. JONES.  Yes, Sir.

CLERK.  Do you admit stealing a silver cigarette-box valued at five
pounds, ten shillings, from the house of John BARTHWICK, M.P.,
between the hours of 11 p.m.  on Easter Monday and 8.45 a.m.  on
Easter Tuesday last?  Yes, or no?

MRS. JONES.  [In a logy voice.]  No, Sir, I do not, sir.

CLERK.  James Jones?  Do you admit stealing a silver cigarette-box
valued at five pounds, ten shillings, from the house of John
BARTHWICK, M.P., between the hours of 11 p.m.  on Easter Monday and
8.45 A.M.  on Easter Tuesday last.  And further making an assault on
the police when in the execution of their duty at 3 p.m.  on Easter
Tuesday?  Yes or no?

JONES.  [Sullenly.]  Yes, but I've got a lot to say about it.

MAGISTRATE.  [To the CLERK.]  Yes--yes.  But how comes it that these
two people are charged with the same offence?  Are they husband and
wife?

CLERK.  Yes, Sir.  You remember you ordered a remand for further
evidence as to the story of the male prisoner.

MAGISTRATE.  Have they been in custody since?

CLERK.  You released the woman on her own recognisances, sir.

MAGISTRATE.  Yes, yes, this is the case of the silver box; I
remember now.  Well?

CLERK.  Thomas Marlow.

     [The cry of "THOMAS MARLOW" is repeated MARLOW comes in, and
     steps into the witness-box.]

USHER.  The evidence you give to the court shall be the truth, the
whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.  Kiss the
book.

     [The book is kissed.  The silver box is handed up, and placed
     on the rail.]

CLERK.  [Reading from his papers.]  Your name is Thomas Marlow?  Are
you, butler to John BARTHWICK, M.P., of 6, Rockingham Gate?

MARLOW.  Yes, Sir.

CLERK.  Is that the box?

MARLOW.  Yes Sir.

CLERK.  And did you miss the same at 8.45 on the following morning,
on going to remove the tray?

MARLOW.  Yes, Sir.

CLERK.  Is the female prisoner known to you?

     [MARLOW nods.]

Is she the charwoman employed at 6, Rockingham Gate?

     [Again MARLOW nods.]

Did you at the time of your missing the box find her in the room
alone?

MARLOW.  Yes, Sir.

CLERK.  Did you afterwards communicate the loss to your employer,
and did he send you to the police station?

MARLOW.  Yes, Sir.

CLERK.  [To MRS. JONES.]  Have you anything to ask him?

MRS. JONES.  No, sir, nothing, thank you, sir.

CLERK.  [To JONES.]  James Jones, have you anything to ask this
witness?

JONES.  I don't know 'im.

MAGISTRATE.  Are you sure you put the box in the place you say at
the time you say?

MARLOW.  Yes, your Worship.

MAGISTRATE.  Very well; then now let us have the officer.

     [MARLOW leaves the box, and Snow goes into it.]

USHER.  The evidence you give to the court shall be the truth, the
whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.  [The book
is kissed.]

CLERK.  [Reading from his papers.]  Your name is Robert Allow?  You
are a detective in the X. B.  division of the Metropolitan police
force?  According to instructions received did you on Easter Tuesday
last proceed to the prisoner's lodgings at 34, Merthyr Street, St.
Soames's?  And did you on entering see the box produced, lying on
the table?

SNOW.  Yes, Sir.

CLERK.  Is that the box?

Snow.  [Fingering the box.]  Yes, Sir.

CLERK.  And did you thereupon take possession of it, and charge the
female prisoner with theft of the box from 6, Rockingham Gate?  And
did she deny the same?

SNOW.  Yes, Sir.

CLERK.  Did you take her into custody?

Snow.  Yes, Sir.

MAGISTRATE.  What was her behaviour?

SNOW.  Perfectly quiet, your Worship.  She persisted in the denial.
That's all.

MAGISTRATE.  DO you know her?

SNOW.  No, your Worship.

MAGISTRATE.  Is she known here?

BALD CONSTABLE.  No, your Worship, they're neither of them known,
we 've nothing against them at all.

CLERK.  [To MRS. JONES.]  Have you anything to ask the officer?

MRS. JONES.  No, sir, thank you, I 've nothing to ask him.

MAGISTRATE.  Very well then--go on.

CLERK.  [Reading from his papers.]  And while you were taking the
female prisoner did the male prisoner interpose, and endeavour to
hinder you in the execution of your duty, and did he strike you a
blow?

SNOW.  Yes, Sir.

CLERK.  And did he say, "You, let her go, I took the box myself"?

SNOW.  He did.

CLERK.  And did you blow your whistle and obtain the assistance of
another constable, and take him into custody?

SNOW.  I did.

CLERK.  Was he violent on the way to the station, and did he use bad
language, and did he several times repeat that he had taken the box
himself?

     [Snow nods.]

Did you thereupon ask him in what manner he had stolen the box?  And
did you understand him to say he had entered the house at the
invitation of young Mr. BARTHWICK

     [BARTHWICK, turning in his seat, frowns at ROPER.]

after midnight on Easter Monday, and partaken of whisky, and that
under the influence of the whisky he had taken the box?

SNOW.  I did, sir.

CLERK.  And was his demeanour throughout very violent?

SNOW.  It was very violent.

JONES.  [Breaking in.]  Violent---of course it was!  You put your
'ands on my wife when I kept tellin' you I took the thing myself.

MAGISTRATE.  [Hissing, with protruded neck.]  Now--you will have
your chance of saying what you want to say presently.  Have you
anything to ask the officer?

JONES.  [Sullenly.]  No.

MAGISTRATE.  Very well then.  Now let us hear what the female
prisoner has to say first.

MRS. JONES.  Well, your Worship, of course I can only say what I 've
said all along, that I did n't take the box.

MAGISTRATE.  Yes, but did you know that it was taken?

MRS. JONES.  No, your Worship.  And, of course, to what my husband
says, your Worship, I can't speak of my own knowledge.  Of course, I
know that he came home very late on the Monday night.  It was past
one o'clock when he came in, and he was not himself at all.

MAGISTRATE.  Had he been drinking?

MRS. JONES.  Yes, your Worship.

MAGISTRATE.  And was he drunk?

MRS. JONES.  Yes, your Worship, he was almost quite drunk.

MAGISTRATE.  And did he say anything to you?

MRS. JONES.  No, your Worship, only to call me names.  And of course
in the morning when I got up and went to work he was asleep.  And I
don't know anything more about it until I came home again.  Except
that Mr. BARTHWICK--that 's my employer, your Worship--told me the
box was missing.

MAGISTRATE.  Yes, yes.

MRS. JONES.  But of course when I was shaking out my husband's coat
the cigarette-box fell out and all the cigarettes were scattered on
the bed.

MAGISTRATE.  You say all the cigarettes were scattered on the bed?
[To SNOW.]  Did you see the cigarettes scattered on the bed?

SNOW.  No, your Worship, I did not.

MAGISTRATE.  You see he says he did n't see them.

JONES.  Well, they were there for all that.

SNOW.  I can't say, your Worship, that I had the opportunity of
going round the room; I had all my work cut out with the male
prisoner.

MAGISTRATE.  [To MRS. JONES.]  Well, what more have you to say?

MRS. JONES.  Of course when I saw the box, your Worship, I was
dreadfully upset, and I could n't think why he had done such a
thing; when the officer came we were having words about it, because
it is ruin to me, your Worship, in my profession, and I have three
little children dependent on me.

MAGISTRATE.  [Protruding his neck].  Yes--yes--but what did he say
to you?

MRS. JONES.  I asked him whatever came over him to do such a thing
--and he said it was the drink.  He said he had had too much to drink,
and something came over him.  And of course, your Worship, he had
had very little to eat all day, and the drink does go to the head
when you have not had enough to eat.  Your Worship may not know, but
it is the truth.  And I would like to say that all through his
married life, I have never known him to do such a thing before,
though we have passed through great hardships and [speaking with
soft emphasis]  I am quite sure he would not have done it if he had
been himself at the time.

MAGISTRATE.  Yes, yes.  But don't you know that that is no excuse?

MRS. JONES.  Yes, your Worship.  I know that it is no excuse.

     [The MAGISTRATE leans over and parleys with his CLERK.]

JACK.  [Leaning over from his seat behind.]  I say, Dad----

BARTHWICK.  Tsst!  [Sheltering his mouth he speaks to ROPER.]
Roper, you had better get up now and say that considering the
circumstances and the poverty of the prisoners, we have no wish to
proceed any further, and if the magistrate would deal with the case
as one of disorder only on the part of----

BALD CONSTABLE.  HSSShh!

     [ROPER shakes his head.]

MAGISTRATE.  Now, supposing what you say and what your husband says
is true, what I have to consider is--how did he obtain access to
this house, and were you in any way a party to his obtaining access?
You are the charwoman employed at the house?

MRS. JONES.  Yes, your Worship, and of course if I had let him into
the house it would have been very wrong of me; and I have never done
such a thing in any of the houses where I have been employed.

MAGISTRATE.  Well--so you say.  Now let us hear what story the male
prisoner makes of it.

JONES.  [Who leans with his arms on the dock behind, speaks in a
slow, sullen voice.]  Wot I say is wot my wife says.  I 've never
been 'ad up in a police court before, an' I can prove I took it when
in liquor.  I told her, and she can tell you the same, that I was
goin' to throw the thing into the water sooner then 'ave it on my
mind.

MAGISTRATE.  But how did you get into the HOUSE?

JONES.  I was passin'.  I was goin' 'ome from the "Goat and Bells."

MAGISTRATE.  The "Goat and Bells,"--what is that?  A public-house?

JONES.  Yes, at the corner.  It was Bank 'oliday, an' I'd 'ad a drop
to drink.  I see this young Mr. BARTHWICK tryin' to find the keyhole
on the wrong side of the door.

MAGISTRATE.  Well?

JONES.  [Slowly and with many pauses.]  Well---I 'elped 'im to find
it--drunk as a lord 'e was.  He goes on, an' comes back again, and
says, I 've got nothin' for you, 'e says, but come in an' 'ave a
drink.  So I went in just as you might 'ave done yourself.  We 'ad a
drink o' whisky just as you might have 'ad, 'nd young Mr. BARTHWICK
says to me, "Take a drink 'nd a smoke.  Take anything you like, 'e
says."  And then he went to sleep on the sofa.  I 'ad some more
whisky--an' I 'ad a smoke--and I 'ad some more whisky--an' I carn't
tell yer what 'appened after that.

MAGISTRATE.  Do you mean to say that you were so drunk that you can
remember nothing?

JACK.  [Softly to his father.]  I say, that's exactly what----

BARTHWICK.  TSSh!

JONES.  That's what I do mean.

MAGISTRATE.  And yet you say you stole the box?

JONES.  I never stole the box.  I took it.

MAGISTRATE.  [Hissing with protruded neck.]  You did not steal it--
you took it.  Did it belong to you--what is that but stealing?

JONES.  I took it.

MAGISTRATE.  You took it--you took it away from their house and you
took it to your house----

JONES.  [Sullenly breaking in.]  I ain't got a house.

MAGISTRATE.  Very well, let us hear what this young man Mr.--Mr.
BARTHWICK has to say to your story.

     [SNOW leaves the witness-box.  The BALD CONSTABLE beckons JACK,
     who, clutching his hat, goes into the witness-box.  ROPER moves
     to the table set apart for his profession.]

SWEARING CLERK.  The evidence you give to the court shall be the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.
Kiss the book.

     [The book is kissed.]

ROPER.  [Examining.]  What is your name?

JACK.  [In a low voice.]  John BARTHWICK, Junior.

     [The CLERK writes it down.]

ROPER.  Where do you live?

JACK.  At 6, Rockingham Gate.

     [All his answers are recorded by the Clerk.]

ROPER.  You are the son of the owner?

JACK.  [In a very low voice.]  Yes.

ROPER.  Speak up, please.  Do you know the prisoners?

JACK.  [Looking at the JONESES, in a low voice.]  I 've seen Mrs.
Jones.  I   [in a loud voice]  don't know the man.

JONES.  Well, I know you!

BALD CONSTABLE.  HSSh!

ROPER.  Now, did you come in late on the night of Easter Monday?

JACK.  Yes.

ROPER.  And did you by mistake leave your latch key in the door?

JACK.  Yes.

MAGISTRATE.  Oh!  You left your latch-key in the door?

ROPER.  And is that all you can remember about your coming in?

JACK.  [In a loud voice.]  Yes, it is.

MAGISTRATE.  Now, you have heard the male prisoner's story, what do
you say to that?

JACK.  [Turning to the MAGISTRATE, speaks suddenly in a confident,
straight-forward voice.]  The fact of the matter is, sir, that I 'd
been out to the theatre that night, and had supper afterwards, and I
came in late.

MAGISTRATE.  Do you remember this man being outside when you came
in?

JACK.  No, Sir.  [He hesitates.]  I don't think I do.

MAGISTRATE.  [Somewhat puzzled.]  Well, did he help you to open the
door, as he says?  Did any one help you to open the door?

JACK.  No, sir--I don't think so, sir--I don't know.

MAGISTRATE.  You don't know?  But you must know.  It is n't a usual
thing for you to have the door opened for you, is it?

JACK.  [With a shamefaced smile.]  No.

MAGISTRATE.  Very well, then----

JACK.  [Desperately.]  The fact of the matter is, sir, I'm afraid
I'd had too much champagne that night.

MAGISTRATE.  [Smiling.]  Oh! you'd had too much champagne?

JONES.  May I ask the gentleman a question?

MAGISTRATE.  Yes--yes--you may ask him what questions you like.

JONES.  Don't you remember you said you was a Liberal, same as your
father, and you asked me wot I was?

JACK.  [With his hand against his brow.]  I seem to remember----

JONES.  And I said to you, "I'm a bloomin' Conservative," I said;
an' you said to me, "You look more like one of these 'ere
Socialists.  Take wotever you like," you said.

JACK.  [With sudden resolution.]  No, I don't.  I don't remember
anything of the sort.

JONES.  Well, I do, an' my word's as good as yours.  I 've never
been had up in a police court before.  Look 'ere, don't you remember
you had a sky-blue bag in your 'and [BARTHWICK jumps.]

ROPER.  I submit to your worship that these questions are hardly to
the point, the prisoner having admitted that he himself does not
remember anything.  [There is a smile on the face of Justice.]  It
is a case of the blind leading the blind.

JONES.  [Violently.]  I've done no more than wot he 'as.  I'm a poor
man; I've got no money an' no friends--he 's a toff--he can do wot I
can't.

MAGISTRATE: Now, now?  All this won't help you--you must be quiet.
You say you took this box?  Now, what made you take it?  Were you
pressed for money?

JONES.  I'm always pressed for money.

MAGISTRATE.  Was that the reason you took it?

JONES.  No.

MAGISTRATE.  [To SNOW.]  Was anything found on him?

SNOW.  Yes, your worship.  There was six pounds twelve shillin's
found on him, and this purse.

     [The red silk purse is handed to the MAGISTRATE.  BARTHWICK
     rises his seat, but hastily sits down again.]

MAGISTRATE.  [Staring at the purse.]  Yes, yes--let me see [There is
a silence.]  No, no, I 've nothing before me as to the purse.  How
did you come by all that money?

JONES.  [After a long pause, suddenly.]  I declines to say.

MAGISTRATE.  But if you had all that money, what made you take this
box?

JONES.  I took it out of spite.

MAGISTRATE.  [Hissing, with protruded neck.]  You took it out of
spite?  Well now, that's something!  But do you imagine you can go
about the town taking things out of spite?

JONES.  If you had my life, if you'd been out of work----

MAGISTRATE.  Yes, yes; I know--because you're out of work you think
it's an excuse for everything.

JONES.  [Pointing at JACK.]  You ask 'im wot made 'im take the----

ROPER.  [Quietly.]  Does your Worship require this witness in the
box any longer?

MAGISTRATE. [Ironically.]  I think not; he is hardly profitable.

     [JACK leaves the witness-box, and hanging his head, resumes his
     seat.]

JONES.  You ask 'im wot made 'im take the lady's----

     [But the BALD CONSTABLE catches him by the sleeve.]

BALD CONSTABLE.  SSSh!

MAGISTRATE.  [Emphatically.]  Now listen to me.

I 've nothing to do with what he may or may not have taken.  Why did
you resist the police in the execution of their duty?

JONES.  It war n't their duty to take my wife, a respectable woman,
that 'ad n't done nothing.

MAGISTRATE.  But I say it was.  What made you strike the officer a
blow?

JONES.  Any man would a struck 'im a blow.  I'd strike 'im again, I
would.

MAGISTRATE.  You are not making your case any better by violence.
How do you suppose we could get on if everybody behaved like you?

JONES.  [Leaning forward, earnestly.]  Well, wot, about 'er; who's
to make up to 'er for this?  Who's to give 'er back 'er good name?

MRS. JONES.  Your Worship, it's the children that's preying on his
mind, because of course I 've lost my work.  And I've had to find
another room owing to the scandal.

MAGISTRATE.  Yes, yes, I know--but if he had n't acted like this
nobody would have suffered.

JONES.  [Glaring round at JACK.]  I 've done no worse than wot 'e
'as.  Wot I want to know is wot 's goin' to be done to 'im.

     [The BALD CONSTABLE again says "HSSh"]

ROPER.  Mr. BARTHWICK wishes it known, your Worship, that
considering the poverty of the prisoners, he does not press the
charge as to the box.  Perhaps your Worship would deal with the case
as one of disorder.

JONES.  I don't want it smothered up, I want it all dealt with fair
--I want my rights----

MAGISTRATE.  [Rapping his desk.]  Now you have said all you have to
say, and you will be quiet.

     [There is a silence; the MAGISTRATE bends over and parleys with
     his CLERK.]

Yes, I think I may discharge the woman.  [In a kindly voice he
addresses MRS. JONES, who stands unmoving with her hands crossed on
the rail.]  It is very unfortunate for you that this man has behaved
as he has.  It is not the consequences to him but the consequences
to you.  You have been brought here twice, you have lost your work--
[He glares at JONES]--and this is what always happens.  Now you may
go away, and I am very sorry it was necessary to bring you here at
all.

MRS. JONES.  [Softly.]  Thank you very much, your Worship.

     [She leaves the dock, and looking back at JONES, twists her
     fingers and is still.]

MAGISTRATE.  Yes, yes, but I can't pass it over.  Go away, there's a
good woman.

     [MRS. JONES stands back.  The MAGISTRATE leans his head on his
     hand; then raising it he speaks to JONES.]

Now, listen to me.  Do you wish the case to be settled here, or do
you wish it to go before a jury?

JONES.  [Muttering.]  I don't want no jury.

MAGISTRATE.  Very well then, I will deal with it here.  [After a
pause.]  You have pleaded guilty to stealing this box----

JONES.  Not to stealin'----

BALD CONSTABLE.  HSSShh!

MAGISTRATE.  And to assaulting the police----

JONES.  Any man as was a man----

MAGISTRATE.  Your conduct here has been most improper.  You give the
excuse that you were drunk when you stole the box.  I tell you that
is no excuse.  If you choose to get drunk and break the law
afterwards you must take the consequences.  And let me tell you that
men like you, who get drunk and give way to your spite or whatever
it is that's in you, are--are--a nuisance to the community.

JACK.  [Leaning from his seat.]  Dad!  that's what you said to me!

BARTHWICK.  TSSt!

     [There is a silence, while the MAGISTRATE consults his CLERK;
     JONES leans forward waiting.]

MAGISTRATE.  This is your first offence, and I am going to give you
a light sentence.  [Speaking sharply, but without expression.]  One
month with hard labour.

     [He bends, and parleys with his CLERK.  The BALD CONSTABLE and
     another help JONES from the dock.]

JONES.  [Stopping and twisting round.]  Call this justice?  What
about 'im?  'E got drunk!  'E took the purse--'e took the purse but
[in a muffled shout]  it's 'is money got 'im off--JUSTICE!

     [The prisoner's door is shut on JONES, and from the
     seedy-looking men and women comes a hoarse and whispering groan.]

MAGISTRATE.  We will now adjourn for lunch!  [He rises from his
seat.]

     [The Court is in a stir.  ROPER gets up and speaks to the
     reporter.  JACK, throwing up his head, walks with a swagger to
     the corridor; BARTHWICK follows.]

MRS. JONES.  [Turning to him zenith a humble gesture.]  Oh!  sir!

     [BARTHWICK hesitates, then yielding to his nerves, he makes a
     shame-faced gesture of refusal, and hurries out of court.  MRS.
     JONES stands looking after him.]


                         The curtain falls.






JOY

A PLAY ON THE LETTER "I"

IN THREE ACTS




PERSONS OF THE PLAY

COLONEL HOPE, R.A., retired
MRS. HOPE, his wife
MISS BEECH, their old governess
LETTY, their daughter
ERNEST BLUNT, her husband
MRS. GWYN, their niece
JOY, her daughter
DICK MERTON, their young friend
HON. MAURICE LEVER, their guest
ROSE, their parlour-maid



TIME: The present.  The action passes throughout midsummer day on the
lawn of Colonel Hope's house, near the Thames above Oxford.


ACT I

     The time is morning, and the scene a level lawn, beyond which
     the river is running amongst fields.  A huge old beech tree
     overshadows everything, in the darkness of whose hollow many
     things are hidden.  A rustic seat encircles it.  A low wall
     clothed in creepers, with two openings, divides this lawn from
     the flowery approaches to the house.  Close to the wall there is
     a swing.  The sky is clear and sunny.  COLONEL HOPE is seated in
     a garden-chair, reading a newspaper through pince-nez.  He is
     fifty-five and bald, with drooping grey moustaches and a
     weather-darkened face.  He wears a flannel suit and a hat from
     Panama; a tennis racquet leans against his chair.  MRS. HOPE
     comes quickly through the opening of the wall, with roses in her
     hands.  She is going grey; she wears tan gauntlets, and no hat.
     Her manner is decided, her voice emphatic, as though aware that
     there is no nonsense in its owner's composition.  Screened from
     sight, MISS BEECH is seated behind the hollow tree; and JOY is
     perched on a lower branch hidden by foliage.


MRS. HOPE.  I told Molly in my letter that she'd have to walk up,
Tom.

COLONEL.  Walk up in this heat?  My dear, why didn't you order
Benson's fly?

MRS. HOPE.  Expense for nothing!  Bob can bring up her things in the
barrow.  I've told Joy I won't have her going down to meet the train.
She's so excited about her mother's coming there's no doing anything
with her.

COLONEL.  No wonder, after two months.

MRS. HOPE.  Well, she's going home to-morrow; she must just keep
herself fresh for the dancing tonight.  I'm not going to get people
in to dance, and have Joy worn out before they begin.

COLONEL.  [Dropping his paper.]  I don't like Molly's walking up.

MRS. HOPE.  A great strong woman like Molly Gwyn!  It isn't half a
mile.

COLONEL.  I don't like it, Nell; it's not hospitable.

MRS. HOPE.  Rubbish!  If you want to throw away money, you must just
find some better investment than those wretched 3 per cents. of
yours.  The greenflies are in my roses already!  Did you ever see
anything so disgusting?  [They bend over the roses they have grown,
and lose all sense of everything.]  Where's the syringe?  I saw you
mooning about with it last night, Tom.

COLONEL.  [Uneasily.]  Mooning!

     [He retires behind his paper.  MRS. HOPE enters the hollow of
     the tree.]

There's an account of that West Australian swindle.  Set of ruffians!
Listen to this, Nell!  "It is understood that amongst the
share-holders are large numbers of women, clergymen, and Army officers."
How people can be such fools!

     [Becoming aware that his absorption is unobserved, he drops his
     glasses, and reverses his chair towards the tree.]

MRS. HOPE.  [Reappearing with a garden syringe.]  I simply won't have
Dick keep his fishing things in the tree; there's a whole potful of
disgusting worms.  I can't touch them.  You must go and take 'em out,
Tom.

     [In his turn the COLONEL enters the hollow of the tree.]

MRS. HOPE.  [Personally.]  What on earth's the pleasure of it?  I
can't see!  He never catches anything worth eating.

     [The COLONEL reappears with a paint pot full of worms; he holds
     them out abstractedly.]

MRS. HOPE.  [Jumping.]  Don't put them near me!

MISS BEECH.  [From behind the tree.]  Don't hurt the poor creatures.

COLONEL.  [Turning.]  Hallo, Peachey?  What are you doing round
there?

     [He puts the worms down on the seat.]

MRS. HOPE.  Tom, take the worms off that seat at once!

COLONEL.  [Somewhat flurried.]  Good gad!  I don't know what to do
with the beastly worms!

MRS. HOPE.  It's not my business to look after Dick's worms.  Don't
put them on the ground.  I won't have them anywhere where they can
crawl about.  [She flicks some greenflies off her roses.]

COLONEL.  [Looking into the pot as though the worms could tell him
where to put them.]  Dash!

MISS BEECH.  Give them to me.

MRS. HOPE.  [Relieved.]  Yes, give them to Peachey.

     [There comes from round the tree Miss BEECH, old-fashioned,
     barrel-shaped, balloony in the skirts.  She takes the paint pot,
     and sits beside it on the rustic seat.]

MISS BEECH.  Poor creatures!

MRS. HOPE.  Well, it's beyond me how you can make pets of worms--
wriggling, crawling, horrible things!

     [ROSE, who is young and comely, in a pale print frock, comes
     from the house and places letters before her on a silver
     salver.]

     [Taking the letters.]

What about Miss joy's frock, Rose?

ROSE.  Please, 'm, I can't get on with the back without Miss Joy.

MRS. HOPE.  Well, then you must just find her.  I don't know where
she is.

ROSE.  [In a slow, sidelong manner.]  If you please, Mum, I think
Miss Joy's up in the----

     [She stops, seeing Miss BEECH signing to her with both hands.]

MRS. HOPE.  [Sharply.]  What is it, Peachey?

MISS BEECH.  [Selecting a finger.]  Pricked meself!

MRS. HOPE.  Let's look!

     [She bends to look, but Miss BEECH places the finger in her
     mouth.]

ROSE.  [Glancing askance at the COLONEL.]  If you please, Mum, it's
below the waist; I think I can manage with the dummy.

MRS. HOPE.  Well, you can try.  [Opening her letter as ROSE retires.]
Here's Molly about her train.

MISS BEECH.  Is there a letter for me?

MRS. HOPE.  No, Peachey.

MISS BEECH.  There never is.

COLONEL.  What's that?  You got four by the first post.

MISS BEECH.  Exceptions!

COLONEL.  [Looking over his glasses.]  Why!  You know, you get 'em
every day!

MRS. HOPE.  Molly says she'll be down by the eleven thirty.  [In an
injured voice.]  She'll be here in half an hour!  [Reading with
disapproval from the letter.]  "MAURICE LEVER is coming down by the
same train to see Mr. Henty about the Tocopala Gold Mine.  Could you
give him a bed for the night?"

     [Silence, slight but ominous.]

COLONEL.  [Calling into his aid his sacred hospitality.]  Of course
we must give him a bed!

MRS. HOPE.  Just like a man!  What room I should like to know!

COLONEL.  Pink.

MRS. HOPE.  As if Molly wouldn't have the pink!

COLONEL.  [Ruefully.]  I thought she'd have the blue!

MRS. HOPE.  You know perfectly well it's full of earwigs, Tom.  I
killed ten there yesterday morning.

MISS BEECH.  Poor creatures!

MRS. HOPE.  I don't know that I approve of this Mr. Lever's dancing
attendance.  Molly's only thirty-six.

COLONEL.  [In a high voice.]  You can't refuse him a bed; I never
heard of such a thing.

MRS. HOPE.  [Reading from the letter.]  "This gold mine seems to be a
splendid chance.  [She glances at the COLONEL.]  I've put all my
spare cash into it.  They're issuing some Preference shares now; if
Uncle Tom wants an investment"--[She pauses, then in a changed,
decided voice ]--Well, I suppose I shall have to screw him in
somehow.

COLONEL.  What's that about gold mines?  Gambling nonsense!  Molly
ought to know my views.

MRS. HOPE.  [Folding the letter away out of her consciousness.]  Oh!
your views!  This may be a specially good chance.

MISS BEECH.  Ahem!  Special case!

MRS. HOPE.  [Paying no attention.]  I 'm sick of these 3 per cent.
dividends.  When you've only got so little money, to put it all into
that India Stock, when it might be earning 6 per cent.  at least,
quite safely!  There are ever so many things I want.

COLONEL.  There you go!

MRS. HOPE.  As to Molly, I think it's high time her husband came home
to look after her, instead of sticking out there in that hot place.
In fact

     [Miss BEECH looks up at the tree and exhibits cerebral
     excitement]

I don't know what Geoff's about; why doesn't he find something in
England, where they could live together.

COLONEL.  Don't say anything against Molly, Nell!

MRS. HOPE.  Well, I don't believe in husband and wife being
separated.  That's not my idea of married life.

     [The COLONEL whistles quizzically.]

Ah, yes, she's your niece, not mime!  Molly's very----

MISS BEECH.  Ouch!  [She sucks her finger.]

MRS. HOPE.  Well, if I couldn't sew at your age, Peachey, without
pricking my fingers!  Tom, if I have Mr. Lever here, you'll just
attend to what I say and look into that mine!

COLONEL.  Look into your grandmother!  I have n't made a study of
geology for nothing.  For every ounce you take out of a gold mine,
you put an ounce and a half in.  Any fool knows that, eh, Peachey?

MISS BEECH.  I hate your horrid mines, with all the poor creatures
underground.

MRS. HOPE.  Nonsense, Peachey!  As if they'd go there if they did n't
want to!

COLONEL.  Why don't you read your paper, then you'd see what a lot of
wild-cat things there are about.

MRS. HOPE.  [Abstractedly.]  I can't put Ernest and Letty in the blue
room, there's only the single bed.  Suppose I put Mr. Lever there,
and say nothing about the earwigs.  I daresay he'll never notice.

COLONEL.  Treat a guest like that!

MRS. HOPE.  Then where am I to put him for goodness sake?

COLONEL.  Put him in my dressing-room, I'll turn out.

MRS. HOPE.  Rubbish, Tom, I won't have you turned out, that's flat.
He can have Joy's room, and she can sleep with the earwigs.

JOY.  [From her hiding-place upon a lower branch of the hollow tree.]
I won't.

     [MRS. HOPE and the COLONEL jump.]

COLONEL.  God bless my soul!

MRS. HOPE.  You wretched girl!  I told you never to climb that tree
again.  Did you know, Peachey?  [Miss BEECH smiles.]  She's always up
there, spoiling all her frocks.  Come down now, Joy; there's a good
child!

JOY.  I don't want to sleep with earwigs, Aunt Nell.

MISS BEECH.  I'll sleep with the poor creatures.

MRS. HOPE, [After a pause.]  Well, it would be a mercy if you would
for once, Peachey.

COLONEL.  Nonsense, I won't have Peachey----

MRS. HOPE.  Well, who is to sleep there then?

JOY.  [Coaxingly.]  Let me sleep with Mother, Aunt Nell, do!

MRS. HOPE.  Litter her up with a great girl like you, as if we'd only
one spare room!  Tom, see that she comes down--I can't stay here, I
must manage something.  [She goes away towards the house.]

COLONEL.  [Moving to the tree, and looking up.]  You heard what your
aunt said?

JOY.  [Softly.]  Oh, Uncle Tom!

COLONEL.  I shall have to come up after you.

JOY.  Oh, do, and Peachey too!

COLONEL.  [Trying to restrain a smile.]  Peachey, you talk to her.
[Without waiting for MISS BEECH, however, he proceeds.]  What'll your
aunt say to me if I don't get you down?

MISS BEECH.  Poor creature!

JOY.  I don't want to be worried about my frock.

COLONEL.  [Scratching his bald head.]  Well, I shall catch it.

JOY.  Oh, Uncle Tom, your head is so beautiful from here!  [Leaning
over, she fans it with a leafy twig.]

MISS BEECH.  Disrespectful little toad!

COLONEL.  [Quickly putting on his hat.]  You'll fall out, and a
pretty mess that'll make on--[he looks uneasily at the ground]--my
lawn!

     [A voice is heard calling "Colonel!  Colonel!]"

JOY.  There's Dick calling you, Uncle Tom.

     [She disappears.]

DICK.  [Appearing in the opening of the wall.]  Ernie's waiting to
play you that single, Colonel!

     [He disappears.]

JOY.  Quick, Uncle Tom!  Oh! do go, before he finds I 'm up here.

MISS.  BEECH.  Secret little creature!

     [The COLONEL picks up his racquet, shakes his fist, and goes
     away.]

JOY.  [Calmly.]  I'm coming down now, Peachey.

     [Climbing down.]

Look out!  I'm dropping on your head.

MISS BEECH.  [Unmoved.]  Don't hurt yourself!

     [Joy drops on the rustic seat and rubs her shin.  Told you so!]

     [She hunts in a little bag for plaster.]

Let's see!

JOY.  [Seeing the worms.]  Ugh!

MISS BEECH.  What's the matter with the poor creatures?

JOY.  They're so wriggly!

     [She backs away and sits down in the swing.  She is just
     seventeen, light and slim, brown-haired, fresh-coloured, and
     grey-eyed; her white frock reaches to her ankles, she wears a
     sunbonnet.]  Peachey, how long were you Mother's governess.

MISS BEECH.  Five years.

JOY.  Was she as bad to teach as me?

MISS BEECH.  Worse!

     [Joy claps her hands.]

She was the worst girl I ever taught.

JOY.  Then you weren't fond of her?

MISS BEECH.  Oh!  yes, I was.

JOY.  Fonder than of me?

MISS BEECH.  Don't you ask such a lot of questions.

JOY.  Peachey, duckie, what was Mother's worst fault?

MISS BEECH.  Doing what she knew she oughtn't.

JOY.  Was she ever sorry?

MISS BEECH.  Yes, but she always went on doin' it.

JOY.  I think being sorry 's stupid!

MISS BEECH.  Oh, do you?

JOY.  It isn't any good.  Was Mother revengeful, like me?

MISS BEECH.  Ah!  Wasn't she?

JOY.  And jealous?

MISS BEECH.  The most jealous girl I ever saw.

JOY.  [Nodding.]  I like to be like her.

MISS BEECH.  [Regarding her intently.]  Yes!  you've got all your
troubles before you.

JOY.  Mother was married at eighteen, wasn't she, Peachey?  Was she--
was she much in love with Father then?

MISS BEECH.  [With a sniff.]  About as much as usual.  [She takes the
paint pot, and walking round begins to release the worms.]

JOY.  [Indifferently.]  They don't get on now, you know.

MISS BEECH.  What d'you mean by that, disrespectful little creature?

JOY.  [In a hard voice.]  They haven't ever since I've known them.
MISS BEECH.  [Looks at her, and turns away again.]  Don't talk about
such things.

JOY.  I suppose you don't know Mr. Lever?  [Bitterly.]  He's such a
cool beast.  He never loses his temper.

MISS BEECH.  Is that why you don't like him?

JOY.  [Frowning.]  No--yes--I don't know.

MISS BEECH.  Oh!  perhaps you do like him?

JOY.  I don't; I hate him.

MISS BEECH. [Standing still.]  Fie!  Naughty Temper!

JOY.  Well, so would you!  He takes up all Mother's time.

MISS BEECH.  [In a peculiar voice.]  Oh!  does he?

JOY.  When he comes I might just as well go to bed.  [Passionately.]
And now he's chosen to-day to come down here, when I haven't seen her
for two months!  Why couldn't he come when Mother and I'd gone home.
It's simply brutal!

MISS BEECH.  But your mother likes him?

JOY.  [Sullenly.]  I don't want her to like him.

MISS BEECH.  [With a long look at Joy.]  I see!

JOY.  What are you doing, Peachey?

MISS BEECH.  [Releasing a worm.]  Letting the poor creatures go.

JOY.  If I tell Dick he'll never forgive you.

MISS BEECH.  [Sidling behind the swing and plucking off Joy's
sunbonnet.  With devilry.]  Ah-h-h!  You've done your hair up; so
that's why you wouldn't come down!

JOY.  [Springing up, anal pouting.]  I didn't want any one to see
before Mother.  You are a pig, Peachey!

MISS BEECH.  I thought there was something!

JOY.  [Twisting round.]  How does it look?

MISS BEECH.  I've seen better.

JOY.  You tell any one before Mother comes, and see what I do!

MISS BEECH.  Well, don't you tell about my worms, then!

JOY.  Give me my hat!  [Backing hastily towards the tree, and putting
her finger to her lips.]  Look out!  Dick!

MISS BEECH.  Oh!  dear!

     [She sits down on the swing, concealing the paint pot with her
     feet and skirts.]

JOY.  [On the rustic seat, and in a violent whisper.]  I hope the
worms will crawl up your legs!

     [DICK, in flannels and a hard straw hat comes in.  He is a quiet
     and cheerful boy of twenty.  His eyes are always fixed on joy.]

DICK.  [Grimacing.]  The Colonel's getting licked.  Hallo!  Peachey,
in the swing?

JOY.  [Chuckling.]  Swing her, Dick!

MISS BEECH.  [Quivering with emotion.]  Little creature!

JOY.  Swing her!

     [DICK takes the ropes.]

MISS BEECH.  [Quietly.]  It makes me sick, young man.

DICK.  [Patting her gently on the back.]  All right, Peachey.

MISS BEECH.  [Maliciously.]  Could you get me my sewing from the
seat?  Just behind Joy.

JOY.  [Leaning her head against the tree.]  If you do, I won't dance
with you to-night.

     [DICK stands paralysed.  Miss BEECH gets off the swing, picks up
     the paint pot, and stands concealing it behind her.]

JOY.  Look what she's got behind her, sly old thing!

MISS BEECH.  Oh!  dear!

JOY.  Dance with her, Dick!

MISS BEECH.  If he dare!

JOY.  Dance with her, or I won't dance with you to-night.
[She whistles a waltz.]

DICK.  [Desperately.]  Come on then, Peachey.  We must.

JOY.  Dance, dance!

     [DICK seizes Miss BEECH by the waist.  She drops the paint pot.
     They revolve.]  [Convulsed.]

Oh, Peachey, Oh!

     [Miss BEECH is dropped upon the rustic seat.  DICK seizes joy's
     hands and drags her up.]

No, no!  I won't!

MISS BEECH.  [Panting.]  Dance, dance with the poor young man!  [She
moves her hands.]  La la-la-la la-la la la!

     [DICK and JOY dance.]

DICK.  By Jove, Joy!  You've done your hair up. I say, how jolly!
You do look----

JOY.  [Throwing her hands up to her hair.]  I did n't mean you to
see!

DICK.  [In a hurt voice.]  Oh!  didn't you?  I'm awfully sorry!

JOY.  [Flashing round.]  Oh, you old Peachey!

     [She looks at the ground, and then again at DICK.]

MISS BEECH.  [Sidling round the tree.]  Oh!  dear!

JOY.  [Whispering.]  She's been letting out your worms.
[Miss BEECH disappears from view.]
Look!

DICK.  [Quickly.]  Hang the worms!  Joy, promise me the second and
fourth and sixth and eighth and tenth and supper, to-night.  Promise!
Do!

     [Joy shakes her head.]

It's not much to ask.

JOY.  I won't promise anything.

DICK.  Why not?

JOY.  Because Mother's coming.  I won't make any arrangements.

DICK.  [Tragically.]  It's our last night.

JOY.  [Scornfully.]  You don't understand!  [Dancing and clasping her
hands.]  Mother's coming, Mother's coming!

DICK.  [Violently.]  I wish----Promise, Joy!

JOY.  [Looking over her shoulder.]  Sly old thing!  If you'll pay
Peachey out, I'll promise you supper!

MISS BEECH.  [From behind the tree.]  I hear you.

JOY.  [Whispering.]  Pay her out, pay her out!  She's let out all
your worms!

DICK.  [Looking moodily at the paint pot.]  I say, is it true that
Maurice Lever's coming with your mother?  I've met him playing
cricket, he's rather a good sort.

JOY.  [Flashing out.] I hate him.

DICK.  [Troubled.]  Do you?  Why?  I thought--I didn't know--if I'd
known of course, I'd have----

     [He is going to say "hated him too!" But the voices of ERNEST
     BLUNT and the COLONEL are heard approaching, in dispute.]

JOY.  Oh!  Dick, hide me, I don't want my hair seen till Mother
comes.

     [She springs into the hollow tree.  The COLONEL and ERNEST
     appear in the opening of the wall.]

ERNEST.  The ball was out, Colonel.

COLONEL.  Nothing of the sort.

ERNEST.  A good foot out.

COLONEL.  It was not, sir.  I saw the chalk fly.

     [ERNEST is twenty-eight, with a little moustache, and the
     positive cool voice of a young man who knows that he knows
     everything.  He is perfectly calm.]

ERNEST.  I was nearer to it than you.

COLONEL.  [In a high, hot voice.]  I don't care where you were, I
hate a fellow who can't keep cool.

MISS BEECH.  [From behind the hollow tree.]  Fie!  Fie!

ERNEST.  We're two to one, Letty says the ball was out.

COLONEL.  Letty's your wife, she'd say anything.

ERNEST.  Well, look here, Colonel, I'll show you the very place it
pitched.

COLONEL.  Gammon!  You've lost your temper, you don't know what
you're talking about.

ERNEST.  [coolly.]  I suppose you'll admit the rule that one umpires
one's own court.

COLONEL.  [Hotly.]  Certainly not, in this case!

MISS BEECH.  [From behind the hollow tree.]  Special case!

ERNEST.  [Moving chin in collar--very coolly.]  Well, of course if
you won't play the game!

COLONEL.  [In a towering passion.]  If you lose your temper like
this, I 'll never play with you again.

     [To LETTY, a pretty soul in a linen suit, approaching through
     the wall.]

Do you mean to say that ball was out, Letty?

LETTY.  Of course it was, Father.

COLONEL.  You say that because he's your husband.  [He sits on the
rustic seat.]  If your mother'd been there she'd have backed me up!

LETTY.  Mother wants Joy, Dick, about her frock.

DICK.  I--I don't know where she is.

MISS BEECH.  [From behind the hollow tree.]  Ahem!

LETTY.  What's the matter, Peachey?

MISS BEECH.  Swallowed a fly.  Poor creature!

ERNEST.  [Returning to his point.]  Why I know the ball was out,
Colonel, was because it pitched in a line with that arbutus tree.

COLONEL.  [Rising.]  Arbutus tree!  [To his daughter.]  Where's your
mother?

LETTY.  In the blue room, Father.

ERNEST.  The ball was a good foot out; at the height it was coming
when it passed me.

COLONEL.  [Staring at him.]  You're a--you're aa theorist!  From
where you were you could n't see the ball at all.  [To LETTY.]
Where's your mother?

LETTY.  [Emphatically.]  In the blue room, Father!

     [The COLONEL glares confusedly, and goes away towards the blue
     room.]

ERNEST.  [In the swing, and with a smile.]  Your old Dad'll never be
a sportsman!

LETTY.  [Indignantly.]  I wish you wouldn't call Father old, Ernie!
What time's Molly coming, Peachey?

     [ROSE has come from the house, and stands waiting for a chance
     to speak.]

ERNEST.  [Breaking in.]  Your old Dad's only got one fault: he can't
take an impersonal view of things.

MISS BEECH.  Can you find me any one who can?

ERNEST.  [With a smile.]  Well, Peachey!

MISS BEECH.  [Ironically.]  Oh! of course, there's you!

ERNEST.  I don't know about that!  But----

ROSE.  [To LETTY,]  Please, Miss, the Missis says will you and Mr.
Ernest please to move your things into Miss Peachey's room.

ERNEST.  [Vexed.]  Deuce of a nuisance havin' to turn out for this
fellow Lever.  What did Molly want to bring him for?

MISS BEECH.  Course you've no personal feeling in the matter!

ROSE.  [Speaking to Miss BEECH.]  The Missis says you're to please
move your things into the blue room, please Miss.

LETTY.  Aha, Peachey!  That settles you!  Come on, Ernie!

     [She goes towards the house.  ERNEST, rising from the swing,
     turns to Miss BEECH, who follows.]

ERNEST.  [Smiling, faintly superior.]  Personal, not a bit!  I only
think while Molly 's out at grass, she oughtn't to----

MISS BEECH.  [Sharply.]  Oh! do you?

     [She hustles ERNEST out through the wall, but his voice is heard
     faintly from the distance: "I think it's jolly thin."]

ROSE.  [To DICK.]  The Missis says you're to take all your worms and
things, Sir, and put them where they won't be seen.

DICK.  [Shortly.]  Have n't got any!

ROSE.  The Missis says she'll be very angry if you don't put your
worms away; and would you come and help kill earwigs in the blue----?

DICK.  Hang!  [He goes, and ROSE is left alone.]

ROSE.  [Looking straight before her.]  Please, Miss Joy, the Missis
says will you go to her about your frock.

     [There is a little pause, then from the hollow tree joy's voice
     is heard.]

JOY.  No-o!

ROSE.  If you did n't come, I was to tell you she was going to put
you in the blue.

     [Joy looks out of the tree.]

     [Immovable, but smiling.]

Oh, Miss joy, you've done your hair up! [Joy retires into the tree.]
Please, Miss, what shall I tell the Missis?

JOY.  [Joy's voice is heard.]  Anything you like.

ROSE.  [Over her shoulder.]  I shall be drove to tell her a story,
Miss.

JOY.  All right!  Tell it.

     [ROSE goes away, and JOY comes out.  She sits on the rustic seat
     and waits.  DICK, coming softly from the house, approaches her.]

DICK.  [Looking at her intently.]  Joy!  I wanted to say something

     [Joy does not look at him, but twists her fingers.]

I shan't see you again you know after to-morrow till I come up for
the 'Varsity match.

JOY.  [Smiling.]  But that's next week.

DICK.  Must you go home to-morrow?

     [Joy nods three times.]

     [Coming closer.]

I shall miss you so awfully.  You don't know how I----

     [Joy shakes her head.]

Do look at me!  [JOY steals a look.]  Oh!  Joy!

     [Again joy shakes her head.]

JOY.  [Suddenly.]  Don't!

DICK.  [Seizing her hand.]  Oh, Joy!  Can't you----

JOY.  [Drawing the hand away.]  Oh!  don't.

DICK.  [Bending his head.]  It's--it's--so----

JOY.  [Quietly.]  Don't, Dick!

DICK.  But I can't help it!  It's too much for me, Joy, I must tell
you----

     [MRS. GWYN is seen approaching towards the house.]

JOY.  [Spinning round.]  It's Mother--oh, Mother!
[She rushes at her.]

     [MRS. GWYN is a handsome creature of thirty-six, dressed in a
     muslin frock.  She twists her daughter round, and kisses her.]

MRS. GWYN.  How sweet you look with your hair up, Joy!  Who 's this?
[Glancing with a smile at DICK.]

JOY.  Dick Merton--in my letters you know.

     [She looks at DICK as though she wished him gone.]

MRS. GWYN.  How do you do?

DICK.  [Shaking hands.]  How d 'you do?  I think if you'll excuse me
--I'll go in.

     [He goes uncertainly.]

MRS. GWYN.  What's the matter with him?

JOY.  Oh, nothing!  [Hugging her.]  Mother!  You do look such a duck.
Why did you come by the towing-path, was n't it cooking?

MRS. GWYN.  [Avoiding her eyes.]  Mr. Lever wanted to go into Mr.
Henty's.

     [Her manner is rather artificially composed.]

JOY.  [Dully.]  Oh!  Is he-is he really coming here, Mother?

MRS. GWYN.  [Whose voice has hardened just a little.]  If Aunt Nell's
got a room for him--of course--why not?

JOY.  [Digging her chin into her mother's shoulder.]

     [Why couldn't he choose some day when we'd gone?  I wanted you
     all to myself.]

MRS. GWYN.  You are a quaint child--when I was your age----

JOY.  [Suddenly looking up.]  Oh!  Mother, you must have been a
chook!

MRS. GWYN.  Well, I was about twice as old as you, I know that.

JOY.  Had you any--any other offers before you were married, Mother?

MRS. GWYN.  [Smilingly.]  Heaps!

JOY.  [Reflectively.]  Oh!

MRS. GWYN.  Why?  Have you been having any?

JOY.  [Glancing at MRS. GWYN, and then down.]  N-o, of course not!

MRS. GWYN.  Where are they all?  Where's Peachey?

JOY.  Fussing about somewhere; don't let's hurry!  Oh! you duckie--
duckie!  Aren't there any letters from Dad?

MRS. GWYN.  [In a harder voice.]  Yes, one or two.

JOY.  [Hesitating.]  Can't I see?

MRS. GWYN.  I didn't bring them.  [Changing the subject obviously.]
Help me to tidy--I'm so hot I don't know what to do.

     [She takes out a powder-puff bag, with a tiny looking-glass.]

JOY.  How lovely it'll be to-morrow-going home!

MRS. GWYN.  [With an uneasy look.]  London's dreadfully stuffy, Joy.
You 'll only get knocked up again.

JOY.  [With consternation.]  Oh!  but Mother, I must come.

MRS. GWYN.  (Forcing a smile.) Oh, well, if you must, you must!

     [Joy makes a dash at her.]

Don't rumple me again.  Here's Uncle Tom.

JOY.  [Quickly.]  Mother, we're going to dance tonight; promise to
dance with me--there are three more girls than men, at least--and
don't dance too much with--with--you know--because I'm--[dropping her
voice and very still]--jealous.

MRS. GWYN.  [Forcing a laugh.]  You are funny!

JOY.  [Very quickly.] I haven't made any engagements because of you.

     [The COLONEL approaches through the wall.]

MRS. GWYN.  Well, Uncle Tom?

COLONEL.  [Genially.]  Why, Molly! [He kisses her.]  What made you
come by the towing-path?

JOY.  Because it's so much cooler, of course.

COLONEL.  Hallo!  What's the matter with you?  Phew!  you've got your
hair up!  Go and tell your aunt your mother's on the lawn.  Cut
along!

     [Joy goes, blowing a kiss.]

Cracked about you, Molly!  Simply cracked!  We shall miss her when
you take her off to-morrow.  [He places a chair for her.]  Sit down,
sit down, you must be tired in this heat.  I 've sent Bob for your
things with the wheelbarrow; what have you got?--only a bag, I
suppose.

MRS. GWYN.  [Sitting, with a smile.]  That's all, Uncle Tom, except--
my trunk and hat-box.

COLONEL.  Phew!  And what's-his-name brought a bag, I suppose?

MRS. GWYN.  They're all together.  I hope it's not too much, Uncle
Tom.

COLONEL.  [Dubiously.]  Oh! Bob'll manage!  I suppose you see a good
deal of--of--Lever.  That's his brother in the Guards, isn't it?

MRS. GWYN.  Yes.

COLONEL.  Now what does this chap do?

MRS. GWYN.  What should he do, Uncle Tom?  He's a Director.

COLONEL.  Guinea-pig!  [Dubiously.]  Your bringing him down was a
good idea.

     [MRS. GWYN, looking at him sidelong, bites her lips.]

I should like to have a look at him.  But, I say, you know, Molly--
mines, mines!  There are a lot of these chaps about, whose business
is to cook their own dinners.  Your aunt thinks----

MRS. GWYN.  Oh!  Uncle Tom, don't tell me what Aunt Nell thinks!

COLONEL.  Well-well!  Look here, old girl!  It's my experience never
to--what I mean is--never to trust too much to a man who has to do
with mining.  I've always refused to have anything to do with mines.
If your husband were in England, of course, I'd say nothing.

MRS. GWYN.  [Very still.]  We'd better keep him out of the question,
had n't we?

COLONEL.  Of course, if you wish it, my dear.

MRS. GWYN.  Unfortunately, I do.

COLONEL.  [Nervously.]  Ah!  yes, I know; but look here, Molly, your
aunt thinks you're in a very delicate position-in fact, she thinks
you see too much of young Lever.

MRS. GWYN.  [Stretching herself like an angry cat.]  Does she?  And
what do you think?

COLONEL.  I?  I make a point of not thinking.  I only know that here
he is, and I don't want you to go burning your fingers, eh?

     [MRS. GWYN sits with a vindictive smile.]

A gold mine's a gold mine.  I don't mean he deliberately--but they
take in women and parsons, and--and all sorts of fools.  [Looking
down.]  And then, you know, I can't tell your feelings, my dear, and
I don't want to; but a man about town 'll compromise a woman as soon
as he'll look at her, and [softly shaking his head]  I don't like
that, Molly!  It 's not the thing!

     [MRS. GWYN sits unmoved, smiling the same smile, and the COLONEL
     gives her a nervous look.]

If--if you were any other woman I should n't care--and if--if you
were a plain woman, damme, you might do what you liked!  I know you
and Geoff don't get on; but here's this child of yours, devoted to
you, and--and don't you see, old girl?  Eh?

MRS. GWYN.  [With a little hard laugh.]  Thanks!  Perfectly!  I
suppose as you don't think, Uncle Tom, it never occurred to you that
I have rather a lonely time of it.

COLONEL.  [With compunction.]  Oh!  my dear, yes, of course I know it
must be beastly.

MRS. GWYN.  [Stonily.]  It is.

COLONEL.  Yes, yes!  [Speaking in a surprised voice.]  I don't know
what I 'm talking like this for!  It's your aunt!  She goes on at me
till she gets on my nerves.  What d' you think she wants me to do
now?  Put money into this gold mine!  Did you ever hear such folly?

MRS. GWYN.  [Breaking into laughter.]  Oh! Uncle Tom!

COLONEL.  All very well for you to laugh, Molly!

MRS. GWYN.  [Calmly.]  And how much are you going to put in?

COLONEL.  Not a farthing!  Why, I've got nothing but my pension and
three thousand India stock!

MRS. GWYN.  Only ninety pounds a year, besides your pension!  D' you
mean to say that's all you've got, Uncle Tom?  I never knew that
before.  What a shame!

COLONEL.  [Feelingly.]  It is a d--d shame!  I don't suppose there's
another case in the army of a man being treated as I've been.

MRS. GWYN.  But how on earth do you manage here on so little?

COLONEL.  [Brooding.]  Your aunt's very funny.  She's a born manager.
She 'd manage the hind leg off a donkey; but if I want five shillings
for a charity or what not, I have to whistle for it.  And then all of
a sudden, Molly, she'll take it into her head to spend goodness knows
what on some trumpery or other and come to me for the money.  If I
have n't got it to give her, out she flies about 3 per cent., and
worries me to invest in some wild-cat or other, like your friend's
thing, the Jaco what is it?  I don't pay the slightest attention to
her.

MRS. HOPE.  [From the direction of the house.]  Tom!

COLONEL.  [Rising.]  Yes, dear!  [Then dropping his voice.]  I say,
Molly, don't you mind what I said about young Lever.  I don't want
you to imagine that I think harm of people--you know I don't--but so
many women come to grief, and--[hotly]--I can't stand men about town;
not that he of course----

MRS. HOPE, [Peremptorily.]  Tom!

COLONEL.  [In hasty confidence.]  I find it best to let your aunt run
on.  If she says anything----

MRS. HOPE.  To-om!

COLONEL.  Yes, dear!

     [He goes hastily.  MRS. GWYN sits drawing circles on the ground
     with her charming parasol.  Suddenly she springs to her feet,
     and stands waiting like an animal at bay.  The COLONEL and MRS.
     HOPE approach her talking.]

MRS. HOPE.  Well, how was I to know?

COLONEL.  Did n't Joy come and tell you?

MRS. HOPE.  I don't know what's the matter with that child?  Well,
Molly, so here you are.  You're before your time--that train's always
late.

MRS. GWYN.  [With faint irony.]  I'm sorry, Aunt Nell!

     [They bob, seem to take fright, and kiss each other gingerly.]

MRS. HOPE.  What have you done with Mr. Lever?  I shall have to put
him in Peachey's room.  Tom's got no champagne.

COLONEL.  They've a very decent brand down at the George, Molly, I'll
send Bob over----

MRS. HOPE.  Rubbish, Tom!  He'll just have to put up with what he can
get!

MRS. GWYN.  Of course!  He's not a snob!  For goodness sake, Aunt
Nell, don't put yourself out!  I'm sorry I suggested his coming.

COLONEL.  My dear, we ought to have champagne in the house--in case
of accident.

MRS.  GWYN.  [Shaking him gently by the coat.]  No, please, Uncle
Tom!

MRS. HOPE.  [Suddenly.]  Now, I've told your uncle, Molly, that he's
not to go in for this gold mine without making certain it's a good
thing.  Mind, I think you've been very rash.  I'm going to give you a
good talking to; and that's not all--you ought n't to go about like
this with a young man; he's not at all bad looking.  I remember him
perfectly well at the Fleming's dance.

     [On MRS. GWYN's lips there comes a little mocking smile.]

COLONEL.  [Pulling his wife's sleeve.]  Nell!

MRS. HOPE.  No, Tom, I'm going to talk to Molly; she's old enough to
know better.

MRS. GWYN.  Yes?

MRS. HOPE.  Yes, and you'll get yourself into a mess; I don't approve
of it, and when I see a thing I don't approve of----

COLONEL.  [Walking about, and pulling his moustache.]  Nell, I won't
have it, I simply won't have it.

MRS. HOPE.  What rate of interest are these Preference shares to pay?

MRS. GWYN.  [Still smiling.]  Ten per cent.

MRS. HOPE.  What did I tell you, Tom?  And are they safe?

MRS. GWYN.  You'd better ask Maurice.

MRS. HOPE.  There, you see, you call him Maurice!  Now supposing your
uncle went in for some of them----

COLONEL.  [Taking off his hat-in a high, hot voice]  I'm not going in
for anything of the sort.

MRS. HOPE.  Don't swing your hat by the brim!  Go and look if you can
see him coming!

     [The COLONEL goes.]

[In a lower voice.]  Your uncle's getting very bald.  I 've only
shoulder of lamb for lunch, and a salad.  It's lucky it's too hot to
eat.

     [MISS BEECH has appeared while she is speaking.]

Here she is, Peachey!

MISS BEECH.  I see her.  [She kisses MRS. GWYN, and looks at her
intently.]

MRS. GWYN.  [Shrugging her shoulders.]  Well, Peachey!  What d 'you
make of me?

COLONEL.  [Returning from his search.]  There's a white hat crossing
the second stile.  Is that your friend, Molly?

     [MRS. GWYN nods.]

MRS. HOPE.  Oh!  before I forget, Peachey--Letty and Ernest can move
their things back again.  I'm going to put Mr. Lever in your room.
[Catching sight o f the paint pot on the ground.]  There's that
disgusting paint pot!  Take it up at once, Tom, and put it in the
tree.

     [The COLONEL picks up the pot and bears it to the hollow tree
     followed by MRS. HOPE; he enters.]

MRS. HOPE.  [Speaking into the tree.]  Not there!

COLONEL.  [From within.]  Well, where then?

MRS. HOPE.  Why--up--oh!  gracious!

     [MRS. GWYN, standing alone, is smiling.  LEVER approaches from
     the towing-path.  He is a man like a fencer's wrist, supple and
     steely.  A man whose age is difficult to tell, with a quick,
     good-looking face, and a line between his brows; his darkish
     hair is flecked with grey.  He gives the feeling that he has
     always had to spurt to keep pace with his own life.]

MRS. HOPE.  [Also entering the hollow tree.]  No-oh!

COLONEL.  [From the depths, in a high voice.]  Well, dash it then!
What do you want?

MRS. GWYN.  Peachey, may I introduce Mr. Lever to you?  Miss Beech,
my old governess.

     [They shake each other by the hand.]

LEVER.  How do you do?  [His voice is pleasant, his manner easy.]

MISS BEECH.  Pleased to meet you.

     [Her manner is that of one who is not pleased. She watches.]

MRS. GWYN.  [Pointing to the tree-maliciously.]  This is my uncle and
my aunt.  They're taking exercise, I think.

     [The COLONEL and MRS. HOPE emerge convulsively.  They are very
     hot.  LEVER and MRS. GWYN are very cool.]

MRS.  HOPE.  [Shaking hands with him.]  So you 've got here!  Are n't
you very hot?--Tom!

COLONEL.  Brought a splendid day with you!  Splendid!

     [As he speaks, Joy comes running with a bunch of roses; seeing
     LEVER, she stops and stands quite rigid.]

MISS BEECH.  [Sitting in the swing.]  Thunder!

COLONEL.  Thunder?  Nonsense, Peachey, you're always imagining
something.  Look at the sky!

MISS BEECH.  Thunder!

     [MRS. GWYN's smile has faded. ]

MRS. HOPE.  [Turning.]  Joy, don't you see Mr. Lever?

     [Joy, turning to her mother, gives her the roses.  With a forced
     smile, LEVER advances, holding out his hand.]

LEVER.  How are you, Joy?  Have n't seen you for an age!

JOY.  [Without expression.]  I am very well, thank you.

     [She raises her hand, and just touches his.  MRS. GWYN'S eyes
     are fixed on her daughter.  Miss BEECH is watching them
     intently.  MRS. HOPE is buttoning the COLONEL'S coat.]


                         The curtain falls.





ACT II

     It is afternoon, and at a garden-table placed beneath the hollow
     tree, the COLONEL is poring over plans.  Astride of a
     garden-chair, LEVER is smoking cigarettes.  DICK is hanging
     Chinese lanterns to the hollow tree.

LEVER.  Of course, if this level [pointing with his cigarette]
peters out to the West we shall be in a tightish place; you know what
a mine is at this stage, Colonel Hope.

COLONEL.  [Absently.]  Yes, yes.  [Tracing a line.]  What is there to
prevent its running out here to the East?

LEVER.  Well, nothing, except that as a matter of fact it doesn't.

COLONEL.  [With some excitement.]  I'm very glad you showed me these
papers, very glad!  I say that it's a most astonishing thing if the
ore suddenly stops there.  [A gleam of humour visits LEVER'S face.]
I'm not an expert, but you ought to prove that ground to the East
more thoroughly.

LEVER.  [Quizzically.]  Of course, sir, if you advise that----

COLONEL.  If it were mine, I'd no more sit down under the belief that
the ore stopped there than I 'd---There's a harmony in these things.

NEVER.  I can only tell you what our experts say.

COLONEL.  Ah!  Experts!  No faith in them--never had!  Miners,
lawyers, theologians, cowardly lot--pays them to be cowardly.  When
they have n't their own axes to grind, they've got their theories; a
theory's a dangerous thing.  [He loses himself in contemplation of
the papers.]  Now my theory is, you 're in strata here of what we
call the Triassic Age.

LEVER.  [Smiling faintly.]  Ah!

COLONEL.  You've struck a fault, that's what's happened.  The ore may
be as much as thirty or forty yards out; but it 's there, depend on
it.

LEVER.  Would you back that opinion, sir?

COLONEL.  [With dignity.]  I never give an opinion that I'm not
prepared to back.  I want to get to the bottom of this.  What's to
prevent the gold going down indefinitely?

LEVER.  Nothing, so far as I know.

COLONEL.  [With suspicion.]  Eh!

LEVER.  All I can tell you is: This is as far as we've got, and we
want more money before we can get any farther.

COLONEL.  [Absently.]  Yes, yes; that's very usual.

LEVER.  If you ask my personal opinion I think it's very doubtful
that the gold does go down.

COLONEL.  [Smiling.]  Oh!  a personal opinion a matter of this sort!

LEVER.  [As though about to take the papers.]  Perhaps we'd better
close the sitting, sir; sorry to have bored you.

COLONEL.  Now, now!  Don't be so touchy!  If I'm to put money in, I'm
bound to look at it all round.

LEVER.  [With lifted brows.]  Please don't imagine that I want you to
put money in.

COLONEL.  Confound it, sir!  D 'you suppose I take you for a Company
promoter?

LEVER.  Thank you!

COLONEL.  [Looking at him doubtfully.]  You've got Irish blood in
you--um?  You're so hasty!

LEVER.  If you 're really thinking of taking shares--my advice to you
is, don't!

COLONEL.  [Regretfully.]  If this were an ordinary gold mine, I
wouldn't dream of looking at it, I want you to understand that.
Nobody has a greater objection to gold mines than I.

LEVER.  [Looks down at his host with half-closed eyes.]  But it is a
gold mine, Colonel Hope.

COLONEL.  I know, I know; but I 've been into it for myself; I've
formed my opinion personally.  Now, what 's the reason you don't want
me to invest?

LEVER.  Well, if it doesn't turn out as you expect, you'll say it's
my doing.  I know what investors are.

COLONEL.  [Dubiously.]  If it were a Westralian or a Kaffir I would
n't touch it with a pair of tongs!  It 's not as if I were going to
put much in!  [He suddenly bends above the papers as though
magnetically attracted.] I like these Triassic formations!

     [DICK, who has hung the last lantern, moodily departs.]

LEVER.  [Looking after him.]  That young man seems depressed.

COLONEL.  [As though remembering his principles.]  I don't like
mines, never have!  [Suddenly absorbed again.]  I tell you what,
Lever--this thing's got tremendous possibilities.  You don't seem to
believe in it enough.  No mine's any good without faith; until I see
for myself, however, I shan't commit myself beyond a thousand.

LEVER.  Are you serious, sir?

COLONEL.  Certainly!  I've been thinking it over ever since you told
me Henty had fought shy.  I 've a poor opinion of Henty.  He's one of
those fellows that says one thing and does another.  An opportunist!

LEVER.  [Slowly.]  I'm afraid we're all that, more or less.  [He sits
beneath the hollow tree.]

COLONEL.  A man never knows what he is himself.  There 's my wife.
She thinks she 's----By the way, don't say anything to her about
this, please.  And, Lever [nervously], I don't think, you know, this
is quite the sort of thing for my niece.

LEVER.  [Quietly.]  I agree.  I mean to get her out of it.

COLONEL.  [A little taken aback.]  Ah!  You know, she--she's in a
very delicate position, living by herself in London.  [LEVER looks at
him ironically.]  You  [very nervously]  see a good deal of her?  If
it had n't been for Joy growing so fast, we shouldn't have had the
child down here.  Her mother ought to have her with her.  Eh!  Don't
you think so?

LEVER.  [Forcing a smile.]  Mrs. Gwyn always seems to me to get on
all right.

COLONEL.  [As though making a discovery.]  You know, I've found that
when a woman's living alone and unprotected, the very least thing
will set a lot of hags and jackanapes talking.  [Hotly.]  The more
unprotected and helpless a woman is, the more they revel in it.  If
there's anything I hate in this world, it's those wretched creatures
who babble about their neighbours' affairs.

LEVER.  I agree with you.

COLONEL.  One ought to be very careful not to give them--that is----
[checks himself confused; then hurrying on]--I suppose you and Joy
get on all right?

LEVER.  [Coolly.]  Pretty well, thanks.  I'm not exactly in Joy's
line; have n't seen very much of her, in fact.

     [Miss BEECH and JOY have been approaching from the house.  But
     seeing LEVER, JOY turns abruptly, hesitates a moment, and with
     an angry gesture goes away.]

COLONEL [Unconscious.]  Wonderfully affectionate little thing!  Well,
she'll be going home to-morrow!

MISS BEECH.  [Who has been gazing after JOY.]  Talkin' business, poor
creatures?

LEVER.  Oh, no!  If you'll excuse me, I'll wash my hands before tea.

     [He glances at the COLONEL poring over papers, and, shrugging
     his shoulders, strolls away.]

MISS BEECH.  [Sitting in the swing.]  I see your horrid papers.

COLONEL.  Be quiet, Peachey!

MISS BEECH.  On a beautiful summer's day, too.

COLONEL.  That'll do now.

MISS BEECH.  [Unmoved.]  For every ounce you take out of a gold mine
you put two in.

COLONEL.  Who told you that rubbish?

MISS BEECH. [With devilry.]  You did!

COLONEL.  This is n't an ordinary gold mine.

MISS BEECH.  Oh! quite a special thing.

     [COLONEL stares at her, but subsiding at hey impassivity, he
     pores again over the papers.]

     [Rosy has approached with a tea cloth.]

ROSE.  If you please, sir, the Missis told me to lay the tea.

COLONEL.  Go away!  Ten fives fifty.  Ten 5 16ths, Peachey?

MISS BEECH.  I hate your nasty sums!

     [ROSE goes away.  The COLONEL Writes.  MRS. HOPE'S voice is
     heard, "Now then, bring those chairs, you two.  Not that one,
     Ernest."  ERNEST and LETTY appear through the openings of the
     wall, each with a chair.]

COLONEL.  [With dull exasperation.]  What do you want?

LETTY.  Tea, Father.

     [She places her chair and goes away.]

ERNEST.  That Johnny-bird Lever is too cocksure for me, Colonel.
Those South American things are no good at all.  I know all about
them from young Scrotton.  There's not one that's worth a red cent.
If you want a flutter----

COLONEL.  [Explosively.]  Flutter!  I'm not a gambler, sir!

ERNEST.  Well, Colonel [with a smile], I only don't want you to chuck
your money away on a stiff 'un.  If you want anything good you should
go to Mexico.

COLONEL.  [Jumping up and holding out the map.]  Go to  [He stops in
time.]  What d'you call that, eh?  M-E-X----

ERNEST.  [Not to be embarrassed.]  It all depend on what part.

COLONEL.  You think you know everything--you think nothing's right
unless it's your own idea!  Be good enough to keep your advice to
yourself.

ERNEST.  [Moving with his chair, and stopping with a smile.]  If you
ask me, I should say it wasn't playing the game to put Molly into a
thing like that.

COLONEL.  What do you mean, sir?

ERNEST.  Any Juggins can see that she's a bit gone on our friend.

COLONEL.  [Freezingly.]  Indeed!

ERNEST.  He's not at all the sort of Johnny that appeals to me.

COLONEL.  Really?

ERNEST.  [Unmoved.]  If I were you, Colonel, I should tip her the
wink.  He was hanging about her at Ascot all the time.  It 's a bit
thick!

     [MRS. HOPE followed by ROSE appears from the house.]

COLONEL.  [Stammering with passion.]  Jackanapes!

MRS. HOPE.  Don't stand there, Tom; clear those papers, and let Rose
lay the table.  Now, Ernest, go and get another chair.

     [The COLONEL looks wildly round and sits beneath the hollow
     tree, with his head held in his hands.  ROSE lays the cloth.]

MRS. BEECH.  [Sitting beside the COLONEL.]  Poor creature!

ERNEST.  [Carrying his chair about with him.]  Ask any Johnny in the
City, he 'll tell you Mexico's a very tricky country--the people are
awful rotters.

MRS. HOPE.  Put that chair down, Ernest.

     [ERNEST looks at the chair, puts it down, opens his mouth, and
     goes away.  ROSE follows him.]

What's he been talking about?  You oughtn't to get so excited, Tom;
is your head bad, old man?  Here, take these papers!  [She hands the
papers to the COLONEL.]  Peachey, go in and tell them tea 'll be
ready in a minute, there 's a good soul?  Oh! and on my dressing
table you'll find a bottle of Eau de Cologne.

MRS. BEECH.  Don't let him get in a temper again.  That 's three
times to-day!

     [She goes towards the house. ]

COLONEL.  Never met such a fellow in my life, the most opinionated,
narrow-minded--thinks he knows everything.  Whatever Letty could see
in him I can't think.  Pragmatical beggar!

MRS. HOPE.  Now Tom!  What have you been up to, to get into a state
like this?

COLONEL.  [Avoiding her eyes.]  I shall lose my temper with him one
of these days.  He's got that confounded habit of thinking nobody can
be right but himself.

MRS. HOPE.  That's enough!  I want to talk to you seriously!  Dick's
in love.  I'm perfectly certain of it.

COLONEL.  Love!  Who's he in love with--Peachey?

MRS. HOPE.  You can see it all over him.  If I saw any signs of Joy's
breaking out, I'd send them both away.  I simply won't have it.

COLONEL.  Why, she's a child!

MRS. HOPE.  [Pursuing her own thoughts.]  But she isn't--not yet.
I've been watching her very carefully.  She's more in love with her
Mother than any one, follows her about like a dog!  She's been quite
rude to Mr. Lever.

COLONEL.  [Pursuing his own thoughts.]  I don't believe a word of it.

     [He rises and walks about]

MRS. HOPE.  Don't believe a word of what?

     [The COLONEL is Silent.]

     [Pursuing his thoughts with her own.]

If I thought there was anything between Molly and Mr. Lever, d 'you
suppose I'd have him in the house?

     [The COLONEL stops, and gives a sort of grunt.]

He's a very nice fellow; and I want you to pump him well, Tom, and
see what there is in this mine.

COLONEL.  [Uneasily.]  Pump!

MRS. HOPE.  [Looking at him curiously.]  Yes, you 've been up to
something!  Now what is it?

COLONEL.  Pump my own guest!  I never heard of such a thing!

MRS. HOPE.  There you are on your high horse!  I do wish you had a
little common-sense, Tom!

COLONEL.  I'd as soon you asked me to sneak about eavesdropping!
Pump!

MRS. HOPE.  Well, what were you looking at these papers for?  It does
drive me so wild the way you throw away all the chances you have of
making a little money.  I've got you this opportunity, and you do
nothing but rave up and down, and talk nonsense!

COLONEL.  [In a high voice]  Much you know about it!  I 've taken a
thousand shares in this mine--

     [He stops dead.  There is a silence. ]

MRS. HOPE.  You 've--WHAT?  Without consulting me?  Well, then,
you 'll just go and take them out again!

COLONEL.  You want me to----?

MRS. HOPE.  The idea!  As if you could trust your judgment in a thing
like that!  You 'll just go at once and say there was a mistake; then
we 'll talk it over calmly.

COLONEL. [Drawing himself up.]  Go back on what I 've said?  Not if I
lose every penny!  First you worry me to take the shares, and then
you worry me not--I won't have it, Nell, I won't have it!

MRS. HOPE.  Well, if I'd thought you'd have forgotten what you said
this morning and turned about like this, d'you suppose I'd have
spoken to you at all?  Now, do you?

COLONEL.  Rubbish!  If you can't see that this is a special
opportunity!

     [He walks away followed by MRS. HOPE, who endeavors to make him
     see her point of view.  ERNEST and LETTY are now returning from
     the house armed with a third chair.]

LETTY.  What's the matter with everybody?  Is it the heat?

ERNEST.  [Preoccupied and sitting in the swing.]  That sportsman,
Lever, you know, ought to be warned off.

LETTY.  [Signing to ERNEST.]  Where's Miss Joy, Rose?

ROSE.  Don't know, Miss.

     [Putting down the tray, she goes.]


     [ROSE, has followed with the tea tray.]

LETTY.  Ernie, be careful, you never know where Joy is.

ERNEST.  [Preoccupied with his reflections.]  Your old Dad 's as mad
as a hatter with me.

LETTY.  Why?

ERNEST.  Well, I merely said what I thought, that Molly ought to look
out what's she's doing, and he dropped on me like a cartload of
bricks.

LETTY.  The Dad's very fond of Molly.

ERNEST.  But look here, d'you mean to tell me that she and Lever
are n't----

LETTY.  Don't!  Suppose they are!  If joy were to hear it'd be simply
awful.  I like Molly.  I 'm not going to believe anything against
her.  I don't see the use of it.  If it is, it is, and if it is n't,
it is n't.

ERNEST.  Well, all I know is that when I told her the mine was
probably a frost she went for me like steam.

LETTY.  Well, so should I.  She was only sticking up for her friends.

ERNEST.  Ask the old Peachey-bird.  She knows a thing or two.  Look
here, I don't mind a man's being a bit of a sportsman, but I think
Molly's bringin' him down here is too thick.  Your old Dad's got one
of his notions that because this Josser's his guest, he must keep him
in a glass case, and take shares in his mine, and all the rest of it.

LETTY.  I do think people are horrible, always thinking things.  It's
not as if Molly were a stranger.  She's my own cousin.  I 'm not
going to believe anything about my own cousin.  I simply won't.

ERNEST.  [Reluctantly realising the difference that this makes.]  I
suppose it does make a difference, her bein' your cousin.

LETTY.  Of course it does!  I only hope to goodness no one will make
Joy suspect----

     [She stops and buts her finger to her lips, for JOY is coming
     towards them, as the tea-bell sounds.  She is followed by DICK
     and MISS BEECH with the Eau de Cologne.  The COLONEL and MRS.
     HOPE are also coming back, discussing still each other's point
     of view.]

JOY.  Where 's Mother?  Isn't she here?

MRS. HOPE.  Now Joy, come and sit down; your mother's been told tea's
ready; if she lets it get cold it's her lookout.

DICK.  [Producing a rug, and spreading it beneath the tree.]  Plenty
of room, Joy.

JOY.  I don't believe Mother knows, Aunt Nell.

     [MRS. GWYN and LEVER appear in the opening of the wall.]

LETTY.  [Touching ERNEST's arm.]  Look, Ernie!  Four couples and
Peachey----

ERNEST.  [Preoccupied.]  What couples?

JOY.  Oh!  Mums, here you are!

     [Seizing her, she turns her back on LEVER.  They sit in various
     seats, and MRS. HOPE pours out the tea.]

MRS. HOPE.  Hand the sandwiches to Mr. Lever, Peachey.  It's our own
jam, Mr. Lever.

LEVER.  Thanks.  [He takes a bite.]  It's splendid!

MRS. GWYN.  [With forced gaiety.]  It's the first time I've ever seen
you eat jam.

LEVER.  [Smiling a forced smile.]  Really!  But I love it.

MRS. GWYN.  [With a little bow.]  You always refuse mine.

JOY.  [Who has been staring at her enemy, suddenly.]  I'm all burnt
up!  Are n't you simply boiled, Mother?

     [She touches her Mother's forehead.]

MRS. GWYN.  Ugh!  You're quite clammy, Joy.

JOY.  It's enough to make any one clammy.

     [Her eyes go back to LEVER'S face as though to stab him.]

ERNEST.  [From the swing.]  I say, you know, the glass is going down.

LEVER.  [Suavely.]  The glass in the hall's steady enough.

ERNEST.  Oh, I never go by that; that's a rotten old glass.

COLONEL.  Oh! is it?

ERNEST.  [Paying no attention.]  I've got a little ripper--never puts
you in the cart.  Bet you what you like we have thunder before
tomorrow night.

MISS BEECH.  [Removing her gaze from JOY to LEVER.]  You don't think
we shall have it before to-night, do you?

LEVER.  [Suavely.]  I beg your pardon; did you speak to me?

MISS BEECH.  I said, you don't think we shall have the thunder before
to-night, do you?

     [She resumes her watch on joy.]

LEVER.  [Blandly.]  Really, I don't see any signs of it.

     [Joy, crossing to the rug, flings herself down.  And DICK sits
     cross-legged, with his eyes fast fixed on her.]

MISS BEECH.  [Eating.]  People don't often see what they don't want
to, do they?

     [LEVER only lifts his brows.]

MRS. GWYN.  [Quickly breaking ivy.]  What are you talking about?  The
weather's perfect.

MISS BEECH.  Isn't it?

MRS. HOPE.  You'd better make a good tea, Peachey; nobody'll get
anything till eight, and then only cold shoulder.  You must just put
up with no hot dinner, Mr. Lever.

LEVER.  [Bowing.]  Whatever is good enough for Miss Beech is good
enough for me.

MISS BEECH.  [Sardonically-taking another sandwich.]  So you think!

MRS. GWYN.  [With forced gaiety.]  Don't be so absurd, Peachey.

     [MISS BEECH, grunts slightly.]

COLONEL.  [Once more busy with his papers.]  I see the name of your
engineer is Rodriguez--Italian, eh?

LEVER.  Portuguese.

COLONEL.  Don't like that!

LEVER.  I believe he was born in England.

COLONEL.  [Reassured.]  Oh, was he?  Ah!

ERNEST.  Awful rotters, those Portuguese!

COLONEL.  There you go!

LETTY.  Well, Father, Ernie only said what you said.

MRS. HOPE.  Now I want to ask you, Mr. Lever, is this gold mine safe?
If it isn't--I simply won't allow Tom to take these shares; he can't
afford it.

LEVER.  It rather depends on what you call safe, Mrs. Hope.

MRS. HOPE.  I don't want anything extravagant, of course; if they're
going to pay their 10 per cent, regularly, and Tom can have his money
out at any time--[There is a faint whistle from the swing.]  I only
want to know that it's a thoroughly genuine thing.

MRS. GWYN.  [Indignantly.]  As if Maurice would be a Director if it
was n't?

MRS. HOPE.  Now Molly, I'm simply asking----

MRS. GWYN.  Yes, you are!

COLONEL.  [Rising.]  I'll take two thousand of those shares, Lever.
To have my wife talk like that--I 'm quite ashamed.

LEVER.  Oh, come, sir, Mrs. Hope only meant----

     [MRS. GWYN looks eagerly at LEVER.]

DICK.  [Quietly.]  Let's go on the river, Joy.

     [JOY rises, and goes to her Mother's chair.]

MRS. HOPE.  Of course!  What rubbish, Tom!  As if any one ever
invested money without making sure!

LEVER.  [Ironically.]  It seems a little difficult to make sure in
this case.  There isn't the smallest necessity for Colonel Hope to
take any shares, and it looks to me as if he'd better not.

     [He lights a cigarette.]

MRS. HOPE.  Now, Mr. Lever, don't be offended!  I'm very anxious for
Tom to take the shares if you say the thing's so good.

LEVER.  I 'm afraid I must ask to be left out, please.

JOY.  [Whispering.]  Mother, if you've finished, do come, I want to
show you my room.

MRS. HOPE.  I would n't say a word, only Tom's so easily taken in.

MRS. GWYN.  [Fiercely.]  Aunt Nell, how can't you? [Joy gives a
little savage laugh.]

LETTY.  [Hastily.]  Ernie, will you play Dick and me?  Come on, Dick!

     [All three go out towards the lawn.]

MRS. HOPE.  You ought to know your Uncle by this time, Molly.  He's
just like a child.  He'd be a pauper to-morrow if I did n't see to
things.

COLONEL.  Understand once for all that I shall take two thousand
shares in this mine.  I 'm--I 'm humiliated.  [He turns and goes
towards the house.]

MRS. HOPE.  Well, what on earth have I said?

     [She hurries after him. ]

MRS. GWYN.  [In a low voice as she passes.]  You need n't insult my
friends!

     [LEVER, shrugging his shoulders, has strolled aside.  JOY, with
     a passionate movement seen only by Miss BEECH, goes off towards
     the house.  MISS BEECH and MRS. GWYN aye left alone beside the
     remnants of the feast.]

MISS BEECH.  Molly!

     [MRS. GWYN looks up startled.]

Take care, Molly, take care!  The child!  Can't you see?
[Apostrophising LEVER.]  Take care, Molly, take care!

LEVER.  [Coming back.]  Awfully hot, is n't it?

MISS BEECH.  Ah!  and it'll be hotter if we don't mind.

LEVER.  [Suavely.]  Do we control these things?

     [MISS BEECH looking from face to face, nods her head repeatedly;
     then gathering her skirts she walks towards the house.  MRS.
     GWYN sits motionless, staying before her.]

Extraordinary old lady!  [He pitches away his cigarette.]  What's the
matter with her, Molly?

MRS. GWYN, [With an effort.]  Oh!  Peachey's a character!

LEVER.  [Frowning.]  So I see!  [There is a silence.]

MRS. GWYN.  Maurice!

LEVER.  Yes.

MRS. GWYN.  Aunt Nell's hopeless, you mustn't mind her.

LEVER.  [In a dubious and ironic voice.]  My dear girl, I 've too
much to bother me to mind trifles like that.

MRS. GWYN.  [Going to him suddenly.]  Tell me, won't you?

     [LEVER shrugs his shoulders.]

A month ago you'd have told me soon enough!

LEVER.  Now, Molly!

MRS. GWYN.  Ah!  [With a bitter smile.]  The Spring's soon over.

LEVER.  It 's always Spring between us.

MRS. GWYN.  Is it?

LEVER.  You did n't tell me what you were thinking about just now
when you sat there like stone.

MRS. GWYN.  It does n't do for a woman to say too much.

LEVER.  Have I been so bad to you that you need feel like that,
Molly?

MRS. GWYN.  [With a little warm squeeze of his arm.]  Oh!  my dear,
it's only that I'm so---

[She stops.]

LEVER.  [Gently].  So what?

MRS. GWYN.  [In a low voice.]  It's hateful here.

LEVER.  I didn't want to come.  I don't understand why you suggested
it.  [MRS. GWYN is silent.]  It's been a mistake.

MRS. GWYN.  [Her eyes fixed on the ground.]  Joy comes home
to-morrow.  I thought if I brought you here--I should know----

LEVER.  [Vexedly.]  Um!

MRS. GWYN.  [Losing her control.]  Can't you SEE?  It haunts me?  How
are we to go on?  I must know--I must know!

LEVER.  I don't see that my coming----

MRS. GWYN.  I thought I should have more confidence; I thought I
should be able to face it better in London, if you came down here
openly--and now--I feel I must n't speak or look at you.

LEVER.  You don't think your Aunt----

MRS. GWYN.  [Scornfully.]  She!  It's only Joy I care about.

LEVER.  [Frowning.]  We must be more careful, that's all.  We mustn't
give ourselves away again, as we were doing just now.

MRS. GWYN.  When any one says anything horrid to you, I can't help
it.

     [She puts her hand on the label of his coat.]

LEVER.  My dear child, take care!

     [MRS. GWYN drops her hand.  She throws her head back, and her
     throat is seen to work as though she were gulping down a bitter
     draught.  She moves away.]

[Following hastily.]  Don't dear, don't!  I only meant--Come, Molly,
let's be sensible.  I want to tell you something about the mine.

MRS. GWYN.  [With a quavering smile.]  Yes-let 's talk sensibly, and
walk properly in this sensible, proper place.

     [LEVER is seen trying to soothe her, and yet to walk properly.
     As they disappear, they are viewed by JOY, who, like the shadow
     parted from its figure, has come to join it again.  She stands
     now, foiled, a carnation in her hand; then flings herself on a
     chair, and leans her elbows on the table.]

JOY.  I hate him!  Pig!

ROSE.  [Who has come to clear the tea things.]  Did you call, Miss?

JOY.  Not you!

ROSE.  [Motionless.]  No, Miss!

JOY.  [Leaning back and tearing the flower.]  Oh! do hurry up, Rose!

ROSE.  [Collects the tea things.]  Mr. Dick's coming down the path!
Aren't I going to get you to do your frock, Miss Joy?

JOY.  No.

ROSE.  What will the Missis say?

JOY.  Oh, don't be so stuck, Rose!

     [ROSE goes, but DICK has come.]

DICK.  Come on the river, Joy, just for half an hour, as far as the
kingfishers--do!  [Joy shakes her head.]  Why not?  It 'll be so
jolly and cool.  I'm most awfully sorry if I worried you this
morning.  I didn't mean to.  I won't again, I promise.  [Joy slides a
look at him, and from that look he gains a little courage.]  Do come!
It'll be the last time.  I feel it awfully, Joy.

JOY.  There's nothing to hurt you!

DICK. [Gloomily.]  Isn't there--when you're like this?

JOY.  [In a hard voice.]  If you don't like me, why do you follow me
about?

DICK.  What is the matter?

JOY.  [Looking up, as if for want of air.]  Oh!  Don't!

DICK.  Oh, Joy, what is the matter?  Is it the heat?

JOY.  [With a little laugh.]  Yes.

DICK.  Have some Eau de Cologne.  I 'll make you a bandage.  [He
takes the Eau de Cologne, and makes a bandage with his handkerchief.]
It's quite clean.

JOY.  Oh, Dick, you are so funny!

DICK.  [Bandaging her forehead.]  I can't bear you to feel bad; it
puts me off completely.  I mean I don't generally make a fuss about
people, but when it 's you----

JOY.  [Suddenly.]  I'm all right.

DICK.  Is that comfy?

JOY.  [With her chin up, and her eyes fast closed.]  Quite.

DICK.  I'm not going to stay and worry you.  You ought to rest.
Only, Joy!  Look here!  If you want me to do anything for you, any
time----

JOY.  [Half opening her eyes.]  Only to go away.

     [DICK bites his lips and walks away.]

Dick--[softly]--Dick!

     [DICK stops.]

I didn't mean that; will you get me some water-irises for this
evening?

DICK.  Won't I?  [He goes to the hollow tree and from its darkness
takes a bucket and a boat-hook.]  I know where there are some
rippers!

     [JOY stays unmoving with her eyes half closed.]

Are you sure you 're all right.  Joy?  You 'll just rest here in the
shade, won't you, till I come back?--it 'll do you no end of good.  I
shan't be twenty minutes.

     [He goes, but cannot help returning softly, to make sure.]

You're quite sure you 're all right?

     [JOY nods.  He goes away towards the river.  But there is no
     rest for JOY.  The voices of MRS. GWYN and LEVER are heard
     returning.]

JOY.  [With a gesture of anger.]  Hateful!  Hateful!

     [She runs away.]

     [MRS. GWYN and LEVER are seen approaching; they pass the tree,
     in conversation.]

MRS. GWYN.  But I don't see why, Maurice.

LEVER.  We mean to sell the mine; we must do some more work on it,
and for that we must have money.

MRS. GWYN.  If you only want a little, I should have thought you
could have got it in a minute in the City.

LEVER.  [Shaking his head.]  No, no; we must get it privately.

MRS. GWYN.  [Doubtfully.]  Oh!  [She slowly adds.]  Then it isn't
such a good thing!

     [And she does not look at him.]

LEVER.  Well, we mean to sell it.

MRS. GWYN.  What about the people who buy?

LEVER.  [Dubiously regarding her.]  My dear girl, they've just as
much chance as we had.  It 's not my business to think of them.
There's YOUR thousand pounds----

MRS. GWYN.  [Softly.]  Don't bother about my money, Maurice.  I don't
want you to do anything not quite----

LEVER.  [Evasively.]  Oh!  There's my brother's and my sister's too.
I 'm not going to let any of you run any risk.  When we all went in
for it the thing looked splendid; it 's only the last month that we
've had doubts.  What bothers me now is your Uncle.  I don't want him
to take these shares.  It looks as if I'd come here on purpose.

MRS. GWYN.  Oh!  he mustn't take them!

LEVER.  That 's all very well; but it 's not so simple.

MRS. GWYN.  [Shyly.]  But, Maurice, have you told him about the
selling?

LEVER.  [Gloomily, under the hollow tree.]  It 's a Board secret.
I'd no business to tell even you.

MRS. GWYN.  But he thinks he's taking shares in a good--a permanent
thing.

LEVER.  You can't go into a mining venture without some risk.

MRS. GWYN.  Oh yes, I know--but--but Uncle Tom is such a dear!

LEVER.  [Stubbornly.]  I can't help his being the sort of man he is.
I did n't want him to take these shares; I told him so in so many
words.  Put yourself in my place, Molly: how can I go to him and say,
"This thing may turn out rotten," when he knows I got you to put your
money into it?

     [But JOY, the lost shadow, has come back.  She moves forward
     resolutely.  They are divided from her by the hollow tree; she
     is unseen.  She stops.]

MRS. GWYN.  I think he ought to be told about the selling; it 's not
fair.

LEVER.  What on earth made him rush at the thing like that?  I don't
understand that kind of man.

MRS. GWYN.  [Impulsively.]  I must tell him, Maurice; I can't let him
take the shares without----

     [She puts her hand on his arm.]

     [Joy turns, as if to go back whence she came, but stops once
     more.]

LEVER.  [Slowly and very quietly.]  I did n't think you'd give me
away, Molly.

MRS. GWYN.  I don't think I quite understand.

LEVER.  If you tell the Colonel about this sale the poor old chap
will think me a man that you ought to have nothing to do with.  Do
you want that?

     [MRS. GWYN, giving her lover a long look, touches his sleeve.
     JOY, slipping behind the hollow tree, has gone.]

You can't act in a case like this as if you 'd only a principle to
consider.  It 's the--the special circumstances.

MRS. GWYN.  [With a faint smile.]  But you'll be glad to get the
money won't you?

LEVER.  By George! if you're going to take it like this, Molly

MRS. GWYN.  Don't!

LEVER.  We may not sell after all, dear, we may find it turn out
trumps.

MRS. GWYN.  [With a shiver.]  I don't want to hear any more.  I know
women don't understand.  [Impulsively.]  It's only that I can't bear
any one should think that you----

LEVER.  [Distressed.]  For goodness sake don't look like that, Molly!
Of course, I'll speak to your Uncle.  I'll stop him somehow, even if
I have to make a fool of myself.  I 'll do anything you want----

MRS. GWYN.  I feel as if I were being smothered here.

LEVER.  It 's only for one day.

MRS. GWYN.  [With sudden tenderness.]  It's not your fault, dear.  I
ought to have known how it would be.  Well, let's go in!

     [She sets her lips, and walks towards the house with LEVER
     following.  But no sooner has she disappeared than JOY comes
     running after; she stops, as though throwing down a challenge.
     Her cheeks and ears are burning.]

JOY.  Mother!

     [After a moment MRS. GWYN reappears in the opening of the wall.]

MRS. GWYN.  Oh!  here you are!

JOY.  [Breathlessly.]  Yes.

MRS. GWYN.  [Uncertainly.]  Where--have you been?  You look
dreadfully hot; have you been running?

JOY.  Yes----no.

MRS. GWYN.  [Looking at her fixedly.]  What's the matter--you 're
trembling!  [Softly.]  Are n't you well, dear?

JOY.  Yes--I don't know.

MRS. GWYN.  What is it, darling?

JOY.  [Suddenly clinging to her.]  Oh!  Mother!

MRS. GWYN.  I don't understand.

JOY.  [Breathlessly.]  Oh, Mother, let me go back home with you now
at once----
MRS. GWYN.  [Her face hardening.]  Why?  What on earth----

JOY.  I can't stay here.

MRS. GWYN.  But why?

JOY. I want to be with you--Oh!  Mother, don't you love me?

MRS. GWYN.  [With a faint smile.]  Of course I love you, Joy.

JOY.  Ah! but you love him more.

MRS. GWYN.  Love him--whom?

JOY.  Oh!  Mother, I did n't--[She tries to take her Mother's hand,
but fails.]  Oh!  don't.

MRS. GWYN.  You'd better explain what you mean, I think.

JOY.  I want to get you to--he--he 's--he 'snot----!

MRS. GWYN.  [Frigidly.]  Really, Joy!

JOY.  [Passionately.]  I'll fight against him, and I know there's
something wrong about----

     [She stops.]

MRS. GWYN.  About what?

JOY.  Let's tell Uncle Tom, Mother, and go away.

MRS. GWYN.  Tell Uncle--Tom--what?

JOY.  [Looking down and almost whispering.]  About--about--the mine.

MRS. GWYN.  What about the mine?  What do you mean?  [Fiercely.]
Have you been spying on me?

JOY.  [Shrinking.]  No! oh, no!

MRS. GWYN.  Where were you?

JOY.  [Just above her breath.]  I--I heard something.

MRS. GWYN.  [Bitterly.] But you were not spying?

JOY.  I was n't--I wasn't!  I didn't want--to hear.  I only heard a
little.  I couldn't help listening, Mother.

MRS. GWYN.  [With a little laugh.]  Couldn't help listening?

JOY.  [Through her teeth.]  I hate him.  I didn't mean to listen, but
I hate him.

MRS. GWYN.  I see.  Why do you hate him?

     [There is a silence.]

JOY.  He--he----[She stops.]


MRS. GWYN.  Yes?

JOY.  [With a sort of despair.]  I don't know.  Oh!  I don't know!
But I feel----

MRS. GWYN.  I can't reason with you.  As to what you heard, it 's--
ridiculous.

JOY.  It 's not that.  It 's--it 's you!

MRS. GWYN.  [Stonily.]  I don't know what you mean.

JOY.  [Passionately.]  I wish Dad were here!

MRS. GWYN.  Do you love your Father as much as me?

JOY.  Oh!  Mother, no-you know I don't.

MRS. GWYN.  [Resentfully.]  Then why do you want him?

JOY.  [Almost under her breath.]  Because of that man.

MRS. GWYN.  Indeed!

JOY.  I will never--never make friends with him.

MRS. GWYN.  [Cuttingly.]  I have not asked you to.

JOY.  [With a blind movement of her hand.]  Oh, Mother!

     [MRS. GWYN half turns away.]

Mother--won't you?  Let's tell Uncle Tom and go away from him?

MRS. GWYN.  If you were not, a child, Joy, you wouldn't say such
things.

JOY.  [Eagerly.]  I'm not a child, I'm--I'm a woman.  I am.

MRS. GWYN.  No!  You--are--not a woman, Joy.

     [She sees joy throw up her arms as though warding off a blow,
     and turning finds that LEVER is standing in the opening of the
     wall.]

LEVER.  [Looking from face to face.]  What's the matter?  [There is
no answer.]  What is it, Joy?

JOY.  [Passionately.]  I heard you, I don't care who knows.  I'd
listen again.

LEVER.  [Impassively.]  Ah! and what did I say that was so very
dreadful?

JOY.  You're a--a--you 're a--coward!

MRS. GWYN.  [With a sort of groan.]  Joy!

LEVER.  [Stepping up to JOY, and standing with his hands behind him--
in a low voice.]  Now hit me in the face--hit me--hit me as hard as
you can.  Go on, Joy, it'll do you good.

     [Joy raises her clenched hand, but drops it, and hides her
     face.]

Why don't you?  I'm not pretending!

     [Joy makes no sign.]

Come, joy; you'll make yourself ill, and that won't help, will it?

     [But joy still makes no sign.]

[With determination.]  What's the matter?  now come--tell me!

JOY.  [In a stifled, sullen voice.]  Will you leave my mother alone?

MRS. GWYN.  Oh! my dear Joy, don't be silly!

JOY.  [Wincing; then with sudden passion.]  I defy you--I defy you!
[She rushes from their sight.]

MRS. GWYN.  [With a movement of distress.] Oh!

LEVER.  [Turning to MRS. GWYN with a protecting gesture.]  Never
mind, dear!  It'll be--it'll be all right!

     [But the expression of his face is not the expression of his
     words.]


                         The curtain falls.





ACT III

     It is evening; a full yellow moon is shining through the
     branches of the hollow tree.  The Chinese lanterns are alight.
     There is dancing in the house; the music sounds now loud, now
     soft.  MISS BEECH is sitting on the rustic seat in a black
     bunchy evening dress, whose inconspicuous opening is inlaid with
     white.  She slowly fans herself.

     DICK comes from the house in evening dress.  He does not see
     Miss BEECH.


DICK.  Curse!  [A short silence.]  Curse!

MISS BEECH.  Poor young man!

DICK.  [With a start.]  Well, Peachey, I can't help it
[He fumbles off his gloves.]

MISS BEECH.  Did you ever know any one that could?

DICK.  [Earnestly.]  It's such awfully hard lines on Joy.  I can't get
her out of my head, lying there with that beastly headache while
everybody's jigging round.

MISS BEECH.  Oh!  you don't mind about yourself--noble young man!

DICK.  I should be a brute if I did n't mind more for her.

MISS BEECH.  So you think it's a headache, do you?

DICK.  Did n't you hear what Mrs. Gwyn said at dinner about the sun?
[With inspiration.]  I say, Peachey, could n't you--could n't you
just go up and give her a message from me, and find out if there 's
anything she wants, and say how brutal it is that she 's seedy; it
would be most awfully decent of you.  And tell her the dancing's no
good without her.  Do, Peachey, now do!  Ah!  and look here!

     [He dives into the hollow of the tree, and brings from out of it
     a pail of water in which are placed two bottles of champagne,
     and some yellow irises--he takes the irises.]

You might give her these.  I got them specially for her, and I have
n't had a chance.

MISS BEECH.  [Lifting a bottle.]  What 's this?

DICK.  Fizz.  The Colonel brought it from the George.  It 's for
supper; he put it in here because of--[Smiling faintly]--Mrs. Hope,
I think.  Peachey, do take her those irises.

MISS. BEECH.  D' you think they'll do her any good?

DICK.  [Crestfallen.]  I thought she'd like--I don't want to worry
her--you might try.

     [MISS BEECH shakes her head.]

Why not?

MISS BEECH.  The poor little creature won't let me in.

DICK.  You've been up then!

MISS BEECH.  [Sharply.]  Of course I've been up.  I've not got a
stone for my heart, young man!

DICK.  All right!  I suppose I shall just have to get along somehow.

MISS BEECH.  [With devilry.]  That's what we've all got to do.

DICK.  [Gloomily.] But this is too brutal for anything!

MISS BEECH.  Worse than ever happened to any one!

DICK.  I swear I'm not thinking of myself.

MISS BEECH.  Did y' ever know anybody that swore they were?

DICK.  Oh! shut up!

MISS BEECH.  You'd better go in and get yourself a partner.

DICK.  [With pale desperation.]  Look here, Peachey, I simply loathe
all those girls.

MISS BEECH.  Ah-h!  [Ironically.]  Poor lot, are n't they?

DICK.  All right; chaff away, it's good fun, isn't it?  It makes me
sick to dance when Joy's lying there.  Her last night, too!

MISS BEECH.  [Sidling to him.]  You're a good young man, and you 've
got a good heart.

     [She takes his hand, and puts it to her cheek.]

DICK.  Peachey--I say, Peachey d' you think there 's--I mean d' you
think there'll ever be any chance for me?

MISS BEECH.  I thought that was coming!  I don't approve of your
making love at your time of life; don't you think I 'm going to
encourage you.

DICK.  But I shall be of age in a year; my money's my own, it's not
as if I had to ask any one's leave; and I mean, I do know my own
mind.

MISS BEECH.  Of course you do.  Nobody else would at your age, but
you do.

DICK.  I would n't ask her to promise, it would n't be fair when
she 's so young, but I do want her to know that I shall never change.

MISS BEECH.  And suppose--only suppose--she's fond of you, and says
she'll never change.

DICK.  Oh!  Peachey!  D' you think there's a chance of that--do you?

MISS BEECH.  A-h-h!

DICK.  I wouldn't let her bind herself, I swear I wouldn't.
[Solemnly.]  I'm not such a selfish brute as you seem to think.

MISS BEECH.  [Sidling close to him and in a violent whisper.]  Well--
have a go!

DICK.  Really?  You are a brick, Peachey!

     [He kisses her.]

MISS BEACH. [Yielding pleasurably; then remembering her principles.]
Don't you ever say I said so!  You're too young, both of you.

DICK.  But it is exceptional--I mean in my case, is n't it?

     [The COLONEL and MRS. GWYN are coming down the lawn.]

MISS BEECH.  Oh!  very!

     [She sits beneath the tree and fans herself.]

COLONEL.  The girls are all sitting out, Dick!  I've been obliged to
dance myself.  Phew!

     [He mops his brow.]

     [DICK swinging round goes rushing off towards the house.]

[Looking after him.]  Hallo!  What's the matter with him?  Cooling
your heels, Peachey?  By George!  it's hot.  Fancy the poor devils in
London on a night like this, what?  [He sees the moon.]  It's a full
moon.  You're lucky to be down here, Molly.

MRS. GWYN.  [In a low voice.]  Very!

MISS BEECH.  Oh!  so you think she's lucky, do you?

COLONEL. [Expanding his nostrils.]  Delicious scent to-night!  Hay
and roses--delicious.

     [He seats himself between them.]

A shame that poor child has knocked up like this.  Don't think it was
the sun myself--more likely neuralgic--she 's subject to neuralgia,
Molly.

MRS. GWYN.  [Motionless.]  I know.

COLONEL.  Got too excited about your coming.  I told Nell not to keep
worrying her about her frock, and this is the result.  But your Aunt
--you know--she can't let a thing alone!

MISS BEECH.  Ah!  't isn't neuralgia.

     [MRS.  GWYN looks at her quickly and averts her eyes.]

COLONEL.  Excitable little thing.  You don't understand her, Peachey.

MISS BEECH.  Don't I?

COLONEL.  She's all affection.  Eh, Molly?  I remember what I was
like at her age, a poor affectionate little rat, and now look at me!

MISS BEECH.  [Fanning herself.]  I see you.

COLONEL.  [A little sadly.]  We forget what we were like when we were
young.  She's been looking forward to to-night ever since you wrote;
and now to have to go to bed and miss the dancing.  Too bad!

MRS. GWYN.  Don't, Uncle Tom!

COLONEL.  [Patting her hand.]  There, there, old girl, don't think
about it.  She'll be all right tomorrow.

MISS BEECH.  If I were her mother I'd soon have her up.

COLONEL.  Have her up with that headache!  What are you talking
about, Peachey?

MISS BEECH.  I know a remedy.

COLONEL.  Well, out with it.

MISS BEECH.  Oh!  Molly knows it too!

MRS. GWYN.  [Staring at the ground.]  It's easy to advise.

COLONEL.  [Fidgetting.]  Well, if you're thinking of morphia for her,
don't have anything to do with it.  I've always set my face against
morphia; the only time I took it was in Burmah.  I'd raging neuralgia
for two days.  I went to our old doctor, and I made him give me some.
"Look here, doctor," I said, "I hate the idea of morphia, I 've never
taken it, and I never want to."

MISS BEECH.  [Looking at MRS. GWYN.]  When a tooth hurts, you should
have it out.  It 's only puttin' off the evil day.

COLONEL.  You say that because it was n't your own.

MISS BEECH.  Well, it was hollow, and you broke your principles!

COLONEL.  Hollow yourself, Peachey; you're as bad as any one!

MISS BEECH [With devilry.]  Well, I know that!  [She turns to MRS.
GWYN.]  He should have had it out!  Shouldn't he, Molly?

MRS. GWYN.  I--don't--judge for other people.

     [She gets up suddenly, as though deprived of air.]

COLONEL.  [Alarmed.]  Hallo, Molly!  Are n't you feeling the thing,
old girl?

MISS BEECH.  Let her get some air, poor creature!

COLONEL.  [Who follows anxiously.]  Your Aunt's got some first-rate
sal volatile.

MRS. GWYN.  It's all right, Uncle Tom.  I felt giddy, it's nothing,
now.

COLONEL.  That's the dancing.  [He taps his forehead.]  I know what
it is when you're not used to it.

MRS. GWYN.  [With a sudden bitter outburst.]  I suppose you think I
'm a very bad mother to be amusing myself while joy's suffering.

COLONEL.  My dear girl, whatever put such a thought into your head?
We all know if there were anything you could do, you'd do it at once,
would n't she, Peachey?

     [MISS BEECH turns a slow look on MRS. GWYN.]

MRS. GWYN.  Ah!  you see, Peachey knows me better.

COLONEL.  [Following up his thoughts.]  I always think women are
wonderful.  There's your Aunt, she's very funny, but if there's
anything the matter with me, she'll sit up all night; but when she's
ill herself, and you try to do anything for her, out she raps at
once.

MRS. GWYN.  [In a low voice.]  There's always one that a woman will
do anything for.

COLONEL.  Exactly what I say.  With your Aunt it's me, and by George!
Molly, sometimes I wish it was n't.

MISS BEECH, [With meaning.]  But is it ever for another woman!

COLONEL.  You old cynic!  D' you mean to say Joy wouldn't do anything
on earth for her Mother, or Molly for Joy?  You don't know human
nature.  What a wonderful night!  Have n't seen such a moon for
years, she's like a great, great lamp!

     [MRS. GWYN hiding from Miss BEECH's eyes, rises and slips her
     arm through his; they stand together looking at the moon.]

Don't like these Chinese lanterns, with that moon-tawdry!  eh!  By
Jove, Molly, I sometimes think we humans are a rubbishy lot--each of
us talking and thinking of nothing but our own petty little affairs;
and when you see a great thing like that up there--[Sighs.]  But
there's your Aunt, if I were to say a thing like that to her she 'd--
she'd think me a lunatic; and yet, you know, she 's a very good
woman.

MRS. GWYN.  [Half clinging to him.]  Do you think me very selfish,
Uncle Tom?

COLONEL.  My dear--what a fancy!  Think you selfish--of course I
don't; why should I?

MRS. GWYN.  [Dully.]  I don't know.

COLONEL.  [Changing the subject nervously.]  I like your friend,
Lever, Molly.  He came to me before dinner quite distressed about
your Aunt, beggin' me not to take those shares.  She 'll be the first
to worry me, but he made such a point of it, poor chap--in the end I
was obliged to say I wouldn't.  I thought it showed very' nice
feeling.  [Ruefully.]  It's a pretty tight fit to make two ends meet
on my income--I've missed a good thing, all owing to your Aunt.
[Dropping his voice.]  I don't mind telling you, Molly, I think
they've got a much finer mine there than they've any idea of.

     [MRS. GWYN gives way to laughter that is very near to sobs.]

[With dignity.]  I can't see what there is to laugh at.

MRS. GWYN.  I don't know what's the matter with me this evening.

MISS BEECH.  [In a low voice.]  I do.

COLONEL.  There, there!  Give me a kiss, old girl!  [He kisses her on
the brow.]  Why, your forehead's as hot as fire.  I know--I know-you
're fretting about Joy.  Never mind--come!  [He draws her hand
beneath his arm.]  Let's go and have a look at the moon on the river.
We all get upset at times; eh! [Lifting his hand as if he had been
stung.]  Why, you 're not crying, Molly!  I say!  Don't do that, old
girl, it makes me wretched.  Look here, Peachey.  [Holding out the
hand on which the tear has dropped.]  This is dreadful!

MRS. GWYN.  [With a violent effort.]  It's all right, Uncle Tom!

     [MISS BEECH wipes her own eyes stealthily.  From the house is
     heard the voice of MRS. HOPE, calling "Tom."]

MISS BEECH.  Some one calling you.

COLONEL.  There, there, my dear, you just stay here, and cool
yourself--I 'll come back--shan't be a minute.  [He turns to go.]

     [MRS. HOPE'S voice sounds nearer.]

[Turning back.]  And Molly, old girl, don't you mind anything I said.
I don't remember what it was--it must have been something, I suppose.

     [He hastily retreats.]

MRS. GWYN.  [In a fierce low voice.]  Why do you torture me?

MISS BEECH.  [Sadly.]  I don't want to torture you.

MRS. GWYN, But you do.  D' you think I haven't seen this coming--all
these weeks.  I knew she must find out some time!  But even a day
counts----

MISS BEECH.  I don't understand why you brought him down here.

MRS. GWYN.  [After staring at her, bitterly.]  When day after day and
night after night you've thought of nothing but how to keep them
both, you might a little want to prove that it was possible, mightn't
you?  But you don't understand--how should you?  You've never been a
mother!  [And fiercely.]  You've never had a lov----

     [MISS BEECH raises her face-it is all puckered.]

[Impulsively.]  Oh, I did n't mean that, Peachey!

MISS BEECH.  All right, my dear.

MRS. GWYN.  I'm so dragged in two!  [She sinks into a chair.]  I knew
it must come.

MISS BEECH.  Does she know everything, Molly?

MRS. GWYN.  She guesses.

MISS BEECH.  [Mournfully.]  It's either him or her then, my dear; one
or the other you 'll have to give up.

MRS. GWYN.  [Motionless.]  Life's very hard on women!

MISS BEECH.  Life's only just beginning for that child, Molly.

MRS. GWYN.  You don't care if it ends for me!

MISS BEECH.  Is it as bad as that?

MRS. GWYN.  Yes.

MISS BEECH.  [Rocking hey body.]  Poor things!  Poor things!

MRS. GWYN.  Are you still fond of me?

MISS BEECH.  Yes, yes, my dear, of course I am.

MRS. GWYN.  In spite of my-wickedness?

     [She laughs.]

MISS BEECH.  Who am I to tell what's wicked and what is n't?  God
knows you're both like daughters to me!

MRS. GWYN.  [Abruptly.]  I can't.

MISS BEECH.  Molly.

MRS. GWYN.  You don't know what you're asking.

MISS BEECH.  If I could save you suffering, my dear, I would.  I hate
suffering, if it 's only a fly, I hate it.

MRS. GWYN.  [Turning away from her.]  Life is n't fair.  Peachey, go
in and leave me alone.

     [She leans back motionless.]

     [Miss BEECH gets off her seat, and stroking MRS. GWYN's arm in
     passing goes silently away.  In the opening of the wall she
     meets LEVER who is looking for his partner.  They make way for
     each other.]

LEVER.  [Going up to MRS. GWYN--gravely.]  The next is our dance,
Molly.

MRS. GWYN. [Unmoving.]  Let's sit it out here, then.

     [LEVER sits down.]

LEVER.  I've made it all right with your Uncle.

MRS. GWYN.  [Dully.]  Oh?

LEVER.  I spoke to him about the shares before dinner.

MRS. GWYN.  Yes, he told me, thank you.

LEVER.  There 's nothing to worry over, dear.

MRS. GWYN.  [Passionately.]  What does it matter about the wretched
shares now?  I 'm stifling.

     [She throws her scarf off.]

LEVER.  I don't understand what you mean by "now."

MRS. GWYN.  Don't you?

LEVER.  We were n't--Joy can't know--why should she?  I don't believe
for a minute----

MRS. GWYN.  Because you don't want to.

LEVER.  Do you mean she does?

MRS. GWYN.  Her heart knows.

     [LEVER makes a movement of discomfiture; suddenly MRS. GWYN
     looks at him as though to read his soul.]

I seem to bring you nothing but worry, Maurice.  Are you tired of me?

LEVER.  [Meeting her eyes.]  No, I am not.

MRS. GWYN.  Ah, but would you tell me if you were?

LEVER.  [Softly.]  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

     [MRS. GWYN struggles to look at him, then covers her face with
     her hands.]

MRS. GWYN.  If I were to give you up, you'd forget me in a month.

LEVER.  Why do you say such things?

MRS. GWYN.  If only I could believe I was necessary to you!

LEVER.  [Forcing the fervour of his voice.]  But you are!

MRS. GWYN.  Am I?  [With the ghost of a smile.]  Midsummer day!

     [She gives a laugh that breaks into a sob.]

     [The music o f a waltz sounds from the house.]

LEVER.  For God's sake, don't, Molly--I don't believe in going to
meet trouble.

MRS. GWYN.  It's staring me in the face.

LEVER.  Let the future take care of itself!

     [MRS. GWYN has turned away her face, covering it with her
     hands.]

Don't, Molly!  [Trying to pull her hands away.]  Don't!

MRS. GWYN.  Oh! what shall I do?

     [There is a silence; the music of the waltz sounds louder from
     the house.]

[Starting up.]  Listen!  One can't sit it out and dance it too.
Which is it to be, Maurice, dancing--or sitting out?  It must be one
or the other, must n't it?

LEVER.  Molly!  Molly!

MRS. GWYN.  Ah, my dear!  [Standing away from him as though to show
herself.]  How long shall I keep you?  This is all that 's left of
me.  It 's time I joined the wallflowers.  [Smiling faintly.]  It's
time I played the mother, is n't it?  [In a whisper.]  It'll be all
sitting out then.

LEVER.  Don't!  Let's go and dance, it'll do you good.

     [He puts his hands on her arms, and in a gust of passion kisses
     her lips and throat.]

MRS. GWYN.  I can't give you up--I can't.  Love me, oh! love me!

     [For a moment they stand so; then, with sudden remembrance of
     where they are, they move apart.]

LEVER.  Are you all right now, darling?

MRS. GWYN.  [Trying to smile.]  Yes, dear--quite.

LEVER.  Then let 's go, and dance.  [They go.]

[For a few seconds the hollow tree stands alone; then from the house
ROSE comes and enters it.  She takes out a bottle of champagne, wipes
it, and carries it away; but seeing MRS. GWYN's scarf lying across
the chair, she fingers it, and stops, listening to the waltz.
Suddenly draping it round her shoulders, she seizes the bottle of
champagne, and waltzes with abandon to the music, as though avenging
a long starvation of her instincts.  Thus dancing, she is surprised
by DICK, who has come to smoke a cigarette and think, at the spot
where he was told to "have a go."  ROSE, startled, stops and hugs the
bottle.]

DICK.  It's not claret, Rose, I should n't warm it.

     [ROSE, taking off the scarf, replaces it on the chair; then with
     the half-warmed bottle, she retreats.  DICK, in the swing, sits
     thinking of his fate.  Suddenly from behind the hollow tree he
     sees Joy darting forward in her day dress with her hair about
     her neck, and her skirt all torn.  As he springs towards her,
     she turns at bay.]

DICK.  Joy!

JOY.  I want Uncle Tom.

DICK.  [In consternation.]  But ought you to have got up--I thought
you were ill in bed; oughtn't you to be lying down?

JOY.  If have n't been in bed.  Where's Uncle Tom?

DICK.  But where have you been?-your dress is all torn.  Look!  [He
touches the torn skirt.]

JOY.  [Tearing it away.]  In the fields.  Where's Uncle Tom?

DICK.  Are n't you really ill then?

     [Joy shakes her head.]

DICK, [showing her the irises.]  Look at these.  They were the best I
could get.

JOY.  Don't!  I want Uncle Tom!

DICK.  Won't you take them?

JOY.  I 've got something else to do.

DICK.  [With sudden resolution.]  What do you want the Colonel for?

JOY.  I want him.

DICK.  Alone?

JOY.  Yes.

DICK.  Joy, what is the matter?

JOY.  I 've got something to tell him.

DICK.  What?  [With sudden inspiration.]  Is it about Lever?

JOY.  [In a low voice.]  The mine.

DICK.  The mine?

JOY.  It 's not--not a proper one.

DICK.  How do you mean, Joy?

JOY.  I overheard.  I don't care, I listened.  I would n't if it had
been anybody else, but I hate him.

DICK.  [Gravely.]  What did you hear?

JOY.  He 's keeping back something Uncle Tom ought to know.

DICK.  Are you sure?

     [Joy makes a rush to pass him.]

[Barring the way.]  No, wait a minute--you must!  Was it something
that really matters?--I don't want to know what.

JOY.  Yes, it was.

DICK.  What a beastly thing--are you quite certain, Joy?

JOY.  [Between her teeth.]  Yes.

DICK.  Then you must tell him, of course, even if you did overhear.
You can't stand by and see the Colonel swindled.  Whom was he talking
to?

JOY.  I won't tell you.

DICK.  [Taking her wrist.]  Was it was it your Mother?

     [Joy bends her head.]

But if it was your Mother, why does n't she----

JOY.  Let me go!

DICK.  [Still holding her.]  I mean I can't see what----

JOY.  [Passionately.]  Let me go!

DICK.  [Releasing her.]  I'm thinking of your Mother, Joy.  She would
never----

JOY.  [Covering her face.]  That man!

DICK.  But joy, just think!  There must be some mistake.  It 's so
queer--it 's quite impossible!

JOY.  He won't let her.

DICK.  Won't let her--won't let her?  But [Stopping dead, and in a
very different voice.]  Oh!

JOY.  [Passionately.]  Why d' you look at me like that?  Why can't
you speak?

     [She waits for him to speak, but he does not.]

I'm going to show what he is, so that Mother shan't speak to him
again.  I can--can't I--if I tell Uncle Tom?--can't I----?

DICK.  But Joy--if your Mother knows a thing like--that----

JOY.  She wanted to tell--she begged him--and he would n't.

DICK.  But, joy, dear, it means----

JOY.  I hate him, I want to make her hate him, and I will.

DICK.  But, Joy, dear, don't you see--if your Mother knows a thing
like that, and does n't speak of it, it means that she--it means that
you can't make her hate him--it means----If it were anybody else--
but, well, you can't give your own Mother away!

JOY.  How dare you!  How dare you!  [Turning to the hollow tree.]  It
is n't true--Oh! it is n't true!

DICK.  [In deep distress.]  Joy, dear, I never meant, I didn't
really!

     [He tries to pull her hands down from her face.]

JOY.  [Suddenly.]  Oh!  go away, go away!

     [MRS. GWYN is seen coming back.  JOY springs into the tree.
     DICK quickly steals away.  MRS. GWYN goes up to the chair and
     takes the scarf that she has come for, and is going again when
     JOY steals out to her.]

Mother!

     [MRS. GWYN stands looking at her with her teeth set on her lower
     lip.]

Oh!  Mother, it is n't true?

MRS. GWYN.  [Very still.]  What is n't true?

JOY.  That you and he are----

     [Searching her Mother's face, which is deadly still.  In a
     whisper.]

Then it is true.  Oh!

MRS. GWYN.  That's enough, Joy!  What I am is my affair--not yours--
do you understand?

JOY.  [Low and fierce.]  Yes, I do.

MRS. GWYN.  You don't.  You're only a child.

JOY.  [Passionately.]  I understand that you've hurt [She stops.]

MRS. GWYN.  Do you mean your Father?

JOY.  [Bowing her head.]  Yes, and--and me.  [She covers her face.]
I'm--I'm ashamed.

MRS. GWYN.  I brought you into the world, and you say that to me?
Have I been a bad mother to you?

JOY.  [In a smothered voice.]  Oh!  Mother!

MRS. GWYN.  Ashamed?  Am I to live all my life like a dead woman
because you're ashamed?  Am I to live like the dead because you 're a
child that knows nothing of life?  Listen, Joy, you 'd better
understand this once for all.  Your Father has no right over me and
he knows it.  We 've been hateful to each other for years.  Can you
understand that?  Don't cover your face like a child--look at me.

     [Joy drops her hands, and lifts her face.  MRS. GWYN looks back
     at her, her lips are quivering; she goes on speaking with
     stammering rapidity.]

D' you think--because I suffered when you were born and because I 've
suffered since with every ache you ever had, that that gives you the
right to dictate to me now?  [In a dead voice.]  I've been unhappy
enough and I shall be unhappy enough in the time to come.  [Meeting
the hard wonder in Joy's face.]  Oh!  you untouched things, you're as
hard and cold as iron!

JOY.  I would do anything for you, Mother.

MRS. GWYN.  Except--let me live, Joy.  That's the only thing you won't
do for me, I quite understand.

JOY.  Oh!  Mother, you don't understand--I want you so; and I seem to
be nothing to you now.

MRS. GWYN.  Nothing to me?  [She smiles.]

JOY.  Mother, darling, if you're so unhappy let's forget it all,
let's go away and I 'll be everything to you, I promise.

MRS. GWYN.  [With the ghost of a laugh.]  Ah, Joy!

JOY.  I would try so hard.

MRS. GWYN.  [With the same quivering smile.]  My darling, I know you
would, until you fell in love yourself.

JOY.  Oh, Mother, I wouldn't, I never would, I swear it.

MRS. GWYN.  There has never been a woman, joy, that did not fall in
love.

JOY.  [In a despairing whisper.]  But it 's wrong of you it's wicked!

MRS. GWYN.  If it's wicked, I shall pay for it, not you!

JOY.  But I want to save you, Mother!

MRS. GWYN.  Save me?  [Breaking into laughter.]

JOY.  I can't bear it that you--if you 'll only--I'll never leave
you.  You think I don't know what I 'm saying, but I do, because even
now I--I half love somebody.  Oh, Mother!  [Pressing her breast.]
I feel--I feel so awful--as if everybody knew.

MRS. GWYN.  You think I'm a monster to hurt you.  Ah!  yes!  You'll
understand better some day.

JOY.  [In a sudden outburst of excited fear.]  I won't believe it--
I--I--can't--you're deserting me, Mother.

MRS. GWYN.  Oh, you untouched things!  You----

     [Joy' looks up suddenly, sees her face, and sinks down on her
     knees.]

JOY.  Mother--it 's for me!

GWYN.  Ask for my life, JOY--don't be afraid.

     [Joy turns her face away.  MRS. GWYN bends suddenly and touches
     her daughter's hair; JOY shrinks from that touch.]

[Recoiling as though she had been stung.]  I forgot--I 'm deserting
you.

     [And swiftly without looking back she goes away. Joy, left alone
     under the hollow tree, crouches lower, and her shoulders shake.
     Here DICK finds her, when he hears no longer any sound o f
     voices.  He falls on his knees beside her.]

DICK.  Oh!  Joy; dear, don't cry.  It's so dreadful to see you!  I 'd
do anything not to see you cry!  Say something.

     [Joy is still for a moment, then the shaking of the shoulders
     begins again.]

Joy, darling!  It's so awful, you 'll make yourself ill, and it is
n't worth it, really.  I 'd do anything to save you pain--won't you
stop just for a minute?

     [Joy is still again.]

Nothing in the world 's worth your crying, Joy.  Give me just a
little look!

JOY.  [Looking; in a smothered voice.] Don't!

DICK.  You do look so sweet!  Oh, Joy, I'll comfort you, I'll take it
all on myself.  I know all about it.

     [Joy gives a sobbing laugh]

I do.  I 've had trouble too, I swear I have.  It gets better, it
does really.

JOY.  You don't know--it's--it's----

DICK.  Don't think about it!  No, no, no!  I know exactly what it's
like.  [He strokes her arm.]

JOY.  [Shrinking, in a whisper.]  You mustn't.

     [The music of a waltz is heard again.]

DICK.  Look here, joy!  It's no good, we must talk it over calmly.

JOY.  You don't see!  It's the--it 's the disgrace----

DICK.  Oh! as to disgrace--she's your Mother, whatever she does; I'd
like to see anybody say anything about her--[viciously]--I'd punch
his head.

JOY.  [Gulping her tears.]  That does n't help.

DICK.  But if she doesn't love your Father----

JOY.  But she's married to him!

DICK.  [Hastily.]  Yes, of course, I know, marriage is awfully
important; but a man understands these things.

     [Joy looks at him.  Seeing the impression he has made, he tries
     again.]

I mean, he understands better than a woman.  I've often argued about
moral questions with men up at Oxford.

JOY.  [Catching at a straw.]  But there's nothing to argue about.

DICK.  [Hastily.]  Of course, I believe in morals.

     [They stare solemnly at each other.]

Some men don't.  But I can't help seeing marriage is awfully
important.

JOY.  [Solemnly.]  It's sacred.

DICK.  Yes, I know, but there must be exceptions, Joy.

Joy.  [Losing herself a little in the stress of this discussion.]
How can there be exceptions if a thing 's sacred?

DICK.  [Earnestly.]  All rules have exceptions; that's true, you
know; it's a proverb.

JOY.  It can't be true about marriage--how can it when----?

DICK.  [With intense earnestness.]  But look here, Joy, I know a
really clever man--an author.  He says that if marriage is a failure
people ought to be perfectly free; it isn't everybody who believes
that marriage is everything.  Of course, I believe it 's sacred, but
if it's a failure, I do think it seems awful--don't you?

JOY.  I don't know--yes--if--[Suddenly]  But it's my own Mother!

DICK.  [Gravely.]  I know, of course.  I can't expect you to see it
in your own case like this.  [With desperation.]  But look here, Joy,
this'll show you!  If a person loves a person, they have to decide,
have n't they?  Well, then, you see, that 's what your Mother's done.

JOY.  But that does n't show me anything!

DICK.  But it does.  The thing is to look at it as if it was n't
yourself.  If it had been you and me in love, Joy, and it was wrong,
like them, of course [ruefully]  I know you'd have decided right.
[Fiercely.]  But I swear I should have decided wrong.
[Triumphantly.]  That 's why I feel I understand your Mother.

JOY.  [Brushing her sleeve across her eyes.]  Oh, Dick, you are so
sweet--and--and--funny!

DICK.  [Sliding his arm about her.]  I love you, Joy, that 's why,
and I 'll love you till you don't feel it any more.  I will.  I'll
love you all day and every day; you shan't miss anything, I swear it.
It 's such a beautiful night--it 's on purpose.  Look' [JOY looks; he
looks at her.]  But it 's not so beautiful as you.

JOY.  [Bending her head.]  You mustn't.  I don't know--what's coming?

DICK.  [Sidling closer.]  Are n't your knees tired, darling?  I--I
can't get near you properly.

JOY.  [With a sob.]  Oh!  Dick, you are a funny--comfort!

DICK.  We'll stick together, Joy, always; nothing'll matter then.

     [They struggle to their feet-the waltz sounds louder.]

You're missing it all!  I can't bear you to miss the dancing.  It
seems so queer!  Couldn't we?  Just a little turn?

JOY.  No, no?

DICK.  Oh!  try!

     [He takes her gently by the waist, she shrinks back.]

JOY.  [Brokenly.]  No-no!  Oh!  Dick-to-morrow 'll be so awful.

DICK.  To-morrow shan't hurt you, Joy; nothing shall ever hurt you
again.

     [She looks at him, and her face changes; suddenly she buries it
     against his shoulder.]

[They stand so just a moment in the moon light; then turning to the
river move slowly out of sight.  Again the hollow tree is left alone.
The music of the waltz has stopped.  The voices of MISS BEECH and the
COLONEL are heard approaching from the house.  They appear in the
opening of the wall.  The COLONEL carries a pair of field glasses
with which to look at the Moon.]

COLONEL.  Charming to see Molly dance with Lever, their steps go so
well together!  I can always tell when a woman's enjoying herself,
Peachey.

MISS BEECH.  [Sharply.]  Can you?  You're very clever.

COLONEL.  Wonderful, that moon!  I'm going to have a look at her!
Splendid glasses these, Peachy [he screws them out], not a better
pair in England.  I remember in Burmah with these glasses I used to
be able to tell a man from a woman at two miles and a quarter.  And
that's no joke, I can tell you.  [But on his way to the moon, he has
taken a survey of the earth to the right along the river.  In a low
but excited voice]  I say, I say--is it one of the maids--the
baggage!  Why!  It's Dick!  By George, she's got her hair down,
Peachey!  It's Joy!

     [MISS BEECH goes to look.  He makes as though to hand the
     glasses to her, but puts them to his own eyes instead--
     excitedly.]

It is!  What about her headache?  By George, they're kissing.  I say,
Peachey!  I shall have to tell Nell!

MISS BEECH.  Are you sure they're kissing?  Well, that's some
comfort.

COLONEL.  They're at the stile now.  Oughtn't I to stop them, eh?
[He stands on tiptoe.]  We must n't spy on them, dash it all.  [He
drops the glasses.] They're out of sight now.

MISS BEECH.  [To herself.]  He said he wouldn't let her.

COLONEL.  What!  have you been encouraging them!

MISS BEECH.  Don't be in such a hurry!

     [She moves towards the hollow tree.]

COLONEL.  [Abstractedly.]  By George, Peachey, to think that Nell and
I were once--Poor Nell!  I remember just such a night as this--

     [He stops, and stares before him, sighing.]

MISS BEECH, [Impressively.]  It's a comfort she's got that good young
man.  She's found out that her mother and this Mr. Lever are--you
know.

COLONEL.  [Losing all traces of his fussiness, and drawing himself up
as though he were on parade.]  You tell me that my niece?

MISS BEECH.  Out of her own mouth!

COLONEL.  [Bowing his head.]  I never would have believed she'd have
forgotten herself.

MISS BEECH.  [Very solemnly.]  Ah, my dear!  We're all the same;
we're all as hollow as that tree!  When it's ourselves it's always a
special case!

     [The COLONEL makes a movement of distress, and Miss BEECH goes
     to him.]

Don't you take it so to heart, my dear!

     [A silence.]

COLONEL.  [Shaking his head.]  I couldn't have believed Molly would
forget that child.

MISS BEECH.  [Sadly.]  They must go their own ways, poor things!  She
can't put herself in the child's place, and the child can't put
herself in Molly's.  A woman and a girl--there's the tree of life
between them!

COLONEL.  [Staring into the tree to see indeed if that were the tree
alluded to.]  It's a grief to me, Peachey, it's a grief!  [He sinks
into a chair, stroking his long moustaches.  Then to avenge his
hurt.]  Shan't tell Nell--dashed if I do anything to make the trouble
worse!

MISS BEECH.  [Nodding.]  There's suffering enough, without adding to
it with our trumpery judgments!  If only things would last between
them!

COLONEL.  [Fiercely.]  Last!  By George, they'd better----

     [He stops, and looking up with a queer sorry look.]

I say, Peachey Life's very funny!

MISS BEECH.  Men and women are!  [Touching his forehead tenderly.]
There, there--take care of your poor, dear head!  Tsst!  The blessed
innocents!

     [She pulls the COLONEL'S sleeve.  They slip away towards the
     house, as JOY and DICK come back.  They are still linked
     together, and stop by the hollow tree.]

JOY.  [In a whisper.]  Dick, is love always like this?

DICK.  [Putting his arms around her, with conviction.] It's never
been like this before.  It's you and me!

     [He kisses her on the lips.]



                              The curtain falls.






STRIFE

A DRAMA IN THREE ACTS




PERSONS OF THE PLAY

JOHN ANTHONY, Chairman of the Trenartha Tin Plate Works
EDGAR ANTHONY, his Son

FREDERIC H. WILDER, |
WILLIAM SCANTLEBURY,| Directors Of the same
OLIVER WANKLIN,     |

HENRY TENCH, Secretary of the same
FRANCIS UNDERWOOD, C.E., Manager of the same
SIMON HARNESS, a Trades Union official

DAVID ROBERTS, |
JAMES GREEN,   |
JOHN BULGIN,   | the workmen's committee
HENRY THOMAS,  |
GEORGE ROUS,   |

HENRY ROUS,         |
LEWIS,              |
JAGO,               |
EVANS,              | workman at the Trenartha Tin Plate Works
A BLACKSMITH,       |
DAVIES,             |
A RED-HAIRED YOUTH. |
BROWN               |

FROST, valet to John Anthony
ENID UNDERWOOD, Wife of Francis Underwood, daughter of John Anthony
ANNIE ROBERTS, wife of David Roberts
MADGE THOMAS, daughter of Henry Thomas
MRS. ROUS, mother of George and Henry Rous
MRS. BULGIN, wife of John Bulgin
MRS. YEO, wife of a workman
A PARLOURMAID to the Underwoods
JAN, Madge's brother, a boy of ten
A CROWD OF MEN ON STRIKE





ACT I.  The dining-room of the Manager's house.

ACT II,
     SCENE I.  The kitchen of the Roberts's cottage near the works.
     SCENE II.  A space outside the works.

ACT III.  The drawing-room of the Manager's house.



The action takes place on February 7th between the hours of noon and
six in the afternoon, close to the Trenartha Tin Plate Works, on the
borders of England and Wales, where a strike has been in progress
throughout the winter.





ACT I


     It is noon.  In the Underwoods' dining-room a bright fire is
     burning.  On one side of the fireplace are double-doors leading
     to the drawing-room, on the other side a door leading to the
     hall.  In the centre of the room a long dining-table without a
     cloth is set out as a Board table.  At the head of it, in the
     Chairman's seat, sits JOHN ANTHONY, an old man, big,
     clean-shaven, and high-coloured, with thick white hair, and thick
     dark eyebrows.  His movements are rather slow and feeble, but his
     eyes are very much alive.  There is a glass of water by his side.
     On his right sits his son EDGAR, an earnest-looking man of thirty,
     reading a newspaper.  Next him WANKLIN, a man with jutting
     eyebrows, and silver-streaked light hair, is bending over transfer
     papers.  TENCH, the Secretary, a short and rather humble, nervous
     man, with side whiskers, stands helping him.  On WANKLIN'S right
     sits UNDERWOOD, the Manager, a quiet man, with along, stiff jaw,
     and steady eyes.  Back to the fire is SCANTLEBURY, a very large,
     pale, sleepy man, with grey hair, rather bald.  Between him and
     the Chairman are two empty chairs.

WILDER.  [Who is lean, cadaverous, and complaining, with drooping
grey moustaches, stands before the fire.]  I say, this fire's the
devil!  Can I have a screen, Tench?

SCANTLEBURY.  A screen, ah!

TENCH.  Certainly, Mr. Wilder.  [He looks at UNDERWOOD.]  That is--
perhaps the Manager--perhaps Mr. Underwood----

SCANTLEBURY.  These fireplaces of yours, Underwood----

UNDERWOOD.  [Roused from studying some papers.]  A screen?  Rather!
I'm sorry.  [He goes to the door with a little smile.]  We're not
accustomed to complaints of too much fire down here just now.

     [He speaks as though he holds a pipe between his teeth, slowly,
     ironically.]

WILDER.  [In an injured voice.]  You mean the men.  H'm!

     [UNDERWOOD goes out.]

SCANTLEBURY.  Poor devils!

WILDER.  It's their own fault, Scantlebury.

EDGAR.  [Holding out his paper.]  There's great distress among them,
according to the Trenartha News.

WILDER.  Oh, that rag!  Give it to Wanklin.  Suit his Radical views.
They call us monsters, I suppose.  The editor of that rubbish ought
to be shot.

EDGAR.  [Reading.]  "If the Board of worthy gentlemen who control the
Trenartha Tin Plate Works from their arm-chairs in London would
condescend to come and see for themselves the conditions prevailing
amongst their work-people during this strike----"

WILDER.  Well, we have come.

EDGAR.  [Continuing.]  "We cannot believe that even their leg-of-mutton
hearts would remain untouched."

     [WANKLIN takes the paper from him.]

WILDER.  Ruffian!  I remember that fellow when he had n't a penny to
his name; little snivel of a chap that's made his way by black-guarding
everybody who takes a different view to himself.

     [ANTHONY says something that is not heard.]

WILDER.  What does your father say?

EDGAR.  He says "The kettle and the pot."

WILDER.  H'm!

     [He sits down next to SCANTLEBURY.]

SCANTLEBURY.  [Blowing out his cheeks.]  I shall boil if I don't get
that screen.

     [UNDERWOOD and ENID enter with a screen, which they place before
     the fire.  ENID is tall; she has a small, decided face, and is
     twenty-eight years old.]

ENID.  Put it closer, Frank.  Will that do, Mr. Wilder?  It's the
highest we've got.

WILDER.  Thanks, capitally.

SCANTLEBURY.  [Turning, with a sigh of pleasure.]  Ah!  Merci,
Madame!

ENID.  Is there anything else you want, Father?  [ANTHONY shakes his
head.]  Edgar--anything?

EDGAR.  You might give me a "J" nib, old girl.

ENID.  There are some down there by Mr. Scantlebury.

SCANTLEBURY.  [Handing a little box of nibs.]  Ah!  your brother uses
"J's."  What does the manager use?  [With expansive politeness.]
What does your husband use, Mrs. Underwood?

UNDERWOOD.  A quill!

SCANTLEBURY.  The homely product of the goose.  [He holds out
quills.]

UNDERWOOD.  [Drily.]  Thanks, if you can spare me one.  [He takes a
quill.]  What about lunch, Enid?

ENID.  [Stopping at the double-doors and looking back.]  We're going
to have lunch here, in the drawing-room, so you need n't hurry with
your meeting.

     [WANKLIN and WILDER bow, and she goes out.]

SCANTLEBURY.  [Rousing himself, suddenly.]  Ah!  Lunch!  That hotel--
Dreadful!  Did you try the whitebait last night?  Fried fat!

WILDER.  Past twelve!  Are n't you going to read the minutes, Tench?

TENCH.  [Looking for the CHAIRMAN'S assent, reads in a rapid and
monotonous voice.]  "At a Board Meeting held the 31st of January at
the Company's Offices, 512, Cannon Street, E.C.  Present--Mr. Anthony
in the chair, Messrs.  F. H. Wilder, William Scantlebury, Oliver
Wanklin, and Edgar Anthony.  Read letters from the Manager dated
January 20th, 23d, 25th, 28th, relative to the strike at the
Company's Works.  Read letters to the Manager of January 21st, 24th,
26th, 29th.  Read letter from Mr. Simon Harness, of the Central
Union, asking for an interview with the Board.  Read letter from the
Men's Committee, signed David Roberts, James Green, John Bulgin,
Henry Thomas, George Rous, desiring conference with the Board; and it
was resolved that a special Board Meeting be called for February 7th
at the house of the Manager, for the purpose of discussing the
situation with Mr. Simon Harness and the Men's Committee on the spot.
Passed twelve transfers, signed and sealed nine certificates and one
balance certificate."

[He pushes the book over to the CHAIRMAN.]

ANTHONY.  [With a heavy sigh.]  If it's your pleasure, sign the same.

     [He signs, moving the pen with difficulty. ]

WANKLIN.  What's the Union's game, Tench?  They have n't made up
their split with the men.  What does Harness want this interview for?

TENCH.  Hoping we shall come to a compromise, I think, sir; he's
having a meeting with the men this afternoon.

WILDER.  Harness!  Ah!  He's one of those cold-blooded, cool-headed
chaps.  I distrust them.  I don't know that we didn't make a mistake
to come down.  What time'll the men be here?

UNDERWOOD.  Any time now.

WILDER.  Well, if we're not ready, they'll have to wait--won't do
them any harm to cool their heels a bit.

SCANTLEBURY. [Slowly.]  Poor devils!  It's snowing.  What weather!

UNDERWOOD.  [With meaning slowness.]  This house'll be the warmest
place they've been in this winter.

WILDER.  Well, I hope we're going to settle this business in time for
me to catch the 6.30.  I've got to take my wife to Spain to-morrow.
[Chattily.]  My old father had a strike at his works in '69; just
such a February as this.  They wanted to shoot him.

WANKLIN.  What!  In the close season?

WILDER.  By George, there was no close season for employers then!  He
used to go down to his office with a pistol in his pocket.

SCANTLEBURY.  [Faintly alarmed.]  Not seriously?

WILDER.  [With finality.]  Ended in his shootin' one of 'em in the
legs.

SCANTLEBURY.  [Unavoidably feeling his thigh.]  No?  Which?

ANTHONY.  [Lifting the agenda paper.]  To consider the policy of the
Board in relation to the strike.  [There is a silence.]

WILDER.  It's this infernal three-cornered duel--the Union, the men,
and ourselves.

WANKLIN.  We need n't consider the Union.

WILDER.  It's my experience that you've always got to, consider the
Union, confound them!  If the Union were going to withdraw their
support from the men, as they've done, why did they ever allow them
to strike at all?

EDGAR.  We've had that over a dozen times.

WILDER.  Well, I've never understood it!  It's beyond me.  They talk
of the engineers' and furnace-men's demands being excessive--so they
are--but that's not enough to make the Union withdraw their support.
What's behind it?

UNDERWOOD.  Fear of strikes at Harper's and Tinewell's.

WILDER.  [With triumph.]  Afraid of other strikes--now, that's a
reason!  Why could n't we have been told that before?

UNDERWOOD.  You were.

TENCH.  You were absent from the Board that day, sir.

SCANTLEBURY.  The men must have seen they had no chance when the
Union gave them up.  It's madness.

UNDERWOOD.  It's Roberts!

WILDER.  Just our luck, the men finding a fanatical firebrand like
Roberts for leader.  [A pause.]

WANKLIN.  [Looking at ANTHONY.]  Well?

WILDER.  [Breaking in fussily.]  It's a regular mess.  I don't like
the position we're in; I don't like it; I've said so for a long time.
[Looking at WANKLIN.]  When Wanklin and I came down here before
Christmas it looked as if the men must collapse.  You thought so too,
Underwood.

UNDERWOOD.  Yes.

WILDER.  Well, they haven't!  Here we are, going from bad to worse
losing our customers--shares going down!

SCANTLEBURY.  [Shaking his head.]  M'm!  M'm!

WANKLIN.  What loss have we made by this strike, Tench?

TENCH.  Over fifty thousand, sir!

SCANTLEBURY, [Pained.]  You don't say!

WILDER.  We shall never got it back.

TENCH.  No, sir.

WILDER.  Who'd have supposed the men were going to stick out like
this--nobody suggested that. [Looking angrily at TENCH.]

SCANTLEBURY.  [Shaking his head.]  I've never liked a fight--never
shall.

ANTHONY.  No surrender!  [All look at him.]

WILDER.  Who wants to surrender?  [ANTHONY looks at him.]  I--I want
to act reasonably.  When the men sent Roberts up to the Board in
December--then was the time.  We ought to have humoured him; instead
of that the Chairman--[Dropping his eyes before ANTHONY'S]--er--we
snapped his head off.  We could have got them in then by a little
tact.

ANTHONY.  No compromise!

WILDER.  There we are!  This strike's been going on now since
October, and as far as I can see it may last another six months.
Pretty mess we shall be in by then.  The only comfort is, the men'll
be in a worse!

EDGAR.  [To UNDERWOOD.]  What sort of state are they really in,
Frank?

UNDERWOOD.  [Without expression.]  Damnable!

WILDER.  Well, who on earth would have thought they'd have held on
like this without support!

UNDERWOOD.  Those who know them.

WILDER.  I defy any one to know them!  And what about tin?  Price
going up daily.  When we do get started we shall have to work off our
contracts at the top of the market.

WANKLIN.  What do you say to that, Chairman?

ANTHONY.  Can't be helped!

WILDER.  Shan't pay a dividend till goodness knows when!

SCANTLEBURY.  [With emphasis.]  We ought to think of the
shareholders.  [Turning heavily.]  Chairman, I say we ought to think
of the shareholders.  [ANTHONY mutters.]

SCANTLEBURY.  What's that?

TENCH.  The Chairman says he is thinking of you, sir.

SCANTLEBURY.  [Sinking back into torpor.]  Cynic!

WILDER.  It's past a joke.  I don't want to go without a dividend for
years if the Chairman does.  We can't go on playing ducks and drakes
with the Company's prosperity.

EDGAR.  [Rather ashamedly.]  I think we ought to consider the men.

     [All but ANTHONY fidget in their seats.]

SCANTLEBURY.  [With a sigh.]  We must n't think of our private
feelings, young man.  That'll never do.

EDGAR.  [Ironically.]  I'm not thinking of our feelings.  I'm
thinking of the men's.

WILDER.  As to that--we're men of business.

WANKLIN.  That is the little trouble.

EDGAR.  There's no necessity for pushing things so far in the face of
all this suffering--it's--it's cruel.

     [No one speaks, as though EDGAR had uncovered something whose
     existence no man prizing his self-respect could afford to
     recognise.]

WANKLIN.  [With an ironical smile.]  I'm afraid we must n't base our
policy on luxuries like sentiment.

EDGAR.  I detest this state of things.

ANTHONY.  We did n't seek the quarrel.

EDGAR.  I know that sir, but surely we've gone far enough.

ANTHONY.  No. [All look at one another.]

WANKLIN.  Luxuries apart, Chairman, we must look out what we're
doing.

ANTHONY.  Give way to the men once and there'll be no end to it.

WANKLIN.  I quite agree, but----

     [ANTHONY Shakes his head]

You make it a question of bedrock principle?

     [ANTHONY nods.]

Luxuries again, Chairman!  The shares are below par.

WILDER.  Yes, and they'll drop to a half when we pass the next
dividend.

SCANTLEBURY.  [With alarm.]  Come, come!  Not so bad as that.

WILDER.  [Grimly.]  You'll see!  [Craning forward to catch ANTHONY'S
speech.]  I didn't catch----

TENCH.  [Hesitating.]  The Chairman says, sir, "Fais que--que--devra."

EDGAR.  [Sharply.]  My father says: "Do what we ought--and let things
rip."

WILDER.  Tcha!

SCANTLEBURY.  [Throwing up his hands.]  The Chairman's a Stoic--I
always said the Chairman was a Stoic.

WILDER.  Much good that'll do us.

WANKLIN.  [Suavely.]  Seriously, Chairman, are you going to let the
ship sink under you, for the sake of--a principle?

ANTHONY.  She won't sink.

SCANTLEBURY.  [With alarm.]  Not while I'm on the Board I hope.

ANTHONY.  [With a twinkle.]  Better rat, Scantlebury.

SCANTLEBURY.  What a man!

ANTHONY.  I've always fought them; I've never been beaten yet.

WANKLIN.  We're with you in theory, Chairman.  But we're not all made
of cast-iron.

ANTHONY.  We've only to hold on.

WILDER.  [Rising and going to the fire.]  And go to the devil as fast
as we can!

ANTHONY.  Better go to the devil than give in!

WILDER.  [Fretfully.]  That may suit you, sir, but it does n't suit
me, or any one else I should think.

     [ANTHONY looks him in the face-a silence.]

EDGAR.  I don't see how we can get over it that to go on like this
means starvation to the men's wives and families.

     [WILDER turns abruptly to the fire, and SCANTLEBURY puts out a
     hand to push the idea away.]

WANKLIN.  I'm afraid again that sounds a little sentimental.

EDGAR.  Men of business are excused from decency, you think?

WILDER.  Nobody's more sorry for the men than I am, but if they
[lashing himself]  choose to be such a pig-headed lot, it's nothing
to do with us; we've quite enough on our hands to think of ourselves
and the shareholders.

EDGAR.  [Irritably.]  It won't kill the shareholders to miss a
dividend or two; I don't see that that's reason enough for knuckling
under.

SCANTLEBURY.  [With grave discomfort.]  You talk very lightly of your
dividends, young man; I don't know where we are.

WILDER.  There's only one sound way of looking at it.  We can't go on
ruining ourselves with this strike.

ANTHONY.  No caving in!

SCANTLEBURY.  [With a gesture of despair.]  Look at him!

     [ANTHONY'S leaning back in his chair.  They do look at him.]

WILDER.  [Returning to his seat.]  Well, all I can say is, if that's
the Chairman's view, I don't know what we've come down here for.

ANTHONY.  To tell the men that we've got nothing for them----
[Grimly.]  They won't believe it till they hear it spoken in plain
English.

WILDER.  H'm!  Shouldn't be a bit surprised if that brute Roberts had
n't got us down here with the very same idea.  I hate a man with a
grievance.

EDGAR.  [Resentfully.]  We didn't pay him enough for his discovery.
I always said that at the time.

WILDER.  We paid him five hundred and a bonus of two hundred three
years later.  If that's not enough!  What does he want, for goodness'
sake?

TENCH. [Complainingly.]  Company made a hundred thousand out of his
brains, and paid him seven hundred--that's the way he goes on, sir.

WILDER.  The man's a rank agitator!  Look here, I hate the Unions.
But now we've got Harness here let's get him to settle the whole
thing.

ANTHONY.  No! [Again they look at him.]

UNDERWOOD.  Roberts won't let the men assent to that.

SCANTLEBURY.  Fanatic!  Fanatic!

WILDER.  [Looking at ANTHONY.]  And not the only one!  [FROST enters
from the hall.]

FROST.  [To ANTHONY.]  Mr. Harness from the Union, waiting, sir.  The
men are here too, sir.

     [ANTHONY nods.  UNDERWOOD goes to the door, returning with
     HARNESS, a pale, clean-shaven man with hollow cheeks, quick
     eyes, and lantern jaw--FROST has retired.]

UNDERWOOD.  [Pointing to TENCH'S chair.]  Sit there next the
Chairman, Harness, won't you?

     [At HARNESS'S appearance, the Board have drawn together, as it
     were, and turned a little to him, like cattle at a dog.]

HARNESS.  [With a sharp look round, and a bow.]  Thanks!  [He sits---
his accent is slightly nasal.]  Well, gentlemen, we're going to do
business at last, I hope.

WILDER.  Depends on what you call business, Harness.  Why don't you
make the men come in?

HARNESS.  [Sardonically.]  The men are far more in the right than you
are.  The question with us is whether we shan't begin to support them
again.

     [He ignores them all, except ANTHONY, to whom he turns in
     speaking.]

ANTHONY.  Support them if you like; we'll put in free labour and have
done with it.

HARNESS.  That won't do, Mr. Anthony.  You can't get free labour, and
you know it.

ANTHONY.  We shall see that.

HARNESS.  I'm quite frank with you.  We were forced to withhold our
support from your men because some of their demands are in excess of
current rates.  I expect to make them withdraw those demands to-day:
if they do, take it straight from me, gentlemen, we shall back them
again at once.  Now, I want to see something fixed upon before I go
back to-night.  Can't we have done with this old-fashioned tug-of-war
business?  What good's it doing you?  Why don't you recognise once
for all that these people are men like yourselves, and want what's
good for them just as you want what's good for you [Bitterly.]  Your
motor-cars, and champagne, and eight-course dinners.

ANTHONY.  If the men will come in, we'll do something for them.

HARNESS.  [Ironically.]  Is that your opinion too, sir--and yours--
and yours?  [The Directors do not answer.]  Well, all I can say is:
It's a kind of high and mighty aristocratic tone I thought we'd grown
out of--seems I was mistaken.

ANTHONY.  It's the tone the men use.  Remains to be seen which can
hold out longest--they without us, or we without them.

HARNESS.  As business men, I wonder you're not ashamed of this waste
of force, gentlemen.  You know what it'll all end in.

ANTHONY.  What?

HARNESS.  Compromise--it always does.

SCANTLEBURY.  Can't you persuade the men that their interests are the
same as ours?

HARNESS. [Turning, ironically.]  I could persuade them of that, sir,
if they were.

WILDER.  Come, Harness, you're a clever man, you don't believe all
the Socialistic claptrap that's talked nowadays.  There 's no real
difference between their interests and ours.

HARNESS.  There's just one very simple question I'd like to put to
you.  Will you pay your men one penny more than they force you to pay
them?

     [WILDER is silent.]

WANKLIN.  [Chiming in.]  I humbly thought that not to pay more than
was necessary was the A B C of commerce.

HARNESS.  [With irony.]  Yes, that seems to be the A B C of commerce,
sir; and the A B C of commerce is between your interests and the
men's.

SCANTLEBURY.  [Whispering.]  We ought to arrange something.

HARNESS.  [Drily.]  Am I to understand then, gentlemen, that your
Board is going to make no concessions?

     [WANKLIN and WILDER bend forward as if to speak, but stop.]

ANTHONY.  [Nodding.]  None.

     [WANKLIN and WILDER again bend forward, and SCANTLEBURY gives an
     unexpected grunt.]

HARNESS.  You were about to say something, I believe?

     [But SCANTLEBURY says nothing.]

EDGAR.  [Looking up suddenly.]  We're sorry for the state of the men.

HARNESS.  [Icily.]  The men have no use for your pity, sir.  What
they want is justice.

ANTHONY.  Then let them be just.

HARNESS.  For that word "just" read "humble," Mr. Anthony.  Why
should they be humble?  Barring the accident of money, are n't they
as good men as you?

ANTHONY.  Cant!

HARNESS.  Well, I've been five years in America.  It colours a man's
notions.

SCANTLEBURY.  [Suddenly, as though avenging his uncompleted grunt.]
Let's have the men in and hear what they've got to say!

     [ANTHONY nods, and UNDERWOOD goes out by the single door.]

HARNESS.  [Drily.]  As I'm to have an interview with them this
afternoon, gentlemen, I 'll ask you to postpone your final decision
till that's over.

     [Again ANTHONY nods, and taking up his glass drinks.]

     [UNDERWOOD comes in again, followed by ROBERTS, GREEN, BULGIN,
     THOMAS, ROUS.  They file in, hat in hand, and stand silent in a
     row.  ROBERTS is lean, of middle height, with a slight stoop.
     He has a little rat-gnawn, brown-grey beard, moustaches, high
     cheek-bones, hollow cheeks, small fiery eyes.  He wears an old
     and grease-stained blue serge suit, and carries an old bowler
     hat.  He stands nearest the Chairman.  GREEN, next to him, has a
     clean, worn face, with a small grey goatee beard and drooping
     moustaches, iron spectacles, and mild, straightforward eyes.  He
     wears an overcoat, green with age, and a linen collar.  Next to
     him is BULGIN, a tall, strong man, with a dark moustache, and
     fighting jaw, wearing a red muffler, who keeps changing his cap
     from one hand to the other.  Next to him is THOMAS, an old man
     with a grey moustache, full beard, and weatherbeaten, bony face,
     whose overcoat discloses a lean, plucked-looking neck.  On his
     right, ROUS, the youngest of the five, looks like a soldier; he
     has a glitter in his eyes.]

UNDERWOOD.  [Pointing.]  There are some chairs there against the
wall, Roberts; won't you draw them up and sit down?

ROBERTS.  Thank you, Mr. Underwood--we'll stand in the presence of
the Board.  [He speaks in a biting and staccato voice, rolling his
r's, pronouncing his a's like an Italian a, and his consonants short
and crisp.]  How are you, Mr. Harness?  Did n't expect t' have the
pleasure of seeing you till this afternoon.

HARNESS.  [Steadily.]  We shall meet again then, Roberts.

ROBERTS.  Glad to hear that; we shall have some news for you to take
to your people.

ANTHONY.  What do the men want?

ROBERTS.  [Acidly.]  Beg pardon, I don't quite catch the Chairman's
remark.

TENCH.  [From behind the Chairman's chair.]  The Chairman wishes to
know what the men have to say.

ROBERTS.  It's what the Board has to say we've come to hear.  It's
for the Board to speak first.

ANTHONY.  The Board has nothing to say.

ROBERTS.  [Looking along the line of men.]  In that case we're
wasting the Directors' time.  We'll be taking our feet off this
pretty carpet.

     [He turns, the men move slowly, as though hypnotically
     influenced.]

WANKLIN: [Suavely.]  Come, Roberts, you did n't give us this long
cold journey for the pleasure of saying that.

THOMAS.  [A pure Welshman.]  No, sir, an' what I say iss----

ROBERTS.[Bitingly.]  Go on, Henry Thomas, go on.  You 're better able
to speak to the--Directors than me.  [THOMAS is silent.]

TENCH.  The Chairman means, Roberts, that it was the men who asked
for the conference, the Board wish to hear what they have to say.

ROBERTS.  Gad!  If I was to begin to tell ye all they have to say, I
wouldn't be finished to-day.  And there'd be some that'd wish they'd
never left their London palaces.

HARNESS.  What's your proposition, man?  Be reasonable.

ROBERTS.  You want reason Mr. Harness?  Take a look round this
afternoon before the meeting.  [He looks at the men; no sound escapes
them.]  You'll see some very pretty scenery.

HARNESS.  All right my friend; you won't put me off.

ROBERTS.  [To the men.]  We shan't put Mr. Harness off.  Have some
champagne with your lunch, Mr. Harness; you'll want it, sir.

HARNESS.  Come, get to business, man!

THOMAS.  What we're asking, look you, is just simple justice.

ROBERTS.  [Venomously.]  Justice from London?  What are you talking
about, Henry Thomas?  Have you gone silly?  [THOMAS is silent.]  We
know very well what we are--discontented dogs--never satisfied.  What
did the Chairman tell me up in London?  That I did n't know what I
was talking about.  I was a foolish, uneducated man, that knew
nothing of the wants of the men I spoke for,

EDGAR.  Do please keep to the point.

ANTHONY.  [Holding up his hand.]  There can only be one master,
Roberts.

ROBERTS.  Then, be Gad, it'll be us.

     [There is a silence; ANTHONY and ROBERTS stare at one another.]

UNDERWOOD.  If you've nothing to say to the Directors, Roberts,
perhaps you 'll let Green or Thomas speak for the men.

     [GREEN and THOMAS look anxiously at ROBERTS, at each other, and
     the other men.]

GREEN.  [An Englishman.]  If I'd been listened to, gentlemen----

THOMAS.  What I'fe got to say iss what we'fe all got to say----

ROBERTS.  Speak for yourself, Henry Thomas.

SCANTLEBURY.  [With a gesture of deep spiritual discomfort.]  Let the
poor men call their souls their own!

ROBERTS.  Aye, they shall keep their souls, for it's not much body
that you've left them, Mr. [with biting emphasis, as though the word
were an offence]  Scantlebury!  [To the men.]  Well, will you speak,
or shall I speak for you?

ROUS.  [Suddenly.]  Speak out, Roberts, or leave it to others.

ROBERTS.  [Ironically.]  Thank you, George Rous.  [Addressing himself
to ANTHONY.]  The Chairman and Board of Directors have honoured us by
leaving London and coming all this way to hear what we've got to say;
it would not be polite to keep them any longer waiting.

WILDER.  Well, thank God for that!

ROBERTS.  Ye will not dare to thank Him when I have done, Mr. Wilder,
for all your piety.  May be your God up in London has no time to
listen to the working man.  I'm told He is a wealthy God; but if he
listens to what I tell Him, He will know more than ever He learned in
Kensington.

HARNESS.  Come, Roberts, you have your own God.  Respect the God of
other men.

ROBERTS.  That's right, sir.  We have another God down here; I doubt
He is rather different to Mr. Wilder's.  Ask Henry Thomas; he will
tell you whether his God and Mr. Wilder's are the same.

     [THOMAS lifts his hand, and cranes his head as though to
     prophesy.]

WANKLIN.  For goodness' sake, let 's keep to the point, Roberts.

ROBERTS.  I rather think it is the point, Mr. Wanklin.  If you can
get the God of Capital to walk through the streets of Labour, and pay
attention to what he sees, you're a brighter man than I take you for,
for all that you're a Radical.

ANTHONY.  Attend to me, Roberts!  [Roberts is silent.]  You are here
to speak for the men, as I am here to speak for the Board.

     [He looks slowly round.]

     [WILDER, WANKLIN, and SCANTLEBURY make movements of uneasiness,
     and EDGAR gazes at the floor.  A faint smile comes on HARNESS'S
     face.]

Now then, what is it?

ROBERTS.  Right, Sir!

     [Throughout all that follows, he and ANTHONY look fixedly upon
     each other.  Men and Directors show in their various ways
     suppressed uneasiness, as though listening to words that they
     themselves would not have spoken.]

The men can't afford to travel up to London; and they don't trust you
to believe what they say in black and white.  They know what the post
is [he darts a look at UNDERWOOD and TENCH], and what Directors'
meetings are: "Refer it to the manager--let the manager advise us on
the men's condition.  Can we squeeze them a little more?"

UNDERWOOD.  [In a low voice.]  Don't hit below the belt, Roberts!

ROBERTS.  Is it below the belt, Mr. Underwood?  The men know.  When I
came up to London, I told you the position straight.  An' what came
of it?  I was told I did n't know what I was talkin' about.  I can't
afford to travel up to London to be told that again.

ANTHONY.  What have you to say for the men?

ROBERTS.  I have this to say--and first as to their condition.  Ye
shall 'ave no need to go and ask your manager.  Ye can't squeeze them
any more.  Every man of us is well-nigh starving.  [A surprised
murmur rises from the men.  ROBERTS looks round.]  Ye wonder why I
tell ye that?  Every man of us is going short.  We can't be no worse
off than we've been these weeks past.  Ye need n't think that by
waiting yell drive us to come in.  We'll die first, the whole lot of
us.  The men have sent for ye to know, once and for all, whether ye
are going to grant them their demands.  I see the sheet of paper in
the Secretary's hand.  [TENCH moves nervously.]  That's it, I think,
Mr. Tench.  It's not very large.

TENCH.  [Nodding.]  Yes.

ROBERTS.  There's not one sentence of writing on that paper that we
can do without.

     [A movement amongst the men.  ROBERTS turns on them sharply.]

Isn't that so?

     [The men assent reluctantly.  ANTHONY takes from TENCH the paper
     and peruses it.]

Not one single sentence.  All those demands are fair.  We have not.
asked anything that we are not entitled to ask.  What I said up in
London, I say again now: there is not anything on that piece of paper
that a just man should not ask, and a just man give.

     [A pause.]

ANTHONY.  There is not one single demand on this paper that we will
grant.

     [In the stir that follows on these words, ROBERTS watches the
     Directors and ANTHONY the men.  WILDER gets up abruptly and goes
     over to the fire.]

ROBERTS.  D' ye mean that?

ANTHONY.  I do.

     [WILDER at the fire makes an emphatic movement of disgust.]

ROBERTS.  [Noting it, with dry intensity.]  Ye best know whether the
condition of the Company is any better than the condition of the men.
[Scanning the Directors' faces.]  Ye best know whether ye can afford
your tyranny--but this I tell ye: If ye think the men will give way
the least part of an inch, ye're making the worst mistake ye ever
made.  [He fixes his eyes on SCANTLEBURY.]  Ye think because the
Union is not supporting us--more shame to it!--that we'll be coming
on our knees to you one fine morning.  Ye think because the men have
got their wives an' families to think of--that it's just a question
of a week or two----

ANTHONY.  It would be better if you did not speculate so much on what
we think.

ROBERTS.  Aye!  It's not much profit to us!  I will say this for you,
Mr. Anthony--ye know your own mind!  [Staying at ANTHONY.]  I can
reckon on ye!

ANTHONY.  [Ironically.]  I am obliged to you!

ROBERTS.  And I know mine.  I tell ye this: The men will send their
wives and families where the country will have to keep them; an' they
will starve sooner than give way.  I advise ye, Mr. Anthony, to
prepare yourself for the worst that can happen to your Company.  We
are not so ignorant as you might suppose.  We know the way the cat is
jumping.  Your position is not all that it might be--not exactly!

ANTHONY.  Be good enough to allow us to judge of our position for
ourselves.  Go back, and reconsider your own.

ROBERTS.  [Stepping forward.]  Mr. Anthony, you are not a young man
now; from the time I remember anything ye have been an enemy to every
man that has come into your works.  I don't say that ye're a mean
man, or a cruel man, but ye've grudged them the say of any word in
their own fate.  Ye've fought them down four times.  I've heard ye
say ye love a fight--mark my words--ye're fighting the last fight
ye'll ever fight!

     [TENCH touches ROBERTS'S sleeve.]

UNDERWOOD.  Roberts!  Roberts!

ROBERTS.  Roberts!  Roberts!  I must n't speak my mind to the
Chairman, but the Chairman may speak his mind to me!

WILDER.  What are things coming to?

ANTHONY, [With a grim smile at WILDER.]  Go on, Roberts; say what you
like!

ROBERTS.  [After a pause.]  I have no more to say.

ANTHONY.  The meeting stands adjourned to five o'clock.

WANKLIN.  [In a low voice to UNDERWOOD.]  We shall never settle
anything like this.

ROBERTS.  [Bitingly.]  We thank the Chairman and Board of Directors
for their gracious hearing.

     [He moves towards the door; the men cluster together stupefied;
     then ROUS, throwing up his head, passes ROBERTS and goes out.
     The others follow.]

ROBERTS.  [With his hand on the door--maliciously.]  Good day,
gentlemen!  [He goes out.]

HARNESS.  [Ironically.]  I congratulate you on the conciliatory
spirit that's been displayed.  With your permission, gentlemen, I'll
be with you again at half-past five.  Good morning!

     [He bows slightly, rests his eyes on ANTHONY, who returns his
     stare unmoved, and, followed by UNDERWOOD, goes out.  There is a
     moment of uneasy silence.  UNDERWOOD reappears in the doorway.]

WILDER.  [With emphatic disgust.]  Well!

     [The double-doors are opened.]

ENID.  [Standing in the doorway.]  Lunch is ready.

     [EDGAR, getting up abruptly, walks out past his sister.]

WILDER.  Coming to lunch, Scantlebury?

SCANTLEBURY.  [Rising heavily.]  I suppose so, I suppose so.  It's
the only thing we can do.

     [They go out through the double-doors.]

WANKLIN.  [In a low voice.]  Do you really mean
to fight to a finish, Chairman?

     [ANTHONY nods.]

WANKLIN.  Take care!  The essence of things is to know when to stop.

     [ANTHONY does not answer.]

WANKLIN.  [Very gravely.]  This way disaster lies.  The ancient
Trojans were fools to your father, Mrs. Underwood.  [He goes out
through the double-doors.]

ENID.  I want to speak to father, Frank.

     [UNDERWOOD follows WANKLIN Out.  TENCH, passing round the table,
     is restoring order to the scattered pens and papers.]

ENID.  Are n't you coming, Dad?

     [ANTHONY Shakes his head.  ENID looks meaningly at TENCH.]

ENID.  Won't you go and have some lunch, Mr. Tench?

TENCH.  [With papers in his hand.]  Thank you, ma'am, thank you!  [He
goes slowly, looking back.]

ENID.  [Shutting the doors.]  I do hope it's settled, Father!

ANTHONY.  No!

ENID.  [Very disappointed.]  Oh!  Have n't you done anything!

     [ANTHONY shakes his head.]

ENID.  Frank says they all want to come to a compromise, really,
except that man Roberts.

ANTHONY.  I don't.

ENID.  It's such a horrid position for us.  If you were the wife of
the manager, and lived down here, and saw it all.  You can't realise,
Dad!

ANTHONY.  Indeed?

ENID.  We see all the distress.  You remember my maid Annie, who
married Roberts?  [ANTHONY nods.]  It's so wretched, her heart's
weak; since the strike began, she has n't even been getting proper
food.  I know it for a fact, Father.

ANTHONY.  Give her what she wants, poor woman!

ENID.  Roberts won't let her take anything from us.

ANTHONY.  [Staring before him.]  I can't be answerable for the men's
obstinacy.

ENID.  They're all suffering.  Father!  Do stop it, for my sake!

ANTHONY.  [With a keen look at her.]  You don't understand, my dear.

ENID.  If I were on the Board, I'd do something.

ANTHONY.  What would you do?

ENID.  It's because you can't bear to give way.  It's so----

ANTHONY.  Well?

ENID.  So unnecessary.

ANTHONY.  What do you know about necessity?  Read your novels, play
your music, talk your talk, but don't try and tell me what's at the
bottom of a struggle like this.

ENID.  I live down here, and see it.

ANTHONY.  What d' you imagine stands between you and your class and
these men that you're so sorry for?

ENID.  [Coldly.]  I don't know what you mean, Father.

ANTHONY.  In a few years you and your children would be down in the
condition they're in, but for those who have the eyes to see things
as they are and the backbone to stand up for themselves.

ENID.  You don't know the state the men are in.

ANTHONY.  I know it well enough.

ENID.  You don't, Father; if you did, you would n't

ANTHONY.  It's you who don't know the simple facts of the position.
What sort of mercy do you suppose you'd get if no one stood between
you and the continual demands of labour?  This sort of mercy--
[He puts his hand up to his throat and squeezes it.]  First would go
your sentiments, my dear; then your culture, and your comforts would
be going all the time!

ENID.  I don't believe in barriers between classes.

ANTHONY.  You--don't--believe--in--barriers--between the classes?

ENID.  [Coldly.]  And I don't know what that has to do with this
question.

ANTHONY.  It will take a generation or two for you to understand.

ENID.  It's only you and Roberts, Father, and you know it!

     [ANTHONY thrusts out his lower lip.]

It'll ruin the Company.

ANTHONY.  Allow me to judge of that.

ENID.  [Resentfully.]  I won't stand by and let poor Annie Roberts
suffer like this!  And think of the children, Father!  I warn you.

ANTHONY.  [With a grim smile.]  What do you propose to do?

ENID.  That's my affair.

     [ANTHONY only looks at her.]

ENID.  [In a changed voice, stroking his sleeve.]  Father, you know
you oughtn't to have this strain on you--you know what Dr. Fisher
said!

ANTHONY.  No old man can afford to listen to old women.

ENID.  But you have done enough, even if it really is such a matter
of principle with you.

ANTHONY.  You think so?

ENID.  Don't Dad!  [Her face works.]  You--you might think of us!

ANTHONY.  I am.

ENID.  It'll break you down.

ANTHONY.  [Slowly.]  My dear, I am not going to funk; on that you may
rely.

     [Re-enter TENCH with papers; he glances at them, then plucking
     up courage.]

TENCH.  Beg pardon, Madam, I think I'd rather see these papers were
disposed of before I get my lunch.

     [ENID, after an impatient glance at him, looks at her father,
     turns suddenly, and goes into the drawing-room.]

TENCH.  [Holding the papers and a pen to ANTHONY, very nervously.]
Would you sign these for me, please sir?

     [ANTHONY takes the pen and signs.]

TENCH.  [Standing with a sheet of blotting-paper behind EDGAR'S
chair, begins speaking nervously.]  I owe my position to you, sir.

ANTHONY.  Well?

TENCH.  I'm obliged to see everything that's going on, sir; I--I
depend upon the Company entirely.  If anything were to happen to it,
it'd be disastrous for me.  [ANTHONY nods.]  And, of course, my
wife's just had another; and so it makes me doubly anxious just now.
And the rates are really terrible down our way.

ANTHONY.  [With grim amusement.]  Not more terrible than they are up
mine.

TENCH.  No, Sir?  [Very nervously.]  I know the Company means a great
deal to you, sir.

ANTHONY.  It does; I founded it.

TENCH.  Yes, Sir.  If the strike goes on it'll be very serious.  I
think the Directors are beginning to realise that, sir.

ANTHONY.  [Ironically.]  Indeed?

TENCH.  I know you hold very strong views, sir, and it's always your
habit to look things in the face; but I don't think the Directors--
like it, sir, now they--they see it.

ANTHONY.  [Grimly.]  Nor you, it seems.

TENCH.  [With the ghost of a smile.]  No, sir; of course I've got my
children, and my wife's delicate; in my position I have to think of
these things.

     [ANTHONY nods.]

It was n't that I was going to say, sir, if you'll excuse me----
[hesitates]

ANTHONY.  Out with it, then!

TENCH.  I know--from my own father, sir, that when you get on in life
you do feel things dreadfully----

ANTHONY.  [Almost paternally.]  Come, out with it, Trench!

TENCH.  I don't like to say it, sir.

ANTHONY.  [Stonily.]  You Must.

TENCH.  [After a pause, desperately bolting it out.]  I think the
Directors are going to throw you over, sir.

ANTHONY.  [Sits in silence.]  Ring the bell!

     [TENCH nervously rings the bell and stands by the fire.]

TENCH.  Excuse me for saying such a thing.  I was only thinking of
you, sir.

     [FROST enters from the hall, he comes to the foot of the table,
     and looks at ANTHONY; TENCH coveys his nervousness by arranging
     papers.]

ANTHONY.  Bring me a whiskey and soda.

FROST.  Anything to eat, sir?

     [ANTHONY shakes his head.  FROST goes to the sideboard, and
     prepares the drink.]

TENCH.  [In a low voice, almost supplicating.]  If you could see your
way, sir, it would be a great relief to my mind, it would indeed.
[He looks up at ANTHONY, who has not moved.]  It does make me so very
anxious.  I haven't slept properly for weeks, sir, and that's a fact.

     [ANTHONY looks in his face, then slowly shakes his head.]

[Disheartened.]  No, Sir?  [He goes on arranging papers.]

     [FROST places the whiskey and salver and puts it down by
     ANTHONY'S right hand.  He stands away, looking gravely at
     ANTHONY.]

FROST.  Nothing I can get you, sir?

     [ANTHONY shakes his head.]

You're aware, sir, of what the doctor said, sir?

ANTHONY.  I am.

     [A pause.  FROST suddenly moves closer to him, and speaks in a
     low voice.]

FROST.  This strike, sir; puttin' all this strain on you.  Excuse me,
sir, is it--is it worth it, sir?

     [ANTHONY mutters some words that are inaudible.]

Very good, sir!

     [He turns and goes out into the hall.  TENCH makes two attempts
     to speak; but meeting his Chairman's gaze he drops his eyes,
     and, turning dismally, he too goes out.  ANTHONY is left alone.
     He grips the glass, tilts it, and drinks deeply; then sets it
     down with a deep and rumbling sigh, and leans back in his
     chair.]


                         The curtain falls.





ACT II

SCENE I

     It is half-past three.  In the kitchen of Roberts's cottage a
     meagre little fire is burning.  The room is clean and tidy, very
     barely furnished, with a brick floor and white-washed walls,
     much stained with smoke.  There is a kettle on the fire.  A door
     opposite the fireplace opens inward from a snowy street.  On the
     wooden table are a cup and saucer, a teapot, knife, and plate of
     bread and cheese.  Close to the fireplace in an old arm-chair,
     wrapped in a rug, sits MRS. ROBERTS, a thin and dark-haired
     woman about thirty-five, with patient eyes.  Her hair is not
     done up, but tied back with a piece of ribbon.  By the fire,
     too, is MRS. YEO; a red-haired, broad-faced person.  Sitting
     near the table is MRS. ROUS, an old lady, ashen-white, with
     silver hair; by the door, standing, as if about to go, is MRS.
     BULGIN, a little pale, pinched-up woman.  In a chair, with her
     elbows resting on the table, avid her face resting in her hands,
     sits MADGE THOMAS, a good-looking girl, of twenty-two, with high
     cheekbones, deep-set eyes, and dark untidy hair.  She is
     listening to the talk, but she neither speaks nor moves.


MRS. YEO.  So he give me a sixpence, and that's the first bit o'
money I seen this week.  There an't much 'eat to this fire.  Come and
warm yerself Mrs. Rous, you're lookin' as white as the snow, you are.

MRS. ROUS.  [Shivering--placidly.]  Ah!  but the winter my old man
was took was the proper winter.  Seventy-nine that was, when none of
you was hardly born--not Madge Thomas, nor Sue Bulgin.  [Looking at
them in turn.]  Annie Roberts, 'ow old were you, dear?

MRS ROBERTS.  Seven, Mrs. Rous.

MRS. ROUS.  Seven--well, there!  A tiny little thing!

MRS. YEO.  [Aggressively.]  Well, I was ten myself, I remembers it.

MRS. Rous.  [Placidly.]  The Company hadn't been started three years.
Father was workin' on the acid, that's 'ow he got 'is pisoned-leg.
I kep' sayin' to 'im, "Father, you've got a pisoned leg."  "Well," 'e
said, "Mother, pison or no pison, I can't afford to go a-layin' up."
An' two days after, he was on 'is back, and never got up again.  It
was Providence!  There was n't none o' these Compensation Acts then.

MRS. YEO.  Ye had n't no strike that winter!  [With grim humour.]
This winter's 'ard enough for me.  Mrs. Roberts, you don't want no
'arder winter, do you?  Wouldn't seem natural to 'ave a dinner, would
it, Mrs. Bulgin?

MRS. BULGIN.  We've had bread and tea last four days.

MRS. YEO.  You got that Friday's laundry job?

MRS. BULGIN.  [Dispiritedly.]  They said they'd give it me, but when
I went last Friday, they were full up.  I got to go again next week.

MRS. YEO.  Ah!  There's too many after that.  I send Yeo out on the
ice to put on the gentry's skates an' pick up what 'e can.  Stops 'im
from broodin' about the 'ouse.

MRS. BULGIN.  [In a desolate, matter-of-fact voice.]  Leavin' out the
men--it's bad enough with the children.  I keep 'em in bed, they
don't get so hungry when they're not running about; but they're that
restless in bed they worry your life out.

MRS. YEO.  You're lucky they're all so small.  It 's the goin' to
school that makes 'em 'ungry.  Don't Bulgin give you anythin'?

MRS. BULGIN. [Shakes her head, then, as though by afterthought.]
Would if he could, I s'pose.

MRS. YEO.  [Sardonically.]  What!  'Ave n't 'e got no shares in the
Company?

MRS. ROUS.  [Rising with tremulous cheerfulness.]  Well, good-bye,
Annie Roberts, I'm going along home.

MRS. ROBERTS.  Stay an' have a cup of tea, Mrs. Rous?

MRS. ROUS.  [With the faintest smile.]  Roberts 'll want 'is tea when
he comes in.  I'll just go an' get to bed; it's warmer there than
anywhere.

     [She moves very shakily towards the door.]

MRS. YEO.  [Rising and giving her an arm.]  Come on, Mother, take my
arm; we're all going' the same way.

MRS. ROUS.  [Taking the arm.]Thank you, my dearies!

     [THEY go out, followed by MRS. BULGIN.]

MADGE.  [Moving for the first time.]  There, Annie, you see that!  I
told George Rous, "Don't think to have my company till you've made an
end of all this trouble.  You ought to be ashamed," I said, "with
your own mother looking like a ghost, and not a stick to put on the
fire.  So long as you're able to fill your pipes, you'll let us
starve."  "I 'll take my oath, Madge," he said, "I 've not had smoke
nor drink these three weeks!"  "Well, then, why do you go on with
it?"  "I can't go back on Roberts!" .  .  .  That's it!  Roberts,
always Roberts!  They'd all drop it but for him.  When he talks it's
the devil that comes into them.

     [A silence.  MRS. ROBERTS makes a movement of pain.]

Ah!  You don't want him beaten!  He's your man.  With everybody like
their own shadows!  [She makes a gesture towards MRS. ROBERTS.]  If
ROUS wants me he must give up Roberts.  If he gave him up--they all
would.  They're only waiting for a lead.  Father's against him--
they're all against him in their hearts.

MRS. ROBERTS.  You won't beat Roberts!

     [They look silently at each other.]

MADGE.  Won't I?  The cowards--when their own mothers and their own
children don't know where to turn.

MRS. ROBERTS.  Madge!

MADGE.  [Looking searchingly at MRS. ROBERTS.]  I wonder he can look
you in the face.  [She squats before the fire, with her hands out to
the flame.]  Harness is here again.  They'll have to make up their
minds to-day.

MRS. ROBERTS.  [In a soft, slow voice, with a slight West-country
burr.]  Roberts will never give up the furnace-men and engineers.
'T wouldn't be right.

MADGE.  You can't deceive me.  It's just his pride.

     [A tapping at the door is heard, the women turn as ENID enters.
     She wears a round fur cap, and a jacket of squirrel's fur.  She
     closes the door behind her.]

ENID.  Can I come in, Annie?

MRS. ROBERTS.  [Flinching.]  Miss Enid!  Give Mrs. Underwood a chair,
Madge!

     [MADGE gives ENID the chair she has been sitting on.]

ENID.  Thank you!

ENID.  Are you any better?

MRS. ROBERTS.  Yes, M'm; thank you, M'm.

ENID.  [Looking at the sullen MADGE as though requesting her
departure.]  Why did you send back the jelly?  I call that really
wicked of you!

MRS. ROBERTS.  Thank you, M'm, I'd no need for it.

ENID.  Of course!  It was Roberts's doing, wasn't it?  How can he let
all this suffering go on amongst you?

MADGE.  [Suddenly.]  What suffering?

ENID.  [Surprised.]  I beg your pardon!

MADGE.  Who said there was suffering?

MRS. ROBERTS.  Madge!

MADGE.  [Throwing her shawl over her head.]  Please to let us keep
ourselves to ourselves.  We don't want you coming here and spying on
us.

ENID.  [Confronting her, but without rising.]  I did n't speak to
you.

MADGE.  [In a low, fierce voice.]  Keep your kind feelings to
yourself.  You think you can come amongst us, but you're mistaken.
Go back and tell the Manager that.

ENID.  [Stonily.]  This is not your house.

MADGE.  [Turning to the door.]  No, it is not my house; keep clear of
my house, Mrs. Underwood.

     [She goes out.  ENID taps her fingers on the table.]

MRS. ROBERTS.  Please to forgive Madge Thomas, M'm; she's a bit upset
to-day.

     [A pause.]

ENID.  [Looking at her.]  Oh, I think they're so stupid, all of them.

MRS. ROBERTS.  [With a faint smile].  Yes, M'm.

ENID.  Is Roberts out?

MRS. ROBERTS.  Yes, M'm.

ENID.  It is his doing, that they don't come to an agreement.  Now is
n't it, Annie?

MRS. ROBERTS.  [Softly, with her eyes on ENID, and moving the fingers
of one hand continually on her breast.]  They do say that your
father, M'm----

ENID.  My father's getting an old man, and you know what old men are.

MRS. ROBERTS.  I am sorry, M'm.

ENID.  [More softly.]  I don't expect you to feel sorry, Annie.  I
know it's his fault as well as Roberts's.

MRS. ROBERTS.  I'm sorry for any one that gets old, M'm; it 's
dreadful to get old, and Mr. Anthony was such a fine old man, I
always used to think.

ENID.  [Impulsively.]  He always liked you, don't you remember?  Look
here, Annie, what can I do?  I do so want to know.  You don't get
what you ought to have.  [Going to the fire, she takes the kettle
off, and looks for coals.]  And you're so naughty sending back the
soup and things.

MRS. ROBERTS.  [With a faint smile.]  Yes, M'm?

ENID.  [Resentfully.]  Why, you have n't even got coals?

MRS. ROBERTS.  If you please, M'm, to put the kettle on again;
Roberts won't have long for his tea when he comes in.  He's got to
meet the men at four.

ENID.  [Putting the kettle on.]  That means he'll lash them into a
fury again.  Can't you stop his going, Annie?

     [MRS. ROBERTS smiles ironically.]

Have you tried?

     [A silence.]

Does he know how ill you are?

MRS. ROBERTS.  It's only my weak 'eard, M'm.

ENID.  You used to be so well when you were with us.

MRS. ROBERTS.  [Stiffening.]  Roberts is always good to me.

ENID.  But you ought to have everything you want, and you have
nothing!

MRS. ROBERTS.  [Appealingly.]  They tell me I don't look like a dyin'
woman?

ENID.  Of course you don't; if you could only have proper--- Will you
see my doctor if I send him to you?  I'm sure he'd do you good.

MRS. ROBERTS.  [With faint questioning.]  Yes, M'm.

ENID.  Madge Thomas ought n't to come here; she only excites you.  As
if I did n't know what suffering there is amongst the men!  I do feel
for them dreadfully, but you know they have gone too far.

MRS. ROBERTS.  [Continually moving her fingers.]  They say there's no
other way to get better wages, M'm.

ENID.  [Earnestly.]  But, Annie, that's why the Union won't help
them.  My husband's very sympathetic with the men, but he says they
are not underpaid.

MRS. ROBERTS.  No, M'm?

ENID.  They never think how the Company could go on if we paid the
wages they want.

MRS. ROBERTS.  [With an effort.]  But the dividends having been so
big, M'm.

ENID.  [Takes aback.]  You all seem to think the shareholders are
rich men, but they're not--most of them are really no better off than
working men.

     [MRS. ROBERTS smiles.]

They have to keep up appearances.

MRS. ROBERTS.  Yes, M'm?

ENID.  You don't have to pay rates and taxes, and a hundred other
things that they do.  If the men did n't spend such a lot in drink
and betting they'd be quite well off!

MRS. ROBERTS.  They say, workin' so hard, they must have some
pleasure.

ENID.  But surely not low pleasure like that.

MRS. ROBERTS.  [A little resentfully.]  Roberts never touches a drop;
and he's never had a bet in his life.

ENID.  Oh!  but he's not a com----I mean he's an engineer----
a superior man.

MRS. ROBERTS.  Yes, M'm.  Roberts says they've no chance of other
pleasures.

ENID.  [Musing.]  Of course, I know it's hard.

MRS. ROBERTS.  [With a spice of malice.]  And they say gentlefolk's
just as bad.

ENID.  [With a smile.]  I go as far as most people, Annie, but you
know, yourself, that's nonsense.

MRS. ROBERTS.  [With painful effort.]  A lot 'o the men never go near
the Public; but even they don't save but very little, and that goes
if there's illness.

ENID.  But they've got their clubs, have n't they?

MRS. ROBERTS.  The clubs only give up to eighteen shillin's a week,
M'm, and it's not much amongst a family.  Roberts says workin' folk
have always lived from hand to mouth.  Sixpence to-day is worth more
than a shillin' to-morrow, that's what they say.

ENID.  But that's the spirit of gambling.

MRS. ROBERTS.  [With a sort of excitement.]  Roberts says a working
man's life is all a gamble, from the time 'e 's born to the time 'e
dies.

     [ENID leans forward, interested.  MRS. ROBERTS goes on with a
     growing excitement that culminates in the personal feeling of
     the last words.]

He says, M'm, that when a working man's baby is born, it's a toss-up
from breath to breath whether it ever draws another, and so on all
'is life; an' when he comes to be old, it's the workhouse or the
grave.  He says that without a man is very near, and pinches and
stints 'imself and 'is children to save, there can't be neither
surplus nor security.  That's why he wouldn't have no children [she
sinks back], not though I wanted them.

ENID.  Yes, yes, I know!

MRS. ROBERTS.  No you don't, M'm.  You've got your children, and
you'll never need to trouble for them.

ENID.  [Gently.]  You oughtn't to be talking so much, Annie.  [Then,
in spite of herself.]  But Roberts was paid a lot of money, was n't
he, for discovering that process?

MRS. ROBERTS.  [On the defensive.]  All Roberts's savin's have gone.
He 's always looked forward to this strike.  He says he's no right to
a farthing when the others are suffering.  'T is n't so with all o'
them!  Some don't seem to care no more than that--so long as they get
their own.

ENID.  I don't see how they can be expected to when they 're
suffering like this.  [In a changed voice.]  But Roberts ought to
think of you!  It's all terrible----!  The kettle's boiling.  Shall I
make the tea?  [She takes the teapot and, seeing tea there, pours
water into it.]  Won't you have a cup?

MRS. ROBERTS.  No, thank you, M'm.  [She is listening, as though for
footsteps.]  I'd--sooner you did n't see Roberts, M'm, he gets so
wild.

ENID.  Oh!  but I must, Annie; I'll be quite calm, I promise.

MRS. ROBERTS.  It's life an' death to him, M'm.

ENID.  [Very gently.]  I'll get him to talk to me outside, we won't
excite you.

MRS. ROBERTS.  [Faintly.]  No, M'm.

     [She gives a violent start.  ROBERTS has come in, unseen.]

ROBERTS.  [Removing his hat--with subtle mockery.]  Beg pardon for
coming in; you're engaged with a lady, I see.

ENID.  Can I speak to you, Mr. Roberts?

ROBERTS.  Whom have I the pleasure of addressing, Ma'am?

ENID.  But surely you know me!  I 'm Mrs. Underwood.

ROBERTS.  [With a bow of malice.]  The daughter of our Chairman.

ENID.  [Earnestly.]  I've come on purpose to speak to you; will you
come outside a minute?

     [She looks at MRS. ROBERTS.]

ROBERTS.  [Hanging up his hat.]  I have nothing to say, Ma'am.

ENID.  But I must speak to you, please.

     [She moves towards the door.]

ROBERTS.  [With sudden venom.]  I have not the time to listen!

MRS. ROBERTS.  David!

ENID.  Mr. Roberts, please!

ROBERTS.  [Taking off his overcoat.]  I am sorry to disoblige a lady
--Mr. Anthony's daughter.

ENID.  [Wavering, then with sudden decision.]  Mr. Roberts, I know
you've another meeting of the men.

     [ROBERTS bows.]

I came to appeal to you.  Please, please, try to come to some
compromise; give way a little, if it's only for your own sakes!

ROBERTS.  [Speaking to himself.]  The daughter of Mr. Anthony begs me
to give way a little, if it's only for our own sakes!

ENID.  For everybody's sake; for your wife's sake.

ROBERTS.  For my wife's sake, for everybody's sake--for the sake of
Mr. Anthony.

ENID.  Why are you so bitter against my father?  He has never done
anything to you.

ROBERTS.  Has he not?

ENID.  He can't help his views, any more than you can help yours.

ROBERTS.  I really did n't know that I had a right to views!

ENID.  He's an old man, and you----

     [Seeing his eyes fixed on her, she stops.]

ROBERTS.  [Without raising his voice.]  If I saw Mr. Anthony going to
die, and I could save him by lifting my hand, I would not lift the
little finger of it.

ENID.  You--you----[She stops again, biting her lips.]

ROBERTS.  I would not, and that's flat!

ENID.  [Coldly.]  You don't mean what you say, and you know it!

ROBERTS.  I mean every word of it.

ENID.  But why?

ROBERTS.  [With a flash.]  Mr. Anthony stands for tyranny!  That's
why!

ENID.  Nonsense!

     [MRS. ROBERTS makes a movement as if to rise, but sinks back in
     her chair.]

ENID.  [With an impetuous movement.]  Annie!

ROBERTS.  Please not to touch my wife!

ENID.  [Recoiling with a sort of horror.]  I believe--you are mad.

ROBERTS.  The house of a madman then is not the fit place for a lady.

ENID.  I 'm not afraid of you.

ROBERTS.  [Bowing.]  I would not expect the daughter of Mr. Anthony
to be afraid.  Mr. Anthony is not a coward like the rest of them.

ENID.  [Suddenly.]  I suppose you think it brave, then, to go on with
the struggle.

ROBERTS.  Does Mr. Anthony think it brave to fight against women and
children?  Mr. Anthony is a rich man, I believe; does he think it
brave to fight against those who have n't a penny?  Does he think it
brave to set children crying with hunger, an' women shivering with
cold?

ENID.  [Putting up her hand, as though warding off a blow.]  My
father is acting on his principles, and you know it!

ROBERTS.  And so am I!

ENID.  You hate us; and you can't bear to be beaten!

ROBERTS.  Neither can Mr. Anthony, for all that he may say.

ENID.  At any rate you might have pity on your wife.

     [MRS. ROBERTS who has her hand pressed to her heart, takes it
     away, and tries to calm her breathing.]

ROBERTS.  Madam, I have no more to say.

     [He takes up the loaf.  There is a knock at the door, and
     UNDERWOOD comes in.  He stands looking at them, ENID turns to
     him, then seems undecided.]

UNDERWOOD.  Enid!

ROBERTS.  [Ironically.]  Ye were not needing to come for your wife,
Mr. Underwood.  We are not rowdies.

UNDERWOOD.  I know that, Roberts.  I hope Mrs. Roberts is better.

     [ROBERTS turns away without answering.  Come, Enid!]

ENID.  I make one more appeal to you, Mr. Roberts, for the sake of
your wife.

ROBERTS.  [With polite malice.]  If I might advise ye, Ma'am--make it
for the sake of your husband and your father.

     [ENID, suppressing a retort, goes out.  UNDERWOOD opens the door
     for her and follows.  ROBERTS, going to the fire, holds out his
     hands to the dying glow.]

ROBERTS.  How goes it, my girl?  Feeling better, are you?

     [MRS. ROBERTS smiles faintly.  He brings his overcoat and wraps
     it round her.]

[Looking at his watch.]  Ten minutes to four!  [As though inspired.]
I've seen their faces, there's no fight in them, except for that one
old robber.

MRS. ROBERTS.  Won't you stop and eat, David?  You've 'ad nothing all
day!

ROBERTS.  [Putting his hand to his throat.]  Can't swallow till those
old sharks are out o' the town: [He walks up and down.]  I shall have
a bother with the men--there's no heart in them, the cowards.  Blind
as bats, they are--can't see a day before their noses.

MRS. ROBERTS.  It's the women, David.

ROBERTS.  Ah!  So they say!  They can remember the women when their
own bellies speak!  The women never stop them from the drink; but
from a little suffering to themselves in a sacred cause, the women
stop them fast enough.

MRS. ROBERTS.  But think o' the children, David.

ROBERTS.  Ah!  If they will go breeding themselves for slaves,
without a thought o' the future o' them they breed----

MRS. ROBERTS.  [Gasping.]  That's enough, David; don't begin to talk
of that--I won't--I can't----

ROBERTS.  [Staring at her.]  Now, now, my girl!

MRS. ROBERTS.  [Breathlessly.]  No, no, David--I won't!

ROBERTS.  There, there!  Come, come!  That's right!  [Bitterly.]  Not
one penny will they put by for a day like this.  Not they!  Hand to
mouth--Gad!--I know them!  They've broke my heart.  There was no
holdin' them at the start, but now the pinch 'as come.

MRS. ROBERTS.  How can you expect it, David?  They're not made of
iron.

ROBERTS.  Expect it?  Wouldn't I expect what I would do meself?
Wouldn't I starve an' rot rather than give in?  What one man can do,
another can.

MRS. ROBERTS.  And the women?

ROBERTS.  This is not women's work.

MRS. ROBERTS.  [With a flash of malice.]  No, the women may die for
all you care.  That's their work.

ROBERTS.  [Averting his eyes.]  Who talks of dying?  No one will die
till we have beaten these----

     [He meets her eyes again, and again turns his away.  Excitedly.]

This is what I've been waiting for all these months.  To get the old
robbers down, and send them home again without a farthin's worth o'
change.  I 've seen their faces, I tell you, in the valley of the
shadow of defeat.

     [He goes to the peg and takes down his hat.]

MRS. ROBERTS.  [Following with her eyes-softly.]  Take your overcoat,
David; it must be bitter cold.

ROBERTS.  [Coming up to her-his eyes are furtive.]  No, no!  There,
there, stay quiet and warm.  I won't be long, my girl.

MRS. ROBERTS.  [With soft bitterness.]  You'd better take it.

     [She lifts the coat.  But ROBERTS puts it back, and wraps it
     round her.  He tries to meet her eyes, but cannot.  MRS.
     ROBERTS stays huddled in the coat, her eyes, that follow him
     about, are half malicious, half yearning.  He looks at his watch
     again, and turns to go.  In the doorway he meets JAN THOMAS, a
     boy of ten in clothes too big for him, carrying a penny
     whistle.]

ROBERTS.  Hallo, boy!

     [He goes.  JAN stops within a yard of MRS. ROBERTS, and stares
     at her without a word.]

MRS. ROBERTS.  Well, Jan!

JAN.  Father 's coming; sister Madge is coming.

     [He sits at the table, and fidgets with his whistle; he blows
     three vague notes; then imitates a cuckoo.]

     [There is a tap on the door.  Old THOMAS comes in.]

THOMAS.  A very coot tay to you, Ma'am.  It is petter that you are.

MRS. ROBERTS.  Thank you, Mr. Thomas.

THOMAS.  [Nervously.]  Roberts in?

MRS. ROBERTS.  Just gone on to the meeting, Mr. Thomas.

THOMAS.  [With relief, becoming talkative.]  This is fery
unfortunate, look you!  I came to tell him that we must make terms
with London.  It is a fery great pity he is gone to the meeting.  He
will be kicking against the pricks, I am thinking.

MRS. ROBERTS.  [Half rising.]  He'll never give in, Mr. Thomas.

THOMAS.  You must not be fretting, that is very pat for you.  Look
you, there iss hartly any mans for supporting him now, but the
engineers and George Rous.  [Solemnly.]  This strike is no longer
Going with Chapel, look you!  I have listened carefully, an' I have
talked with her.

     [JAN blows.]

Sst!  I don't care what th' others say, I say that Chapel means us to
be stopping the trouple, that is what I make of her; and it is my
opinion that this is the fery best thing for all of us.  If it was
n't my opinion, I ton't say but it is my opinion, look you.

MRS. ROBERTS.  [Trying to suppress her excitement.]  I don't know
what'll come to Roberts, if you give in.

THOMAS.  It iss no disgrace whateffer!  All that a mortal man coult
do he hass tone.  It iss against Human Nature he hass gone; fery
natural any man may do that; but Chapel has spoken and he must not go
against her.

     [JAN imitates the cuckoo.]

Ton't make that squeaking!  [Going to the door.]  Here iss my
daughter come to sit with you.  A fery goot day, Ma'am--no fretting
--rememper!

     [MADGE comes in and stands at the open door, watching the
     street.]

MADGE.  You'll be late, Father; they're beginning.  [She catches him
by the sleeve.]  For the love of God, stand up to him, Father--this
time!

THOMAS.  [Detaching his sleeve with dignity.]  Leave me to do what's
proper, girl!

     [He goes out.  MADGE, in the centre of the open doorway,
     slowly moves in, as though before the approach of some one.]

ROUS.  [Appearing in the doorway.]  Madge!

     [MADGE stands with her back to MRS. ROBERTS, staring at him with
     her head up and her hands behind her.]

ROUS.  [Who has a fierce distracted look.]  Madge!  I'm going to the
meeting.

     [MADGE, without moving, smiles contemptuously.]

D' ye hear me?

     [They speak in quick low voices.]

MADGE.  I hear!  Go, and kill your own mother, if you must.

[ROUS seizes her by both her arms.  She stands rigid, with her head
bent back.  He releases her, and he too stands motionless.]

ROUS.  I swore to stand by Roberts.  I swore that!  Ye want me to go
back on what I've sworn.

MADGE.  [With slow soft mockery.]  You are a pretty lover!

ROUS.  Madge!

MADGE.  [Smiling.]  I've heard that lovers do what their girls ask
them--

     [JAN sounds the cuckoo's notes]

--but that's not true, it seems!

ROUS.  You'd make a blackleg of me!

MADGE.  [With her eyes half-closed.]  Do it for me!

ROUS.  [Dashing his hand across his brow.]  Damn!  I can't!

MADGE.  [Swiftly.]  Do it for me!

ROUS.  [Through his teeth.]  Don't play the wanton with me!

MADGE.  [With a movement of her hand towards JAN--quick and low.]
I would be that for the children's sake!

ROUS.  [In a fierce whisper.]  Madge!  Oh, Madge!

MADGE.  [With soft mockery.]  But you can't break your word for me!

ROUS.  [With a choke.] Then, Begod, I can!

     [He turns and rushes off.]

     [MADGE Stands, with a faint smile on her face, looking after
     him.  She turns to MRS. ROBERTS.]

MADGE.  I have done for Roberts!

MRS. ROBERTS.  [Scornfully.]  Done for my man, with that----!
[She sinks back.]

MADGE.  [Running to her, and feeling her hands.]  You're as cold as a
stone!  You want a drop of brandy.  Jan, run to the "Lion"; say, I
sent you for Mrs. Roberts.

MRS. ROBERTS.  [With a feeble movement.]  I'll just sit quiet, Madge.
Give Jan--his--tea.

MADGE.  [Giving JAN a slice of bread.]  There, ye little rascal.
Hold your piping.  [Going to the fire, she kneels.]  It's going out.

MRS. ROBERTS.  [With a faint smile.] 'T is all the same!

     [JAN begins to blow his whistle.]

MADGE.  Tsht!  Tsht!--you

     [JAN Stops.]

MRS. ROBERTS.  [Smiling.]  Let 'im play, Madge.

MADGE.  [On her knees at the fire, listening.]  Waiting an' waiting.
I've no patience with it; waiting an' waiting--that's what a woman
has to do!  Can you hear them at it--I can!

     [JAN begins again to play his whistle; MADGE gets up; half
     tenderly she ruffles his hair; then, sitting, leans her elbows
     on the table, and her chin on her hands.  Behind her, on MRS.
     ROBERTS'S face the smile has changed to horrified surprise.  She
     makes a sudden movement, sitting forward, pressing her hands
     against her breast.  Then slowly she sinks' back; slowly her
     face loses the look of pain, the smile returns.  She fixes her
     eyes again on JAN, and moves her lips and finger to the tune.]


                         The curtain falls.




SCENE II

     It is past four.  In a grey, failing light, an open muddy space
     is crowded with workmen.  Beyond, divided from it by a
     barbed-wire fence, is the raised towing-path of a canal, on which
     is moored a barge.  In the distance are marshes and snow-covered
     hills.  The "Works" high wall runs from the canal across the open
     space, and ivy the angle of this wall is a rude platform of
     barrels and boards.  On it, HARNESS is standing.  ROBERTS, a
     little apart from the crowd, leans his back against the wall. On
     the raised towing-path two bargemen lounge and smoke
     indifferently.

HARNESS.  [Holding out his hand.]  Well, I've spoken to you straight.
If I speak till to-morrow I can't say more.

JAGO.  [A dark, sallow, Spanish-looking man with a short, thin
beard.]  Mister, want to ask you!  Can they get blacklegs?

BULGIN.  [Menacing.]  Let 'em try.

     [There are savage murmurs from the crowd.]

BROWN.  [A round-faced man.]  Where could they get 'em then?

EVANS.  [A small, restless, harassed man, with a fighting face.]
There's always blacklegs; it's the nature of 'em.  There's always men
that'll save their own skins.

     [Another savage murmur.  There is a movement, and old THOMAS,
     joining the crowd, takes his stand in front.]

HARNESS.  [Holding up his hand.]  They can't get them.  But that
won't help you.  Now men, be reasonable.  Your demands would have
brought on us the burden of a dozen strikes at a time when we were
not prepared for them.  The Unions live by justice, not to one, but
all.  Any fair man will tell you--you were ill-advised!  I don't say
you go too far for that which you're entitled to, but you're going
too far for the moment; you've dug a pit for yourselves.  Are you to
stay there, or are you to climb out?  Come!

LEWIS.  [A clean-cut Welshman with a dark moustache.]  You've hit it,
Mister!  Which is it to be?

     [Another movement in the crowd, and ROUS, coming quickly, takes
     his stand next THOMAS.]

HARNESS.  Cut your demands to the right pattern, and we 'll see you
through; refuse, and don't expect me to waste my time coming down
here again.  I 'm not the sort that speaks at random, as you ought to
know by this time.  If you're the sound men I take you for--no matter
who advises you against it--[he fixes his eyes on ROBERTS] you 'll
make up your minds to come in, and trust to us to get your terms.
Which is it to be?  Hands together, and victory--or--the starvation
you've got now?

     [A prolonged murmur from the crowd.]

JAGO.  [Sullenly.]  Talk about what you know.

HARNESS.  [Lifting his voice above the murmur.]  Know?  [With cold
passion.]  All that you've been through, my friend, I 've been
through--I was through it when I was no bigger than [pointing to a
youth]  that shaver there; the Unions then were n't what they are
now.  What's made them strong?  It's hands together that 's made them
strong.  I 've been through it all, I tell you, the brand's on my
soul yet.  I know what you 've suffered--there's nothing you can tell
me that I don't know; but the whole is greater than the part, and you
are only the part.  Stand by us, and we will stand by you.

     [Quartering them with his eyes, he waits.  The murmuring swells;
     the men form little groups.  GREEN, BULGIN, and LEWIS talk
     together.]

LEWIS.  Speaks very sensible, the Union chap.

GREEN.  [Quietly.]  Ah!  if I 'd a been listened to, you'd 'ave 'eard
sense these two months past.

     [The bargemen are seen laughing. ]

LEWIS.  [Pointing.]  Look at those two blanks over the fence there!

BULGIN.  [With gloomy violence.]  They'd best stop their cackle, or I
'll break their jaws.

JAGO.  [Suddenly.]  You say the furnace men's paid enough?

HARNESS.  I did not say they were paid enough; I said they were paid
as much as the furnace men in similar works elsewhere.

EVANS.  That's a lie!  [Hubbub.]  What about Harper's?

HARNESS.  [With cold irony.]  You may look at home for lies, my man.
Harper's shifts are longer, the pay works out the same.

HENRY ROUS.  [A dark edition of his brother George.]  Will ye support
us in double pay overtime Saturdays?

HARNESS.  Yes, we will.

JAGO.  What have ye done with our subscriptions?

HARNESS.  [Coldly.]  I have told you what we will do with them.

EVANS.  Ah!  will, it's always will!  Ye'd have our mates desert us.
[Hubbub.]

BULGIN.  [Shouting.]  Hold your row!

     [EVANS looks round angrily.]

HARNESS.  [Lifting his voice.]  Those who know their right hands from
their lefts know that the Unions are neither thieves nor traitors.
I 've said my say.  Figure it out, my lads; when you want me you know
where I shall be.

     [He jumps down, the crowd gives way, he passes through them, and
     goes away.  A BARGEMAN looks after him jerking his pipe with a
     derisive gesture.  The men close up in groups, and many looks
     are cast at ROBERTS, who stands alone against the wall.]

EVANS.  He wants ye to turn blacklegs, that's what he wants.  He
wants ye to go back on us.  Sooner than turn blackleg--I 'd starve, I
would.

BULGIN.  Who's talkin' o' blacklegs--mind what you're saying, will
you?

BLACKSMITH.  [A youth with yellow hair and huge arms.]  What about
the women?

EVANS.  They can stand what we can stand, I suppose, can't they?

BLACKSMITH.  Ye've no wife?

EVANS.  An' don't want one!

THOMAS.  [Raising his voice.]  Aye!  Give us the power to come to
terms with London, lads.

DAVIES.  [A dark, slow-fly, gloomy man.]  Go up the platform, if you
got anything to say, go up an' say it.

     [There are cries of "Thomas!" He is pushed towards the
     platform; he ascends it with difficulty, and bares his head,
     waiting for silence.  A hush.]

RED-HAIRED YOUTH.  [suddenly.]  Coot old Thomas!

     [A hoarse laugh; the bargemen exchange remarks; a hush again,
     and THOMAS begins speaking.]

THOMAS.  We are all in the tepth together, and it iss Nature that has
put us there.

HENRY ROUS.  It's London put us there!

EVANS.  It's the Union.

THOMAS.  It iss not Lonton; nor it iss not the Union--it iss Nature.
It iss no disgrace whateffer to a potty to give in to Nature.  For
this Nature iss a fery pig thing; it is pigger than what a man is.
There iss more years to my hett than to the hett of any one here.
It is fery pat, look you, this Going against Nature.  It is pat to
make other potties suffer, when there is nothing to pe cot py it.

     [A laugh.  THOMAS angrily goes on.]

What are ye laughing at?  It is pat, I say!  We are fighting for a
principle; there is no potty that shall say I am not a peliever in
principle.  Putt when Nature says "No further," then it is no coot
snapping your fingers in her face.

     [A laugh from ROBERTS, and murmurs of approval.]

This Nature must pe humort.  It is a man's pisiness to pe pure,
honest, just, and merciful.  That's what Chapel tells you.  [To
ROBERTS, angrily.]  And, look you, David Roberts, Chapel tells you ye
can do that without Going against Nature.

JAGO.  What about the Union?

THOMAS.  I ton't trust the Union; they haf treated us like tirt.
"Do what we tell you," said they.  I haf peen captain of the
furnace-men twenty years, and I say to the Union--[excitedly]--"Can you
tell me then, as well as I can tell you, what iss the right wages for
the work that these men do?"  For fife and twenty years I haf paid my
moneys to the Union and--[with great excitement]--for nothings!  What
iss that but roguery, for all that this Mr. Harness says!

EVANS.  Hear, hear.

HENRY ROUS.  Get on with you!  Cut on with it then!

THOMAS.  Look you, if a man toes not trust me, am I going to trust
him?

JAGO.  That's right.

THOMAS.  Let them alone for rogues, and act for ourselves.

     [Murmurs.]

BLACKSMITH.  That's what we been doin', haven't we?

THOMAS.  [With increased excitement.]  I wass brought up to do for
meself.  I wass brought up to go without a thing, if I hat not moneys
to puy it.  There iss too much, look you, of doing things with other
people's moneys.  We haf fought fair, and if we haf peen beaten, it
iss no fault of ours.  Gif us the power to make terms with London for
ourself; if we ton't succeed, I say it iss petter to take our peating
like men, than to tie like togs, or hang on to others' coat-tails to
make them do our pisiness for us!

EVANS.  [Muttering.]  Who wants to?

THOMAS.  [Craning.]  What's that?  If I stand up to a potty, and he
knocks me town, I am not to go hollering to other potties to help me;
I am to stand up again; and if he knocks me town properly, I am to
stay there, is n't that right?

     [Laughter.]

JAGO.  No Union!

HENRY ROUS.  Union!

     [Murmurs.]

     [Others take up the shout.]

EVANS.  Blacklegs!


     [BULGIN and the BLACKSMITH shake their fists at EVANS.]

THOMAS.  [With a gesture.]  I am an olt man, look you.

     [A sudden silence, then murmurs again.]

LEWIS.  Olt fool, with his "No Union!"

BULGIN.  Them furnace chaps!  For twopence I 'd smash the faces o'
the lot of them.

GREEN.  If I'd a been listened to at the first!

THOMAS.  [Wiping his brow.]  I'm comin' now to what I was going to
say----

DAVIES.  [Muttering.]  An' time too!

THOMAS.  [Solemnly.]  Chapel says: Ton't carry on this strife!  Put
an end to it!

JAGO.  That's a lie!  Chapel says go on!

THOMAS.  [Scornfully.]  Inteet!  I haf ears to my head.

RED-HAIRED YOUTH.  Ah!  long ones!

     [A laugh.]

JAGO.  Your ears have misbeled you then.

THOMAS.  [Excitedly.]  Ye cannot be right if I am, ye cannot haf it
both ways.

RED-HAIRED YOUTH.  Chapel can though!

     ["The Shaver" laughs; there are murmurs from the crowd.]

THOMAS.  [Fixing his eyes on "The Shaver."]  Ah!  ye 're Going the
roat to tamnation.  An' so I say to all of you.  If ye co against
Chapel I will not pe with you, nor will any other Got-fearing man.

     [He steps down from the platform.  JAGO makes his way towards
     it.  There are cries of "Don't let 'im go up!"]

JAGO.  Don't let him go up?  That's free speech, that is.  [He goes
up.]  I ain't got much to say to you.  Look at the matter plain; ye
've come the road this far, and now you want to chuck the journey.
We've all been in one boat; and now you want to pull in two.  We
engineers have stood by you; ye 're ready now, are ye, to give us the
go-by?  If we'd aknown that before, we'd not a-started out with you
so early one bright morning!  That's all I 've got to say.  Old man
Thomas a'n't got his Bible lesson right.  If you give up to London,
or to Harness, now, it's givin' us the chuck--to save your skins--you
won't get over that, my boys; it's a dirty thing to do.

     [He gets down; during his little speech, which is ironically
     spoken, there is a restless discomfort in the crowd.  ROUS,
     stepping forward, jumps on the platform.  He has an air of
     fierce distraction.  Sullen murmurs of disapproval from the
     crowd.]

ROUS.  [Speaking with great excitement.]  I'm no blanky orator,
mates, but wot I say is drove from me.  What I say is yuman nature.
Can a man set an' see 'is mother starve?  Can 'e now?

ROBERTS.  [Starting forward.]  Rous!

ROUS.  [Staring at him fiercely.]  Sim 'Arness said fair!  I've
changed my mind!

ROBERTS.  Ah!  Turned your coat you mean!

     [The crowd manifests a great surprise.]

LEWIS.  [Apostrophising Rous.]  Hallo!  What's turned him round?

ROUS.  [Speaking with intense excitement.]  'E said fair.  "Stand by
us," 'e said, "and we'll stand by you."  That's where we've been
makin' our mistake this long time past; and who's to blame fort?  [He
points at ROBERTS]  That man there!  "No," 'e said, "fight the
robbers," 'e said, "squeeze the breath out o' them!" But it's not the
breath out o' them that's being squeezed; it's the breath out of us
and ours, and that's the book of truth.  I'm no orator, mates, it's
the flesh and blood in me that's speakin', it's the heart o' me.
[With a menacing, yet half-ashamed movement towards ROBERTS.]  He'll
speak to you again, mark my words, but don't ye listen.  [The crowd
groans.]  It's hell fire that's on that man's tongue.  [ROBERTS is
seen laughing.]  Sim 'Arness is right.  What are we without the
Union--handful o' parched leaves--a puff o' smoke.  I'm no orator,
but I say: Chuck it up!  Chuck it up!  Sooner than go on starving the
women and the children.

     [The murmurs of acquiescence almost drown the murmurs of
     dissent.]

EVANS.  What's turned you to blacklegging?

ROUS.  [With a furious look.]  Sim 'Arness knows what he's talking
about.  Give us power to come to terms with London; I'm no orator,
but I say--have done wi' this black misery!

     [He gives his muter a twist, jerks his head back, and jumps off
     the platform.  The crowd applauds and surges forward.  Amid
     cries of "That's enough!"  "Up Union!"  "Up Harness!" ROBERTS
     quietly ascends the platform.  There is a moment of silence.]

BLACKSMITH.  We don't want to hear you.  Shut it!

HENRY Rous.  Get down!

     [Amid such cries they surge towards the platform.]

EVANS.  [Fiercely.]  Let 'im speak!  Roberts!  Roberts!

BULGIN.  [Muttering.]  He'd better look out that I don't crack his
skull.

     [ROBERTS faces the crowd, probing them with his eyes till they
     gradually become silent.  He begins speaking.  One of the
     bargemen rises and stands.]

ROBERTS.  You don't want to hear me, then?  You'll listen to Rous and
to that old man, but not to me.  You'll listen to Sim Harness of the
Union that's treated you so fair; maybe you'll listen to those men
from London?  Ah!  You groan!  What for?  You love their feet on your
necks, don't you?  [Then as BULGIN elbows his way towards the
platform, with calm bathos.]  You'd like to break my jaw, John
Bulgin.  Let me speak, then do your smashing, if it gives you
pleasure.  [BULGIN Stands motionless and sullen.]  Am I a liar, a
coward, a traitor?  If only I were, ye'd listen to me, I'm sure.
[The murmurings cease, and there is now dead silence.]  Is there a
man of you here that has less to gain by striking?  Is there a man of
you that had more to lose?  Is there a man of you that has given up
eight hundred pounds since this trouble here began?  Come now, is
there?  How much has Thomas given up--ten pounds or five, or what?
You listened to him, and what had he to say?  "None can pretend," he
said, "that I'm not a believer in principle--[with biting irony]--but
when Nature says: 'No further, 't es going agenst Nature.'" I tell
you if a man cannot say to Nature: "Budge me from this if ye can!"--
[with a sort of exaltation] his principles are but his belly.  "Oh,
but," Thomas says, "a man can be pure and honest, just and merciful,
and take off his hat to Nature!"  I tell you Nature's neither pure
nor honest, just nor merciful.  You chaps that live over the hill,
an' go home dead beat in the dark on a snowy night--don't ye fight
your way every inch of it?  Do ye go lyin' down an' trustin' to the
tender mercies of this merciful Nature?  Try it and you'll soon know
with what ye've got to deal.  'T es only by that--[he strikes a blow
with his clenched fist]--in Nature's face that a man can be a man.
"Give in," says Thomas, "go down on your knees; throw up your foolish
fight, an' perhaps," he said, "perhaps your enemy will chuck you down
a crust."

JAGO.  Never!

EVANS.  Curse them!

THOMAS.  I nefer said that.

ROBERTS.  [Bitingly.]  If ye did not say it, man, ye meant it.
An' what did ye say about Chapel?  "Chapel's against it," ye said.
"She 's against it!"  Well, if Chapel and Nature go hand in hand,
it's the first I've ever heard of it.  That young man there--
[pointing to ROUS]--said I 'ad 'ell fire on my tongue.  If I had I
would use it all to scorch and wither this talking of surrender.
Surrendering 's the work of cowards and traitors.

HENRY ROUS.  [As GEORGE ROUS moves forward.]  Go for him, George--
don't stand his lip!

ROBERTS.  [Flinging out his finger.]  Stop there, George Rous, it's
no time this to settle personal matters.  [ROUS stops.]  But there
was one other spoke to you--Mr. Simon Harness.  We have not much to
thank Mr. Harness and the Union for.  They said to us "Desert your
mates, or we'll desert you."  An' they did desert us.

EVANS.  They did.

ROBERTS.  Mr. Simon Harness is a clever man, but he has come too
late.  [With intense conviction.]  For all that Mr. Simon Harness
says, for all that Thomas, Rous, for all that any man present here
can say--We've won the fight!

     [The crowd sags nearer, looking eagerly up.]

[With withering scorn.]  You've felt the pinch o't in your bellies.
You've forgotten what that fight 'as been; many times I have told
you; I will tell you now this once again.  The fight o' the country's
body and blood against a blood-sucker.  The fight of those that spend
themselves with every blow they strike and every breath they draw,
against a thing that fattens on them, and grows and grows by the law
of merciful Nature.  That thing is Capital!  A thing that buys the
sweat o' men's brows, and the tortures o' their brains, at its own
price.  Don't I know that?  Wasn't the work o' my brains bought for
seven hundred pounds, and has n't one hundred thousand pounds been
gained them by that seven hundred without the stirring of a finger.
It is a thing that will take as much and give you as little as it
can.  That's Capital!  A thing that will say--"I'm very sorry for
you, poor fellows--you have a cruel time of it, I know," but will not
give one sixpence of its dividends to help you have a better time.
That's Capital!  Tell me, for all their talk, is there one of them
that will consent to another penny on the Income Tax to help the
poor?  That's Capital!  A white-faced, stony-hearted monster!  Ye
have got it on its knees; are ye to give up at the last minute to
save your miserable bodies pain?  When I went this morning to those
old men from London, I looked into their very 'earts.  One of them
was sitting there--Mr. Scantlebury, a mass of flesh nourished on us:
sittin' there for all the world like the shareholders in this
Company, that sit not moving tongue nor finger, takin' dividends a
great dumb ox that can only be roused when its food is threatened.
I looked into his eyes and I saw he was afraid--afraid for himself
and his dividends; afraid for his fees, afraid of the very
shareholders he stands for; and all but one of them's afraid--like
children that get into a wood at night, and start at every rustle of
the leaves.  I ask you, men--[he pauses, holding out his hand till
there is utter silence]--give me a free hand to tell them: "Go you
back to London.  The men have nothing for you!" [A murmuring.]  Give
me that, an' I swear to you, within a week you shall have from London
all you want.

EVANS, JAGO, and OTHERS.  A free hand!  Give him a free hand!  Bravo
--bravo!

ROBERTS.  'T is not for this little moment of time we're fighting
[the murmuring dies], not for ourselves, our own little bodies, and
their wants, 't is for all those that come after throughout all time.
[With intense sadness.]  Oh!  men--for the love o' them, don't roll
up another stone upon their heads, don't help to blacken the sky, an'
let the bitter sea in over them.  They're welcome to the worst that
can happen to me, to the worst that can happen to us all, are n't
they--are n't they?  If we can shake [passionately]  that white-faced
monster with the bloody lips, that has sucked the life out of
ourselves, our wives, and children, since the world began.  [Dropping
the note of passion but with the utmost weight and intensity.]  If we
have not the hearts of men to stand against it breast to breast, and
eye to eye, and force it backward till it cry for mercy, it will go
on sucking life; and we shall stay forever what we are [in almost a
whisper], less than the very dogs.

     [An utter stillness, and ROBERTS stands rocking his body
     slightly, with his eyes burning the faces of the crowd.]

EVANS and JAGO.  [Suddenly.]  Roberts!  [The shout is taken up.]

     [There is a slight movement in the crowd, and MADGE passing
     below the towing-path, stops by the platform, looking up at
     ROBERTS.  A sudden doubting silence.]

ROBERTS.  "Nature," says that old man, "give in to Nature."  I tell
you, strike your blow in Nature's face--an' let it do its worst!

     [He catches sight of MADGE, his brows contract, he looks away.]

MADGE.  [In a low voice-close to the platform.]  Your wife's dying!

     [ROBERTS glares at her as if torn from some pinnacle of
     exaltation.]

ROBERTS.  [Trying to stammer on.]  I say to you--answer them--answer
them----

     [He is drowned by the murmur in the crowd.]

THOMAS.  [Stepping forward.]  Ton't you hear her, then?

ROBERTS.  What is it?  [A dead silence.]

THOMAS.  Your wife, man!

     [ROBERTS hesitates, then with a gesture, he leaps down, and goes
     away below the towing-path, the men making way for him.  The
     standing bargeman opens and prepares to light a lantern.
     Daylight is fast failing.]

MADGE.  He need n't have hurried!  Annie Roberts is dead. [Then in
the silence, passionately.]  You pack of blinded hounds!  How many
more women are you going to let to die?

     [The crowd shrinks back from her, and breaks up in groups, with
     a confused, uneasy movement.  MADGE goes quickly away below the
     towing-path.  There is a hush as they look after her.]

LEWIS.  There's a spitfire, for ye!

BULGIN.  [Growling.]  I'll smash 'er jaw.

GREEN.  If I'd a-been listened to, that poor woman----

THOMAS.  It's a judgment on him for going against Chapel.  I tolt him
how 't would be!

EVANS.  All the more reason for sticking by 'im.  [A cheer.]  Are you
goin' to desert him now 'e 's down?  Are you going to chuck him over,
now 'e 's lost 'is wife?

     [The crowd is murmuring and cheering all at once.]

ROUS.  [Stepping in front of platform.]  Lost his wife!  Aye!  Can't
ye see?  Look at home, look at your own wives!  What's to save them?
Ye'll have the same in all your houses before long!

LEWIS.  Aye, aye!

HENRY ROUS.  Right!  George, right!

     [There are murmurs of assent.]

ROUS.  It's not us that's blind, it's Roberts.  How long will ye put
up with 'im!

HENRY, ROUS, BULGIN, DAVIES.  Give 'im the chuck!

     [The cry is taken up.]

EVANS.  [Fiercely.]  Kick a man that's down?  Down?

HENRY ROUS.  Stop his jaw there!

     [EVANS throws up his arm at a threat from BULGIN.  The bargeman,
     who has lighted the lantern, holds it high above his head.]

ROUS.  [Springing on to the platform.]  What brought him down then,
but 'is own black obstinacy?  Are ye goin' to follow a man that can't
see better than that where he's goin'?

EVANS.  He's lost 'is wife.

ROUS.  An' who's fault's that but his own.  'Ave done with 'im, I
say, before he's killed your own wives and mothers.

DAVIES.  Down 'im!

HENRY ROUS.  He's finished!

BROWN.  We've had enough of 'im!

BLACKSMITH.  Too much!

     [The crowd takes up these cries, excepting only EVANS, JAGO, and
     GREEN, who is seen to argue mildly with the BLACKSMITH.]

ROUS.  [Above the hubbub.]  We'll make terms with the Union, lads.


     [Cheers.]

EVANS.  [Fiercely.]  Ye blacklegs!

BULGIN.  [Savagely-squaring up to him.]  Who are ye callin'
blacklegs, Rat?

     [EVANS throws up his fists, parries the blow, and returns it.
     They fight.  The bargemen are seen holding up the lantern and
     enjoying the sight.  Old THOMAS steps forward and holds out his
     hands.]

THOMAS.  Shame on your strife!

     [The BLACKSMITH, BROWN, LEWIS, and the RED-HAIRED YOUTH pull
     EVANS and BULGIN apart.  The stage is almost dark.]


                         The curtain falls.




ACT III

     It is five o'clock.  In the UNDERWOODS' drawing-room, which is
     artistically furnished, ENID is sitting on the sofa working at a
     baby's frock.  EDGAR, by a little spindle-legged table in the
     centre of the room, is fingering a china-box.  His eyes are
     fixed on the double-doors that lead into the dining-room.

EDGAR.  [Putting down the china-box, and glancing at his watch.]
Just on five, they're all in there waiting, except Frank.  Where's
he?

ENID.  He's had to go down to Gasgoyne's about a contract.  Will you
want him?

EDGAR.  He can't help us.  This is a director's job.  [Motioning
towards a single door half hidden by a curtain.]  Father in his room?

ENID.  Yes.

EDGAR.  I wish he'd stay there, Enid.

     [ENID looks up at him.  This is a beastly business, old girl?]

     [He takes up the little box again and turns it over and over.]

ENID.  I went to the Roberts's this afternoon, Ted.

EDGAR.  That was n't very wise.

ENID.  He's simply killing his wife.

EDGAR.  We are you mean.

ENID.  [Suddenly.]  Roberts ought to give way!

EDGAR.  There's a lot to be said on the men's side.

ENID.  I don't feel half so sympathetic with them as I did before I
went.  They just set up class feeling against you.  Poor Annie was
looking dread fully bad--fire going out, and nothing fit for her to
eat.

     [EDGAR walks to and fro.]

But she would stand up for Roberts.  When you see all this
wretchedness going on and feel you can do nothing, you have to shut
your eyes to the whole thing.

EDGAR.  If you can.

ENID.  When I went I was all on their side, but as soon as I got
there I began to feel quite different at once.  People talk about
sympathy with the working classes, they don't know what it means to
try and put it into practice.  It seems hopeless.

EDGAR.  Ah!  well.

ENID.  It's dreadful going on with the men in this state.  I do hope
the Dad will make concessions.

EDGAR.  He won't.  [Gloomily.]  It's a sort of religion with him.
Curse it!  I know what's coming!  He'll be voted down.

ENID.  They would n't dare!

EDGAR.  They will--they're in a funk.

ENID.  [Indignantly.]  He'd never stand it!

EDGAR.  [With a shrug.]  My dear girl, if you're beaten in a vote,
you've got to stand it.

ENID.  Oh!  [She gets up in alarm.]  But would he resign?

EDGAR.  Of course!  It goes to the roots of his beliefs.

ENID.  But he's so wrapped up in this company, Ted!  There'd be
nothing left for him!  It'd be dreadful!

     [EDGAR shrugs his shoulders.]

Oh, Ted, he's so old now!  You must n't let them!

EDGAR.  [Hiding his feelings in an outburst.]  My sympathies in this
strike are all on the side of the men.

ENID.  He's been Chairman for more than thirty years!  He made the
whole thing!  And think of the bad times they've had; it's always
been he who pulled them through.  Oh, Ted, you must!

EDGAR.  What is it you want?  You said just now you hoped he'd make
concessions.  Now you want me to back him in not making them.  This
is n't a game, Enid!

ENID.  [Hotly.]  It is n't a game to me that the Dad's in danger of
losing all he cares about in life.  If he won't give way, and he's
beaten, it'll simply break him down!

EDGAR.  Did n't you say it was dreadful going on with the men in this
state?

ENID.  But can't you see, Ted, Father'll never get over it!  You must
stop them somehow.  The others are afraid of him.  If you back him
up----

EDGAR.  [Putting his hand to his head.]  Against my convictions--
against yours!  The moment it begins to pinch one personally----

ENID.  It is n't personal, it's the Dad!

EDGAR.  Your family or yourself, and over goes the show!

ENID.  [Resentfully.]  If you don't take it seriously, I do.

EDGAR.  I am as fond of him as you are; that's nothing to do with it.

ENID.  We can't tell about the men; it's all guess-work.  But we know
the Dad might have a stroke any day.  D' you mean to say that he
isn't more to you than----

EDGAR.  Of course he is.

ENID.  I don't understand you then.

EDGAR.  H'm!

ENID.  If it were for oneself it would be different, but for our own
Father!  You don't seem to realise.

EDGAR.  I realise perfectly.

ENID.  It's your first duty to save him.

EDGAR.  I wonder.

ENID.  [Imploring.]  Oh, Ted?  It's the only interest he's got left;
it'll be like a death-blow to him!

EDGAR.  [Restraining his emotion.]  I know.

ENID.  Promise!

EDGAR.  I'll do what I can.

     [He turns to the double-doors.]

     [The curtained door is opened, and ANTHONY appears.  EDGAR opens
     the double-doors, and passes through.]

     [SCANTLEBURY'S voice is faintly heard: "Past five; we shall
     never get through--have to eat another dinner at that hotel!"
     The doors are shut.  ANTHONY walks forward.]

ANTHONY.  You've been seeing Roberts, I hear.

ENID.  Yes.

ANTHONY.  Do you know what trying to bridge such a gulf as this is
like?

     [ENID puts her work on the little table, and faces him.]

Filling a sieve with sand!

ENID.  Don't!

ANTHONY.  You think with your gloved hands you can cure the trouble
of the century.

     [He passes on. ]

ENID.  Father!

     [ANTHONY Stops at the double doors.]

I'm only thinking of you!

ANTHONY.  [More softly.]  I can take care of myself, my dear.

ENID.  Have you thought what'll happen if you're beaten--
[she points]--in there?

ANTHONY.  I don't mean to be.

ENID.  Oh!  Father, don't give them a chance.  You're not well; need
you go to the meeting at all?

ANTHONY.  [With a grim smile.]  Cut and run?

ENID.  But they'll out-vote you!

ANTHONY.  [Putting his hand on the doors.]  We shall see!

ENID.  I beg you, Dad!  Won't you?

     [ANTHONY looks at her softly.]

     [ANTHONY shakes his head.  He opens the doors.  A buzz of voices
     comes in.]

SCANTLEBURY.  Can one get dinner on that 6.30 train up?

TENCH.  No, Sir, I believe not, sir.

WILDER.  Well, I shall speak out; I've had enough of this.

EDGAR.  [Sharply.]  What?

     [It ceases instantly.  ANTHONY passes through, closing the doors
     behind him.  ENID springs to them with a gesture of dismay.  She
     puts her hand on the knob, and begins turning it; then goes to
     the fireplace, and taps her foot on the fender.  Suddenly she
     rings the bell.  FROST comes in by the door that leads into the
     hall.]

FROST.  Yes, M'm?

ENID.  When the men come, Frost, please show them in here; the
hall 's cold.

FROST.  I could put them in the pantry, M'm.

ENID.  No.  I don't want to--to offend them; they're so touchy.

FROST.  Yes, M'm.  [Pause.]  Excuse me, Mr. Anthony's 'ad nothing to
eat all day.

ENID.  I know Frost.

FROST.  Nothin' but two whiskies and sodas, M'm.

ENID.  Oh!  you oughtn't to have let him have those.

FROST.  [Gravely.]  Mr. Anthony is a little difficult, M'm.  It's not
as if he were a younger man, an' knew what was good for 'im; he will
have his own way.

ENID.  I suppose we all want that.

FROST.  Yes, M'm.  [Quietly.]  Excuse me speakin' about the strike.
I'm sure if the other gentlemen were to give up to Mr. Anthony, and
quietly let the men 'ave what they want, afterwards, that'd be the
best way.  I find that very useful with him at times, M'm.

     [ENID shakes hey head.]

If he's crossed, it makes him violent, [with an air of discovery]
and I've noticed in my own case, when I'm violent I'm always sorry
for it afterwards.

ENID.  [With a smile.]  Are you ever violent, Frost?

FROST.  Yes, M'm; oh!  sometimes very violent.

ENID.  I've never seen you.

FROST.  [Impersonally.]  No, M'm; that is so.

     [ENID fidgets towards the back of the door.]

[With feeling.]  Bein' with Mr. Anthony, as you know, M'm, ever since
I was fifteen, it worries me to see him crossed like this at his age.
I've taken the liberty to speak to Mr. Wanklin [dropping his voice]--
seems to be the most sensible of the gentlemen--but 'e said to me:
"That's all very well, Frost, but this strike's a very serious
thing," 'e said.  "Serious for all parties, no doubt," I said, "but
yumour 'im, sir," I said, "yumour 'im.  It's like this, if a man
comes to a stone wall, 'e does n't drive 'is 'ead against it, 'e gets
over it."  "Yes," 'e said, "you'd better tell your master that."
[FROST looks at his nails.]  That's where it is, M'm.  I said to Mr.
Anthony this morning: "Is it worth it, sir?"  "Damn it," he said to
me, "Frost!  Mind your own business, or take a month's notice!"  Beg
pardon, M'm, for using such a word.

ENID.  [Moving to the double-doors, and listening.]  Do you know that
man Roberts, Frost?

FROST.  Yes, M'm; that's to say, not to speak to.  But to look at 'im
you can tell what he's like.

ENID.  [Stopping.]  Yes?

FROST.  He's not one of these 'ere ordinary 'armless Socialists.
'E's violent; got a fire inside 'im.  What I call "personal."  A man
may 'ave what opinions 'e likes, so long as 'e 's not personal; when
'e 's that 'e 's not safe.

ENID.  I think that's what my father feels about Roberts.

FROST.  No doubt, M'm, Mr. Anthony has a feeling against him.

     [ENID glances at him sharply, but finding him in perfect
     earnest, stands biting her lips, and looking at the
     double-doors.]

It 's, a regular right down struggle between the two.  I've no
patience with this Roberts, from what I 'ear he's just an ordinary
workin' man like the rest of 'em.  If he did invent a thing he's no
worse off than 'undreds of others.  My brother invented a new kind o'
dumb-waiter--nobody gave him anything for it, an' there it is, bein'
used all over the place.

     [ENID moves closer to the double-doors.]

There's a kind o' man that never forgives the world, because 'e
wasn't born a gentleman.  What I say is--no man that's a gentleman
looks down on another because 'e 'appens to be a class or two above
'im, no more than if 'e 'appens to be a class or two below.

ENID.  [With slight impatience.]  Yes, I know, Frost, of course.
Will you please go in and ask if they'll have some tea; say I sent
you.

FROST.  Yes, M'm.

     [He opens the doors gently and goes in.  There is a momentary
     sound of earnest, gather angry talk.]

WILDER.  I don't agree with you.

WANKLIN.  We've had this over a dozen times.

EDGAR.  [Impatiently.]  Well, what's the proposition?

SCANTLEBURY.  Yes, what does your father say?  Tea?  Not for me, not
for me!

WANKLIN.  What I understand the Chairman to say is this----

     [FROST re-enters closing the door behind him.]

ENID.  [Moving from the door.]  Won't they have any tea, Frost?

     [She goes to the little table, and remains motionless, looking
     at the baby's frock.]

     [A parlourmaid enters from the hall.]

PARLOURMAID.  A Miss Thomas, M'm

ENID.  [Raising her head.]  Thomas?  What Miss Thomas--d' you
mean a----?

PARLOURMAID.  Yes, M'm.

ENID.  [Blankly.]  Oh!  Where is she?

PARLOURMAID.  In the porch.

ENID.  I don't want----[She hesitates.]

FROST.  Shall I dispose of her, M'm?

ENID.  I 'll come out.  No, show her in here, Ellen.

     [The PARLOUR MAID and FROST go out.  ENID pursing her lips, sits
     at the little table, taking up the baby's frock.  The
     PARLOURMAID ushers in MADGE THOMAS and goes out; MADGE stands by
     the door.]

ENID.  Come in.  What is it.  What have you come for, please?

MADGE.  Brought a message from Mrs. Roberts.

ENID.  A message?  Yes.

MADGE.  She asks you to look after her mother.

ENID.  I don't understand.

MADGE.  [Sullenly.]  That's the message.

ENID.  But--what--why?

MADGE.  Annie Roberts is dead.

     [There is a silence.]

ENID.  [Horrified.]  But it's only a little more than an hour since I
saw her.

MADGE.  Of cold and hunger.

ENID.  [Rising.]  Oh!  that's not true! the poor thing's heart----
What makes you look at me like that?  I tried to help her.

MADGE.  [With suppressed savagery.]  I thought you'd like to know.

ENID.  [Passionately.]  It's so unjust!  Can't you see that I want to
help you all?

MADGE.  I never harmed any one that had n't harmed me first.

ENID.  [Coldly.]  What harm have I done you?  Why do you speak to me
like that?

MADGE.  [With the bitterest intensity.]  You come out of your comfort
to spy on us!  A week of hunger, that's what you want!

ENID.  [Standing her ground.]  Don't talk nonsense!

MADGE.  I saw her die; her hands were blue with the cold.

ENID.  [With a movement of grief.]  Oh!  why wouldn't she let me help
her?  It's such senseless pride!

MADGE.  Pride's better than nothing to keep your body warm.

ENID.  [Passionately.]  I won't talk to you!  How can you tell what I
feel?  It's not my fault that I was born better off than you.

MADGE.  We don't want your money.

ENID.  You don't understand, and you don't want to; please to go
away!

MADGE.  [Balefully.]  You've killed her, for all your soft words, you
and your father!

ENID.  [With rage and emotion.]  That's wicked!  My father is
suffering himself through this wretched strike.

MADGE.  [With sombre triumph.]  Then tell him Mrs. Roberts is dead!
That 'll make him better.

ENID.  Go away!

MADGE.  When a person hurts us we get it back on them.

     [She makes a sudden and swift movement towards ENID, fixing her
     eyes on the child's frock lying across the little table.  ENID
     snatches the frock up, as though it were the child itself.  They
     stand a yard apart, crossing glances.]

MADGE.  [Pointing to the frock with a little smile.]  Ah!  You felt
that!  Lucky it's her mother--not her children--you've to look after,
is n't it.  She won't trouble you long!

ENID.  Go away!

MADGE.  I've given you the message.

     [She turns and goes out into the hall.  ENID, motionless till
     she has gone, sinks down at the table, bending her head over the
     frock, which she is still clutching to her.  The double-doors
     are opened, and ANTHONY comes slowly in; he passes his daughter,
     and lowers himself into an arm-chair.  He is very flushed.]

ENID.  [Hiding her emotion-anxiously.]  What is it, Dad?

     [ANTHONY makes a gesture, but does not speak.]

Who was it?

     [ANTHONY does not answer.  ENID going to the double-doors meets
     EDGAR Coming in.  They speak together in low tones.]

What is it, Ted?

EDGAR.  That fellow Wilder!  Taken to personalities!  He was
downright insulting.

ENID.  What did he say?

EDGAR.  Said, Father was too old and feeble to know what he was
doing!  The Dad's worth six of him!

ENID.  Of course he is.

     [They look at ANTHONY.]

     [The doors open wider, WANKLIN appears With SCANTLEBURY.]

SCANTLEBURY.  [Sotto voce.]  I don't like the look of this!

WANKLIN.  [Going forward.]  Come, Chairman!  Wilder sends you his
apologies.  A man can't do more.

     [WILDER, followed by TENCH, comes in, and goes to ANTHONY.]

WILDER.  [Glumly.]  I withdraw my words, sir.  I'm sorry.

     [ANTHONY nods to him.]

ENID.  You have n't come to a decision, Mr. Wanklin?

     [WANKLIN shakes his head.]

WANKLIN.  We're all here, Chairman; what do you say?  Shall we get on
with the business, or shall we go back to the other room?

SCANTLEBURY.  Yes, yes; let's get on.  We must settle something.

     [He turns from a small chair, and settles himself suddenly in
     the largest chair with a sigh of comfort.]

     [WILDER and WANKLIN also sit; and TENCH, drawing up a
     straight-backed chair close to his Chairman, sits on the edge
     of it with the minute-book and a stylographic pen.]

ENID.  [Whispering.] I want to speak to you a minute, Ted.

     [They go out through the double-doors.]

WANKLIN.  Really, Chairman, it's no use soothing ourselves with a
sense of false security.  If this strike's not brought to an end
before the General Meeting, the shareholders will certainly haul us
over the coals.

SCANTLEBURY.  [Stirring.]  What--what's that?

WANKLIN.  I know it for a fact.

ANTHONY.  Let them!

WILDER.  And get turned out?

WANKLIN.  [To ANTHONY.]  I don't mind martyrdom for a policy in which
I believe, but I object to being burnt for some one else's
principles.

SCANTLEBURY.  Very reasonable--you must see that, Chairman.

ANTHONY.  We owe it to other employers to stand firm.

WANKLIN.  There's a limit to that.

ANTHONY.  You were all full of fight at the start.

SCANTLEBURY.  [With a sort of groan.]  We thought the men would give
in, but they-have n't!

ANTHONY.  They will!

WILDER.  [Rising and pacing up and down.] I can't have my reputation
as a man of business destroyed for the satisfaction of starving the
men out.  [Almost in tears.]  I can't have it!  How can we meet the
shareholders with things in the state they are?

SCANTLEBURY.  Hear, hear--hear, hear!

WILDER.  [Lashing himself.]  If any one expects me to say to them
I've lost you fifty thousand pounds and sooner than put my pride in
my pocket I'll lose you another.  [Glancing at ANTHONY.]  It's--it's
unnatural!  I don't want to go against you, sir.

WANKLIN.  [Persuasively.]  Come Chairman, we 're not free agents.
We're part of a machine.  Our only business is to see the Company
earns as much profit as it safely can.  If you blame me for want of
principle: I say that we're Trustees.  Reason tells us we shall never
get back in the saving of wages what we shall lose if we continue
this struggle--really, Chairman, we must bring it to an end, on the
best terms we can make.

ANTHONY.  No.

     [There is a pause of general dismay.]

WILDER.  It's a deadlock then.  [Letting his hands drop with a sort
of despair.]  Now I shall never get off to Spain!

WANKLIN.  [Retaining a trace of irony.]  You hear the consequences of
your victory, Chairman?

WILDER.  [With a burst of feeling.]  My wife's ill!

SCANTLEBURY.  Dear, dear!  You don't say so.

WILDER.  If I don't get her out of this cold, I won't answer for the
consequences.

     [Through the double-doors EDGAR comes in looking very grave.]

EDGAR.  [To his Father.]  Have you heard this, sir?  Mrs. Roberts is
dead!

     [Every one stages at him, as if trying to gauge the importance
     of this news.]

Enid saw her this afternoon, she had no coals, or food, or anything.
It's enough!

     [There is a silence, every one avoiding the other's eyes, except
     ANTHONY, who stares hard at his son.]

SCANTLEBURY.  You don't suggest that we could have helped the poor
thing?

WILDER.  [Flustered.]  The woman was in bad health.  Nobody can say
there's any responsibility on us.  At least--not on me.

EDGAR.  [Hotly.]  I say that we are responsible.

ANTHONY.  War is war!

EDGAR.  Not on women!

WANKLIN.  It not infrequently happens that women are the greatest
sufferers.

EDGAR.  If we knew that, all the more responsibility rests on us.

ANTHONY.  This is no matter for amateurs.

EDGAR.  Call me what you like, sir.  It's sickened me.  We had no
right to carry things to such a length.

WILDER.  I don't like this business a bit--that Radical rag will
twist it to their own ends; see if they don't!  They'll get up some
cock and bull story about the poor woman's dying from starvation.  I
wash my hands of it.

EDGAR.  You can't.  None of us can.

SCANTLEBURY.  [Striking his fist on the arm of his chair.]  But I
protest against this!

EDGAR.  Protest as you like, Mr. Scantlebury, it won't alter facts.

ANTHONY.  That's enough.

EDGAR.  [Facing him angrily.]  No, sir.  I tell you exactly what I
think.  If we pretend the men are not suffering, it's humbug; and if
they're suffering, we know enough of human nature to know the women
are suffering more, and as to the children--well--it's damnable!

     [SCANTLEBURY rises from his chair.]

I don't say that we meant to be cruel, I don't say anything of the
sort; but I do say it's criminal to shut our eyes to the facts.  We
employ these men, and we can't get out of it.  I don't care so much
about the men, but I'd sooner resign my position on the Board than go
on starving women in this way.

     [All except ANTHONY are now upon their feet, ANTHONY sits
     grasping the arms of his chair and staring at his son.]

SCANTLEBURY.  I don't--I don't like the way you're putting it, young
sir.

WANKLIN.  You're rather overshooting the mark.

WILDER.  I should think so indeed!

EDGAR.  [Losing control.]  It's no use blinking things!  If you want
to have the death of women on your hands--I don't!

SCANTLEBURY.  Now, now, young man!

WILDER.  On our hands?  Not on mine, I won't have it!

EDGAR.  We are five members of this Board; if we were four against
it, why did we let it drift till it came to this?  You know perfectly
well why--because we hoped we should starve the men out.  Well, all
we've done is to starve one woman out!

SCANTLEBURY.  [Almost hysterically.]  I protest, I protest!  I'm a
humane man--we're all humane men!

EDGAR.  [Scornfully.]  There's nothing wrong with our humanity.  It's
our imaginations, Mr. Scantlebury.

WILDER.  Nonsense!  My imagination's as good as yours.

EDGAR.  If so, it is n't good enough.

WILDER.  I foresaw this!

EDGAR.  Then why didn't you put your foot down!

WILDER.  Much good that would have done.

     [He looks at ANTHONY.]

EDGAR.  If you, and I, and each one of us here who say that our
imaginations are so good--

SCANTLEBURY.  [Flurried.]  I never said so.

EDGAR.  [Paying no attention.]--had put our feet down, the thing
would have been ended long ago, and this poor woman's life wouldn't
have been crushed out of her like this.  For all we can tell there
may be a dozen other starving women.

SCANTLEBURY.  For God's sake, sir, don't use that word at a--at a
Board meeting; it's--it's monstrous.

EDGAR.  I will use it, Mr. Scantlebury.

SCANTLEBURY.  Then I shall not listen to you.  I shall not listen!
It's painful to me.

     [He covers his ears.]

WANKLIN.  None of us are opposed to a settlement, except your Father.

EDGAR.  I'm certain that if the shareholders knew----

WANKLIN.  I don't think you'll find their imaginations are any better
than ours.  Because a woman happens to have a weak heart----

EDGAR.  A struggle like this finds out the weak spots in everybody.
Any child knows that.  If it hadn't been for this cut-throat policy,
she need n't have died like this; and there would n't be all this
misery that any one who is n't a fool can see is going on.

     [Throughout the foregoing ANTHONY has eyed his son; he now moves
     as though to rise, but stops as EDGAR speaks again.]

I don't defend the men, or myself, or anybody.

WANKLIN.  You may have to!  A coroner's jury of disinterested
sympathisers may say some very nasty things.  We mustn't lose sight
of our position.

SCANTLEBURY.  [Without uncovering his ears.]  Coroner's jury!  No,
no, it's not a case for that!

EDGAR.  I 've had enough of cowardice.

WANKLIN.  Cowardice is an unpleasant word, Mr. Edgar Anthony.  It
will look very like cowardice if we suddenly concede the men's
demands when a thing like this happens; we must be careful!

WILDER.  Of course we must.  We've no knowledge of this matter,
except a rumour.  The proper course is to put the whole thing into
the hands of Harness to settle for us; that's natural, that's what we
should have come to any way.

SCANTLEBURY.  [With dignity.]  Exactly!  [Turning to EDGAR.]  And as
to you, young sir, I can't sufficiently express my--my distaste for
the way you've treated the whole matter.  You ought to withdraw!
Talking of starvation, talking of cowardice!  Considering what our
views are!  Except your own is--is one of goodwill--it's most
irregular, it's most improper, and all I can say is it's--it's given
me pain----

     [He places his hand over his heart.]

EDGAR.  [Stubbornly.]  I withdraw nothing.

     [He is about to say mote when SCANTLEBURY once more coveys up
     his ears.  TENCH suddenly makes a demonstration with the
     minute-book.  A sense of having been engaged in the unusual comes
     over all of them, and one by one they resume their seats.  EDGAR
     alone remains on his feet.]

WILDER.  [With an air of trying to wipe something out.]  I pay no
attention to what young Mr. Anthony has said.  Coroner's jury!  The
idea's preposterous.  I--I move this amendment to the Chairman's
Motion: That the dispute be placed at once in the hands of Mr. Simon
Harness for settlement, on the lines indicated by him this morning.
Any one second that?

     [TENCH writes in his book.]

WANKLIN.  I do.

WILDER.  Very well, then; I ask the Chairman to put it to the Board.

ANTHONY.  [With a great sigh-slowly.]  We have been made the subject
of an attack.  [Looking round at WILDER and SCANTLEBURY with ironical
contempt.]  I take it on my shoulders.  I am seventy-six years old. I
have been Chairman of this Company since its inception two-and-thirty
years ago.  I have seen it pass through good and evil report. My
connection with it began in the year that this young man was born.

     [EDGAR bows his head.  ANTHONY, gripping his chair, goes on.]

I have had do to with "men" for fifty years; I've always stood up to
them; I have never been beaten yet.  I have fought the men of this
Company four times, and four times I have beaten them.  It has been
said that I am not the man I was.  [He looks at Wilder.]  However
that may be, I am man enough to stand to my guns.

     [His voice grows stronger.  The double-doors are opened.  ENID
     slips in, followed by UNDERWOOD, who restrains her.]

The men have been treated justly, they have had fair wages, we have
always been ready to listen to complaints.  It has been said that
times have changed; if they have, I have not changed with them.
Neither will I.  It has been said that masters and men are equal!
Cant!  There can only be one master in a house!  Where two men meet
the better man will rule.  It has been said that Capital and Labour
have the same interests.  Cant!  Their interests are as wide asunder
as the poles.  It has been said that the Board is only part of a
machine.  Cant!  We are the machine; its brains and sinews; it is for
us to lead and to determine what is to be done, and to do it without
fear or favour.  Fear of the men!  Fear of the shareholders!  Fear of
our own shadows!  Before I am like that, I hope to die.

     [He pauses, and meeting his son's eyes, goes on.]

There is only one way of treating "men"--with the iron hand.  This
half and half business, the half and half manners of this generation,
has brought all this upon us.  Sentiment and softness, and what this
young man, no doubt, would call his social policy.  You can't eat
cake and have it!  This middle-class sentiment, or socialism, or
whatever it may be, is rotten.  Masters are masters, men are men!
Yield one demand, and they will make it six.  They are [he smiles
grimly]  like Oliver Twist, asking for more.  If I were in their
place I should be the same.  But I am not in their place.  Mark my
words: one fine morning, when you have given way here, and given way
there--you will find you have parted with the ground beneath your
feet, and are deep in the bog of bankruptcy; and with you,
floundering in that bog, will be the very men you have given way to.
I have been accused of being a domineering tyrant, thinking only of
my pride--I am thinking of the future of this country, threatened
with the black waters of confusion, threatened with mob government,
threatened with what I cannot see.  If by any conduct of mine I help
to bring this on us, I shall be ashamed to look my fellows in the
face.

     [ANTHONY stares before him, at what he cannot see, and there is
     perfect stillness.  FROST comes in from the hall, and all but
     ANTHONY look round at him uneasily.]

FROST.  [To his master.]  The men are here, sir.  [ANTHONY makes a
gesture of dismissal.]  Shall I bring them in, sir?

ANTHONY.  Wait!

     [FROST goes out, ANTHONY turns to face his son.]

I come to the attack that has been made upon me.

     [EDGAR, with a gesture of deprecation, remains motionless with
     his head a little bowed.]

A woman has died.  I am told that her blood is on my hands; I am told
that on my hands is the starvation and the suffering of other women
and of children.

EDGAR.  I said "on our hands," sir.

ANTHONY.  It is the same.  [His voice grows stronger and stronger,
his feeling is more and more made manifest.]  I am not aware that if
my adversary suffer in a fair fight not sought by me, it is my fault.
If I fall under his feet--as fall I may--I shall not complain.  That
will be my look-out--and this is--his.  I cannot separate, as I
would, these men from their women and children.  A fair fight is a
fair fight!  Let them learn to think before they pick a quarrel!

EDGAR.  [In a low voice.]  But is it a fair fight, Father?  Look at
them, and look at us!  They've only this one weapon!

ANTHONY.  [Grimly.]  And you're weak-kneed enough to teach them how
to use it!  It seems the fashion nowadays for men to take their
enemy's side.  I have not learnt that art.  Is it my fault that they
quarrelled with their Union too?

EDGAR.  There is such a thing as Mercy.

ANTHONY.  And justice comes before it.

EDGAR.  What seems just to one man, sir, is injustice to another.

ANTHONY.  [With suppressed passion.]  You accuse me of injustice--of
what amounts to inhumanity--of cruelty?

     [EDGAR makes a gesture of horror--a general frightened
     movement.]

WANKLIN.  Come, come, Chairman.

ANTHONY.  [In a grim voice.]  These are the words of my own son.
They are the words of a generation that I don't understand; the words
of a soft breed.

     [A general murmur.  With a violent effort ANTHONY recovers his
     control.]

EDGAR.  [Quietly.]  I said it of myself, too, Father.

     [A long look is exchanged between them, and ANTHONY puts out his
     hand with a gesture as if to sweep the personalities away; then
     places it against his brow, swaying as though from giddiness.
     There is a movement towards him.  He moves them back.]

ANTHONY.  Before I put this amendment to the Board, I have one more
word to say.  [He looks from face to face.]  If it is carried, it
means that we shall fail in what we set ourselves to do.  It means
that we shall fail in the duty that we owe to all Capital.  It means
that we shall fail in the duty that we owe ourselves.  It means that
we shall be open to constant attack to which we as constantly shall
have to yield.  Be under no misapprehension--run this time, and you
will never make a stand again!  You will have to fly like curs before
the whips of your own men.  If that is the lot you wish for, you will
vote for this amendment.

     [He looks again, from face to face, finally resting his gaze on
     EDGAR; all sit with their eyes on the ground.  ANTHONY makes a
     gesture, and TENCH hands him the book.  He reads.]

"Moved by Mr. Wilder, and seconded by Mr. Wanklin: 'That the men's
demands be placed at once in the hands of Mr. Simon Harness for
settlement on the lines indicated by him this morning.'"  [With
sudden vigour.]  Those in favour: Signify the same in the usual way!

     [For a minute no one moves; then hastily, just as ANTHONY is
     about to speak, WILDER's hand and WANKLIN'S are held up, then
     SCANTLEBURY'S, and last EDGAR'S who does not lift his head.]

     [ANTHONY lifts his own hand.]

[In a clear voice.]  The amendment is carried.  I resign my position
on this Board.

     [ENID gasps, and there is dead silence.  ANTHONY sits
     motionless, his head slowly drooping; suddenly he heaves as
     though the whole of his life had risen up within him.]

Contrary?

Fifty years!  You have disgraced me, gentlemen.  Bring in the men!

     [He sits motionless, staring before him.  The Board draws
     hurriedly together, and forms a group.  TENCH in a frightened
     manner speaks into the hall.  UNDERWOOD almost forces ENID from
     the room.]

WILDER.  [Hurriedly.]  What's to be said to them?  Why isn't Harness
here?  Ought we to see the men before he comes?  I don't----

TENCH.  Will you come in, please?

     [Enter THOMAS, GREEN, BULGIN, and ROUS, who file up in a row
     past the little table.  TENCH sits down and writes.  All eyes
     are foxed on ANTHONY, who makes no sign.]

WANKLIN.  [Stepping up to the little table, with nervous cordiality.]
Well, Thomas, how's it to be?  What's the result of your meeting?

ROUS.  Sim Harness has our answer.  He'll tell you what it is.  We're
waiting for him.  He'll speak for us.

WANKLIN.  Is that so, Thomas?

THOMAS.  [Sullenly.]  Yes.  Roberts will not pe coming, his wife is
dead.

SCANTLEBURY.  Yes, yes!  Poor woman!  Yes!  Yes!

FROST.  [Entering from the hall.]  Mr. Harness, Sir!

     [As HARNESS enters he retires.]

     [HARNESS has a piece of paper in his hand, he bows to the
     Directors, nods towards the men, and takes his stand behind the
     little table in the very centre of the room.]

HARNESS.  Good evening, gentlemen.

     [TENCH, with the paper he has been writing, joins him, they
     speak together in low tones.]

WILDER.  We've been waiting for you, Harness.  Hope we shall come to
some----

FROST.  [Entering from the hall.]  Roberts!

     [He goes.]

     [ROBERTS comes hastily in, and stands staring at ANTHONY.  His
     face is drawn and old.]

ROBERTS.  Mr. Anthony, I am afraid I am a little late, I would have
been here in time but for something that--has happened.  [To the
men.]  Has anything been said?

THOMAS.  No!  But, man, what made ye come?

ROBERTS.  Ye told us this morning, gentlemen, to go away and
reconsider our position.  We have reconsidered it; we are here to
bring you the men's answer.  [To ANTHONY.]  Go ye back to London.  We
have nothing for you.  By no jot or tittle do we abate our demands,
nor will we until the whole of those demands are yielded.

     [ANTHONY looks at him but does not speak.  There is a movement
     amongst the men as though they were bewildered.]

HARNESS.  Roberts!

ROBERTS.  [Glancing fiercely at him, and back to ANTHONY.]  Is that
clear enough for ye?  Is it short enough and to the point?  Ye made a
mistake to think that we would come to heel.  Ye may break the body,
but ye cannot break the spirit.  Get back to London, the men have
nothing for ye?

     [Pausing uneasily he takes a step towards the unmoving ANTHONY.]

EDGAR.  We're all sorry for you, Roberts, but----

ROBERTS.  Keep your sorrow, young man.  Let your father speak!

HARNESS.  [With the sheet of paper in his hand, speaking from behind
the little table.]  Roberts!

ROBERT.  [TO ANTHONY, with passionate intensity.]  Why don't ye
answer?

HARNESS.  Roberts!

ROBERTS.  [Turning sharply.]  What is it?

HARNESS.  [Gravely.]  You're talking without the book; things have
travelled past you.

     [He makes a sign to TENCH, who beckons the Directors.  They
     quickly sign his copy of the terms.]

Look at this, man!  [Holding up his sheet of paper.]  "Demands
conceded, with the exception of those relating to the engineers and
furnace-men.  Double wages for Saturday's overtime.  Night-shifts as
they are."  These terms have been agreed.  The men go back to work
again to-morrow.  The strike is at an end.

ROBERTS.  [Reading the paper, and turning on the men.  They shrink
back from him, all but ROUS, who stands his ground.  With deadly
stillness.]  Ye have gone back on me?  I stood by ye to the death; ye
waited for that to throw me over!

     [The men answer, all speaking together.]

ROUS.  It's a lie!

THOMAS.  Ye were past endurance, man.

GREEN.  If ye'd listen to me!

BULGIN.  (Under his breath.) Hold your jaw!

ROBERTS.  Ye waited for that!

HARNESS.  [Taking the Director's copy of the terms, and handing his
own to TENCH.]  That's enough, men.  You had better go.

     [The men shuffle slowly, awkwardly away.]

WILDER.  [In a low, nervous voice.]  There's nothing to stay for now,
I suppose.  [He follows to the door.]  I shall have a try for that
train!  Coming, Scantlebury?

SCANTLEBURY. [Following with WANKLIN.]  Yes, yes; wait for me.  [He
stops as ROBERTS speaks.]

ROBERTS.  [To ANTHONY.]  But ye have not signed them terms!  They
can't make terms without their Chairman!  Ye would never sign them
terms! [ANTHONY looks at him without speaking.]  Don't tell me ye
have!  for the love o' God!  [With passionate appeal.]  I reckoned on
ye!

HARNESS.  [Holding out the Director's copy of the teems.]  The Board
has signed!

     [ROBERTS looks dully at the signatures--dashes the paper from
     him, and covers up his eyes.]

SCANTLEBURY.  [Behind his hand to TENCH.]  Look after the Chairman!
He's not well; he's not well--he had no lunch.  If there's any fund
started for the women and children, put me down for--for twenty
pounds.

     [He goes out into the hall, in cumbrous haste; and WANKLIN, who
     has been staring at ROBERTS and ANTHONY With twitchings of his
     face, follows.  EDGAR remains seated on the sofa, looking at the
     ground; TENCH, returning to the bureau, writes in his minute--
     book.  HARNESS stands by the little table, gravely watching
     ROBERTS.]

ROBERTS.  Then you're no longer Chairman of this Company!  [Breaking
into half-mad laughter.]  Ah!  ha-ah, ha, ha!  They've thrown ye over
thrown over their Chairman: Ah-ha-ha!  [With a sudden dreadful calm.]
So--they've done us both down, Mr. Anthony?

     [ENID, hurrying through the double-doors, comes quickly to her
     father.]

ANTHONY.  Both broken men, my friend Roberts!

HARNESS.  [Coming down and laying his hands on ROBERTS'S sleeve.]
For shame, Roberts!  Go home quietly, man; go home!

ROBERTS.  [Tearing his arm away.]  Home?  [Shrinking together--in a
whisper.]  Home!

ENID.  [Quietly to her father.]  Come away, dear!  Come to your room

     [ANTHONY rises with an effort.  He turns to ROBERTS who looks at
     him.  They stand several seconds, gazing at each other fixedly;
     ANTHONY lifts his hand, as though to salute, but lets it fall.
     The expression of ROBERTS'S face changes from hostility to
     wonder.  They bend their heads in token of respect.  ANTHONY
     turns, and slowly walks towards the curtained door.  Suddenly
     he sways as though about to fall, recovers himself, and is
     assisted out by EDGAR and ENID; UNDERWOOD follows, but stops at
     the door.  ROBERTS remains motionless for several seconds,
     staring intently after ANTHONY, then goes out into the hall.]

TENCH.  [Approaching HARNESS.]  It's a great weight off my mind, Mr.
Harness!  But what a painful scene, sir!  [He wipes his brow.]

     [HARNESS, pale and resolute, regards with a grim half-smile the
     quavering.]

TENCH.  It's all been so violent!  What did he mean by: "Done us both
down?"  If he has lost his wife, poor fellow, he oughtn't to have
spoken to the Chairman like that!

HARNESS.  A woman dead; and the two best men both broken!

TENCH.  [Staring at him-suddenly excited.]  D'you know, sir--these
terms, they're the very same we drew up together, you and I, and put
to both sides before the fight began?  All this--all this--and--and
what for?

HARNESS.  [In a slow grim voice.]  That's where the fun comes in!

     [UNDERWOOD without turning from the door makes a gesture of
     assent.]


                         The curtain falls.

THE END





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