Infomotions, Inc.Heartbreak House / Shaw, George Bernard, 1856-1950

Author: Shaw, George Bernard, 1856-1950
Title: Heartbreak House
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): hushabye; mangan; captain shotover; shotover; ellie; hector; mazzini; randall; captain; nurse guinness; heartbreak house; mazzini dunn; lady; miss dunn
Contributor(s): Holcroft, Thomas, 1745-1809 [Translator]
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Identifier: etext3543
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Title: Heartbreak House

Author: George Bernard Shaw

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Where Heartbreak House Stands

Heartbreak House is not merely the name of the play which follows
this preface. It is cultured, leisured Europe before the war.
When the play was begun not a shot had been fired; and only the
professional diplomatists and the very few amateurs whose hobby
is foreign policy even knew that the guns were loaded. A Russian
playwright, Tchekov, had produced four fascinating dramatic
studies of Heartbreak House, of which three, The Cherry Orchard,
Uncle Vanya, and The Seagull, had been performed in England.
Tolstoy, in his Fruits of Enlightenment, had shown us through it
in his most ferociously contemptuous manner. Tolstoy did not
waste any sympathy on it: it was to him the house in which Europe
was stifling its soul; and he knew that our utter enervation and
futilization in that overheated drawingroom atmosphere was
delivering the world over to the control of ignorant and soulless
cunning and energy, with the frightful consequences which have
now overtaken it. Tolstoy was no pessimist: he was not disposed
to leave the house standing if he could bring it down about the
ears of its pretty and amiable voluptuaries; and he wielded the
pickaxe with a will. He treated the case of the inmates as one of
opium poisoning, to be dealt with by seizing the patients roughly
and exercising them violently until they were broad awake.
Tchekov, more of a fatalist, had no faith in these charming
people extricating themselves. They would, he thought, be sold up
and sent adrift by the bailiffs; and he therefore had no scruple
in exploiting and even flattering their charm.

The Inhabitants

Tchekov's plays, being less lucrative than swings and
roundabouts, got no further in England, where theatres are only
ordinary commercial affairs, than a couple of performances by the
Stage Society. We stared and said, "How Russian!" They did not
strike me in that way. Just as Ibsen's intensely Norwegian plays
exactly fitted every middle and professional class suburb in
Europe, these intensely Russian plays fitted all the country
houses in Europe in which the pleasures of music, art,
literature, and the theatre had supplanted hunting, shooting,
fishing, flirting, eating, and drinking. The same nice people,
the same utter futility. The nice people could read; some of them
could write; and they were the sole repositories of culture who
had social opportunities of contact with our politicians,
administrators, and newspaper proprietors, or any chance of
sharing or influencing their activities. But they shrank from
that contact. They hated politics. They did not wish to realize
Utopia for the common people: they wished to realize their
favorite fictions and poems in their own lives; and, when they
could, they lived without scruple on incomes which they did
nothing to earn. The women in their girlhood made themselves look
like variety theatre stars, and settled down later into the types
of beauty imagined by the previous generation of painters. They
took the only part of our society in which there was leisure for
high culture, and made it an economic, political and; as far as
practicable, a moral vacuum; and as Nature, abhorring the vacuum,
immediately filled it up with sex and with all sorts of refined
pleasures, it was a very delightful place at its best for moments
of relaxation. In other moments it was disastrous. For prime
ministers and their like, it was a veritable Capua.

Horseback Hall

But where were our front benchers to nest if not here? The
alternative to Heartbreak House was Horseback Hall, consisting of
a prison for horses with an annex for the ladies and gentlemen
who rode them, hunted them, talked about them, bought them and
sold them, and gave nine-tenths of their lives to them, dividing
the other tenth between charity, churchgoing (as a substitute for
religion), and conservative electioneering (as a substitute for
politics). It is true that the two establishments got mixed at
the edges. Exiles from the library, the music room, and the
picture gallery would be found languishing among the stables,
miserably discontented; and hardy horsewomen who slept at the
first chord of Schumann were born, horribly misplaced, into the
garden of Klingsor; but sometimes one came upon horsebreakers and
heartbreakers who could make the best of both worlds. As a rule,
however, the two were apart and knew little of one another; so
the prime minister folk had to choose between barbarism and
Capua. And of the two atmospheres it is hard to say which was the
more fatal to statesmanship.

Revolution on the Shelf

Heartbreak House was quite familiar with revolutionary ideas on
paper. It aimed at being advanced and freethinking, and hardly
ever went to church or kept the Sabbath except by a little extra
fun at weekends. When you spent a Friday to Tuesday in it you
found on the shelf in your bedroom not only the books of poets
and novelists, but of revolutionary biologists and even
economists. Without at least a few plays by myself and Mr
Granville Barker, and a few stories by Mr H. G. Wells, Mr Arnold
Bennett, and Mr John Galsworthy, the house would have been out of
the movement. You would find Blake among the poets, and beside
him Bergson, Butler, Scott Haldane, the poems of Meredith and
Thomas Hardy, and, generally speaking, all the literary
implements for forming the mind of the perfect modern Socialist
and Creative Evolutionist. It was a curious experience to spend
Sunday in dipping into these books, and the Monday morning to
read in the daily paper that the country had just been brought to
the verge of anarchy because a new Home Secretary or chief of
police without an idea in his head that his great-grandmother
might not have had to apologize for, had refused to "recognize"
some powerful Trade Union, just as a gondola might refuse to
recognize a 20,000-ton liner.

In short, power and culture were in separate compartments. The
barbarians were not only literally in the saddle, but on the
front bench in the House of commons, with nobody to correct their
incredible ignorance of modern thought and political science but
upstarts from the counting-house, who had spent their lives
furnishing their pockets instead of their minds. Both, however,
were practised in dealing with money and with men, as far as
acquiring the one and exploiting the other went; and although
this is as undesirable an expertness as that of the medieval
robber baron, it qualifies men to keep an estate or a business
going in its old routine without necessarily understanding it,
just as Bond Street tradesmen and domestic servants keep
fashionable society going without any instruction in sociology.

The Cherry Orchard

The Heartbreak people neither could nor would do anything of the
sort. With their heads as full of the Anticipations of Mr H. G.
Wells as the heads of our actual rulers were empty even of the
anticipations of Erasmus or Sir Thomas More, they refused the
drudgery of politics, and would have made a very poor job of it
if they had changed their minds. Not that they would have been
allowed to meddle anyhow, as only through the accident of being a
hereditary peer can anyone in these days of Votes for Everybody
get into parliament if handicapped by a serious modern cultural
equipment; but if they had, their habit of living in a vacuum
would have left them helpless end ineffective in public affairs.
Even in private life they were often helpless wasters of their
inheritance, like the people in Tchekov's Cherry Orchard. Even
those who lived within their incomes were really kept going by
their solicitors and agents, being unable to manage an estate or
run a business without continual prompting from those who have to
learn how to do such things or starve.

>From what is called Democracy no corrective to this state of
things could be hoped. It is said that every people has the
Government it deserves. It is more to the point that every
Government has the electorate it deserves; for the orators of the
front bench can edify or debauch an ignorant electorate at will.
Thus our democracy moves in a vicious circle of reciprocal
worthiness and unworthiness.

Nature's Long Credits

Nature's way of dealing with unhealthy conditions is
unfortunately not one that compels us to conduct a solvent
hygiene on a cash basis. She demoralizes us with long credits and
reckless overdrafts, and then pulls us up cruelly with
catastrophic bankruptcies. Take, for example, common domestic
sanitation. A whole city generation may neglect it utterly and
scandalously, if not with absolute impunity, yet without any evil
consequences that anyone thinks of tracing to it. In a hospital
two generations of medical students way tolerate dirt and
carelessness, and then go out into general practice to spread the
doctrine that fresh air is a fad, and sanitation an imposture set
up to make profits for plumbers. Then suddenly Nature takes her
revenge. She strikes at the city with a pestilence and at the
hospital with an epidemic of hospital gangrene, slaughtering
right and left until the innocent young have paid for the guilty
old, and the account is balanced. And then she goes to sleep
again and gives another period of credit, with the same result.

This is what has just happened in our political hygiene.
Political science has been as recklessly neglected by Governments
and electorates during my lifetime as sanitary science was in the
days of Charles the Second. In international relations diplomacy
has been a boyishly lawless affair of family intrigues,
commercial and territorial brigandage, torpors of
pseudo-goodnature produced by laziness and spasms of ferocious
activity produced by terror. But in these islands we muddled
through. Nature gave us a longer credit than she gave to France
or Germany or Russia. To British centenarians who died in their
beds in 1914, any dread of having to hide underground in London
from the shells of an enemy seemed more remote and fantastic than
a dread of the appearance of a colony of cobras and rattlesnakes
in Kensington Gardens. In the prophetic works of Charles Dickens
we were warned against many evils which have since come to pass;
but of the evil of being slaughtered by a foreign foe on our own
doorsteps there was no shadow. Nature gave us a very long credit;
and we abused it to the utmost. But when she struck at last she
struck with a vengeance. For four years she smote our firstborn
and heaped on us plagues of which Egypt never dreamed. They were
all as preventable as the great Plague of London, and came solely
because they had not been prevented. They were not undone by
winning the war. The earth is still bursting with the dead bodies
of the victors.

The Wicked Half Century

It is difficult to say whether indifference and neglect are worse
than false doctrine; but Heartbreak House and Horseback Hall
unfortunately suffered from both. For half a century before the
war civilization had been going to the devil very precipitately
under the influence of a pseudo-science as disastrous as the
blackest Calvinism. Calvinism taught that as we are
predestinately saved or damned, nothing that we can do can alter
our destiny. Still, as Calvinism gave the individual no clue as
to whether he had drawn a lucky number or an unlucky one, it left
him a fairly strong interest in encouraging his hopes of
salvation and allaying his fear of damnation by behaving as one
of the elect might be expected to behave rather than as one of
the reprobate. But in the middle of the nineteenth century
naturalists and physicists assured the world, in the name of
Science, that salvation and damnation are all nonsense, and that
predestination is the central truth of religion, inasmuch as
human beings are produced by their environment, their sins and
good deeds being only a series of chemical and mechanical
reactions over which they have no control. Such figments as mind,
choice, purpose, conscience, will, and so forth, are, they
taught, mere illusions, produced because they are useful in the
continual struggle of the human machine to maintain its
environment in a favorable condition, a process incidentally
involving the ruthless destruction or subjection of its
competitors for the supply (assumed to be limited) of subsistence
available. We taught Prussia this religion; and Prussia bettered
our instruction so effectively that we presently found ourselves
confronted with the necessity of destroying Prussia to prevent
Prussia destroying us. And that has just ended in each destroying
the other to an extent doubtfully reparable in our time.

It may be asked how so imbecile and dangerous a creed ever came
to be accepted by intelligent beings. I will answer that question
more fully in my next volume of plays, which will be entirely
devoted to the subject. For the present I will only say that
there were better reasons than the obvious one that such sham
science as this opened a scientific career to very stupid men,
and all the other careers to shameless rascals, provided they
were industrious enough. It is true that this motive operated
very powerfully; but when the new departure in scientific
doctrine which is associated with the name of the great
naturalist Charles Darwin began, it was not only a reaction
against a barbarous pseudo-evangelical teleology intolerably
obstructive to all scientific progress, but was accompanied, as
it happened, by discoveries of extraordinary interest in physics,
chemistry, and that lifeless method of evolution which its
investigators called Natural Selection. Howbeit, there was only
one result possible in the ethical sphere, and that was the
banishment of conscience from human affairs, or, as Samuel Butler
vehemently put it, "of mind from the universe."


Now Heartbreak House, with Butler and Bergson and Scott Haldane
alongside Blake and the other major poets on its shelves (to say
nothing of Wagner and the tone poets), was not so completely
blinded by the doltish materialism of the laboratories as the
uncultured world outside. But being an idle house it was a
hypochondriacal house, always running after cures. It would stop
eating meat, not on valid Shelleyan grounds, but in order to get
rid of a bogey called Uric Acid; and it would actually let you
pull all its teeth out to exorcise another demon named Pyorrhea.
It was superstitious, and addicted to table-rapping,
materialization seances, clairvoyance, palmistry, crystal-gazing
and the like to such an extent that it may be doubted whether
ever before in the history of the world did soothsayers,
astrologers, and unregistered therapeutic specialists of all
sorts flourish as they did during this half century of the drift
to the abyss. The registered doctors and surgeons were hard put
to it to compete with the unregistered. They were not clever
enough to appeal to the imagination and sociability of the
Heartbreakers by the arts of the actor, the orator, the poet, the
winning conversationalist. They had to fall back coarsely on the
terror of infection and death. They prescribed inoculations and
operations. Whatever part of a human being could be cut out
without necessarily killing him they cut out; and he often died
(unnecessarily of course) in consequence. From such trifles as
uvulas and tonsils they went on to ovaries and appendices until
at last no one's inside was safe. They explained that the human
intestine was too long, and that nothing could make a child of
Adam healthy except short circuiting the pylorus by cutting a
length out of the lower intestine and fastening it directly to
the stomach. As their mechanist theory taught them that medicine
was the business of the chemist's laboratory, and surgery of the
carpenter's shop, and also that Science (by which they meant
their practices) was so important that no consideration for the
interests of any individual creature, whether frog or
philosopher, much less the vulgar commonplaces of sentimental
ethics, could weigh for a moment against the remotest off-chance
of an addition to the body of scientific knowledge, they operated
and vivisected and inoculated and lied on a stupendous scale,
clamoring for and actually acquiring such legal powers over the
bodies of their fellow-citizens as neither king, pope, nor
parliament dare ever have claimed. The Inquisition itself was a
Liberal institution compared to the General Medical Council.

Those who do not know how to live must make a Merit of Dying

Heartbreak House was far too lazy and shallow to extricate itself
from this palace of evil enchantment. It rhapsodized about love;
but it believed in cruelty. It was afraid of the cruel people;
and it saw that cruelty was at least effective. Cruelty did
things that made money, whereas Love did nothing but prove the
soundness of Larochefoucauld's saying that very few people would
fall in love if they had never read about it. Heartbreak House,
in short, did not know how to live, at which point all that was
left to it was the boast that at least it knew how to die: a
melancholy accomplishment which the outbreak of war presently
gave it practically unlimited opportunities of displaying. Thus
were the firstborn of Heartbreak House smitten; and the young,
the innocent, the hopeful, expiated the folly and worthlessness
of their elders.

War Delirium

Only those who have lived through a first-rate war, not in the
field, but at home, and kept their heads, can possibly understand
the bitterness of Shakespeare and Swift, who both went through
this experience. The horror of Peer Gynt in the madhouse, when
the lunatics, exalted by illusions of splendid talent and visions
of a dawning millennium, crowned him as their emperor, was tame
in comparison. I do not know whether anyone really kept his head
completely except those who had to keep it because they had to
conduct the war at first hand. I should not have kept my own (as
far as I did keep it) if I had not at once understood that as a
scribe and speaker I too was under the most serious public
obligation to keep my grip on realities; but this did not save me
from a considerable degree of hyperaesthesia. There were of
course some happy people to whom the war meant nothing: all
political and general matters lying outside their little circle
of interest. But the ordinary war-conscious civilian went mad,
the main symptom being a conviction that the whole order of
nature had been reversed. All foods, he felt, must now be
adulterated. All schools must be closed. No advertisements must
be sent to the newspapers, of which new editions must appear and
be bought up every ten minutes. Travelling must be stopped, or,
that being impossible, greatly hindered. All pretences about fine
art and culture and the like must be flung off as an intolerable
affectation; and the picture galleries and museums and schools at
once occupied by war workers. The British Museum itself was saved
only by a hair's breadth. The sincerity of all this, and of much
more which would not be believed if I chronicled it, may be
established by one conclusive instance of the general craziness.
Men were seized with the illusion that they could win the war by
giving away money. And they not only subscribed millions to Funds
of all sorts with no discoverable object, and to ridiculous
voluntary organizations for doing what was plainly the business
of the civil and military authorities, but actually handed out
money to any thief in the street who had the presence of mind to
pretend that he (or she) was "collecting" it for the annihilation
of the enemy. Swindlers were emboldened to take offices; label
themselves Anti-Enemy Leagues; and simply pocket the money that
was heaped on them. Attractively dressed young women found that
they had nothing to do but parade the streets, collecting-box in
hand, and live gloriously on the profits. Many months elapsed
before, as a first sign of returning sanity, the police swept an
Anti-Enemy secretary into prison pour encourages les autres, and
the passionate penny collecting of the Flag Days was brought
under some sort of regulation.

Madness in Court

The demoralization did not spare the Law Courts. Soldiers were
acquitted, even on fully proved indictments for wilful murder,
until at last the judges and magistrates had to announce that
what was called the Unwritten Law, which meant simply that a
soldier could do what he liked with impunity in civil life, was
not the law of the land, and that a Victoria Cross did not carry
with it a perpetual plenary indulgence. Unfortunately the
insanity of the juries and magistrates did not always manifest
itself in indulgence. No person unlucky enough to be charged with
any sort of conduct, however reasonable and salutary, that did
not smack of war delirium, had the slightest chance of acquittal.
There were in the country, too, a certain number of people who
had conscientious objections to war as criminal or unchristian.
The Act of Parliament introducing Compulsory Military Service
thoughtlessly exempted these persons, merely requiring them to
prove the genuineness of their convictions. Those who did so were
very ill-advised from the point of view of their own personal
interest; for they were persecuted with savage logicality in
spite of the law; whilst those who made no pretence of having any
objection to war at all, and had not only had military training
in Officers' Training Corps, but had proclaimed on public
occasions that they were perfectly ready to engage in civil war
on behalf of their political opinions, were allowed the benefit
of the Act on the ground that they did not approve of this
particular war. For the Christians there was no mercy. In cases
where the evidence as to their being killed by ill treatment was
so unequivocal that the verdict would certainly have been one of
wilful murder had the prejudice of the coroner's jury been on the
other side, their tormentors were gratuitously declared to be
blameless. There was only one virtue, pugnacity: only one vice,
pacifism. That is an essential condition of war; but the
Government had not the courage to legislate accordingly; and its
law was set aside for Lynch law.

The climax of legal lawlessness was reached in France. The
greatest Socialist statesman in Europe, Jaures, was shot and
killed by a gentleman who resented his efforts to avert the war.
M. Clemenceau was shot by another gentleman of less popular
opinions, and happily came off no worse than having to spend a
precautionary couple of days in bed. The slayer of Jaures was
recklessly acquitted: the would-be slayer of M. Clemenceau was
carefully found guilty. There is no reason to doubt that the same
thing would have happened in England if the war had begun with a
successful attempt to assassinate Keir Hardie, and ended with an
unsuccessful one to assassinate Mr Lloyd George.

The Long Arm of War

The pestilence which is the usual accompaniment of war was called
influenza. Whether it was really a war pestilence or not was made
doubtful by the fact that it did its worst in places remote from
the battlefields, notably on the west coast of North America and
in India. But the moral pestilence, which was unquestionably a
war pestilence, reproduced this phenomenon. One would have
supposed that the war fever would have raged most furiously in
the countries actually under fire, and that the others would be
more reasonable. Belgium and Flanders, where over large districts
literally not one stone was left upon another as the opposed
armies drove each other back and forward over it after terrific
preliminary bombardments, might have been pardoned for relieving
their feelings more emphatically than by shrugging their
shoulders and saying, "C'est la guerre." England, inviolate for
so many centuries that the swoop of war on her homesteads had
long ceased to be more credible than a return of the Flood, could
hardly be expected to keep her temper sweet when she knew at last
what it was to hide in cellars and underground railway stations,
or lie quaking in bed, whilst bombs crashed, houses crumbled, and
aircraft guns distributed shrapnel on friend and foe alike until
certain shop windows in London, formerly full of fashionable
hats, were filled with steel helmets. Slain and mutilated women
and children, and burnt and wrecked dwellings, excuse a good deal
of violent language, and produce a wrath on which many suns go
down before it is appeased. Yet it was in the United States of
America where nobody slept the worse for the war, that the war
fever went beyond all sense and reason. In European Courts there
was vindictive illegality: in American Courts there was raving
lunacy. It is not for me to chronicle the extravagances of an
Ally: let some candid American do that. I can only say that to us
sitting in our gardens in England, with the guns in France making
themselves felt by a throb in the air as unmistakeable as an
audible sound, or with tightening hearts studying the phases of
the moon in London in their bearing on the chances whether our
houses would be standing or ourselves alive next morning, the
newspaper accounts of the sentences American Courts were passing
on young girls and old men alike for the expression of opinions
which were being uttered amid thundering applause before huge
audiences in England, and the more private records of the methods
by which the American War Loans were raised, were so amazing that
they put the guns and the possibilities of a raid clean out of
our heads for the moment.

The Rabid Watchdogs of Liberty

Not content with these rancorous abuses of the existing law, the
war maniacs made a frantic rush to abolish all constitutional
guarantees of liberty and well-being. The ordinary law was
superseded by Acts under which newspapers were seized and their
printing machinery destroyed by simple police raids a la Russe,
and persons arrested and shot without any pretence of trial by
jury or publicity of procedure or evidence. Though it was
urgently necessary that production should be increased by the
most scientific organization and economy of labor, and though no
fact was better established than that excessive duration and
intensity of toil reduces production heavily instead of
increasing it, the factory laws were suspended, and men and women
recklessly over-worked until the loss of their efficiency became
too glaring to be ignored. Remonstrances and warnings were met
either with an accusation of pro-Germanism or the formula,
"Remember that we are at war now." I have said that men assumed
that war had reversed the order of nature, and that all was lost
unless we did the exact opposite of everything we had found
necessary and beneficial in peace. But the truth was worse than
that. The war did not change men's minds in any such impossible
way. What really happened was that the impact of physical death
and destruction, the one reality that every fool can understand,
tore off the masks of education, art, science and religion from
our ignorance and barbarism, and left us glorying grotesquely in
the licence suddenly accorded to our vilest passions and most
abject terrors. Ever since Thucydides wrote his history, it has
been on record that when the angel of death sounds his trumpet
the pretences of civilization are blown from men's heads into the
mud like hats in a gust of wind. But when this scripture was
fulfilled among us, the shock was not the less appalling because
a few students of Greek history were not surprised by it. Indeed
these students threw themselves into the orgy as shamelessly as
the illiterate. The Christian priest, joining in the war dance
without even throwing off his cassock first, and the respectable
school governor expelling the German professor with insult and
bodily violence, and declaring that no English child should
ever again be taught the language of Luther and Goethe, were kept
in countenance by the most impudent repudiations of every decency
of civilization and every lesson of political experience on the
part of the very persons who, as university professors,
historians, philosophers, and men of science, were the accredited
custodians of culture. It was crudely natural, and perhaps
necessary for recruiting purposes, that German militarism and
German dynastic ambition should be painted by journalists and
recruiters in black and red as European dangers (as in fact they
are), leaving it to be inferred that our own militarism and our
own political constitution are millennially democratic (which
they certainly are not); but when it came to frantic
denunciations of German chemistry, German biology, German poetry,
German music, German literature, German philosophy, and even
German engineering, as malignant abominations standing towards
British and French chemistry and so forth in the relation of
heaven to hell, it was clear that the utterers of such barbarous
ravings had never really understood or cared for the arts and
sciences they professed and were profaning, and were only the
appallingly degenerate descendants of the men of the seventeenth
and eighteenth centuries who, recognizing no national frontiers
in the great realm of the human mind, kept the European comity of
that realm loftily and even ostentatiously above the rancors of
the battle-field. Tearing the Garter from the Kaiser's leg,
striking the German dukes from the roll of our peerage, changing
the King's illustrious and historically appropriate surname (for
the war was the old war of Guelph against Ghibelline, with the
Kaiser as Arch-Ghibelline) to that of a traditionless locality.
One felt that the figure of St. George and the Dragon on our
coinage should be replaced by that of the soldier driving his
spear through Archimedes. But by that time there was no coinage:
only paper money in which ten shillings called itself a pound as
confidently as the people who were disgracing their country
called themselves patriots.

The Sufferings of the Sane

The mental distress of living amid the obscene din of all these
carmagnoles and corobberies was not the only burden that lay on
sane people during the war. There was also the emotional strain,
complicated by the offended economic sense, produced by the
casualty lists. The stupid, the selfish, the narrow-minded, the
callous and unimaginative were spared a great deal. "Blood and
destruction shall be so in use that mothers shall but smile when
they behold their infantes quartered by the hands of war," was a
Shakespearean prophecy that very nearly came true; for when
nearly every house had a slaughtered son to mourn, we should all
have gone quite out of our senses if we had taken our own and our
friend's bereavements at their peace value. It became necessary
to give them a false value; to proclaim the young life worthily
and gloriously sacrificed to redeem the liberty of mankind,
instead of to expiate the heedlessness and folly of their
fathers, and expiate it in vain. We had even to assume that the
parents and not the children had made the sacrifice, until at
last the comic papers were driven to satirize fat old men,
sitting comfortably in club chairs, and boasting of the sons they
had "given" to their country.

No one grudged these anodynes to acute personal grief; but they
only embittered those who knew that the young men were having
their teeth set on edge because their parents had eaten sour
political grapes. Then think of the young men themselves! Many of
them had no illusions about the policy that led to the war: they
went clear-sighted to a horribly repugnant duty. Men essentially
gentle and essentially wise, with really valuable work in hand,
laid it down voluntarily and spent months forming fours in the
barrack yard, and stabbing sacks of straw in the public eye, so
that they might go out to kill and maim men as gentle as
themselves. These men, who were perhaps, as a class, our most
efficient soldiers (Frederick Keeling, for example), were not
duped for a moment by the hypocritical melodrama that consoled
and stimulated the others. They left their creative work to
drudge at destruction, exactly as they would have left it to take
their turn at the pumps in a sinking ship. They did not, like
some of the conscientious objectors, hold back because the ship
had been neglected by its officers and scuttled by its wreckers.
The ship had to be saved, even if Newton had to leave his
fluxions and Michael Angelo his marbles to save it; so they threw
away the tools of their beneficent and ennobling trades, and took
up the blood-stained bayonet and the murderous bomb, forcing
themselves to pervert their divine instinct for perfect artistic
execution to the effective handling of these diabolical things,
and their economic faculty for organization to the contriving of
ruin and slaughter. For it gave an ironic edge to their tragedy
that the very talents they were forced to prostitute made the
prostitution not only effective, but even interesting; so that
some of them were rapidly promoted, and found themselves actually
becoming artists in wax, with a growing relish for it, like
Napoleon and all the other scourges of mankind, in spite of
themselves. For many of them there was not even this consolation.
They "stuck it," and hated it, to the end.

Evil in the Throne of Good

This distress of the gentle was so acute that those who shared it
in civil life, without having to shed blood with their own hands,
or witness destruction with their own eyes, hardly care to
obtrude their own woes. Nevertheless, even when sitting at home
in safety, it was not easy for those who had to write and speak
about the war to throw away their highest conscience, and
deliberately work to a standard of inevitable evil instead of to
the ideal of life more abundant. I can answer for at least one
person who found the change from the wisdom of Jesus and St.
Francis to the morals of Richard III and the madness of Don
Quixote extremely irksome. But that change had to be made; and we
are all the worse for it, except those for whom it was not really
a change at all, but only a relief from hypocrisy.

Think, too, of those who, though they had neither to write nor to
fight, and had no children of their own to lose, yet knew the
inestimable loss to the world of four years of the life of a
generation wasted on destruction. Hardly one of the epoch-making
works of the human mind might not have been aborted or destroyed
by taking their authors away from their natural work for four
critical years. Not only were Shakespeares and Platos being
killed outright; but many of the best harvests of the survivors
had to be sown in the barren soil of the trenches. And this was
no mere British consideration. To the truly civilized man, to the
good European, the slaughter of the German youth was as
disastrous as the slaughter of the English. Fools exulted in
"German losses." They were our losses as well. Imagine exulting
in the death of Beethoven because Bill Sykes dealt him his death

Straining at the Gnat and swallowing the Camel

But most people could not comprehend these sorrows. There was a
frivolous exultation in death for its own sake, which was at
bottom an inability to realize that the deaths were real deaths
and not stage ones. Again and again, when an air raider dropped a
bomb which tore a child and its mother limb from limb, the people
who saw it, though they had been reading with great cheerfulness
of thousands of such happenings day after day in their
newspapers, suddenly burst into furious imprecations on "the
Huns" as murderers, and shrieked for savage and satisfying
vengeance. At such moments it became clear that the deaths they
had not seen meant no more to them than the mimic death of the
cinema screen. Sometimes it was not necessary that death should
be actually witnessed: it had only to take place under
circumstances of sufficient novelty and proximity to bring it
home almost as sensationally and effectively as if it had been
actually visible.

For example, in the spring of 1915 there was an appalling
slaughter of our young soldiers at Neuve Chapelle and at the
Gallipoli landing. I will not go so far as to say that our
civilians were delighted to have such exciting news to read at
breakfast. But I cannot pretend that I noticed either in the
papers, or in general intercourse, any feeling beyond the usual
one that the cinema show at the front was going splendidly, and
that our boys were the bravest of the brave. Suddenly there came
the news that an Atlantic liner, the Lusitania, had been
torpedoed, and that several well-known first-class passengers,
including a famous theatrical manager and the author of a popular
farce, had been drowned, among others. The others included Sir
Hugh Lane; but as he had only laid the country under great
obligations in the sphere of the fine arts, no great stress was
laid on that loss. Immediately an amazing frenzy swept through
the country. Men who up to that time had kept their heads now
lost them utterly. "Killing saloon passengers! What next?" was
the essence of the whole agitation; but it is far too trivial a
phrase to convey the faintest notion of the rage which possessed
us. To me, with my mind full of the hideous cost of Neuve
Chapelle, Ypres, and the Gallipoli landing, the fuss about the
Lusitania seemed almost a heartless impertinence, though I was
well acquainted personally with the three best-known victims, and
understood, better perhaps than most people, the misfortune of
the death of Lane. I even found a grim satisfaction, very
intelligible to all soldiers, in the fact that the civilians who
found the war such splendid British sport should get a sharp
taste of what it was to the actual combatants. I expressed my
impatience very freely, and found that my very straightforward
and natural feeling in the matter was received as a monstrous and
heartless paradox. When I asked those who gaped at me whether
they had anything to say about the holocaust of Festubert, they
gaped wider than before, having totally forgotten it, or rather,
having never realized it. They were not heartless anymore than I
was; but the big catastrophe was too big for them to grasp, and
the little one had been just the right size for them. I was not
surprised. Have I not seen a public body for just the same reason
pass a vote for 30,000 without a word, and then spend three
special meetings, prolonged into the night, over an item of seven
shillings for refreshments?

Little Minds and Big Battles

Nobody will be able to understand the vagaries of public feeling
during the war unless they bear constantly in mind that the war
in its entire magnitude did not exist for the average civilian.
He could not conceive even a battle, much less a campaign. To the
suburbs the war was nothing but a suburban squabble. To the miner
and navvy it was only a series of bayonet fights between German
champions and English ones. The enormity of it was quite beyond
most of us. Its episodes had to be reduced to the dimensions of a
railway accident or a shipwreck before it could produce any
effect on our minds at all. To us the ridiculous bombardments of
Scarborough and Ramsgate were colossal tragedies, and the battle
of Jutland a mere ballad. The words "after thorough artillery
preparation" in the news from the front meant nothing to us; but
when our seaside trippers learned that an elderly gentleman at
breakfast in a week-end marine hotel had been interrupted by a
bomb dropping into his egg-cup, their wrath and horror knew no
bounds. They declared that this would put a new spirit into the
army; and had no suspicion that the soldiers in the trenches
roared with laughter over it for days, and told each other that
it would do the blighters at home good to have a taste of what
the army was up against. Sometimes the smallness of view was
pathetic. A man would work at home regardless of the call "to
make the world safe for democracy." His brother would be killed
at the front. Immediately he would throw up his work and take up
the war as a family blood feud against the Germans. Sometimes it
was comic. A wounded man, entitled to his discharge, would return
to the trenches with a grim determination to find the Hun who had
wounded him and pay him out for it.

It is impossible to estimate what proportion of us, in khaki or
out of it, grasped the war and its political antecedents as a
whole in the light of any philosophy of history or knowledge of
what war is. I doubt whether it was as high as our proportion of
higher mathematicians. But there can be no doubt that it was
prodigiously outnumbered by the comparatively ignorant and
childish. Remember that these people had to be stimulated to make
the sacrifices demanded by the war, and that this could not be
done by appeals to a knowledge which they did not possess, and a
comprehension of which they were incapable. When the armistice at
last set me free to tell the truth about the war at the following
general election, a soldier said to a candidate whom I was
supporting, "If I had known all that in 1914, they would never
have got me into khaki." And that, of course, was precisely why
it had been necessary to stuff him with a romance that any
diplomatist would have laughed at. Thus the natural confusion of
ignorance was increased by a deliberately propagated confusion of
nursery bogey stories and melodramatic nonsense, which at last
overreached itself and made it impossible to stop the war before
we had not only achieved the triumph of vanquishing the German
army and thereby overthrowing its militarist monarchy, but made
the very serious mistake of ruining the centre of Europe, a thing
that no sane European State could afford to do.

The Dumb Capables and the Noisy Incapables

Confronted with this picture of insensate delusion and folly, the
critical reader will immediately counterplead that England all
this time was conducting a war which involved the organization of
several millions of fighting men and of the workers who were
supplying them with provisions, munitions, and transport, and
that this could not have been done by a mob of hysterical
ranters. This is fortunately true. To pass from the newspaper
offices and political platforms and club fenders and suburban
drawing-rooms to the Army and the munition factories was to pass
from Bedlam to the busiest and sanest of workaday worlds. It was
to rediscover England, and find solid ground for the faith of
those who still believed in her. But a necessary condition of
this efficiency was that those who were efficient should give all
their time to their business and leave the rabble raving to its
heart's content. Indeed the raving was useful to the efficient,
because, as it was always wide of the mark, it often distracted
attention very conveniently from operations that would have been
defeated or hindered by publicity. A precept which I endeavored
vainly to popularize early in the war, "If you have anything to
do go and do it: if not, for heaven's sake get out of the way,"
was only half carried out. Certainly the capable people went and
did it; but the incapables would by no means get out of the way:
they fussed and bawled and were only prevented from getting very
seriously into the way by the blessed fact that they never knew
where the way was. Thus whilst all the efficiency of England was
silent and invisible, all its imbecility was deafening the
heavens with its clamor and blotting out the sun with its dust.
It was also unfortunately intimidating the Government by its
blusterings into using the irresistible powers of the State to
intimidate the sensible people, thus enabling a despicable
minority of would-be lynchers to set up a reign of terror which
could at any time have been broken by a single stern word from a
responsible minister. But our ministers had not that sort of
courage: neither Heartbreak House nor Horseback Hall had bred it,
much less the suburbs. When matters at last came to the looting
of shops by criminals under patriotic pretexts, it was the police
force and not the Government that put its foot down. There was
even one deplorable moment, during the submarine scare, in which
the Government yielded to a childish cry for the maltreatment of
naval prisoners of war, and, to our great disgrace, was forced by
the enemy to behave itself. And yet behind all this public
blundering and misconduct and futile mischief, the effective
England was carrying on with the most formidable capacity and
activity. The ostensible England was making the empire sick with
its incontinences, its ignorances, its ferocities, its panics,
and its endless and intolerable blarings of Allied national
anthems in season and out. The esoteric England was proceeding
irresistibly to the conquest of Europe.

The Practical Business Men

>From the beginning the useless people set up a shriek for
"practical business men." By this they meant men who had become
rich by placing their personal interests before those of the
country, and measuring the success of every activity by the
pecuniary profit it brought to them and to those on whom they
depended for their supplies of capital. The pitiable failure of
some conspicuous samples from the first batch we tried of these
poor devils helped to give the whole public side of the war an
air of monstrous and hopeless farce. They proved not only that
they were useless for public work, but that in a well-ordered
nation they would never have been allowed to control private

How the Fools shouted the Wise Men down

Thus, like a fertile country flooded with mud, England showed no
sign of her greatness in the days when she was putting forth all
her strength to save herself from the worst consequences of her
littleness. Most of the men of action, occupied to the last hour
of their time with urgent practical work, had to leave to idler
people, or to professional rhetoricians, the presentation of the
war to the reason and imagination of the country and the world in
speeches, poems, manifestoes, picture posters, and newspaper
articles. I have had the privilege of hearing some of our ablest
commanders talking about their work; and I have shared the common
lot of reading the accounts of that work given to the world by
the newspapers. No two experiences could be more different. But
in the end the talkers obtained a dangerous ascendancy over the
rank and file of the men of action; for though the great men of
action are always inveterate talkers and often very clever
writers, and therefore cannot have their minds formed for them by
others, the average man of action, like the average fighter with
the bayonet, can give no account of himself in words even to
himself, and is apt to pick up and accept what he reads about
himself and other people in the papers, except when the writer is
rash enough to commit himself on technical points. It was not
uncommon during the war to hear a soldier, or a civilian engaged
on war work, describing events within his own experience that
reduced to utter absurdity the ravings and maunderings of his
daily paper, and yet echo the opinions of that paper like a
parrot. Thus, to escape from the prevailing confusion and folly,
it was not enough to seek the company of the ordinary man of
action: one had to get into contact with the master spirits. This
was a privilege which only a handful of people could enjoy. For
the unprivileged citizen there was no escape. To him the whole
country seemed mad, futile, silly, incompetent, with no hope of
victory except the hope that the enemy might be just as mad. Only
by very resolute reflection and reasoning could he reassure
himself that if there was nothing more solid beneath their
appalling appearances the war could not possibly have gone on for
a single day without a total breakdown of its organization.

The Mad Election

Happy were the fools and the thoughtless men of action in those
days. The worst of it was that the fools  were very strongly
represented in parliament, as fools not only elect fools, but can
persuade men of action to elect them too. The election that
immediately followed the armistice was perhaps the maddest that
has ever taken place. Soldiers who had done voluntary and heroic
service in the field were defeated by persons who had apparently
never run a risk or spent a farthing that they could avoid, and
who even had in the course of the election to apologize publicly
for bawling Pacifist or Pro-German at their opponent. Party
leaders seek such followers, who can always be depended on to
walk tamely into the lobby at the party whip's orders, provided
the leader will make their seats safe for them by the process
which was called, in derisive reference to the war rationing
system, "giving them the coupon." Other incidents were so
grotesque that I cannot mention them without enabling the reader
to identify the parties, which would not be fair, as they were no
more to blame than thousands of others who must necessarily be
nameless. The general result was patently absurd; and the
electorate, disgusted at its own work, instantly recoiled to the
opposite extreme, and cast out all the coupon candidates at the
earliest bye-elections by equally silly majorities. But the
mischief of the general election could not be undone; and the
Government had not only to pretend to abuse its European victory
as it had promised, but actually to do it by starving the enemies
who had thrown down their arms. It had, in short, won the
election by pledging itself to be thriftlessly wicked, cruel, and
vindictive; and it did not find it as easy to escape from this
pledge as it had from nobler ones. The end, as I write, is not
yet; but it is clear that this thoughtless savagery will recoil
on the heads of the Allies so severely that we shall be forced by
the sternest necessity to take up our share of healing the Europe
we have wounded almost to death instead of attempting to complete
her destruction.

The Yahoo and the Angry Ape

Contemplating this picture of a state of mankind so recent that
no denial of its truth is possible, one understands Shakespeare
comparing Man to an angry ape, Swift describing him as a Yahoo
rebuked by the superior virtue of the horse, and Wellington
declaring that the British can behave themselves neither in
victory nor defeat. Yet none of the three had seen war as we have
seen it. Shakespeare blamed great men, saying that "Could great
men thunder as Jove himself does, Jove would ne'er be quiet; for
every pelting petty officer would use his heaven for thunder:
nothing but thunder." What would Shakespeare have said if he had
seen something far more destructive than thunder in the hand of
every village laborer, and found on the Messines Ridge the
craters of the nineteen volcanoes that were let loose there at
the touch of a finger that might have been a child's finger
without the result being a whit less ruinous? Shakespeare may
have seen a Stratford cottage struck by one of Jove's
thunderbolts, and have helped to extinguish the lighted thatch
and clear away the bits of the broken chimney. What would he have
said if he had seen Ypres as it is now, or returned to Stratford,
as French peasants are returning to their homes to-day, to find
the old familiar signpost inscribed "To Stratford, 1 mile," and
at the end of the mile nothing but some holes in the ground and a
fragment of a broken churn here and there? Would not the
spectacle of the angry ape endowed with powers of destruction
that Jove never pretended to, have beggared even his command of

And yet, what is there to say except that war puts a strain on
human nature that breaks down the better half of it, and makes
the worse half a diabolical virtue? Better, for us if it broke it
down altogether, for then the warlike way out of our difficulties
would be barred to us, and we should take greater care not to get
into them. In truth, it is, as Byron said, "not difficult to
die," and enormously difficult to live: that explains why, at
bottom, peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more
arduous. Did any hero of the war face the glorious risk of death
more bravely than the traitor Bolo faced the ignominious
certainty of it? Bolo taught us all how to die: can we say that
he taught us all how to live? Hardly a week passes now without
some soldier who braved death in the field so recklessly that he
was decorated or specially commended for it, being haled before
our magistrates for having failed to resist the paltriest
temptations of peace, with no better excuse than the old one that
"a man must live." Strange that one who, sooner than do honest
work, will sell his honor for a bottle of wine, a visit to the
theatre, and an hour with a strange woman, all obtained by
passing a worthless cheque, could yet stake his life on the most
desperate chances of the battle-field! Does it not seem as if,
after all, the glory of death were cheaper than the glory of
life? If it is not easier to attain, why do so many more men
attain it? At all events it is clear that the kingdom of the
Prince of Peace has not yet become the kingdom of this world. His
attempts at invasion have been resisted far more fiercely than
the Kaiser's. Successful as that resistance has been, it has
piled up a sort of National Debt that is not the less oppressive
because we have no figures for it and do not intend to pay it. A
blockade that cuts off "the grace of our Lord" is in the long run
less bearable than the blockades which merely cut off raw
materials; and against that blockade our Armada is impotent. In
the blockader's house, he has assured us, there are many
mansions; but I am afraid they do not include either Heartbreak
House or Horseback Hall.

Plague on Both your Houses!

Meanwhile the Bolshevist picks and petards are at work on the
foundations of both buildings; and though the Bolshevists may be
buried in the ruins, their deaths will not save the edifices.
Unfortunately they can be built again. Like Doubting Castle, they
have been demolished many times by successive Greathearts, and
rebuilt by Simple, Sloth, and Presumption, by Feeble Mind and
Much Afraid, and by all the jurymen of Vanity Fair. Another
generation of "secondary education" at our ancient public schools
and the cheaper institutions that ape them will be quite
sufficient to keep the two going until the next war. For the
instruction of that generation I leave these pages as a record of
what civilian life was during the war: a matter on which history
is usually silent. Fortunately it was a very short war. It is
true that the people who thought it could not last more than six
months were very signally refuted by the event. As Sir Douglas
Haig has pointed out, its Waterloos lasted months instead of
hours. But there would have been nothing surprising in its
lasting thirty years. If it had not been for the fact that the
blockade achieved the amazing feat of starving out Europe, which
it could not possibly have done had Europe been properly
organized for war, or even for peace, the war would have lasted
until the belligerents were so tired of it that they could no
longer be compelled to compel themselves to go on with it.
Considering its magnitude, the war of 1914-18 will certainly be
classed as the shortest in history. The end came so suddenly that
the combatant literally stumbled over it; and yet it came a full
year later than it should have come if the belligerents had not
been far too afraid of one another to face the situation
sensibly. Germany, having failed to provide for the war she
began, failed again to surrender before she was dangerously
exhausted. Her opponents, equally improvident, went as much too
close to bankruptcy as Germany to starvation. It was a bluff at
which both were bluffed. And, with the usual irony of war, it
remains doubtful whether Germany and Russia, the defeated, will
not be the gainers; for the victors are already busy fastening on
themselves the chains they have struck from the limbs of the

How the Theatre fared

Let us now contract our view rather violently from the European
theatre of war to the theatre in which the fights are sham
fights, and the slain, rising the moment the curtain has fallen,
go comfortably home to supper after washing off their rose-pink
wounds. It is nearly twenty years since I was last obliged to
introduce a play in the form of a book for lack of an opportunity
of presenting it in its proper mode by a performance in a
theatre. The war has thrown me back on this expedient. Heartbreak
House has not yet reached the stage. I have withheld it because
the war has completely upset the economic conditions which
formerly enabled serious drama to pay its way in London. The
change is not in the theatres nor in the management of them, nor
in the authors and actors, but in the audiences. For four years
the London theatres were crowded every night with thousands of
soldiers on leave from the front. These soldiers were not
seasoned London playgoers. A childish experience of my own gave
me a clue to their condition. When I was a small boy I was taken
to the opera. I did not then know what an opera was, though I
could whistle a good deal of opera music. I had seen in my
mother's album photographs of all the great opera singers, mostly
in evening dress. In the theatre I found myself before a gilded
balcony filled with persons in evening dress whom I took to be
the opera singers. I picked out one massive dark lady as Alboni,
and wondered how soon she would stand up and sing. I was puzzled
by the fact that I was made to sit with my back to the singers
instead of facing them. When the curtain went up, my astonishment
and delight were unbounded.

The Soldier at the Theatre Front

In 1915, I saw in the theatres men in khaki in just the same
predicament. To everyone who had my clue to their state of mind
it was evident that they had never been in a theatre before and
did not know what it was. At one of our great variety theatres I
sat beside a young officer, not at all a rough specimen, who,
even when the curtain rose and enlightened him as to the place
where he had to look for his entertainment, found the dramatic
part of it utterly incomprehensible. He did not know how to play
his part of the game. He could understand the people on the stage
singing and dancing and performing gymnastic feats. He not only
understood but intensely enjoyed an artist who imitated cocks
crowing and pigs squeaking. But the people who pretended that
they were somebody else, and that the painted picture behind them
was real, bewildered him. In his presence I realized how very
sophisticated the natural man has to become before the
conventions of the theatre can be easily acceptable, or the
purpose of the drama obvious to him.

Well, from the moment when the routine of leave for our soldiers
was established, such novices, accompanied by damsels (called
flappers) often as innocent as themselves, crowded the theatres
to the doors. It was hardly possible at first to find stuff crude
enough to nurse them on. The best music-hall comedians ransacked
their memories for the oldest quips and the most childish antics
to avoid carrying the military spectators out of their depth. I
believe that this was a mistake as far as the novices were
concerned. Shakespeare, or the dramatized histories of George
Barnwell, Maria Martin, or the Demon Barber of Fleet Street,
would probably have been quite popular with them. But the novices
were only a minority after all. The cultivated soldier, who in
time of peace would look at nothing theatrical except the most
advanced postIbsen plays in the most artistic settings, found
himself, to his own astonishment, thirsting for silly jokes,
dances, and brainlessly sensuous exhibitions of pretty girls. The
author of some of the most grimly serious plays of our time told
me that after enduring the trenches for months without a glimpse
of the female of his species, it gave him an entirely innocent
but delightful pleasure merely to see a flapper. The reaction
from the battle-field produced a condition of hyperaesthesia in
which all the theatrical values were altered. Trivial things
gained intensity and stale things novelty. The actor, instead of
having to coax his audiences out of the boredom which had driven
them to the theatre in an ill humor to seek some sort of
distraction, had only to exploit the bliss of smiling men who
were no longer under fire and under military discipline, but
actually clean and comfortable and in a mood to be pleased with
anything and everything that a bevy of pretty girls and a funny
man, or even a bevy of girls pretending to be pretty and a man
pretending to be funny, could do for them.

Then could be seen every night in the theatres oldfashioned
farcical comedies, in which a bedroom, with four doors on each
side and a practicable window in the middle, was understood to
resemble exactly the bedroom in the flats beneath and above, all
three inhabited by couples consumed with jealousy. When these
people came home drunk at night; mistook their neighbor's flats
for their own; and in due course got into the wrong beds, it was
not only the novices who found the resulting complications and
scandals exquisitely ingenious and amusing, nor their equally
verdant flappers who could not help squealing in a manner that
astonished the oldest performers when the gentleman who had just
come in drunk through the window pretended to undress, and
allowed glimpses of his naked person to be descried from time to

Heartbreak House

Men who had just read the news that Charles Wyndham was dying,
and were thereby sadly reminded of Pink Dominos and the torrent
of farcical comedies that followed it in his heyday until every
trick of that trade had become so stale that the laughter they
provoked turned to loathing: these veterans also, when they
returned from the field, were as much pleased by what they knew
to be stale and foolish as the novices by what they thought fresh
and clever.

Commerce in the Theatre

Wellington said that an army moves on its belly. So does a London
theatre. Before a man acts he must eat. Before he performs plays
he must pay rent. In London we have no theatres for the welfare
of the people: they are all for the sole purpose of producing the
utmost obtainable rent for the proprietor. If the twin flats and
twin beds produce a guinea more than Shakespeare, out goes
Shakespeare and in come the twin flats and the twin beds. If the
brainless bevy of pretty girls and the funny man outbid Mozart,
out goes Mozart.

Unser Shakespeare

Before the war an effort was made to remedy this by establishing
a national theatre in celebration of the tercentenary of the
death of Shakespeare. A committee was formed; and all sorts of
illustrious and influential persons lent their names to a grand
appeal to our national culture. My play, The Dark Lady of The
Sonnets, was one of the incidents of that appeal. After some
years of effort the result was a single handsome subscription
from a German gentleman. Like the celebrated swearer in the
anecdote when the cart containing all his household goods lost
its tailboard at the top of the hill and let its contents roll in
ruin to the bottom, I can only say, "I cannot do justice to this
situation," and let it pass without another word.

The Higher Drama put out of Action

The effect of the war on the London theatres may now be imagined.
The beds and the bevies drove every higher form of art out of it.
Rents went up to an unprecedented figure. At the same time prices
doubled everywhere except at the theatre pay-boxes, and raised
the expenses of management to such a degree that unless the
houses were quite full every night, profit was impossible. Even
bare solvency could not be attained without a very wide
popularity. Now what had made serious drama possible to a limited
extent before the war was that a play could pay its way even if
the theatre were only half full until Saturday and three-quarters
full then. A manager who was an enthusiast and a desperately hard
worker, with an occasional grant-in-aid from an artistically
disposed millionaire, and a due proportion of those rare and
happy accidents by which plays of the higher sort turn out to be
potboilers as well, could hold out for some years, by which time
a relay might arrive in the person of another enthusiast. Thus
and not otherwise occurred that remarkable revival of the British
drama at the beginning of the century which made my own career as
a playwright possible in England. In America I had already
established myself, not as part of the ordinary theatre system,
but in association with the exceptional genius of Richard
Mansfield. In Germany and Austria I had no difficulty: the system
of publicly aided theatres there, Court and Municipal, kept drama
of the kind I dealt in alive; so that I was indebted to the
Emperor of Austria for magnificent productions of my works at a
time when the sole official attention paid me by the British
Courts was the announcement to the English-speaking world that
certain plays of mine were unfit for public performance, a
substantial set-off against this being that the British Court, in
the course of its private playgoing, paid no regard to the bad
character given me by the chief officer of its household.

Howbeit, the fact that my plays effected a lodgment on the London
stage, and were presently followed by the plays of Granville
Barker, Gilbert Murray, John Masefield, St. John Hankin, Lawrence
Housman, Arnold Bennett, John Galsworthy, John Drinkwater, and
others which would in the nineteenth century have stood rather
less chance of production at a London theatre than the Dialogues
of Plato, not to mention revivals of the ancient Athenian drama
and a restoration to the stage of Shakespeare's plays as he wrote
them, was made economically possible solely by a supply of
theatres which could hold nearly twice as much money as it cost
to rent and maintain them. In such theatres work appealing to a
relatively small class of cultivated persons, and therefore
attracting only from half to three-quarters as many spectators as
the more popular pastimes, could nevertheless keep going in the
hands of young adventurers who were doing it for its own sake,
and had not yet been forced by advancing age and responsibilities
to consider the commercial value of their time and energy too
closely. The war struck this foundation away in the manner I have
just described. The expenses of running the cheapest west-end
theatres rose to a sum which exceeded by twenty-five per cent the
utmost that the higher drama can, as an ascertained matter of
fact, be depended on to draw. Thus the higher drama, which has
never really been a commercially sound speculation, now became an
impossible one. Accordingly, attempts are being made to provide a
refuge for it in suburban theatres in London and repertory
theatres in the provinces. But at the moment when the army has at
last disgorged the survivors of the gallant band of dramatic
pioneers whom it swallowed, they find that the economic
conditions which formerly made their work no worse than
precarious now put it out of the question altogether, as far as
the west end of London is concerned.

Church and Theatre

I do not suppose many people care particularly. We are not
brought up to care; and a sense of the national importance of the
theatre is not born in mankind: the natural man, like so many of
the soldiers at the beginning of the war, does not know what a
theatre is. But please note that all these soldiers who did not
know what a theatre was, knew what a church was. And they had
been taught to respect churches. Nobody had ever warned them
against a church as a place where frivolous women paraded in
their best clothes; where stories of improper females like
Potiphar's wife, and erotic poetry like the Song of Songs, were
read aloud; where the sensuous and sentimental music of Schubert,
Mendelssohn, Gounod, and Brahms was more popular than severe
music by greater composers; where the prettiest sort of pretty
pictures of pretty saints assailed the imagination and senses
through stained-glass windows; and where sculpture and
architecture came to the help of painting. Nobody ever reminded
them that these things had sometimes produced such developments
of erotic idolatry that men who were not only enthusiastic
amateurs of literature, painting, and music, but famous
practitioners of them, had actually exulted when mobs and even
regular troops under express command had mutilated church
statues, smashed church windows, wrecked church organs, and torn
up the sheets from which the church music was read and sung. When
they saw broken statues in churches, they were told that this was
the work of wicked, godless rioters, instead of, as it was, the
work partly of zealots bent on driving the world, the flesh, and
the devil out of the temple, and partly of insurgent men who had
become intolerably poor because the temple had become a den of
thieves. But all the sins and perversions that were so carefully
hidden from them in the history of the Church were laid on the
shoulders of the Theatre: that stuffy, uncomfortable place of
penance in which we suffer so much inconvenience on the
slenderest chance of gaining a scrap of food for our starving
souls. When the Germans bombed the Cathedral of Rheims the world
rang with the horror of the sacrilege. When they bombed the
Little Theatre in the Adelphi, and narrowly missed bombing two
writers of plays who lived within a few yards of it, the fact was
not even mentioned in the papers. In point of appeal to the
senses no theatre ever built could touch the fane at Rheims: no
actress could rival its Virgin in beauty, nor any operatic tenor
look otherwise than a fool beside its David. Its picture glass
was glorious even to those who had seen the glass of Chartres. It
was wonderful in its very grotesques: who would look at the
Blondin Donkey after seeing its leviathans? In spite of the
Adam-Adelphian decoration on which Miss Kingston had lavished so
much taste and care, the Little Theatre was in comparison with
Rheims the gloomiest of little conventicles: indeed the cathedral
must, from the Puritan point of view, have debauched a million
voluptuaries for every one whom the Little Theatre had sent home
thoughtful to a chaste bed after Mr Chesterton's Magic or
Brieux's Les Avaries. Perhaps that is the real reason why the
Church is lauded and the Theatre reviled. Whether or no, the fact
remains that the lady to whose public spirit and sense of the
national value of the theatre I owed the first regular public
performance of a play of mine had to conceal her action as if it
had been a crime, whereas if she had given the money to the
Church she would have worn a halo for it. And I admit, as I have
always done, that this state of things may have been a very
sensible one. I have asked Londoners again and again why they pay
half a guinea to go to a theatre when they can go to St. Paul's
or Westminster Abbey for nothing. Their only possible reply is
that they want to see something new and possibly something
wicked; but the theatres mostly disappoint both hopes. If ever a
revolution makes me Dictator, I shall establish a heavy charge
for admission to our churches. But everyone who pays at the
church door shall receive a ticket entitling him or her to free
admission to one performance at any theatre he or she prefers.
Thus shall the sensuous charms of the church service be made to
subsidize the sterner virtue of the drama.

The Next Phase

The present situation will not last. Although the newspaper I
read at breakfast this morning before writing these words
contains a calculation that no less than twenty-three wars are at
present being waged to confirm the peace, England is no longer in
khaki; and a violent reaction is setting in against the crude
theatrical fare of the four terrible years. Soon the rents of
theatres will once more be fixed on the assumption that they
cannot always be full, nor even on the average half full week in
and week out. Prices will change. The higher drama will be at no
greater disadvantage than it was before the war; and it may
benefit, first, by the fact that many of us have been torn from
the fools' paradise in which the theatre formerly traded, and
thrust upon the sternest realities and necessities until we have
lost both faith in and patience with the theatrical pretences
that had no root either in reality or necessity; second, by the
startling change made by the war in the distribution of income.
It seems only the other day that a millionaire was a man with
50,000 a year. To-day, when he has paid his income tax and super
tax, and insured his life for the amount of his death duties, he
is lucky if his net income is 10,000 pounds though his nominal
property remains the same. And this is the result of a Budget
which is called "a respite for the rich." At the other end of the
scale millions of persons have had regular incomes for the first
time in their lives; and their men have been regularly clothed,
fed, lodged, and taught to make up their minds that certain
things have to be done, also for the first time in their lives.
Hundreds of thousands of women have been taken out of their
domestic cages and tasted both discipline and independence. The
thoughtless and snobbish middle classes have been pulled up short
by the very unpleasant experience of being ruined to an
unprecedented extent. We have all had a tremendous jolt; and
although the widespread notion that the shock of the war would
automatically make a new heaven and a new earth, and that the dog
would never go back to his vomit nor the sow to her wallowing in
the mire, is already seen to be a delusion, yet we are far more
conscious of our condition than we were, and far less disposed to
submit to it. Revolution, lately only a sensational chapter in
history or a demagogic claptrap, is now a possibility so imminent
that hardly by trying to suppress it in other countries by arms
and defamation, and calling the process anti-Bolshevism, can our
Government stave it off at home.

Perhaps the most tragic figure of the day is the American
President who was once a historian. In those days it became his
task to tell us how, after that great war in America which was
more clearly than any other war of our time a war for an idea,
the conquerors, confronted with a heroic task of reconstruction,
turned recreant, and spent fifteen years in abusing their victory
under cover of pretending to accomplish the task they were doing
what they could to make impossible. Alas! Hegel was right when he
said that we learn from history that men never learn anything
from history. With what anguish of mind the President sees that
we, the new conquerors, forgetting everything we professed to
fight for, are sitting down with watering mouths to a good square
meal of ten years revenge upon and humiliation of our prostrate
foe, can only be guessed by those who know, as he does, how
hopeless is remonstrance, and how happy Lincoln was in perishing
from the earth before his inspired messages became scraps of
paper. He knows well that from the Peace Conference will come, in
spite of his utmost, no edict on which he will be able, like
Lincoln, to invoke "the considerate judgment of mankind: and the
gracious favor of Almighty God." He led his people to destroy the
militarism of Zabern; and the army they rescued is busy in
Cologne imprisoning every German who does not salute a British
officer; whilst the government at home, asked whether it
approves, replies that it does not propose even to discontinue
this Zabernism when the Peace is concluded, but in effect looks
forward to making Germans salute British officers until the end
of the world. That is what war makes of men and women. It will
wear off; and the worst it threatens is already proving
impracticable; but before the humble and contrite heart ceases to
be despised, the President and I, being of the same age, will be
dotards. In the meantime there is, for him, another history to
write; for me, another comedy to stage. Perhaps, after all, that
is what wars are for, and what historians and playwrights are
for. If men will not learn until their lessons are written in
blood, why, blood they must have, their own for preference.

The Ephemeral Thrones and the Eternal Theatre

To the theatre it will not matter. Whatever Bastilles fall, the
theatre will stand. Apostolic Hapsburg has collapsed; All Highest
Hohenzollern languishes in Holland, threatened with trial on a
capital charge of fighting for his country against England;
Imperial Romanoff, said to have perished miserably by a more
summary method of murder, is perhaps alive or perhaps dead:
nobody cares more than if he had been a peasant; the lord of
Hellas is level with his lackeys in republican Switzerland; Prime
Ministers and Commanders-in-Chief have passed from a brief glory
as Solons and Caesars into failure and obscurity as closely on
one another's heels as the descendants of Banquo; but Euripides
and Aristophanes, Shakespeare and Moliere, Goethe and Ibsen
remain fixed in their everlasting seats.

How War muzzles the Dramatic Poet

As for myself, why, it may be asked, did I not write two plays
about the war instead of two pamphlets on it? The answer is
significant. You cannot make war on war and on your neighbor at
the same time. War cannot bear the terrible castigation of
comedy, the ruthless light of laughter that glares on the stage.
When men are heroically dying for their country, it is not the
time to show their lovers and wives and fathers and mothers how
they are being sacrificed to the blunders of boobies, the
cupidity of capitalists, the ambition of conquerors, the
electioneering of demagogues, the Pharisaism of patriots, the
lusts and lies and rancors and bloodthirsts that love war because
it opens their prison doors, and sets them in the thrones of
power and popularity. For unless these things are mercilessly
exposed they will hide under the mantle of the ideals on the
stage just as they do in real life.

And though there may be better things to reveal, it may not, and
indeed cannot, be militarily expedient to reveal them whilst the
issue is still in the balance. Truth telling is not compatible
with the defence of the realm. We are just now reading the
revelations of our generals and admirals, unmuzzled at last by
the armistice. During the war, General A, in his moving
despatches from the field, told how General B had covered himself
with deathless glory in such and such a battle. He now tells us
that General B came within an ace of losing us the war by
disobeying his orders on that occasion, and fighting instead of
running away as he ought to have done. An excellent subject for
comedy now that the war is over, no doubt; but if General A had
let this out at the time, what would have been the effect on
General B's soldiers? And had the stage made known what the Prime
Minister and the Secretary of State for War who overruled General
A thought of him, and what he thought of them, as now revealed in
raging controversy, what would have been the effect on the
nation? That is why comedy, though sorely tempted, had to be
loyally silent; for the art of the dramatic poet knows no
patriotism; recognizes no obligation but truth to natural
history; cares not whether Germany or England perish; is ready to
cry with Brynhild, "Lass'uns verderben, lachend zu grunde geh'n"
sooner than deceive or be deceived; and thus becomes in time of
war a greater military danger than poison, steel, or
trinitrotoluene. That is why I had to withhold Heartbreak House
from the footlights during the war; for the Germans might on any
night have turned the last act from play into earnest, and even
then might not have waited for their cues.

June, 1919.



The hilly country in the middle of the north edge of Sussex,
looking very pleasant on a fine evening at the end of September,
is seen through the windows of a room which has been built so as
to resemble the after part of an old-fashioned high-pooped ship,
with a stern gallery; for the windows are ship built with heavy
timbering, and run right across the room as continuously as the
stability of the wall allows. A row of lockers under the windows
provides an unupholstered windowseat interrupted by twin glass
doors, respectively halfway between the stern post and the sides.
Another door strains the illusion a little by being apparently in
the ship's port side, and yet leading, not to the open sea, but
to the entrance hall of the house. Between this door and the
stern gallery are bookshelves. There are electric light switches
beside the door leading to the hall and the glass doors in the
stern gallery. Against the starboard wall is a carpenter's bench.
The vice has a board in its jaws; and the floor is littered with
shavings, overflowing from a waste-paper basket. A couple of
planes and a centrebit are on the bench. In the same wall,
between the bench and the windows, is a narrow doorway with a
half door, above which a glimpse of the room beyond shows that it
is a shelved pantry with bottles and kitchen crockery.

On the starboard side, but close to the middle, is a plain oak
drawing-table with drawing-board, T-square, straightedges, set
squares, mathematical instruments, saucers of water color, a
tumbler of discolored water, Indian ink, pencils, and brushes on
it. The drawing-board is set so that the draughtsman's chair has
the window on its left hand. On the floor at the end of the
table, on its right, is a ship's fire bucket. On the port side of
the room, near the bookshelves, is a sofa with its back to the
windows. It is a sturdy mahogany article, oddly upholstered in
sailcloth, including the bolster, with a couple of blankets
hanging over the back. Between the sofa and the drawing-table is
a big wicker chair, with broad arms and a low sloping back, with
its back to the light. A small but stout table of teak, with a
round top and gate legs, stands against the port wall between the
door and the bookcase. It is the only article in the room that
suggests (not at all convincingly) a woman's hand in the
furnishing. The uncarpeted floor of narrow boards is caulked and
holystoned like a deck.

The garden to which the glass doors lead dips to the south before
the landscape rises again to the hills. Emerging from the hollow
is the cupola of an observatory. Between the observatory and the
house is a flagstaff on a little esplanade, with a hammock on the
east side and a long garden seat on the west.

A young lady, gloved and hatted, with a dust coat on, is sitting
in the window-seat with her body twisted to enable her to look
out at the view. One hand props her chin: the other hangs down
with a volume of the Temple Shakespeare in it, and her finger
stuck in the page she has been reading.

A clock strikes six.

The young lady turns and looks at her watch. She rises with an
air of one who waits, and is almost at the end of her patience.
She is a pretty girl, slender, fair, and intelligent looking,
nicely but not expensively dressed, evidently not a smart idler.

With a sigh of weary resignation she comes to the draughtsman's
chair; sits down; and begins to read Shakespeare. Presently the
book sinks to her lap; her eyes close; and she dozes into a

An elderly womanservant comes in from the hall with three
unopened bottles of rum on a tray. She passes through and
disappears in the pantry without noticing the young lady. She
places the bottles on the shelf and fills her tray with empty
bottles. As she returns with these, the young lady lets her book
drop, awakening herself, and startling the womanservant so that
she all but lets the tray fall.

THE WOMANSERVANT. God bless us! [The young lady picks up the book
and places it on the table]. Sorry to wake you, miss, I'm sure;
but you are a stranger to me. What might you be waiting here for

THE YOUNG LADY. Waiting for somebody to show some signs of
knowing that I have been invited here.

THE WOMANSERVANT. Oh, you're invited, are you? And has nobody
come? Dear! dear!

THE YOUNG LADY. A wild-looking old gentleman came and looked in
at the window; and I heard him calling out, "Nurse, there is a
young and attractive female waiting in the poop. Go and see what
she wants." Are you the nurse?

THE WOMANSERVANT. Yes, miss: I'm Nurse Guinness. That was old
Captain Shotover, Mrs Hushabye's father. I heard him roaring; but
I thought it was for something else. I suppose it was Mrs
Hushabye that invited you, ducky?

THE YOUNG LADY. I understood her to do so. But really I think I'd
better go.

NURSE GUINNESS. Oh, don't think of such a thing, miss. If Mrs
Hushabye has forgotten all about it, it will be a pleasant
surprise for her to see you, won't it?

THE YOUNG LADY. It has been a very unpleasant surprise to me to
find that nobody expects me.

NURSE GUINNESS. You'll get used to it, miss: this house is full
of surprises for them that don't know our ways.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [looking in from the hall suddenly: an ancient
but still hardy man with an immense white beard, in a reefer
jacket with a whistle hanging from his neck]. Nurse, there is a
hold-all and a handbag on the front steps for everybody to fall
over. Also a tennis racquet. Who the devil left them there?

THE YOUNG LADY. They are mine, I'm afraid.

TAE CAPTAIN [advancing to the drawing-table]. Nurse, who is this
misguided and unfortunate young lady?

NURSE GUINNESS. She says Miss Hessy invited her, sir.

THE CAPTAIN. And had she no friend, no parents, to warn her
against my daughter's invitations? This is a pretty sort of
house, by heavens! A young and attractive lady is invited here.
Her luggage is left on the steps for hours; and she herself is
deposited in the poop and abandoned, tired and starving. This is
our hospitality. These are our manners. No room ready. No hot
water. No welcoming hostess. Our visitor is to sleep in the
toolshed, and to wash in the duckpond.

NURSE GUINNESS. Now it's all right, Captain: I'll get the lady
some tea; and her room shall be ready before she has finished it.
[To the young lady]. Take off your hat, ducky; and make yourself
at home [she goes to the door leading to the hall].

THE CAPTAIN [as she passes him]. Ducky! Do you suppose, woman,
that because this young lady has been insulted and neglected, you
have the right to address her as you address my wretched
children, whom you have brought up in ignorance of the commonest
decencies of social intercourse?

NURSE GUINNESS. Never mind him, doty. [Quite unconcerned, she
goes out into the hall on her way to the kitchen].

THE CAPTAIN. Madam, will you favor me with your name? [He sits
down in the big wicker chair].

THE YOUNG LADY. My name is Ellie Dunn.

THE CAPTAIN. Dunn! I had a boatswain whose name was Dunn. He was
originally a pirate in China. He set up as a ship's chandler with
stores which I have every reason to believe he stole from me. No
doubt he became rich. Are you his daughter?

ELLIE [indignant]. No, certainly not. I am proud to be able to
say that though my father has not been a successful man, nobody
has ever had one word to say against him. I think my father is
the best man I have ever known.

THE CAPTAIN. He must be greatly changed. Has he attained the
seventh degree of concentration?

ELLIE. I don't understand.

THE CAPTAIN. But how could he, with a daughter? I, madam, have
two daughters. One of them is Hesione Hushabye, who invited you
here. I keep this house: she upsets it. I desire to attain the
seventh degree of concentration: she invites visitors and leaves
me to entertain them. [Nurse Guinness returns with the tea-tray,
which she places on the teak table]. I have a second daughter who
is, thank God, in a remote part of the Empire with her numskull
of a husband. As a child she thought the figure-head of my ship,
the Dauntless, the most beautiful thing on earth. He resembled
it. He had the same expression: wooden yet enterprising. She
married him, and will never set foot in this house again.

NURSE GUINNESS [carrying the table, with the tea-things on it, to
Ellie's side]. Indeed you never were more mistaken. She is in
England this very moment. You have been told three times this
week that she is coming home for a year for her health. And very
glad you should be to see your own daughter again after all these

THE CAPTAIN. I am not glad. The natural term of the affection of
the human animal for its offspring is six years. My daughter
Ariadne was born when I was forty-six. I am now eighty-eight. If
she comes, I am not at home. If she wants anything, let her take
it. If she asks for me, let her be informed that I am extremely
old, and have totally forgotten her.

NURSE GUINNESS. That's no talk to offer to a young lady. Here,
ducky, have some tea; and don't listen to him [she pours out a
cup of tea].

THE CAPTAIN [rising wrathfully]. Now before high heaven they have
given this innocent child Indian tea: the stuff they tan their
own leather insides with. [He seizes the cup and the tea-pot and
empties both into the leathern bucket].

ELLIE [almost in tears]. Oh, please! I am so tired. I should have
been glad of anything.

NURSE GUINNESS. Oh, what a thing to do! The poor lamb is ready to

THE CAPTAIN. You shall have some of my tea. Do not touch that
fly-blown cake: nobody eats it here except the dogs. [He
disappears into the pantry].

NURSE GUINNESS. There's a man for you! They say he sold himself
to the devil in Zanzibar before he was a captain; and the older
he grows the more I believe them.

A WOMAN'S VOICE [in the hall]. Is anyone at home? Hesione! Nurse!
Papa! Do come, somebody; and take in my luggage.

Thumping heard, as of an umbrella, on the wainscot.

NURSE GUINNESS. My gracious! It's Miss Addy, Lady Utterword, Mrs
Hushabye's sister: the one I told the captain about. [Calling].
Coming, Miss, coming.

She carries the table back to its place by the door and is
harrying out when she is intercepted by Lady Utterword, who
bursts in much flustered. Lady Utterword, a blonde, is very
handsome, very well dressed, and so precipitate in speech and
action that the first impression (erroneous) is one of comic

LADY UTTERWORD. Oh, is that you, Nurse? How are you? You don't
look a day older. Is nobody at home? Where is Hesione? Doesn't
she expect me? Where are the servants? Whose luggage is that on
the steps? Where's papa? Is everybody asleep? [Seeing Ellie]. Oh!
I beg your pardon. I suppose you are one of my nieces.
[Approaching her with outstretched arms]. Come and kiss your
aunt, darling.

ELLIE. I'm only a visitor. It is my luggage on the steps.

NURSE GUINNESS. I'll go get you some fresh tea, ducky. [She takes
up the tray].

ELLIE. But the old gentleman said he would make some himself.

NURSE GUINNESS. Bless you! he's forgotten what he went for
already. His mind wanders from one thing to another.

LADY UTTERWORD. Papa, I suppose?


LADY UTTERWORD [vehemently]. Don't be silly, Nurse. Don't call me

NURSE GUINNESS [placidly]. No, lovey [she goes out with the

LADY UTTERWORD [sitting down with a flounce on the sofa]. I know
what you must feel. Oh, this house, this house! I come back to it
after twenty-three years; and it is just the same: the luggage
lying on the steps, the servants spoilt and impossible, nobody at
home to receive anybody, no regular meals, nobody ever hungry
because they are always gnawing bread and butter or munching
apples, and, what is worse, the same disorder in ideas, in talk,
in feeling. When I was a child I was used to it: I had never
known anything better, though I was unhappy, and longed all the
time--oh, how I longed!--to be respectable, to be a lady, to live
as others did, not to have to think of everything for myself. I
married at nineteen to escape from it. My husband is Sir Hastings
Utterword, who has been governor of all the crown colonies in
succession. I have always been the mistress of Government House.
I have been so happy: I had forgotten that people could live like
this. I wanted to see my father, my sister, my nephews and nieces
(one ought to, you know), and I was looking forward to it. And
now the state of the house! the way I'm received! the casual
impudence of that woman Guinness, our old nurse! really Hesione
might at least have been here: some preparation might have been
made for me. You must excuse my going on in this way; but I am
really very much hurt and annoyed and disillusioned: and if I had
realized it was to be like this, I wouldn't have come. I have a
great mind to go away without another word [she is on the point
of weeping].

ELLIE [also very miserable]. Nobody has been here to receive me
either. I thought I ought to go away too. But how can I, Lady
Utterword? My luggage is on the steps; and the station fly has

The captain emerges from the pantry with a tray of Chinese
lacquer and a very fine tea-set on it. He rests it provisionally
on the end of the table; snatches away the drawing-board, which
he stands on the floor against table legs; and puts the tray in
the space thus cleared. Ellie pours out a cup greedily.

THE CAPTAIN. Your tea, young lady. What! another lady! I must
fetch another cup [he makes for the pantry].

LADY UTTERWORD [rising from the sofa, suffused with emotion].
Papa! Don't you know me? I'm your daughter.

THE CAPTAIN. Nonsense! my daughter's upstairs asleep. [He
vanishes through the half door].

Lady Utterword retires to the window to conceal her tears.

ELLIE [going to her with the cup]. Don't be so distressed. Have
this cup of tea. He is very old and very strange: he has been
just like that to me. I know how dreadful it must be: my own
father is all the world to me. Oh, I'm sure he didn't mean it.

The captain returns with another cup.

THE CAPTAIN. Now we are complete. [He places it on the tray].

LADY UTTERWORD [hysterically]. Papa, you can't have forgotten me.
I am Ariadne. I'm little Paddy Patkins. Won't you kiss me? [She
goes to him and throws her arms round his neck].

THE CAPTAIN [woodenly enduring her embrace]. How can you be
Ariadne? You are a middle-aged woman: well preserved, madam, but
no longer young.

LADY UTTERWORD. But think of all the years and years I have been
away, Papa. I have had to grow old, like other people.

THE CAPTAIN [disengaging himself]. You should grow out of kissing
strange men: they may be striving to attain the seventh degree of

LADY UTTERWORD. But I'm your daughter. You haven't seen me for

THE CAPTAIN. So much the worse! When our relatives are at home,
we have to think of all their good points or it would be
impossible to endure them. But when they are away, we console
ourselves for their absence by dwelling on their vices. That is
how I have come to think my absent daughter Ariadne a perfect
fiend; so do not try to ingratiate yourself here by impersonating
her [he walks firmly away to the other side of the room].

LADY UTTERWORD. Ingratiating myself indeed! [With dignity]. Very
well, papa. [She sits down at the drawing-table and pours out tea
for herself].

THE CAPTAIN. I am neglecting my social duties. You remember Dunn?
Billy Dunn?

LADY UTTERWORD. DO you mean that villainous sailor who robbed

THE CAPTAIN [introducing Ellie]. His daughter. [He sits down on
the sofa].

ELLIE [protesting]. No--

Nurse Guinness returns with fresh tea.

THE CAPTAIN. Take that hogwash away. Do you hear?

NURSE. You've actually remembered about the tea! [To Ellie]. Oh,
miss, he didn't forget you after all! You HAVE made an

THE CAPTAIN [gloomily]. Youth! beauty! novelty! They are badly
wanted in this house. I am excessively old. Hesione is only
moderately young. Her children are not youthful.

LADY UTTERWORD. How can children be expected to be youthful in
this house? Almost before we could speak we were filled with
notions that might have been all very well for pagan philosophers
of fifty, but were certainly quite unfit for respectable people
of any age.

NURSE. You were always for respectability, Miss Addy.

LADY UTTERWORD. Nurse, will you please remember that I am Lady
Utterword, and not Miss Addy, nor lovey, nor darling, nor doty?
Do you hear?

NURSE. Yes, ducky: all right. I'll tell them all they must call
you My Lady. [She takes her tray out with undisturbed placidity].

LADY UTTERWORD. What comfort? what sense is there in having
servants with no manners?

ELLIE [rising and coming to the table to put down her empty cup].
Lady Utterword, do you think Mrs Hushabye really expects me?

LADY UTTERWORD. Oh, don't ask me. You can see for yourself that
I've just arrived; her only sister, after twenty-three years'
absence! and it seems that I am not expected.

THE CAPTAIN. What does it matter whether the young lady is
expected or not? She is welcome. There are beds: there is food.
I'll find a room for her myself [he makes for the door].

ELLIE [following him to stop him]. Oh, please--[He goes out].
Lady Utterword, I don't know what to do. Your father persists in
believing that my father is some sailor who robbed him.

LADY UTTERWORD. You had better pretend not to notice it. My
father is a very clever man; but he always forgot things; and now
that he is old, of course he is worse. And I must warn you that
it is sometimes very hard to feel quite sure that he really

Mrs Hushabye bursts into the room tempestuously and embraces
Ellie. She is a couple of years older than Lady Utterword, and
even better looking. She has magnificent black hair, eyes like
the fishpools of Heshbon, and a nobly modelled neck, short at the
back and low between her shoulders in front. Unlike her sister
she is uncorseted and dressed anyhow in a rich robe of black pile
that shows off her white skin and statuesque contour.

MRS HUSHABYE. Ellie, my darling, my pettikins [kissing her], how
long have you been here? I've been at home all the time: I was
putting flowers and things in your room; and when I just sat down
for a moment to try how comfortable the armchair was I went off
to sleep. Papa woke me and told me you were here. Fancy your
finding no one, and being neglected and abandoned. [Kissing her
again]. My poor love! [She deposits Ellie on the sofa. Meanwhile
Ariadne has left the table and come over to claim her share of
attention]. Oh! you've brought someone with you. Introduce me.

LADY UTTERWORD. Hesione, is it possible that you don't know me?

MRS HUSHABYE [conventionally]. Of course I remember your face
quite well. Where have we met?

LADY UTTERWORD. Didn't Papa tell you I was here? Oh! this is
really too much. [She throws herself sulkily into the big chair].


LADY UTTERWORD. Yes, Papa. Our papa, you unfeeling wretch!
[Rising angrily]. I'll go straight to a hotel.

MRS HUSHABYE [seizing her by the shoulders]. My goodness gracious
goodness, you don't mean to say that you're Addy!

LADY UTTERWORD. I certainly am Addy; and I don't think I can be
so changed that you would not have recognized me if you had any
real affection for me. And Papa didn't think me even worth

MRS HUSHABYE. What a lark! Sit down [she pushes her back into the
chair instead of kissing her, and posts herself behind it]. You
DO look a swell. You're much handsomer than you used to be.
You've made the acquaintance of Ellie, of course. She is going to
marry a perfect hog of a millionaire for the sake of her father,
who is as poor as a church mouse; and you must help me to stop

ELLIE. Oh, please, Hesione!

MRS HUSHABYE. My pettikins, the man's coming here today with your
father to begin persecuting you; and everybody will see the state
of the case in ten minutes; so what's the use of making a secret
of it?

ELLIE. He is not a hog, Hesione. You don't know how wonderfully
good he was to my father, and how deeply grateful I am to him.

MRS HUSHABYE [to Lady Utterword]. Her father is a very remarkable
man, Addy. His name is Mazzini Dunn. Mazzini was a celebrity of
some kind who knew Ellie's grandparents. They were both poets,
like the Brownings; and when her father came into the world
Mazzini said, "Another soldier born for freedom!" So they
christened him Mazzini; and he has been fighting for freedom in
his quiet way ever since. That's why he is so poor.

ELLIE. I am proud of his poverty.

MRS HUSHABYE. Of course you are, pettikins. Why not leave him in
it, and marry someone you love?

LADY UTTERWORD [rising suddenly and explosively]. Hesione, are
you going to kiss me or are you not?

MRS HUSHABYE. What do you want to be kissed for?

LADY UTTERWORD. I DON'T want to be kissed; but I do want you to
behave properly and decently. We are sisters. We have been
separated for twenty-three years. You OUGHT to kiss me.

MRS HUSHABYE. To-morrow morning, dear, before you make up. I hate
the smell of powder.

LADY UTTERWORD. Oh! you unfeeling--[she is interrupted by the
return of the captain].

THE CAPTAIN [to Ellie]. Your room is ready. [Ellie rises]. The
sheets were damp; but I have changed them [he makes for the
garden door on the port side].

LADY UTTERWORD. Oh! What about my sheets?

THE CAPTAIN [halting at the door]. Take my advice: air them: or
take them off and sleep in blankets. You shall sleep in Ariadne's
old room.

LADY UTTERWORD. Indeed I shall do nothing of the sort. That
little hole! I am entitled to the best spare room.

THE CAPTAIN [continuing unmoved]. She married a numskull. She
told me she would marry anyone to get away from home.

LADT UTTERWORD. You are pretending not to know me on purpose. I
will leave the house.

Mazzini Dunn enters from the hall. He is a little elderly man
with bulging credulous eyes and earnest manners. He is dressed in
a blue serge jacket suit with an unbuttoned mackintosh over it,
and carries a soft black hat of clerical cut.

ELLIE. At last! Captain Shotover, here is my father.

THE CAPTAIN. This! Nonsense! not a bit like him [he goes away
through the garden, shutting the door sharply behind him].

LADY UTTERWORD. I will not be ignored and pretended to be
somebody else. I will have it out with Papa now, this instant.
[To Mazzini]. Excuse me. [She follows the captain out, making a
hasty bow to Mazzini, who returns it].

MRS HUSHABYE [hospitably shaking hands]. How good of you to come,
Mr Dunn! You don't mind Papa, do you? He is as mad as a hatter,
you know, but quite harmless and extremely clever. You will have
some delightful talks with him.

MAZZINI. I hope so. [To Ellie]. So here you are, Ellie, dear. [He
draws her arm affectionately through his]. I must thank you, Mrs
Hushabye, for your kindness to my daughter. I'm afraid she would
have had no holiday if you had not invited her.

MRS HUSHABYE. Not at all. Very nice of her to come and attract
young people to the house for us.

MAZZINI [smiling]. I'm afraid Ellie is not interested in young
men, Mrs Hushabye. Her taste is on the graver, solider side.

MRS HUSHABYE [with a sudden rather hard brightness in her
manner]. Won't you take off your overcoat, Mr Dunn? You will find
a cupboard for coats and hats and things in the corner of the

MAZZINI [hastily releasing Ellie]. Yes--thank you--I had better--
[he goes out].

MRS HUSHABYE [emphatically]. The old brute!


MRS HUSHABYE. Who! Him. He. It [pointing after Mazzini]. "Graver,
solider tastes," indeed!

ELLIE [aghast]. You don't mean that you were speaking like that
of my father!

MRS HUSHABYE. I was. You know I was.

ELLIE [with dignity]. I will leave your house at once. [She turns
to the door].

MRS HUSHABYE. If you attempt it, I'll tell your father why.

ELLIE [turning again]. Oh! How can you treat a visitor like this,
Mrs Hushabye?

MRS HUSHABYE. I thought you were going to call me Hesione.

ELLIE. Certainly not now?

MRS HUSHABYE. Very well: I'll tell your father.

ELLIE [distressed]. Oh!

MRS HUSHABYE. If you turn a hair--if you take his part against me
and against your own heart for a moment, I'll give that born
soldier of freedom a piece of my mind that will stand him on his
selfish old head for a week.

ELLIE. Hesione! My father selfish! How little you know--

She is interrupted by Mazzini, who returns, excited and

MAZZINI. Ellie, Mangan has come: I thought you'd like to know.
Excuse me, Mrs Hushabye, the strange old gentleman--

MRS HUSHABYE. Papa. Quite so.

MAZZINI. Oh, I beg your pardon, of course: I was a little
confused by his manner. He is making Mangan help him with
something in the garden; and he wants me too--

A powerful whistle is heard.

THE CAPTAIN'S VOICE. Bosun ahoy! [the whistle is repeated].

MAZZINI [flustered]. Oh dear! I believe he is whistling for me.
[He hurries out].

MRS HUSHABYE. Now MY father is a wonderful man if you like.

ELLIE. Hesione, listen to me. You don't understand. My father and
Mr Mangan were boys together. Mr Ma--

MRS HUSHABYE. I don't care what they were: we must sit down if
you are going to begin as far back as that. [She snatches at
Ellie's waist, and makes her sit down on the sofa beside her].
Now, pettikins, tell me all about Mr Mangan. They call him Boss
Mangan, don't they? He is a Napoleon of industry and disgustingly
rich, isn't he? Why isn't your father rich?

ELLIE. My poor father should never have been in business. His
parents were poets; and they gave him the noblest ideas; but they
could not afford to give him a profession.

MRS HUSHABYE. Fancy your grandparents, with their eyes in fine
frenzy rolling! And so your poor father had to go into business.
Hasn't he succeeded in it?

ELLIE. He always used to say he could succeed if he only had some
capital. He fought his way along, to keep a roof over our heads
and bring us up well; but it was always a struggle: always the
same difficulty of not having capital enough. I don't know how to
describe it to you.

MRS HUSHABYE. Poor Ellie! I know. Pulling the devil by the tail.

ELLIE [hurt]. Oh, no. Not like that. It was at least dignified.

MRS HUSHABYE. That made it all the harder, didn't it? I shouldn't
have pulled the devil by the tail with dignity. I should have
pulled hard--[between her teeth] hard. Well? Go on.

ELLIE. At last it seemed that all our troubles were at an end. Mr
Mangan did an extraordinarily noble thing out of pure friendship
for my father and respect for his character. He asked him how
much capital he wanted, and gave it to him. I don't mean that he
lent it to him, or that he invested it in his business. He just
simply made him a present of it. Wasn't that splendid of him?

MRS HUSHABYE. On condition that you married him?

ELLIE. Oh, no, no, no! This was when I was a child. He had never
even seen me: he never came to our house. It was absolutely
disinterested. Pure generosity.

MRS HUSHABYE. Oh! I beg the gentleman's pardon. Well, what became
of the money?

ELLIE. We all got new clothes and moved into another house. And I
went to another school for two years.

MRS HUSHABYE. Only two years?

ELLIE. That was all: for at the end of two years my father was
utterly ruined.


ELLIE. I don't know. I never could understand. But it was
dreadful. When we were poor my father had never been in debt. But
when he launched out into business on a large scale, he had to
incur liabilities. When the business went into liquidation he
owed more money than Mr Mangan had given him.

MRS HUSHABYE. Bit off more than he could chew, I suppose.

ELLIE. I think you are a little unfeeling about it.

MRS HUSHABYE. My pettikins, you mustn't mind my way of talking. I
was quite as sensitive and particular as you once; but I have
picked up so much slang from the children that I am really hardly
presentable. I suppose your father had no head for business, and
made a mess of it.

ELLIE. Oh, that just shows how entirely you are mistaken about
him. The business turned out a great success. It now pays
forty-four per cent after deducting the excess profits tax.

MRS HUSHABYE. Then why aren't you rolling in money?

ELLIE. I don't know. It seems very unfair to me. You see, my
father was made bankrupt. It nearly broke his heart, because he
had persuaded several of his friends to put money into the
business. He was sure it would succeed; and events proved that he
was quite right. But they all lost their money. It was dreadful.
I don't know what we should have done but for Mr Mangan.

MRS HUSHABYE. What! Did the Boss come to the rescue again, after
all his money being thrown away?

ELLIE. He did indeed, and never uttered a reproach to my father.
He bought what was left of the business--the buildings and the
machinery and things--from the official trustee for enough money
to enable my father to pay six-and-eight-pence in the pound and
get his discharge. Everyone pitied Papa so much, and saw so
plainly that he was an honorable man, that they let him off at
six-and-eight-pence instead of ten shillings. Then Mr. Mangan
started a company to take up the business, and made my father a
manager in it to save us from starvation; for I wasn't earning
anything then.

MRS. HUSHABYE. Quite a romance. And when did the Boss develop the
tender passion?

ELLIE. Oh, that was years after, quite lately. He took the chair
one night at a sort of people's concert. I was singing there. As
an amateur, you know: half a guinea for expenses and three songs
with three encores. He was so pleased with my singing that he
asked might he walk home with me. I never saw anyone so taken
aback as he was when I took him home and introduced him to my
father, his own manager. It was then that my father told me how
nobly he had behaved. Of course it was considered a great chance
for me, as he is so rich. And--and--we drifted into a sort of
understanding--I suppose I should call it an engagement--[she is
distressed and cannot go on].

MRS HUSHABYE [rising and marching about]. You may have drifted
into it; but you will bounce out of it, my pettikins, if I am to
have anything to do with it.

ELLIE [hopelessly]. No: it's no use. I am bound in honor and
gratitude. I will go through with it.

MRS HUSHABYE [behind the sofa, scolding down at her]. You know,
of course, that it's not honorable or grateful to marry a man you
don't love. Do you love this Mangan man?

ELLIE. Yes. At least--

MRS HUSHABYE. I don't want to know about "at least": I want to
know the worst. Girls of your age fall in love with all sorts of
impossible people, especially old people.

ELLIE. I like Mr Mangan very much; and I shall always be--

MRS HUSHABYE [impatiently completing the sentence and prancing
away intolerantly to starboard]. --grateful to him for his
kindness to dear father. I know. Anybody else?

ELLIE. What do you mean?

MRS HUSHABYE. Anybody else? Are you in love with anybody else?

ELLIE. Of course not.

MRS HUSHABYE. Humph! [The book on the drawing-table catches her
eye. She picks it up, and evidently finds the title very
unexpected. She looks at Ellie, and asks, quaintly] Quite sure
you're not in love with an actor?

ELLIE. No, no. Why? What put such a thing into your head?

MRS HUSHABYE. This is yours, isn't it? Why else should you be
reading Othello?

ELLIE. My father taught me to love Shakespeare.

MRS HUSHAYE [flinging the book down on the table]. Really! your
father does seem to be about the limit.

ELLIE [naively]. Do you never read Shakespeare, Hesione? That
seems to me so extraordinary. I like Othello.

MRS HUSHABYE. Do you, indeed? He was jealous, wasn't he?

ELLIE. Oh, not that. I think all the part about jealousy is
horrible. But don't you think it must have been a wonderful
experience for Desdemona, brought up so quietly at home, to meet
a man who had been out in the world doing all sorts of brave
things and having terrible adventures, and yet finding something
in her that made him love to sit and talk with her and tell her
about them?

MRS HUSHABYE. That's your idea of romance, is it?

ELLIE. Not romance, exactly. It might really happen.

Ellie's eyes show that she is not arguing, but in a daydream. Mrs
Hushabye, watching her inquisitively, goes deliberately back to
the sofa and resumes her seat beside her.

MRS HUSHABYE. Ellie darling, have you noticed that some of those
stories that Othello told Desdemona couldn't have happened--?

ELLIE. Oh, no. Shakespeare thought they could have happened.

MRS HUSHABYE. Hm! Desdemona thought they could have happened. But
they didn't.

ELLIE. Why do you look so enigmatic about it? You are such a
sphinx: I never know what you mean.

MRS HUSHABYE. Desdemona would have found him out if she had
lived, you know. I wonder was that why he strangled her!

ELLIE. Othello was not telling lies.

MRS HUSHABYE. How do you know?

ELLIE. Shakespeare would have said if he was. Hesione, there are
men who have done wonderful things: men like Othello, only, of
course, white, and very handsome, and--

MRS HUSHABYE. Ah! Now we're coming to it. Tell me all about him.
I knew there must be somebody, or you'd never have been so
miserable about Mangan: you'd have thought it quite a lark to
marry him.

ELLIE [blushing vividly]. Hesione, you are dreadful. But I don't
want to make a secret of it, though of course I don't tell
everybody. Besides, I don't know him.

MRS HUSHABYE. Don't know him! What does that mean?

ELLIE. Well, of course I know him to speak to.

MRS HUSHABYE. But you want to know him ever so much more
intimately, eh?

ELLIE. No, no: I know him quite--almost intimately.

MRS HUSHABYE. You don't know him; and you know him almost
intimately. How lucid!

ELLIE. I mean that he does not call on us. I--I got into
conversation with him by chance at a concert.

MRS HUSHABYE. You seem to have rather a gay time at your
concerts, Ellie.

ELLIE. Not at all: we talk to everyone in the greenroom waiting
for our turns. I thought he was one of the artists: he looked so
splendid. But he was only one of the committee. I happened to
tell him that I was copying a picture at the National Gallery. I
make a little money that way. I can't paint much; but as it's
always the same picture I can do it pretty quickly and get two or
three pounds for it. It happened that he came to the National
Gallery one day.

MRS HUSHABYE. One students' day. Paid sixpence to stumble about
through a crowd of easels, when he might have come in next day
for nothing and found the floor clear! Quite by accident?

ELLIE [triumphantly]. No. On purpose. He liked talking to me. He
knows lots of the most splendid people. Fashionable women who are
all in love with him. But he ran away from them to see me at the
National Gallery and persuade me to come with him for a drive
round Richmond Park in a taxi.

MRS HUSHABYE. My pettikins, you have been going it. It's
wonderful what you good girls can do without anyone saying a

ELLIE. I am not in society, Hesione. If I didn't make
acquaintances in that way I shouldn't have any at all.

MRS HUSHABYE. Well, no harm if you know how to take care of
yourself. May I ask his name?

ELLIE [slowly and musically]. Marcus Darnley.

MRS HUSHABYE [echoing the music]. Marcus Darnley! What a splendid

ELLIE. Oh, I'm so glad you think so. I think so too; but I was
afraid it was only a silly fancy of my own.

MRS HUSHABYE. Hm! Is he one of the Aberdeen Darnleys?

ELLIE. Nobody knows. Just fancy! He was found in an antique


ELLIE. An antique chest, one summer morning in a rose garden,
after a night of the most terrible thunderstorm.

MRS HUSHABYE. What on earth was he doing in the chest? Did he get
into it because he was afraid of the lightning?

ELLIE. Oh, no, no: he was a baby. The name Marcus Darnley was
embroidered on his baby clothes. And five hundred pounds in gold.

MRS HUSHABYE [Looking hard at her]. Ellie!

ELLIE. The garden of the Viscount--

MRS HUSHABYE. --de Rougemont?

ELLIE [innocently]. No: de Larochejaquelin. A French family. A
vicomte. His life has been one long romance. A tiger--

MRS HUSHABYE. Slain by his own hand?

ELLIE. Oh, no: nothing vulgar like that. He saved the life of the
tiger from a hunting party: one of King Edward's hunting parties
in India. The King was furious: that was why he never had his
military services properly recognized. But he doesn't care. He is
a Socialist and despises rank, and has been in three revolutions
fighting on the barricades.

MRS HUSHABYE. How can you sit there telling me such lies? You,
Ellie, of all people! And I thought you were a perfectly simple,
straightforward, good girl.

ELLIE [rising, dignified but very angry]. Do you mean you don't
believe me?

MRS HUSHABYE. Of course I don't believe you. You're inventing
every word of it. Do you take me for a fool?

Ellie stares at her. Her candor is so obvious that Mrs Hushabye
is puzzled.

ELLIE. Goodbye, Hesione. I'm very sorry. I see now that it sounds
very improbable as I tell it. But I can't stay if you think that
way about me.

MRS HUSHABYE [catching her dress]. You shan't go. I couldn't be
so mistaken: I know too well what liars are like. Somebody has
really told you all this.

ELLIE [flushing]. Hesione, don't say that you don't believe him.
I couldn't bear that.

MRS HUSHABYE [soothing her]. Of course I believe him, dearest.
But you should have broken it to me by degrees. [Drawing her back
to her seat]. Now tell me all about him. Are you in love with

ELLIE. Oh, no. I'm not so foolish. I don't fall in love with
people. I'm not so silly as you think.

MRS HUSHABYE. I see. Only something to think about--to give some
interest and pleasure to life.

ELLIE. Just so. That's all, really.

MRS HUSHABYE. It makes the hours go fast, doesn't it? No tedious
waiting to go to sleep at nights and wondering whether you will
have a bad night. How delightful it makes waking up in the
morning! How much better than the happiest dream! All life
transfigured! No more wishing one had an interesting book to
read, because life is so much happier than any book! No desire
but to be alone and not to have to talk to anyone: to be alone
and just think about it.

ELLIE [embracing her]. Hesione, you are a witch. How do you know?
Oh, you are the most sympathetic woman in the world!

MRS HUSHABYE [caressing her]. Pettikins, my pettikins, how I envy
you! and how I pity you!

ELLIE. Pity me! Oh, why?

A very handsome man of fifty, with mousquetaire moustaches,
wearing a rather dandified curly brimmed hat, and carrying an
elaborate walking-stick, comes into the room from the hall, and
stops short at sight of the women on the sofa.

ELLIE [seeing him and rising in glad surprise]. Oh! Hesione: this
is Mr Marcus Darnley.

MRS HUSHABYE [rising]. What a lark! He is my husband.

ELLIE. But now--[she stops suddenly: then turns pale and sways].

MRS HUSHABYE [catching her and sitting down with her on the
sofa]. Steady, my pettikins.

THE MAN [with a mixture of confusion and effrontery, depositing
his hat and stick on the teak table]. My real name, Miss Dunn, is
Hector Hushabye. I leave you to judge whether that is a name any
sensitive man would care to confess to. I never use it when I can
possibly help it. I have been away for nearly a month; and I had
no idea you knew my wife, or that you were coming here. I am none
the less delighted to find you in our little house.

ELLIE [in great distress]. I don't know what to do. Please, may I
speak to papa? Do leave me. I can't bear it.

MRS HUSHABYE. Be off, Hector.


MRS HUSHABYE. Quick, quick. Get out.

HECTOR. If you think it better--[he goes out, taking his hat with
him but leaving the stick on the table].

MRS HUSHABYE [laying Ellie down at the end of the sofa]. Now,
pettikins, he is gone. There's nobody but me. You can let
yourself go. Don't try to control yourself. Have a good cry.

ELLIE [raising her head]. Damn!

MRS HUSHABYE. Splendid! Oh, what a relief! I thought you were
going to be broken-hearted. Never mind me. Damn him again.

ELLIE. I am not damning him. I am damning myself for being such a
fool. [Rising]. How could I let myself be taken in so? [She
begins prowling to and fro, her bloom gone, looking curiously
older and harder].

MRS HUSHABYE [cheerfully]. Why not, pettikins? Very few young
women can resist Hector. I couldn't when I was your age. He is
really rather splendid, you know.

ELLIE [turning on her]. Splendid! Yes, splendid looking, of
course. But how can you love a liar?

MRS HUSHABYE. I don't know. But you can, fortunately. Otherwise
there wouldn't be much love in the world.

ELLIE. But to lie like that! To be a boaster! a coward!

MRS HUSHABYE [rising in alarm]. Pettikins, none of that, if you
please. If you hint the slightest doubt of Hector's courage, he
will go straight off and do the most horribly dangerous things to
convince himself that he isn't a coward. He has a dreadful trick
of getting out of one third-floor window and coming in at
another, just to test his nerve. He has a whole drawerful of
Albert Medals for saving people's lives.

ELLIE. He never told me that.

MRS HUSHABYE. He never boasts of anything he really did: he can't
bear it; and it makes him shy if anyone else does. All his
stories are made-up stories.

ELLIE [coming to her]. Do you mean that he is really brave, and
really has adventures, and yet tells lies about things that he
never did and that never happened?

MRS HUSHABYE. Yes, pettikins, I do. People don't have their
virtues and vices in sets: they have them anyhow: all mixed.

ELLIE [staring at her thoughtfully]. There's something odd about
this house, Hesione, and even about you. I don't know why I'm
talking to you so calmly. I have a horrible fear that my heart is
broken, but that heartbreak is not like what I thought it must

MRS HUSHABYE [fondling her]. It's only life educating you,
pettikins. How do you feel about Boss Mangan now?

ELLIE [disengaging herself with an expression of distaste]. Oh,
how can you remind me of him, Hesione?

MRS HUSHABYE. Sorry, dear. I think I hear Hector coming back. You
don't mind now, do you, dear?

ELLIE. Not in the least. I am quite cured.

Mazzini Dunn and Hector come in from the hall.

HECTOR [as he opens the door and allows Mazzini to pass in]. One
second more, and she would have been a dead woman!

MAZZINI. Dear! dear! what an escape! Ellie, my love, Mr Hushabye
has just been telling me the most extraordinary--

ELLIE. Yes, I've heard it [she crosses to the other side of the

HECTOR [following her]. Not this one: I'll tell it to you after
dinner. I think you'll like it. The truth is I made it up for
you, and was looking forward to the pleasure of telling it to
you. But in a moment of impatience at being turned out of the
room, I threw it away on your father.

ELLIE [turning at bay with her back to the carpenter's bench,
scornfully self-possessed]. It was not thrown away. He believes
it. I should not have believed it.

MAZZINI [benevolently]. Ellie is very naughty, Mr Hushabye. Of
course she does not really think that. [He goes to the
bookshelves, and inspects the titles of the volumes].

Boss Mangan comes in from the hall, followed by the captain.
Mangan, carefully frock-coated as for church or for a diHECTORs'
meeting, is about fifty-five, with a careworn, mistrustful
expression, standing a little on an entirely imaginary dignity,
with a dull complexion, straight, lustreless hair, and features
so entirely commonplace that it is impossible to describe them.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [to Mrs Hushabye, introducing the newcomer].
Says his name is Mangan. Not able-bodied.

MRS HUSHABYE [graciously]. How do you do, Mr Mangan?

MANGAN [shaking hands]. Very pleased.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Dunn's lost his muscle, but recovered his
nerve. Men seldom do after three attacks of delirium tremens [he
goes into the pantry].

MRS HUSHABYE. I congratulate you, Mr Dunn.

MAZZINI [dazed]. I am a lifelong teetotaler.

MRS HUSHABYE. You will find it far less trouble to let papa have
his own way than try to explain.

MAZZINI. But three attacks of delirium tremens, really!

MRS HUSHABYE [to Mangan]. Do you know my husband, Mr Mangan [she
indicates Hector].

MANGAN [going to Hector, who meets him with outstretched hand].
Very pleased. [Turning to Ellie]. I hope, Miss Ellie, you have
not found the journey down too fatiguing. [They shake hands].

MRS HUSHABYE. Hector, show Mr Dunn his room.

HECTOR. Certainly. Come along, Mr Dunn. [He takes Mazzini out].

ELLIE. You haven't shown me my room yet, Hesione.

MRS HUSHABYE. How stupid of me! Come along. Make yourself quite
at home, Mr Mangan. Papa will entertain you. [She calls to the
captain in the pantry]. Papa, come and explain the house to Mr

She goes out with Ellie. The captain comes from the pantry.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. You're going to marry Dunn's daughter. Don't.
You're too old.

MANGAN [staggered]. Well! That's fairly blunt, Captain.


MANGAN. She doesn't think so.


MANGAN. Older men than I have--

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [finishing the sentence for him].--made fools of
themselves. That, also, is true.

MANGAN [asserting himself]. I don't see that this is any business
of yours.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. It is everybody's business. The stars in their
courses are shaken when such things happen.

MANGAN. I'm going to marry her all the same.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. How do you know?

MANGAN [playing the strong man]. I intend to. I mean to. See? I
never made up my mind to do a thing yet that I didn't bring it
off. That's the sort of man I am; and there will be a better
understanding between us when you make up your mind to that,

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. You frequent picture palaces.

MANGAN. Perhaps I do. Who told you?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Talk like a man, not like a movie. You mean
that you make a hundred thousand a year.

MANGAN. I don't boast. But when I meet a man that makes a hundred
thousand a year, I take off my hat to that man, and stretch out
my hand to him and call him brother.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Then you also make a hundred thousand a year,

MANGAN. No. I can't say that. Fifty thousand, perhaps.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. His half brother only [he turns away from
Mangan with his usual abruptness, and collects the empty tea-cups
on the Chinese tray].

MANGAN [irritated]. See here, Captain Shotover. I don't quite
understand my position here. I came here on your daughter's
invitation. Am I in her house or in yours?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. You are beneath the dome of heaven, in the
house of God. What is true within these walls is true outside
them. Go out on the seas; climb the mountains; wander through the
valleys. She is still too young.

MANGAN [weakening]. But I'm very little over fifty.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. You are still less under sixty. Boss Mangan,
you will not marry the pirate's child [he carries the tray away
into the pantry].

MANGAN [following him to the half door]. What pirate's child?
What are you talking about?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [in the pantry]. Ellie Dunn. You will not marry

MANGAN. Who will stop me?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [emerging]. My daughter [he makes for the door
leading to the hall].

MANGAN [following him]. Mrs Hushabye! Do you mean to say she
brought me down here to break it off?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [stopping and turning on him]. I know nothing
more than I have seen in her eye. She will break it off. Take my
advice: marry a West Indian negress: they make excellent wives. I
was married to one myself for two years.

MANGAN. Well, I am damned!

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. I thought so. I was, too, for many years. The
negress redeemed me.

MANGAN [feebly]. This is queer. I ought to walk out of this


MANGAN. Well, many men would be offended by your style of

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Nonsense! It's the other sort of talking that
makes quarrels. Nobody ever quarrels with me.

A gentleman, whose first-rate tailoring and frictionless manners
proclaim the wellbred West Ender, comes in from the hall. He has
an engaging air of being young and unmarried, but on close
inspection is found to be at least over forty.

THE GENTLEMAN. Excuse my intruding in this fashion, but there is
no knocker on the door and the bell does not seem to ring.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Why should there be a knocker? Why should the
bell ring? The door is open.

THE GENTLEMAN. Precisely. So I ventured to come in.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Quite right. I will see about a room for you
[he makes for the door].

THE GENTLEMAN [stopping him]. But I'm afraid you don't know who I

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. DO you suppose that at my age I make
distinctions between one fellow creature and another? [He goes
out. Mangan and the newcomer stare at one another].

MANGAN. Strange character, Captain Shotover, sir.


CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [shouting outside]. Hesione, another person has
arrived and wants a room. Man about town, well dressed, fifty.

THE GENTLEMAN. Fancy Hesione's feelings! May I ask are you a
member of the family?


THE GENTLEMAN. I am. At least a connection.

Mrs Hushabye comes back.

MRS HUSHABYE. How do you do? How good of you to come!

THE GENTLEMAN. I am very glad indeed to make your acquaintance,
Hesione. [Instead of taking her hand he kisses her. At the same
moment the captain appears in the doorway]. You will excuse my
kissing your daughter, Captain, when I tell you that--

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Stuff! Everyone kisses my daughter. Kiss her as
much as you like [he makes for the pantry].

THE GENTLEMAN. Thank you. One moment, Captain. [The captain halts
and turns. The gentleman goes to him affably]. Do you happen to
remember but probably you don't, as it occurred many years ago--
that your younger daughter married a numskull?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Yes. She said she'd marry anybody to get away
from this house. I should not have recognized you: your head is
no longer like a walnut. Your aspect is softened. You have been
boiled in bread and milk for years and years, like other married
men. Poor devil! [He disappears into the pantry].

MRS HUSHABYE [going past Mangan to the gentleman and scrutinizing
him]. I don't believe you are Hastings Utterword.


MRS HUSHABYE. Then what business had you to kiss me?

THE GENTLEMAN. I thought I would like to. The fact is, I am
Randall Utterword, the unworthy younger brother of Hastings. I
was abroad diplomatizing when he was married.

LADY UTTERWORD [dashing in]. Hesione, where is the key of the
wardrobe in my room? My diamonds are in my dressing-bag: I must
lock it up--[recognizing the stranger with a shock] Randall, how
dare you? [She marches at him past Mrs Hushabye, who retreats and
joins Mangan near the sofa].

RANDALL. How dare I what? I am not doing anything.

LADY UTTERWORD. Who told you I was here?

RANDALL. Hastings. You had just left when I called on you at
Claridge's; so I followed you down here. You are looking
extremely well.

LADY UTTERWORD. Don't presume to tell me so.

MRS HUSHABYE. What is wrong with Mr Randall, Addy?

LADY UTTERWORD [recollecting herself]. Oh, nothing. But he has no
right to come bothering you and papa without being invited [she
goes to the window-seat and sits down, turning away from them
ill-humoredly and looking into the garden, where Hector and Ellie
are now seen strolling together].

MRS HUSHABYE. I think you have not met Mr Mangan, Addy.

LADY UTTERWORD [turning her head and nodding coldly to Mangan]. I
beg your pardon. Randall, you have flustered me so: I make a
perfect fool of myself.

MRS HUSHABYE. Lady Utterword. My sister. My younger sister.

MANGAN [bowing]. Pleased to meet you, Lady Utterword.

LADY UTTERWORD [with marked interest]. Who is that gentleman
walking in the garden with Miss Dunn?

MRS HUSHABYE. I don't know. She quarrelled mortally with my
husband only ten minutes ago; and I didn't know anyone else had
come. It must be a visitor. [She goes to the window to look]. Oh,
it is Hector. They've made it up.

LADY UTTERWORD. Your husband! That handsome man?

MRS HUSHABYE. Well, why shouldn't my husband be a handsome man?

RANDALL [joining them at the window]. One's husband never is,
Ariadne [he sits by Lady Utterword, on her right].

MRS HUSHABYE. One's sister's husband always is, Mr Randall.

LADY UTTERWORD. Don't be vulgar, Randall. And you, Hesione, are
just as bad.

Ellie and Hector come in from the garden by the starboard door.
Randall rises. Ellie retires into the corner near the pantry.
Hector comes forward; and Lady Utterword rises looking her very

MRS. HUSHABYE. Hector, this is Addy.

HECTOR [apparently surprised]. Not this lady.

LADY UTTERWORD [smiling]. Why not?

HECTOR [looking at her with a piercing glance of deep but
respectful admiration, his moustache bristling]. I thought--
[pulling himself together]. I beg your pardon, Lady Utterword. I
am extremely glad to welcome you at last under our roof [he
offers his hand with grave courtesy].

MRS HUSHABYE. She wants to be kissed, Hector.

LADY UTTERWORD. Hesione! [But she still smiles].

MRS HUSHABYE. Call her Addy; and kiss her like a good
brother-in-law; and have done with it. [She leaves them to

HECTOR. Behave yourself, Hesione. Lady Utterword is entitled not
only to hospitality but to civilization.

LADY UTTERWORD [gratefully]. Thank you, Hector. [They shake hands

Mazzini Dunn is seen crossing the garden from starboard to port.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [coming from the pantry and addressing Ellie].
Your father has washed himself.

ELLIE [quite self-possessed]. He often does, Captain Shotover.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. A strange conversion! I saw him through the
pantry window.

Mazzini Dunn enters through the port window door, newly washed
and brushed, and stops, smiling benevolently, between Mangan and
Mrs Hushabye.

MRS HUSHABYE [introducing]. Mr Mazzini Dunn, Lady Ut--oh, I
forgot: you've met. [Indicating Ellie] Miss Dunn.

MAZZINI [walking across the room to take Ellie's hand, and
beaming at his own naughty irony]. I have met Miss Dunn also. She
is my daughter. [He draws her arm through his caressingly].

MRS HUSHABYE. Of course: how stupid! Mr Utterword, my sister's--

RANDALL [shaking hands agreeably]. Her brother-in-law, Mr Dunn.
How do you do?

MRS HUSHABYE. This is my husband.

HECTOR. We have met, dear. Don't introduce us any more. [He moves
away to the big chair, and adds] Won't you sit down, Lady
Utterword? [She does so very graciously].

MRS HUSHABYE. Sorry. I hate it: it's like making people show
their tickets.

MAZZINI [sententiously]. How little it tells us, after all! The
great question is, not who we are, but what we are.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Ha! What are you?

MAZZINI [taken aback]. What am I?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. A thief, a pirate, and a murderer.

MAZZINI. I assure you you are mistaken.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. An adventurous life; but what does it end in?
Respectability. A ladylike daughter. The language and appearance
of a city missionary. Let it be a warning to all of you [he goes
out through the garden].

DUNN. I hope nobody here believes that I am a thief, a pirate, or
a murderer. Mrs Hushabye, will you excuse me a moment? I must
really go and explain. [He follows the captain].

MRS HUSHABYE [as he goes]. It's no use. You'd really better--
[but Dunn has vanished]. We had better all go out and look for
some tea. We never have regular tea; but you can always get some
when you want: the servants keep it stewing all day. The kitchen
veranda is the best place to ask. May I show you? [She goes to
the starboard door].

RANDALL [going with her]. Thank you, I don't think I'll take any
tea this afternoon. But if you will show me the garden--

MRS HUSHABYE. There's nothing to see in the garden except papa's
observatory, and a gravel pit with a cave where he keeps dynamite
and things of that sort. However, it's pleasanter out of doors;
so come along.

RANDALL. Dynamite! Isn't that rather risky?

MRS HUSHABYE. Well, we don't sit in the gravel pit when there's a

LADY UTTERORRD. That's something new. What is the dynamite for?

HECTOR. To blow up the human race if it goes too far. He is
trying to discover a psychic ray that will explode all the
explosive at the well of a Mahatma.

ELLIE. The captain's tea is delicious, Mr Utterword.

MRS HUSHABYE [stopping in the doorway]. Do you mean to say that
you've had some of my father's tea? that you got round him before
you were ten minutes in the house?

ELLIE. I did.

MRS HUSHABYE. You little devil! [She goes out with Randall].

MANGAN. Won't you come, Miss Ellie?

ELLIE. I'm too tired. I'll take a book up to my room and rest a
little. [She goes to the bookshelf].

MANGAN. Right. You can't do better. But I'm disappointed. [He
follows Randall and Mrs Hushabye].

Ellie, Hector, and Lady Utterword are left. Hector is close to
Lady Utterword. They look at Ellie, waiting for her to go.

ELLIE [looking at the title of a book]. Do you like stories of
adventure, Lady Utterword?

LADY UTTERWORD [patronizingly]. Of course, dear.

ELLIE. Then I'll leave you to Mr Hushabye. [She goes out through
the hall].

HECTOR. That girl is mad about tales of adventure. The lies I
have to tell her!

LADY UTTERWORD [not interested in Ellie]. When you saw me what
did you mean by saying that you thought, and then stopping short?
What did you think?

HECTOR [folding his arms and looking down at her magnetically].
May I tell you?


HECTOR. It will not sound very civil. I was on the point of
saying, "I thought you were a plain woman."

LADY UTTERWORD. Oh, for shame, Hector! What right had you to
notice whether I am plain or not?

HECTOR. Listen to me, Ariadne. Until today I have seen only
photographs of you; and no photograph can give the strange
fascination of the daughters of that supernatural old man. There
is some damnable quality in them that destroys men's moral sense,
and carries them beyond honor and dishonor. You know that, don't

LADY UTTERWORD. Perhaps I do, Hector. But let me warn you once
for all that I am a rigidly conventional woman. You may think
because I'm a Shotover that I'm a Bohemian, because we are all so
horribly Bohemian. But I'm not. I hate and loathe Bohemianism. No
child brought up in a strict Puritan household ever suffered from
Puritanism as I suffered from our Bohemianism.

HECTOR. Our children are like that. They spend their holidays in
the houses of their respectable schoolfellows.

LADY UTTERWORD. I shall invite them for Christmas.

HECTOR. Their absence leaves us both without our natural

LADY UTTERWORD. Children are certainly very inconvenient
sometimes. But intelligent people can always manage, unless they
are Bohemians.

HECTOR. You are no Bohemian; but you are no Puritan either: your
attraction is alive and powerful. What sort of woman do you count

LADY UTTERWORD. I am a woman of the world, Hector; and I can
assure you that if you will only take the trouble always to do
the perfectly correct thing, and to say the perfectly correct
thing, you can do just what you like. An ill-conducted, careless
woman gets simply no chance. An ill-conducted, careless man is
never allowed within arm's length of any woman worth knowing.

HECTOR. I see. You are neither a Bohemian woman nor a Puritan
woman. You are a dangerous woman.

LADY UTTERWORD. On the contrary, I am a safe woman.

HECTOR. You are a most accursedly attractive woman. Mind, I am
not making love to you. I do not like being attracted. But you
had better know how I feel if you are going to stay here.

LADY UTTERWORD. You are an exceedingly clever lady-killer,
Hector. And terribly handsome. I am quite a good player, myself,
at that game. Is it quite understood that we are only playing?

HECTOR. Quite. I am deliberately playing the fool, out of sheer

LADY UTTERWORD [rising brightly]. Well, you are my
brother-in-law, Hesione asked you to kiss me. [He seizes her in
his arms and kisses her strenuously]. Oh! that was a little more
than play, brother-in-law. [She pushes him suddenly away]. You
shall not do that again.

HECTOR. In effect, you got your claws deeper into me than I

MRS HUBHABYE [coming in from the garden]. Don't let me disturb
you; I only want a cap to put on daddiest. The sun is setting;
and he'll catch cold [she makes for the door leading to the

LADY UTTERWORD. Your husband is quite charming, darling. He has
actually condescended to kiss me at last. I shall go into the
garden: it's cooler now [she goes out by the port door].

MRS HUSHABYE. Take care, dear child. I don't believe any man can
kiss Addy without falling in love with her. [She goes into the

HECTOR [striking himself on the chest]. Fool! Goat!

Mrs Hushabye comes back with the captain's cap.

HECTOR. Your sister is an extremely enterprising old girl.
Where's Miss Dunn!

MRS HUSHABYE. Mangan says she has gone up to her room for a nap.
Addy won't let you talk to Ellie: she has marked you for her own.

HECTOR. She has the diabolical family fascination. I began making
love to her automatically. What am I to do? I can't fall in love;
and I can't hurt a woman's feelings by telling her so when she
falls in love with me. And as women are always falling in love
with my moustache I get landed in all sorts of tedious and
terrifying flirtations in which I'm not a bit in earnest.

MRS HUSHABYE. Oh, neither is Addy. She has never been in love in
her life, though she has always been trying to fall in head over
ears. She is worse than you, because you had one real go at
least, with me.

HECTOR. That was a confounded madness. I can't believe that such
an amazing experience is common. It has left its mark on me. I
believe that is why I have never been able to repeat it.

MRS HUSHABYE [laughing and caressing his arm]. We were
frightfully in love with one another, Hector. It was such an
enchanting dream that I have never been able to grudge it to you
or anyone else since. I have invited all sorts of pretty women to
the house on the chance of giving you another turn. But it has
never come off.

HECTOR. I don't know that I want it to come off. It was damned
dangerous. You fascinated me; but I loved you; so it was heaven.
This sister of yours fascinates me; but I hate her; so it is
hell. I shall kill her if she persists.

MRS. HUSHABYE. Nothing will kill Addy; she is as strong as a
horse. [Releasing him]. Now I am going off to fascinate somebody.

HECTOR. The Foreign Office toff? Randall?

MRS HUSHABYE. Goodness gracious, no! Why should I fascinate him?

HECTOR. I presume you don't mean the bloated capitalist, Mangan?

MRS HUSHABYE. Hm! I think he had better be fascinated by me than
by Ellie. [She is going into the garden when the captain comes in
from it with some sticks in his hand]. What have you got there,


MRS HUSHABYE. You've been to the gravel pit. Don't drop it about
the house, there's a dear. [She goes into the garden, where the
evening light is now very red].

HECTOR. Listen, O sage. How long dare you concentrate on a
feeling without risking having it fixed in your consciousness all
the rest of your life?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Ninety minutes. An hour and a half. [He goes
into the pantry].

Hector, left alone, contracts his brows, and falls into a
day-dream. He does not move for some time. Then he folds his
arms. Then, throwing his hands behind him, and gripping one with
the other, he strides tragically once to and fro. Suddenly he
snatches his walking stick from the teak table, and draws it; for
it is a swordstick. He fights a desperate duel with an imaginary
antagonist, and after many vicissitudes runs him through the body
up to the hilt. He sheathes his sword and throws it on the sofa,
falling into another reverie as he does so. He looks straight
into the eyes of an imaginary woman; seizes her by the arms; and
says in a deep and thrilling tone, "Do you love me!" The captain
comes out of the pantry at this moment; and Hector, caught with
his arms stretched out and his fists clenched, has to account for
his attitude by going through a series of gymnastic exercises.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. That sort of strength is no good. You will
never be as strong as a gorilla.

HECTOR. What is the dynamite for?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. To kill fellows like Mangan.

HECTOR. No use. They will always be able to buy more dynamite
than you.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. I will make a dynamite that he cannot explode.

HECTOR. And that you can, eh?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Yes: when I have attained the seventh degree of

HECTOR. What's the use of that? You never do attain it.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. What then is to be done? Are we to be kept
forever in the mud by these hogs to whom the universe is nothing
but a machine for greasing their bristles and filling their

HECTOR. Are Mangan's bristles worse than Randall's lovelocks?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER,. We must win powers of life and death over them
both. I refuse to die until I have invented the means.

HECTOR. Who are we that we should judge them?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. What are they that they should judge us? Yet
they do, unhesitatingly. There is enmity between our seed and
their seed. They know it and act on it, strangling our souls.
They believe in themselves. When we believe in ourselves, we
shall kill them.

HECTOR. It is the same seed. You forget that your pirate has a
very nice daughter. Mangan's son may be a Plato: Randall's a
Shelley. What was my father?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. The damnedst scoundrel I ever met. [He replaces
the drawing-board; sits down at the table; and begins to mix a
wash of color].

HECTOR. Precisely. Well, dare you kill his innocent

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. They are mine also.

HECTOR. Just so--we are members one of another. [He throws
himself carelessly on the sofa]. I tell you I have often thought
of this killing of human vermin. Many men have thought of it.
Decent men are like Daniel in the lion's den: their survival is a
miracle; and they do not always survive. We live among the
Mangans and Randalls and Billie Dunns as they, poor devils, live
among the disease germs and the doctors and the lawyers and the
parsons and the restaurant chefs and the tradesmen and the
servants and all the rest of the parasites and blackmailers. What
are our terrors to theirs? Give me the power to kill them; and
I'll spare them in sheer--

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [cutting in sharply]. Fellow feeling?

HECTOR. No. I should kill myself if I believed that. I must
believe that my spark, small as it is, is divine, and that the
red light over their door is hell fire. I should spare them in
simple magnanimous pity.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. You can't spare them until you have the power
to kill them. At present they have the power to kill you. There
are millions of blacks over the water for them to train and let
loose on us. They're going to do it. They're doing it already.

HECTOR. They are too stupid to use their power.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [throwing down his brush and coming to the end
of the sofa]. Do not deceive yourself: they do use it. We kill
the better half of ourselves every day to propitiate them. The
knowledge that these people are there to render all our
aspirations barren prevents us having the aspirations. And when
we are tempted to seek their destruction they bring forth demons
to delude us, disguised as pretty daughters, and singers and
poets and the like, for whose sake we spare them.

HECTOR [sitting up and leaning towards him]. May not Hesione be
such a demon, brought forth by you lest I should slay you?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. That is possible. She has used you up, and left
you nothing but dreams, as some women do.

HECTOR. Vampire women, demon women.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Men think the world well lost for them, and
lose it accordingly. Who are the men that do things? The husbands
of the shrew and of the drunkard, the men with the thorn in the
flesh. [Walking distractedly away towards the pantry]. I must
think these things out. [Turning suddenly]. But I go on with the
dynamite none the less. I will discover a ray mightier than any
X-ray: a mind ray that will explode the ammunition in the belt of
my adversary before he can point his gun at me. And I must hurry.
I am old: I have no time to waste in talk [he is about to go into
the pantry, and Hector is making for the hall, when Hesione comes

MRS HUSHABYE. Daddiest, you and Hector must come and help me to
entertain all these people. What on earth were you shouting

HECTOR [stopping in the act of turning the door handle]. He is
madder than usual.

MRS HUSHABYE. We all are.

HECTOR. I must change [he resumes his door opening].

MRS HUSHABYE. Stop, stop. Come back, both of you. Come back.
[They return, reluctantly]. Money is running short.

HECTOR. Money! Where are my April dividends?

MRS HUSHABYE. Where is the snow that fell last year?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Where is all the money you had for that patent
lifeboat I invented?

MRS HUSHABYE. Five hundred pounds; and I have made it last since

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Since Easter! Barely four months! Monstrous
extravagance! I could live for seven years on 500 pounds.

MRS HUSHABYE. Not keeping open house as we do here, daddiest.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Only 500 pounds for that lifeboat! I got twelve
thousand for the invention before that.

MRS HUSHABYE. Yes, dear; but that was for the ship with the
magnetic keel that sucked up submarines. Living at the rate we
do, you cannot afford life-saving inventions. Can't you think of
something that will murder half Europe at one bang?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. No. I am ageing fast. My mind does not dwell on
slaughter as it did when I was a boy. Why doesn't your husband
invent something? He does nothing but tell lies to women.

HECTOR. Well, that is a form of invention, is it not? However,
you are right: I ought to support my wife.

MRS HUSHABYE. Indeed you shall do nothing of the sort: I should
never see you from breakfast to dinner. I want my husband.

HECTOR [bitterly]. I might as well be your lapdog.

MRS HUSHABYE. Do you want to be my breadwinner, like the other
poor husbands?

HECTOR. No, by thunder! What a damned creature a husband is

MRS HUSHABYE [to the captain]. What about that harpoon cannon?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. No use. It kills whales, not men.

MRS HUSHABYE. Why not? You fire the harpoon out of a cannon. It
sticks in the enemy's general; you wind him in; and there you

HECTOR. You are your father's daughter, Hesione.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. There is something in it. Not to wind in
generals: they are not dangerous. But one could fire a grapnel
and wind in a machine gun or even a tank. I will think it out.

MRS HUSHABYE [squeezing the captain's arm affectionately]. Saved!
You are a darling, daddiest. Now we must go back to these
dreadful people and entertain them.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. They have had no dinner. Don't forget that.

HECTOR. Neither have I. And it is dark: it must be all hours.

MRS HUSHABYE. Oh, Guinness will produce some sort of dinner for
them. The servants always take jolly good care that there is food
in the house.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [raising a strange wail in the darkness]. What a
house! What a daughter!

MRS HUSHABYE [raving]. What a father!

HECTOR [following suit]. What a husband!

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Is there no thunder in heaven?

HECTOR. Is there no beauty, no bravery, on earth?

MRS HUSHABYE. What do men want? They have their food, their
firesides, their clothes mended, and our love at the end of the
day. Why are they not satisfied? Why do they envy us the pain
with which we bring them into the world, and make strange dangers
and torments for themselves to be even with us?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [weirdly chanting].
      I builded a house for my daughters, and opened the doors
      That men might come for their choosing, and their betters
            spring from their love;
      But one of them married a numskull;

HECTOR [taking up the rhythm].
      The other a liar wed;

MRS HUSHABYE [completing the stanza].
      And now must she lie beside him, even as she made her bed.

LADY UTTERWORD [calling from the garden]. Hesione! Hesione! Where
are you?

HECTOR. The cat is on the tiles.

MRS HUSHABYE. Coming, darling, coming [she goes quickly into the

The captain goes back to his place at the table.

HECTOR [going out into the hall]. Shall I turn up the lights for

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. No. Give me deeper darkness. Money is not made
in the light.


The same room, with the lights turned up and the curtains drawn.
Ellie comes in, followed by Mangan. Both are dressed for dinner.
She strolls to the drawing-table. He comes between the table and
the wicker chair.

MANGAN. What a dinner! I don't call it a dinner: I call it a

ELLIE. I am accustomed to meals, Mr Mangan, and very lucky to get
them. Besides, the captain cooked some maccaroni for me.

MANGAN [shuddering liverishly]. Too rich: I can't eat such
things. I suppose it's because I have to work so much with my
brain. That's the worst of being a man of business: you are
always thinking, thinking, thinking. By the way, now that we are
alone, may I take the opportunity to come to a little
understanding with you?

ELLIE [settling into the draughtsman's seat]. Certainly. I should
like to.

MANGAN [taken aback]. Should you? That surprises me; for I
thought I noticed this afternoon that you avoided me all you
could. Not for the first time either.

ELLIE. I was very tired and upset. I wasn't used to the ways of
this extraordinary house. Please forgive me.

MANGAN. Oh, that's all right: I don't mind. But Captain Shotover
has been talking to me about you. You and me, you know.

ELLIE [interested]. The captain! What did he say?

MANGAN. Well, he noticed the difference between our ages.

ELLIE. He notices everything.

MANGAN. You don't mind, then?

ELLIE. Of course I know quite well that our engagement--

MANGAN. Oh! you call it an engagement.

ELLIE. Well, isn't it?

MANGAN. Oh, yes, yes: no doubt it is if you hold to it. This is
the first time you've used the word; and I didn't quite know
where we stood: that's all. [He sits down in the wicker chair;
and resigns himself to allow her to lead the conversation]. You
were saying--?

ELLIE. Was I? I forget. Tell me. Do you like this part of the
country? I heard you ask Mr Hushabye at dinner whether there are
any nice houses to let down here.

MANGAN. I like the place. The air suits me. I shouldn't be
surprised if I settled down here.

ELLIE. Nothing would please me better. The air suits me too. And
I want to be near Hesione.

MANGAN [with growing uneasiness]. The air may suit us; but the
question is, should we suit one another? Have you thought about

ELLIE. Mr Mangan, we must be sensible, mustn't we? It's no use
pretending that we are Romeo and Juliet. But we can get on very
well together if we choose to make the best of it. Your kindness
of heart will make it easy for me.

MANGAN [leaning forward, with the beginning of something like
deliberate unpleasantness in his voice]. Kindness of heart, eh? I
ruined your father, didn't I?

ELLIE. Oh, not intentionally.

MANGAN. Yes I did. Ruined him on purpose.

ELLIE. On purpose!

MANGAN. Not out of ill-nature, you know. And you'll admit that I
kept a job for him when I had finished with him. But business is
business; and I ruined him as a matter of business.

ELLIE. I don't understand how that can be. Are you trying to make
me feel that I need not be grateful to you, so that I may choose

MANGAN [rising aggressively]. No. I mean what I say.

ELLIE. But how could it possibly do you any good to ruin my
father? The money he lost was yours.

MANGAN [with a sour laugh]. Was mine! It is mine, Miss Ellie, and
all the money the other fellows lost too. [He shoves his hands
into his pockets and shows his teeth]. I just smoked them out
like a hive of bees. What do you say to that? A bit of shock, eh?

ELLIE. It would have been, this morning. Now! you can't think how
little it matters. But it's quite interesting. Only, you must
explain it to me. I don't understand it. [Propping her elbows on
the drawingboard and her chin on her hands, she composes herself
to listen with a combination of conscious curiosity with
unconscious contempt which provokes him to more and more
unpleasantness, and an attempt at patronage of her ignorance].

MANGAN. Of course you don't understand: what do you know about
business? You just listen and learn. Your father's business was a
new business; and I don't start new businesses: I let other
fellows start them. They put all their money and their friends'
money into starting them. They wear out their souls and bodies
trying to make a success of them. They're what you call
enthusiasts. But the first dead lift of the thing is too much for
them; and they haven't enough financial experience. In a year or
so they have either to let the whole show go bust, or sell out to
a new lot of fellows for a few deferred ordinary shares: that is,
if they're lucky enough to get anything at all. As likely as not
the very same thing happens to the new lot. They put in more
money and a couple of years' more work; and then perhaps they
have to sell out to a third lot. If it's really a big thing the
third lot will have to sell out too, and leave their work and
their money behind them. And that's where the real business man
comes in: where I come in. But I'm cleverer than some: I don't
mind dropping a little money to start the process. I took your
father's measure. I saw that he had a sound idea, and that he
would work himself silly for it if he got the chance. I saw that
he was a child in business, and was dead certain to outrun his
expenses and be in too great a hurry to wait for his market. I
knew that the surest way to ruin a man who doesn't know how to
handle money is to give him some. I explained my idea to some
friends in the city, and they found the money; for I take no
risks in ideas, even when they're my own. Your father and the
friends that ventured their money with him were no more to me
than a heap of squeezed lemons. You've been wasting your
gratitude: my kind heart is all rot. I'm sick of it. When I see
your father beaming at me with his moist, grateful eyes,
regularly wallowing in gratitude, I sometimes feel I must tell
him the truth or burst. What stops me is that I know he wouldn't
believe me. He'd think it was my modesty, as you did just now.
He'd think anything rather than the truth, which is that he's a
blamed fool, and I am a man that knows how to take care of
himself. [He throws himself back into the big chair with large
self approval]. Now what do you think of me, Miss Ellie?

ELLIE [dropping her hands]. How strange! that my mother, who knew
nothing at all about business, should have been quite right about
you! She always said not before papa, of course, but to us
children--that you were just that sort of man.

MANGAN [sitting up, much hurt]. Oh! did she? And yet she'd have
let you marry me.

ELLIE. Well, you see, Mr Mangan, my mother married a very good
man--for whatever you may think of my father as a man of
business, he is the soul of goodness--and she is not at all keen
on my doing the same.

MANGAN. Anyhow, you don't want to marry me now, do you?

ELLIE. [very calmly]. Oh, I think so. Why not?

MANGAN. [rising aghast]. Why not!

ELLIE. I don't see why we shouldn't get on very well together.

MANGAN. Well, but look here, you know--[he stops, quite at a

ELLIE. [patiently]. Well?

MANGAN. Well, I thought you were rather particular about people's

ELLIE. If we women were particular about men's characters, we
should never get married at all, Mr Mangan.

MANGAN. A child like you talking of "we women"! What next! You're
not in earnest?

ELLIE. Yes, I am. Aren't you?

MANGAN. You mean to hold me to it?

ELLIE. Do you wish to back out of it?

MANGAN. Oh, no. Not exactly back out of it.

ELLIE. Well?

He has nothing to say. With a long whispered whistle, he drops
into the wicker chair and stares before him like a beggared
gambler. But a cunning look soon comes into his face. He leans
over towards her on his right elbow, and speaks in a low steady

MANGAN. Suppose I told you I was in love with another woman!

ELLIE [echoing him]. Suppose I told you I was in love with
another man!

MANGAN [bouncing angrily out of his chair]. I'm not joking.

ELLIE. Who told you I was?

MANGAN. I tell you I'm serious. You're too young to be serious;
but you'll have to believe me. I want to be near your friend Mrs
Hushabye. I'm in love with her. Now the murder's out.

ELLIE. I want to be near your friend Mr Hushabye. I'm in love
with him. [She rises and adds with a frank air] Now we are in one
another's confidence, we shall be real friends. Thank you for
telling me.

MANGAN [almost beside himself]. Do you think I'll be made a
convenience of like this?

ELLIE. Come, Mr Mangan! you made a business convenience of my
father. Well, a woman's business is marriage. Why shouldn't I
make a domestic convenience of you?

MANGAN. Because I don't choose, see? Because I'm not a silly gull
like your father. That's why.

ELLIE [with serene contempt]. You are not good enough to clean my
father's boots, Mr Mangan; and I am paying you a great compliment
in condescending to make a convenience of you, as you call it. Of
course you are free to throw over our engagement if you like;
but, if you do, you'll never enter Hesione's house again: I will
take care of that.

MANGAN [gasping]. You little devil, you've done me. [On the point
of collapsing into the big chair again he recovers himself]. Wait
a bit, though: you're not so cute as you think. You can't beat
Boss Mangan as easy as that. Suppose I go straight to Mrs
Hushabye and tell her that you're in love with her husband.

ELLIE. She knows it.

MANGAN. You told her!!!

ELLIE. She told me.

MANGAN [clutching at his bursting temples]. Oh, this is a crazy
house. Or else I'm going clean off my chump. Is she making a swop
with you--she to have your husband and you to have hers?

ELLIE. Well, you don't want us both, do you?

MANGAN [throwing himself into the chair distractedly]. My brain
won't stand it. My head's going to split. Help! Help me to hold
it. Quick: hold it: squeeze it. Save me. [Ellie comes behind his
chair; clasps his head hard for a moment; then begins to draw her
hands from his forehead back to his ears]. Thank you. [Drowsily].
That's very refreshing. [Waking a little]. Don't you hypnotize
me, though. I've seen men made fools of by hypnotism.

ELLIE [steadily]. Be quiet. I've seen men made fools of without

MANGAN [humbly]. You don't dislike touching me, I hope. You never
touched me before, I noticed.

ELLIE. Not since you fell in love naturally with a grown-up nice
woman, who will never expect you to make love to her. And I will
never expect him to make love to me.

MANGAN. He may, though.

ELLIE [making her passes rhythmically]. Hush. Go to sleep. Do you
hear? You are to go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep; be quiet,
deeply deeply quiet; sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep.

He falls asleep. Ellie steals away; turns the light out; and goes
into the garden.

Nurse Guinness opens the door and is seen in the light which
comes in from the hall.

GUINNESS [speaking to someone outside]. Mr Mangan's not here,
duckie: there's no one here. It's all dark.

MRS HUSHABYE [without]. Try the garden. Mr Dunn and I will be in
my boudoir. Show him the way.

GUINNESS. Yes, ducky. [She makes for the garden door in the dark;
stumbles over the sleeping Mangan and screams]. Ahoo! O Lord,
Sir! I beg your pardon, I'm sure: I didn't see you in the dark.
Who is it? [She goes back to the door and turns on the light].
Oh, Mr Mangan, sir, I hope I haven't hurt you plumping into your
lap like that. [Coming to him]. I was looking for you, sir. Mrs
Hushabye says will you please [noticing that he remains quite
insensible]. Oh, my good Lord, I hope I haven't killed him. Sir!
Mr Mangan! Sir! [She shakes him; and he is rolling inertly off
the chair on the floor when she holds him up and props him
against the cushion]. Miss Hessy! Miss Hessy! [quick, doty
darling. Miss Hessy! [Mrs Hushabye comes in from the hall,
followed by Mazzini Dunn]. Oh, Miss Hessy, I've been and killed

Mazzini runs round the back of the chair to Mangan's right hand,
and sees that the nurse's words are apparently only too true.

MAZZINI. What tempted you to commit such a crime, woman?

MRS HUSHABYE [trying not to laugh]. Do you mean, you did it on

GUINNESS. Now is it likely I'd kill any man on purpose? I fell
over him in the dark; and I'm a pretty tidy weight. He never
spoke nor moved until I shook him; and then he would have dropped
dead on the floor. Isn't it tiresome?

MRS HUSHABYE [going past the nurse to Mangan's side, and
inspecting him less credulously than Mazzini]. Nonsense! he is
not dead: he is only asleep. I can see him breathing.

GUINNESS. But why won't he wake?

MAZZINI [speaking very politely into Mangan's ear]. Mangan! My
dear Mangan! [he blows into Mangan's ear].

MRS HUSHABYE. That's no good [she shakes him vigorously]. Mr
Mangan, wake up. Do you hear? [He begins to roll over]. Oh!
Nurse, nurse: he's falling: help me.

Nurse Guinness rushes to the rescue. With Mazzini's assistance,
Mangan is propped safely up again.

GUINNESS [behind the chair; bending over to test the case with
her nose]. Would he be drunk, do you think, pet?

MRS HUSHABYE. Had he any of papa's rum?

MAZZINI. It can't be that: he is most abstemious. I am afraid he
drank too much formerly, and has to drink too little now. You
know, Mrs Hushabye, I really think he has been hypnotized.

GUINNESS. Hip no what, sir?

MAZZINI. One evening at home, after we had seen a hypnotizing
performance, the children began playing at it; and Ellie stroked
my head. I assure you I went off dead asleep; and they had to
send for a professional to wake me up after I had slept eighteen
hours. They had to carry me upstairs; and as the poor children
were not very strong, they let me slip; and I rolled right down
the whole flight and never woke up. [Mrs Hushabye splutters]. Oh,
you may laugh, Mrs Hushabye; but I might have been killed.

MRS HUSHABYE. I couldn't have helped laughing even if you had
been, Mr Dunn. So Ellie has hypnotized him. What fun!

MAZZINI. Oh no, no, no. It was such a terrible lesson to her:
nothing would induce her to try such a thing again.

MRS HUSHABYE. Then who did it? I didn't.

MAZZINI. I thought perhaps the captain might have done it
unintentionally. He is so fearfully magnetic: I feel vibrations
whenever he comes close to me.

GUINNESS. The captain will get him out of it anyhow, sir: I'll
back him for that. I'll go fetch him [she makes for the pantry].

MRS HUSHABYE. Wait a bit. [To Mazzini]. You say he is all right
for eighteen hours?

MAZZINI. Well, I was asleep for eighteen hours.

MRS HUSHABYE. Were you any the worse for it?

MAZZINI. I don't quite remember. They had poured brandy down my
throat, you see; and--

MRS HUSHABYE. Quite. Anyhow, you survived. Nurse, darling: go and
ask Miss Dunn to come to us here. Say I want to speak to her
particularly. You will find her with Mr Hushabye probably.

GUINNESS. I think not, ducky: Miss Addy is with him. But I'll
find her and send her to you. [She goes out into the garden].

MRS HUSHABYE [calling Mazzini's attention to the figure on the
chair]. Now, Mr Dunn, look. Just look. Look hard. Do you still
intend to sacrifice your daughter to that thing?

MAZZINI [troubled]. You have completely upset me, Mrs Hushabye,
by all you have said to me. That anyone could imagine that I--I,
a consecrated soldier of freedom, if I may say so--could
sacrifice Ellie to anybody or anyone, or that I should ever have
dreamed of forcing her inclinations in any way, is a most painful
blow to my--well, I suppose you would say to my good opinion of

MRS HUSHABYE [rather stolidly]. Sorry.

MAZZINI [looking forlornly at the body]. What is your objection
to poor Mangan, Mrs Hushabye? He looks all right to me. But then
I am so accustomed to him.

MRS HUSHABYE. Have you no heart? Have you no sense? Look at the
brute! Think of poor weak innocent Ellie in the clutches of this
slavedriver, who spends his life making thousands of rough
violent workmen bend to his will and sweat for him: a man
accustomed to have great masses of iron beaten into shape for him
by steam-hammers! to fight with women and girls over a halfpenny
an hour ruthlessly! a captain of industry, I think you call him,
don't you? Are you going to fling your delicate, sweet, helpless
child into such a beast's claws just because he will keep her in
an expensive house and make her wear diamonds to show how rich he

MAZZINI [staring at her in wide-eyed amazement]. Bless you, dear
Mrs Hushabye, what romantic ideas of business you have! Poor dear
Mangan isn't a bit like that.

MRS HUSHABYE [scornfully]. Poor dear Mangan indeed!

MAZZINI. But he doesn't know anything about machinery. He never
goes near the men: he couldn't manage them: he is afraid of them.
I never can get him to take the least interest in the works: he
hardly knows more about them than you do. People are cruelly
unjust to Mangan: they think he is all rugged strength just
because his manners are bad.

MRS HUSHABYE. Do you mean to tell me he isn't strong enough to
crush poor little Ellie?

MAZZINI. Of course it's very hard to say how any marriage will
turn out; but speaking for myself, I should say that he won't
have a dog's chance against Ellie. You know, Ellie has remarkable
strength of character. I think it is because I taught her to like
Shakespeare when she was very young.

MRS HUSHABYE [contemptuously]. Shakespeare! The next thing you
will tell me is that you could have made a great deal more money
than Mangan. [She retires to the sofa, and sits down at the port
end of it in the worst of humors].

MAZZINI [following her and taking the other end]. No: I'm no good
at making money. I don't care enough for it, somehow. I'm not
ambitious! that must be it. Mangan is wonderful about money: he
thinks of nothing else. He is so dreadfully afraid of being poor.
I am always thinking of other things: even at the works I think
of the things we are doing and not of what they cost. And the
worst of it is, poor Mangan doesn't know what to do with his
money when he gets it. He is such a baby that he doesn't know
even what to eat and drink: he has ruined his liver eating and
drinking the wrong things; and now he can hardly eat at all.
Ellie will diet him splendidly. You will be surprised when you
come to know him better: he is really the most helpless of
mortals. You get quite a protective feeling towards him.

MRS HUSHABYE. Then who manages his business, pray?

MAZZINI. I do. And of course other people like me.

MRS HUSHABYE. Footling people, you mean.

MAZZINI. I suppose you'd think us so.

MRS HUSHABYE. And pray why don't you do without him if you're all
so much cleverer?

MAZZINI. Oh, we couldn't: we should ruin the business in a year.
I've tried; and I know. We should spend too much on everything.
We should improve the quality of the goods and make them too
dear. We should be sentimental about the hard cases among the
work people. But Mangan keeps us in order. He is down on us about
every extra halfpenny. We could never do without him. You see, he
will sit up all night thinking of how to save sixpence. Won't
Ellie make him jump, though, when she takes his house in hand!

MRS HUSHABYE. Then the creature is a fraud even as a captain of

MAZZINI. I am afraid all the captains of industry are what you
call frauds, Mrs Hushabye. Of course there are some manufacturers
who really do understand their own works; but they don't make as
high a rate of profit as Mangan does. I assure you Mangan is
quite a good fellow in his way. He means well.

MRS HUSHABYE. He doesn't look well. He is not in his first youth,
is he?

MAZZINI. After all, no husband is in his first youth for very
long, Mrs Hushabye. And men can't afford to marry in their first
youth nowadays.

MRS HUSHABYE. Now if I said that, it would sound witty. Why can't
you say it wittily? What on earth is the matter with you? Why
don't you inspire everybody with confidence? with respect?

MAZZINI [humbly]. I think that what is the matter with me is that
I am poor. You don't know what that means at home. Mind: I don't
say they have ever complained. They've all been wonderful:
they've been proud of my poverty. They've even joked about it
quite often. But my wife has had a very poor time of it. She has
been quite resigned--

MRS HUSHABYE [shuddering involuntarily!!

MAZZINI. There! You see, Mrs Hushabye. I don't want Ellie to live
on resignation.

MRS HUSHABYE. Do you want her to have to resign herself to living
with a man she doesn't love?

MAZZINI [wistfully]. Are you sure that would be worse than living
with a man she did love, if he was a footling person?

MRS HUSHABYE [relaxing her contemptuous attitude, quite
interested in Mazzini now]. You know, I really think you must
love Ellie very much; for you become quite clever when you talk
about her.

MAZZINI. I didn't know I was so very stupid on other subjects.

MRS HUSHABYE. You are, sometimes.

MAZZINI [turning his head away; for his eyes are wet]. I have
learnt a good deal about myself from you, Mrs Hushabye; and I'm
afraid I shall not be the happier for your plain speaking. But if
you thought I needed it to make me think of Ellie's happiness you
were very much mistaken.

MRS HUSHABYE [leaning towards him kindly]. Have I been a beast?

MAZZINI [pulling himself together]. It doesn't matter about me,
Mrs Hushabye. I think you like Ellie; and that is enough for me.

MRS HUSHABYE. I'm beginning to like you a little. I perfectly
loathed you at first. I thought you the most odious,
self-satisfied, boresome elderly prig I ever met.

MAZZINI [resigned, and now quite cheerful]. I daresay I am all
that. I never have been a favorite with gorgeous women like you.
They always frighten me.

MRS HUSHABYE [pleased]. Am I a gorgeous woman, Mazzini? I shall
fall in love with you presently.

MAZZINI [with placid gallantry]. No, you won't, Hesione. But you
would be quite safe. Would you believe it that quite a lot of
women have flirted with me because I am quite safe? But they get
tired of me for the same reason.

MRS HUSHABYE [mischievously]. Take care. You may not be so safe
as you think.

MAZZINI. Oh yes, quite safe. You see, I have been in love really:
the sort of love that only happens once. [Softly]. That's why
Ellie is such a lovely girl.

MRS HUSHABYE. Well, really, you are coming out. Are you quite
sure you won't let me tempt you into a second grand passion?

MAZZINI. Quite. It wouldn't be natural. The fact is, you don't
strike on my box, Mrs Hushabye; and I certainly don't strike on

MRS HUSHABYE. I see. Your marriage was a safety match.

MAZZINI. What a very witty application of the expression I used!
I should never have thought of it.

Ellie comes in from the garden, looking anything but happy.

MRS HUSHABYE [rising]. Oh! here is Ellie at last. [She goes
behind the sofa].

ELLIE [on the threshold of the starboard door]. Guinness said you
wanted me: you and papa.

MRS HUSHABYE. You have kept us waiting so long that it almost
came to--well, never mind. Your father is a very wonderful man
[she ruffles his hair affectionately]: the only one I ever met
who could resist me when I made myself really agreeable. [She
comes to the big chair, on Mangan's left]. Come here. I have
something to show you. [Ellie strolls listlessly to the other
side of the chair]. Look.

ELLIE [contemplating Mangan without interest]. I know. He is only
asleep. We had a talk after dinner; and he fell asleep in the
middle of it.

MRS HUSHABYE. You did it, Ellie. You put him asleep.

MAZZINI [rising quickly and coming to the back of the chair]. Oh,
I hope not. Did you, Ellie?

ELLIE [wearily]. He asked me to.

MAZZINI. But it's dangerous. You know what happened to me.

ELLIE [utterly indifferent]. Oh, I daresay I can wake him. If
not, somebody else can.

MRS HUSHABYE. It doesn't matter, anyhow, because I have at last
persuaded your father that you don't want to marry him.

ELLIE [suddenly coming out of her listlessness, much vexed]. But
why did you do that, Hesione? I do want to marry him. I fully
intend to marry him.

MAZZINI. Are you quite sure, Ellie? Mrs Hushabye has made me feel
that I may have been thoughtless and selfish about it.

ELLIE [very clearly and steadily]. Papa. When Mrs. Hushabye takes
it on herself to explain to you what I think or don't think, shut
your ears tight; and shut your eyes too. Hesione knows nothing
about me: she hasn't the least notion of the sort of person I am,
and never will. I promise you I won't do anything I don't want to
do and mean to do for my own sake.

MAZZINI. You are quite, quite sure?

ELLIE. Quite, quite sure. Now you must go away and leave me to
talk to Mrs Hushabye.

MAZZINI. But I should like to hear. Shall I be in the way?

ELLIE [inexorable]. I had rather talk to her alone.

MAZZINI [affectionately]. Oh, well, I know what a nuisance
parents are, dear. I will be good and go. [He goes to the garden
door]. By the way, do you remember the address of that
professional who woke me up? Don't you think I had better
telegraph to him?

MRS HUSHABYE [moving towards the sofa]. It's too late to
telegraph tonight.

MAZZINI. I suppose so. I do hope he'll wake up in the course of
the night. [He goes out into the garden].

ELLIE [turning vigorously on Hesione the moment her father is out
of the room]. Hesione, what the devil do you mean by making
mischief with my father about Mangan?

MRS HUSHABYE [promptly losing her temper]. Don't you dare speak
to me like that, you little minx. Remember that you are in my

ELLIE. Stuff! Why don't you mind your own business? What is it to
you whether I choose to marry Mangan or not?

MRS HUSHABYE. Do you suppose you can bully me, you miserable
little matrimonial adventurer?

ELLIE. Every woman who hasn't any money is a matrimonial
adventurer. It's easy for you to talk: you have never known what
it is to want money; and you can pick up men as if they were
daisies. I am poor and respectable--

MRS HUSHABYE [interrupting]. Ho! respectable! How did you pick up
Mangan? How did you pick up my husband? You have the audacity to
tell me that I am a--a--a--

ELLIE. A siren. So you are. You were born to lead men by the
nose: if you weren't, Marcus would have waited for me, perhaps.

MRS HUSHABYE [suddenly melting and half laughing]. Oh, my poor
Ellie, my pettikins, my unhappy darling! I am so sorry about
Hector. But what can I do? It's not my fault: I'd give him to you
if I could.

ELLIE. I don't blame you for that.

MRS HUSHABYE. What a brute I was to quarrel with you and call you
names! Do kiss me and say you're not angry with me.

ELLIE [fiercely]. Oh, don't slop and gush and be sentimental.
Don't you see that unless I can be hard--as hard as nails--I
shall go mad? I don't care a damn about your calling me names: do
you think a woman in my situation can feel a few hard words?

MRS HUSHABYE. Poor little woman! Poor little situation!

ELLIE. I suppose you think you're being sympathetic. You are just
foolish and stupid and selfish. You see me getting a smasher
right in the face that kills a whole part of my life: the best
part that can never come again; and you think you can help me
over it by a little coaxing and kissing. When I want all the
strength I can get to lean on: something iron, something stony, I
don't care how cruel it is, you go all mushy and want to slobber
over me. I'm not angry; I'm not unfriendly; but for God's sake do
pull yourself together; and don't think that because you're on
velvet and always have been, women who are in hell can take it as
easily as you.

MRS HUSHABYE [shrugging her shoulders]. Very well. [She sits down
on the sofa in her old place. But I warn you that when I am
neither coaxing and kissing nor laughing, I am just wondering how
much longer I can stand living in this cruel, damnable world. You
object to the siren: well, I drop the siren. You want to rest
your wounded bosom against a grindstone. Well [folding her arms]
here is the grindstone.

ELLIE [sitting down beside her, appeased]. That's better: you
really have the trick of falling in with everyone's mood; but you
don't understand, because you are not the sort of woman for whom
there is only one man and only one chance.

MRS HUSHABYE. I certainly don't understand how your marrying that
object [indicating Mangan] will console you for not being able to
marry Hector.

ELLIE. Perhaps you don't understand why I was quite a nice girl
this morning, and am now neither a girl nor particularly nice.

MRS HUSHABYE. Oh, yes, I do. It's because you have made up your
mind to do something despicable and wicked.

ELLIE. I don't think so, Hesione. I must make the best of my
ruined house.

MRS HUSHABYE. Pooh! You'll get over it. Your house isn't ruined.

ELLIE. Of course I shall get over it. You don't suppose I'm going
to sit down and die of a broken heart, I hope, or be an old maid
living on a pittance from the Sick and Indigent Roomkeepers'
Association. But my heart is broken, all the same. What I mean by
that is that I know that what has happened to me with Marcus will
not happen to me ever again. In the world for me there is Marcus
and a lot of other men of whom one is just the same as another.
Well, if I can't have love, that's no reason why I should have
poverty. If Mangan has nothing else, he has money.

MRS HUSHABYE. And are there no YOUNG men with money?

ELLIE. Not within my reach. Besides, a young man would have the
right to expect love from me, and would perhaps leave me when he
found I could not give it to him. Rich young men can get rid of
their wives, you know, pretty cheaply. But this object, as you
call him, can expect nothing more from me than I am prepared to
give him.

MRS HUSHABYE. He will be your owner, remember. If he buys you, he
will make the bargain pay him and not you. Ask your father.

ELLIE [rising and strolling to the chair to contemplate their
subject]. You need not trouble on that score, Hesione. I have
more to give Boss Mangan than he has to give me: it is I who am
buying him, and at a pretty good price too, I think. Women are
better at that sort of bargain than men. I have taken the Boss's
measure; and ten Boss Mangans shall not prevent me doing far more
as I please as his wife than I have ever been able to do as a
poor girl. [Stooping to the recumbent figure]. Shall they, Boss?
I think not. [She passes on to the drawing-table, and leans
against the end of it, facing the windows]. I shall not have to
spend most of my time wondering how long my gloves will last,

MRS HUSHABYE [rising superbly]. Ellie, you are a wicked, sordid
little beast. And to think that I actually condescended to
fascinate that creature there to save you from him! Well, let me
tell you this: if you make this disgusting match, you will never
see Hector again if I can help it.

ELLIE [unmoved]. I nailed Mangan by telling him that if he did
not marry me he should never see you again [she lifts herself on
her wrists and seats herself on the end of the table].

MRS HUSHABYE [recoiling]. Oh!

ELLIE. So you see I am not unprepared for your playing that trump
against me. Well, you just try it: that's all. I should have made
a man of Marcus, not a household pet.

MRS HUSHABYE [flaming]. You dare!

ELLIE [looking almost dangerous]. Set him thinking about me if
you dare.

MRS HUSHABYE. Well, of all the impudent little fiends I ever met!
Hector says there is a certain point at which the only answer you
can give to a man who breaks all the rules is to knock him down.
What would you say if I were to box your ears?

ELLIE [calmly]. I should pull your hair.

MRS HUSHABYE [mischievously]. That wouldn't hurt me. Perhaps it
comes off at night.

ELLIE [so taken aback that she drops off the table and runs to
her]. Oh, you don't mean to say, Hesione, that your beautiful
black hair is false?

MRS HUSHABYE [patting it]. Don't tell Hector. He believes in it.

ELLIE [groaning]. Oh! Even the hair that ensnared him false!
Everything false!

MRS HUSHABYE. Pull it and try. Other women can snare men in their
hair; but I can swing a baby on mine. Aha! you can't do that,

ELLIE [heartbroken]. No. You have stolen my babies.

MRS HUSHABYE. Pettikins, don't make me cry. You know what you
said about my making a household pet of him is a little true.
Perhaps he ought to have waited for you. Would any other woman on
earth forgive you?

ELLIE. Oh, what right had you to take him all for yourself!
[Pulling herself together]. There! You couldn't help it: neither
of us could help it. He couldn't help it. No, don't say anything
more: I can't bear it. Let us wake the object. [She begins
stroking Mangan's head, reversing the movement with which she put
him to sleep]. Wake up, do you hear? You are to wake up at once.
Wake up, wake up, wake--

MANGAN [bouncing out of the chair in a fury and turning on them].
Wake up! So you think I've been asleep, do you? [He kicks the
chair violently back out of his way, and gets between them]. You
throw me into a trance so that I can't move hand or foot--I might
have been buried alive! it's a mercy I wasn't--and then you think
I was only asleep. If you'd let me drop the two times you rolled
me about, my nose would have been flattened for life against the
floor. But I've found you all out, anyhow. I know the sort of
people I'm among now. I've heard every word you've said, you and
your precious father, and [to Mrs Hushabye] you too. So I'm an
object, am I? I'm a thing, am I? I'm a fool that hasn't sense
enough to feed myself properly, am I? I'm afraid of the men that
would starve if it weren't for the wages I give them, am I? I'm
nothing but a disgusting old skinflint to be made a convenience
of by designing women and fool managers of my works, am I? I'm--

MRS HUSHABYE [with the most elegant aplomb]. Sh-sh-sh-sh-sh! Mr
Mangan, you are bound in honor to obliterate from your mind all
you heard while you were pretending to be asleep. It was not
meant for you to hear.

MANGAN. Pretending to be asleep! Do you think if I was only
pretending that I'd have sprawled there helpless, and listened to
such unfairness, such lies, such injustice and plotting and
backbiting and slandering of me, if I could have up and told you
what I thought of you! I wonder I didn't burst.

MRS HUSHABYE [sweetly]. You dreamt it all, Mr Mangan. We were
only saying how beautifully peaceful you looked in your sleep.
That was all, wasn't it, Ellie? Believe me, Mr Mangan, all those
unpleasant things came into your mind in the last half second
before you woke. Ellie rubbed your hair the wrong way; and the
disagreeable sensation suggested a disagreeable dream.

MANGAN [doggedly]. I believe in dreams.

MRS HUSHABYE. So do I. But they go by contraries, don't they?

MANGAN [depths of emotion suddenly welling up in him]. I shan't
forget, to my dying day, that when you gave me the glad eye that
time in the garden, you were making a fool of me. That was a
dirty low mean thing to do. You had no right to let me come near
you if I disgusted you. It isn't my fault if I'm old and haven't
a moustache like a bronze candlestick as your husband has. There
are things no decent woman would do to a man--like a man hitting
a woman in the breast.

Hesione, utterly shamed, sits down on the sofa and covers her
face with her hands. Mangan sits down also on his chair and
begins to cry like a child. Ellie stares at them. Mrs Hushabye,
at the distressing sound he makes, takes down her hands and looks
at him. She rises and runs to him.

MRS HUSHABYE. Don't cry: I can't bear it. Have I broken your
heart? I didn't know you had one. How could I?

MANGAN. I'm a man, ain't I?

MRS HUSHABYE [half coaxing, half rallying, altogether tenderly].
Oh no: not what I call a man. Only a Boss: just that and nothing
else. What business has a Boss with a heart?

MANGAN. Then you're not a bit sorry for what you did, nor

MRS HUSHABYE. I was ashamed for the first time in my life when
you said that about hitting a woman in the breast, and I found
out what I'd done. My very bones blushed red. You've had your
revenge, Boss. Aren't you satisfied?

MANGAN. Serve you right! Do you hear? Serve you right! You're
just cruel. Cruel.

MRS HUSHABYE. Yes: cruelty would be delicious if one could only
find some sort of cruelty that didn't really hurt. By the way
[sitting down beside him on the arm of the chair], what's your
name? It's not really Boss, is it?

MANGAN [shortly]. If you want to know, my name's Alfred.

MRS HUSHABYE [springs up]. Alfred!! Ellie, he was christened
after Tennyson!!!

MANGAN [rising]. I was christened after my uncle, and never had a
penny from him, damn him! What of it?

MRS HUSHABYE. It comes to me suddenly that you are a real person:
that you had a mother, like anyone else. [Putting her hands on
his shoulders and surveying him]. Little Alf!

MANGAN. Well, you have a nerve.

MRS HUSHABYE. And you have a heart, Alfy, a whimpering little
heart, but a real one. [Releasing him suddenly]. Now run and make
it up with Ellie. She has had time to think what to say to you,
which is more than I had [she goes out quickly into the garden by
the port door].

MANGAN. That woman has a pair of hands that go right through you.

ELLIE. Still in love with her, in spite of all we said about you?

MANGAN. Are all women like you two? Do they never think of
anything about a man except what they can get out of him? You
weren't even thinking that about me. You were only thinking
whether your gloves would last.

ELLIE. I shall not have to think about that when we are married.

MANGAN. And you think I am going to marry you after what I heard

ELLIE. You heard nothing from me that I did not tell you before.

MANGAN. Perhaps you think I can't do without you.

ELLIE. I think you would feel lonely without us all, now, after
coming to know us so well.

MANGAN [with something like a yell of despair]. Am I never to
have the last word?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [appearing at the starboard garden door]. There
is a soul in torment here. What is the matter?

MANGAN. This girl doesn't want to spend her life wondering how
long her gloves will last.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [passing through]. Don't wear any. I never do
[he goes into the pantry].

LADY UTTERWORD [appearing at the port garden door, in a handsome
dinner dress]. Is anything the matter?

ELLIE. This gentleman wants to know is he never to have the last

LADY UTTERWORD [coming forward to the sofa]. I should let him
have it, my dear. The important thing is not to have the last
word, but to have your own way.

MANGAN. She wants both.

LADY UTTERWORD. She won't get them, Mr Mangan. Providence always
has the last word.

MANGAN [desperately]. Now you are going to come religion over me.
In this house a man's mind might as well be a football. I'm
going. [He makes for the hall, but is stopped by a hail from the
Captain, who has just emerged from his pantry].

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Whither away, Boss Mangan?

MANGAN. To hell out of this house: let that be enough for you and
all here.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. You were welcome to come: you are free to go.
The wide earth, the high seas, the spacious skies are waiting for
you outside.

LADY UTTERWORD. But your things, Mr Mangan. Your bag, your comb
and brushes, your pyjamas--

HECTOR [who has just appeared in the port doorway in a handsome
Arab costume]. Why should the escaping slave take his chains with

MANGAN. That's right, Hushabye. Keep the pyjamas, my lady, and
much good may they do you.

HECTOR [advancing to Lady Utterword's left hand]. Let us all go
out into the night and leave everything behind us.

MANGAN. You stay where you are, the lot of you. I want no
company, especially female company.

ELLIE. Let him go. He is unhappy here. He is angry with us.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Go, Boss Mangan; and when you have found the
land where there is happiness and where there are no women, send
me its latitude and longitude; and I will join you there.

LADY UTTERWORD. You will certainly not be comfortable without
your luggage, Mr Mangan.

ELLIE [impatient]. Go, go: why don't you go? It is a heavenly
night: you can sleep on the heath. Take my waterproof to lie on:
it is hanging up in the hall.

HECTOR. Breakfast at nine, unless you prefer to breakfast with
the captain at six.

ELLIE. Good night, Alfred.

HECTOR. Alfred! [He runs back to the door and calls into the
garden]. Randall, Mangan's Christian name is Alfred.

RANDALL [appearing in the starboard doorway in evening dress].
Then Hesione wins her bet.

Mrs Hushabye appears in the port doorway. She throws her left arm
round Hector's neck: draws him with her to the back of the sofa:
and throws her right arm round Lady Utterword's neck.

MRS HUSHABYE. They wouldn't believe me, Alf.

They contemplate him.

MANGAN. Is there any more of you coming in to look at me, as if I
was the latest thing in a menagerie?

MRS HUSHABYE. You are the latest thing in this menagerie.

Before Mangan can retort, a fall of furniture is heard from
upstairs: then a pistol shot, and a yell of pain. The staring
group breaks up in consternation.

MAZZINI'S VOICE [from above]. Help! A burglar! Help!

HECTOR [his eyes blazing]. A burglar!!!

MRS HUSHABYE. No, Hector: you'll be shot [but it is too late; he
has dashed out past Mangan, who hastily moves towards the
bookshelves out of his way].

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [blowing his whistle]. All hands aloft! [He
strides out after Hector].

LADY UTTERWORD. My diamonds! [She follows the captain].

RANDALL [rushing after her]. No. Ariadne. Let me.

ELLIE. Oh, is papa shot? [She runs out].

MRS HUSHABYE. Are you frightened, Alf?

MANGAN. No. It ain't my house, thank God.

MRS HUSHABYE. If they catch a burglar, shall we have to go into
court as witnesses, and be asked all sorts of questions about our
private lives?

MANGAN. You won't be believed if you tell the truth.

Mazzini, terribly upset, with a duelling pistol in his hand,
comes from the hall, and makes his way to the drawing-table.

MAZZINI. Oh, my dear Mrs Hushabye, I might have killed him. [He
throws the pistol on the table and staggers round to the chair].
I hope you won't believe I really intended to.

Hector comes in, marching an old and villainous looking man
before him by the collar. He plants him in the middle of the room
and releases him.

Ellie follows, and immediately runs across to the back of her
father's chair and pats his shoulders.

RANDALL [entering with a poker]. Keep your eye on this door,
Mangan. I'll look after the other [he goes to the starboard door
and stands on guard there].

Lady Utterword comes in after Randall, and goes between Mrs
Hushabye and Mangan.

Nurse Guinness brings up the rear, and waits near the door, on
Mangan's left.

MRS HUSHABYE. What has happened?

MAZZINI. Your housekeeper told me there was somebody upstairs,
and gave me a pistol that Mr Hushabye had been practising with. I
thought it would frighten him; but it went off at a touch.

THE BURGLAR. Yes, and took the skin off my ear. Precious near
took the top off my head. Why don't you have a proper revolver
instead of a thing like that, that goes off if you as much as
blow on it?

HECTOR. One of my duelling pistols. Sorry.

MAZZINI. He put his hands up and said it was a fair cop.

THE BURGLAR. So it was. Send for the police.

HECTOR. No, by thunder! It was not a fair cop. We were four to

MRS HUSHABYE. What will they do to him?

THE BURGLAR. Ten years. Beginning with solitary. Ten years off my
life. I shan't serve it all: I'm too old. It will see me out.

LADY UTTERWORD. You should have thought of that before you stole
my diamonds.

THE BURGLAR. Well, you've got them back, lady, haven't you? Can
you give me back the years of my life you are going to take from

MRS HUSHABYE. Oh, we can't bury a man alive for ten years for a
few diamonds.

THE BURGLAR. Ten little shining diamonds! Ten long black years!

LADY UTTERWORD. Think of what it is for us to be dragged through
the horrors of a criminal court, and have all our family affairs
in the papers! If you were a native, and Hastings could order you
a good beating and send you away, I shouldn't mind; but here in
England there is no real protection for any respectable person.

THE BURGLAR. I'm too old to be giv a hiding, lady. Send for the
police and have done with it. It's only just and right you

RANDALL [who has relaxed his vigilance on seeing the burglar so
pacifically disposed, and comes forward swinging the poker
between his fingers like a well folded umbrella]. It is neither
just nor right that we should be put to a lot of inconvenience to
gratify your moral enthusiasm, my friend. You had better get out,
while you have the chance.

THE BURGLAR [inexorably]. No. I must work my sin off my
conscience. This has come as a sort of call to me. Let me spend
the rest of my life repenting in a cell. I shall have my reward

MANGAN [exasperated]. The very burglars can't behave naturally in
this house.

HECTOR. My good sir, you must work out your salvation at somebody
else's expense. Nobody here is going to charge you.

THE BURGLAR. Oh, you won't charge me, won't you?

HECTOR. No. I'm sorry to be inhospitable; but will you kindly
leave the house?

THE BURGLAR. Right. I'll go to the police station and give myself
up. [He turns resolutely to the door: but Hector stops him].

HECTOR.                  { Oh, no. You mustn't do that.
RANDALL.    [speaking    { No no. Clear out man, can't you; and
             together]      don't be a fool.
MRS. HUSHABYE            { Don't be so silly. Can't you repent at

LADY UTTERWORD. You will have to do as you are told.

THE BURGLAR. It's compounding a felony, you know.

MRS HUSHABYE. This is utterly ridiculous. Are we to be forced to
prosecute this man when we don't want to?

THE BURGLAR. Am I to be robbed of my salvation to save you the
trouble of spending a day at the sessions? Is that justice? Is it
right? Is it fair to me?

MAZZINI [rising and leaning across the table persuasively as if
it were a pulpit desk or a shop counter]. Come, come! let me show
you how you can turn your very crimes to account. Why not set up
as a locksmith? You must know more about locks than most honest

THE BURGLAR. That's true, sir. But I couldn't set up as a
locksmith under twenty pounds.

RANDALL. Well, you can easily steal twenty pounds. You will find
it in the nearest bank.

THE BURGLAR [horrified]. Oh, what a thing for a gentleman to put
into the head of a poor criminal scrambling out of the bottomless
pit as it were! Oh, shame on you, sir! Oh, God forgive you! [He
throws himself into the big chair and covers his face as if in

LADY UTTERWORD. Really, Randall!

HECTOR. It seems to me that we shall have to take up a collection
for this inopportunely contrite sinner.

LADY UTTERWORD. But twenty pounds is ridiculous.

THE BURGLAR [looking up quickly]. I shall have to buy a lot of
tools, lady.

LADY UTTERWORD. Nonsense: you have your burgling kit.

THE BURGLAR. What's a jimmy and a centrebit and an acetylene
welding plant and a bunch of skeleton keys? I shall want a forge,
and a smithy, and a shop, and fittings. I can't hardly do it for

HECTOR. My worthy friend, we haven't got twenty pounds.

THE BURGLAR [now master of the situation]. You can raise it among
you, can't you?

MRS HUSHABYE. Give him a sovereign, Hector, and get rid of him.

HECTOR [giving him a pound]. There! Off with you.

THE BURGLAR [rising and taking the money very ungratefully]. I
won't promise nothing. You have more on you than a quid: all the
lot of you, I mean.

LADY UTTERWORD [vigorously]. Oh, let us prosecute him and have
done with it. I have a conscience too, I hope; and I do not feel
at all sure that we have any right to let him go, especially if
he is going to be greedy and impertinent.

THE BURGLAR [quickly]. All right, lady, all right. I've no wish
to be anything but agreeable. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen;
and thank you kindly.

He is hurrying out when he is confronted in the doorway by
Captain Shotover.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [fixing the burglar with a piercing regard].
What's this? Are there two of you?

THE BURGLAR [falling on his knees before the captain in abject
terror]. Oh, my good Lord, what have I done? Don't tell me it's
your house I've broken into, Captain Shotover.

The captain seizes him by the collar: drags him to his feet: and
leads him to the middle of the group, Hector falling back beside
his wife to make way for them.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [turning him towards Ellie]. Is that your
daughter? [He releases him].

THE BURGLAR. Well, how do I know, Captain? You know the sort of
life you and me has led. Any young lady of that age might be my
daughter anywhere in the wide world, as you might say.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [to Mazzini]. You are not Billy Dunn. This is
Billy Dunn. Why have you imposed on me?

THE BURGLAR [indignantly to Mazzini]. Have you been giving
yourself out to be me? You, that nigh blew my head off! Shooting
yourself, in a manner of speaking!

MAZZINI. My dear Captain Shotover, ever since I came into this
house I have done hardly anything else but assure you that I am
not Mr William Dunn, but Mazzini Dunn, a very different person.

THE BURGLAR. He don't belong to my branch, Captain. There's two
sets in the family: the thinking Dunns and the drinking Dunns,
each going their own ways. I'm a drinking Dunn: he's a thinking
Dunn. But that didn't give him any right to shoot me.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. So you've turned burglar, have you?

THE BURGLAR. No, Captain: I wouldn't disgrace our old sea calling
by such a thing. I am no burglar.

LADY UTTERWORD. What were you doing with my diamonds?

GUINNESS. What did you break into the house for if you're no

RANDALL. Mistook the house for your own and came in by the wrong
window, eh?

THE BURGLAR. Well, it's no use my telling you a lie: I can take
in most captains, but not Captain Shotover, because he sold
himself to the devil in Zanzibar, and can divine water, spot
gold, explode a cartridge in your pocket with a glance of his
eye, and see the truth hidden in the heart of man. But I'm no

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Are you an honest man?

THE BURGLAR. I don't set up to be better than my
fellow-creatures, and never did, as you well know, Captain. But
what I do is innocent and pious. I enquire about for houses where
the right sort of people live. I work it on them same as I worked
it here. I break into the house; put a few spoons or diamonds in
my pocket; make a noise; get caught; and take up a collection.
And you wouldn't believe how hard it is to get caught when you're
actually trying to. I have knocked over all the chairs in a room
without a soul paying any attention to me. In the end I have had
to walk out and leave the job.

RANDALL. When that happens, do you put back the spoons and

THE BURGLAR. Well, I don't fly in the face of Providence, if
that's what you want to know.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Guinness, you remember this man?

GUINNESS. I should think I do, seeing I was married to him, the

HESIONE         }  [exclaiming  { Married to him!
LADY UTTERWORD  }  together]    { Guinness!!

THE BURGLAR. It wasn't legal. I've been married to no end of
women. No use coming that over me.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Take him to the forecastle [he flings him to
the door with a strength beyond his years].

GUINNESS. I suppose you mean the kitchen. They won't have him
there. Do you expect servants to keep company with thieves and
all sorts?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Land-thieves and water-thieves are the same
flesh and blood. I'll have no boatswain on my quarter-deck. Off
with you both.

THE BURGLAR. Yes, Captain. [He goes out humbly].

MAZZINI. Will it be safe to have him in the house like that?

GUINNESS. Why didn't you shoot him, sir? If I'd known who he was,
I'd have shot him myself. [She goes out].

MRS HUSHABYE. Do sit down, everybody. [She sits down on the

They all move except Ellie. Mazzini resumes his seat. Randall
sits down in the window-seat near the starboard door, again
making a pendulum of his poker, and studying it as Galileo might
have done. Hector sits on his left, in the middle. Mangan,
forgotten, sits in the port corner. Lady Utterword takes the big
chair. Captain Shotover goes into the pantry in deep abstraction.
They all look after him: and Lady Utterword coughs consciously.

MRS HUSHABYE. So Billy Dunn was poor nurse's little romance. I
knew there had been somebody.

RANDALL. They will fight their battles over again and enjoy
themselves immensely.

LADY UTTERWORD [irritably]. You are not married; and you know
nothing about it, Randall. Hold your tongue.

RANDALL. Tyrant!

MRS HUSHABYE. Well, we have had a very exciting evening.
Everything will be an anticlimax after it. We'd better all go to

RANDALL. Another burglar may turn up.

MAZZINI. Oh, impossible! I hope not.

RANDALL. Why not? There is more than one burglar in England.

MRS HUSHABYE. What do you say, Alf?

MANGAN [huffily]. Oh, I don't matter. I'm forgotten. The burglar
has put my nose out of joint. Shove me into a corner and have
done with me.

MRS HUSHABYE [jumping up mischievously, and going to him]. Would
you like a walk on the heath, Alfred? With me?

ELLIE. Go, Mr Mangan. It will do you good. Hesione will soothe

MRS HUSHABYE [slipping her arm under his and pulling him
upright]. Come, Alfred. There is a moon: it's like the night in
Tristan and Isolde. [She caresses his arm and draws him to the
port garden door].

MANGAN [writhing but yielding]. How you can have the face-the
heart-[he breaks down and is heard sobbing as she takes him out].

LADY UTTERWORD. What an extraordinary way to behave! What is the
matter with the man?

ELLIE [in a strangely calm voice, staring into an imaginary
distance]. His heart is breaking: that is all. [The captain
appears at the pantry door, listening]. It is a curious
sensation: the sort of pain that goes mercifully beyond our
powers of feeling. When your heart is broken, your boats are
burned: nothing matters any more. It is the end of happiness and
the beginning of peace.

LADY UTTERWORD [suddenly rising in a rage, to the astonishment of
the rest]. How dare you?

HECTOR. Good heavens! What's the matter?

RANDALL [in a warning whisper]. Tch--tch-tch! Steady.

ELLIE [surprised and haughty]. I was not addressing you
particularly, Lady Utterword. And I am not accustomed to being
asked how dare I.

LADY UTTERWORD. Of course not. Anyone can see how badly you have
been brought up.

MAZZINI. Oh, I hope not, Lady Utterword. Really!

LADY UTTERWORD. I know very well what you meant. The impudence!

ELLIE. What on earth do you mean?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [advancing to the table]. She means that her
heart will not break. She has been longing all her life for
someone to break it. At last she has become afraid she has none
to break.

LADY UTTERWORD [flinging herself on her knees and throwing her
arms round him]. Papa, don't say you think I've no heart.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [raising her with grim tenderness]. If you had
no heart how could you want to have it broken, child?

HECTOR [rising with a bound]. Lady Utterword, you are not to be
trusted. You have made a scene [he runs out into the garden
through the starboard door].

LADY UTTERWORD. Oh! Hector, Hector! [she runs out after him].

RANDALL. Only nerves, I assure you. [He rises and follows her,
waving the poker in his agitation]. Ariadne! Ariadne! For God's
sake, be careful. You will--[he is gone].

MAZZINI [rising]. How distressing! Can I do anything, I wonder?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [promptly taking his chair and setting to work
at the drawing-board]. No. Go to bed. Good-night.

MAZZINI [bewildered]. Oh! Perhaps you are right.

ELLIE. Good-night, dearest. [She kisses him].

MAZZINI. Good-night, love. [He makes for the door, but turns
aside to the bookshelves]. I'll just take a book [he takes one].
Good-night. [He goes out, leaving Ellie alone with the captain].

The captain is intent on his drawing. Ellie, standing sentry over
his chair, contemplates him for a moment.

ELLIE. Does nothing ever disturb you, Captain Shotover?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. I've stood on the bridge for eighteen hours in
a typhoon. Life here is stormier; but I can stand it.

ELLIE. Do you think I ought to marry Mr Mangan?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [never looking up]. One rock is as good as
another to be wrecked on.

ELLIE. I am not in love with him.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Who said you were?

ELLIE. You are not surprised?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Surprised! At my age!

ELLIE. It seems to me quite fair. He wants me for one thing: I
want him for another.



CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Well, one turns the cheek: the other kisses it.
One provides the cash: the other spends it.

ELLIE. Who will have the best of the bargain, I wonder?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. You. These fellows live in an office all day.
You will have to put up with him from dinner to breakfast; but
you will both be asleep most of that time. All day you will be
quit of him; and you will be shopping with his money. If that is
too much for you, marry a seafaring man: you will be bothered
with him only three weeks in the year, perhaps.

ELLIE. That would be best of all, I suppose.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. It's a dangerous thing to be married right up
to the hilt, like my daughter's husband. The man is at home all
day, like a damned soul in hell.

ELLIE. I never thought of that before.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. If you're marrying for business, you can't be
too businesslike.

ELLIE. Why do women always want other women's husbands?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Why do horse-thieves prefer a horse that is
broken-in to one that is wild?

ELLIE [with a short laugh]. I suppose so. What a vile world it

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. It doesn't concern me. I'm nearly out of it.

ELLIE. And I'm only just beginning.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Yes; so look ahead.

ELLIE. Well, I think I am being very prudent.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. I didn't say prudent. I said look ahead.

ELLIE. What's the difference?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. It's prudent to gain the whole world and lose
your own soul. But don't forget that your soul sticks to you if
you stick to it; but the world has a way of slipping through your

ELLIE [wearily, leaving him and beginning to wander restlessly
about the room]. I'm sorry, Captain Shotover; but it's no use
talking like that to me. Old-fashioned people are no use to me.
Old-fashioned people think you can have a soul without money.
They think the less money you have, the more soul you have. Young
people nowadays know better. A soul is a very expensive thing to
keep: much more so than a motor car.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Is it? How much does your soul eat?

ELLIE. Oh, a lot. It eats music and pictures and books and
mountains and lakes and beautiful things to wear and nice people
to be with. In this country you can't have them without lots of
money: that is why our souls are so horribly starved.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Mangan's soul lives on pig's food.

ELLIE. Yes: money is thrown away on him. I suppose his soul was
starved when he was young. But it will not be thrown away on me.
It is just because I want to save my soul that I am marrying for
money. All the women who are not fools do.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. There are other ways of getting money. Why
don't you steal it?

ELLIE. Because I don't want to go to prison.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Is that the only reason? Are you quite sure
honesty has nothing to do with it?

ELLIE. Oh, you are very very old-fashioned, Captain. Does any
modern girl believe that the legal and illegal ways of getting
money are the honest and dishonest ways? Mangan robbed my father
and my father's friends. I should rob all the money back from
Mangan if the police would let me. As they won't, I must get it
back by marrying him.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. I can't argue: I'm too old: my mind is made up
and finished. All I can tell you is that, old-fashioned or
new-fashioned, if you sell yourself, you deal your soul a blow
that all the books and pictures and concerts and scenery in the
world won't heal [he gets up suddenly and makes for the pantry].

ELLIE [running after him and seizing him by the sleeve]. Then why
did you sell yourself to the devil in Zanzibar?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [stopping, startled]. What?

ELLIE. You shall not run away before you answer. I have found out
that trick of yours. If you sold yourself, why shouldn't I?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. I had to deal with men so degraded that they
wouldn't obey me unless I swore at them and kicked them and beat
them with my fists. Foolish people took young thieves off the
streets; flung them into a training ship where they were taught
to fear the cane instead of fearing God; and thought they'd made
men and sailors of them by private subscription. I tricked these
thieves into believing I'd sold myself to the devil. It saved my
soul from the kicking and swearing that was damning me by inches.

ELLIE [releasing him]. I shall pretend to sell myself to Boss
Mangan to save my soul from the poverty that is damning me by

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Riches will damn you ten times deeper. Riches
won't save even your body.

ELLIE. Old-fashioned again. We know now that the soul is the
body, and the body the soul. They tell us they are different
because they want to persuade us that we can keep our souls if we
let them make slaves of our bodies. I am afraid you are no use to
me, Captain.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. What did you expect? A Savior, eh? Are you
old-fashioned enough to believe in that?

ELLIE. No. But I thought you were very wise, and might help me.
Now I have found you out. You pretend to be busy, and think of
fine things to say, and run in and out to surprise people by
saying them, and get away before they can answer you.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. It confuses me to be answered. It discourages
me. I cannot bear men and women. I have to run away. I must run
away now [he tries to].

ELLIE [again seizing his arm]. You shall not run away from me. I
can hypnotize you. You are the only person in the house I can say
what I like to. I know you are fond of me. Sit down. [She draws
him to the sofa].

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [yielding]. Take care: I am in my dotage. Old
men are dangerous: it doesn't matter to them what is going to
happen to the world.

They sit side by side on the sofa. She leans affectionately
against him with her head on his shoulder and her eyes half

ELLIE [dreamily]. I should have thought nothing else mattered to
old men. They can't be very interested in what is going to happen
to themselves.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. A man's interest in the world is only the
overflow from his interest in himself. When you are a child your
vessel is not yet full; so you care for nothing but your own
affairs. When you grow up, your vessel overflows; and you are a
politician, a philosopher, or an explorer and adventurer. In old
age the vessel dries up: there is no overflow: you are a child
again. I can give you the memories of my ancient wisdom: mere
scraps and leavings; but I no longer really care for anything but
my own little wants and hobbies. I sit here working out my old
ideas as a means of destroying my fellow-creatures. I see my
daughters and their men living foolish lives of romance and
sentiment and snobbery. I see you, the younger generation,
turning from their romance and sentiment and snobbery to money
and comfort and hard common sense. I was ten times happier on the
bridge in the typhoon, or frozen into Arctic ice for months in
darkness, than you or they have ever been. You are looking for a
rich husband. At your age I looked for hardship, danger, horror,
and death, that I might feel the life in me more intensely. I did
not let the fear of death govern my life; and my reward was, I
had my life. You are going to let the fear of poverty govern your
life; and your reward will be that you will eat, but you will not

ELLIE [sitting up impatiently]. But what can I do? I am not a sea
captain: I can't stand on bridges in typhoons, or go slaughtering
seals and whales in Greenland's icy mountains. They won't let
women be captains. Do you want me to be a stewardess?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. There are worse lives. The stewardesses could
come ashore if they liked; but they sail and sail and sail.

ELLIE. What could they do ashore but marry for money? I don't
want to be a stewardess: I am too bad a sailor. Think of
something else for me.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. I can't think so long and continuously. I am
too old. I must go in and out. [He tries to rise].

ELLIE [pulling him back]. You shall not. You are happy here,
aren't you?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. I tell you it's dangerous to keep me. I can't
keep awake and alert.

ELLIE. What do you run away for? To sleep?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. No. To get a glass of rum.

ELLIE [frightfully disillusioned]. Is that it? How disgusting! Do
you like being drunk?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. No: I dread being drunk more than anything in
the world. To be drunk means to have dreams; to go soft; to be
easily pleased and deceived; to fall into the clutches of women.
Drink does that for you when you are young. But when you are old:
very very old, like me, the dreams come by themselves. You don't
know how terrible that is: you are young: you sleep at night
only, and sleep soundly. But later on you will sleep in the
afternoon. Later still you will sleep even in the morning; and
you will awake tired, tired of life. You will never be free from
dozing and dreams; the dreams will steal upon your work every ten
minutes unless you can awaken yourself with rum. I drink now to
keep sober; but the dreams are conquering: rum is not what it
was: I have had ten glasses since you came; and it might be so
much water. Go get me another: Guinness knows where it is. You
had better see for yourself the horror of an old man drinking.

ELLIE. You shall not drink. Dream. I like you to dream. You must
never be in the real world when we talk together.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. I am too weary to resist, or too weak. I am in
my second childhood. I do not see you as you really are. I can't
remember what I really am. I feel nothing but the accursed
happiness I have dreaded all my life long: the happiness that
comes as life goes, the happiness of yielding and dreaming
instead of resisting and doing, the sweetness of the fruit that
is going rotten.

ELLIE. You dread it almost as much as I used to dread losing my
dreams and having to fight and do things. But that is all over
for me: my dreams are dashed to pieces. I should like to marry a
very old, very rich man. I should like to marry you. I had much
rather marry you than marry Mangan. Are you very rich?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. No. Living from hand to mouth. And I have a
wife somewhere in Jamaica: a black one. My first wife. Unless
she's dead.

ELLIE. What a pity! I feel so happy with you. [She takes his
hand, almost unconsciously, and pats it]. I thought I should
never feel happy again.


ELLIE. Don't you know?


ELLIE. Heartbreak. I fell in love with Hector, and didn't know he
was married.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Heartbreak? Are you one of those who are so
sufficient to themselves that they are only happy when they are
stripped of everything, even of hope?

ELLIE [gripping the hand]. It seems so; for I feel now as if
there was nothing I could not do, because I want nothing.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. That's the only real strength. That's genius.
That's better than rum.

ELLIE [throwing away his hand]. Rum! Why did you spoil it?

Hector and Randall come in from the garden through the starboard

HECTOR. I beg your pardon. We did not know there was anyone here.

ELLIE [rising]. That means that you want to tell Mr Randall the
story about the tiger. Come, Captain: I want to talk to my
father; and you had better come with me.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [rising]. Nonsense! the man is in bed.

ELLIE. Aha! I've caught you. My real father has gone to bed; but
the father you gave me is in the kitchen. You knew quite well all
along. Come. [She draws him out into the garden with her through
the port door].

HECTOR. That's an extraordinary girl. She has the Ancient Mariner
on a string like a Pekinese dog.

RANDALL. Now that they have gone, shall we have a friendly chat?

HECTOR. You are in what is supposed to be my house. I am at your

Hector sits down in the draughtsman's chair, turning it to face
Randall, who remains standing, leaning at his ease against the
carpenter's bench.

RANDALL. I take it that we may be quite frank. I mean about Lady

HECTOR. You may. I have nothing to be frank about. I never met
her until this afternoon.

RANDALL [straightening up]. What! But you are her sister's

HECTOR. Well, if you come to that, you are her husband's brother.

RANDALL. But you seem to be on intimate terms with her.

HECTOR. So do you.

RANDALL. Yes: but I AM on intimate terms with her. I have known
her for years.

HECTOR. It took her years to get to the same point with you that
she got to with me in five minutes, it seems.

RANDALL [vexed]. Really, Ariadne is the limit [he moves away
huffishly towards the windows].

HECTOR [coolly]. She is, as I remarked to Hesione, a very
enterprising woman.

RANDALL [returning, much troubled]. You see, Hushabye, you are
what women consider a good-looking man.

HECTOR. I cultivated that appearance in the days of my vanity;
and Hesione insists on my keeping it up. She makes me wear these
ridiculous things [indicating his Arab costume] because she
thinks me absurd in evening dress.

RANDALL. Still, you do keep it up, old chap. Now, I assure you I
have not an atom of jealousy in my disposition

HECTOR. The question would seem to be rather whether your brother
has any touch of that sort.

RANDALL. What! Hastings! Oh, don't trouble about Hastings. He has
the gift of being able to work sixteen hours a day at the dullest
detail, and actually likes it. That gets him to the top wherever
he goes. As long as Ariadne takes care that he is fed regularly,
he is only too thankful to anyone who will keep her in good humor
for him.

HECTOR. And as she has all the Shotover fascination, there is
plenty of competition for the job, eh?

RANDALL [angrily]. She encourages them. Her conduct is perfectly
scandalous. I assure you, my dear fellow, I haven't an atom of
jealousy in my composition; but she makes herself the talk of
every place she goes to by her thoughtlessness. It's nothing
more: she doesn't really care for the men she keeps hanging about
her; but how is the world to know that? It's not fair to
Hastings. It's not fair to me.

HECTOR. Her theory is that her conduct is so correct

RANDALL. Correct! She does nothing but make scenes from morning
till night. You be careful, old chap. She will get you into
trouble: that is, she would if she really cared for you.

HECTOR. Doesn't she?

RANDALL. Not a scrap. She may want your scalp to add to her
collection; but her true affection has been engaged years ago.
You had really better be careful.

HECTOR. Do you suffer much from this jealousy?

RANDALL. Jealousy! I jealous! My dear fellow, haven't I told you
that there is not an atom of--

HECTOR. Yes. And Lady Utterword told me she never made scenes.
Well, don't waste your jealousy on my moustache. Never waste
jealousy on a real man: it is the imaginary hero that supplants
us all in the long run. Besides, jealousy does not belong to your
easy man-of-the-world pose, which you carry so well in other

RANDALL. Really, Hushabye, I think a man may be allowed to be a
gentleman without being accused of posing.

HECTOR. It is a pose like any other. In this house we know all
the poses: our game is to find out the man under the pose. The
man under your pose is apparently Ellie's favorite, Othello.

RANDALL. Some of your games in this house are damned annoying,
let me tell you.

HECTOR. Yes: I have been their victim for many years. I used to
writhe under them at first; but I became accustomed to them. At
last I learned to play them.

RANDALL. If it's all the same to you I had rather you didn't play
them on me. You evidently don't quite understand my character, or
my notions of good form.

HECTOR. Is it your notion of good form to give away Lady

RANDALL [a childishly plaintive note breaking into his huff]. I
have not said a word against Lady Utterword. This is just the
conspiracy over again.

HECTOR. What conspiracy?

RANDALL. You know very well, sir. A conspiracy to make me out to
be pettish and jealous and childish and everything I am not.
Everyone knows I am just the opposite.

HECTOR [rising]. Something in the air of the house has upset you.
It often does have that effect. [He goes to the garden door and
calls Lady Utterword with commanding emphasis]. Ariadne!

LADY UTTERWORD [at some distance]. Yes.

RANDALL. What are you calling her for? I want to speak--

LADY UTTERWORD [arriving breathless]. Yes. You really are a
terribly commanding person. What's the matter?

HECTOR. I do not know how to manage your friend Randall. No doubt
you do.

LADY UTTERWORD. Randall: have you been making yourself
ridiculous, as usual? I can see it in your face. Really, you are
the most pettish creature.

RANDALL. You know quite well, Ariadne, that I have not an ounce
of pettishness in my disposition. I have made myself perfectly
pleasant here. I have remained absolutely cool and imperturbable
in the face of a burglar. Imperturbability is almost too strong a
point of mine. But [putting his foot down with a stamp, and
walking angrily up and down the room] I insist on being treated
with a certain consideration. I will not allow Hushabye to take
liberties with me. I will not stand your encouraging people as
you do.

HECTOR. The man has a rooted delusion that he is your husband.

LADY UTTERWORD. I know. He is jealous. As if he had any right to
be! He compromises me everywhere. He makes scenes all over the
place. Randall: I will not allow it. I simply will not allow it.
You had no right to discuss me with Hector. I will not be
discussed by men.

HECTOR. Be reasonable, Ariadne. Your fatal gift of beauty forces
men to discuss you.

LADY UTTERWORD. Oh indeed! what about YOUR fatal gift of beauty?

HECTOR. How can I help it?

LADY UTTERWORD. You could cut off your moustache: I can't cut off
my nose. I get my whole life messed up with people falling in
love with me. And then Randall says I run after men.


LADY UTTERWORD. Yes you do: you said it just now. Why can't you
think of something else than women? Napoleon was quite right when
he said that women are the occupation of the idle man. Well, if
ever there was an idle man on earth, his name is Randall

RANDALL. Ariad--

LADY UTTERWORD [overwhelming him with a torrent of words]. Oh yes
you are: it's no use denying it. What have you ever done? What
good are you? You are as much trouble in the house as a child of
three. You couldn't live without your valet.

RANDALL. This is--

LADY UTTERWORD. Laziness! You are laziness incarnate. You are
selfishness itself. You are the most uninteresting man on earth.
You can't even gossip about anything but yourself and your
grievances and your ailments and the people who have offended
you. [Turning to Hector]. Do you know what they call him, Hector?

HECTOR  }  [speaking   { Please don't tell me.
RANDALL }   together]  { I'll not stand it--

LADY UTTERWORD. Randall the Rotter: that is his name in good

RANDALL [shouting]. I'll not bear it, I tell you. Will you listen
to me, you infernal--[he chokes].

LADY UTTERWORD. Well: go on. What were you going to call me? An
infernal what? Which unpleasant animal is it to be this time?

RANDALL [foaming]. There is no animal in the world so hateful as
a woman can be. You are a maddening devil. Hushabye, you will not
believe me when I tell you that I have loved this demon all my
life; but God knows I have paid for it [he sits down in the
draughtsman's chair, weeping].

LADY UTTERWORD [standing over him with triumphant contempt].

HECTOR [gravely, coming to him]. My friend, the Shotover sisters
have two strange powers over men. They can make them love; and
they can make them cry. Thank your stars that you are not married
to one of them.

LADY UTTERWORD [haughtily]. And pray, Hector--

HECTOR [suddenly catching her round the shoulders: swinging her
right round him and away from Randall: and gripping her throat
with the other hand]. Ariadne, if you attempt to start on me,
I'll choke you: do you hear? The cat-and-mouse game with the
other sex is a good game; but I can play your head off at it. [He
throws her, not at all gently, into the big chair, and proceeds,
less fiercely but firmly]. It is true that Napoleon said that
woman is the occupation of the idle man. But he added that she is
the relaxation of the warrior. Well, I am the warrior. So take

LADY UTTERWORD [not in the least put out, and rather pleased by
his violence]. My dear Hector, I have only done what you asked me
to do.

HECTOR. How do you make that out, pray?

LADY UTTERWORD. You called me in to manage Randall, didn't you?
You said you couldn't manage him yourself.

HECTOR. Well, what if I did? I did not ask you to drive the man

LADY UTTERWORD. He isn't mad. That's the way to manage him. If
you were a mother, you'd understand.

HECTOR. Mother! What are you up to now?

LADY UTTERWORD. It's quite simple. When the children got nerves
and were naughty, I smacked them just enough to give them a good
cry and a healthy nervous shock. They went to sleep and were
quite good afterwards. Well, I can't smack Randall: he is too
big; so when he gets nerves and is naughty, I just rag him till
he cries. He will be all right now. Look: he is half asleep
already [which is quite true].

RANDALL [waking up indignantly]. I'm not. You are most cruel,
Ariadne. [Sentimentally]. But I suppose I must forgive you, as
usual [he checks himself in the act of yawning].

LADY UTTERWORD [to Hector]. Is the explanation satisfactory,
dread warrior?

HECTOR. Some day I shall kill you, if you go too far. I thought
you were a fool.

LADY UTTERWORD [laughing]. Everybody does, at first. But I am not
such a fool as I look. [She rises complacently]. Now, Randall, go
to bed. You will be a good boy in the morning.

RANDALL [only very faintly rebellious]. I'll go to bed when I
like. It isn't ten yet.

LADY UTTERWORD. It is long past ten. See that he goes to bed at
once, Hector. [She goes into the garden].

HECTOR. Is there any slavery on earth viler than this slavery of
men to women?

RANDALL [rising resolutely]. I'll not speak to her tomorrow. I'll
not speak to her for another week. I'll give her such a lesson.
I'll go straight to bed without bidding her good-night. [He makes
for the door leading to the hall].

HECTOR. You are under a spell, man. Old Shotover sold himself to
the devil in Zanzibar. The devil gave him a black witch for a
wife; and these two demon daughters are their mystical progeny. I
am tied to Hesione's apron-string; but I'm her husband; and if I
did go stark staring mad about her, at least we became man and
wife. But why should you let yourself be dragged about and beaten
by Ariadne as a toy donkey is dragged about and beaten by a
child? What do you get by it? Are you her lover?

RANDALL. You must not misunderstand me. In a higher sense--in a
Platonic sense--

HECTOR. Psha! Platonic sense! She makes you her servant; and when
pay-day comes round, she bilks you: that is what you mean.

RANDALL [feebly]. Well, if I don't mind, I don't see what
business it is of yours. Besides, I tell you I am going to punish
her. You shall see: I know how to deal with women. I'm really
very sleepy. Say good-night to Mrs Hushabye for me, will you,
like a good chap. Good-night. [He hurries out].

HECTOR. Poor wretch! Oh women! women! women! [He lifts his fists
in invocation to heaven]. Fall. Fall and crush. [He goes out into
the garden].


In the garden, Hector, as he comes out through the glass door of
the poop, finds Lady Utterword lying voluptuously in the hammock
on the east side of the flagstaff, in the circle of light cast by
the electric arc, which is like a moon in its opal globe. Beneath
the head of the hammock, a campstool. On the other side of the
flagstaff, on the long garden seat, Captain Shotover is asleep,
with Ellie beside him, leaning affectionately against him on his
right hand. On his left is a deck chair. Behind them in the
gloom, Hesione is strolling about with Mangan. It is a fine still
night, moonless.

LADY UTTERWORD. What a lovely night! It seems made for us.

HECTOR. The night takes no interest in us. What are we to the
night? [He sits down moodily in the deck chair].

ELLIE [dreamily, nestling against the captain]. Its beauty soaks
into my nerves. In the night there is peace for the old and hope
for the young.

HECTOR. Is that remark your own?

ELLIE. No. Only the last thing the captain said before he went to

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. I'm not asleep.

HECTOR. Randall is. Also Mr Mazzini Dunn. Mangan, too, probably.


HECTOR. Oh, you are there. I thought Hesione would have sent you
to bed by this time.

MRS HUSHABYE [coming to the back of the garden seat, into the
light, with Mangan]. I think I shall. He keeps telling me he has
a presentiment that he is going to die. I never met a man so
greedy for sympathy.

MANGAN [plaintively]. But I have a presentiment. I really have.
And you wouldn't listen.

MRS HUSHABYE. I was listening for something else. There was a
sort of splendid drumming in the sky. Did none of you hear it? It
came from a distance and then died away.

MANGAN. I tell you it was a train.

MRS HUSHABYE. And I tell you, Alf, there is no train at this
hour. The last is nine forty-five.

MANGAN. But a goods train.

MRS HUSHABYE. Not on our little line. They tack a truck on to the
passenger train. What can it have been, Hector?

HECTOR. Heaven's threatening growl of disgust at us useless
futile creatures. [Fiercely]. I tell you, one of two things must
happen. Either out of that darkness some new creation will come
to supplant us as we have supplanted the animals, or the heavens
will fall in thunder and destroy us.

LADY UTTERWORD [in a cool instructive manner, wallowing
comfortably in her hammock]. We have not supplanted the animals,
Hector. Why do you ask heaven to destroy this house, which could
be made quite comfortable if Hesione had any notion of how to
live? Don't you know what is wrong with it?

HECTOR. We are wrong with it. There is no sense in us. We are
useless, dangerous, and ought to be abolished.

LADY UTTERWORD. Nonsense! Hastings told me the very first day he
came here, nearly twenty-four years ago, what is wrong with the

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. What! The numskull said there was something
wrong with my house!

LADY UTTERWORD. I said Hastings said it; and he is not in the
least a numskull.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. What's wrong with my house?

LADY UTTERWORD. Just what is wrong with a ship, papa. Wasn't it
clever of Hastings to see that?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. The man's a fool. There's nothing wrong with a

LADY UTTERWORD. Yes, there is.

MRS HUSHABYE. But what is it? Don't be aggravating, Addy.


HECTOR. Demons. Daughters of the witch of Zanzibar. Demons.

LADY UTTERWORD. Not a bit. I assure you, all this house needs to
make it a sensible, healthy, pleasant house, with good appetites
and sound sleep in it, is horses.

MRS HUSHABYE. Horses! What rubbish!

LADY UTTERWORD. Yes: horses. Why have we never been able to let
this house? Because there are no proper stables. Go anywhere in
England where there are natural, wholesome, contented, and really
nice English people; and what do you always find? That the
stables are the real centre of the household; and that if any
visitor wants to play the piano the whole room has to be upset
before it can be opened, there are so many things piled on it. I
never lived until I learned to ride; and I shall never ride
really well because I didn't begin as a child. There are only two
classes in good society in England: the equestrian classes and
the neurotic classes. It isn't mere convention: everybody can see
that the people who hunt are the right people and the people who
don't are the wrong ones.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. There is some truth in this. My ship made a man
of me; and a ship is the horse of the sea.

LADY UTTERWORD. Exactly how Hastings explained your being a

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Not bad for a numskull. Bring the man here with
you next time: I must talk to him.

LADY UTTERWORD. Why is Randall such an obvious rotter? He is well
bred; he has been at a public school and a university; he has
been in the Foreign Office; he knows the best people and has
lived all his life among them. Why is he so unsatisfactory, so
contemptible? Why can't he get a valet to stay with him longer
than a few months? Just because he is too lazy and
pleasure-loving to hunt and shoot. He strums the piano, and
sketches, and runs after married women, and reads literary books
and poems. He actually plays the flute; but I never let him bring
it into my house. If he would only--[she is interrupted by the
melancholy strains of a flute coming from an open window above.
She raises herself indignantly in the hammock]. Randall, you have
not gone to bed. Have you been listening? [The flute replies
pertly]. How vulgar! Go to bed instantly, Randall: how dare you?
[The window is slammed down. She subsides]. How can anyone care
for such a creature!

MRS HUSHABYE. Addy: do you think Ellie ought to marry poor Alfred
merely for his money?

MANGAN [much alarmed]. What's that? Mrs Hushabye, are my affairs
to be discussed like this before everybody?

LADY UTTERWORD. I don't think Randall is listening now.

MANGAN. Everybody is listening. It isn't right.

MRS HUSHABYE. But in the dark, what does it matter? Ellie doesn't
mind. Do you, Ellie?

ELLIE. Not in the least. What is your opinion, Lady Utterword?
You have so much good sense.

MANGAN. But it isn't right. It--[Mrs Hushabye puts her hand on
his mouth]. Oh, very well.

LADY UTTERWORD. How much money have you, Mr. Mangan?

MANGAN. Really--No: I can't stand this.

LADY UTTERWORD. Nonsense, Mr Mangan! It all turns on your income,
doesn't it?

MANGAN. Well, if you come to that, how much money has she?

ELLIE. None.

LADY UTTERWORD. You are answered, Mr Mangan. And now, as you have
made Miss Dunn throw her cards on the table, you cannot refuse to
show your own.

MRS HUSHABYE. Come, Alf! out with it! How much?

MANGAN [baited out of all prudence]. Well, if you want to know, I
have no money and never had any.

MRS HUSHABYE. Alfred, you mustn't tell naughty stories.

MANGAN. I'm not telling you stories. I'm telling you the raw

LADY UTTERWORD. Then what do you live on, Mr Mangan?

MANGAN. Travelling expenses. And a trifle of commission.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. What more have any of us but travelling
expenses for our life's journey?

MRS HUSHABYE. But you have factories and capital and things?

MANGAN. People think I have. People think I'm an industrial
Napoleon. That's why Miss Ellie wants to marry me. But I tell you
I have nothing.

ELLIE. Do you mean that the factories are like Marcus's tigers?
That they don't exist?

MANGAN. They exist all right enough. But they're not mine. They
belong to syndicates and shareholders and all sorts of lazy
good-for-nothing capitalists. I get money from such people to
start the factories. I find people like Miss Dunn's father to
work them, and keep a tight hand so as to make them pay. Of
course I make them keep me going pretty well; but it's a dog's
life; and I don't own anything.

MRS HUSHABYE. Alfred, Alfred, you are making a poor mouth of it
to get out of marrying Ellie.

MANGAN. I'm telling the truth about my money for the first time
in my life; and it's the first time my word has ever been

LADY UTTERWORD. How sad! Why don't you go in for politics, Mr

MANGAN. Go in for politics! Where have you been living? I am in

LADY UTTERWORD. I'm sure I beg your pardon. I never heard of you.

MANGAN. Let me tell you, Lady Utterword, that the Prime Minister
of this country asked me to join the Government without even
going through the nonsense of an election, as the dictator of a
great public department.

LADY UTTERWORD. As a Conservative or a Liberal?

MANGAN. No such nonsense. As a practical business man. [They all
burst out laughing]. What are you all laughing at?

MRS HUSHARYE. Oh, Alfred, Alfred!

ELLIE. You! who have to get my father to do everything for you!

MRS HUSHABYE. You! who are afraid of your own workmen!

HECTOR. You! with whom three women have been playing cat and
mouse all the evening!

LADY UTTERWORD. You must have given an immense sum to the party
funds, Mr Mangan.

MANGAN. Not a penny out of my own pocket. The syndicate found the
money: they knew how useful I should be to them in the

LADY UTTERWORD. This is most interesting and unexpected, Mr
Mangan. And what have your administrative achievements been, so

MANGAN. Achievements? Well, I don't know what you call
achievements; but I've jolly well put a stop to the games of the
other fellows in the other departments. Every man of them thought
he was going to save the country all by himself, and do me out of
the credit and out of my chance of a title. I took good care that
if they wouldn't let me do it they shouldn't do it themselves
either. I may not know anything about my own machinery; but I
know how to stick a ramrod into the other fellow's. And now they
all look the biggest fools going.

HECTOR. And in heaven's name, what do you look like?

MANGAN. I look like the fellow that was too clever for all the
others, don't I? If that isn't a triumph of practical business,
what is?

HECTOR. Is this England, or is it a madhouse?

LADY UTTERWORD. Do you expect to save the country, Mr Mangan?

MANGAN. Well, who else will? Will your Mr Randall save it?

LADY UTTERWORD. Randall the rotter! Certainly not.

MANGAN. Will your brother-in-law save it with his moustache and
his fine talk?

HECTOR. Yes, if they will let me.

MANGAN [sneering]. Ah! Will they let you?

HECTOR. No. They prefer you.

MANGAN. Very well then, as you're in a world where I'm
appreciated and you're not, you'd best be civil to me, hadn't
you? Who else is there but me?

LADY UTTERWORD. There is Hastings. Get rid of your ridiculous
sham democracy; and give Hastings the necessary powers, and a
good supply of bamboo to bring the British native to his senses:
he will save the country with the greatest ease.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. It had better be lost. Any fool can govern with
a stick in his hand. I could govern that way. It is not God's
way. The man is a numskull.

LADY UTTERWORD. The man is worth all of you rolled into one. What
do you say, Miss Dunn?

ELLIE. I think my father would do very well if people did not put
upon him and cheat him and despise him because he is so good.

MANGAN [contemptuously]. I think I see Mazzini Dunn getting into
parliament or pushing his way into the Government. We've not come
to that yet, thank God! What do you say, Mrs Hushabye?

MRS HUSHABYE. Oh, I say it matters very little which of you
governs the country so long as we govern you.

HECTOR. We? Who is we, pray?

MRS HUSHABYE. The devil's granddaughters, dear. The lovely women.

HECTOR [raising his hands as before]. Fall, I say, and deliver us
from the lures of Satan!

ELLIE. There seems to be nothing real in the world except my
father and Shakespeare. Marcus's tigers are false; Mr Mangan's
millions are false; there is nothing really strong and true about
Hesione but her beautiful black hair; and Lady Utterword's is too
pretty to be real. The one thing that was left to me was the
Captain's seventh degree of concentration; and that turns out to


LADY UTTERWORD [placidly]. A good deal of my hair is quite
genuine. The Duchess of Dithering offered me fifty guineas for
this [touching her forehead] under the impression that it was a
transformation; but it is all natural except the color.

MANGAN [wildly]. Look here: I'm going to take off all my clothes
[he begins tearing off his coat].

LADY UTTERWORD.  }    [in     { Mr. Mangan!
CAPTAIN SHOTOVER } consterna- { What's that?
HECTOR.          }    tion]   { Ha! Ha! Do. Do
ELLIE            }            { Please don't.

MRS HUSHABYE [catching his arm and stopping him]. Alfred, for
shame! Are you mad?

MANGAN. Shame! What shame is there in this house? Let's all strip
stark naked. We may as well do the thing thoroughly when we're
about it. We've stripped ourselves morally naked: well, let us
strip ourselves physically naked as well, and see how we like it.
I tell you I can't bear this. I was brought up to be respectable.
I don't mind the women dyeing their hair and the men drinking:
it's human nature. But it's not human nature to tell everybody
about it. Every time one of you opens your mouth I go like this
[he cowers as if to avoid a missile], afraid of what will come
next. How are we to have any self-respect if we don't keep it up
that we're better than we really are?

LADY UTTERWORD. I quite sympathize with you, Mr Mangan. I have
been through it all; and I know by experience that men and women
are delicate plants and must be cultivated under glass. Our
family habit of throwing stones in all directions and letting the
air in is not only unbearably rude, but positively dangerous.
Still, there is no use catching physical colds as well as moral
ones; so please keep your clothes on.

MANGAN. I'll do as I like: not what you tell me. Am I a child or
a grown man? I won't stand this mothering tyranny. I'll go back
to the city, where I'm respected and made much of.

MRS HUSHABYE. Goodbye, Alf. Think of us sometimes in the city.
Think of Ellie's youth!

ELLIE. Think of Hesione's eyes and hair!

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Think of this garden in which you are not a dog
barking to keep the truth out!

HECTOR. Think of Lady Utterword's beauty! her good sense! her

LADY UTTERWORD. Flatterer. Think, Mr. Mangan, whether you can
really do any better for yourself elsewhere: that is the
essential point, isn't it?

MANGAN [surrendering]. All right: all right. I'm done. Have it
your own way. Only let me alone. I don't know whether I'm on my
head or my heels when you all start on me like this. I'll stay.
I'll marry her. I'll do anything for a quiet life. Are you
satisfied now?

ELLIE. No. I never really intended to make you marry me, Mr
Mangan. Never in the depths of my soul. I only wanted to feel my
strength: to know that you could not escape if I chose to take

MANGAN [indignantly]. What! Do you mean to say you are going to
throw me over after my acting so handsome?

LADY UTTERWORD. I should not be too hasty, Miss Dunn. You can
throw Mr Mangan over at any time up to the last moment. Very few
men in his position go bankrupt. You can live very comfortably on
his reputation for immense wealth.

ELLIE. I cannot commit bigamy, Lady Utterword.

MRS HUSHABYE.  }              { Bigamy! Whatever on earth are you
               }              {  talking about, Ellie?
LADY UTTERWORD } [exclaiming  { Bigamy! What do you mean, Miss
               }              {  Dunn?
MANGAN         }  altogether] { Bigamy! Do you mean to say you're
               }              {  married already?
HECTOR         }              { Bigamy! This is some enigma.

ELLIE. Only half an hour ago I became Captain Shotover's white

MRS HUSHABYE. Ellie! What nonsense! Where?

ELLIE. In heaven, where all true marriages are made.

LADY UTTERWORD. Really, Miss Dunn! Really, papa!

MANGAN. He told me I was too old! And him a mummy!

HECTOR [quoting Shelley].

"Their altar the grassy earth outspreads
 And their priest the muttering wind."

ELLIE. Yes: I, Ellie Dunn, give my broken heart and my strong
sound soul to its natural captain, my spiritual husband and
second father.

She draws the captain's arm through hers, and pats his hand. The
captain remains fast asleep.

MRS HUSHABYE. Oh, that's very clever of you, pettikins. Very
clever. Alfred, you could never have lived up to Ellie. You must
be content with a little share of me.

MANGAN [snifflng and wiping his eyes]. It isn't kind--[his
emotion chokes him].

LADY UTTERWORD. You are well out of it, Mr Mangan. Miss Dunn is
the most conceited young woman I have met since I came back to

MRS HUSHABYE. Oh, Ellie isn't conceited. Are you, pettikins?

ELLIE. I know my strength now, Hesione.

MANGAN. Brazen, I call you. Brazen.

MRS HUSHABYE. Tut, tut, Alfred: don't be rude. Don't you feel how
lovely this marriage night is, made in heaven? Aren't you happy,
you and Hector? Open your eyes: Addy and Ellie look beautiful
enough to please the most fastidious man: we live and love and
have not a care in the world. We women have managed all that for
you. Why in the name of common sense do you go on as if you were
two miserable wretches?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. I tell you happiness is no good. You can be
happy when you are only half alive. I am happier now I am half
dead than ever I was in my prime. But there is no blessing on my

ELLIE [her face lighting up]. Life with a blessing! that is what
I want. Now I know the real reason why I couldn't marry Mr
Mangan: there would be no blessing on our marriage. There is a
blessing on my broken heart. There is a blessing on your beauty,
Hesione. There is a blessing on your father's spirit. Even on the
lies of Marcus there is a blessing; but on Mr Mangan's money
there is none.

MANGAN. I don't understand a word of that.

ELLIE. Neither do I. But I know it means something.

MANGAN. Don't say there was any difficulty about the blessing. I
was ready to get a bishop to marry us.

MRS HUSHABYE. Isn't he a fool, pettikins?

HECTOR [fiercely]. Do not scorn the man. We are all fools.

Mazzini, in pyjamas and a richly colored silk dressing gown,
comes from the house, on Lady Utterword's side.

MRS HUSHABYE. Oh! here comes the only man who ever resisted me.
What's the matter, Mr Dunn? Is the house on fire?

MAZZINI. Oh, no: nothing's the matter: but really it's impossible
to go to sleep with such an interesting conversation going on
under one's window, and on such a beautiful night too. I just had
to come down and join you all. What has it all been about?

MRS HUSHABYE. Oh, wonderful things, soldier of freedom.

HECTOR. For example, Mangan, as a practical business man, has
tried to undress himself and has failed ignominiously; whilst
you, as an idealist, have succeeded brilliantly.

MAZZINI. I hope you don't mind my being like this, Mrs Hushabye.
[He sits down on the campstool].

MRS HUSHABYE. On the contrary, I could wish you always like that.

LADY UTTERWORD. Your daughter's match is off, Mr Dunn. It seems
that Mr Mangan, whom we all supposed to be a man of property,
owns absolutely nothing.

MAZZINI. Well, of course I knew that, Lady Utterword. But if
people believe in him and are always giving him money, whereas
they don't believe in me and never give me any, how can I ask
poor Ellie to depend on what I can do for her?

MANGAN. Don't you run away with this idea that I have nothing.

HECTOR. Oh, don't explain. We understand. You have a couple of
thousand pounds in exchequer bills, 50,000 shares worth tenpence
a dozen, and half a dozen tabloids of cyanide of potassium to
poison yourself with when you are found out. That's the reality
of your millions.

MAZZINI. Oh no, no, no. He is quite honest: the businesses are
genuine and perfectly legal.

HECTOR [disgusted]. Yah! Not even a great swindler!

MANGAN. So you think. But I've been too many for some honest men,
for all that.

LADY UTTERWORD. There is no pleasing you, Mr Mangan. You are
determined to be neither rich nor poor, honest nor dishonest.

MANGAN. There you go again. Ever since I came into this silly
house I have been made to look like a fool, though I'm as good a
man in this house as in the city.

ELLIE [musically]. Yes: this silly house, this strangely happy
house, this agonizing house, this house without foundations. I
shall call it Heartbreak House.

MRS HUSHABYE. Stop, Ellie; or I shall howl like an animal.

MANGAN [breaks into a low snivelling]!!!

MRS HUSAHBYE. There! you have set Alfred off.

ELLIE. I like him best when he is howling.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Silence! [Mangan subsides into silence]. I say,
let the heart break in silence.

HECTOR. Do you accept that name for your house?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. It is not my house: it is only my kennel.

HECTOR. We have been too long here. We do not live in this house:
we haunt it.

LADY UTTERWORD [heart torn]. It is dreadful to think how you have
been here all these years while I have gone round the world. I
escaped young; but it has drawn me back. It wants to break my
heart too. But it shan't. I have left you and it behind. It was
silly of me to come back. I felt sentimental about papa and
Hesione and the old place. I felt them calling to me.

MAZZINI. But what a very natural and kindly and charming human
feeling, Lady Utterword!

LADY UTTERWORD. So I thought, Mr Dunn. But I know now that it was
only the last of my influenza. I found that I was not remembered
and not wanted.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. You left because you did not want us. Was there
no heartbreak in that for your father? You tore yourself up by
the roots; and the ground healed up and brought forth fresh
plants and forgot you. What right had you to come back and probe
old wounds?

MRS HUSHABYE. You were a complete stranger to me at first, Addy;
but now I feel as if you had never been away.

LADY UTTERWORD. Thank you, Hesione; but the influenza is quite
cured. The place may be Heartbreak House to you, Miss Dunn, and
to this gentleman from the city who seems to have so little
self-control; but to me it is only a very ill-regulated and
rather untidy villa without any stables.

HECTOR. Inhabited by--?

ELLIE. A crazy old sea captain and a young singer who adores him.

MRS HUSHABYE. A sluttish female, trying to stave off a double
chin and an elderly spread, vainly wooing a born soldier of

MAZZINI. Oh, really, Mrs Hushabye--

MANGAN. A member of His Majesty's Government that everybody sets
down as a nincompoop: don't forget him, Lady Utterword.

LADY UTTERWORD. And a very fascinating gentleman whose chief
occupation is to be married to my sister.

HECTOR. All heartbroken imbeciles.

MAZZINI. Oh no. Surely, if I may say so, rather a favorable
specimen of what is best in our English culture. You are very
charming people, most advanced, unprejudiced, frank, humane,
unconventional, democratic, free-thinking, and everything that is
delightful to thoughtful people.

MRS HUSHABYE. You do us proud, Mazzini.

MAZZINI. I am not flattering, really. Where else could I feel
perfectly at ease in my pyjamas? I sometimes dream that I am in
very distinguished society, and suddenly I have nothing on but my
pyjamas! Sometimes I haven't even pyjamas. And I always feel
overwhelmed with confusion. But here, I don't mind in the least:
it seems quite natural.

LADY UTTERWORD. An infallible sign that you are now not in really
distinguished society, Mr Dunn. If you were in my house, you
would feel embarrassed.

MAZZINI. I shall take particular care to keep out of your house,
Lady Utterword.

LADY UTTERWORD. You will be quite wrong, Mr Dunn. I should make
you very comfortable; and you would not have the trouble and
anxiety of wondering whether you should wear your purple and gold
or your green and crimson dressing-gown at dinner. You complicate
life instead of simplifying it by doing these ridiculous things.

ELLIE. Your house is not Heartbreak House: is it, Lady Utterword?

HECTOR. Yet she breaks hearts, easy as her house is. That poor
devil upstairs with his flute howls when she twists his heart,
just as Mangan howls when my wife twists his.

LADY UTTERWORD. That is because Randall has nothing to do but
have his heart broken. It is a change from having his head
shampooed. Catch anyone breaking Hastings' heart!

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. The numskull wins, after all.

LADY UTTERWORD. I shall go back to my numskull with the greatest
satisfaction when I am tired of you all, clever as you are.

MANGAN [huffily]. I never set up to be clever.

LADY UTTERWORD. I forgot you, Mr Mangan.

MANGAN. Well, I don't see that quite, either.

LADY UTTERWORD. You may not be clever, Mr Mangan; but you are

MANGAN. But I don't want to be regarded merely as a successful
man. I have an imagination like anyone else. I have a

MRS HUSHABYE. Oh, you are impossible, Alfred. Here I am devoting
myself to you; and you think of nothing but your ridiculous
presentiment. You bore me. Come and talk poetry to me under the
stars. [She drags him away into the darkness].

MANGAN [tearfully, as he disappears]. Yes: it's all very well to
make fun of me; but if you only knew--

HECTOR [impatiently]. How is all this going to end?

MAZZINI. It won't end, Mr Hushabye. Life doesn't end: it goes on.

ELLIE. Oh, it can't go on forever. I'm always expecting
something. I don't know what it is; but life must come to a point

LADY UTTERWORD. The point for a young woman of your age is a

HECTOR. Yes, but, damn it, I have the same feeling; and I can't
have a baby.

LADY UTTERWORD. By deputy, Hector.

HECTOR. But I have children. All that is over and done with for
me: and yet I too feel that this can't last. We sit here talking,
and leave everything to Mangan and to chance and to the devil.
Think of the powers of destruction that Mangan and his mutual
admiration gang wield! It's madness: it's like giving a torpedo
to a badly brought up child to play at earthquakes with.

MAZZINI. I know. I used often to think about that when I was

HECTOR. Think! What's the good of thinking about it? Why didn't
you do something?

MAZZINI. But I did. I joined societies and made speeches and
wrote pamphlets. That was all I could do. But, you know, though
the people in the societies thought they knew more than Mangan,
most of them wouldn't have joined if they had known as much. You
see they had never had any money to handle or any men to manage.
Every year I expected a revolution, or some frightful smash-up:
it seemed impossible that we could blunder and muddle on any
longer. But nothing happened, except, of course, the usual
poverty and crime and drink that we are used to. Nothing ever
does happen. It's amazing how well we get along, all things

LADY UTTERWORD. Perhaps somebody cleverer than you and Mr Mangan
was at work all the time.

MAZZINI. Perhaps so. Though I was brought up not to believe in
anything, I often feel that there is a great deal to be said for
the theory of an over-ruling Providence, after all.

LADY UTTERWORD. Providence! I meant Hastings.

MAZZINI. Oh, I beg your pardon, Lady Utterword.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Every drunken skipper trusts to Providence. But
one of the ways of Providence with drunken skippers is to run
them on the rocks.

MAZZINI. Very true, no doubt, at sea. But in politics, I assure
you, they only run into jellyfish. Nothing happens.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. At sea nothing happens to the sea. Nothing
happens to the sky. The sun comes up from the east and goes down
to the west. The moon grows from a sickle to an arc lamp, and
comes later and later until she is lost in the light as other
things are lost in the darkness. After the typhoon, the
flying-fish glitter in the sunshine like birds. It's amazing how
they get along, all things considered. Nothing happens, except
something not worth mentioning.

ELLIE. What is that, O Captain, O my captain?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [savagely]. Nothing but the smash of the drunken
skipper's ship on the rocks, the splintering of her rotten
timbers, the tearing of her rusty plates, the drowning of the
crew like rats in a trap.

ELLIE. Moral: don't take rum.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER [vehemently]. That is a lie, child. Let a man
drink ten barrels of rum a day, he is not a drunken skipper until
he is a drifting skipper. Whilst he can lay his course and stand
on his bridge and steer it, he is no drunkard. It is the man who
lies drinking in his bunk and trusts to Providence that I call
the drunken skipper, though he drank nothing but the waters of
the River Jordan.

ELLIE. Splendid! And you haven't had a drop for an hour. You see
you don't need it: your own spirit is not dead.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Echoes: nothing but echoes. The last shot was
fired years ago.

HECTOR. And this ship that we are all in? This soul's prison we
call England?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. The captain is in his bunk, drinking bottled
ditch-water; and the crew is gambling in the forecastle. She will
strike and sink and split. Do you think the laws of God will be
suspended in favor of England because you were born in it?

HECTOR. Well, I don't mean to be drowned like a rat in a trap. I
still have the will to live. What am I to do?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Do? Nothing simpler. Learn your business as an

HECTOR. And what may my business as an Englishman be, pray?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Navigation. Learn it and live; or leave it and
be damned.

ELLIE. Quiet, quiet: you'll tire yourself.

MAZZINI. I thought all that once, Captain; but I assure you
nothing will happen.

A dull distant explosion is heard.

HECTOR [starting up]. What was that?

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Something happening [he blows his whistle].
Breakers ahead!

The light goes out.

HECTOR [furiously]. Who put that light out? Who dared put that
light out?

NURSE GUINNESS [running in from the house to the middle of the
esplanade]. I did, sir. The police have telephoned to say we'll
be summoned if we don't put that light out: it can be seen for

HECTOR. It shall be seen for a hundred miles [he dashes into the

NURSE GUINNESS. The Rectory is nothing but a heap of bricks, they
say. Unless we can give the Rector a bed he has nowhere to lay
his head this night.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. The Church is on the rocks, breaking up. I told
him it would unless it headed for God's open sea.

NURSE GUINNESS. And you are all to go down to the cellars.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Go there yourself, you and all the crew. Batten
down the hatches.

NURSE GUINNESS. And hide beside the coward I married! I'll go on
the roof first. [The lamp lights up again]. There! Mr Hushabye's
turned it on again.

THE BURGLAR [hurrying in and appealing to Nurse Guinness]. Here:
where's the way to that gravel pit? The boot-boy says there's a
cave in the gravel pit. Them cellars is no use. Where's the
gravel pit, Captain?

NURSE GUINNESS. Go straight on past the flagstaff until you fall
into it and break your dirty neck. [She pushes him contemptuously
towards the flagstaff, and herself goes to the foot of the
hammock and waits there, as it were by Ariadne's cradle].

Another and louder explosion is heard. The burglar stops and
stands trembling.

ELLIE [rising]. That was nearer.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. The next one will get us. [He rises]. Stand by,
all hands, for judgment.

THE BURGLAR. Oh my Lordy God! [He rushes away frantically past
the flagstaff into the gloom].

MRS HUSHABYE [emerging panting from the darkness]. Who was that
running away? [She comes to Ellie]. Did you hear the explosions?
And the sound in the sky: it's splendid: it's like an orchestra:
it's like Beethoven.

ELLIE. By thunder, Hesione: it is Beethoven.

She and Hesione throw themselves into one another's arms in wild
excitement. The light increases.

MAZZINI [anxiously]. The light is getting brighter.

NURSE GUINNESS [looking up at the house]. It's Mr Hushabye
turning on all the lights in the house and tearing down the

RANDALL [rushing in in his pyjamas, distractedly waving a flute].
Ariadne, my soul, my precious, go down to the cellars: I beg and
implore you, go down to the cellars!

LADY UTTERWORD [quite composed in her hammock]. The governor's
wife in the cellars with the servants! Really, Randall!

RANDALL. But what shall I do if you are killed?

LADY UTTERWORD. You will probably be killed, too, Randall. Now
play your flute to show that you are not afraid; and be good.
Play us "Keep the home fires burning."

NURSE GUINNESS [grimly]. THEY'LL keep the home fires burning for
us: them up there.

RANDALL [having tried to play]. My lips are trembling. I can't
get a sound.

MAZZINI. I hope poor Mangan is safe.

MRS HUSHABYE. He is hiding in the cave in the gravel pit.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. My dynamite drew him there. It is the hand of

HECTOR [returning from the house and striding across to his
former place]. There is not half light enough. We should be
blazing to the skies.

ELLIE [tense with excitement]. Set fire to the house, Marcus.

MRS HUSHABYE. My house! No.

HECTOR. I thought of that; but it would not be ready in time.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. The judgment has come. Courage will not save
you; but it will show that your souls are still live.

MRS HUSHABYE. Sh-sh! Listen: do you hear it now? It's

They all turn away from the house and look up, listening.

HECTOR [gravely]. Miss Dunn, you can do no good here. We of this
house are only moths flying into the candle. You had better go
down to the cellar.

ELLIE [scornfully]. I don't think.

MAZZINI. Ellie, dear, there is no disgrace in going to the
cellar. An officer would order his soldiers to take cover. Mr
Hushabye is behaving like an amateur. Mangan and the burglar are
acting very sensibly; and it is they who will survive.

ELLIE. Let them. I shall behave like an amateur. But why should
you run any risk?

MAZZINI. Think of the risk those poor fellows up there are

NURSE GUINNESS. Think of them, indeed, the murdering blackguards!
What next?

A terrific explosion shakes the earth. They reel back into their
seats, or clutch the nearest support. They hear the falling of
the shattered glass from the windows.

MAZZINI. Is anyone hurt?

HECTOR. Where did it fall?

NURSE GUINNESS [in hideous triumph]. Right in the gravel pit: I
seen it. Serve un right! I seen it [she runs away towards the
gravel pit, laughing harshly].

HECTOR. One husband gone.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Thirty pounds of good dynamite wasted.

MAZZINI. Oh, poor Mangan!

HECTOR. Are you immortal that you need pity him? Our turn next.

They wait in silence and intense expectation. Hesione and Ellie
hold each other's hand tight.

A distant explosion is heard.

MRS HUSHABYE [relaxing her grip]. Oh! they have passed us.

LADY UTTERWORD. The danger is over, Randall. Go to bed.

CAPTAIN SHOTOVER. Turn in, all hands. The ship is safe. [He sits
down and goes asleep].

ELLIE [disappointedly]. Safe!

HECTOR [disgustedly]. Yes, safe. And how damnably dull the world
has become again suddenly! [he sits down].

MAZZINI [sitting down]. I was quite wrong, after all. It is we
who have survived; and Mangan and the burglar-

HECTOR. --the two burglars--

LADY UTTERWORD. --the two practical men of business--

MAZZINI. --both gone. And the poor clergyman will have to get a
new house.

MRS HUSHABYE. But what a glorious experience! I hope they'll come
again tomorrow night.

ELLIE [radiant at the prospect]. Oh, I hope so.

Randall at last succeeds in keeping the home fires burning on his flute.

End of Project Gutenberg Etext of Heartbreak House, by George Bernard Shaw


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