MR. BARLOW (his father).
JOB ARTHUR FREER.
WILLAM (a butler).
CLERKS, MINERS, etc.
EVA (a maid).
Sunday morning. Market-place of a large mining village in the
Midlands. A man addressing a small gang of colliers from the
foot of a stumpy memorial obelisk. Church bells heard. Church-
goers passing along the outer pavements.
WILLIE HOUGHTON. What's the matter with you folks, as I've told you
before, and as I shall keep on telling you every now and again, though
it doesn't make a bit of difference, is that you've got no idea of
freedom whatsoever. I've lived in this blessed place for fifty years,
and I've never seen the spark of an idea, nor of any response to an
idea, come out of a single one of you, all the time. I don't know
what it is with colliers--whether it's spending so much time in the
bowels of the earth--but they never seem to be able to get their
thoughts above their bellies. If you've got plenty to eat and drink,
and a bit over to keep the missis quiet, you're satisfied. I never
saw such a satisfied bloomin' lot in my life as you Barlow & Wasall's
men are, really. Of course you can growse as well as anybody, and
you do growse. But you don't do anything else. You're stuck in a
sort of mud of contentment, and you feel yourselves sinking, but you
make no efforts to get out. You bleat a bit, like sheep in a bog--but
you like it, you know. You like sinking in--you don't have to stand
on your own feet then.
I'll tell you what'll happen to you chaps. I'll give you a little
picture of what you'll be like in the future. Barlow & Walsall's 'll
make a number of compounds, such as they keep niggers in in South
Africa, and there you'll be kept. And every one of you'll have a
little brass collar round his neck, with a number on it. You won't
have names any more. And you'll go from the compound to the pit, and
from the pit back again to the compound. You won't be allowed to go
outside the gates, except at week-ends. They'll let you go home to
your wives on Saturday nights, to stop over Sunday. But you'll have
to be in again by half-past nine on Sunday night; and if you're late,
you'll have your next week-end knocked off. And there you'll be--
and you'll be quite happy. They'll give you plenty to eat, and a can
of beer a day, and a bit of bacca--and they'll provide dominoes and
skittles for you to play with. And you'll be the most contented set
of men alive.--But you won't be men. You won't even be animals.
You'll go from number one to number three thousand, a lot of numbered
slaves--a new sort of slaves---
VOICE. An' wheer shall thee be, Willie?
WILLIE. Oh, I shall be outside the palings, laughing at you. I shall
have to laugh, because it'll be your own faults. You'll have nobody
but yourself to thank for it. You don't WANT to be men. You'd rather
NOT be free--much rather. You're like those people spoken of in
Shakespeare: "Oh, how eager these men are to be slaves!" I believe
it's Shakespeare--or the Bible--one or the other--it mostly is---
ANABEL WRATH (she was passing to church). It was Tiberius.
ANABEL. Tiberius said it.
WILLIE. Tiberius!--Oh, did he? (Laughs.) Thanks! Well, if Tiberius
said it, there must be something in it. and he only just missed being
in the Bible anyway. He was a day late, or they'd have had him in.
"Oh, how eager these men are to be slaves!"--It's evident the Romans
deserved all they got from Tiberius--and you'll deserve all you get,
every bit of it. But don't you bother, you'll get it. You won't be
at the mercy of Tiberius, you'll be at the mercy of something a jolly
sight worse. Tiberius took the skin off a few Romans, apparently.
But you'll have the soul taken out of you--every one of you. And I'd
rather lose my skin than my soul, any day. But perhaps you wouldn't.
VOICE. What art makin' for, Willie? Tha seems to say a lot, but tha
goes round it. Tha'rt like a donkey on a gin. Tha gets ravelled.
WILLIE. Yes, that's just it. I am precisely like a donkey on a gin--
a donkey that's trying to wind a lot of colliers up to the surface.
There's many a donkey that's brought more colliers than you up to see
daylight, by trotting round.--But do you want to know what I'm making
for? I can soon tell you that. You Barlow & Wasall's men, you
haven't a soul to call your own. Barlow & Wasall's have only to say
to one of you, Come, and he cometh, Go, and he goeth, Lie
VOICE. Ay--an' what about it? Tha's got a behind o' thy own, hasn't
WILLIE. Do you stand there and ask me what about it, and haven't the
sense to alter it? Couldn't you set up a proper Government to-morrow,
if you liked? Couldn't you contrive that the pits belonged to you,
instead of you belonging to the pits, like so many old pit-ponies that
stop down till they are blind, and take to eating coal-slack for
meadow-grass, not knowing the difference? If only you'd learn to
think, I'd respect you. As you are, I can't, not if I try my hardest.
All you can think of is to ask for another shilling a day. That's as
far as your imagination carries you. And perhaps you get sevenpence
ha'penny, but pay for it with half-a-crown's worth of sweat. The
masters aren't fools--as you are. They'll give you two-thirds of
what you ask for, but they'll get five-thirds of it back again--and
they'll get it out of your flesh and blood, too, in jolly hard work.
Shylock wasn't in it with them. He only wanted a pound of flesh.
But you cheerfully give up a pound a week, each one of you, and keep
on giving it up.--But you don't seem to see these things. You can't
think beyond your dinners and your 'lowance. You think if you can get
another shilling a day you're set up. You make me tired, I tell you.
JOB ARTHUR FREER. We think of others besides ourselves.
WILLIE. Hello, Job Arthur--are you there? I didn't recognise you
without your frock-coat and silk hat--on the Sabbath.--What was that
you said? You think of something else, besides yourselves?--Oh ay--
I'm glad to hear it. Did you mean your own importance?
(A motor car, GERALD BARLOW driving, OLIVER TURTON with him has
JOB ARTHUR (glancing at the car). No, I didn't.
WILLIE. Didn't you, though?--Come, speak up, let us have it. The
more the merrier. You were going to say something.
JOB ARTHUR. Nay, you were doing the talking.
WILLIE. Yes, so I was, till you interrupted, with a great idea on the
tip of your tongue. Come, spit it out. No matter if Mr. Barlow hears
you. You know how sorry for you we feel, that you've always got to
make your speeches twice--once to those above, and once to us here
below I didn't meant the angels and the devils, but never mind. Speak
up, Job Arthur.
JOB ARTHUR. It's not everybody as has as much to say as you, Mr.
WILLIE. No, not in the open--that's a fact. Some folks says a great
deal more, in semi-private. You were just going to explain to me, on
behalf of the men, whom you so ably represent and so wisely lead, Job
Arthur--we won't say by the nose--you were just going to tell me--on
behalf of the men, of course, not of the masters--that you think of
others, besides yourself. Do you mind explaining WHAT others?
JOB ARTHUR. Everybody's used to your talk, Mr. Houghton, and for that
reason it doesn't make much impression. What I meant to say, in plain
words, was that we have to think of what's best for everybody, not
only of ourselves.
WILLIE. Oh, I see. What's best for everybody! I see! Well, for
myself, I'm much obliged--there's nothing for us to do, gentlemen,
but for all of us to bow acknowledgments to Mr. Job Arthur Freer, who
so kindly has ALL our interests at heart.
JOB ARTHUR. I don't profess to be a red-rag Socialist. I don't
pretend to think that if the Government had the pits it would be any
better for us. No. What I mean is, that the pits are there and every
man on this place depends on them, one way or another. They're the
cow that gives the milk. And what I mean is, how every man shall have
a proper share of the milk, which is food and living. It's like
killing the goose that laid the golden egg. I want to keep the cow
healthy and strong. And the cow is the pits, and we're the men that
depend on the pits.
WILLIE. Who's the cat that's going to lick the cream?
JOB ARTHUR. My position is this--and I state it before masters and
men--that it's our business to strike such a balance between the
interests of the men and the interests of the masters that the pits
remain healthy, and everybody profits.
WILLIE. You're out for the millennium, I can see--with Mr. Job Arthur
Freer striking the balance. We all see you, Job Arthur, one foot on
either side of the fence, balancing the see-saw, with masters at one
end and men at the other. You'll have to give one side a lot of
pudding.--But go back a bit, to where we were before the motor car
took your breath away. When you said, Job Arthur, that you think of
others besides yourself, didn't you mean, as a matter of fact, the
office men? Didn't you mean that the colliers, led--we won't mention
noses--by you, were going to come out in sympathy with the office
clerks, supposing they didn't get the rise in wages which they've
asked for--the office clerks? Wasn't that it?
JOB ARTHUR. There's been some talk among the men of standing by the
office. I don't know what they'll do. But they'll do it of their
own decision, whatever it is.
WILLIE. There's not a shadow of doubt about it, Job Arthur. But it's
a funny thing the decisions all have the same foxy smell about them,
OLIVER TURTON (calling from the car). What was the speech about, in
the first place?
WILLIE. I beg pardon?
OLIVER. What was the address about, to begin with?
WILLIE. Oh, the same old hat--Freedom. But partly it's given to
annoy the Unco Guid, as they pass to their Sabbath banquet of self-
OLIVER. What ABOUT Freedom?
WILLIE. Very much as usual, I believe. But you should have been here
ten minutes sooner, before we began to read the lessons. (Laughs.)
ANABEL W. (moving forward, and holding out her hand). You'd merely
have been told what Freedom ISN'T; and you know that already. How
are you, Oliver?
OLIVER. Good God, Anabel!--are you part of the meeting? How long
have you been back in England?
ANABEL. Some months, now. My family have moved here, you know.
OLIVER. Your family! Where have they moved from?--from the moon?
ANABEL. No, only from Derby.--How are you, Gerald?
(GERALD twists in his seat to give her his hand.)
GERALD. I saw you before.
ANABEL. Yes, I know you did.
(JOB ARTHUR has disappeared. The men disperse sheepishly into groups,
to stand and sit on their heels by the walls and the causeway
edge. WILLIE HOUGHTON begins to talk to individuals.)
OLIVER. Won't you get in and drive on with us a little way?
ANABEL. No, I was going to church.
OLIVER. Going to church! Is that a new habit?
ANABEL. Not a habit. But I've been twice since I saw you last.
OLIVER. I see. And that's nearly two years ago. It's an annual
thing, like a birthday?
ANABEL. No. I'll go on, then.
OLIVER. You'll be late now.
ANABEL. Shall I? It doesn't matter.
OLIVER. We are going to see you again, aren't we?
ANABEL (after a pause). Yes, I hope so, Oliver.
OLIVER. How have you been these two years--well?--happy?
ANABEL. No, neither. How have you?
OLIVER. Yes, fairly happy. Have you been ill?
ANABEL. Yes, in France I was very ill.
OLIVER. Your old neuritis?
ANABEL. No. My chest. Pneumonia--oh, a complication.
OLIVER. How sickening! Who looked after you? Is it better?
ANABEL. Yes, it's a great deal better.
OLIVER. But, Anabel--we must fix a meeting. I say, wait just a
moment. Could I call on your people? Go into town with me one day.
I don't know whether Gerald intends to see you--whether he intends
to ask you to Lilley Close.
GERALD. Oh, it's all right.
ANABEL. He's no need. I'm fixed up there already.
GERALD. What do you mean?
ANABEL. I am at Lilley Close every day--or most days--to work with
your sister Winifred in the studio.
GERALD. What?--why, how's that?
ANABEL. Your father asked me. My father was already giving her some
GERALD. And you're at our house every day?
ANABEL. Most days.
GERALD. Well, I'm--well, I'll be--you managed it very sharp, didn't
you? I've only been away a fort-night.
ANABEL. Your father asked me--he offered me twelve pounds a month--
I wanted to do something.
GERALD. Oh yes, but you didn't hire yourself out at Lilley Close as
a sort of upper servant just for twelve pounds a month.
ANABEL. You're wrong--you're wrong. I'm not a sort of upper servant
at all--not at all.
GERALD. Oh, yes, you are, if you're paid twelve pounds a month--three
pounds a week. That's about what father's sick-nurse gets, I believe.
You don't do it for twelve pounds a month. You can make twelve pounds
in a day, if you like to work at your little models: I know you can
sell your statuette things as soon as you make them.
ANABEL. But I CAN'T make them. I CAN'T make them. I've lost the
spirit--the--_joi de vivre_--I don't know what, since I've been ill.
I tell you I've GOT to earn something.
GERALD. Nevertheless, you won't make me believe, Anabel, that you've
come and buried yourself in the provinces--SUCH provinces--just to
earn father's three pounds a week. Why don't you admit it, that you
came back to try and take up the old threads.
OLIVER. Why not, Gerald? Don't you think we ought to take up the
GERALD. I don't think we ought to be left without choice. I don't
think Anabel ought to come back and thrust herself on me--for that's
what it amounts to, after all--when one remembers what's gone before.
ANABEL. I DON'T thrust myself on you at all. I know I'm a fool, a
fool, to come back. But I wanted to. I wanted to see you again.
Now I know I've presumed. I've made myself CHEAP to you. I wanted
to--I wanted to. And now I've done it, I won't come to Lilley Close
again, nor anywhere where you are. Tell your father I have gone to
France again--it will be true.
GERALD. You play tricks on me--and on yourself. You know you do.
You do it for the pure enjoyment of it. You're making a scene here
in this filthy market-place, just for the fun of it. You like to
see these accursed colliers standing eyeing you, and squatting on
their heels. You like to catch me out, here where I'm known, where
I've been the object of their eyes since I was born. This is a
great _coup de main_ for you. I knew it the moment I saw you here.
OLIVER. After all, we ARE making a scene in the market-place. Get
in, Anabel, and we'll settle the dispute more privately. I'm glad
you came back, anyhow. I'm glad you came right down on us. Get in,
and let us run down to Whatmore.
ANABEL. No, Oliver. I don't want to run down to Whatmore. I wanted
to see you--I wanted to see Gerald--and I've seen him--and I've heard
him. That will suffice me. We'll make an end of the scene in the
market-place. (She turns away.)
OLIVER. I knew it wasn't ended. I knew she would come back and tell
us she'd come. But she's done her bit--now she'll go again. My God,
what a fool of a world!--You go on, Gerald--I'll just go after her
and see it out. (Calls.) One moment, Anabel.
ANABEL (calling). Don't come, Oliver. (Turns.)
GERALD. Anabel! (Blows the horn of the motor car violently and
agitatively--she looks round--turns again as if frightened.) God
damn the woman! (Gets down from the car.) Drive home for me, Oliver.
WINIFRED'S studio at Lilley Close. ANABEL and WINIFRED working
at a model in clay.
WINIFRED. But isn't it lovely to be in Paris, and to have exhibitions,
and to be famous?
ANABEL. Paris WAS a good place. But I was never famous.
WINIFRED. But your little animals and birds were famous. Jack said
so. You know he brought us that bronze thrush that is singing, that
is in his room. He has only let me see it twice. It's the loveliest
thing I've ever seen. Oh, if I can do anything like that!--I've
worshipped it, I have. It is your best thing?
ANABEL. One of the best.
WINIFRED. It must be. When I see it, with its beak lifted, singing,
something comes loose in my heart, and I feel as if I should cry, and
fly up to heaven. Do you know what I mean? Oh, I'm sure you do, or
you could never have made that thrush. Father is so glad you've come
to show me how to work. He says now I shall have a life-work, and I
shall be happy. It's true, too.
ANABEL. Yes, till the life-work collapses.
WINIFRED. Oh, it can't collapse. I can't believe it could collapse.
Do tell me about something else you made, which you loved--something
you sculpted. Oh, it makes my heart burn to hear you!--Do you think
I might call you Anabel? I should love to. You do call me Winifred
ANABEL. Yes, do.
WINIFRED. Won't you tell me about something else you made--something
ANABEL. Well, I did a small kitten--asleep--with its paws crossed.
You know, Winifred, that wonderful look that kittens have, as if they
were blown along like a bit of fluff--as if they weighed nothing at
all, just wafted about--and yet so ALIVE--do you know---?
WINIFRED. Darlings--darlings--I love them!
ANABEL. Well my kitten really came off--it had that quality. It
looked as if it had just wafted there.
WINIFRED. Oh, yes!--oh, I know! And was it in clay?
ANABEL. I cut it in soft grey stone as well. I love my kitten. An
Armenian bought her.
WINIFRED. And where is she now?
ANABEL. I don't know--in Armenia, I suppose, if there is such a
place. It would have to be kept under glass, because the stone
wouldn't polish--and I didn't want it polished. But I dislike
things under glass--don't you?
WINIFRED. Yes, I do. We had a golden clock, but Gerald wouldn't
have the glass cover, and Daddy wouldn't have it without. So now
the clock is in father's room. Gerald often went to Paris. Oliver
used to have a studio there. I don't care much for painting, do you?
ANABEL. No. I want something I can touch, if it's something outside
WINIFRED. Yes, isn't it wonderful, when things are substantial.
Gerald and Oliver came back yesterday from Yorkshire. You know we
have a colliery there.
ANABEL. Yes, I believe I've heard.
WINIFRED. I want to introduce you to Gerald, to see if you like him.
He's good at the bottom, but he's very overbearing and definite.
ANABEL. Is he?
WINIFRED. Terribly clever in business. He'll get awfully rich.
ANABEL. Isn't he rich enough already?
WINIFRED. Oh, yes, because Daddy is rich enough, really. I think
if Gerald was a bit different, he'd be really nice. Now he's so
MANAGING. It's sickening. Do you dislike managing people, Anabel?
ANABEL. I dislike them extremely, Winifred.
WINIFRED. They're such a bore.
ANABEL. What does Gerald manage?
WINIFRED. Everything. You know he's revolutionised the collieries
and the whole Company. He's made a whole new thing of it, so MODERN.
Father says he almost wishes he'd let it die out--let the pits be
closed. But I suppose things MUST be modernised, don't you think?
Though it's very unpeaceful, you know, really.
ANABEL. Decidedly unpeaceful, I should say.
WINIFRED. The colliers work awfully hard. The pits are quite
wonderful now. Father says it's against nature--all this electricity
and so on. Gerald adores electricity. Isn't it curious?
ANABEL. Very. How are you getting on?
WINIFRED. I don't know. It's so hard to make things BALANCE as if
they were alive. Where IS the balance in a thing that's alive?
ANABEL. The poise? Yes, Winifred--to me, all the secret of life is in
that--just the--the inexpressible poise of a living thing, that makes
it so different from a dead thing. To me it's the soul, you know--all
living things have it--flowers, trees as well. It makes life always
WINIFRED. Ah, yes!--ah, yes! If only I could put it in my model.
ANABEL. I think you will. You are a sculptor, Winifred.--Isn't
there someone there?
WINIFRED (running to the door). Oh, Oliver!
OLIVER. Hello, Winnie! Can I come in? This is your sanctum: you
can keep us out if you like.
WINIFRED. Oh, no. Do you know Miss Wrath, Oliver? She's a famous
OLIVER. Is she? We have met.--Is Winifred going to make a
sculptress, do you think?
ANABEL. I do.
OLIVER. Good! I like your studio, Winnie. Awfully nice up here
over the out-buildings. Are you happy in it?
WINIFRED. Yes, I'm perfectly happy--only I shall NEVER be able to
make real models, Oliver--it's so difficult.
OLIVER. Fine room for a party--Give us a studio party one day, Win,
and we'll dance.
WINIFRED (flying to him). Yes, Oliver, do let us dance. What shall
we dance to?
OLIVER. Dance?--Dance _Vigni-vignons_--we all know that. Ready?
(They begin to sing, dancing meanwhile, in a free little ballet-
manner, a wine-dance, dancing separate and then together.)
De terre en vigne,
La voila la jolie vigne,
Vigni-vignons--vignons le vin,
La voila la jolie vigne au vin,
La voila la jolie vigne.
OLIVER. Join in--join in, all.
(ANABEL joins in; the three dance and move in rhythm.)
WINIFRED. I love it--I love it! Do _Ma capote a trois boutons_--you
know it, don't you, Anabel? Ready--now---
(They begin to dance to a quick little march-rhythm, all singing and
dancing till they are out of breath.)
OLIVER. Oh!--tired!--let us sit down.
WINIFRED. Oliver!--oh, Oliver!--I LOVE you and Anabel.
OLIVER. Oh, Winifred, I brought you a present--you'll love me more
WINIFRED. Yes, I shall. Do give it me.
OLIVER. I left it in the morning-room. I put it on the mantel-piece
WINIFRED. Shall I go for it?
OLIVER. There it is, if you want it.
WINIFRED. Yes--do you mind? I won't be long. (Exit.)
OLIVER. She's a nice child.
ANABEL. A VERY nice child.
OLIVER. Why did you come back, Anabel?
ANABEL. Why does the moon rise, Oliver?
OLIVER. For some mischief or other, so they say.
ANABEL. You think I came back for mischief's sake?
OLIVER. Did you?
ANABEL. Tell me, Oliver, how is everything now?--how is it with you?
--how is it between us all?
OLIVER. How is it between us all?--How ISN'T it, is more the mark.
OLIVER. You made a fool of us.
ANABEL. Of whom?
OLIVER. Well--of Gerald particularly--and of me.
ANABEL. How did I make a fool of you, Oliver?
OLIVER. That you know best, Anabel.
ANABEL. No, I don't know. Was it ever right between Gerald and me,
all the three years we knew each other--we were together?
OLIVER. Was it all wrong?
ANABEL. No, not all. But it was terrible. It was terrible, Oliver.
You don't realise. You don't realise how awful passion can be, when
it never resolves, when it never becomes anything else. It is hate,
OLIVER. What did you want the passion to resolve into?
ANABEL. I was blinded--maddened. Gerald stung me and stung me till
I was mad. I left him for reason's sake, for sanity's sake. We
should have killed one another.
OLIVER. You, stung him, too, you know--and pretty badly, at the last:
you dehumanised him.
ANABEL. When? When I left him, you mean?
OLIVER. Yes, when you went away with that Norwegian--playing your
game a little too far.
ANABEL. Yes, I knew you'd blame me. I knew you'd be against me.
But don't you see, Oliver, you helped to make it impossible for us.
OLIVER. Did I? I didn't intend to.
ANABEL. Ha, ha, Oliver! Your good intentions! They are too good to
bear investigation, my friend. Ah, but for your good and friendly
OLIVER. You mean my friendship with Gerald went against you?
ANABEL. Yes. And your friendship with me went against Gerald.
OLIVER. So I am the devil in the piece.
ANABEL. You see, Oliver, Gerald loved you far too well ever to love
me altogether. He loved us both. But the Gerald that loved you so
dearly, old, old friends as you were, and TRUSTED you, he turned a
terrible face of contempt on me. You don't know, Oliver, the cold
edge of Gerald's contempt for me--because he was so secure and strong
in his old friendship with you. You don't know his sneering attitude
to me in the deepest things with you. He had a passion for me. But
he loved you.
OLIVER. Well, he doesn't any more. We went apart after you had gone.
The friendship has become almost casual.
ANABEL. You see how bitterly you speak.
OLIVER. Yet you didn't hate me, Anabel.
ANABEL. No, Oliver--I was AWFULLY fond of you. I trusted you--and I
trust you still. You see I knew how fond Gerald was of you. And I
had to respect this feeling. So I HAD to be aware of you: and I HAD
to be conscious of you: in a way, I had to love you. You understand
how I mean? Not with the same fearful love with which I loved Gerald.
You seemed to me warm and protecting--like a brother, you know--but a
brother one LOVES.
OLIVER. And then you hated me?
ANABEL. Yes, I had to hate you.
OLIVER. And you hated Gerald?
ANABEL. Almost to madness--almost to madness.
OLIVER. Then you went away with that Norwegian. What of him?
ANABEL. What of him? Well, he's dead.
OLIVER. Ah! That's why you came back?
ANABEL. No, no. I came back because my only hope in life was in
coming back. Baard was beautiful--and awful. You know how
glisteningly blond he was. Oliver, have you ever watched the polar
bears? He was cold as iron when it is so cold that it burns you.
Coldness wasn't negative with him. It was positive--and awful
beyond expression--like the aurora borealis.
OLIVER. I wonder you ever got back.
ANABEL. Yes, so do I. I feel as if I'd fallen down a fissure in the
ice. Yet I have come back, haven't I?
OLIVER. God knows! At least, Anabel, we've gone through too much
ever to start the old game again. There'll be no more sticky love
ANABEL. No, I think there won't, either.
OLIVER. And what of Gerald?
ANABEL. I don't know. What do you think of him?
OLIVER. I can't think any more. I can only blindly go from day to
ANABEL. So can I. Do you think I was wrong to come back? Do you
think I wrong Gerald?
OLIVER. No. I'm glad you came. But I feel I can't KNOW anything.
We must just go on.
ANABEL. Sometimes I feel I ought never to have come to Gerald again--
OLIVER. Just left the gap?--Perhaps, if everything has to come
asunder. But I think, if ever there is to be life--hope,--then you
had to come back. I always knew it. There is something eternal
between you and him; and if there is to be any happiness, it depends
on that. But perhaps there is to BE no happiness--for our part of
ANABEL (after a pause). Yet I feel hope--don't you?
OLIVER. Yes, sometimes.
ANABEL. It seemed to me, especially that winter in Norway,--I can
hardly express it,--as if any moment life might give way under one,
like thin ice, and one would be more than dead. And then I knew my
only hope was here--the only hope.
OLIVER. Yes, I believe it. And I believe---
(Enter MRS. BARLOW.)
MRS. BARLOW. Oh, I wanted to speak to you, Oliver.
OLIVER. Shall I come across?
MRS. BARLOW. No, not now. I believe father is coming here with
OLIVER. Is he going to walk so far?
MRS. BARLOW. He will do it.--I suppose you know Oliver?
ANABEL. Yes, we have met before.
MRS. BARLOW (to OLIVER). You didn't mention it. Where have you met
Miss Wrath? She's been about the world, I believe.
ANABEL. About the world?--no, Mrs. Barlow. If one happens to know
Paris and London---
MRS. BARLOW. Paris and London! Well, I don't say you are all
together an adventuress. My husband seems very pleased with you--
for Winifred's sake, I suppose--and he's wrapped up in Winifred.
ANABEL. Winifred is an artist.
MRS. BARLOW. All my children have the artist in them. They get it
from my family. My father went mad in Rome. My family is born with
a black fate--they all inherit it.
OLIVER. I believe one is master of one's fate sometimes, Mrs. Barlow.
There are moments of pure choice.
MRS. BARLOW. Between two ways to the same end, no doubt. There's no
changing the end.
OLIVER. I think there is.
MRS. BARLOW. Yes, you have a _parvenu's_ presumptuousness somewhere
OLIVER. Well, better than a blue-blooded fatalism.
MRS. BARLOW. The fate is in the blood: you can't change the blood.
WINIFRED. Oh, thank you, Oliver, for the wolf and the goat, thank
you so much!--The wolf has sprung on the goat, Miss Wrath, and has
her by the throat.
ANABEL. The wolf?
OLIVER. It's a little marble group--Italian--in hard marble.
WINIFRED. The wolf--I love the wolf--he pounces so beautifully.
His backbone is so terribly fierce. I don't feel a bit sorry for
the goat, somehow.
OLIVER. I didn't. She is too much like the wrong sort of clergyman.
WINIFRED. Yes--such a stiff, long face. I wish he'd kill her.
MRS. BARLOW. There's a wish!
WINIFRED. Father and Gerald are coming. That's them, I suppose.
(Enter MR. BARLOW and GERALD.)
MR. BARLOW. Ah, good morning--good morning--quite a little gathering!
OLIVER. The steps tire you, Mr. Barlow.
MR. BARLOW. A little--a little--thank you.--Well, Miss Wrath, are
you quite comfortable here?
ANABEL. Very comfortable, thanks.
GERALD. It was clever of you, father, to turn this place into a
MR. BARLOW. Yes, Gerald. You make the worldly schemes, and I the
homely. Yes, it's a delightful place. I shall come here often if
the two young ladies will allow me.--By the way, Miss Wrath, I don't
know if you have been introduced to my son Gerald. I beg your
pardon. Miss Wrath, Gerald--my son, Miss Wrath. (They bow.) Well,
we are quite a gathering, quite a pleasant little gathering. We
never expected anything so delightful a month ago, did we, Winifred,
WINIFRED. No, daddy, it's much nicer than expectations.
MR. BARLOW. So it is, dear--to have such exceptional companionship
and such a pleasant retreat. We are very happy to have Miss Wrath
with us--very happy.
GERALD. A studio's awfully nice, you know; it is such a retreat. A
newspaper has no effect in it--falls quite flat, no matter what the
MR. BARLOW. Quite true, Gerald, dear. It is a sanctum the world
cannot invade--unlike all other sanctuaries, I am afraid.
GERALD. By the way, Oliver--to go back to profanities--the colliers
really are coming out in support of the poor, ill-used clerks.
MR. BARLOW. No, no, Gerald--no, no! Don't be such an alarmist. Let
us leave these subjects before the ladies. No, no: the clerks will
have their increase quite peacefully.
GERALD. Yes, dear father--but they can't have it peacefully now.
We've been threatened already by the colliers--we've already received
MR. BARLOW. Nonsense, my boy--nonsense! Don't let us split words.
You won't go against the clerks in such a small matter. Always avoid
trouble over small matters. Don't make bad feeling--don't make bad
MRS. BARLOW. The blood is already rotten in the neighbourhood. What
it needs is letting out. We need a few veins opening, or we shall
have mortification setting in. The blood is black.
MR. BARLOW. We won't accept your figure of speech literally, dear.
No, Gerald, don't go to war over trifles.
GERALD. It's just over trifles that one must make war, father. One
can yield gracefully over big matters. But to be bullied over trifles
is a sign of criminal weakness.
MR. BARLOW. Ah, not so, not so, my boy. When you are as old as I am,
you will know the comparative insignificance of these trifles.
GERALD. The older _I_ get, father, the more such trifles stick in my
MR. BARLOW. Ah, it is an increasingly irritable disposition in you,
my child. Nothing costs so bitterly, in the end, as a stubborn pride.
MRS. BARLOW. Except a stubborn humility--and that will cost you more.
Avoid humility, beware of stubborn humility: it degrades. Hark,
Gerald--fight! When the occasion comes, fight! If it's one against
five thousand, fight! Don't give them your heart on a dish! Never!
If they want to eat your heart out, make them fight for it, and then
give it them poisoned at last, poisoned with your own blood.--What do
you say, young woman?
ANABEL. Is it for me to speak, Mrs. Barlow?
MRS. BARLOW. Weren't you asked?
ANABEL. Certainly I would NEVER give the world my heart on a dish.
But can't there ever be peace--real peace?
MRS. BARLOW. No--not while there is devilish enmity.
MR. BARLOW. You are wrong, dear, you are wrong. The peace can come,
the peace that passeth all understanding.
MRS. BARLOW. That there is already between me and Almighty God. I am
at peace with the God that made me, and made me proud. With men who
humiliate me I am at war. Between me and the shameful humble there
is war to the end, though they are millions and I am one. I hate the
people. Between my race and them and my children--for ever war, for
ever and ever.
MR. BARLOW. Ah, Henrietta--you have said all this before.
MRS. BARLOW. And say it again. Fight, Gerald. You have my blood in
you, thank God. Fight for it, Gerald. Spend it as if it were costly,
Gerald, drop by drop. Let no dogs lap it.--Look at your father. He
set his heart on a plate at the door, for the poorest mongrel to eat
up. See him now, wasted and crossed out like a mistake--and swear,
Gerald, swear to be true to my blood in you. Never lie down before
the mob, Gerald. Fight it and stab it, and die fighting. It's a
lost hope--but fight!
GERALD. Don't say these things here, mother.
MRS. BARLOW. Yes, I will--I will. I'll say them before you, and the
child Winifred--she knows. And before Oliver and the young woman--
they know, too.
MR. BARLOW. You see, dear, you can never understand that, although I
am weak and wasted, although I may be crossed out from the world like
a mistake, I still have peace in my soul, dear, the peach that passeth
MRS. BARLOW. And what right have you to it? All very well for you
to take peace with you into the other world. What do you leave for
your sons to inherit?
MR. BARLOW. The peace of God, Henrietta, if there is no peace among
MRS. BARLOW. Then why did you have children? Why weren't you
celibate? They have to live among men. If they have no place among
men, why have you put them there? If the peace of God is no more
than the peace of death, why are your sons born of you? How can you
have peace with God, if you leave no peace for your sons--no peace,
no pride, no place on earth?
GERALD. Nay, mother, nay. You shall never blame father on my behalf.
MRS. BARLOW. Don't trouble--he is blameless--I, a hulking, half-
demented woman, I am GLAD when you blame me. But don't blame me when
I tell you to fight. Don't do that, or you will regret it when you
must die. Ah, your father was stiff and proud enough before men of
better rank than himself. He was overbearing enough with his equals
and his betters. But he humbled himself before the poor, he made me
ashamed. He must hear it--he must hear it! Better he should hear it
than die coddling himself with peace. His humility, and my pride,
they have made a nice ruin of each other. Yet he is the man I wanted
to marry--he is the man I would marry again. But never, never again
would I give way before his goodness. Gerald, if you must be true to
your father, be true to me as well. Don't set me down at nothing
because I haven't a humble case.
GERALD. No, mother--no, dear mother. You see, dear mother, I have
rather a job between the two halves of myself. When you come to have
the wild horses in your own soul, mother, it makes it difficult.
MRS. BARLOW. Never mind, you'll have help.
GERALD. Thank you for the assurance, darling.--Father, you don't mind
what mother says, I hope. I believe there's some truth in it--don't
MR. BARLOW. I have nothing to say.
WINIFRED. _I_ think there's some truth in it, daddy. You were always
worrying about those horrid colliers, and they didn't care a bit about
you. And they OUGHT to gave cared a million pounds.
MR. BARLOW. You don't understand, my child.