SCENE: Evening of the same day. Drawing-room at Lilly Close. MR.
BARLOW, GERALD, WINIFRED, ANABEL OLIVER present. Butler pours
MR. BARLOW. And you are quite a stranger in these parts, Miss Wrath?
ANABEL. Practically. But I was born at Derby.
MR. BARLOW. I was born in this house--but it was a different affair
then: my father was a farmer, you know. The coal has brought us what
moderate wealth we have. Of course, we were never poor or needy--
farmers, substantial farmers. And I think we were happier so--yes.--
Winnie, dear, hand Miss Wrath the sweets. I hope they're good. I
ordered them from London for you.--Oliver, my boy, have you everything
you like? That's right.--It gives me such pleasure to see a little
festive gathering in this room again. I wish Bertie and Elinor might
be here. What time is it, Gerald?
GERALD. A quarter to nine, father.
MR. BARLOW. Not late yet. I can sit with you another half-hour. I
am feeling better to-day. Winifred, sing something for us.
WINIFRED. Something jolly, father?
MR. BARLOW. Very jolly, darling.
WINIFRED. I'll sing "The Lincolnshire Poacher," shall I?
MR. BARLOW. Do, darling, and we'll all join in the chorus.--Will you
join in the chorus, Miss Wrath?
ANABEL. I will. It is a good song.
MR. BARLOW. Yes, isn't it!
WINIFRED. All dance for the chorus, as well as singing.
(They sing; some pirouette a little for the chorus.)
MR. BARLOW. Ah, splendid! Splendid! There is nothing like gaiety.
WINIFRED. I do love to dance about. I know: let us do a little
ballet--four of us--oh, do!
GERALD. What ballet, Winifred?
WINIFRED. Any. Eva can play for us. She plays well.
MR. BARLOW. You won't disturb your mother? Don't disturb Eva if
she is busy with your mother. (Exit WINIFRED.) If only I can see
Winifred happy, my heart is at rest: if only I can hope for her to
be happy in her life.
GERALD. Oh, Winnie's all right, father--especially now she has Miss
Wrath to initiate her into the mysteries of life and labour.
ANABEL. Why are you ironical?
MR. BARLOW. Oh, Miss Wrath, believe me, we all feel that--it is the
greatest possible pleasure to me that you have come.
GERALD. I wasn't ironical, I assure you.
MR. BARLOW. No, indeed--no, indeed! We have every belief in you.
ANABEL. But why should you have?
MR. BARLOW. Ah, my dear child, allow us the credit of our own
discernment. And don't take offence at my familiarity. I am
afraid I am spoilt since I am an invalid.
(Re-enter WINIFRED, with EVA.)
MR. BARLOW. Come, Eva, you will excuse us for upsetting your evening.
Will you be so good as to play something for us to dance to?
EVA. Yes, sir. What shall I play?
WINIFRED. Mozart--I'll find you the piece. Mozart's the saddest
musician in the world--but he's the best to dance to.
MR. BARLOW. Why, how is it you are such a connoisseur in sadness,
GERALD. She isn't. She's a flagrant amateur.
(EVA plays; they dance a little ballet.)
MR. BARLOW. Charming--charming, Miss Wrath:--will you allow me to
say _Anabel_, we shall all feel so much more at home? Yes--thank you
--er--you enter into the spirit of it wonderfully, Anabel, dear. The
others are accustomed to play together. But it is not so easy to
come in on occasion as you do.
GERALD. Oh, Anabel's a genius!--I beg your pardon, Miss Wrath--
familiarity is catching.
MR. BARLOW. Gerald, my boy, don't forget that you are virtually host
EVA. Did you want any more music, sir?
GERALD. No, don't stay, Eva. We mustn't tire father. (Exit EVA.)
MR. BARLOW. I am afraid, Anabel, you will have a great deal to
excuse in us, in the way of manners. We have never been a formal
household. But you have lived in the world of artists: you will
understand, I hope.
ANABEL. Oh, surely---
MR. BARLOW. Yes, I know. We have been a turbulent family, and we
have had our share of sorrow, even more, perhaps, than of joys. And
sorrow makes one indifferent to the conventionalities of life.
GERALD. Excuse me, father: do you mind if I go and write a letter I
have on my conscience?
MR. BARLOW. No, my boy. (Exit GERALD.) We have had our share of
sorrow and of conflict, Miss Wrath, as you may have gathered.
ANABEL. Yes--a little.
MR. BARLOW. The mines were opened when my father was a boy--the
first--and I was born late, when he was nearly fifty. So that all
my life has been involved with coal and colliers. As a young man, I
was gay and thoughtless. But I married young, and we lost our first
child through a terrible accident. Two children we have lost through
sudden and violent death. (WINIFRED goes out unnoticed.) It made me
reflect. And when I came to reflect, Anabel, I could not justify my
position in life. If I believed in the teachings of the New
Testament--which I did, and do--how could I keep two or three
thousand men employed and underground in the mines, at a wage, let us
say, of two pounds a week, whilst I lived in this comfortable house,
and took something like two thousand pounds a year--let us name any
ANABEL. Yes, of course. But is it money that really matters, Mr.
MR. BARLOW. My dear, if you are a working man, it matters. When I
went into the homes of my poor fellows, when they were ill or had had
accidents--then I knew it mattered. I knew that the great disparity
was wrong--even as we are taught that it is wrong.
ANABEL. Yes, I believe that the great disparity is a mistake. But
take their lives, Mr. Barlow. Do you thing they would LIVE more, if
they had more money? Do you think the poor live less than the rich?
--is their life emptier?
MR. BARLOW. Surely their lives would be better, Anabel.
OLIVER. All our lives would be better, if we hadn't to hang on in the
perpetual tug-of-war, like two donkeys pulling at one carrot. The
ghastly tension of possessions, and struggling for possession, spoils
life for everybody.
MR. BARLOW. Yes, I know now, as I knew then, that it was wrong. But
how to avoid the wrong? If I gave away the whole of my income, it
would merely be an arbitrary dispensation of charity. The money would
still be mine to give, and those that received it would probably only
be weakened instead of strengthened. And then my wife was accustomed
to a certain way of living, a certain establishment. Had I any right
to sacrifice her, without her consent?
ANABEL. Why, no!
MR. BARLOW. Again, if I withdrew from the Company, if I retired on
a small income, I knew that another man would automatically take my
place, and make it probably harder for the men.
ANABEL. Of course--while the system stands, if one makes self-
sacrifice one only panders to the system, makes it fatter.
MR. BARLOW. One panders to the system--one panders to the system.
And so, you see, the problem is too much. One man cannot alter or
affect the system; he can only sacrifice himself to it. Which is
the worst thing probably that he can do.
OLIVER. Quite. But why feel guilty for the system?--everybody
supports it, the poor as much as the rich. If every rich man
withdrew from the system, the working class and socialists would
keep it going, every man in the hope of getting rich himself at
last. It's the people that are wrong. They want the system much
more than the rich do--because they are much more anxious to be
rich--never having been rich, poor devils.
MR. BARLOW. Just the system. So I decided at last that the best way
was to give every private help that lay in my power. I would help my
men individually and personally, wherever I could. Not one of them
came to me and went away unheard; and there was no distress which
could be alleviated that I did not try to alleviate. Yet I am afraid
that the greatest distress I never heard of , the most distressed
never came to me. They hid their trouble.
ANABEL. Yes, the decent ones.
MR. BARLOW. But I wished to help--it was my duty. Still, I think
that, on the whole, we were a comfortable and happy community.
Barlow & Walsall's men were not unhappy in those days, I believe.
We were liberal; the men lived.
OLIVER. Yes, that is true. Even twenty years ago the place was
MR. BARLOW. And then, when Gerald was a lad of thirteen, came the
great lock-out. We belonged to the Masters' Federation--I was but
one man on the Board. We had to abide by the decision. The mines
were closed till the men would accept the reduction.--Well, that cut
my life across. We were shutting the men out from work, starving
their families, in order to force them to accept a reduction. It may
be the condition of trade made it imperative. But, for myself, I
would rather have lost everything.--Of course, we did what we could.
Food was very cheap--practically given away. We had open kitchen
here. And it was mercifully warm summer-time. Nevertheless, there
was privation and suffering, and trouble and bitterness. We had the
redcoats down--even to guard this house. And from this window I saw
Whatmore head-stocks ablaze, and before I could get to the spot the
soldiers had shot two poor fellows. They were not killed, thank
OLIVER. Ah, but they enjoyed it--they enjoyed it immensely. I
remember what grand old sporting weeks they were. It was like a
fox-hunt, so lively and gay--bands and tea-parties and excitement
everywhere, pit-ponies loose, men all over the country-side---
MR. BARLOW. There was a great deal of suffering, which you were
too young to appreciate. However, since that year I have had to
acknowledge a new situation--a radical if unspoken opposition
between masters and men. Since that year we have been split into
opposite camps. Whatever I might privately feel, I was one of the
owners, one of the masters, and therefore in the opposite camp. To
my men I was an oppressor, a representative of injustice and greed.
Privately, I like to think that even to this day they bear me no
malice, that they have some lingering regard for me. But the master
stands before the human being, and the condition of war overrides
individuals--they hate the master, even whilst, as a human being, he
would be their friend. I recognise the inevitable justice. It is
the price one has to pay.
ANABEL. Yes, it is difficult--very.
MR. BARLOW. Perhaps I weary you?
ANABEL. Oh, no--no.
MR. BARLOW. Well--then the mines began to pay badly. The seams ran
thin and unprofitable, work was short. Either we must close down
or introduce a new system, American methods, which I dislike so
extremely. Now it really became a case of men working against
machines, flesh and blood working against iron, for a livelihood.
Still, it had to be done--the whole system revolutionised. Gerald
took it in hand--and now I hardly know my own pits, with the great
electric plants and strange machinery, and the new coal-cutters--
iron men, as the colliers call them--everything running at top speed,
utterly dehumanised, inhuman. Well, it had to be done; it was the
only alternative to closing down and throwing three thousand men out
of work. And Gerald has done it. But I can't bear to see it. The
men of this generation are not like my men. They are worn and gloomy;
they have a hollow look that I can't bear to see. They are a great
grief to me. I remember men even twenty years ago--a noisy, lively,
careless set, who kept the place ringing. I feel it is unnatural; I
feel afraid of it. And I cannot help feeling guilty.
ANABEL. Yes--I understand. It terrifies me.
MR. BARLOW. Does it?--does it?--Yes.--And as my wife says, I leave
it all to Gerald--this terrible situation. But I appeal to God, if
anything in my power could have averted it, I would have averted it.
I would have made any sacrifice. For it is a great and bitter
trouble to me.
ANABEL. Ah, well, in death there is no industrial situation.
Something must be different there.
MR. BARLOW. Yes--yes.
OLIVER. And you see sacrifice isn't the slightest use. If only
people would be sane and decent.
MR. BARLOW. Yes, indeed.--Would you be so good as to ring, Oliver?
I think I must go to bed.
ANABEL. Ah, you have over-tired yourself.
MR. BARLOW. No, my dear--not over-tired. Excuse me if I have
burdened you with all this. I relieves me to speak of it.
ANABEL. I realise HOW terrible it is, Mr. Barlow--and how helpless
MR. BARLOW. Thank you, my dear, for your sympathy.
OLIVER. If the people for one minute pulled themselves up and
conquered their mania for money and machine excitement, the whole
thing would be solved.--Would you like me to find Winnie and tell
her to say good night to you?
MR. BARLOW. If you would be so kind. (Exit OLIVER.) Can't you find
a sweet that you would like, my dear? Won't you take a little cherry
ANABEL. Thank you.
WILLIAM. You will go up, sir?
MR. BARLOW. Yes, William.
WILLIAM. You are tired to-night, sir.
MR. BARLOW. It has come over me just now.
WILLIAM. I wish you went up before you became so over-tired, sir.
Would you like nurse?
MR. BARLOW. No, I'll go with you, William. Good night, my dear.
ANABEL. Good night, Mr. Barlow. I am so sorry if you are over-tired.
(Exit BUTLER and MR. BARLOW. ANABEL takes a drink and goes to
GERALD. Father gone up?
GERALD. I thought I heard him. Has he been talking too much?--Poor
father, he will take things to heart.
ANABEL. Tragic, really.
GERALD. Yes, I suppose it is. But one can get beyond tragedy--
beyond the state of feeling tragical, I mean. Father himself is
tragical. One feels he is mistaken--and yet he wouldn't be any
different, and be himself, I suppose. He's sort of crucified on
an idea of the working people. It's rather horrible when he's
one's father.--However, apart from tragedy, how do you like being
here, in this house?
ANABEL. I like the house. It's rather too comfortable.
GERALD. Yes. But how do you like being here?
ANABEL. How do you like my being in your home?
GERALD. Oh, I think you're very decorative.
ANABEL. More decorative than comfortable?
GERALD. Perhaps. But perhaps you give the necessary finish to the
ANABEL. Like the correct window-curtains?
GERALD. Yes, something like that. I say, why did you come, Anabel?
Why did you come slap-bang into the middle of us?--It's not
expostulation--I want to know.
ANABEL. You mean you want to be told?
GERALD. Yes, I want to be told.
ANABEL. That's rather mean of you. You should savvy, and let it go
GERALD. Yes, but I don't savvy.
ANABEL. Then wait till you do.
GERALD. No, I want to be told. There's a difference in you, Anabel,
that puts me out, rather. You're sort of softer and sweeter--I'm not
sure whether it isn't a touch of father in you. There's a little
sanctified smudge on your face. Are you really a bit sanctified?
ANABEL. No, not sanctified. It's true I feel different. I feel I
want a new way of life--something more dignified, more religious, if
you like--anyhow, something POSITIVE.
GERALD. Is it the change of heart, Anabel?
ANABEL. Perhaps it is, Gerald.
GERALD. I'm not sure that I like it. Isn't it like a berry that
decides to get very sweet, and goes soft?
ANABEL. I don't think so.
GERALD. Slightly sanctimonious. I think I liked you better before.
I don't think I like you with this touch of aureole. People seem to
me so horribly self-satisfied when they get a change of heart--they
take such a fearful lot of credit to themselves on the strength of it.
ANABEL. I don't think I do.--Do you feel no different, Gerald?
GERALD. Radically, I can't say I do. I feel very much more
ANABEL. What to?
ANABEL. You're still angry--that's what it is.
GERALD. Oh, yes, I'm angry. But that is part of my normal state.
ANABEL. Why are you angry?
GERALD. Is there any reason why I shouldn't be angry? I'm angry
because you treated me--well, so impudently, really--clearing out
and leaving one to whistle to the empty walls.
ANABEL. Don't you think it was time I cleared out, when you became
so violent, and really dangerous, really like a madman?
GERALD. Time or not time, you went--you disappeared and left us
high and dry--and I am still angry.--But I'm not only angry about
that. I'm angry with the colliers, with Labour for its low-down
impudence--and I'm angry with father for being so ill--and I'm angry
with mother for looking such a hopeless thing--and I'm angry with
Oliver because he thinks so much---
ANABEL. And what are you angry with yourself for?
GERALD. I'm angry with myself for being myself--I always was that.
I was always a curse to myself.
ANABEL. And that's why you curse others so much?
GERALD. You talk as if butter wouldn't melt in your mouth.
ANABEL. You see, Gerald, there has to be a change. You'll have to
GERALD. Change of heart?--Well, it won't be to get softer, Anabel.
ANABEL. You needn't be softer. But you can be quieter, more sane
even. There ought to be some part of you that can be quiet and apart
from the world, some part that can be happy and gentle.
GERALD. Well, there isn't. I don't pretend to be able to extricate
a soft sort of John Halifax, Gentleman, out of the machine I'm mixed
up in, and keep him to gladden the connubial hearth. I'm angry, and
I'm angry right through, and I'm not going to play bo-peep with
myself, pretending not to be.
ANABEL. Nobody asks you to. But is there no part of you that can be
a bit gentle and peaceful and happy with a woman?
GERALD. No, there isn't.--I'm not going to smug with you--no, not I.
You're smug in your coming back. You feel virtuous, and expect me to
rise to it. I won't.
ANABEL. Then I'd better have stayed away.
GERALD. If you want me to virtuise and smug with you, you had.
ANABEL. What DO you want, then?
GERALD. I don't know. I know I don't want THAT.
ANABEL. Oh, very well. (Goes to the piano; begins to play.)
(Enter MRS. BARLOW.)
GERALD. Hello, mother! Father HAS gone to bed.
MRS. BARLOW. Oh, I thought he was down here talking. You two alone?
GERALD. With the piano for chaperone, mother.
MRS. BARLOW. That's more than I gave you credit for. I haven't come
to chaperone you either, Gerald.
GERALD. Chaperone ME, mother! Do you think I need it?
MRS. BARLOW. If you do, you won't get it. I've come too late to be
of any use in that way, as far as I hear.
GERALD. What have you heard, mother?
MRS. BARLOW. I heard Oliver and this young woman talking.
GERALD. Oh, did you? When? What did they say?
MRS. BARLOW. Something about married in the sight of heaven, but
couldn't keep it up on earth.
GERALD. I don't understand.
MRS. BARLOW. That you and this young woman were married in the sight
of heaven, or through eternity, or something similar, but that you
couldn't make up your minds to it on earth.
GERALD. Really! That's very curious, mother.
MRS. BARLOW. Very common occurrence, I believe.
GERALD. Yes, so it is. But I don't think you heard quite right,
dear. There seems to be some lingering uneasiness in heaven, as a
matter of fact. We'd quite made up our minds to live apart on earth.
But where did you hear this, mother?
MRS. BARLOW. I heard it outside the studio door this morning.
GERALD. You mean you happened to be on one side of the door while
Oliver and Anabel were talking on the other?
MRS. BARLOW. You'd make a detective, Gerald--you're so good at
putting two and two together. I listened till I'd heard as much
as I wanted. I'm not sure I didn't come down here hoping to hear
another conversation going on.
GERALD. Listen outside the door, darling?
MRS. BARLOW. There'd be nothing to listen to if I were inside.
GERALD. It isn't usually done, you know.
MRS. BARLOW. I listen outside doors when I have occasion to be
interested--which isn't often, unfortunately for me.
GERALD. But I've a queer feeling that you have a permanent occasion
to be interested in me. I only half like it.
MRS. BARLOW. It's surprising how uninteresting you are, Gerald, for a
man of your years. I have not had occasion to listen outside a door,
for you, no, not for a great while, believe me.
GERALD. I believe you implicitly, darling. But do you happen to
know me through and through, and in and out, all my past and present
doings, mother? Have you a secret access to my room, and a spy-hole,
and all those things? This is uncomfortably thrilling. You take on
a new lustre.
MRS. BARLOW. Your memoirs wouldn't make you famous, my son.
GERALD. Infamous, dear?
MRS. BARLOW. Good heavens, no! What a lot you expect from your very
mild sins! You and this young woman have lived together, then?
GERALD. Don't say "this young woman," mother dear--it's slightly
vulgar. It isn't for me to compromise Anabel by admitting such a
thing, you know.
MRS. BARLOW. Do you ask me to call her Anabel? I won't.
GERALD. Then say "this person," mother. It's more becoming.
MRS. BARLOW. I didn't come to speak to you, Gerald. I know you. I
came to speak to this young woman.
GERALD. "Person," mother.--Will you curtsey, Anabel? And I'll twist
my handkerchief. We shall make a Cruikshank drawing, if mother makes
her hair a little more slovenly.
MRS. BARLOW. You and Gerald were together for some time?
GERALD. Three years, off and on, mother.
MRS. BARLOW. And then you suddenly dropped my son, and went away?
GERALD. To Norway, mother--so I have gathered.
MRS. BARLOW. And now you have come back because that last one died?
GERALD. Is he dead, Anabel? How did he die?
ANABEL. He was killed on the ice.
GERALD. Oh, God!
MRS. BARLOW. Now, having had your fill of tragedy, you have come back
to be demure and to marry Gerald. Does he thank you?
GERALD. You must listen outside the door, mother, to find that out.
MRS. BARLOW. Well, it's your own affair.
GERALD. What a lame summing up, mother!--quite unworthy of you.
ANABEL. What did you wish to say to me, Mrs. Barlow? Please say it.
MRS. BARLOW. What did I wish to say! Ay, what did I wish to say!
What is the use of my saying anything? What am I but a buffoon and
a slovenly caricature in the family?
GERALD. No, mother dear, don't climb down--please don't. Tell Anabel
what you wanted to say.
MRS. BARLOW. Yes--yes--yes. I came to say--don't be good to my son--
don't be too good to him.
GERALD. Sounds weak, dear--mere contrariness.
MRS. BARLOW. Don't presume to be good to my son, young woman. I
won't have it, even if he will. You hear me?
ANABEL. Yes. I won't presume, then.
GERALD. May she presume to be bad to me, mother?
MRS. BARLOW. For that you may look after yourself.--But a woman who
was good to him would ruin him in six months, take the manhood out of
him. He has a tendency, a secret hankering, to make a gift of himself
to somebody. He sha'n't do it. I warn you. I am not a woman to be
ANABEL. No--I understand.
MRS. BARLOW. Only one other thing I ask. If he must fight--and
fight he must--let him alone: don't you try to shield him or save
him. DON'T INTERFERE--do you hear?
ANABEL. Not till I must.
MRS. BARLOW. NEVER. Learn your place, and keep it. Keep away from
him, if you are going to be a wife to him. Don't go too near. And
don't let him come too near. Beat him off if he tries. Keep a
solitude in your heart even when you love him best. Keep it. If you
lose it, you lose everything.
GERALD. But that isn't love, mother.
MRS. BARLOW. What?
GERALD. That isn't love.
MRS. BARLOW. WHAT? What do you know of love, you ninny? You only
know the feeding-bottle. It's what you want, all of you--to be
brought up by hand, and mew about love. Ah, God!--Ah, God!--that
you should none of you know the only thing which would make you worth
GERALD. I don't believe in your only thing, mother. But what is it?
MRS. BARLOW. What you haven't got--the power to be alone.
GERALD. Sort of megalomania, you mean?
MRS. BARLOW. What? Megalomania! What is your LOVE but a
megalomania, flowing over everybody and everything like
spilt water? Megalomania! I hate you, you softy! I would BEAT
you (suddenly advancing on him and beating him fiercely)--beat you
into some manhood--beat you---
GERALD. Stop, mother--keep off.
MRS. BARLOW. It's the men who need beating nowadays, not the
children. Beat the softness out of him, young woman. It's the
only way, if you love him enough--if you love him enough.
GERALD. You hear, Anabel?
Speak roughly to your little boy,
And beat him when he sneezes.
MRS. BARLOW (catching up a large old fan, and smashing it about his
head). You softy--you piffler--you will never have had enough! Ah,
you should be thrust in the fire, you should, to have the softness
and the brittleness burnt out of you!
(The door opens--OLIVER TURTON enters, followed by JOB ARTHUR FREER.
MRS. BARLOW is still attacking GERALD. She turns, infuriated.)
Go out! Go out! What do you mean by coming in unannounced? Take
him upstairs--take that fellow into the library, Oliver Turton.
GERALD. Mother, you improve our already pretty reputation. Already
they say you are mad.
MRS. BARLOW (ringing violently). Let me be mad then. I am mad--
driven mad. One day I shall kill you, Gerald.
GERALD. You won't, mother because I sha'n't let you.
MRS. BARLOW. Let me!--let me! As if I should wait for you to let me!
GERALD. I am a match for you even in violence, come to that.
MRS. BARLOW. A match! A damp match. A wet match.
WILLIAM. You rang, madam?
MRS. BARLOW. Clear up those bits.--Where are you going to see that
white-faced fellow? Here?
GERALD. I think so.
MRS. BARLOW. You will STILL have them coming to the house, will you?
You will still let them trample in our private rooms, will you? Bah!
I ought to leave you to your own devices. (Exit.)
GERALD. When you've done that, William, ask Mr. Freer to come down
WILLIAM. Yes, sir. (A pause. Exit WILLIAM.)
GERALD. So-o-o. You've had another glimpse of the family life.
ANABEL. Yes. Rather--disturbing.
GERALD. Not at all, when you're used to it. Mother isn't as mad as
she pretends to be.
ANABEL. I don't think she's mad at all. I think she has most
GERALD. "Courage" is good. That's a new term for it.
ANABEL. Yes, courage. When a man says "courage" he means the
courage to die. A woman means the courage to live. That's what
women hate men most for, that they haven't the courage to live.
GERALD. Mother takes her courage in both hands rather late.
ANABEL. We're a little late ourselves.
GERALD. We are, rather. By the way, you seem to have had plenty of
the courage of death--you've played a pretty deathly game, it seems to
me--both when I knew you and afterwards, you've had your finger pretty
deep in the death-pie.
ANABEL. That's why I want a change of--of---
GERALD. Of heart?--Better take mother's tip, and try the poker.
ANABEL. I will.
(Enter OLIVER and FREER.)
Oh, come in. Don't be afraid; it's a charade. (ANABEL rises.) No,
don't go, Anabel. Corraggio! Take a seat, Mr. Freer.
JOB ARTHUR. Sounds like a sneezing game, doesn't it?
GERALD. It is. Do you know the famous rhyme:
Speak roughly to your little boy,
And beat him when he sneezes?
JOB ARTHUR. No, I can't say I do.
GERALD. My mother does. Will you have anything to drink? Will you
JOB ARTHUR. Well--no--I don't think I'll have anything, thanks.
GERALD. A cherry brandy?--Yes?--Anabel, what's yours?
ANABEL. Did I see Kummel?
GERALD. You did. (They all take drinks.) What's the latest, Mr.
JOB ARTHUR. The latest? Well, I don't know, I'm sure---
GERALD. Oh, yes. Trot it out. We're quite private.
JOB ARTHUR. Well--I don't know. There's several things.
GERALD. The more the merrier.
JOB ARTHUR. I'm not so sure. The men are in a very funny temper, Mr.
GERALD. Coincidence--so am I. Not surprising, is it?
JOB ARTHUR. The men, perhaps not.
GERALD. What else, Job Arthur?
JOB ARTHUR. You know the men have decided to stand by the office men?
JOB ARTHUR. They've agreed to come out next Monday.
GERALD. Have they?
JOB ARTHUR. Yes; there was no stopping them. They decided for it
like one man.
GERALD. How was that?
JOB ARTHUR. That's what surprises me. They're a jolly sight more
certain over this than they've ever been over their own interests.
GERALD. All their love for the office clerks coming out in a rush?
JOB ARTHUR. Well, I don't know about love; but that's how it is.
GERALD. What is it, if it isn't love?
JOB ARTHUR. I can't say. They're in a funny temper. It's hard to
GERALD. A funny temper, are they? Then I suppose we ought to laugh.
JOB ARTHUR. No, I don't think it's a laughing matter. They're coming
out on Monday for certain.
GERALD. Yes--so are the daffodils.
JOB ARTHUR. Beg pardon?
JOB ARTHUR. No, I don't follow what you mean.
GERALD. Don't you? But I thought Alfred Breffitt and William Straw
were not very popular.
JOB ARTHUR. No, they aren't--not in themselves. But it's the
principle of the thing--so it seems.
GERALD. What principle?
JOB ARTHUR. Why, all sticking together, for one thing--all Barlow &
Walsall's men holding by one another.
GERALD. United we stand?
JOB ARTHUR. That's it. And then it's the strong defending the weak
as well. There's three thousand colliers standing up for thirty-odd
office men. I must say I think it's sporting myself.
GERALD. You do, do you? United we stand, divided we fall. What do
they stand for really? What is it?
JOB ARTHUR. Well--for their right to a living wage. That's how I see
GERALD. For their right to a living wage! Just that?
JOB ARTHUR. Yes, sir--that's how I see it.
GERALD. Well, that doesn't seem so preposterously difficult does it?
JOB ARTHUR. Why, that's what I think myself, Mr. Gerald. It's such
a little thing.
GERALD. Quite. I suppose the men themselves are to judge what is a
JOB ARTHUR. Oh, I think they're quite reasonable, you know.
GERALD. Oh, yes, eminently reasonable. Reason's their strong point.
--And if they get their increase they'll be quite contented?
JOB ARTHUR. Yes, as far as I know, they will.
GERALD. As far as you know? Why, is there something you don't know?
--something you're not sure about?
JOB ARTHUR. No--I don't think so. I think they'll be quite satisfied
GERALD. Why this time? Is there going to be a next time--every-day-
has-its-to-morrow kind of thing?
JOB ARTHUR. I don't know about that. It's a funny world, Mr. Barlow.
GERALD. Yes, I quite believe it. How do you see it so funny?
JOB ARTHUR. Oh, I don't know. Everything's in a funny state.
GERALD. What do you mean by everything?
JOB ARTHUR. Well--I mean things in general--Labour, for example.
GERALD. You think Labour's in a funny state, do you? What do you
think it wants? What do you think, personally?
JOB ARTHUR. Well, in my own mind, I think it wants a bit of its own
GERALD. And how does it mean to get it?
JOB ARTHUR. Ha! that's not so easy to say. But it means to have it,
in the long run.
GERALD. You mean by increasing demands for higher wages?
JOB ARTHUR. Yes, perhaps that's one road.
GERALD. Do you see any other?
JOB ARTHUR. Not just for the present.
GERALD. But later on?
JOB ARTHUR. I can't say about that. The men will be quiet enough
for a bit, if it's all right about the office men, you know.
GERALD. Probably. But have Barlow & Walsall's men any special
grievance apart from the rest of the miners?
JOB ARTHUR. I don't know. They've no liking for you, you know, sir.
JOB ARTHUR. They think you've got a down on them.
GERALD. Why should they?
JOB ARTHUR. I don't know, sir; but they do.
GERALD. So they have a personal feeling against me? You don't think
all the colliers are the same, all over the country?
JOB ARTHUR. I think there's a good deal of feeling---
GERALD. Of wanting their own back?
JOB ARTHUR. That's it.
GERALD. But what can they do? I don't see what they can do. They
can go out on strike--but they've done that before, and the owners,
at a pinch, can stand it better than they can. As for the ruin of
the industry, if they do ruin it, it falls heaviest on them. In
fact, it leaves them destitute. There's nothing they can do, you
know, that doesn't hit them worse than it hits us.
JOB ARTHUR. I know there's something in that. But if they had a
strong man to lead them, you see---
GERALD. Yes, I've heard a lot about that strong man--but I've never
come across any signs of him, you know. I don't believe in one strong
man appearing out of so many little men. All men are pretty big in an
age, or in a movement, which produces a really big man. And Labour is
a great swarm of hopelessly little men. That's how I see it.
JOB ARTHUR. I'm not so sure about that.
GERALD. I am. Labour is a thing that can't have a head. It's a
sort of unwieldy monster that's bound to run its skull against the
wall sooner or later, and knock out what bit of brain it's got. You
see, you need wit and courage and real understanding if you're going
to do anything positive. And Labour has none of these things--
certainly it shows no signs of them.
JOB ARTHUR. Yes, when it has a chance, I think you'll see plenty of
courage and plenty of understanding.
GERALD. It always had a chance. And where one sees a bit of courage,
there's no understanding; and where there's some understanding,
there's absolutely no courage. It's hopeless, you know--it would be
far best if they'd all give it up, and try a new line.
JOB ARTHUR. I don't think they will.
GERALD. No, I don't, either. They'll make a mess and when they've
made it, they'll never get out of it. They can't--they're too stupid,
JOB ARTHUR. They've never had a try yet.
GERALD. They're trying every day. They just simply couldn't control
modern industry--they haven't the intelligence. They've no LIFE
intelligence. The owners may have little enough, but Labour has
none. They're just mechanical little things that can make one or
two motions, and they're done. They've no more idea of life than
a lawn-mower has.
JOB ARTHUR. It remains to be seen.
GERALD. No, it doesn't. It's perfectly obvious--there's nothing
remains to be seen. All that Labour is capable of, is smashing
things up. And even for that I don't believe it has either the
energy or the courage or the bit of necessary passion, or slap-dash--
call it whatever you will. However, we'll see.
JOB ARTHUR. Yes, sir. Perhaps you see now why you're not so very
popular, Mr. Gerald.
GERALD. We can't all be popular, Job Arthur. You're very high up in
popularity, I believe.
JOB ARTHUR. Not so very. They listen to me a bit. But you never
know when they'll let you down. I know they'll let me down one day--
so it won't be a surprise.
GERALD. I should think not.
JOB ARTHUR. But about the office men, Mr. Gerald. You think it'll
be all right?
GERALD. Oh, yes, that'll be all right.
JOB ARTHUR. Easiest for this time, anyhow, sir. We don't want
bloodshed, do we?
GERALD. I shouldn't mind at all. It might clear the way to something.
But I have absolutely no belief in the power of Labour even to bring
about anything so positive as bloodshed.
JOB ARTHUR. I don't know about that--I don't know. Well.
GERALD. Have another drink before you go.--Yes, do. Help yourself.
JOB ARTHUR. Well--if you're so pressing. (Helps himself.) Here's
GERALD. Take a cigar--there's the box. Go on--take a handful--fill
JOB ARTHUR. They're a great luxury nowadays, aren't they? Almost
beyond a man like me.
GERALD. Yes, that's the worst of not being a bloated capitalist.
Never mind, you'll be a Cabinet Minister some day.--Oh, all right--
I'll open the door for you.
JOB ARTHUR. Oh, don't trouble. Good night--good night. (Exeunt.)
OLIVER. Oh, God, what a world to live in!
ANABEL. I rather liked him. What is he?
OLIVER. Checkweighman--local secretary for the Miner's Federation--
plays the violin well, although he was a collier, and it spoilt his
hands. They're a musical family.
ANABEL. But isn't he rather nice?
OLIVER. I don't like him. But I confess he's a study. He's the
ANABEL. Don't you think he likes Gerald?
OLIVER. I'm sure he does. The way he suns himself here--like a cat
purring in his luxuriation.
ANABEL. Yes--I don't mind it. It shows a certain sensitiveness and
a certain taste.
OLIVER. Yes, he has both--touch of the artist, as Mrs. Barlow says.
He loves refinement, culture, breeding, all those things--loves them--
and a presence, a fine free manner.
ANABEL. But that is nice in him.
OLIVER. Quite. But what he loves, and what he admires, and what he
aspires to, he MUST betray. It's his fatality. He lives for the
moment when he can kiss Gerald in the Garden of Olives, or wherever
ANABEL. But Gerald shouldn't be kissed.
OLIVER. That's what I say.
ANABEL. And that's what his mother means as well, I suppose.
GERALD. Well--you've heard the voice of the people.
ANABEL. He isn't the people.
GERALD. I think he is, myself--the epitome.
OLIVER. No, he's a special type.
GERALD. Ineffectual, don't you think?
ANABEL. How pleased you are, Gerald! How pleased you are with
yourself! You love the turn with him.
GERALD. It's rather stimulating, you know.
ANABEL. It oughtn't to be, then.
OLIVER. He's you Judas, and you love him.
GERALD. Nothing so deep. He's just a sort of AEolian harp that
sings to the temper of the wind. I find him amusing.
ANABEL. I think it's boring.
OLIVER. And I think it's nasty.
GERALD. I believe you're both jealous of him. What do you think of
the working man, Oliver?
OLIVER. It seems to me he's in nearly as bad a way as the British
employer: he's nearly as much beside the point.
GERALD. What point?
OLIVER. Oh, just life.
GERALD. That's too vague, my boy. Do you think they'll ever make a
OLIVER. I can't tell. I don't see any good in it, if they do.
GERALD. It might clear the way--and it might block the way for ever:
depends what comes through. But, sincerely, I don't think they've
got it in them.
ANABEL. They may have something better.
GERALD. That suggestion doesn't interest me, Anabel. Ah, well, we
shall see what we shall see. Have a whisky and soda with me, Oliver,
and let the troubled course of this evening run to a smooth close.
It's quite like old times. Aren't you smoking, Anabel?
ANABEL. No, thanks.
GERALD. I believe you're a reformed character. So it won't be like
old times, after all.
ANABEL. I don't want old times. I want new ones.
GERALD. Wait till Job Arthur has risen like Anti-christ, and
proclaimed the resurrection of the gods.--Do you see Job Arthur
proclaiming Dionysos and Aphrodite?
ANABEL. It bores me. I don't like your mood. Good night.
GERALD. Oh, don't go.
ANABEL. Yes, good night. (Exit.)
OLIVER. She's NOT reformed, Gerald. She's the same old moral
character--moral to the last bit of her, really--as she always was.
GERALD. Is that what it is?--But one must be moral.
OLIVER. Oh, yes. Oliver Cromwell wasn't as moral as Anabel is--nor
such an iconoclast.
GERALD. Poor old Anabel!
OLIVER. How she hates the dark gods!
GERALD. And yet they cast a spell over her. Poor old Anabel! Well,
Oliver, is Bacchus the father of whisky?
OLIVER. I don't know.--I don't like you either. You seem to smile
all over yourself. It's objectionable. Good night.
GERALD. Oh, look here, this is censorious.
OLIVER. You smile to yourself. (Exit.)