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Act II

It is afternoon, and at a garden-table placed beneath the hollow tree, the COLONEL is poring over plans. Astride of a garden-chair, LEVER is smoking cigarettes. DICK is hanging Chinese lanterns to the hollow tree.


LEVER. Of course, if this level [pointing with his cigarette] peters out to the West we shall be in a tightish place; you know what a mine is at this stage, Colonel Hope.

COLONEL. [Absently.] Yes, yes. [Tracing a line.] What is there to prevent its running out here to the East?

LEVER. Well, nothing, except that as a matter of fact it doesn't.

COLONEL. [With some excitement.] I'm very glad you showed me these papers, very glad! I say that it's a most astonishing thing if the ore suddenly stops there. [A gleam of humour visits LEVER'S face.] I'm not an expert, but you ought to prove that ground to the East more thoroughly.

LEVER. [Quizzically.] Of course, sir, if you advise that----

COLONEL. If it were mine, I'd no more sit down under the belief that the ore stopped there than I 'd---There's a harmony in these things.

NEVER. I can only tell you what our experts say.

COLONEL. Ah! Experts! No faith in them--never had! Miners, lawyers, theologians, cowardly lot--pays them to be cowardly. When they have n't their own axes to grind, they've got their theories; a theory's a dangerous thing. [He loses himself in contemplation of the papers.] Now my theory is, you 're in strata here of what we call the Triassic Age.

LEVER. [Smiling faintly.] Ah!

COLONEL. You've struck a fault, that's what's happened. The ore may be as much as thirty or forty yards out; but it 's there, depend on it.

LEVER. Would you back that opinion, sir?

COLONEL. [With dignity.] I never give an opinion that I'm not prepared to back. I want to get to the bottom of this. What's to prevent the gold going down indefinitely?

LEVER. Nothing, so far as I know.

COLONEL. [With suspicion.] Eh!

LEVER. All I can tell you is: This is as far as we've got, and we want more money before we can get any farther.

COLONEL. [Absently.] Yes, yes; that's very usual.

LEVER. If you ask my personal opinion I think it's very doubtful that the gold does go down.

COLONEL. [Smiling.] Oh! a personal opinion a matter of this sort!

LEVER. [As though about to take the papers.] Perhaps we'd better close the sitting, sir; sorry to have bored you.

COLONEL. Now, now! Don't be so touchy! If I'm to put money in, I'm bound to look at it all round.

LEVER. [With lifted brows.] Please don't imagine that I want you to put money in.

COLONEL. Confound it, sir! D 'you suppose I take you for a Company promoter?

LEVER. Thank you!

COLONEL. [Looking at him doubtfully.] You've got Irish blood in you--um? You're so hasty!

LEVER. If you 're really thinking of taking shares--my advice to you is, don't!

COLONEL. [Regretfully.] If this were an ordinary gold mine, I wouldn't dream of looking at it, I want you to understand that. Nobody has a greater objection to gold mines than I.

LEVER. [Looks down at his host with half-closed eyes.] But it is a gold mine, Colonel Hope.

COLONEL. I know, I know; but I 've been into it for myself; I've formed my opinion personally. Now, what 's the reason you don't want me to invest?

LEVER. Well, if it doesn't turn out as you expect, you'll say it's my doing. I know what investors are.

COLONEL. [Dubiously.] If it were a Westralian or a Kaffir I would n't touch it with a pair of tongs! It 's not as if I were going to put much in! [He suddenly bends above the papers as though magnetically attracted.] I like these Triassic formations!

[DICK, who has hung the last lantern, moodily departs.]

LEVER. [Looking after him.] That young man seems depressed.

COLONEL. [As though remembering his principles.] I don't like mines, never have! [Suddenly absorbed again.] I tell you what, Lever--this thing's got tremendous possibilities. You don't seem to believe in it enough. No mine's any good without faith; until I see for myself, however, I shan't commit myself beyond a thousand.

LEVER. Are you serious, sir?

COLONEL. Certainly! I've been thinking it over ever since you told me Henty had fought shy. I 've a poor opinion of Henty. He's one of those fellows that says one thing and does another. An opportunist!

LEVER. [Slowly.] I'm afraid we're all that, more or less. [He sits beneath the hollow tree.]

COLONEL. A man never knows what he is himself. There 's my wife. She thinks she 's----By the way, don't say anything to her about this, please. And, Lever [nervously], I don't think, you know, this is quite the sort of thing for my niece.

LEVER. [Quietly.] I agree. I mean to get her out of it.

COLONEL. [A little taken aback.] Ah! You know, she--she's in a very delicate position, living by herself in London. [LEVER looks at him ironically.] You [very nervously] see a good deal of her? If it had n't been for Joy growing so fast, we shouldn't have had the child down here. Her mother ought to have her with her. Eh! Don't you think so?

LEVER. [Forcing a smile.] Mrs. Gwyn always seems to me to get on all right.

COLONEL. [As though making a discovery.] You know, I've found that when a woman's living alone and unprotected, the very least thing will set a lot of hags and jackanapes talking. [Hotly.] The more unprotected and helpless a woman is, the more they revel in it. If there's anything I hate in this world, it's those wretched creatures who babble about their neighbours' affairs.

LEVER. I agree with you.

COLONEL. One ought to be very careful not to give them--that is---- [checks himself confused; then hurrying on]--I suppose you and Joy get on all right?

LEVER. [Coolly.] Pretty well, thanks. I'm not exactly in Joy's line; have n't seen very much of her, in fact.

[Miss BEECH and JOY have been approaching from the house. But seeing LEVER, JOY turns abruptly, hesitates a moment, and with an angry gesture goes away.]

COLONEL [Unconscious.] Wonderfully affectionate little thing! Well, she'll be going home to-morrow!

MISS BEECH. [Who has been gazing after JOY.] Talkin' business, poor creatures?

LEVER. Oh, no! If you'll excuse me, I'll wash my hands before tea.

[He glances at the COLONEL poring over papers, and, shrugging his shoulders, strolls away.]

MISS BEECH. [Sitting in the swing.] I see your horrid papers.

COLONEL. Be quiet, Peachey!

MISS BEECH. On a beautiful summer's day, too.

COLONEL. That'll do now.

MISS BEECH. [Unmoved.] For every ounce you take out of a gold mine you put two in.

COLONEL. Who told you that rubbish?

MISS BEECH. [With devilry.] You did!

COLONEL. This is n't an ordinary gold mine.

MISS BEECH. Oh! quite a special thing.

[COLONEL stares at her, but subsiding at hey impassivity, he pores again over the papers.]

[Rosy has approached with a tea cloth.]

ROSE. If you please, sir, the Missis told me to lay the tea.

COLONEL. Go away! Ten fives fifty. Ten 5 16ths, Peachey?

MISS BEECH. I hate your nasty sums!

[ROSE goes away. The COLONEL Writes. MRS. HOPE'S voice is heard, "Now then, bring those chairs, you two. Not that one, Ernest." ERNEST and LETTY appear through the openings of the wall, each with a chair.]

COLONEL. [With dull exasperation.] What do you want?

LETTY. Tea, Father.

[She places her chair and goes away.]

ERNEST. That Johnny-bird Lever is too cocksure for me, Colonel. Those South American things are no good at all. I know all about them from young Scrotton. There's not one that's worth a red cent. If you want a flutter----

COLONEL. [Explosively.] Flutter! I'm not a gambler, sir!

ERNEST. Well, Colonel [with a smile], I only don't want you to chuck your money away on a stiff 'un. If you want anything good you should go to Mexico.

COLONEL. [Jumping up and holding out the map.] Go to [He stops in time.] What d'you call that, eh? M-E-X----

ERNEST. [Not to be embarrassed.] It all depend on what part.

COLONEL. You think you know everything--you think nothing's right unless it's your own idea! Be good enough to keep your advice to yourself.

ERNEST. [Moving with his chair, and stopping with a smile.] If you ask me, I should say it wasn't playing the game to put Molly into a thing like that.

COLONEL. What do you mean, sir?

ERNEST. Any Juggins can see that she's a bit gone on our friend.

COLONEL. [Freezingly.] Indeed!

ERNEST. He's not at all the sort of Johnny that appeals to me.

COLONEL. Really?

ERNEST. [Unmoved.] If I were you, Colonel, I should tip her the wink. He was hanging about her at Ascot all the time. It 's a bit thick!

[MRS. HOPE followed by ROSE appears from the house.]

COLONEL. [Stammering with passion.] Jackanapes!

MRS. HOPE. Don't stand there, Tom; clear those papers, and let Rose lay the table. Now, Ernest, go and get another chair.

[The COLONEL looks wildly round and sits beneath the hollow tree, with his head held in his hands. ROSE lays the cloth.]

MRS. BEECH. [Sitting beside the COLONEL.] Poor creature!

ERNEST. [Carrying his chair about with him.] Ask any Johnny in the City, he 'll tell you Mexico's a very tricky country--the people are awful rotters

MRS. HOPE. Put that chair down, Ernest.

[ERNEST looks at the chair, puts it down, opens his mouth, and goes away. ROSE follows him.]

What's he been talking about? You oughtn't to get so excited, Tom; is your head bad, old man? Here, take these papers! [She hands the papers to the COLONEL.] Peachey, go in and tell them tea 'll be ready in a minute, there 's a good soul? Oh! and on my dressing table you'll find a bottle of Eau de Cologne.

MRS. BEECH. Don't let him get in a temper again. That 's three times to-day!

[She goes towards the house. ]

COLONEL. Never met such a fellow in my life, the most opinionated, narrow-minded--thinks he knows everything. Whatever Letty could see in him I can't think. Pragmatical beggar!

MRS. HOPE. Now Tom! What have you been up to, to get into a state like this?

COLONEL. [Avoiding her eyes.] I shall lose my temper with him one of these days. He's got that confounded habit of thinking nobody can be right but himself.

MRS. HOPE. That's enough! I want to talk to you seriously! Dick's in love. I'm perfectly certain of it.

COLONEL. Love! Who's he in love with--Peachey?

MRS. HOPE. You can see it all over him. If I saw any signs of Joy's breaking out, I'd send them both away. I simply won't have it.

COLONEL. Why, she's a child!

MRS. HOPE. [Pursuing her own thoughts.] But she isn't--not yet. I've been watching her very carefully. She's more in love with her Mother than any one, follows her about like a dog! She's been quite rude to Mr. Lever.

COLONEL. [Pursuing his own thoughts.] I don't believe a word of it.

[He rises and walks about]

MRS. HOPE. Don't believe a word of what?

[The COLONEL is Silent.]

[Pursuing his thoughts with her own.]

If I thought there was anything between Molly and Mr. Lever, d 'you suppose I'd have him in the house?

[The COLONEL stops, and gives a sort of grunt.]

He's a very nice fellow; and I want you to pump him well, Tom, and see what there is in this mine.

COLONEL. [Uneasily.] Pump!

MRS. HOPE. [Looking at him curiously.] Yes, you 've been up to something! Now what is it?

COLONEL. Pump my own guest! I never heard of such a thing!

MRS. HOPE. There you are on your high horse! I do wish you had a little common-sense, Tom!

COLONEL. I'd as soon you asked me to sneak about eavesdropping! Pump!

MRS. HOPE. Well, what were you looking at these papers for? It does drive me so wild the way you throw away all the chances you have of making a little money. I've got you this opportunity, and you do nothing but rave up and down, and talk nonsense!

COLONEL. [In a high voice] Much you know about it! I 've taken a thousand shares in this mine

[He stops dead. There is a silence. ]

MRS. HOPE. You 've--WHAT? Without consulting me? Well, then, you 'll just go and take them out again!

COLONEL. You want me to----?

MRS. HOPE. The idea! As if you could trust your judgment in a thing like that! You 'll just go at once and say there was a mistake; then we 'll talk it over calmly.

COLONEL. [Drawing himself up.] Go back on what I 've said? Not if I lose every penny! First you worry me to take the shares, and then you worry me not--I won't have it, Nell, I won't have it!

MRS. HOPE. Well, if I'd thought you'd have forgotten what you said this morning and turned about like this, d'you suppose I'd have spoken to you at all? Now, do you?

COLONEL. Rubbish! If you can't see that this is a special opportunity!

[He walks away followed by MRS. HOPE, who endeavors to make him see her point of view. ERNEST and LETTY are now returning from the house armed with a third chair.]

LETTY. What's the matter with everybody? Is it the heat?

ERNEST. [Preoccupied and sitting in the swing.] That sportsman, Lever, you know, ought to be warned off.

LETTY. [Signing to ERNEST.] Where's Miss Joy, Rose?

ROSE. Don't know, Miss.

[Putting down the tray, she goes.]

[ROSE, has followed with the tea tray.]

LETTY. Ernie, be careful, you never know where Joy is.

ERNEST. [Preoccupied with his reflections.] Your old Dad 's as mad as a hatter with me.

LETTY. Why?

ERNEST. Well, I merely said what I thought, that Molly ought to look out what's she's doing, and he dropped on me like a cartload of bricks.

LETTY. The Dad's very fond of Molly.

ERNEST. But look here, d'you mean to tell me that she and Lever are n't----

LETTY. Don't! Suppose they are! If joy were to hear it'd be simply awful. I like Molly. I 'm not going to believe anything against her. I don't see the use of it. If it is, it is, and if it is n't, it is n't.

ERNEST. Well, all I know is that when I told her the mine was probably a frost she went for me like steam.

LETTY. Well, so should I. She was only sticking up for her friends.

ERNEST. Ask the old Peachey-bird. She knows a thing or two. Look here, I don't mind a man's being a bit of a sportsman, but I think Molly's bringin' him down here is too thick. Your old Dad's got one of his notions that because this Josser's his guest, he must keep him in a glass case, and take shares in his mine, and all the rest of it.

LETTY. I do think people are horrible, always thinking things. It's not as if Molly were a stranger. She's my own cousin. I 'm not going to believe anything about my own cousin. I simply won't.

ERNEST. [Reluctantly realising the difference that this makes.] I suppose it does make a difference, her bein' your cousin.

LETTY. Of course it does! I only hope to goodness no one will make Joy suspect----

[She stops and buts her finger to her lips, for JOY is coming towards them, as the tea-bell sounds. She is followed by DICK and MISS BEECH with the Eau de Cologne. The COLONEL and MRS. HOPE are also coming back, discussing still each other's point of view.]

JOY. Where 's Mother? Isn't she here?

MRS. HOPE. Now Joy, come and sit down; your mother's been told tea's ready; if she lets it get cold it's her lookout.

DICK. [Producing a rug, and spreading it beneath the tree.] Plenty of room, Joy.

JOY. I don't believe Mother knows, Aunt Nell.

[MRS. GWYN and LEVER appear in the opening of the wall.]

LETTY. [Touching ERNEST's arm.] Look, Ernie! Four couples and Peachey----

ERNEST. [Preoccupied.] What couples?

JOY. Oh! Mums, here you are!

[Seizing her, she turns her back on LEVER. They sit in various seats, and MRS. HOPE pours out the tea.]

MRS. HOPE. Hand the sandwiches to Mr. Lever, Peachey. It's our own jam, Mr. Lever.

LEVER. Thanks. [He takes a bite.] It's splendid!

MRS. GWYN. [With forced gaiety.] It's the first time I've ever seen you eat jam.

LEVER. [Smiling a forced smile.] Really! But I love it.

MRS. GWYN. [With a little bow.] You always refuse mine.

JOY. [Who has been staring at her enemy, suddenly.] I'm all burnt up! Are n't you simply boiled, Mother?

[She touches her Mother's forehead.]

MRS. GWYN. Ugh! You're quite clammy, Joy.

JOY. It's enough to make any one clammy.

[Her eyes go back to LEVER'S face as though to stab him.]

ERNEST. [From the swing.] I say, you know, the glass is going down.

LEVER. [Suavely.] The glass in the hall's steady enough.

ERNEST. Oh, I never go by that; that's a rotten old glass.

COLONEL. Oh! is it?

ERNEST. [Paying no attention.] I've got a little ripper--never puts you in the cart. Bet you what you like we have thunder before tomorrow night.

MISS BEECH. [Removing her gaze from JOY to LEVER.] You don't think we shall have it before to-night, do you?

LEVER. [Suavely.] I beg your pardon; did you speak to me?

MISS BEECH. I said, you don't think we shall have the thunder before to-night, do you?

[She resumes her watch on joy.]

LEVER. [Blandly.] Really, I don't see any signs of it.

[Joy, crossing to the rug, flings herself down. And DICK sits cross-legged, with his eyes fast fixed on her.]

MISS BEECH. [Eating.] People don't often see what they don't want to, do they?

[LEVER only lifts his brows.]

MRS. GWYN. [Quickly breaking ivy.] What are you talking about? The weather's perfect.

MISS BEECH. Isn't it?

MRS. HOPE. You'd better make a good tea, Peachey; nobody'll get anything till eight, and then only cold shoulder. You must just put up with no hot dinner, Mr. Lever.

LEVER. [Bowing.] Whatever is good enough for Miss Beech is good enough for me.

MISS BEECH. [Sardonically-taking another sandwich.] So you think!

MRS. GWYN. [With forced gaiety.] Don't be so absurd, Peachey.

[MISS BEECH, grunts slightly.]

COLONEL. [Once more busy with his papers.] I see the name of your engineer is Rodriguez--Italian, eh?

LEVER. Portuguese.

COLONEL. Don't like that!

LEVER. I believe he was born in England.

COLONEL. [Reassured.] Oh, was he? Ah!

ERNEST. Awful rotters, those Portuguese!

COLONEL. There you go!

LETTY. Well, Father, Ernie only said what you said.

MRS. HOPE. Now I want to ask you, Mr. Lever, is this gold mine safe? If it isn't--I simply won't allow Tom to take these shares; he can't afford it.

LEVER. It rather depends on what you call safe, Mrs. Hope.

MRS. HOPE. I don't want anything extravagant, of course; if they're going to pay their 10 per cent, regularly, and Tom can have his money out at any time--[There is a faint whistle from the swing.] I only want to know that it's a thoroughly genuine thing.

MRS. GWYN. [Indignantly.] As if Maurice would be a Director if it was n't?

MRS. HOPE. Now Molly, I'm simply asking----

MRS. GWYN. Yes, you are!

COLONEL. [Rising.] I'll take two thousand of those shares, Lever. To have my wife talk like that--I 'm quite ashamed.

LEVER. Oh, come, sir, Mrs. Hope only meant----

[MRS. GWYN looks eagerly at LEVER.]

DICK. [Quietly.] Let's go on the river, Joy.

[JOY rises, and goes to her Mother's chair.]

MRS. HOPE. Of course! What rubbish, Tom! As if any one ever invested money without making sure!

LEVER. [Ironically.] It seems a little difficult to make sure in this case. There isn't the smallest necessity for Colonel Hope to take any shares, and it looks to me as if he'd better not.

[He lights a cigarette.]

MRS. HOPE. Now, Mr. Lever, don't be offended! I'm very anxious for Tom to take the shares if you say the thing's so good.

LEVER. I 'm afraid I must ask to be left out, please.

JOY. [Whispering.] Mother, if you've finished, do come, I want to show you my room.

MRS. HOPE. I would n't say a word, only Tom's so easily taken in.

MRS. GWYN. [Fiercely.] Aunt Nell, how can't you? [Joy gives a little savage laugh.]

LETTY. [Hastily.] Ernie, will you play Dick and me? Come on, Dick!

[All three go out towards the lawn.]

MRS. HOPE. You ought to know your Uncle by this time, Molly. He's just like a child. He'd be a pauper to-morrow if I did n't see to things.

COLONEL. Understand once for all that I shall take two thousand shares in this mine. I 'm--I 'm humiliated. [He turns and goes towards the house.]

MRS. HOPE. Well, what on earth have I said?

[She hurries after him. ]

MRS. GWYN. [In a low voice as she passes.] You need n't insult my friends!

[LEVER, shrugging his shoulders, has strolled aside. JOY, with a passionate movement seen only by Miss BEECH, goes off towards the house. MISS BEECH and MRS. GWYN aye left alone beside the remnants of the feast.]

MISS BEECH. Molly!

[MRS. GWYN looks up startled.]

Take care, Molly, take care! The child! Can't you see? [Apostrophising LEVER.] Take care, Molly, take care!

LEVER. [Coming back.] Awfully hot, is n't it?

MISS BEECH. Ah! and it'll be hotter if we don't mind.

LEVER. [Suavely.] Do we control these things?

[MISS BEECH looking from face to face, nods her head repeatedly; then gathering her skirts she walks towards the house. MRS. GWYN sits motionless, staying before her.]

Extraordinary old lady! [He pitches away his cigarette.] What's the matter with her, Molly?

MRS. GWYN, [With an effort.] Oh! Peachey's a character!

LEVER. [Frowning.] So I see! [There is a silence.]

MRS. GWYN. Maurice!

LEVER. Yes.

MRS. GWYN. Aunt Nell's hopeless, you mustn't mind her.

LEVER. [In a dubious and ironic voice.] My dear girl, I 've too much to bother me to mind trifles like that.

MRS. GWYN. [Going to him suddenly.] Tell me, won't you?

[LEVER shrugs his shoulders.]

A month ago you'd have told me soon enough!

LEVER. Now, Molly!

MRS. GWYN. Ah! [With a bitter smile.] The Spring's soon over.

LEVER. It 's always Spring between us.

MRS. GWYN. Is it?

LEVER. You did n't tell me what you were thinking about just now when you sat there like stone.

MRS. GWYN. It does n't do for a woman to say too much.

LEVER. Have I been so bad to you that you need feel like that, Molly?

MRS. GWYN. [With a little warm squeeze of his arm.] Oh! my dear, it's only that I'm so---

[She stops.]

LEVER. [Gently]. So what?

MRS. GWYN. [In a low voice.] It's hateful here.

LEVER. I didn't want to come. I don't understand why you suggested it. [MRS. GWYN is silent.] It's been a mistake.

MRS. GWYN. [Her eyes fixed on the ground.] Joy comes home to-morrow. I thought if I brought you here--I should know----

LEVER. [Vexedly.] Um!

MRS. GWYN. [Losing her control.] Can't you SEE? It haunts me? How are we to go on? I must know--I must know!

LEVER. I don't see that my coming----

MRS. GWYN. I thought I should have more confidence; I thought I should be able to face it better in London, if you came down here openly--and now--I feel I must n't speak or look at you.

LEVER. You don't think your Aunt----

MRS. GWYN. [Scornfully.] She! It's only Joy I care about.

LEVER. [Frowning.] We must be more careful, that's all. We mustn't give ourselves away again, as we were doing just now.

MRS. GWYN. When any one says anything horrid to you, I can't help it.

[She puts her hand on the label of his coat.]

LEVER. My dear child, take care!

[MRS. GWYN drops her hand. She throws her head back, and her throat is seen to work as though she were gulping down a bitter draught. She moves away.]

[Following hastily.] Don't dear, don't! I only meant--Come, Molly, let's be sensible. I want to tell you something about the mine.

MRS. GWYN. [With a quavering smile.] Yes-let 's talk sensibly, and walk properly in this sensible, proper place.

[LEVER is seen trying to soothe her, and yet to walk properly. As they disappear, they are viewed by JOY, who, like the shadow parted from its figure, has come to join it again. She stands now, foiled, a carnation in her hand; then flings herself on a chair, and leans her elbows on the table.]

JOY. I hate him! Pig!

ROSE. [Who has come to clear the tea things.] Did you call, Miss?

JOY. Not you!

ROSE. [Motionless.] No, Miss!

JOY. [Leaning back and tearing the flower.] Oh! do hurry up, Rose!

ROSE. [Collects the tea things.] Mr. Dick's coming down the path! Aren't I going to get you to do your frock, Miss Joy?

JOY. No.

ROSE. What will the Missis say?

JOY. Oh, don't be so stuck, Rose!

[ROSE goes, but DICK has come.]

DICK. Come on the river, Joy, just for half an hour, as far as the kingfishers--do! [Joy shakes her head.] Why not? It 'll be so jolly and cool. I'm most awfully sorry if I worried you this morning. I didn't mean to. I won't again, I promise. [Joy slides a look at him, and from that look he gains a little courage.] Do come! It'll be the last time. I feel it awfully, Joy.

JOY. There's nothing to hurt you!

DICK. [Gloomily.] Isn't there--when you're like this?

JOY. [In a hard voice.] If you don't like me, why do you follow me about?

DICK. What is the matter?

JOY. [Looking up, as if for want of air.] Oh! Don't!

DICK. Oh, Joy, what is the matter? Is it the heat?

JOY. [With a little laugh.] Yes.

DICK. Have some Eau de Cologne. I 'll make you a bandage. [He takes the Eau de Cologne, and makes a bandage with his handkerchief.] It's quite clean.

JOY. Oh, Dick, you are so funny!

DICK. [Bandaging her forehead.] I can't bear you to feel bad; it puts me off completely. I mean I don't generally make a fuss about people, but when it 's you----

JOY. [Suddenly.] I'm all right.

DICK. Is that comfy?

JOY. [With her chin up, and her eyes fast closed.] Quite.

DICK. I'm not going to stay and worry you. You ought to rest. Only, Joy! Look here! If you want me to do anything for you, any time----

JOY. [Half opening her eyes.] Only to go away.

[DICK bites his lips and walks away.]

Dick--[softly]--Dick!

[DICK stops.]

I didn't mean that; will you get me some water-irises for this evening?

DICK. Won't I? [He goes to the hollow tree and from its darkness takes a bucket and a boat-hook.] I know where there are some rippers!

[JOY stays unmoving with her eyes half closed.]

Are you sure you 're all right. Joy? You 'll just rest here in the shade, won't you, till I come back?--it 'll do you no end of good. I shan't be twenty minutes.

[He goes, but cannot help returning softly, to make sure.]

You're quite sure you 're all right?

[JOY nods. He goes away towards the river. But there is no rest for JOY. The voices of MRS. GWYN and LEVER are heard returning.]

JOY. [With a gesture of anger.] Hateful! Hateful!

[She runs away.]

[MRS. GWYN and LEVER are seen approaching; they pass the tree, in conversation.]

MRS. GWYN. But I don't see why, Maurice.

LEVER. We mean to sell the mine; we must do some more work on it, and for that we must have money.

MRS. GWYN. If you only want a little, I should have thought you could have got it in a minute in the City.

LEVER. [Shaking his head.] No, no; we must get it privately.

MRS. GWYN. [Doubtfully.] Oh! [She slowly adds.] Then it isn't such a good thing!

[And she does not look at him.]

LEVER. Well, we mean to sell it.

MRS. GWYN. What about the people who buy?

LEVER. [Dubiously regarding her.] My dear girl, they've just as much chance as we had. It 's not my business to think of them. There's YOUR thousand pounds----

MRS. GWYN. [Softly.] Don't bother about my money, Maurice. I don't want you to do anything not quite----

LEVER. [Evasively.] Oh! There's my brother's and my sister's too. I 'm not going to let any of you run any risk. When we all went in for it the thing looked splendid; it 's only the last month that we 've had doubts. What bothers me now is your Uncle. I don't want him to take these shares. It looks as if I'd come here on purpose.

MRS. GWYN. Oh! he mustn't take them!

LEVER. That 's all very well; but it 's not so simple.

MRS. GWYN. [Shyly.] But, Maurice, have you told him about the selling?

LEVER. [Gloomily, under the hollow tree.] It 's a Board secret. I'd no business to tell even you.

MRS. GWYN. But he thinks he's taking shares in a good--a permanent thing.

LEVER. You can't go into a mining venture without some risk.

MRS. GWYN. Oh yes, I know--but--but Uncle Tom is such a dear!

LEVER. [Stubbornly.] I can't help his being the sort of man he is. I did n't want him to take these shares; I told him so in so many words. Put yourself in my place, Molly: how can I go to him and say, "This thing may turn out rotten," when he knows I got you to put your money into it?

[But JOY, the lost shadow, has come back. She moves forward resolutely. They are divided from her by the hollow tree; she is unseen. She stops.]

MRS. GWYN. I think he ought to be told about the selling; it 's not fair.

LEVER. What on earth made him rush at the thing like that? I don't understand that kind of man.

MRS. GWYN. [Impulsively.] I must tell him, Maurice; I can't let him take the shares without----

[She puts her hand on his arm.]

[Joy turns, as if to go back whence she came, but stops once more.]

LEVER. [Slowly and very quietly.] I did n't think you'd give me away, Molly.

MRS. GWYN. I don't think I quite understand.

LEVER. If you tell the Colonel about this sale the poor old chap will think me a man that you ought to have nothing to do with. Do you want that?

[MRS. GWYN, giving her lover a long look, touches his sleeve. JOY, slipping behind the hollow tree, has gone.]

You can't act in a case like this as if you 'd only a principle to consider. It 's the--the special circumstances.

MRS. GWYN. [With a faint smile.] But you'll be glad to get the money won't you?

LEVER. By George! if you're going to take it like this, Molly

MRS. GWYN. Don't!

LEVER. We may not sell after all, dear, we may find it turn out trumps.

MRS. GWYN. [With a shiver.] I don't want to hear any more. I know women don't understand. [Impulsively.] It's only that I can't bear any one should think that you----

LEVER. [Distressed.] For goodness sake don't look like that, Molly! Of course, I'll speak to your Uncle. I'll stop him somehow, even if I have to make a fool of myself. I 'll do anything you want----

MRS. GWYN. I feel as if I were being smothered here.

LEVER. It 's only for one day.

MRS. GWYN. [With sudden tenderness.] It's not your fault, dear. I ought to have known how it would be. Well, let's go in!

[She sets her lips, and walks towards the house with LEVER following. But no sooner has she disappeared than JOY comes running after; she stops, as though throwing down a challenge. Her cheeks and ears are burning.]

JOY. Mother!

[After a moment MRS. GWYN reappears in the opening of the wall.]

MRS. GWYN. Oh! here you are!

JOY. [Breathlessly.] Yes.

MRS. GWYN. [Uncertainly.] Where--have you been? You look dreadfully hot; have you been running?

JOY. Yes----no.

MRS. GWYN. [Looking at her fixedly.] What's the matter--you 're trembling! [Softly.] Are n't you well, dear?

JOY. Yes--I don't know.

MRS. GWYN. What is it, darling?

JOY. [Suddenly clinging to her.] Oh! Mother!

MRS. GWYN. I don't understand.

JOY. [Breathlessly.] Oh, Mother, let me go back home with you now at once---- MRS. GWYN. [Her face hardening.] Why? What on earth----

JOY. I can't stay here.

MRS. GWYN. But why?

JOY. I want to be with you--Oh! Mother, don't you love me?

MRS. GWYN. [With a faint smile.] Of course I love you, Joy.

JOY. Ah! but you love him more.

MRS. GWYN. Love him--whom?

JOY. Oh! Mother, I did n't--[She tries to take her Mother's hand, but fails.] Oh! don't.

MRS. GWYN. You'd better explain what you mean, I think.

JOY. I want to get you to--he--he 's--he 'snot----!

MRS. GWYN. [Frigidly.] Really, Joy!

JOY. [Passionately.] I'll fight against him, and I know there's something wrong about----

[She stops.]

MRS. GWYN. About what?

JOY. Let's tell Uncle Tom, Mother, and go away.

MRS. GWYN. Tell Uncle--Tom--what?

JOY. [Looking down and almost whispering.] About--about--the mine.

MRS. GWYN. What about the mine? What do you mean? [Fiercely.] Have you been spying on me?

JOY. [Shrinking.] No! oh, no!

MRS. GWYN. Where were you?

JOY. [Just above her breath.] I--I heard something.

MRS. GWYN. [Bitterly.] But you were not spying?

JOY. I was n't--I wasn't! I didn't want--to hear. I only heard a little. I couldn't help listening, Mother.

MRS. GWYN. [With a little laugh.] Couldn't help listening?

JOY. [Through her teeth.] I hate him. I didn't mean to listen, but I hate him.

MRS. GWYN. I see. Why do you hate him?

[There is a silence.]

JOY. He--he----[She stops.]

MRS. GWYN. Yes?

JOY. [With a sort of despair.] I don't know. Oh! I don't know! But I feel----

MRS. GWYN. I can't reason with you. As to what you heard, it 's-- ridiculous.

JOY. It 's not that. It 's--it 's you!

MRS. GWYN. [Stonily.] I don't know what you mean.

JOY. [Passionately.] I wish Dad were here!

MRS. GWYN. Do you love your Father as much as me?

JOY. Oh! Mother, no-you know I don't.

MRS. GWYN. [Resentfully.] Then why do you want him?

JOY. [Almost under her breath.] Because of that man.

MRS. GWYN. Indeed!

JOY. I will never--never make friends with him.

MRS. GWYN. [Cuttingly.] I have not asked you to.

JOY. [With a blind movement of her hand.] Oh, Mother!

[MRS. GWYN half turns away.]

Mother--won't you? Let's tell Uncle Tom and go away from him?

MRS. GWYN. If you were not, a child, Joy, you wouldn't say such things.

JOY. [Eagerly.] I'm not a child, I'm--I'm a woman. I am.

MRS. GWYN. No! You--are--not a woman, Joy.

[She sees joy throw up her arms as though warding off a blow, and turning finds that LEVER is standing in the opening of the wall.]

LEVER. [Looking from face to face.] What's the matter? [There is no answer.] What is it, Joy?

JOY. [Passionately.] I heard you, I don't care who knows. I'd listen again.

LEVER. [Impassively.] Ah! and what did I say that was so very dreadful?

JOY. You're a--a--you 're a--coward!

MRS. GWYN. [With a sort of groan.] Joy!

LEVER. [Stepping up to JOY, and standing with his hands behind him-- in a low voice.] Now hit me in the face--hit me--hit me as hard as you can. Go on, Joy, it'll do you good.

[Joy raises her clenched hand, but drops it, and hides her face.]

Why don't you? I'm not pretending!

[Joy makes no sign.]

Come, joy; you'll make yourself ill, and that won't help, will it?

[But joy still makes no sign.]

[With determination.] What's the matter? now come--tell me!

JOY. [In a stifled, sullen voice.] Will you leave my mother alone?

MRS. GWYN. Oh! my dear Joy, don't be silly!

JOY. [Wincing; then with sudden passion.] I defy you--I defy you! [She rushes from their sight.]

MRS. GWYN. [With a movement of distress.] Oh!

LEVER. [Turning to MRS. GWYN with a protecting gesture.] Never mind, dear! It'll be--it'll be all right!

[But the expression of his face is not the expression of his words.]


The curtain falls.


John Galsworthy

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