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Act II

SCENE I:


Afternoon, three weeks later, in the card room of a London Club. A fire is burning, Left. A door, Right, leads to the billiard-room. Rather Left of Centre, at a card table, LORD ST ERTH, an old John Bull, sits facing the audience; to his right is GENERAL CANYNGE, to his left AUGUSTUS BORRING, an essential Clubman, about thirty-five years old, with a very slight and rather becoming stammer or click in his speech. The fourth Bridge player, CHARLES WINSOR, stands with his back to the fire.


BORRING. And the r-rub.

WINSOR. By George! You do hold cards, Borring.

ST ERTH. [Who has lost] Not a patch on the old whist--this game. Don't know why I play it--never did.

CANYNGE. St Erth, shall we raise the flag for whist again?

WINSOR. No go, General. You can't go back on pace. No getting a man to walk when he knows he can fly. The young men won't look at it.

BORRING. Better develop it so that t-two can sit out, General.

ST ERTH. We ought to have stuck to the old game. Wish I'd gone to Newmarket, Canynge, in spite of the weather.

CANYNGE. [Looking at his watch] Let's hear what's won the Cambridgeshire. Ring, won't you, WINSOR? [WINSOR rings.]

ST ERTH. By the way, Canynge, young De Levis was blackballed.

CANYNGE. What!

ST ERTH. I looked in on my way down.

CANYNGE sits very still, and WINSOR utters a disturbed sound.

BORRING. But of c-course he was, General. What did you expect?

A FOOTMAN enters.

FOOTMAN. Yes, my lord?

ST ERTH. What won the Cambridgeshire?

FOOTMAN. Rosemary, my lord. Sherbet second; Barbizon third. Nine to one the winner.

WINSOR. Thank you. That's all.

FOOTMAN goes.

BORRING. Rosemary! And De Levis sold her! But he got a good p-price, I suppose.

The other three look at him.

ST ERTH. Many a slip between price and pocket, young man.

CANYNGE. Cut! [They cut].

BORRING. I say, is that the yarn that's going round about his having had a lot of m-money stolen in a country house? By Jove! He'll be pretty s-sick.

WINSOR. You and I, Borring.

He sits down in CANYNGE'S chair, and the GENERAL takes his place by the fire.

BORRING. Phew! Won't Dancy be mad! He gave that filly away to save her keep. He was rather pleased to find somebody who'd take her. Bentman must have won a p-pot. She was at thirty-threes a fortnight ago.

ST ERTH. All the money goes to fellows who don't know a horse from a haystack.

CANYNGE. [Profoundly] And care less. Yes! We want men racing to whom a horse means something.

BORRING. I thought the horse m-meant the same to everyone, General-- chance to get the b-better of one's neighbour.

CANYNGE. [With feeling] The horse is a noble animal, sir, as you'd know if you'd owed your life to them as often as I have.

BORRING. They always try to take mine, General. I shall never belong to the noble f-fellowship of the horse.

ST ERTH. [Drily] Evidently. Deal!

As BORRING begins to deal the door is opened and MAJOR COLFORD appears--a lean and moustached cavalryman.

BORRING. Hallo, C-Colford.

COLFORD. General!

Something in the tone of his voice brings them all to a standstill.

COLFORD. I want your advice. Young De Levis in there [He points to the billiard-room from which he has just come] has started a blasphemous story--

CANYNGE. One moment. Mr Borring, d'you mind--

COLFORD. It makes no odds, General. Four of us in there heard him. He's saying it was Ronald Dancy robbed him down at WINSOR's. The fellow's mad over losing the price of that filly now she's won the Cambridgeshire.

BORRING. [All ears] Dancy! Great S-Scott!

COLFORD. Dancy's in the Club. If he hadn't been I'd have taken it on myself to wring the bounder's neck.

WINSOR and BORRING have risen. ST ERTH alone remains seated.

CANYNGE. [After consulting ST ERTH with a look] Ask De Levis to be good enough to come in here. Borring, you might see that Dancy doesn't leave the Club. We shall want him. Don't say anything to him, and use your tact to keep people off.

BORRING goes out, followed by COLFORD. WINSOR. Result of hearing he was black-balled--pretty slippy.

CANYNGE. St Erth, I told you there was good reason when I asked you to back young De Levis. WINSOR and I knew of this insinuation; I wanted to keep his tongue quiet. It's just wild assertion; to have it bandied about was unfair to Dancy. The duel used to keep people's tongues in order.

ST ERTH. H'm! It never settled anything, except who could shoot straightest.

COLFORD. [Re-appearing] De Levis says he's nothing to add to what he said to you before, on the subject.

CANYNGE. Kindly tell him that if he wishes to remain a member of this Club he must account to the Committee for such a charge against a fellow-member. Four of us are here, and form a quorum.

COLFORD goes out again.

ST ERTH. Did Kentman ever give the police the numbers of those notes, WINSOR?

WINSOR. He only had the numbers of two--the hundred, and one of the fifties.

ST ERTH. And they haven't traced 'em?

WINSOR. Not yet.

As he speaks, DE LEVIS comes in. He is in a highly-coloured, not to say excited state. COLFORD follows him.

DE LEVIS. Well, General Canynge! It's a little too strong all this-- a little too strong. [Under emotion his voice is slightly more exotic].

CANYNGE. [Calmly] It is obvious, Mr De Levis, that you and Captain Dancy can't both remain members of this Club. We ask you for an explanation before requesting one resignation or the other.

DE LEVIS. You've let me down.

CANYNGE. What!

DE LEVIS. Well, I shall tell people that you and Lord St Erth backed me up for one Club, and asked me to resign from another.

CANYNGE. It's a matter of indifference to me, sir, what you tell people.

ST ERTH. [Drily] You seem a venomous young man.

DE LEVIS. I'll tell you what seems to me venomous, my lord--chasing a man like a pack of hounds because he isn't your breed.

CANYNGE. You appear to have your breed on the brain, sir. Nobody else does, so far as I know.

DE LEVIS. Suppose I had robbed Dancy, would you chase him out for complaining of it?

COLFORD. My God! If you repeat that--

CANYNGE. Steady, Colford!

WINSOR. You make this accusation that Dancy stole your money in my house on no proof--no proof; and you expect Dancy's friends to treat you as if you were a gentleman! That's too strong, if you like!

DE LEVIS. No proof? Bentman told me at Newmarket yesterday that Dancy did know of the sale. He told Goole, and Goole says that he himself spoke of it to Dancy.

WINSOR. Well--if he did?

DE LEVIS. Dancy told you he didn't know of it in General Canynge's presence, and mine. [To CANYNGE] You can't deny that, if you want to.

CANYNGE. Choose your expressions more nicely, please!

DE LEVIS. Proof! Did they find any footmarks in the grounds below that torn creeper? Not a sign! You saw how he can jump; he won ten pounds from me that same evening betting on what he knew was a certainty. That's your Dancy--a common sharper!

CANYNGE. [Nodding towards the billiard-room] Are those fellows still in there, Colford?

COLFORD. Yes.

CANYNGE. Then bring Dancy up, will you? But don't say anything to him.

COLFORD. [To DE LEVIS] You may think yourself damned lucky if he doesn't break your neck.

He goes out. The three who are left with DE LEVIS avert their eyes from him.

DE LEVIS. [Smouldering] I have a memory, and a sting too. Yes, my lord--since you are good enough to call me venomous. [To CANYNGE] I quite understand--I'm marked for Coventry now, whatever happens. Well, I'll take Dancy with me.

ST ERTH. [To himself] This Club has always had a decent, quiet name.

WINSOR. Are you going to retract, and apologise in front of Dancy and the members who heard you?

DE LEVIS. No fear!

ST ERTH. You must be a very rich man, sir. A jury is likely to take the view that money can hardly compensate for an accusation of that sort.

DE LEVIS stands silent. CANYNGE. Courts of law require proof.

ST ERTH. He can make it a criminal action.

WINSOR. Unless you stop this at once, you may find yourself in prison. If you can stop it, that is.

ST ERTH. If I were young Dancy, nothing should induce me.

DE LEVIS. But you didn't steal my money, Lord St Erth.

ST ERTH. You're deuced positive, sir. So far as I could understand it, there were a dozen ways you could have been robbed. It seems to me you value other men's reputations very lightly.

DE LEVIS. Confront me with Dancy and give me fair play.

WINSOR. [Aside to CANYNGE] Is it fair to Dancy not to let him know?

CANYNGE. Our duty is to the Club now, WINSOR. We must have this cleared up.

COLFORD comes in, followed by BORRING and DANCY.

ST ERTH. Captain Dancy, a serious accusation has been made against you by this gentleman in the presence of several members of the Club.

DANCY. What is it?

ST ERTH. That you robbed him of that money at WINSOR's.

DANCY. [Hard and tense] Indeed! On what grounds is he good enough to say that?

DE LEVIS. [Tense too] You gave me that filly to save yourself her keep, and you've been mad about it ever since; you knew from Goole that I had sold her to Kentman and been paid in cash, yet I heard you myself deny that you knew it. You had the next room to me, and you can jump like a cat, as we saw that evening; I found some creepers crushed by a weight on my balcony on that side. When I went to the bath your door was open, and when I came back it was shut.

CANYNGE. That's the first we have heard about the door.

DE LEVIS. I remembered it afterwards.

ST ERTH. Well, Dancy?

DANCY. [With intense deliberation] I'll settle this matter with any weapons, when and where he likes.

ST ERTH. [Drily] It can't be settled that way--you know very well. You must take it to the Courts, unless he retracts.

DANCY. Will you retract?

DE LEVIS. Why did you tell General Canynge you didn't know Kentman had paid me in cash?

DANCY. Because I didn't.

DE LEVIS. Then Kentman and Goole lied--for no reason?

DANCY. That's nothing to do with me.

DE LEVIS. If you were downstairs all the time, as you say, why was your door first open and then shut?

DANCY. Being downstairs, how should I know? The wind, probably.

DE LEVIS. I should like to hear what your wife says about it.

DANCY. Leave my wife alone, you damned Jew!

ST ERTH. Captain Dancy!

DE LEVIS. [White with rage] Thief!

DANCY. Will you fight?

DE LEVIS. You're very smart-dead men tell no tales. No! Bring your action, and we shall see.

DANCY takes a step towards him, but CANYNGE and WINSOR interpose.

ST ERTH. That'll do, Mr De Levis; we won't keep you. [He looks round] Kindly consider your membership suspended till this matter has been threshed out.

DE LEVIS. [Tremulous with anger] Don't trouble yourselves about my membership. I resign it. [To DANCY] You called me a damned Jew. My race was old when you were all savages. I am proud to be a Jew. Au revoir, in the Courts.

He goes out, and silence follows his departure.

ST ERTH. Well, Captain Dancy?

DANCY. If the brute won't fight, what am I to do, sir?

ST ERTH. We've told you--take action, to clear your name.

DANCY. Colford, you saw me in the hall writing letters after our game.

COLFORD. Certainly I did; you were there when I went to the smoking-room.

CANYNGE. How long after you left the billiard-room?

COLFORD. About five minutes.

DANCY. It's impossible for me to prove that I was there all the time.

CANYNGE. It's for De Levis to prove what he asserts. You heard what he said about Goole?

DANCY. If he told me, I didn't take it in.

ST ERTH. This concerns the honour of the Club. Are you going to take action?

DANCY. [Slowly] That is a very expensive business, Lord St Erth, and I'm hard up. I must think it over. [He looks round from face to face] Am I to take it that there is a doubt in your minds, gentlemen?

COLFORD. [Emphatically] No.

CANYNGE. That's not the question, Dancy. This accusation was overheard by various members, and we represent the Club. If you don't take action, judgment will naturally go by default.

DANCY. I might prefer to look on the whole thing as beneath contempt.

He turns and goes out. When he is gone there is an even longer silence than after DE LEVIS's departure.

ST ERTH. [Abruptly] I don't like it.

WINSOR. I've known him all his life.

COLFORD. You may have my head if he did it, Lord St Erth. He and I have been in too many holes together. By Gad! My toe itches for that fellow's butt end.

BORRING. I'm sorry; but has he t-taken it in quite the right way? I should have thought--hearing it s-suddenly--

COLFORD. Bosh!

WINSOR. It's perfectly damnable for him.

ST ERTH. More damnable if he did it, WINSOR.

BORRING. The Courts are b-beastly distrustful, don't you know.

COLFORD. His word's good enough for me.

CANYNGE. We're as anxious to believe Dancy as you, Colford, for the honour of the Army and the Club.

WINSOR. Of course, he'll bring a case, when he's thought it over.

ST ERTH. What are we to do in the meantime?

COLFORD. If Dancy's asked to resign, you may take my resignation too.

BORRING. I thought his wanting to f-fight him a bit screeny.

COLFORD. Wouldn't you have wanted a shot at the brute? A law court? Pah!

WINSOR. Yes. What'll be his position even if he wins?

BORRING. Damages, and a stain on his c-character.

WINSOR. Quite so, unless they find the real thief. People always believe the worst.

COLFORD. [Glaring at BORRING] They do.

CANYNGE. There is no decent way out of a thing of this sort.

ST ERTH. No. [Rising] It leaves a bad taste. I'm sorry for young Mrs Dancy--poor woman!

BORRING. Are you going to play any more?

ST ERTH. [Abruptly] No, sir. Good night to you. Canynge, can I give you a lift?

He goes out, followed by CANYNGE. BORRING.

[After a slight pause] Well, I shall go and take the t-temperature of the Club.

He goes out.

COLFORD. Damn that effeminate stammering chap! What can we do for Dancy, WINSOR?

WINSOR. Colford! [A slight pause] The General felt his coat sleeve that night, and it was wet.

COLFORD. Well! What proof's that? No, by George! An old school-fellow, a brother officer, and a pal.

WINSOR. If he did do it--

COLFORD. He didn't. But if he did, I'd stick to him, and see him through it, if I could.

WINSOR walks over to the fire, stares into it, turns round and stares at COLFORD, who is standing motionless.

COLFORD. Yes, by God!


CURTAIN.



SCENE II:


[NOTE.--This should be a small set capable of being set quickly within that of the previous scene.]

Morning of the following day. The DANCYS' flat. In the sitting-room of this small abode MABEL DANCY and MARGARET ORME are sitting full face to the audience, on a couch in the centre of the room, in front of the imaginary window. There is a fireplace, Left, with fire burning; a door below it, Left; and a door on the Right, facing the audience, leads to a corridor and the outer door of the flat, which is visible. Their voices are heard in rapid exchange; then as the curtain rises, so does MABEL.


MABEL. But it's monstrous!

MARGARET. Of course! [She lights a cigarette and hands the case to MABEL, who, however, sees nothing but her own thoughts] De Levis might just as well have pitched on me, except that I can't jump more than six inches in these skirts.

MABEL. It's wicked! Yesterday afternoon at the Club, did you say? Ronny hasn't said a word to me. Why?

MARGARET. [With a long puff of smoke] Doesn't want you bothered.

MABEL. But----Good heavens!----Me!

MARGARET. Haven't you found out, Mabel, that he isn't exactly communicative? No desperate character is.

MABEL. Ronny?

MARGARET. Gracious! Wives are at a disadvantage, especially early on. You've never hunted with him, my dear. I have. He takes more sudden decisions than any man I ever knew. He's taking one now, I'll bet.

MABEL. That beast, De Levis! I was in our room next door all the time.

MARGARET. Was the door into Ronny's dressing-room open?

MABEL. I don't know; I--I think it was.

MARGARET. Well, you can say so in Court any way. Not that it matters. Wives are liars by law.

MABEL. [Staring down at her] What do you mean--Court?

MARGARET. My dear, he'll have to bring an action for defamation of character, or whatever they call it.

MABEL. Were they talking of this last night at the WINSOR's?

MARGARET. Well, you know a dinner-table, Mabel--Scandal is heaven-sent at this time of year.

MABEL. It's terrible, such a thing--terrible!

MARGARET. [Gloomily] If only Ronny weren't known to be so broke.

MABEL. [With her hands to her forehead] I can't realise--I simply can't. If there's a case would it be all right afterwards?

MARGARET. Do you remember St Offert--cards? No, you wouldn't--you were in high frocks. Well, St Offert got damages, but he also got the hoof, underneath. He lives in Ireland. There isn't the slightest connection, so far as I can see, Mabel, between innocence and reputation. Look at me!

MABEL. We'll fight it tooth and nail!

MARGARET. Mabel, you're pure wool, right through; everybody's sorry for you.

MABEL. It's for him they ought--

MARGARET. [Again handing the cigarette case] Do smoke, old thing.

MABEL takes a cigarette this time, but does not light it.

It isn't altogether simple. General Canynge was there last night. You don't mind my being beastly frank, do you?

MABEL. No. I want it.

MARGARET. Well, he's all for esprit de corps and that. But he was awfully silent.

MABEL. I hate half-hearted friends. Loyalty comes before everything.

MARGARET. Ye-es; but loyalties cut up against each other sometimes, you know.

MABEL. I must see Ronny. D'you mind if I go and try to get him on the telephone?

MARGARET. Rather not.

MABEL goes out by the door Left.

Poor kid!

She curls herself into a corner of the sofa, as if trying to get away from life. The bell rings. MARGARET stirs, gets up, and goes out into the corridor, where she opens the door to LADY ADELA WINSOR, whom she precedes into the sitting-room.

Enter the second murderer! D'you know that child knew nothing?

LADY A. Where is she?

MARGARET. Telephoning. Adela, if there's going to be an action, we shall be witnesses. I shall wear black georgette with an ecru hat. Have you ever given evidence?

LADY A. Never.

MARGARET. It must be too frightfully thrilling.

LADY A. Oh! Why did I ever ask that wretch De Levis? I used to think him pathetic. Meg did you know----Ronald Dancy's coat was wet? The General happened to feel it.

MARGARET. So that's why he was so silent.

LADY A. Yes; and after the scene in the Club yesterday he went to see those bookmakers, and Goole--what a name!--is sure he told Dancy about the sale.

MARGARET. [Suddenly] I don't care. He's my third cousin. Don't you feel you couldn't, Adela?

LADY A. Couldn't--what?

MARGARET. Stand for De Levis against one of ourselves?

LADY A. That's very narrow, Meg.

MARGARET. Oh! I know lots of splendid Jews, and I rather liked little Ferdy; but when it comes to the point--! They all stick together; why shouldn't we? It's in the blood. Open your jugular, and see if you haven't got it.

LADY A. My dear, my great grandmother was a Jewess. I'm very proud of her.

MARGARET. Inoculated. [Stretching herself] Prejudices, Adela--or are they loyalties--I don't know--cris-cross--we all cut each other's throats from the best of motives.

LADY A. Oh! I shall remember that. Delightful! [Holding up a finger] You got it from Bergson, Meg. Isn't he wonderful?

MARGARET. Yes; have you ever read him?

LADY A. Well--No. [Looking at the bedroom door] That poor child! I quite agree. I shall tell every body it's ridiculous. You don't really think Ronald Dancy--?

MARGARET. I don't know, Adela. There are people who simply can't live without danger. I'm rather like that myself. They're all right when they're getting the D.S.O. or shooting man-eaters; but if there's no excitement going, they'll make it--out of sheer craving. I've seen Ronny Dancy do the maddest things for no mortal reason except the risk. He's had a past, you know.

LADY A. Oh! Do tell!

MARGARET. He did splendidly in the war, of course, because it suited him; but--just before--don't you remember--a very queer bit of riding?

LADY A. No.

MARGARET. Most dare-devil thing--but not quite. You must remember-- it was awfully talked about. And then, of course, right up to his marriage--[She lights a cigarette.]

LADY A. Meg, you're very tantalising!

MARGARET. A foreign-looking girl--most plummy. Oh! Ronny's got charm --this Mabel child doesn't know in the least what she's got hold of!

LADY A. But they're so fond of each other!

MARGARET. That's the mistake. The General isn't mentioning the coat, is he?

LADY A. Oh, no! It was only to Charles.

MABEL returns.

MARGARET. Did you get him?

MABEL. No; he's not at Tattersall's, nor at the Club.

LADY ADELA rises and greets her with an air which suggests bereavement.

LADY A. Nobody's going to believe this, my dear.

MABEL. [Looking straight at her] Nobody who does need come here, or trouble to speak to us again.

LADY A. That's what I was afraid of; you're going to be defiant. Now don't! Just be perfectly natural.

MABEL. So easy, isn't it? I could kill anybody who believes such a thing.

MARGARET. You'll want a solicitor, Mabel, Go to old Mr Jacob Twisden.

LADY A. Yes; he's so comforting.

MARGARET. He got my pearls back once--without loss of life. A frightfully good fireside manner. Do get him here, Mabel, and have a heart-to-heart talk, all three of you!

MABEL. [Suddenly] Listen! There's Ronny!

DANCY comes in.

DANCY. [With a smile] Very good of you to have come.

MARGARET. Yes. We're just going. Oh! Ronny, this is quite too-- [But his face dries her up; and sidling past, she goes].

LADY A. Charles sent his-love--[Her voice dwindles on the word, and she, too, goes].

DANCY. [Crossing to his wife] What have they been saying?

MABEL. Ronny! Why didn't you tell me?

DANCY. I wanted to see De Levis again first.

MABEL. That wretch! How dare he? Darling! [She suddenly clasps and kisses him. He does not return the kiss, but remains rigid in her arms, so that she draws away and looks at him] It's hurt you awfully, I know.

DANCY. Look here, Mabel! Apart from that muck--this is a ghastly tame-cat sort of life. Let's cut it and get out to Nairobi. I can scare up the money for that.

MABEL. [Aghast] But how can we? Everybody would say--

RONNY. Let them! We shan't be here.

MABEL. I couldn't bear people to think--

DANCY. I don't care a damn what people think monkeys and cats. I never could stand their rotten menagerie. Besides, what does it matter how I act; if I bring an action and get damages--if I pound him to a jelly-- it's all no good! I can't prove it. There'll be plenty of people unconvinced.

MABEL. But they'll find the real thief.

DANCY. [With a queer little smile] Will staying here help them to do that?

MABEL. [In a sort of agony] Oh! I couldn't--it looks like running away. We must stay and fight it!

DANCY. Suppose I didn't get a verdict--you never can tell.

MABEL. But you must--I was there all the time, with the door open.

DANCY. Was it?

MABEL. I'm almost sure.

DANCY. Yes. But you're my wife.

MABEL. [Bewildered] Ronny, I don't understand--suppose I'd been accused of stealing pearls!

DANCY. [Wincing] I can't.

MABEL. But I might--just as easily. What would you think of me if I ran away from it?

DANCY. I see. [A pause] All right! You shall have a run for your money. I'll go and see old Twisden.

MABEL. Let me come! [DANCY shakes his head] Why not? I can't be happy a moment unless I'm fighting this.

DANCY puts out his hand suddenly and grips hers.

DANCY. You are a little brick!

MABEL. [Pressing his hand to her breast and looking into his face] Do you know what Margaret called you?

RONNY. No.

MABEL. A desperate character.

DANCY. Ha! I'm not a tame cat, any more than she.

The bell rings. MABEL goes out to the door and her voice is heard saying coldly.

MABEL. Will you wait a minute, please? Returning. It's De Levis--to see you. [In a low voice] Let me see him alone first. Just for a minute! Do!

DANCY. [After a moment's silence] Go ahead! He goes out into the bedroom.

MABEL. [Going to the door, Right] Come in.

DE LEVIS comes in, and stands embarrassed.

Yes?

DE LEVIS. [With a slight bow] Your husband, Mrs Dancy?

MABEL. He is in. Why do you want to see him?

DE LEVIS. He came round to my rooms just now, when I was out. He threatened me yesterday. I don't choose him to suppose I'm afraid of him.

MABEL. [With a great and manifest effort at self-control] Mr De Levis, you are robbing my husband of his good name.

DE LEVIS. [Sincerely] I admire your trustfulness, Mrs Dancy.

MABEL. [Staring at him] How can you do it? What do you want? What's your motive? You can't possibly believe that my husband is a thief!

DE LEVIS. Unfortunately.

MABEL. How dare you? How dare you? Don't you know that I was in our bedroom all the time with the door open? Do you accuse me too?

DE LEVIS. No, Mrs Dancy.

MABEL. But you do. I must have seen, I must have heard.

DE LEVIS. A wife's memory is not very good when her husband is in danger.

MABEL. In other words, I'm lying.

DE LEVIS. No. Your wish is mother to your thought, that's all.

MABEL. [After staring again with a sort of horror, turns to get control of herself. Then turning back to him] Mr De Levis, I appeal to you as a gentleman to behave to us as you would we should behave to you. Withdraw this wicked charge, and write an apology that Ronald can show.

DE LEVIS. Mrs Dancy, I am not a gentleman, I am only a--damned Jew. Yesterday I might possibly have withdrawn to spare you. But when my race is insulted I have nothing to say to your husband, but as he wishes to see me, I've come. Please let him know.

MABEL. [Regarding him again with that look of horror--slowly] I think what you are doing is too horrible for words.

DE LEVIS gives her a slight bow, and as he does so DANCY comes quickly in, Left. The two men stand with the length of the sofa between them. MABEL, behind the sofa, turns her eyes on her husband, who has a paper in his right hand.

DE LEVIS. You came to see me.

DANCY. Yes. I want you to sign this.

DE LEVIS. I will sign nothing.

DANCY. Let me read it: "I apologise to Captain Dancy for the reckless and monstrous charge I made against him, and I retract every word of it."

DE LEVIS. Not much!

DANCY. You will sign.

DE LEVIS. I tell you this is useless. I will sign nothing. The charge is true; you wouldn't be playing this game if it weren't. I'm going. You'll hardly try violence in the presence of your wife; and if you try it anywhere else--look out for yourself.

DANCY. Mabel, I want to speak to him alone.

MABEL. No, no!

DE LEVIS. Quite right, Mrs Dancy. Black and tan swashbuckling will only make things worse for him.

DANCY. So you shelter behind a woman, do you, you skulking cur!

DE LEVIS takes a step, with fists clenched and eyes blazing. DANCY, too, stands ready to spring--the moment is cut short by MABEL going quickly to her husband.

MABEL. Don't, Ronny. It's undignified! He isn't worth it.

DANCY suddenly tears the paper in two, and flings it into the fire.

DANCY. Get out of here, you swine!

DE LEVIS stands a moment irresolute, then, turning to the door, he opens it, stands again for a moment with a smile on his face, then goes. MABEL crosses swiftly to the door, and shuts it as the outer door closes. Then she stands quite still, looking at her husband --her face expressing a sort of startled suspense.

DANCY. [Turning and looking at her] Well! Do you agree with him?

MABEL. What do you mean?

DANCY. That I wouldn't be playing this game unless--

MABEL. Don't! You hurt me!

DANCY. Yes. You don't know much of me, Mabel.

MABEL. Ronny!

DANCY. What did you say to that swine?

MABEL. [Her face averted] That he was robbing us. [Turning to him suddenly] Ronny--you--didn't? I'd rather know.

DANCY. Ha! I thought that was coming.

MABEL. [Covering her face] Oh! How horrible of me--how horrible!

DANCY. Not at all. The thing looks bad.

MABEL. [Dropping her hands] If I can't believe in you, who can? [Going to him, throwing her arms round him, and looking up into his face] Ronny! If all the world--I'd believe in you. You know I would.

DANCY. That's all right, Mabs! That's all right! [His face, above her head, is contorted for a moment, then hardens into a mask] Well, what shall we do? Let's go to that lawyer--let's go--

MABEL. Oh! at once!

DANCY. All right. Get your hat on.

MABEL passes him, and goes into the bedroom, Left. DANCY, left alone, stands quite still, staring before him. With a sudden shrug of his shoulders he moves quickly to his hat and takes it up just as MABEL returns, ready to go out. He opens the door; and crossing him, she stops in the doorway, looking up with a clear and trustful gaze as


The CURTAIN falls.


John Galsworthy

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