Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Act III

SCENE I:


Three months later. Old MR JACOB TWISDEN's Room, at the offices of Twisden & Graviter, in Lincoln's Inn Fields, is spacious, with two large windows at back, a fine old fireplace, Right, a door below it, and two doors, Left. Between the windows is a large table sideways to the window wall, with a chair in the middle on the right-hand side, a chair against the wall, and a client's chair on the left-hand side.

GRAVITER, TWISDEN'S much younger partner, is standing in front of the right-hand window looking out on to the Fields, where the lamps are being lighted, and a taxi's engine is running down below. He turns his sanguine, shrewd face from the window towards a grandfather dock, between the doors, Left, which is striking "four." The door, Left Forward, is opened.


YOUNG CLERK. [Entering] A Mr Gilman, sir, to see Mr Twisden.

GRAVITER. By appointment?

YOUNG CLERK. No, sir. But important, he says.

GRAVITER. I'll see him.

The CLERK goes. GRAVITER sits right of table. The CLERK returns, ushering in an oldish MAN, who looks what he is, the proprietor of a large modern grocery store. He wears a dark overcoat and carries a pot hat. His gingery-grey moustache and mutton-chop whiskers give him the expression of a cat.

GRAVITER. [Sizing up his social standing] Mr Gilman? Yes.

GILMAN. [Doubtfully] Mr Jacob Twisden?

GRAVITER. [Smiling] His partner. Graviter my name is.

GILMAN. Mr Twisden's not in, then?

GRAVITER. No. He's at the Courts. They're just up; he should be in directly. But he'll be busy.

GILMAN. Old Mr Jacob Twisden--I've heard of him.

GRAVITER. Most people have.

GILMAN. It's this Dancy-De Levis case that's keepin' him at the Courts, I suppose?

GRAVITER nods.

Won't be finished for a day or two?

GRAVITER shakes his head. No.

Astonishin' the interest taken in it.

GRAVITER. As you say.

GILMAN. The Smart Set, eh? This Captain Dancy got the D.S.O., didn't he?

GRAVITER nods.

Sad to have a thing like that said about you. I thought he gave his evidence well; and his wife too. Looks as if this De Levis had got some private spite. Searchy la femme, I said to Mrs Gilman only this morning, before I--

GRAVITER. By the way, sir, what is your business?

GILMAN. Well, my business here--No, if you'll excuse me, I'd rather wait and see old Mr Jacob Twisden. It's delicate, and I'd like his experience.

GRAVITER. [With a shrug] Very well; then, perhaps, you'll go in there. [He moves towards the door, Left Back].

GILMAN. Thank you. [Following] You see, I've never been mixed up with the law--

GRAVITER. [Opening the door] No?

GILMAN. And I don't want to begin. When you do, you don't know where you'll stop, do you? You see, I've only come from a sense of duty; and --other reasons.

GRAVITER. Not uncommon.

GILMAN. [Producing card] This is my card. Gilman's--several branches, but this is the 'ead.

GRAVITER. [Scrutinising card] Exactly.

GILMAN. Grocery--I daresay you know me; or your wife does. They say old Mr Jacob Twisden refused a knighthood. If it's not a rude question, why was that?

GRAVITER. Ask him, sir; ask him.

GILMAN. I said to my wife at the time, "He's holdin' out for a baronetcy."

GRAVITER Closes the door with an exasperated smile.

YOUNG CLERK. [Opening the door, Left Forward] Mr WINSOR, sir, and Miss Orme.

They enter, and the CLERK withdraws.

GRAVITER. How d'you do, Miss Orme? How do you do, WINSOR?

WINSOR. Twisden not back, Graviter?

GRAVITER. Not yet.

WINSOR. Well, they've got through De Levis's witnesses. Sir Frederick was at the very top of his form. It's looking quite well. But I hear they've just subpoenaed Canynge after all. His evidence is to be taken to-morrow.

GRAVITER. Oho!

WINSOR. I said Dancy ought to have called him.

GRAVITER. We considered it. Sir Frederic decided that he could use him better in cross-examination.

WINSOR. Well! I don't know that. Can I go and see him before he gives evidence to-morrow?

GRAVITER. I should like to hear Mr Jacob on that, WINSOR. He'll be in directly.

WINSOR. They had Kentman, and Goole, the Inspector, the other bobby, my footman, Dancy's banker, and his tailor.

GRAVITER. Did we shake Kentman or Goole?

WINSOR. Very little. Oh! by the way, the numbers of those two notes were given, and I see they're published in the evening papers. I suppose the police wanted that. I tell you what I find, Graviter--a general feeling that there's something behind it all that doesn't come out.

GRAVITER. The public wants it's money's worth--always does in these Society cases; they brew so long beforehand, you see.

WINSOR. They're looking for something lurid.

MARGARET. When I was in the bog, I thought they were looking for me. [Taking out her cigarette case] I suppose I mustn't smoke, Mr Graviter?

GRAVITER. Do!

MARGARET. Won't Mr Jacob have a fit?

GRAVITER. Yes, but not till you've gone.

MARGARET. Just a whiff. [She lights a cigarette].

WINSOR. [Suddenly] It's becoming a sort of Dreyfus case--people taking sides quite outside the evidence.

MARGARET. There are more of the chosen in Court every day. Mr Graviter, have you noticed the two on the jury?

GRAVITER. [With a smile] No; I can't say--

MARGARET. Oh! but quite distinctly. Don't you think they ought to have been challenged?

GRAVITER. De Levis might have challenged the other ten, Miss Orme.

MARGARET. Dear me, now! I never thought of that.

As she speaks, the door Left Forward is opened and old MR JACOB TWISDEN comes in. He is tallish and narrow, sixty-eight years old, grey, with narrow little whiskers curling round his narrow ears, and a narrow bow-ribbon curling round his collar. He wears a long, narrow-tailed coat, and strapped trousers on his narrow legs. His nose and face are narrow, shrewd, and kindly. He has a way of narrowing his shrewd and kindly eyes. His nose is seen to twitch and snig.

TWISDEN. Ah! How are you, Charles? How do you do, my dear?

MARGARET. Dear Mr Jacob, I'm smoking. Isn't it disgusting? But they don't allow it in Court, you know. Such a pity! The Judge might have a hookah. Oh! wouldn't he look sweet--the darling!

TWISDEN. [With a little, old-fashioned bow] It does not become everybody as it becomes you, Margaret.

MARGARET. Mr Jacob, how charming! [With a slight grimace she puts out her cigarette].

GRAVITER. Man called Gilman waiting in there to see you specially.

TWISDEN. Directly. Turn up the light, would you, Graviter?

GRAVITER. [Turning up the light] Excuse me.

He goes.

WINSOR. Look here, Mr Twisden--

TWISDEN. Sit down; sit down, my dear.

And he himself sits behind the table, as a cup of tea is brought in to him by the YOUNG CLERK, with two Marie biscuits in the saucer.

Will you have some, Margaret?

MARGARET. No, dear Mr Jacob.

TWISDEN. Charles?

WINSOR. No, thanks. The door is closed.

TWISDEN. [Dipping a biscuit in the tea] Now, then?

WINSOR. The General knows something which on the face of it looks rather queer. Now that he's going to be called, oughtn't Dancy to be told of it, so that he may be ready with his explanation, in case it comes out?

TWISDEN. [Pouring some tea into the saucer] Without knowing, I can't tell you.

WINSOR and MARGARET exchange looks, and TWISDEN drinks from the saucer. MARGARET. Tell him, Charles.

WINSOR. Well! It rained that evening at Meldon. The General happened to put his hand on Dancy's shoulder, and it was damp.

TWISDEN puts the saucer down and replaces the cup in it. They both look intently at him.

TWISDEN. I take it that General Canynge won't say anything he's not compelled to say.

MARGARET. No, of course; but, Mr Jacob, they might ask; they know it rained. And he is such a George Washington.

TWISDEN. [Toying with a pair of tortoise-shell glasses] They didn't ask either of you. Still-no harm in your telling Dancy.

WINSOR. I'd rather you did it, Margaret.

MARGARET. I daresay. [She mechanically takes out her cigarette-case, catches the lift of TWISDEN'S eyebrows, and puts it back].

WINSOR. Well, we'll go together. I don't want Mrs Dancy to hear.

MARGARET. Do tell me, Mr Jacob; is he going to win?

TWISDEN. I think so, Margaret; I think so.

MARGARET. It'll be too--frightful if he doesn't get a verdict, after all this. But I don't know what we shall do when it's over. I've been sitting in that Court all these three days, watching, and it's made me feel there's nothing we like better than seeing people skinned. Well, bye-bye, bless you!

TWISDEN rises and pats her hand.

WINSOR. Half a second, Margaret. Wait for me. She nods and goes out. Mr Twisden, what do you really think?

TWISDEN. I am Dancy's lawyer, my dear Charles, as well as yours.

WINSOR. Well, can I go and see Canynge?

TWISDEN. Better not.

WINSOR. If they get that out of him, and recall me, am I to say he told me of it at the time?

TWISDEN. You didn't feel the coat yourself? And Dancy wasn't present? Then what Canynge told you is not evidence--he'll stop your being asked.

WINSOR. Thank goodness. Good-bye!

WINSOR goes out.

TWISDEN, behind his table, motionless, taps his teeth with the eyeglasses in his narrow, well-kept hand. After a long shake of his head and a shrug of his rather high shoulders he snips, goes to the window and opens it. Then crossing to the door, Left Back, he throws it open and says

TWISDEN. At your service, sir.

GILMAN comes forth, nursing his pot hat.

Be seated.

TWISDEN closes the window behind him, and takes his seat.

GILMAN. [Taking the client's chair, to the left of the table] Mr Twisden, I believe? My name's Gilman, head of Gilman's Department Stores. You have my card.

TWISDEN. [Looking at the card] Yes. What can we do for you?

GILMAN. Well, I've come to you from a sense of duty, sir, and also a feelin' of embarrassment. [He takes from his breast pocket an evening paper] You see, I've been followin' this Dancy case--it's a good deal talked of in Putney--and I read this at half-past two this afternoon. To be precise, at 2.25. [He rises and hands the paper to TWISDEN, and with a thick gloved forefinger indicates a passage] When I read these numbers, I 'appened to remember givin' change for a fifty-pound note--don't often 'ave one in, you know--so I went to the cash-box out of curiosity, to see that I 'adn't got it. Well, I 'ad; and here it is. [He draws out from his breast pocket and lays before TWISDEN a fifty-pound banknote] It was brought in to change by a customer of mine three days ago, and he got value for it. Now, that's a stolen note, it seems, and you'd like to know what I did. Mind you, that customer of mine I've known 'im--well-- eight or nine years; an Italian he is--wine salesman, and so far's I know, a respectable man-foreign-lookin', but nothin' more. Now, this was at 'alf-past two, and I was at my head branch at Putney, where I live. I want you to mark the time, so as you'll see I 'aven't wasted a minute. I took a cab and I drove straight to my customer's private residence in Putney, where he lives with his daughter--Ricardos his name is, Paolio Ricardos. They tell me there that he's at his business shop in the City. So off I go in the cab again, and there I find him. Well, sir, I showed this paper to him and I produced the note. "Here," I said, "you brought this to me and you got value for it." Well, that man was taken aback. If I'm a judge, Mr Twisden, he was taken aback, not to speak in a guilty way, but he was, as you might say, flummoxed. "Now," I said to him, "where did you get it--that's the point?" He took his time to answer, and then he said: "Well, Mr Gilman," he said, "you know me; I am an honourable man. I can't tell you offhand, but I am above the board." He's foreign, you know, in his expressions. "Yes," I said, "that's all very well," I said, "but here I've got a stolen note and you've got the value for it. Now I tell you," I said, "what I'm going to do; I'm going straight with this note to Mr Jacob Twisden, who's got this Dancy-De Levis case in 'and. He's a well-known Society lawyer," I said, "of great experience." "Oh!" he said, "that is what you do?"--funny the way he speaks! "Then I come with you!"--And I've got him in the cab below. I want to tell you everything before he comes up. On the way I tried to get something out of him, but I couldn't--I could not. "This is very awkward," I said at last. "It is, Mr Gilman," was his reply; and he began to talk about his Sicilian claret--a very good wine, mind you; but under the circumstances it seemed to me uncalled for. Have I made it clear to you?

TWISDEN. [Who has listened with extreme attention] Perfectly, Mr Gilman. I'll send down for him. [He touches a hand-bell].

The YOUNG CLERK appears at the door, Left Forward.

A gentleman in a taxi-waiting. Ask him to be so good as to step up. Oh! and send Mr Graviter here again.

The YOUNG CLERK goes out.

GILMAN. As I told you, sir, I've been followin' this case. It's what you might call piquant. And I should be very glad if it came about that this helped Captain Dancy. I take an interest, because, to tell you the truth, [Confidentially] I don't like--well, not to put too fine a point upon it 'Ebrews. They work harder; they're more sober; they're honest; and they're everywhere. I've nothing against them, but the fact is--they get on so.

TWISDEN. [Cocking an eye] A thorn in the flesh, Mr Gilman.

GILMAN. Well, I prefer my own countrymen, and that's the truth of it.

As he speaks, GRAVITER comes in by the door Left Forward.

TWISDEN. [Pointing to the newspaper and the note] Mr Gilman has brought this, of which he is holder for value. His customer, who changed it three days ago, is coming up.

GRAVITER. The fifty-pounder. I see. [His face is long and reflective].

YOUNG CLERK. [Entering] Mr Ricardos, sir.

He goes out. RICARDOS is a personable, Italian-looking man in a frock coat, with a dark moustachioed face and dark hair a little grizzled. He looks anxious, and bows.

TWISDEN. Mr Ricardos? My name is Jacob Twisden. My partner. [Holding up a finger, as RICARDOS would speak] Mr Gilman has told us about this note. You took it to him, he says, three days ago; that is, on Monday, and received cash for it?

RICARDOS. Yes, sare.

TWISDEN. You were not aware that it was stolen?

RICARDOS. [With his hand to his breast] Oh! no, sare.

TWISDEN. You received it from--?

RICARDOS. A minute, sare; I would weesh to explain--[With an expressive shrug] in private.

TWISDEN. [Nodding] Mr Gilman, your conduct has been most prompt. You may safely leave the matter in our hands, now. Kindly let us retain this note; and ask for my cashier as you go out and give him [He writes] this. He will reimburse you. We will take any necessary steps ourselves.

GILMAN. [In slight surprise, with modest pride] Well, sir, I'm in your 'ands. I must be guided by you, with your experience. I'm glad you think I acted rightly.

TWISDEN. Very rightly, Mr Gilman--very rightly. [Rising] Good afternoon!

GILMAN. Good afternoon, sir. Good afternoon, gentlemen! [To TWISDEN] I'm sure I'm very 'appy to have made your acquaintance, sir. It's a well-known name.

TWISDEN. Thank you.

GILMAN retreats, glances at RICARDOS, and turns again.

GILMAN. I suppose there's nothing else I ought to do, in the interests of the law? I'm a careful man.

TWISDEN. If there is, Mr Gilman, we will let you know. We have your address. You may make your mind easy; but don't speak of this. It might interfere with Justice.

GILMAN. Oh! I shouldn't dream of it. I've no wish to be mixed up in anything conspicuous. That's not my principle at all. Good-day, gentlemen.

He goes.

TWISDEN. [Seating himself] Now, sir, will you sit down.

But RICARDOS does not sit; he stands looking uneasily across the table at GRAVITER.

You may speak out.

RICARDOS. Well, Mr Tweesden and sare, this matter is very serious for me, and very delicate--it concairns my honour. I am in a great difficulty.

TWISDEN. When in difficulty--complete frankness, sir.

RICARDOS. It is a family matter, sare, I--

TWISDEN. Let me be frank with you. [Telling his points off on his fingers] We have your admission that you changed this stopped note for value. It will be our duty to inform the Bank of England that it has been traced to you. You will have to account to them for your possession of it. I suggest to you that it will be far better to account frankly to us.

RICARDOS. [Taking out a handkerchief and quite openly wiping his hands and forehead] I received this note, sare, with others, from a gentleman, sare, in settlement of a debt of honour, and I know nothing of where he got them.

TWISDEN. H'm! that is very vague. If that is all you can tell us, I'm afraid--

RICARDOS. Gentlemen, this is very painful for me. It is my daughter's good name--[He again wipes his brow].

TWISDEN. Come, sir, speak out!

RICARDOS. [Desperately] The notes were a settlement to her from this gentleman, of whom she was a great friend.

TWISDEN. [Suddenly] I am afraid we must press you for the name of the gentleman.

RICARDOS. Sare, if I give it to you, and it does 'im 'arm, what will my daughter say? This is a bad matter for me. He behaved well to her; and she is attached to him still; sometimes she is crying yet because she lost him. And now we betray him, perhaps, who knows? This is very unpleasant for me. [Taking up the paper] Here it gives the number of another note--a 'undred-pound note. I 'ave that too. [He takes a note from his breast pocket].

GRAVITER. How much did he give you in all?

RICARDOS. For my daughter's settlement one thousand pounds. I understand he did not wish to give a cheque because of his marriage. So I did not think anything about it being in notes, you see.

TWISDEN. When did he give you this money?

RICARDOS. The middle of Octobare last.

TWISDEN. [Suddenly looking up] Mr Ricardos, was it Captain Dancy?

RICARDOS. [Again wiping his forehead] Gentlemen, I am so fond of my daughter. I have only the one, and no wife.

TWISDEN. [With an effort] Yes, yes; but I must know.

RICARDOS. Sare, if I tell you, will you give me your good word that my daughter shall not hear of it?

TWISDEN. So far as we are able to prevent it--certainly.

RICARDOS. Sare, I trust you.--It was Captain Dancy.

A long pause.

GRAVITER [Suddenly] Were you blackmailing him?

TWISDEN. [Holding up his hand] My partner means, did you press him for this settlement?

RICARDOS. I did think it my duty to my daughter to ask that he make compensation to her.

TWISDEN. With threats that you would tell his wife?

RICARDOS. [With a shrug] Captain Dancy was a man of honour. He said: "Of course I will do this." I trusted him. And a month later I did remind him, and he gave me this money for her. I do not know where he got it--I do not know. Gentlemen, I have invested it all on her--every penny-except this note, for which I had the purpose to buy her a necklace. That is the sweared truth.

TWISDEN. I must keep this note. [He touches the hundred-pound note] You will not speak of this to anyone. I may recognise that you were a holder for value received--others might take a different view. Good-day, sir. Graviter, see Mr Ricardos out, and take his address.

RICARDOS. [Pressing his hands over the breast of his frock coat--with a sigh] Gentlemen, I beg you--remember what I said. [With a roll of his eyes] My daughter--I am not happee. Good-day.

He turns and goes out slowly, Left Forward, followed by GRAVITER.

TWISDEN. [To himself] Young Dancy! [He pins the two notes together and places them in an envelope, then stands motionless except for his eyes and hands, which restlessly express the disturbance within him.]

GRAVITER returns, carefully shuts the door, and going up to him, hands him RICARDOS' card.

[Looking at the card] Villa Benvenuto. This will have to be verified, but I'm afraid it's true. That man was not acting.

GRAVITER. What's to be done about Dancy?

TWISDEN. Can you understand a gentleman--?

GRAVITER. I don't know, sir. The war loosened "form" all over the place. I saw plenty of that myself. And some men have no moral sense. From the first I've had doubts.

TWISDEN. We can't go on with the case.

GRAVITER. Phew! . . . [A moment's silence] Gosh! It's an awful thing for his wife.

TWISDEN. Yes.

GRAVITER [Touching the envelope] Chance brought this here, sir. That man won't talk--he's too scared.

TWISDEN. Gilman.

GRAVITER. Too respectable. If De Levis got those notes back, and the rest of the money, anonymously?

TWISDEN. But the case, Graviter; the case.

GRAVITER. I don't believe this alters what I've been thinking.

TWISDEN. Thought is one thing--knowledge another. There's duty to our profession. Ours is a fine calling. On the good faith of solicitors a very great deal hangs. [He crosses to the hearth as if warmth would help him].

GRAVITER. It'll let him in for a prosecution. He came to us in confidence.

TWISDEN. Not as against the law.

GRAVITER. No. I suppose not. [A pause] By Jove, I don't like losing this case. I don't like the admission we backed such a wrong 'un.

TWISDEN. Impossible to go on. Apart from ourselves, there's Sir Frederic. We must disclose to him--can't let him go on in the dark. Complete confidence between solicitor and counsel is the essence of professional honour.

GRAVITER. What are you going to do then, sir?

TWISDEN. See Dancy at once. Get him on the phone.

GRAVITER. [Taking up the telephone] Get me Captain Dancy's flat. . . . What? . . .[To TWISDEN] Mrs Dancy is here. That's a propos with a vengeance. Are you going to see her, sir?

TWISDEN. [After a moment's painful hesitation] I must.

GRAVITER. [Telephoning] Bring Mrs Dancy up. [He turns to the window].

MABEL DANDY is shown in, looking very pale. TWISDEN advances from the fire, and takes her hand.

MABEL. Major Colford's taken Ronny off in his car for the night. I thought it would do him good. I said I'd come round in case there was anything you wanted to say before to-morrow.

TWISDEN. [Taken aback] Where have they gone?

MABEL. I don't know, but he'll be home before ten o'clock to-morrow. Is there anything?

TWISDEN. Well, I'd like to see him before the Court sits. Send him on here as soon as he comes.

MABEL. [With her hand to her forehead] Oh! Mr Twisden, when will it be over? My head's getting awful sitting in that Court.

TWISDEN. My dear Mrs Dancy, there's no need at all for you to come down to-morrow; take a rest and nurse your head.

MABEL. Really and truly?

TWISDEN. Yes; it's the very best thing you can do.

GRAVITER turns his head, and looks at them unobserved.

MABEL. How do you think it's going?

TWISDEN. It went very well to-day; very well indeed.

MABEL. You must be awfully fed up with us.

TWISDEN. My dear young lady, that's our business. [He takes her hand].

MABEL's face suddenly quivers. She draws her hand away, and covers her lips with it.

There, there! You want a day off badly.

MABEL. I'm so tired of--! Thank you so much for all you're doing. Good night! Good night, Mr Graviter!

GRAVITER. Good night, Mrs Dancy.

MABEL goes.

GRAVITER. D'you know, I believe she knows.

TWISDEN. No, no! She believes in him implicitly. A staunch little woman. Poor thing!

GRAVITER. Hasn't that shaken you, sir? It has me.

TWISDEN. No, no! I--I can't go on with the case. It's breaking faith. Get Sir Frederic's chambers.

GRAVITER. [Telephoning, and getting a reply, looks round at TWISDEN] Yes?

TWISDEN. Ask if I can come round and see him.

GRAVITER. [Telephoning] Can Sir Frederic spare Mr Twisden a few minutes now if he comes round? [Receiving reply] He's gone down to Brighton for the night.

TWISDEN. H'm! What hotel?

GRAVITER. [Telephoning] What's his address? What . . . ? [To TWISDEN] The Bedford.

TWISDEN. I'll go down.

GRAVITER. [Telephoning] Thank you. All right. [He rings off].

TWISDEN. Just look out the trains down and up early to-morrow.

GRAVITER takes up an A B C, and TWISDEN takes up the Ricardos card.

TWISDEN. Send to this address in Putney, verify the fact that Ricardos has a daughter, and give me a trunk call to Brighton. Better go yourself, Graviter. If you see her, don't say anything, of course-- invent some excuse. [GRAVITER nods] I'll be up in time to see Dancy.

GRAVITER. By George! I feel bad about this.

TWISDEN. Yes. But professional honour comes first. What time is that train? [He bends over the ABC].


CURTAIN.



SCENE II:


The same room on the following morning at ten-twenty-five, by the Grandfather clock.

The YOUNG CLERK is ushering in DANCY, whose face is perceptibly harder than it was three months ago, like that of a man who has lived under great restraint.


DANCY. He wanted to see me before the Court sat.

YOUNG CLERK. Yes, sir. Mr Twisden will see you in one minute. He had to go out of town last night. [He prepares to open the waiting-room door].

DANCY. Were you in the war?

YOUNG CLERK. Yes.

DANCY. How can you stick this?

YOUNG CLERK. [With a smile] My trouble was to stick that, sir.

DANCY. But you get no excitement from year's end to year's end. It'd drive me mad.

YOUNG CLERK. [Shyly] A case like this is pretty exciting. I'd give a lot to see us win it.

DANCY. [Staring at him] Why? What is it to you?

YOUNG CLERK. I don't know, sir. It's--it's like football--you want your side to win. [He opens the waiting-room door. Expanding] You see some rum starts, too, in a lawyer's office in a quiet way.

DANCY enters the waiting-room, and the YOUNG CLERK, shutting the door, meets TWISDEN as he comes in, Left Forward, and takes from him overcoat, top hat, and a small bag.

YOUNG CLERK. Captain Dancy's waiting, sir. [He indicates the waiting-room].

TWISDEN. [Narrowing his lips] Very well. Mr Graviter gone to the Courts?

YOUNG CLERK. Yes, sir.

TWISDEN. Did he leave anything for me?

YOUNG CLERK. On the table, sir.

TWISDEN. [Taking up an envelope] Thank you.

The CLERK goes.

TWISDEN. [Opening the envelope and reading] "All corroborates." H'm! [He puts it in his pocket and takes out of an envelope the two notes, lays them on the table, and covers them with a sheet of blotting-paper; stands a moment preparing himself, then goes to the door of the waiting-room, opens it, and says:] Now, Captain Dancy. Sorry to have kept you waiting.

DANCY. [Entering] WINSOR came to me yesterday about General Canynge's evidence. Is that what you wanted to speak to me about?

TWISDEN. No. It isn't that.

DANCY. [Looking at his wrist watch] By me it's just on the half-hour, sir.

TWISDEN. Yes. I don't want you to go to the Court.

DANCY. Not?

TWISDEN. I have very serious news for you.

DANCY. [Wincing and collecting himself] Oh!

TWISDEN. These two notes. [He uncovers the notes] After the Court rose yesterday we had a man called Ricardos here. [A pause] Is there any need for me to say more?

DANCY. [Unflinching] No. What now?

TWISDEN. Our duty was plain; we could not go on with the case. I have consulted Sir Frederic. He felt--he felt that he must throw up his brief, and he will do that the moment the Court sits. Now I want to talk to you about what you're going to do.

DANCY. That's very good of you, considering.

TWISDEN. I don't pretend to understand, but I imagine you may have done this in a moment of reckless bravado, feeling, perhaps, that as you gave the mare to De Levis, the money was by rights as much yours as his.

Stopping DANCY, who is about to speak, with a gesture.

To satisfy a debt of honour to this--lady; and, no doubt, to save your wife from hearing of it from the man Ricardos. Is that so?

DANCY. To the life.

TWISDEN. It was mad, Captain Dancy, mad! But the question now is: What do you owe to your wife? She doesn't dream--I suppose?

DANCY. [With a twitching face] No.

TWISDEN. We can't tell what the result of this collapse will be. The police have the theft in hand. They may issue a warrant. The money could be refunded, and the costs paid--somehow that can all be managed. But it may not help. In any case, what end is served by your staying in the country? You can't save your honour--that's gone. You can't save your wife's peace of mind. If she sticks to you--do you think she will?

DANCY. Not if she's wise.

TWISDEN. Better go! There's a war in Morocco.

DANCY. [With a bitter smile] Good old Morocco!

TWISDEN. Will you go, then, at once, and leave me to break it to your wife?

DANCY. I don't know yet.

TWISDEN. You must decide quickly, to catch a boat train. Many a man has made good. You're a fine soldier.

DANCY. There are alternatives.

TWISDEN. Now, go straight from this office. You've a passport, I suppose; you won't need a visa for France, and from there you can find means to slip over. Have you got money on you? [Dancy nods]. We will see what we can do to stop or delay proceedings.

DANCY. It's all damned kind of you. [With difficulty] But I must think of my wife. Give me a few minutes.

TWISDEN. Yes, yes; go in there and think it out.

He goes to the door, Right, and opens it. DANCY passes him and goes out. TWISDEN rings a bell and stands waiting.

CLERK. [Entering] Yes, sir?

TWISDEN. Tell them to call a taxi.

CLERK. [Who has a startled look] Yes, sir. Mr Graviter has come in, air, with General Canynge. Are you disengaged?

TWISDEN. Yes.

The CLERK goes out, and almost immediately GRAVITER and CANYNGE enter. Good-morning, General. [To GRAVITER]

Well?

GRAVITER. Sir Frederic got up at once and said that since the publication of the numbers of those notes, information had reached him which forced him to withdraw from the case. Great sensation, of course. I left Bromley in charge. There'll be a formal verdict for the defendant, with costs. Have you told Dancy?

TWISDEN. Yes. He's in there deciding what he'll do.

CANYNGE. [Grave and vexed] This is a dreadful thing, Twisden. I've been afraid of it all along. A soldier! A gallant fellow, too. What on earth got into him?

TWISDEN. There's no end to human nature, General.

GRAVITER. You can see queerer things in the papers, any day.

CANYNGE. That poor young wife of his! WINSOR gave me a message for you, Twisden. If money's wanted quickly to save proceedings, draw on him. Is there anything I can do?

TWISDEN. I've advised him to go straight off to Morocco.

CANYNGE. I don't know that an asylum isn't the place for him. He must be off his head at moments. That jump-crazy! He'd have got a verdict on that alone--if they'd seen those balconies. I was looking at them when I was down there last Sunday. Daring thing, Twisden. Very few men, on a dark night--He risked his life twice. That's a shrewd fellow--young De Levis. He spotted Dancy's nature.

The YOUNG CLERK enters.

CLERK. The taxi's here, sir. Will you see Major Colford and Miss Orme?

TWISDEN. Graviter--No; show them in.

The YOUNG CLERK goes.

CANYNGE. Colford's badly cut up.

MARGARET ORME and COLFORD enter.

COLFORD. [Striding forward] There must be some mistake about this, Mr Twisden.

TWISDEN. Hssh! Dancy's in there. He's admitted it.

Voices are subdued at once.

COLFORD. What? [With emotion] If it were my own brother, I couldn't feel it more. But--damn it! What right had that fellow to chuck up the case--without letting him know, too. I came down with Dancy this morning, and he knew nothing about it.

TWISDEN. [Coldly] That was unfortunately unavoidable.

COLFORD. Guilty or not, you ought to have stuck to him--it's not playing the game, Mr Twisden.

TWISDEN. You must allow me to judge where my duty lay, in a very hard case.

COLFORD. I thought a man was safe with his solicitor.

CANYNGE. Colford, you don't understand professional etiquette.

COLFORD. No, thank God!

TWISDEN. When you have been as long in your profession as I have been in mine, Major Colford, you will know that duty to your calling outweighs duty to friend or client.

COLFORD. But I serve the Country.

TWISDEN. And I serve the Law, sir.

CANYNGE. Graviter, give me a sheet of paper. I'll write a letter for him.

MARGARET. [Going up to TWISDEN] Dear Mr Jacob--pay De Levis. You know my pearls--put them up the spout again. Don't let Ronny be--

TWISDEN. Money isn't the point, Margaret.

MARGARET. It's ghastly! It really is.

COLFORD. I'm going in to shake hands with him. [He starts to cross the room].

TWISDEN. Wait! We want him to go straight off to Morocco. Don't upset him. [To COLFORD and MARGARET] I think you had better go. If, a little later, Margaret, you could go round to Mrs Dancy--

COLFORD. Poor little Mabel Dancy! It's perfect hell for her.

They have not seen that DANCY has opened the door behind them.

DANCY. It is!

They all turn round in consternation.

COLFORD. [With a convulsive movement] Old boy!

DANCY. No good, Colford. [Gazing round at them] Oh! clear out--I can't stand commiseration; and let me have some air.

TWISDEN motions to COLFORD and MARGARET to go; and as he turns to DANCY, they go out. GRAVITER also moves towards the door. The GENERAL sits motionless. GRAVITER goes Out.

TWISDEN. Well?

DANCY. I'm going home, to clear up things with my wife. General Canynge, I don't quite know why I did the damned thing. But I did, and there's an end of it.

CANYNGE. Dancy, for the honour of the Army, avoid further scandal if you can. I've written a letter to a friend of mine in the Spanish War Office. It will get you a job in their war. [CANYNGE closes the envelope].

DANCY. Very good of you. I don't know if I can make use of it.

CANYNGE stretches out the letter, which TWISDEN hands to DANCY, who takes it. GRAVITER re-opens the door.

TWISDEN. What is it?

GRAVITER. De Levis is here.

TWISDEN. De Levis? Can't see him.

DANCY. Let him in!

After a moment's hesitation TWISDEN nods, and GRAVITER goes out. The three wait in silence with their eyes fixed on the door, the GENERAL sitting at the table, TWISDEN by his chair, DANCY between him and the door Right. DE LEVIS comes in and shuts the door. He is advancing towards TWISDEN when his eyes fall on DANCY, and he stops.

TWISDEN. You wanted to see me?

DE LEVIS. [Moistening his lips] Yes. I came to say that--that I overheard--I am afraid a warrant is to be issued. I wanted you to realise--it's not my doing. I'll give it no support. I'm content. I don't want my money. I don't even want costs. Dancy, do you understand?

DANCY does not answer, but looks at him with nothing alive in his face but his eyes.

TWISDEN. We are obliged to you, Sir. It was good of you to come.

DE LEVIS. [With a sort of darting pride] Don't mistake me. I didn't come because I feel Christian; I am a Jew. I will take no money--not even that which was stolen. Give it to a charity. I'm proved right. And now I'm done with the damned thing. Good-morning!

He makes a little bow to CANYNGE and TWISDEN, and turns to face DANCY, who has never moved. The two stand motionless, looking at each other, then DE LEVIS shrugs his shoulders and walks out. When he is gone there is a silence.

CANYNGE. [Suddenly] You heard what he said, Dancy. You have no time to lose.

But DANCY does not stir.

TWISDEN. Captain Dancy?

Slowly, without turning his head, rather like a man in a dream, DANCY walks across the room, and goes out.


CURTAIN.



SCENE III:


The DANCYS' sitting-room, a few minutes later. MABEL DANCY is sitting alone on the sofa with a newspaper on her lap; she is only just up, and has a bottle of smelling-salts in her hand. Two or three other newspapers are dumped on the arm of the sofa. She topples the one off her lap and takes up another as if she couldn't keep away from them; drops it in turn, and sits staring before her, sniffing at the salts. The door, Right, is opened and DANCY comes in.


MABEL. [Utterly surprised] Ronny! Do they want me in Court?

DANCY. No.

MABEL. What is it, then? Why are you back?

DANCY. Spun.

MABEL. [Blank] Spun? What do you mean? What's spun?

DANCY. The case. They've found out through those notes.

MABEL. Oh! [Staring at his face] Who?

DANCY. Me!

MABEL. [After a moment of horrified stillness] Don't, Ronny! Oh! No! Don't! [She buries her face in the pillows of the sofa].

DANCY stands looking down at her.

DANCY. Pity you wouldn't come to Africa three months ago.

MABEL. Why didn't you tell me then? I would have gone.

DANCY. You wanted this case. Well, it's fallen down.

MABEL. Oh! Why didn't I face it? But I couldn't--I had to believe.

DANCY. And now you can't. It's the end, Mabel.

MABEL. [Looking up at him] No.

DANCY goes suddenly on his knees and seizes her hand.

DANCY. Forgive me!

MABEL. [Putting her hand on his head] Yes; oh, yes! I think I've known a long time, really. Only--why? What made you?

DANCY. [Getting up and speaking in jerks] It was a crazy thing to do; but, damn it, I was only looting a looter. The money was as much mine as his. A decent chap would have offered me half. You didn't see the brute look at me that night at dinner as much as to say: "You blasted fool!" It made me mad. That wasn't a bad jump-twice over. Nothing in the war took quite such nerve. [Grimly] I rather enjoyed that evening.

MABEL. But--money! To keep it!

DANCY. [Sullenly] Yes, but I had a debt to pay.

MABEL. To a woman?

DANCY. A debt of honour--it wouldn't wait.

MABEL. It was--it was to a woman. Ronny, don't lie any more.

DANCY. [Grimly] Well! I wanted to save your knowing. I'd promised a thousand. I had a letter from her father that morning, threatening to tell you. All the same, if that tyke hadn't jeered at me for parlour tricks!--But what's the good of all this now? [Sullenly] Well--it may cure you of loving me. Get over that, Mab; I never was worth it--and I'm done for!

MABEL. The woman--have you--since--?

DANCY. [Energetically] No! You supplanted her. But if you'd known I was leaving a woman for you, you'd never have married me. [He walks over to the hearth].

MABEL too gets up. She presses her hands to her forehead, then walks blindly round to behind the sofa and stands looking straight in front of her.

MABEL. [Coldly] What has happened, exactly?

DANCY. Sir Frederic chucked up the case. I've seen Twisden; they want me to run for it to Morocco.

MABEL. To the war there?

DANCY. Yes. There's to be a warrant out.

MABEL. A prosecution? Prison? Oh, go! Don't wait a minute! Go!

DANCY. Blast them!

MABEL. Oh, Ronny! Please! Please! Think what you'll want. I'll pack. Quick! No! Don't wait to take things. Have you got money?

DANCY. [Nodding] This'll be good-bye, then!

MABEL. [After a moment's struggle] Oh! No! No, no! I'll follow--I'll come out to you there.

DANCY. D'you mean you'll stick to me?

MABEL. Of course I'll stick to you.

DANCY seizes her hand and puts it to his lips. The bell rings.

MABEL. [In terror] Who's that?

The bell rings again. DANCY moves towards the door.

No! Let me!

She passes him and steals out to the outer door of the flat, where she stands listening. The bell rings again. She looks through the slit of the letter-box. While she is gone DANCY stands quite still, till she comes back.

MABEL. Through the letter-bog--I can see----It's--it's police. Oh! God! . . . Ronny! I can't bear it.

DANCY. Heads up, Mab! Don't show the brutes!

MABEL. Whatever happens, I'll go on loving you. If it's prison--I'll wait. Do you understand? I don't care what you did--I don't care! I'm just the same. I will be just the same when you come back to me.

DANCY. [Slowly] That's not in human nature.

MABEL. It is. It's in Me.

DANCY. I've crocked up your life.

MABEL. No, no! Kiss me!

A long kiss, till the bell again startles them apart, and there is a loud knock.

DANCY. They'll break the door in. It's no good--we must open. Hold them in check a little. I want a minute or two.

MABEL. [Clasping him] Ronny! Oh, Ronny! It won't be for long--I'll be waiting! I'll be waiting--I swear it.

DANCY. Steady, Mab! [Putting her back from him] Now!

He opens the bedroom door, Left, and stands waiting for her to go. Summoning up her courage, she goes to open the outer door. A sudden change comes over DANCY'S face; from being stony it grows almost maniacal.

DANCY. [Under his breath] No! No! By God! No! He goes out into the bedroom, closing the door behind him.

MABEL has now opened the outer door, and disclosed INSPECTOR DEDE and the YOUNG CONSTABLE who were summoned to Meldon Court on the night of the theft, and have been witnesses in the case. Their voices are heard.

MABEL. Yes?

INSPECTOR. Captain Dancy in, madam?

MABEL. I am not quite sure--I don't think so.

INSPECTOR. I wish to speak to him a minute. Stay here, Grover. Now, madam!

MABEL. Will you come in while I see?

She comes in, followed by the INSPECTOR.

INSPECTOR. I should think you must be sure, madam. This is not a big place.

MABEL. He was changing his clothes to go out. I think he has gone.

INSPECTOR. What's that door?

MABEL. To our bedroom.

INSPECTOR. [Moving towards it] He'll be in there, then.

MABEL. What do you want, Inspector?

INSPECTOR. [Melting] Well, madam, it's no use disguising it. I'm exceedingly sorry, but I've a warrant for his arrest.

MABEL. Inspector!

INSPECTOR. I'm sure I've every sympathy for you, madam; but I must carry out my instructions.

MABEL. And break my heart?

INSPECTOR. Well, madam, we're--we're not allowed to take that into consideration. The Law's the Law.

MABEL. Are you married?

INSPECTOR. I am.

MABEL. If you--your wife--

The INSPECTOR raises his hand, deprecating.

[Speaking low] Just half an hour! Couldn't you? It's two lives--two whole lives! We've only been married four months. Come back in half an hour. It's such a little thing--nobody will know. Nobody. Won't you?

INSPECTOR. Now, madam--you must know my duty.

MABEL. Inspector, I beseech you--just half an hour.

INSPECTOR. No, no--don't you try to undermine me--I'm sorry for you; but don't you try it! [He tries the handle, then knocks at the door].

DANCY'S VOICE. One minute!

INSPECTOR. It's locked. [Sharply] Is there another door to that room? Come, now--

The bell rings.

[Moving towards the door, Left; to the CONSTABLE] Who's that out there?

CONSTABLE. A lady and gentleman, sir.

INSPECTOR. What lady and-- Stand by, Grover!

DANCY'S VOICE. All right! You can come in now.

There is the noise of a lock being turned. And almost immediately the sound of a pistol shot in the bedroom. MABEL rushes to the door, tears it open, and disappears within, followed by the INSPECTOR, just as MARGARET ORME and COLFORD come in from the passage, pursued by the CONSTABLE. They, too, all hurry to the bedroom door and disappear for a moment; then COLFORD and MARGARET reappear, supporting MABEL, who faints as they lay her on the sofa. COLFORD takes from her hand an envelope, and tears it open.

COLFORD. It's addressed to me. [He reads it aloud to MARGARET in a low voice].

"DEAR COLFORD,--This is the only decent thing I can do. It's too damned unfair to her. It's only another jump. A pistol keeps faith. Look after her, Colford--my love to her, and you."

MARGARET gives a sort of choking sob, then, seeing the smelling bottle, she snatches it up, and turns to revive MABEL.

COLFORD. Leave her! The longer she's unconscious, the better.

INSPECTOR. [Re-entering] This is a very serious business, sir.

COLFORD. [Sternly] Yes, Inspector; you've done for my best friend.

INSPECTOR. I, sir? He shot himself.

COLFORD. Hara-kiri.

INSPECTOR. Beg pardon?

COLFORD. [He points with the letter to MABEL] For her sake, and his own.

INSPECTOR. [Putting out his hand] I'll want that, sir.

COLFORD. [Grimly] You shall have it read at the inquest. Till then-- it's addressed to me, and I stick to it.

INSPECTOR. Very well, sir. Do you want to have a look at him?

COLFORD passes quickly into the bedroom, followed by the INSPECTOR. MARGARET remains kneeling beside MABEL.

COLFORD comes quickly back. MARGARET looks up at him. He stands very still.

COLFORD. Neatly--through the heart.

MARGARET [wildly] Keeps faith! We've all done that. It's not enough.

COLFORD. [Looking down at MABEL] All right, old boy!


The CURTAIN falls.



THE END.

       *      *      *      *      *      *      *       *       *       *       *       *


John Galsworthy

Sorry, no summary available yet.