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Act III

It is the first of April--a white spring day of gleams and driving showers. The street door of WELLWYN's studio stands wide open, and, past it, in the street, the wind is whirling bits of straw and paper bags. Through the door can be seen the butt end of a stationary furniture van with its flap let down. To this van three humble-men in shirt sleeves and aprons, are carrying out the contents of the studio. The hissing samovar, the tea-pot, the sugar, and the nearly empty decanter of rum stand on the low round table in the fast-being-gutted room. WELLWYN in his ulster and soft hat, is squatting on the little stool in front of the blazing fire, staring into it, and smoking a hand-made cigarette. He has a moulting air. Behind him the humble-men pass, embracing busts and other articles of vertu.


CHIEF H'MAN. [Stopping, and standing in the attitude of expectation.] We've about pinched this little lot, sir. Shall we take the--reservoir?

[He indicates the samovar.]

WELLWYN. Ah! [Abstractedly feeling in his pockets, and finding coins.] Thanks--thanks--heavy work, I'm afraid.

H'MAN. [Receiving the coins--a little surprised and a good deal pleased.] Thank'ee, sir. Much obliged, I'm sure. We'll 'ave to come back for this. [He gives the dais a vigorous push with his foot.] Not a fixture, as I understand. Perhaps you'd like us to leave these 'ere for a bit. [He indicates the tea things.]

WELLWYN. Ah! do.

[The humble-men go out. There is the sound of horses being started, and the butt end of the van disappears. WELLWYN stays on his stool, smoking and brooding over the fare. The open doorway is darkened by a figure. CANON BERTLEY is standing there.]

BERTLEY. WELLWYN! [WELLWYN turns and rises.] It's ages since I saw you. No idea you were moving. This is very dreadful.

WELLWYN. Yes, Ann found this--too exposed. That tall house in Flight Street--we're going there. Seventh floor.

BERTLEY. Lift?

[WELLWYN shakes his head.]

BERTLEY. Dear me! No lift? Fine view, no doubt. [WELLWYN nods.] You'll be greatly missed.

WELLWYN. So Ann thinks. Vicar, what's become of that little flower-seller I was painting at Christmas? You took her into service.

BERTLEY. Not we--exactly! Some dear friends of ours. Painful subject!

WELLWYN. Oh!

BERTLEY. Yes. She got the footman into trouble.

WELLWYN. Did she, now?

BERTLEY. Disappointing. I consulted with CALWAY, and he advised me to try a certain institution. We got her safely in--excellent place; but, d'you know, she broke out three weeks ago. And since-- I've heard [he holds his hands up] hopeless, I'm afraid--quite!

WELLWYN. I thought I saw her last night. You can't tell me her address, I suppose?

BERTLEY. [Shaking his head.] The husband too has quite passed out of my ken. He betted on horses, you remember. I'm sometimes tempted to believe there's nothing for some of these poor folk but to pray for death.

[ANN has entered from the house. Her hair hangs from under a knitted cap. She wears a white wool jersey, and a loose silk scarf.]

BERTLEY. Ah! Ann. I was telling your father of that poor little Mrs. Megan.

ANN. Is she dead?

BERTLEY. Worse I fear. By the way--what became of her accomplice?

ANN. We haven't seen him since. [She looks searchingly at WELLWYN.] At least--have you--Daddy?

WELLWYN. [Rather hurt.] No, my dear; I have not.

BERTLEY. And the--old gentleman who drank the rum?

ANN. He got fourteen days. It was the fifth time.

BERTLEY. Dear me!

ANN. When he came out he got more drunk than ever. Rather a score for Professor Calway, wasn't it?

BERTLEY. I remember. He and Sir Thomas took a kindly interest in the old fellow.

ANN. Yes, they fell over him. The Professor got him into an Institution.

BERTLEY. Indeed!

ANN. He was perfectly sober all the time he was there.

WELLWYN. My dear, they only allow them milk.

ANN. Well, anyway, he was reformed.

WELLWYN. Ye-yes!

ANN. [Terribly.] Daddy! You've been seeing him!

WELLWYN. [With dignity.] My dear, I have not.

ANN. How do you know, then?

WELLWYN. Came across Sir Thomas on the Embankment yesterday; told me old Timso--had been had up again for sitting down in front of a brewer's dray.

ANN. Why?

WELLWYN. Well, you see, as soon as he came out of the what d'you call 'em, he got drunk for a week, and it left him in low spirits.

BERTLEY. Do you mean he deliberately sat down, with the intention--of--er?

WELLWYN. Said he was tired of life, but they didn't believe him.

ANN. Rather a score for Sir Thomas! I suppose he'd told the Professor? What did he say?

WELLWYN. Well, the Professor said [with a quick glance at BERTLEY] he felt there was nothing for some of these poor devils but a lethal chamber.

BERTLEY. [Shocked.] Did he really!

[He has not yet caught WELLWYN' s glance.]

WELLWYN. And Sir Thomas agreed. Historic occasion. And you, Vicar H'm!

[BERTLEY winces.]

ANN. [To herself.] Well, there isn't.

BERTLEY. And yet! Some good in the old fellow, no doubt, if one could put one's finger on it. [Preparing to go.] You'll let us know, then, when you're settled. What was the address? [WELLWYN takes out and hands him a card.] Ah! yes. Good-bye, Ann. Good-bye, Wellyn. [The wind blows his hat along the street.] What a wind! [He goes, pursuing.]

ANN. [Who has eyed the card askance.] Daddy, have you told those other two where we're going?

WELLWYN. Which other two, my dear?

ANN. The Professor and Sir Thomas.

WELLWYN. Well, Ann, naturally I----

ANN. [Jumping on to the dais with disgust.] Oh, dear! When I'm trying to get you away from all this atmosphere. I don't so much mind the Vicar knowing, because he's got a weak heart----

[She jumps off again. ]

WELLWYN. [To himself.] Seventh floor! I felt there was something.

ANN. [Preparing to go.] I'm going round now. But you must stay here till the van comes back. And don't forget you tipped the men after the first load.

WELLWYN. Oh! Yes, yes. [Uneasily.] Good sorts they look, those fellows!

ANN. [Scrutinising him.] What have you done?

WELLWYN. Nothing, my dear, really----!

ANN. What?

WELLWYN. I--I rather think I may have tipped them twice.

ANN. [Drily.] Daddy! If it is the first of April, it's not necessary to make a fool of oneself. That's the last time you ever do these ridiculous things. [WELLWYN eyes her askance.] I'm going to see that you spend your money on yourself. You needn't look at me like that! I mean to. As soon as I've got you away from here, and all--these----

WELLWYN. Don't rub it in, Ann!

ANN. [Giving him a sudden hug--then going to the door--with a sort of triumph.] Deeds, not words, Daddy!

[She goes out, and the wind catching her scarf blows it out beneath her firm young chin. WELLWYN returning to the fire, stands brooding, and gazing at his extinct cigarette.]

WELLWYN. [To himself.] Bad lot--low type! No method! No theory!

[In the open doorway appear FERRAND and MRS. MEGAN. They stand, unseen, looking at him. FERRAND is more ragged, if possible, than on Christmas Eve. His chin and cheeks are clothed in a reddish golden beard. MRS. MEGAN's dress is not so woe-begone, but her face is white, her eyes dark-circled. They whisper. She slips back into the shadow of the doorway. WELLWYN turns at the sound, and stares at FERRAND in amazement.]

FERRAND. [Advancing.] Enchanted to see you, Monsieur. [He looks round the empty room.] You are leaving?

WELLWYN. [Nodding--then taking the young man's hand.] How goes it?

FERRAND. [Displaying himself, simply.] As you see, Monsieur. I have done of my best. It still flies from me.

WELLWYN. [Sadly--as if against his will.] Ferrand, it will always fly.

[The young foreigner shivers suddenly from head to foot; then controls himself with a great effort.]

FERRAND. Don't say that, Monsieur! It is too much the echo of my heart.

WELLWYN. Forgive me! I didn't mean to pain you.

FERRAND. [Drawing nearer the fire.] That old cabby, Monsieur, you remember--they tell me, he nearly succeeded to gain happiness the other day.

[WELLWYN nods.]

FERRAND. And those Sirs, so interested in him, with their theories? He has worn them out? [WELLWYN nods.] That goes without saying. And now they wish for him the lethal chamber.

WELLWYN. [Startled.] How did you know that?

[There is silence.]

FERRAND. [Staring into the fire.] Monsieur, while I was on the road this time I fell ill of a fever. It seemed to me in my illness that I saw the truth--how I was wasting in this world--I would never be good for any one--nor any one for me--all would go by, and I never of it--fame, and fortune, and peace, even the necessities of life, ever mocking me.

[He draws closer to the fire, spreading his fingers to the flame. And while he is speaking, through the doorway MRS. MEGAN creeps in to listen.]

FERRAND. [Speaking on into the fire.] And I saw, Monsieur, so plain, that I should be vagabond all my days, and my days short, I dying in the end the death of a dog. I saw it all in my fever-- clear as that flame--there was nothing for us others, but the herb of death. [WELLWYN takes his arm and presses it.] And so, Monsieur, I wished to die. I told no one of my fever. I lay out on the ground--it was verree cold. But they would not let me die on the roads of their parishes--they took me to an Institution, Monsieur, I looked in their eyes while I lay there, and I saw more clear than the blue heaven that they thought it best that I should die, although they would not let me. Then Monsieur, naturally my spirit rose, and I said: "So much the worse for you. I will live a little more." One is made like that! Life is sweet, Monsieur.

WELLWYN. Yes, Ferrand; Life is sweet.

FERRAND. That little girl you had here, Monsieur [WELLWYN nods.] in her too there is something of wild-savage. She must have joy of life. I have seen her since I came back. She has embraced the life of joy. It is not quite the same thing. [He lowers his voice.] She is lost, Monsieur, as a stone that sinks in water. I can see, if she cannot. [As WELLWYN makes a movement of distress.] Oh! I am not to blame for that, Monsieur. It had well begun before I knew her.

WELLWYN. Yes, yes--I was afraid of it, at the time.

[MRS. MEGAN turns silently, and slips away.]

FEERRAND. I do my best for her, Monsieur, but look at me! Besides, I am not good for her--it is not good for simple souls to be with those who see things clear. For the great part of mankind, to see anything--is fatal.

WELLWYN. Even for you, it seems.

FERRAND. No, Monsieur. To be so near to death has done me good; I shall not lack courage any more till the wind blows on my grave. Since I saw you, Monsieur, I have been in three Institutions. They are palaces. One may eat upon the floor--though it is true--for Kings--they eat too much of skilly there. One little thing they lack--those palaces. It is understanding of the 'uman heart. In them tame birds pluck wild birds naked.

WELLWYN. They mean well.

FERRAND. Ah! Monsieur, I am loafer, waster--what you like--for all that [bitterly] poverty is my only crime. If I were rich, should I not be simply veree original, 'ighly respected, with soul above commerce, travelling to see the world? And that young girl, would she not be "that charming ladee," "veree chic, you know!" And the old Tims--good old-fashioned gentleman--drinking his liquor well. Eh! bien--what are we now? Dark beasts, despised by all. That is life, Monsieur. [He stares into the fire.]

WELLWYN. We're our own enemies, Ferrand. I can afford it--you can't. Quite true!

FERRAND. [Earnestly.] Monsieur, do you know this? You are the sole being that can do us good--we hopeless ones.

WELLWYN. [Shaking his head.] Not a bit of it; I'm hopeless too.

FERRAND. [Eagerly.] Monsieur, it is just that. You understand. When we are with you we feel something--here--[he touches his heart.] If I had one prayer to make, it would be, Good God, give me to understand! Those sirs, with their theories, they can clean our skins and chain our 'abits--that soothes for them the aesthetic sense; it gives them too their good little importance. But our spirits they cannot touch, for they nevare understand. Without that, Monsieur, all is dry as a parched skin of orange.

WELLWYN. Don't be so bitter. Think of all the work they do!

FERRAND. Monsieur, of their industry I say nothing. They do a good work while they attend with their theories to the sick and the tame old, and the good unfortunate deserving. Above all to the little children. But, Monsieur, when all is done, there are always us hopeless ones. What can they do with me, Monsieur, with that girl, or with that old man? Ah! Monsieur, we, too, 'ave our qualities, we others--it wants you courage to undertake a career like mine, or like that young girl's. We wild ones--we know a thousand times more of life than ever will those sirs. They waste their time trying to make rooks white. Be kind to us if you will, or let us alone like Mees Ann, but do not try to change our skins. Leave us to live, or leave us to die when we like in the free air. If you do not wish of us, you have but to shut your pockets and--your doors--we shall die the faster.

WELLWYN. [With agitation.] But that, you know--we can't do--now can we?

FERRAND. If you cannot, how is it our fault? The harm we do to others--is it so much? If I am criminal, dangerous--shut me up! I would not pity myself--nevare. But we in whom something moves-- like that flame, Monsieur, that cannot keep still--we others--we are not many--that must have motion in our lives, do not let them make us prisoners, with their theories, because we are not like them--it is life itself they would enclose! [He draws up his tattered figure, then bending over the fire again.] I ask your pardon; I am talking. If I could smoke, Monsieur!

[WELLWYN hands him a tobacco pouch; and he rolls a cigarette with his yellow-Stained fingers.]

FERRAND. The good God made me so that I would rather walk a whole month of nights, hungry, with the stars, than sit one single day making round business on an office stool! It is not to my advantage. I cannot help it that I am a vagabond. What would you have? It is stronger than me. [He looks suddenly at WELLWYN.] Monsieur, I say to you things I have never said.

WELLWYN. [Quietly.] Go on, go on. [There is silence.]

FERRAND. [Suddenly.] Monsieur! Are you really English? The English are so civilised.

WELLWYN. And am I not?

FERRAND. You treat me like a brother.

[WELLWYN has turned towards the street door at a sound of feet, and the clamour of voices.]

TIMSON. [From the street.] Take her in 'ere. I knows 'im.

[Through the open doorway come a POLICE CONSTABLE and a LOAFER, bearing between them the limp white faced form of MRS. MEGAN, hatless and with drowned hair, enveloped in the policeman's waterproof. Some curious persons bring up the rear, jostling in the doorway, among whom is TIMSON carrying in his hands the policeman's dripping waterproof leg pieces.]

FERRAND. [Starting forward.] Monsieur, it is that little girl!

WELLWYN. What's happened? Constable! What's happened!

[The CONSTABLE and LOAFER have laid the body down on the dais; with WELLWYN and FERRAND they stand bending over her.]

CONSTABLE. 'Tempted sooicide, sir; but she hadn't been in the water 'arf a minute when I got hold of her. [He bends lower.] Can't understand her collapsin' like this.

WELLWYN. [Feeling her heart.] I don't feel anything.

FERRAND. [In a voice sharpened by emotion.] Let me try, Monsieur.

CONSTABLE. [Touching his arm.] You keep off, my lad.

WELLWYN. No, constable--let him. He's her friend.

CONSTABLE. [Releasing FERRAND--to the LOAFER.] Here you! Cut off for a doctor-sharp now! [He pushes back the curious persons.] Now then, stand away there, please--we can't have you round the body. Keep back--Clear out, now!

[He slowly moves them back, and at last shepherds them through the door and shuts it on them, TIMSON being last.]

FERRAND. The rum!

[WELLWYN fetches the decanter. With the little there is left FERRAND chafes the girl's hands and forehead, and pours some between her lips. But there is no response from the inert body.]

FERRAND. Her soul is still away, Monsieur!

[WELLWYN, seizing the decanter, pours into it tea and boiling water.]

CONSTABLE. It's never drownin', sir--her head was hardly under; I was on to her like knife.

FERRAND. [Rubbing her feet.] She has not yet her philosophy, Monsieur; at the beginning they often try. If she is dead! [In a voice of awed rapture.] What fortune!

CONSTABLE. [With puzzled sadness.] True enough, sir--that! We'd just begun to know 'er. If she 'as been taken--her best friends couldn't wish 'er better.

WELLWYN. [Applying the decanter to her dips.] Poor little thing! I'll try this hot tea.

FERRAND. [Whispering.] 'La mort--le grand ami!'

WELLWYN. Look! Look at her! She's coming round!

[A faint tremor passes over MRS. MEGAN's body. He again applies the hot drink to her mouth. She stirs and gulps.]

CONSTABLE. [With intense relief.] That's brave! Good lass! She'll pick up now, sir.

[Then, seeing that TIMSON and the curious persons have again opened the door, he drives them out, and stands with his back against it. MRS. MEGAN comes to herself.]

WELLWYN. [Sitting on the dais and supporting her--as if to a child.] There you are, my dear. There, there--better now! That's right. Drink a little more of this tea.

[MRS. MEGAN drinks from the decanter.]

FERRAND. [Rising.] Bring her to the fire, Monsieur.

[They take her to the fire and seat her on the little stool. From the moment of her restored animation FERRAND has resumed his air of cynical detachment, and now stands apart with arms folded, watching.]

WELLWYN. Feeling better, my child?

MRS. MEGAN. Yes.

WELLWYN. That's good. That's good. Now, how was it? Um?

MRS. MEGAN. I dunno. [She shivers.] I was standin' here just now when you was talkin', and when I heard 'im, it cam' over me to do it--like.

WELLWYN. Ah, yes I know.

MRS. MEGAN. I didn't seem no good to meself nor any one. But when I got in the water, I didn't want to any more. It was cold in there.

WELLWYN. Have you been having such a bad time of it?

MRS. MEGAN. Yes. And listenin' to him upset me. [She signs with her head at FERRAND.] I feel better now I've been in the water. [She smiles and shivers.]

WELLWYN. There, there! Shivery? Like to walk up and down a little?

[They begin walking together up and down.]

WELLWYN. Beastly when your head goes under?

MRS. MEGAN. Yes. It frightened me. I thought I wouldn't come up again.

WELLWYN. I know--sort of world without end, wasn't it? What did you think of, um?

MRS. MEGAN. I wished I 'adn't jumped--an' I thought of my baby-- that died--and--[in a rather surprised voice] and I thought of d-dancin'.

[Her mouth quivers, her face puckers, she gives a choke and a little sob.]

WELLWYN. [Stopping and stroking her.] There, there--there!

[For a moment her face is buried in his sleeve, then she recovers herself.]

MRS. MEGAN. Then 'e got hold o' me, an' pulled me out.

WELLWYN. Ah! what a comfort--um?

MRS. MEGAN. Yes. The water got into me mouth.

[They walk again.] I wouldn't have gone to do it but for him. [She looks towards FERRAND.] His talk made me feel all funny, as if people wanted me to.

WELLWYN. My dear child! Don't think such things! As if anyone would----!

MRS. MEGAN. [Stolidly.] I thought they did. They used to look at me so sometimes, where I was before I ran away--I couldn't stop there, you know.

WELLWYN. Too cooped-up?

MRS. MEGAN. Yes. No life at all, it wasn't--not after sellin' flowers, I'd rather be doin' what I am.

WELLWYN. Ah! Well-it's all over, now! How d'you feel--eh? Better?

MRS. MEGAN. Yes. I feels all right now.

[She sits up again on the little stool before the fire.]

WELLWYN. No shivers, and no aches; quite comfy?

MRS. MEGAN. Yes.

WELLWYN. That's a blessing. All well, now, Constable--thank you!

CONSTABLE. [Who has remained discreetly apart at the door-cordially.] First rate, sir! That's capital! [He approaches and scrutinises MRS. MEGAN.] Right as rain, eh, my girl?

MRS. MEGAN. [Shrinking a little.] Yes.

CONSTABLE. That's fine. Then I think perhaps, for 'er sake, sir, the sooner we move on and get her a change o' clothin', the better.

WELLWYN. Oh! don't bother about that--I'll send round for my daughter--we'll manage for her here.

CONSTABLE. Very kind of you, I'm sure, sir. But [with embarrassment] she seems all right. She'll get every attention at the station.

WELLWYN. But I assure you, we don't mind at all; we'll take the greatest care of her.

CONSTABLE. [Still more embarrassed.] Well, sir, of course, I'm thinkin' of--I'm afraid I can't depart from the usual course.

WELLWYN. [Sharply.] What! But-oh! No! No! That'll be all right, Constable! That'll be all right! I assure you.

CONSTABLE. [With more decision.] I'll have to charge her, sir.

WELLWYN. Good God! You don't mean to say the poor little thing has got to be----

CONSTABLE. [Consulting with him.] Well, sir, we can't get over the facts, can we? There it is! You know what sooicide amounts to-- it's an awkward job.

WELLWYN. [Calming himself with an effort.] But look here, Constable, as a reasonable man--This poor wretched little girl--you know what that life means better than anyone! Why! It's to her credit to try and jump out of it!

[The CONSTABLE shakes his head.]

WELLWYN. You said yourself her best friends couldn't wish her better! [Dropping his voice still more.] Everybody feels it! The Vicar was here a few minutes ago saying the very same thing--the Vicar, Constable! [The CONSTABLE shakes his head.] Ah! now, look here, I know something of her. Nothing can be done with her. We all admit it. Don't you see? Well, then hang it--you needn't go and make fools of us all by----

FERRAND. Monsieur, it is the first of April.

CONSTABLE. [With a sharp glance at him.] Can't neglect me duty, sir; that's impossible.

WELLWYN. Look here! She--slipped. She's been telling me. Come, Constable, there's a good fellow. May be the making of her, this.

CONSTABLE. I quite appreciate your good 'eart, sir, an' you make it very 'ard for me--but, come now! I put it to you as a gentleman, would you go back on yer duty if you was me?

[WELLWYN raises his hat, and plunges his fingers through and through his hair.]

WELLWYN. Well! God in heaven! Of all the d---d topsy--turvy--! Not a soul in the world wants her alive--and now she's to be prosecuted for trying to be where everyone wishes her.

CONSTABLE. Come, sir, come! Be a man!

[Throughout all this MRS. MEGAN has sat stolidly before the fire, but as FERRAND suddenly steps forward she looks up at him.]

FERRAND. Do not grieve, Monsieur! This will give her courage. There is nothing that gives more courage than to see the irony of things. [He touches MRS. MEGAN'S shoulder.] Go, my child; it will do you good.

[MRS. MEGAN rises, and looks at him dazedly.]

CONSTABLE. [Coming forward, and taking her by the hand.] That's my good lass. Come along! We won't hurt you.

MRS. MEGAN. I don't want to go. They'll stare at me.

CONSTABLE. [Comforting.] Not they! I'll see to that.

WELLWYN. [Very upset.] Take her in a cab, Constable, if you must --for God's sake! [He pulls out a shilling.] Here!

CONSTABLE. [Taking the shilling.] I will, sir, certainly. Don't think I want to----

WELLWYN. No, no, I know. You're a good sort.

CONSTABLE. [Comfortable.] Don't you take on, sir. It's her first try; they won't be hard on 'er. Like as not only bind 'er over in her own recogs. not to do it again. Come, my dear.

MRS. MEGAN. [Trying to free herself from the policeman's cloak.] I want to take this off. It looks so funny.

[As she speaks the door is opened by ANN; behind whom is dimly seen the form of old TIMSON, still heading the curious persons.]

ANN. [Looking from one to the other in amazement.] What is it? What's happened? Daddy!

FERRAND. [Out of the silence.] It is nothing, Ma'moiselle! She has failed to drown herself. They run her in a little.

WELLWYN. Lend her your jacket, my dear; she'll catch her death.

[ANN, feeling MRS. MEGAN's arm, strips of her jacket, and helps her into it without a word.]

CONSTABLE. [Donning his cloak.] Thank you. Miss--very good of you, I'm sure.

MRS. MEGAN. [Mazed.] It's warm!

[She gives them all a last half-smiling look, and Passes with the CONSTABLE through the doorway.]

FERRAND. That makes the third of us, Monsieur. We are not in luck. To wish us dead, it seems, is easier than to let us die.

[He looks at ANN, who is standing with her eyes fixed on her father. WELLWYN has taken from his pocket a visiting card.]

WELLWYN. [To FERRAND.] Here quick; take this, run after her! When they've done with her tell her to come to us.

FERRAND. [Taking the card, and reading the address.] "No. 7, Haven House, Flight Street!" Rely on me, Monsieur--I will bring her myself to call on you. 'Au revoir, mon bon Monsieur'!

[He bends over WELLWYN's hand; then, with a bow to ANN goes out; his tattered figure can be seen through the window, passing in the wind. WELLWYN turns back to the fire. The figure of TIMSON advances into the doorway, no longer holding in either hand a waterproof leg-piece.]

TIMSON. [In a croaky voice.] Sir!

WELLWYN. What--you, Timson?

TIMSON. On me larst legs, sir. 'Ere! You can see 'em for yerself! Shawn't trouble yer long....

WELLWYN. [After a long and desperate stare.] Not now--TIMSON not now! Take this! [He takes out another card, and hands it to TIMSON] Some other time.

TIMSON. [Taking the card.] Yer new address! You are a gen'leman. [He lurches slowly away.]

[ANN shuts the street door and sets her back against it. The rumble of the approaching van is heard outside. It ceases.]

ANN. [In a fateful voice.] Daddy! [They stare at each other.] Do you know what you've done? Given your card to those six rotters.

WELLWYN. [With a blank stare.] Six?

ANN. [Staring round the naked room.] What was the good of this?

WELLWYN. [Following her eyes---very gravely.] Ann! It is stronger than me.

[Without a word ANN opens the door, and walks straight out. With a heavy sigh, WELLWYN sinks down on the little stool before the fire. The three humble-men come in.]

CHIEF HUMBLE-MAN. [In an attitude of expectation.] This is the larst of it, sir.

WELLWYN. Oh! Ah! yes!

[He gives them money; then something seems to strike him, and he exhibits certain signs of vexation. Suddenly he recovers, looks from one to the other, and then at the tea things. A faint smile comes on his face.]

WELLWYN. You can finish the decanter.

[He goes out in haste.]

CHIEF HUMBLE-MAN. [Clinking the coins.] Third time of arskin'! April fool! Not 'arf! Good old pigeon!

SECOND HUMBLE-MAN. 'Uman being, I call 'im.

CHIEF HUMBLE-MAN. [Taking the three glasses from the last packing-case, and pouring very equally into them.] That's right. Tell you wot, I'd never 'a touched this unless 'e'd told me to, I wouldn't--not with 'im.

SECOND HUMBLE-MAN. Ditto to that! This is a bit of orl right! [Raising his glass.] Good luck!

THIRD HUMBLE-MAN. Same 'ere!

[Simultaneously they place their lips smartly against the liquor, and at once let fall their faces and their glasses.]

CHIEF HUMBLE-MAN. [With great solemnity.] Crikey! Bill! Tea! .....'E's got us!

[The stage is blotted dark.]


Curtain.


THE END.

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John Galsworthy

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