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Ch. 5: The Garden of Eden

And ye shall be as-Gods!

SCENE.-Thymy grass-plot at back of t!'e Mahasu dak-bungalow,
overlooking little wooded valley. On the left, glimpse of the Dead
Forest of Fagoo; on the right, Simla Hills. In background, line of
the Snows. CAPTAIN GADSBY, now three weeks a husband, is
smoking the pipe of peace on a rug in the sunshine. Banjo and
tobacco-pouch on rug. Overhead the Fagoo eagles. MRS. G. comes
out of bungalow.

MRS. G. My husband! CAPT. G. (Lazily, with intense enjoyment.)
Eb, wha-at? Say that again.

MRS. G. I've written to Mamma and told her that we shall be back
on the 17th.

CAPT. G. Did you give her my love?

MRS. G. No, I kept all that for myself. (Sitting down by his side.)
I thought you wouldn't mind.

CAPT. G. (With mock sternness.) I object awf'ly. How did you
know that it was yours to keep?

MRS. G. I guessed, Phil.

CAPT. G. (Rapturously.) Lit-tle Featherweight!

MRS. G. I won' t be called those sporting pet names, bad boy.

CAPT. G. You'll be called anything I choose. Has it ever occurred
to you, Madam, that you are my Wife?

MRS. G. It has. I haven't ceased wondering at it yet.

CAPT. G. Nor I. It seems so strange; and yet, somehow, it doesn't.
(Confidently.) You see, it could have been no one else.

MRS. G. (Softly.) No. No one else -for me or for you. It must
have been all arranged from the beginning. Phil, tell me again
what made you care for me.

CAPT. G. How could I help it? You were you, you know.

MRS. G. Did you ever want to help it? Speak the truth!

CAPT. G. (A twinkle in his eye.) I did, darling, just at the first.
Rut only at the very first. (Chuckles.) I called you-stoop low and
I'll whisper-"a little beast." Ho! Ho! Ho!

MRS. G. (Taking him by the mous'ache and making him sit up.)
"A-little-beast!" Stop laughing over your crime! And yet you had
the-the -awful cheek to propose to me!

CAPT. C. I'd changed my mind then. And you weren't a little beast
any more.

MRS. G. Thank you, sir! And when was I ever?

CAPT. G. Never! But that first day, when you gave me tea in that
peach-colored muslin gown thing, you looked-you did indeed,
dear-such an absurd little mite. And I didn't know what to say to
you.

MRS. G. (Twisting moustache.) So you said "little beast." Upon
my word, Sir! I called you a "Crrrreature," but I wish now I had
called you something worse.

CAPT. G. (Very meekly.) I apologize, but you're hurting me
awf'ly. (Interlude.) You're welcome to torture me again on those
terms.

MRS. G. Oh, why did you let me do it?

CAPT. G. (Looking across valley.) No reason in particular, but-if
it amused you or did you any good-you might-wipe those dear little
boots of yours on me.

MRS. G. (Stretching out her hands.) Don't! Oh, don't! Philip, my
King, please don't talk like that. It's how I feel. You're so much too
good for me. So much too good!

CAPT. G. Me! I'm not fit to put my arm around you. (Puts it
round.)

MRS. C. Yes, you are. But I-what have I ever done?

CAPT. G. Given me a wee bit of your heart, haven't you, my
Queen!

MRS. G. That's nothing. Any one would do that. They
cou-couldn't help it.

CAPT. G. Pussy, you'll make me horribly conceited. Just when I
was beginning to feel so humble, too.

MRS. G. Humble! I don't believe it's in your character.

CAPT. G. What do you know of my character, Impertinence?

MRS. G. Ah, but I shall, shan't I, Phil? I shall have time in all the
years and years to come, to know everything about you; and there
will be no secrets between us.

CAPT. G. Little witch! I believe you know me thoroughly
already.

MRS. G. I think I can guess. You're selfish?

CAPT. G. Yes.

MRS. G. Foolish?

CAPT. G. Very.

MRS. G. And a dear?

CAPT. G. That is as my lady pleases.

MRS. G. Then your lady is pleased. (A pause.) D'you know that
we're two solemn, serious, grown-up people -CAPT. G. (Tilting
her straw hat over her eyes.) You grown-up! Pooh! You're a
baby.

MRS. G. And we're talking nonsense.

CAPT. G. Then let's go on talking nonsense. I rather like it. Pussy,
I'll tell you a secret. Promise not to repeat?

MRS. G. Ye-es. Only to you.

CAPT. G. I love you.

MRS. G. Re-ally! For how long?

CAPT. G. Forever and ever.

MRS. G. That's a long time.

CAPT. G. 'Think so? It's the shortest I can do with.

MRS. G. You're getting quite clever.

CAPT. G. I'm talking to you.

MRS. G. Prettily turned. Hold up your stupid old head and I'll pay
you for it.

CAPT. G. (Affecting supreme contempt.) Take it yourself if you
want it.

MRS. G. I've a great mind to-and I will! (Takes it and is repaid
with interest.)

CAPT. G, Little Featherweight, it's my opinion that we are a
couple of idiots.

MRS. G. We're the only two sensible people in the world. Ask the
eagle. He's coming by.

CAPT. G. Ah! I dare say he's seen a good many sensible people at
Mahasu. They say that those birds live for ever so long.

MRS. G. How long?

CAPT. G. A hundred and twenty years.

MRS. G. A hundred and twenty years! O-oh! And in a hundred
and twenty years where will these two sensible people be?

CAPT. G. What does it matter so long as we are together now?

MRS. G. (Looking round the horizon.) Yes. Only you and I-I and
you-in the whole wide, wide world until the end. (Sees the line of
the Snows.) How big and quiet the hills look! D'you think they care
for us?

CAPT. G. 'Can't say I've consulted em particularly. I care, and
that's enough for me.

MRS. G. (Drawing nearer to him.) Yes, now-but afterward.
What's that little black blur on the Snows?

CAPT. G. A snowstorm, forty miles away. You'll see it move, as
the wind carries it across the face of that spur and then it will be
all gone.

MRS. G. And then it will be all gone. (Shivers.)

CAPT. G. (Anriously.) 'Not chilled, pet, are you? 'Better let me
get your cloak.

MRS. G. No. Don't leave me, Phil. Stay here. I believe I am afraid.
Oh, why are the hills so horrid! Phil, promise me that you'll always
love me.

CAPT. G. What's the trouble, darling? I can't promise any more
than I have; but I'll promise that again and again if you like.

MRs. G. (Her head on his shoulder.) Say it, then-say it! N-no-
don't! The-the-eagles would laugh. (Recovering.) My husband,
you've married a little goose.

CAPT. G. (Very tenderly.) Have I? I am content whatever she is,
so long as she is mine.

MRS. G. (Quickly.) Because she is yours or because she is me
mineself?

CAPT. G. Because she is both. (Piteously.) I'm not clever, dear,
and I don't think I can make myself understood properly.

MRS. G. I understand. Pip, will you tell me something?

CAPT. G. Anything you like. (Aside.) I wonder what's coming
now.

MRS. G. (Haltingly, her eyes 'owered.) You told me once in the
old days-centunes and centuries ago-that you had been engaged
before. I didn't say anything-then.

CAPT. G. (Innocently.) Why not?

MRS. G. (Raising her eyes to his.) Because-because I was afraid
of losing you, my heart. But now-tell about it-please.

CAPT. G. There's nothing to tell. I was awf'ly old then-nearly two
and twenty-and she was quite that.

MRS. G. That means she was older than you. I shouldn't like her to
have been younger. Well?

CAPT. G. Well, I fancied myself in love and raved about a bit,
and-oh, yes, by Jove! I made up poetry. Ha! Ha!

MRS. G. You never wrote any for me! What happened?

CAPT. G. I came out here, and the whole thing went phut. She
wrote to say that there had been a mistake, and then she married.

Mas. G. Did she care for you much?

CAPT. G. No. At least she didn't show it as far as I remember.

MRS. G. As far as you rememberl Do you remember her name?
(Hears it and bows her head.) Thank you, my husband.

CAPT. G. Who but you had the right? Now, Little Featherweight,
have you ever been mixed up in any dark and dismal tragedy?

MRS. G. If you call me Mrs. Gadsby, p'raps I'll tell.

CAPT. G. (Throwing Parade rasp into his voice.) Mrs. Gadsby,
confessl

MRS. G. Good Heavens, Phil! I never knew that you could speak
in that terrible voice.

CAPT. G. You don't know half my accomplishments yet. Wait till
we are settled in the Plains, and I'll show you how I bark at my
troop. You were going to say, darling?

MRS. G. I-I don't like to, after that voice. (Tremulously.) Phil,
never you dare to speak to me in that tone, whatever I may do!

CAPT. G. My poor little love! Why, you're shaking all over. I am
so sorry. Of course I never meant to upset you Don't tell me
anything, I'm a brute.

MRS. G. No, you aren't, and I will tell- There was a man.

CAPT. G. (Lightly.) Was there? Lucky man!

MRS. G. (In a whisper.) And I thougbt I cared for him.

CAPT. G. Still luckier man! Well?

MRS. G. And I thought I cared for him-and I didn't-and then you
came-and I cared for you very, very much indeed. That's all.
(Face hidden.) You aren't angry, are you?

CAPT. G. Angry? Not in the least. (Aside.) Good Lord, what have
I done to deserve this angel?

MRS. G. (Aside.) And he never asked for the name! How funny
men are! But perhaps it's as well.

CAPT. G. That man will go to heaven because you once thought
you cared for him. 'Wonder if you'll ever drag me up there?

MRS. G. (Firmly.) 'Sha'n't go if you don't.

CAPT. G. Thanks. I say, Pussy, I don't know much about your
religious beliefs. You were brought up to believe in a heaven and
all that, weren't you?

MRS. G. Yes. But it was a pincushion heaven, with hymn-books
in all the pews.

CAPT. G. (Wagging his head with intense conviction.) Never
mind. There is a pukka heaven.

MRS. G. Where do you bring that message from, my prophet?

CAPT. G. Here! Because we care for each other. So it's all right.

Mrs. G. (As a troop of langurs crash through the branches.) So it's
all right. But Darwin says that we came from those!

CAPT. G. (Placidly.) Ah! Darwin was never in love with an angel.
That settles it. Sstt, you brutes! Monkeys, indeed! You shouldn't
read those books.

MRS. G. (Folding her hands.) If it pleases my Lord the King to
issue proclamation.

CAPT. G. Don't, dear one. There are no orders between us. Only
I'd rather you didn't. They lead to nothing, and bother people's
heads.

MRS. G. Like your first engagement.

CAPT. G. (With an immense calm.) That was a necessary evil and
led to you. Are you nothing?

MRS. G. Not so very much, am I?

CAPT. G. All this world and the next to me.

MRS. G. (Very softly.) My boy of boys! Shall I tell you
something?

CAPT. G. Yes, if it's not dreadful-about other men.

MRS. G. It's about my own bad little self.

CAPT. G. Then it must be good. Go on, dear.

MRS. G. (Slowly.) I don't know why I'm telling you, Pip; but if
ever you marry again-(Interlude.) Take your hand from my mouth
or I'll bite! In the future, then remember-I don't know quite how to
put it!

CAPT. G. (Snorting indignantly.) Don't try. "Marry again,"
indeed!

MRS. G. I must. Listen, my husband. Never, never, never tell your
wife anything that you do not wish her to remember and think over
all her life. Because a woman-yes, I am a woman -can't forget.

CAPT. G. By Jove, how do you know that?

MRS. G. (Confusedly.) I don't. I'm only guessing. I am-I was-a silly
little girl; but I feel that I know so much, oh, so very much more
than you, dearest. To begin with, I'm your wife.

CAPT. G. So I have been led to believe.

MRS. G. And I shall want to know every one of your secrets-to
share everything you know with you. (Stares round desperately.)

CAPT. G. So you shall, dear, so you shall-but don't look like that.

MRS. G. For your own sake don't stop me, Phil. I shall never talk
to you in this way again. You must not tell me! At least, not now.
Later on, when I'm an old matron it won't matter, but if you love
me, be very good to me now; for this part of my life I shall never
forget! Have I made you understand?

CAPT. G. I think so, child. Have I said anything yet that you
disapprove of?

MRS. G. Will you be very angry? That-that voice, and what you
said about the engagement-

CAPT. G. But you asked to be told that, darling.

MRS. G. And that's why you shouldn't have told me! You must
be the Judge, and, oh, Pip, dearly as I love you, I shan't be able to
help you! I shall hinder you, and you must judge in spite of me!

CAPT. G. (Meditatively.) We have a great many things to find out
together, God help us both-say so, Pussy-but we shall understand
each other better every day; and I think I'm beginning to see now.
How in the world did you come to know just the importance of
giving me just that lead?

MRS. G. I've told you that I don't know. Only somehow it seemed
that, in all this new life, I was being guided for your sake as well
as my own.

CAPT. G. (Aside.) Then Mafilin was right! They know, and
we-we're blind all of us. (Lightly.) 'Getting a little beyond our
depth, dear, aren't we? I'll remember, and, if I fail, let me be
punished as I deserve.

MRS. G. There shall be no punishment. We'll start into life
together from here-you and I-and no one else.

CAPT. G. And no one else. (A pause.) Your eyelashes are all
wet, Sweet? Was there ever such a quaint little Absurdity?

Mas. G. Was there ever such nonsense talked before?

CAPT. G. (Knocking the ashes out of his pipe.) 'Tisn't what we
say, it's what we don't say, that helps. And it's all the profoundest
philosophy. But no one would understand-even if it were put into a
book.

MRS. G. The idea! No-only we ourselves, or people like
ourselves-if there are any people like us.

CAPT. G. (Magisterially.) All people, not like ourselves, are blind
idiots.

MRS. G. (Wiping her eyes.) Do you think, then, that there are any
people as happy as we are?

CAPT. G. 'Must be-unless we've appropriated all the happiness in
the world.

MRS. G'. (Looking toward Simla.) Poor dears! Just fancy if we
have!

CAPT. G. Then we'll hang on to the whole show, for it's a great
deal too jolly to lose-eh, wife o' mine?

MRS. G. O Pip! Pip! How much of you is a solemn, married man
and how much a horrid slangy schoolboy?

CAPT. G. When you tell me how much of you was eighteen last
birthday and how much is as old as the Sphinx and twice as
mysterious, perhaps I'll attend to you. Lend me that banjo. The
spirit moveth me to jowl at the sunset.

MRS. G. Mind! It's not tuned. Ah! How that jars!

CAPT G. (Turning pegs.) It's amazingly different to keep a banjo
to proper pitch.

MRS. G. It's the same with all musical instruments, What shall it
be?

CAPT. G. "Vanity," and let the hills hear. (Sings through the first
and hal' of the second verse. Turning to MRS. G.) Now, chorus!
Sing, Pussy!

BOTH TOGETHRR. (Con brio, to the horror of the monkeys who
are settling for the night.)-

"Vanity, all is Vanity," said Wisdom. scorning me- I clasped my
true Love's tender hand and answered frank and free-ee "If this be
Vanity who'd be wise? If this be Vanity who'd be wise? If this be
Vanity who'd be wi-ise (Crescendo.) Vanity let it be!"

MRS. G. (Defiantly to the grey of the evening sky.) "Vanity let it
be!"

ECHO. (Prom the Fagoo spur.) Let it be!

Rudyard Kipling

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