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LADY MARDEN. I must say, I think you are both talking a little wildly.

OLIVIA (repeating it, oh, so tenderly). Or didn't - quite - marry. (She
looks at him with all her heart in her eyes. She is giving him his
last chance to say "Damn Telworthy; you're mine!" He struggles
desperately with himself. . . . Will he? - will he? . . . But we shall never
know, for at that moment ANNE comes in.)

ANNE. Mr. Pim is here, sir.

GEORGE (emerging from the struggle with an effort). Pim? Pim? Oh, ah,
yes, of course. Mr. Pim. (Looking up) Where have you put him?

OLIVIA. I want to see Mr. Pim, too, George.

LADY MARDEN. Who on earth is Mr. Pim?

OLIVIA. Show him in here, Anne.

ANNE. Yes, madam. [She goes out.

OLIVIA. It was Mr. Pim who told us about my husband. He came across
with him in the boat, and recognised him as the Telworthy he knew in

LADY MARDEN. Oh! Shall I be in the way?

GEORGE. No, no. It doesn't matter, does it, Olivia?

OLIVIA. Please stay.

[ANNE enters followed by MR. PIM.

ANNE. Mr. Pim.

GEORGE (pulling himself together). Ah, Mr. Pim! Very good of you to
have come. The fact is - er - (It is too much for him; he looks
despairingly at OLIVIA.)

OLIVIA. We're so sorry to trouble you, Mr. Pim. By the way, do you
know Lady Marden? (MR. PIM and LADY MARDEN bow to each other.) Do come
and sit down, won't you? (She makes room for him on the sofa next to
her) The fact is, Mr. Pim, you gave us rather a surprise this morning,
and before we had time to realise what it all meant, you had gone.

MR. PIM. A surprise, Mrs. Marden? Dear me, not an unpleasant one, I

OLIVIA. Well, rather a - surprising one.

GEORGE. Olivia, allow me a moment. Mr. Pim, you mentioned a man called
Telworthy this morning. My wife used to - that is to say, I used
to - that is, there are reasons -

OLIVIA. I think we had better be perfectly frank, George.

LADY MARDEN. I am sixty-five years of age, Mr. Pim, and I can say that
I've never had a moment's uneasiness by telling the truth.

MR. PIM (after a desperate effort to keep up with the conversation).
Oh! . . . I - er - I'm afraid I am rather at sea. Have I - er - left anything
unsaid in presenting my credentials to you this morning? This
Telworthy whom you mention - I seem to remember the name -

OLIVIA. Mr. Pim, you told us this morning of a man whom you had met on
the boat, a man who had come down in the world, whom you had known in
Sydney. A man called Telworthy.

MR. PIM (relieved). Ah yes, yes, of course. I did say Telworthy,
didn't I? Most curious coincidence, Lady Marden. Poor man, poor man!
Let me see, it must have been ten years ago -

GEORGE. Just a moment, Mr. Pim. You're quite sure that his name was

MR. PIM. Telworthy - Telworthy - didn't I say Telworthy? Yes, that was
it - Telworthy. Poor fellow!

OLIVIA. I'm going to be perfectly frank with you, Mr. Pim. I feel
quite sure that I can trust you. This man Telworthy whom you met is my

MR. PIM. Your husband? (He looks in mild surprise at GEORGE.)
But - er -

OLIVIA. My first husband. His death was announced six years ago. I had
left him some years before that, but there seems no doubt from your
story that he's still alive. His record - the country he comes
from - above all, the very unusual name - Telworthy.

MR. PIM. Telworthy - yes - certainly a most peculiar name. I remember
saying so. Your first husband? Dear me! Dear me!

GEORGE. You understand, Mr. Pim, that all this is in absolute

MR. PIM. Of course, of course.

OLIVIA. Well, since he is my husband, we naturally want to know
something about him. Where is he now, for instance?

MR. PIM (surprised). Where is he now? But surely I told you? I told
you what happened at Marseilles?

GEORGE. At Marseilles?

MR. PIM. Yes, yes, poor fellow, it was most unfortunate. (Quite happy
again) You must understand, Lady Marden, that although I had met the
poor fellow before in Australia, I was never in any way intimate -

GEORGE (thumping the desk). Where is he _now_, that's what we want to

(MR. PIM turns to him with a start.)

OLIVIA. Please, Mr. Pim!

PIM. Where is he now? But - but didn't I tell you of the curious
fatality at Marseilles - poor fellow - the fish-bone?

ALL. Fish-bone?

MR. PIM. Yes, yes, a herring, I understand.

OLIVIA (understanding first). Do you mean he's dead?

MR. PIM. Dead - of course - didn't I - ?

OLIVIA (laughing hysterically). Oh, Mr. Pim, you - oh, what a husband
to have - oh, I - (But that is all she can say for the moment.)

LADY MARDEN. Pull yourself together, Olivia. This is so unhealthy for
you. (to PIM) So he really _is_ dead this time?

MR. PIM. Oh, undoubtedly, undoubtedly. A fishbone lodged in his

GEORGE (trying to realise it). Dead!

OLIVIA (struggling with her laughter). I think you must excuse me, Mr.
Pim - I can never thank you enough - a herring - there's something about
a herring - morality depends on such little things - George,
you - (Shaking her head at him in a weak state of laughter, she hurries
out of the room.)

MR. PIM. Dear me! Dear me!

GEORGE. Now, let us have this quite clear, Mr. Pim. You say that the
man, Telworthy, Jacob Telworthy, is dead?

MR. PIM. Telworthy, yes - didn't I say Telworthy? This man I was
telling you about -

GEORGE. He's dead?

MR. PIM. Yes, yes, he died at Marseilles.

LADY MARDEN. A dispensation of Providence, George. One can look at it
in no other light.

GEORGE. Dead! (Suddenly annoyed) Really, Mr. Pim, I think you might
have told us before.

MR. PIM. But I - I _was_ telling you - I -

GEORGE. If you had only told us the whole story at once, instead of in
two - two instalments like this, you would have saved us all a good
deal of anxiety.

MR. PIM. Really, I -

LADY MARDEN. I am sure Mr. Pim meant well, George, but it seems a pity
he couldn't have said so before. If the man was dead, _why_ try to
hush it up?

MR. PIM (lost again). Really, Lady Marden, I -

GEORGE (getting up). Well, well, at any rate, I am much obliged to
you, Mr. Pim, for having come down to us this afternoon. Dead! _De
mortuis_, and so forth, but the situation would have been impossible
had he lived. Good-bye! (Holding out his hand) Good-bye!

LADY MARDEN. Good-bye, Mr. Pim.

MR. PIM. Good-bye, good-bye! (GEORGE takes him to the door.) Of
course, if I had - (to himself) Telworthy - I _think_ that was the name.
(He goes out, still wondering.)

GEORGE (with a sigh of thankfulness). Well! This is wonderful news,
Aunt Julia.

LADY MARDEN. Most providential! . . . You understand, of course, that you
are not married to Olivia?

GEORGE (who didn't). Not married?

LADY MARDEN. If her first husband only died at Marseilles a few days
ago -

GEORGE. Good Heavens!

LADY MARDEN. Not that it matters. You can get married quietly again.
Nobody need know.

GEORGE (considering it). Yes . . . yes. Then all these years we have
been - er - Yes.

LADY MARDEN. Who's going to know?

GEORGE. Yes, yes, that's true. . . . And in perfect innocence, too.

LADY MARDEN. I should suggest a Registry Office in London.

GEORGE. A Registry Office, yes.

LADY MARDEN. Better go up to town this afternoon. Can't do it too

GEORGE. Yes, yes. We can stay at an hotel -

LADY MARDEN (surprised). George!


LADY MARDEN. _You_ will stay at your club.

GEORGE. Oh - ah - yes, of course, Aunt Julia.

LADY MARDEN. Better take your solicitor with you to be on the safe
side. . . . To the Registry Office, I mean.


LADY MARDEN (getting up). Well, I must be getting along, George. Say
good-bye to Olivia for me. And those children. Of course, you won't
allow this absurd love-business between them to come to anything?

GEORGE. Most certainly not. Good-bye, Aunt Julia!

LADY MARDEN (indicating the windows). I'll go _this_ way. (As she
goes) And get Olivia out more, George. I don't like these hysterics.
You want to be firm with her.

GEORGE (firmly) Yes, yes! Good-bye!

(He waves to her and then goes back to his seat.)

(OLIVIA comes in, and stands in the middle of the room looking at him.
He comes to her eagerly.)

GEORGE (holding out his hands). Olivia! Olivia! (But it is not so easy
as that.)

OLIVIA (drawing herself up proudly). Mrs. Telworthy!


(OLIVIA is standing where we left her at the end of the last act.)

GEORGE (taken aback). Olivia, I - I don't understand.

OLIVIA (leaving melodrama with a little laugh and coming down to
him). Poor George! Did I frighten you rather?

GEORGE. You're so strange to-day. I don't understand you. You're not
like the Olivia I know.

(They sit down on the sofa together.)

OLIVIA. Perhaps you don't know me very well after all.

GEORGE (affectionately). Oh, that's nonsense, old girl. You're just my

OLIVIA. And yet it seemed as though I wasn't going to be your Olivia
half an hour ago.

GEORGE (with a shudder). Don't talk about it. It doesn't bear thinking
about. Well, thank Heaven that's over. Now we can get married again
quietly and nobody will be any the wiser.

OLIVIA. Married again?

GEORGE. Yes, dear. As you - er - (he laughs uneasily) said just now, you
are Mrs. Telworthy. Just for the moment. But we can soon put that
right. My idea was to go up this evening and - er - make arrangements,
and if you come up to-morrow morning, if we can manage it by then, we
could get quietly married at a Registry Office, and - er - nobody any
the wiser.

OLIVIA. Yes, I see. You want me to marry you at a Registry Office

GEORGE. If we can arrange it by then. I don't know how long these
things take, but I should imagine there would be no difficulty.

OLIVIA. Oh no, that part ought to be quite easy. But - (She hesitates.)

GEORGE. But what?

OLIVIA. Well, if you want to marry me to-morrow, George, oughtn't you
to propose to me first?

GEORGE (amazed). Propose?

OLIVIA. Yes. It is usual, isn't it, to propose to a person before you
marry her, and - and we want to do the usual thing, don't we?

GEORGE (upset). But you - but we . . .

OLIVIA. You see, dear, you're George Marden, and I'm Olivia Telworthy,
and you - you're attracted by me, and think I would make you a good
wife, and you want to marry me. Well, naturally you propose to me
first, and - tell me how much you are attracted by me, and what a good
wife you think I shall make, and how badly you want to marry me.

GEORGE (falling into the humour of it, as he thinks). The baby! Did
she want to be proposed to all over again?

OLIVIA. Well, she did rather.

GEORGE (rather fancying himself as an actor). She shall then. (He
adopts what he considers to be an appropriate attitude) Mrs.
Telworthy, I have long admired you in silence, and the time has now
come to put my admiration into words. Er - (But apparently he finds a

OLIVIA (hopefully). Into words.


OLIVIA (with the idea of helping). Oh, Mr. Marden!

GEORGE. Er - may I call you Olivia?

OLIVIA. Yes, George.

GEORGE (taking her hand). Olivia - I - (He hesitates.)

OLIVIA. I don't want to interrupt, but oughtn't you to be on your
knees? It is - usual, I believe. If one of the servants came in, you
could say you were looking for my scissors.

GEORGE. Really, Olivia, you must allow me to manage my own proposal in
my own way.

OLIVIA (meekly). I'm sorry. Do go on.

GEORGE. Well, er - confound it, Olivia, I love you. Will you marry me?

OLIVIA. Thank you, George, I will think it over.

GEORGE (laughing). Silly girl! Well then, to-morrow morning. No
wedding-cake, I'm afraid, Olivia. (He laughs again) But we'll go and
have a good lunch somewhere.

OLIVIA. I will think it over, George.

GEORGE (good-humouredly). Well, give us a kiss while you're thinking.

OLIVIA. I'm afraid you mustn't kiss me until we are actually engaged.

GEORGE (laughing uneasily). Oh, we needn't take it as seriously as all

OLIVIA. But a woman must take a proposal seriously.

GEORGE (alarmed at last). What do you mean?

OLIVIA. I mean that the whole question, as I heard somebody say once,
demands much more anxious thought than either of us has given it.
These hasty marriages -

GEORGE. Hasty!

OLIVIA. Well, you've only just proposed to me, and you want to marry
me to-morrow.

GEORGE. Now you're talking perfect nonsense, Olivia. You know quite
well that our case is utterly different from - from any other.

OLIVIA. All the same, one has to ask oneself questions. With a young
girl like - well, with a young girl, love may well seem to be all that
matters. But with a woman of my age, it is different. I have to ask
myself if you can afford to support a wife.

GEORGE (coldly). Fortunately that is a question that you can very
easily answer for yourself.

OLIVIA. Well, but I have been hearing rather bad reports lately. What
with taxes always going up, and rents always going down, some of our
landowners are getting into rather straitened circumstances. At least,
so I'm told.

GEORGE. I don't know what you're talking about.

OLIVIA (surprised). Oh, isn't it true? I heard of a case only this
morning - a landowner who always seemed to be very comfortably off, but
who couldn't afford an allowance for his only niece when she wanted to
get married. It made me think that one oughtn't to judge by

GEORGE. You know perfectly well that I can afford to support a wife as
my wife _should_ be supported.

OLIVIA. I'm so glad, dear. Then your income - you aren't getting
anxious at all?

GEORGE (stiffly). You know perfectly well what my income is. I see no
reason for anxiety in the future.

OLIVIA. Ah, well, then we needn't think about that any more. Well,
then, there is another thing to be considered.

GEORGE. I can't make out what you're up to. Don't you want to get
married; to - er - legalise this extraordinary situation in which we are

OLIVIA. I want to be sure that I am going to be happy, George. I can't
just jump at the very first offer I have had since my husband died,
without considering the whole question very carefully.

GEORGE. So I'm under consideration, eh?

OLIVIA. Every suitor is.

GEORGE (sarcastically, as he thinks). Well, go on.

OLIVIA. Well, then, there's your niece. You have a niece who lives
with you. Of course Dinah is a delightful girl, but one doesn't like
marrying into a household in which there is another grown-up woman.
But perhaps she will be getting married herself soon?

GEORGE. I see no prospect of it.

OLIVIA. I think it would make it much easier if she did.

GEORGE. Is this a threat, Olivia? Are you telling me that if I do not
allow young Strange to marry Dinah, you will not marry me?

OLIVIA. A threat? Oh no, George.

GEORGE. Then what does it mean?

OLIVIA. I'm just wondering if you love me as much as Brian loves
Dinah. You _do_ love me?

GEORGE (from his heart). You know I do, old girl. (He comes to her.)

OLIVIA. You're not just attracted by my pretty face? . . . _Is_ it a
pretty face?

GEORGE. It's an adorable one. (He tries to kiss it, but she turns

OLIVIA. How can I be sure that it is not _only_ my face which makes
you think that you care for me? Love which rests upon a mere outward
attraction cannot lead to any lasting happiness - as one of our
thinkers has observed.

GEORGE. What's come over you, Olivia? I don't understand what you're
driving at. Why should you doubt my love?

OLIVIA. Ah! - Why?

GEORGE. You can't pretend that we haven't been happy together.
I've - I've been a good pal to you, eh? We - we suit each other, old

OLIVIA. Do we?

GEORGE. Of course we do.

OLIVIA. I wonder. When two people of our age think of getting married,
one wants to be very sure that there is real community of ideas
between them. Whether it is a comparatively trivial matter, like the
right colour for a curtain, or some very much more serious question of
conduct which arises, one wants to feel that there is some chance of
agreement between husband and wife.

GEORGE. We - we love each other, old girl.

OLIVIA. We do now, yes. But what shall we be like in five years' time?
Supposing that after we have been married five years, we found
ourselves estranged from each other upon such questions as Dinah's
future, or the decorations of the drawing-room, or even the advice to
give to a friend who had innocently contracted a bigamous marriage?
How bitterly we should regret then our hasty plunge into a matrimony
which was no true partnership, whether of tastes, or of ideas, or even
of consciences! (With a sigh) Ah me!

GEORGE (nastily). Unfortunately for your argument, Olivia, I can
answer you out of your own mouth. You seem to have forgotten what you
said this morning in the case of - er - young Strange.

OLIVIA (reproachfully). Is it quite fair, George, to drag up what was
said this morning?

GEORGE. You've brought it on yourself.

OLIVIA. I? . . . Well, and what did I say this morning?

GEORGE. You said that it was quite enough that Strange was a gentleman
and in love with Dinah for me to let them marry each other.

OLIVIA. Oh! . . . _Is_ that enough, George?

GEORGE (triumphantly). You said so.

OLIVIA (meekly). Well, if you think so, too, I - I don't mind risking

GEORGE (kindly). Aha, my dear! You see!

OLIVIA. Then you do think it's enough?

GEORGE. I - er - Yes, yes, I - I think so.

OLIVIA (going to him). My darling one! Then we can have a double
wedding. How jolly!

GEORGE (astounded). A double one!

OLIVIA. Yes. You and me, Brian and Dinah.

GEORGE (firmly). Now look here, Olivia, understand once and for all, I
am not to be blackmailed into giving my consent to Dinah's engagement.
Neither blackmailed nor tricked. Our marriage has nothing whatever to
do with Dinah's.

OLIVIA. No, dear. I quite understand. They may take place about the
same time, but they have nothing to do with each other.

GEORGE. I see no prospect of Dinah's marriage taking place for many

OLIVIA. No, dear, that was what I said.

GEORGE (not understanding for the moment). You said. . . . ? I see. Now,
Olivia, let us have this perfectly clear. You apparently insist on
treating my - er - proposal as serious.

OLIVIA (surprised). Wasn't it serious? Were you trifling with me?

GEORGE. You know quite well what I mean. You treat it as an ordinary
proposal from a man to a woman who have never been more than
acquaintances before. Very well then. Will you tell me what you
propose to do, if you decide to - ah - refuse me? You do not suggest
that we should go on living together - unmarried?

OLIVIA (shocked). Of course not, George! What would the County - I mean
Heaven - I mean the Law - I mean, of _course_ not! Besides, it's so
unnecessary. If I decide to accept you, of _course_ I shall marry you.

GEORGE. Quite so. And if you - ah - decide to refuse me? What will you

OLIVIA. Nothing.

GEORGE. Meaning by that?

OLIVIA. Just that, George. I shall stay here - just as before. I like
this house. It wants a little re-decorating perhaps, but I do like it,
George. . . . Yes, I shall be quite happy here.

GEORGE. I see. You will continue to live down here - in spite of what
you said just now about the immorality of it.

OLIVIA (surprised). But there's nothing immoral in a widow living
alone in a big country house, with perhaps the niece of a friend of
hers staying with her, just to keep her company.

GEORGE (sarcastic). And what shall _I_ be doing, when you've so very
kindly taken possession of my house for me?

OLIVIA. I don't know, George. Travelling, I expect. You could come
down sometimes with a chaperone. I suppose there would be nothing
wrong in that.

GEORGE (indignant). Thank you! And what if I refuse to be turned out
of my house?

OLIVIA. Then, seeing that we can't _both_ be in it, it looks as though
you'd have to turn _me_ out. (Casually) I suppose there are legal ways
of doing these things. You'd have to consult your solicitor again.

GEORGE (amazed). Legal ways?

OLIVIA. Well, you couldn't _throw_ me out, could you? You'd have to
get an injunction against me - or prosecute me for trespass - or
something. It would make an awfully unusual case, wouldn't it? The
papers would be full of it.

GEORGE. You must be mad!

OLIVIA (dreamily). Widow of well-known ex-convict takes possession of
J.P.'s house. Popular country gentleman denied entrance to his own
home. Doomed to travel.

GEORGE (angrily). I've had enough of this. Do you mean all this

OLIVIA. I do mean, George, that I am in no hurry to go up to London
and get married. I love the country just now, and (with a sigh) after
this morning, I'm - rather tired of husbands.

GEORGE (in a rage). I've never heard so much - damned nonsense in my
life. I will leave you to come to your senses. (He goes out

(OLIVIA, who has forgiven him already, throws a loving kiss after him,
and then turns triumphantly to her dear curtains. She takes them,
smiling, to the sofa, and has just got to work again, when MR. PIM
appears at the open windows.)

PIM (in a whisper). Er, may I come in, Mrs. Marden?

OLIVIA (turning round in surprise). Mr. Pim!

PIM (anxiously). Mr. Marden is - er - not here?

OLIVIA (getting up). Do you want to see him? I will tell him.

PIM. No, no, no! Not for the world! (He comes in and looks anxiously
at the door) There is no immediate danger of his returning, Mrs.

OLIVIA (surprised). No, I don't think so. What is it? You -

PIM. I took the liberty of returning by the window in the hope
of - er - coming upon you alone, Mrs. Marden.


PIM (still rather nervous). I - er - Mr. Marden will be very angry with
me. Quite rightly. I blame myself entirely. I do not know how I can
have been so stupid.

OLIVIA. What is it, Mr. Pim? Has my husband come to life again?

PIM. Mrs. Marden, I throw myself on your mercy entirely. The fact
is - his name was Polwittle.

OLIVIA (at a loss). Whose? My husband's?

PIM. Yes, yes. The name came back to me suddenly, just as I reached
the gate. Polwittle, poor fellow.

OLIVIA. But, Mr. Pim, my husband's name was Telworthy.

PIM. No, no, Polwittle.

OLIVIA. But, really I ought to. . . .

PIM (firmly). Polwittle. It came back to me suddenly just as I reached
the gate. For the moment, I had thoughts of conveying the news by
letter. I was naturally disinclined to return in person,
and - Polwittle. (Proudly) If you remember, I always said it was a
curious name.

OLIVIA. But who _is_ Polwittle?

PIM (in surprise at her stupidity). The man I have been telling you
about, who met with the sad fatality at Marseilles. Henry
Polwittle - or was it Ernest? No, Henry, I think. Poor fellow.

OLIVIA (indignantly). But you said his name was Telworthy! How _could_

PIM. Yes, yes, I blame myself entirely.

OLIVIA. But how could you _think_ of a name like Telworthy, if it
wasn't Telworthy?

PIM (eagerly). Ah, that is the really interesting thing about the
whole matter.

OLIVIA. Mr. Pim, all your visits here to-day have been interesting.

PIM. Yes, but you see, on my first appearance here this morning, I was
received by - er - Miss Diana.

OLIVIA. Dinah.

PIM. Miss Dinah, yes. She was in - er - rather a communicative mood, and
she happened to mention, by way of passing the time, that before your
marriage to Mr. Marden you had been a Mrs. - er -

OLIVIA. Telworthy.

PIM. Yes, yes, Telworthy, of course. She mentioned also Australia. By
some process of the brain - which strikes me as decidedly curious - when
I was trying to recollect the name of the poor fellow on the boat,
whom you remember I had also met in Australia, the fact that this
other name was also stored in my memory, a name equally peculiar - this
fact I say . . .

OLIVIA (seeing that the sentence is rapidly going to pieces). Yes, I

PIM. I blame myself, I blame myself entirely.

OLIVIA. Oh, you mustn't do that, Mr. Pim. It was really Dinah's fault
for inflicting all our family history on you.

PIM. Oh, but a charming young woman. I assure you I was very
much interested in all that she told me. (Getting up) Well,
Mrs. - er - Marden, I can only hope that you will forgive me for the
needless distress I have caused you to-day.

OLIVIA. Oh, you mustn't worry about that - please.

PIM. And you will tell your husband - you will break the news to him?

OLIVIA (smiling to herself). I will - break the news to him.

PIM. You understand how it is that I thought it better to come to you
in the first place?

OLIVIA. I am very glad you did.

PIM (holding out his hand). Then I will say good-bye, and - er -

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