OLIVIA. Just a moment, Mr. Pim. Let us have it quite clear this time.
You never knew my husband, Jacob Telworthy, you never met him in
Australia, you never saw him on the boat, and nothing whatever
happened to him at Marseilles. Is that right?
PIM. Yes, yes, that is so.
OLIVIA. So that, since he was supposed to have died in Australia six
years ago, he is presumably still dead?
PIM. Yes, yes, undoubtedly.
OLIVIA (holding out her hand with a charming smile). Then good-bye,
Mr. Pim, and thank you so much for - for all your trouble.
PIM. Not at all, Mrs. Marden. I can only assure you I -
DINAH (from the window). Hullo, here's Mr. Pim! (She comes in,
followed by BRIAN.)
PIM (anxiously looking at the door in case MR. MARDEN should come in).
Yes, yes, I - er -
DINAH. Oh, Mr. Pim, you mustn't run away without even saying how do
you do! Such old friends as we are. Why, it is ages since I saw you!
Are you staying to tea?
PIM. I'm afraid I -
OLIVIA. Mr. Pim has to hurry away, Dinah. You mustn't keep him.
DINAH. Well, but you'll come back again?
PIM. I fear that I am only a passer-by, Miss - er - Dinah.
OLIVIA. You can walk with him to the gate, dear.
PIM (gratefully to OLIVIA). Thank you. (He edges towards the window)
If you would be so kind, Miss Dinah -
BRIAN. I'll catch you up.
DINAH. Come along then, Mr. Pim. (As they go out) I want to hear all
about your _first_ wife. You haven't really told me anything yet.
(OLIVIA resumes her work, and BRIAN sits on the back of the sofa
looking at her.)
BRIAN (awkwardly). I just wanted to say, if you don't think it cheek,
that I'm - I'm on your side, if I may be, and if I can help you at all
I should be very proud of being allowed to.
OLIVIA (looking up at him). Brian, you dear. That's sweet of you . . .
But it's quite all right now, you know.
BRIAN. Oh, I'm so glad.
OLIVIA. Yes, that's what Mr. Pim came back to say. He'd made a mistake
about the name. (Smiling) George is the only husband I have.
BRIAN (surprised). What? You mean that the whole thing - that
Pim - (With conviction) Silly ass!
OLIVIA (kindly). Oh, well, he didn't mean to be. (After a pause)
Brian, do you know anything about the Law?
BRIAN. I'm afraid not. I hate the Law. Why?
OLIVIA (casually). Oh, I just - I was wondering - thinking about all the
shocks we've been through to-day. Second marriages, and all that.
BRIAN. Oh! It's a rotten business.
OLIVIA. I suppose there's nothing wrong in getting married to the
_same_ person twice?
BRIAN. A hundred times if you like, I should think.
BRIAN. After all, in France, they always go through it twice, don't
they? Once before the Mayor or somebody, and once in church.
OLIVIA. Of course they do! How silly of me . . . I think it's rather a
nice idea. They ought to do it in England more.
BRIAN. Well, once will be enough for Dinah and me, if you can work it.
(Anxiously) D'you think there's any chance, Olivia?
OLIVIA (smiling). Every chance, dear.
BRIAN (jumping up). I say, do you really? Have you squared him? I
mean, has he -
OLIVIA. Go and catch them up now. We'll talk about it later on.
BRIAN. Bless you. Righto.
(As he goes out by the windows, GEORGE comes in at the door. GEORGE
stands looking after him, and then turns to OLIVIA, who is absorbed in
her curtains. He walks up and down the room, fidgeting with things,
waiting for her to speak. As she says nothing, he begins to talk
himself, but in an obviously unconcerned way. There is a pause after
each answer of hers, before he gets out his next remark.)
GEORGE (casually). Good-looking fellow, Strange.
OLIVIA (equally casually). Brian - yes, isn't he? And such a nice
boy . . .
GEORGE. Got fifty pounds for a picture the other day, didn't he? Hey?
OLIVIA. Yes. Of course he has only just begun. . . .
GEORGE. Critics think well of him, what?
OLIVIA. They all say he has genius. Oh, I don't think there's any
doubt about it . . .
GEORGE. Of course, I don't profess to know anything about painting.
OLIVIA. You've never had time to take it up, dear.
GEORGE. I know what I like, of course. Can't say I see much in this
new-fangled stuff. If a man can paint, why can't he paint like - like
Rubens or - or Reynolds?
OLIVIA. I suppose we all have our own styles. Brian will find his
directly. Of course, he's only just beginning. . . .
GEORGE. But they think a lot of him, what?
OLIVIA. Oh yes!
GEORGE. H'm! . . . Good-looking fellow. (There is rather a longer silence
this time, GEORGE continues to hope that he is appearing casual and
unconcerned. He stands looking at OLIVIA'S work for a moment.)
GEORGE. Nearly finished 'em?
OLIVIA. Very nearly. Are my scissors there?
GEORGE (looking round). Scissors?
OLIVIA. Ah, here they are. . . .
GEORGE. Where are you going to put 'em?
OLIVIA (as if really wondering). I don't quite know. . . . I _had_
thought of this room, but - I'm not quite sure.
GEORGE. Brighten the room up a bit.
OLIVIA. Yes. . . .
GEORGE (walking over to the present curtains). H'm. They _are_ a bit
OLIVIA (shaking out hers, and looking at them critically). Sometimes I
think I love them, and sometimes I'm not quite sure.
GEORGE. Best way is to hang 'em up and see how you like 'em then.
Always take 'em down again.
OLIVIA. That's rather a good idea, George!
GEORGE. Best way.
OLIVIA. Yes. . . . I think we might do that. . . . The only thing is - (she
OLIVIA. Well, the carpet and the chairs, and the cushions and things -
GEORGE. What about 'em?
OLIVIA. Well, if we had new curtains -
GEORGE. You'd want a new carpet, eh?
OLIVIA (doubtfully). Y - yes. Well, new chair-covers anyhow.
GEORGE. H'm. . . . Well, why not?
OLIVIA. Oh, but -
GEORGE (with an awkward laugh). We're not so hard up as all that, you
OLIVIA. No, I suppose not. (Thoughtfully) I suppose it would mean that
I should have to go up to London for them. That's rather a nuisance.
GEORGE (extremely casual). Oh, I don't know. We might go up together
OLIVIA. Well, of course if we _were_ up - for anything else - we could
just look about us, and see if we could find what we want.
GEORGE. That's what I meant.
(There is another silence. GEORGE is wondering whether to come to
closer quarters with the great question.)
OLIVIA. Oh, by the way, George -
OLIVIA (innocently). I told Brian, and I expect he'll tell Dinah, that
Mr. Pim had made a mistake about the name.
GEORGE (astonished). You told Brian that Mr. Pim -
OLIVIA. Yes - I told him that the whole thing was a mistake. It seemed
the simplest way.
GEORGE. Olivia! Then you mean that Brian and Dinah think that - that we
have been married all the time?
OLIVIA. Yes . . . They both think so now.
GEORGE (coming close to her). Olivia, does that mean that you _are_
thinking of marrying me?
OLIVIA. At your old Registry Office?
GEORGE (eagerly). Yes!
OLIVIA. Do you want me to _very_ much?
GEORGE. My darling, you know I do!
OLIVIA (a little apprehensive). We should have to do it very quietly.
GEORGE. Of course, darling. Nobody need know at all. We don't _want_
anybody to know. And now that you've put Brian and Dinah off the
scent, by telling them that Mr. Pim made a mistake - (He breaks off,
and says admiringly) That was very clever of you, Olivia. I should
never have thought of that.
OLIVIA (innocently). No, darling. . . . You don't think it was wrong,
GEORGE (his verdict). An innocent deception . . . perfectly harmless.
OLIVIA. Yes, dear, that was what I thought about - about what I was
GEORGE. Then you will come to-morrow? (She nods.) And if we happen to
see the carpet, or anything that you want -
OLIVIA. Oh, what fun!
GEORGE (beaming). And a wedding lunch at the Carlton, what? (She nods
eagerly.) And - and a bit of a honeymoon in Paris?
OLIVIA. Oh, George!
GEORGE (hungrily). Give us a kiss, old girl.
OLIVIA (lovingly). George!
(She holds up her cheek to him. He kisses it, and then suddenly takes
her in his arms.)
GEORGE. Don't ever leave me, old girl.
OLIVIA (affectionately). Don't ever send me away, old boy.
GEORGE (fervently). I won't. . . . (Awkwardly) I - I don't think I would
have, you know. I - I -
(DINAH and BRIAN appear at the windows, having seen MR. PIM safely
DINAH (surprised). Oo, I say!
(GEORGE hastily moves away.)
DINAH (going up impetuously to him). Give _me_ one, too, George; Brian
BRIAN. Really, Dinah, you are the limit.
GEORGE (formally, but enjoying it). Do you mind, Mr. Strange?
BRIAN (a little uncomfortably). Oh, I say, sir -
GEORGE. We'll risk it, Dinah. (He kisses her.)
DINAH (triumphantly to BRIAN). Did you notice that one? That
wasn't just an ordinary affectionate kiss. It was a special
bless - you - my - children one. (to GEORGE) Wasn't it?
OLIVIA. You do talk nonsense, darling.
DINAH. Well, I'm so happy, now that Mr. Pim has relented about your
first husband -
(GEORGE catches OLIVIA'S eye and smiles; she smiles back; but they are
GEORGE (the actor). Yes, yes, stupid fellow Pim, what?
BRIAN. Absolute idiot.
DINAH. - And now that George has relented about _my_ first husband.
GEORGE. You get on much too quickly, young woman. (to BRIAN) So you
want to marry my Dinah, eh?
BRIAN (with a smile). Well, I do rather, sir.
DINAH (hastily). Not at once, of course, George. We want to be engaged
for a long time first, and write letters to each other, and tell each
other how much we love each other, and sit next to each other when we
go out to dinner.
GEORGE (to OLIVIA). Well, _that_ sounds fairly harmless, I think.
OLIVIA (smiling). I think so. . . .
GEORGE (to BRIAN). Then you'd better have a talk with me - er - Brian.
BRIAN. Thank you very much, sir.
GEORGE. Well, come along then. (Looking at his watch) I am going up to
town after tea, so we'd better -
DINAH. I say! Are you going to London?
GEORGE (with the smile of the conspirator). A little business. Never
you mind, young lady.
DINAH (calmly). All right. Only, bring me back something nice.
GEORGE (to BRIAN). Shall we walk down and look at the pigs?
OLIVIA. Don't go far, dear. I may want you in a moment.
GEORGE. All right, darling, we'll be on the terrace.
[They go out together.
DINAH. Brian and George always try to discuss me in front of the pigs.
So tactless of them. Are you going to London, too, darling?
OLIVIA. To-morrow morning.
DINAH. What are you going to do in London?
OLIVIA. Oh, shopping, and - one or two little things.
DINAH. With George?
OLIVIA. Yes. . . .
DINAH. I say, wasn't it lovely about Pim?
DINAH. Yes; he told me all about it. Making such a hash of things, I
OLIVIA (innocently). Did he make a hash of things?
DINAH. Well, I mean keeping on coming like that. And if you look at it
all round - well, for all he had to say, he needn't really have come at
OLIVIA (smiling to herself). I shouldn't quite say that, Dinah. (She
stands up and shakes out the curtains.)
DINAH. I say, aren't they jolly?
OLIVIA (demurely). I'm so glad everybody likes them. Tell George I'm
ready, will you?
DINAH. I say, is _he_ going to hang them up for you?
OLIVIA. Well, I thought he could reach best.
DINAH. Righto! What fun! (At the windows) George! George! (to OLIVIA)
Brian is just telling George about the five shillings he's got in the
Post Office. . . . George!
GEORGE (from the terrace). Coming!
(He hurries in, the model husband, BRIAN follows.)
OLIVIA. Oh, George, just hang these up for me, will you?
GEORGE. Of course, darling. I'll get the steps from the library.
[He hurries out.
(BRIAN takes out his sketching block. It is obvious that his five
shillings has turned the scale. He bows to DINAH. He kisses OLIVIA'S
hand with an air. He motions to DINAH to be seated.)
DINAH (impressed). What is it?
BRIAN (beginning to draw). Portrait of Lady Strange.
(GEORGE hurries in with the steps, and gets to work. There is a great
deal of curtain, and for the moment he becomes slightly involved in
it. However, by draping it over his head and shoulders, he manages to
get successfully up the steps. There we may leave him.)
(But we have not quite finished with MR. PIM. It is a matter of honour
with him now that he should get his little story quite accurate before
passing out of the MARDENS' life for ever. So he comes back for the
last time; for the last time we see his head at the window. He
whispers to OLIVIA.)
MR. PIM. Mrs. Marden! I've just remembered. His name was _Ernest_
Polwittle - _not_ Henry.
(He goes off happily. A curious family the MARDENS. Perhaps somebody
else would have committed bigamy if he had not remembered in time that
it was Ernest. . . . Ernest. . . . Yes. . . . Now he can go back with an
easy conscience to the Trevors.)
THE CAMBERLEY TRIANGLE
A COMEDY IN ONE ACT
CYRIL NORWOOD (her lover).
DENNIS CAMBERLEY (her husband).
* * * * *
This play was first produced by Mr. Godfrey Tearle at the Coliseum on
September 8, 1919, with the following cast:
Dennis Camberley - GODFREY TEARLE.
Kate Camberley - MARY MALONE.
Cyril Norwood - EWAN BROOK.
THE CAMBERLEY TRIANGLE
(It is an evening of 1919 in KATE'S drawing-room. She is expecting
him, and the Curtain goes up as he is announced.)
MAID. Mr. Cyril Norwood.
(He comes in.)
NORWOOD (for the MAID'S benefit, but you may be sure she knows). Ah,
good evening, Mrs. Camberley!
KATE. Good evening!
(They shake hands. NORWOOD is sleek and prosperous, in a morning coat
with a white slip to his waistcoat. He is good-looking in rather an
obvious way with rather an obvious moustache. Most women like him - at
least, so he will tell you.)
NORWOOD (as soon as they are alone). My darling!
(He takes her hands and kisses them. He would kiss her face, but she
is not quite ready for this.)
NORWOOD. You let me yesterday. Why mayn't I kiss you to-day?
KATE. Not just yet, dear. I want to talk to you. Come and sit down.
(They sit on the sofa together.)
NORWOOD. You aren't sorry for what you said yesterday?
KATE (looking at him thoughtfully, and then shaking her head). No.
NORWOOD. Then what's happened?
KATE. I've just had a letter from Dennis.
NORWOOD (anxiously). Dennis - your husband?
NORWOOD. Where does he write from?
NORWOOD. Oh, well!
KATE. He says I may expect him home almost as soon as I get the
NORWOOD. Good Heavens!
KATE. Yes. . . .
NORWOOD (always hopeful). Perhaps he didn't catch the boat that he
expected to. Wouldn't he have cabled from somewhere on the way?
KATE. You can't depend on cables nowadays. _I_ don't know - What are we
to do, Cyril?
NORWOOD. You know what I always wanted you to do. (He takes her hands)
Come away with me.
KATE (doubtfully). And let Dennis come home and find - an empty house?
NORWOOD (eagerly). You are nothing to him, and he is nothing to you. A
war-wedding! - after you'd been engaged to each other for a week! And
forty-eight hours afterwards he is sent out to India - and you haven't
seen him since.
KATE. Yes. I keep telling myself that.
NORWOOD. The world may say that you're his wife and he's your husband,
but - what do you know of him? He won't even be the boy you married.
He'll be a stranger whom you'll hardly recognise. And you aren't the
girl _he_ married. You're a woman now, and you're just beginning to
learn what love is. Come with _me_.
KATE. It's true, it's true. But he _has_ been fighting for us. And to
come home again after those four years of exile, and find -
NORWOOD. Exile - that's making much too much of it. He's come through
the war safely, and he's probably had what he'd call a topping good
time. Like enough he's been in love half-a-dozen times himself
since - on leave in India and that sort of thing. India! Well, you
should read Kipling.
KATE. I wonder. Of course, as you say, I don't know him. But I feel
that we should be happier afterwards if we were quite straight about
it and told him just what had happened. If he had been doing what you
say, he would understand - and perhaps be glad of it.
NORWOOD (uneasily). Really, darling, it's hardly a thing you can talk
over calmly with a husband, even if he - We don't want any unpleasantness,
and - er - (Taking her hands again) Besides, I want you, Kate. It
may be weeks before he comes back. We can't go on like this . . . Kate!
KATE. Do you love me so very much?
NORWOOD. My darling!
KATE. Well, let us wait till the end of the week - in case he comes. I
don't want to seem to be afraid of him.
NORWOOD (eagerly). And then?
KATE. Then I'll come with you.
NORWOOD (taking her in his arms). My darling! . . . There! And now what
are you going to do? Ask me to stay to dinner or what?
KATE. Certainly not, sir. I'm going _out_ to dinner to-night.
NORWOOD (jealously). Who with?
NORWOOD (eagerly). At our little restaurant? (She nods) Good girl!
Then go and put on a hat, while I ring 'em up and see if they've got a
KATE. What fun! I won't be a moment. (She goes to the door) Cyril, you
will _always_ love me?
NORWOOD. Of course I will, darling. (She nods at him and goes out. He
is very well pleased with himself when he is left alone. He goes to
the telephone with a smile) Gerrard 11,001. Yes . . . I want a table for
two. To-night . . . Mr. Cyril Norwood . . . Oh, in about half an hour . . .
Yes, for two. Is that all right? . . . Thank you.
(He puts the receiver back and turns round to see DENNIS CAMBERLEY,
who has just come in. DENNIS is certainly a man now; very easily and
pleasantly master of himself and of anybody else who gets in his way.)
NORWOOD (surprised). Hallo!
DENNIS (nodding pleasantly). Hallo!
NORWOOD (wondering who he is). You - er - - ?
DENNIS. I just came in, Mr. Norwood.
NORWOOD. You know my name?
DENNIS. Oh yes, I've heard a good deal about you, Mr. Cyril Norwood.
NORWOOD (stiffly). I don't think I've had the pleasure of - er - -
DENNIS (winningly). Oh, but I'm sure you must have heard a good deal
NORWOOD. Good God, you don't mean - -
DENNIS. I do, indeed. (With a bow) Dennis Camberley, the missing
husband. (Pleadingly) You _have_ heard about me, _haven't_ you?
NORWOOD. I - er - Mr. Camberley, yes, of course. So you're back?
DENNIS. Yes, I'm back. Sometimes they don't come back, Mr. Norwood,
and sometimes - they do. . . . Even after four years. . . . But you _did_
talk about me sometimes?
NORWOOD. How did you know my name?
DENNIS. A little bird told me about you.
NORWOOD (turning away in anger). Pooh!
DENNIS. One of those little Eastern birds, which sit on the backs of
crocodiles, searching for - well, let us say, breakfast. He said to me
one morning: "Talking of parasites," he said, "do you know Mr. Cyril
Norwood?" he said, "because I could tell you an interesting story
about him," he said, "if you care to - "
NORWOOD (wheeling round furiously). Look here, sir, we'd better have
it out quite plainly. I don't want any veiled insults and sneers from
you. I admit that an unfortunate situation has arisen, but we must
look facts in the face. You may be Mrs. Camberley's husband, but she
has not seen you for four years, and - well, she and I love each other.
There you have it. What are you going to do?
DENNIS (anxiously). You don't feel that I have neglected her, Mr.
Norwood? You see, I couldn't come home for week-ends very well, and -
NORWOOD. What are you going to do?
DENNIS (pleasantly). Well, what do you suggest?
NORWOOD (taken aback). Really, sir, I - er -
DENNIS. You see, I feel so out of it all. I've been leading such a
nasty, uncivilised life for the last four years, I really hardly know
what is - what is being done. Now _you_ have been mixing in Society . . .
making munitions . . .
NORWOOD (stiffly). I have been engaged on important work for the
Government of a confidential nature -
DENNIS. You, as I was saying, have been mixing in Society, engaged on
important work for the Government of a confidential nature - -
NORWOOD. It was my great regret that I had no opportunity of
enlisting - -
DENNIS. With no opportunity, as I was about to say, of enlisting, but
with many opportunities, fortunately, of making love to my wife.
NORWOOD. Now look here, Mr. Camberley, I've already told you - -
DENNIS (soothing him). But, my dear Mr. Norwood, I'm only doing what
you said. I'm looking facts in the face. (Surprised) You aren't
ashamed of having made love to my wife, are you?
NORWOOD (impatiently). What are you going to do? That's all that
matters between you and me. What are you going to do?
DENNIS. Well, that was what I was going to ask you. You're so much
more in the swim than I am. (Earnestly) What _is_ being done in
Society just now? You must have heard a good deal of gossip about it.
All your friends, who were also engaged on important work of a
confidential nature, with no opportunity of enlisting - don't they tell
you their own experiences? What _have_ the husbands been doing lately
when they came back from the front?
NORWOOD (advancing on him angrily). Now, once and for all, sir - -
(KATE comes in, with a hat in each hand, calling to NORWOOD as she
KATE. Oh, Cyril - which of these two hats - (she sees her
husband) - Dennis!
DENNIS (looking at her steadfastly). How are _you_, Kate?
KATE (stammering). You've - you've come back? (She puts the hats down.)
DENNIS. I've come back. As I was telling Mr. Norwood.
KATE (looking from one to the other). You - ?
DENNIS (smiling). Oh, we're quite old friends.
NORWOOD (going to her). I've told him, Kate.
(He takes her hands, and tries to look defiantly at DENNIS, though he
is not feeling like that at all.)
KATE (looking anxiously at DENNIS). What are you going to do?
(She can hardly make him out. He is different from the husband who
left her four years ago.)
DENNIS. Well, that's what Cyril keeps asking me. (to NORWOOD) You
don't mind my calling you Cyril? - such an old friend of my wife's -
KATE (unable to make him out). Dennis! (She is frightened.)
NORWOOD (soothingly). It's all right, dear.
DENNIS. Do let's sit down and talk it over in a friendly way.
KATE (going to him). Dennis, can you ever forgive me? We never ought
to have got married - we knew each other so little - you had to go away
so soon - I - I was going to write and tell you - oh, I wish -
DENNIS. That's all right, Kate. (He will not let her come too close to
him. He steps back and looks at her from head to feet) You've altered.
KATE. That's just it, Dennis. I'm not the girl who -
DENNIS. You've grown four years younger and four years prettier.
KATE (dropping her eyes). Have I?
DENNIS. Yes. . . . You do your hair a new way.
KATE (surprised). Do you like it?
DENNIS. I love it.
NORWOOD (coughing). Yes, well, perhaps we'd better -
DENNIS (with a start). I beg your pardon, Cyril. I was forgetting you
for the moment. Well, now do sit down, (NORWOOD and KATE sit down
together on the sofa, but DENNIS remains standing) That's right.
DENNIS (to KATE). You want to marry him, eh?
NORWOOD. We have already told you the circumstances, Mr. Camberley. I
need hardly say how regrettable it is that - er - but at the same time
these - er - things will happen, and since it - er - has happened -
KATE. I feel I hardly know you, Dennis. Did I love you when I married
you? I don't know. It was so sudden. We had no time to find out
anything about each other. And now you come back - a stranger -
DENNIS (jerking his head at NORWOOD). And he's not a stranger, eh?
KATE (dropping her eyes). N-no.
DENNIS. You feel you know all about _him_?
KATE. I - we - (She is unhappy.)
NORWOOD. We have discovered that we love each other. (Taking her
hands) My darling one, this is distressing for you. Let _me_ -
DENNIS (sharply). It wouldn't be distressing for her, if you didn't
keep messing her about. Why the devil can't you sit on a chair by
NORWOOD (indignantly). Really!
KATE (freeing herself from him, and moving to the extreme end of the
sofa). What are you going to do, Dennis?
DENNIS (looking at them thoughtfully, his chin on his hand). I don't
know. . . . It's difficult. I don't want to do anything melodramatic. I