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mine, Mr. Valentine?

VALENTINE. Thank you, I'm used to them. Would it be too much to ask you
to wait five minutes while I get rid of my landlord downstairs?

DOLLY. Don't be long. We're hungry.

MRS. CLANDON (again remonstrating). Dolly, dear!

VALENTINE (to Dolly). All right. (To Mrs. Clandon.) Thank you: I shan't
be long. (He steals a look at Gloria as he turns to go. She is looking
gravely at him. He falls into confusion.) I - er - er - yes - thank you
(he succeeds at last in blundering himself out of the room; but the
exhibition is a pitiful one).

PHILIP. Did you observe? (Pointing to Gloria.) Love at first sight. You
can add his scalp to your collection, Gloria.

MRS. CLANDON. Sh - sh, pray, Phil. He may have heard you.

PHILIP. Not he. (Bracing himself for a scene.) And now look here, mamma.
(He takes the stool from the bench; and seats himself majestically in
the middle of the room, taking a leaf out of Valentine's book. Dolly,
feeling that her position on the step of the operating chair is unworthy
of the dignity of the occasion, rises, looking important and determined;
crosses to the window; and stands with her back to the end of the
writing-table, her hands behind her and on the table. Mrs. Clandon looks
at them, wondering what is coming. Gloria becomes attentive. Philip
straightens his back; places his knuckles symmetrically on his knees;
and opens his case.) Dolly and I have been talking over things a good
deal lately; and I don't think, judging from my knowledge of human
nature - we don't think that you (speaking very staccato, with the words
detached) quite appreciate the fact -

DOLLY (seating herself on the end of the table with a spring). That
we've grown up.

MRS. CLANDON. Indeed? In what way have I given you any reason to
complain?

PHILIP. Well, there are certain matters upon which we are beginning to
feel that you might take us a little more into your confidence.

MRS. CLANDON (rising, with all the placidity of her age suddenly broken
up; and a curious hard excitement, dignified but dogged, ladylike
but implacable - the manner of the Old Guard of the Women's Rights
movement - coming upon her). Phil: take care. Remember what I have
always taught you. There are two sorts of family life, Phil; and
your experience of human nature only extends, so far, to one of them.
(Rhetorically.) The sort you know is based on mutual respect,
on recognition of the right of every member of the household to
independence and privacy (her emphasis on "privacy" is intense) in their
personal concerns. And because you have always enjoyed that, it seems
such a matter of course to you that you don't value it. But (with biting
acrimony) there is another sort of family life: a life in which husbands
open their wives' letters, and call on them to account for every
farthing of their expenditure and every moment of their time; in which
women do the same to their children; in which no room is private and
no hour sacred; in which duty, obedience, affection, home, morality
and religion are detestable tyrannies, and life is a vulgar round of
punishments and lies, coercion and rebellion, jealousy, suspicion,
recrimination - Oh! I cannot describe it to you: fortunately for you, you
know nothing about it. (She sits down, panting. Gloria has listened to
her with flashing eyes, sharing all her indignation.)

DOLLY (inaccessible to rhetoric). See Twentieth Century Parents, chapter
on Liberty, passim.

MRS. CLANDON (touching her shoulder affectionately, soothed even by a
gibe from her). My dear Dolly: if you only knew how glad I am that it is
nothing but a joke to you, though it is such bitter earnest to me. (More
resolutely, turning to Philip.) Phil, I never ask you questions about
your private concerns. You are not going to question me, are you?

PHILIP. I think it due to ourselves to say that the question we wanted
to ask is as much our business as yours.

DOLLY. Besides, it can't be good to keep a lot of questions bottled up
inside you. You did it, mamma; but see how awfully it's broken out again
in me.

MRS. CLANDON. I see you want to ask your question. Ask it.

DOLLY AND PHILIP (beginning simultaneously). Who - (They stop.)

PHILIP. Now look here, Dolly: am I going to conduct this business or are
you?

DOLLY. You.

PHILIP. Then hold your mouth. (Dolly does so literally.) The question is
a simple one. When the ivory snatcher -

MRS. CLANDON (remonstrating). Phil!

PHILIP. Dentist is an ugly word. The man of ivory and gold asked us
whether we were the children of Mr. Densmore Clandon of Newbury Hall. In
pursuance of the precepts in your treatise on Twentieth Century Conduct,
and your repeated personal exhortations to us to curtail the number of
unnecessary lies we tell, we replied truthfully the we didn't know.

DOLLY. Neither did we.

PHILIP. Sh! The result was that the gum architect made considerable
difficulties about accepting our invitation to lunch, although I doubt
if he has had anything but tea and bread and butter for a fortnight
past. Now my knowledge of human nature leads me to believe that we had a
father, and that you probably know who he was.

MRS. CLANDON (her agitation returning). Stop, Phil. Your father is
nothing to you, nor to me (vehemently). That is enough. (The twins are
silenced, but not satisfied. Their faces fall. But Gloria, who has been
following the altercation attentively, suddenly intervenes.)

GLORIA (advancing). Mother: we have a right to know.

MRS. CLANDON (rising and facing her). Gloria! "We!" Who is "we"?

GLORIA (steadfastly). We three. (Her tone is unmistakable: she is
pitting her strength against her mother for the first time. The twins
instantly go over to the enemy.)

MRS. CLANDON (wounded). In your mouth "we" used to mean you and I,
Gloria.

PHILIP (rising decisively and putting away the stool). We're hurting
you: let's drop it. We didn't think you'd mind. I don't want to know.

DOLLY (coming off the table). I'm sure I don't. Oh, don't look like
that, mamma. (She looks angrily at Gloria.)

MRS. CLANDON (touching her eyes hastily with her handkerchief and
sitting down again). Thank you, my dear. Thanks, Phil.

GLORIA (inexorably). We have a right to know, mother.

MRS. CLANDON (indignantly). Ah! You insist.

GLORIA. Do you intend that we shall never know?

DOLLY. Oh, Gloria, don't. It's barbarous.

GLORIA (with quiet scorn). What is the use of being weak? You see
what has happened with this gentleman here, mother. The same thing has
happened to me.

MRS. CLANDON } (all { What do you mean?

DOLLY } together). { Oh, tell us.

PHILIP } { What happened to you?

GLORIA. Oh, nothing of any consequence. (She turns away from them and
goes up to the easy chair at the fireplace, where she sits down, almost
with her back to them. As they wait expectantly, she adds, over her
shoulder, with studied indifference.) On board the steamer the first
officer did me the honor to propose to me.

DOLLY. No, it was to me.

MRS. CLANDON. The first officer! Are you serious, Gloria? What did you
say to him? (correcting herself) Excuse me: I have no right to ask that.

GLORIA. The answer is pretty obvious. A woman who does not know who her
father was cannot accept such an offer.

MRS. CLANDON. Surely you did not want to accept it?

GLORIA (turning a little and raising her voice). No; but suppose I had
wanted to!

PHILIP. Did that difficulty strike you, Dolly?

DOLLY. No, I accepted him.

GLORIA } (all crying { Accepted him!

MRS. CLANDON } out { Dolly!

PHILIP } together) { Oh, I say!

DOLLY (naively). He did look such a fool!

MRS. CLANDON. But why did you do such a thing, Dolly?

DOLLY. For fun, I suppose. He had to measure my finger for a ring. You'd
have done the same thing yourself.

MRS. CLANDON. No, Dolly, I would not. As a matter of fact the first
officer did propose to me; and I told him to keep that sort of thing for
women were young enough to be amused by it. He appears to have acted on
my advice. (She rises and goes to the hearth.) Gloria: I am sorry you
think me weak; but I cannot tell you what you want. You are all too
young.

PHILIP. This is rather a startling departure from Twentieth Century
principles.

DOLLY (quoting). "Answer all your children's questions, and answer them
truthfully, as soon as they are old enough to ask them." See Twentieth
Century Motherhood -

PHILIP. Page one -

DOLLY. Chapter one -

PHILIP. Sentence one.

MRS. CLANDON. My dears: I did not say that you were too young to know.
I said you were too young to be taken into my confidence. You are very
bright children, all of you; but I am glad for your sakes that you are
still very inexperienced and consequently very unsympathetic. There are
some experiences of mine that I cannot bear to speak of except to those
who have gone through what I have gone through. I hope you will never
be qualified for such confidences. But I will take care that you shall
learn all you want to know. Will that satisfy you?

PHILIP. Another grievance, Dolly.

DOLLY. We're not sympathetic.

GLORIA (leaning forward in her chair and looking earnestly up at her
mother). Mother: I did not mean to be unsympathetic.

MRS. CLANDON (affectionately). Of course not, dear. Do you think I don't
understand?

GLORIA (rising). But, mother -

MRS. CLANDON (drawing back a little). Yes?

GLORIA (obstinately). It is nonsense to tell us that our father is
nothing to us.

MRS. CLANDON (provoked to sudden resolution). Do you remember your
father?

GLORIA (meditatively, as if the recollection were a tender one). I am
not quite sure. I think so.

MRS. CLANDON (grimly). You are not sure?

GLORIA. No.

MRS. CLANDON (with quiet force). Gloria: if I had ever struck you -
(Gloria recoils: Philip and Dolly are disagreeably shocked; all
three start at her, revolted as she continues) - struck you purposely,
deliberately, with the intention of hurting you, with a whip bought for
the purpose! Would you remember that, do you think? (Gloria utters an
exclamation of indignant repulsion.) That would have been your last
recollection of your father, Gloria, if I had not taken you away from
him. I have kept him out of your life: keep him now out of mine by never
mentioning him to me again. (Gloria, with a shudder, covers her face
with her hands, until, hearing someone at the door, she turns away and
pretends to occupy herself looking at the names of the books in the
bookcase. Mrs. Clandon sits down on the sofa. Valentine returns.).

VALENTINE. I hope I've not kept you waiting. That landlord of mine is
really an extraordinary old character.

DOLLY (eagerly). Oh, tell us. How long has he given you to pay?

MRS. CLANDON (distracted by her child's bad manners). Dolly, Dolly,
Dolly dear! You must not ask questions.

DOLLY (demurely). So sorry. You'll tell us, won't you, Mr. Valentine?

VALENTINE. He doesn't want his rent at all. He's broken his tooth on
a Brazil nut; and he wants me to look at it and to lunch with him
afterwards.

DOLLY. Then have him up and pull his tooth out at once; and we'll bring
him to lunch, too. Tell the maid to fetch him along. (She runs to the
bell and rings it vigorously. Then, with a sudden doubt she turns to
Valentine and adds) I suppose he's respectable - really respectable.

VALENTINE. Perfectly. Not like me.

DOLLY. Honest Injun? (Mrs. Clandon gasps faintly; but her powers of
remonstrance are exhausted.)

VALENTINE. Honest Injun!

DOLLY. Then off with you and bring him up.

VALENTINE (looking dubiously at Mrs. Clandon). I daresay he'd be
delighted if - er - ?

MRS. CLANDON (rising and looking at her watch). I shall be happy to see
your friend at lunch, if you can persuade him to come; but I can't wait
to see him now: I have an appointment at the hotel at a quarter to one
with an old friend whom I have not seen since I left England eighteen
years ago. Will you excuse me?

VALENTINE. Certainly, Mrs. Clandon.

GLORIA. Shall I come?

MRS. CLANDON. No, dear. I want to be alone. (She goes out, evidently
still a good deal troubled. Valentine opens the door for her and follows
her out.)

PHILIP (significantly - to Dolly). Hmhm!

DOLLY (significantly to Philip). Ahah! (The parlor maid answers the
bell.)

DOLLY. Show the old gentleman up.

THE PARLOR MAID (puzzled). Madam?

DOLLY. The old gentleman with the toothache.

PHILIP. The landlord.

THE PARLOR MAID. Mr. Crampton, Sir?

PHILIP. Is his name Crampton?

DOLLY (to Philip). Sounds rheumaticky, doesn't it?

PHILIP. Chalkstones, probably.

DOLLY (over her shoulder, to the parlor maid). Show Mr. Crampstones up.
(Goes R. to writing-table chair).

THE PARLOR MAID (correcting her). Mr. Crampton, miss. (She goes.)

DOLLY (repeating it to herself like a lesson). Crampton, Crampton,
Crampton, Crampton, Crampton. (She sits down studiously at the
writing-table.) I must get that name right, or Heaven knows what I shall
call him.

GLORIA. Phil: can you believe such a horrible thing as that about our
father - what mother said just now?

PHILIP. Oh, there are lots of people of that kind. Old Chalice used to
thrash his wife and daughters with a cartwhip.

DOLLY (contemptuously). Yes, a Portuguese!

PHILIP. When you come to men who are brutes, there is much in common
between the Portuguese and the English variety, Doll. Trust my knowledge
of human nature. (He resumes his position on the hearthrug with an
elderly and responsible air.)

GLORIA (with angered remorse). I don't think we shall ever play again at
our old game of guessing what our father was to be like. Dolly: are you
sorry for your father - the father with lots of money?

DOLLY. Oh, come! What about your father - the lonely old man with the
tender aching heart? He's pretty well burst up, I think.

PHILIP. There can be no doubt that the governor is an exploded
superstition. (Valentine is heard talking to somebody outside the door.)
But hark: he comes.

GLORIA (nervously). Who?

DOLLY. Chalkstones.

PHILIP. Sh! Attention. (They put on their best manners. Philip adds in
a lower voice to Gloria) If he's good enough for the lunch, I'll nod to
Dolly; and if she nods to you, invite him straight away.

(Valentine comes back with his landlord. Mr. Fergus Crampton is a man of
about sixty, tall, hard and stringy, with an atrociously obstinate, ill
tempered, grasping mouth, and a querulously dogmatic voice. Withal he
is highly nervous and sensitive, judging by his thin transparent skin
marked with multitudinous lines, and his slender fingers. His consequent
capacity for suffering acutely from all the dislike that his temper and
obstinacy can bring upon him is proved by his wistful, wounded eyes,
by a plaintive note in his voice, a painful want of confidence in his
welcome, and a constant but indifferently successful effort to correct
his natural incivility of manner and proneness to take offence. By his
keen brows and forehead he is clearly a shrewd man; and there is no
sign of straitened means or commercial diffidence about him: he is
well dressed, and would be classed at a guess as a prosperous master
manufacturer in a business inherited from an old family in the
aristocracy of trade. His navy blue coat is not of the usual fashionable
pattern. It is not exactly a pilot's coat; but it is cut that way,
double breasted, and with stout buttons and broad lapels, a coat for
a shipyard rather than a counting house. He has taken a fancy to
Valentine, who cares nothing for his crossness of grain and treats
him with a sort of disrespectful humanity, for which he is secretly
grateful.)

VALENTINE. May I introduce - this is Mr. Crampton - Miss Dorothy Clandon,
Mr. Philip Clandon, Miss Clandon. (Crampton stands nervously bowing.
They all bow.) Sit down, Mr. Crampton.

DOLLY (pointing to the operating chair). That is the most comfortable
chair, Mr. Ch - crampton.

CRAMPTON. Thank you; but won't this young lady - (indicating Gloria, who
is close to the chair)?

GLORIA. Thank you, Mr. Crampton: we are just going.

VALENTINE (bustling him across to the chair with good-humored
peremptoriness). Sit down, sit down. You're tired.

CRAMPTON. Well, perhaps as I am considerably the oldest person present,
I - (He finishes the sentence by sitting down a little rheumatically in
the operating chair. Meanwhile, Philip, having studied him critically
during his passage across the room, nods to Dolly; and Dolly nods to
Gloria.)

GLORIA. Mr. Crampton: we understand that we are preventing Mr. Valentine
from lunching with you by taking him away ourselves. My mother would be
very glad, indeed, if you would come too.

CRAMPTON (gratefully, after looking at her earnestly for a moment).
Thank you. I will come with pleasure.

GLORIA } (politely { Thank you very much - er -

DOLLY } murmuring).{ So glad - er -

PHILIP } { Delighted, I'm sure - er -

(The conversation drops. Gloria and Dolly look at one another; then at
Valentine and Philip. Valentine and Philip, unequal to the occasion,
look away from them at one another, and are instantly so disconcerted by
catching one another's eye, that they look back again and catch the eyes
of Gloria and Dolly. Thus, catching one another all round, they all look
at nothing and are quite at a loss. Crampton looks about him, waiting
for them to begin. The silence becomes unbearable.)

DOLLY (suddenly, to keep things going). How old are you, Mr. Crampton?

GLORIA (hastily). I am afraid we must be going, Mr. Valentine. It is
understood, then, that we meet at half past one. (She makes for the
door. Philip goes with her. Valentine retreats to the bell.)

VALENTINE. Half past one. (He rings the bell.) Many thanks. (He follows
Gloria and Philip to the door, and goes out with them.)

DOLLY (who has meanwhile stolen across to Crampton). Make him give you
gas. It's five shillings extra: but it's worth it.

CRAMPTON (amused). Very well. (Looking more earnestly at her.) So you
want to know my age, do you? I'm fifty-seven.

DOLLY (with conviction). You look it.

CRAMPTON (grimly). I dare say I do.

DOLLY. What are you looking at me so hard for? Anything wrong? (She
feels whether her hat is right.)

CRAMPTON. You're like somebody.

DOLLY. Who?

CRAMPTON. Well, you have a curious look of my mother.

DOLLY (incredulously). Your mother!!! Quite sure you don't mean your
daughter?

CRAMPTON (suddenly blackening with hate). Yes: I'm quite sure I don't
mean my daughter.

DOLLY (sympathetically). Tooth bad?

CRAMPTON. No, no: nothing. A twinge of memory, Miss Clandon, not of
toothache.

DOLLY. Have it out. "Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow:" with gas,
five shillings extra.

CRAMPTON (vindictively). No, not a sorrow. An injury that was done me
once: that's all. I don't forget injuries; and I don't want to forget
them. (His features settle into an implacable frown.)

(re-enter Philip: to look for Dolly. He comes down behind her
unobserved.)

DOLLY (looking critically at Crampton's expression). I don't think we
shall like you when you are brooding over your sorrows.

PHILIP (who has entered the room unobserved, and stolen behind her).
My sister means well, Mr. Crampton: but she is indiscreet. Now Dolly,
outside! (He takes her towards the door.)

DOLLY (in a perfectly audible undertone). He says he's only fifty-seven;
and he thinks me the image of his mother; and he hates his daughter;
and - (She is interrupted by the return of Valentine.)

VALENTINE. Miss Clandon has gone on.

PHILIP. Don't forget half past one.

DOLLY. Mind you leave Mr. Crampton with enough teeth to eat with. (They
go out. Valentine comes down to his cabinet, and opens it.)

CRAMPTON. That's a spoiled child, Mr. Valentine. That's one of your
modern products. When I was her age, I had many a good hiding fresh in
my memory to teach me manners.

VALENTINE (taking up his dental mirror and probe from the shelf in front
of the cabinet). What did you think of her sister?

CRAMPTON. You liked her better, eh?

VALENTINE (rhapsodically). She struck me as being - (He checks himself,
and adds, prosaically) However, that's not business. (He places himself
behind Crampton's right shoulder and assumes his professional tone.)
Open, please. (Crampton opens his mouth. Valentine puts the mirror in,
and examines his teeth.) Hm! You have broken that one. What a pity to
spoil such a splendid set of teeth! Why do you crack nuts with them? (He
withdraws the mirror, and comes forward to converse with Crampton.)

CRAMPTON. I've always cracked nuts with them: what else are they for?
(Dogmatically.) The proper way to keep teeth good is to give them plenty
of use on bones and nuts, and wash them every day with soap - plain
yellow soap.

VALENTINE. Soap! Why soap?

CRAMPTON. I began using it as a boy because I was made to; and I've used
it ever since. And I never had toothache in my life.

VALENTINE. Don't you find it rather nasty?

CRAMPTON. I found that most things that were good for me were nasty. But
I was taught to put up with them, and made to put up with them. I'm used
to it now: in fact, I like the taste when the soap is really good.

VALENTINE (making a wry face in spite of himself). You seem to have been
very carefully educated, Mr. Crampton.

CRAMPTON (grimly). I wasn't spoiled, at all events.

VALENTINE (smiling a little to himself). Are you quite sure?

CRAMPTON. What d'y' mean?

VALENTINE. Well, your teeth are good, I admit. But I've seen just as
good in very self-indulgent mouths. (He goes to the ledge of cabinet and
changes the probe for another one.)

CRAMPTON. It's not the effect on the teeth: it's the effect on the
character.

VALENTINE (placably). Oh, the character, I see. (He recommences
operations.) A little wider, please. Hm! That one will have to come out:
it's past saving. (He withdraws the probe and again comes to the side of
the chair to converse.) Don't be alarmed: you shan't feel anything. I'll
give you gas.

CRAMPTON. Rubbish, man: I want none of your gas. Out with it. People
were taught to bear necessary pain in my day.

VALENTINE. Oh, if you like being hurt, all right. I'll hurt you as much
as you like, without any extra charge for the beneficial effect on your
character.

CRAMPTON (rising and glaring at him). Young man: you owe me six weeks'
rent.

VALENTINE. I do.

CRAMPTON. Can you pay me?

VALENTINE. No.

CRAMPTON (satisfied with his advantage). I thought not. How soon d'y'
think you'll be able to pay me if you have no better manners than to
make game of your patients? (He sits down again.)

VALENTINE. My good sir: my patients haven't all formed their characters
on kitchen soap.

CRAMPTON (suddenly gripping him by the arm as he turns away again to the
cabinet). So much the worse for them. I tell you you don't understand my
character. If I could spare all my teeth, I'd make you pull them all
out one after another to shew you what a properly hardened man can go
through with when he's made up his mind to do it. (He nods at him to
enforce the effect of this declaration, and releases him.)

VALENTINE (his careless pleasantry quite unruffled). And you want to be
more hardened, do you?

CRAMPTON. Yes.

VALENTINE (strolling away to the bell). Well, you're quite hard enough
for me already - as a landlord. (Crampton receives this with a growl of
grim humor. Valentine rings the bell, and remarks in a cheerful, casual
way, whilst waiting for it to be answered.) Why did you never get
married, Mr. Crampton? A wife and children would have taken some of the
hardness out of you.

CRAMPTON (with unexpected ferocity). What the devil is that to you? (The
parlor maid appears at the door.)

VALENTINE (politely). Some warm water, please. (She retires: and
Valentine comes back to the cabinet, not at all put out by Crampton's
rudeness, and carries on the conversation whilst he selects a forceps
and places it ready to his hand with a gag and a drinking glass.) You
were asking me what the devil that was to me. Well, I have an idea of
getting married myself.

CRAMPTON (with grumbling irony). Naturally, sir, naturally. When a young
man has come to his last farthing, and is within twenty-four hours of
having his furniture distrained upon by his landlord, he marries. I've
noticed that before. Well, marry; and be miserable.

VALENTINE. Oh, come, what do you know about it?

CRAMPTON. I'm not a bachelor.

VALENTINE. Then there is a Mrs. Crampton?

CRAMPTON (wincing with a pang of resentment). Yes - damn her!

VALENTINE (unperturbed). Hm! A father, too, perhaps, as well as a
husband, Mr. Crampton?


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