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yourself regarded by the young lady's father as a fortune hunter.

VALENTINE. So I am. Do you expect my wife to live on what I earn?
ten-pence a week!

McCOMAS (revolted). I have nothing more to say, sir. I shall return and
tell Mr. Crampton that this family is no place for a father. (He makes
for the door.)

MRS. CLANDON (with quiet authority). Finch! (He halts.) If Mr. Valentine
cannot be serious, you can. Sit down. (McComas, after a brief struggle
between his dignity and his friendship, succumbs, seating himself this
time midway between Dolly and Mrs. Clandon.) You know that all this is
a made up case - that Fergus does not believe in it any more than you do.
Now give me your real advice - your sincere, friendly advice: you know
I have always trusted your judgment. I promise you the children will be
quiet.

McCOMAS (resigning himself). Well, well! What I want to say is this. In
the old arrangement with your husband, Mrs. Clandon, you had him at a
terrible disadvantage.

MRS. CLANDON. How so, pray?

McCOMAS. Well, you were an advanced woman, accustomed to defy public
opinion, and with no regard for what the world might say of you.

MRS. CLANDON (proud of it). Yes: that is true. (Gloria, behind the
chair, stoops and kisses her mother's hair, a demonstration which
disconcerts her extremely.)

McCOMAS. On the other hand, Mrs. Clandon, your husband had a great
horror of anything getting into the papers. There was his business to be
considered, as well as the prejudices of an old-fashioned family.

MRS. CLANDON. Not to mention his own prejudices.

McCOMAS. Now no doubt he behaved badly, Mrs. Clandon -

MRS. CLANDON (scornfully). No doubt.

McCOMAS. But was it altogether his fault?

MRS. CLANDON. Was it mine?

McCOMAS (hastily). No. Of course not.

GLORIA (observing him attentively). You do not mean that, Mr. McComas.

McCOMAS. My dear young lady, you pick me up very sharply. But let me
just put this to you. When a man makes an unsuitable marriage (nobody's
fault, you know, but purely accidental incompatibility of tastes); when
he is deprived by that misfortune of the domestic sympathy which, I take
it, is what a man marries for; when in short, his wife is rather worse
than no wife at all (through no fault of his own, of course), is it to
be wondered at if he makes matters worse at first by blaming her,
and even, in his desperation, by occasionally drinking himself into a
violent condition or seeking sympathy elsewhere?

MRS. CLANDON. I did not blame him: I simply rescued myself and the
children from him.

McCOMAS. Yes: but you made hard terms, Mrs. Clandon. You had him at
your mercy: you brought him to his knees when you threatened to make
the matter public by applying to the Courts for a judicial separation.
Suppose he had had that power over you, and used it to take your
children away from you and bring them up in ignorance of your very
name, how would you feel? what would you do? Well, won't you make some
allowance for his feelings? - in common humanity.

MRS. CLANDON. I never discovered his feelings. I discovered his temper,
and his - (she shivers) the rest of his common humanity.

McCOMAS (wistfully). Women can be very hard, Mrs. Clandon.

VALENTINE. That's true.

GLORIA (angrily). Be silent. (He subsides.)

McCOMAS (rallying all his forces). Let me make one last appeal. Mrs.
Clandon: believe me, there are men who have a good deal of feeling, and
kind feeling, too, which they are not able to express. What you miss
in Crampton is that mere veneer of civilization, the art of shewing
worthless attentions and paying insincere compliments in a kindly,
charming way. If you lived in London, where the whole system is one of
false good-fellowship, and you may know a man for twenty years without
finding out that he hates you like poison, you would soon have your eyes
opened. There we do unkind things in a kind way: we say bitter things in
a sweet voice: we always give our friends chloroform when we tear them
to pieces. But think of the other side of it! Think of the people who
do kind things in an unkind way - people whose touch hurts, whose voices
jar, whose tempers play them false, who wound and worry the people they
love in the very act of trying to conciliate them, and yet who need
affection as much as the rest of us. Crampton has an abominable temper,
I admit. He has no manners, no tact, no grace. He'll never be able
to gain anyone's affection unless they will take his desire for it on
trust. Is he to have none - not even pity - from his own flesh and blood?

DOLLY (quite melted). Oh, how beautiful, Finch! How nice of you!

PHILIP (with conviction). Finch: this is eloquence - positive eloquence.

DOLLY. Oh, mamma, let us give him another chance. Let us have him to
dinner.

MRS. CLANDON (unmoved). No, Dolly: I hardly got any lunch. My dear
Finch: there is not the least use in talking to me about Fergus. You
have never been married to him: I have.

McCOMAS (to Gloria). Miss Clandon: I have hitherto refrained from
appealing to you, because, if what Mr. Crampton told me to be true, you
have been more merciless even than your mother.

GLORIA (defiantly). You appeal from her strength to my weakness!

McCOMAS. Not your weakness, Miss Clandon. I appeal from her intellect to
your heart.

GLORIA. I have learnt to mistrust my heart. (With an angry glance at
Valentine.) I would tear my heart and throw it away if I could. My
answer to you is my mother's answer. (She goes to Mrs. Clandon, and
stands with her arm about her; but Mrs. Clandon, unable to endure this
sort of demonstrativeness, disengages herself as soon as she can without
hurting Gloria's feelings.)

McCOMAS (defeated). Well, I am very sorry - very sorry. I have done my
best. (He rises and prepares to go, deeply dissatisfied.)

MRS. CLANDON. But what did you expect, Finch? What do you want us to do?

McCOMAS. The first step for both you and Crampton is to obtain counsel's
opinion as to whether he is bound by the deed of separation or not. Now
why not obtain this opinion at once, and have a friendly meeting
(her face hardens) - or shall we say a neutral meeting? - to settle the
difficulty - here - in this hotel - to-night? What do you say?

MRS. CLANDON. But where is the counsel's opinion to come from?

McCOMAS. It has dropped down on us out of the clouds. On my way back
here from Crampton's I met a most eminent Q.C., a man whom I briefed in
the case that made his name for him. He has come down here from Saturday
to Monday for the sea air, and to visit a relative of his who lives
here. He has been good enough to say that if I can arrange a meeting
of the parties he will come and help us with his opinion. Now do let us
seize this chance of a quiet friendly family adjustment. Let me bring my
friend here and try to persuade Crampton to come, too. Come: consent.

MRS. CLANDON (rather ominously, after a moment's consideration). Finch:
I don't want counsel's opinion, because I intend to be guided by my own
opinion. I don't want to meet Fergus again, because I don't like him,
and don't believe the meeting will do any good. However (rising), you
have persuaded the children that he is not quite hopeless. Do as you
please.

McCOMAS (taking her hand and shaking it). Thank you, Mrs. Clandon. Will
nine o'clock suit you?

MRS. CLANDON. Perfectly. Phil: will you ring, please. (Phil rings the
bell.) But if I am to be accused of conspiring with Mr. Valentine, I
think he had better be present.

VALENTINE (rising). I quite agree with you. I think it's most important.

McCOMAS. There can be no objection to that, I think. I have the greatest
hopes of a happy settlement. Good-bye for the present. (He goes out,
meeting the waiter; who holds the door for him to pass through.)

MRS. CLANDON. We expect some visitors at nine, William. Can we have
dinner at seven instead of half-past?

WAITER (at the door). Seven, ma'am? Certainly, ma'am. It will be a
convenience to us this busy evening, ma'am. There will be the band and
the arranging of the fairy lights and one thing or another, ma'am.

DOLLY. The fairy lights!

PHILIP. The band! William: what mean you?

WAITER. The fancy ball, miss -

DOLLY and PHILIP (simultaneously rushing to him). Fancy ball!

WAITER. Oh, yes, sir. Given by the regatta committee for the benefit
of the Life-boat, sir. (To Mrs. Clandon.) We often have them, ma'am:
Chinese lanterns in the garden, ma'am: very bright and pleasant, very
gay and innocent indeed. (To Phil.) Tickets downstairs at the office,
sir, five shillings: ladies half price if accompanied by a gentleman.

PHILIP (seizing his arm to drag him off). To the office, William!

DOLLY (breathlessly, seizing his other arm). Quick, before they're all
sold. (They rush him out of the room between them.)

MRS. CLANDON. What on earth are they going to do? (Going out.) I really
must go and stop this - (She follows them, speaking as she disappears.
Gloria stares coolly at Valentine, and then deliberately looks at her
watch.)

VALENTINE. I understand. I've stayed too long. I'm going.

GLORIA (with disdainful punctiliousness). I owe you some apology, Mr.
Valentine. I am conscious of having spoken somewhat sharply - perhaps
rudely - to you.

VALENTINE. Not at all.

GLORIA. My only excuse is that it is very difficult to give
consideration and respect when there is no dignity of character on the
other side to command it.

VALENTINE (prosaically). How is a man to look dignified when he's
infatuated?

GLORIA (effectually unstilted). Don't say those things to me. I forbid
you. They are insults.

VALENTINE. No: they're only follies. I can't help them.

GLORIA. If you were really in love, it would not make you foolish: it
would give you dignity - earnestness - even beauty.

VALENTINE. Do you really think it would make me beautiful? (She turns
her back on him with the coldest contempt.) Ah, you see you're not in
earnest. Love can't give any man new gifts. It can only heighten the
gifts he was born with.

GLORIA (sweeping round at him again). What gifts were you born with,
pray?

VALENTINE. Lightness of heart.

GLORIA. And lightness of head, and lightness of faith, and lightness of
everything that makes a man.

VALENTINE. Yes, the whole world is like a feather dancing in the light
now; and Gloria is the sun. (She rears her head angrily.) I beg your
pardon: I'm off. Back at nine. Good-bye. (He runs off gaily, leaving her
standing in the middle of the room staring after him.)

END OF ACT III




ACT IV


The same room. Nine o'clock. Nobody present. The lamps are lighted; but
the curtains are not drawn. The window stands wide open; and strings of
Chinese lanterns are glowing among the trees outside, with the starry
sky beyond. The band is playing dance-music in the garden, drowning the
sound of the sea.

The waiter enters, shewing in Crampton and McComas. Crampton looks cowed
and anxious. He sits down wearily and timidly on the ottoman.

WAITER. The ladies have gone for a turn through the grounds to see the
fancy dresses, sir. If you will be so good as to take seats, gentlemen,
I shall tell them. (He is about to go into the garden through the window
when McComas stops him.)

McCOMAS. One moment. If another gentleman comes, shew him in without any
delay: we are expecting him.

WAITER. Right, sir. What name, sir?

McCOMAS. Boon. Mr. Boon. He is a stranger to Mrs. Clandon; so he may
give you a card. If so, the name is spelt B.O.H.U.N. You will not
forget.

WAITER (smiling). You may depend on me for that, sir. My own name is
Boon, sir, though I am best known down here as Balmy Walters, sir. By
rights I should spell it with the aitch you, sir; but I think it best
not to take that liberty, sir. There is Norman blood in it, sir; and
Norman blood is not a recommendation to a waiter.

McCOMAS. Well, well: "True hearts are more than coronets, and simple
faith than Norman blood."

WAITER. That depends a good deal on one's station in life, sir. If you
were a waiter, sir, you'd find that simple faith would leave you just
as short as Norman blood. I find it best to spell myself B. double-O.N.,
and to keep my wits pretty sharp about me. But I'm taking up your time,
sir. You'll excuse me, sir: your own fault for being so affable, sir.
I'll tell the ladies you're here, sir. (He goes out into the garden
through the window.)

McCOMAS. Crampton: I can depend on you, can't I?

CRAMPTON. Yes, yes. I'll be quiet. I'll be patient. I'll do my best.

McCOMAS. Remember: I've not given you away. I've told them it was all
their fault.

CRAMPTON. You told me that it was all my fault.

McCOMAS. I told you the truth.

CRAMPTON (plaintively). If they will only be fair to me!

McCOMAS. My dear Crampton, they won't be fair to you: it's not to be
expected from them at their age. If you're going to make impossible
conditions of this kind, we may as well go back home at once.

CRAMPTON. But surely I have a right -

McCOMAS (intolerantly). You won't get your rights. Now, once for all,
Crampton, did your promises of good behavior only mean that you won't
complain if there's nothing to complain of? Because, if so - (He moves
as if to go.)

CRAMPTON (miserably). No, no: let me alone, can't you? I've been bullied
enough: I've been tormented enough. I tell you I'll do my best. But if
that girl begins to talk to me like that and to look at me like - (He
breaks off and buries his head in his hands.)

McCOMAS (relenting). There, there: it'll be all right, if you will only
bear and forbear. Come, pull yourself together: there's someone coming.
(Crampton, too dejected to care much, hardly changes his attitude.
Gloria enters from the garden; McComas goes to meet her at the window;
so that he can speak to her without being heard by Crampton.) There he
is, Miss Clandon. Be kind to him. I'll leave you with him for a moment.
(He goes into the garden. Gloria comes in and strolls coolly down the
middle of the room.)

CRAMPTON (looking round in alarm). Where's McComas?

GLORIA (listlessly, but not unsympathetically). Gone out - to leave us
together. Delicacy on his part, I suppose. (She stops beside him and
looks quaintly down at him.) Well, father?

CRAMPTON (a quaint jocosity breaking through his forlornness). Well,
daughter? (They look at one another for a moment, with a melancholy
sense of humor.)

GLORIA. Shake hands. (They shake hands.)

CRAMPTON (holding her hand). My dear: I'm afraid I spoke very improperly
of your mother this afternoon.

GLORIA. Oh, don't apologize. I was very high and mighty myself; but I've
come down since: oh, yes: I've been brought down. (She sits on the floor
beside his chair.)

CRAMPTON. What has happened to you, my child?

GLORIA. Oh, never mind. I was playing the part of my mother's daughter
then; but I'm not: I'm my father's daughter. (Looking at him funnily.)
That's a come down, isn't it?

CRAMPTON (angry). What! (Her odd expression does not alter. He
surrenders.) Well, yes, my dear: I suppose it is, I suppose it is. (She
nods sympathetically.) I'm afraid I'm sometimes a little irritable; but
I know what's right and reasonable all the time, even when I don't act
on it. Can you believe that?

GLORIA. Believe it! Why, that's myself - myself all over. I know what's
right and dignified and strong and noble, just as well as she does; but
oh, the things I do! the things I do! the things I let other people do!!

CRAMPTON (a little grudgingly in spite of himself). As well as she does?
You mean your mother?

GLORIA (quickly). Yes, mother. (She turns to him on her knees and seizes
his hands.) Now listen. No treason to her: no word, no thought against
her. She is our superior - yours and mine - high heavens above us. Is that
agreed?

CRAMPTON. Yes, yes. Just as you please, my dear.

GLORIA (not satisfied, letting go his hands and drawing back from him).
You don't like her?

CRAMPTON. My child: you haven't been married to her. I have. (She raises
herself slowly to her feet, looking at him with growing coldness.) She
did me a great wrong in marrying me without really caring for me. But
after that, the wrong was all on my side, I dare say. (He offers her his
hand again.)

GLORIA (taking it firmly and warningly). Take care. That's a dangerous
subject. My feelings - my miserable, cowardly, womanly feelings - may be
on your side; but my conscience is on hers.

CRAMPTON. I'm very well content with that division, my dear. Thank you.
(Valentine arrives. Gloria immediately becomes deliberately haughty.)

VALENTINE. Excuse me; but it's impossible to find a servant to announce
one: even the never failing William seems to be at the ball. I should
have gone myself; only I haven't five shillings to buy a ticket. How are
you getting on, Crampton? Better, eh?

CRAMPTON. I am myself again, Mr. Valentine, no thanks to you.

VALENTINE. Look at this ungrateful parent of yours, Miss Clandon! I
saved him from an excruciating pang; and he reviles me!

GLORIA (coldly). I am sorry my mother is not here to receive you, Mr.
Valentine. It is not quite nine o'clock; and the gentleman of whom Mr.
McComas spoke, the lawyer, is not yet come.

VALENTINE. Oh, yes, he is. I've met him and talked to him. (With gay
malice.) You'll like him, Miss Clandon: he's the very incarnation of
intellect. You can hear his mind working.

GLORIA (ignoring the jibe). Where is he?

VALENTINE. Bought a false nose and gone into the fancy ball.

CRAMPTON (crustily, looking at his watch). It seems that everybody has
gone to this fancy ball instead of keeping to our appointment here.

VALENTINE. Oh, he'll come all right enough: that was half an hour ago.
I didn't like to borrow five shillings from him and go in with him; so
I joined the mob and looked through the railings until Miss Clandon
disappeared into the hotel through the window.

GLORIA. So it has come to this, that you follow me about in public to
stare at me.

VALENTINE. Yes: somebody ought to chain me up.

Gloria turns her back on him and goes to the fireplace. He takes the
snub very philosophically, and goes to the opposite side of the room.
The waiter appears at the window, ushering in Mrs. Clandon and McComas.

MRS. CLANDON (hurrying in). I am so sorry to have kept you waiting.

A grotesquely majestic stranger, in a domino and false nose, with
goggles, appears at the window.

WAITER (to the stranger). Beg pardon, sir; but this is a private
apartment, sir. If you will allow me, sir, I will shew you to the
American bar and supper rooms, sir. This way, sir.

He goes into the gardens, leading the way under the impression that the
stranger is following him. The majestic one, however, comes straight
into the room to the end of the table, where, with impressive
deliberation, he takes off the false nose and then the domino, rolling
up the nose into the domino and throwing the bundle on the table like a
champion throwing down his glove. He is now seen to be a stout, tall
man between forty and fifty, clean shaven, with a midnight oil pallor
emphasized by stiff black hair, cropped short and oiled, and eyebrows
like early Victorian horsehair upholstery. Physically and spiritually,
a coarsened man: in cunning and logic, a ruthlessly sharpened one. His
bearing as he enters is sufficiently imposing and disquieting; but
when he speaks, his powerful, menacing voice, impressively articulated
speech, strong inexorable manner, and a terrifying power of intensely
critical listening raise the impression produced by him to absolute
tremendousness.

THE STRANGER. My name is Bohun. (General awe.) Have I the honor of
addressing Mrs. Clandon? (Mrs. Clandon bows. Bohun bows.) Miss Clandon?
(Gloria bows. Bohun bows.) Mr. Clandon?

CRAMPTON (insisting on his rightful name as angrily as he dares). My
name is Crampton, sir.

BOHUN. Oh, indeed. (Passing him over without further notice and turning
to Valentine.) Are you Mr. Clandon?

VALENTINE (making it a point of honor not to be impressed by him). Do I
look like it? My name is Valentine. I did the drugging.

BOHUN. Ah, quite so. Then Mr. Clandon has not yet arrived?

WAITER (entering anxiously through the window). Beg pardon, ma'am; but
can you tell me what became of that - (He recognizes Bohun, and loses
all his self-possession. Bohun waits rigidly for him to pull himself
together. After a pathetic exhibition of confusion, he recovers himself
sufficiently to address Bohun weakly but coherently.) Beg pardon, sir,
I'm sure, sir. Was - was it you, sir?

BOHUN (ruthlessly). It was I.

WAITER (brokenly). Yes, sir. (Unable to restrain his tears.) You in a
false nose, Walter! (He sinks faintly into a chair at the table.) I beg
pardon, ma'am, I'm sure. A little giddiness -

BOHUN (commandingly). You will excuse him, Mrs. Clandon, when I inform
you that he is my father.

WAITER (heartbroken). Oh, no, no, Walter. A waiter for your father on
the top of a false nose! What will they think of you?

MRS. CLANDON (going to the waiter's chair in her kindest manner). I
am delighted to hear it, Mr. Bohun. Your father has been an excellent
friend to us since we came here. (Bohun bows gravely.)

WAITER (shaking his head). Oh, no, ma'am. It's very kind of you -
very ladylike and affable indeed, ma'am; but I should feel at a
great disadvantage off my own proper footing. Never mind my being the
gentleman's father, ma'am: it is only the accident of birth after all,
ma'am. (He gets up feebly.) You'll all excuse me, I'm sure, having
interrupted your business. (He begins to make his way along the table,
supporting himself from chair to chair, with his eye on the door.)

BOHUN. One moment. (The waiter stops, with a sinking heart.) My father
was a witness of what passed to-day, was he not, Mrs. Clandon?

MRS. CLANDON. Yes, most of it, I think.

BOHUN. In that case we shall want him.

WAITER (pleading). I hope it may not be necessary, sir. Busy evening for
me, sir, with that ball: very busy evening indeed, sir.

BOHUN (inexorably). We shall want you.

MRS. CLANDON (politely). Sit down, won't you?

WAITER (earnestly). Oh, if you please, ma'am, I really must draw the
line at sitting down. I couldn't let myself be seen doing such a thing,
ma'am: thank you, I am sure, all the same. (He looks round from face to
face wretchedly, with an expression that would melt a heart of stone.)

GLORIA. Don't let us waste time. William only wants to go on taking care
of us. I should like a cup of coffee.

WAITER (brightening perceptibly). Coffee, miss? (He gives a little gasp
of hope.) Certainly, miss. Thank you, miss: very timely, miss, very
thoughtful and considerate indeed. (To Mrs. Clandon, timidly but
expectantly.) Anything for you, ma'am?

MRS. CLANDON Er - oh, yes: it's so hot, I think we might have a jug of
claret cup.

WAITER (beaming). Claret cup, ma'am! Certainly, ma'am.

GLORIA Oh, well I'll have a claret cup instead of coffee. Put some
cucumber in it.

WAITER (delighted). Cucumber, miss! yes, miss. (To Bohun.) Anything
special for you, sir? You don't like cucumber, sir.

BOHUN. If Mrs. Clandon will allow me - syphon - Scotch.

WAITER. Right, sir. (To Crampton.) Irish for you, sir, I think,
sir? (Crampton assents with a grunt. The waiter looks enquiringly at
Valentine.)

VALENTINE. I like the cucumber.

WAITER. Right, sir. (Summing up.) Claret cup, syphon, one Scotch and one
Irish?

MRS. CLANDON. I think that's right.

WAITER (perfectly happy). Right, ma'am. Directly, ma'am. Thank you. (He
ambles off through the window, having sounded the whole gamut of human
happiness, from the bottom to the top, in a little over two minutes.)

McCOMAS. We can begin now, I suppose?

BOHUN. We had better wait until Mrs. Clandon's husband arrives.

CRAMPTON. What d'y' mean? I'm her husband.

BOHUN (instantly pouncing on the inconsistency between this and his
previous statement). You said just now your name was Crampton.

CRAMPTON. So it is.

MRS. CLANDON } (all four { I -

GLORIA } speaking { My -

McCOMAS } simul- { Mrs. -

VALENTINE } taneously). { You -

BOHUN (drowning them in two thunderous words). One moment. (Dead
silence.) Pray allow me. Sit down everybody. (They obey humbly. Gloria
takes the saddle-bag chair on the hearth. Valentine slips around to her
side of the room and sits on the ottoman facing the window, so that
he can look at her. Crampton sits on the ottoman with his back to
Valentine's. Mrs. Clandon, who has all along kept at the opposite side
of the room in order to avoid Crampton as much as possible, sits near
the door, with McComas beside her on her left. Bohun places himself


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