Henry Arthur Jones.

The physician : an original play in four acts online

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LADY V. Evidently not. Or I'm sure you wouldn't
have been so ungallant as to choose the very moment
of my arrival for making love to another woman.

DR. C. You are mistaken. I was not making
love to Miss Hinde.

LADY V. Oh, my dear Lewin, I heard you as I
came along; no woman who has been really loved
ever mistakes that accent. You forget that you have
piped that same tune to me.

DR. C. No, not that tune.

LADY V. Yes, that same tune. It's always the
same, like a bullfinch's ditty. There are only three
notes in it but oh, what music !

DR. C. Miss Hinde is engaged to Mr. Walter
Amphiel, and is devotedly attached to him.

LADY V. Is she ? Then why pipe to her if she
won't dance ? Why waste your music on her when I


should be rather glad to hear a note or two of the
old tune ?

DR. C. What has brought you to Fontleas ?

LADY V. I've been bored. I've had a horrible
whiff of middle-age the last few weeks.

DR. C. You ! Impossible !

LADY V. I smell autumn I scent it from afar.
I ask myself how many years shall I have a man for
my willing, devoted slave? How many more years
shall I be able by putting on my winningest airs and
graces to extract some sort of homage from him ?
How many more years shall I have to mope, and
wither, and remember, and attend church regularly?
Oh, my God ! Lewin, it never can be worth while for
a woman to live one moment after she has ceased to
be loved. (He laughs a little, bitter, amused laugh ;
she breaks out rather fiercely.) And you men have the
laugh of us ! Age doesn't wither you or stale your
insolent, victorious, self-satisfied, smirking, common-
place durability ! Oh, you brutes, I hate you all,
because you're warranted to wash and wear for fifty
years ! (He laughs again.) Don't laugh at me ! I'm
nearly mad ! Lewin, I've got another good ten years
before me to be loved in, haven't I ? At least five.
Tell me the truth no, don't give me what love you
have to give while I'm attractive and worth it, and
then the moment I'm off colour wht a flash of
lightning or an opium pill and have done with me !

DR. C. And only three months ago you refused


the best love I had to offer. Why did you do it?
You had met somebody else ?

LADY V. Don't ask me ! I was soon undeceived.
My dear Lewin, you don't know what a charming man
you are. But I do, now.

DR. C Now !

LADY V. And you're in love with that yard and
three-quarters of white muslin. It won't last, you

DR. C. I'm not in love with her. (LADY VALERIE
shakes her head.) At least, I may not be. I came here
jaded, disappointed, heartsick, heart-broken. I met
her a pure, bright girl, fresh from God's hands

LADY V. Fresh from where ?

DR. C. Oh, some of you do come from there, you
know !

LADY V. Hum ! I shouldn't have thought it !
But you're a physician and you ought to know.
My dear Lewin, you don't really believe that stale
old legend.

DR. C. What stale old legend ?

LADY V. The legend of Saint Edana: that a
woman can reform a man, change his character,
spiritualise him, etherealise him, pure-white-muslinise

DR. C. I've known an instance of it.

LADY V. Your own. But the process isn't com-
plete. You've only known her three months, and she
has always worn white muslin. You've known me six


years and I have never worn white muslin, or its
accompanying inward and spiritual graces.

DR. C. They wouldn't suit you.

LADY V. Not now perhaps. But I had a white
muslin period, when I came bright and pure and fresh
from (with an upward nod) you know where at least
the boy who loved me thought I did. That was when
I was seventeen.

DR. C. I can't see you in the character.

LADY V. Yet I have played it. Really, Lewin,
in your profession you ought to have some knowledge
of us and our trade secrets. Don't you know what
women are ?

DR. C. No. I've become a very simple greenhorn
down here. Tell me, are you all alike ?

LADY V. At heart, yes. We all go through the
seven ages of women and play our trumpery little
parts all of them as artificial and tiresome as the
French stage ingenue. In a few years Miss Hinde
will be playing this role.

DR. C. She'll never be like you.

LADY V. No, but she'll be playing this part, and
playing it oh, not nearly so well as I do.

DR. C. She'll never be like you. You women
don't even know your own sex.

LADY V. No ? Perhaps not. But we get an
occasional glimmer, whereas you men are quite in the
dark. Oh, why won't you be content to know us and
take us for what we are ?


DR. C. What are you ?

LADY V. Terrestrial-celestial amphibians. Come !
You're to come back to Buxenham and dine with me.

DR. C. I'm sorry. I'm going to supper at the

LADY V. To-morrow, then ?

DR. C. I fear not. I'm living in the quietest

LADY V. I know. I've been down the lane to
see that queer old place where you live the Abbot's
Kitchen, don't you call it ? Aren't you horribly dull ?

DR. C. I've been in worse company than my own.

LADY V. Lewin, I'm sorry, terribly sorry that I
threw you over. I want to hear a note or two of the
old tune.

DR. C. It's too late. (Looking of.)

LADY V. I can't bear to lose you. Sir Francis
Dumby's house is to let in Harley Street. Come
back to London and let all be as it was, except that
I shall have learned to value you.

DR. C. It's too late. (Looking off.)

LADY V. You can see some white muslin amongst
the trees.

DR. C. Hush ! Her father.


REV. P. Ah, Doctor !

DR. C. (presenting). Mr. Hinde Lady Valerie


LADY V. (bows). I must be getting back to
Buxenham to dinner. Good-bye, Mr. Hinde. I
should like to come and see over your church
some day.

REV. P. Delighted, Lady Valerie. We prefer
people who come to worship and to pray or even to
contribute to the offertory. Still we don't mind show-
ing it to satisfy a reasonable curiosity. I'll show you
over myself. Come any day.

LADY V. I will. I'm making a long stay in

DR. C. A long stay ?

LADY V. Yes. My hearing is growing a little
defective. I mean to stay at Buxenham to recover
one or two lost notes, and you shall treat me. My
carriage is at the inn come and see me to it. Do
you hear ? Come and see me to my carriage !

(They go off at wicket gate R., REV. PERE-
GRINE follows them up, humming, and
looks after them?)

of country sweethearts. JAMES has his arm very
tightly clasped round LOUISA'S waist with a defiant
air of proprietorship.

JAMES. Evenin', pa'son.

REV. P. Good evening, James. You seem very


JAMES (beaming, giggling. Tightly clasping her
round the waist LOUISA curtseys). Me and Louisa
have made up our minds to bring it off. That is as
soon as we can save up a fi' pound note to give us a
bit of a start.

REV. P. I'm glad to hear it, James.

LOUISA. Jim has been off and on for the last
eighteen months, and I thought it was time for him
to toe the mark.

JAMES. Well, Loo, I have toed the mark, like a
man. Only in my judgment nobody ought to get
married under a f? pound note. In case of accidents,
eh, pa'son ?

REV. P. I commend your prudence, James.
And, James, don't you think it would look prettier if
you were to give your arm to Louisa ?

JAMES (blankly}. What for? I be going to be
married to her, and if I bain't to put my arm round
her waist, what be I to do ?

REV. P. I wouldn't, James in public.

JAMES (takes his arm away very reluctantly). I
don't see as there's anything unreasonable about it.
And it's allays been the way of courting in this parish.

REV. P. It is the way of courting in a great many
parishes, still it is not a choice way of courting in any
parish. Now, allow me. (Disengaging LOUISA from
JAMES.) Observe, James, this is how you were

(Putting his arm round LOUISA as JAMES had done.}


LOUISA (giggling). Don't 'ee, pa'son.
REV. P. It is not an elegant attitude, James.
LOUISA. Don't 'ee, pa'son. (Giggling?)

REV. P. It is only an object lesson, Louisa. Now,
James, when I go courting again I'm sixty-seven
(sighs) this is the way I shall walk with my lady-love.
Take my arm, Louisa.
LOUISA. Oh, pa'son.

(REV. PEREGRINE HINDE walks her up and
down a few paces, then hands her over to
JAMES, who has stood a little nonplussed
and embarrassed.}

REV. P. There, James ! Take her. Cherish her.
Let her be as the loving hind and the pleasant roe,
but don't fondle her indiscriminately in public.

JAMES (giving LOUISA his ami). All same, pa'son,
this way of courting 'ull never drive out the other way.

(Taking LOUISA off at gate L.)
REV. P. It needn't, James in private.

(Exeunt JAMES and LOUISA at gate L.)

Enter, R., JOHN DIBLEY and MARTHA DIBLEY, a very
aged, infirm old couple, supporting each other.

REV. P. Well, John, and how are you to-night>

DIBLEY. Oh, I be 'nation wellnigh blind, thank
God; and I ain't very clever in my insides, thank
God ; and I 'spect I be about doubled up and done


for, thank God ; but otherways there ain't much the
matter with me, thank God !

REV. P. (to MRS. DIBLEY). I'm glad to see you
at church again, Martha.

MARTHA. Yes, pa'son. I feel somehow as I can't
keep away from the old place.

REV. P. That's right, Martha. It does you good ?

MARTHA. Oh no, pa'son ! We don't come to
church for the good as we can get out of it.

REV. P. Then why do you come to church,
Martha ?

MARTHA. You see, pa'son, when we've sot our-
selves down comfortable for the sermon and you
begin a-holding forth, I feel my old man's hand a-
creeping towards mine, and mine a-creeping towards
hisen, and I know he's a-thinking of our two boys as
lay just outside the church a few foot off, eh, John ?

JOHN. Aye, aye !

MARTHA. And we sit there and we fancy as they're
back again with us, and we're all one family again.

^ REV. P. It's no fancy, Martha. We shall all be
members of that family before long. And a very
large family it will be.

JOHN. Aye, aforelong, thank God ! Come along,
old woman ! (As they creep off towards the wicket
gate L.) Come along.

(Exeunt JOHN and MARTHA DIBLEY at wicket
gate L.)



Enter ED AN A, R., with MAR AH, a child about five.

MARAH. But where's my mammy ? And where's
my father?

EDANA. You have one Father in Heaven

MARAH. I've never seen Him ! Why doesn't He

come down here sometimes? I mean a real live

father like other little girls have. There's your father.

(Pointing to REV. PEREGRINE HINDE.) Where's mine?

(DR. CAREY enters wicket gate R.)

EDANA. I'll lend you my father sometimes. He's
a very nice father, indeed. You couldn't have a

MARAH. But where's my mammy? I think I
should like you for a mammy

EDANA. Hush, dear. (Kisses her^ hides her face,
looks up.) What are you thinking of, Dr. Carey ?

DR. C. The old mystery. The how and the why
of love. The how and the why of life. (She kisses
the child again and hides her head behind her.") It's
very wonderful. And the more the microscope tells
us about the how, the less we know about the why.
What's your name, my pretty one? (To EDANA.)
Who is she?

EDANA. Her name is Marah.


Enter, R., STEPHEN GURDON, a man about sixty, a
stern broken man, with strong features, and a settled
hopeless look upon them.

EDANA. Here is her grandfather !

(STEPHEN GURDON sits on seat R., nodding to

REV. P. Well, Stephen?

STEPHEN (curtly). Pa'son.

(Sits, looks steadily in front of him.)

DR. C. (in a low tone to REV. PEREGRINE). What's
the story?

REV. P. He had an only daughter she was
betrayed, poor child ran away from home and came
back with that little one. We tried to keep her here,
and bring her back to the fold, but she ran away again
and went utterly astray sank and disappeared. God
have mercy on her and save her yet ! The mother
broke her heart and died. He broke his heart, but
he lives on, poor man !

STEPHEN (seeing they are whispering). Telling
over my old tale again, pa'son? You ain't got no
call to do that.

REV. P. But we can't help feeling sympathy with you.

STEPHEN. Can't you? Well, try and help it,
pa'son. I don't want your sympathy.

REV. P. Very well, Stephen ; we'll keep it till you
do. Won't you soften your heart and come with us
to-night, Stephen? .


STEPHEN. No, I don't believe the stuff, and I
won't say that I do. I'd as lief be left alone, pa'son.
REV. P. Very well, Stephen. But remember we
keep open house here. (Exit into church?)

Carey, aren't you coming to church ?

DR. C. I promised to go and dress that poor
fellow's leg. And I forgot all about him listening to

EDANA. You'll come back ?

DR. C. Yes. And if I don't come inside, look
for me at the lepers' window.

(Pointing to the lepers' window.}
EDANA. No, you are healed now.
DR. C. Am I ? You are my physician.

(Exit wicket gate R. EDANA goes into


STEPHEN. Come here, Marah. Keep beside

MARAH (goes to him). Grandpa, what makes you
so angry always ? Can't you laugh ?

STEPHEN. Oh yes, my chick. (With a bitter,
contemptuous laugh} I can laugh. (Laughs again}
I can laugh !

(The child looks at him frightened. AMPHIEL
appears at the wicket gate R. ; enters
without seeing them, then catching sight
of them is about to retreat, but MARAH
sees him}


MARAH. Look, grandpa ! Mr. Amphiel.

(AMPHIEL comes up to them. He looks some-
what dissipated and haggard. His
manner is furtive and constrained^)

AMPHIEL. Stephen

STEPHEN (looks up and curtly nods). Mr. Amphiel,
you're back home

AMPHIEL. Yes, rather unexpectedly.

STEPHEN. You haven't happened to meet with
Jessie in any of your travels, I suppose ?

AMPHIEL. No. I promised you I'd keep a good
look-out for her in all the towns where I go, and so I
will. But I've not been in England lately I've been
to India.


AMPHIEL. But I shall be visiting a few of the
large towns on temperance work shortly, and I will
have some inquiries made. You may be sure I will
do everything I can to find her for you.

STEPHEN. You remember Jessie as a girl, don't

AMPHIEL. Oh, very well very well indeed.

STEPHEN. She was a handsome, strapping girl,
wasn't she? (Turning to MARAH.) Do you see the
likeness ?

AMPHIEL. Hush ! hush ! (To MARAH.) Marah,
run away for a moment. I want to talk to your
grandfather. (The child goes over, R.) I wish I could
find your daughter. But I fear it's not likely.


STEPHEN. No, and if you did, what would she be
like now ? After six years of that ! What's she doing
to-night ? Look ! (pointing to the sunset] it's a
beautiful evening, ain't it? And this is a hell of a
world, ain't it ?

AMPHIEL. Oh, don't speak like that. Mr. Gurdon,
tell me, is there anything I can do to help you, to
comfort you ?

STEPHEN. Yes, bring me word that she's dead, so
that I may know my own flesh and blood ain't hawking
itself about from gin-shop to gin-shop this beautiful
evening. (Going off wicket gate L.) Come along,
Marah. I wonder what she's like to-night ! I wonder
what she's like to-night ! (Rxit wicket gate L. )

(MARAH is crossing to follow him ; AMPHIEL,
who has stood horrified, intercepts her as
she passes him.)

AMPHIEL. Marah, kiss me, my dear. (Kisses her
hungrily.} Marah, when you grow up you won't
you won't kiss me, dear ; promise me you'll grow up
to be a good girl ?

STEPHEN (voice heard off). Come, Marah !

MARAH. Hark ! Grandpa !

AMPHIEL. But promise me

MARAH. Yes, of course. I shall always be good.
I promise you ; there ! (Kisses him.)

AMPHIEL. My dear, my dear !

(Stroking her hair affectionately. She breaks
away from him, runs off after STEPHEN.


AMPHIEL follows her a few steps. From
this time stage gradually grows darker.
Singing in the church. AMPHIEL goes
to the lepers' window, looks in, shows
great emotion, stretches out his hands
with a vain, longing gesture. As the
music swells he tumbles against the church
wall, sobbing violently.}

(After a pause EDANA re-enters from the
church behind him. She stands a moment
or two watching him, then comes up to
him, touches his shoulder}

EDANA. Walter ! (He turns round} Walter ! I
saw you through the window. You've come back?
(He turns round startled, rises, looks dazed, bewildered}
Walter ! What is it, dear ? What ails you ?

AMPHIEL. I don't know the thought of the crowd
in church I'm always moved by the sight of a crowd.
Don't take any notice of me. I'm better.

EDANA. I'm so glad you've come back! I've
been so anxious about you. Where have you been ?
When did you land ?

AMPHIEL. I've been in England some days. I
didn't tell you because I wanted so much to start the
new refuge at Plymouth. I felt it was my duty. I
only finished very late last night too late to telegraph
you. So I came on at once.

EDANA. I might have known you had been at


some good work. But IVe been so anxious ! You
should have written to me ! Never mind ! You're
here ! You're here ! I can't tell you how glad I am !
(Crying a little with joy.) Now it's I who am foolish!
I'm so pleased to see you ! Let me look at you !
(He turns away from her.) No, let me look at you.
I want to see if you are better.

AMPHIEL. I'm well enough. The voyage has done
me a world of good. (Avoiding her scrutiny.)

EDANA (very anxiously). Are you sure ? Oh, my
dearest, you look ill you look very ill.

AMPHIEL. No, no. Only a little tired. That's

EDANA. Dr. Carey shall see you in the morning.

AMPHIEL. Dr. Carey? Is he still here? Why
hasn't he gone back ?

EDANA. He has given up his practice and is living
here. I've talked to him so much about you. He
has promised to take you thoroughly in hand and
look after you till you're quite well.

AMPHIEL. I tell you there's nothing the matter
with me. I'm quite well ! I won't see him !

EDANA. Yes, yes, dearest to please me. Say it's
only my whim, but do, do see him. Oh, my dearest,
you don't know how I care for you. My heart is like
stone when I think of you.

AMPHIEL. I'm not worth it. Don't trouble about
me. I'm not worth it.

EDANA. Oh yes, indeed you are, and I must have


you well. Oh, I've so much to tell you. But tell me
about yourself first.

AMPHIEL. Edana, since I've been in India I've
formed a great plan.

EDANA. Yes, dear, tell me.

AMPHIEL. It depends on you whether I carry it
out or not.

EDANA. If it depends on me you know it is done
if it is anything within my power.

AMPHIEL. Dare you give up everything for the
cause, and for me ?

EDANA. Try me and see.

AMPHIEL. You know, dear, that at times I have
a dreadful nausea of life and feel obliged to hide
away from my fellow-creatures for a while, and then
nothing brings me round but a plunge into my work.

EDANA. Ah, dear, you work too hard.

AMPHIEL. No, no, it's my work that keeps me
alive. Edana, I feel that if I were to leave England

EDANA. For life ?

AMPHIEL. For some years. There's a tremendous
field for temperance work in India. There, the fiend
is opium. Here, it's alcohol. But the craving, the
disease, is the same.

EDANA. And you would go to India to live?

AMPHIEL. Dare I ask it of you ?

EDANA. My father !

AMPHIEL. Ah ! I knew it was too much to ask.


EDANA. No, no ! I'll do it if it is the best for
you. I gave myself to you and I won't draw back.
Yes, Walter, when you ask me I shall be ready.
AMPHIEL. Oh, I'm not worthy of you !
EDANA. Not worthy of me? Oh, you are far
better and braver than I am. I love you for your
devotion to your work ! There's not another man in
the world like you.

(DR. CAREY has entered wicket gate R., and has
come upon them to overhear the last words,
and to see her looking up to AMPHIEL
with the greatest devotion. He sees
AMPHIEL a momentary glance of recog-
nition between the two men. AMPHIEL
shows fright and mutely appeals to DR.
CAREY. DR. CAREY shows great moment-
ary surprise with horror, which he
quickly conceals.}

DR. C. I beg pardon (Is going.)

EDANA. No, Dr. Carey, don't go. I want to
introduce you. Mr. Amphiel Dr. Carey.

(AMPHIEL again makes mute appeal to DR.

AMPHIEL. How d'ye do, Dr. Carey ?

(Offers hand, which CAREY takes after slight


DR. C. How d'ye do ?

EDANA (to DR. CAREY). There is your patient.
He has come at last. (To AMPHIEL.) You are to


put yourself entirely in his hands and do exactly as
he tells you, and (very excitedly) you will, you will for
my sake?

(AMPHIEL looks at DR. CAREY with mingled

apprehension and appeal.}

DR. C. (significantly looking at AMPHIEL). I'm
sure Mr. Amphiel will trust himself to me, and I shall
give him every care and attention.

ED ANA (to AMPHIEL). There ! Now I'm satisfied !
I feel you are well already.

(MARAH runs in at wicket gate L., and comes

up to ED AN A.)

EDANA. I feel so happy ! I haven't got over the
thought that you are here ! Ah, Marah !

(Seizes the child^ kisses her. AMPHIEL makes
a movement to stop her, which EDANA
does not notice ; it z>, however , seen by
DR. CAREY, who for the moment does
not understand it ; turns round to notice
STEPHEN, who enters wicket gate L.
DR. CAREY'S face shows a sudden illum-
ination of horror ; he turns to AMPHIEL,
who appeals to him. DR. CAREY stands

EDANA (hugging MARAH). Oh, I'm so happy,
Marah, so happy ! You must come with me and I
must give you something to make you happy. (To
AMPHIEL.) You're to tell him everything and then
come on to the Vicarage to me. I've so much to talk


about! Come, Marah. (To STEPHEN.) I'm going
to take her with me, Mr. Gurdon. Come and fetch
her by and by. (Jb AMPHIEL.) Don't be long! I'm
waiting for you ! Don't be long !

(Exit, R., fondling MARAH. STEPHEN fvttows.
DR. CAREY, as soon as EDANA and
MARAH have gone off> allows himself
the full expression of his horror to
AMPHIEL, /0/7Z& to STEPHEN'S retreating
figure. AMPHIEL stands abject, appeal-
ing. Exit STEPHEN, R.)

AMPHIEL (in a whisper). You won't betray me ?
DR. C. My God ! My God ! You ! You to be
her husband ?

AMPHIEL. You won't betray me? (Agonized.')
You won't betray me ?

DR. C. Betray you ? No ! But you'll break off
this engagement.

AMPHIEL. I can't ! I can't ! I love her so much.
And she loves me. It would break her heart. I can't
give her up ! I'll make myself worthy of her. It's
not too late ! I can do anything for her sake. I can
conquer myself and I will ! Help me ! You're a
physician. She said you could cure me. Will you ?
Will you ? I throw myself on your mercy ! Save me !
DR. G. (hesitates for a few moments. He looks very
searchingly at AMPHIEL, seizes AMPHIEL'S hands, makes
AMPHIEL look at him. Hymn in church). Will you
put yourself in my hands from this moment ? Will


you give yourself over to me, do as I bid you, be
guided by me in everything, till I have done my best
to heal you, made a new man of you, so far as that is
possible ? Will you do it ?

AMPHIEL. Yes, yes anything. And you'll save
me from myself?

DR. C. Trust to me ! Whatever human skill
and patience can do, I'll do for you, and I'll never
leave you while there's a hope that I can drag you
out of this mire and make you fit to hold up your
head before all men, and before her ! Trust to me,
my poor lad, trust to me !

(Six months pass between Acts II. and III.)




P; 5 u
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n 1 '^ \*s






T* ^

















03 o

.h rt



On the R. down stage a large old-fashioned fireplace with
ornaments and photographs, one of them a photograph
of AMPHIEL and ED ANA taken together. Above the
fireplace a large old-fashioned armchair, very deep ; a
small table on castors is laid with the remains of
dinner for two. Chairs above and to L. of table.
The whole of this R. side of the room is curtained in
and forms a cosy nook the curtains of heavy dark
material run from an angle in the wall up stage to

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Online LibraryHenry Arthur JonesThe physician : an original play in four acts → online text (page 3 of 6)