Henry Arthur Jones.

The physician : an original play in four acts online

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DR. C. No, perhaps not.

LADY V. And you might come back to me. It's
not too late ? it's not too late ? you might change ?

( Very imploringly?)

DR. C. I shall never change. (Very firmly.} I
shall never change.

(She stands very hopeless for some seconds, then
makes a shrug of resignation. Her
manner changes^ and is careless and off-
hand till the end of the scene}

LADY V. Very well. Put on your hat and coat
and see me across to the inn. Put on your hat and
coat. (He takes his hat and coat} I want your advice.

DR. C. Advice ? About what ?

LADY V. Marriage. I can have Bertie Fewins or
Sir George Doudney. Which shall it be ?

DR. C. Neither.

LADY V. Oh, it must be one or the other. And
it must be settled at once ; so I shall get back by the
mail to-night. (Going towards outer door} Come.

DR. C. This will be our nearest way to the George.
It will save us the lane. Take my arm through the
passage. (Indicating inner door}

LADY V. (taking his arm}. Which shall it be?
Bertie or Sir George ?

DR. C. Neither! Neither! Why should it be
either ?


LADY V. My dear Lewin, what shall I be in five
years' time if I don't marry somebody ? What shall I
do ? I'm neither a saint nor a fool, so I can't stand
perpetual church-going. No ! It must be marriage.
Bertie or Sir George ?

DR. C. That won't be marriage, that will be
desecration of a woman's soul !

LADY V. (shakes her head, makes a face as if taking
physic). It's a devil of a world for women, Lewin.
For God's sake don't moralise about it.

(Exeunt at inner door. A very long pause.
A knock at outer door. The knock is
puts in his head at outer door and looks
round. )

REV. P. (calling out). Dr. Carey ! Mrs. Bowden !
Dr. Carey! (Coming in.) I came to Taffy's house.
Taffy wasn't at home. (Speaking off.) There's nobody

Re-enter EDANA at outer door.

EDANA. Won't Dr. Carey think it strange of me
coming again ?

REV. P. No, no. I've got a waggon -load of
excuses. He can't have gone far. We'll wait till he
comes back. (They go towards fire.) There ! Sit
down ! (She sits in armchair.']

EDANA. I'm sure he has had some news, and I'm


sure it's bad news. Oh, I must know do you think
he'll tell us the truth ?

REV. P. If he doesn't tell us, I must gently
wheedle it out of him. Have you ever studied the
composition of my character, Edana ?


REV. P. No ? Then you've never observed how
exquisitely Providence has blended in me the beautiful
transparent innocence of the dove with the subtle and
useful wisdom of the serpent. We'll begin by asking
him for some little sleeping draught

EDANA. Oh, I cannot endure another night !

REV. P. Indeed you can. The human spirit can
endure unendurable things. There is nothing the
human spirit cannot endure. Come, come ! ( Chafing
her hands.) How cold these poor little paws are !
Put your head on the cushion ! There ! (Arranging
her comfortably in armchair.} Rest a little till Dr.
Carey comes. Now what shall I do to while away the
time ? Shall I preach you a little sermon ? Or shall
I tell you a little tale? Or shall I sing you a little
song ? Or shall I do all three ?

EDANA. All three. You don't think Walter is ill
or dead ? Oh, what shall I do ?

REV. P. Hush! Hush! Hush! (Soothes her
down} The times are not in our hands. (From this
time she shows signs of drowsiness, until the middle of
the song, when she is fast asleep} Now, first the little
sermon. You should never put all your eggs in one


basket, unless that basket is made of celestial wicker-
work and is safely stored away in heaven. That's the
sermon. Its metaphors are a little mixed, but its
brevity is undeniable. Now for the little tale. There
was once a wilful, headstrong, reckless, loose -living
young man whose name was whose name was ?

ED AN A (a little drowsily"). Peregrine Hinde.

REV. P. Peregrine Hinde. And he loved with
all his heart a beautiful heartless woman, whose name
was whose name was ?

EDANA. Venetia Lee, and she jilted him.

REV. P. She did. And he went about in black
despair for months. He thought his heart was broken
all to pieces. But it wasn't. He conquered his
trouble, and he met another girl who made him a
dear, true helpmeet all the years of his manhood. And
now when he remembers that old trouble, it's only to
think of the use and the beauty of sorrow.

EDANA. What use ? What beauty ?

REV. P. The use of beautifying our faces.
Happiness rounds a face into earthly beauty, but
sorrow bravely borne carves it into heavenly loveliness.
That's one use. And there's no use in this world so
useful as beauty. And another use is to beautify
our characters and fortify our spirits. Dear me, dear
me, dear me ! I'm preaching another sermon. And
another use that old troubles have is the use of making
a tale to tell to our children over the fire on a winter
evening. There ! Now for the little song !


(By this time her eyes are closed. He croons
out an old country song stops in the
middle of it and looks at her sees she is
fast asleep. A knock at the outer door.
it, opens //.)


REV. P. Stephen !

STEPHEN. Is the Doctor here ?

REV. P. No, I'm waiting for him. What's the
matter ?

STEPHEN. Jessie's come home.

REV. P. Jessie !

STEPHEN. She wants to see a doctor, so I thought
I'd come here as Dr. Carey is nearest. And she said
she should like to see you too, pa'son.

REV. P. Very well, Stephen. I'll come to her.
Is she ill?

STEPHEN. She ain't in any immediate danger, but
she doesn't look as if she'd got many months to live.

REV. P. Poor child ! Is she changed ?

STEPHEN. She's what you might expect her to be.
What would any girl be after five years of that life ?

What would

(Glancing very significantly at ED ANA, who
is sleeping in the armchair.}

REV. P. (hastily '.) Hush ! Hush ! She hasn't


slept for three nights ! (Draws the curtains down.) I
can leave her for a few minutes. Now, Stephen, I'll
go with you !


HINDE at outer door. A long pause.}
ED AN A (asleep, moans). Walter ! Walter ! Come
away from them ! Come ! I'll take care of you ! Ah !
(A little shriek.} Don't hurt him ! You don't know
how brave and good he is ! Make haste, dear ! Make
haste ! (Laughs} That's right ! Come along !
Dearest ! Dearest ! Dearest ! ( Very caressing, with
movement of stroking his hair with her hand} Where
have you been all this while? Why did you leave
me so long ? And not a word ! Oh, it's cruel !
Don't leave me again ! You won't? You won't?

(A long moan, then silence. After a long
pause, DR. CAREY enters at inner door,
goes up to the table in the bay window,
throws off his hat and overcoat, and puts
them carelessly on the chair R. of table
in window, takes up a glass slide, puts
it under microscope, is busy bending over
it for some seconds. AMPHIEL'S face
appears to the right of the window at
back, he looks in and creeps stealthily all
round the window. As soon as he has
disappeared to the left, DR. CAREY shows
sudden attention as if he were arrested by
a sound outside. He hastily leaves table


and goes to the little window L., looks off.
A gleam of interest, almost triumph,
crosses his face. The handle of the outer
door is fumbled at and half turned. DR.
CAREY watches it. The handle is again
turned^ and the door opens (on to the
stage), AMPHIEL'S face being seen by the
audience before it is seen by DR. CAREY.
AMPHIEL looks very haggard and dis-
sipated. His first expression seen by the
audience is watchful, sly, and anxious,
but as he enters, and is seen by DR.
CAREY, he assumes a frank, cordial
manner, goes up to DR. CAREY with
outstretched hand.)
AMPHIEL (very cordially). Ah, Doctor, you got

my telegram

DR. C. (refusing his hand). Yes.

AMPHIEL. I thought I'd let you know I was

coming. I've been working in the good cause. I

knew you wouldn't let me go, so I slipped away.

Won't you shake hands with me and welcome me


DR. C. (rather sternly). Where have you been ?
AMPHIEL (imth the utmost frankness]. In the West

of England looking after the refuges I started last

year. We've done such good work in Bristol.

(ED ANA stirs a little and moves her hand.) Why do

you look at me like that ?


DR. C. (more sternly). Where have you been ?

AMPHIEL. What makes you so angry with me?
Surely you don't suspect you don't suspect that I've
broken my word ?

DR. C. (very sternly). Where have you been ?

AMPHIEL. Don't I tell you ? I've been engaged
in my work.

DR. C. All the time ?

AMPHIEL. Yes, every day, every hour, almost
every minute since I left you. I've done nothing

DR. C. You liar !

(ED ANA opens her eyes and looks round, scarcely
awake, listens as if in continuance of
her dream, gradually growing more and
more interested^)

AMPHIEL. You don't believe me ? I can give you
an account of how I have spent every moment of my

DR. C. Shall I give you an account instead?
Shall I tell you where and how you have spent the last
few days ? You've been at the Harp in Temple Mead,
Bristol, one of the lowest and filthiest dens in the
place. Shall I tell you in what condition and in
whose company you've been ? You've been lying
there in a drunken debauch since last Thursday, in
the company of sots and harlots, fouling, maddening,
destroying yourself.

AMPHIEL. It's true ! It's true ! I'm a beast \


I'm a beast ! I'm not fit to live I'll go and end it
this moment. (Rushing off towards outer door. )

DR. C. Stop, you fool ! There's somebody else
to think of. Do you know what this means to her?
Do you know that she has been night and day on a
rack of suspense ? She was here just now begging
begging me to give her some news of you.

AMPHIEL. You didn't tell her ?

DR. C. No. I left that for you to do. Go and
report yourself to her.

AMPHIEL. What do you mean ?

DR. C. She must know sooner or later. Do you
think I will let you wreck her life as well as your own ?
Do you think I will stand by and let her marry you ;
bear you children that will perhaps inherit your taint
in every bone and nerve, let her watch you sinking
inch by inch into imbecility and corruption, while she
gradually loses all her beauty and trust and love-
On, my God ! what a gift for a man ! and becomes
a hopeless, wretched drudge to you and your vice
do you think I'll stand by and see that? Eh,
do you think I will ? No ! put an end to it. Do
you hear ? Put an end to it ! She's over at the
Vicarage waiting for news of you. Go and tell her
what you are.

(ED AN A, who has been listening, amazed and
horrified, comes to curtains still dazed
and overwhelmed.}

AMPHIEL. Very well. You can make me tell her ;


but, mark me, if you do I'll end it. The moment,
she knows me for what I am I'll kill myself.

(EDANA, who is about to draw aside the
curtains and declare herself, draws back,
stands still, horror-stricken, till end of

AMPHIEL (suddenly turns to DR. CAREY, with an
outburst of agonised entreaty). Give me one more
chance ! Don't let her know ! Give me one more
chance ! I'll keep my word this time !

DR. C. Your word !

AMPHIEL. I will ! I will ! Don't despise me !
I'm not so bad as you think me. Oh, do hear me !
Don't let her know !

DR. C. But to continue to deceive her the

AMPHIEL. I'm not a hypocrite ! I've given all
my time and money to save others from this curse !
I'm not a hypocrite ; don't think that of me ! Oh,
you don't know what awful struggles I've had how
I've tried and tried and tried to conquer myself.
And I will ! I won't give way again ! Give me one
more chance ! You're my only friend ! don't turn
away from me ! Give me one more chance, only one,
only one. One more chance, for mercy's sake one
more chance !

DR. C. And if I did, how could I trust you now ?

AMPHIEL. I'll give you my oath. Listen. I
mean it. There's no going back from this. Remember


what I say and bring it up against me. If ever from
this time forth one cursed drop shall pass my lips,
may I lose her, may I lose my soul and everything
that I hold dear in this world and the next. There !
I've said it. You believe me ? You'll give me one
last chance for her sake ? One last chance !

DR. C. For her sake, because I put her happiness
beyond everything in this world, I will give you one
last chance. I'll forget these last few weeks do you
forget them too and I'll help you again to the very
utmost of my power.

AMPHIEL (bursts into tears). God bless you ! I'll

-I'll I'll (breaking down, sobbing and exhausted}.

God bless you ! You are good to me ! and I'll
deserve it. I will I'll I'll

DR. C. Come ! come ! You're too excited. You
had better go to rest. Let me get you something
after your journey.

AMPHIEL. No. I can't eat. I I I (clinging

to DR. CAREY piteously and crying feebly). Oh, I feel
so weak and wretched. I'll get to rest I'll

DR. C. Ah, my poor lad, this is a hard taskmaster
you've got. You've escaped him this time. Don't
fall into his hands again, for he'll have no mercy
on you.

AMPHIEL. I won't! I won't! (Crying?) Oh,
you are good to me. You won't leave me.

DR. C. (very tenderly). No, no, I won't leave you.
Trust to me. Don't despair. We'll make a fresh


start to-morrow. (Soothing him and helping him to-
inner door.) Come, come ! Cheer up ! There, there !
A fresh start ! A new life to-morrow.

(Helping him off at inner door. Closes it.
Comes down stage slowly, reflectively,
with anxious face.

ED AN A, who has stood horror-stricken and
quite still behind the curtains, draws
them slowly aside. His eye catches the
movement of the curtains, and he watches
them, sees her standing there.)
DR. C. You heard? (She signs " Yes.")

(Nine months pass between Acts III. and 7F.)




A large window at back looking over a garden in late
summer. A door R. A door L. Discover REV.
PEREGRINE up at window, which is open.

REV. P. (calling off towards L.). Go round, Mrs.
Bowden. Go round and come in !

(Crosses to left and opens the door.}

Enter MRS. BOWDEN in her Sunday best.

MRS. B. (curtseying). Good afternoon, pa'son. I
felt I must come and ask after Miss Edana and
whether she has heard the good news ?

REV. P. Good news ?

MRS. B. We've just had a telegram from Dr.
Carey. He's coming back to-day. Haven't you
heard ?


REV. P. Oh yes. We've had a telegram too.

MRS. B. And of course Mr. Amphiel is coming
along with him ?

REV. P. (rather troubled). Oh yes Mr. Amphiel
is coming with him.

MRS. B. I was so pleased, because I thought,
" There ! It's quite a providence Mr. Amphiel coming
back just as Miss Edana has got well again. How
is she ? "

REV. P. Much better. Quite well ! Quite her
old self except for a little weakness.

EDANA enters door R. ; her features are sharper, and
she shows signs of illness and suffering.

REV. P. Here she is !

MRS. B. (going cordially to EDANA). My dear, I
be so glad to see your pretty face again ! I must give
you a kiss for the sake of old times! (Kissing her.)
Ah, there's somebody else coming to kiss you this
blessed day.

(A shade of trouble and horror crosses EDANA'S

face and she turns away.)
MRS. B. And how are you, my dear ?
EDANA. I'm better, thank you.

(Sits down apart, with a quiet and reserved

manner. Wedding bells ring ozit.)
REV. P. Dear me ! I was forgetting I've got to
marry James Hebbings and Louisa Pack. I suppose
you're coming to the wedding, Mrs. Bowden ?


MRS. B. Yes, to be sure and aren't you coming,
my dear to see James and Louisa married ?

EDANA. No I'd rather stay at home.

MRS. B. Ah, to be sure ! I don't wonder. You're
expecting Mr. Amphiel every minute. Let me see
how long is it since he and Dr. Carey went away it
was last December, wasn't it? How time does slip
away !

REV. P. (trying to get her away from EDANA).
Yes, it does ! We ought to be at the church. Come
along, Mrs. Bowden.

MRS. B. (to EDANA). Well, good-bye, my dear.
I hear poor Jessie Gurdon is very near the end,

REV. P. Yes, poor girl ! I was with her last
night, and I scarcely thought she'd last till this

MRS. B. Oh dear, oh dear ! what a world of sin
and misery it is, to be sure ! It's a good job as
there's a better one by and by.

REV. P. It's a bad job, Mrs. Bowden, that folks
don't make a good job of this one, here and now.

Enter, L., LIZZIE, the Vicarage servant.

LIZZIE. James Hebbings and Louisa Pack would
like to see you for a minute before the wedding, sir.
REV. P. Show them in.



LIZZIE beckons off and JAMES and LOUISA enter, L., in
their wedding clothes. They are arm-in-arm, and
JAMES is very much embarrassed.

JAMES. We've come, pa'son

(Breaks down and has a little Jit of foolish


LOUISA (nudging JAMES). Do behave yourself,
James. (To REV. PEREGRINE.) We thought as Miss
Edana wasn't coming to the church, we shouldn't like
her to miss seeing us in our wedding clothes.

(Spreading herself and JAMES for EDANA'S


EDANA. Thank you, Louisa thank you, James.
( With effort to take an interest?)
MRS. B. Very sweet, oh, very sweet. Quite
taking ! (Admiring them?)

JAMES. And also we thought we might akse you,
pa'son, whether everything is in good order for the
wedding that is, so fur as your part of these pro-
ceedings is. concerned. (Adds thoughtfully) Thereby.
REV. P. My part of the proceedings shall be duly
and punctually performed, James.
JAMES. And ours also.

(Suddenly makes a grab at his waistcoat
pocket, shows alarm 9 feels in his pockets,
disengages himself from 'LomSh, fumbles.)
LOUISA What's the matter ?
JAMES. I've lost the ring.



JAMES. Yes no, here it is. That's all right !
I'll make sure of it this time.

(Placing it carefully in pocket, keeps one hand
carefully on the pocket all the remainder
of the scene.)

LOUISA. Do behave yourself, James. (JAMES
gives her his arm very ceremoniously.) And we wish
you our best respects, miss. And we thank you for
your beautiful present. And we're so sorry you aren't
coming to the wedding

MRS. B. Why don't you perk up a bit, my dear,
and come ?

EDANA (quickly). No, no, indeed I can't. But I
hope you will be very happy.

JAMES (with a giggle, glancing at LOUISA). No fear !
And also no fear for you and Mr. Amphiel, miss

LOUISA. And we hope you'll very soon be married
yourself, miss.

(EDANA turns away to window and hides her

JAMES. What's the matter ?

MRS. B. Don't you see, you silly chap ? It's her
joy that her sweetheart's coming back. He's been
nearly all over the world, and she hasn't seen him for
nine months.

REV. P. (who has shown sympathy with EDANA).
Come, I think it's nearly time that we were all over at
the church. Now, James. Now, Louisa.


JAMES (to LOUISA). Have we said anything wrong?
(Exeunt JAMES and LOUISA arm-in-arm,
door L.)

REV. P. Now, Mrs. Bowden

(EDANA is sobbing a little in window?)
MRS. B. Good-bye, my dear ! It's joy at the
thought of seeing him !

(Making a movement to go to EDANA.)
REV. P. (intercepting her). If it is joy, let it be
sacred. Leave her to me !

MRS. B. (snivelling a little). I know what it is.
God bless you, my dear.

(Exit MRS. BOWDEN door L., leaving the door


REV. P. (to EDANA). My dear ! this has been too
much for you.

(LIZZIE shows in STEPHEN by the open door.


REV. P. Stephenit's all over ?
STEPHEN. Yes. I want a word with you, pa'son.
(EDANA is going.) And with you too, miss.
EDANA. Poor Jessie is gone ?
STEPHEN. Yes. She asked me to thank you, and
you too, pa'son, for all your kindness. (A little pause.)

And I think I ought to tell you

REV. P. What ?

STEPHEN. Last night, in the middle of the night,
she was quite clear and bright, and she looked for a
minute or two like her old self. She told me the


name of the man who ruined her and took her away
from home.

REV. P. Yes ? Who was it, Stephen ?

STEPHEN. It's the man that's coming back to
Fontleas to-day.

REV. P. Are you sure, Stephen, it was he ?

STEPHEN. She was dying, and she didn't tell me
a lie. You know the man I mean, miss ?


STEPHEN. Then I needn't say any more. That's
the man that ruined Jessie and led her into that life
of shame. If you marry him now you marry him with
your eyes open. (EDANA turns away.) I've done
right to warn her, pa'son ?

REV. P. Yes, Stephen, you've done right.

STEPHEN. He's expected to-day, ain't he ?

REV. P. Yes, every minute.

STEPHEN. I shall have a word to say to him.

REV. P. No, Stephen, no. You'll forgive him.
Go now ; I'll come over to you by and by.

STEPHEN. I shall have a word to say to him.

(Exit STEPHEN, L.)

REV. P. My poor girl !

EDANA. Father, I cannot marry him ! I cannot !
I cannot ! We were wrong not to tell him before he
left England.

REV. P. We did it for the best. Dr. Carey said
that if he knew you had found him out it would most
likely prey upon his mind and drive him to drink and


death. And when Dr. Carey offered to give him one
more chance and take him away

ED AN A. I think Dr. Carey is the truest and best
man that ever lived. I can never thank him enough.
But I was wrong to let him go, I ought to have told
Walter and broken it off at the time

REV. P. Suppose you had, and had sent him to

EDANA. He will have to know now. I wonder he
hasn't guessed it from my letters. I wonder he didn't
guess it when I wished him " Good-bye," for I shud-
dered and felt oh, I cannot tell you how I felt
almost as if I hated him. And all these months he
has been away, I have felt my dislike for him growing
day by day. And he is coming back, as he thinks, to
marry me you remember what he said in his last
letter. And Dr. Carey writes that he has really kept
his word this time. Oh, tell me what can I do ? what
can I do ? I don't want to be cruel to him I don't
want to drive him to that ; but whatever happens, I
cannot marry him, I cannot ! I cannot ! I cannot !

Re-enter LIZZIE, R.

LIZZIE. They've sent over from the church, sir.
The folks are all there, and they're waiting for you to
go on with the wedding.

REV. P. Very well, Lizzie, I'll come at once.
(Exit LIZZIE, L.) I must go. Don't give way, dear.
I'll come back as soon as the wedding is over.


EDANA. And you'll think of some way of breaking

it to him without

REV. P. Without breaking your heart and without
breaking his? Yes, I must think of some way. I
must think of some way.

(Exit L., puzzling and anxious. EDANA, left
alone, goes to table, sits, and buries her
face in hands. DR. CAREY appears at
the window R., and watches her with
great interest for some moments without
her seeing him ; at length, in turning,
she catches sight of him; stops.}

EDANA. Dr. Carey (A little alarmed.}

DR. C. (through the window. He is bronzed as if
with a long sea voyage). May I come in ?
EDANA. Is any one with you ?
DR. C. No, I am alone.
EDANA. Will you go round ?

(He disappears at back. Enters L., looks at
her with great interest, anxiety, longing,
and affection.}
DR. C. Are you better ?

DR. C. No one in the house ?
EDANA. No, they are gone to the wedding. Are
you alone ?

DR. C. Yes quite for the time. (Taking her
hands} Let me look at you. You've been very ill?
EDANA. Yes. It was that dreadful night. I didn't


feel it at the time, but after you and he had gone, I

felt I (Shudders^ then suddenly breaks down and

sobs out] Oh, I'm so glad you've come back !


DR. C. Come, come, I must have you brave !

EDANA (a little recovering). Where is he ?

DR. C. I've not brought him to Fontleas.

EDANA. Is he better well ?

DR. C. Quite well.

EDANA. Where is he ?

DR. C. I had to hurry to Europe, because I
wanted to get to India at once and deal with this
fresh outbreak of the plague. So I had to leave him.

EDANA. Leave him ? Where ?

DR. C. He hasn't come by this vessel. He won't
be back for some weeks perhaps months.

( Watching her very closely.}

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Online LibraryHenry Arthur JonesThe physician : an original play in four acts → online text (page 5 of 6)