Hubert Henry Davies.

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did you have in America ?

NOEL. Very agreeable, thank you. Very busy !
No time to feel lonely or homesick.

LEILA. You found time to write me some nice long

NOEL. I tried not to forget my duties in the midst of
my pleasures. (Begins to roll a cigarette ) (leila looks
more puzzled still.) Charming people, the Welkins.


LEILA. How many of them are there ? I forget if
you told me.

NOEL. Only Welkin and {tries to appear guiltily con-
fused) Mrs. Welkin.

LEILA. What is she like ?

NOEL {smiles, turns towards her, and says, with cal-
culated enthusiasm). Delightful ! so intelligent ! Not
half appreciated by her husband. He is just the ordinary
business man. She — the sensitive, cultured, misunder-
stood wife.

LEILA. Pretty ?

NOEL. Like Beauty and the Beast — she and Elisha.

LEILA {puzzled). Elisha ?

NOEL. Welkin.

LEILA. Oh, yes — Elisha P. — ^what's her name ?

NOEL. Ella — {corrects himself hastily) Elaine.

LEILA. I suppose you call her Ella, (noel smiles an
elaborate, guilty smile, then turns his face slowly away
from LEILA. LEILA docsuH like this, and says with some
asperity.) I'm glad you've been enjoying yourself. It
makes me feel less guilty.

NOEL {looks up suddenly with a very serious expression
of face only seen by the audience, controls himself and then
says carelessly). You have been enjoying yourself ?

LEILA {still annoyed). What d'you expect ? If you
go away and leave me for weeks at a time ?

NOEL {seriously). I asked you to come with me,

LEILA. What a good thing I didn't. You wouldn't
have had half such a good time with — Ella.

NOEL {remembering his role, tries to laugh it off by
saying). Oh, no — of course — I shouldn't — no !

LEILA {watches him before she speaks). You are going
back again soon, aren't you — to America, {pointedly) to
your work.

NOEL {carelessly). Quite soon.

LEILA. I suppose you won't want me to go with you
this time ?

NOEL {is on the point of saying what he feels, then
checks himself, and says indifferently). My dear, please

LEILA. I shouldn't think of going — to be in the way.
I've no wish to play gooseberry.

NOEL {cautiously, trying to appear indifferent, but


wanting very much to know). What shall you do if I leave
you behind ?

LEILA (recklessly). Enjoy myself !

NOEL {suspiciously). With — {Puts cigarette away on
ash-tray — checks himself.) How ? What do you mean
by enjoying yourself ?

LEILA. Flirting. Having a man I like to take me
about and make love to me.

NOEL {angrily). Leila !

LEILA {flaring up). Well ! You have Mrs. Welkin.
Why shouldn't I have my friend ?

NOEL. That's different.

LEILA. Oh, no, it isn't — not at all ! I'm modern.

NOEL {rises, goes to her behind the sofa, and says soberly).
Look here, Leila. I'll give up Elaine — if you'll give
him up.

LEILA {jeering). Ho ! You can't think very much of
her to throw her over like that.

NOEL. There's such a thing as duty.

LEILA {sarcastically quoting him). I hope you will
never do anything for me, Noel, from a sense of duty.
{In her natural voice.) You once said that to me. If
your inclination doesn't hold you — you needn't think
you have to love me. I see what it is. You've found
some one you like better than me {nearly in tears).
Well, it can't be helped.

NOEL {sits beside her, and says with a sudden burst of
affection). Leila ! Leila ! I do love you, I never loved
any one but you. I never shall ! She's nothing to
me. I don't care a fig for the woman — I love you. {He
dries her eyes with handkerchief.)

LEILA {momentarily touched by his outburst, and very
much relieved to know that he is still in her power, smiles
upon him and says kindly). I know that, Noel. You
were trying to make me jealous. I knew you couldn't
mean it. But I thought I'd like to make you say so.
{Stands up and moves away.)

NOEL {bangs his knee, is vastly annoyed with himself
when he realises that he has given himself away). Oh !
Why aren't you jealous ? You ought to be ! (leila
smiles at him.) If I thought less about you you'd
bother a bit about me. {Turns sharply to her as she
does not answer.) Eh ? Isn't that it ?


LEILA {plaintively). I think you might be nicer when
you've just come home.

NOEL (rises also, looks at her lovingly and then with
a tenderness that betrays itself in his voice says). I should
hke to be nicer, Leila — but it's a tremendous disappoint-
ment to me — this home-coming. {He is hurt by this
move away of hers.) I've been thinking things over
while I've been away. I've been thinking a good deal
about our marriage. I'm not going to say it's been a
failure — we've been very happy together — but we've
been happy at my expense. It's a good deal my own
fault, I know. I've spoiled you. I've always given
you your ow^n way. It has been my pleasuie to do so.
But the result of it is you have come to think that 1
don't have to be considered. You take my gift as your
right. You forget to thank me. It's not right, Leila.
In marriage there should be give and take — which
doesn't mean that one should do all the giving and the
other all the taking. That's what our marriage has
come to. There's going to be a change, Leila — a drastic
change, (leila begins to show veiled defiance.) I
didn't reahse the extent to which you had ceased to
consider me — till the day you refused to come with me
to America, (leila is about to protest, but he interrupts
her.) Oh, you didn't refuse in so many words, I know —
but you showed me very plainly that you didn't want
to come, (leila looks on the ground.) I didn't like
to tell you — nor let you see — how much I cared, but you
must have seen, you must have known, you couldn't
help it ! I tried to make myself believe that a short
separation wouldn't be altogether a bad thing for either
of us. I half hoped that when I was gone — yoa'd be
sorry — perhaps — miss me a little, {resentfully) but you
seem to have had a very merry time, (leila still looks
on the ground.) You're not fond of this man, Leila ?

LEILA. Who ?

NOEL {irritated, says sharply). You know who I mean
— Harding.

LEILA. Fond of him ?

NOEL. Yes, fond of him. Leila, I w'ant you to tell
me — Has there been anything ? Is it anything that
makes any difference to you and me ? — Is there any-
thing that you're ashamed to tell me ?


LEILA. What's the good of all these questions, Noel ?
Suppose I had done anything — that I ought to be
ashamed of — d'you think I'd be such a fool as to let
any one know ? You'd have to accept what I told you —
whatever it was. I can tell you anything I please —
the truth, or a lie, or nothing.

NOEL. No, Leila, no. No, you can't ! I won't be
put off like that ! You must tell me. I mean to find
out. I'm going to get to the bottom of this. {Before
he has finished speaking, leila has risen and is strolling
towards the door.) Where are you going ?

LEILA {speaking as she goes). I'm going out till you
are in a better temper.

NOEL {shouts at her). Stay where you are. {This
surprises her so much she does as she is told.) I know
what you always do— your kind. Avoid a row — refuse
to have it out. I'm being tiresome — so you think
you'll go where it's more amusing — and leave me to
worry by myself.

(leila crosses slowly towards the table, noel
watches her without moving from his place.
At the table she pauses, picks up a book, looks at
the title, turns over a page or two to see what it is,
saunters to the sofa with it, arranges the cushion,
sits down, puts her feet up, settles herself, opens
the book, and begins to read, ignoring noel alto-
gether. NOEL watches all this before he speaks.)
I want to know exactly how we stand.

{She turns a page of her book and still ignores him.
He walks deliberately, but with great determina-
tion to the sofa.)
You must tell me what I think I ought to know.

{He pauses, watching her, but she still ignores
him. He sits down on the side of the sofa, near
the foot of it, beside her legs, then says with
quiet determination.)
I'm going to have my way this time.

{She still ignores him. He takes the book from
her firmly, but not snatching it, and pitches it
away. She offers no resistance, he then takes
her two hands in his, gripping them firmly and
forcing her to face him.)
If you won't tell me — I shall go straight to him !


LEILA (affecting a calm and leisurely indifference, says
quietly). What good would that do you, Noel ? He
would deny that there had been anything — (pausing de-
liberately to choose her expression) wrong. You wouldn't
know whether to believe him or not, but you'd have to
take his word.

NOEL. Why can't you deny it ?

LEILA (as before, but with decreasing self-control).
Why should you believe me ? If I were guilty I should
lie — shouldn't I ? And if I were not, you'd believe
what you chose.

NOEL (getting more and more insistent). Leila !

LEILA (losing her temper). Believe what you choose.

NOEL. Leila, Leila — remember !

LEILA (pushing him. away with her left hand and
tearing her right from his grasp. He does not want a
physical struggle and lets her free herself. While she is
freeing herself she says furiously.) Stop it, Noel! I've
had enough. (Rising, and moving away from him.)
Think what you like — ( Turning to him, says menacingly. )
Go to Captain Harding if you like — only I warn you —
if you do, it will make a difference. If you've no more
respect for me than to go to him behind my back and
ask him if he's my lover, I'll have nothing more to do
with you. Why d'you stick me on a pedestal, where
I don't belong, and never wanted to be — (Turns and
comes towards him without stopping in her speech.) And
then go and break your heart when you find I'm not a
saint ? I never set up to be a saint. I'm no different
from other women. We all flirt and philander. All of
us who get the chance. Why not ? Why not ? D'you
suppose it's amusing to sit at home all day and mind
the house ? (Half turns to him, stretching out her left
hand towards him as if to stop him saying something.)
Oh, don't begin the usual thing — if only I had a child —
(passionately, her tears rising) I wish I had ! I wish I
had ! It would be something to satisfy my heart.
(Turning to face him, forcing back her tears by raising
her voice still more.) But not everything ! Even the
women with children ! — they want more than that.
They want companionship — they want life, excitement !
(noel comes towards her as she continues recklessly.)
And adventures — yes, adventures. Forbid him the


house. It's your house. But don't forget — I can see
him outside if I want to. I can meet him without your
knowledge. You can track me with detectives if you
hke. They won't find anything out. I may not choose
to give up my friend. I may not choose — {Her head up,
proud and defiant and rebellious, she moves away from

NOEL {after a long pause, during which he is considering
his position). If you don't want to stick to me, I can't
make you. I'm not going to watch you every minute.
It wouldn't be worth it. I haven't the time.

LEILA {turns to him, and goes towards him while she
is speaking). Noel ! Noel ! Can't you understand ?
Nobody could take your place — no one. You must know
that. {As he pays no attention to her, she is very near
to tears, but still defiant and always justifying herself.)
I'm not good enough for you. {She sits on the sofa.) I'm
frivolous and spoilt. But it's not altogether rny fault.
You've always given in to me and let me do exactly as
I liked. Youve made me what I am. {Breaking down
and crying.) Don't turn against me. {Appealingly.)
Noel ! {Buries her face in her hands and sobs.)

NOEL {unable to resist her, goes towards her, pauses,
and looks down at her). It's been my fault, too — mine
more than yours. {Drops on one knee beside her and says
imploringly.) But, oh, Leila — tell me— let me think !
Let me feel — let me know — that it's all right.

LEILA {drying her eyes as she looks at him and says).
Yes, Noel — of course^of course it's all right.

NOEL. D'you swear it — that there's been nothing

LEILA {becoming restive and offended). I've told you.
If you're not going to take my word {Makes a move-
ment away from him.)

NOEL {taking her hands and drawing her round to face
him again). No, Leila — Leila — don't turn away. I
take your word. You say it's all right. I believe you.
But I love you so desperately. I'm so jealous. If I
thought that any one was pushing me out and taking
my place — I'd — I'd — {Dropping his voice almost to
a whisper.) No, no ! Listen to me. I shouldn't be
afraid — only lately — I've seen — for some time past I've
noticed — it's not the same — not quite the same. There
are little signs — little things that make me think — and


then — you say something, or you do something —
something so sweet and tender — and then I think
you are the same — and that it's only my fears and my
jealousy and my love for you. You say it's all right.
You say so. I hope it's all right.

LEILA. Poor old Noel ! Dear old boy, I wish I was
more what you want.

{He is kneeling on the ground beside her.)
NOEL. I wouldn't have you any different — but I
wish we were back at St. Ives. Have you forgotten
how it was then ? You are everything in the world to
me still — just as you were then — just as I w'as to you
then. Your mind was given up to me — your hands
were always finding my hands. When we looked into
each other's eyes and kissed each other — I was enough —
I was everything. What a long time ago that seems.
Nothing can hurt me now, you said, neither poverty,
nor age, nor pain — so long as I have you. {She drops
her eyes.) I have never forgotten that. {He rises and
stands, looking away.)

LEILA. I'm fond of you still, Noel.
NOEL {speaking kindly to her, but very sadly, and as if
he were thoroughly disillusioned). I know, dear. I know
all about it. You needn't explain. You like me as
one likes a faithful friend. I've been kind, and so you
thank me. But the old impulse has gone. It's no use
pretending. We can't hide these things from each
other. I don't inspire you any more. It must be a
great disappointment to you, too.

{Enter rufus followed by Josephine.)
RUFUS. Well, Leila ! We've had our walk. Up and
down the Embankment twice, from the church to Chelsea

{While he is saying this leila goes to the door,
taking no notice either of rufus or Josephine,
who remains, looking anxiously at the others.
RUFUS watches leila go out of the room before
he says expectantly.)
Well, Noel ! You've succeeded ?

{The question comes as a shock to noel. He has
gone through so much since his scene with
rufus, he has to let his mind travel back to


NOEL {echoes). Succeeded ?
RUFUS. You've conquered her ?

NOEL. No, Uncle Rufus, no, I've not conquered.
I've done — what I've always done — given in, given in,
given in — all along the line.

(As NOEL goes out of the room Josephine comes
to RUFUS and takes his arm. Both stand
looking towards the door through which noel
has passed.)



SCENE. — The dining-room. A square, comfortable room
and, like the other rooms in noel's house, decorated
and furnished in excellent taste, hut without extrava-
gance or any great outlay of money. There is a door
in the right-hand wall and a fireplace opposite, with
a fender in front of it. In the centre of the room
there is a round dining-table, now set for breakfast
for four persons. The coffee-pot, etc., stands before
the place laid on one side of the table. On the table
are jam dishes, butter dishes, an egg-stand with boiled
eggs, cruets, etc., and all the necessary knives, forks,
spoons, china, etc. Against the wall is a sideboard
with a white cloth spread over it. On the sideboard
are plates, knives, forks, and spoons, and two dishes
with covers standing on heaters. There are two arm-
chairs and six other dining chairs, which are all
alike. Three of these stand against the walls ; the
others are at the table.

JOSEPHINE is seated, but has not yet begun her breakfast.
She has a cup of coffee beside her, but nothing on her
plate. She is reading a letter.

It is about a month later than Act II.

RUFUS {who is by the sideboard, helps himself to sausage
and bacon, then crosses and sits at the table. In loud
and petulant tones he demands). Why don't they give us
more variety in our food ? Nothing but sausage — every
morning, sausage. {Pushing his plate away.) I'm sick
of sausage.

JOSEPHINE {as soon as rufus speaks, lays down her
letter and becomes anxious about his comfort, but says
brightly). We had haddocks yesterday, darhng.

RUFUS. I detest haddocks. That's well known.



JOSEPHINE {cheerfully). Have an egg ?

RUFUS {grumpily). No.

JOSEPHINE. You used to be so fond of sausages.

RUFUS. I like sausages when they are properly
cooked, but not when they are burnt or burst ! {Holds
up a sausage on his fork.) Look at that !

JOSEPHINE {adjusting her eye-glasses on her nose, peers
at the sausage). It is not well cooked, certainly.

RUFUS {indignantly). It's a disgrace ! {He puts the
sausage on his plate again, pushes it about with his fork.
JOSEPHINE takes up her letter and continues reading it
while RUFUS sulks. After a short silence rufus exclaims
in a loud voice of lamentation, sounding almost as if he were
ready to hurst into tears). Why can't she give us kedgeree ?

JOSEPHINE {laying her letter down again, and always
speaking cheerfully). Would you like me to ask her to ?

RUFUS. How can you ask her ? We are visitors.
We must eat what's provided.

JOSEPHINE. But I'm sure Leila wouldn't mind me
asking her. She'd be only too pleased to give you
some of your favourite dishes if she knew what they

RUFUS. I don't suppose her cook understands ked-
geree. There's only one way to make it ! Besides — it's
too late for this morning. {Pulls his plate towards him
again, as he mutters.) Sausage ! {Continues eating his
sausage and bacon.)

JOSEPHINE {rises and puts her arm round his shoulder).
Shall I see if there's anything on the sideboard that you
could fancy ?

RUFUS {with his mouth full). If you like ! {Pats her

(JOSEPHINE crosses to the sideboard, raises the
covers and looks inside the two dishes.)

JOSEPHINE. Here's a delicious-looking little mess of
something ; fish, I think.

RUFUS {indignantly). The haddocks from yesterday.

JOSEPHINE {sweetly). Do try some of it.

RUFUS {mutters). No, thank you.

JOSEPHINE {putting some of the mess from the dish
nearest to the audience on to a plate). I think / must have
a little. It looks so very nice.

RUFUS {eating). This bacons as brittle as glass.


JOSEPHINE {returning to her place with the plate she has
filed and putting it down on the table as she says anxiously).
Isn't there anything that tempts you ? {She stands sur-
veying the tabic as rufus, having finished his sausage and
bacon, lays his knife and fork together). Marmalade ?

RUFUS. Ugh !


RUFUS {after a pause says sullenly). An egg.

JOSEPHINE {about to pass rufus the egg-stand, says
cheerfully). That's right.

RUFUS {reaching across the table for the egg-stand).
Don't bother. I can reaeh. Better get on with your
own breakfast. You haven't had anything yet.

JOSEPHINE {sitting in her place again and taking her
knife and fork up as she speaks). Never mind me. I can
begin now though ; now that you've got what you hke.

RUFUS {drinking coffee — draining his cup). I'm ready
for some more coffee.

JOSEPHINE {lays down her knife and fork and rises
quickly as she speaks). I'm so sorry. {Takes his coffee
cup). I didn't notice. How thoughtless of me !

{As she pours out coffee for rufus he puts on his
glasses, peers at her plate, takes it up and smells

RUFUS. This doesn't smell so bad. {He puts his plate
on one side, replaces the egg in the egg-stand, places her
plate in front of him and begins to eat her breakfast.) I
hope you've left enough in the dish for yourself ?

JOSEPHINE {cheerfully as she crosses behind rufus and
sets his cup of coffee on the table beside him). I think so,
dear. I'll just see. {Crossing to the sideboard.) I think
there was a little. {Lifts the cover from the dish nearest
the audience and lays it down as she says.) Oh, yes. Just
a mouthful. Quite enough for me. {As she puts the few
remaining scraps from the dish on to a plate.) Noel must
have fancied this too. {Returns to her place, lays her
plate in front of her, sits down and at last begins her break-
fast.) I shall be so glad when we are in a house of our
own. Then I shall be able to give you everything you
like for breakfast.

RUFUS. I don't see how we are ever to find a house.

JOSEPHINE. I thought vou had decided on that one in
Tunbridge Wells !


RUFUS. So I have. Signed the lease yesterday.
Didn't I tell you ?

JOSEPHINE. No, dear.


JOSEPHINE {kindly). You must have forgotten.

RUFUS. I thought you knew.

JOSEPHINE. But if you have signed the lease the house
is ours.

RUFUS. We shan't be able to stay in it.

JOSEPHINE. Why not, dear ? Have you found out
something about the drains ?

RUFUS. The drains are all right. But the rates !
Preposterous ! Wicked ! I never saw such a Govern-

JOSEPHINE. I thought it was the County Council who
fix the rates !

RUFUS. I don't care who it is, I won't pay.

JOSEPHINE. Well — -at all events — it's a good thing
we've found a house, for we shan't be able to stay here
much longer — if Noel goes back soon to America.

RUFUS. Has he said when he's going ?

JOSEPHINE. Not to me. But when he came home he
said he should go back almost immediately. It's nearly
a month since he came home.

RUFUS. Is he going to take Leila with him ?

JOSEPHINE. I don't know, dear. He hasn't said.
Nor has she. They are both so reticent now — about

(Enter leila. She is graver and paler than before ;
she seems to have lost her gay and smiling

LEILA. Good-morning.

JOSEPHINE. Good-morning, dear.

(leila crosses to the sideboard, raises the dish-covers,
and looks inside the dishes.)

RUFUS (who has now finished his breakfast, says face-
tiously). Overslept yourself this morning, Leila ?

LEILA {having decided not to have anything from the
sideboard, goes to the table as she speaks). I didn't sleep
at all — the early part of the night, so I stayed in bed a
little longer.

JOSEPHINE. What a very pretty dress you are wearing.

LEILA {taking a very apathetic interest in her clothes).,

VOL. 11 Q


This ? Yes — it is rather nice — isn't it ? {Pours herself
out a cup of tea.)

JOSEPHINE. I admire it extremely.

RUFUS. If you two are going to talk clothes, it's time
I hooked it. {Gathers up his paper and rises.) I'll go
and smoke a pipe with Noel. I suppose I shall find him
in his studio.

LEILA {helping herself to toast). I expect so. He's
always there at this time of the morning.

RUFUS. I'll go and rout the beggar out.

{He goes.)
( LEILA eats her breakfast of tea and toast —
JOSEPHINE watches her.)

JOSEPHINE. Are you only eating toast, Leila ?

LEILA. Yes. I'm not hungry.

JOSEPHINE. You look pale, dear !

LEILA {not wishing to pursue this subject). I'm all right,
thank you.

JOSEPHINE. D'you think you go out enough ?

LEILA {looks up at JOSEPHINE tts shc says). I thought I
used to go out too much.

JOSEPHINE {slightly embarrassed). I meant — ^to take
the air. {Enter harrison. Harrison pauses near the
door when she sees Josephine. Josephine, attracted by
Harrison's entrance, glances at her, then says.) Oh —
here's Harrison — come to clear away. {Rises, picking
up her letter.) I'll go upstairs now and finish reading my
letter. It's from Alice.

LEILA. Your daughter ? Is she well ?

JOSEPHINE. Very well, thank you. {Going to the door.)
Very good news of them all, I'm glad to say !

{She goes out.)

(HARRISON holds the door open for josephine, then

closes it after her, then comes towards leila,

rather mysteriously, as if she had something

important to say.)

HARRISON {behind table). If you please, ma'am. It's
Captain Harding. He's at the door. (leila shows
surprise and concern, but conceals her emotion from
HARRISON, who coutinucs without a pause.) He wants
to know if you can speak to him for five minutes.

LEILA. Why didn't you put him in the drawing-room ?

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