Hubert Henry Davies.

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HARRISON. He said he would stay where he was if I'd


bring you the message. I asked him if he didn't wish
to go to the studio to Mr. Gale, and he said " No," he
wanted to see you.

LEILA. You'd better show him in here.

HARRISON. Yes, ma'am.

(HARRISON goes out, leaving the door open, and a
moment later maurice enters. He looks pale
and nervous and carries his hat and stick.
LEILA and MAURICE are both agitated when they
find themselves alone, face to face.)

LEILA. You shouldn't have done this.

MAURICE. I couldn't help it. I had to see you. I
waited in the whole of yesterday afternoon. You neither
came nor sent word. I've been up nearly all night.

LEILA. What doing ?

MAURICE. Watching your windows. {She heaves a
sigh and turns away from him, turning a little in her chair
— much troubled.) There was a light, till four o'clock
this morning.

LEILA. I was reading — I couldn't sleep.

MAURICE. I can't go on like this. I never see you
now. Tf you were here by yourself, or with the two
old ones, it wouldn't matter so much. As it is — it's

LEILA {rising and moving a few steps from him). I must
be at home and behave myself properly — mustn't I ?

MAURICE. If you cared for me — you couldn't ! If you
knew what I suffered — all day and all night. I shall
clear out, change my regiment, and get sent abroad. It
would be better never to see you if I can't have you to
myself. I hate what I'm doing ; making love to an-
other man's wife. Does he know you've seen me since
he came home ?


MAURICE. Did you tell him ?

LEILA. No. But I'm sure he knows.

MAURICE. What did he say ?

LEILA {turning to him). Nothing. He never says any-
thing. He hasn't said one word of anything real since
the day he came home. It's simply awful the constraint
between us. (maurice looks at her, deliberately lays
down his hat and stick on the chair, goes towards her,
seizes her in his arms and kisses her passionately. She


yields. When he releases her he kisses her hands.) I'll
meet you somewhere to-day.

MAURICE {holding her hands). Leila, listen, I'll bring
the motor. Not here. I'll meet you with it opposite
Chelsea Barracks at one o'clock !

LEILA. Why the motor ? Where are we going ?
MAURICE. We could go anywhere in the motor. We
could go to Scotland or Dover and take the afternoon
boat to France !

LEILA {stares at him in amazement before she says). Oh,
but think — think ! That would be the end of every-
thing !

MAURICE. I'm ready if you are.

{Enter noel. He advances into the room, unsus-
pectingly, before he sees them, stops short sud-
denly, makes a dart towards maurice, leila
gets between them.)
LEILA. I asked him to come — I asked him to come and
see me. (noel stares at leila, while he thinks what to do,
restraining himself from following his natural impulse to go
for MAURICE. LEILA tums to MAURICE.) I'm afraid you
had better go.

{She looks anxiously from maurice to noel, who

speaks while maurice picks up his hat and


NOEL {to maurice). Don't go. Wait for me — wait

for me, please, in the drawing-room. {As he turns away.)

I expect you know your way there !

(maurice goes out, drawing the door to after him

but not latching it. noel moves across the


LEILA {as MAURICE has gonc). If you say one word to

him about coming here or about anything at all to do

with me — I'll take his part against you. You've a right

to have whom you like in your own house or to turn any

one out. You can order me out — but I won't have my

friends insulted as long as I'm mistress here.

NOEL. Sit down, Leila, and listen to me. (leila comes
and sits in a chair, while noel goes to the door and
latches it, then turns to her.) This can't continue.

LEILA. It's the first time he's been here since you
came home.

NOEL. I know that. I'm not talking about him —


but about us. No two people with any respect for
themselves or each other, who once lived together from
choice, could consent to live like this.

LEILA (frightened by his intensity). Noel ! liisten !
I've been careless. I've been indiscreet. I daresay you
could scrape up evidence that would ruin me. I've
been to his rooms, but he's not my lover. I swear—
I never

NOEL (repudiating the suggestion). I don't suspect you
of that. Oh, no. Not you. But you're fond of him.
You love him. Your thoughts fly to him though your
body's here. (She drops her eyes.) You are a prisoner
in my house. I'm your gaoler. When I was away and
you were free to see him every day you were gay and
light-hearted and happy. Now that I am at home again
and you see him — seldom — you are listless and melan-
choly. I haven't asked you not to see him. I left you
to judge for yourself. I don't believe you asked him
hereto-day. He /orced! his way into the house. I don't
believe you asked him, because — since I was at home
again — you have considered my position, and for that I
thank you — for not humiliating me before people ; but I
can't accept sacrifices. If you think that he could make
you happy. If you are both set on this — if it's serious —
if it's for life — go to him. I'll serve you in the only way
that's left me. I'll get out of your way. I shall be
going back to America soon in any case. I can arrange
to go — next Saturday. My work will keep me there
some time — some months — perhaps a year. After that
— I could take up with some woman or other for a bit —
and stay over there. You can do the regulation thing
— write me a letter — urging me to come back ; I shall,
of course, refuse — then — you can divorce me.

LEILA. I can't accept that, Noel. It isn't right that
you should be put in the wrong for me — for what I've

NOEL. You mw5^ accept it. (With great determination.)
I must ask you, please, to do this in the way I wish.
(With strong suppressed emotion.) I won't have you
dragged through the mud. Now— you had better go
and talk it over with him. Arrange between you what
you want to do — then — let me know. (Enter harrison
with a large tray. She hesitates when she sees noel and


LEILA. NOEL turns to HARRISON and says quite natur-
ally.) You can come in, Harrison. We've finished.

(HARRISON lays her tray on a chair and begins
to put the things from the table on it. leila
rises, pauses one moment, then goes slowly out
of the room.)
{Enter Josephine with her work-basket, as the
maid is going.)
JOSEPHINE {stops near the door to say). Oh ! You
haven't cleared the table yet. I'll take my sewing into
the drawing-room.

NOEL {turns to her quickly). No, Aunt Josephine —
please. Stay here — won't you ? The drawing-room is

JOSEPHINE. Oh — very well, dear, I'll stay with you
if I shan't be in your way.

{She sits in the armchair beside the fireplace.
There is a short silence while Josephine takes
her work out of her work-basket and begins to
sew. NOEL stands on the hearth with his back
to the fireplace, smoking, harrison returns,
and continues clearing the sideboard.)

{Enter rufus.)
RUFUS {excitedly as he comes towards noel — not
noticing Harrison's presence). Do you know who's
in the drawing-room ?

NOEL. Yes, Uncle Rufus, I do. I sent them there.
RUFUS {explosively). What ! {Is checked by noticing
Harrison's presence.) Oh ! {He watches harrison,
staring at her every moment till she goes out with her tray.
As soon as she has gone out rufus closes the door, then
comes back and begins again.) But what are you thinking

NOEL. I'll tell you directly. {As harrison returns.)
Wait a minute.

(harrison finishes clearing, rufus watches her,
then assists her by handing her plates, etc. He
then grunts and sits down, with his left elbow
resting upon the table. When harrison takes
the cloth she tugs it a little to try and get it from
under rufus's arm. rufus testily pushes up
his side of the table-cloth when he feels harrison
tugging, and the maid retires finally. As


soon as she has gone, rufus rises, closes the
door ; then he comes hack to his chair, rufus
and JOSEPHINE both turn to noel, looking at
him for an explanation.)
NOEL. Leila and I are going to separate.

(rufus and Josephine stare in amazement, then
look at each other, then at noel.)
JOSEPHINE. You are going to divorce her ?
NOEL. No. I am going to let her divorce me !
rufus {in a perfect scream of fury). What ! You are
going to let her — ? Good heavens ! Good heavens !
Oh, no, Noel, no — you can't mean that. You don't
mean that. {To Josephine.) He doesn't mean that !
NOEL. What else would you have me do ? / can't
make her happy.

rufus. What else would I have you do ? Divorce
her, of course. Expose her. Threaten her, anyway.
Frighten her out of her wits. That would bring her
to a standstill. Divorce you ! As if you were the guilty
party ! Oh ! it's grotesque ! Of course she never
considers you if this is the way you go on. If she knows
that every time it comes to a pinch — you'll give way.
For heaven's sake, Noel — reconsider !

(JOSEPHINE rises.)
NOEL {goaded by rufus's violence). It's no use talking,
Uncle Rufus, I've made up my mind. I must do things
my own way.

rufus. Do things your own way — but I hope you'll
excuse me if I refuse to stay here and listen to such —
childishness. I'll go to some place where it doesn't
matter who hears my language.

{He bangs out of the room.)
(noel leans on the mantelpiece, turned away from


JOSEPHINE moves across the room. She has
nearly reached the door when noel speaks.)
NOEL {sits down). Don't go, Aunt Josephine, please.
{She stops and turns to him.) I'd rather not be alone
while I m waiting, (josephine looks at him as if she
would like to go and comfort him, but she is too timid to
do that, so she sits down again, lays down her work-
basket on the table, and goes on with her sewing.) Always
working at something — aren't you ?


JOSEPHINE {as brightly as she can). There is plenty
to do. After the children, you know, there are the

NOEL. Do you think Uncle Rufus is right ?

JOSEPHINE {stops sewing and considers her answer
before she giies it, quietly but impressively). What you
are doing is the logical outcome of everything else.

NOEL. I've always given in ?

JOSEPHINE. You couldn't help it.

NOEL. She's the stronger ?

JOSEPHINE. It's not that. It has nothing to do with
strength or weakness. Some people have a genius for
giving. Others a talent for taking. You can't help
being whichever kind you are, any more than you can
change your sex. You and I are amongst those who
must give. {Quaintly, as she resumes her sewing.) Door-
mats, I always call them to myself.

NOEL. I'm not a doormat, not usually — not in my
business — nor in my dealings with most people — only
with her.

JOSEPHINE. Every doormat is not everybody's door-
mat. But everybody is either a doormat — or else —
the thing that tramples on the doormat.

NOEL {suggests vaguely). A boot !

JOSEPHINE {with a faint smile). Yes, I alwaj^s wanted
a name for them. Leila is a boot. So is your Uncle
Rufus. They can't help it. Just as every one is either
a man or a woman — not in the same degree of course —
but there are men and women — {illustrating with her
hands) at either end, as it were, of a long piece of string ;
very mannish men at one end and very womanish
women at the other. Then — as you go along — men
with gentler, what we call feminine qualities — and women
with masculine qualities — some with more and some
with less — right along — till you come to a lot of funny
little people in the middle that it's hard to tell what
they are. Just so, it seems to me, is every one a more
or less pronounced doormat or boot.

NOEL. She wasn't always a boot. When we were
first married and while we were engaged — Leila was
quite as much of a doormat as I was.

JOSEPHINE. Oh, my dear ! that's where they are so
clever. {Turning more directly to noel.) Leila wanted


your love. So she set to work the surest way to gain it.
She pretended to be a doormat. That's what they do,
if it serves their own purposes. Oh, yes ; they come
after us just as often as we go after them.

NOEL. When she got me where she wanted me — she
gave up ! She didn't need to trouble any more.

JOSEPHINE {removes her spectacles, speaking slowly
and impressively, as if she were formulating a new idea).
It is not so much that they dominate us. They don't,
as it were, knock us down and trample on us. It is we
who wilfully lay ourselves down to be trampled upon.
We love being trampled upon. It thrills us to give and
it bores us to take. It's of no use knowing — with one's
brain — how to take if one hasn't got their instinct —
for as soon as a great emotion surges within us, it
sweeps all our knowledge away and reveals what we are
— doormats !

NOEL {rises and goes over to the fireplace). It's not
very comforting to know that if I had been as wise
as Solomon — I couldn't have helped it.
JOSEPHINE. I'm sorry for you.
NOEL. Don't you ever find it hard ?
JOSEPHINE {smiles happily, hut a serious, contented
smile). Oh, no ! So long as I have somebody to serve —
I am content. They were always very good to me about
that — your uncle and the children — they always allowed
me to do things for them. It must have been very
tiresome for them at times to have me fussing after
them so much. One can be just as exacting in giving
as in taking. It wouldn't have amused me at all to be
married to another doormat. I want some one who
will take from me and indulge my passion for giving.
{Very gravely, as if she were looking far away.) I'm sure
I don't know what I should have done if Rufus had ever
wanted to leave me. I gave him everything I had —
long ago. {Very humbly and gently and quietly.) Thank
God ! he never strayed from me.

(leila comes slowly into the room, leaving the
door open behind her. Josephine looks from
one to the other, then gathers up her work, rises,
and crosses to noel, squeezes his arm, goes
towards the door, and pats i>eila's arm as she
passes her ; then she goes out.)


LEILA. He's coming directly. He will tell you him-
self — what we have decided. {Sits down at the table,
turned rather towards the audience so as not to face noel.)
{Enter maurice. He looks from one to the other,
closes the door, then goes quietly towards noel
as far as the upper corner of the table.)

MAURICE. Mrs. Gale has told me what you have
offered to do, and I must say — before I go any further —
it is most generous

NOEL {interrupting him impatiently). Cut all that,
please ! {Controls himself, then says quietly.) All right,
go on, I'm listening. Please sit down.

(MAURICE sits. NOEL remains standing on the
hearth. )

MAURICE. I can't accept your offer. I cannot allow
any man to blacken himself for me.

NOEL. It's not for you I'm doing it !

MAURICE {conciliatingly). I'm aware of that ! But I
can't in any way take advantage of it. We should
prefer to go away — and for you to divorce Mrs.

NOEL. That's not my offer.

LEILA. We can't accept your offer, Noel.

MAURICE. We have decided to take this step with
a full knowledge of the consequences. I quite realise
all that it means — leaving the army — and giving up —
practically everything, (leila turns her head slowly to
look at MAURICE. He looks at her as he says.) I am
more than willing. {She looks away. He says to noel.)
I shall endeavour in every way to do my part.

NOEL. And my wife ? what about her ? Her future ?
What is that to be ?

MAURICE {rather surprised). I shall marry Mrs. Gale —
of course — as soon as ever she is free. You don't doubt
that, surely ?

NOEL. We are none of us doubting each other's words
or right intentions. But I'm looking beyond. {Turning
to MAURICE.) I want to know what provision you pro-
pose for her ?

MAURICE. As to that — I don't mind telling you exactly
what my income is. I can't say to a penny without
referring to some books, but I'll get my lawyer to draw
up a thing and send it you. {He says the following quite


modestly, merely stating a fact, not very tactfully, hut with
no intention to give offence.) I can assure you now,
though, that Mrs. Gale will be considerably better off
than she has been. And it's all mine. I mean to say —
it's not an allowance. It's all right.

NOEL {who has been taking this in carefully and con-
siders thoughtfully as he replies). Yes, yes, I see. Thanks.
I knew that you could offer her much more than I have
as yet been able to. But her life ? Her future position ?

MAURICE (puzzled). Settlements ? I shall be delighted
to make a settlement.

NOEL. I'm sure you'll do all that's correct and even
generous, but

LEILA (to MAURICE). He mcaus that the position of a
divorced woman is — well — you know what it is. That's
what he's thinking about.

MAURICE. I know. So am I. But I told you all
along that I couldn't accept his offer.

LEILA. Neither can I. He mustn't be allowed to
sacrifice himself for us.

NOEL. Please leave me to decide what / should do. I
want to know what he proposes for you.

MAURICE. We should go abroad, I suppose, at first.
We haven't decided where yet. Eventually, we may,
I hope, be able to live it down. Some people do.
Especially — {glancing at leila) — people like us — who,
if I may say so, are both rather popular.

NOEL {facing them). Some people never live it down.
{To MAURICE.) You are rich, I know, but you aren't
rich enough to buy your way back. {To leila.) Some
divorced women are for ever shunned and despised and
condemned. {To both.) It's to make provision against
that that I say unless you accept my conditions she
stays here. Until I am satisfied that she goes to a
better home than she leaves, I won't set her free. If
you take things in your own hands, I won't divorce her.
What shall you do then ?

MAURICE (after a little reflection). Of course — if you say
you won't divorce her — we must accept your conditions.

LEILA (positively). No ; I refuse.

MAURICE (to LEILA). But wc Can't, for your sake

LEILA (interrupting him). I am the best judge of
that. It is for mt' he proposes to sacrifice himself.


MAURICE. I know — but don't you see — if yoii won't
divorce him and he won't divorce you — and we go away
together— it means — we can never be married.

LEILA. I quite realise what my position would be.

MAURICE. It is hardly necessary to assure you, I
hope, that — under all circumstances — I should stand
by you — but still, I don't think it is out of place to
remind you that there is also my position to be con-
sidered. You see — in any case — I'm giving up a great

LEILA. I'm giving up more than you are.

MAURICE. I'm not so sure.

LEILA. What ! Look what I'm losing. Everything
a woman holds dear.

MAURICE. I know — I know — but still — you'll have

LEILA. Yes — and you'll have me.

MAURICE. Couldn't you persuade her to accept your
terms ?

NOEL. I ? I persuade her ? Why should she heed
me now ? She never did in the past. If she were
willing to be led by me — should we be where we are ?
/ canH persuade her — but you — you — you are made of
such different stuff, (maurice turns again to leila, who
is still uncompromising.) Ask her.

LEILA. It's no use.

NOEL. Tell her. Impose your will on hers. That's
what women adore. They don't like men to give in to

MAuaiCE. We had better discuss this quietly later on.

NOEL. Oh, no. I must know now.

MAURICE (rising). You know my decision.

LEILA. And you know mine.

MAURICE. We can't both have our own way.

LEILA. No — we can't.

MAURICE. How are we ever to get on ?

LEILA (interrupting him and finishing his sentence).
Exactly. If as soon as I make up my mind and am
thoroughly determined, you take the other side and
oppose me. What sort of a life should we have together ?

MAURICE. That's what I'm beginning to ask myself.

LEILA, We should fight every day of the week — if
you are never going to give in to me.


MAURICE. I am not accustomed to giving in — to any

LEILA. Nor am I.

MAURICE. He offers to sacrifice himself. He's willing.

LEILA. And you ? Aren't you willing to sacrifice
yourself"^. Isn't it worth everything in the world to
get me ?


(MAURICE hesitates, leila draivs back from him
with a prolonged)


MAURICE {seeing his mistake, goes towards her and says
quickly). Of course it is — listen — look here.

LEILA {avoiding him). No, no, don't come near me.
I've done with you.

MAURICE. You might at least let me explain.

LEILA. You have explained. You'll take me all
right if I'll come on your terms, as long as you don't
suffer. At last I see you as you really are — thoroughly

MAURICE. Selfish ! I selfish ! If either of us are
selfish, it's not me. However, if that's your opinion,
there's nothing left for me but to go. {Opens door.)
If you change your mind I am still at your service,
always ready to do the right thing.

{He goes out.)

LEILA. What a mercy I found him out in time.
Think, think, what a life he'd have led me. Nothing
but rows, incessant rows — the — the — I don't know any
name bad enough to call him.

NOEL. He's a boot.

LEILA. Oh, don't talk nonsense. How could I ever
be so mad as to think, even for one moment, of giving
up — all that I have — for him. Oh, Noel, Noel ! {Lays
her head on her arms on table.)

NOEL. How can you turn to me for comfort now,
after all that you've done to me ? Because some one
else doesn't want you, you think you can come back —
and that I shall be waiting just where you want me.
How can you expect such a thing ? Before you tired
of me and preferred him, no sacrifice was hard — because
I loved you, and you were mine. You've never realised
what it means to be able to get on with a man like that,


or with a woman like yourself — constant patience, self-
effacement, sacrifice — oh, not unwilling sacrifice, when
it is for love— but still somebody's got to be always
playing up to you, if you are still to remain the splendid,
dashing, wilful creatures the world admires. You can't
do it without us.

LEILA. It's too late, now. What a thing it's been for
me always having you. When I was sitting at the
table there, and you defended me and looked after all
my interests so — I realised how you had always thought
of me before yourself — and the difference between you
and him, and I couldn't let you degrade yourself — Noel,
whatever became of him ; I didn't do that.

NOEL. I haven't forgotten.

LEILA. I need you, Noel. I do, indeed. I'm no
good without you. {Buries her head on her arms on

NOEL. You're finding it out at last, Leila.

LEILA. W^hat ?

NOEL. That the boots need their doormats just as
much as the doormats need their boots.

(noel goes up to the door, hesitates once or twice,
then suddenly comes down behind leila, takes
her face in his two hands, bends down and
kisses her. Then he goes quickly to the door.)











. Mr. Gerald du Maurier

Hugh .

. Mr. Arthur Wontner


. Mr. Geoffrey Kerr

Taylor .

. Mr. Jules Shaw

Miriam .

. Miss Ethel Levey


. Miss Grace Lane

Nelly .

. Miss Una Venning


. Miss Maud Buchanan

Act L — Geoffrey's flat in Piccadilly.

Act IL — ^The same, three months later.

Act in. — Miriam's Maisonette, fifteen months later.

Act IV. — Same as Acts I. & II., three weeks later.




SCENE. — The sitting-room of a small bachelor' s flat, several
floors up, overlooking Piccadilly. There is visible a
small entrance hall with an outer door opening on to
the landing and an inner door opening into the sitting-
room. There are some overcoats and hats hanging
on pegs in the entrance hall and an umbrella-stand
with walking-sticks and umbrellas. Nearer at hand
is a door opening into the bedroom. At the back there
is a window which overlooks Piccadilly. There are
some thin curtains drawn over the lower half of this
window. There is on one side of the room a fireplace
with a low fender which one can sit upon with comfort,

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