Hubert Henry Davies.

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MRS. BAXTER {laughing as she turns to mr. baxter).
Isn't he droll ?

MISS ROBERTS. I know what you mean.

TOM. You know. I thought you^d know. Here it
comes SO close to you ; it's so cosy and personal. They've
nothing like our orchards and lawns out there. {Rising
suddenly.) I want to smell the garden.

{He goes to the window.)

MR. BAXTER. No ! Tom, Tom !

MRS. BAXTER. Don't open the window ; we shall all
catch cold.


TOM {laughing, as he comes towards mrs. Baxter).
Dear old Diilcie, same as ever.

MRS. BAXTER {smilifig). All of us are not accustomed
to living in tents and huts and such places.

TOM. What are you going to do with me in the
morning ?

MRS. BAXTER. We might all take a little walk, if it's
a nice day.

TOM. A httle walk !

MRS. BAXTER. If wc'rc not too tired after the excite-
ment of your arrival.

TOM. What time's breakfast ?

MR. BAXTER. Quarter to nine.

MRS. BAXTER. Wc drift down about half-past.

TOM. What ! You've got an English garden, and
it's summer time and you aren't all running about
outside at six o'clock in the morning ?


TOM. You are ? Yes, I thought you would be. You
and I must have a walk before breakfast to-morrow

MISS ROBERTS (smiUng). Very well.

MRS. BAXTER. Don't overdo yourself, Miss Roberts,
before you begin the duties of the day. (To tom.)
Miss Roberts is the children's governess.

TOM. Oh ? {To MISS ROBERTS.) Do you rap them
over the knuckles ? And stick them in the corner ?

MISS ROBERTS {answeHug him in the same spirit of
raillery). Oh, yes — pinch them and slap them and box
their ears.

MRS. BAXTER {leaning forward in her chair, thinking
this may he true). I hope you don't do anything of the
sort. Miss Roberts.

MISS ROBERTS. Oh, no ! not really, Mrs. Baxter.
{She rises.) I think I'll say good-night.

TOM. Don't go to bed yet. Miss Roberts.

MRS. BAXTER {yawniug). It's about time we aU went.

TOM {to MRS. BAXTER). YoU, toO ?

MRS. BAXTER. What time is it ?

TOM {looking at his watch). Twenty minutes past ten.


TOM. Call that late ?

MRS. BAXTER. Ten is our bed-time. {She rises.)


Come along, Miss Roberts ; we shan't be fit for any-
thing in the morning if we don't bustle off to bed.

{She suppresses a yawn.)

MISS ROBERTS. Good-night, Mr. Baxter.

{She shakes hands with him.)

MR. BAXTER. Good-night.

MISS ROBERTS {shaking hands with tom). Good-night.

TOM. Good-night, Miss Roberts ; sleep well.

MISS ROBERTS. I always do.

MRS. BAXTER. Will you give me the magazine off
the table. Miss Roberts, to take upstairs ? (tom goes
to the table and hands the magazine to miss Roberts, who
brings it to mrs. Baxter. To miss Roberts.) You
and I needn't say good-night. We shall meet on the

{Turns over the pages of the magazine.)

MISS ROBERTS. Good-night, everybody.

tom {following MISS Roberts to the foot of the stairs).
Good-night, Miss Roberts, (miss Roberts goes out.)
Nice girl, Miss Roberts.

MRS. BAXTER. She suits me very well.

MR. BAXTER. She says she is going to leave.

TOM. Leave — Miss Roberts mustn't leave !

MRS. BAXTER. I don't think she meant it. Don't
sit up too late, Tom, and don't hurry down in the
morning. Would you like your breakfast in bed ?

TOM {laughing). In bed ?

MRS. BAXTER. I thought you'd be so worn out after
your journey.

TOM. Heavens, no, that's nothing. Good-night,
little sister.

{He kisses her.)

MRS. BAXTER. Good-night, Tom. It's so nice to
see you again. {Then to mr. Baxter.) Try not to
disturb me when you come upstairs. {Speaking through
a yawn as she goes towards the door.) Oh, dear, I'm so

{She goes out.)

MR. BAXTER {smiUng at tom). Well, Tom !

TOM {smiling at mr. Baxter). Well, Dick, how's
everything ? Business pretty good ?


TOM. That's nice.



MR. BAXTER. I don't go into the city every day now,
two or three times a week. I leave my partners to
attend to things the rest of the time — they seem to get
on jnst as well without me.

TOM. I daresay they would. [Taking out his cigarette
case.) I suppose I may smoke ?

MR. BAXTER {doubtfully). Here ?

TOM. Well, don't you smoke here ?

MR. BAXTER. You may. She won't smell it in the
morning, (tom laughs and takes out a cigarette.) Tom,
if ever you get married don't give in to your wife's
weaknesses in the first few days of the honeymoon —
you'll want to then, but don't. It becomes a habit.
What's the use of saying that to you ? I suppose
you'll never marry now.

(He sits down.)

TOM {quite annoyed). Why not ? Why shouldn't I
marry ? I don't see why you think I shan't marry.
How long has she been here ?

{He lights a cigarette.)


TOM. Miss Roberts.


TOM. Weren't we talking of Miss Roberts ?


TOM. Oh, well, we are now.

MR. BAXTER. Shc's bccu hcrc about four years. I'm
so sorry she wants to leave. I don't want her to go
at all.

TOM. Nor do I. Rather nice for you, Dick. A
pretty wife and a pretty governess.

{He nudges him.)

MR. BAXTER. Tom, don't do that.

{He defends himself by putting up his hands.)

TOM. Very well, I won't.

MR. BAXTER {emharrassed and slightly annoyed). Why
do you say that ?

TOM. Only chaffing. {He sees the chess-hoard.) Who's
been playing chess ?

MR. BAXTER. Miss Roberts and I.

TOM. Does Miss Roberts play chess ? I must get
her to teach me — let me see if I can remember any of
the moves. {He sits by the table and moves the chess


men about idly as he talks.) She is far too good to be
your governess.

MR. BAXTER (efithusing) . You've noticed what an
unusual woman she is ?

TOM. Charming !

MR. BAXTER. Isn't she ?

TOM. And so pretty !

MR. BAXTER. Very pretty.

TOM. She'll make a good wife for some man.

MR. BAXTER {reluctantly). I suppose so — some time.

TOM. I should make love to her if I lived in the same

MR. BAXTER. But if you Were married ?

TOM. I'm not !

MR. BAXTER {slowly and thoughtfully). No.

{There is a moment'' s pause. )

TOM. Let's change the subject, and talk about Miss
Roberts. Tell me things about her.

MR. BAXTER. Shc's an orphan.

TOM. Poor girl.

MR. BAXTER. She's no near relations.

TOM. Lucky fellow.

MR. BAXTER. Shc's woudcrful with the children.

TOM. Make a good mother.

MR. BAXTER. And SO nicc, so interesting, so good,
such a companion. I can't find a single fault in her.
She's a woman in a thousand, in a million.

TOM. I say, you'd better not let Dulcie hear you talk
like that.

MR. BAXTER {scriously). I don't, (tom laughs.) I
was only saying that to show you how well she suits us.

TOM. Of course.

MR. BAXTER. How wcll shc suits Dulcic.

TOM. Oh, Dulcie, of course.

MR. BAXTER. I Can't think what Dulcie will do without
her ; she's got so used to her. Miss Roberts waits on
Dulcie hand and foot.

TOM {indignantly). What a shame !

MR. BAXTER. Isn't it ?

TOM. Why should Dulcie be waited on hand and

MR. BAXTER. I don't know. She's so — well, not
exactly ill.


TOM. Ill ? She's as strong as a horse, always was.

MR. BAXTER. Ycs, I Can't rcmcmbcr when she had
anything really the matter with her, but she always
seems so tired — keeps wanting to lie down — she's not
an invalid, she's a

TOM. She's a mollusc.

MR. BAXTER. What's that ?

TOM. Mollusca, subdivision of the animal kingdom.

MR. BAXTER. I know that.

TOM. I don't know if the Germans have remarked
that many mammalia display characteristics commonly
assigned to mollusca. I suppose the scientific explana-
tion is that a mollusc once married a mammal and their
descendants are the human mollusc.

MR. BAXTER {luuch puzzled). What are you talking
about ?

TOM. People who are like a mollusc of the sea, which
clings to a rock and lets the tide flow over its head.
People who spend all their energy and ingenuity in
sticking instead of moving, in whom the instinct for
what I call molluscry is as dominating as an inborn vice.
And it is so catching. Why, one mollusc will infect a
whole household. We all had it at home. Mother was
quite a famous mollusc in her time. She was bedridden
for fifteen years, and then, don't you remember, got up
to Dulcie's wedding, to the amazement of everybody,
and tripped down the aisle as lively as a kitten, and then
went to bed again till she heard of something else she
wanted to go to— a garden party or something. Father,
he was a mollusc, too ; he called it being a conservative ;
he might just as well have stayed in bed, too. Ada,
Charlie, Emmeline, all of them were more or less mollusky
but Dulcibella was the queen. You won't often see
such a fine healthy specimen of a mollusc as Dulcie.
I'm a born mollusc !

MR. BAXTER (surpnsed). You ?

TOM. Yes, I'm energetic now, but only artificially
energetic. I have to be on to myself all the time ; make
myself do things. That's why I chose the vigorous
West, and wander from camp to camp. I made a pile
in Leadville. I gambled it all away. I made another
in Cripple Creek. I gave it away to the poor. If I
made another, I should chuck it away. Don't you see


why ? Give me a competence, nothing to work for,
nothing to worry about from day to day — why I should
become as famous a mollusc as dear old mother was.

MR. BAXTER. Is molluscry the same as laziness ?

TOM. No, not altogether. The lazy flow with the
tide. The mollusc uses forces to resist pressure. It's
amazing the amount of force a mollusc will use, to do
nothing, when it would be so much easier to do some-
thing. It's no fool, you know, it's often the most artful
creature, it wriggles and squirms, and even fights from
the instinct not to advance. There are wonderful things
about molluscry, things to make you shout with laughter,
but it's sad enough, too — it can ruin a life so, not only
the life of the mollusc, but all the lives in the house
where it dwells.

MR. BAXTER. Is there no cure for molluscry ?

TOM. Well, I should say once a mollusc always a
mollusc. But it's like drink, or any other vice. If
grappled with it can be kept under. If left to itself, it
becomes incurable.

MR. BAXTER. Is Dulcic a vcry advanced case ?

TOM. Oh, very ! ! !


TOM. But let us hope not incurable. You know
better than I how far she has gone. Tell me.

MR. BAXTER {seHously). She's certainly getting worse.
For instance, I can remember the time when she would
go to church twice a Sunday, walk there and back ;
now she drives once, and she keeps an extra cushion in
the pew, sits down for the hymns and makes the girls
find her places.

TOM. Do you ever tell her not to mollusc so much ?

MR. BAXTER. I uscd to, but I'vc givcu up now.

TOM. Oh, you must never give up.

MR. BAXTER. The troublc is she thinks she's so very

TOM. Molluscs always think that.

MR. BAXTER. Dulcic thiuks of something to be
done and tells me to do it, and then, by some mental
process, which I don't pretend to grasp, she thinks she's
done it herself. D'you think she does that to humbug

TOM. I believe there's no dividing hne between the


conscious and subconscious thoughts of molluscs. She
probably humbugs herself just as much as she humbugs


TOM. You must be firm with her. The next time
she tells you to do a thing tell her to do it herself.

MR. BAXTER. I tried that. The other day, for
instance, she wanted me to set a mouse-trap in her
dressing-room ; well, I was very busy at the time, and
I knew there were no mice there, so I refused. It meant
getting the cheese and everything.

TOM {trying not to appear amused). Of course. And
what did she say when you refused to set the mouse-trap ?

MR. BAXTER. She began to make me sorry for her ;
she has no end of ways of making me sorr}^ for her, and
I've a very tender heart ; but that day I just didn't care.
I had the devil in me, so I said — set it yourself.

TOM. Bravo.

MR. BAXTER. Wc got quitc uuplcasant over it.

TOM. And which of you set the mouse-trap in the end ?

MR. BAXTER. Miss Robcrts. (tom rises and moves
away to hide his amusement from mr. Baxter.) It's
always like that. She makes Miss Roberts do every-
thing. For instance, Dulcie used to play chess with me
of an evening, now she tells Miss Roberts to. She used
to go walks with me, now she sends Miss Roberts.
Dulcie was never energetic, but we used to have some
good times together ; now I can't get her to go anywhere
or do anything.

TOM. Not very amusing for you.

MR. BAXTER. It docs rather take the fun out of

TOM. How did you come to let her get so bad ?

MR. BAXTER (simply). I fell in love with her. That
put me at her mercy.

{There is a momenVs silence, then tom says with

TOM. / must take her in hand.

MR. BAXTER. I wish you would.

TOM. I'll make her dance.

MR. BAXTER. Don't be hard on her.

TOM. No, but firm. I'll show her what firmness is.
A brother is the best person in the world to undertake


tlio education of a mollusc. His tiriuness will be
tempered Mith affection, and his affection won't be
undermined with sentimentality. 1 shall start in on
Dulcie the first thiui^ to-morrow mornii\i:.

MR. BAXTEK. And uow what do ) ou sa)" to gottini];
our candles ?

TOM (foUiKcin^ MR. BAXTER tozCiirds tfh- sUiirs). Come
along. I'm ready — nuist have a u;ood niijht's rest if
I'm to trickle Dulcie in the n\orniniX. I don't anticipate
any trouble. A woman isn't dithcult to deal with if you
t^ike her the rioht way. Leave her to me. i^ld man.
You just leave her to me !

[I' hey go up the' stairs.)



SCENE. — The same scene on the following morning. The

French windows are wide open, displaying a view of

the garden bathed in sunshine.
MRS. BAXTER is lounglng in an armchair reading a novel.

TOM enters with an enormous hunch of wild flowers,

foxgloves, meadowsweet, etc.

TOM. Look !

MRS. BAXTER. Oh, how pretty ! We must put them
in water. Where's Miss Roberts ?

TOM. In the schoolroom. They are at their lessons.

MRS. BAXTER. Then we must wait. What a pity. I
hope they won't die.

TOM. Is Miss Roberts the only person in this house
who can put these flowers in water ?

MRS. BAXTER. The scrvauts are always busy in the

TOM. Why can't you do it ?

MRS. BAXTER. I havc othcr things to do.

TOM. What ?

MRS. BAXTER. Numcrous things. Do you think a
woman never has anything to do ?

TOM {coming to her and tapping her on the shoulder).
Get up and do them yourself.

MRS, BAXTER {amiably). While you sit still in this
chair. All very fine !

TOM. I'll help you.

MRS. BAXTER {rising lazily). Very w^ell. Bring me
the vases and some water. {She smells the flowers.)

TOM {pointing to two vases on the mantelpiece). Will
these do ?

MRS. BAXTER. Ycs. Get those.

TOM {pointing to another vase on the table). And that.



You must get that one. We will divide the labour.
{He gets the two vases, mrs. Baxter has not stirred.)
Where's yours ?

MRS. BAXTER {smiUng pleasantly). I thought you were
going to get the vases.

TOM. We were going to do this work between us.
Get your vase.

MRS. BAXTER (laugMng). Oh, Tom — what a boy you
are still.

TOM. Why should I get all the vases ? {talking
seriously to her). You know, Dulcie, you'd feel better
if you ran about a little more.

MRS. BAXTER {pleasantly). You'd save time, dear, if
you'd run and get that vase yourself instead of standing
there telling me to.

(tom puts the vases on the table. Then he goes
and takes up the other vase.)

TOM. Oh, very well. It's not worth quarrelling

MRS. BAXTER. No, dou't let US quarrcl the first
morning you are home.

TOM (bringing the vase and putting it before her).
There !

MRS. BAXTER. Thank you, Tom. You'll find a tap
in the wall outside the window and a little watering-can
beside it.

TOM. / got the vases.

MRS. BAXTER. Please bring me the water, Tom.
These poppies are beginning to droop already.

TOM. I won't get the water. You must get it yourself.

MRS. BAXTER {smiUng). Very well. Wait till I go
upstairs and put on my hat.

TOM. To go just outside the window ?

MRS. BAXTER. I Can't go into the hot sun without
a hat.

TOM. Rats !

MRS. BAXTER {seriously). It's not rats. Dr. Ross said
I must never go out in the sun without a hat.

TOM. That much won't hurt you.

MRS. BAXTER. / dou't mind, of course. But you
must take the consequences if I have a sunstroke. Dick
will be furious when he hears I've been out in the sun
without a hat. You wouldn't like me to make Dick


furious, would you, Tom ? (tom touches her and points
to the ivindoii\ then folds his arms. There is a slight pause
zvhih' she icaits for tom to offer to go.) If you think it's
too much trouble to step outside the window I'll go all
the way upstairs for my hat. I suppose all these
pretty flowers will be quite dead by the time I come

TOM (exasperated). Oh, very well, I'll get the water.

{He goes out into the garden.)
MRS. BAXTER (calling). Tiy not to scratch the can,
and be sure you don't leave the tap to dribble.
TOM (outside). Oh, the tap's all right.

(She occupies herself by smelling the flowers, tom
re-enters almost immediately with a little
TOM. Here's the water.

MRS. BAXTER. Thank you, Tom. Work seems like
play when we do it between us. Fill the vases.
TOM. I won't.

(He puts the can on the table.)

MRS. BAXTER. Well, Wait while I go and get an apron.

TOM. You don't want an apron for that.

MRS. BAXTER. I'm uot going to risk spilling the water

all down this dress ; I only put it on so as to look nice

for you. I won't be a minute.

TOM. Stay where you are. (Muttering to himself as
he fills the vases.) An apron to fill three vases. You
might as w^ell put on your boots, or get an umbrella or a

(He is about to set the can on the floor.)
MRS. BAXTER (quicMy). Dou't put it on the carpet.
Put it on the gravel outside.

TOM. Put it on the gravel yourself.

(tom holds the can for her to take. She elaborately
begins to wind a handkerchief round her right
MRS. BAXTER. It's no use both of us wetting our

(tom grumbling goes to the window and pitches the
can outside.)
TOM. Now I hope I've scratched the can, and I'm
sorry I didn't leave the tap to dribble.

MRS. BAXTER. Naughty, naughty. Do you remember


Tom, when we were all at home together, you always did
the flowers ?

TOM. I'm not going to do them now.
MRS. BAXTER. You did them so tastefully. No one
could do flowers like you. I remember Aunt Lizzie
calling one day and saying if we hired a florist to arrange
our flowers we couldn't have got prettier effects than
you got.

TOM. Get on with those flowers.

MRS. BAXTER. When I did the flowers, Mamma used
to say the drawing-room used to look like a rubbish

TOM (loudly). Get on with those flowers.
MRS. BAXTER. I should SO like Miss Roberts to see the
way you can arrange flowers.

TOM. Get on

MRS. BAXTER {wheedHug him). Do arrange one vase —
only one, just to show Miss Roberts.

TOM (weakening). Well, only one. You must do the
other two.

(He begins to put the flowers in water, mrs.
BAXTER watches him a moment, then she sinks
into the handiest armchair.)
MRS. BAXTER (after a slight pause). How well you
do it.

TOM (suddenly realising the situation). No, no, I won't.
(He flings the flowers on the table.) Oh, you are artful.
You've done nothing ; I've done everything ; I got the
flowers, the vases, the water — everything, and now not
another stalk will I touch. I don't care if they die ;
their blood will be on your head, not mine.

(He sits down and folds his arms. A pause.)
MRS. BAXTER (serenely). If you won't talk, I may as
well go on reading my novel. It's on the table beside
you. Would you mind passing it ?
TOM. Yes, I would.
MRS. BAXTER. Throw it.
TOM. I shan't.

MRS. BAXTER. I thought you'd cheer us up when you
came home, but you just sit in my chair doing nothing.
TOM (turning on her and saying gravely). Dulcie, it
grieves me very much to see you such a mollusc.
MRS. BAXTER. What's a mollusc ?


TOM. You are.

MRS. BAXTER (puzzlcd). A niollusc ? (Gaily.) Oh, I
know, one of those pretty httle creatures that hve in the
sea — or am I thinking of a sea anemone ?

TOM. It's dreadful to see a strong healthy woman
so idle.

MRS. BAXTER (genuinely amazed). I idle ? Oh, you're

TOM. What are you doing but idling now ? (Ap-
proaching her and saying roughly.) Get up, and do those
flowers. Get out of that chair this minute.

MRS. BAXTER (rising and smiling). I was only waiting
for you. I thought we were going to do the flowers

TOM. No, we won't do them together ; if we do them
together I shall be doing them by myself before I know
where I am.

(He sits again.)

MRS. BAXTER. I dou't Call that fair, to promise to help
me with the flowers, and then just to sit and watch. I
don't think Colorado is improving you. You've become
so lazy and underhand.

TOM (indignantly). What do you mean ?

MRS. BAXTER. What I mean to say is, you undertook
to help me with the flowers, and now you try to back
out of it. Perhaps you call that sharp in America, but
in England we should call it unsportsmanlike.

TOM (picking up the flowers and throwing them down
disgustedly). Oh, why did I ever go and gather all this
rubbish ?

(mr. BAXTER enters and comes down the stairs.)

MR. BAXTER. Half-past eleven, dear.

MRS. BAXTER. Thank you, dear.

TOM. Half-past eleven, dear — thank you, dear —
what does that mean ?

MR. BAXTER. Luuch.

TOM. Already ?

MR. BAXTER. Not real lunch.

MRS. BAXTER. We always have cake and milk in the
dining-room at half-past eleven. We think it breaks up
the morning more. Aren't you coming ?

TOM. Cake and milk at half-past eleven ; what an
idea ! No, thank you.


MRS. BAXTER. I shall be glad of the chance to sit
down. I've had a most exhausting morning.

{She goes out.)

MR. BAXTER. Havc you been taking her in hand ?

TQM {pretending not to comprehend). I beg your
pardon ?

MR. BAXTER. You Said you were going to take her in
hand, first thing this morning.

TOM. Oh, yes, so I did. So I have done — in a way —
not seriously, of course — not the first morning.

MR. BAXTER. You Said you were going to show her
what firmness was.

TOM. Well, so I did, but never having had any
firmness from you, she doesn't know it when she sees
it. (mr. BAXTER is obout to put some of the flowers in
a vase.) What are you doing ?

MR. BAXTER. They're dying for want of water.

TOM. But I said she must put them in water herself.

MR. BAXTER. Oh, I scc, discipline.

TOM. Exactly.

MR. BAXTER. What happened ?

TOM {pointing to the flowers). Can't you see what's
happened ? There they are still. {Angrily.) We've
spent hours wrangling over those damned flowers. It
may seem paltry to make such a fuss over anything so
trivial, but it's the principle of the thing ; if I give in
at the start, I shall have to give in to the finish.

MR. BAXTER. Like me.

TOM. Yes, like you. When she comes back from
the dining-room, I'll make her do those flowers herself if
I have to stand over her all the morning.

MR. BAXTER {looking at TOM with admiration). That's
the spirit. If only I had begun like that the very first
morning of our honeymoon.

TOM {with great determination). I'll stand no nonsense.
She shall do the flowers herself.

(miss ROBERTS enters.)

MISS ROBERTS. Mrs. Baxtcr sent me to do the flowers.
{She comes immediately to the table and begins
putting the flowers in water, tom and mr.
BAXTER look at each other.)

TOM {to him). Shall I tell her not to ?

MR. BAXTER. Then Dulcie will tell her she is to.


TOM. Then we shall have to humiliate Dulcie before
Miss Roberts.


TOM. I don't want to do that.


TOM. I'm not giving in.


TOM. Don't gloat.

MR. BAXTER. I'm not gloating.

TOM. You are. You're gloating because I've had
to give in the way you always do.

MISS ROBERTS {to MR. BAXTER). The girls have been
asking if I thought they could have a half-holiday in
honour of their uncle's arrival.

MR. BAXTER. I don't See why not.

MISS ROBERTS. If you think they'd be in the way, I
might take them off to the woods for the day.


MISS ROBERTS. I thought as it's SO fine we might
take our lunch with us, and have a picnic.
TOM. Why don't we all go a picnic ?

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