Hubert Henry Davies.

The plays of Hubert Henry Davies (Volume 2) online

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[He is nearly at the bedroom door when hugh
speaks again.)
HUGH. Have you been having any more flutters on
the Stock Exchange ?

TAYLOR. No, sir. Only that one. I ventured fifty
pounds and by the kindness of Mr. Sherwood increased
it to a hundred. That's more than a year ago.

HUGH. I should have thought your experience would
encourage you to try again.

TAYLOR. I own it made me feel a little giddy, — for
the moment, but when I told my vnie what we had made
she was not at all pleased.
HUGH. Wasn't she ?

TAYLOR. Not at all, sir. On the contrary. She was
greatly put about. She said fluttering might be a safe
enough pastime for gentlemen, but not for people like
us and that I ought to know better. I have never seen
my wife in such a taking in all the thirty years that
we've been married. We almost had words — till I
promised to stick to the savings bank in future, which
I mean to do.

GEOFFREY. Don't wastc time, Taylor. I want those
things put away.

(TAYLOR goes into the bedroom as soon as geoffrey
speaks. He leaves the door open behind him.)


HUGH. Be sure you let me know, Geoffrey, if you want
me to do anything more for you about Miriam's business.
GEOFFREY. All right. Thanks. Good-bye.

{He shakes hands with hugh to get rid of him, and
as HUGH goes out Geoffrey looks at his watch
and then towards the bedroom door. He is
evidently labouring under great agitation. He
takes a cigarette from a box then goes somewhere
else to get a match and lights it and keeps glancing
towards the bedroom door.)

{Re-enter taylor from the bedroom. He closes the
door behind him.)
GEOFFREY. Don't come up again unless I ring.
TAYLOR. No, sir.

(taylor crosses towards the entrance hall. He is
nearly there when geoffrey speaks again.)
GEOFFREY. I don't Want any one to come up unless
I ring.

TAYLOR. I will see that nobody comes up, sir.

(taylor closes both the doors after him as he goes
out. GEOFFREY movcs aimlcssly about for a
moment or two, smoking, then sits down. No
sooner has he sat down than he gets up again,
goes and opens the inner door of the entrance
and sets it wide open, then he sits down again,
somewhere else, and smokes. Almost immedi-
ately he is up again. He goes to the window
and looks down into the street. Then he comes
to the table, opens a drawer in it, and takes
out some joss-sticks. He lights these and puts
them in a pot on the mantelpiece to burn. He
looks at his watch again then wanders about
smoking his cigarette and looking at his flowers.
He is re-arranging the position of one of the
vases when the entrance bell rings. He throws
his cigarette into the grate and at once goes and
opens the outer door of the entrance.)

{Enter valentine. She is plainly dressed in quiet
colours and wears a veil over her face. She
walks straight in without greeting geoffrey,
who shuts the outer door and locks it as soon
as VALENTINE has passed through it. Then,
without noticing her, he goes to the window and


pulls the curtains right across it. While he
is doing this valentine raises her veil. He
then comes straight towards her. She goes
towards him. They throw their arms round
one another and stand locked in a close embrace
•with their lips joined for several moments. They
look in each other'' s eyes and still cling to each
other zvhen they speak.)
GEOFFREY. My darling.

VALENTINE. I love you, Geoffrey ; I love you.
GEOFFREY. I know it at last : now that you've come
to give yourself to me.

VALENTINE. I'm yours, absolutely — my darling.
GEOFFREY. My dear one — my girl — my beautiful
Valentine. {Then the entrance bell rings.) {They move
apart and then stand looking at each other and listening.
After a moment or two geoffrey signs to valentine to
stay where she is and keep quiet. Then he goes on tiptoe
to the outer door and listens, valentine watches him.
After he has listened for a moment or two he appears
reassured. He comes into the room and softly closes the
inner door. Then he comes towards valentine. They
speak in low tones.) I heard steps going away. I expect
it was only some one with a parcel or a telegram or some-
thing. No one else is likely to come up.

VALENTINE {olmost in a whisper). I thought it was
my husband.

GEOFFREY. But he isn't in London.


GEOFFREY. Then how could he follow you here ?

VALENTINE. He Couldn't, of course. It's silly of me,
but I can't help feehng as if every one knows what
I'm doing. All the way here I felt as if every man and
woman I passed in the street knew where I was going.

GEOFFREY {smiUng at her). That's only because it's
the first time.

VALENTINE. But I'vc bccu hcrc before and not felt
like that. {Stops when she sees Geoffrey's smile and
smiles a little herself as she says.) Oh — I see what you
mean, (geoffrey goes towards her to take her in his
arms, but she holds up her hand in a very engaging
manner to stop him, smiling at him as she says.) Wait
a minute.


{She then takes off her hat and veil and lays them
on the table.)

GEOFFREY {speaking while valentine is taking off
her hat and veil). Your hair ! Your beautiful hair ! I
always loved your hair.

(valentine comes to him smiling. He puts his
arm around her and leads her gently to the
sofa, where they sit down close together with
their hands locked in each other^s as they talk.)

GEOFFREY. Do you feel at your ease now, Valentine ?
Are you happy ?

VALENTINE. I'm happy to be with you again, Geoffrey.

GEOFFREY. No qualms ?

VALENTINE {slowly). Of conscieuce ?

GEOFFREY {hurriedly). No, no. I didn't mean that.
I meant, are you still in a fright lest any one should come
and ring the bell ?

VALENTINE. No, dear — not if you say it's all right.

GEOFFREY. There's no one there now. I heard some
one walk away. If it was a messenger boy or some one
from a shop, they'd ring once and then, if nobody came
to the door, go and leave whatever it was downstairs.
That's what's happened.

VALENTINE. I scc. {After a momentary pause.) I
thought you meant, have I any qualms about what I'm

GEOFFREY. It isu't wroug for you and me. You were
mine first. You were my girl before you were his. And
you know I wouldn't have persuaded you to come back
to me if you hadn't left him already. You told me you
never would live with him again.

VALENTINE. I put up with him for as long as I could.
I tried to make the best of things — but I think it's
degrading to live with a man as his wife without loving

GEOFFREY. Poor Valentine !

VALENTINE. Mother tried to arrange for us still to
live under the same roof, but he wouldn't agree to that.
He said he expected his wife to be his wife.

GEOFFREY. I don't kuow that I can blame him.

VALENTINE. I didn't realise until after I was married
the mistake I was making, because I didn't realise till
then how dearly I love you. And when you came to


see me the other day — we both realised — didn't we —
how greatly we need each other ? Is it right to refuse
happiness and life when they call us and bid us enjoy
ourselves ?

GEOFFREY. No, dear, no. Only fools do that. We'll
live and be happy, you and I. {He touches her hair as he
says.) Such lovely hair ! I always thought so, even
when you wore it in a pigtail.

VALENTINE {smUing at him). I never wore my hair in
a pigtail.

GEOFFREY. Oh, Valentine ! How can you say such a
thing ?


GEOFFREY. I cau provc it.


GEOFFREY. I took a suapshot of you once — running.


GEOFFREY. That time you came to stay with us for
your summer holidays. Do you want to see it ?

VALENTINE. Havc you got it ? (GEOFFREY secks and
produces an unmounted snapshot, smiling all the zvhile.
VALENTINE riscs and goes to him as she says.) Let me
look at it.

{She slips her arm through his and they stand close
together side by side looking at the photograph
which he holds, and smiling.)

GEOFFREY. What's that thing flying out behind if it
isn't a pigtail ?

VALENTINE {laugMng as she looks at it). That tam-o'-
shanter and those boots !

GEOFFREY {drawing the snapshot away from her). I
won't have her laughed at.

VALENTINE {putting out her hand to take it). Let me
have it back.

GEOFFREY {putting it out of her reach). What for ?

VALENTINE. It's SO hideous. {Tries to grab it.)

GEOFFREY. No. {Stcps back and holds it in his hands
behind his back. They are both laughing a little.)

VALENTINE. You havc plenty more pictures of me.

GEOFFREY. I wouldu't part with this one for the world.
{Takes out his pocket-book. Puts the snapshot carefully
inside and replaces his pocket-book in the pocket of his
coat.) And I haven't got any more pictures of you.


VALENTINE. What's become of them all ?

{They become serious and both smile rather sadly

and wistfully during Geoffrey's next speech.)

GEOFFREY. There was a bonfire. Everything went

on to it : photographs, letters, flowers, Christmas cards,

New Year cards, birthday cards

VALENTINE. I Can't remember ever sending you a
birthday card.

GEOFFREY. On my twentieth birthday.
VALENTINE. Poor Gcoffrcy ! I'll do everything in my
power now to make it up to you. Oh, what a fool I
was to ever let you go !

{She throws her arms round him and presses herself
against him.)
GEOFFREY {putting Ms arms round her). You can't get
on without me, any more than I can get on without you.
We've both tried. {Then the entrance bell rings.) {They
move back but still hold each other as they look at each
other and listen. Then Geoffrey leaves her and goes up
noiselessly as far as the inner door, where he stands and
listens, valentine stays where she is and watches him.
He turns to her and with gestures motions her to move
to the other side of the room so as to be out of sight if
he should open the door, valentine, understanding his
meaning, goes across the room. Geoffrey opens the inner
door quietly a few inches and listens without going
outside, then quietly closes the door again and goes towards
valentine. He speaks in a low voice.) Nobody can
hear us in here if we keep our voices low.

valentine. I don't think mother can possibly know
I've come here. She has no suspicions of you and me.
I don't believe she knew when I went out, I didn't tell
her I was going. I didn't want to see her. I didn't
want to have to tell her lies.

{There is a few moments^ silence after valentine

has finished speaking, and then the entrance bell

rings again. They both turn quickly towards

the door, then look at each other, then listen.

There is a considerable pause before geoffrey,

leaning across the table, speaks to valentine.)

GEOFFREY. If it should cvcr be discovered that we

meet, would you have the courage to come away with

me ?



GEOFFREY (glauces towards the door before he continues
rapidly). Yesterday I had an offer made me to go and
take charge of a large busmess in Buenos Ayres. Of
course I refused it


GEOFFREY. You'd Said you'd come here to-day.
VALENTINE. Am I preventing you taking something
you ought not to miss ? Was it a great chance for you ?
GEOFFREY. It was vciy good — but that doesn't
matter, I'm doing very well indeed here. I refused
their offer, as I said — but they seem so keen for me to
accept it, they told me it should be left open for me until
to-morrow. {Pauses before he says.) Wouldn't it be
better to accept and for you and me to go out there and
live together always ?

{The entrance bell rings three distinct times in rapid
succession. At the first two peals of the bell they
both sit perfectly still, staring at each other. At
the third they both rise together instinctively.)
{There is a distinct pause after the third peal before
Miriam's voice is heard outside raised in protest
and pleading. All her words need not be heard.)
MIRIAM. No, no. Let me be. I'm doing no harm.
I was only ringing his bell. I wasn't making a disturb-
ance, I wasn't annoying any one. No, no. Don't push
me away. Don't push me away, etc.

(taylor's voice is also heard, but none of his words

are recognisable.)
{The following scene passes very rapidly between
GEOFFREY and VALENTINE wMlc the disturbance
is going on outside.)
GEOFFREY {as soou as miriam's voice is heard exclaims).
Miriam !

VALENTINE. Let her in. She'U rouse the whole
building, she'll draw a crowd.

(GEOFFREY crosscs quickly to his bedroom door and
opens it.)
GEOFFREY. Go in thcrc.

VALENTINE. No. I'm uot goiug to be caught there.
{She turns to the table, picks up her hat and veil and puts
them on her head as she says.) I've been seen here like
this before. {She seats herself as she says.) Let her in.


(GEOFFREY TUTis towards the entrance leaving the bedroom
door open. When he is nearly at the entrance valentine
exclaims suddenly.) Wait. {He stops and turns to her.
She rises and runs to the bedroom door and shuts it, then
runs back to her chair and sits as she says.) Now.

(GEOFFREY opcns the inner door and then unlocks

the outer door and opens it.)
{Enter miriam. She looks haggard and desperate
but is exceedingly smartly dressed. She turns
round in the entrance and enters the room back-
wards, with her hands out in front of her, pro-
testing, so that she does not see valentine.)
(taylor only appears in the hall, Geoffrey remains
near the inner door.)
MIRIAM {vociferating first to taylor and then to Geof-
frey as she enters). No, no, no, no ! Don't touch me.
Leave me alone. I wasn't going to make a disturbance.
I was ringing the bell and waiting there till you came,
Geoffrey — till you came and opened the door. I haven't
come here to make trouble. I was standing there quite
quietly when he came and tried to make me go away.
He took hold of me, Geoffrey. He tried to push me

away. He

{She has backed as far as the table. When she

comes into collision with that she turns and

sees valentine sitting calm and apparently

unmoved in her chair, miriam gives a violent

start and then drops her arms by her sides. She

supports herself from falling by placing her hand

on the table, and then stands motionless and

speechless, staring in front of her. Geoffrey

disrnisses taylor with a gesture. Exit taylor,

closing the outer door after him. Geoffrey

closes the inner door and then stands staring at

MIRIAM till she speaks.)

MIRIAM. I didn't know you had any one with you.

{She looks at valentine before she says.) There's nothing

to fear from me. {To Geoffrey.) Once upon a time I

threatened you. I told you that if I could ever prove

anything there'd be trouble. I want you to know that

I only said that in my excitement. I wouldn't really

hurt you, nor any one you love, (geoffrey sits down

on the sofa still staring at miriam. miriam pauses before


she proceeds.) I've come on a matter of business, as I
wanted to see you — not Hugh. {She then opens her hag
and fumbles in it while she says.) I called here a few
minutes ago and rang the bell. But there was no
answer, so I went away. I'd got as far as Piccadilly
Circus when I stopped and turned back again. I thought
I might as well have another try instead of going all
the way home. {She turns to valentine and says to her
most politely.) I must apologise for having made such
a commotion. {She then produces from her hag a several-
times-folded cheque, carefully unfolds it then holds it towards
GEOFFREY.) What's this ?

GEOFFREY {without offering to take the cheque). It's the
cheque I asked Hugh to give you to be going on ^v-ith.
I thought you might run short.

MIRIAM. Keep it. {She still holds it towards him, hut
as he does not offer to take it, she lets it flutter to the ground
at his feet.) I don't want it, and I don't want any of your
settlements or allowances or whatever it was Hugh called
them — either. So long as you kept me with you and
made me feel I was worth the expense — I was glad
enough to help you spend your money. But I've no
wish to be a burden, now that you've got no further use
for me.

GEOFFREY. You know I Can well afford it, and that I
want to do whatever I can for you.

MIRIAM {indifferently). I daresay you do.

GEOFFREY. Then why be so proud ?

MIRIAM. I once asked you that question, and you
made answer — that it wasn't only your pride which
prevented you accepting my love. You said it was
something more than that. You said it was your self-
respect. It isn't only pride which prevents me accepting
your money. It's something more. {She pauses before
she says.) Do you remember the very first time that
ever I came up here ? (geoffrey nods his head.) You
offered me money then. But I told you — if you recollect
— that I'd rather you didn't give me anything — if you
wouldn't mind, as I wanted to feel as if I'd been your
pal. It's the same still.

VALENTINE {kindly). But if you won't accept his help,
what will you do in the future ?

MTRTAM {vaguely). The future ! I'm one of those who


never troubled much about the future. I wasn't brought
up that way. I've long since become accustomed to
living from day to day. " A hand-to-mouth existence "
I think they call it. I've got my furniture — and some
good clothes, and some jewels he gave me from time
to time. When I've spent those, there's always two
courses open to me.

VALENTINE (echoes). Two ?

MIRIAM {as if looking far azvay in front of her). The
river is always flowing under the bridges. {She closes
her eyes, then puts her hand to her head and reels slightly as
she says faintly.) Oh, I've come all over queer. {Drops
her hand and says to Geoffrey.) I'm afraid I must ask
you to let me lie down.

GEOFFREY {rising). Come and lie down on my bed.
{He crosses to his bedroom door, opens it and goes
out leaving the door open.)
MIRIAM {to valentine). It's the want of food.
VALENTINE {cchocs). The want of food ?
MIRIAM. I've had no appetite of late. {Trying to
speak lightly she says with a strange little laugh.) I'm
like a dog who's lost his master — can't eat.

{Assisting herself by the edge of the table she goes
slowly towards the bedroom door. When she is
about to pass in front of valentine she falls on
the floor in a dead faint and lies perfectly still
at valentine's /ee^.)
(valentine sits in her chair, staring at miriam. //

never occurs to her to do anything.)
(GEOFFREY comcs in from the bedroom and, taking
the situation in at a glance, stoops down beside
MIRIAM, picks her up in his arms, and carries
her into his bedroom.)
(valentine watches everything he does, but she does
not otherwise move. When geoffrey and
MIRIAM have gone out valentine sits rigidly
still for a moment staring in front of her. Then
her breast heaves, her face relaxes, and she sobs.)
(GEOFFREY appears at his bedroom door ; but he
does not leave the threshold.)
GEOFFREY. Shc's Only fainted. She's coming round.
Will you please get me some brandy ? You'll find it in
the cupboard in the sideboard.


(GEOFFREY retires into the bedroom, valentine

rises, opens the sideboard cupboard door, takes

out the brandy decanter and pours some brandy

into a tumbler which she finds on the top of the

sideboard. She does all this fumbling because

of her agitation and also because she does not

know the sideboard. She does not appear to be

crying except that from time to time a sob

escapes her. She crosses quickly to the bedroom

with the tumbler in her hand, disappears for a

moment, then reappears beginning to cry.)

(GEOFFREY re-cntcrs from the bedroom and stands

near the threshold, looking gravely at valentine

as she cries. They go towards each other when

she speaks, but do not stand near together.

valentine's whole speech is broken with sobs.)

VALENTINE. I'm not crying for that poor girl. It's

my husband. I know how he feels now — hurt and

abandoned and forlorn, but he can't put his grief into

words. He never could express himself properly. I

heard from him only this morning, such a dull stupid

letter it was. He told me how many trout he'd caught,

and what the weather was like. I can see him now,

wandering along the bank of the stream, stopping to

cast his line, hooking his fish, landing it — ^\^th his

heart breaking. {She pauses to press her handkerchief to

her eyes before she continues.) I never gave him a fair

chance. He was very kind. He was really kind to

me always, but he was tactless and he bored me, so I

grew impatient and then angry, until at last I refused

to see any good in him at all, because I compared him

with you. I scorned him, but I took his name, and I

spent his money ; I'm using them both still. I'm going

back to him.

GEOFFREY. I'vc been trying to persuade myself that
I am under no obligation to Miriam — that I have under-
taken no responsibility because I have made her no
promises. I'm wrong. I am responsible for what I have
made of her. I mustn't drag her out of the depths,
encourage her to do her best, then leave her to go back
to where she came from. I ought never to have helped
her to rise at all if I wasn't prepared to see her through.
I ought to have left her alone.


VALENTINE. Life is so hard for all of us, so hard and
so unfair.

GEOFFREY. We don't quite know why we're on the
earth, and we none of us know for how long, but I
think we'll be glad when we're old, or when death
comes, if we can say we played the game— though it
tear the hearts out of our bodies now. {He has a move-
ment away to regain his self-control before he says.) I
don't know Sir John Morland, I've seen him but I
never was introduced to him, but I know he's an honest
upright man who has done his duty to his country — and
it's more important that his home should hold together
and that his marriage should remain intact and that
Miriam should be saved — ^than that you and I should be

VALENTINE. I'm Weak — I always have been weak.
I look back in vain for a sign of strength in anything I've
dono. I loved you and promised to marry you and then
I broke my word. I promised to love and honour him and
again I broke my word. And now I haven't the courage
to stick to you at all cost. Is it worth while even trying
to make anything of myself ?

GEOFFREY {with quiet confidence). You'll try.

VALENTINE. I shall try, but (Pauses.)

GEOFFREY (as before). You'll succeed.

VALENTINE. Do you belicvc in me ?


VALENTINE. Will you think of me as doing the best I
can in the midst of great difficulties ?


VALENTINE. Good-bye, Geoffrey.

GEOFFREY. Good-byc, Valentine — for ever.

VALENTINE. For evcr. [She puts her arms round his
neck and draws his face down to hers. They kiss each
other — rather as children kiss each other. Then valentine
draws back and lowers her veil over her face. While
she is doing this geoffrey goes up and opens the inner
door and then the outer door, looks out along the passage,
then turns and nods to valentine, valentine walks
out without pausing or looking at geoffrey as she jjasses
him. GEOFFREY looks after her along the passage, and
then slowly closes the outer door. He comes back into the
room and closes the inner door. He goes and stands in


front of one of the vases of flowers, smells them, then goes
to the "window and draws the curtains right back.)

{Enter miriam from the bedroom. She is pale and
looks weak and tired. Geoffrey turns when he
hears her enter.)

MIRIAM. I'm well enough to go home now.

GEOFFREY. You'd better stay a little while longer and

MIRIAM. I think I shall be all right if I have a taxi.

GEOFFREY. Sit down for a few minutes. I'm sure you
oughtn't to go yet.

MIRIAM. You're all alone ?

GEOFFREY. Yes, I'm all alone.

MIRIAM. Very well. For a few minutes. {She sits
in the chair he has offered her.)

GEOFFREY. Take off your hat and lean your head
back. {While she slowly takes off her hat which she
afterwards holds in her lap, geoffrey sits at some distance
from her.) {There is a long pause before he speaks.) I'm
going away, Miriam.


GEOFFREY. Out of England. Out of Europe. I'm
going to Buenos Ayres.

MIRIAM {echoes). Buenos Ayres ?

GEOFFREY. To-morrow I must make arrangements
with a firm in the city who want me to go out there
and take charge of their business for them. I shall live
out there. I might come to London occasionally — for
a visit — but I shall make my home in Buenos Ayres.
{Pauses before he says.) You'd better come with me.
{He pauses again, but as miriam neither moves nor speaks
he continues.) You can come as my wife if you like.

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Online LibraryHubert Henry DaviesThe plays of Hubert Henry Davies (Volume 2) → online text (page 21 of 22)