Hubert Henry Davies.

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MR. BAXTER. Nothing is confessed or understood ; I
don't see that Miss Roberts is in any danger.

TOM. She is alone. She has no confidant, no friend,
no outlet for the natural desires of youth, for love, for
some one to love. She finds you sympathetic — you
know the rest.

MR. BAXTER. It is jcalousy that is at the bottom of
your morality.


TOM. It won't do, Dick. It's a most awful state of

MR. BAXTER. If you think that, I wonder you stay

TOM. Very well, if you mean I ought to clear out.

[He goes towards the door.)

MR. BAXTER {following after tom). No, Tom. Look
here, I didn't mean that ; but you see, you and I can't
discuss this without losing our tempers, so if your visit
to us is to continue mutually pleasant, as I hope it will,
we'd better avoid the topic in future.

TOM. Then you mean to keep Miss Roberts here
indefinitely, — compromised ?

MR. BAXTER. It's uo usc goiug ovcr the ground ; we
don't see things from the same point of view, so don't
let us go on discussing. {He goes up the stairs and then
turns to TOM.) Tom, you might trust me.

(MR. BAXTER goes OUt.)

(tom remains in deep thought, then suddenly makes
a determined movement, then stops and sighs.
MISS ROBERTS enters from the garden. She
hesitates timidly when she sees him.)

MISS ROBERTS. Mrs. Baxter sent me to get her

TOM. Where is my sister ?

MISS ROBERTS. Sitting in the garden.

{She takes up the magazine and is going out again.)

TOM. I (miss ROBERTS stops.) I — Want to tell

you something.

miss ROBERTS. I Can't stay.

TOM. I ask you as a great favour to me to hear me.

MISS ROBERTS. I ought not to stay.

TOM. I didn't think you'd refuse me when I asked
you like that.

MISS ROBERTS {hesitating). I can't stay long.

TOM. Won't you sit down while I tell you ? {He
indicates a chair, miss Roberts comes to the chair and
sits.) I want to tell you about myself, and my life in

MISS ROBERTS {ucrvously). I don't tliink I can stay
if it's just to talk and hear stories of Colorado.

TOM {smiling). Did you have enough of my stories
this morning ?


MISS ROBERTS. Oh, no, I was quite interested in what
you said, but I

TOM. You were interested. I knew it by your eyes.
Why, you even thought you'd like to go there yourself
some time.

MISS ROBERTS. I've changed my mind. I've quite
given up that idea now.

TOM. You'd like it out there. I'm sure you would ;
it's a friendly country ; no one cares who you are, but
only what you are, so you soon make friends. That's
right. That gives every one a chance, and it's good in
this way, it makes a man depend on himself, it teaches
him to think clearly and decide quickly ; in fact he has
to keep wide awake if he wants to succeed. That's the
kind of training I've had. I've been from mining camp
to mining camp — I've tried my luck in half the camps
in California and Colorado. Sometimes it was good,
sometimes bad, but take it altogether, I've done well.
{Making the next point clearly and delicately.) I've got
something saved up, and I can always make good money,
anywhere west of Chicago. (Laughing.) Now I'm talking
like a true American ; they always begin by telling you
how much they've got. You'll forgive me, won't you ?
It's force of habit. Now what was I saying ? (Seriously.)
We learn to decide quickly in everything ; you find me
somewhat abrupt ; it's only that. I make up my mind
all at once, and once it's made up, that's finished — I
don't change. (Hesitating slightly.) The first time I saw
you I made up my mind — I said that's the girl for me,
that's the girl I want for my wife. (Leans towards her.)
Will you be my wife ?

MISS ROBERTS (rising and very much moved and dis-
tressed). Oh, no, I can't. I didn't know that was
coming, or I wouldn't have listened, I wouldn't indeed.

TOM (following her). I've been too abrupt. I warned
you I was like that : I make up my mind I want some-
thing, and the next thing is, I go straight away and ask
for it. That's too quick for you. You want time to
think — well, take time to think it over, (miss Roberts
turns to him quickly.) Don't tell me yet ; there's no
hurry. I'm not going back for a month or two.

MISS ROBERTS. I'm vcry much obliged to you for
asking me to marry you, but I can't.


TOM. Never ?

MISS ROBERTS. No, ncvcr ! I don't think so.
TOM. Pih ? That sounds Hke hope.
MISS ROBERTS (quickly). I didn't mean it to sound
Hke hope.

TOM. It didn't seem that way last evening when we
were talking about the forests and the mountains, and
I was telling you how it felt to be back — or this morning
when we were getting flowers, or afterwards when we
sat here, while they were eating their cake and milk ; it
seemed to me we were getting on famously.

MISS ROBERTS (appealingly). Oh, please don't go on.
I can't bear it. You only distress me. {She sobs.)

TOM. Oh ! {Pausing and looking at her, he sees that
she means it and is really distressed.) I'm sorry.

{He goes out abruptly, miss Roberts is weeping
bitterly, mr. Baxter enters. He comes down-
stairs towards her and looks down at her with
affectionate concern, miss Roberts does not
notice his presence till he speaks.)
MR. BAXTER. What is it ?

miss ROBERTS {trying to control her sobs). Nothing.
MR. BAXTER. You are in trouble. You are in great
trouble — can't you tell me ? — can't I do anything ?


MR. BAXTER. Wouldn't it do you good to tell some-
body ? Don't you want some one to tell it all to ?

Miss ROBERTS. I Want {She f alters.)

MR. BAXTER. What is it you want ?
MISS ROBERTS. I think I want a mother.

{The effort of saying this brings on her tears
afresh ; she stands weeping bitterly, mr.
BAXTER puts his arm about her and draws her
gently to him. She yields herself naturally and
sobs on his shoulder, mr. Baxter murmurs
and soothes her.)
MR. BAXTER. Poor child ! Poor child ! {While they
are in this sentimental position tom and mrs. Baxter
appear at the window. They see mr. Baxter and miss
ROBERTS, but are unseen by them, miss Roberts dis-
engages herself from mr. Baxter and goes out sobbing
without perceiving tom and mrs. Baxter, mr. Baxter
watches miss Roberts off, then turns and sees mrs.


BAXTER for the first tirne ; he becomes very embarrassed
under her steady disapproving eyes. To mrs. Baxter.)
Do you want me to explain ?

MRS. BAXTER (coldly). Not at present, thank you,

MR. BAXTER. I was Only

MRS. BAXTER. Not now. I prefer to consider my
position carefully before expressing my astonishment
and indignation.

MR. BAXTER. Well, if you won't let me explain

{He turns to the window and sees tom. He looks
appealingly at him. tom ignores him and
walks past him. mr. Baxter shrugs his
shoulders and goes out through the window.)

MRS. BAXTER. I don't know which of them I feel
angriest with.

TOM. Dick, of course.

MRS. BAXTER (tearfully). For thirteen years no man
has ever kissed me, — except you, — and Dick, — and Uncle
Joe, — and Dick's brothers, — and old Mr. Redmayne,
— and the Dean when he came back from the Holy Land.
(Working herself into a rage.) I'll never speak to Dick
again. I'll bundle Miss Roberts out of the house at once.

TOM. Do it discreetly. Send her away certainly, but
don't do anything hastily.

MRS. BAXTER. I'm uot the woman to put up with that
sort of thing.

TOM (persuasively). Don't be hard on her; don't be
turning her into the street ; make it look as if she
were going on a holiday. Pack her off somewhere with
the children for a change of air, this afternoon.

MRS. BAXTER. It's most iuconvcnient ; everything
will be upside down. (Calming herself, she sits in an
armchair.) You're right. I mustn't be too hasty ;
better wait a few days, till the end of the term, or even
till we come home from the seaside, then pack her off.
(Pause.) Unless it blows over.

TOM (astonished and going to her quickly). Blows
over ! It won't blow over while she^s in the house.
(Very seriously.) You're up against a serious crisis. Take
warning from what you saw and save your home from
ruin. (mrs. Baxter, awed and impressed by this, listens
attentively.) You've grown so dependent on Miss


Roberts, you've almost let her slip into your place ; if
you want to keep Diek, you must begin an altogether

dil'fercnt life, not to-morrow (mrs Baxter shakes

her head.) Not next week (mrs. Baxter shakes

her head again.) Now ! (mrs. Baxter's face betraijs
her discontent at the unattractive prospect he offers her.)
You be his companion, you play chess with him, you go
walks with him, sit up with him in the evenings, get up
early in the morning. Be gay and cheerful at the
breakfast table. When he goes away, see him off ; when
he comes home, run to meet him. Learn to do without
Miss Roberts, and make him forget her.

MRS. BAXTER. Very well. (Rising.) She shall leave
this house directly, — directly I recover.

TOM. Recover from what ?

MRS. BAXTER. From the shock. Think of the shock
I've had ; there's sure to be a reaction. I shouldn't
wonder if I had a complete collapse. It's beginning
already. {She totters and goes towards staircase.) Oh,
dear, I feel so ill. Please call Miss Roberts.

TOM. You were going to learn to do without Miss

MRS. BAXTER. That was before I was ill. I can't be
ill without Miss Roberts.

(Puts her hand to her side, turns up her eyes and
groans as she totters out.)

TOM. Oh ! Oh ! You Mollusc !



SCENE. — The same scene one week later. The only
difference to the appearance of the room is that there
is the addition of an invalid couch with a little table
beside it.

TOM^, is in an armchair reading a newspaper, miss
I'l ROBERTS comes in carrying two pillows, a scent-
bottle, and two fans. The pillows she lays on the

MISS ROBERTS. She is coming down to-day.

TOM {betraying no interest at all). Oh !

MISS ROBERTS. Aren't you pleased ?

TOM. I think it's about time.

MISS ROBERTS. How Unsympathetic you are — when
she has been so ill. For a whole week she has never
left her room.

TOM. And refuses to see a doctor.

MISS ROBERTS. She says she doesn't think a doctor
could do anything for her.

TOM. Except make her get up. Oh, no ! I forgot
— it's their business to keep people in bed.

MISS ROBERTS. You Wouldn't talk like that if you'd
seen her as I have, lying there day after day, so weak
she can only read the lightest literature and eat the
most delicate food.

TOM. She won't let me in her room.

MISS ROBERTS. She won't have any one but Mr.
Baxter and me.

TOM. It's too monstrous. What actually happened
that day ?

MISS ROBERTS. Which day ?

TOM. The day you turned me down, (miss Roberts

VOL. 11 49 E


looks at him, troubled. He looks away sadly.) What
happened after that ?

MISS ROBERTS. I was Still upsct when Mr. Baxter
came in and tried to comfort me.

TOM (grimly). I remember.

MISS ROBERTS. You know he's a kind, fatherly, Httle

TOM. Oh — fatherly !

MISS ROBERTS. Ycs, I wcpt OR his shouldcr just as if
he'd been an old woman.

TOM. Ah ! An old woman ! I don't mind that.

MISS ROBERTS. Then I went to the schoolroom.
Presently in walked Mrs. Baxter. She seemed upset
too, for all of a sudden she flopped right over in the

TOM. The only comfortable chair in that room.

MISS ROBERTS. Oh, don't say that. Then I called
Mr. Baxter ; when he came, she gripped his hand and
besought him never to leave her. I was going to leave
them alone together, when she gripped my hand and
besought me never to leave her either.

TOM. Did you promise ?

MISS ROBERTS. Of coursc. I thought she was dying.

TOM (scouting the idea). Dying ? What made you
think she was dying ?

MISS ROBERTS. She said she was dying,

TOM. Well, what happened after she gripped you
both in her death struggles ?

Miss ROBERTS. We got her to bed, where she has
remained ever since.

TOM. And here we are a week later, all four of
us just where we were, only worse. What's to be
done ?

MISS ROBERTS. We must go on as we are for the

TOM. Impossible !

Miss ROBERTS. Till you go. Then Mr. Baxter and

TOM. More impossible !

MISS ROBERTS (innocently). Poor Mr. Baxter ; he
will miss you when you go ; I shall do my best to
comfort him.

TOM. That's most impossible.


MISS ROBERTS. He Hiust havc some one to take care
of him while his wife is ill.

TOM. You don't really think she has anything the
matter with her ?

MISS ROBERTS. I Can't imagine any one who is not ill
stopping in bed a week ; it must be so boring.

TOM. To a mollusc there is no pleasure like lying
in bed feeling strong enough to get up.

MISS ROBERTS. But it paralyses everything so. Mr.
Baxter can't go to business ; I never have an hour to
give the girls ; they're running wild and forgetting the
little I ever taught them. I can't believe she would
cause so much trouble deliberately.

TOM. Not deliberately, no. It suited Dulcie to be
ill, so she kept on telling herself that she was ill till she
thought she was, and if we don't look out, she will be.
It's all your fault.


TOM. You make her so comfortable, she'll never
recover till you leave her.

MISS ROBERTS. I'vc promised never to leave her till
she recovers.

TOM. A death-bed promise isn't binding if the corpse
doesn't die.

MISS ROBERTS. I don't think you quite understand
how strongly I feel my obligation to Mrs. Baxter. Four
years ago I had almost nothing, and no home ; she
gave me a home ; I can't desert her while she is helpless
and tells me twenty times a day how much she needs me.

TOM. She takes advantage of your old - fashioned

MISS ROBERTS. I wish shc would have a doctor.

TOM (with determination). She shall have me.

MISS ROBERTS. But supposc you treat her for
molluscry, and you find out she has a real illness — think
how dreadful you would feel.

TOM. That's what I've been thinking. That's why
I've been sitting still doing nothing for a week. I do
believe I'm turning into a mollusc again. It's in the
air. The house is permeated with molluscular microbes.
I'll find out what is the matter with Dulcie to-day ; if
it's molluscry I'll treat her for it myself, and if she's
ill she shall go to a hospital.


MISS ROBERTS (going to the bottom of the stairs). I
think I licar her coming downstairs. Yes, here she is.
Don't be unkind to her.

TOM. How is one to treat such a woman ? I've
tried kindness — I've tried roughness — I've tried keeping
my temper — I've tried losing it — I've tried the serious
tack — and the frivolous tack— there isn't anything else.
{As MR. and mrs. Baxter appear.) Oh ! for heaven's
sake look at this !

{He takes his paper and sits down, ignoring them
both. MR. BAXTER IS Carrying mrs. Baxter
in his arms. mrs. Baxter is charmingly
dressed as an invalid, in a peignoir and cap
with a bow. She appears to be in the best of
health, but behaves languidly.)

MRS. BAXTER {as MR. BAXTER Carries her down the
stairs). Take care of the stairs, Dick. Thank you,
darling ! How kind you are to me. {Nods and smiles
to MISS ROBERTS.) Dear Miss Roberts ! {To mr.
BAXTER.) I think you'd better put me down, dear —
I feel you're giving w^ay. {He lays her on the sofa, miss
ROBERTS arranges the cushions behind her head.) Thank
you — just a little higher with the pillows ; and mind
you tuck up my toes, (miss Roberts puts some wraps
over her — she nods and smiles at tom.) And w^hat have
you been doing all this week, Tom ?

TOM {gruffly, without looking up). Mollusking.

MRS. BAXTER {laughs and shakes her hand playfully
at tom). How amusing Tom is. I don't understand
half his jokes. {She sinks back on her cushions with a
little gasp.) Oh, dear, how it tires me to come down
stairs. I wonder if I ought to have made the effort.

(tom laughs harshly.)

MR. BAXTER {reprovingly). Tom !

(miss ROBERTS also looks reprovingly at tom.)

MRS. BAXTER. Havc you no reverence for the sick ?

TOM. You make me sick.

MRS. BAXTER. Miss Roberts, will you give me my
salts, please ?

MISS ROBERTS. They're on the table beside you, Mrs.

MRS. BAXTER. Hand them to me, please, (miss
ROBERTS picks up the salts tvhere they stand within easy


reach of mrs. Baxter if she would only stretch out her
hand. mr. Baxter makes an attempt to get the salts.)
Not you, Dick ; you stay this side, and hold them to
my nose. The bottle is so heavy, (miss Roberts gives
the salts to mrs. Baxter, who gives them to mr. Baxter,
who holds them to mrs. Baxter's nose.) Delicious !

TOM {rising quickly and going towards mrs. Baxter).
Let me hold it to your nose. I'll make it delicious.

MRS. BAXTER (briskly). No, thank you ; take it away,
Miss Roberts. I've had all I want.

{She gives the bottle to miss Roberts.)

TOM. I thought as much.

MRS. BAXTER {feebly). My fan.

MR. BAXTER {auxiously). A fan. Miss Roberts — a fan !
(miss ROBERTS takcs a fan and gives it to mr.


MRS. BAXTER. Is there another fan ?
MR. BAXTER {anxiously). Another fan. Miss Roberts —
another fan !

(miss ROBERTS gcts another fan.)
MRS. BAXTER. If you could make the slightest little
ruffle of wind on my right temple.

(miss ROBERTS stands gently fanning mrs. Baxter's
right temple, mr. Baxter also fans her. tom
twists his newspapers into a fan.)
TOM. Would you like a ruffle of wind on your left
temple ?

MRS. BAXTER {briskly). No, no — no more fans — take
them all away— I'm catching cold, (miss Roberts
takes the fan from mr. baxter and lays both fans on the
table. MRS. BAXTER smiles feebly at mr. baxter and
miss ROBERTS. TOM gocs back to his chair and sits.) My
dear kind nurses !

MISS ROBERTS. Is there anything else I can do for

MRS. BAXTER. No, thank you. {They turn away.)
Yes, hold my hand, (miss Roberts holds her hand.
Then to mr. baxter.) And you hold this one.

(mr. BAXTER holds MRS. BAXTER'S othcr hand.
She closes her eyes.)
TOM. Would you like your feet held ?
MR. BAXTER {holding up his hands to silence tom).
Hush, she's trying to sleep.


TOM (going to her, says in a hoarse whisper). Shall I
siiig you to sleep ?

(mr. BAXTER pushes TOM away. tom resists.)

MR. BAXTER. Comc away — she'll be better soon.
{They leave her.) Oh, Tom, if you knew how I blame
myself for this ; it's all through me she's been brought
so low, — ever since the day she caught me comforting
Miss Roberts. How she must have suffered, and she's
been so sweet about it.

MRS. BAXTER {opens her eyes). I don't feel any better
since I came downstairs.

(miss ROBERTS coTues back to the sofa.)

MR. BAXTER. I wish you'd see a doctor.

MRS. BAXTER. As if a country doctor could diagnose

TOM. Have a baronet from London.

MRS. BAXTER. Later on, perhaps, unless I get well

TOM. Then you do intend to recover ?

MRS. BAXTER. We hopc, with care, that I may be
able to get up and go about as usual in a few weeks'

TOM. When I've gone back to Colorado ? {He
pushes MR. BAXTER out of the way and approaches mrs.
BAXTER.) I guess you'd be very much obliged to me
if I cured you.

MRS. BAXTER {speaking rapidly and with surprising
energy). Yes, Tom, of course I should. But I've no
confidence in you, and Dr. Ross once said a doctor
could do nothing for a patient who had no confidence
in him. {Smiling at tom.) I'm so sorry, Tom ; I
wish I had confidence in you.

TOM. I have confidence in myself enough for two.

MRS. BAXTER. Dr. Ross said that wasn't at all the
same thing. I wish you'd stand farther off ; you make
it so airless when you come so close.

{She waves him off with her hand.)

TOM. I'm not going to touch you.

MRS. BAXTER {relieved). Oh, well, that's another
matter. I thought you were going to force me up.
Try to, rather. Do what you like, as long as you don't
touch me or make me drink anything I don't like, — I
mean that I ought not to have.


MR. BAXTER. I wish wc could think of some way to
make our darling better.

TOM. I've heard of people who couldn't get up
having their beds set on fire.

{He picks up a box of matches and goes towards


towards her to shield her.)

MR. BAXTER. No, Tom — Miss Roberts !

(miss ROBERTS also attempts to shield mrs. Baxter.)

MRS. BAXTER {taking a hand of mr. Baxter and a
hand of miss Roberts — serenely). My dear ones, he
doesn't understand — he wouldn't really do it.

TOM. Wouldn't he ?

{He puts the matches back.)

MRS. BAXTER. To show him I'm not afraid, leave me
alone with him.

TOM. Going to try and get round me, too ? That's
no good.

MRS. BAXTER {affectionately to mr. Baxter and miss
ROBERTS). You need a rest, I'm sure — both of you.
Miss Roberts, will you go to the library for me and
change my book ?

MISS ROBERTS. With pleasure.

MRS. BAXTER. Bring me something that won't tax
my brain.

MISS ROBERTS {soothingly). Yes, yes, something trashy
— very well.

{She goes out.)

MR. BAXTER {impulsivcly). I need a walk too. I'll
go with Miss Roberts.

{About to follow her.)

MRS. BAXTER {quickly pulling him back). No, you
won't, Dick. I want you to go upstairs and move my
furniture. The wash-stand gets all the sun, so I want
the bed where the wash-stand is, and the wash-stand
where the bed is. I wouldn't trouble you, dear, but I
don't like to ask the servants to push such heavy weights.

MR. BAXTER. I'll do anything, dear, to make you more

MRS. BAXTER. Do it quictly, so that I shan't be dis-
turbed by the noise as I lie here.

{Closes her eyes.)

MR. BAXTER. Darling.


{lie kisses her tenderly on the brow, then tiptoes
to the stairs, motioning tom to keep quiet, tom
stamps heavily on the ground with both feet. mr.
BAXTER, startled, signs to tom to keep quiet ;
then goes out.

MRS. BAXTER {smiling and murmuring). Dear Dick !

TOM. Poor Dick !

MRS. BAXTER {plaintively). Poor Dulcie !

TOM. Look here, Dulciebella, it's no use trying to
get round me. I know you. I've seen you grow up.
Why, even in your cradle you'd He by the hour, gaping
at the flies, as if the world contained nothing more
important. I used to tickle you, to try and give you a
new interest in Ufe, but you never disturbed yourself
till bottle time. And afterwards ; don't I know every
ruse by which you'd make other people run about,
when you thought you were playing tennis, standing
on the front hne, tipping at any ball that came near
enough for you to spoil {he thumps the cushions) and
then taking all the credit if your partner won the set.
{Again he thumps the cushions. Each time mrs. Baxter
looks startled and attempts to draw them from him.) And
if a ball was lost, would you help to look for it ? (tom
gesticulates — mrs. Baxter watches him in alarm.) Not
you. You'd pretend you didn't see where it went.
Those were the germs of molluscry in infancy ; and
this is the logical conclusion — you lying there with a
bow in your cap {he flicks her cap with his hand)
having your hands held.

MRS. BAXTER {iu an injured tone). You have no
natural affection.

TOM. I've a solid, healthy, brotherly affection for
you, without a spark of romance.

MRS. BAXTER. Other people are much kinder to me
than you are.

TOM. Other people only notice that you look pretty
and interesting lying there — they wouldn't feel so sorry
for you if you were ugly. (mrs. Baxter smiles.) You
know that ; that's why you stuck that bow in your
bonnet. {He flicks her cap again.) You can't fool me.

{Moves away.)

MRS. BAXTER {swcctly, yet maliciously). No dear, I saw
that the morning you made me do the flowers.


TOM {exasperated at the remembrance of his failure).
Get up !

{Thumps the table.)

MRS. BAXTER. I Can't get up.

TOM. Lots of people think every morning that they
can't get up, but they do.

MRS. BAXTER. Lots of people do lots of things I don't.

TOM. How you can go on like this after what you
saw — Dick and Miss Roberts a week ago — after the
warning I gave you then. I thought the fundamental
instinct in any woman was self-preservation, and that
she would make every effort to keep her husband by
her. You don't seem to care — to indulge your molluscry
you throw those two more and more together.

MRS. BAXTER. I dou't scc how you make that out.

TOM. There they are, both spending the whole of
their time waiting on you.

MRS. BAXTER. In tums — never together — and I always
have one or the other with me.

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