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TOM {taking it all in, he laughs and says with admiration
and astonishment). Oh ! Oh ! I see. Lie still, hold
them both to you and hold them apart. That's clever.

MRS. BAXTER. Your Way was to pack Miss Roberts
off ; the result would have been that Dick would be
sorry for her and blame me. My way, Dick is sorry
for me, and blames himself, as long as Miss Roberts is
here to remind him.

TOM. You can't keep this game up for ever.

MRS. BAXTER {complacently). When I feel comfortable

in my mind that the danger has quite blown over

{She suddenly remembers she is giving herself away too
much.) Oh, but, Tom, I hope you don't think I planned
all this like a plot, and got ill on purpose ?

TOM. Who knows ? It may have been a plot, or
suggestions may have arisen like bubbles in the sub-
conscious caverns of your mollusc nature.

MRS. BAXTER {offcndcd). It was bubbles.

TOM. You don't know which it was any more than
anybody else. Think what this means for the others
— there's your husband growing ill with anxiety, neglect-
ing his business — your children running wild when they
ought to be at school — Miss Roberts wasting her life in
drudgery, — all of them sacrificed so that you may lie



58 THE MOLLUSC

back and keep things as they are. But you can't keep
tilings as they are ; they'll get worse, unless you get
on to yourself and buck up. It's that, or the break-up
of your home. Now Miss Roberts' presence in the house
has ceased to be a danger (mrs. Baxter smiles) for
the moment. But you wait ! Wait till this invalid
game is no longer a novelty, and Dick grows tired of
being on his best behaviour — or wait till he finds himself
in some trouble of his own, then see what happens. He
won't turn to you, he'll spare you — he'll turn to his
friend, his companion, the woman he has come to rely
on^because you shirked your duties on to her, and
pushed her into your place. And there you'll be left,
lying, out of it, a cypher in your own home.

MRS. BAXTER (pleasantly). Do you know, Tom, I
sometimes think you would have made a magnificent
public speaker.

(tom is angry. He conveys to the audience by
his manner in the next part of the scene that
he is trying a change of tactics. He sits.)

TOM. I wonder where those two are now ?

MRS. BAXTER. Miss Robcrts has gone to the library,
and Dick is upstairs moving my furniture.

TOM (gazing up at the ceiling). I haven't heard any
noise of furniture being moved about.

MRS. BAXTER (smiUng). I asked him to do it quietly.

TOM. Miss Roberts has had more than time to go to
the library and back.

MRS. BAXTER (growing uYieasy and sitting up). You
don't think he's gone too ?

TOM (in an off-hand way). That's what I should do.
Pretend to you I was going upstairs to move furniture,
and I should move out after her.

MRS. BAXTER. It's the first time I've let them out of

my sight together since (She sits holt upright.) Go

and see if they're coming.

(She points to the window.)

TOM. They'd be careful not to be seen from this
window.

MRS. BAXTER (excitedUj). They may be in the arbour.

TOM. It's a very good place.

MRS. BAXTER. Go and look.

TOM. I won't.



THE MOLLUSC 59

MRS. BAXTER. Then I will !

{She springs off the couch and runs towards the
window.)

TOM. I thought I should make you get up.

MRS. BAXTER {brought Suddenly to realise what she has
done). Oh !

TOM. Now that you are up, better go and look in the
arbour.

MRS. BAXTER. If I do catch them again, of course
there will be only one thing for me to do.

TOM. What's that ?

MRS. BAXTER. The girls and I must come out and
rough it with you in Colorado.

{She goes out through the window.)

TOM {protesting vehemently). No, you don't ! I won't
have that ! Not at any price. There's no room for
you in Colorado. Oh, dear ! What a dreadful thought !
(miss ROBERTS comcs in wearing her hat and carrying
the library book in her hand.) Thank goodness, they
were not in the arbour.

MISS ROBERTS. What ?

TOM. Oh, never mind, never mind.

MISS ROBERTS {surprised at not seeing mrs. baxter on
the couch). Why, where is she ?

TOM. Gone for a chase round the garden.

miss ROBERTS. A chasc ?

TOM. A wild-goose chase. Leave her alone — she
needs exercise. You see I was right ; she was mol-
lusking.

MISS ROBERTS. And she wasn't really ill ?

TOM {quickly). Now seize this opportunity to give
her notice. Have a plan. Know where you're going
to or we shall have — " Dear Miss Roberts — stay with us
till you find a place " — and the whole thing over again.

MISS ROBERTS {taking off her hat, says thoughtfully).
I don't know where I can go at a moment's notice. I
suppose you don't actually know of any one in Colorado
who wants a governess ?

TOM. No, I can't say I do.

MISS ROBERTS. Then I suppose it must be the Govern-
esses' Home.

TOM {kindly). We shall hear from you from time to
time, I hope ?



CO THE MOLLUSC

MISS ROBERTS (pleosed). Oh, yes, if you wish to.

TOM. You'll write sometimes (miss Roberts looks
up hopefully. But when he says " to my sister,'" she is
disappointed) to my sister ?

MISS ROBERTS {disappointed). Oh, yes.

TOM. And in that way I shall hear of you.

MISS ROBERTS (sadly). If you remember to ask. But
people so soon forget, don't they ?

TOM. I shan't forget. I don't want you to forget me.

MISS ROBERTS. It won't make much difference to you
in Colorado whether you're remembered or forgotten
by me.

TOM. I like to know there are people here and there
in the world who care what happens to me.

MISS ROBERTS (faltering). That's something, isn't it ?

TOM. It's a real thing to a man who lives out of his
own country ; we spend a lot of time just thinking of
the folks at home.

MISS ROBERTS. Do yOU ?

TOM {looks at her face). How young you are — there
isn't a line in your face. {She smiles at him.) You will
let me hear how you get on ?

{Moves away.)

MISS ROBERTS {disappointed). If there's anything to
tell. Some people have no history.

TOM. Yours hasn't begun yet — your life is all before
you.

MISS ROBERTS. A govcmcss's life isn't much.

TOM. You won't always be a governess. You'll
marry a young man, I suppose. I hope he'll be worthy
of you.

MISS ROBERTS {wistfully). Would he have to be young
for that ?

TOM. It's natural ; I suppose it's right — anyway it
can't be helped. A man doesn't realise that he's
growing old with the rest of the world ; he notices that
his friends are. He can't see himself — so he doesn't
notice that he, too — he gets a shock now and then — but
. . . weU, then he gets busy about something else and
forgets.

MISS ROBERTS. Forgcts ?

TOM. Or tries to. I almost wish I'd never come to
England. It was easier out there to get busy and forget.



THE MOLLUSC 61

MISS ROBERTS. You'll find that easy enough when you
go back.

TOM {shaking his head). Too much has happened ;
more than I can forget. But I must buck up, because
I have to be jolly as a duty to my neighbours, and then
your letters — they'll cheer me. And when that in-
evitable letter arrives to tell me you've found happiness,
I shall send you my kindest thoughts and best wishes,
and try not to curse the young devil whoever he is. So
you see we can always be friends, can't we ? — in spite
of the blunder I made a week ago. Don't quite forget
me {taking her hands and shaking them) when he comes
along.

{He goes and sits on the couch disconsolately.)

MISS ROBERTS. Shall I tell you something ?

TOM. What ?

MISS ROBERTS. Oh, uo — I Can't !

TOM. You must, now you've begun.

MISS ROBERTS. I daren't.

TOM. I want you to.

MISS ROBERTS. Well, don't look at me.

TOM. I'm ready.

{He looks at her, and then turns his hack to her.)

MISS ROBERTS. Supposc there was a girl, quite young,
and not bad-looking, and she knew that her chief value
as a person was her looks and her youth, and a man —
oh, I don't know how to say this

TOM. I'm not looking.

MISS ROBERTS. He had great value as a person. He
was kind and sensible, and brave, and he had done
things. He wasn't young, but he couldn't have lived
and still had a smooth face, so she liked him all the better
for not having a smooth face — his face meant things to
a girl ; and if he wanted to give her so much — such great
things — don't you think she'd be proud to give him her
one little possession, her looks and her youth ?

TOM. You don't mean us ? {He turns to her.)

MISS ROBERTS {ovcrcomc with confusion). Don't look
at me. I'm ashamed. {Covers her face with her hands.
TOM goes to her, gently draws her hands from her face and
holds them both in his.) I wouldn't have dared to tell
you, only I couldn't let you go on thinking what you were
thinking. When you asked me to marry you a week



62 THE MOLLUSC

ago and I said " No " — it was only because I was so
hurt — my pride was hurt, and I tliought — oh, never mind
now — I wanted to say " Yes " all the time.

TOM {looking at her and saying to himself, as if he
scarcely believed it). I am really going to take her with
me to Colorado.

{Kisses her. After a slight pause, mr. Baxter
enters, limping painfully.)
MR. BAXTER. I've Sprained my ankle — moving that
wash-stand.

TOM. Oh, my poor old chap — what can we do for you ?
MISS ROBERTS. You ought to havc some lint and a
bandage. {To tom.) You'll find it in a cupboard in the
spare room — your room.

TOM. All right — hold on while I go and get it.

{He puts MR. Baxter's hand on the post of the
stairs ; then he goes out.)
MISS ROBERTS. Hold ou to me, Mr. Baxter.

{She supports him. mrs. Baxter enters from
the garden without seeing mr. Baxter and

miss ROBERTS.

MRS. BAXTER. They're not in the arbour. {Catching
sight of them.) What — again?

miss ROBERTS. Hc's Sprained his ankle.

MRS. BAXTER {rushing to him). Sprained his ankle —
oh, my poor Dick !

MR. BAXTER {looking Surprised at mrs. Baxter).
What, you up — running about ?
■ MRS. BAXTER. I'vc taken a sudden turn for the better.

MR. BAXTER {moumfully) . I wish you'd taken it a
bit sooner ; making me move that damned old wash-
stand. {Then suddenly.) Oh, my foot !

MRS. BAXTER. Let me help you to my couch.

(tom comes in with bandages.)

MR. BAXTER. You Wouldn't know how. {Pushes her
away. mrs. Baxter gives an exclamation of horror.
Turning to miss Roberts.) Miss Roberts !

MRS. BAXTER. Let me !

MR. BAXTER. No, nO not now. {As miss ROBERTS

assists him to the sofa.) You see, she's used to helping
people and you're not.

(miss ROBERTS knccls and begins to untie his
shoe-laces.)



THE MOLLUSC 63

MRS. BAXTER {to tom). He Tcfuscs my help.

TOM. He turns to the woman he has come to rely
on. Now is your chance. Seize it ; you may never
get another.

MR. BAXTER. I Want a pillow for my foot.

MISS ROBERTS (rising). A pillow for your foot ?

TOM {to MRS. BAXTER). Go on — go ou — get it.

MRS. BAXTER {running for the pillow). A pillow for
his foot. {She anticipates miss Roberts, snatches the
pillow and brings it to mr. Baxter, then looking in-
dignantly at miss ROBERTS she raises mr. Baxter's
sprained foot with one hand as she places the pillow under
it with the other, mr. Baxter utters a yell of pain.) Oh,
my poor Dick, I'm so sorry. Did I hurt you ?

MR. BAXTER (looking at her in wonder). Why, Dulcie,
but it seems all wrong for me to be lying here, while you
wait on me.

MRS. BAXTER. I Want you to rely on me, dear, so that
when you're in trouble you'll turn to me. What can I
do for your poor foot ? We must get some — some

TOM. Bandages.

{Throwing bandages to mrs. Baxter.)

MRS. BAXTER. Ycs, and some — some arnica. Miss
Roberts never thought of arnica.

MISS ROBERTS. I'll go and look for it.

{She rnakes a slight movement.)

MRS. BAXTER (pleasantly). Don't trouble, Miss
Roberts, I will go myself directly. (Then to mr. Baxter.)
You know, dear, we must learn to do without Miss
Roberts.

TOM. You'll have to. She's coming back to Colorado
with me.

MRS. BAXTER (going to MISS ROBERTS). Tom, this is
news. Dear Miss Roberts, I'm so glad.

MR. BAXTER (holding out his hand to tom). So am I.

(tom shakes hands with mr. baxter.)

MRS. BAXTER. But oh, how wc shall miss you !

MISS ROBERTS. I hopc I'm not being selfish.

MRS. BAXTER. Oh, uo, no, dear. I'm glad you're
going to make Tom happy. We shall do very well here ;
it's high time the children went to school; I've been
thinking about it for a long time. (She kneels by mr.
BAXTER.) And now that I'm so much better, I shall be



64 THE MOLLUSC

able to cio more for my husband, play chess with him —

go walks with him Tom shall never have another

chance to call me a mollusc.
TOM. Bravo ! Bravo !

MR. BAXTER. Dulcic !

MRS. BAXTER. Dcarcst !

MISS ROBERTS (to tom). You'vc workcd a miracle !

TOM {quietly to miss Roberts). Were those miracles
permanent cures ? {Shakes his head.) We're never
told ! We're never told !



CURTAIN.



A SINGLE MAN

A COMEDY IN FOUR ACTS



VOL. II 65



COPY OF THE "FIRST NIGHT" PROGRAMME
AT

THE PLAYHOUSE, LONDON

ON NOVEMBER 8, 1910

A SINGLE MAN

A NEW COMEDY IN FOUR ACTS

BY

HUBERT HENRY DAVIES



Robin Worthhigton
Henry Worthington
Dickie Cottrell
Lady Cottrell .
Maggie Cottrell
Miss Heseltine
Isabella Worthington
Louise Parker .
Bertha Sims .
The Housekeeper
The Parlourmaid
The Nurse



Mr. Cyril Maude
Mr. Ernest Mainwaring
Mr. Lyonel Watts
Miss Florence Haydon
Miss Dulcie Greatwich
Miss Hilda Trevelyan
Miss Mary Jerrold
Miss Nancy Price
Miss Dorothy Dayne
Miss Emma Chambers
Miss Vera Coburn
Miss Diana Sellick



The action, which covers a period of three weeks, takes place in Robin
Worthington s house near Farnham in Surrey.

Acts L, HL, & IV.— The Study.
Act n. — The Drawing-room.



66



A SINGLE MAN

THE FIRST ACT

SCENE. — ROBIN worthington's study. A broad French
window affords a view of a large, well-kept garden.
It is towards the end of the month of May, so that
the garden looks at its freshest and brightest with
flowering trees in bloom. The room looks com-
fortable and much used, and is distinctly a man's
room. There are bookshelves on either side of the
window. Almost facing the audience is robin's
writing-table ; a good-sized table, with all the neces-
sary things for writing, and littered with letters and
pamphlets. By the writing-table there is a small
typewriter s desk. It has drawers down one side
and a typewriter s machine, with a cover on, upon
it. Other furniture completes the scene. Near a
settee in front of robin's writing-table there is a
cradle on rockers containing a baby. Lying near
the cradle on the floor, as if they had been flung there,
are a Teddy-bear, a rag-doll, and a rattle. On the
settee lies a small case of needles and cottons and a
baby's bonnet with rosettes and ribbon strings in the
process of making.

ISABELLA WORTHINGTON, a bright attractive young
woman of almost thirty, is on her knees beside the
cradle.

ISABELLA {to the baby). Coochy, coochy, coochy !
{Putting her head close to the baby.) Bo ! {She picks up
the Teddy-bear and holds it up for the baby to look at as
she makes a poor imitation of a dog barking flercely.)
Wow, wow, wow ! {She throws the Teddy-bear on the
floor and bends solicitously over the cradle.) Did muzzer

67



68 A SINGLE MAN

fichen baby ? Muzzer didn't mean to fichcn baby.
(captain henry wortiiington enters from the garden.
HENRY is a cavalry officer, a good-looking, pleasant man
of thirty-five with conventional mind and manners. He
icears a tweed suit and is smoking a pipe. He strolls
down to the cradle.) Dada ! Here's dada ! Here's
baby's dada. {Looking np at henry.) Look at her,
Henry. Doesn't she look sweet ?

HENRY [smiling at the baby). Hullo, babs. {He pokes
the baby.) Tsch !

ISABELLA {in an ecstasy). Bid you see her smile ?

HENRY {giving the baby a series of little pokes). Tsch,
tsch, tsch !

ISABELLA. Don't do it any more, dear. It might
not agree with her.

{Rocks the cradle gently.)

HENRY. I say, Isabella.

ISABELLA {brightly). What is it, dearest ?

HENRY. Do you think you ought to be in this room ?

ISABELLA. Why not ?

HENRY. Robin may not like to have his study turned
into a nursery.

ISABELLA. I shouldn't think he'd mind when it's for
baby.

HENRY. Look at the floor.

ISABELLA. Those are baby's playthings. She threw
them all there herself. {Gushingly to the baby.) Clever
little girlie !

HENRY. Robin will be coming in directly and want
to begin his morning's work. I think we'd better clear
out.

ISABELLA. Very well, dear — we will — {as she sits on
the settee) by and by.

HENRY. It's ten o'clock.

ISABELLA. A literary man has no fixed hour for begm-
ning work. He waits till the spirit moves him. It's
not as if Robin had to turn out on parade, punctual to
the minute, like 3'^ou.

{Takes up her needle and cotton from the seat
beside her and begins to stitch the rosettes and
strings on the bonnet.)

HENRY. No — but still — we must take care not to be
in his way. It's very kind of him to have us here. I



A SINGLE MAN 69

don't want him to think we are making too free with his
house.

ISABELLA. I think it is so sweet of you, Henry, the
way you never forget that you are the younger brother.

HENRY {smiling). I learnt my place at school when
Robin was Worthington Major and I was Worthington
Minor.

ISABELLA {sewing as she talks). I should think our
happy little family of three makes a very bright spot in
his dull, grey bachelor life. The other day— which day
would it be ? How long have we been staying with
Robin ?

HENRY {without looking up from a newspaper he has
picked up). Four days.

ISABELLA. Yes. Thcu it was the day before yesterday
— I was sitting here with baby, and I could see Robin,
sitting at his desk, watching us. He didn't say a word
— but I knew so well what was passing in his mind. He
was thinking it must be very nice to have a young wife
sitting in his study while he works, and a little baby-waby
— lovidovickins !

{She finishes her speech with her head in the cradle.)

HENRY {turning his newspaper), I should think Robin
will always remain a bachelor.

ISABELLA. Don't you think a man is much happier
for being married ?

HENRY {smiling at Isabella). Yes — if he finds the
right woman.

ISABELLA {smiling at henry). 0f course.

HENRY. Perhaps Robin hasn't had my luck, or per-
haps he has been too busy writing books to think about
getting married.

ISABELLA {dropping her sewing, and saying thought-
fully). He needs the idea put into his head. It's what
you and I ought to do while we are on this visit.

HENRY {shaking his head). I never believe in taking
a hand in other people's love affairs.

ISABELLA. What do you think of Louise Parker ?

HENRY {having forgotten who she is, echoes). Louise
Parker !

ISABELLA. You rcmcmbcr her. She was at school
with me and she was to have been one of our bridesmaids,
only she had influenza.



70 A SINGLE MAN

HENRY. Oh, yes. I remember.

ISABELLA {resuming her sewing). Poor Louise ! She
must be nearly thirty and she's never been engaged.
I shouldn't think she's ever even had a proposal. I'm
sure she'd have told me if she had. I thought it would
be so nice for her if Robin fell in love with her.

HENRY {good-humour edly). I don't see why my poor
brother should take up with an old girl who can't get
anybody else.

ISABELLA. Louise isn't old, dear ; she's my age — and
she's very handsome. You've seen that photograph I
have of her, with her hair done out at the sides, clutch-
ing a piece of white tulle in front. She looks lovely —
and she isn't very much flattered — not if she is as hand-
some as she used to be — though of course I've seen next
to nothing of her since we've been spending our winters
in Egypt.

HENRY. No — I suppose not.

ISABELLA. Then I thought — having a little money of
her own would make it so much better.

HENRY. Robin is well enough off now not to think
about that.

ISABELLA. It would make Louise more independent.

HENRY. You are only looking at it from her point of
view.

ISABELLA {her hand on his). No, dear, I'm not — but
you see — poor Louise is the only one of the old school
set who hasn't been able to find a husband.

(henry laughs, and gives Isabella a little caress.)

HENRY. I don't see how you propose to bring them
together. If I remember rightly — Louise lives at
Leamington, while here we are at Farnham.

ISABELLA. Louise might come from Leamington to
Farnham.

HENRY. True.

ISABELLA. I don't scc why she shouldn't be asked on
a little visit.

HENRY. Where ?

ISABELLA. Here.

HENRY. To this house ?

ISABELLA. Yes ; I thought if Robin saw Louise in his
own home it might help to put the idea into his head.

HENRY. But Louise can't come on a visit to Robin !



A SINGLE MAN 71

ISABELLA. Yes, she can — with me here — Robin's
sister-in-law and Louise's oldest friend. It would be
quite all right. I'm sure Louise wouldn't mind.

HENRY. Robin might.

ISABELLA. I thought I could sav to Robin, that as
you and I have no fixed home in England, perhaps he
wouldn't mind if I invited my old friend, Louise Parker,
to spend a few days with me here. I don't see how he
could say No to that.

HENRY. You haven't asked him yet ?

ISABELLA. No — but I'vc askcd Louise.

HENRY. You haven't !

ISABELLA. Didn't I tell you ? I wrote to her the
day before yesterday. I told her to put off everything,
and come on here immediately. I gave her the most
glowing account of Robin. I should feel so happy if I
were the means of bringing them together.

HENRY {gravely). I think you ought to have spoken
to Robin before inviting her.

ISABELLA {penitently). Yes, dear, I see that now.

HENRY. He may not want her here.

ISABELLA {seriously). That's my difficulty. I don't
know what I shall do if Robin says he won't have Louise
here.

HENRY. Put her off.

ISABELLA. It's too late. She's in the train. She'll
be here in three-quarters of an hour. Yes ; I received
an eight-page letter from her this morning. Of course
when I told her to come immediately, I never expected
she'd come at once, (henry smiles in spite of himself.
ISABELLA, seeing henry smile, cheers up.) Dear Louise !
She's so delighted with everything I told her about
Robin. She seems to look upon herself as engaged to
him already.

HENRY. You'd better say something to Robin without
delay.

ISABELLA. Yes, I supposc wc had.

{She kneels and rocks the cradle, robin worthing-
TON comes in from the garden. He is a pleasant,
wise, reticent and sweet-tempered man of forty -
three years old.)

ROBIN. Hullo !

henry. Hullo, Robin !



72 A SINGLE MAN

ROBIN. Don't disturb yourselves. I can't do any-
thing until my secretary comes.

(robin turns over some papers on his desk, smiling

broadly to himself. Isabella looks at henry,

who makes faces at her, and nods, meaning that

she must tell robin about louise.)

ISABELLA (zvith an effort). 1 have a great friend —

Louise Parker her name is {She stops short when

she loolis at robin and sees him smiling broadly to himself.)
What are you smiling at ?

ROBIN {diffidently). I came in here for the express
purpose of asking you both something — and now I don't
like to.

HENRY. Go on.

ROBIN. You won't laugh ?

HENRY. No.

ISABELLA. Of course not.

ROBIN. Well, then {Looking from one to the

other.) Do you think I'm too old to get married ?

ISABELLA. No.
HENRY. No.

ROBIN. I want you to say what you really think.

HENRY. We are doing.

ISABELLA. You are not at all too old to marry.

ROBIN. I don't mean — I mean a girl.

HENRY. Of course.

ISABELLA. So do WB.

ROBIN. I don't think I've any time to waste. I'm
forty- three.

HENRY. I thought you were forty-four.

ROBIN {quite annoyed). No, I'm not. I'm only
forty-three.

ISABELLA {complacently). Is it seeing us that has
made you want so much to get married ?

ROBIN. Partly — and partly it's the spring. How can
I keep my mind off marriage when all the woods and
fields are filled with family life ? I get the same un-
settled feeling regularly every year.

HENRY. I used to get it before I was married.

ROBIN. All the bachelors do in the pairing season.
I've no doubt my case is a good deal aggravated this
year with watching you two and the baby. Do you
know, before you arrived — I rather expected your



A SINGLE MAN 73

domestic happiness might irritate me, but — {he smiles
at them both) I find it extremely attractive. It makes
me quite jealous.

ISABELLA {beckoning henry to her she whispers to
him while robin's back is turned). He's absolutely ripe
for Louise.


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