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HENRY {as ROBIN tums to them). I've often wondered
how it is you've escaped so long. You used to be
constantly falling in love.

ROBIN. That was before I could afford to marry. I
got over them all. One can't miss for long something
one never had. Since the days that you remember I've
been so busy getting on in the world, and so afraid that
marriage would interfere with my work, that I haven't
encouraged myself to think of it. But now that I have
got on — I seem to have come to a kind of full stop.
Nothing matters as much as it did ; my friends don't ;
my career doesn't. A great many bachelors experience
the same sort of feeling round about forty. It's not
pleasant : it's alarming. I ought not to be losing my
grip on life yet — but to retain it I need a new interest —
an interest outside myself. I need — {indicating Isa-
bella, who is gently rocking the cradle) that's what I

{He goes up to the window, and out into the garden
a few steps, standing with his back towards


and sits beside her.)

HENRY. Hadn't you better tell him about Louise ?

ISABELLA. If I tell him now — after what he's been
saying — he'll think I've asked her here on purpose for
him to fall in love with — and that makes a man so

HENRY. Pretend you've asked her here because I'm
so fond of her.

ISABELLA. No, Ilcury, I won't !

HENRY. You must tcll him she's coming.

ISABELLA. I know I must.

HENRY. Shall / tell him ?

ISABELLA. No, I'll tcll him.

HENRY. Well, tell him.

ISABELLA. I'm going to.

{Enter Gladys, a young parlourmaid.)


GLADYS (addressing robin). Miss Cottrell has called,
sir, and would like to sec you.

ROBIN. Oh ! Show her in here, please.

GLADYS. Yes, sir.

(She goes out.)

ISABELLA (m a quick whisper to henry). How annoy-
ing : just when I was going to tell him about Louise !

robin (addressing them both). It's Lady Cottrell's
little girl — Maggie. They are neighbours of mine.

pretty, healthy, smiling girl of seventeen, full
of vitality. She carries a basket of grapes.)

MAGGIE. Good-morning !

ROBIN (meeting maggie and shaking hands with her).
Good-morning, Maggie.

MAGGIE. Mother thought you might like these few

(She offers the grapes to robin.)

ROBIN (taking the basket). That's very kind of you.
(Lays the basket on his writing-table.) Please thank
your mother very much. Let me introduce you to my
sister-in-law, Mrs. Worthington.

ISABELLA (shaking hands with maggie). How d'you

MAGGIE. Quite well, thank you.

ROBIN (introducing maggie to the cradle). My niece —
Miss Pamela Grace Mary Worthington — Miss Maggie

MAGGIE (peering at the baby). What a sweet little
kiddie !

(Rocks the cradle violently from side to side.)

ISABELLA (alarmed). Stop, stop ! Don't do that !

(She snatches the baby out of the cradle.)

MAGGIE. I thought they liked it.

ISABELLA (trying to be pleasant about it). You were
doing it just a trifle — violently.

MAGGIE. I'm so sorry !

ISABELLA. It doesn't matter.

MAGGIE (peering at the baby). It is a little love.

ROBIN. When you've done adoring the baby, this is
my brother — Captain Worthington.

(henry and maggie shake hands.)

HENRY. How do you do ?


MAGGIE. Quite well, thank you. {To Isabella.)
May I look at its toes ?

ISABELLA {proudly exhibiting the baby's toes). There !
MAGGIE. Aren't they ducks ?

{She touches them with her forefinger.)
ROBIN {to HENRY, smiUng as he watches Isabella and
MAGGIE). Isn't she charming ?
henry. Isabella ?
ROBIN. Maggie.

{He continues smiling benevolently at maggie as
he watches her.)
MAGGIE {to ISABELLA). May I hold it ?
ISABELLA. Certainly — if you'd like to. {She gives the
baby to maggie to hold.) You'll be very careful, won't



MAGGIE. Trust me. (maggie sits smiling at the baby.
ROBIN sits watching maggie and smiling all the tiine.
MAGGIE to the baby.) Puss, puss, puss !

ROBIN {murmuring as he watches maggie). Charming !
MAGGIE {looking at robin). What d'you say ?
ROBIN {slightly confused). Nothing — I was only think-
ing — nothing. {To Isabella.) Wouldn't she make
rather a good study for a Madonna ?
ISABELLA. Not in a hat.

MAGGIE {to make conversation, says to Isabella).
What do you feed it on ?

(robin and henry glance at each other, em-
ISABELLA. Beef and potatoes.

(robin and henry again glance at each other,
then look away, trying not to smile.)
MAGGIE {suddenly thrusting the baby from her). Oh !
It's going to have convulsions.

ISABELLA {hurrying to maggie, snatches the baby
from her. She tries to be polite, but is visibly annoyed).
It's because you are not holding her properly. Give
her to me, please — thank you. {She carries the baby
towards the window, jigging it.) Did she say we were
going to have convulsions ? Tell the naughty lady it
was because she didn't nurse us nicely.

{A nurse appears at the window and remains a
few minutes in conversation with Isabella.
She carries a shawl, henry joins them.


After a few moments the nurse takes the baby
from ISABELLA a7id disappears into the garden
with it. While they are thus occupied, maggie
speaks to robin.)

MAGGIE. I'm not much of a hand with a baby. I
think I'd better be getting home.

ROBIN. Don't go yet. What have you been doing
lately ?

MAGGIE. Playing tennis most of the time and lark-
ing about generally. We had great fun last evening —
tobogganing down the stairs on tea-trays.

ROBIN. Who was with you ?

MAGGIE. Dickie, and one or two other boys, and
Flossie, and Bertha Sims. We call ourselves the gang.
{Holding out her hand.) Good-bye.

ROBIN {taking her hand and retaining it). Good-bye,

MAGGIE. Shall I take the basket back with me, or
call again ?

ROBIN. Call again — soon.

MAGGIE. I'll come back for it in about twenty
minutes. {She withdraivs her hand arid goes towards
ISABELLA.) Good-bye, Mrs. Worthington.

ISABELLA. Good-bye.

MAGGIE. Good-bye.

HENRY. Good-bye, Miss Cottrell.

ROBIN {moving to open the door for her). When you
come back — don't ask for the basket — ask for me.

MAGGIE. Right !

(MAGGIE goes out ,' ROBIN closcs the door after
her, then turns to henry and Isabella.)

ROBIN. That's the girl I was telling you about.

ISABELLA {puzzled). What girl ?

henry. I don't remember you telling us about any

ROBIN. I was beginning to, when — in she came.
Wasn't it a coincidence ?

ISABELLA {after a look at henry). You are not telling
us you intend to marry Miss Cottrell ?

ROBIN {shyly). I thought of doing so. (Isabella
and HENRY look at each other in surprise. Isabella's
surprise amounts to dismay.) Don't you like her ?

HENRY. She's charming.


ISABELLA. Very pretty — but isn't she rather too
young for you ?

ROBIN. No ; I may be too old for her, but she's not
at all too young for me. That's what I want — youth
and sunshine. It would keep me young. {Taking
HENRY by the arm and pointing to the garden.) Think
of Maggie running about that garden, springing over
the flower-beds in pursuit of butterflies. {Dropping
henry's arm he says with enthusiasm.) The very vision
of it makes me feel almost a boy.

ISABELLA. If you really were a boy

ROBIN {interrupting her). If I really were a boy, I
should see nothing so wonderful in youth. One needs
to have reached my age to realise its charm.

(robin sits at his table and begins fussing with

HENRY {impressed with robin's last remark, says to
ISABELLA). There's a world of truth in that, Isabella.

ISABELLA {much more impressed by her own idea, says
carelessly). Oh, yes, there is. {Going nearer to robin.)
But though you look so boyish for your age

ROBIN. A man is as old as he looks.


ROBIN. You don't know how old I feel.

ISABELLA. But Henry and I can't help being a little
afraid — that if you married any one so young as Miss
Cottrell — you might miss the companionship we hoped
you would find — in marriage with some older and more
intellectual woman.

ROBIN. I don't want a wife with ideas. She'd argue
with me.

HENRY {speaking across robin to Isabella). I have
noticed, Isabella, that clever men often choose stupid

ROBIN {indignantly to henry). She's not stupid.

ISABELLA {bluntly). She has no idea what to do with
a baby.

ROBIN {a little shocked and embarrassed). My dear Isa-
bella — how you do run on ! I don't think we ought to
discuss this matter so prematurely. I have no reason
to suppose that Maggie takes the slightest interest in me.
{He smiles as he continues.) At least — I hadn't — ^till this


HENRY. This morning ?


ISABELLA. Something she said ?


HENRY. What then ?

ROBIN (pointing to the basket of grapes). Those grapes !
What do I want with grapes ? I'm not ill. It's merely
an exeuse of Maggie's to eome and see me. I feel greatly

{He becomes absorbed in the papers on his desk.)

ISABELLA. Didn't you hear her say it was her mother
who sent her with the grapes ?

ROBIN. Maggie is quite sharp enough and quite
independent enough to send the grapes by the gardener
if she didn't want to bring them herself.

ISABELLA. That may be, but

ROBIN. Suppose we drop Maggie and the grapes. I'm
rather sorry I said anything about either of them. I
don't think I ought to have done so. {Beside Isabella
and very pleasantly.) You were beginning to tell me
something about somebody when I first came in.

(henry stands watching them to see how Isabella
gets on.)

ISABELLA. About my old friend, Louise Parker.

ROBIN. Oh, yes.

ISABELLA. Such a uicc girl.

ROBIN. Really !

ISABELLA. I'm sure you'd like her.

ROBIN. I'm sure I should.

ISABELLA. I thought pcrhaps you wouldn't mind if
I invited her to come and see me here.

ROBIN. Of course, my dear Isabella — any friends of
yours would be most welcome.

ISABELLA. Thank you. Should you object if Louise
stayed a few days ?

ROBIN {delighted). The very thing ! It would be an
excuse to invite Maggie.


{She looks at henry in dismay, henry laughs

at Isabella's face of dismay.)

ROBIN {goes on without heeding them and delighted with

his own idea). Why, yes — don't you see — if you have a

girl friend staying in the house, Maggie might be running


backwards and forwards all day long. She has nothing
to do. When do you want Miss — Miss — your friend to
come ?

ISABELLA. She's coming this morning. I took the
liberty of

ROBIN {interrupting her). I'm so glad you did.
Nothing could be more fortunate. I'll go and tell Mrs.
Higson to get a room ready. {He goes towards the door.)
Maggie might come to tea this afternoon.

{He goes out.)

ISABELLA {as soon as the door is closed). Oh, Henry,
can't you do something ?

HENRY. Why shouldn't he marry Maggie ?

ISABELLA {indignantly). Henry !

HENRY. I've known several cases of men marrying
girls half their age that turned out very well indeed.

ISABELLA. But what am I to say to Louise ?

HENRY. Louise hasn't got an option on him.

ISABELLA. Don't make jokes about it, dear ; she'll be
here in less than half an hour.

HENRY. Louise must take her chance. I should
think when we've been here a little longer we shall find
that the neighbourhood bristles with women who want
to marry Robin.

{Re-enter robin.)

ROBIN. I'm sorry, but I shall have to ask you to
leave me now. Miss Heseltine is coming.

ISABELLA {suspiciously). Who's Miss Heseltine ?

ROBIN. My secretary.

{He sits at the writing-table and gets a pen and

ISABELLA. Do you liavc a woman secretary ?

{She glances at henry.)

ROBIN. Yes. I've been taking more or less of a
holiday since you came. That's how it is you haven't
seen her.

ISABELLA {after another significant glance at henry).
Is she pretty ?

robin. I really don't know. I think so. I see her
so much I forget what she's like,

ISABELLA. That's absurd !

robin. It's quite true. You see — I'm always work-
ing when she's here. It's like thinking aloud to talk


to Miss Heseltine. I feel just as comfortable with her
in the room as if she wasn't there.

[He begins to write.)
HENRY. Come along, Isabella. He wants to get to

ISABELLA {joining henry). Very well. I shall have
to go to the station directly to meet Louise.

{They go out. robin is absorbed in his writing,
and does not look up as miss heseltine enters.)
{Enter miss heseltine. She is a sweet-faced
woman of twenty-eight, with unobtrusive man-
ners but plenty of character and determination.
She is neatly and very plainly dressed, and
carries a note-book in her hand. She moves about
in a quick, business-like fashion.)
miss heseltine. Good-morning, Mr. Worthington.
robin. Good-morning, Miss Heseltine.

(miss heseltine expresses disapproval as she
sees the Teddy-bear, rag-doll, and rattle lying
on the floor.)
miss heseltine, Tsch, tsch, tsch !

{She gathers up the Teddy-bear, rag-doll, rattle,
work-box, and the baby's bonnet; pitches them
all into the cradle ; drags it to the corner. She
then seats herself at her desk, takes the cover off
her typewriter, and gets two sheets of paper
from the drawer of the desk.)
ROBIN. Where did we leave off last time ?
miss heseltine. We were writing that article on

ROBIN. I don't feel at all like fossils to-day.
miss heseltine {putting the paper in the machine).
We don't need to send it in before Friday.
ROBIN. I have an idea for a poem.
MISS heseltine. Some more of those topical verses ?
ROBIN. No — just an ordinary' little poem about love.
miss heseltine {taking a swift surprised look at
ROBIN before she speaks). Quite a new departure.
ROBIN. Take this down.

{He paces the room, thoughtfully, before speaking.
He then begins to dictate, soulfully.)

Come hither, my beloved,


(miss heseltine makes a short, sharp, business-
like attack on the keys of her machine, robin
continues as before.)

With shining, smiling eyes,

(miss heseltine repeats the attack, robin con-
tinues as before.)

And soft, sweet lips.

{Again miss heseltine types, robin drops the
far-away voice in which he has dictated the poem.)

robin. It's no good. I can't concentrate my mind.
It's all in a turmoil. Tear it up, please, will you ? {He
stands at the window, looking out into the garden with his
back to her. miss heseltine takes the sheet of paper out
of the machine, moves her lips as she reads the poem over
to herself with an affectionate smile, robin's attention
is obviously attracted by something he sees in the garden.
He speaks without turning round.) How pretty !

MISS heseltine. Are you still dictating ?

{She hurriedly folds up the sheet of paper with the
poem on it.)

ROBIN. No. I was watching the housemaid flirting
with the postman. There's nothing so charming to see
as a pair of lovers, (miss heseltine smiles to herself
as she tucks the poem into the bosom of her dress, robin
comes towards his desk, idly turning over a sheet or two of
paper to cover the embarrassment he feels in saying the
following). It may surprise you — what I am going to
ask you (miss heseltine is very attentive), but — I want to
get married, (miss heseltine is so surprised she drops
her ruler on the floor with a clatter, robin hurries to pick
it up for her. She rises, picks it up, and sits again.)
The girl I want to marry is some one I've known very
well for a long time. I've been in the habit of seeing her
constantly, but hitherto — we have only been on friendly
terms, (miss heseltine nods her head gravely.) I'd
like to get on to sentimental terms with her. (miss
heseltine nods her head, smiling.) It's always a little
difficult to change a long-established friendly relationship
into a sentimental one — not difficult exactly — but it
needs careful handling. You see what I mean ?
miss heseltine {dropping her eyes). I think I do.

vol. II G


ROBix. I'm afraid I may make the transition too
abruptly — startle her — perhaps even frighten her away.
So I want you to help me if you will.

MISS HESELTiNE (looking tip at him). How ?

ROBIN. Before asking her the definite question I
should so like to find out — if possible — whether she has
anything more than a friendly feeling for me.

MISS HESELTINE. Have you no idea ?

ROBIN. None — at least — very little.

MISS HESELTINE. Perhaps you have given her no
direct sign of the change in your feelings towards her.

ROBIN. No ; I haven't.

MISS HESELTINE. Then I don't see what she can do.

ROBIN. You think, then, that she may be in love
with me wathout showing it ?

MISS HESELTINE. I'm quitc sure of that.

ROBIN. She may want to but be afraid to ?


ROBIN {moving about restlessly). A man can feel just
as shy about breaking the ice as a girl. It would be
dreadful to get a rebuff. She might laugh in my face.
Girls have been known to be very unfeeling towards
middle-aged suitors. They think it's funny to lead
them on till they get a proposal and give a refusal —
and then they go and tell their friends about it. {He
picks up a letter and folds it nervously.) I don't want
to risk anything of that sort — so I was wondering if
you'd be so kind as to say something first.

MISS HESELTINE {taken aback). Me speak first ?
{Turning away from him.) Oh, no — I couldn't !

ROBIN {coming and standing close to her shoulder). I
only mean — if you could help me to find out in some
way — what kind of an answer I should be likely to get.
{He pauses.) It's Maggie Cottrell. (miss heseltine
must express, unseen by robin, the grief and disappoint-
ment she feels in learning that it is maggie he has meant
and not herself.) You know Maggie Cottrell ? (miss
HESELTINE bcnds her head.) She's a friend of yours ?
(miss HESELTINE bcuds her head again.) A great friend ?

miss HESELTINE. We are not in the same position,
of course, but she has always been kind to me and
taken notice of me.

ROBIN. Has she ever given you any confidences ?



ROBIN {shyly). Anything about me ?


ROBIN {with a little note of disappointment). Oh !
{Moving away as he says, thoughtfully.) That might
either mean that she takes no interest in me at all, or
that it's too deep for words. {To miss heseltine
again.) Are you sure you wouldn't mind ?

miss HESELTINE. I should like to do whatever would
please you, but — do you think I'm the best person for
this ?

ROBIN. You are the only person. I don't know any
one else I could ask such a thing of. I never feel shy
with you. I was telling my brother just now — it's like
thinking aloud to talk to you.

MISS HESELTINE {quietly). I'm glad you feel that.

ROBIN {not noticing miss heseltine, he says, smiling,
to himself). Dear Maggie — so young and so pretty.
(miss heseltine rises. He had almost forgotten her
presence for a moment in thinking of maggie. He turns
to her, smiling apologetically.) I beg your pardon.

miss heseltine. Forgive me for what I am going to
ask you. {She goes to him and says, very gravely.) You
are quite, quite sure that this would be for your happiness
and your good ?

robin. Yes, I'm quite sure. I've thought it all out.
It's so dull here, and I'm becoming such an old fogey.
If Maggie would have me she'd cheer me up as nobody
else could. She'd be the remaking of me.

miss heseltine {quietly). I'll do what you want me
to do.

robin. It's very kind of you. Miss Heseltine. You
can approach the subject quite lightly, you know —
almost chaffingly.

miss heseltine. Oh, no, I couldn't do it that way.
If I do it at all — I must do it seriously.

{The front door hell rings.)

robin. Maggie come back for her basket. I'll slip out
and leave her with you. {He goes towards the window.)
If you want an excuse for me not being in my study
{seizing the basket of grapes) I've gone into the jiantry
to put these grapes on a dish. That'll look very natural.
{He goes out hurriedly. Re-enter maggie by the door.)


MAGGIE {coming just inside the room). Isn't Mr.
Worthington here ?

MISS HESELTINE. He's gonc to get your basket.


MISS HESELTINE. Will you Stay and talk to me ?

MAGGIE. Yes — with pleasure.

{She sits on the settee watching miss heseltine
and waiting for her to begin the conversation.
miss HESELTINE slowly approaches maggie and
then sits beside her.)

MISS HESELTINE. Have you ever thought of marriage ?

MAGGIE {cheerfully). Oh, yes — often and often.

MISS HESELTINE. Thought what it means — to leave
your present life behind you and go and hve his life with
him ? You'd have to love him very much to do that.

MAGGIE. I should say so.

MISS HESELTINE. Perhaps you've already asked your-
self whether there's any one you'd be willing to give
up everything for ? (maggie smiles knowingly sideways
at MISS HESELTINE.) Do you soHietimes ask yourself
that question ?

MAGGIE. Every time I meet a nice-looking man.

MISS HESELTINE. Then you've never thought of any
man seriously ?

MAGGIE. Are you alluding to Mr. Worthington ?

MISS HESELTINE {rather taken back and embarrassed).
Well, yes — I — did mean

MAGGIE. Did he ask you to — to ?


MAGGIE. Sound me.


MAGGIE {pleased and surprised). Well, I never !

MISS HESELTINE. You may think it's funny for me
to sound you

MAGGIE. I didn't think of that. What made him
pitch on you ?

MISS HESELTINE {with a touch of pride). I know him
better than any one else does. I'm only his secretary,
of course, but I've been working for him for five years
now, and what wdth dictating to me, and talking about
his work to me, and saying his thoughts aloud to me

MAGGIE {with no idea of giving offence). He has come
to look upon you, I suppose, as part of your machine.


MISS HESELTiNE (meekly). That's it.

MAGGIE {impulsively seizing miss heseltine by the
arm). Go on — tell me — what else did he say ?

{Wriggling towards her.)

MISS heseltine. That's all. He just wanted me
to find out if there was any hope for him.

MAGGIE {whispering loudly in miss heseltine's ear).
Tell him " Yes."

MISS heseltine. Have you made up your mind
already ?

MAGGIE. Ages ago. Mother and I have frequently
discussed the probabilities. {Giggling.) " Mrs. Worth-
ington " — just think of it !

{She laughs and kicks out her feet in front.)

MISS HESELTINE {lookiug ot her gravely). I shouldn't
have thought it would make you laugh.

MAGGIE {sweetly). Why shouldn't I laugh if I'm
happy ?

MISS HESELTINE. I thought whcu you heard that a
man like Mr. Worthington wanted to make you his dear
wife — you'd feel more like going on your knees.

MAGGIE {impressed). Of course it has its serious

MISS HESELTINE. That's what I want you to see — if
you don't think I'm taking a liberty in saying so. I'm
older than you, and I've had a harder life than you.
There were many things at my home to make me grow
up sad and serious-minded : it's all been bright for you.
You^ve had no occasion yet to take life seriously — but
you will have when you marry. You'll find him diffi-
cult to understand at times — moody, and even a little
irritable, like all very clever people are ; then you must
be patient, and remember that your husband is a great
man. Some days he'll take himself off to the clouds,
and then, if you think of yourself more than him, you'll
be saying, " I might as well not exist for all the notice
he takes of me." Those are the hardest times — the
times when he doesn't seem to notice your existence.
But if you take a kind of pride in keeping quiet and not
bothering him, and not letting other people bother him —
it'll make it easier for you. It'll all be quite easy if you
love him enough. That's what it needs — real love —
deep love {bending forward she takes her hands), love


that knows how to wait patiently. Look after him
well — won't you ? {Her voice falters.) Excuse me
preaching you such a sermon. {Re-enter robin, with
the empty basket, miss iieseltine goes towards him.)
I've done what you wanted me to (robin smiles), and
now, if you don't mind, I'll go home. I've got a head-

{Exit MISS IIESELTINE quickly.)
ROBIN {looking after miss heseltine). I'm so sorry,
Miss Heseltine, so very sorry ! {He turns to maggie,
who rose when he entered. They are both exceedingly
embarrassed and stand smiling foolishly at each other.

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