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Title: Representative Plays by American Dramatists: 1856-1911: The Moth and the Flame
Author: Fitch, Clyde, 1865-1909
Language: English
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THE MOTH AND THE FLAME



[Illustration: CLYDE FITCH]



CLYDE FITCH

(1865-1909)


Clyde Fitch brought a vivacity to the American stage that no other
American playwright has thus far succeeded in emulating. The total
impression of his work leads one to believe that he also brought to
the American stage a style which was at the same time literary and
distinctly his own. His personality was interesting and lovable,
quickly responsive to a variety of human nature. No play of his was
ever wholly worthless, because of that personal equation which lent
youth and spontaneity to much of his dialogue. When he attained
popular fame, he threw off his dramas--whether original or adapted
from the French and German--with a rapidity and ease that did much to
create a false impression as to his haste and casualness. But Fitch,
though a nervously quick worker, was never careless. He pondered his
dramas long, he carried his characters in mind for years, he almost
memorized his dialogue before he set it down on paper. And if he wrote
in his little note-books with the same staccato speed that an artist
sketches, it was merely because he saw the picture vividly, and
because the preliminaries had been done beforehand.

The present Editor was privileged to know Fitch as a friend. And to be
taken into the magic circle was to be given freely of that personal
equation which made his plays so personal. This association was begun
over a negative criticism of a play. An invitation followed to come
and talk it over in his Fortieth Street study, the same room
which--decorations, furniture, books and all--was bequeathed to
Amherst College, and practically reproduces there the Fitchean
flavour.

I have seen Clyde Fitch on many diverse occasions. Through incisive
comment on people, contemporary manners, and plays, which was let drop
in conversation, I was able to estimate the natural tendency of
Fitch's mind. His interest was never concerned solely with dominant
characters; he was quick rather to sense the idiosyncrasies of the
average person. His observation was caught by the seemingly
unimportant, but no less identifying peculiarities of the middle
class. Besides which, his irony was never more happy than when aimed
against that social set which he knew, and good-humouredly satirized.

To know Clyde Fitch intimately--no matter for how short a while--was
to be put in possession of his real self. From early years, he showed
the same tendencies which later developed more fully, but were not
different. Success gave him the money to gratify his tastes for
_objets d'art_, which he used to calculate closely to satisfy in the
days when "Beau Brummell" and "Frédéric Lemaître" gave hint of his
dramatic talent. He was a man of deep sentiment, shown to his friends
by the countless graceful acts as host, and shown to his players. As
soon as a Fitch play began to be a commodity, coveted by the
theatrical manager, he nearly always had personal control of its
production, and could dictate who should be in his casts. No dramatist
has left behind him more profoundly pleasing memories of artistic
association than Clyde Fitch. The names of his plays form a roster of
stage associations--the identification of "Beau Brummell" with Richard
Mansfield; of "Nathan Hale" with N. C. Goodwin; of "Barbara Frietchie"
with Julia Marlowe; of "The Climbers" with Amelia Bingham; of "The
Stubbornness of Geraldine" with Mary Mannering; of "The Truth" and
"The Girl With Green Eyes" with Clara Bloodgood--to mention a few
instances. Those who recall happy hours spent with Fitch at his
country homes--either at "Quiet Corner," Greenwich, Connecticut, or at
"The Other House," Katonah, New York, have vivid memory of his
pervasive cordiality. His players, likewise, those whose identifying
talent caught his fancy, had the same care and attention paid them in
his playwriting. Sometimes, it may be, this graciousness of his made
him cut his cloth to suit the figure. "Beau Brummell" was the very
mold and fashion of Mansfield: but that was _Brummell's_ fault and
Mansfield's genius, to which was added the adaptability of Fitch. But
there are no seams or patches to "Captain Jinks of the Horse
Marines"--its freshness caught the freshness of Ethel Barrymore, and
Fitch was confident of the blend. His eye was unerring as to stage
effect, and he would go to all ends of trouble, partly for sentiment,
partly for accuracy, and always for novelty, to create the desired
results. Did he not, with his own hands, wire the apple-blossoms for
the orchard scene in "Lovers' Lane?" Was he not careful to get the
right colour for the dawn in "Nathan Hale," and the Southern evening
atmosphere in "Barbara Frietchie?" And in such a play as "Girls," did
he not delight in the accessories, like the clatter of the steam-pipe
radiator, for particular New York environment which he knew so
graphically how to portray?

That was the boy--the Peter Pan quality--in Clyde Fitch; it was not
his love for the trivial, for he could be serious in the midst of it.
His temperament in playwriting was as variable as Spring weather--it
was extravagant in its responsiveness to the momentary mood. He would
suggest a whole play in one scene; a real flash of philosophy or of
psychology would be lost in the midst of a slight play on words for
the sake of a laugh. One finds that often the case in "A Happy
Marriage." He was never more at home than when squeezing all the human
traits and humour out of a given situation, which was subsidiary to
the plot, yet in atmosphere complete in itself. The _Hunter's_
drawing-room just after the funeral, in "The Climbers;" the church
scene in "The Moth and the Flame," which for jocularity and small
points is the equal of Langdon Mitchell's wedding scene in "The New
York Idea," though not so sharply incisive in its satire; the deck on
board ship in "The Stubbornness of Geraldine" (so beautifully
burlesqued by Weber and Fields as "The Stickiness of Gelatine"); and
_Mr. Roland's_ rooms in _Mrs. Crespigny's_ flat, which almost upset,
in its humourous bad taste, the tragedy of "The Truth"--these are
instances of his unusual vein. One finds it is by these fine points,
these obvious clevernesses that Fitch paved the way to popular
success. But there was far more to him than this--there was the
literary sense which gave one the feeling of reality in his plays--not
alone because of novelty or familiarity of scene, but because of the
uttered word.

Human foibles and frailties were, therefore, his specialty. Out of his
vast product of playwriting, one remembers stories and scenes, rather
than personages; one recalls characteristics rather than characters;
one treasures quick interplay of words rather than the close reason
for such. Because of that, some are right in attributing to him a
feminine quickness of observation, or rather a minute observation for
the feminine. That is why he determined, in "The City," to dispel the
illusion that he could not write a man's play, or draw masculine
characters. Yet was not _Sam Coast_, in "Her Own Way," almost the
equal of _Georgiana Carley_?

I recall, one midnight--the week before Mr. Fitch sailed on his last
trip to Europe--he read me "The City," two acts of which were in
their final shape, the third in process of completion. There used to
be a superstition among the managers to the effect that if you ever
wished to consider a play by Fitch, he must be kept from reading it
himself; for if he did, you would accept it on the spot. All the
horror of that powerful arraignment of city life, and the equally
powerful criticism of country life, was brought out on this evening we
were together, and I was able to see just where, as a stage director,
Clyde Fitch must have been the mainstay at rehearsals. He never lived
to give the final touches to his manuscript of "The City,"--touches
which always meant so much to him; he was dead by the time rehearsals
were called, and there slipped from the performance some of the
significant atmosphere he described to me.

There comes vividly to my mind his questions after the reading--trying
out his effects on me, so to speak. Rapidly he reviewed the work on
the third act he had planned for the morrow, consulting with me as
though suddenly I had become a collaborator. In such a way he must
have planned with Mansfield over _Brummell_; thus he may have worked
with Julia Marlowe, telling her some of the romantic incidents he had
drawn from his mother's own Maryland love story for "Barbara
Frietchie." In the same naïve spirit, he consulted, by letter, with
Arthur Byron for his "stardom" in "Major André"--which waned so soon
after the first night.

Everything about the room that evening he read "The City" bore
evidence of the playwright's personality. The paintings and
bric-à-brac, the books--mostly biography and letters--the tapestries
which seemed to blend with the bowls of flowers and furniture of
French design, the windows looking out on lawns, gardens, and a pond
with swans upon it, the moonlight on the Cupids that kept guard at
intervals along the top of a snakelike stone fence--and Fitch, vital,
happy in his work, happy in his friends, happy in life, as he had
planned to live it in the years to come. And death waiting him across
the water!

"Beau Brummell" began Clyde Fitch's career as a dramatist. It was
produced at the New York Madison Square Theatre, May 17, 1890. At that
time he had not evinced any determination to be a dramatist--but was
writing juvenile sketches for _The Churchman_, afterwards gathered in
a charming volume called "The Knighting of the Twins, and Ten Other
Tales" (1891). Previous to this, he had attempted "A Wave of Life"--a
novel whose chief value is autobiographic. Then he showed his clever
facility at dialogue in a collection of "Six Conversations and Some
Correspondence;" also in "The Smart Set." But, after the success of
"Brummell," followed by "Frédéric Lemaître" (December 1, 1890) for
Henry Miller, a dramatic season hardly passed that Fitch was not
represented on the bill-boards by two or three comedies. It was very
rarely that he rewrote his dramas under new titles; it was unusual for
him to use over again material previously exploited. Exceptions to
this were in the cases of "The Harvest," a one-act sketch given by the
New York Theatre of Arts and Letters (January 26, 1893), afterwards
(April 11, 1898) included as an act of "The Moth and the Flame;"
"Mistress Betty" (October 15, 1895), for Mme. Modjeska, afterwards
revamped as "The Toast of the Town" (November 27, 1905) for Viola
Allen. Interest in the period of Beau Brummell stretched over into
"The Last of the Dandies" for Beerbohm Tree. But otherwise the bulk of
his work came each season as a Fitch novelty. He often played against
himself, the popularity of one play killing the chances of the other.
For instance, when "Lovers' Lane" opened in New York, there were also
running "Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines," "Barbara Frietchie" and
"The Climbers." When "The Cowboy and the Lady" was given in
Philadelphia, "Nathan Hale" beat it in box-office receipts, and Fitch
wrote to a friend: "If any play is going to beat it, I'd rather it was
one of mine, eh?"

By the time he was ready to write "The Moth and the Flame," Fitch had
won distinction with a variety of picturesque pieces, like "His Grace
de Grammont," for Otis Skinner, and "Nathan Hale," for Goodwin and
Maxine Elliott. It may be said to have come just when his vivacity was
on the increase, for touches in it gave foretaste of his later society
dramas, and showed his planning, in the manner of the French, for
excellent theatrical effect. He was to become more expert in the use
of materials, but no whit less clever in his expansion of "small talk"
and society shallowness.

"The Harvest" is an early example of Fitch's method of workmanship. It
was carefully planned and quickly written; in fact, it was set down on
paper while Fitch was on the four o'clock train between New York and
Boston; his motive was to show the dangerous power and fascination of
a clever, dissipated, attractive man-of-the-world on a young girl,
who, in her innocence, does not understand the warnings given her on
all sides. The idea grew in his mind, and this growth resulted in "The
Moth and the Flame," which entered more fully into the "fast" life of
a man about town, and the dangerous ignorance of the society girl.
Fitch loved to sketch the smart woman, like _Mrs. Lorrimer_, who, as
someone has said, is frivolously constituted, but sharply witty and
with some depth of heart. The fancy-dress party scene is
autobiographic, he having attended such an occasion at Carroll
Beckwith's studio, in New York. In technique, this scene is comparable
with the one of similar gaiety in "Lord and Lady Algy"--both having an
undercurrent of serious strain. The tragedy motive is relieved at
almost calculated times by comedy, which shows that Fitch held to the
old dramatic theory of comic relief. Often this was irritating,
discounting the mood he was trying to maintain. He was not as skilful
in the use of these varying elements as Pinero, with whom he might be
compared--not for strength of characterization, for fullness of story
or for the sheer art of interest, but for creative vitality and
variety, as well as for literary feeling in the use of materials. But
more important than all these was his desire to be true to the
materials he had selected. On this subject he always had much to say,
and his comments about Truth in the theatre comprise an enlightening
exposition of his dramatic theory. This it is well to examine. In
1901, he adapted, from the French, "Sapho"--to the production of which
was attached some unpleasant notoriety--and "The Marriage Game." And
of these he wrote (in _Harper's Weekly_), in response to current
criticism, as follows:

    It is only fair to myself and to my work done on the two
    plays to say that my intention and desire in both instances
    were to be faithful to the French original, and to have the
    outcome a resultant moral--to the good. To put it mildly, I
    do not seem to have created that impression exactly in the
    minds of the public. From their verdict and yours I have
    picked myself up, pulled myself together, and realized my
    failure. I had thought I was taking a building from one
    country and rebuilding it in another with the same stones,
    but I discovered I had apparently pulled down one structure
    and raised no other. Believe me, no one regretted this more
    than I. But I think I have finally learned my lesson. I have
    learned another thing that I can't do, and I have added it to
    the list of things I sha'n't try to do. What I _am_ trying to
    do is to reflect life of all kinds as I see it. To write,
    first, plays that will interest and mean something; and,
    after that, amuse. I would rather entertain everybody than
    one body. And always and in any case with a result to the
    good. I am trying especially to reflect our own life of the
    present, and to get into the heart of the pictures made by
    the past. To do this I do not consider any detail too small,
    so long as it is not boring. Nor any method wrong which I
    feel to be true. I am naturally not always believed in, and I
    do not always make myself clear. Sometimes I think I am
    misunderstood through laziness. To give one instance, of one
    or the other: in a recent play of mine, 'The Climbers',
    something which I meant to be psychologically true was taken
    to be a theatrical trick. A man who was dishonest in
    business, but who loved his wife with the really strong love
    that such weak natures are capable of, is asked to look that
    wife in the face and, before a group of angry friends and
    relatives, confess the extent of his crime, his disgrace! I
    felt, and I still feel, the man couldn't look into his wife's
    eyes and say the whole ugly truth. And doubly he couldn't
    with the to him cruel environment of the outraged circle
    holding back the sympathy of his wife from him. He would feel
    and cry out to her, 'Let me tell you alone, if I must tell
    it, and _in the dark, in the dark_!' when he could not see
    the heart-breaking shame grow upon her face, nor see his own
    guilty face reflected in her eyes. The end of this sentence
    he would reiterate, grasping it, too, on the impulse, as a
    means to put off the ordeal. 'In the dark,--later in the
    dark', he would tell her everything. But there is no time to
    be lost if a public scandal is to be averted. The worst must
    be known at once. The chief friend of them all is there. It
    is he who is to fight hardest to save them. He knows the
    house well, and besides he has seen that very evening, after
    dinner, the lights turned on by the servant with the electric
    lever. He stands beside this lever. He quickly seizes the
    last sentence of the cornered guilty man, and, before the
    latter can think or retract, cries: 'Tell it in the dark,
    then!' and plunges the room in darkness. The natural impulse
    of that defaulter under those circumstances would be to blurt
    out with it; at least so I believe. Such was his vacillating,
    impulsive nature. And for the same reason the attempt to
    escape in the dark, which was silly, futile! It was another
    sudden impulse; had it been otherwise, he was far too
    sensible to have tried it. I developed that scene by taking
    the place mentally, or trying to, of each one of the persons
    engaged in it. I did not start with the so-called 'dark
    scene'. I had no idea I was going to do what I did until I
    reached the moment in my writing when it had to be done--at
    least done that way or not at all. As it occurred to me, so
    it would have occurred to the friend in the play. And so it
    did! And knowing this evolution of the scene, I cannot think
    myself that it was 'a theatrical trick'. In all cases I try
    to paint my personages from the inside instead of the out,
    and to cling to human nature as both my starting-point and my
    goal. This is what I want to do and am trying to do--in a
    sentence--to tell the Truth in the Theatre. I am trying
    honestly, and my heart is in it. That's all, except that I am
    glad of your belief in me.

This frankness and sincerity were typical of Fitch's correspondence
with everyone who took him seriously. He went to every pains to
explain himself, and no man more gratefully acknowledged earnest
attention. It was his quickness to detect in others the spark of
creative appreciation that made him answer letters to perfect
strangers, giving them advice as to playwriting. "I like the tone of
that man's note," he once said to me. "I'll send for him; he may be a
good actor."

It was not often that he wrote on the theory of his work. There is an
essay by him, published in 1904, and called "The Play and the Public."
It is often quoted. But a good thing bears constant repetition, and
the following sounds Fitch's conviction on a fundamental belief:

    I feel myself very strongly the particular value--a value
    which, rightly or wrongly, I can't help feeling
    inestimable--in a modern play of reflecting absolutely and
    truthfully the life and environment about us; every class,
    every kind, every emotion, every motive, every occupation,
    every business, every idleness! Never was life so varied, so
    complex; what a choice, then! Take what strikes you most, in
    the hope it will interest others. Take what suits you most to
    do--what perhaps you can do best--and then do it better. Be
    truthful, and then nothing can be too big, nothing should be
    too small, so long as it is here, and _there_! Apart from the
    question of literature, apart from the question of art,
    reflect the real thing with true observation and with sincere
    feeling for what it is and what it represents, and that is
    art and literature in a modern play. If you inculcate an idea
    in your play, so much the better for your play and for
    you--and for your audience. In fact, there is small hope for
    your play _as_ a play if you haven't some small idea in it
    somewhere and somehow, even if it is hidden--it is sometimes
    better for you if it is hidden, but it must of course be
    integral. Some ideas are mechanical. Then they are no good.
    These are the ideas for which the author does all the work,
    instead of letting the ideas do the work for him. One should
    write what one sees, but observe under the surface. It is a
    mistake to look at the reflection of the sky in the water of
    theatrical convention. Instead, look up and into the sky of
    real life itself.

All sound advice, and a compressed manual of dramatic technique for
the beginner! But Fitch had the darting eye of a migratory interest.
He often didn't "follow through," as they say in golf. With the
result that he is often scored for insufficient motivation. But my
knowledge of him makes me realize he felt and saw deeper than his
epigrammatic style indicated. His technique was therefore often
threadbare in spots,--not of that even mesh which makes of Pinero such
an exceptional designer. I would put Fitch's "Captain Jinks of the
Horse Marines" above Edward Sheldon's "Romance" for the faithful
reproduction of early New York atmosphere. I would put it by the side
of Pinero's "Trelawney of the 'Wells'." But there is no play of
Fitch's which, for strength, I would hold beside "The Thunderbolt." In
his feminine analyses, too, he did not probe as deep as Pinero.

Within a few months of his death, Fitch was asked to deliver an
address on the theatre at Harvard and at Yale. He enlarged his
magazine article on "The Play and the Public" for that purpose. It is
now easily accessible, included in the fourth volume of the Memorial
Edition of his plays. It was found among his many papers and
unfinished manuscripts. There is no recent playwright whose "Life and
Letters" are more worthy of preservation. I have looked through most
of the materials; have seen letters descriptive of his childhood in
Schenectady, New York, (he was born, May 2, 1865 in Elmira); have read
accounts of his student days at Amherst, where vagaries of dress used
to stir his associates to student pranks; have relished an illustrated
diary he kept while tutoring in his early years of struggle, his
father refusing to countenance playwriting instead of architecture.
These early years were filled with the same vivacity, affection and
sympathy which later made him such a rare friend. It bears repeating
what has been often said before--he had a genius for friendship, and
an equal genius for losing those he did not want.

Such a biography as should be written of his picturesque popularity as
a playwright would mostly be autobiographic. For a letter from Fitch
had rare flavour, more personal than his plays but of the same
Fitchean quality. It would, as well, be a personal record of the
stage, and would set at rest many myths that have floated around his
name--such as William Winter wilfully circulated about "Beau
Brummell."[A]

"The Moth and the Flame" is here reproduced because it has never
before been issued, and should be made available to the student of
American Drama. To say that it is typically Fitchean does not mean
that, in technique or in characterization, it is his best. But it is
confession that whatever he wrote bore that incommunicable touch which
gives him a unique position--a position no American playwright thus
far has been able to usurp.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote A: Since this was written, it has been announced that a
volume, "Clyde Fitch and his Letters," is being prepared by the
Editors of the "Memorial Edition" of Fitch's plays.]



LYCEUM THEATRE.                            12th Season.

NEW YORK THEATRE CO.,                        PROPRIETORS

DANIEL FROHMAN,                                 MANAGER

       *       *       *       *       *

WEEK COMMENCING MONDAY EVENING, APRIL 11, 1898.

Evenings at 8.30. Thursday and Saturday Matinees, at 2.15.

       *       *       *       *       *

DANIEL FROHMAN takes pleasure in presenting

=THE KELCEY-SHANNON=
COMPANY,

_Herbert Kelcey, Effie Shannon, Wm. J. LeMoyne, Sarah Cowell
LeMoyne_ and their organization, under the management of

SAMUEL F. KINGSTON, presenting

=THE MOTH AND THE FLAME=

an Original Play, in Three Acts.

By CLYDE FITCH.

       *       *       *       *       *

CAST OF CHARACTERS.

EDWARD FLETCHER                              Mr. KELCEY
MR. DAWSON                           Mr. WM. J. LeMOYNE
MR. WOLTON                             Mr. E. W. THOMAS
DOUGLAS RHODES                          Mr. BRUCE McRAE
JOHNSTONE                                Mr. EDWARD SEE
FANSHAW                              Mr. DAVID TORRENCE
TRIMMINS                          Mr. EDW. H. WILKINSON
CLERGYMAN                          Mr. SYLVESTER DEEHAN
HOWES                                   Mr. EDWIN JAMES
  MARION WOLTON                            Miss SHANNON
  MRS. LORRIMER               Mrs. SARAH COWELL LeMOYNE
  MRS. WOLTON                       Mrs. ISABEL WALDRON
  JEANNETTE GROSS                  Miss ELEANOR MORETTI
  ETHEL                                Miss LEILA ELLIS
  KITTY                              Miss EDNA PHILLIPS
  GERTRUDE                          Miss ETHEL KINGSTON
  BLANCHE                              Miss MARY HANSON
  BESSY                                 Miss MAMIE DUNN
  MRS. FLETCHER, SR.                Mrs. FRANCES FERREN
  MAID                                Miss EMMA JANVIER

Guests, Bridesmaids, etc., by Pupils of the Stanhope-Wheatcroft School.

Produced under the stage direction of the Author.

Costumes for Act I. from special designs executed by Maurice Herrmann.

Programme continued on second page following.



ACT I.--

        _Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Wolton
                   At Home
        Tuesday Evening, January ----
              at Ten O'clock._

_Children's Costumes
    de rigueur._               _---- East 69th Street._

       *       *       *       *       *

ACT II.--_One year later_--

            _Mrs. Lawrence Wolton
     requests the honor of your presence
       at the Marriage of her Daughter,
                   Marion,
                     to
        Mr. Edward Houghton Fletcher,
          Thursday, February 10th,
              at Five o'clock,
       St. Hubert's Chapel, New York._

       *       *       *       *       *

ACT III.--THE FOLLOWING DAY.



THE MOTH AND THE FLAME

_By_ CLYDE FITCH

COPYRIGHT, 1908

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BY CLYDE FITCH AND ALICE KAUSER

Copyright, 1919, by E. P. Dutton & Company, Alice Kauser, and Frank E.
Whitman and Bernard M. L. Ernst, as Executors of the Estate of Alice
M. Fitch, deceased.


[The Editor wishes to record here, in memoriam, his grateful
appreciation of the desire shown by the late Mrs. Fitch to have in the
present Collection a hitherto unpublished play by her son, Clyde
Fitch. Through her courtesy, "The Moth and the Flame" is here
included.]



CAST OF CHARACTERS

EDWARD FLETCHER
MR DAWSON
MR WOLTON
DOUGLAS RHODES
JOHNSTONE
FANSHAW
TRIMMINS
CLERGYMAN
HOWES
MARION WOLTON
MRS. LORRIMER
MRS. WOLTON
JEANETTE GROSS
ETHEL
KITTY
GERTRUDE
BLANCHE
MAID
MRS. FLETCHER

_Guests, Bridesmaids, Choristers, Servants and others_.



ACT I.


    SCENE. _The First Act takes place in the_ WOLTON'S _house
    during a large fancy ball. All the guests are in children's
    costumes--that being insisted upon in the invitations. The
    stage represents a reception-room; the end of a conservatory,
    or ball-room, being seen through a large archway. In the
    upper right hand corner of the stage is a small stage built
    with curtains and foot-lights, for an amateur vaudeville
    performance, which is taking place._

    _At rise of curtain the room is filled with guests in
    costume, on chairs before improvised stage, and the curtain
    of stage is just falling, as one of the Lady Guests--who,
    dressed (and blacked) as a small Darky Girl, has been singing
    a popular negro ballad ("Warmest Baby.") The mimic curtain
    rises again, owing to the applause of the mimic audience. The
    chorus of song is repeated and the curtain again falls to
    applause. There is a general movement among guests--with
    laughter and conversation._

    DISCOVERED. MARION WOLTON, _dressed in Empire Child's gown,
    is sitting in one of the third row of chairs next the
    foot-lights. Up to now her back is partly turned toward the
    audience._ KITTY RAND, _dressed in short skirts, is just
    behind her_.

FANSHAW. [_Leaning over to_ MARION.] I think, Marion, this was really
a most amusing idea of yours, having us all come as children.

    _Enter_ DOUGLAS RHODES, _in white sailor costume. He meets_
    MRS. WOLTON _who enters. They talk._

MARION. [_To_ KITTY.] Your costume, Kitty, is charming.

KITTY. [_With a ball on rubber cord._] My dear, I'm sure I look a
sight. I feel as if it were bathing hour at Narragansett.

MARION. Here's Bessie. How splendid she was. [_Rises._] [_Enter_
BESSIE. _She laughs as she is greeted by shouts of laughter and
applause by guests. She joins_ MARION, _who shakes her hand_.] You
were too funny, Bessie. [_A guest rises and offers seat to_ BESSIE.
_She accepts it and sits._

JOHNSTONE. [_Monkey; white kilt suit._] [_To_ BESSIE _as she sits_.]
Yes. Isn't this an awfully lovely party? [_To_ FANSHAW.] Here,
Fanshaw, it's your turn.

GUESTS _and_ ALL. Yes, come on Fanshaw, etc. [FANSHAW _exits_.

RHODES _comes from_ MRS. WOLTON, _nodding pleasantly to guests as he
passes round behind them, to_ MARION. _He shakes her hand._

MARION. Why so late, Douglas?

DOUGLAS. I was dining with Mrs. Lorrimer; but I hope you've saved me a
seat by you. [BLANCHE _exits, ready for stage_.

MARION. I'm sorry, but I haven't. There's the curtain.

   _She sits and_ DOUGLAS _takes a place back of guests, shaking
   hands with_ TRIMMINS _as he does so. Mimic curtain rises,
   music begins, all interrupt with "Sh-h."_ FANSHAW _enters on
   mimic stage, dressed as Little Lord Fauntleroy, and sings.
   Mimic curtain falls to applause. Curtain is raised. Black
   rag-baby thrown to him during song._ FANSHAW _enters, bows,
   and, as he does so_, BLANCHE _throws a small bouquet of
   flowers to him. This he catches and makes entrance upon stage
   by jumping over mimic foot-lights. He is congratulated and
   thanked by_ MARION _and resumes his seat_.

   _Music begins. All interrupt again with "Sh-h." Curtain is
   raised, and enter_ ETHEL, _dressed as a child of 1840, in
   white and green. She comes forward and sings_ ("_Henrietta_"),
   _with orchestral accompaniment, a flute obligato being a
   feature of the latter, which, every little while, indulges in
   loud variations, entirely drowning the singer's voice, much to
   her annoyance, and the only half-suppressed amusement of the
   guests. As she reaches the chorus all_ (_at_ MARION'S
   _suggestion_) _join in with her and finish the song_. MARION
   _rises, giving the signal that the entertainment is over.
   Servants come in and take away most of the chairs, leaving one
   in centre of stage and three up toward the left centre. All
   rise and form groups; those of guests near the door move into
   ball-room and off._ ETHEL _enters, and_ MARION _at once greets
   her_, KITTY _and_ JOHNSTONE _joining them_.

MARION. Thank you ever so much.

JOHNSTONE. Yes, indeed. Isn't this an awfully lovely party.

ETHEL. [_With large hoople and stick; quickly, much put out_.] My dear
Marion, I could choke that flute player.

MARION. Don't be selfish, Ethel; the man wanted to be heard. [_Goes up
to_ DOUGLAS.

ETHEL. If I were a witch, I'd curse him with asthma. Mr. Johnstone, go
and curse him for me.

JOHNSTONE. With pleasure.

ETHEL. Just give him a piece of my mind. [_Enter_ GIRL.

JOHNSTONE. [_Flatteringly._] He doesn't deserve such a gift. But isn't
this a lovely party? Will you excuse me? [_He goes up stage to_
BLANCHE, _offers his arm, which she takes, and they exit._ KITTY _and_
ETHEL _watch_ BLANCHE _and_ JOHNSTONE, _amused._

KITTY. [_To_ ETHEL.] Just look at Blanche. Do you suppose she's going
to--

ETHEL. She's going to with all her might and main, if he will only ask
her.

KITTY. A large if-- [_Laughing._ FANSHAW _and_ GERTRUDE _join_ ETHEL
_and_ KITTY _down stage._

FANSHAW. Looks as if Johnny were getting pretty stuck on Blanche,
doesn't it? [_Goes to_ KITTY. TRIMMINS _moves up centre._

ETHEL. Yes, or just the other way round. [_All laugh._

GERTRUDE. Who are you dancing the cotillon with, Ethel?

ETHEL. Don't know. I've promised two men, but I haven't made up my
mind who I'll dance with yet.

FANSHAW. A nice person to engage for a partner. [_Calling._] Trimmins!

ETHEL. Sh-h! He's one of the men I've promised.

FANSHAW. [_Laughing._] Never mind. I'm the other. [_All laugh._
GERTRUDE _says_, "Oh, Ethel!" GERTRUDE _goes toward_ MARION, ETHEL _and_
KITTY _at same time._ MARION _exits._

FANSHAW. [_To_ TRIMMINS.] Who are you dancing the cotillon with,
Trimmins?

TRIMMINS. Ethel Stevens!

FANSHAW. Who?

TRIMMINS. Ethel Stevens!

FANSHAW. I'll bet a fiver you're not. She's dancing with me.

TRIMMINS. [_Very pleased._] Delighted! I owe you the five with joy.
[_Rushes_ FANSHAW _out of the way. Crossing to_ GERTRUDE.] Will you
give me the pleasure? [DOUGLAS _out at back, exits._] Thank you.
[_Offers his arm, which_ GERTRUDE _takes, and they go out at back._

FANSHAW. Well!

MARION. Are you going to stand perfectly still and be robbed in that
manner? [_Laughing._

FANSHAW. Well, but what am I-- [_Interrupted by one of the girl
guests, who says_, "I'm here!"] Oh, so you are. [_Puts his arm in
hers, and they run off together._

ETHEL. Marion, isn't Mr. Ned Fletcher coming to-night?

MARION. Yes. [_Exit._

KITTY. I'm so glad; he's quite the most amusing man in town this
winter. [_Sitting on chair which servant left._

ETHEL. And so many people won't ask him to their houses, you know.
Mamma won't.

KITTY. Well, you know, your mother's a ridiculous person; she asks
lots of awfully fast men!

ETHEL. Yes, but they are all relatives.

KITTY. [_Putting arm around_ ETHEL, _pricks her finger._] I don't
believe Net Fletcher is as bad as people hint. He's too good looking.
[_Fixing dress._

ETHEL. And I don't care whether he's bad or not, he's charming enough
to make up for it. Besides, I suppose all men are bad.

KITTY. Oh--I don't know.

ETHEL. I mean all nice men.

KITTY. Where has Mr. Fletcher been before this winter?

ETHEL. My dear, he's one of those men who live all over the
place--most of the time in Europe--but he's been here always off and
on--and in Newport and in Lenox he has yachts and things, don't you
know! [_Exits down right._

MARION. [_Enters._] Girls, will you go into the ball-room, till the
men get the tables ready here? [_She speaks aside to one of the
servants, and exits. Servants bring on small table and place it with
bottles, lunch, etc., a broken glass covered with napkins to fall on
stage. Place seven chairs about table. Exit._

ETHEL. _Of course._ [_To_ KITTY, _crossing to her._] Do you notice how
she won't talk about Fletcher and won't listen to any one else either?

KITTY. My dear, she's heels over head.

ETHEL. Poor Douglas Rhodes! [_Half smiling, in part satire._

KITTY. Serves him right for hanging around her all his life! Why
didn't he flirt with one of us girls for a time, if only to make her
jealous! [ETHEL _sees_ DOUGLAS _enter, and tries to warn_ KITTY. ETHEL
_gives_ KITTY _a violent pull of the arm to warn her to stop speaking
of_ DOUGLAS.

ETHEL. [_To_ DOUGLAS.] You can't stay here; we're driven out.

KITTY. Come, help us make fun of the other people.

DOUGLAS. In a few minutes. I must give you a chance to make fun of me!

KITTY. Oh, we've been doing that for years! [_ETHEL blows DOUGLAS'
whistle which he has suspended from neck, pulling it out of his
pocket. ETHEL and KITTY smile coquettishly at DOUGLAS and exit into
ball-room, arm in arm. Distant music off stage. DOUGLAS follows up
centre. A pause. Enter MARION. DOUGLAS, up stage, looks admiringly at
her, and smiles. Then, smiling and putting himself into a boyish
attitude, he says boyishly._

DOUGLAS. Hello, Molly!

MARION. [_Smiling back, catching his mood, speaks girlishly._] Hello,
Dug! It does take one back to old days, doesn't it!

DOUGLAS. That was what I was thinking of, Marion, the days of
dancing-school. How good you were to always be my partner, even though
I couldn't reverse without treading on your toes!

MARION. [_Smiling._] You were a bad dancer--and death to slippers.

DOUGLAS. And the children's parties, with the old games, "Post
Office," "Copenhagen," "Kiss in the Ring."

MARION. [_Smiling mischievously._] You were good enough at "Kiss in
the Ring" to make up for your not reversing.

DOUGLAS. [_With real sentiment, crosses to her._] Do you remember it
all as well as I do?

MARION. [_Realizing his sentiment, and trying to change their mood,
but pleasantly._] Of course I do! We were great friends then, as we
are now, and as I hope we always will be, Douglas.

DOUGLAS. But if we played the old games again, would it be the same?

MARION. No, no, things are never the same.

DOUGLAS. But would you let me choose you always? Would you pretend not
to see me coming, so I could slap your hands on the Copenhagen rope
and take my reward? If we played "Post Office," would _I_ have all my
letters from _your_ lips! Would you mind if, in "bow to the wittiest,
kneel to the prettiest, and kiss the one you loved best," I choose you
again, openly, for all three? Would you give me _all_ your dances?

MARION. [_More serious, though still smiling kindly, sweetly._] That's
just it, Douglas! You can reverse now, and there are so many other
girls wanting partners!

DOUGLAS. But-- [_Interrupted._

MARION. Besides, after all, we're only children _outside_ to-night;
our _hearts_ have come of age!

DOUGLAS. Yes, Marion, but, boy's and man's, my heart's the same. I
want the same partner I did then, only I want her for the game of
life!

MARION. I am so sorry!

DOUGLAS. Sorry? Then you won't let your hands lie on the rope for me
any more?

MARION. I am very fond of you, Douglas, and I always was, but-- [_She
hesitates._

DOUGLAS. [_A little bitterly, disappointed._] I know what you mean. I
was all right for dancing-school, but life is a more serious
matter-- [_MARION goes to chair and sits down._] I know I'm not like
you, Marion--I know what an intellectual woman you are, and what an
ordinary sort of fellow I am. But I _love_ you! and I hoped-- [_He
breaks off and continues with his first idea._] You went to a woman's
college, and I _only_ to a _man's_--You made a study of sociology--I,
[_Smiling._] principally of athletics. I know I never read books, and
you seem to read everything. But I love you. You have your clubs for
working girls, your charities; I know the busy, helpful life you lead.
You have so much in it, I was in hopes that what room was left for a
_husband_ was so little, even _I_ could fill it. And somehow or other
I've always taken it for granted you more or less understood, and
were--willing.

MARION. I was--once--

DOUGLAS. You were?

MARION. There was no one in the world I liked so much to be with as
you, and I think I, too, believed my happiness was in your hands, and
that some day we would decide together it was so. But I lately-- [_She
hesitates._

DOUGLAS. Some one else?

MARION. I don't like you one bit less, Douglas, only-- [_Rises._

DOUGLAS. Only you liked some one else more! I was afraid so. I've
heard whispers and guesses--

MARION. Don't let it make any difference with _us_, Douglas!

DOUGLAS. You love him?

MARION. Yes.

DOUGLAS. Very much?

MARION. You see, every one is against him, and I feel that I have a
chance to save him.

DOUGLAS. You believe in him?

MARION. [_Shortly._] Yes.

DOUGLAS. Would you believe anything against him?

MARION. [_On the defensive, indignant._] _No!_

DOUGLAS. If some one told you of something dishonourable this man had
done?

MARION. I would suspect the motive of the person who told me. Do you
think I haven't heard plenty of gossip against him? Every girl I know
has done her best to take away his character, and _begged me to
introduce him to her_ in the same breath.

DOUGLAS. And if I spoke against him?

MARION. [_Leaning on back of chair._] I know I couldn't help it, after
what you have told me; I should have to feel you might be influenced
by jealousy.

DOUGLAS. To _unjustly_ accuse a man?

MARION. Oh, Douglas, no, of course you would believe what you said,
but I wouldn't trust your judgment. Don't I know every one is down on
him. Even you men; are all the men in New York so proud of their past
lives--not to mention the _present_ of several I know?--Well, if men
turn a cold shoulder, then we women must give him our hands.

DOUGLAS. You girls don't understand.

MARION. Oh, girls understand a good deal nowadays. Society and some of
the newspapers attend to that. He doesn't pretend to be a saint to
me--I find him perfectly frank--and I am afraid he has been rather
fast! But I don't believe he is capable of an outright dishonourable
action, and nothing would make me believe it!

DOUGLAS. No proof?

MARION. Only the proof of my own eyes. When I see him do something
contemptible, then I'll believe _half_ the stories I hear of him!
[_Moving a little up centre._

DOUGLAS. I see you _do_ love him.

MARION. I do, though you are the only person I have confessed it
to,--not even to him--and forgive me, [_Down a little._] but I never
liked you less than I do now when you have spoken against him. [_Up to
arch._

DOUGLAS. [_Following her._] No, tell me you will forget it, and keep
me the same old friend, and I'll promise not to speak against him to
you again.

MARION. [_Smiling._] Very well-- [_They shake hands._] Why, I want you
two to be the best of friends--you _must_ be--

DOUGLAS. [_Also smiling._] Oh, I don't promise that--I haven't given
you up yet, and I sha'n't until--

MARION. [_Smiling._] When--?

DOUGLAS. [_Smiling._] Until I see you going into the church to be
married.

MARION. You'll say nothing more against Ned?

DOUGLAS. Not to you. [_Moving down, right centre._

MARION. Oh, but you will to others? [_Follows._

DOUGLAS. I will say what I have to say to--_him._

MARION. To _him?_

    _Enter_ MRS. WOLTON _and_ FLETCHER. FLETCHER _is dressed in
    dark sailor clothes._

MRS. WOLTON. Marion, here's another little boy. [MARION _turns and
greets_ FLETCHER, _going to him._ DOUGLAS _and_ FLETCHER _see each
other and say_ "Good evening" _pleasantly._

MARION. It's too bad you missed the vaudeville.

FLETCHER. Did _you_ do anything. [MARION _laughs and exits with_
FLETCHER.

   DOUGLAS _turns around quickly, annoyed, to speak to_ MRS.
   WOLTON, _but, in his quick turning and in his movement of
   annoyance, keeping his eyes on_ MARION _and_ FLETCHER, _he has
   struck glasses and a bottle on the little supper-table beside
   them. They crash on the floor. He and_ MRS. WOLTON _both
   start._

DOUGLAS. Oh! Mrs. Wolton, forgive me; how clumsy! [_Starts to pick
up._

MRS. WOLTON. No, never mind. [_As_ SERVANT _enters_.] Here is
Howes-- [_To_ SERVANT.] Howes, see to this, please, at once.

SERVANT. Yes, m'm. Please, Mr. Dawson is here to see Mr. Wolton.

MRS. WOLTON. Mr. Dawson, my brother! Why, he's in Boston, Howes.

SERVANT. Beg pardon, m'm, but he must have returned to-day. Most
important, he says, m'm. Where shall I show him? The ladies and
gentlemen are playing "Blind Man's Buff" in Mr. Wolton's room.

MRS. WOLTON. This is the quietest place. Show Mr. Dawson in here.
Where is Mr. Wolton?

SERVANT. [_Trying not to smile._] He's blind-folded, m'm!

MRS. WOLTON. [_Smiling._] Tell him.

SERVANT. Yes, m'm. [_Exits._

DOUGLAS. Shall we join the game?

MRS. WOLTON. Yes, come, I will take Mr. Wolton's place! I haven't
played Blind Man's Buff for-- [_She calculates a moment, and then
speaks amusedly._] Good gracious!--_never mind how many years_!!

DOUGLAS. Oh, not so many as all that, I am sure! [_They go out at
back._

    _Enter_ SERVANT _with_ DAWSON _in cutaway coat and vest and
    usual trousers._ SERVANT _at once begins to pick up the
    debris made by_ DOUGLAS.

DAWSON. What's going on here, Howes?

SERVANT. A children's party, sir.

DAWSON. A what?

SERVANT. A children's party, sir.

DAWSON. Who are the children?

SERVANT. Mr. Wolton and Miss Wolton, sir, and her friends. Mr.
Wolton's playing games now, sir, but he said he would join you in a
minute.

DAWSON. [_Out loud, involuntarily, but speaking to himself--very
seriously, almost tragically._] Playing games! My God!

SERVANT. Yes, sir--one don't know what rich folks'll do next, sir.
_We're_ in hopes, in the kitchen, they'll take to pretending they're
the servants, sir, and turn us loose in the ball-room. [_Smiling.
Exits._

DAWSON. [_Who hardly hears_ SERVANT.] Playing games, with ruin and
disgrace staring him in the face. [_Enter_ MR. WOLTON.

MR. WOLTON. [_Flushed and gay--an elderly man in knickerbockers and
evening coat, a sort of English Court costume. The handkerchief, which
was tied around his eyes in the game, has slipped, and lies about his
neck._] Well, Fred, what's the good news?

DAWSON. The worst there could be!

MR. WOLTON. [_Half whispers._] What do you mean!!

DAWSON. [_Dragging off the Blind Man's Buff handkerchief from_
WOLTON'S _neck_.] What do you mean by going in for all this
tomfoolery, to-night, with ruin and disgrace ready for you in the
morning?

MR. WOLTON. So soon--?

DAWSON. How much longer did you think you could stave it off?

MR. WOLTON. [_Sinks exhausted into a chair._] I didn't know.

DAWSON. Why didn't you tell me your credit was as exhausted in Boston
as here? [_Taking chair from table, and sitting right of_ WOLTON.

MR. WOLTON. I thought, with you doing the negotiating, it mightn't be!

DAWSON. Well, it is; do you hear me, you haven't any such thing as
_credit there_ nor _here!_ nor anywhere, for aught I know! To-morrow
is the last day of grace. Your sister-in-law has to pay this money?

MR. WOLTON. Yes.

DAWSON. What did you let her buy that house for?

MR. WOLTON. [_Testily._] How could I help it! My brother didn't
appoint me her guardian! He simply left her money in trust in my
hands!

DAWSON. "In trust in your hands!" [_Laughs cruelly._

MR. WOLTON. Don't do that!

DAWSON. And you speculated with it, and lost every cent!

MR. WOLTON. Yes.

DAWSON. What a scoundrel you are! [WOLTON _squirms miserably in his
chair._ DAWSON _adds quietly_.] And yet I don't suppose there's at
this moment a more popular man in New York, socially, than you.

MR. WOLTON. No, I don't believe there is!--but a damned lot of good it
does me!

DAWSON. Will your sister-in-law accept her ruin quietly?

MR. WOLTON. No, she's never liked me; she'll take pleasure in exposing
me!

DAWSON. But for your _wife_ and _child's_ sake!

MR. WOLTON. You know very well she _hates them_! They have never taken
her up; she wasn't possible, socially. [DAWSON _laughs again
bitterly_.] _Don't_ do that!

DAWSON. Well, then, after ruining yourself and your brother's wife,
you must ruin your _own_!

MR. WOLTON. [_Alarmed, uneasy_.] What do you mean?

DAWSON. I mean that my sister's own money is enough to pay for your
sister's silence. Don't you understand? Your sister mustn't know, of
course, that you've stolen her fortune. Instead, your wife must be
told,--poor Laura--and for her daughter's sake, she must consent to
beggar herself. Her bonds will about meet the payment of the house
to-morrow--they must be sold the first thing--I will see to it.----
[_As he speaks, he is looking_ WOLTON _straight in the face. Something
in_ WOLTON'S _face grows upon him with conviction as he speaks his
last few words. He breaks off suddenly_.] What! you've taken hers,
too! [_He leans over_ WOLTON _in the chair, his hands on his
shoulders, close to his neck, in a rage. Rises._] You've beggared _my
sister_, your wife and child! You-- [_Interrupted._

MR. WOLTON. [_With a big effort, rises, throwing off_ DAWSON'S
_hands_.] Sh!--For God's sake, lower your voice! You'll be heard!

DAWSON. [_With a change of tone, but speaking with utter contempt_.]
By a couple hundred fools! To-morrow _thousands_ will hear of your
dirty dishonour!! [_Going toward right a little_.

MR. WOLTON. [_To_ DAWSON.] But _you_, you have money--won't you come
to my rescue?

DAWSON. I couldn't if I would. You have borrowed half a fortune of me
already. What I have left must go to take care of my sister and niece.
Do you think I'd support _you_! No, the _State_ will do that.

MR. WOLTON. That!! You'd let me go to--?

DAWSON. You'll get twenty years at least!

MR. WOLTON. You won't help me _escape_!

DAWSON. No.

MR. WOLTON. But Laura? she loves me, and Marion. _They_ will suffer
for me; I may be weakly dishonourable, but I've always loved them, and
they me. Besides, any public dishonour which comes to my name must
touch theirs too.

DAWSON. I'm not so sure about that--I think there is material for a
divorce here.

MR. WOLTON. A divorce! My God, must I lose everything! Show a little
pity, Fred! Remember the old days at school; was I a bad boy? We were
chums for years, you know it!--You were my best man when I married
Laura, and you were the gayest at the wedding! It's only been this
curse of gambling with the stocks that has driven me to the
devil,--that and my cursed luck.

DAWSON. _Luck_ has nothing to do with _honour_.

MR. WOLTON. You don't know--oftener than you think, it has everything!
[_Enter_ SERVANT.

SERVANT. Supper is ready, sir. Can we have this room?

DAWSON. Yes, Howes, I'm going!

SERVANT. Thank you, sir. [_Exits._

MR. WOLTON. Give me a word of hope, Fred!--something! What are you
going to do?

DAWSON. Nothing till to-morrow morning.

MR. WOLTON. And that's all you have to say?

DAWSON. All. [_The two men stand looking at each other a moment in a
sort of grim embarrassment, then_ DAWSON _exits. Music. It must be
evident to the audience, though not to the hysterically excited_
WOLTON, _that_ DAWSON _has a little, a very little, pity, but doesn't
wish to show it,--at any rate not yet_. WOLTON, _who has stood a
moment lost in thought, an expression of despair in his face, shudders
and comes to himself. He looks around to see that he is alone. He
grasps his forehead tight a moment in his right hand, drops his hand,
and with compressed lips nods his head determinedly. He is standing by
one of the smaller supper-tables; he looks down at it and takes up a
silver knife at one of the places, feels its dull edge, and throws it
down sneering. A_ SERVANT _appears_.

MR. WOLTON. Howes?

SERVANT. [_Coming into the room and going to_ WOLTON.] Yes, sir.

MR. WOLTON. I am going up to my room. [_With a motion of his head,
indicating upstairs._] I am not feeling well. If my absence should be
noticed, explain to Mrs. Wolton, but do not disturb me--do you
understand?

SERVANT. Yes, sir.

MR. WOLTON. _On no account am I to be disturbed._ No one is to come to
me until _after_ the party is entirely over. _Don't make any mistake
about that._

SERVANT. No, sir.

   WOLTON, _who is half way between centre and door right, turns
   for a moment, looking about the room. He is seized with a
   nervous twitching of his muscles. He clenches his fists,
   grinds his teeth to control himself, and, bowing his head,
   goes from the room by door_. KITTY _and_ JOHNSTONE _appear in
   ball-room doorway, at exit of_ WOLTON.

KITTY. [_Looking into room on stage._] Here's a dear table, all by
itself. [_Speaks as she appears in the doorway. The two turn and look
off right at_ ETHEL _and_ FANSHAW _who are following them slowly_.

JOHNSTONE. Come along, Fanshaw, here's a lovely, quiet table, where we
can say just what we like about everybody! [_They stand in doorway a
moment, looking off right, waiting for the other couple with their
backs to_ WOLTON _and room_. ETHEL _and_ FANSHAW _join the first
couple, and all come forward, speaking. The following speeches are
made as they come forward to table_.

JOHNSTONE. [_To_ FANSHAW _and_ ETHEL.] How you dawdle.

ETHEL. Jack Wright tore my lace.

FANSHAW. Trying to kiss her in Copenhagen. [_They are about the
table._ JOHNSTONE _at once sits down first in the chair the_ SERVANT
_was holding for one of the ladies_. SERVANT _then opens a bottle of
champagne and pours in the glasses_.

JOHNSTONE. [_Sitting._] Come on.

KITTY. Look at him!

ETHEL. What a rude little beast you are, Johnny!

FANSHAW. Get up! [_Pushing him._

JOHNSTONE. Well, you girls dawdle so! [KITTY _and_ ETHEL _sit. Enter_
MRS. LORRIMER _from ball-room, dressed as a Watteau Shepherdess. She
is greeted by a chorus of four. Carries lamb and crook._

ETHEL, KITTY, JOHNSTONE, FANSHAW. Oh, look at Mrs. Lorrimer!

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Pirouettes once around, and makes a bob curtsy._]
Good evening. [_Laughing._] Well, I don't want to throw bouquets at
myself, but I don't think it's bad.

ETHEL _and_ KITTY. You're splendid!

JOHNSTONE. Love---- [_Sits._]

KITTY. Get Mrs. Lorrimer a chair. [_They all move to make more room
for her, and_ FANSHAW _gets an extra chair from arch_.

MRS. LORRIMER. I'm afraid I'm a fifth spoke in your wheel! [_She sits.
A_ SERVANT _passes them bouillon which they take and eat._

ETHEL. Don't be foolish; girls at a ball nowadays can't expect to have
a man apiece. [JOHNSTONE _lights a cigarette and smokes. A_ SERVANT
_in ball-room is seen taking away the bouillon cups, while a second
passes Bouches à la Reine there._ FANSHAW _sits above_ ETHEL _left of
table, after taking lamb and crook from_ MRS. LORRIMER _and placing
them down left corner_.

MRS. LORRIMER. How is the party?

JOHNSTONE. Awfully lovely party!

KITTY. A tearing success!

ETHEL. You ought to have seen the vaudeville!

MRS. LORRIMER. How did your stunt go, Ethel?

FANSHAW. Great.

ETHEL. Oh, my dear, a brute of a flute player ruined it. I felt like
thirty cents.

FANSHAW. No one could spend much more money on a party than old Wolton
is doing to-night.

MRS. LORRIMER. Does Marion show her age in a child's dress?

KITTY. She looks charmingly, but then Marion isn't so old.

ETHEL. Perhaps not so old as she usually looks.

JOHNSTONE. Aren't you a Kitty cat?

MRS. LORRIMER. Why doesn't she paint a little?

JOHNSTONE. What!

KITTY. _Marion?_ Paint! Her _face_!

ETHEL. My dear, she'd die first! [_All laugh, saying_ "Marion".

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Grandiloquently._] Not that I approve of painting!
[_Music stops._

ALL. [_Laughing._] Oh, no!

ETHEL. Nor I!

ALL. [_Laughing._] Oh, no!

MRS. LORRIMER. Who's here?

JOHNSTONE. Everybody.

MRS. LORRIMER. Anyone I can marry?

KITTY. Oh, Mrs. Lorrimer, do be decent. You haven't been divorced a
year yet.

MRS. LORRIMER. My dear, divorce isn't like death--you don't have to go
into mourning! Besides, that's what I want to get married for! I find
I've a perfect passion for divorce! Just like men have it for drink.
The more I get the more I want! [_Laugh._] I've only had two divorces,
and I want another!

JOHNSTONE. You must be damned careful--I beg your pardon--

MRS. LORRIMER. Oh, don't apologize, I say it myself!--careful about
what?

JOHNSTONE. What sort of _husband you choose_.

MRS. LORRIMER. Exactly! None of your _ideal_ men for me! I want a man
with a bad record! [_Laugh._] Plenty of proof concealed about his
person, or not buried too deep in his past for me and my lawyer to
ferret out. I've a perfect duck of a lawyer! He made up every bit of
evidence about my last husband; that won me my case, and, my dears, it
just _happened_ to turn out to be true! [_Laugh._

ETHEL. Speaking of records, who do you think is here to-night?

MRS. LORRIMER. _Ned_ Fletcher--!!

KITTY. Yes.

MRS. LORRIMER. Girls--I'll tell you a secret--

JOHNSTONE. I don't want to hear it. [_Takes a chair left centre, sits
and lights cigarette._

MRS. LORRIMER. I'm crazy about him! Where is he? [_Glancing over her
shoulder._

KITTY. You've no chance; he's going to marry Marion, if she'll have
him.

MRS. LORRIMER. What a shame! And will she?

ETHEL. She's mad about him!

MRS. LORRIMER. The moth and the flame! What a pity! because he'd be
simply ideal for me! Why, do you know I hear that he-- [_Stops
suddenly, looking at_ JOHNSTONE _and_ FANSHAW.

JOHNSTONE. What do you hear? I'm in this.

MRS. LORRIMER. I forgot Johnny and Mr. Fanshaw--there are certain
things you mustn't talk about before innocent little boys!

FANSHAW. You couldn't tell _us anything about Ned Fletcher_!

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Laughing._] I don't want to! But I thought Marion was
always going to marry Douglas Rhodes.

KITTY. Oh, that's all off now. It's Ned Fletcher or nothing with
Marion.

ETHEL. [_Laughing_.] I believe she thinks she's going to reform him!
[_All laugh._

KITTY. There's one thing, he isn't after Marion's money.

ETHEL. Is he so rich?

JOHNSTONE. Oh, rotten! [KITTY _slaps_ JOHNSTONE.

MRS. LORRIMER. Very well, do you know what I shall do? I shall take
Douglas.

ETHEL. [_Hastily._] Yes, catch his heart on the rebound; they say it's
easier that way!

JOHNSTONE. That's one on you, Mrs. Lorrimer. [_Party gag._]

MRS. LORRIMER. Oh, I'm not so very old, and have had two splendid
husbands already. I don't think I have to bother about the easiest
way.

JOHNSTONE. Philopene, Ethel? That's one on _you_.

MRS. LORRIMER. Has it been your method, my dear, because if so I can't
congratulate you on the result. You must look out for a stronger
rebound next time! Try a divorced man; I hear they come back with a
terrific force! I'll be generous; try one of mine. [_All laugh. As
they stop laughing there is the sound of something heavy falling in
the room above. The chandelier trembles slightly, the lustres sound.
All four lift their heads and listen a moment. A short pause._

KITTY. What was that!

MRS. LORRIMER. The servants probably, upstairs! [_Enter_ MARION _from
ball-room, smiling at the table of people as she passes_.

JOHNSTONE. [_As she comes._] Here's Miss Wolton.

MRS. LORRIMER. My dear Marion, pardon me for not rising, but I assure
you I look much better sitting down! [MARION _stops by_ MRS. LORRIMER.

JOHNSTONE. Not at all, Mrs. Lorrimer, they're awfully lovely!

MRS. LORRIMER. Well, I'm sure they don't compare with yours.

JOHNSTONE. Oh, I don't know, there are others. [MARION _goes down
centre_.

MRS. LORRIMER. Marion, is Mr. Dawson here?

MARION. No, he's in Boston.--Why?

MRS. LORRIMER. Oh, nothing, only he's an unmarried man, so I thought
I'd ask. [SERVANT _in ball-room takes away plates, and second_ SERVANT
_passes ices_.

MARION. [_To_ MRS. LORRIMER.] Why are you so late, Emily? [_Back to_
MRS. LORRIMER.

MRS. LORRIMER. My little girl was seedy, and I couldn't get away until
I saw her asleep comfortably. It's an awful care for a young woman, my
dear, having a _posthumous_ child!

MARION. A what?

MRS. LORRIMER. A _posthumous_ child!

MARION. [_Laughing._] _How do you mean, Emily?_

MRS. LORRIMER. Why, born after it's father's divorce!

MARION. Are you girls going to have coffee?

MRS. LORRIMER. No.

ETHEL. Nor I.

MARION. Very well, then; join us for another game-- [_She makes a
movement of starting._] Unless you men want to smoke. In that case,
take your coffee in the library, where you'll find cigarettes and
other smoking materials.

JOHNSTONE. [_Who has a cigarette in his mouth, and has been smoking
all through the supper._] I say! Oughtn't I to have smoked here?

MARION. [_Smiling._] No! [_She starts to go out through ball-room._

JOHNSTONE. I beg your pardon. Well, any way it's an awfully lovely
party.

MRS. LORRIMER. Marion, is it true you're going to be divorced--I mean
married?

MARION. [_By doorway._] Married? I hope so, some day. [_Smiling, exits
into ball-room._ JOHNSTONE _is eating ice_. MRS. LORRIMER _crosses to
him_. KITTY _in front of table_. ETHEL _takes up lamb_. FANSHAW
_exits._

MRS. LORRIMER. Haven't you finished your ice, Johnny?

JOHNSTONE. No. I like to squash mine all up, and eat it soft.

MRS. LORRIMER. Johnny, who made your bow?

JOHNSTONE. Mother. [KITTY _drives_ JOHNNY _out of room by hitting him
with her ball_. MRS. LORRIMER _crosses to_ ETHEL _and takes lamb_.

ETHEL. [_Who has looked back over her shoulder into the ball-room,
goes up to arch_.] Mr. Fletcher has joined Marion.

MRS. LORRIMER. Oh, that's why Marion wished us to hurry! She wanted
this room for herself and Fletcher!

ETHEL. _Probably._

MRS. LORRIMER. Let's go--as if we were gone for good, and then stroll
back _casually_ in a few minutes, and see how we find them!

KITTY. Isn't that eavesdropping?

MRS. LORRIMER. Don't be absurd! There isn't any such thing as
eavesdropping nowadays. Everybody listens to everything they can, and
everyone more or less knows they're being listened to.

KITTY. But what good will it do?

MRS. LORRIMER. Why, if we--come back and catch them with his arm
around her, we can take it for granted they are engaged.

ETHEL. I don't think that follows. I'm sure if I were engaged to every
man I let-- [_She stops quickly. All laugh._

KITTY. [_Laughing._] You gave yourself away that time, Ethel! [_They
move out by door into ball-room. As they do so_, SERVANT _enters from
right, and_ MARION _enters, meeting girls and_ MRS. LORRIMER.

MARION. Going to dance?--

GIRLS. Yes.

MRS. LORRIMER. No, play games. Kissing games. [_All laugh and
exeunt._

MARION. Oh, Mrs. Lorrimer! [_Enter_ FLETCHER.

FLETCHER. Why did you run away?

MARION. I was afraid if I didn't the servants would never get this
room ready.

FLETCHER. Have you a partner?

MARION. No.

FLETCHER. [_Pleased to be with her and yet embarrassed._] May I--will
you--that is--won't you dance with me?

MARION. Yes.

FLETCHER. [_Near her._] I wonder why I feel so diffident with you. I
think I never was diffident before! [_Smiling._

MARION. [_Smiling._] No, you haven't that reputation.

FLETCHER. [_Smiling apologetically, but humourously._] Dear me, I hope
you don't know what my reputation isn't--or _is_.

MARION. [_Seriously._] I don't judge a man by his reputation.

FLETCHER. [_Involuntarily half under his breath, humourously._] Thank
heaven! [MARION _looks at him, hearing him. There is a pause. She
waits willingly for him to speak, hoping he will._] I've been a very
bad fellow.

MARION. Some of the best men in the world have begun that way.

FLETCHER. They probably had some one to help--to believe in them.

MARION. And haven't you?

FLETCHER. Will you believe in me enough to-- [_Looks off in ball-room
up a little_; MARION _follows. He loses his control and speaks
passionately._] Don't you understand,--I love you-- [_He embraces her;
she allows him. The embrace lasts a moment._] You can be my salvation!
Will you be?

MARION. [_In his arms, looking up at him._] I will--if I can--

FLETCHER. [_Whose eyes never quite look into_ MARION'S, _loosening the
embrace._] You will marry me?

MARION. Yes. [_Kisses him, then quickly moves down right._

FLETCHER. [_Following her. Not looking at her._] People say I'm a
blackguard!

MARION. People say a great many things that aren't true. What can a
man do with all the world against him! "People" can force him into
being as bad as they say he is.

FLETCHER. Then you won't believe them.

MARION. No, not if you deny what they say. [_He holds out his hand;
she takes it. At this moment_, MRS. LORRIMER _and_ ETHEL _appear in
ball-room, ostentatiously counting the chairs and making small
calculation about the cotillion, but really watching slyly_ MARION
_and_ FLETCHER. MARION _sees it and speaks to_ FLETCHER _quickly under
her breath._] Don't move! Don't drop my hand, but shake it as if we'd
been making a bet, and follow my lead! [_Aloud._] It's settled then!
You take my bet?

FLETCHER. [_Shaking her hand and then dropping it casually._ A box of
cigars, against a box of gloves! [_Sotto voce._] What is it?

MARION [_Sotto voce._] Mrs. Lorrimer in the next room watching us.
[_Speaks in low voce satirically to_ FLETCHER _as if she were speaking
to_ MRS. LORRIMER.] Oh, no, Emily! I am going to marry Mr. Fletcher,
but _I_ intend to be the one to announce that fact, and not you. [MRS.
LORRIMER _and_ ETHEL _turn. They see_ MARION _and_ FLETCHER _and
pretend surprise; they remain in the ball-room._]

MRS. LORRIMER. [_With trumpet._] Oh! Marion! are _you_ here?

MARION. Ahem! [_With a quick, amused side glance to_ FLETCHER.] We've
been watching you for some time; what was the matter with the chairs?

MRS. LORRIMER [_Embarrassed._] Nothing--we were merely choosing
places!

ETHEL. They lead from the other end, don't they? [_Joining_ FLETCHER.

MARION. Yes, you know Kitty is leading for me. [_Enter_ DOUGLAS. _He
joins them._] Who are you dancing with, Douglas?

DOUGLAS. No one; I'm stagging it.

MRS. LORRIMER You don't mean to say, Marion, you have more men than
women to-night!

MARION. [_With mock pride._] Who says I don't know how to give a
party?

MRS. LORRIMER [_To_ DOUGLAS.] Damn it! I wish I hadn't said I'd dance
with little Johnny, or I'd come to your rescue. [DOUGLAS, _secretly
amused, bows his thanks._ ETHEL _and_ MARION _exchange an amused
glance._

ETHEL. [_To_ MARION.] Douglas ought to give Johnny a vote of thanks.

MARION. Come, they are taking their places. [_A movement of all to go
off._ DOUGLAS _touches_ FLETCHER _on the arm._

DOUGLAS. [_To_ FLETCHER.] May I speak to you just a moment?

FLETCHER. Certainly-- [_All go but_ MARION.] Excuse me one moment,
Miss Wolton,--Rhodes wants a word with me. [MARION _starts slightly,
and, turning quickly, looks questioningly at_ DOUGLAS. _He answers her
gaze seriously and unflinchingly. She turns to_ FLETCHER.

MARION. [_To_ FLETCHER.] No--I won't excuse you. [_Assuming a more or
less coquettish air._] You must come with me at once. [FLETCHER _looks
surprised, but moves as if to obey her_.

DOUGLAS. But why won't you trust Mr. Fletcher with me? [FLETCHER
_laughs amused_.

MARION. [_Nonplussed for a moment; then she changes her mind._] I was
only jesting. [_To_ FLETCHER.] But you won't-- [_To_ DOUGLAS, _looking
at him meaningly and seriously._] --keep us waiting long, will you? I
warn you, Mr. Fletcher, I shall let them begin without us. [_Exits
through ball-room as_ FLETCHER _quickly kisses her hand._ DOUGLAS
_waits till they are quite alone._ FLETCHER _moves down right_.

DOUGLAS. [_Following. Quietly._] Are you going to ask Miss Wolton to
marry you?

FLETCHER. I am not.

DOUGLAS. [_Momentary surprise--doubt, then relief--a sigh._] In that
case I've nothing more to say; let's join the others. [_Both make a
move to go._

FLETCHER. [_Who cannot resist saying it._] You see, Rhodes, I _have_
asked her already.

DOUGLAS. [_Stops and, turning, faces_ FLETCHER, _whose back is toward
audience._]

FLETCHER. [_Turning leisurely._] About fifteen minutes ago--but I
can't see what business it is of yours.

DOUGLAS. I love her.

FLETCHER. That's no news to anybody!

DOUGLAS. And I don't intend she shall marry a-- [_He stops. Short
pause._

FLETCHER. What? Why don't you finish?

DOUGLAS. [_More quietly._] A man like you.

FLETCHER. Oh, I'm not so very unique; lots of girls run the risk of
marrying a man like me!

DOUGLAS. I suppose you told her she is more to you than any one in the
world.

FLETCHER. No. "Men like me" don't talk that rot. I put my arms around
her-- [_Stops, interrupted by the movement of_ DOUGLAS, _expressive of
rage, controlled instantaneously; he clenches his fists. Finishes with
a half-smile at_ DOUGLAS.] And told her I loved her.

DOUGLAS. [_Suppressed anger._] You _couldn't_ say she was more than
any one else to you, because it would have been a lie!

FLETCHER. [_Smiling._] You flatter me. [_Crosses to left._

DOUGLAS. The one that is _most_ to _you_ is YOUR CHILD. [FLETCHER
_starts; is surprised_.] You can't deny the child--

FLETCHER. I "can!" I can deny anything.

DOUGLAS. The lie could be proved to your face. In May, 1893, at Lenox,
a young kindergarten teacher,--you blackguard, you!

FLETCHER. [_A little angry._] Who told you that story?

DOUGLAS. [_Sneers._] I'm not the only man who knows it! That sort of
thing never lies buried!

FLETCHER. The girl's all right now!

DOUGLAS. Oh, I know, you sent her abroad, and pay for the child. Well,
that's the mother's lookout, and not mine. But I don't believe she's
the only case. One has only to look at your life now.--It was
fortunate for you this winter that Mrs. Clipton's divorce trial didn't
come off.

FLETCHER. [_A little more angry. Back to_ DOUGLAS.] Still, what has
all this to do with you, and I'll deny it all besides, if I feel like
it, or need to.

DOUGLAS. You know you're not fit to marry Marion Wolton!

FLETCHER. I know I love her.

DOUGLAS. For how long?

FLETCHER. I can't say, but neither can you.--And besides, _she loves
me_!

DOUGLAS. Would she if she knew you?

FLETCHER. [_Smilingly._] Oh, come, Rhodes, drop it! I don't care a
damn what I have done. I'm going to marry her! I haven't made any
bones about myself. I've told her I've been a bad lot!

DOUGLAS. Oh, yes, I know, you've confessed probably to having been
"fast;" that nearly always appeals to a woman, heaven knows why; I
suppose it's the instinct for reformation in them. But how much of
your life does that word "fast" convey to a pure girl like Marion?

FLETCHER. [_Smiling._] Quite enough! [_Serious._] But if she did know
all there was to be known, Love forgives a great deal.

DOUGLAS. But not _everything_. There are certain things Marion would
never accept. She would refuse to take the place that was the right of
another.

FLETCHER. [_Down to him._] Oh, that's your point, is it! Well, hunt
out Jeannette Gros if you can; it'll do you no good! [_Crosses._

DOUGLAS. [_Follows quickly. Angry._] You can't prove that, because
it's _not true_!

FLETCHER. [_Facing_ DOUGLAS. _Angry too._] I'll prove she had other
lovers before me. Good God, man, you don't know what Marion Wolton's
love means to me! I've never loved like this before! Why, if it were
possible for me to treat her as I have--the other, I _couldn't_. I
want to marry Marion Wolton--I _want_ to make _her my wife!_ and I
_will!_ I've had all there can be got out of my old life, and I'm sick
of it. Here's my chance at a new life, and do you think I'm going to
give it up? No! [_Forgetting and raising his voice._] Do you hear me,
No!!

DOUGLAS. [_Softly._] Not so loud!

FLETCHER. [_Lowered voice._] No! I'll fight for it with my last
breath.

DOUGLAS. Then I say again, you're a blackguard!

FLETCHER. [_Laughs, turns back to audience._] What do you want to do,
fight? You know we can't here. I give you liberty to say to her all
you can against me.

DOUGLAS. She won't believe me.

FLETCHER. Exactly--she loves me--

DOUGLAS. But there is one other I can tell the truth to, who may
believe me.

FLETCHER. Look out you don't make yourself ridiculous, going
about--the jilted lover, trying to take away the character of the
accepted man! [_Leisurely following him a little._

DOUGLAS. I don't have to do any "going about!" You are well enough
known in our world to keep most of our doors closed against you. Few
people are as blind as the Woltons, and I will open _his_ eyes!

FLETCHER. You'll tell her father?

DOUGLAS. He is the one person she would listen to, and he can verify
what I say.

FLETCHER. [_Change of tone, showing he fears this._] Damn it! I mean
to be a decent man.

DOUGLAS. [_Goes close to him and looks straight in his face._] Then go
to Jeannette Gros and marry her!

FLETCHER. [_Angry again._] Go to H--. [_Change of tone._] You think if
I'm out of the way you'll get her?

DOUGLAS. She's told me she doesn't love me, and she proved to me that
she won't believe the truth of you without extraordinary proof. There
is only one person in the world who could naturally interfere and give
her anything like that proof, and that's her father; and I shall tell
him to-night, before I leave this house, before you can announce your
engagement!

FLETCHER. With Miss Wolton's permission, I will announce our
engagement to-night, in spite of you, and her father. [_Music stops.
Enter_ MRS. LORRIMER, _with a favour, lamb and trumpet_.

MRS. LORRIMER. Oh, here you men are! If you think this is going to be
allowed, you are very much mistaken! What do men think we ask them to
parties for? Eh? Anyway, a cotillion is a leap-year dance; on such an
occasion you are our natural prey! Come, sir! [_Pretending to blow
trumpet._

DOUGLAS. No. [_Smiling apologetically._] Postpone my pleasure till a
little later in the evening, will you? Don't be angry with me; I want
to have a few words with Mr. Wolton,--then I'll come and give _all_ my
favours to you!

MRS. LORRIMER. That sounds attractive; I'll let you off. [_Makes lamby
squeak. Smiling, turns to_ FLETCHER.] But I won't let you off.

FLETCHER. [_Smiling._] _Don't_, please! I'm very happy to be your
_consolation_ prize. [_Takes lamb. Music._

MRS. LORRIMER. I'm a dangerous woman to make that remark to. You'd
better be careful, or I might take you literally at your word.

FLETCHER. Oh, if you only would! [_Pulls lamb's head._

MRS. LORRIMER. What a charming speech. [_She and_ FLETCHER _go into
ball-room and off._ FLETCHER _makes lamb squeak_. MRS. WOLTON, _her
arms full of a set of gay favours, crosses the ball-room_; DOUGLAS
_sees her and takes a step or two towards her, then waits till she has
finished speaking to the girl_. MRS. WOLTON _turns, and_ DOUGLAS
_addresses her_.

DOUGLAS. Mrs. Wolton, is Mr. Wolton in the ball-room?

MRS. WOLTON. No, I think he's in the smoking-room.--Aren't you going
to dance? [_Coming into room._

DOUGLAS. Not just yet--later-- [_Half bows apologetically. At the same
moment, the music swells and the procession of dancers, in couples,
dance in five or six couples into the front room, the line curving
away to right to suggest that there are very many more couples in the
ball-room out of sight. As they dance, they are laughing and
talking--the first couple turns, the other couples making bridges
under which the first couple goes, and passes into ball-room and off,
followed by each couple the same. Music softens._ MRS. WOLTON _has
drawn to one side, when the dancers came in. In this dance, scarfs are
used by dancers._

DOUGLAS. Mr. Wolton there?

MRS. WOLTON. [_Mildly surprised._] He?

DOUGLAS. I want to see Mr. Wolton very much to-night--_now_. It is a
matter of the greatest importance. [_Enter_ SERVANT _from ball-room._

MRS. WOLTON. Where is Mr. Wolton, Howes?

SERVANT. He has gone to his bedroom, m'm. [_Crosses behind_ MRS.
WOLTON.

MRS. WOLTON. [_Surprised, but not too much so._] What?

SERVANT. He said he was on no account to be disturbed until the party
was over.

MRS. WOLTON. [_A little anxious._] Was he ill?

SERVANT. He didn't appear so, m'm.

DOUGLAS. [_To_ MRS. WOLTON.] Was he feeling ill to-night?

MRS. WOLTON. [_With a relieved voice, showing no anxiety._] No, not at
all. He was in splendid spirits. Probably he was bored and thought he
would be quieter upstairs.

DOUGLAS. I don't want to be offensive, but I must, if possible, see
him to-night.

MRS. WOLTON. [_Speaking very casually._] Howes, you might go and say
to Mr. Wolton, Mr. Rhodes wants to speak to him about something very
urgent. [_To_ DOUGLAS.] If he doesn't want to come down stairs again,
he can send for you to come up.

SERVANT. Beg pardon, m'm, but he was so very strong with me that I
shouldn't under any circumstances go to him, I don't quite like
to-- [_He hesitates, embarrassed at having not to obey_ MRS. WOLTON'S
_request at once._

MRS. WOLTON. Really, he made such a point of it! Oh, very well then,
you needn't go, Howes. [_With a nod of dismissal._ SERVANT _exits into
ball-room and off_.

MRS. WOLTON. [_Lowers her voice so that_ HOWES _sha'n't hear her, as
he goes._] Mr. Wolton is rather hard on the servants if they fail to
obey his orders to the letter. I'll go myself and see if he won't see
you. [_Enter_ MARION _from ball-room, as her mother starts._

MARION. Mother, where are you going with the favours?

MRS. WOLTON. To your father for a moment.

MARION. But you can't; we need them. [_Crosses. Music stops._] I'll go
for you. [MRS. WOLTON _exits centre as_ MARION _exits right_. FANSHAW
_appears from ball-room, enters_.

FANSHAW. Come on, Rhodes, we need your help. [_Seizing_ DOUGLAS.

DOUGLAS. How long will it take?

FANSHAW. Oh, only a couple of minutes. [RHODES _and_ FANSHAW _exeunt,
followed by_ MRS. WOLTON.

TRIMMINS. [_Off stage._] Mrs. Lorrimer! Mrs. Lorrimer! [_Enters._] Oh,
Mrs. Lorrimer, won't you dance through with me? [TRIMMINS _does this_.

MRS. LORRIMER. Do excuse me. [_Adds a little sotto voce and
coaxingly._] And as a favour to me, go and take out poor Susie
Woodruff. You know it's only "snap the whip" figure, so it won't make
much difference to you if she is a bit heavy. [TRIMMINS _makes a bored
grimace, and goes up stage_. MRS. LORRIMER _catches him_.] Yes, to
please me! It isn't as if it were a waltz and you had to get her
around all by yourself!

TRIMMINS. [_Smiling._] Very well, to please you! But Susan Woodruff,
she's the limit. [_Doubles up his arm and feels his muscles meaningly,
and exits._ MARION _enters tragically. White, frightened, she staggers
quickly into the room and, stopping for a second, gasps in a horrified
whisper._

MARION. Mother! [_Crosses to arch._] Mother!! [_Music, "Won't You Come
And Play With Me." Singing heard._ MARION _turns, frightened, goes
down. Her mother comes to her. They meet._

MRS. WOLTON. [_Frightened, puzzled._] What is it? What's the matter?

MARION. [_For a moment, can't speak. She opens her lips, but the words
refuse to come. Then she manages to gasp out:_] Father!

MRS. WOLTON. Your father--what? [_Starts and looks at her
questioningly, frightened, as the music swells, and is joined in by
the voices of the dancers._

MARION. He is dead!

MRS. WOLTON. Dead!! [_She makes a movement towards door._ MARION
_stops her_.

MARION. It's too horrible!--he has killed himself-- [_Adds the latter
in lower tone, almost fainting. The dancers appear in the ball-room,
hand in hand in single file, led by_ FANSHAW, _and dance wildly
in--all singing "Won't You Come And Play With Me." They make a big
circle about_ MARION _and_ MRS. WOLTON, _dancing out through the
ball-room, the music and singing becoming fainter as they disappear.
The two women are left alone. Re-enter_ DOUGLAS _from ball-room._

DOUGLAS. May I go up? [_He sees the condition of_ MRS. WOLTON _and the
expression of_ MARION.] Is your mother ill?

MARION. Help me take her to--my room--I will tell you. [_Dancers cross
as they exit. Music changes to waltz. All go out._ MRS. LORRIMER, _on
end, drops their hands._ MRS. WOLTON _and_ MARION _shudder as they go
out_.

MRS. LORRIMER. Where is Mr. Rhodes?

FANSHAW. He was here a moment ago. [_Enter_ SERVANT. _He has his
overcoat on and carries his hat._ MRS. LORRIMER _turns_.

MRS. LORRIMER. Have you seen Mr. Rhodes?

SERVANT. He is just coming, m'm.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Looking at_ SERVANT _and seeing something in his face
and manner._ SERVANT _crosses hurriedly_.] Is there anything the
matter? Where is Mrs. Wolton? [DOUGLAS _enters before_ SERVANT _can
answer_. MRS. LORRIMER _at once turns to him, ignoring_ SERVANT, _who,
on a run, bows slightly and exits_.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_To_ DOUGLAS.] What's the matter?

DOUGLAS. A most terrible thing has happened.

MRS. LORRIMER. What?

DOUGLAS. You must help me to get rid of all the guests!

MRS. LORRIMER. To get rid-- [_Interrupted._

DOUGLAS. [_Interrupting._] Mr. Wolton has committed suicide.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Starts and shudders; speaks very rapidly._] Mr.--how
awful! What are you going to do? You can't tell the people now. What
in the world did the man mean by not waiting till the party was over!
If it isn't like you men! Your own comfort before anybody
else's.--Well--the only thing is to pretend it hasn't happened at
all--make some excuse for Marion and her mother--the guests needn't
know anything about it,--and finish the party!

DOUGLAS. Mrs. Lorrimer! Impossible!

MRS. LORRIMER. It would be sort of uncomfortable for us who know,
[_She adds sincerely._] --and the poor Woltons, of course,--it is awful
for them.

DOUGLAS. I thought if you spoke to Fanshaw and stopped the cotillion
and told a few of the guests-- [_Interrupted._

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Aghast._] What! The truth?

DOUGLAS. No, say Mr. Wolton has been taken suddenly and most
dangerously ill--

MRS. LORRIMER. [_To_ DOUGLAS.] Very well, I'll do what I can.

DOUGLAS. Stop! [_Music stops._ DOUGLAS _goes to doorway into ball-room
and draws the heavy portières, shutting out the ball-room._ MARION
_enters_.

MARION. [_To_ DOUGLAS, _who stays at curtains._] They are going?

DOUGLAS. Yes.

MARION. They know?

DOUGLAS. Not the truth!

MARION. Thank you.

DOUGLAS. Mrs. Lorrimer is arranging it. [FOOTMAN _off stage calls_
"43." _The numbers are repeated in another voice and farther away. A
moment's pause._

DOUGLAS. I wish I could comfort you.

MARION. [_Smiling strainedly at him._] Thank you. [FOOTMAN _calls_
"56!--56!--89!" "32!--32!--61!" DOUGLAS _holds back the portière into
ball-room_.

MARION. I'd better go back to mother. How good you are to us--believe
me, I appreciate it all, Douglas, _all_. [_Enter_ DAWSON _hurriedly.
Shows excitement and emotion. At the same moment enter_ FLETCHER _from
ball-room at back. The two men speak the word_ "Marion" _at the same
time, and turning, see each other._ DAWSON _also observes the presence
of_ DOUGLAS.] Uncle Fred! [_Crosses to him._ FOOTMAN _calls_ "115!"]
[_To_ DAWSON.] You know!

FLETCHER. [_Gently, persuasively joining her._] Why didn't you send
for me at once?

DAWSON. Gentlemen, you will forgive me if I thank you both and say the
guests are leaving. The family would like to be alone.

DOUGLAS. I understand, but if I can be of any use?

DAWSON. Thank you.

DOUGLAS. Shall we go, Fletcher?

FLETCHER. Good-night, Rhodes. [_Politely._] My place is here; it is my
privilege to stay by Miss Wolton. [DAWSON _looks up, surprised_.
RHODES _looks angry_. FLETCHER _continues, to_ MARION.] May I speak?
[MARION _bows her head in assent_.] Mr. Dawson, your niece has
promised to-night to be my wife. At such a terrible moment as this, I
claim the right of membership of the family, to be with you and help
all I can. You will accept my offices? [_Holding out his hand._

DAWSON. [_Shaking his hand._] Certainly. You have won a wife in a
thousand. But you may be called on to do more perhaps than you
imagine.

FLETCHER. I am entirely at your service.

DOUGLAS. [_Near doorway back, to all. At curtains, leaves curtains
open._] Good-night! [_All turn slightly._ DOUGLAS _bows and exits_.
FLETCHER _going to_ MARION.

DAWSON. [_Watching them._] Thank God! His money will save them!
[SERVANT _enters; speaks softly to_ DAWSON.

SERVANT. Mr. Dawson! [DAWSON _starts, nods to_ SERVANT, _who holds
door open_.

DAWSON. I'm coming. [_Slowly, seriously, meaningly._] Fletcher, I want
a long talk with you to-night before you go.

FLETCHER. Very well, sir. [DAWSON _sighs heavily and exits_. SERVANT
_leaves door open. The two_, MARION _and_ FLETCHER, _hear the door
shut behind them, and make a movement; they realize they are alone. A
heavy front door slams. Lights out. There is silence. Taking_ MARION
_in his arms._] My poor little girl!--My poor little girl!--Cry, for
God's sake, cry!

MARION. [_With an outburst._] Oh, it is so horrible! [_She sobs loud
and hysterically in_ FLETCHER'S _arms, her own arms about his
neck._]--so--horrible--


CURTAIN.



ACT II.


    SCENE. _A church. At left are the steps leading to the
    chancel and the chancel rails. Beyond the rails are palms,
    grouped, which conceal the altar. Past the chancel, up stage,
    is the exit into the choir. Down stage is the exit to the
    vestry and robing-room. To right of centre begin the pews of
    the church on each side of a broad centre aisle. The stage is
    set a little diagonally so that the aisle runs from upper
    right toward centre stage. This will make a row or two more
    pews above the aisle than below it. White satin ribbons are
    stretched above the aisle on each side, across the entrances
    to the pews; this ribbon the ushers lift aside as they seat
    the guests. The exit right is made by the centre aisle._

    DISCOVERED. _Three ushers_, JOHNSTONE, FANSHAW _and_
    TRIMMINS. JOHNSTONE _is sitting in the first pew_, FANSHAW
    _standing outside and leaning over its front, talking to_
    JOHNSTONE. TRIMMINS _is leaning with his back against the
    side of the first pew across the aisle up stage. They are
    dressed in long frock coats, with buttonholes of white
    orchids. They are engaged in putting on white kid gloves._

FANSHAW. Is Fletcher in the vestry yet?

JOHNSTONE. Heavens, no! How long do you want him to hang around? But
he won't be late; he's serious this time.

TRIMMINS. I'm glad to hear it, because he's going to marry a splendid
girl. [_A short pause._] I hope to goodness he really loves her.

JOHNSTONE. Oh, he does, I'm sure. I'll bet you, if you like; will you
put up a silk hat on it? [_Rises._

FANSHAW. Yes, I'll take you!

JOHNSTONE. All right. [_Exit from pew. Holding out his hand which_
FANSHAW _takes, and they shake._] Done!

FANSHAW. And I hope I'll lose. And if I were he, I'd tremble in my
boots with a past like his, and the present getting so conspicuously
favourable.

JOHNSTONE. Oh, I don't believe in your boomerang pasts!

FANSHAW. And I don't believe Fletcher can have one single memory of
his own which he wouldn't rather forget since he has come to care for
Marion Wolton. [_Crosses to pew._ JOHNSTONE _crosses_.

TRIMMINS. Yes, but don't you think a fellow can sow his wild oats and
be done with them, and become a good man and an honest citizen.

FANSHAW. Of course I do, else, good Lord, where'd I be! We can't all
be ideal chaps like Douglas Rhodes. But there are oats and _oats_, and
Fletcher's are--oats!

JOHNSTONE. Well, he's sorry for them. [_Crosses to pew. As_ DOUGLAS
RHODES _enters_, TRIMMINS _exits._ RHODES _is also dressed as an usher
and comes up the aisle in time to hear_ JOHNSTONE'S _speech, as he
joins them._

DOUGLAS. Who's sorry for what?

JOHNSTONE. Fletcher for--for--for--everything!

DOUGLAS. Hum-- [_He goes up left._

FANSHAW. If he's _honestly_ sorry, he's no business marrying Marion
Wolton.

JOHNSTONE. Why not?

FANSHAW. He has a debt to be paid. He can't wash his hands of the kind
of things he's done; if he were in earnest in regretting his old life,
he would do something to make up for it.

JOHNSTONE. Well, isn't he? He's going to marry a nice girl and settle
down.

FANSHAW. If he were in earnest he'd marry, instead, one of at least
two girls I know of--not this one.

JOHNSTONE. Oh, come, there's no reason why he should do a quixotic
thing like that, he has a future before him.

FANSHAW. He has their futures before him.

JOHNSTONE. Don't preach. Why should he be dragged down--

FANSHAW. [_Interrupting._] To where he dragged them?

JOHNSTONE. Exactly; Fletcher's no fool. And then there's Mr. Dawson.
He swears by Fletcher now; they're regular pals.

FANSHAW. Ever since Mr. Wolton's death. I don't understand it.

DOUGLAS. [_Coming down left._] Yes, Dawson really believes in
Fletcher--well, perhaps he's right. There must be some good in
everybody, and perhaps Fletcher is just beginning to come to the top.
Let's hope so.

JOHNSTONE. Hang it, fellows, brace up anyway. This isn't a funeral,
you know. Hello, there's the organ. [_Organ music begins, and
selections appropriate and usual on such occasions continue
uninterruptedly._] The people will be coming now. [_He exits._] _Two
other ushers make a movement, throwing off a certain lazy, nonchalant
manner, and getting themselves into more dignified readiness for their
duties._

DOUGLAS. [_Rises, crosses to left._] I tell you, Fanshaw, this is a
hard day for me.

FANSHAW. But I'm glad you decided to come. It would have made all
sorts of gossip if you hadn't.

DOUGLAS. [_Sighs._] Yes. Anyway, as it's got to be now, we must all
make the best of it.

FANSHAW. No one besides me dreams your life is still wrapped up in
Marion Wolton.

DOUGLAS. [_Embarrassed, but pleasantly. With a half laugh._] And I
suppose that ought to be some consolation, but I don't know as it is.
However, I shall never be able to thank you enough for the comfort
you've been. A man must have some one to talk to. And it isn't every
fellow who can have a friend like you.

FANSHAW. [_Embarrassed, but pleased._] Shut up! Here's Fletcher's
mother; she came on from Richmond yesterday. [_He goes down aisle to
meet her._] And behind are those girls they want put into the front
pews. [FANSHAW _and_ DOUGLAS _exeunt. At the same moment that the two
disappear_, MRS. FLETCHER _appears on the arm of the third usher_,
TRIMMINS.

MRS. FLETCHER. [_To_ TRIMMINS, _as he shows her into the first pew
left._] You know Mrs. Wolton, of course?

TRIMMINS. The bride's mother? [_Bows in affirmative._

MRS. FLETCHER. When she comes, won't you show her in here with me,
please? [TRIMMINS _bows and exits_. MRS. FLETCHER _sits, then kneels a
moment, and then reseats herself with a touch to the trimming of the
waist of her gown somewhere. Enter_ FANSHAW _with_ MRS. LORRIMER,
JOHNSTONE _with_ KITTY, _and_ TRIMMINS _with_ ETHEL; _ladies outside.
Ushers exeunt as soon as guests are seated._

MRS. LORRIMER. [_On being shown into the first pew down stage._] Is
this the farthest front you can seat us? [_In a dissatisfied tone._

FANSHAW. [_Goes off right._] This is the _front_ pew.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Laughing._] Of course, so it is. How silly of me!
[_She passes to the end of the pew nearest to the audience._

KITTY. [_As she follows into the pew, to_ JOHNSTONE.] Are we late?

JOHNSTONE. [_Off left._] No, you're awfully early. [TRIMMINS _off
right_.

ETHEL. [_Following into pew._] Oh, I say, girls. Isn't that a shame,
we're early. [_The three women are standing in the pew; they all turn
around to glance back into the church, which is supposed to be filling
with guests, every once in a while some one being seated by an usher
in one of the pews visible to the audience. After a glance round, the
three sit down._] What do you think of Douglas Rhodes being an usher?

MRS. LORRIMER. Oh, my dear, it doesn't take these men long to get over
a hopeless passion!

KITTY. If he is over it.

GERTRUDE. Of course he's over it, or he wouldn't be here, would he?

MRS. LORRIMER. Every time I've tried to make love to him, he has
seemed to me awfully in love with her still. [_Laugh. Enter guests._

KITTY. I was wondering this morning where in the world Marion met Mr.
Fletcher?

ETHEL. Perhaps it was at that Christian thing-a-may-gig she's
interested in.

KITTY. You mean the Young Men's Christian Association?

ETHEL. Yes, I'd bet on it's being the Young Men's. [_Laughs._

MRS. LORRIMER. Oh, my dear, you know he isn't that sort of a man at
all. He's much more my style!

KITTY. Well, you know none of us ever met him till he began to go to
the Woltons. [_Enter ushers and guests. A new selection is started on
the organ and all half rise and turn, but turn back again at once into
their places complacently._

ETHEL. I think Marion's been getting to be a perfect stick anyway,
these last few years, with all the plain covered books she reads and
all her "university settlement" stuff in the slums, and her
working-girls' clubs and things. But that makes it all the funnier for
her to marry a man she's really not known very long, don't you think
so?

GERTRUDE. Where did he come from anyway?

ETHEL. Everywhere--which you know is as good as nowhere. He's that
sort of a man.

MRS. LORRIMER. Oh, no, his family comes from Virginia. And he's a
Harvard man. [_Enter_ TRIMMINS _with guest to pew._] Was in the
fastest set there, so he must have some position! [_Laughs._

ETHEL. And he's rich.

KITTY. But Marion wouldn't marry for money.

ETHEL. Then why is she marrying him?

MRS. LORRIMER. I don't know. I think she must be in love with him.

ETHEL. [_With a laugh._] Ha! And then everyone says she's so sensible!
[_Door slams. Another different selection is started on the organ and
a door is shut off stage. The three women all half rise and turn
again._

KITTY. Here they come!

GERTRUDE. No, not yet. [_The three sit again with a murmur of
disappointment._

GERTRUDE. Well. I only hope Marion will be happy,--she's taught so
many others how to enjoy the best of life.

ETHEL. I don't see how you can sympathize with her in her
philanthropic fads! I believe in being charitable, but there's a right
and a wrong way!

KITTY. [_Quietly._] Yes, I don't suppose there's a fashionable
subscription list in town that hasn't your name on it.

ETHEL. _Not one!_ And as near the top as I can get.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Leaning over to speak to_ ETHEL.] I agree with you! I
went down to one of Marion's working women's evening meetings--and,
really, I was bored to death.

ETHEL. Isn't the church trimmed horribly; looks as if they did it
themselves. It would be just like Marion to have some silly sentiment
about it. [_Organ stops._

KITTY. [_Strongly._] I like Marion for her sentiment. I only hope she
isn't marrying Fletcher because of it, in the hope that she will make
his life, and perhaps have to spoil her own.

BLANCHE. [_Leaning over and speaking to the three women in front._]
Doesn't the church look lovely!

ETHEL. [_Who said it looked horridly._] Perfectly lovely!

MRS. LORRIMER. Girls, who is that doddy looking creature?

ALL. [_Turning and looking back into the church._] Where?

MRS. LORRIMER. On the left-hand side of the aisle with a last winter's
coat, don't you see, with the huge sleeves!

ETHEL. Oh, yes, with the cheap fur trimming and the mangy muff--who is
it?

BLANCHE. Oh, that! It's one of the groom's country relatives.

MRS. LORRIMER. She looks it. The kind that gets cards _only_ to the
church. [_All laugh. They rise again, excitedly, showing an increase
of excitement over the first time they rose, and looking back._

ETHEL. Are they coming?

BLANCHE. No-- [_General murmur of disappointment._] It's the bride's
mother. [_All sit again._ MRS. WOLTON _enters on the arm of_ DOUGLAS.
_She is very handsomely dressed in black velvet and white lace. She is
shown into the pew with_ MRS. FLETCHER. _They exchange greetings._
DOUGLAS _exits, at the same time the_ CLERGYMAN _enters behind the
chancel rail and goes back behind the palms, &c. Meanwhile the
following dialogue is taking place._

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Leaning over._] You mean how it doesn't.

KITTY. [_Half turning to look back._] Susie Printly's Baltimore cousin
has just come in--do you think she's a beauty?

ETHEL. You mean that _awfully_ blonde girl.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Laughingly._] Yes, that's she. Fifty cents the small
bottle, seventy-five the larger size! [_All three laugh. Short pause._

ETHEL. I suppose you've heard she's engaged?

MRS. LORRIMER. No, to whom?

ETHEL. Oh, only an American. [_Pause._

MRS. LORRIMER. Weddings always give me a homesick feeling. I like them
so.

KITTY. Well, you've had your share of them, you know.

MRS. LORRIMER. Not at all. I've only been married _twice_. Do you know
who I have my eyes on now?

KITTY. No, who is it?

MRS. LORRIMER. _Mr. Dawson!_

ETHEL. What?

KITTY. You're serious ... to marry him.

MRS. LORRIMER. Yes! Everyone will tell you he's one of the best men in
the world.

ETHEL. But my dear, that's a change for you! How'll you ever get him
into the divorce court?

MRS. LORRIMER. Nonsense! I don't want to. Haven't you heard ... my
house in Dakota's for sale. I don't belong to the Divorce Club any
more ... the membership is getting entirely too mixed! [_They look
back into the church at the people._ MRS. WOLTON _leans over to_ MRS.
FLETCHER.

MRS. WOLTON. I am so nervous I could almost cry out! Oh, I shall be so
relieved ... really, I can't tell you ... when the ceremony's over.
[_Organ. Wedding march._ FLETCHER _and his groomsman enter in front of
the chancel rails. Guests all rise, showing excitement and turning
half-way face off the stage, looking down the centre aisle._ MRS.
WOLTON _and_ MRS. FLETCHER _stand facing the altar._ MRS. FLETCHER
_takes_ MRS. WOLTON'S _arm affectionately and holds it tight in
friendly sympathy. The faint sound is heard of boys' and men's voices
singing with the organ the wedding hymn. All watch off the stage, as
if following the slow movement of a procession coming up the aisle.
Meanwhile the following dialogue occurs._

ETHEL. The Trimmins boys are the second ushers.

MRS. LORRIMER. Which is the one you were engaged to?

ETHEL. I forget, I've flirted with them both so long, but I think it's
the right hand one! [_The head of the wedding procession appears. The
choristers singing, followed by the six ushers_, DOUGLAS _and_ FANSHAW
_leading, followed by four bridesmaids. The bride enters, leaning on
the arm of_ MR. DAWSON; _the choristers exit, and continue singing off
stage softly until time indicated for them to stop. The bridesmaids
and ushers take their places, grouped properly about the chancel
steps._ MARION _stands at the centre of chancel rail, where she is
joined by_ FLETCHER, _the groomsmen standing to one side of him._
DAWSON _stands on the opposite side of_ MARION. _The_ CLERGYMAN _has
come forward and stands facing them on the other side of the chancel
railing. The guests open their prayer-books with a flutter of the
leaves._ MARION _gives bouquet to_ DAWSON. _Music stops for a
moment._]

MRS. LORRIMER. Look! do you see how charming Mr. Dawson appears by the
chancel rails. I never saw him in a more becoming place, and if it's a
_possible_ thing I shall make a rendezvous to _meet_ him there one
day! [_Music begins again softly, and accompanies the service. At
first it is heard quite distinctly while the_ CLERGYMAN _is going
through, unheard, the first part of the marriage ceremony. A short
pause in the dialogue._

ETHEL. [_Whispers to_ KITTY _and_ MRS. LORRIMER.] How composed she is.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Whispering back._] One would think she was a widow! I
couldn't do better myself! [_A short pause in the dialogue._ CLERGYMAN
_looks up and raises his voice a little, addressing the congregation
in the church ... but not too loud so as to be too evident._

CLERGYMAN. "If any man ... [_A door is shut heavily off stage. At
sound of door slam_, DOUGLAS _exits and returns after_ JEANNETTE'S
_entrance, going directly to_ MRS. WOLTON, _who seems overcome._] can
show just cause why these two persons should not lawfully be joined
together ... [_A commotion among the guests, who turn away from the
altar, to look back into the church._] ... let him now speak. [DOUGLAS
_goes top of aisle, to block the passage._] or else hereafter forever
hold his peace...."

JEANNETTE _enters, going to the foot of the chancel steps, cries_
"Stop!" _She is a young and attractive looking woman, fashionably, but
quietly dressed. All in the church are stunned. The groom, turning,
sees her, and starts, but controls himself, glaring at_ JEANNETTE.
MARION _gazes in terror and horror at her; her bouquet drops unnoticed
by her_. MRS. WOLTON _starts to leave her pew, but is held back and
persuaded by MRS. FLETCHER to remain quietly where she is._ MR. DAWSON
_steps down one step toward_ JEANNETTE.

DAWSON. [_To_ JEANNETTE.] Who are you?

JEANNETTE. [_With a gesture toward_ FLETCHER.] _Ask him!_

DAWSON. What right have you to interrupt this ceremony?

JEANNETTE. [_With a gesture as before._] _Ask him!_

FLETCHER. She has no right! [JEANNETTE _makes an exclamation of denial
aloud_.

MARION. Swear that, Ned, swear it to me before this altar.

FLETCHER. [_Hesitates a moment._] I swear it.

MARION. [_To_ CLERGYMAN.] Go on with the ceremony. [DAWSON _steps back
to his place. The_ CLERGYMAN _takes up his prayer-book._ JEANNETTE
_comes up one of the chancel steps_.

JEANNETTE. Stop!

FLETCHER. Is there no one here to put this woman out? [_He speaks to
the groomsman._ DAWSON _speaks to_ FANSHAW, _who exits, and
immediately after the music ceases. Meanwhile the following dialogue._

KITTY. Isn't this perfectly awful! I'm going! [_Going._

ETHEL. I'm not. I'm going to stay.

MRS. LORRIMER. There may be something we can do. [KITTY _and_ GERTRUDE
_exeunt with several of the other guests._

CLERGYMAN. [_To_ JEANNETTE.] Can you show any reason why this marriage
should not ... [_Interrupted._

JEANNETTE. [_Interrupting._] I can.

CLERGYMAN. Then do so.

JEANNETTE. I will. [_She exits quickly._ MRS. WOLTON _goes to the two
bridesmaids up stage, who at the same time are joined by the two
bridesmaids down stage. Guests go out._

MRS. WOLTON. [_As she goes._] Henry! [DAWSON _joins them._] Take them
into the choir-rooms, please. [_She motions off stage._ DAWSON _with
bouquet exits. Maids exeunt. As they go_, MRS. WOLTON _and_ DOUGLAS
_meet and speak. The_ CLERGYMAN _has been speaking to_ MARION. _Ushers
urge guests to leave and exeunt with guests after_ JEANNETTE
_returns._

FLETCHER. [_To_ CLERGYMAN.] I say that woman _cannot stop_ this
ceremony. Go on!

MARION. [_To_ CLERGYMAN.] You heard him give me his word ... go on.

CLERGYMAN. I am very sorry, but the church does not allow me to. I
must give her the chance to prove herself. [FLETCHER _speaks to his
groomsman_, JOHNSTONE, _who exits into vestry. At the same time_
JEANNETTE _re-enters, bringing by the hand a small child_, EDWARD,
_with her. She leads him straight to the foot of the chancel steps,
and, pointing to_ FLETCHER, _speaks. All through the rest of this
scene, the child keeps hold of the skirts of the mother ... standing
close to her side._

JEANNETTE. This is that man's child ... and mine. [MRS. LORRIMER
_exits; also_ ETHEL. _Re-enter_ DAWSON _without bouquet._ FLETCHER
_speaks to the_ CLERGYMAN. MRS. FLETCHER _leaves the pew and joins_
MRS. WOLTON. DOUGLAS _joins_ MRS. LORRIMER, _and all the guests and
ushers leave the church quietly._ MARION _starts to go to_ MRS.
WOLTON.

MARION. Mother!

JEANNETTE. [_Turning and facing_ MARION.] Ah!... you go to _her_, in
what must be the greatest sorrow of your life ... well, so will he ...
[_With her arms around the child._] come to me when he begins to
understand, and _that's_ why I am here.

FLETCHER. [_To_ CLERGYMAN.] Ask her for proofs! She won't have them!
It is a question of her word or mine, and surely there can be no such
question, when the woman is that sort of thing! [_Turns to_ MARION.]
Marion! [_The_ CLERGYMAN _goes to_ JEANNETTE, _up stage, with whom he
talks._ MARION _joins_ FLETCHER, _and they come down the steps, but
she does not look at him._ MRS. WOLTON _starts to go to_ MARION.
FLETCHER _stops her._

FLETCHER. [_To_ MRS. WOLTON.] No. I wish to speak to Marion alone.
[MRS. WOLTON _and_ MRS. FLETCHER _speak together up stage._ MRS.
WOLTON, _turning back, faints._ DAWSON _and_ MRS. FLETCHER _take her
out._

FLETCHER. [_To_ MARION.] Do you despise me?

MARION. I can't ... I love you.

FLETCHER. I didn't deceive you, did I? You will remember I confessed
that before we met my life had not been fit to be lived in the same
world with you.

MARION. I know, but I didn't imagine anything so bad as this.

FLETCHER. Yes, I realize that now, as it is only since I have known
you that I have realized how low I was. Yet, Marion, this sort of
thing exists all around us; I am not the only one ... [_Interrupted._

MARION. [_Interrupting._] _Don't_--don't try to excuse it.

FLETCHER. At any rate ... it was before I knew you.

MARION. [_Looking up in his face for the first time, slowly._] Since
you've known me have you been good and honest?

FLETCHER. [_Without any hesitation, looks back at her, honestly._]
Yes. [_They hold this position for a moment._ CLERGYMAN _leaves_
JEANNETTE. _She speaks after him, following._

JEANNETTE. This is not _legal_ proof, you say?

CLERGYMAN. It is not sufficient.

JEANNETTE. But it's moral proof. [MARION _turns and goes back to her
place ... motions_ FLETCHER _to follow. He does so but almost
timidly._ CLERGYMAN _turns from_ JEANNETTE.] Listen! So long as he
remains as he is, there's a chance that the world won't always be able
to fling my boy's shame in his face. And I tell you, sir, the agony
she would suffer now is nothing ... _nothing_ to what her life with
him would be. And think what it is to ... [_Her emotion racks her._]
watch your child, your own flesh and blood, day and night, all its
life, terror-stricken ... [_She controls her emotions._] lest you find
some trace of his father in him!

MARION. [_Turns to_ CLERGYMAN.] We are waiting.

CLERGYMAN. But ... [_Interrupted._

MARION. [_Interrupting._] I love him; I am not willing to give him up
for that woman!

CLERGYMAN. But she swears a compact of marriage was made.

MARION. Has she proofs? [FLETCHER _glares at_ JEANNETTE; _his muscles
grow rigid_.

CLERGYMAN. _No._ [FLETCHER _relaxes_.

MARION. Very well,--I have his word against hers,--that is enough.

CLERGYMAN. [_To_ FLETCHER.] But I believe you do not deny the child?

FLETCHER. [_Tentatively._] Yes ... yes, I _do_ deny it.

MARION. [_Quickly._] This man's past, sir, is not yours, nor mine. But
his present does belong to me, and his future shall be mine too, to
_make_, not _hers to mar_.

FLETCHER. [_Impatient._] Come! We've lost enough time, let's finish
this. [CLERGYMAN _goes to his proper place behind the chancel rails_.

JEANNETTE. [_Coming up one of the chancel steps._] You shall not go on
with this marriage.

FLETCHER. [_Half angry._] She has shown what she is by the way she has
chosen to stop it.

JEANNETTE. That's a cowardly lie! And it was only when I saw by the
papers that my letters had been useless that I decided to humiliate
myself in this way. Do you think I would so degrade my womanhood for
the sake of anything on God's earth, but _one_ ... my child? [_To_
MARION.] Do you think I could do anything but loathe _him_!... [_With
a gesture toward_ FLETCHER.

MARION. But I love him.

JEANNETTE. So did I _once_. And now I'd save you if I could from all I
know you'll have to suffer. Once you're his, he'll tire of you....

MARION. [_Interrupting._] You forget one thing ... he is going to
place a wedding-ring on my hand.

JEANNETTE. Well, look at that! [_She rips her glove off violently, and
shows a wedding-ring._] He placed it there! and said he'd take me to a
church and make our compact binding.

FLETCHER. [_Who has started, frightened, at first, has controlled
himself and speaks with intense quiet._] This woman's from the
streets. She's up to all the tricks.

JEANNETTE. [_Outraged._] How dare you! I am not what he calls me! I
swear that here in this holy place. _He_ dragged me through the
streets, and any dirt upon my skirts _his_ feet have left there.

FLETCHER. Be silent. [_To_ CLERGYMAN.] If you will not finish the
service, we will find some one who will.

MARION. [_To_ CLERGYMAN.] No, I will not leave here till we are
married. I will not insult the man I have chosen for my husband by
doubting his word for hers. I won't believe he made her what she is.

FLETCHER. Marion!

MARION. Ned! [_To_ CLERGYMAN.] Go on! Go on with the ceremony!

JEANNETTE. You shall not go on! He's done his best to make me what he
says I am ... and God knows he might have succeeded ... [_Emotion._]
but for my boy's sake I fought the fight for honour ... [_Completely
controlling her emotion._] The day he tricked me ... [_With a look of
scorn at_ FLETCHER.] I stood before him as pure a woman as you stand
now, and since he left me, there has never been an hour when I
couldn't look straight into my child's eyes, not one minute I couldn't
feel his two arms about my neck without a shudder.

FLETCHER. [_More angry._] I won't stand this!

JEANNETTE. [_To_ MARION, _continuing in the same key and tone as her
former speech ... and pleadingly._] _Don't_ make vows that will take
away this innocent boy's name.

MARION. You must answer to your child for his name and honour.

FLETCHER. [_Enraged, to_ JEANNETTE.] If you don't go now I'll ...
[_Stops himself._

JEANNETTE. Before God, yours, [_To_ MARION.] mine, ... [_Clasping her
hands on her breast._] and _his_ God [_With a look of scornful warning
at_ FLETCHER.], that man is _his_ father, and _my_ husband.

FLETCHER. [_In a fearful rage._] You lie! [_Enter_ MRS. WOLTON _and_
MRS. FLETCHER.

MARION. [_Surprised ... pained._] Sh-h ... go on.

JEANNETTE. [_Coming between_ MARION _and_ FLETCHER, _she cries out ...
a wild, heart-broken, desperate cry._] No! you shall not write Bastard
on the forehead of _my child_!

FLETCHER. [_Beside himself._] By God! [_He strikes_ JEANNETTE _a blow
... which sounds...._ MARION _cries out and recoils. The two mothers
step forward with exclamations of fright and anger._ DAWSON _comes
from the choir, brought by the sound of the cry, and goes to_ MARION.
JEANNETTE _falls when struck. The child clings with both arms about
its mother's waist._

MARION. [_After a moment, drawing in a long breath, to_ FLETCHER.]
Coward! [_Her uncle takes a step forward to her ... he carries her
wedding bouquet. She seizes it from him and dashes it at the feet of_
FLETCHER, _and then, throwing back her head with an expression of
scorn, turns from him, takes the arm of her uncle with determination,
and goes down the chancel steps out of the church._ FLETCHER _stands
crestfallen._ MRS. WOLTON _and_ MRS. FLETCHER _look at each other,
horrified, speechless._

CURTAIN.



ACT III.

    SCENE. _The library at the_ WOLTONS. _A handsomely and
    luxuriously furnished room, somewhat disarranged by the
    preparations for the wedding. It is here that the wedding
    presents are displayed; along the two sides and partly across
    the end are placed long and narrow improvised tables,
    covered with all sorts of gifts--silver, glass, &c. &c. There
    are five piano lamps grouped together at the upper corner of
    table. There are faded flowers about._

    TIME. _The following day._

    DISCOVERED. MRS. LORRIMER _at left of table, a maid and man
    servant are busy wrapping up and addressing some of the
    wedding presents._

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Who has just finished writing an address on a
parcel._] This is one to go by express, Howes.

SERVANT. [_Taking it._] Yes, m'm. [_Placing it to one side where are
others tied up and addressed._] Beg pardon, m'm, but it's a great pity
Miss Marion should lose a husband and all the wedding presents as
well.

MRS. LORRIMER. Oh, it isn't always a pity, Howes, to lose a
husband--it's very often a very good thing. [MAID _gives_ MRS.
LORRIMER _another parcel to address, which she does--copying from a
card which the maid gives her with the parcel. Maid exits._

SERVANT. [_Giving_ MRS. LORRIMER _a visiting card._] This is the
address, m'm--still, if you'll excuse me for saying so, Mrs.
Lorrimer--if it was me, I'd keep the presents just by way of a kind of
consolation. [_She and the_ SERVANT _tie up another box._

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Addressing._] Ah, but you see their associations
would be painful. I have had two husbands and I have each time moved
out of the house I occupied with each on the day after losing him.

SERVANT. You know what trouble is, m'm, to have lost two husbands.
Grippe, m'm? [_Giving her another parcel._ HOWES _to table up stage._

MRS. LORRIMER. Not exactly. Another kind of epidemic. The law, Howes.
[HOWES _gives parcel._ MRS. LORRIMER _addresses it from a visiting
card. Enter_ MAID _with_ ETHEL _and_ FANSHAW.

MAID. I will tell Miss Wolton. [_Exit._ FANSHAW, ETHEL _and_ MRS.
LORRIMER _greet each other._

FANSHAW. How do you do? [_Shakes hands._ MRS. LORRIMER _motions with
her head a dismissal to the_ SERVANT, _and he gets boxes and goes
out._

ETHEL. [_Goes to sofa and sits._] Do you think Marion will see us?

MRS. LORRIMER. I don't know, I'm sure. She is with her mother.

ETHEL. You don't mean--

MRS. LORRIMER. Yes, but she isn't a bit like she was yesterday. She's
crying like a child, poor thing,--what she's gone through!

FANSHAW. Have you seen the papers? [_Has large bundle of them._

MRS. LORRIMER. No.

FANSHAW. It's in all of them, and some have big pictures.

ETHEL. Yes, my dear, with all of us in. Marion in a low-necked dress.
You're a sight, but my picture's rather good.

FANSHAW. [_Who has gotten papers from coat-tail pocket._] Perhaps
you'd like to see them.

MRS. LORRIMER. No, no; put them away quick. I'll see them home. I take
every blessed paper. [FANSHAW _up to table where he puts hat and
papers_.

ETHEL. What are you doing--sending back wedding presents? [_Crosses._

FANSHAW. Oh, I say, is that necessary?

ETHEL. I don't believe I would; there are lots of things she's been
dying to have.

MRS. LORRIMER. My dear Ethel!

FANSHAW. Yes, why couldn't she--er--forget--er--overlook--er--any old
thing with some of them--I mean those she wants? [_Turns up, looking
at presents on table._

MRS. LORRIMER. Well, there are some things I should think she'd be
glad to send back. After all, twelve dozen oyster forks are too many
for a small family like a newly married couple.

ETHEL. How many sugar spoons did she get?

MRS. LORRIMER. Thirteen, which to say the least, is an unlucky
number ... [_Rises, puts arm about_ ETHEL _and comes left._] and
there's that bankrupt stock of piano lamps. [_Crosses to sofa; sits on
sofa with_ ETHEL. FANSHAW _comes down._

ETHEL. [_Half laughing._] That's true! By the way, have you sent back
Mrs. Bayley's presents yet?

MRS. LORRIMER. Yes, why?

ETHEL. Go on, tell her, Fanshaw. [_Rises and goes to centre._ MRS.
LORRIMER _and_ FANSHAW _sit on sofa._

FANSHAW. [_Laughing._] Oh, it's nothing, only I sent it to Mrs. Bayley
myself three Christmases ago as a philopene. I suppose she thought I
wouldn't remember, but she forgot both our initials are marked on the
bottom.

ETHEL. [_At table, examining presents. Laughing._] Yes, my dear, and
Marion found them. People really ought to be more careful.

MRS. LORRIMER. Think of a woman with all Mrs. Bayley's
money-- [_Interrupted._

ETHEL. My dear, it is the rich who do these sort of things. Every year
all my second-hand Christmas cards and calendars come from my
wealthiest friends! And there's that thing-- [_Lifting a vase._] Isn't
it hideous? I don't know who sent it but-- [_Interrupted._

MRS. LORRIMER. _I_ do.

ETHEL. [_Innocently._] Who?

MRS. LORRIMER. I did.

ETHEL. Good gracious. [_Laughs._] I assure you I haven't any taste.
[ETHEL _down centre._ FANSHAW _rises_.

FANSHAW. No, not a bit. [_Goes back of sofa and up to table._ ETHEL
_up stage by table._

ETHEL. How many presents did Marion get, anyway? [_Looking among the
things on the table._

MRS. LORRIMER. I don't know. [_Satirically._] I didn't count them.

ETHEL. I don't believe she got very many--Marion has always taken up
so many poor people. I'm sure I never can tell what she sees in them!
[ETHEL _crosses right of table_.

MRS. LORRIMER. Oh, yes, Ethel, I know how you choose your friends. The
other day I heard you were running after the Lloyds--that settles it,
I said--they are either going to have a box at the Opera this year, or
give a series of dinners, or a big ball. Ethel knows what she's about.

FANSHAW. Exactly--Ethel knows her business, but you left out one
thing--they have the best cook in town, too.

ETHEL. [_Taking up a box with a large silver fish knife in it._] Who
gave her this fish knife?

MRS. LORRIMER. The Conrads, didn't they.... [ETHEL _bursts out
laughing_.

ETHEL. Ha! ha! ha! If that isn't appropriate! You know the old man
Conrad made all his money out of imitation sardines!

FANSHAW. And very bad imitations, too.

MRS. LORRIMER. Well, if I could make as much as Conrad, I'd be willing
to imitate codfish!

ETHEL. [_Takes up a small box at which she has been looking._] Here's
my present. I might as well take it home with me and save you the
trouble. [_Puts it in her pocket. She looks at silver hand-glass._

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Dryly._] Thank you! Was that your present in a
Tiffany box--a small diamond pin?

ETHEL. Yes, wasn't it sweet?

MRS. LORRIMER. Rather. I saw those pins marked down at Wanamaker's
Christmas time.

ETHEL. For heaven's sake, don't tell Marion. [_Re-enter_ MAID.

MAID. Mrs. Wolton will be down at once, madam-- [MAID _exits at back._
FANSHAW _crosses to table_.

ETHEL. [_Who goes back to_ MRS. LORRIMER.] Wasn't it awful
yesterday--in the church! [_Crosses._

MRS. LORRIMER. [_With a sigh._] Awful. [_Rises and crosses to centre._

ETHEL. [_Kneeling, with one knee on the sofa._] Still, I will say one
thing, I've always been dying to have it happen.

MRS. LORRIMER. Ethel! What a little beast you are.

FANSHAW. Oh, she didn't mean to Marion particularly. Did you, Ethel?

ETHEL. No; if I had my choice I'd rather see it happen to Kitty; she's
always pretending she's so sincere and all that.

MRS. LORRIMER. Marion is well rid of a man like Fletcher.

ETHEL. Oh, I don't know--I believe I'd take him to-morrow if he asked
me.

MRS. LORRIMER. Well, I wish he would--it would serve you just right.

FANSHAW. Oh, but you couldn't, to-morrow, even if he did ask you--you
forget.

ETHEL. Oh, of course I did. My dear, I meant to tell you when I came
in that I'm announcing my engagement to-day.

MRS. LORRIMER. Good gracious, to whom?

ETHEL. To Mr. Fanshaw.

MRS. LORRIMER. Good heavens. Allow me to condole-- [_Crosses to_
FANSHAW.] I mean congratulate you. And so you're going to be married!
[ETHEL _crosses. They shake hands._

ETHEL. Oh, no, only engaged for a little while,--just for fun. [MRS.
WOLTON _enters_.

MRS. WOLTON. Good morning, Ethel. I'm going to ask you to excuse
Marion. She isn't seeing _any_ one this morning.

ETHEL. I understand--of course--give her my love and tell her not to
mind--every one's on her side and,--she looked perfectly lovely. Tell
her she had the prettiest wedding dress anyway of the season. [_She
goes to kiss_ MRS. WOLTON, _who draws back. Both_ MRS. WOLTON _and_
MRS. LORRIMER _are aghast at the flippant manner of_ ETHEL. ETHEL
_raises her eyebrows, shrugs her shoulders._] Good-bye, good-bye. Come
along, Fanshaw. [_Exit._

FANSHAW. [_Crossing to_ MRS. WOLTON.] Oh, Mrs. Wolton, don't mind
Ethel. She doesn't mean what she sounds like. She never does mean what
she sounds like. Besides, she's a little rattled this morning. You see
she's engaged again.

MRS. WOLTON. Engaged?

FANSHAW. Yes, not to Johnny. I'm it. [ETHEL _re-enters_.

ETHEL. Come along, Fanshaw.

FANSHAW. All right, I'm coming. [_Takes up hat and papers._ ETHEL
_motions for him to leave papers--he does so and exits with_ ETHEL.

MRS. LORRIMER. How is Marion?

MRS. WOLTON. In the same extraordinary frame of mind--I'm afraid
she'll be ill.

MRS. LORRIMER. You mean, so composed?

MRS. WOLTON. Yes, so hard--she hasn't shed a tear--the only person
she's at all human with is that poor creature upstairs. And you know
she's sent for _him_.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Surprised._] She's going to see him?

MRS. WOLTON. She insists upon doing so.

MRS. LORRIMER. I wonder why? I never want to see any of my husbands
again-- [_Crosses to_ MRS. WOLTON.] after they've once disappointed
me.

MRS. WOLTON. I suspect--I don't know--Marion refuses to talk about it,
but her sending for this Mrs.--er--Miss--er--dear me, I don't know
what to call her--but you know who I mean--I think Marion has an idea
she can help her to--er-- [_She hesitates._

MRS. LORRIMER. You don't mean to marry Fletcher? [MRS. WOLTON _nods
her head. Incredulously._] She still wants to?

MRS. WOLTON. Anything for her child's future.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Very seriously reflecting._] Well, I can understand
that. [_She rouses herself and finishes in her old manner._] But, my
dear, I can sympathize with her, too, poor thing. I know what's before
her--you see, both mine were brutes.

MRS. WOLTON. [_Rises and crosses to_ MRS. LORRIMER.] Will you mind if
I say something very frank to you?

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Tentatively._] Well--frank things are always
disagreeable.

MRS. WOLTON. Anyway, I am going to run the risk. You know you are
considered--rather--er--

MRS. LORRIMER. I suppose you want to say heartless?

MRS. WOLTON. Oh, no!

MRS. LORRIMER. Well--then frivolous--

MRS. WOLTON. Yes--perhaps--and--a few other things--but you aren't.

MRS. LORRIMER. Yes, I am.

MRS. WOLTON. No, you're not.--These qualities are all only on the
surface. [_Both sit on sofa._] They are the rouge and powder of your
character--underneath, I believe you are plain and sincere.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Laughing._] I'm not so mad about being plain, but
sincere I would like to be.

MRS. WOLTON. It's your wretched luck in your married life that has
made you what you are!

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Sincerely, with much feeling, and almost breaking
down._] You're right. It was a case of hardening my heart and laughing
in the world's face, or--or having it laugh in mine perhaps.

MRS. WOLTON. What you need now as you did in the beginning is a good
husband--like mine was.

MRS. LORRIMER. Good men don't grow on bushes, and besides, good men
don't seem to care about me.

MRS. WOLTON. I know just the man, and I believe he's been in love with
you for years, though he may not know it himself! [MRS. LORRIMER
_looks at her questioningly._ MRS. WOLTON _goes to her and, putting
her arm around her neck, whispers in her ear._] I want you for a
_sister_-in-law.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Embarrassed, pleased._] Mrs. Wolton!

MRS. WOLTON. Call me "Laura," and I shall feel as if matters had
progressed a little. [_Enter_ DAWSON--_suddenly and unceremoniously.
Both women start slightly and exchange a quick, covert, meaning
glance. Rise._

DAWSON. Ah, Laura--I attended to that for you at once. Has she come?

MRS. WOLTON. Yes, she's upstairs.

DAWSON. Good. [MRS. LORRIMER _coughs_.] Mrs. Lorrimer-- [_Shaking her
hand._] I have followed you here--they told me at your house.

MRS. WOLTON. [_Rather hopefully._] You want to see Mrs. Lorrimer?

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Very quickly, aside to_ MRS. WOLTON _with humour._]
Say "Emily"--that may help a little, too!

MRS. WOLTON. You want to see Emily?

DAWSON. [_A momentary surprise at the name._] Emily, sweet
name--er--yes, if you will allow me, alone. [_Goes right, takes out
handkerchief, and mops brow._

MRS. WOLTON. Alone!--very well! [_Aside to_ MRS. LORRIMER.] I'd no
idea it would come so soon. It must be _that_.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Blushing._] No, no, it's something else-- [_Believing
though that it is._

MRS. WOLTON. [_Still aside._] One thing delights me, you're as much in
love as he is-- [_Aloud._] Good-bye, _Emily_.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Aloud, with emphasis._] Good-by, _Laura_! [MRS.
WOLTON _exits_.

DAWSON. Mrs. Lorrimer-- [_Crosses centre._] I want to speak to you on
a matter of the greatest privacy.

MRS. LORRIMER. Yes. [_Very quietly._

DAWSON. You are the only woman in the world who can help me.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Seriously._] I consider that a true compliment, Mr.
Dawson.

DAWSON. I hesitate because I do not know if I have the right to ask
you to share my secret with me.

MRS. LORRIMER. As far as I am concerned, I _give_ you that right.

DAWSON. You will help me at no matter what inconvenience to yourself?

MRS. LORRIMER. Yes--but I may not--er--consider it an "inconvenience"
to myself. [_Smiling._

DAWSON. Very well then--the terrible trouble of yesterday is not the
only calamity that may happen to my sister and her daughter.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Rising--surprised, disappointed, but still affected
seriously by his serious manner._] It is of them you wish to speak to
me?

DAWSON. Yes.

MRS. LORRIMER. It is for them you wish my help?

DAWSON. Yes.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_With one sigh, dismisses her disappointment and holds
out her hand--crosses to right of table._] It is yours for the asking.

DAWSON. Thank you! [_Presses her hand._] Mr. Wolton killed himself to
escape being convicted of a crime. [_Sits left of table._

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Withdraws her hand slowly from his, and whispers in
tremulous surprise and horror._] What!!!

DAWSON. He had misappropriated funds entrusted to his care,--exposure
became inevitable--you know the rest.

MRS. LORRIMER. But Marion, Mrs. Wolton?

DAWSON. They know nothing!

MRS. LORRIMER. Nothing! [_Looks puzzled._] But how--

DAWSON. The night of the catastrophe, Fletcher announced his
engagement to Marion, and claimed his right to bear a share of the
family's trouble. I took him at his word by asking him to come to the
rescue of his future wife's name and honour with--money!

MRS. LORRIMER. And he did!

DAWSON. Yes--willingly! He was splendid that night.

MRS. LORRIMER. That's why you suddenly became his champion!

DAWSON. Yes, I couldn't believe the tales against him, when he had
proved his love for Marion by such a big act of generosity.

MRS. LORRIMER. He knows everything?

DAWSON. Everything, that same night.

MRS. LORRIMER. And he has never breathed a word?

DAWSON. That was only natural up to yesterday, but
now-- [_Interrupted._

MRS. LORRIMER. He doesn't threaten to tell?

DAWSON. He does, unless Marion marries him. He's mad about her. The
good in him has loved her up to now; now it's the devil in him. He's
not the same man!

MRS. LORRIMER. And what do you want me to do?

DAWSON. Advise me.

MRS. LORRIMER. _I._ Advise _you_?

DAWSON. Yes. Shall we tell Marion?

MRS. LORRIMER. About her father?

DAWSON. Yes.

MRS. LORRIMER. No, no! Not if we can help it!

DAWSON. But-- [_Interrupted._

MRS. LORRIMER. And Fletcher must be paid every cent he gave.

DAWSON. Not easily done. Of course you will understand I have nothing;
what I had went at the first, and I shall need all my income now for
Laura and Marion.

MRS. LORRIMER. You will borrow this money in your name.

DAWSON. I have no security. [_A moment's pause; both think--rise._

MRS. LORRIMER. Do you carry a life insurance? [_Crosses left._

DAWSON. Yes, quite a heavy one.

MRS. LORRIMER. Why not borrow on your life insurance this sum?

DAWSON. [_Pleased._] Of course, of course! What a fool I've been not
to think of that! How clever you are! But again, it must be borrowed
privately for many reasons. [_Again a moment's pause, while both
think._

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Showing decision and determination._] I think I know
some one.

DAWSON. Who?

MRS. LORRIMER. Don't ask me till I've seen him and found out--I will
go now-- [_Crossing up centre._]--at once, and make a beginning, and
you must go to Fletcher and keep him from coming here.

DAWSON. That won't be necessary, for surely Marion wouldn't see him.

MRS. LORRIMER. On the contrary she has _sent_ for him!

DAWSON. [_Astonished._] She isn't still in love with him! I'll go to
him and say I've come to talk business; I think that's the best way to
put it.

MRS. LORRIMER. Yes, and now, go right away!

DAWSON. [_With a world of appreciation and sentiment in his voice and
manner._] _Without thanking you?_

MRS. LORRIMER. Yes, please, because I don't want you to thank me in a
hurry--I want you to take a good long time over it. [_A moment's
pause; they look at each other._ DAWSON _seizes her hand, half
shamefacedly, and kisses it. He starts for hat, which he placed on
table as he entered._

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Drawing him back--half shyly._] Oh--answer me just
one question....

DAWSON. A dozen.

MRS. LORRIMER. What have you--a nice man--I mean--a man like you....
[_Interrupted._

DAWSON. [_Interrupting._] What kind of a man?

MRS. LORRIMER. A "nice" man--you _are_ a nice man, aren't you?
[_Smiling sweetly and rather archly at him._

DAWSON. [_Embarrassed._] Well--I--I'm afraid I shall have to leave the
answer with you--am I?

MRS. LORRIMER. Yes, I think you are--and why have you never married?

DAWSON. Well, you see, _some_ people marry so often, some others of us
don't marry at all, just to strike a sort of balance!

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Laughing._] That's mean of you to say to me! Come,
answer my question honestly.

DAWSON. Well, I've only known one woman in the world who wouldn't bore
me.

MRS. LORRIMER. There are such things as happy marriages, aren't there?

DAWSON. I should like to risk one, only-- [_He hesitates and stops._

MRS. LORRIMER. This "one woman in the world?"

DAWSON. Oh, she's absurd, impossible!

MRS. LORRIMER. Why?...

DAWSON. She wants to divorce all her husbands.

MRS. LORRIMER. Well, but don't give her a chance!

DAWSON. Eh, what?

MRS. LORRIMER. Don't give her a chance--any reason.

DAWSON. By George! I never thought of that.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Delighted._] You stupid!

DAWSON. [_Delighted._] Don't you know who I mean?

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Very self-consciously._] No--how should I?

DAWSON. Can't you guess?

MRS. LORRIMER. I don't want to guess, I want to know for _certain_.

DAWSON. You are "the only woman in the world!" [_He bows low before
her, his right arm bent, his hand on his chest._

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Takes his arm._] Well, I am ready to run the risk if
you are. [MRS. LORRIMER _and_ DAWSON _cross right._] But now we
mustn't lose any more time--take a cable-car; I will, it'll be quicker
than a cab. Perhaps you won't approve of cable-cars for me, though.
They are the most emotional mode of convenience I've ever tried.--This
morning, in two curves I sat in three men's laps!

DAWSON. _Ah._ [_Laughing._] Don't let those curves get to be a habit,
or I'll sue the company for alienating your affections.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Laughing._] Come! [_Takes his arm again and they
meet_ MARION, _who enters._

MARION. [_As she comes._] Tired out, Emily? [DAWSON _goes up stage to
door_.

MRS. LORRIMER. Tired! I never felt so rested in all my life! I haven't
tied up very many. [_With a look and gesture toward the table of
presents._] I've been interrupted--and now you must excuse me for a
little while, but I'll come back and do some more.

DAWSON. I'll go at once-- [_To_ MARION.] --an errand for Emily--Mrs.
Lorrimer. [_Emphasis on the name and a meaning look._] Good-bye--
[_Going. Both women say_ "Good-bye," _but_ MRS. LORRIMER _follows
him._ MARION'S _back is turned._ MRS. LORRIMER _quickly gives_ DAWSON
_a large bunch of violets she carries in exchange for a small rose-bud
he wears in his buttonhole. He cannot get it into his coat. There is
amused confusion._ MARION _turns and_ DAWSON _quickly exits._ MRS.
LORRIMER _down left of table._

MARION. [_Right of table._] It's like the death of someone, isn't it?
This is the death of my marriage, and these gifts are its clothes.

MRS. LORRIMER. Has--er--she gone?

MARION. No--she's waiting up in my room.

MRS. LORRIMER. What for?

MARION. [_Quietly._] I mean to make him marry her if I can, here,
to-day.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Doubtfully._] Do you think you can?

MARION. If he loves me, I think so. I shall ask him to prove his love
by doing the one honourable, honest thing there is for him to do. [_To
sofa._

MRS. LORRIMER. You believe in this woman?

MARION. He has practically acknowledged that what she says is true.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Tenderly._] And _you_, dear, and your love--
[_Crosses to_ MARION. _Interrupted._

MARION. _My_ love--for _him_. [_Sits on sofa_.] The blow he struck
Jeannette fell on my heart and killed my love. A man who would strike
a woman will do most anything,--and think where he did it, and _why_?
Because she was pleading and fighting for the rights of his child!

MRS. LORRIMER. I am glad, dear, you can take it so calmly.

MARION. [_Calmly._] Oh, no, it isn't exactly that--I am reasonable; I
see I've escaped a great misery and I'm grateful-- [_Enter_ SERVANT.]
But I suffer terribly, for the moment I close my eyes, I see only the
dreadful scene of yesterday.

SERVANT. Mr. Fletcher, ma'am.

MRS. LORRIMER. Oh! He's missed him!

MARION. What? [_Rises._] Who's missed who?

MRS. LORRIMER. Nothing. Nobody!

MARION. [_To_ SERVANT.] Show him in, Howes. [SERVANT _bows slightly
and exits_.

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Quickly._] Let me go the other way. [_Reaches door._

MARION. You're coming back?

MRS. LORRIMER. Yes. [_Kisses_ MARION.

MARION. What a sweet rose that is. [_Touching_ DAWSON'S _rose in_ MRS.
LORRIMER'S _dress._

MRS. LORRIMER. Yes, it's the loveliest rose I've ever seen. [_Exit
quickly as_ FLETCHER _enters._

FLETCHER. [_Speaking seriously but pleasantly, evidently expecting
that everything is to be made all right between them._] Thank you for
sending for me, but I would have come without your message!

MARION. [_Looks at him, surprised at his tone. Speaks quietly._]
Jeannette is upstairs waiting.

FLETCHER. [_Starts; his whole manner changes; he realizes now that he
has to fight for what he wants and against what he doesn't want._]
Why?

MARION. I've promised her you shall marry her, if I can make you.

FLETCHER. You can't. No, no, Marion. [_Pleading._] You won't throw me
over for yesterday. I lost my temper, I know, and I'm sorry for it,
but I love you-- [_Interrupted._

MARION. [_Interrupting._] Prove it by doing what I ask.

FLETCHER. [_Angry._] Never! [_Goes right._

MARION. [_Follows him._] If you make the reparation there is in your
power, it would save you from being utterly contemptible in my eyes!

FLETCHER. _You_ say that!!!

MARION. Yes,--will you do what I ask?

FLETCHER. [_Angry._] No!

MARION. [_Angry._] Then I do _right_ to despise you!

FLETCHER. No, because it is _my love_ for _you_ that keeps me back.
[MARION _laughs a bitter, satirical laugh_.] I will marry only _you_.

MARION. Me! Ha! [_Laughs again._

FLETCHER. [_Angrily--close to her._] And I _will_ marry you.

MARION. No, you'll not! [_Faces him._

FLETCHER. I will _force_ you to marry me.

MARION. How dare you to take that tone with me.

FLETCHER. I dare more than that.

MARION. [_Goes to bell._] Take care, or I'll have the servants turn
you out of the house! [FLETCHER _laughs an ironical laugh._] _Will_
you marry Jeannette Gros!

FLETCHER. [_More angry._] No! [_He follows her._] And I won't leave
this house, either. [_Takes her hand._

MARION. Don't touch me!

FLETCHER. I won't leave the house because it's _mine_. And so will
_you_ be!

MARION. No!

FLETCHER. Yes, you will, because I'll buy you with your father's
reputation!

MARION. With what!

FLETCHER. With your father's good name.

MARION. You--scoundrel.

FLETCHER. We are well mated, for you are the daughter of one! [MARION
_immediately touches the bell, which is heard ringing in the
distance_.] You had better dismiss the servant when he comes; I am
sure you would rather he didn't hear all I have to say.

MARION. [_Almost under her breath._] _You_ cannot injure my father!

FLETCHER. Ask your uncle, Mr. Dawson! [MARION _looks up questioningly,
as if she suddenly remembered something._ SERVANT _enters_.

MARION. Ask Mrs. Wolton to please come here at once.

SERVANT. Yes, m'm. [_Crosses room and exits._

FLETCHER. You remember the night of your fancy-dress ball and your
father's--death-- [_He pauses_--MARION _doesn't answer, but looks
troubled._] He took his life to save it from being--disgraced, because
he was a _thief_!

MARION. Stop! [_She draws herself up and looks_ FLETCHER _in the face.
He stops. She goes to door left and opens it. He goes right. Enter_
MRS. WOLTON, _a little frightened._ MARION _takes her hand and leads
her down stage._ MRS. WOLTON _sees_ FLETCHER, _but does not bow._
FLETCHER _bows._ MARION _takes_ MRS. WOLTON'S _hand and the two women
stand, facing_ FLETCHER _who stands._

MARION. You repeat, if you dare, the vile slander of my father!

MRS. WOLTON. Your father?

FLETCHER. All that I said is true, and more!

MRS. WOLTON. What is true? What did he say? [_A pause._ FLETCHER
_remains doggedly silent._

MARION. Ah! You daren't repeat it before my mother! [FLETCHER
_sneers_.] You know she would prove the lie in your face! Did you
think you would frighten me into marrying you! Do you think a man with
a reputation like yours, could injure the reputation of a man like my
father, loved by everyone!

FLETCHER. And who cheated those very people who loved him--that's only
what _I_ did. He was no better than I-- [MRS. WOLTON _makes a movement
and an effort to interrupt him_.

MARION. [_To_ MRS. WOLTON.] Let him finish, mother. [_Holding her
back._

FLETCHER. He left you both beggars, and robbed his own sister besides.

MRS. WOLTON. _It is not true!_

MARION. [_Not believing him._] How is it, then, that we have
everything, everything we could wish for! How is it we have lived in
our old home, lived our old life, if we were beggars!

FLETCHER. How?--thanks to _my_ money, _I've_ paid for it all! [MARION
_opens her lips to speak, but cannot; a short pause_.

MRS. WOLTON. You! [MARION _stops her with her hand on her arm._ MARION
_and_ MRS. WOLTON _cross to sofa._

FLETCHER. [_Quietly._] It is true! This is _my_ house you're in! [_A
pause--the two women are stunned, speechless, unable to comprehend and
believe, yet unable to contradict. Re-enter_ DAWSON.

FLETCHER. Ah! [_Relieved, as_ DAWSON _is his proof._ DAWSON, _looking
from one person to the other, realizes the situation. He looks a
little frightened at the two women. An awkward moment's pause._]
Question _him_ if you doubt my word.

MARION. My father! Is what he says true? [_The women are afraid to
question._

DAWSON. [_To_ FLETCHER.] Have you told them?

FLETCHER. The truth? _Yes!_

DAWSON. [_To_ FLETCHER.] Your reason?

FLETCHER. I didn't come here to do it; she made me angry. She drove me
to it.

MARION. [_In a hard, tuneless voice._] He says my father was not
honest--is that _true_?

DAWSON. [_Answers with difficulty._] Yes. [_A sob comes into_ MARION'S
_throat and she almost breaks down, but she at once controls herself._

MARION. He says _his_ money has been supporting us since--since--

DAWSON. [_To_ FLETCHER.] A _manly_ way to put it!

FLETCHER. [_Crosses left. Bursting out again._] I wanted you to feel
an obligation to me--I don't want to lose you.--You loved me
yesterday; if you were once bound to me, you'd love me again--you
can't change like that over night.

MARION. If yesterday had left any love in my heart for you, you would
have destroyed it by what you have done to-day.

MRS. WOLTON. [_Who has gained control of herself._] But I don't
understand how it was his money--

DAWSON. [_Interrupts._] At the time of your husband's death a large
sum of money was needed to keep his wrong-doing from being made
public. I took Fletcher into my confidence, and he lent us this sum.

MARION. You should have _told_ me.

DAWSON. I wanted to save you.

MARION. No! no! It was placing me in a terribly false position. It was
placing all of us! Well, _I_ take the debt now on _my_ shoulders!
Between us three we will manage to pay it up in time--I am ready to
give up the rest of my life to it. [_Crosses to_ FLETCHER.] Don't be
afraid, you will be paid!

FLETCHER. And you still persist in your refusal to marry me?

MARION. Yes! Yes! Yes!! A thousand times now more than ever.

FLETCHER. And do you think all those years you are trying to scrape up
the money, I'll hold my tongue? I don't care about the money, I only
care about you.--If I can't have you, do you think I'm going to accept
the disgrace you helped heap upon me yesterday? Not I, if I know it!
Throw me over, and I'll make public your father's record--every
dishonest bit of it! [_Strikes table._

MRS. WOLTON. [_Cries out._] No! No! [_Crosses to_ DAWSON.

DAWSON. You dare threaten?

MARION. No, no! He can't mean it.

MRS. WOLTON. [_Taking_ DAWSON'S _arm._] No, no! He wouldn't bring this
disgrace upon us! What good would it do him?

FLETCHER. Then persuade her to marry me.

DAWSON. No. Rather the disgrace!

MARION. [_To_ FLETCHER.] I never thought I would humble myself before
you, but I do, now, and I beg you, for the love you say you have for
me, spare the name of a man, who at least never harmed you! Don't
dishonour my father's memory. Isn't it enough revenge for you that my
mother and I know it! [_With tears._ FLETCHER _is a little affected,
but_ DAWSON _does not see this, and interrupts. He pulls_ MARION _away
from before_ FLETCHER.

DAWSON. No--I won't have you pleading to him! [_Places her to left
and_ Marion _puts arms about her mother._

FLETCHER. I know who I have to thank for all this--Rhodes!

MARION. There is no need to mention his name. [_Arms about her
mother._

FLETCHER. Isn't there! It was he who brought Jeannette here--it was he
we both have to thank for yesterday's ordeal.

MARION. [_To_ DAWSON, _half-heartedly._] What? [_She places_ MRS.
WOLTON _on sofa._

FLETCHER. You didn't believe me when I told you of your father! But
this is as true as that was. And the night you promised to marry me,
Rhodes threatened to do this very thing.

MARION. It isn't possible! He wouldn't have submitted me to
yesterday's humiliation!

FLETCHER. How else could she--living quietly in a little town in
Switzerland--know of our affairs here?

DAWSON. I confess Rhodes tried to prejudice me, but I was too much
impressed with Fletcher's generosity.

FLETCHER. That money was nothing. I'd do it all over again to-morrow
if Marion would only marry me.

MARION. Douglas tried to influence me, too.

FLETCHER. He wants you himself, that's why!

MARION. [_In despair._] Then I have no one--no friend to believe in!
Not even you, Uncle Fred, for you should have told me about my father
in the beginning.

FLETCHER. [_To_ MARION.] You have me!

MARION. Oh! Can't I make you understand, _you_ least of all! [SERVANT
_enters and announces_--"Mrs. Lorrimer--Mr. Rhodes." _Those on the
stage look up surprised._

MRS. WOLTON. Oh! this is more than I will bear! Mr. Rhodes, I must beg
you to excuse us.

DOUGLAS. To excuse you?

MRS. LORRIMER. I have brought Mr. Rhodes-- [_Interrupted._

MRS. WOLTON. Then, I must ask you to take him away if he is unwilling
to leave without you!

DAWSON. No, Laura, wait-- [_Interrupted._

MARION. Mother is right. It should have been enough for Mr. Rhodes to
have witnessed our humiliation yesterday. It is adding another insult
for him to come here to-day.

MRS. LORRIMER. Marion, you don't know what you're saying--

DOUGLAS. [_Stops_ MRS. LORRIMER.] No! Miss Wolton is doubtless
right-- [_Movement from_ MARION.] You did not tell me Mr. Fletcher was
here, or I shouldn't have been persuaded to come. I prefer to go--

MRS. LORRIMER. No, not without my telling why you came.

DOUGLAS. No, I must ask you to keep the reason entirely to
yourself--and Mr. Dawson. [_Starts to go._

DAWSON. [_Stops him._] Not yet. I understand now why you have come
with Mrs. Lorrimer. It is not fair that your reason for coming should
not be known.

FLETCHER. We know it; Miss Wolton has sufficiently explained. His
presence here at this moment is only another insult.

DOUGLAS. Oh, you wish me to go? [MRS. LORRIMER _begins to cross back
of_ DOUGLAS _to right of table._] That puts another colour on the
matter. I am at a loss to imagine how Mrs. Wolton could accuse me of
the sentiments she did. I will stay and wait for an explanation from
her.

MARION. I will give it to you if you will excuse me for a moment.
[_Going._

DAWSON. [_Meeting her._] What are you going to do?

MARION. Bring her here--she is in my room----

FLETCHER. [_Uneasy._] Jeannette!

MARION. [_Ignoring_ FLETCHER, _speaks to_ DAWSON _in reply to_
FLETCHER'S _question._] She will tell us who brought her to New York,
and that will answer--Mr. Rhodes. [_She exits._

FLETCHER. [_To_ DAWSON.] I refuse to remain to see this woman. [_Takes
his hat._

DAWSON. I have no wish to detain you--but kindly give your address
that I may communicate with you.

FLETCHER. My bankers you know,--that is all that is necessary, as I
shall very likely sail--what day is this?

DAWSON. Friday.

FLETCHER. [_Bitterly._] Oh, yes, of course, my wedding-day was on
Thursday! I think I shall sail in to-morrow's steamer. [MARION
_re-enters. Sees_ FLETCHER _going, her voice stops him_.

MARION. You are going--wait. This gentleman has asked me a question,
which I think you can answer for me, by answering a question of mine
to you. How did you know of my marriage to--of my marriage of
yesterday?

JEANNETTE. From a friend who wrote me and sent me the newspapers.

MARION. [_Meaningly._] A man or woman friend?

JEANNETTE. A woman!

MARION. [_Starts--it is the first shock of doubt she has had._]
Douglas Rhodes had nothing to do with your appearance yesterday in the
church?

DOUGLAS. [_Astonished--hurt._] _You thought that?_

JEANNETTE. Oh, no, Miss Wolton, he had nothing in the world to do with
it.

MARION. [_Stands up as if shot, her face full of shame and
grief--turns slowly toward_ DOUGLAS, _bows her head, half whispers._]
I beg your pardon.

DAWSON. [_To_ FLETCHER.] You see you were wrong, Mr. Fletcher.

FLETCHER. Possibly. Good-bye.

MRS. WOLTON. And our secret, my husband's-- [_Hesitates, searching for
a word--does not finish._

FLETCHER. Oh, I was only trying to bully your daughter into marrying
me--a drowning man, you know--I thought I could make her love me again
if I once had a good chance--that's all. Well--I've bought lots of
pleasure at the cost of other people's; now I'm going to pay my debt,
I suppose, with some misery on my own account, but--well,--I sha'n't
disturb Wolton's memory. [MRS. WOLTON _whispers aloud to herself
involuntarily--_ "Thank God!" FLETCHER _continues speech._] Because,
because-- [_A sob comes in his throat._] I can't help it, I still love
his daughter. [_After a long look at_ MARION, _exits._ MARION _has
turned from_ DOUGLAS _and listened to the end of_ FLETCHER'S _speech.
As he goes_, JEANNETTE _involuntarily seizes_ MARION'S _hand._ MARION
_frees herself from_ JEANNETTE _with an encouraging look at her, and
follows_ FLETCHER _out._

MRS. LORRIMER. Well, bad as he is, there is something about that man
that takes right hold of me. [_To_ DAWSON.] It's lucky I've fallen in
love with you, or I might have had one more inning in the divorce
club.

DAWSON. I'm only afraid there's a little danger of you trying it
again, anyway.

MRS. LORRIMER. With _you_? Oh, no! The day we are married I'm going to
begin writing letters to the newspapers in favour of abolishing the
institution.

MARION. [_Enters._ JEANNETTE _goes to her quickly, calm and
hopefully._] Go to him, he is waiting. [JEANNETTE _gives an
exclamation of emotional relief and joy._] Be tactful; he wants to
sail on to-morrow's steamer--don't ... [_Interrupted._

JEANNETTE. I understand--he shall sail alone, if he will only leave
his name behind for my boy.

MARION. That he will do--he said so. [_As_ MARION _turns_, JEANNETTE
_takes her hand and leaves the room._

MRS. LORRIMER. [_Crosses to_ MARION.] Now, Marion, I want you to know
why Douglas came.

DOUGLAS. [_Rises, comes center._] Please-- [_He shakes his head._

DAWSON. But she _must_ know some time.

DOUGLAS. Not before me.

DAWSON. Have you forgotten, Marion, our debt to Fletcher?

MARION. [_Realizes what it is. To_ DOUGLAS.] _You_ would--Oh no,
rather leave the debt with him to repay.

DOUGLAS. Why?

MARION. Because I owe you now more than I can ever repay, for the
wonderful friendship you have given me all my life! I haven't the
right to accept anything more from you.

DOUGLAS. Let me be the judge of that--

MARION. Still, after all that's gone by, you don't hate me?

DOUGLAS. [_Forgetting himself._] Hate you? No. I-- [MARION _crosses to
sofa, sits._ MRS. LORRIMER, _as he begins to speak, has touched_
DAWSON'S _arm meaningly._ DAWSON _moves quickly and softly to_
DOUGLAS, _and, with a quiet, soft, firm touch on his arm, stops him
before he can say "I love you."_

DAWSON. [_Aside to_ DOUGLAS.] Wait--trust to me who love you both, and
wait.

DOUGLAS. [_To_ MARION.] You'll leave the debt with me?

MARION. Yes! [MRS. LORRIMER, MRS. WOLTON _and_ DAWSON _all exchange
happy, hopeful glances._ DOUGLAS _and_ MARION _look at each other._

CURTAIN.



       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

Pages 533, 536: Variations in spelling Jeannette Gros (Jeannette
Gross and Jeanette Gross) in the Cast of Characters lists have been
retained to match the original book.

Page 540: speakes changed to speaks. (She speakes aside to one)

Page 548: Punctuation missing in original. Added ! after "something."
(MR. WOLTON. Give me a word of hope, Fred!--something What are you
going to do?)

Page 549: Period added to end of sentence after "corner." (and placing
them down left corner)





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