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Title: Waste - A Tragedy, In Four Acts
Author: Granville-Barker, Harley, 1877-1946
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Waste - A Tragedy, In Four Acts" ***

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WASTE: A TRAGEDY, IN FOUR ACTS,
BY GRANVILLE BARKER

LONDON: SIDGWICK & JACKSON, LTD.
3 ADAM STREET, ADELPHI. MCMIX.



_Entered at the Library of Congress, Washington, U.S.A.
All rights reserved._



Waste

1906-7



WASTE


At Shapters, GEORGE FARRANT'S house in Hertfordshire. Ten o'clock on a
Sunday evening in summer.

_Facing you at her piano by the window, from which she is protected by a
little screen, sits_ MRS. FARRANT; _a woman of the interesting age,
clear-eyed and all her face serene, except for a little pucker of the brows
which shows a puzzled mind upon some important matters. To become almost an
ideal hostess has been her achievement; and in her own home, as now, this
grace is written upon every movement. Her eyes pass over the head of a girl,
sitting in a low chair by a little table, with the shaded lamplight falling
on her face. This is_ LUCY DAVENPORT; _twenty-three, undefeated in anything
as yet and so unsoftened. The book on her lap is closed, for she has been
listening to the music. It is possibly some German philosopher, whom she
reads with a critical appreciation of his shortcomings. On the sofa near her
lounges_ MRS. O'CONNELL; _a charming woman, if by charming you understand a
woman who converts every quality she possesses into a means of attraction,
and has no use for any others. On the sofa opposite sits_ MISS TREBELL. _In
a few years, when her hair is quite grey, she will assume as by right the
dignity of an old maid. Between these two in a low armchair is_ LADY
DAVENPORT. _She has attained to many dignities. Mother and grandmother, she
has brought into the world and nourished not merely life but character. A
wonderful face she has, full of proud memories and fearless of the future.
Behind her, on a sofa between the windows, is_ WALTER KENT. _He is just what
the average English father would like his son to be. You can see the light
shooting out through the windows and mixing with moonshine upon a smooth
lawn. On your left is a door. There are many books in the room, hardly any
pictures, a statuette perhaps. The owner evidently sets beauty of form
before beauty of colour. It is a woman's room and it has a certain delicate
austerity. By the time you have observed everything_ MRS. FARRANT _has
played Chopin's prelude opus 28, number 20 from beginning to end._

LADY DAVENPORT. Thank you, my dear Julia.

WALTER KENT. [_Protesting._] No more?

MRS. FARRANT. I won't play for a moment longer than I feel musical.

MISS TREBELL. Do you think it right, Julia, to finish with that after an
hour's Bach?

MRS. FARRANT. I suddenly came over Chopinesque, Fanny; ... what's your
objection? [_as she sits by her._]

FRANCES TREBELL. What ... when Bach has raised me to the heights of
unselfishness!

AMY O'CONNELL. [_Grimacing sweetly, her eyes only half lifted._] Does he?
I'm glad that I don't understand him.

FRANCES TREBELL. [_Putting mere prettiness in its place._] One may prefer
Chopin when one is young.

AMY O'CONNELL. And is that a reproach or a compliment?

WALTER KENT. [_Boldly._] I do.

FRANCES TREBELL. Or a man may ... unless he's a philosopher.

LADY DAVENPORT. [_To the rescue._] Miss Trebell, you're very hard on mere
humanity.

FRANCES TREBELL. [_Completing the reproof._] That's my wretched training as
a schoolmistress, Lady Davenport ... one grew to fear it above all things.

LUCY DAVENPORT. [_Throwing in the monosyllable with sharp youthful
enquiry._] Why?

FRANCES TREBELL. There were no text books on the subject.

MRS. FARRANT. [_Smiling at her friend._] Yes, Fanny ... I think you escaped
to look after your brother only just in time.

FRANCES TREBELL. In another year I might have been head-mistress, which
commits you to approve of the system for ever.

LADY DAVENPORT. [_Shaking her wise head._] I've watched the Education fever
take England....

FRANCES TREBELL. If I hadn't stopped teaching things I didn't understand...!

AMY O'CONNELL. [_Not without mischief._] And what was the effect on the
pupils?

LUCY DAVENPORT. I can tell you that.

AMY O'CONNELL. Frances never taught you.

LUCY DAVENPORT. No, I wish she had. But I was at her sort of a school before
I went to Newnham. I know.

FRANCES TREBELL. [_Very distastefully._] Up-to-date, it was described as.

LUCY DAVENPORT. Well, it was like a merry-go-round at top speed. You felt
things wouldn't look a bit like that when you came to a standstill.

AMY O'CONNELL. And they don't?

LUCY DAVENPORT. [_With great decision._] Not a bit.

AMY O'CONNELL. [_In her velvet tone._] I was taught the whole duty of woman
by a parson-uncle who disbelieved in his Church.

WALTER KENT. When a man at Jude's was going to take orders....

AMY O'CONNELL. Jude's?

WALTER KENT. At Oxford. The dons went very gingerly with him over bits of
science and history.

      [_This wakes a fruitful thought in_ JULIA FARRANT'S _brain._]

MRS. FARRANT. Mamma, have you ever discussed so-called anti-Christian
science with Lord Charles?

FRANCES TREBELL ... Cantelupe?

MRS. FARRANT. Yes. It was over appointing a teacher for the schools down
here ... he was staying with us. The Vicar's his fervent disciple. However,
we were consulted.

LUCY DAVENPORT. Didn't Lord Charles want you to send the boys there till
they were ready for Harrow?

MRS. FARRANT. Yes.

FRANCES TREBELL. Quite the last thing in Toryism!

MRS. FARRANT. Mamma made George say we were too _nouveau riche_ to risk it.

LADY DAVENPORT. [_As she laughs._] I couldn't resist that.

MRS. FARRANT. [_Catching something of her subject's dry driving manner._]
Lord Charles takes the superior line and says ... that with his consent the
Church may teach the unalterable Truth in scientific language or legendary,
whichever is easier understanded of the people.

LADY DAVENPORT. Is it the prospect of Disestablishment suddenly makes him so
accommodating?

FRANCES TREBELL. [_With large contempt._] He needn't be. The majority of
people believe the world was made in an English week.

LUCY DAVENPORT. Oh, no!

FRANCES TREBELL. No Bishop dare deny it.

MRS. FARRANT. [_From the heights of experience._] Dear Lucy, do you
seriously think that the English spirit--the nerve that runs down the
backbone--is disturbed by new theology ... or new anything?

LADY DAVENPORT. [_Enjoying her epigram._] What a waste of persecution
history shows us!

      WALTER KENT _now captures the conversation with a very young
      politician's fervour._

WALTER KENT. Once they're disestablished they must make up their minds what
they do believe.

LADY DAVENPORT. I presume Lord Charles thinks it'll hand the Church over to
him and his ... dare I say 'Sect'?

WALTER KENT. Won't it? He knows what he wants.

MRS. FARRANT. [_Subtly._] There's the election to come yet.

WALTER KENT. But now both parties are pledged to a bill of some sort.

MRS. FARRANT. Political prophecies have a knack of not coming true; but,
d'you know, Cyril Horsham warned me to watch this position developing ...
nearly four years ago.

FRANCES TREBELL. Sitting on the opposition bench sharpens the eye-sight.

WALTER KENT. [_Ironically._] Has he been pleased with the prospect?

MRS. FARRANT. [_With perfect diplomacy_] If the Church must be
disestablished ... better done by its friends than its enemies.

FRANCES TREBELL. Still I don't gather he's pleased with his dear cousin
Charles's conduct.

MRS. FARRANT. [_Shrugging._] Oh, lately, Lord Charles has never concealed
his tactics.

FRANCES TREBELL. And that speech at Leeds was the crowning move I suppose;
just asking the Nonconformists to bring things to a head?

MRS. FARRANT. [_Judicially._] I think that was precipitate.

WALTER KENT. [_Giving them_ LORD CHARLES'S _oratory._] Gentlemen, in these
latter days of Radical opportunism!--You know, I was there ... sitting next
to an old gentleman who shouted "Jesuit."

FRANCES TREBELL. But supposing Mallaby and the Nonconformists hadn't been
able to force the Liberals' hand?

MRS. FARRANT. [_Speaking as of inferior beings._] Why, they were glad of any
cry going to the Country!

FRANCES TREBELL. [_As she considers this._] Yes ... and Lord Charles would
still have had as good a chance of forcing Lord Horsham's. It has been
clever tactics.

LUCY DAVENPORT. [_Who has been listening, sharp-eyed._] Contrariwise, he
wouldn't have liked a Radical Bill though, would he?

WALTER KENT. [_With aplomb._] He knew he was safe from that. The government
must have dissolved before Christmas anyway ... and the swing of the
pendulum's a sure thing.

MRS. FARRANT. [_With her smile._] It's never a sure thing.

WALTER KENT. Oh, Mrs. Farrant, look how unpopular the Liberals are.

FRANCES TREBELL. What made them bring in Resolutions?

WALTER KENT. [_Overflowing with knowledge of the subject._] I was told
Mallaby insisted on their showing they meant business. I thought he was
being too clever ... and it turns out he was. Tommy Luxmore told me there
was a fearful row in the Cabinet about it. But on their last legs, you know,
it didn't seem to matter, I suppose. Even then, if Prothero had mustered up
an ounce of tact ... I believe they could have pulled them through....

FRANCES TREBELL. Not the Spoliation one.

WALTER KENT. Well, Mr. Trebell dished that!

FRANCES TREBELL. Henry says his speech didn't turn a vote.

MRS. FARRANT. [_With charming irony._] How disinterested of him!

WALTER KENT. [_Enthusiastic._] That speech did if ever a speech did.

FRANCES TREBELL. Is there any record of a speech that ever did? He just
carried his own little following with him.

MRS. FARRANT. But the crux of the whole matter is and has always been ...
what's to be done with the Church's money.

LUCY DAVENPORT. [_Visualising sovereigns._] A hundred millions or so ...
think of it!

FRANCES TREBELL. There has been from the start a good deal of
anti-Nonconformist feeling against applying the money to secular uses.

MRS. FARRANT. [_Deprecating false modesty, on anyone's behalf._] Oh, of
course the speech turned votes ... twenty of them at least.

LUCY DAVENPORT. [_Determined on information._] Then I was told Lord Horsham
had tried to come to an understanding himself with the Nonconformists about
Disestablishment--oh--a long time ago ... over the Education Bill.

FRANCES TREBELL. Is that true, Julia?

MRS. FARRANT. How should I know?

FRANCES TREBELL. [_With some mischief_] You might.

MRS. FARRANT. [_Weighing her words._] I don't think it would have been
altogether wise to make advances. They'd have asked more than a Conservative
government could possibly persuade the Church to give up.

WALTER KENT. I don't see that Horsham's much better off now. He only turned
the Radicals out on the Spoliation question by the help of Trebell. And so
far ... I mean, till this election is over Trebell counts still as one of
them, doesn't he, Miss Trebell? Oh ... perhaps he doesn't.

FRANCES TREBELL. He'll tell you he never has counted as one of them.

MRS. FARRANT. No doubt Lord Charles would sooner have done without his help.
And that's why I didn't ask the gentle Jesuit this week-end if anyone wants
to know.

WALTER KENT. [_Stupent at this lack of party spirit._] What ... he'd rather
have had the Liberals go to the country undefeated!

MRS. FARRANT. [_With finesse._] The election may bring us back independent
of Mr. Trebell and anything he stands for.

WALTER KENT. [_Sharply._] But you asked Lord Horsham to meet him.

MRS. FARRANT. [_With still more finesse._] I had my reasons. Votes aren't
everything.

      LADY DAVENPORT _has been listening with rather a doubtful smile; she
      now caps the discussion._

LADY DAVENPORT. I'm relieved to hear you say so, my dear Julia. On the other
hand democracy seems to have brought itself to a pretty pass. Here's a
measure, which the country as a whole neither demands nor approves of, will
certainly be carried, you tell me, because a minority on each side is
determined it shall be ... for totally different reasons.

MRS. FARRANT. [_Shrugging again._] It isn't our business to prevent popular
government looking foolish, Mamma.

LADY DAVENPORT. Is that Tory cynicism or feminine?

      _At this moment_ GEORGE FARRANT _comes through the window; a good
      natured man of forty-five. He would tell you that he was educated at
      Eton and Oxford. But the knowledge which saves his life comes from the
      thrusting upon him of authority and experience; ranging from the
      management of an estate which he inherited at twenty-four, through the
      chairmanship of a newspaper syndicate, through a successful marriage,
      to a minor post in the last Tory cabinet and the prospect of one in
      the near-coming next. Thanks to his agents, editors, permanent
      officials, and his own common sense, he always acquits himself
      creditably. He comes to his wife's side and waits for a pause in the
      conversation._

LADY DAVENPORT. I remember Mr. Disraeli once said to me ... Clever women are
as dangerous to the State as dynamite.

FRANCES TREBELL. [_Not to be impressed by Disraeli._] Well, Lady Davenport,
if men will leave our intellects lying loose about....

FARRANT. Blackborough's going, Julia.

MRS. FARRANT. Yes, George.

LADY DAVENPORT. [_Concluding her little apologue to_ MISS TREBELL.] Yes, my
dear, but power without responsibility isn't good for the character that
wields it either.

      [_There follows_ FARRANT _through the window a man of fifty. He has
      about him that unmistakeable air of acquired wealth and power which
      distinguishes many Jews and has therefore come to be regarded as a
      solely Jewish characteristic. He speaks always with that swift
      decision which betokens a narrowed view. This is_ RUSSELL
      BLACKBOROUGH; _manufacturer, politician ... statesman, his own side
      calls him._]

BLACKBOROUGH. [_To his hostess._] If I start now, they tell me, I shall get
home before the moon goes down. I'm sorry I must get back to-night. It's
been a most delightful week-end.

MRS. FARRANT. [_Gracefully giving him a good-bye hand._] And a successful
one, I hope.

FARRANT. We talked Education for half an hour.

MRS. FARRANT. [_Her eyebrows lifting a shade._] Education!

FARRANT. Then Trebell went away to work.

BLACKBOROUGH. I've missed the music, I fear.

MRS. FARRANT. But it's been Bach.

BLACKBOROUGH. No Chopin?

MRS. FARRANT. For a minute only.

BLACKBOROUGH. Why don't these new Italian men write things for the piano!
Good-night, Lady Davenport.

LADY DAVENPORT. [_As he bows over her hand._] And what has Education to do
with it?

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Non-committal himself._] Perhaps it was a subject that
compromised nobody.

LADY DAVENPORT. Do you think my daughter has been wasting her time and her
tact?

FARRANT. [_Clapping him on the shoulder._] Blackborough's frankly
flabbergasted at the publicity of this intrigue.

MRS. FARRANT. Intrigue! Mr. Trebell walked across the House ... actually
into your arms.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_With a certain dubious grimness._] Well ... we've had some
very interesting talks since. And his views upon Education are quite ...
Utopian. Good bye, Miss Trebell.

FRANCES TREBELL. Good-bye.

MRS. FARRANT. I wouldn't be so haughty till after the election, if I were
you, Mr. Blackborough.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Indifferently._] Oh, I'm glad he's with us on the Church
question ... so far.

MRS. FARRANT. So far as you've made up your minds? The electoral cat will
jump soon.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_A little beaten by such polite cynicism._] Well ... our
conservative principles! After all we know what they are. Good-night, Mrs.
O'Connell.

AMY O'CONNELL. Good-night.

FARRANT. Your neuralgia better?

AMY O'CONNELL. By fits and starts.

FARRANT. [_Robustly._] Come and play billiards. Horsham and Maconochie
started a game. They can neither of them play. We left them working out a
theory of angles on bits of paper.

WALTER KENT. Professor Maconochie lured me on to golf yesterday. He doesn't
suffer from theories about that.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_With approval._] Started life as a caddie.

WALTER KENT. [_Pulling a wry face._] So he told me after the first hole.

BLACKBOROUGH. What's this, Kent, about Trebell's making you his secretary?

WALTER KENT. He thinks he'll have me.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Almost reprovingly._] No question of politics?

FARRANT. More intrigue, Blackborough.

WALTER KENT. [_With disarming candour._] The truth is, you see, I haven't
any as yet. I was Socialist at Oxford ... but of course that doesn't count.
I think I'd better learn my job under the best man I can find ... and who'll
have me.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Gravely._] What does your father say?

WALTER KENT. Oh, as long as Jack will inherit the property in a Tory spirit!
My father thinks it my wild oats.

      _A Footman has come in._

THE FOOTMAN. Your car is round, sir.

BLACKBOROUGH. Ah! Good-night, Miss Davenport. Good-bye again, Mrs. Farrant
... a charming week-end.

      _He makes a business-like departure_, FARRANT _follows him._

THE FOOTMAN. A telephone message from Dr. Wedgecroft, ma'am. His thanks;
they stopped the express for him at Hitchin and he has reached London quite
safely.

MRS. FARRANT. Thank you.

      [_The Footman goes out._ MRS. FARRANT _exhales delicately as if the
      air were a little refined by_ BLACKBOROUGH'S _removal._]

MRS. FARRANT. Mr. Blackborough and his patent turbines and his gas engines
and what not are the motive power of our party nowadays, Fanny.

FRANCES TREBELL. Yes, you claim to be steering plutocracy. Do you never
wonder if it isn't steering you?

      MRS. O'CONNELL, _growing restless, has wandered round the room picking
      at the books in their cases._

AMY O'CONNELL. I always like your books, Julia. It's an intellectual
distinction to know someone who has read them.

MRS. FARRANT. That's the Communion I choose.

FRANCES TREBELL. Aristocrat ... fastidious aristocrat.

MRS. FARRANT. No, now. Learning's a great leveller.

FRANCES TREBELL. But Julia ... books are quite unreal. D'you think life is a
bit like them?

MRS. FARRANT. They bring me into touch with ... Oh, there's nothing more
deadening than to be boxed into a set in Society! Speak to a woman outside
it ... she doesn't understand your language.

FRANCES TREBELL. And do you think by prattling Hegel with Gilbert Wedgecroft
when he comes to physic you--

MRS. FARRANT. [_Joyously._] Excellent physic that is. He never leaves a
prescription.

LADY DAVENPORT. Don't you think an aristocracy of brains is the best
aristocracy, Miss Trebell?

FRANCES TREBELL. [_With a little more bitterness than the abstraction of the
subject demands._] I'm sure it is just as out of touch with humanity as any
other ... more so, perhaps. If I were a country I wouldn't be governed by
arid intellects.

MRS. FARRANT. Manners, Frances.

FRANCES TREBELL. I'm one myself and I know. They're either dead or
dangerous.

      GEORGE FARRANT _comes back and goes straight to_ MRS. O'CONNELL.

FARRANT. [_Still robustly._] Billiards, Mrs. O'Connell.

AMY O'CONNELL. [_Declining sweetly._] I think not.

FARRANT. Billiards, Lucy?

LUCY DAVENPORT. [_As robust as he._] Yes, Uncle George. You shall mark while
Walter gives me twenty-five and I beat him.

WALTER KENT. [_With a none-of-your-impudence air._] I'll give you ten yards
start and race you to the billiard room.

LUCY DAVENPORT. Will you wear my skirt? Oh ... Grandmamma's thinking me
vulgar.

LADY DAVENPORT. [_Without prejudice._] Why, my dear, freedom of limb is
worth having ... and perhaps it fits better with freedom of tongue.

FARRANT. [_In the proper avuncular tone._] I'll play you both ... and I'd
race you both if you weren't so disgracefully young.

AMY O'CONNELL _has reached an open window._

AMY O'CONNELL. I shall go for a walk with my neuralgia.

MRS. FARRANT. Poor thing!

AMY O'CONNELL. The moon's good for it.

LUCY DAVENPORT. Shall you come, Aunt Julia?

MRS. FARRANT. [_In flat protest._] No, I will not sit up while you play
billiards.

      MRS. O'CONNELL _goes out through the one window, stands for a moment,
      wistfully romantic, gazing at_ KENT _are standing at the other,
      looking across the lawn._

FARRANT. Horsham still arguing with Maconochie. They're got to Botany now.

WALTER KENT. Demonstrating something with a ... what's that thing?

      WALTER _goes out._

FARRANT. [_With a throw of his head towards the distant_ HORSHAM.] He was so
bored with our politics ... having to give his opinion too. We could just
hear your piano.

      _And he follows_ WALTER.

MRS. FARRANT. Take Amy O'Connell that lace thing, will you, Lucy?

LUCY DAVENPORT. [_Her tone expressing quite wonderfully her sentiments
towards the owner._] Don't you think she'd sooner catch cold?

      _She catches it up and follows the two men; then after looking round
      impatiently, swings off in the direction_ MRS. O'CONNELL _took. The
      three women now left together are at their ease._

FRANCES TREBELL. Did you expect Mr. Blackborough to get on well with Henry?

MRS. FARRANT. He has become a millionaire by appreciating clever men when he
met them.

LADY DAVENPORT. Yes, Julia, but his political conscience is comparatively
new-born.

MRS. FARRANT. Well, Mamma, can we do without Mr. Trebell?

LADY DAVENPORT. Everyone seems to think you'll come back with something of a
majority.

MRS. FARRANT. [_A little impatient._] What's the good of that? The Bill
can't be brought into the Lords ... and who's going to take Disestablishment
through the Commons for us? Not Eustace Fowler ... not Mr. Blackborough ...
not Lord Charles ... not George!

LADY DAVENPORT. [_Warningly._] Not all your brilliance as a hostess will
keep Mr. Trebell in a Tory Cabinet.

MRS. FARRANT. [_With wilful avoidance of the point._] Cyril Horsham is only
too glad.

LADY DAVENPORT. Because you tell him he ought to be.

FRANCES TREBELL. [_Coming to the rescue._] There is this. Henry has never
exactly called himself a Liberal. He really is elected independently.

MRS. FARRANT. I wonder will all the garden-cities become pocket-boroughs.

FRANCES TREBELL. I think he has made a mistake.

MRS. FARRANT. It makes things easier now ... his having kept his freedom.

FRANCES TREBELL. I think it's a mistake to stand outside a system. There's
an inhumanity in that amount of detachment ...

MRS. FARRANT. [_Brilliantly._] I think a statesman may be a little inhuman.

LADY DAVENPORT. [_With keenness._] Do you mean superhuman? It's not the same
thing, you know.

MRS. FARRANT. I know.

LADY DAVENPORT. Most people don't know.

MRS. FARRANT. [_Proceeding with her cynicism._] Humanity achieves ... what?
Housekeeping and children.

FRANCES TREBELL. As far as a woman's concerned.

MRS. FARRANT. [_A little mockingly._] Now, Mamma, say that is as far as a
woman's concerned.

LADY DAVENPORT. My dear, you know I don't think so.

MRS. FARRANT. We may none of us think so. But there's our position ... bread
and butter and a certain satisfaction until ... Oh, Mamma, I wish I were
like you ... beyond all the passions of life.

LADY DAVENPORT. [_With great vitality._] I'm nothing of the sort. It's my
egoism's dead ... that's an intimation of mortality.

MRS. FARRANT. I accept the snub. But I wonder what I'm to do with myself for
the next thirty years.

FRANCES TREBELL. Help Lord Horsham to govern the country.

      JULIA FARRANT _gives a little laugh and takes up the subject this
      time._

MRS. FARRANT. Mamma ... how many people, do you think, believe that Cyril's
_grande passion_ for me takes that form?

LADY DAVENPORT. Everyone who knows Cyril and most people who know you.

MRS. FARRANT. Otherwise I seem to have fulfilled my mission in life. The
boys are old enough to go to school. George and I have become happily
unconscious of each other.

FRANCES TREBELL. [_With sudden energy of mind._] Till I was forty I never
realised the fact that most women must express themselves through men.

MRS. FARRANT. [_Looking at_ FRANCES _a little curiously._] Didn't your
instinct lead you to marry ... or did you fight against it?

FRANCES TREBELL. I don't know. Perhaps I had no vitality to spare.

LADY DAVENPORT. That boy is a long time proposing to Lucy.

      _This effectually startles the other two from their conversational
      reverie._

MRS. FARRANT. Walter? I'm not sure that he means to. She means to marry him
if he does.

FRANCES TREBELL. Has she told you so?

MRS. FARRANT. No. I judge by her business-like interest in his welfare.

FRANCES TREBELL. He's beginning to feel the responsibility of manhood ...
doesn't know whether to be frightened or proud of it.

LADY DAVENPORT. It's a pretty thing to watch young people mating. When
they're older and marry from disappointment or deliberate choice, thinking
themselves so worldly-wise....

MRS. FARRANT, [_Back to her politely cynical mood._] Well ... then at least
they don't develop their differences at the same fire-side, regretting the
happy time when neither possessed any character at all.

LADY DAVENPORT. [_Giving a final douche of common sense._] My dear, any two
reasonable people ought to be able to live together.

FRANCES TREBELL. Granted three sitting rooms. That'll be the next
middle-class political cry ... when women are heard.

MRS. FARRANT. [_Suddenly as practical as her mother._] Walter's lucky ...
Lucy won't stand any nonsense. She'll have him in the Cabinet by the time
he's fifty.

LADY DAVENPORT. And are you the power behind your brother, Miss Trebell?

FRANCES TREBELL. [_Gravely._] He ignores women. I've forced enough good
manners on him to disguise the fact decently. His affections are two
generations ahead.

MRS. FARRANT. People like him in an odd sort of way.

FRANCES TREBELL. That's just respect for work done ... one can't escape from
it.

      _There is a slight pause in their talk. By some not very devious
      route_ MRS. FARRANT'S _mind travels to the next subject._

MRS. FARRANT. Fanny ... how fond are you of Amy O'Connell?

FRANCES TREBELL. She says we're great friends.

MRS. FARRANT. She says that of me.

FRANCES TREBELL. It's a pity about her husband.

MRS. FARRANT. [_Almost provokingly._] What about him?

FRANCES TREBELL. It seems to be understood that he treats her badly.

LADY DAVENPORT. [_A little malicious._] Is there any particular reason he
should treat her well?

FRANCES TREBELL. Don't you like her, Lady Davenport?

LADY DAVENPORT. [_Dealing out justice._] I find her quite charming to look
at and talk to ... but why shouldn't Justin O'Connell live in Ireland for
all that? I'm going to bed, Julia.

      _She collects her belongings and gets up._

MRS. FARRANT. I must look in at the billiard room.

FRANCES TREBELL. I won't come, Julia.

MRS. FARRANT. What's your brother working at?

FRANCES TREBELL. I don't know. Something we shan't hear of for a year,
perhaps.

MRS. FARRANT. On the Church business, I daresay.

FRANCES TREBELL. Did you hear Lord Horsham at dinner on the lack of dignity
in an irreligious state?

MRS. FARRANT. Poor Cyril ... he'll have to find a way round that opinion of
his now.

FRANCES TREBELL. Does he like leading his party?

MRS. FARRANT. [_After due consideration._] It's an intellectual exercise.
He's the right man, Fanny. You see it isn't a party in the active sense at
all, except now and then when it's captured by someone with an axe to grind.

FRANCES TREBELL. [_Humorously._] Such as my brother.

MRS. FARRANT. [_As humorous._] Such as your brother. It expresses the
thought of the men who aren't taken in by the claptrap of progress.

FRANCES TREBELL. Sometimes they've a queer way of expressing their love for
the people of England.

MRS. FARRANT. But one must use democracy. Wellington wouldn't ... Disraeli
did.

LADY DAVENPORT. [_At the door._] Good-night, Miss Trebell.

FRANCES TREBELL. I'm coming ... it's past eleven.

MRS. FARRANT. [_At the window._] What a gorgeous night! I'll come in and
kiss you, Mamma.

      FRANCES _follows_ LADY DAVENPORT _and_ MRS. FARRANT _starts across the
      lawn to the billiard room.... An hour later you can see no change in
      the room except that only one lamp is alight on the table in the
      middle._ AMY O'CONNELL _and_ HENRY TREBELL _walk past one window and
      stay for a moment in the light of the other. Her wrap is about her
      shoulders. He stands looking down at her._

AMY O'CONNELL. There goes the moon ... it's quieter than ever now. [_She
comes in._] Is it very late?

TREBELL. [_As he follows._] Half-past twelve.

      TREBELL _is hard-bitten, brainy, forty-five and very sure of himself.
      He has a cold keen eye, which rather belies a sensitive mouth; hands
      which can grip, and a figure that is austere._

AMY O'CONNELL. I ought to be in bed. I suppose everyone has gone.

TREBELL. Early trains to-morrow. The billiard room lights are out.

AMY O'CONNELL. The walk has just tired me comfortably.

TREBELL. Sit down. [_She sits by the table. He sits by her and says with the
air of a certain buyer at a market._] You're very pretty.

AMY O'CONNELL. As well here as by moonlight? Can't you see any wrinkles?

TREBELL. One or two ... under the eyes. But they give character and bring
you nearer my age. Yes, Nature hit on the right curve in making you.

      _She stretches herself, cat-like._

AMY O'CONNELL. Praise is the greatest of luxuries, isn't it, Henry? ...
Henry ... [_she caresses the name._]

TREBELL. Quite right ... Henry.

AMY O'CONNELL. Henry ... Trebell.

TREBELL. Having formally taken possession of my name....

AMY O'CONNELL. I'll go to bed.

      _His eyes have never moved from her. Now she breaks the contact and
      goes towards the door._

TREBELL. I wouldn't ... my spare time for love making is so limited.

      _She turns back, quite at ease, her eyes challenging him._

AMY O'CONNELL. That's the first offensive thing you've said.

TREBELL. Why offensive?

AMY O'CONNELL. I may flirt. Making love's another matter.

TREBELL. Sit down and explain the difference ... Mrs. O'Connell.

      _She sits down._

AMY O'CONNELL. Quite so. 'Mrs. O'Connell'. That's the difference.

TREBELL. [_Provokingly._] But I doubt if I'm interested in the fact that
your husband doesn't understand you and that your marriage was a mistake ...
and how hard you find it to be strong.

AMY O'CONNELL. [_Kindly._] I'm not quite a fool though you think so on a
three months' acquaintance. But tell me this ... what education besides
marriage does a woman get?

TREBELL. [_His head lifting quickly._] Education....

AMY O'CONNELL. Don't be business-like.

TREBELL. I beg your pardon.

AMY O'CONNELL. Do you think the things you like to have taught in schools
are any use to one when one comes to deal with you?

TREBELL. [_After a little scrutiny of her-face._] Well, if marriage is only
the means to an end ... what's the end? Not flirtation.

AMY O'CONNELL. [_With an air of self-revelation._] I don't know. To keep
one's place in the world, I suppose, one's self-respect and a sense of
humour.

TREBELL. Is that difficult?

AMY O'CONNELL. To get what I want, without paying more than it's worth to
me....?

TREBELL. Never to be reckless.

AMY O'CONNELL. [_With a side-glance._] One isn't so often tempted.

TREBELL. In fact ... to flirt with life generally. Now, what made your
husband marry you?

AMY O'CONNELL. [_Dealing with the impertinence in her own fashion._] What
would make you marry me? Don't say: Nothing on earth.

TREBELL. [_Speaking apparently of someone else._] A prolonged fit of
idleness might make me marry ... a clever woman. But I've never been idle
for more than a week. And I've never met a clever woman ... worth calling a
woman.

AMY O'CONNELL. [_Bringing their talk back to herself, and fastidiously._]
Justin has all the natural instincts.

TREBELL. He's Roman Catholic, isn't he?

AMY O'CONNELL. So am I ... by profession.

TREBELL. It's a poor religion unless you really believe in it.

AMY O'CONNELL. [_Appealing to him._] If I were to live at Linaskea and have
as many children as God sent, I should manage to make Justin pretty
miserable! And what would be left of me at all I should like to know?

TREBELL. So Justin lives at Linaskea alone?

AMY O'CONNELL. I'm told now there's a pretty housemaid ... [_she shrugs._]

TREBELL. Does he drink too?

AMY O'CONNELL. Oh, no. You'd like Justin, I daresay. He's clever. The
thirteenth century's what he knows about. He has done a book on its statutes
... has been doing another.

TREBELL. And after an evening's hard work I find you here ready to flirt
with.

AMY O'CONNELL. What have you been working at?

TREBELL. A twentieth century statute perhaps. That's not any concern of
yours either.

      _She does not follow his thought._

AMY O'CONNELL. No, I prefer you in your unprofessional moments.

TREBELL. Real flattery. I didn't know I had any.

AMY O'CONNELL. That's why you should flirt with me ... Henry ... to
cultivate them. I'm afraid you lack imagination.

TREBELL. One must choose something to lack in this life.

AMY O'CONNELL. Not develop your nature to its utmost capacity.

TREBELL. And then?

AMY O'CONNELL. Well, if that's not an end in itself ... [_With a touch of
romantic piety._] I suppose there's the hereafter.

TREBELL. [_Grimly material._] What, more developing! I watch people wasting
time on themselves with amazement ... I refuse to look forward to wasting
eternity.

AMY O'CONNELL. [_Shaking her head._] You are very self-satisfied.

TREBELL. Not more so than any machine that runs smoothly. And I hope not
self-conscious.

AMY O'CONNELL. [_Rather attractively treating him as a child._] It would do
you good to fall really desperately in love with me ... to give me the power
to make you unhappy.

      _He suddenly becomes very definite._

TREBELL. At twenty-three I engaged myself to be married to a charming and
virtuous fool. I broke it off.

AMY O'CONNELL. Did she mind much?

TREBELL. We both minded. But I had ideals of womanhood that I wouldn't
sacrifice to any human being. Then I fell in with a woman who seduced me,
and for a whole year led me the life of a French novel ... played about
with my emotion as I had tortured that other poor girl's brains. Education
you'd call it in the one case as I called it in the other. What a waste of
time!

AMY O'CONNELL. And what has become of your ideal?

TREBELL. [_Relapsing to his former mood._] It's no longer a personal matter.

AMY O'CONNELL. [_With coquetry._] You're not interested in my character?

TREBELL. Oh, yes, I am ... up to kissing point.

      _She does not shrink, but speaks with just a shade of contempt._

AMY O'CONNELL. You get that far more easily than a woman. That's one of my
grudges against men. Why can't women take love-affairs so lightly?

TREBELL. There are reasons. But make a good beginning with this one. Kiss me
at once.

      _He leans towards her. She considers him quite calmly._

AMY O'CONNELL. No.

TREBELL. When will you, then?

AMY O'CONNELL. When I can't help myself ... if that time ever comes.

TREBELL. [_Accepting the postponement in a business-like spirit._] Well ...
I'm an impatient man.

AMY O'CONNELL. [_Confessing engagingly._] I made up my mind to bring you
within arms' length of me when we'd met at Lady Percival's. Do you remember?
[_His face shows no sign of it._] It was the day after your speech on the
Budget.

TREBELL. Then I remember. But I haven't observed the process.

AMY O'CONNELL. [_Subtly._] Your sister grew to like me very soon. That's all
the cunning there has been.

TREBELL. The rest is just mutual attraction?

AMY O'CONNELL. And opportunities.

TREBELL. Such as this.

      _At the drop of their voices they become conscious of the silent
      house._

AMY O'CONNELL. Do you really think everyone has gone to bed?

TREBELL. [_Disregardful._] And what is it makes my pressing attentions
endurable ... if one may ask?

AMY O'CONNELL. Some spiritual need or other, I suppose, which makes me risk
unhappiness ... in fact, welcome it.

TREBELL. [_With great briskness._] Your present need is a good shaking.... I
seriously mean that. You get to attach importance to these shades of
emotion. A slight physical shock would settle them all. That's why I asked
you to kiss me just now.

AMY O'CONNELL. You haven't very nice ideas, have you?

TREBELL. There are three facts in life that call up emotion ... Birth,
Death, and the Desire for Children. The niceties are shams.

AMY O'CONNELL. Then why do you want to kiss me?

TREBELL. I don't ... seriously. But I shall in a minute just to finish the
argument. Too much diplomacy always ends in a fight.

AMY O'CONNELL. And if I don't fight ... it'd be no fun for you, I suppose?

TREBELL. You would get that much good out of me. For it's my point of honour
... to leave nothing I touch as I find it.

      _He is very close to her._

AMY O'CONNELL. You're frightening me a little ...

TREBELL. Come and look at the stars again. Come along.

AMY O'CONNELL. Give me my wrap ... [_He takes it up, but holds it._] Well,
put it on me. [_He puts it round her, but does not withdraw his arms._] Be
careful, the stars are looking at you.

TREBELL. No, they can't see so far as we can. That's the proper creed.

AMY O'CONNELL. [_Softly, almost shyly._] Henry.

TREBELL. [_Bending closer to her._] Yes, pretty thing.

AMY O'CONNELL. Is this what you call being in love?

      _He looks up and listens._

TREBELL. Here's somebody coming.

AMY O'CONNELL. Oh!...

TREBELL. What does it matter?

AMY O'CONNELL. I'm untidy or something....

      _She slips out, for they are close to the window. The_ FOOTMAN
      _enters, stops suddenly._

THE FOOTMAN. I beg your pardon, sir. I thought everyone had gone.

TREBELL. I've just been for a walk. I'll lock up if you like.

THE FOOTMAN. I can easily wait up, sir.

TREBELL. [_At the window._] I wouldn't. What do you do ... just slide the
bolt?

THE FOOTMAN. That's all, sir.

TREBELL. I see. Good-night.

THE FOOTMAN. Good-night, sir.

      _He goes._ TREBELL'S _demeanour suddenly changes, becomes alert, with
      the alertness of a man doing something in secret. He leans out of the
      window and whispers._

TREBELL. Amy!

      _There is no answer, so he gently steps out. For a moment the room is
      empty and there is silence. Then_ AMY _has flown from him into the
      safety of lights. She is flushed, trembling, but rather ecstatic, and
      her voice has lost all affectation now._

AMY O'CONNELL. Oh ... oh ... you shouldn't have kissed me like that!

      TREBELL _stands in the window-way; a light in his eyes, and speaks low
      but commandingly._

TREBELL. Come here.

      _Instinctively she moves towards him. They speak in whispers._

AMY O'CONNELL. He was locking up.

TREBELL. I've sent him to bed.

AMY O'CONNELL. He won't go.

TREBELL. Never mind him.

AMY O'CONNELL. We're standing full in the light ... anyone could see us.

TREBELL. [_With fierce egotism._] Think of me ... not of anyone else. [_He
draws her from the window; then does not let her go._] May I kiss you again?

AMY O'CONNELL. [_Her eyes closed._] Yes.

      _He kisses her. She stiffens in his arms; then laughs almost joyously,
      and is commonplace._

AMY O'CONNELL. Well ... let me get my breath.

TREBELL. [_Letting her stand free._] Now ... go along.

      _Obediently she turns to the door, but sinks on the nearest chair._

AMY O'CONNELL. In a minute, I'm a little faint. [_He goes to her quickly._]
No, it's nothing.

TREBELL. Come into the air again. [_Then half seriously._] I'll race you
across the lawn.

AMY O'CONNELL. [_Still breathless and a little hysterical._] Thank you!

TREBELL. Shall I carry you?

AMY O'CONNELL. Don't be silly. [_She recovers her self-possession, gets up
and goes to the window, then looks back at him and says very beautifully._]
But the night's beautiful, isn't it?

      _He has her in his arms again, more firmly this time._

TREBELL. Make it so.

AMY O'CONNELL. [_Struggling ... with herself_] Oh, why do you rouse me like
this?

TREBELL. Because I want you.

AMY O'CONNELL. Want me to...?

TREBELL. Want you to ... kiss me just once.

AMY O'CONNELL. [_Yielding._] If I do ... don't let me go mad, will you?

TREBELL. Perhaps. [_He bends over her, her head drops back._] Now.

AMY O'CONNELL. Yes!

      _She kisses him on the mouth. Then he would release her, but suddenly
      she clings again._

Oh ... don't let me go.

TREBELL. [_With fierce pride of possession._] Not yet.

      _She is fragile beside him. He lifts her in his arms and carries her
      out into the darkness._



THE SECOND ACT

TREBELL'S house in Queen Anne Street, London. Eleven o'clock on an October
morning.


TREBELL'S _working room is remarkable chiefly for the love of sunlight it
evidences in its owner. The walls are white; the window which faces you is
bare of all but the necessary curtains. Indeed, lack of draperies testifies
also to his horror of dust. There faces you besides a double door; when it
is opened another door is seen. When that is opened you discover a writing
table, and beyond can discern a book-case filled with heavy volumes--law
reports perhaps. The little room beyond is, so to speak, an under-study.
Between the two rooms a window, again barely curtained, throws light down
the staircase. But in the big room, while the books are many the choice of
them is catholic; and the book-cases are low, running along the wall. There
is an armchair before the bright fire, which is on your right. There is a
sofa. And in the middle of the room is an enormous double writing table
piled tidily with much appropriate impedimenta, blue books and pamphlets and
with an especial heap of unopened letters and parcels. At the table sits_
TREBELL _himself, in good health and spirits, but eyeing askance the work to
which he has evidently just returned. His sister looks in on him. She is
dressed to go out and has a housekeeping air._

FRANCES. Are you busy, Henry?

TREBELL. More or less. Come in.

FRANCES. You'll dine at home?

TREBELL. Anyone coming?

FRANCES. Julia Farrant and Lucy have run up to town, I think. I thought of
going round and asking them to come in ... but perhaps your young man will
be going there. Amy O'Connell said something vague about our going to
Charles Street ... but she may be out of town by now.

TREBELL. Well ... I'll be in anyhow.

FRANCES. [_Going to the window as she buttons her gloves._] Were you on deck
early this morning? It must have been lovely.

TREBELL. No, I turned in before we got out of le Havre. I left Kent on deck
and found him there at six.

FRANCES. I don't think autumn means to come at all this year ... it'll be
winter one morning. September has been like a hive of bees, busy and drowsy.
By the way, Cousin Mary has another baby ... a girl.

TREBELL. [_Indifferent to the information._] That's the fourth.

FRANCES. Fifth. They asked me down for the christening ... but I really
couldn't.

TREBELL. September's the month for Tuscany. The car chose to break down one
morning just as we were starting North again; so we climbed one of the
little hills and sat for a couple of hours, while I composed a fifteenth
century electioneering speech to the citizens of Siena.

FRANCES. [_With a half smile._] Have you a vein of romance for holiday time?

TREBELL. [_Dispersing the suggestion._] Not at all romantic ... nothing but
figures and fiscal questions. That was the hardest commercial civilisation
there has been, though you only think of its art and its murders now.

FRANCES. The papers on both sides have been very full of you ... saying you
hold the moral balance ... or denying it.

TREBELL. An interviewer caught me at Basle. I offered to discuss the state
of the Swiss navy.

FRANCES. Was that before Lord Horsham wrote to you?

TREBELL. Yes, his letter came to Innsbruck. He "expressed" it somehow. Why
... it isn't known that he will definitely ask me to join?

FRANCES. The Whitehall had a leader before the Elections were well over to
say that he must ... but, of course, that was Mr. Farrant.

TREBELL. [_Knowingly._] Mrs. Farrant. I saw it in Paris ... it just caught
me up.

FRANCES. The Times is very shy over the whole question ... has a letter from
a fresh bishop every day ... doesn't talk of you very kindly yet.

TREBELL. Tampering with the Establishment, even Cantelupe's way, will be a
pill to the real old Tory right to the bitter end.

      WALTER KENT _comes in, very fresh and happy-looking. A young man
      started in life._ TREBELL _hails him._

TREBELL. Hullo ... you've not been long getting shaved.

KENT. How do you do, Miss Trebell? Lucy turned me out.

FRANCES. My congratulations. I've not seen you since I heard the news.

KENT. [_Glad and unembarrassed._] Thank you. I do deserve them, don't I?
Mrs. Farrant didn't come down ... she left us to breakfast together. But
I've a message for you ... her love and she is in town. I went and saw Lord
Charles, sir. He will come to you and be here at half past seven.

TREBELL. Look at these.

      _He smacks on the back, so to speak, the pile of parcels and letters._

KENT. Oh, lord! ... I'd better start on them.

FRANCES. [_Continuing in her smooth oldmaidish manner._] Thank you for
getting engaged just before you went off with Henry ... it has given me my
only news of him, through Lucy and your postcards.

TREBELL. Oh, what about Wedgecroft?

KENT. I think it was he spun up just as I'd been let in.

TREBELL. Oh, well ... [_And he rings at the telephone which is on his
table._]

KENT. [_Confiding in_ MISS TREBELL.] We're a common sense couple, aren't we?
I offered to ask to stay behind but she....

      SIMPSON, _the maid, comes in._

SIMPSON. Dr. Wedgecroft, sir.

      WEDGECROFT _is on her heels. If you have an eye for essentials you may
      tell at once that he is a doctor, but if you only notice externals you
      will take him, for anything else. He is over forty and in perfect
      health of body and spirit. His enthusiasms are his vitality and he has
      too many of them ever to lose one. He squeezes_ MISS TREBELL'S _hand
      with an air of fearless affection which is another of his
      characteristics and not the least loveable._

WEDGECROFT. How are you?

FRANCES. I'm very well, thanks.

WEDGECROFT. [_To_ TREBELL, _as they shake hands._] You're looking fit.

TREBELL. [_With tremendous emphasis._] I am!

WEDGECROFT. You've got the motor eye though.

TREBELL. Full of dust?

WEDGECROFT. Look at Kent's. [_He takes_ WALTER'S _arm._] It's a slight but
serious contraction of the pupil ... which I charge fifty guineas to cure.

FRANCES. It's the eye of faith in you and your homeopathic doses. Don't you
interfere with it.

      FRANCES TREBELL, _housekeeper, goes out._ KENT _has seized on the
      letters and is carrying them to his room._

KENT. This looks like popularity and the great heart of the people, doesn't
it?

WEDGECROFT. Trebell, you're not ill, and I've work to do.

TREBELL. I want ten minutes. Keep anybody out, Kent.

KENT. I'll switch that speaking tube arrangement to my room.

      TREBELL, _overflowing with vitality, starts to face the floor._

TREBELL. I've seen the last of Pump Court, Gilbert.

WEDGECROFT. The Bar ought to give you a testimonial ... to the man who not
only could retire on twenty years' briefs, but has.

TREBELL. Fifteen. But I bled the City sharks with a good conscience ...
quite freely.

WEDGECROFT. [_With a pretence at grumbling._] I wish I could retire.

TREBELL. No you don't. Doctoring's a priestcraft ... you've taken vows.

WEDGECROFT. Then why don't you establish _our_ church instead of ...

TREBELL. Yes, my friend ... but you're a heretic. I'd have to give the
Medical Council power to burn you at the stake.

KENT. [_With the book packages._] Parcel from the S.P.C.K., sir.

TREBELL. I know.... Disestablishment a crime against God; sermon preached by
the Vicar of something Parva in eighteen seventy three. I hope you're aware
it's your duty to read all those.

KENT. Suppose they convert me? Lucy wanted to know if she could see you.

TREBELL. [_His eyebrows up._] Yes, I'll call at Mrs. Farrant's. Oh, wait.
Aren't they coming to dinner?

KENT. To-night? No, I think they go back to Shapters by the five o'clock. I
told her she might come round about twelve on the chance.

TREBELL. Yes ... if Cantelupe's punctual ... I'd sooner not have too long
with him.

KENT. All right, then.

      _He goes, shutting the door; then you hear the door of his room shut
      too. The two friends face each other, glad of a talk._

TREBELL. Well?

WEDGECROFT. Well ... you'll never do it.

TREBELL. Yes, I shall.

WEDGECROFT. You can't carry any bill to be a credit to you with the coming
Tory cabinet on your back. You know the Government is cursing you with its
dying breath.

TREBELL. [_Rubbing his hands._] Of course. They've been beaten out of the
House and in now. I suppose they will meet Parliament.

WEDGECROFT. They must, I think. It's over a month since--

TREBELL. [_His thoughts running quickly._] There'll only be a nominal
majority of sixteen against them. The Labour lot are committed on their side
... and now that the Irish have gone--

WEDGECROFT. But they'll be beaten on the Address first go.

TREBELL. Yes ... Horsham hasn't any doubt of it.

WEDGECROFT. He'll be in office within a week of the King's speech.

TREBELL. [_With another access of energy._] I'll pull the bill that's in my
head through a Horsham cabinet and the House. Then I'll leave them ...
they'll go to the country--

WEDGECROFT. You know Percival's pledge about that at Bristol wasn't very
definite.

TREBELL. Horsham means to.

WEDGECROFT. [_With friendly contempt._] Oh, Horsham!

TREBELL. Anyway, it's about Percival I want you. How ill is he?

WEDGECROFT. Not very.

TREBELL. Is he going to die?

WEDGECROFT. Well, I'm attending him.

TREBELL. [_Pinked._] Yes ... that's a good answer. How does he stomach me in
prospect as a colleague, so far?

WEDGECROFT. Sir, professional etiquette forbids me to disclose what a
patient may confess in the sweat of his agony.

TREBELL. He'll be Chancellor again and lead the House.

WEDGECROFT. Why not? He only grumbles that he's getting old.

TREBELL. [_Thinking busily again._] The difficulty is I shall have to stay
through one budget with them. He'll have a surplus ... well, it looks like
it ... and my only way of agreeing with him will be to collar it.

WEDGECROFT. But ... good heavens! ... you'll have a hundred million or so to
give away when you've disendowed.

TREBELL. Not to give away. I'll sell every penny.

WEDGECROFT. [_With an incredulous grin._] You're not going back to extending
old-age pensions after turning the unfortunate Liberals out on it, are you?

TREBELL. No, no ... none of your half crown measures. They can wait to round
off their solution of that till they've the courage to make one big bite of
it.

WEDGECROFT. We shan't see the day.

TREBELL. [_Lifting the subject off its feet._] Not if I come out of the
cabinet and preach revolution?

WEDGECROFT. Or will they make a Tory of you?

TREBELL. [_Acknowledging that stroke with a return grin._] It'll be said
they have when the bill is out.

WEDGECROFT. It's said so already.

TREBELL. Who knows a radical bill when he sees it!

WEDGECROFT. I'm not pleased you have to be running a tilt against the party
system. [_He becomes a little dubious._] My friend ... it's a nasty
windmill. Oh, you've not seen that article in the Nation on Politics and
Society ... it's written at Mrs. Farrant and Lady Lurgashall and that set.
They hint that the Tories would never have had you if it hadn't been for
this bad habit of opposite party men meeting each other.

TREBELL. [_Unimpressed._] Excellent habit! What we really want in this
country is a coalition of all the shibboleths with the rest of us in
opposition ... for five years only.

WEDGECROFT. [_Smiling generously._] Well, it's a sensation to see you become
arbiter. The Tories are owning they can't do without you. Percival likes you
personally ... Townsend don't matter ... Cantelupe you buy with a price, I
suppose ... Farrant you can put in your pocket. I tell you I think the man
you may run up against is Blackborough.

TREBELL. No, all he wants is to be let look big ... and to have an idea
given him when he's going to make a speech, which isn't often.

WEDGECROFT. Otherwise ... I suppose ... now I may go down to history as
having been in your confidence. I'm very glad you've arrived.

TREBELL. [_With great seriousness._] I've sharpened myself as a weapon to
this purpose.

WEDGECROFT. [_Kindly._] And you're sure of yourself, aren't you?

TREBELL. [_Turning his wrist._] Try.

WEDGECROFT. [_Slipping his doctor's fingers over the the pulse._] Seventy, I
should say.

TREBELL. I promise you it hasn't varied a beat these three big months.

WEDGECROFT. Well, I wish it had. Perfect balance is most easily lost. How do
you know you've the power of recovery? ... and it's that gets one up in the
morning day by day.

TREBELL. Is it? My brain works steadily on ... hasn't failed me yet. I keep
it well fed. [_He breathes deeply._] But I'm not sure one shouldn't have
been away from England for five years instead of five weeks ... to come back
to a job like this with a fresh mind. D'you know why really I went back on
the Liberals over this question? Not because they wanted the church money
for their pensions ... but because all they can see in Disestablishment is
destruction. Any fool can destroy! I'm not going to let a power like the
Church get loose from the State. A thirteen hundred years, tradition of
service ... and all they can think of is to cut it adrift!

WEDGECROFT. I think the Church is moribund.

TREBELL. Oh, yes, of course you do ... you sentimental agnostic anarchist.
Nonsense! The supernatural's a bit blown upon ... till we re-discover what
it means. But it's not essential. Nor is the Christian doctrine. Put a
Jesuit in a corner and shut the door and he'll own that. No ... the
tradition of self-sacrifice and fellowship in service for its own sake ...
that's the spirit we've to capture and keep.

WEDGECROFT. [_Really struck._] A secular Church!

TREBELL. [_With reasoning in his tone._] Well ... why not? Listen here. In
drafting an act of Parliament one must alternately imagine oneself God
Almighty and the most ignorant prejudiced little blighter who will be
affected by what's passed. God says: Let's have done with Heaven and Hell
... it's the Earth that shan't pass away. Why not turn all those theology
mongers into doctors or schoolmasters?

WEDGECROFT. As to doctors--

TREBELL. Quite so, you naturally prejudiced blighter. That priestcraft don't
need re-inforcing.

WEDGECROFT. It needs recognition.

TREBELL. What! It's the only thing most people believe in. Talk about
superstition! However, there's more life in you. Therefore it's to be
schoolmasters.

WEDGECROFT. How?

TREBELL. Listen again, young man. In the youth of the world, when priests
were the teachers of men....

WEDGECROFT. [_Not to be preached at._] And physicians of men.

TREBELL. Shut up.

WEDGECROFT. If there's any real reform going, I want my profession made into
a state department. I won't shut up for less.

TREBELL. [_Putting this aside with one finger._] I'll deal with you later.
There's still Youth in the world in another sense; but the priests haven't
found out the difference yet, so they're wasting most of their time.

WEDGECROFT. Religious education won't do now-a-days.

TREBELL. What's Now-a-days? You're very dull, Gilbert.

WEDGECROFT. I'm not duller than the people who will have to understand your
scheme.

TREBELL. They won't understand it. I shan't explain to them that education
_is_ religion, and that those who deal in it are priests without any laying
on of hands.

WEDGECROFT. No matter what they teach?

TREBELL. No ... the matter is how they teach it. I see schools in the
future, Gilbert, not built next to the church, but on the site of the
church.

WEDGECROFT. Do you think the world is grown up enough to do without dogma?

TREBELL. Yes, I do.

WEDGECROFT. What!... and am I to write my prescriptions in English?

TREBELL. Yes, you are.

WEDGECROFT. Lord save us! I never thought to find you a visionary.

TREBELL. Isn't it absurd to think that in a hundred years we shall be giving
our best brains and the price of them not to training grown men into the
discipline of destruction ... not even to curing the ills which we might be
preventing ... but to teaching our children. There's nothing else to be done
... nothing else matters. But it's work for a priesthood.

WEDGECROFT. [_Affected; not quite convinced._] Do you think you can buy a
tradition and transmute it?

TREBELL. Don't mock at money.

WEDGECROFT. I never have.

TREBELL. But you speak of it as an end not as a means. That's unfair.

WEDGECROFT. I speaks as I finds.

TREBELL. I'll buy the Church, not with money, but with the promise of new
life. [_A certain rather gleeful cunning comes over him._] It'll only look
like a dose of reaction at first ... Sectarian Training Colleges endowed to
the hilt.

WEDGECROFT. What'll the Nonconformists say?

TREBELL. Bribe them with the means of equal efficiency. The crux of the
whole matter will be in the statutes. I'll force on those colleges.

WEDGECROFT. They'll want dogma.

TREBELL. Dogma's not a bad thing if you've power to adapt it occasionally.

WEDGECROFT. Instead of spending your brains in explaining it. Yes, I agree.

TREBELL. [_With full voice._] But in the creed I'll lay down as unalterable
there shall be neither Jew nor Greek.... What do you think of St. Paul,
Gilbert?

WEDGECROFT. I'd make him the head of a college.

TREBELL. I'll make the Devil himself head of a college, if he'll undertake
to teach honestly all he knows.

WEDGECROFT. And he'll conjure up Comte and Robespierre for you to assist in
this little _rechauffée_ of their schemes.

TREBELL. Hullo! Comte I knew about. Have I stolen from Robespierre too?

WEDGECROFT. [_Giving out the epigram with an air._] Property to him who can
make the best use of it.

TREBELL. And then what we must do is to give the children power over their
teachers?

      _Now he is comically enigmatic._ WEDGECROFT _echoes him._

WEDGECROFT. And what exactly do you mean by that?

TREBELL. [_Serious again._] How positive a pedagogue would you be if you had
to prove your cases and justify your creed every century or so to the pupils
who had learnt just a little more than you could teach them? Give power to
the future, my friend ... not to the past. Give responsibility ... even if
you give it for your own discredit. What's beneath trust deeds and last
wills and testaments, and even acts of Parliament and official creeds? Fear
of the verdict of the next generation ... fear of looking foolish in their
eyes. Ah, we ... doing our best now ... must be ready for every sort of
death. And to provide the means of change and disregard of the past is a
secret of statesmanship. Presume that the world will come to an end every
thirty years if it's not reconstructed. Therefore give responsibility ...
give responsibility ... give the children power.

WEDGECROFT. [_Disposed to whistle._] Those statutes will want some framing.

TREBELL. [_Relapsing to a chuckle._] There's an incidental change to
foresee. Disappearance of the parson into the schoolmaster ... and the
Archdeacon into the Inspector ... and the Bishop into--I rather hope he'll
stick to his mitre, Gilbert.

WEDGECROFT. Some Ruskin will arise and make him.

TREBELL. [_As he paces the room and the walls of it fade away to him._] What
a church could be made of the best brains in England, sworn only to learn
all they could teach what they knew without fear of the future or favour to
the past ... sworn upon their honour as seekers after truth, knowingly to
tell no child a lie. It will come.

WEDGECROFT. A priesthood of women too? There's the tradition of service with
them.

TREBELL. [_With the sourest look yet on his face._] Slavery ... not quite
the same thing. And the paradox of such slavery is that they're your only
tyrants.

      [_At this moment the bell of the telephone upon the table rings. He
      goes to it talking the while._]

One has to be very optimistic not to advocate the harem. That's simple and
wholesome.... Yes?

      KENT _comes in._

KENT. Does it work?

TREBELL. [_Slamming down the receiver._] You and your new toy! What is it?

KENT. I'm not sure about the plugs of it ... I thought I'd got them wrong.
Mrs. O'Connell has come to see Miss Trebell, who is out, and she says will
we ask you if any message has been left for her.

TREBELL. No. Oh, about dinner? Well, she's round at Mrs. Farrant's.

KENT. I'll ring them up.

      _He goes back into his room to do so leaving_ TREBELL'S _door open.
      The two continue their talk._

TREBELL. My difficulties will be with Percival.

WEDGECROFT. Not over the Church.

TREBELL. You see I must discover how keen he'd be on settling the Education
quarrel, once and for all ... what there is left of it.

WEDGECROFT. He's not sectarian.

TREBELL. It'll cost him his surplus. When'll he be up and about?

WEDGECROFT. Not for a week or more.

TREBELL. [_Knitting his brow._] And I've to deal with Cantelupe. Curious
beggar, Gilbert.

WEDGECROFT. Not my sort. He'll want some dealing with over your bill as
introduced to me.

TREBELL. I've not cross-examined company promoters for ten years without
learning how to do business with a professional high churchman.

WEDGECROFT. Providence limited ... eh?

      _They are interrupted by_ MRS. O'CONNELL'S _appearance in the doorway.
      She is rather pale, very calm; but there is pain in her eyes and her
      voice is unnaturally steady._

AMY. Your maid told me to come up and I'm interrupting business.... I
thought she was wrong.

TREBELL. [_With no trace of self-consciousness._] Well ... how are you,
after this long time?

AMY. How do you do? [_Then she sees_ WEDGECROFT _and has to control a
shrinking from him._] Oh!

WEDGECROFT. How are you, Mrs. O'Connell?

TREBELL. Kent is telephoning to Frances. He knows where she is.

AMY. How are you, Dr. Wedgecroft? [_then to_ TREBELL.] Did you have a good
holiday? London pulls one to pieces wretchedly. I shall give up living here
at all.

WEDGECROFT. You look very well.

AMY. Do I!

TREBELL. A very good holiday. Sit down ... he won't be a minute.

      _She sits on the nearest chair._

AMY. You're not ill ... interviewing a doctor?

TREBELL. The one thing Wedgecroft's no good at is doctoring. He keeps me
well by sheer moral suasion.

      KENT _comes out of his room and is off downstairs._

      TREBELL _calls to him._

TREBELL. Mrs. O'Connell's here.

KENT. Oh! [_He comes back and into the room._] Miss Trebell hasn't got there
yet.

      WEDGECROFT _has suddenly looked at his watch._

WEDGECROFT. I must fly. Good bye, Mrs. O'Connell.

AMY. [_Putting her hand, constrained by its glove, into his open hand._] I
am always a little afraid of you.

WEDGECROFT. That isn't the feeling a doctor wants to inspire.

KENT. [_To_ TREBELL.] David Evans--

TREBELL. Evans?

KENT. The reverend one ... is downstairs and wants to see you.

WEDGECROFT. [_As he comes to them._] Hampstead Road Tabernacle ... Oh, the
mammon of righteousness!

TREBELL. Shut up! How long have I before Lord Charles--?

KENT. Only ten minutes.

      MRS. O'CONNELL _goes to sit at the big table, and apparently idly
      takes a sheet of paper to scribble on._

TREBELL. [_Half thinking, half questioning._] He's a man I can say nothing
to politely.

WEDGECROFT. I'm off to Percival's now. Then I've another case and I'm due
back at twelve. If there's anything helpful to say I'll look in again for
two minutes ... not more.

TREBELL. You're a good man.

WEDGECROFT. [_As he goes._] Congratulations, Kent.

KENT. [_Taking him to the stairs._] Thank you very much.

AMY. [_Beckoning with her eyes._] What's this, Mr. Trebell?

TREBELL. Eh? I beg your pardon.

      _He goes behind her and reads over her shoulder what she has written._
      KENT _comes back._

KENT. Shall I bring him up here?

      TREBELL _looks up and for a moment stares at his secretary rather
      sharply, then speaks in a matter-of-fact voice._

TREBELL. See him yourself, downstairs. Talk to him for five minutes ... find
out what he wants. Tell him it will be as well for the next week or two if
he can say he hasn't seen me.

KENT. Yes.

      _He goes._ TREBELL _follows him to the door which he shuts. Then he
      turns to face_ AMY, _who is tearing up the paper she wrote on._

TREBELL. What is it?

AMY. [_Her steady voice breaking, her carefully calculated control giving
way._] Oh Henry ... Henry!

TREBELL. Are you in trouble?

AMY. You'll hate me, but ... oh, it's brutal of you to have been away so
long.

TREBELL. Is it with your husband?

AMY. Perhaps. Oh, come nearer to me ... do.

TREBELL. [_Coming nearer without haste or excitement._] Well? [_Her eyes are
closed._] My dear girl, I'm too busy for love-making now. If there are any
facts to be faced, let me have them ... quite quickly.

      _She looks up at him for a moment; then speaks swiftly and sharply as
      one speaks of disaster._

AMY. There's a danger of my having a child ... your child ... some time in
April. That's all.

TREBELL. [_A sceptic who has seen a vision._] Oh ... it's impossible.

AMY. [_Flashing at him, revengefully._] Why?

TREBELL. [_Brought to his mundane self_] Well ... are you sure?

AMY. [_In sudden agony._] D'you think I want it to be true? D'you think I--?
You don't know what it is to have a thing happening in spite of you.

TREBELL. [_His face set in thought._] Where have you been since we met?

AMY. Not to Ireland ... I haven't seen Justin for a year.

TREBELL. All the easier for you not to see him for another year.

AMY. That wasn't what you meant.

TREBELL. It wasn't ... but never mind.

      _They are silent for a moment ... miles apart ... Then she speaks
      dully._

AMY. We do hate each other ... don't we!

TREBELL. Nonsense. Let's think of what matters.

AMY. [_Aimlessly._] I went to a man at Dover ... picked him out of the
directory ... didn't give my own name ... pretended I was off abroad. He was
a kind old thing ... said it was all most satisfactory. Oh, my God!

TREBELL. [_He goes to bend over her kindly._] Yes, you've had a torturing
month or two. That's been wrong, I'm sorry.

AMY. Even now I have to keep telling myself that it's so ... otherwise I
couldn't understand it. Any more than one really believes one will ever die
... one doesn't believe that, you know.

TREBELL. [_On the edge of a sensation that is new to him._] I am told that a
man begins to feel unimportant from this moment forward. Perhaps it's true.

AMY. What has it to do with you anyhow? We don't belong to each other. How
long were we together that night? Half an hour! You didn't seem to care a
bit until after you'd kissed me and ... this is an absurd consequence.

TREBELL. Nature's a tyrant.

AMY. Oh, it's my punishment ... I see that well enough ... for thinking
myself so clever ... forgetting my duty and religion ... not going to
confession, I mean. [_Then hysterically._] God can make you believe in Him
when he likes, can't he?

TREBELL. [_With comfortable strength._] My dear girl, this needs your pluck.
[_And he sits by her._] All we have to do is to prevent it being found out.

AMY. Yes ... the scandal would smash you, wouldn't it?

TREBELL. There isn't going to be any scandal.

AMY. No ... if we're careful. You'll tell me what to do, won't you? Oh, it's
a relief to be able to talk about it.

TREBELL. For one thing, you must take care of yourself and stop worrying.

      _It soothes her to feel that he is concerned; but it is not enough to
      be soothed._

AMY. Yes, I wouldn't like to have been the means of smashing you, Henry ...
especially as you don't care for me.

TREBELL. I intend to care for you.

AMY. Love me, I mean. I wish you did ... a little; then perhaps I shouldn't
feel so degraded.

TREBELL. [_A shade impatiently, a shade contemptuously_] I can say I love
you if that'll make things easier.

AMY. [_More helpless than ever._] If you'd said it at first I should be
taking it for granted ... though it wouldn't be any more true, I daresay,
than now ... when I should know you weren't telling the truth.

TREBELL. Then I'd do without so much confusion.

AMY. Don't be so heartless.

TREBELL. [_As he leaves her._] We seem to be attaching importance to such
different things.

AMY. [_Shrill even at a momentary desertion._] What do you mean? I want
affection now just as I want food. I can't do without it ... I can't reason
things out as you can. D'you think I haven't tried? [_Then in sudden
rebellion._] Oh, the physical curse of being a woman ... no better than any
savage in this condition ... worse off than an animal. It's unfair.

TREBELL. Never mind ... you're here now to hand me half the responsibility,
aren't you?

AMY. As if I could! If I have to lie through the night simply shaking with
bodily fear much longer ... I believe I shall go mad.

      _This aspect of the matter is meaningless to him. He returns to the
      practical issue._

TREBELL. There's nobody that need be suspecting, is there?

AMY. My maid sees I'm ill and worried and makes remarks ... only to me so
far. Don't I look a wreck? I nearly ran away when I saw Dr. Wedgecroft ...
some of these men are so clever.

TREBELL. [_Calculating._] Someone will have to be trusted.

AMY. [_Burrowing into her little tortured self again._] And I ought to feel
as if I had done Justin a great wrong ... but I don't. I hate you now; now
and then. I was being myself. You've brought me down. I feel worthless.

      _The last word strikes him. He stares at her._

TREBELL. Do you?

AMY. [_Pleadingly._] There's only one thing I'd like you to tell me, Henry
... it isn't much. That night we were together ... it was for a moment
different to everything that has ever been in your life before, wasn't it?

TREBELL. [_Collecting himself as if to explain to a child._] I must make you
understand ... I must get you to realise that for a little time to come
you're above the law ... above even the shortcomings and contradictions of a
man's affection.

AMY. But let us have one beautiful memory to share.

TREBELL. [_Determined she shall face the cold logic of her position._]
Listen. I look back on that night as one looks back on a fit of drunkenness.

AMY. [_Neither understanding nor wishing to; only shocked and hurt._] You
beast.

TREBELL. [_With bitter sarcasm._] No, don't say that. Won't it comfort you
to think of drunkenness as a beautiful thing? There are precedents enough
... classic ones.

AMY. You mean I might have been any other woman.

TREBELL. [_Quite inexorable._] Wouldn't any other woman have served the
purpose ... and is it less of a purpose because we didn't know we had it?
Does my unworthiness then ... if you like to call it so ... make you
unworthy now? I must make you see that it doesn't.

AMY. [_Petulantly hammering at her idée fixe._] But you didn't love me ...
and you don't love me.

TREBELL. [_Keeping his patience._] No ... only within the last five minutes
have I really taken the smallest interest in you. And now I believe I'm half
jealous. Can you understand that? You've been talking a lot of nonsense
about your emotions and your immortal soul. Don't you see it's only now that
you've become a person of some importance to the world ... and why?

AMY. [_Losing her patience, childishly._] What do you mean by the World? You
don't seem to have any personal feelings at all. It's horrible you should
have thought of me like that. There has been no other man than you that I
would have let come anywhere near me ... not for more than a year.

      _He realises that she will never understand._

TREBELL. My dear girl, I'm sorry to be brutal. Does it matter so much to you
that I should have wished to be the father of your child?

AMY. [_Ungracious but pacified by his change of tone._] It doesn't matter
now.

TREBELL. [_Friendly still._] On principle I don't make promises. But I think
I can promise you that if you keep your head and will keep your health, this
shall all be made as easy for you as if everyone could know. And let's
think what the child may mean to you ... just the fact of his birth. Nothing
to me, of course! Perhaps that accounts for the touch of jealousy. I've
forfeited my rights because I hadn't honourable intentions. You can't
forfeit yours. Even if you never see him and he has to grow up among
strangers ... just to have had a child must make a difference to you. Of
course, it may be a girl. I wonder.

      _As he wanders on so optimistically she stares at him and her face
      changes. She realises...._

AMY. Do you expect me to go through with this? Henry! ... I'd sooner kill
myself.

      _There is silence between them. He looks at her as one looks at some
      unnatural thing. Then after a moment he speaks, very coldly._

TREBELL. Oh ... indeed. Don't get foolish ideas into your head. You've no
choice now ... no reasonable choice.

AMY. [_Driven to bay; her last friend an enemy._] I won't go through with
it.

TREBELL. It hasn't been so much the fear of scandal then--

AMY. That wouldn't break my heart. You'd marry me, wouldn't you? We could go
away somewhere. I could be very fond of you, Henry.

TREBELL. [_Marvelling at these tangents._] Marry you! I should murder you in
a week.

      _This sounds only brutal to her; she lets herself be shamed._

AMY. You've no more use for me than the use you've made of me.

TREBELL. [_Logical again._] Won't you realise that there's a third party to
our discussion ... that I'm of no importance beside him and you of very
little. Think of the child.

      AMY _blazes into desperate rebellion._

AMY. There's no child because I haven't chosen there shall be and there
shan't be because I don't choose. You'd have me first your plaything and
then Nature's, would you?

TREBELL. [_A little abashed._] Come now, you knew what you were about.

AMY. [_Thinking of those moments._] Did I? I found myself wanting you,
belonging to you suddenly. I didn't stop to think and explain. But are we
never to be happy and irresponsible ... never for a moment?

TREBELL. Well ... one can't pick and choose consequences.

AMY. Your choices in life have made you what you want to be, haven't they?
Leave me mine.

TREBELL. But it's too late to argue like that.

AMY. If it is, I'd better jump into the Thames. I've thought of it.

      _He considers how best to make a last effort to bring her to her
      senses. He sits by her._

TREBELL. Amy ... if you were my wife--

AMY. [_Unresponsive to him now._] I was Justin's wife, and I went away from
him sooner than bear him children. Had I the right to choose or had I not?

TREBELL. [_Taking another path._] Shall I tell you something I believe? If
we were left to choose, we should stand for ever deciding whether to start
with the right foot or the left. We blunder into the best things in life.
Then comes the test ... have we faith enough to go on ... to go through with
the unknown thing?

AMY. [_So bored by these metaphysics._] Faith in what?

TREBELL. Our vitality. I don't give a fig for beauty, happiness, or brains.
All I ask of myself is ... can I pay Fate on demand?

AMY. Yes ... in imagination. But I've got physical facts to face.

      _But he has her attention now and pursues the advantage._

TREBELL. Very well then ... let the meaning of them go. Look forward simply
to a troublesome illness. In a little while you can go abroad quietly and
wait patiently. We're not fools and we needn't find fools to trust in. Then
come back to England....

AMY. And forget. That seems simple enough, doesn't it?

TREBELL. If you don't want the child let it be mine ... not yours.

AMY. [_Wondering suddenly at this bond between them._] Yours! What would you
do with it?

TREBELL. [_Matter-of-fact._] Provide for it, of course.

AMY. Never see it, perhaps.

TREBELL. Perhaps not. If there were anything to be gained ... for the child.
I'll see that he has his chance as a human being.

AMY. How hopeful! [_Now her voice drops. She is looking back, perhaps at a
past self._] If you loved me ... perhaps I might learn to love the thought
of your child.

TREBELL. [_As if half his life depended on her answer._] Is that true?

AMY. [_Irritably._] Why are you picking me to pieces? I think that is true.
If you had been loving me for a long, long time--[_The agony rushes back on
her._] But now I'm only afraid. You might have some pity for me ... I'm so
afraid.

TREBELL. [_Touched._] Indeed ... indeed, I'll take what share of this I can.

      _She shrinks from him unforgivingly._

AMY. No, let me alone. I'm nothing to you. I'm a sick beast in danger of my
life, that's all ... cancerous!

      _He is roused for the first time, roused to horror and protest._

TREBELL. Oh, you unhappy woman! ... if life is like death to you....

AMY. [_Turning on him._] Don't lecture me! If you're so clever put a stop
to this horror. Or you might at least say you're sorry.

TREBELL. Sorry! [_The bell on the table rings jarringly._] Cantelupe!

      _He goes to the telephone. She gets up cold and collected, steadied
      merely by the unexpected sound._

AMY. I mustn't keep you from governing the country. I'm sure you'll do it
very well.

TREBELL. [_At the telephone._] Yes, bring him up, of course ... isn't Mr.
Kent there? [_then to her._] I may be ten minutes with him or half an hour.
Wait and we'll come to a conclusion.

KENT _comes in, an open letter in his hand._

KENT. This note, sir. Had I better go round myself and see him?

TREBELL. [_As he takes the note._] Cantelupe's come.

KENT. [_Glancing at the telephone._] Oh, has he!

TREBELL. [_As he reads._] Yes I think you had.

KENT. Evans was very serious.

      _He goes back into his room._ AMY _moves swiftly to where_ TREBELL _is
      standing and whispers._

AMY. Won't you tell me whom to go to?

TREBELL. No.

AMY. Oh, really ... what unpractical sentimental children you men are! You
and your consciences ... you and your laws. You drive us to distraction and
sometimes to death by your stupidities. Poor women--!

      _The Maid comes in to announce_ LORD CHARLES CANTELUPE, _who follows
      her._ CANTELUPE _is forty, unathletic, and a gentleman in the best and
      worst sense of the word. He moves always with a caution which may
      betray his belief in the personality of the Devil. He speaks
      cautiously too, and as if not he but something inside him were
      speaking. One feels that before strangers he would not if he could
      help it move or speak at all. A pale face: the mouth would be
      hardened by fanaticism were it not for the elements of Christianity in
      his religion: and he has the limpid eye of the enthusiast._

TREBELL. Glad to see you. You know Mrs O'Connell.

      CANTELUPE _bows in silence._

AMY. We have met.

      _She offers her hand. He silently takes it and drops it._

TREBELL. Then you'll wait for Frances.

AMY. Is it worth while?

      KENT _with his hat on leaves his room and goes downstairs._

TREBELL. Have you anything better to do?

AMY. There's somewhere I can go. But I mustn't keep you chatting of my
affairs. Lord Charles is impatient to disestablish the Church.

CANTELUPE. [_Unable to escape a remark._] Forgive me, since that is also
your affair.

AMY. Oh ... but I was received at the Oratory when I was married.

CANTELUPE. [_With contrition._] I beg your pardon.

      _Then he makes for the other side of the room_, TREBELL _and_ MRS.
      O'CONNELL _stroll to the door, their eyes full of meaning._

AMY. I think I'll go on to this place that I've heard of. If I wait ... for
your sister ... she may disappoint me again.

TREBELL. Wait.

      KENT'S _room is vacant._

AMY. Well ... in here?

TREBELL. If you like law-books.

AMY. I haven't been much of an interruption now, have I?

TREBELL. Please wait.

AMY. Thank you.

      TREBELL _shuts her in, for a moment seems inclined to lock her in,
      but he comes back into his own room and faces_ CANTELUPE, _who having
      primed and trained himself on his subject like a gun, fires off a
      speech, without haste, but also apparently without taking breath._

CANTELUPE. I was extremely thankful, Mr. Trebell, to hear last week from
Horsham that you will see your way to join his cabinet and undertake the
disestablishment bill in the House of Commons. Any measure of mine, I have
always been convinced, would be too much under the suspicion of blindly
favouring Church interests to command the allegiance of that heterogeneous
mass of thought ... in some cases, alas, of free thought ... which
now-a-days composes the Conservative party. I am more than content to
exercise what influence I may from a seat in the cabinet which will
authorise the bill.

TREBELL. Yes. That chair's comfortable.

      CANTELUPE _takes another._

CANTELUPE. Horsham forwarded to me your memorandum upon the conditions you
held necessary and I incline to think I may accept them in principle on
behalf of those who honour me with their confidences.

      _He fishes some papers from his pocket._ TREBELL _sits squarely at his
      table to grapple with the matter._

TREBELL. Horsham told me you did accept them ... it's on that I'm joining.

CANTELUPE. Yes ... in principle.

TREBELL. Well ... we couldn't carry a bill you disapproved of, could we?

CANTELUPE. [_With finesse._] I hope not.

TREBELL. [_A little dangerously._] And I have no intention of being made the
scapegoat of a wrecked Tory compromise with the Nonconformists.

CANTELUPE. [_Calmly ignoring the suggestion._] So far as I am concerned I
meet the Nonconformists on their own ground ... that Religion had better be
free from all compromise with the State.

TREBELL. Quite so ... if you're set free you'll look after yourselves. My
discovery must be what to do with the men who think more of the state than
their Church ... the majority of parsons, don't you think? ... if the
question's really put and they can be made to understand it.

CANTELUPE. [_With sincere disdain._] There are more profitable professions.

TREBELL. And less. Will you allow me that it is statecraft to make a
profession profitable?

      CANTELUPE _picks up his papers, avoiding theoretical discussion._

CANTELUPE. Well now ... will you explain to me this project for endowing
Education with your surplus?

TREBELL. Putting Appropriation, the Buildings and the Representation
question on one side for the moment?

CANTELUPE. Candidly, I have yet to master your figures....

TREBELL. The roughest figures so far.

CANTELUPE. Still I have yet to master them on the first two points.

TREBELL. [_Firmly premising._] We agree that this is not diverting church
money to actually secular uses.

CANTELUPE. [_As he peeps from under his eyelids._] I can conceive that it
might not be. You know that we hold Education to be a Church function.
But....

TREBELL. Can you accept thoroughly now the secular solution for all Primary
Schools?

CANTELUPE. Haven't we always preferred it to the undenominational? Are there
to be facilities for _any_ of the teachers giving dogmatic instruction?

TREBELL. I note your emphasis on any. I think we can put the burden of that
decision on local authorities. Let us come to the question of Training
Colleges for your teachers. It's on that I want to make my bargain.

CANTELUPE. [_Alert and cautious._] You want to endow colleges?

TREBELL. Heavily.

CANTELUPE. Under public control?

TREBELL. Church colleges under Church control.

CANTELUPE. There'd be others?

TREBELL. To preserve the necessary balance in the schools.

CANTELUPE. Not founded with church money?

TREBELL. Think of the grants in aid that will be released. I must ask the
Treasury for a further lump sum and with that there may be sufficient for
secular colleges ... if you can agree with me upon the statutes of those
over which you'd otherwise have free control.

      TREBELL _is weighing his words._

CANTELUPE. "You" meaning, for instance ... what authorities in the Church?

TREBELL. Bishops, I suppose ... and others, [CANTELUPE _permits himself to
smile._] On that point I shall be weakness itself and ... may I suggest ...
your seat in the cabinet will give you some control.

CANTELUPE. Statutes?

TREBELL. To be framed in the best interests of educational efficiency.

CANTELUPE. [_Finding an opening._] I doubt if we agree upon the meaning to
be attached to that term.

TREBELL. [_Forcing the issue._] What meaning do you attach to it?

CANTELUPE. [_Smiling again._] I have hardly a sympathetic listener.

TREBELL. You have an unprejudiced one ... the best you can hope for. I was
not educated myself. I learnt certain things that I desired to know ... from
reading my first book--Don Quixote it was--to mastering Company Law. You
see, as a man without formulas either for education or religion, I am
perhaps peculiarly fitted to settle the double question. I have no grudges
... no revenge to take.

CANTELUPE. [_Suddenly congenial._] Shelton's translation of Don Quixote I
hope ... the modern ones have no flavour. And you took all the adventures as
seriously as the Don did?

TREBELL. [_Not expecting this._] I forget.

CANTELUPE. It's the finer attitude ... the child's attitude. And it would
enable you immediately to comprehend mine towards an education consisting
merely of practical knowledge. The life of Faith is still the happy one.
What is more crushingly finite than knowledge? Moral discipline is a
nation's only safety. How much of your science tends in support of the great
spiritual doctrine of sacrifice!

      TREBELL _returns to his subject as forceful as ever._

TREBELL. The Church has assimilated much in her time. Do you think it wise
to leave agnostic science at the side of the plate? I think, you know, that
this craving for common knowledge is a new birth in the mind of man; and if
your church won't recognise that soon, by so much will she be losing her
grip for ever over men's minds. What's the test of godliness, but your power
to receive the new idea in whatever form it comes and give it life? It is
blasphemy to pick and choose your good. [_For a moment his thoughts seem to
be elsewhere._] That's an unhappy man or woman or nation ... I know it if it
has only come to me this minute ... and I don't care what their brains or
their riches or their beauty or any of their triumph may be ... they're
unhappy and useless if they can't tell life from death.

CANTELUPE. [_Interested in the digression_] Remember that the Church's claim
has ever been to know that difference.

TREBELL. [_Fastening to his subject again._] My point is this: A man's
demand to know the exact structure of a fly's wing, and his assertion that
it degrades any child in the street not to know such a thing, is a religious
revival ... a token of spiritual hunger. What else can it be? And we
commercialise our teaching!

CANTELUPE. I wouldn't have it so.

TREBELL. Then I'm offering you the foundation of a new Order of men and
women who'll serve God by teaching his children. Now shall we finish the
conversation in prose?

CANTELUPE. [_Not to be put down._] What is the prose for God?

TREBELL. [_Not to be put down either._] That's what we irreligious people
are giving our lives to discover. [_He plunges into detail._] I'm proposing
to found about seventy-two new colleges, and of course, to bring the ones
there are up to the new standard. Then we must gradually revise all teaching
salaries in government schools ... to a scale I have in mind. Then the
course must be compulsory and the training time doubled--

CANTELUPE. Doubled! Four years?

TREBELL. Well, a minimum of three ... a university course. Remember we're
turning a trade into a calling.

CANTELUPE. There's more to that than taking a degree.

TREBELL. I think so. You've fought for years for your tests and your
atmosphere with plain business men not able to understand such lunacy. Quite
right ... atmosphere's all that matters. If one and one don't make two by
God's grace....

CANTELUPE. Poetry again!

TREBELL. I beg your pardon. Well ... you've no further proof. If you can't
plant your thumb on the earth and your little finger on the pole star you
know nothing of distances. We must do away with text-book teachers.

      CANTELUPE _is opening out a little in spite of himself._

CANTELUPE. I'm waiting for our opinions to differ.

TREBELL. [_Businesslike again._] I'll send you a draft of the statutes I
propose within a week. Meanwhile shall I put the offer this way. If I accept
your tests will you accept mine?

CANTELUPE. What are yours?

TREBELL. I believe if one provides for efficiency one provides for the best
part of truth ... honesty of statement. I shall hope for a little more
elasticity in your dogmas than Becket or Cranmer or Laud would have allowed.
When you've a chance to re-formulate the reasons of your faith for the
benefit of men teaching mathematics and science and history and political
economy, you won't neglect to answer or allow for criticisms and doubts. I
don't see why ... in spite of all the evidence to the contrary ... such a
thing as progress in a definite religious faith is impossible.

CANTELUPE. Progress is a soiled word. [_And now he weighs his words._] I
shall be very glad to accept on the Church's behalf control of the teaching
of teachers in these colleges.

TREBELL. Good. I want the best men.

CANTELUPE. You are surprisingly inexperienced if you think that creeds can
ever become mere forms except to those who have none.

TREBELL. But teaching--true teaching--is learning, and the wish to know is
going to prevail against any creed ... so I think. I wish you cared as
little for the form in which a truth is told as I do. On the whole, you see,
I think I shall manage to plant your theology in such soil this spring that
the garden will be fruitful. On the whole I'm a believer in Churches of all
sorts and their usefulness to the State. Your present use is out-worn. Have
I found you in this the beginnings of a new one?

CANTELUPE. The Church says: Thank you, it is a very old one.

TREBELL. [_Winding up the interview._] To be sure, for practical politics
our talk can be whittled down to your accepting the secular solution for
Primary Schools, if you're given these colleges under such statutes as you
and I shall agree upon.

CANTELUPE. And the country will accept.

TREBELL. The country will accept any measure if there's enough money in it
to bribe all parties fairly.

CANTELUPE. You expect very little of the constancy of my Church to her
Faith, Mr. Trebell.

TREBELL. I have only one belief myself. That is in human progress--yes,
progress--over many obstacles and by many means. I have no ideals. I believe
it is statesmanlike to use all the energy you find ... turning it into the
nearest channel that points forward.

CANTELUPE. Forward to what?

TREBELL. I don't know ... and my caring doesn't matter. We do know ... and
if we deny it it's only to be encouraged by contradiction ... that the
movement is forward and with some gathering purpose. I'm friends with any
fellow traveller.

      CANTELUPE _has been considering him very curiously. Now he gets up to
      go._

CANTELUPE. I should like to continue our talk when I've studied your draft
of the statutes. Of course the political position is favourable to a far
more comprehensive bill than we had ever looked for ... and you've the
advantage now of having held yourself very free from party ties. In fact not
only will you give us the bill we shall most care to accept, but I don't
know what other man would give us a bill we and the other side could accept
at all.

TREBELL. I can let you have more Appropriation figures by Friday. The
details of the Fabrics scheme will take a little longer.

CANTELUPE. In a way there's no such hurry. We're not in office yet.

TREBELL. When I'm building with figures I like to give the foundations time
to settle. Otherwise they are the inexactest things.

CANTELUPE. [_Smiling to him for the first time._] We shall have you finding
Faith the only solvent of all problems some day.

TREBELL. I hope my mind is not afraid ... even of the Christian religion.

CANTELUPE. I am sure that the needs of the human soul ... be it dressed up
in whatever knowledge ... do not alter from age to age....

      _He opens the door to find_ WEDGECROFT _standing outside, watch in
      hand._

TREBELL. Hullo ... waiting?

WEDGECROFT. I was giving you two minutes by my watch. How are you,
Cantelupe?

      CANTELUPE, _with a gesture which might be mistaken for a bow, folds
      himself up._

TREBELL. Shall I bring you the figures on Friday ... that might save time.

      CANTELUPE, _by taking a deeper fold in himself seems to assent._

TREBELL. Will the afternoon do? Kent shall fix the hour.

CANTELUPE. [_With an effort._] Kent?

TREBELL. My secretary.

CANTELUPE. Friday. Any hour before five. I know my way.

      _The three phrases having meant three separate efforts,_ CANTELUPE
      _escapes._ WEDGECROFT _has walked to the table, his brows a little
      puckered. Now_ TREBELL _notices that_ KENT'S _door is open; he goes
      quickly into the room and finds it empty. Then he stands for a moment
      irritable and undecided before returning._

TREBELL. Been here long?

WEDGECROFT. Five minutes ... more, I suppose.

TREBELL. Mrs. O'Connell gone?

WEDGECROFT. To her dressmaker's.

TREBELL. Frances forgot she was coming and went out.

WEDGECROFT. Pretty little fool of a woman! D'you know her husband?

TREBELL. No.

WEDGECROFT. Says she's been in Ireland with him since we met at Shapters. He
has trouble with his tenantry.

TREBELL. Won't he sell or won't they purchase?

WEDGECROFT. Curious chap. A Don at Balliol when I first knew him. Warped of
late years ... perhaps by his marriage.

TREBELL. [_Dismissing that subject._] Well ... how's Percival?

WEDGECROFT. Better this morning. I told him I'd seen you ... and in a little
calculated burst of confidence what I'd reason to think you were after. He
said you and he could get on though you differed on every point; but he
didn't see how you'd pull with such a blasted weak-kneed lot as the rest of
the Horsham's cabinet would be. He'll be up in a week or ten days.

TREBELL. Can I see him?

WEDGECROFT. You might. I admire the old man ... the way he sticks to his
party, though they misrepresent now most things he believes in!

TREBELL. What a damnable state to arrive at ... doubly damned by the fact
you admire it.

WEDGECROFT. And to think that at this time of day you should need
instructing in the ethics of party government. But I'll have to do it.

TREBELL. Not now. I've been at ethics with Cantelupe.

WEDGECROFT. Certainly not now. What about my man with the stomach-ache at
twelve o'clock sharp! Good-bye.

      _He is gone,_ TREBELL _battles with uneasiness and at last mutters._
      "Oh ... why didn't she wait?" _Then the telephone bell rings. He goes
      quickly as if it were an answer to his anxiety._ "Yes?" _Of course, it
      isn't.._ "Yes." _He paces the room, impatient, wondering what to do.
      The Maid comes in to announce_ MISS DAVENPORT. LUCY _follows her. She
      has gained lately perhaps a little of the joy which was lacking and at
      least she brings now into this room a breath of very wholesome
      womanhood._

LUCY. It's very good of you to let me come; I'm not going to keep you more
than three minutes.

TREBELL. Sit down.

      _Only women unused to busy men would call him rude._

LUCY. What I want to say is ... don't mind my being engaged to Walter. It
shan't interfere with his work for you. If you want a proof that it shan't
... it was I got Aunt Julia to ask you to take him.... Though he didn't know
... so don't tell him that.

TREBELL. You weren't engaged then.

LUCY. I ... thought that we might be.

TREBELL. [_With cynical humour._] Which I'm not to tell him either?

LUCY. Oh, that wouldn't matter.

TREBELL. [_With decision._] I'll make sure you don't interfere.

LUCY. [_Deliberately ... not to be treated as a child._] You couldn't, you
know, if I wanted to.

TREBELL. Why, is Walter a fool?

LUCY. He's very fond of me, if that's what you mean?

      TREBELL _looks at her for the first time and changes his tone a
      little._

TREBELL. If it was what I meant ... I'm disposed to withdraw the suggestion.

LUCY. And, because I'm fond of his work as well, I shan't therefore ask him
to tell me things ... secrets.

TREBELL. [_Reverting to his humour._] It'll be when you're a year or two
married that danger may occur ... in his desperate effort to make
conversation.

      LUCY _considers this and him quite seriously._

LUCY. You're rather hard on women, aren't you ... just because they don't
have the chances men do.

TREBELL. Do you want the chances?

LUCY. I think I'm as clever as most men I meet, though I know less, of
course.

TREBELL. Perhaps I should have offered you the secretaryship instead.

LUCY. [_Readily._] Don't you think I'm taking it in a way ... by marrying
Walter? That's fanciful of course. But marriage is a very general and
complete sort of partnership, isn't it? At least, I'd like to make mine so.

TREBELL. He'll be more under your thumb in some things if you leave him free
in others.

      _She receives the sarcasm in all seriousness and then speaks to him as
      she would to a child._

LUCY. Oh ... I'm not explaining what I mean quite well perhaps. Walter has
been everywhere and done everything. He speaks three languages ... which all
makes him an ideal private secretary.

TREBELL. Quite.

LUCY. Do you think he'd develop into anything else ... but for me?

TREBELL. So I have provided just a first step, have I?

LUCY. [_With real enthusiasm._] Oh, Mr. Trebell, it's a great thing for us.
There isn't anyone worth working under but you. You'll make him think and
give him ideas instead of expecting them from him. But just for that reason
he'd get so attached to you and be quite content to grow old in your shadow
... if it wasn't for me.

TREBELL. True ... I should encourage him in nothingness. What's more, I want
extra brains and hands. It's not altogether a pleasant thing, is it ... the
selfishness of the hard worked man?

LUCY. If you don't grudge your own strength, why should you be tender of
other people's?

      _He looks at her curiously._

TREBELL. Your ambition is making for only second-hand satisfaction though.

LUCY. What's a woman to do? She must work through men, mustn't she?

TREBELL. I'm told that's degrading ... the influencing of husbands and
brothers and sons.

LUCY. [_Only half humorously._] But what else is one to do with them? Of
course, I've enough money to live on ... so I could take up some woman's
profession ... What are you smiling at?

TREBELL. [_Who has smiled very broadly._] As you don't mean to ... don't
stop while I tell you.

LUCY. But I'd sooner get married. I want to have children. [_The words catch
him and hold him. He looks at her reverently this time. She remembers she
has transgressed convention; then, remembering that it is only convention,
proceeds quite simply._] I hope we shall have children.

TREBELL. I hope so.

LUCY. Thank you. That's the first kind thing you've said.

TREBELL. Oh ... you can do without compliments, can't you?

      _She considers for a moment._

LUCY. Why have you been talking to me as if I were someone else?

TREBELL. [_Startled._] Who else?

LUCY. No one particular. But you've shaken a moral fist so to speak. I don't
think I provoked it.

TREBELL. It's a bad parliamentary habit. I apologise.

      _She gets up to go._

LUCY. Now I shan't keep you longer ... you're always busy. You've been so
easy to talk to. Thank you very much.

TREBELL. Why ... I wonder?

LUCY. I knew you would be or I shouldn't have come. You think Life's an
important thing, don't you? That's priggish, isn't it? Good-bye. We're
coming to dinner ... Aunt Julia and I. Miss Trebell arrived to ask us just
as I left.

TREBELL. I'll see you down.

LUCY. What waste of time for you. I know how the door opens.

      _As she goes out_ WALTER KENT _is on the way to his room. The two nod
      to each other like old friends._ TREBELL _turns away with something of
      a sigh._

KENT. Just come?

LUCY. Just going.

KENT. I'll see you at dinner.

LUCY. Oh, are you to be here? ... that's nice.

      LUCY _departs as purposefully as she came._ KENT _hurries to_ TREBELL,
      _whose thoughts are away again by now._

KENT. I haven't been long there and back, have I? The Bishop gave me these
letters for you. He hasn't answered the last ... but I've his notes of what
he means to say. He'd like them back to-night. He was just going out. I've
one or two notes of what Evans said. Bit of a charlatan, don't you think?

TREBELL. Evans?

KENT. Well, he talked of his Flock. There are quite fifteen letters you'll
have to deal with yourself, I'm afraid.

      TREBELL _stares at him: then, apparently, making up his mind...._

TREBELL. Ring up a messenger, will you ... I must write a note and send it.

KENT. Will you dictate?

TREBELL. I shall have done it while you're ringing ... it's only a personal
matter. Then we'll start work.

      KENT _goes into his room and tackles the telephone there._ TREBELL
      _sits down to write the note, his face very set and anxious._



THE THIRD ACT


At LORD HORSHAM'S house in Queen Anne's Gate, in the evening, a week later.

_If rooms express their owners' character, the grey and black of_ LORD
HORSHAM'S _drawing room, the faded brocade of its furniture, reveal him as a
man of delicate taste and somewhat thin intellectuality. He stands now
before a noiseless fire, contemplating with a troubled eye either the
pattern of the Old French carpet, or the black double doors of the library
opposite, or the moulding on the Adams ceiling, which the flicker of all the
candles casts into deeper relief. His grey hair and black clothes would melt
into the decoration of his room, were the figure not rescued from such
oblivion by the British white glaze of his shirt front and--to a sympathetic
eye--by the loveable perceptive face of the man. Sometimes he looks at the
sofa in front of him, on which sits_ WEDGECROFT, _still in the frock coat of
a busy day, depressed and irritable. With his back to them, on a sofa with
its back to them, is_ GEORGE FARRANT, _planted with his knees apart, his
hands clasped, his head bent; very glum. And sometimes_ HORSHAM _glances at
the door, as if waiting for it to open. Then his gaze will travel back, up
the long shiny black piano, with a volume of the Well Tempered Clavichord
open on its desk, to where_ CANTELUPE _is perched uncomfortably on the
bench; paler than ever; more self-contained than ever, looking, to one who
knows him as well as Horsham does, a little dangerous. So he returns to
contemplation of the ceiling or the carpet. They wait there as men wait who
have said all they want to say upon an unpleasant subject and yet cannot
dismiss it. At last_ FARRANT _breaks the silence._

FARRANT. What time did you ask him to come, Horsham?

HORSHAM. Eh ... O'Connell? I didn't ask him directly. What time did you say,
Wedgecroft?

WEDGECROFT. Any time after half past ten, I told him.

FARRANT. [_Grumbling._] It's a quarter to eleven. Doesn't Blackborough mean
to turn up at all?

HORSHAM. He was out of town ... my note had to be sent after him. I couldn't
wire, you see.

FARRANT. No.

CANTELUPE. It was by the merest chance your man caught me, Cyril. I was
taking the ten fifteen to Tonbridge and happened to go to James Street first
for some papers.

      _The conversation flags again._

CANTELUPE. But since Mrs. O'Connell is dead what is the excuse for a
scandal?

      _At this unpleasant dig into the subject of their thoughts the three
      other men stir uncomfortably._

HORSHAM. Because the inquest is unavoidable ... apparently.

WEDGECROFT. [_Suddenly letting fly._] I declare I'd I'd have risked penal
servitude and given a certificate, but just before the end O'Connell would
call in old Fielding Andrews, who has moral scruples about everything--it's
his trademark--and of course about this...!

FARRANT. Was he told of the whole business?

WEDGECROFT. No ... O'Connell kept things up before him. Well ... the woman
was dying.

HORSHAM. Couldn't you have kept the true state of the case from Sir
Fielding?

WEDGECROFT. And been suspected of the malpractice myself if he'd found it
out? ... which he would have done ... he's no fool. Well ... I thought of
trying that....

FARRANT. My dear Wedgecroft ... how grossly quixotic! You have a duty to
yourself.

HORSHAM. [_Rescuing the conversation from unpleasantness._] I'm afraid I
feel that our position to-night is most irregular, Wedgecroft.

WEDGECROFT. Still if you can make O'Connell see reason. And if you all
can't.... [_He frowns at the alternative._]

CANTELUPE. Didn't you say she came to you first of all?

WEDGECROFT. I met her one morning at Trebell's.

FARRANT. Actually _at_ Trebell's!

WEDGECROFT. The day he came back from abroad.

FARRANT. Oh! No one seems to have noticed them together much at any time. My
wife ... No matter!

WEDGECROFT. She tackled me as a doctor with one part of her trouble ...
added she'd been with O'Connell in Ireland, which of course it turns out
wasn't true ... asked me to help her. I had to say I couldn't.

HORSHAM. [_Echoing rather than querying._] You couldn't.

FARRANT. [_Shocked._] My dear Horsham!

WEDGECROFT. Well, if she'd told me the truth!... No, anyhow I couldn't. I'm
sure there was no excuse. One can't run these risks.

FARRANT. Quite right, quite right.

WEDGECROFT. There are men who do on one pretext or another.

FARRANT. [_Not too shocked to be curious._] Are there really?

WEDGECROFT. Oh yes, men well known ... in other directions. I could give you
four addresses ... but of course I wasn't going to give her one. Though
there again ... if she'd told me the whole truth!... My God, women are such
fools! And they prefer quackery ... look at the decent doctors they simply
turn into charlatans. Though, there again, that all comes of letting a trade
work mysteriously under the thumb of a benighted oligarchy ... which is
beside the question. But one day I'll make you sit up on the subject of the
Medical Council, Horsham.

      HORSHAM _assumes an impenetrable air of statesmanship._

HORSHAM. I know. Very interesting ... very important ... very difficult to
alter the status quo.

WEDGECROFT. Then the poor little liar said she'd go off to an appointment
with her dressmaker; and I heard nothing more till she sent for me a week
later, and I found her almost too ill to speak. Even then she didn't tell me
the truth! So, when O'Connell arrived, of course I spoke to him quite openly
and all he told me in reply was that it wouldn't have been his child.

FARRANT. Poor devil!

WEDGECROFT. O'Connell?

FARRANT. Yes, of course.

WEDGECROFT. I wonder. Perhaps she didn't realize he'd been sent for ... or
felt then she was dying and didn't care ... or lost her head. I don't know.

FARRANT. Such a pretty little woman!

WEDGECROFT. If I could have made him out and dealt with him, of course, I
shouldn't have come to you. Farrant's known him even longer than I have.

FARRANT. I was with him at Harrow.

WEDGECROFT. So I went to Farrant first.

      _That part of the subject drops._ CANTELUPE, _who has not moved,
      strikes in again._

CANTELUPE. How was Trebell's guilt discovered?

FARRANT. He wrote her one letter which she didn't destroy. O'Connell found
it.

WEDGECROFT. Picked it up from her desk ... it wasn't even locked up.

FARRANT. Not twenty words in it ... quite enough though.

HORSHAM. His habit of being explicit ... of writing things down ... I know!

      _He shakes his head, deprecating all rashness. There is another
      pause._ FARRANT, _getting up to pace about, breaks it._

FARRANT. Look here, Wedgecroft, one thing is worrying me. Had Trebell any
foreknowledge of what she did and the risk she was running and could he have
stopped it?

WEDGECROFT. [_Almost ill-temperedly._] How could he have stopped it?

FARRANT. Because ... well, I'm not a casuist ... but I know by instinct when
I'm up against the wrong thing to do; and if he can't be cleared on that
point I won't lift a finger to save him.

HORSHAM. [_With nice judgment._] In using the term Any Foreknowledge,
Farrant, you may be more severe on him than you wish to be.

      FARRANT, _unappreciative, continues._

FARRANT. Otherwise ... well, we must admit, Cantelupe, that if it hadn't
been for the particular consequence of this it wouldn't be anything to be so
mightily shocked about.

CANTELUPE. I disagree.

FARRANT. My dear fellow, it's our business to make laws and we know the
difference of saying in one of 'em you may or you must. Who ever proposed to
insist on pillorying every case of spasmodic adultery? One would never have
done! Some of these attachments do more harm ... to the third party, I mean
... some less. But it's only when a menage becomes socially impossible that
a sensible man will interfere. [_He adds quite unnecessarily._] I'm speaking
quite impersonally, of course.

CANTELUPE. [_As coldly as ever._] Trebell is morally responsible for every
consequence of the original sin.

WEDGECROFT. That is a hard saying.

FARRANT. [_Continuing his own remarks quite independently._] And I put aside
the possibility that he deliberately helped her to her death to save a
scandal because I don't believe it is a possibility. But if that were so I'd
lift my finger to help him to his. I'd see him hanged with pleasure.

WEDGECROFT. [_Settling this part of the matter._] Well, Farrant, to all
intents and purposes he didn't know and he'd have stopped it if he could.

FARRANT. Yes, I believe that. But what makes you so sure?

WEDGECROFT. I asked him and he told me.

FARRANT. That's no proof.

WEDGECROFT. You read the letter that he sent her ... unless you think it was
written as a blind.

FARRANT. Oh ... to be sure ... yes. I might have thought of that.

      _He settles down again. Again no one has anything to say._

CANTELUPE. What is to be said to Mr. O'Connell when he comes?

HORSHAM. Yes ... what exactly do you propose we shall say to O'Connell,
Wedgecroft?

WEDGECROFT. Get him to open his oyster of a mind and....

FARRANT. So it is and his face like a stone wall yesterday. Absolutely
refused to discuss the matter with me!

CANTELUPE. May I ask, Cyril, why are we concerning ourselves with this
wickedness at all?

HORSHAM. Just at this moment when we have official weight without official
responsibility, Charles....

WEDGECROFT. I wish I could have let Percival out of bed, but these first
touches of autumn are dangerous to a convalescent of his age.

HORSHAM. But you saw him, Farrant ... and he gave you his opinion, didn't
he?

FARRANT. Last night ... yes.

HORSHAM. I suppose it's a pity Blackborough hasn't turned up.

FARRANT. Never mind him.

HORSHAM. He gets people to agree with him. That's a gift.

FARRANT. Wedgecroft, what is the utmost O'Connell will be called upon to do
for us ... for Trebell?

WEDGECROFT. Probably only to hold his tongue at the inquest to-morrow. As
far as I know there's no one but her maid to prove that Mrs. O'Connell
didn't meet her husband some time in the summer. He'll be called upon to
tell a lie or two by implication.

FARRANT. Cantelupe ... what does perjury to that extent mean to a Roman
Catholic?

      CANTELUPE'S _face melts into an expression of mild amazement._

CANTELUPE. Your asking such a question shows that you would not understand
my answer to it.

FARRANT. [_Leaving the fellow to his subtleties._] Well, what about the
maid?

WEDGECROFT. She may suspect facts but not names, I think. Why should they
question her on such a point if O'Connell says nothing?

HORSHAM. He's really very late. I told ... [_He stops._] Charles, I've
forgotten that man's name again.

CANTELUPE. Edmunds, you said it was.

HORSHAM. Edmunds. Everybody's down at Lympne ... I've been left with a new
man here and I don't know his name. [_He is very pathetic._] I told him to
put O'Connell in the library there. I thought that either Farrant or I might
perhaps see him first and--

      _At this moment_ EDMUNDS _comes in, and, with that air of discreet
      tact which he considers befits the establishment of a Prime Minister,
      announces_, "Mr. O'Connell, my lord." _As_ O'CONNELL _follows him_,
      HORSHAM _can only try not to look too disconcerted._ O'CONNELL, _in
      his tightly buttoned frock coat, with his shaven face and
      close-cropped iron grey hair, might be mistaken for a Catholic priest;
      except that he has not also acquired the easy cheerfulness which
      professional familiarity with the mysteries of that religion seems to
      give. For the moment, at least, his features are so impassive that
      they may tell either of the deepest grief or the purest indifference;
      or it may be, merely of reticence on entering a stranger's room. He
      only bows towards_ HORSHAM'S _half-proffered hand. With instinctive
      respect for the situation of this tragically made widower the men have
      risen and stand in various uneasy attitudes._

HORSHAM. Oh ... how do you do? Let me see ... do you know my cousin Charles
Cantelupe? Yes ... we were expecting Russell Blackborough. Sir Henry
Percival is ill. Do sit down.

      O'CONNELL _takes the nearest chair and gradually the others settle
      themselves_; FARRANT _seeking an obscure corner. But there follows an
      uncomfortable silence, which_ O'CONNELL _at last breaks._


O'CONNELL. You have sent for me, Lord Horsham?

HORSHAM. I hope that by my message I conveyed no impression of sending for
you.

O'CONNELL. I am always in some doubt as to by what person or persons in or
out of power this country is governed. But from all I hear you are at the
present moment approximately entitled to send for me.

      _The level music of his Irish tongue seems to give finer edge to his
      sarcasm._

HORSHAM. Well, Mr. O'Connell ... you know our request before we make it.

O'CONNELL. Yes, I understand that if the fact of Mr. Trebell's adultery with
my wife were made as public as its consequences to her must be to-morrow,
public opinion would make it difficult for you to include him in your
cabinet.

HORSHAM. Therefore we ask you ... though we have no right to ask you ... to
consider the particular circumstances and forget the man in the statesman,
Mr. O'Connell.

O'CONNELL. My wife is dead. What have I to do at all with Mr. Trebell as a
man? As a statesman I am in any case uninterested in him.

      _Upon this throwing of cold water_, EDMUNDS _returns to mention even
      more discreetly...._

EDMUNDS. Mr. Blackborough is in the library, my lord.

HORSHAM. [_Patiently impatient._] No, no ... here.

WEDGECROFT. Let me go.

HORSHAM. [_To the injured_ EDMUNDS.] Wait ... wait.

WEDGECROFT. I'll put him _au fait._ I shan't come back.

HORSHAM. [_Gratefully._] Yes, yes. [_Then to_ EDMUNDS _who is waiting with
perfect dignity._] Yes ... yes ... yes.

      EDMUNDS _departs and_ WEDGECROFT _makes for the library door, glad to
      escape._

O'CONNELL. If you are not busy at this hour, Wedgecroft, I should be
grateful if you'd wait for me. I shall keep you, I think, but a very few
minutes.

WEDGECROFT. [_In his most matter-of-fact tone._] All right, O'Connell.

      _He goes into the library._

CANTELUPE. Don't you think, Cyril, it would be wiser to prevent your man
coming into the room at all while we're discussing this?

HORSHAM. [_Collecting his scattered tact._] Yes, I thought I had arranged
that he shouldn't. I'm very sorry. He's a fool. However, there's no one else
to come. Once more, Mr. O'Connell.... [_He frames no sentence._]

O'CONNELL. I am all attention, Lord Horsham.

      CANTELUPE _with a self-denying effort has risen to his feet._

CANTELUPE. Mr. O'Connell I remain here almost against my will. I cannot
think quite calmly about this double and doubly heinous sin. Don't listen to
us while we make light of it. If we think of it as a political bother and
ask you to smooth it away ... I am ashamed. But I believe I may not be wrong
if I put it to you that, looking to the future and for the sake of your own
Christian dignity, it may become you to be merciful. And I pray too ... I
think we may believe ... that Mr. Trebell is feeling need of your
forgiveness. I have no more to say. [_He sits down again._]

O'CONNELL. It may be. I have never met Mr. Trebell.

HORSHAM. I tell you, Mr. O'Connell, putting aside Party, that your country
has need of this man just at this time.

      _They hang upon_ O'CONNELL'S _reply. It comes with deliberation._

O'CONNELL. I suppose my point of view must be an unusual one. I notice, at
least, that twenty four hours and more has not enabled Farrant to grasp it.

FARRANT. For God's sake, O'Connell, don't be so cold-blooded. You have the
life or death of a man's reputation to decide on.

O'CONNELL. [_With a cold flash of contempt._] That's a petty enough thing
now-a-days it seems to me. There are so many clever men ... and they are all
so alike ... surely one will not be missed.

CANTELUPE. Don't you think that is only sarcasm, Mr. O'Connell?

      _The voice is so gently reproving that_ O'CONNELL _must turn to him._

O'CONNELL. Will you please to make allowance, Lord Charles, for a mediaeval
scholar's contempt of modern government? You at least will partly understand
his horror as a Catholic at the modern superstitions in favour of popular
opinion and control which it encourages. You see, Lord Horsham, I am not a
party man, only a little less enthusiastic for the opposite cries than for
his own. You appealed very strangely to my feelings of patriotism for this
country; but you see even my own is--in the twentieth century--foreign to
me. From my point of view neither Mr. Trebell, nor you, nor the men you have
just defeated, nor any discoverable man or body of men will make laws which
matter ... or differ in the slightest. You are all part of your age and you
all voice--though in separate keys, or even tunes they may be--only the
greed and follies of your age. That you should do this and nothing more is,
of course, the democratic ideal. You will forgive my thinking tenderly of
the statesmanship of the first Edward.

      _The library door opens and_ RUSSELL BLACKBOROUGH _comes in. He has on
      evening clothes, complicated by a long silk comforter and the motoring
      cap which he carries._

HORSHAM. You know Russell Blackborough.

O'CONNELL. I think not.

BLACKBOROUGH. How d'you do?

      O'CONNELL _having bowed_, BLACKBOROUGH _having nodded, the two men sit
      down_, BLACKBOROUGH _with an air of great attention_, O'CONNELL _to
      continue his interrupted speech._

O'CONNELL. And you are as far from me in your code of personal morals as in
your politics. In neither do you seem to realise that such a thing as
passion can exist. No doubt you use the words Love and Hatred; but do you
know that love and hatred for principles or persons should come from beyond
a man? I notice you speak of forgiveness as if it were a penny in my pocket.
You have been endeavouring for these two days to rouse me from my
indifference towards Mr. Trebell. Perhaps you are on the point of succeeding
... but I do not know what you may rouse.

HORSHAM. I understand. We are much in agreement, Mr. O'Connell. What can a
man be--who has any pretensions to philosophy--but helplessly indifferent to
the thousands of his fellow creatures whose fates are intertwined with his?

O'CONNELL. I am glad that you understand. But, again ... have I been wrong
to shrink from personal relations with Mr. Trebell? Hatred is as sacred a
responsibility as love. And you will not agree with me when I say that
punishment can be the salvation of a man's soul.

FARRANT. [_With aggressive common sense._] Look here. O'Connell, if you're
indifferent it doesn't hurt you to let him off. And if you hate him...!
Well, one shouldn't hate people ... there's no room for it in this world.

CANTELUPE. [_Quietly as ever._] We have some authority for thinking that the
punishment of a secret sin is awarded by God secretly.

O'CONNELL. We have very poor authority, sir, for using God's name merely to
fill up the gaps in an argument, though we may thus have our way easily with
men who fear God more than they know him. I am not one of those. Yes,
Farrant, you and your like have left little room in this world except for
the dusty roads on which I notice you beginning once more to travel. The
rule of them is the same for all, is it not ... from the tramp and the
labourer to the plutocrat in his car? This is the age of equality; and it's
a fine practical equality ... the equality of the road. But you've fenced
the fields of human joy and turned the very hillsides into hoardings,
Commercial opportunity is painted on them, I think.

FARRANT. [_Not to be impressed._] Perhaps it is O'Connell. My father made
his money out of newspapers and I ride in a motor car and you came from
Holyhead by train. What has all that to do with it? Why can't you make up
your mind? You know in this sort of case one talks a lot ... and then does
the usual thing. You must let Trebell off and that's all about it.

O'CONNELL. Indeed. And do they still think it worth while to administer an
oath to your witnesses?

      _He is interrupted by the flinging open of the door and the triumphant
      right-this-time-anyhow voice in which_ EDMUNDS _announces_ "Mr.
      Trebell, my lord." _The general consternation expresses itself
      through_ HORSHAM, _who complains aloud and unreservedly._

HORSHAM. Good God.... No! Charles, I must give him notice at once ... he'll
have to go. [_He apologises to the company._] I beg your pardon.

      _By this time_ TREBELL _is in the room and has discovered the
      stranger, who stands to face him without emotion or anger_,
      BLACKBOROUGH'S _face wears the grimmest of smiles_, CANTELUPE _is
      sorry_, FARRANT _recovers from the fit of choking which seemed
      imminent and_ EDMUNDS, _dimly perceiving by now some fly in the
      perfect amber of his conduct, departs. The two men still face each
      other_, FARRANT _is prepared to separate them should they come to
      blows, and indeed is advancing in that anticipation when_ O'CONNELL
      _speaks._

O'CONNELL. I am Justin O'Connell.

TREBELL. I guess that.

O'CONNELL. There's a dead woman between us, Mr. Trebell.

      _A tremor sweeps over_ TREBELL; _then he speaks simply._

TREBELL. I wish she had not died.

O'CONNELL. I am called upon by your friends to save you from the
consequences of her death. What have you to say about that?

TREBELL. I have been wondering what sort of expression the last of your care
for her would find ... but not much. My wonder is at the power over me that
has been given to something I despised.

      _Only_ O'CONNELL _grasps his meaning. But he, stirred for the first
      time and to his very depths, drives it home._

O'CONNELL. Yes.... If I wanted revenge I have it. She was a worthless woman.
First my life and now yours! Dead because she was afraid to bear your child,
isn't she?

TREBELL. [_In agony._] I'd have helped that if I could.

O'CONNELL. Not the shame ... not the wrong she had done me ... but just
fear--fear of the burden of her woman-hood. And because of her my children
are bastards and cannot inherit my name. And I must live in sin against my
church, as--God help me--I can't against my nature. What are men to do when
this is how women use the freedom we have given them? Is the curse of
barrenness to be nothing to a man? And that's the death in life to which you
gentlemen with your fine civilisation are bringing us. I think we are
brothers in misfortune, Mr. Trebell.

TREBELL. [_Far from responding._] Not at all, sir. If you wanted children
you did the next best thing when she left you. My own problem is neither so
simple nor is it yet anyone's business but my own. I apologise for alluding
to it.

      HORSHAM _takes advantage of the silence that follows._

HORSHAM. Shall we....

O'CONNELL. [_Measuring_ TREBELL _with his eyes._] And by which shall I help
you to a solution ... telling lies or the truth to-morrow?

TREBELL. [_Roughly, almost insolently._] If you want my advice ... I should
do the thing that comes more easily to you, or that will content you most.
If you haven't yet made up your mind as to the relative importance of my
work and your conscience, it's too late to begin now. Nothing you may do can
affect me.

HORSHAM. _[fluttering fearfully into this strange dispute._] O'Connell ...
if you and I were to join Wedgecroft....

O'CONNELL. You value your work more than anything else in the world?

TREBELL. Have I anything else in the world?

O'CONNELL. Have you not? [_With grim ambiguity._] Then I am sorry for you,
Mr. Trebell. [_Having said all he had to say, he notices_ HORSHAM.] Yes,
Lord Horsham, by all means....

      _Then_ HORSHAM _opens the library door and sees him safely through. He
      passes_ TREBELL _without any salutation, nor does_ TREBELL _turn after
      him; but when_ HORSHAM _also is in the library and the door is closed,
      comments viciously._

TREBELL. The man's a sentimentalist ... like all men who live alone or shut
away. [_Then surveying his three glum companions, bursts out._] Well...? We
can stop thinking of this dead woman, can't we? It's a waste of time.

FARRANT. Trebell, what did you want to come here for?

TREBELL. Because you thought I wouldn't. I knew you'd be sitting round,
incompetent with distress, calculating to a nicety the force of a
scandal....

BLACKBOROUGH. [_With the firmest of touches._] Horsham has called some of us
here to discuss the situation. I am considering my opinion.

TREBELL. You are not, Blackborough. You haven't recovered yet from the shock
of your manly feelings. Oh, cheer up. You know we're an adulterous and
sterile generation. Why should you cry out at a proof now and then of what's
always in the hearts of most of us?

FARRANT. [_Plaintively._] Now, for God's sake, Trebell ... O'Connell has
been going on like that.

TREBELL. Well then ... think of what matters.

BLACKBOROUGH. Of you and your reputation in fact.

FARRANT. [_Kindly._] Why do you pretend to be callous?

      _He strokes_ TREBELL'S _shoulder, who shakes him off impatiently._

TREBELL. Do you all mean to out-face the British Lion with me after
to-morrow ... dare to be Daniels?

BLACKBOROUGH. Bravado won't carry this off.

TREBELL. Blackborough ... it would immortalize you. I'll stand up in my
place in the House of Commons and tell everything that has befallen soberly
and seriously. Why should I flinch?

FARRANT. My dear Trebell, if your name comes out at the inquest--

TREBELL. If it does!... whose has been the real offence against Society ...
hers or mine? It's I who am most offended ... if I choose to think so.

BLACKBOROUGH. You seem to forget the adultery.

TREBELL. Isn't Death divorce enough for her? And ... oh, wasn't I right?...
What do you start thinking of once the shock's over? Punishment ... revenge
... uselessness ... waste of me.

FARRANT. [_With finality._] If your name comes out at the inquest, to talk
of anything but retirement from public life is perfect lunacy ... and you
know it.

      HORSHAM _comes back from the passage. He is a little distracted; then
      the more so at finding himself again in a highly-charged atmosphere._

HORSHAM. He's gone off with Wedgecroft.

TREBELL. [_Including_ HORSHAM _now in his appeal._] Does anyone think he
knows me now to be a worse man ... less fit, less able ... than he did a
week ago?

      _From the piano-stool comes_ CANTELUPE'S _quiet voice._

CANTELUPE. Yes, Trebell ... I do.

      TREBELL _wheels round at this and ceases all bluster._

TREBELL. On what grounds?

CANTELUPE. Unarguable ones.

HORSHAM. [_Finding refuge again in his mantelpiece._] You know, he has gone
off without giving me his promise.

FARRANT. That's your own fault, Trebell.

HORSHAM. The fool says I didn't give him explicit instructions.

FARRANT. What fool?

HORSHAM. That man ... [_The name fails him._] ... my new man. One of those
touches of Fate's little finger, really.

      _He begins to consult the ceiling and the carpet once more._ TREBELL
      _tackles_ CANTELUPE _with gravity._

TREBELL. I have only a logical mind, Cantelupe. I know that to make myself a
capable man I've purged myself of all the sins ... I never was idle enough
to commit. I know that if your God didn't make use of men, sins and all ...
what would ever be done in the world? That one natural action, which the
slight shifting of a social law could have made as negligible as eating a
meal, can make me incapable ... takes the linch-pin out of one's brain,
doesn't it?

HORSHAM. Trebell, we've been doing our best to get you out of this mess.
Your remarks to O'Connell weren't of any assistance, and....

CANTELUPE _stands up, so momentously that_ HORSHAM'S _gentle flow of speech
dries up._

CANTELUPE. Perhaps I had better say at once that, whatever hushing up you
may succeed in, it will be impossible for me to sit in a cabinet with Mr.
Trebell.

      _It takes even_ FARRANT _a good half minute to recover his power of
      speech on this new issue._

FARRANT. What perfect nonsense, Cantelupe! I hope you don't mean that.

BLACKBOROUGH. Complication number one, Horsham.

FARRANT. [_Working up his protest._] Why on earth not? You really mustn't
drag your personal feelings and prejudices into important matters like this
... matters of state.

CANTELUPE. I think I have no choice, when Trebell stands convicted of a
mortal sin, of which he has not even repented.

TREBELL. [_With bitterest cynicism._] Dictate any form of repentance you
like ... my signature is yours.

CANTELUPE. Is this a matter for intellectual jugglery?

TREBELL. [_His defence failing at last._] I offered to face the scandal from
my place in the House. That was mad, wasn't it....

      BLACKBOROUGH--_his course mapped out--changes the tone of the
      discussion._

BLACKBOROUGH. Horsham, I hope Trebell will believe I have no personal
feelings in this matter, but we may as well face the fact even now that
O'Connell holding his tongue to-morrow won't stop gossip in the House, club
gossip, gossip in drawing rooms. What do the Radicals really care so long as
a scandal doesn't get into the papers! There's an inner circle with its eye
on us.

FARRANT. Well, what does that care as long as scandal's its own copyright?
Do you know, my dear father refused a peerage because he felt it meant
putting blinkers on his best newspaper.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_A little subtly._] Still ... now you and Horsham are
cousins, aren't you?

FARRANT. [_Off the track and explanatory._] No, no ... my wife's mother....

BLACKBOROUGH. I'm inaccurate, for I'm not one of the family circle myself.
My money gets me here and any skill I've used in making it. It wouldn't keep
me at a pinch. And Trebell ... [_He speaks through his teeth._] ... do you
think your accession to power in the party is popular at the best? Who is
going to put out a finger to make it less awkward for Horsham to stick to
you if there's a chance of your going under?

      TREBELL _smiles at some mental picture he is making._

TREBELL. Can your cousins and aunts make it so awkward for you, Horsham?

HORSHAM. [_Repaying humour with humour._] I bear up against their
affectionate attentions.

TREBELL. But I quite understand how uncongenial I may be. What made you take
up with me at all?

FARRANT. Your brains, Trebell.

TREBELL. He should have enquired into my character first, shouldn't he,
Cantelupe?

CANTELUPE. [_With crushing sincerity._] Yes.

TREBELL. Oh, the old unnecessary choice ... Wisdom or Virtue. We all think
we must make it ... and we all discover we can't. But if you've to choose
between Cantelupe and me, Horsham, I quite see you've no choice.

      HORSHAM _now takes the field, using his own weapons._

HORSHAM. Charles, it seems to me that we are somewhat in the position of men
who have overheard a private conversation. Do you feel justified in making
public use of it?

CANTELUPE. It is not I who am judge. God knows I would not sit in judgment
upon anyone.

TREBELL. Cantelupe, I'll take your personal judgment if you can give it me.

FARRANT. Good Lord, Cantelupe, didn't you sit in a cabinet with ... Well,
we're not here to rake up old scandals.

BLACKBOROUGH. I am concerned with the practical issue.

HORSHAM. We know, Blackborough. [_Having quelled the interruption he
proceeds._] Charles, you spoke, I think, of a mortal sin.

CANTELUPE. In spite of your lifted eyebrows at the childishness of the word.

HORSHAM. Theoretically, we must all wish to guide ourselves by eternal
truths. But you would admit, wouldn't you, that we can only deal with
temporal things?

CANTELUPE. [_Writhing slightly under the sceptical cross-examination._]
There are divine laws laid down for our guidance ... I admit no disbelief in
them.

HORSHAM. Do they place any time-limit to the effect of a mortal sin? If this
affair were twenty years old would you do as you are doing? Can you forecast
the opinion you will have of it six months hence?

CANTELUPE. [_Positively._] Yes.

HORSHAM. Can you? Nevertheless I wish you had postponed your decision even
till to-morrow.

      _Having made his point he looks round almost for approval._

BLACKBOROUGH. What had Percival to say on the subject, Farrant?

FARRANT. I was only to make use of his opinion under certain circumstances.

BLACKBOROUGH. So it isn't favourable to your remaining with us, Mr. Trebell.

FARRANT. [_Indignantly emerging from the trap._] I never said that.

      _Now_ TREBELL _gives the matter another turn, very forcefully._

TREBELL. Horsham ... I don't bow politely and stand aside at this juncture
as a gentleman should, because I want to know how the work's to be done if I
leave you what I was to do.

BLACKBOROUGH. Are we so incompetent?

TREBELL. I daresay not. I want to know ... that's all.

CANTELUPE. Please understand, Mr. Trebell, that I have in no way altered my
good opinion of your proposals.

BLACKBOROUGH. Well, I beg to remind you, Horsham, that from the first I've
reserved myself liberty to criticise fundamental points in the scheme.

HORSHAM. [_Pacifically._] Quite so ... quite so.

BLACKBOROUGH. That nonsensical new standard of teachers' salaries for one
thing ... you'd never pass it.

HORSHAM. Quite easily. It's an administrative point, so leave the
legislation vague. Then, as the appropriation money falls in, the
qualifications rise and the salaries rise. No one will object because no one
will appreciate it but administrators past or future ... and they never
cavil at money. [_He remains lost in the beauty of this prospect._]

TREBELL. Will you take charge of the bill, Blackborough?

BLACKBOROUGH. Are you serious?

HORSHAM. [_Brought to earth._] Oh no! [_He corrects himself smiling._] I
mean, my dear Blackborough, why not stick to the Colonies?

BLACKBOROUGH. You see, Trebell, there's still the possibility that O'Connell
may finally spike your gun to-morrow. You realise that, don't you?

TREBELL. Thank you. I quite realise that.

CANTELUPE. Can nothing further be done?

BLACKBOROUGH. Weren't we doing our best?

HORSHAM. Yes ... if we were bending our thoughts to that difficulty now....

TREBELL. [_Hardly._] May I ask you to interfere on my behalf no further?

FARRANT. My dear Trebell!

TREBELL. I assure you that I am interested in the Disestablishment Bill.

      _So they turn readily enough from the more uncomfortable part of their
      subject._

BLACKBOROUGH. Well ... here's Farrant.

FARRANT. I'm no good. Give me Agriculture.

BLACKBOROUGH. Pity you're in the Lords, Horsham.

TREBELL. Horsham, I'll devil for any man you choose to name ... feed him
sentence by sentence....

HORSHAM. That's impossible.

TREBELL. Well, what's to become of my bill? I want to know.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Casting his care on Providence._] We shall manage somehow.
Why, if you had died suddenly ... or let us say, never been born....

TREBELL. Then, Blackborough ... speaking as a dying man ... if you go back
on the integrity of this scheme, I'll haunt you. [_Having said this with
some finality, he turns his back._]

CANTELUPE. Cyril, I agree with what Trebell is saying. Whatever happens
there must be no tampering with the comprehensiveness of the scheme.
Remember you are in the hands of the extremists ... on both sides. I won't
support a compromise on one ... nor will they on the other.

HORSHAM. Well, I'll confess to you candidly, Trebell, that I don't know of
any man available for this piece of work but you.

TREBELL. Then I should say it would be almost a relief to you if O'Connell
tells on me to-morrow.

FARRANT. We seem to have got off that subject altogether. [_There comes a
portentous tap at the door._] Good Lord!... I'm getting jumpy.

HORSHAM. Excuse me.

      _A note is handed to him through the half opened door; and obviously
      it is at_ EDMUNDS _whom he frowns. Then he returns fidgetting for his
      glasses._

Oh, it turns out ... I'm so sorry you were blundered in here, Trebell ...
this man ... what's his name ... Edwards ... had been reading the papers and
thought it was a cabinet council ... seemed proud of himself. This is from
Wedgecroft ... scribbled in a messenger office. I never can read his writing
... it's like prescriptions. Can you?

      _It has gradually dawned on the three men and then on_ TREBELL _what
      this note may have in it._ FARRANT _hand even trembles a little as he
      takes it. He gathers the meaning himself and looks at the others with
      a smile before he reads the few words aloud._

FARRANT. "All right. He has promised."

BLACKBOROUGH. O'Connell?

FARRANT. Thank God. [_He turns enthusiastically to_ TREBELL _who stands
rigid._] My dear fellow ... I hope you know how glad I am.

CANTELUPE. I am very glad.

BLACKBOROUGH. Of course we're all very glad indeed, Trebell ... very glad we
persuaded him.

FARRANT. That's dead and buried now, isn't it?

      TREBELL _moves away from them all and leaves them wondering. When he
      turns round his face is as hard as ever; his voice, if possible,
      harder._

TREBELL. But, Horsham, returning to the more important question ... you've
taken trouble, and O'Connell's to perjure himself for nothing if you still
can't get me into your child's puzzle ... to make the pretty picture that a
Cabinet should be.

      HORSHAM _looks at_ BLACKBOROUGH _and scents danger._

HORSHAM. We shall all be glad, I am sure, to postpone any further
discussion....

TREBELL. I shall not.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Encouragingly._] Quite so, Trebell. We're on the subject,
and it won't discount our pleasure that you're out of this mess, to continue
it. This habit of putting off the hour of disagreement is ... well, Horsham,
it's contrary to my business instincts.

TREBELL. If one time's as good as another for you ... this moment is better
than most for me.

HORSHAM. [_A little irritated at the wantonness of this dispute._] There is
nothing before us on which we are capable of coming to any decision ... in a
technical sense.

BLACKBOROUGH. That's a quibble. [_Poor_ HORSHAM _gasps._] I'm not going to
pretend either now or in a month's time that I think Trebell anything but a
most dangerous acquisition to the party. I pay you a compliment in that,
Trebell. Now, Horsham proposes that we should go to the country when
Disestablishment's through.

HORSHAM. It's the condition of Nonconformist support.

BLACKBOROUGH. One condition. Then you'd leave us, Trebell?

HORSHAM. I hope not.

BLACKBOROUGH. And carry with you the credit of our one big measure. Consider
the effect upon our reputation with the Country.

FARRANT. [_Waking to_ BLACKBOROUGH'S _line of action._] Why on earth should
you leave us, Trebell? You've hardly been a Liberal, even in name.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Vigorously making his point._] Then what would be the
conditions of your remaining? You're not a party man, Trebell. You haven't
the true party feeling. You are to be bought. Of course you take your price
in measures, not in money. But you are preeminently a man of ideas ... an
expert. And a man of ideas is often a grave embarrassment to a government.

HORSHAM. And vice-versa ... vice-versa!

TREBELL. [_Facing_ BLACKBOROUGH _across the room._] Do I understand that you
for the good of the Tory party ... just as Cantelupe for the good of his
soul ... will refuse to sit in a cabinet with me.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Unembarrassed._] I don't commit myself to saying that.

CANTELUPE. No, Trebell ... it's that I must believe your work could not
prosper ... in God's way.

      TREBELL _softens to his sincerity._

TREBELL. Cantelupe, I quite understand. You may be right ... it's a very
interesting question. Blackborough, I take it that you object first of all
to the scheme that I'm bringing you.

BLACKBOROUGH. I object to those parts of it which I don't think you'll get
through the House.

FARRANT. [_Feeling that he must take part._] For instance?

BLACKBOROUGH. I've given you one already.

CANTELUPE. [_His eye on_ BLACKBOROUGH.] Understand there are things in that
scheme we must stand or fall by.

      _Suddenly_ TREBELL _makes for the door_, HORSHAM _gets up
      concernedly._

TREBELL. Horsham, make up your mind to-night whether you can do with me or
not. I have to see Percival again to-morrow ... we cut short our argument at
the important point. Good-bye ... don't come down. Will you decide to-night?

HORSHAM. I have made up my own mind.

TREBELL. Is that sufficient?

HORSHAM. A collective decision is a matter of development.

TREBELL. Well, I shall expect to hear.

HORSHAM. By hurrying one only reaches a rash conclusion.

TREBELL. Then be rash for once and take the consequences. Good-night.

      _He is gone before_ HORSHAM _can compose another epigram._

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Deprecating such conduct._] Lost his temper!

FARRANT. [_Ruffling considerably._] Horsham, if Trebell is to be hounded out
of your cabinet ... he won't go alone.

HORSHAM. [_Bitter-sweet._] My dear Farrant ... I have yet to form my
cabinet.

CANTELUPE. You are forming it to carry disestablishment, are you not, Cyril?
Therefore you will form it in the best interests of the best scheme
possible.

HORSHAM. Trebell was and is the best man I know of for the purpose. I'm a
little weary of saying that.

      _He folds his arms and awaits further developments. After a moment_
      CANTELUPE _gets up as if to address a meeting._

CANTELUPE. Then if you would prefer not to include me ... I shall feel
justified in giving independent support to a scheme I have great faith in.
[_And he sits down again._]

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Impatiently._] My dear Cantelupe, if you think Horsham can
form a disestablishment cabinet to include Trebell and exclude you, you're
vastly mistaken. I for one....

FARRANT. But do both of you consider how valuable, how vital Trebell is to
us just at this moment? The Radicals trust him....

BLACKBOROUGH. They hate him.

HORSHAM. [_Elucidating._] Their front bench hates him because he turned them
out. The rest of them hate their front bench. After six years of office, who
wouldn't?

BLACKBOROUGH. That's true.

FARRANT. Oh, of course, we must stick to Trebell, Blackborough.

      BLACKBOROUGH _is silent; so_ HORSHAM _turns his attention to his
      cousin._

HORSHAM. Well, Charles, I won't ask you for a decision now. I know how hard
it is to accept the dictates of other men's consciences ... but a necessary
condition of all political work; believe me.

CANTELUPE. [_Uneasily._] You can form your cabinet without me, Cyril.

      _At this_ BLACKBOROUGH _charges down on them, so to speak._

BLACKBOROUGH. No, I tell you, I'm damned if he can. Leaving the whole high
church party to blackmail all they can out of us and vote how they like!
Here ... I've got my Yorkshire people to think of. I can bargain for them
with you in a cabinet ... not if you've the pull of being out of it.

HORSHAM. [_With charming insinuation._] And have you calculated,
Blackborough, what may become of us if Trebell has the pull of being out of
it?

      BLACKBOROUGH _makes a face._

BLACKBOROUGH. Yes ... I suppose he might turn nasty.

FARRANT. I should hope he would.

BLACKBOROUGH.[_Tackling_ FARRANT _with great ease._] I should hope he would
consider the matter not from the personal, but from the political point of
view ... as I am trying to do.

HORSHAM. [_Tasting his epigram with enjoyment._] Introspection is the only
bar to such an honourable endeavour, [BLACKBOROUGH _gapes._] You don't
suffer from that as--for instance--Charles here, does.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Pugnaciously._] D'you mean I'm just pretending not to attack
him personally?

HORSHAM. [_Safe on his own ground._] It's only a curious metaphysical point.
Have you never noticed your distaste for the colour of a man's hair
translate itself ultimately into an objection to his religious opinions ...
or what not? I am sure--for instance--I could trace Charles's scruples about
sitting in a cabinet with Trebell back to a sort of academic reverence for
women generally which he possesses. I am sure I could ... if he were not
probably now doing it himself. But this does not make the scruples less
real, less religious, or less political. We must be humanly biased in
expression ... or not express ourselves.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Whose thoughts have wandered._] The man's less of a danger
than he was ... I mean he'll be alone. The Liberals won't have him back. He
smashed his following there to come over to us.

FARRANT. [_Giving a further meaning to this._] Yes, Blackborough, he did.

BLACKBOROUGH. To gain his own ends! Oh, my dear Horsham, can't you see that
if O'Connell had blabbed to-morrow it really would have been a blessing in
disguise? I don't pretend to Cantelupe's standard ... but there must be
something radically wrong with a man who could get himself into such a mess
as that ... now mustn't there? Ah! ... you have a fatal partiality for
clever people. I tell you ... though this might be patched up ... Trebell
would fail us in some other way before we were six months older.

      _This speech has its effect; but_ HORSHAM _looks at him a little
      sternly._

HORSHAM. And am I to conclude that you don't want Charles to change his
mind?

BLACKBOROUGH. [_On another tack._] Farrant has not yet allowed us to hear
Percival's opinion.

FARRANT _looks rather alarmed._

FARRANT. It has very little reference to the scandal.

BLACKBOROUGH. As that is at an end ... all the more reason we should hear
it.

HORSHAM. [_Ranging himself with_ FARRANT.] I called this quite informal
meeting, Blackborough, only to dispose of the scandal, if possible.

BLACKBOROUGH. Well, of course, if Farrant chooses to insult Percival so
gratuitously by burking his message to us....

      _There is an unspoken threat in this_, HORSHAM _sees it and without
      disguising his irritation...._

HORSHAM. Let us have it, Farrant.

FARRANT. [_With a sort of puzzled discontent._] Well ... I never got to
telling him of the O'Connell affair at all. He started talking to me ...
saying that he couldn't for a moment agree to Trebell's proposals for the
finance of his bill ... I couldn't get a word in edgeways. Then his wife
came up....

      HORSHAM _takes something in this so seriously that he actually
      interrupts._

HORSHAM. Does he definitely disagree? What is his point?

FARRANT. He says Disestablishment's a bad enough speculation for the party
as it is.

BLACKBOROUGH. It is inevitable.

FARRANT. He sees that. But then he says ... to go to the country again
having bolstered up Education and quarrelled with everybody will be bad
enough ... to go having spent fifty millions on it will dish us all for our
lifetimes.

HORSHAM. What does he propose?

FARRANT. He'll offer to draft another bill and take it through himself. He
says ... do as many good turns as we can with the money ... don't put it all
on one horse.

BLACKBOROUGH. He's your man, Horsham. That's one difficulty settled.

      HORSHAM'S _thoughts are evidently beyond_ BLACKBOROUGH, _beyond the
      absent_ PERCIVAL _even._

HORSHAM. Oh ... any of us could carry that sort of a bill.

      CANTELUPE _has heard this last passage with nothing less than horror
      and pale anger, which he contains no longer._

CANTELUPE. I won't have this. I won't have this opportunity frittered away
for party purposes.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Expostulating reasonably._] My dear Cantelupe ... you'll get
whatever you think it right for the Church to have. You carry a solid thirty
eight votes with you.

      HORSHAM'S _smooth voice intervenes. He speaks with finesse._

HORSHAM. Percival, as an old campaigner, expresses himself very roughly. The
point is, that we are after all only the trustees of the party. If we know
that a certain step will decimate it ... clearly we have no right to take
the step.

CANTELUPE. [_Glowing to white heat._] Is this a time to count the
consequences to ourselves?

HORSHAM. [_Unkindly._] By your action this evening, Charles, you evidently
think not. [_He salves the wound._] No matter, I agree with you ... the
bill should be a comprehensive one, whoever brings it in.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Not without enjoyment of the situation._] Whoever brings it
in will have to knuckle under to Percival over its finance.

FARRANT. Trebell won't do that. I warned Percival.

HORSHAM. Then what did he say?

FARRANT. He only swore.

      HORSHAM _suddenly becomes peevish._

HORSHAM. I think, Farrant, you should have given me this message before.

FARRANT. My dear Horsham, what had it to do with our request to O'Connell?

HORSHAM. [_Scolding the company generally._] Well then, I wish he hadn't
sent it. I wish we were not discussing these points at all. The proper time
for them is at a cabinet meeting. And when we have actually assumed the
responsibilities of government ... then threats of resignation are not
things to be played about with.

FARRANT. Did you expect Percival's objection to the finance of the scheme?

HORSHAM. Perhaps ... perhaps. I knew Trebell was to see him last Tuesday. I
expect everybody's objections to any parts of every scheme to come at a time
when I am in a proper position to reconcile them ... not now.

      _Having vented his grievances he sits down to recover._ BLACKBOROUGH
      _takes advantage of the ensuing pause._

BLACKBOROUGH. It isn't so easy for me to speak against Trebell, since he
evidently dislikes me personally as much as I dislike him ... but I'm sure
I'm doing my duty. Horsham ... here you have Cantelupe who won't stand in
with the man, and Percival who won't stand in with his measure, while I
would sooner stand in with neither. Isn't it better to face the situation
now than take trouble to form the most makeshift of Cabinets, and if that
doesn't go to pieces, be voted down in the House by your own party?

      _There is an oppressive silence,_ HORSHAM _is sulky. The matter is
      beyond_ FARRANT. CANTELUPE _whose agonies have expressed themselves in
      slight writhings, at last, with an effort, writhes himself to his
      feet._

CANTELUPE. I think I am prepared to reconsider my decision.

FARRANT. That's all right then!

      _He looks round wonderingly for the rest of the chorus to find that
      neither_ BLACKBOROUGH _nor_ HORSHAM _have stirred._

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Stealthily._] Is it, Horsham?

HORSHAM. [_Sotto voce._] Why did you ever make it?

      BLACKBOROUGH _leaves him for_ CANTELUPE.

BLACKBOROUGH. You're afraid for the integrity of the bill.

CANTELUPE. It must be comprehensive ... that's vital. BLACKBOROUGH. [_Very
forcefully._] I give you my word to support its integrity, if you'll keep
with me in persuading Horsham that the inclusion of Trebell in his cabinet
will be a blow to the whole Conservative Cause. Horsham, I implore you not
to pursue this short-sighted policy. All parties have made up their minds to
Disestablishment ... surely nothing should be easier than to frame a bill
which will please all parties.

FARRANT. [_At last perceiving the drift of all this._] But good Lord,
Blackborough ... now Cantelupe has come round and will stand in ...

BLACKBOROUGH. That's no longer the point. And what's all this nonsense about
going to the country again next year?

HORSHAM. [_Mildly._] After consulting me Percival said at Bristol....

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Quite unchecked._] I know. But if we pursue a thoroughly
safe policy and the bye-elections go right ... there need be no vote of
censure carried for three or four years. The Radicals want a rest with the
country and they know it. And one has no right, what's more, to go wantonly
plunging the country into the expenses of these constant general elections.
It ruins trade.

FARRANT. [_Forlornly sticking to his point._] What has all this to do with
Trebell?

HORSHAM. [_Thoughtfully._] Farrant, beyond what you've told us, Percival
didn't recommend me to throw him over.

FARRANT. No, he didn't ... that is, he didn't exactly.

HORSHAM. Well ... he didn't?

FARRANT. I'm trying to be accurate! [_Obviously their nerves are now on
edge._] He said we should find him tough to assimilate--as he warned you.

      HORSHAM _with knit brows, loses himself in thought again,_
      BLACKBOROUGH _quietly turns his attention to_ FARRANT.

BLACKBOROUGH. Farrant, you don't seriously think that ... outside his
undoubted capabilities ... Trebell is an acquisition to the party?

FARRANT. [_Unwillingly._] Perhaps not. But if you're going to chuck a man
... don't chuck him when he's down.

BLACKBOROUGH. He's no longer down. We've got him O'Connell's promise and
jolly grateful he ought to be. I think the least we can do is to keep our
minds clear between Trebell's advantage and the party's.

CANTELUPE. [_From the distant music-stool._] And the party's and the
Country's.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Countering quite deftly._] Cantelupe, either we think it
best for the country to have our party in power or we don't.

FARRANT. [_In judicious temper._] Certainly, I don't feel our responsibility
towards him is what it was ten minutes ago. The man has other careers
besides his political one.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Ready to praise._] Clever as paint at the Bar--best Company
lawyer we've got.

CANTELUPE. It is not what he loses, I think ... but what we lose in losing
him.

      _He says this so earnestly that_ HORSHAM _pays attention._

HORSHAM. No, my dear Charles, let us be practical. If his position with us
is to be made impossible it is better that he shouldn't assume it.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Soft and friendly._] How far are you actually pledged to
him?

      HORSHAM _looks up with the most ingenuous of smiles._

HORSHAM. That's always such a difficult sort of point to determine, isn't
it? He thinks he is to join us. But I've not yet been commanded to form a
cabinet. If neither you--nor Percival--nor perhaps others will work with him
... what am I to do? [_He appeals to them generally to justify this
attitude._]

BLACKBOROUGH. He no longer thinks he's to join us ... it's the question he
left us to decide.

      _He leaves_ HORSHAM, _whose perplexity is diminishing._ FARRANT _makes
      an effort._

FARRANT. But the scandal won't weaken his position with us now. There won't
be any scandal ... there won't, Blackborough.

HORSHAM. There may be. Though, I take it we're all guiltless of having
mentioned the matter.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_Very detached._] I've only known of it since I came into
this house ... but I shall not mention it.

FARRANT. Oh, I'm afraid my wife knows. [_He adds hastily._] My fault ... my
fault entirely.

BLACKBOROUGH. I tell you Rumour's electric.

      HORSHAM _has turned to_ FARRANT _with a sweet smile and with the air
      of a man about to be relieved of all responsibility._

HORSHAM. What does she say?

FARRANT. [_As one speaks of a nice woman._] She was horrified.

HORSHAM. Of course. [_Once more he finds refuge and comfort on the
hearthrug, to say, after a moment, with fine resignation._] I suppose I must
let him go.

CANTELUPE. [_On his feet again._] Cyril!

HORSHAM. Yes, Charles?

      _With this query he turns an accusing eye on_ CANTELUPE, _who is
      silenced._

BLACKBOROUGH. Have you made up your mind to that?

FARRANT. [_In great distress._] You're wrong, Horsham. [_Then in greater._]
That is ... I think you're wrong.

HORSHAM. I'd sooner not let him know to-night.

BLACKBOROUGH. But he asked you to.

HORSHAM. [_All show of resistance gone._] Did he? Then I suppose I must.
[_He sighs deeply._]

BLACKBOROUGH. Then I'll get back to Aylesbury.

      _He picks up his motor-cap from the table and settles it on his head
      with immense aplomb._

HORSHAM. So late?

BLACKBOROUGH. Really one can get along quicker at night if one knows the
road. You're in town, aren't you, Farrant? Shall I drop you at Grosvenor
Square?

FARRANT. [_Ungraciously._] Thank you.

BLACKBOROUGH. [_With a conqueror's geniality._] I don't mind telling you
now, Horsham, that ever since we met at Shapters I've been wondering how
you'd escape from this association with Trebell. Thought he was being very
clever when he crossed the House to us! It's needed a special providence.
You'd never have got a cabinet together to include him.

HORSHAM. [_With much intention._] No.

FARRANT. [_Miserably.]_ Yes, I suppose that intrigue was a mistake from the
beginning.

BLACKBOROUGH. Well, good-night. [_As he turns to go he finds_ CANTELUPE
_upright, staring very sternly at him._] Good-night, Cantelupe.

CANTELUPE. From what motives have we thrown Trebell over?

BLACKBOROUGH. Never mind the motives if the move is the right one. [_Then he
nods at_ HORSHAM.] I shall be up again next week if you want me.

      _And he flourishes out of the room; a man who has done a good hour's
      work_, FARRANT, _who has been mooning depressedly around, now backs
      towards the door._

FARRANT. In one way, of course, Trebell won't care a damn. I mean, he knows
as well as we do that office isn't worth having ... he has never been a
place-hunter. On the other hand ... what with one thing and the other ...
Blackborough is a sensible fellow. I suppose it can't be helped.

HORSHAM. Blackborough will tell you so. Good-night.

      _So_ FARRANT _departs, leaving the two cousins together._ CANTELUPE
      _has not moved and now faces_ HORSHAM _just as accusingly._

CANTELUPE. Cyril, this is tragic.

HORSHAM. [_More to himself than in answer._] Yes ... most annoying.

CANTELUPE. Lucifer, son of the morning! Why is it always the highest who
fall?

      HORSHAM _shies fastidiously at this touch of poetry._

HORSHAM. No, my dear Charles, let us above all things keep our mental
balance. Trebell is a most capable fellow. I'd set my heart on having him
with me ... he'll be most awkward to deal with in opposition. But we shall
survive his loss and so would the country.

CANTELUPE. [_Desperately._] Cyril, promise me there shall be no compromise
over this measure.

HORSHAM. [_Charmingly candid._] No ... no unnecessary compromise, I promise
you.

CANTELUPE. [_With a sigh._] If we had done what we have done to-night in
the right spirit! Blackborough was almost vindictive.

HORSHAM. [_Smiling without amusement._] Didn't you keep thinking ... I did
... of that affair of his with Mrs. Parkington ... years ago?

CANTELUPE. There was never any proof of it.

HORSHAM. No ... he bought off the husband.

CANTELUPE. [_Uneasily._] His objections to Trebell were--political.

HORSHAM. Yours weren't.

CANTELUPE. [_More uneasily still._] I withdrew mine.

HORSHAM. [_With elderly reproof._] I don't think, Charles, you have the
least conception of what a nicely balanced machine a cabinet is.

CANTELUPE. [_Imploring comfort._] But should we have held together through
Trebell's bill?

HORSHAM. [_A little impatient._] Perhaps not. But once I had them all round
a table ... Trebell is very keen on office for all his independent airs ...
he and Percival could have argued the thing out. However, it's too late now.

CANTELUPE. Is it?

      _For a moment_ HORSHAM _is tempted to indulge in the luxury of
      changing his mind; but he puts Satan behind him with a shake of the
      head._

HORSHAM. Well, you see ... Percival I can't do without. Now that
Blackborough knows of his objections to the finance he'd go to him and take
Chisholm and offer to back them up. I know he would ... he didn't take
Farrant away with him for nothing. [_Then he flashes out rather shrilly._]
It's Trebell's own fault. He ought not to have committed himself definitely
to any scheme until he was safely in office. I warned him about Percival ...
I warned him not to be explicit. One cannot work with men who will make up
their minds prematurely. No, I shall not change my mind. I shall write to
him.

      _He goes firmly to his writing desk leaving_ CANTELUPE _forlorn._

CANTELUPE. What about a messenger?

HORSHAM. Not at this time of night. I'll post it.

CANTELUPE. I'll post it as I go.

      _He seeks comfort again in the piano and this time starts to play,
      with one finger and some hesitation, the first bars of a Bach fugue_,
      HORSHAM'S _pen-nib is disappointing him and the letter is not easy to
      phrase._

HORSHAM. But I hate coming to immediate decisions. The administrative part
of my brain always tires after half an hour. Does yours, Charles?

CANTELUPE. What do you think Trebell will do now?

HORSHAM. [_A little grimly._] Punish us all he can.

      _On reaching the second voice in the fugue_ CANTELUPE'S _virtuosity
      breaks down._

CANTELUPE. All that ability turned to destructiveness ... what a pity!
That's the paradox of human activities....

      _Suddenly_ HORSHAM _looks up and his face is lighted with a seraphic
      smile._

HORSHAM. Charles ... I wish we could do without Blackborough.

CANTELUPE. [_Struck with the idea._] Well ... why not?

HORSHAM. Yes ... I must think about it. [_They both get up, cheered
considerably._] You won't forget this, will you?

CANTELUPE. [_The letter in_ HORSHAM'S _hand accusing him._] No ... no. I
don't think I have been the cause of your dropping Trebell, have I?

      HORSHAM, _rid of the letter, is rid of responsibility and his charming
      equable self again. He comforts his cousin paternally._

HORSHAM. I don't think so. The split would have come when Blackborough
checkmated my forming a cabinet. It would have pleased him to do that ...
and he could have, over Trebell. But now that question's out of the way ...
you won't get such a bad measure with Trebell in opposition. He'll frighten
us into keeping it up to the mark, so to speak.

CANTELUPE. [_A little comforted._] But I shall miss one or two of those
ideas ...

HORSHAM. [_So pleasantly sceptical._] Do you think they'd have outlasted the
second reading? Dullness in the country one expects. Dullness in the House
one can cope with. But do you know, I have never sat in a cabinet yet that
didn't greet anything like a new idea in chilling silence.

CANTELUPE. Well, I should regret to have caused you trouble, Cyril.

HORSHAM. [_His hand on the other's shoulder._] Oh ... we don't take politics
so much to heart as that, I hope.

CANTELUPE. [_With sweet gravity._] I take politics very much to heart. Yes,
I know what you mean ... but that's the sort of remark that makes people
call you cynical. [HORSHAM _smiles as if at a compliment and starts with_
CANTELUPE _towards the door._ CANTELUPE, _who would not hurt his feelings,
changes the subject._] By the bye, I'm glad we met this evening! Do you hear
Aunt Mary wants to sell the Burford Holbein? Can she?

HORSHAM. [_Taking as keen, but no keener, an interest in this than in the
difficulty he has just surmounted._] Yes, by the will she can, but she
mustn't. Dear me, I thought I'd put a stop to that foolishness. Well now, we
must take that matter up very seriously ...

      _They go out talking arm in arm._



THE FOURTH ACT


At TREBELL'S again; later, the same evening.

_His room is in darkness but for the flicker the fire makes and the streaks
of moonlight between the curtains. The door is open, though, and you see the
light of the lamp on the stairs. You hear his footstep too. On his way he
stops to draw back the the curtains of the passage-way window; the moonlight
makes his face look very pale. Then he serves the curtains of his own window
the same; flings it open, moreover, and stands looking out. Something below
draws his attention. After leaning over the balcony with a short_ "Hullo"
_he goes quickly downstairs again. In a minute_ WEDGECROFT _comes up._
TREBELL _follows, pausing by the door a moment to light up the room._
WEDGECROFT _is radiant._

TREBELL. [_With a twist of his mouth._] Promised, has he?

WEDGECROFT. Suddenly broke out as we walked along, that he liked the look of
you and that men must stand by one another nowadays against these women.
Then he said good-night and walked away.

TREBELL. Back to Ireland and the thirteenth century.

WEDGECROFT. After to-morrow.

TREBELL. [_Taking all the meaning of to-morrow._] Yes. Are you in for
perjury, too?

WEDGECROFT. [_His thankfulness checked a little._] No ... not exactly.

      TREBELL _walks away from him._

TREBELL. It's a pity the truth isn't to be told, I think. I suppose the
verdict will be murder.

WEDGECROFT. They won't catch the man.

TREBELL. You don't mean ... me.

WEDGECROFT. No, no ... my dear fellow.

TREBELL. You might, you know. But nobody seems to see this thing as I see
it. If I were on that jury I'd say murder too and accuse ... so many
circumstances, Gilbert, that we should go home ... and look in the
cupboards. What a lumber of opinions we inherit and keep!

WEDGECROFT. [_Humouring him._] Ought we to burn the house down?

TREBELL. Rules and regulations for the preservation of rubbish are the laws
of England ... and I was adding to their number.

WEDGECROFT. And so you shall ... to the applause of a grateful country.

TREBELL. [_Studying his friend's kindly encouraging face._] Gilbert, it is
not so much that you're an incorrigible optimist ... but why do you subdue
your mind to flatter people into cheerfulness?

WEDGECROFT. I'm a doctor, my friend.

TREBELL. You're a part of our tendency to keep things alive by hook or by
crook ... not a spark but must be carefully blown upon. The world's old and
tired; it dreads extinction. I think I disapprove ... I think I've more
faith.

WEDGECROFT. [_Scolding him._] Nonsense ... you've the instinct to preserve
your life as everyone else has ... and I'm here to show you how.

TREBELL. [_Beyond the reach of his kindness._] I assure you that these two
days while you've been fussing around O'Connell--bless your kind heart--I've
been waiting events, indifferent enough to understand his indifference.

WEDGECROFT. Not indifferent.

TREBELL. Lifeless enough already, then. [_Suddenly a thought strikes him._]
D'you think it was Horsham and his little committee persuaded O'Connell?

WEDGECROFT. On the contrary.

TREBELL. So you need not have let them into the secret?

WEDGECROFT. No.

TREBELL. Think of that.

      _He almost laughs; but_ WEDGECROFT _goes on quite innocently._

WEDGECROFT. Yes ... I'm sorry.

TREBELL. Upsetting their moral digestion for nothing.

WEDGECROFT. But when O'Connell wouldn't listen to us we had to rope in the
important people.

TREBELL. With their united wisdom. [_Then he breaks away again into great
bitterness._] No ... what do they make of this woman's death? I saw them in
that room, Gilbert, like men seen through the wrong end of a telescope.
D'you think if the little affair with Nature ... her offence and mine
against the conveniences of civilization ... had ended in my death too ...
then they'd have stopped to wonder at the misuse and waste of the only force
there is in the world ... come to think of it, there is no other ... than
this desire for expression ... in words ... or through children. Would they
have thought of that and stopped whispering about the scandal?

      _Through this_ WEDGECROFT _has watched him very gravely._

WEDGECROFT. Trebell ... if the inquest to-morrow had put you out of action
...

TREBELL. Should I have grown a beard and travelled abroad and after ten
years timidly tried to climb my way back into politics? When public opinion
takes its heel from your face it keeps it for your finger-tips. After twenty
years to be forgiven by your more broad-minded friends and tolerated as a
dotard by a new generation....

WEDGECROFT. Nonsense. What age are you now ... forty-six ... forty-seven?

TREBELL. Well ... let's instance a good man. Gladstone had done his best
work by sixty-five. Then he began to be popular. Think of his last years of
oratory.

      _He has gone to his table and now very methodically starts to tidy his
      papers,_ WEDGECROFT _still watching him._

WEDGECROFT. You'd have had to thank Heaven for a little that there were more
lives than one to lead.

TREBELL. That's another of your faults, Gilbert ... it's a comfort just now
to enumerate them. You're an anarchist ... a kingdom to yourself. You make
little treaties with Truth and with Beauty, and what can disturb you? I'm a
part of the machine I believe in. If my life as I've made it is to be cut
short ... the rest of me shall walk out of the world and slam the door ...
with the noise of a pistol shot.

WEDGECROFT. [_Concealing some uneasiness._] Then I'm glad it's not to be cut
short. You and your cabinet rank and your disestablishment bill!

      TREBELL _starts to enjoy his secret._

TREBELL. Yes ... our minds have been much relieved within the last half
hour, haven't they?

WEDGECROFT. I scribbled Horsham a note in a messenger office and sent it as
soon as O'Connell had left me.

TREBELL. He'd be glad to get that.

WEDGECROFT. He has been most kind about the whole thing.

TREBELL. Oh, he means well.

WEDGECROFT. [_Following up his fancied advantage._] But, my friend ...
suicide whilst of unsound mind would never have done.... The hackneyed
verdict hits the truth, you know.

TREBELL. You think so?

WEDGECROFT. I don't say there aren't excuses enough in this miserable
world, but fundamentally ... no sane person will destroy life.

TREBELL. [_His thoughts shifting their plane._] Was she so very mad? I'm not
thinking of her own death.

WEDGECROFT. Don't brood, Trebell. Your mind isn't healthy yet about her
and--

TREBELL. And my child.

      _Even_ WEDGECROFT'S _kindness is at fault before the solemnity of
      this._

WEDGECROFT. Is that how you're thinking of it?

TREBELL. How else? It's very inexplicable ... this sense of fatherhood.
[_The eyes of his mind travel down--what vista of possibilities. Then he
shakes himself free._] Let's drop the subject. To finish the list of
shortcomings, you're a bit of an artist too ... therefore I don't think
you'll understand.

WEDGECROFT. [_Successfully decoyed into argument._] Surely an artist is a
man who understands.

TREBELL. Everything about life, but not life itself. That's where art fails
a man.

WEDGECROFT. That's where everything but living fails a man. [_Drifting into
introspection himself._] Yes, it's true. I can talk cleverly and I've
written a book ... but I'm barren. [_Then the healthy mind re-asserts
itself._] No, it's not true. Our thoughts are children ... and marry and
intermarry. And we're peopling the world ... not badly.

TREBELL. Well ... either life is too little a thing to matter or it's so big
that such specks of it as we may be are of no account. These are two points
of view. And then one has to consider if death can't be sometimes the last
use made of life.

      _There is a tone of menace in this which recalls_ WEDGECROFT _to the
      present trouble._

WEDGECROFT. I doubt the virtue of sacrifice ... or the use of it.

TREBELL. How else could I tell Horsham that my work matters? Does he think
so now?... not he.

WEDGECROFT. You mean if they'd had to throw you over?

      _Once again_ TREBELL _looks up with that secretive smile._

TREBELL. Yes ... if they'd had to.

WEDGECROFT. [_Unreasonably nervous, so he thinks._] My dear fellow, Horsham
would have thought it was the shame and disgrace if you'd shot yourself
after the inquest. That's the proper sentimental thing for you so-called
strong men to do on like occasions. Why, if your name were to come out
to-morrow, your best meaning friends would be sending you pistols by post,
requesting you to use them like a gentleman. Horsham would grieve over ten
dinner-tables in succession and then return to his philosophy. One really
mustn't waste a life trying to shock polite politicians. There'd even be a
suspicion of swagger in it.

TREBELL. Quite so ... the bomb that's thrown at their feet must be something
otherwise worthless.

      FRANCES _comes in quickly, evidently in search of her brother. Though
      she has not been crying, her eyes are wide with grief._

FRANCES. Oh, Henry ... I'm so glad you're still up. [_She notices_
WEDGECROFT.] How d'you do, Doctor?

TREBELL. [_Doubling his mask of indifference._] Meistersinger's over early.

FRANCES. Is it?

TREBELL. Not much past twelve yet.

FRANCES. [_The little gibe lost on her._] It was Tristan to-night. I'm quite
upset. I heard just as I was coming away ... Amy O'Connell's dead. [_Both
men hold their breath._ TREBELL _is the first to find control of his and
give the cue._]

TREBELL. Yes ... Wedgecroft has just told me.

FRANCES. She was only taken ill last week ... it's so extraordinary. [_She
remembers the doctor._] Oh ... have you been attending her?

WEDGECROFT. Yes.

FRANCES. I hear there's to be an inquest.

WEDGECROFT. Yes.

FRANCES. But what has been the matter?

TREBELL. [_Sharply forestalling any answer._] You'll know to-morrow.

FRANCES. [_The little snub almost bewildering her._] Anything private? I
mean....

TREBELL. No ... I'll tell you. Don't make Gilbert repeat a story twice....
He's tired with a good day's work.

WEDGECROFT. Yes ... I'll be getting away.

      FRANCES _never heeds this flash of a further meaning between the two
      men._

FRANCES. And I meant to have gone to see her to-day. Was the end very
sudden? Did her husband arrive in time?

WEDGECROFT. Yes.

FRANCES. They didn't get on ... he'll be frightfully upset.

      TREBELL _resists a hideous temptation to laugh._

WEDGECROFT. Good night, Trebell.

TREBELL. Good night, Gilbert. Many thanks.

      _There is enough of a caress in_ TREBELL'S _tone to turn_ FRANCES
      _towards their friend, a little remorseful for treating him so
      casually, now as always._

FRANCES. He's always thanking you. You're always doing things for him.

WEDGECROFT. Good night. [_Seeing the tears in her eyes._] Oh, don't grieve.

FRANCES. One shouldn't be sorry when people die, I know. But she liked me
more than I liked her ... [_This time_ TREBELL _does laugh, silently._] ...
so I somehow feel in her debt and unable to pay now.

TREBELL. [_An edge on his voice._] Yes ... people keep on dying at all
sorts of ages, in all sorts of ways. But we seem never to get used to it ...
narrow-minded as we are.

WEDGECROFT. Don't you talk nonsense.

TREBELL. [_One note sharper yet._] One should occasionally test one's sanity
by doing so. If we lived in the logical world we like to believe in, I could
also prove that black was white. As it is ... there are more ways of killing
a cat than hanging it.

WEDGECROFT. Had I better give you a sleeping draught?

FRANCES. Are you doctoring him for once? Henry, have you at last managed to
overwork yourself?

TREBELL. No ... I started the evening by a charming little dinner at the Van
Meyer's ... sat next to Miss Grace Cutler, who is writing a _vie intime_ of
Louis Quinze and engaged me with anecdotes of the same.

FRANCES. A champion of her sex, whom I do not like.

WEDGECROFT. She's writing such a book to prove that women are equal to
anything.

      _He goes towards the door and_ FRANCES _goes with him._ TREBELL _never
      turns his head._

TREBELL. I shall not come and open the door for you ... but mind you shut
it.

      FRANCES _comes back._

FRANCES. Henry ... this is dreadful about that poor little woman.

TREBELL. An unwelcome baby was arriving. She got some quack to kill her.

      _These exact words are like a blow in the face to her, from which,
      being a woman of brave common sense, she does not shrink._

TREBELL. What do you say to that?

      _She walks away from him, thinking painfully._

FRANCES. She had never had a child. There's the common-place thing to
say.... Ungrateful little fool! But....

TREBELL. If you had been in her place?

FRANCES. [_Subtly._] I have never made the mistake of marrying. She grew
frightened, I suppose. Not just physically frightened. How can a man
understand?

TREBELL. The fear of life ... do you think it was ... which is the beginning
of all evil?

FRANCES. A woman must choose what her interpretation of life is to be ... as
a man must too in his way ... as you and I have chosen, Henry.

TREBELL. [_Asking from real interest in her._] Was yours a deliberate choice
and do you never regret it?

FRANCES. [_Very simply and clearly._] Perhaps one does nothing quite
deliberately and for a definite reason. My state has its compensations ...
if one doesn't value them too highly. I've travelled in thought over all
this question. You mustn't blame a woman for wishing not to bear children.
But ... well, if one doesn't like the fruit one mustn't cultivate the
flower. And I suppose that saying condemns poor Amy ... condemned her to
death ... [_Then her face hardens as she concentrates her meaning._] and
brands most men as ... let's unsentimentally call it illogical, doesn't it?

      _He takes the thrust in silence._

TREBELL. Did you notice the light in my window as you came in?

FRANCES. Yes ... in both as I got out of the cab. Do you want the curtains
drawn back?

TREBELL. Yes ... don't touch them.

      _He has thrown himself into his chair by the fire. She lapses into
      thought again._

FRANCES. Poor little woman.

TREBELL. [_In deep anger._] Well, if women will be little and poor....

      _She goes to him and slips an arm over his shoulder._

FRANCES. What is it you're worried about ... if a mere sister may ask?

TREBELL. [_Into the fire._] I want to think. I haven't thought for years.

FRANCES. Why, you have done nothing else.

TREBELL. I've been working out problems in legal and political algebra.

FRANCES. You want to think of yourself.

TREBELL. Yes.

FRANCES. [_Gentle and ironic._] Have you ever, for one moment, thought in
that sense of anyone else?

TREBELL. Is that a complaint?

FRANCES. The first in ten years' housekeeping.

TREBELL. No, I never have ... but I've never thought selfishly either.

FRANCES. That's a paradox I don't quite understand.

TREBELL. Until women do they'll remain where they are ... and what they are.

FRANCES. Oh, I know you hate us.

TREBELL. Yes, dear sister, I'm afraid I do. And I hate your influence on men
... compromise, tenderness, pity, lack of purpose. Women don't know the
values of things, not even their own value.

      _For a moment she studies him, wonderingly._

FRANCES. I'll take up the counter-accusation to-morrow. Now I'm tired and
I'm going to bed. If I may insult you by mothering you, so should you. You
look tired and I've seldom seen you.

TREBELL. I'm waiting up for a message.

FRANCES. So late?

TREBELL. It's a matter of life and death.

FRANCES. Are you joking?

TREBELL. Yes. If you want to spoil me find me a book to read.

FRANCES. What will you have?

TREBELL. Huckleberry Finn. It's on a top shelf towards the end somewhere ...
or should be.

      _She finds the book. On her way back with it she stops and shivers._

FRANCES. I don't think I shall sleep to-night. Poor Amy O'Connell!

TREBELL. [_Curiously._] Are you afraid of death?

FRANCES. [_With humorous stoicism._] It will be the end of me, perhaps.

      _She gives him the book, with its red cover; the '86 edition, a boy's
      friend evidently. He fingers it familiarly._

TREBELL. Thank you. Mark Twain's a jolly fellow. He has courage ... comic
courage. That's what's wanted. Nothing stands against it. You be-little
yourself by laughing ... then all this world and the last and the next grow
little too ... and so you grow great again. Switch off some light, will you?

FRANCES. [_Clicking off all but his reading lamp._] So?

TREBELL. Thanks. Good night, Frankie.

      _She turns at the door, with a glad smile._

FRANCES. Good night. When did you last use that nursery name?

      _Then she goes, leaving him still fingering the book, but looking into
      the fire and far beyond. Behind him through the open window one sees
      how cold and clear the night is._

       *       *       *       *       *

      _At eight in the morning he is still here. His lamp is out, the fire
      is out and the book laid aside. The white morning light penetrates
      every crevice of the room and shows every line on_ TREBELL'S _face.
      The spirit of the man is strained past all reason. The door opens
      suddenly and_ FRANCES _comes in, troubled, nervous. Interrupted in her
      dressing, she has put on some wrap or other._

FRANCES. Henry ... Simpson says you've not been to bed all night.

      _He turns his head and says with inappropriate  politeness_--

TREBELL. No. Good morning.

FRANCES. Oh, my dear ... what is wrong?

TREBELL. The message hasn't come ... and I've been thinking.

FRANCES. Why don't you tell me? [_He turns his head away._] I think you
haven't the right to torture me.

TREBELL. Your sympathy would only blind me towards the facts I want to face.

      SIMPSON, _the maid, undisturbed in her routine, brings in the
      morning's letters._ FRANCES _rounds on her irritably._

FRANCES. What is it, Simpson?

MAID. The letters, Ma'am.

TREBELL _is on his feet at that._

TREBELL. Ah ... I want them.

FRANCES. [_Taking the letters composedly enough._] Thank you.

      SIMPSON _departs and_ TREBELL _comes to her for his letters. She looks
      at him with baffled affection._

FRANCES. Can I do nothing? Oh, Henry!

TREBELL. Help me to open my letters.

FRANCES. Don't you leave them to Mr. Kent?

TREBELL. Not this morning.

FRANCES. But there are so many.

TREBELL. [_For the first time lifting his voice from its dull monotony._]
What a busy man I was.

FRANCES. Henry ... you're a little mad.

TREBELL. Do you find me so? That's interesting.

FRANCES. [_With the ghost of a smile._] Well ... maddening.

      _By this time he is sitting at his table; she near him watching
      closely. They halve the considerable post and start to open it._

TREBELL. We arrange them in three piles ... personal ... political ... and
preposterous.

FRANCES. This is an invitation ... the Anglican League.

TREBELL. I can't go.

      _She looks sideways at him, as he goes on mechanically tearing the
      envelopes._

FRANCES. I heard you come upstairs about two o'clock.

TREBELL. That was to dip my head in water. Then I made an instinctive
attempt to go to bed ... got my tie off even.

FRANCES. [_Her anxiety breaking out._] If you'd tell me that you're only
ill....

TREBELL. [_Forbiddingly commonplace._] What's that letter? Don't fuss ...
and remember that abnormal conduct is sometimes quite rational.

      FRANCES _returns to her task with misty eyes._

FRANCES. It's from somebody whose son can't get into something.

TREBELL. The third heap ... Kent's ... the preposterous. [_Talking on with
steady monotony._] But I saw it would not do to interrupt that logical train
of thought which reached definition about half past six. I had then been
gleaning until you came in.

FRANCES. [_Turning the neat little note in her hand._] This is from Lord
Horsham. He writes his name small at the bottom of the envelope.

TREBELL. [_Without a tremor._] Ah ... give it me.

      _He opens this as he has opened the others, carefully putting the
      envelope to one side._ FRANCES _has ceased for the moment to watch
      him._

FRANCES. That's Cousin Robert's handwriting. [_She puts a square envelope at
his hand._] Is a letter marked private from the Education Office political
or personal?

      _By this he has read_ HORSHAM'S _letter twice. So he tears it up and
      speaks very coldly._

TREBELL. Either. It doesn't matter.

      _In the silence her fears return._

FRANCES. Henry, it's a foolish idea ... I suppose I have it because I hardly
slept for thinking of her. Your trouble is nothing to do with Amy O'Connell,
is it?

TREBELL. [_His voice strangled in his throat._] Her child should have been
my child too.

FRANCES. [_Her eyes open, the whole landscape of her mind suddenly clear._]
Oh, I ... no, I didn't think so ... but....

TREBELL. [_Dealing his second blow as remorselessly as dealt to him._] Also
I'm not joining the new Cabinet, my dear sister.

FRANCES. [_Her thoughts rushing now to the present--the future._] Not!
Because of...? Do people know? Will they...? You didn't...?

      _As mechanically as ever he has taken up_ COUSIN ROBERT'S _letter and,
      in some sense, read it. Now he recapitulates, meaninglessly, that his
      voice may just deaden her pain and his own._

TREBELL. Robert says ... that we've not been to see them for some time ...
but that now I'm a greater man than ever I must be very busy. The vicarage
has been painted and papered throughout and looks much fresher. Mary sends
you her love and hopes you have no return of the rheumatism. And he would
like to send me the proof sheets of his critical commentary on First Timothy
... for my alien eye might possibly detect some logical lapses. Need he
repeat to me his thankfulness at my new attitude upon Disestablishment ...
or assure me again that I have his prayers. Could we not go and stay there
only for a few days? Possibly his opinion--

      _She has borne this cruel kindness as long as she can and she breaks
      out...._

FRANCES. Oh ... don't ... don't!

      _He falls from his seeming callousness to the very blankness of
      despair._

TREBELL. No, we'll leave that ... and the rest ... and everything.

      _Her agony passes._

FRANCES. What do you mean to do?

TREBELL. There's to be no public scandal.

FRANCES. Why has Lord Horsham thrown you over then ... or hasn't that
anything to do with it?

TREBELL. It has to do with it.

FRANCES. [_Lifting her voice; some tone returning to it._] Unconsciously ...
I've known for years that this sort of thing might happen to you.

TREBELL. Why?

FRANCES. Power over men and women and contempt for them! Do you think they
don't take their revenge sooner or later?

TREBELL. Much good may it do them!

FRANCES. Human nature turns against you ... by instinct ... in self-defence.

TREBELL. And my own human-nature!

FRANCES. [_Shocked into great pity, by his half articulate pain._] Yes ...
you must have loved her, Henry ... in some odd way. I'm sorry for you both.

TREBELL. I'm hating her now ... as a man can only hate his own silliest
vices.

FRANCES. [_Flashing into defence._] That's wrong of you. If you thought of
her only as a pretty little fool.... Bearing your child ... all her womanly
life belonged to you ... and for that time there was no other sort of life
in her. So she became what you thought her.

TREBELL. That's not true.

FRANCES. It's true enough ... it's true of men towards women. You can't
think of them through generations as one thing and then suddenly find them
another.

TREBELL. [_Hammering at his fixed idea._] She should have brought that child
into the world.

FRANCES. You didn't love her enough!

TREBELL. I didn't love her at all.

FRANCES. Then why should she value your gift?

TREBELL. For its own sake.

FRANCES. [_Turning away._] It's hopeless ... you don't understand.

TREBELL. [_Helpless; almost like a deserted child._] I've been trying to ...
all through the night.

FRANCES. [_Turning back enlightened a little._] That's more the trouble then
than the Cabinet question?

      _He shakes himself to his feet and begins to pace the room; his
      keenness coming back to him, his brow knitting again with the delight
      of thought._

TREBELL. Oh ... as to me against the world ... I'm fortified with comic
courage. [_Then turning on her like any examining professor._] Now which do
you believe ... that Man is the reformer, or that the Time brings forth such
men as it needs and lobster-like can grow another claw?

FRANCES. [_Watching this new mood carefully._] I believe that you'll be
missed from Lord Horsham's Cabinet.

TREBELL. The hand-made statesman and his hand-made measure! They were out of
place in that pretty Tory garden. Those men are the natural growth of the
time. Am I?

FRANCES. Just as much. And wasn't your bill going to be such a good piece of
work? That can't be thrown away ... wasted.

TREBELL. Can one impose a clever idea upon men and women? I wonder.

FRANCES. That rather begs the question of your very existence, doesn't it?

      _He comes to a standstill._

TREBELL. I know.

      _His voice shows her that meaning in her words and beyond it a threat.
      She goes to him, suddenly shaking with fear._

FRANCES. Henry, I didn't mean that.

TREBELL. You think I've a mind to put an end to that same?

FRANCES. [_Belittling her fright._] No ... for how unreasonable....

TREBELL. In view of my promising past. I've stood for success, Fanny; I
still stand for success. I could still do more outside the Cabinet than the
rest of them, inside, will do. But suddenly I've a feeling the work would be
barren. [_His eyes shift beyond her; beyond the room._] What is it in your
thoughts and actions which makes them bear fruit? Something that the
roughest peasant may have in common with the best of us intellectual men ...
something that a dog might have. It isn't successful cleverness.

      _She stands ... his trouble beyond her reach._

FRANCES. Come now ... you've done very well with your life.

TREBELL. Do you know how empty I feel of all virtue at this moment?

      _He leaves her. She must bring him back to the plane on which she can
      help him._

FRANCES. We must think what's best to be done ... now ... and for the
future.

TREBELL. Why, I could go on earning useless money at the Bar ... think how
nice that would be. I could blackmail the next judgeship out of Horsham. I
think I could even smash his Disestablishment Bill ... and perhaps get into
the next Liberal Cabinet and start my own all over again, with necessary
modifications. I shan't do any such things.

FRANCES. No one knows about you and poor Amy?

TREBELL. Half a dozen friends. Shall I offer to give evidence at the inquest
this morning?

FRANCES. [_With a little shiver._] They'll say bad enough things about her
without your blackening her good name.

      _Without warning, his anger and anguish break out again._

TREBELL. All she had ... all there is left of her! She was a nothingness ...
silly ... vain. And I gave her this power over me!

      _He is beaten, exhausted. Now she goes to him, motherlike._

FRANCES. My dear, listen to me for a little. Consider that as a sorrow and
put it behind you. And think now ... whatever love there may be between us
has neither hatred nor jealousy in it, has it, Henry? Since I'm not a
mistress or a friend but just the likest fellow-creature to you ... perhaps.

TREBELL. [_Putting out his hand for hers._] Yes, my sister. What I've wanted
to feel for vague humanity has been what I should have felt for you ... if
you'd ever made a single demand on me.

      _She puts her arms round him; able to speak._

FRANCES. Let's go away somewhere ... I'll make demands. I need refreshing as
much as you. My joy of life has been withered in me ... oh, for a long time
now. We must kiss the earth again ... take interest in common things, common
people. There's so much of the world we don't know. There's air to breathe
everywhere. Think of the flowers in a Tyrol valley in the early spring. One
can walk for days, not hurrying, as soon as the passes are open. And the
people are kind. There's Italy ... there's Russia full of simple folk. When
we've learned to be friends with them we shall both feel so much better.

TREBELL. [_Shaking his head, unmoved._] My dear sister ... I should be bored
to death. The life contemplative and peripatetic would literally bore me
into a living death.

FRANCES. [_Letting it be a fairy tale._] Is your mother the Wide World
nothing to you? Can't you open your heart like a child again?

TREBELL. No, neither to the beauty of Nature nor the particular human
animals that are always called a part of it. I don't even see them with your
eyes. I'm a son of the anger of Man at men's foolishness, and unless I've
that to feed upon...! [_Now he looks at her, as if for the first time
wanting to explain himself, and his voice changes._] Don't you know that
when a man cuts himself shaving, he swears? When he loses a seat in the
Cabinet he turns inward for comfort ... and if he only finds there a spirit
which should have been born, but is dead ... what's to be done then?

FRANCES. [_In a whisper._] You mustn't think of that woman....

TREBELL. I've reasoned my way through life....

FRANCES. I see how awful it is to have the double blow fall.

TREBELL. [_The wave of his agony rising again._] But here's something in me
which no knowledge touches ... some feeling ... some power which should be
the beginning of new strength. But it has been killed in me unborn before I
had learnt to understand ... and that's killing me.

FRANCES. [_Crying out._] Why ... why did no woman teach you to be gentle?
Why did you never believe in any woman? Perhaps even I am to blame....

TREBELL. The little fool, the little fool ... why did she kill my child?
What did it matter what I thought her? We were committed together to that
one thing. Do you think I didn't know that I was heartless and that she was
socially in the wrong? But what did Nature care for that? And Nature has
broken us.

FRANCES. [_Clinging to him as he beats the air._] Not you. She's dead, poor
girl ... but not you.

TREBELL. Yes ... that's the mystery no one need believe till he has dipped
in it. The man bears the child in his soul as the woman carries it in her
body.

      _There is silence between them, till she speaks low and tonelessly,
      never loosing his hand._

FRANCES. Henry, I want your promise that you'll go on living till ...
till....

TREBELL. Don't cry, Fanny, that's very foolish.

FRANCES. Till you've learnt to look at all this calmly. Then I can trust
you.

TREBELL _smiles, not at all grimly._

TREBELL. But, you see, it would give Horsham and Blackborough such a shock
if I shot myself ... it would make them think about things.

FRANCES. [_With one catch of wretched laughter._] Oh, my dear, if shooting's
wanted ... shoot them. Or I'll do it for you.

      _He sits in his chair just from weariness. She stands by him, her hand
      still grasping his._

TREBELL. You see, Fanny, as I said to Gilbert last night ... our lives are
our own and yet not our own. We understand living for others and dying for
others. The first is easy ... it's a way out of boredom. To make the second
popular we had to invent a belief in personal resurrection. Do you think we
shall ever understand dying in the sure and certain hope that it really
doesn't matter ... that God is infinitely economical and wastes perhaps less
of the power in us after our death than men do while we live?

FRANCES. I want your promise, Henry.

TREBELL. You know I never make promises ... it's taking oneself too
seriously. Unless indeed one has the comic courage to break them too. I've
upset you very much with my troubles. Don't you think you'd better go and
finish dressing? [_She doesn't move._] My dear ... you don't propose to hold
my right hand so safely for years to come. Even so, I still could jump out
of a window.

FRANCES. I'll trust you, Henry.

      _She looks into his eyes and he does not flinch. Then, with a final
      grip she leaves him. When she is at the door he speaks more gently
      than ever._

TREBELL. Your own life is sufficient unto itself, isn't it?

FRANCES. Oh yes. I can be pleasant to talk to and give good advice through
the years that remain. [_Instinctively she rectifies some little untidiness
in the room._] What fools they are to think they can run that government
without you!

TREBELL. Horsham will do his best. [_Then, as for the second time she
reaches the door._] Don't take away my razors, will you? I only use them for
shaving.

FRANCES. [_Almost blushing._] I half meant to ... I'm sorry. After all,
Henry, just because they are forgetting in personal feelings what's best for
the country ... it's your duty not to. You'll stand by and do what you can,
won't you?

TREBELL. [_His queer smile returning, in contrast to her seriousness._]
Disestablishment. It's a very interesting problem. I must think it out.

FRANCES. [_Really puzzled._] What do you mean?

      _He gets up with a quick movement of strange strength, and faces her.
      His smile changes into a graver gladness._

TREBELL. Something has happened ... in spite of me. My heart's clean again.
I'm ready for fresh adventures.

FRANCES. [_With a nod and answering gladness._] That's right.

      _So she leaves him, her mind at rest. For a minute he does not move.
      When his gaze narrows it falls on the heaps of letters. He carries
      them carefully into_ WALTER KENT'S _room and arranges them as
      carefully on his table. On his way out he stops for a moment; then
      with a sudden movement bangs the door._

       *       *       *       *       *

      _Two hours later the room has been put in order. It is even more full
      of light and the shadows are harder than usual. The doors are open,
      showing you_ KENT'S _door still closed. At the big writing table in_
      TREBELL'S _chair sits_ WEDGECROFT, _pale and grave, intent on
      finishing a letter._ FRANCES _comes to find him. For a moment she
      leans on the table silently, her eyes half closed. You would say a
      broken woman. When she speaks it is swiftly, but tonelessly._

FRANCES. Lord Horsham is in the drawing room ... and I can't see him, I
really can't. He has come to say he is sorry ... and I should tell him that
it is his fault, partly. I know I should ... and I don't want to. Won't you
go in? What are you writing?

      WEDGECROFT, _with his physicianly pre-occupation, can attend,
      understand, sympathise, without looking up at her._

WEDGECROFT. Never mind. A necessary note ... to the Coroner's office. Yes,
I'll see Horsham.

FRANCES. I've managed to get the pistol out of his hand. Was that wrong ...
oughtn't I to have touched it?

WEDGECROFT. Of course you oughtn't. You must stay away from the room. I'd
better have locked the door.

FRANCES. [_Pitifully._] I'm sorry ... but I couldn't bear to see the pistol
in his hand. I won't go back. After all he's not there in the room, is he?
But how long do you think the spirit stays near the body ... how long? When
people die gently of age or weakness.... But when the spirit and body are
so strong and knit together and all alive as his....

WEDGECROFT. [_His hand on hers._] Hush ... hush.

FRANCES. His face is very eager ... as if it still could speak. I know that.

      MRS. FARRANT _comes through the open doorway._ FRANCES _hears her
      steps and turning falls into her outstretched arms to cry there._

FRANCES. Oh, Julia!

MRS. FARRANT. Oh my dear Fanny! I came with Cyril Horsham ... I don't think
Simpson even saw me.

FRANCES. I can't go in and talk to him.

MRS. FARRANT. He'll understand. But I heard you come in here....

WEDGECROFT. I'll tell Horsham.

      _He has finished and addressed his letter, so he goes out with it._
      FRANCES _lifts her head. These two are in accord and can speak their
      feelings without disguise or preparation._

FRANCES. Julia, Julia ... isn't it unbelievable?

MRS. FARRANT. I'd give ... oh, what wouldn't I give to have it undone!

FRANCES. I knew he meant to ... and yet I thought I had his promise. If he
really meant to ... I couldn't have stopped it, could I?

MRS. FARRANT. Walter sent to tell me and I sent round to....

FRANCES. Walter came soon after, I think. Julia, I was in my room ... it was
nearly breakfast time ... when I heard the shot. Oh ... don't you think it
was cruel of him?

MRS. FARRANT. He had a right to. We must remember that.

FRANCES. You say that easily of my brother ... you wouldn't say it of your
husband.

      _They are apart by this_, JULIA FARRANT _goes to her gently._

MRS. FARRANT. Fanny ... will it leave you so very lonely?

FRANCES. Yes ... lonelier than you can ever be. You have children. I'm just
beginning to realise....

MRS. FARRANT. [_Leading her from the mere selfishness of sorrow._] There's
loneliness of the spirit, too.

FRANCES. Ah, but once you've tasted the common joys of life ... once you've
proved all your rights as a man or a woman....

MRS. FARRANT. Then there are subtler things to miss. As well be alone like
you, or dead like him, without them ... I sometimes think.

FRANCES. [_Responsive, lifted from egoism, reading her friend's mind._] You
demand much.

MRS. FARRANT. I wish that he had demanded much of any woman.

FRANCES. You know how this misery began? That poor little wretch ... she's
lying dead too. They're both dead together now. Do you think they've met...?

      JULIA _grips both her hands and speaks very steadily to help her
      friend back to self control._

MRS. FARRANT. George told me as soon as he was told. I tried to make him
understand my opinion, but he thought I was only shocked.

FRANCES. I was sorry for her. Now I can't forgive her either.

MRS. FARRANT. [_Angry, remorseful, rebellious._] When will men learn to know
one woman from another?

FRANCES. [_With answering bitterness._] When will all women care to be one
thing rather than the other?

      _They are stopped by the sound of the opening of_ KENT'S _door._
      WALTER _comes from his room, some papers from his table held
      listlessly in one hand. He is crying, undisguisedly, with a child's
      grief._

KENT. Oh ... am I in your way...?

FRANCES. I didn't know you were still here, Walter.

KENT. I've been going through the letters as usual. I don't know why, I'm
sure. They won't have to be answered now ... will they?

      WEDGECROFT _comes back, grave and tense._

WEDGECROFT. Horsham has gone. He thought perhaps you'd be staying with Miss
Trebell for a bit.

MRS. FARRANT. Yes, I shall be.

WEDGECROFT. I must go too ... it's nearly eleven.

FRANCES. To the other inquest?

      _This stirs her two listeners to something of a shudder._

WEDGECROFT. Yes.

MRS. FARRANT. [_In a low voice._] It will make no difference now ... I mean
... still nothing need come out? We needn't know why he ... why he did it.

WEDGECROFT. When he talked to me last night, and I didn't know what he was
talking of....

FRANCES. He was waiting this morning for Lord Horsham's note....

MRS. FARRANT. [_In real alarm._] Oh, it wasn't because of the Cabinet
trouble ... you must persuade Cyril Horsham of that. You haven't told him
... he's so dreadfully upset as it is. I've been swearing it had nothing to
do with that.

WEDGECROFT. [_Cutting her short, bitingly._] Has a time ever come to you
when it was easier to die than to go on living? Oh ... I told Lord Horsham
just what I thought.

      _He leaves them, his men grief unexpressed._

FRANCES. [_Listlessly._] Does it matter why?

MRS. FARRANT. Need there be more suffering and reproaches? It's not as if
even grief would do any good. [_Suddenly with nervous caution._] Walter, you
don't know, do you?

      WALTER _throws up his tear-marked face and a man's anger banishes the
      boyish grief._

WALTER. No, I don't know why he did it ... and I don't care. And grief is
no use. I'm angry ... just angry at the waste of a good man. Look at the
work undone ... think of it! Who is to do it! Oh ... the waste...!





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