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Title: The Drone - A Play in Three Acts
Author: Mayne, Rutherford
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 "The Drone - A Play in Three Acts" ***

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THE DRONE

A Play in Three Acts

by

RUTHERFORD MAYNE



Luce & Co.
Boston
Copyright, 1912. Samuel Waddell.



TO

SEVEEN



CHARACTERS


JOHN MURRAY, _A farmer._
DANIEL MURRAY, _His brother._
MARY MURRAY, _John's daughter._
ANDREW MCMINN, _A farmer._
SARAH MCMINN, _His sister._
DONAL MACKENZIE, _A Scotch engineer._
SAM BROWN, _A labourer in John Murray's employment._
KATE, _A servant girl in John Murray's employment._
ALICK MCCREADY, _A young farmer._

_The action takes place throughout in the kitchen of John Murray in
the County of Down._

TIME ... _The present day._



The Drone

_A COMEDY IN THREE ACTS_

ACT I.


SCENE: _The farm kitchen of John Murray. It is large and spacious,
with a wide open fire-place to the right. At the back is one door
leading to the parlour and other rooms in the house, also a large
window overlooking the yard outside. To the left of this window is the
door leading into the yard, and near the door an old-fashioned
grandfather's clock. Opposite to the fire-place on the left side is
another door leading into Daniel Murray's workshop, and beside this
door is a large dresser with crockery, &c. At the back beneath the
window is a table near which_ KATE, _the servant, a slatternly dressed
girl of some thirty years of age or more, is seated. She is carefully
examining some cakes of soda bread, and has a bucket beside her into
which she throws the rejected pieces._


KATE. That one's stale. It would break your teeth to eat it. (_She
throws the cake into the bucket._) And the mice have nibbled that one.
And there's another as bad. (_She throws both pieces into the
bucket._)

(BROWN, _the servant man, opens the door from yard and enters. He is
elderly, and with a pessimistic expression of face, relieved somewhat
by the sly humour that is in his eyes. He walks slowly to the centre
of the kitchen, looks at_ KATE, _and then turns his eyes, with a
disgusted shake of the head, towards the dresser as if searching for
something._)

BROWN. Well! Well! Pigs get fat and men get lean in this house.

KATE. It's you again, is it? And what are you looking now?

BROWN. I'm looking a spanner for the boss. The feedboard to the
threshing machine got jammed just when halfway through the first
stack, and he is in a lamentable temper.

KATE (_uneasily_). Is he? (_She starts hurriedly to clear up the
table._)

BROWN (_watching her slyly to see what effect his words have_). And
he's been grumbling all morning about the way things is going on in
this house. Bread and things wasted and destroyed altogether.

KATE. Well, it's all Miss Mary's fault. I told her about this bread
yesterday forenoon, and she never took any heed to me.

BROWN. Miss Mary? (_With a deprecatory shake of his head._) What does
a slip of a girl like that know about housekeeping and her not home a
half-year yet from the boarding-school in the big town, and with no
mother nor nobody to train her. (_He stares in a puzzled way at the
dresser._) I don't see that spanner at all. Did you see it, Kate?

KATE. No. I've more to do than look for spanners.

BROWN (_gazing reproachfully at her and then shaking his head_). It's
a nice house, right enough. (_Lowering his voice._) And I suppose old
Mr. Dan is never up yet. I was told by Johnny McAndless, he was
terribly full last night at McArn's publichouse and talking--ach--the
greatest blethers about this new invention of his.

KATE. Do you say so?

BROWN. Aye. No wonder he's taking a lie this morning. (_He peeps into
the door of the workshop._) He's not in his wee workshop?

KATE. No. Miss Mary is just after taking up his breakfast to him.

BROWN. Some people get living easy in this world. (_He gives a last
look at the dresser._) Well divil a spanner can I see. I'll tell the
master that. (_He goes out again through the yard door, and as he does
so,_ MARY MURRAY _comes through the door from the inner rooms,
carrying a tray with teacups, &c., on it. She is a pretty, vivacious
girl about eighteen years of age._)

MARY. Who was that?

KATE. It's the servant man looking for a spanner for your father, Miss
Mary. There's something gone wrong with the threshing machine.

MARY (_taking the tray to the table and starting to get ready to wash
up the cups_). I do believe sometimes that Uncle Dan's a lazy man.

KATE (_assisting her at the washing and stopping as if astonished at
the statement_). And is it only now you're after finding that out!
Sure the whole countryside knowed it this years and years.

MARY (_sharply_). The whole countryside has no business to talk about
what doesn't concern it.

KATE. Oh, well, people are bound to talk, Miss.

MARY. But then Uncle Dan is awfully clever. He's got the whole brains
of the Murrays, so father says, and then, besides that, he is a grand
talker.

KATE. Aye. He can talk plenty. Sure Sarah McMinn, that lives up the
Cut, says its a shame the way he's going on this twenty years and
more, never doing a hand's turn from morning to night, and she says
she wonders your poor father stands him and his nonsense.

MARY. Who said that?

KATE. Sarah McMinn told Johnny McAndless that yesterday.

MARY. Sarah McMinn? Pooh! That hard, mean, old thing. No. I believe in
Uncle Dan and so does father. He'll make a name for himself yet.

KATE. Well, it's getting near time he done it.

MARY. And that Sarah McMinn they say just keeps her brother in
starvation, and she just says nasty things like that about Uncle Dan
because he doesn't like her.

KATE. Aye. He never did like people as seen through him, not but she
is a mean old skin-a-louse. (_The voice of_ DANIEL MURRAY _is heard
calling from within._) He's up, Miss.

MARY. Are you up, uncle?

(DAN MURRAY _opens the door from the inner apartments and comes into
the kitchen. He is carelessly dressed and sleepy-looking as if just
out of bed, wears a muffler and glasses, and appears to be some fifty
years of age._)

DANIEL. Yes. Did the _Whig_ come yet?

MARY. Yes. I put it in your workshop.

DANIEL (_glancing at the clock_). Bless my heart, it's half-past one!

MARY (_reproachfully_). It is, indeed, uncle.

DANIEL. Well! Well! Time goes round, Mary. Time goes round. (_Kate
picks up the bucket and goes out by the yard door._) Where's your
father? (_He crosses over to the workshop door._)

MARY. He's out working with Sam Brown at the threshing all morning
since seven o'clock.

DANIEL. Well! Well! A very industrious man is John Murray. Very. But
lacking in brains, my dear--lacking in brains. Kind, good-hearted,
easy-going, but--ah! well, one can't help these things. (_He goes
towards the workshop._) Where did you say the _Whig_ was, Mary?

MARY. It's in your workshop. (_He crosses over to go there._)

MARY. You were very late coming in last night, uncle.

DANIEL. Eh? (_He goes in, gets the paper, comes out again._)

MARY. I heard you coming in, and the clock was just after striking
two. (_He sits down and opens paper._)

DANIEL. Well--I met a few friends last night. Appreciative friends I
could talk to, and I was explaining that new idea of mine that I've
been working at so long--that new idea for a fan-bellows. It's a great
thing. Oh yes. It should be. I sat up quite a while last night,
thinking it over, and I believe I've got more ideas about it--better
ones.

MARY. Do you think you'll make money off it, uncle?

DANIEL. Mary--if it comes off--if I can get someone to take it up, I
believe 'twill make our fortune, I do.

MARY. Oh, uncle, it would be lovely if you did, and I would just die
to see that nasty McMinn woman's face when she hears about you making
such a hit.

DANIEL. McMinn? Has that woman been sneering about me again? That's
one woman, Mary, I can't stand. I can never do myself justice
explaining ideas in company when that woman is present.

MARY. Never mind her, uncle. (_Coming close beside him._) Do you mind
the time last time, uncle, when you went up to Belfast for a week to
see about that patent for--what's this the patent was, uncle?

DANIEL (_uncomfortably_). Last time? Aye? Why?

MARY. Yes. Don't you remember you said you knew of an awfully nice boy
that you met, and you were going to bring him down here.

DANIEL. Upon my soul, I had clean forgotten. Yes, yes. I think I did
say something about a young fellow I met.

MARY. Was he nice, uncle?

DANIEL (_becoming absorbed in the newspaper_). Eh? I think so. Oh. He
was--very nice chap.

MARY. Well, you said he was coming here to see me, and he never turned
up yet.

DANIEL. Did I? Very possibly. I suppose he must have forgotten.

MARY (_walking away to the left and then back again pouting_). I'm
sick of the boys here. There's only Alick McCready that's anyway
passable. When will you see him again, uncle?

DANIEL. Well--possibly, when I go up to town again. Very soon,
perhaps. That is if your father, Mary, can spare the money.

MARY (_thoughtfully_). I don't know, uncle. You see that would be five
times now, and somehow you never seem to get anything done. That's
what he said, mind you, uncle.

DANIEL (_mournfully_). Well! Well! To think of me toiling and moiling
away in that workshop of mine, day after day, and week after week, and
year after year--and there's all the thanks you get for it.

MARY. Uncle?

DANIEL (_somewhat irritably as he gets engrossed reading_). Well?

MARY. Look, if you went up to Belfast again soon, won't you see that
boy? I wonder what he's like. (_She gets close beside her uncle and
nestles beside him._) Is he dark or fair?

DANIEL. Yes, yes. I think so.

MARY. Dark?

DANIEL. Yes. I believe he is dark.

MARY. And tall?

DANIEL (_trying vainly to read in spite of the interruptions_). Very
tall.

MARY. Oh, how nice! And uncle, is he good-looking?

DANIEL. Very. Fine looking fellow.

MARY. That's grand; and uncle, is he well to do?

DANIEL. He has every appearance of it.

MARY. Oh you dear old uncle! (_She nestles closer to him._) But maybe
he wouldn't look at me when he has a whole lot of town girls to go
with.

DANIEL. My dear niece, you don't know what a very good-looking young
lady you are, and besides he saw your photograph.

MARY. Which photograph?

DANIEL (_perplexed_). Which photograph? Your own of course!

MARY. The one I got taken at Lurgan?

DANIEL. Yes. I think so.

MARY. Oh uncle! That horrid thing! Why didn't you show him the one I
got taken at Newcastle?

DANIEL. My mistake. Very sorry, indeed, Mary, I assure you. But I tell
you what, I'll take the album with me next time. Will that do?

MARY (_laughing_). There. Now you're only joking. (_Suddenly._) What
do you do all the time you stay in Belfast, uncle?

DANIEL (_uneasily_). Um--um----Business, my dear girl, business. See
engineers and all that sort of thing, and talk things over. It takes
time, you know, Mary, time.

MARY. You've been an awful long time inventing, uncle, haven't you?

DANIEL. Well, you know, Mary dear--time--it takes time. You can't rush
an inventor.

MARY. Well look, uncle. You know I can just wheedle father round my
wee finger, can't I?

DANIEL. You can indeed.

MARY. Well, look: if you promise to bring down this boy you are
talking about, I'll get father to give you enough to have two weeks in
Belfast. There. It's a bargain.

DANIEL. Um--well--he may not be there you know.

MARY (_disappointed_). O uncle!

DANIEL. You see he travels a lot and he may be away. He may be in
London. In fact I think--yes. He said he would be going to London.

MARY. Then why not go to London?

DANIEL (_starting up and speaking as if struck with delight at the
possibility_). Eh? I never thought of that! (_He collapses again._)
But no. Your father, Mary. He would never give me the money. No.

MARY. But you're more likely to meet people there who'd take it up,
aren't you, uncle?

DANIEL. It's _the place_ for an inventor to go, Mary. _The place._
(_Pauses._) But I'm afraid when John hears about it----(_he becomes
very dubious and shakes his head_).

MARY. Well, look here, uncle. Do you mind the last time when he would
not give you money to go up to Belfast about your patent.

DANIEL (_sadly_). I do.

MARY. You remember you got a letter a few days after asking you to
come up at once and you had to go then. Hadn't you?

DANIEL. I had.

MARY. Well, couldn't we do the same this time?

DANIEL (_looking at her uneasily_). Eh?

MARY. Couldn't we get someone to send a letter. (_Pausing and
thinking, then suddenly_). Oh, the very thing! You know that silly
Alick McCready that comes running after me. Well, look, I'll get him
to send a letter.

DANIEL. No good, my dear. I did it before----I mean letters on plain
notepaper don't carry much weight. No.

MARY. What about----oh, I know! Uncle, a telegram!

DANIEL. Great idea! It is in soul!

MARY. And we'll put something on it like "come to London at once to
see about the patent," or something like that. And he'd have to let
you go then.

DANIEL. Mary, you're really a cleverer girl than your father thinks.
(_Musingly._) Two weeks in London.

MARY. And don't forget the nice boy, uncle, when you go.

DANIEL. I'll do my best to get hold of him.

MARY. No. I want a good definite promise. Promise, uncle.

DANIEL. Well, really you know, my dear, he----

MARY. Uncle, promise.

DANIEL. Um----well, I promise.

MARY. You're a dear old thing. You see, uncle, I don't want to marry
Alick McCready or Jim McDowell or any of those boys, unless there's
nobody else.

DANIEL. Quite right, my dear, quite right. Two weeks in London.
Splendid! But it's time I was going into my workshop. (_He rises and
takes the paper with him._) I must really try and do something this
morning. (_Exit by workshop door._)

MARY (_calling after him_). You won't forget, uncle? Will you?

DANIEL. No, certainly not.

MARY. I do hope uncle brings that nice boy. Dark--tall--well set
up--well to do.

(KATE _comes in again through the yard door, and looks at_ MARY, _who
is gazing vacantly into space._)

KATE. Well? What notion have you got now?

MARY. Oh! just think, Kate! How would you like a boy who was dark and
tall, and well set up and well to do?

KATE. I'd just leap at him.

MARY (_laughing_). Agh! I don't think he'll ever come, Kate!

KATE. I think you've plenty on hand to manage. (BROWN _opens the yard
door and resumes his old-position from which he stares at the
dresser_). You're back again, are you?

BROWN. Aye.

KATE. What ails you now?

BROWN. I'm looking the spanner.

MARY. The spanner?

BROWN. The spanner, Miss Mary. It's for turning the nuts like.

KATE. Have you never got it yet?

BROWN. Do you think I've got eyes in the back of my head? Underneath
the seat, beside the salt-box, on the right near the wee crock in the
left hand corner. (_He makes a movement to open one of the drawers of
the dresser._)

KATE. Will you get out of that, ignorance. It's not there.

BROWN (_with an appealing look at_ MARY). Maybe its in the parlour?

MARY. Well, I'll take a look round. (_She goes through the door to
living rooms._)

BROWN (_mysteriously_). Did you hear the news?

KATE. No. (_Very much interested._) What?

BROWN. Ach! You women never know anything.

KATE. What's the news? Somebody killed?

BROWN. No. More serious.

KATE (_alarmed_). God bless me! What is it?

BROWN. Andy McMinn has a sister.

KATE (_disappointed_). Ach!

BROWN. And she's trying to get a man.

KATE. Well. I knowed that this years.

BROWN. And Mr. John Murray is a widow man.

KATE. You mean to be telling me that Mr. John has a notion of that old
thing? Go long with you!

BROWN. Did you ever hear tell of a widow man that never got married
again.

KATE. Plenty. Don't come in here talking blethers.

BROWN. Whist. There's more in what I'm telling you than you think. And
I'll hold you to a shilling that Sarah McMinn will be Mrs. John Murray
before one month.

KATE. Who told you?

BROWN. Ach. You've no more head than a yellow yorling. Where has Mr.
John been going to these wheen of nights?

KATE (_thinking_). Andy McMinns!

BROWN. Aye. Do you think it is to see old Andy? And sure he's been
talking to me all morning about the way the house is being kept. No
hand to save the waste; bread and things destroyed; hens laying away;
eggs ate up by the dozen and chickens lost and one thing and another.
And hinting about what money a good saving woman would bring him. And
Mr. Daniel----

KATE. Sh----he's in there working.

BROWN. Working? Ah, God save us! Him working! The last man that seen
Mr. Dan working is in his grave this twenty years. (_He goes over next
workshop door._) I'll just peep in at him through the keyhole. (_He
goes over and does so, and then beckons_ KATE _over. She peeps in and
grins. As they are thus occupied_ ALICK MCCREADY _opens the door and
stands gazing at them. He is a type of the young well-to-do farmer,
respectably dressed and good-looking._)

ALICK. Well! Well! Some people earn their money easy!

BROWN. Aye. In soul. Just look in there to see it. (MCCREADY _looks in
and bursts into a loud hearty laugh._ BROWN _hurriedly goes out by the
yard door and_ KATE _by door to inner rooms._)

DANIEL (_opening door and standing there, perplexed looking_). What's
the matter?

ALICK. Ah. I was just laughing at a wee joke, Mr. Murray.

DANIEL. It must have been very funny.

ALICK. Aye. It was. (_Coming close to_ DANIEL, _who walks slowly to
the middle of the kitchen._) I say. Were you at McArn's publichouse
last night?

DANIEL (_looking round cautiously to see that no one else can hear
him_). Well, just a minute or two. Why?

ALICK. There was someone there told Andy McMinn this morning, I
believe, that you'd been talking of a great invention altogether, and
he was that much curious to see it that him and his sister Sarah are
coming over this day to have a look at it.

DANIEL. Who? Sarah McMinn?

ALICK. Aye. She's very anxious to see it, I believe.

DANIEL. Um. Rather awkward this. She's not a woman that, plainly
speaking, I care very much to talk about my ideas to.

ALICK. But have you got something struck out?

DANIEL. McCready, come here. (ALICK _goes closer to him._) It is
really a great idea. Splendid. But I've a great deal of trouble over
it. In fact I've been thinking out details of a particular gear all
morning.

ALICK. Aye. (_He looks at_ DANIEL _and then endeavours to restrain
unsuccessfully a burst of laughter._)

DANIEL (_angrily_). You were always an ignorant hound anyway and be
d----d to you. (_He turns to go towards his workshop._)

ALICK. Ah, Mr. Murray, I beg your pardon. It's another thing
altogether I'm thinking about. I just wanted a talk with you this
morning. You have a nice wee girl for a niece, Mr. Murray.

DANIEL (_somewhat mollified_). Well?

ALICK (_bashfully_). And I was wondering if you could put in a good
word for me now and again with her.

DANIEL. Now, look here, Alick. We can all work nice and comfortably
together, can't we?

ALICK. Aye.

DANIEL. Well, if you behave yourself like a man with some manners, and
not like an ignorant clodhopper, I can do a great deal for you.

ALICK. Thank you, sir. You know, Mr. Murray, I have as nice a wee
farm, and as good stock on it as well, as any man in the county, and
if I'm lucky enough to get that niece of yours, you'll always be
welcome to come and pass a day or two and have a chat.

DANIEL. I think you and I will get along all right, Alick. There's one
or two little things I need badly sometimes in this house. I mean I
want help often, you know, Alick, to carry my points with John; points
about going to see people and that sort of thing, and it's really very
hard to manage John on points like that, unless we resort to certain
means to convince him they are absolutely necessary.

ALICK (_uneasily_). Yes. I sort of follow you.

DANIEL. You know what I mean. John's a little dense, you know. He
can't see the point of an argument very well unless you sort of knock
him down with it. Now, if a thing is fair and reasonable, and a man is
so dense that he can't see it, you are quite justified--at least, I
take it so--to manufacture a way--it doesn't matter how--so long as
you make that dense man accept the thing, whatever it is, as right. Do
you follow me?

ALICK. I'm just beginning to see a kind of way.

MARY (_appearing at door from inner rooms_). I can't see that thing
anywhere. (_She suddenly sees_ ALICK.) Oh Alick! You here!

ALICK. Yes. It's a nice morning, and you're looking beautiful!

MARY. Oh, bother. (_She seems to suddenly recollect something._) Oh, I
say! uncle! You remember? Uncle!

DANIEL (_somewhat perplexed_). Eh?

MARY (_motioning towards_ ALICK). Telegram to come to London.

DANIEL. Ah----Oh, yes, yes.

MARY. Let's go into your workshop and tell Alick what we want. Come
on.

ALICK. I'll do anything in the world you want.

(_They all go into the workshop. As they disappear,_ JOHN MURRAY,
_sweating and angry looking, comes through from the yard followed by_
BROWN. JOHN _is a tall, stout man, with a rather dour countenance and
somewhat stolid expression. He is a year or so the elder of Dan in
age. He goes to the dresser, puts his hand on the top shelf, takes
down a spanner and throws it down angrily on the table._)

JOHN. There. There you are, you stupid-looking, good for nothing,
dunder-headed, Italian idiot you.

BROWN. You're something terrible cross this morning.

JOHN. (_heatedly_). Is it any wonder? Away out at once now and put her
to rights and quick about it. (BROWN _meekly goes out._) The like of
servant men nowadays, I never seen in my mortal days. A concern of
ignorant bauchles, every one of them.

DANIEL (_opening door of workshop and peeping out. He sees_ JOHN _and
goes over to him with a genial air_). Good morning John.

JOHN (_snappishly_). Morning.

DANIEL. John, what do you think, I believe I have just come on to a
great idea about----

JOHN. Ach! You and your great ideas! Here you've been blundering and
blethering and talking these fifteen years and more, and I've never
seen anything come of them yet.

DANIEL (_soothingly_). I know, John, I know. But I'm handicapped you
know. Bad place to work in and all the rest of it: but you've been
kind to me, John. Keeping a brother and helping him after he has lost
all his money isn't a common thing with many men, but John a day will
come sometime, and you'll get it all back. (_Impressively_). Every
penny. Aye, and twice over.

JOHN (_softening_). Thank you, Daniel.

DANIEL. You will, John, you will. But don't cast up things like that
about the time I've been. It hurts me. A thing like this takes time to
mature, you know, John. The great and chief thing for an inventor is
time. Look at Palissy, the great French potter, who found out how to
make porcelain glaze. Why he worked for years and years at his
invention. And there was the man who found out how to make steam drive
engines. Look at the years those men spent--and no one begrudged them.

JOHN. I suppose that now.

DANIEL. Certainly, John, nothing surer. And look at the fortunes those
men made. But the great difficulty is trying to get someone to take up
your patent. You see these men had the eyes of the world fixed on
them. People knew all about them, and had their hands stretched out
ready to grab what they invented. (_Pathetically_). I----I'm just a
poor unknown man struggling in a wee dark corner.

JOHN (_touched_). Never mind, Danny. You'll make the name of the
Murray's known yet, maybe.

DANIEL. I'll do my best, John. But mind you it would take me to be
pushing on this thing that I have found out and bringing it before
people to notice. You see I've got it all ready now except for a few
small details.

JOHN (_much interested_). Have you now? I would like you sometime to
explain it to me, Daniel. I didn't quite get on to it the last time
you were telling me about it.

DANIEL. Some time again. Oh yes. But John--I'll have to go to some of
the towns soon to see people about it. The bigger the town the better
the chance, and John (_impressively_)--London's the place.

JOHN (_aghast_). London! In all the name of the world, yon place!
Would Belfast not do you?

DANIEL. No. I don't like Belfast. They're a mangy, stick-in-the-mud,
follow-in-the-old-ruts crowd. Never strike out anything new. It's a
case of London or nothing.

JOHN (_dubiously_). It will be a terrible expense this London
visiting.

DANIEL. It'll be worth it.

JOHN. Now, Danny, I would like to oblige you, but what do you think it
would cost me?

DANIEL. Well, I could live cheap you know, John, and do without meals
an odd day, and go steerage and third class, and that sort of thing. I
would say about fifteen pounds roughly. That would let me stay more
than a week.

JOHN. Fifteen pounds! God bless me, Daniel, would you break me? No,
no, I couldn't afford to give you that much.

DANIEL. Maybe ten would do it. I could sleep out under the arches an
odd night or two, and----

JOHN. No, no. I'll not have that. A Murray aye had a bed to go to and
a sup to eat. (_After a contemplative pause._) Here, I'll give you
three pounds and you can go to Belfast.

DANIEL. I don't care much about Belfast. You know I have been there
five times now, and I have never got anyone to look into the thing at
all proper.

JOHN. You're too backward, Daniel, when it comes to the like of that.
But ten pounds! No, I would like you to get on in the world right
enough, Daniel, but I couldn't afford it. You know the way this house
is being kept; it's lamentable. Tea and sugar and flour and things.
Man, I'm just after paying off ten pounds to the McAfees for one thing
and another, and it only a running account for two months. If I had a
good housekeeper now, maybe things would alter for the better.

MARY (_coming out from the workshop followed by_ ALICK). O Uncle Dan!
He says he'll go at once and get it----(_She stops short in confusion on
seeing her father._)

ALICK. How are you, Mr. Murray?

JOHN. O! bravely. What's the news with you?

ALICK. I was just looking over some of them ideas of Daniel's, about
the new fan bellows.

JOHN. Aye. Now what do you think of it?

ALICK (_warned by_ DANIEL _who nudges him_). They're great altogether.

JOHN. Do you think there will be any sale for it at all?

ALICK. I think so. (_He perceives_ DANIEL _motioning assent._) I
believe there would be indeed.

JOHN. Man, I wish I had the head of some of you young fellows to
understand the working of them machinery and things. (DANIEL _goes
back into the workshop._) I've the worst head in the world for
understanding about them sort of things. There's Daniel, a great head
on him, Daniel.

ALICK (_slyly_). He has, right enough!

JOHN (_proudly_). One of the best. When he was a wee fellow, dang the
one could beat him at making boats or drawing pictures, or explaining
extraordinary things to you. None. Not one. A great head on him,
Daniel. He'll do something yet.

ALICK. Did you know Andy McMinn's for coming over to see you this day,
Mr. Murray?

JOHN (_eagerly_). This day? When? Are you sure?

ALICK. Aye, so he said. About two o'clock or so. Someone told him
about Daniel's great new idea, and he's very curious to hear about it.

MARY. He's always poking his nose into people's business.

JOHN. Whist. Andy McMinn's a very decent man. Tell me (_rather
bashfully_), was Sarah to come with him?

MARY (_alarmed_). O holy prophets! I hope not.

ALICK. Aye. She's coming too. She wanted to see it as well as Andy.

JOHN. Aye. Certainly, and she's welcome too. Mary, you can get the
house ready, and the table set, and a nice tea for them when they
come, and I can go and get tidied up a wee bit. (_He goes off through
door into inner rooms._)

ALICK (_leaning against the table and looking across at_ MARY, _who is
sitting at the opposite end._) You're as nice a wee girl as ever I----

MARY. You're an awful fool. Hurry, Alick, like a decent man and get
that telegram sent.

ALICK. That uncle of yours, Mary, heth he's as canny a keoghboy as
I've seen. Its the queer tears he'll be taking to himself in London if
I know anything.

MARY. Hold your tongue. You've no business to talk about Uncle Dan
that way. He could give you tons as far as brains go anyway.

ALICK. I believe that. (_He goes to yard door, then turns back._) I
say, Mary. What name will I put on that telegram? "Come to London at
once about patent. Intend purchasing." Hadn't we better have a name?

MARY. Yes. I'll just ask uncle. (_She knocks at door of workshop._)
Uncle!

DANIEL (_without_). Yes.

MARY. What name will we put to that telegram?

DANIEL (_without_). Oh, it's not particular. Wilson or Smith, or
Brown, or Gregg.

ALICK. I'll put Gregg on it.

DANIEL. Do well.

ALICK. Did you see the fluster that your father got into, Mary, when
he heard that Sarah McMinn was coming over?

MARY (_alarmed_). What?

ALICK.. Did you not see how he rushed off to tidy himself up when he
heard Sarah McMinn was coming over?

MARY (_seating herself on chair to right of table_). Nonsense. Father
wouldn't think of that woman.

ALICK. All right. But I think I know something more than you.

MARY (_anxiously_). What? Tell me.

ALICK. Come on and leave me down the loaning a pace, and I'll tell
you.

MARY (_glancing at him, and then coquettishly turning her back to him
as he leans against the table_). Oh, I can't. Those people are coming
over, and that McMinn woman will be looking at everything and telling
you how to do things in front of father, and all the rest of it.

ALICK (_entreatingly_). Leave me down the loaning a pace till I tell
you the news.

MARY (_teasingly_). No.

ALICK. Come on.

MARY. No. (ALICK _moves sadly towards the door._ MARY _looks round,
and then laughingly skips past him out through the yard door, and he
follows her._)

JOHN (_coming through door from inner rooms partly dressed, with a
towel in his hands, evidently making much preparation to clean
himself_). Daniel! (_Loudly and crossly._) Daniel!

DANIEL (_peeping out from workshop door_). Well!

JOHN. Tidy yourself up a wee bit, man, Andy McMinn and Sarah's coming
over to see you.

DANIEL (_somewhat taken back_). Me?

JOHN. Aye. They want to see about the new invention. You can have the
collar I wore last Sunday, and put on your new coat that you got in
Belfast. (DANIEL _goes back into the workshop._) I wonder what tie
would be the better one? Yon green or the red one that Mary gave me
last Christmas. Aye. (_Seeing no sign of_ DANIEL.) D----n! Is he
making no shapes to dress himself. Daniel!

DANIEL (_without_). Aye.

JOHN (_loudly_). Daniel!

DANIEL (_again appearing at door_). Well!

JOHN (_impatiently_). Come on and get on you.

DANIEL. Ach. This is always the way. Just when a man has got the whole
thing worked out and the plans of the apparatus just on the point of
completion he has to stop.

JOHN. Never mind, Danny. You can do it again the night or the morrow
morning. I want you to look decent. Come on and get on you.

DANIEL (_beginning to regard his brother with a sudden interest and
suspicion_). Who did you say was coming?

JOHN (_at door to rooms_). Andy and Sarah McMinn. (He goes out.)

DANIEL (_suddenly realising the import of the preparations going on._)
McMinn. Mc----. (_He stops short, and then in a horrified voice._)
Surely to God he hasn't a notion of that woman? (_Calling
tremulously._) John! John!

JOHN (_at door_). Hurry up, man.

DANIEL (_appealingly_). John. Tell me, John. You haven't----you're not
going to----you haven't a notion of that woman?

JOHN (_hesitatingly_). Well, Daniel, you see the house needs some one
to look after it proper, and I thought----well--maybe--that Sarah
would be just as nice and saving a woman as I could get, but I thought
I would keep it a bit secret, don't you know, because I don't know yet
if she'd have me or not. And she could talk to you better nor I could
about machinery and things that would interest you, for she has an
agency for sewing machines, and knows something about that sort of
thing, and you'd get on great with each other. Now, hurry and get on
you. (_He goes out by door into rooms._)

DANIEL (_looking after him in a helpless manner, and sinking into a
chair_). If--if she'd have him! O great God! If that woman comes to
this house, I--I'm a ruined man.

(CURTAIN.)



ACT II.


_The same scene some hours later. The curtain rises to discover_ KATE
_seated near table at back enjoying a cup of tea which she has made,
and is drinking with relish._


KATE. I suppose they'll be wanting jam and sugar for the tea--aye--and
some of them scones Miss Mary cooked yesterday, not but you couldn't
eat them, and a pat or two of butter. (_She finishes off the remains
of the tea._) Now, that's a nice girl for you! Here's company coming
till the house and tea and things a wanting, and she goes and leaves
all to go strolling down the loaning with that fool of a McCready.

(BROWN _opens the yard door and comes in. He replaces the spanner on
the top shelf and then turns and looks at_ KATE.)

KATE. Well?

BROWN. Well, yourself?

KATE. Do you see any sign of them McMinns yet?

BROWN. Aye. I see the trap coming over the Cattle Hill. There was
three in it, as far as I could make out.

KATE. Who be to be the third party I wonder? Is it their servant man?

BROWN. Do you think old Andy McMinn's servant man gets leave to drive
them about of an afternoon like the clergy's? Talk sense, woman.

KATE. Maybe it's yon Scotch body I heard was stopping with them.

BROWN. Aye. Yon Mackenzie. Ach, man, but yon creature would scunder
you.

KATE. Aye.

BROWN. Ach! Cracking jokes and laughing that hearty at them, and I'm
danged if a bat with one eye shut could make out what he was laughing
at. (_Listening._) Here they are. I hear the wheels coming up the
loaning. I'll have to go and put up the horse for them I suppose. (_He
goes out by yard door._)

KATE. I wonder if the master seen them coming. (_She rapidly clears
the table and then goes over to door into room._) I better tell him.
(_She knocks at the door._)

JOHN (_without_). Aye. (_He comes and opens the door, dressed in his
best suit of clothes._) What's the matter?

KATE. They're just come, sir.

JOHN (_excitedly_). Are they? (_Comes into kitchen._) Is my tie right,
Kate? And my clothes--is there any dirt on the back of them?

KATE (_inspecting him critically_). You'll do grand. I never seen you
looking better.

JOHN. Where's Mary? Why isn't she here?

KATE. She went out about something. She'll be back in a minute.

JOHN. Right enough, it would do her all the good in the world to have
a sensible woman looking after her. She just gets her own way a deal
too much in this house. (_He goes to window and looks out._) Aye. Here
they are! Tell Daniel to hurry. (KATE _goes off by door to rooms._)
Sarah's looking bravely. Man, that woman could save me thirty, aye
forty, pounds a year if she was here. (_Suddenly._) Ach! Is Daniel
never ready yet? (_Calls._) Daniel! (_Louder._) Daniel!

DANIEL (_without_). Aye.

JOHN. Hurry, man. They've come. (JOHN _goes to yard door and goes
out._)

DANIEL (_in an exasperated voice_). Ach!

(JOHN _comes in followed by_ ANDREW MCMINN, _an elderly non-descript
sort of man, followed by_ SARAH, _a sour faced spinster of uncertain
age. In the rear is_ DONAL MACKENZIE. _He is wearing a tourist costume
of Norfolk jacket and knickers, and is a keen faced, hard, angular
looking personage._)

JOHN. Yous are all welcome. Every one of you. You Andy and Sarah, and
Mr. Mackenzie. The Scotch is aye welcome, Mr. Mackenzie.

MACKENZIE. Aye. That's what I said the last time I was in Ballyannis,
and was verra thirsty, and went into a beer-shop to get a dram--Black
and White it was. Verra guid. (_He laughs loudly at his own joke._)

SARAH. We brought Mr. Mackenzie along with us to see your brother,
John. You see he's an engineer and knows a good deal about machinery
and plans and things.

MACKENZIE. Aye. There's not much about machinery that I dinna ken, Mr.
Murray, from a forty thousand horse power quadruple expansion doon to
a freewheel bicycle. (_Proudly._) I hae done spells work at all of
them, you ken.

ANDY. I suppose Daniel's at home. Is he?

JOHN. Daniel? Oh aye, Daniel's at home. He's just tidying himself up a
wee bit.

MACKENZIE. A wee bit paint and powder gangs a lang gait to make up
defects, as you ken yourself, Miss McMinn. (_He laughs loudly._)
That's a guid one.

ANDY (_looking slyly at Sarah_). He's up out of bed then?

JOHN (_innocently_). Oh aye. He sits up late of nights working out
things. (_He points to the door of workshop._) That's his workshop.

MACKENZIE. He works then?

JOHN. Aye. He works in there. (_Andy goes over and goes into
workshop._)

MACKENZIE. Because it doesna follow always, as I have discovered in my
experience, that because a man has a workshop, he works. (_He laughs,
evidently much pleased at his own humour._)

ANDY (_looking out again through door_). There's nothing much to see
in this place except a lot of dirty papers.

JOHN. That's the plans of the bellows he's working at.

MACKENZIE (_going over to workshop_). Come out, Mr. McMinn, till I
examine. (_Andy comes out and he passes in._) Eh. This is the plan of
the great bellows. (_He laughs loudly._)

ANDY. Is he making much headway with it, John?

JOHN. Indeed, now, I think he's doing bravely at it. He's keeping very
close at it this day or two.

ANDY. There's a terrible amount of newspapers lying in there. Has he
no other plans and drawings except what's there?

JOHN. Oh aye. He has plenty of plans and drawings somewhere, for I
seen them once or twice.

MACKENZIE (_coming out_). I can't say much about that contrivance.
(_He laughs._) And, I say. Look here. He does more than draw bellows.
He draws corks as well. (_He produces a bottle of whiskey almost
empty._)

JOHN. Ah, well. He's not a great transgressor either in the matter of
a bottle. No, no.

ANDY. And the smell of smoke in the place!

SARAH. John, I think Daniel smokes far too much.

ANDY. He should be dressed by now.

JOHN. Aye. Oh, aye. He should right enough. He's a wee bit backward
before women, you know, Sarah. (_Calls._) Daniel! (_He goes over and
opens door into rooms._) Daniel!

DANIEL (_without_). Yes. (_He appears at the door struggling vainly
with his collar._)

JOHN. Why didn't you come long ago. What kept you?

DANIEL. Your collar. (_He looks across at_ ANDY _and_ SARAH, _who have
seated themselves at the back._) How do you do, Andy and Sarah? You're
very welcome. (_He looks at_ MACKENZIE, _who stares curiously at
him._)

ANDY. This is a friend of ours, Daniel, that happened to be stopping
with us last summer at Newcastle in the same house, and he came over
for his holidays to us this time. We brought him over to see you. They
calls him Mackenzie.

DANIEL (_crossing over to the left and taking a seat near the door of
the workshop._) How do you do?

MACKENZIE (_patronisingly_). I'm glad to see you at last, Mr. Murray,
for I've heard a good deal about you.

SARAH. You see, Daniel, Mr. Mackenzie is an engineer in one of the
great Scotch engineering yards. (DANIEL'S _face expresses his dismay,
which he hurriedly tries to hide._) What place was it you were in, Mr.
Mackenzie?

MACKENZIE. I served six years in the engine and fitting shops with
Messrs. Ferguson, Hartie & Macpherson, and was two years shop foreman
afterwards to Dennison, McLachlan & Co., and now I'm senior partner
with the firm of Stephenson & Mackenzie. If ever you're up in Greenock
direction, and want to see how we do it, just ask for Donal Mackenzie,
and they'll show you the place. (_Proudly._) We're the sole makers of
the Mackenzie piston, if ever you heard of it.

DANIEL (_uneasily_). I'm sorry to say I haven't.

MACKENZIE. And you call yourself an engineer and you don't know about
Donal Mackenzie's patent reciprocating piston.

JOHN (_apologetically_). You see we be a bit out of the world here,
Mr. Mackenzie.

DANIEL. Yes. Now that's one point. One great point that always tells
against me. (_Getting courageous._) It really needs a man to be
continually visiting the great engineering centres--Greenock, London--

MACKENZIE (_scornfully_). London's not an engineering centre--Glasgow,
Hartlepool, Newcastle----

DANIEL. Well, all those places. He could keep himself posted up in all
the newest ideas then, and inventions.

MACKENZIE. But a man can keep himself to the fore if he reads the
technical journals and follows their articles. What technical papers
do you get? Do you ever get the Scottish Engineers' Monthly Handbook,
price sixpence monthly? I'm the writer on the inventors' column. My
articles are signed Fergus McLachlan. Perhaps you've read them?

DANIEL. I think--um--I'm not quite sure that I have.

MACKENZIE. You remember one I wrote on the new compressed air drills
last July?

DANIEL (_looking across at_ JOHN, _who is standing with his back to
the fireplace_). I don't think I do.

JOHN. No. We don't get them sort of papers. I did buy one or two like
them for Daniel, but he told me he would just as soon have the _Whig_,
for there was just as much information in it.

MACKENZIE (_laughing_). O spirit of Burns! Just as much
information--well, so much for that. Now, about this new patent, this
new fan bellows that I hear you're working at, Mr. Murray.

DANIEL. What about it?

ANDY. We both seen the drawings in there, Daniel, but I don't think
either of us made much of it. Could you not explain it to him, Daniel.
Give him an idea what you mean to do with it.

JOHN. Aye. Now's your chance, Daniel. You were talking of some
difficulty or other. Maybe this gentleman could help you with it.

DANIEL (_shifting uneasily, and looking appealingly at_ JOHN). Well.
There's no great hurry. A little later on in the evening. (_He looks
at_ SARAH.) I'm thinking about Miss McMinn. I don't think this
conversation would be very interesting to her.

SARAH. Oh, indeed now, Mr. Murray, I just love to know about it. A
good fan bellows would be the great thing for yon fireplace of ours,
Andy.

ANDY. Aye. Soul, it would that.

DANIEL (_uncomfortably_). No. Not just yet, John. A bit later on. I'm
shy, John, you know. A bit backward before company.

JOHN. You're a man to talk about going to see people in London.

SARAH. What? Was he going to London?

JOHN. Aye. He was talking about going to London, and I was half-minded
to let him go.

ANDY (_who exchanges meaning glances with_ SARAH). Boys, that would
cost a wheen of pounds!

MACKENZIE. Who wull you go to see in London?

DANIEL (_evasively_). Oh--engineers and patent agents and people that
would take an interest in that sort of thing.

MACKENZIE. Have you anyone to go to in particular?

DANIEL. Oh, yes.

SARAH. It will cost a great deal of money, Daniel. Seven or eight
pounds anyway. Won't it, Mr. Mackenzie?

MACKENZIE. It would, and more.

JOHN (_looking at_ SARAH _with evident admiration_). Man, that's a
saving woman. She can count the pounds. (_Suddenly_). Daniel, away out
and show Andy and Mr. Mackenzie the thresher, and get used to the
company, and then you can come in and explain the thing to them. I
want Sarah to stay here and help me to make the tea. That fool of a
Mary is away again somewhere.

ANDY (_after a sly glance at_ SARAH). Aye. Come on, Daniel, and
explain it to us. I hear there's a new kind of feedboard on her.

MACKENZIE. How is she driven, Mr. Murray?

DANIEL (_uncomfortably_). How is she what?

MACKENZIE. How is she worked--steam, horse, or water power, which?

JOHN (_motioning_ DANIEL _to go, which the latter does very
unwillingly_). Go on out and you can show them, Daniel. (DANIEL, ANDY,
_and_ MACKENZIE _go out through yard door._) He's backward, you know,
Sarah, oh, aye--backward; but a great head. A great head on him,
Daniel.

SARAH. I suppose he is clever in his way.

JOHN (_seating himself close beside her and talking with innocent
enthusiasm_). Ah, boys, Sarah, I mind when he went to serve his time
with McArthurs, of Ballygrainey, he was as clever a boy as come out of
the ten townlands. And then he set up for himself, you know, and lost
all, and then he come here. He's doing his best, poor creature, till
pay me for what kindness I showed him, by trying to invent things that
he says would maybe pay off, some time or other, all he owes to me.

SARAH (_cynically_). Poor Daniel! And he lost all his money?

JOHN. Aye. Every ha'penny; and he took a hundred pounds off me as
well. And now, poor soul, he hasn't a shilling, barring an odd pound
or two I give him once or twice a month.

SARAH. Well! Well! And he's been a long time this way?

JOHN. Aye. (_Reflectively._) I suppose it's coming on now to twenty
years.

SARAH. It's a wonder he wouldn't make some shapes to try and get a
situation somewhere.

JOHN. Ach, well, you know, when Annie, the wife, died and left Mary a
wee bit of a wain, I was lonesome, and Daniel was always a right
heartsome fellow, and I never asked him about going when he came here.

SARAH. He must be rather an expense to you. Pocket money for tobacco,
and whenever he goes out a night to McArn's, its a treat all round to
who is in at the time. And his clothes and boots, and let alone that,
his going to see people about patents and things up to Belfast three
or four times in the year. If he was in a situation and doing for
himself, you could save a bit of money.

JOHN (_pensively_). Aye. Heth and I never thought much of that, Sarah.
I could right enough. I'll think over that now. (_He looks at her, and
then begins in a bashful manner._) You weren't at Ballyannis School
fête, Sarah?

SARAH. No. But I heard you were there. Why?

JOHN (_coming still closer_). I was expecting to see you.

SARAH (_contemptuously_). I don't believe in young girls going to them
things.

JOHN (_gazing at her in astonishment_). But God bless me, they
wouldn't call you young! (SARAH _turns up her nose disgustedly._) I
missed you. Man, I was looking for you all roads.

SARAH. I'm not a fool sort of young girl that you can just pass an
idle hour or two with, John Murray, mind that.

JOHN. I never thought that of you, Sarah.

SARAH. Some people think that.

JOHN (_astonished_). No.

SARAH. They do. There's Andy just after warning me this morning about
making a fool of myself.

JOHN (_puzzled_). But you never done that, Sarah.

SARAH. Well, he was just after giving me advice about going round
flirting with Tom, Dick and Harry.

JOHN. Ah no. You never done that. Sure I knowed you this years and
years, and you never had a boy to my knowing.

SARAH (_offended_). Well I had, plenty. Only I just wouldn't take
them. I refused more than three offers in my time.

JOHN (_incredulously_). Well! Well! And you wouldn't have them!

SARAH. No.

JOHN. Why now?

SARAH (_looking at him meaningly_). Well--I liked somebody else
better.

JOHN (_piqued_). Did he--the somebody--did he never ask you?

SARAH. He might yet, maybe.

JOHN (_hopelessly to himself_). I wonder would it be any use then me
asking her.

SARAH. And I'm beginning to think he is a long time thinking about it.
(_Knocking at the door._)

JOHN (_angrily_). Ach! Who's that?

BROWN (_opening yard door and looking in_). Me, sir. Mr. Dan wants to
know could you not come out a minute, and show the gentlemen what way
you can stop the feedboard working.

JOHN. Don't you know yourself, you stupid headed lump you. Away back
at once. (BROWN _hurriedly closes the door after an inquiring glance
at the pair._) That's them servant men for you. He knowed rightly what
way it worked, only he was just curious. (_Savagely._) He's a stupid
creature, anyway.

SARAH. I think all men is stupid. They never see things at all.

JOHN. Now, Sarah, sure women are just as bad. There's Mary. She's
bright enough someways, but others--ach----

SARAH. Mary needs someone--a woman--to look after her. Somebody that
knows how to manage a house and save money. She's lost running about
here. Now, I had a young girl with me once was a wild useless thing
when she came, and when she left me six months after, there wasn't a
better trained, nor as meek a child in the whole country.

JOHN. And you can manage a house, Sarah, and well, too. Can't you?

SARAH. I ran the house for Andy there twenty years and more, and I
never once had to ask him for a pound. And what's more, I put some
into the bank every quarter.

JOHN. Did you now? (_He looks at her in wondering admiration._)

SARAH. Yes. And I cleared five pounds on butter last half year.

JOHN (_with growing wonder_). Did you?

SARAH. And made a profit of ten pounds on eggs alone this year
already.

JOHN (_unable to contain himself any longer_). Sarah, will you marry
me?

SARAH (_coyly_). Oh, John, this is very sudden. (_Knocking at yard
door._) I will. I will. Will you tell them when they come in?

JOHN (_now that the ordeal has been passed, feeling somewhat
uncomfortable_). Well, I would rather you waited a few days, and then
we could let them know, canny, don't you know, Sarah. Break the news
soft, so to speak. Eh?

SARAH (_disappointedly_). Well, if you want it particular that way
I--(_knocking_).

JOHN (_going to door_). Aye, I'd rather you did. (_He goes to the door
and opens it and_ MARY _comes in._)

MARY. I peeped through the window and I thought, perhaps, it would be
better to knock first. It's a nice evening Miss McMinn. (_She takes
off her hat and flings it carelessly on a chair._) Where's Uncle Dan?
I want to see him.

JOHN. He'll be in soon enough. He's out showing Andy and Mackenzie the
thresher.

MARY (_laughing_). Uncle Dan! What does he know about----(_she stops
short, remembering that_ SARAH _is present._) Mr. Mackenzie?

SARAH. Yes. He's a gentleman, a friend of ours, engaged in the
engineering business, who has a large place of his own in Scotland,
and we brought him over here to see your Uncle Dan about the invention
he's working at.

JOHN. You stop here, Mary, with Sarah, and get the tea ready. You
should have been in the house when company was coming. Where were you?

MARY. Oh, just down the loaning.

JOHN. Who with?

MARY. Alick McCready.

JOHN (_sternly_). Aye. You're gay fond of tralloping about with the
boys.

SARAH. He's not just the sort of young man I would like to see in your
company, Mary.

MARY (_impertinently_). It's none of your business whose company I was
in.

JOHN (_disapprovingly_). Now, Mary, remember your manners in front of
your elders, and mind you must always show Miss McMinn particular
respect. (_Impressively_). Particular respect. (_Going towards yard
door._) And you can show Sarah what you have in the house, and do what
she bids you. Them's my orders. (_He goes out._)

SARAH (_looking disapprovingly at_ MARY). I wonder a girl like you has
no more sense than to go gallivanting about at this time of day with
boys, making talk for the whole country side.

MARY (_sharply_). I don't have to run after them to other people's
houses anyway.

SARAH. And that is no way to be leaving down your hat. (_She picks it
up and looks at it._) Is that your Sunday one?

MARY (_snatching it out of her hand_). Just find out for yourself.

SARAH. Now, you should take and put it away carefully. There's no need
to waste money that way, wearing things out.

MARY (_with rising temper_). Do you know it's _my_ hat? Not yours. And
I can do what I like with it. (_She throws it down and stamps on it._)
I can tramp on it if I want to.

SARAH (_smiling grimly_). Oh, well, tramp away. It's no wonder your
father complained of waste and this sort of conduct going on.

(KATE _comes in through door from rooms._)

MARY. Have you got the tea things ready, Kate?

KATE. Yes, Miss.

MARY. I suppose we better wet the tea.

SARAH (_looking at the fire_). Have you the kettle on?

MARY. Can't you see for yourself it's not on.

SARAH. Here, girl (_to_ KATE), fill the kettle and put it on. (KATE
_looks at_ MARY, _and with a shrug of her shoulders, obeys the
orders._) Where's the tea till I show you how to measure?

MARY (_in a mocking voice_). Kate, get Miss McMinn the tea cannister
till she shows you how to measure. (KATE _goes to the dresser and
brings the teapot and cannister over to_ SARAH _at the table._)

SARAH. But it's _you_ I want to show. (MARY _pays no attention, but
sits down idly drumming her fingers on the table._) There now--pay
particular attention to this. (_She takes the cannister from_ KATE,
_opens it and ladles out the tea with a spoon into the teapot._) One
spoonful for your father and uncle, one for my brother and Mr.
Mackenzie, one for yourself and me, and half-a-one for Kate.

MARY. Do you see that, Kate?

KATE. Yes, Miss.

MARY (_mockingly_). Now the next thing, I suppose, is to weigh out the
sugar.

SARAH. No. You always ask the company first do they take sugar before
you pour out the tea.

MARY. No; not in good society. You put it on the saucers.

SARAH. Put some in the bowl, Kate, and never heed her.

MARY (_almost tearfully_). You've no business to say that, Kate! Who's
your mistress here?

KATE (_very promptly_). You, Miss.

MARY. Then do what I tell you. Put on the tablecloth, and lay the cups
and saucers, and make everything ready, and take no orders except from
me.

SARAH. Very well. I'll learn her manners when I come to this house.
(_To_ MARY) I want to see the china.

MARY. Well, go into the next room and look for it.

SARAH (_going towards door to rooms_). You better mind what your
father told you. (_She goes in._)

MARY (_making a face after her_). You nasty old thing. (DANIEL
_appears at the door from yard. He is nervous and worried looking. He
goes and sits down near the fireplace, wearily._) Uncle Dan. (_She
goes over close beside him._) Wasn't it good of Alick? He went away to
Ballyannis Post Office to get that telegram sent.

DANIEL. A very decent fellow, Alick. (_Gratefully._) Very obliging.

MARY (_confidingly_). Do you know, uncle, when he went off to send
that telegram I was nearly calling him back. I don't care so very much
now whether I see that boy you were telling me about or not. Is he--do
you think, uncle--is he much nicer than Alick?

DANIEL. Nicer? (_He looks at his niece, and then begins to divine the
way her feelings lie._) Well, of course we have all our opinions on
these things you know, Mary, but Alick--well, after all there's many a
worse fellow than Alick, isn't there? (MARY _does not answer, but puts
her head close to her uncle._) Ah, yes.

MARY (_suddenly_). Uncle! Do you know what has happened? I heard
father proposing to Miss McMinn!

DANIEL (_groaning_). Oh my! I knew it would happen! I knew it would
happen! When? Where?

MARY. In here. I wanted to slip in quietly after leaving Alick down
the loaning when I overheard the voices. It was father and Miss
McMinn. She was telling him how she had saved five pounds on butter
last half year, and ten pounds on eggs this year, and then father
asked her to marry him. I knocked at the door out of divilment, and
she just pitched herself at him. I--I'm not going to stay in the house
with that woman. I'd sooner marry Alick McCready.

DANIEL (_despairingly_). I would myself. I daren't--I couldn't face
the look of that woman in the mornings.

MARY. It's all right for you to talk, uncle. You'll be working away at
your inventions, and that sort of thing, and will have nothing much to
do with her, but I'd be under her thumb all the time. And I hate her,
and I know she hates me. (_Tearfully._) And then the way father talks
about her being such a fine housekeeper, and about the waste that goes
on in this house, it nearly makes me cry, just because I have been a
bit careless maybe. But I could manage a house every bit as well as
she could, and I'd show father that if I only got another chance.
Couldn't I uncle?

DANIEL (_soothingly_). And far better, Mary. Far better.

MARY. And you could do far more at your invention if you only got a
chance. Couldn't you, uncle?

DANIEL. No doubt about it, Mary. None. I never got much of a chance
here.

MARY. I wonder could we both try to get another chance. (_Suddenly,
with animation._) Uncle!

DANIEL. Well?

MARY. Aren't you going to explain that fan bellows thing you've been
working at to them when they come in? (DANIEL _nods sadly._) Well,
look. That Scotchman--he understands things like that, and that's just
the reason why that nasty woman brought him over. Just to trip you and
show you up, and she thinks she'll make father see through you. But
just you rise to the occasion and astonish them. Eh, uncle?

DANIEL (_uneasily_). Um--well, I don't know. That Scotchman's rather a
dense sort of fellow. Very hard to get on with somehow.

MARY. Now, Uncle Dan, it's our last chance. Let us beat that woman
somehow or other.

DANIEL. It's all very well, Mary, to talk that way. (_Suddenly._) I
wonder is there a book on machinery in the house?

MARY. Machinery? Let me think. Yes, I do believe KATE was reading some
book yesterday about things, and there was something about machinery
in it.

DANIEL. For Heaven's sake, Mary, get it.

MARY (_calling_). Kate! Are you there, Kate? (KATE _comes in from
inner rooms._) Where's that book you were reading last night, Kate?

KATE (_surprised_). For dear's sake, Miss! Yon dirty old thing? The
one with the big talk between the old fellow and the son about
everything in the world you could think of?

MARY. Yes, yes. Uncle Dan wants it. (KATE _fetches a tattered volume
from the dresser and hands it to_ DANIEL. DANIEL _opens it, and reads
while the two girls peer over his shoulder._)

DANIEL (_reading slowly_). "The Child's Educator. A series of
conversations between Charles and his father regarding the natural
philosophy, as revealed to us, by the Very Reverend Ezekiel
Johnston."

KATE. (_much interested_). Aye. Just go on till you see Mr. Dan. Its
the queerest conversation between an old lad and his son ever you
heard tell of.

DANIEL (_reading_). Ah! "The simple forms of machines. The lever, the
wedge, the inclined plane--Father--and here we come to further consider
the application of this principle, my dear Charles, to what is known
as the differential wheel and axle. Um Charles--Father--Charles.
Father." (_He looks up despairingly at_ MARY.) No good, my dear. Out
of date. (_He, however, resumes reading the book carefully._)

KATE (_nudging_ MARY, _and pointing to door into rooms_). She's going
into all the cupboards and drawers, and looking at everything. (_She
turns to go back and opens the door to pass through._) I never seen
such a woman.

MARY (_raising her voice so as to let_ SARAH _hear her_). Just keep an
eye on her, Kate, and see she doesn't take anything.

DANIEL. I might get something out of this. Atmosphere. Pressure.

MARY. Uncle Dan. (_He pays no attention, but is absorbed in the
book_). Uncle Dan, I'm going down the loaning a pace. Alick said he
might be back, and I think--(_she sees he is not listening, and slips
back to look over his shoulder._)

DANIEL (_reading_). Charles. And now my dear father, after discussing
in such clear and lucid terms the use of the barometer, and how it is
constructed, could you tell me or explain the meaning of the word
"pneumatic."

MARY (_going towards yard door_). Good luck, Uncle Danny. I'm away.
(_She goes out._)

DANIEL. There's not much here about bellows. (_Hopelessly._) I wish I
had made up this subject a little better. (KATE _comes in evidently
much perturbed and angry._)

KATE. The divil take her and them remarks of hers. Who gave her the
right to go searching that way, I wonder? Where's the silver kept, and
was it locked, and how many spoons was there, and why weren't they
better polished; and part of the china broke.

SARAH (_coming to door and speaking. As soon as_ DANIEL _hears her
voice he hurriedly retreats across to the workshop._) Where do you
keep the knives and forks?

KATE. You don't want forks for the tea.

SARAH. I want to count them.

Kate (_in amazement_). Oh, God save us! You'd think there was a pross
on the house! (_She follows_ SARAH _in through door_ MACKENZIE _comes
in, followed by_ JOHN, _then_ ANDY.)

MACKENZIE. And it was a great idea, you know. The steam passed through
the condenser, and the exhaust was never open to the atmosphere.

JOHN (_evidently much impressed, and repeating the word in a wondering
manner_) Aye. The exhaust!

MACKENZIE. Aye. The exhaust. But now I'm verra anxious to hear your
brother explaining what he's made out about the bellows. Its the small
things like that you ken that a man makes a fortune of, not the big
ones.

JOHN (_impressed_). Do you think that now?

MACKENZIE. You know I take a particular interest in bellows myself. I
tried my hand a good while working out a new kind of bellows, and I
flatter myself that I know something about the subject.

JOHN. Aye. (_Looking round._) Where's Daniel? Daniel! Are you there,
Daniel? (DANIEL _comes out and stands near the door._) You could maybe
bring them plans out you're working at and explain it to them now,
Daniel. Eh? And wait, Sarah wants to hear it too. (_Calling._) Are you
there, Sarah?

DANIEL (_seating himself sadly_). Aye. She's in there somewhere taking
stock.

JOHN (_going next door to rooms_). Are you there, dear? (SARAH _comes
out._) Daniel's going to explain the thing to us, and you wanted to
hear about it. Didn't you?

SARAH. I'm just dying to know all about it. (_She seats herself to the
right at back._ ANDY _sits on one side of the table and_ MACKENZIE
_at the other, expectantly, while_ JOHN _goes over to the fireplace
almost opposite his brother._) You know, Mr. Daniel, that's one thing
we want very bad in our house--a good fan bellows.

DANIEL. They are very useful, very.

JOHN. Aye. They are that. (_To_ SARAH). He has a good head on him,
Daniel. Eh? (_To_ DANIEL.) Now go on and make it very plain so that
every one can follow you. Bring out the plans and show us.

DANIEL (_uneasily._) I can explain it better without them. (_After a
pause._) Well, I suppose this subject of bellows would come under the
heading of pneumatics in natural philosophy.

JOHN. Oh, now, don't be going off that way. Could you not make it
plainer nor that?

DANIEL (_appealingly_). Well. Could I be much plainer, Mr. Mackenzie?

MACKENZIE (_cynically_). I'm here to discuss fan bellows, not
pneumatics.

DANIEL (_sotto voce_). D----n him. (_He pulls himself together._)
Well. Then I suppose the first thing is--well--to know what is a
bellows.

ANDY. Aye. Man, Daniel, you start off just the same as the clergy.
That's the way they always goes on expounding things to you.

SARAH (_severely_). Don't be interrupting, Andy.

MACKENZIE (_sneeringly_). Well, I think everyone here knows what a
bellows is.

DANIEL. Everyone here? Do you, John?

JOHN. Aye. I would like, Daniel, to hear right what a bellows is. I
mean I can see the thing blowing up a fire when you use it, any man
could see that--but its the workings of it. What's the arrangements
and internal works of the bellows now, Daniel?

DANIEL. Well, you push the handles together in an ordinary bellows
and--and the air--blows out. (_Seeing that this statement is received
coldly._) Now, why does it blow out?

JOHN (_disappointedly_). Because it's pushed out of course. There's no
sense in asking that sort of a question.

DANIEL. Well, there's a flap on the bellows--a thing that moves up and
down. Well, that flap has all to do with pushing the air.

JOHN. Maybe this scientifican business is uninteresting to you, Sarah,
is it?

DANIEL (_brightening up at the suggestion_). I'm sure it is. Perhaps
we better stop.

SARAH (_smiling grimly_). Oh, not at all. I want to hear more.

MACKENZIE. You're wasting a lot of my time, Mr. Murray. I came here to
hear about a fan bellows.

DANIEL (_confusedly_). Oh, yes. Yes. Certainly. Fan bellows. There's a
difference between a fan bellows and an ordinary bellows.

MARY (_opening door from yard and coming in_). Oh, Uncle Dan, are you
explaining it to them. Did I miss much of it?

MACKENZIE. I don't think it matters much what time you come in during
this.

JOHN (_impatiently_). Go on, Daniel.

DANIEL. It's very hard for me to go on with these constant
interruptions. Well, I was just saying there was a difference between
a fan bellows and an ordinary bellows.

MACKENZIE. Now, what is a fan bellows yourself, Mr. Murray?

DANIEL (_hopelessly_). A fan bellows? Ah. Why now is it called a fan
bellows?

MACKENZIE (_roughly_). Don't be asking me my own questions.

DANIEL (_with a despairing effort_). Well, now we will take it for
granted it is because there must be something of the nature of a fan
about a fan bellows. It is because there are fans inside the casing.
And the handle being turned causes these--eh--fans to turn round too.
And then the air comes out with a rush.

JOHN. Aye. It must be the fans that pushes it out.

DANIEL. Exactly. Well, now, the difficulty we find here is--(_he
pauses_).

ANDY. Aye.

JOHN. Go on, Daniel.

DANIEL. You want a constant draught blowing. That's number one.
Then--well--the other. You see, if we took some of these fans.

MACKENZIE. Yes.

DANIEL (_in a floundering way_). And put them in a tight-fitting case,
and put more of them inside, and understood exactly what their size
was, we could arrange for the way that--

JOHN (_in a puzzled way to_ SARAH). I can only follow Daniel a short
way too. (_Repeating slowly._) Put them in a tight-fitting case--

BROWN (_appearing at yard door with a telegram in his hand, and
speaking with suppressed excitement_). A telegram for Mr. Daniel.

DANIEL (_with a gasp of relief_). Ah! (_He tears it open and proudly
reads it out aloud._) "Come to London at once to explain patent. Want
to purchase. Gregg."

(BROWN _goes out again._)

MACKENZIE. Who? Gregg?

DANIEL. I suppose I better go, John?

JOHN. Let's see the telegram. (_He goes over to_ DANIEL, _who hands it
to him._)

MACKENZIE. If you go to London, it'll take you to explain yourself a
bit better, Mr. Murray.

JOHN (_who has resumed his place at the fire, and is looking carefully
at the telegram_). That will mean how many pounds, Daniel, did you
say?

DANIEL (_promptly_). Fifteen, John. (MARY _goes out by door to
rooms._)

MACKENZIE. Who is Gregg?

DANIEL. Gregg? Ah. He's a man lives in London. Engineer.

JOHN (_dubiously_). Well, I suppose you--(_he pauses, then hands the
telegram to_ SARAH, _who stretches out her hand for it._)

MARY (_at door_). Tea's ready. (_She stands aside to let the company
past._)

SARAH. We didn't hear all about the bellows.

ANDY (_contemptuously_). No, nor you never will. (_He rises and goes
through the door._)

MACKENZIE (_rising and stretching himself wearily_). Any more, Mr.
Murray?

DANIEL. I refuse to discuss the matter any further in public. (_He
goes off across to tea._)

MACKENZIE (_going over to John and looking at him knowingly_). Do you
know what it is, Mr. Murray? Your brother's nothing short of an
impostor.

JOHN (_much offended_). Don't dare to say that of a Murray.

MACKENZIE (_shrugging his shoulders_). Well, I'm going for some tea.
(_Exit._)

SARAH. John, I've something to say to you again about Daniel, but the
company's waiting. (_She goes out to the tea room._)

JOHN (_sitting down moodily_). Aye.

MARY. Are you not coming, father?

JOHN. Aye.

MARY. Father! Surely you aren't going to marry that woman?

JOHN. Don't talk of Sarah that ways. I am!

MARY. Well, if you are, I'm going to say yes to Alick McCready. I
don't want to yet awhile, but I'm not going to stay on here if that
nasty woman comes. (_She kneels close beside her father and puts her
arms round his neck._) Oh, father, if you only give me another chance,
I could show you I could keep house every bit as well as that woman.
(DANIEL _appears at the door. He slips across to the workshop
unobserved._) Give me another chance, father. Don't marry her at all.
Let me stay with you--won't you?

JOHN. You're too late. She's trothed to me now.

MARY. Pooh. I'd think nothing of that. (DANIEL _comes out of the
workshop with a bag._) Uncle Dan! What's the matter?

DANIEL. Mary, I can't eat and sit beside that Scotchman. (_He notices_
JOHN _is absorbed in deep thought, and motions_ MARY _to slip out. She
does so, and he looks observingly at_ JOHN, _and then goes to the
table, and makes a noise with the bag on the table._ JOHN _watches him
a moment or two in amazed silence._)

JOHN. What are you doing, Daniel?

DANIEL. Just making a few preparations.

JOHN. Ah, but look here. I haven't settled about London yet, Daniel.

DANIEL. Oh, London, John. (_Deprecatingly._) Let that pass. I won't
worry you about that. (_Broken heartedly._) I'm leaving your house,
John.

JOHN (_astonished_). What?

DANIEL. You've been kind, John. Very kind. We always pulled well
together, and never had much cross words with one another, but--well,
circumstances are altered now.

JOHN. You mean because I'm going to marry Sarah.

DANIEL. Exactly. That puts an end to our long and pleasant sojourn
here together. I'll have to go.

JOHN (_affected_). Oh easy, Daniel. Ah, now, Sarah always liked you.
She thinks a deal of you, and I'm sure she'd miss you out of the house
as much as myself.

DANIEL. John, I know better. She wants me out of this, and I would
only be a source of unhappiness. I wouldn't like to cause you sorrow.
She doesn't believe in me. She brought that Scotchman over to try and
show me up. You all think he did. You think I mugged the thing. You
don't believe in me now yourself. (_He puts a few articles of
clothing, &c., into the bag._)

JOHN (_awkwardly_). Aye. Well--to tell you the truth, Daniel, you did
not make much of a hand at explaining, you----

DANIEL (_pathetically_). I thought so. Look here. One word. (_He
draws_ JOHN _aside._) Do you think Mackenzie invented that patent
reciprocating piston that he's so proud of?

JOHN (_looking at him in amazement_). What?

DANIEL (_impressively_). Well. I know something about that. He stole
it off another man, and took all the profits. I knew that. Do you
think I'm going to give away the product of my brains explaining it to
a man like that! No fear, John. (_He turns again to the bag._) I'm
taking details of my bellows, and my coat, and a few socks, and the
pound you gave me yesterday, and I'm going to face the world alone.

JOHN (_moved_). No, no. You'll not leave me, Daniel. Ah, no. I never
meant that.

DANIEL. If she's coming here I'll have to go, and may as well now.

SARAH (_without_). John Murray!

DANIEL (_retreating slowly to the workshop_). I'm going to get that
other coat you gave me. It's better than this one for seeing people
in. (_He goes into workshop as_ SARAH _comes out into the kitchen. She
is evidently displeased._)

SARAH. Hurry up, John. The company's waiting on you, and I don't know
what's keeping you. Unless it was that brother of yours, more shame to
him.

JOHN. Aye. Daniel kept me. (_Looking at her._) He's talking of
leaving. You wouldn't have that, Sarah, would you?

SARAH (_sharply_). Leaving, is he? And a right good riddance say I.
What has he done but ate up all your substance.

JOHN (_astonished_). You wouldn't put him out, Sarah?

SARAH (_snappishly_). I just wouldn't have him about the place. An
idle, good for nothing, useless, old pull a cork.

JOHN. Do you not like him, Sarah? (_Somewhat disapprovingly._) You
told me you thought a good deal of him before.

SARAH. Aye. Until I seen through him. Him and his letters and
telegrams. Just look at that. (_She shows him the telegram._) It comes
from Ballyannis.

JOHN (_scratching his head in puzzled wonder_). I don't understand
that.

SARAH. He just put up some one to send it. Young McCready or someone.
You couldn't watch a man like that. No. If I come here, out he goes.
You expects me to come and save you money and the like of that old
bauchle eating up the profits. (_She goes towards the door into tea
room._) Come into your tea at once. (_Exit._)

JOHN. By me sang he was right. (DANIEL _comes out and starts brushing
his coat loudly to attract_ JOHN'S _attention, and then goes across
towards him and holds out his hand._)

DANIEL. I'll say good-bye, John. Maybe I'll never see you again. (_He
appears much affected._)

JOHN (_touched_). Ach. Take your time. I don't see the sense of this
hurrying. Stop a week or two, man. I'll be lonesome without you. We
had many a good crack in the evenings, Daniel.

DANIEL. We had, John. And I suppose now that you'll be married I'll
have to go, but many a time I'll be sitting lonely and thinking of
them.

JOHN. Aye. You were always the best of company, and heartsome. You
were, Daniel.

DANIEL. Well, I did my best, John, to keep--(_he half breaks
down_)--to keep up a good heart.

JOHN. You did. I wouldn't like to lose you, Daniel. (_He looks at the
telegram in his hand._) But Daniel. This telegram. It comes from
Ballyannis.

DANIEL (_taken aback, but recovering his self possession._)
Ballyannis? Ballyannis? Ah, of course. Sure Gregg, that London man, he
was to go through Ballyannis to-day. He's on a visit, you know,
somewhere this way. It's him I'm going to look for now.

JOHN. Was that the way of it? (_With rising anger at the thought of
the way in which his brother has been treated._) And she was for
making you out an impostor and for putting you out. I didn't like
them talking of a Murray the way they done.

DANIEL (_with sudden hope_). Are you engaged to that McMinn woman,
John?

JOHN. Aye. I spoke the word the day.

DANIEL. Was there anybody there when you asked her?

JOHN. There was no one.

DANIEL. Did you write her letters?

JOHN. No. Not a line.

DANIEL. And did you visit and court much at the home?

JOHN. No. I always seen Andy on business and stopped to have a word or
two with her.

DANIEL (_appealingly_). Then, John, John, it's not too late yet.
(_Desperately._) Give me--ah, give wee Mary another chance.

SARAH (_at door_). Come in, John, at once. Your tea's cold waiting,
and it's no way to entertain company that.

JOHN (_angrily_). D----n her. Daniel! Out of this home you will not
go. I'd rather have your crack of a winter night as two hundred pounds
in the bank and yon woman. (_He reaches out his hand._) I'll break the
match. (_The two men shake hands._)

(CURTAIN.)



ACT III


_The same scene two weeks later._ BROWN _comes in by yard door holding
letters in his hand, which he examines curiously at intervals._


BROWN (_shouting loudly_). Miss Mary! Are you there, Miss Mary?

KATE (_coming in from parlour_). Hi there. Stop that shouting. D'ye
want to wake the dead?

BROWN. I want to give these letters to Miss Mary. Where is she?

KATE. Who're they for? Let's look at them.

BROWN. Not for you anyway. (_Loudly._) Miss Mary.

KATE. Ach quit deaving me with your shouting.

MARY (_coming in_). What's the matter? Oh! Letters! Any for me, Sam?

BROWN. Aye. There's a post card for you, Miss Mary, and a registered
letter for Mr. John. The posty says he'll call on the road back for
the account when you sign it. (_He hands the post card to_ MARY _and
looks carefully at the letter._) It's like the MCMINN writing that.
(_He looks at_ MARY, _who is reading and re-reading the post card with
a puzzled expression._) Isn't Mr. Dan to be home to-day from Belfast,
Miss Mary?

MARY. Eh?

BROWN. Isn't Mr. Dan expected home to-day from Belfast?

MARY. Yes.

BROWN. I wonder did he get the bellows sold? There was great talking
about him last night in McArn's. Some said he had sold it and made a
fortune. (_He breaks off abruptly on seeing that_ MARY _pays no
attention to him, and then peers over to see what she is reading._)
Post cards is interesting things. Picture post cards is.

KATE. Here. Away out and get them purtas dug for the dinner. We're
tired hearing your gabble.

BROWN (_retreating to door and eyeing_ KATE _meaningly_). The master
was complaining again to me yesterday evening about the dinner he got.
There's no mistake he likes his meat like myself, and right enough it
was bad yesterday. I was chowing haws all evening to keep off the
hunger.

KATE. Go on you out of this.

BROWN. That's all the news this morning. (_He makes a grimace at_ KATE
_and goes out into the yard._)

MARY. I can't understand this post card. (KATE _goes over and looks at
it along with_ MARY.)

    "O wad that God the gift wad gie us,
     To see oorselves as ithers see us."

What does that mean? "How's the uncle?" It's some cheeky person
anyway--"from D.M." Who could that be?

KATE. It's not McCready, Miss, is it?

MARY. No. That's not his writing.

KATE. Och, Miss Mary! Do you see the picture of the Highland man
dancing, and under it--"A Mackenzie Clansman." It's thon Scotch fellow
sent it.

MARY. Just like the way he would do. I met him again one night we were
over at the doctor's, and he was trying to make up to me all he was
able.

KATE. Aye. Any word from Mr. Dan about the boy he was to bring you?

MARY. No. I'm not going to bother any more about boys, I'm going to
keep house from this on properly. But Uncle Dan said something in his
last letter about a great surprise he had for all of us.

KATE. Surprise enough it will be, and he lands home with a ha'penny in
his pocket. The last time he come home he borrowed a shilling of me
and niver paid me back yet. Did he sell the plans of the bellows,
Miss?

MARY. He didn't say. (JOHN MURRAY _comes through yard door. He has
evidently been working outside and has left his work in a hurry._)
Father, there's a letter for you. (_She hands it to him._) A
registered one too.

JOHN. Aye. So Brown was telling me. Maybe its from thon McAlenan
fellow that owes me two pound for the heifer. (_He tears it open._
MARY _and_ KATE _watch him with interest. His face changes as he
reads, and an expression of dismay comes over it._)

MARY (_coming closer to him_). What's the matter, father?

JOHN (_fidgeting uneasily_). Nothing, child. Nothing. (_He looks at
the letter again._) Well I'm--(_He stops short on remembering_ MARY
_is there._) She's a caution.

MARY. Father. Tell me. Is it from the McMinns?

JOHN. Aye. (_Pacing up and down._) I knowed she'd do it. I knowed
she'd do it.

MARY. What?

JOHN. Sarah's taking an action against me.

MARY. An action?

JOHN. Aye. (_Consulting the letter._) For a thousand pounds.

MARY (_awestruck_). A thousand pounds!

JOHN. Aye. Now the fat's in the fire. She says I promised to marry her
and broke it off. At least, it's Andy that writes the letter, but it's
her that put him up to it. I know that too well. (_Reading._) "To Mr.
John Murray. Dear Sir,--You have acted to my sister in a most
ungentlemanly way, and done her much wrong, and I have put the case
intil the hands of Mr. McAllen, the solicitor, who will bring it
forward at the coming Assizes. If you wish, however, to avoid a
scandal, we are oped to settle the matter by private arrangement for
one thousand pounds. Yours truly, Andrew McMinn."

MARY. That's awful, father, isn't it?

JOHN (_going over to fireplace and standing there irresolutely_). Aye.
It's a terrible mess, right enough.

MARY (_brightening up_). Sure she wouldn't get a thousand off you,
father?

KATE. There's John McArdle up by Slaney Cross got a hundred pounds
took off him by wee Miss Black, the school teacher.

JOHN (_uncomfortably_). Aye. Heth now, I just call that to mind. And
he never got courting her at all, I believe.

KATE. It just served him right. He was always a great man for having
five or six girls running after him.

JOHN. And she hadn't much of a case against him.

KATE. The school children were standing by when he asked her in a
joking sort of way would she marry him, and the court took their
evidence.

JOHN (_hopelessly_). Aye. Men are always terrible hard on other men
where women are concerned.

KATE. And a good job it is, or half the girls would be at the church
waiting, and the groom lying at home rueing his bargain. (_She goes
out by yard door._)

MARY (_going up to her father_). Father, has she a good case against
you?

JOHN (_after a moment of deep thought_). No. I don't think it.

MARY. Don't worry so much then, father.

JOHN. It's the jury I'm so frightened of. They all come from the
mountainy district at this Assizes, and there's not a man of them but
wouldn't put a knife in me, the way I get beating them down in price
at the fairs.

MARY. I don't think they'd give her fifty pounds when they see her.
It's only good looking girls would get big sums like a thousand
pounds.

JOHN. It's all very well, Mary, but she could dress herself to look
nice enough, the same Sarah, if she liked.

MARY. She could not, indeed.

JOHN. They say, at least Brown was hinting to me, that its yon Scotch
fellow, Mackenzie, has put up the McMinns to this business. He and
that connection are as thick as thieves.

MARY. He mightn't be so very fond of them. When a man sends post cards
to a girl he doesn't know very well, he's got a wee bit of a liking
for her.

JOHN. What are you talking about? I never sent her any post cards.

MARY. Father, what are you going to do?

JOHN (_despairingly_). I'm d----d if I know.

MARY. Will you defend the case?

JOHN. I don't want to go near the court at all.

MARY. Father! (_Alarmed._) Father! Sure you wouldn't--you couldn't
think of marrying her after all that row that happened? (JOHN _remains
silent._) Wouldn't you rather lose a thousand pounds and keep me,
father? (JOHN _breaks a piece of soda bread morosely and eats it._)
Wouldn't you, father.

JOHN. Ah! (_He spits out the bread._) Heaven save us, what kind of
bread's that?

MARY (_taking away the bread and putting it behind her back._) Father!
Ah please, please, don't marry her anyway. Sure you won't?

BROWN (_coming in hastily_). Here's Mr. Dan coming up the loaning,
sir, that grand looking you'd hardly know him, and a big cigar in his
mouth.

JOHN. Daniel back?

MARY. Oh, I must go out and meet him. (_She goes out by yard door
quickly._)

JOHN. Had he his luggage with him?

BROWN. Aye. He has yon big portmanteau of his, and a parcel of
something or other.

JOHN. Away out and help him then, can't you? (BROWN _goes out._) I
wonder what kept him in Belfast all this time. I suppose he's spent
most of the five pounds I gave him. Like enough. I never mind him
coming back yet with a ha'penny on him. (_He sits down at the
fireplace and looks again at the letter._) A thousand pounds! And
there never was a breach of promise case known where they didn't bring
in a verdict for the woman. Never! (_He becomes absorbed in thought,
and as he sits ruminating_ MARY _opens the door, carrying a large
brown paper parcel, followed by_ DANIEL. DANIEL _is dressed fairly
well, and seems to be in high spirits._ BROWN _follows him carrying a
portmanteau._)

DANIEL (_brightly_). Home again, John.

JOHN (_morosely_). Aye. It was near time, I think.

DANIEL. Saw quite a number of people this time, John. A great number.
They were all very much interested. Fine town, Belfast. Growing very
rapidly. Wonderful place.

MARY. What's in the parcel? (_She looks at it with great curiosity._)

DANIEL. Ah, that--that't the great secret. Mum's the word. All in good
time, Mary.

BROWN. Will I leave your bag here, Mr. Dan?

DANIEL. Yes. Here's a sixpence for you. (_He hands it to_ BROWN.)

JOHN. You're brave and free-handed with your money. Giving the like of
that bauchle sixpence. (BROWN, _who is going out through yard door,
stares back at his master protestingly, and then goes out._) The Lord
knows but we will be wanting every ha'penny we can scrape together,
and soon enough.

MARY. I didn't tell Uncle Dan yet, father.

DANIEL (_seating himself near the workshop door_). Has anything
happened?

MARY. Yes. Sarah McMinn has----

JOHN. Read that letter, Daniel. (_He goes across and hands_ DANIEL
_the letter, and goes back to the fireplace to watch him._)

DANIEL (_taking out his glasses and solemnly perusing the letter_).
Um.

JOHN. Well? What do you think of that?

DANIEL (_endeavouring to appear cheerful._) Keep up a stout heart,
John. You're safe enough.

JOHN. Oh, heth, I'm not so sure of that. Sure you never heard tell of
a jury yet that didn't give damages against the defendant in a breach
of promise case. Did you now?

DANIEL. Tuts, man. She has no case.

JOHN. Case or no case it doesn't seem to matter. What sort of case had
Jennie Black against John McArdle, of Slaney Cross? None. What sort of
case had Maggie McAndless against old William Boyd? None at all. I was
at both of them trials and says to Pat McAleenan--"the girl has no
case at all!" But for all that they brought in a verdict for one
hundred pounds against McArdle, and they put two hundred against old
Boyd, and nearly broke the two of them.

DANIEL. It's very awkward this.

JOHN. Did you do anything, Daniel about the bellows?

DANIEL. The bellows? Aye. (_He points at the parcel._) A good deal,
John. It's all there. But it's all not quite settled yet. A day or two
more and you'll see. If all goes well I'll have a great surprise for
you in a day or two.

JOHN (_disgustedly_). Ach! I suppose you spent every ha'penny of the
money, too, that I gave you?

DANIEL. John. Another surprise for you! Those people I met and went
to, put me up very cheap for the week. Very cheap. (_He produces some
money._) Therees one pound ten and sixpence for you.

JOHN. What?

DANIEL. I'll keep the pound to do me to the end of the month and not
ask you for any more, John, after that. That is if--well--(_He looks
at the parcel._) That thing there is all right.

JOHN (_pocketing the ten and sixpence after counting it carefully_).
Daniel. I'm sorry, but there's an account of some thirty shillings I
owe the McArdles, and I want to pay it the night. So if you don't
mind--(_He holds out his hand._)

DANIEL (_unwillingly_). Well, I suppose it can't be helped, John. But
it leaves me just with nothing. However, there you are. (_He hands
the pound over to him._ SAM BROWN _opens the yard door and peeps in
cautiously._)

JOHN (_looking at him angrily_). What ails _you_ anyway?

BROWN. If you please sir, the posty wants the account signed for that
letter.

MARY. Oh, I forgot all about that. (_She picks up the receipt for the
letter from the table._) I'll sign it for you, father. (_She goes over
to_ BROWN, _who whispers somethings. She nods._) And I'll give it to
him myself. (_She goes out following_ BROWN.)

JOHN. It's a serious business, this, about the McMinns.

DANIEL. You're all right, man. Wait a day or two. Take my advice. Do
nothing in a hurry. Sit down and think it over the way I do when I'm
working out a new idea. Don't rush things. It will all come right in
the end. Just you wait and see if it doesn't.

JOHN. Would it not be better to settle before going into the court?
You know I couldn't stand being pointed out to of a Sunday morning and
one and another talking--"There's the man that Sarah McMinn took the
breach of promise case against." No, I couldn't stand that at all. It
would be a disgrace to the Murrays for ever. I'm wondering now----(_He
pauses lost in thought._)

DANIEL (_alarmed_). John. Surely you wouldn't--you couldn't think of
going back on what you said to me. Would you?

JOHN. I wonder, Daniel, would you mind so much after all if I married
her?

DANIEL (_in an agonised voice_). I couldn't stand it. No, John, I
couldn't stay. Any other woman but that McMinn.

MARY (_appearing at the door followed by_ ALICK MCCREADY). Come on in,
Alick.

ALICK. Good morning, Mr. Murray. How are you, Mr. Dan? So you are back
again? We're all glad to have you back.

DANIEL. Thank you, Alick.

MARY. Father. Alick says he heard Andy McMinn talking yesterday to
some one at McArdle's shop, and he was telling them all about the
whole business, and blaming it all on Uncle Dan.

JOHN. And so the people are talking of me already? Now that I come to
think of it, it was your Uncle Dan, and a brave ha'penny it's going to
cost me. One thousand pounds.

ALICK. Never mind, Mr. Murray. Maybe Uncle Dan will do something yet.
What about the bellows? (DAN _makes a horrified movement to stop_
ALICK _talking, but too late._)

JOHN. Aye. Here, Daniel. I'll make a bargain with you. I'll leave you
to the settling of the case, and you can find the money yourself to
pay for it if you want to. And if you can't find the money, I'll marry
her.

MARY. Father, surely----

JOHN. What? That's enough about it. I would as soon do without the
marrying if I could. I don't want the woman at all, but I'll marry her
before she gets a ha'penny off me. So you can settle it among
yourselves. You can take charge of that letter, Dan, and make the best
you can of it. (_He goes angrily out by yard door._)

DANIEL. This is a nice mess you put me in for, Alick. What the divil
made you mention the bellows?

ALICK. I'm sorry, Mr. Dan. I wasn't thinking.

DANIEL. The sooner you start and think a bit the better. If you don't
help to settle the case--(_he looks angrily at_ ALICK)--well--I've a
good deal of influence with somebody. (_He looks significantly at_
MARY, _who is again examining the parcel._)

ALICK. I'll do my best, Mr. Dan, to help you.

MARY. What will we do, Uncle Dan?

DANIEL. I suppose you've no money, Alick?

ALICK. Well, I haven't much ready money, Mr. Dan, but I could lend you
up to twenty pounds at a pinch.

MARY. Twenty pounds would hardly be enough. Would it, uncle?

ALICK. Better get hold of Andy and ask him.

DANIEL. I don't like going near that woman at all.

MARY. Alick! Could you not slip over and ask Andy to come across? You
know what the McMinns are like. He'd come over for a shilling if he
thought he'd get one. Ah, yes. You will, Alick. Won't you?

ALICK. I'll go straight across now if you--if you----

MARY. What?

ALICK. If you'd leave us along the road a bit.

DANIEL. Aye. Do. Mary. Leave him down to the gate anyway. I want to
stay here and think over things a wee bit. That't the good wee girl.
(_He gently urges her out with_ ALICK, _then goes over to the table,
lifts the parcel, and sits down near the fireplace. Feeling the
parcel._) I'm afraid, Dan Murray, it's all U. P. this time. I'm afraid
it is. (_Then an idea seems to dawn on him, and he looks at the
parcel._) Unless--unless--well--I wonder now if I--

(KATE _and_ BROWN _enter through yard door._ BROWN _is carrying a
bucket filled with washed potatoes._)

KATE. There. Put it down there. You didn't know we wanted that much,
did you not? You're getting as big an old liar as Mr.--(_She stops
short on perceiving_ DANIEL.)

BROWN (_looking up and then realising what had made her pause_). Aye.
Go on. As who do you say, woman?

KATE (_recovering herself_). Just as big an old liar as Andy McMinn.

BROWN. Now, whist. The McMinns were aye decent folk. (_He glances
across at_ DANIEL, _who apparently is not listening._) They're near
people, and all that sort of thing, but once they say a thing they
stick to it.

KATE. They're a lot of mean scrubs, the whole caboosh of them.

DANIEL (_to himself_). I wonder would twenty pounds be any use at
all?

BROWN (_nudging_ KATE _slyly_). I believe that once Sarah puts a price
on a thing, like a pig or a sow, or a hen, the divil himself couldn't
beat her down in the price of it. And Andy, they say, can beat the
best dealer in the county from here to the Mourne. (DANIEL, _who has
been listening uneasily, gets up and turns round to look at them._)
It's the fine cigar that you were smoking, Mr. Daniel, this morning.

DANIEL. Cigar? Yes. Yes.

BROWN. Aye. A fine cigar, sir. There was a grand smell off it. I seen
you coming up by the McMinns, sir, this morning on the road from the
station.

DANIEL. Yes. On the road from the station.

BROWN. You didn't see them, but I noticed Andy and Sarah coming out to
the gate when you had passed them and looking after you a long time.

DANIEL. Is that so?

BROWN. Aye. A long time, sir. I suppose, like myself, they smelled the
cigar. (DANIEL _at once throws down the cigar in disgust._) Mr. Andy,
they say, is guy fond of a good cigar, and I understand that he'll be
for getting a few boxes of them soon, for the sister, they say, is
coming into a lot of money.

KATE. Ach, you and your cigars! Will you get out of this and quit
tormenting people? Go on. Out you go.

BROWN (_as if out of curiosity, picks up the cigar and goes out
slowly_).

DANIEL. He's a very impertinent man that. Very worrisome.

KATE. Ach, never heed him, Mr. Dan! sure no one in this house does.
You'll be tired after travelling, sir. Will I make you a drop of tea?

DANIEL. It's hard to eat anything, Kate, when I'm worried.
(_Despairingly._) I don't think there's another man living that has
the same worries as I have. Something awful! Where's the pen and ink,
I wonder?

KATE. There's some here on the dresser, Miss Mary was using it
to-day. (_She takes it over from the dresser to the table._ DANIEL
_rises and goes over and sits down and begins slowly to write._) Cheer
up, Mr. Daniel. Sure you sold the plans of the bellows anyway. Didn't
you, sir? They had word up at the McAleenans the other night that you
got two thousand for it.

DANIEL (_astonished_). Eh? They said that.

KATE. Aye. To be sure. McAndless told McArdle, and he told Smith the
postman, and the postman told the McAleenans, and said he had seen
letters about it. And McAleenan was up in McMinns the other night and
told them, and I believe you never saw such an astonished crowd of
people in all their lives.

DANIEL. He told the McMinns that?

KATE. Aye, last night I think it was.

DANIEL. Last night? (_He looks at the letter._) Yesterday was the
14th, wasn't it? Aye. It was. I wonder did they believe McAleenan?

KATE. I don't think they know right what to make of it. And yon
Scotchman was there at the time, and mind you, Mr. Dan, they say he
looked quite serious when he heard it, and said such things as that
happened many's a time.

DANIEL (_incredulously_). Mackenzie said that?

KATE. Aye. You know, I think it's maybe because he has a wee notion of
Miss Mary, sir.

DANIEL. It's quite possible. Quite possible. A nice wee girl is Mary.
Fact, too good for the half of the clodhoppers about these parts. (_He
takes up the parcel, pen, and ink, and paper, and goes across into the
workshop._)

KATE (_looking after him_). Poor creature. I'm feared he's for the
road again if he doesn't worry out some way for himself. And God knows
he's the one best fitted for it. (MARY _enters._) Well, did you see
him off comfortably?

MARY. Who?

KATE. Alick McCready.

MARY. Kate. I with you'd mind your own business.

KATE. It's a sore time I have in this house minding my own and every
other bodies' business.

MARY. Kate. He said I couldn't bake a cake to save my life. I'll just
show him that I can, and you're not to help me, mind you. I'm going to
do it all myself.

MARY. Where's the flour?

KATE. There's none in the house, Miss Mary.

MARY. What?

KATE. You mind it was all used up this morning on account of them
cakes that nearly killed your poor ould da.

MARY. Go down to McArdles, Kate, and get a quarter stone on account.

KATE. Your da told me this morning, Miss Mary, that I wasn't to get
any more from McArdles or any other place unless he gives me an order
for it. Do you not mind?

MARY (_dejectedly_). So he did. I had forgotten.

KATE. Aye. Quite so, Miss. (_She sits down contentedly._)

MARY. I wonder is Uncle Dan about?

KATE. Aye. He's in his workshop, Miss.

MARY (going over and knocking at door of workshop). Uncle Dan!

DANIEL (_appearing at door_). Well, Mary?

MARY. Uncle Dan, could you give me sixpence?

DANIEL (_jumbling in his pockets_). Sixpence? Sixpence, Mary? Bless
your wee heart. Here. Here's a two shilling bit. But Mary, mum's the
word. Don't tell John I gave it to you.

MARY. No. Thank you, uncle. (DANIEL _goes in again._) There, Kate,
quick as you can and don't stop to talk to anybody. Sure you won't?
(_She hands_ KATE _the money and takes up the recipe book._)

KATE. I'm not dirty looking--am I, Miss Mary?

MARY (_absorbed in the book_). No. You'll do grand. Flour, currants.

KATE. Ach! You and your currants. Could you not tell a body was her
face clean?

MARY. It's lovely. Hurry, Kate. (KATE _shrugs her shoulders
disgustedly, and goes out by yard door._) Flour, currants----(_She
goes over to the workshop door and listens_)--raisins--(_A sound as of
a blast blowing can be heard._ MARY _becomes intensely interested,
and, throwing aside the book, kneels down and puts her head to the
keyhole._) He's actually got something to work. (_She peeps in._) He
has, indeed. (_She laughs, knocks loudly at the door, and then runs to
the other side of the kitchen._ DANIEL _opens the door and cautiously
peeps out._) Uncle Danny! Ha! Ha! Uncle Danny! (_Dancing up and down
in front of the fireplace._) Uncle Dan's a wonderful man! Uncle Dan's
a wonderful man!

DANIEL (_amazed_). What's all this?

MARY. I'm a cleverer girl than you think, Uncle Dan! I know your great
surprise. I've found it out. And you've actually got it to work!
That's splendid, uncle, isn't it? Father will be awful proud when he
hears about it. And you did it all yourself, uncle?

DANIEL. Well, I took those plans, Mary, to a handy chap, an
acquaintance of mine, and he made it out according to my design. I'm
not sure--I think it works all right.

MARY. And did you get it sold, uncle?

DANIEL. No, Mary, but I have hopes--great hopes. (_He wanders up to
the window apparently searching for the screw driver._)

MARY. Do you think you'd get more than one thousand pounds for it?

DANIEL (_looking out of window and seeing someone approaching_). Don't
know, Mary. Don't know. Very hard to know these things. Where could
that screw driver be I wonder?

MARY. I think I saw father working with it last at something in the
parlour. Will I get it for you, Uncle Dan? (_Knocking at door._)

DANIEL. No. Never mind, Mary. I'll get it myself. There's someone at
the door. You better open the door, Mary. (_He goes off hurriedly to
parlour._) (_Knocking at yard door._) Come in. (DONAL MACKENZIE _opens
the door and comes in._)

MACKENZIE. Fine afternoon, Miss Murray.

MARY (_coldly_). Good day to you.

MACKENZIE. I'm going off to Scotland verra soon, and I thought I would
call over to see you before I went off. You're no angry, are you?

MARY. No. (MACKENZIE _seats himself at the table._)

MACKENZIE. Did you get a post card?

MARY. I got some silly thing this morning that I tore up.

MACKENZIE. I'm sorry. I'm verra fond of you, Mary.

MARY. Miss Murray, please.

MACKENZIE. A girl like you is lost here, you know. Now, if you were a
Scotch lassie you would have a great time enjoying yourself. In a
place like Greenock we have a theatre, and we have a music hall and a
cinematograph show on Saturdays and trains to Glasgow. You could have
a grand time in Scotland.

MARY. Do you really like me, Mr. Mackenzie?

MACKENZIE. Verra much. Indeed I--

MARY. Well. Look here. I would like you very, very much too, if
you----

MACKENZIE. If I what, bonnie Mary?

MARY. I'd even let you call me Mary, and write to me if you wanted to,
if you would do me a favour.

MACKENZIE. What's the favour?

MARY. Uncle Dan has brought home his fan bellows, and it works.

MACKENZIE (_laughs_). The fan bellows! I think he'll never make much
of a fortune of his fan bellows.

MARY. Do you ever examine new inventions?

MACKENZIE. Aye. I'm a specialist on that, you know. I'm the writer of
the inventions column in the Scottish----

MARY. Yes. Yes. That's all right. I know. Are all the inventions you
write about good things?

MACKENZIE. Eh? Ninety-nine per cent. rotten, lassie. Ninety-nine per
cent. perfectly rotten. People don't invent a reciprocating piston
that works every day in the week, or a fan bellows either.

MARY. But if you liked the inventor you could do him a good turn all
the same?

MACKENZIE. Aye. I did that often.

MARY. Then could you do a good turn for Uncle Dan?

MACKENZIE. Give the bellows a boost up. No, Mary. I could nae. I don't
like to grieve you, but committing perjury--No. I couldn't do it,
Mary.

MARY (_coming closer_). Yes. You would. You'd do it for me. Won't you?

MACKENZIE. Eh?

MARY. Look. Uncle Dan has his new fan bellows in that workshop. Go in
and look at it, and if you do like me really, you could tell the
McMinns that it was good--even if it wasn't quite perfect.

MACKENZIE (_hesitatingly_). Um. I'll consider the question.

(DANIEL _re-enters. He stops short on seeing_ MACKENZIE, _and seems to
become very uncomfortable._)

MARY. Uncle Dan! Mr. Mackenzie's going to examine your bellows.

DANIEL. I don't allow everybody to go and look at it. No. I refuse.
It's my property and no one else's.

MARY. Uncle Dan. (_She looks at him meaningly._) Mr. Mackenzie has
promised to give his opinion on it.

DANIEL. It's not protected yet by patent.

MACKENZIE. Andy McMinn is coming over, Mr. Murray. He has got orders
from his sister to settle the case for her. Are you going to pay the
money?

DANIEL. That is a matter of my own deciding. (MARY _goes over to her
uncle and whispers to him._)

MACKENZIE. Verra well. I may go. (_To_ MARY.) I would have done you
that good turn, Miss Murray; but there's no enmity between us. And
(_lowering his voice_)--I hope you get the best of the McMinns in the
bargain. Don't give in, Mr. Murray, easy. Take my tip. I'm from the
stables, you know. (_He laughs knowingly._)

MARY. Here's Andy now (_she looks out through the window_), and
Alick's with him. (_She opens the door,_ ANDY MCMINN _and_ MCCREADY
_enter._ MCCREADY _glances at_ MARY _and_ MACKENZIE, _and goes over
sulkily to the fireplace._ ANDY _advances awkwardly towards_ DANIEL.)

DANIEL (_genially_). Good afternoon, Andy.

ANDY. Good afternoon. (_He looks at_ MACKENZIE, _who nods curtly._) I
suppose you know I've power to settle the case.

DANIEL. Well, you wrote the letter, and so, in point of law, I think
it is you who should look after all this unfortunate business. Believe
me, Andy, I sympathise with you. I do indeed. (MARY _and_ MACKENZIE
_become absorbed in conversation near the table._ ALICK MCCREADY
_stands at the fireplace looking at them and unable to conceal his
jealousy, makes sundry odd noises to distract_ MARY'S _attention. She
pretends not to hear him._) I have your letter here. (_He searches in
his pocket and produces it._) Yes. One thousand pounds. Do you not
think that a trifle high?

ANDY. Well. You know we could have as easily claimed two thousand, but
we didn't like to break you altogether; so we just said that a
thousand would come pretty near it.

MACKENZIE. Mr. Daniel, may I look at the bellows?

MARY. Uncle Dan, I'm sure you won't object. (_She makes a gesture as
if asking him to assent._)

DANIEL (_looking hard at her, and then seeming to understand what she
is about_). Yes. Yes. I'll thrash out the matter here with Andy.
(MACKENZIE _goes across into the workshop, followed by_ MARY. MCCREADY
_sits down disconsolately at the fireplace and begins to smoke his
pipe moodily._) A thousand pounds is impossible. Absolutely out of
the question.

MCCREADY (_to himself_). Ach. She only torments me.

DANIEL (_looking over wonderingly_). Eh? People behave strangely
sometimes, Andy. Very strangely. (MCCREADY _makes no response, but
sits with his back to the two of them._) Just a moment, Andy. What
about a wee drink. Eh, Andy?

ANDY. Aye. Well, I wouldn't mind at all, Daniel.

DANIEL. Just to show there's no ill-feeling over this unfortunate
business. (_He goes to the clock, opens the panel door and takes out a
bottle of whiskey, gets glasses from the dresser and pours out a small
portion of whiskey into each._) Good health, Andy.

ANDY. Good health, Daniel. (_They drink._)

DANIEL. Now to go on with our business. I don't think, in the first
case, that this was an affaire de coeur, as the Frenchmen say.

ANDY. Eh?

DANIEL. You don't understand French? Of course not. No. It wasn't a
love affair, I mean. I don't think Sarah was in love with John, was
she?

ANDY (_hesitatingly_). Well--indeed, now, I don't know that she was.

DANIEL. No. We're all aware of that. He was just what we'd call a
likely man. That's all.

ANDY. Aye. He would have been a good match for her.

DANIEL. Yes. Quite so, Andy. He would have been a good match for her.
(_He makes notes in a pocket book._) Nothing like notes, Andy. Now, so
much for the love part of the business. They never exchanged letters?

ANDY. No. No letters.

DANIEL (_writing_). No letters. Of course in a breach of promise
letters are a great help. A great help. I'm very glad, however, just
for your sister's sake, that she never wrote any to John. Imagine them
reading out the love letters in the open court, and all the servant
boys gaping and laughing.

ANDY. It's not nice, right enough. It's one thing I wouldn't like.

DANIEL. No. It's one thing we would not like. Well. No love. No
letters. Next thing. He never courted her?

ANDY. Well, he came over and sat in the house a few nights.

DANIEL. Yes. No doubt. But hadn't he always some message on business
to transact with you? Loan of a plough or a horse, or something like
that?

ANDY (_uneasily_). That's so, of course.

DANIEL. Ah, yes. That's so, of course.

ANDY. But I seen him with his arm round her the night of the social at
the school house.

DANIEL. Andy. That's a wee failing of John's. I often warned him about
doing that sort of thing indiscriminately. A bit of a ladies' man,
John, in his way. I saw him do the same nonsense four or five times
that night with other girls. John likes to think himself a bit of a
gay dog, you know. It's not right--I don't think myself it's a bit
proper to put your arm round a girl's waist on every occasion, but
sometimes it's quite allowable. A night like a social, for instance.

ANDY. Aye. Of course a social's different.

DANIEL. Aye, Andy, a social's different. Well, now. No love, no
letters, no courting, no photographs exchanged? (_He looks at_ ANDY
_inquiringly_). No photographs exchanged? (_He notes it down._) No
ring? In fact, Andy, no nothing.

ANDY. But he proposed to her right enough.

DANIEL. Who said so?

ANDY (_astonished_). What? Do you mean to deny he didn't?

DANIEL. My dear Andy, I don't know. There was no one there but the
two, I suppose, when he asked her--if he did ask her. There's only her
word for it.

ANDY. He wouldn't deny it himself?

DANIEL. Well. That depends on whether he really asked her to marry him
of course. And it's likely enough that John would be inclined to deny
it if his memory was at all bad--it is a bad memory he has, you know.
He forgets often to return your ploughs and that sort of thing.

ANDY (_blankly_). Aye. He has a bad memory.

DANIEL. Yes. Just so. And the fact that a verdict of one thousand
pounds would hang on it would hardly make it any better. Would it?
You've a bad case against us, Andy. A rotten case! In fact, looking
over the whole thing carefully, do you really believe you'd make even
a ten pound note out of us?

ANDY (_despairingly_). I wish Sarah had come and settled the case
herself.

DANIEL. Ah, no. You've a better head, Andy, for seeing the sensible
side of a thing, far better. (MARY _comes out of the workshop smiling
gaily._) Well?

MARY. Uncle Dan, he's delighted with it.

ANDY. What with? The bellows?

MARY. Yes. Go in, Andy, till you see it.

ANDY. Is it true, Daniel, you were offered two thousand for it?

DANIEL. We'll just go in and have a look at it. (ANDY _and he go into
workshop._)

MARY (_looking across at_ ALICK). What's the matter?

ALICK. Nothing. I'm going home. (_He goes across to the yard door._)

MARY. Alick!

MCCREADY. Goodbye.

MARY. And I was going to go to all the trouble of baking a big plum
cake for you, you big ungrateful thing.

MCCREADY (_stopping at the door_). I know what your plum cakes would
be like. (_He opens the door and stops again before going out._)

MARY. Well, get that big, ugly Maggie Murphy to bake them for you
then.

MCCREADY (_looking out through door and then coming inside again_). I
say, here's Kate and your father coming and a load of flour.

MARY (_in a frightened voice_). Kate and father?

MCCREADY. He seems to be in a bit of a temper.

MARY (_in a frightened voice_). He's caught her with the flour!

MCCREADY (_laughing_). Flour? Aye--she's carrying about three stone of
it! Boys, but that would make a powerful pudding!

MARY. It was to have been the nicest one I could have baked.

MCCREADY (_coming in and going over to her_). Mary.

MARY. What?

MCCREADY. You wouldn't come to my house where there would be no stint
of flour or raisins or anything else, and I'd eat all you cooked for
me no matter if I was dying after it.

MARY. Go to your house!

ALICK. Aye. Look here, wee girl. I got this----(_He fumbles and
produces a ring._) Let me put that on your wee finger, won't you?

MARY. Oh, Alick, what a lovely wee ring. (_She allows him to put it on
her finger, and is shyly kissing him when_ JOHN _enters, followed by_
KATE, _who is trying vainly to stop a leak in the bag of flour which
she is carrying._ KATE _goes to the dresser and places the bag on
it._)

JOHN (_severely to_ MARY). Mary. Did you send her for more flour?

MARY (_meekly_). Yes, father.

JOHN. And didn't I leave word there was no more to be got without my
orders? (MARY _hangs her head._) It's lamentable the waste in this
house! I was just looking at the pass book last night, and you'd think
this house was a bakery to see the amount of flour comes into it.

MARY (_submissively_). I'm sorry, father.

JOHN. When I was out on the road, I seen a trail of flour leading up
our loaning, and says I to myself, Jeminy' father, are they getting
some more! So I followed up the mark and just caught up on her coming
through the gate.

MARY (_a little defiantly_). It's paid for, Kate, anyway. Isn't it?

KATE. It is, Miss. (_She busies herself putting the flour into a box,
and then slips out during the next speech._)

JOHN. Eh? Who give you the money?

MARY (_going over to her father and whispering_). Uncle Dan is in
there, father, with Andy McMinn and Mr. Mackenzie, the Scotch
engineer, looking at his bellows.

JOHN (_amazed_). Eh? Andy McMinn? Is Dan settling the case?

MARY. I believe he'll do it yet.

JOHN (_admiringly_). He has a great head on him, Daniel.

MACKENZIE (_coming out of workshop and going over to_ MARY). Mary, I'm
sorry. That bellows is such an absolutely rotten thing--so useless and
so absolutely rotten that I can't--(_He sees_ JOHN.) How are you, Mr.
Murray?

JOHN. Fine day.

MARY (_appealingly_). Mr. Mackenzie, what did you say to Andy about
it?

MACKENZIE. What did I say? Oh, ma perjured conscience--I said it was a
grand thing. (DANIEL _and_ ANDY MCMINN _come in from workshop._)

ANDY (_nervously_). Brave day, John.

JOHN. Aye. It is.

ANDY. Sarah gave me power to settle the case.

JOHN. I'm glad to hear it.

MACKENZIE. I tell you what it is, Mr. Daniel Murray. It's a good thing
that--a right good thing, and I'll make you an offer for it.

ANDY (_eagerly_). What's it worth?

MACKENZIE (_with a look at_ MARY). It's worth--it's worth more than
all the damages your sister will get from Mr. Murray.

DANIEL (_suddenly_). I tell you what it is, Andy, and believe me when
I tell you, I'm sacrificing a great deal. I'll make a deal with you.
Instead of a lump sum cash down, I'll hand over all the rights and
royalties of that same bellows to you to settle the case.

ANDY (_dubiously_). I--I don't know.

DANIEL. You will have all the expense of the law, the bad name that
your sister will be having over the head of being in a breach of
promise, and all the expenses of solicitors and lawyers. Then, after
that, trying to get the money out of us, and, mind you, we will fight
you to the last ditch. Won't we, John?

JOHN. Aye.

DANIEL. There now. What do you say, Mr. Mackenzie?

MACKENZIE. I tell you what it is, Mr. Murray. I'll make you an offer
for----

ANDY (_hastily_). I'll take your offer, Daniel.

DANIEL. One second. I drew up a wee agreement for you to sign, and
I'll fetch the bellows. (_He goes into the workshop._)

ANDY. I don't like signing my name to agreements or things like that
unless I'm quite certain they're all right, Mr. Mackenzie.

MACKENZIE (_with a sly look at_ MARY). Well, if you have any
compunction about signing, I'll do it myself.

MARY. I think Uncle Dan's a fool to throw away the thing that way. I
do indeed. (DANIEL _comes out with the parcel and the pen, ink and
paper._)

DANIEL. Just sign your name to that, Andy. It's a sort of agreement to
settle the case--you can read it for yourself. (_He hands a sheet of
paper to_ ANDY _with the pen._) It's to show that the whole thing is
fixed up to the satisfaction of everybody. (ANDY _looks at it and then
signs._) Ah. Good! Now, Alick, and you, Mr. Mackenzie, just witness it
and the date. (_They both sign._) And now, Andy, there's your bellows.
(ANDY _looks at it, and then takes it under his arm._) And may you
have the best of luck with it. (ANDY _looks wonderingly at the parcel
in his arms and moves slowly towards the door._)

MACKENZIE. Noo, my reward, Miss Murray--Mary rather. (_He goes forward
and she stretches out her hand for him to shake, when he notices the
ring, and stops short._)

JOHN. I hope you're satisfied, Andy.

ANDY. I'm just wondering, Mr. Mackenzie, do you think----

MACKENZIE. I think nothing for a year. I'll--I'll--I'm for Scotland in
the morning. (_He goes out morosely through the door._)

DANIEL. There, Andy. There's company home for you, and good luck to
you. It's a sad heart I'll have this night.

ANDY. I'm wondering what Sarah would say--(_He goes to the door._)
Ach! She couldn't do better herself. No courting.

DANIEL. No. No courting.

ANDY. And no love and no letters.

DANIEL. No. No love and no letters.

ANDY. And no ring nor nothing, and a thousand pound bellows.

DANIEL. Yes, Andy. And a thousand pound bellows. (_He wanders out
abstractedly._ DANIEL _follows him to the door and shouts after
him_)--Goodbye, Andy. And may you have the best of luck with it.

ANDY (_without_). Thank ye, Daniel. Goodbye. (DANIEL _closes the door
after him and looks sadly but triumphantly across at_ JOHN. ALICK
_and_ MARY _go to the window together and look out after_ ANDY.)

DANIEL. Well, John?

JOHN (_with a sigh of intense relief and gratitude_). Dan, I've said
it before, and I'll say it again, you've a great head on you, Daniel.

(CURTAIN.)





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