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Title: The Big Drum - A Comedy in Four Acts
Author: Pinero, Arthur Wing, Sir, 1855-1934
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 Big Drum - A Comedy in Four Acts" ***

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_The Big Drum_


_THE PLAYS OF ARTHUR W. PINERO_

Paper cover, 1s. 6d.; cloth, 2s. 6d. each


_THE TIMES_
_THE PROFLIGATE_
_THE CABINET MINISTER_
_THE HOBBY-HORSE_[1]
_LADY BOUNTIFUL_
_THE MAGISTRATE_
_DANDY DICK_
_SWEET LAVENDER_
_THE SCHOOLMISTRESS_
_THE WEAKER SEX_
_THE AMAZONS_[1]
_THE SECOND MRS. TANQUERAY_[1]
_THE NOTORIOUS MRS. EBBSMITH_
_THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT_[1]
_THE PRINCESS AND THE BUTTERFLY_
_TRELAWNY OF THE "WELLS"_
_THE GAY LORD QUEX_[2]
_IRIS_
_LETTY_
_A WIFE WITHOUT A SMILE_
_HIS HOUSE IN ORDER_[1]
_THE THUNDERBOLT_
_MID-CHANNEL_
_THE "MIND THE PAINT" GIRL_

THE PINERO BIRTHDAY BOOK

SELECTED AND ARRANGED BY MYRA HAMILTON
With a Portrait, cloth extra, price 2s. 6d.

_LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN_

      [1] This Play can be had in library form, 4to, cloth, with a
      portrait, 5s.

      [2] A Limited Edition of this play on hand-made paper, with a
      new portrait, 10s, net.



_The Big Drum_



_A COMEDY_

_In Four Acts_



_By_

_ARTHUR PINERO_



_"The desire of fame betrays an ambitious
man into indecencies that lessen his
reputation; he is still afraid lest any of
his actions should be thrown away in
private."_

                               ADDISON



_LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN_
_MCMXV_

_Copyright 1915, by Arthur Pinero_

_This play was Produced in London, at the
St. James's Theatre, on Wednesday,
September 1, 1915_



_PREFACE_


The Big Drum is published exactly as it was written, and as it was
originally performed. At its first representation, however, the
audience was reported to have been saddened by its "unhappy ending."
Pressure was forthwith put upon me to reconcile Philip and Ottoline at
the finish, and at the third performance of the play the curtain fell
upon the picture, violently and crudely brought about, of Ottoline in
Philip's arms.

I made the alteration against my principles and against my conscience,
and yet not altogether unwillingly. For we live in depressing times;
and perhaps in such times it is the first duty of a writer for the
stage to make concessions to his audiences and, above everything, to
try to afford them a complete, if brief, distraction from the gloom
which awaits them outside the theatre.

My excuse for having at the start provided an "unhappy" ending is that
I was blind enough not to regard the ultimate break between Philip and
Ottoline as really unhappy for either party. On the contrary, I looked
upon the separation of these two people as a fortunate occurrence for
both; and I conceived it as a piece of ironic comedy which might not
prove unentertaining that the falling away of Philip from his high
resolves was checked by the woman he had once despised and who had at
last grown to know and to despise herself.

But comedy of this order has a knack of cutting rather deeply, of
ceasing, in some minds, to be comedy at all; and it may be said that
this is what has happened in the present instance. Luckily it is
equally true that certain matters are less painful, because less
actual, in print than upon the stage. The "wicked publisher,"
therefore, even when bombs are dropping round him, can afford to be
more independent than the theatrical manager; and for this reason I
have not hesitated to ask my friend Mr. Heinemann to publish THE BIG
DRUM in its original form.

ARTHUR PINERO

LONDON,
_September_ 1915



_THE PERSONS OF THE PLAY_


PHILIP MACKWORTH
SIR RANDLE FILSON, KNT.
BERTRAM FILSON (_his son_)
SIR TIMOTHY BARRADELL, BART.
ROBERT ROOPE
COLLINGHAM GREEN
LEONARD WESTRIP (_Sir Randle's secretary_)
ALFRED DUNNING (_of Sillitoe and Dunning's Private Detective Agency_)
NOYES (_Mr. Roope's servant_)
UNDERWOOD (_servant at Sir Randle's_)
JOHN (_Mr. Mackworth's servant_)
A WAITER

OTTOLINE DE CHAUMIÉ, COMTESSE DE CHAUMIÉ, _née_ FILSON
LADY FILSON
HON. MRS. GODFREY ANSLOW
MRS. WALTER QUEBEC
MISS TRACER (_Lady Filson's secretary_)

PERIOD--1913



ACT I.

ROBERT ROOPE'S FLAT IN SOUTH AUDLEY STREET. JUNE.


ACT II.

MORNING-ROOM AT SIR RANDLE FILSON'S, ENNISMORE GARDENS. THE NEXT DAY.


ACT III.

MACKWORTH'S CHAMBERS, GRAY'S INN. NOVEMBER.


ACT IV.

THE SAME PLACE. THE FOLLOWING MORNING.


_The curtain falls for a moment in the course of the First and Third
Acts._



THE BIG DRUM



THE FIRST ACT


_The scene is a room, elegantly decorated, in a flat in South Audley
Street. On the right, two windows give a view, through muslin curtains,
of the opposite houses. In the wall facing the spectator are two doors,
one on the right, the other on the left. The left-hand door opens into
the room from a dimly-lighted corridor, the door on the right from the
dining-room. Between the doors there is a handsome fireplace. No fire
is burning and the grate is banked with flowers. When the dining-room
door is opened, a sideboard and a side-table are seen in the further
room, upon which are dishes of fruit, an array of ice-plates and
finger-bowls, liqueurs in decanters, glasses, silver, etc._

_The pictures, the ornaments upon the mantelpiece, and the articles of
furniture are few but choice. A high-backed settee stands on the right
of the fireplace; near the settee is a fauteuil-stool; facing the
settee is a Charles II arm-chair. On the left of the room there is a
small table with a chair beside it; on the right, not far from the
nearer window, are a writing-table and writing-chair. Pieces of
bric-à-brac lie upon the tables, where there are also some graceful
statuettes in ivory and bronze. Another high-backed settee fills the
space between the windows, and in each window there is an arm-chair of
the same period as the one at the fireplace._

_The street is full of sunlight._

(_Note: Throughout, "right" and "left" are the spectators' right and
left, not the actor's._)


               [ROBERT ROOPE, _seated at the writing-table, is sealing
               a letter._ NOYES _enters at the door on the left,
               followed by_ PHILIP MACKWORTH.

                              NOYES.

[_Announcing_ PHILIP.] Mr. Mackworth.

                              ROOPE.

[_A simple-looking gentleman of fifty, scrupulously attired--jumping up
and shaking hands warmly with_ PHILIP _as the servant withdraws._] My
dear Phil!

                              PHILIP.

[_A negligently--almost shabbily--dressed man in his late thirties,
with a handsome but worn face._] My dear Robbie!

                              ROOPE.

A triumph, to have dragged you out! [_Looking at his watch._] Luncheon
isn't till a quarter-to-two. I asked you for half-past-one because I
want to have a quiet little jaw with you beforehand.

                              PHILIP.

Delightful.

                              ROOPE.

Er--I'd better tell you at once, old chap, whom you'll meet here
to-day.

                              PHILIP.

Aha! Your tone presages a most distinguished guest. [_Seating himself
in the chair by the small table._] Is she a _grande-duchesse_, or is he
a crowned head?

                              ROOPE.

[_Smiling rather uneasily._] Wait. I work up to my great effect by
degrees. We shall only be six. Collingham Green----

                              PHILIP.

[_In disgust._] Oh, lord!

                              ROOPE.

Now, Phil, don't be naughty.

                              PHILIP.

The fellow who does the Society gossip for the _Planet_!

                              ROOPE.

And does it remarkably neatly, in my opinion.

                              PHILIP.

Pouah! [_Leaning back in his chair, his legs outstretched, and
spouting._] "Mrs. Trevelyan Potter, wearing a gown of yellow charmeuse
exquisitely draped with chiffon, gave a dance for her niece Miss
Hermione Stubbs at the Ritz Hotel last night." That sort o' stuff!

                              ROOPE.

[_Pained._] _Somebody_ has to supply it.

                              PHILIP.

"Pretty Mrs. Claud Grymes came on from the opera in her pearls, and
Lady Beakly looked younger than her daughter in blue."

                              ROOPE.

[_Ruefully._] You don't grow a bit more reasonable, Phil; not a bit.

                              PHILIP.

I beg pardon. Go ahead.

                              ROOPE.

[_Sitting on the fauteuil-stool._] Mrs. Godfrey Anslow and Mrs. Wally
Quebec. Abuse _them_.

                              PHILIP.

Bless their innocent hearts! _They'll_ be glad to meet Mr. Green.

                              ROOPE.

I trust so.

                              PHILIP.

[_Scowling._] A couple of pushing, advertising women.

                              ROOPE.

Really----!

                              PHILIP.

Ha, ha! Sorry. That's five, with you and me.

                              ROOPE.

That's five, as you justly observe. [_Clearing his throat._] H'm! H'm!

                              PHILIP.

The sixth? I prepare myself for your great effect.

                              ROOPE.

[_With an effort._] Er--Madame de Chaumié is in London, Phil.

                              PHILIP.

[_Sitting upright._] Madame de Chaumié! [_Disturbed._] Is _she_ coming?

                              ROOPE.

Y-y-yes.

                              PHILIP.

[_Rising._] Confound you, Robbie----!

                              ROOPE.

[_Hastily._] She has got rid of her house in Paris and rejoined her
people. She's with them in Ennismore Gardens.

                              PHILIP.

Thank you, I'm aware of it. One reads of Ottoline's movements in every
rag one picks up. [_Walking over to the right._] She's the biggest
_chasseuse_ of the crowd.

                              ROOPE.

I assure you she appears very much altered.

                              PHILIP.

What, can the leopard change his spots!

                              ROOPE.

Her family may still bang the big drum occasionally, and give it an
extra whack on _her_ account; but Ottoline herself----

                              PHILIP.

Faugh! [_Returning to_ ROOPE.] Why the devil have you done this?

                              ROOPE.

[_Feebly._] I confess, in the hope of bringing about a reconciliation.

                              PHILIP.

You--you good-natured old meddler. [_Quickly._] Does she expect to find
me here?

                              ROOPE.

No.

                              PHILIP.

[_Making for the door on the left._] I'll bolt, then.

                              ROOPE.

[_Rising and seizing him._] You shall do nothing of the kind. [_Forcing
him down upon the fauteuil-stool._] You'll upset my luncheon-table!
[_Tidying himself._] You're most inconsiderate; you are positively. And
you've disarranged my necktie.

                              PHILIP.

[_In a low voice._] How is she looking, Robbie?

                              ROOPE.

Brilliant. [_Putting his necktie in order._] Is that straight?
Brilliant.

                              PHILIP.

[_Gazing into space._] Ten years ago, old man!

                              ROOPE.

Quite.

                              PHILIP.

It was at her father and mother's, in Paris, that I made _your_
acquaintance. Recollect?

                              ROOPE.

Perfectly; in the Avenue Montaigne. I had a flat in the Palais-Royal at
the time.

                              PHILIP.

[_Scornfully._] You were one of the smart set. It was worth their while
to get hold of _you_.

                              ROOPE.

My dear Phil, do be moderately fair. _You_ weren't in the smart
set.

                              PHILIP.

No; I was trying my hand at journalism in those days. Dreadful trade! I
was Paris correspondent to the _Whitehall Gazette_. That's why _I_ was
favoured. [_Abruptly._] Robbie----

                              ROOPE.

Hey?

                              PHILIP.

You'll scarcely credit it. One evening, while I was at work, Ottoline
turned up with her maid at my lodgings in the Rue Soufflot, sent the
maid out of the room, and proposed that I should "mention" her family
in my letters to the _Whitehall_.

                              ROOPE.

Mention them?

                              PHILIP.

Drag in allusions to 'em constantly--their entertainments and so forth;
boom them, in fact.

                              ROOPE.

Was that the cause of the--the final----?

                              PHILIP.

[_Nodding._] Yes. The following week her engagement to de Chaumié was
announced.

                              ROOPE.

[_After a slight pause._] Well, in spite of all this, I'm convinced she
was genuinely attached to you, Phil--as fond of you as you were of her.

                              PHILIP.

[_Resting his head on his hands._] Oh, shut up!

                              ROOPE.

Anyhow, here's an opportunity of testing it, dear excellent friend.
She's been a widow twelve months; you need have no delicacy on that
score.

                              PHILIP.

[_Looking up._] Why, do you suggest----?

                              ROOPE.

Certainly; and without delay. I hear there's a shoal of men after her,
including Tim Barradell.

                              PHILIP.

[_With a grim smile._] "Bacon" Barradell?

                              ROOPE.

[_Assentingly._] They say Sir Timothy's in constant attendance.

                              PHILIP.

And what chance, do you imagine, would a poor literary cove stand
against a real live baronet--and the largest bacon-curer in Ireland?

                              ROOPE.

[_Rubbing his chin._] You never know. Women are romantic creatures. She
_might_ prefer the author of those absorbing works of fiction whose
pages often wrap up Tim Barradell's rashers.

                              PHILIP.

[_Rising._] Ha, ha, ha! [_Giving himself a shake._] Even so it can't be
done, Robbie; though I'm grateful to you for your amiable little plot.
[_Walking about._] Heavens above, if Ottoline married me, she'd be
puffing my wares on the sly before the honeymoon was half over!

                              ROOPE.

And a jolly good job too. [_Moving to the left, peevishly._] The truth
is, my dear Phil, you're a crank--an absolute crank--on the subject of
the--ah--the natural desire of some people to keep themselves in the
public eye. Mercy on us, if it comes to that, _I'm_ an advertiser!

                              PHILIP.

If it comes to that, you miserable old sinner, you _are_.

                              ROOPE.

I admit it, frankly. I own it gratifies me exceedingly to see my little
dinner-parties and tea-parties, here or at my club, chronicled in the
press. And it gratifies my friends also. Many of them wouldn't honour
me at all if my list of guests wasn't in the fashionable intelligence
next morning.

                              PHILIP.

Oh----!

                              ROOPE.

Yes, you may roar. I declare I shudder to think of the difference it
'ud make to me socially if I didn't advertise.

                              PHILIP.

Robbie, I blush for you.

                              ROOPE.

Tosh! It's an advertising age.

                              PHILIP.

[_Stalking to the fireplace._] It's a beastly vulgar age.

                              ROOPE.

It's the age I happen to live in, and I accommodate myself to it.
[_Pacing the room as he warms to his theme._] And if it's necessary for
a private individual such as myself to advertise, as I maintain it is,
how much more necessary is it for _you_ to do so--a novelist, a poet, a
would-be playwright, a man with something to sell! Dash it, they've got
to advertise soap, and soap's essential! Why not literature, which
_isn't_? And yet you won't find the name of Mr. Philip Mackworth in the
papers from one year's end to another, except in a scrubby criticism
now and again.

                              PHILIP.

[_Calmly._] Excuse me, there are the publisher's announcements.

                              ROOPE.

Publishers' announcements! I'm not speaking of the _regular_ advertising
columns. What I want to see are paragraphs concerning you mixed up with
the news of the day, information about you and your habits, interviews
with you, letters from you on every conceivable topic----

                              PHILIP.

[_Grinning._] _Do_ you!

                              ROOPE.

[_Joining_ PHILIP.] Oh, my dear Phil, I entreat you, feed the papers!
It isn't as if you hadn't talent; you _have_. Advertising _minus_
talent goes a long way; advertising _plus_ talent is irresistible. Feed
the papers. The more you do for them, the more they'll do for you.
_Quid pro quo._ To the advertiser shall advertisement be given.
Newspaper men are the nicest chaps in the world. Feed them gratis with
bright and amusin' "copy," as you term it, and they'll love and protect
you for ever.

                              PHILIP.

Not for ever, Robbie. Whom the press loves die young.

                              ROOPE.

It's fickle, you mean--some day it'll turn and rend you? Perhaps.
Still, if you make hay while the sun shines----

                              PHILIP.

The sun! You don't call _that_ the sun! [_Disdainfully._] P'ssh!

                              ROOPE.

[_Leaving him._] Oh, I've no patience with you! [_Spluttering._] Upon
my word, your hatred of publicity is--is--is--is morbid. It's worse
than morbid--it's Victorian. [_Sitting in the chair by the small
table._] There! I can't say anything severer.

                              PHILIP.

[_Advancing._] Yes, but wait a moment, Robbie. Who says I have a hatred
of publicity? _I_ haven't said anything so absurd. Don't I write for
the public?

                              ROOPE.

Exactly!

                              PHILIP.

[_Standing near_ ROOPE.] I have no dislike for publicity--for fame. By
George, sir, I covet it, if I can win it honestly and decently!

                              ROOPE.

[_Shrugging his shoulders._] Ah----!

                              PHILIP.

And I humble myself before the men and women of my craft--and they are
many--who succeed in winning it in that fashion, or who are content to
remain obscure. But for the rest--the hustlers of the pen, the seekers
after mere blatant applause, the pickers-up of cheap popularity--I've a
profound contempt for them and their methods.

                              ROOPE.

You can't deny the ability of some of 'em.

                              PHILIP.

Deny it! Of course I don't deny it. But no amount of ability, of genius
if you will, absolves the follower of any art from the obligation of
conducting himself as a modest gentleman----

                              ROOPE.

Ah, there's where you're so hopelessly Victorian and out o' date!

                              PHILIP.

Well, that's my creed; and, whether I've talent or not, I'd rather
snuff out, when my time comes, neglected and a pauper than go back on
it. [_Walking away and pacing the room._] Oh, but I'm not discouraged,
my dear Robbie--not a scrap! I'm not discouraged, though you do regard
me as a dismal failure.

                              ROOPE.

[_Deprecatingly._] No, no!

                              PHILIP.

I shall collar the great public yet. You mark me, I shall collar 'em
yet, and without stooping to the tricks and devices you advocate!
[_Returning to_ ROOPE.] Robbie----

                              ROOPE.

[_Rising._] Hey?

                              PHILIP.

[_Laying his hands on_ ROOPE_'s shoulders._] If my next book--my autumn
book--isn't a mighty go, I--I'll eat my hat.

                              ROOPE.

[_Sadly._] Dear excellent friend, perhaps you'll be obliged to, for
nourishment.

                              PHILIP.

Ha, ha, ha! [_Taking_ ROOPE_'s arm._] Oddly enough--oddly enough, the
story deals with the very subject we've been discussing.

                              ROOPE.

[_Without enthusiasm._] Indeed?

                              PHILIP.

Yes. You hit on the title a few minutes ago.

                              ROOPE.

Really?

                              PHILIP.

When you were talking of Ottoline and her people. [_Dropping his
voice._] "The Big Drum."

                              ROOPE.

[_Thoughtfully._] C-c-capital!

                              PHILIP.

Titterton, my new publisher, is tremendously taken with the scheme of
the thing--keen as mustard about it.

                              ROOPE.

Er--pardon me, Phil----

                              PHILIP.

Eh?

                              ROOPE.

[_Fingering the lapel of_ PHILIP's _coat._] I say, old man, you
wouldn't be guilty of the deplorably bad taste of putting _me_ into it,
would you?

                              PHILIP.

[_Slapping him on the back._] Ha, ha! My dear Robbie, half the polite
world is in it. Don't tell me you wish to be left out in the cold!

                              ROOPE.

[_Thoroughly alarmed._] Dear excellent friend----!

               [NOYES _enters again at the door on the left, preceding_
               COLLINGHAM GREEN.

                              NOYES.

[_Announcing_ GREEN, _and then retiring._] Mr. Collingham Green.

                              GREEN.

[_A gaily-dressed, genial soul, with a flower in his button-hole, a
monocle, a waxed moustache, and a skilful arrangement of a sparse head
of hair--shaking hands with_ ROOPE.] How are you, my deah fellow?

                              ROOPE.

My dear Colly, delighted to see you.

                              GREEN.

An awful scramble to get heah. I was afraid I shouldn't be able to
manage it.

                              ROOPE.

You'd have broken our hearts if you hadn't. You know Mackworth?

                              GREEN.

_And_ his charming works. [_Shaking hands with_ PHILIP.] Haven't met
you for evah so long.

                              PHILIP.

How d'ye do?

                              GREEN.

Ouf! I must sit down. [_Sitting on the fauteuil-stool and taking off a
pair of delicately tinted gloves._] The Season is killing me. I'm shaw
I sha'n't last till Goodwood, Robbie.

                              ROOPE.

Yes, it's a shockin' rush, isn't it!

                              GREEN.

Haw! You only _fancy_ you're rushed. Your life is a rest-cure compared
with mine. You've no conception, either of you, what my days are just
now.

                              PHILIP.

[_Finding himself addressed._] Exhausting, no doubt.

                              GREEN.

Take to-day, for example. I was in my bath at half-past-seven----

                              ROOPE.

Half-past-seven!

                              GREEN.

Though I wasn't in bed till two this morning. At eight I had a cup
of coffee and a piece of dry toast, and skimmed the papers. From
eight-thirty till ten I dictated a special article on our modern
English hostesses--"The Hostesses of England: Is Hospitality
Declining?", a question I answer in the negative----

                              ROOPE.

[_In a murmur._] Quite right.

                              GREEN.

At ten o'clock, a man from Clapp and Beazley's with some patterns
of socks and underwear. Disposed of _him_, dressed, and by a
quarter-to-eleven I was in the Park. Strolled up and down with Lady
Ventnor and Sir Hill Birch and saw everybody there was to be seen. I
nevah make a single note; my memory's marvellous. Left the Park at
twelve and took a taxi to inquire after Lord Harrogate, Charlie
Sievewright, and old Lady Dorcas Newnham. I'm not boring you?

                              ROOPE.

Boring us!

                              GREEN.

Lady Dorcas caught sight of me from her window and hailed me in. I sat
with her for twenty minutes--"Greenie" she always calls me--[_mimicking_]
"Now, Greenie, what's the noos?" Haw, haw, haw! I walked away from Lady
Dorcas's, and was in Upper Grosvenor Street punctually at one. [_To_
ROOPE.] There's been a meeting at the Baroness Van der Meer's to-day,
you know, over this fête at the Albert Hall.

                              ROOPE.

Ah, yes; I'm to be in Lady Freddy Hoyle's Plantagenet group. I'm a
knight in attendance on King John.

                              GREEN.

I had a short private chat with the Baroness, and followed her into the
drawing-room. They were still at it when I sneaked out at a side door,
and heah I am.

                              ROOPE.

Extraordinary! Hey, Phil?

                              PHILIP.

[_Leaning against the chair by the writing-table, dryly._] Most
interesting.

                              GREEN.

[_To_ PHILIP, _rising._] I lunch with Roope--[_to_ ROOPE] you'll have
to let me off at three, Robbie--and then my grind begins again.

                              ROOPE.

[_Throwing up his hands in admiration._] Oh!

                              GREEN.

Horse Show, two musical parties--Lady Godalming's and Mrs. Reggie
Mosenstein's; then home and more dictation to my secretary. Dine with
Sir Patrick and Lady Logan at the Carlton, and then to the Opera with
my spy-glass. From Covent Garden I dash down to Fleet Street, write my
late stuff, and my day's done--unless I've strength left for Lady
Ronaldshaw's dance and a crush at Mrs. Hume-Cutler's.

                              ROOPE.

[_Repeating his former action._] Oh! Oh!

               [NOYES _reappears._

                              NOYES.

Mrs. Walter Quebec.

               [MRS. WALTER QUEBEC _enters and_ NOYES _withdraws._

                              ROOPE.

[_Taking_ MRS. QUEBEC's _hand._] My dear Mrs. Wally, how _are_ you?

                              MRS. QUEBEC.

[_A bright, energetic, fairly young lady._] How'r you, Robbie? Walter
is so grieved; he's lunching at the Auto with Tony Baxter. He did try
to wriggle out of it--[_Discovering_ GREEN _and going to him with her
hand extended._] Oh, I _am_ glad! You're just the man I'm dying to see.

                              GREEN.

[_Kissing her hand._] Haw----!

                              MRS. QUEBEC.

Lady Skewes and I are getting up a concert in aid of the poor sufferers
from the earthquake in--what's the name of the place?--I forget--Lady
Skewes knows it--and we want you to say a lot about us in your darling
paper. Only distinguished amateurs; that's where the novelty comes in.
Lady Skewes is going to play the violin, if she can pull herself
together--she hasn't played for centuries--[_seeing_ PHILIP,
_advancing, and shaking hands with him casually_] how d'ye do?--[_to_
GREEN] and _I've_ promised to sing.

                              GREEN.

Splendid.

                              ROOPE.

But how captivating!

                              MRS. QUEBEC.

[_To_ GREEN.] I've sung so seldom since my marriage, and they've had
_such_ a difficulty to lure me out of my tiny wee shell. Would you mind
dwelling on that a little?

                              GREEN.

Of course not; anything I can do, deah lady----

                              MRS. QUEBEC.

That's too utterly sweet of you. You shall have full particulars
to-morrow. I wouldn't bother you, but it's charity, isn't it? Oh, and
there's something else I want you to be kind over----!

               [NOYES _returns._

                              NOYES.

Mrs. Godfrey Anslow.

               [_The_ HON. MRS. GODFREY ANSLOW _enters and_ NOYES _goes
               out again._

                              MRS. ANSLOW.

[_A tall, languishing woman with a toneless drawl--to_ ROOPE.] Am I
late?

                              ROOPE.

[_Pressing her hand._] Not a second, my _very_ dear friend.

                              MRS. ANSLOW.

Can't help it if I am. My car got smashed up last week in Roehampton
Lane, and the motor people have lent me the original ark, on wheels.
[MRS. QUEBEC _comes to her._] Hullo, Esmé!

                              MRS. QUEBEC.

[_Shaking hands._] How'r you, Millicent?

                              MRS. ANSLOW.

[_Going to_ GREEN _and giving him her hand._] Oh, and here's that
horrid Mr. Green!

                              GREEN.

My deah Mrs. Anslow!

                              MRS. QUEBEC.

Horrid! What's he done? [_Sitting in the chair by the small table._] I
consider him a white-robed angel.

                              MRS. ANSLOW.

I sent him a long account of my accident at Roehampton and he hasn't
condescended to take the slightest notice of it.

                              MRS. QUEBEC.

Oh, Mr. Green!

                              MRS. ANSLOW.

[_To_ GREEN.] It's cruel of you.

                              GREEN.

[_To_ MRS. ANSLOW, _twiddling his moustache._] Alack and alas, deah
lady, motor collisions are not quite in my line!

                              MRS. ANSLOW.

You might have passed it on to the accident man. Or you could have said
that I'm to be seen riding in the Row evidently none the worse for my
recent shock. _That's_ in your line.

                              GREEN.

Haw! I might have done that, certainly. [_Tapping his brow._] Fact
is--height of the Season--perfectly distracted----

                              MRS. ANSLOW.

[_With the air of a martyr._] It doesn't matter. I sha'n't trouble you
again. I've never been a favourite of yours----

                              GREEN.

[_Appealingly._] Haw! Don't----!

                              MRS. ANSLOW.

It's true. I was one of the few stall-holders at the Army and Navy
Bazaar whose gowns you didn't describe--[_Seeing_ PHILIP _and nodding
to him hazily._] How d'ye do?

                              ROOPE.

[_Prompting her._] Mr. Mackworth----

               [MRS. ANSLOW _goes to_ PHILIP _and proffers him a limp
               hand._ GREEN _retreats to the fireplace and_ MRS. QUEBEC
               _rises and pursues him._

                              MRS. ANSLOW.

[_To_ PHILIP.] I think we met once at my cousins', the Fairfields'.

                              PHILIP.

[_Bowing._] Yes.

                              MRS. ANSLOW.

You write, don't you?

                              PHILIP.

[_Evasively._] Oh----!

                              ROOPE.

[_Joining them._] My dear Mrs. Anslow, Mr. Mackworth is one of the most
gifted authors of the present day.

                              PHILIP.

[_Glaring at_ ROOPE.] Tsssh!

                              ROOPE.

[_To_ MRS. ANSLOW.] Get his books from your library instantly. I envy
you the treat in store for you----

               [NOYES _again appears._

                              NOYES.

Madame de Chaumié.

               [OTTOLINE DE CHAUMIÉ _enters--a beautiful, pale, elegant
               young woman of three-and-thirty, with a slightly foreign
               air and perfect refinement of manner._ NOYES _retires.
               Everybody is manifestly pleased to see_ OTTOLINE,
               _except_ PHILIP _who picks up a little figure from the
               writing-table and examines it critically._

                              ROOPE.

[_Hurrying to her and taking her hand._] Ah----!

                              OTTOLINE.

Robbie dear!

                              MRS. QUEBEC.

[_Going to_ OTTOLINE.] Oh! [_They embrace._] This is lovely!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_To_ MRS. ANSLOW, _who comes to her._] Millicent----! [_To_ GREEN,
_who bustles forward and kisses her hand._] How do you do?

                              MRS. QUEBEC.

[_To_ OTTOLINE.] You didn't stay long at the Railtons' last night,
Ottoline.

                              OTTOLINE.

I had a headache--mother was so vexed with me----

                              MRS. ANSLOW.

Headache or not, you looked divine.

                              MRS. QUEBEC.

A vision!

                              GREEN.

[_To_ OTTOLINE.] Haw! I hope you saw the remarks about you in this
morning's papah, deah lady.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_To_ GREEN.] For shame, Mr. Green! Have you been flattering me again?

                              GREEN.

Haw, haw, haw, haw----!

                              ROOPE.

[_Standing near_ PHILIP.] Madame de Chaumié----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Advancing._] Yes?

                              ROOPE.

Here's an old friend of ours whom you haven't met for years--Mackworth.

               [_She starts and then waits, rooted, for_ PHILIP's
               _approach. He replaces the figure carefully and comes to
               her, and their hands touch._ ROOPE _leaves them and
               engages the others in conversation._

                              OTTOLINE.

[_To_ PHILIP, _in a low voice, her eyes sparkling._] I had no idea I
was to have this pleasure.

                              PHILIP.

[_Gently, but without exceeding the bounds of mere courtesy._] Robbie
excels in surprises; he has been almost equally reserved with me. Are
you very well?

                              OTTOLINE.

Very. And you?

                              PHILIP.

Very. And Sir Randle and Lady Filson?

                              OTTOLINE.

Quite well--and my brother Bertram. [_Chilled._] Perhaps you've heard
that I am making my home with them now in London, permanently--that
I've left Paris?

                              PHILIP.

Robbie--and the newspapers--have told me. It's late in the day to do
it--may I offer you my sympathy?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_With a stately inclination of the head._] Thank you. And I my
congratulations on your success?

                              PHILIP.

[_Quietly._] Success!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Comprehending._] Ah? _Le public est si bête._ I've read every line
you've written, I believe. [_He bows._] I--I have felt proud to think
that we were once--that we were once--not _des inconnus_.

               [_He bows again, and there is silence between them. The
               dining-room door opens and_ NOYES _presents himself. A
               waiter is seen in the dining-room, standing at the side
               table._

                              NOYES.

[_To_ ROOPE.] Lunch is served, sir.

                              ROOPE.

[_To everybody._] Come along! Come along, dear excellent friends!
[OTTOLINE _smiles graciously at_ PHILIP _and turns from him._] Lead the
way, dear Mrs. Anslow. Madame de Chaumié! [MRS. ANSLOW _slips her arm
through_ OTTOLINE.] You both sit opposite the fireplace. Dear Mrs.
Wally! Come along, my dear Phil! [_Putting an arm round_ GREEN_'s
shoulder._] Colly----!

               [_They all move into the dining-room, and the curtain
               falls. It rises again almost immediately. A chair,
               withdrawn from the further window, is now beside the
               fauteuil-stool, on its right; and the chair which was
               close to the small table has been pulled out into the
               room, and faces the fauteuil-stool at some little
               distance from it. The doors are closed._ MRS. ANSLOW
               _and_ MRS. QUEBEC _are taking their departure. The
               former is saying good-bye to_ OTTOLINE, _who is standing
               before the fireplace; the latter is talking to_ ROOPE
               _near the door on the left. On the right is_ PHILIP,
               _ready to receive his share of the adieux._

                              MRS. ANSLOW.

[_Shaking hands with_ OTTOLINE.] Good-bye. You _might_ come on to
Olympia; my sister-in-law's box holds six.

                              OTTOLINE.

Sorry. I really am full up this afternoon. [MRS. QUEBEC _comes to_
OTTOLINE _as_ MRS. ANSLOW _goes to_ PHILIP. ROOPE _opens the door on
the left and remains there, waiting to escort the ladies to the outer
door._] Can I give you a lift anywhere, Esmé?

                              MRS. QUEBEC.

Thanks; Millicent's taking me along with her to the Horse Show.

                              MRS. ANSLOW.

[_Shaking hands with_ PHILIP.] Very pleased to meet you again. Ever see
anything now of the Fairfields?

                              PHILIP.

Never.

                              MRS. ANSLOW.

No loss. I believe dear old Eustace is off his head.

                              PHILIP.

Possibly.

                              MRS. ANSLOW.

[_Tolerantly._] But then, so many people are off their heads, aren't
they?

                              PHILIP.

A great many.

                              MRS. ANSLOW.

[_Bestowing a parting nod upon_ PHILIP _and crossing to the open
door._] Sha'n't wait, Esmé. It's a month's journey to Hammersmith in
the ark.

                              MRS. QUEBEC.

[_Kissing_ OTTOLINE.] Good-bye.

                              MRS. ANSLOW.

[_To_ ROOPE.] Charming lunch. Enjoyed myself enormously.

                              MRS. QUEBEC.

[_Shaking hands with_ PHILIP _hastily._] Good-bye, Mr. Mackworth.

                              PHILIP.

Good-bye.

               [ROOPE _and_ MRS. ANSLOW _have disappeared;_ MRS. QUEBEC
               _follows them._ OTTOLINE _approaches_ PHILIP _slowly._

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Giving him her hand._] Good-bye.

                              PHILIP.

[_Bending over it formally._] Good-bye.

                              OTTOLINE.

We--we're in Ennismore Gardens, you know. [_He acknowledges the
information by a stiff bow. She interests herself in her glove-buttons._]
You--you've chosen to drop out of my--out of our lives so completely
that I hardly like to ask you to come and see us.

                              PHILIP.

[_Constrainedly._] You are very good; but I--I don't go about much in
these days, and I'm afraid----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Quickly._] Oh, I'm sure you're wise. [_Drawing herself erect._] A
writer shouldn't give up to society what is meant for mankind, should
he?

               [_She passes him distantly, to leave the room, and he
               suddenly grips her shoulder._

                              PHILIP.

Ottoline----!

               [_By a mutual impulse, they glance swiftly at the open
               door, and then she throws herself into his arms._

                              OTTOLINE.

Philip----!

               [_Just as swiftly, they separate; and a moment
               afterwards_ ROOPE _returns, rubbing his hands cheerily._

                              ROOPE.

[_Advancing, but not shutting the door._] There! Now we're by
ourselves! [_To_ OTTOLINE.] You're not running away?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Confused._] Oh, I--I----

                              ROOPE.

It's only half-past-three. Why don't you and Mackworth sit down and
have a little talk together? [_To_ PHILIP, _who has strolled to the
further window and is looking into the street._] You're in no hurry,
Phil?

                              PHILIP.

Not in the least.

                              ROOPE.

[_Crossing to the writing-table._] I'll finish answering my letters; I
sha'n't have a moment later on. [_Gathering up his correspondence._]
You won't disturb me; I'll polish 'em off in another room. [_To_
OTTOLINE.] Are you goin' to Lady Paulton's by-and-by, by any chance?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Again at the fireplace, her back to_ ROOPE _and_ PHILIP.] And Mrs.
Jack Cathcart's--and Mrs. Le Roy's----

                              ROOPE.

You shall take me to Lowndes Square, if you will. [_Recrossing._]
Sha'n't be more than ten minutes. [_At the door._] Ten minutes, dear
excellent friends. A quarter-of-an-hour at the outside.

               [_He vanishes, closing the door. There is a pause, and
               then_ PHILIP _and_ OTTOLINE _turn to one another and he
               goes to her._

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Her hands in his, breathlessly._] You _are_ glad to see me, then!
[_Laughing shyly._] Ha, ha! You _are_ glad!

                              PHILIP.

[_Tenderly._] Yes.

                              OTTOLINE.

You brute, Phil, to make me behave in such an undignified way!

                              PHILIP.

If there's any question of dignity, what on earth has become of mine? I
was the first to break down.

                              OTTOLINE.

To break down! Why should you try to treat me so freezingly? You can't
be angry with me still, after all these years! _C'est pas possible!_

                              PHILIP.

It was stupid of me to attempt to hide my feelings. [_Pressing her hand
to his lips._] But, my dear Otto--my dear girl--where's the use of our
coming into each other's lives again?

                              OTTOLINE.

The use--? Why _shouldn't_ we be again as we were in the old Paris
days--[_embarrassed_] well, not quite, perhaps----?

                              PHILIP.

[_Smiling._] Oh, of course, if you command it, I am ready to buy some
smart clothes, and fish for opportunities of meeting you occasionally
on a crowded staircase or in a hot supper-room. But--as for anything
else----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Slowly withdrawing her hands and putting them behind her._] As
for--anything else----?

                              PHILIP.

I repeat--_cui bono_? [_Regarding her kindly but penetratingly._] What
would be the result of your reviving a friendship with an ill-tempered,
intolerant person who would be just as capable to-morrow of turning
upon you like a savage----?

                              OTTOLINE.

Ah, you _are_ still angry with me! [_With a change of tone._] As you
did that evening, for instance, when I came with Nannette to your
shabby little den in the Rue Soufflot----

                              PHILIP.

Precisely.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Walking away to the front of the fauteuil-stool._] To beg you to
_prôner_ my father and mother in the journal you were writing for--what
was the name of it?----

                              PHILIP.

[_Following her._] _The Whitehall Gazette._

                              OTTOLINE.

And you were polite enough to tell me that my cravings and ideals were
low, pitiful, ignoble!

                              PHILIP.

[_Regretfully._] You remember?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Facing him._] As clearly as you do, my friend. [_Laying her hand upon
his arm, melting._] Besides, they were true--those words--hideously
true--as were many other sharp ones you shot at me in Paris. [_Turning
from him._] Low--pitiful--ignoble----!

                              PHILIP.

Otto----!

               [_She seats herself in the chair by the fauteuil-stool
               and motions him to sit by her. He does so._

                              OTTOLINE.

Yes, they were true; but they are true of me no longer. I am greatly
changed, Philip.

                              PHILIP.

[_Eyeing her._] You are more beautiful than ever.

                              OTTOLINE.

H'sh!--changed in my character, disposition, view of things. Life has
gone sadly with me since we parted.

                              PHILIP.

Indeed? I--I'm grieved.

                              OTTOLINE.

My marriage was an utter failure. You heard?

                              PHILIP.

[_Shaking his head._] No.

                              OTTOLINE.

No? [_Smiling faintly._] I thought _everybody_ hears when a marriage is
a failure. [_Mournfully._] The fact remains; it was a terrible mistake.
Poor Lucien! I don't blame him for my nine years of unhappiness. I
engaged myself to him in a hurry--out of pique----

                              PHILIP.

Pique?

                              OTTOLINE.

Within a few hours of that fatal visit of mine to your lodgings.
[_Looking at him significantly._] It was _that_ that drove me to it.

                              PHILIP.

[_Staring at her._] _That----!_

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Simply._] Yes, Phil.

                              PHILIP.

Otto!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Plucking at the arm of her chair._] You see--you see, notwithstanding
the vulgarity of my mind, I had a deep respect for you. Even then there
were wholesome signs in me! [_Shrugging her shoulders plaintively._]
Whether I should have ended by obeying my better instincts, and
accepting you, I can't say. I believe I should. I--I believe I should.
At any rate, I had already begun to chafe under the consciousness that,
while you loved me, you had no esteem for me.

                              PHILIP.

[_Remorsefully._] My dear!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Raising her head._] That scene between us in the Rue Soufflot set my
blood on fire. To have a request refused me was sufficiently mortifying;
but to be whipped, scourged, scarified, into the bargain--! I flew down
your stairs after I left you, and drove home, scorching with indignation;
and next morning I sent for Lucien--a blind adorer!--and promised to be
his wife. [_Leaning back._] _Comprenez-vous, maintenant?_ Solely to
hurt _you_; to hurt you, the one man among my acquaintances whom
I--admired!

               [_She searches for her handkerchief. He rises and goes
               to the mantelpiece and stares at the flowers in the
               grate._

                              PHILIP.

[_Almost inaudibly._] Oh, Otto!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Wiping a tear from her cheek._] Heigh, dear me! Whenever I go over
the past, and that's not seldom, I can't help thinking you might have
been a little gentler with me--a girl of three-and-twenty--and have
made allowances. [_Blowing her nose._] What was Dad before he went out
to Buenos Aires with his wife and children; only a junior partner in a
small concern in the City! Wasn't it natural that, when he came back to
Europe, prosperous but a nobody, he should be eager to elbow himself
into a respectable social position, and that his belongings should have
caught the fever?

                              PHILIP.

[_Wretchedly._] Yes--yes----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Rising and wandering to the writing-table._] First we descended upon
Paris--you know; but Paris didn't respond very satisfactorily. Plenty
of smart men flocked round us--_la belle Mademoiselle Filson_ drew
_them_ to the Avenue Montaigne!----

                              PHILIP.

[_Under his breath, turning._] T'scht!

                              OTTOLINE.

But the women were either hopelessly _bourgeoises_ or slightly
_déclassée_. [_Inspecting some of the pieces of bric-à-brac upon the
table._] Which decided us to attack London--and induced me to pay my
call on you in the Rue Soufflot----

                              PHILIP.

I understand.

                              OTTOLINE.

To coax you to herald us in your weekly _causeries_. [_Wincing._]
Horrible of me, _that_ was; horrible, horrible, horrible! [_Replacing
an object upon the table and moving to the other side of the room._]
However, I wasn't destined to share the earliest of the London
triumphs. [_Bitterly._] Mine awaited me in Paris, and at
Vaudemont-Baudricourt, as the Comtesse de Chaumié! [_Shivering._]
Ugh-h-h-h----!

               [_She is about to sit in the chair on the left when he
               comes to her impulsively and restrains her._

                              PHILIP.

My poor girl----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_With abandon._] Ah----!

                              PHILIP.

My poor dear girl!

                              OTTOLINE.

It's a relief to me to open my heart to you, Philip. [_He leads her to
the fauteuil-stool._] Robbie won't interrupt us yet awhile, will he?

                              PHILIP.

We'll kick him out if he does. [_They sit, close together, upon the
fauteuil-stool._] Oh, but he won't! This is a deep-laid plot of the old
chap's----

                              OTTOLINE.

Plot?

                              PHILIP.

To invite us here to-day, you and me, to--to----

                              OTTOLINE.

_Amener un rapprochement?_

                              PHILIP.

Exactly.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Softly._] Ha, ha! Dear old Robbie! [_He laughs with her._] Dear, dear
old Robbie! [_Her laughter dies out, leaving her with a serious,
appealing face._] Phil----

                              PHILIP.

Eh?

                              OTTOLINE.

Your sneer--your sneer about me and the papers----

                              PHILIP.

Sneer?

                              OTTOLINE.

I detected it. Almost the first thing you said to me when I arrived was
that you'd been gathering news of me lately from the papers!

                              PHILIP.

[_Gently._] Forgive me.

                              OTTOLINE.

It's been none of my doing; I've finished with _le snobbisme_ entirely.
[_Pleadingly._] You don't doubt me?

                              PHILIP.

[_Patting her hand._] No--no.

                              OTTOLINE.

Nowadays I detest coming across my name in print. But my people--[_with
a little_ moue] they will persist in----!

                              PHILIP.

Beating the big drum?

                              OTTOLINE.

Ha! [_Brushing her hair from her brow fretfully._] Oh! Oh, Phil, it was
blindness on my part to return to them--sheer blindness!

                              PHILIP.

Blindness?

                              OTTOLINE.

They've been urging me to do it ever since my husband's death; so I had
ample time to consider the step. But I didn't realize, till I'd settled
down in Ennismore Gardens, how thoroughly I----

                              PHILIP.

[_Finding she doesn't continue._] How thoroughly----?

                              OTTOLINE.

How thoroughly I've grown away from them--ceased to be one of them.
[_Stamping her foot._] Oh, I know I'm ungrateful; and that they're
proud of me, and pet and spoil me; [_contracting her shoulder-blades_]
but they make my flesh feel quite raw--mother, Dad, and my brother
Bertram! Their intense satisfaction with themselves, and everything
appertaining to them, irritates me to such a pitch that I'm often
obliged to rush out of the room to stop myself from being rude.
[_Impetuously._] And then to have to watch Dad and mother still
pushing, scheming, intriguing; always with the affectation of despising
_réclame_, yet doing nothing--not the most simple act--without a
careful eye to it! Years ago, as I've said, there was an intelligible
motive for our paltry ambitions; but now, when they have _forcé les
portes_ and can afford to be sincere and independent----! [_Checking
herself._] But I oughtn't to speak of my folks like this, ought I, even
to you whom I can trust! [_Penitently._] It's awfully wrong of me. I--I
beg your pardon.

                              PHILIP.

[_After a short silence._] What do you intend to do, then, Otto,
ultimately--re-establish yourself in Paris?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Drearily._] Paris! Is Paris so full of cheerful memories for me, do
you suppose, that I should cling to it!

                              PHILIP.

[_Soothingly._] Oh, come----!

                              OTTOLINE.

I travelled about for some months after I became a widow, and when I
saw Paris again--! [_Starting up as if to rid herself of disagreeable
sensations._] No, my one great desire is to escape from it all,
Phil--[_moving to the chair on the left_] to escape----!

                              PHILIP.

[_Rising._] Escape?

                              OTTOLINE.

To alter the whole current of my life, if it's possible, [_sinking into
the chair_] and to breathe some fresh air! [_Fanning herself with her
hand._] Phew-w-w-w!

                              PHILIP.

H'm! [_Approaching her and looking down upon her._] According to
report, Ottoline, you'd have very little difficulty in--escaping.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Glancing up at him._] Report?

                              PHILIP.

Rumour has it that there are at least a dozen ardent admirers at your
feet, each with a wedding-ring in his waistcoat-pocket.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Reproachfully, her eyes meeting his._] Why, have you been listening
to tittle-tattle as well as studying newspaper paragraphs! [_He bows,
good-humouredly._] My dear Philip, allowing for exaggeration, granting
that my _soupirants_ number _half_-a-dozen, which of them would enable
me to fill my lungs with fresh air? Who _are_ they, these enterprising
men----?

                              PHILIP.

[_Leaving her abruptly and going to the mantelpiece._] Oh, pray don't
ask _me_! I don't know who the fellows are--except--they say--Sir
Timothy Barradell----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Lightly but softly._] Sir Timothy! Sir Timothy has only just
succeeded in fighting his way into the world I'm sick and tired of!
[_Shaking her head._] Poor Sir Tim! [_Pityingly._] Ha, ha, ha, ha!

                              PHILIP.

[_His back towards her._] Otto----

                              OTTOLINE.

Yes?

                              PHILIP.

What sort of world would you be willing to exchange for your present
one, my dear?

                              OTTOLINE.

What sort----?

                              PHILIP.

What sort--spiritual and material?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Resting her elbow upon the arm of her chair and her chin upon her
hand, musingly._] Oh, I believe any world would content me that's
totally different from the world I've lived in so long; any world that
isn't flat and stale and stifling; that isn't made up of shams, and
petty aims and appetites; any world that--well, such a world as you
used to picture, Phil, when you preached your gospel to a selfish,
common girl under the chestnuts in the Allée de Longchamp and the
Champs-Elysées! [_Half laughing, half sighing._] Ha, la, la, la!

               [_Again there is a pause, and then he walks to the
               further window and gazes into the street once more._

                              PHILIP.

[_In a low voice._] Ten years ago, Otto!

                              OTTOLINE.

Ten years ago!

                              PHILIP.

[_Partly in jest, partly seriously._] Do the buds still sprout on those
trees in the Allée de Longchamp and the Champs-Elysées, can you tell
me?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Falling in with his humour._] Ha, ha! Every spring, _cher ami_,
regularly.

                              PHILIP.

And the milk at the Café d'Armenonville and the Pré-Catelan--is it
still rich and delectable?

                              OTTOLINE.

To the young, I assume; scarcely to the aged widow----!

                              PHILIP.

Or the grey-haired scribbler! Ha, ha, ha, ha!

                              OTTOLINE.

Ha, ha, ha, ha----!

               [_He turns and advances to her slowly, looking at her
               fixedly and earnestly._

                              PHILIP.

Ottoline--I wonder whether you'd care to walk under those trees with me
again, for sentiment's sake, some fine day in the future----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Staring at him._] C-care----?

                              PHILIP.

And if you would, whether I ought to tempt you to risk it!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Rising, smiling but discomposed._] To--to risk finding that _le lait
n'est pas crémeux_, do you mean?

                              PHILIP.

[_Tenderly._] To risk even that. [_Drawing nearer to her._] Otto----!

                              OTTOLINE.

I--I should be delighted--if--if ever----

                              PHILIP.

No, no; not as friends, Otto--save in the best sense----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Faintly._] I--I don't----

                              PHILIP.

As husband and wife. [_She stands quite still._] Husband and wife! Some
day when I've achieved a solid success; when I've captured the great
public, and can come to you, not as a poor, struggling writer, but
holding my prizes in both hands!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Putting her hand to her forehead._] It--it's not too late, is it?

                              PHILIP.

[_Recoiling._] Too late--for me--to be successful?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Passionately._] Oh, my God, don't say that to me--[_going to him, and
clinging to him_] too late for me to recover a little of what I've
lost!

                              PHILIP.

[_Pressing her to him._] Ah! Too late for neither of us. It's a
bargain?

                              OTTOLINE.

Yes--yes; but----

                              PHILIP.

But----?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Her head drooping._] Must it be--_some_ day? [_Piteously._] _Some_
day!

                              PHILIP.

There are signs in the sky; the day isn't far distant!

                              OTTOLINE.

I--I've money, Philip----

                              PHILIP.

H'sssh! [_Frowning._] Ottoline!

                              OTTOLINE.

_Ah, je vois que votre orgueil est plus fort que votre amour!_

                              PHILIP.

Ha, ha! _Peut-être; je ne m'en défends pas._ You consent?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Pouting._] I may let my people know of the arrangement, may I not?
You'll see them?

                              PHILIP.

My dear, what would be gained by that _now_?

                              OTTOLINE.

It would enable you to come often to Ennismore Gardens, and have cosy
teas with me in my room. We couldn't be--what we _are_--on the sly
indefinitely; it's impracticable. There'll be a storm at first, but it
will soon blow over. [_Making a wry face._] Still, if you'd rather----

                              PHILIP.

No, no; I'll see them, if you wish me to. [_Nodding._] We'll be open
and above-board from the start.

                              OTTOLINE.

Ha, ha! [_Sighing happily._] Ah-h-h-h!

                              PHILIP.

[_His tone changing to one of misgiving._] Ah, Otto, I begin to be
afraid that I oughtn't--that I oughtn't to have spoken to you----

                              OTTOLINE.

Why?

                              PHILIP.

[_Gravely._] You will never be patient--you'll never be content to
wait, if need be!

                              OTTOLINE.

Content, no. But _patient_! [_In a whisper._] Shall I tell you a
secret?

                              PHILIP.

Well?

                              OTTOLINE.

I've been waiting--waiting for you--in my dreams--for ten years!

                              PHILIP.

[_Ardently._] Otto----!

                              OTTOLINE.

Isn't _that_ patience?

               [_Their lips meet in a lingering kiss. The handle of the
               door on the left is heard to rattle. Looking at the
               door, they draw back from one another. The handle
               rattles again._

                              PHILIP.

It's that idiot Robbie.

                              OTTOLINE.

Ha, ha, ha, ha----!

               [_The door opens, and_ ROOPE _appears, with an air of
               unconcern._

                              ROOPE.

[_Humming._] Tra, lal, lal, la----! _That's_ done, dear excellent
friends! [_Closing the door, and coming forward._] Upon my word,
letters are the curse of one's existence----!

                              OTTOLINE.

Ha, ha----! [_Seizing him._] Robbie----!

                              ROOPE.

[_Startled._] Hey?

                              OTTOLINE.

I can't take you to Lady Paulton's--or anywhere else. Philip and I are
going to spend the rest of the afternoon here, if you'll let us--and
talk--and talk----! [_Suddenly embracing him, and kissing him upon the
cheek._] Ah! _Que vous êtes gentil! Merci--merci--merci----!_ [_Sitting
in the chair on the left and unpinning her hat._] Ha, ha, ha, ha----!

                              ROOPE.

[_Turning to_ PHILIP, _his eyes bolting._] Phil----!

                              PHILIP.

[_Nodding._] Yes. [_Wringing_ ROOPE_'s hand._] Much obliged, Robbie.


END OF THE FIRST ACT



THE SECOND ACT


_The scene is a morning-room, richly furnished and decorated, in a
house in Ennismore Gardens. The walls are of panelled wood for
two-thirds of their height, the rest being covered with silk. In the
wall at the back, between the centre and the left-hand corner, there is
a handsome double-door opening upon another door, covered in thick
cloth, which is supposed to give admittance to the library. On the
right, in a piece of wall running obliquely towards the spectator from
the back wall to the right-hand wall, is a companion double-door to
that on the left, with the difference that the panels of the upper part
of this door are glazed. A silk curtain obscures the glazed panels to
the height of about seven feet from the floor, and above the curtain
there is a view of a spacious hall. When the glazed door is opened, it
is seen that the hall is appropriately furnished. A window is at the
further end of it, letting in light from the street, and on the right
of the window there is a lofty screen arranged in such a manner as to
suggest that it conceals the front door of the house._

_The fireplace, where a bank of flowers hides the grate, is in the
left-hand wall of the room. On the further side of the fireplace there
is an armchair, and before the fireplace a settee. Behind the settee,
also facing the fireplace, are a writing-table and chair; close to the
further side of the writing-table is a smaller chair; and at the nearer
end of the settee, but at some distance from it, stands a low-backed
arm-chair which is turned in the direction of the door on the right._

_On the other side of the room, facing the spectator and following the
line of the oblique wall, is a second settee. On the left of this
settee is an arm-chair, on the right a round table and another chair.
Books and periodicals are strewn upon the table. Against the wall at
the back, between the doors, are an oblong table and a chair; and other
articles of furniture and embellishment--cabinets of various kinds,
jardinières, mirrors, lamps, etc., etc.--occupy spaces not provided for
in this description._

_Among other objects upon the oblong table are some framed photographs,
conspicuously displayed, of members of the Royal Family, and a
book-rack containing books of reference._

_It is daylight._


               [MISS TRACER, _a red-haired, sprightly young lady, is
               seated upon the settee on the right, turning the leaves
               of a picture-paper. A note-book, with a pencil stuck in
               it, lies by her side. There is a knock at the door on
               the left._

                              MISS TRACER.

[_Calling out._] Eh?

               [_The door opens and_ LEONARD WESTRIP _appears. He
               carries a pile of press-cuttings._

                              WESTRIP.

[_A fresh-coloured, boyish young man._] I beg your pardon----[_seeing
that_ MISS TRACER _is alone_] oh, good morning.

                              MISS TRACER.

Good morning.

                              WESTRIP.

[_Entering and closing the door._] Lady Filson isn't down yet?

                              MISS TRACER.

No. [_Tossing the picture-paper onto the round table._] She didn't get
to bed till pretty late last night, I suspect.

                              WESTRIP.

[_Advancing._] I thought she'd like to look through these. [_Showing_
MISS TRACER _the press-cuttings._] From the press-cutting agency.

                              MISS TRACER.

[_Picking up her note-book and rising._] You bet she would!

                              WESTRIP.

[_Handing her the press-cuttings._] Let me have them back again,
please. Sir Randle hardly had time to glance at them before he went
out.

                              MISS TRACER.

[_Inquisitively, elevating her eyebrows._] He's out very early?

                              WESTRIP.

Yes; he's gone to a memorial service.

                              MISS TRACER.

Another! [_With a twinkle._] That's the third this month.

                              WESTRIP.

So it is. I'm awfully sorry for him.

                              MISS TRACER.

[_Laughing slyly._] He, he, he! Ho, ho!

                              WESTRIP.

[_Surprised._] What is there to laugh at, Miss Tracer?

                              MISS TRACER.

You don't believe he has ever really known half the people he mourns,
do you?

                              WESTRIP.

Not known them!

                              MISS TRACER.

[_Crossing to the writing-table and laying the press-cuttings upon
it._] Guileless youth! Wait till you've breathed the air of this
establishment a little longer.

                              WESTRIP.

[_Puzzled._] But if he hasn't known them, why should he----?

                              MISS TRACER.

For the sake of figuring among a lot of prominent personages, of
course.

                              WESTRIP.

[_Incredulously._] Oh, Miss Tracer!

                              MISS TRACER.

Gospel. [_Taking up the press-cuttings and looking through them._] Many
are the sympathetic souls who are grief-stricken in these days for the
same reason. Here we are! [_Reading from a cutting._] Late Viscount
Petersfield ... memorial service ... St. Margaret's, Westminster ...
among those present ... h'm, h'm, h'm ... Sir Randle Filson ... wreaths
were sent by ... h'm, h'm, h'm, h'm ... Sir Randle and Lady Filson!
[_Replacing the press-cuttings upon the table._] Ha, ha, ha, ha--!
[_Checking herself and turning to_ WESTRIP.] Our conversation is
strictly private, Mr. Westrip?

                              WESTRIP.

[_Somewhat disturbed._] Strictly.

                              MISS TRACER.

[_Smiling at him winningly and moving to the settee before the
fireplace._] You're a nice boy; I'm sure you wouldn't make mischief.
[_Sinking on to the settee with a yawn._] Oh! Oh, I'm so weary!

                              WESTRIP.

Weary? Before you've begun your morning's work!

                              MISS TRACER.

_Before_ I've begun it! I had a parade downstairs in the servants' hall
at a quarter-to-ten.

                              WESTRIP.

Parade?

                              MISS TRACER.

We've two new women in the house who are perfect idiots. They _can't_
remember to say "yes, my lady" and "no, my lady" and "very good, my
lady" whenever Lady Filson speaks to them. One of them actually
addressed her yesterday as "ma'am." I wonder the roof didn't fall in.

                              WESTRIP.

[_Meditatively._] I've noticed that Sir Randle and Lady Filson have a
great relish for being Sir'd and Lady'd.

                              MISS TRACER.

Ha, ha! Rather! [_Over her shoulder._] _You_ take a friendly hint. If
your predecessor had Sir Randle'd and Lady Filson'd them more
frequently, you wouldn't be standing in his shoes at this moment.

                              WESTRIP.

[_In the middle of the room, his hands in his pockets._] Why _was_ Sir
Randle knighted, do you know?

                              MISS TRACER.

Built a large drill-hall for the Territorials near his country place at
Bramsfold.

                              WESTRIP.

[_Innocently._] Oh, is he interested in the Territorials?

                              MISS TRACER.

[_Partly raising herself._] Interested in the Territorials! How simple
you are! He cares as much for the Territorials as I care for snakes.
[_Kneeling upon the settee and resting her arms on the back of it,
talkatively._] The drill-hall was _her_ notion; she engineered the
whole affair.

                              WESTRIP.

[_Opening his eyes wider and wider._] Lady Filson?

                              MISS TRACER.

[_Nodding._] Her maid's my informant. A few years ago he was growing
frightfully down-in-the-mouth. He fancied he'd got stuck, as it
were--that everybody was getting an honour but himself. So the blessed
shanty was run up in a devil of a hurry--excuse my Greek; and as soon
as it was dry, Mrs. Filson, as she then was, wrote to some big-wig or
other--without her husband's knowledge, she explained--and called
attention to the service he'd rendered to the cause of patriotism.
Lambert saw the draft of the letter on her mistress's dressing-table.
[_Shaking with laughter._] Ho, ho, ho! And what d'ye think?

                              WESTRIP.

W-well?

                              MISS TRACER.

The corrections were in _his_ handwriting!

                              WESTRIP.

[_Shocked._] In Sir Randle's----!

                              MISS TRACER.

[_Jumping up._] Phiou! I'm fearfully indiscreet. [_Going to_ WESTRIP
_and touching his coat-sleeve._] Between ourselves, Mr. Westrip!

                              WESTRIP.

[_Moving to the round table._] Quite--quite.

                              MISS TRACER.

[_Following him._] Oh, they're not a bad sort, by any means, if you
just humour them a bit. We all have our little weaknesses, haven't we?
I've mine, I confess.

                              WESTRIP.

They've both been excessively kind to _me_. [_Turning to her._] And as
for Madame de Chaumié----

                              MISS TRACER.

Oh, she's a dear--a regular dear!

                              WESTRIP.

[_Fervently._] By Jove, isn't she!

                              MISS TRACER.

But then, _my_ theory is that she was changed at her birth. _She's_ not
a genuine Filson, I'll swear. [_Suddenly walking away from him._] H'sh!

               [LADY FILSON, _a handsome, complacent woman of about
               fifty-seven, enters from the hall._

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Who carries a hand-bag crammed with letters, cards of invitation,
etc._] Good morning.

                              MISS TRACER _and_ WESTRIP.

Good morning, Lady Filson.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Closing the door and advancing._] Oh, Mr. Westrip, I wish you'd try
to find the last number of the _Trifler_. It must have been taken out
of my bedroom by one of the servants.

                              WESTRIP.

[_Searching among the periodicals on the round table._] Certainly, Lady
Filson.

                              MISS TRACER.

Oh, Lady Filson, don't keep that horrid snapshot of you and Sir Randle!
It's _too_ unflattering.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_At the writing-table._] As if that mattered! So are the portraits of
Lord and Lady Sturminster on the same page. [_Sitting at the table and
emptying her bag._] These absurd things give Sir Randle and me a hearty
laugh; that's why I preserve them.

                              WESTRIP.

It isn't here. [_Going to the glazed door._] I'll hunt for it
downstairs.

                              LADY FILSON.

Thank you. [_Discovering the pile of press-cuttings._] What's this?
[_Affecting annoyance._] Not more press-cuttings! [_Beginning to devour
the cuttings._] Tcht, tcht, tcht!

               [_As_ WESTRIP _reaches the door,_ BERTRAM FILSON
               _enters. He is wearing riding-dress._

                              BERTRAM.

[_A conceited, pompous young man of thirty._] Good morning, Mr.
Westrip.

                              WESTRIP.

Good morning, Mr. Filson.

               [WESTRIP _goes out, closing the door._

                              BERTRAM.

[_To_ MISS TRACER.] Good morning, Miss Tracer.

                              MISS TRACER.

[_Who has seated herself in the chair at the further side of the
writing-table--meekly._] Good morning.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Half turning to_ BERTRAM, _the press-cuttings in her hand._] Ah, my
darling! Was that you I saw speaking to Underwood as I came through the
hall?

                              BERTRAM.

Yes, mother dear. [_Bending over her and kissing her._] How are you?

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Dotingly._] Enjoyed your ride, my pet?

                              BERTRAM.

Fairly, mother.

                              LADY FILSON.

Only fairly?

                              BERTRAM.

[_Shutting his eyes._] Such an appalling crowd of ordinary people in
the Row, I mean t'say.

                              LADY FILSON.

How dreadful for you! [_Giving him the press-cuttings._] Sit down, if
you're not too warm, and look at this rubbish while I talk to Miss
Tracer.

                              BERTRAM.

Press-cuttings?

                              LADY FILSON.

Isn't it strange, the way the papers follow all our doings!

                              BERTRAM.

Not in the least, mother. [_Sitting upon the settee on the right and
reading the press-cuttings._] I mean t'say, I consider it perfectly
right and proper.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Sorting her letters and cards--to_ MISS TRACER.] There's not much
this morning, Miss Tracer. [_Handing some letters to_ MISS TRACER.]
_You_ can deal with these.

                              MISS TRACER.

Thank you, Lady Filson.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Reading a letter._] Lady Skewes and Mrs. Walter Quebec ... arranging
a concert in aid of ... [_sighing_] tickets, of course!... what tiring
women!... [_turning the sheet_] oh!... may they include me in their
list of patronesses?... Princess Cagliari-Tamponi, the Countess of
Harrogate, the Viscountess Chepmell, Lady Kathleen Tring ... [_laying
the letter aside_] delighted. [_Heaping together the cards and the rest
of the letters._] I must answer those myself. [_To_ MISS TRACER.]
That's all. [MISS TRACER _rises._] Get on with the invitations for July
the eighth as quickly as you can.

                              MISS TRACER.

[_Going to the glazed door._] Yes, Lady Filson.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Turning._] Miss Tracer----

                              MISS TRACER.

[_Halting._] Yes, Lady Filson?

                              LADY FILSON.

I think Madame de Chaumié wants you to do some little commissions for
her. Kindly see her before you go to your room.

                              BERTRAM.

[_To_ MISS TRACER, _looking up._] No, no; don't.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_To_ BERTRAM.] Not?

                              BERTRAM.

My sister is engaged, mother.

                              LADY FILSON.

Engaged?

                              BERTRAM.

With Sir Timothy Barradell.

                              LADY FILSON.

Oh--? [_To_ MISS TRACER.] By-and-by, then.

                              MISS TRACER.

Yes, Lady Filson.

               [MISS TRACER _departs, closing the door._

                              LADY FILSON.

[_To_ BERTRAM, _eagerly._] Sir Timothy----!

                              BERTRAM.

He called half-an-hour ago, mother, Underwood tells me, with a note for
Ottoline.

                              LADY FILSON.

From himself?

                              BERTRAM.

Presumably; and Dilworth came down and took him up to her boudoir.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Rising._] An unusual time of day for a call! [_Approaching_ BERTRAM
_and speaking under her breath._] Are matters coming to a head between
them, my dear boy?

                              BERTRAM.

Don't ask _me_, mother. [_Rising._] You are as capable of forming an
opinion as I am, I mean t'say.

                              LADY FILSON.

I've a feeling that _something_ is in the air. He positively shadowed
her last night at the Gorhams'!

                              BERTRAM.

[_Knitting his brows._] I admit I should prefer, if my sister contemplates
marrying again, that her choice fell on one of the others.

                              LADY FILSON.

Mr. Trefusis--or George Delacour----?

                              BERTRAM.

Even Trevor Wilson. [_Wincing._] The idea of a merchant brother-in-law
doesn't appeal to me very strongly, I mean t'say.

                              LADY FILSON.

Still, a baronet----!

                              BERTRAM.

And I suppose----?

                              LADY FILSON.

Oh, enormously!

                              BERTRAM.

[_Magnanimously._] Anyhow, my dear mother, if Ottoline is fond of the
man, I promise you that not a murmur from me shall mar their happiness.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Tenderly, pinching his chin._] My darling!

                              BERTRAM.

[_With a shiver._] I'm afraid I _am_ getting a little chilled; [_giving
her the press-cuttings_] I'll go and change.

                              LADY FILSON.

Oh, my pet, run away at once!

               [_She moves to the settee on the right. He pauses to
               gaze at her._

                              BERTRAM.

You look exceedingly handsome this morning, mother.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Gratified._] Do I, Bertram? [_Seating herself upon the settee, and
again applying herself to the press-cuttings, as_ BERTRAM _goes to the
glazed door._] In spite of my late hours!

                              BERTRAM.

[_Opening the door._] Here's my father----

               [SIR RANDLE FILSON _enters, dressed in mourning. He is a
               man of sixty-three, of commanding presence, with a head
               resembling that of Alexandre Dumas Fils in the portrait
               by Meissonier, and a bland, florid manner. He seems to
               derive much satisfaction from listening to the rich
               modulations of his voice._

                              SIR RANDLE.

Bertram, my boy! [_Kissing him upon the cheek._] Been riding, eh?

                              BERTRAM.

Yes. I'm just going to change, father.

                              SIR RANDLE.

That's right; don't risk catching cold, whatever you do. [_Seeing_ LADY
FILSON _and coming forward._] Ah, your dear mother _is_ down!

               [BERTRAM _goes out, closing the door._

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Beaming upon_ SIR RANDLE.] You haven't been long, Randle.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_A cloud overshadowing his face._] I didn't remain for the Dead March,
Winnie. [_Taking off his black gloves._] I need hardly have troubled to
go at all, as it turned out.

                              LADY FILSON.

Why, dear?

                              SIR RANDLE.

The sad business was most abominably mismanaged. No reporters.

                              LADY FILSON.

No reporters!

                              SIR RANDLE.

Not a single pressman in the porch. [_Blowing into a glove._] Pfhh!
Poor old Macfarlane! [_Pulling at his second glove._] The public will
never learn the names of those who assembled, at serious inconvenience
to themselves, to pay respect to his memory.

                              LADY FILSON.

Shocking!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Blowing._] Pfhh! [_Folding the gloves neatly._] I am almost glad, in
the circumstances, that I didn't regard it as an event which laid me
under an obligation to send flowers.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_With a change of tone._] Er--Randle----

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Putting his gloves into his tail-pocket._] Yes, dear.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Significantly._] Sir Timothy is upstairs.

                              SIR RANDLE.

Sir Timothy Barradell?

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Nodding._] With Ottoline, in her sitting-room.

                              SIR RANDLE.

Indeed?

                              LADY FILSON.

He brought a note for her half-an-hour ago, evidently asking her to
receive him.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Going to_ LADY FILSON.] An early call!

                              LADY FILSON.

Extremely.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Sitting near her, in the arm-chair on the left of the settee, and
pursing his lips._] It may mean nothing.

                              LADY FILSON.

Oh, nothing.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Examining his nails._] A nice, amiable fellow.

                              LADY FILSON.

Full of fine qualities, if I'm any judge of character.

                              SIR RANDLE.

None the worse for being self-made, Winnie.

                              LADY FILSON.

Not in _my_ estimation.

                              SIR RANDLE.

H'm, h'm, h'm, h'm----!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Softly._] It wouldn't _sound_ bad, Randle.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Leaning back in his chair and closing his eyes._] "Lady Barradell."

                              LADY FILSON.

[_In the same way._] "Lady Barradell."

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_In a murmur, but with great gusto._] "A marriage is arranged and will
shortly take place between Sir Timothy Barradell, Bart., of 16, The
Albany, and Bryanstown Park, County Wicklow, and Ottoline, widow of the
late Comte de Chaumié, only daughter of Sir Randle and Lady Filson, of
71, Ennismore Gardens, and Pickhurst, Bramsfold, Sussex."

                              LADY FILSON.

[_After a short pause, in a low voice._] Darling Ottoline! What a
wedding she shall have!

               [_Again there is a pause, and then_ SIR RANDLE _leaves
               his chair and seats himself beside_ LADY FILSON.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Putting his arm round her, fondly._] Mother!

               [_They look at one another, and he draws her to him and
               kisses her. As he does so, the glazed door opens and_
               WESTRIP _returns, carrying an illustrated-weekly._ LADY
               FILSON _rises hastily and goes to the writing-table._

                              WESTRIP.

[_Handing her the paper._] It was in the servants' hall, Lady Filson.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Laying the paper and the press-cuttings upon the writing-table, and
sitting at the table and busying herself with her letters._] Thank you
so much.

                              WESTRIP.

[_To_ SIR RANDLE.] Are you ready for me now, Sir Randle?

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Abstractedly._] Er--is there anything of grave importance to-day, Mr.
Westrip? I forget.

                              WESTRIP.

[_Coming to him._] Boxfield and Henderson, the photographers, are
anxious to photograph you and Lady Filson for their series of "Notable
People," Sir Randle.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Rolling his head from side to side._] Oh! Oh, dear; oh, dear!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Wearily._] Oh, dear!

                              SIR RANDLE.

_How_ we are pestered, Lady Filson and I!

                              LADY FILSON.

Terrible!

                              SIR RANDLE.

No peace! No peace!

                              LADY FILSON.

Or privacy.

                              WESTRIP.

[_Producing a note-book from his pocket._] They will attend here any
morning convenient to you and Lady Filson, Sir Randle. It won't take
ten minutes.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ LADY FILSON, _resignedly._] Winnie----?

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Entering the appointment on a tablet._] Tuesday at eleven.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ WESTRIP.] Remind me.

                              WESTRIP.

[_Writing in his note-book._] Yes, Sir Randle.

                              SIR RANDLE.

And advise Madame de Chaumié and Mr. Bertram, with my love, of the
appointment. Her ladyship and I will be photographed with our children
grouped round us.

                              WESTRIP.

[_To_ SIR RANDLE.] Then there's the telegram from the _Daily Monitor_,
Sir Randle----

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Puffing himself out._] Ah, yes! The editor solicits my views
upon--what is the subject of the discussion which is being carried on
in his admirable journal, Mr. Westrip?----

                              WESTRIP.

"Should Women Marry under Thirty?"

                              SIR RANDLE.

H'm! [_Musingly._] Should Women Marry under Thirty? [_To_ WESTRIP.]
Reply paid?

                              WESTRIP.

Forty-eight words.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Rising and strolling across to_ LADY FILSON, _as if seeking for
inspiration._] Should Women Marry under Thirty? [_Humming._] H'm, h'm,
h'm--! [_To_ LADY FILSON.] Winnie----?

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Looking up at him._] I was considerably under thirty when _we_
married, Randle.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Triumphantly._] Ha! [_Chuckling._] Ho, ho, ho! Capital! Ho, ho, ho!
[_Patting_ LADY FILSON_'s shoulder._] Clever! Clever! [_To_ WESTRIP,
_grandly._] There we have my response to the inquiry, Mr. Westrip.
[_Closing his eyes again._] Sir Randle Filson's views are best
expressed by the statement that Lady Filson was considerably under
thirty when she did him the honour of--er--becoming his wife.

                              WESTRIP.

Excellent, sir.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Opening his eyes._] Pray amplify that in graceful language, Mr.
Westrip--restricting yourself to forty-eight words--[_He breaks off,
interrupted by the appearance of_ OTTOLINE _at the glazed door._] Ah,
my darling!

                              OTTOLINE.

Good morning, Dad. [_To_ WESTRIP.] Good morning.

                              WESTRIP.

[_Shyly._] Good morning.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_To_ SIR RANDLE_--advancing a few steps, but leaving the door open._]
Are you and mother busy?

                              SIR RANDLE.

Not at all.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Who has turned in her chair at_ OTTOLINE_'s entrance._] Not at all,
Otto.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ WESTRIP.] I will join you in the library, Mr. Westrip. [WESTRIP
_withdraws at the door on the left, and_ SIR RANDLE _goes to_ OTTOLINE
_and embraces her._] My dear child!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_In rather a strained voice._] Sir Timothy Barradell is here, Dad.

                              SIR RANDLE.

I heard he had called.

                              LADY FILSON.

So sweet of him to treat us informally!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_To_ LADY FILSON.] He would like to see you and Dad for a minute or
two, mother----

                              LADY FILSON.

Charmed!

                              SIR RANDLE.

Delighted!

                              OTTOLINE.

Just to--just to bid you good-bye.

                              LADY FILSON.

Good-bye?

                              SIR RANDLE.

Good-bye?

                              OTTOLINE.

Yes; he's going away--abroad--for some months. [_With a motion of her
head towards the hall._] He's in the hall. May I----?

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Rising._] Er--do.

                              SIR RANDLE.

Do.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Returning to the door and calling._] Sir Timothy----!

               [_There is a brief pause, during which_ SIR RANDLE _and_
               LADY FILSON _interrogate each other silently, and then_
               SIR TIMOTHY BARRADELL _enters. He is a well-knit,
               pleasant-looking Irishman of about forty, speaking with
               a slight brogue._

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Advancing to greet him._] My dear Sir Timothy!

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_As they shake hands._] And how's my lady this morning? Are you well?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_At the door._] I'll leave you----

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Turning to her hastily._] Ah--! [_Taking her hand._] I'm not to see
you again?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Shaking her head._] No. [_Smiling._] We've said good-bye upstairs.
[_Withdrawing her hand._] _Que Dieu vous protège!_ Good luck to you!

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Ruefully._] Luck! [_In an undertone._] I've never had anything else
till now; and now it's out entirely.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Gently._] Shsssh----!

               [_She goes into the hall and he stands watching her till
               she disappears. Then he closes the door and faces_ LADY
               FILSON _and_ SIR RANDLE.

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Mournfully but good-humouredly._] Ha! _That's_ over.

                              LADY FILSON.

Over?

                              SIR RANDLE.

Over?

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

Over. [_Passing_ LADY FILSON _and shaking hands with_ SIR RANDLE.] It
might be that it 'ud be more decent and appropriate for me to write you
a letter, Sir Randle; but I'm not much of a hand at letter-writing, and
I've your daughter's permission to tell you by word of mouth that--that
she--[_to_ LADY FILSON] but perhaps you can guess, both of you----?

                              LADY FILSON.

Guess----?

                              SIR RANDLE.

Guess----?

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Rumpling his hair._] The fact is, it isn't exactly easy or agreeable
to describe what's occurred in plain terms.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Encouragingly._] Can't you--can't you give us a hint----?

                              LADY FILSON.

The merest hint----

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

Hint, is it! Ah, I can manage that. [_With a bold effort._] You're not
to have me for your son-in-law. Is that hint enough?

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Under her breath._] Oh!

                              SIR RANDLE.

God bless me! Frankly, I had no conception----

                              LADY FILSON.

Nor I--the faintest.

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

And as I've received a great deal of kindness and hospitality in this
house, I thought that, in common gratitude, I ought to explain the
cause of my abrupt disappearance from your circle.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_In a tone of deep commiseration._] I--I understand. You--you intend
to----?

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

To take a trip round the world, to endeavour to recover some of the
wind that's been knocked out of me.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Closing his eyes._] Distressing! Distressing!

                              LADY FILSON.

Most. [_Coming to_ SIR TIMOTHY, _feelingly._] Oh--oh, Sir Timothy----!

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_With sudden bitterness._] Ah, Sir Timothy, Sir Timothy, Sir Timothy!
And what's the use of my baronetcy _now_, will you inform me--the
baronetcy I bought and paid for, in hard cash, to better my footing in
society? The mockery of it! Now that I've lost _her_, the one woman I
shall ever love, I don't care a rap for my footing in society;
[_walking away_] and anybody may have my baronetcy for tuppence!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Reprovingly._] My good friend----!

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Turning to_ SIR RANDLE _and_ LADY FILSON.] And why not! The only
advantage of my baronetcy, it strikes me, is that I'm charged double
prices at every hotel I lay my head in, and am expected to shower gold
on the waiters. [_Sitting on the settee on the right and leaning his
head on his hand._] Oh, the mockery of it; the mockery of it!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Going to him._] If my profound sympathy--and Lady Filson's--[_to_
LADY FILSON] I may speak for you, Winnie----?

                              LADY FILSON.

Certainly.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ SIR TIMOTHY.] If our profound sympathy is the smallest consolation
to you----

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Emphatically, raising his head._] It is _not_. [_With a despairing
gesture._] I'm broken-hearted, Sir Randle. That's what I am; I'm
broken-hearted.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Sitting in the low-backed arm-chair on the left._] Oh, dear!

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Sighing._] If I'd had the pluck to declare myself sooner, it might
have been different. [_Staring before him._] From the moment I first
set eyes on her, at the dinner-party you gave to welcome her on her
arrival in London--from that moment I was captured completely, body and
soul. The sight of her as she stood in the drawing-room beside her
mother, with her pretty, white face and her elegant figure, and a gown
clinging to her that looked as though she'd been born in it--'twill
never fade from me if I live to be as old as a dozen Methuselahs!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Pryingly._] Er--has Ottoline--I have no desire to probe an open
wound--has she assigned any--reason----?

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Rousing himself._] For rejecting me?

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_With a wave of the hand._] For----

                              LADY FILSON.

For not seeing her way clear----

                              SIR RANDLE.

To--er--in short--accept you?

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

She _has_.

                              LADY FILSON.

_Has_ she!

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

The best--and, for me, the worst--of reasons. There's another man in
the case.

                              SIR RANDLE.

Another----?

                              LADY FILSON.

Another----!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ LADY FILSON.] Extraordinary!

                              LADY FILSON.

Bewildering.

                              SIR RANDLE.

We have been blind, Winnie.

                              LADY FILSON.

Absolutely.

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

And, whoever he may be, I trust he'll worship her as devoutly as I do,
and treat her with half the gentleness _I'd_ have treated her with, had
she selected _me_ for her Number Two.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Piously._] Amen! [_To_ LADY FILSON.] Winifred----?

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Rather fretfully._] Amen.

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Rising._] And with that sentiment on my lips, and in every fibre of
my body, I'll relieve you of my depressing company. [_Going to_ LADY
FILSON, _who rises at his approach, and taking her hand._] My dear
lady----

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Genuinely._] My dear Sir Timothy!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Moving to the glazed door._] Painful! Painful!

               [_As_ SIR TIMOTHY _turns from_ LADY FILSON, BERTRAM
               _reappears, in morning-dress, entering from the hall._

                              BERTRAM.

[_Drawing back on seeing_ SIR TIMOTHY.] Oh! [_To_ SIR RANDLE.] Am I
intruding?

                              SIR RANDLE.

Come in, my boy. You're just in time to give a parting grasp of the
hand to our friend here.

                              BERTRAM.

[_Advancing to_ SIR TIMOTHY, _surprised._] Parting----?

                              LADY FILSON.

[_To_ BERTRAM.] Sir Timothy is going abroad, Bertram.

                              BERTRAM.

Really? [_To_ SIR TIMOTHY.] Er--on business?

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

Well, not precisely on pleasure. [_Shaking hands with_ BERTRAM.]
Good-bye to you.

                              BERTRAM.

[_Puzzled._] Good-bye. [SIR TIMOTHY _makes a final bow to_ LADY FILSON
_and departs, followed by_ SIR RANDLE, _who leaves the door open._
BERTRAM _turns to_ LADY FILSON _inquiringly._] What----?

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Pointing to the open door._] H'sh!

               [BERTRAM _shuts the door and_ LADY FILSON _seats herself
               upon the settee on the right._

                              BERTRAM.

[_Coming to her._] What has happened, mother?

                              LADY FILSON.

What I conjectured. I was certain of it.

                              BERTRAM.

He _has_ proposed to my sister?

                              LADY FILSON.

Yes.

                              BERTRAM.

[_Struck by his mother's manner._] She has refused him?

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Nodding._] She's _éprise_ with another man.

                              BERTRAM.

Who is it?

                              LADY FILSON.

She didn't----

                              BERTRAM.

Is it Trefusis?

                              LADY FILSON.

_I_ believe it's Delacour.

                              BERTRAM.

[_Walking about._] Possibly! Possibly!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Anxiously._] I do hope she realizes what she's doing, Bertram. Sir
Timothy could buy them both up, with something to spare.

                              BERTRAM.

I agree, my dear mother; but it would have been horribly offensive to
_us_, I mean t'say, to see the name of Ottoline's husband branded upon
sides of bacon in the windows of the provision-shops.

                              LADY FILSON.

Oh, disgusting! [_Brightening._] How sensibly you look at things,
darling!

                              BERTRAM.

[_Taking up a position before the fireplace._] Whereas George Delacour
and Edward Trefusis are undeniably gentlemen--gentlemen by birth and
breeding, I mean t'say.

                              LADY FILSON.

Trefusis is connected, through his brother, with the Northcrofts!

                              BERTRAM.

Quite so. If Ottoline married Edward, she would be Lady Juliet's
sister-in-law.

                              LADY FILSON.

Upon my word, Bertie, I don't know _which_ of the two I'd rather it
turned out to be!

               [SIR RANDLE _returns, with a solemn countenance. He
               closes the door and comes forward._

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ LADY FILSON.] A melancholy morning, Winnie.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Sighing._] Ahhh!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Producing a black-edged pocket-handkerchief and unfolding it._] Poor
Macfarlane--and then _this_! [_Blowing his nose._] Upsetting!
Upsetting! [_Glancing at_ BERTRAM.] Does Bertram----?

                              LADY FILSON.

I've told him.

                              BERTRAM.

My dear father, I cannot--I cannot profess to regret my sister's
decision. I mean to _say_----!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Suddenly._] Nor I. [_In an outburst, pacing the room._] Nor I. I
_must_ be candid. It's my nature to be candid. A damned tradesman!

                              BERTRAM.

Exactly. It shows my sister's delicacy and refinement, I mean t'say.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ LADY FILSON, _halting._] Who, in your opinion, Winnie----?

                              LADY FILSON.

_I'm_ inclined to think it's Mr. Delacour.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Resuming his walk._] So be it. [_Raising his arms._] If I am to lose
my child a second time--so be it.

                              BERTRAM.

_I_ venture to suggest it may be Edward Trefusis.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ BERTRAM, _halting again._] My dear boy, in a matter of this kind,
I fancy we can rely on your mother's wonderful powers of penetration.

                              BERTRAM.

[_Bowing._] Pardon, father.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Closing her eyes._] "Mrs. George Delacour."

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Partly closing his eyes and again resuming his walk._] "A marriage is
arranged and will shortly take place between George Holmby Delacour,
of--of--of----"

                              BERTRAM.

[_Closing his eyes._] "90, St. James's Street----"

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Halting and opening his eyes._] One thing I heartily deplore,
Winifred----

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Opening her eyes._] What is that, Randle?

                              SIR RANDLE.

Ottoline being a widow, there can be no bridesmaids; which deprives us
of the happiness of paying a pretty compliment to the daughters of
several families of distinction whom we have the privilege of numbering
among our acquaintances.

                              LADY FILSON.

There can be no bridesmaids, strictly speaking; but a widow may be
accompanied to the altar by a bevy of Maids of Honour.

                              SIR RANDLE.

Ah, yes! An equally good opportunity for an imposing--[_closing his
eyes_] and reverential display! [_To_ LADY FILSON.] Lady Maundrell's
girl Sybil, eh, Winnie?

                              LADY FILSON.

Decidedly. And Lady Eva Sherringham.

                              BERTRAM.

Lady Lilian and Lady Constance Foxe----

                              SIR RANDLE.

Lady Irene Pallant----

               [LADY FILSON _rises and almost runs to the writing-table,
               where she sits and snatches at a sheet of paper._ SIR
               RANDLE _follows her and stands beside her._

                              BERTRAM.

[_Reclining upon the settee on the left._] Lady Blanche Finnis----

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Seizing her pen._] Wait; don't be so quick! [_Writing._] "Hon. Sybil
Maundrell----"

               [_The glazed door is opened softly and_ OTTOLINE
               _enters. She pauses, looking at the group at the
               writing-table._

                              SIR RANDLE.

[To LADY FILSON, as she writes.] Lady Eva Sherringham----

                              BERTRAM.

Ladies Lilian and Constance Foxe----

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Writing._] "Lady Eva Sherringham--Ladies Lilian and Constance
Foxe----"

                              BERTRAM.

Lady Irene Pallant----

                              SIR RANDLE.

I _pray_ there may be no captious opposition from Ottoline.

                              LADY FILSON.

Surely she doesn't want to be married like a middle-class widow from
Putney! [_Writing._] "Lady Blanche Finnis----"

                              BERTRAM.

If pages are permissible--to carry my sister's train, I mean t'say----

                              SIR RANDLE.

Pages--yes, yes----

                              BERTRAM.

There are the two Galbraith boys--little Lord Wensleydale and his
brother Herbert.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Writing._] Such picturesque children!

                              SIR RANDLE.

I doubt whether the bare civilities which have passed between ourselves
and Lord and Lady Galbraith----

                              LADY FILSON.

They are country neighbours.

                              BERTRAM.

No harm in approaching them, my dear father. I mean to _say_----!

               [OTTOLINE _shuts the door with a click._ SIR RANDLE
               _and_ LADY FILSON _turn, startled, and_ LADY FILSON
               _slips the list into a drawer._

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Benignly._] Otto?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_In a steady voice._] Sorry to disturb you all over your elaborate
preparations, Dad. I see Sir Timothy has saved me the trouble of
breaking the news.

                              SIR RANDLE.

Y-you----?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Nodding._] You were too absorbed. I couldn't help listening.

                              SIR RANDLE.

Ahem! Sir Timothy didn't _volunteer_ the information, Ottoline----

                              OTTOLINE.

_Peu m'importe!_ [_Advancing, smiling on one side of her mouth._] What
a grand wedding you are planning for me! _Quel projets mirifiques!_

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Embarrassed._] Your dear mother was--er--merely jotting down----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Passing her hands over her face and walking to the settee on the
right._] Ha, ha, ha, ha----!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Rising and moving to the fireplace, complainingly._] Really,
Ottoline----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Sitting upon the settee._] Ha, ha, ha----!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_To_ BERTRAM, _who is slowly getting to his feet._] Go away, Bertie
darling.

                              OTTOLINE.

_Mais pourquoi?_ Bertie knows everything, obviously.

                              LADY FILSON.

Why shouldn't he, Otto? Your brother is as interested as we are----

                              OTTOLINE.

But of course! _Naturellement!_ [_With a shrug._] _C'est une affaire de
famille._ [_To_ BERTRAM, _who is now at the door on the left, his hand
on the door-handle._] Come back, Bertie. [_Repeating her wry smile._] I
shall be glad to receive your congratulations with mother's and Dad's.
[_To_ SIR RANDLE _and_ LADY FILSON.] Sit down, Dad; sit down, mother.
[SIR RANDLE _sits in the chair on the left of the settee on the right,_
LADY FILSON _in the low-backed arm-chair, and_ BERTRAM _at the oblong
table._] Are you very much surprised, dear people?

                              SIR RANDLE.

Surprised? Hardly.

                              LADY FILSON.

Poor Sir Timothy! No, we are hardly surprised, Ottoline.

                              OTTOLINE.

Ah, but I don't mean surprised at my--having made Sir Timothy unhappy;
I mean surprised at hearing there is--someone else----

                              SIR RANDLE.

My dear child, _that_ surprises us even less.

                              LADY FILSON.

Your dear father and I, Ottoline, are not unaware of the _many_
eligible men who are--how shall I put it?--pursuing you with their
attentions.

                              SIR RANDLE.

Parents are notoriously short-sighted; but they are not
necessarily--er--what are the things?--tssh!--the creatures that
flutter----

                              BERTRAM.

Bats, father.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ BERTRAM.] Thank you, my boy.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_In a rigid attitude._] It's cowardly of me perhaps, but I almost wish
I had told Sir Timothy--a little more----

                              LADY FILSON.

Cowardly?

                              OTTOLINE.

So that he might have taken the edge off the announcement I'm going to
make--and spared me----

                              SIR RANDLE.

The edge----?

                              LADY FILSON.

_Spared_ you--? [_Staring at_ OTTOLINE.] Ottoline, what on earth----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Relaxing._] Oh, I know I'm behaving as if I were a girl instead of a
woman who has been married--a widow--free--independent--[_to_ SIR
RANDLE] thanks to your liberality, Dad! But, being at home, I seem to
have lost, in a measure, my sense of personal liberty----

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Blandly but uneasily._] My child!

                              OTTOLINE.

That's _it_! Child! Now that I've returned to you, I'm still a
child--still an object for you to fix your hopes and expectations upon.
The situation has slipped back, in your minds, pretty much to what it
was in the old days in the Avenue Montaigne. You may protest that it
isn't so, but it _is_. [_Attempting a laugh._] That's why my knees are
shaking at this moment, and my spine's all of a jelly! [_She rises and
goes to the chair at the writing-table and grips the chair-rail. The
others follow her apprehensively with their eyes._] I--I'm afraid I'm
about to disappoint you.

                              LADY FILSON.

H-how?

                              SIR RANDLE.

Disap-point us?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Abruptly._] What's the time, Dad?

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Looking at a clock standing on a commode against the wall on the
right._] Twenty minutes past eleven.

                              OTTOLINE.

He--he will be here at half-past. Don't be angry. I've asked him to
come--to explain his position clearly to you and mother with regard to
me. There's to be nothing underhand--_rien de secret_!

                              LADY FILSON.

A-asked whom?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Throwing her head back._] Ho! You'll think I'm ushering in an endless
string of lovers this morning! I promise you this is the last.

                              SIR RANDLE.

_Who_ is coming?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Sitting at the writing-table and, her elbows on the table, supporting
her chin on her fists._] Mr. Mackworth.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_After a pause._] Mackworth?

                              OTTOLINE.

Philip Mackworth.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Dully._] Isn't he the journalist man you--you carried on with once,
in Paris?

                              OTTOLINE.

What an expression, mother! Well--yes.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Simply._] Good God!

                              OTTOLINE.

He doesn't write for the papers any longer.

                              LADY FILSON.

W-what----?

                              OTTOLINE.

A novelist chiefly.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Faintly._] Oh!

                              SIR RANDLE.

Successful?

                              OTTOLINE.

It depends on what you call success.

                              SIR RANDLE.

_I_ call success what everybody calls success.

                              BERTRAM.

[_Rising, stricken._] There are novelists and novelists, I mean t'say.

                              OTTOLINE.

Don't imagine that I am apologizing for him, please, in the slightest
degree; but no, he _hasn't_ been successful up to the present, in the
usual acceptation of the term.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Searching for her handkerchief._] Where--where have you----?

                              OTTOLINE.

I met him yesterday at Robbie Roope's, at lunch. [LADY FILSON _finds
her handkerchief and applies it to her eyes._] Oh, there's no need to
cry, mother dear. For mercy's sake----!

                              LADY FILSON.

Oh, Otto! [_Rising and crossing to the settee on the right,
whimpering._] Oh, Randle! [_To_ BERTRAM, _who comes to her._] Oh, my
boy!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Gazing blinkingly at the ceiling as_ LADY FILSON _sinks upon the
settee._] Incredible! Incredible!

                              BERTRAM.

[_Sitting beside_ LADY FILSON, _dazed._] My dear mother----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Starting up._] Oh, do try to be understanding and sympathetic! Mr.
Mackworth is a high-souled, noble fellow. If I'd been honest with
myself, I should have married him ten years ago. To me this is a golden
dream come true. Recollect my bitter experience of the _other_ sort of
marriage! [_Walking away to the fireplace._] Why grudge me a spark of
romance in my life!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Raising his hands._] Romance!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_To_ SIR RANDLE _and_ BERTRAM.] Just now she was resenting our
considering her a child!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Looking down upon the flowers in the grate._] Romance doesn't belong
to youth, mother. Youth is greedy for reality--the toy that feels solid
in its fingers. _I_ was, and bruised myself with it. After such a
lesson as I've had, one yearns for something less tangible--something
that lifts one morally out of oneself--an ideal----!

                              SIR RANDLE.

Ha! An extract from a novel of Mr. Mackworth's apparently!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Harshly._] Ha, ha, ha, ha----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Turning sharply and coming forward._] Sssh! Don't you sneer, mother!
Don't you sneer, Dad! [_Her eyes flashing._] _C'est au-dessus de vous
de sentir ce qu'il y a d'élevé et de grand!_ [_Fiercely._] _Tenez!
Qu'il vous plaise ou non----!_

               [_She is checked by the entrance of_ UNDERWOOD _from the
               hall._

                              UNDERWOOD.

[_Addressing the back of_ LADY FILSON_'s head._] Mr. Philip Mackworth,
m'lady.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Straightening herself._] Not for me. [_Firmly._] For Madame de
Chaumié.

                              UNDERWOOD.

I beg pardon, m'lady. The gentleman inquired for your ladyship----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_To_ UNDERWOOD.] In the drawing-room--[_with a queenly air_] no, in my
own room.

                              UNDERWOOD.

[_To_ OTTOLINE.] Yes, mad'm.

               [UNDERWOOD _withdraws._

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Approaching_ SIR RANDLE _and_ LADY FILSON.] Dad--mother----?

                              LADY FILSON.

Your father may do as he chooses. [_Rising and crossing to the
writing-table, where she sits and prepares to write._] I have letters
to answer.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_To_ SIR RANDLE.] Dad----?

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Rising._] Impossible--impossible. [_Marching to the fireplace._] I
cannot act apart from your dear mother. [_His back to the fireplace,
virtuously._] I never act apart from your dear mother.

                              OTTOLINE.

_Comme vous voudrez!_ [_Moving to the glazed door and there pausing._]
You _won't_----?

               [SIR RANDLE _blinks at the ceiling again._ LADY FILSON
               _scribbles audibly with a scratchy pen._ OTTOLINE _goes
               out, closing the door._

                              BERTRAM.

[_Jumping up as the door shuts--in an expostulatory tone._] Good
heavens! My dear father--my dear mother----!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Coming to earth._] Eh?

                              BERTRAM.

[_Agitatedly._] My sister will pack her trunks and be off to an hotel
if you're not careful. She won't stand this, I mean t'say. There'll be
a marriage at the registrar's, or some ghastly proceeding--a
scandal--all kinds of gossip----!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Throwing down her pen and rising--holding her heart._] Oh----!

                              BERTRAM.

[_With energy._] I mean to say----!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ LADY FILSON, _blankly._] Winnie----?

                              LADY FILSON.

R-Randle----?

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Biting his nails._] He's right. [BERTRAM _hastens to the glazed
door._] Dear Bertram is right.

                              BERTRAM.

[_Opening the door._] You'll see him----?

                              LADY FILSON.

Y-yes.

                              SIR RANDLE.

Yes. [BERTRAM _disappears._ SIR RANDLE _paces the room at the back,
waving his arms._] Oh! Oh!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Going to the fireplace._] I won't be civil to him, Randle! The
impertinence of his visit! I won't be civil to him!

                              SIR RANDLE.

A calamity! An unmerited calamity!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Dropping on to the settee before the fireplace._] She's mad! That's
the only excuse I can make for her!

                              SIR RANDLE.

Stark mad! A calamity.

                              LADY FILSON.

You remember the man?

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Taking a book from the rack on the oblong table and hurriedly turning
its pages._] A supercilious, patronizing person--son of a wretched
country parson--used to loll against the wall of your _salon_--with his
nose in the air.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Tearfully._] A stroke of bad fortune at last, Randle! Fancy!
Everything has always gone so well with us----!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Suddenly, groaning._] Oh!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Over her shoulder._] What is it? I can't bear much more----

                              SIR RANDLE.

He isn't even in _Who's Who_, Winnie!

               [BERTRAM _returns, out of breath._

                              BERTRAM.

I caught her on the stairs. [_Closing the door._] She'll bring him
down.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Weakly._] I won't be civil to him. I refuse to be civil to him.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Replacing the book in the rack and sitting in the chair at the oblong
table--groaning again._] Oh!

               [_There is a short silence._ BERTRAM _slowly advances._

                              BERTRAM.

[_Heavily, drawing his hand across his brow._] Of course, my dear
father--my dear mother--we must do our utmost to quash it--strain every
nerve, I mean t'say, to stop my sister from committing this stupendous
act of folly.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Rocking herself to and fro._] Oh! Oh!

                              SIR RANDLE.

A beggarly author!

                              BERTRAM.

[_The picture of dejection._] But if the worst comes to the worst--if
she's obdurate, I mean t'say--an alliance between Society and
Literature--I suppose there's no actual disgrace in it.

                              SIR RANDLE.

A duffer--a duffer whose trash doesn't sell----!

                              LADY FILSON.

Taking advantage of a silly, emotional woman, to feather his nest!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Rising and pacing up and down between the glazed door and the settee
on the right._] I shall have difficulty--[_shaking his uplifted fist_]
I shall have difficulty in restraining myself from denouncing Mr.
Mackworth in her presence!

                              BERTRAM.

[_Dismally._] As to the wedding, there's no reason that I can
see--because a lady marries a literary man, I mean t'say--why the
function should be a shabby one.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Rising and moving about at the back distractedly._] That it sha'n't
be! If we can't prevent my poor girl from throwing herself away, I'm
determined her _wedding_ shall be smart and impressive!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Bitterly, with wild gestures._] "The interesting engagement is
announced of Mr.--Mr.----"

                              BERTRAM.

[_Wandering to the fireplace, his chin on his breast._] Philip, father.

                              SIR RANDLE.

"--Mr. Philip Mackworth, the well-known novelist, to Ottoline, widow of
the late Comte de Chaumié--[_peeping into the hall through the side of
one of the curtains of the glazed door--his voice dying to a mutter_]
only daughter of Sir Randle and Lady Filson----"

                              LADY FILSON.

"Mrs.--Philip--Mackworth"! Ha, ha, ha! Mrs. Philip Nobody!

                              BERTRAM.

[_Joining her._] Perhaps it would be wiser, mother, for me to retire
while the interview takes place.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Falling upon his neck._] Oh, my dear boy----!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Getting away from the door._] They're coming!

                              BERTRAM.

[_Quickly._] I'm near you if you want me, I mean t'say----

               [_He goes out at the door on the left._ LADY FILSON
               _hastily resumes her seat at the writing-table, and_ SIR
               RANDLE, _pulling himself together, crosses to the
               fireplace. The glazed door opens and_ OTTOLINE _appears
               with_ PHILIP.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Quietly._] Mr. Mackworth, mother--Dad----

                              PHILIP.

[_Advancing to_ LADY FILSON _cordially._] How do you do, Lady Filson?

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Giving him a reluctant hand and eyeing him askance with mingled
aversion and indignation._] H-how do you do?

                              PHILIP.

This is very good of you. [_Bowing to_ SIR RANDLE.] How are you, Sir
Randle?

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_His head in the air, severely._] How do you do, Mr. Mackworth?

                              PHILIP.

[_Breaking the ice._] We--we meet after many years----

                              SIR RANDLE.

Many.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Still examining_ PHILIP.] M-many.

                              PHILIP.

And--if you've ever bestowed a thought on me since the old Paris
days--in a way you can scarcely have expected.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Turning to the writing-table to conceal her repugnance._] Scarcely.

                              SIR RANDLE.

Scarcely.

                              PHILIP.

[_To_ SIR RANDLE.] Oh, I am not vain enough, Sir Randle, to flatter
myself that what you have heard from Ottoline gives you and Lady Filson
unmixed pleasure. On the contrary----

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Gulping._] Pleasure! [_Unable to repress herself._] Unmixed--! Ho,
ho, ho, ho----!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Restraining her._] Winifred----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Coming to_ LADY FILSON _and touching her gently--in a low voice._]
Mother----!

                              PHILIP.

[_Smiling at_ OTTOLINE _apologetically._] It's my fault; I provoked
that. [_Walking away to the right._] I expressed myself rather
clumsily, I'm afraid.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Expanding his chest and advancing to_ PHILIP.] I gather from my
daughter, Mr. Mackworth, that you are here for the purpose of
"explaining your position" in relation to her. I believe I quote her
words accurately----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Moving to the fireplace._] Yes, Dad.

                              PHILIP.

That is so, Sir Randle--if you and Lady Filson will have the
patience----

               [SIR RANDLE _motions_ PHILIP _to the settee on the
               right._ PHILIP _sits. Then_ OTTOLINE _sits on the settee
               before the fireplace, and_ SIR RANDLE _in the arm-chair
               by_ PHILIP. LADY FILSON _turns in her chair to listen._

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ PHILIP, _majestically._] Before you embark upon your explanation,
permit me to define _my_ position--mine and Lady Filson's. [PHILIP
_nods._] I am going to make a confession to you; and I should like to
feel that I am making it as one gentleman to another. [PHILIP _nods
again._] Mr. Mackworth, Lady Filson and I are ambitious people. Not for
ourselves. For ourselves, all we desire is rest and retirement--[_closing
his eyes_] if it were possible, obscurity. But where our children are
concerned, it is different; and, to be frank--I _must_ be frank--we had
hoped that, in the event of Ottoline remarrying, she would contract
such a marriage as is commonly described as brilliant.

                              PHILIP.

[_Dryly._] Such a marriage as her marriage to Monsieur de Chaumié, for
example.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Closing his eyes._] _De mortuis_, Mr. Mackworth! I must decline----

                              PHILIP.

I merely wished, as a basis of argument, to get at your exact
interpretation of brilliancy.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Dismissing the point with a wave of the hand._] It is easy for you,
therefore, as you have already intimated, to judge what are our
sensations at receiving my daughter's communication.

                              PHILIP.

[_Nodding._] They are distinctly disagreeable.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Conscientiously._] They are--I won't exaggerate--I mustn't
exaggerate--they are not far removed from dismay.

                              LADY FILSON.

Utter dismay.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Shifting his chair--to_ PHILIP.] I learn--I learn from Ottoline that
you have forsaken the field of journalism, Mr. Mackworth, and now
devote yourself exclusively to creative work? [_Another nod from_
PHILIP.] But you have not--to use my daughter's phrase--up to the
present--er----

                              PHILIP.

[_Nursing his leg._] Please go on.

                              SIR RANDLE.

You have not been eminently successful?

                              PHILIP.

Not yet. Not with the wide public. No; not yet.

                              SIR RANDLE.

Forgive me--any private resources?

                              PHILIP.

None worth mentioning. Two-hundred-a-year, left me by an old aunt.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Under her breath._] Ho----!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To her._] My dear----! [_To_ PHILIP.] On the other hand, Mr. Mackworth,
as you are probably aware, my daughter is--no, I won't say a rich
woman--I will say comfortably provided for; _not_ by the late Comte de
Chaumié, but by myself. [_Closing his eyes._] I have never been a
niggardly parent, Mr. Mackworth.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Softly, without turning._] Indeed, no, Dad!

                              PHILIP.

[_To_ SIR RANDLE, _bluntly._] Yes, I _do_ know of the settlement you
made upon Ottoline on her marriage, and of your having supplemented it
when she became a widow. Very handsome of you.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_As before._] Ha!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Leaning back in his chair._] _There_ then, my dear Mr. Mackworth, is
the state of the case. Ottoline is beyond our control----

                              LADY FILSON.

Unhappily.

                              SIR RANDLE.

If she _will_ deal this crushing blow to her mother and myself, we must
bow our heads to it. But, for the sake of your self-esteem, I beg you
to reflect! [_Partly to_ PHILIP, _partly at_ OTTOLINE.] What
construction would be put upon a union between you and Madame de
Chaumié--between a lady of means and--I _must_ be cruel--I _must_ be
brutal--a man who is--commercially at least--a failure?

                              LADY FILSON.

There _could_ only be one construction put upon it!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Rising._] Mother----!

                              PHILIP.

[_To_ SIR RANDLE, _calmly._] Oh, but--ah, Ottoline hasn't told you----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_To_ PHILIP.] No, I hadn't time, Philip----

                              PHILIP.

My dear Sir Randle--[_rising and going to_ LADY FILSON]--my dear Lady
Filson--let me dispel your anxiety for the preservation of my
self-esteem. Ottoline and I have no idea of getting married yet awhile.

                              OTTOLINE.

No, mother.

                              LADY FILSON.

When, pray----?

                              PHILIP.

We have agreed to wait until I have ceased to be--commercially--a
failure.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_To_ SIR RANDLE _and_ LADY FILSON.] Until he has obtained public
recognition; [_coming forward_] until, in fact, even the member's of
one's own family, Dad, can't impute unworthy motives.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ PHILIP, _incredulously--rising._] Until you have obtained public
recognition, Mr. Mackworth?

                              PHILIP.

[_Smiling._] Well, it may sound extravagant----

                              LADY FILSON.

Grotesque!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Walking about on the extreme right._] Amazing!

                              OTTOLINE.

Why grotesque; why amazing? [_Sitting in the low-backed arm-chair._]
All that is amazing about it is that Philip should lack the superior
courage which enables a man, in special circumstances, to sink his
pride and ignore ill-natured comments.

                              PHILIP.

[_To_ LADY FILSON.] At any rate, this is the arrangement that Ottoline
and I have entered into; and I suggest, with every respect, that you
and Sir Randle should raise no obstacle to my seeing her under your
roof occasionally.

                              LADY FILSON.

As being preferable to hole-and-corner meetings in friends' houses----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Coolly._] Or under lamp-posts in the streets--yes, mother.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Rising and crossing to the round table._] Ottoline----!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Bearing down upon_ PHILIP.] May I ask, Mr. Mackworth, how long you
have been following your precarious profession? Pardon my ignorance. My
reading is confined to our great journals; and _there_ your name has
escaped me.

                              PHILIP.

Oh, I've been at it for nearly ten years.

                              LADY FILSON.

Ten years!

                              PHILIP.

[_To_ SIR RANDLE.] I began soon after I left Paris.

                              SIR RANDLE.

And what ground, sir, have you for anticipating that you will _ever_
achieve popularity as a writer?

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Sitting in the chair by the round table._] Preposterous!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Stamping her foot._] Mother----! [_To_ SIR RANDLE.] Philip has high
expectations of his next novel, Dad. It is to be published in the
autumn--September.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ PHILIP.] And should that prove no more successful with the "wide
public" than those which have preceded it----?

                              PHILIP.

Then I--then I fling another at 'em.

                              SIR RANDLE.

Which would occupy you----?

                              PHILIP.

Twelve months.

                              LADY FILSON.

And if _that_ fails----!

                              PHILIP.

[_Smiling again, but rather constrainedly._] Ah, you travel too quickly
for me, Lady Filson--you and Sir Randle! You heap disaster on
disaster----

                              SIR RANDLE.

If _that_ fails, another twelve-months' labour!

                              LADY FILSON.

While my daughter is wasting the best years of her life!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Indignantly._] Really, Mr. Mackworth! [_Throwing himself upon the
settee on the right._] Really! I appeal to you! Is this fair?

                              LADY FILSON.

Is it fair to Ottoline?

                              OTTOLINE.

_Absolument!_ So that it satisfies me to spend the best years of my
life in this manner, I don't see what anybody has to complain of. _Mon
Dieu!_ I am relieved to think that some of my best years are still mine
to squander!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ PHILIP, _who is standing by the writing-table in thought, a look
of disquiet on his face--persistently._] Mr. Mackworth----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Rising impatiently._] My dear Dad--my dear mother--I propose that we
postpone this discussion until Mr. Mackworth's new book _has_ failed to
attract the public, [_crossing to_ SIR RANDLE] and that in the meantime
he sha'n't be scowled at when he presents himself in Ennismore Gardens.
[_Seating herself beside_ SIR RANDLE _and slipping her arm through
his._] Dad----!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_To_ PHILIP.] Mr. Mackworth----!

                              PHILIP.

[_Rousing himself and turning to_ SIR RANDLE _and_ LADY FILSON_--abruptly._]
Look here, Sir Randle! Look here, Lady Filson! I own that this
arrangement between Ottoline and me is an odd one. It was arrived at
yesterday impulsively; and, in her interests, there _is_ a good deal to
be said against it.

                              LADY FILSON.

There's nothing to be said _for_ it. Oh----!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ LADY FILSON.] Winifred--[_To_ PHILIP.] Well, Mr. Mackworth?

                              PHILIP.

Well, Sir Randle, I--I'm prepared to take a sporting chance. It may be
that I am misled by the sanguine temperament of the artist, who is apt
to believe that his latest production will shake the earth to its
foundation. I've gammoned myself before into such a belief,
but--[_resolutely_] I'll stake everything on my next book! I give you
my word that if it isn't a success--an indisputable popular success--I
will join you both, in all sincerity, in urging Ottoline to break with
me. Come! Does that mollify you?

               [_There is a short silence._ SIR RANDLE _and_ LADY
               FILSON _look at each other in surprise and_ OTTOLINE
               _stares at_ PHILIP _open-mouthed._

                              OTTOLINE.

Philip----!

                              PHILIP.

[_To_ SIR RANDLE.] Sir Randle----?

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ LADY FILSON.] Winnie----?

                              LADY FILSON.

[_In a softer tone._] It certainly seems to me that Mr. Mackworth's
undertaking--as far as it goes----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_With a queer laugh._] Ha, ha, ha! As far as it goes, mother!
[_Rising, thoughtfully._] Doesn't it go a little _too_ far?
[_Contracting her brows._] It disposes of _me_ as if I were of no more
account than a sawdust doll! [_To_ PHILIP.] Ah, traitor! [_In a low
voice._] _Vos promesses à une femme sont sans valeur!_

                              PHILIP.

[_Taking her hands reassuringly._] No, no----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Withdrawing her hands._] Zut! [_Moving slowly towards the glazed
door._] You have acquitted yourself bravely, _mon cher Monsieur
Philippe_! [_Shrugging her shoulders._] Say good-bye and let me turn
you out in disgrace.

                              PHILIP.

[_Deprecatingly._] Ha, ha, ha! [_Going to_ LADY FILSON.] Good-bye, Lady
Filson. [_She rises and shakes hands with him._] Have I bought my right
of _entrée_? I may ring your bell at discreet intervals till the end of
the season?

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Stiffly._] Ottoline is her own mistress, Mr. Mackworth; [_more
amiably_] but apart from her, you will receive a card from
me--music--Tuesday, July the eighth.

               [_He bows and she crosses to the fireplace. Then he
               shakes hands with_ SIR RANDLE, _who has risen and is
               standing in the middle of the room._

                              PHILIP.

[_To_ SIR RANDLE.] Good-bye.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Detaining_ PHILIP, _searchingly._] Er--pardon me--this new novel of
yours, on which you place so much reliance--pray don't think me
curious----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Suddenly._] Ha! [_Coming to the back of the settee on the right, her
eyes gleaming scornfully at_ SIR RANDLE.] Tell my father, Philip--tell
him----

                              PHILIP.

[_Shaking his head at her and frowning._] Otto----

                              OTTOLINE.

Do; as you told it to me yesterday. [_Satirically._] It will help him
to understand why your name has escaped him in the great journals!

                              SIR RANDLE.

Any confidence you may repose in me, Mr. Mackworth----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Prompting_ PHILIP.] It's called--_allons! racontez donc!_----

                              PHILIP.

[_After a further look of protest at_ OTTOLINE--_to_ SIR RANDLE,
_hesitatingly_.] It's called "The Big Drum," Sir Randle.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Elevating his eyebrows._] "The Big Drum"? [_With an innocent air._]
Military?

                              PHILIP.

No; social.

                              SIR RANDLE.

Social?

                              PHILIP.

[_Leaning against the arm-chair on the left of the settee on the
right._] It's an attempt to portray the struggle for notoriety--for
self-advertisement--we see going on around us to-day.

                              SIR RANDLE.

Ah, yes; lamentable!

                              PHILIP.

[_Deliberately, but losing himself in his subject as he proceeds._] It
shows a vast crowd of men and women, sir, forcing themselves upon
public attention without a shred of modesty, fighting to obtain it as
if they are fighting for bread and meat. It shows how dignity and
reserve have been cast aside as virtues that are antiquated and
outworn, until half the world--the world that should be orderly,
harmonious, beautiful--has become an arena for the exhibition of vulgar
ostentation or almost superhuman egoism--a cockpit resounding with
raucous voices bellowing one against the other!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Closing his eyes._] A terrible picture!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Closing her eyes._] Terrible.

                              PHILIP.

It shows the bishop and the judge playing to the gallery, the
politician adopting the methods of the cheap-jack, the duchess vying
with the puffing draper; it shows how even true genius submits itself
to conditions that are accepted and excused as "modern," and is found
elbowing and pushing in the hurly-burly. It shows how the ordinary
decencies of life are sacrificed to the paragraphist, the interviewer,
and the ghoul with the camera; how the home is stripped of its
sanctity, blessed charity made a vehicle for display, the very
grave-yard transformed into a parade ground; while the outsider looks
on with a sinking of the vitals because the drumstick is beyond his
reach and the bom-bom-bom is not for him! It shows----! [_Checking
himself and leaving the arm-chair with a short laugh._] Oh, well,
that's the setting of my story, Sir Randle! I won't inflict the details
upon you.

                              SIR RANDLE.

Er--h'm--[_expansively_] an excellent theme, Mr. Mackworth; a most
promising theme! [_To_ LADY FILSON.] Eh, Winifred?

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Politely._] Excellent; quite, quite excellent!

                              PHILIP.

[_Bowing to_ LADY FILSON _and going to_ OTTOLINE.] Thank you.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_To_ PHILIP, _glowingly_.] Splendid! [_Laying her hand upon his arm._]
You have purged your disgrace. [_Softly._] You may come and see me
to-morrow.

                              PHILIP.

[_To_ OTTOLINE.] Ha, ha----!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_In response to a final bow from_ PHILIP.] Good-bye.

                              LADY FILSON.

_Good_-bye.

               [OTTOLINE _opens the glazed door and_ PHILIP _follows
               her into the hall. Immediately the door is shut_, LADY
               FILSON _hurries to_ SIR RANDLE.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_In high spirits._] Winnie----!

                              LADY FILSON.

_That_ will never be a popular success, Randle!

                              SIR RANDLE.

Never. An offensive book----!

                              LADY FILSON.

Ho, ho, ho, ho----!

                              SIR RANDLE.

A grossly offensive book!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Anxiously_.] He--he'll keep his word----?

                              SIR RANDLE.

To join us in persuading her to drop him----

                              LADY FILSON.

If it fails?

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_With conviction._] Yes. [_Walking about._] Yes. We _must_ be just. We
owe it to ourselves to be just to Mr. Mackworth. He is not altogether
devoid of gentlemanlike scruples.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Breathlessly._] And--and _she_----?

                              SIR RANDLE.

I trust--I trust that my child's monstrous infatuation will have cooled
down by the autumn.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Supporting herself by the chair at the writing-table, her hand to her
heart--exhausted._] Oh! Oh, dear!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Returning to her._] I conducted the affair with skill and tact,
Winifred?

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Rallying._] It was masterly--[_kissing him_] masterly----

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Proudly._] Ha!

               [_She sits at the writing-table again and takes up her
               pen as_ SIR RANDLE _stalks to the door on the left._

                              LADY FILSON.

Masterly!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Opening the door._] Bertram--Bertram, my boy--Bertie----!

               [_He disappears._ LADY FILSON _scribbles violently._


END OF THE SECOND ACT



THE THIRD ACT


_The scene represents two rooms, connected by a pair of wide doors, in
a set of residential chambers on the upper floor of a house in Gray's
Inn. The further room is the dining-room, the nearer room a study. In
the wall at the back of the dining-room are two windows; in the
right-hand wall is a door leading to the kitchen; and in the left-hand
wall a door opens from a vestibule, where, opposite this door, there is
another door which gives on to the landing of the common stair._

_In the study, a door in the right-hand wall admits to a bedroom; in
the wall facing the spectator is a door opening into the room from the
vestibule; and beyond the door on the right, in a piece of wall cutting
off the corner of the room, is the fireplace. A bright fire is
burning._

_The rooms are wainscotted to the ceilings and have a decrepit,
old-world air, and the odds and ends of furniture--all characteristic
of the dwelling of a poor literary man of refined taste--are in keeping
with the surroundings. In the dining-room there are half-a-dozen chairs
of various patterns, a sideboard or two, a corner-cupboard, a
"grandfather" clock, and a large round table. In the study, set out
into the room at the same angle as the fireplace, is a writing-table. A
chair stands at the writing-table, its back to the fire, and in the
front of the table is a well-worn settee. On the left of the settee is
a smaller table, on which are an assortment of pipes, a box of cigars
and another of cigarettes, a tobacco-jar, an ash-tray, and a bowl of
matches; and on the left of the table is a capacious arm-chair. There
is an arm-chair on either side of the fireplace; and against the
right-hand wall, on the nearer side of the bedroom door, is a cabinet._

_On the other side of the room, facing the bedroom door, there is a
second settee, and behind the settee is an oblong table littered with
books and magazines. At a little distance from this table stands an
arm-chair, and against the wall at the back, on the left of the big
doors, is a chair of a lighter sort. Also against the back wall, but on
the left of the door opening from the vestibule, is a table with a
telephone-instrument upon it, and running along the left-hand wall is a
dwarf bookcase, unglazed, packed with books which look as if they would
be none the worse for being dusted and put in order._

_In the vestibule, against the wall on the right, there is a small
table on which are Philip's hats, caps, and gloves; and an overcoat and
a man's cape are hanging on some pegs._

_It is late on a November afternoon. Curtains are drawn across the
dining-room windows, and the room is lighted rather dimly by an
electric lamp standing upon a sideboard. A warm glow proceeds from the
nearer right-hand corner as from a fire. The study is lighted by a
couple of standard lamps and a library-lamp on the writing-table, and
the vestibule by a lamp suspended from the ceiling._

_The big doors are open._


               [PHILIP, _a pipe in his mouth and wearing an old velvet
               jacket, is lying upon the settee on the right, reading a
               book by the light of the lamp on the writing-table. In
               the dining-room,_ JOHN _and a waiter--the latter in his
               shirt-sleeves--are at the round table, unfolding a white
               table-cloth._

                              JOHN.

[_A cheery little man in seedy clothes--to the waiter, softly._]
Careful! Don't crease it.

                              PHILIP.

[_Raising his eyes from his book._] What's the time, John?

                              JOHN.

Quarter-to-six, sir.

                              PHILIP.

Have my things come from the tailor's yet?

                              JOHN.

[_Laying the cloth with the aid of the waiter._] Yes, sir; while you
were dozing. [_Ecstatically._] They're lovely, sir. [_A bell rings in
the vestibule._] Expect that's the cook, sir. [_He bustles into the
vestibule from the dining-room. There is a short pause and then he
reappears, entering the study at the door opening from the vestibule,
followed by_ ROOPE.] It's Mr. Roope, sir!

                              PHILIP.

No! [_Throwing his book aside and jumping up._] Why, Robbie!

                              ROOPE.

[_As they shake hands vigorously._] My dear fellow!

                              PHILIP.

Return of the wanderer! When did you get back?

                              ROOPE.

Last night.

                              PHILIP.

Take your coat off, you old ruffian. [_Putting his pipe down._] I _am_
glad.

                              ROOPE.

[_To_ JOHN, _who relieves him of his hat, overcoat, and neckerchief._]
How are _you_, John?

                              JOHN.

Splendid, Mr. Roope. [_Beaming._] Our new novel is _sech_ a success,
sir.

                              PHILIP.

Ha, ha, ha, ha!

                              ROOPE.

[_To_ JOHN.] So Mr. Mackworth wrote and told me. [_Giving his gloves
to_ JOHN.] Congratulate you, John.

                              JOHN.

[_Depositing the hat, coat, etc., upon the settee on the left._]
Thank you, sir.

                              ROOPE.

[_Crossing to the fireplace, rubbing his hands, as_ JOHN _retires to
the dining-room._] Oh, my dear Phil, this dreadful climate after the
sunshine of the Lago Maggiore!

                              PHILIP.

[_Walking about and spouting, in high spirits._] "Italia! O Italia!
thou who hast the fatal gift of beauty----!"

                              ROOPE.

Sir Loftus and Lady Glazebrook were moving on to Rome, or I really
believe I could have endured another month at their villa, bores as
they are, dear kind souls! [_Looking towards the dining-room, where_
JOHN _and the waiter are now placing a handsome centre-piece of flowers
upon the round table._] Hallo! A dinner-party, Phil?

                              PHILIP.

Dinner-party? A banquet!

                              ROOPE.

To celebrate the success of the book?

                              PHILIP.

That and something more. This festival, sir, of the preparations for
which you are a privileged spectator--[_shouting to_ JOHN] shut those
doors, John----

                              JOHN.

Yessir.

                              PHILIP.

[_Sitting in the chair on the left of the smoking-table as_ JOHN
_closes the big doors._] This festival, my dear Robbie--[_glancing over
his shoulder to assure himself that the doors are closed_] this
festival also celebrates my formal engagement to Madame de Chaumié.

                              ROOPE.

[_Triumphantly._] Aha!

                              PHILIP.

[_Taking a cigarette from the box at his side._] Ottoline and I are to
be married soon after Christmas. The civilized world is to be startled
by the announcement on Monday.

                              ROOPE.

[_Advancing._] My dear chap, I've never heard anything that has given
me greater pleasure. [PHILIP _offers_ ROOPE _the cigarette-box._] No, I
won't smoke. [_Seating himself upon the settee on the right._] When was
it settled?

                              PHILIP.

[_Lighting his cigarette._] The day before yesterday. I got Titterton
to write me a letter--Titterton, my publisher--certifying to the
enormous sales of the book, and sent it on to Sir Randle Filson.
Nothing like documentary evidence, Robbie. [_Leaning back in his chair
with outstretched legs and exhaling a wreath of tobacco-smoke._]
Twenty-five thousand copies, my boy, up to date, and still going
strong.

                              ROOPE.

Wonderful.

                              PHILIP.

Phew! The critics treated me generously enough, but it hung fire
damnably at first. At one particularly hellish moment I could have
sworn it wouldn't do more than my usual fifteen or eighteen hundred,
and I cursed myself for having been such a besotted fool as to pin my
faith to it. [_Sitting upright._] And then, suddenly, a rush--a
tremendous rush! Twenty-four thousand went off in less than six weeks.
Almost uncanny, eh? [_Touching the tobacco-jar._] Oh, lord, sometimes I
think I've been putting opium into my pipe instead of this innocent
baccy, and that I shall wake up to the necessity of counting my pence
again and apologizing to John for being in arrear with his wages!

                              ROOPE.

And Titterton's letter brought the Filsons round?

                              PHILIP.

[_Nodding._] Brought 'em round; and I must say they've accomplished the
change of attitude most graciously.

                              ROOPE.

[_Oracularly._] Graciously or grudgingly, they couldn't help
themselves, dear excellent friend. As you had pledged yourself in
effect to resign the lady if your book was a failure, it follows that
they were bound to clasp you to their bosoms if it succeeded. I don't
want to detract from the amiability of the Filsons for an instant----

                              PHILIP.

Anyhow, their opposition is at an end, and all is rosy. [_Rising and
pacing the room._] Master Bertram is a trifle glum and stand-offish
perhaps, but Sir Randle--! Ha, ha, ha! Sir Randle has taken Literature
under his wing, Robbie, from Chaucer to Kipling, in the person of his
prospective son-in-law. You'd imagine, to listen to him, that to
establish ties of relationship with a literary man has been his chief
aim in life.

                              ROOPE.

[_Jerking his head in the direction of the dining-room._] And this
is to be a family gathering----?

                              PHILIP.

The first in the altered circumstances. I proposed a feast at a smart
restaurant, but Sir Randle preferred the atmosphere which has conduced,
as he puts it, to the creation of so many of my brilliant compositions.
[_Behind the smoking-table, dropping the end of his cigarette into the
ash-tray--gaily._] Robbie, I've had a magnificent suit of joy-rags made
for the occasion!

                              ROOPE.

[_Earnestly._] Good! I rejoice to hear it, dear excellent friend, and I
hope it portends a wholesale order to your tailor and your intention to
show yourself in society again freely. [_With a laugh,_ PHILIP _goes to
the fireplace and stands looking into the fire._] Begin leaving your
cards at once. No more sulking in your tent! [_Rising and crossing to
the other side of the room._] You have _arrived_, my dear chap; I read
your name in two papers in my cabin yesterday. [_Marching up and
down._] Your foot is on the ladder; you bid fair to become a celebrity,
if you are not one already; and your approaching marriage sheds
additional lustre on you. I envy you, Phil; I do, positively.

                              PHILIP.

[_Facing_ ROOPE.] Oh, of course, I shall be seen about with Ottoline
during our engagement. Afterwards----

                              ROOPE.

[_Halting._] Afterwards----?

                              PHILIP.

Everything will depend on my wife--[_relishing the word_] my _wife_.
Ottoline has rather lost her taste for Society with a capital S,
remember.

                              ROOPE.

[_Testily._] That was her mood last June, when she was hypped and
discontented. With a husband she can be proud of, surely----!

                              PHILIP.

[_Coming forward._] As a matter of fact, Robbie, I'm inclined to agree
with you; I've been staring into my fire, or out of my windows here, a
jolly sight too much. [_Expanding his chest._] It'll be refreshing to
me to rub shoulders with people again for a bit--[_smiling_] even to
find myself the object of a little interest and curiosity.

                              ROOPE.

[_Delighted._] Dear excellent friend!

                              PHILIP.

Ha, ha! You see, I'm not without my share of petty vanity. I'm
consistent, though. Didn't I tell you in South Audley Street that I was
as eager for fame as any man living, if only I could win it in my own
way?

                              ROOPE.

You did.

                              PHILIP.

[_Exultingly._] Well, I _have_ won it in my own way, haven't I!
[_Hitting the palm of his hand with his fist._] I've done what I
determined to do, Robbie; what I knew I _should_ do, sooner or later!
I've _got there_--got there!--by simple, honest means! Isn't it
glorious?

                              ROOPE.

[_Cautiously._] I admit----

                              PHILIP.

[_Breaking in._] Oh, I don't pretend that there haven't been moments in
my years of stress and struggle when I've been tempted to join the
gaudy, cackling fowl whose feathers I flatter myself I've plucked
pretty thoroughly in my book! But I've resisted the devil by prayers
and fasting; and, by George, sir, I wouldn't swap my modest victory for
the vogue of the biggest boomster in England! [_Boisterously._] Ha, ha,
ha! Whoop! [_Seizing_ ROOPE _and shaking him._] Dare to preach your
gospel to me _now_, you arch-apostle of quackery and self-advertisement!

                              ROOPE.

[_Peevishly, releasing himself._] Upon my word, Phil----!

               [_The bell rings again._

                              PHILIP.

The cook! [_To_ ROOPE, _seeing that he is putting on his muffler._]
Don't go.

                              ROOPE.

I must. [_Taking up his overcoat._] I merely ran along to shake hands
with you, and I'm sorry I took the trouble. [PHILIP _helps him into his
overcoat laughingly._] Thanks.

                              PHILIP.

[_Suddenly._] Robbie----!

                              ROOPE.

[_Struggling with an obstinate sleeve._] Hey?

                              PHILIP.

It's just struck me. Where are _you_ dining to-night?

                              ROOPE.

At the Garrick, with Hughie Champion. [_Picking up his hat and
gloves._] He's getting horribly deaf and tedious; but I had nothing
better.

                              PHILIP.

Bother Colonel Champion! I wish you could have dined with _me_.

                              ROOPE.

[_His hat on his head, drawing on his gloves._] Dear excellent
_friend_! I should be out of place.

                              PHILIP.

Rubbish! Your presence would be peculiarly appropriate, my dear Robbie.
Wasn't it you who brought Ottoline and me together, God bless yer!
[_Observing that_ ROOPE _is weakening._] There's heaps of room for an
extra chair. Everybody 'ud be delighted.

                              ROOPE.

[_Meditatively._] I could telephone to Hughie excusing myself. He
didn't ask me till this afternoon. [_With an injured air._] I resent a
short notice.

                              PHILIP.

[_His eyes twinkling._] Quite right. Mine's short too----

                              ROOPE.

That's different.

                              PHILIP.

Entirely. You'll come?

                              ROOPE.

If you're certain the Filsons and Madame de Chaumié----

                              PHILIP.

Certain. [_Following_ ROOPE _to the door admitting to the vestibule._]
Eight o'clock.

                              ROOPE.

[_Opening the door._] Charming.

                              PHILIP.

Won't you let John fetch you a taxi?

                              ROOPE.

[_Shaking hands with_ PHILIP.] No, I'll walk into Holborn. [_In the
doorway._] Oh, by-the-by, I've a message for you, Phil.

                              PHILIP.

From whom?

                              ROOPE.

Barradell, of all people in the world.

                              PHILIP.

[_Surprised._] Sir Timothy?

                              ROOPE.

He's home. I crossed with him yesterday, and we travelled in the same
carriage from Dover.

                              PHILIP.

What's the message?

                              ROOPE.

He saw your book in my bag, and began talking about you. He said he
hadn't met you for years, but that I was to give you his warm regards.

                              PHILIP.

Indeed?

                              ROOPE.

[_Astutely._] My impression is that he's heard rumours concerning you
and Madame de Chaumié while he's been away, and that he's anxious to
show he has no ill-will. I suppose your calling so often in Ennismore
Gardens has been remarked.

                              PHILIP.

Extremely civil of him, if that's the case. [_Loftily._] Decent sort of
fellow, I recollect.

                              ROOPE.

[_Going into the vestibule._] Very; very.

                              PHILIP.

Poor chap!

                              ROOPE.

[_Opening the outer door._] Eight o'clock, dear excellent friend.

                              PHILIP.

[_At his elbow._] Sharp.

                              ROOPE.

[_Disappearing._] _Au revoir!_

                              PHILIP.

_Au revoir!_ [_Calling after_ ROOPE.] Mind that corner! [_Closing the
outer door with a bang and shouting._] John! [_Coming back into the
study._] John! [_Closing the vestibule door._] John! [_Going to the big
doors and opening the one on the left a little way._] John----!

               [OTTOLINE, _richly dressed in furs, steps through the
               opening and confronts him. Her cheeks are flushed and
               her manner has lost some of its repose._

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Shutting the door behind her as she enters--playfully._] _Qu'est-ce
que vous désirez John?_

                              PHILIP.

[_Catching her in his arms._] My dear girl!

                              OTTOLINE.

Ha, ha! I'm not going to stop a minute. [_Rapidly._] I've been to tea
with Kitty Millington; and as I was getting into my car, I suddenly
thought--! [_He kisses her._] I waited in there to avoid Robbie Roope.

                              PHILIP.

Robbie came back yesterday. I hope I haven't done wrong; I've asked him
to dine here to-night.

                              OTTOLINE.

Wrong! Dear old Robbie! But I didn't want him just now. [_Loosening her
wrap and hunting for a pocket in it._] I've brought you a little gift,
Phil--_en souvenir de cette soirée_----

                              PHILIP.

[_Reprovingly._] Oh----!

                              OTTOLINE.

I got it at Cartier's this afternoon. I meant to slip it into your
serviette to-night quietly, but it's burning a hole in my pocket. [_She
produces a small jewel-case and presents it to him._] Will you wear
that in your tie sometimes?

                              PHILIP.

[_Opening the case and gazing at its contents._] Phiou! [_She leaves
him, walking away to the fireplace._] What a gorgeous pearl! [_He
follows her and they stand side by side, he holding the case at
arm's-length admiringly, his other arm round her waist._] You
shouldn't, Otto. You're incorrigible.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Leaning her head against his shoulder--softly._] Phil----

                              PHILIP.

[_Still gazing at the scarf-pin._] To-morrow I'll buy the most
beautiful silk scarf ever weaved.

                              OTTOLINE.

Phil, I've a feeling that it's from to-night, when I sit at your
table--how sweet your flowers are; I couldn't help noticing them!--I've
a feeling that it's from to-night that we really belong to each other.

                              PHILIP.

[_Pressing her closer to him._] Ah----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_With a shiver, closing her eyes._] What has gone before has been
hateful--hateful!

                              PHILIP.

[_Looking down upon her fondly._] Hateful?

                              OTTOLINE.

Until--until your book commenced to sell, at any rate. Suspense--a
horrid sensation of uneasiness, mistrust--the fear that, through your
foolish, hasty promise to mother and Dad, you might, after all, unite
with them to cheat me out of my happiness! That's what it has been to
_me_, Philip.

                              PHILIP.

[_Rallying her, but a little guiltily._] Ha, ha, ha! You goose! I knew
exactly how events would shape, Otto; hadn't a doubt on the subject.
[_Shutting the jewel-case with a snap and a flourish._] _I_ knew----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Releasing herself._] Ah, yes, I dare say I've been dreadfully stupid.
[_Shaking herself, as if to rid herself of unpleasant memories, and
again leaving him._] Well! _Sans adieu!_ [_Fastening her wrap._] Get
your hat and take me downstairs.

                              PHILIP.

Wait a moment! [_Chuckling._] Ho, ho! I'm not to be outdone altogether.
[_Pocketing her gift, he goes to the cabinet on the right and unlocks
it. She watches him from the middle of the room. Presently he comes to
her, carrying a little ring-case._] Take off your glove--[_pointing to
her left hand_] that one. [_She removes her glove tremulously. He takes
a ring from the case, tosses the case on to the writing-table, and
slips the ring on her third finger._] By George, I'm in luck; blessed
if it doesn't fit!

               [_She surveys the ring in silence for a while; then she
               puts her arms round his neck and hides her face on his
               breast._

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Almost inaudibly._] Oh, Phil!

                              PHILIP.

[_Tenderly._] And so this is the end of the journey, Otto!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_In a whisper._] The end?

                              PHILIP.

The dreary journey in opposite directions you and I set out upon nearly
eleven years ago in Paris.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Quivering._] Ah----!

                              PHILIP.

My dear, what does it matter as long as our roads meet at last, and
meet where there are clear pools to bathe our vagabond feet and
sunshine to heal our sore bodies! [_She raises her head and rummages
for her handkerchief._] Otto----!

                              OTTOLINE.

Yes?

                              PHILIP.

In April--eh----?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Drying her eyes._] April----?

                              PHILIP.

You haven't forgotten the compact we entered into at Robbie Roope's?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Brightening._] Ah, no!

                              PHILIP.

In April we walk under the chestnut-trees once more in the
Champs-Elysées----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Smiling through her tears._] And the Allée de Longchamp----!

                              PHILIP.

As husband and wife--we shall be an old married couple by then----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Pulling on her glove._] And drink milk at the d'Armenonville----!

                              PHILIP.

And the Pré-Catelan----!

                              OTTOLINE.

And we'll make pilgrimages, Phil----!

                              PHILIP.

Yes, we'll gaze up at the windows of my gloomy lodgings in the Rue
Soufflot--what was the number?----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Contracting her brows._] _Quarante-trois bis._

                              PHILIP.

[_Banteringly._] Where you honoured me with a visit, madame, with your
maid Nanette----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Warding off the recollection with a gesture._] Oh, don't----!

                              PHILIP.

Ha, ha, ha! A shame of me----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Turning from him._] Do get your hat and coat.

                              PHILIP.

[_Going into the vestibule._] Where's your car?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Moving towards the vestibule._] In South Square.

                              PHILIP.

[_Returning to her, a cape over his shoulders, a soft hat on his
head._] Eight o'clock!

                              OTTOLINE.

Eight o'clock.

               [_He takes her hands and they stand looking into each
               other's eyes._

                              PHILIP.

[_After a pause._] Fancy!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Faintly._] Fancy! [_He is drawing her to him slowly when, uttering a
low cry, she embraces him wildly and passionately._] Oh! [_Clinging to
him._] Oh, Phil! Oh--oh--oh----!

                              PHILIP.

[_Responding to her embrace._] Otto--Otto----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Breaking from him._] Oh----!

               [_She hurries to the outer door. He follows her quickly,
               closing the vestibule door after him. Then the outer
               door is heard to shut, and the curtain falls. After a
               short interval, the curtain rises again, showing all the
               doors closed and the study in darkness save for the
               light of the fire. The bell rings, and again there is an
               interval; and then the vestibule door is opened by_
               JOHN--_attired for waiting at table--and_ BERTRAM
               _brushes past him and enters._ BERTRAM _is in evening
               dress._

                              BERTRAM.

[_As he enters, brusquely._] Yes, I know I'm a little too soon. I want
to speak to Mr. Mackworth--before the others come, I mean t'say----

               [JOHN _switches on the light of a lamp by the vestibule
               door. It is now seen that_ BERTRAM _is greatly flustered
               and excited._

                              JOHN.

[_Taking_ BERTRAM's _hat, overcoat, etc._] I'll tell Mr. Mackworth,
sir. He's dressin'.

               [JOHN, _eyeing_ BERTRAM _wonderingly, goes to the door
               of the bedroom_. _There, having switched on the light of
               another lamp, he knocks._

                              PHILIP.

[_From the bedroom._] Yes?

                              JOHN.

[_Opening the door a few inches._] Mr. Filson, sir.

                              PHILIP.

[_Calling out._] Hallo, Bertram!

                              JOHN.

Mr. Filson wants to speak to you, sir.

                              PHILIP.

I'll be with him in ten seconds. Leave the door open.

                              JOHN.

Yessir.

               [JOHN _withdraws, carrying_ BERTRAM's _outdoor things
               into the vestibule and shutting the vestibule door_.

                              PHILIP.

[_Calling to_ BERTRAM _again_.] I'm in the throes of tying a bow, old
man. Sit down. [BERTRAM, _glaring at the bedroom door, remains
standing_.] O'ho, that's fine! Ha, ha, ha! I warn you, I'm an
overpowering swell to-night. A new suit of clothes, Bertram, devised
and executed in less than thirty-six hours! And a fit, sir; every item
of it! You'll be green with envy when you see this coat. I'm ready for
you. Handkerchief--? [_Shouting._] John--! Oh, here it is! [_Switching
off the light in the bedroom and appearing, immaculately dressed, in
the doorway._] Behold! [_Closing the door and advancing to_ BERTRAM.]
How are you, Bertram? [BERTRAM _refuses_ PHILIP's _hand by putting his
own behind his back_. PHILIP _raises his eyebrows_.] Oh? [_A pause._]
Anything amiss? [_Observing_ BERTRAM's _heated look_.] You don't look
well, Filson.

                              BERTRAM.

[_Breathing heavily._] No, I'm not well--I mean t'say, I'm sick with
indignation----

                              PHILIP.

What about?

                              BERTRAM.

You've attempted to play us all a rascally trick, Mackworth; a low,
scurvy, contemptible----

                              PHILIP.

[_Frowning._] A trick?

                              BERTRAM.

I've just come from Mr. Dunning--a man I've thought it my duty to
employ in the interests of my family--Sillitoe and Dunning, the
private-inquiry people----

                              PHILIP.

Private-inquiry people?

                              BERTRAM.

Dunning rang me up an hour ago, and I went down to him. The discovery
wasn't clinched till this afternoon----

                              PHILIP.

The discovery?

                              BERTRAM.

[_Derisively._] Ho! This precious book of yours--"The Big Drum"! A
grand success, Mackworth!

                              PHILIP.

[_Perplexed._] I don't----

                              BERTRAM.

"The Big Drum"! Wouldn't "The Big Fraud" be a more suitable title, I
mean t'say?

                              PHILIP.

Fraud?

                              BERTRAM.

Reached its twenty-fifth thousand, and the demand still continues! You
and Mr. what's-his-name--Titterton--ought to be publicly exposed,
Mackworth; and if we were in the least spiteful and vindictive----

                              PHILIP.

[_Tightening his lips._] Are you sober, Filson?

                              BERTRAM.

Now, don't you be insolent, because it won't answer. [PHILIP _winces,
but restrains himself._] The question is, what are we to do
_to-night_--for Ottoline's sake, I mean t'say. We must spare her as
much shock and distress as possible. I assume you've sufficient decency
left to agree with me there. My father and mother too--they're quite
ignorant of the steps I've been taking----

                              PHILIP.

[_Controlling himself with difficulty._] My good fellow, will you
condescend to explain----?

                              BERTRAM.

[_Walking away._] Oh, it's no use, Mackworth--this air of innocence!
[_Puffing himself out and strutting to and fro on the left._] It's
simply wasted effort, I mean t'say. In five minutes I can have Dunning
here with the whole disreputable story. He's close by--bottom of
Chancery Lane. He'll be at his office till half-past-eleven----

                              PHILIP.

[_Between his teeth--thrusting his hands into his trouser-pockets._]
Very accommodating of him!

                              BERTRAM.

I tried to get on to my father from Dunning's--to ask his advice, I
mean t'say--but he'd dressed early and gone to one of his clubs, and
they couldn't tell me which one. [_Halting and looking at his watch._]
_My_ suggestion is that you and I should struggle through this farce of
a dinner as best we can--as if nothing had happened. I mean t'say--and
that I should reserve the disclosure of your caddish conduct till
to-morrow. You assent to that course, Mackworth? [_Dabbing his forehead
with his handkerchief._] Thank heaven, the announcement of the
engagement hasn't appeared!

                              PHILIP.

[_In a calm voice._] Bertram--[_pointing to the chair on the left of
the smoking-table_] Bertie, old man--[_seating himself easily upon the
settee on the right_] you're your sister's brother and I'm not going to
lose my temper----

                              BERTRAM.

[_Sneeringly._] My dear sir----

                              PHILIP.

[_Leaning back and crossing his legs._] One thing I seem to grasp
clearly; and that is that, while I've been endeavouring to conciliate
you, and make a pal of you, you've been leaguing yourself with a tame
detective with the idea of injuring me in some way with Ottoline and
your father and mother. [_Folding his arms._] That's correct, isn't it?

                              BERTRAM.

[_With a disdainful shrug._] If you think it will benefit you to
distort my motives, Mackworth, pray do so. [_Returning to the middle of
the room._] What I've done, I've done, as I've already stated, from a
sheer sense of duty----

                              PHILIP.

[_Again pointing to the chair._] Please! You'll look less formidable,
old man----

                              BERTRAM.

[_Sitting, haughtily._] Knowing what depended on the fate of your book,
I felt from the first that you might be unscrupulous enough to induce
your publisher to represent it as being a popular success--in order to
impose on us, I mean t'say--though actually it was another of your
failures to hit the mark; and when Titterton started blowing the
trumpet so loudly, my suspicions increased. [PHILIP _slowly unfolds his
arms._] As for desiring to injure you with my family at any price, I
scorn the charge. I've had the delicacy to refrain from even mentioning
my suspicions to my father and mother, let alone Ottoline. [_Putting
his necktie straight and smoothing his hair and his slightly crumpled
shirt-front._] Deeply as I regret your connection with my sister, I
should have been only too happy, I mean t'say, if my poor opinion of
you had been falsified.

                              PHILIP.

[_His hands clenched, but preserving his suavity._] Extremely grateful
to you, Bertie. I see! And so, burdened by these suspicions, you
carried them to Mr.--Mr. Gunning?

                              BERTRAM.

Dunning. I didn't regard it as a job for a respectable solicitor----

                              PHILIP.

[_Politely._] _Didn't_ you!

                              BERTRAM.

Not that there's anything against Dunning----

                              PHILIP.

[_Uncrossing his legs and sitting upright._] Well, that brings us to
the point, doesn't it?

                              BERTRAM.

The point?

                              PHILIP.

The precise, and illuminating, details of the fable your friend at the
bottom of Chancery Lane is fooling you with.

                              BERTRAM.

[_In a pitying tone._] Oh, my dear Mackworth! I repeat, it's no _use_
your adopting this attitude. You don't realize how completely you're
bowled over, I mean t'say. Dunning's got incontestable proofs----

                              PHILIP.

[_Jumping up, unable to repress himself any longer._] Damn the impudent
scoundrel----!

               [_The bell rings._

                              BERTRAM.

[_Listening._] Your bell!

                              PHILIP.

[_Striding to the left and then to the fireplace._] You said he's still
at his office, didn't you?

                              BERTRAM.

[_Rising._] Yes.

                              PHILIP.

[_Pointing to the telephone, imperatively._] Get him here at once.

                              BERTRAM.

[_Rather taken aback._] At once?

                              PHILIP.

I'll deal with this gentleman promptly.

                              BERTRAM.

[_Icily._] Not before Ottoline and my parents, I hope?

                              PHILIP.

[_Seizing the poker and attacking the fire furiously._] Before Ottoline
and your parents.

                              BERTRAM.

A most painful scene for them, I mean t'say----

                              PHILIP.

A painful scene for you and Mr. Dunning.

                              BERTRAM.

_After_ dinner--when they've gone--you and I'll go down to
Dunning----

                              PHILIP.

[_Flinging the poker into the grate and facing_ BERTRAM.] Confound you,
you don't suppose I'm going to act on your suggestion, and grin through
a long meal with this between us! [_Pointing to the telephone again._]
Ring him up, you treacherous little whelp--quick! [_Advancing._] If
_you_ won't----!

                              BERTRAM.

[_Bristling._] Oh, very good! [_Pausing on his way to the telephone and
addressing_ PHILIP _with an evil expression._] You were always a bully
and a blusterer, Mackworth; but, take my word for it, if you fancy you
can bully Mr. Dunning, and bluster to my family, with any satisfactory
results to yourself, you're vastly mistaken.

                              PHILIP.

[_Gruffly._] I beg your pardon; sorry I exploded.

                              BERTRAM.

[_Scowling._] It's of no consequence. [_At the telephone, his ear to
the receiver._] I am absolutely indifferent to your vulgar abuse, I
mean t'say.

               [JOHN _announces_ ROOPE. _Note:_ ROOPE _and the rest of
               the guests divest themselves of their overcoats, wraps,
               etc., in the vestibule before entering the room._

                              JOHN.

Mr. Roope.

                              ROOPE.

[_Greeting_ PHILIP _as_ JOHN _withdraws._] Am I the first----?

                              PHILIP.

[_Glancing at_ BERTRAM.] No.

                              BERTRAM.

[_Speaking into the telephone._] Holborn, three eight nine eight.

                              ROOPE.

[_Waving his hand to Bertram._] Ah! How _are_ you, my dear Mr. Filson?

                              BERTRAM.

[_To_ ROOPE, _sulkily._] How'r you? Excuse me----

                              ROOPE.

[_To_ PHILIP.] My dear Phil, these excursions to the east are
delightful; they are positively. The sights fill me with amazement.
I----

                              PHILIP.

[_Cutting him short by leading him to the fireplace._] Robbie----

                              ROOPE.

Hey?

                              PHILIP.

[_Grimly, dropping his voice._] Are you hungry?

                              ROOPE.

Dear excellent friend, since you put the question so plainly, I don't
mind avowing that I _am_--devilish hungry. Why----?

                              PHILIP.

There may be a slight delay, old chap.

                              ROOPE.

Delay?

                              PHILIP.

Yes, the east hasn't exhausted its marvels yet, by a long chalk.

                              ROOPE.

[_Looking at him curiously._] Nothing the matter, Phil?

                              BERTRAM.

[_Suddenly, into the telephone._] That you, Dunning----?

                              PHILIP.

[_To_ ROOPE.] Robbie----

               [_Turning to the fire,_ PHILIP _talks rapidly and
               energetically to_ ROOPE _in undertones._

                              BERTRAM.

[_Into the telephone._] Filson.... Mr. Filson.... I'm speaking from
Gray's Inn.... Gray's Inn--Mr. Mackworth's chambers--2, Friars
Court.... You're wanted, Dunning.... Now--immediately.... Yes, jump
into a taxicab and come up, will you?...

                              ROOPE.

[_To_ PHILIP, _aloud, opening his eyes widely._] My dear Phil----!

                              PHILIP.

[_With a big laugh._] Ha, ha, ha, ha----!

                              BERTRAM.

[_To_ PHILIP, _angrily._] Quiet! I can't hear. [_Into the telephone._]
I can't hear; there's such a beastly noise going on--what?... Dash it,
you can get something to eat at _any_ time! I mean to _say_--!...
Eh?... [_Irritably._] Oh, of course you may have a wash and brush
up!... Yes, he _is_.... You're coming, then?... Right! Goo'bye.

                              ROOPE.

[_To_ PHILIP, _who has resumed his communication to_
ROOPE_--incredulously._] Dear excellent friend----!

               [_The door-bell rings again._

                              PHILIP.

Ah--! [_Pausing on his way to the vestibule door--to_ BERTRAM.] Mr.
Dunning will favour us with his distinguished company?

                              BERTRAM.

[_Behind the table on the left, loweringly._] In a few minutes. He's
washing.

                              PHILIP.

Washing? Some of his customers' dirty linen? [_As he opens the
vestibule door,_ JOHN _admits_ SIR RANDLE FILSON _at the outer door._]
Ah, Sir Randle!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Heartily._] Well, Philip, my boy! [_While_ JOHN _is taking his hat,
overcoat, etc._] Are my dear wife and daughter here yet?

                              PHILIP.

Not yet.

                              SIR RANDLE.

I looked in at Brooks's on my way to you. I hadn't been there for
months. [_To_ JOHN.] My muffler in the right-hand pocket. Thank you.
[_Entering and shaking hands with_ PHILIP.] Ha! They gave me quite a
warm welcome. Very gratifying. [ROOPE _advances._] Mr. Roope! [_Shaking
hands with_ ROOPE _as_ PHILIP _shuts the vestibule door._] An
unexpected pleasure!

                              ROOPE.

[_Uneasily._] Er--I am rather an interloper, I'm afraid, my dear Sir
Randle----

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Retaining his hand._] No. [_Emphatically._] _No._ This is one of
Philip's many happy inspirations. If my memory is accurate, it was at
your charming flat in South Audley Street that he and my darling
child--[_discovering_ BERTRAM, _who is now by the settee on the left._]
Bertie! [_Going to him._] I haven't seen you all day, Bertie dear.
[_Kissing him on the forehead._] Busy, eh?

                              BERTRAM.

[_Stiffly._] Yes, father.

                              PHILIP.

[_At the chair on the left of the smoking-table, dryly._] Bertram has
been telling me how busy he has been, Sir Randle----

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Not perceiving the general air of restraint._] That reminds
me--[_moving, full of importance, to the settee on the right--feeling
in his breast-pocket_] the announcement of the engagement,
Philip--[_seating himself and producing a pocket-book_] Lady Filson and
I drew it up this morning. [_Hunting among some letters and papers._] I
_believe_ it is in the conventional form; but we so thoroughly
sympathize with you and Ottoline in your dislike for anything that
savours of pomp and flourish that we hesitate, without your sanction,
to--[_selecting a paper and handing it to_ PHILIP] ah! [_To_ ROOPE,
_who has returned to the fireplace--over his shoulder._] I am treating
you as one of ourselves, Mr. Roope----

                              ROOPE.

[_In a murmur._] Dear excellent friend----!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ PHILIP.] We propose to insert it only in the three or four
principal journals----

                              PHILIP.

[_Frowning at the paper._] Sir Randle----

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Blandly._] Eh?

                              PHILIP.

Haven't you given me the wrong paper?

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_With a look of alarm, hurriedly putting on his pince-nez and
searching in his pocket-book again._] The wrong----?

                              PHILIP.

This has "Universal News Agency" written in the corner of it.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Holding out his hand for the paper, faintly._] Oh----!

                              PHILIP.

[_Ignoring_ SIR RANDLE's _hand--reading._] "The extraordinary stir,
which we venture to prophesy will not soon be eclipsed, made by Mr.
Philip Mackworth's recent novel, 'The Big Drum,' lends additional
interest to the announcement of his forthcoming marriage to the
beautiful Madame de Chaumié--" [_The bell rings. He listens to it, and
then goes on reading._] "--the beautiful Madame de Chaumié, daughter of
the widely and deservedly popular--the widely and deservedly popular
Sir Randle and Lady Filson----"

               [_After reading it to the end silently, he restores the
               paper to_ SIR RANDLE _with a smile and a slight bow._

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Collecting himself._] Er--Lady Filson and I thought it might be
prudent, Philip, to--er--to give a lead to the inevitable comments of
the press. [_Replacing the paper in his pocket-book._] If you object,
my dear boy----

                              PHILIP.

[_With a motion of the head towards the vestibule door._] That must
_be_ Lady Filson and Ottoline.

               [_He goes to the door and opens it._ LADY FILSON _and_
               OTTOLINE _are in the vestibule and_ JOHN _is taking_
               LADY FILSON's _wrap from her._

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Brimming over with good humour._] Ah, Philip! Don't say we're
late!

                              PHILIP.

[_Lightly._] I won't.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Entering and shaking hands with him._] Your staircase is so dark, it
takes an age to climb it. [_To_ ROOPE, _who comes forward, shaking
hands with him._] How nice! Ottoline told me, coming along, that we
were to meet you.

                              ROOPE.

[_Bending over her hand._] Dear lady!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Coming to_ SIR RANDLE.] There you are, Randle! [_Nodding to_ BERTRAM,
_who is sitting aloof in the chair on the extreme left._] Bertie
darling! [SIR RANDLE _rises._] Aren't these rooms quaint and cosy,
Randle?

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Still somewhat disconcerted._] For a solitary man, ideal. [_Solemnly._]
If ever I had the misfortune to be left alone in the world----

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Sitting on the settee on the right._] Ho, my _dear_!

               [PHILIP _has joined_ OTTOLINE _in the vestibule. He now
               follows her into the room, shutting the vestibule door.
               She is elegantly dressed in white and, though she has
               recovered her usual stateliness and composure, is a
               picture of radiant happiness._

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Giving her hand to_ ROOPE, _who raises it to his lips--sweetly._] I
am glad you are home, Robbie, and that you are here to-night. [_To_
LADY FILSON _and_ SIR RANDLE.] Mother--Dad--[_espying_ BERTRAM] oh, and
there's Bertram--don't be scandalized, any of you! [_To_ ROOPE,
_resting her hands on his shoulders._] _Une fois de plus, mon ami, pour
vous témoigner ma gratitude!_

               [_She kisses him._ LADY FILSON _laughs indulgently, and_
               SIR RANDLE, _wagging his head, moves to the fireplace._

                              ROOPE.

Ha, ha, ha----!

                              OTTOLINE.

Ha, ha, ha! [_Going to the fireplace._] Ah, what a lovely fire! [_To_
SIR RANDLE, _as_ ROOPE _seats himself in the chair by the smoking-table
and prepares to make himself agreeable to_ LADY FILSON.] Share it with
me, Dad, and let me warm my toes before dinner. I'm frozen!

                              PHILIP.

[_Coming to the middle of the room._] My dear Ottoline--Lady
Filson--Sir Randle--I fear we shall _all_ have time to warm our toes
before dinner. [ROOPE, _who is about to address a remark to_ LADY
FILSON, _puts his hand to his mouth, and_ SIR RANDLE _and_ LADY FILSON
_look at_ PHILIP _inquiringly._] You mustn't blame me wholly for the
hitch in my poor entertainment----

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Amiably._] The kitchen! I guess your difficulties, Philip----

                              PHILIP.

No, nor my kitchen either----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Turning the chair on the nearer side of the fireplace so that it
faces the fire._] The cook wasn't punctual! [_Installing herself in the
chair._] _Ah, la, la! Ces cuisinières causent la moitié des ennuis sur
cette terre!_

                              PHILIP.

Oh, yes, the cook was punctual. [_His manner hardening a little._] The
truth is, we are waiting for a Mr. Dunning.

                              LADY FILSON.

Mr.----?

                              SIR RANDLE.

Mr.----?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_From her chair, where she is almost completely hidden from the
others--comfortably._] Good gracious! Who's Mr. Dunning, Philip?

               [JOHN _and the waiter open the big doors. The
               dining-table, round which the chairs are now arranged,
               is prettily lighted by shaded candles._

                              PHILIP.

[_To_ JOHN, _sharply._] John----

                              JOHN.

Yessir?

                              PHILIP.

Tell the cook to keep the dinner back for a little while. Do you hear?

                              JOHN.

[_Astonished._] Keep dinner back, sir?

                              PHILIP.

Yes. And when Mr. Dunning calls--[_distinctly_] Dunning----

                              JOHN.

Yessir.

                              PHILIP.

I'll see him. Show him in.

                              JOHN.

Yessir.

                              PHILIP.

You may serve dinner as soon as he's gone. I'll ring.

               [JOHN _and the waiter withdraw into the kitchen,
               whereupon_ PHILIP, _after watching their departure,
               deliberately closes the big doors._ ROOPE, _who has been
               picking at his nails nervously, rises and steals away to
               the left, and_ SIR RANDLE, _advancing a step or two,
               exchanges questioning glances with_ LADY FILSON.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Laughingly._] What a terrible shock! I was frightened that Philip had
sprung a strange guest upon us. [_As_ PHILIP _is shutting the doors._]
_Vous êtes bien mystérieux, Phil?_ Why are we to starve until this Mr.
Dunning has come and gone?

                              PHILIP.

Because if I tried to eat without having first disposed of the reptile,
Otto, I should choke.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Bewildered._] Reptile?

                              OTTOLINE.

Philip!

                              PHILIP.

[_At the chair beside the smoking-table--to_ LADY FILSON.] I apologize
very humbly for making you and Sir Randle, and dear Ottoline, parties
to such unpleasant proceedings, Lady Filson; but the necessity is
forced upon me. [_Coming forward._] Mr. Dunning is one of those
crawling creatures who conduct what are known as confidential
inquiries. In other words, he's a private detective--an odd sort of
person to present to you!----

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Under her breath._] Great heavens!

                              PHILIP.

And he has lightened your son's purse, presumably, and crammed his
willing ears with some ridiculous, fantastic tale concerning my
book--"The Big Drum." Mr. Dunning professes to have discovered that I
have conspired with a wicked publisher to deceive you all; that the
book's another of my miss-hits, and that I'm a designing rogue and
liar. [_To_ BERTRAM.] Come on, Bertram; don't sit there as if you were
a stuffed figure! Speak out, and tell your father and mother what
you've been up to!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Open-mouthed._] Bertie!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Moving towards_ BERTRAM, _mildly._] Bertram, my
boy----?

                              BERTRAM.

[_Curling his lip--to_ PHILIP.] Oh, you seem to be getting on
exceedingly well without my assistance, Mackworth. I'm content to hold
my tongue till Dunning arrives, I mean t'say.

                              PHILIP.

[_Approaching_ LADY FILSON.] You see, Lady Filson, Master Bertram is
endowed with an exceptionally active brain; and when I gave those
assurances to you and Sir Randle last June, it occurred to him that, in
the event of my book failing to attract the market, there was a danger
of my palming it off, with the kind aid of my publisher, as the
out-and-out triumph I'd bragged of in advance; and the loud blasts of
Titterton's trumpet strengthened Master Bertie's apprehensions.
[OTTOLINE, _unobserved, rises unsteadily and, with her eyes fixed
fiercely upon_ BERTRAM, _crosses the room at the back._] So what does
he do, bless him for his devotion to his belongings! To safeguard his
parents from being jockeyed, and as a brotherly precaution, he enlists
the services, on the sly, of the obliging Mr. Dunning. We shall shortly
have an opportunity of judging what that individual's game is. [_With a
shrug._] He _may_ have stumbled legitimately into a mare's nest; but I
doubt it. These ruffians'll stick at nothing to keep an ingenuous
client on the hook--[_He is interrupted by feeling_ OTTOLINE's _hand
upon his arm. He lays his hand on hers gently._] Otto dear----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Clutching him tightly and articulating with an effort._] It--it's
infamous--shameful! My--my brother! It's infamous!

                              PHILIP.

Oh, it'll be all over in ten minutes. And then Bertie and I will shake
hands--won't we, Bertie?--and forget the wretched incident----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Confronting_ BERTRAM, _trembling with passion._] How dare you! How
dare you meddle with my affairs--mine and Mr. Mackworth's! How dare
you!

                              BERTRAM.

[_Straightening himself._] Look heah, Ottoline----!

                              OTTOLINE.

Stand up when I speak to you!

               [BERTRAM _gets to his feet in a hurry._

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Appealingly._] Otto----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_To_ BERTRAM.] All your life you've been paltry, odious, detestable----

                              BERTRAM.

Look heah----!

                              OTTOLINE.

But _this_! My God! For you--for any of us--to impugn the honesty of a
man whose shadow we're not fit to walk in----!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ LADY FILSON_--pained._] Winifred----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_To_ BERTRAM.] You--you--you're no better than your common, hired
spy----!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Rising and going to_ OTTOLINE.] My child, remember----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Clenching her hands and hissing her words at_ BERTRAM.] _C'est la
vérité! Tu n'es qu'une canaille--une vile canaille----!_

                              LADY FILSON.

Control yourself, I _beg_!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_To_ LADY FILSON.] Leave me alone----!

               [_She passes_ LADY FILSON _and sits on the settee on the
               right with glittering eyes and heaving bosom._ PHILIP
               _has withdrawn to the fireplace and is standing looking
               into the fire._

                              LADY FILSON.

[_To_ BERTRAM.] Bertie dear, I'm surprised at you! To do a thing like
this behind our backs!

                              BERTRAM.

My dear mother, I knew that you and father wouldn't do it----

                              LADY FILSON.

I should think not, indeed!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ BERTRAM.] Your mother and I!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Horrified at the notion._] Oh!

                              BERTRAM.

Upon my word, this is rather rough! [_Walking away._] I mean to
_say_----!

                              PHILIP.

[_Turning._] We mustn't be too hard on poor Bertram, Lady Filson----

                              BERTRAM.

[_Pacing the room near the big doors._] Poor Bertram! Ho!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ PHILIP.] I trust we are never unduly hard on our children, my
dear Philip----

                              PHILIP.

To do him justice, he was most anxious to postpone these dreadful
revelations till to-morrow----

                              BERTRAM.

Exactly! [_Throwing himself into the chair between the big doors and
the vestibule door._] I predicted a scene! I predicted a scene!

                              PHILIP.

[_To_ SIR RANDLE _and_ LADY FILSON, _penitently._] Perhaps it would
have been wiser of me--more considerate--to have complied with his
wishes. But I was in a fury--naturally----

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Sitting on the settee on the left._] Naturally.

                              SIR RANDLE.

And excusably. I myself, in similar circumstances----

                              PHILIP.

[_Rubbing his head._] Why the deuce couldn't he have kept his twopenny
thunderbolt in his pocket for a few hours, instead of launching it
to-night and spoiling our _sole à la Morny_ and our _ris de veau_----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Gradually composing herself and regaining her dignity_].
P-P-Philip----

                              PHILIP.

[_Coming to the smoking-table._] Eh?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Passing her handkerchief over her lips._] Need you--need you see this
man to-night? Can't you stop him coming--or send him away?

                              PHILIP.

Not see him----?

                              OTTOLINE.

Why--why should you stoop to see him at all? Why shouldn't the matter
be allowed to drop--to drop?

                              PHILIP.

Drop!

                              OTTOLINE.

It--it's too monstrous; too absurd. [_To_ BERTRAM, _with a laugh._] Ha,
ha, ha! Bertie--Bertie dear----

                              BERTRAM.

[_Sullenly._] Yes?

                              OTTOLINE.

Ha, ha! I almost scared you out of your wits, didn't I?

                              BERTRAM.

You've behaved excessively rudely----

                              LADY FILSON.

Bertram--Bertram----

                              BERTRAM.

I mean to _say_, mother! What becomes of family loyalty----?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_To_ BERTRAM, _coaxingly._] Forgive me, Bertram. I'm ashamed of my
violent outburst. Forgive me----

                              ROOPE.

[_Who has been effacing himself behind the table on the left, appearing
at the nearer end of the table._] Er--dear excellent friends--[SIR
RANDLE _and_ LADY FILSON _look at_ ROOPE _as if he had fallen from the
skies, and_ BERTRAM _stares at him resentfully._] dear excellent
friends, if I may be permitted to make an observation----

                              PHILIP.

[_To_ ROOPE.] Go ahead, old man.

                              ROOPE.

In my opinion, it would be a thousand pities not to see Mr. Dunning
to-night, and have done with him. [_Cheerfully._] The fish is
ruined--we must resign ourselves to that; [_sitting in the chair on the
extreme left_] but the other dishes, if the cook is fairly
competent----

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Advancing._] Mr. Roope's opinion is my opinion also. [_Ponderously._]
As to whether Lady Filson and my daughter should withdraw into an
adjoining room----

                              LADY FILSON.

_I_ feel with Philip; we couldn't sit down to dinner with this cloud
hanging over us----

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Sitting in the chair by the smoking-table._] Impossible! I must be
frank. Impossible!

                              ROOPE.

Dear Madame de Chaumié will pardon me for differing with her, but you
can't very well ignore even a fellow of this stamp--[_glancing at_
BERTRAM] especially, if I understand aright, my excellent friend over
there still persists----

                              BERTRAM.

[_Morosely._] Yes, you do understand aright, Roope. I've every
confidence in Dunning, I mean t'say----

                              PHILIP.

[_Turning away, angrily._] Oh----!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Severely._] Bertie----!

                              SIR RANDLE.

Bertram, my _boy_----!

               [_The bell rings. There is a short silence, and then_
               BERTRAM _rises and pulls down his waistcoat
               portentously._

                              BERTRAM.

Here he is.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_To_ LADY FILSON, _in a low voice._] Mother----?

                              LADY FILSON.

[_To_ PHILIP.] Do _you_ wish us to withdraw, Philip?

                              PHILIP.

[_Sitting at the writing-table._] Not at all, Lady Filson. [_Switching
on the light of the library-lamp, sternly._] On the contrary, I should
like you both to remain.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_To_ OTTOLINE.] Otto dear----?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Adjusting a comb in her hair._] Oh, certainly, mother, I'll stay.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Arranging her skirt and settling herself majestically._] Of this we
may be perfectly sure; when my son finds that he has been misled,
purposely or unintentionally, he will be only too ready--_too_
ready----

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Leaning back in his chair and closing his eyes._] That goes without
saying, Winifred. A gentleman--an English gentleman----

                              BERTRAM.

[_Who is watching the vestibule door--over his shoulder, snappishly._]
Oh, of course, father, if it turns out that I've been sold, I'll eat
humble-pie abjectly.

                              ROOPE.

[_Shaking a finger at_ BERTRAM.] Ha, ha! I hope you've brought a
voracious appetite with you, dear excellent friend.

                              BERTRAM.

[_To_ ROOPE, _exasperated._] Look heah, Mr. Roope----!

               [_The vestibule door opens and_ JOHN _announces_
               DUNNING.

                              JOHN.

Mr. Dunning.

               [DUNNING _enters and_ JOHN _retires._ MR. ALFRED DUNNING
               _is a spruce, middle-aged, shrewd-faced man with an
               affable but rather curt manner. He is in his hat and
               overcoat._

                              DUNNING.

[_To_ BERTRAM.] Haven't kept you long, have I? I just had a cup o'
cocoa--[_He checks himself on seeing so large an assembly, removes his
hat, and includes everybody in a summary bow._] Evening.

                              BERTRAM.

[_To_ DUNNING.] Larger gathering than you expected. [_Indicating the
various personages by a glance._] Sir Randle and Lady Filson--my father
and mother----

                              DUNNING.

[_To_ SIR RANDLE _and_ LADY FILSON.] Evening.

                              BERTRAM.

My sister, Madame de Chaumié----

                              DUNNING.

[_To_ OTTOLINE.] Evening.

                              BERTRAM.

Mr. Roope--Mr. Mackworth----

                              DUNNING.

[_To them._] Evening.

               [SIR RANDLE, LADY FILSON, _and_ ROOPE, _looking at_
               DUNNING _out of the corners of their eyes, acknowledge
               the introduction by a slight movement._ PHILIP _nods
               unpleasantly._ OTTOLINE, _with a stony countenance, also
               eyes_ DUNNING _askance, and gives the barest possible
               inclination of her head on being named._

                              BERTRAM.

[_Bringing forward the chair on which he has been sitting and planting
it nearer to_ SIR RANDLE _and_ LADY FILSON--_to_ DUNNING.] I suppose
you may----

                              DUNNING.

[_Taking off his gloves and overcoat--to_ PHILIP.] D'ye mind if I slip
my coat off, Mr. Mackworth?

                              PHILIP.

[_Growling._] No.

                              DUNNING.

Don't want to get overheated, and catch the flue. I've got Mrs. D. in
bed with a bad cold, as it is.

                              BERTRAM.

[_To_ DUNNING.] Now then, Mr. Dunning! I'll trouble you to give us an
account of your operations in this business from the outset----

                              DUNNING.

[_Hanging his coat over the back of the chair._] Pleasure.

                              BERTRAM.

The business of Mr. Mackworth's new book, I mean t'say.

                              DUNNING.

[_Sitting and placing his hat on the floor._] Pleasure.

                              BERTRAM.

Middle of October, wasn't it, when I----?

                              DUNNING.

Later. [_Producing a dog's-eared little memorandum-book and turning its
leaves with a moistened thumb._] Here we are--the twenty-fourth. [_To
everybody, referring to his notes as he proceeds--glibly._] Mr. Filson
called on me and Mr. Sillitoe, ladies and gentlemen, on the
twenty-fourth of last month with reference to a book by Mr. P.
Mackworth--"The Big Drum"--published September the second, and drew our
attention to the advertisements of Mr. Mackworth's publisher--Mr.
Clifford Titterton, of Charles Street, Adelphi--relating to the same.
Mr. F. having made us acquainted with the special circumstances of the
case, and furnished us with his reasons for doubting Titterton's
flowery statements, [_wetting his thumb again and turning to the next
leaf of his note-book_] on the following day, the twenty-fifth, I
purchased a copy of the said book at Messrs. Blake and Hodgson's in the
Strand, Mr. Hodgson himself informing me in the course of conversation
that, as far as his firm was concerned, the book wasn't doing anything
out of the ordinary. [_Repeating the thumb process._] I then proceeded
to pump one of the gals--er--to interrogate one of the assistants--at a
circulating library Mrs. D. subscribes to, with a similar result.
[_Turning to the next leaf._] My next step----

                              SIR RANDLE.

I wonder whether these elaborate preliminaries----?

                              BERTRAM.

Oh, don't interrupt, father! I mean to _say_----!

                              DUNNING.

[_Imperturbably._] My next step was to place the book in the hands of a
lady whose liter'y judgment is a great deal sounder than mine _or_ Mr.
Sillitoe's--I allude to Mrs. D.--and her report was that, though
amusing in parts, she didn't see anything in it to set the Thames on
fire.

                              PHILIP.

[_Laughing in spite of himself._] Ha, ha, ha!

                              ROOPE.

Ha, ha! [_To_ PHILIP, _with mock sympathy._] Dear excellent friend!

                              BERTRAM.

[_To_ ROOPE.] Yes, all right, Mr. Roope----!

                              DUNNING.

[_Turning to the next leaf._] I and Mr. Sillitoe then had another
confab--er--consultation with Mr. Filson, and we pointed out to him
that it was up to his father and mother to challenge Titterton's
assertions and invite proof of their accuracy.

                              ROOPE.

[_Quietly._] Obviously!

                              DUNNING.

Mr. F., however, giving us to understand that he was acting solely on
his own, and that he wished the investigation kept from his family, we
proposed a different plan----

                              BERTRAM.

To which I reluctantly assented.

                              DUNNING.

To get hold of somebody in Titterton's office--one of his employees,
male or female----

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Shocked._] Oh! Oh, Bertie!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Rising, with a gesture of disgust._] Ah----!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ BERTRAM.] Really! Really, Bertram----!

               [_Seeing_ OTTOLINE _rise,_ PHILIP _also rises and comes
               to her._

                              LADY FILSON.

That a son of mine should countenance----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Panting._] Oh, but this is--this is outrageous! [_To_ SIR RANDLE
_and_ LADY FILSON.] Dad--mother--why should we degrade ourselves by
listening any further? [_To_ PHILIP.] Philip----!

                              PHILIP.

[_Patting her shoulder soothingly._] Tsch, tsch, tsch----!

                              BERTRAM.

[_To_ LADY FILSON _and_ SIR RANDLE.] My dear mother--my dear
father--you're so impatient!

                              PHILIP.

[_To_ OTTOLINE.] Tsch, tsch! Go back to the fire and toast your toes
again.

                              BERTRAM.

I consider I was fully justified, I mean t'say----

               [_Falteringly_ OTTOLINE _returns to the fireplace. She
               stands there for a few seconds, clutching the
               mantel-shelf, and then subsides into the chair before
               the fire._ PHILIP _advances to the settee on the right._

                              PHILIP.

[_To_ DUNNING.] Sorry we have checked your flow of eloquence, Mr.
Dunning, even for a moment. [_Sitting._] I wouldn't miss a syllable of
it. [_Airily._] Do, please, continue.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Looking at his watch._] My dear Philip----!

                              BERTRAM.

[_To_ DUNNING, _wearily._] Oh, come to the man--what's his name,
Dunning?--Merryweather----!

                              DUNNING.

[_Turning several pages of his note-book with his wet thumb._]
Merrifield.

                              BERTRAM.

Merrifield. [_Passing behind_ DUNNING _and half-seating himself on the
further end of the table on the left._] Skip everything in between;
[_sarcastically_] my father and mother are dying for their dinner.

                              LADY FILSON.

Bertram!

                              DUNNING.

[_Finding the memorandum he is searching for, and quoting from it._]
Henry Merrifield--entry clerk to Titterton--left Titterton, after a
row, on the fifteenth of the present month----

                              BERTRAM.

A stroke of luck--Mr. Merrifield--if ever there was one! I mean
t'say----

                              DUNNING.

[_To everybody._] Having gleaned certain significant facts from the
said Henry Merrifield, ladies and gentlemen, [_referring to his notes_]
I paid two visits last week to the offices of Messrs. Hopwood & Co., of
6, Carmichael Lane, Walbrook, described in fresh paint on their door as
Shipping and General Agents; and the conclusion I arrived at was that
Messrs. Hopwood & Co. were a myth and their offices a blind, the latter
consisting of a small room on the ground floor, eight foot by twelve,
and their staff of the caretakers of the premises--Mr. and Mrs.
Sweasy--an old woman and her husband----

                              ROOPE.

[_To_ DUNNING.] If I may venture to interpose again, what on earth have
Messrs. Hopwood----?

                              SIR RANDLE.

Yes, what have Messrs. Hopwood----?

                              BERTRAM.

[_Over his shoulder._] Ho! What have Messrs. Hopwood----!

                              ROOPE.

[_To_ BERTRAM, _pointing to_ DUNNING.] I am addressing _this_
gentleman, dear excellent friend----

                              DUNNING.

[_To_ ROOPE.] I'll tell you, sir. [_Incisively._] It's to the bogus
firm of Hopwood & Co. that the bulk of the volumes of Mr. Mackworth's
new book have been consigned.

                              BERTRAM.

[_Getting off the table, eagerly._] Dunning has seen them, I mean
t'say----

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ BERTRAM, _startled._] Be silent, Bertie!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_To_ BERTRAM, _holding her breath._] Do be quiet!

                              ROOPE.

[_Blankly._] The--the bulk of the volumes----?

                              PHILIP.

[_Staring at_ DUNNING.] The--the bulk of the----?

                              DUNNING.

[_To_ SIR RANDLE _and_ ROOPE.] Yes, gentlemen, the books are in a
mouldy cellar, also rented by Messrs. Hopwood, at 6, Carmichael Lane.
There's thousands of them there, in cases--some of the cases with
shipping marks on them, some marked for inland delivery. I've inspected
them this afternoon--overhauled them. Mr. Sweasy had gone over to the
Borough to see his married niece, and I managed to get the right side
of _Mrs._ S.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Softly, looking from one to the other._] Curious! Curious!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Forcing a smile._] How--how strange!

                              ROOPE.

[_To_ LADY FILSON, _a little disturbed._] Why strange, dear Lady
Filson? Shipping and other marks on the cases! These people are
forwarding agents----

                              DUNNING.

[_Showing his teeth._] Nobody makes the least effort to _despatch_ the
cases, though. That's singular, isn't it?

                              ROOPE.

But----!

                              DUNNING.

[_To_ ROOPE.] My good sir, in the whole of our experience--mine and Mr.
Sillitoe's--we've never come across a neater bit of hankey-pankey--[_to_
PHILIP] no offence--and if Merrifield hadn't smelt a rat----

                              ROOPE.

But--but--but--the cost of it all, my dear Mr. Dunning! I don't know
much about these things--the expense of manufacturing many thousands of
copies of Mr. Mackworth's new book----!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Alertly._] Quite so! Surely, if we were to be deceived, a simpler
method could have been found----?

                              ROOPE.

[_With energy._] Besides, what has Mr. Titterton to gain by the
deception?

                              SIR RANDLE.

True! True! What has _he_ to gain----?

                              PHILIP.

[_Who is sitting with his hands hanging loosely, utterly
bewildered--rousing himself._] Good God, yes! What has Titterton to
gain by joining me in a blackguardly scheme to--to--to----?

                              DUNNING.

[_To_ SIR RANDLE _and_ ROOPE.] Well, gentlemen, in the first place,
it's plain that Titterton was too fly to risk being easily blown
upon----

                              BERTRAM.

He was prepared to prove that the books _have been_ manufactured and
delivered, I mean t'say----

                              DUNNING.

And in the second place, on the question of expense, the speculation
was a tolerably safe one.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Keenly._] Speculation?

                              DUNNING.

Madarme dee Showmeeay being, according to my instructions--[_to_ LADY
FILSON, _after a glance in_ OTTOLINE_'s direction_] no offence,
ladies--[_to_ SIR RANDLE _and_ ROOPE] Madarme dee Showmeeay being what
is usually termed a catch, Mr. Mackworth would have been in a position,
after his marriage, to reimburse Titterton----

               [PHILIP _starts to his feet with a cry of rage._

                              PHILIP.

Oh----!

                              ROOPE.

[_Jumping up and hurrying to_ PHILIP_--pacifying him._] My dear
Phil--my _dear_ old chap----

                              PHILIP.

[_Grasping_ ROOPE_'s arm._] Robbie----!

               [SIR RANDLE _rises and goes to_ LADY FILSON. _She also
               rises as he approaches her. They gaze at each other with
               expressionless faces._

                              ROOPE.

[_To_ PHILIP.] Where does Titterton live?

                              PHILIP.

Gordon Square.

                              ROOPE.

[_Pointing to the telephone._] Telephone--have him round----

                              PHILIP.

He's not in London.

                              ROOPE.

Not----?

                              PHILIP.

He's gone to the Riviera--left this morning. [_Crossing to_ SIR RANDLE
_and_ LADY FILSON_--appealingly._] Lady Filson--Sir Randle--_you_ don't
believe that Titterton and I could be guilty of such an arrant piece of
knavery, do you? Ho, ho, ho! It's preposterous.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Constrainedly._] Frankly--I must be frank--I hardly know _what_ to
believe.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Pursing her mouth._] We--we hardly know _what_ to believe.

                              PHILIP.

[_Leaving them._] Ah----!

                              ROOPE.

[_Who has dropped into the chair by the smoking-table--to_ SIR RANDLE.]
Sir Randle--dear excellent friend--let us meet Mr. Dunning to-morrow at
Messrs. Hopwood's in Carmichael Lane--we three--you and I and
Mackworth----

                              PHILIP.

[_Pacing up and down between the table on the left and the bookcase._]
Yes, yes--before I wire to Titterton--or see Curtis, his manager----

                              ROOPE.

[_Over his shoulder, to_ DUNNING.] Hey, Mr. Dunning?

                              DUNNING.

Pleasure.

               [_While this has been going on,_ DUNNING _has put his
               note-book away and risen, gathering up his hat and
               overcoat as he does so._ BERTRAM _is now assisting him
               into his coat._

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Advancing a step or two._] At what hour----?

                              DUNNING.

[_Briskly._] Ten-thirty suit you, gentlemen?

                              SIR RANDLE, PHILIP, _and_ ROOPE.

[_Together._] Half-past-ten.

                              ROOPE.

[_Scribbling with a pocket-pencil on his shirt-cuff._] 6, Carmichael
Lane, Walbrook----

                              DUNNING.

[_Pulling down his under-coat._] I'll be there.

                              ROOPE.

[_Lowering his hands suddenly and leaning back in his chair, as if
about to administer a poser._] By the way, Mr. Dunning, you tell us you
have a strong conviction that Messrs. Hopwood & Co. are a myth, and
their offices a sham--[_caustically_] may I ask whether you've tried to
ascertain who _is_ the actual tenant of the room and cellar in
Carmichael Lane?

                              BERTRAM.

[_Sniggering._] Why, Titterton, of course. I mean to _say_----!

                              ROOPE.

[_Waving_ BERTRAM _down._] Dear excellent friend----!

                              DUNNING.

[_Taking up his hat, which he has laid upon the smoking-table--to_
ROOPE, _with a satisfied air._] Mr. Sillitoe's got that in hand, sir.
What I _have_ ascertained is that a young feller strolls in
occasionally and smokes a cigarette----

                              BERTRAM.

And pokes about in the cellar----

                              DUNNING.

_Calls_ himself Hopwood. But the name written on the lining of his
hat--[_to_ BERTRAM, _carelessly_] oh, I forgot to mention this to you,
Mr. Filson. [_Producing his memorandum-book again._] Old mother Sweasy
was examining the young man's outdoor apparel the other day. [_Turning
the pages with his wet thumb._] The name on the lining of his hat
is--[_finding the entry_] is "Westrip." "Leonard Westrip."

                              BERTRAM.

Westrip?

                              SIR RANDLE.

Leonard--Westrip?

                              LADY FILSON.

Mr. Westrip!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ DUNNING, _blinking._] Mr. Westrip is my secretary.

                              BERTRAM.

[_To_ DUNNING, _agape._] He's my father's secretary.

                              DUNNING.

[_To_ SIR RANDLE.] Your seckert'ry?

                              PHILIP.

[_Coming to the nearer end of the settee on the left._] The--the--the
fair boy I've seen in Ennismore Gardens!

                              ROOPE.

[_Rising and joining_ SIR RANDLE _and_ LADY FILSON_--expressing his
amazement by flourishing his arms._] Oh, my dear excellent friends----!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_To_ SIR RANDLE.] Randle--what--what next----!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Closing his eyes._] Astounding! Astounding!

                              DUNNING.

[_Looking about him, rather aggressively._] Well, I seem to have
accidentally dropped a bombshell among you! Will any lady or gentleman
kindly oblige with some particulars----? [_To_ OTTOLINE, _who checks
him with an imperious gesture--changing his tone._] I beg your pardon,
madarme----

               [OTTOLINE _has left her chair and come to the
               writing-table, where, with a drawn face and downcast
               eyes, she is now standing erect._

                              OTTOLINE.

[_To_ DUNNING, _repeating her gesture._] Stop! [_To_ LADY FILSON _and_
SIR RANDLE, _in a strained voice._] Mother--Dad----

               [_Everybody looks at her, surprised at her manner._

                              LADY FILSON.

Otto dear----?

                              OTTOLINE.

I--I can't allow you all to be mystified any longer. I--I can clear
this matter up.

                              SIR RANDLE.

You, my darling?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Steadying herself by resting her finger-tips upon the table._]
The--the explanation is that Mr. Westrip--[_with a wan smile_] poor
boy--he would jump into the sea for me if I bade him--the explanation
is that Mr. Westrip has been--helping me----

                              LADY FILSON.

_Helping_ you----?

                              SIR RANDLE.

Helping _you_----?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Inclining her head._] Helping me. He--he---- [_Raising her eyes
defiantly and confronting them all._] _Écoutez!_ Robbie Roope has asked
who is the actual tenant of the cellar and room in Carmichael Lane.
[_Breathing deeply._] _I_ am.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Advancing a few steps._] _You_ are! N-n-nonsense!

                              OTTOLINE.

Mr. Westrip took the place for me--my arrangement with Titterton made
it necessary----

                              LADY FILSON.

With Titterton! Then he--he _has_----?

                              OTTOLINE.

Yes. The thousands of copies--packed in the cases with the lying
labels--_I_ have bought them--they're mine----

                              LADY FILSON.

Y-y-yours!

                              OTTOLINE.

I--I was afraid the book had failed--and I went to Titterton--and
bargained with him----

                              LADY FILSON.

So--so everything--everything that your brother and Mr.--Mr. Dunning
have surmised----?

                              OTTOLINE.

Everything, mother--except that I am the culprit, and Mr. Mackworth is
the victim.

                              LADY FILSON.

Ottoline----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Passing her hand over her brow._] It--it's horrible of me to give
Titterton away--but--what can I do?--[_She turns her back upon them
sharply and, leaning against the table, searches for her
handkerchief._] Oh! Need Mr. Dunning stay----?

               [BERTRAM, _aghast, nudges_ DUNNING _and hurries to the
               vestibule door._ DUNNING _follows him into the vestibule
               on tiptoe. Slowly and deliberately_ PHILIP _moves to the
               middle of the room and stands there with his hands
               clenched, glaring into space._ SIR RANDLE, _his jaw
               falling, sits in the chair on the extreme left._

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Touching_ PHILIP_'s arm sympathetically._] Oh, Philip----!

                              DUNNING.

[_To_ BERTRAM, _in a whisper._] Phiou! Rummy development this, Mr.
Filson!

                              BERTRAM.

[_To_ DUNNING, _in the same way._] Awful. [_Opening the outer door._]
I--I'll see you in the m-m-morning.

                              DUNNING.

Pleasure. [_Raising his voice._] Evening, ladies and gentlemen.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Again sitting on the settee on the left, also searching for her
handkerchief._] G-g-good night.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Weakly._] Good night.

                              ROOPE.

[_Who has wandered to the bookcase like a man in a trance._] Good
night.

               [DUNNING _disappears, and_ BERTRAM _closes the outer
               door and comes back into the room. Shutting the
               vestibule door, he sinks into the chair lately vacated
               by_ DUNNING. _There is a silence, broken at length by a
               low, grating laugh from_ PHILIP.

                              PHILIP.

Ha, ha, ha, ha! Ha, ha, ha----!

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Dolefully._] Oh, Ottoline--Ottoline----!

                              PHILIP.

Ha, ha, ha----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Creeping to the nearer end of the writing-table._] H'ssh! H'ssh!
Philip--Philip----!

                              PHILIP.

[_Loudly._] Ho, ho, ho----!

                              OTTOLINE.

Don't! don't! [_Making a movement of entreaty towards him._]
Phil--Phil----!

               [_His laughter ceases abruptly and he looks her full in
               the face._

                              PHILIP.

[_After a moment's pause, bitingly._] Thank you--thank you--[_turning
from her and seating himself in the chair by the smoking-table and
resting his chin on his fist_] thank you.

               [_Again there is a pause, and then_ OTTOLINE _draws
               herself up proudly and moves in a stately fashion
               towards the vestibule door._

                              OTTOLINE.

[_At_ BERTRAM_'s side._] Bertram--my cloak----

               [BERTRAM _rises meekly and fetches her cloak._

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_Getting to his feet and approaching_ PHILIP_--mournfully._] Your
mother's wrap, also, Bertram.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Rising._] Yes, let us all go home.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ PHILIP, _laying a hand on his shoulder._] My daughter has brought
great humiliation upon us--upon her family, my dear Philip--by this--I
must be harsh--by this unladylike transaction----

                              LADY FILSON.

I have never felt so ashamed in my life!

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_To_ PHILIP.] By-and-by I shall be better able to command language in
which to express my profound regret. [_Offering his hand._] For the
present--good night, and God bless you!

                              PHILIP.

[_Shaking_ SIR RANDLE_'s hand mechanically._] Good night.

               [_As_ SIR RANDLE _turns away,_ LADY FILSON _comes to_
               PHILIP. BERTRAM, _having helped_ OTTOLINE _with her
               cloak, now brings_ LADY FILSON_'s wrap from the
               vestibule._ SIR RANDLE _takes it from him, and_ BERTRAM
               _then returns to the vestibule and puts on his
               overcoat._

                              LADY FILSON.

[_To_ PHILIP, _who rises._] You must have us to dinner another time,
Philip. If I eat a crust to-night it will be as much as I shall manage.
[_Speaking lower, with genuine feeling._] Oh, my dear boy, don't be too
cast down--over your clever book, I mean! [_Taking him by the
shoulders._] It's a cruel disappointment for you--and you don't deserve
it. May I----? [_She pulls him to her and kisses him._] Good night.

                              PHILIP.

[_Gratefully._] Good night.

               [LADY FILSON _leaves_ PHILIP _and looks about for her
               wrap._ SIR RANDLE _puts her into it and then goes into
               the vestibule and wrestles with his overcoat._

                              BERTRAM.

[_Coming to_ PHILIP, _humbly._] M--M--Mackworth--I--I----

                              PHILIP.

[_Kindly._] No, no; don't you bother, old man----

                              BERTRAM.

I--I could kick myself, Mackworth, I could indeed. I've been a sneak
and a cad, I mean t'say, and--and I'm properly paid out----

                              PHILIP.

[_Shaking him gently._] Why, what are you remorseful for? You've only
brought out the truth, Bertie----

                              BERTRAM.

Yes, but I mean to _say_----!

                              PHILIP.

And _I_ mean to say that I'm in your debt for showing me that I've been
a vain, credulous ass. Now be off and get some food. [_Holding out his
hand._] Good night.

                              BERTRAM.

[_Wringing_ PHILIP_'s hand._] Good night, Mackworth. [_Turning from_
PHILIP _and seeing_ ROOPE, _who, anxiously following events, is
standing by the chair on the extreme left._] Good night, Roope.

                              ROOPE.

G-g-good night.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_Half in the room and half in the vestibule--to_ ROOPE, _remembering
his existence._] Oh, good night, Mr. Roope!

                              ROOPE.

Good night, dear Lady Filson.

                              SIR RANDLE.

[_In the vestibule._] Good night, Mr. Roope.

                              ROOPE.

Good night. Good night, dear excellent friends.

                              LADY FILSON.

[_To_ OTTOLINE, _who is lingering by the big doors._] Ottoline----

               [LADY FILSON _and_ BERTRAM _join_ SIR RANDLE _in the
               vestibule and_ SIR RANDLE _opens the outer door._
               PHILIP, _his hands behind him and his chin on his
               breast, has walked to the fireplace and is standing
               there looking fixedly into the fire._ OTTOLINE _slowly
               comes forward and fingers the back of the chair by the
               smoking-table._

                              OTTOLINE.

Good night, Philip.

               [_He turns to her, makes her a stiff, formal bow, and
               faces the fire again._

                              ROOPE.

[_Advancing to her--under his breath._] Oh----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Giving him her hand._] Ah! [_With a plaintive shrug._] _Vous voyez!
C'est fini après tout!_

                              ROOPE.

No, no----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Withdrawing her hand._] Pst! [_Throwing her head up._] Good night,
Robbie.

               [_With a queenly air she sweeps into the vestibule and
               follows_ SIR RANDLE _and_ LADY FILSON _out on to the
               landing._ BERTRAM _closes the vestibule door, and
               immediately afterwards the outer door slams._

                              ROOPE.

[_To_ PHILIP, _in an agony._] No, no, Phil! It mustn't end like this!
Good lord, man, reflect--consider what you're chucking away! You're
mad--absolutely mad! [PHILIP _calmly presses a bell-push at the side of
the fireplace._] I'll go after 'em--and talk to her. I'll talk to her.
[_Running to the vestibule door and opening it._] Don't wait for me.
[_Going into the vestibule and grabbing his hat and overcoat._] It's a
tiff--a lovers' tiff! It's nothing but a lovers' tiff! [_Shutting the
vestibule door, piteously._] Oh, my dear excellent friend----!

               [JOHN _appears, opening one of the big doors a little
               way. Again the outer door slams._

                              PHILIP.

[_To_ JOHN, _sternly._] Dinner.

                              JOHN.

[_Looking for the guests--dumbfoundered_] D-d-dinner, sir?

                              PHILIP.

Serve dinner.

                              JOHN.

[_His eyes bolting._] The--the--the ladies and gentlemen have gone,
sir!

                              PHILIP.

Yes. I'm dining alone.

               [JOHN _vanishes precipitately; whereupon_ PHILIP
               _strides to the big doors, thrusts them wide open with a
               blow of his fists, and sits at the dining-table._


END OF THE THIRD ACT



THE FOURTH ACT


_The scene is the same, the light that of a fine winter morning. The
big doors are open, and from the dining-room windows, where the
curtains are now drawn back, there is a view of some buildings opposite
and, through a space between the buildings, of the tops of the bare
trees in Gray's Inn garden._

_Save for a chair with a crumpled napkin upon it which stands at the
dining-table before the remains of_ PHILIP_'s breakfast, the
disposition of the furniture is as when first shown._

_A fire is burning in the nearer room._


               [PHILIP, _dressed as at the opening of the preceding
               act, is seated on the settee on the right, moodily
               puffing at his pipe._ ROOPE _faces him, in the chair by
               the smoking-table, with a mournful air._ ROOPE _is in
               his overcoat and is nursing his hat._

                              PHILIP.

[_To_ ROOPE, _shortly, as if continuing a conversation._] Well?

                              ROOPE.

Well, what happened was this. I----

               [_He breaks off to glance over his shoulder into the
               further room._

                              PHILIP.

Go on. Nobody'll hear you. John's out.

                              ROOPE.

What happened was this. I overtook 'em at the bottom of the stairs, and
begged 'em to let me go back with them to Ennismore Gardens. Lady
Filson and I got into one cab, Sir Randle and Madame de Chaumié into
another. Bertram Filson slunk off to his club. At Ennismore Gardens we
had the most depressin' meal I've ever sat down to, and then Madame
Ottoline proposed that I should smoke a cigarette in her boudoir.
[_Distressed._] Oh, my dear Phil----!

                              PHILIP.

W-w-what----?

                              ROOPE.

I can't bear to see a woman in tears; I can't, positively.

                              PHILIP.

[_Between his teeth._] Confound you, Robbie, who can! Don't brag about
it.

                              ROOPE.

At first she swept up and down the room like an outraged Empress. Her
skirts created quite a wind. I won't attempt to tell you all the bitter
things she said----

                              PHILIP.

Of me?

                              ROOPE.

And of _me_, dear excellent friend.

                              PHILIP.

[_Grimly._] For your share in the business.

                              ROOPE.

[_With a nod._] The fatal luncheon in South Audley Street. However, she
soon softened, and came and knelt by the fire. And suddenly--you've
seen a child fall on the pavement and cut its knees, haven't you,
Phil?----

                              PHILIP.

Of course I have.

                              ROOPE.

That's how she cried. I was really alarmed.

                              PHILIP.

The--the end of it being----?

                              ROOPE.

[_Dismally._] The end of it being that she went off to bed, declaring
that she recognizes that the breach between you is beyond healing, and
that she's resolved never to cross your path again if she can avoid it.

                              PHILIP.

[_Laying his pipe aside._] Ha! [_Scowling at_ ROOPE.] And so this is
the result of your self-appointed mission, is it?

                              ROOPE.

[_Hurt._] That's rather ungrateful, Phil----

                              PHILIP.

[_Starting up and walking away to the left._] P'sha!

                              ROOPE.

If you'd heard how I reasoned with her----!

                              PHILIP.

[_Striding up and down._] What had I better do? It's good of you to be
here so early. [ROOPE _rises._] I'm _not_ ungrateful, Robbie. Advise
me.

                              ROOPE.

[_Stiffly._] I assume, from your tone, that what you _wish_ to do is
to--er----?

                              PHILIP.

To abase myself before her; to grovel at her feet and crave her pardon
for my behaviour of last night. What else should I want to do, in God's
name!

                              ROOPE.

[_Dryly._] I see, you've slept on it.

                              PHILIP.

Laid awake on it. [_Fiercely._] Do I look as if I'd slept the sleep of
a healthy infant?

                              ROOPE.

I don't know anything about infants, I am happy to say, healthy or
ailing; but certainly your treatment of Madame de Chaumié was
atrocious.

                              PHILIP.

Brutal, savage, inhuman! [_Halting and extending his arms._] And what's
been her fault? She's dared to love me eagerly, impetuously,
uncontrollably--_me_, a conceited, egotistical fellow who is no more
worth her devotion than the pompous beast who opens her father's
front-door! And because, out of her love, she commits a heedless,
impulsive act which deals a blow at my rotten pride, I slap her face
and turn my back upon her, and suffer her to leave my rooms as though
she's a charwoman detected in prigging silver from my cash-box!
[_Clasping his brow and groaning._] Oh--! [_In sudden fury at seeing_
ROOPE _thoughtfully examining his hat._] Damn it, Robbie, stop fiddling
with your hat or you'll drive me crazy!

               [_He sits on the settee on the left and rests his head
               on his fists._ ROOPE _hastily deposits his hat on the
               smoking-table._

                              ROOPE.

[_Approaching_ PHILIP _coldly._] I was considering, dear excellent
friend--but perhaps in your present state of irritability----

                              PHILIP.

[_Holding out his hand penitently._] Shut up!

                              ROOPE.

[_Presenting_ PHILIP _with two fingers._] I was considering--when you
almost sprang at my throat--I was considering that it isn't at all
unlikely that Madame de Chaumié's frame of mind is a trifle less
inflexible this morning. _She_ has slept--or laid awake--on the events
of last night too, recollect.

                              PHILIP.

[_Raising his head._] Having been kicked out of this place a few hours
ago, her affection for me revives with the rattle of the milk-cans!

                              ROOPE.

[_Evasively._] At any rate, she must be conscious that you were
smarting under provocation. She confessed as much during our talk.
[_Magnanimously._] Even _I_ admit you had provocation.

                              PHILIP.

_That_ never influenced a woman, Robbie. Besides, I've insulted this
one before--grossly insulted her, in the old days in Paris----

                              ROOPE.

Ancient history! _My_ advice is--since you invite it--my advice is that
you write her a letter----

                              PHILIP.

I've composed half-a-dozen already. [_Pointing to a waste-paper basket
by the writing-table._] The pieces are in that basket.

                              ROOPE.

No, no; not a highly-wrought performance. Simply a line, asking her to
receive you. [PHILIP _rises listlessly._] Send it along by messenger.
[_With growing enthusiasm._] Look here! I'll take it!

                              PHILIP.

[_Gloomily, his hand on Roope's shoulder._] Ho, ho! You--you
indefatigable old Cupid!

                              ROOPE.

[_Looking at his watch._] Quarter-past-ten. [_Excitedly._] Phil, I bet
you a hundred guineas--[_correcting himself_] er--well--five pounds--I
bet you five pounds I'm with you again, with a favourable reply, before
twelve!

                              PHILIP.

[_Clapping_ ROOPE _on the back._] Done! [_Crossing to the writing-table._]
At the worst, I've earned a fiver.

                              ROOPE.

[_As_ PHILIP _sits at the table and takes a sheet of paper and an
envelope from a drawer._] May I suggest----?

                              PHILIP.

[_Dipping his pen in the ink._] Fire away, old chap.

                              ROOPE.

[_Seeking for inspiration by gazing at the ceiling._] H'm--[_Dictating._]
"Forgive me. I forgive you. When may I come to you?" [_To_ PHILIP.] Not
another word.

                              PHILIP.

[_As he writes._] By George, you've got the romantic touch, Robbie! If
you'd been a literary bloke, what sellers _you'd_ have written!

                              ROOPE.

[_Behind the smoking-table, smoothing his hair complacently._] Funny,
your remark. As a matter of fact, I _used_ to dabble a little in
pen-and-ink as a young man.

                              PHILIP.

[_Reading, a tender ring in his voice._] "Forgive me. I forgive you.
When may I come to you?" [_Adding his signature._] "Philip."

                              ROOPE.

Admirable!

                              PHILIP.

[_Folding and enclosing the note--catching some of_ ROOPE_'s hopefulness._]
In the meantime I'll array myself in my Sunday-best--[_moistening the
envelope_] on the chance----

                              ROOPE.

Do; at once. [_Putting on his hat._] She _may_ summon you by telephone----

                              PHILIP.

[_Addressing the envelope._] She gave me a scarf-pin yesterday--such a
beauty. [_Softly._] I'll wear it. [_Rising and giving the note to_
ROOPE.] Bless you, old boy!

               [ROOPE _pockets the note, grasps_ PHILIP_'s hand
               hurriedly, and bustles to the vestibule door._

                              ROOPE.

My quickest way is the Tube to Bayswater, and then a taxi across the
Park----

               [_He has entered the vestibule--omitting to close the
               door in his haste--and has opened the outer door when_
               PHILIP _calls to him._

                              PHILIP.

[_Standing behind the smoking-table--with a change of manner._] Robbie----

                              ROOPE.

Hey?

                              PHILIP.

Robbie--[ROOPE _returns to_ PHILIP _reluctantly, leaving the outer door
open._] Oh, Robbie--[_gripping_ ROOPE's _arm_] how I boasted to you of
my triumph--my grand victory! How I swaggered and bellowed, and crowed
over you----!

                              ROOPE.

[_Fidgeting to get away._] Yes, but we won't discuss that now, Phil----

                              PHILIP.

[_Detaining him._] Wait. [_Brokenly._] Robbie--should Ottoline show any
inclination to--to patch matters up, you may tell her--as from me--that
I--I've done with it.

                              ROOPE.

[_Wonderingly._] Done with it?

                              PHILIP.

My career as a writing-man. It's finished. [_Hanging his head._] I'm
sorry to break faith with her people; but she may take me, if she will,
on her own terms--a poor devil who has proved a duffer at his job, and
who is content henceforth to be nothing but her humble slave and
dependant.

                              ROOPE.

[_Energetically._] My dear Phil, for heaven's sake, don't entertain
such a notion! Abandon your career just when you're making a noise in
the world----!

                              PHILIP.

[_Throwing up his hands._] Noise in the world!

                              ROOPE.

When you're getting the finest advertisement an author could possibly
desire!

                              PHILIP.

[_Choking._] Advertisement----!

                              ROOPE.

I can sympathize with your feeling mortified at not scoring entirely
off your own bat; but, deuce take it, your book _is_ in its thirteenth
edition!

                              PHILIP.

[_Laughing wildly._] Ho, ho, ho! [_Moving to the fireplace._] Ha, ha,
ha, ha----!

                              ROOPE.

[_Testily._] Oh, I'm glad I amuse you----!

                              PHILIP.

[_Coming to the settee on the right._] You're marvellous,
Robbie--incomparable----!

                              ROOPE.

[_Again preparing to depart._] Indeed?

                              PHILIP.

Ha, ha, ha----!

               [_A moment earlier,_ SIR TIMOTHY BARRADELL _has appeared
               in the vestibule, trying, in the dim light there, to
               decipher the name on the outer door. Hearing the sound
               of voices, he turns and reveals himself._

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Looking into the room and encountering_ ROOPE.] Roope!

                              ROOPE.

[_As they shake hands--astonished._] Dear excellent _friend_, what a
surprise!

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

Ah, don't flatter yourself you're the only early riser in London!
[_Seeing_ PHILIP.] Mr. Mackworth--[_advancing_] I found your door open
and I took the liberty----

                              PHILIP.

[_Meeting him in the middle of the room._] Sir Timothy Barradell, isn't
it?

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

It is. [_They shake hands, cordially on_ SIR TIMOTHY's _part, with more
formality on_ PHILIP's.] It's an unceremonious hour for a call, but if
you'd spare me five minutes----

                              PHILIP.

[_Civilly._] Pray sit down. [_Joining_ ROOPE _at the entrance to the
vestibule._] Robbie _has_ to run away----

                              ROOPE.

[_Diplomatically._] Can't stay another moment. [_Waving a hand to_ SIR
TIMOTHY.] _Au revoir_, dear Sir Timothy!

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Laying his hat upon the settee on the right and taking off his
gloves._] So long! [PHILIP _and_ ROOPE _stare at_ SIR TIMOTHY, _whose
back is towards them._ ROOPE _gives_ PHILIP _an inquiring look, which_
PHILIP _answers by a shrug and a shake of the head; and then_ PHILIP
_lets_ ROOPE _out and comes back into the room._ SIR TIMOTHY _turns to
him._] I'm afraid you think I'm presuming on a very slight
acquaintance, Mr. Mackworth----

                              PHILIP.

[_Shutting the vestibule door._] Not in the least.

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

Anyhow I'll not waste more of your valuable time than I can help.
[PHILIP _points to the settee and the two men sit, Sir Timothy on the
settee,_ PHILIP _in the chair by the smoking-table._ SIR TIMOTHY
_inspects the toes of his boots._] Mr. Mackworth, I--I won't beat about
the bush--it's a delicate subject I'm approaching you on.

                              PHILIP.

[_Leaning back in his chair._] Really?

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

An extremely delicate subject--[_raising his eyes_] Madame de Chaumié.

                              PHILIP.

Madame de Chaumié?

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

In the first place, I suppose you're aware that I had the temerity to
propose marriage to the lady in the summer of this year?

                              PHILIP.

Yes, I'm aware of it. Madame de Chaumié informed me of the circumstance.

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Nodding._] She would; she would. [_Straightening himself._] Well, Mr.
Mackworth, while I was abroad I heard from various sources that you had
become a pretty regular visitor at the house of her parents, and that
you and she were to be seen together occasionally in the secluded spots
of Kensington Gardens; and I naturally inferred that it was yourself
she'd had the good taste to single out from among her numerous suitors.

                              PHILIP.

[_With a smile._] I'd rather you didn't put it in that way, Sir
Timothy; but I guessed yesterday that the facts of the case had reached
you through some channel or other.

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

Yesterday?

                              PHILIP.

When Robbie Roope brought me your kind greetings.

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

Ah, that's nice of you! [_Constrainedly._] That's--nice of you.

                              PHILIP.

[_Changing his position and unbending._] But tell me! I don't know yet
what you have to say to me about Madame de Chaumié--but why should you
find it embarrassing to speak of her to me? [_Gently._] We're men of
the world, you and I; and it isn't the rule of life that the prize
always goes to the most deserving. [_With animation._]

    "And in the world, as in the school,
    I'd say, how fate may change and shift;
    The prize be sometimes with the fool,
    The race not always to the swift.
    The strong may yield, the good may fall,
    The great man be a vulgar clown,
    The knave be lifted over all,
    The kind cast pitilessly down."

So sang one of the noblest gentlemen who have ever followed my calling!

               [_There is a brief silence, and then_ SIR TIMOTHY _rises
               abruptly and walks to the fireplace._ PHILIP _looks
               after him, perplexed._

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Facing the fire._] Mr. Mackworth----

                              PHILIP.

Eh?

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

I saw Bertram Filson last night--her brother.

                              PHILIP.

[_Pricking up his ears._] You did? Where?

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

At the club--the Junior Somerset. He came in late, looking a bit out of
gear, and ate a mouthful of dinner and drank a whole bottle of Pommery;
and afterwards he joined me in the smoking-room and--and was
exceedingly communicative.

                              PHILIP.

[_Attentively._] Oh?

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

I didn't encourage him to babble--[_turning_] 'twas he that insisted on
confiding to me what had occurred----

                              PHILIP.

Occurred?

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

That you and Madame de Chaumié had had a serious difference, and that
there's small prospect of its being bridged over.

                              PHILIP.

[_Glaring._] Oh, he confided _that_ to you, did he, Sir Timothy?

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

He did.

                              PHILIP.

[_Rising and pacing up and down on the left._] And what the devil does
Filson mean by gossiping about me at a club--me and my relations with
Madame de Chaumié!

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Advancing a little._] Ah, don't be angry! The champagne he'd drunk
had loosened his tongue. And then, I'm a friend of the family----

                              PHILIP.

Infernal puppy!

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

Referring to _Filson_?

                              PHILIP.

Of course.

Sir Timothy.

[_Mildly._] Well, whether young Filson's a puppy or not, _now_ perhaps
you begin to appreciate my motive for intruding on you?

                              PHILIP.

[_Halting._] Hardly.

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

You don't! [_Rumpling his hair._] I'll try to make it plainer to you.
[_Behind the smoking-table._] Er--will I smoke one of your
cigarettes?----

                              PHILIP.

[_Frigidly polite._] Please.

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Taking a cigarette from the box on the table._] Mr. Mackworth, if
Filson's prognostications as to the result of the quarrel between you
and his sister are fulfilled, it's my intention, after a decent
interval, to renew my appeal to her to marry me. [_Striking a match._]
Is that clear?

                              PHILIP.

Perfectly. [_Stiffly._] But all the same, I'm still at a loss----

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Lighting his cigarette._] At a loss, are you! [_Warmly._] You're at a
loss to understand that I'm not the sort of man who'd steal a march
upon another where a woman's concerned, and take advantage of his
misfortunes in a dirty manner! [_Coming to_ PHILIP.] Mackworth--I'll
drop the Mister, if you've no objection--Mackworth, I promise you I
won't move a step till I have your assurance that your split with
Madame de Chaumié is a mortal one, and that the coast is open to all
comers. That's my part o' the bargain, and I expect you on your side to
treat me with equal fairness and frankness. [_Offering his hand._] You
will?

                              PHILIP.

My dear Sir Timothy--my dear Barradell--[_shaking_ SIR TIMOTHY's _hand
heartily_.] you're the most chivalrous fellow I've ever met!

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Walking away._] Ah, go on now!

                              PHILIP.

[_Following him._] I apologize sincerely for being so curt.

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

Don't mention it.

                              PHILIP.

It's true, Ottoline and I _have_ had a bad fall out. [_Keenly._] Did
Filson give you any particulars----?

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

I gathered 'twas something arising out of a book of yours----

                              PHILIP.

Y-y-yes; a silly affair in which I was utterly in the wrong. I lost my
accursed temper--made a disgraceful exhibition of myself. [_Touching_
SIR TIMOTHY's _arm._] I _will_ be quite straight with you,
Barradell--Robbie Roope has just gone to her with a note from me. I
don't want to pain you; but Robbie and I hope that, after a night's
rest--[_The bell rings in the vestibule._] Excuse me--my servant isn't
in. [_He goes into the vestibule, leaving the door open._ SIR TIMOTHY
_picks up his hat. On opening the outer door,_ PHILIP _confronts_
OTTOLINE.] Otto----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_In the doorway, giving him both her hands._] Are you alone,
Philip?

                              PHILIP.

[_Drawing her into the vestibule, his eyes sparkling._] No. [_With a
motion of his head._] Sir Timothy Barradell----

               [OTTOLINE _passes_ PHILIP _and enters the room, holding
               out her hand to_ SIR TIMOTHY. _Her eyes are black-rimmed
               from sleeplessness; but whatever asperity she has
               displayed overnight has disappeared, and she is again
               full of softness and charm._

                              OTTOLINE.

Sir Tim!

                              PHILIP.

[_Shutting the outer door--breathing freely._] Kind of Sir Timothy to
look me up, isn't it?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_To_ SIR TIMOTHY.] _Vous êtes un vaurien!_ When did you return?

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Who has flung his cigarette into the grate--crestfallen._] The day
before yesterday.

                              OTTOLINE.

Then I mustn't scold you for not having been to see us yet.
[_Wonderingly._] You find time to call on Mr. Mackworth, though!

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_With a gulp._] I--I was on my way to my solicitors, who are in
Raymond Buildings, and I remembered that I knew Mackworth years ago----

                              PHILIP.

[_Loitering near the vestibule door, impatient for_ SIR TIMOTHY's
_departure._] When I was a rollicking man-about-town, eh, Barradell!

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Retaining_ OTTOLINE's _hand--to her, earnestly._] My dear Madame de
Chaumié----

                              OTTOLINE.

Yes?

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Bracing himself._] A little bird brought the news to me shortly after
I left England. [_She lowers her eyes._] I--I congratulate you and
Mackworth--I congratulate you from the core of my heart.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_In a quiet voice._] Thank you, dear Sir Timothy.

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

May you both be as happy as you deserve to be, and even happier!

                              PHILIP.

[_Laughing._] Ha, ha, ha!

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Squeezing her hand._] Good-bye for the present.

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Smilingly._] Good-bye. [_He passes her and joins_ PHILIP. _Unseen by_
OTTOLINE_--who proceeds to loosen her coat at the settee on the
right--_ PHILIP _again gives_ SIR TIMOTHY _a vigorous hand-shake._ SIR
TIMOTHY _responds to it disconsolately, and is following_ PHILIP _into
the vestibule when he hears_ OTTOLINE _call to him._] Sir Tim!

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Turning._] Hallo!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Lightly._] Is your car here?

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Brightening._] It is.

                              OTTOLINE.

You may give me a lift to Bond Street, if your business with your
lawyers won't keep you long.

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Emphatically._] It will _not_. [_Beaming._] I told you a lie. I've
_no_ business with my lawyers. I came here expressly to improve my
acquaintance with the man who's to be your husband, and for no other
purpose.

               [_They all laugh merrily._

                              OTTOLINE.

Ha, ha, ha! [_To_ SIR TIMOTHY.] Wait for me in South Square, then. I
sha'n't be many minutes.

                              SIR TIMOTHY.

[_Going into the vestibule._] Ah, I'd wait an eternity!

               [PHILIP _and_ SIR TIMOTHY _shake hands once more, and
               then_ PHILIP _lets_ SIR TIMOTHY _out._

                              PHILIP.

[_As he shuts the outer door._] By George, he's a splendid chap! [_He
comes back into the room, closes the vestibule door, and advances to_
OTTOLINE _and stands before her humbly._] Oh, Ottoline--oh, my dear
girl! Shall I go down on my knees to you?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_In a subdued tone._] If you do, I shall have to kneel to _you_, Phil.

                              PHILIP.

[_Slowly folding her in his arms._] Ah! Ah! Ah! [_In her ear._] What a
night I've spent!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Almost inaudibly._] And I!

               [_He seats her upon the settee on the right and sits
               beside her, linking his hand in hers._

                              PHILIP.

How merciful this is of you! I've just sent you a letter by Robbie
Roope, begging you to see me; you've missed him. [_Smiling._] It isn't
as eloquent as some I started writing at five o'clock this morning.
Would you like to hear it? [_She nods. He recites his note tenderly._]
"Forgive me. I forgive you. When may I come to you?" That's all.

                              OTTOLINE.

_Isn't_ that eloquent, Phil?

                              PHILIP.

[_Smiling again._] It's concise--and as long as you forgive
me--[_eyeing her with a shadow of fear_] you're _sure_ you've forgiven
me?

                              OTTOLINE.

Sure.

                              PHILIP.

[_Persistently._] Without reserve?

                              OTTOLINE.

Should I be here--[_indicating their proximity_] and _here_--if I
hadn't?

                              PHILIP.

[_Pressing her hand to his lips ardently, and then freeing her
shoulders from her coat._] Take this off----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Gently resisting._] Poor Sir Timothy----!

                              PHILIP.

[_In high spirits._] Oh, a little exercise won't do Sir Timothy any
harm! [_Helping her to slip her arms out of her coat._] Dash it, you
might have let _me_ escort you to Bond Street!

                              OTTOLINE.

No, no; your work----

                              PHILIP.

[_His brow clouding._] W-w-work----?

                              OTTOLINE.

You mustn't lose your morning's work.

               [_There is a short pause, and then he rises and moves a
               few steps away from her. With an impassive countenance,
               she fingers the buttons of her gloves._

                              PHILIP.

[_Stroking the pattern of the carpet with his foot._] Otto----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Looking up._] Yes, Phil?

                              PHILIP.

I asked Robbie to tell you, if he had the opportunity, that I've
decided to make my farewell salaam to authorship. I'm no good at it;
I'm a frost; I realize it at last. I've had my final whack on the jaw;
I've fought--how many rounds?--and now I take the count and slink out
of the ring, beat. [_Producing his keys, he goes to the cabinet on the
right, unlocks it, and selects from several cardboard portfolios one
which he carries to the writing-table. While he is doing this,_
OTTOLINE_--still with an expressionless face--rises and moves to the
left, where she stands watching him. He opens the portfolio and, with a
pained look, handles the sheets of manuscript in it._] Ha! You and I
have often talked over this, haven't we, Otto?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Calmly._] Often.

                              PHILIP.

[_Taking the manuscript from the portfolio--thoughtfully._] It was to
have been--oh, such an advance on my previous stuff--kindlier, less
strenuous, more urbane! Success--success!--had sweetened the gall in
me! [_Glancing at a partly covered page._] Here's where I broke off
yesterday. [_With a shrug._] In every man's life there's a chapter
uncompleted, in one form or another! [_Throwing the manuscript into the
portfolio._] Pst! Get back to your hole; I'll burn you later on. [_He
rejoins her. She half turns from him, averting her head._] So end my
pitiful strivings and ambitions! [_Laying his hand on her shoulder._]
Ah, it's a miserable match you're making, Ottoline! My two-hundred-a-year
will rig me out suitably, and provide me with tobacco; and the
dribblets coming to me from my old books--through the honest publishers
I deserted for Mr. Titterton!--the dribblets coming from my old books
will enable me to present you with a nosegay on the anniversaries of
our wedding-day, and--by the time your hair's white--to refund you the
money Titterton's had from you. And there--with a little fame unjustly
won, which, thank God, 'll soon die!--there you have the sum of my
possessions! [_Seizing her arms and twisting her round._] Oh, but I'll
be your mate, my dear--your loyal companion and protector--comrade and
lover----!

               [_He is about to embrace her again, but she keeps him
               off by placing her hands against his breast._

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Steeling herself._] Phil----

                              PHILIP.

[_Unsuspectingly._] Eh?

                              OTTOLINE.

I arrived at a decision during the night too, Phil.

                              PHILIP.

Yes?

                              OTTOLINE.

Don't--don't loathe me. [_Shaking her head gravely._] I am not going to
marry you.

                              PHILIP.

[_Staring at her._] You're not going to--marry me?

                              OTTOLINE.

No, Philip.

                              PHILIP.

[_After another pause._] You--you're overwrought, Otto; you've had no
sleep. Neither of us has had any sleep----

                              OTTOLINE.

Oh, but I'm quite clearheaded----

                              PHILIP.

[_Bewildered._] Why, just now you said you'd forgiven me--repeated
it----!

                              OTTOLINE.

I do repeat it. If I've anything to forgive, I forgive you a thousand
times----

                              PHILIP.

And you allowed me to--to take you in my arms----

                              OTTOLINE.

You shall take me in your arms again, Phil, once more, before we part,
if you wish to. I'm not a girl, though you call me one----

                              PHILIP.

[_Sternly._] Look here! You don't imagine for an instant that I shall
accept this! You----!

                              OTTOLINE.

Ssh! Try not to be hasty; try to be reasonable. Listen to me----

                              PHILIP.

You--you mean me to understand that, in consequence of this wretched
Titterton affair, you've changed your mind, and intend to chuck me!

                              OTTOLINE.

Yes, I mean you to understand that.

                              PHILIP.

[_Turning from her indignantly._] Oh----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Sitting in the chair by the smoking-table._] Philip--Philip--[_He
hesitates, then seats himself on the settee opposite to her. She speaks
with great firmness and deliberation._] Philip, while you were lying
awake last night, or walking about your room, didn't you--_think_?

                              PHILIP.

[_Hotly._] _Think----!_

                              OTTOLINE.

No, no--soberly, steadily, searchingly. Evidently not, _cher ami_!
[_Bending forward._] Phil, after what has happened, can't you see me as
I really _am_?

                              PHILIP.

As you--are?

                              OTTOLINE.

An incurably vulgar woman. An incurably common, vulgar woman. Nobody
but a woman whose vulgarity is past praying for could have conceived
such a scheme as I planned and carried out with that man Clifford
Titterton--nobody. This--how shall I term it?--this refinement of mine
is merely on the surface. We women are like the--what's the name of the
little reptile?--the chameleon, isn't it? We catch the colour of our
surroundings. But what we were, we continue to be--in the grain. The
vulgar-minded Ottoline Filson, who captivated, and disgusted, you in
Paris is before you at this moment. The only difference is that then
she was a natural person, and now she plays _les grands rôles_. [_Sitting
upright and pressing her temples._] Oh, I have fooled myself as well as
you, Phil--deluded myself----!

                              PHILIP.

You're dog-tired, Otto. Your brain's in a fever. All you've done,
you've done from your love for me, my dear--your deep, passionate
love----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Wincing._] Passionate love--_parfaitement_! [_Looking at him._] But
that feeling's over, Phil.

                              PHILIP.

Over?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Simply._] I shall always _love_ you--always--always; but my passion
exhausted itself last night. For months it has borne me along on a
wave. It was that that swept me to the door of Titterton's office in
Charles Street, Adelphi; it was strong enough to drive me to any
length. But last night, in those dreadful small hours, the wave beat
itself out, and threw me up on to the rocks, and left me
shivering--naked--ashamed--[_drawing a deep breath_] ah, but in my
right senses!

               [_She unbuttons her left-hand glove, rolls the hand of
               the glove over her wrist, and takes her engagement-ring
               from her finger._

                              PHILIP.

[_Aghast._] Otto! Otto! What are you doing! What are you doing! [_She
lays the ring carefully upon the smoking-table and rises and walks
away. He rises with her, following her._] To-morrow--when you've had
some sleep--to-morrow----

                              OTTOLINE.

Never. Don't deceive yourself, Philip. [_Going to the fireplace._] If
anything was needed to strengthen my resolution, the announcement
you've just made would supply it.

                              PHILIP.

[_On the left._] Announcement?

                              OTTOLINE.

With regard to your literary work. [_Turning to him._] _Ne voyez-vous
pas!_ I have begun to degrade you already!

                              PHILIP.

[_Consciously._] Degrade me?

                              OTTOLINE.

Degrade you. If I hadn't come into your life again, you would have
accepted your reverse--your failure to gain popularity by your latest
book--as you've accepted similar disappointments--with a shrug and a
confident snap of your fingers. [_Advancing._] But I've humbled
you--bruised your spirit--shaken your courage; and now you express your
willingness--_you!_--to throw your pen aside, and tack yourself to my
skirts, and to figure meekly for the rest of your existence as "Mrs.
Mackworth's husband"! [_At the nearer end of the writing-table._] _Mon
Dieu!_ This is what I have brought you to!

                              PHILIP.

[_Biting his lip._] You--you wouldn't have me profit by the
advertisement I've got out of "The Big Drum," Ottoline--[_ironically_]
the finest advertisement I could wish for, according to Robbie! You
wouldn't have me sink as low as that?

                              OTTOLINE.

You can write under an alias--a _nom de plume_--until you've won your
proper place----

                              PHILIP.

[_Uneasily._] Oh, well--perhaps--by-and-by--when we had settled down,
you and I--and things had adjusted themselves----

                              OTTOLINE.

Yes, when you'd grown sick and weary of your new environment, and had
had time to reflect on the horrid trick I'd employed to get hold of
you, and had learned to despise me for it, you'd creep back to your
desk and make an effort to pick up the broken threads! [_Coming to the
settee on the right._] _Eh bien!_ Do you know what would happen _then_,
Phil?

                              PHILIP.

W-w-what?

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Intensely._] I should _puff_ you, under the rose--quietly pull the
strings--use all the influence I could rake up----

                              PHILIP.

No, no----

                              OTTOLINE.

I should. It's in my blood. I couldn't resist it. Whether you wrote as
Jones, or Smith, or Robinson, you'd find Jones, Smith, or Robinson
artfully puffed and paragraphed and thrust under people's noses in the
papers. I'm an incurably vulgar woman, I tell you! [_Snatching at her
coat--harshly._] _Ah, que je me connais; que je me connais!_

               [_She fumbles for the arm-holes of her coat. He goes to
               her quickly and they stand holding the coat between them
               and looking at each other._

                              PHILIP.

[_After a silence._] You--you're determined?

                              OTTOLINE.

Determined.

                              PHILIP.

You--you _can't_ be!

Ottoline.

I am--I swear I am.

                              PHILIP.

[_After a further silence._] Then it _is_--as you said last night----?

                              OTTOLINE.

What did I say last night? I forget.

                              PHILIP.

[_In a husky voice._] _C'est fini--après tout!_

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Inclining her head._] _C'est fini--après tout._

                              PHILIP.

[_Bitterly._] Ho! Ho, ho, ho! [_Another pause._] So when--when April
comes--we--we sha'n't----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Lowering her eyes--all gentleness again._] We sha'n't walk under the
trees in the Champs-Elysées, Phil----

                              PHILIP.

Nor in the Allée de Longchamp--where we----

                              OTTOLINE.

No, nor in the Allée de Longchamp.

                              PHILIP.

[_Releasing her coat and thrusting his hands into his trouser-pockets._]
Somebody else'll gulp the milk at the Café d'Armenonville----!

                              OTTOLINE.

And at the Pré-Catalan----

                              PHILIP.

And there'll be no one to gaze sentimentally at my old windows in the
Rue Soufflot----

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Softly._] _Quarante-trois bis._ [_Sighing._] No one.

                              PHILIP.

[_With a hollow laugh._] Ha, ha, ha! _C'est fini--après tout!_

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Firmly._] _C'est fini--après tout._ [_She holds out her coat to him
and he helps her into it. Suddenly, while her back is turned to him, he
utters a guttural cry and grips her shoulders savagely. She turns in
surprise, her hand to her shoulder._] Oh, Phil----!

                              PHILIP.

[_Pointing at her._] I see! I see! I see the end of it! You'll marry
Barradell! You'll marry the fellow who's cooling his heels down below
in South Square!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Placidly, fastening her coat._] I may.

                              PHILIP.

[_Choking._] Oh----!

                              OTTOLINE.

I may, if I marry at all--and he bothers any more about me.

                              PHILIP.

[_Stamping up and down._] Bacon Barradell! Bacon Barradell! The wife of
Bacon Barradell!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_With a sad smile._] He has social aims; a vulgar, pushing woman would
be a serviceable partner for Sir Tim.

                              PHILIP.

Oh! Oh--! [_Dropping on to the settee on the left and burying his face
in his hands._] Ho, well, more power to him! He can sell his bacon;
I--I can't sell my books!

               [_Again there is a silence, and then, putting on her
               left-hand glove, she goes to_ PHILIP _and stands over
               him compassionately._

                              OTTOLINE.

_Mon pauvre Philippe_, it's you, not I, who will take another view of
things to-morrow. [_He makes a gesture of dissent._] Ah, come, come,
come! You have never loved me as I have loved you. Unconsciously--without
perceiving it--one may be half a _poseuse_; but at least I've been
sincere in my love for you, and in hungering to be your wife. [_Giving
him her right hand._] You're the best I've ever known, dear; by far the
best I've ever known. [_He presses her hand to his brow convulsively._]
But when we had our talk in South Audley Street, how did you serve me?
You insisted on my waiting--waiting; I who had cherished your image in
my mind for years! You guessed I shouldn't have patience--you almost
prophesied as much; but still--I was to wait!

                              PHILIP.

[_Inarticulately._] Oh, Otto!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Withdrawing her hand._] What did that show, Phil? It showed--as your
compromise with mother and Dad showed afterwards--that the success of
the book you were engaged upon came first with you; that marrying me
was to be only an incident in your career; that you didn't love me
sufficiently to bend your pride or vary your programme a jot. [_He gets
to his feet, startled, dumbfoundered. He attempts to speak, but she
checks him._] H'sh! H'sh! I'm scolding you; but, for your sake, I
wouldn't have it otherwise. Now that I'm sane and cool, I wouldn't have
it otherwise.

                              PHILIP.

[_Struggling for words--thickly._] Ottoline--Ottoline--[_his voice
dying away_] I----!

                              OTTOLINE.

[_Taking his hands in hers._] Good-bye. Don't come downstairs with me.
Let me leave you sitting at your table, at work--at work on that
incomplete chapter. We shall tumble up against one another, I dare say,
at odd times, but this is the last we shall see of each other _dans
l'intimité_; and I want to print on my memory the sight of you--[_pointing
to the writing-table_] there--keeping your flag flying. [_Putting her
arms round him--in a whisper._] Keep your flag flying, Philip!
Don't--don't sulk with your art, and be false to yourself, because a
trumpery woman has fretted and disturbed you. Keep your flag
flying--[_kissing him_] my--my dear hero!

               [_She untwines her arms and steps back. Slowly, with his
               hands hanging loosely, and his chin upon his breast,_
               PHILIP _passes her and goes to the writing-table. There,
               dully and mechanically, he takes the unfinished page of
               manuscript from the portfolio, arranges it upon the
               blotting-pad and, seating himself at the table, picks up
               his pen. Very softly_ OTTOLINE _opens the vestibule
               door, gives_ PHILIP _a last look over her shoulder, and
               enters the vestibule, closing the door behind her. There
               is a pause, during which_ PHILIP _sits staring at his
               inkstand, and then the outer door slams. With an
               exclamation,_ PHILIP _drops his pen, leaps up, and
               rushes to the vestibule door._

                              PHILIP.

Otto! Otto! [_Loudly._] Ottoline----!

               [_With his hand on the door-handle, he wavers, his eyes
               shifting wildly to and from the writing-table. Then,
               with a mighty effort, he pulls himself together, strides
               to the smoking-table, and loads and lights his pipe.
               Puffing at his pipe fiercely, he reseats himself before
               his manuscript and, grabbing his pen, forces himself to
               write. He has written a word or two when he
               falters--stops--and lays his head upon his arm on the
               table._

                              PHILIP.

[_His shoulders heaving._] Oh, Otto--Otto----!


THE END


_Printed by_ BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO. LTD.
_At the Ballantyne Press_
LONDON AND EDINBURGH





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