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Title: I'll Leave It To You - A Light Comedy In Three Acts
Author: Coward, Noel, 1899-1973
Language: English
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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.

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Internet Archive)



Samuel
French

I'LL LEAVE IT
TO YOU

A LIGHT COMEDY

NOEL COWARD



"I'LL LEAVE IT
TO YOU"

A LIGHT COMEDY IN
THREE ACTS

BY

NOEL COWARD

SAMUEL FRENCH

LONDON

NEW YORK TORONTO SYDNEY HOLLYWOOD

[The following text concerning the copyright and royalties was printed at the beginning of the book.
It is included here for historical interest only. (note of transcriber)]


Copyright 1920 by Samuel French Ltd

_This play is fully protected under the copyright laws of the British
Commonwealth of Nations, the United States of America, and all countries
of the Berne and Universal Copyright Conventions._

_All rights are strictly reserved._

_It is an infringement of the copyright to give any public performance
or reading of this play either in its entirety or in the form of
excerpts without the prior consent of the copyright owners. No part of
this publication may be transmitted, stored in a retrieval system, or
reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, manuscript, typescript, recording, or otherwise, without
the prior permission of the Copyright owners._

SAMUEL FRENCH LTD. 26 SOUTHAMPTON STREET, STRAND, LONDON, WC2, or their
authorized agents, issue licences to amateurs to give performances of
this play on payment of a fee. The fee must be paid, and the licence
obtained, before a performance is given.

Licences are issued subject to the understanding that it shall be made
clear in all advertising matter that the audience will witness an
amateur performance; and that the names of the authors of plays shall be
included in all announcements and on all programmes.

The royalty fee indicated below is subject to contract and subject to
variation at the sole discretion of Samuel French Ltd.

    Fee for each and every
      performance by amateurs      Code H
      in the British Isles


In territories overseas the fee quoted above may not apply. A quotation
will be given upon application to the authorized agents, or direct to
Samuel French Ltd.

ISBN 0 573 01199 0



To

MY MOTHER



"I'LL LEAVE IT TO YOU"


Produced on Wednesday, July 21, 1920, at the New Theatre, London, with
the following Cast of Characters:--

    MRS. DERMOTT                 _Miss Kate Cutler_.
    OLIVER     }              {  _Mr. Douglas Jefferies_.
    EVANGELINE }              {  _Miss Muriel Pope_.
    SYLVIA     }(Her Children){  _Miss Stella Jesse_.
    BOBBIE     }              {  _Mr. Noël Coward_.
    JOYCE      }              {  _Miss Moya Nugent_.
    DANIEL DAVIS (Her Brother)   _Mr. E. Holman Clark_.
    MRS. CROMBIE                 _Miss Lois Stuart_.
    FAITH CROMBIE                _Miss Esmé Wynne_.
    GRIGGS (Butler)              _Mr. David Clarkson_.


The action of the play takes place in MULBERRY MANOR, MRS. DERMOTT'S
house, a few miles out of London.

Eighteen months elapse between acts one and two, and one night between
acts two and three.



"I'LL LEAVE IT TO YOU"


_A plan of the stage of the New Theatre, London, set for the play is
given at the end of the book._

SCENE.--_The Hall of Mulberry Manor. All the furniture looks very
comfortable. Through the window can be seen a glimpse of a snowy garden;
there it a log fire. The light is a little dim, being late afternoon.
Seated on the table swinging her legs is_ JOYCE, _she is attired in a
fur coat and goloshes, very little else can be seen, except a pink
healthy looking young face._ SYLVIA _is seated on the Chesterfield_ R.
_She is twenty-one and exceedingly pretty. It is about five days before
Christmas._

JOYCE (_brightly_). My feet are simply soaking.

SYLVIA (_sewing_). Why on earth don't you go and change them? You'll
catch cold.

    (BOBBIE _enters_ R. _He is a slim, bright-looking youth of twenty._)

JOYCE. I don't mind if I do. (_Laughs._) Colds are fun.

BOBBIE. She loves having a fuss made of her, beef tea--chicken--jelly
with whipped cream--and fires in her bedroom, little Sybarite.

JOYCE. So do you.

BOBBIE (_comes_ C.). No, I don't; whenever my various ailments confine
me to my bed, I chafe--positively chafe at the terrible inactivity. I
want to be up and about, shooting, riding, cricket, football, judo, the
usual run of manly sports.

SYLVIA. Knowing you for what you are--lazy, luxurious----

BOBBIE (_pained_). Please, please, please, not in front of the child.
(JOYCE _kicks_). It's demoralizing for her to hear her idolized brother
held up to ridicule.

JOYCE. You're not my idolized brother at all--Oliver is. (_Turning away,
pouting._)

BOBBIE (_seated_ R. _on Chesterfield, sweetly_). If that were really so,
dear, I know you have much too kind a heart to let me know it.

SYLVIA. What is the matter with you this afternoon, Bobbie--you are very
up in the air about something.

    (JOYCE _takes her coat off, puts on back of chair_ R. _of table_).

BOBBIE (_rising and sitting on club fender_). Merely another instance of
the triumph of mind over matter; in this case a long and healthy walk
was the matter. I went into the lobby to put on my snow boots and
then--as is usually the case with me--my mind won. I thought of tea,
crumpets and comfort. Oliver has gone without me, he simply bursts with
health and extraordinary dullness. Personally I shall continue to be
delicate and interesting.

SYLVIA (_seriously_). You may _have_ to work, Bobbie.

BOBBIE. Really, Sylvia, you do say the most awful things, remember Joyce
is only a school-girl, she'll be quite shocked.

JOYCE. We work jolly hard at school, anyhow.

BOBBIE. Oh, no, you don't. I've read the modern novelists, and I _know_;
all you do is walk about with arms entwined, and write poems of tigerish
adoration to your mistresses. It's a beautiful existence.

JOYCE. You are a silly ass. (_Picks up magazine._)

SYLVIA. It's all very well to go on fooling Bobbie, but _really_ we
shall have to pull ourselves together a bit. Mother's very worried, as
you know, money troubles are perfectly beastly, and she hasn't told us
nearly all. I do so hate her to be upset, poor darling.

BOBBIE. What can we do? (_Sits_ L. _end of Chesterfield._ JOYCE _puts
down magazine and listens._)

SYLVIA. Think of a way to make money.

BOBBIE. It's difficult now that the war is over.

SYLVIA. That's cheap wit, dear; also it's the wrong moment for it.
(JOYCE _giggles._)

BOBBIE. It's always the wrong moment for cheap wit, admitting for one
moment that it was, which it wasn't.

JOYCE. Oh, do shut up, you make my head go round.

    (_Enter_ EVANGELINE _downstairs; she is tall and almost beautiful;
    she carries a book in her hand._)

BOBBIE (_turning_). Oh, Vangy, do come and join us; we're on the verge
of a congress.

EVANGELINE. I must read some more Maeterlinck. (_Posing._)

BOBBIE. You mean you must let us see you reading Maeterlinck.

EVANGELINE (_goes to him, back of Chesterfield, touches his hair._) Try
not to be so irritating, Bobbie dear; just because you don't happen to
appreciate good literature, it's very small and narrow to laugh at
people who do.

SYLVIA. But seriously, Vangy, we are rather worried (EVANGELINE _moves_)
about mother; she's been looking harassed for days.

EVANGELINE (_sitting in armchair_). What about?

SYLVIA. Money, money, money! Haven't you realized that! Uncle Daniel
sent a pretty substantial cheque from South America (_all nod_) that
helped things on a bit after Father's death, but that must be gone by
now--and mother won't say how much father left.

JOYCE. Perhaps she doesn't know.

BOBBIE. She must know now, he's been dead nearly six
months--inconsiderate old beast!

SYLVIA. Bobbie, you're not to talk about father like that. I won't have
it; after all----

BOBBIE. After all what?--He was perfectly rotten to mother, and never
came near her for four years before his death. Why should we be charming
and reverent about him just because he's our father. When I saw him I
hated him, and his treatment of mum hasn't made me like him any better,
I can tell you.

EVANGELINE. But still, Bobbie, he was _our father_, and mother was fond
of him--(BOBBIE. Ha!)--once, anyhow there's nothing to be gained by
running him down.

SYLVIA. The point is, have we enough money to keep on as we are, or
haven't we?

JOYCE (_quickly_). The only one who knows is mother, and she won't say.

SYLVIA. We haven't asked her yet; we'll make her say. Where is she?

BOBBIE. Up in her room, I think.

SYLVIA. Go and fetch her down. (_Puts sewing on form._)

BOBBIE. What, now?

SYLVIA. Yes, _now_.

BOBBIE. Oh, no!

SYLVIA AND EVANGELINE. Yes, go along.

BOBBIE. Righto! we'll tackle her straight away.

    (_Exit_ BOBBIE _upstairs._)

JOYCE (_goes to_ EVANGELINE). Do--do you think we may have to leave this
house?

SYLVIA. I don't know.

JOYCE. I should simply hate that. (_Sits on right end of form._)

EVANGELINE. So should we all--it would be miserable.

SYLVIA. Think how awful it must be for mother.

JOYCE. I say, don't you think Oliver ought to be here--if anything's
going to happen? He's the eldest.

SYLVIA. He wouldn't be any help. He cares for nothing but the inside of
motors and the outside of Maisie Stuart; he's not observant enough to
know her inside.

EVANGELINE. What a perfectly horrible thing to say!

SYLVIA. Well, it's absolutely true; he thinks she's everything that's
good and noble, when all the time she's painfully ordinary and a bit of
a cat; what fools men are.

JOYCE (_blasé_). One can't help falling in love.

    (_Enter_ MRS. DERMOTT _downstairs followed by_ BOBBIE; _she is a pretty
    little woman with rather a plaintive manner._)

MRS. DERMOTT (_as she descends_). Bobbie says you all want to talk to
me! What's the matter, darlings? (_Comes_ C.)

SYLVIA. That's what we want to know, mum; come on now, out with it.
You've been looking worried for ever so long.

    (BOBBIE _stays at foot of stairs._)

MRS. DERMOTT. I don't know what you mean, Sylvia dear I----

SYLVIA. Now listen to me, mother; you've got something on your mind,
that's obvious to any one; you're not a bit good at hiding your
feelings. Surely we're all old enough to share the worry, whatever it
is.

MRS. DERMOTT. (_kissing her_). Silly old darlings--it's true I have been
a little worried--you see, we're ruined.

    SYLVIA.     }
    EVANGELINE. } Mother!
    BOBBIE.     }
    JOYCE.      }

    (_The girls rise._)

MRS. DERMOTT (_shaking her head sadly_). Yes, we're ruined; we haven't a
penny. (_Moves to chair below table._)

SYLVIA. Why didn't you tell us before?

MRS. DERMOTT (_sitting_). I only knew it myself this morning, I had a
letter from Tibbets; he's been through all the papers and things.

EVANGELINE. Father's papers?

MRS. DERMOTT. I suppose so, dear. There wouldn't be any others, would
there?

BOBBIE (_coming down_). But mother, what did he say, how did he put it?

MRS. DERMOTT. I really forget--but I know it worried me dreadfully.

    (JOYCE _sits on form._)

EVANGELINE. And we literally haven't a penny?

MRS. DERMOTT. Well, only fifteen hundred a year; it's almost as bad.

    (EVANGELINE _sits in armchair._)

JOYCE. Shall we have to give up the house?

MRS. DERMOTT. I'm afraid so, darling; you see there are taxes and rates
and things. Tibbets knows all about it--he's coming down to-night.

SYLVIA. Can't Uncle Daniel do anything?

    (BOBBIE _sits on table._)

MRS. DERMOTT. He's my only hope. I cabled to South America three weeks
ago. I didn't know the worst then, but I felt I wanted some one to lean
on--after all, his cheque was a great help.

JOYCE. Is he very, very rich?

MRS. DERMOTT. He must be, he's a bachelor, and he has a ranch and a mine
and things.

BOBBIE. Has he answered your cable?

MRS. DERMOTT. No, but of course he may have been out prospecting or
broncho-breaking or something when it arrived. They live such restless
lives out there--oh, no, I don't think he'll fail me, he's my only
brother.

EVANGELINE. I wonder how much he _has_ got.

MRS. DERMOTT. Perhaps Tibbets will know--we'll ask him.

BOBBIE. Why, is he Uncle Daniel's lawyer as well?

MRS. DERMOTT. No, dear, but you know lawyers are always clever at
knowing other people's business--I shall never forget----

BOBBIE. Yes--but mother, what will happen if he _isn't_ rich, and
doesn't help us after all?

MRS. DERMOTT. I really don't know, darling. It's terribly upsetting,
isn't it?

JOYCE. It will be _awful_ having to give up the house.

MRS. DERMOTT. Well, Tibbets says we needn't for another two years. It's
paid for until then or something.

SYLVIA (_sits on the Chesterfield_). Thank heaven! What a relief!

MRS. DERMOTT. But we shall have to be awfully careful. Oh, darlings
(_she breaks down_), thank God I've got you. (_Weeps on_ BOBBIE'S
_knee._)

SYLVIA. Buck up mother, it isn't as bad as all that. After all, we can
work.

BOBBIE (_without enthusiasm_). Yes, we can work. (_Moving from table to_
R.)

EVANGELINE. I shall write things, really artistic little fragments----

BOBBIE. We want to make money, Vangy.

MRS. DERMOTT. But, darlings, you know you can't make money unless you're
Socialists and belong to Unions and things.

EVANGELINE. Well, I know _I_ should make money in time. There's a great
demand for really good stuff now.

SYLVIA. Do you think yours _is_ really good?

EVANGELINE. I'm sure it is.

    (MRS. DERMOTT _reads a magazine._)

BOBBIE. Well, God help the bad.

EVANGELINE (_rising_). Look here, Bobbie, I'm tired of your silly
jeering at me. Just stop trying to be funny. (_Moves to_ L.C.)

BOBBIE (_hotly_). I realize the futility of endeavour when I see how
funny others can be _without_ trying (_following her._)

EVANGELINE. Ill-bred little pip squeak!

JOYCE (_jumping up; firing_). He's not a pip squeak. Fanny Harris says
he's the most good-looking boy she's ever seen.

EVANGELINE. She can't have seen many then. (_Moves to fireplace._)

BOBBIE. Oh! Don't betray your jealousy of my looks, Evangeline. It's so
degrading.

EVANGELINE. I tell you----

MRS. DERMOTT. Children, stop quarelling at once. I think it's most
inconsiderate of you under the circumstances.

    (BOBBIE _sits on table back to audience. There is silence for a moment.
    Enter_ GRIGGS _from hall with a telegram_.)

GRIGGS. For you, madam.

    (_All show an interest._)

MRS. DERMOTT (_taking it_). Thank you, Griggs. (_She opens it and reads
it._) There is no answer, Griggs.

    (_Exit_ GRIGGS, R.)

My dears!

JOYCE. What is it, mother, quick?

MRS. DERMOTT (_reading_). Arrive this afternoon--about tea time, Daniel.

SYLVIA. Uncle Daniel!

EVANGELINE. In England!

MRS. DERMOTT. I suppose so. It was handed in at Charing Cross.

BOBBIE. What luck! (_Gets off table._)

MRS. DERMOTT. We're saved--oh, my darlings! (_She breaks down again._)

JOYCE. He may not have any money after all.

MRS. DERMOTT. He'd never have got across so quickly if he hadn't. (_She
sniffs._) Oh, it's too, too wonderful--I have not seen him for six
years.

BOBBIE. As a matter of fact it is jolly decent of him to be so prompt.

MRS. DERMOTT. Where's Oliver? He ought to be here to welcome him too.

BOBBIE (C.). Oliver has gone for a brisk walk, to keep fit he said, as
if it made any difference whether he kept fit or not.

MRS. DERMOTT. It makes a lot of difference, dear. He is the athletic one
of the family. (BOBBIE _is annoyed_.) I don't like the way you speak of
him, Bobbie. We can't all compose songs and be brilliant. You must try
and cultivate a little toleration for others, darling. (OLIVER _passes
window from_ L.) Oliver is a great comfort to me. Tibbets only said----

EVANGELINE (_glancing out of the window_). Here he is, anyhow. Who's
going to tell him the news?

MRS. DERMOTT (_rising, goes to stairs_). Well, I've no time now, I must
change my dress for Daniel. Turn on the lights, Bobbie; make everything
look as cosy and festive as you can. (_On stairs._) Run into the
kitchen, Joyce dear, and tell cook to make an extra supply of hot cakes
for tea. I'm sure Daniel will love them after being so long abroad and
living on venison and bully beef and things. (_Ascending, then turns._)
You will all wash before tea, won't you, darlings? It's always so
important to make a good first impression, and he hasn't seen any of you
since you've been grown up. (_Glances in mirror._) Oh! look at my face,
I look quite happy now.

    (_Exit_ MRS. DERMOTT _upstairs._)

SYLVIA. I think mother is rather mixing up North and South America; they
don't have such awful hardships where Uncle Daniel comes from.

    (_Enter_ OLIVER _from hall; he is a thick-set, determined-looking man
    of twenty-five._)

OLIVER. Hallo! (_Crossing to table_, L.C.)

JOYCE (_going to him, excitedly_). Something wonderful has happened,
Oliver.

OLIVER. What is it?

JOYCE. We're ruined. I've just got to go and order extra teacakes. Isn't
it all thrilling?

    (_Exit_ JOYCE _into hall._)

OLIVER. What on earth's she talking about?

SYLVIA. It's perfectly true. We haven't any money, but Uncle Daniel's
coming to-day, and we're sure he'll help us.

OLIVER (_dazed_). Haven't any money, but----

EVANGELINE (_at fire_). Mother's been rather vague as usual, but we
gather that we're practically penniless, and that we shall have to give
up the house after two years unless something happens.

SYLVIA. Luckily Uncle Daniel is happening--this afternoon. Mother's just
had a wire from him--he's certain to be rich, mother says.

    (BOBBIE _leaning against stairs._)

OLIVER. Why?

SYLVIA. Because he's a bachelor, and has been living in South America
for five years.

BOBBIE. Six years.

SYLVIA. Five years.

BOBBIE. Six years--mother said so.

SYLVIA. No, she didn't----

OLIVER. Well, it doesn't matter. How does mother know we're penniless?

BOBBIE (_coming_ C.). She heard from Tibbets this morning, he's coming
down to-night.

OLIVER (_sinking into chair_). By Jove, what a muddle!

    (JOYCE _re-enters, crosses to chair_ L.C.,
     _takes coat and exits up stairs._)

SYLVIA. It's all quite clear when you think it out.

BOBBIE (C.). We've all got to wash and make ourselves look clean and
sweet for Uncle Daniel. Your collar's filthy; you'd better go and change
it quickly. He may be here at any minute.

SYLVIA. Turn on the lights, Bobbie--and do let's hurry.

    (BOBBIE _turns up the lights and goes upstairs followed by_ OLIVER.
    EVANGELINE _goes up slowly after them._)

OLIVER. What a muddle! What a muddle! (_As he crosses to stairs._)

EVANGELINE (_following him_). What a muddle! What a muddle! (_Turns on
stairs._) Shall I put on my emerald green tea gown? (_To_ SYLVIA.)

SYLVIA. No, dear; it's ever so much too old for you.

EVANGELINE (_piqued_). I don't think it's at all too old for me. I shall
certainly put it on.

    (_She disappears upstairs._ SYLVIA _is left alone. Suddenly there comes
    a loud peal at the front door bell._ SYLVIA _sees some half-made
    crêpe-de-chine underclothes on form, takes them, hides them under
    cushions on window seat_ L. _Draws curtains to window_ L., _then_
    L.C. _as enter_ GRIGGS, _followed by_ UNCLE DANIEL _in an opulent-looking
    fur coat--he is a tall, stoutish man of about forty-five._
    SYLVIA _shrinks back by stairs._)

GRIGGS (_assisting him off with his coat_). If you will wait, sir, I'll
tell Mrs. Dermott you are here.

DANIEL. Thank you. (_Goes round to fireplace, warms hands, turns._)

    (GRIGGS _has meanwhile taken his coat into the lobby._ SYLVIA _creeps
    cautiously from behind and goes towards stairs._ DANIEL _looks
    round and sees her. He watches her in silence for a moment, as
    she goes up a few stairs._)

Excuse me--have you been stealing anything?

SYLVIA (_jumping_). Oh, Uncle Daniel--I didn't want you to see me.

DANIEL. Why not?

SYLVIA. I wanted to change my frock and do my hair.

DANIEL. It looks quite charming as it is--I suppose you are Evangeline?

SYLVIA. No I'm not, I'm Sylvia. (_Coming to him._)

DANIEL (_below Chesterfield_). Sylvia! I didn't know there was a Sylvia.

SYLVIA (R.C., _laughing_). I was having concussion last time you were
here, having cut my head open on a door scraper at school. Naturally you
wouldn't remember me.

DANIEL. Oh, but I do now, you were the sole topic of conversation at
lunch. How foolish of me to have let you slip my memory. Where are all
the others?

SYLVIA. They're upstairs improving on the Almighty's conception of them
as much as possible in your honour; I was just going to do the same when
you caught me.

DANIEL. You looked extraordinarily furtive.

SYLVIA. And untidy. We've just been having a sort of family conference.
It was very heating.

DANIEL. I think you might have waited for me--I'm a most important
factor. What were you discussing?

SYLVIA. Oh--er--ways and means.

DANIEL. I see, it's as bad as that!

SYLVIA. But you wait until mother comes. She'll explain everything. I'll
go and hurry her up. (_She goes up stairs._)

DANIEL. Don't leave me all alone. I'm a timid creature.

SYLVIA (_turns_). After all that Broncho busting! I don't think!

    (_Exit_ SYLVIA _upstairs._)

DANIEL. Broncho busting! What on earth does she mean? (_He walks slowly
to fireplace and stands with his back to it._)

    (_Enter_ MRS. DERMOTT _down stairs. They meet_ C.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Danny! Danny! darling----

DANIEL (C.). Anne! (_He kisses her fondly._)

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, my dear, you have been away such a long time.

DANIEL (_he turns her round to_ R.). Well, this is splendid--you do look
fit! Do you know I've often longed to be home. I've imagined winter
afternoons just like this--with a nice crackly fire and tea and muffins
in the grate. (_Pulling her on Chesterfield._)

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh well, they're not in the grate yet, dear, but they will
be soon. I ordered a special lot because I knew you loved them.

    (_He sits beside her; she is nearest the fire._)

MRS. DERMOTT. I can never thank you enough for sending the cheque,
Danny.

DANIEL. Oh, rubbish.

MRS. DERMOTT. It was the greatest help in the world.

DANIEL. I started for home the very moment I heard you were in trouble;
has everything been very, very trying?

MRS. DERMOTT. Only during the last few days. You see, George hadn't been
near me for four years before he died, so it wasn't such a terrible
shock as it might have been. Of course, he was my husband, and it was
upsetting, but still----

DANIEL. He behaved like a beast to you, and----

MRS. DERMOTT. Well, he's dead now--but don't let's discuss my affairs.
Tell me about yourself; what have you been doing?

DANIEL. That can wait. Considering that the sole object of my coming to
England was to help you, I think we ought to concentrate. Tell me now,
has he left you very badly off?

MRS. DERMOTT. Well, Tibbets says we're ruined, but you know what Tibbets
is. Such a pessimist!

DANIEL. Tibbets?

MRS. DERMOTT. Yes, our lawyer, you know.

DANIEL. Do I? How much have you got?

MRS. DERMOTT. I think Tibbets said about fifteen hundred; of course we
can't keep the house and family going on that, can we?

DANIEL. Of course we can't. What do the children intend to do?

MRS. DERMOTT. Well, they don't quite know, poor darlings.

DANIEL. Poor darlings! Is Oliver at home?

MRS. DERMOTT. Yes. He's going to be a barrister or an engineer. He's
very vague about it, but has been learning Pelmanism, so I know he's
going to be something.

DANIEL. I see. Bobbie?

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, Bobbie, he's so young. Of course, it's not his fault.

DANIEL. Naturally.

MRS. DERMOTT. He composes, you know--beautiful little songs,--mostly
about moonlight. Evangeline writes the words. She is _very_ artistic,
and----

DANIEL. What does Sylvia do?

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, she helps me.

DANIEL. In what way?

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh--er--she--well--she does the flowers, and comes calling
with me, and she's _invaluable_ at jumble sales, when we have them.

DANIEL. And the youngest?

MRS. DERMOTT. Joyce? Oh, she's still at school--she's going to Roedean
next year to be finished.

DANIEL. Finished? Oh, I see! Well! They sound a pretty hopeless lot.

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, Danny, how can you be so horrid? Why, they're all
darlings! You can't expect them to work. They've not been brought up to
it.

DANIEL. I think it's about time they started.

    (_Enter_ EVANGELINE _down stairs, followed by_ OLIVER, BOBBIE _and_
    JOYCE. SYLVIA _comes last._)

MRS. DERMOTT (_rising, back to audience_). Here they are. Children this
is Uncle Daniel.

    (DANIEL _rises, stands_ L. _of Chesterfield._)

EVANGELINE (_gracefully embracing him_). I remember you quite well.

DANIEL. Splendid. Evangeline?

EVANGELINE. Yes, Evangeline. (_Crosses to fire, down stage._)

OLIVER (_shaking hands_). So do I. (_Moves to above_ EVANGELINE.)

BOBBIE (_shaking hands_). I don't remember you a bit, but I may later
when we all start reminiscencing. (_Goes_ L.)

JOYCE (_kissing him_). We've been simply longing for you to come home.

DANIEL. Little Joyce----SPACELEFT(_Joyce moves to top of table_)

SYLVIA (_kissing him_). D'you know you haven't changed a bit since I
last saw you!

    (DANIEL _smiles at her._)

DANIEL. May I say that it gives me immeasurable joy to be here once more
in the bosom of my family. (_Sits on Chesterfield._)

BOBBIE. We're not really your family, but never mind.

DANIEL. I don't. But I have looked forward to this moment through the
long sun-scorched nights with the great dome of the sky above me--shapes
have drifted out of the surrounding blackness and beckoned to me, crying
"Home, home" in depressing voices. I have heard the sand-bug calling to
its mate. "Home," it said, and bit me----

    (SYLVIA _sits on arm of chair_, R.C.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Silly old darling, Danny. (_Sits_ R. _of Chesterfield_.)

JOYCE. What did you do out there, Uncle?

DANIEL. Lots of things--gold mining, ranching, auction----

BOBBIE. Auction? (_Leaning on table._)

MRS. DERMOTT. Is it a very wonderful life, Danny?

DANIEL. Occasionally--on good days.

BOBBIE. How do you mean, good days?

DANIEL (_rather embarrassed_). Well--er--just good days.

MRS. DERMOTT. Do come and sit down, all of you; you look so terribly
restless.

    (_They sit,_ OLIVER _on arm of Chesterfield,_ JOYCE _crosses to form_ R.,
    EVANGELINE _on club-fender,_ BOBBIE _chair below table,_ SYLVIA
    _arm-chair._)

DANIEL. I feel restless. It must be the home surroundings after all
these years.

BOBBIE. I should love to go abroad.

DANIEL. It would make a man of you, my boy.

BOBBIE. I should simply loathe that.

DANIEL. So should I between ourselves, but still----. Oh, by the way,
I--I have something rather important to say to you, you must prepare
yourselves for a shock--I--I----SPACELEFT(_He dabs his eyes with his
handkerchief._)

MRS. DERMOTT. What on earth is it, Danny?

DANIEL. I--I----SPACELEFT(_Another dab._)

SYLVIA. Oh, uncle, tell us.

DANIEL. I--er--it's this. I consulted my doctor just before I sailed.

MRS. DERMOTT. Yes?

DANIEL. He--he gave me just three years to live.

MRS. DERMOTT. Danny, what do you mean?

DANIEL (_firmly_). It's true--three years, he said.

MRS. DERMOTT. It's the most awful thing. Tell us why--what's the matter
with you? (_Quickly._)

DANIEL (_rather staggered_). The matter with me?

MRS. DERMOTT. Yes, of course, you must see a specialist at once.

DANIEL (_pulling himself together dramatically_). No specialist in the
world could ever do me any good.

MRS. DERMOTT. Well, what is it? For God's sake tell us!

DANIEL (_takes big breath_). Sleeping sickness! (_Smiles broadly at_
MRS. DERMOTT.)

MRS. DERMOTT. What!! (_They all move._)

DANIEL. Yes, it's frightfully prevalent out there.

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, Danny, I hope its not infectious.

OLIVER. Sleeping sickness! By Jove!

DANIEL. Yes, I simply daren't go to sleep without an alarm clock.

MRS. DERMOTT. Danny darling, it's all too dreadful--I can't believe it.

BOBBIE (_rising_). But, uncle, I thought sleeping sickness polished you
off in one night.

DANIEL (_embarrassed_). So it does, but that one night won't happen to
me for three years. The doctor says so. He knows. You see I've got it
internally or something.

MRS. DERMOTT (_firmly_). You must never go back there--you shall stay
with us until--until--the end----

    (_She breaks down, sobs on_ DANIEL'S _shoulder._)

SYLVIA (_goes behind Chesterfield_). Oh, mother darling, don't cry.
(_She looks at_ DANIEL _rather angrily._)

DANIEL (_rising_). I'm sorry I have upset you, Anne. But I have told
you this to-day with a purpose in my mind. (_Moving to_ C.)

OLIVER. A purpose?

DANIEL (L. _of arm-chair_). Yes, I have a few words to say to you
all--words which, though they may sound a little mercenary, are in
reality prompted by very deep feeling.

MRS. DERMOTT. Poor Danny.

DANIEL. Ssh! (_waves her to silence_). It may seem to all of you "banal"
in the extreme to talk of money on an occasion such as this, but believe
me, it's best to get it over. I came over to England this time, as I
have said, with a purpose--one might almost say a double purpose.
Firstly, to comfort my sister, your dear mother, in her hour
of--er--tribulation. (_He pauses._) If you would just say "yes" or
"quite so" whenever I pause, it would help me enormously.

SYLVIA. All right, we will.

DANIEL. Thank you, you are a good girl. Where was I?

BOBBIE. Tribulation.

EVANGELINE. Hour of tribulation (_in his tone._)

DANIEL.SPACELEFT----hour of tribulation. (_He pauses._)

    SYLVIA. } Yes.
    BOBBIE. } Quite so.

DANIEL. I thank you. And secondly, to feast my eyes, perhaps for the
last time on earth, upon you children--also to talk to you seriously,
for after all, you're my only relatives in the world.

    SYLVIA. } Yes, yes.
    BOBBIE. } Quite so.

DANIEL. I am as you may have guessed, a wealthy man----

EVERYONE (_eagerly_). Yes, yes! (_Movement from all._)

DANIEL. And out there (_he nods his head descriptively_) we don't get
much chance of spending our money----

    BOBBIE. } Quite so.
    OLIVER. } No, no!

DANIEL. And now I come to the point. At the end of three years I shall
be no more.

EVANGELINE. Quite so!

OTHERS. Sh!!

    (MRS. DERMOTT _sniffs._)

DANIEL. Bear up, Anne; we must all die sometime.

MRS. DERMOTT. Yes, but not of sleeping sickness. It's so horrible.
Anything else--but not sleeping sickness.

DANIEL. I believe it is very comfortable, but that is neither here nor
there. What I was going to say was this, I am a firm believer in the
old-fashioned laws of entail. I have no patience with this modern way of
dividing up legacies between large numbers of people----

SYLVIA (_with interest_). Yes, yes?

BOBBIE (_with equal interest_). Quite so!

DANIEL. When I pass into the great beyond (MRS. DERMOTT _sniffs. He is
obviously rather pleased with that remark, so he repeats it_)--pass into
the great beyond, I intend to leave the whole bulk of my fortune to the
one of you who has made good----

OLIVER. How do you mean "Made good"?

DANIEL. I mean make good your position in the world, justify your
existence, carve for yourself a niche in the Temple of
Fame----SPACELEFT(_Turning_ R.)

BOBBIE (_very quickly and brightly_). Yes, yes?

DANIEL (_turns, sharply_). That was entirely unnecessary, I didn't
pause.

BOBBIE. Sorry.

    (_They are all self-conscious as he addresses them._)

DANIEL. What is the use of idling through life, frittering away your
youth, I repeat, frittering away your youth, when you might be working
to achieve some great and noble end? (OLIVER _embarrassed_) You, Oliver,
you might in time be a great inventor, and know all about the insides of
the most complicated machines. You, Evangeline (EVANGELINE _rises, poses
by fireplace, one hand on mantel._ JOYCE _laughs--she pulls her hair_),
might develop into a great poetess; your mother tells me that you
already write verses about the moonlight. They all start like that, only
unfortunately some of them stay like it. (_She sits again._) You,
Bobbie, you are artistic, too, you might without undue strain become a
world famed composer, artist, actor. (BOBBIE _rises, moves down_ L.,
_posing as actor._) Sylvia, for you I foresee a marvellous career as a
decorative designer. You already arrange flowers and jumble sales--and
last, but not by any means least, little Joyce (JOYCE _hangs her head,
polishes her nails_), now on the very threshold of life. What are you
going to do with yourself? Sit at home and wait for a nice husband with
mediocre prospects and perhaps an over-developed Adam's apple? Never,
never! You too must rise and go forth--the world is calling to you. Do
what you will. I can't think of a career for you at the moment, but no
matter. I only want to impress upon you all the necessity of making good
at something--make good, make good, make good! And the one I consider
has done best for himself and the family name, to him--or her--I will
bequeath every penny I possess. (_Goes up four stairs._)

    OLIVER     }   (_rising and all talking at once_). But look here----
    EVANGELINE.}   Uncle dear, of course----
    BOBBIE.    }   How in Heaven's name are we to----
    SYLVIA.    }   Really I don't quite see----
    JOYCE.     }   It's going to be very difficult----

    (_All looking towards_ DANIEL, _the positions are now as follows:_
     --DANIEL, _up four stairs._ MRS. DERMOTT _extreme_ R. SYLVIA _up_
     R.C. OLIVER _down_ R.C. EVANGELINE _down_ C. JOYCE _up_ L.C..
     BOBBIE _down_ L.)

DANIEL (_holding up his hand._) Please--couldn't you possibly speak one
at a time? Sylvia? (_Motions to her._)

SYLVIA (_stepping forward_). What we want to know, uncle, is how on
earth are we to start?

    (_They all nod._)


DANIEL (_smiling benignly, arms outstretched_). I'll leave it to you!

    _All turn to audience open-mouthed as the_ CURTAIN _descends._



ACT II.

    _The_ SCENE _is the same as Act I. Eighteen months have elapsed.
    All the windows are wide open. It is a glorious summer day.
    Alterations in the furniture are noted at the end of the play. At
    the table_ L. EVANGELINE _is seated when the_ CURTAIN _rises,
    typewriting slowly but firmly. There are a lot of papers strewn
    about. On the piano there is a sort of a pastry board to which is
    affixed a working model of a motor engine in miniature._ JOYCE _is
    seated at table_ L.C. _laboriously copying out a sheet of music on
    to some manuscript paper._


JOYCE (_showing music_). Is it a crotchet or a quaver that has a waggle
on the end of it?

EVANGELINE. I haven't the remotest idea.

JOYCE. I do think Bobbie might write them a little more distinctly, it's
awfully difficult to copy.

    (JOYCE _hums._)

EVANGELINE. I don't wish to appear surly or disagreeable to my younger
sister, but if you don't stop squawking I shall hurl something at you.

JOYCE. Oh, all right. (_She hums louder._)

EVANGELINE (_after a short pause_). Joyce, you really are maddening; you
know perfectly well that I have to revise and retype an entire short
story which in itself is a nerve-racking job, and all you do is to
burble and sing, and gabble. Can't you be quiet?

JOYCE. Why don't you go and work in your own room?

EVANGELINE. Because it would be neither comfortable or proper with three
inquisitive painters there, running up and down the kitchen steps.

JOYCE. Oh, I'd forgotten.

    (JOYCE _hums again._)

EVANGELINE. But if you desire to continue your noises, may I suggest
that you do your music in the summer house. There's a nice firm table
there.

JOYCE. No thanks, I'm quite comfy here.

EVANGELINE. Well, I'm sorry to hear it.

    (_Enter_ MRS. DERMOTT _from hall. Goes to table and tidies papers._)

MRS. DERMOTT. Vangy dear, I _do_ think you might have made the hall look
a little tidier. We shall have Mrs. Crombie and Faith here soon. It
really is tiresome of Bobbie to have made me ask them, specially as
Uncle Daniel's coming too. They'll be terribly in the way and we shall
have to make conversation instead of listening to Uncle Daniel's
thrilling stories. (_Goes to Chesterfield and tidies papers._)

EVANGELINE. I can't think why you didn't wire and put them off
yesterday.

MRS. DERMOTT. Because Bobbie would have been miserable and sulky.

EVANGELINE. He's very inconsiderate. I don't think you ought to give in
to him so much, mother; it only makes him worse. What he can see in that
tiresome little cat beats me.

JOYCE. She's awfully pretty.

    (MRS. DERMOTT _merely takes papers from one place to another, frequently
    dropping some, as she is "tidying up."_)

EVANGELINE. And entirely brainless.

JOYCE. Well, we can be thankful that Mrs. Crombie isn't staying over the
week-end. One day of her is bad enough.

MRS. DERMOTT (_tidying papers on form_). You mustn't talk like that,
dear. After all they are our guests and Bobbie's friends, and we must be
kind even if we don't like them very much. (_Picking up waste paper
basket from the front of table._) I'm only worrying because darling
Daniel may be hurt at our having strangers in the house when he arrives.

JOYCE. Oh, Uncle Dan won't mind. He's probably used to face polar bears
and things in his shack.

EVANGELINE. But it seems hard luck to leave raging bears on one side of
the Atlantic and meet Mrs. Crombie on the other.

    (JOYCE _goes into screams of laughter and then chokes._)

MRS. DERMOTT (_anxiously_). Darling--do be careful. (_Drops papers and
puts waste paper basket through window_ L.C. _Enter_ BOBBIE
_downstairs._ MRS. DERMOTT _continues to tidy up room._)

BOBBIE. What's the matter?

EVANGELINE. Nothing much, only your crochets and quavers have sent our
little ray of sunshine into a rapid decline.

BOBBIE. Have you done it?

JOYCE (_weakly_). The top treble thing's a little wobbly, but I'll ink
it over afterwards.

    (MRS. DERMOTT _is tidying window seat._)

BOBBIE (_kissing her hurriedly and loudly_). Thanks, you're a lamb. I'll
try it now.

EVANGELINE. Oh! Bobbie, don't try it now!

BOBBIE. I shall. (_He goes to piano, then turns furiously._) Well,
really it is the _limit_. Why can't Oliver keep his rotten engine in the
shed. It will scratch all the polish. (_He takes the model off piano and
bangs it on to the floor._)

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, Bobbie, don't break that thing. Oliver's _so_ proud of
it. I can't think why.

BOBBIE. Well, I wish he'd go and be proud of it somewhere else. Look
here, three distinct scratches.

MRS. DERMOTT. Never mind dear. Griggs will get them out with sandpaper
or something.

    (BOBBIE _commences to play over the manuscript_ JOYCE _has just
    copied. Occasionally he stops and alters something with a pencil.
    No one takes any notice. The dialogue goes on just the same._)

(_Coming down to_ EVANGELINE.) If you've nearly finished, Vangy dear, do
put the typewriter away. It looks so untidy.

EVANGELINE (_rather crossly, rising_). Of course I quite see that until
my room's done, I shall never be able to do any work at all. (_Puts
cover on typewriter, then pushes table up to back_ L.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Don't be cross, darling. You know how worried I am over
everything this morning. It's one long rush.

EVANGELINE (_kissing her_). Sorry dear. I quite understand, only I must
have this story sent to the _Clarion_ by Tuesday. If not, it won't be
out until the August number.

MRS. DERMOTT. You're a dear darling, and you work terribly hard. I only
hope you won't overdo it.

EVANGELINE. Oh no, these stories are only pot boilers. They just fill in
the time until my next novel is ready.

BOBBIE (_suddenly._). Listen, don't you think this is a ripping change?
(_He plays a few chords. He then sits back complacently._)

MRS. DERMOTT. Perfectly lovely, darling.

EVANGELINE. It sounds very much like everything else to me.

BOBBIE. Only because you haven't got any ear. As a matter of fact
they're quite good chords. I shall put them into the new tomb-stone
cycle.

EVANGELINE. Don't alter many of my words, will you?

BOBBIE. Not many, but the bit about "worms gnawing the grave of my
beloved" is a little too gloomy. Couldn't you make it butterflies?

    (JOYCE _giggles._)

EVANGELINE. Don't be silly, Bobbie! butterflies don't live in graves.
Well, you can use the first two verses as they are.

BOBBIE. I will.

    (_He starts to play again_, MRS. DERMOTT _is just going towards the
    stairs when there comes a ring and knock at the front door._)

JOYCE (_rising_). My goodness, the Crombies--I must go and wash. I'm
covered in ink. (_Going to stairs._)

EVANGELINE (_down_ L. _of table_). I shouldn't worry, dear, they'll be
so overdressed themselves they will amply make up for any deficiencies
in our appearances.

JOYCE. I think I'd better go all the same. I must do my hair.

BOBBIE. Don't dazzle them too much, dear.

    (_Exit_ JOYCE _upstairs._ GRIGGS _crosses in corridor
      to open front door._)

EVANGELINE (_going to corridor_). I'll be in presently, mother. I've
left my note-book in the summer house, and I'm afraid of forgetting it.

BOBBIE (_still at piano_). You'll meet them on the doorstep.

EVANGELINE. No, I shan't. I'm going through the drawing room window.

    (_Exit_ EVANGELINE, R.)

MRS. DERMOTT (C.). Really it's most inconsiderate of her to leave me
alone like this. Bobbie darling----SPACELEFT(BOBBIE _crosses to her,
kisses her._)

    (_Re-enter_ GRIGGS.)

GRIGGS. Mrs. Crombie, Miss Faith Crombie.

    (_Enter_ MRS. CROMBIE, _and_ FAITH. MRS. CROMBIE _is a well-preserved,
    rather flashy woman._ FAITH _is a very pretty girl, perhaps
    a shade too self-assured. She is all right when by herself, but when
    compared with the Dermott girls, there is obviously a little something
    lacking._)

MRS. DERMOTT (_going to her, drops quantity of papers_). I'm so glad you
were able to come, dear Mrs. Crombie. How are you, Faith dear? (FAITH
_giggles, goes down to Chesterfield._) I do hope you weren't too shaken
up in the Ford, but Sylvia has taken the car up to Town to meet my
brother.

    (BOBBIE _kicks papers up stage, then moves to bottom of table._)

MRS. CROMBIE (_up_ R.C.). Not at all, we didn't expect to be met at all.
It's such a little way. Well, Bobbie, have you been writing any more
successes?

BOBBIE (_laughing_). I think I've done one or two bad enough to be good.

FAITH. Oh, mother, isn't he cynical?

MRS. DERMOTT (C.). He always talks like that. Fancy, he says his Rose
song is bad. Fancy that wonderful Rose song. I'm always humming it.
(_Hums few notes of "The Rosary,"_ BOBBIE _attempting to stop her._)
Well, I forget it now, but I love it.

FAITH (_down_ R.). I love it too.

BOBBIE (_down_ L.). Do you really?

FAITH. Of course. (_Moves to piano._)

MRS. DERMOTT. Now then, shall we all go out into the garden? Oliver and
Vangy are somewhere about. We always sit under the big cedar in the
afternoons. It's so beautifully shady.

MRS. CROMBIE (_walking towards door with_ MRS. DERMOTT). I envy you your
garden so much, Mrs. Dermott. I have about two rose bushes and a tennis
net. Faith insists on that.

MRS. DERMOTT. You're lucky even to have a small garden in London.

MRS. CROMBIE (_as they go off_). Yes, I suppose we are, you see...

    (_Exeunt to garden._)

FAITH. Come on, Bobbie. (_Coming_ C.)

BOBBIE. No, stay here and talk to me. (_Goes to her and takes her
hand._)

FAITH. Mother will only come back and fetch me.

BOBBIE. No, she won't. They're both jawing quite happily. I have been so
looking forward to to-day.

FAITH. So have I.

BOBBIE. I was terrified that you'd wire or something to say you couldn't
come.

FAITH. Silly Bobbie.

BOBBIE. Do you realize it's a whole week since I've seen you. (_Dropping
her hand._) I've got something for you.

FAITH (_eagerly_). What is it?

BOBBIE. A song.

FAITH (_without enthusiasm_). Oh.

BOBBIE. Shall I play it?

FAITH (_moves to_ R. _of table._) Yes, do.

    (_Enter_ JOYCE _downstairs._)

BOBBIE. Damn.

JOYCE. Hullo, Faith, how are you? (_They kiss._) Come and play a single
with me.

BOBBIE (_at piano_). Oh, do go away, Joyce. I'm just going to play her a
song--her song.

FAITH. My song? (_Sits_ R. _of table._)

BOBBIE. I wrote it specially for her.

JOYCE. Aren't you lucky? Well, come out presently when you feel you're
rhapsodized enough. (_Crosses to corridor._)

BOBBIE. Oh, do shut up, Joy, and go away.

    (BOBBIE _starts to play._)

JOYCE. All right, keep calm. (_Exits and re-enter._) Have you seen my
racquet?

BOBBIE. No.

JOYCE. Oh, thanks, dear, for your kind help. Sorry I came in at the
wrong moment.

    (_Exit_ JOYCE _brightly._)

BOBBIE. Young sisters are a nuisance sometimes.

FAITH (_giggling_). They must be.

BOBBIE. Listen...

    (FAITH _reads magazine and takes no notice of song. He plays and
    sings a short love song._)

BOBBIE. There! Do you like it.

FAITH (_putting magazine down--ecstatically_). Oh, Bobbie, that's simply
too sweet for words. It has a something about it--did you really write
it for me?

BOBBIE (_ardently_). Every note.

    (BOBBIE _plays a well-known and hackneyed song._)

FAITH. Bobbie! that's wonderful! Wonderful!! It's the best you've ever
done. Now I _know_ you are clever.

BOBBIE (_coming_ C.). Yes! but I didn't write that one.

FAITH (_goes to him_). Oh! didn't you. Well, I know you would if you had
thought of it--but never mind----

FAITH. Can you play the Indian Love Lyrics--I never get tired of them!

BOBBIE. I don't want to play any more, I want to talk to you.

FAITH. What shall we talk about?

BOBBIE. I could tell you such wonderful things--but I don't know whether
you would understand.

FAITH (_pouting girlishly_). That's not very polite. (_Coming down
between armchair and Chesterfield._)

BOBBIE. I mean that you wouldn't understand unless you felt like I do.
Oh, I don't know how to put it--but do you?

FAITH (_coyly_). Do I what? (_Sits_ L. _of Chesterfield._)

BOBBIE (_by armchair--desperately_). Feel as if you could ever
care--even a little bit--for me?

FAITH. I haven't tried yet.

BOBBIE. Well, will you try?

FAITH. I must ask mother.

BOBBIE (_in anguish--moving slightly_ C.). Ask mother! But that's no
use. Why, my mother could never make me care for someone I didn't want
to, or not care for some one I did. Don't you see what I mean. If you
are ever going to care for me you will have to do it on your own. Love
isn't a thing to be ordered about at will. Love is wonderful--glorious,
but above all, it's individual--you can't guide it. Why, you might fall
in love with a taxi driver or a dope fiend----

FAITH. Mother would never allow me to _know_ a dope fiend.

BOBBIE (L. _of Chesterfield--firmly_). But if you _did_, your mother's
opinion wouldn't have any effect at all--not if you had it in your
heart--really and truly.

FAITH. Mother's disapproval might stop me falling in love.

BOBBIE. No, it mightn't--nothing could stop it. On the contrary it would
probably strengthen it; opposition always does.

FAITH (_doubtfully_). Do you think so?

BOBBIE. I'm sure of it, but anyhow, I'm going to tell you something.

    (MRS. DERMOTT _appears at window_ L.C. _with telegram._)

MRS. DERMOTT. Bobbie, darling----

BOBBIE (_irritably_). What is it, mother? (_Goes up to window._)

    (FAITH _powders her nose, etc._)

MRS. DERMOTT. I've just received the oddest telegram. We met the boy in
the drive. Do listen, I can't understand it. (_She reads._) "Come to
lunch Monday and discuss Royalties--Claverton." What _does_ it all mean?

BOBBIE. It's not for you, it's for Vangy. Claverton's her publisher.

MRS. DERMOTT. What on earth do they want to discuss Royalties for. It
sounds _so_ snobbish.

BOBBIE (_laughing_). Mother, at times you're inimitable. Royalties means
money, so much per cent., you know. We've explained it heaps of times.

MRS. DERMOTT. Of course, dear, how stupid of me; but still it is very
muddling, when they call things by fancy names like that. Put it on the
mantelpiece and give it to Vangy when she comes in.

    (_She disappears._)

BOBBIE. Mother never will grasp the smallest technicality.

    (_Coming down to fireplace, he puts the telegram on the mantelpiece._)

FAITH. You were going to tell me something.

BOBBIE. Yes, I know something that will banish your mother's disapproval
altogether....

FAITH. She hasn't disapproved yet. I only said she might.

BOBBIE. Well, she's pretty certain to want you to make a good match. I
know what mothers are, they all do. I'm not a good match I know, but
what she doesn't know is that I have wonderful prospects.

FAITH (_with interest_). Have you?

BOBBIE. I should never have proposed to you, otherwise.

FAITH. Well, you haven't proposed properly.

BOBBIE. I mean to when I've told you everything. Will you listen?
(_Moves to_ R. _of Chesterfield._)

FAITH. Of course.

BOBBIE. Well, have you ever met my Uncle Daniel? (_Sits by her on
Chesterfield._)

FAITH. No.

BOBBIE. You will to-day, he's a wonderful chap. Eighteen months ago his
doctor told him that he only had three years to live. (FAITH _giggles._)
And the day he came over from South America he gave us all a jolly good
talking to--quite right too.

FAITH. Why?

BOBBIE. You see father had left mother badly off, and we were all
drooping round doing nothing.

FAITH. Of course!

BOBBIE. Then Uncle Dan turned up and said he'd leave his whole fortune
to the one of us who made good in some way or other. Of course that
bucked us up no end, and look at us now--Vangy's raking in the dibs with
her novel, Sylvia's on a fair way to be a big film star, Oliver has just
been made assistant manager at the motor works, which is a good leg-up
considering that he started as an ordinary mechanic. I'm doing jolly
well out of my songs--specially "The Rose of Passion Sweet." Why they
buy the beastly thing I don't know. It's the worst of the lot.

FAITH. Oh! Bobbie!

BOBBIE. Even Joyce has walked off with all the prizes at school and
intends to be a great artist. You see we've all risen to the bait.
Eighteen months ago it seemed providential that Uncle should only have
such a short time to live, now I rather hate it, in spite of the money.
He's a dear, though of course we didn't see much of him. He went back to
South America soon after he'd seen us, but still he left an impression.
Here we are, all working like slaves, and helping mother to keep on the
house. It would have broken her heart to have given it up. There are my
prospects--a huge fortune, quite soon.

FAITH. Yes, but, Bobbie, one of the others might get it.

BOBBIE (_after looking round_). Ah, but there is just one more thing to
tell you. Two days before he sailed Uncle Dan took me aside and told
me--in the very strictest confidence of course--that I was the one out
of us all that he had his eye on; he said he'd practically made out his
will in my favour already....

FAITH (_ecstatically_). Bobbie!

BOBBIE. Yes, but promise you won't breathe a word to the others; of
course you understand he couldn't show favouritism openly.

FAITH. No--I see.

BOBBIE. Now that I have told you everything, Faith darling, will
you--will you marry me?

FAITH. Yes, Bobbie--

BOBBIE. Oh! (_He kisses her._)

FAITH.SPACELEFT--if mother says I may.

BOBBIE. Oh! (_mastering slight irritation_). But don't you think she
will, now?

FAITH. Yes, I think so.

BOBBIE (_sadly_). I don't believe you love me a bit.

FAITH (_filled with reproach_). Oh, Bobbie, how _can_ you.

BOBBIE. Well, do you?

    (MRS. CROMBIE _sees them through window_ L.C.)

FAITH. Of course, silly! (_She kisses him._)

BOBBIE (_joyfully--taking her hands_). Oh, Faith we'll have the most
wonderful times in the world--just you and me together; say you're
happy, say you're excited about it.

FAITH. I'm absolutely thrilled--I'm----SPACELEFT(BOBBIE _sees_ MRS.
CROMBIE. _Picks up papers on floor to hide his confusion._)

    (_Enter_ MRS. CROMBIE. _They get up._)

MRS. CROMBIE (_going_ L.C.). You ought to be ashamed of yourselves,
sitting indoors on a lovely day like this. (FAITH _giggles._) Heaven
knows we get little enough good air in town, without wasting it when we
get into the country.

FAITH. Mother, something important has happened. (_By front of couch._)

BOBBIE (_sincere_). Look here, Faith, you must let me tell her--it's my
job, I won't shirk it.

FAITH. Don't be silly, Bobbie, go into the garden, there's a
darling--I'll come out in a minute or two.

BOBBIE. But--but----

FAITH. Do be sensible.

BOBBIE. Oh, all right.... (_Goes up between Chesterfield and fireplace,
and exits into garden._)

MRS. CROMBIE. You are a little fool, Faith. Fancy flirting with
that--the elder one has much more in him.

FAITH. But I don't like Oliver so much, his chin's so scrubby.

MRS. CROMBIE. Oliver is a steady man with an assured career in front of
him--this one----

FAITH. Mother, we're engaged!

MRS. CROMBIE. Of course you are. That has been perfectly obvious from
the moment I passed the window. Now of course we have all the trouble of
getting you disengaged again. Really you are very tiresome. (_Below
table._)

FAITH. Mother, how can you be so horrid, you will _not_ understand!
Bobbie has ever so much better prospects than Oliver.

MRS. CROMBIE. Who said so? Bobbie?

FAITH. Yes, but it's true; his Uncle is going to leave him a huge
fortune in a year's time.

MRS. CROMBIE. Which Uncle? (_Takes out cigarette from case._)

FAITH. He's only got one--Daniel Davis. He landed in England yesterday,
and is coming down here to-day. Eighteen months ago the doctor said he
only had three years to live----

MRS. CROMBIE. I've been caught like that before. (_Crosses to
mantelpiece for matches._)

FAITH. Why, how do you mean?

MRS. CROMBIE. Experience has taught me one thing, and that is that in
this world people _never_ die when they're expected to. (_Sits on
Chesterfield._) The old man will probably live to a ripe old age, then
where would you be?

FAITH. Well, anyhow Bobbie makes quite a lot out of his songs. (_Sits in
armchair._)

MRS. CROMBIE. Don't be childish, Faith. You know perfectly well I should
never allow you to marry a man without a settled income--prospects never
kept anyone. Besides, if any of them get the uncle's money it will be
Oliver--he's the eldest. (_Lights cigarette._)

FAITH (_in chair_ L.C.). That's where you are wrong, mother. Just before
he sailed back to America, he took Bobbie aside and told him in
confidence that he was the one he meant to leave everything to. Of
course the others mustn't know because it would be favouritism--don't
you see?

MRS. CROMBIE. How much is he going to leave?

FAITH. I don't know, but it's sure to be a lot.

MRS. CROMBIE. Why?

FAITH. Well, he's a bachelor and--and he's been mining in South America.

MRS. CROMBIE. There are hundreds of bachelors in South America who are
absolutely penniless--whether they mine or not.

FAITH. You are horrid, mother. (_Sniffs._) I did feel so happy, and I
wanted you to be happy too.

MRS. CROMBIE (_with slight sarcasm_). It was sweet of you, dear. I
really can't work myself up to a high pitch of enthusiasm over an uncle
who though apparently in the last throes of a virulent disease is well
able to gallop backwards and forwards across the Atlantic gaily
arranging to leave an extremely problematic fortune to an extremely
scatter-brained young man.

FAITH. Bobbie isn't _scatter_-brained.

MRS. CROMBIE. The whole family is scatter-brained, and I expect the
uncle's the worst of the lot--he wouldn't have been sent to South
America otherwise.

FAITH. He wasn't _sent_, he went.

MRS. CROMBIE. How do you know? He probably did something disgraceful in
his youth and had to leave the country. Just like my brother, your Uncle
Percy. I'm certain there's a skeleton of some kind in this
family--anyhow he's sure not to die when we want him to.

FAITH. The doctor said three years.

MRS. CROMBIE. Only to frighten him, that's what doctors are for. I
believe they cured hundreds of cases in the army like that.

FAITH. Did they, mother.

MRS. CROMBIE. What's the matter with the man?

FAITH. I don't know.

MRS. CROMBIE. It strikes me, dear, that you had better find out a bit
more before you get engaged another time.

FAITH (_tearfully_). But I don't want to be engaged another time. I want
to be engaged this time. Oh, mother darling, won't you wait a little
while? Just _see_ the uncle. If you got him alone for a while you could
find out anything--you're always so clever at that sort of thing. Oh,
mother, do.

MRS. CROMBIE. I'll interview the man on one condition. That is that
whatever decision I may make you promise to abide by it afterwards.

FAITH (_rises_). Yes, mother, I promise. (_Kisses her, remains below
fireplace._)

MRS. CROMBIE. Now I suppose we had better join the rest, they're being
feverishly bright on the tennis lawn.

    (_Enter_ MRS. DERMOTT _followed by_ EVANGELINE. MRS. DERMOTT
    _motions to_ EVANGELINE _to pick up papers, who does so, placing
    them on table._)

MRS. DERMOTT. Ah, there you are, Mrs. Crombie; you were bored with
watching tennis too. Of course Oliver and Joyce's efforts cannot really
be called tennis, but still it's an amusement for them. (_Sits in
armchair._) Have you seen my knitting anywhere, Vangy darling? I'm
certain I left it here.

    (FAITH _sits on form_ R.)

EVANGELINE. You had it in the drawing-room before lunch. I'll go and
look.

    (_Exit_ EVANGELINE R.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Thank you so much, dear. You know, Mrs. Crombie, I
imagined that all authors became terribly superior after a little time,
but Vangy hasn't a bit--it is such a relief to me.

MRS. CROMBIE. I haven't read her book yet; I must really order it from
Boots.

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, you belong to Boots too, I did for years--there's
something so fascinating in having those little ivory marker things with
one's name on them, but, of course, I had to give it up when the crash
came.

    (_Re-enter_ EVANGELINE _with knitting._)

EVANGELINE. Here you are, mother. (_Crosses to below table._)

MRS. DERMOTT. Thank you so much, darling. Do you know, Mrs. Crombie, I
started this at the beginning of the War and I haven't finished it yet?
I do hope you are not being terribly dull here, Mrs. Crombie. (_Drops
ball of wool._) I'm afraid we're awfully bad at entertaining.

MRS. CROMBIE. Not at all. You are one of those excellent hostesses who
allow their guests to do as they like, it's so much more comfortable.

FAITH (_rising_). I think I'll go and talk to Bobbie in the garden.

    (_Goes between Chesterfield and armchair._)

MRS. DERMOTT. Do dear, I'm sure he'd love it. (_Kisses her._ FAITH
_giggles._)

    (_Exit_ FAITH.)

    (_During following scene_ MRS. DERMOTT _gets into complications with
    knitting._ EVANGELINE _settles herself_ L. _with illustrated paper._)

MRS. DERMOTT. Your daughter is a dear girl, Mrs. Crombie--we are all so
fond of her.

MRS. CROMBIE. It's charming of you--she simply loves being down here. Of
course it is so good for her to get away from London for a little while.

MRS. DERMOTT. I only wish we could have put you up as well, but really
with all the children at home, there's no room at all. I was only saying
to Tibbets--my solicitor, you know--that the one thing----

MRS. CROMBIE. I understand perfectly. Anyhow, I can never leave my
husband for long--men are so selfish, aren't they?

MRS. DERMOTT. Sometimes I'm afraid, but still they're rather darlings
when you know how to manage them. Vangy, dear, did I tell you how many
stitches I set on this sleeve?

EVANGELINE. We have many confidences, mother, but that is not one of
them.

MRS. DERMOTT. Dear me, how tiresome. I'm certain I told someone.

    (_She gets up and rings bell above fireplace, and sits down again._)

MRS. CROMBIE. I was saying, Miss Dermott, that I must make an effort to
get your book from the library.

EVANGELINE. Oh, there are one or two copies in the house--I'll lend you
one.

MRS. CROMBIE. It's very kind of you.

MRS. DERMOTT. I'm sure you'll like it, I did, though Vangy tells me I
didn't understand half of it. Naturally being my daughter's work it
thrilled me, though where she got all her ideas from I can't think--I've
always been most careful with the children's upbringing----

    (_Enter_ GRIGGS, R. _and moves to above Chesterfield. He coughs._)

What is it, Griggs?

GRIGGS. You rang, madam.

MRS. DERMOTT. Did I? Now what on earth could it have been? Was it a
flustered ring, Griggs, or just an ordinary calm one?

GRIGGS. Quite calm, madam.

MRS. DERMOTT (_in anguish_). Oh, Vangy _dear_, what _did_ I ring for?

EVANGELINE. You said something about your knitting just before.

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, of course, yes. Griggs, do you know how many stitches
I cast on for this sleeve?

GRIGGS. Forty-seven, madam.

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, thank you so much--you're quite sure?

GRIGGS. Quite, madam, but if I might suggest it, next time an even
number would be easier to remember.

MRS. DERMOTT. Yes, Griggs--remind me, won't you? You're a great help.

GRIGGS. Yes, madam.

MRS. DERMOTT. Thank you, Griggs.

    (_Exit_ GRIGGS, R.)

Really, I don't know what I should do without that man. I believe he's
Scotch, but he's quite invaluable.

MRS. CROMBIE. So it seems.

EVANGELINE. Will Sylvia and Uncle Daniel be here in time for dinner,
mother?

MRS. DERMOTT. Yes, his train arrived at Euston at eleven-thirty. They
ought to be here quite soon now, unless, of course, anything has
happened to the car--but still, Sylvia drives very carefully. They
taught her to do lots of things like that on the films, you
know--they're awfully daring--I shall never forget when they made her
jump off Westminster Bridge on a horse--my sister Amy was scandalized,
and I said----

MRS. CROMBIE. I can _quite_ imagine it. It was very plucky of your
daughter to do it, though I'm glad Faith isn't on the films--I should be
worried to death.

MRS. DERMOTT. Of course I felt like that at first--but one gets hardened
to anything--even my poor brother's approaching death seems less
terrible now--at the time when he told us it was a fearful shock, but
somehow----

MRS. CROMBIE. It must be terribly sad for you. Faith told me about it
this morning. What is he suffering from?

MRS. DERMOTT. Well, to tell you the truth, we don't quite know, he will
joke about it so--at first he said it was "Sleeping Sickness" and then
"Creeping quickness" or pneu-somnia or something or other--one comfort,
he doesn't seem to mind a bit.

MRS. CROMBIE. Perhaps the doctor diagnosed the case all wrong.

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh yes, they are careless--aren't they? Did you say
"diagnosed," there now, that's the word you were trying to think of the
other day for your short story, Vangy. I knew it was
dia----SPACELEFTsomething.

    (_Enter_ OLIVER _and_ JOYCE _from garden--followed by_ FAITH _and_
    BOBBIE.)

JOYCE. I won a sett. (_Goes to chair_ L. _of table past._)

OLIVER. Only because I had the sun in my eyes.

    (OLIVER _puts racquet on piano._)

JOYCE. Well, I offered to change over, but you wouldn't.

MRS. DERMOTT. What time will Sylvia and your uncle arrive?

OLIVER (_sitting on top of table_). They ought to be here any moment
now, unless Sylvia's bashed up the bus.

BOBBIE (_above Chesterfield to_ MRS. CROMBIE, _admiringly_). Isn't he
technical, the way he uses all the right expressions--it gives one such
a professional air to call cars "buses."

MRS. DERMOTT. It's very muddling.

    (_A motor horn is heard._)

JOYCE (_rushing to window_). Here they are.

BOBBIE. I wonder how Uncle Daniel is.

MRS. CROMBIE (_rising_). You must all be wondering that. (_Goes to table
powdering._) Faith, I shall go soon. I'm sure this man is going to be
simply odious.

    (_All except_ MRS. CROMBIE _and_ FAITH _go out to meet_ DANIEL. _All
    enter together talking about their various professions._ BOBBIE _to
    fireplace;_ OLIVER _behind table;_ SYLVIA _up stage;_ JOYCE _to form;_
    EVANGELINE _above fireplace;_ MRS. CROMBIE _below table;_ MRS.
    DERMOTT C.; DANIEL L.C.; FAITH R. _of table._)

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, Danny, darling--let me introduce you to Mrs.
Crombie--my brother. And this is Faith--such a dear girl.

MRS. CROMBIE. How do you do. I've heard so much about you. Are you
feeling better?

DANIEL (L.C., _jovially_). Better! Why, I never had a day's illness in
my life--(_look from all_)--at least--that is until I had the illness.
Yes, it's very tiresome. (_He gulps._) A short life and a gay one, you
know. (_He laughs forcedly._)

MRS. DERMOTT. Danny, darling, I _do_ hope----

DANIEL. Nonsense, dear--there is no hope--but that's a comfort to me. I
always imagine hope weary after a game of blind man's buff sitting on an
orange--so uncomfortable.

    (MRS. CROMBIE _and_ FAITH _sit below and_ R. _of table respectively._)

MRS. DERMOTT (_sits Chesterfield, dabbing her eyes_). Really, Danny, you
are too absurd.... I'm so glad Sylvia brought you safely, I never really
feel happy in my mind when she's out with the car. It's not really
woman's work.

DANIEL (_sitting armchair_). As far as I can gather from what she has
been telling me--filming seems to require a certain amount of unwomanly
abandon!

SYLVIA (_at back of Chesterfield, laughing_). I was only telling him
about that day in the middle of the village street, when I had to do
three "close ups" on top of one another.

MRS. DERMOTT. It all sounds vaguely immoral to me, but I hope it's all
right.

DANIEL. Define the expression "close up." What does it mean?

SYLVIA. When they bring the camera right up to your face and you have to
register various emotions--fear--suspicion--joy--yearning--sorrow--(_she
does them_) that's a close up.

MRS. DERMOTT. Isn't she wonderful?

MRS. CROMBIE. It really is most entertaining.

DANIEL. I think they ought to film Evangeline's novel--it's chock full
of incident.

EVANGELINE (_rising, poses by mantel_). Yes, uncle, but only
psychological incident--they want luridly exciting episodes for a real
thriller. I mean to write a scenario one day though, it's a money-making
game. (_Sits again._)

MRS. DERMOTT. Do, dear--but please don't make the heroine jump out of
attic windows or anything--it _is_ so trying for Sylvia--I shall never
forget Westminster Bridge and that horse.

DANIEL. It appears to be a most dashing profession.

MRS. DERMOTT (_with pride_). Oh, it is. Sylvia does the most thrilling
things, I assure you. She had to rescue the Rajah from a burning house
in Piccadilly only last Wednesday. It caused a great sensation.

DANIEL. So I should imagine, but why was the Rajah burning in
Piccadilly?

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, it wasn't a real Rajah of course--but he was supposed
to be in the clutch of Bolshevists--or was that another film, Sylvia?--I
get so muddled----

SYLVIA. It was another film, mother, but it doesn't matter. How's your
illness, Uncle Dan? You look pretty bright.

DANIEL. Oh, I expect to be quite cheery right up to the last.

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, Danny dear, don't talk about it.

DANIEL (_with meaning_). I always think we attach too much importance to
life and death.

MRS. CROMBIE (_acidly_). It depends on circumstances, of course.

DANIEL (_dramatically_). Out there where I come from----

JOYCE. Go on, uncle, do tell us.

DANIEL. I was just going to, only you interrupted me--out there on the
limitless prairie, a man's life is not considered worth that much. (_He
tries to snap his fingers without any success._) There now, I can never
do that properly--that much. (_He tries again._) Damn!

BOBBIE. I can do it, uncle. (_He does it._)

JOYCE. So can I. (_She tries._) Oh, no I can't--Sylvia, you can. You had
to when you were playing in "Spanish Passion."

SYLVIA. Never mind now, let uncle get on with his story.

DANIEL. Out there Death waits round every corner----

BOBBIE. I didn't know there were any corners on the limitless prairie.

DANIEL (_testily_). I was millions of miles away from any prairie--and,
anyhow, I was only speaking metaphorically.

SYLVIA. You are irritating, Bobbie, why can't you keep quiet.

MRS. CROMBIE. There seems to be some doubt, Mr. Davis, as to what part
of America you were in.

DANIEL. South America--firmly South America--in the little tiny wee,
bijou village of Santa Lyta--far away from the beaten track, this lonely
place lies basking in the sun. Heavens, how it basked! its natives
care-free and irresponsible, dreaming idly through the long summer
heat----

OLIVER. What did you do there, uncle?

DANIEL. Eh?

OLIVER. What did you do there, uncle?

DANIEL (_coming to earth_). Oh, er--lots of things--fishing--yachting.

BOBBIE. But I thought it was inland.

DANIEL. Eh?

BOBBIE. I thought it was inland.

DANIEL. So it is, but there's a lake, there's a lake! We used to sit
round the camp fire in the evenings and cook the fish--yes, salmon and
cucumber, and sing songs--sweet little homely ditties--your Rose song in
particular, Bobbie, was a great success, I must say that----

BOBBIE. Don't perjure yourself, uncle, I know perfectly well that it's
the worst thing that has ever been written.

SYLVIA. It's your most successful.

BOBBIE. Of course--I've made literally hundreds out of it--the public
wallow in it--roses and passion, and wine, and eyes of blue--it makes me
absolutely sick every time I hear it, but still one must write down in
this world if one wants to get up.

MRS. DERMOTT. Speaking of roses, let's go out into the garden and
talk--it's so stuffy in here--you can tell me some more of your
adventures, Danny.

SYLVIA (_looking at him_). I'm sure he'd love to.

    (_Every one gets up and drifts out on to the lawn talking._ BOBBIE
    _hangs behind for a moment with_ FAITH.)

BOBBIE (_anxiously_). What did she say? (_Catching her hand as she is
going out._)

FAITH. She said she'll see--wait until to-night....

BOBBIE. Oh, Faith darling....

FAITH. Come out now, quick, or they'll miss us.

BOBBIE (_grumbling_). It doesn't matter if they do.

FAITH. Oh, yes, it does--I don't want to be talked about.

    (_They go out and bang into_ DANIEL, _who is coming in._)

BOBBIE. Hallo, aren't you going to tell us things?

DANIEL (_comes_ C.). No, not now--I must unpack--I'm feeling rather
tired--I have to change--I must send a wire.... The truth of the matter
is, I just want a little peace.

BOBBIE. All right, we'll leave you to it.

    (_Exit_ BOBBIE _and_ FAITH. DANIEL _comes slowly down stage--lights
    a cigar and settles himself in Chesterfield._)

    (_Re-enter_ SYLVIA, _quickly touches_ DANIEL _on face--he jumps._)

SYLVIA. Uncle dear, why did you slip away?

DANIEL. I explained to your brother--because I felt a little tired and
wanted a rest.

SYLVIA. You're not too tired to talk to me though, are you? (_Quite
quietly._)

DANIEL (_without conviction_). No. (_Lies full length._)

SYLVIA. Well, I'll sit down then. (_To side of Chesterfield._)

DANIEL. Do. (_Sees she wants to sit down. He takes his legs off
Chesterfield._)

SYLVIA. So you really are better? (_Sitting_ L. _of Chesterfield._)

DANIEL. Of course I'm better--I feel splendid.

SYLVIA. And you _still_ believe what the doctor said?

DANIEL. I always believe what every one says, I'm a most trusting
person.

SYLVIA. Oh, is that how you made your money--by being trusting?

DANIEL. Certainly. I trusted other people to lose it and they did.

SYLVIA. How d'you mean--lose it?

DANIEL. Well, you see--look here, Sylvia, are you cross-examining me?

SYLVIA. Nothing could be further from my thoughts, uncle dear, I only
wondered, that's all.

DANIEL. Well, don't wonder any more--it's most embarrassing--what have
you been doing with yourself lately?...

SYLVIA. You know perfectly well, uncle, because you sat next to me in
the car and I told you everything.

DANIEL. Well, tell me some more. Have you had any love affairs--girls
always like to confide their love affairs.

SYLVIA. Only when they haven't got any--but I don't, anyhow. The only
one of the family who has got it in the least badly is Bobbie; he's mad
on Faith Crombie.

DANIEL. So I gathered--why, do you suppose?

SYLVIA. We can't think--she's the most irritating girl I've met for
years--and her mother's hateful, too.

DANIEL. Why are they here?

SYLVIA. Oh, Bobbie wanted them asked, and mother's much too sweet to
deny us anything in reason.

DANIEL. I shouldn't call Mrs. Crombie in reason--she's trying to pump
me.

SYLVIA. You are rather a mysterious person you know, uncle, I should
like to know lots more about you.

DANIEL. Everything about me is absolutely honourable and above board.

SYLVIA. I don't know that it is.

DANIEL. My dear Sylvia--you wound me, you grieve me--I feel deeply
pained. I----

SYLVIA (_laughing_). It's no use trying to bluster out of it, uncle, you
know as well as I do that it wasn't honourable of you to single me out
for your money without letting the others know anything about it.

DANIEL (_quickly_). You haven't told them, have you? (_Puts his feet
down._)

SYLVIA. No--I don't break _my_ word.

DANIEL. And I don't break mine, so you needn't be so sniffy.

SYLVIA. It is breaking it in a way to show favouritism.

DANIEL. I only told you in the very strictest confidence because I had
faith in you--trusted you....

SYLVIA. It was very sweet of you, uncle, but I don't think you should
have.

DANIEL. Well, after all, I... it's my money and surely I----

SYLVIA. You see, it's so terribly unfair to the others--of course they
don't know, and I shall never breathe a word, but, uncle, I do wish
you'd leave everything to one of them and not me--I shouldn't feel happy
for a moment with the money--not for a single moment if I'd known all
the time that I was going to get it. Rule me out of the list, there's a
dear--I'm earning an awful lot now, you know, on the films and I really
don't need any more--promise you'll do what I ask you?

DANIEL. I don't think you're quite in your right mind, but,
still--(_smiling_) I'll see.

SYLVIA. There, I knew you'd see what I meant and be a lamb. Now tell me
some of your adventures and things, and how you made the money.

DANIEL (_uncomfortably_). Really, I don't think that....

SYLVIA. It must be so glorious out there--mining and prospecting and--by
the way how does one prospect?

DANIEL. How does one prospect? When one prospects one scoops up water
from rivers and finds nuggets in one's hands--if one's lucky, of course.

SYLVIA. You don't seem to know very much about it, uncle.

DANIEL (_nettled_). On the contrary I know _all_ about it--but you
wouldn't understand if I went into technical details.

SYLVIA. I don't believe you would, either.

DANIEL (_rises and goes_ L.). I think, Sylvia, that this lack of trust
in your fellow-creatures is a very sinister trait in your character--you
must remember that I am a much older man than you are and----

SYLVIA. I'm not a man at all.

DANIEL (_turns_). Sometimes I wish you were, then I could tell you what
I really think of you.

SYLVIA (_rises and goes to him--laughing_). There, uncle, I won't tease
you any more, but still it must have been a wonderful moment when you
discovered you had made a fortune out of your mine.

DANIEL. I didn't.

SYLVIA (_relentlessly_). But I thought----

DANIEL. That is--not exactly--you see it was like this....

    (_Enter_ OLIVER _from garden._)

DANIEL (_under his breath_). Thank God! (_Sits chair below table._)

OLIVER (_above arm-chair_). Hallo Sylvia. Mother's been looking for
you--she wants you to help her pick strawberries for tea. Joyce is with
her now, but she isn't much use because she eats them as fast as she
picks them.

SYLVIA. I'll go now. Stay and keep Uncle Dan company, Oliver. Get him to
tell you some of his South American experiences. They're awfully
interesting. Bye-bye for the present, uncle.

DANIEL. Cheerio!

    (_Exit_ SYLVIA, R.)

I suppose you haven't such a thing as a whisky and soda about you, have
you, Oliver?

OLIVER. Of course, I'll get you one.

DANIEL. I'm feeling rather exhausted.

    (OLIVER _goes to side table, mixes a drink and gives it to him._)

(_Weakly_) Thank you very much.

OLIVER (C., _fingering arm-chair_). I say, uncle--can you--er--spare me
a few minutes?

DANIEL (_apprehensively_). Yes--what is it?

OLIVER (_awkwardly_). Well, it's like this--I know it's rather bad form
to talk about your will----

DANIEL. Yes, it is.

OLIVER. But I feel I must. I----

DANIEL (_hurriedly_). Wait until another time, don't you worry yourself
about it now. You wait until I'm dead.

OLIVER (_firmly_). No, I must get it over--I want to ask you to leave
your money to one of the others and not to me at all. It was awfully
decent of you to single me out and it bucked me up a lot to feel that
you thought well of me, but now--well, I'm earning steadily and I really
don't need a lot, in fact, it might do me harm to feel that I needn't
work--also it would seem frightfully caddish to the others for me to
have known all along that I was going to get it. Don't you see what I'm
driving at?

DANIEL. In a way, I do, yes....

OLIVER. Well, you'll do what I ask, won't you? It's a ripping feeling
being independent (EVANGELINE _passes the window_) and earning money,
and I want to go on at it--(_He glances out of the window_). Here comes
Vangy. Now leave it to her. Novel writing is a frightfully precarious
show and she's a woman and--anyhow, will you?

DANIEL. I'll see.

    (_Enter_ EVANGELINE.)

EVANGELINE. Ah, there you are, Uncle Daniel--I've been looking for
you--I want to have a little talk with you. (_Above Chesterfield._)

DANIEL. My God!

EVANGELINE. What did you say?

DANIEL (_feverishly_). I said, My God!

EVANGELINE. Wasn't that a little unnecessary--but still, I expect you
get used to swearing over trifles out in the backwoods.

DANIEL. I wasn't anywhere near the backwoods.

EVANGELINE. Well, wherever you were then. Do go away, Oliver, I want to
talk to Uncle Daniel privately.

OLIVER. Righto--you'll remember what I said, won't you, Uncle? Cheerio.

    (_Exit_ OLIVER, R.)

UNCLE. Cheerio. What? Oh, yes, yes. (_after_ OLIVER _has gone._)

EVANGELINE (_goes to him_). Now, look here--about that will of yours--I
don't feel that it's quite fair to the others to----

    (_Enter_ MRS. CROMBIE _from garden._)

MRS. CROMBIE. Oh, there you are, Mr. Davis--I've been wanting to have a
little talk to you about South America. I had a brother out there, you
know. (_Behind chair_ R.C.)

DANIEL (_rising, jovially_). Splendid--let's talk about him for hours.

EVANGELINE (_a little annoyed_). I'll come back later, uncle. (_Moves to
stairs._)

MRS. CROMBIE. I hope I'm not interrupting a heart-to-heart talk between
uncle and niece.

DANIEL. Not at all, not at all--it's a pleasure, I assure you.

EVANGELINE (_on stairs_). It doesn't matter a bit. Uncle Daniel is going
to stay with us a long time, I hope.

    (_Exit upstairs._)

MRS. CROMBIE (_settling herself in arm-chair_). Splendid--have you such
a thing as a cigarette?

DANIEL. A cigarette, yes, certainly.

MRS. CROMBIE. And a match.

DANIEL. And a match.

    (_He hands her a case, she takes one, goes to mantel for matches--then
    he strikes a match and lights it._)

MRS. CROMBIE (_girlishly_). Now we can be quite comfortable, can't we?

DANIEL. Quite. (_Sits on Chesterfield._)

MRS. CROMBIE. As I was saying just now, I had a brother out in South
America.

DANIEL. What part?

MRS. CROMBIE. I'm not quite sure--we don't hear from him much--he was
sent out there for--for----

DANIEL. I quite understand.

MRS. CROMBIE. For his health.

DANIEL. I know, they all are. It's a wonderful climate.

MRS. CROMBIE. He hasn't written for ages and ages--we were wondering if
he was making money or not--it seems so far away, anything may be
happening to him.

DANIEL. In all probability everything is----SPACELEFT(_laughs to
himself_).

MRS. CROMBIE. Did you have any thrilling adventures when you were making
your pile?

DANIEL. Oh yes, heaps and heaps.

MRS. CROMBIE. I gather that you have a mine of some sort?

DANIEL. Yes--just near the Grand Stand.

MRS. CROMBIE. The what?

DANIEL. The Grand Slam.

MRS. CROMBIE. Slam!

DANIEL. It's the name of a mountain, you know.

MRS. CROMBIE. What a strange name! Why do they call it that?

DANIEL. I can't imagine. It's often been a source of great perplexity to
me.

MRS. CROMBIE. I take it that yours is a gold mine.

DANIEL. Not so that you'd notice it.

MRS. CROMBIE. I beg your pardon?

DANIEL. Well, I mean--it's not especially a gold mine--it's a mixed
mine--a little bit of everything--there's tin and silver and salt and
copper and brass, and God knows what--it's most exciting wondering what
we are going to find next.

MRS. CROMBIE. Yes, so I should imagine....

DANIEL. Often on weary, dark nights--filled with the cries of the jackal
and the boa-constrictor.

MRS. CROMBIE. I didn't know boa-constrictors cried.

DANIEL. Only when they are upset about something. Then they can't help
it. There are few animals as highly emotional as a boa-constrictor.
Anyhow, as I was saying, we lay awake in the throbbing darkness--the
darkness out there always throbs--it's a most peculiar phenomenon--and
wondered--Heavens, how we wondered what we should find on the following
day.

MRS. CROMBIE. If you'll forgive my saying so, Mr. Davis, I fear that you
are a bit of a fraud.

DANIEL. I beg your pardon?

MRS. CROMBIE. I said I thought you were a fraud.

DANIEL. Of course I am--all great men are. Look at George Washington.

MRS. CROMBIE. He wasn't a fraud.

DANIEL. We only have his word for it. Besides he knew his father had
seen him cut down the cherry tree. That's why he confessed. Anyhow, why
should you think I am?

MRS. CROMBIE. Because you obviously know nothing about mining, and I
happen to know that there is no such thing as a mountain in South
America called the Grand Slam. I was determined to find out as much as I
could about you on account of my daughter.

DANIEL (_rises_). My dear madam, I assure you that there is nothing
whatever between your daughter and me--my intentions are absolutely
honourable. (_Moves to fireplace._)

MRS. CROMBIE (_coldly_). I was not alluding to you, but to your
nephew--your youngest nephew.

DANIEL. Oh, I see.

MRS. CROMBIE. He has been making love to her. This afternoon he proposed
to her....

DANIEL. Did he, by Jove!

MRS. CROMBIE. He also spoke about a large sum of money that you intended
to leave him--I'm sure you will understand my position--I naturally
want my daughter to marry well--and----

DANIEL. And you mean to make quite sure of the money beforehand. I see.

MRS. CROMBIE. You put it rather crudely.

DANIEL. I think matters of this kind are better discussed crudely. One
thing I will promise you, Mrs. Crombie. You shall know full particulars
of my finances and everything else by the end of the day. Until then I
fear that you must continue to regard me as a fraud.

MRS. CROMBIE. I hope you are not offended at my inquisitiveness, but I
really----

DANIEL. My dear Mrs. Crombie, when you have knocked about the world as
much as I have--one learns never to be either surprised or shocked.

MRS. CROMBIE. It is very, very hard for mothers, nowadays.

DANIEL. Yes, isn't it?

MRS. CROMBIE. The children are all so modern they become quite
ungovernable....

DANIEL (_coming forward slightly_). I can only say then that my nephews
and nieces are exceptions to the rule.

MRS. CROMBIE. I am so glad you are so satisfied with them.

DANIEL. I am! I never realised until to-day how absolutely splendid it
was to be an uncle. How wonderfully proud I should be of the fact that
they are related to me. I came home eighteen months ago expecting to
find a family of irritating self-centred young people idling about--true
they were idling, but I liked them in spite of it--I have returned this
time to find them not only hard-workers, but successful hard-workers.
There is not one of them who hasn't achieved something--even Joyce, the
flapper, has set to and made good at school. I tell you I'm proud of
them, so proud that I could shout it from the house tops, and may I say
this, Mrs. Crombie, that if your daughter has succeeded in making Bobbie
fall in love with her, she is a very fortunate young woman.

    (MRS. CROMBIE _shows boredom during speech._)

MRS. CROMBIE. Oh, is she?

DANIEL. Because he is a fine boy, so is Oliver, so are they all
splendid--and she should be proud to know them.

MRS. CROMBIE. It really is very lucky that you are so contented with
your lot. Personally, I'm not so ecstatic. Admitting for a moment that
your nephew has such a marvellously fine character--which I doubt--he
should not have made love to my daughter without being certain of his
prospects.

DANIEL. I will speak to him, Mrs. Crombie.

MRS. CROMBIE. I should be very grateful if you would. (_Rises and moves
up to him._) And please understand that nothing--nothing is to be
settled without my consent.

DANIEL. I quite understand that.

MRS. CROMBIE. Thank you so much--I think I'll rejoin the others in the
garden now.

DANIEL. I'm sure they'd be charmed.

    (_Exit_ MRS. CROMBIE _into garden._ DANIEL, _left alone, lights another
    cigarette._)

DANIEL (_feelingly_). Whew! What a woman! (_Falls on Chesterfield._)

    (EVANGELINE _peeps downstairs._)

EVANGELINE. Has she gone?

DANIEL. Yes, thank Heaven. I say, Vangy, she is a very objectionable
woman.

EVANGELINE (_coming down_). I know--we all loathe her. Now at last I can
talk to you alone. (_Sits beside him._)

DANIEL. Look here, Evangeline, I know exactly what you are going to say,
and I settle it all on Griggs, if you like. He'll take it, he's a
Scotsman.

EVANGELINE. How did you know?

DANIEL. Instinct, my dear, pure instinct.

EVANGELINE (_rises_). Let's talk it all over.

DANIEL (_rises and goes_ L.). No, not now, I must go up to my room.

EVANGELINE. Oh, just a little talk!

DANIEL. I have some letters to write. Also I'm tired and I feel my
illness coming on again. Also I must wash before tea. Also----

EVANGELINE (_laughing_). It's quite obvious that you don't want to, so
I'll leave you alone. Cheerio for the present.

DANIEL. They all say that. Cheerio! I'm sure it portends something....

    (_He goes off upstairs._)

    (_Enter_ JOYCE _from garden dragging_ FAITH _after her._)

JOYCE. Now you've just got to tell the others that.

FAITH (_flustered_). But I promised Bobbie I wouldn't say a word....

JOYCE. Well, you've broken your word once, so you can do it again.
Vangy! Vangy! (_She goes to window, still dragging_ FAITH.) Sylvia!
Oliver! Bobbie!

EVANGELINE. What on earth is the matter?

JOYCE. Faith will tell you when the others come. (_Dragging_ FAITH _back
to_ C.)

FAITH. Look here, this isn't a bit fair of you. Bobbie will never
forgive me....

JOYCE. I can't help Bobbie's troubles--you should have thought of that
before.

    (_Enter_ SYLVIA _and_ OLIVER _from garden._)

OLIVER. What's up?

JOYCE. The moment Bobbie comes, you shall know--yell for him, Oliver....

    (FAITH _attempts to escape,_ SYLVIA _stops her._)

OLIVER (_goes to window and yells_). Bobb-ie! Hurry up, we want you.

BOBBIE (_off_). All right--coming....

    (_They wait in silence_--JOYCE _still holds firmly on to_ FAITH'S _arm.
    Enter_ BOBBIE _from garden--rather breathless. The positions are as
    follows:_--EVANGELINE _down_ R. SYLVIA R.C. _above Chesterfield._
    BOBBIE _a little above_ SYLVIA _slightly on her_ L. FAITH C. JOYCE _on_
    FAITH'S L. OLIVER _up_ L.)

BOBBIE. What's the bother?

JOYCE. Now, Faith, tell them.

FAITH. I won't.

JOYCE. Very well, I will--it's most important--listen, all of
you--Bobbie was flirting with Faith this afternoon, and he told her that
Uncle had singled him out from us all to leave his money to....

BOBBIE. Oh, Faith, how could you. (FAITH _crosses to window_ L.)

SYLVIA (_judiciously_). Is this true, Bobbie?

BOBBIE (_miserably_). Yes, but I couldn't help it....

SYLVIA. Of course you couldn't. Don't be silly--now _I'll_ tell you
something. Uncle said exactly the same thing to me.

EVERY ONE. What!

OLIVER. So he did to me, the dirty dog.

JOYCE. Yes, I guessed as much when Faith told me--he promised his whole
fortune to me if I won prizes and things at school.

EVANGELINE. Well, I needn't tell you that he said the same to me.

BOBBIE. What's his game?

SYLVIA. Hadn't we better ask him?

OLIVER. Yes, where is he?

EVANGELINE. Upstairs writing letters, washing and being ill.

SYLVIA. Run up and fetch him, Bobbie.

BOBBIE. All right.

    (_Exit upstairs two at a time._)

OLIVER. I'd love to know what he's up to.

JOYCE. You will in a minute.

EVANGELINE. I shouldn't be too sure, if he's deceived us once, he'll
probably try to do it again. I don't feel that I can trust him at all
now.

JOYCE. Look here, when he comes down, what are we to say to
him--Oliver'd better do it all, he's the eldest.

OLIVER (_comes down to table_). I'm hanged if I will.

SYLVIA. All right, dear, don't get crusty before the time; I expect
you'll have full opportunities for that later. I'll be spokesman.

EVANGELINE. All right.

    (_Re-enter_ DANIEL, _followed by_ BOBBIE, _wiping his hands on a towel._
    BOBBIE _goes_ R.)

DANIEL (C.). I feel a little like Lady Macbeth, but Bobbie wouldn't let
me dry properly. What on earth's the matter?

           { We want to know.
EVERY ONE. { Look here, Uncle Daniel....
           { We want an explanation, Uncle Daniel.

DANIEL. You all appear to be perturbed about something.

BOBBIE. We are.

SYLVIA. Shut up, Bobbie, I'm spokesman.

DANIEL (_weakly_). Couldn't it be some one else? Sylvia's so firm with
me.

SYLVIA. I think, uncle, that you occasionally need firmness. (_Coming
down_ R. _by Chesterfield._)

DANIEL. We all do, it's a weakness of the human race--lack of stamina--I
have it at the moment. Please may I sit down?

OLIVER. Yes.

DANIEL (_sinking into arm-chair_). Thank you so much. (_Weakly._) I
begin to feel sleepy. May I have perhaps--a small glass of water?

BOBBIE. All right--I'll get it. (_He goes to sideboard._)

DANIEL. With perhaps the teeniest, weeniest little drop of whisky?

SYLVIA. This is all useless prevarication, you know--we have some very
important questions to ask you.

DANIEL (_rising_). Perhaps I'd better stand up then, it's more imposing.
(_He takes water from Bobbie._) Thank you a thousand times. Cheerio!!

    (_They all make a movement of annoyance._)

SYLVIA. Now then, uncle, we've discovered that you have been deceiving
us....

DANIEL (_amazed_). I--deceive you? I'm pained! I'm hurt! You've wounded
me to the quick.

BOBBIE. I don't believe you've got a quick.

SYLVIA. Shut up, Bobbie!

    (FAITH _is by window_ L.)

SYLVIA. Yes, through the agency of Miss Crombie here.

DANIEL. Ah, Miss Crombie, I've just been chatting to your mother. (_Goes
to table and puts glass on it._)

SYLVIA (_ignoring his interruption._) Your dastardly trick has been
exposed, is it or is it not true that you took each of us aside in turn
a year and a half ago and filled us up with confidential lies about your
will?

DANIEL (_bravely_). It's absolutely true.

    (_Move from all._)

SYLVIA. Why did you do it?

DANIEL (_laughing with forced roguishness_). Ah!...

SYLVIA (_firmly--with emphasis on each word_). Why did you do it?

DANIEL. Do you really want to know?

EVANGELINE (_below form_). Of course we do.

DANIEL. Very well, then I'll tell you. The reason was this. You were a
set of idle young bounders. (_A move from all._) You'd never done a
stroke of work in your lives--neither have I, but I didn't see why you
shouldn't. There was your poor mother left comparatively hard up--you
would have to have left this house which would have made her perfectly
miserable, so I determined to spur you on to do something (_breaking
into a smile._) I say, you must admit I've succeeded!

SYLVIA. Never mind, that--go on.

DANIEL (_still smiling_). Well, not having a penny in the world with
which to help you myself----

EVERYONE. What!!!!!

DANIEL. I repeat--not having a penny----

OLIVER (_below table_). Do you mean to say you haven't any money at all?

DANIEL (_cheerfully_). Not a bob! Except on the all too rare occasions
when I win a bit. (_Laughing._) If it were not for the darling little
horses, I shouldn't be able to get across to England at all.

EVANGELINE. What about the mine you told us of?

    (JOYCE _is_ R. _of table._)

DANIEL. I never told you of a mine.

EVANGELINE. Oh, uncle, you are a fibber!

DANIEL. You said I had a mine. As a matter of fact I am part owner in
one. Unfortunately it was long ago proved to be absolutely worthless.
But please don't worry yourselves over me. I shall be all right.

SYLVIA (R.C.). We weren't.

DANIEL (C). I didn't say you were, I said don't. I also told you, now
that I come to think of it, that I had only three years to live. That
was put in as a bit of local colour. I hope to live to eighty-two or
even eighty-three.

BOBBIE (_above Chesterfield_). Well, all I can say is--it's the
rottenest trick I ever heard.

JOYCE. Uncle, how could you? (_She sniffs._)

BOBBIE. How dare you come here and stuff us up with promises that you
can never keep. I'm jolly well fed up. I thought you were such a sport
and--oh, what's the use of talking. You don't give a damn. Come away,
Faith.

FAITH (_tossing her head_). Very well.

    (_Exit_ BOBBIE _and_ FAITH _into garden._)

EVANGELINE (_coming forward, moves between Chesterfield and
arm-chair--contemptuously_). It strikes me as being a singularly
pointless practical joke--I'm very disappointed in you, Uncle Daniel.

    (_Exit_ R.)

OLIVER (_coming in front of_ JOYCE). So am I--damned disappointed. I
thought you were too decent to do a thing like that.

    (_Exit_ R.)

JOYCE. I think you're horrid, it'll get all over the school now. (_She
bursts into tears and exits_ R.)

    (SYLVIA _turns and looks at_ UNCLE DANIEL.)

DANIEL. They've all had a go at me. Haven't you anything to say too,
Sylvia?

SYLVIA. No, I haven't anything to say at all.

UNCLE DANIEL. Oh! (_Sits in armchair._)

SYLVIA. You see I knew all the time. (_Goes to above him._)

DANIEL (_incredulously_). You knew?

SYLVIA. Well, I guessed from the first and found out afterwards.

DANIEL. But how?

SYLVIA. Well, uncle darling, I knew that no one with a smile like yours
could ever have a bob!

    (_Kisses him, goes off laughing._ UNCLE DANIEL _settles himself in
    armchair, smiling._)


CURTAIN.



ACT III.

    SCENE.--_The scene is the same as the preceding acts. Alterations
    in the furniture are noted at the end of the play. It is
    seven-thirty on the morning following the events of_ ACT II. _When
    the_ CURTAIN _rises, the sun is streaming in through the open
    window_ L.C. BOBBIE _can be seen standing just outside looking up
    apparently at an upper window._


BOBBIE (_calling softly_). Faith! Faith!

FAITH (_heard off_). What is it?

BOBBIE. Come down and talk to me.

FAITH. Don't be silly--

BOBBIE. Please do--I've got lots to tell you.

FAITH. Oh, all right--wait a minute.

    (BOBBIE _comes mooching into the hall through the window._ _Enter_
    FAITH _downstairs._)

FAITH. Good morning, Mr. Dermott. (_Offers hand coldly._)

BOBBIE (L.C.). I say--you have been quick.

FAITH (C., _coldly_). I've been up for hours--what is it you want?

BOBBIE. I've had a perfectly miserable night--I couldn't sleep a wink. I
want to know if you really meant what you said last night.

FAITH. Of course I really meant it, how silly you are.

BOBBIE. I'm not silly--I thought maybe it was only the heat of the
moment that made you so utterly beastly.

FAITH. If you're going to be rude I shall go away. (_She sits down in
chair by Chesterfield._)

BOBBIE. Do you really care for me so little that you can give me up at a
moment's notice like that?

FAITH. You will not understand Bobbie--I had to.

BOBBIE. Why?

FAITH. Because mother made me promise.

BOBBIE (_up to her_). _What_ did she make you promise?

FAITH. She made me promise that--that----

BOBBIE. Well?

FAITH. Well, you see I'm an only child, and mother wants me to be happy
above all things and----

BOBBIE. I could make you happy--wonderfully happy.

FAITH. Mother doesn't think so. You see I've always been used to having
money and comforts and things.

BOBBIE. Do you imagine that I shouldn't have been able to give you all
the comforts you wanted whether I had uncle's money or not? Why, in a
year or so I shall be making hundreds and hundreds. I mean to be
successful--nothing will stop me.

FAITH. Well, Bobbie, if you come to me again then, perhaps mother
would----

BOBBIE. You mean that I'm to go on working for my happiness on the off
chance of your being free to accept me? Neither you nor your mother have
enough trust in me to believe that I shall make a big name for myself.
Good God, it was a pretty thought of your parents to call you "Faith." I
suppose if you had a couple of sisters you'd call them Hope and Charity.

FAITH. It's no use being angry and beastly about it. One must use a
little common sense.

BOBBIE. It isn't a question of common sense, but common decency.

FAITH. How dare you say that. (_She pulls him round by the leg of his
trousers. He brushes her hand away. She repeats this business._) Why
can't we just be friends?

BOBBIE. You know I'm much too fond of you to be just friends. Men can't
switch their feelings on and off like bath-taps. If they mean a thing
they mean it, and there's an end of it.

FAITH. I wish I'd never come down at all if all you mean to do is
grumble at me.

BOBBIE. It's more than grumbling--it's genuine unhappiness. (_Sits on
form below table._) I quite realize now that you never really cared for
me a bit, in spite of what you said; but still I want to find out
why--_why_ you've changed so suddenly, _why_ need you have hurt me so
much. If you'd written breaking it off, it would have been different,
but you've been so--so unnecessarily brutal.

FAITH. It was mother's fault.

BOBBIE. Is everything you do your mother's affair? Does she count every
breath you take? Why, your life simply can't be worth living!

FAITH. I wish I could make you see....

BOBBIE (_in a lower register_). I'm afraid you've made me see too much.
I didn't know people could be so callous and cruel....

FAITH (_quickly_). I'm not callous and cruel.

BOBBIE. Oh yes, you are, and you've made me determine one thing, and
that is that henceforth I honestly mean to cut women out of my life for
ever. (_A move from_ FAITH.) I know it's a hackneyed thing to say, but I
mean it. I ought to have taken a lesson from other fellows'
experiences, but of course I didn't.

FAITH. I think you're very silly and childish to be so bitter.

BOBBIE. Bitter! (_Laughs satirically._) What else could I be? The one
girl whom I cared for and trusted has gaily thrown me over the first
moment she hears that I am not going to have as much money as she
thought. I'm losing my temper now, and I'm glad of it. I shall probably
repent every word I say afterwards, but that won't stop me telling you
exactly what I think of you. I don't suppose you've ever been in love at
all--except to the extent of having signed photographs of Owen Nares and
Henry Ainley stuck all over your bedroom, but when you do, I hope you
get it really badly, you deserve to be absolutely utterly wretched, as
wretched as you've made me, and I hope when you do marry that you get a
rotten old Scotch marmalade maker who says "Hoots!" and spills haggis
all down his waistcoat.

FAITH (_bursting into tears_). Oh, Bobbie, how dare you....

    (_goes to her and goes down on his knees_)

BOBBIE. Oh, Faith darling, forgive me, I didn't mean a word of it--I
swear I didn't....

FAITH (_they both rise_). Whether you meant it or not I hate you.
(_Pushes him away._) You're blatant and beastly, and I never wish to see
you again. (_She walks upstairs and pauses._) I shall have breakfast in
my room. (_Exit._)

(BOBBIE _stamps out and collides with_ SYLVIA, _who is coming in with
a bunch of freshly picked flowers._)

BOBBIE. Why can't you look where you're going?

(_He stamps out of sight._)

SYLVIA. Nice sweet-tempered little fellow. (_Moves to above table; puts
roses in bowl. Takes "Daily Mirror" from window-seat, goes down to
Chesterfield and reads it._)

(_Enter_ DANIEL _downstairs with bag. He comes very quietly and
doesn't see_ SYLVIA. _He stumbles and_ SYLVIA _watches him._)

SYLVIA (_suddenly_). Excuse me! Have you been stealing any thing.

DANIEL (_putting down bag_). Damn! I didn't want any one to see me.

SYLVIA. Where were you going?

DANIEL(_coming_ R.C.). To the _Green Hart_. I couldn't face another meal
like dinner last night.

SYLVIA. I know it was pretty awful, but you can't go out of the house
like this. Mother'd be furious.

DANIEL. One more wouldn't matter--everybody else is. (_Coming_ L.C.)

SYLVIA. I'm not a bit.

DANIEL. I know, I was just going to except you; you've been charming,
but really it was terrible. I can't stay. Oliver has such a lowering
expression, and if Joyce gives me one more "dumb animal in pain" look, I
shall scream.

SYLVIA. I can't understand why they're all being so silly--I gave them
credit for more sense of humour.

DANIEL. And Bobbie--Bobbie was the worst of the lot.

SYLVIA. Well, one can forgive him a little more because of Faith.

DANIEL. Why? What about Faith?

SYLVIA (_rising, going to him_). Oh, the little beast chucked him last
night, the moment she heard you weren't going to leave him a fortune.

DANIEL. Did she, by Jove!

SYLVIA (_returning_ R.C.). Personally I'm delighted. I always distrusted
her, and this proves what I've said all along. But that doesn't make
Bobbie any better tempered about it.

DANIEL (L.C.). Poor old Bobbie, I bet he hates me.

SYLVIA. If he does he's a fool.

DANIEL. After all you can't blame him, it's only natural.

SYLVIA. He ought to be jolly grateful to you for being the means of
showing her up.

DANIEL. Perhaps--but he won't be. I know what it feels like; we all go
through it sometime or another. I'd love to wring that girl's neck
though.

SYLVIA. You like Bobbie best of us all, don't you?

DANIEL. With the exception of you--yes. I think it's because he's the
most like me. He is, you know. If he'd lived my life he'd have done
exactly the same things.

SYLVIA. I wonder. (_Sits_ L. _of Chesterfield._)

DANIEL (_smiling_). I know. (_He sits on chair, head of table._) He's
got just the same regard for the truth, the same sublime contempt of the
world, and the same amount of bombast and good opinion of himself that I
started with, I only hope he'll make better use of his chances, and
carve out a better career for himself.

SYLVIA. If he does, he'll owe it all to you--first for rousing him up
and making him work, and secondly for getting rid of Faith for him. Had
he married her, she'd have been a millstone round his neck. He doesn't
realize it now, but yesterday was one of the luckiest days of his life.

DANIEL. D'you really think so?

SYLVIA. I'm sure of it.

DANIEL. That's simply splendid. You've bucked me up tremendously. I
shan't mind the _Green Hart_ nearly so much now. (_Rising._)

SYLVIA (_putting him back on seat_). Uncle, you're not to go to the
_Green Hart_ at all, I won't have it.

DANIEL. I must. When they all sit round looking reproachfully at me, it
makes me feel as if I could sink under the table.

SYLVIA (_patting him and kneeling by him_). But they won't--they'll have
got over it.

DANIEL. They're all much too young to get over being made fools of as
quickly as that.

SYLVIA. But, uncle----

DANIEL. It's no use--I'm firm. I won't come back until they want me. As
a matter of fact I realise I've been very foolish. I shouldn't have let
things go so far. Naturally they were terribly disappointed at my
wanting to live till eighty-two or eighty-three, and not having any
money to leave them.

SYLVIA. They're not really disappointed so much as outraged. They feel
you've been laughing up your sleeve at them, as of course you have.

DANIEL. No, I haven't--you're wrong there--I haven't. I couldn't help
you financially. I'd borrowed the money to come over and the cheque I'd
sent before. I'd just won, so I thought that the only way to assist at
all was to use mental persuasion on all of you. There's always something
fascinating in the idea of having money left one. It seems such an easy
way of getting it. Of course it answered better than I could have
imagined in my wildest dreams.

SYLVIA. It was a little unnecessary to take each of us aside like you
did and stuff us up with hope.

DANIEL. That and a bunch of keys was all I had. It was such a wonderful
situation. I--never having had a penny in the wide, (_gaily_), arranging
to leave you my entire fortune. (_He starts to laugh._) You must confess
it was very, very funny.

SYLVIA (_also laughing_). Yes, it was.... (_They both laugh heartily_).

DANIEL (_still laughing_). And when I said I had sleeping sickness!...

SYLVIA (_weak with laughter_). Oh, uncle, how _could you_.

DANIEL (_wiping his eyes_). Oh dear, oh dear!

SYLVIA. Poor mother getting more mystified every minute, and bothered
poor Tibbets till he doesn't know if he is on his head or his heels.

DANIEL (_rising suddenly_). But look here, they'll all be down in a
minute. (SYLVIA _stands up._) They mustn't find me here, poised for
flight. I must go at once. (_Going behind Chesterfield and picking up
bag._)

SYLVIA (L. _of him_). Yes, but will you promise on your word of honour
to come back the moment I send for you?

DANIEL. If you give me _your_ word of honour not to send for me until
everything's quite all right and everyone is perfectly amiable towards
me. I couldn't bear any more rebuffs. I should burst into tears if
anybody even gave me a look!

SYLVIA. Yes, I'll promise.

DANIEL. I trust you because, after all, you spotted from the first.

SYLVIA. That wasn't very difficult. I've always had a good eye for
hypocrites. (DANIEL _slaps her._) Mind you don't go any further afield
than the _Green Hart_!

DANIEL. You bet I shan't!

(_Exit_ DANIEL _through window._)

SYLVIA (_looking out of window after him_). Bye-bye! (_Coming down
stage._) Bless his heart!

    (_Enter_ GRIGGS _from_ R. _with breakfast dishes which
      he places on sideboard._)

GRIGGS. Will you do the coffee as usual, miss?

SYLVIA. Yes, Griggs. By the way, get me a bigger bowl for those roses
when you have time.

GRIGGS. Yes, miss.

(_He bangs loudly on a big gong, and exits_ R. _Enter_ MRS. DERMOTT
_downstairs._)

SYLVIA. Hello, mother. (_Kiss across_ L. _banisters._)

MRS. DERMOTT. Good morning, darling. Are there any letters?

SYLVIA. Only one for you, I think.

MRS. DERMOTT (_taking letter from table_). From Tibbets, I expect.
(_Sniffs at it._) No! From Isobel Harris. (_Sits at the head of the
table._) I do hope she doesn't want to come and stay--I couldn't bear
that. (_Opens it._) Oh no, it's only to say that Fanny's engaged to an
officer in the Coldstream Guards. How splendid for her.

SYLVIA. Poor Fanny--I'm glad. (_Sits in chair on her mother's left._)

MRS. DERMOTT. Why do you say poor Fanny, dear? I'm sure she's very
fortunate. Now-a-days when nice men are so scarce. I was only saying----

SYLVIA. She didn't say he was a nice man--only that he was in the
Coldstream Guards. I said poor because I can just imagine all her awful
relations as bridesmaids, and her father and mother shoving her up the
altar steps in their efforts to get her safely married.

MRS. DERMOTT. Isobel means well, although she's a little trying. But
I've never liked Charlie--no man with such a long, droopy moustache
could ever be really trusted. Besides, they're so insanitary. Sound the
gong again, dear. I do wish they'd all learn to be a little more
punctual.

(SYLVIA _does so, and returns to sideboard. Enter_ JOYCE _downstairs
followed by_ OLIVER; _they are both obviously suffering from temper.
They both kiss mother._)

JOYCE (_disagreeably, as she comes downstairs_). All right! All
right!--we're coming. What's the fuss? (_Sits on form._)

(OLIVER _crosses to Chesterfield, picks up_ SYLVIA'S _paper and reads,
pacing up and down._)

MRS. DERMOTT. There's no fuss, darling, but it's stupid to let the
breakfast get cold. I've got mushrooms this morning, specially because
Uncle Daniel likes them.

(_Enter_ BOBBIE _from garden profoundly gloomy. Kisses mother._)

BOBBIE. You could hear that beastly gong a mile off.

(SYLVIA _crosses to table with coffee and milk._)

MRS. DERMOTT. I'm so glad, dear. It shows it's a good gong. Ring the
bell, will you, Oliver? (OLIVER _does so._) Where's Evangeline? She's
generally quite an early bird.

(_Enter_ EVANGELINE _downstairs. She is distinctly depressed._)

EVANGELINE (_on the stairs_). Here I am, mother (_kisses_ MRS. DERMOTT).
(_With sarcasm._) What a pity it is that the bath water isn't a _little_
hotter. I hate tepidity in anything. (_Sits on_ SYLVIA'S _left._)

(BOBBIE _serves bacon, sitting at the foot of the table, facing_ MRS.
DERMOTT.)

OLIVER. If Joyce didn't bounce in and take it all it _would_ be hotter.

JOYCE. I didn't have a bath at all this morning, so there.

OLIVER. Well, you're a dirty little pig then.

MRS. DERMOTT. There's probably something wrong with the boiler. I'll see
about it after breakfast.

(_Enter_ GRIGGS, _comes below_ MRS. DERMOTT.)

Oh, Griggs, just tap on Miss Crombie's door, will you, and tell her that
breakfast is ready.

GRIGGS. Miss Crombie wished me to say that she is taking breakfast in
her bedroom, madam. I'm sending up a tray.

MRS. DERMOTT. Quite right, Griggs. I wonder if she's feeling ill or
anything. I'll go up presently. Oh, and will you find out if Mr. Davis
is coming down soon?

GRIGGS. Mr. Davis is not in his room, madam.

MRS. DERMOTT. Not? How very strange--he's probably in the garden
somewhere. That'll do, Griggs?

(_Exit_ GRIGGS, R.)

Perhaps you'd better sound the gong again, Bobbie, he might not have
heard it.

(BOBBIE _crossing in front of table goes to the gong and bangs savagely
on it. Every one stops up their ears._)

MRS. DERMOTT. You seem to have taken a dislike to that gong, darling. We
must start without him, that's all. Do sit down, Oliver, you're much too
big to pace backwards and forwards like that. Pour out the coffee,
Sylvia dear, if it's ready.

(OLIVER _sits on_ EVANGELINE'S _left._ BOBBIE _sits again at the foot
of the table._ JOYCE _drops her fork with a loud clatter--every one
jumps._ SYLVIA _pours out coffee._)

EVANGELINE. If you'd endeavour to cultivate a little more repose, Joyce
dear, it would be an advantage.

JOYCE (_truculently_). I couldn't help it.

MRS. DERMOTT (_brightly_). Fancy--Fanny Harris is engaged.

BOBBIE (_gloomily_). What fun.

MRS. DERMOTT. It may not be fun to you, but it will be most amusing to
Mrs. Harris. I do wish Daniel would come in. Where can he be?

BOBBIE. No one cares, anyhow.

MRS. DERMOTT. How can you be so horrid, Bobbie--I did think you'd have
recovered from your silly temper before this. Fancy not being able to
take a joke.

OLIVER. It wasn't a joke, it was true.

MRS. DERMOTT. You really are utterly absurd. Pass me the toast. I
wouldn't have believed you could all have been so silly. I expect Uncle
Daniel is just laughing at you.

OLIVER. Yes, that's just what he _is_ doing.

MRS. DERMOTT. I really think, Oliver, that you, as the eldest, ought to
set a little better example. And the marmalade--thank you. After all,
considering how good he's been to us, we might allow him to have a
little joke without becoming disagreeable--even if it doesn't amuse us
very much. Why, I----

JOYCE. But, mother, I tell you it isn't a joke--it's the gospel truth.

MRS. DERMOTT. I've never known such a set of maddening children. Pass me
the paper, will you, Sylvia? I wish to read it.

(SYLVIA _hands her newspaper from window seat and she opens it out
and reads it, ignoring the family altogether. Telegraph--with extra
pages inserted._)

OLIVER (_breaking the silence_). Has any one seen my tennis racquet?

JOYCE. Bobbie had it yesterday.

BOBBIE. No, I didn't.

JOYCE. Yes, you did, you and Faith--I saw you.

OLIVER. Well, where is it now?

SYLVIA (_ruminatively_). I did see a racquet behind the summer house
this morning. Would that be it?

OLIVER (_furiously_). Look here, Bobbie, if you go leaving my racquet
out all night again I'll punch your head....

BOBBIE (_rising, flaring up_). I tell you I never touched your damned
racquet--I've got one of my own. (_Knocks his chair over._)

JOYCE. A jolly rotten one, though.

BOBBIE. Shut up, Joyce, and mind your own business.

EVANGELINE. Don't speak to Joyce like that, Bobbie. You ought to be
ashamed of yourself.

BOBBIE. I'll speak how I like.

OLIVER (_rising_). Not while I'm here, you won't.

BOBBIE (_jeeringly_). Come on, oh strong and silent elder brother, let's
be manly and knock one another about.

OLIVER. A little more of that would do you a lot of good.

BOBBIE. Well, you'd better not try it.

(OLIVER _knocks a plate on to the floor, breaking it._)

There, that's what happens when you let elephants loose in the house.
(_Picks up his chair._)

(_During this_, MRS. DERMOTT _does comic business with newspaper,
repeatedly dropping sheets and attempting to fold the paper._)

MRS. DERMOTT. Oliver, if you and Bobbie can't stop quarrelling you'd
better both leave the table. I can't think what's the matter with you
all. Just because Uncle Daniel chose to have a little fun with you, you
all behave like bears with sore heads.

(BOBBIE _and_ OLIVER _re-sit and continue eating._)

EVANGELINE. Uncle Daniel meant every word he said, mother. He hasn't got
a penny in the world.

MRS. DERMOTT. Nonsense, Evangeline. How do you suppose he could get
backwards and forwards to America and send me large cheques and things?

JOYCE. He wins a little from time to time by horse-racing.

MRS. DERMOTT. Rubbish. No one can ever win at horse-racing. I never did.
The bookies and jockeys and people don't let you.

EVANGELINE. Mother dear, how _can_ you be so obstinate. I tell you he
told us all about it in here yesterday afternoon--gave us his solemn
word----

MRS. DERMOTT. But only in fun, darling, only in fun--he's obviously a
very rich man.

OLIVER. Hah!

MRS. DERMOTT. By the by, I wish one of you would just go into the garden
and find him. The mushrooms will be ruined.

SYLVIA. He isn't in the garden at all, mother, he's gone to the _Green
Hart_.

(_All look surprised._)

MRS. DERMOTT. What do you mean, Sylvia? Why has he gone to the _Green
Hart_?

SYLVIA. Because every one here had been so beastly to him.

(_They all continue breakfast hurriedly._)

MRS. DERMOTT. You mean that he----! Oh, Sylvia! (_She bursts into
tears._)

SYLVIA. Mother darling, don't cry.... (_Rises and kisses her._)

MRS. DERMOTT (_weeping bitterly_). Darling Danny. My only brother. And
you've driven him away--after all his kindness and everything. Oh, how
could you? How could you? He must be sent for at once. (_She rises and
rings the bell, dropping bits of newspaper en route._) You're wicked,
wicked children, and you don't deserve any one to be kind to you ever
again.

(_Enter_ GRIGGS, R.)

Oh, Griggs, send the car down to the _Green Hart_ at once to fetch Mr.
Davis.

GRIGGS. Yes, madam.

(_Exit_ GRIGGS, R.)

MRS. DERMOTT (C.). How dare you behave like you have done. I shall
never, never forgive you--you're cruel and horrid and----

OLIVER. It's all very fine, mother, but he made fools of us.

MRS. DERMOTT. He didn't do anything of the sort--he only meant it
kindly--going to all that trouble, too (_she weeps again_), with one
foot in the grave.

BOBBIE. And the other in the _Green Hart_.

JOYCE. He's not going to die. He said he meant to live to eighty-two.

MRS. DERMOTT. Eighty-three, I think, was the age, dear, but that's just
another instance of his dear unselfishness--so that you wouldn't worry
over him. I know! I'm going up to my room--you've upset me for the rest
of the day. Call me the very moment he comes. Oh, how could you? How
could you be so unkind? Oh, just look at my nose, it's all red and
shiny.

(_Exit upstairs._ SYLVIA _follows, standing at the foot of the stairs,
looking after her. There is silence for a moment._)

BOBBIE. That's torn it.

JOYCE. Now what are we to do?

SYLVIA (_moving down_). I know. (_At head of table._)

OLIVER. What, then?

SYLVIA. Apologise to Uncle Dan, every one of you, for being such utter
beasts.

OLIVER. Well, I'm hanged!

(_During the following speech, the others continue their breakfasts._)

SYLVIA. So you jolly well ought to be. Who do you owe your position in
the motor works to, Oliver? Uncle Dan. Who do you owe your song
successes to, Bobbie? Uncle Dan. And you, Joyce, d'you think you'd have
won a single thing if it hadn't been for him? Do you imagine Evangeline
would have had the vim to have stuck to her novel if it hadn't been for
Uncle Dan's faith in her? I know I should never have done a thing,
either. And all we did it for apparently, was that he could die off
conveniently and leave us his money--the moment he'd done that I suppose
we should have stopped working. What charming characters! Waiting for a
man to die, and then getting disagreeable because he says he doesn't
want to. Do you think any one of you would stop work now for anything?
Of course you wouldn't. I know _that_. Don't you see that Uncle Dan
chose the one and only way of really helping us? He's worked wonders and
we ought to be thankful to him until our dying day....

BOBBIE (_marmalade on toast in hand_). It's all very fine for you--he
hasn't come between you and the only person you've ever loved....

SYLVIA. And that's one of the best things of all--he's been the means of
showing Faith up in her true colours. Bobbie, you must realise now in
your heart of hearts what a rotter she is?

BOBBIE. She wouldn't have been if it wasn't for her beastly mother. Just
because you found him out before us, by a fluke, you think you can
preach to us about being rude to him. Well, you'd have been just as bad
under the same circumstances, if not worse. The fact of you having
spotted his game doesn't make it any the less disgusting. He's behaved
atrociously and you know it, making fools of us all. What do you think
my friends will say? Joyce's school girls? Vangy's literary nuts?

SYLVIA (_coming down_ R. _to below Chesterfield_). It's your own silly
faults. You shouldn't have told them.

EVANGELINE (_rising_). Don't be so superior. Of course we only did in
confidence. (_Going up_ R., _followed by_ JOYCE.)

SYLVIA. Well, that's not Uncle Dan's fault, he only did it for the
best....

BOBBIE. Best be damned!

SYLVIA. If you can't curb your language I should think you'd better go
outside.

BOBBIE (_rising, knife in hand_). I shall do exactly as I like. I'm fed
up with you, Sylvia, you're as bad as he is. (_Throws knife on table._)
And if you think you can get round us by making excuses for him you're
jolly well mistaken. I suppose all this is a put-up job! (_Moves to_
L.C.)

SYLVIA (_R.C._). How dare you, Bobbie! It's nothing of the sort. Only
luckily I have a little discrimination, I can see the difference between
good and bad, and Uncle Dan's good, good all through. He wouldn't do
harm to any one or anything in the world. He did all this out of genuine
kindness. He couldn't help us in any other way, so he made us work,
hoping it would improve us. And I should think he'd go back to America
sick and wretched inside with disappointment having discovered that we,
his only relatives, have only liked him and been nice to him because of
his money--waiting for him to die like beastly treacherous ghouls.

(EVANGELINE _attempts to speak._)

That's what you are, ghouls! (_Turning on_ EVANGELINE.) And selfish
pigs, and if you don't apologise to him I shall never speak to any of
you again.

OLIVER. Hah! (_Throws down serviette and exits_ R.)

SYLVIA. Oh, you're very dignified walking out like that without saying
anything. I hate you! I hate you all! Poor Uncle Daniel--it's rotten.
(_She bursts out crying, and subsides on Chesterfield._)

(_Towards the end of her speech, the rest have risen and walked out with
their heads in the air_, R. BOBBIE _kicks violently at paper on floor
and goes upstairs. There is a moment's pause, then enter_ DANIEL
_from garden._)

DANIEL (_coming_ C.). I left the car down the drive, hoping to make a
sweet lovable entrance with perhaps a few rose leaves on my coat. Where
is everybody?

SYLVIA (_sniffing on Chesterfield_). It's no use, they're still being
beastly. Mother sent for you. She's frightfully upset at your going to
the _Green Hart_.

DANIEL. If they're keeping it up, I think I'd better go back. (_Moving
towards entrance._)

SYLVIA (_rising_). No, you're not to do anything of the sort, you're to
stay here. (_Firmly._) They can be as disagreeable as they like, we'll
go about together; you can come to the studio with me to-morrow morning.

DANIEL (_up to her_). You, Sylvia, are what is described as a
sympathetic character. You've been very nice to me all along. Can I
leave you anything?

SYLVIA. Don't joke about it, uncle, it's all so horrid.

DANIEL. If I don't joke I shall burst into storms of passionate sobbing.
(_Moves down_ C.)

SYLVIA. That would be rather awful. Here comes mother....

(_Enter_ MRS. DERMOTT _downstairs._)

MRS. DERMOTT. Danny darling, why were you so silly as to take any notice
of the children? They're unkind and heartless, and I ordered the
mushrooms specially for you this morning. Sit down and have them now.
They'll be quite hot still. (_She pushes him into chair._) Sylvia, get
them, if you please. I can't think why they're all behaving like this, I
shall never forgive them, Danny dear. You won't let them upset you, will
you?

(_She kisses him._ MRS. DERMOTT _sits in_ SYLVIA'S _chair_, DANIEL
_in_ MRS. DERMOTT'S.)

DANIEL. Well, they seem to have upset everything else.

(_Enter_ GRIGGS, R.)

MRS. DERMOTT. Bring some more toast and coffee, Griggs. Or would you
rather have tea?

DANIEL. Tea, please.

MRS. DERMOTT. Tea then, Griggs.

GRIGGS. Very good, madam. (_Picks up remains of paper above Chesterfield
and exit_ R.)

SYLVIA (_handing him plate of mushrooms and bacon_). Here you are, uncle
dear--I'm going upstairs. Call me if you want anything.

(_Exit_ SYLVIA _upstairs._)

DANIEL. I will.

MRS. DERMOTT. I'm sure he won't.

DANIEL. Now look here, Anne, you're not to include Sylvia in your fury
against the family. She has been perfectly sweet.

MRS. DERMOTT. So she ought to be--and the others as well. Such nonsense,
I never heard of such a thing. Not being able to take a joke better than
that. I don't know what's happened to them, they were such dear
good-natured children. They used to make booby traps and apple-pie beds
for one another and not mind a bit.

(MRS. DERMOTT _keeps buttering toast for him, arranging it round
his plate._)

DANIEL. But you see, Anne, this perhaps has irritated them more than an
apple-pie bed.

MRS. DERMOTT. I don't see why, it's just as harmless, and much less
trouble.

DANIEL. If I had known they were going to take it so badly I should have
thought of something else. I have lots of ideas. But even now, when I
come to look back over everything, I don't see what else I could have
done.

MRS. DERMOTT. You're just the kindest old darling in the world and
everything, every single thing you have done for us, has been perfect.

DANIEL. Dear Anne, don't be absurd. It was nothing, worse than nothing,
but I'd given it a lot of thought, and after all it has bucked them up
and made them work. They're looking much better in health, too.

MRS. DERMOTT. Oh, Danny, I only wish you were better in health. The
shadow of your illness just hangs over me like a nightmare. I can't pass
a flower shop without thinking of you.

DANIEL (_puts down knife and fork_). But I'm not ill at all. I've no
intention of dying until I'm eighty-three or even eighty-four.

MRS. DERMOTT. Dear old boy, you're only saying that so that I shan't
worry. (_She dabs her eyes._) But it's no use, you can't deceive me, you
know.

DANIEL. But, Anne, I swear.--

MRS. DERMOTT. There, there, we'll say no more about it. It only upsets
me and here's your tea.

(_She takes tea from_ GRIGGS, _who has entered with tea and toast. He
goes off again._)

Have you seen your doctor lately?

DANIEL (_resignedly_). Yes, I saw him the other day.

MRS. DERMOTT (_pouring out tea_). And what did he say?

DANIEL (_confused_). Well--er--I don't know--he sounded me.

MRS. DERMOTT. Yes, they always do that. I wonder why. Your illness has
nothing to do with your heart has it?

DANIEL (_firmly_). My dear Anne, I haven't got an illness.

MRS. DERMOTT. I'm sure I hope not, dear, but if he said that, I should
really get another more expert opinion if I were you. A man like that
can't be really reliable. I don't believe in doctors ever since poor
Millicent Jenkins died.

DANIEL. Look here, Anne, I really do want to make you understand that
what I told the children is perfectly true. I haven't any money.

MRS. DERMOTT. Nonsense, dear, you can't pull my leg as easily as that.
How were you able to send that cheque when I most needed it, and those
lovely Christmas presents, and the fares backwards and forwards to
America--I believe you've got some big surprise for us all later on and
you're afraid that we'll guess it.

DANIEL. Yes, I have.

MRS. DERMOTT (_rising_). Now look here, dear, I must leave you for a
little while. Saturday is the busiest morning in the whole week. Finish
off your breakfast and smoke a pipe--or a cigar or something; if any of
the children come near you, just ignore them or pretend to be
frightfully angry with them. That will bring them round.

(_Enter_ GRIGGS _hurriedly_, R.)

GRIGGS. If you please, madam, the boiler is making the most peculiar
noises. Shall I send for Brown to come and look at it?

MRS. DERMOTT. I don't think that will do it any good, but still perhaps
you'd better. I'll come myself in a minute.

(_Exit_ GRIGGS, R.)

MRS. DERMOTT (C.). Really, everything is going wrong this morning, first
you, Danny, then the boiler; sometimes life isn't worth living--I do
hope it won't burst.

(_Exit_ MRS. DERMOTT, R. DANIEL _sits thoughtful for a moment and_
_then resumes his breakfast. Enter_ JOYCE _from garden. She sees_
UNCLE DANIEL _and comes rather sheepishly up to him._)

JOYCE. Uncle, I----

DANIEL (_gruffly_). Good morning.

JOYCE (_feebly_). Good morning. (_There is a long pause._) Uncle
Daniel--we've--er--we've all been talking----

DANIEL. That's quite a natural and healthy occupation.

JOYCE. We--we were talking about you.

DANIEL. That makes it none the less natural or healthy.

JOYCE. Of course it didn't. You see--I mean to say--we--well, they sent
me in to tell you that----

DANIEL. Perhaps you'd better tell me another time when you are more in
the mood. Have you seen the papers anywhere?

JOYCE. They ought to be over there. (_She points to window seat_ R.,
_and goes down to_ BOBBIE'S _chair._)

DANIEL (_rising and moving quickly to_ R.). Thanks. Don't you bother--I
can get my own paper. (_Gets newspaper and returns to his seat at the
head of the table._)

(_There is a long silence_, DANIEL _reads the paper._ JOYCE _shakes her
head as_ OLIVER _strolls in from the garden and looks at_ JOYCE _for
news._)

OLIVER. Have you had your breakfast, uncle?

DANIEL. Yes, thank you, and I slept beautifully.

OLIVER. It's a jolly nice morning.

DANIEL. That remark makes up in truth for what it lacks in originality.

OLIVER. Oh. (_Moves to window_, L.C., _turns, catches_ DANIEL'S _eye and
turns quickly back._)

(JOYCE _continues to fidget at the foot of the table. Enter_ BOBBIE
_downstairs and_ EVANGELINE, R. _They look meaningly at_ JOYCE,
_who shakes her head vigorously._)

DANIEL. Have you a headache, Joyce, you keep wagging it about.

JOYCE (_very politely_). No, thank you, uncle, I----

DANIEL. Splendid, then I shan't have to offer you an aspirin.

EVANGELINE and BOBBIE (_together, coming forward hand-in-hand down_
R.C.). Uncle, we've all been----SPACELEFT(_They stop._)

DANIEL. Yes?

(_There is business of each of them wishing the other to speak to_ DANIEL.)

Tell me one thing, if any of you are capable of uttering a word, is this
a game? Have I got to guess whether something's a vegetable or a mineral
or something?

EVANGELINE. No, uncle, it's a much harder game than that--for us,
anyhow. We've come to apologise.

DANIEL (_lowering the paper_). Oh, have you? (_Turns to them._)

EVANGELINE. Oh, won't you please be nice and make it easier for us?

DANIEL. You none of you made things in the least easy for me.

EVANGELINE. I know we didn't, but we're all sorry--frightfully
sorry--we've talked it all over. Sylvia said we were beasts and ghouls
and we wouldn't admit it then, but we do now. We are terribly ashamed of
the way we've behaved. Please, please say you forgive us. (_Kneels to
him._)

BOBBIE (_placing chair behind Chesterfield_). And it doesn't matter
about Faith, uncle, I'm glad you were the means of showing her up. I
don't love her a bit now. I hate her, and we all want you to understand
that we'd rather have you alive and with us than all the beastly money
in the world.

JOYCE (_leaning forward over table_). And we'll do anything you like to
atone for it. We'll abase ourselves like they used to in the olden days
to show they repented.

OLIVER. Will you let it go at that, uncle? (_He comes forward to_ L.
_of_ DANIEL.)

DANIEL (_softly_). I should just think I will. (_Kisses_ EVANGELINE.)

(JOYCE _comes round and kisses him._ OLIVER _moves down_ L. EVANGELINE
_moves behind table._)

JOYCE (_running to_ R.). Sylvia! Sylvia! Mother, come here! It's all
right!

(_Enter_ MRS. DERMOTT _from_ R.)

MRS. DERMOTT. I've just come out of the boiler. What on earth is all
this noise?

JOYCE. We've all made it up with Uncle Daniel and he's forgiven us.

MRS. DERMOTT. I'm sure I'm very glad, darlings, and I hope you're none
of you too old to take a lesson from it. (_Comes to_ DANIEL'S R.)

(_Enter_ SYLVIA _downstairs._)

SYLVIA. Is everything forgiven and forgotten?

DANIEL. Everything. (_Rising._)

(_Enter_ GRIGGS, R., _with cablegram._)

GRIGGS (_handing it to_ UNCLE DANIEL). For you, sir.

DANIEL. Excuse me. (_Takes it, opens it in silence and reads it._) My
God!

MRS. DERMOTT. What is it, dear, what is it?

DANIEL. It's not true! After all these years, I can't believe it!

SYLVIA. What is it, Uncle, tell us, tell us, quick.

DANIEL. It's from my agent. Listen! (_Reads._) "Struck big vein, Santa
Lyta mine--come at once!" I'm worth thousands, thousands. (_Going down_
R. _gives_ MRS. DERMOTT _telegram as he passes her. The others, except_
SYLVIA, _crowd round her_ C., _excited at the news._)

MRS. DERMOTT. There now.... I told you so.

SYLVIA (_coming_ L. _of him_). Uncle! Did you send that telegram to
yourself?

UNCLE. Yes!!!


    CURTAIN.

[Illustration: A Sheet of Musical Notation: "Faith."

Words by ESMÉ WYNNE.

Music by NOËL COWARD.

_Andante grazioso._

1. The sweetest name that ever I heard is

Faith,... Oh! fair-er than the voice of Spring it seems;.... I

think all day on its de-light, And when my eyes are dim with night A
single star shines

ever thro' my dreams.... The star of Faith.


2. The dearest name that ever I heard is

Faith,... Though all the gifts of God were mine to choose.... And

I were Lord of night and day, At Love's dear shrine I still would pray
"For Thee this pow'r and

treasure I would lose.".... Just give me Faith.]


[Illustration: SCENE PLOT--This scene plot indicates how the scene was
set at the New Theatre, London. The play can be given, of course,
without a staircase.]


ACT I

1. Club fender.

2. Small sideboard.

3. Chesterfield.

4. Jacobean form.

5. Armchair.

6. Small sideboard.

7. Chair.

8. Armchair.

9. Chair.

10. Small table.

11. Expanding table. If difficulty is experienced in obtaining an
expanding table, a small table can be used for the first two acts and a
table of sufficient size to seat three people on one side substituted
for the last act.

12, 13 and 14. Chairs.

15, 16 and 17. Cushions.

18. Gong.

19. Hall stand and hats.

20. Chair.

21. Small table.

22. Mirror.

23. Electric light switch.


ALTERATIONS FOR ACT II

Open out all curtains in windows.

Open window up L.C.

Remove 2 and 7.

Substitute in their places a Baby Grand piano and a piano stool.

Bring 9 and 10 down to above table (11)--the chair facing window L.

Change cushions.

Place model of motor on piano.

Place typewriter on 10, cover beside it.

Change flowers.

Place papers on window seats, Chesterfield, table and form.

Flowers in grate.

Ash tray on club fender.

Matches on mantel.

Syphon and glasses on sideboard.

Writing materials and music paper on 11.


ALTERATIONS FOR ACT III

Put back 10 to original position.

Change 12 and 5.

Put 4 by table, side nearest the audience.

Place 7, 9, 14 on opposite side.

13 at foot of table, nearest window L.

Lay breakfast for eight on table, consisting of rose bowl in centre,
toast rack, marmalade, entrée dish, plate of bread, butter, tray of
teacups, etc., sugar, pile of plates, and for each person a bread plate,
a serviette, a fork, two knives.

Remove racquet and models.

Close piano.

Put cover on typewriter.

Remove most papers, ash trays, etc.

Remove everything from sideboard.

Place daily papers on window seat L.

Letter on table.



PROPERTY PLOT


ACT I

Carpet.

Rugs.

Chesterfield.

2 sideboards (Jacobean).

Club fender.

Low form (Jacobean).

Oblong table (Jacobean) to seat 8.

Typewriter table.

Armchair.

6 small chairs: Jacobean.

2 armchairs: Jacobean.

2 pairs window curtains.

Cushions on window seats.

Pictures (hunting prints).

Book (Evangeline) off R.

Telegram (Griggs) off R. on salver.

Door bell effect off R.

Books and periodicals on table.

Crêpe-de-chine "undies."

Fire-irons, etc.

Winter flowers in vases.

Salver (off R.).

Hall-stand.

Coats, hats, etc.

Mirror on stairs.


ACT II

Typewriter with cover.

Miscellaneous papers.

Model of motor engine on board on piano.

Manuscript music paper on table.

Writing materials on table.

Pencil (Bobbie).

Baby Grand piano and stool.

Quantity of sheet music.

Door knock effect off R.

Knitting (Evangeline) off R.

Illustrated papers.

Motor horn effect off R.

Matches on mantel.

Tantalus on sideboard R.

Syphon of soda.

2 glasses (whisky).

Cigarette case (Daniel).

Cigarette case (Mrs. Crombie).

Glass jug of water.

Telegram (Mrs. Dermott off L.).

Tennis Racquet off R.

Cigarettes.

Ash tray on club fender.

Waste-paper basket.

Bank of flowers in fireplace.


ACT III

5 morning papers on window seat L.C.

Bunch of roses (Sylvia) off R.

Suit case (Daniel) off R.C.

Gong and beater off R.

Flower bowl.

Letter on table.

Teapot off R. with tea for one.

Cablegram off R.

Plate, fork and spoon on sideboard.

Paper on Chesterfield.

Breakfast for 8 people as follows:--

Large silver tray for teacups.

Small silver tray off R.

Tablecloth.

Table centre.

8 medium plates.

8 small plates.

16 knives (small).

8 forks (small).

8 breakfast cups and saucers on silver tray.

8 spoons.

8 serviettes.

Cruet.

2 toast racks and toast.

1 toast rack and toast off R.

Marmalade dish and marmalade.

Butter dish and "butter."

Sugar bowl and sugar.

Spoons for sugar and marmalade.

Entrée dish with "bacon."

Entrée dish with mushrooms off R.

2 large spoons and forks.

Cut bread on plate.

Coffee urn and coffee off R. (for five).

Milk jug and hot milk off R.

Bread fork.

Sugar tongs.

Rosebowl.

Butter knife.



ELECTRIC PLOT


ACT I.

Table lamp on table L.C.  } connected by practical switch R. side of
Hanging lamp on stairs.   } Bannisters _out_ to open.

2 wall brackets.

Bell push above fireplace.

Fire (alight).

Red lime in fireplace.

_Floats._ C. and O.P. sections, _white_, slightly down on resistance to
open.

_No._ 1 _batten._ C. section only. _White._

P. perches. Dark amber to open.

O.P. perches. 1 red, 1 dark amber.

Light amber on garden backings.

Lengths in corridor and stairway.

_At Cue. "Thank God I've got you."_ Slowly check floats, batten, and
backing limes (garden).

_At Cue. "Do let's hurry."_ Bring up floats and No. 1 batten as BOBBIE
switches on lamps. Change P. perches to light amber and O.P. red to dark
amber.

_At Cue. Sylvia drawing curtains,_ slowly check backing limes _out_.


ACTS II AND III.

Same sections of _floats_ and _batten_ as Act I.

Full up, _white_.

O.P. perches, light amber.

P. perches, flood white.

Garden backings flood white, and into room fire off. Lamps and brackets
off.


MADE AND PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY WHITSTABLE LITHO LTD., WHITSTABLE,
KENT


NOEL COWARD


I'LL LEAVE IT TO YOU


ISBN 0 573 01199 0





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