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Title: The Brass Bottle - A Farcical Fantastic Play in Four Acts
Author: Anstey, F., 1856-1934
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Brass Bottle - A Farcical Fantastic Play in Four Acts" ***

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_THE BRASS BOTTLE_

_UNIFORM WITH THIS VOLUME_

Cloth 2s. 6d.; paper covers, 1s. 6d. each.

    PLAYS BY    ARTHUR PINERO
                GILBERT MURRAY
                W. E. HENLEY & R. L. STEVENSON
                GERHART HAUPTMANN
                EDMUND ROSTAND
                HENRIK IBSEN
                C. HADDON CHAMBERS
                ROBERT MARSHALL
                HERMAN HEIJERMANS
                FRANZ ADAM BEYERLEIN

_LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN
21 Bedford Street, W.C._



_THE BRASS BOTTLE_

_A FARCICAL FANTASTIC PLAY_

_In Four Acts_

_BY F. ANSTEY_

_LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN_

_MCMXI_


_Copyright, 1911, London, by William Heinemann_

COPY OF THE "FIRST NIGHT" PROGRAMME AT THE VAUDEVILLE THEATRE, LONDON


THE BRASS BOTTLE A Farcical Play in Four Acts BY F. ANSTEY PERFORMED FOR
THE FIRST TIME ON THURSDAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 16, 1909

       *       *       *       *       *

HORACE VENTIMORE              MR. LAURENCE GROSSMITH
PROFESSOR ANTHONY FUTVOYE     MR. ALFRED BISHOP
FAKRASH-EL-AAMASH             MR. E. HOLMAN CLARK
SPENCER PRINGLE               MR. RUDGE HARDING
SAMUEL WACKERBATH             MR. LUIGI LABLACHE
RAPKIN                        MR. J. H. BREWER
CHIEF OF CARAVAN              MR. A. SPENCER
HEAD EFREET                   MR. JOHN CAREY
A WAITER                      MR. WALTER RINGHAM
MRS. FUTVOYE                  MISS LENA HALLIDAY
SYLVIA FUTVOYE                MISS VIVA BIRKETT
MRS. RAPKIN                   MISS MARY BROUGH
MRS. WACKERBATH               MISS ARMINE GRACE
JESSIE                        MISS GLADYS STOREY
ZOBEIDA (Principal Dancing Girl)
MISS MABEL DUNCAN

DANCERS.   Misses Phyllis Birkett, Florence A. Pigott, Susie Nainby,
Dorothy Beaufey, Nina De Leon, Cynthia Farnham



_SYNOPSIS OF SCENERY_


ACTS I AND II

HORACE VENTIMORE'S ROOMS

_There will be an Interval of Two Minutes after Act I, and Eight Minutes
after Act II_


ACT III

SCENE I. VENTIMORE'S OFFICE

SCENE II. DRAWING-ROOM AT THE FUTVOYES'

_There will be One Minute Interval between Scenes I and II, during which
the Audience are requested to keep their seats. After Act III, Eight
Minutes._


ACT IV

SCENE I. VENTIMORE'S ROOMS

SCENE II. "PINAFORE" ROOM, SAVOY HOTEL

_There will be an Interval of One Minute between Scenes I and II, during
which the Audience are requested to keep their seats._


The Scenery painted by WALTER HANN AND SON.

The Play has been Produced (for MR. GASTON MAYER) by MR. FREDERICK KERR.


The Amateur fee for each and every
representation of this play is five
guineas, payable in advance to the
Author's Sole Agents, Messrs.
Samuel French, Ltd., 26 Southampton
Street, Strand, London,
W.C.



_THE PERSONS OF THE PLAY_

HORACE VENTIMORE (a young Architect, aged 28)
PROFESSOR ANTHONY FUTVOYE (an Egyptologist, aged 60)
FAKRASH-EL-AAMASH (a Jinnee of the Green Jinn, age uncertain)
SPENCER PRINGLE (an Architect, aged 32)
SAMUEL WACKERBATH (an Auctioneer and Estate Agent, aged 60)
RAPKIN (Ventimore's Landlord, a retired butler, aged 55)
CHIEF OF CARAVAN
HEAD EFREET
A WAITER (at the Savoy Hotel)
MRS. FUTVOYE (aged 55)
SYLVIA FUTVOYE (her Daughter, aged 21)
MRS. RAPKIN (Ventimore's Landlady)
MRS. WACKERBATH
JESSIE (Parlour-maid at the Futvoyes')
PRINCIPAL DANCING GIRL
CARAVAN SLAVES, MUSICIANS, EFREETS, DANCING GIRLS

       *       *       *       *       *


_ACTS I AND II_

VENTIMORE'S ROOMS IN VINCENT SQUARE, WESTMINSTER


_ACT III_

SCENE I. VENTIMORE'S OFFICE IN GREAT COLLEGE STREET, WESTMINSTER

SCENE II. A DRAWING-ROOM AT THE FUTVOYES' HOUSE IN COTTESMORE GARDENS,
KENSINGTON


_ACT IV_

SCENE I. VENTIMORE'S ROOMS

SCENE II. THE "PINAFORE" ROOM AT THE SAVOY HOTEL



THE BRASS BOTTLE



THE FIRST ACT


                         _The scene represents HORACE
                         VENTIMORE'S rooms in Vincent
                         Square, Westminster._

                         _The sitting-room is simply but
                         artistically furnished and
                         decorated. Walls with a
                         lining-paper of a pleasant green,
                         hung with coloured prints and
                         etchings. Fireplace at back. Down
                         left is a large open French window,
                         opening on a balcony, with a view
                         beyond of the open square and some
                         large dull-red gasometers in the
                         distance. Above the window is a
                         small Sheraton bookcase. On the
                         right of fireplace is a door
                         leading to the landing and
                         staircase. Down on the right,
                         another door to VENTIMORE'S
                         bedroom. Above this door, a
                         small Sheraton sideboard. Near the
                         window on left is an armchair, and
                         by it a table, with two smaller
                         chairs. [N.B.--Right and Left
                         mean the spectator's Right and Left
                         throughout._]

                         _The time is late afternoon in
                         summer._

                        _When the curtain rises there is no
                        one in the room. A knock is heard at
                        the door on right of fireplace.
                        Then, after a pause, MRS. RAPKIN
                        enters. She is a pleasant, neatly
                        dressed, elderly woman, of the
                        respectable landlady class. She
                        wears a cooking-apron and her
                        sleeves are turned up. She looks
                        round the room, and turns to the
                        door as PROFESSOR FUTVOYE appears._

MRS. RAPKIN.

Mr. Ventimore don't seem to be in, after all, sir. Unless he's in his
bedroom. [_She comes down to the door on right, as PROFESSOR, MRS., and
MISS FUTVOYE enter from the other door. PROFESSOR FUTVOYE is elderly and
crabbed; his wife, grey-haired and placid, bearing with him as with an
elderly and rather troublesome child; SYLVIA FUTVOYE, their daughter, is
a pretty and attractive girl of about twenty. MRS. RAPKIN knocks at the
bedroom door._] Mr. Ventimore! A gentleman and two ladies to see you. [_She
opens the door--then, to the PROFESSOR._] No, sir, he hasn't come in
yet--but he won't be long now.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_By the table._] Are you _sure_ of that, ma'am?

MRS. RAPKIN.

Well, sir, he said as how he'd be in early, to make sure as everythink was
as it _should_ be. [_In a burst of confidence._] If you _must_ know, he's
expecting company to dinner this evening.

                         [_SYLVIA has moved to the window;
                         MRS. FUTVOYE stands by the table._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Placing his hat and stick on a small shelf on the left of fireplace, and
standing by table._] I'm aware of that, ma'am. We happen to be the company
Mr. Ventimore is expecting. Don't let us keep you from your cooking.

MRS. RAPKIN.

[_With another burst of confidence._] Well, sir, to tell you the truth, I
'_ave_ a good deal on my 'ands just now.

                         [_She goes out by door at back._

SYLVIA.

[_After moving about and inspecting the pictures._] I rather like Horace's
rooms.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Irritably._] I wish he'd manage to be _in_ 'em! I fully expected he'd be
back by this time. _Most_ annoying!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Resignedly._] I _thought_ you were bringing us all this way for nothing!
And when you must be quite exhausted enough as it is, after lecturing all
the afternoon!

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

I'm not in the least exhausted, Sophia; not in the least!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Well, Anthony, if _you're_ not, Sylvia and I are! [_She sits in armchair by
the window._] But _why_ you couldn't wait till eight o'clock to know how
Horace got on at that sale I _can't_ think!

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

He ought to have been back _long_ ago! I can see _no_ excuse for his
dawdling like this. None whatever!

                         [_He sits on right of table._

SYLVIA.

[_Standing behind table._] Perhaps he went back to his office?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Tartly._] He's much more likely to have dropped into his club for a
rubber of Bridge!

SYLVIA.

Don't you think you're rather ungrateful to grumble at poor Horace like
this, after he's given up a whole day's work to oblige you?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

I was not aware, my dear, that he has, or ever had, a day's work to give
up! Correct me if I am wrong--but I am under the impression that nobody has
employed him as an architect _yet_.

SYLVIA.

That isn't Horace's fault!

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Possibly--but it doesn't make him more desirable as a future son-in-law.

SYLVIA.

Horace is sure to succeed as soon as he gets a chance. [_Sitting on table
and leaning over the PROFESSOR._] If you would only say a word for him to
Godfather, he might be able to help him.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Wackerbath? No, my dear, I couldn't bring myself to take such an advantage
of our old friendship as _that_! I've no belief in Ventimore's succeeding
in life. He _may_ have ability--though I'm bound to say I see little
_evidence_ of it--but, depend upon it, he'll never make any money!

SYLVIA.

How _can_ you tell?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Because he can't even take care of the little he has! Look at the money
he's throwing away on this totally unnecessary dinner to-night!

SYLVIA.

Oh! When it's just a quiet little dinner in his own rooms! If it had been
the _Carlton_, now!

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

He proposed to entertain us at the Carlton at first--but I stopped _that_.
It all bears out what I say--that he has absolutely _no_ sense of the value
of----

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Interposing calmly._] There, Anthony, that's enough! Horace is engaged to
Sylvia--and the most sensible thing we can do is to make the best of it.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Rising and moving to the right._] I _am_ making the best of it, Sophia!
If Ventimore was like Spencer Pringle, now!----

SYLVIA.

He would never have been engaged to _me_!

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_To SYLVIA._] Pringle, my dear, is a steady, hard-working young fellow.
I've a real respect and liking for _Pringle_. And if I _must_ have an
architect for a son-in-law, he is the man _I_ should have preferred!

SYLVIA.

Why, he hasn't been near us for weeks and weeks--and I hope he means to
stay away altogether! I always thought him a conceited prig.

                         [_Moving towards door at back._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

You may come to think differently, my dear. [_Pulling out his watch._]
Nearly half-past six! Tut-tut! All this time wasted! It's useless to wait
any longer for Ventimore. We may just as well go!

                         [_He goes to get his hat and
                         stick._

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Rising._] I knew how it would _be_!

SYLVIA.

[_At door._] Wait! [_Opens door and listens._] There's Horace coming
upstairs! I'm sure it's his step!

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Stops by table with relief._] At last! Now I shall know!

                         [_SPENCER PRINGLE enters. He is a
                         smug, self-satisfied looking man of
                         about thirty-five, smooth-shaven,
                         except for small side-whiskers. He
                         is in a light tweed suit, having
                         just come up from the country._

SYLVIA.

[_Repressing her disappointment._] Mr. Pringle!

PRINGLE.

[_In doorway._] Miss Sylvia! Mrs. Futvoye! [_Shaking hands with the
PROFESSOR._] Professor! Well! this is unexpected.

                         [_SYLVIA comes down to right._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Graciously._] Glad to see you, Pringle! You are quite a stranger. Indeed,
my daughter was remarking, only a little while ago, that you hadn't been
near us for weeks!

SYLVIA.

[_In an indignant undertone._] _Father!_

                         [_MRS. FUTVOYE sits down again._

PRINGLE.

[_To SYLVIA, flattered._] Delighted to think I've been missed! But my
apparent--er--neglect has been quite unavoidable.

SYLVIA.

[_Laughing._] So kind of you to relieve our minds, Mr. Pringle!

PRINGLE.

[_Solemnly._] I assure you it's the fact. I've been away constantly for the
last two months, superintending work I'm doing in various parts of the
country. [_With importance._] Hardly a moment to call my own!

                         [_SYLVIA turns with the intention
                         of sitting down; he places a chair
                         for her._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Taking chair behind table._] A busy man like _you_, my dear Pringle, has
no need to make excuses.

PRINGLE.

[_Fetching a chair for himself._] I really have been fearfully overworked.
Not that I complain of _that_! [_As he sits down between the PROFESSOR
and SYLVIA._] I'd no idea we should meet _here_, though. Is Ventimore a
friend of yours?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Oh, we know him, yes. As _you_ do, it seems.

PRINGLE.

I sublet a room in my offices to him. Rather a good arrangement for him,
because he gets experience by looking after any little matters that I've no
time to attend to.

SYLVIA.

[_With suppressed resentment._] And isn't that rather a good arrangement
for _you_?

PRINGLE.

It works fairly well--as a rule. But when I returned from the country this
afternoon I found he hadn't been near the office all day!

                         [_He rises, takes SYLVIA'S
                         parasol officiously, and places it
                         in a corner, then returns._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_To his wife, but speaking at SYLVIA._] Not been near the office all day!
I _thought_ as much!

SYLVIA.

The reason _why_ he wasn't able to help you, Mr. Pringle, is because he's
been at an auction, bidding for things on father's account.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

I should have attended the sale myself but for an engagement to lecture at
the Hieroglyphical on a recently inscribed cylinder.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

And--you'll hardly believe it, Mr. Pringle,--but, the moment the lecture
was over, he hurried us off here to find out what Mr. Ventimore had got
for him! It's really too ridiculous! As if his study wasn't littered up
quite enough already!

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Women, my dear Pringle, can't understand the feelings of a collector. It's
not _every_ day, I can tell you, that a collection of such importance comes
into the market.

PRINGLE.

I didn't know Ventimore was an expert in such things. I thought you could
get brokers to bid for you.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Of course--of course. But I don't trust brokers--they know too much! And,
as I gave Ventimore my own catalogue, with a tick against the lots I want
and the limit I'm prepared to go, noted on the margin, he _can't_ make any
mistake.

PRINGLE.

I suppose not. That is, if he's _accustomed_ to auctions.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

What do you mean?

PRINGLE.

Only that if you _aren't_, there's always a liability to lose your head in
the excitement, and go beyond the margin. But I daresay Ventimore wouldn't
do _that_.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

If he _has_! [_He rises excitedly._] And he might--he _might_! With his
recklessness about money, it's the very thing he _would_ do! Letting me in
for prices I can't afford! [_Passionately._] No wonder he is in no hurry to
show himself--no wonder!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Rising and attempting to pacify him._] Now, Anthony, there's nothing to
work yourself up into a state for, at present. Do for goodness' sake wait
till you hear all about it!

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Resentfully._] It seems I shall _have_ to wait, Sophia--but I'm tired of
waiting _here_. [_He goes to get his hat and stick._] And evidently he
doesn't intend to----

                        [_Turns, as the door opens and
                        HORACE VENTIMORE comes in briskly.
                        HORACE is a pleasant-looking young
                        man, with a cheery and rather boyish
                        manner; he comes down and greets the
                        FUTVOYES without seeing PRINGLE for
                        the moment; SYLVIA has risen,
                        delighted at his arrival._

HORACE.

I _say_! This is jolly! [_Shaking hands._] Wish I'd known you were coming
on here after the lecture. [_PRINGLE rises, and waits stiffly for
recognition._] Warm work, wasn't it, Professor, lecturing on an afternoon
like this? Do sit down. [_Looks at table._] Haven't they given you any
tea?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Irritably._] No, no, no. We want no tea. It's too late for tea. We merely
looked in on our way home to----

HORACE.

[_Sees PRINGLE._] And Pringle, too! [_Pats him on shoulder._] How are you,
old fellow? You been at the lecture, too?

PRINGLE.

[_With implied rebuke._] No, I've only just come round--as you weren't at
the office,--to----

HORACE.

I've been engaged all day. Oh, by the bye, do you know Professor and
Mrs.----

                         [_Is about to introduce him._

PRINGLE.

[_Stiffly._] I am happy to say, my dear fellow, that I require no
introduction. We are old friends.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Impatiently._] To come to the point, Ventimore, as we are rather pressed
for time--about the sale? How did you get on, eh?

HORACE.

Oh, ah--the sale. [_Producing catalogue from pocket._] Well, I did exactly
as you told me.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Snatching catalogue from him._] Yes, yes. Let's go through it lot by
lot. Lot 23, now. Did you get that?

HORACE.

No. Another fellow got _that_.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Annoyed._] Tssch! Well,--so long as you secured Lot 35. [_Reading from
catalogue._] "Copper bowl, engraved round rim with verse from Hafiz," you
know. Come, you didn't miss _that_?

[_SYLVIA is listening anxiously._

HORACE.

I did, though. It was snapped up by a sportsman in the very worst hat I
ever saw in my life. He got it for sixteen guineas.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Disgusted._] What? A rare example of early Persian work like that going
for only sixteen guineas! I'd willingly have paid double the money!

HORACE.

But your limit was seven pound ten, sir! And you warned me not to exceed
it.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

You should have used your own judgment, sir! Well, well,--which of the lots
I marked _did_ you get?

HORACE.

[_Going to SYLVIA, who is sympathetically distressed._] Couldn't get one
of 'em. They all fetched record prices.

_Professor Futvoye._

[_Violently._] Upon my soul!... Pringle, you were right! I ought to have
employed a broker! [_To HORACE._] So you've come back with absolutely
_nothing_?

HORACE.

Well, no. I did manage to get _one_ thing.

SYLVIA.

I _knew_ you would!

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_To HORACE._] You did? But I understood you to say just now----!

HORACE.

This was a little flutter on my own account. I thought I'd stick the sale
out, do you see; and near the end there was an extra lot put up--it wasn't
in the catalogue. [_The PROFESSOR makes an exclamation of angry
disgust._] Well, it was being passed round for us to look at--and nobody
seemed to think much of it. But it struck me, somehow, it might be a dark
horse, so I made a bid--and got it for only a sovereign!

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Pah!

SYLVIA.

But you haven't told us yet what it _is_.

HORACE.

Haven't I? Oh, well, it's a sort of metal jar. Brass, the auctioneer said
it was.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Tchah! Some modern bazaar trash!

HORACE.

It doesn't _look_ modern. I left it downstairs to be cleaned. [_Going to
door right of fireplace._] I'll go and bring it up.

                         [_He goes out._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Furious._] I've no patience with the fellow! Squandering his sovereigns
like this on worthless rubbish!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Don't be so fractious, Anthony! For all you can tell, he may have picked up
a treasure.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Grimly._] He _may_, Sophia. On the other hand, he may _not_. Which, on
the whole, is rather more probable.

                         [_He retires up to the fireplace
                         as HORACE returns, carrying a
                         large metal bottle with a long neck
                         and bulbous body, encrusted with a
                         thick greenish-white deposit.
                         PRINGLE closes the door for him
                         after he has entered._

HORACE.

[_Bringing the bottle down to right of table._] Here it is! [_The
others--except the PROFESSOR, who remains aloof--gather round and examine
it in dubious silence._] It's not much to _look_ at.

PRINGLE.

Very dusty! [_Wipes his hand after touching the bottle._] And you gave a
_sovereign_ for this, Ventimore, eh? H'm! Dear me!

SYLVIA.

It may look better when it's had a good scrubbing.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Scrubbing, my dear! It will have to be _scraped_ first!

HORACE.

Yes--looks as if it had been dragged up from the bottom of the sea, doesn't
it? I've an idea it may be worth something. I should like to have _your_
opinion, Professor.

                         [_He smiles uneasily._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_After a glance at it._] My opinion is that you might just as well have
flung your sovereign into the gutter!

HORACE.

I admit it was speculative--but it _may_ turn out a winner. It's rather odd
it should be so tightly sealed up.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_With more interest._] Sealed up, is it? [_Coming down and looking at it
more carefully._] H'm--the _form_ is certainly antique. It's wonderful what
they can do in Birmingham!

HORACE.

I really think it may have something inside it. It's not so very heavy, and
yet--[_tapping it_]--it doesn't sound quite as if it were empty.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

It _might_ contain something. I think it most unlikely--but still, it
_might_.

SYLVIA.

[_Laughing._] You don't mean it might be like that jar the Fisherman found
in "The Arabian Nights," with a Genius inside it?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

I did _not_ mean anything so frivolous, my dear. And, if you _must_ quote
"The Arabian Nights," it's as well to remember in future that the more
correct term is not "Genius," but "Jinnee." Singular, Jinnee--plural, Jinn.

SYLVIA.

I'll remember, dear. Singular, Jinn--plural, Jinnies.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Instructively._] A name applied by Arab mythology to a race of aerial
beings, created of the flame of fire, but capable of assuming human form
and exercising supernatural powers.

SYLVIA.

Oh, do let's open it now and see what _is_ inside!

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Don't be childish, Sylvia, don't be childish! We've no time now for idle
curiosity. If we're to dress and be back here by eight o'clock, we ought to
start at once. [_MRS. FUTVOYE prepares to go and moves towards door._]
Good-bye, then, Ventimore, for the present. [_He gets his hat and stick._]
It is not to be an _elaborate_ entertainment, I trust? A simple ordinary
little dinner is all _I_ require.

HORACE.

[_As he opens the door for MRS. FUTVOYE._] I've tried to remember your
tastes, Professor.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

I hope you have succeeded. Good-bye, Pringle. Very glad to have run across
you again. Let us see more of you in future.

PRINGLE.

[_Going to the door with him._] You shall, Professor, you shall.
[_Following PROFESSOR and MRS. FUTVOYE out to landing._] By the way,
are you likely to be in next----?

                         [_HORACE closes door, leaving
                         SYLVIA still looking at the
                         bottle._

SYLVIA.

[_Turning as he comes down to her._] I'm certain there must be _something_
inside that jar. And if it's anything really interesting, father will be so
frightfully pleased that he won't be disagreeable all the evening!

HORACE.

[_Ruefully._] Ah, I'm afraid that's too much to look forward to.

SYLVIA.

[_Touching his arm with a little gesture of sympathy._] You poor dear!
You're not beginning to be nervous about your dinner, are you?

HORACE.

N--no. Not _nervous_ exactly. Something _might_ go wrong. Still, I hope
there won't be _much_ your father can find fault with.

SYLVIA.

I'm sure there won't! And if he does, why, _we_ won't mind, will we? We
shall be together, you know!

HORACE.

[_Putting his arm round her._] That's what I've been thinking of all day!

                         [_He kisses her as PRINGLE
                         returns, unseen by them. His jaw
                         drops as he sees them together._

PRINGLE.

[_Coming forward._] Er----[_HORACE and SYLVIA separate._] Miss
Sylvia--the Professor asked me to tell you----

SYLVIA.

I was just coming. [_Taking her parasol and moving to door, which PRINGLE
has left open._] Good-bye, Mr. Pringle. [_Stopping HORACE and PRINGLE
as they are about to see her down the stairs._] No, you mustn't come down,
either of you. [_To HORACE, with an affectation of distance._]
Good-bye--Mr. Ventimore.

                         [_She goes out._

PRINGLE.

[_By the table._] I should like to ask you, Ventimore, have you known Miss
Futvoye _long_?

HORACE.

[_Still at door, looking after SYLVIA._] A little over six weeks.

PRINGLE.

And I have known her for as many years!

HORACE.

[_Closing door, and coming towards him._] Have you, though? I noticed the
Professor was uncommonly cordial to you. Look here, are you doing anything
this evening?

PRINGLE.

Er--no. That is, nothing particular. Why?

HORACE.

Because it would be friendly of you if you'd come and dine here. _They're_
coming, you know.

PRINGLE.

I know. [_After a moment's hesitation._] Thanks, I don't mind if I do.

HORACE.


Capital! I'm sure if any one can keep the old man in a good humour, _you_
can.

PRINGLE.

[_Sourly._] I see. You want me to engage him in conversation and leave you
free to carry on your flirtation with Miss Futvoye unobserved?

HORACE.

Not quite that. There's nothing _underhand_ about it. We're engaged, you
know.

PRINGLE.

Engaged! [_After a pause._] And how long have you been that?

HORACE.

Only since the day before yesterday.

PRINGLE.

[_Blankly._] Oh! [_He walks down to window._] I congratulate you;
er--heartily, of course. [_Looking out of window._] And--and when do you
think of being married?

HORACE.

It's no use thinking of that, at present. Not till the Professor takes a
rosier view of my prospects, at all events. But if, like a good fellow, you
could put in a word for me, it would give me no end of a leg up!

PRINGLE.

[_Dully, with his face still averted._] You don't seem to realise what
you're asking!

HORACE.

[_Suddenly understanding, with compunction._] My _dear_ chap! [_He puts
both his hands on PRINGLE'S shoulders._] What a selfish brute I've been
not to see! I _am_ sorry!

PRINGLE.

[_Stiffly._] As a matter of fact, I'd quite made up my mind to propose to
her--as soon as I'd got those country jobs off my mind. And now I find
_you_'ve cut in before me!

HORACE.

Well, it's straight of you to tell me. I suppose you'd rather come and dine
some _other_ evening? If so----

PRINGLE.

No. A promise is a promise. I'll come. Mind you, I don't pretend it won't
be an effort--but I'll see what I can do for you.

HORACE.

[_Gratefully._] You _are_ a good chap, Pringle!--one of the best! Though,
really, after what you've told me, I hardly like----


PRINGLE.

Not another word. Anything I _can_ say on your behalf--without _too_ wide
a departure from strict accuracy--I'll say with pleasure. [_Going up to
door._] Eight o'clock's the hour, isn't it? All right. [_He goes out._]

                        [_HORACE makes a movement towards
                        the fireplace, as if to ring the
                        bell. Then his eye is caught by the
                        brass bottle, which is standing in
                        the centre of the room. He stops,
                        looks at his watch, and decides that
                        he has time to open the bottle. He
                        examines the cap on its neck, then
                        goes to sideboard and takes from it
                        a heavy paper-weight and a
                        champagne-opener, returns to chair
                        on right of table and sits, holding
                        the bottle between his knees. Using
                        the champagne-opener as a chisel,
                        and the paper-weight as hammer, he
                        proceeds to chip away the deposit
                        round the cap, whistling an air from
                        a musical comedy as he works._

HORACE.

[_To himself._] I've _loosened_ it. [_He seizes the cap and tries to screw
it off._] It's _giving_!

                         [_Suddenly the room is in complete
                         darkness; there is a loud report
                         and a spurt of flame from the
                         bottle. HORACE has fallen back on
                         the floor, with the cap of the
                         bottle in his hand. There is just
                         light enough to see a tall weird
                         figure standing with out-stretched
                         arms behind the bottle._

HORACE.

[_Sitting up and rubbing the back of his head; faintly._] Hullo! Is any
one there? Who's that come in?

THE STRANGER.

[_In an attitude of supplication._] Towbah! Yah nebbi Ullah! Anna lah amill
Kathahlik ibadan! Wullah-hi!

HORACE.

I daresay you're perfectly right, sir--but I've no idea what you're talking
about.

THE STRANGER.

[_Repeating the Arabic sentence._] Towbah! (&c. &c.) Wullah-hi!

HORACE.

[_About to raise himself, sees the figure for the first time, and falls
back astonished; then, recovering himself._] I suppose you've just taken
the rooms on the ground-floor--so you _must_ be able to make yourself
understood in English?

THE STRANGER.

[_The room has grown lighter, and he is seen to be in dull-green robes and
a high-peaked turban. His long grey beard is divided into three thin
strands; his eyes are slightly slanted, and his expression is a curious
mixture of fatuous benignity, simplicity, and cunning._] Assuredly I can
speak so as to be understood of all men.

HORACE.

Then it's as well to _do_ it. What was it you said just now?

THE STRANGER.

I said: "Repentance, O Prophet of Allah! I will not return to the like
conduct ever!"

HORACE.

Oh, I beg your pardon. [_Sitting up again._] Thought you were speaking to
_me_. But I say--[_looking up at him_]--how do you come to be here?

THE STRANGER.

Surely by thine own action!

HORACE.

I see. You ran up to see what was the matter. Fact is, my head's still
rather buzzy. I fancy I must have hit it somehow when I was trying to open
that jar.

THE STRANGER.

Then it _was_ thy hand and none other that removed the stopper?

HORACE.

I--I suppose so. All _I_ know is that _something_ went off with a bang. I
can't imagine what could have been _inside_ the beastly thing!

THE STRANGER.

Who else but I myself?

HORACE.

[_Slowly rising to his feet._] You must have your little joke, eh? [_He
reels against the table._] Or did I misunderstand you? My head's in such a
muddle!

THE STRANGER.

I tell thee that I have been confined within that accursed vessel for
centuries beyond all calculation.

HORACE.

You can't pull my leg like that, you know! Seriously, just tell me who you
_are_.

THE STRANGER.

Know then that he who now addresseth thee is none other than
Fakrash-el-Aamash, a Jinnee of the Green Jinn.

HORACE.

[_Half to himself._] Singular, "Jinnee"--plural, "Jinn." Where did I hear
that? I--I shall remember presently.

FAKRASH.

I dwelt in the Palace of the Mountain of the Clouds in the Garden of Irem,
above the City of Babel.

HORACE.

[_To himself._] Why, of _course_! Sylvia! The Arabian Nights! [_To
FAKRASH._] I can quite account for you _now_--but go on.

FAKRASH.

For a certain offence that I committed, the wrath of Suleymán, the son of
Dáood--on whom be peace!--[_he salaams_]--was heavy against me, and he
commanded that I should be enclosed within a bottle of brass, and thrown
into the Sea of El-Karkar, there to abide the Day of Doom.

HORACE.

Don't think I'm _believing_ in you. [_Walking round the front of the
bottle, as if to test FAKRASH by touching him._] I've sense enough to
know you're not _real_!

                         [_He withdraws his hand without
                         venturing upon the experiment._

FAKRASH.

Stroke thy head and recover thy faculties! I am real, even as thou art.

                         [_He touches HORACE'S shoulder;
                         HORACE recoils._

HORACE.

I shall come round in time! [_By the table, to FAKRASH._] You tell me
you've just come out of this bottle?

FAKRASH.

Dost thou doubt that it is even as I have said?

HORACE.

Well, I should have thought myself you'd take a bigger size in bottles. But
of course, I couldn't doubt you if I saw you get _into_ it again.

FAKRASH.

That would be the easiest of actions! [_He makes a sudden swooping
movement, as though to re-enter the bottle, and then thinks better of it._]
But I should indeed be a silly-bearded one to do this thing, since thou
mightst be tempted to seal me up once more!

HORACE.

[_Disappointed, and backing against table, half afraid._] Too knowing an
old bird to be caught like that, aren't you? But _I_ don't mind! You'll
disappear presently.

FAKRASH.

True, O young man of perfect qualities and good works! But I will not leave
thee before I have rewarded thy kindness. For in the sky it is written upon
the pages of the air: "He who doeth kind actions shall experience the
like!" Therefore--[_with a lordly gesture_]--demand of me what thou wilt,
and thou shalt receive!

HORACE.

Oh, I shall be awake so soon it's not worth while troubling you.

FAKRASH.

Dismiss bashfulness from thee. [_Advancing towards him._] For by thy hand
hath my deliverance been accomplished, and if I were to serve thee for a
thousand years, regarding nothing else, even thus could I not requite thee!

HORACE.

[_Retreating in some alarm to window._] Look here. I don't want _anything_,
and--and the best thing _you_ can do is to vanish.

FAKRASH.

[_At back of table._] Not till thou hast told me thy name and the trade
that thou followest.

HORACE.

Oh, you'll go _then_? [_FAKRASH assents._] Well, I'll humour you. My name
is Horace Ventimore, and I'm an architect. I get my living by building
houses, you know. Or rather, I _should_, if I could only get hold of a
client--which I can't.

FAKRASH.

[_Coming down nearer bottle._] Grant thy servant a period of delay, and it
may be that I can procure thee a client.

HORACE.

Good old Arabian Nights again! You'd better not make the delay long--my
head will be clear very soon.

FAKRASH.

Greater rewards by far will I bestow upon thee, most meritorious of men!
But now--[_going up to right_]--I must leave thee for a season.

HORACE.

I _knew_ I was coming round--you'll be gone directly.

FAKRASH.

Aye, for I must seek out Suleymán--[_salaaming_]--on whom be peace!--and
obtain pardon from him.

                         [_He waves his arm, and the door at
                         back flies open._

HORACE.

[_Eagerly._] Yes--I _would_! You go and do _that_! Make haste! [_The door
closes, leaving FAKRASH visible through it in an unearthly light._]
Good-bye--and good luck!

FAKRASH.

[_Through door._] To thee also! And be assured that I will not be unmindful
of thy welfare!

                         [_The door becomes solid as
                         FAKRASH vanishes._

HORACE.

[_Rubbing his eyes._] What a queer dream! [_He goes up to the door, opens
it, then returns and sits by table._] So vivid! [_He sees the brass bottle
on the floor._] Open! [_Looking inside it._] Empty! H'm, better get it out
of the way.

                        [_He takes the bottle in one hand
                        and the cap in the other, and
                        carries them into the bedroom on
                        right. The moment he has gone there
                        is a rush of wind, and then a heavy
                        thud on the balcony outside, and MR.
                        WACKERBATH, a stout, prosperous-looking,
                         elderly gentleman, in tall hat, frock-coat,
                        white waistcoat, &c., reels through
                        the open window into the room, and
                        sinks into the armchair on left of
                        tablet where he sits puffing and
                        blowing._


MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Feebly._] Where _am_ I? How did I----? [_He takes off his hat._] Ah, of
course! I remember now. [_He rises as HORACE enters from bedroom._]
Mr.--ah--Ventimore, I think? Mr. Horace Ventimore?

HORACE.

[_Slightly surprised._] Yes, that's my name. [_Offering chair on right of
table._] Won't you sit down?

MR. WACKERBATH.

Thank you--I will. [_He sits down._] I--I ought to apologise for dropping
in on you in this--ah--unceremonious way--but I acted, I may say--ah--on a
sudden impulse.

HORACE.

I'm afraid I haven't much time to spare--but if it's anything of
importance----

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Panting._] You must give me a little time--till I--ah--get my wind again.

HORACE.

Certainly. I know the stairs here _are_ rather steep.

MR. WACKERBATH.

Are they? I don't remember noticing them. However! My name, Mr. Ventimore,
is Wackerbath--Samuel Wackerbath, of Wackerbath and Greatrex, a firm of
auctioneers and estate agents whose name may--ah--possibly be not
unfamiliar to you.

HORACE.

[_Who has obviously never heard it before._] Oh, of course--of course.

MR. WACKERBATH.

I may tell you that for the last few years I have rented an old
place--Moatham Abbey they call it--in Surrey, which is not quite as
up-to-date as I could wish in the matter of modern conveniences.

HORACE.

That's not unusual with ancient abbeys, is it?

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Solemnly._] Precisely. Well, to come to the point, I've lately acquired
some land in the neighbourhood of Surrey and Hampshire, with a view to
building a country residence. [_HORACE becomes more interested, and seats
himself at table on MR. WACKERBATH'S right._] You see, there's an
excellent site--on a hill with a south aspect, just above the village of
Lipsfield, and overlooking the valley and river----

HORACE.

[_Making a note._] Well, Mr. Wackerbath----?

MR. WACKERBATH.

Well, as I was saying only a minute or two ago to a friend as we were
crossing Westminster Bridge on our way to Waterloo----[_He pauses, with an
endeavour to recollect._] Where _was_ I?

HORACE.

Waterloo.

MR. WACKERBATH.

Ah, yes. I remarked to him: "All I require is a thoroughly capable
architect." [_HORACE grows alert and excited._] And instantly _your_ name
flashed across my mind. So I--ah--hurried off at once, and--here I _am_!

HORACE.

[_With a sudden misgiving._] May I ask--you--you weren't _recommended_ to
me by--by--[_he looks round at the door through which FAKRASH has
vanished_]--any one?

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_With dignity._] Certainly not! It was--ah--entirely my own idea. But why
do you ask? [_Huffily._] Is an introduction necessary?

HORACE.

[_Relieved._] No, no--not in the least! I--I merely asked. I shall be very
pleased to undertake the commission. Could you give me some idea of the
amount you thought of spending on the house?

MR. WACKERBATH.

Well, I don't think I could go to more than--say, _sixty_ thousand pounds.

HORACE.

[_Half rising in his surprise._] Sixty thousand! [_He recollects himself
and sits down in assumed calm._] Oh, not more than _that_? I _see_.

MR. WACKERBATH.

For the house itself. But there'll be the out-buildings--and the
decorations. Altogether, I sha'n't complain so long as the total doesn't
exceed a hundred thousand. I take it that, for that sum, Mr. Ventimore, you
could give me a country-house that I shall have no cause--ah--to feel
ashamed of.

HORACE.

I can safely promise _that_. And now--when could I run down and have a look
at the site, and go into the matter thoroughly?

MR. WACKERBATH.

We must fix a day later. I'm rather in a hurry now; and besides, I must
consult the wife. Perhaps you could give me an appointment here?

HORACE.

These are only my private rooms. I shall be at my office in Great College
Street to-morrow, if you could look in then. [_Giving him card._] Here's
the address.

MR. WACKERBATH.

Good! [_He rises and moves towards window, while HORACE rings bell by
fireplace._] I'll look in on my way from Waterloo to the City. [_He
perceives that he is walking out on to a balcony, and turns._] How the
devil did I come in? I'll be with you at eleven sharp.

                         [_He goes towards the bedroom door
                         on the right._


HORACE.

[_At door to landing._] _This_ way, Mr. Wackerbath.

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Vaguely._] I thought I came _that_ way. [_As he goes up._] I can see
already that you're the very man for me. [_At door to landing._] Now I must
be off, or I shall miss my train to Lipsfield. [_As HORACE offers to see
him downstairs._] Don't trouble--I can find my way down. Eleven sharp
to-morrow. _Good_ evening.

                         [_As he passes out HORACE touches
                         his back, as though half suspecting
                         him to be another illusion. MR.
                         WACKERBATH turns and shakes hands
                         effusively, then goes out, and
                         HORACE closes door._

HORACE.

[_To himself._] _He's_ no dream, anyhow! [_With exultation._] A client! A
real client of my own! At last!

MRS. RAPKIN.

[_Enters from landing._] Did you ring for me, sir?--or was it only to let
the gentleman out?

                         [_She comes down._

HORACE.

Oh, there _is_ something I had to tell you. We shall be _five_ at dinner,
not four. You can manage all right, eh?

MRS. RAPKIN.

[_Comfortably._] Lor, yes, sir. _That_ won't make no difference!

HORACE.

[_In front of table._] By the way, Mrs. Rapkin, you haven't let your
ground-floor yet, have you? To--to an Asiatic gentleman?

MRS. RAPKIN.

_Me_, sir? Let to a Asiatic! No,--nor wouldn't! Why, there was Rapkin's own
sister-in-law let her droring-room floor to one. And--[_darkly_]--reason
she 'ad to repent of it--for all his gold spectacles.

HORACE.

[_Relieved._] Ah, I _thought_ you hadn't. [_Sits on table._] Well, about
the waiting to-night? I suppose I can depend on Rapkin for that, eh? Where
_is_ he?

MRS. RAPKIN.

Well, sir, not to deceive you, he ain't back yet from his Public--Libery as
_he_ calls it.

HORACE.

Oh, _that's_ what he calls it, eh?

MRS. RAPKIN.

Whatever he's took, sir, you may rely on him to 'and the dishes without
'aving no accidents.

                         [_A noise is heard from the street
                         below, which gradually resolves
                         itself into an Oriental chant._

HORACE.

What's going on outside? [_He goes to window, looks out, and then starts
back uneasily._] I say. It's--it's devilish odd--but there seems to me to
be a whole caravan of camels down there!

MRS. RAPKIN.

[_Crossing to window._] Camuels, sir?

HORACE.

Well, you look and see what _you_ make of them!

MRS. RAPKIN.

[_Looking down over balcony._] Lor! They _do_ look like camuels, sir--or
_somethink_ o' that. I expect they belong to the 'Ippodrome, or else a
circus.

HORACE.

[_Relieved._] I say, what a sensible woman you are! Of course! I never
thought of _that_!

MRS. RAPKIN.

[_Still looking out, while the chant finishes with a few shouts, as though
a halt were called._] They seem to be stopping outside the 'ouse. Them
camuels have folded up, and all the niggers as is with them is a kneelin'
down with their noses on the kerbstone!

HORACE.

[_Uncomfortably._] They're only _resting_. Come away and don't take any
notice. They'll move on presently.

MRS. RAPKIN.

[_Still at window._] But they're _unpackin'_ the camuels now! And--well, if
they ain't bringing everythink in _'ere_!

                         [_She retreats to behind the
                         table._

HORACE.

Great Scott!

                         [_He comes down to left of stage._

MRS. RAPKIN.

They wouldn't be _more_ things as you've been buying at that auction, sir,
would they?

                         [_The chant is heard now inside the
                         house._

HORACE.

No, no. It's a mistake! It _must_ be a mistake!

MRS. RAPKIN.

Then I'd better go and tell them----

                         [_She moves towards door to
                         landing, but before she reaches it,
                         it flies open mysteriously. A
                         moment afterwards a tall, fierce
                         Oriental in turban and robes
                         appears in doorway and salaams.
                         MRS. RAPKIN recoils with a cry.
                         Then a train of black slaves
                         enter, carrying large sacks, bales,
                         and chests, which they deposit on
                         the table and floor, till the room
                         is completely blocked; their chief
                         stands down on right, with his back
                         to the audience, and directs them
                         by gestures._

HORACE.

Look here! I say,--you fellows! You've come to the wrong house!

                         [_The slaves pay no attention to
                         him._

MRS. RAPKIN.

'Ere! my good _men_, what are you comin' in '_ere_ for, bringing all your
dust into my apartments?

HORACE.

[_Standing paralysed; to himself._] We can't _both_ be dreaming!

MRS. RAPKIN.

[_Trying to remonstrate with slaves._] This rubbish don't belong _'ere_! I
can't 'ave the 'ole place littered up with it! You needn't act so
ridic'lous if you _are_ niggers! [_To HORACE._] It ain't no use _my_
talking to 'em, sir. They're not like _Christians_--they're deaf and dumb,
seemingly! _You_ try!

HORACE.

[_Going to the HEAD SLAVE, who salaams as he approaches._] Can you
understand if I ask a question? [_The HEAD SLAVE salaams again._] Well,
I--I know it seems a silly thing to ask--but--but you don't happen to be
sent here by--by anybody with a name something like Fakrash? [_The HEAD
SLAVE implies by a gesture that this is so._] You _have_!... Well, look
here. _I_ don't want 'em. I decline to take 'em in. You have all these
things put on the camels again, and clear out! Do you see what I mean? [_By
this time the other slaves have gone; the HEAD SLAVE signifies in
pantomime that the things are HORACE'S, salaams, and goes out, the door
closing behind him mysteriously._] I don't believe that idiot understands
_now_! They've gone off to fetch _more_!

MRS. RAPKIN.

[_Who has returned to window._] They've gone off altogether, sir. I can't
see nothink now but a cloud of dust.

HORACE.

[_Sinks into chair on right of table with his head buried in his hands._]
The fools! The confounded fools!

MRS. RAPKIN.

[_Comes to table and looks for HORACE in vain._] Sir! Sir! [_Sees him
over the bales, &c._] Sir! Where _are_ you going to 'ave your dinner-party
_now_?

HORACE.

[_Forlornly._] Oh, I don't know--I don't know! Don't worry me now, Mrs.
Rapkin! Go away! Can't you see I want to think--I want to _think_!

MRS. RAPKIN.

[_As she goes towards door at back._] Well, I _must_ say and I _do_ say
that if this _'ad_ to 'appen, it couldn't have come more ill-convenient!
[_She goes out._

                         [_As soon as she has gone HORACE
                         rises and comes to an
                         antique-looking trunk on left; he
                         opens it, and brings out an
                         enormous emerald and ruby, each the
                         size of a cocoa-nut; he looks at
                         them for a moment in dismay, and
                         drops them back with a groan. Then
                         he crosses to a sack on the right,
                         opens it, and brings out an immense
                         diamond. While he is doing all
                         this, FAKRASH has risen from
                         among the bales behind the table,
                         and watches him with benign
                         complacency._

HORACE.

[_As he returns the diamond to the sack._] Oh! damn it all!

FAKRASH.

My son!

HORACE.

[_Recoiling on sacks._] I'm not dreaming _now_! I'm awake! And yet--all
that story of yours about your being shut up in a brass bottle? I _did_
dream _that_--eh?

FAKRASH.

Nay, it is even as I told thee.

HORACE.

And it _was_ you who sent me all these things?

FAKRASH.

A few trifling gifts by no means suited to thy dignity! Thou owest me no
thanks.

HORACE.

I--I'd rather not owe you _anything_. I mean--I can't possibly accept any
presents from you.

FAKRASH.

Nay, they are freely thine.

HORACE.

I don't want to be ungracious, but I must decline to be under any
obligation whatever to a--well, to a perfect stranger like yourself.

FAKRASH.

Hast thou not placed me under the heaviest of obligations by delivering me
from a bottle of brass? To escape out of a bottle is pleasant!

HORACE.

So I should imagine. But, you see, I'd no notion what I was _doing_
or--well, it's done _now_, and if you really wish to show your gratitude
for a very trifling service, I'll tell you how you can do it. [_In a tone
of earnest entreaty._] Take back all these gifts of yours, and let me
alone!

FAKRASH.

[_Beaming._] Truly I am amazed by thy modesty and magnanimity!

HORACE.

I'm _not_ magnanimous--I'm devilish annoyed! [_Exasperated._] Hang it all!
_Can't_ you understand that all these things are no earthly use to _me_?
You might just as well have sent me so many white elephants!

FAKRASH.

As thou pleasest! To send thee elephants--yea, even in abundance--will be
no difficult undertaking.

                         [_He makes a movement as though
                         about to summon them._

HORACE.

[_Aghast._] Good Lord! Don't you go wasting white elephants on _me_! You
take everything so literally! All _I_ meant was that if these things _were_
white elephants, instead of what they are, I couldn't be more embarrassed!
_Now_ do you see?

FAKRASH.

[_Coming down to right._] Thou seemest to me to be despising riches beyond
all price.

HORACE.

Exactly! Because they _are_ beyond all price! _Look_ at those
sacks--bulging, simply _bulging_ with diamonds and rubies and emeralds as
big as ostrich eggs! Well, I can't _wear_ 'em. They'd be too dressy! I
can't _sell_ 'em--no one could afford to buy a single one of 'em! And how
am I to account for having them at all?

FAKRASH.

Thou canst surely say that they are presents to thee from
Fakrash-el-Aamash, a Jinnee of the Green Jinn, in return for thy kindness
in releasing him from a bottle of brass.

HORACE.

Oh, _can_ I? I fancy I see myself giving that explanation! [_More mildly._]
No, Fakrash,--you meant well--but the kindest thing _you_ can do is to
remove all this at once----

FAKRASH.

This is a thing that cannot be. For to bestow gifts and receive them back
disgraceth the giver.

HORACE.

Not when the gifts are only in the way. [_He nearly trips over a sack._]
Just _look_ at this room!

FAKRASH.

Verily it is but a miserable apartment for a person of thy distinction!

HORACE.

It's quite good enough for me when it isn't lumbered up like this. I'm
expecting friends to dinner this evening, and how the deuce am I to
entertain them comfortably unless you make it possible for me?

FAKRASH.

[_Benevolently._] Have no uneasiness. I will see that thou art enabled to
entertain thy guests as is fitting.

HORACE.

Good! [_At window._] Then you'll send for that caravan of yours?

FAKRASH.

I hear and obey.

                         [_He goes towards door at back and
                         waves his hand. The door flies
                         open. The chant is heard as before.
                         A pause, after which the HEAD
                         SLAVE enters and salaams. Then
                         the train of black slaves pour in
                         noiselessly, and proceed to carry
                         out the chests, &c., and throw the
                         bales out over the balcony._

HORACE.

[_Encouraging them._] That's right! _All_ those are to go. Put your back
into it! [_To some slaves who are throwing down bales from the balcony._]
Do be careful! You nearly bowled a camel over _that_ time! [_The last slave
has gone out with a sack from which an immense blue jewel has rolled;
HORACE picks it up and calls after him._] Hi! You've dropped a little
sapphire thing! [_The HEAD SLAVE takes the sapphire from him and
salaams._] Sure you've got the lot? All right! Good day! [_The HEAD SLAVE
makes a final salaam and goes out, the door closing after him
mysteriously; HORACE approaches FAKRASH._] It's awfully nice of you not
to be _offended_, old fellow, and I'm just as much obliged as if I'd _kept_
the things, you know.

FAKRASH.

It is no matter. Thou shalt receive other rewards more to thy liking.

HORACE.

[_Alarmed._] No, no! I assure you I don't want _anything_. I can get along
quite well by myself. Because--of course, _you_ wouldn't know it,
but--[_with pride_]--I've got a client now!

FAKRASH.

[_Calmly._] I know it. Was he not my first gift unto thee?

HORACE.

[_Staggered._] Your first----? No, no--don't you go taking credit for
_that_! He assured me himself that he came of his own accord!

FAKRASH.

He knew no better. Nevertheless it was I that procured him for thee.

HORACE.

How?

FAKRASH.

[_Airily._] In the easiest manner possible. Having remarked him upon a
bridge, I transported him instantly to thy dwelling, impressing him without
his knowledge with thy names and thy marvellous abilities.

HORACE.

[_Horrified--to himself._] Good Lord! He _said_ he came in by the window!
[_To FAKRASH._] So you did _that_, did you? Then you took a confounded
liberty! You'd no business to introduce clients to me in that irregular
way! Don't you ever do this sort of thing again! Just attend to your own
affairs in future. I _understood_ you were going off in search of Suleymán.
It's high time you _started_. You won't find him in _this_ country, you
know.

FAKRASH.

He is on some journey--for in Jerusalem itself could I find no sign of
him.

HORACE.

Oh, come! You can't have flown as far as Jerusalem and back _already_!

FAKRASH.

Know'st thou not that, to a Jinnee of the Jinn, distance is but a trifling
matter?

HORACE.

So much the better! You'll be back in the East all the sooner. And when you
_are_ there, you _stay_ there. Don't get disheartened if you don't find
Suleymán directly. Keep on pegging away till you _do_! Why, the mere
travelling will be a pleasant change for you!

FAKRASH.

[_On right of table; sententiously._] Well and wisely was it written: "In
travel there are five advantages. [_Proceeding to enumerate them on his
fingers._] The first of these is----"

HORACE.

[_Impatiently, as he moves to his bedroom door on right._] I know, I know!
Don't you bother to run through them _now_--I've got to dress for dinner.
Just you bundle off to Arabia and search for Suleymán like billy-oh.
Good-bye!

FAKRASH.

May Allah never deprive thy friends of thy presence! Never have I
encountered a mortal who has pleased me so greatly!

HORACE.

[_At bedroom door._] Awfully good of you to say so!

FAKRASH.

Farewell! Prepare to receive a reward beyond all thine expectations!

                         [_He waves his arm, and for ten
                         seconds the room is in utter
                         darkness. There are sounds as of a
                         rushing wind and crashes and
                         rumblings. Then the glimmer of
                         three Arabian hanging lanterns is
                         seen faintly illuminating a large
                         central arch and two smaller side
                         ones. An immense perforated lantern
                         hanging from the domed roof then
                         becomes lit, and reveals an
                         octagonal hall with four curtained
                         arches, the fourth, down on the
                         right, being where HORACE'S
                         bedroom door had been. The walls
                         are decorated in crimson, blue, and
                         gold arabesques. Above the bedroom
                         door is a low divan with richly
                         embroidered cushions. Opposite to
                         it, on the left, is a similar
                         divan. High in the wall overhead is
                         a window with gilded lattice-work,
                         through which is seen a soft blue
                         evening sky._

HORACE.

[_With his back to the audience._] Great Scott! What's that old idiot let
me in for _now_?

MRS. RAPKIN.

[_Heard outside the arch up on right of central arch._] Oh, whatever is it
_now_? What's 'appened? [_She enters._] Goodness gracious! Mr. Ventimore,
sir--what's _come_ to the 'ouse?

HORACE.

Then--_you_ see a difference, Mrs. Rapkin?

MRS. RAPKIN.

I don't see nothink as _ain't_ different. For mercy's sake, sir, _'oo's_
been alterin' of it like this?

HORACE.

Well, _I_ haven't.

MRS. RAPKIN.

But where are you going to 'ave your dinner-party _now_, sir?

HORACE.

Where? Why, _here_! There's lots of _room_.

MRS. RAPKIN.

But I don't see no dinner-table, nor yet no sideboard.

HORACE.

Never mind--never mind! Don't _make_ difficulties, Mrs. Rapkin. You must
manage _somehow_.

MRS. RAPKIN.

I'll try, sir, but--not to deceive you--I feel that upset I 'ardly know
where I _am_.

HORACE.

You--you'll get used to it. [_Persuasively._] And you're going to see me
through this, I'm sure. I must go and dress now. [_Looking round the
hall._] I suppose you haven't any idea where my bedroom is?

MRS. RAPKIN.

I've no idea where _any_ of the rooms has got to, sir!

HORACE.

[_Going to arch down on right._] I expect it's through here.

                         [_As he goes out, RAPKIN enters
                         from the arch on left of central
                         arch. He is respectably
                         dressed--type of elderly retired
                         butler; just now he is slightly and
                         solemnly fuddled._

MRS. RAPKIN.

William, this is a pretty state o' things!

RAPKIN.

What's marrer, M'rire? I'm all _ri'_. On'y bin a-improvin' o' my mind in
Public Libery.

MRS. RAPKIN.

Public Libery, indeed! You and your Public Libery.

RAPKIN.

It's pos'tive fac'. Bin p'rusin' En-ensicklypejia Britannia.

                         [_He stands blinking and slightly
                         swaying._

MRS. RAPKIN.

But do you mean to say you don't _see_ nothing?

RAPKIN.

[_Muzzily._] Not over distinct, M'rire. Curus opt'cal d'lusion--due to
overshtudy--everything's spinnin' round. 'Ave I stepped into Alhambra, or
'ave I not? That's all _I_ want to know.

HORACE.

[_Outside from right._] That you, Rapkin? I want you.

MRS. RAPKIN.

[_To RAPKIN._] You ast _'im_ where you are--he's better able to tell you
than I am. I'm going back to my kitching.

                         [_She hesitates for a moment as to
                         which arch to go out by, and
                         finally goes out by the one on
                         right of central arch._

HORACE.

[_Outside._] Rapkin, I say! [_Then entering from the lower arch on right as
soon as MRS. RAPKIN has gone; he is wearing a richly embroidered Oriental
robe, &c., and a jewelled turban and plume, of which he is entirely
unconscious._] Oh, _there_ you are! Don't stand there gaping like a fish at
a flower-show! Where the deuce are my evening clothes?

RAPKIN.

[_Staring at him._] I don't know if it's _'nother_ opt'cal d'lusion--but
you appear t' me to ha' gorrem _on_.

HORACE.

Eh, what? Nonsense! [_Suddenly discovering that he is in a robe and
turban._] Hang it! I can't dine in these things! Just see if you can't
find--no, there's no time. _You_ haven't changed yet! Look sharp, the
people will be here in a minute or two--you _must_ be ready to open the
door to them.

RAPKIN.

[_Looking round the hall._] I don't seem to see no doors--on'y arches. I
_can't_ open a arch--even if it would stay still.

HORACE.

Pull yourself together, man! [_He twists RAPKIN sharply round._] Come, a
little cold water on your head will soon bring you round.

RAPKIN.

I'm _comin_' round. Don't see s'many arches already!

MRS. RAPKIN.

[_Rushing in from arch on right of centre arch._] Oh, William, William!
Come away at once!

RAPKIN.

[_Peacefully._] I'm aw'ri, M'rire!

MRS. RAPKIN.

[_Seeing HORACE'S costume._] Oh, Mr. Ventimore, who's been and dressed
you up like that? Why, it's 'ardly Christian! [_To RAPKIN._] Come away out
of this 'orrible 'ouse, do!

RAPKIN.

What's 'orrible about it?

MRS. RAPKIN.

Everything! Can't you see it's all turned into Arabian 'alls?

RAPKIN.

_Is_ it? [_He suddenly becomes indignant._] 'Oo's bin and took sech a
liberty?

MRS. RAPKIN.

Ah, you may well ask! Oh, Mr. Ventimore. [_Crossing to HORACE._] You've a
deal to answer for, _you_ 'ave!

RAPKIN.

What? _'Im?_ _'E's_ done it all?

HORACE.

Mrs. Rapkin, don't _you_ lose your head! I depend on _you_, you know. Get
your husband away and make him sober--or the dinner's _bound_ to come to
grief!

MRS. RAPKIN.

Dinner indeed! And me unable to get into my own kitching for them nasty
niggers o' yours as is swarmin' there like beedles! The gell's bolted
already, and you and me'll go next, William, for stay under this roof with
sech I _won't_!

                         [_She drags RAPKIN by the arm to
                         arch up on right._

HORACE.

I say, Mr. Rapkin, don't you two desert me now! Just _think_ of the hole
I'm in!

MRS. RAPKIN.

Bein' a 'ole of your own makin', sir, you can get out of it yourself! Come,
William!

RAPKIN.

I'm comin', M'rire! [_As he is dragged through arch by MRS. RAPKIN._]
You'll 'ear _more_ o' this, Mr. Ventimore!

HORACE.

[_Alone on stage._] What's to be done now? Can't dine _here_! [_The front
door bell rings with a long jangling tingle._] There they are! What am I to
_do_ with 'em? It'll _have_ to be the Carlton, after all! [_He glances down
at his robes._] Can't go like _this_, though! [_He tries to take off his
turban._] This damned thing won't come off! [_Searching himself for
money._] And where are my pockets? [_With resigned despair._] Well, I
suppose I must let them in, and--and tell 'em how it is!

                         [_As he turns to go up to the
                         centre arch, the hangings are drawn
                         back with a rattle, disclosing a
                         smaller hall behind. A row of
                         sinister-looking but richly robed
                         black slaves forms on each side of
                         the arch; a still more richly
                         dressed CHIEF SLAVE salaams to
                         HORACE, and with a magnificent
                         gesture ushers in the PROFESSOR,
                         MRS. FUTVOYE, and SYLVIA, to
                         each of whom the double row of
                         slaves salaam obsequiously, to
                         their intense amazement._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Coming down to the right and looking round him._] Why, why, why? What's
all this? Where _are_ we?

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Following him closely._] We've evidently mistaken the house!

SYLVIA.

[_Following her mother, and suddenly seeing HORACE._] But surely
that's--yes, it _is_ Horace!

                         [_At a gesture from their chief,
                         the slaves retire, and he follows._

HORACE.

[_With some constraint, but trying to seem at his ease._] Yes, it's _me_
all right. There's no mistake. Most awfully glad to see you!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Dear me! [_Coming towards HORACE._] I really didn't recognise you for the
moment.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Snappishly._] I don't know who _would_!

HORACE.

Oh, ah--you mean in _these_ things. I--I must apologise for not dressing,
Mrs. Futvoye, but the fact is, I--I found myself like this, and I hadn't
time to put on anything else.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Crossing to HORACE._] Any apologies for the simplicity of your costume
are _quite_ unnecessary.

SYLVIA.

You really are magnificent, Horace! _My_ poor frock is simply nowhere!

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Glaring round._] I observe that this is a very different room from the
one we were in this afternoon.

HORACE.

Ah, I _thought_ you'd notice _that_! [_Deciding on perfect candour._]
I--I'd better _tell_ you about that. The--the fact is----

                         [_He starts nervously, as the
                         hangings of the centre arch are
                         drawn back once more, the slaves
                         form a double row, and their chief
                         appears, beckoning to some one to
                         follow him._

PRINGLE.

[_Heard outside, addressing CHIEF SLAVE._ ] Mr. Pringle. Mr. _Spencer_
Pringle.... Oh, if you can't manage it, it don't matter! [_He enters, and
stares at the salaaming slaves, then round the hall._] My _aunt_!

HORACE.

[_Coming forward._] Here you are, eh, old fellow?

                         [_The slaves go out._

PRINGLE.

[_Staring after the slaves._] Yes, here I am. [_Reproachfully, as he
observes HORACE'S costume._] You _might_ have told me it was a
fancy-dress affair.

HORACE.

It isn't. I--I'll explain presently.

PRINGLE.

[_Sees the FUTVOYES, and crosses to them._] How do you do again, Miss
Sylvia? How are you, Mrs. Futvoye? We meet sooner than we expected, eh?
[_Turning to the PROFESSOR._] Well, Professor, I suppose _you_ weren't
surprised at finding our good host in--[_he looks round the hall
again_]--this exceedingly snug little sanctum? I must confess _I_ am.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

My dear fellow, you can't be more surprised than _we_ are!

PRINGLE.

[_With satisfaction._] You don't mean it! [_Turning to HORACE, who is on
the other side of the hall, talking to MRS. FUTVOYE and SYLVIA_.] Then
you've only just got this place finished, eh, Ventimore?

HORACE.

That's all, Pringle.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

To build and decorate such a place as this must have cost a very
considerable sum of money.

HORACE.

You'd _think_ so, wouldn't you? But it _didn't_.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Coming towards him._] And that costume you're wearing, those negroes in
rich liveries, all this senseless profusion and display we see around
us--are you going to tell me _they_ haven't cost you anything?

HORACE.

I--I was going to explain about that. It's a most extraordinary thing,
but--well, you remember that old brass bottle I showed you this afternoon?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Remember it? Of course I remember it! But what of it, sir, what _of_ it?

HORACE.

Why--er--in a manner of speaking--everything you see here has--er--more or
less--come out of that bottle----

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Infuriated._] That is enough, sir, that is enough! You choose to give me
a frivolous answer! I will not submit to be treated like this--I would
rather leave the house at once. And I _will_, too!

                         [_He makes a movement towards the
                         arch. SYLVIA and her mother look
                         on in distress, and PRINGLE with
                         secret gratification._

HORACE.

No, but I haven't finished! You see, it was like this: When I _opened_ the
bottle----

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Savagely._] Tchah! As you seem unable to realise that this is not a fit
time for fooling, I will not stay here to be trifled with. Sophia, Sylvia,
we must find some other place to dine in!

SYLVIA.

[_Going to HORACE, and speaking in a rapid undertone._] Horace! Can't you
see? He _means_ it. You _must_ be serious--or else----!

HORACE.

[_To her._] Yes, I see.... Professor, I'm sorry. I--I never thought you'd
be annoyed. All I _really_ meant by--by my feeble little joke was to tell
you--in a sort of figurative way, do you see?--that--that my luck has
turned at last.

THE OTHERS.

[_Together._] Turned? _How_ turned? What do you mean?

HORACE.

Well, I've got a client.

THE OTHERS.

[_As before._] A client? How? Where? When?

HORACE.

Just after you all left this afternoon. A clinking good client, too! He's
asked me to build him a big country-house, and my commission can't come to
less than seven or eight thousand pounds.

PRINGLE.

[_At the end of a general chorus of surprise._] Seven or eight thousand!
[_Incredulously._] May we know the name of this wonderful client of yours?

HORACE.

It's a Mr. Samuel Wackerbath, a big City auctioneer, I believe.

SYLVIA.

Why, he's my godfather!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

An old friend of ours. Eliza Wackerbath and I were at school together.

HORACE.

[_To PROFESSOR._] So you see, sir, I--I'm not so badly off as you thought.
I can afford to--to launch _out_ a bit.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Somewhat mollified._] Hardly, I should have thought, to _this_ extent.
However, in the circumstances, I consent to remain.

SYLVIA.

[_In an undertone to HORACE._] I thought it was all over with us!

HORACE.

[_In the same to her._] So did I! But I _think_ I'm out of the cart this
time.

                         [_He goes up towards the left,
                         talking to her._

PRINGLE.

[_Crossing to the PROFESSOR; in an undertone._] _So_ glad you decided to
stay, Professor. I was really half afraid you'd go--as a protest against
all this ostentation.

                         [_MRS. FUTVOYE is admiring the
                         workmanship of the hangings._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_In an undertone to PRINGLE._] I should have done so, Pringle, I should
have _done_ so--but for the inconvenience of dining elsewhere at this hour.
[_Aloud, to HORACE._] Ventimore! _[PRINGLE joins MRS. FUTVOYE._] I don't
know if _you_ are getting hungry,--but I own _I_ am. Will it be long before
they announce dinner?

HORACE.

[_Turning, with a start._] Dinner? Oh, I _hope_ not--I mean, I _think_ not.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

I see no table is laid here. [_Acidly._] But probably you have an equally
spacious dining-hall adjoining this?

HORACE.

Yes. That is,--_probably_, you know. I mean, it's quite _possible_.

                         [_The curtains of the arch on left
                         of centre arch are drawn._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Do you mean to tell me you haven't settled yet where we _are_ to dine?

HORACE.

[_At a loss for an instant, then he suddenly sees the slaves enter from the
arch on left, bearing a low round table, which they place in the centre of
the hall._] Oh, we dine _here_, of course!--here. I--I leave it to these
fellows.

                         [_Four of the slaves fetch cushions
                         and arrange them as seats around
                         the table, the CHIEF SLAVE
                         directing them._

PRINGLE.

I say, Ventimore, what an odd idea of yours, having all these black
footmen! Don't you find them a nuisance at times?

HORACE.

Oh, they--they've only come in for the evening. You
see--they're--er--quieter than the ordinary hired waiter--and--and they
don't blow on the top of your head.

SYLVIA.

[_In an undertone, nervously._] Horace! I don't like them! They're so
creepy-crawly, somehow!

HORACE.

[_Suppressing his own antipathy._] After all, darling, we--we mustn't
forget that they're men and brothers. [_To the others, as the CHIEF SLAVE
advances to him and makes elaborate gesticulations._] I think what he
means is that dinner is served. Shall we sit down?

MRS. FUTVOYE.

I don't see any _chairs_.

HORACE.

No. It--it's such a low table, you see. So we sit on cushions. M--much
better fun!

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Grimly._] May I ask if the entire dinner is to be carried out on strictly
Arabian principles?

HORACE.

[_Helplessly._] I--I rather think that _is_ the idea. I hope you don't
_mind_, Professor?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

I am in your hands, sir, in your hands! Sophia!

                         [_He indicates to MRS. FUTVOYE
                         that she is expected to sit down,
                         and seats himself on the right of
                         table with many precautions;
                         HORACE leads MRS. FUTVOYE to a
                         cushion on his right, and
                         establishes SYLVIA on his left,
                         inviting PRINGLE to the place
                         below MRS. FUTVOYE and opposite
                         the PROFESSOR. A slave brings on
                         a large covered golden dish, which
                         he places on the table in front of
                         HORACE._

HORACE.

[_With a pathetic attempt to be cheery, as another slave raises the
cover._] Ha! Now we shall see what they've _given_ us!

                         [_The expressions of the party
                         indicate that, whatever the food
                         may be, its savour is not exactly
                         appetising._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

I should just like to remark that, having lived in the East myself and had
considerable experience of native cooking, I expect to be extremely unwell
to-morrow.

HORACE.

Let's hope for the best, Professor, hope for the best! [_Turning to the_
CHIEF SLAVE behind him._] But, I say! You've forgotten the knives and
forks. Nobody has any! What _are_ these fellows about? [_The CHIEF SLAVE
explains in pantomime that fingers and thumbs are all that is necessary._]
Eh? Do _without_ them? Dip into the dish and help ourselves? Oh--if you say
we've _got_ to! [_To MRS. FUTVOYE._] Mrs. Futvoye, can I persuade you
to--er--have first dip?


MRS. FUTVOYE.

Really, Horace, I must get my gloves off _first_!

                         [_She removes them._

HORACE.

It _does_ seem a little messy. But _quite_ Arabian, you know--quite
_Arabian_!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Vainly trying to reach the dish._] I'm such a long way off!

HORACE.

Yes. I think we'd better all--er--close up a bit.

                         [_They all work themselves up
                         uncomfortably on their respective
                         cushions nearer the table._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_As HORACE takes MRS. FUTVOYE'S and SYLVIA'S right hands and guides
them to the dish._] And he calls this a simple, ordinary little dinner!


CURTAIN



THE SECOND ACT


                         _The scene is the Arabian Hall--an
                         hour later. The slaves are offering
                         the guests water in golden bowls,
                         and insisting on wiping their hands
                         for them, an attention which the_
                         PROFESSOR resents._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Ventimore!

HORACE.

[_Seated in utter dejection._] Yes, Professor?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

I infer from the fact that the last course seemed to be something in the
nature of--ah--_sweets_----

                         [_MRS. FUTVOYE and PRINGLE
                         exchange glances, and sigh
                         audibly._

HORACE.

They _were_ rather beastly, weren't they?

                         [_A slave takes the PROFESSOR'S
                         hands with great respect, and
                         inserts them into the bowl._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

As I was saying, I infer from that, and the circumstance that your
attendant has _again_ attempted to wash my hands, that the--ah--banquet
has come to an end. Is that so?

HORACE.

[_Miserably._] I _hope_ so! I mean--I _think_ so.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Then, as I have been suffering agonies of cramp from having had to sit for
an hour on a cushion with my legs crossed, I should be glad, with your
permission, to stretch them again.

HORACE.

So sorry! Mrs. Futvoye, shall we----?

                         [_He helps MRS. FUTVOYE and
                         SYLVIA to rise. PRINGLE has also
                         risen; the PROFESSOR remains on
                         his cushion._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

_I_ should be glad of some slight assistance.

                         [SYLVIA comes to him_; HORACE
                         and MRS. FUTVOYE are by the
                         divan on the left._

PRINGLE.

[_Crossing in front of table._] Allow me, Professor, allow me!

                         [_He helps him to his feet._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Thank you, Pringle, thank you. A word with you--[_drawing him away to the
right, while SYLVIA joins her mother and Horace up on the
left._]--Pringle. [_Lowering his voice._] I declare to you that never,
_never_ have I been called upon to swallow a more repulsive and generally
villainous meal! And that in a life which has had its--ah--ups and downs!

PRINGLE.

It's the same here, I can assure you. I don't understand our host's
partiality for Arab cookery. And the _wine_! [_With a reminiscent
shudder._] _Did_ you try the wine?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

I did. It must have been kept in a goat-skin for years! And yet he must
have spent a perfectly scandalous amount on this preposterous banquet of
his!

PRINGLE.

A small fortune! Ah, well--I suppose he feels entitled to indulge in these
costly fancies--_now_.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

He's no business to--just after he's engaged to my daughter!

PRINGLE.

Ah! It's a thousand pities. Still--he _may_ give up some of this
magnificence, when he's married.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

I shall take very good care he does that--if he marries Sylvia at all!

                         [_He lowers his voice still more,
                         and the conversation continues in
                         dumb show, PRINGLE by his manner
                         showing that he is doing all in his
                         power to prejudice HORACE while
                         ostensibly defending him. The
                         slaves return, clear away cushions,
                         and remove the table._

HORACE.

[_To MRS. FUTVOYE, while SYLVIA stands slightly apart with a somewhat
resentful expression._] It's awfully kind of you to be so nice about
it--but I know only too well you can't _really_ have enjoyed it. It was a
shocking bad dinner from start to finish!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Tolerantly._] Oh, you mustn't say _that_! Perhaps, _next_ time, if you
could tell your landlady not to scent _all_ the dishes _quite_ so strongly
with musk----

HORACE.

I shall certainly mention _that_--if I get the chance. [_Looking across at
the PROFESSOR, whose temper is evidently rising._] I'm afraid the
Professor won't get over _this_ in a hurry.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Perhaps I'd better go and see how he's feeling.

                         [_She crosses, leaving HORACE
                         with SYLVIA._

HORACE.

[_To SYLVIA._] I can guess how _you're_ feeling about this.

SYLVIA.

[_Coldly._] Can you? Then it isn't necessary for me to tell you.

HORACE.


No, I--this little dinner of mine hasn't turned out quite as we _expected_,
has it?

SYLVIA.

I don't know what _you_ expected--_I_ thought it was going to be so
delightful!... How _could_ you be so foolish?

HORACE.

You see, dear, you don't understand how it all came about yet. If you'd
only let me tell you----

SYLVIA.

I think you had much better say no more about it.

HORACE.

Ah, but I can't! I _must_ get it off my chest. [_Before he can begin the
slaves enter once more, and shift the divans on either side to lower and
rather more oblique positions, after which the HEAD SLAVE approaches
HORACE, and makes signs._] What do you want?

SYLVIA.

[_Clinging to HORACE._] Oh, don't let him come too near me!

HORACE.

[_As the CHIEF SLAVE repeats the signs._] He sha'n't, darling--but he's
quite friendly. He's only suggesting that we should sit down.

                         [_HORACE and SYLVIA sit on the
                         divan on left. The CHIEF SLAVE
                         turns to PROFESSOR and repeats
                         the gestures._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Puzzled and irritable._] What does he want me to do _now_?

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Soothingly._] Why, to sit down, of course, and take your coffee
_comfortably_.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Appeased._] Oh, is _that_ it? [_Going to divan on right._] I sha'n't be
sorry to rest my back against something. [_Sitting._] You'd better sit down
yourself, Sophia.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Placidly._] I was going to, Anthony.

                        [_She sits on the PROFESSOR'S left_.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Plenty of room for _you_, Pringle. [_PRINGLE seats himself on PROFESSOR'S
right._] I think I might feel better after a cup of strong
coffee--_Turkish_ coffee--and perhaps a glass of _liqueur_ brandy. [_As
the CHIEF SLAVE moves up to the centre arch without paying any attention
to him._] As you said, Pringle, the attendance is disgraceful! [_Raising
his voice, and calling across to HORACE._] Ventimore, is
your--ah--major-domo--going to bring us our coffee and what not _soon_?

HORACE.

At once, Professor, at _once_!

                         [_He claps his hands, and the
                         CHIEF SLAVE stalks forward
                         majestically._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

And a cigar--a _good_ cigar, if it's not asking too much?

HORACE.

What _am_ I thinking of? Of course! [_To the CHIEF SLAVE._] Serve coffee at
_once_, please. [_The CHIEF SLAVE expresses in pantomime that he fails to
understand HORACE'S desires._] I said "Coffee." _You_ know what coffee
is! [_Apparently the CHIEF SLAVE does not._] I never saw such a fellow!
Well, _cigars_, then! Come, you _must_ know _them_! Things to smoke? [_He
imitates the action of smoking. The CHIEF SLAVE seems to take this as a
dismissal. He salaams, motions to the other slaves to retire, upon which
they all go out, then salaams once more and stalks off._] That beggar must
be a born idiot! _I_ can't make him understand.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Drily._] So I perceive. No matter, I must do without my usual
after-dinner coffee, that's all! But at least, Ventimore, you _must_ know
where to lay your hand on your cigar-box!

HORACE.

I did--before the place was altered so,--but I'm not sure if----[_He
rises._] I'll just go and have a look in my bedroom.

                         [_He crosses and goes out by the
                         lower arch on the right._

PRINGLE.

[_To the PROFESSOR._] Seems to me that Oriental hospitality has been rather
over-rated!

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Gloomily._] Ah! I know I wish I'd ordered our cab for ten o'clock,
instead of eleven! Receiving us with all this ostentation, and yet grudging
us the most ordinary comforts--I _can't_ understand it!

PRINGLE.

[_Rising._] It may be his notion of humour. [_As he moves across to_
SYLVIA._] If you and Mrs. Futvoye and Miss Sylvia will only give me the
pleasure of dining with me some night at the Holborn,--or rather the
Savoy--I would endeavour to wipe out the memory of this evening's
sufferings.

                         [_He takes HORACE'S place by
                         SYLVIA'S side._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Whenever you please, my dear Pringle, whenever you please,--and the sooner
the better! Sophia! [_He turns to MRS. FUTVOYE, and discovers that she is
gently dozing._] Asleep! How she can _do_ it!--but I won't disturb her now.
[_To HORACE, who returns from arch down right._] Well? Have you found
your cigars?

HORACE.

[_Standing in centre depressed._] No. There's nothing in there--except that
beastly brass bottle. I _am_ so sorry!

SYLVIA.

[_Rising and going to HORACE._] Horace! It _is_ all over, isn't it? You're
_sure_ there's nothing _more_ to come?

                         [_PRINGLE, finding himself
                         deserted, returns to his place on
                         the divan by the PROFESSOR._

HORACE.

[_Looking round anxiously._] I--I _hope_ not. No, I think we're all right.
We shall have no more trouble now all those black Johnnies have cleared
out.

                         [_At this moment there is a
                         confused sound of Oriental
                         instruments outside, with wailing
                         cries. SYLVIA turns from HORACE,
                         and goes back indignantly to the
                         divan on the left. HORACE
                         follows, and sits by her._

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Waking up as the music stops._] Dear me! What _is_ that horrible noise?
Not cats?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Cats! No,--it's Arab music! [_To HORACE._] So you've a _fresh_ surprise in
store for us, eh, sir?

HORACE.

[_Forlornly._] It--it _does_ sound rather like it, Professor.

                         [_Four negro musicians enter,
                         playing a tom-tom, mandoline,
                         flageolet, and native fiddle
                         respectively, while they chant a
                         weird ditty, and sit cross-legged,
                         right and left of the central
                         arch._

SYLVIA.

[_As the music stops._] Horace, this is really _too_ bad of you! You
_assured_ me there was nothing more coming!

                         [_She turns her shoulder on him
                         with marked displeasure._

PRINGLE.

So you keep a private band, do you, Ventimore?

HORACE.

No, no,--of course I don't. It--it's only engaged for the evening.

PRINGLE.

I see. Hired from the Arab encampment at Earl's Court, eh?

HORACE.

[_Irritated._] You've guessed it first time, Pringle!

PRINGLE.

That's odd. Because, now I come to think of it, there _isn't_ any Arab
encampment there this season.

HORACE.

Then they come from somewhere else. At all events, they're playing here for
nothing.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Ah! They know their own value!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Now, Anthony, you're finding fault before they've even _begun_! [_She
rises._] That was only _tuning_, of course! [_She passes in front of the
MUSICIANS, and then comes down to HORACE._] Can they play _English_ music?
_Do_ ask them if they know "The Choristers."

HORACE.

I'm afraid they're not at all likely to be familiar with it.

                         [_The MUSICIANS begin once more,
                         and MRS. FUTVOYE retreats hastily
                         to the divan, as they sing and play
                         for a few bars in hideous
                         cacophony._

PRINGLE.

[_As they stop once more._] Vocal as _well_ as instrumental, eh? Are they
going to give us any _more_ little things like that, Ventimore?

HORACE.

No. Not if I know it! They've _done_ now!

                         [_At this the music starts again,
                         louder and more discordant than
                         ever._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Springing to his feet in a fury, and shouting._] Ventimore! You _must_
put a stop to this abominable din! Do you hear? I can't and won't put up
with it!

HORACE.

[_Rising, and going to the MUSICIANS._] Here, you chaps! Hi! That's enough!
[_He claps his hands._] Get out! Get _out_!

                         [_The MUSICIANS seem to treat
                         this as an encouragement, for they
                         play with more vigour than ever;
                         then, as they reach the climax, the
                         music changes to slower strains, in
                         which some sort of air is
                         recognisable, and a troop of
                         ORIENTAL DANCING GIRLS come
                         writhing and posturing in from the
                         arches on right and left of the
                         centre arch. HORACE recoils in
                         horror, and collapses on the divan
                         by SYLVIA'S side._

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Making her voice carry above the music._] And do these young persons come
from Earl's Court, _too_?

HORACE.

[_Wildly._] No! Oh, _dear_ no! _They_ come from--from Harrod's. The
Entertainment Department, don't you know!

                         [_He sits paralysed as the
                         PRINCIPAL DANCING GIRL suddenly
                         floats down from the central arch,
                         and executes a slow and sinuous
                         Oriental dance in the middle of the
                         other performers. The PROFESSOR
                         and his wife exchange scandalised
                         comments, and PRINGLE endeavours
                         to look shocked and grieved._

HORACE.

[_As the PRINCIPAL DANCING GIRL has glided down opposite him, and stands
posturing, with her eyes fixed on his face; to SYLVIA._] I--I don't think
she's _bad_.

SYLVIA.

[_Coldly._] Don't you? I'm perfectly _sure_ she is!

HORACE.

No, no. She--she's a _lady_ and all that. They _all_ are. Highly
respectable girls! They only give their dances at _private_ parties.

SYLVIA.

I don't think you need have engaged them for _yours_! _Really_, Horace!

                         [_The music stops; all, except the
                         PRINCIPAL DANCER, who remains
                         standing and smiling at HORACE,
                         fall on their hands and faces in a
                         line across the stage._

HORACE.

It was a mistake. But I'll get rid of them! [_He rises and goes towards
the PRINCIPAL DANCER._] It's charming--charming--but that will _do_, you
know. You can go away now. You can _all_ of you go away!

                         [_The PRINCIPAL DANCING GIRL,
                         with a swift, sudden movement,
                         throws herself at his feet and
                         embraces his knees; SYLVIA starts
                         up indignantly. The PROFESSOR,
                         MRS. FUTVOYE, and PRINGLE rise
                         also._

PRINCIPAL DANCING GIRL.

[_In Arabic, in a tone of adoring submission._] Yah Sîdî! Yah noor ainy!
Yah nass al Kalbi Sîdî!

HORACE.

[_To the others._] She is a little hysterical, that's all--the artistic
temperament. [_As he succeeds in freeing himself._] I don't know what on
earth she's talking about! I _fancy_ she says she's feeling seedy.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Who has come down on the right._] "Sîdî"--as you may well know--is the
ordinary Arabic word for "Master," and, if I follow her correctly, she is
calling you her Protector, the Light of her Eyes, and the Vital Spirit of
her Heart!

                         [_The PRINCIPAL DANCING GIRL has
                         fallen on her hands and face in
                         front of the others._

SYLVIA.

Oh! So _this_ is what you were trying to confess to me!

HORACE.

She's quite _mistaken_, you know. _I'm_ not the light of her eyes, I've
never seen her before in all my life!

SYLVIA.

You think I believe _that_! [_She rushes across to MRS. FUTVOYE._] Oh,
mother--mother!

HORACE.

Professor, _you_ know Arabic. Couldn't you get these people to understand
that they aren't wanted?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Coming forward._] I intend to. [_In Arabic._] Eerga dugghery gowan illa
bait bettah Harrood!

                         [_As he speaks all the dancing
                         girls raise their heads in horror,
                         then rise screaming and holding
                         their hands to their ears, and rush
                         out through arches, followed by the
                         musicians. The moment they
                         disappear through the arches all is
                         silent._

PRINGLE.

[_Coming down to centre._] They weren't long in taking _your_ hint,
Professor. What _did_ you say to them?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Rather puzzled._] I merely told them, in the best Arabic I could command,
to go back to Harrod's at once.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

I am quite sure they cannot have come from _Harrod's_!

HORACE.

You're perfectly right, Mrs. Futvoye. They _didn't_.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Advancing to him._] After _that_ admission, you will hardly be surprised
if I tell you--as I _do_--that you may consider your engagement to my
daughter at an end.

HORACE.

At an end! Why, what have I _done_?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Done, sir, done? You ask _that_, after grossly insulting my wife and
daughter by this--this outrageous exhibition!

                         [_He goes up, followed by PRINGLE._

HORACE.

[_Going to MRS. FUTVOYE._] Mrs. Futvoye, _you_ don't misunderstand me, I'm
sure?

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Icily._] For _once_, I entirely agree with my husband, and I believe
Sylvia herself will tell you----

                         [_She turns, and joins the
                         PROFESSOR on the left._

HORACE.

No, she won't? _Will_ you, Sylvia? _You_ won't give me up?

SYLVIA.

What else _can_ I do?

HORACE.

What else? Why, trust me, stick to me--in spite of everything and
everybody!

SYLVIA.

After what I've just seen! No, that's _too_ much to expect!--unless, of
course, you've some satisfactory explanation?

HORACE.

Well, I _have_--if you'll all promise to _listen_ to it--you wouldn't when
I tried to explain before, you know. Now you _must_ hear me out! [_They all
prepare to listen attentively._] It's like this. Sylvia wasn't far wrong
about that beastly jar I bought this afternoon--there _was_ a Jinnee inside
it.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.                  )
                                             )
What? How dare you, sir--how _dare_     )
you trifle with us like this?                )
                                             )
MRS. FUTVOYE.                       )
                                             )
Disgraceful! To stand there talking          )
such nonsense--at such a time!               )  _All_
                                             )  _speaking_
SYLVIA.                             )  _together._
                                             )
Turning it all into a _joke_! Oh, how   )
can you--how _can_ you?                 )
                                             )
PRINGLE.                            )
                                             )
Upon my word, Ventimore, you ought           )
to be ashamed of yourself!                   )

HORACE.

There you _are_, you see! You _won't_ give me a hearing! I _ought_ to know
what was inside the bottle, considering I let it out. Fakrash-el--_what_
did he tell me his name was?--oh, Aamash--Fakrash-el-Aamash. He's a Jinnee.
Of the _Green_ Jinn.

PRINGLE.

Well, _we're_ not Green Jennies!

HORACE.

[_Losing his temper._] Shut up, Pringle! This is _my_ story--and you'll be
good enough to let me finish it. Well, according to old Fakrash, he'd been
sealed up in that bottle by Solomon----

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

What, in the name of common sense, has all this to do with the case?

HORACE.

I'm coming to that, if you'll only have a little patience. Naturally, he
was grateful to me for letting him out, and, in a weak moment, I--I blurted
out that you were all coming to dinner here to-night. And what does the old
idiot do but transform my rooms into these halls, and provide the whole
entertainment himself! And--as might be expected--it was pretty rotten!

                         [_He sinks on the divan on right in
                         despair, as he sees the general
                         incredulity._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Ha! And you seriously expect us to believe this cock-and-bull story as an
explanation--unsupported by any kind of proof?

HORACE.

Not _unsupported_, Professor! How about these halls?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

_They_ are only evidence of your unbridled extravagance, sir! Where is this
precious Jinnee you talk about? Produce him--let me see him with my own
eyes, and I might--but, bah! you won't venture to accept that challenge,
I'm sure of that!

                         [_He crosses to MRS. FUTVOYE and
                         PRINGLE._

HORACE.

It's unfortunate--but Fakrash has--er--left the country. I don't expect him
back for some time--if at all.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Nor I, sir, nor _I_! Sophia, you and Sylvia had better go to the vestibule
and get your things on.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

I am only too anxious to go. [_To SYLVIA._] Come, darling.

                         [_She moves towards arch on right._

SYLVIA.

[_In sudden alarm._] Mother! _Not_ with all those horrid dancing-girls and
things! _They're_ in there!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_At arch._] Trust me to deal with _them_!

                         [_She goes out with SYLVIA._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Going up and calling after them._] Make haste, Sophia! We must walk till
we get a cab, that's all!

HORACE.

[_Who has risen._] Professor, don't go yet. I've just remembered. If you'll
only wait a moment, I believe I can bring you something to prove I've been
telling the simple truth.

                         [_He goes out by lower arch on
                         right._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Approaching PRINGLE._] "Prove he's been telling the truth!" You heard
_that_, Pringle? Did you ever hear such bare-faced impudence in all your
life?

PRINGLE.

[_Virtuously._] Never, Professor, never! I _quite_ share your indignation.
Perhaps I may be allowed to accompany you? I am going your way.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Do so, Pringle; do so, my dear fellow. As we may have to walk some
distance, my daughter will be glad of your escort. [_As MRS. FUTVOYE and
SYLVIA appear from arch up right._] Ah, they're ready, I see. Go and get
your coat on and bring mine, and we'll leave at once.

PRINGLE.

[_With alacrity, as he goes up._] By all means, Professor! I won't be a
minute.

                         [_He goes out by the arch up
                         right._

HORACE.

[_Returning at the same moment from lower arch on right._] I've had a
hunt--but I've found it. [_He offers a metal cap to the PROFESSOR._] Now,
if you'll only examine _this_, Professor.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

What do you mean by offering me that piece of dirty old metal, sir? Take
the thing away!

HORACE.

It's the cap or stopper that belongs to that brass bottle. And, I don't
know, but I rather fancy there's something engraved on it.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Eh, what? [_He takes the cap._] So far as I can tell by feeling it, there
_does_ seem to be--but what if there is--what if there _is_?

HORACE.

Well, it _might_ refer to a Jinnee having been bottled up by Solomon, don't
you know.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Bah!--but no matter. [_He slips the cap into his tail-coat pocket._]
Whatever it is, I _will_ examine this inscription--after breakfast
to-morrow morning. [_Triumphantly._] And I shall _decipher_ it, sir,--you
may depend upon that! [_To PRINGLE, who returns with coat and helps him
into it._] Thank you, my boy, thank you. Now, Sophia,--if you are ready!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

I am only waiting for _you_, Anthony. [_Frostily, to HORACE._] Mr.
Ventimore, I will wish you good-night.

                         [_She goes out by central arch._

PRINGLE.

[_Approaching SYLVIA._] Good-night, Ventimore. Miss Sylvia--[_offering his
arm_]--I am to have the privilege of taking care of you.

SYLVIA.

[_Declining his arm._] Thank you, Mr. Pringle,--but I can quite well take
care of myself. [_She turns to HORACE._] Horace, I want to say just this
before I go--I _will_ trust you still,--in spite of everything and
everybody!

HORACE.

[_Putting his arm round her._] You little _brick_! And you won't have to go
on trusting me _much_ longer!

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Interposing and separating them._] That she will not, sir! Let her go!
[_HORACE releases SYLVIA, who goes up towards central arch, HORACE
attempting to follow her, when he is stopped by the PROFESSOR._] Stay
where you are!

                         [_SYLVIA and PRINGLE pass through
                         to the outer hall._

HORACE.

Surely I may go as far as the door with her!

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_By the central arch._] Not another step, sir! One last word. This
precious seal of yours will enable me to expose you as a shameless liar.
That is all I have to say. _Good_ evening.

                         [_He goes out. Pause, the front
                         door is heard to slam._

HORACE.

[_To himself, in despair._] Gone! She's gone! [_He flings himself down on
the divan on the left, with his face to the audience._] The Professor may
be right--the seal _mayn't_ be Solomon's! How do _I_ know old Fakrash
hasn't been lying? And if he has--well, I'm done for! [_FAKRASH suddenly
appears through the hangings, comes down to the divan, and touches HORACE
on the shoulder; HORACE starts, then swings round to a sitting posture,
facing FAKRASH._] Eh? So you _have_ come back!

FAKRASH.

[_Benevolently._] May thy head long survive!

HORACE.

[_Choking with rage._] If you'd only turned up four minutes earlier I could
have introduced you to my guests. It's too late _now_!

FAKRASH.

Thou hast dismissed them already?

HORACE.

They've gone, anyhow.

FAKRASH.

[_Beaming._] And were they not astounded by the magnificence of thy
dwelling and the liberality of their entertainment?

HORACE.

Distinctly so. But I warn you--don't you press me on the subject of that
entertainment. I can't trust myself to talk about it just yet.

FAKRASH.

Render me no thanks.

HORACE.

[_Exasperated._] Thanks! _Thanks!!_

FAKRASH.

I perceive that something hath displeased thee.

HORACE.

[_With an angry laugh._] No, _do_ you? You're getting quite observant!
Something jolly well _has_ displeased me. Not so much the banquet--I could
pass that--we _did_ pass _most_ of it! [_Rising._] It was what came _after_
the banquet!

FAKRASH.

After the banquet I provided that a company of houris, lovelier than the
full moon and graceful as young gazelles, should dance for the delight of
thy guests. [_With uneasiness._] Can I have failed in bringing this to
pass?

HORACE.

[_Bitterly._] Oh, you brought _that_ off all right--the houris _came_!
[_With rising resentment._] And what do you think the Chief Gazelle
_did_?... Hugged my knees and called me her lord and protector and the
light of her eyes! Pretty good that--for a gazelle!

FAKRASH.

[_With a fatuous smile of approval._] Excellent indeed!

HORACE.

[_Turning on him._] Perhaps, when I tell you that the company included the
young lady I was engaged to marry--_and_ her father and mother, and that
they put the most unfavourable construction on the houri's behaviour, it
_may_ begin to dawn, even on _you_, that you might have been more tactful!
I've _lost_ Sylvia now--and all through you and your confounded gazelle!

FAKRASH.

[_Pulling his beard, and appearing slightly disconcerted._] Verily thy
fortune is unlucky! But dismiss uneasiness, for to remedy this mischance
will be the simplest thing possible.

HORACE.

[_More mildly._] Oh, if you'll do _that_! But how?

FAKRASH.

[_Standing in centre of hall._] By procuring thee another bride of far
greater beauty and accomplishments.

HORACE.

[_Striding past him in a fury._] _Another!_ You--you _hopeless_ old ass!
_Can't_ you understand?

FAKRASH.

[_Seizing his arm, and bringing him down the stage._] Wait! Thou hast not
yet heard the list of her perfections. A forehead shall she have like the
gleaming dome of a temple, eyes like unto blazing lamps, a nose that
shineth brighter than a sword, teeth resembling pearls strung on native
gold, a bosom----

HORACE.

Stop, I tell you! I don't _want_ her--I won't _have_ her! I want Sylvia,
and I'll marry nobody else! Just get _that_ into your muddled old head,
will you! If you can't pull me out of this mess you've got me into, why the
deuce have you come back at all?

                         [_He sits on the divan on left._

FAKRASH.

I am returned to impart unto thee wondrous intelligence.

HORACE.

Oh? Well, fire away. Take a cushion.

                         [_Flinging him one from the divan._

FAKRASH.

[_Squatting on cushion._] Hearken! During my wanderings I have learnt that,
beyond all doubt, Suleymán, the son of Dáood, sleeps with his fathers!

HORACE.

As a matter of fact, he's been doing that for about three thousand years.

FAKRASH.

Sayest thou so? Then--[_cunningly_]--tell me. Doth there still remain any
one of Suleymán's seed that exerciseth his authority over them of the Jinn?

HORACE.

No. As soon as you've made things right for _me_, you can go off to your
own country and settle down comfortably--there's no power on earth that can
interfere with you.

FAKRASH.

Then--before I do thee any further service--bring hither the stopper
wherewith my bottle was sealed.

HORACE.

[_Uneasily._] The--the stopper? Oh, nonsense! You can't want that _now_!
What for? As a _souvenir_?

FAKRASH.

Nay, but because in all likelihood it is engraven with the mighty seal of
Suleymán.

HORACE.

[_Rising excitedly._] I say! Are you _sure_ of that?

FAKRASH.

So it was customary with such vessels. And, bearing such a seal, I shall
possess a mighty talisman. [_Rising from his cushion._] Wherefore deliver
it into my hands without delay, and I will reward thee by accomplishing all
thy desires.

HORACE.

[_In extreme embarrassment._] I--I'd be only too happy to oblige you--if I
could. But--well, the fact is, I've just parted with it.

FAKRASH.

[_Advancing on him in sudden fury._] _Parted_ with it! With my seal! O thou
of little sense! To whom? To _whom_, I say?

HORACE.

To the father of the lady I was engaged to. He's a learned man, you see,
and I knew, if there _was_ anything engraved on the seal, he'd be able to
make it out.

FAKRASH.

[_Striding up and down the hall, and brandishing his arms._] Perdition
seize thee! For he will assuredly refuse to surrender such a talisman! Woe
to me, for I am undone! Undone! Undone!

HORACE.

Don't talk rot! You _aren't_ undone--and nobody wants to undo you! [_FAKRASH
utters wild cries._] Don't go howling about like that--sit down again and
be sensible.

FAKRASH.

[_Halting opposite HORACE, with a menacing gesture._] Take heed to
thyself! For if thou dost not restore my seal immediately----!

HORACE.

[_Facing him composedly._] It's no good trying to bully _me_, you know.
_I'm_ not afraid of you. You sit down and be civil, and promise to do
exactly as I tell you--or I'm hanged if I help you to get your seal back.

FAKRASH.

[_With sudden self-restraint._] My son, it was naught! Am I not thy
servant? On the head and eye be all thy commands!

                         [_He sits down on the cushion._

HORACE.

Ah, that's better! [_He goes to the divan and gets himself a cushion, then
sits facing FAKRASH._] Now I'll tell you an idea that's just struck
me--the Professor said himself that nothing would convince him but seeing
you with his own eyes. Well--why shouldn't you _go_ to him?

FAKRASH.

[_Eagerly._] Tell me where he hath his abode, and I will visit him this
same instant.

                         [_About to rise._

HORACE.

[_Stopping him._] No, you don't! Just when he'll be turning in! You'll go
about ten o'clock to-morrow morning, when he's had his breakfast--or you
won't go at all!

FAKRASH.

Be it so! I will restrain my impatience until the morrow. But the place of
his dwelling?

HORACE.

Wait a bit. I won't have him rattled. [_FAKRASH looks puzzled._] I mean, no
popping up through the floor or down the chimney. You'll just walk quietly
up to his front door, and ask to see him. Then you can explain who you are
and what you want, and, if you're decently polite, I'm sure the Professor
will give you back your property.

FAKRASH.

All these instructions will I observe.

HORACE.

But you can't go in _that_ get-up, or you'll have a crowd of small boys at
your heels. Couldn't you raise the sort of costume respectable elderly
gentlemen go about in nowadays?

FAKRASH.

I hear and obey. To assume such garb as is worn by aged dwellers in this
city will be the simplest affair possible!

HORACE.

All right, then. And you must go to No. 47 Cottesmore Gardens, Kensington,
and ask whoever lets you in if you may see Professor Futvoye. Think you can
remember all that?

FAKRASH.

[_Rising._] Indelibly is it inscribed upon the tablet of memory. To-morrow,
then, at the appointed hour, will I repair to the abode of this sage.

HORACE.

[_Who has risen at the same time as FAKRASH, and thrown the cushions back
on the divan._] Good! And you'd better come on to me afterwards and let me
know how you got on. Not _here_--at my office, Great College Street,
Westminster. Got _that_ down on your tablet?

FAKRASH.

It is done. And now, O young man of abundant talents and obliging
disposition, I will take my leave of thee. [_Going to centre of hall._] For
I must seek my Palace in the Garden of Irem and repose myself until it be
day. But--[_turning_]--ere I depart, tell me by what service I can reward
thy kindness?

HORACE.

Well,--if you _really_ want to do me a good turn,--you might change these
halls again.

FAKRASH.

What? Are they insufficient for thy dignity?

HORACE.

No, no--they're much too grand! I--I want my old rooms back!

FAKRASH.

[_Pained._] Of what avail is it to confer favours upon _thee_, since thou
rejectest them every one!

HORACE.

[_Approaching him, and speaking soothingly._] No, not every one. There was
old Wackerbath--the client you sent me--I haven't rejected _him_. I'm going
to build him a country-house.

FAKRASH.

Ha! And on what spot is this mansion to be erected?

HORACE.

Oh, he seems to have got an excellent site--on a hill near Lipsfield,
between Hampshire and Surrey.

FAKRASH.

[_Touching his own brow._] It is on the tablet! And have no anxiety,--for
the palace that will arise shall assuredly be the wonder of the universe!

HORACE.

Very kind of you to say so--when I haven't even begun to work at it yet.
And now--about these halls? [_Persuasively._] You _will_ turn 'em back into
my old rooms, won't you? You're such a deuced clever old Johnny--I mean,
_Jinnee_!

FAKRASH.

Into the mean habitation in which I found thee? Far be this action from me!

HORACE.

[_Impatiently._] Oh, I'm sick of _arguing_ with you--I _command_ you. On
the head and on the eye!

RAPKIN'S VOICE.

[_From the outer hall._] Mr. Ventimore! I want a _word_ with you!

HORACE.

[_To FAKRASH, quickly._] You hear? That's my landlord,--it's _his_ house,
not mine. Just you change it--quick--before he comes in!

FAKRASH.

[_Standing in centre._] Since thou insisteth. And be of light heart, for
by to-morrow all thine affairs will prosper exceedingly!

                         [_He waves his hand; there is a
                         sudden and complete darkness for a
                         few seconds, with the sounds of
                         rumbling and rushing wind as
                         before. Above this the RAPKINS'
                         voices are heard._

RAPKIN'S VOICE.

Turned off the lights, 'as he? But _I'll_ talk to 'im when I _see_ 'im!

MRS. RAPKIN'S VOICE.

Don't let go of my 'and, Rapkin! I _know_ there's some o' them nasty
niggers about!

RAPKIN'S VOICE.

'Im and his bloomin' niggers and Arabian 'alls! [_Bawling._] Mr. Ventimore!
You _'ear_ me!

                         [_The stage has been growing
                         gradually lighter, and MR. and
                         MRS. RAPKIN are seen standing
                         together in the room in which the
                         play opened._

HORACE.

[_Appearing at bedroom door on right, in smoking suit, holding candle._]
Perfectly. [_Blandly._] Anything the _matter_, Rapkin?

RAPKIN.

[_Looking round open-mouthed, and blinking in bewilderment._] Matter, sir?
No, sir. Nothink, sir. Not _now_, sir!

HORACE.

[_Sweetly._] Glad to hear it. You'll be all right in the morning. Hot water
at the usual time, please. _Good_ night!

                         [_He goes into his bedroom, leaving
                         the stage in darkness again as the
                         curtain falls._


END OF THE SECOND ACT.



THE THIRD ACT


SCENE I

                         _The scene represents HORACE'S
                         _office in Great College Street._

                         _It is a small room, panelled in
                         dark oak. On the left is an old
                         mantelpiece in white and yellow
                         marble. Beyond the fireplace is a
                         door communicating with PRINGLE'S
                         _office. On the right is a recessed
                         window, through which the top of an
                         old grey wall with chevaux-de-frise
                         and foliage above can be seen. At
                         the back, on the right, is a door
                         leading to the staircase. On the
                         left of this door, an architect's
                         cabinet, with narrow drawers for
                         plans, &c. On the walls are plans
                         and architectural drawings, a
                         T-square or two, an office
                         calendar, and sections of
                         mouldings, sundry cards of tiling,
                         ornamental fittings, &c., sent out
                         by firms as advertisements to
                         architects. On the right, by the
                         window, is an architect's
                         drawing-table, with a sheet of
                         drawing-paper, tracing-paper,
                         saucers of colour, and other usual
                         requisites of an architect._

                         _The time is 11.30 on the morning
                         after the preceding acts._

                         _As the curtain rises, the
                         Westminster Clock-tower chimes the
                         half-hour._

                         HORACE is drawing at the table on
                         right._

HORACE.

[_To himself, looking at watch._] Half-past eleven already!--and I haven't
heard from _either_ of them yet! [_With some anxiety._] Very odd! Can
anything have----? [_There is a knock at the door on the left. HORACE
turns with a slight start as PRINGLE enters._] Oh, it's you, Pringle!
[_After a pause._] None the worse after last night, I hope?

PRINGLE.

[_Very solemnly._] I am feeling no ill-effects at _present_. [_Coming to
centre of room._] Can I have a few words with you?

HORACE.

[_Going on designing._] Well, only a _very_ few. We may be interrupted at
any moment. I've appointments with _two_ people this morning. Looks as if
they'd _both_ overslept themselves.

PRINGLE.

[_Gravely, as he plants himself with his back to the fireplace._] I shall
not detain you long. I merely wish to explain my position. When I accepted
your invitation last night, I did so with the loyal intention of resigning
myself, as cheerfully as possible, to your engagement to Miss Futvoye----

HORACE.

[_Wheeling his chair round so as to face him._] Instead of which you put a
spoke in my wheel whenever you got the chance! Not behaving quite
decently, _was_ it?

PRINGLE.

[_Stiffly._] After last night, I cannot consider _you_ as an authority on
_decency_.

HORACE.

Don't rub it in, Pringle!

PRINGLE.

As I was saying, I came prepared to leave the field to you--for I am not
the sort of man to unsettle any girl's affections----

HORACE.

That's your modesty, Pringle! You don't realise how dangerous you _are_!

PRINGLE.

[_Ignoring this._] I was going to say--so long as she continues engaged to
_another_. But if Miss Sylvia doesn't recognise yet that you are utterly
unworthy of her, she very soon _will_. Then _my_ chance will come--and I've
every intention of taking it.

HORACE.

Sorry to discourage you, my dear Pringle--but your chance hasn't come yet,
and it's not over likely to come at all.

                         [_He turns to his work again._

PRINGLE.

She'll never marry you without her father's consent--and if you'd heard him
last night in the cab----!

HORACE.

[_Easily._] I daresay. But he'll be very different this morning.

PRINGLE.

[_Who has come nearer to him._] Why, you're not trusting to that trumpery
seal of yours to convince him?

HORACE.

No. I'm trusting to something--or rather somebody--[_turning to him_]--who
will be more convincing than any seal.

PRINGLE.

It will take a good deal to reconcile him, or any of them, to such an
extremely--er--Oriental interior as you rejoice in.

HORACE.

The Oriental interior has gone, Pringle,--vanished into space!

PRINGLE.

Nonsense! How could solidly constructed halls like those vanish in a night?

HORACE.

I don't pretend to know _how_--but they _have_, and that's enough for _me_!

                         [_He returns to his drawing._

PRINGLE.

[_Going back to fireplace._] And this client of yours--has _he_ vanished,
too?

HORACE.

Old Wackerbath? Oh, no; he's much too solid to vanish--he's only a trifle
late!

PRINGLE.

I shouldn't make too sure of him.

HORACE.

[_Listening._] I fancy he's coming upstairs now. [_Rises and goes to door
at back, then stops with a sudden recollection._] Unless it's the _other_
one!

PRINGLE.

The _other_ one? So you've _two_ clients!

HORACE.

No, only one. The other--isn't a client. [_Half to himself, as he comes
down._] Awkward if they happened to _meet_! I never thought of that!
[_There is a loud knock at the door to staircase._] Well, here's _one_ of
'em, anyhow! Come in! [_MR. WACKERBATH opens the door, and stands on the
threshold, breathing hard, and purple and speechless with rage. HORACE
goes towards him._] It _is_ Mr. Wackerbath! How do you do? [_Pleasantly._]
I was beginning to be afraid----[_He notices MR. WACKERBATH'S
expression._] Eh? Has anything happened?

MR. WACKERBATH.

Happened, sir? Yes, something _has_ happened! Which you'll be good enough
to explain--if you _can_!

HORACE.

Oh? [_Turning to PRINGLE._] Perhaps, Pringle, if you wouldn't mind----?

PRINGLE.

[_Moving to the door on the left._] Oh, by all means!

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_To PRINGLE._] Stop, sir! Don't you run away! For all _I_ know, _you_ may
have had a hand in this disgraceful business!

PRINGLE.

[_With dignity._] I occupy the adjoining office, sir, and I am in practice
as an architect. But I have no business connection with Mr. Ventimore--none
whatever.

                         [_Offering to go._

MR. WACKERBATH.

You will oblige me by staying. I should like your opinion--as an
architect--on the way I've been treated.

                         [_He puts down his hat on the
                         cabinet by the door._

PRINGLE.

Oh, if Mr. Ventimore has no objection----

HORACE.

Well--oh, stay if you think proper. [_To MR. WACKERBATH, offering
armchair on left of table._] Now, sir; if you'll sit down and compose
yourself----

MR. WACKERBATH.

I will _not_ sit down, sir, and I find it difficult to compose myself. You
know very well _why_!

HORACE.

I don't, indeed. Unless--unless you've discovered the--the means by which
you were induced to come to me yesterday. But, after all, there's no great
_harm_ done.

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Bursting with rage._] No great harm! You can stand there and tell me
_that_!

HORACE.

[_Calmly._] Certainly. If you prefer to go to some other architect, you're
perfectly free to do so.

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Frantically._] Free! _Free!!_ When the damned house is _built_!

HORACE AND PRINGLE.

[_Together, each starting back._] Built?

MR. WACKERBATH.

Built, sir, built! When my wife and I saw it on our way to the station this
morning, we could hardly believe our eyes. But my coachman--who's not given
to imagination--saw it as plain as we did. [_HORACE hears all this with
stupefaction at first, and then with growing comprehension._] And,
considering I only gave you the commission yesterday afternoon, I should
like to know how the devil you managed to put up such a place in the time?

PRINGLE.

My dear sir, as a professional man, let me assure you it would be
impossible--quite impossible. It must have been due to some effect of
mirage.

MR. WACKERBATH.

Mirage, indeed! We got out of the carriage and climbed the slope and went
all over the building! Are you going to tell me we've been all over a
_mirage_?

HORACE.

[_Half to himself._] Oh, the blithering old idiot!

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Turning on him suddenly._] Are you addressing _me_, sir?

HORACE.

No, no; not _you_! Of course not. [_With a groan._] I told him, like a
fool, where the site was--and he's done the rest during the night!

                         [_The door at the back flies open,
                         and FAKRASH appears. He is
                         wearing a very tall hat with a wide
                         flat brim, a frock-coat, baggy
                         shepherd's plaid trousers fitting
                         tightly over his ankles, and
                         Oriental shoes._

FAKRASH.

Greeting to ye, O company!

                         [_MR. WACKERBATH and PRINGLE turn
                         in surprise._

HORACE.

[_Sinking helplessly into his chair; half to himself._] It's with _you_,
partner! [_In an undertone to FAKRASH._] Take off your hat!

                         [_FAKRASH removes his tall hat with
                         both hands, and places it on the
                         top of MR. WACKERBATH'S hat. MR.
                         WACKERBATH, annoyed, goes to
                         cabinet and removes his own hat._

FAKRASH.

[_To MR. WACKERBATH._] If I mistake not, thou art the wealthy merchant for
whom this my son hath undertaken to erect a mansion?

MR. WACKERBATH.

I am, sir. And you, I presume, are Mr. Ventimore, senior?

HORACE.

No, he isn't--he's no relation of _mine_!

FAKRASH.

[_To MR. WACKERBATH, proudly._] Is he not an architect of divine skill,
and hath he not built thee a palace that might cause even the gall of a
Sultan to burst with envy?

MR. WACKERBATH.

It very nearly made _me_ burst, sir, I can tell you that!

FAKRASH.

I marvel not, for verily it is a lordly dwelling for such as thou.

MR. WACKERBATH.

"Lordly!" _You_ can call it what you like. _I_ call it a tom-fool cross
between the Brighton Pavilion and the Palm-house at Kew! No
billiard-room--and not a sign of any drainage system! And you have the
brass--the--the unblushing effrontery to expect me to accept it as a
first-class country-house with every modern convenience!

PRINGLE.

I _must_ say that, in all my professional experience, I _never_----

HORACE.

[_Rising and approaching MR. WACKERBATH._] I'd better explain, Mr.
Wackerbath. It seems that my old--er--friend here has, with the mistaken
notion that he was helping me, built this palace for you himself. I haven't
_seen_ it--but, from what I know of his talents in that line, it can't be
half a bad sort of place--in its way. And, anyhow, I shouldn't dream of
making any charge under the circumstances. We make you a _present_ of
it--perhaps you didn't understand _that_? So, surely you will accept it in
the--the spirit in which it was intended, what?

MR. WACKERBATH.

_Accept_ it! See the finest position in the neighbourhood occupied by a
jerry-built Moorish nightmare? Be the laughing-stock of the whole county?
They'd call it "Wackerbath's Folly"! I won't have it on _my_ land a day
longer than I can help! I'll go to law, sir, and _compel_ you and your
officious partner here to pull the thing down! I--I'll fight the case as
long as I can stand!

FAKRASH.

[_Who has been regarding him through this speech with glowering eyes._] "As
long as thou canst stand"? That will be for no long period, O thou
litigious one! [_He points at him with his forefinger._] On all fours--[_MR.
WACKERBATH starts in speechless indignation, and bends slightly
forward_]--thankless dog that thou art, and crawl henceforth for the
remainder of thy days!

MR. WACKERBATH.

How _dare_ you address me in that way, sir! How----[_He suddenly drops
forward on his hands._] I will _not_ go down on all fours! Do you hear,
sir? I will not!

PRINGLE.

[_Horrified._] But--Great Heavens, sir, you _are_ on all fours!

HORACE.

[_Seizing FAKRASH'S arm._] Now, Fakrash--just you stop this!

FAKRASH.

[_Shaking HORACE off._] Let me be! [_To MR. WACKERBATH._] Begone, O
contemptible of aspect! To thy kennel!

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Almost whining, as he crawls distractedly about on all fours._] I can't!
I won't! I _can't_ cross Westminster Bridge like this! What will the
officials think at Waterloo, where I've been known and respected for years?
How am I to face my wife and family in--in my present position? I _insist_
on getting up!

PRINGLE.

Then, my dear sir, why _don't_ you? Why _humour_ him?

MR. WACKERBATH.

Why, why? Because I can't _help_ myself! Damn it, sir, do you suppose I'm
doing this for my own amusement? [_To FAKRASH._] Here, turn off your
will-power, or whatever it is, and let me up! _Do_ let me up!

HORACE.

[_In disgust._] I'll not _have_ it, Fakrash! Let him up at once!

FAKRASH.

Far be this action from me! This son of a burnt dog hath dared to disdain a
palace--therefore let his abode be in the dust for evermore!

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Crawling to HORACE._] You--you _quite_ misunderstood me--I haven't a
_word_ to say against the palace. It's the very place I _wanted_!
[_Crawling up to FAKRASH._] If--if you'll only let me up, I--I'll _live_ in
it--'pon my honour I will!

HORACE.

[_With authority, to FAKRASH._] Let this unfortunate gentleman up, will
you! I _command_ you. Both on the head and eye!

FAKRASH.

[_Sullenly, to HORACE._] But for the magnitude of thy services----! Be it
as thou wilt. [_He extends his arm over MR. WACKERBATH._] Rise! [_MR.
WACKERBATH rises and drops into chair by table, exhausted._] Depart, and
show us the breadth of thy shoulders.

                         [_MR. WACKERBATH gets up, puffing,
                         and backs to the door._

HORACE.

[_Going towards him with concern._] My dear sir, you _must_ believe _I've_
had no share in this! I--I really don't know how to apologise----

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_With his eyes on FAKRASH._] Don't mention it, sir, _pray_ don't mention
it. I am perfectly satisfied--_perfectly_!

HORACE.

You _shall_ be, very soon. Fakrash, clear that palace away at once. Sharp,
now!

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Nervously, to FAKRASH._] No, no, I couldn't think of troubling you. I--I
couldn't _wish_ for a more delightful residential mansion, I assure you!

HORACE.

[_Coming to FAKRASH._] I've told you to obliterate that palace, Fakrash. Am
I to tell you _twice_?

FAKRASH.

Hath not this overfed father of dogs--[_MR. WACKERBATH starts, but controls
his resentment immediately_]--expressed his satisfaction with it?

HORACE.

It won't do, Fakrash! Do as you're told--and be quick about it.

FAKRASH.

Verily such a palace would but be defiled by his presence--therefore let it
be annihilated. [_He stalks to the window, which flies open at a wave of
his hand, after which he faces it and mutters an incantation._] Pfpht!
[_All start._] It is accomplished. Of the palace and all the splendours
therein there remaineth not a trace!

HORACE.

[_Going up to MR. WACKERBATH._] Mr. Wackerbath, you will find on your
return that that _is_ so. I've only to apologise once more for all
the--er--inconvenience you've been put to.

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Near the door._] Not at all--not at all, I assure you. [_Turning to_
FAKRASH._] I haven't quite caught your name, my dear sir, but you must allow
me to thank you for the--ah--very handsome manner in which you have met me.

FAKRASH.

[_With a menacing movement._] Begone, I say! [_MR. WACKERBATH snatches his
hat from cabinet._] Or thou mayst find thyself in some yet _more_
unfortunate predicament.

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_At the door._] Quite so--quite so! Er--delightful weather, isn't it?
[_Opening door._] Good morning, gentlemen. [_FAKRASH makes another
movement._] Good morning.

                         [_He goes out hurriedly._

                         [_FAKRASH turns to the window and
                         stands there with folded arms,
                         looking out in sombre abstraction.
                         PRINGLE and HORACE are on the
                         other side of the room._

PRINGLE.

[_Going towards the door to his office, and lowering his voice._] I don't
think you'll see any more of Mr. Wackerbath after _this_.

HORACE.

[_In an undertone._] No, I've lost _him_--thanks to that old busybody over
there. He's done _my_ business!

PRINGLE.

It serves you right for having him about. Where on earth did you pick him
up? Who _is_ he?

HORACE.

Surely you don't need to be told! Why, he's the old Jinnee who was inside
the bottle.

PRINGLE.

Rats!--excuse the vulgarity!

HORACE.

Hang it! You _must_ have noticed _something_ queer about him!

PRINGLE.

I _have_--and if _he's_ the person you're relying on to remove the
Professor's objections, I think the old gentleman should be warned against
seeing him.

                         [_He goes into his office and shuts
                         the door; HORACE returns to
                         table, takes up the sheet on which
                         he had been working, crumples it
                         up, and flings it away._

FAKRASH.

[_Turns from window to HORACE._] Receive news! Henceforth I shall cease to
busy myself about thine affairs.

HORACE.

[_Sardonically._] That's the best news I've heard from you--so far.

FAKRASH.

[_Gloomily._] Uneasiness hath entered into my heart and I am sore troubled.

HORACE.

So you _ought_ to be after your latest performance. I suppose you know
you've wrecked my chances as an architect? But never mind that now--have
you found time to look up the Professor yet?

FAKRASH.

I have but lately parted from him.

                         [_He comes to fireplace._

HORACE.

And you went to Cottesmore Gardens in _that_ kit? [_Amused in spite of
himself._] If you could only _see_ yourself!

FAKRASH.

Didst thou not order me to assume such apparel as is worn in this city?

HORACE.

I didn't say on the 5th of November! However, you _saw_ him. Did you get
your seal back?

FAKRASH.

Nay, for the sage protested that he had mislaid it!

HORACE.

Oh, well, never mind--it'll turn up in time. What I _really_ want to know
is whether you convinced him that you'd come out of the brass bottle?

FAKRASH.

[_Sombrely._] As to that I can tell thee naught. On hearing that I came
from thee, he reviled me as a person of no reputation, and threatened to
summon a certain constable and have me delivered into custody. Whereupon I
took measures--[_he smiles cunningly_]--to ensure his silence.

HORACE.

[_Falling back in his chair in sudden terror._] His--_silence_! You--you
old _devil_! You--you've not--_killed_ him!

FAKRASH.

Nay, nay, I have not so much as harmed a hair of his head.

HORACE.

[_Rising._] Phew! What a fright you gave me! [_Moving towards fireplace,
then turning._] But you've been up to _some_ devilry or other--I'm sure of
it. What _have_ you done to him? Out with it!

FAKRASH.

[_Going up towards door._] It was necessary for my security to--[_at
door_]--transform him into a one-eyed mule.

HORACE.

[_Petrified with horror._] A one-eyed _what_!

FAKRASH.

[_Walks through the door, then turns, remaining visible through the door
panels._] A one-eyed mule of hideous appearance. Farewell to thee.

                         [_He disappears; HORACE seizes
                         his hat and rushes madly out as the
                         curtain falls._


END OF THE FIRST SCENE OF THE THIRD ACT.


SCENE II

                         _The scene represents the
                         drawing-room at 47 Cottesmore
                         Gardens, Kensington._

                         _It is a pleasant room, tastefully
                         furnished. On the left a recessed
                         fireplace, in which are ferns; on
                         the mantelpiece are some large blue
                         and white beakers and vases. On the
                         right a bay-window and window-seat.
                         The windows are wide open, showing
                         window-boxes filled with scarlet
                         geraniums and marguerites, and a
                         quiet street with detached houses.
                         At the back, on the right, is a
                         door opening on the hall. To the
                         left of this door are sliding-doors
                         shutting off the PROFESSOR'S
                         _study. In front of these
                         sliding-doors is a long high backed
                         sofa, completely covered in chintz,
                         the flounce of which touches the
                         floor. At the rising of the curtain
                         these doors are closed. Behind them
                         are curtains. Near the fireplace
                         are an armchair and a small table.
                         Against the wall, below the
                         fireplace, is a cabinet. Between
                         the sliding-doors and the door to
                         the hall is another cabinet with
                         door, which, when opened, shows
                         shelves filled with ancient
                         pottery. Above the bay-window is a
                         bureau. Below it are a sofa and a
                         small table._

                         _As the curtain rises MRS. FUTVOYE
                         _is seen seated in chair by the
                         fireplace, trying to do some
                         embroidery, though her thoughts are
                         evidently elsewhere. From behind
                         the sliding-doors proceed sounds as
                         of some animal kicking and
                         plunging._

SYLVIA'S voice is then heard crying_: "Father, please don't!" [_A
succession of dull thuds as of battering hoofs._] "Oh, _do_ take care!"

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Lays down her work, rises, goes to the sliding-doors, and knocks._]
Anthony! _Don't_ go on like that, for goodness' sake! You _must_ try and
control yourself! Just _think_, if the _servants_ heard you! [_JESSIE, a
neat parlour-maid in morning costume, pink print, cap, and apron, enters
from hall; MRS. FUTVOYE hurriedly leaves the sofa by the sliding-doors,
goes back to her chair, and takes up her work with an elaborate assumption
of perfect calm._] What is it, Jessie? I haven't rung.

JESSIE.

I know, madam. But there's such a noise in the master's study I was afraid
something had happened.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Severely._] Then it was very _foolish_ of you. What _should_ have
happened? If you heard _anything_, it probably came from next door.

                         [_Sounds of stamping from within
                         sliding-doors, and then a noise as
                         if some piece of furniture had been
                         overturned._

JESSIE.

There it is _again_, madam! And it _does_ seem to come from the study!

                         [_Sounds as before, rather louder._

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Oh, _that_? That's nothing, nothing! The Professor is merely shifting some
of the furniture.

JESSIE.

[_Evidently devoured by curiosity._] Won't he find it too much for him,
madam? Perhaps I might be able to help.

                         [_She makes a movement towards the
                         sliding-doors._

MRS. FUTVOYE.

You're not to go in there! You know your master allows _nobody_ to touch
his things. I can't have him disturbed.

                         [_More stamping and banging--then a
                         crash of broken glass._

JESSIE.

He seems to be disturbing of _himself_, madam--just had an accident with
something. Hadn't I better go in and clear it up?

                         [_She again makes a movement
                         towards the sliding-doors._

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Certainly not! Leave the room and attend to your work. [_The front door
bell rings._] Good gracious! the visitors' bell! Jessie, I'm not at home!
_Nobody_ is at home! _Whoever_ it is, mind!

JESSIE.

[_Who has gone to the door leading to the hall and opened it, turns to
MRS. FUTVOYE._] I forgot to mention it, madam, but after that foreign
gentleman called to see the master this morning, I found there's something
wrong with the catch of the front door--leastways, I can't get it to shut,
do what I will.

                         [_PRINGLE comes in through the door
                         which JESSIE is holding open._

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Rises and makes a step forward._] Mr. Pringle! You can go, Jessie.

                         [_JESSIE goes out with an air of
                         baffled curiosity._

PRINGLE.

[_Shaking hands with MRS. FUTVOYE._] Pray excuse my coming in
unannounced--but it's rather urgent.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

How do you do, Mr. Pringle? [_Indicating the sofa below the window._] Do
sit down.

PRINGLE.

I feel reassured already. I had a dreadful apprehension that I might come
_too late_.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_With a pathetic attempt to maintain appearances._] Half past twelve is
surely _quite_ early enough. Not that I am anything but delighted to see
_you_, at _any_ time.

PRINGLE.

You are very kind. [_He sits down._] But--to be quite frank--I called to
see the Professor. Could I have a word or two with him at once?

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Who has taken a chair near the sofa._] I'm _so_ sorry--but that's really
impossible just now.

PRINGLE.

Indeed? I trust he is not unwell--after last night?

MRS. FUTVOYE.

N--not _unwell_ exactly. But--not _quite_ his usual self.

                         [_More noise from study, and
                         SYLVIA'S voice heard exclaiming:_
                         "Papa! Papa!"

PRINGLE.

[_Looking round._] He seems to be in his study,--and I thought I heard Miss
Sylvia's voice.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Yes--yes--he--he's particularly busy this morning.

                         [_Increased noise._

PRINGLE.

[_Puzzled._] So it appears. But--[_rising_]--I wouldn't interrupt him for
long, and it really is _most_ important.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Rising in agitation._] I do assure you he can see _nobody_ at present.

                         [_She seats herself, persuading him
                         to sit down also._

PRINGLE.

But, Mrs. Futvoye,--if you knew what I have discovered----!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Rising again._] Discovered!

PRINGLE.

About Ventimore. I want to put the Professor on his guard against receiving
any--er--emissary from him.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Slightly relieved._] Oh, he's not likely to do _that_--he has _much_ more
important matters to think about!

                         [_The noise is renewed; stamping,
                         plunging, overturned chairs._

PRINGLE.

Just so. Then--if I might speak to Miss Sylvia?

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Hastily._] _She_ is very busy too, helping my husband. [_Here the noise
reaches its finale in a resounding crash and clatter of falling furniture
and shivered glass; MRS. FUTVOYE proceeds without appearing to have
noticed it._] He--he sometimes makes use of her as--as his amanuensis.

                         [_The sliding-doors are suddenly
                         run back, and SYLVIA appears. She
                         does not see PRINGLE, who has
                         risen and moved to the right, from
                         which position he can see into the
                         study. MRS. FUTVOYE makes a
                         movement towards her to check any
                         disclosures._

SYLVIA.

[_In despair._] Oh, Mother! Mother! You _must_ come to father! He's kicking
worse than ever, and I can't manage him any longer!

PRINGLE.

[_To himself, recoiling, after a glance through the sliding-doors, off._]
My _hat_!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Warningly, as SYLVIA carefully closes sliding-doors, pushes the sofa
aside, and comes down._] Sylvia! Don't you see Mr. Pringle?

SYLVIA.

[_Turning and starting._] Oh! What _have_ I said?

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Nothing, my dear. [_Turning to PRINGLE._] I must ask you to excuse me, Mr.
Pringle. My husband is a little irritable this morning. [_Going up to
sliding-doors._] A sharp attack of--of gout. In both legs, you know! [_She
slips in behind the long sofa, pushes back doors, draws the curtains behind
them._] Anthony, you must _not_ excite yourself like this.

                         [_She goes into study, closing the
                         sliding-doors after her. A slight
                         pause. SYLVIA pushes the sofa
                         back against the sliding-doors and
                         seats herself on it._

PRINGLE.

[_Approaching the sofa, with sympathy._] I really had no idea your father
was--was as bad as all _this_.

SYLVIA.

[_On her guard._] People _do_ kick, Mr. Pringle, when they have gout--in
both legs.

PRINGLE.

_Do_ they? I should hardly have thought--particularly--[_with meaning_]--if
they've gout in--all four.

SYLVIA.

[_Shrinking back._] "All four!" Then--you _know_!

PRINGLE.

Pardon me--but I couldn't help catching a glimpse just now--through these
doors.

SYLVIA.

A glimpse? What did you--_suppose_ you saw?

PRINGLE.

I had an impression--of course I may be quite wrong!--that any one who
didn't _know_ your father might almost mistake him, at first sight, for--I
am trying to put it as delicately as I can--for some kind
of--er--_quadruped_.

                         [_He sits on sofa beside her._

SYLVIA.

You mean a _mule_! [_She rises in tears, and crosses to the mantelpiece._]
I think I could have borne it better if he'd only been a _nice_ mule.
B--but--[_breaking down_]--he _isn't_!

PRINGLE.

[_Rising and going towards her._] You don't say so! [_Sympathetically._]
That, of course, must make it all the harder for you.

SYLVIA.

[_Tearfully._] His temper is simply _fearful_! Why, just now, when I said
he must try to manage some oats or a carrot for lunch, he--he lashed out
and sent his hoofs through the mummy-case!

PRINGLE.

Dear--dear! Perhaps if you could persuade him to see a vet----[_Correcting
himself._] I mean a _doctor_----

SYLVIA.

[_Crossing towards sofa on right._] It would be no use--he never _will_
take medicine! And what are we to _do_ with him? It's too dreadful to think
that he may have to be sent to--to a Home of Rest for Horses!

                         [_She sinks on sofa, and bursts
                         into tears once more._

PRINGLE.

[_Following her._] He never _was_ what you might call a "horsey" man--let
us hope he won't come to _that_! Have you any idea how he came to
be--er--affected like this?

SYLVIA.

[_Resentfully, through her tears._] There's no _affectation_ about it, Mr.
Pringle--oh, you mean "afflicted"--we can't _think_. He wasn't as bright as
usual at breakfast--I think he was rather worried because he couldn't find
that seal Horace lent him last night----

PRINGLE.

But no amount of _worry_----! Pardon me, I interrupt you.

                         [_He takes a chair by the sofa._

SYLVIA.

Well; then Jessie came in to say that a foreign gentleman had called to see
him on important business. Father told her to show him into the study, and
went in presently to hear what he came about. We heard them arguing, and
father's voice seemed to be getting angry, so mother went in to beg him
not to excite himself. She found father alone, and--just as she opened the
door--he--he changed into a mule before her eyes.

                         [_She breaks down entirely._

PRINGLE.

Really? It--it must have upset her considerably.

SYLVIA.

It _did_. But, luckily, mother never loses her head. She locked the study
doors at once, and we shut these, and I don't _think_ the servants suspect
anything at present. But they're sure to find out before long.

PRINGLE.

Yes. I'm afraid it's bound to leak out.

SYLVIA.

But how could this horrible thing have happened?

PRINGLE.

[_Solemnly._] My dear Miss Sylvia, let me remind you that "there are more
things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in----"

SYLVIA.

[_Petulantly._] Oh, don't quote that _now_, Mr. Pringle! It _is_ so stale!

PRINGLE.

[_With wounded dignity._] It may be stale--but it's Shakespeare! And I can
only conclude that--even in the twentieth century--magic is not the lost
art I had always imagined it.

SYLVIA.

[_Turning to him with more interest._] Then _you_ believe now that Horace
_did_ find a Jinnee in that brass bottle?

PRINGLE.

[_Rising._] No, no. I don't go as far as _that_.

SYLVIA.

How far _do_ you go?

PRINGLE.

Well, I know that Ventimore is associated with an elderly Oriental who
possesses extraordinary will-power. This very morning, in Ventimore's own
office, they played a highly unprofessional and discreditable trick between
them on your own godfather, Mr. Wackerbath.

SYLVIA.

On godfather! No, no, I'm sure Horace had nothing to do with _that_!

PRINGLE.

I was _there_--and he evidently had a great _deal_ to do with it. I thought
at the time it was hypnotism--but it's clear enough _now_ that this
confederate of Ventimore's is a powerful and most unscrupulous magician.

SYLVIA.

[_Springing up indignantly, and crossing to fireplace._] I won't hear any
more! You're trying to make me doubt Horace again--but you can't! you
_can't_! I _know_ he'd never send a magician to hurt father! [_As HORACE
enters from the hall, looking pale and wild._] Ah! Horace, you needn't
tell me! _You_ at least have no share in what has happened!

HORACE.

[_Going to her and taking both her hands._] Darling! For Heaven's sake tell
me what _has_ happened?

SYLVIA.

[_Triumphantly._] You hear, Mr. Pringle? He doesn't even know! _Now_ will
you dare to repeat what you were saying--to his face?

PRINGLE.

If you insist. I've been saying, Ventimore, that I believe _you_ to have
inspired this abominable transformation of the Professor.

HORACE.

It's true, then? He--he really _is_ a mule?

SYLVIA.

[_Disengaging herself, with a sudden doubt._] Horace, tell me--_did_ you
send any one to father!

HORACE.

[_Sinking into chair by sofa._] Heaven forgive me! I did.

SYLVIA.

[_Recoiling from him with aversion._] To transform him into a mule?

                         [_She goes to a chair below
                         fireplace, and seats herself in
                         despair._

HORACE.

[_Rising and going towards her._] No, no! I wanted old Fakrash to convince
him that he really _had_ been in the bottle--but not like _this_! I thought
I could trust him to do _that_! [_Bitterly._] But I might have known!

PRINGLE.

So you still stick to that story about the Jinnee?

HORACE.

Surely even _you_ must believe it now?

PRINGLE.

I--I admit that it doesn't seem so incredible as it did. But, if true,
there's all the less excuse for you. Because you can make this Jinnee, or
whatever he is, do anything you tell him. You can't deny that--I've seen
you _do_ it, you know!

SYLVIA.

Ah!

HORACE.

I can manage him right enough when he's _there_--it's when I haven't got my
eye on him that he makes all these mistakes.

SYLVIA.

But _why_ should he change poor father into a one-eyed mule? It's so
utterly unreasonable!

HORACE.

I'm afraid the Professor alarmed him by threatening to send for a
constable. However, darling--and this is what I'm here to tell you--it
won't last long. _I'll_ take care that your father will soon be restored.

SYLVIA.

[_Rising, overjoyed._] You _will_? Oh, I _must_ tell them! [_Rushing to the
sliding-doors and slightly opening them._] Mother, mother! I've
news--_good_ news!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Looking cautiously through the opening._] What is it, Sylvia? [_Sees
HORACE with displeasure._] Mr. Ventimore! _You_ here! [_Stamping heard
from study. MRS. FUTVOYE turns and speaks over her shoulder._] Keep
back, Anthony! Keep back! Remember--you're not fit to be seen, as you
_are_!

SYLVIA.

[_Happily._] It doesn't matter, mother. They _both_ know. And Horace is
going to make father all right again.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Oh, in _that_ case----

                         [_She pushes the sofa aside and
                         comes through, leaving the
                         sliding-doors open, and pulling the
                         curtains back, but replacing the
                         sofa._

HORACE.

Mrs. Futvoye, I've something to say which I think will cheer the Professor
up a bit.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Unless you can say how and when my husband may expect to see an end of all
this----

HORACE.

I shall make old Fakrash see to that.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Make old Fakrash see to it?

HORACE.

The Jinnee I let out of that brass bottle. I told you all about him last
night. You didn't believe me _then_.

PRINGLE.

None of us did. But I'm afraid, Mrs. Futvoye, we've got to believe now.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_To HORACE._] Then--are _you_ responsible for this?

HORACE.

Indirectly. Only indirectly. I couldn't prevent Fakrash making an ass of
himself.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

You might have prevented his making a mule of my husband!

                         [_Another plunge and crash of glass
                         from behind._

HORACE.

I wasn't consulted! But I will say _this_ for old Fakrash--nobody's readier
to repair a blunder when once it's pointed out to him. He'll do anything
for _me_.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Then send for him and _insist_ on his repairing what he's done here.

SYLVIA.

[_Eagerly, down on right._] Yes, yes. Send for him, Horace, _send_ for him!

HORACE.

[_Heavily._] I'm afraid it wouldn't be any use.

PRINGLE.

Nonsense! You could make him come if you _chose_!

HORACE.

I tell you I can't. I don't even know where he is--or if he hasn't gone off
to Arabia again----

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Off to Arabia! [_Going towards him._] And when--_when_ is he likely to be
_back_?

HORACE.

[_Suddenly._] Oh! [_He collapses into the chair above the fireplace._]
I--I've only just remembered. He told me he was going to _settle down_
there!

                         [_General consternation._

MRS. FUTVOYE.

And is my husband to remain a mule for the rest of his life?

                         [_Furious plunging heard from
                         study._

HORACE.

[_In a choked voice._] Don't ask me, Mrs. Futvoye--don't _ask_ me!

_Pringle._

[_Coming towards HORACE._] I _thought_, Ventimore, you came to cheer the
Professor up?

SYLVIA.

Horace, if you don't summon that odious Jinnee this instant, I shall _hate_
you! I'm _beginning_ to, as it is!

HORACE.

[_Rising and coming towards her._] My darling, I'd do any mortal thing I
could--but I'm helpless! [_At this instant FAKRASH, in Oriental robe and
turban, and a long green cloak, suddenly emerges from the cabinet between
the sliding-doors and the door to the hall, and stands scowling and
evidently trying to repress both rage and fear. HORACE sees him first._]
No, I'm not! Hooray! we're saved! He's turned up, after all! [_The others
retreat towards the fireplace in alarm._] Leave him to _me_. _I_ know how
to manage him. [_He approaches FAKRASH._] So here you are! If you aren't
ashamed of yourself, you jolly well _ought_ to be! A pretty mess you've
landed us in this time! Just you get us _out_ of it again!

FAKRASH.

[_Waving him aside._] No greeting to thee! I have come upon my own
affairs.

HORACE.

You'll attend to _mine_ first. Undo this infamous spell of yours--do you
hear?

FAKRASH.

[_Sullenly._] I will grant nothing more at _thy_ request.

HORACE.

I don't think you quite understand. I don't _request_--I _command_. On the
head and on the eye!

FAKRASH.

Thou art wasting breath. No longer am I under obligation to thee, O thou
perfidious one!

HORACE.

[_Anxiously._] Why--what's _come_ to you? [_Coaxingly._] I say!
Fakrash--old _chappie_. Don't play the goat _now_! You _can't_ mean to
leave me on the mat like this!

FAKRASH.

[_Glaring at him._] Canst thou not perceive how hateful thou hast become to
me?

HORACE.

I _do_ notice a coolness. But _why_? You were chummy enough not half an
hour ago!

FAKRASH.

[_Going from him towards right._] I had not then discovered thy treachery.

HORACE.

You're barking up the wrong tree, as usual, you know. Come--tell me what
it's all about?

FAKRASH.

Not now. I will deal with thee hereafter, misbegotten cur that thou art!

                         [_He stalks towards window._

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_From below fireplace, to HORACE._] You don't seem to be managing him very
well _so_ far.

PRINGLE.

[_Coming down to HORACE._] You gave us to understand that he would do
_anything_ for you.

HORACE.

So he will, generally--but not just now. [_Crossing to MRS. FUTVOYE and
SYLVIA, while FAKRASH remains apart, with his back to the others._] He's
suddenly turned nasty--I've no idea why. But I shall bring him round--in
time.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

It's my _husband_ who has to be brought round--and there's no time to be
lost!

HORACE.

I know--but if I press Fakrash in his present mood, I shall only make
matters worse.

PRINGLE.

Well, if you can't--or _won't_--get him to do something, one of _us_ must
try! Perhaps if Miss Sylvia could bring herself to appeal to his better
feelings----?

SYLVIA.

[_Shrinking back._] People who come out of bottles can't _have_ better
feelings! I couldn't--_really_, I couldn't.

PRINGLE.

You'd rather not? [_SYLVIA shudders._] Then I must see what _I_ can do.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

How _good_ of you!

HORACE.

[_Drawing PRINGLE back as he is going towards FAKRASH._] I _wouldn't_,
Pringle! He's in a vile temper. And, unless you're _anxious_ to become a
domestic animal of some sort----

SYLVIA.

_Pray_ don't run such a risk, dear Mr. Pringle!

PRINGLE.

I shall be very careful, and I trust that, with ordinary tact----[_He
makes a step towards FAKRASH._] Ahem! [_FAKRASH turns suddenly round with a
feline snarl; all retreat to left; PRINGLE pulls himself together and
tries again._] My--my dear sir, may I ask your attention for a few moments?

FAKRASH.

[_Striding towards him._] Who art _thou_?--a friend of yonder serpent's?

HORACE.

[_Indignantly._] Oh, I say! "Serpent," you know! "Serpent" is a bit----

                         [_FAKRASH ignores him._

PRINGLE.

No, no, I repudiate him. I represent this unfortunate family--_they_
repudiate him too.

MRS. FUTVOYE AND SYLVIA.

[_Together._] Yes, yes, indeed--_indeed_ we do!

                         [_HORACE sinks speechlessly on
                         chair by sofa on right._

FAKRASH.

[_To PRINGLE._] I will hearken unto thee, for indeed thou seemest a person
of abundant intelligence and excellent conduct.

PRINGLE.

You're very kind--I hope I _am_. Hem! [_Going nearer FAKRASH._] I am sure,
sir, that, if you had realised the serious embarrassment you have caused
the members of this household by transforming its head into a one-eyed
mule, you would never have allowed your--your sense of humour to carry you
so far.

FAKRASH.

For mine own safety was it accomplished--for the sage threatened to deliver
me into custody.

HORACE.

[_Starting up and coming towards FAKRASH._] He never _meant_ it! And,
anyhow, _you're_ safe enough!

FAKRASH.

[_Turning on him fiercely._] Hold thy lying tongue!

PRINGLE.

Ventimore, I must beg you not to interfere.

HORACE.

Damn it all, Pringle, he's _my_ Jinnee--not yours!

                         [_He attempts to join MRS. FUTVOYE
                         and SYLVIA, who turn their backs
                         on him, after which he returns to
                         his former place, crushed._

PRINGLE.

[_To FAKRASH._] Evidently, sir, there has been some slight misunderstanding
on both sides. But I feel confident that, if you will only consent to see
this unfortunate gentleman, the matter can very soon be amicably arranged.

FAKRASH.

I am here for this very purpose. Let this learned man appear before me.

PRINGLE.

I won't keep you waiting long. [_He goes up to the sliding-doors and
calls._] Professor! If you will kindly step this way, Mr. Fakrash would be
glad to see you.

                         [_A pause. THE MULE comes slowly
                         on from the left side of the
                         sliding doors._

HORACE.

[_Overwhelmed._] Great Heavens above!

PRINGLE.

[_Trying to be polite and at his ease._] Er--how do you do, Professor?
Sorry to see you looking so--so unlike yourself. [_THE MULE shows
irritation; PRINGLE retreats nervously; then, in an undertone to MRS.
FUTVOYE._] He--he can't jump that sofa, can he?

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_In an undertone, to him._] Of course not--that's why it's there!

PRINGLE.

[_To FAKRASH._] A distinguished archæologist, sir, a corresponding member
of every learned society in Europe--reduced to these extremities! [_To
THE MULE, which seems to feel its position acutely._] Professor, as
Ventimore has refused to interfere, I have taken on myself to assure
this--this venerable Jane----

HORACE.

[_In an undertone to PRINGLE._] _Jinnee!_ Call him "Jinnee"!

PRINGLE.

[_To HORACE._] I prefer to leave such familiarities to _you_,
Ventimore----[_To MULE._]--this venerable _personage_, Professor, that if
you have inadvertently offended him, you are ready to make any reasonable
apology. That is so?

                         [_THE MULE bows its head._

FAKRASH.

Ask if he be willing to surrender the stopper of the bottle wherein I was
enclosed.

                         [_MULE shakes head._

PRINGLE.

Now, Professor, if you consent to a request which I must say seems to me a
very moderate and proper one, will you--er--signify the same in the usual
manner by raising--er--your right ear?

                         [_THE MULE'S left ear goes up
                         sharply._

FAKRASH.

The _left_ ear! He refuseth!

PRINGLE.

No, no, he _meant_ the right ear--he hasn't got complete muscular control
as yet. I _really_ think we should get on better if you gave him back his
power of speech.

FAKRASH.

It may be so. [_He approaches THE MULE and addresses it._] O thou of
remarkable attainments, whom I have caused to assume the shape of this
mule, speak, I command thee, and say if thou wilt restore my stopper.

THE MULE.

[_Laying back its ears and showing its teeth._] I'll see you damned first!

                         [_General sensation._

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Going towards THE MULE in distress._] Oh! he wouldn't be so obstinate
if he wasn't a mule!

FAKRASH.

[_To THE MULE._] Thou art trifling with my safety and thine own! Reveal
unto me the spot in which thou hast hidden the stopper and delay not--for
it will be no difficult undertaking to transform these women of thine into
mules like thyself.

                         [_Horror of MRS. FUTVOYE and
                         SYLVIA, _and despair and rage of
                         HORACE, who rises and rushes
                         towards FAKRASH.

THE MULE.

You can _do_ it for all _I_ care----!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Oh, Anthony!

THE MULE.

We shall at least be a more united family than we are now!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Frantically._] Anthony! Don't provoke him! Think of _others_!

FAKRASH.

[_With some anxiety._] Hearken! I am disposed to show thee indulgence.
Obey,--and I will restore thee to what thou wert.

THE MULE.

Why couldn't you say so before? I'll accept _those_ terms, as there's no
alternative. Only--[_with his head on one side reflectively_]--I can't for
the life of me recollect what I _did_ with that seal. Tut-tut!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Oh, Anthony! Think! Think!

                         [_General suspense and excitement._

THE MULE.

[_Irritably._] I _am_ thinking, Sophia! [_After further reflection._] Ah! I
remember now! I put it inside one of the vases on the mantelpiece, for
safety.

                         [HORACE looks aimlessly under the
                         table and sofa; MRS. FUTVOYE,
                         SYLVIA, and PRINGLE rush to the
                         fireplace and search the vases._

MRS. FUTVOYE AND SYLVIA.

[_Turning vases upside down._] Which? Which? No. It's not _there_! It's not
_here._

PRINGLE.

[_As he finds the metal cap in the last vase._] I've got it! [_Going to
FAKRASH, and presenting it._] Allow me, sir.

                         [_FAKRASH snatches it eagerly.
                         PRINGLE goes up to THE MULE and
                         reassures it, MRS. FUTVOYE
                         accompanying him._

FAKRASH.

[_Gloating over the cap._] It is indeed my stopper! Now shall I be secure
from disturbance!

HORACE.

[_Going to FAKRASH, seizing his arm, and drawing him to the right; then,
in an undertone._] Pitch into me afterwards if you like--but listen now.
You _must_ keep _your_ side of the bargain!

FAKRASH.

[_Coldly._] What _I_ have promised I perform.

HORACE.

[_Relieved._] Ah, I _knew_ you were a good old sort--at bottom. And--I
say--_do_ make them understand that _I've_ had nothing to do with all
this.

FAKRASH.

[_Grimly._] Have no uneasiness--for thou shalt receive justice. [_HORACE
retires to sofa on right, expecting to be rehabilitated._] Hear, O
company, my words! I repent of my conduct in obeying the orders of yonder
wretch--[_pointing to HORACE, who gasps in stupefaction_]--who is seeking
even now to deter me from showing kindness.

HORACE.

Liar! _Liar!_

FAKRASH.

Being desirous of escaping marriage with this damsel--[_with a step
towards SYLVIA_]--he commanded me to transform her father as ye see. And I,
whom he had delivered from a bottle of brass, was compelled by gratitude to
fulfil all his desires.

HORACE.

[_Going up to FAKRASH furiously._] You infernal old scoundrel! [_FAKRASH
smiles malignantly and stalks off to the right; HORACE crosses to
SYLVIA._] _You_ don't believe him, Sylvia? You _can't_!

SYLVIA.

Don't speak to me! Don't come near me!

                         [_MRS. FUTVOYE and PRINGLE
                         express disgust and indignation._

HORACE.

You're devilish _hard_ on me, all of you. [_He staggers to the sofa in
front of sliding-doors and falls back, hitting his head against THE MULE'S
nose; THE MULE makes a grab at him; he rises in confusion._] I--I beg
your pardon, sir!

                         [_He retreats to the left of the
                         sofa._

SYLVIA.

[_Down on left, to FAKRASH._] But you won't obey him any longer, _will_
you? You _are_ going to restore poor father?

FAKRASH.

[_On the right._] Let him first swear that he and all his household will
preserve secrecy concerning this affair.

THE MULE.

[_Angrily._] Damn it, sir, we're not likely to _chatter_ about it!

PRINGLE.

[_Approaching FAKRASH, reassuringly._] It will never be allowed to go
beyond the family.

FAKRASH.

[_To PRINGLE._] O eloquent and comely-faced one, I accept thy undertaking,
for thou art indeed a worthy and honourable person. [_As PRINGLE, highly
flattered, returns to THE MULE, FAKRASH beckons MRS. FUTVOYE._] In order
that I may restore thy husband, bring me hither a cup of fair water.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

There's some in the dining-room. [_Going towards door to hall._] At least,
it's _filtered_, if _that_ will do!

THE MULE.

Don't ask foolish questions, Sophia--do as you're _told_!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_With dignity._] I think you forget yourself, Anthony!

                         [_PRINGLE opens the door for her,
                         and she goes out._

SYLVIA.

[_Going to PRINGLE, and taking his hand._] Dear, _dear_ Mr. Pringle!
Where _should_ we be without _you_?

PRINGLE.

[_Modestly._] Don't _mention_ it, Miss Sylvia! That is--no trouble, I
assure you!

                         [_They come down together to the
                         left, talking in dumb show._

HORACE.

[_Going to FAKRASH on the right._] You--you pig-headed old
muddler--[_pointing to SYLVIA and PRINGLE_]--look at _that_! You've done
for me _this_ time.

FAKRASH.

[_Darkly._] Nay--not yet.

                         [_MRS. FUTVOYE enters from the
                         hall, carrying a glass goblet full
                         of water._

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_To FAKRASH._] I've brought it in this, but if you _prefer_ a
breakfast-cup----

THE MULE.

[_Impatiently._] What the devil does it matter? Let him get _on_ with it!

FAKRASH.

[_As he meets MRS. FUTVOYE and takes the goblet from her._] This will
serve. [_He goes up to THE MULE and sprinkles some drops of water on its
head._] Quit this form and return unto the form in which thou wert!

                         [_THE MULE fades into the
                         PROFESSOR, who appears gasping and
                         in an extremely bad temper;
                         PRINGLE shifts the sofa to let him
                         pass; FAKRASH retires to near the
                         window._

SYLVIA.

[_Rushing to the PROFESSOR._] Father!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Coming to his other side._] Now, Anthony, after all you have been
through, you'd better sit down for a little.

SYLVIA.

[_As she and MRS. FUTVOYE bring him down to the chair left of sofa on
right._] It _is_ lovely to have you back, father dear!

PRINGLE.

[_Joining them._] You're looking better _already_, sir!

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Sinking into the chair by sofa._] Tut-tut! There, there--nothing to make
all this fuss about! If one of you had only had the sense to try cold
water, I should have come round _long_ before this!

SYLVIA.

But, father!--you forget that, but for Mr. Pringle----

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

No, my dear, I do _not_. I owe much--very much--to Pringle's good
offices--as I shall remember, my dear Pringle, as I shall _remember_. But I
attribute my restoration in some measure to the fact that--from first to
last--I was able to preserve perfect calm and self-control.

PRINGLE.

[_With an involuntary glance at the study, in which every article of
furniture is smashed._] Quite _so_! And now I want you--all three--to
celebrate your recovery by dining with me this evening at the Savoy. You
promised you would last night, Professor. Not in the restaurant--I'll
engage a private room.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

No, no--not to-night, my boy. I don't feel up to going out just yet.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Nonsense, Anthony! You can dine out anywhere _now_, you know--and it will
do you good. Thank you, Mr. Pringle, we shall be delighted. Sha'n't we,
Sylvia?

SYLVIA.

I think I would rather stay at home this evening, mother.

                         [_PRINGLE tries to persuade her in
                         by-play._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Rising._] We'll come, Pringle, we'll come. [_To FAKRASH, who is still
standing by the window._] Now then, sir, you've got all you came for--what
are you waiting for?

FAKRASH.

To receive thy thanks.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

_What?_ For exposing me to all this humiliation! You'll get no thanks from
_me_, sir--and the sooner you and your accomplice relieve this house of
your presence the better!

FAKRASH.

[_Moving to right behind the sofa._] Let the rat, while he is still between
the leopard's paws, observe rigidly all the laws of politeness! Take
heed--or thou mayst become more hideous even than a mule!

                         [_General sensation._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Eh? I spoke hastily--but I meant nothing offensive! I--I'm very much
obliged to you. And now don't let us detain you--_either_ of you--from your
other engagements.

HORACE.

[_Coming forward._] I'm going, sir--but I must say one last word to
Sylvia----!

FAKRASH.

[_To SYLVIA._] Hearken not to this deceiver, O damsel,--for he will never
wed thee!

SYLVIA.

[_Indignantly._] I'll never wed _him_!

FAKRASH.

Thou wilt not--for he is betrothed to a darker bride.

HORACE.

What!

SYLVIA.

Ah! [_To HORACE, coldly._] The--the lady I met last night? I wish you
every happiness. [_Turning to PRINGLE._] On second thoughts, Mr. Pringle, I
_will_ come to dinner to-night.

                         [_PRINGLE expresses his
                         gratification._

HORACE.

[_Going nearer SYLVIA._] Sylvia! It may be for the last time----!

FAKRASH.

It is! Come! [_He extends his right hand towards HORACE, who is
irresistibly drawn backwards to him._] For I will tarry no longer.

                         [_He seizes his arm._

HORACE.

[_Making an ineffectual resistance._] Let me go, Fakrash! Where are you
taking me to?

FAKRASH.

[_Seizes him round the waist._] To meet--[_he soars up with HORACE
through the open window on the right, and the remainder of the sentence is
continued outside in mid-air_]--thy bride!

                         [_The others go to window and gaze
                         after them, pointing upwards._

PRINGLE.

[_With solemn disapproval._] Disgraceful! They've flown right over the
chimney-pots!


THE CURTAIN FALLS.

END OF THE THIRD ACT.



THE FOURTH ACT


SCENE I

HORACE'S rooms, as in the opening of the play_.

_The time is immediately after the close of the Third Act._

                         _As the curtain rises MRS. RAPKIN
                         _is arranging various articles on
                         the table_. RAPKIN enters from the
                         door leading to landing, carrying a
                         pair of boots on trees, which he
                         takes into HORACE'S bedroom by
                         the door down on the right, and
                         then returns._

RAPKIN.

[_Uneasily, to MRS. RAPKIN._] Marire, did Mr. Ventimore _say_ anythink this
morning--regarding last night?

MRS. RAPKIN.

Ah, you may well ask! After sneakin' off first thing like you did, and
leavin' me to make your excuses!

RAPKIN.

You'd some to make on your own, Marire. [_Sitting on right of table._] If
his friends got any dinner, it was no thanks to _you_!

MRS. RAPKIN.

I'd never have gone if I 'adn't fancied the 'ouse was changed into Arabian
'alls and full o' grinnin' niggers!

RAPKIN.

_Fancied!_ Why, _I_ see 'em same as you did, didn't I?

MRS. RAPKIN.

You! You'd ha' seen anythink in the condition _you_ was in! And, any'ow,
the 'ouse was just as usual when we come in.

RAPKIN.

It _was_--and that on'y made it all the rummier! For you can't deny as
there was _somethink_ queer goin' on 'ere.

MRS. RAPKIN.

[_Severely._] There was _you_, William! And you'll go on from bad to worse
if you don't give up nippin'!

                         [_She goes up to bookcase on the
                         left._

RAPKIN.

Oh, come _orf_ it, Marire! You tole me yourself you see a percession of
camels stop at our door long before _I_ got 'ome!

MRS. RAPKIN.

And I did--if it was my last words. Camuels and furrin' parties as brought
in packages off of them. Luckily, they was all gone afore the neighbours
'ad time to take notice. [_Coming down to table._] And the best thing you
and me can do is to let bygones _be_ bygones, and 'old our tongues about
it.

RAPKIN.

All very fine--but 'ow do we know Mr. Ventimore mayn't be up to _more_ of
these 'ere games?

MRS. RAPKIN.

Mr. Ventimore! I _did_ blame him--at first. But I'm sure now as _'e_ 'ad
nothink to do with it. Poor dear young gentleman, we've never known 'im
beyave otherwise than _as_ a gentleman, and----[_There is a sound outside
of rushing wind, as FAKRASH swoops down with HORACE and both alight on
the balcony; MRS. RAPKIN turns, screams, and sinks into a chair on the
right of the fireplace._] Bless us and save us! Oh, Mr. Ventimore!
[_Seeing FAKRASH._] And who's _that_?

HORACE.

[_Disengaging himself from FAKRASH, and stepping in._] That will do, Mrs.
Rapkin. Can't I bring a--a friend in with me without your making all this
fuss about it?

MRS. RAPKIN.

[_Rising, with dignity._] When you and your friends come flyin' in at
first-floor windows like pidgins, Mr. Ventimore, you must expect _some_
notice to be took. [_RAPKIN makes a movement to the left as though
fascinated by FAKRASH, who stands impassively by the window._] It's
giving my 'ouse a bad name, and, as I've always kep' these apartments
respectable 'itherto, you'll be good enough to find others where they're
less partickler, for put up with it I won't!

HORACE.

All right, all right! You can go now--[_touching RAPKIN, who seems
spellbound with fear of FAKRASH_]--_both_ of you. I've some business to
settle with this--gentleman.

MRS. RAPKIN.

[_At door._] I'm going.

RAPKIN.

[_As he follows, still keeping his eyes on FAKRASH._] 'E's done it,
Marire--sold 'isself, _'e_ 'as! Ah! [_As he goes out with MRS. RAPKIN._] I
wouldn't be in _his_ shoes for somethink!

                         [_The moment they have gone HORACE
                         rushes to the door, opens it to
                         make sure that they are not
                         listening outside, then locks it,
                         and comes down to FAKRASH in a
                         white rage._

HORACE.

Now then, you--you unspeakable old swine! What do you _mean_ by bringing me
here like this?

FAKRASH.

[_Crossing to the right._] Verily I was tempted to drop thee in mid-air,
forgetting my purpose.

HORACE.

To introduce me to that precious bride of yours, eh? I've told you already
I'll have nothing to do with her.

FAKRASH.

Thou canst not escape _this_ bride--[_he suddenly produces a huge scimitar
and brandishes it_]--for her name is--Death!

HORACE.

Death! I say, you don't mean that! [_As FAKRASH advances on him with a
sweep of the scimitar, which HORACE ducks to avoid._] Yes, you do!
[_Backing below window._] By Gad! you're _dangerous_! Well, just tell me
_this_--what on earth have I done to deserve death?

FAKRASH.

I have brought thee hither--not to parley with thee, but to strike off thy
head in the very place of thy perjuries.

HORACE.

[_Trying to keep cool._] I see. You seem to have forgotten that this is the
very place where I let you out of that bottle.

FAKRASH.

[_Wrathfully._] Far better were it hadst thou suffered me to remain
therein!

HORACE.

I quite agree with you _there_. [_As FAKRASH makes another cut at him
with the scimitar._] Now, before you begin this execution, you'd better
listen to me. You've got hold of some quite imaginary grievance, and I can
tell you you'll look uncommonly foolish if you find after you've cut off my
head that there's nothing _in_ it--[_correcting himself, annoyed_]--in the
_grievance_, I mean!

FAKRASH.

O thou of plausible tongue, know that I have discovered thy treachery and
deceit! Didst thou not assure me that I was free to wander where I would,
since there was no longer any that had authority over the Jinn!

HORACE.

I don't _know_ of anybody that has. [_Half to himself._] Wish to Heaven I
did!

FAKRASH.

[_With raised scimitar._] Thou hast lied--for there _is_ such a potentate!
Since I visited thee this morn I have traversed many lands--and in _all_
have I seen the signs of his dominion and his wrath against us of the Jinn!

HORACE.

[_Blankly._] I've no _idea_ what you're driving at.

FAKRASH.

Again thou liest! [_As he is about to raise scimitar again HORACE keeps
FAKRASH'S right arm down._] From this very spot whereon we stand thou
canst behold such signs. [_Pointing with left hand through the open
windows._] Tell me, what are yonder strongholds of blackened brick?

HORACE.

[_Mystified._] Those? Oh, factories--works of sorts.

FAKRASH.

[_Pointing with scimitar._] And yonder strange and gigantic cylinders red
as blood?

HORACE.

[_Pushing FAKRASH'S hand away._] Gasometers.

FAKRASH.

Call them what thou wilt--they are prison-houses! All, all dungeons wherein
my wretched brethren labour in torment till the Day of Doom! [_Pacing
towards the right._] And every city throughout the world is filled with
such abominations! Therefore--[_turning on him again_]--before I slay thee,
I demand that thou tell me the name of the potentate by whom these
punishments are imposed.

HORACE.

[_Whose expression during the above speech shows that a way out is
beginning to suggest itself; to himself._] If I can--if only I _can_! [_As
FAKRASH again waves the scimitar._] All right! I'll try to tell you. [_He
seats himself on the edge of the table._] The--er--potentate has several
names, but his most popular title is Progress.

FAKRASH.

[_Salaaming._] On whom be peace!

HORACE.

By all means! Well, Progress has subdued the--er--unruly forces of Nature,
and compelled them to labour for humanity.

FAKRASH.

Then why didst thou conceal from me that I, too, am in danger of being
seized and condemned to toil?

HORACE.

Why? Because I thought you were such a respectable, harmless old foozle
that you'd never do anything to deserve it. [_Watching him._] But, of
course, you _will_ if you cut my head off. You'll have a much worse time
than ever you had in the bottle!

FAKRASH.

I know it. For no other reason have I recovered my stopper but to return
into my bottle once more.

HORACE.

[_Relieved._] I think you're wise. [_Getting down from the table._] And I
tell you what--if you'll only make it worth my while I'll seal you up
myself.

FAKRASH.

O thou of imperfect understanding! Ere I re-enter my bottle thy head will
already have been smitten from thy shoulders. [_Pointing scimitar across
table at HORACE._] How, then, couldst thou----?

HORACE.

[_Wincing._] You needn't go on--I quite see your point. Only--if _I_ don't
seal you up, who _will_?

FAKRASH.

[_Confidently._] I shall summon my Efreets to enclose me within the bottle
and transport it to the Sea of El-Karkar, where I shall be undisturbed.

HORACE.

[_Slightly dashed for the moment._] Oh! is _that_ the idea? [_Catching at a
straw._] But _Efreets_, eh? [_Watching him keenly._] Are you quite sure you
can _trust_ 'em? You know what Efreets _are_! [_With triumph, as FAKRASH
plucks at his beard uneasily._] Ah! I _thought_ you did!

FAKRASH.

Thinkest thou that they might betray me?

HORACE.

They'd _love_ it! And as soon as they got you safely corked up, what's to
prevent them from handing you over to Progress? Progress won't put up with
_your_ little ways--you can't go about beheading architects in _this_
country without paying for your fun. I expect you'd catch it devilish hot!

FAKRASH.

[_Falling on his knees in sudden terror._] Repentance, O Progress! I will
not return to the like conduct ever! [_He rises trembling._] Willingly will
I depart from the world as it now is--for it hath ceased to be a
pleasure-garden and become a place of desolation and horror!

HORACE.

[_Calmly._] Quite so; and I can help you to return from it. _I'm_ not an
Efreet, and if _I_ undertake to bottle you up and drop you into a deep part
of our river here, you can depend on me to _do_ it.

FAKRASH.

Undertake this, and in return I will grant thee thy life.

HORACE.

[_Disguising his satisfaction._] Not good enough! You must offer better
terms than _that_! What have _you_ done to deserve any help from me?

FAKRASH.

Have I not loaded thee with kindnesses?

HORACE.

Kindnesses! Till I met you I was happy and hopeful--now, I'm miserable and
desperate!

FAKRASH.

Is not life itself a sufficient boon?

HORACE.

What? When you've parted me for ever from the girl I love! Life is no boon
to me _now_. If _you_ don't put an end to me I shall do it myself--by
jumping over that balcony and breaking my neck!... I've a good mind to do
it now.

                         [_He makes a sudden movement
                         towards the balcony as though to
                         carry out his threat._

FAKRASH.

[_Detaining him._] Hold! I entreat thee! Do not abandon me thus, and all
that I have done I will undo!

                         [_As he speaks he throws away the
                         scimitar, which, to HORACE'S
                         amazement, vanishes._

HORACE.

[_Going to the right with his back to the audience._] That's more like
_business_! But--_can_ you undo the mischief you've done?

FAKRASH.

With the greatest ease that can be! [_He stalks towards the window, extends
his right arm, and mutters some cryptic sentence, then turns complacently
to HORACE._] I have obliterated from the minds of thy betrothed and her
parents all memory of myself and the brass bottle, and of every incident
connected therewith.

HORACE.

By Jove! That's rather a neat way out--[_with sudden doubt_]--if you've
really _done_ all that!

FAKRASH.

May I be thy ransom if it be not accomplished!

HORACE.

Well,--I must take your word for it. But there's Mr. and Mrs.
Wackerbath,--can you make _them_ forget everything connected with
you--except that I'm to build them a house?

FAKRASH.

[_Going to the window and repeating the incantation, then returning to the
centre of the room._] All else hath utterly passed from their recollection.

HORACE.

Splendid! Do the thing well while you're about it--better throw in their
coachman--oh, and the couple you saw here just now,--the Rapkins.

FAKRASH.

[_Repeats the incantation, facing the door._] It is done. They remember
naught of that they have seen. And now ask no more of me, but perform thy
part and bring hither my bottle.

HORACE.

[_Going to door down on the right._] Right! I'll go and get it out of my
bedroom.

                         [_He goes out._

FAKRASH.

[_Pacing up and down in suspense and terror._] Haste! Haste! For until I am
in my bottle once more every instant is an eternity!

HORACE.

[_Returning with the bottle, which he sets down on the floor in front of
the mantelpiece._] Here's your bottle! Got the stopper?

FAKRASH.

[_After some fumbling in his robes, finds the metal cap and gives it to
HORACE._] It is here. Now swear to me by the beard of Progress that thou
wilt drop me into deep waters, even as thou hast promised!

HORACE.

I swear it--by the beard of Progress--on whom be peace!... You step in,
sir, and leave the rest to me.

FAKRASH.

[_As he raises his arms and moves towards the fireplace._] To escape into a
bottle is pleasant!

HORACE.

Delightful!

FAKRASH.

[_Who is now behind the bottle, with his arms extended in supplication and
his back to the audience._] Towbah yah nebbi ullah Anna lah amill Kathalik
ibadan! Wullah hi!

                         [_With the last words he disappears
                         through the neck of the bottle._

HORACE.

[_Standing by the bottle with the cap._] Tucked yourself in comfortably?
Say _when_.

                         [_There is a knock at the door
                         leading to landing._

FAKRASH'S VOICE.

[_From interior of bottle._] I am betrayed! The constables of Progress are
without! Let me forth that I may slay them and secure safety!

HORACE.

[_Promptly clapping on the cap and screwing it tightly._] You're safer
where you _are_, old cocky! Good-bye! [_Wipes his forehead._] Phew! Near
thing that! [_The knock is repeated._] All right! Wait a bit! I'm busy!

                         [_He takes the bottle into his
                         bedroom._

RAPKIN'S VOICE.

[_Outside door._] All right, sir! [_HORACE returns, goes to door at back,
and unlocks it; to RAPKIN, who is seen with a telegram._] What is it?

RAPKIN.

[_Entering._] Reply telegram, sir. [_Handing it to HORACE._] Boy's waiting.

HORACE.

[_Reading the telegram._] "Can you dine with wife and self, Savoy Hotel,
8.15 to-night? Quite small party. Could discuss plans new house. Ask for
'Pinafore' Room.--Wackerbath." Good! _Wackerbath's_ all right, anyhow! [_He
pulls a chair to the table and sits down to fill up the reply form. As he
does so his face suddenly clouds._] The _Savoy_, though! Pringle's dining
there to-night.... Good Lord! _I forgot all about Pringle!_ I wonder if
Fakrash has made _him_ forget? If he _didn't_, by George! there'll be a
pretty kettle of fish!

RAPKIN.

[_Thinking he is being addressed._] Beg pardon, sir?

HORACE.

Nothing--I wasn't speaking to _you_. [_Finishes writing the form and hands
it to RAPKIN._] Can you read it?

RAPKIN.

[_Reading._] "Delighted. Savoy, 8.15 to-night.--Ventimore." Excuse me, sir,
but _when_ is it you're expecting friends to dinner 'ere?

HORACE.

[_At a loss for the moment._] Er--_when_? I--I'm not sure. [_As he crosses
to his bedroom._] Oh, just tell Mrs. Rapkin I should like to see her.

                         [_He goes into bedroom._

RAPKIN.

[_Looking round, as MRS. RAPKIN enters from landing._] Mr. Ventimore was
just _asking_ for you, Marire.

MRS. RAPKIN.

[_Surprised._] Was he? I didn't know he'd come in.

                         [_She crosses to the bookcase,
                         places a newspaper on the shelf on
                         left of fireplace, then goes to the
                         windows and closes them._

RAPKIN.

Nor yet me--but he 'ave.

                         [_He goes out, leaving door open._

HORACE.

[_Coming from bedroom, carrying a bulky and apparently heavy kit-bag._] I
only wanted to tell you that I sha'n't be in to dinner to-night, Mrs.
Rapkin.

                         [_He sets the bag down on the
                         table._

MRS. RAPKIN.

Goin' out of town, sir?

HORACE.

No. Why? [_MRS. RAPKIN indicates the bag._] Oh, this kit-bag? I'm lending
it--to a friend of mine. Just going to see him off--[_taking up the bag
again and going to the door_]--for a long holiday. I shall come in to
dress. [_To himself._] Fool I was to forget Pringle!

                         [_As HORACE goes out the stage is
                         in darkness for an interval of a
                         minute or two, after which the
                         curtain rises on the last scene._


SCENE II

                         _The "Pinafore" private room at the
                         Savoy Hotel._

                         _At the back is a wide arch, beyond
                         which is a glazed balcony, with a
                         view over the tops of the
                         Embankment trees of the river and
                         the Surrey bank, with the Shot
                         Towers, &c., and the ends of
                         Waterloo Bridge on the extreme
                         left, and of Charing Cross Railway
                         Bridge on the extreme right._

                         _At the rising of the curtain this
                         view is seen in a warm sunset
                         glow._

                         _Above the arch there is a door on
                         the right, leading to the corridor
                         and restaurant; another on the
                         left, by which the waiters come in
                         and go out._

                         _Below the arch, down on the right,
                         is a fireplace; above the
                         fireplace, at right angles to it, a
                         couch, and behind the couch a long
                         flower-stand filled with flowers
                         and palms._

                         _Up the stage, centre, is a round
                         table, laid for six persons, and
                         elaborately decorated with pink
                         Gloire de France roses, under
                         rose-shaded lamp. Six chairs are
                         placed round it, and a seventh
                         chair is in the glazed balcony._

                         _Below the arch, on the left, is
                         another door, and down on left, at
                         a slight angle, a sofa, with
                         occasional tables and chairs.
                         Against the wall on left is a
                         glazed cabinet._

                         _The furniture and decorations are
                         copied from the original room in
                         the Savoy Hotel._

                         _As the curtain rises the SECOND
                         WAITER is placing the napkins
                         under the supervision of the FIRST
                         WAITER. _Waltz music is heard from
                         the restaurant on the right._

PRINGLE'S VOICE.

[_Outside door above arch, to unseen attendant._] "Entrance from the
Embankment as well," eh? Well, why didn't you _tell_ me that? My friends
have probably come in _that_ way while I was waiting at the _other_ end!
This is the "Pinafore" Room, isn't it? Very _well_, then--I expect I shall
find them in here. [_He enters, and looks round the room._] No. They don't
seem to have arrived yet.

FIRST WAITER.

[_By the table._] Not yet. They vill be here soon.

                         [_The SECOND WAITER goes out._

PRINGLE.

Eh? Well, I _hope_ so, I'm sure. They're behind their time as it is.
[_Inspecting table._] H'm! Not bad. But you needn't have had all those
roses--half a dozen would have been _quite_ sufficient. And--hang it all!
You've laid for _six_ people!

FIRST WAITER.

Pardon, m'sieu--we receive orders to lay for six person.

PRINGLE.

Nonsense! Your orders were to lay for _four_. A "petty party carry"--if you
know what _that_ means.

FIRST WAITER.

Parfaitement--but I think perhaps there is some mistake. This is the
"Pinafore" Room.

PRINGLE.

I know _that_--and the manager told me this morning on the telephone that
he's reserved the "Pinafore" Room for _me_. I'm only expecting _three_
guests, though; so just clear away those two extra places, and look sharp
about it.

                         [_The SECOND WAITER returns._

FIRST WAITER.

But excuse--the manager he say to me----

PRINGLE.

Confound you, do you suppose _I_ don't know how many people I've asked?
Have the table altered at once, or I shall send for the manager.

FIRST WAITER.

[_With a shrug._] Bien, m'sieu! You tell me there is a mistake--that is
enoff--I alter it.

                         [_He gives orders in an undertone
                         to the SECOND WAITER, who removes
                         two of the chairs to the balcony,
                         and takes off the corresponding
                         plates, glasses, &c._

PRINGLE.

[_As he comes down to the left._] I sha'n't _pay_ for more than four--mind
that! [_To himself, as he sits on the couch down left._] It's going to cost
me quite enough without that, _I_ can see! [_The Westminster Clock-tower is
heard striking the quarter; PRINGLE takes out his watch._] Eight-fifteen!
And I asked them for eight sharp. Very singular--the Professor's generally
so punctual! [_He rises eagerly as the door on right above arch opens._]
Ah, _here_ they are! [_HORACE enters and comes down; PRINGLE draws
himself up stiffly._] What, _you_, Ventimore! I scarcely expected to see
you here to-night.

                         [_The two WAITERS go out; the
                         waltz music stops._

HORACE.

[_Coming down to couch by fireplace._] Didn't you? I rather thought I might
run across _you_, somehow.

PRINGLE.

[_Austerely._] Considering that, when I _last_ saw you, you were flying
over the chimney-pots with an Oriental enchanter you had released from a
brass bottle----

HORACE.

[_Seating himself on sofa by fireplace._] Ah! So you _haven't_ forgotten!

PRINGLE.

It's hardly a thing one would be _likely_ to forget in a hurry. You were
being conducted to meet your bride, I think--are you beginning your
honeymoon in this hotel?

HORACE.

If you want to know, I'm here because I'm dining with the Wackerbaths.

PRINGLE.

What!--the client I met in your office this morning? Then he must have an
uncommonly short memory, that's all! But, whether you're dining with him or
not, that's no reason why you should have forced your way in _here_! I
suppose you're hoping that, if you can only see Miss Futvoye----

HORACE.

You're wrong, Pringle, quite wrong. I don't in the least expect to see Miss
Futvoye here to-night. And I very much doubt if _you_ will, either.

PRINGLE.

_Do_ you? You wouldn't if you'd heard her parting words to me this
afternoon. I said to her: "You won't forget?" Her answer was: "As if I
_could_--after all you've done for us!"

HORACE.

It--it's just possible that _all_ of them may have forgotten an engagement
which was made under--rather peculiar circumstances.

PRINGLE.

That's just why they're not likely to forget it. [_Going to fireplace, and
standing with his back to it._] They may be here at any moment!

HORACE.

They _may_--but, if I were you, I shouldn't count on them.

PRINGLE.

I _do_ count on them--and I consider your intrusion here in the worst
possible taste. I think you might have the decency to go!

HORACE.

[_Rising._] I tell you I'm here because this is the room which Wackerbath
asked me to come to.

PRINGLE.

It won't _do_, you know! If it was, he'd be here to receive you--which he
isn't.

                         [_As he speaks MR. WACKERBATH
                         bustles in from the door below the
                         arch on the left. HORACE goes
                         forward to meet him, PRINGLE
                         remaining by the fireplace in
                         wrathful astonishment._

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Shaking hands effusively with HORACE._] My _dear_ Mr. Ventimore, I really
don't know _how_ to apologise, neither the wife nor myself down to receive
you! I do hope you haven't been waiting long?

HORACE.

Only just come, I assure you.

MR. WACKERBATH.

We have a private room, you see--the wife prefers it to the--ah--publicity
of the restaurant. [_The FIRST and SECOND WAITERS enter from the door
on the left above the arch._] If you'll excuse me for a moment, I'll just
see how they've arranged the table. [_He bustles up to the table._] Why,
hullo! What's _this_? Only four places! I ordered dinner for _six_!

FIRST WAITER.

I regret--but it is not my fault. I lay for six, and a gentleman assure me
I am wrong, it is for four person only.

MR. WACKERBATH.

Don't _talk_ about it--put it right at once. I want a chair in here--and
another here.

                         [_He remains by the table, while
                         the WAITERS replace chairs and
                         bring back plates, glasses, &c._

PRINGLE.

[_To HORACE._] Ventimore! [_HORACE crosses to fireplace._] Will you kindly
explain to your host that that's _my_ dinner-table he's taking these
liberties with?

HORACE.

I know nothing about it. You had better settle that with him yourself.

PRINGLE.

I intend to--presently.

                         [_He stands, nursing his grievance,
                         as MR. WACKERBATH comes down to
                         HORACE._

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_To HORACE._] Those fellows seem to have mistaken their orders. Lucky I
noticed it in time! [_MRS. WACKERBATH enters from the door below arch._]
Ah, here _is_ my wife! Eliza, my dear--[_presenting HORACE_]--our friend,
Mr. Ventimore.

MRS. WACKERBATH.

[_To HORACE, cordially, but with a nervous, fluttered manner._] Oh, how
do you _do_? I _am_ so pleased to meet you! I've been hearing so _much_
about you from my husband. [_She goes to sofa on the left, and sits._] It
will be _so_ delightful to have a home at last that is _really_ fit to live
in!

                         [_PRINGLE, hearing this, makes a
                         contemptuous ejaculation to
                         himself._

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_To HORACE._] I ought to tell you this is quite an _impromptu_ little
affair. The wife only came up this morning for a day or two in town, and
asked some old friends of ours to dinner. So I wired to you on the
off-chance of your being free to come and meet them.

MRS. WACKERBATH.

So kind of you to come on such short notice!

HORACE.

I was delighted.

MRS. WACKERBATH.

[_Suddenly realising PRINGLE'S presence; to MR. WACKERBATH._] But,
Samuel, aren't you forgetting to introduce your other guest?

HORACE.

[_To himself foreseeing trouble._] Good Lord!

                         [_He goes up round the table to the
                         glazed balcony._

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Surprised, to MRS. WACKERBATH._] My _other_----? I was not aware----[_He
turns and sees PRINGLE, and advances to him._] You must excuse me, sir,
but I didn't see you before. I--ah--haven't the pleasure of knowing your
name--at present.

PRINGLE.

[_Coming forward._] My name is Pringle. _Yours_--[_meaningly_]--is quite
well known to me, Mr. Wackerbath.

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Gratified, but not surprised._] Ha! Very good of you to say so. And I
needn't tell you that any friend of Mr. Ventimore's----

PRINGLE.

[_Tartly._] I am not here in that capacity, sir. I am here because I also
am expecting friends to dine with me. And I was certainly given to
understand that this room had been reserved for my _own_ party.

MRS. WACKERBATH.

[_In some distress._] Oh, dear! I _am_ so sorry. I'm afraid _I'm_ to blame.
I asked the manager for this room--he told me it was engaged, but he would
arrange for you to have the "Patience" Room instead.

PRINGLE.

I can only assure you that this is the first _I've_ heard of it, or
else----

MRS. WACKERBATH.

[_Rising._] I _quite_ thought it would be explained to you, and I do so
_hope_ the change hasn't put you to any great inconvenience?

PRINGLE.

[_Sourly._] I'm afraid, Mrs. Wackerbath, it has put my guests to
considerable inconvenience, as they have presumably been shown into the
"Patience" Room, and been waiting there for nearly half an hour--if they
haven't already left! So--[_making a movement towards the arch_]--if you
will kindly permit me----

HORACE.

[_Coming down, and intercepting him; in an under>tone._] You won't find
them there, Pringle. They haven't come. They _won't_ come now, I assure
you.

PROFESSOR'S VOICE.

[_On left, outside door above arch._] This must be the room, Sophia--I
observe "Pinafore" on the door.

PRINGLE.

[_In a triumphant undertone to HORACE, who is completely staggered._]
There! Who's right _now_? I _knew_ they wouldn't forget!

                         [_He advances to the end of the
                         sofa by fireplace to receive the
                         FUTVOYES, while HORACE effaces
                         himself so far as possible in the
                         corner behind the flower-stand._

HORACE.

[_To himself in despair._] That old _fool_ of a Fakrash! He's muffed it
again!

                         [_The FUTVOYES enter; MRS.
                         FUTVOYE first, then SYLVIA, and
                         the PROFESSOR bringing up the
                         rear._

PRINGLE.

[_Cheerily, to MRS. FUTVOYE._] Aha!

                         [_His welcome dies away as they all
                         pass on without seeming to notice
                         any one but MR. and MRS.
                         WACKERBATH, who advance from the
                         left to receive them. PRINGLE
                         retreats slightly, and looks on in
                         speechless indignation._

MR. WACKERBATH.

My dear Mrs. Futvoye, delighted to see you--delighted! [_As MRS. FUTVOYE
greets MRS. WACKERBATH, to SYLVIA._] And this smart young woman is my
little god-daughter, eh? How d'ye do, my dear? [_To PROFESSOR._] And how is
our excellent Professor?

                         [_They converse in by-play; MRS.
                         WACKERBATH takes MRS. FUTVOYE to
                         sofa on left; SYLVIA goes up
                         towards arch to a place from which
                         she can see neither HORACE nor
                         PRINGLE._

MRS. WACKERBATH.

[_To MRS. FUTVOYE, as they seat themselves._] Dearest

Sophia! We meet so seldom now!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

We do indeed, Eliza!

                         [_They talk in undertones._

PRINGLE.

[_By fireplace, to himself, with the deepest disgust._] First my room, and
then my guests!

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Turning to MRS. FUTVOYE, as the PROFESSOR joins SYLVIA._] I want to
introduce a friend of ours--very rising young fellow----[_He looks round
for HORACE, and discovers him by the flower stand._] Ah, _there_ he
is--Mr. Ventimore. [_HORACE pulls himself together and comes forward, not
in the least knowing what reception to expect._] Mr. Ventimore, Mrs.
Anthony Futvoye.

                         [_HORACE bows in considerable
                         anxiety._

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Why, my dear Mr. Wackerbath, we know one another quite well already! [_To
HORACE, laughing._] Don't we, Horace?

                         [_HORACE takes her hand with
                         obvious relief._

SYLVIA.

[_Coming down smiling, between MR. WACKERBATH and HORACE._] How are you,
Horace?

                         [_HORACE shakes hands warmly with
                         her._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Approaching as MR. WACKERBATH turns to his wife and MRS. FUTVOYE, to
HORACE not over cordially, but without asperity._] How are you, Ventimore?
Curious we should meet like this! We were talking about you on our way
here--that little dinner of yours, you know.

HORACE.

[_With reviving anxiety._] That--little dinner, Professor?

SYLVIA.

Yes, Horace, we _couldn't_ remember which night it is we're dining with
you--is it to-morrow, or the night after?

HORACE.

[_Relieved again._] Oh, it's to-morrow--to-morrow!

                         [_PRINGLE has heard all this with a
                         contempt and disgust that are
                         indicated by his expression._

SYLVIA.

Then mother _was_ right! I'd fearful misgivings that it was for _last_
night, and that somehow we'd forgotten all about it. Wouldn't that have
been too dreadful of us?

HORACE.

Oh, I--I don't know. I mean--I could have forgiven even _that_.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Ah, now I think of it--[_interposing between SYLVIA and HORACE, and
drawing him apart, while SYLVIA goes up towards the table_]--did you find
time to attend that sale for me yesterday?

HORACE.

[_Blankly._] Oh, yes. I _attended_ it.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

We called at your rooms yesterday afternoon, but you weren't in, so we
didn't wait for you. Now tell me--[_anxiously_]--did you get any of those
lots for me, or didn't you?

HORACE.

Well, no. I had the most rotten luck.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_With relief._] It's just as well you didn't--just as well. I doubt now
whether I could afford the money. I find I shall be put to considerable
expense--for repairs to my study.

                         [_He turns to MR. WACKERBATH, who
                         is on his right. SYLVIA comes
                         down, and PRINGLE advances to
                         greet her, but, finding she
                         evidently sees no one but HORACE,
                         he goes up towards the balcony
                         fuming with rage._

SYLVIA.

[_To HORACE._] Come and sit down somewhere, and tell me everything you've
been doing.

                         [_HORACE takes her to the sofa by
                         the fireplace, where they sit down
                         and talk in dumb show, while
                         PRINGLE is now hanging about
                         undecidedly near the flower-stand,
                         waiting his opportunity for
                         addressing SYLVIA, and furiously
                         jealous at finding her still too
                         absorbed to notice him_; MRS.
                         FUTVOYE and MRS. WACKERBATH are
                         talking confidentially on the sofa
                         on the left side of the room, and
                         the PROFESSOR and MR. WACKERBATH
                         are standing in the centre._

MR. WACKERBATH.

So you and my young friend Ventimore are already acquainted, eh, Professor?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Why, yes. In fact, he's supposed to be engaged to Sylvia. But, between
ourselves, I should feel more satisfied if there was any prospect of his
getting work.

MR. WACKERBATH.

My dear Futvoye, you needn't be uneasy about _that_! Why, this house he's
building for _me_ will find him work enough. He's an able young chap, and I
shouldn't be surprised if he gave me a perfect palace!

PRINGLE.

[_Who is near enough to hear this, comes down._] What, _another_ palace,
Mr. Wackerbath?

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_In some astonishment._] Eh? Why, bless my soul, sir, I thought you'd gone
to the "Patience" Room long ago!

PRINGLE.

[_Drily._] I found it wasn't necessary. How are you, Professor? [_With the
air of a host._] Delighted to see you.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Shaking hands perfunctorily._] Oh, how are you, my boy, how are you?
[_Turning his shoulder on PRINGLE, and continuing to MR. WACKERBATH,
as they go up together towards the table, ignoring PRINGLE.] Wackerbath,
about this house of yours?--do I understand that Ventimore is----?

                         [_They talk in dumb show, and
                         during the next few speeches the
                         FIRST WAITER enters, and MR.
                         WACKERBATH gives him an order,
                         after which the WAITER goes out
                         and returns with two cocktails.
                         The PROFESSOR sits by the table
                         and MR. WACKERBATH stands as they
                         drink. PRINGLE meanwhile has
                         returned to the corner of the
                         flower-stand and is no longer able
                         to control his temper._

PRINGLE.

[_To SYLVIA, with elaborate sarcasm, as he offers his hand, which she
does not see at first._] Good evening, Miss Sylvia, it's really about time
that I reminded you of _my_ humble existence.

SYLVIA.

[_With slightly raised eyebrows, as she shakes hands._] Oh, how do you do,
Mr. Pringle? I didn't see you come in.

                         [_HORACE sits by in silence,
                         feeling powerless to stop PRINGLE
                         at present._

PRINGLE.

[_Unpleasantly._] No, you were so much engaged. [_In a tone of injury._]
And I must say I little expected when I last saw you at Cottesmore
Gardens--scarcely seven hours ago----!

SYLVIA.

[_Smiling, but surprised._] Seven _hours_! It is more like seven _weeks_!

PRINGLE.

[_Beaming fatuously._] Charming of you to put it in that way! I was almost
beginning to fear that you had forgotten--[_with meaning_]--our last
meeting.

SYLVIA.

[_Innocently._] In Vincent Square yesterday afternoon? Of course not. _I_
meant since you had been to see _us_. And that's _ages_ ago!

PRINGLE.

[_Blankly._] Ages ago!

SYLVIA.

[_Carelessly._] Oh, you said you'd been away, or working hard, or
something, didn't you? _I_ forgive you. And so _you_ are dining with Mr.
and Mrs. Wackerbath, too?

PRINGLE.

[_Stiffly._] With Mr. and Mrs.----! Pardon me, but I am under the
impression that _I_ am to have the honour of entertaining you.

SYLVIA.

[_Rising; HORACE rising as she does._] Entertaining _us_! Why, what
_could_ have made you think that?

PRINGLE.

[_In a low voice._] And you can throw me over like this! After all I've
done for you? Oh, _Sylvia_!

SYLVIA.

[_Coldly._] I don't understand you a bit this evening, Mr. Pringle. But
there may have been some mistake. I will go and ask mother about it.

                         [_She crosses to behind the sofa on
                         which MRS. FUTVOYE is seated, and
                         talks to her in dumb show, MRS.
                         FUTVOYE appearing surprised by
                         what she hears. Meanwhile._

PRINGLE.

[_In a savage undertone to HORACE._] This is _your_ work! I see how it
is--you've made 'em _all_ knuckle down, somehow!

HORACE.

[_Earnestly, in an undertone to him._] It isn't that, my dear fellow.
They've forgotten--utterly forgotten everything. And so will you if you're
a wise man.

PRINGLE.

They may pretend to forget if they like! But I'm hanged if _I_ do!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Who has risen, leaving SYLVIA to talk to MRS. WACKERBATH, now
advances to PRINGLE._] _What_ is this Sylvia tells me, Mr. Pringle? Surely
you haven't been expecting us to dine with _you_ to-night?

PRINGLE.

I not only _have_ been, I _am_, my dear lady.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Then my husband must have----[_Turning to the PROFESSOR, who is by the
table talking to MR. WACKERBATH._] Anthony! [_The PROFESSOR comes down._]
Have you accepted an invitation from Mr. Pringle for to-night without
telling me? How _could_ you be so forgetful?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

My memory has not begun to fail _yet_, Sophia. [_To PRINGLE._] My dear
Pringle, I can only say that I received no such invitation. We had _no_
engagement for this evening till Mrs. Wackerbath kindly rang my wife up
this afternoon.

                         [_He takes a chair on the left by
                         MRS. WACKERBATH, and talks to
                         her._

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Your invitation must have been lost in the post, Mr. Pringle.

PRINGLE.

Hardly, as it happened to be given--and accepted--by word of mouth, Mrs.
Futvoye. However, since you seem to have found a subsequent engagement more
attractive, I have, of course, no option but to release you.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

_Release_ us! But, my dear Mr. Pringle, when we've assured you----

PRINGLE.

[_Interrupting her with chilly magnanimity._] Pray say no more. I quite
understand the situation--_quite_.

                         [MRS. FUTVOYE rejoins SYLVIA,
                         while MR. WACKERBATH, who has
                         gradually drawn nearer, now comes
                         forward genially._

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_To PRINGLE._] I think, sir, we can find a simple way out of this little
difficulty. If you will waive the point of my being--ah--personally unknown
to you, and give my wife and myself the pleasure of joining our little
party--[_the others suppress their dismay_]--we shall _all_ be happy.

PRINGLE.

Well, Mr. Wackerbath, if you think it will contribute to the general
gaiety, I--I don't mind if I _do_ join your party.

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Astonished, and with a touch of hauteur._] H'm! That's very obliging of
you! [_Looking round._] Where are those waiter-fellows?

                         [_He goes up beyond the arch and
                         beckons; the FIRST and SECOND
                         WAITERS come in, and he explains
                         in dumb show that he wants another
                         cover laid. One waiter rearranges
                         the chairs, the other brings plate
                         and glasses. MR. WACKERBATH then
                         seems to find that the table is too
                         near the balcony, and orders it to
                         be moved down, which is done under
                         his instructions._

SYLVIA.

[_As MR. WACKERBATH goes up to find the waiters, to her mother, in an
undertone._] Mother, what is the matter with Mr. Pringle? He seems
quite--quite _odd_.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

I can't make him out at all, my dear. He seems to be offended with us--and
for no reason that _I_ can see.

SYLVIA.

Nor I.

                         [_They continue the conversation in
                         dumb show, while the PROFESSOR,
                         on a chair, is talking to MRS.
                         WACKERBATH on the sofa on the
                         left._

PRINGLE.

[_In an undertone to HORACE, as they stand by the fireplace on the
right._] I suppose you know _why_ I've accepted that fellow's hospitality?

HORACE.

Not in the least--but I hope you don't mean to abuse it.

PRINGLE.

I mean to show up the lot of you! I'm going to be the skeleton at your
feast.

HORACE.

"An agreeable rattle," eh?

PRINGLE.

It's too sickening! All of 'em grovelling and cringing to you because
they're in a blue funk of that old Fakrash! You've managed to get him under
control again!

HORACE.

[_With much earnestness._] Now, my dear fellow--I'll explain everything
when we're alone. But, for Heaven's sake, take my advice and keep quiet
_here_!

PRINGLE.

[_Roughly._] I'm not afraid of you, or your Jinnee either--he rather _took_
to me! And if the Futvoyes choose to drop me like this, I'm not going to
take it lying down--I can make _them_ look pretty foolish!

HORACE.

You'll be the only one to look foolish--upon my honour, you will!

PRINGLE.

We'll see about that! You can't shut _my_ mouth!

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_The WAITERS having gone out, now comes down and addresses MRS.
FUTVOYE._] They tell me we shall have to wait a few minutes longer--but
they'll be as quick as they can.

MRS. WACKERBATH.

Oh, Samuel, the Professor has just been telling me about such an
extraordinary affair that happened this morning--in his own study! Have you
heard?

                         [_HORACE starts; PRINGLE prepares
                         to assume the offensive._

MR. WACKERBATH.

Not a word--not a word. What was it, Futvoye? Nothing, I hope, of--ah--an
unpleasant nature!

PRINGLE.

[_Striking in before the PROFESSOR can reply._] "Unpleasant"? Oh, _dear_
no! [_Coming forward to centre._] _Quite_ an ordinary occurrence! Ha-ha!

                         [_General surprise._

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_With annoyance._] I don't know why Mr. Pringle should choose to answer
for my husband. [_To MR. WACKERBATH._] We considered it _most_ unpleasant.
In fact, we can only be thankful it was no worse!

PRINGLE.

But _are_ you thankful? I haven't noticed any signs of it, _so_ far!

HORACE.

[_In his ear._] Shut up, can't you?

MRS. FUTVOYE.

_Really_, Mr. Pringle! [_To MR. WACKERBATH._] I was _about_ to say--when
Mr. Pringle interrupted me--that my husband found, on going into his study
after lunch this afternoon, that it was completely wrecked.

MR. WACKERBATH.

Wrecked? You don't say so!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Everything--bookcases, all his ancient glass and pottery----

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

A valuable mummy!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Absolutely smashed to atoms!

MR. WACKERBATH.

Dear me! How unfortunate! [_To the PROFESSOR._] And have you any clue to
the--ah--culprit?

PRINGLE.

[_With a wild sardonic laugh._] Ho-ho! He's no _idea_ who the--ah--culprit
is. _Have_ you, Professor?

                         [_Renewed astonishment._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Glaring at PRINGLE._] I can only surmise. _My_ theory is that burglars
must have broken in during the night, and that the scoundrels, disgusted at
finding nothing of any value to _them_, revenged themselves by doing this
irreparable damage.

PRINGLE.

Bravo, Professor! Does you credit, that theory of yours! _Most_ ingenious!
_Must_ have been burglars, of course! With gout in all their four legs--eh,
Mrs. Futvoye?

                         [_MRS. FUTVOYE regards him with
                         puzzled displeasure._

HORACE.

[_In PRINGLE'S ear._] _Will_ you hold your confounded tongue!

MRS. WACKERBATH.

[_To the PROFESSOR._] The wretches! But what a mercy that you weren't
disturbed!

PRINGLE.

Oh, the Professor wasn't disturbed--not _he_! "Preserved perfect calm and
self-control from first to last"--_didn't_ you, Professor?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Acidly._] As I was sound asleep during the whole business, sir, I presume
I _did_.

PRINGLE.

Ha-ha! Sound asleep, eh? But you must have had a touch of nightmare when
_I_ saw you.

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

When you----! [_Rising and coming towards him._] How and when could _you_
possibly have seen me, Pringle?

PRINGLE.

Oh, in your study. When you were lashing out at everything--with your hind
legs.

                         [_General sensation; MRS.
                         WACKERBATH and MRS. FUTVOYE both
                         rise, and, with SYLVIA, come
                         somewhat nearer PRINGLE._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

With my hind legs!... D'you know, my dear Pringle, you're talking rather
wildly?

PRINGLE.

It won't do, Professor, it won't do! I was _there_, remember. And lucky for
you I _was_--or you'd be a wall-eyed mule at this very moment.
[_Exasperated by the FUTVOYES' apparent astonishment._] Oh, it may suit
you to forget it _now_--but you were all three--especially Sylvia--grateful
enough to me _then_!

                         [_Increased sensation._

MRS. FUTVOYE.

Grateful to you? May I ask what for?

PRINGLE.

I suppose you won't deny that I was the only one who could tackle
Ventimore's old Jinnee?

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_In a tone of hopeless bewilderment._] Horace! _Does_ he mean that
pleasant elderly landlady of yours?

PRINGLE.

As if you didn't _know_, Mrs. Futvoye! I mean the old demon, or whatever he
may be, that Ventimore let out of that brass bottle.

ALL THE OTHERS (EXCEPT HORACE).

[_Together._] Brass bottle! _What_ brass bottle? What _is_ he talking
about?

PRINGLE.

I'm talking about the bottle he bought for you at that auction yesterday,
Professor. You can surely remember _that_?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

I certainly _did_ ask him to attend a sale. [_Approaching HORACE._] But I
understood you to say just now, Ventimore, that you bought nothing for me?

HORACE.

That is so, Professor. As I told you, I was--unlucky.

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Regarding PRINGLE with dignified displeasure._] You seem to me, sir, to
be endeavouring to be--ah--facetious.

PRINGLE.

[_Turning on him._] No more facetious, Mr. Wackerbath, than _you_ were when
I saw you this morning in Ventimore's office.

MR. WACKERBATH.

I didn't _go_ to Mr. Ventimore's office. I entirely forgot the
appointment--an unusual thing for _me_.

PRINGLE.

Oh, no. You did an even _more_ unusual thing. You were _there_--running
about on all fours, and yelping like a dog!

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Hardly believing his own ears._] Running about on all fours! Yelping like
a dog! Me? _Me!_

PRINGLE.

Yes, _you_. The Jinnee made you do it, if you remember, because you
declined to live in that palace he built for you in a single night. And you
didn't seem to like the idea of having to cross Westminster Bridge on all
fours!

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_With dignity._] I'm afraid, sir, that when you accepted my invitation
just now, you overlooked the fact that you had been dining _already_.

PRINGLE.

I haven't dined since last night--in that Arabian hall of Ventimore's, with
black slaves to wait, and dancing-girls. Professor, _don't_ pretend you've
forgotten those dancing-girls!

                         [_Everybody speechless with
                         indignation and surprise, except
                         the PROFESSOR, who comes towards
                         him with concern._

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

[_Soothingly, to PRINGLE._] There, there--you mustn't get excited about it.
[_He turns, and takes MR. WACKERBATH aside._] It's not what _you_ think.
Poor fellow! _His_ only excess is overwork. [_Turning to PRINGLE again._]
Now, now, Pringle, my dear fellow, you're not--not quite yourself, you
know--not quite _yourself_! Take my advice and go quietly home, and ask
your doctor to come and have a look at you.

PRINGLE.

[_Staggered._] So--so you're trying to make out now that--that I'm _mad_,
are you?

PROFESSOR FUTVOYE.

Mad? No, no--only a little out of sorts. You've been working rather too
hard, you know, that's all! All you want is a thorough rest.

MR. WACKERBATH.

Yes, yes. A sea-voyage, now. Trip round the world. Set you up in no time!

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_Approaching PRINGLE._] _Do_ go round the world, Mr. Pringle. You'll come
back cured of all these fancies!

PRINGLE.

[_Reeling back a step or two._] Fancies!... Ventimore! [_HORACE goes to
him, while the others form a group on the left and discuss PRINGLE'S case
with pitying concern._] I've been a fool--I see that now. They're not
pretending--they really _have_ forgotten!

HORACE.

Completely. Fakrash hasn't foozled _that_--for a wonder! I ought to have
included _you_; but--well, one can't think of _everything_--I forgot. I can
only say I'm sorry.

PRINGLE.

But they all think I'm mad! [_He sinks on the sofa by fireplace._] _You_
know I'm not _that_! [_With sudden doubt._] _Am_ I?

HORACE.

[_Patting him on the shoulder._] Not a bit, my dear fellow,--you're as sane
as I am.

PRINGLE.

[_With relief._] I _knew_ I was! But _tell_ 'em so--tell 'em it's all true!

HORACE.

I can't. They'd only think _I_ was mad, too.

PRINGLE.

[_In despair._] But you _must_ get me out of this somehow,--or I shall be
ruined! Who'd employ a mad architect?

HORACE.

[_Reflecting._] I'll get you out of it, if I can. But I shall have to
stretch the truth a bit,--so mind you back up everything I say.

PRINGLE.

I will--I will! I'll say anything, do anything!

HORACE.

Then here goes! [_He turns to the others, and comes towards centre._] Oh,
er--Mrs. Wackerbath--[_the others break off their conversation and listen
to him_]--I've found out what's the matter with Mr. Pringle,--and I know
you'll all be glad to hear that it's nothing serious. [_Murmur of
sympathetic relief from the others._] It seems he's been spending the
afternoon with his dentist, and--[_turning to PRINGLE_]--was it two or
_three_ back teeth you had out, Pringle?

PRINGLE.

[_Sullenly._] One. Only _one_.

HORACE.

[_To the others._] Only _one_. But under an anæsthetic. [_To PRINGLE, as
before._] Nitrous oxide, Pringle, or ether?

PRINGLE.

I can't say--I didn't inquire.

HORACE.

[_To the others._] Naturally--he _wouldn't_ inquire. But--well, _you_ know
what ef--I mean, anæsthetics _are_!

ALL (EXCEPT PRINGLE).

To be sure! Yes, yes. Of course!

HORACE.

They give you the queerest dreams. And, just before, as it happens, Mr.
Pringle had been reading "The Arabian Nights." [_To PRINGLE._] You _did_
say "The Arabian Nights," didn't you?

PRINGLE.

"The Arabian Nights"--yes. I read it regularly.

HORACE.

[_To the others, airily._] Which probably accounts for his dreams. And, in
some exceptional cases, the Efreets--I mean, the _effects_--don't go off
altogether for hours after the operation. Mr. Pringle thinks he can't have
been thoroughly awake----

PRINGLE.

[_Rising._] But I am now--I am _now_!

HORACE.

Oh, he is _now_--quite serious and sensible, and generally himself again.

                         [_A general murmur of polite
                         satisfaction._

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Advancing towards PRINGLE._] I'm sure I'm very pleased to hear it, Mr.
Pringle! Especially as it permits us to hope that we may still have
the--ah--pleasure of your company.

                         [_The others echo this sentiment in
                         a somewhat half-hearted manner._

PRINGLE.

You're extremely kind--but I think perhaps I shall be better at home.

MRS. FUTVOYE.

[_In a motherly tone._] I'm _sure_ you will, dear Mr. Pringle. What _you_
ought to do is to go to bed and get a good night's sleep.

MR. WACKERBATH.

[_Obviously relieved._] Ah, well, I won't insist--I won't insist. Perhaps
you will give us some other evening?

PRINGLE.

[_With extreme stiffness._] I'm obliged to you--but I dine out very seldom.
Good-night. [_He crosses to MRS. FUTVOYE and shakes hands with her, and
bows to MR. and MRS. WACKERBATH, after which MR. WACKERBATH takes_
MRS. FUTVOYE up to the glazed balcony to see the river, which by this time
is in bright moonlight, the PROFESSOR, after having said good-night to
PRINGLE, following with MRS. WACKERBATH. PRINGLE then turns to SYLVIA,
who is standing on the extreme left._] Good-night, Miss Sylvia. May I
offer my congratulations? I can only hope that you may be as happy--as
happy as--as _possible_.

                         [_Faint waltz music is heard from
                         the restaurant._

SYLVIA.

[_Quietly._] Thanks so much, Mr. Pringle, I think I _shall_. [_Giving him
her hand._] Good-night.

                         [_She goes up and joins the group
                         in the glazed balcony._

PRINGLE.

Good-night. [_He turns to HORACE._] One moment, Ventimore!

HORACE.

Oh, I'm coming to the door with you, old fellow.

                         [_He is about to go up with him,
                         when PRINGLE detains him._

PRINGLE.

I only wanted to ask you this. [_Lowering his voice._] Where _is_ that
Jinnee of yours now?

HORACE.

[_Standing by the sofa by fireplace._] Well,--do you see that patch of
silver on the water just above the bridge--[_pointing to the left_]--where
they're all looking?

PRINGLE.

Yes, I see that. What _about_ it?

HORACE.

Only that, somewhere under that patch, old Fakrash is lying, snugly curled
up inside his bottle.

PRINGLE.

[_Incredulously._] What!

HORACE.

I happen to know, because I dropped it there myself this afternoon inside a
kit-bag.

PRINGLE.

Well, I must say I'm glad you've got rid of him. And--er--you can rely on
me to keep quiet about it for the future.

HORACE.

[_Drily._] My dear chap, I feel _sure_ I can.

PRINGLE.

[_Going up to the door on right above the arch._] Good-night.
[_Disconsolately._] I shall go and get something to eat at an "A.B.C."

HORACE.

[_Going up with him._] Good-night, old fellow. It's rough on you, but I did
my _best_!

PRINGLE.

[_Turning on him with resentment._] You needn't have told 'em I'd had
_three_ teeth out! Good-night.

                         [_He goes out, HORACE closing the
                         door after him. Waltz music from
                         restaurant on right. After he has
                         gone, MR. WACKERBATH and the
                         others turn from the river as the
                         SECOND WAITER enters and places a
                         slice of melon on each plate._

MR. WACKERBATH.

Oh, ready, eh? [_The FIRST WAITER enters and intimates that dinner is
served._] Then shall we sit down, Mrs. Futvoye? [_He goes to the chair at
the top of the table with his back to the balcony, and places MRS. FUTVOYE
on his right._] Professor--[_as MRS. WACKERBATH takes the chair at the
bottom of the table, facing the river_]--on my wife's left, please. Sylvia,
my dear, next to me. [_SYLVIA takes the chair on MR. WACKERBATH'S left;
HORACE still standing._] And you, Mr. Ventimore----[_Observing that there
are two places._] Stay, there's _something_ wrong. Oh, of course! [_To
the FIRST WAITER._] Take away that chair, it won't be wanted now--the other
gentleman has gone.

FIRST WAITER.

Gone! De gentleman vat give so moch trouble? He vill not come back?

MR. WACKERBATH.

Come back? [_To HORACE._] You don't think your friend is likely to do
_that_, eh, Mr. Ventimore?

SYLVIA.

Oh, I _hope_ not!

                         [_The others assent fervently._

HORACE.

[_Pausing in the act of taking the sixth chair._] It's all right. My
friend--[_with a glance at the bridge on the left_]--the gentleman who gave
so much trouble, is--[_with a slow smile of deep satisfaction_]--not in the
least likely to come back!

                         [_He sits down by SYLVIA as
                         another and a louder burst of waltz
                         music is heard from the restaurant
                         and the curtain falls._


THE END.

PRINTED BY
BALLANTYNE & COMPANY LTD
AT THE BALLANTYNE PRESS
TAVISTOCK STREET COVENT GARDEN
LONDON





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