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Title: Pirates - A comedy in one act
Author: Clements, Colin Campbell
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Pirates - A comedy in one act" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

    Transcriber's Note:

    Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as
    possible, including inconsistencies in spelling and hyphenation.

    Some changes of spelling and punctuation have been made. They are
    listed at the end of the text.

    Italic text has been marked with _underscores_.






 Amateurs may perform this play without payment
 of royalty. All other rights reserved.

 (Incorporated 1898)

 26 Southampton Street




     _The play takes place in MRS. WARREN'S little living room during
     the early Victorian period. At the left is a door leading to
     another part of the house. A door at the back opens into the
     entrance hall. As the curtain rises, MRS. WARREN, seated in a large
     chair, is talking to her maid, CLARA._

MRS. WARREN. Gossip is malicious, my dear girl, positively malicious.
Doesn't the Bible say--(_The knocker sounds._) There, isn't that the
door? (_CLARA starts to go_.) Oh, Clara, before you open the door, be
sure and dust off the table in the hall and----

     (_CLARA goes out. MRS. WARREN arranges her dress and the little
     lace cap on her head._)

CLARA. (_From the door_) It's Mrs. Lawty, ma'am.

MRS. WARREN. Oh, the dear soul! Have her come right in--right in,

     (_CLARA goes out. MRS. LAWTY enters._)

MRS. LAWTY. Good afternoon--good afternoon, Mrs. Warren.

MRS. WARREN. Good afternoon, my dear. Do sit down, Mrs. Lawty--do sit

MRS. LAWTY. Oh, thank you. I have just dropped in for a moment. I am on
my way to the meeting of the "Helping Hand Society," and as I had to
pass this way I just came in to see how you were. I hope I am not
interrupting any work you may be doing, my dear.

MRS. WARREN. Oh, dear, no. I was just giving my maid a little lecture
... on gossip.

MRS. LAWTY. Gossip?

MRS. WARREN. It is _so_ malicious.

MRS. LAWTY. Positively unladylike! One could almost compare a lady who
gossips to a ... to a pirate.

MRS. WARREN. A what, Mrs. Lawty?

MRS. LAWTY. A pirate. They are sort of wild thieves, you know, and steal
things from perfectly innocent people, Mrs. Warren. The South Sea
Islands are full of them ... pirates, I mean. Why, I read in our
missionary paper, just last week, that one poor man was overtaken by
pirates who took away his watch and, I hesitate to say it, his trousers!

MRS. WARREN. His trousers! Dreadful!

MRS. LAWTY. The rest of the story is too indelicate to repeat.

MRS. WARREN. Yes ... yes, some things are often better left unsaid.
(_Pause._) But one need never be ashamed to speak the truth. What is the
rest of the story, Mrs. Lawty?

MRS. LAWTY. The poor man was forced to come into port with a bad cold in
his head ... and in his pajamas!


MRS. LAWTY. And that is why I call a woman who gossips a pirate.

MRS. WARREN. Yes ... yes. Though one can hardly think of _any_ woman
unlawfully taking a poor gentleman's trousers.

MRS. LAWTY. Hardly. But to steal one's good name is to take one's cloak
of righteousness, so to speak. And, oh, my dear, few people can face the
world without it. The soul is so much more important than the body.

MRS. WARREN. One should keep _both_ properly clothed.

MRS. LAWTY. Yes ... though on the South Sea Islands the people wear
nothing but grass skirts.

MRS. WARREN. One could hardly do that in England.

MRS. LAWTY. Oh, but the people there, in the South Seas, are like little
children ... pure of mind. And so it is one of the very first rules of
the "Helping Hand Society" that no gossip shall pass our lips.

MRS. WARREN. Such a worthy organization. I am sure the ladies of
Northampton are doing a noble work.

MRS. LAWTY. Oh, yes, indeed, Mrs. Warren. Why, only last week we sent
off a large box of soap to the natives of East Africa and now we are
getting a box of napkins and tablecloths ready. We are doing such
splendid work for our less fortunate brothers and sisters in a far land.

MRS. WARREN. Brothers and sisters! One hardly feels that way toward
them, Mrs. Lawty. I am told they are quite black.

MRS. LAWTY. Nevertheless they are Gaud's creatures.

MRS. WARREN. My dear, I shall have Clara make you a hot cup of tea. It
will rest you. (_She calls_) Clara ... Clara!

MRS. LAWTY. Oh, no, thank you ... really. I mustn't stop. I always like
to get to the society meetings early ... otherwise one misses so much
that is interesting. (_She rises._)

     (_CLARA appears._)

MRS. WARREN. Never mind, Clara. (_CLARA starts to go._) Oh, Clara,

CLARA. Yes, ma'am.

MRS. WARREN. Clara, will you put the water on to boil? And make the tea
rather strong ... but not too strong ... just so.

CLARA. Yes, ma'am. (_She goes out._)

MRS. LAWTY. By the way, have you met the new doctor and his wife, Mrs.

MRS. WARREN. Yes, I have called on Mrs. Hunter.

MRS. LAWTY. (_She sits down again_) Oh, really? How interesting.

MRS. WARREN. But, of course, Betty knows both of them. I must call on
Mrs. Hunter again. But I get out so seldom now ... so seldom. I am so
afraid to walk on the new ... pavement, I believe they call it. Betty is
very fond of them both ... the Hunters, I mean.

MRS. LAWTY. Quite ... though Mrs. Romney told Mrs. Pickering who told me
that the Hunters did not get along well together. It seems she is a
Church of England woman while the doctor is the son of a Scotch
Presbyterian, so of course----

MRS. WARREN. Though I believe they have been married all of five or six

MRS. LAWTY. Oh, really, I did not know that. How interesting! I must
tell Mrs. Romney. But Mrs. Lawer told me that the doctor calls Mrs.
Hunter "Dearest" ... in public!

MRS. WARREN. Such poor taste.

MRS. LAWTY. I always suspect a man who is over-demonstrative ... in

MRS. WARREN. But of course one----

     (_BETTY comes running in, her arms full of daisies._)

BETTY. Mother dear---- Oh, good afternoon, Mrs. Lawty. See the wonderful
flowers Doctor Hunter just gave me.

MRS. WARREN. Doctor Hunter gave you those?

MRS. LAWTY. Doctor Hunter!

BETTY. Yes, his garden is full of them! Aren't they beauties?

MRS. WARREN. But you hardly know him well enough to----

BETTY. You see we are getting acquainted. He was on his way to see Mrs.
Hallway and----

MRS. LAWTY. Is she ill again?

BETTY. Rheumatism ... not really serious.

MRS. LAWTY. Oh, really?

BETTY. And as the doctor was coming this way, he walked to the gate with
me ... we had a lovely chat. Doctor Hunter is such an interesting

MRS. LAWTY. (_Coldly_) Walking! Hasn't he a carriage?

BETTY. Oh, yes, but it is such a wonderful day for walking.

MRS. LAWTY. I daresay that all depends upon with whom one is walking.

MRS. WARREN. Betty, you don't really mean to tell me that you walked ...
walked down a public highway with a strange man!

BETTY. Why, Mother, he isn't a strange man. I know both Doctor and Mrs.

MRS. WARREN. But such a short acquaintance ... and to be walking with
him ... walking with him in broad daylight.

BETTY. What would you have me do? Walk with him after dark?


MRS. LAWTY. (_When she recovers her breath_) I--I really must be going,
Mrs. Warren. I must not be late to the meeting, you know. (_She
pauses._) And perhaps you would rather be alone with your daughter at
this time. (_She rises._) Good afternoon, Mrs. Warren. Good afternoon.

MRS. WARREN. Good afternoon, Mrs. Lawty.

BETTY. Good-bye.

     (_MRS. LAWTY goes out. MRS. WARREN waits until the front door slams
     before she speaks._)

MRS. WARREN. (_Much concerned_) Betty, how could you?

BETTY. But, Mother----

MRS. WARREN. Walking with a man, a man who is married and not on the
best terms with his wife, accepting flowers from him, a Presbyterian,
unchaperoned. Oh! It is so unbecoming ... so--so unladylike, not to say
indiscreet. Oh! Why, when I was a girl----

BETTY. I know. (_She goes close to her mother._) But things have changed
so since then, dear.

MRS. WARREN. Not in Northampton, thank heaven. Here, at least, we still
keep some of the old propriety. Oh, Betty, this bold indiscretion of
yours would have killed your poor, dear father!

BETTY. (_Turning away_) Perhaps that's what _did_ ... too much

MRS. WARREN. Did you say something, Betty?

BETTY. I am sorry, dear ... truly sorry if I have caused you any

MRS. WARREN. We must cultivate the doctor's wife at once. There must be
no room for gossip among the ladies of Northampton.

BETTY. Cultivate Mrs. Hunter? Oh, I would love to. She is a delightful
person. Don't you like her, Mother?

MRS. WARREN. She seems very nice, but, of course, one must be very
careful about strangers.

BETTY. She is very fond of outdoor life, and all that sort of thing. Oh,
she is a regular sport!

MRS. WARREN. Betty! Let me never hear such a remark from you again.
Sport! Am I to understand, then ... am I to understand that Mrs. Hunter
is one of those dreadful mannish sort of persons who---- (_The knocker
sounds._) Oh, dear me! I wonder who that can be?

BETTY. If you don't mind, Mother, I shall go up to my room. I want to do
a water-color sketch of these flowers while they are still fresh.

MRS. WARREN. Stop here a bit, Betty.

     (_CLARA enters from the hall._)

CLARA. It is Mrs. Romney, ma'am.

MRS. WARREN. Oh, do have her come right in, Clara ... and Clara, serve
the tea at once. (_CLARA goes out._) Mrs. Romney--oh, dear ... such a
bombastic sort of a person, so to speak.

BETTY. She was educated in London, you know.

MRS. WARREN. Yes, poor dear, she has so much to live down. It must be
dreadful to have been educated in London ... such a naughty place. Think
of the dreadful environment, my dear, London!

     (_MRS. ROMNEY enters._)

MRS. ROMNEY. Good afternoon, Mrs. Warren. How do you do, Betty, dear?

MRS. WARREN. Do sit down, Mrs. Romney.

MRS. ROMNEY. Did I hear you speaking of London as I came in, Mrs.

MRS. WARREN. London? Speaking of London? Were we speaking of London,
Betty? Yes, I believe I did say----

MRS. ROMNEY. Dear old London ... how I long for it!

MRS. WARREN. But my dear Mrs. Romney, London surely hasn't the ... the
refinement of Northampton.

MRS. ROMNEY. Northampton! Ah! Why, this place is as far from the world
as ... as the South Sea Islands!

MRS. WARREN. Mrs. Romney, how--how can you even think such a thing? Why,
in the South Sea Islands, I am told, the people wear nothing but straw
skirts ... and pirates, pirates take things--unmentionable things from
innocent travelers. One could not accuse the people of Northampton of
such things. Even our shop-keepers are gentlemen compared to those
dreadful people who live in the South Seas.

MRS. ROMNEY. The people of the South Sea Islands are at

MRS. WARREN. Perfect savages!

MRS. ROMNEY. But, my dear, _all_ our forefathers were savages, you know
... hitting each other over the head with clubs, hanging from palm trees
by their tails, and all that sort of thing.

MRS. WARREN. Oh, dear!

MRS. ROMNEY. And the longer I live in Northampton, my dear, the more I'm
convinced that it wasn't so very many generations ago, either.

MRS. WARREN. Oh ... oh ... oh! Betty, you may go! You will excuse the
dear child, I am sure. She has duties to perform which----

MRS. ROMNEY. Oh, yes, certainly.

BETTY. (_She rises and collects her flowers_) Good afternoon, Mrs.
Romney. Shall I see you at Mrs. Hunter's tea Thursday?

MRS. ROMNEY. Yes, dear, charmed.

BETTY. Good-bye.

     (_MRS. ROMNEY bows. BETTY goes out left. CLARA enters with the tea

MRS. WARREN. You will have a cup of tea, Mrs. Romney?

MRS. ROMNEY. Yes, thank you so much. So refreshing, nothing like tea for
nerves, is there, really? Half a cup ... I have just come from Mrs.
Hunter's. Both cream and sugar, yes, thank you so much. Such a charming
lady, Mrs. Hunter ... perfectly charming, my dear, perfectly charming.
So witty, so clever, so vivacious ... but dreadfully jealous.

MRS. WARREN. Jealous? Jealous of whom?

MRS. ROMNEY. She is very fond of her husband.

MRS. WARREN. (_Nervously_) Of whom ... of whom is she jealous?

MRS. ROMNEY. No one in particular, at present, I think.

MRS. WARREN. (_With a sigh of relief_) Oh----

MRS. ROMNEY. That is ... oh, is there any cause for her being jealous of
any particular person, Mrs. Warren?

MRS. WARREN. (_Choking on her tea_) Eh? No ... no ... not that I know

MRS. ROMNEY. How uninteresting. The doctor is such a charming gentleman.
Dear me, I do hope I will have another attack of indigestion, or
something of that sort soon. I am sure Doctor Hunter would be such a
splendid physician ... he is so good looking. (_She puts down her
teacup._) Dear me, I must be going. I am on my way to the meeting of the
"Helping Hand Society" and----

MRS. WARREN. Yes, Mrs. Lawty has just gone. She dropped in to see me for
a moment.

MRS. ROMNEY. Mrs. Lawty ... that one? I'm not speaking to her.

MRS. WARREN. Oh, dear, you ... you don't really mean you have
quarrelled? So unladylike.

MRS. ROMNEY. Ladylike ... ladylike? Ladylike be damned!

MRS. WARREN. (_Almost jumping out of her chair_) Mrs. Romney!

MRS. ROMNEY. Mrs. Warren, I beg your pardon. I forgot, for a moment, to
whom I was speaking.

MRS. WARREN. That was quite evident.

MRS. ROMNEY. Quite. But you see, Mrs. Lawty told Mrs. Pickering, who
told Mrs. Lawer, who told Lady Bloshire, whose maid told my maid, that
Mrs. Lawty said that I dyed my hair ... dyed my hair!

MRS. WARREN. Really?

MRS. ROMNEY. I've never dyed my hair. The impertinent gossip. The----

MRS. WARREN. (_Quickly_) Do have another cup of tea, Mrs. Romney. It is
so soothing.

MRS. ROMNEY. Oh, thank you. Just a little sugar, please, and no cream.

MRS. WARREN. (_Giving her the tea_) There, my dear.

MRS. ROMNEY. Lovely color, isn't it?

MRS. WARREN. Yes, isn't it? Mr. Warren, dear man, once told me that the
natives of India use tea for dyeing.


MRS. WARREN. No ... no ... cloth, I believe, cloth.

MRS. ROMNEY. Oh, how interesting!

MRS. WARREN. I believe they use the henna berry for dyeing hair in the
East. I am told it gives a beautiful soft auburn shade.

MRS. ROMNEY. How interesting. Does one procure it from one's pharmacist?

MRS. WARREN. Eh? Oh, yes, I believe so.

MRS. ROMNEY. I must try it on my hair--oh, dear, I mean----

MRS. WARREN. What did you say, Mrs. Romney?

MRS. ROMNEY. I said--I really must be going, my dear. One never seems to
realize how fast the time goes when one talks with you. Our little visit
has been most interesting ... and most instructive. I do want to stop in
for a moment and see Mrs. Hallway before I go to the meeting of the
"Helping Hand." Her rheumatism is worse again, poor dear.

MRS. WARREN. Yes, so I heard. I'm _so_ sorry.

MRS. ROMNEY. Oh, it is not at all serious, just a touch, I believe. Of
course she did call in Doctor Hunter. But I really believe it was simply
to get acquainted with him more than anything else. (_She starts._) Do
drop in and see me when you can. Good afternoon, Mrs. Warren. (_She goes

     (_CLARA enters._)

CLARA. Shall I take away the tea things, ma'am?

MRS. WARREN. No ... no, not just yet, Clara. Someone else may drop in,
you know, and perhaps Betty would like a cup of tea.

CLARA. Shall I call her, ma'am?

MRS. WARREN. Yes, I believe you had bet---- (_The knocker sounds._)
There, there, see who that is, Clara.

     (_CLARA goes into the hall. She returns immediately._)

CLARA. It's Mrs. Pickering, ma'am.

MRS. WARREN. Have her come right in, Clara.

CLARA. Shall I call Miss Betty, ma'am?

MRS. WARREN. Yes, do have her come down and have a cup of tea.

     (_CLARA goes out. MRS. PICKERING enters._)

MRS. PICKERING. How do you do, Mrs. Warren?

MRS. WARREN. Oh, good afternoon. Do sit down, Mrs. Pickering.

MRS. PICKERING. Oh ... my dear Mrs. Warren, I am so glad to see you
looking so well. I thought perhaps--of course there is much sickness in
Northampton now. (_She sits down._) Much sickness. (_Pause._) I just met
Mrs. Lawty and she told me that Mrs. Hallway is almost dead with
rheumatism ... almost dead. In fact, I think they hardly expect her to
live much longer. Of course, Mrs. Lawty didn't say so, but I implied as
much from the tone of her voice.

MRS. WARREN. I heard it was nothing really serious.

MRS. PICKERING. Oh, dear, yes ... very serious. I just had it from Mrs.
Lawty, who had it from ... from ... from a most reliable source.
Rheumatism is such a painful death, too. Oh, dear, poor soul ... poor
soul! (_MRS. WARREN hands her a cup of tea._) Thank you so much.

MRS. WARREN. I believe the new Doctor Hunter is attending her.

MRS. PICKERING. Yes, isn't it too bad? Mrs. Lawty tells me he is a
conversationalist, or something dreadful of that sort. But of course he
was educated in London ... and, my dear, London's standard of morals is
not the same as Northampton's. I was also told that he treats his wife
very badly in public, my dear, in public.

MRS. WARREN. You mean----

MRS. PICKERING. My dear Mrs. Warren, I am very sorry to tell you ... but
I feel that it is my duty, as wife of your pastor ... to tell you that
your daughter Betty has been seen very often,--that is, at least
once--walking with this Doctor Hunter. Also, my dear Mrs. Warren, she
accepts presents from him ... flowers and that sort of thing.

MRS. WARREN. Why, Betty hardly knows him!

MRS. PICKERING. That is just it. She hardly knows him ... nor do any of
us. Also remember he is a married man, my dear Mrs. Warren, and very
good looking ... and I really believe all good-looking people are bad,
thoroughly bad.

MRS. WARREN. I can't believe that Betty----

MRS. PICKERING. Naturally, my dear, naturally; you are her mother and
wish to shield her. But I felt that it was, as I said before, my duty to
tell you all I know of the facts of the whole matter.

MRS. WARREN. You quite alarm me, Mrs. Pickering.

MRS. PICKERING. Young girls, nowadays, are sometimes ... I might say,
sometimes indiscreet.


MRS. PICKERING. My dear, men are strange beings. Oh, the poor souls that
have been lured to their destruction by men. I am always reminded of
that beautiful passage in Genesis which says that woman was made after
man. And isn't it our dear Mr. Browning who says, "Second thoughts are
always best"? (_She puts down her teacup._) There, now, I really must
be going, Mrs. Warren. I am on my way to the meeting of the "Helping
Hand Society" and I really mustn't be too late. I hope I have not overly
alarmed you, Mrs. Warren, but as one of your oldest friends and as the
wife of your pastor I feel that I must always do my duty, no matter how
painful, when the way lies open before me. I sincerely hope you will not
feel that I have been ... been peremptory, so to speak, Mrs. Warren.

MRS. WARREN. No ... no. It is very kind of you to come to me in this sad
moment of trouble.

MRS. PICKERING. (_Rising_) I do hope you will be able to attend the
services to-morrow morning. Mr. Pickering has written a beautiful sermon
on the evils of gossip ... a beautiful sermon. I feel that it is the
best thing he has written in all the forty years of his righteous work.
I am sure it will thunder down the ages as his masterpiece. The
sentiment, the beautiful English, and even the punctuation ... are
really marvelous. Of course, Mr. Pickering and I both realize that there
is _very_ little gossip in Northampton ... but it is best to know sin
when one encounters it. Good afternoon, Mrs. Warren.

MRS. WARREN. (_Weakly_) Good afternoon.

     (_MRS. PICKERING goes out. CLARA enters._)

CLARA. I have brought the hot water, ma'am.

MRS. WARREN. Did you call Betty?

CLARA. I knocked at her door, ma'am ... I knocked very loudly, ma'am,
but got no answer.

MRS. WARREN. I am so distressed, Clara. See if she is in the garden.
Yes, she must be in the garden. (_CLARA starts._) And Clara, do tell her
to come in and see me at once. I want to talk to her. It is very
important ... oh, most important that I see her at once. Clara. (_The
knocker sounds._) See who that can be, Clara. Oh, more dreadful news, I
fear. (_CLARA goes into the hall. MRS. WARREN keeps mumbling to
herself:_) Most disconcerting ... most dreadfully disconcerting.

     (_CLARA enters._)

CLARA. It is Mrs. Lawer, ma'am.

MRS. WARREN. Eh? What? Who, did you say?

CLARA. Mrs. Lawer, ma'am.

MRS. WARREN. Mrs. Lawer? Oh, do have her come right in, Clara.

     (_CLARA goes out. MRS. LAWER enters._)

MRS. LAWER. Good afternoon, Mrs. Warren, good afternoon.
(_Breathlessly_) How ill, how worried you are looking, Mrs. Warren. Oh,
I am so sorry for you ... so very sorry. (_She sits down._) I have just
seen Mrs. Romney, who had just seen Mrs. Lawty, and had the dreadful
news from her. I am so sorry, Mrs. Warren.

MRS. WARREN. But what----

MRS. LAWER. But, of course, we who have known you for all these years
will be as silent as the tomb ... you can depend upon us, lean upon us,
call upon us. We shall comfort you and be your support in this hour of
greatest need.

MRS. WARREN. Why ... why, what do you mean?

MRS. LAWER. You really mean to say you do not know about Betty and
Doctor Hunter? Oh, dear!

MRS. WARREN. But Betty did nothing so very, very improper.

MRS. LAWER. Improper! Well, of course, we shall not blame poor Betty,
she is still very young, but we do blame that wicked Doctor Hunter.
Why, he is a married man, my dear ... and oldish. He should have known

MRS. WARREN. But Betty only walked with him.

MRS. LAWER. Only walked with him? I was told that he sends flowers to
Betty ... and flowers have secret meanings. To say the least, they are
sentimental. And Mrs. Lawty told Mrs. Romney that she heard Betty say
with her own lips that Doctor Hunter was a conversationalist. I believe
that means a person with very free ideas about personal matters ...
love, and that sort of thing.

MRS. WARREN. No, indeed ... it simply means that he is a very
interesting talker.

MRS. LAWER. That's just it, Mrs. Warren. What does he find so much to
talk about? I have never met him, but from things I have heard I believe
he must be a dreadful person. Most unwholesome, so to speak, to the
society--the very refined society of Northampton, where for the last
forty years we have all lived in such perfect peace and understanding.

MRS. WARREN. Oh, that this should have come upon me!

MRS. LAWER. Your misfortune is our misfortune, Mrs. Warren. We shall do
everything we can to keep this dreadful scandal----

MRS. WARREN. Scandal! Has it--has it gone as far as that?

MRS. LAWER. Let us say, indiscretion. As I was saying, we shall keep it
locked in our hearts, no word of it will ever reach foreign ears. Of
course I really know very little of the whole affair, but I felt that my
first duty was to come to you.

     (_CLARA enters._)

MRS. WARREN. Yes, Clara?

CLARA. I can't find her, ma'am.

MRS. WARREN. Oh, do find her, Clara. I must ... I must see her at once.
(_The knocker sounds._) Who can that be? Clara ... Clara, see who is at
the door.

     (_CLARA goes out._)

MRS. LAWER. Oh, Mrs. Warren, trust me in everything ... are you sure
Betty has always been what she seemed ... I mean----

MRS. WARREN. Mrs. Lawer, do you mean to say that Betty ... Betty Warren
... my daughter----

MRS. LAWER. My dear, we must face the truth ... we must prepare
ourselves for the worst ... we must----

     (_CLARA enters._)

CLARA. It's them "Helpin' Hand" ladies, if you please, ma'am. The lot of

MRS. WARREN. Bring them in, Clara ... have them come right in. Oh! Oh!

MRS. LAWER. You must be calm, my dear ... perfectly calm.

     (_MRS. LAWTY, MRS. PICKERING, and MRS. ROMNEY enter from the

MRS. WARREN. Oh, my dear ladies. Do ... do be seated.

     (_They all sit down quietly. There is a long pause. MRS. PICKERING
     moves restlessly._)

MRS. PICKERING. Mrs. Warren, we have adjourned our meeting of the
"Helping Hand" until next week in order to come to you ... the poor,
dear natives of the South Sea Islands will have to wait another week for
their napkins and tablecloths.

MRS. ROMNEY. A very short time ... considering they have not had such
necessary luxuries for several centuries.

MRS. LAWTY. Still, it was with some feeling of ... of regret that we
left our work of altruism unfinished, until next week.

MRS. PICKERING. But we feel that our first duty is at home. Yes, we all
felt that our duty was toward you, Mrs. Warren, at present.

MRS. WARREN. Ladies, I am overcome with your kindness.

MRS. PICKERING. We shall now consider ... consider ways and means of--of
helping you, Mrs. Warren, out of this unspeakable--or, let us say,
embarrassing situation.

MRS. LAWTY. Let us rather call it ... unfortunate situation.

MRS. ROMNEY. No matter what we call it ... let us get on----

MRS. PICKERING. The facts are these: Mrs. Lawty tells us she heard
Betty, with her own ears, openly say that the man under consideration,
Doctor Hunter, was a revolutionist and----

MRS. LAWTY. I said conversationalist. Though he probably is both.

MRS. ROMNEY. I think she must have meant conventionalist.

MRS. PICKERING. Nevertheless, one is as bad as the other. They all go
hand in hand.

MRS. WARREN. But I believe Betty only said he was a good
conversationalist and----

MRS. LAWTY. Anyway, she said he talked a lot about it.

MRS. PICKERING. I fear it must be one of those dreadful, sinful new
religions one hears so much of nowadays.


MRS. LAWTY. Also, we understand from very reliable sources that Mrs.
Hunter is never seen with her husband in public.

MRS. PICKERING. And that he calls her dreadful names.

MRS. LAWTY. Most suspicious!

MRS. ROMNEY. Oh, I don't believe a word of it.

MRS. LAWTY. Believe it or not, Mrs. Romney ... my information is most

MRS. WARREN. Is there any way, ladies, of overcoming this situation, I

MRS. ROMNEY. You might call on Mrs. Hunter to-morrow, Mrs. Warren.

MRS. LAWTY. Never!

MRS. LAWER. You might write her a very formal letter, very formal, my
dear, asking her to call.

MRS. PICKERING. Ask Mrs. Hunter to come here? I think she would never
set her foot in the house.

MRS. LAWER. At any rate, we must do something at once before----

MRS. LAWTY. Before they elope.

LADIES. (_They all begin to talk at once_) Before it is too late. Oh!
Ah! But do you really think--I never thought of that. Poor Mrs. Warren!
Do you suppose that Mrs. Hunter---- Oh! Etc.

MRS. WARREN. Ladies! Ladies! Do you really think Betty would----

MRS. LAWTY. One never knows what to think!

MRS. WARREN. Clara! Clara!

     (_CLARA enters from the hall. She holds a letter in her hand._)

CLARA. Yes, ma'am.

MRS. WARREN. Did you find Betty?

CLARA. I went to her room again, ma'am, but she did not seem to be in
and she is nowhere in the garden.

MRS. PICKERING. Not in her room! Not in the garden!

MRS. WARREN. You mean, Clara, she is nowhere to be found? Clara, was her
room disturbed ... I mean, did it look as if ... as if ... as if she
might have left hurriedly?

CLARA. Why, I didn't go in, ma'am. The door was locked.

MRS. WARREN. Locked?

LADIES. (_Looking at each other knowingly_) Locked!

CLARA. Here is a note, ma'am. It was just left by Doctor Hunter's boy,


MRS. ROMNEY. From Doctor Hunter!

MRS. LAWTY. Perhaps they _have_ eloped!

     (_The ladies jump to their feet._)

MRS. LAWER. And her room locked ... she must have gone through the


MRS. WARREN. (_Who has been too busy looking for her spectacles to
notice what has been going on about her_) Why, it is a letter for----
(_She looks up._) Ladies, what is the matter? What has happened? Why are
you all so excited?

MRS. LAWTY. Don't you understand? It is a letter from Doctor Hunter
saying they have eloped!

MRS. WARREN. (_Sinking deep into her chair_) Oh!

     (_BETTY appears in the door at left._)

BETTY. Ladies.

MRS. WARREN. (_Waving the letter weakly_) Betty! Betty! Betty!

BETTY. Mother!

MRS. WARREN. (_Looking up_) Betty ... Betty, is that you?


BETTY. Why are you all so--excited? Mother, what is it?

LADIES. Oh! (_They all sit down again._)

MRS. WARREN. Then you--then you---- Oh, where have you been?

BETTY. Why, just taking a little nap, Mother. Really, I didn't know the
ladies were here or I should have come right down.

MRS. WARREN. Then you haven't ... you haven't eloped?

BETTY. Why, Mother dear, what _do_ you mean?

MRS. WARREN. These ladies said--said----

     (_The ladies all begin to talk at once._)

MRS. LAWTY. You see, Betty dear, Mrs. Pickering told Mrs. Romney, who
told me that----

MRS. ROMNEY. I didn't! Nothing of the sort, Betty! It was you yourself,
Mrs. Lawty, who told Mrs. Pickering, who told----

MRS. PICKERING. Me? I had nothing at all to do with it ... nothing at
all. I only know that Mrs. Lawer said----

MRS. LAWER. I said? I said nothing. It was Mrs. Lawty, who told Mrs.
Pickering, who told Mrs. Romney--oh, dear me, I mean----

MRS. ROMNEY. It's a damn lie!

LADIES. (_They all gasp for breath; all begin to talk at once_) I heard
that Doctor Hunter--You told me that he treated his wife shamefully--No,
I said--Flowers, he sent her flowers every morning--You told Mrs.
Pickering that he was a conversationalist--She said a revolutionist--I
said--You said--And then she said--Anyway, I do not believe he is a safe
person. But very good looking, my dear. Etc.

BETTY. Oh, dear ... what is it all about?

MRS. ROMNEY. You, my dear, you.


MRS. ROMNEY. These ladies said that you----

MRS. LAWTY. These ladies!

LADIES. (_They all begin to talk at once again_) Why, it was she herself
who said--I had nothing to do with it at all--All I know about the whole
affair is that--The impertinence of her saying--I didn't say a word
about---- Etc.

MRS. WARREN. It was all of them ... every one of them. They said you
had--oh, dear, I just can't say it! They came here to tell me you had
eloped with ... with a married man ... with Doctor Hunter!

BETTY. Ladies! Mother! How dare you! (_She runs to her mother._) How
dare you say such a thing! (_To her mother_) My poor, dear Mother!

MRS. WARREN. And it is so untrue. Oh! Clara ... Clara! My smelling-salts
... my smelling-salts! I'm going to faint ... I'm going to faint ... I'm
going to faint!

MRS. ROMNEY. (_Running to MRS. WARREN_) Here, use mine, my dear, use

MRS. LAWTY. But the letter, Mrs. Warren.

MRS. WARREN. (_She has been fanning herself furiously with the letter.
She suddenly holds it up as if it might be a bomb ready to go off in her
hand._) The letter! Oh! Take it ... take it ... take it away!

BETTY. (_Taking the letter_) Why, it is a note from----

LADIES. (_On the very edges of their chairs_) Yes?

BETTY. From Mrs. Hunter.

LADIES. Oh. (_They watch BETTY curiously as she reads the note._)

BETTY. Mother, Mrs. Hunter asks if I might go for a carriage drive with
her this afternoon to gather wild flowers. She is going to stop for me.
She says the doctor told her how very fond I am of flowers.

MRS. WARREN. (_With a great sigh of relief_) Oh!

BETTY. May I go?

MRS. WARREN. Why, yes, dear, if you think----

MRS. ROMNEY. I fear these ladies were quite mistaken about----

MRS. LAWTY. These ladies, indeed! Do you not include yourself,--that is
to say, are you not one of us?

MRS. ROMNEY. God forbid!


     (_The knocker sounds._)

MRS. WARREN. Clara ... Clara!

     (_CLARA enters from the Left._)

CLARA. Did you call me, ma'am?

MRS. WARREN. Clara, there is someone at the door.

CLARA. Very well, ma'am. (_She goes out._)

MRS. PICKERING. I am sure Mrs. Warren will forgive our very grave
mistake. But it was for her sake that----

BETTY. How could you ever dream of worrying my dear mother by such
scandalous gossip? It is shameful!

MRS. WARREN. Betty ... Betty!

MRS. LAWTY. You, my dear, are still too young to understand.

     (_CLARA enters._)

MRS. LAWER. I fear we were overquick in our judgment.

MRS. WARREN. Yes, Clara?

CLARA. It is Mrs. Hunter, ma'am.

MRS. WARREN. Mrs. Hunter? Do have her come right in, Clara.

CLARA. Yes, ma'am. Shall I bring more tea, ma'am?

MRS. WARREN. Yes, Clara ... and cake, Clara.

CLARA. Yes, ma'am. (_She goes out._)

LADIES. Oh, shall we stay? Or shall we go? It might be embarrassing--I
am sure Mrs. Hunter----

MRS. ROMNEY. Such an interesting person ... Mrs. Hunter.

MRS. LAWTY. I am so glad she and her husband have come to live with us
here in Northampton.

MRS. PICKERING. We _must_ ask her to join the "Helping Hand Society."

MRS. LAWER. I am sure she will have so many good ideas.

MRS. WARREN. Ladies, I am so glad you are all here this afternoon ... so

     (_The ladies very properly arrange their dresses and bonnets as the
     curtain falls._)

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(The Above Are Subject to Royalty When Produced)

       *       *       *       *       *

 SAMUEL FRENCH, 28-30 West 38th Street, New York City
 New and Explicit Descriptive Catalogue Mailed Free on Request

    The following is a list of changes made to the original.
    The first line is the original line, the second the corrected one.

    dreadful, sinful new religions one hears so much of nowdays.
    dreadful, sinful new religions one hears so much of nowadays.

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