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´╗┐Title: Candida
Author: Shaw, Bernard, 1856-1950
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 "Candida" ***

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A fine October morning in the north east suburbs of London, a vast
district many miles away from the London of Mayfair and St. James's,
much less known there than the Paris of the Rue de Rivoli and the
Champs Elysees, and much less narrow, squalid, fetid and airless in its
slums; strong in comfortable, prosperous middle class life;
wide-streeted, myriad-populated; well-served with ugly iron urinals,
Radical clubs, tram lines, and a perpetual stream of yellow cars;
enjoying in its main thoroughfares the luxury of grass-grown "front
gardens," untrodden by the foot of man save as to the path from the
gate to the hall door; but blighted by an intolerable monotony of miles
and miles of graceless, characterless brick houses, black iron
railings, stony pavements, slaty roofs, and respectably ill dressed or
disreputably poorly dressed people, quite accustomed to the place, and
mostly plodding about somebody else's work, which they would not do if
they themselves could help it. The little energy and eagerness that
crop up show themselves in cockney cupidity and business "push." Even
the policemen and the chapels are not infrequent enough to break the
monotony. The sun is shining cheerfully; there is no fog; and though
the smoke effectually prevents anything, whether faces and hands or
bricks and mortar, from looking fresh and clean, it is not hanging
heavily enough to trouble a Londoner.

This desert of unattractiveness has its oasis. Near the outer end of
the Hackney Road is a park of 217 acres, fenced in, not by railings,
but by a wooden paling, and containing plenty of greensward, trees, a
lake for bathers, flower beds with the flowers arranged carefully in
patterns by the admired cockney art of carpet gardening and a sandpit,
imported from the seaside for the delight of the children, but speedily
deserted on its becoming a natural vermin preserve for all the petty
fauna of Kingsland, Hackney and Hoxton. A bandstand, an unfinished
forum for religious, anti-religious and political orators, cricket
pitches, a gymnasium, and an old fashioned stone kiosk are among its
attractions. Wherever the prospect is bounded by trees or rising green
grounds, it is a pleasant place. Where the ground stretches far to the
grey palings, with bricks and mortar, sky signs, crowded chimneys and
smoke beyond, the prospect makes it desolate and sordid.

The best view of Victoria Park is from the front window of St.
Dominic's Parsonage, from which not a single chimney is visible. The
parsonage is a semi-detached villa with a front garden and a porch.
Visitors go up the flight of steps to the porch: tradespeople and
members of the family go down by a door under the steps to the
basement, with a breakfast room, used for all meals, in front, and the
kitchen at the back. Upstairs, on the level of the hall door, is the
drawing-room, with its large plate glass window looking on the park. In
this room, the only sitting-room that can be spared from the children
and the family meals, the parson, the Reverend James Mavor Morell does
his work. He is sitting in a strong round backed revolving chair at the
right hand end of a long table, which stands across the window, so that
he can cheer himself with the view of the park at his elbow. At the
opposite end of the table, adjoining it, is a little table; only half
the width of the other, with a typewriter on it. His typist is sitting
at this machine, with her back to the window. The large table is
littered with pamphlets, journals, letters, nests of drawers, an office
diary, postage scales and the like. A spare chair for visitors having
business with the parson is in the middle, turned to his end. Within
reach of his hand is a stationery case, and a cabinet photograph in a
frame. Behind him the right hand wall, recessed above the fireplace, is
fitted with bookshelves, on which an adept eye can measure the parson's
divinity and casuistry by a complete set of Browning's poems and
Maurice's Theological Essays, and guess at his politics from a yellow
backed Progress and Poverty, Fabian Essays, a Dream of John Ball,
Marx's Capital, and half a dozen other literary landmarks in Socialism.
Opposite him on the left, near the typewriter, is the door. Further
down the room, opposite the fireplace, a bookcase stands on a cellaret,
with a sofa near it. There is a generous fire burning; and the hearth,
with a comfortable armchair and a japanned flower painted coal scuttle
at one side, a miniature chair for a boy or girl on the other, a nicely
varnished wooden mantelpiece, with neatly moulded shelves, tiny bits of
mirror let into the panels, and a travelling clock in a leather case
(the inevitable wedding present), and on the wall above a large
autotype of the chief figure in Titian's Virgin of the Assumption, is
very inviting. Altogether the room is the room of a good housekeeper,
vanquished, as far as the table is concerned, by an untidy man, but
elsewhere mistress of the situation. The furniture, in its ornamental
aspect, betrays the style of the advertised "drawing-room suite" of the
pushing suburban furniture dealer; but there is nothing useless or
pretentious in the room. The paper and panelling are dark, throwing the
big cheery window and the park outside into strong relief.

The Reverend James Mavor Morell is a Christian Socialist clergyman of
the Church of England, and an active member of the Guild of St. Matthew
and the Christian Social Union. A vigorous, genial, popular man of
forty, robust and goodlooking, full of energy, with pleasant, hearty,
considerate manners, and a sound, unaffected voice, which he uses with
the clean, athletic articulation of a practised orator, and with a wide
range and perfect command of expression. He is a first rate clergyman,
able to say what he likes to whom he likes, to lecture people without
setting himself up against them, to impose his authority on them
without humiliating them, and to interfere in their business without
impertinence. His well-spring of spiritual enthusiasm and sympathetic
emotion has never run dry for a moment: he still eats and sleeps
heartily enough to win the daily battle between exhaustion and
recuperation triumphantly. Withal, a great baby, pardonably vain of his
powers and unconsciously pleased with himself. He has a healthy
complexion, a good forehead, with the brows somewhat blunt, and the
eyes bright and eager, a mouth resolute, but not particularly well cut,
and a substantial nose, with the mobile, spreading nostrils of the
dramatic orator, but, like all his features, void of subtlety.

The typist, Miss Proserpine Garnett, is a brisk little woman of about
30, of the lower middle class, neatly but cheaply dressed in a black
merino skirt and a blouse, rather pert and quick of speech, and not
very civil in her manner, but sensitive and affectionate. She is
clattering away busily at her machine whilst Morell opens the last of
his morning's letters. He realizes its contents with a comic groan of

PROSERPINE. Another lecture?

MORELL. Yes. The Hoxton Freedom Group want me to address them on Sunday
morning (great emphasis on "Sunday," this being the unreasonable part
of the business). What are they?

PROSERPINE. Communist Anarchists, I think.

MORELL. Just like Anarchists not to know that they can't have a parson
on Sunday! Tell them to come to church if they want to hear me: it will
do them good. Say I can only come on Mondays and Thursdays. Have you
the diary there?

PROSERPINE (taking up the diary). Yes.

MORELL. Have I any lecture on for next Monday?

PROSERPINE (referring to diary). Tower Hamlets Radical Club.

MORELL. Well, Thursday then?

PROSERPINE. English Land Restoration League.

MORELL. What next?

PROSERPINE. Guild of St. Matthew on Monday. Independent Labor Party,
Greenwich Branch, on Thursday. Monday, Social-Democratic Federation,
Mile End Branch. Thursday, first Confirmation class-- (Impatiently).
Oh, I'd better tell them you can't come. They're only half a dozen
ignorant and conceited costermongers without five shillings between

MORELL (amused). Ah; but you see they're near relatives of mine, Miss

PROSERPINE (staring at him). Relatives of YOURS!

MORELL. Yes: we have the same father--in Heaven.

PROSERPINE (relieved). Oh, is that all?

MORELL (with a sadness which is a luxury to a man whose voice expresses
it so finely). Ah, you don't believe it. Everybody says it: nobody
believes it--nobody. (Briskly, getting back to business.) Well, well!
Come, Miss Proserpine, can't you find a date for the costers? What
about the 25th?: that was vacant the day before yesterday.

PROSERPINE (referring to diary). Engaged--the Fabian Society.

MORELL. Bother the Fabian Society! Is the 28th gone too?

PROSERPINE. City dinner. You're invited to dine with the Founder's

MORELL. That'll do; I'll go to the Hoxton Group of Freedom instead.
(She enters the engagement in silence, with implacable disparagement of
the Hoxton Anarchists in every line of her face. Morell bursts open the
cover of a copy of The Church Reformer, which has come by post, and
glances through Mr. Stewart Hendlam's leader and the Guild of St.
Matthew news. These proceedings are presently enlivened by the
appearance of Morell's curate, the Reverend Alexander Mill, a young
gentleman gathered by Morell from the nearest University settlement,
whither he had come from Oxford to give the east end of London the
benefit of his university training. He is a conceitedly well
intentioned, enthusiastic, immature person, with nothing positively
unbearable about him except a habit of speaking with his lips carefully
closed for half an inch from each corner, a finicking arthulation, and
a set of horribly corrupt vowels, notably ow for o, this being his
chief means of bringing Oxford refinement to bear on Hackney vulgarity.
Morell, whom he has won over by a doglike devotion, looks up
indulgently from The Church Reformer as he enters, and remarks) Well,
Lexy! Late again, as usual.

LEXY. I'm afraid so. I wish I could get up in the morning.

MORELL (exulting in his own energy). Ha! ha! (Whimsically.) Watch and
pray, Lexy: watch and pray.

LEXY. I know. (Rising wittily to the occasion.) But how can I watch and
pray when I am asleep? Isn't that so, Miss Prossy?

PROSERPINE (sharply). Miss Garnett, if you please.

LEXY. I beg your pardon--Miss Garnett.

PROSERPINE. You've got to do all the work to-day.

LEXY. Why?

PROSERPINE. Never mind why. It will do you good to earn your supper
before you eat it, for once in a way, as I do. Come: don't dawdle. You
should have been off on your rounds half an hour ago.

LEXY (perplexed). Is she in earnest, Morell?

MORELL (in the highest spirits--his eyes dancing). Yes. _I_ am going to
dawdle to-day.

LEXY. You! You don't know how.

MORELL (heartily). Ha! ha! Don't I? I'm going to have this day all to
myself--or at least the forenoon. My wife's coming back: she's due here
at 11.45.

LEXY (surprised). Coming back already--with the children? I thought
they were to stay to the end of the month.

MORELL. So they are: she's only coming up for two days, to get some
flannel things for Jimmy, and to see how we're getting on without her.

LEXY (anxiously). But, my dear Morell, if what Jimmy and Fluffy had was
scarlatina, do you think it wise--

MORELL. Scarlatina!--rubbish, German measles. I brought it into the
house myself from the Pycroft Street School. A parson is like a doctor,
my boy: he must face infection as a soldier must face bullets. (He
rises and claps Lexy on the shoulder.) Catch the measles if you can,
Lexy: she'll nurse you; and what a piece of luck that will be for

LEXY (smiling uneasily). It's so hard to understand you about Mrs.

MORELL (tenderly). Ah, my boy, get married--get married to a good
woman; and then you'll understand. That's a foretaste of what will be
best in the Kingdom of Heaven we are trying to establish on earth. That
will cure you of dawdling. An honest man feels that he must pay Heaven
for every hour of happiness with a good spell of hard, unselfish work
to make others happy. We have no more right to consume happiness
without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it. Get a
wife like my Candida; and you'll always be in arrear with your
repayment. (He pats Lexy affectionately on the back, and is leaving the
room when Lexy calls to him.)

LEXY. Oh, wait a bit: I forgot. (Morell halts and turns with the door
knob in his hand.) Your father-in-law is coming round to see you.
(Morell shuts the door again, with a complete change of manner.)

MORELL (surprised and not pleased). Mr. Burgess?

LEXY. Yes. I passed him in the park, arguing with somebody. He gave me
good day and asked me to let you know that he was coming.

MORELL (half incredulous). But he hasn't called here for--I may almost
say for years. Are you sure, Lexy? You're not joking, are you?

LEXY (earnestly). No, sir, really.

MORELL (thoughtfully). Hm! Time for him to take another look at Candida
before she grows out of his knowledge. (He resigns himself to the
inevitable, and goes out. Lexy looks after him with beaming, foolish

LEXY. What a good man! What a thorough, loving soul he is! (He takes
Morell's place at the table, making himself very comfortable as he
takes out a cigaret.)

PROSERPINE (impatiently, pulling the letter she has been working at off
the typewriter and folding it.) Oh, a man ought to be able to be fond
of his wife without making a fool of himself about her.

LEXY (shocked). Oh, Miss Prossy!

PROSERPINE (rising busily and coming to the stationery case to get an
envelope, in which she encloses the letter as she speaks). Candida
here, and Candida there, and Candida everywhere! (She licks the
envelope.) It's enough to drive anyone out of their SENSES (thumping
the envelope to make it stick) to hear a perfectly commonplace woman
raved about in that absurd manner merely because she's got good hair,
and a tolerable figure.

LEXY (with reproachful gravity). I think her extremely beautiful, Miss
Garnett. (He takes the photograph up; looks at it; and adds, with even
greater impressiveness) EXTREMELY beautiful. How fine her eyes are!

PROSERPINE. Her eyes are not a bit better than mine--now! (He puts down
the photograph and stares austerely at her.) And you know very well
that you think me dowdy and second rate enough.

LEXY (rising majestically). Heaven forbid that I should think of any of
God's creatures in such a way! (He moves stiffly away from her across
the room to the neighbourhood of the bookcase.)

PROSERPINE. Thank you. That's very nice and comforting.

LEXY (saddened by her depravity). I had no idea you had any feeling
against Mrs. Morell.

PROSERPINE (indignantly). I have no feeling against her. She's very
nice, very good-hearted: I'm very fond of her and can appreciate her
real qualities far better than any man can. (He shakes his head sadly
and turns to the bookcase, looking along the shelves for a volume. She
follows him with intense pepperiness.) You don't believe me? (He turns
and faces her. She pounces at him with spitfire energy.) You think I'm
jealous. Oh, what a profound knowledge of the human heart you have, Mr.
Lexy Mill! How well you know the weaknesses of Woman, don't you? It
must be so nice to be a man and have a fine penetrating intellect
instead of mere emotions like us, and to know that the reason we don't
share your amorous delusions is that we're all jealous of one another!
(She abandons him with a toss of her shoulders, and crosses to the fire
to warm her hands.)

LEXY. Ah, if you women only had the same clue to Man's strength that
you have to his weakness, Miss Prossy, there would be no Woman Question.

PROSERPINE (over her shoulder, as she stoops, holding her hands to the
blaze). Where did you hear Morell say that? You didn't invent it
yourself: you're not clever enough.

LEXY. That's quite true. I am not ashamed of owing him that, as I owe
him so many other spiritual truths. He said it at the annual conference
of the Women's Liberal Federation. Allow me to add that though they
didn't appreciate it, I, a mere man, did. (He turns to the bookcase
again, hoping that this may leave her crushed.)

PROSERPINE (putting her hair straight at the little panel of mirror in
the mantelpiece). Well, when you talk to me, give me your own ideas,
such as they are, and not his. You never cut a poorer figure than when
you are trying to imitate him.

LEXY (stung). I try to follow his example, not to imitate him.

PROSERPINE (coming at him again on her way back to her work). Yes, you
do: you IMITATE him. Why do you tuck your umbrella under your left arm
instead of carrying it in your hand like anyone else? Why do you walk
with your chin stuck out before you, hurrying along with that eager
look in your eyes--you, who never get up before half past nine in the
morning? Why do you say "knoaledge" in church, though you always say
"knolledge" in private conversation! Bah! do you think I don't know?
(She goes back to the typewriter.) Here, come and set about your work:
we've wasted enough time for one morning. Here's a copy of the diary
for to-day. (She hands him a memorandum.)

LEXY (deeply offended). Thank you. (He takes it and stands at the table
with his back to her, reading it. She begins to transcribe her
shorthand notes on the typewriter without troubling herself about his
feelings. Mr. Burgess enters unannounced. He is a man of sixty, made
coarse and sordid by the compulsory selfishness of petty commerce, and
later on softened into sluggish bumptiousness by overfeeding and
commercial success. A vulgar, ignorant, guzzling man, offensive and
contemptuous to people whose labor is cheap, respectful to wealth and
rank, and quite sincere and without rancour or envy in both attitudes.
Finding him without talent, the world has offered him no decently paid
work except ignoble work, and he has become in consequence, somewhat
hoggish. But he has no suspicion of this himself, and honestly regards
his commercial prosperity as the inevitable and socially wholesome
triumph of the ability, industry, shrewdness and experience in business
of a man who in private is easygoing, affectionate and humorously
convivial to a fault. Corporeally, he is a podgy man, with a square,
clean shaven face and a square beard under his chin; dust colored, with
a patch of grey in the centre, and small watery blue eyes with a
plaintively sentimental expression, which he transfers easily to his
voice by his habit of pompously intoning his sentences.)

BURGESS (stopping on the threshold, and looking round). They told me
Mr. Morell was here.

PROSERPINE (rising). He's upstairs. I'll fetch him for you.

BURGESS (staring boorishly at her). You're not the same young lady as
used to typewrite for him?


BURGESS (assenting). No: she was younger. (Miss Garnett stolidly stares
at him; then goes out with great dignity. He receives this quite
obtusely, and crosses to the hearth-rug, where he turns and spreads
himself with his back to the fire.) Startin' on your rounds, Mr. Mill?

LEXY (folding his paper and pocketing it). Yes: I must be off presently.

BURGESS (momentously). Don't let me detain you, Mr. Mill. What I come
about is private between me and Mr. Morell.

LEXY (huffily). I have no intention of intruding, I am sure, Mr.
Burgess. Good morning.

BURGESS (patronizingly). Oh, good morning to you. (Morell returns as
Lexy is making for the door.)

MORELL (to Lexy). Off to work?

LEXY. Yes, sir.

MORELL (patting him affectionately on the shoulder). Take my silk
handkerchief and wrap your throat up. There's a cold wind. Away with

(Lexy brightens up, and goes out.)

BURGESS. Spoilin' your curates, as usu'l, James. Good mornin'. When I
pay a man, an' 'is livin' depen's on me, I keep him in his place.

MORELL (rather shortly). I always keep my curates in their places as my
helpers and comrades. If you get as much work out of your clerks and
warehousemen as I do out of my curates, you must be getting rich pretty
fast. Will you take your old chair?

(He points with curt authority to the arm chair beside the fireplace;
then takes the spare chair from the table and sits down in front of

BURGESS (without moving). Just the same as hever, James!

MORELL. When you last called--it was about three years ago, I
think--you said the same thing a little more frankly. Your exact words
then were: "Just as big a fool as ever, James?"

BURGESS (soothingly). Well, perhaps I did; but (with conciliatory
cheerfulness) I meant no offence by it. A clergyman is privileged to be
a bit of a fool, you know: it's on'y becomin' in his profession that he
should. Anyhow, I come here, not to rake up hold differences, but to
let bygones be bygones. (Suddenly becoming very solemn, and approaching
Morell.) James: three year ago, you done me a hill turn. You done me
hout of a contrac'; an' when I gev you 'arsh words in my nat'ral
disappointment, you turned my daughrter again me. Well, I've come to
act the part of a Cherischin. (Offering his hand.) I forgive you, James.

MORELL (starting up). Confound your impudence!

BURGESS (retreating, with almost lachrymose deprecation of this
treatment). Is that becomin' language for a clergyman, James?--and you
so partic'lar, too?

MORELL (hotly). No, sir, it is not becoming language for a clergyman. I
used the wrong word. I should have said damn your impudence: that's
what St. Paul, or any honest priest would have said to you. Do you
think I have forgotten that tender of yours for the contract to supply
clothing to the workhouse?

BURGESS (in a paroxysm of public spirit). I acted in the interest of
the ratepayers, James. It was the lowest tender: you can't deny that.

MORELL. Yes, the lowest, because you paid worse wages than any other
employer--starvation wages--aye, worse than starvation wages--to the
women who made the clothing. Your wages would have driven them to the
streets to keep body and soul together. (Getting angrier and angrier.)
Those women were my parishioners. I shamed the Guardians out of
accepting your tender: I shamed the ratepayers out of letting them do
it: I shamed everybody but you. (Boiling over.) How dare you, sir, come
here and offer to forgive me, and talk about your daughter, and--

BURGESS. Easy, James, easy, easy. Don't git hinto a fluster about
nothink. I've howned I was wrong.

MORELL (fuming about). Have you? I didn't hear you.

BURGESS. Of course I did. I hown it now. Come: I harsk your pardon for
the letter I wrote you. Is that enough?

MORELL (snapping his fingers). That's nothing. Have you raised the

BURGESS (triumphantly). Yes.

MORELL (stopping dead). What!

BURGESS (unctuously). I've turned a moddle hemployer. I don't hemploy
no women now: they're all sacked; and the work is done by machinery.
Not a man 'as less than sixpence a hour; and the skilled 'ands gits the
Trade Union rate. (Proudly.) What 'ave you to say to me now?

MORELL (overwhelmed). Is it possible! Well, there's more joy in heaven
over one sinner that repenteth-- (Going to Burgess with an explosion of
apologetic cordiality.) My dear Burgess, I most heartily beg your
pardon for my hard thoughts of you. (Grasps his hand.) And now, don't
you feel the better for the change? Come, confess, you're happier. You
look happier.

BURGESS (ruefully). Well, p'raps I do. I s'pose I must, since you
notice it. At all events, I git my contrax asseppit (accepted) by the
County Council. (Savagely.) They dussent'ave nothink to do with me
unless I paid fair wages--curse 'em for a parcel o' meddlin' fools!

MORELL (dropping his hand, utterly discouraged). So that was why you
raised the wages! (He sits down moodily.)

BURGESS (severely, in spreading, mounting tones). Why else should I do
it? What does it lead to but drink and huppishness in workin' men? (He
seats himself magisterially in the easy chair.) It's hall very well for
you, James: it gits you hinto the papers and makes a great man of you;
but you never think of the 'arm you do, puttin' money into the pockets
of workin' men that they don't know 'ow to spend, and takin' it from
people that might be makin' a good huse on it.

MORELL (with a heavy sigh, speaking with cold politeness). What is your
business with me this morning? I shall not pretend to believe that you
are here merely out of family sentiment.

BURGESS (obstinately). Yes, I ham--just family sentiment and nothink

MORELL (with weary calm). I don't believe you!

BURGESS (rising threateningly). Don't say that to me again, James Mavor

MORELL (unmoved). I'll say it just as often as may be necessary to
convince you that it's true. I don't believe you.

BURGESS (collapsing into an abyss of wounded feeling). Oh, well, if
you're determined to be unfriendly, I s'pose I'd better go. (He moves
reluctantly towards the door. Morell makes no sign. He lingers.) I
didn't hexpect to find a hunforgivin' spirit in you, James. (Morell
still not responding, he takes a few more reluctant steps doorwards.
Then he comes back whining.) We huseter git on well enough, spite of
our different opinions. Why are you so changed to me? I give you my
word I come here in pyorr (pure) frenliness, not wishin' to be on bad
terms with my hown daughrter's 'usban'. Come, James: be a Cherishin and
shake 'ands. (He puts his hand sentimentally on Morell's shoulder.)

MORELL (looking up at him thoughtfully). Look here, Burgess. Do you
want to be as welcome here as you were before you lost that contract?

BURGESS. I do, James. I do--honest.

MORELL. Then why don't you behave as you did then?

BURGESS (cautiously removing his hand). 'Ow d'y'mean?

MORELL. I'll tell you. You thought me a young fool then.

BURGESS (coaxingly). No, I didn't, James. I--

MORELL (cutting him short). Yes, you did. And I thought you an old

BURGESS (most vehemently deprecating this gross self-accusation on
Morell's part). No, you didn't, James. Now you do yourself a hinjustice.

MORELL. Yes, I did. Well, that did not prevent our getting on very well
together. God made you what I call a scoundrel as he made me what you
call a fool. (The effect of this observation on Burgess is to remove
the keystone of his moral arch. He becomes bodily weak, and, with his
eyes fixed on Morell in a helpless stare, puts out his hand
apprehensively to balance himself, as if the floor had suddenly sloped
under him. Morell proceeds in the same tone of quiet conviction.) It
was not for me to quarrel with his handiwork in the one case more than
in the other. So long as you come here honestly as a self-respecting,
thorough, convinced scoundrel, justifying your scoundrelism, and proud
of it, you are welcome. But (and now Morell's tone becomes formidable;
and he rises and strikes the back of the chair for greater emphasis) I
won't have you here snivelling about being a model employer and a
converted man when you're only an apostate with your coat turned for
the sake of a County Council contract. (He nods at him to enforce the
point; then goes to the hearth-rug, where he takes up a comfortably
commanding position with his back to the fire, and continues) No: I
like a man to be true to himself, even in wickedness. Come now: either
take your hat and go; or else sit down and give me a good scoundrelly
reason for wanting to be friends with me. (Burgess, whose emotions have
subsided sufficiently to be expressed by a dazed grin, is relieved by
this concrete proposition. He ponders it for a moment, and then, slowly
and very modestly, sits down in the chair Morell has just left.) That's
right. Now, out with it.

BURGESS (chuckling in spite of himself.) Well, you ARE a queer bird,
James, and no mistake. But (almost enthusiastically) one carnt 'elp
likin' you; besides, as I said afore, of course one don't take all a
clorgyman says seriously, or the world couldn't go on. Could it now?
(He composes himself for graver discourse, and turning his eyes on
Morell proceeds with dull seriousness.) Well, I don't mind tellin' you,
since it's your wish we should be free with one another, that I did
think you a bit of a fool once; but I'm beginnin' to think that p'r'aps
I was be'ind the times a bit.

MORELL (delighted ). Aha! You're finding that out at last, are you?

BURGESS (portentously). Yes, times 'as changed mor'n I could a
believed. Five yorr (year) ago, no sensible man would a thought o'
takin' up with your ideas. I hused to wonder you was let preach at all.
Why, I know a clorgyman that 'as bin kep' hout of his job for yorrs by
the Bishop of London, although the pore feller's not a bit more
religious than you are. But to-day, if henyone was to offer to bet me a
thousan' poun' that you'll end by bein' a bishop yourself, I shouldn't
venture to take the bet. You and yore crew are gettin' hinfluential: I
can see that. They'll 'ave to give you something someday, if it's only
to stop yore mouth. You 'ad the right instinc' arter all, James: the
line you took is the payin' line in the long run fur a man o' your sort.

MORELL (decisively--offering his hand). Shake hands, Burgess. Now
you're talking honestly. I don't think they'll make me a bishop; but if
they do, I'll introduce you to the biggest jobbers I can get to come to
my dinner parties.

BURGESS (who has risen with a sheepish grin and accepted the hand of
friendship). You will 'ave your joke, James. Our quarrel's made up now,
isn't it?

A WOMAN'S VOICE. Say yes, James.

Startled, they turn quickly and find that Candida has just come in, and
is looking at them with an amused maternal indulgence which is her
characteristic expression. She is a woman of 33, well built, well
nourished, likely, one guesses, to become matronly later on, but now
quite at her best, with the double charm of youth and motherhood. Her
ways are those of a woman who has found that she can always manage
people by engaging their affection, and who does so frankly and
instinctively without the smallest scruple. So far, she is like any
other pretty woman who is just clever enough to make the most of her
sexual attractions for trivially selfish ends; but Candida's serene
brow, courageous eyes, and well set mouth and chin signify largeness of
mind and dignity of character to ennoble her cunning in the affections.
A wisehearted observer, looking at her, would at once guess that
whoever had placed the Virgin of the Assumption over her hearth did so
because he fancied some spiritual resemblance between them, and yet
would not suspect either her husband or herself of any such idea, or
indeed of any concern with the art of Titian.

Just now she is in bonnet and mantle, laden with a strapped rug with
her umbrella stuck through it, a handbag, and a supply of illustrated

MORELL (shocked at his remissness). Candida! Why--(looks at his watch,
and is horrified to find it so late.) My darling! (Hurrying to her and
seizing the rug strap, pouring forth his remorseful regrets all the
time.) I intended to meet you at the train. I let the time slip.
(Flinging the rug on the sofa.) I was so engrossed by--(returning to
her)--I forgot--oh! (He embraces her with penitent emotion.)

BURGESS (a little shamefaced and doubtful of his reception). How ors
you, Candy? (She, still in Morell's arms, offers him her cheek, which
he kisses.) James and me is come to a unnerstandin'--a honourable
unnerstandin'. Ain' we, James?

MORELL (impetuously). Oh, bother your understanding! You've kept me
late for Candida. (With compassionate fervor.) My poor love: how did
you manage about the luggage?--how--

CANDIDA (stopping him and disengaging herself ). There, there, there. I
wasn't alone. Eugene came down yesterday; and we traveled up together.

MORELL (pleased). Eugene!

CANDIDA. Yes: he's struggling with my luggage, poor boy. Go out, dear,
at once; or he will pay for the cab; and I don't want that. (Morell
hurries out. Candida puts down her handbag; then takes off her mantle
and bonnet and puts them on the sofa with the rug, chatting meanwhile.)
Well, papa, how are you getting on at home?

BURGESS. The 'ouse ain't worth livin' in since you left it, Candy. I
wish you'd come round and give the gurl a talkin' to. Who's this Eugene
that's come with you?

CANDIDA. Oh, Eugene's one of James's discoveries. He found him sleeping
on the Embankment last June. Haven't you noticed our new picture
(pointing to the Virgin)? He gave us that.

BURGESS (incredulously). Garn! D'you mean to tell me--your hown
father!--that cab touts or such like, orf the Embankment, buys pictur's
like that? (Severely.) Don't deceive me, Candy: it's a 'Igh Church
pictur; and James chose it hisself.

CANDIDA. Guess again. Eugene isn't a cab tout.

BURGESS. Then wot is he? (Sarcastically.) A nobleman, I 'spose.

CANDIDA (delighted--nodding). Yes. His uncle's a peer--a real live earl.

BURGESS (not daring to believe such good news). No!

CANDIDA. Yes. He had a seven day bill for 55 pounds in his pocket when
James found him on the Embankment. He thought he couldn't get any money
for it until the seven days were up; and he was too shy to ask for
credit. Oh, he's a dear boy! We are very fond of him.

BURGESS (pretending to belittle the aristocracy, but with his eyes
gleaming). Hm, I thort you wouldn't git a piorr's (peer's) nevvy
visitin' in Victoria Park unless he were a bit of a flat. (Looking
again at the picture.) Of course I don't 'old with that pictur, Candy;
but still it's a 'igh class, fust rate work of art: I can see that. Be
sure you hintroduce me to him, Candy. (He looks at his watch
anxiously.) I can only stay about two minutes.

Morell comes back with Eugene, whom Burgess contemplates moist-eyed
with enthusiasm. He is a strange, shy youth of eighteen, slight,
effeminate, with a delicate childish voice, and a hunted, tormented
expression and shrinking manner that show the painful sensitiveness
that very swift and acute apprehensiveness produces in youth, before
the character has grown to its full strength. Yet everything that his
timidity and frailty suggests is contradicted by his face. He is
miserably irresolute, does not know where to stand or what to do with
his hands and feet, is afraid of Burgess, and would run away into
solitude if he dared; but the very intensity with which he feels a
perfectly commonplace position shows great nervous force, and his
nostrils and mouth show a fiercely petulant wilfulness, as to the
quality of which his great imaginative eyes and fine brow are
reassuring. He is so entirely uncommon as to be almost unearthly; and
to prosaic people there is something noxious in this unearthliness,
just as to poetic people there is something angelic in it. His dress is
anarchic. He wears an old blue serge jacket, unbuttoned over a woollen
lawn tennis shirt, with a silk handkerchief for a cravat, trousers
matching the jacket, and brown canvas shoes. In these garments he has
apparently lain in the heather and waded through the waters; but there
is no evidence of his having ever brushed them.

As he catches sight of a stranger on entering, he stops, and edges
along the wall on the opposite side of the room.

MORELL (as he enters). Come along: you can spare us quarter of an hour,
at all events. This is my father-in-law, Mr. Burgess--Mr. Marchbanks.

MARCHBANKS (nervously backing against the bookcase). Glad to meet you,

BURGESS (crossing to him with great heartiness, whilst Morell joins
Candida at the fire). Glad to meet YOU, I'm shore, Mr. Morchbanks.
(Forcing him to shake hands.) 'Ow do you find yoreself this weather?
'Ope you ain't lettin' James put no foolish ideas into your 'ed?

MARCHBANKS. Foolish ideas! Oh, you mean Socialism. No.

BURGESS. That's right. (Again looking at his watch.) Well, I must go
now: there's no 'elp for it. Yo're not comin' my way, are you, Mr.

MARCHBANKS. Which way is that?

BURGESS. Victawriar Pork station. There's a city train at 12.25.

MORELL. Nonsense. Eugene will stay to lunch with us, I expect.

MARCHBANKS (anxiously excusing himself). No--I--I--

BURGESS. Well, well, I shan't press you: I bet you'd rather lunch with
Candy. Some night, I 'ope, you'll come and dine with me at my club, the
Freeman Founders in Nortn Folgit. Come, say you will.

MARCHBANKS. Thank you, Mr. Burgess. Where is Norton Folgate--down in
Surrey, isn't it? (Burgess, inexpressibly tickled, begins to splutter
with laughter.)

CANDIDA (coming to the rescue). You'll lose your train, papa, if you
don't go at once. Come back in the afternoon and tell Mr. Marchbanks
where to find the club.

BURGESS (roaring with glee). Down in Surrey--har, har! that's not a bad
one. Well, I never met a man as didn't know Nortn Folgit
before.(Abashed at his own noisiness.) Good-bye, Mr. Morchbanks: I know
yo're too 'ighbred to take my pleasantry in bad part. (He again offers
his hand.)

MARCHBANKS (taking it with a nervous jerk). Not at all.

BURGESS. Bye, bye, Candy. I'll look in again later on. So long, James.

MORELL. Must you go?

BURGESS. Don't stir. (He goes out with unabated heartiness.)

MORELL. Oh, I'll see you out. (He follows him out. Eugene stares after
them apprehensively, holding his breath until Burgess disappears.)

CANDIDA (laughing). Well, Eugene. (He turns with a start and comes
eagerly towards her, but stops irresolutely as he meets her amused
look.) What do you think of my father?

MARCHBANKS. I--I hardly know him yet. He seems to be a very nice old

CANDIDA (with gentle irony). And you'll go to the Freeman Founders to
dine with him, won't you?

MARCHBANKS (miserably, taking it quite seriously). Yes, if it will
please you.

CANDIDA (touched). Do you know, you are a very nice boy, Eugene, with
all your queerness. If you had laughed at my father I shouldn't have
minded; but I like you ever so much better for being nice to him.

MARCHBANKS. Ought I to have laughed? I noticed that he said something
funny; but I am so ill at ease with strangers; and I never can see a
joke! I'm very sorry. (He sits down on the sofa, his elbows on his
knees and his temples between his fists, with an expression of hopeless

CANDIDA (bustling him goodnaturedly). Oh, come! You great baby, you!
You are worse than usual this morning. Why were you so melancholy as we
came along in the cab?

MARCHBANKS. Oh, that was nothing. I was wondering how much I ought to
give the cabman. I know it's utterly silly; but you don't know how
dreadful such things are to me--how I shrink from having to deal with
strange people. (Quickly and reassuringly.) But it's all right. He
beamed all over and touched his hat when Morell gave him two shillings.
I was on the point of offering him ten. (Candida laughs heartily.
Morell comes back with a few letters and newspapers which have come by
the midday post.)

CANDIDA. Oh, James, dear, he was going to give the cabman ten
shillings--ten shillings for a three minutes' drive--oh, dear!

MORELL (at the table, glancing through the letters). Never mind her,
Marchbanks. The overpaying instinct is a generous one: better than the
underpaying instinct, and not so common.

MARCHBANKS (relapsing into dejection). No: cowardice, incompetence.
Mrs. Morell's quite right.

CANDIDA. Of course she is. (She takes up her handbag.) And now I must
leave you to James for the present. I suppose you are too much of a
poet to know the state a woman finds her house in when she's been away
for three weeks. Give me my rug. (Eugene takes the strapped rug from
the couch, and gives it to her. She takes it in her left hand, having
the bag in her right.) Now hang my cloak across my arm. (He obeys.) Now
my hat. (He puts it into the hand which has the bag.) Now open the door
for me. (He hurries up before her and opens the door.) Thanks. (She
goes out; and Marchbanks shuts the door.)

MORELL (still busy at the table). You'll stay to lunch, Marchbanks, of

MARCHBANKS (scared). I mustn't. (He glances quickly at Morell, but at
once avoids his frank look, and adds, with obvious disingenuousness) I

MORELL (over his shoulder). You mean you won't.

MARCHBANKS (earnestly). No: I should like to, indeed. Thank you very
much. But--but--

MORELL (breezily, finishing with the letters and coming close to him).
But--but--but--but--bosh! If you'd like to stay, stay. You don't mean
to persuade me you have anything else to do. If you're shy, go and take
a turn in the park and write poetry until half past one; and then come
in and have a good feed.

MARCHBANKS. Thank you, I should like that very much. But I really
mustn't. The truth is, Mrs. Morell told me not to. She said she didn't
think you'd ask me to stay to lunch, but that I was to remember, if you
did, that you didn't really want me to. (Plaintively.) She said I'd
understand; but I don't. Please don't tell her I told you.

MORELL (drolly). Oh, is that all? Won't my suggestion that you should
take a turn in the park meet the difficulty?


MORELL (exploding good-humoredly). Why, you duffer--(But this
boisterousness jars himself as well as Eugene. He checks himself, and
resumes, with affectionate seriousness) No: I won't put it in that way.
My dear lad: in a happy marriage like ours, there is something very
sacred in the return of the wife to her home. (Marchbanks looks quickly
at him, half anticipating his meaning.) An old friend or a truly noble
and sympathetic soul is not in the way on such occasions; but a chance
visitor is. (The hunted, horror-stricken expression comes out with
sudden vividness in Eugene's face as he understands. Morell, occupied
with his own thought, goes on without noticing it.) Candida thought I
would rather not have you here; but she was wrong. I'm very fond of
you, my boy, and I should like you to see for yourself what a happy
thing it is to be married as I am.

MARCHBANKS, Happy!--YOUR marriage! You think that! You believe that!

MORELL (buoyantly). I know it, my lad. La Rochefoucauld said that there
are convenient marriages, but no delightful ones. You don't know the
comfort of seeing through and through a thundering liar and rotten
cynic like that fellow. Ha, ha! Now off with you to the park, and write
your poem. Half past one, sharp, mind: we never wait for anybody.

MARCHBANKS (wildly). No: stop: you shan't. I'll force it into the light.

MORELL (puzzled). Eh? Force what?

MARCHBANKS. I must speak to you. There is something that must be
settled between us.

MORELL (with a whimsical glance at the clock). Now?

MARCHBANKS (passionately). Now. Before you leave this room. (He
retreats a few steps, and stands as if to bar Morell's way to the door.)

MORELL (without moving, and gravely, perceiving now that there is
something serious the matter). I'm not going to leave it, my dear boy:
I thought YOU were. (Eugene, baffled by his firm tone, turns his back
on him, writhing with anger. Morell goes to him and puts his hand on
his shoulder strongly and kindly, disregarding his attempt to shake it
off) Come: sit down quietly; and tell me what it is. And remember; we
are friends, and need not fear that either of us will be anything but
patient and kind to the other, whatever we may have to say.

MARCHBANKS (twisting himself round on him). Oh, I am not forgetting
myself: I am only (covering his face desperately with his hands) full
of horror. (Then, dropping his hands, and thrusting his face forward
fiercely at Morell, he goes on threateningly.) You shall see whether
this is a time for patience and kindness. (Morell, firm as a rock,
looks indulgently at him.) Don't look at me in that self-complacent
way. You think yourself stronger than I am; but I shall stagger you if
you have a heart in your breast.

MORELL (powerfully confident). Stagger me, my boy. Out with it.


MORELL. First?

MARCHBANKS. I love your wife.

(Morell recoils, and, after staring at him for a moment in utter
amazement, bursts into uncontrollable laughter. Eugene is taken aback,
but not disconcerted; and he soon becomes indignant and contemptuous.)

MORELL (sitting down to have his laugh out). Why, my dear child, of
course you do. Everybody loves her: they can't help it. I like it. But
(looking up whimsically at him) I say, Eugene: do you think yours is a
case to be talked about? You're under twenty: she's over thirty.
Doesn't it look rather too like a case of calf love?

MARCHBANKS (vehemently). YOU dare say that of her! You think that way
of the love she inspires! It is an insult to her!

MORELL (rising; quickly, in an altered tone). To her! Eugene: take
care. I have been patient. I hope to remain patient. But there are some
things I won't allow. Don't force me to show you the indulgence I
should show to a child. Be a man.

MARCHBANKS (with a gesture as if sweeping something behind him). Oh,
let us put aside all that cant. It horrifies me when I think of the
doses of it she has had to endure in all the weary years during which
you have selfishly and blindly sacrificed her to minister to your
self-sufficiency--YOU (turning on him) who have not one thought--one
sense--in common with her.

MORELL (philosophically). She seems to bear it pretty well. (Looking
him straight in the face.) Eugene, my boy: you are making a fool of
yourself--a very great fool of yourself. There's a piece of wholesome
plain speaking for you.

MARCHBANKS. Oh, do you think I don't know all that? Do you think that
the things people make fools of themselves about are any less real and
true than the things they behave sensibly about? (Morell's gaze wavers
for the first time. He instinctively averts his face and stands
listening, startled and thoughtful.) They are more true: they are the
only things that are true. You are very calm and sensible and moderate
with me because you can see that I am a fool about your wife; just as
no doubt that old man who was here just now is very wise over your
socialism, because he sees that YOU are a fool about it. (Morell's
perplexity deepens markedly. Eugene follows up his advantage, plying
him fiercely with questions.) Does that prove you wrong? Does your
complacent superiority to me prove that I am wrong?

MORELL (turning on Eugene, who stands his ground). Marchbanks: some
devil is putting these words into your mouth. It is easy--terribly
easy--to shake a man's faith in himself. To take advantage of that to
break a man's spirit is devil's work. Take care of what you are doing.
Take care.

MARCHBANKS (ruthlessly). I know. I'm doing it on purpose. I told you I
should stagger you.

(They confront one another threateningly for a moment. Then Morell
recovers his dignity.)

MORELL (with noble tenderness). Eugene: listen to me. Some day, I hope
and trust, you will be a happy man like me. (Eugene chafes
intolerantly, repudiating the worth of his happiness. Morell, deeply
insulted, controls himself with fine forbearance, and continues
steadily, with great artistic beauty of delivery) You will be married;
and you will be working with all your might and valor to make every
spot on earth as happy as your own home. You will be one of the makers
of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth; and--who knows?--you may be a
pioneer and master builder where I am only a humble journeyman; for
don't think, my boy, that I cannot see in you, young as you are,
promise of higher powers than I can ever pretend to. I well know that
it is in the poet that the holy spirit of man--the god within him--is
most godlike. It should make you tremble to think of that--to think
that the heavy burthen and great gift of a poet may be laid upon you.

MARCHBANKS (unimpressed and remorseless, his boyish crudity of
assertion telling sharply against Morell's oratory). It does not make
me tremble. It is the want of it in others that makes me tremble.

MORELL (redoubling his force of style under the stimulus of his genuine
feeling and Eugene's obduracy). Then help to kindle it in them--in
ME---not to extinguish it. In the future--when you are as happy as I
am--I will be your true brother in the faith. I will help you to
believe that God has given us a world that nothing but our own folly
keeps from being a paradise. I will help you to believe that every
stroke of your work is sowing happiness for the great harvest that
all--even the humblest--shall one day reap. And last, but trust me, not
least, I will help you to believe that your wife loves you and is happy
in her home. We need such help, Marchbanks: we need it greatly and
always. There are so many things to make us doubt, if once we let our
understanding be troubled. Even at home, we sit as if in camp,
encompassed by a hostile army of doubts. Will you play the traitor and
let them in on me?

MARCHBANKS (looking round him). Is it like this for her here always? A
woman, with a great soul, craving for reality, truth, freedom, and
being fed on metaphors, sermons, stale perorations, mere rhetoric. Do
you think a woman's soul can live on your talent for preaching?

MORELL (Stung). Marchbanks: you make it hard for me to control myself.
My talent is like yours insofar as it has any real worth at all. It is
the gift of finding words for divine truth.

MARCHBANKS (impetuously). It's the gift of the gab, nothing more and
nothing less. What has your knack of fine talking to do with the truth,
any more than playing the organ has? I've never been in your church;
but I've been to your political meetings; and I've seen you do what's
called rousing the meeting to enthusiasm: that is, you excited them
until they behaved exactly as if they were drunk. And their wives
looked on and saw clearly enough what fools they were. Oh, it's an old
story: you'll find it in the Bible. I imagine King David, in his fits
of enthusiasm, was very like you. (Stabbing him with the words.) "But
his wife despised him in her heart."

MORELL (wrathfully). Leave my house. Do you hear? (He advances on him

MARCHBANKS (shrinking back against the couch). Let me alone. Don't
touch me. (Morell grasps him powerfully by the lapel of his coat: he
cowers down on the sofa and screams passionately.) Stop, Morell, if you
strike me, I'll kill myself. I won't bear it. (Almost in hysterics.)
Let me go. Take your hand away.

MORELL (with slow, emphatic scorn.) You little snivelling, cowardly
whelp. (Releasing him.) Go, before you frighten yourself into a fit.

MARCHBANKS (on the sofa, gasping, but relieved by the withdrawal of
Morell's hand). I'm not afraid of you: it's you who are afraid of me.

MORELL (quietly, as he stands over him). It looks like it, doesn't it?

MARCHBANKS (with petulant vehemence). Yes, it does. (Morell turns away
contemptuously. Eugene scrambles to his feet and follows him.) You
think because I shrink from being brutally handled--because (with tears
in his voice) I can do nothing but cry with rage when I am met with
violence--because I can't lift a heavy trunk down from the top of a cab
like you--because I can't fight you for your wife as a navvy would: all
that makes you think that I'm afraid of you. But you're wrong. If I
haven't got what you call British pluck, I haven't British cowardice
either: I'm not afraid of a clergyman's ideas. I'll fight your ideas.
I'll rescue her from her slavery to them: I'll pit my own ideas against
them. You are driving me out of the house because you daren't let her
choose between your ideas and mine. You are afraid to let me see her
again. (Morell, angered, turns suddenly on him. He flies to the door in
involuntary dread.) Let me alone, I say. I'm going.

MORELL (with cold scorn). Wait a moment: I am not going to touch you:
don't be afraid. When my wife comes back she will want to know why you
have gone. And when she finds that you are never going to cross our
threshold again, she will want to have that explained, too. Now I don't
wish to distress her by telling her that you have behaved like a

MARCHBANKS (Coming back with renewed vehemence). You shall--you must.
If you give any explanation but the true one, you are a liar and a
coward.  Tell her what I said; and how you were strong and manly, and
shook me as a terrier shakes a rat; and how I shrank and was terrified;
and how you called me a snivelling little whelp and put me out of the
house. If you don't tell her, I will: I'll write to her.

MORELL (taken aback.) Why do you want her to know this?

MARCHBANKS (with lyric rapture.) Because she will understand me, and
know that I understand her. If you keep back one word of it from
her--if you are not ready to lay the truth at her feet as I am--then
you will know to the end of your days that she really belongs to me and
not to you. Good-bye. (Going.)

MORELL (terribly disquieted). Stop: I will not tell her.

MARCHBANKS (turning near the door). Either the truth or a lie you MUST
tell her, if I go.

MORELL (temporizing). Marchbanks: it is sometimes justifiable.

MARCHBANKS (cutting him short). I know--to lie. It will be useless.
Good-bye, Mr. Clergyman.

(As he turns finally to the door, it opens and Candida enters in
housekeeping attire.)

CANDIDA. Are you going, Eugene?(Looking more observantly at him.) Well,
dear me, just look at you, going out into the street in that state! You
ARE a poet, certainly. Look at him, James! (She takes him by the coat,
and brings him forward to show him to Morell.) Look at his collar! look
at his tie! look at his hair! One would think somebody had been
throttling you. (The two men guard themselves against betraying their
consciousness.) Here! Stand still. (She buttons his collar; ties his
neckerchief in a bow; and arranges his hair.) There! Now you look so
nice that I think you'd better stay to lunch after all, though I told
you you mustn't. It will be ready in half an hour. (She puts a final
touch to the bow. He kisses her hand.) Don't be silly.

MARCHBANKS. I want to stay, of course--unless the reverend gentleman,
your husband, has anything to advance to the contrary.

CANDIDA. Shall he stay, James, if he promises to be a good boy and to
help me to lay the table? (Marchbanks turns his head and looks
steadfastly at Morell over his shoulder, challenging his answer.)

MORELL (shortly). Oh, yes, certainly: he had better. (He goes to the
table and pretends to busy himself with his papers there.)

MARCHBANKS (offering his arm to Candida). Come and lay the table.(She
takes it and they go to the door together. As they go out he adds) I am
the happiest of men.

MORELL. So was I--an hour ago.


The same day. The same room. Late in the afternoon. The spare chair for
visitors has been replaced at the table, which is, if possible, more
untidy than before. Marchbanks, alone and idle, is trying to find out
how the typewriter works. Hearing someone at the door, he steals
guiltily away to the window and pretends to be absorbed in the view.
Miss Garnett, carrying the notebook in which she takes down Morell's
letters in shorthand from his dictation, sits down at the typewriter
and sets to work transcribing them, much too busy to notice Eugene.
Unfortunately the first key she strikes sticks.

PROSERPINE. Bother! You've been meddling with my typewriter, Mr.
Marchbanks; and there's not the least use in your trying to look as if
you hadn't.

MARCHBANKS (timidly). I'm very sorry, Miss Garnett. I only tried to
make it write.

PROSERPINE. Well, you've made this key stick.

MARCHBANKS (earnestly). I assure you I didn't touch the keys. I didn't,
indeed. I only turned a little wheel. (He points irresolutely at the
tension wheel.)

PROSERPINE. Oh, now I understand. (She sets the machine to rights,
talking volubly all the time.) I suppose you thought it was a sort of
barrel-organ. Nothing to do but turn the handle, and it would write a
beautiful love letter for you straight off, eh?

MARCHBANKS (seriously). I suppose a machine could be made to write
love-letters. They're all the same, aren't they!

PROSERPINE (somewhat indignantly: any such discussion, except by way of
pleasantry, being outside her code of manners). How do I know? Why do
you ask me?

MARCHBANKS. I beg your pardon. I thought clever people--people who can
do business and write letters, and that sort of thing--always had love

PROSERPINE (rising, outraged). Mr. Marchbanks! (She looks severely at
him, and marches with much dignity to the bookcase.)

MARCHBANKS (approaching her humbly). I hope I haven't offended you.
Perhaps I shouldn't have alluded to your love affairs.

PROSERPINE (plucking a blue book from the shelf and turning sharply on
him). I haven't any love affairs. How dare you say such a thing?

MARCHBANKS (simply). Really! Oh, then you are shy, like me. Isn't that

PROSERPINE. Certainly I am not shy. What do you mean?

MARCHBANKS (secretly). You must be: that is the reason there are so few
love affairs in the world. We all go about longing for love: it is the
first need of our natures, the loudest cry Of our hearts; but we dare
not utter our longing: we are too shy. (Very earnestly.) Oh, Miss
Garnett, what would you not give to be without fear, without shame--

PROSERPINE (scandalized), Well, upon my word!

MARCHBANKS (with petulant impatience). Ah, don't say those stupid
things to me: they don't deceive me: what use are they? Why are you
afraid to be your real self with me? I am just like you.

PROSERPINE. Like me! Pray, are you flattering me or flattering
yourself? I don't feel quite sure which. (She turns to go back to the

MARCHBANKS (stopping her mysteriously). Hush! I go about in search of
love; and I find it in unmeasured stores in the bosoms of others. But
when I try to ask for it, this horrible shyness strangles me; and I
stand dumb, or worse than dumb, saying meaningless things--foolish
lies. And I see the affection I am longing for given to dogs and cats
and pet birds, because they come and ask for it. (Almost whispering.)
It must be asked for: it is like a ghost: it cannot speak unless it is
first spoken to. (At his normal pitch, but with deep melancholy.) All
the love in the world is longing to speak; only it dare not, because it
is shy, shy, shy. That is the world's tragedy. (With a deep sigh he
sits in the spare chair and buries his face in his hands.)

PROSERPINE (amazed, but keeping her wits about her--her point of honor
in encounters with strange young men). Wicked people get over that
shyness occasionally, don't they?

MARCHBANKS (scrambling up almost fiercely). Wicked people means people
who have no love: therefore they have no shame. They have the power to
ask love because they don't need it: they have the power to offer it
because they have none to give. (He collapses into his seat, and adds,
mournfully) But we, who have love, and long to mingle it with the love
of others: we cannot utter a word. (Timidly.) You find that, don't you?

PROSERPINE. Look here: if you don't stop talking like this, I'll leave
the room, Mr. Marchbanks: I really will. It's not proper. (She resumes
her seat at the typewriter, opening the blue book and preparing to copy
a passage from it.)

MARCHBANKS (hopelessly). Nothing that's worth saying IS proper. (He
rises, and wanders about the room in his lost way, saying) I can't
understand you, Miss Garnett. What am I to talk about?

PROSERPINE (snubbing him). Talk about indifferent things, talk about
the weather.

MARCHBANKS. Would you stand and talk about indifferent things if a
child were by, crying bitterly with hunger?

PROSERPINE. I suppose not.

MARCHBANKS. Well: I can't talk about indifferent things with my heart
crying out bitterly in ITS hunger.

PROSERPINE. Then hold your tongue.

MARCHBANKS. Yes: that is what it always comes to. We hold our tongues.
Does that stop the cry of your heart?--for it does cry: doesn't it? It
must, if you have a heart.

PROSERPINE (suddenly rising with her hand pressed on her heart). Oh,
it's no use trying to work while you talk like that. (She leaves her
little table and sits on the sofa. Her feelings are evidently strongly
worked on.) It's no business of yours, whether my heart cries or not;
but I have a mind to tell you, for all that.

MARCHBANKS. You needn't. I know already that it must.

PROSERPINE. But mind: if you ever say I said so, I'll deny it.

MARCHBANKS (compassionately). Yes, I know. And so you haven't the
courage to tell him?

PROSERPINE (bouncing up). HIM! Who?

MARCHBANKS. Whoever he is. The man you love. It might be anybody. The
curate, Mr. Mill, perhaps.

PROSERPINE (with disdain). Mr. Mill!!! A fine man to break my heart
about, indeed! I'd rather have you than Mr. Mill.

MARCHBANKS (recoiling). No, really--I'm very sorry; but you mustn't
think of that. I--

PROSERPINE. (testily, crossing to the fire and standing at it with her
back to him). Oh, don't be frightened: it's not you. It's not any one
particular person.

MARCHBANKS. I know. You feel that you could love anybody that offered--

PROSERPINE (exasperated). Anybody that offered! No, I do not. What do
you take me for?

MARCHBANKS (discouraged). No use. You won't make me REAL answers--only
those things that everybody says. (He strays to the sofa and sits down

PROSERPINE (nettled at what she takes to be a disparagement of her
manners by an aristocrat). Oh, well, if you want original conversation,
you'd better go and talk to yourself.

MARCHBANKS. That is what all poets do: they talk to themselves out
loud; and the world overhears them. But it's horribly lonely not to
hear someone else talk sometimes.

PROSERPINE. Wait until Mr. Morell comes. HE'LL talk to you. (Marchbanks
shudders.) Oh, you needn't make wry faces over him: he can talk better
than you. (With temper.) He'd talk your little head off. (She is going
back angrily to her place, when, suddenly enlightened, he springs up
and stops her.)

MARCHBANKS. Ah, I understand now!

PROSERPINE (reddening). What do you understand?

MARCHBANKS. Your secret. Tell me: is it really and truly possible for a
woman to love him?

PROSERPINE (as if this were beyond all bounds). Well!!

MARCHBANKS (passionately). No, answer me. I want to know: I MUST know.
I can't understand it. I can see nothing in him but words, pious
resolutions, what people call goodness. You can't love that.

PROSERPINE (attempting to snub him by an air of cool propriety). I
simply don't know what you're talking about. I don't understand you.

MARCHBANKS (vehemently). You do. You lie--


MARCHBANKS. You DO understand; and you KNOW. (Determined to have an
answer.) Is it possible for a woman to love him?

PROSERPINE (looking him straight in the face.) Yes. (He covers his face
with his hands.) Whatever is the matter with you! (He takes down his
hands and looks at her. Frightened at the tragic mask presented to her,
she hurries past him at the utmost possible distance, keeping her eyes
on his face until he turns from her and goes to the child's chair
beside the hearth, where he sits in the deepest dejection. As she
approaches the door, it opens and Burgess enters. On seeing him, she
ejaculates) Praise heaven, here's somebody! (and sits down, reassured,
at her table. She puts a fresh sheet of paper into the typewriter as
Burgess crosses to Eugene.)

BURGESS (bent on taking care of the distinguished visitor). Well: so
this is the way they leave you to yourself, Mr. Morchbanks. I've come
to keep you company. (Marchbanks looks up at him in consternation,
which is quite lost on him.) James is receivin' a deppitation in the
dinin' room; and Candy is hupstairs educatin' of a young stitcher gurl
she's hinterusted in. She's settin' there learnin' her to read out of
the "'Ev'nly Twins." (Condolingly.) You must find it lonesome here with
no one but the typist to talk to. (He pulls round the easy chair above
fire, and sits down.)

PROSERPINE (highly incensed). He'll be all right now that he has the
advantage of YOUR polished conversation: that's one comfort, anyhow.
(She begins to typewrite with clattering asperity.)

BURGESS (amazed at her audacity). Hi was not addressin' myself to you,
young woman, that I'm awerr of.

PROSERPINE (tartly, to Marchbanks). Did you ever see worse manners, Mr.

BURGESS (with pompous severity). Mr. Morchbanks is a gentleman and
knows his place, which is more than some people do.

PROSERPINE (fretfully). It's well you and I are not ladies and
gentlemen: I'd talk to you pretty straight if Mr. Marchbanks wasn't
here. (She pulls the letter out of the machine so crossly that it
tears.) There, now I've spoiled this letter--have to be done all over
again. Oh, I can't contain myself--silly old fathead!

BURGESS (rising, breathless with indignation). Ho! I'm a silly ole
fathead, am I? Ho, indeed (gasping). Hall right, my gurl! Hall right.
You just wait till I tell that to your employer. You'll see. I'll teach
you: see if I don't.


BURGESS (cutting her short). No, you've done it now. No huse a-talkin'
to me. I'll let you know who I am. (Proserpine shifts her paper
carriage with a defiant bang, and disdainfully goes on with her work.)
Don't you take no notice of her, Mr. Morchbanks. She's beneath it. (He
sits down again loftily.)

MARCHBANKS (miserably nervous and disconcerted). Hadn't we better
change the subject. I--I don't think Miss Garnett meant anything.

PROSERPINE (with intense conviction). Oh, didn't I though, just!

BURGESS. I wouldn't demean myself to take notice on her.

(An electric bell rings twice.)

PROSERPINE (gathering up her note-book and papers).  That's for me.
(She hurries out.)

BURGESS (calling after her). Oh, we can spare you. (Somewhat relieved
by the triumph of having the last word, and yet half inclined to try to
improve on it, he looks after her for a moment; then subsides into his
seat by Eugene, and addresses him very confidentially.) Now we're
alone, Mr. Morchbanks, let me give you a friendly 'int that I wouldn't
give to everybody. 'Ow long 'ave you known my son-in-law James here?

MARCHBANKS. I don't know. I never can remember dates. A few months,

BURGESS. Ever notice anything queer about him?

MARCHBANKS. I don't think so.

BURGESS (impressively). No more you wouldn't. That's the danger in it.
Well, he's mad.


BURGESS. Mad as a Morch 'are. You take notice on him and you'll see.

MARCHBANKS (beginning). But surely that is only because his opinions--

BURGESS (touching him with his forefinger on his knee, and pressing it
as if to hold his attention with it). That's wot I used tee think, Mr.
Morchbanks. Hi thought long enough that it was honly 'is hopinions;
though, mind you, hopinions becomes vurry serious things when people
takes to hactin on 'em as 'e does. But that's not wot I go on. (He
looks round to make sure that they are alone, and bends over to
Eugene's ear.) Wot do you think he says to me this mornin' in this very


BURGESS. He sez to me--this is as sure as we're settin' here now--he
sez: "I'm a fool," he sez;--"and yore a scounderl"--as cool as
possible. Me a scounderl, mind you! And then shook 'ands with me on it,
as if it was to my credit! Do you mean to tell me that that man's sane?

MORELL. (outside, calling to Proserpine, holding the door open). Get
all their names and addresses, Miss Garnett.

PROSERPINE (in the distance). Yes, Mr. Morell.

(Morell comes in, with the deputation's documents in his hands.)

BURGESS (aside to Marchbanks). Yorr he is. Just you keep your heye on
him and see. (Rising momentously.) I'm sorry, James, to 'ave to make a
complaint to you. I don't want to do it; but I feel I oughter, as a
matter o' right and duty.

MORELL. What's the matter?

BURGESS. Mr. Morchbanks will bear me out: he was a witness. (Very
solemnly.) Your young woman so far forgot herself as to call me a silly
ole fat 'ead.

MORELL (delighted--with tremendous heartiness). Oh, now, isn't that
EXACTLY like Prossy? She's so frank: she can't contain herself! Poor
Prossy! Ha! Ha!

BURGESS (trembling with rage). And do you hexpec me to put up with it
from the like of 'ER?

MORELL. Pooh, nonsense! you can't take any notice of it. Never mind.
(He goes to the cellaret and puts the papers into one of the drawers.)

BURGESS. Oh, I don't mind. I'm above it. But is it RIGHT?--that's what
I want to know. Is it right?

MORELL. That's a question for the Church, not for the laity. Has it
done you any harm, that's the question for you, eh? Of course, it
hasn't. Think no more of it. (He dismisses the subject by going to his
place at the table and setting to work at his correspondence.)

BURGESS (aside to Marchbanks). What did I tell you? Mad as a 'atter.
(He goes to the table and asks, with the sickly civility of a hungry
man) When's dinner, James?

MORELL. Not for half an hour yet.

BURGESS (with plaintive resignation). Gimme a nice book to read over
the fire, will you, James: thur's a good chap.

MORELL. What sort of book? A good one?

BURGESS (with almost a yell of remonstrance). Nah-oo! Summat pleasant,
just to pass the time. (Morell takes an illustrated paper from the
table and offers it. He accepts it humbly.) Thank yer, James. (He goes
back to his easy chair at the fire, and sits there at his ease,

MORELL (as he writes). Candida will come to entertain you presently.
She has got rid of her pupil. She is filling the lamps.

MARCHBANKS (starting up in the wildest consternation). But that will
soil her hands. I can't bear that, Morell: it's a shame. I'll go and
fill them. (He makes for the door.)

MORELL. You'd better not. (Marchbanks stops irresolutely.) She'd only
set you to clean my boots, to save me the trouble of doing it myself in
the morning.

BURGESS (with grave disapproval). Don't you keep a servant now, James?

MORELL. Yes; but she isn't a slave; and the house looks as if I kept
three. That means that everyone has to lend a hand. It's not a bad
plan: Prossy and I can talk business after breakfast whilst we're
washing up. Washing up's no trouble when there are two people to do it.

MARCHBANKS (tormentedly). Do you think every woman is as coarse-grained
as Miss Garnett?

BURGESS (emphatically). That's quite right, Mr. Morchbanks. That's
quite right. She IS corse-grained.

MORELL (quietly and significantly). Marchbanks!


MORELL. How many servants does your father keep?

MARCHBANKS. Oh, I don't know. (He comes back uneasily to the sofa, as
if to get as far as possible from Morell's questioning, and sits down
in great agony of mind, thinking of the paraffin.)

MORELL. (very gravely). So many that you don't know. (More
aggressively.) Anyhow, when there's anything coarse-grained to be done,
you ring the bell and throw it on to somebody else, eh? That's one of
the great facts in YOUR existence, isn't it?

MARCHBANKS. Oh, don't torture me. The one great fact now is that your
wife's beautiful fingers are dabbling in paraffin oil, and that you are
sitting here comfortably preaching about it--everlasting preaching,
preaching, words, words, words.

BURGESS (intensely appreciating this retort). Ha, ha! Devil a better.
(Radiantly.) 'Ad you there, James, straight.

(Candida comes in, well aproned, with a reading lamp trimmed, filled,
and ready for lighting. She places it on the table near Morell, ready
for use.)

CANDIDA (brushing her finger tips together with a slight twitch of her
nose). If you stay with us, Eugene, I think I will hand over the lamps
to you.

MARCHBANKS. I will stay on condition that you hand over all the rough
work to me.

CANDIDA. That's very gallant; but I think I should like to see how you
do it first. (Turning to Morell.) James: you've not been looking after
the house properly.

MORELL. What have I done--or not done--my love?

CANDIDA (with serious vexation). My own particular pet scrubbing brush
has been used for blackleading. (A heart-breaking wail bursts from
Marchbanks. Burgess looks round, amazed. Candida hurries to the sofa.)
What's the matter? Are you ill, Eugene?

MARCHBANKS. No, not ill. Only horror, horror, horror! (He bows his head
on his hands.)

BURGESS (shocked). What! Got the 'orrors, Mr. Morchbanks! Oh, that's
bad, at your age. You must leave it off grajally.

CANDIDA (reassured). Nonsense, papa. It's only poetic horror, isn't it,
Eugene? (Petting him.)

BURGESS (abashed). Oh, poetic 'orror, is it? I beg your pordon, I'm
shore. (He turns to the fire again, deprecating his hasty conclusion.)

CANDIDA. What is it, Eugene--the scrubbing brush? (He shudders.) Well,
there! never mind. (She sits down beside him.) Wouldn't you like to
present me with a nice new one, with an ivory back inlaid with

MARCHBANKS (softly and musically, but sadly and longingly). No, not a
scrubbing brush, but a boat--a tiny shallop to sail away in, far from
the world, where the marble floors are washed by the rain and dried by
the sun, where the south wind dusts the beautiful green and purple
carpets. Or a chariot--to carry us up into the sky, where the lamps are
stars, and don't need to be filled with paraffin oil every day.

MORELL (harshly). And where there is nothing to do but to be idle,
selfish and useless.

CANDIDA (jarred). Oh, James, how could you spoil it all!

MARCHBANKS (firing up). Yes, to be idle, selfish and useless: that is
to be beautiful and free and happy: hasn't every man desired that with
all his soul for the woman he loves? That's my ideal: what's yours, and
that of all the dreadful people who live in these hideous rows of
houses? Sermons and scrubbing brushes! With you to preach the sermon
and your wife to scrub.

CANDIDA (quaintly). He cleans the boots, Eugene. You will have to clean
them to-morrow for saying that about him.

MARCHBANKS. Oh! don't talk about boots. Your feet should be beautiful
on the mountains.

CANDIDA. My feet would not be beautiful on the Hackney Road without

BURGESS (scandalized). Come, Candy, don't be vulgar. Mr. Morchbanks
ain't accustomed to it. You're givin' him the 'orrors again. I mean the
poetic ones.

(Morell is silent. Apparently he is busy with his letters: really he is
puzzling with misgiving over his new and alarming experience that the
surer he is of his moral thrusts, the more swiftly and effectively
Eugene parries them. To find himself beginning to fear a man whom he
does not respect affects him bitterly.)

(Miss Garnett comes in with a telegram.)

PROSERPINE (handing the telegram to Morell). Reply paid. The boy's
waiting. (To Candida, coming back to her machine and sitting down.)
Maria is ready for you now in the kitchen, Mrs. Morell. (Candida
rises.) The onions have come.

MARCHBANKS (convulsively). Onions!

CANDIDA. Yes, onions. Not even Spanish ones--nasty little red onions.
You shall help me to slice them. Come along.

(She catches him by the wrist and runs out, pulling him after her.
Burgess rises in consternation, and stands aghast on the hearth-rug,
staring after them.)

BURGESS. Candy didn't oughter 'andle a peer's nevvy like that. It's
goin' too fur with it. Lookee 'ere, James: do 'e often git taken queer
like that?

MORELL (shortly, writing a telegram). I don't know.

BURGESS (sentimentally). He talks very pretty. I allus had a turn for a
bit of potery. Candy takes arter me that-a-way: huse ter make me tell
her fairy stories when she was on'y a little kiddy not that 'igh
(indicating a stature of two feet or thereabouts).

MORELL (preoccupied). Ah, indeed. (He blots the telegram, and goes out.)

PROSERPINE. Used you to make the fairy stories up out of your own head?

(Burgess, not deigning to reply, strikes an attitude of the haughtiest
disdain on the hearth-rug.)

PROSERPINE (calmly). I should never have supposed you had it in you. By
the way, I'd better warn you, since you've taken such a fancy to Mr.
Marchbanks. He's mad.

BURGESS. Mad! Wot! 'Im too!!

PROSERPINE. Mad as a March hare. He did frighten me, I can tell you
just before you came in that time. Haven't you noticed the queer things
he says?

BURGESS. So that's wot the poetic 'orrors means. Blame me if it didn't
come into my head once or twyst that he must be off his chump! (He
crosses the room to the door, lifting up his voice as he goes.) Well,
this is a pretty sort of asylum for a man to be in, with no one but you
to take care of him!

PROSERPINE (as he passes her). Yes, what a dreadful thing it would be
if anything happened to YOU!

BURGESS (loftily). Don't you address no remarks to me. Tell your
hemployer that I've gone into the garden for a smoke.

PROSERPINE (mocking). Oh!

(Before Burgess can retort, Morell comes back.)

BURGESS (sentimentally). Goin' for a turn in the garden to smoke, James.

MORELL (brusquely). Oh, all right, all right. (Burgess goes out
pathetically in the character of the weary old man. Morell stands at
the table, turning over his papers, and adding, across to Proserpine,
half humorously, half absently) Well, Miss Prossy, why have you been
calling my father-in-law names?

PROSERPINE (blushing fiery red, and looking quickly up at him, half
scared, half reproachful). I-- (She bursts into tears.)

MORELL (with tender gaiety, leaning across the table towards her, and
consoling her). Oh, come, come, come! Never mind, Pross: he IS a silly
old fathead, isn't he?

(With an explosive sob, she makes a dash at the door, and vanishes,
banging it. Morell, shaking his head resignedly, sighs, and goes
wearily to his chair, where he sits down and sets to work, looking old
and careworn.)

(Candida comes in. She has finished her household work and taken of the
apron. She at once notices his dejected appearance, and posts herself
quietly at the spare chair, looking down at him attentively; but she
says nothing.)

MORELL (looking up, but with his pen raised ready to resume his work).
Well? Where is Eugene?

CANDIDA. Washing his hands in the scullery--under the tap. He will make
an excellent cook if he can only get over his dread of Maria.

MORELL (shortly). Ha! No doubt. (He begins writing again.)

CANDIDA (going nearer, and putting her hand down softly on his to stop
him, as she says). Come here, dear. Let me look at you. (He drops his
pen and yields himself at her disposal. She makes him rise and brings
him a little away from the table, looking at him critically all the
time.) Turn your face to the light. (She places him facing the window.)
My boy is not looking well. Has he been overworking?

MORELL. Nothing more than usual.

CANDIDA. He looks very pale, and grey, and wrinkled, and old. (His
melancholy deepens; and she attacks it with wilful gaiety.) Here
(pulling him towards the easy chair) you've done enough writing for
to-day. Leave Prossy to finish it and come and talk to me.


CANDIDA. Yes, I MUST be talked to sometimes. (She makes him sit down,
and seats herself on the carpet beside his knee.) Now (patting his
hand) you're beginning to look better already. Why don't you give up
all this tiresome overworking--going out every night lecturing and
talking? Of course what you say is all very true and very right; but it
does no good: they don't mind what you say to them one little bit. Of
course they agree with you; but what's the use of people agreeing with
you if they go and do just the opposite of what you tell them the
moment your back is turned? Look at our congregation at St. Dominic's!
Why do they come to hear you talking about Christianity every Sunday?
Why, just because they've been so full of business and money-making for
six days that they want to forget all about it and have a rest on the
seventh, so that they can go back fresh and make money harder than
ever! You positively help them at it instead of hindering them.

MORELL (with energetic seriousness). You know very well, Candida, that
I often blow them up soundly for that. But if there is nothing in their
church-going but rest and diversion, why don't they try something more
amusing--more self-indulgent? There must be some good in the fact that
they prefer St. Dominic's to worse places on Sundays.

CANDIDA. Oh, the worst places aren't open; and even if they were, they
daren't be seen going to them. Besides, James, dear, you preach so
splendidly that it's as good as a play for them. Why do you think the
women are so enthusiastic?

MORELL (shocked). Candida!

CANDIDA. Oh, _I_ know. You silly boy: you think it's your Socialism and
your religion; but if it was that, they'd do what you tell them instead
of only coming to look at you. They all have Prossy's complaint.

MORELL. Prossy's complaint! What do you mean, Candida?

CANDIDA. Yes, Prossy, and all the other secretaries you ever had. Why
does Prossy condescend to wash up the things, and to peel potatoes and
abase herself in all manner of ways for six shillings a week less than
she used to get in a city office? She's in love with you, James: that's
the reason. They're all in love with you. And you are in love with
preaching because you do it so beautifully. And you think it's all
enthusiasm for the kingdom of Heaven on earth; and so do they. You dear

MORELL. Candida: what dreadful, what soul-destroying cynicism! Are you
jesting? Or--can it be?--are you jealous?

CANDIDA (with curious thoughtfulness). Yes, I feel a little jealous

MORELL (incredulously). What! Of Prossy?

CANDIDA (laughing). No, no, no, no. Not jealous of anybody. Jealous for
somebody else, who is not loved as he ought to be.


CANDIDA. You! Why, you're spoiled with love and worship: you get far
more than is good for you. No: I mean Eugene.

MORELL (startled). Eugene!

CANDIDA. It seems unfair that all the love should go to you, and none
to him, although he needs it so much more than you do. (A convulsive
movement shakes him in spite of himself.) What's the matter? Am I
worrying you?

MORELL (hastily). Not at all. (Looking at her with troubled intensity.)
You know that I have perfect confidence in you, Candida.

CANDIDA. You vain thing! Are you so sure of your irresistible

MORELL. Candida: you are shocking me. I never thought of my
attractions. I thought of your goodness--your purity. That is what I
confide in.

CANDIDA. What a nasty, uncomfortable thing to say to me! Oh, you ARE a
clergyman, James--a thorough clergyman.

MORELL (turning away from her, heart-stricken). So Eugene says.

CANDIDA (with lively interest, leaning over to him with her arms on his
knee). Eugene's always right. He's a wonderful boy: I have grown fonder
and fonder of him all the time I was away. Do you know, James, that
though he has not the least suspicion of it himself, he is ready to
fall madly in love with me?

MORELL (grimly). Oh, he has no suspicion of it himself, hasn't he?

CANDIDA. Not a bit. (She takes her arms from his knee, and turns
thoughtfully, sinking into a more restful attitude with her hands in
her lap.) Some day he will know when he is grown up and experienced,
like you. And he will know that I must have known. I wonder what he
will think of me then.

MORELL. No evil, Candida. I hope and trust, no evil.

CANDIDA (dubiously). That will depend.

MORELL (bewildered). Depend!

CANDIDA (looking at him). Yes: it will depend on what happens to him.
(He look vacantly at her.) Don't you see? It will depend on how he
comes to learn what love really is. I mean on the sort of woman who
will teach it to him.

MORELL (quite at a loss). Yes. No. I don't know what you mean.

CANDIDA (explaining). If he learns it from a good woman, then it will
be all right: he will forgive me.

MORELL. Forgive!

CANDIDA. But suppose he learns it from a bad woman, as so many men do,
especially poetic men, who imagine all women are angels! Suppose he
only discovers the value of love when he has thrown it away and
degraded himself in his ignorance. Will he forgive me then, do you

MORELL. Forgive you for what?

CANDIDA (realizing how stupid he is, and a little disappointed, though
quite tenderly so). Don't you understand? (He shakes his head. She
turns to him again, so as to explain with the fondest intimacy.) I
mean, will he forgive me for not teaching him myself? For abandoning
him to the bad women for the sake of my goodness--my purity, as you
call it? Ah, James, how little you understand me, to talk of your
confidence in my goodness and purity! I would give them both to poor
Eugene as willingly as I would give my shawl to a beggar dying of cold,
if there were nothing else to restrain me. Put your trust in my love
for you, James, for if that went, I should care very little for your
sermons--mere phrases that you cheat yourself and others with every
day. (She is about to rise.)

MORELL. HIS words!

CANDIDA (checking herself quickly in the act of getting up, so that she
is on her knees, but upright). Whose words?

MORELL. Eugene's.

CANDIDA (delighted). He is always right. He understands you; he
understands me; he understands Prossy; and you, James--you understand
nothing. (She laughs, and kisses him to console him. He recoils as if
stung, and springs up.)

MORELL. How can you bear to do that when--oh, Candida (with anguish in
his voice) I had rather you had plunged a grappling iron into my heart
than given me that kiss.

CANDIDA (rising, alarmed). My dear: what's the matter?

MORELL (frantically waving her off). Don't touch me.

CANDIDA (amazed). James!

(They are interrupted by the entrance of Marchbanks, with Burgess, who
stops near the door, staring, whilst Eugene hurries forward between

MARCHBANKS. Is anything the matter?

MORELL (deadly white, putting an iron constraint on himself). Nothing
but this: that either you were right this morning, or Candida is mad.

BURGESS (in loudest protest). Wot! Candy mad too! Oh, come, come, come!
(He crosses the room to the fireplace, protesting as he goes, and
knocks the ashes out of his pipe on the bars. Morell sits down
desperately, leaning forward to hide his face, and interlacing his
fingers rigidly to keep them steady.)

CANDIDA (to Morell, relieved and laughing). Oh, you're only shocked! Is
that all? How conventional all you unconventional people are!

BURGESS. Come: be'ave yourself, Candy. What'll Mr. Morchbanks think of

CANDIDA. This comes of James teaching me to think for myself, and never
to hold back out of fear of what other people may think of me. It works
beautifully as long as I think the same things as he does. But now,
because I have just thought something different!--look at him--just

(She points to Morell, greatly amused. Eugene looks, and instantly
presses his band on his heart, as if some deadly pain had shot through
it, and sits down on the sofa like a man witnessing a tragedy.)

BURGESS (on the hearth-rug). Well, James, you certainly ain't as
himpressive lookin' as usu'l.

MORELL (with a laugh which is half a sob). I suppose not. I beg all
your pardons: I was not conscious of making a fuss. (Pulling himself
together.) Well, well, well, well, well! (He goes back to his place at
the table, setting to work at his papers again with resolute

CANDIDA (going to the sofa and sitting beside Marchbanks, still in a
bantering humor). Well, Eugene, why are you so sad? Did the onions make
you cry?

(Morell cannot prevent himself from watching them.)

MARCHBANKS (aside to her). It is your cruelty. I hate cruelty. It is a
horrible thing to see one person make another suffer.

CANDIDA (petting him ironically). Poor boy, have I been cruel? Did I
make it slice nasty little red onions?

MARCHBANKS (earnestly). Oh, stop, stop: I don't mean myself. You have
made him suffer frightfully. I feel his pain in my own heart. I know
that it is not your fault--it is something that must happen; but don't
make light of it. I shudder when you torture him and laugh.

CANDIDA (incredulously). I torture James! Nonsense, Eugene: how you
exaggerate! Silly! (She looks round at Morell, who hastily resumes his
writing. She goes to him and stands behind his chair, bending over
him.) Don't work any more, dear. Come and talk to us.

MORELL (affectionately but bitterly). Ah no: I can't talk. I can only

CANDIDA (caressing him). Well, come and preach.

BURGESS (strongly remonstrating). Aw, no, Candy. 'Ang it all! (Lexy
Mill comes in, looking anxious and important.)

LEXY (hastening to shake hands with Candida). How do you do, Mrs.
Morell? So glad to see you back again.

CANDIDA. Thank you, Lexy. You know Eugene, don't you?

LEXY. Oh, yes. How do you do, Marchbanks?

MARCHBANKS. Quite well, thanks.

LEXY (to Morell). I've just come from the Guild of St. Matthew. They
are in the greatest consternation about your telegram. There's nothing
wrong, is there?

CANDIDA. What did you telegraph about, James?

LEXY (to Candida). He was to have spoken for them tonight. They've
taken the large hall in Mare Street and spent a lot of money on
posters. Morell's telegram was to say he couldn't come. It came on them
like a thunderbolt.

CANDIDA (surprized, and beginning to suspect something wrong). Given up
an engagement to speak!

BURGESS. First time in his life, I'll bet. Ain' it, Candy?

LEXY (to Morell). They decided to send an urgent telegram to you asking
whether you could not change your mind. Have you received it?

MORELL (with restrained impatience). Yes, yes: I got it.

LEXY. It was reply paid.

MORELL. Yes, I know. I answered it. I can't go.

CANDIDA. But why, James?

MORELL (almost fiercely). Because I don't choose. These people forget
that I am a man: they think I am a talking machine to be turned on for
their pleasure every evening of my life. May I not have ONE night at
home, with my wife, and my friends?

(They are all amazed at this outburst, except Eugene. His expression
remains unchanged.)

CANDIDA. Oh, James, you know you'll have an attack of bad conscience
to-morrow; and _I_ shall have to suffer for that.

LEXY (intimidated, but urgent). I know, of course, that they make the
most unreasonable demands on you. But they have been telegraphing all
over the place for another speaker: and they can get nobody but the
President of the Agnostic League.

MORELL (promptly). Well, an excellent man. What better do they want?

LEXY. But he always insists so powerfully on the divorce of Socialism
from Christianity. He will undo all the good we have been doing. Of
course you know best; but--(He hesitates.)

CANDIDA (coaxingly). Oh, DO go, James. We'll all go.

BURGESS (grumbling). Look 'ere, Candy! I say! Let's stay at home by the
fire, comfortable. He won't need to be more'n a couple-o'-hour away.

CANDIDA. You'll be just as comfortable at the meeting. We'll all sit on
the platform and be great people.

EUGENE (terrified). Oh, please don't let us go on the platform.
No--everyone will stare at us--I couldn't. I'll sit at the back of the

CANDIDA. Don't be afraid. They'll be too busy looking at James to
notice you.

MORELL (turning his head and looking meaningly at her over his
shoulder). Prossy's complaint, Candida! Eh?

CANDIDA (gaily). Yes.

BURGESS (mystified). Prossy's complaint. Wot are you talking about,

MORELL (not heeding him, rises; goes to the door; and holds it open,
shouting in a commanding voice). Miss Garnett.

PROSERPINE (in the distance). Yes, Mr. Morell. Coming. (They all wait,
except Burgess, who goes stealthily to Lexy and draws him aside.)

BURGESS. Listen here, Mr. Mill. Wot's Prossy's complaint? Wot's wrong
with 'er?

LEXY (confidentially). Well, I don't exactly know; but she spoke very
strangely to me this morning. I'm afraid she's a little out of her mind

BURGESS (overwhelmed). Why, it must be catchin'! Four in the same
'ouse! (He goes back to the hearth, quite lost before the instability
of the human intellect in a clergyman's house.)

PROSERPINE (appearing on the threshold). What is it, Mr. Morell?

MORELL. Telegraph to the Guild of St. Matthew that I am coming.

PROSERPINE (surprised). Don't they expect you?

MORELL (peremptorily). Do as I tell you.

(Proserpine frightened, sits down at her typewriter, and obeys. Morell
goes across to Burgess, Candida watching his movements all the time
with growing wonder and misgiving.)

MORELL. Burgess: you don't want to come?

BURGESS (in deprecation). Oh, don't put it like that, James. It's only
that it ain't Sunday, you know.

MORELL. I'm sorry. I thought you might like to be introduced to the
chairman. He's on the Works Committee of the County Council and has
some influence in the matter of contracts. (Burgess wakes up at once.
Morell, expecting as much, waits a moment, and says) Will you come?

BURGESS (with enthusiasm). Course I'll come, James. Ain' it always a
pleasure to 'ear you.

MORELL (turning from him). I shall want you to take some notes at the
meeting, Miss Garnett, if you have no other engagement. (She nods,
afraid to speak.) You are coming, Lexy, I suppose.

LEXY. Certainly.

CANDIDA. We are all coming, James.

MORELL. No: you are not coming; and Eugene is not coming. You will stay
here and entertain him--to celebrate your return home. (Eugene rises,

CANDIDA. But James--

MORELL (authoritatively). I insist. You do not want to come; and he
does not want to come. (Candida is about to protest.) Oh, don't concern
yourselves: I shall have plenty of people without you: your chairs will
be wanted by unconverted people who have never heard me before.

CANDIDA (troubled). Eugene: wouldn't you like to come?

MORELL. I should be afraid to let myself go before Eugene: he is so
critical of sermons. (Looking at him.) He knows I am afraid of him: he
told me as much this morning. Well, I shall show him how much afraid I
am by leaving him here in your custody, Candida.

MARCHBANKS (to himself, with vivid feeling). That's brave. That's
beautiful. (He sits down again listening with parted lips.)

CANDIDA (with anxious misgiving). But--but--Is anything the matter,
James? (Greatly troubled.) I can't understand--

MORELL. Ah, I thought it was I who couldn't understand, dear. (He takes
her tenderly in his arms and kisses her on the forehead; then looks
round quietly at Marchbanks.)


Late in the evening. Past ten. The curtains are drawn, and the lamps
lighted. The typewriter is in its case; the large table has been
cleared and tidied; everything indicates that the day's work is done.

Candida and Marchbanks are seated at the fire. The reading lamp is on
the mantelshelf above Marchbanks, who is sitting on the small chair
reading aloud from a manuscript. A little pile of manuscripts and a
couple of volumes of poetry are on the carpet beside him. Candida is in
the easy chair with the poker, a light brass one, upright in her hand.
She is leaning back and looking at the point of it curiously, with her
feet stretched towards the blaze and her heels resting on the fender,
profoundly unconscious of her appearance and surroundings.

MARCHBANKS (breaking off in his recitation): Every poet that ever lived
has put that thought into a sonnet. He must: he can't help it. (He
looks to her for assent, and notices her absorption in the poker.)
Haven't you been listening? (No response.) Mrs. Morell!

CANDIDA (starting). Eh?

MARCHBANKS. Haven't you been listening?

CANDIDA (with a guilty excess of politeness). Oh, yes. It's very nice.
Go on, Eugene. I'm longing to hear what happens to the angel.

MARCHBANKS (crushed--the manuscript dropping from his hand to the
floor). I beg your pardon for boring you.

CANDIDA. But you are not boring me, I assure you. Please go on. Do,

MARCHBANKS. I finished the poem about the angel quarter of an hour ago.
I've read you several things since.

CANDIDA (remorsefully). I'm so sorry, Eugene. I think the poker must
have fascinated me. (She puts it down.)

MARCHBANKS. It made me horribly uneasy.

CANDIDA. Why didn't you tell me? I'd have put it down at once.

MARCHBANKS. I was afraid of making you uneasy, too. It looked as if it
were a weapon. If I were a hero of old, I should have laid my drawn
sword between us. If Morell had come in he would have thought you had
taken up the poker because there was no sword between us.

CANDIDA (wondering). What? (With a puzzled glance at him.) I can't
quite follow that. Those sonnets of yours have perfectly addled me. Why
should there be a sword between us?

MARCHBANKS (evasively). Oh, never mind. (He stoops to pick up the

CANDIDA. Put that down again, Eugene. There are limits to my appetite
for poetry--even your poetry. You've been reading to me for more than
two hours--ever since James went out. I want to talk.

MARCHBANKS (rising, scared). No: I mustn't talk. (He looks round him in
his lost way, and adds, suddenly) I think I'll go out and take a walk
in the park. (Making for the door.)

CANDIDA. Nonsense: it's shut long ago. Come and sit down on the
hearth-rug, and talk moonshine as you usually do. I want to be amused.
Don't you want to?

MARCHBANKS (in half terror, half rapture). Yes.

CANDIDA. Then come along. (She moves her chair back a little to make
room. He hesitates; then timidly stretches himself on the hearth-rug,
face upwards, and throws back his head across her knees, looking up at

MARCHBANKS. Oh, I've been so miserable all the evening, because I was
doing right. Now I'm doing wrong; and I'm happy.

CANDIDA (tenderly amused at him). Yes: I'm sure you feel a great grown
up wicked deceiver--quite proud of yourself, aren't you?

MARCHBANKS (raising his head quickly and turning a little to look round
at her). Take care. I'm ever so much older than you, if you only knew.
(He turns quite over on his knees, with his hands clasped and his arms
on her lap, and speaks with growing impulse, his blood beginning to
stir.) May I say some wicked things to you?

CANDIDA (without the least fear or coldness, quite nobly, and with
perfect respect for his passion, but with a touch of her wise-hearted
maternal humor). No. But you may say anything you really and truly
feel. Anything at all, no matter what it is. I am not afraid, so long
as it is your real self that speaks, and not a mere attitude--a gallant
attitude, or a wicked attitude, or even a poetic attitude. I put you on
your honor and truth. Now say whatever you want to.

MARCHBANKS (the eager expression vanishing utterly from his lips and
nostrils as his eyes light up with pathetic spirituality). Oh, now I
can't say anything: all the words I know belong to some attitude or
other--all except one.

CANDIDA. What one is that?

MARCHBANKS (softly, losing himself in the music of the name). Candida,
Candida, Candida, Candida, Candida. I must say that now, because you
have put me on my honor and truth; and I never think or feel Mrs.
Morell: it is always Candida.

CANDIDA. Of course. And what have you to say to Candida?

MARCHBANKS. Nothing, but to repeat your name a thousand times. Don't
you feel that every time is a prayer to you?

CANDIDA. Doesn't it make you happy to be able to pray?

MARCHBANKS. Yes, very happy.

CANDIDA. Well, that happiness is the answer to your prayer. Do you want
anything more?

MARCHBANKS (in beatitude). No: I have come into heaven, where want is

(Morell comes in. He halts on the threshold, and takes in the scene at
a glance.)

MORELL (grave and self-contained). I hope I don't disturb you. (Candida
starts up violently, but without the smallest embarrassment, laughing
at herself. Eugene, still kneeling, saves himself from falling by
putting his hands on the seat of the chair, and remains there, staring
open mouthed at Morell.)

CANDIDA (as she rises). Oh, James, how you startled me! I was so taken
up with Eugene that I didn't hear your latch-key. How did the meeting
go off? Did you speak well?

MORELL. I have never spoken better in my life.

CANDIDA. That was first rate! How much was the collection?

MORELL. I forgot to ask.

CANDIDA (to Eugene). He must have spoken splendidly, or he would never
have forgotten that. (To Morell.) Where are all the others?

MORELL. They left long before I could get away: I thought I should
never escape. I believe they are having supper somewhere.

CANDIDA (in her domestic business tone). Oh; in that case, Maria may go
to bed. I'll tell her. (She goes out to the kitchen.)

MORELL (looking sternly down at Marchbanks). Well?

MARCHBANKS (squatting cross-legged on the hearth-rug, and actually at
ease with Morell--even impishly humorous). Well?

MORELL. Have you anything to tell me?

MARCHBANKS. Only that I have been making a fool of myself here in
private whilst you have been making a fool of yourself in public.

MORELL. Hardly in the same way, I think.

MARCHBANKS (scrambling up--eagerly). The very, very, VERY same way. I
have been playing the good man just like you. When you began your
heroics about leaving me here with Candida--

MORELL (involuntarily). Candida?

MARCHBANKS. Oh, yes: I've got that far. Heroics are infectious: I
caught the disease from you. I swore not to say a word in your absence
that I would not have said a month ago in your presence.

MORELL. Did you keep your oath?

MARCHBANKS. (suddenly perching himself grotesquely on the easy chair).
I was ass enough to keep it until about ten minutes ago. Up to that
moment I went on desperately reading to her--reading my own
poems--anybody's poems--to stave off a conversation. I was standing
outside the gate of Heaven, and refusing to go in. Oh, you can't think
how heroic it was, and how uncomfortable! Then--

MORELL (steadily controlling his suspense). Then?

MARCHBANKS (prosaically slipping down into a quite ordinary attitude in
the chair). Then she couldn't bear being read to any longer.

MORELL. And you approached the gate of Heaven at last?


MORELL. Well? (Fiercely.) Speak, man: have you no feeling for me?

MARCHBANKS (softly and musically). Then she became an angel; and there
was a flaming sword that turned every way, so that I couldn't go in;
for I saw that that gate was really the gate of Hell.

MORELL (triumphantly). She repulsed you!

MARCHBANKS (rising in wild scorn). No, you fool: if she had done that I
should never have seen that I was in Heaven already. Repulsed me! You
think that would have saved me--virtuous indignation! Oh, you are not
worthy to live in the same world with her. (He turns away
contemptuously to the other side of the room.)

MORELL (who has watched him quietly without changing his place). Do you
think you make yourself more worthy by reviling me, Eugene?

MARCHBANKS. Here endeth the thousand and first lesson. Morell: I don't
think much of your preaching after all: I believe I could do it better
myself. The man I want to meet is the man that Candida married.

MORELL. The man that--? Do you mean me?

MARCHBANKS. I don't mean the Reverend James Mavor Morell, moralist and
windbag. I mean the real man that the Reverend James must have hidden
somewhere inside his black coat--the man that Candida loved. You can't
make a woman like Candida love you by merely buttoning your collar at
the back instead of in front.

MORELL (boldly and steadily). When Candida promised to marry me, I was
the same moralist and windbag that you now see. I wore my black coat;
and my collar was buttoned behind instead of in front. Do you think she
would have loved me any the better for being insincere in my profession?

MARCHBANKS (on the sofa hugging his ankles). Oh, she forgave you, just
as she forgives me for being a coward, and a weakling, and what you
call a snivelling little whelp and all the rest of it. (Dreamily.) A
woman like that has divine insight: she loves our souls, and not our
follies and vanities and illusions, or our collars and coats, or any
other of the rags and tatters we are rolled up in. (He reflects on this
for an instant; then turns intently to question Morell.) What I want to
know is how you got past the flaming sword that stopped me.

MORELL (meaningly). Perhaps because I was not interrupted at the end of
ten minutes.

MARCHBANKS (taken aback). What!

MORELL. Man can climb to the highest summits; but he cannot dwell there

MARCHBANKS. It's false: there can he dwell for ever and there only.
It's in the other moments that he can find no rest, no sense of the
silent glory of life. Where would you have me spend my moments, if not
on the summits?

MORELL. In the scullery, slicing onions and filling lamps.

MARCHBANKS. Or in the pulpit, scrubbing cheap earthenware souls?

MORELL. Yes, that, too. It was there that I earned my golden moment,
and the right, in that moment, to ask her to love me. I did not take
the moment on credit; nor did I use it to steal another man's happiness.

MARCHBANKS (rather disgustedly, trotting back towards the fireplace). I
have no doubt you conducted the transaction as honestly as if you were
buying a pound of cheese. (He stops on the brink of the hearth-rug and
adds, thoughtfully, to himself, with his back turned to Morell) I could
only go to her as a beggar.

MORELL (starting). A beggar dying of cold--asking for her shawl?

MARCHBANKS (turning, surprised). Thank you for touching up my poetry.
Yes, if you like, a beggar dying of cold asking for her shawl.

MORELL (excitedly). And she refused. Shall I tell you why she refused?
I CAN tell you, on her own authority. It was because of--

MARCHBANKS. She didn't refuse.


MARCHBANKS. She offered me all I chose to ask for, her shawl, her
wings, the wreath of stars on her head, the lilies in her hand, the
crescent moon beneath her feet--

MORELL (seizing him). Out with the truth, man: my wife is my wife: I
want no more of your poetic fripperies. I know well that if I have lost
her love and you have gained it, no law will bind her.

MARCHBANKS (quaintly, without fear or resistance). Catch me by the
shirt collar, Morell: she will arrange it for me afterwards as she did
this morning. (With quiet rapture.) I shall feel her hands touch me.

MORELL. You young imp, do you know how dangerous it is to say that to
me? Or (with a sudden misgiving) has something made you brave?

MARCHBANKS. I'm not afraid now. I disliked you before: that was why I
shrank from your touch. But I saw to-day--when she tortured you--that
you love her. Since then I have been your friend: you may strangle me
if you like.

MORELL (releasing him). Eugene: if that is not a heartless lie--if you
have a spark of human feeling left in you--will you tell me what has
happened during my absence?

MARCHBANKS. What happened! Why, the flaming sword--(Morell stamps with
impatience.) Well, in plain prose, I loved her so exquisitely that I
wanted nothing more than the happiness of being in such love. And
before I had time to come down from the highest summits, you came in.

MORELL (suffering deeply). So it is still unsettled--still the misery
of doubt.

MARCHBANKS. Misery! I am the happiest of men. I desire nothing now but
her happiness. (With dreamy enthusiasm.) Oh, Morell, let us both give
her up. Why should she have to choose between a wretched little nervous
disease like me, and a pig-headed parson like you? Let us go on a
pilgrimage, you to the east and I to the west, in search of a worthy
lover for her--some beautiful archangel with purple wings--

MORELL. Some fiddlestick. Oh, if she is mad enough to leave me for you,
who will protect her? Who will help her? who will work for her? who
will be a father to her children? (He sits down distractedly on the
sofa, with his elbows on his knees and his head propped on his clenched

MARCHBANKS (snapping his fingers wildly). She does not ask those silly
questions. It is she who wants somebody to protect, to help, to work
for--somebody to give her children to protect, to help and to work for.
Some grown up man who has become as a little child again. Oh, you fool,
you fool, you triple fool! I am the man, Morell: I am the man. (He
dances about excitedly, crying.) You don't understand what a woman is.
Send for her, Morell: send for her and let her choose between--(The
door opens and Candida enters. He stops as if petrified.)

CANDIDA (amazed, on the threshold). What on earth are you at, Eugene?

MARCHBANKS (oddly). James and I are having a preaching match; and he is
getting the worst of it. (Candida looks quickly round at Morell. Seeing
that he is distressed, she hurries down to him, greatly vexed, speaking
with vigorous reproach to Marchbanks.)

CANDIDA. You have been annoying him. Now I won't have it, Eugene: do
you hear? (Putting her hand on Morell's shoulder, and quite forgetting
her wifely tact in her annoyance.) My boy shall not be worried: I will
protect him.

MORELL (rising proudly). Protect!

CANDIDA (not heeding him--to Eugene). What have you been saying?

MARCHBANKS (appalled). Nothing--

CANDIDA. Eugene! Nothing?

MARCHBANKS (piteously). I mean--I--I'm very sorry. I won't do it again:
indeed I won't. I'll let him alone.

MORELL (indignantly, with an aggressive movement towards Eugene). Let
me alone! You young--

CANDIDA (Stopping him). Sh--no, let me deal with him, James.

MARCHBANKS. Oh, you're not angry with me, are you?

CANDIDA (severely). Yes, I am--very angry. I have a great mind to pack
you out of the house.

MORELL (taken aback by Candida's vigor, and by no means relishing the
sense of being rescued by her from another man). Gently, Candida,
gently. I am able to take care of myself.

CANDIDA (petting him). Yes, dear: of course you are. But you mustn't be
annoyed and made miserable.

MARCHBANKS (almost in tears, turning to the door). I'll go.

CANDIDA. Oh, you needn't go: I can't turn you out at this time of
night. (Vehemently.) Shame on you! For shame!

MARCHBANKS (desperately). But what have I done?

CANDIDA. I know what you have done--as well as if I had been here all
the time. Oh, it was unworthy! You are like a child: you cannot hold
your tongue.

MARCHBANKS. I would die ten times over sooner than give you a moment's

CANDIDA (with infinite contempt for this puerility). Much good your
dying would do me!

MORELL. Candida, my dear: this altercation is hardly quite seemingly.
It is a matter between two men; and I am the right person to settle it.

CANDIDA. Two MEN! Do you call that a man? (To Eugene.) You bad boy!

MARCHBANKS (gathering a whimsically affectionate courage from the
scolding). If I am to be scolded like this, I must make a boy's excuse.
He began it. And he's bigger than I am.

CANDIDA (losing confidence a little as her concern for Morell's dignity
takes the alarm). That can't be true. (To Morell.) You didn't begin it,
James, did you?

MORELL (contemptuously). No.

MARCHBANKS (indignant). Oh!

MORELL (to Eugene). YOU began it--this morning. (Candida, instantly
connecting this with his mysterious allusion in the afternoon to
something told him by Eugene in the morning, looks quickly at him,
wrestling with the enigma. Morell proceeds with the emphasis of
offended superiority.) But your other point is true. I am certainly the
bigger of the two, and, I hope, the stronger, Candida. So you had
better leave the matter in my hands.

CANDIDA (again soothing him). Yes, dear; but--(Troubled.) I don't
understand about this morning.

MORELL (gently snubbing her). You need not understand, my dear.

CANDIDA. But, James, I--(The street bell rings.) Oh, bother! Here they
all come. (She goes out to let them in.)

MARCHBANKS (running to Morell ). Oh, Morell, isn't it dreadful? She's
angry with us: she hates me. What shall I do?

MORELL (with quaint desperation, clutching himself by the hair).
Eugene: my head is spinning round. I shall begin to laugh presently.
(He walks up and down the middle of the room.)

MARCHBANKS (following him anxiously). No, no: she'll think I've thrown
you into hysterics. Don't laugh. (Boisterous voices and laughter are
heard approaching. Lexy Mill, his eyes sparkling, and his bearing
denoting unwonted elevation of spirit, enters with Burgess, who is
greasy and self-complacent, but has all his wits about him. Miss
Garnett, with her smartest hat and jacket on, follows them; but though
her eyes are brighter than before, she is evidently a prey to
misgiving. She places herself with her back to her typewriting table,
with one hand on it to rest herself, passes the other across her
forehead as if she were a little tired and giddy. Marchbanks relapses
into shyness and edges away into the corner near the window, where
Morell's books are.)

MILL (exhilaratedly). Morell: I MUST congratulate you. (Grasping his
hand.) What a noble, splendid, inspired address you gave us! You
surpassed yourself.

BURGESS. So you did, James. It fair kep' me awake to the last word.
Didn't it, Miss Garnett?

PROSERPINE (worriedly). Oh, I wasn't minding you: I was trying to make
notes. (She takes out her note-book, and looks at her stenography,
which nearly makes her cry.)

MORELL. Did I go too fast, Pross?

PROSERPINE. Much too fast. You know I can't do more than a hundred
words a minute. (She relieves her feelings by throwing her note-book
angrily beside her machine, ready for use next morning.)

MORELL (soothingly). Oh, well, well, never mind, never mind, never
mind. Have you all had supper?

LEXY. Mr. Burgess has been kind enough to give us a really splendid
supper at the Belgrave.

BURGESS (with effusive magnanimity). Don't mention it, Mr. Mill.
(Modestly.) You're 'arty welcome to my little treat.

PROSERPINE. We had champagne! I never tasted it before. I feel quite

MORELL (surprised). A champagne supper! That was very handsome. Was it
my eloquence that produced all this extravagance?

MILL (rhetorically). Your eloquence, and Mr. Burgess's goodness of
heart. (With a fresh burst of exhilaration.) And what a very fine
fellow the chairman is, Morell! He came to supper with us.

MORELL (with long drawn significance, looking at Burgess). O-o-o-h, the
chairman. NOW I understand.

(Burgess, covering a lively satisfaction in his diplomatic cunning with
a deprecatory cough, retires to the hearth. Lexy folds his arms and
leans against the cellaret in a high-spirited attitude. Candida comes
in with glasses, lemons, and a jug of hot water on a tray.)

CANDIDA. Who will have some lemonade? You know our rules: total
abstinence. (She puts the tray on the table, and takes up the lemon
squeezers, looking enquiringly round at them.)

MORELL. No use, dear. They've all had champagne. Pross has broken her

CANDIDA (to Proserpine). You don't mean to say you've been drinking

PROSERPINE (stubbornly). Yes, I do. I'm only a beer teetotaller, not a
champagne teetotaller. I don't like beer. Are there any letters for me
to answer, Mr. Morell?

MORELL. No more to-night.

PROSERPINE. Very well. Good-night, everybody.

LEXY (gallantly). Had I not better see you home, Miss Garnett?

PROSERPINE. No, thank you. I shan't trust myself with anybody to-night.
I wish I hadn't taken any of that stuff. (She walks straight out.)

BURGESS (indignantly). Stuff, indeed! That gurl dunno wot champagne is!
Pommery and Greeno at twelve and six a bottle. She took two glasses
a'most straight hoff.

MORELL (a little anxious about her). Go and look after her, Lexy.

LEXY (alarmed). But if she should really be--Suppose she began to sing
in the street, or anything of that sort.

MORELL. Just so: she may. That's why you'd better see her safely home.

CANDIDA. Do, Lexy: there's a good fellow. (She shakes his hand and
pushes him gently to the door.)

LEXY. It's evidently my duty to go. I hope it may not be necessary.
Good-night, Mrs. Morell. (To the rest.) Good-night. (He goes. Candida
shuts the door.)

BURGESS. He was gushin' with hextra piety hisself arter two sips.
People carn't drink like they huseter. (Dismissing the subject and
bustling away from the hearth.) Well, James: it's time to lock up. Mr.
Morchbanks: shall I 'ave the pleasure of your company for a bit of the
way home?

MARCHBANKS (affrightedly). Yes: I'd better go. .(He hurries across to
the door; but Candida places herself before it, barring his way.)

CANDIDA (with quiet authority). You sit down. You're not going yet.

MARCHBANKS (quailing). No: I--I didn't mean to. (He comes back into the
room and sits down abjectly on the sofa.)

CANDIDA. Mr. Marchbanks will stay the night with us, papa.

BURGESS. Oh, well, I'll say good-night. So long, James. (He shakes
hands with Morell and goes on to Eugene.) Make 'em give you a night
light by your bed, Mr. Morchbanks: it'll comfort you if you wake up in
the night with a touch of that complaint of yores. Good-night.

MARCHBANKS. Thank you: I will. Good-night, Mr. Burgess. (They shake
hands and Burgess goes to the door.)

CANDIDA (intercepting Morell, who is following Burgess). Stay here,
dear: I'll put on papa's coat for him. (She goes out with Burgess.)

MARCHBANKS. Morell: there's going to be a terrible scene. Aren't you

MORELL. Not in the least.

MARCHBANKS. I never envied you your courage before. (He rises timidly
and puts his hand appealingly on Morell's forearm.) Stand by me, won't

MORELL (casting him off gently, but resolutely). Each for himself,
Eugene. She must choose between us now. (He goes to the other side of
the room as Candida returns. Eugene sits down again on the sofa like a
guilty schoolboy on his best behaviour.)

CANDIDA (between them, addressing Eugene). Are you sorry?

MARCHBANKS (earnestly). Yes, heartbroken.

CANDIDA. Well, then, you are forgiven. Now go off to bed like a good
little boy: I want to talk to James about you.

MARCHBANKS (rising in great consternation). Oh, I can't do that,
Morell. I must be here. I'll not go away. Tell her.

CANDIDA (with quick suspicion). Tell me what? (His eyes avoid hers
furtively. She turns and mutely transfers the question to Morell.)

MORELL (bracing himself for the catastrophe). I have nothing to tell
her, except (here his voice deepens to a measured and mournful
tenderness) that she is my greatest treasure on earth--if she is really

CANDIDA (coldly, offended by his yielding to his orator's instinct and
treating her as if she were the audience at the Guild of St. Matthew).
I am sure Eugene can say no less, if that is all.

MARCHBANKS (discouraged). Morell: she's laughing at us.

MORELL (with a quick touch of temper). There is nothing to laugh at.
Are you laughing at us, Candida?

CANDIDA (with quiet anger). Eugene is very quick-witted, James. I hope
I am going to laugh; but I am not sure that I am not going to be very
angry. (She goes to the fireplace, and stands there leaning with her
arm on the mantelpiece and her foot on the fender, whilst Eugene steals
to Morell and plucks him by the sleeve.)

MARCHBANKS (whispering). Stop Morell. Don't let us say anything.

MORELL (pushing Eugene away without deigning to look at him). I hope
you don't mean that as a threat, Candida.

CANDIDA (with emphatic warning). Take care, James. Eugene: I asked you
to go. Are you going?

MORELL (putting his foot down). He shall not go. I wish him to remain.

MARCHBANKS. I'll go. I'll do whatever you want. (He turns to the door.)

CANDIDA. Stop! (He obeys.) Didn't you hear James say he wished you to
stay? James is master here. Don't you know that?

MARCHBANKS (flushing with a young poet's rage against tyranny). By what
right is he master?

CANDIDA (quietly). Tell him, James.

MORELL (taken aback). My dear: I don't know of any right that makes me
master. I assert no such right.

CANDIDA (with infinite reproach). You don't know! Oh, James, James! (To
Eugene, musingly.) I wonder do you understand, Eugene! No: you're too
young. Well, I give you leave to stay--to stay and learn. (She comes
away from the hearth and places herself between them.) Now, James:
what's the matter? Come: tell me.

MARCHBANKS (whispering tremulously across to him). Don't.

CANDIDA. Come. Out with it!

MORELL (slowly). I meant to prepare your mind carefully, Candida, so as
to prevent misunderstanding.

CANDIDA. Yes, dear: I am sure you did. But never mind: I shan't

MORELL. Well--er--(He hesitates, unable to find the long explanation
which he supposed to be available.)


MORELL (baldly). Eugene declares that you are in love with him.

MARCHBANKS (frantically). No, no, no, no, never. I did not, Mrs.
Morell: it's not true. I said I loved you, and that he didn't. I said
that I understood you, and that he couldn't. And it was not after what
passed there before the fire that I spoke: it was not, on my word. It
was this morning.

CANDIDA (enlightened). This morning!

MARCHBANKS. Yes. (He looks at her, pleading for credence, and then
adds, simply) That was what was the matter with my collar.

CANDIDA (after a pause; for she does not take in his meaning at once).
His collar! (She turns to Morell, shocked.) Oh, James: did you--(she

MORELL (ashamed). You know, Candida, that I have a temper to struggle
with. And he said (shuddering) that you despised me in your heart.

CANDIDA (turning quickly on Eugene). Did you say that?

MARCHBANKS (terrified). No!

CANDIDA (severely). Then James has just told me a falsehood. Is that
what you mean?

MARCHBANKS. No, no: I--I-- (blurting out the explanation desperately)
--it was David's wife. And it wasn't at home: it was when she saw him
dancing before all the people.

MORELL (taking the cue with a debater's adroitness). Dancing before all
the people, Candida; and thinking he was moving their hearts by his
mission when they were only suffering from--Prossy's complaint. (She is
about to protest: he raises his hand to silence her, exclaiming) Don't
try to look indignant, Candida:--

CANDIDA (interjecting). Try!

MORELL (continuing). Eugene was right. As you told me a few hours
after, he is always right. He said nothing that you did not say far
better yourself. He is the poet, who sees everything; and I am the poor
parson, who understands nothing.

CANDIDA (remorsefully). Do you mind what is said by a foolish boy,
because I said something like it again in jest?

MORELL. That foolish boy can speak with the inspiration of a child and
the cunning of a serpent. He has claimed that you belong to him and not
to me; and, rightly or wrongly, I have come to fear that it may be
true. I will not go about tortured with doubts and suspicions. I will
not live with you and keep a secret from you. I will not suffer the
intolerable degradation of jealousy. We have agreed--he and I--that you
shall choose between us now. I await your decision.

CANDIDA (slowly recoiling a step, her heart hardened by his rhetoric in
spite of the sincere feeling behind it). Oh! I am to choose, am I? I
suppose it is quite settled that I must belong to one or the other.

MORELL (firmly). Quite. You must choose definitely.

MARCHBANKS (anxiously). Morell: you don't understand. She means that
she belongs to herself.

CANDIDA (turning on him). I mean that and a good deal more, Master
Eugene, as you will both find out presently. And pray, my lords and
masters, what have you to offer for my choice? I am up for auction, it
seems. What do you bid, James?

MORELL (reproachfully). Cand-- (He breaks down: his eyes and throat
fill with tears: the orator becomes the wounded animal.) I can't speak--

CANDIDA (impulsively going to him). Ah, dearest--

MARCHBANKS (in wild alarm). Stop: it's not fair. You mustn't show her
that you suffer, Morell. I am on the rack, too; but I am not crying.

MORELL (rallying all his forces). Yes: you are right. It is not for
pity that I am bidding. (He disengages himself from Candida.)

CANDIDA (retreating, chilled). I beg your pardon, James; I did not mean
to touch you. I am waiting to hear your bid.

MORELL (with proud humility). I have nothing to offer you but my
strength for your defence, my honesty of purpose for your surety, my
ability and industry for your livelihood, and my authority and position
for your dignity. That is all it becomes a man to offer to a woman.

CANDIDA (quite quietly). And you, Eugene? What do you offer?

MARCHBANKS. My weakness! my desolation! my heart's need!

CANDIDA (impressed). That's a good bid, Eugene. Now I know how to make
my choice.

She pauses and looks curiously from one to the other, as if weighing
them. Morell, whose lofty confidence has changed into heartbreaking
dread at Eugene's bid, loses all power of concealing his anxiety.
Eugene, strung to the highest tension, does not move a muscle.

MORELL (in a suffocated voice--the appeal bursting from the depths of
his anguish). Candida!

MARCHBANKS (aside, in a flash of contempt). Coward!

CANDIDA (significantly). I give myself to the weaker of the two.

Eugene divines her meaning at once: his face whitens like steel in a
furnace that cannot melt it.

MORELL (bowing his head with the calm of collapse). I accept your
sentence, Candida.

CANDIDA. Do you understand, Eugene?

MARCHBANKS. Oh, I feel I'm lost. He cannot bear the burden.

MORELL (incredulously, raising his bead with prosaic abruptness). Do
you mean, me, Candida?

CANDIDA (smiling a little). Let us sit and talk comfortably over it
like three friends. (To Morell.) Sit down, dear. (Morell takes the
chair from the fireside--the children's chair.) Bring me that chair,
Eugene. (She indicates the easy chair. He fetches it silently, even
with something like cold strength, and places it next Morell, a little
behind him. She sits down. He goes to the sofa and sits there, still
silent and inscrutable. When they are all settled she begins, throwing
a spell of quietness on them by her calm, sane, tender tone.) You
remember what you told me about yourself, Eugene: how nobody has cared
for you since your old nurse died: how those clever, fashionable
sisters and successful brothers of yours were your mother's and
father's pets: how miserable you were at Eton: how your father is
trying to starve you into returning to Oxford: how you have had to live
without comfort or welcome or refuge, always lonely, and nearly always
disliked and misunderstood, poor boy!

MARCHBANKS (faithful to the nobility of his lot). I had my books. I had
Nature. And at last I met you.

CANDIDA. Never mind that just at present. Now I want you to look at
this other boy here--MY boy--spoiled from his cradle. We go once a
fortnight to see his parents. You should come with us, Eugene, and see
the pictures of the hero of that household. James as a baby! the most
wonderful of all babies. James holding his first school prize, won at
the ripe age of eight! James as the captain of his eleven! James in his
first frock coat! James under all sorts of glorious circumstances! You
know how strong he is (I hope he didn't hurt you)--how clever he
is--how happy! (With deepening gravity.) Ask James's mother and his
three sisters what it cost to save James the trouble of doing anything
but be strong and clever and happy. Ask ME what it costs to be James's
mother and three sisters and wife and mother to his children all in
one. Ask Prossy and Maria how troublesome the house is even when we
have no visitors to help us to slice the onions. Ask the tradesmen who
want to worry James and spoil his beautiful sermons who it is that puts
them off. When there is money to give, he gives it: when there is money
to refuse, I refuse it. I build a castle of comfort and indulgence and
love for him, and stand sentinel always to keep little vulgar cares
out. I make him master here, though he does not know it, and could not
tell you a moment ago how it came to be so. (With sweet irony.) And
when he thought I might go away with you, his only anxiety was what
should become of ME! And to tempt me to stay he offered me (leaning
forward to stroke his hair caressingly at each phrase) his strength for
MY defence, his industry for my livelihood, his position for my
dignity, his-- (Relenting.) Ah, I am mixing up your beautiful sentences
and spoiling them, am I not, darling? (She lays her cheek fondly
against his.)

MORELL (quite overcome, kneeling beside her chair and embracing her
with boyish ingenuousness). It's all true, every word. What I am you
have made me with the labor of your hands and the love of your heart!
You are my wife, my mother, my sisters: you are the sum of all loving
care to me.

CANDIDA (in his arms, smiling, to Eugene). Am I YOUR mother and sisters
to you, Eugene?

MARCHBANKS (rising with a fierce gesture of disgust). Ah, never. Out,
then, into the night with me!

CANDIDA (rising quickly and intercepting him). You are not going like
that, Eugene?

MARCHBANKS (with the ring of a man's voice--no longer a boy's--in the
words). I know the hour when it strikes. I am impatient to do what must
be done.

MORELL (rising from his knee, alarmed). Candida: don't let him do
anything rash.

CANDIDA (confident, smiling at Eugene). Oh, there is no fear. He has
learnt to live without happiness.

MARCHBANKS. I no longer desire happiness: life is nobler than that.
Parson James: I give you my happiness with both hands: I love you
because you have filled the heart of the woman I loved. Good-bye. (He
goes towards the door.)

CANDIDA. One last word. (He stops, but without turning to her.) How old
are you, Eugene?

MARCHBANKS. As old as the world now. This morning I was eighteen.

CANDIDA (going to him, and standing behind him with one hand
caressingly on his shoulder). Eighteen! Will you, for my sake, make a
little poem out of the two sentences I am going to say to you? And will
you promise to repeat it to yourself whenever you think of me?

MARCHBANKS (without moving). Say the sentences.

CANDIDA. When I am thirty, she will be forty-five. When I am sixty, she
will be seventy-five.

MARCHBANKS (turning to her). In a hundred years, we shall be the same
age. But I have a better secret than that in my heart. Let me go now.
The night outside grows impatient.

CANDIDA. Good-bye. (She takes his face in her hands; and as he divines
her intention and bends his knee, she kisses his forehead. Then he
flies out into the night. She turns to Morell, holding out her arms to
him.) Ah, James! (They embrace. But they do not know the secret in the
poet's heart.)

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Candida" ***

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