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Title: Michael and His Lost Angel - A Play in Five Acts
Author: Jones, Henry Arthur
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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the University of Toronto, and the University of California.



MICHAEL AND HIS LOST ANGEL

_A PLAY IN FIVE ACTS_

BY

HENRY ARTHUR JONES

AUTHOR OF "THE TEMPTER," "THE CRUSADERS," "THE CASE OF
REBELLIOUS SUSAN," "THE MIDDLEMAN," "THE DANCING
GIRL," "JUDAH," "THE MASQUERADERS," "THE
TRIUMPH OF THE PHILISTINES," ETC.

New York
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
LONDON: MACMILLAN & CO., LTD.
1920

_All rights reserved_



COPYRIGHT, 1895,
BY MACMILLAN AND CO.


Set up and electrotyped. Published May, 1896.

_Norwood Press_
J. S. Cushing & Co.--Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



PREFACE

MICHAEL, though styled by Milton "of celestial armies prince," has
found his sword unequal to the task of combating the well-ordered
hosts of darkness,

     By thousands and by millions ranged for fight.

The author of "Michael and his Lost Angel" seeks accordingly in print
consolation for the rebuffs he has experienced upon the stage. Some
comfort in the midst of defeat may be found in the fact that the gods
themselves fight vainly against prejudice and stupidity. I am not in
the least seeking to set aside the verdict pronounced by the majority
of "experts" upon Mr. Jones's latest play and subsequently accepted if
not ratified by the general public which would not be induced to see
it. All I seek to do is to deal so far as I am able with the adverse
influences to which it succumbed, and to explain why I think it a fine
work and in many respects a triumph.

The misfortunes of "Michael and his Lost Angel" attended, if they did
not anticipate, its conception. Like Marina in Pericles it had at least

     as chiding a nativity

as play has often encountered. Before it saw the light a war had been
waged concerning its name. That the name itself involved as some
seemed to think a gratuitous insult to any form of religious
connection or was even ill chosen I am not prepared to grant. Michael
is not a scriptural character, and his functions, civil and militant,
and his place in the celestial hierarchy are assigned him by
uninspired writers. But for the use made of him in art and by Milton
it is doubtful whether his name would be familiar enough to the
general public to provoke a discussion. A discussion was, however,
provoked and with a portion of those present the verdict was
pronounced before the piece had been given. An opening scene,
meanwhile, in which the very raison-d'être of the play is found, an
indispensable portion of the motive began too soon and was, through
the noise and disturbance caused by late arrivals, practically
unheard. The difficulty thus caused was never quite overcome, and the
nature of Michael Feversham's offence and the value of his expiation
were both partially misunderstood.

That the display of human passions in a sacred edifice and the lavish
use of ecclesiastical ceremonial might cause offence I could have
conceived, had there not been the immediately previous proof of the
success of another play in which the very words of the Inspired
Teacher are used with a background of pagan revelry and a lavish and
superfluous display of nudity of limb. Paul of Tarsus is surely a more
recognisable personage, and one more closely connected with Christian
faith than a nebulous being such as Michael. While, however, the
slight banter in the title of Mr. Jones's play and the reproduction of
the rather florid pageant of the highest Anglican service has in a
work of earnest purpose and masterly execution wounded sensitive
consciences, the presentation as vulgar as inept of a portion of the
holiest mysteries of religion has been received with sacerdotal
benediction as well as with public applause. Foreign opinion
concerning English hypocrisy and prudery finds frequent utterance, and
our witty Gallic neighbours have excogitated a word they believe to be
English and take as the cant phrase of the Briton, _schoking._ We do
at times our best to furnish foreigners with a justification for their
views; and in the present case at least, we have shown our capacity to
"strain at a gnat and swallow a camel."

That the author has overburdened his work with dialogue is shown by
the result, since a play that the public will not have is naturally a
play unsuited to the public.

Some measure of the blame, to my thinking, almost the whole of the
blame, rests with the audience. In seeking to interest his world in a
series of duologues Mr. Jones has credited it with a knowledge of
dramatic art and an interest in psychology it does not possess. His
experiment is analogous to that undertaken in France by the younger
Dumas. A _première_ of Dumas was one of the most fashionable and
intellectual of Parisian "functions." With ears sharpened to acutest
attention the Parisian public listened not only to dialogue thrice as
long as any Mr. Jones has attempted, but also to monologue of the most
didactic kind. In the case of Victor Hugo again there is more than one
soliloquy of length absolutely portentous. These things have never
wearied a public art-loving, theatre-loving, before all appreciative
of literary subtlety and conscious of what are the true springs of
dramatic interest.

At the moment when these lines are written, the London playgoer, not
perhaps of the most fashionable class, receives with delight a scene
in which a hero swims to the rescue of injured innocence, which a
generation ago established the fortunes of a dramatist and a theatre.
I refer, of course, to the Colleen Bawn of Dion Boucicault, which has
once more been revived. The rescue scene in this hit exactly the sense
of the English public and fulfilled its ideal. For a year or two
afterwards the intellect of our dramatists was exercised as to the
means by which virtue imperilled could be rescued, whether by climbing
a tower or swinging by a tree, or by any other contrivance involving
the risk of a broken neck. Those days, happily, are past. We have not,
however, made great progress in our education, and seem yet to have to
learn that the most telling drama is the psychological, and that
dialogue moves us, or should move us, more than incident. Othello, in
some respects the most poignant of tragedies, is nearly all duologue,
the gradual poisoning of the Moor's mind by Iago being one of the most
tremendous scenes ever attempted. The Greeks, the great art-loving
people of antiquity, banished in tragedy all incident from the stage,
and in this respect have been copied by the great school of French
classicists.

So far, without any very direct purpose or intention, I have been
posing, apparently, as the apologist for Mr. Jones's play. Underneath
this, perhaps, some few may have traced a design still less definite
of apologising for the English public. Nothing is further from my
intention than to proffer an excuse for what I regard as a fine and
most moving drama. For myself, I can only say that rarely indeed have
my entrails been stirred by more forcible pathos, my attention been
rapt by more inspiriting a theme, and my intellect been satisfied by
dialogue more natural, appropriate, and, in the highest sense,
dramatic. In one respect, I am disposed at times to agree with some of
Mr. Jones's censors. The logic of events which brings about the scene
in the island is, perhaps, not sufficiently inexorable. That Mrs.
Lesden is, in the eyes of the world, hopelessly compromised when she
spends a night alone on the island with her lover, I will concede. I
can conceive, however, Michael treating her with the more delicacy
therefor, abandoning to her his house, and spending a summer night, no
enormous penalty, in the open air, on the seashore. This, however,
only means that the overmastering influence of passion over Michael
has not been fully exhibited in action.

With Mr. Jones's previous works--with "Judah," "The Crusaders,"
"Saints and Sinners"--"Michael and his Lost Angel" is connected by
strong, albeit not too evident, links. The bent of Mr. Jones's mind,
or the effect of his early environment, seems to force him into
showing the struggle between religious or priestly training, and high
and sincere aspiration, on the one hand, and, on the other, those
influences, half earthly, half divine, of our physical nature, which
sap where they cannot escalade, and, in the highest natures, end
always in victory. There is nothing in Michael Feversham of the
hypocrite, little even of the Puritan. Subject from the outset to
priestly influences, and wedded to theories of asceticism, the more
binding as self-imposed, he has come to look upon the renegation of
the most imperative as well as, in one sense, the holiest functions of
our nature as the condition of moral regeneration. _Sic itur ad
astra._ Crime, generally, he holds as condemnable, but murder and
theft are things aloof from the human nature with which he has to
deal. They are exceptional products of diseased organisations or
untoward surroundings. Not one of his flock that he is conducting
peacefully and unwittingly to Rome, is coming to him to own in
confession to having stolen an umbrella from a rack or a book from a
stall, still less to having slain his enemy on a secret path. Had such
confession been made, it would have been an episode of comparatively
little interest, a mere skirmish in the war he constantly sustains
against the forces of evil. Uncleanness, on the other hand, as he
elects to describe it, is the one offence against the higher life, in
regard to which, whether as concerns inward promptings or outside
manifestation, it behooves him to be ever armed and vigilant.
Accepting this theory, which, though subversive of the highest and
most obvious aims of nature, is still held by a considerable section
of civilised humanity, the conduct of Michael wins a measure of
sympathy. In imposing upon Rose Gibbard the unutterably shameful and
humiliating penance, the nature of which reaches us from the ferocious
Calvinism of the Puritan rather than from the gentler moral discipline
of the Romish church, to which he is hastening, Michael is thoroughly
sincere and conscientious. He believes it the best, nay, the only way
to save her soul and restore her to the self-respect and dignity of
pure womanhood. So much in earnest is he that, when Mrs. Lesden
propounds the theory, which among the virtuous and generous wins
acceptance, that "it is nearly always the good girls who are
betrayed," he resents the utterance as a levity, not to say a
profanity. A character such as this is not only conceivable, it is
well known. There is nothing in its psychology to scare the unthinking
or alarm the vulgar. In the humiliation which Michael is himself
compelled to undergo, I find at once the vindication of a morality
immeasurably higher and more Christian than that taught by any of the
churches, and a soul tragedy of the most harrowing description. My
words will to some appear irreverent. I am sorry, but I cannot help
it. It is not I who said of the woman taken in adultery, "Qui sine
peccato est vestrum, primus in illa lapidem mittat"; and again, "Nec
ego te condemnabo. Vade et jam amplius noli peccare."

That a nature such as that of Michael would be likely to provoke the
curiosity and interest of an Audrie Lesden, few will contest. Vain,
frivolous, passionate, mutinous, sceptical, defeated, unhappy, with
the sweet milk of true womanhood curdled in her breast, Audrie Lesden
sets herself the task of breaking through the defences of this "marble
saint." She succeeds. Under her temptations the icy image thaws. That
she herself thaws also, is a matter of which she scarcely takes
cognisance. In her mood of irritation and defiance what happens to
herself is a matter of comparative indifference. She has abandoned her
positions and called in her reserves, concentrating all her forces for
a combat, in which victory is, if possible, more disastrous than rout.

Let us take then the position. A man resolute as he thinks in the
maintenance of a standard of scarcely possible and wholly undesirable
purity, a woman bent at first in wantonness of spirit upon his
subjugation, but finding as she progresses that her heart is in the
struggle, and that instead of being engaged in a mere sportive
encounter she is playing for her life, her all. Here are the materials
for a tragedy, and a tragedy is the outcome. The idea is happy, the
execution is superb, and the result is a play that must be pronounced
so far Mr. Jones's masterpiece, and that is in effect one of the
worthiest and in the highest sense of the word, putting apart the
financial result and judging only from the standpoint of art, one of
the most successful dramas of the age. For the first time the
dramatist has divested himself of all adventitious aid or support,
swimming boldly and skilfully on the sea of drama. The melodramatic
devices on which he has leant disappear, the sketches of eccentric
character by which he strove to fortify past stories have vanished. A
tale of ill-starred love is told with simple downright earnestness,
simplicity, and good faith. Not a character unnecessary to the action
is introduced, not a word that is superfluous or rhetorical is spoken.
Free from obstruction, unpolluted and undefiled, a limpid stream of
human life and love flows into the ocean of defeat and death.

In some respects the loves of Michael Feversham and Audrie Lesden seem
to take rank with the masterpieces of human passion, if not with Romeo
and Juliet, with Cupid and Psyche, with Paul and Virginia, and shall I
add with Edgar of Ravenswood and Lucy Ashton, at least with Helen and
Paris, Antony and Cleopatra, and Manon Lescaut and the Chevalier des
Grieux. Just enough of fatefulness as well as of human wilfulness is
there to add the crowning grace of tragedy by showing man the sport of
circumstance. Michael dwells on this point and finds "a curious bitter
amusement" in tracing out the sequence of events. "The hundred little
chances, accidents as we call them, that gave us to each other.
Everything I did to avoid you threw me at your feet. I felt myself
beginning to love you. I wrote urgently to Uncle Ned in Italy,
thinking I'd tell him and that he would save me. He came. I couldn't
tell him of you, but his coming kept Withycombe [the boatman] from
getting your telegram. I went to Saint Decuman's to escape from you.
You were moved to come to me. I sent away my own boat to put the sea
between us: and so I imprisoned you with me. Six years ago I used all
my influence to have the new lighthouse built on Saint Margaret's Isle
instead of Saint Decuman's, so that I might keep Saint Decuman's
lonely for myself and prayer. I kept it lonely for myself and you. It
was what we call a chance I didn't go to Saint Margaret's with Andrew
and my uncle. It was what we call a chance that you telegraphed to my
boatman instead of your own. If any one thing had gone differently--"
Even so. In this world, however, "nothing walks with aimless feet" and
the most commonplace and least significant of our actions may have
world-reaching results. "Oh, God bring back yesterday" is the
despairing cry which, since the beginning of time, has been wrung from
human lips.

The scene on the island seems to me admirable in management. I am not
sure that I care for Audrie's confession concerning the conquest of
the heart of "a cherub aged ten," though that leads to the very
humorous illustration of his sister's treason. Michael's own
confession on the other hand of his one flirtation with Nelly, the
tender osculation never repeated, and her farewell words "Good-night,
Mike" serve a distinct purpose in preparing Michael's ultimate
subjugation. "She called you Mike?" says Audrie with some surprise and
more bitterness. He is human then, this austere, ice-bound man only
just beginning to relent to her. His lips, those lips for which she
hungers, have been pressed upon a woman's face, and he has had a boy's
name by which another woman has dared to call him, a name her own lips
tremble to frame. She is long before she does frame it aloud. The idea
of that woman however dwells in her mind, and its full influence and
the extent of her surrender are shown when at what might be quite, and
is almost, the close of the third act she looks back and says, "Listen
to this. Whatever happens, I shall never belong to anybody but you.
You understand? I shall never belong to anybody but you, MIKE." All
this is supreme in tenderness and truthfulness and is the more
dramatic and convincing on account of its simplicity.

So it is throughout the play. There is not a moment when the effort
after rhetorical speech interferes with or mars the downright
earnestness and conviction of the language and the fervour of the
underlying emotion. The love-making so far as we are permitted to see
it is on the woman's side. Hers are the raptures, the reproaches, the
protestations. Only in the moment of supreme difficulty or defeat is
Michael tortured into amorous utterance, and then even it is the idea
of responsibility and possession that weighs upon him. The deed is
done, he belongs to the woman with whom he has sinned, the past is
ineffaceable: no expiation can alter, even if it may atone. He is,
moreover, impenitent in the midst of penitence, fiercely glad,
fiercely happy, in what he has done, ready to face all tribulation,
loss, and reproach, rather than sacrifice the burning, maddening,
joyous knowledge of his guilt. This is the spirit in which love in
strong, austere, unemotional natures manifests itself. "All for love
or the world well lost" is the title Dryden gives his alteration of
Antony and Cleopatra. All for love or heaven well lost is the phrase
Mr. Jones in effect puts into the lips of his Michael, a phrase used
not for the first time, and savouring of blasphemy or sanctity
according to the point of view of the audience.

There are perhaps higher ideals of love. What dramatist or preacher
has said anything finer than the words of the great cavalier lyrist:--

     I could not love thee, dear, so much,
     Loved I not honour more.

One of the best known of the Tudor dramatists, Habington, says:--

          He is but
     A coward lover, whom or death or hell
     Can fright from 's Mistress.

The enormity of Michael's sacrifice, the very unpardonableness of his
offence, constitute the sweetest savour to him as to her. To her it
brings an intoxicating, a delirious triumph, to him a sense how much
he must hug to himself and cherish a possession secured at so fearful
a price.

It is perhaps the distinguishing characteristic of Michael's madness
that the sin once committed is not repented. Landor talks of

     Modesty who when she flies
     Is fled for ever.

This is true of other things beside modesty. Not seldom it is true of
virtue. Sin is our sad portion, let us make the best of it. If we may
not have a "stately pleasure-house" of love, let us get what shelter
we may and at least cling close together while the winds of censure
rebuke and the rains of scandal chill. This is, of course, what Audrie
would suggest. "My beloved is mine and I am his." What matter
concerning other things, what other thing is there to matter? Not so
Michael. Lead me back, he says, to the ways of peace and purity. Let
us march hand in hand to the throne of forgiveness. There is no such
throne, says the moralist and the priest within him. "Can one be
pardoned and retain the offence?" he asks with Claudius, and the
answer extracted from his conscience is a negative. After her death, a
death for which he is, as he knows, mainly responsible, he abandons
all struggle, resigns his volition and his being into the hands of a
church that demands implicit obedience and pardons no questioning of
its decisions and decrees, and taking upon himself monastic vows
enters permanently a cloister.

If this is not according to the present reading of the word "tragedy,"
I know not where tragedy is to be sought. It may be that the subject
is one that cannot with advantage be set before the public with the
fierce and brilliant illumination of stage presentation. Compare
however the method of treatment, earnest, severe, resolute,
unfaltering, with that which was adopted by novelists dealing with
clerical trials and offences of the sort from the time of Diderot to
that of L'Abbé Michon, the reputed author of "La Réligieuse," "Le
Maudit," and other works of the class.

Once more I repeat that "Michael and his Lost Angel" is the best play
Mr. Jones has given the stage and is in the full sense a masterpiece.
It is the work of a man conscious of strength, and sure of the weapons
he employs. Whether the stage will know it again who shall say? It
will at least take rank as literature and in its present shape appeal
to most readers capable of having an independent opinion and clearing
their minds of cant.

From the figures as to the receipts which are published it appears
that a full chance of recording its opinion was scarcely given the
public. On this point I am not prepared to speak. Such rebuff as the
play encountered was, I fear, due to the preconceived attitude of some
representatives of public opinion rather than to any misunderstanding
between Mr. Jones and the public. Mr. Forbes Robertson's performance
of the hero was superb in all respects. The refusal of the part of the
heroine by Mrs. Patrick Campbell, its destined exponent, was so far a
calamity that it fostered the belief that there was something immoral
in the part. In other respects I cannot regard the substitution for
that actress of Miss Marion Terry as a misfortune.

     JOSEPH KNIGHT.

LONDON, 12th February, 1896.



AUTHOR'S NOTE

THIS play was produced at the Lyceum Theatre on the 15th January,
1896, and was withdrawn on the 25th, the management suddenly
announcing the last three nights in the morning papers of the 23d. An
impression has therefore prevailed in the public mind that the piece
was a great financial failure. So far was this from being the case
that the receipts for the first ten nights during which it was played
were more than £100 higher than the receipts for the first ten nights
of my play "The Middleman," which proved so great a financial success
in England and America. The takings during the brief run at the Lyceum
were as follows:--

January 15.   £209   7s.  6d.     January 21.   £ 99   9s.  11d.
    "   16.    128   9    3           "   22.    114  14     4
    "   17.    123  12    3           "   23.    121  18     0
    "   18.    203   5    5           "   24.    146  12     7
    "   20.     99   9    4           "   25.    231   7     0

The great number of sympathetic letters that I have received about the
play and its cordial reception on the later nights of the run show
that it created a deep impression on those who did see it, and
encourage me to hope that I may introduce it again to the English
public under happier auspices.

     HENRY ARTHUR JONES.



PERSONS REPRESENTED.


THE REVEREND MICHAEL FEVERSHAM.

SIR LYOLF FEVERSHAM.

EDWARD LASHMAR (FATHER HILARY).

ANDREW GIBBARD.

THE REVEREND MARK DOCWRAY.

WITHYCOMBE.


AUDRIE LESDEN.

ROSE GIBBARD.

MRS. CANTELO.

FANNY CLOVER.

_Villagers, Congregation, Choristers, Priests._



ACT I.

THE VICARAGE PARLOUR AT CLEVEHEDDON.

(_Four months pass._)


ACT II.

THE SHRINE ON SAINT DECUMAN'S ISLAND.

(_Two nights and a day pass._)


ACT III.

THE VICARAGE PARLOUR AS IN ACT I.

(_A year passes._)


ACT IV.

THE MINSTER CHURCH AT CLEVEHEDDON.

(_Ten months pass._)


ACT V.

RECEPTION ROOM OF THE MONASTERY OF SAN SALVATORE AT MAJANO, ITALY.



ACT I

SCENE.--_The Vicarage parlour at Cleveheddon. An old-fashioned
comfortable room in an old English house. A large window, with low
broad sill, takes up nearly all the back of the stage, showing to the
right a part of Cleveheddon Minster in ruins. To the left a stretch of
West Country landscape. A door, right, leading to house. A fireplace,
right. A door, left. Table with chairs, right. A portrait of MICHAEL'S
mother hangs on wall at a height of about nine feet. It is a very
striking painting of a lady about twenty-eight, very delicate and
spirituelle. Time.--A fine spring morning. Discover at the window,
looking off right, with face turned away from audience, and in an
attitude of strained attention to something outside, ANDREW GIBBARD.
Enter FANNY CLOVER, the vicarage servant, showing in the REVEREND MARK
DOCWRAY, a middle-aged clergyman._

FANNY. Mr. Feversham is over to the church, sir, but he'll be back
directly.

(_Exit._)

MARK. Andrew----

(_ANDREW turns round, an odd, rather seedy, carelessly-dressed man, a
little over forty, rather gaunt, longish hair, an intelligent face
with something slightly sinister about it. He shows signs of great
recent sorrow and distress._)

MARK. Andrew, what is it?

ANDR. I'd rather not tell you, Mr. Docwray.

MARK. Nothing has happened to Mr. Feversham?

ANDR. No.

MARK. Come! Come! What's the matter?

ANDR. My daughter----

MARK. What ails her? Where is she?

ANDR. Over at the church.

MARK. What is she doing?

ANDR. Making a public confession.

MARK. Public confession--of what?

ANDR. You'll be sure to hear all about it, so I may as well tell you
myself. Perhaps it was my fault, perhaps I neglected her. All my time
is given to Mr. Feversham in the library here. While I was buried in
my work, and sometimes staying here half the night with Mr. Feversham,
a scoundrel ruined my girl. Of course my only thought was to hide it.
Was I wrong?

MARK. Go on. Tell me all.

ANDR. Well, right or wrong, I sent her away to the other end of
England. Her child only lived a few weeks. And I brought her back home
thinking it was all hushed up.

MARK. But it became known?

ANDR. Yes. Little by little, things began to leak out. Well, you may
blame me if you like--I lied about it; and the more lies I told, the
more I had to tell to cover them. Mr. Feversham heard of it and
questioned us. Like a fool I lied to him. It wasn't like lying, it was
like murdering the truth to tell lies to him. And she had to lie, too.
Of course he believed us and defended us against everybody. And then
we daredn't tell him the truth.

MARK. Go on. What else?

ANDR. There's nothing else. It all had to come out at last.

MARK. What did Mr. Feversham do?

ANDR. He persuaded us that we could never be right with ourselves, or
right with our neighbours, or right with our God, till we had unsaid
all our lies, and undone our deceit. So we've confessed it this
morning.

MARK. In church? In public?

ANDR. Yes. I wouldn't have minded it for myself. But was it necessary
for her--for Rose? Was it bound to be in public before all her
companions, before all who had watched her grow up from a child?

MARK. You may be sure Mr. Feversham wouldn't have urged it unless he
had felt it to be right and necessary.

ANDR. I wouldn't have done it for anybody else in the world. I feel
almost as if I were quits with him for all his favours to me.

MARK. You mustn't speak like this. Remember all he has done for you.

ANDR. Oh, I don't forget it. I don't forget that I was his scout's
son, and that he educated me and made me his friend and companion and
helper--there isn't a crumb I eat or a thread I wear that I don't owe
to him. I don't forget it. But after this morning, I feel it isn't I
who am in Mr. Feversham's debt--it's he who is in my debt.

(_A penitential hymn, with organ accompaniment, is sung in church
outside._)

ANDR. (_looking off_). It's over. They're coming out.

MARK. Why aren't you there, in church, by her side?

ANDR. I was. I went to church with her. I stood up first and answered
all his questions, and then I stood aside, and it was her turn. I saw
her step forward, and I noticed a little twitch of her lip like her
mother used to have, and then--I couldn't bear it any longer--I came
away. I know it was cowardly, but I couldn't stay. (_Looking off._)
Hark! They're coming! She's coming with the sister who is going to
take her away.

MARK. Take her away?

ANDR. Mr. Feversham thinks it better for her to be away from the
gossip of the village, so he has found a home for her with some
sisters in London. She's going straight off there. Perhaps it's best.
I don't know.

(_ROSE GIBBARD, sobbing, with her face in her hands, passes the window
from right to left, supported by an Anglican sister. The REVEREND
MICHAEL FEVERSHAM follows them and passes window. A crowd of villagers
come up to the window and look in. A moment or two later, ROSE GIBBARD
enters left, supported by the sister. ROSE is a pretty delicate girl
of about twenty, with rather refined features and bearing._)

ANDR. (_holding out his arms to her_). Bear up, my dear. Don't cry! It
breaks my heart to see you.

_Enter the REVEREND MICHAEL FEVERSHAM about forty; pale, strong, calm,
ascetic, scholarly face, with much sweetness and spirituality of
expression; very dignified, gentle manners, calm, strong, persuasive
voice, rarely raised above an ordinary speaking tone. His whole
presence and bearing denote great strength of character, great
dignity, great gentleness, and great self-control._

_The villagers gather round the outside of the window and look in with
mingled curiosity, rudeness, and respect. MICHAEL goes up to left
window, opens it. The villagers draw back a little._

MICH. (_speaking in a very calm voice_). Those of you who are filled
with idle foolish curiosity, come and look in. (_They fall back._)
Those of you who have been moved by the awful lesson of this morning,
go to your homes, ponder it in your hearts, so that all your actions
and all your thoughts from this time forth may be as open as the day,
as clear as crystal, as white as snow.

(_They all go away gradually. MICHAEL comes away from the window,
leaving it open, goes to MARK._)

MICH. Mark! (_Cordial handshake._) You've come to stay, I hope?

MARK. A few days. You have a little business here?

(_Glancing at the group of ROSE, ANDREW, and Sister._)

MICH. It's nearly finished. Leave me with them for a few moments.

MARK. I'll get rid of the dust of my journey and come back to you.

(_Exit MARK. MICHAEL turns towards ROSE with great tenderness._)

MICH. Poor child!

(_She comes towards him with evident effort; the Sister brings a chair
and she sinks into it, sobbing._)

MICH. (_bending over her with great tenderness_). I know what you have
suffered this morning. I would willingly have borne it for you, but
that would not have made reparation to those whom you have deceived,
or given you peace in your own soul. (_She continues sobbing._) Hush!
Hush! All the bitterness is past! Look only to the future! Think of
the happy newness and whiteness of your life from this moment! Think
of the delight of waking in the morning and knowing that you have
nothing to hide! Be sure you have done right to own your sin. There
won't be a softer pillow in England to-night than the one your head
rests upon. (_She becomes quieter. MICHAEL turns to the Sister._)
Watch over her very carefully. Keep her from brooding. Let her be
occupied constantly with work. And write to me very often to tell me
how she is. (_Turns to ROSE._) The carriage is ready. It's time to say
good-bye.

ROSE. Good-bye, sir. Thank you for all your kindness. I've been very
wicked----

MICH. Hush! That is all buried now.

ROSE. Good-bye, father.

(_Throws her arms round ANDREW'S neck, clings to him, sobs
convulsively for some moments in a paroxysm of grief. MICHAEL watches
them for some moments._)

MICH. (_intercepts, gently separates them_). It's more than she can
bear. Say good-bye, and let her go.

ANDR. (_breaking down_). Good-bye, my dear! (_Kissing her._)
Good-bye--I--I--I----

(_Tears himself away, goes up to window, stands back to audience._)

MICH. (_To ROSE._) No more tears! Tears are for evil and sin, and
yours are all past! Write to me and tell me how you get on, and how
you like the work. It will bring you great peace--great peace. Why,
you are comforted already--I think I see one of your old happy smiles
coming. What do you think, sister, isn't that the beginning of a
smile?

SISTER. Yes, sir. I think it is.

ROSE. Good-bye, sir--thank you for all your goodness. I--I----
(_Beginning to sob again._)

MICH. No, no, you are forgetting. I must see a little smile before you
go. Look, Andrew. (_ANDREW turns round._) For your father's sake. When
you have gone you will like him to remember that the last time he saw
your face it wore a smile. That's brave! Good-bye! Good-bye!

(_ROSE with great effort forces a smile and goes off with the Sister.
A moment or two later she is seen to pass the window sobbing in the
Sister's arms._)

ANDR. Look! Oh, sir, was it bound to be in public, before everybody
who knew her?

MICH. Believe me, Andrew, if my own sister, if my own child had been
in your daughter's place, I would have counselled her to act as your
daughter has done.

ANDR. She'll never hold up her head again.

MICH. Would you rather that she held up her head in deceit and
defiance, or that she held it down in grief and penitence? Think what
you and she have endured this last year, the deceit, the agony, the
shame, the guilt!

ANDR. I can't think of anything except her standing up in the church.
I shall never forget it.

MICH. Tell me you know I would willingly have spared you and her if it
had been possible.

ANDR. Then it wasn't possible?

MICH. I have done to you this morning as I would wish to be done by if
I had followed a course of continued deception.

ANDR. Ah, sir, it's easy for you to talk. You aren't likely to be
tempted, so you aren't likely to fall.

MICH. I trust not! I pray God to keep me. But if ever I did, I should
think him my true friend who made me confess and rid my soul of my
guilt. And you think me your true friend, don't you, Andrew? (_Holding
out hand._) Won't you shake hands with me?

(_ANDREW takes MICHAEL'S hand reluctantly, shakes it half-heartedly;
is going off at door._)

MICH. (_calls_). Andrew, it will be very lonely in your own house now
your daughter has gone. Come and live with me here. There is the large
visitors' room. Take it for your own, and make this your home. You
will be nearer to our work, and you will be nearer to me, my friend.

_MARK enters._

MARK (_at door_). Am I interrupting?

MICH. No. Come in. My little talk with Andrew is finished. (_To
ANDREW._) Say you know I have done what is right and best for you and
her.

ANDR. You've done what you thought was best for us, sir. I've never
doubted that. I can't see anything straight or clear this morning.

(_Exit._)

MARK. You've had a painful business here?

MICH. Terrible! But I was bound to go through with it. The whole
village was talking of it. I believed in her innocence and defended
her to the last. So when the truth came out I daren't hush it up. I
should have been accused of hiding sin in my own household. But that
poor child! My heart bled for her! Don't let us speak any more of it.
Tell me about yourself and the work in London.

MARK. You must come and join us there.

(_MICHAEL shakes his head._)

MICH. I couldn't live there. Every time I go up for a day or two I
come back more and more sickened and frightened and disheartened.
Besides, you forget my Eastern studies. They are my real work. I
couldn't pursue them in the hurry and fever of London.

MARK. How are you getting on with the Arabic translations?

MICH. Slowly but surely. Andrew is invaluable to me. In spite of his
bringing up, he has the true instincts of the scholar.

MARK. Well, you know best. But we want you in London. You'd soon raise
the funds for restoring the Minster.

MICH. (_shakes his head_). I can't go round with the hat.

MARK. How's the work getting on?

MICH. Very slowly. I'm afraid I shall never live to finish it. By the
bye, I received fifty pounds anonymously only yesterday.

MARK. Have you any idea where it came from?

MICH. No. The Bank advised me that it had been paid to my credit by a
reader of my "Hidden Life," who desired to remain anonymous.

MARK. The book is having an enormous influence. Nothing else is talked
about. And it has gained you one very rich proselyte--this Mrs.
Lesden. She's living here, isn't she?

MICH. Yes. Curious woman----

MARK. Have you seen much of her?

MICH. I called, of course. I've met her once or twice at dinner. She
has called here three or four times, and wasted several good hours for
me.

MARK. How wasted?

MICH. Kept me from my work. I wish the woman would take herself back
to London.

MARK. Why?

MICH. Her frivolity and insincerity repel me. No--not insincerity. I
recall that. For she said one or two things that seemed to show a vein
of true, deep feeling. But on the whole I dislike her--I think I
dislike her very much.

MARK. Why?

MICH. She comes regularly to church----

MARK. Surely there's no very great harm in that----

MICH. No; but I don't know whether she's mocking, or criticising, or
worshipping; or whether she's merely bored, and thinking that my
surplice is not enough starched, or starched too much.

MARK. She's very rich, and would be an immense help to our movement. I
should try and cultivate her.

MICH. I can't cultivate people. What do you think of her?

MARK. A very clever society woman, all the more clever that she was
not born in society.

MICH. What do you know of her?

MARK. Merely what I wrote you in my letter. That she was the only
daughter of an Australian millionaire. Her great-grandfather, I
believe, was an Australian convict. She was sent to England to be
educated, went back to Australia, married, lost her husband and
father, came back to England a widow, took a house in Mayfair,
entertained largely, gave largely to charities, read your book, "The
Hidden Life," came down to see the country round here, made up her
mind to live here, and wanted an introduction to you--which I gave
her.

_Enter FANNY, announcing SIR LYOLF FEVERSHAM, an English country
gentleman, about sixty-five, a little old-fashioned in manners and
dress. Exit FANNY._

SIR LYOLF. Michael--Mr. Docwray! Glad to see you. You're talking
business, or rather religion, which is your business. Am I in the way?

MICH. No, we're not talking business. We're discussing a woman.

SIR LYOLF. Aren't women nine-tenths of a parson's business? (_MICHAEL
looks a little shocked._) Excuse me, my dear boy. (_To MARK._) I quite
believe in all Michael is doing. I accept all his new doctrines, I'm
prepared to go all lengths with him, on condition that I indulge the
latent old Adam in me with an occasional mild joke at his expense. But
(_with great feeling_) he knows how proud I am of him, and how
thankful I am to God for having given me a son who is shaping
religious thought throughout England to-day, and who (_with a change
to sly humour_) will never be a bishop--not even an archdeacon--I
don't believe he'll be so much as a rural dean. What about this woman
you were discussing? I'll bet--(_coughs himself up_)--I should say,
I'll wager--(_MICHAEL looks shocked, SIR LYOLF shrugs his shoulders at
MARK, proceeds in a firm voice_)--without staking anything, I will
wager I know who the lady is--Mrs. Lesden? Am I right?

MICH. Yes.

SIR LYOLF. Well, I haven't heard your opinion of her. But I'll give
you mine--without prejudice--(_with emphasis_) very queer lot.

MARK. Michael had just said she was a curious creature.

MICH. I don't understand her.

SIR LYOLF. When you don't understand a woman, depend upon it there's
something not quite right about her.

MICH. She seems to have immense possibilities of good and evil.

SIR LYOLF. Nonsense. There are all sorts of men, but, believe me,
there are only two sorts of women--good and bad.

MICH. You can't divide women into two classes like that.

SIR LYOLF. But I do--sheep and goats. Sheep on the right hand--goats
on the left.

MICH. (_shaking his head_). Women's characters have greater subtlety
than you suppose.

SIR LYOLF. Subtlety is the big cant word of our age. Depend upon it,
there's nothing in subtlety. It either means hair-splitting or it
means downright evil. The devil was the first subtle character we meet
with in history.

MICH. And he has still something to do with the shaping of character
in this world.

SIR LYOLF. I don't doubt it. And I think he has very likely something
to do with the shaping of Mrs. Lesden's.

MICH. Hasn't he something to do with the shaping of all our
characters? Don't all our souls swing continually between heaven and
hell?

SIR LYOLF. Well, the woman whose soul swings continually between
heaven and hell is not the woman whom I would choose to sit at my
fireside or take the head of my table. Though I don't say I wouldn't
ask her to dinner occasionally. That reminds me, how long are you
staying, Mr. Docwray?

MARK. Only till Friday.

SIR LYOLF. You'll dine with me to-morrow evening?

MARK. Delighted.

SIR LYOLF. You too, Michael. I'll ask the Standerwicks, and
(_suddenly_) suppose I ask this lady?

MICH. Mrs. Lesden? I would rather you didn't.

SIR LYOLF. Why not? If her soul is swinging between heaven and hell,
it would only be kind of you to give it a jog towards heaven.

MICH. Very well--ask her. But I would rather you didn't speak lightly
of----

SIR LYOLF. Of her soul?

MICH. Of anyone's soul?

SIR LYOLF. I won't--even of a woman's. But I wish they wouldn't swing
about. Women's souls oughtn't to swing anywhere, except towards
heaven. Ah, Michael, you must let me have my fling. Remember when I
was a boy, religion was a very simple, easy-going affair.
Parson--clerk--old three-decker pulpit--village choir. What a village
choir! I suppose it was all wrong--but they were very comfortable old
days.

MICH. Religion is not simple--or easy-going.

SIR LYOLF. No. Subtlety again. I want a plain "yes" or "no," a plain
black or white, a plain right or wrong, and none of our teachers or
preachers is prepared to give it to me. Oh dear! This world has grown
too subtle for me! I'll step over to Island House and ask Mrs. Lesden
to dinner to-morrow.

MARK. I'll come with you and pay my respects to her. You don't mind,
Michael?

MICH. Not at all. I want to set Andrew to work at once to keep him
from dwelling on his trouble.

SIR LYOLF. I didn't come to the church this morning. I felt it would
be too painful. (_Glancing up at portrait._) What would she have said
about it?

MICH. I think she approves what I have done.

SIR LYOLF (_looks at portrait, sighs, turns away_). Come, Mr. Docwray.
I can't say I like this Mrs. Lesden of yours--I wonder why I'm going
to ask her to dinner.

(_Exit._)

MARK (_who has been looking intently at portrait_). What a wonderful
portrait that is of your mother! It seems as if she were alive!

MICH. She is.

(_Exit MARK after SIR LYOLF._)

MICH. (_goes up steps, takes portrait into his hand_). Yes, I have
acted faithfully to my people, have I not? Whisper to me that I have
done right to restore to this wandering father and child the blessing
of a transparent life, a life without secrecy and without guile!
Whisper to me that in this morning's work I have done what is well
pleasing to my God and to you.

_AUDRIE LESDEN, about thirty, in a very fashionable morning dress,
enters at back of window in the opposite direction to that in which
SIR LYOLF and MARK have gone off. At first she seems to be watching
them off. When she gets to the open window, she turns and sees MICHAEL
with the portrait in his hand. MICHAEL very reverently kisses the
portrait and places it on table; as he does so he sees her._

MICH. Mrs. Lesden!

AUDR. Wasn't that Sir Lyolf who just went out?

MICH. Yes. I'll call him back----

AUDR. Please don't.

MICH. But he wishes to speak to you.

AUDR. I don't wish to speak to him.

MICH. Why not?

AUDR. I wish to speak to you.

MICH. About what?

AUDR. About my soul, about your soul, and about other people's souls.
(_Leaning a little in at the window. He remains silent, and reserved.
All through the early part of the scene his demeanour is cold,
constrained, and a little impatient. A pause._) I know you make it a
rule always to see people about their souls.

MICH. (_very coldly_). If they are really in need of spiritual advice.

AUDR. I think I'm in need of spiritual advice. (_A pause. He stands
cold, irresponsive._) Did you see me in church?

MICH. Yes.

AUDR. The whole thing was delightfully novel. (_He frowns._) Do you
mean to repeat this morning's scene?

MICH. Scene?

AUDR. It was a "scene," you know. I felt terribly distressed for the
poor girl. And yet I envied her.

MICH. Envied her?

AUDR. (_leaning a little more in at the window_). You must allow she
was the heroine of the occasion, though you were certainly very
impressive yourself, and did your part very well. Still, after all,
it's the man who is to be hanged who is the central figure in the
proceedings. And the poor little creature looked exquisitely pathetic
and graceful, and so sweetly innocent--quite good enough to go to
heaven right away, I thought. A Sunday-school teacher told me once
that it is nearly always the good girls who are betrayed. Is that so?

MICH. (_coldly_). You came to speak to me about yourself.

AUDR. So I did. Do you know when I saw that girl standing there and
looking so interesting, I felt I wouldn't mind making a public
confession myself--if you thought it would benefit the parish--and if
you would allow me to wear a special dress for the occasion?

(_MICHAEL turns round quickly as if about to speak angrily to her,
stops, remains silent._)

AUDR. (_musingly_). I suppose one couldn't confess in anything except
black or white. It couldn't be done in red or yellow--or blue. Pale
grey might do. (_Pause._) What do you think?

(_MICHAEL does not reply._)

AUDR. (_leaning a little more in at the window, in a much lower and
subtler tone_). Don't you find it an exquisite pleasure to feel your
sense of power over your people, especially over us poor women?

MICH. When you come to me you are neither man nor woman--you are only
a soul in sin and distress.

AUDR. Oh, no! I won't be an "it." I insist on being a woman, though I
don't mind _having_ a soul--and in sin and distress, too. And I would
save it--only I always think it's such a selfish piece of business,
saving one's soul,--don't you?--so unkind to all one's neighbours?
(_He stands half-bored, half-angry. A little pause._) Do you know what
I was thinking in church this morning?

MICH. No.

AUDR. I was comparing the delights of three different
professions,--the soldier's, the doctor's, and the priest's. What a
glorious joy it must be to ride to meet a man who is riding to kill
you--_and to kill him!_ But I'd rather be a doctor, and play with life
and death. To have a man in your power, to see him lying tossing on
his bed, and to think, "This may cure him, or it may kill him. Shall I
risk it? At any rate, if he dies, I shall have learnt so much. I will
risk it! And--he dies--No, he lives! I've saved him." Wouldn't you
like to be a doctor?

MICH. No.

AUDR. That's because you know what far greater joy it is to be a
priest. (_He turns very angrily._) To play with people's souls----

MICH. Play!

AUDR. You do play with our souls, don't you? They're in your hands. To
think, "This man, or, say, this woman, has an immortal soul. She is
vain, silly, deceitful, foolish, perhaps wicked, perhaps horribly
wicked. She'll lose her soul and be eternally lost. But if I were to
struggle with her for it, rebuke her, teach her, plead with her,
entreat her, guide her--who knows--she's not wholly bad--I might save
her? Is she worth saving? The worse she is, the greater will be my
reward and honour for having saved her. Shall I do it? This woman's
soul is in my keeping! I can choose for her eternal life or eternal
death. What shall I do? Shall I save her, or let her be lost?"

MICH. (_comes eagerly to the window_). Do you mean that?

AUDR. Mean what?

MICH. That your soul is in my keeping?

AUDR. Not at all. I meant nothing except that thoughts like these must
constantly stray through a priest's mind. Don't they? (_Long pause._)
Why don't you speak?

MICH. (_cold, stern_). I have nothing to say.

(_Pause._)

AUDR. (_taking out purse, taking out two notes_). Oh! I was
forgetting--I've brought you a little contribution for the restoration
of your Minster.

(_Putting notes on window-sill. MICHAEL stands cold, angry._)

AUDR. Won't you take it?

MICH. Thank you. No.

AUDR. I think you're a little rude to me. I came as a heart-stricken
penitent; you wouldn't accept me in that character. Then I came as a
pious donor. You wouldn't accept me in that. You've kept me outside
here--you haven't even asked me in.

MICH. (_very sternly_). Come in! (_She looks up, uncertain as to his
intentions._) (_Same cold, stern voice._) Please to come in. That
way--the outer door is open.

(_She goes off, he goes to door left, opens it, she comes in._)

MICH. (_the moment she has entered closes door decisively, then turns
round on her very sternly_). What brings you to this village, to my
church, to my house? Why are you here? Come to me as a penitent, and I
will try to give you peace! Come to me as a woman of the world, and I
will tell you "The friendship of the world is enmity with God. It
always has been so, it always will be. The Church has no need of you,
of your pretended devotions, of your gifts, of your presence at her
services. Go your way back to the world, and leave her alone." But you
come neither as a penitent, nor as a woman of the world. You come
like--like some bad angel, to mock, and hint, and question, and
suggest. How dare you play with sacred things? How dare you?!

AUDR. (_very low, quiet, amused voice_). I do not think it seemly or
becoming in a clergyman to give way to temper. If anyone had asked me
I should have said it was impossible in you.

(_He stands stern, cold, repellent._)

_Enter ANDREW._

MICH. What is it, Andrew?

ANDR. I thought you were disengaged. (_Going._)

MICH. So I am. I'll come to you at once.

(_Exit ANDREW._)

MICH. (_to AUDRIE_). You are right. It is unseemly to give way to
temper, and perhaps you won't think me rude if I guard myself against
it in future by asking you not to call upon me until I can be of real
service to you. Good morning.

AUDR. Mr. Feversham, Mr. Feversham. (_MICHAEL turns._) I've been very
rude and troublesome. I beg your pardon. Please forgive me.

MICH. Certainly. Pray say no more.

AUDR. I saw you kissing that portrait as I stood at the window. It is
your mother?

MICH. Yes.

AUDR. What a good woman she must have been! Don't think because I am
bad----

MICH. Are you bad?

AUDR. Didn't you say I was? I don't know whether I'm bad or good, but
I know that no woman longs to be good more than I do--sometimes.

MICH. Do you indeed?

AUDR. (_impulsively_). Let me kiss that portrait!

(_Leaning forward to do it._)

MICH. (_peremptorily_). No.

(_Intercepts and stops her._)

AUDR. Why not?

MICH. I'd rather you didn't.

AUDR. You don't think I'm good enough.

MICH. I cannot allow you.

AUDR. Who painted it?

MICH. A young Italian. My mother's brother is a Catholic priest, and
at that time he was living at Rome. My mother went there for her
health when I was three years old. This young Italian saw her and
asked permission to paint her. She came home and died of consumption.
Then my uncle sent this portrait to my father with the news that the
young painter had also died of consumption.

AUDR. How strange! And you've had it ever since?

MICH. I was only a child when it came. I fell into the habit of saying
my prayers before it. So when I first left home my father gave it to
me; it has been with me ever since, at Eton, and Oxford, and in my
different curacies.

AUDR. Won't you let me kiss it before I go?

(_Leaning towards it._)

MICH. (_preventing her_). I'd rather you did not.

AUDR. Why not?

MICH. I have a strange belief about that picture. I'll hang it up.

AUDR. (_a little intercepting him_). No. Let me look at it. Let me
hold it in my hands. I won't kiss it without your permission. (_She
takes it and looks at it intently._) Tell me--what is your strange
belief about it?

MICH. My mother was a deeply religious woman, and before my birth she
consecrated me to this service as Hannah consecrated Samuel. When she
was dying she said to me, "I'm not leaving you. I shall watch over you
every moment of your life. There's not a word, or a deed, or a thought
of yours but I shall know it. You won't see me, but I shall be very
near you. Sometimes my hands will be upon your head, but you won't
know it; sometimes my arms will be round you, but you won't feel them;
sometimes my lips will be on your face, but you won't know that I have
kissed you. Remember you are watched by the dead."

AUDR. And you believe that you are watched by the dead?

MICH. Yes.

AUDR. And that she is with us now--in this room?

MICH. Yes.

AUDR. She is your good angel.

MICH. She is my good angel.

AUDR. I can understand why you did not wish me to kiss her.

(_MICHAEL makes a movement to take the picture._)

AUDR. (_retains it_). No. Yes, I feel she must be in this room.

MICH. Why?

AUDR. I was full of silly wicked thoughts when I came--she has taken
them away.

MICH. Ah, if I dared hope that you would really change!

AUDR. Perhaps I will. (_Very imploringly._) Do let me kiss this sweet
face.

(_Pause._)

MICH. No--at least not now, not yet. Please give it back to me. (_He
takes it._) I'll hang it up. (_He takes it to steps._) Will you hold
it for a moment?

(_She comes to steps, holds it while he mounts, gives it to him._)

AUDR. What a wonderful thought that is, that we are watched by the
dead. It never occurred to me before. I wonder what a spirit is like?
(_He hangs up the picture._) Now she is quite out of my reach. (_He
comes down steps._) Won't you take that money for rebuilding the
Minster! It's there on the window-sill. (_He goes and takes it._)
Thank you.

MICH. Thank you.

AUDR. Then I'm not to call again? Not even about my soul?

MICH. I'm going over to the Island for some time, and shall only be
back on Sundays.

AUDR. Saint Decuman's Island. You've built yourself a house over
there, haven't you?

MICH. The shrine was neglected and decayed. I restored it and built
myself a couple of rooms round it. I've a few books, and just food and
drink. I go over there sometimes for work and meditation.

AUDR. And yours is the only house on the island?

MICH. Yes.

AUDR. Isn't it awfully lonely there?

MICH. (_glancing at picture_). I'm never alone.

AUDR. No, you have your millions and millions of good and bad angels,
besides hundreds of cheap excursionists.

MICH. Yes, in the summer, but they only stay a few hours.

AUDR. I can see the smoke from your chimney quite plainly in the
evening from my drawing-room windows. How far is it across?

MICH. About four miles.

AUDR. I shall get Hannaford to row me over some day. Don't look
alarmed. I won't come when you are there. I should frighten all your
good angels away. (_MICHAEL shows a little impatience._) You want to
get rid of me. (_Going, suddenly turns._) If I come to you as a
penitent, you won't send me away?

MICH. Not if I can be of service to you.

AUDR. I seem to have changed my nature since I came into this room.

MICH. How?

AUDR. I don't know. I wonder how many natures I have and how often I
can change them.

MICH. I wish you wouldn't speak like that.

AUDR. I won't. (_Very seriously._) You said just now that I was
playing with sacred things. I am, or I was until you spoke about her.
(_With warning._) Don't let me play with your soul.

MICH. I don't understand you.

AUDR. You may do me good, but I am far more likely to do you harm.

MICH. How?

AUDR. I'm not nearly so good a woman as you are a man.

MICH. But perhaps I may influence you for good.

AUDR. Do you think that you can have any influence on my soul without
my having an equal influence on yours?

MICH. Action and re-action are equal and opposite. You think that law
prevails in the spiritual world as well as in the material world?

AUDR. I'm sure it does. So let me go.

MICH. (_suddenly, with great feeling_). Oh, if I could save you!

AUDR. You can if you will. I would try so hard if you would only help
me. But you don't believe that I can.

MICH. What makes you say that?

AUDR. You called me a bad angel--and you don't think me good enough to
kiss her. (_Sidling up to the steps; he makes a deprecating movement
to prevent her, but she takes no notice._) If you knew it would give
me a splendid impulse to goodness, would you refuse me? (_She watches
him very closely; he watches her, half deprecating, half consenting;
she goes up a step or two; he again makes a deprecating gesture, but
does not stop her._) Can't you see what an awful effect it would have
on me if you thought me worthy to be in the company of your good
angel? It would be almost a sacrament! (_Going up steps. He makes a
stronger gesture of deprecation._) Ah, you think I'm not worthy----

MICH. No, no----

AUDR. (_on top of steps, very seductively_). Do save me. I'm worth
saving. (_Whispers._) I may kiss her? I may? I may? (_He does not
reply. She very reverently takes the picture from the wall, turns
round, kisses it reverently, hangs it up again, comes down slowly to
him._) Your bad angel has kissed your good angel. (_A mock curtsey to
him._)

(_Exit softly. MICHAEL stands troubled._)

CURTAIN.

(_Four months pass between Acts I. and II._)



ACT II

SCENE.--_The Shrine on Saint Decuman's Island in the Bristol Channel.
A living room built round the shrine of the Saint, a fine piece of
decayed Decorated Gothic now in the back wall of the room. A large
fireplace down right. A door above fireplace. A door left; two
windows, one on each side of the shrine, show the sea with the horizon
line and the sky above. A bookcase; a table; old oaken panelling,
about seven feet high, all round the room, and above them white-washed
walls. Red brick floor. Everything very rude and simple, and yet
tasteful, as if it had been done by the village mason and carpenter
under MICHAEL'S direction. Time, a September evening. Discover ANDREW
GIBBARD packing a portmanteau, and EDWARD LASHMAR (FATHER HILARY), a
Catholic priest, about sixty, very dignified and refined. Enter
WITHYCOMBE, an old boatman._

WITHY. Now, gentlemen, if yu'me ready to start! If yu daunt come sune,
us shall lose the tide down.

FATHER H. I'm quite ready, Withycombe, as soon as I have said
"Good-bye" to Mr. Feversham.

WITHY. Mr. Feversham ain't coming along with us, then?

ANDR. No, he stays on the island all the week, and you are to fetch
him on Saturday morning.

WITHY. Saturday morning. To-day's Wednesday. Right you are. Well and
good. Saturday morning. Yu'me coming on to Saint Margaret's along with
us, Mr. Gibbard?

ANDR. Yes--we can find some accommodation there for the night, can't
we?

WITHY. Well, I warn ye 'tis rough.

FATHER H. Rougher than my Master had on his first coming here?

WITHY. Well, I waun't say that, but so fur as I can judge 'tis about
as rough.

FATHER H. Then it will do for me. Where is Mr. Feversham?

WITHY. A few minutes agone he wor watching the excursion steamer back
to Lowburnham.

FATHER H. Will you find him and tell him that I am waiting to start?

WITHY. Right you are, sir. Well and good.

(_Exit._)

FATHER H. Andrew--have you noticed any change in Mr. Feversham lately?

ANDR. Change, Father?

FATHER H. He seems so restless and disturbed, so unlike himself.

ANDR. Does he?

FATHER H. It's six years since I was in England. But he was always so
calm and concentrated. Has he any trouble, do you know?

ANDR. He hasn't spoken of any.

FATHER H. No. But you're with him constantly. Surely you must have
seen the difference in him?

ANDR. Yes. He has changed.

FATHER H. How long has he been like this?

ANDR. The last four months.

FATHER H. Do you know of any reason for it?

ANDR. He's coming!

_Enter MICHAEL._

MICH. You're ready to start, Uncle Ned?

FATHER H. Yes. You won't change your mind and come with us?

MICH. No, I must stay here. (_Glancing at books, restlessly._) I want
to be alone. I couldn't be of any service to you over at Saint
Margaret's?

FATHER H. There is the legend that connects her with Saint Decuman--I
suppose no more is to be learnt of that than we already know?

MICH. No. The fisher people only know what they have learnt from the
guide books.

ANDR. (_standing with portmanteau_). Have you anything more to take to
the boat, Father?

FATHER H. No, that's all, Andrew.

ANDR. Then I'll take it down and wait for you there.

(_Exit ANDREW with portmanteau._)

FATHER H. Then this is good-bye, Michael?

MICH. Unless you'll stay over the Sunday at Cleveheddon?

FATHER H. No, I've done my work in England, and I must be back among
my people. I wanted to see the shrines on these two sister islands
again before I died. I shall leave Saint Margaret's to-morrow morning,
get back to Cleveheddon, take the afternoon train up to London, and
leave for Italy on Friday morning. You'll come and see me at Majano?

MICH. When I can.

FATHER H. This winter?

MICH. No, not this winter. I shall be at work at once on the
restorations now I've got all the money.

FATHER H. Strange that it should all come so soon within two or three
months.

MICH. Yes, and from such different quarters of England--a thousand one
day from Manchester--five hundred the next from some unheard-of
village--and then the last great final gift last week.

FATHER H. It looks as if it all came from one giver?

MICH. Yes, I had thought that.

FATHER H. You don't know of any one?

MICH. I've one or two suspicions. However, the great fact is that I
have it all, and can set my architects to work.

FATHER H. Michael--I was asking Andrew just now, there is something
troubling you?

MICH. No--no. What makes you think that?

FATHER H. You are not yourself. (_Pause._) Is it anything where I can
be of help?

MICH. There is nothing. (_Pause._) There has been something. But it is
past. (_FATHER HILARY looks grave._) You need have no fear for me.

(_Holding out hand._)

FATHER H. (_takes his hand, holds it for a long while, looks gravely
at him_). If you should ever need a deeper peace than you can find
within or around you, come to me in Italy.

MICH. But I am at peace now. (_Restlessly, pushing his hand through
hair, then a little querulously._) I am at peace now. (_FATHER HILARY
shakes his head._) You think you can give me that deeper peace?

FATHER H. I know I can.

MICH. I may come to you some day.

(_WITHYCOMBE puts his head in at door._)

WITHY. Now, sir, if yu plaise, we'me losing the tide--us shan't get to
Margaret's avore supper-time.

FATHER H. I'm coming, Withycombe.

MICH. Withycombe, you'll come and fetch me on Saturday morning.

WITHY. Saturday morning, twelve o'clock sharp, I'm here. Right you
are, Mr. Feversham. Well and good.

(_Exit._)

FATHER H. Good-bye.

MICH. Good-bye, Uncle Ned.

(_Very hearty hand-shake. Exit FATHER HILARY. MICHAEL goes to door,
stands looking a few seconds, comes in, turns to his books._)

_Re-enter FATHER HILARY._

MICH. What is it?

FATHER H. I don't like leaving you. Come with me to-night to
Margaret's.

MICH. Shall I? Perhaps it would be best--Wait a minute.

WITHY. (_voice heard of_). Now, Mr. Lashmar, if you plaise, sir--we'me
losing the tide.

MICH. Don't wait, I'm safe here. Good-bye.

FATHER H. (_slowly and regretfully_). Good-bye.

(_Exit slowly. MICHAEL watches FATHER HILARY off; stays at door for
some time, waves his hand, then closes door._)

MICH. Now I shall be at peace! (_Takes out letter from his pocket._)
Her letter! I will not read it! (_Puts it back in pocket, kneels and
lights the fire._) Why did you come into my life? I did not seek you!
You came unbidden, and before I was aware of it you had unlocked the
holiest places of my heart. Your skirts have swept through all the
gateways of my being. There is a fragrance of you in every cranny of
me. You possess me! (_Rises._) No! No! No! I will not yield to you!
(_Takes up book, seats himself at fire, reads a moment or two._) You
are there in the fire! Your image plays in the shadows--Oh, my light
and my fire, will you burn me up with love for you? (_Rises, sighs._)
I'm mad! (_Pause, very resolutely._) I will be master of myself--I
will be servant to none save my work and my God! (_Seats himself
resolutely, reads a moment or two, then drops book on knees._) The
wind that blows round here may perhaps play round her brow, the very
breath that met my lips as I stood at the door may meet hers on the
shore yonder. (_Rises, flings book on table, goes to window; takes out
letter again, holds it undecidedly._) Why shouldn't I read it? Every
stroke of it is graven on my heart.--(_Opens it._) "Dear keeper of
souls in this parish, I have thought so much of our talk last night.
I'm inclined to think that I have a soul after all, but it is a most
uncomfortable possession. I believe if someone gave me an enormous
impulse I might make a saint or a martyr, or anything that's divine.
And I believe there is one man living who could give me that impulse."
"One man living who could give me that impulse--" "But I hope he
won't. Frankly, you may save me at too great cost to yourself. So
trouble yourself no further about me. But if after this, you still
think my wandering, dangling soul worth a moment of your ghostly care,
come and lunch with me to-morrow, and I will give you the sweet plain
butter-cakes that you love, on the old blue china. And that our
salvation may not be too easy, I will tempt you with one sip of the
ancient Johannisburg." And I went--yes, I went. "But for your own
sake--I speak with all a woman's care for your earthly and heavenly
welfare--I would rather you did not come. Let it be so. Let this be
farewell. Perhaps our souls may salute each other in aimless vacancy
hereafter, and I will smile as sweet a smile as I can without lips or
cheeks to smile with, when I remember as I pass you in the shades that
I saved you from your bad angel, Audrie Lesden. P.S. Be wise and let
me go." I cannot! I cannot! Yet if I do not--what remains for me?
Torture, hopeless love, neglected duty, work cast aside and spoilt,
all my life disordered and wrecked. Oh, if I could be wise--I will! I
will tear out this last one dear sweet thought of her. (_Goes to fire,
tears up the letter in little pieces, watches them burn._) It's done!
I've conquered! Now I shall be at peace.

(_Sits himself resolutely at table, reads. A little tap at the door,
he shows surprise; the tap is repeated, he rises, goes to door, opens
it. At that moment AUDRIE'S face appears at the right-hand window for
a moment. He looks out, stays there a moment or two, closes door,
seats himself again at table, reads. The tap is repeated; he rises,
AUDRIE appears at door, he shows a moment of intense delight which he
quickly subdues._)

AUDR. May I come in? (_Pause._) You are busy--I'll go--

MICH. No--(_She stops on threshold._) Come in.

_She enters. He stands motionless at table. Sunset without. It
gradually grows darker._

MICH. What brings you here?

AUDR. You did not expect me. You aren't accustomed to entertain angels
unawares--even bad ones.

MICH. (_his voice thick and a little hoarse_). Your boat, your
companions?

AUDR. I have no boat, and no companions.

MICH. (_horrified, delighted_). You're alone?

AUDR. Quite alone.

MICH. How did you come here?

AUDR. By the simplest and most prosaic means in the world. This
morning I took the train to Lowburnham to do some shopping. As I was
coming back to the station, a boy put this little handbill into my
hand. (_Showing a little yellow handbill._) Afternoon excursion to
Saint Decuman's and Saint Margaret's Isles. I had an impulse--I obeyed
it. I telegraphed to Cleveheddon for a boat to meet me here at
six--(_takes out watch_)--it only wants ten minutes--and took the
excursion steamer. They all landed here for half-an-hour. I hid myself
till after the steamer had gone. Then I came up here to your cottage.
I heard some voices, so I hid again--who was here?

MICH. Only my secretary and my uncle Ned.

AUDR. The Catholic priest. I saw a boat leaving--it was they?

MICH. Yes.

AUDR. They're not coming back?

MICH. No.

AUDR. You're annoyed with me for coming?

MICH. No, but wasn't it a little--imprudent?

AUDR. Oh, I must do mad things sometimes, just to preserve my general
balance of sanity. Besides, my boat will be here in ten minutes.

(_Pause._)

AUDR. How strange we should be here alone!

MICH. The only two beings on this island--we two!

AUDR. And our two souls.

MICH. I wish you wouldn't jest with sacred things.

AUDR. I won't. (_Suddenly, impulsively._) I want to be good! Help me
to be good! You think I'm foolish and light and frivolous! Well,
perhaps I am, but when I'm with you I'm capable of anything,
anything--except being an ordinary, average, good woman.

MICH. But isn't that all that is required of a woman?

AUDR. Perhaps. It's rather a damnable heritage, isn't it? And I'm not
a barn-door fowl.

MICH. What are you?

AUDR. Just what you like to make of me. Don't think I'm flattering
you. Don't think I'm bold and unwomanly. I'm only speaking the truth.
You have changed me. I'm ready to do anything, believe anything,
suffer anything that you bid me! To-night I'm on a pinnacle! I shall
either be snatched up to the skies, or tumble into the abyss. Which
will it be, I wonder?

MICH. (_after a struggle, in a calm voice_). Neither, I trust. I hope
you will take your boat back in ten minutes, have a good passage
across, a comfortable dinner from your pretty blue china, and a sound
night's rest. And to-morrow you will wake and forget this rather
imprudent freak.

AUDR. Oh, you won't tread the clouds with me! Very well! Down to the
earth we come. I can be as earthly as the very clay itself. But I
thought you wanted me to be spiritual.

MICH. I want you to be sincere, to be yourself.

AUDR. Very well. Tell me how. You are my ghostly father.

MICH. No, you've never allowed me to be a priest to you.

AUDR. I've never allowed you?

MICH. And I've never dared.

AUDR. Why not?

MICH. Because you've never allowed me to forget that I am a man.

AUDR. Very well. Don't be a priest to me--at least not now. Tell me
some one thing that you would wish me to do, and I'll do it!

MICH. In that letter you wrote me----

AUDR. Did you keep it?

MICH. No, I destroyed it.

AUDR. Destroyed it!

MICH. In that letter you said it would be better for us if we did not
meet again----

AUDR. No. I said it would be better for _you_ if we did not meet
again.

MICH. Better for me?

AUDR. Yes, and worse for me. I came here tonight to warn you----

MICH. Against what?

AUDR. Myself. I've done something that may endanger your peace for
ever.

MICH. What do you mean?

AUDR. Sometimes I laugh at it, sometimes I'm frightened. I daren't
tell you what I've done. I'll go.

(_Goes to door, opens it._)

MICH. No. (_Stops her._) Mrs. Lesden, what have you done against me?
You don't mean your gifts to the Minster?

AUDR. My gifts--what gifts?

MICH. During the last four months I've constantly received large sums
for the restoration of the Minster, and last week a very large sum was
sent me, enough to carry out all the work just as I wished.

AUDR. Well?

MICH. It was you who sent it all.

AUDR. I must see if my boatman has come.

MICH. (_stopping her_). No. Why did you send the money--so many
different sums from so many different places?

AUDR. Because that gave me dozens of pleasures instead of one, in
sending it. And I thought it would give you dozens of pleasures
instead of one, in receiving it.

MICH. I knew it was you! How glad I am to owe it all to you! Words
couldn't tell you how grateful I am.

AUDR. And yet you wouldn't walk the clouds with me for a few minutes?

MICH. You know that I would do anything in my power for your best,
your heavenly welfare.

AUDR. I don't think I care much for my heavenly welfare just at this
moment. You tumbled me off my pinnacle, and here I am stuck in the
mud. (_Looking off at the open door._) Look! That boat is half-way to
Saint Margaret's.

MICH. Yes, they sleep there to-night.

AUDR. What a queer-looking man your secretary is. Is he quite
trustworthy?

MICH. Quite. Why?

AUDR. I caught him looking at you in a very strange way a week or two
back.

MICH. He's devoted to me.

AUDR. I'm glad of that. How far is it to Saint Margaret's?

MICH. Three miles.

AUDR. Do you believe the legend about Saint Decuman and Saint
Margaret?

MICH. That they loved each other?

AUDR. Yes, on separate islands, and never met.

MICH. They denied themselves love here that they might gain heavenly
happiness hereafter.

AUDR. Now that their hearts have been dust all these hundreds of
years, what good is it to them that they denied themselves love?

MICH. You think----

AUDR. I think a little love on this earth is worth a good many
paradises hereafter. It's a cold world, hereafter. It chills me to the
bone when I think of it! (_Shivers a little and comes away from the
door._) I'm getting a little cold.

MICH. (_placing chair_). Sit by the fire.

(_She sits near fire, which is blazing up; he goes and closes door._)

AUDR. (_putting on some logs_). Do I know you well enough to make your
fire for you?

MICH. I hope so.

(_She sits; he stands above her for some seconds, watching her keenly;
a long pause._)

AUDR. You were looking at me. What were you thinking of?

MICH. I was wondering what memories are stored in that white forehead.

AUDR. Memories? (_Long sigh._) A few bright ones, and many sad ones.

MICH. Your past life was not happy?

AUDR. (_a little shudder of recollection_). No. And yours? Tell me----

MICH. What?

AUDR. Something about your past life, something you've never told to a
living creature.

MICH. When I was twenty----

AUDR. Stay--what were you like when you were twenty? (_Shuts her eyes,
puts her hand over them._) Now I can see you when you were twenty.

MICH. Is there anyone with me?

AUDR. No, I can't see her. What was she like? Fair or dark?

MICH. Fair, with changing grey eyes that could be serious or merry as
she pleased, and fine clear features, and the sweetest provoking
mouth----

AUDR. I hate her. Who was she?

MICH. Miss Standerwick's niece. She stayed there all the summer that
year.

AUDR. Was that a happy summer?

MICH. The happiest I have ever known--till this.

AUDR. Ah!

MICH. I used to go to evening church and follow them home, and wait
outside till I could see the candle in her window. When it went out I
used to walk home.

AUDR. Across those fields where we walked the other night?

MICH. Yes.

AUDR. I'll never walk that way again. Go on.

MICH. One night as I was waiting, she came out suddenly. I couldn't
speak for trembling. At last I found my tongue, and we talked about
silly common-place things. When she was going in I dared to breathe,
"Give me one kiss." She didn't answer. I just touched her cheek with
my lips, and I whispered, "Good-night, Nelly." She said, "Good-night,
Mike."

AUDR. She called you Mike?

MICH. I was called Mike when I was a boy.

AUDR. And your next meeting?

MICH. She was called away early the next morning to her father's
deathbed. Her mother went abroad. I never saw her again. Tell me
something about your past life.

AUDR. Can you see me when I was eight? I was a pretty little brown
maid, and I set all aflame the heart of a cherub aged ten, with strong
fat legs and curly red hair. His sister was my dearest friend. He
spent all his pocket-money in buying sugar-plums for me, and gave them
to her to give to me. She ate them herself, and slandered me to him,
for she said I was false. He kicked her on the nose, and was sent
far--far away to school. This was the first tragedy of my life. Now
tell me some more of your life. You have had other romances, darker,
deeper ones?

MICH. Nothing that I dare show. I have told you of the one love of my
youth. And you---- Have you had darker, deeper romances?

AUDR. I was unhappy without romance. I would show you all my heart,
all my thoughts, all my life, if I could do it as one shows a picture,
and let it speak for itself. I wonder if you'd condemn me----

MICH. Condemn you!

AUDR. I don't think you would. You have never guessed----

MICH. Guessed----

AUDR. What a world there is within oneself that one never dares speak
of! I wish to hide nothing from you. I would have you know me through
and through for just the woman that I am, just that and no other,
because, don't you see--I don't want to cheat you of a
farthing's-worth of esteem on false pretences--I want you to like me,
Audrie Lesden, and not some myth of your imagination. But if you were
armed with all the tortures of hell for plucking the truth about
myself from my lips, I should still hide myself from you. So, guess,
guess, guess, grand inquisitor--what is here (_tapping her forehead_)
and here! (_Putting her hand on her heart._) You'll never guess one
thousandth part of the truth!

MICH. But tell me something in your past life that you have never told
to another creature.

AUDR. I have two great secrets--one is about yourself, one is about
another man.

MICH. Myself? Another man?

AUDR. My husband.

MICH. You said you had been unhappy.

AUDR. I married as thousands of girls do, carelessly, thoughtlessly. I
was married for my money. No one had ever told me that love was
sacred.

MICH. Nobody ever does tell us that, till we hear it from our own
hearts.

AUDR. I suppose it was my own fault. I was very well punished.

MICH. How long were you married?

AUDR. Two years.

MICH. And then your husband died?

AUDR. He went away from me. I never saw him again--alive.
(_Passionately._) And there's an end of him!

MICH. I won't ask you what that secret is. I would wish you to keep it
sacred. But your secret about myself? Surely I may ask that?

AUDR. I have sold you to the devil.

MICH. What?

AUDR. I have sold myself, too.

MICH. Still jesting?

AUDR. No, I did it in real, deep earnest.

MICH. I don't understand you.

AUDR. Six months ago I was tired, gnawn to the very heart with ennui,
and one hot restless night I happened to take up your book, "The
Hidden Life." It came to me--oh, like a breath of the purest, freshest
air in a fevered room. I thought I should like to know you. I got up
early, took the first morning train down here, looked about the place,
saw the Island House was to let, and rented it for three years.

MICH. Well?

AUDR. I got Mr. Docwray to give me an introduction to you. You annoyed
me, you were so cold and priestlike. Each time I saw you, you piqued
and angered me more and more. I longed to get some power over you. At
last one day after you had been so frozen and distant a little black
imp jumped into my brain and whispered to me. I said to the devil,
"Give this sculptured saint to me, and I'll give both our souls to
you."

MICH. But you didn't mean it?

AUDR. Yes. I said it with all my heart, and I bit my
arm--look--(_Showing her arm._) I made the teeth meet. There's the
mark. If there is a devil, he heard me.

MICH. And you think he has given me to you?

AUDR. The next time I saw you, you let me kiss your mother's portrait.

MICH. Ah!

AUDR. But you don't really believe there is a devil? Why don't you
speak? Why don't you laugh at me and tell me it's all nonsense? I
haven't really given the devil power over your soul?

MICH. No devil has any power over any soul of man until the man
himself first gives him entrance and consent.

AUDR. And you haven't! Say you don't care for me.

MICH. How can I say that?

AUDR. You must! I'm not strong enough to leave you of my own free
will. I shall hang about you, worry you, tease you, tempt you, and at
last, destroy you. Don't let me do it! Beat me away from you, insult
me, do something to make me hate you! Make me leave you!

MICH. When I love you with all my being?

AUDR. (_shows great delight_). And you dare go on? It's an awful
delight to think that a man would dare to risk hell for one! There
aren't many men who would dare lose this world for the woman they
love--how many men are there that would dare to lose the other?

MICH. We must lose this world, for I am vowed away from all earthly
things. But why should we lose the other? Why should we not make our
love the lever to raise our souls? You do love me?

AUDR. Love is hardly the word. It is more like--if a man could create
a dog, and be her master, friend, father, and God, I think she would
feel towards him something of what I feel towards you. You have first
made me know what love is, what life is. You have changed me
thoroughly--no, you have changed half of me thoroughly--one half is
still worthless, silly, capricious, hollow, worldly, and bad--that's
my old self. She is gradually withering up under your influence, that
old Audrie Lesden. The other half is looking out of my eyes at you
now! Look! do you see the new Audrie Lesden that is your daughter and
your creature? Aren't you proud of her?

MICH. I shall be proud of her when she is full grown and dares to
leave me of her own free will, because she loves me, and because I am
vowed to Heaven!

AUDR. Do I tempt you? I'll go. You love me. That's enough, or it
should be enough. I'll get back to London to-morrow, and strangle the
new Audrie. Then the old Audrie will come back again, and live the old
weary, dry, empty life--and grow old and wrinkled and heartless and
perhaps--rouged----

MICH. Why do you tear me so? What do you want of me here or hereafter?
Take it! It's yours----

AUDR. You dare go on--now you know?

MICH. Yes.

AUDR. Ah! I thought it was only women who dared hell for love. I won't
take your sacrifice--I will leave you.

MICH. You will? Yes, it must be so! My work, my vows--I cannot, may
not taste of earthly love. Oh, it's cruel to dash the cup from my
lips! (_Pause; then very calmly._) You are right! I feel that we are
choosing heaven or hell for both our souls this night! Help me to
choose heaven for you, and I'll help you to choose heaven for me.

AUDR. Good-bye, my love, for ever. Be brave--and very cold to me, now.
Be like marble--and death.

MICH. (_takes her hand; a very long pause; then speaks very calmly_).
It is victory, isn't it? We have conquered? I'll go down to the bay
and see if your boat has come.

(_By this time it is dark outside._)

AUDR. Half-past six. I shall have a cold, dark voyage.

MICH. And it is just a little rough. But Hannaford is a careful
boatman.

AUDR. It's not Hannaford who is coming for me. I telegraphed for
Withycombe.

MICH. (_pause--very pale and cold_). Withycombe? But you always employ
Hannaford?

AUDR. Yes; and I did write out one telegram to him, and then I thought
I should like to go back in the boat that always takes you. So I tore
up the telegram to Hannaford, and telegraphed to Withycombe.

MICH. Withycombe?

AUDR. Yes, what's the matter?

MICH. He lives alone. When he goes out, he locks up his cottage. Your
telegram will wait at the post office.

AUDR. Why?

MICH. Withycombe has gone over to Saint Margaret's with Gibbard and my
uncle. They stay there the night.

AUDR. Your own boat?

MICH. I had it towed back last week, so that I couldn't be tempted to
come to you.

AUDR. Then----?

MICH. (_looks at her_). No boat will come to-night. (_Looks at her
more intently._) No boat will come to-night!

(_They stand looking at each other._)

VERY SLOW CURTAIN.

(_Two nights and a day--from Wednesday evening to Friday morning--pass
between Acts II. and III._)



ACT III

SCENE.--_The Vicarage parlour, as in first act. Morning. Enter
MICHAEL, haggard, troubled, with self-absorbed expression, the
expression of a man trying to realize that he has committed a great
and irrevocable sin; he stands for some moments helpless, dreamy, as
if unconscious of his whereabouts; then looks round; his eyes fall
upon his mother's picture, he shudders a little, shows intense pain.
At length he goes up the steps, takes the picture down, places it on
the floor with its face against the wall, carefully avoiding all the
while to look at it. He then moves to table in the same dreamy,
helpless, self-absorbed state, sits, looks in front of him. Enter
ANDREW, comes up behind him._

MICH. Oh, Andrew---- Well?

ANDR. (_coming up to him_). I want to consult you on that passage in
the Arabic--if you can spare the time.

MICH. Bring the manuscripts here. (_MICHAEL unconsciously looks at his
hands._) What are you looking at?

ANDR. Nothing. Your hands are blistered?

MICH. I did a little rowing--the other day. Bring the manuscripts.

(_ANDREW goes to door._)

MICH. Andrew--(ANDREW _stops_)--I was very restless--did you hear me
stirring in the night?

ANDR. Stirring?

MICH. Yes, I couldn't sleep. I got up about one and went out--walked
about for some hours--it was nearly light when I came in again. Did
you hear me?

ANDR. (_pauses, then answers_). No.

(_Is about to go off at right door when FANNY enters left. He stops._)

FANNY. Mrs. Lesden wishes to see you for a minute or two about one of
her cottagers.

(_ANDREW watches MICHAEL keenly, but unobtrusively._)

MICH. (_after a little start of surprise, in a tone of affected
carelessness_). Show her in.

(_Exit ANDREW, right. Exit FANNY, left. MICHAEL rises, shows great
perturbation, walks about, watches the door for her entrance._)

_Re-enter FANNY, left, showing in AUDRIE._

FANNY. Mrs. Lesden.

(_Exit FANNY. MICHAEL and AUDRIE stand looking at each other for some
seconds; then he goes to her, takes her hand, kisses it with great
reverence, motions her to a chair; she sits. He holds out to her the
palms of his hands with a rueful smile, shows they are much blistered
as if with rowing._)

AUDR. Poor hands!

MICH. I'm not used to rowing.

(_Pause._)

AUDR. I didn't thank you.

MICH. Thank me!

AUDR. (_pause_). Wasn't it a terrible voyage, terrible and delightful?
But we ought to have been drowned together!

MICH. Oh, don't say that--in sin! To be lost in sin!

AUDR. I'd rather be lost with you than saved with anyone else.

MICH. You mustn't speak like this----

AUDR. It won't be right, you know, unless we are lost or saved
together, will it?

MICH. Hush! Hush!

(_Pause._)

AUDR. You're sorry?

MICH. No. And you?

AUDR. No. Is all safe, do you think?

MICH. Yes, I believe so.

AUDR. Didn't that strange secretary of yours think it curious that you
came back on Thursday instead of Saturday?

MICH. No. I explained that when Withycombe brought me your telegram I
thought it better to return at once in case you had started to come,
and had been somehow lost.

AUDR. Let us go carefully through it all as it happened, to make sure.
To-day is Friday. On Wednesday I telegraphed to Withycombe to be at
the landing-place at Saint Decuman's with a boat at six o'clock in the
evening to bring me back home from there.

MICH. Yes.

AUDR. But being a strange creature and quite unaccountable for my
actions, I changed my mind, and instead of coming to Saint Decuman's I
went up to London, stayed there all day yesterday, and returned by the
night mail, reaching home at seven this morning.

MICH. Yes.

AUDR. Meantime Withycombe has gone to Saint Margaret's with your
uncle, stays there Wednesday night and does not get my telegram till
his return home yesterday afternoon. He consults my servants, who know
nothing of my whereabouts, consults Mr. Gibbard, who advises him to go
to Saint Decuman's and see if I am there. He reaches Saint Decuman's
last evening. You are surprised when he shows you the telegram--you
explain that I am not there, that I have not been there, that you've
seen nothing of me. (_Very tenderly._) Dear, I felt so sorry for you
when I heard you blundering and stammering through your tale to
Withycombe.

MICH. Why?

AUDR. I knew the pain and shame it caused you to say what wasn't true.
I wished I could have told all the lies for you.

MICH. No, no. Isn't the truth dear to you?

AUDR. Not in comparison with you. Besides, I shall be let off my fibs
and little sins very cheaply, much more cheaply than you'll be, great
serious person.

MICH. You grieve me to the heart when you speak like this----

AUDR. (_penitent_). I won't! I won't! I'll be very good and quite
serious. Where were we? Well, you explain to Withycombe that I have
never been to Saint Decuman's, and at the same time you also change
your mind and return with him last evening instead of staying till
Saturday.

MICH. You've seen Withycombe and told him you went to London?

AUDR. Yes.

MICH. He suspects nothing?

AUDR. No, I made it all quite clear to him.

MICH. And your servants?

AUDR. They're used to my absences. They think nothing of it.

MICH. Then all is safe. The matter will never be heard of
again--except----

AUDR. Except?

MICH. In our two hearts, and in the High Court where such cases are
tried.

(_With an inclination of the head and finger towards heaven._)

AUDR. Don't preach, and--don't regret.

MICH. I won't--only how strange it all is!

AUDR. What?

MICH. (_quiet, calm voice throughout, smiling a little_). How men try
to make their religion square with their practice! I was hard, cruelly
hard, on that poor little girl of Andrew's. I was sure it was for the
good of her soul that she should stand up and confess in public. But
now it comes to my own self, I make excuses; I hide, and cloak, and
equivocate, and lie--what a hypocrite I am!

AUDR. Ah, you're sorry!

MICH. No, I'm strangely happy and--dazed. I feel nothing, except my
great joy, and a curious bitter amusement in tracing it all out.

AUDR. Tracing what out?

MICH. The hundred little chances, accidents as we call them, that gave
us to each other. Everything I did to avoid you threw me at your feet.
I felt myself beginning to love you. I wrote urgently to Uncle Ned in
Italy, thinking I'd tell him and that he would save me. He came--I
couldn't tell him of you, but his coming kept Withycombe from getting
your telegram. I went to Saint Decuman's to escape from you. You were
moved to come to me. I sent away my own boat to put the sea between
us; and so I imprisoned you with me. Six years ago I used all my
influence to have the new lighthouse built on Saint Margaret's Isle
instead of Saint Decuman's, so that I might keep Saint Decuman's
lonely for myself and prayer. I kept it lonely for myself and _you._
It was what we call a chance I didn't go to Saint Margaret's with
Andrew and my uncle. It was what we call a chance that you telegraphed
to my boatman instead of your own. If any one thing had gone
differently----

AUDR. (_shaking her head_). We couldn't have missed each other in this
world. It's no use blaming chance or fate, or whatever it is.

MICH. I blame nothing. I am too happy. Besides, Chance? Fate? I had
the mastery of all these things. They couldn't have conquered me if my
own heart hadn't first yielded. You mustn't stay here. (_Turning
towards her with great tenderness._) Oh, I'm glad that no stain rests
upon you through me----

AUDR. Don't trouble about me. I have been thinking of you. Your
character?

MICH. My character! My character! My character!

AUDR. (_glances up at the place where the portrait had hung_). Where
is she?

(_He points to the picture on the floor._)

MICH. I daren't look at her. I must hide it until----

AUDR. Until?

MICH. Until we have done what we can to atone for this.

AUDR. What?

MICH. Repent, confess, submit to any penance that be enjoined us. And
then if and when it shall be permitted us--marriage.

AUDR. Marriage?

MICH. Retirement from all who know us, and lifelong consecration of
ourselves to poverty and good works, so that at the last we may
perhaps win forgiveness for what we have done.

AUDR. Marriage?

_Re-enter ANDREW with manuscripts._

ANDR. I beg pardon. I thought Mrs. Lesden had gone. (_Puts manuscripts
on table and is going off._)

AUDR. I am just going, Mr. Gibbard.

ANDR. (_turns and speaks to her_). I met a stranger on the beach
yesterday evening. He inquired for you and the way to your house.

AUDR. Indeed.

ANDR. He asked a great many questions about you.

AUDR. What questions?

ANDR. How you lived in this quiet place, and who were your friends,
and where you were yesterday.

AUDR. Did he give his name?

ANDR. I didn't ask for it. I suppose he's staying in the place. I saw
him at the door of the George later in the evening.

AUDR. One of my London friends, I suppose. What did you reply to his
questions?

ANDR. I told him Mr. Feversham was one of your friends, but as I
didn't know where you were yesterday, of course I couldn't tell him,
could I?

(_Looks at her, exit._)

AUDR. Did you notice that?

MICH. Notice what?

AUDR. The look that man gave me as he went out. Does he suspect us?

MICH. Impossible.

AUDR. I feel sure he does. Send for him and question him at once. I'll
go.

_Enter FANNY with a letter._

FANNY. For you, ma'am.

(_Giving letter to AUDRIE, who glances at it, shows a sharp,
frightened surprise, instantly concealed, and then stands
motionless._)

FANNY. The gentleman's waiting for an answer.

AUDR. (_very quiet, cold voice_). I'll come at once.

(_Exit FANNY._)

MICH. What's the matter?

AUDR. Nothing. Question that man. Find out if he knows anything. I'll
come back as soon as I can.

(_Exit, without opening letter._)

MICH. (_follows her to door, closes it after her, then goes to right
door, calls_). Andrew.

_Re-enter ANDREW._

MICH. What is this passage you're in difficulty about?

ANDR. (_comes to him with old manuscripts_). What's the matter?

MICH. My head is dizzy this morning.

ANDR. Didn't you say you couldn't sleep?

MICH. What time did you get back from Saint Margaret's yesterday?

ANDR. About twelve.

MICH. You saw my uncle off by the afternoon train?

ANDR. Yes.

MICH. And then? (_ANDREW does not reply._) You were surprised to find
me coming back with Withycombe instead of staying till Saturday?

ANDR. No.

MICH. Withycombe's message about the telegram a little disturbed me.
(_A little pause, watching ANDREW._) I thought perhaps Mrs. Lesden
might have started to come to Saint Decuman's (_pause, still watching
ANDREW_), and been lost on the way.

ANDR. Did you?

MICH. She is such a strange, flighty creature, that I should scarcely
be surprised at anything she took it into her head to do.

ANDR. (_looking him full in the face_). She went up to London, didn't
she?

MICH. (_wincing a little_). Yes.

ANDR. And came back through the night by the mail?

MICH. Yes. Why do you look at me like that?

ANDR. I beg your pardon. Is there any other question you'd like to ask
me?

MICH. Question? About what?

ANDR. About Mrs. Lesden--or anything that's troubling you.

MICH. Troubling me? I'm not troubled about anything.

ANDR. Oh! I thought perhaps you were. (_Going._)

MICH. Andrew. (_ANDREW stops._) I've been thinking about--about Rose.

ANDR. Have you?

MICH. Perhaps I was wrong in urging her to confess.

ANDR. It isn't much good thinking that now, is it?

MICH. No, except to ask you to forgive me, and to say that you don't
cherish any ill-feeling against me on that account.

ANDR. I forgive you, and I don't cherish any ill-feeling against you
on that or any account.

MICH. I may trust you entirely, Andrew?

ANDR. If you doubt it--try me.

MICH. Try you?

ANDR. Didn't I tell you to ask me any question you like?

MICH. (_alarmed_). What do you mean? (_Pause, looks at ANDREW._)
Enough. I trust you absolutely--(_looks at him_)--in everything.

ANDR. You may.

(_Is again going._)

MICH. No, Andrew, nothing has occurred--I was afraid--it seemed so
strange--this telegram business. What are you thinking about me?

ANDR. Take care, sir. Don't betray yourself to anybody but me.

MICH. Betray myself?

ANDR. You're a worse bungler at lying than I was. Don't look like
that, or other people will guess. Don't give way. You're safe. Nobody
but me suspects anything. Your character is quite safe--her character
is quite safe. They're both in my keeping.

MICH. (_stares helplessly at him_). How did you know?

ANDR. I've suspected for some time past----

MICH. You were wrong. There was nothing to suspect. It was a chance,
an accident--there was no intention to deceive. What made you guess?

ANDR. When Withycombe brought the telegram to me I guessed something
was wrong. I heard you go out in the middle of the night. I followed
you down to the beach; I saw you put off; I waited for you to come
back. I was on the top of the cliff just above you when you landed
with her. I saw you come on here, and I watched her take the road to
the station, and saw her come back to her home as if she had come in
by the early morning train.

MICH. What are you going to do?

ANDR. Nothing. Don't I owe everything I am and everything I have in
this world to you? I shall never breathe a word of what I know to a
living soul.

MICH. Thank you, Andrew. Thank you. And you'll be sure above all that
she is safe----

ANDR. As safe as if I were in the grave. You go your way, just the
same as if I didn't know.

MICH. Andrew.

ANDR. (_comes back_). Sir----

MICH. (_breaking down_). I was harsh and cruel to Rose. I punished her
more than she deserved. I was a hard, self-righteous priest! I hadn't
been tempted myself then. Send for her to come home again! Comfort her
and give her the best place in your heart. Write at once. Let her come
back to-morrow! Oh, what weak, wretched Pharisees we are! What masks
of holiness we wear! What whited sepulchres we are! Send for her! Make
up to her for all she has suffered! Let me ask her pardon! Oh, Andrew,
have pity on me! Forgive me, forgive me!

(_Bending his head in tears. ANDREW steals out of the room. A long
pause. AUDRIE appears at window in the same place as in Act I., looks
in, sees him, taps the window, he goes up to it._)

AUDR. Let me in. Quickly. I want to speak to you.

(_He goes to door, opens it; a moment later she enters._)

MICH. Well?

AUDR. Why didn't you take my warning? Why didn't you beat me, drive
me, hound me away from you as I told you?

MICH. What now?

AUDR. Say you'll forgive me before I tell you! No, don't forgive me!

MICH. I don't understand you. Is anything discovered?

AUDR. What does that matter? Oh, don't hate me. If you say one unkind
word to me I shall kill myself. Read the letter which came here to me
just now.

(_He takes the letter wonderingly._)

MICH. Whom did it come from?

AUDR. My husband.

MICH. Your husband? (_She nods._) Your husband! He is alive?

(_She nods._)

AUDR. (_with a laugh_). Didn't I tell you I should ruin you body and
soul? (_He stands overwhelmed._) Why do you stand there? Why don't you
do something? (_Laughing at him._) I say, ghostly father, we make a
pretty pair, you and I, don't we? What shall we do? Confess in white
sheets and candles together, you and I? Why don't you do
something--(_Laughing at him._) And you stand there like a stone
saint. (_Comes up to him._) Kill me and have done with me!

MICH. You said your husband died after two years.

AUDR. I said I never saw him again--alive. I thought then that I never
should.

MICH. But--you believed he was dead. You believed he was dead--(_She
does not reply._) You didn't know the night before last that your
husband was living?

AUDR. Don't I tell you to kill me and have done with it.

MICH. (_horrified_). You knew he was living?

AUDR. (_very imploringly_). I love you, I love you. Say one word to
me! Say one word to me! Say you forgive me.

MICH. I forgive you. (_Stands overwhelmed._) Take this letter----

(_Offering it._)

AUDR. I didn't mean to do this. Do make excuses for me. We lived
unhappily together. When I came into all my money I bargained with him
that we would never see each other again. It was a fair bargain--a
contract. He went away to America--I gave out he was dead. From that
time to this I have never had a thought of his return. He was dead to
me. He has no right to come and spoil my life. Read that letter from
him.

MICH. No--take it.

(_Gives the letter back._)

AUDR. Tell me what to do.

MICH. I'm not fit to advise you.

AUDR. What can we do?

MICH. I don't know. We're up a blind alley with our sin. There's no
way out of this.

AUDR. I shall defy him.

MICH. No.

AUDR. Yes. A bargain's a bargain. I shall go back and defy him. I'll
never see him again. But then--what then? What will you do?

MICH. Don't think of me.

AUDR. Speak to me. Say one word. Oh, it has been on the tip of my
tongue so many times to tell you all, but I couldn't bear to lose your
love, so I deceived you. (_He walks about perplexed. She goes to him
very gently and coaxingly._) Say you aren't sorry--say that deep down
in your inmost heart you aren't sorry for what is past!

MICH. Sorry? No. God forgive me. I'm not sorry. I can't be sorry. I
wish I could.

AUDR. (_coming to him_). Ah, now I know you love me! If you only dare
be as bold as I dare----

MICH. Bold?

AUDR. We love each other. Our loves and lives are in our own hands.

MICH. (_repulses her, braces himself to stern resolve, very coldly and
commandingly_). Listen! These are perhaps the last words I shall ever
speak to you. The past is past. There's no way out of that. But the
future is in our power. Can't you see, woman, that we are half-way
down the precipice? We'll go no further. From this moment we part; I
toil back to repentance and peace one way, you toil back another. So
far as God will give me grace I'll never think of you from this
moment--I'll spend all my life in putting a gulf between you and me.
You do the same--ask only one thing for yourself and me, that we may
forget each other.

AUDR. (_looks at him, smiles, sighs, then as she is going off_). I was
right about man's love. You are all cowards. There's not one of you
that doesn't think first of his comfort, or his pocket, or his honour,
or his skin, or his soul, and second of the woman he thinks he loves.
Forget you? (_A little laugh._) Do you think that possible? Do you
think I was jesting with you when I gave myself to you? Forget you?
(_A little laugh._) My memory is good for such trifles. Forget you?

MICH. (_with a wild revulsion_). Oh, take me where you will! I have no
guide but you! Heaven, hell, wherever you go, I shall follow. Be sure
of that. But won't you be my better angel, now I've lost her: If you
love me as you say, you can yet be the master influence of my life,
you can yet save yourself through me, and me through you. Won't you
make our love a monument for good? Dearest of all, I'm at your feet--I
think you come from heaven, and I'm all obedience to you. You are my
angel. Lead me--Lead me, not back to sin--Lead me towards heaven--You
can even now!

AUDR. What do you wish me to do?

MICH. Go back to your duty and to deep repentance. Have strength,
dearest. These are not idle words--duty, purity, holiness. They mean
something. Love is nothing without them. Have courage to tread the
hard road. Leave me.

AUDR. If I leave you now, shall we meet one day--hereafter?

MICH. Yes.

AUDR. You're sure? You do believe it?

MICH. With all my heart.

AUDR. And you'll stay here and carry on your work, restore the
Minster, and let me think that I'm helping you.

MICH. I can't do that now.

AUDR. Yes.

MICH. No.

AUDR. Yes.

MICH. But with that money--your money!

AUDR. Many churches are built with sinners' money. Do this for me.

MICH. If I dared--if it would come to good.--You know how dear a hope
it has been to me all my life through.

AUDR. Do it, because I ask it. You will?

MICH. And you'll leave me, leave this place, because I ask it. You
will?

AUDR. I love you. I obey you.

(_She comes to him._)

MICH. No, I daren't come near to you. You'll go?

(_He opens the door; she passes out; re-enters._)

AUDR. Listen to this. Whatever happens, I shall never belong to
anybody but you. You understand? (_MICHAEL bows his head._) I shall
never belong to anybody but you, Mike.

(_She goes out again. He closes door, goes up to window. She passes.
He watches her off, stays there some moments._)

_Re-enter ANDREW. MICHAEL comes from window; the two men stand looking
at each other._

ANDR. You won't begin work this morning, I suppose?

MICH. (_firmly_). Yes. (_Goes to table, motions ANDREW to one chair,
seats himself opposite. They take up the manuscripts._) Where is the
place?

ANDR. Fifty-first psalm, verse three. (_MICHAEL winces, turns over the
manuscript._) Have you found it? What are you looking at?

MICH. (_gets up suddenly_). I can't bear it.

ANDR. Can't bear what?

(_MICHAEL stands looking at him with terror._)

ANDR. (_rises, comes to him_). Don't I tell you that all is safe. I
shan't blab. Nobody shall ever know.

MICH. But _you_ know!

ANDR. I shall never remind you of it.

MICH. But you do, you do! Your presence reminds me.

ANDR. Shall I leave you now and come again by-and-by?

MICH. (_with an effort_). No, stay. (_Points to seat. ANDREW seats
himself._) You've sent for Rose to come home?

ANDR. No.

MICH. No?

ANDR. I don't want to have her in this place where everybody knows
about her.

MICH. Won't you send for her, Andrew--to please me?

ANDR. She's well enough where she is. (_Pointing to the manuscripts._)
Shall we go on?

MICH. What ought I to do, Andrew?

ANDR. Don't you know what you ought to do?

MICH. What?

ANDR. Mete out to yourself the same measure you meted to others.

MICH. Confess--in public. I can't! I can't! I daren't! I'm a coward, a
weak miserable coward! Don't judge me harshly, Andrew! Don't be hard
on me!

(_Covering his face with his hands._)

ANDR. (_cold, firm_). Come, sir! shall we get on with our work?
(_Reading manuscript._) "For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my
sin is ever before me."

(_MICHAEL uncovers his face and sits staring at ANDREW, who sits cold
and grim on the other side of the table._)

_Very slow curtain._

(_A year passes between Acts III. and IV._)



ACT IV

SCENE.--_The Chancel of the Minster church of Saint Decuman at
Cleveheddon, a beautiful building of Decorated Gothic architecture
with signs of recent restoration. The altar and reredos, approached by
steps, face the audience, who take up the same position towards it as
spectators in the nave would do. Behind the altar a long vista of
columns, arches, roof, and stained glass windows. An organ is built in
left wall of the chancel at a considerable height. On both sides of
the chancel are handsome high carved oak stalls. A large open place in
front of the altar steps is flanked on each side by the transepts,
which run to right and left of spectators and are filled with chair
seats so far as can be seen. A small door in the north wall of the
left transept leads to the organ loft. The whole church is most
lavishly decorated with banners, hangings, scrolls, and large
frescoes, and is smothered with flowers as if in readiness for a
church festival. Large brass candlesticks on altar with lighted
candles. Time, about nine on an autumn night. An organ voluntary is
being played as curtain rises. Enter MICHAEL from transept. He has
aged much, is very pale and emaciated. The voluntary ceases and the
organ boy, a lad about fifteen, comes from small door in wall of left
transept._

WALTER (_carelessly_). Good-night, sir.

MICH. (_stopping him, puts his hand on the boy's head_). Good-bye,
Walter. (_Pause, still detaining him, with considerable feeling._)
Good-bye, my dear lad.

(_Sighs, moves away from him. The boy shows slight respectful surprise
and exit along transept. The Organist with keys enters from the little
door, looks round the church admiringly._)

ORGANIST. Everything ready for the ceremony to-morrow?

MICH. Yes, I think, everything.

ORGANIST. I was just putting the finishing touches to my music. How
beautiful the church looks! You must be very proud and happy now your
work is complete.

MICH. Not quite complete. I've to put the finishing touches to my
part--to-morrow.

_ANDREW enters rather suddenly from transept._

ANDR. Can I speak to you for a moment?

ORGANIST. Good-night.

(_Going._)

MICH. (_detains him_). Thank you for all you have done for me, and for
the church, and for her services.

(_Shakes hands warmly. Exit the Organist by transept._)

MICH. Well?

ANDR. I thought you'd like to know--Mrs. Lesden has come back to
Cleveheddon, and she has brought a lady friend with her.

MICH. I know.

ANDR. You've seen her?

(_MICHAEL looks at him with great dignity._)

ANDR. I beg your pardon.

MICH. I've not seen her.

ANDR. I beg your pardon. It's no business of mine.

(_Going._)

MICH. (_quietly_). Yes, it is business of yours.

ANDR. What do you mean?

MICH. Haven't you made it the chief business of your life all this
last year?

ANDR. How? I've kept my word. I've never reminded you of it.

MICH. You've never allowed me to forget it for a single moment. Every
time you've spoken to me, or looked at me, or crossed the room, or
passed the window, every time I've heard your step on the stairs, or
your voice speaking to the servants, you've accused me. If you had
been in my place I would have been very kind to you, Andrew.

ANDR. How did you treat my girl?

MICH. I did what I thought was best for her soul.

ANDR. Then why don't you do what is best for your own soul?

MICH. I shall.

(_ANDREW looks at MICHAEL in startled inquiry._)

_Enter by transept DOCWRAY and SIR LYOLF. SIR LYOLF is in evening
dress under summer overcoat. DOCWRAY points out the decorations to SIR
LYOLF._

ANDR. Why have you sent for Rose to come back to Cleveheddon?

MICH. I wish her to be present at the services to-morrow. She is
almost due. Go to the station and meet her. Bring her to me here.

(_SIR LYOLF and DOCWRAY saunter up towards MICHAEL and ANDREW. ANDREW
stands perplexed._)

MICH. (_firmly, to ANDREW_). Bring her to me here.

(_ANDREW goes off through transept, turns to look at MICHAEL before he
goes off._)

SIR LYOLF. You didn't turn up at dinner?

MICH. I was too busy.

SIR LYOLF. All prepared for to-morrow?

MICH. Yes, I think.

SIR LYOLF. So it seems Mrs. Lesden has come down from town.

MICH. So I understand.

SIR LYOLF (_MICHAEL is listening intently_). I thought we had seen the
last of her when the long-lost husband returned and took her off to
London. By the way, what has become of her husband?

MARK. He has gone back to South America.

(_MICHAEL is listening intently._)

SIR LYOLF. Gone back to South America?

MARK. He only stayed three weeks in England. It is said that she has
pensioned him off--he is to keep to his hemisphere, and she is to keep
to hers.

SIR LYOLF. I don't like it!

MARK. Don't like what?

SIR LYOLF. I don't like women who pension off their husbands to live
in South America.

MICH. Do you see much of her in town?

MARK. Not much. About every two months she sweeps into church in a
whirlwind of finery and perfume, gives me a ridiculously large sum for
the offertory, makes some most irreverent joke, or else pretends to be
deeply religious----

MICH. Pretends?

MARK. What can it be but pretence? Look at her life this last year.

MICH. What of it?

MARK. It has been one continual round of gaiety and excitement except
when she was ill.

MICH. She has been ill?

MARK. Yes, and no wonder.

MICH. Why?

MARK. She goes everywhere, gives the most extravagant parties, mixes
with the fastest, emptiest, London set. And she has taken for her
companion a silly, flighty little woman, Mrs. Cantelo.

SIR LYOLF. I don't like it! Why has she come back to Cleveheddon just
now?

MARK. To be present at the dedication service to-morrow, I suppose.

SIR LYOLF. Michael----

MICH. Well?

SIR LYOLF. You know that everybody is asking where all the money came
from for these magnificent restorations?

MICH. It was sent to me anonymously. The giver wishes to remain
unknown.

SIR LYOLF. Yes! Yes! That's what you've told us. But of course you
know who it is?

MICH. I mustn't speak of it.

SIR LYOLF. Forgive me.

MICH. Let's say no more. I'm glad you came here to-night. I've been
very much perplexed by a confession that has been made to me recently.
A priest--you know him, Mark--he is to be present to-morrow--a priest
some time ago discovered one of his people in a course of lying and
deception, and insisted upon a very severe penalty from the man. And
now the priest tells me, that in order to save one very dear to him,
he himself has lately been practising exactly the same course of lying
and deception. He came to me for advice. I said, "You must pay exactly
the same penalty that you demanded from your parishioner." But he
objects--he says it will bring disgrace on his family, and disgrace on
our cloth. He urged all manner of excuses, but I wouldn't listen to
him. He wishes to be present at the dedication service to-morrow. I've
refused him. Have I done right?

SIR LYOLF. Yes, I should say so.

MARK. Was it a just penalty?

MICH. Yes, I believe so--the just, the only penalty, in my opinion.
Have I done right?

MARK. Yes, certainly.

MICH. I'm glad you both think that. To-morrow before the dedication
service begins, I shall stand where I'm standing now and confess that
I have been guilty of deadly sin and deceit. Then I shall go out from
this place and never return.

(_They come away from him, staring at him in speechless surprise for
some moments._)

SIR LYOLF. But--Good Heaven!--what have you done?

MICH. (_after a long pause_). Guess.

SIR LYOLF. But you won't proclaim yourself?

MICH. Yes.

SIR LYOLF. But your career--your reputation--your opportunities of
doing good----

MARK. Have you thought what this will mean to you, to us, to the
church?

MICH. I have thought of nothing else for many months past.

SIR LYOLF. Surely there must be some way to avoid a public
declaration. (_MICHAEL shakes his head._) You know I don't speak for
myself. My day is nearly done, but you're in the full vigour of life,
with a great reputation to sustain and increase. Don't do this--for my
sake, for your own sake, for the sake of Heaven, don't do it!

MICH. I must.

MARK. What are the circumstances?

MICH. I can't tell you. I wouldn't have told you so much except that I
knew I might trust both of you never to hint or whisper anything
against--against any but myself. If you should guess--as most likely
you will--the name of my companion in sin, it will never cross your
lips? I may ask that of you?

SIR LYOLF. You know you may.

MARK. Of course we shall say nothing.

SIR LYOLF. But--but---- (_Sits down overwhelmed._)

MARK. Can't we talk this over further? Have you considered everything?

MICH. Everything. I have known for many months that this must come. I
have tried to palter and spare myself, but each time the conviction
has returned with greater and greater force, "You must do it there,
and then, and in that way."

MARK. But you've repented?

MICH. Most deeply. I have fasted and prayed. I have worn a hair shirt
close to my skin. But my sin remains. It isn't rooted out of my heart.
I can't get rid of its image.

MARK. Its image?

MICH. (_same calm, tranquil, matter-of-fact tone_). I believe that
every sin has its exact physical image. That just as man is the
expression of the thought of God, so our own thoughts and desires and
aims, both good and bad, have somewhere or the other their exact
material counterpart, their embodiment. The image of my sin is a
reptile, a greyish-green reptile, with spikes, and cold eyes without
lids. It's more horrible than any creature that was ever seen. It
comes and sits in my heart and watches me with those cold eyes that
never shut, and never sleep, and never pity. At first it came only
very seldom; these last few months it has scarcely left me day or
night, only at night it's deadlier and more distorted and weighs more
upon me. It's not fancy. Mark, I know, I know, that if I do not get
rid of my sin, my hell will be to have that thing sitting beside me
for ever and ever, watching me with its cold eyes. But (_hopefully_) I
shall be rid of it after to-morrow.

MARK. My poor fellow!

SIR LYOLF (_rising, coming back to MICHAEL_). Michael, can't you
postpone this? Can't it be at some other time? Not in the very hour
which should be the proudest and happiest of your life?

MICH. There is no other hour, no other way. (_Looks at them both,
takes both their hands affectionately._) Tell me (_very piteously_)
that you neither of you love me the less,--or at least say that you
love me a little still, after what I've told you.

SIR LYOLF. Don't you know?

MARK. How can you ask that?

_ANDREW and ROSE appear in the transept._

MICH. (_to ANDREW_). One moment, Andrew. (_To his father._) I've a
word or two to say to Andrew.

SIR LYOLF. Come and stay the night with me and let us talk this over.

MICH. No, I must be alone to-night. Good-night, dear Mark.

(_MARK wrings his hand._)

SIR LYOLF. You are resolved to go through with this? It must be?

(_MICHAEL bows his head._)

SIR LYOLF. I can't be here to-morrow. I couldn't face it. But (_with
great affection_) I shan't be far away when you want me. (_Very warm
handshake._) Come, Mr. Docwray.

(_Exeunt SIR LYOLF and DOCWRAY by transept._)

ANDR. (_bringing ROSE to MICHAEL_). I've brought her.

(_ROSE is in an Anglican sister's dress; she is very pale and her
manner is subdued. She comes slowly and reverently to MICHAEL, and is
going to bend to him. He takes her hands and raises her._)

MICH. No. You mustn't bend to me. I've sent for you, Rose, to ask your
pardon.

ROSE. My pardon?

MICH. I made you pass through a terrible ordeal last year. Will you
forgive me?

ROSE. What should I forgive? You were right. You said it would bring
me great peace. And so it has--great peace.

MICH. And you wouldn't undo that morning's work?

ROSE. No. It seems I died that morning and left all my old life in a
grave. This is quite a new life. I wouldn't change it.

MICH. Andrew, do you hear that?

ANDR. Yes.

MICH. I was right, then? I was right? You are happy?

ROSE. Yes, I am happy--at least, I'm peaceful, and peace is better
than happiness, isn't it?

MICH. Yes, peace is best! Peace is best! I shall find it too, some
day. Andrew, she has forgiven me. Can't you forgive me? We may never
see each other again on this side the grave. Don't let us part in
anger!

ANDR. Part?

MICH. As soon as I can arrange my affairs I shall leave Cleveheddon.

ANDR. But your work?

MICH. My work is ended. I'll see that you and Rose are sufficiently
provided for.

(_Taking their hands, trying to join them; ANDREW holds aloof._)

ANDR. No. I can't take any favour from you.

MICH. It's no favour. I've trained you to a special work which has
unfitted you for everything else. It is my duty to provide for your
old age.

ANDR. I can't take any favour from you.

MICH. Old comrade (_leaning on ANDREW'S shoulder; ANDREW draws away_),
old comrade (_draws ANDREW to him_), we had many happy days together
in the summer of our life. Now the autumn has come, now the winter is
coming, I'm setting out on a cold, dark journey. Won't you light a
little flame in our old lamp of friendship to cheer me on my way?
You'll take my gift--you'll take it, and make a home for her?

ANDR. (_bursts out_). You'll break my heart with your kindness! I
don't deserve it! I was a half-bred, starving dog. You took me in,
and, like the hound I am, I turned and bit the hand that fed me. Let
me be! Let me be!

MICH. Rose, speak to him.

ROSE. Father, you are grieving Mr. Feversham.

ANDR. I'll do whatever you tell me. But don't forgive me.

MICH. Take him home, Rose. I parted you. Let me think I have restored
you to each other.

(_Joining them._)

ANDR. (_to MICHAEL_). I can't say anything to-night. I never was good
enough to black your shoes. I can't thank you. I can't speak.
Good-night. Come, Rose!

(_MICHAEL shakes ROSE'S hand very tenderly. Exeunt ROSE and ANDREW by
transept. MICHAEL watches them off, goes to altar._)

MICH. (_alone_). One thing more and all is done. (_Looking round the
church._) And I must give you up! Never enter your doors, never lead
my people through you in chariots of fire, never make you the very
presence-chamber of God to my soul and their souls who were committed
to me! Oh, if I had been worthy!

(_A little pause. A woman's laugh is heard in the transept opposite to
that by which ANDREW and ROSE have gone off. MICHAEL withdraws to the
side of chancel, where he is seen by the audience, during the
following scene, but is hidden from AUDRIE and MRS. CANTELO._)

_AUDRIE enters from transept in magnificent evening dress, cloak, and
jewellery, and carrying a large basket of roses. Her features are much
paler and sharpened, and she shows a constant restlessness and
excitement._

AUDR. (_looks round, calls out_). Somebody is here? (_Pause, calls
out._) Somebody is here? No? (_Speaks down transept._) You may come
in, Milly.

_MILLY CANTELO, a fashionable little woman, enters at transept,
looking admiringly round the church._

AUDR. There's nobody here except (_raising her voice_) a stone saint
(_pointing up to carved figure_), and he can't hear, because he has
only stone ears, and he can't feel, because he has only a stone heart.

(_MICHAEL shows intense feeling._)

MILLY (_looking round_). Isn't it gorgeous?

AUDR. H'm--yes---- (_Raises her voice._) I can't bear that stone
saint. Look how hard and lifeless he is. In a well-regulated world
there would be no room for angels or devils, or stone saints, or any
such griffins.

MILLY. Audrie, you are queer to-night. You'll be ill again.

AUDR. Yes, duckie, I hope so.

MILLY. What's the matter with you?

AUDR. Life's the matter with me, I think. I've got it badly, and I
don't know how to cure myself.

MILLY. I wish you wouldn't talk nonsense, and run about on silly
errands in the dark.

AUDR. I won't for long. When my head is tightly bandaged in a white
cloth, I can't talk any more nonsense, can I? And when my feet are
comfortably tucked up in my final night-gown I can't run after stone
saints in the dark, can I?

MILLY. Oh, you give me the creeps. I can't imagine why you wanted to
come out to-night.

AUDR. To decorate the church.

MILLY. Don't you think it's decorated enough?

AUDR. (_looking_). No, it wants a few more touches. I must just
titivate a cherub's nose, or hang a garland on an apostle's toe, just
to show my deep, deep devotion----

MILLY. Your deep, deep devotion?

AUDR. My deep, deep love, my deep, deep worship, my deep, deep
remembrance.

MILLY. Of what?

AUDR. The church, of course.

MILLY. What a heap of money all this must have cost! Who gave it all?

AUDR. I gave two hundred pounds when I lived here last year.

MILLY. I wonder who gave all the rest!

AUDR. I wonder!

MILLY. Mr. Feversham must have some very devoted friends.

AUDR. So it seems.

MILLY. Did you know him very well when you lived here?

AUDR. Not very well.

MILLY. What sort of a man is he?

AUDR. Oh, a very cold, distant man--a good deal of the priest about
him, and as much feeling as that stone figure up there.

MILLY. You didn't like him?

AUDR. Oh, I liked him well enough. But I don't think he cared much for
me. I dare say he's forgotten all about me by this time. Milly----

(_Bursts into tears._)

MILLY. What is it?

AUDR. I'm not well to-night. I oughtn't to have come here. Milly--I
never forget anybody. If I had once loved you I should love you for
ever. If you were wicked, or unfortunate, or unfaithful, it would make
no difference to me. Kiss me, Milly--say you believe me.

MILLY. You know I do, darling.

AUDR. (_very passionately_). I can be constant, Milly--I can! Constant
in my friendship, constant in my love! Oh, Milly, I'm the most
wretched woman in the world!

MILLY. You're hysterical, dear.

AUDR. No, I'm forsaken. Nobody loves me!

(_Sobbing. Gesture from MICHAEL._)

MILLY. Poor Audrie!

AUDR. Let me be a few minutes by myself. I want to be quite alone. Go
home and wait for me there.

MILLY. I don't like leaving you.

AUDR. (_getting her off at transept_). Yes--go, dear. I shall be
better soon. Do leave me.

MILLY. You won't be long?

AUDR. No--I'll come soon.

(_Accompanying her along transept. Exit MILLY by transept. AUDRIE
stands listening. MICHAEL comes forward a step or two._)

AUDR. (_in the transept_). Are you there?

(_He comes forward; she goes towards him; they stand for a moment or
two looking at each other._)

AUDR. Are you deaf? I thought it was only your memory that was gone.

MICH. Why have you come here?

AUDR. Mayn't I come into my own church? And such a sinner as I am?

MICH. Forgive me. You know how welcome I would make you--if I dared.

AUDR. Then you don't dare? Then I'm not welcome?

MICH. (_troubled_). Yes! Yes! Very welcome! The Church owes much to
you.

AUDR. I think she does, for she has robbed me of your love. Why have
you sent back all my letters unopened?

MICH. Can't you guess what it cost me to return them? (_Pause._) What
have you been doing all this last year?

AUDR. Doing? Eating my heart. Racing through my life to get to the end
of it. Skipping and chattering from Hyde Park Corner to the Inferno by
a new short cut. What have you been doing?

MICH. Trying to repent and to forget.

AUDR. Ah, well--I haven't been wasting my time quite so foolishly as
you after all.

MICH. Will you never be serious?

AUDR. Yes--soon.

MICH. You've been ill?

AUDR. Oh, my dear spiritual doctor, you don't know how ill I've been.
I get up every morning without hope, I drag through the day without
hope, I go to this thing and that, to this party, to that reception,
to the theatre, to church, to a pigeon-shooting match, to the park, to
Ascot, to Henley--here, there, everywhere, all without hope.

MICH. What is it you want?

AUDR. I want to live again! I've never lived but those few months when
we were learning to love each other! I want to feel that fierce breeze
on my cheek that blew us together! Do you remember when we stood on
the cliff hand in hand? And we shrieked and laughed down the wind like
mad children? Do you remember?

MICH. No.

AUDR. No? Nor the wonderful pale sunrise, with the lemon and green
lakes of light, and then the path of diamonds all across the sea?
Don't you remember?

MICH. No.

AUDR. How strange you don't remember! Oh, my God, if I could forget!

MICH. (_apart from her_). Oh, my God, if I could forget! (_A long
pause. He comes to her._) I have one awful thought--I am bound to
you--There is but one of us--I never felt it more than at this
moment--And yet the awful thought comes to me--if by any decree we
should be put asunder hereafter--if we should be parted then!

AUDR. Don't you dread being parted now--now this moment? Don't you
dread being unhappy here--here on this earth?

MICH. I will not think of that. I have vowed!

AUDR. You don't love me! You don't love me! You don't love me!

MICH. If I had ten thousand worlds I'd sell them all and buy your
soul. But I will keep the vow I have vowed. You are the holiest thing
on earth to me. I will keep you white and stainless from me.

AUDR. You'll never forget me.

MICH. I have forgotten you.

AUDR. You'll never forget me.

MICH. (_same cold tone, going up the altar steps_). I have forgotten
you.

(_Stands with his back to her for a few moments._)

AUDR. (_with a gesture of resignation_). You'll let me put a bunch or
two of flowers about the church before I go?

MICH. If I asked you not----

AUDR. I should obey you.

MICH. I do ask you not----

AUDR. Very well. It's hard lines that I mayn't decorate my own church.

MICH. I have another request to make--a favour to beg of you.

AUDR. It's done, whatever it is. But make it some great
thing--something very hard and desperate, that I may show you there's
nothing I would not do if you ask it.

MICH. It's something very simple. I'm going to ask you not to be
present at the dedication service to-morrow.

AUDR. But I came on purpose----

MICH. I beg you not. I have a strong reason. You won't come?

AUDR. Not if you wish me to stay away. Shall I see you after
to-morrow?

MICH. After to-morrow I leave Cleveheddon for ever.

AUDR. Where are you going?

MICH. I don't know.

AUDR. It doesn't matter, I shall find you out.

MICH. You'll follow me?

AUDR. Yes--all over this world, and the ten thousand others. I shall
follow you. You'll find me always with you, clawing at your heart. Au
revoir. (_Takes up her basket of roses, going out with them by
transept, stops._) Do let me put some flowers on the altar--just to
remind you. Your memory is so bad, you know.

(_He raises his hand very quietly and turns his back on her. She
stands very quiet and hopeless for a few seconds, then takes up the
basket of flowers, goes a step or two towards transept, turns._)

AUDR. I'm going to be very ill after this. (_He stands at altar in an
attitude of prayer, his back to her._) Do you hear, I'm going to be
very ill? There's a little string in my heart--I've just heard it
snap. (_Pause._) If I were dying and I sent for you, would you come?

MICH. (_after a long pause, very quietly_). Yes.

(_Pause._)

AUDR. And that's all? And that's all? (_He stands unmoved at altar,
his back to her. She takes a large red rose out of the basket, throws
it towards him; it falls on the white marble altar steps._) There's a
flower for to-morrow! Do put it on the altar for me! You won't? You
won't? (_No answer._) It is hard to be turned out of my own church--It
is hard----

(_Exit AUDRIE by transept with the basket of flowers. A sob is heard,
MICHAEL turns round. A door is heard to close. He puts out the altar
lights, throws himself on altar steps. The curtains fall._

_The falling of the curtains signifies the passing of the night_.

_A peal of joyous church bells followed by organ music and singing.
The curtain rises and discovers the church in broad daylight and
filled with worshippers. ANDREW and ROSE are at the corner in
prominent positions. AUDRIE'S flower is lying on the altar steps. A
processional hymn is being sung. A procession of surpliced priests
file up the aisle and take their places in the chancel, walking over
AUDRIE'S rose. MICHAEL follows at the end of the procession; as he
reaches the altar steps, he turns, very pale and cold, and speaks in a
low, calm voice._)

MICH. Before this service begins and this church is re-consecrated I
have a duty to perform to my people. (_Great attention of all._) I
have often insisted in this place on the necessity of a life of
perfect openness before God and man. I have taught you that your lives
should be crystal clear, that your hearts should be filled with
sunlight, so that no foul thing may hide therein. I have enforced that
with others, because I believe with my heart and soul that it is the
foundation of all wholesome and happy human life. I stand here to
affirm it to-day in the presence of God and you all. I stand here to
affirm it against myself as I formerly affirmed it against another. I
stand here to own to you that while I have been vainly preaching to
you, my own life has been polluted with deceit and with deadly sin. I
can find no repentance and no peace till I have freely acknowledged to
you all that I am not worthy to continue my sacred office, not worthy
to be the channel of grace to you. It was the dearest wish of my life
to restore this beautiful temple, and to be Heaven's vicar here. I
have raised it again, but I may not enter. I dare not enter. I have
sinned--as David sinned. I have broken the sanctity of the marriage
vow. It is my just sentence to go forth from you, not as your guide,
your leader, your priest; but as a broken sinner, humbled in the dust
before the Heaven he has offended. I bid you all farewell. I ask your
pardon for having dared to continue in my office knowing I had
profaned and desecrated it. It now remains for me to seek the pardon
of Heaven. Let the service continue without me. Let no one leave his
place. Pray for me all of you! I have need of your prayers! Pray for
me!

(_He comes down from the altar steps amidst the hushed and respectful
surprise of the congregation, who all turn to look at him as he
passes. ROSE makes a very slight gesture of sympathy as he passes her.
ANDREW stands with hands over his eyes. MICHAEL passes out by
transept, his head bowed, his lips moving in prayer as he goes off._)

_Curtain._

(_Ten months pass between Acts IV. and V._)



ACT V

SCENE.--_Reception room of the Monastery of San Salvatore at Majano,
in Italy. A simply furnished room in an old Italian building. At back
right an open door approached by a flight of steps, at back left a
large window; a mass of masonry divides the window and door. A door
down stage, left. The portrait of MICHAEL'S mother hangs on the wall.
Time, a summer evening. Discover FATHER HILARY reading. Enter SIR
LYOLF up the steps and by door at back._

FATHER H. Well?

SIR LYOLF. I've been to see her again. I can't get her out of my mind.

FATHER H. How is she this evening?

SIR LYOLF. In the very strangest state, laughing, crying, jesting,
fainting, and chattering like a magpie. I believe she's dying.

FATHER H. Dying?

SIR LYOLF. Yes. It seems she had a kind of malarial fever a month or
two ago and wasn't properly treated. I wish there was a good English
doctor in the place. And I wish Michael was here.

FATHER H. Be thankful that he is away.

SIR LYOLF. But if he finds out that she has been here, that she has
sent again and again for him, and that we have hidden it from him--and
that she has died?

FATHER H. He mustn't know it until he can bear to hear it. We must
consider him first. Think what he must have suffered all these months.
Now that at last he is learning to forget her, now that he is finding
peace, how wrong, how cruel it would be to reopen his wounds!

SIR LYOLF. She said he promised to come to her if she sent for him.
She begged so hard. She has come from England with the one hope of
seeing him. I felt all the while that I was helping to crush the life
out of her.

FATHER H. What did you tell her?

SIR LYOLF. That he had gone away alone for a few days in the
mountains. That we didn't exactly know where to find him, but that he
might come back at any time, and that I would bring him to her the
moment he returned.

FATHER H. Well, what more can we do?

SIR LYOLF. Nothing now, I suppose. I wish we had sent after him when
she came last week. We could have found him before this. Besides, she
doesn't believe me.

FATHER H. Doesn't believe you?

SIR LYOLF. She thinks that Michael is here with us, and that we are
hiding it from him. I wish he'd come back.

FATHER H. If she is passing away, better it should all be over before
he returns.

SIR LYOLF. I don't like parting them at the last. She loves him, Ned,
she loves him.

FATHER H. Remember it's a guilty love.

SIR LYOLF. Yes, I know.

FATHER H. Remember what it has already cost him.

SIR LYOLF. Yes, I know. But love is love, and whether it comes from
heaven, or whether it comes from the other place, there's no escaping
it. I believe it always comes from heaven!

(_FATHER HILARY shakes his head._)

SIR LYOLF. I'm getting my morals mixed up in my old age, I suppose.
But, by God, she loves him, Ned, she loves him--Who's that?

(_FATHER HILARY looks out of window, makes a motion of silence._)

FATHER H. Hush! He's come back.

SIR LYOLF. I must tell him.

FATHER H. Let us sound him first, and see what his feelings are. Then
we can judge whether it will be wise to let him know.

_Enter up steps and by door MICHAEL in a travelling cloak. He enters
very listlessly. He has an expression of settled pensiveness and
resignation, almost despair. He comes up very affectionately to his
father, shakes hands, does the same to FATHER HILARY. Then he sits
down without speaking._

SIR LYOLF. Have you come far to-day, Michael?

MICH. No, only from Casalta. I stayed there last night.

SIR LYOLF. You are back rather sooner than you expected?

MICH. I had nothing to keep me away. One place is the same as another.

FATHER H. And about the future? Have you made up your mind?

MICH. Yes. I had really decided before I went away, but I wanted this
week alone to be quite sure of myself, to be quite sure that I was
right in taking this final step, and that I should never draw back.
(_To FATHER HILARY._) You remember at Saint Decuman's Isle, two years
ago, you said you could give me a deeper peace than I could find
within or around me?

FATHER H. And I can. And I will.

MICH. Give me that peace. I need it. When can I be received?

FATHER H. When I have prepared you.

MICH. Let it be soon. Let it be soon. (_To his father._) This is a
blow to you----

SIR LYOLF. You know best. I wish you could have seen your way to stay
in your own church.

MICH. I was an unfaithful steward and a disobedient son to her. She is
well rid of me. (_To FATHER HILARY._) You are sure you can give me
that peace----

FATHER H. If you'll but give me your will entirely, and let me break
it in pieces. On no other condition. Come and talk to me alone.

(_Trying to lead him off left._)

SIR LYOLF. No--! (_Goes to MICHAEL._) Michael, you are at peace now,
aren't you?

(_MICHAEL looks at him._)

FATHER H. He will be soon. Leave him to me.

SIR LYOLF. No. I must know the truth from him.

FATHER H. You're wrong to torture him.

SIR LYOLF (_to MICHAEL_). You are at peace now--at least, you are
gaining peace, you are forgetting the past?

FATHER H. He will. He shall. Say no more. (_To MICHAEL._) Come with
me,--I insist!

SIR LYOLF. No. Michael, before you take this last step answer me one
question--I have a reason for asking. Tell me this truly. If by any
chance someone in England--someone who was dear to you----

MICH. Oh, don't speak of her-- (_Turns away, hides his head for a
minute, turns round with a sudden outburst._) Yes, speak of her! Speak
of her! I haven't heard her name for so long! Let me hear it
again--Audrie! Audrie!

FATHER H. (_sternly to SIR LYOLF_). Do you hear? Let him alone. Don't
torment him by dragging up the past. He has buried it.

MICH. No! No! No! Why should I deceive you? Why should I deceive
myself? All this pretended peace is no peace! There is no peace for me
without her, either in this world or the next!

FATHER H. Hush! Hush! How dare you speak so!

MICH. I must. The live agony of speech is better than the dead agony
of silence, the eternal days and nights without her! Forget her? I
can't forget! Look!

(_Takes out a faded red rose._)

SIR LYOLF. What is it?

MICH. A flower she threw me in church the last time I saw her. And I
wouldn't take it! I sent her away! I sent her away! And her flower was
trampled on. The next night I got up in the middle of the night and
went over to the church and found it on the altar steps. I've kept it
ever since. (_To his father._) Talk to me about her. I want somebody
to talk to me about her. Tell me something you remember of her--some
little speech of hers.--Do talk to me about her.

SIR LYOLF. My poor fellow!

MICH. I can't forget. The past is always with me! I live in it. It's
my life. You think I'm here in this place with you--I've never been
here. I'm living with her two years ago. I have no present, no future.
I've only the past when she was with me. Give me the past! Oh! give me
back only one moment of that past, one look, one word from her--and
then take all that remains of me and do what you like with it. Oh!

(_Goes back to bench, sits._)

SIR LYOLF (_to FATHER HILARY_). You see! I must tell him----

FATHER H. No, not while he's in this mad state. Let's quiet him first.

SIR LYOLF. Then we'll take him to her!

FATHER H. When he is calmer.

SIR LYOLF. Take care it isn't too late.

FATHER H. (_goes to MICHAEL, puts his hand on MICHAEL'S shoulder_).
This is weakness. Be more brave! Control yourself!

MICH. Have I not controlled myself? Who trained and guided himself
with more care than I? Who worked as I worked, prayed as I prayed,
kept watch over himself, denied himself, sacrificed himself as I did?
And to what end? Who had higher aims and resolves than I? They were as
high as heaven, and they've tumbled all round me! Look at my life, the
inconsequence, the inconsistency, the futility, the foolishness of it
all. What a patchwork of glory and shame! Control myself? Why? Let me
alone! Let me drift! What does it matter where I go? I'm lost in the
dark! One way is as good as another!

(_The vesper bell heard off at some little distance._)

FATHER H. You've wandered away from the road, and now you complain
that the maps are wrong. Get back to the highway, and you'll find that
the maps are right.

MICH. Forgive me, Uncle Ned--I'm ashamed of this. I shall get over it.
I'll talk with you by and by. I will submit myself. I will be ruled.
Father, come to me. You nursed me yourself night after night when I
was delirious with the fever. I was a child then. I'm a child now.
Talk to me about her. Talk to me about Audrie!

(_AUDRIE'S face, wasted and hectic, appears just over the doorstep,
coming up the steps at back; during the following conversation she
raises herself very slowly and with great difficulty up the steps,
leaning on the wall._)

MICH. I've heard nothing of her. Where do you think she is? In
England? I think I could be patient, I think I could bear my life if I
knew for certain that all was well with her. If I could know that she
is happy--No, she isn't happy--I know that.

SIR LYOLF. Michael, I've had some news of her.

MICH. News! Good? Bad? Quick! Tell me.

SIR LYOLF. You can bear it?

MICH. She's dead? And I never went to her! I never went to her! She
won't forgive me!

SIR LYOLF. She's not dead.

MICH. What then?

SIR LYOLF. You promised you'd go to her if she sent for you.

MICH. Yes.

SIR LYOLF. She has sent for you. (_Sees her entering._)

MICH. She's dying?

(_She has gained the door, just enters, leaning back against the post.
MICHAEL'S back is towards her._)

AUDR. I'm afraid I am.

(_MICHAEL looks at her, utters a wild cry of joy, then looks at her
more closely, realizes she is dying, goes to her, kisses her, bursts
into sobs._)

AUDR. (_putting her hand on his head_). Don't cry. I'm past crying
for. Help me there. (_Points to seat._)

(_He seats her; looks at her with great anxiety._)

AUDR. (_laughing, a little weak feeble laugh, and speaking feebly with
pause between each word_). Don't pull--that--long--face. You'll--make
me--laugh--if you--do. And I want to be--serious now.

MICH. But you're dying!

AUDR. (_with a sigh_). Yes. Can't help it. Sir Lyolf,
pay--coachman--(_taking out purse feebly_) outside--No,
perhaps--better--wait--or bring another sort--of--carriage. But no
mutes--no feathers--no mummery.

SIR LYOLF. I'll send him away. You'll stay with us now?

AUDR. (_nods_). So sorry--to intrude. Won't be very long about it.

(_Exit SIR LYOLF by door and steps; MICHAEL is standing with hands
over eyes._)

FATHER H. (_coming to AUDRIE_). Can I be of any service, any comfort
to you?

AUDR. No, thanks. I've been dreadfully wicked--doesn't much--matter,
eh? Can't help it now. Haven't strength to feel sorry. So sorry I
can't feel sorry.

FATHER H. There is forgiveness----

AUDR. Yes, I know. Not now. Want to be with him.

(_Indicating MICHAEL._)

_SIR LYOLF re-enters by steps._

SIR LYOLF. Come, Ned----

AUDR. (_to FATHER HILARY_). Come back again--in--few minutes. I shall
want you. I've been dreadfully wicked. But I've built a
church--and--(_feverishly_) I've loved him--with all my heart--and a
little bit over.

(_Exeunt SIR LYOLF and FATHER HILARY, door left._)

AUDR. (_motioning MICHAEL_). Why didn't you come when I sent for you?

MICH. I've only known this moment. Why didn't you send before?

AUDR. I sent you hundreds--of messages--from my heart of hearts.
Didn't you get them?

MICH. Yes--every one.

AUDR. I've crawled all over Europe after you. And you aren't worth
it--Yes, you are. You wouldn't come----

MICH. Yes--anywhere--anywhere--take me where you will.

AUDR. You know--he's dead. I'm free.

MICH. Is it so? But it's too late.

AUDR. Yes. Pity! Not quite a well-arranged world, is it? Hold my hand.
We're not to be parted?

MICH. No.

AUDR. Sure?

MICH. Quite sure. You're suffering?

AUDR. No--that's past--(_Shuts her eyes. He watches her._) Very
comfortable--very happy--just like going into a delicious
faint--(_Sighs._) Do you remember--beautiful sunrise--diamonds on the
sea----

MICH. Yes, I remember--all--every moment! And the wind that blew us
together when we stood on the cliff! Oh! we were happy then--I
remember all! All! All!

AUDR. So glad your memory's good at last. (_A vesper hymn heard off at
some distance._) Pity to die on such a lovely evening--not quite
well-arranged world? But we were happy--if the next world has anything
as good it won't be much amiss. I'm going. Fetch--priest--(_MICHAEL is
going to door left; she calls him back._) No. No time to waste. Don't
leave me. We shan't be parted?

MICH. No! No! No! No!

AUDR. (_gives a deep sigh of content, then looks up at his mother's
picture_). She's there? (_MICHAEL nods._) She'll forgive me! (_Blows a
little kiss to the picture._) But I'm your angel--I'm leading you----

MICH. Yes. Where?

AUDR. I don't know. Don't fuss about it. "Le bon Dieu nous pardonnera:
c'est son métier"--(_Closes her eyes._) Not parted?

(_Looks up at him._)

MICH. No! No! No! No!

AUDR. You won't keep me waiting too long? (_Looks up at him, a long
deep sigh of content._) Hold my hand--Tight! tight! Oh! don't look so
solemn----

(_Begins to laugh, a ripple of bright, feeble laughter, growing louder
and stronger, a little outburst, then a sudden stop, as she drops
dead. MICHAEL kisses her lips, her face, her hands, her dress._)

_Enter FATHER HILARY._

MICH. Take me! I give my life, my will, my soul, to you! Do what you
please with me! I'll believe all, do all, suffer all--only--only
persuade me that I shall meet her again!

(_Throws himself on her body._)

CURTAIN.


Printed in the United States of America.



MICHAEL AND HIS LOST ANGEL.

A New and Original Drama.

By HENRY ARTHUR JONES.

16mo. Cloth. 75 cents.


PRESS NOTICES.

"In 'Michael and his Lost Angel' Mr. Henry Arthur Jones has enriched,
not our theatre only, but our literature, with a beautiful love-story.
. . . Where shall we look, in modern fiction or drama, for a large,
simple, lyrical love-story, neither philosophic, nor analytic, nor
moral, but celebrating with the directness of a ballad or folk-tale,
the potency for life or death of the divine illusion? I can think of
nothing which so nearly fulfils this definition as Mr. Jones's finely
inspired romance. It is by far--oh, very far!--the best thing he has
done."
     --WILLIAM ARCHER in _The World._

"One of the great comforts of criticising the work of Mr. Henry Arthur
Jones is that the critic can go straight to the subject-matter without
troubling about the dramatic construction. In the born writer the
style is the man; and with the born dramatist the play is the subject.
Mr. Jones's plays grow: they are not cut out of bits of paper and
stuck together. . . . When I respond to the appeal of Mr. Jones's art
by throwing myself sympathetically into his characteristic attitude of
mind, I am conscious of no shortcoming in 'Michael and his Lost
Angel.' It then seems to me to be a genuinely sincere and moving play,
feelingly imagined, written with knowledge as to the man and insight
as to the woman by an author equipped not only with the experience of
an adept playwright, and a kindly and humorous observer's sense of
contemporary manners, but with that knowledge of spiritual history in
which Mr. Jones's nearest competitors seem so stupendously deficient.
Its art is in vital contact with the most passionate religious
movement of its century, as fully quickened art always has been. . . .
The melancholy truth of the matter is that the English stage got a
good play, and was completely and ignominiously beaten by it."
     --GEORGE BERNARD SHAW in _The Saturday Journal._

"Exquisitely touching, human, sad, and painful is the new play by Mr.
Henry Arthur Jones. . . . Mr. Jones has the courage of his
convictions, and presents uncompromisingly his problem. That his work
is as capable as it is thorough will also be conceded. 'Michael and
his Lost Angel' is a fine, we are not sure that we ought not to say a
great play. Granting the choice of a subject, it is difficult to
imagine treatment more masterly or more effective than it receives."
     --_Daily Graphic._

"In his latest effort Mr. Henry Arthur Jones may not have written a
play that will appeal to the taste of the average playgoer, but he has
unquestionably produced a noble, and we may also add, a great work. It
is serious in tone throughout, there is a rigid adherence to its
single theme, and he has made no. attempt to lighten the subject by
side issues, or lower it by the introduction of any motive or thought
below the high level of achievement which, it is self-evident, he
marked out for himself. We are no upholders of the morbid drama, of
that dragging on to the stage social horrors merely for stage effect,
but if we are to have a serious drama then let it be of the quality of
'Michael and his Lost Angel' produced last night at the Lyceum with
but equivocal success. Mr. Jones has given us a play of
heart-searching truth, a play based on the aspirations and failings of
two souls, of love in conflict with religion. He has brought to bear
on it a depth of study and insight into the workings of the human
heart most profoundly true, and he has clothed the skeleton of his
drama with language so noble and expressive that a single hearing
enables one to do it only faint justice. A powerful command of the
English tongue has long been acknowledged to be among Mr. Jones's
especial gifts, and never before has he, from the purely literary
point of view, accomplished anything so refined and poetical in
expression, so instinct with the true language of the heart. Whatever
may be the success of the new play from the box-office point of view,
there is no doubt that it will rank in the minds of thoughtful men as
his finest work."
     --_Morning Advertiser._

"Mr. Henry Arthur Jones has written his masterpiece--of this there can
be no doubt. But whether 'Michael and his Lost Angel' will achieve a
popular success depends entirely upon how far popular judgment is able
to appreciate this work--deeply sombre, terribly real, and
heartrending from first to last--and whether following with awe its
judiciously-set lesson on the frailty of woman and man, the mind will
not be too much taxed by serious thoughts to consider 'Michael and his
Lost Angel' in the light of an evening's amusement. . . . The fact
remains that Mr. Jones has, with the power of a master, constructed a
play of engrossing interest, knit together with a strength and breadth
of grasp which leaves a feeling of astonishment at the close of the
play, astonishment, because the picturesqueness, and the sorrowful
reality of the play are borne down upon you with a force and
intenseness that leave no escape for the mind to speculate or to
anticipate. The fascination of the picture is absorbing and complete,
and one bounds back to stalls and human faces at the close of each act
with a thud in the brain."
     --_Court Journal._


OTHER WORKS BY HENRY ARTHUR JONES.

SAINTS AND SINNERS. A New and Original Drama of Middle-Class Life, in
Five Acts. 16mo. Cloth. 75 cents.

THE CRUSADERS. An Original Comedy of Modern London Life. 16mo. Cloth.
75 cents.

JUDAH. An Original Play in Three Acts. 16mo. Cloth. 75 cents.

THE MASQUERADERS. An Original Play. _In the press._

THE RENASCENCE OF THE ENGLISH DRAMA. Essays, Lectures, and Fragments
relating to the Modern English Stage, written and delivered in the
years 1883-94. 12mo. Cloth. $1.75.


MACMILLAN & CO.,
66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK.



Transcriber's Note

This transcription is based on scanned images posted by the Internet
Archive from a copy made available by the University of California:

     archive.org/details/michaelhislostan00joneiala

This copy is a 1920 reprint of the edition published in May 1896. In
preparing this transcription, the copy held by the Library of Congress
was also consulted. Images of this copy are posted at:

     archive.org/details/michaelhislostan01jone

The LOC copy appears to be an advance proof submitted to secure
copyright in the United States. The title page of the LOC copy was
date-stamped on December 18, 1895, and the play opened in London in
January 1896. Subsequent printings by Macmillan have a copyright date
of 1895 and a date of publication of May 1896. The LOC copy was
compared with the copy used in the transcription as well as a copy
printed in 1896 held by the Robarts Library at the University of
Toronto and posted at:

     archive.org/details/michaelandhislos00joneuoft

The pagination of the LOC copy and the other consulted copies is
essentially the same.

The differences between the LOC copy and the play as subsequently
printed by Macmillan include:

- The "Preface" and "Author's Note" were added to the 1896 edition.

- On p. 1 of the LOC copy, the stage direction reads: "_showing to the
right part of Cleveheddon Minster in ruins._" In the 1896 edition,
"_a_" has been inserted before "_part_".

- On p. 5 of the LOC copy, the stage direction reads: "_supported by a
Protestant sister._ In the 1896 edition, the words "_a Protestant_"
have been changed to "_an Anglican_".

- On p. 6 of the LOC copy, a line of Michael's reads: "Those of you
who have been moved by all the awful lesson of this morning. . ." In
the 1896 edition, "all" has been deleted.

- On p. 29, at the end of Act I, after the line "Your bad angel has
kissed your good angel," the following stage direction was added to
the 1896 edition: "(_A mock curtsey to him._)"

- On p. 45, Audrie's line "He kicked her on the eye. . ." in the LOC
copy was changed to "He kicked her on the nose. . ." in the 1896
edition.

- On p. 53, the tableau at the end of Act II is different. In the LOC
copy, the stage direction reads "(_Takes both her hands in his, very
slowly._)" and Michael repeats the line "No boat will come to-night!"
followed by "VERY SLOW CURTAIN." In the 1896 edition, the stage
direction reads "(_They stand looking at each other._)" followed by
"VERY SLOW CURTAIN."

- On p. 69 of the LOC copy, Audrie has the line, "My memory is good
for such trifles. Forget you?!" The exclamation mark is deleted in the
1896 edition.

- On p. 73 of the LOC copy, in the scene description at the beginning
of Act IV, the phrase "_Large brass candlesticks on altar with lighted
candles._" is followed by "_The altar covered with flowers._" The
second phrase is deleted from the 1896 edition.

- On p. 74 of the LOC copy, the stage direction at the beginning of
Act IV describes "_the organ boy_" as "_a refined lad about fifteen_".
The  word "_refined_" is deleted from the 1896 edition.

- On p. 82 of the LOC copy, the stage direction reads: "_ROSE is in a
Protestant sister's dress_". In the 1896 edition, the words "_a
Protestant_" have been changed to "_an Anglican_".

- On p. 86 of the LOC copy, Audrie has the line, "Life's the matter
with me, I think, old girl." The phrase "old girl" is deleted from the
1896 edition.

- The 1896 edition corrects for the missing period at the end of
Milly's line "Oh, you give me the creeps" on p. 86 of the LOC copy.

- On p. 96 of the LOC copy, Sir Lyolf has the line, "Ned, I believe
she's dying." "Ned" is deleted from the 1896 edition.

- On p. 97 of the LOC copy, Sir Lyolf has the line, "Ned, she has come
from England with the one hope of seeing him." "Ned" is deleted from
the 1896 edition.

- On p. 98 of the LOC copy, Sir Lyolf has the line, "I wish he'd come
back, Ned." "Ned" is deleted from the 1896 edition.

- On p. 98 of the LOC copy, Sir Lyolf has the line, "Ned, I believe it
always comes from heaven!" "Ned" is deleted from the 1896 edition.

- On p. 98 of the LOC copy, Sir Lyolf has the line, "I must tell him,
Ned." "Ned" is deleted from the 1896 edition.

- On p. 98 of the LOC copy, Michael enters "_in the dress of a monk,
but without a tonsure._" In the 1896 edition, he enters "_in a
travelling cloak._"

- On p. 99 of the LOC copy, the stage direction ends with "_Then he
sits down without speaking._)" The closing parenthesis was deleted in
the 1896 edition.

- On p. 99 of the LOC copy, Michael has the line, "When can I take the
vows?" In the 1896 edition, this line was changed to "When can I be
received?"

- On p. 100 of the LOC copy, Sir Lyolf has the line, "No--! Wait, Ned.
(_Goes to MICHAEL._) Michael, you are at peace now, aren't you?"
"Wait, Ned" is deleted from the 1896 edition.

- On p. 100 of the LOC copy, Sir Lyolf has the line, "No, Ned." "Ned"
is deleted from the 1896 edition.

The advertising included at the end of the copy held by the Robarts
Library is also included in this transcription. This advertising was
included in neither the 1920 reprint nor the LOC copy.

For consistency, closing parentheses were added at the end of stage
directions on the following pages:

- On p. 37, at the end of the stage direction that begins "_Sits
himself resolutely at table_".

- On p. 70, at the end of the stage direction that begins "_She goes
out again_".





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