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Title: Mr. Punch's Dramatic Sequels
Author: Hankin, St. John
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mr. Punch's Dramatic Sequels" ***

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produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)



                   MR. PUNCH'S
                DRAMATIC SEQUELS.

                       BY

                 ST. JOHN HANKIN.

    _WITH FOURTEEN ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATIONS BY_
                  E. J. WHEELER.

                    LONDON:

            BRADBURY, AGNEW, & CO. LD.



CONTENTS.


                                                         PAGE

    ALCESTIS                                                1

    HAMLET                                                 21

    MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING                                 37

    THE CRITIC                                             57

    THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL                                 73

    SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER                                  91

    THE LADY OF LYONS                                     107

    CASTE                                                 125

    PATIENCE, OR BUNTHORNE'S BRIDE                        141

    THE SECOND MRS. TANQUERAY                             159

    THE LADY FROM THE SEA                                 177

    CÆSAR AND CLEOPATRA                                   197

    THE NOTORIOUS MRS. EBBSMITH                           215

    A DRAMATIZED VERSION OF OMAR KHAYYÁM                  231



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


                                                         PAGE

    "HIS FATHER, AGED THOUGH HE WAS, SCOUTED THE
        PROPOSITION AS ABSURD"                              7

    "AND HAMLET STALKING IN THE CORRIDORS"                 27

    "MY DEAR LORD, NEVER MARRY A WITTY WIFE!"              45

    "BUT THEY'RE VERY SEVERE ON THE PLAY"                  61

    "AH, JOSEPH, YOU'RE A SAD DOG!"                        83

    "BUT I'VE ALWAYS BEEN SHY"                             95

    "LET ME GIVE MY CLAUDE'S WIFE A KISS"                 117

    MR. ECCLES MAKES HIS HUNDRED AND FIFTY-SIXTH
        APPEARANCE AT THE POLICE COURT                    131

    "I WANT TO LIVE MY LIFE"                              147

    "SHE ANNOUNCED HER INTENTION OF LEAVING THE
        HOUSE FOR EVER"                                   171

    "NOT BROODING, I TRUST, DEAR?"                        185

    "I'D GIVE MY GENIUS FOR YOUR DIGESTION ANY DAY"       211

    "FRIDAY, YOU KNOW, IS THE MEETING OF THE AGAMISTS'
        LEAGUE"                                           223

    "MYSHTICISM, DIFFICULT WORD TO SAY, MYSTICISHM"       239



PREFATORY.


    _Plays end too soon. They never show
    The whole of what I want to know._

    _The curtain falls and I'm perplexed
    With doubts about what happened next._

    _Did HAMLET'S father haunt no more
    The battlements of Elsinore?_

    _Does LADY TEAZLE never call
    At LADY SNEERWELL'S now at all?_

    _Was BENEDICK'S a happy marriage?
    And will the MELNOTTES keep a carriage?_

    _Will AUBREY take to wife one day
    Another MRS. TANQUERAY?_

    _Do ECCLES and his stepson wrangle?
    Has anything been heard of DANGLE?
    What has become of MRS. WANGEL?_

    _I've asked again and yet again
    These questions--hitherto in vain!_

    _I sought the answers near and far.
    At length they came, and here they are:--_



Alcestis.

_How Admetus was saved from the disagreeable necessity of dying by his
wife Alcestis, who was permitted to die in his stead, and how Heracles,
in gratitude for Admetus' hospitality, wrestled with Death for her
and restored her to her husband, has been narrated by Euripides. What
Euripides did not do was to give us any hint of the subsequent history
of the reunited couple. Did they live happily ever afterwards, or----?
But the sequel must show. It is written in the woman-hating vein so
often seen in Euripides, and its title has been Latinized for the
benefit of those who have forgotten their Greek._

HERCULES VICTUS.


  SCENE.--_Before ADMETUS' Palace. That worthy enters hurriedly
    through the Royal doors, which he bangs behind him with a slight
    want of dignity. He soliloquises._

ADMETUS.

    Ye gods, how long must I endure all this,
    The ceaseless clamour of a woman's tongue?
    Was it for this ye granted me the boon
    That she might give her life in place of mine,
    Only that Heracles might bring her back,
    Torn from the arms of Death to plague me thus?
    This was your boon, in sooth no boon to me.
    How blind is man, not knowing when he is blest!
    Fool that I was, I mourned Alcestis' death
    Almost as much as I should mourn my own.
    Indeed I thought, so great my grief appeared,
    I would almost have laid my own life down
    --Almost I say--to bring her back to earth.
    Yet, now she lives once more she makes me weep
    More bitter tears than I did ever shed
    When I believed her gone beyond recall.

                                                    [_Weeps bitterly._

CHORUS.

FIRST SEMICHORUS.

    Oh, what a doubtful blessing is a wife
            Who saves your life
    And then doth make it doubly hard to live!
            Alas, she doth but give
            A gift we cannot prize
            But count it in our eyes
    As nothing worth--a thing to spurn, to cast away,
    To form the theme of this depreciatory lay!

SECOND SEMICHORUS.

    Alcestis, what a shame it is to find
            This kingly mind
    So much disturbed, this kingly heart so wrung,
            By thy too active tongue
            Thou gav'st thy life for his
            But oh, how wrong it is
    To make that life which thou so nobly didst restore
    A thing he values not at all, in fact a bore!

FIRST SEMICHORUS.

              O wretched race of men,
              When shall we see again
              The peace that once ye had
                  Ere woman bad,
                    Or mad,
              Did cross your happy path
                    In wrath,
    And doom you to a tedious life of fear and fret,
    Of unavailing tears and unconcealed regret!

SECOND SEMICHORUS.

            O Heracles, what shame
            Shall cloud thy previous fame
            Who brought this lady back
              Along the black
                Steep track,
            Where Death and she did fare,
                A pair
    (At least, as far as we can ascertain) content
    To those Tartarean halls which hear no argument!

              [_Enter ALCESTIS. She is in a bad temper, and is weeping
                     as only Euripides' characters can._

ALCESTIS.

    Ah! woe is me! Why was I ever born?
    And why, once dead, did I return again
    To this distressful earth? Oh, Heracles,
    Why did you bear me back to this sad place,
    This palace where Admetus sits enthroned?
    Oh, what a disagreeable fate it is
    To live with such a husband--hear his voice
    Raised ever in complaint, and have no word
    Of gratitude for all I did for him!
    Was there another creature in the world
    Who willingly would die for such a man?
    Not one! His father, aged though he was,
    Scouted the proposition as absurd.
    His mother, when approached, declined in terms
    Which I should hesitate to reproduce,
    So frank and so unflattering they were.
    But I, I gave my life instead of his,
    And what is my reward? A few cold words
    Of thanks, a complimentary phrase or two,
    And then he drops the subject, thinks no more
    About the matter and is quite annoyed
    When, as may happen once or twice a day,
    I accidentally allude to it!

[Illustration: E. J. Wheeler.

          "His father, aged though he was,
    Scouted the proposition as absurd."]

ADMETUS.

    [_Bursting into indignant stichomuthia._] Not once or twice
    but fifty times a day.

ALCESTIS.

    Nay, you can have too much of a good thing.

ADMETUS.

    I don't agree. Speech is a good to men....

ALCESTIS.

    Your drift, as yet, I do not well perceive.

ADMETUS.

    ... Yet too much speech is an undoubted ill.

ALCESTIS.

    Ah, you rail ever at a woman's tongue.

ADMETUS.

    Where the cap fits, why, let it there be worn.

ALCESTIS.

    You spoke not thus when I redeemed your life.

ADMETUS.

    No, for I thought you gone ne'er to return.

ALCESTIS.

    'Twas not of mine own will that I came back.

ADMETUS.

    I'm very certain that 'twas not of mine!

ALCESTIS.

    Tell that to Heracles who rescued me.

ADMETUS.

    I will, next time he comes to stay with us.

ALCESTIS.

    You say that, knowing that he cannot come.

ADMETUS.

    Why should he not? What keeps him then away?

ALCESTIS.

    Cleansing Augean stables: a good work!

ADMETUS.

    Idiot! He never will let well alone.

ALCESTIS.

[_Tired of only getting in one line at a time._]

    Iou! Iou! What thankless things are men!
    And, most of all, how thankless husbands are!
    We cook their dinners, sew their buttons on,
    And even on occasion darn their socks,
    And they repay us thus! But see where comes
    Great Heracles himself. 'Tis ever thus
    With heroes. Mention them, and they appear.

                 [_Enter HERACLES in the opportune manner customary in
                         Greek tragedy._

HERACLES.

    [_Preparing to salute the gods at great length._] Great Zeus,
    and thou, Apollo, and thou too----

ADMETUS.

    [_Interrupting hurriedly._] Oh, Heracles, you come in fitting time
    To this afflicted and much suffering house.

HERACLES.

    Wherefore afflicted? Anybody dead?

ADMETUS.

    Not dead, but living. That the grievance is.

HERACLES.

    A plague on riddles! Make your meaning clear.

ADMETUS.

    Six months, six little months, six drops of time!

HERACLES.

    You still remain unwontedly obscure.

ADMETUS.

    Six months ago you tore my wife from Death.

HERACLES.

    Well, what of that? What's all the fuss about?

ADMETUS.

    I know you did it, meaning to be kind,
    But, oh, it was a terrible mistake.
    Indeed, I think it positively wrong
    That you should interfere with Nature's laws
    In this extremely inconsiderate way.
    Depend upon it when a lady dies
    It's most unwise to call her back again.
    You should have left Alcestis to the shades
    And me to live a happy widower.

HERACLES.

    Ungrateful man, what words are these you speak?
    Were you not glad when I did bring her back?

ADMETUS.

    I _was_. But that was several months ago.
    And in the interval I have found cause,
    A dozen times a day, to change my mind.

HERACLES.

    What cause so strong that you should wish her dead?

ADMETUS.

    Well, if you must be told, she's sadly changed;
    Dying has not at all agreed with her.
    Before Death took her she was kind and mild,
    As good a wife as any man could wish,
    How altered is her disposition now!
    She scolds the servants, sends away the cook,
    --A man I've had in my employ for years--
    And actually criticises ME!

HERACLES.

    I'm really very much distressed to hear
    This mournful news. But what am I to do?

ADMETUS.

    Make Death receive her back: an easy task.

HERACLES.

    But will Alcestis see it, do you think?

ALCESTIS.

    Please, don't distress yourself on _her_ account;
    She'd leave her husband upon _any_ terms.
    Is there a woman in the whole wide world
    That would not rather die a dozen times
    Rather than live her life out with this man,
    This puling, miserable, craven thing,
    Who lets his wife lay down her life for him
    And, when by miracle she is restored
    To earth again and claims his gratitude,
    Has the bad taste to grumble at the fact?

ADMETUS.

    I told you, Heracles, she had a tongue.

HERACLES.

    Indeed, she's well equipped in that respect.

ALCESTIS.

    To such a man the stones themselves would speak.

HERACLES.

    Well, lady, are you then content to die?

ALCESTIS.

    I'm positively anxious to be off.

HERACLES.

    Then will I go and make Death take you hence.

ALCESTIS.

    I'm sure I shall be very much obliged.

ADMETUS.

    But, oh! not half so much obliged as I.

HERACLES.

    So be it, then. Death won't be far away.
    And when I've found him and have punched his head,
    I'll make him come and take you off at once.

                                                     [_Exit HERACLES._

_The Chorus, who appear to have borrowed their metre from "Atalanta
in Calydon," sing as follows:--_

CHORUS.

        Is this really to put
          An end to our cares,
        To the toils where our foot
          Was caught unawares?
    Will Heracles really put straight this unfortunate state
        of affairs?

        Will he overthrow Death
          For the second time here?
        Will he do as he saith
          And in due time appear
    With the news which will lay fair Alcestis a second time
        out on her bier?

        She will die, she proclaims,
          With the utmost good-will,
        And she calls us all names
          In a voice that is shrill
    While she vows that the sight of Admetus, her husband,
          is making her ill!

        It hardly seems wise
          To spurn and reject
        Your husband with cries--
          To which all men object,
    But Admetus is scarcely the husband to inspire any wife
        with respect.

        Lo, Heracles comes,
          A hero confessed!
        But he twiddles his thumbs
          And looks somewhat depressed.
    Can it be that at last he's been conquered? Well, all I
        can say is, I'm blest!

                                  [_The Chorus sit down in dejection._

_Enter HERACLES._

HERACLES.

    First I salute the gods, great Zeus in chief....

ADMETUS.

    [_Interrupting._] Oh, skip all that. Tell us about the
    fight.

HERACLES.

    Iou! Iou!

ADMETUS.

    Don't yap like that. Speak up. What is your news?

HERACLES.

    My friends, I saw Death slinking down the drive.
    I stopped him, told him that this lady here
    Was anxious for his escort to the Shades,
    Reminded him that I had once before
    Rescued her from his grasp, and pointed out
    How generous I was thus to restore
    What then I took. In fact, I put the best
    Complexion on the matter that I could.

ALCESTIS.

    Well? Did he say that he would take me back?

HERACLES.

    By no means. He declined emphatically.
    He will not take you upon any terms.
    Death is no fool; he knows what he's about!

ADMETUS.

    But did you not compel him to consent?

HERACLES.

    I did my best. We had a bout or two
    Of wrestling, but he threw me every time.
    Finally, out of breath, and sadly mauled,
    I ran away--and here I am, in fact.

ALCESTIS.

    You stupid, clumsy, fat, degenerate lout,
    I positively hate the sight of you!
    Out of my way, or I shall scratch your face!
    If Dejanira feels at all like me,
    She'll borrow Nessus' shirt and make you smart!

                                                      [_Exit angrily._

HERACLES.

    Oh, what a vixen! Can you wonder Death,
    When I approached him, would not take her back?

ADMETUS.

    I can't pretend I'm very much surprised
    Although, if you will pardon the remark,
    I think you might have made a better fight.
    Better not stay to dine. It's hardly safe.
    Alcestis isn't to be trifled with,
    And if she murdered you _I_ should be blamed!

                                                  [_Exit sorrowfully._

CHORUS.

    [_Rising fussily._] How ill-natured of Death!
                    What a horrible thing!
                  It quite takes my breath
                    And I pant as I sing.
    If Alcestis is really immortal, what a terrible blow for the King!

_Curtain._



Hamlet.

_Among the plays which seem specially to require a sequel, "Hamlet"
must certainly be reckoned. The end of Act V. left the distracted
kingdom of Denmark bereft alike of King, Queen, and Heir-Presumptive.
There were thus all the materials for an acute political crisis. It
might have been imagined that the crown would fall inevitably to
the Norwegian Prince Fortinbras who, being on the spot with an army
behind him, certainly seems to have neglected his chances. It is
clear, however, from the sequel that Fortinbras failed to rise to the
occasion, and that Horatio, being more an antique Roman than a Dane,
seized his opportunity and by a_ coup d'état _got possession of the
vacant throne. Nor would Fortinbras appear to have resented this, as we
find him subsequently visiting Horatio at Elsinore. There is, however,
a Nemesis which waits upon Usurpers, as the sequel shows. The sequel,
by the way, should have been called "Ghosts," but that title has been
already appropriated by a lesser dramatist._

THE NEW WING AT ELSINORE.


  SCENE I.--_The Platform before the old part of the Castle as in
    Act I. HORATIO and FORTINBRAS come out of the house swathed in
    overcoats, the former looking nervously over his shoulder. It is a
    dark winter's evening after dinner._

FORTINBRAS.

    [_Shivering slightly._] 'Tis bitter cold----

HORATIO.

    [_Impatiently._] And you are sick at heart.
    _I_ know.

FORTINBRAS.

    [_Apologetically._] The fact is, when I get a cold
    I often can't get rid of it for weeks.
    I really think we may as well stay in.

HORATIO.

    [_Doggedly._] I'm sorry, but I can't agree with you.
    I shall sit here.

        [_Sits down resolutely with his back to the castle._

FORTINBRAS.

    [_Turning up his coat collar resignedly._] It's perfect rot, you know,
    To let yourself be frightened by a Ghost!

HORATIO.

    [_Angrily._] A Ghost! You're always so inaccurate!
    Nobody minds a spectre at the feast
    Less than Horatio, but a dozen spectres,
    All sitting round your hospitable board
    And clamouring for dinner, are a sight
    No one can bear with equanimity.
    Of course, I know it's different for you.
    _You_ don't believe in ghosts!... Ugh, what was that?

FORTINBRAS.

    Nothing.

HORATIO.

    I'm sure I saw a figure moving there.

FORTINBRAS.

    Absurd! It's far too dark to _see_ at all.
    [_Argumentatively._] After all, what _are_ ghosts?
    In the most high and palmy state of Rome
    A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
    People saw _hoards_ of them! Just ring for lights,
    And let us make ourselves as comfortable
    As this inclement atmosphere permits.

HORATIO.

    [_Despondently._] I'd ring with pleasure, if I thought the bell
    Had any prospect of being answered.
    But as there's not a servant in the house----

FORTINBRAS.

    [_Annoyed._] _No_ servants?

HORATIO.

    [_Bitterly._]              As my genial friend, Macbeth,
    Would probably have put it, "Not a maid
    Is left this vault to brag of." In other words,
    They left _en masse_ this morning.

FORTINBRAS.

                                      Dash it all!
    Something is rotten in the state of Denmark
    When you, its reigning monarch, cannot keep
    Your servants for a week.

HORATIO.

    [_Sadly._]           Ah, Fortinbras,
    If you inhabited a haunted castle
    You'd find _your_ servants would give warning too.
    It's not as if we only had _one_ ghost.
    They simply _swarm_! [_Ticking them off on his fingers._]
                          There's Hamlet's father.
    He walks the battlements from ten to five.
    You'll see him here in half an hour or so.
    Claudius, the late King, haunts the State apartments,
    The Queen the keep, Ophelia the moat,
    And Rosencrantz and Guildenstern the hall.
    Polonius you will usually find
    Behind the arras murmuring platitudes,
    And Hamlet stalking in the corridors.
    Alas, poor ghost! his fatal indecision
    Pursues him still. He can't make up his mind
    Which rooms to _take_--you're never safe from _him_!

FORTINBRAS.

    But why object to meeting Hamlet's Ghost?
    I've heard he was a most accomplished Prince,
    A trifle fat and scant of breath, perhaps;
    But then a disembodied Hamlet
    Would doubtless show a gratifying change
    In that respect.

HORATIO.

    [_Irritably._] I tell you, Fortinbras,
    It's not at all a theme for joking.
    However, when the New Wing's finished
    I shall move in, and all the ghosts in limbo
    May settle here as far as I'm concerned.

[Illustration: E. J. Wheeler.

    "And Hamlet stalking in the corridors."]

FORTINBRAS.

    When will that be?

HORATIO.

                      The architect declares
    He'll have the roof on by the end of March.

FORTINBRAS.

    [_Rising briskly._] It is a nipping and an eager air.
    Suppose we stroll and see it?

HORATIO.

    [_Rising also._]         With all my heart.
    Indeed, I think we'd better go at once.

                                                    [_Looks at watch._

    The Ghost of Hamlet's father's almost due.
    His morbid love of punctuality
    Makes him arrive upon the stroke of ten,
    And as the castle clock is always fast
    He's rather apt to be before his time.

           [_The clock begins to strike as they exeunt hastily. On the
                   last stroke, GHOST enters._

GHOST.

    I am Hamlet's father's spirit,
    Doomed for a certain term to walk the night,
    And for the day....                 [_Stops, seeing no one there._
                        What! Nobody about?
    Why, this is positively disrespectful.
    I'll wait until Horatio returns
    And, when I've got him quietly alone,
    I will a tale unfold will make him jump!

                          [_Sits down resolutely to wait for HORATIO._


  SCENE II.--_Before the New Wing of the Castle. The two Clowns,
    formerly grave-diggers but now employed with equal appropriateness
    as builders, are working on the structure in the extremely
    leisurely fashion to be expected of artizans who are not members of
    a Trades Union._

1ST CLOWN.

[_In his best Elizabethan manner._] Nay, but hear you, goodman
builder----

2ND CLOWN.

[_In homely vernacular._] Look here, Bill, you can drop that jargon.
There's no one here but ourselves, and I ain't amused by it. It's all
very well to try it on when there's gentlefolk about, but when we're
alone you take a rest.

1ST CLOWN.

[_Puzzled._] Ay, marry!

2ND CLOWN.

[_Throwing down tools._] Stow it, I say, or I'll have to make you.
Marry, indeed! If you mean "Yes," say "Yes." If you mean "No," say "No."

1ST CLOWN.

All right, mate.

2ND CLOWN.

[_Grumbling._] It's bad enough staying up all night building more rooms
on to this confounded castle--I should have thought it was big enough
and ugly enough without _our_ additions--but if I'm to listen to _your_
gab, s'help me----!

1ST CLOWN.

Hush! here comes some one.

                 [_They make a valiant pretence of work as HORATIO and
                         FORTINBRAS enter._

HORATIO.

[_Ecstatically, completely deceived by this simple ruse._] _My_
Master-Builders!

FORTINBRAS.

Idle dogs!

1ST CLOWN.

[_Elizabethan again._] Argal, goodman builder, will he nill he, he that
builds not ill builds well, and he that builds not well builds ill.
Therefore, perpend!

HORATIO.

[_Appreciatively._] How absolute the knave is!

FORTINBRAS.

He seems to me to be an absolute fool.

HORATIO.

Not at all. A most intelligent working man. I'll draw him out. [_To 1ST
CLOWN._] When will the house be finished, sirrah?

1ST CLOWN.

When it is done, Sir.

HORATIO.

Ay, fool, and when will that be?

1ST CLOWN.

When it is finished, o' course.

HORATIO.

[_To FORTINBRAS._] There! What do you call _that_? Witty, eh?

FORTINBRAS.

I call it perfectly idiotic, if you ask me.

HORATIO.

Well, well; we'll try again. [_To 1ST CLOWN._] And whose is the house,
fellow?

1ST CLOWN.

[_Fatuously._] Marry, his that owns it. Ask another.

HORATIO.

[_To FORTINBRAS._] Ha! Ha! Good again. By the Lord, Fortinbras, as
Hamlet used to say, the toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of
the courtier, it galls his kibe.

FORTINBRAS.

[_Savagely._] The toe of the courtier is getting so perilously near the
person of the peasant that you'd better get rid of the latter as soon
as possible.

HORATIO.

[_Doubtfully._] Perhaps you're right. And yet I was always taught to
consider that kind of thing awfully entertaining. But, there. Fashions
change in humour as in other things. Send them away.

FORTINBRAS.

[_Giving them money._] Away with you, fellows. Go and get drunk.

                                                     [_Exeunt clowns._

HORATIO.

    [_Relapses into blank verse on their departure._]
    What think you of the New Wing, Fortinbras?
    The whole effect is cheerful, is it not?
    Good large sash windows, lots of light and air;
    No mediæval nonsense.

FORTINBRAS.

    [_Who does not admire the building._] So I see!

HORATIO.

    No ghosts _here_, eh, to stalk about the rooms
    And fade against the crowing of the cock?

FORTINBRAS.

    Probably not--and, yet--look there, Horatio;
    There's something in the shadow over there,
    Moving towards the house. It's going in.
    Stop it, Horatio.

HORATIO.

    [_Furious._]     Here, I can't stand this.
    I'll cross it though it blast me. Stay, Illusion!

                                                  [_The figure stops._

    Are you aware, Sir, that you're trespassing?
    This is a private house.

GHOST.

    [_In a sepulchral voice._] My private house!

HORATIO.

    Oh, come, you know, you can't mean that! _Your_ house?
    Considering that I'm building it myself--
    Of course, assisted by an architect--
    I think you must admit there's some mistake.

GHOST.

    [_Turning and advancing towards them._]
    Pooh! What do _I_ care for your architect?
    It's _mine_, I say, _my_ house, _my_ plot, _my_ play.
    _I_ made them all!

HORATIO.

                      Oh, my prophetic soul!
    Shakspeare!

GHOST.

    The same.

HORATIO.

                          I say, confound it all,
    Do _you_ propose to haunt the castle too?

GHOST.

    Yes, the New Wing.

HORATIO.

                        It's really much too bad.
    You've filled the old part of the house with spectres;
    I think you might have left the new to me.

FORTINBRAS.

    That seems a reasonable compromise.

GHOST.

    I shall stay _here_; make up your mind to that,
    But if you like to share the Wing with me
    I've no objection.

HORATIO.

    [_Stiffly._]   Thanks, I'd rather not.
    I shall consult with my solicitor,
    And if he can't eject you from the place
    I'll sell it, ghosts and all! Come, Fortinbras.

                                                 [_Exit with dignity._

_Curtain._



Much Ado about Nothing.

_The end of "Much Ado about Nothing" must always leave the sympathetic
playgoer in tears. The future looks black for everybody concerned.
Claudio's jealous disposition will make him a most uncomfortable
husband for the resuscitated Hero, while Benedick and Beatrice are
likely to find that a common taste in badinage is not the most
satisfactory basis for matrimony. When it is added that Don John's
genius for plotting is sure in the end to get him into trouble one
feels that nothing can be gloomier than the prospects of the entire
cast._

MORE ADO ABOUT NOTHING.


  SCENE.--_The garden of BENEDICK'S house at Padua. BENEDICK is
    sitting on a garden seat, sunning himself indolently. BEATRICE is
    beside him, keeping up her reputation for conversational brilliancy
    by a series of sprightly witticisms._

BEATRICE.

Very likely I do talk twice as much as I should. But then, if I talk
too much you certainly listen far too little, so we are quits. Do you
hear?

BENEDICK.

[_Opening his eyes slowly._] Eh?

BEATRICE.

I believe you were asleep! But there--'tis a great compliment to my
wit. Like Orpheus, I can put even the savage beasts to sleep with it.
[_BENEDICK'S eyes close again, and he appears to sink into a profound
doze._] But if the beasts go to sleep there's no use in being witty.
I suppose Orpheus never thought of that. Come, wake up, good Signior
Beast. [_Prods him coquettishly with her finger._] Have you forgotten
that the Duke is coming?

BENEDICK.

[_Drowsily._] When will he be here?

BEATRICE.

Ere you have done gaping.

BENEDICK.

[_Terribly bored by this badinage._] My dear, if only you would
occasionally answer a plain question. When do you expect him?

BEATRICE.

[_Skittish to the last._] Plain questions should only be answered by
plain people.

BENEDICK.

[_Yawning heartily._] A pretty question then.

BEATRICE.

Pretty questions should only be asked by pretty people. There! What do
you think of _that_ for wit!

BENEDICK.

Really, my dear, I can hardly trust myself to characterise it
in--er--fitting terms. [_Rings bell. Enter Page._] When is the Duke
expected? PAGE.

In half-an-hour, Sir.

BENEDICK.

Thank you.

                                                         [_Exit Page._

BEATRICE.

[_Pouting._] You needn't have rung. I could have told you that.

BENEDICK.

I am sure you could, my dear. But as you wouldn't----

BEATRICE.

I was going to, if you had given me time.

BENEDICK.

Experience has taught me, my dear Beatrice, that it is usually much
quicker to ring! [_Closes his eyes again._]

BEATRICE.

How rude you are!

BENEDICK.

[_Half opening them._] Eh?

BEATRICE.

I said it was very rude of you to go to sleep when I am talking.

BENEDICK.

[_Closing his eyes afresh._] It's perfectly absurd of you to talk when
I am going to sleep.

BEATRICE.

[_Girding herself for fresh witticisms._] Why absurd?

BENEDICK.

Because I don't hear what you say, of course, my love.

BEATRICE.

[_Whose repartees have been scattered for the moment by this adroit
compliment._] Well, well, sleep your fill, Bear. I'll go and bandy
epigrams with Ursula.

                   [_Exit BEATRICE. BENEDICK looks cautiously round to
                        see if she is really gone, and then heaves
                        a sigh of relief._

BENEDICK.

Poor Beatrice! If only she were not so incorrigibly sprightly. She
positively drives one to subterfuge.

                [_Produces a book from his pocket, which he reads with
                        every appearance of being entirely awake._

_Enter DON PEDRO, as from a journey._

_BENEDICK does not see him._

DON PEDRO.

Signior Benedick!

BENEDICK.

[_Starting up on hearing his name._] Ah, my dear Lord. Welcome to Padua.

DON PEDRO.

[_Looks him up and down._] But how's this? You look but poorly, my good
Benedick.

BENEDICK.

I am passing well, my Lord.

DON PEDRO.

And your wife, the fair Beatrice? As witty as ever?

BENEDICK.

[_Grimly._] Quite!

DON PEDRO.

[_Rubbing his hands._] I felt sure of it! _I_ made the match, remember!
_I_ said to old Leonato "She were an excellent match for Benedick" as
soon as I saw her.

BENEDICK.

[_Sighing._] So you did, so you did.

DON PEDRO.

[_Puzzled._] I'm bound to say you don't seem particularly happy.

BENEDICK.

[_Evasively._] Oh, we get on well enough.

DON PEDRO.

Well enough! Why, what's the matter, man? Come, be frank with me.

BENEDICK.

[_Impressively._] My dear Lord, never marry a witty wife! If you do,
you'll repent it. But it's a painful subject. Let's talk of something
else. How's Claudio? I thought we should see him--and Hero--with you.

DON PEDRO.

[_Looking slightly uncomfortable._] Claudio is--er--fairly well.

BENEDICK.

Why, what's the matter with him? _His_ wife isn't developing into a
wit, is she?

DON PEDRO.

No. She's certainly not doing _that_!

BENEDICK.

Happy Claudio! But why aren't they here then?

[Illustration: E. J. Wheeler.

    "My dear Lord, never marry a witty wife!"]

DON PEDRO.

[_Coughing nervously._] Well, the truth is, Claudio's marriage hasn't
been exactly one of my successes. You remember I made _that_ match too?

BENEDICK.

I remember. Don't they hit it off?

DON PEDRO.

[_Querulously._] It was all Claudio's suspicious temper. He never would
disabuse his mind of the idea that Hero was making love to somebody
else. You remember he began that even before he was married. First it
was _me_ he suspected. Then it was the mysterious man under her balcony.

BENEDICK.

You suspected him too.

DON PEDRO.

That's true. But that was all my brother John's fault. Anyhow,
I thought when they were once married things would settle down
comfortably.

BENEDICK.

You were curiously sanguine. I should have thought anyone would have
seen that after that scene in the church they would never be happy
together.

DON PEDRO.

Perhaps so. Anyhow, they weren't. Of course, everything was against
them. What with my brother John's absolute genius for hatching
plots, and my utter inability to detect them, not to speak of
Claudio's unfortunate propensity for overhearing conversations and
misunderstanding them, the intervals of harmony between them were
extremely few, and, at last, Hero lost patience and divorced him.

BENEDICK.

So bad as that? How did it happen?

DON PEDRO.

Oh, in the old way. My brother pretended that Hero was unfaithful, and
as he could produce no evidence of the fact whatever, of course Claudio
believed him. So, with his old passion for making scenes, he selected
the moment when I and half-a-dozen others were staying at the house and
denounced her before us all after dinner.

BENEDICK.

The church scene over again?

DON PEDRO.

No. It took place in the drawing-room. Hero behaved with her usual
dignity, declined to discuss Claudio's accusations altogether, put the
matter in the hands of her solicitor, and the decree was made absolute
last week.

BENEDICK.

She was perfectly innocent, of course?

DON PEDRO.

Completely. It was merely another _ruse_ on the part of my amiable
brother. Really, John's behaviour was inexcusable.

BENEDICK.

Was Claudio greatly distressed when he found how he had been deceived?

DON PEDRO.

He was distracted. But Hero declined to have anything more to do with
him. She said she could forgive a man for making a fool of himself
once, but twice was too much of a good thing.

BENEDICK.

[_Frowning._] That sounds rather more epigrammatic than a really _nice_
wife's remarks should be.

DON PEDRO.

She had great provocation.

BENEDICK.

That's true. And one can see her point of view. It was the publicity of
the thing that galled her, no doubt. But poor Claudio had no reticence
whatever. That scene in the church was in the worst possible taste. But
I forgot. _You_ had a share in that.

DON PEDRO.

[_Stiffly._] I don't think we need go into that question.

BENEDICK.

And now to select the hour, after a dinner party, for taxing his wife
with infidelity! How like Claudio! Really, he must be an absolute fool.

DON PEDRO.

Oh, well, _your_ marriage doesn't seem to have been a conspicuous
success, if you come to that.

BENEDICK.

[_Savagely._] That's no great credit to you, is it? _You_ made the
match. You said as much a moment ago.

DON PEDRO.

I know, I know. But seriously, my dear Benedick, what is wrong?
BENEDICK.

[_Snappishly._] Beatrice, of course. You don't suppose _I'm_ wrong, do
you?

DON PEDRO.

Come, that's better. A spark of the old Benedick. Let me call your wife
to you, and we'll have one of your old encounters of wit.

BENEDICK.

[_Seriously alarmed._] For Heaven's sake, no. Ah, my dear Lord, if you
only knew how weary I am of wit, especially Beatrice's wit.

DON PEDRO.

You surprise me. I remember I thought her a most amusing young lady.

BENEDICK.

[_Tersely._] You weren't married to her.

DON PEDRO.

But what is it you complain of?

BENEDICK.

Beatrice _bores me_. It is all very well to listen to sparkling sallies
for ten minutes or so, but Beatrice sparkles for hours together. She is
utterly incapable of answering the simplest question without a blaze
of epigram. When I ask her what time it is, she becomes so insufferably
facetious that all the clocks stop in disgust. And once when I was
thoughtless enough to enquire what there was for dinner, she made so
many jokes on the subject that I had to go down without her. And even
then the soup was cold!

DON PEDRO.

[_Quoting._] "Here you may see Benedick, the married man!"

BENEDICK.

Don't _you_ try to be funny too! One joker in a household is quite
enough, I can tell you. And poor Beatrice's jokes aren't always in the
best of taste either. The other day, when the Vicar came to lunch he
was so shocked at her that he left before the meal was half over and
his wife has never called since.

DON PEDRO.

My poor Benedick, I wish I could advise you. But I really don't know
what to suggest. My brother could have helped you, I'm sure. He was
always so good at intrigue. But unfortunately I had him executed after
his last exploit with Claudio. It's most unlucky. But that's the worst
of making away with a villain. You never know when you may need him.
Poor John could always be depended upon in an emergency of this kind.

BENEDICK.

[_Gloomily._] He is certainly a great loss.

DON PEDRO.

Don't you think you could arrange so that Beatrice should overhear you
making love to someone else? We've tried that sort of thing more than
once in this play.

BENEDICK.

[_Acidly._] As the result has invariably been disastrous, I think we
may dismiss that expedient from our minds. No, there's nothing for it
but to put up with the infliction, and by practising a habit of mental
abstraction, reduce the evil to within bearable limits.

DON PEDRO.

I don't think I quite follow you.

BENEDICK.

In plain English, my dear Lord, I find the only way to go on living
with Beatrice is never to listen to her. As soon as she begins to be
witty I fall into a kind of swoon, and in that comatose condition
I can live through perfect coruscations of brilliancy without
inconvenience.

DON PEDRO.

Does she like that?

BENEDICK.

Candidly, I don't think she does.

DON PEDRO.

Hold! I have an idea.

BENEDICK.

[_Nervously._] I hope not. Your ideas have been singularly unfortunate
hitherto in my affairs.

DON PEDRO.

Ah, but you'll approve of this.

BENEDICK.

What is it?

DON PEDRO.

Leave your wife, and come away with me.

BENEDICK.

[_Doubtfully._] She'd come after us.

DON PEDRO.

Yes, but we should have the start.

BENEDICK.

That's true. By Jove, I'll do it! Let's go at once.

                                                     [_Rises hastily._

DON PEDRO.

I think you ought to leave some kind of message for her--just to say
good-bye; you know. It seems more polite.

BENEDICK.

Perhaps so. [_Tears leaf out of pocket-book._] What shall it be, prose
or verse? I remember Claudio burst into poetry when he was taking leave
of Hero. Such bad poetry too!

DON PEDRO.

I think you might make it verse--as you're leaving her for ever. It
seems more in keeping with the solemnity of the occasion.

BENEDICK.

So it does. [_Writes._]

    Bored to death by BEATRICE' tongue
      Was the hero that lived here----

DON PEDRO.

Hush! Isn't that your wife over there in the arbour?

BENEDICK.

[_Losing his temper._] Dash it all! There's nothing but eaves-dropping
in this play.

DON PEDRO.

Perhaps she doesn't see us. Let's steal off, anyhow, on the chance.

                 [_They creep off on tip-toe (R) as BEATRICE enters with
                         similar caution (L)._

BEATRICE.

[_Watching them go._] Bother! I thought I should overhear what they
were saying. I believe Benedick is really running away. It's just
as well. If he hadn't, _I_ should. He had really grown too dull for
anything. [_Sees note which BENEDICK has left._] Ah, so he's left a
message. "Farewell for ever," I suppose. [_Reads it. Stamps her foot._]
Monster! If I ever see him again I'll scratch him!

_Curtain._



The Critic.

_Everybody who has seen "The Critic" must have been filled with
curiosity to read the Press notices on Mr. Puff's tragedy "The Spanish
Armada." The following sequel to Sheridan's comedy embodies some of
these._

THE OTHER CRITICS.


  SCENE.--_DANGLE'S house. MR. and MRS. DANGLE, SNEER and SIR FRETFUL
    PLAGIARY discovered discussing the first performance of PUFF'S
    play, which has taken place a week previously. A table is littered
    with Press cuttings dealing with the event, supplied by the
    indispensable Romeike._

SIR FRETFUL PLAGIARY.

I give you my word, the duel scene was taken wholly from my comedy _The
Lovers Abandoned_--pilfered, egad!

DANGLE.

Bless my soul! You don't say so?

SIR FRETFUL PLAGIARY.

And _Tilburina's_ speech about the "finches of the grove." 'Twas _I_
first thought of finches, in my tragedy of _Antoninus_!

DANGLE.

But I can't believe my friend Puff can have borrowed deliberately from
_you_, Sir Fretful.

SNEER.

No one could possibly believe _that_!

SIR FRETFUL PLAGIARY.

Eh?

MRS. DANGLE.

It must have been a coincidence.

SIR FRETFUL PLAGIARY.

Coincidence! Egad, Madam, 'twas sheer theft. And that use of the white
handkerchief! Stolen bodily, on my conscience. Coincidence!

DANGLE.

[_Judicially._] It may be so--though he _is_ my friend.

SIR FRETFUL PLAGIARY.

_May_ be so! It _is_ so! Zounds, Dangle, I take it very ill that you
should have any doubt at all about the matter!

DANGLE.

[_Hedging._] The resemblances are certainly very marked--though he _is_
my friend. But will you hear what the critics say about it?

                       [_Turning nervously to pile of Press cuttings._

[Illustration: E. J. Wheeler.

    "But they're very severe on the play."]

SIR FRETFUL PLAGIARY.

Do they say anything about his indebtedness to _me_?

SNEER.

Not a word, I dare be sworn.

SIR FRETFUL PLAGIARY.

Then I don't want to hear them. None of the rogues know their business.

DANGLE.

But they're very severe on the play.

SIR FRETFUL PLAGIARY.

Are they? There's something in the fellows, after all. Pray read us
some of the notices.

DANGLE.

Shall I begin with _The Times_? 'Tis very satirical, and as full of
quotations as a pudding is of plums.

SNEER.

I know the style--a vocabulary recruited from all the dead and living
languages. 'Tis the very Babel of dramatic criticism. Begin, Dangle.

DANGLE.

[_Reading._] "The philosopher who found in thought the proof of
existence, crystallised his theory in the phrase '_Cogito ergo sum_,'
'I think, therefore, I exist.' In this he found the explanation of what
Hugo called the _néant géant_. The theory of the author of _The Spanish
Armada_, on the contrary, seems to be '_Sum, ergo non cogitabo_,' 'I
exist, therefore I need not think'----"

SIR FRETFUL PLAGIARY.

Ha! Ha! Very good, i' faith.

DANGLE.

[_Continuing._] "'_Lasciate ogni speranza_' the audience murmurs with
Dante, as three mortal hours pass and Mr. Puff is still prosing. Nor
has he any dramatic novelty to offer us. The _scène à faire_ is on
conventional lines. The boards are hoar with the _neiges d'antan_.
There is the _anagnorisis_ desiderated by Aristotle, and the unhappy
ending required by the Elizabethans. The inevitable _peripeteia_----"

MRS. DANGLE.

You know, Mr. Dangle, I don't understand a single word you're reading.

SNEER.

Nor I, upon my soul.

SIR FRETFUL PLAGIARY.

It is certainly somewhat difficult.

DANGLE.

Shall I omit a few sentences, and go on again, where the allusions are
less obscure? [_Reads half aloud to himself, knitting his brows in
the effort to understand what it is all about._] "No trace of Heine's
_Weltschmerz_ ... _capo e espada_ ... Nietschze's _Uebermensch_ ...
_ne coram pueros_ ... Petrarch's immortal _Io t'amo_ ... _le canif du
jardinier et celui de mon père_----"

MRS. DANGLE.

Really, Mr. Dangle, if you can find nothing more intelligible to read
than that farrago of jargon, I shall go away. Pray read us something in
_English_, for a change.

DANGLE.

[_Much relieved, selecting another cutting._] Here's the _Daily
Telegraph_--a whole column.

SNEER.

Not much _English_ there, I'll warrant.

DANGLE.

[_Reading._] "Time was when the London playhouses had not been invaded
by the coarse suggestiveness or the veiled indelicacy of the Norwegian
stage, when _Paterfamilias_ could still take his daughters to the
theatre without a blush. Those days are past. The Master--as his
followers call him--like a deadly upas tree, has spread his blighting
influence over our stage. Morality, shocked at the fare that is nightly
set before her, shuns the playhouse, and vice usurps the scene once
occupied by the manly and the true----"

SNEER.

[_Who has been beating time._] Hear! hear!

DANGLE.

"In the good old days, when Macready----"

SIR FRETFUL PLAGIARY.

Zounds, Mr. Dangle, don't you think we might leave Macready out of the
question? I notice that when the _Daily Telegraph_ mentions Macready
the reference never occupies less than a quarter of a column. You might
omit that part, and take up the thread further on.

DANGLE.

Very well. [_Continuing._] "It is impossible not to be astonished
that a writer of Mr. Puff's talents should break away from the
noble traditions of Shakspeare to follow in the footsteps of the
Scandinavian----"

MRS. DANGLE.

Surely, Mr. Dangle, we've had that before.

DANGLE.

[_Testily._] No; not in the same words.

MRS. DANGLE.

But the sense----

DANGLE.

Egad, why will you interrupt! You can't expect a writer for the penny
press to have something new to say in every sentence! How the plague
is a dramatic critic who has nothing to say to fill a column, if he is
never to be allowed to repeat himself?

SNEER.

How, indeed!

SIR FRETFUL PLAGIARY.

Ah, I remember when my play _The Indulgent Husband_ was produced----

SNEER.

[_Yawning._] I think, Dangle, you might leave the _Telegraph_ and try
one of the weekly papers. What does _The World_ say?

DANGLE.

As you will. [_Selecting a new cutting._] "In his new play _The Spanish
Armada_ Mr. Puff has set himself to deal with one of those problems of
feminine psychology with which Ibsen, Hauptmann, and Sudermann, and all
the newer school of continental dramatists have made us familiar. The
problem is briefly this. When filial duty beckons a woman one way and
passion another, which call should she obey? Should she set herself to
'live her life,' in the modern phrase, to realise her individuality
and stand forth glad and free as Gregers Werle says? Or should she
deny her _ego_, bow to the old conventions, accept the old Shibboleths
and surrender her love? Like _Nora_, like _Hedda_, _Tilburina_ is a
personality at war with its environment...."

SIR FRETFUL PLAGIARY.

[_Interrupting._] Pray, Mr. Dangle, did you not tell me the critics
were all unfavourable to Mr. Puff's play?

DANGLE.

Nearly all of them. But if the other critics abuse a play, you will
always find the critic of _The World_ will praise it. 'Tis the nature
of the man.

SIR FRETFUL PLAGIARY.

But how does he know what the other fellows will say?

DANGLE.

Easily. You see, he writes only for a weekly paper, and always reads
what the others have said first. _Then_ he takes the opposite view.

SNEER.

No wonder he's so often right!

DANGLE.

[_Continuing._] "In Whiskerandos we have the man of primary emotions
only. Like Solnes, he climbs no steeples; like Lövborg, he may now and
then be seen with the vine leaves in his hair...."

MRS. DANGLE.

Stop, stop, Mr. Dangle! Surely there must be some mistake. I don't
remember that Whiskerandos had anything in his hair. He wore a helmet
all the time!

DANGLE.

[_Irritably._] Metaphor, madam, metaphor! [_Continuing._] "In Lord
Burleigh we hear something of the epic silence which is so tremendous
in Borkman...."

SIR FRETFUL PLAGIARY.

Egad, Mr. Dangle, doesn't the fellow abuse the play at all?

DANGLE.

[_Looking through the article._] I don't think he does.

SIR FRETFUL PLAGIARY.

Then I'll hear no more of him. What possible pleasure can there be in
hearing criticisms of other people's plays if they are favourable?

SNEER.

None whatever!

                                                     [_Enter SERVANT._

SERVANT.

[_Announcing._] Mr. Puff!

DANGLE.

[_Advancing to meet him with a smile of the warmest affability._] Ah,
my dear friend, we were reading the notice of your tragedy in _The
World_. 'Tis extremely friendly. And as Sir Fretful remarked a moment
since, "What pleasure can there be in reading criticisms of people's
plays if they aren't favourable?"

PUFF.

Sir Fretful is most obliging.

SIR FRETFUL PLAGIARY.

The _Telegraph_ was somewhat severe, though, eh, Mr. Puff?

PUFF.

'Tis very like.

DANGLE.

You have not seen it? Let me read it to you.

                              [_Searches eagerly in pile of cuttings._

PUFF.

[_Indifferently._] I never look at unfavourable criticisms.

SNEER.

A wise precaution, truly!

PUFF.

Very. It saves valuable time. For if a notice is unfavourable, I am
always sure to have it read aloud to me by one d----d good-natured
friend or another!

_Curtain._



The School for Scandal.

_"The School for Scandal" ends, it will be remembered, with the
reconciliation of Sir Peter and Lady Teazle, the complete exposure of
Joseph Surface and the rehabilitation of Charles. But how long did the
Teazle reconciliation last? And if Sir Oliver Surface left all his
fortune to his nephew Charles, how long did that young gentleman take
to run through it?_

THE RELAPSE OF LADY TEAZLE.


  SCENE.--_Room in SIR PETER TEAZLE'S house. SIR PETER and LADY
    TEAZLE discovered wrangling as in Act II._

SIR PETER.

Lady Teazle, Lady Teazle, I'll not bear it.

LADY TEAZLE.

Sir Peter, Sir Peter, you've told me that a hundred times. This habit
of repeating yourself is most distressing. 'Tis a sure sign of old age.

SIR PETER.

[_In a passion._] Oons, Madam, will you never be tired of flinging my
age in my face?

LADY TEAZLE.

Lud, Sir Peter, 'tis you that fling it in mine. How often have you
said to me [_beating time_] "when an old bachelor marries a _young_
wife----"

SIR PETER.

And if I have, Lady Teazle, you needn't repeat it after me. But you
live only to plague me. And yet 'twas but six months ago you vowed
never to cross me again. Yes, Madam, six months ago, when I found you
concealed behind a screen in Mr. Surface's library, you promised that
if I would forgive you your future conduct should prove the sincerity
of your repentance. I forgave you, Madam, and this is my reward!

LADY TEAZLE.

And am _I_ to blame, Sir Peter, for your ill-humours? Must I always
be making concessions? To please you, I have given up all routs and
assemblies, attend no balls nor quadrilles, talk no scandal, never ogle
nor flirt. I go no more to my Lady Sneerwell's, though I vow hers was
a most delightful house to visit. Such fashion and elegance. Such wit!
Such delicate malice!

SIR PETER.

[_Fretfully._] Just so, Madam; that is what I complain of. All the
while you are longing to return to these follies. You are not happy
when you are alone with me.

LADY TEAZLE.

Great heavens, Sir Peter: you must not ask for miracles. What woman of
fashion is ever happy alone with her husband?

SIR PETER.

There it is, Lady Teazle. You think only of fashion. And yet, when I
married you----

LADY TEAZLE.

[_Yawning._] Lud, Sir Peter, why will you be always returning to that
painful subject?

SIR PETER.

Vastly painful, no doubt, Madam, since it prevents you from marrying
Mr. Surface, behind whose screen I found you.

LADY TEAZLE.

[_Yawning more heartily._] Mr. Surface? But 'twas Charles you used to
suspect.

SIR PETER.

[_Angrily._] And now 'tis Joseph. Zounds, Madam, is a man never to be
allowed to change his mind? [_Raising his voice in fury._] I say 'tis
Joseph! Joseph!! Joseph!!!

       [_Enter JOSEPH SURFACE. SIR PETER and LADY TEAZLE are obviously
               disconcerted at this inopportune arrival, and say
               nothing. JOSEPH has greatly changed in appearance in
               the six months which have elapsed between the play and
               the sequel. He has lost his sleekness and his air of
               conscious virtue, and looks like a careless,
               good-humoured man-about-town._

JOSEPH.

[_Obviously enjoying their discomfort._] Sir Peter, your servant. Lady
Teazle, your most obedient [_bows profoundly_].

SIR PETER.

[_Stiffly._] To what, Mr. Surface, do we owe the _honour_ of this visit?

JOSEPH.

[_Blandly, correcting him._] _Pleasure_, Sir Peter.

SIR PETER.

[_Testily._] I said "honour," Sir.

JOSEPH.

[_Easily._] I came at the invitation of Sir Oliver, who is staying in
your house. He desired to see me.

LADY TEAZLE.

[_Viciously, to SIR PETER._] If this gentleman's business is with Sir
Oliver, perhaps he will explain why he has intruded in _this_ room.

JOSEPH.

[_Amused._] With pleasure. My attention was arrested by the sound of
voices raised in dispute. I heard my name mentioned loudly more than
once, and, recognizing one of the voices as that of Lady Teazle [_with
a low bow_], I thought it better to interpose to defend my character at
once.

LADY TEAZLE.

[_Stamping her foot._] Insolent!

SIR PETER.

[_Chuckling._] Ha, ha! Very good. I' faith, Mr. Surface, I could almost
find it in my heart to forgive you for your injuries towards me when
you talk like that.

JOSEPH.

Injuries, Sir Peter? I never did you an injury. That affair of the
screen was the merest misunderstanding. I had no desire at all to
capture the affections of Lady Teazle. On the contrary, 'twould have
been highly inconvenient for me. 'Twas your ward Maria that I wished to
win.

LADY TEAZLE.

Monster!

JOSEPH.

[_Continuing._] Unhappily, Lady Teazle mistook the nature of my
attentions and I, knowing her temper [_bowing to LADY TEAZLE_], feared
to undeceive her lest she should use her influence to prejudice me in
the eyes of your ward. That, Sir Peter, is the true explanation of the
situation in which you found Lady Teazle on that unlucky morning.

LADY TEAZLE.

[_With suppressed fury._] Pray Sir Peter, do you propose to continue to
permit this gentleman to speak of me in this way?

SIR PETER.

Certainly, Madam. Everything that Mr. Surface has said seems to me to
bear the stamp of truth.

LADY TEAZLE.

Ah!

JOSEPH.

So, you see, Sir Peter, you never had any real cause of jealousy
towards me. My conduct was foolish, I admit, but it was never criminal.

SIR PETER.

Joseph, I believe you. Give me your hand. Six months ago I thought you
guilty of the basest treachery towards me. But a year of marriage with
Lady Teazle has convinced me that, in her relations with you as in her
relations with me, it is always Lady Teazle who is in the wrong.

                                           [_They shake hands warmly._

LADY TEAZLE.

I will not stay here to be insulted in this manner. I will go straight
to Lady Sneerwell's, and tear both your characters to tatters.

                                         [_Exit in a violent passion._

SIR PETER.

Oons, what a fury! But when an old bachelor marries a young wife----

JOSEPH.

Come, come, Sir Peter, no sentiments!

SIR PETER.

What, _you_ say that! My dear Joseph, this is indeed a reformation. Had
it been Charles now, I should not have been surprised.

JOSEPH.

Egad, Sir Peter, in the matter of sentiments Charles, for a long time,
had a most unfair advantage of me. For, having no character to lose,
he had no need of sentiments to support it. But now I have as little
character as he, and we start fair. Now I am a free man; I say what
I think, do what I please. Scandal has done its worst with me, and I
no longer fear it. Whereas, when I had a character for morality to
maintain, all my time was wasted in trying to live up to it. I had to
conceal every trifling flirtation, and had finally wrapped myself in
such a web of falsehood that when your hand tore away the veil, I give
you my word, I was almost grateful. Depend upon it, Sir Peter, there's
no possession in the world so troublesome as a good reputation.

SIR PETER.

[_Digging him in the ribs._] Ah, Joseph, you're a sad dog. But here
comes your uncle, Sir Oliver. I'll leave you with him.

                                                              [_Exit._

_Enter SIR OLIVER, reading a sheaf of legal documents._

SIR OLIVER.

[_Reading._] Eighty, one hundred and twenty, two hundred and twenty,
three hundred pounds! Gad, the dog will ruin me.

JOSEPH.

Sir Oliver, your servant.

[Illustration: E. J. Wheeler.

    "Ah, Joseph, you're a sad dog!"]

SIR OLIVER.

[_Looking up._] Eh? Is that you, Nephew. Yes, I remember. I sent for
you.

JOSEPH.

You are busy this morning, Uncle. I'll wait upon you another day.

SIR OLIVER.

No, no, Joseph. Stay, and hear what I have to tell you. I sent for you
to say that I had decided to pardon your past misconduct and restore
you to favour. Six months of Charles's society have convinced me of the
folly of adopting a reprobate.

JOSEPH.

I thought they would, Uncle.

SIR OLIVER.

Your brother's extravagances pass all bounds. Here are four writs which
were served upon him but yesterday. And the fellow has the assurance to
send them on to me. [_JOSEPH laughs heartily._] Zounds, Nephew, don't
stand chuckling there. And his character has not reformed one whit,
in spite of his promises. His flirtations with my Lady Sneerwell and
others are so excessive that Maria has quite thrown him over, and the
engagement is broken off. Add to this that I have paid his debts three
times, only to find him contracting fresh liabilities, and you may
judge that my patience is exhausted.

JOSEPH.

But these are old stories, Uncle. You knew that Charles was vicious and
extravagant when you made him your heir. He has done nothing fresh to
offend you.

SIR OLIVER.

On the contrary. He has done something which has hurt me deeply.

JOSEPH.

How absurd of him, Uncle, when he knows that he is dependent wholly on
your bounty!

SIR OLIVER.

Wait till you have heard the whole story. A week ago your brother came
to me for money to meet some gambling debt. I refused him. Whereupon,
he returned to his house, had in an auctioneer and sold everything that
it contained.

JOSEPH.

[_Much amused._] And did you play little Premium a second time, Uncle?

SIR OLIVER.

[_Testily._] Certainly not, Sir. On this occasion I left the rogue to
settle matters for himself.

JOSEPH.

But I see no great harm in this. Why should not Charles sell his
furniture?

SIR OLIVER.

[_Angrily._] Deuce take his furniture. He sold my picture!

JOSEPH.

What, "the ill-looking little fellow over the settee"?

SIR OLIVER.

Yes.

JOSEPH.

Ha! ha! ha! Delicious! Sold his Uncle's portrait! Gad, I like his
spirit.

SIR OLIVER.

You seem vastly entertained, Nephew!

JOSEPH.

I confess the humour of the situation appeals to me.

SIR OLIVER.

Happily for you I am less easily amused. No, no; Charles is a heartless
scoundrel, and I'll disown him.

JOSEPH.

No, no, Uncle. He's no worse than other young men.

SIR OLIVER.

But he sold my picture!

JOSEPH.

He was pressed for money.

SIR OLIVER.

[_Exasperated._] But he sold my picture!!

JOSEPH.

He meant no harm, I'll be bound.

SIR OLIVER.

[_Still more enraged._] But he sold my picture!!!

            [_Enter SIR PETER hurriedly, looking pale and disordered._

JOSEPH.

My dear Sir Peter, you are ill! You have had bad news?

SIR OLIVER.

Sir Peter, old friend, what is it?

SIR PETER.

[_Gasping._] Lady Teazle----

                                        [_Stops, choked with passion._

SIR OLIVER.

Not dead?

SIR PETER.

Dead! Hell and furies! if it were only that! No; run away with your
profligate nephew Charles!

JOSEPH.

Impossible!

SIR OLIVER.

Is this certain?

SIR PETER.

Ay. Rowley saw them driving together in a post-chaise towards Richmond,
not ten minutes ago.

SIR OLIVER.

Then I disown him. Joseph, you are my heir. But see that you behave
yourself, or I'll disinherit you, too, and leave my money to a
missionary society.

_Curtain._



She Stoops to Conquer.

_Many people must have wondered whether happiness resulted from the
marriage between Charles Marlow, whose shyness with ladies, it will be
remembered, prevented his ever having a word to say to any woman above
the rank of a barmaid, and the vivacious Kate Hardcastle. The following
sequel reveals the painful truth._

STILL STOOPING.


  SCENE I.--_The parlour of CHARLES MARLOW'S house. He and KATE are
    sitting on opposite sides of the fire. Silence reigns, and CHARLES
    fidgets nervously._

KATE.

[_Anticipating a remark subsequently made by PAULA TANQUERAY._] Six
minutes!

CHARLES.

[_Finding his tongue with an effort._] Er--eh?

KATE.

Exactly six minutes, dear, since you made your last remark.

CHARLES.

[_Laughing uneasily and blushing._] Um--ah!--ha! ha.

KATE.

Well? What are you going to say next? It's really time you made an
observation of some kind, you know.

CHARLES.

[_Helplessly._] Um--er--I've nothing to say.

KATE.

[_Rallying him._] Come, make an effort.

CHARLES.

[_In desperation._] It's--er--a fine day.

KATE.

[_Genially._] Considering that it's raining steadily, dear, and has
been for the past half-hour, I hardly think that can be considered a
fortunate opening.

CHARLES.

[_Covered with confusion._] Confound it! so it is. Forgive me--er--my
dear, I didn't know what I was saying.

KATE.

You very seldom do, dear--to me.

CHARLES.

What a fool you must think me!

KATE.

[_Touched by his evident sincerity._] Never mind. It's a shame to
laugh at you. But you _are_ rather absurd, you know. [_She goes
over and kisses him. He accepts the caress with gratitude, but blushes
painfully._]

[Illustration: E. J. Wheeler.

    "But I've always been shy."]

CHARLES.

I know, my love. But I've always been shy like that. It's an
idiosyncrasy.

KATE.

Not idiosyncrasy, dear. Idiocy. The words are so much alike.

CHARLES.

[_Hurt._] Ah, now you're laughing at me!

KATE.

Of course I am, goose. [_Argumentatively._] You see, dear, as long as
you were a bachelor it was all very well to be bashful. But now that we
are married, I really think you ought to fight against it!

CHARLES.

Fight against it! I fight against it every hour of the day. Every
morning I say to myself, "I really must get over this ridiculous
shyness. I must try and show Kate how much I--er--love her."

KATE.

You are curiously unsuccessful, dear.

CHARLES.

[_Miserably._] I feel that. But it's not for lack of trying.
[_Desperately._] Do you suppose, Kate, that anything but the strongest
effort of will keeps me sitting in this chair at this moment? Do I
ever, save under compulsion, remain in the same room with _any_ lady
for more than five minutes? Why, my dear girl, if I didn't love you to
distraction, I shouldn't remain here an instant!

KATE.

You certainly have a curious method of displaying an ardent attachment.

CHARLES.

Yes. It's most unfortunate. But I warned you, dear, didn't I? I told
you all about my absurd bashfulness before we became engaged. You knew
that the presence of ladies invariably reduced me to speechlessness
before you accepted me.

KATE.

[_Sweetly._] Not _invariably_, my love. What about your prowess with
Mrs. Mantrap and Lady Betty Blackleg that you told me about? [_CHARLES
blushes crimson._] Didn't they call you "their agreeable Rattle" at the
Ladies' Club in Town?

CHARLES.

I--er--get on well enough with--um--er disreputable ladies. But
you--er--aren't disreputable.

KATE.

You are too modest, dear. Some of your conquests are _quite_
respectable. Didn't I come upon you in the act of kissing Anne, the
housemaid, yesterday? And no one can pretend that _my_ housemaids are
disreputable!

CHARLES.

[_Sighing._] Yes. I'm not shy with housemaids.

KATE.

So I noticed. I sent Anne away this morning.

CHARLES.

[_With real concern._] Not Anne!

KATE.

Yes. And Sarah too. I thought I detected in you a lurking _penchant_
for Sarah.

CHARLES.

[_Simply._] Yes, I liked Sarah.

KATE.

So now we haven't a single maid in the house. It's really very
inconvenient.

CHARLES.

You must get others.

KATE.

For you to make eyes at? Certainly not. By the way, is there _any_
type of female domestic servant whom you do not find irresistibly
attractive? Dark ones? Fair ones? Young ones? Old ones? Tall ones?
Short ones? [_He shakes his head at each question._] Not one?

CHARLES.

I'm afraid not.

KATE.

[_With decision._] Then I must do the house-work myself.

CHARLES.

[_Delighted._] Charming! My dear Kate, how delightful! Put on a cap and
apron and take a broom in your hand, and my bashfulness will vanish at
once. I know it will.

KATE.

It seems the only course open to us, especially as there's no one
else to sweep the rooms. But I wish you were not so unfortunately
constituted.

CHARLES.

[_Heartily._] So do I. But, after all, we must accept facts and make
the best of them. You stooped to conquer, you know. You must go on
stooping. Go and put on an apron at once.


  SCENE II.--_CHARLES'S special sitting-room, where he is wont to
    hide his shyness from visitors. Time, a week later. KATE, in a
    print dress, cap and apron, is on her knees before the fire-place
    cleaning up the hearth._

CHARLES.

[_Entering the room unperceived, stealing up behind her and giving her
a sounding kiss._] Still stooping, Kate!

KATE.

Charles! [_Rising._]

CHARLES.

[_Kissing her again._] Ah, Kate, Kate, what a charming little creature
you are, and how much I love you!

KATE.

But how long will you go on loving me?

CHARLES.

Always, dearest--in a cap and apron. [_Embraces her._]

KATE.

It's rather hard that I should have to remain a housemaid permanently
in order to retain my husband's affection.

CHARLES.

[_Seriously._] It is, dear. I see that.

KATE.

However, there's nothing to be done, so I may as well accustom myself
to the idea as soon as possible. [_Takes a broom and begins to sweep
the floor._] You don't think your absurd shyness is likely to diminish
with time?

CHARLES.

It may, dear. But I think it would be unwise to count upon it. No, as
far as I can see, the only thing to be done is for you to continue in
your present occupation--you sweep charmingly--for the rest of your
natural life.

KATE.

[_Sweeping industriously._] What would my father say if he saw me!

CHARLES.

[_Easily._] He won't see you. He hasn't been over since we were married.

                                                   [_A ring is heard._

KATE.

[_Starting._] Who's that?

CHARLES.

What does it matter? No one will be shown in here. Jenkins has orders
never to bring visitors into my room.

KATE.

That's true. [_Returns to her sweeping._]

             [_Suddenly the door opens and MR. HARDCASTLE enters, with
                     elaborate heartiness, thrusting aside JENKINS,
                     who vainly tries to keep him out._

HARDCASTLE.

Zounds, man, out of the way! Don't talk to me about the parlour. Can't
I come and see my son-in-law in any room I choose?

                 [_CHARLES mutters an oath; KATE stands, clutching her
                         broom convulsively, facing her father._

HARDCASTLE.

[_Boisterously._] How d'ye do, son-in-law? Kate, my dear, give me a
kiss. Heavens, child, don't stand there clinging to a broomstick as
though you were going to fly away with it. Come and kiss your old
father.

                       [_KATE drops the broom nervously and kisses him
                               obediently._

CHARLES.

[_Endeavouring by the warmth of his welcome to divert attention from
his wife._] How d'ye do, Sir--How d'ye do? [_Wringing his hand._]

HARDCASTLE.

[_Noticing a small heap of dust on the carpet, which has been collected
by KATE'S exertions._] Eh, what's this? Why, I believe you were
actually sweeping the room, Kate!

KATE.

[_Shamefacedly._] I am sorry, father, that you should have found me so
unsuitably employed.

HARDCASTLE.

Unsuitably? On the contrary, nothing could be more suitable.

KATE.

[_Annoyed._] Come, Papa, don't _you_ begin to be eccentric too!

HARDCASTLE.

[_Stiffly._] I am not aware that there is anything eccentric about me.

CHARLES.

[_Intervening nervously._] No, no, Sir. Of course not.

HARDCASTLE.

But when I find my daughter laying aside her finery and looking after
her house, I cannot conceal my satisfaction. Ah, Charles, you have
improved her greatly. When she lived at home, you remember, I had
hard enough work to persuade her to lay aside fine clothes and wear
her housewife's dress in the evenings. As for sweeping, I never even
ventured to suggest it.

KATE.

[_Indignantly._] I should think not!

HARDCASTLE.

And yet, Kate, if you knew how charming you look in a print frock, a
cap and apron----

KATE.

[_Laughing in spite of herself._] You, too! Really, papa, I'm ashamed
of you. However, you seem both of you determined that I should pass the
remainder of my days as a housemaid, so I suppose you must have your
way. This is what comes of "stooping to conquer." Now go away, both of
you, and leave me to finish sweeping.

                                   [_Takes up broom again resolutely._

HARDCASTLE.

We will, Kate. Come, Charles.

                                                              [_Exit._

CHARLES.

Coming, Sir [_darting across to his wife and kissing her._] Darling!

KATE.

Goose!

                            [_He goes out hurriedly after HARDCASTLE._

_Curtain._



The Lady of Lyons.

_When Lord Lytton provided the conventional "happy ending" for "The
Lady of Lyons" by reuniting Pauline, née Deschappelles, to the
devoted Claude Melnotte, promoting the latter to the rank of Colonel
in the French army, he seems not to have troubled his head as to the
divergent social ideas of the happy pair, nor as to how the vulgar and
purse-proud family of Deschappelles and the humbler Melnottes would
get on together. The sequel throws a lurid light on these points.
In writing it, great pains have been taken to make the blank verse,
wherever possible, as bad as Lord Lytton's._

IN THE LYONS DEN.


  SCENE.--_The drawing-room of CLAUDE MELNOTTE'S house. PAULINE is
    sitting by the fire, CLAUDE leaning with his back against the
    mantelpiece. JAMES, a man-servant in livery, enters with a card on
    a salver._

PAULINE.

[_Reading card._] Mrs. Smith! Not at home, James.

CLAUDE.

[_Who can never quite get out of his habit of speaking in blank verse._]

    Why are you not at home to Mrs. Smith?

PAULINE.

My dear Claude, that woman! Mr. Smith kept a greengrocer's shop. 'Tis
true he made a great deal of money by his contracts to supply the
armies of the Republic with vegetables, but they are not gentlepeople!

CLAUDE.

    [_In his most Byronic manner._] What is it makes a gentleman, Pauline?
    Is it to have a cousin in the Peerage----

PAULINE.

Partly that, dear.

CLAUDE.

    [_Refusing to be interrupted._] Or is it to be honest,
    simple, kind----

PAULINE.

But I have no reason for believing Mr. Smith to have been more honest
than the general run of army contractors.

CLAUDE.

    [_Continuing._] Gentle in speech and action as in name?
    Oh, it is this that makes a gentleman!
    And Mr. Smith, although he kept a shop,
    May very properly be so described.

PAULINE.

Yes, I know, dear. Everybody calls himself a gentleman nowadays, even
the boy who cleans the boots. But I am not going to give in to these
unhealthy modern ideas, and I am not going to visit Mrs. Smith. She is
not in Society.

CLAUDE.

    [_Off again on his high horse._] What is Society? All noble men----

PAULINE.

[_Objecting._] But Mr. Smith isn't a _nobleman_, Claude.

CLAUDE.

    ... And women, in whatever station born,
    These, only these, make up "Society."

PAULINE.

[_Patiently._] But that's such a dreadful misuse of words, dear. When
one talks of "Society," one does not mean good people, or unselfish
people, or high-minded people, but people who keep a carriage and give
dinner parties. Those are the only things which really matter socially.

CLAUDE.

    Pauline, Pauline, what dreadful sentiments!
    They show a worldly and perverted mind.
    I grieve to think my wife should utter them!

PAULINE.

[_Very sweetly._] I wish, Claude, you'd try and give up talking in
blank verse. It's very bad form. And it's very bad verse, too. Try and
break yourself of it.

CLAUDE.

    [_Off again._] All noble thoughts, Pauline----

PAULINE.

No, no, no, Claude. I really can't have this ranting. Byronics are
quite out of fashion.

CLAUDE.

[_Relapsing gloomily into prose._] You may laugh at me, Pauline, but
you know I'm right.

PAULINE.

Of course you're right, dear. Much too right for this wicked world.
That's why I never can take your advice on any subject. You're so
unpractical.

CLAUDE.

    [_Breaking out again._]
    The world, the world, oh, how I hate this world!

PAULINE.

Now that's silly of you, dear. There's nothing like making the best
of a bad thing. By the way, Claude, didn't you say Mrs. Melnotte was
coming to call this afternoon?

CLAUDE.

Yes. Dear mother, how nice it will be to see her again!

PAULINE.

It will be charming, of course.... I do hope no one else will call at
the same time. Perhaps I'd better tell James we are not at home to
anyone except Mrs. Melnotte.

CLAUDE.

Oh, no, don't do that. My mother will enjoy meeting our friends.

PAULINE.

No doubt, dear. But will our friends enjoy meeting your mother?
[_Seeing him about to burst forth again._] Oh, yes, Claude, I know what
you are going to say. But, after all, Lyons is a very purse-proud,
vulgar place. You know, how _my_ mother can behave on occasions! And if
Mrs. Melnotte happens to be here when any other people call it may be
very unpleasant. I really think I had better say we are not at home to
anyone else.

                                            [_Rises to ring the bell._

CLAUDE.

Pauline, I forbid you! Sit down at once. If my family are not good
enough for your friends, let them drop us and be hanged to them.

PAULINE.

Claude, don't storm. It's so vulgar. And there's not the least occasion
for it either. I only thought it would be pleasanter for all our
visitors--your dear mother among the number--if we avoided all chance
of disagreeable scenes. But there, dear, you've no _savoir faire_, and
I'm afraid we shall never get into Society. It's very sad.

CLAUDE.

[_Touched by her patience._] I am sorry, my dear. I ought to have kept
my temper. But I wish you weren't so set upon getting into Society.
Isn't it a little snobbish?

PAULINE.

[_Wilfully misunderstanding him._] It's dreadfully snobbish, dear; the
most snobbish sort of Society I know. All provincial towns are like
that. But it's the only Society there is here, you know, and we must
make the best of it.

CLAUDE.

My poor Pauline.

                                                       [_Kissing her._

PAULINE.

[_Gently._] But you know, Claude, social distinctions do exist. Why not
recognize them? And the late Mr. Melnotte _was_ a gardener!

CLAUDE.

He was--an excellent gardener.

PAULINE.

One of the Lower Classes.

CLAUDE.

In a Republic there are no Lower Classes.

PAULINE.

[_Correcting him._] In a Republic there are no Higher Classes. And
class distinctions are more sharply drawn than ever in consequence.

CLAUDE.

So much the worse for the Republic.

PAULINE.

[_Shocked._] Claude, I begin to think you are an anarchist.

CLAUDE.

I? [_Proudly._] I am a colonel in the French army.

PAULINE.

But not a _real_ colonel, Claude. Only a Republican colonel.

CLAUDE.

[_Sternly._] I rose from the ranks in two years by merit.

PAULINE.

I know, dear. Real colonels only rise by interest.

                                                      [_CLAUDE gasps._

JAMES.

[_Opening the door and showing in a wizened old lady in rusty black
garments and a bonnet slightly awry._] Mrs. Melnotte.

                                 [_PAULINE goes forward to greet her._

MRS. MELNOTTE.

[_Not seeing her._] Ah, my dear son [_runs across the room to CLAUDE
before the eyes of the deeply scandalised JAMES, and kisses him
repeatedly_], how glad I am to see you again! And your grand house! And
your fine servants! In livery, too!

                     [_PAULINE shudders, and so does JAMES. The latter
                            goes out._

CLAUDE.

My dearest mother!

                                                        [_Kisses her._

MRS. MELNOTTE.

[_Beaming on Pauline._] How do you do, my dear? Let me give my Claude's
wife a kiss.

                                      [_Does so in resounding fashion._

[Illustration: E. J. Wheeler.

    "Let me give my Claude's wife a kiss."]

PAULINE.

[_As soon as she has recovered from the warmth of this embrace._] How
do you do, Mrs. Melnotte? Won't you sit down?

MRS. MELNOTTE.

Thank you kindly, my dear. I don't mind if I do.

           [_A ring is heard outside, followed by the sound of someone
                   being admitted. PAULINE looks anxiously towards
                   the door._

PAULINE.

[_To herself._] A visitor! How unlucky! I wonder who it is?

JAMES.

[_Throwing open the door._] Mrs. Deschappelles.

PAULINE.

Great Heavens, my mother!

                           [_Falls back, overwhelmed, into her chair._

MRS. DESCHAPPELLES.

[_In her most elaborate manner._] My dear child, you are unwell. My
coming has been a shock to you. But there, a daughter's affection,
Claude--[_shaking hands with him_]--how wonderful it is!

PAULINE.

Dear mother, we are delighted to see you.

MRS. DESCHAPPELLES.

Of course I ought to have called before. I have been meaning to come
ever since you returned from your honeymoon. But I have so many visits
to pay; and you have only been back ten weeks!

PAULINE.

I quite understand, mother dear.

MRS. DESCHAPPELLES.

And, as I always say to your poor father, "When one is a leader of
Society, one has so many engagements." I am sure _you_ find that.

PAULINE.

I have hardly begun to receive visits yet.

MRS. DESCHAPPELLES.

No, dear? But then it's different with _you_. When you married Colonel
Melnotte, of course you gave up all _social_ ambitions.

MRS. MELNOTTE.

I am sure no one could wish for a better, braver husband than my Claude.

MRS. DESCHAPPELLES.

[_Turning sharply round and observing MRS. MELNOTTE for the first
time._] I beg your pardon?
                                                             [_Icily._

MRS. MELNOTTE.

[_Bravely._] I said no one could have a better husband than Claude.

MRS. DESCHAPPELLES.

[_Dumbfounded, appealing to PAULINE._] Who--who is this _person_?

PAULINE.

[_Nervously._] I think you have met before, mother. This is Mrs.
Melnotte.

MRS. DESCHAPPELLES.

[_Insolently._] Oh! the gardener's wife.

CLAUDE.

[_Melodramatic at once._] Yes. The gardener's wife and my mother!

MRS. DESCHAPPELLES.

[_Impatiently._] Of course, I know the unfortunate relationship between
you, Claude. You need not thrust it down my throat. You know how
unpleasant it is to me.

PAULINE.

[_Shocked at this bad taste._] Mother!

MRS. DESCHAPPELLES.

Oh, yes, it is. As I was saying to your poor father only yesterday. "Of
course, Claude is all right. He is an officer now, and all officers
are supposed to be gentlemen. But his relatives are impossible, quite
impossible!"

CLAUDE.

[_Furiously._] This insolence is intolerable. Madame Deschappelles....

MRS. MELNOTTE.

[_Intervening._] Claude, Claude, don't be angry! Remember who she is.

CLAUDE.

[_Savagely._] I remember well enough. She is Madame Deschappelles, and
her husband is a successful tradesman. He was an English shop-boy,
and his proper name was Chapel. He came over to France, grew rich,
put a "de" before his name, and now gives himself airs like the other
_parvenus_.

MRS. DESCHAPPELLES.

Monster!

PAULINE.

My dear Claude, how wonderfully interesting!

MRS. MELNOTTE.

[_Rising._] My son, you must not forget your manners. Mrs.
Deschappelles is Pauline's mother. I will go away now, and leave you
to make your apologies to her. [_CLAUDE tries to prevent her going._]
No, no, I will go, really. Good-bye, my son; good-bye, dear Pauline.

                                           [_Kisses her and goes out._

MRS. DESCHAPPELLES.

If that woman imagines that I am going to stay here after being
insulted by you as I have been, she is much mistaken. Please ring for
my carriage. [_CLAUDE rings._] As for you, Pauline, I always told you
what would happen if you insisted on marrying beneath you, and now you
see I'm right.

PAULINE.

[_Quietly._] You seem to forget, mamma, that papa was practically a
bankrupt when I married, and that Claude paid his debts.

MRS. DESCHAPPELLES.

I forget nothing. And I do not see that it makes the smallest
difference. I am not blaming your poor father for having his debts paid
by Colonel Melnotte; I am blaming you for marrying him. Good-bye.

                              [_She sweeps out in a towering passion._

PAULINE.

Sit down, Claude, and don't glower at me like that. It's not my fault
if mamma does not know how to behave.

CLAUDE.

[_Struggling with his rage._] That's true, that's true.

PAULINE.

Poor mamma, her want of breeding is terrible! I have always noticed it.
But that story about Mr. Chapel explains it all. Why didn't you tell it
to me before?

CLAUDE.

I thought it would pain you.

PAULINE.

Pain me? I am delighted with it! Why, it explains everything. It
explains _me_. It explains _you_, even. A Miss Chapel might marry
_anyone_. Don't frown, Claude; laugh. We shall never get into Society
in Lyons, but, at least, we shall never have another visit from mamma.
The worst has happened. We can now live happily ever afterwards.

_Curtain._



Caste.

_Most people, in their day, have wept tears of relief at the ending of
T. W. Robertson's comedy "Caste," when the Hon. George D'Alroy--not
dead, poor chap!--falls into the arms of his wife, Esther, while
his father-in-law, Eccles, bestows a drunken benediction upon him
before starting for Jersey, and his sister-in-law, Polly, and her
adored plumber, Gerridge, embrace sympathetically in the background.
In these circumstances it seems hardly kind to add a further act to
this harrowing drama. But the writer of Sequels, like Nemesis, is
inexorable. If the perusal of the following scene prevents any young
subaltern from emulating D'Alroy and marrying a ballet-dancer with a
drunken father, it will not have been written in vain._

THE VENGEANCE OF CASTE.


  SCENE.--_The dining-room of the D'ALROYS' house in the suburbs.
    Dinner is just over, and GEORGE D'ALROY, in a seedy coat and carpet
    slippers, is sitting by the fire smoking a pipe. On the other side
    of the fire sits ESTHER, his wife, darning a sock._

ESTHER.

Tired, George?

GEORGE.

Yes.

ESTHER.

Had a bad day in the City?

GEORGE.

Beastly! I believe I'm the unluckiest beggar in the world. Every stock
I touch goes down.

ESTHER.

Why don't you give up speculating if you're so unlucky?

GEORGE.

[_Hurt._] I don't speculate, dear. I invest.

ESTHER.

Why don't you give up investing then? It makes a dreadful hole in our
income.

GEORGE.

One must do _something_ for one's living.

ESTHER.

[_Sighing._] What a pity it is you left the Army!

GEORGE.

I had to. The regiment wouldn't stand your father. He was always coming
to the mess-room when he was drunk, and asking for me. So the Colonel
said I'd better send in my papers.

ESTHER.

[_Gently._] Not _drunk_, George.

GEORGE.

The Colonel said so. And he was rather a judge.

ESTHER.

[_Unable to improve upon her old phrase._] Father is a very eccentric
man, but a very good man, when you know him.

GEORGE.

[_Grimly._] If you mean by "eccentric" a man who is always drunk and
won't die, he is--most eccentric!

ESTHER.

Hush, dear! After all, he's my father.

GEORGE.

That's my objection to him.

ESTHER.

I'm afraid you must have lost a _great_ deal of money to-day!

GEORGE.

Pretty well. But I've noticed that retired military men who go into the
City invariably do lose money.

ESTHER.

Why do they go into the City, then?

GEORGE.

[_Gloomily._] Why, indeed?

                    [_There is a short pause. GEORGE stares moodily at
                            the fire._

ESTHER.

I had a visit from your mother to-day.

GEORGE.

How was she?

ESTHER.

Not very well. She has aged sadly in the last few years. Her hair is
quite white now.

GEORGE.

[_Half to himself._] Poor mother, poor mother!

ESTHER.

She was very kind. She asked particularly after you, and she saw little
George. [_Gently._] I think she is getting more reconciled to our
marriage.

GEORGE.

Do you really, dear? [_Looks at her curiously._]

ESTHER.

Yes; and I think it's such a good thing. How strange it is that people
should attach such importance to class distinctions!

GEORGE.

Forgive me, dear, but if you think it strange that the Marquise de St.
Maur does not consider Mr. Eccles and the Gerridges wholly desirable
connections, I am afraid I cannot agree with you.

[Illustration: E. J. Wheeler.

    Mr. Eccles makes his hundred and fifty-sixth appearance at the
    police court.]

ESTHER.

Of course, Papa is a very eccentric man----

GEORGE.

My dear Esther, Mr. Eccles made his hundred and fifty-sixth appearance
in the police-court last week. The fact was made the subject of jocular
comment in the cheaper evening papers. The sentence was five shillings
or seven days.

ESTHER.

Poor Papa felt his position acutely.

GEORGE.

Not half so acutely as I did. I paid the five shillings. If he had only
consented to remain in Jersey!

ESTHER.

But you know Jersey didn't suit him. He was never well there.

GEORGE.

He was never sober there. That was the only thing that was the matter
with him. No, my love, let us look facts in the face. You are a dear
little woman, but your father is detestable, and there is not the
smallest ground for hope that my mother will ever be "reconciled" to
our marriage as long as she retains her reason.

ESTHER.

I suppose father _is_ rather a difficulty.

GEORGE.

Yes. He and the Gerridges, between them, have made us impossible
socially.

ESTHER.

What's the matter with the Gerridges?

GEORGE.

Nothing, except that you always ask them to all our dinner parties.
And as gentlepeople have a curious prejudice against sitting down to
dinner with a plumber and glazier, it somewhat narrows our circle of
acquaintance.

ESTHER.

But Sam isn't a working plumber now. He has a shop of his own--quite
a large shop. And their house is just as good as ours. The furniture
is better. Sam bought Polly a new carpet for the drawing-room only
last week. It cost fourteen pounds. And _our_ drawing-room carpet is
dreadfully shabby.

GEORGE.

I'm glad they're getting on so well. [_With a flicker of hope._] Do
you think there's any chance, as they grow more prosperous, of their
"dropping" us?

ESTHER.

[_Indignantly._] How can you think of such a thing!

GEORGE.

[_Sighing._] I was afraid not.

ESTHER.

[_Enthusiastically._] Why, Sam is as kind as can be, and so is Polly.
And you know how fond they are of little George.

GEORGE.

Poor child, yes. He has played with their children ever since he could
toddle. And what is the result? A Cockney accent that is indescribable.

ESTHER.

What does it matter about his accent so long as he is a good boy, and
grows up to be a good man?

GEORGE.

Ethically, my dear, not at all. But practically, it matters a great
deal. It causes me intense physical discomfort. And I think it is
killing my mother.

ESTHER.

George!

GEORGE.

Moreover, when the time comes for him to go to a Public school he will
probably be very unhappy in consequence.

ESTHER.

Why?

GEORGE.

Merely irrational prejudice. Public school boys dislike all deviations
from the normal. And to them--happily--a pronounced Cockney accent
represents the height of abnormality.

ESTHER.

[_Sadly._] In spite of our marriage, I'm afraid you're still a
worshipper of caste. I thought you turned your back on all that when
you married me.

GEORGE.

So I did, dear, so I did. But I don't want to commit my son to the same
hazardous experiment.

ESTHER.

Ah, George, you don't really love me, or you wouldn't talk like that.

GEORGE.

My dear, I love you to distraction. That's exactly the difficulty. I am
torn between my devotion to you and my abhorrence of your relations.
When your father returned from Jersey, and took a lodging close by us,
nothing but the warmth of my affection prevented me from leaving you
for ever. He is still here, and so am I. What greater proof could you
have of the strength of my attachment?

ESTHER.

Poor father! he could not bear to be away from us. And he has grown so
fond of little George! [_GEORGE shudders._] Father has a good heart.

GEORGE.

I wish he had a stronger head.

                  [_This remark is prompted by the sound of MR. ECCLES
                          entering the front door, and having a tipsy
                          altercation with the maid._

MAID.

[_Announcing._] Mr. Eccles.

ECCLES.

[_Joyously._] Evening--hic--me children. Bless you, bless you!

ESTHER.

Good evening, father.

ECCLES.

Won't you--hic--speak to yer old father-in-law, Georgie? [_GEORGE says
nothing._] Ah, pride, pride, cruel pride! You come before a fall, _you_
do! [_Lurches heavily against the table, and subsides into a chair._]
Funny, that! Almost--hic--seemed as if the proverb was a-coming true
that time!

GEORGE.

[_Sternly._] How often have I told you, Mr. Eccles, not to come to this
house except when you're sober!

ECCLES.

[_Raising his voice in indignant protest._] Shober--hic--perfectly
shober! shober as a--hic--judge!

GEORGE.

I'm afraid I can't argue with you as to the precise stage of
intoxication in which you find yourself. You had better go home at once.

ECCLES.

Do you hear that Esh--ter? Do you hear that--hic--me child?

ESTHER.

Yes, father. I think you had better go home. You're not very well
to-night.

ECCLES.

[_Rising unsteadily from his chair._] Allri--Esh--ter. I'm goin'. Good
ni--Georgie.

GEORGE.

[_With the greatest politeness._] Good night, Mr. Eccles. If you could
possibly manage to fall down and damage yourself seriously on the way
home, I should be infinitely obliged.

ECCLES.

[_Beginning to weep._] There's words to address to a
loving--hic--farrer-in-law. There's words----[_lurches out_].

ESTHER.

I think, George, you had better see him home. It's not safe for him to
be alone in that state.

GEORGE.

[_Savagely._] Safe! I don't want him to be safe. Nothing would give me
greater satisfaction than to hear he had broken his neck.

ESTHER.

[_Gently._] But he might meet a policeman, George.

GEORGE.

Ah! that's another matter. Perhaps I'd better see the beast into a cab.

ESTHER.

[_Sighing._] Ah, you never understood poor father!

                    [_A crash is heard from the hall as ECCLES lurches
                            heavily and upsets the hat-stand. GEORGE
                            throws up his hands in despair at the
                            wreck of the hall furniture--or, perhaps,
                            at the obtuseness of his wife's last
                            remark--and goes out to call a cab._

_Curtain._



Patience, or Bunthorne's Bride.

_At the end of "Patience," it will be remembered, the twenty love-sick
maidens gave up æstheticism and decided to marry officers of Dragoons.
But a taste for intellectual gimcrackery is not so easily eradicated,
and it is probable that the poor ladies neither liked nor were liked at
Aldershot. That is certainly the impression conveyed by the following
sequel._

OUT OF PATIENCE; OR, BUNTHORNE AVENGED.


  SCENE.--_Drawing-room of COLONEL CALVERLEY'S house at Aldershot.
    His wife, SAPHIR, is entertaining ANGELA, ELLA, and the rest
    of the love-sick maidens--now married to stalwart officers of
    Dragoons--at afternoon tea. Each lady dandles a baby, which squalls
    intermittently._

CHORUS.

    Twenty heart-sick ladies we,
      Living down at Aldershot,
    Every morning fervently
      Wishing, wishing we were not.

    Twenty married ladies we,
      And our fate we may not alter;
    If we dare to mutiny
      They will send us to Gibraltar!

                         [_The babies, appalled at this prospect, howl
                                 unanimously._

SAPHIR.

    [_As soon as she can make herself heard._] Our mornings
    go in stilling baby's squalls.

ALL.

    Ah, miserie!

SAPHIR.

    Our afternoons in paying tiresome calls,

ALL.

    And drinking tea!

SAPHIR.

    And then those long, long, regimental balls!

ALL.

    Ennuie, ennuie!

SAPHIR.

    After a time that sort of pleasure palls,

ALL.

    As you may see.

                                    [_All yawn, including the babies._

CHORUS.

    Twenty heart-sick ladies we, etc.

ANGELA.

[_Sighs._] It's a dreadful thing that we should _all_ have married
officers in the Army.

SAPHIR.

And _all_ have to live at Aldershot.

ELLA.

All except Lady Jane.

SAPHIR.

But she married a Duke.

ELLA.

I don't see why that should make any difference.

ANGELA.

You wouldn't expect a Duchess to live in the provinces. She couldn't be
spared.

ELLA.

What do you mean?

ANGELA.

No Duchess is allowed to be out of London during the season. There are
hardly enough of them to go round as it is.

SAPHIR.

I never imagined that when we were married we should find ourselves so
completely "out of it."

ALL.

[_Indignantly._] Out of it!

SAPHIR.

Yes, out of it. Out of the world, the fashion, what you please.
Æstheticism is out of vogue now, of course, but there have been lots
of fascinating "movements" since then. There's been Ibsen and the
Revolt of the Daughters, and Aubrey Beardsley and the Decadence, and
Maeterlinck. The world has been through all these wonderfully thrilling
phases since 1880, and where are WE?

ANGELA.

[_Remonstrating._] We read about them in the ladies' papers.

SAPHIR.

_Read_ about them! What's the good of _reading_ about them? I want to
be _in_ them. I want to LIVE MY LIFE.

                        [_Shakes her baby fiercely. It raises a howl._

ELLA.

[_Rushing to the rescue._] Take care, take care! Poor darling! it'll
have a fit.

SAPHIR.

Take it, then. [_Throws it to Ella._] I'm tired of it. What's the good
of buying a complete set of back numbers of the _Yellow Book_, and
_reading_ them, too--[_general astonishment at this feat_]--if you
can't even shake your baby without making it squall? I'd never have
married Colonel Calverley if I had thought of that!

[Illustration: E. J. Wheeler.

    "I want to live my life."]

ANGELA.

Nor I Major Murgatroyd.

[_Sings._]

    When first I consented to wed,
    I said, "I shall never come down
        To passing my life
        As an officer's wife,
    In a second-rate garrison town."
    I said, "I shall live in Mayfair,
    With plenty of money to spare,
      Have admirers in flocks,
      Wear adorable frocks,
    And diamonds everywhere."
    Yes, that's what I certainly said
    When first I consented to wed.

    I thought, on the day I was wed,
    I could reckon with perfect propriety
      On filling a place
      With conspicuous grace
    In the smartest of London Society.
    I said, "It is easy to see
    I shall be at the top of the tree,
      And none of the millions
      Of vulgar civilians
    Will venture to patronise me!"
    Yes, that's what I foolishly said
    When first I consented to wed.

                    [_As the song ends, enter Colonel CALVERLEY, Major
                            MURGATROYD, and the other officers in
                            uniform as from parade. The ladies groan.
                            So do the babies._

COLONEL.

Hullo! Groans! What's all this about?

SAPHIR.

If you only knew how it pains us to see you in those preposterous
clothes!

OFFICERS.

Preposterous!

ANGELA.

Perfectly preposterous. You know they are.

MAJOR.

If by preposterous you mean not conspicuously well adapted for active
service, we cannot deny it.

ANGELA.

Of course you can't. Your uniforms are useless and pretentious. To the
educated eye they are not even beautiful.

OFFICERS.

[_Horrified._] Not beautiful!

SAPHIR.

Certainly not. If they were, you would not be so unwilling to be seen
about in them.

COLONEL.

[_Haughtily._] It is not etiquette in the British Army for an officer
_ever_ to be seen in his uniform. It isn't done!

SAPHIR.

And why not? Because he is ashamed of it. He wants to be dressed like a
soldier, not like a mountebank. How can anyone respect a uniform that's
only meant for show?

MAJOR.

That's true. But the ladies? If it wasn't for our gorgeous frippery
they wouldn't fall in love with us.

ANGELA.

[_Crossly._] Nonsense! Women like soldiers because they are brave, not
because they wear red coats. Any Tommy could tell you that.

COLONEL.

[_Sarcastically._] Indeed?

ANGELA.

Yes. Saphir, tell Colonel Calverley the story of William Stokes.

SAPHIR.

    [_Sings._]Once William Stokes went forth to woo,
    A corporal, he, of the Horse Guards (Blue),
    He thought all housemaid hearts to storm
    With his truly magnificent uniform.
    But the housemaids all cried "No, no, no,
    Your uniform's only meant for show,
    Your gorgeous trappings are wicked waste,
    And your whole get-up's in the worst of taste."

ALL.

    The worst of taste?

SAPHIR.

          The worst of taste!
        These quite unfeeling,
        Very plain-dealing
    Ladies cried in haste--
        "Your uniform, Billy,
        Is simply silly
    And quite in the worst of taste!"
    Poor William took these cries amiss,
    Being quite unaccustomed to snubs like this.
    At last he explained, by way of excuse,
    His gorgeous clothes weren't made for use.
    His elaborate tunic was much too tight
    To eat his dinner in, far less fight;
    It was only meant to attract the eye
    Of the less intelligent passer-by.

ALL.

    The passer-by?

SAPHIR.

          The passer-by!
        And so poor Billy,
        Feeling quite silly,
    Threw up the Horse Guards (Blue),
          And now in the Park he
          Appears in khaki,
    And greatly prefers it too!

COLONEL.

That's all very well, and I daresay you're right in what you say, but
you'll never get the War Office to see it.

MAJOR.

They're too stupid.

SAPHIR.

Was it the War Office who sent us to Aldershot?

MAJOR.

Yes.

SAPHIR.

You're quite right. They _are_ stupid!

COLONEL.

What's the matter with Aldershot?

ANGELA.

It's dull, it's philistine, it's conventional. And to think that we
were once Æsthetic!

OFFICERS.

[_Mockingly._] Oh, South Kensington!

ANGELA.

[_Angrily._] _Not_ South Kensington! Chelsea. If you knew anything at
all, you'd know that South Kensington is quite over now. People of
culture have all moved to Chelsea.

SAPHIR.

Why on earth don't you all get promoted to snug berths at the Horse
Guards? Then we could live in London.

COLONEL.

[_Sadly._] Do you know how promotion is got in the British Army?

SAPHIR.

No.

COLONEL.

Listen, and I will tell you--

    [_Sings._]

    When you once have your commission, if you want a
        high position in the Army of the King,
    You must tout for the affections of the influential
        sections of the Inner Social Ring.
    If you're anxious for promotion, you must early get a
        notion of the qualities commanders prize;
    You must learn to play at polo, strum a banjo, sing a
        solo, and you're simply bound to rise!
              For every one will say,
              In the usual fatuous way:
    "If this young fellow's such a popular figure in High
        Society,
    Why, what a very competent commander of a troop
        this fine young man must be!"

    You must buy expensive suits, wear the shiniest of
        boots, and a glossy hat and tall,
    For if you're really clever you need practically never
        wear your uniform at all.
    You probably will then see as little of your men as you
        decently can do,
    And you'll launch a thousand sneers at those foolish
        Volunteers, who are not a bit like you!
              And those Volunteers will say,
              When you go on in that way:
    "If this young man's such an unconcealed contempt for
        the likes of such as we,
    What a genius at strategy and tactics too this fine
        young man must be!"

    When, your blunders never noted, you are rapidly
        promoted to the snuggest berth you know,
    Till we see you at Pall Mall with the Army gone to--well,
        where the Army should not go--
    When your country goes to war your abilities will awe
        all the foemen that beset her,
    And if you make a mess of it, of course we're told the
        less of it the country hears the better!
              And you'll hear civilians say,
              In their usual humble way:
    "If this old buffer is a General of Division, and also a
        G.C.B.,
    Why, what a past master of the art of war this fine old
        boy must be!"

SAPHIR.

Do you mean that you'll never get berths at the Horse Guards, any of
you?

COLONEL.

[_Sadly._] It's most unlikely.

SAPHIR.

Then my patience is exhausted. I shall apply for a judicial separation.

ANGELA.

So shall I.

LADIES.

We shall all apply for judicial separations.

OFFICERS.

Impossible!

ANGELA.

Oh, yes, we shall; we cannot consent to remain at Aldershot any longer.
At any moment a new movement in the world of Art or Letters may begin
in London, and we shall not be in it. The thought is unendurable. We
must go and pack at once.

                                                            [_Exeunt._

_Curtain._



The Second Mrs. Tanqueray.

_After the second Mrs. Tanqueray killed herself at the end of the play
which bears her name, it might be supposed that her husband would be
content with his two successive failures in matrimony, and not tempt
a third. But Aubrey, as his second marriage shows, was nothing if not
courageous in matrimonial affairs, and we have therefore every reason
to believe that he did marry again, while we have small ground for
hoping that he chose his third wife with any greater wisdom than he
chose the other two. That is the impression conveyed by the following
pathetic scene._

THE THIRD MRS. TANQUERAY.


  SCENE.--_The dining-room of AUBREY TANQUERAY'S country house,
    Highercombe, in Surrey. A lean butler is standing at the sideboard.
    AUBREY and CAYLEY DRUMMLE enter and go up to warm themselves at the
    fire, which burns feebly. The time is an evening in March, five
    years after the events of Mr. Pinero's play, and CAYLEY looks quite
    five years stouter. AUBREY does not._

CAYLEY.

It's quite shocking, Aubrey, that you should have been married nearly
a year, and that I should not yet have had the pleasure of making Mrs.
Tanqueray's acquaintance. I am dying to know her.

AUBREY.

My fault, my dear Cayley.

CAYLEY.

Entirely. Your weddings are always so furtive.

                 [_Pokes the fire resolutely, in the hope of producing
                         something approaching a cheerful blaze._

AUBREY.

Well, you'll see her to-night. I hoped she would be able to dine at
home, but she had promised to address a Temperance meeting in the
village. [_CAYLEY looks dubious._] However, she'll be back at ten.
Meanwhile, you'll have to be contented with a bachelor dinner.

                                 [_They go to the table and sit down._

CAYLEY.

[_Unfolding serviette._] Experience has taught me, my dear Aubrey, that
bachelor dinners are apt to be particularly well worth eating. No doubt
it is to make up for the absence of more charming society.

AUBREY.

[_Doubtfully._] I hope it will prove so in this case.

CAYLEY.

I feel sure of it. I remember your cook of old.

AUBREY.

I'm afraid it won't be _that_ cook.

CAYLEY.

[_In horror._] You haven't parted with him?

AUBREY.

Yes. He left soon after my marriage. There was some small error in his
accounts, which Mrs. Tanqueray discovered. So, of course, we had to
dismiss him.

CAYLEY.

[_Eagerly._] Do you happen to have his address?

AUBREY.

I dare say Mrs. Tanqueray has, if you wish to know it.

                                                [_Footman hands soup._

CAYLEY.

I shall be eternally indebted to her.

AUBREY.

Why?

CAYLEY.

I shall engage him at once. [_Begins to eat his soup, frowns, and then
puts down his spoon._] But I'm afraid you'll want him back yourself.

AUBREY.

No. My wife is most particular about the character of her servants.

CAYLEY.

Ah! I'm more particular about the character of my soup.

                         [_His hand goes out instinctively towards his
                                 sherry-glass. As he is about to raise
                                 it he sees that it is empty, and
                                 refrains._

AUBREY.

Cayley, you ought to marry. Then you'd realise that there are more
important things in the world than soup.

CAYLEY.

Of course there are, my dear fellow. There's the fish and the joint.

                      [_Fish of an unattractive kind is handed to him.
                             He takes some._

AUBREY.

Sybarite!

                            [_CAYLEY looks at his fish dubiously, then
                                    leaves it untasted._

CAYLEY.

You are quite wrong. A simple cut of beef or mutton, well-cooked, is
quite enough for me.

BUTLER.

[_To CAYLEY._] Lemonade, Sir?

CAYLEY.

Eh, what? No, thank you.

AUBREY.

Ah, Cayley. What will you drink? [_CAYLEY'S face brightens visibly._]
I'm afraid I can't offer you any wine. [_It falls again._] My wife
never allows alcohol at her table. But there are various sorts of
mineral waters. You don't mind?

CAYLEY.

[_Grimly._] Not at all, my dear fellow, not at all. Which brand of
mineral water do you consider most--ah--stimulating?

AUBREY.

[_Laughing mirthlessly._] I'm afraid, Cayley, you're not a convert to
Temperance principles yet. That shows you have never heard my wife
speak.

CAYLEY.

[_Emphatically._] Never! Temperance meetings are not in my line.

                                         [_Footman removes his plate._

AUBREY.

Perhaps some of the other movements in which she is interested would
appeal to you more. [_With a touch of happy pride._] As you may know,
my wife is a vice-president of the Anti-Vaccination Society, and of the
Woman's Home Rule Union. Indeed, she is in great request on all public
platforms.

CAYLEY.

[_With simulated enthusiasm._] I feel sure of that, my dear Aubrey.
[_Footman hands CAYLEY some rice-pudding. CAYLEY puts up his eye-glass,
and eyes it curiously._] What is this?

FOOTMAN.

Rice-pudding, Sir.

                                        [_CAYLEY drops spoon hastily._

AUBREY.

[_Politely._] You're eating nothing, Cayley.

CAYLEY.

[_With some concern._] Aubrey, have I _slept_ through the joint? I have
no recollection of eating it. If, in a moment of abstraction, I refused
it, may I change my mind?

AUBREY.

[_Sternly._] My wife never has _meat_ at her table on Fridays.

CAYLEY.

[_Peevishly._] My dear fellow, I wish you'd thought of mentioning it
before I came down. Then I might have had a more substantial luncheon.
Where's that rice-pudding?

              [_Helps himself. There is a rather constrained silence._

AUBREY.

It's really very good of you to have come down to see us, Cayley.

CAYLEY.

[_Pulling himself together._] Very good of you to say so, my dear chap.

                                 [_Tackles his rice-pudding manfully._

AUBREY.

My wife and I can so seldom get any man to drop in to dinner nowadays.

CAYLEY.

[_Giving up his struggle with rice-pudding in despair._] I suppose so.

AUBREY.

In fact, we see very little society now.

CAYLEY.

[_Sententiously._] Society only likes people who feed it, my dear
Aubrey. You ought to have kept that cook.

AUBREY.

[_Meditatively._] So my daughter said.

CAYLEY.

Ellean? Is she with you now?

AUBREY.

No. She is in Ireland. After making that remark she went back to her
convent.

CAYLEY.

[_Heartily._] Sensible girl! I like Ellean.

AUBREY.

She and my wife did not get on, somehow. It was very unfortunate, as it
was mainly on Ellean's account that I thought it right to marry again.

CAYLEY.

[_With polite incredulity._] Indeed?

AUBREY.

Yes. You see, it is so difficult for a girl of Ellean's retiring
disposition to meet people and make friends when she has no mother
to chaperon her. And if she meets no one, how is she to get married?
Dessert, Cayley?

CAYLEY.

[_After surveying a rather unattractive assortment of apples and
walnuts._] No, thanks. As you were saying----?

AUBREY.

So I thought if I could meet with a really suitable person, someone
with whom she would be in sympathy, someone she would look upon as a
sort of second mother----

CAYLEY.

[_Correcting him._] Third, Aubrey.

AUBREY.

[_Ignoring the interruption_] ----it would make home more comfortable
for her.

CAYLEY.

[_Laughing._] I like your idea of _comfort_, Aubrey! But I should have
thought you could have adopted some less extreme measure for providing
Ellean with a chaperon? You have neighbours. Mrs. Cortelyon, for
instance?

AUBREY.

[_Stiffly._] Mrs. Cortelyon's chaperonage was not very successful on
the last occasion.

CAYLEY.

No, no; to be sure. Young Ardale. I was forgetting.

AUBREY.

Unhappily the whole scheme was a failure. Ellean conceived a violent
aversion for Mrs. Tanqueray almost directly we came home, and a week
later--I remember it was directly after dinner--she announced her
intention of leaving the house for ever.

CAYLEY.

[_The thought of his dinner still rankling._] Poor girl! No doubt she's
happier in her convent.

                      [_Butler enters with coffee. CAYLEY takes some._

AUBREY.

I am sorry I can't ask you to smoke, Cayley, but my wife has a
particular objection to tobacco. She is a member of the Anti-tobacco
League, and often speaks at its meetings.

CAYLEY.

[_Annoyed._] Really, my dear fellow, if I may neither eat, drink, nor
smoke, I don't quite see why you asked me down.

AUBREY.

[_Penitently._] I suppose I ought to have thought of that. The fact
is, I have got so used to these little deprivations that now I hardly
notice them. Of course, it's different with you.

CAYLEY.

I should think it was!

[Illustration: E. J. Wheeler.

    "She announced her intention of leaving the house for ever."]

AUBREY.

[_Relenting._] If you _very_ much want to smoke, I dare say it might
be managed. If we have this window wide open, and you sit by it, a
cigarette might not be noticed.

CAYLEY.

[_Shortly._] Thanks.

               [_Takes out cigarette, and lights it, as soon as AUBREY
                       has made the elaborate arrangements indicated
                       above._

AUBREY.

[_Politely._] I hope you won't find it cold.

CAYLEY.

[_Grimly._] England in March is always cold. [_Sneezes violently._]
But, perhaps, if you ring for my overcoat, I may manage to survive the
evening.

AUBREY.

Certainly. What is it like?

CAYLEY.

I've no idea. It's an ordinary sort of coat. Your man will know it if
you ring for him.

AUBREY.

[_Hesitating._] I'd rather fetch it for you myself, if you don't mind.
I should not like Parkes to see that you were smoking. It would set
such a bad example.

CAYLEY.

[_Throwing his cigarette on to the lawn in a rage, and closing the
window with a shiver._] Don't trouble. I'll smoke in the train.
By-the-way, what time _is_ my train?

AUBREY.

Your train?

CAYLEY.

Yes. I must get back to town, my dear fellow.

AUBREY.

Nonsense! You said you'd stay a week.

CAYLEY.

Did I? Then I didn't know what I was saying. I must get back to-night.

AUBREY.

But you brought a bag.

CAYLEY.

Only to dress, Aubrey. By the way, will you tell your man to pack it?

AUBREY.

You can't go to-night. The last train leaves at 9.30. It's 9.15 now.

CAYLEY.

[_Jumping up._] Then I must start at once. Send my bag after me.

AUBREY.

You've not a chance of catching it.

CAYLEY.

[_Solemnly._] My dear old friend, I shall return to town to-night if I
have to walk!

AUBREY.

[_Detaining him._] But my wife? You haven't even made her acquaintance
yet. She'll think it so strange.

CAYLEY.

Not half so strange as I have thought her dinner. [_Shaking himself
free._] No, Aubrey, this is really good-bye. I like you very much, and
it cuts me to the heart to have to drop your acquaintance; but nothing
in the world would induce me to face another dinner such as I have had
to-night!

AUBREY.

Cayley!

CAYLEY.

[_Making for the door._] And nothing in the world would induce me to be
introduced to the third Mrs. Tanqueray.

                                                    [_Exit hurriedly._

_Curtain._



The Lady from the Sea.

_When Ibsen ended "The Lady from the Sea" by making Mrs. Wangel give
up her idea of eloping with "The Stranger" and decide to remain with
her husband and her step-children, many people must have felt that
there was a want of finality about the arrangement. Having discussed
so exhaustively with Dr. Wangel the advisability of leaving him, she
could hardly be expected to give up the project permanently. The play
is therefore one which emphatically calls for a sequel._

THE LADY ON THE SEA.


  SCENE I.--_Beside the pond in the WANGELS' garden. It is a
    malarious evening in September. HILDA and BOLETTA, MRS. WANGEL'S
    step-daughters, are, as usual, failing to catch the carp which are
    said to haunt the pond._

BOLETTA.

Do you think _she_ [_nodding towards MRS. WANGEL, who prowls to and fro
on the damp lawn with a shawl over her head_] is any better?

HILDA.

No, worse.

BOLETTA.

[_Cheerfully._] Oh, she can't be worse.

HILDA.

That's all very well for you. You're going to be married. It doesn't
matter to you _how_ mad she is! You'll be out of it before long.

BOLETTA.

[_Jubilantly._] Yes, I shall be out of it.

HILDA.

But I shan't. [_Darkly._] However, perhaps she'll go away soon.

BOLETTA.

Papa still thinks of moving to the sea-side then?

HILDA.

[_Crossly._] Oh, Papa--Papa never thinks!

BOLETTA.

Hush, Hilda. What dreadful things you say!

HILDA.

[_Grimly._] Not half so dreadful as the things I should like to do.

BOLETTA.

Hilda!

HILDA.

Oh, yes, I should. And I _will_ when I grow up. I'll make
Master-builder Solnes tumble off one of his own steeples. Think of that
now!

BOLETTA.

What a horrid child you are! And just when I thought you were beginning
to get on better with _her_ too! [_Nodding toward MRS. WANGEL._] It's
most provoking.

HILDA.

I call it perfectly thrilling, myself. But here she comes. [_MRS.
WANGEL approaches._] Go away. I want to talk to her. [_Exit BOLETTA
doubtfully._] How are you to-day, Mother?

MRS. WANGEL.

[_Absently._] Eh?

HILDA.

[_Controlling her impatience._] I asked how you were.

MRS. WANGEL.

But you called me mother. I'm not your mother. I'm only your
step-mother.

HILDA.

But I can't address you as step-mother. "People don't do those things,"
as dear Hedda Gabler always says.

MRS. WANGEL.

[_Whose attention is clearly wandering._] I suppose they don't.

HILDA.

Mother, have you seen _him_?

MRS. WANGEL.

I believe Wangel is in the surgery.

HILDA.

I don't mean Papa. What does it matter where Papa is! I mean The
Stranger. The English steamer is at the pier. It arrived last night.
[_Looks at MRS. WANGEL meaningly._]

MRS. WANGEL.

[_Vaguely._] Is it, dear? You astonish me.

HILDA.

You will go and see him, won't you?

MRS. WANGEL.

Oh, of course, of course.

HILDA.

I think it must be so perfectly thrilling to go down all by one's self
to a steamer to see a strange man who is not one's husband.

MRS. WANGEL.

[_Recalling with difficulty her old phrase._] Oh, yes--yes. It allures
me wonderfully.

HILDA.

I should go at once, if I were you, before Papa comes out.

MRS. WANGEL.

Don't you think I ought to tell Wangel? I have always been accustomed
to consult him before eloping with anyone else.

HILDA.

I think not. You must go of your own free will. You see, Papa might
_urge_ you to go. And then it would not be altogether your own will
that sent you, would it? It would be partly his.

MRS. WANGEL.

So it would.

HILDA.

Isn't it splendid to think of your going away with him to-night, quite,
quite away, across the sea?

MRS. WANGEL.

[_Doubtfully._] Yes.

HILDA.

You know you always like the sea. You talk so much about it. It
_allures_ you, you know.

MRS. WANGEL.

Yes, the idea of it is wonderfully alluring. [_With misgiving._] But
I've never been _on_ the sea.

HILDA.

[_Enthusiastically._] That's what makes the idea so thrilling. It will
be quite a new sensation! The sea is so fresh and buoyant, you know!
So _rough_! Not like these vapid fiords where it's always calm. Quite
different altogether.

MRS. WANGEL.

Ah, there's Wangel.

                                                  [_Enter DR. WANGEL._

HILDA.

Bother!

                            [_She returns to her fishing for the carp,
                                    which are never caught._

DR. WANGEL.

Ah, Ellida, is that you?

MRS. WANGEL.

Yes, Wangel.

DR. WANGEL.

Not brooding, I trust, dear? Not letting your mind dwell on The
Stranger, eh?

MRS. WANGEL.

[_Always ready to adopt an idea from any quarter._] Of course, Wangel,
I never can quite get the idea of The Stranger out of my mind.

[Illustration: E. J. Wheeler.

    "Not brooding, I trust, dear?"]

DR. WANGEL.

[_Shaking his head._] Silly girl, silly girl. And the sea, too? Still
full of the sea?

MRS. WANGEL.

[_Taking up the cue at once._] Ah, the sea, the wonderful, changeful
sea! So fresh and buoyant, you know! So rough! Not like these vapid
fiords. I had a child whose eyes were like the sea.

DR. WANGEL.

[_Testily._] I assure you, Ellida, you are wrong. The child's eyes
were just like other children's eyes. All children's eyes are. [_HILDA
suppresses a slight giggle. WANGEL notices her for the first time._]
Fishing, Hilda?

HILDA.

[_Darkly._] Yes, Papa. Trying to hook a silly old carp. I think I shall
catch her in the end.

DR. WANGEL.

[_With interest._] What bait do you use?

HILDA.

Oh, I have been very careful about the _bait_. My fish rose to it at
once.

DR. WANGEL.

Well, well, I must go back to the surgery. Good-bye, Ellida; and, mind,
no brooding about the sea!

                                                              [_Exit._

MRS. WANGEL.

[_Ecstatically._] Oh, the sea, the sea!

HILDA.

Yes, you'll be on it soon. Won't it be thrilling? I really think you
ought to start at once.

MRS. WANGEL.

[_Helplessly._] I suppose I ought to pack a few things first?

HILDA.

I wouldn't mind about that if I were you. I'd go down to the ship just
as I was, slip on board without being noticed, and hide until I was
well outside the fiord and began to feel the _real_ sea heaving under
me!

MRS. WANGEL.

[_Nervously._] Shall I like that?

HILDA.

Of course you will. It's your native element, you know. You always
said so. Before you've been on it half an hour you'll wish you were
overboard, you'll like the sea so!

MRS. WANGEL.

[_Fired by this vicarious enthusiasm._] I shall, I know I shall. _He_
will be there too! And he's so frightfully alluring. I must go at once.

                                 [_Exit hurriedly by the garden gate._

HILDA.

[_Giggling joyously._] Caught, by Jove! My fish caught! She'll go off
with her second mate on the English steamer, and never come back any
more. What a triumph for my bait!

                    [_Picks up fishing tackle, and exit into the house
                            in high good humour._


  SCENE II.--_The deck of the English steamer. The vessel has got
    outside the shelter of the fiord, and is beginning to pitch a
    little in the long sea rollers. MRS. WANGEL is discovered groping
    her way cautiously up the companion in the darkness._

MRS. WANGEL.

This motion is very disagreeable--[_The vessel gives a very heavy
lurch_]--_most_ disagreeable! I wonder if I could speak to The
Stranger now? Hilda said I ought to wait till we were out at sea. Oh!
[_The vessel gives another lurch._]

A STEWARD.

[_Passing._] Did you call?

MRS. WANGEL.

No--er--that is, yes. Will you send Mr. Johnston to me.

STEWARD.

There's no one of that name among the passengers, Madam.

MRS. WANGEL.

[_Fretfully._] Mr. Johnston isn't a passenger. Mr. Johnston is the
second mate. [_The vessel lurches again._] Oh, oh!

STEWARD.

[_Looking suspiciously at her._] But the second mate's name is Brown.

MRS. WANGEL.

[_Under her breath._] Another _alias_! [_Aloud._] It's the same person.
Will you ask him to come to me?

STEWARD.

Very well, Madam. [_To himself._] Queer, that! Wants to see the second
mate, and don't remember his name. But, there, what can you expect on
these excursion steamers!

                                                              [_Exit._

MRS. WANGEL.

[_As the boat gets further out to sea and begins to roll heavily._]
This is horrible. I begin to think I don't like the sea at all. I
feel positively ill. And I always thought the motion would be so
exhilarating. It doesn't exhilarate _me_ in the least. I wish Johnston
would come--or Brown, I mean Brown. Perhaps he could find somewhere for
me to lie down.

                     [_BROWN--or JOHNSTON--accompanied by the STEWARD,
                             comes up the hatchway. He is the same
                             disreputable looking seaman whose
                             acquaintance the reader of "The Lady from
                             the Sea" has already made._

STEWARD.

This is the lady. [_Indicating MRS. WANGEL._]

BROWN.

[_In his most nautical manner._] I know that you swob. Haven't I eyes?
Get out. [_Exit STEWARD._] Well, woman, what do you want?

MRS. WANGEL.

[_Faintly, too much overcome by the rolling of the vessel to resent his
roughness._] I--I have come to you.

BROWN.

So I see.

MRS. WANGEL

Don't you want me, Alfred?

BROWN.

My name isn't Alfred. It's John.

MRS. WANGEL.

[_Plaintively._] It _used_ to be Alfred.

BROWN.

Well, now it's John.

MRS. WANGEL.

Are you--glad to see me?

BROWN.

[_Briskly._] Not a bit. Never was so sorry to see a woman in my life.

MRS. WANGEL.

[_In horror._] But you came for me. You said you wanted me.

BROWN.

I know I did. Thought old Quangle-Wangle would buy me off if I put the
screw on. He didn't see it. Stingy old cuss!

MRS. WANGEL.

[_Appalled at this way of speaking of her husband._] But you never
asked Dr. Wangel for anything?

BROWN.

No fear. Too old a hand for that. He'd have put me in prison for trying
to extort money.

MRS. WANGEL.

How could you expect him to give you money if you didn't ask for it?

BROWN.

I didn't suppose he was an absolute fool. When a man has a crazy wife
he can't be such a born natural as to suppose that another man really
wants her to go away with him. He wants the price of a drink. That's
what _he_ wants. But old Quangle-Wangle was too clever for me. He
wouldn't part.

MRS. WANGEL.

Wouldn't part husband and wife, you mean?

BROWN.

No, I don't, and you know I don't. Wouldn't part with the dibs; that's
what _I_ mean.

MRS. WANGEL.

[_As the vessel gives a big roll._] Oh, I'm going to be very ill
indeed. Why did I think I should like the sea?

BROWN.

Why, indeed? _I_ don't know. Dash me if I do. Mad, I suppose.

MRS. WANGEL.

What am I to do now?

BROWN.

Go back to old Quangle, if he'll take you. He's fool enough, I dare say.

MRS. WANGEL.

But I can't. We're out at sea. I can't get back now. I think I'm going
to die.

                                             [_She sinks upon a seat._

BROWN.

Die? You won't die. No such luck. You're going to be sea-sick, you are.
Where's your cabin?

MRS. WANGEL.

[_Feebly._] I don't know.

BROWN.

Where's your luggage? Hand me over your keys.

MRS. WANGEL.

I haven't any luggage.

BROWN.

Bilked again, s'help me! And not so much as a half a sovereign on you,
I suppose?

MRS. WANGEL.

[_Feeling limply in her pocket._] No. I must have left my purse at home.

BROWN.

Well, I'm----!

                                            [_He looks sourly at her._

MRS. WANGEL.

[_Growing frightened._] What are you going to do with me?

BROWN.

Do with you? Send you back to Quangle by the first steamer, of course.
You'll have to work your passage back as stewardess. Heaven help the
passengers!

                      [_He stalks to the hatchway and disappears. MRS.
                              WANGEL, with a groan, resigns herself to
                              sea-sickness._

_Curtain._



Cæsar and Cleopatra.

_It might have been thought that Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra"
rather than Mr. Bernard Shaw's "Cæsar and Cleopatra" demanded a
dramatic sequel, but as Mr. Shaw has pointed out repeatedly that he
is the greater dramatist of the two, his play has been chosen in
preference to Shakespeare's. A prefatory essay proving--at great
length--that the dialogue of this sequel is true to life, and is in
fact substantially a reproduction of what was spoken in the year B.C.
31, has been omitted for lack of space._

OCTAVIAN AND CLEOPATRA.


  SCENE.--_An extravagantly furnished apartment in the Palace at
    Alexandria. CLEOPATRA is discovered seated upon her throne. She is
    dressed with mournful splendour, as befits a queen who has been
    defeated at Actium and has suffered a recent bereavement. Her face
    is as attractive as a liberal use of cosmetics can make it, and her
    whole appearance is that of a middle-aged and rather dissipated
    member of the corps de ballet who has gone into half-mourning
    because the manager has reduced her salary. CHARMIAN, a pretty,
    shrewish-looking damsel, is in attendance on her._

CLEOPATRA.

[_Nervously._] Am I looking my best, Charmian?

CHARMIAN.

[_Sulkily._] Your majesty is looking as well as _I_ can make you. If
you are not satisfied you had better get another maid.

CLEOPATRA.

[_Looking at herself in hand mirror._] Silly child! Of course I am
satisfied. I think you are wonderful.

CHARMIAN.

[_Mollified._] Yes. I think I've not done so badly.

CLEOPATRA.

Of course, with Antony not even buried yet, it would hardly have done
for me to be _too_ magnificent.

CHARMIAN.

[_Decidedly_]. Most unsuitable.

CLEOPATRA.

As it is, I think we've arrived at a rather successful blend of
splendour and sorrow, suggesting at once the afflicted widow and the
queen who is open to consolation.

CHARMIAN.

That is certainly the impression we intended to convey. By the way,
when does Cæsar arrive?

CLEOPATRA.

Octavian? Almost at once.

CHARMIAN.

His first visit, isn't it?

CLEOPATRA.

Yes. So much depends on a first impression. [_Looks at mirror again._]
I think we shall captivate him.

CHARMIAN.

[_Dubiously._] He's not very impressionable, I hear.

CLEOPATRA.

No. But I shall manage it. Think how completely I fascinated Julius.

CHARMIAN.

His uncle? I'm afraid that's hardly a reason why you should prove
equally attractive to the nephew.

CLEOPATRA.

My dear child, why not?

CHARMIAN.

Well--the lapse of time, you know. That was seventeen years ago.

CLEOPATRA.

So long? I am really very well preserved.

CHARMIAN

Considering the wear and tear.

CLEOPATRA.

My good Charmian, how crudely you put things. I declare I've a good
mind to have you executed.

CHARMIAN.

[_Tranquilly._] Your majesty will hardly do that. I am the only person
in Egypt who really understands the secret of your majesty's complexion.

CLEOPATRA.

That's true. But you ought to be more tactful.

CHARMIAN.

[_Tossing her head._] You can't expect me to display tact when my wages
haven't been paid since the battle of Actium.

CLEOPATRA.

Poor child! Never mind, when Octavian is at my feet you shall be paid
[_meaningly_] in full! Will that satisfy you?

CHARMIAN.

I'd much rather have something on account.

CLEOPATRA.

I wish you wouldn't vex me in this way just when it's so important that
I should look my best. You know how unbecoming temper is to a woman
when she is ... well, over thirty [_beginning to cry_].

CHARMIAN.

There, there! I'm sorry I said anything to hurt you. Don't cry, for
Heaven's sake, or that rouge will run. Then I shall have to go all
over you again. Dry your eyes, there's a good creature. [_CLEOPATRA
does so obediently._] I declare you're all in streaks. Come here, and
let me put you straight.

          [_CLEOPATRA goes to CHARMIAN, who produces powder-puff etc.,
                  and repairs the ravages of emotion._

CLEOPATRA.

Quick, quick! They're coming. I hear them. I'm glad he's so early. Only
a quarter of an hour after his time. [_Proudly_] That shows how eager
he is to see me! I feel that this is going to be another of my triumphs.

        [_CHARMIAN puts the finishing touch to the QUEEN just as CÆSAR
                enters. She then hastily conceals powder-puff, etc.,
                behind her. CLEOPATRA has no time to return to the
                throne, and stands rather awkwardly with CHARMIAN to
                receive her visitors. These prove to be OCTAVIAN, a
                pale, dyspeptic-looking young man of about thirty;
                AGRIPPA, a bluff, thickset, red-faced warrior past
                middle age, and a guard of Roman soldiers._

OCTAVIAN.

[_Looking round the gorgeous apartment with much disgust, and speaking
in a soft, weary voice._] Ugh! Bad taste, very bad taste all this.

AGRIPPA.

You know what these barbarians are. [_To the two women._] Kindly inform
the Queen Cæsar is here.

CLEOPATRA.

[_Advancing._] _I_ am the Queen. How do you do?

AGRIPPA.

You! Nonsense!

CLEOPATRA.

[_Archly._] Oh, yes, I am.

OCTAVIAN.

[_With gentle melancholy._] Dear, dear, another illusion gone!

CLEOPATRA.

Illusion?

OCTAVIAN.

Your beauty, you know; your grace, your charm. I had heard so
much of them. So had Agrippa. Let me introduce you, by the way.
Agrippa--Cleopatra. [_Wearily._] As I was saying, it is _most_
disappointing.

AGRIPPA.

[_Gruffly._] Not what _I_ expected at all!

                                        [_CHARMIAN giggles furtively._

CLEOPATRA.

[_Puzzled._] You--don't admire me?

OCTAVIAN.

[_Gently._] Admire you? My dear lady!

CLEOPATRA.

[_Bridling._] Antony was of a different opinion.

AGRIPPA.

[_Bluntly._] Antony was a fool.

OCTAVIAN.

Hush, my dear Agrippa! You hurt her feelings.

               [_AGRIPPA shrugs his shoulders and crosses to CHARMIAN,
                       with whom he begins a vigorous flirtation._

CLEOPATRA.

[_Angrily._] Never mind my feelings.

OCTAVIAN.

Frankly then, dear lady, we are not impressed. We came here prepared
for a beautiful temptress, a dazzling siren whom I must resist or
perish, something seductive, enticing. And what do we find?

CLEOPATRA.

[_Furious._] Well, what _do_ you find.

OCTAVIAN.

[_In his gentlest voice._] Dear lady, don't let us pursue this painful
subject. Probably we had not allowed for the flight of time. Suffice it
that our poor hopes are unrealised. [_Looking round_] But I don't see
Cæsarion.

CLEOPATRA.

[_Sullenly._] My son is not here.

OCTAVIAN.

Another disappointment.

CLEOPATRA.

You wished to speak to him?

OCTAVIAN.

Yes. They talk of him as a son of Julius, don't they?

CLEOPATRA.

He _is_ a son of Julius.

OCTAVIAN.

A sort of relation of mine, then? I must really make his acquaintance.
Can you give me his address?

CLEOPATRA.

[_Sulkily._] No. If you want him, you will have to find him for
yourself.

OCTAVIAN.

[_Blandly._] I shall find him, dearest Queen. You need be under no
apprehensions about that.

CLEOPATRA.

Brute!

OCTAVIAN.

Eh?

CLEOPATRA.

Nothing. I was only thinking.

OCTAVIAN.

Never think _aloud_, dear lady. It's a dangerous habit.

CLEOPATRA.

[_Impatiently._] Is there anything further you want with me?

OCTAVIAN.

[_Affably._] Nothing, thank you, nothing. At least, nothing just now.

CLEOPATRA.

You would like to see me later?

OCTAVIAN.

[_Gentler than a sucking dove._] In a few weeks, perhaps. The Triumph,
you know. The sovereign people throwing up their caps and hallooing.
The Procession up the Sacred Way, with the headsman at the end of it
all. [_Yawning slightly._] The usual thing.

CLEOPATRA.

[_Losing her temper._] Oh, you're not a man at all! You're a block, a
stone! You have no blood in your veins. You're not like Antony.

OCTAVIAN.

No, dear lady, I'm not like Antony. If I were, I shouldn't have beaten
him at Actium.

CLEOPATRA.

I won't stay to be baited in this way. I won't! I won't!

                                                 [_Goes towards door._

OCTAVIAN.

[_Gallantly._] Farewell, then. We shall meet again. Agrippa, the Queen
is going.

AGRIPPA.

[_Breaking off in the midst of his flirtation._] Eh? Oh, good-bye.

CLEOPATRA.

[_Stamping her foot._] Charmian!

                                                              [_Exit._

                    [_CHARMIAN jumps up, kisses her hand to AGRIPPA and
                            follows her mistress out._

AGRIPPA.

[_Looking after her._] That's a pretty little minx.

OCTAVIAN.

[_Who has seated himself wearily on the throne._] Is she? I didn't
notice ... Cæsarion's fled.

AGRIPPA.

So I supposed.

OCTAVIAN.

It's a great nuisance. We must find him. Will you see about it?

AGRIPPA.

If you wish it. What shall I do with him?

OCTAVIAN.

[_In his tired voice._] Better put him to death. It will save a lot of
trouble in the end.

AGRIPPA.

But the boy's your own cousin.

OCTAVIAN.

Yes. I have always disliked my relations.

AGRIPPA.

[_Admiringly._] I begin to think you _are_ a genius, Cæsar, after all.

OCTAVIAN.

I _am_. Much good it does me! I'd give my genius for your digestion any
day.

                          [_Leans back on throne and closes his eyes._

            [_Enter CHARMIAN hurriedly, looking pale and dishevelled._

CHARMIAN.

Help! Help! The Queen is dying!

OCTAVIAN.

[_Irritably, opening his eyes._] Stop that noise, girl! You make my
head ache.

CHARMIAN.

She is dying, I tell you! She has taken poison!

                                                   [_Exit, squealing._

AGRIPPA.

Poison, by Jove! Confound it, she mustn't do that, must she?

                                       [_Is about to follow CHARMIAN._

[Illustration: E. J. Wheeler.

    "I'd give my genius for your digestion any day."]

OCTAVIAN.

Why not? It seems to me an excellent arrangement. Very thoughtful of
her. Very thoughtful and considerate.

AGRIPPA.

But we want her for that Triumph of yours.

OCTAVIAN.

Never mind. After all, what _is_ a Triumph? Disagreeable for her. A
bore for us. Let her die now, by all means, if she prefers it.

AGRIPPA.

[_Impatiently._] Don't _you_ try and be magnanimous too. Leave that to
your uncle. He did it better.

OCTAVIAN.

[_Wearily._] My dear Agrippa, how stupid you are! What possible use
can a quite plain and middle-aged lady be in a triumphal procession?
If Cleopatra were still attractive I should say, "Save her, by all
means." As she isn't, [_yawning_] I think we may let her die her own
way without being charged with excessive magnanimity.

AGRIPPA.

[_Regretfully._] Still I _should_ have liked to have seen her brought
to Rome.

OCTAVIAN.

Ah! I shall be quite contented to see her comfortably in her coffin
in Egypt. We'll let her be buried beside Antony. It will gratify the
Egyptians, and it won't hurt us. See to it, there's a good fellow.

                 [_Exit AGRIPPA. OCTAVIAN leans back, and falls asleep
                         on the throne._

_Curtain._



The Notorious Mrs. Ebbsmith.

_A DRAMATIC PROLOGUE._

_Those persons who have seen Mrs. Patrick Campbell's magnificent
performance in "The Notorious Mrs. Ebbsmith" will have probably gone
away with a quite false impression of the gentleman with whom Agnes
Ebbsmith spent her eight years of married life. "For the first twelve
months," she declares bitterly in the first act, "he treated me like
a woman in a harem, for the rest of the time like a beast of burden."
This is not quite just to poor Ebbsmith, who was a good sort of fellow
in his commonplace way, and it is manifestly unfair that the audience
should have no opportunity of hearing his side of the question. An
attempt is made to remedy this injustice in the following Prologue,
which all fair-minded persons are entreated to read before seeing Mr.
Pinero's very clever play._

THE UNFORTUNATE MR. EBBSMITH.


  SCENE.--_The dining-room of the EBBSMITHS' house in West
    Kensington. AGNES and her husband are at breakfast. They have been
    married seven years. She looks much as we see her in the early acts
    of the play--gaunt, pale, badly dressed. He is a careworn man with
    hair slightly grey at the temples, an anxious forehead and sad
    eyes. He is glancing through the "Standard" in the intervals of
    eating his bacon. She is absorbed in the "Morning Screamer," one of
    the more violent Socialist-Radical organs of that day. Presently
    Ebbsmith looks up._

EBBSMITH.

You won't forget, Agnes, that we are expecting people to dinner
to-night?

AGNES.

[_Putting down her paper with an air of patient endurance._] Eh?

EBBSMITH.

[_Mildly._] I was saying, dear, if you will give me your attention for
a moment, that I hoped you would not forget that Sir Myles Jawkins and
his wife and the Spencers and the Thorntons were dining here to-night.

AGNES.

[_Contemptuously._] You seem very anxious that I should remember that
_Lady_ Jawkins is honouring us with her company!

EBBSMITH.

I only meant that I hoped you had told Jane about dinner. Last time the
Jawkinses came you may recollect that you had omitted to order anything
for them to eat, and when they arrived there was nothing in the house
but some soup, a little cold mutton and a rice-pudding.

AGNES.

Very well [_returns to her paper._]

EBBSMITH.

Thank you. And, Agnes, if you could manage to be dressed in time to
receive them I should be very much obliged.

AGNES.

I?

EBBSMITH.

Of course. I suppose you will be here to entertain our guests?

AGNES.

_Your_ guests, you mean.

EBBSMITH.

My dear Agnes, surely my guests are your guests also.

AGNES.

[_Breaking out._] As long as the present unjust and oppressive marriage
laws remain in force----

EBBSMITH.

[_Interrupting._] I don't think we need go into the question of the
alteration of the marriage laws.

AGNES.

Ah, yes. You always refuse to listen to my arguments on that subject.
You know they are unanswerable.

EBBSMITH.

[_Patiently._] I only meant that there would hardly be time to discuss
the matter at breakfast.

AGNES.

[_Vehemently._] A paltry evasion!

EBBSMITH.

Still, I assume that you will be here to receive our guests--my guests
if you prefer it--to-night?

AGNES.

Do you make a point of always being at home to receive _my_ guests?

EBBSMITH.

Those Anarchist people whom you are constantly asking to tea? Certainly
not.

AGNES.

[_With triumphant logic._] Then may I ask why I should be at home to
receive the Jawkinses?

EBBSMITH.

My dear, you surely realise that the cases are hardly parallel. The
only time I was present at one of your Revolutionary tea-parties the
guests consisted of a Hyde Park orator who dropped his h's, a cobbler
who had turned Socialist by way of increasing his importance in the
eyes of the community, three ladies who were either living apart from
their husbands or living with the husbands of other ladies, and a
Polish refugee who had been convicted, quite justly, of murder. You
cannot pretend to compare the Jawkinses with such people.

AGNES.

Indeed, I can. [_Rhetorically._] In a properly organized Society----

EBBSMITH.

[_Testily._] I really can't stop to re-organize Society now. I am due
at my chambers in half-an-hour.

AGNES.

[_Sullenly._] As you decline to listen to what I have to say, I may as
well tell you at once that I shall _not_ be at home to dinner to-night.

EBBSMITH.

[_Controlling his temper with an effort._] May I ask your reason?

AGNES.

Because I have to be at the meeting of the Anti-marriage Association.

EBBSMITH.

Can't you send an excuse?

AGNES.

Send an excuse! Throw up a meeting called to discuss an important
Public question because _you_ have asked a few barristers and their
wives to dine! You must be mad.

EBBSMITH.

Well, I must put them off, I suppose. What night next week will suit
you to meet them? Thursday?

AGNES.

On Thursday I am addressing a meeting of the Society for the
Encouragement of Divorce.

EBBSMITH.

Friday?

AGNES.

[_Coldly._] Friday, as you know, is the weekly meeting of the Agamists'
League.

EBBSMITH.

Saturday?

AGNES.

On Saturday I am speaking on Free Union for the People at Battersea.

EBBSMITH.

Can you suggest an evening?

AGNES.

[_Firmly._] No. I think the time has come to make a stand against the
convention which demands that a wife should preside at her husband's
dinner-parties. It is an absurdity. Away with it!

EBBSMITH.

[_Alarmed._] But, Agnes! Think what you are doing. You don't want to
offend these people. Spencer and Thornton are useful men to know,
and Jawkins puts a lot of work in my way.

[Illustration: E. J. Wheeler.

    "Friday, you know, is the meeting of the Agamists' League."]

AGNES.

[_With magnificent scorn._] How like a man! And so _I_ am to be civil
to this Jawkins person because he "puts a lot of work in your way!"

EBBSMITH.

[_Meekly._] Well, you know, my dear, I have to make an income somehow.

AGNES.

I would sooner starve than resort to such truckling!

EBBSMITH.

[_Gloomily._] We are likely to do that, sooner or later, in any case.

AGNES.

What do you mean?

EBBSMITH.

[_Diffidently._] Your--ahem!--somewhat subversive tenets, my love, are
not precisely calculated to improve my professional prospects.

AGNES.

What have _I_ to do with _your_ prospects?

EBBSMITH.

The accounts of your meetings which appear in the newspapers are not
likely to encourage respectable solicitors to send me briefs.

AGNES.

[_Indifferently._] Indeed!

EBBSMITH.

Here's a report in to-day's _Standard_ of a meeting addressed by you
last night which would certainly not have that effect. Shall I read it
to you?

AGNES.

If you wish it.

EBBSMITH.

[_Reads._] "The meeting which was held in St. Luke's parish last night
under the auspices of the Polyandrous Club proved to be of an unusually
exciting description. The lecturer was Mrs. John Ebbsmith, wife of the
well-known barrister of that name." [_Breaking off._] Really, Agnes, I
think _my_ name need not have been dragged into the business.

AGNES.

Go on.

EBBSMITH.

"As soon as the doors were opened the place of meeting--the Iron Hall,
Carter Street--was filled with a compact body of roughs assembled from
the neighbouring streets, and there seemed every prospect of disorderly
scenes. The appearance of Mrs. Ebbsmith on the platform was greeted
with cheers and cries of 'Mad Agnes!'" Surely, my dear, you must
recognise that my professional reputation is endangered when my wife
is reported in the newspapers as addressing meetings in discreditable
parts of London, where her appearance is greeted with shouts of 'Mad
Agnes!'

AGNES.

Nonsense! Who is likely to read an obscure paragraph like that?

EBBSMITH.

Obscure paragraph! My dear Agnes, the _Standard_ has a leading
article on it. Listen to this:--"Mrs. Ebbsmith's crusade against the
institution of marriage is again attracting unfavourable attention.
Last night in St. Luke's she once more attempted to ventilate
her preposterous schemes ... crack-brained crusade ... bellowing
revolutionary nonsense on obscure platforms.... This absurd visionary,
whom her audiences not inappropriately nickname 'Mad Agnes'....
Ultimately the meeting had to be broken up by the police.... We cannot
understand how a man in Mr. Ebbsmith's position can allow himself to be
made ridiculous." [_Almost weeping._] I do think they might leave _my_
name out of it. In a leading article too!

AGNES.

Is there any more of the stuff?

EBBSMITH.

Another half column. Do, my dear, to oblige me, find some less
ostentatious method of making known your views on the subject of
marriage.

AGNES.

[_Anticipating a remark subsequently made by the DUKE OF ST.
OLPHERTS._] Unostentatious immodesty is not part of my programme.

EBBSMITH.

[_Humbly._] Could you not, for my sake, consent to take a less
_prominent_ part in the movement?

AGNES.

[_Enthusiastically._] But I want to be among the Leaders--the Leaders!
That will be my hour.

EBBSMITH.

[_Puzzled._] Your hour? I don't think I quite understand you.

AGNES.

There's only one hour in a woman's life--when she's defying her
husband, wrecking his happiness and blasting his prospects. That is her
hour! Let her make the most of every second of it!

EBBSMITH.

[_Wearily._] Well, my dear, when it's over, you'll have the
satisfaction of counting the departing footsteps of a ruined man.

AGNES.

Departing?

EBBSMITH.

Certainly. You and your crusade between them will have killed me. But I
must go now. I ought to be at my chambers in ten minutes, and I must go
round and make my excuses to Jawkins some time this morning. Tell Jane
not to bother about dinner to-night. I shall dine at the Club.

                                                              [_Exit._

_Curtain._



The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.

_A DRAMATIZED VERSION._

_When it was announced recently in an English Daily Paper that a drama
founded upon Fitzgerald's version of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám had
been compounded in the United States, and would shortly be seen on the
stage, many people may have wondered how it was done. It was done as
follows_:--

OMAR AND OH MY.


  SCENE.--_Courtyard of the deserted palace of JAMSHYD, canopied by
    that inverted bowl commonly called the sky. To right, a tavern--not
    deserted. To left, a potter's house. At back, the grave of BAHRÁM,
    whence a sound of snoring proceeds. A wild ass stamps fitfully upon
    it. It is four o'clock in the morning, and the "false dawn" shows
    in the sky. In the centre of the stage stand a lion and a lizard,
    eyeing each other mistrustfully._

LION.

Look here, do _you_ keep these courts, or do I?

LIZARD.

[_Resentfully._] I don't know. I believe we both keep them.

LION.

[_Sarcastically._] _Do_ you? Then I venture to differ from you.

LIZARD.

Perhaps you'd rather we took turns?

LION.

Oh, no, I wouldn't. I mean to have this job to myself.

                   [_He and the lizard close in mortal combat. After a
                           gallant struggle the latter is killed, and
                           the lion proceeds to eat him. Suddenly a
                           shadowy form issues from the grave at back
                           of stage._

LION.

Bahrám, by Jove! Confound that jackass!

                     [_Bolts remains of lizard and then bolts himself,
                             pursued by shadowy form._

WILD ASS.

They said I couldn't wake him. But I knew better! Hee-haw!

                                                  [_Exit in triumph._]

              [_A sound in revelry becomes noticeable from the tavern.
                      A crowd gathers outside. The voice of OMAR,
                      rather tipsy, is heard._

OMAR.

When all the temple--hic!--is prepared within, why nods the lousy
worshipper outside?

                                   [_A cock crows, and the sun rises._

CROWD.

[_Shouting in unison._] Open then the door. You know how little while
we have to stay. And, once departed, goodness only knows when we shall
get back again!

OMAR.

[_Opening the door and appearing unsteadily on the threshold._] You
can't come in. It's--hic--full.

                                                 [_Closes door again._

CROWD.

I say, what rot!

                                                 [_Exeunt, depressed._

NIGHTINGALE.

[_Jubilantly from tree._] Wine! Wine! Red wine!

ROSE.

[_From neighbouring bush, much shocked._] My dear, you don't know how
your passion for alcohol shocks me.

NIGHTINGALE.

Oh yes I do. But every morning brings a thousand roses. After all,
you're cheap. Jamshyd and I like our liquor, and plenty of it.

ROSE.

[_Shaking her head in disapproval._] I've heard he drank deep.

NIGHTINGALE.

Of course he did. You should have seen him when Hátim called to supper!
He simply went for it!

ROSE.

[_Blushing crimson._] How dreadful!

NIGHTINGALE.

[_Contemptuously._] I dare say. But you wouldn't be so red yourself if
some buried Cæsar didn't fertilize your roots. Why, even the hyacinth's
past isn't altogether creditable, and as for the grass--why, I could
tell you things about the grass that would scare the soul out of a
vegetable!

ROSE.

[_Annoyed._] I'm not a vegetable.

NIGHTINGALE.

Well, well, I can't stay to argue with you. I've but a little time to
flutter myself.

                                                  [_Exit on the wing._

                          [_Enter OMAR from tavern. He is by this time
                                  magnificently intoxicated and is
                                  leaning on the arm of a fascinating
                                  SÁKI. He has a jug of wine in his
                                  hand._

OMAR.

[_Trying to kiss her._] Ah, my beloved, fill the cup that clears to-day
of past regrets and future fears. To-morrow! Why to-morrow I may be----

SÁKI.

[_Interrupting._] I know what you're going to say. To-morrow you'll be
sober. But you won't. _I_ know you. Go home!

OMAR.

Home!--hic. What do I want with home? A book of verses underneath
the bough, a jug of wine, a loaf of bread--no, no bread, two jugs of
wine--and thou [_puts arm round her waist_] beside me singing like a
bulbul.

                                                [_Sings uproariously._

    For to-night we'll merry be!
    For to-night----

SÁKI.

Fie! An old man like you!

OMAR.

Old! Thank goodness I _am_ old. When I was young I went to school and
heard the sages. Didn't learn much _there_! They said I came like water
and went like wind. Horrid chilly Band-of-Hope sort of doctrine. I know
better now.

                                   [_Drinks from the jug in his hand._

SÁKI.

[_Watching him anxiously._] Take care. You'll spill it.

OMAR.

Never mind. It won't be wasted. All goes to quench some poor beggar's
thirst down there [_points below_]. Dare say he needs it--hic.

SÁKI.

[_Shocked._] How can you talk so!

OMAR.

[_Growing argumentative in his cups._] I must abjure the balm of life,
_I_ must! I must give up wine for fear of--hic--What is it I'm to fear?
Gout, I suppose. Not I!

                                               [_Takes another drink._

SÁKI.

[_Trying to take jug from him._] There, there, you've had enough.

OMAR.

[_Fast losing coherence in his extreme intoxication._] I want to talk
to you about Thee and Me. That's what I want to talk about. [_Counting
on his fingers._] You see there's the Thee in Me and there's the Me in
Thee. That's myshticism, that is. Difficult word to say, mysticishm.
Must light lamp and see if I can't find it. Must be somewhere about.

[Illustration: E. J. Wheeler.

    "Myshticism, difficult word to say, mysticishm."]

SÁKI.

You're drunk, that's what you are. Disgracefully drunk.

OMAR.

Of course I'm drunk. I am to-day what I was yesterday, and to-morrow I
shall not be less. Kiss me.

SÁKI.

[_Boxing his ears._] I won't have it, I tell you. I'm a respectable
Sáki; and you're not to take liberties, or I'll leave you to find your
way home alone.

OMAR.

[_Becoming maudlin._] Don't leave me, my rose, my bullfinch--I mean
bulbul. You know how my road is beset with pitfall--hic!--and with gin.

SÁKI.

[_Disgusted._] Plenty of gin, _I_ know. You never can pass a
public-house.

OMAR.

[_Struck with the splendour of the idea._] I say--hic!--let's fling the
dust aside, and naked on the air of Heaven ride. It's shame not to do
it!

            [_Flings off hat, and stamps on it by way of preliminary._

SÁKI.

[_Scandalised._] If you take anything else off I shall call the police.

                                                    [_Exit hurriedly._

OMAR.

[_Terrified._] Here, Sáki, come back. How am I to find my way
without you? [_A pause._] What's come to the girl? I only
spoke--hic--meta--phorically. Difficult word to say, meta--phorically!
[_Longer pause._] How am I to get home? Can't go 'lone. Must wait for
someone to come along. [_Peers tipsily about him._] Strange, isn't it,
that though lots of people go along here every day, not one returns to
tell me of the road! Very strange. S'pose must sleep here.... S'pose----

                                 [_Rolls into ditch and falls asleep._

                 [_The curtain falls for a moment. When it rises again,
                         day is departing and it is growing dark. OMAR
                         is still in his ditch. The door of the
                         potter's house, to the left of the stage, is
                         open, the POTTER having betaken himself to
                         the tavern opposite, and the pots within are
                         arguing fiercely._

FIRST POT.

Don't tell me I was only made to be broken. I know better.

SECOND POT.

Even a peevish boy wouldn't break _me_! The Potter would whack him if
he did!

THIRD POT.

[_Of a more ungainly make._] Depends on what he drank out of you.

SECOND POT.

What's that you say, you lopsided object?

THIRD POT.

That's right. Sneer at me! 'Tisn't my fault if the potter's hand shook
when he made me. He was not sober.

FOURTH POT.

[_I think a Súfi pipkin._] It's all very well to talk about pot and
potter. What _I_ want to know is, what did the pot call the kettle?

THIRD POT.

[_Grumbling._] I believe my clay's too dry. That's what's the matter
with _me_!

                           [_The moon rises. A step is heard without._

SEVERAL POTS.

Hark, there's the potter! Can't you hear his boots creaking?

_Enter POTTER from tavern._

POTTER.

[_Crossly._] Shut up in there, or I'll break some of you.

                                   [_The pots tremble and are silent._

POTTER.

[_Seeing Omar._] Hullo. Come out of that. You're in _my_ ditch. [_Lifts
him into sitting posture by the collar._]

OMAR.

[_Rubbing his eyes._] Eh! What's that? Oh, my head! my head! [_Clasps
it between his hands._]

POTTER.

Get up! You've been drinking.

OMAR.

[_Dazed at his penetration._] I wonder how you guessed that!

POTTER.

It's plain enough. You've been providing your fading life with liquor.
I can see that with half an eye.

OMAR.

I have, I have. I've drowned my glory in a shallow cup, and my head's
very bad.

POTTER.

You should take the pledge.

OMAR.

Oh! I've sworn to give up drink lots of times. [_Doubtfully._] But was
I sober when I swore? Tell me that.

POTTER.

[_Scratching his head._] Dunnow.

OMAR.

[_Staggering to his feet._] Would but the desert of the fountain yield
one glimpse! In more prosaic language, could you get me something to
drink? I'm rather star-scattered myself and the grass is wet.

                         [_POTTER goes to house and takes up third pot
                                 at random._

THIRD POT.

[_Delighted._] Now he's going to fill me with the old familiar juice!

                   [_POTTER fills him with water and returns to OMAR._

THIRD POT.

[_Disgusted._] Water! Well, I'm dashed!

OMAR.

Many thanks, O Sáki. Here's to you. [_Drains beaker._] Ugh! don't think
much of your liquor. I wish the moon wouldn't look at me like that.
She's a beastly colour. Why doesn't she look the other way?

POTTER.

[_Sarcastically._] Wants to see _you_, I suppose.

OMAR.

[_Darkly._] Well, some day she won't. That's all. Farewell, O Sáki.
Yours is a joyous errand. But I wish you had put something stronger in
the glass. [_Handing it back to him._] Turn it down, there's a good
fellow.

                                                              [_Exit._

_Curtain._


THE END.

BRADBURY, AGNEW, & CO. LD., PRINTERS, LONDON AND TONBRIDGE.





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