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Title: Garside's Career - A Comedy In Four Acts
Author: Brighouse, Harold
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 "Garside's Career - A Comedy In Four Acts" ***

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A Comedy In Four Acts

By Harold Brighouse

London: Constable And Company Ltd.


[Illustration: 0001]

[Illustration: 0007]





|Interior of an artisan cottage. Door centre, leading direct to street,
door right to house. Fireplace with kitchen range left. Table centre,
with print cloth. Two plain chairs under it, one left, one centre,
facing audience. Rocking-chair by fireplace. Two chairs against wall
right, above door. Dresser right, below door. Small hanging bookcase
on wall, left centre. Window right centre. On walls plainly framed
photographs of Socialist leaders--Blatchford, Hyndman, Hardie. The time
is 7.0 p.m. on a June evening.

Mrs. Garside is a working-class woman of 50, greyhaired, slight, with
red toil-worn hands and a face expressive of resignation marred by
occasional petulance, dressed in a rough serge skirt, dark print blouse,
elastic-sided boots, and a white apron. She sits in the rocking-chair,
watching the cheap alarm-clock fretfully. Outside a boy is heard calling
"Last Edishun." She rises hastily, feels on the mantelpiece for her
purse, opens the door centre and buys a paper from the boy who appears
through the doorway. She closes door, sits centre and spreads the paper
on the table, rises again and gets spectacle-case from mantelpiece. She
sits with spectacles on and rapidly goes through the paper seeking some
particular item.

The door centre opens and Margaret Shawcross enters. She is young, dark,
with a face beautiful in expression rather than feature. It is the face
of an idealist, one who would go through fire and water for the faith
that is in her.

She is a school teacher, speaking with an educated voice in a slightly
apparent northern accent, dressed neatly and serviceably.

Mrs. Garside turns eagerly as she enters and is disappointed on seeing


Mrs. Gar. Oh, it's you. I thought it might be----

Mar. (_closing door, sympathetically_). Yes. But it's too early to
expect Peter back yet.

Mrs. G. (_with some truculence_). He'll not be long. He's always said
he'd let his mother be the first to hear the news.

Mar. (_gently_). You don't mind my being here to hear it with you?

Mrs. G. (_rising and putting spectacles back on mantelpiece, speaking
ungraciously_). No, you've got a right to hear it too, Margaret.
(_Margaret picks up paper._) I can't find anything in that.

Mar. Peter said the results come out too late for the evening papers.

Mrs. G. He never told me. (_Margaret folds paper on table._) I'm glad
though. There's no one else _'_ull know a-front of me. He'll bring the
good news home himself. He's coming now as fast as train and car _'_ull
bring him. (_Sitting in rocking-chair._)

Mar. Yes. He knows we're waiting here, we two who care for Peter more
than anything on earth.

Mrs. G. (_giving her a jealous glance_). I wish he'd come.

Mar. Try to be calm, Mrs. Garside.

Mrs. G. (_irritably_). Calm? How can I be calm? I'm on edge till I know.
(_Rocking her chair quickly._)

Mar. (_trying to soothe her_). It isn't as if he can't try again if he's
not through this time.

Mrs. G. (_confidently, keeping her chair still_). He'll have no need to
try again. I've a son and his name this night is Peter Garside, b.a. I
know he's through.

Mar. (_sitting in chair lift of table_). Then if you're sure----

Mrs. G. Yes. I know I'm a fidget. I want to hear it from his own lips.
He's worked so hard he can't fail. (_Accusingly._) You don't believe me,
Margaret. You're not sure of him.

Mar. (_with elbows on table and head on hands_). I'm fearful of the odds
against him--the chances that the others have and he hasn't. _Peter's_
to work for his living. _They're_ free to study all day long. (_Rising,
enthusiastically._) Oh, if he does it, what a triumph for our class.
Peter Garside, the Board School boy, the working engineer, keeping
himself and you, and studying at night for his degree.

Mrs. G. (_dogmatically_). The odds don't count. I know Peter. Peter's
good enough for any odds. You doubt him, Margaret.

Mar. No. I've seen him work. I've worked with him till he distanced
me and left me far behind. He knows enough to pass, to pass above them

Mrs. G. Yes, yes!

Mar. But examinations are a fearful hazard.

Mrs. G. Not to Peter. He's fighting for his class, he's showing them
he's the better man. He can work with his hands and they can't, and he
can work with his brain as well as the best of them.

Mar. He'll do it. It may not be this time, but he'll do it in the end.

Mrs. G. (_obstinately_). This time, Margaret.

Mar. I do hope so.

Mrs. G. (_looking at the clock_). Do you think there's been a breakdown
on the cars?

Mar. No, no.

Mrs. G. (_rising anxiously_). He said seven, and it's after that.

Mar. (_trying to soothe her_). Not much.

Mrs. G. (_pacing about_). Why doesn't he come? (_Stopping short._) Where
do people go to find out if there's been an accident? It's the police
station, isn't it?

Mar. Oh, there's no need----

[_Peter Garside bursts in through centre door and closes it behind him
as he speaks. He is 23, cleanshaven, fair, sturdily built, with a large,
loose mouth, strong jaw, and square face, dressed in a cheap tweed suit,
wearing a red tie._

Peter (_breathlessly_). I've done it.

Mrs. G. (_going to him; he puts his arm round her and pats her back,
while she hides her face against his chest_). My boy, my boy!

Peter. I've done it, mother. (_Looking proudly at Margaret._) I'm an
honours man of Midlandton University.

Mar. First class, Peter?

Peter. Yes. First Class. (_Gently disengaging himself from Mrs.

Mrs. G. (_standing by his left, looking up at him_). I knew, I knew it,
Peter. I had the faith in you.

Peter (_hanging his cap behind the door right, then coming back to
centre. Margaret is standing on the hearthrug_). Ah, little mother, what
a help that faith has been to me. I couldn't disappoint a faith like
yours. I had to win. Mother, Margaret, I've done it. Done it. Oh,
I think I'm not quite sane to-night. This room seems small all of a
sudden. I want to leap, to dance, and I know I'd break my neck against
the ceiling if I did. Peter Garside, b.a. (_Approaching Margaret._)
Margaret, tell me I deserve it. _You_ know what it means to me. The
height of my ambition. The crown, the goal, my target reached at last.
Margaret, isn't it a great thing that I've done?

Mar. (_taking both his hands_). A great thing, Peter.

Peter. Oh, but I was lucky in my papers.

Mar. No, you just deserve it all.

Peter (_dropping her hands_). Up to the end I didn't know. I thought I'd
failed. And here I'm through first class. I've beaten men I never hoped
to equal. I've called myself a swollen-headed fool for dreaming to
compete with them, and now----

Mrs. G. Now you've justified my faith. I never doubted you--like
Margaret did.

Peter (_looking from her to Margaret_). Margaret did?

Mar. I didn't dare to hope for this, Peter--at a first attempt.

Mrs. G. (_contemptuously_). She didn't dare. But I did. I dared, Peter,
I knew.

Peter (_putting his arm over her shoulder_). Oh, mother, mother! But
Margaret was right, if I hadn't had such luck in the papers I----

Mrs. G. (_slipping from him and going to where her cape and bonnet hang
on the door right_). It wasn't luck. Even Margaret said you deserved it

Peter. Even Margaret! (_Seeing her putting cape on._) You're not going
out, mother?

Mrs. G. (_with determination_). Yes, I am. There's others besides
Margaret doubted you. I'm going to tell them all. I'm going to be the
first to spread the news. And won't it spread! Like murder.

[_Margaret sits l.c._

Peter. Oh, yes. It'll spread fast enough. They may know already.

Mrs. G. (_turning with her hand on the centre door latch_). How could

Peter. News travels fast.

Mrs. G. But you haven't told anyone else. Have you, Peter?
(_Reproachfully._) You said you'd let me be the first to know.

Peter. I met O'Callagan on his way to the Club. He asked me. I couldn't
refuse to answer.

Mrs. G. (_energetically_). He'd no right to meet you. A dreamy wastrel
like O'Callagan to know before your mother!

Peter. He'll only tell the men at the Club, mother.

Mrs. G. (_opening door_). And I'll tell the women. They're going to
know the kind of son I've borne. I'm a proud woman this night, and
all Belinda Street is going to know I've cause to be. (_Sniffing._)
O'Callagan indeed!

[_Exit Mrs. Garside._

Peter. And now, Margaret? (_He stands centre behind table._)

Mar. (_looking up and holding out her hand across table; she takes his,
bending_). Oh, my dear, my dear.

Peter. Are you pleased with me?

Mar. Pleased!

Peter (_rising_). Yes. We've done it.

Mar. You, not we. My hero.

Peter. We, Margaret, we. I'm no hero. I owe it all to you.

Mar. (_rising_). You owe it to yourself.

Peter. You inspired me. You helped me on. You kept me at it when my
courage failed. When I wanted to slack you came and worked with me. It
was your idea from the first.

Mar. My idea but your deed.

Peter (_sitting centre, behind table_). I've had dreams of this.
Dreams of success. I never thought it would come. It was there on the
horizon--a far-off nebulous dream.

Mar. (_standing right_). It's a reality to-day.

Peter. Yes. It's a reality to day. I've done the task you set me. I've
proved my class as good as theirs. That's what you wanted, wasn't it?

Mar. I wanted you to win, Peter.

Peter. I've won because you wanted it, because after I won I knew that
you---- (_Rising._) Has it been wearisome to wait, Margaret? I had the
work, lectures, study. You had the tedious clays of teaching idiotic
middle-class facts to idiotic middle-class children, and evenings when
you ought to have had me and didn't because I couldn't lose a single
precious moment's chance of study.

Mar. That's clean forgotten. To-night is worth it all.

Peter. To-night, and the future, Margaret.

Mar. (_solemnly_). Yes, the future, Peter.

Peter. This night was always in my dreams. The night when I should come
to you and say, Margaret Shawcross, this have I done for you, because
you wanted it. Was it well done, Margaret?

Mar. Nobly done.

Peter. And the labourer is worthy of his hire? I ask for my reward.

Mar. (_shaking her head_). I can give you no reward that's big enough.

Peter. You can give the greatest prize on earth. We ought to have been
married long ago. I've kept you waiting.

Mar. That had to be. They won't have married women teachers at the
Midlandton High School. I couldn't burden you until this fight was

Peter. And now, Margaret?

Mar. Now I'm ready--if----

Peter. More if's?

Mar. A very little one. If you've money to keep us three. No going short
for mother.

Peter. You trust me, don't you?

Mar. (_giving hand_). Yes, Peter, I trust you.

Peter (_bursting with thoughts_). There's my journalism. This degree
_'_ull give me a lift at that. I shall get lecture engagements too.

Mar. (_alarmed_). Peter, you didn't do it for that!

Peter. I did it for you. But I mean to enjoy the fruits of all this
work. Public speaking's always been a joy to me. You don't know the
glorious sensation of holding a crowd in the hollow of your hand,
mastering it, doing what you like with it.

Mar. (_sadly_). I hoped you'd given up speaking.

Peter. I haven't spoken lately because I'd other things to do. I haven't
given it up.

Mar. You did too much before.

Peter. You don't know the fascination of the thing.

Mar. (_bracing herself for a tussle_). I know the fascination's fatal. I
saw it growing on you--this desire to speak, to be the master of a mob.
I hoped I'd cured you of it.

Peter. Cured me?

Mar. I thought I'd given you a higher aim.

Peter. And _that_ was why you urged this study on me?

Mar. Yes.

Peter. Margaret! Why? (_Backing from, her, and sitting centre during her

Mar. I've seen men ruined by this itch to speak. You know them. Men we
had great hopes of in the movement. Men we thought would be real leaders
of the people. And they spoke, and spoke, and soon said all they had to
say, became mere windbags trading on a reputation till people tired and
turned to some new orator. Don't be one of these, Peter. You've solider
grit than they. The itch to speak is like the itch to drink, except that
it's cheaper to talk yourself tipsy.

Peter. You ask a great thing of me, Margaret.

Mar. (_sitting right_) What shall I see of you if you're out speaking
every night? You pitied me just now because you had to close your door
against me while you studied. I could bear that for the time. But this
other thing, married and widowed at once, with you out at your work all
day and away night after night----

Peter. But I shan't always be working in the daytime.

Mar. (_alarmed_). Not work! Peter--they haven't dismissed you?

Peter. Oh, no. I'm safe if anyone is safe. No one is, of course, but I'm
as safe as man can be. I'm a first-elass workman.

Mar. I know that, dear.

Peter. So do they. They'll not sack me. I might sack them some day.

Mar. But--how shall we live?

Peter (_impatiently_). Oh, not yet. I'm speaking of the future. Don't
you see? I'm not content to be a workman all my life. I ought to make
a living easily by writing and--and speaking if you'll let me. Then I
could be with you all day long.

Mar. (_looking straight in front of her_). Have I set fire to this

Peter. You don't suppose a B.A. means to stick to manual labour all his
life, do you?

Mar. Oh, dear! This wasn't my idea at all. I wanted you to win your
degree for the honour of the thing, to show them what a working engineer
could do. Cease to be a workman and you confess another, worse motive.
It's as though you only passed to make a profit for yourself.

Peter. I can't help being ambitious. I wasn't till you set me on.

Mar. If you listened to me then, listen to me now.

Peter (_pushing his chair hack and rising_). I might have a career.
(_Crossing to fireplace._)

Mar (_still sitting_). And I might have a husband. I don't want to marry
a career, Peter.

Peter (_looking into fire, his back to Margaret_). I've already got a
local reputation as a speaker.

Mar. Then make one as a writer. I know you can.

Peter. The other's easier.

Mar. It's not like you to choose the easy path.

Peter. I've worked so hard. I did think that now I might have some

Mar. You've won your degree.

Peter (_acquiescent_). Oh, yes.

Mar. And--I'm ready, Peter. (_Slight pause._)

Peter (_turning_). Yes. You've conquered me. I'll fight ambition down.
It shall be as you wish, Margaret.

Mar. (_rising and going to him_). Peter, oh, my dear, dear Peter! You
make me feel I don't do right. Oh, but I know. I know. Speaking's so
deadly dangerous.

Peter. I promise not to speak. I'll write. I'll stick to engineering,
and we'll have our evenings.

Mar. You make me very happy, Peter.

Peter. When are you going to make me happy, Margaret?

Mar. As soon as my lord pleases.

Peter. Your lord will be pleased in a month.

[_Mrs. Garside enters, centre._

Well, little mother, have you disseminated the intelligence?

[_Margaret sits on rocking-chair._

Mrs. G. (_uncomprehendingly_). No. I've been telling folks about you.
(_She takes off bonnet and cape and hangs them on door right._) Some of
_'_em's green with jealousy this night. They know I'm the mother of a
great man now.

Peter. So you were first, after all?

Mrs. G. I meant being first. Who'd the better right to be? Me or a wild
Irishman? (_Crossing to dresser and emptying on a plate the contents of
a parcel she had brought in._)

Peter (_smiling_). And you've been killing the fatted calf for me?

Mrs. G. (_literally_). Oh, did you want pressed veal? I've got ham.

Peter. I don't want veal. Food's not a bad idea, though.

Mrs. G. (_looking at Margaret_). No. Margaret might have thought of that
and put the kettle on if she'd had her wits about her.

Mar. (_rising_). I'm sorry, Mrs. Garside. We've been talking.

Mrs. G. You'd some excuse. Peter's given us something to talk about.

Mar. Let me help now.

Peter. We'll all help. I'll lay the table.

Mrs. G. You don't stir a finger, my lad. Sit you down.

[_Peter sits with amused resignation in rocking-chair._

Peter. Oh! Why?

Mrs. G. B.A.s don't lay tables. Now, Margaret. (_Mrs. Garside takes
white cloth from drawer in table and she and Margaret spread it. There
is a knock at the door. Peter gets up. Mrs. Garside pushes him back into
his chair_). I've told you to sit still. (_She crosses to door centre
and opens it._)

O'Cal. (_visible in doorway_). May we come in, Mrs. Garside?

Mrs. G. (_genially_). Yes. Come in, the lot of you.

[_The three who enter are working men in their evening clothes. Denis
O'Callagan is 35, clean shaven, an enthusiastic impractical Irishman,
small and dark. Karl Marx Jones is 30, wears a formally trimmed beard,
is precise in utterance, doctrinaire in outlook, and practical in
procedure. Ned Applegarth is a man of 50, his age carrying sober
authority, very earnest in manner, grizzled moustache, grey hair, black
cut-away coat and turn-down collar, a responsible leader deferred to
willingly by O'Callagan, ungraciously by Jones. Ned, entering last,
closes the door. Each, as he speaks, shakes Peter's hand._

O'Cal. (_visible in doorway_). Aye. Let us come in, for it's a great
night surely, and we fair bursting with the glory of the thing that's
done this day.

Jones. Comrade Garside, I offer my congratulations.

Ned. Well done, youngster. (_Turning to Mrs. Garside._) Mrs. Garside,
you've a son to be proud of.

Mrs. G. Do you think I don't know it?

Peter (_his demeanour unfeignedly modest_). Comrades, Mr. Applegarth,
it's nothing. I tried my best, but if I hadn't been so lucky in my

Jones (_interrupting_). You've passed. The others were lucky, lucky in
being men of leisure, sons of wealthy parents with nothing to do but
study. Don't talk about your luck--(_bitterly_)--the luck of a wage
slave. It's like winning a foot race with your ankles chained together.

O'Cal. It's the mighty brain of him that made him win.

Peter. Comrades, don't give me praise. It wasn't I. Something not myself
got hold of me and urged me on. Injustice! Tyranny! The consciousness of
class. The knowledge that in the eyes of my well-to-do competitors I was
an inferior animal. My hands are rough with toil, the toil they batten
on, and so they mocked at me for daring to compete with them--a man with
a trade. They know now what a working man can do with his brain. They
laughed on the wrong side of their fat faces, when the list came out

O'Cal. Bravo!

Jones (_sceptically_). Are they all such cads? I thought there were
Socialists among them.

Peter. Middle-class, kid-glove Socialists, Fabians.

Ned (_dryly_). You're a fine talker, lad.

O'Cal. (_to Ned_). And a brave doer, Mr. Applegarth.

Ned. Well, well, a good start's half the battle, and I'm not denying
that a ready tongue's a useful gift.

Mar. It's a dangerous one, Mr. Applegarth.

Jones. Aye, when it's by itself. Not when it's backed up by a knowledge
of the principles of Karl Marx and used to expose fearlessly the gross
fallacies of the capitalist professors of economics.

Ned (_impatiently_). Let's get to business. (_Jones is resentful._) Mrs.
Garside's making supper, and we don't want to keep her waiting.

Mrs. G. That's all one. Food _'_ull be nobbut a fraud. We're too excited
to eat this night. Sit you down.

Ned. Thank you, Mrs. Garside.

[_Mrs. Garside puts Ned in chair, centre. Peter and Margaret bring the
chairs right down stage, putting one right, near table, the other left,
Jones sits right. O'Callagan at table left, Peter on chair he brings
left of O'Callagan, and Mrs. Garside presently takes rocking-chair.
Margaret stands l.c. well away from the rest, as if trying to efface
herself, after going off left and returning without her hat in a

(_Sitting._) Peter, I've said it before, and I say it again. You've made
a good start, lad.

Peter. Thank you, Mr. Applegarth.

Ned. A good start. And now, what comes next?

Peter (_going left, and meeting Margaret as she reenters_). Next? This
next, Mr. Applegarth. (_Taking her hand._)

Ned (_nodding_). So. I mind I'd heard. Well, marriage is a proper state.
(_Jones shows signs of irritation._) And you're a lucky chap to have
Miss Shawcross for a bride. I don't say anything against marriage.

Jones (_hotly_). Well, I do. Now and always. In a free state

O'Cal. (_leaning across towards Jones, Peter and Margaret still standing
behind near left door_). And have we got our free state yet? Let you
wait to be talking of freedom and free-loving men and women till we've
had our glorious revolution, and in the dawning of that day----

Jones (_leaping up, interrupting_). There must be pioneers. Some of _us_
must set the example. (_Appealing to Peter and Margaret._) Even at
the price of martyrdom, of ostracism by coarse-minded oafs who cannot
understand, I call on you, Miss Shawcross, to dispense with the worn-out
form of marriage. Be free lovers----

Ned. Comrade Jones, you're a married man yourself

(_Jones sits dozen abruptly, silenced_), and we're here on business. And
after you're married, Peter?

Jones (_murmuring disgustedly_). Married!

Peter (_lightly_). Oh, live happily ever afterwards. My horizon doesn't
go beyond that.

Ned. Doesn't it? Well, listen to me. There'll be a by-election here

Peter. Why? (_Peter leaves Margaret and comes forward to chair right of

Ned. Ramsden's resigning South-west Midlandton.

Jones. About time the old hypocrite did, too.

Peter. This is news to me.

Ned. I know that. It was news to us last night. The question is, do we
run a candidate this time?

Peter. We ought to. It's a labour seat by rights.

Jones. If only the thick-headed fools would sec their own interests.

Peter (_turning_). Margaret, you'll have to give me back my word.
(_Slight pause._)

Jones. What word's that?

Peter. I've promised to give up public speaking. (_They look at Margaret
in disgusted protest. She speaks quickly._)

Mar. Oh, you shall speak if there's an election.

Ned. That's right. All hands to the pump.

Mar. I'll speak myself.

O'Cal. It's a risky thing for you. Miss Shaweross.

Mar. The cause comes first.

O'Cal. Before bread and butter? You'll lose your job if they hear of it.

Mar. I must hope they won't hear.

Ned. You're going too fast. There's two things in the way. One's money.
The other's a man.

Peter. Surely the Central people have a good man ready to fight.

Ned. No. We've got to find the man, before they help us with money.
They're a bit down on our chances unless we find a strong local man. A
local man should pull it off where an outsider might fail. Problem is to
find him.

O'Cal. Faith, and we've found him.

Peter. Yourself, Mr. Applegarth?

Ned. I'm the wrong side of fifty, and I'm no speaker. Guess again.

Peter. It's got to be a local man?

Jones. That's essential.

Peter. I can't think of anyone who's big enough for that job.

Jones. Nor we couldn't neither. We gave it up last night and called
another meeting at the Club to-night. And there we sat, the whole
executive, no better than a parcel of tongue-tied fools, when O'Callagan
bursts in and tells us----

Ned. Yes, Peter Garside, b.a., there's you.

[_Margaret shrinks back still further._

Mrs. G. (_going round to him_). Peter! My son a Member of Parliament!

Peter (_repulsing her_). No, no, I'm not worthy.

Ned. We're the best judges of that.

Peter (_firmly_). I'm too young. I'd be the youngest man in the Labour

Jones. Someone's got to be that. They need young blood. There's too much
antideluvian trades unionism about the old gang.

O'Cal. It's a queer thing you do be saying, and you without a grey hair
to your head. It's a queer thing to hear a young man making moan beeause
he's young.

Mrs. G. (_appealingly_). Peter!

Peter. But I'm---- (_Hesitating and looking from one to the other._)

Ned. What?

Peter. I don't know. I never thought of this.

Jones. Think of it now. We've to act sharp if we're to do any good at

Peter (_still wondering_). And you've come officially to offer it to me?

Jones (_roughly_). Of course we have. Do you think we're playing with
the thing?

Peter. It's--it's awfully sudden. When do you want my answer?

Ned. Now. (_Seeing Peter's distress, more kindly._) To-night, anyhow.
The whole thing _'_ull be over in six weeks. We've little enough time in
all conscience to create an organization.

Peter. And if I say--no?

O'Cal. Then one of the murdering blood-suckers that live upon our labour
_'_ull get the seat, and it won't matter either way which side wins, for
it's all one to the working man.

Jones. It's you or nobody.

Ned (_appealing_). Lad, you'll not say no. I don't say you'll never
get another chance, beeause B.A.s are sort of scarce in the Amalgamated
Society of Engineers. But I do say this. We want you. You've got a call
to a high place and a high duty. Are you going to fail us in our need?

O'Cal. We want you for another nail in the coffin of capitalism, another
link in the golden chain that's dragging us up from slavery the way
we'll be free men the day that chain's complete.

Peter (_smiling_). And I'd be a nine-carat link, Denis. I'm made of
baser stuff than the great leaders who compose that chain. I'm not
worthy to aspire to a seat by their side in Parliament.

Jones. There's such a vice as over-modesty.

Ned. Nay, I like you better for being modest. You'd like us to go out
and eome back in an hour or so.

Mrs. G. Say yes to them, Peter. Tell them you'll be a Member of

Peter. Members of Parliament need electing first, mother.

O'Cal. And are you doubting that you'll be elected? You've only to say
you'll stand, and you can practise putting M.P. after your name this
night, for you'll have need to write it certainly.

Peter (_going to Margaret_). Margaret, what shall I say?

Jones. You must decide this for yourself.

Mar. (_coming forward a little reluctantly_). Yes, Peter. You must
decide. No one can help you there.

Peter. Won't you tell me what you think?

Mar. (_firmly_). Not now. No other mind than yours can make this choice.

Peter (_adrift_). But, Margaret, you've always given me advice.

Mrs. G. (_jealously_). She wants to hold you back. She's never had the
faith in you that others have. She'd like to tell you now you're not
good enough for Parliament only there's too many here to give her the

Peter. Mother, mother!

Mrs. G. Oh, yes, I dare say, put Margaret first, Margaret who doesn't
believe in you, in front of all the rest of us who know Parliament's not
good enough for you. It's the House of Lords you should be in.

Peter. I hope not so bad as that, mother.

O'Cal. We'll be taking a stroll round the houses, and come in again

Peter (_turning to them_). No. Don't go. I'll give you my answer now.
I've decided.

Ned. Well. What is it?

Peter. I'll stand.

Ned. (_shaking his hand_). Good lad!

O'Cal. It's destroyed I am with joy, and me after thinking he wasn't
going to stand at all. You'll be elected surely, and we the nearer by
another step to that great glittering dawn that's coming to bring peace
and happiness to----

Jones. Don't gabble, Denis. We've to work to organize for victory. I'm
going to the Club to beat up recruits.

Ned. We're all coming, Karl. We're not going into this with our hands in
our pockets.

Peter (_making for his cap_). Yes.

Ned (_stopping him_). Not you, Peter. You've earned a rest to-night. You
begin to-morrow.

Peter. Rest! I shan't rest till after the election.

Jones. You've to keep your strength for the street corners. We'll do
the donkey work. Clerking's all some of us are fit for. (_Glancing at
O'Callagan._) You can draft your election address if you want something
to do.

Ned. You'll want every ounce of strength. Ramsden's done us a good turn
by resigning in the summer time. They can have every hall in the town
and welcome. But open-air speaking night after night--well, look to your
lungs. We'll watch the rest.

Peter. I'm in your hands.

Ned. That's right. Take it easy now. You'll have to sprint at the
finish. Now, comrades. (_Opening door, centre._)

O'Cal. Good night, all.

Jones. Good night.

[_Peter holds door open and sees them go, he, Margaret, and Mrs. Garside
chorussing "Good night," then he closes the door, and leans against it
as if dazed, passing his hand across his forehead._

Peter. My God! It's like a dream. I can't get used to it.

Mrs. G. You'll get used to it fast enough. It's always an easy thing
to take your natural state in life. You were born to be great.
(_Viciously._) However much some folk _'_ud like to keep you down.

Peter. Yes. I suppose I shall settle to it. (_Coming to chair right and
sitting, Mrs. Garside is to his left, Margaret his right._) In a few
days it _'_ull seem matter of fact enough to be Labour candidate for the
division. But it hasn't got me that way yet. Margaret, when you set
me on to study for my B.A., you little thought it was going to lead to

Mar. (_slowly_). No. I didn't think it would lead to this.

Mrs. G. (_sharply_). And you're not well pleased it has. Some people
can't stand the sight of other folk's success.

Peter (_protesting_). Mother, mother, without Margaret this would never
have happened to me. I owe it all to her.

Mrs. G. (_sceptically_). Because she told you to study? It's a proper
easy job to tell someone else to do a thing. A fine lot easier than
doing it yourself.

Peter. Come, mother, I can't have you quarrelling with Margaret.

Mrs. G. (_sulkily_). What does she want to go and discourage you for?

Peter. She didn't discourage me.

Mrs. G. She wouldn't say a word for it.

Peter. She will now. Won't you, Margaret?

Mar. What do you want me to say?

Peter (_surprised_). Say what you want.

Mar. Then I say this: Go on and prosper.

Peter (_relieved_). Ah! You couldn't wish me anything but well. You see,

Mrs. G. (_grimly_). Yes, but you don't.

Peter. Don't what?

Mrs. G. You don't sec what she means.

Peter (_confidently smiling at Margaret_). Oh, Margaret means what she

Mrs. G. And more. She doesn't want you to go into Parliament.

Peter (_puzzled, looking at Margaret_). Doesn't what------? (_Slightly
pausing._) Speak, Margaret.

Mar. No. I don't want you to go into Parliament.

Mrs. G. (_triumphantly_). What did I tell you?

Peter. But Margaret, why not? Don't you see what a chance it is?
Take it, and I go up, up, Fortune, Fame, anything--the prospects are
tremendous. Miss it, and I sink baek to obscurity. You can't want me to
miss a chance like that.

Mar. I wanted to be married to you.

Mrs. G. That's it, Peter. That's your Margaret all over. All she cares
about is herself.

Peter (_ignoring her--to Margaret_). Nothing's going to interfere with
that. Nothing on earth. You needn't fear. We're to be married in a
month. Exactly as we fixed just now. A month? It'll come in the thick of
the fight.

Mar. We can't be married while the election's on.

Peter (_thinking aloud, enthusiastically_). Oh, but we must. We must.
I hadn't thought of that. Weddings are always popular. See what an
advertisement it will be.

Mar. (_quietly_). We won't use our love to advertise your candidature,

Mrs. G. To hear you talk, it might be something you're ashamed of.

Peter. It's throwing away a golden opportunity.

Mar. I'm sorry, Peter. But I can't do that.

Mrs. G. Won't, you mean. You want to see him defeated.

Mar. (_with quiet force_). I shall work till I drop to help him on to

Mrs. G. You'll help best by doing what he asks.

Peter. I really think you might, Margaret. It's not a new plan. I'm only
asking you to carry out the arrangement you made this very evening. You
didn't object then, I can't see what your scruple is now.

Mar. If you can't see for yourself that it's vulgar and hideous and
horrible to drag our love into the glare of an election, I'm afraid I
can't help you to see it.

Peter. I don't see it. Love's not a hole-and-corner business. Why
shouldn't everybody know?

Mar. All who matter know already.

Peter. Only our own circle.

Mar. It doesn't concern the rest.

Peter (_arguing hotly_). Except as an advertisement. We shan't have too
much money to spend on printers' bills. We ean't buy hoardings like the
capitalist parties. And here's a glorious advertisement simply going
begging. We can have it at the cost of your forgetting some imaginary
scruple of delicacy. Elections aren't delicate affairs.

Mar. No. But our love is.

Mrs. G. If your love's so finicky it can't stand daylight, it's not
worth much. A love like that _'_ull not last long.

Peter. You're right there, mother.

Mrs. G. (_eagerly_). She wants to hold you back, she'd like to see you
tied to engineering all your life. For why? She's wild because you're
going up in the world. She knows she's not fit to go up with you, so
she's trying to keep you where you are. That's why she refuses to help.

Mar. I don't refuse to help. I'm going to help.

Peter. Yes, anything except the only way that's helpful. I don't want
other help.

Mar. You can't go without it. You can't stop me working for the cause.

Mrs. G. Yes, and you'd work harder for any other candidate than Peter. I
know you.

Mar. Not harder, but certainly with a better will.

Peter (_soberly_). Margaret, you're standing in my way. Oh, I owe a
lot to you. I don't forget it. But... But a man has to rely on his own
judgment. If I took your advice, I'd wreck my career. You've always
underrated me. You thought I wouldn't get my degree. I did get my
degree. And I'll prove you wrong again. I'll be M.P. before six weeks
are out.

Mar. I say again: Go on and prosper.

Mrs. G. And she means you can prosper without her, and a good riddance
too, I say.

Peter. Do you mean that, Margaret?

Mar. I think we'll wait a little, Peter. You've other things to think of

Peter. You said that when I started studying.

Mar. I say it again now when you're starting electioneering.

Peter (_losing temper_). And after that there'll be something else
and something after that, and so on, till Doomsday _'_ull see us still
unmarried. I begin to think you never mean to marry me.

Mrs. G. It's about time you did begin to think it, too.

Mar. (_suffering_). Oh, Peter, why won't you understand?

Peter. Because you're not reasonable. (_Slight pause._) Tell me this. Do
you think I'm not fit for Parliament?

Mar. (_painfully_). Yes, dear. I do.

Peter (_roughly_). Don't call me dear. If that's the way you talk,
you're not dear to me.

Mrs. G. I've seen it for long enough--her thinking meanly of you and the
rest of us knowing different, and you for ever hearkening to her as if
she was Almighty God.

Mar. (_facing Mrs. Garside_). I won't stand this.

Mrs. G. You've got to. You're shown up now.

Peter. This means you've no faith in me, Margaret. And if you've no
faith, you've no love----

Mar. (_despairingly_). Peter, you mustn't say such things.

Mrs. G. You can't get away from the truth, my girl.

Peter. I say them beeause they're true. It's for you to prove me wrong.

Mar. How? Tell me how?

Peter. Marry me in the month as we arranged, and I'll go down on my
knees and ask your pardon.

Mar. I can't marry you in a month.

Peter. Then it's true. You don't love me. You don't believe in me.

Mar. I--I think I'll go home.

[_Exit Margaret right, returning quickly with her hat, which she puts
on. Peter watches her go and meets her as she returns._

Peter (_appealingly_). Margaret!

Mar. No, Peter. I can't do it.

Peter (_acquiescing_). Then--good-bye.

Mar. I shall see you often at the Committee Rooms. Don't tell me I
mustn't work for you.

Peter. If it was only for myself I wouldn't have your help at any
price. But, as you told us, you'll not be work-for me but for the cause.
(_Grandiloquently._) In the name of the cause I accept your help.

Mar. (_simply_). Thank you, Peter. I shall work hard. Good night, Mrs.

[_Mrs. Garside makes no sign. Peter moves towards Margaret, checks
himself, and she goes out._

Mrs. G. That's a good job done.

Peter. Don't talk about it, mother, please.

Mrs. G. You can look higher than a school marm now you're going into

Peter (_distressed_). Please, please!

Mrs. G. (_cheerfully_). Oh, well, we'll have supper and chance it.

Peter. Have yours. I only want this end of the table. (_Collecting
paper, ink, and pen and sitting at right end of table._) I must do
something to forget.

Mrs. G. What are you doing?

Peter. Drafting my address. Hand me down that dictionary, will you?
(_Indicating hanging shelf._)

Mrs. G. (_getting large dictionary from shelf and putting on table near
him._) You don't want a dictionary. It's all there in that brain of

Peter. A dictionary's useful. People like to read long words. It looks
erudite, and costs nothing.

Mrs. G. They'll never understand dictionary words, Peter. (_Poking

Peter. That doesn't matter. They'll be impressed. (_Dipping pen and
bending._) Don't disturb me while I write.



_Ornate drawing-room in Sir Jasper Mottram's house. Centre is a large
window giving access to a balcony. It is, however, evening, and the
drawn curtains conceal the balcony. Door left. Light wall colouring
and carpet. Fireplace right. No fire. Chesterfield right centre. Light
arm-chairs left and left centre. Japanese screen before fireplace. Large
Japanese jar in left corner._

_Gladys Mottram is sitting on the Chesterfield reading a novel. She is
in evening dress, a pretty, flirtatious, empty-headed girl, bored with
her daily life and seizing eagerly on any distraction. Freddie Mottram,
her brother, is 30, and conceals real kindness behind his flippant
manner. He doesn't go deep and he likes money, but he is on good
terms with the world and doesn't mind a little trouble or even
unconventionality to put the world on good terms with him. He is fair,
with fair moustache, and his figure is that of the ex-athlete who could
still give a good account of himself. He leans back in the arm-chair,
yawning and consulting his watch, glancing at Gladys, entrenched behind
her book, again yawning and making up his mind to address her._


Fred, (_nursing a grievance_). I say, Gladys, how much longer do you
expect me to wait?

Glad. (_looking up from her book, calmly_). Till Mr. Garside goes.

Fred. And he hasn't come yet. Just when I particularly want to go out,
too. It's all very well for the governor to be civil to him. He's got
to. But I do bar doing the honours myself to a horny-handed son of toil.

Glad. (_putting her book beside her, face downwards. With an air of
resignation_). You don't particularly want to go out. You're only going
to the Club.

Fred. (_seriously_). But I particularly want to go to the Club.

Glad. You go every night.

Fred. Every night isn't my lucky night. Thursday is. I always win on
Thursdays. The governor ought to do his own dirty work. He's Mayor, not
I. Cutting his duty, I call it, being away to-night just when I'm bound
to make money.

Glad. He'll be here when he's ready. He's going to be late on purpose.

Fred. Very much on purpose. Yes. There you've got it. He had Rankin and
Beverley here to dinner together. Quite right, too. Rankin's a Radical
rotter, but he's a gentleman. When it comes to Garside the governor
shirks and leaves it to us. Why on earth he wants to ask a Labour
candidate here at all simply floors me.

Glad. He has to treat them all alike.

Fred. Then he should have had Garside to dinner, and given us some sport
over the asparagus.

Glad. That wasn't necessary.

Fred. And this isn't necessary. Rankin and Beverley, by all means.
They're probables. But why waste time on an outsider like Garside? It'll
only swell his head to be our guest.

Glad. He isn't an outsider.

Fred. You don't say the governor's taking him seriously.

Glad. He's taking him very seriously.

Fred (_horrified_). Oh, I say. No. It's absurd.

Glad. Garside's making headway fast. He's a fine speaker, and he's

Fred. A mechanic a fine speaker! Rot! Who says so?

Glad. I for one. I've heard him.

Fred. You have! It's a quaint taste.

Glad. More than once.

Fred. (_sarcastically_). Making a hobby of it? (_Seriously._) Where?

Glad. In the street.

Fred, (_genuinely shocked_). You've been listening to a tub-thumper at
street corners? I say, hang it, Gladys, there are things people don't

Glad. The first time was an accident.

Fred. The second was a crime.

Glad, (_rising, and speaking enthusiastically_). I went again because I
admired the man. I liked to hear that ringing voice, to be one of that
wild enthusiastic crowd bewitched by the spell of his personality. He
saw me too. I stood at the back of the crowd, but he saw me and he spoke
for me for me. Our eyes met, and I know he spoke for me alone.

Fred, (_sitting and leaning back, fanning his face_). Why didn't you
warn me? I didn't know I was to meet my future brother-in-law to-night.

Glad. Don't be absurd, Freddie. (_Sitting again._) It's because he's
doing so well that father asked him here, and we've to keep him as long
as possible.

Fred, (_looking at watch_). My ducats, oh, my ducats! Why?

Glad. Because every moment that he's prevented from speaking is a loss
to him and a gain to us. As Mayor, father's supposed to be neutral, at
the election, so that gives him an excuse to entertain Garside and spoil
his speaking for one night, anyhow.

Fred. That's a bit tricky.

Glad. All's fair in war.

Fred. And love, Gladys, and love.

Glad. Don't be sillier than you can help.

Fred. Besides, they'll have others to keep the ball rolling while he's

Glad. There's a firebrand of a woman speaking every night who's about as
popular as he is.

Fred, (_interested_). A woman? Is she good-looking?

Glad. I don't know.

Fred. You wouldn't. You'd only eyes for him.

Glad. She doesn't speak on the same platforms with him.

Fred. Don't blame her, either. Only one star turn to each show, eh?

Glad. Anyhow, father's instructions are to keep Garside here till he
comes home, if we can.

Fred. All right. Tell Timson to lock him up in the pantry and keep him
there till the election's over.

Glad. Afraid that's too crude, Freddie. I'll do my best to hold him for

Fred. Oh? Be careful. Flirtation's a risky game even when both sides
know the rules. It's always apt to end in marriage; and that chap won't
know the rules. Much better lock him up.

Glad. Kidnapping's out of date.

Fred. Oh, you want him to get in. He's fascinated you.

Glad, (_tartly_). That's doubtless why I've been canvassing for Mr.
Beverley all day, while you've been watching a cricket match.

Fred. Hang it, Glad, someone's got to support-county cricket. I did a
jolly plucky thing to-day. Wore old Beverley's colours and nearly got
mobbed in the bar by a beastly gang of Radicals.

Glad. You shouldn't go into bars.

Fred. And you shouldn't hang about street corners with a set of
Socialists. Serve you right if you'd got your pocket picked. I'd rather
be an open drinker than a secret revolutionist any day.

[_Enter Lady Mottram. She is white-haired and authoritative in manner,
dressed in a high evening gown, too freely jewelled. Freddie rises._

Fred. Hullo, mater. Any luck?

Lady M. If you mean by that expression has Mr. Garside arrived, he has
not. (_Crosses to Chesterfield._)

Fred. (_looking at watch_). Well, he may be an upright youth, but
punctuality isn't amongst his virtues.

Lady M. (_standing by Chesterfield_). It's just as well. I have a
disagreeable duty to perform. (_Sitting, very dignified._)

Fred, (_lightly_). Hope it'll keep fine for you.

Lady M. Ring the bell, Freddie. (_Freddie crosses to fireplace and
rings._) Thank you.

Fred. By Jove, Gladys, someone's going to catch it. Mark that
awe-inspiring frown. I'm getting frit.

[_Enter Timson._

Lady M. Show the young person in here, Timson.

Timson. Yes, my lady.

[_Exit Timson. Freddie is following with exaggerated fear._

Lady M. Don't go, Freddie.

Fred. Oh, but I do hate thunderstorms when I've no umbrella.

Lady M. I want to be certain you're here when Mr. Garside comes.

Fred. Mayn't a man have a cigarette? I'll come back. (_Timson opens door
as Freddie comes to it. Looking off Freddie sees Margaret, and stops
short._) By Jove, I'll stay.

Timson (_with marked disapproval_). Miss Shawcross.

[_Enter Margaret dressed as Act I, with the addition of a light coat,
without gloves. Lady M. and Gladys remain seated. Fred, stands right,
well behind the Chesterfield. Margaret stands left, in some confusion.
Exit Timson._

Mar. You... I understand you want to see me, Lady Mottram.

Lady M. (_immensely superior_). Yes. Your name is Shawcross? Margaret

Mar. Yes.

Lady M. Fifteen, Rosalie Street?

Mar. Yes.

Lady M. Ah! (_With patronising kindliness._) I've sent for you, Miss
Shawcross, to give you a warning--a friendly warning. Er--you may sit

Mar. (_sitting stiffly, but not awkwardly, left_). Thank you.

Lady M. You are an assistant-teacher at the Midland-ton Girls' High

Mar. I am.

Lady M. You're aware that I am a member of the Governing Board?

Mar. Yes.

Lady M. (_expansively_). In fact, I may say I have a preponderating
influence. Bear that fact in mind, Miss Shaweross. (_Margaret inclines
her head._) We don't enquire offensively into the conduct of our staff
out of school hours. So long as they behave themselves respectably we
are satisfied. Does your experience confirm that?

Mar. Quite.

Lady M. You've suffered no inquisition into your private life? No
interference into your personal affairs?

Mar. None.

Lady M. (_nodding grimly_). Ah! Then you'll do us the justice to
acknowledge that we don't move except in extreme cases. I regret to say
yours is an extreme ease, Miss Shaweross.

Mar. (_rising_). Mine!

[_Freddie's attitude conveys interest plus pity, Gladys's unrelieved

Lady M. (_severely_). Yours. I don't complain of your holding heterodox
views. It is a regrettable fact that many young women of to-day hold
alarmingly lax opinions. But they keep their views to themselves. They
confine them to their own circle. It has been left to you to proclaim
publicly at street corners your loose morality, to----

Mar. You'll pardon me. I've done nothing of the sort.

Lady M. I'm grievously misinformed if you're not a self-confessed

Mar. You spoke of loose morality.

Lady M. (_curtly_). Same thing. Do you admit to publicly advocating

Mar. Certainly. You publicly advocate Tariff Reform. Why shouldn't I
advocate Socialism?

Lady M. The cases are hardly parallel. The one is respectable, the other
isn't. However, you're not here to argue with me. You have to earn your
living. An orphan, I understand.

Mar. Yes.

Lady M. You've the more reason to walk warily. (_Kindly._) Now, you're
young, and you're ignorant, and I'm ready to overlook this. I could have
you dismissed at once, but I've no doubt you'll be a good girl after
this little talk. Good night, Miss Shawcross.

Mar. Good night, Lady Mottram. (_She moves towards door. Freddie opens
it, she turns back._) No, I won't go like this. You'd have the right
to tell me I deceived you. (_Freddie closes door and stands centre._)
I can't take your warning, Lady Mottram. (_Lady M. rises._) I dare say
it's kindly meant. I thank you for that. But as for stopping speaking,
working heart and soul for the cause that's all in all to me, I can't do

Lady M. Can't? Won't, you mean. This is defiance, Miss Shawcross. You'd
better take care.

Mar. (_splendidly contemptuous_). Care! Life isn't all taking care.

Lady M. (_calmly_). It's really very rash of you. Your livelihood's at
stake. I say nothing about your immortal soul, which is endangered if
it's not already lost.

Mar. Suppose you leave my soul out, Lady Mottram.

My employment _is_ in your hands. You have the power to take that from

Lady M. Persist in your defiance and I shall be compelled to exercise
that power.

Fred, (_to Mar._). Speaking from long and intimate acquaintance with my
mother, I should just like to interpolate the remark that she invariably
means what she says.

Mar. (_coldly_). Thank you. I haven't worked for Socialism without
knowing the risks I took. There's nothing unusual in this. Since
Socialism's been the bogey of the employing class, dismissal for
Socialists is an everyday occurrence.

Lady M. (_mildly angered_). This is too much. To associate _me_ with
cowardly employers who abuse their power, when my only object is to
secure respectability in our teaching staff.

Mar. Oh, they all do it for excellent motives. How long have I, Lady

Lady M. Till Miss Allinson can replace you.

Mar. Till then I can go on contaminating my pupils! However, to replace
me won't take an hour. Unemployed teachers aren't scarce.

Lady M. (_viciously_). You are dismissed for gross misconduct, and the
fact will be stated on any reference you ask for.

Fred. I say, mater, that's a bit rough. (_Margaret turns to door.
Freddie stands intercepting her._) Give the girl a chance.

Lady M. Mind your own business, Freddie.

Fred. Hang it, how do you know she won't starve?

Lady M. Her sort don't starve.

Glad. She's wearing an engagement ring. Someone's ready to keep her.

Mar. (_quietly_). My engagement's broken off.

Lady M. Then why do you carry a lie on your finger?

Mar. I hadn't the courage to take it off--till now. (_Putting ring in

Fred. You're in a bit of a hole, you know.

Lady M. Gladys, if Freddie's going to be sympathetic to this young
person, you and I had better retire. Conversations between young men and
persons of her class are not carried on in the presence of ladies.

[_Lady M. and Gladys go out, Freddie opening door. Margaret is
following. He closes the door._

Fred. One moment, Miss Shaweross.

Mar. Let me go, please.

Fred. Yes. I say. I know I'm being assinine. I am rather an ass. But I'm
a genial sort of ass, and if there's one thing I ean't stand it's one
woman being beastly to another. Women are the limit. (_Rapidly, as
Margaret shows impatience._) What I mean is, can I do anything for you?

Mar. (_curtly_). No, thank you, Mr. Mottram. (_Trying to pass him._)

Fred, (_with a stronger note of seriousness_). No, you're not going till
I let you. The mater's made it hard enough. That's the worst of women.
They won't be sportsmen. Mind you, I'm not blaming her. Swop positions
and you'd do it yourself. But you've lost your job. That's an idiotic
thing to do now. As if any footling politics were worth a tinker's cuss!

Mar. Why are you keeping me here?

Fred. I'm telling you, aren't I?

Mar. It wasn't very lucid.

Fred. What are you going to do for a living?

Mar. That isn't your business, Mr. Mottram.

Fred, (_seriously_). Look here, I'm not a woman eater. I'm a cheerful
soul, and I hate to see people in distress. The mater's got you down.
Foul blow, too. Hitting below the belt, to sack you without a character.
What are you going to do about it, Miss Shaweross?

Mar. I don't know yet.

Fred. Let me talk to some Johnnie at the Club, and make him take you
into his office.

Mar. Why should you? And do you think anybody will have me without a

Fred. I'll fix that all right. Only it'll be an office.

Mar. I can typewrite.

Fred. By Jove! What a brainy chap you are.

Mar. I don't know why you're doing this, but I'll work my fingers to the
bone if you can get me work where they'll not mind my principles.

Fred. You can be a Particular Baptist, or a Neo-Confucian for all this
Johnnie _'_ull care.

Mar. Are you sure he's the same man in his office as in his Club?

Fred. Oh, don't wet blanket me. I'm only trying.

Mar. I'm sorry, Mr. Mottram. Your friend will find me a hard worker.

Fred. I say, you won't overdo that part of it, will you?

Mar. What part?

Fred. The working. Bad form to make the pace hotter than the regular

Mar. I thought offices were places for hard work.

Fred. I dare say you're right. I expect that's why the office men I know
spend so much time at the Club, out of work's way.

Mar. Mr. Mottram, why are you doing this?

Fred. Oh, I'm a starved creature. Being good keeps me warm.

[_Enter Timson._

Timson. Mr. Garside.

[_Peter enters. He has gained considerably in self-confidence, and enters
rather defiantly. Exit Timson._

Fred, (_stepping forward_). Good evening, Mr. Garside.

Peter (_seeing Margaret, and seeing red. Ignoring Fred._). You here!

Mar. Lady Mottram sent for me.

Peter. It's a very suspicious circumstance. I find you here in the
enemy's camp, looking confused, guilty. You'd better explain yourself.

Fred, (_offering hand again, emphatically_). Good evening, Mr. Garside.
Why's it the enemy's camp, when mayors are neutral at elections?

Peter (_carelessly, just touching his hand_). Oh, good evening. Sir
Jasper is officially neutral, sir. But he is actually chairman of the
Employers' Federation, and, as such, our bitterest enemy.

Feed. By the way, you're here yourself, you know.

Peter. I am paying an official visit to the Mayor. It's different
with this lady. She works for me--ostentatiously. She's supposed to be
addressing a meeting for me at this moment. Instead, I find her here,
playing the traitor and betraying me to my political enemies.

Fred. I always thought it wanted a lot of imagination to be a
politician. Does yours often bolt like this?

Peter. That's not very convincing. (_Brushing him aside._) Excuse me,
Mr. Mottram. I must get to the bottom of this. (_To Margaret._) What
have you to say for yourself?

Mar. Nothing.

Fred. Quite right, too. Some things are too silly to reply to.

Peter. Then I shall draw my own conclusions.

[_Peter is left, Freddie centre, and Margaret right._

Fred. I'd advise you to draw _'_em mild. (_Turning to Margaret._) This
isn't your lucky night, Miss Shaw-cross.

Mar. It doesn't matter, Mr. Mottram.

Fred. Yes, it does. If you won't tell Mr. Garside why you're here, I

Mar. (_appealingly_). Please don't. (_Proudly._) My personal affairs are
no concern of Mr. Garside's.

Peter. And meantime let me tell you, sir, that your ardour to defend the
lady only makes bad worse.

Fred. Good Lord! I always said politicians were people who hadn't the
brains to be frivolous, but I never knew they were quite so stupid. Why,

[_Enter Lady Mottram and Gladys. Fred stops abruptly._

Lady M. (_sweetly_). So pleased you've come, Mr. Gar-side.

Peter (_quite sure of himself_). Good evening, Lady Mottram.

Lady M. Mr. Garside, my daughter. (_Gladys meets Peter's eyes and bows;
he starts perceptibly._) So sorry Sir Jasper isn't here to welcome you,
but I hope my son's made you feel quite at home.

Fred. We've talked like brothers.

Lady M. (_realising Margaret's presence_). Miss Shaw-eross, I think I
told you you could go. Will you ring, Freddie?

Fred. I'll sec Miss Shaweross out.

[_Lady Mottram shrugs, and turns virtuously away. Fred, opens door, and
Margaret moves to it._

Peter (_as she goes past_). Where are you going?

Mar. I'm going to speak. I'm advertised to speak.

Peter. For me?

Mar. (_frigidly_). No, Socialism.

Lady M. (_turning_). Then you will take the consequences.

Mar. (_quietly_). Oh, yes. I'll take the consequences.

[_Exeunt Margaret and Freddie._

Lady M. (_sitting on Chesterfield and motioning Peter to sit by her.
Gladys sits opposite_). Young men are so susceptible to a pretty face.
Don't you think so, Mr. Garside? (_Quickly._) Oh, but of course you are

Peter (_glancing at Gladys_). I'm not beauty-proof, Lady Mottram.

Lady M. Ah, but real beauty is so rare.

Peter. That's why it haunts me.

Lady M. Is there a case in point?

Peter. Yes.

Lady M. (_insincerely_). How romantic! Do tell us about it, Mr. Garside.

Peter (_eyeing Gladys_). Shall I?

Glad. Do please.

Peter. It is romantic, Lady Mottram. I didn't think such beauty could be
earthly. It came upon me just as I stood speaking at a street corner one
night, a face on the outskirts of my audience. I was tired and it gave
me strength. My voice was failing, but it rang out fresh again to reach
those ears. I've seen it many times since then, that angel's face with
a halo, always at the fringe of the crowd, always an inspiration, eyes
that yearned to mine across the sea of caps and drew my very soul into
my words. I thought it was a dream. Could the same clay that moulded me
be shaped to this vision? Until to-night I didn't know such women could

Lady M. (_trying to appear interested_). It's a woman, then.

Peter. Woman or goddess, she's alive. Yes.

Lady M. She'd be flattered if she heard you now.

Peter. I'm not flattering her.

[_Re-enter Freddie._

Fred. I've seen her off the premises.

Lady M. Don't interrupt. Mr. Garside's telling us about a woman with a
wonderful face who's been inspiring his speeches.

Fred, (_sitting r.c._). Oh, yes? A face that launched a thousand
speeches? Bit of a responsibility for any face.

Lady M. And who is she, Mr. Garside?

Peter. I didn't know.

Glad. What a pity. She'll never know what she's been to you.

Peter. I think she knows now, Miss Mottram.

Fred. Fair Unknown inspires your speeches, your speeches inspire
electors, electors elect you, and it'll be Garsidc, M.P., when it ought
to be Fair Unknown, M.P.

Peter. Only the electors haven't elected me yet.

Fred. I hear they're going to.

Peter (_confidently_). It's highly probable.

Lady M. Do you know London, Mr. Garside?

Peter. No, but I hope to shortly.

Fred. You must let me show you round. You'll feel strange at first.

Peter. I'm not afraid of London. If it's a case of London conquering me
or me conquering London I know which will win.

Fred. Going to be one of our conquerors, eh?

Peter. I mean to try. I've got ambitions.

Fred. Thank God, I haven't. A cosy club and a decent cigar are good
enough for me. Please count me conquered in advance. (_Lolling easily in

Lady M. But has a Labour member such opportunities of--er--conquering
London, Mr. Garside?

Peter. If he puts them to the right use. Yes--there's money in it.

Fred, (_sitting up, interested_). Money? I'll be a Labour member. I like

Peter. I don't say it's been done up to now. I'm going to do it, though.

Fred. What's the recipe?

Peter. Oh, you begin by journalism and lecture engagements.

Fred. And that's the royal road to wealth? Mother, why wasn't I brought
up to be a Labour member! This solves the problem of what shall we do
with our sons. Only it's too like work for me.

Glad. Freddie, don't chaff Mr. Garside. He isn't one of your frivolous
Club companions.

Peter. Oh, I haven't been through the half of an election campaign
without toughening my epidermis, Miss Mottram. I'm not afraid of

Fred. You'll go far, Mr. Garside. The secret of success is to have no
sense of humour.

Glad. A lot you know about success.

Fred. I know everything. I'm not successful and outsiders watch the

Lady M. Children! Children!

Peter. Oh, don't apologise, Lady Mottram. I know what family life is in
upper-class households. I've read my Shaw.

[_To their relief Timson enters._

Lady M. What is it, Timson?

Timson. Sir Jasper is asking for you on the telephone.

Lady M. Excuse me, Mr. Garside. (_Rising._)

Timson. And there's a man called for you, sir. (_To Peter._)

Peter. For me?

Glad. You go, Freddie. Tell him Mr. Garside wants to be left alone.

Fred, (_nodding with understanding to Gladys_). All right. I'll deal
with him. Don't disturb yourself, Mr. Garside.

[_Lady Mottram goes out first, Fred, follows quickly to give Peter no
chance to reply. Exit Timson._

Peter. I ought to go, Miss Mottram. I've meetings to address.

Glad. Oh, but you mustn't disappoint Sir Jasper. He'll be in soon.

Peter. My time's precious.

Glad. So are you--(_hastily_)--to your party, I mean. You'll break down
if you overdo things.

Peter (_consulting watch_). My conscience isn't easy.

Glad, (_coldly_). Oh, don't let me detain you against your will.

Peter. It's not against my will, only----

Glad. Then won't you sit down?

Peter (_deciding to stay, and sitting on Chesterfield_).

Thank you. (_Stiffly._) Some day I hope to have the pleasure of asking
you to sit in a room of mine like this one.

Glad. You aim high, Mr. Garside.

Peter. I mean to succeed. I feel I'm one of the men who do succeed. (_He
doesn't boast, he states a conviction._)

Glad. (_insincerely_). I'm sure you are.

Peter (_ardently_). If you're sure, there's no doubt about it. I'm going
to rise, Miss Mottram. I shall win fame, fortune---- Everything the
heart of woman can desire will be mine to fling at the feet of my... my
inspiration of the Midlandton election.

Glad. Ah. Your mysterious vision!

Peter (_leaning forward_). Is she a mystery to you? I thought you knew.

Glad. Knew what?

Peter. You see that inspiration every morning in your looking-glass.

Glad, (_rising_). Mr. Garside!

Peter. I thought you understood. (_He rises._)

Glad. I understand you're being impertinent.

Peter (_confidently_). That's because you're thinking of my past. Peter
Garside, the Board School boy, the working engineer with a home in a
back street--a great gulf yawned between that Garside of the past and
the daughter of Sir Jasper Mottram, four times Mayor of Midlandton.
The gulf is narrower to-day. In a year or two it won't exist. I'm
not impertinent, Miss Mottram. I'm being bold enough to look into the
future... the future you've inspired.

Glad. I ought to scold you, Mr. Garside.

Peter. Why?

Glad, (_lightly_). You appropriated me as your inspiration without

Peter. Didn't my eyes tell you across the crowd?

Glad. Your eyes?

Peter (_emphatically_). Yes, mine spoke and yours answered mine, not
once but half a dozen times.

Glad, (_freezing_). I'm afraid you're subject to delusions, Mr. Garside.

Peter. You're afraid to tell the truth.

Glad, (_fencing_). Truth's so miscellaneous, don't you think? It's a
diamond with many facets.

Peter. I'm not here to bandy epigrams. Truth is truth. You're afraid to
own by mouth the truth you told me with your eyes.

Glad. Don't you think you overrate the communicative capacity of eyes?

Peter. I think you're playing with me now. I know you didn't play then.
We had reality there in the street. I'll make you tell me yet you meant
the things your eyes spoke to me.

Glad. Make! This is strange language for a drawing-room, sir.

Peter. I'm not talking to the drawing-room miss. She's a stranger to me.
I'm talking to the real woman, the woman I knew outside there, stripped
of the veil of lies you try to hide behind.

Glad. But you don't know me. I never met you till to-night.

Peter. I didn't know your name until to-night. What do names matter?
Your eyes had blazed into my soul.

[_The door opens violently, and Jones, wearing his hat, bursts in
followed by Freddie, who is mildly protestant. Peter and Gladys rise._

Jones (_crossing to centre_). What's the meaning of this, Garside?

Fred (_following and tapping him on the bach_). I say, don't you even
take your hat off in a lady's presence?

Jones (_growlingly_). Ugh! (_But he takes his hat off._)

Peter. How dare you force your way in here?

Jones. I may well come. You're wanted outside.

Meetings shouting themselves hoarse for you. Chances passing while you
loll here in plutocratic luxury, idling in the gilded chambers of our
enemies. Faugh! (_Kicking chair violently centre. Freddie picks up the
cushion from it and offers it._)

Fred. That's rather an expensive chair. Take it out of this if you must
kick something.

Peter. I am paying an official call authorised by my Committee on Sir
Jasper Mottram.

Jones. I don't sec Sir Jasper.

Fred. I told this Johnnie you were busy. Tried to soothe the beggar, but
he broke away.

Jones (_to Peter_). Well, you'd better come at once.

[_Peter wavers visibly when Gladys interposes._

Glad. Mr. Garside is our guest.

Jones (_more roughly still_). Come away.

Peter (_his mind made up_). I shall do nothing of the sort.

Jones. Don't you understand? It's imperative. They're calling for you.
We've done our best, marking time, promising them every minute you'd
come--and you don't come. It's serious. They're impatient. They don't
want us others. They want you--(_sarcastically_)--silver-tongued
Garside. We can't hold them much longer. There'll be a riot if you don't
turn up.

Peter (_lightly_). Oh, I'll come soon. Let them wait.

Jones. They won't wait.

Peter. They'll have to.

Jones (_imperatively_). You're coming now with me.

Peter. No. I'll follow you. (_Reassuringly._) It's all right, man. I
shan't be long.

Jones. I'll report you to the Committee if you don't come at once.

Peter. You can report me to the devil. Get along now, that's a good
chap. I'm busy.

Jones (_very earnestly_). Garside, I warn you. You know what a crowd's
like when it gets out of hand.

Peter. I tell you I'm coming. The longer you stay the longer it'll be
before I get there.

Jones (_making his best effort and meaning it_). If you don't come with
me you'll have no need to get there. I shall bring them here to you.

Fred. Oh, but you can't do that you know.

Jones. Can't I? You tell him to come or I'll show you if I can't.

Peter (_impatiently_). In a minute.

Jones (_inexorably_). Now!

Peter. No.

Jones (_turning abruptly_). Very well, then.

[_Exit Jones, slamming door. Fred, opens it after a moment._

Fred. I don't think the furniture's safe until he's out of the house.

[_Exit Freddie._

Glad. (_excited and utterly sincere_). It must be glorious to be wanted
like that, Mr. Garside. Isn't it risky to deny them when they call for

Peter. I can do what I like with them.

Glad. Why didn't you go?

Peter. You know why not.

Glad. (_sitting on Chesterfield_). Do I?

Peter (_standing centre_). Every night I can make myself the master of a
mob. It's no new joy to me to feel I've got them there in the hollow of
my hand. I can't speak with you every night. That's why I didn't go.

Glad. But is it wise?

Peter. Wise?

Glad. You mustn't spoil your chances, Mr. Garside.

Peter. I won't spoil my chances of speaking with you.

Glad. But if the crowd makes a disturbance? That man's malicious. He'll
stir them up to mischief.

Peter. I can calm them with a word.

Glad. What confidence you have!

Peter. Yes. In the power you give me.

Glad. You don't let me shuffle off responsibility.

Peter. You wouldn't want to if you could forget that you're Miss Mottram
and I'm a working man.

[_Low murmurs as of a distant crowd off, approaching and growing louder
as the scene proceeds. Gladys catches it at once, and is alarmed. Peter,
if he hears at all, is inattentive._

Glad. I really think you'd better go to them, Mr. Garside, before that
man leads them here.

Peter. Not long ago you were urging me to stay--to wait for Sir Jasper.

Glad. Sir Jasper will be late.

Peter. You said he'd be here soon.

Glad, (_rising, exasperated_). Mr. Garside, will you go?

Peter (_shaking his head_). You haven't told me what I want to know.

Glad. What is it? I'll tell you anything if you'll only go-go.

Peter (_calmly_). Did I read the meaning in your eyes aright? (_A slight
pause._) Did I?

Glad, (_nervously glancing towards window_). I don't know what you mean.

Peter. You do know. You won't tell me.

Glad. I can't.

Peter (_sitting centre_). Then I'll stay here till you do.

Glad. And hold me responsible if your ragamuffins wreck the house.

Peter. You've only to speak, and I'll see they don't come near.

[_A moment's silence, then Freddie enters briskly._

Fred. I say, Mr. Garside, I'm afraid we must turn you out.

Peter (_still sitting_). Oh, how's that?

Fred. Your friend went off in no end of a rage. Said he'd bring your
meeting here. Mohammed and the Mountain, don't you know? I really think
you'd better go. We don't want to read the Riot Act.

[_Gladys is at the window, peeping through blind._

Peter. The matter's out of my hands, Mr. Mottram.

Fred. Why? Surely you can head them off.

Peter. Easily.

Fred. (_irritated_). Well, I wish you'd go and do it.

Glad, (_at window_). They're there. There's a crowd coming round the
corner now.

Fred. You'll have to look lively. Come on, man. (_Trying to make him

Peter (_to Gladys, who is standing left_). Well, Miss Mottram?

Fred, (_impatiently_). Oh, never mind her. Get along sharp. (_He opens

Peter. I'm ready when Miss Mottram gives the word. I shall know what she
means if she says "Yes."

Glad. I can't.

Peter (_sitting in chair_). Then I stay here.

[_Shouts below are heard: "Garside!" "We want Garside!" "Where's that

Fred. Look here, this is getting beyond a joke.

Peter. I'm only waiting for the word of command.

Fred. Gladys, for God's sake say what he wants!

Glad. No.

[_Shouts more fiercely._

Fred, (_helplessly irritable_). Where the devil are the police?

[_Lady Mottram rushes in hysterically._

Lady M. Mr. Garside, save us. Speak to them before they get violent.

Peter (_coolly_). They're doing the speaking. (_Lady M. cries out
inarticulately._) I'm waiting for Miss Mottram.

Lady M. For Gladys? (_Top pane of the window is broken by a stone which
falls between blind and window. Almost shrieking._) What's that?

Peter. The voice of the people.

Fred. They've a nasty way of talking. This looks serious. (_Crosses,
picks up and quickly pockets the stone, which is a large one._)

Lady M. Is it a big one?

Fred. (_nonchalantly_). Size of a piece of wood.

Glad. Very well, then. Yes.

Peter (_rising briskly_). That's what I wanted. (_Crosses as if to open
door, comes round to window, runs blind up, and steps out to balcony._)

Glad, (_as he is at window_). I didn't mean it.

Peter. You said it. (_He goes out, speaking as if to a crowd below._)
Comrades, I'm here. (_Cheers off._) From the house of our Mayor, on whom
I am calling as the people's candidate at this election----

[_Fred, crosses and closes window. Faint murmur only is audible off._

Fred. I can't stand this. He's spouting Socialism from our balcony.
(_Angrily._) This is your fault, Gladys.

Glad. I was told to keep him here.

[_Lady Mottram has collapsed on the Chesterfield._

Fred. Not with a mob howling for him outside.

Glad. I didn't bring the mob.

Lady M. What will Sir Jasper say?

Fred, (_recovering his temper_). He'll not be fit to listen to. We're
the laughing-stock of Midlandton. This _'_ull win Garside the election.
He's using the balcony of the Chairman of the Employers' Federation for
his platform, and we've let him do it.

Glad. We tried to trick him and he's turned the tables on us. That's

Fred. Clever beast. (_Laughter off._)

Lady M. Listen to the cheering!

Fred. Oh, he's popular, only that's not cheering. It's laughter.

Lady M. What are they laughing at?

Fred. At us, _ma petite mère_, at us.

Lady M. (_standing, with extreme dignity_). They wouldn't dare!

[_Loud burst of laughter._



_Peter's rooms in the Temple. Door extreme right centre, with the
passage beyond visible with telephone on its wall when the door is open.
Door left. Fireplace centre, with low fire shining dully in the darkened
room. Bookcase right. Below it, table with inkstand. Blue books, etc.,
and revolving chair. Arm-chairs, left and right of fireplace. Sofa
left, between fireplace and door. Heavy carpet. The whole appointments
indicate comfort and taste, as understood in Tottenham Court Road: there
is nothing individual about them._

_As the curtain rises the room is in darkness, except for the glow from
the fire, and the telephone bell right is ringing. After a moment's
pause the outside door opens; then Peter in a lounge suit, overcoat,
and bowler hat opens the door right and turns on the electric light. He
speaks as he looks off right. His self-confidence has increased. He is,
in fact, coarsened and even brazen at times._


Peter. Come in here. (_Freddie and Gladys follow him in. Peter stands
by door._) Make yourselves at home for two minutes. That's my telephone
ringing like mad.

[_Exit Peter hurriedly, closing the door. Bell ceases ringing. Gladys is
in winter costume with furs. Freddie, in heavy overcoat with hat in hand
and a cane which he swings as he stands centre, surveying the room in

Fred. By Jove! By Jove!

Glad. (_standing off_). What's the matter?

Fred. Does himself all right.

Glad. What did you expect?

Fred. I didn't expect this.

Glad. Was that why you didn't want to come in?

Fred. I didn't want to come because I've to meet Charlie Beversham at
the hotel in half an hour.

Glad. Well, you can meet him.

Fred. Not if we stay here long.

Glad. You needn't stay here.

Fred. Oh? And what about you?

Glad. I'll stay.

Fred. Hang it, you can't do that.

Glad. No. You'd rather I wasted another evening sitting with the frumps
in the hotel drawing-room while you discuss odds with your sporting
friend in the bar till it's too late to go anywhere. I'm having no more
nights in a refrigerator, thank you.

Fred. It's not the thing to leave you here. You'll only be in Garside's
way. He'll be going to the House.

Glad. Then he'll leave me at the hotel as he goes.

Fred. You know the mater only let you loose in London because I promised
to look after you. (_Good-naturedly perplexed._) You're a ghastly
responsibility. Why on earth do you want to stay with Garside?

Glad. Garside's amusing and the hotel isn't.

Fred. I simply must sec Beversham. It means money to me.

Glad. Don't let me stand in your way.

Fred, (_giving way_). Well, I do like to be generous. It's the only
thing that keeps my blood at normal temperature----

Peter (_off right, at telephone_). I shall shout. You may be the whip,
but you'll not whip me. Important division? I know that as well as you
do. No, I shan't be there. Promised? Of course I promised. I started to
come. How did I know I was going to be indisposed in the Strand?

Fred, (_whistling_). Whew! I wouldn't mind betting you're the
indisposition, Gladys.

Peter (_off_). Yes. I'm far too ill to turn out. What? No, I'm not too
ill to shout. Good night. (_Opens door and enters without his hat and
overcoat._) Oh, do sit down, Miss Mottram. So sorry I'd to leave you.
(_Pulls left armchair before fire and pokes it._) I'll make the fire up.
It's a cold night. (_Gladys sits._)

Fred. Comfortable enough in here, Garside. You've snug quarters.

Peter (_failing to conceal his pride in his room_). It's a beginning.
(_Rising from fire._) One moment. (_Goes off left quickly, and is heard
as he exits, saying:_) Mother, you let that fire go low.

Mrs. G. (_off left_). I thought you'd gone out.

Fred. Oh, if he's got a mother on the premises that alters the case. I
don't mind your staying now.

[_Peter re-enters with Mrs. Garside in a neat black dress, spectacles
on, and a "Daily Telegraph" in her hand. Mrs. Garside, though sharing
Peter's prosperity, has now an habitually worried look and is vaguely
pathetic. She enters embarrassed._

Peter (_off-handedly, treating his mother without ceremony_). Mr.
Mottram, Miss Mottram--my mother.

[_Freddie bows. Gladys advances and takes hands._

Glad. How do you do, Mrs. Garside?

Mrs. G. Nicely, thank you, miss.

Peter (_peremptorily_). Why didn't you hear the telephone, mother? Were
you asleep?

Mrs. G. (_meekly_). Did it ring? I was reading the report of your speech
at Battersea last night.

Peter (_interested_). Oh! Where is it? I haven't had time to look at a
paper to-day.

Mrs. G. (_handing him the paper and pointing_). There, dear.

Peter (_looking and speaking with satisfaction_). Two columns. Good.
That's pretty near verbatim.

Fred. Two columns in the "Telegraph"? You're getting on, Garside.

Mrs. G. (_handing the paper from Peter to Fred._). And look at the

Fred. (_looking--awkwardly_). Er--yes--not very complimentary.

Glad, (_curiously_). What are they?

Fred. (_returning paper to Peter_). Tact never was my sister's strong
point, Garside.

Peter (_holding up the paper_). Oh, I don't mind this in the least.
It means my blows are getting home. (_Reading the headings._) "The
Demagogue again." "More Firebrand Oratory from the egregious Garside."
(_Putting paper on table._) Spreading themselves, aren't they?

Fred. Well, it's all right, so long as you don't mind.

Peter. Oh, they'll need a big vocabulary to express their feelings
before I'm done with them. I haven't started yet.

Fred. Hope it'll keep fine for you. Afraid I must toddle, Garside. I've
an appointment.

Peter (_his face falling in deep disappointment_). Appointment! Oh,
I did hope you'd both stay a bit. In fact, I--I put off an engagement
while I was at the telephone.

Fred, (_looking at Gladys_). Well--er--I might come back for my sister.

Peter (_enthusiastically_). Splendid! Have something before you go?

Fred (_surprised_). Eh?

Peter (_taking his arm_). Just to keep the cold out. Next room.

Fred, (_turning with him_). I'd an idea you were a teetotaller.

Peter. I was a lot of things in Midlandton. In London I'm a man of the

[_Exeunt Freddie and Peter, l._

Glad, (_sitting on sofa_). You must find London a great change after
Midlandton, Mrs. Garside.

Mrs. G. (_sitting in left arm-chair, facing her--confidentially_). I
haven't had an easy hour since Peter brought me. You wouldn't believe
the prices they charge me in the shops if I want a chop or a bit of
steak for Peter's tea. Dinner he calls it now, though how it can be
dinner at seven of an evening I don't know. Thieves, that's what they
are. Not shopkeepers. You mustn't mind me running on, I haven't a soul
I know to talk to here. It's a pleasure to see you, I'm sure. And the
streets! I'm feared for my life if I go out. I know I'll be knocked down
and brought home dead. Eh, London's an awful place, but it's Peter's
home now, and his home's mine.

Glad. But you'll get used to it.

Mus. G. I doubt I'll never get used to this. I'm too old to change, and
Peter moves so fast. What's fit for him one day isn't good enough the
next. The waste's enough to frighten you.

Glad. You must be very proud of your son, Mrs. Garside.

Mrs. G. (_with conviction, dropping her querulous tone_). He's something
to be proud of. I'm the mother of a great man. You can't open a
newspaper without you see his name.

Glad. I know that.

Mrs. G. You've seen it?

Glad. Often.

Mus. G. (_rising and coming to table_). But not all. I've got them all
here. I cut them out, reports of his speeches, and paste them in this
book. (_Crosses to sofa with press-cutting book and sits by Gladys._)

Glad. His speeches in Parliament?

Mrs. G. (_with fine scorn_). Peter doesn't waste his words on
Parliament. He goes direct to the people--addressing meetings up and
down the country. (_Glowing with pride._) They fight to get him. Pity is
he can't split himself in bits and be in six places at once. Two guineas
a speech he gets--and expenses,--more sometimes. That's what they think
of him, Miss Mottram. That's my son. (_Pointing to a heading in the
hook._) Silver-tongued Garside. That's what they call him.

Glad. Yes, I see. (_She turns a page._)

Mrs. G. (_looking, bending round Gladys_). Oh, no, not that. I oughtn't
to have pasted that in. It's an attack on him in one of our own papers.
They call him something he didn't like.

Glad, (_reading_). Platitudinous Peter.

Mrs. G. It's all their spite.

Glad. I suppose all politicians make enemies.

Mrs. G. Oh, he's not afraid of his real enemies. The capitalists can
call him what they like. They do, too, and the more the better, Peter
says. But that's different. Mean things, attacking their own side.

Glad, (_absently_). Yes. (_Putting book down._) And this is where he
prepares his speeches. (_Crossing to table._)

Mrs. G. (_rising with book and crossing, replacing it on table_). Yes.
Those are his books.

[_Gladys looks at titles._

Glad. Why, this row's all dictionaries.

Mrs. G. Peter says people like long words. He writes his article at that
desk. Peter's printed in the paper every week.

Glad. He's kept busy.

Mrs. G. And he keeps me busy looking after him.

Glad, (_sitting in the revolving chair and facing Mrs. Garside, standing
centre_). Have you no help?

Mrs. G. Me? Nay. I couldn't abide the thought of a strange woman doing
_'_owt for Peter. I've cared for him all his life, and I'll go on caring
for him until he's put another woman in my place. Peter's wife won't be
of my class. It'll be my duty then to keep myself out of her sight, and
a hard job I'll find it, too, but I was never one to shirk.

Glad. Didn't I hear something about a girl in Midland-ton, who----

Mrs. G. (_with conviction_). Don't you believe it, miss. She wasn't fit
to clean his boots.

Glad. And of course he's all London to choose from now.

Mrs. G. London! He'll never wed a Londoner.

Glad. No?

Mrs. G. He's in love with a Midlandton young lady. Calls her his
inspiration and I don't know what. But I tell you this, miss, I don't
care who, she is, she'll be doing well for herself when she marries my

Glad. You think she will marry him, then?

Mrs. G. I'd like to see the woman who'd refuse him when he asks her.

[_Re-enter, left, Fred, and Peter. Fred, addressing Peter._

Fred. Yes. I'll come back. I say, Garside, before I go, congratters, and
all that sort of thing, you know.

Peter (_the pair have emerged very friendly_). Congratulations?

Fred. (_sweeping his hat round_). On all this.

Peter (_still puzzled_). This?

Fred. This jolly little place, and so on.

Peter. Oh, that's nothing. Part of the game, my boy.

Fred. It's a profitable game when you can run to this after six months
of it.

Peter. It doesn't afford it. Did you ever hear of the hire system? A man
who means to be a big success simply must have a decent address and be
on the telephone. People won't believe in you if you're content to hide
yourself up a mean street.

Fred. But you _are_ a big success, Mr. Garside.

Peter. Oh, I've not arrived yet. I'm ambitious.

Fred. I like your pluck. Give me a quiet life and a thousand a year paid
quarterly by the Bank of England. Security's my mark.

Peter. I'm betting on a certainty when I put money on myself.

Fred. I'm such a thrifty soul. I never risk more than 10 per cent of my
income on certainties. That reminds me. Beversham. I must fly. See you
later. (_Reaches door right._) About half an hour, Gladys.

[_Peter goes out with him, is heard closing outer door, and returns
immediately, closing door. Mrs. Gar-side yawns ostentatiously._

Glad. (_more with an air of saying something than meaning anything_).
Strange that we should meet in the Strand by accident, Mr. Garside.

Peter (_who has paid for the moment more attention to Mrs. Garside than
to Gladys, speaking jerkily_). You call it accident? I call it Fate.
(_Mrs. Garside executes another palpably diplomatic yawn._) You're
tired, mother.

Mrs. G. Yes.

Peter. I'm sure Miss Mottram will excuse you.

Mrs. G. Then I think I'll go to my bed. I'm an early bird. Good night,
Miss Mottram.

Glad, (_after a moment's twinge of conscience, accepting Mrs. Garside's
hand_). Good night, Mrs. Garside.

Mrs. G. (_to Peter, who opens right door_). I'll put your supper out.
You'll only have your cocoa to make.

[_Peter tries not to look angry at the intrusion of domestic details.
Exit Mrs. Garside. Peter closes the door and stands by it. Gladys is
still in the revolving chair with her back to the table._

Peter. Yes. Fate didn't mean us two to miss each other.

Glad, (_lightly_). Do you believe in Fate?

Peter. I believe in mine. I know I was born under a lucky star. I've a
genius for overcoming obstacles, no matter what they are, Miss Mottram.
I've the knack of getting what I want.

Glad. Don't you find continuous success monotonous?

Peter (_smiling_). They're such precious small successes. I'm on the
foothills yet, and I've set myself a lot of peaks to climb, but already
I'm in sight of the highest of them all. (_Looking at her hard._) Even
from where I stand now I can glimpse the Mount Everest of my ambition.

Glad. Happy man, to know what you want. Most of us poor creatures
haven't the faintest idea what we want to do with our lives.

Peter. I think better of you than that. You're not a bored society

Glad. Must one be in society to be bored? I am bored in Midlandton.

Peter (_with the quickly acquired London attitude to the provinces_).
Oh, Midlandton!

Glad. We don't live in Midlandton. No one does. Midlandton! It sends a
shiver up your baek like the tear of a sheet.

Peter. I couldn't go back now.

Glad. And I've given up hope of ever getting to London.

Peter. Do you want to very much? (_Draws towards right arm-chair, and
sits leaning forward towards her._)

Glad, (_with deep conviction_). I feel sometimes I'd do anything on
earth to live here. (_Smiling._) You see, I'd like to be a society
butterfly. You can't understand that, I suppose.

Peter. Why not?

Glad. I thought you despised luxury.

Peter. Oh dear no. I like good clothes and soft living.

Glad. But you denounce them.

Peter. What I denounce is luxury for the few and penury for the many. We
want to level up, not level down.

Glad. I've heard something like that before.

Peter. Probably. It's not my business to be original. If I tried to be
lofty I'd be talking above the heads of my audiences.

Glad, (_puzzled_). I wonder how much is sincere!

Peter. Sincere? I'm a professional advocate. I take a tiny grain of
truth, dress it up in a pompous parade of rhetoric and deliver it in the
manner of an oracle and the accent of a cheapjack. It's a question of
making my points tell. Sincerity doesn't matter.

Glad, (_rising_). If I turned myself into a human gramophone, I
shouldn't boast about it, Mr. Garside. It's not _very_ creditable to
live by fooling the public.

Peter (_rising_). Creditable? If I fooled them from Fleet Street they'd
make me a peer. The public likes to be fooled. They know I'm fooling
them. They pay me to go on fooling them. Some men live by selling
adulterated beer. I live by selling adulterated truth.

Glad. And neither makes an honest livelihood.

Peter. No, neither your father the brewer, nor I the demagogue. But I'm
being frank with you, Miss Mottram. Between us two there's not to be

Glad. Why am _I_ honoured with your confidences?

Peter. Because you have a right to know. I do these things to make
money. I want money because--because of the hope that was born in me
when your eyes first met mine across the crowd in Midlandton.

Glad, (_after a slight pause_). Mr. Garside, I--I think I ought to go.
My brother only left me because he thought your mother would be here.

Peter (_going towards door right_). Shall I bring her?

Glad. She's gone to bed.

Peter. I fancy I can find her if you tell me to.

Glad. I'm sure I ought.

Peter. I'm sure you always do what you ought, so----

(_Putting his hand to the door-handle._)

Glad. (_quickly_). Yes, I do--in Midlandton.

Peter (_turning quickly from door_). And this is London. You're on

Glad, (_checking him_). But not from my conscience, Mr. Garside.

Peter. Oh, conscience is so much a matter of climate. A Midlandton
conscience finds London air very relaxing.

Glad, (_sitting slowly right as before_). I don't think you ought to
disturb your mother, Mr. Garside.

Peter (_resuming his own chair, with conscious hypocrisy_). No. Old
people need such a lot of sleep. So that's settled. Let me see. I was
talking about myself, wasn't I?

Glad. Yes. You seem to find the subject interesting.

Peter. I'll talk about the weather if you prefer it.

Glad. No. You can stick to your text.

Peter. Thanks. But I wasn't talking about myself alone.

Glad, (_reflectively_). I don't remember the exception. It was all
yourself and the money you're going to make.

Peter. The money. Yes. I'm making money, Miss Mottram, and I'm going to
make more. Do you know why?

Glad. Money's always useful, I suppose.

Peter. Yes, even a little of it. But I shan't be satisfied with little.
And I'm a fairly frugal man.

Glad. You'll grow into a miser on the margin between your moderate wants
and your colossal income.

Peter. I might grow into a married man on that margin. It's to be a good
margin, because I believe no man should ask his wife to accept a lower
standard of living than she's been accustomed to.

Glad. I didn't know Miss Shawcross lived so well.

Peter (_rising, sternly_). It isn't a question of Miss Shaweross.

Glad. I thought it was.

Peter. So did I when I was a boy in Midlandton about a hundred years
ago. I'm wiser now. Women of her class can't adapt themselves to changed
circumstances. They're a drag on a man's career. You've seen Miss

Glad. Yes.

Peter. Well, you know the type. Good, plodding, conscientious,
provincial girl, with about as much ambition as a potato. Marry her to a
bank clerk and she'll be in her proper place. Picture her the wife of a
Cabinet Minister, and--well, no, you can't. It's unthinkable.

Glad. The wife of a what?

Peter (_imperviously_). A Cabinet Minister.

Glad. But you're not a Cabinet Minister.

Peter (_quite seriously_). No, I'm young yet. What a man of my stamp
wants is a wife who can help him to push his way, not one I'd be ashamed
to show in society.

Glad. I see. You're marrying into one of the big political families.

Peter. No. I'm showing you how you can be done with Midlandton and get
to London. You said you'd do anything for that.

Glad. I meant anything in reason. Shall we change the subject?

Peter. No.

Gladys (_rising, curtly_). Then I must go back to the hotel.

Peter. Your brother's coming for you. Meantime I ask you to remember the
difference between the Peter Garside of six months ago and the Garside
of to-day. I've bridged the gulf that lay between us. A man of genius
can do things like that. I meant what I said, Miss Mottram. I didn't say
it till you encouraged me.

Glad. I have not encouraged you.

Peter. You're here, you know. You let your brother go without you. You
let my mother leave us alone. Isn't that encouragement?

Glad. (_as cruelly as she can_). I stayed because I find you amusing.

Peter. Yes. I dare say I am amusing. People in deadly earnest usually

Glad, (_gently_). We'll forget what you said, Mr. Garside.

Peter. No, we won't. I can't ask you to marry me yet because I am not
rich. I'm merely prospering. But I ask you to wait. Give me a year--no,
six months. I can offer you a home in London then. It won't be worthy
of you, but we shan't stagnate. May I come to you in six months' time to
get your answer to the question I haven't yet the right to ask?

Glad. I don't know.

Peter. No. Rut I know six months of Midlandton are longer than six years
here. You badly want to live in London now. You'll want it worse then.
Don't think of me as I was. That's buried. Think of me as I am and as
I'm going to be. (_Electric bell rings right._) That's probably your

Glad (_half sorry, but on the whole relieved_). Yes. Don't keep him

Peter (_moving right, and stopping_). Before I open the door won't you
tell me what I want to know? It's all for you--all my ambitions. I only
want position for you to grace it, money for you to spend. Give me six
happy months of hope.

Glad, (_with a low laugh_). Will hoping make you happy?

Peter. Yes, if you tell me I may hope.

Glad (_sincerely_). Then by all means hope.

[_Bell rings again._

Peter. That's all I want. (_He looks at her humbly. She extends her hand
impulsively. Peter kisses it reverently._)

Glad. You're very absurd. Now let my brother in.

[_Peter crosses and opens door right, leaving it half open, as he goes
through and opens outside door._

Peter (_heard off right, in surprised voice_). Hullo!

Ned. (_off right, less loudly_). Good evening.

[_Peter appears outside door right, pulling it to him._

Peter (_off_). Leave your coats here. Excuse me. I'll--I'll just close
this door and keep the cold out till you're ready.

[_He enters rapidly, opening the door as little as possible, and closing
it quickly, putting his back to it. The manouvre is not, however,
executed fast enough to prevent Jones peering over his shoulder as he

Peter (_standing against the door_). It's not your brother.

Glad, (_dryly_). I gathered that. I'd better go without him.

Peter (_agitated_). You can't. That's the only way out. They'd see you.

Glad, (_surprised_). I don't mind.

Peter. They mustn't.

Glad. Why not? Who are they?

Peter. Constituents.

Glad, (_alarmed_). From Midlandton?

Peter. Yes. Let them get a glimpse of you, and God only knows what tale
will be over Midlandton.

Glad, (_agreeing_). Yes. They mus'n't see me. On no account. (_She
crosses to left, Peter nods approvingly._) Peter. My mother's there.
I'll get rid of them quickly. Glad. Remember, I'm trusting you.

[_Exit Gladys, left. Peter opens door right, and speaks off._

Peter. Ready, comrades? Come in. (_Ned and Jones enter, dressed much as
in Act I. Peter is genial._) How are you? Both well?

Jones (_as they shake hands_). Yes, thanks. (_With slight emphasis._)
Are you well?

Peter. Quite well, thanks. Never better in my life. (_Ned and Jones
exchange glances._) Sit down, comrades. It's good to see Midlandton
faces again.

[_Ned in arm-chair right, Jones left, Peter in revolving chair. Peter's
attitude at first is the mixture of obsequiousness and patronage of an
M.P. to influential supporters._

Ned. I suppose you don't see many people from the old town here?

Peter. You're the first I've seen since I came up.

Ned. Ah!

Peter. And what brings you to town? Pleasure, I suppose.

Jones. Well----

Peter. Yes, I know. London's a playground to you fellows. It's more like
a battlefield to your hard-worked member.

Jones (_firmly_). It's not exactly pleasure we're here for, Comrade

Peter. Oh?

Ned. More like business. We're a sort of a delegation.

Peter. Delegates, eh? What's on? I don't remember any congress at the

Jones. We're on a special mission.

Peter (_obviously forcing an appearance of interest_). Now, that's very
interesting. May I ask the object of this mission?

Jones (_grimly_). You're the object.

Peter. I?

Ned. Yes. We've a crow to pluck with you, my lad.

Peter (_not yet greatly concerned_). Oh? Something you want to discuss?

Jones. Something we're going to discuss.

Peter (_rising_). Well, suppose I meet you to-morrow morning. Come here
at--yes--at eleven, and I'll give you an hour with pleasure.

Ned (_shaking his head_). You'll give us an hour, or as long as we want,

Peter. Really, I'm afraid I can't. (_Involuntarily glancing left._) I'm
busy to-night. I'll see you to-morrow.

Jones. We shan't be here to-morrow. We've to go back by the midnight
train. We've our livings to earn.

Peter. Well, look here, eome back in an hour or so, and I'll see you

Jones (_commandingly_). You'll see us now. Your time's ours, we pay for

Peter. You haven't bought me, you know. You pay me to represent your
interests at Westminster.

Jones. Then why aren't you there representing them to-night?

Peter (_irritably_). I've told you I'm busy.

Jones. Busy with what?

Peter. Mind your own business.

Ned (_quietly_). It is our business. We've a right to know why you're
neglecting your duty.

Peter (_hotly_). I don't neglect my duty.

Ned. What's on at the House to-night?

Peter (_embarrassed_). Well----

Ned (_inexorably_). What's on?

Peter. The Right to Work Bill, I believe. (_Sitting again._)

Ned. Yes. The Right to Work Bill. The cornerstone of the Labour policy.
Any Labour member who's absent from to-night's division deserves
drumming out of the party as a traitor to its cause.

Peter. Oh, I'll be there for the division if you don't keep me here too

Ned. The division's over. You're out of your place on the most important
night of the session. You've missed your ehanee to speak. You've missed
the division. You've not paired. Your vote's lost.

Peter. It's not. The division can't take plaee so early.

Jones. We've been to the House. We thought we'd find you there. Why
weren't you there?

Peter. I've told you I was busy.

Ned. You told the Whip on the telephone you were ill--too ill to turn
out. We were there when he rang you up. We eome here, and we find you

Peter. I _am_ indisposed.

Jones. Indisposed!

Peter. I meant to go. I started out to go only I became ill on the way.

Jones. You told us when you shook hands you'd never been better.

Peter. Oh, I dare say. The usual figure of speech. I _am_ recovering.

Jones. No. You spoke the truth then. You're lying now.

Peter. Lying! This is too much. (_Rising._)

Jones (_rising_). You'll like it less before we've finished. We're not
in London losing a day's wages for our health. We've been called up to
decide what's to be done with you.

Peter (_angrily_). You'll decide what's to be done with me. You!

Jones (_firmly_). We have decided.

Ned (_still sitting_). They've been showing us your record at the Whip's
office. You ignore them. You go to the House when you think you will.
You refuse to submit to discipline.

Peter. I serve the cause in my own way. (_He is consciously on his
defence now._) It's a better way than listening to dry-as-dust debates
and tramping endless miles through the division lobbies. I'm getting
at the people. I'm carrying the fiery sword of revolutionary Socialism
through the length and breadth of the land. I'm the harbinger of the new
age. Wherever I go I leave behind me an awakened people, stirred from
their lethargy and indolent acceptance of things as they are, fired with
new hopes of the coming dispensation, eager to throw off the yoke and
strike their blow for freedom, justice, and the social revolution.
That's my work, comrades, not wasting my energy, my gift of oratory on
the canting hypocrites at Westminster, but keeping them fresh for
the honest man outside. I'm going to quarter England, town by town,

Ned (_rising, and putting his hand on Peter's arm, shaking his head_).
It won't do, Garsidc.

Jones. You needn't wag that silver tongue at us. You're found out.

Peter. Found out! You can't find out a man you're incapable of
understanding. You can't drive genius with a bearing rein. I'm a man of
genius, and you're angry because I can't be a cog in the parliamentary

Ned (_quietly_). Whatever you are, you're paid to be a cog.

Peter. If I'm to do my great work for the cause I must live somehow. The
labourer is worthy of his hire.

Jones. You're hired twice over. You get lecture fees when you ought to
be in the House. You make local secretaries compete for your lectures to
force your price up. You've got swelled head till you think you can do
as you like.

Peter. I won't be dictated to by you.

Ned. And yet we're your masters, you know.

Peter. It's my nature to be a free lance. Routine would kill me. I've to
work for the cause in my own way.

Ned. We don't want free lances. We want workers. If you want to speak to
the people aren't your week-ends and vacations good enough?

Peter. A hundred days to every week are not enough.

Ned. We sent you to Parliament to obey the Party Whips and be governed
by older and wiser heads than yours.

Peter. Nelson won battles by disobeying orders. If you didn't want
independence you shouldn't have chosen me.

Jones. We see that now. You'd ceased to be representative of the
Midlandton working classes before we chose you for our candidate. You
_were_ a B.A. You're still less able to represent us now when you make
as much in a month as your average constituent does in a year. We'll
have a better man next time.

Peter. Yes. You find an ignorant, dense average specimen of the British
workman without a soul above thirty shillings a week, and he'll just
about represent the ideas and ambitions of the Midlandton mob.

Jones. Yes, he'll represent us better than you.

Peter. Then God help representative government! You'd better be careful.
My personal popularity's your finest platform asset.

Ned. Well, it's an asset we can do without. Put it that you're too
brilliant for us.

Peter. Oh, it's the old story. Genius and the Philistine. For two pins
I'd resign my seat.

Ned (_gravely_). We accept your resignation.

Peter. What!

Jones. We come here to demand it.

Peter (_abject_). Comrades, you don't mean this! You wouldn't do a man
out of his job.

Jones (_curtly_). Oh, we're finding you a new job.

Peter. What's that?

Jones. The Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds.

Peter (_slight pause_). I won't resign. You've tried and judged me in my
absence. You haven't given me a chance to say a word in my own defence.

Ned. You can talk till you're blue in the face without shifting facts.

Peter (_growing increasingly hysterical_). The facts are that I'm a
Member of the House of Commons for the term of this Parliament, and you
can't force me to resign until I do it of my own free will. I'm still
M.P. for Midlandton, if I've to sleep on the Embankment. I'll go to
the House in rags. I'll be an M.P. still, M.P. for the outcast, the
despised, the rejected, the human derelicts, victims of jealousy and
injustice and all man's inhumanity to man.

Jones (_contemptuously_). You're the victim of nothing but your own
swelled head.

Peter. I'm the victim of my own great nature. A nature that's cast in
too large a mould to submit to pettifogging little rules. My life
was the people's. I demanded nothing in return but a free hand and no
interference. I've to do this mighty task in my own way.

Jones. Yes. The way you found most profitable.

Peter. I'm spending every penny I earn.

Jones. Yes. I'll believe you for once. This place proves that. We sent
you here to be our representative, not to be a bloody * gentleman. I
know what your indisposition was that kept you from the House tonight.
I saw its skirts when you opened the door. That's what we're paying for.
For you to--faugh, you sicken me.

     * This word must be omitted in representation. It was
     censored by the Lord Chamberlain about two months before it
     was passed in Mr. Shaw's "Pygmalion.'

Peter. You lie.

Jones. I don't. I saw her.

Peter (_deliberately_). There's no woman here except my mother.

Ned (_solemnly_). Is that the truth, Peter? I also thought I saw a skirt
that I'm sure your mother couldn't wear.

Peter. It's the truth. Upon my word of honour it's the truth.

Jones (_roughly_). I don't believe it.

Ned (_protesting_). We have his word, Karl.

Jones. The word of a convicted liar. He lied about his absence from the
House. He's lying now.

Peter (_with determination_). You'll take my word for it.

[_Door bell rings r._

Jones. Yes, if you'll let me see who's in that room.

Peter. My mother's there.

Jones. And no one else?

Peter. Nobody.

Jones. Then show us. Prove it.

Ned. He's said enough, Karl. He's passed his word.

Jones. I don't believe his word's worth that. (_Snapping fingers._) He's
lying for a woman. (_Bitterly._) It's the code of a gentleman to lie for
a woman.

[_Door bell rings again._

Peter. I can't help your disbelief.

Jones. No, but you can open that door. (_Indicating left._)

Peter (_his back to the door_). You'll take my word. (_Again the door
bell rings, and Mrs. Garside enters left. Peter turns round on her,
surprising her by his vehemence. Angrily._) What is it?

[_The door remains open._

Mrs. G. Someone's at the door. Didn't you hear the bell ring?

Peter. Let it ring. Don't you see I've visitors?

Ned (_coming forward like a friend_). Good evening, Mrs. Garside.

Mrs. G. (_unheeding, troubled with Peter_). But it'll be Mr. Mottram
eome baek for his sister.

Jones. What?

[_He crosses to look through the left door. Gladys enters, meeting
Jones' eye._

Glad. May I go through to my brother, Mr. Garside?

Jones (_falling back_). Miss Mottram!

[_Peter looks from one to the other like a caged animal._

Ned (_with genuine feeling_). Lad, lad, do you lie for the sake of

Jones (_triumphantly, his voice ringing_). I think there'll be no
dilliculty about that resignation now.

Peter (_after a slight pause, tensely_). On one condition.

Jones (_scornfully_). You're in a grand position for making conditions.

Peter. Keep your mouths shut about Miss Mottram's presence here, and I
place my resignation in the Speaker's hands to-morrow. (_Slight pause._)

Ned. I accept.

Jones (_disagreeing violently_). Well, I----

Ned. _You_ accept.

Jones. But------

Ned. You have our promise, Garside, and you can take my word.

[_Jones is silent and sullen._

Glad, (_vaguely_). What!

Peter (_hysterically_). You heard. I'm resigning my seat in the House
of Commons. Humpty-dumpty had a great fall. (_Jones laughs aloud,
Gladys smiles slightly, Peter almost screams._) Don't laugh. (_Suddenly
self-pitying._) I don't know what I'm saying. (_With a flicker of the
old pride._) But I was an M.P. once. You can't take that from me.
(_Blundering blindly to door, left._) Oh, go, go, all of you. I want to
be alone.

[_The door bell has been steadily ringing. Peter goes off left, and
bangs the door behind him._

Glad. Will you let my brother in, Mrs. Garside?

[_Mrs. Garside goes right, and opens door, goes through and lets Fred.

Fred, (_to Gladys_). Thought you'd gone to sleep. (_Seeing Jones._)
Hello! Our friend of the election.

Glad, (_impatiently_). Never mind these men. Come away.

Fred. Well, don't snap a fellow's head off. (_Ned and Jones quietly go
out right._) Sorry I've been so long, only-----

Glad. It doesn't matter. (_Raising her voice, looking left_). Mr.
Garside's been an entertainment in himself.

Fred, (_crossing_). Where is he? In there?

Glad, (_crossing to right door_). Oh, will you come?

Fred. Must do the decent by our Member, you know.

Glad. He's not our Member, he's resigned.

Fred. Good Lord! Why?

Glad. Oh, can't you see we're not wanted here?

Fred. (_crossing towards her_). All right. Don't get vicious. Nothing to
lose your temper over, is it?

Glad. I've lost more than my temper. I've lost a chance.... Oh, never
mind. What's the next train for Midlandton?

Fred. Train? What you want's some supper. We've two more days of town.

Glad. Yes. We'll eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. You're
standing me champagne to-night, Freddie.

[_She goes out right. Fred, looks after her, puzzled, crosses, and
shakes Mrs. Garside's limp hand._

Fred. Good night, Mrs. Garside.

[_He follows Gladys. Mrs. Garside goes right, the outer door closes, she
turns light off in the hall and re-enters, closing the door behind her.
Peter reenters left, composed._

Peter. Have they all gone?

Mrs. G. Yes. (_Pathetically puzzled._) What does it all mean, Peter?

Peter. Mean? Ruin. My career's blasted. (_Sits at table, turning chair
towards her._)

Mrs. G. But why, Peter? I can't understand it. I----

Peter. Why? Because I was too successful. Jealousy. That's it. They
do nothing themselves, but they won't give young blood a chance.
Mediocrity's their motto. They've no use for brains. So I'm kicked out.

Mrs. G. Don't take on about it, deary. They'll find they can't do
without you.

Peter. You'd always faith, hadn't you, mother? (_Turning to table and
putting his head on his hands._) But I've fallen like Lucifer, never to
rise again.

Mrs. G. (_struck with a new delightful thought, hesitating to utter
it_). Peter, it means--it means----

Peter (_not turning_). What?

Mrs. G. (_standing centre_). Oh, I'm so glad.

Peter (_leaping up angrily, and turning on her_). Glad!

Mrs. G. I've been so unhappy here. I shall be glad to be in Midlandton

Peter (_disgustedly_). Midlandton! (_Shuddering._) Those grimy streets
reeking of poverty.

Mrs. G. (_reproachfully_). Peter! Midlandton is home.

[_She gives way a little. Peter stands centre._

Peter. Yes. After all, why not? The wounded lion crawls to its lair to
die. (_Pause, looking straight out._) I wonder. Am I a lion or only an
ass braying in a lion's skin?



_Scene as Act I, except that the room has a bareness indicative of a
recent removal. The bookcase is on the floor instead of being fastened
to the wall, and no pictures are hung._

_Mrs. Garside, dressed as Act I, sits dejectedly in the rocking-chair.
A knock at the door, centre. Mrs. Garside sighs heavily, rouses herself
slowly, crosses and opens door. Denis O'Callagan is on the doorstep. The
blind is drawn. One incandescent light._


O'Cal. May I come in, Mrs. Garside?

Mrs. G. And welcome, Mr. O'Callagan.

[_He enters. She closes door._

O'Cal. (_coming centre, in front of table, glancing upwards_). Still the

Mrs. G. (_standing centre, gloomily_). Oh, yes. He doesn't seem to care
for anything.

O'Cal. I can hear him moving about upstairs.

Mrs. G. (_sitting left of table, as if too weary to stand_). I never
hear anything else. It's driving me mad. Up and down, up and down, all
day long, and all night too, till he drops because he's too tired to put
one foot before the other. It's like a wild beast in a cage.

O'Cal. You've not got him to go out yet?

Mrs. G. Nor look like doing till he's carried out feet foremost. He says
he'll never show his face in Midlandton again. I've done all the work.
Getting the furniture out of store and everything. Peter didn't raise a

O'Cal. You dropped lucky finding the old house empty.

Mrs. G. I don't know if I did. It reminds him. Won't take his food now.
That's the latest. Not that I've much to give him. Heaven knows where
it'll end. We with no money coming in and nearly every penny as we had
gone to pay his debts in London and fetch us here. Workhouse next, I

O'Cal. (_patting her shoulder encouragingly_). Let you not be talking
like that, Mrs. Garside. There's no call to despair. Peter's got to be

Mrs. G. Haven't we tried and failed? If you fancy you know the way to do
it I'll be obliged by your telling me.

O'Cal. Oh, we've not tried them all yet.

Mrs. G. (_vigorously_). Then for God's sake go up to him and try.

O'Cal. (_without moving_). Sure he's not himself at all.

Mrs. G. (_rising, with more force in her voice_). Denis O'Callagan, if
you've a plan to rouse my poor boy I've told you to go upstairs and try
it on him. If you've come to stand there like a log and tell me what
I've known this week and more, there's my door, and the sooner you put
your ugly face outside it the better you'll please me.

O'Cal. (_giving way a little_). I come to tell you of the cure we will
be putting on him. I'm thinking it won't be to your taste and you short
tempered with your trouble.

Mrs. G. Do you think I care what it is so it puts an end to this?

O'Cal. Is that the truth you're telling me?

Mrs. G. Truth! Bless the man. I'm at the bitter end.

O'Cal. (_briskly_). Then I'll be stepping out and bringing out my cure.
I didn't fetch her in because I knew you quarrelled with her. (_He
reaches the door and puts his hand to the latch._)

Mrs. G. Stop! Do you mean Margaret Shaweross?

O'Cal. Yes. (_He takes a step towards table. They speak across it._)

Mrs. G. That woman doesn't cross my threshold.

O'Cal. The sight of her _'_ull bring the life back into Peter.

Mrs. G. No.

O'Cal. You said you wouldn't care what I did.

Mrs. G. I didn't know you meant her.

O'Cal. (_coming round table_). No, and you called me all the names you
could lay your tongue to when I came in last week.

Mrs. G. I thought you one of the lot that ruined Peter. I've told you
I'm sorry for what I said.

O'Cal. Yes. You see it now. Why won't you see Miss Shaweross is a friend
as well?

Mrs. G. (_sullenly_). She's a woman.

O'Cal. And can't you be mistaken about a woman just as much as a man?

Mrs. G. She never did Peter any good. She always thought too little of

O'Cal. (_pleadingly_). Give her a chance, Mrs. Garside, she loves him.

Mrs. G. She'd a queer way of showing it, then.

O'Cal. She loves him.

Mrs. G. (_hotly_). And don't I love him? If love's all he wants to put
him right, won't his mother----

O'Cal. There's different kinds of love. Let her try hers.

Mrs. G. (_grimly_). Yes. Let her try.

O'Cal. (_moving eagerly_). May I?

Mrs. G. Bring her in.

[_O'Callagan goes to door, then turns suddenly suspicious._

O'Cal. You're not going to be rude to her?

Mrs. G. I'm going to give her her chance fair and square. Loves him,
does she? We'll see if her love's good enough to do what my love can't,
and I'll own I'm wrong about her. She'll get no second chance.

O'Cal. She'll need none, neither.

Mrs. G. Well, we'll see. Open the door and call her in.

[_O'Callagan opens door and calls off._

O'Cal. Will you come in, Miss Shawcross?

[_Enter Margaret in a plain winter costume with a cheap fur round her

O'Cal. (_in her ear as she passes him_). It's all right.

[_He closes door, Margaret crosses to Mrs. Garside._

Mar. (_anxiously--waiving ceremony_). How is he, Mrs. Garside?

Mrs. G. (_turning from her to O'Callagan_). Bring him down, Denis,
you know the way. (_O'Callagan crosses and exit r. Mrs. Garside
faces Margaret._) We'll understand each other first. You're here on
sufferance. I've let you in same as I would a doctor, because O'Callagan
thinks there's a chance you'll cure Peter. We're strangers till you've
done it.

Mar. I understand. Thank you for letting me come. How is he?

Mrs. G. He's like to die because he doesn't want to live.

[_Enter r., O'Callagan and Peter, whose spectacular disarray is
nicely calculated. Physically he appears normal, but his ruffled hair,
cross-buttoned waistcoat unbuttoned collar and crooked black tie give
the appearance of hopeless abandon. He enters wearily, forgetting
himself for a moment on seeing Margaret and speaking vigorously._

Peter. You here! (_Turns as if to go back, but O'Callagan closes the
door quickly._) Why didn't you tell me, Denis?

Mar. (_stepping forward_). Don't go. I've come to see you, Peter.

Peter. I'm not on exhibition. What have you come for? To gloat over me,
to see for yourself how well you prophesied when you told me I should
fail. (_He turns his back on her, only to face O'Callagan._)

O'Cal. I'm telling you you're not a failure. It's just a temporary check
in your career you've had.

Peter (_sullenly_). My career's ended.

[_Mrs. Garside sits in the rocking-chair, aloof, watching._

Mar. At twenty-six, Peter?

Peter (_turning_). That's my tragedy. Waste. At twenty-six I'm looking
backward on a closed account. The future's blank--all the brilliant
fruitful years I might have lived.

Mar. That you _will_ live, Peter.

Peter (_sitting left of table, elbows on table and head in hands_). Oh,
what's the use of that? I'm finished. Out, middle stump. And there's no
second innings in life.

O'Cal. Isn't there? Don't the people need you just as much as ever?

Peter (_without turning to him_). The people have no use for broken
idols, Denis.

Mar. But _we_ need you, Peter.

Peter (_looking up_). Who are we?

Mar. Your own people.

Peter. You! You never believed in me.

Mar. I always thought you'd the wrong temperament for Parliament.

Peter. You knew me for the rotten failure that I am. I congratulate you
on your perspicacity.

Mar. (_shaking her head_). I'm not proud of it. What do you propose to

Peter. I don't propose to do anything. (_Resuming the hopeless
attitude_). I've shot my bolt. I'm a man with a past, an ex-M.P.,

O'Cal. (_with conviction_). You're a blazing idiot.

Peter. I quite agree.

O'Cal. You're not. You know you're not. I'm only saying it to rouse you.

Peter. You'll say nothing that I won't agree with.

O'Cal. All right. You've a big future before you.

Peter. I can't agree to that.

O'Cal. You have. You're going to----

Peter. I'm going to take it lying down, Denis, and that's all there is
to it.

Mar. That's a pretty mean thing to say, Peter.

Peter. Oh, taunts don't sting me now. I've reached the further side of

Mar. (_sitting at table, centre, leaning on it very close to Peter, and
speaking without a trace of sympathy_). Peter, don't you think you've
made sufficient demonstration of your grief?

Peter. Demonstration?

Mar. We're all tremendously impressed. You've thoroughly alarmed
us. That's what you wanted, wasn't it? (_Peter meets her eye
questioningly._) To prove to yourself that after all you're still of
consequence to somebody. It's quite true, Peter. We're not content to
watch you sulk to death. You've made your big effect. For a week you've
had the joy of fostering your wound, keeping it open for all the world
to see how hardly you've been hit, but it's time you healed it now.

Peter (_hiding his head on the table_). Misunderstood!

Mar. Misunderstood? (_Rising and tapping the table._) Or found out,
Peter? Which?

Peter (_pitiably turning, still sitting, to Mrs. Garside_). Mother, you
let these people in. Are you going to sit there and let them bully a
sick man?

Mar. (_admiringly_). That's a good pose, Peter. The great, strong,
self-willed man brought down to crying to his mammie.

Peter (_in an agonised shriek_). Mother!

Mrs. G. (_firmly_). I'm not going to interfere. I promised Margaret her
own way.

Peter. But----

Mrs. G. (_interrupting, dryly_). Besides, I think there may be something
in it.

[_Peter hides his face again with a deep "Oh!"_

O'Cal. (_putting his hand on Peter's shoulder_). Be a man, Peter.

Peter (_looking up at him_). Yes, it's all very well for you to talk.
You with your beastly robust health. I'm an invalid.

Mar. I assure you, you're not looking half so feeble as you did. You're
improving under treatment.

Peter. Then I must thrive on torture.

Mar. Something's doing you good. You're not the woebegone catastrophe
you were.

Peter (_rising_). I won't tolerate this.

Mar. You prefer to be a catastrophe, in fact?

Peter (_moving right_). I want to be left alone. I'm going to my
bedroom. You can't follow me there.

Mar. Oh, you'll not escape that way. I don't in the least mind invading
your bedroom. A doctor has privileges.

Peter. All right. I'll go out, then. Mother, where's my hat?

Mar. Splendid. Fresh air will do you good.

Peter. I won't go out. They'll mock me in the streets.

Mar. Then you prefer my medicine? I'll go on dosing you.

Peter (_sitting centre, behind table, covering face_). I'll close my
eyes and stop my ears.

Mar. (_taking her hat off_). The night is young. (_She puts her hat on
the bookcase and her fur on it._)

Peter (_turning and watching her_). Oh! So it's to be a trial of
strength, is it?

Mar. Just as you like. As I'm strong and you're weak, I ought to win.

Peter. We'll see if I'm weak.

Mar. Of course, I've only your word for it.

[_Margaret takes chair from wall, right, and puts it before fire._

Peter. Weak as I am, I'm strong enough to tire you out. (_Folding his

Mar. I don't go to work till nine in the morning. (_Sitting on her
chair._) You don't mind my making myself comfortable for the night, Mrs.

Mrs. G. I've told you I'm not interfering, Margaret. You can do as you

Mar. Denis, go home. I want to be alone with Peter.

Peter. Stay where you are, Denis. Don't leave me alone with her.

O'Cal. Don't! But I will and sharp too, for it's wishing you a quick
recovery I am, and the more you hate your medicine the better it is for
you. Good night.

[_Exit O'Callagan, l._

Mar. Now, Peter, I'm going to talk to you.

Mrs. G. I'll take myself out of your way. (_Going r._)

Peter. Mother! You too! Haven't I a friend in the world?

Mrs. G. You wouldn't listen to me. It's her turn how. Call me if you
want me, Margaret.

[_Exit Mrs. Garside, r._

Peter (_sitting c., stopping his ears_). I shan't listen.

Mar. (_sitting and making herself ostentatiously comfortable in the
rocking-chair, poking fire_). Oh, take your time. I'm quite comfortable.
(_She leans back humming "Home, Sweet Home"_)

Peter (_unstopping his ears_). What?

Mar. Oh, could you hear? You're such a bad listener as a rule. You much
prefer to talk.

Peter (_folding his arms_). My talking days are past. I'll be as mute as
a fish. Go on. Say what you like. I'll stand it all.

Mar. (_rising and looking down on him_). Peter, Peter, how young you

Peter (_rising excitedly_). Young! I'm not young.

Mar. I thought you were going to be silent.

Peter (_walking up and down_). Young! As if youth had anything to do
with arithmetic and the number of one's years. I'm old in suffering and
experience. I'm an old, old man.

Mar. (_standing c. against table, watching_). When you sow wild oats
that old feeling is usually part of the crop.

Peter (_hotly_). I haven't sown wild oats. I'm not that sort of man.
(_Hesitating._) Unless you mean----

Mar. I didn't, but I might have done.

Peter (_sitting, sullenly_). I wish there were no such things as women
in the world!

Mar. The bi-sexual system has its disadvantages. But we'll forget Miss
Mottram, Peter. That was a private indiscretion. You sowed your wild
oats publicly in the fierce light that beats upon a politician. That was
the arrogance of youth.

Peter. I'm not so young as you.

Mar. No. Youth is a gift we both possess. I don't intend to waste mine,

Peter. No? Well, you've me before you as an awful warning. I'm a living
cautionary tale. I'm---- O, what's the good of talking?

Mar. Here's a change of front! You used to tell me talking was the
finest thing you knew.

Peter. Margaret, have you no reverence at all?

Mar. For talking?

Peter. For human suffering. You're mocking at my life's tragedy. You
hummed a tune just now you must have known was agony to me. My home in
Midlandton! It's like living in an ashpit.

Mar. Oh, no, it's not, and if it is, the microbes can be happy in their

Peter (_solemnly_). I shall not know happiness again.

Mar. Oh, need you keep it up with me, Peter?

Peter (_surprised_). Keep what up?

Mar. The pose. You've had your fun with us.

Peter. Fun!

Mar. You've brought us to your feet. We've all come: all of us who care.

Peter. Care? What do you care for me? Why should you care for a broken
man, a derelict, one of the legion of the lost, a rotten----

Mar. (_vigorously_). Will you stop embroidering? Do you think I've come
to listen to all the pretty phrases you've spent a week inventing about

Peter. Heaven knows what you came for.

Mar. You know as well as Heaven does.

Peter. Do I? But it's---- So much has happened since. That's all so long

Mar. Less than a year, Peter.

Peter. A year! What's a year! From poverty to Parliament, from
Parliament to hell.

Mar. Still spinning phrases, Peter.

Peter (_sincerely_). I'm a pauper, Margaret. That's not a phrase, it's a

Mar. Is there no work to be done in the world?

Peter. A man like me wants something else than bread to work for. I had
a career once, it's gone today.

Mar. Thank God, it is.

Peter. Yes, if you like, thank God for it. It deserved to go. But
nothing's left worth living for.

Mar. I'll give you that.

Peter. What?

Mar. The object, Peter. Don't say again you don't know why I came.

Peter. Yes, Margaret, I know.

Mar. Why not admit it, then?

Peter. Because I daren't. A man who's fallen as I fell deserves no
second ehanee. I've been a silly fool, but it won't mend that to be a
criminal fool.

Mar. What do you mean by being a criminal fool?

Peter. I might have acted as I meant to act when next I saw you.

Mar. How did you mean to act?

Peter. I meant to ask forgiveness on my knees for all the things I said
to you. Up in my room I'd come to see it all, sec what a swine I'd been,
how right you were, how much you knew me better than I knew myself. I
thought in London that I'd met the worst. I thought my bitterest hour
was past. But worst and bitterest of all was when I realised all that
I'd done to you, all that that doing made me miss.

Mar. (_hardly_). Then when I came you didn't do as you intended.

Peter. Margaret, I saw you and I felt ashamed. It's one thing to decide
within one's mind to do a thing, but quite another thing to do it in
the flesh. I saw you, saw the suffering in your face and knew that I had
caused it all. I felt ashamed to speak.

Mar. Ashamed to ask forgiveness? Ashamed to carry out your plan?

Peter. We weren't alone. There were others there.

Mar. Just pride, in fact. You were too proud to ask. And when the others

Peter. Oh, yes. Yes. Pride again. Then, too, until----

Mar. Till when? You've not asked yet.

Peter. Margaret, am I worth while forgiving?

Mar. Peter, when your mother let me come, I came.

Peter. Yes!

Mar. So I thought it worth while.

Peter. Margaret, you are so beautiful, and I----

Mar. Listen to me, Peter. You tell me I am beautiful. You told me I am
young. I am, but I'm a year older than I was twelve months ago. Twelve
months ago, when you----

Peter. Yes. I know.

Mar. It's been a crowded year for you. (_Gesture from Peter._) Too
crowded, yes, but there was glamour in it all. You've paid a price, but
you've known the flavour of success. You've had your fun. I've spent
my year in Midlandton--(_Peter shudders_)--a plaee where one can live,
Peter. Oh, yes, one can. But I've been lonely here. A year's dropped
from me sadly, slowly. I've kept myself alive and that, the daily round,
is all my history, while you--well, never mind. The past is past. We're
where we were a year ago, a little older, just a little less in love
with life, but still we're here, Peter. You and I, just as we were

Peter. Just as we were?

Mar. Why not? Love understands. We're both a little scarred. We both
need picking up and making whole. We need each other, Peter.

Peter. You need me! Margaret, you're not just putting it that way

Mar. Because it's true. We need each other badly.

Peter (_taking her_). Margaret!

Mar. So you will have me, Peter?

Peter. I think I always loved you, Margaret. Throughout the madness of
my pride, behind it all, I think I never quite forgot the great
reality of you. I've been ambition's drunkard, but behind the mist of
self-deluded dream, the light shone dimly though. London brought me no

Mar. I'll bring you peace.

Peter. I think you will. (_From her._) Oh, but it's madness, madness,
Margaret. What are we thinking of?

Mar. Our happiness.

Peter. Yes, for a moment we've been happy fools. Now I'm awake.

Mar. And so?

Peter. And so good-bye.

Mar. Indeed?

Peter. Oh, would to God, it needn't be. But here I am, an outcast,

Mar. (_quickly_). No phrases, Peter.

Peter. I'm a man without a job, Margaret. I can't keep myself, let alone
anyone else.

Mar. Have you tried?

Peter. I've thought of ways. Scraps of journalism, perhaps. I might
live that way for a time. I'm a notorious person. They'll take my stuff
until--my--my escapade's forgotten. Then they'll drop me.

Mar. Excellent reasons for not being a journalist.

Peter. I'm fit for nothing else. I thought I had supporters, friends
who'd rally round when the official party sent me to the rightabout.
I've waited there a week. I have no friends.

Mar. You don't need friends. You want an employer, and I thought you
were a skilled mechanic.

Peter. Yes. As a matter of fact I did have a vague idea of going in for

Mar. Oh, Peter, Peter, still the high flights!

Peter (_earnestly_). There's money in it, Margaret.

Mar. For the mechanic?

Peter. I shouldn't be a mechanic long. A man of original mind like me is
bound to be ahead of the crowd. I've to keep moving fast. I can't wait
for the mob to catch me up. Yes, there's something in that aeroplane

Mar. There is. Fame. Applause. Incense. Everything that ruined you

Peter. You can't be famous without risk.

Mar. Why be famous?

Peter. That's your doing. You wakened my ambitions. They're there now,
ineradically fixed, and if they weren't there for myself, they would be
there for you.

Mar. For me? I don't want them, Peter. Fight them down. Be humble.

Peter. I'm not built for humility.

Mar. Drop your ambition, Peter. You will feel like Christian when he
lost his pack.

Peter. What do you want me to do?

Mar. There is always room for you at your old place.

Peter. Back to the mechanic's bench. In Midlandton, where everybody
knows! That's humble pie with a vengeance.

Mar. A new beginning, Peter.

Peter. There's no such thing. In life, we pay.

Mar. We'll pay together then.

Peter. I can't go back.

Mar. A man can do things for his woman, Peter, when he can't do them for

Peter. You want me to go back?

Mar. Yes, Peter, back to the starting-place.

Peter. It's a bitter pill.

Mar. But won't you swallow it--for me? For my sake, Peter.

Peter. Yes, Margaret, you've won. I'll go back if they'll have me.

Mar. Thank you, Peter.

Peter. Don't thank me, dear. It's----

Mar. Why not? It means I'm going to have my heart's desire.

Peter. What's that?

Mar. Just you.

Peter. Margaret!

Mar. Yes, Peter.

Peter. Are you happy?

Mar. Yes.

Peter. Yes? Only yes? When I'm almost afraid to be so happy, when----

Mar. Yes, Peter, when you are down, you are very, very down, and when
you're up you are up----

Peter. That's the way with all geniuses forgot. I'm not a----

Mar. Never mind. You're genius enough for me. Only, we'll stop telling
other people about it, eh, Peter? Now let's go to your mother.

[_They move r. together._


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